Monday, November 30, 2009

Archaic Torso of Apollo - by Rainer Maria Rilke


*
We cannot know his legendary head
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast’s fur:

would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.

Artist: Filippo Lauri
Title: King Midas Judging The Musical Contest Between Apollo And Pan


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Afghan security forces get 40% pay hike

29 November 2009
By Yara Bayoumy in Kabul

AFGHANISTAN yesterday increased the pay of police and soldiers by nearly 40 per cent as Western countries aimed to increase the size and quality of Afghan security forces so their own troops can go home.

Interior Minister Hanif Atmar said monthly salaries would increase by $45 to about $165 for a new recruit. At present, there are about 95,000 Afghan soldiers and 93,000 police – a fraction of the number needed to fight the Taleban.

Atmar said: "We have an Afghanistan that will be able to defend itself with its own national security forces."

Afghanistan depends on funds from the US and other Western countries for large budgetary expenses, such as military and police salaries.

The commander of US and Nato troops in Afghanistan wants the numbers of Afghan security forces dramatically increased, perhaps to as many as 240,000 soldiers and 160,000 police – goals that will take years to achieve.

A new Nato training mission is working to expand the Afghan army to 134,000 soldiers by October 2010. In addition to increasing the numbers, the quality of the forces also needs to be improved, especially the police force, which is plagued by corruption, desertion and high turnover.

Under the new pay scale, police officers will be eligible for pay increases throughout their careers, and those serving in dangerous areas will earn a bonus, the statement said.

"This will help improve recruiting, increase retention of those professionals in the force today, and it will also help reduce attrition," US Lieutenant-General William Caldwell, commander of the Nato training mission, said in the statement. Gross domestic product per person is about $300 per year in Afghanistan, or $25 a month.

US President Barack Obama is expected to announce next week a strategy that involves sending tens of thousands of extra troops to Afghanistan to quell a growing Taleban insurgency.

A top priority for Obama's plan is to accelerate the training of Afghan security forces to take over responsibility from US and Nato troops.

Afghan president Hamid Karzai said Afghans would be able to take over security of the country in five years

US backs SHAM Honduran election: Zelaya supporters have sustained wounds in confrontations with the police and many others have been detained

11/29




Police fire tear gas to break up a protest in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, November 29.



Police fired tear gas and water cannons at supporters of deposed President Manuel Zelaya as polling was underway during the Honduran election.

Some Zelaya supporters have sustained wounds in confrontations with the police and many others have been detained.

Reports say the police is using a heavy hand in controlling the hundreds of demonstrators in the northern city of San Pedro Sula who have boycotted Sunday's post-coup presidential election.

The protesters called for Zelaya's return to power. He has been holed up in the Brazilian Embassy in the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa since secretly returning to the country in September.

Zelaya has dismissed the country's presidential election as an “electoral farce” and has criticized the United States for supporting the vote.

The country's de facto leaders hope the election will turn a page on the country's five-month crisis, sparked by a June 28 coup. But the military clampdown, led by Roberto Micheletti, has been severely criticized by human rights groups.

The two leading candidates, Porfirio Lobo and Elvin Santos, two prosperous businessmen from the political old guard, are from right-wing parties that have traded the leadership of Honduras for years and have close ties to the military.

Hondurans remain bitterly divided by the coup, which was the first in Central America for more than 20 years.

FTP/HGL

Indymedia.us and the EFF successfully fight back against bogus FBI subpoena

Indymedia.us is happy to announce that we've managed, after nearly a year of legal action on our behalf by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), to successfully fight back against a bogus subpoena request issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in conjunction with a grand jury investigation. The request demanded we turn over all IP address logs for a day in June of 2008 - not only did Indymedia.us object to this blatantly illegitimate and overly broad request, but, per accepted Indymedia best practices, we do not keep such logs in the first place, in order to maximally ensure the privacy of our site users. Also troubling was the fact that the indymedia.us sysadmin who received the subpoena was also bound by its gag order provision, making her unable to discuss the legal issue with the broader network of collectives cooperating on the indymedia.us site. We're happy that the EFF was ultimately able to get this demand for silence shown to be illegitimate as well --- one can only wonder how many ISPs silently capitulate to similarly broad and unconstitutional requests.

More information: From EFF's Secret Files: Anatomy of a Bogus Subpoena --- How the Government Secretly Demanded the IP Address of Every Visitor to Political News Site Indymedia.us | Interview with Indymedia sys admin Kristina Clair | Interview with EFF lawyer Kevin Bankston | List of previous incidents of legal repression of Indymedia centers | US-Behörde wollte illegal an Nutzerdaten von indymedia.us gelangen


homepage:: http://indymedia.us


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Cindy & Ralph

Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox Blog
Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox
Nov. 27, 2009
Listen:




On the Supposed “Silence” of the Anti-war Movement by Ed Ciaccio

From: http://dandelionsalad.wordpress.com

November 27, 2009

Eight is (More Than) Enough: End the Wars!

We are not silent.

We have never been silent.

Our outrage, far from silent, continues.

That the corporate/warmonger media refuse to report the full extent of our protests, phone calls, Congressional visits, letters, emails, postcards, vigils, marches, demonstrations, civil disobedience, and fasts does NOT mean these acts of resistance have not taken place; only that they have been conveniently ignored by the ruling class’s main propaganda institution. If a protest takes place but is not reported, does that mean it didn’t happen?

Of course, it has always been in the best interests of the ruling class to minimize any opposition to their policies, and the corporate media, long ago abandoning its responsible, necessary role in a democracy of helping to keep citizens well-informed, are only too willing to go along with ignoring any true reporting which may present an unsettling view of reality to “consumers.” Michael Jackson’s death? A full week of coverage. The “balloon boy” hoax? Days of coverage. Casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan? A few seconds if they are U.S. or NATO; even less if they are Iraqi or Afghani civilians.

Dedicated strictly to making mega-profits using/abusing OUR public airwaves (so generously allowed by Democratic and Republican administrations, in spite of our protests), the last thing corporate media want is an accurately-informed citizenry. They fear that, if we were ever allowed to glimpse the truth about the serious, destructive, anti-democratic deceptions perpetrated upon us to keep the ruling class in power, the streets may be filled with angry citizens demanding true justice and democracy. After 45 years of activism in a culture which is nearly 100% dedicated to, as Neil Postman warned us, “amusing ourselves to death,” I’m no longer persuaded that the streets would be filled, especially if there’s a football game or “American Idol” show on TV that day. More importantly, so many of us are struggling with unemployment, under-employment, crushing mortgage payments and property taxes and health care bills and credit card payments, or even foreclosures, that we have less and less time and energy to be active citizens, all to the continued delight of, and advantage to, the ruling class and its propagandist media.

As for President Barack Obama, he has neither surprised nor disappointed many of us in the movement because, to so many of us, Obama has never been “our man”. Those of us who paid close attention to Obama’s voting record did NOT support him. Instead, many of us voted for candidates such as the Green Party’s Cynthia McKinney, who truly represented us, and still does.

Today, more and more progressives, liberals, independents, and former Obama supporters are finally waking up as the scales fall from their eyes and they finally begin to see Obama, and most Democrats, clearly for the first time. Gore Vidal told us long ago that the United States has one major political party, the property party, with two right wings. The reality is bitter, but must, finally, be faced: the warmongering ruling class will not allow anyone near such a high office who hasn’t been thoroughly vetted by them to assure their continued control of our economy, media, health care, and national “security” (a.k.a. fear-mongering, war-making) apparatus. The U.S. National Security State, firmly established by Democratic President Harry Truman in 1947, continues to grind on unrelentingly, growing more powerful and insane every day.

The last nail in the coffin of our constitutional republic, hardly ever a true democracy to begin with, was pounded in when the five Republican fascist (NOT “conservative”) Supreme Court “Justices” unconstitutionally selected George W. Bush as President in December, 2000, and Al Gore and most other Democrats meekly went along with that bloodless coup d’état .

Everything that has happened since then has been nearly inevitable, including Obama’s continuation and worsening of the Bush/Cheney unconstitutional policies and illegal wars/occupations, if not the expansion of them. His continuation of warmonger Bush’s “Defense” Secretary Robert Gates in office; increase of the War Budget (Federal welfare for war profiteers) by 4% more than Bush’s previous record high; Afghan war/occupation escalation; enlargement of the secretive “Guantanamo East” torture prison at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan; continuation of the Clinton/Bush renditions as well as the Bush/Cheney Patriot Act and Military Commissions; refusal to sign the treaty banning land mines; continued bailout of the Wall Street Banksters; more taxpayer welfare for the Health Insurance/ Big Pharma parasites under the guise of “health care reform”; and failure to do anything meaningful or significant about global warming/climate chaos are no surprise to many of us who have been clear-eyed all along. The true surprise would have been Obama challenging any of these authoritarian, predatory/corporate-capitalist policies.

Obama’s smooth, eloquent rhetoric has, thankfully, begun to wear thin even to many of his former supporters who are painfully, reluctantly learning the lesson which must always be applied to all leaders: pay close attention to what they do, not to what they say.

Obama has done very little to significantly make the U.S. into a more fair and just, law-abiding state truly carrying out policies consistent with respect for human rights and international law. Contrary to the self-deluded who still claim that he has “only” been in office 11 months, in reality, he has had more than enough time to set our nation on a truly more moral course (ask those still dying or being maimed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Colombia, for starters). To begin with, his refusal to appoint a prosecutor for the many war crimes of the Bush/Cheney junta signaled Obama’s willingness to ignore Constitutional and international laws and be complicit in those crimes as an accessory after the fact. His continuation of the illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, spreading to Pakistan, made him an active participation in those war crimes. His support for expansion of the U.S. global military empire into Honduras, Colombia, Africa, the Republic of Georgia, Bulgaria, and Romania is merely more evidence of his being well-vetted by the Imperial U.S. Ruling Class to be their latest attractive, distracting figurehead.

What can we do to change a morally corrupt political-economic system completely controlled by “lawmakers” who benefit handsomely by that corrupt status quo and who, with very few exceptions, will always fiercely resist any significant and necessary systemic changes, paying real attention to us only when they want our votes? What can rescue a culture devoted nearly mindlessly to “amusing itself to death” (or, at least, to complete ignorance and distraction)? I honestly do not know. “Hope” is nice, but is too often itself a distraction, if not a delusion.

What we do have, however, is even more valuable: determination.

We do not intend to stop our opposition to the inhumane, anti-democratic U.S. Empire for Global Domination, no matter whose face is the front man/woman for it. Obama’s arrogant, ultimately disastrous escalation of the U.S./NATO war on the people of Afghanistan, a people among the poorest on earth and who have known nothing but war and occupation for more than 30 years, ignores not only opposition to that war/occupation by a majority of Americans, but also the lessons of the history of previous empires doomed in Afghanistan, and of our own history in Vietnam.

Demonstrations and protests against Obama’s Afghan war escalation will occur Sunday, Nov. 29, Mon. Nov. 30, Tues. Dec. 1, and Wed. Dec. 2, throughout the U.S.

They will continue as long as warmongers, corporate or otherwise, run our government and rule our nation.

Regardless of being ignored by corporate media, our outrage at injustice and violence here and abroad, especially the U.S. state/corporate-inflicted violence of war (war is terrorism with a much bigger budget) and anthropogenic climate chaos, will not cease.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Amy Goodman grilled at Canada border crossing


Officials demanded to know what she would say publicly about 2010 Olympics
U.S. broadcaster and author Amy Goodman said she is concerned a journalist would have to undergo an interrogation while trying to enter Canada.
U.S. broadcaster and author Amy Goodman said she is concerned a journalist would have to undergo an interrogation while trying to enter Canada.
(CBC)


U.S. journalist Amy Goodman said she was stopped at a Canadian border crossing south of Vancouver on Wednesday and questioned for 90 minutes by authorities concerned she was coming to Canada to speak against the Olympics.

Goodman says Canadian Border Services Agency officials ultimately allowed her to enter Canada but returned her passport with a document demanding she leave the country within 48 hours.

Goodman, 52, known for her views opposing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, told CBC News on Thursday that Canadian border agents asked her repeatedly what subjects she would cover at scheduled speaking engagements in Vancouver and Victoria.
'You're saying you're not talking about the Olympics?'—Canadian border agent
Goodman said she told them she planned to speak about the debate over U.S. health care reform and the wars in Asia.

After much questioning, Goodman said the officials finally asked if she would be speaking about the 2010 Olympics.

"He made it clear by saying, 'What about the Olympics?'" said Goodman. "And I said, 'You mean when President Obama went to Copenhagen to push for the Olympics in Chicago?'"
"He said, 'No. I am talking about the Olympics here in 2010.' I said, 'Oh I hadn't thought of that,'" said Goodman.

"He said, 'You're saying you're not talking about the Olympics?'"

"He was clearly incredulous that I wasn't going to be talking about the Olympics. He didn't believe me," Goodman said.

The CBSA declined comment on the incident Thursday.

Searched car, computer and notes

Goodman said her car was searched and the officials demanded to look at her notes and her computer.

Goodman is best known as the principal host of Democracy Now, a U.S. syndicated radio broadcast.

She was coming to Canada as part of a tour to promote a new book, Breaking The Sound Barrier.

"I am deeply concerned that as a journalist I would be flagged and that the concern – the major concern – was the content of my speech," said Goodman.

Denmark approves new police powers ahead of Copenhagen

11/26

Controversial legislation gives police sweeping powers of 'pre-emptive' arrest and extends custodial sentences for acts of civil disobedience.

The Danish parliament today passed legislation which will give police sweeping powers of "pre-emptive" arrest and extend custodial sentences for acts of civil disobedience. The "deeply worrying" law comes ahead of the UN climate talks which start on 7 December and are expected to attract thousands of activists from next week.

Under the new powers, Danish police will be able to detain people for up to 12 hours whom they suspect might break the law in the near future. Protesters could also be jailed for 40 days under the hurriedly drafted legislation dubbed by activists as the "turmoil and riot" law. The law was first announced on 18 October.
The Danish ministry of justice said that the new powers of "pre-emptive" detention would increase from 6 to 12 hours and apply to international activists. If protesters are charged with hindering the police, the penalty will increase from a fine to 40 days in prison. Protesters can also be fined an increased amount of 5,000 krona (671 Euros) for breach of the peace, disorderly behaviour and remaining after the police have broken up a demonstration.

The Danish police also separately issued a statement in August (pdf) applying new rules and regulations for protests at the climate conference, warning that "gatherings that may disturb the public order must not take place".

Earlier this month, the Guardian published a letter by environmental activists that described the new law as "deeply worrying" and called for the Danish government to uphold their right to legitimate protest.

Tannie Nyboe, a spokewoman from campaigning group Climate Justice Action in Denmark, said the new law was designed to control civil disobedience during the summit. "These laws are a big restraint in people's freedom of speech and it will increase the police repression for anyone coming to Copenhagen to protest.

Denmark normally boasts of how open and democratic a country we are. With this law we can't boast about this anymore.

"It will increase the repression of any protester or activist coming to Copenhagen. This law creates an image of anyone concerned about climate change being a criminal, which will of course also influence the general treatment of any activist who comes into contact with the police or other authorities."

A Danish justice ministry confirmed that the laws had been passed today and would come into effect before the climate conference starts on 7 December.

Day After Thanksgiving Observance: Native American Heritage Day

by: StuartH


Native American Heritage Day
Friday, the day after Thanksgiving

Most people aren't aware of this, but last June, President Obama signed into law a joint resolution of the House and Senate, sponsored by Rep. Baca of California and Sen. Inouye of Hawaii, naming the Friday after Thanksgiving Native American Heritage Day, "to honor the achievements and contributions of Native Americans to the United States." 

The general truth, that we little understand the implications of what we celebrate, and that we should become more aware of our history and how others view it, is very appropriate to carry in our thoughts on this supposedly contemplative occasion.

Day After Thanksgiving Observance: Native American Heritage Day
My family origins are with an ancestor who came over from England in 1680.  Nearly a century later, a descendant of his fought in the American Revolution.  My great grandfather learned a portable trade growing up in Litchfield, Connecticut, as a wheelwright, and made it all the way West - to Albion, NY.  Despite the long history of my family in America, I largely am an expert in the ignorance of Mainstream America in this subject area, beyond the Disneyfied bubble many of us have lived in. I feel I should comment from my attempts to overcome this.  '
So, as a non-expert, how to get across some things about American Indian ways of life that enrich us?  There are so many ways one might go about this.  A list of things like corn, so much a staple of our diets that our bodies are nearly identical to corn in chemical analysis?  Quinine?  The insight into political process and governance that Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson gained from meeting and talking with councils of the Six Nations confederacy?  

Given the spiritual and family nature of this holiday for many people, maybe it would be interesting to explore something most people might not consider.  

Several years ago I was living on the main campus of the Navajo Nation's tribal college, in Tsaile, Az (derived from the Navajo word for a place where water enters the canyon) at the head of Canyon de Chelly in a stunning setting on the flanks of the Chuska (Ch'osgai - white spruce) Mountains, high up at 7200 feet.  

I thought I was going to a public lecture, but found myself in a large meeting convened on the Navajo Nation by many medicine men, tribal college leaders, tribal government and legal experts and others concerned about the issue of spreading water from sewage treatment onto the slopes of a sacred mountain.  This was approved by the National Park Service under Bush.  Fake snow  for ski tourism on the mountain near Flagstaff.

The purpose was to review  the legal strategy for opposing the Park Service action before the appellate court and possibly the Supreme Court on behalf of the Nation, and some fifteen other tribal entities as well.  

Harry Walters, a well known expert on Navajo culture, a teacher at the college and a tribal elder, explained the difference between "Western" viewpoints on issues such as this and "Indian" ways of seeing it, thus to explore the problem of translating the issue into language useful in a courtroom.  

I should mention that Dine' College was founded on the principle that Indian youth could best be prepared for a future as leaders for the Nation, and successful people in the larger culture, through an education that honors traditional Indian views of life, as well as the accreditation requirements for US colleges.  The educational philosophy uses an ancient wisdom tradition description, Sa'a N'yae Bikeh Hozhon.  It isn't translateable directly.

This is the sort of issue at the heart of the cultural divide between the two different traditions.  Language is a real limitation when it really represents different ways of thinking.  

Specific breaking down into atoms, molecules or logical bits that can be categorized is the "Western" gift to mankind.  It creates science and the benefits derived therefrom.  It also creates problems when people and cultures are subjected to compartmentalized thinking that allows them to be dismissed as less than human or irrelevant.  This is the source of war and horrible legacies that we know all too well, unless we dismiss the truth of history as many do - also made possible by compartmentalized, limited, left brain thinking.  

The more fluid, open and right brained intelligence welcomes more subjective experience as truth.  Poetry and art are more congruent than, say chemistry.  More comfort with ambiguity.  Less comfort with regimentation.

Walters drew a line and a circle.  More or less, straight line logic that sees things in terms of a continuum, such as a timeline or a process is one way of looking at the world, and a circle, where all things are seen as a gestalt with no beginning or end is another.

One might compare this to an Eastern, maybe Buddhist philosophy.  But it goes further.
The wisdom to be found in American Indian philosophy cannot be separated from ancient experience of place.  This is why land issues are so vastly crucial.  Dine' people, especially in the very center of the Nation, have the fortune of living on land that direct ancestors walked going back at least into the fifteen hundreds.  Maybe further back.

The reason that there is a dispute over the sacred mountain is that there is no distinction between the time of Creation - back then in ancient times - and now.  The figures in the myths of origin, notably the Yei, are still alive and present within the four sacred mountains that define the Dine' world.  These are deities.  Peeing in the baptismal font, as it were, is not only disrespectful, but could harm balance on a profound level and cause a drift into negativity across the land, increasing criminal thinking, drug and alcohol abuse, and bad public leadership.  Maintaining balance in the world is the essential issue.  

One could talk about this in terms of String Theory.  Time exists all in one place and we live in a dimension of it, not able to experience beyond what our senses are designed to process.  We are limited beings who cannot take in more than a small amount of reality.

We live in very limited ways.  We need some kind of help with enlarging into our potential as individuals and as a society.  What we seek, that we may lack, is proper balance.  Calibrating balance is the larger work of consciousness leaders.  The ideal is what is meant by the word, "beauty."

The insight that we live in a landscape that we ought to open ourselves to having
reverence for, is a valuable insight.  Heedless existence that has no respect for Others, is completely selfish and allows unchecked consumption of everything without respect for any consequences in the future is the opposite of balance, of beauty.

Navajo families gather in the fall and winter for Yei Bi Chei ceremonies.  These may be open to the public, with hand painted signs visible along roads pointing to them.

Traditionally, they last for nine days.  People do take off work, telling supervisors that they must go to a family ceremony and this is acceptable, with compromises.  There are now short form ceremonies lasting maybe only a day or so.  But there are still very lengthy observances among the most traditional folks.  

I attended a Christmas Eve Yei Bi Che a few years ago, up the road a few miles at Lukachukai, as it happens, an historic center of ceremonialism.  Here's an image: http://www.ed-resources.net/...

The elaborate ceremony involved a specially built ceremonial Hogan (an eight-sided log house) a lighted area out front, four ceremonial bonfires in a line on either side of a dance runway leading out into the sagebrush, and a large area for parking in an adjacent field.  The medicine man conducting this performs a long series of complex songs that are the equivalent of a libretto for a long opera, and executes sand paintings and other rituals in private, in the hogan.  He also manages and oversees everything so it is all done right.

A line of dancers comes in from the field, approaching the patient, seated in front of the hogan.  At night, the area between the bonfires is lit, and the dancers enter from complete darkness.  Out here, there are no city lights.  No lights at all.  Only stars, which are bright and close enough to almost touch in the high altitude air far from traffic or smokestacks.  It was cold.  Fifteen degrees.  No one in the large crowd was complaining about it, so I didn't remark on it either. But I did get some hot chocolate from the guy in the trailer with the fry bread, Navajo tacos (mutton in fry bread) and coffee.  

I contemplated, among other things, the license plates on about a hundred pickup trucks and cars, some idling with people inside warming up.   When the call goes out, family gathers as they might for a wedding, driving in from everywhere imagineable.  

Navajos are unified by a strong sense of family, clan, community.  It is a healthy support system.  For those who participate in this, resources can be shared that might help get someone through a distant college,  create a great network of caregivers for children, even capital for business investment.

The line of dancers, dressed in white body paint and the unique masks representing the Yei, move through the ritual in stages, calling out in the strange hooting that evokes supernatural utterance.  At some point, the dancers may be "possessed" (a western term that will have to do) by the actual Yei who enter them and bring healings and blessings.  This is one reason so many people are so dedicated to dropping what they are doing and driving however many miles they have to in order to make it.  

In "The Web of Life" Fritjof Capra points out the work of physicist Ilya Prigogine, who won a Nobel Prize for postulating systems theory.  In this "New Physics" everything is connected to everything, in a giant web, and not in straight line sequences.  The world wide web is an example.  The Gaia system is another.  I guess one could say String Theory extends this.

The first Europeans to come to these shores, like the Pilgrims, did not understand ecology.  (anybody talking about String Theory back then would have been accused of blasphemy, or worse.)  They believed in Man's Dominion over Creation.  A sense of reverence for all things, seen or not seen, understood or not understood, a sense that man does not have the right to dominate but is an equal part of the whole web of life -  is an essential indigenous wisdom.  This is ancient human heritage for all cultures, but it has been a lost wisdom through the European Christian era, with its war on the indigenous world of Europe, brought here by the settlers.

Perhaps one of the great gifts of the meeting of the "Western" and Indigenous minds can still be a rediscovery of that deeply ancient wisdom which might be relevant to our future survival as Homo Sapiens.  

Last Thanksgiving, or around then, we had a dinner guest from Lukachukai, a graduate faculty member in the education department who had lived for some years in San Francisco and was on his way to an Ivy League university to do a lecture.  I remember him saying, "We have no wisdom to share with anyone. Look at us.  We are a devastated people.  We live in poverty.  Look at the alcohol, the domestic violence, people leaving the reservation for jobs a long way away."

You can certainly see a lot of cultural devastation and the history is full of causes for grieving.  But on deep reflection, I believe that if the core of indigenous experience is ever lost, all mankind will suffer from that in ways we may never grasp.  I prefer to take what opportunities there might be, to honor what wisdom I might be able to comprehend.  That isn't an easy process, and yes, it is full of contradictions.  
A line came to me for a poem once:  "we will be shown what we can see."

Wisdom begins with being fully open to the idea that we may not know everything or understand everything, but we might do better at that if we try, in time.  

What I am saying is that the differences between perspectives have in the past led to killing and huge conflict.  We should contemplate, instead, the ways that we can learn to open our minds to new dimensions of understanding and gain new ground in the process.  That is something to consider and give thanks over - for the future.

Hozho Nahastle
Hozho Nahastle
Hozho Nahastle
Hozho Nahastle  (May there be Beauty)  

The Massacre For Which Thanksgiving Is Named



Thanksgiving Day Celebrates A Massacre William B. Newell, a Penobscot Indian and former chairman of the Anthropology department at the University of Connecticut, says that the first official Thanksgiving Day celebrated the massacre of 700 Indian men, women and children during one of their religious ceremonies. "Thanksgiving Day" was first proclaimed by the Governor of the then Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1637 to commemorate the massacre of 700 men, women and children who were celebrating their annual Green Corn Dance...Thanksgiving Day to the, "in their own house", Newell stated.

- small snip -

-----The very next day the governor declared a Thanksgiving Day.....For the next 100 years, every Thanksgiving Day ordained by a Governor was in honor of the bloody victory, thanking God that the battle had been won."

Without having the book or being able to see it online, the proclamation appears, according to Richard Drinnon, to have come from William Bradford. I'll be buying the book. "'Thanksgiving Day'" was first proclaimed by the Governor of the then Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1637," as from Newell, which was John Winthrop.

But "William Bradford became the governor of Plymouth after the first governor died in 1621."
And in "1631, John Winthrop (1588-1649) became the first elected official in America-governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony."

They were both Puritans, they both probably said it.
Facing West: The Metaphysics of Indian Hating & Empire Building The original Thanksgiving was marked by prayer and thanks for the untimely deaths of most of the Wampanoag Tribe due to smallpox contracted from earlier European visitors. Thus when the Pilgrims arrived they found the fields already cleared and planted, and they called them their own.
- snip -
He was inspired to issue a proclamation: "This day forth shall be a day of celebration and thanksgiving for subduing the Pequots." The authentic Thanksgiving Day was born.
The following source cites Drinnon in the next paragraph, so I assume the following came from Drinnon as well.

Source Jump 129 years to 1621, year of the supposed "first Thanksgiving." There is not much documentation of that event, but surviving Indians do not trust the myth. Natives were already dying like flies thanks to European-borne diseases. The Pequot tribe reportedly numbered 8,000 when the Pilgrims arrived, but disease had reduced their population to 1,500 by 1637, when the first, officially proclaimed, all-Pilgrim "Thanksgiving" took place. At that feast, the whites of New England celebrated their massacre of the Pequots. "This day forth shall be a day of celebration and thanksgiving for subduing the Pequots," read Massachusetts Bay Governor John Winthrop's proclamation. Few Pequots survived.
The first Official Thanksgiving was gratitude for genocide in 1637, and in 1676 - 1677 "a day was set apart for public thanksgiving," because nearly all of them were exterminated by then.

http://www.dinsdoc.com/lauber-... 3 See Sylvester, op. cit., ii, p. 457, for expedients adopted by Massachusetts to obtain money to defend the frontiers. Yet the number killed and sold, along with those who escaped, practically destroyed the warring Indians. According to the Massachusetts Records of 1676-1677 a day was set apart for public thanksgiving, because, among other things of moment, "there now scarce remains a name or family of them (the Indians) but are either slain, captivated or fled."

http://rwor.org/a/firstvol/883... In their victory, the settlers launched an all-out genocide against the remaining Native people. The Massachusetts government offered 20 shillings bounty for every Indian scalp, and 40 shillings for every prisoner who could be sold into slavery. Soldiers were allowed to enslave any Indian woman or child under 14 they could capture. The "Praying Indians" who had converted to Christianity and fought on the side of the European troops were accused of shooting into the treetops during battles with "hostiles." They were enslaved or killed. Other "peaceful" Indians of Dartmouth and Dover were invited to negotiate or seek refuge at trading posts - and were sold onto slave ships.
- snip -
After King Philip's War, there were almost no Indians left free in the northern British colonies. A colonist wrote from Manhattan's New York colony: "There is now but few Indians upon the island and those few no ways hurtful. It is to be admired how strangely they have decreased by the hand of God, since the English first settled in these parts." In Massachusetts, the colonists declared a "day of public thanksgiving" in 1676, saying, "there now scarce remains a name or family of them [the Indians] but are either slain, captivated or fled."

Fifty-five years after the original Thanksgiving Day, the Puritans had destroyed the generous Wampanoag and all other neighboring tribes. The Wampanoag chief King Philip was beheaded. His head was stuck on a pole in Plymouth, where the skull still hung on display 24 years later.
Furthermore, the continuing historical context of the Massacre for which Thanksgiving is named was in the context of "slave-producing wars in New England."
The war consisted of two battles: the Mistick Fight, and the Swamp Fight. In the first of these two events, but seven captives were taken.1 In the second, the Swamp Fight, about one hundred and eighty captives were taken.2 Two of the sachems taken in the Swamp Fight were spared, on promise that they guide the English to the retreat of Sassacus. The other men captives, some twenty or thirty in number, were put to death.3 The remaining captives, consisting of about eighty women and children, were divided. Some were given to the soldiers, whether gratis or for pay does not appear. Thirty were given to the Narraganset who were allies of the English, forty-eight were sent to Massachusetts and the remainder were assigned to Connecticut.4  

During the years 1675 and 1676, one finds mention of the sale of Indians in Plymouth in groups of about a hundred,2 fifty-seven,3 three,4 one hundred and sixty,5 ten,6 and one.7 From June 25, 1675 to September 23, 1676, the records show the sale by the Plymouth colonial authorities of one hundred and eighty-eight Indians.8     In the Massachusetts Bay colony a similar disposal of captives was accomplished. On one occasion about two hundred were transported and sold.9 There is extant a paper written by Daniel Gookin in 1676, one item of which is as follows: "a list of the Indian children that came in with John of Packachooge." The list shows twenty-one boys and eleven girls distributed throughout the colony.10
Hence, the continuing historical context of the Massacre for which Thanksgiving is named: "In Massachusetts, the colonists declared a 'day of public thanksgiving' in 1676, saying, "there now scarce remains a name or family of them [the Indians] but are either slain, captivated or fled."
A cold question arises about whether "the sale of Indians in Plymouth" was at least silently appreciated by the colony. Did they? Were they glad "the Indians" were almost exterminated? They never actually said they were far as I know.

Source It all began when Philip (called Metacom by his own people), the leader of the Wampanoag Indians, led attacks against English towns in the colony of Plymouth. The war spread quickly, pitting a loose confederation of southeastern Algonquians against a coalition of English colonists. While it raged, colonial armies pursued enemy Indians through the swamps and woods of New England, and Indians attacked English farms and towns from Narragansett Bay to the Connecticut River Valley. Both sides, in fact, had pursued the war seemingly without restraint, killing women and children, torturing captives, and mutilating the dead. The fighting ended after Philip was shot, quartered, and beheaded in August 1676.
How many were glad Saddam Hussein was hung? How many would be glad if all the perpetrators of 9-11 were shot? One last question, how many realize that then and now,  colonialism always brings more violence as "a colonizing European nation was asserting political jurisdiction."  

Puritans, Indians, and Manifest Destiny. p.75 - 76 ...But tribal rivalries and wars were relatively infrequent prior to Puritan settlement (compared to the number of wars in Europe)...Neither would have increased if it were not that a colonizing European nation was asserting political jurisdiction, in the name of God, over indigenous New England societies...When thus threatened with the usurpation of their own rights, as native tribes had been threatened years before by them, Puritans came to the defense of a system of government that was similar, in important ways, to the native governments that they had always defined as savage and uncivilized...
Some have lost careers over stating the obvious: the US brings it upon itself.

Howard Zinn. A People's History Of The United States. p. 682. We are not hated because we practice democracy, value freedom, or uphold human rights. We are hated because our government denies these things to people in Third World countries whose resources are coveted by our multinational corporations. That hatred we have sown has come back to haunt us in the form of terrorism.
(Paraphrasing)
"And in secret places in our minds, in places we don't talk about, we can't handle the truth."

That is true now, and it was true then. Genocide and slavery "saved lives," just the lives the dominant culture wanted to live. And for that, the dominant culture (a mind set) is grateful.

http://www.republicoflakotah.c... William Bradford, in his famous History of the Plymouth Plantation, celebrated the Pequot massacre:
"Those that scraped the fire were slaine with the sword; some hewed to peeces, others rune throw with their rapiers, so as they were quickly dispatchte, and very few escapted. It was conceived they thus destroyed about 400 at this time. It was a fearful sight to see them thus frying in the fyer, and the streams of blood quenching the same, and horrible was the stincke and sente there of, but the victory seemed a sweete sacrifice, and they gave the prayers thereof to God, who had wrought so wonderfully for them, thus to inclose their enemise in their hands, and give them so speedy a victory over so proud and insulting an enimie."
"William Bradford, the author of Of Plymouth Plantation (c. 1630, c. 1646), has been hailed as the father of American history."- He sure as hell is.


Correction:
The timeline itself along with basic knowledge of the Pilgrim's Puritan's religious beliefs exposes the fact that historically speaking, Thanksgiving was literally about gratitude for genocide.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Evo: "There are only two ways: moving forward in support of change or going back to the past, going back to neoliberalism"

by Arleen Rodríguez Derivet

LA PAZ.—Evo Morales Ayma, the man who, four years ago, changed the history of Bolivia and shook the racist protocol of Western diplomacy, is virtually not sleeping in La Paz at the moment.

Despite huge distances and appreciable differences in height and climate among the country’s nine departments, the president is touring them without a break, and with more intensity as December 6 approaches. This is the day that could guarantee the progress of changing or re-founding the nation, for centuries one of the most impoverished of the hemisphere but today, one that has been able to confront the impact of the world economic crisis with the most success.

Evo’s reelection is a fact not even contested by the right. Surveys give him a 34-point advantage over the closest of the other aspirants. In line with this figure, the most conservative result, the president will be returned with 52% and his nearest rival will barely reach 18%.

Even so, Evo appears at a different point of Bolivia’s complex geography every day. The last time he was seen driving a heavy tractor at the front of an enthusiastic and large convoy of supporters, no less than in Santa Cruz, considered up until the day before a right-wing bastion.

"After hearing and seeing the huge concentrations of people all over the country, I feel that we have already been elected for another five years," affirmed the president in an exclusive interview for Cuban Television’s "Roundtable" program.

What Evo is seeking on those tiring tours to the heart of the country is to take the brakes of the changes imposed by the right in the Senate over the last four years, a period throughout which he had to govern hard by decree in order to overcome the criminal opposition of the opponents of change.

Now Evo is taking the time to talk with the majorities, to explain why not to post a "crossed" vote (voting for him but not for MAS candidates to the Plurinational Assembly. The battle of the charismatic 50-year-old leader is currently focused on winning two thirds of the seats; "Over the last four years, what was most damaging to us was the Senate. The people do not have the majority there," he says and explains to us that that mal comes from the 1980s when, for once, the left won and the right did not allow it to undertake its program. Hernán Siles Suazo had to cut short his mandate.

But traveling into deepest Bolivia is also an opportunity to approach and hear directly from the people what they do from day to day in this country. "We are obliged to visit, to listen to the campesinos who have given us their vote."

Impressed by the atmosphere of peace and prosperity, of joy, that can now be felt in La Paz and other regions, where barely 12 months ago, confrontations provoked by USAID and the U.S. ambassador made people fear for the process, we asked if that fact that one is not longer there and the other has been checked has had an influence, but his response is more profound:

"Whether it is the expulsion of the ambassador, reining in USAID and thus reining in the right, the most important thing is the people’s awareness. I am impressed by many sectors. I think that, in the first year, many people thought: the Indian isn’t going to make it, so: ‘We have to do something against the Indian; they tried to revoke me, they tried everything… That’s where the strength of the CONALCAM (National Coordinating Committee for Change), of intellectuals, students, comes in… Some people said, ‘I don’t like the president’s face, but I do like his politics. This Indian is giving us dignity."

"When I see luxury cars on my campaign convoys, I ask myself what’s going on, but reviewing the candidates’ programs for December 6, ours is the most realistic. You can see clearly that there are two ways: moving forward in support of change or going back to the past, going back to neoliberalism. So many people are joining it. The people aren’t stupid, people can see. That is the program of the people, the one that is only opposed to criminals – those who have lived off robbing the people – and the fraudsters…

"You still can’t decolonize the minds of all Bolivians. There are still opposition groups. And there is a right to an opposition, but there are violent groups, terrorists, who are trying to destroy the homeland, to destroy life."

In this interview, during which the president also talked about the economic crisis and the challenges that climate change is imposing on nations like Bolivia, he affirmed that the installation of military bases in Colombia "is not an aggression toward Colombia, it is an invasion of South America," and predicted that that imperialist policy will be short-lived. •

Translated by Granma International

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Books, Not Bombs, By Amy Goodman

Posted on Nov 24, 2009

By Amy Goodman

California campuses have been rocked by protests this past week, provoked by massive student fee increases voted on by the University of California Board of Regents. After a year of sequential budget cuts, faculty and staff dismissals and furloughs, and the elimination of entire academic departments, the 32-percent fee increase proved to be the trigger for statewide actions of an unprecedented scale. With President Barack Obama’s Afghanistan war strategy—which, according to one leak, will include a surge of 35,000 troops—soon to be announced, the juxtaposition of education cuts and military increases is incensing many, and helping to build a movement.

As I traveled throughout California this past week on a book tour, I was, coincidentally, in the midst of the regents’ vote and the campus protests. At UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, UC Santa Barbara, UCLA, Cal State Fresno, UC Davis and Cal State Chico, students approached me with stories of how the fee increases were going to price them out of school. Students were occupying buildings, marching and holding teach-ins. At UC Davis, several young women, among the 52 arrested, described to me how they had been attacked by campus police, shot with Tasers. Students there also protested the Saturday closure of the libraries, showing up at the president’s university-provided house to study there, since the library was closed. He let them in to study rather than spark a confrontation that probably would have ended with police action and arrests.

Blanca Misse, a UC Berkeley graduate student and organizer with the Student Worker Action Team, was among those who’ve been organizing. She told me, “We are striking because we care a lot about public education, and we care about another kind of public education, maybe, than the one they offer, a real public education out of the corporate model.”

Laura Nader (Ralph Nader’s sister) is a professor of social cultural anthropology at UC Berkeley, where she has taught for nearly 50 years. Earlier this year she co-authored a measure approved by the UC Berkeley Academic Senate calling on the school’s athletics program to become self-sufficient and stop receiving subsidies from student fees. She is a critic of the increasing power that corporations such as BP and Novartis have over the universities, and she has a long personal history fighting for public education. She teaches general-education classes that attract hundreds of students—noting that students these days, taught to take tests, “are great at choosing answers on a multiple-choice test, but have never heard of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” Her focus on the basics reflects her concern of the attack on public education in this country: “It isn’t something that just happened, and it isn’t something that was unplanned,” she told me. “People really do adhere to the model that this shouldn’t be a public good. And if we continue in this direction, there’s going to be a two-class system: those who go to college are going to be those who can afford it, and those who don’t are going to be the middle class.”

The movement’s centerpiece is a strong coalition that includes students, workers and faculty. Bob Samuels is president of the University Council-American Federation of Teachers, the union representing non-senate faculty and librarians of the University of California. Although California is facing a serious budget crisis, Samuels told me the UC system has more than sufficient funds: “It doesn’t have to raise student fees. It doesn’t have to fire faculty. It doesn’t have to cut courses. They’re talking about eliminating minors and majors. They’re talking about moving classes online. They’re doing these drastic things. And what we’re seeing is just basically undergraduate students are subsidizing research, they’re subsidizing administrators, they’re subsidizing things that have nothing to do with undergraduate instruction.”

During the Bush administration, military recruiting faced an all-time low. Now, after the economic collapse of late 2008, recruiters are having no problems. President Obama seems committed to increasing the size, and thus necessarily the duration, of the war and occupation in Afghanistan. One of the most popular university professors in California, Anaya Roy of UC Berkeley, offers a summary that President Obama should heed: “In this context of inequality, one doesn’t need radical instruments of redistribution. One only needs a few things, like decent public education or access to health care or some sort of reasonable approach that says enough of this massive spending on war.”

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.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Portland’s Cannabis Cafe is the First Marijuana Coffee Shop of Its Kind in the Country


The Cannabis Cafe, which opened this month in Portland, Oregon is the first marijuana cafe of its kind in the country. Although it doesn’t sell marijuana on the premises, the Cannabis Café allows any of Portland’s estimated 21,000 licensed medical-marijuana users a space to consume marijuana in a social setting. We speak with Madeline Martinez, executive-Director of the Oregon chapter of NORML—The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws—which runs the Cannabis Café.

We’re broadcasting from Portland, Oregon which this month became home to the first marijuana café of its kind in the country. Although it doesn’t sell marijuana on the premises, the Cannabis Café allows any of Portland’s estimated 21,000 licensed medical-marijuana users a space to consume marijuana in a social setting.

The Cannabis Café’s debut comes a month after the Obama administration said it would stop pursuing cases against medical marijuana patients. Reversing the Bush administration’s stance, Attorney General Eric Holder said, “it will not be a priority to use federal resources to prosecute patients with serious illnesses or their caregivers who are complying with state laws on medical marijuana.” Fourteen states have adopted laws allowing the medical use of marijuana.

We are joined in Portland by Madeline Martinez. She is Executive-Director of the Oregon chapter of NORML—The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, which also runs the Cannabis Café.

Madeline Martinez, executive director Oregon chapter of National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, which earlier this month opened the Cannabis Cafe, the state’s first.

Monday, November 23, 2009

US builds up its bases in oil-rich South America

From the Caribbean to Brazil, political opposition to US plans for ‘full-spectrum operations’ is escalating rapidly

By Hugh O’Shaughnessy, Special Correspondent, The Independent (U.K.)

The United States is massively building up its potential for nuclear and non-nuclear strikes in Latin America and the Caribbean by acquiring unprecedented freedom of action in seven new military, naval and air bases in Colombia. The development – and the reaction of Latin American leaders to it – is further exacerbating America’s already fractured relationship with much of the continent.

The new US push is part of an effort to counter the loss of influence it has suffered recently at the hands of a new generation of Latin American leaders no longer willing to accept Washington’s political and economic tutelage. President Rafael Correa, for instance, has refused to prolong the US armed presence in Ecuador, and US forces have to quit their base at the port of Manta by the end of next month.

So Washington turned to Colombia, which has not gone down well in the region. The country has received military aid worth $4.6bn (£2.8bn) from the US since 2000, despite its poor human rights record. Colombian forces regularly kill the country’s indigenous people and other civilians, and last year raided the territory of its southern neighbour, Ecuador, causing at least 17 deaths.

President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, who has not forgotten that US officers were present in government offices in Caracas in 2002 when he was briefly overthrown in a military putsch, warned this month that the bases agreement could mean the possibility of war with Colombia.

President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, who has not forgotten that US officers were present in government offices in Caracas in 2002 when he was briefly overthrown in a military putsch, warned this month that the bases agreement could mean the possibility of war with Colombia.

In August, President Evo Morales of Bolivia called for the outlawing of foreign military bases in the region. President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras, overthrown in a military coup d’état in June and initially exiled, has complained that US forces stationed at the Honduran base of Palmerola collaborated with Roberto Micheletti, the leader of the plotters and the man who claims to be president.

And, this being US foreign policy, a tell-tale trail of oil is evident. Brazil had already expressed its unhappiness at the presence of US naval vessels in its massive new offshore oilfields off Rio de Janeiro, destined soon to make Brazil a giant oil producer eligible for membership in Opec.

The fact that the US gets half its oil from Latin America was one of the reasons the US Fourth Fleet was re-established in the region’s waters in 2008. The fleet’s vessels can include Polaris nuclear-armed submarines – a deployment seen by some experts as a violation of the 1967 Tlatelolco Treaty, which bans nuclear weapons from the continent.

Indications of US willingness to envisage the stationing of nuclear weapons in Colombia are seen as an additional threat to the spirit of nuclear disarmament. After the establishment of the Tlatelolco Treaty in 1967, four more nuclear-weapon-free zones were set up in Africa, the South Pacific, South-east Asia and Central Asia. Between them, the five treaties cover nearly two-thirds of the countries of the world and almost all the southern hemisphere.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the world’s leading think-tank about disarmament issues, has now expressed its worries about the US-Colombian arrangements.

With or without nuclear weapons, the bilateral agreement on the seven Colombian bases, signed on 30 October in Bogota, risks a costly new arms race in a region. SIPRI, which is funded by the Swedish government, said it was concerned about rising arms expenditure in Latin America draining resources from social programmes that the poor of the region need.

Much of the new US strategy was clearly set out in May in an enthusiastic US Air Force (USAF) proposal for its military construction programme for the fiscal year 2010. One Colombian air base, Palanquero, was, the proposal said, unique “in a critical sub-region of our hemisphere where security and stability is under constant threat from… anti-US governments”.

The proposal sets out a scheme to develop Palanquero which, the USAF says, offers an opportunity for conducting “full-spectrum operations throughout South America…. It also supports mobility missions by providing access to the entire continent, except the Cape Horn region, if fuel is available, and over half the continent if un-refuelled”. (”Full-spectrum operations” is the Pentagon’s jargon for its long-established goal of securing crushing military superiority with atomic and conventional weapons across the globe and in space.)

Palanquero could also be useful in ferrying arms and personnel to Africa via the British mid-Atlantic island of Ascension, French Guiana and Aruba, the Dutch island off Venezuela. The US has access to them all.

The USAF proposal contradicted the assurances constantly issued by US diplomats that the bases would not be used against third countries. These were repeated by the Colombian military to the Colombian congress on 29 July. That USAF proposal was hastily reissued this month after the signature of the agreement – but without the reference to “anti-US governments”. This has led to suggestions of either US government incompetence, or of a battle between a gung-ho USAF and a State Department conscious of the damage done to US relations with Latin America by its leaders’ strong objections to the proposal.

The Colombian forces, for many years notorious for atrocities inflicted on civilians, have cheekily suggested that with US help they could get into the lucrative business of “instructing” other armies about human rights. Civil strife in Colombia meant some 380,000 Colombians were forced from their homes last year, bringing the number of displaced since 1985 to 4.6 million, one in ten of the population. This little-known statistic indicates a much worse situation than the much-publicised one in Islamist-ruled Sudan where 2.7 million have fled from their homes.

Amnesty International said: “The Colombian government must urgently bring human rights violators to justice, to break the links between the armed forces and illegal paramilitary groups, and dismantle paramilitary organisations in line with repeated UN recommendations.”

Palanquero, which adjoins the town of Puerto Salgar on the broad Magdalena river north-west of the capital, Bogota, is one of the seven bases that the government of President Alvaro Uribe gave to Washington last month despite howls from many Colombians. Its hangars can take 100 aircraft and there is accommodation for 2,000 personnel. Its main runway was constructed in the 1980s after Colombia bought a force of Israeli Kfir warplanes. At 3,500 metres, it is 500 metres longer than the longest in Britain, the former US base outside Campbeltown, Scotland. The USAF is awaiting Barack Obama’s signature on a bill, already passed by the US Congress, to devote $46m to works at the base.

Many Colombians are upset at the agreement between the US and Colombia that governs – or, perhaps more accurately, fails to govern – US use of Palanquero and the other six bases. The Colombian Council of State, a non-partisan constitutional body with the duty to comment on legislation, has said that the agreements are unfair to Colombia since they put the US and not the host country in the driving seat, and that they should be redrafted in accordance with the Colombian constitution.

The immunities being granted to US soldiers are, the council adds, against the 1961 Vienna Convention; the agreement can be changed by future regulations which can totally transform it; and the permission given to the US to install satellite receivers for radio and television without the usual licences and fees is “without any valid reason”.

President Uribe, whose studies at St Antony’s College, Oxford, were subsidised by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has chosen to disregard the Council of State.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday...



Saturday, November 21, 2009

If Ralph Nader were to be elected to the Senate from Connecticut it would not be long before we saw a newspaper article looking something like this: WASHINGTON – Senator Ralph Nader issued subpoenas today for the CEO’s of Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Timothy Geithner, Henry Paulson…


From: www.greanvillepost.com
by John Murphy


Ralph Nader: Rightwingers hate him.  Establishment liberals despise him (proving their political idiocy). He remains the most underappreciated statesman in America.
Ralph Nader: Rightwingers hate him. Establishment liberals despise him (proving their political idiocy). He remains the most underappreciated statesman in America.


THERE IS A WORD; a name actually. The very pronunciation of which sends a deathlike chill down the gelatinous spinal column of the self-styled “progressive” Democrat. Democrat media talking heads have even a more violent reaction. A reaction that is similar to that of the mythical, bloodsucking, soul-destroying vampire when confronted with the light of day.

There is a very good chance that Ralph Nader may run for US Senate in Connecticut in 2010. Ralph told Politico reporter Glenn Thrush “You can’t believe the number of people asking me [to run]… Right now I’d say I’m agnostic”.
The long whispered rumor began to take on greater credibility as far back as April when an article by Keith Burris first appeared in “The Norwich Bulletin” — Norwich, Connecticut. Back then the driving force was the anger that Connecticut voters felt towards Senator Chris Dodd.

Connecticut voters finally realized Dodd is a do-nothing corporate Democrat for whom they have been voting pretty much out of mindless habit. However, now that most cognizant voters realize that it was the repeal of The Glass-Steagall Act (which separated commercial and investment banking firms) that was the root cause of our current economic crisis, voters everywhere, Connecticut being no exception, are taking a hard look at corporate Democrats from Barry The Bomber on down.
Connecticut voters finally realized Dodd is a do-nothing corporate Democrat for whom they have been voting pretty much out of mindless habit. However, now that most cognizant voters realize that it was the repeal of The Glass-Steagall Act (which separated commercial and investment banking firms) that was the root cause of our current economic crisis, voters everywhere, Connecticut being no exception, are taking a hard look at corporate Democrats from Barry The Bomber on down.

Chris Dodd represented Wall Street and the banks when he should have been representing the people of Connecticut and protecting them from the predatory practices of the financial world. As it turns out, it was Chris Dodd himself who engineered the Glass-Steagall repeal. Senator Dodd’s only comment on this incredibly heinous deed was that he really didn’t mean to destroy the banking system! He blames the regulators but of course the regulators did not repeal the 1933 legislation; that was done by Chris Dodd and cheerfully signed by Bill the Stain Clinton.
The Big Five
Adding insult to injury, Senator Dodd is also one of the top 5 recipients of Wall Street bucks. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, “The finance, insurance and real estate sector has given $2.3 billion to candidates, leadership PACs and party committees since 1989, which eclipses every other sector. Nineteen percent of total contributions from the employees and political action committees across all sectors came from the financial sector.” Dodd has been the happy recipient of $752,698. He is the fourth largest leech being eclipsed only by Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) at $2,167,300; Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) at $1,173,400 (yes, she’s the one who replaced Hillary Clinton in more ways than one) and coming in at number three is Harry Reid (D-NV) at $1,038,210.

Democrats all! Yes, the lesser evil party which has done so much to oppose the right-wing in the last 30 years it would take a volume at least the size of an entire postage stamp to enumerate.

Dodd is hardly the paradigm for the Democrat Party’s acquiescence to corporatism.  The Democrats have been slopping out the corporate trough ever since the early 1980s when Tony Coelho convinced them that they should be dialing for the same corporate dollars as the Republicans. If there was little difference between the Democrats and Republicans prior to the 80s it was completely gone by the time William the Stain was elected in 1992.

Democrats follow the Republican lead in more than just corporate money. Advertising has replaced substance and when “Brand Obama” was put on the market the Democrats never bothered to ask “where’s the beef”. Now even Democrat strategists like David Swanson are saying that the Obama administration is no better than a third Bush administration. So much for the myth that “Anybody is Better than Bush”.
Lemons for Clunkers
Imagine the experience someone has after having dumped their old clunker for a new car only to discover they bought a lemon! Suddenly even the old clunker begins to look good! Pardon the Biblical excursion but Jesus really captures the Obama-following-Bush experience quite prophetically: “When a demon goes out of a man, it travels through the desert, seeking rest, and finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ Then it goes and takes with it seven other demons more wicked than itself, and they enter and dwell therein; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.” In other words, for those who thought Bush was bad, Obama will make him look like a schoolyard bully. Obama has already dropped three times as many bombs on innocent Pakistani men, women and children in one year than George Bush did in his last three years! And it took a Democrat to attack women’s rights in the recent health care spectacle not even Bush did that!

Nevertheless the so-called progressive Democrats are beginning to raise a troubled eyebrow. No, they will never vote for anyone other than a Democrat for President; that would be asking way too much. But they may just have lost enough enthusiasm to stay home next November in some states or in Connecticut they may actually realize that choosing “the lesser of two evils” is morally correct only when there is no “good” choice. The overwhelming majority of Democrats have never been able to rise to that moral level in the past but Connecticut may give them the opportunity to obtain absolution for the sins of their entire party in 2000, 2004 and 2008. Whether they can ever be absolved for the lies they told about “Nader taking votes from Gore” is questionable. They may have to serve years in political hell to cleanse their political souls of that obscenity.
Caution: The Green Party
The Connecticut Green Party has already announced that it would welcome Ralph Nader into the 2010 race for U. S. Senate and thinks he would have a good chance to win against current Senator Dodd.

A Connecticut Green Party spokesperson said, “Since the media reports began in local and national web sites last week, we have seen hundreds of responses urging him to run. With Dodd losing in many polls to the Republicans who have announced, we think Nader could be a clear choice to many who have lost faith in Dodd and his scandals with the banking and financial industries. To win, Nader would have to raise $3-5 million, which he has done easily in past campaigns and build an army of hundreds of volunteers for the race.”

In meeting with Green Party officers, nevertheless, Ralph should wear a large chain of garlic and carry the largest cross available since the Green Party sees itself as nothing more than a special interest group within the Democrat Party. Instead of backing Nader in 2004 and 2008 it gave indirect support to the Democrat candidate even rigging its own convention so that Nader could not possibly win the nomination. Nevertheless, the Greens are in perhaps greater need of absolution than the Democrats. Absolution is, after all, part of the last rites. Even with a Nader candidacy it is doubtful that the Green Party will see Resurrection Day.
The Corporate Parties
At least three Republicans have announced their intension to run against Dodd! They think he can be defeated too. Connecticut, despite Lieberman and Dodd, is nevertheless a liberal stronghold and it would be difficult for a Republican to win unless the Democrats (as may very well happen) stay home in droves.

The Democrat Party of Connecticut seems unable to come up with a viable primary challenge to Dodd, leaving the door open for Ralph Nader to run as an independent. Of course, Ralph could run as a Democrat. Sure he could, and the Pope could become an Anglican!
The Nader Virus
When I ran for House of Representatives as an independent, a newspaper reporter asked me, “given that the Congress is dominated by two parties what could I, as an independent hope to achieve since I was critical of both parties”. I responded that the human body has trillions of cells yet one simple virus can bring the entire organism to a halt. Imagine what someone like Ralph Nader could do in the United States Senate! Sure, the mainstream media will do everything possible to ignore him and minimize his achievements but even the corporate media cannot completely ignore a United States senator especially when he holds the corporate feet of both parties to the fire.

 

Nader as a senator could not only put the lie to Obama’s mindless rambling about why single payer will not work in the United States, he would be the only member of Congress telling the truth about why we are in Iraq and why we are murdering innocent men, women and children in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He could speak out against the genocide being committed by Israel on the Palestinians and the Zionist’s plans to create a new Holocaust for Islam and how the whole operation is being financed by American taxpayers. 

He could beat the Corporate Democrats over the head with “Cap and Trade” and point out why we need a carbon tax instead. He would be the only member of Congress talking about The Basic Income Guarantee (BIG), taxing stock transactions, eliminating the federal income tax for anyone making under $100,000, restoring the progressive income tax and repealing Taft-Hartley.

To be trite: a bull in a china shop.

You may say that I’m a dreamer


If Ralph Nader were to be elected to the Senate from Connecticut it would not be long before we saw a newspaper article looking something like this:
WASHINGTON Senator Ralph Nader issued subpoenas today for the CEO’s of Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Timothy Geithner, Henry Paulson…
Imagine!
John Murphy was the independent candidate for House of Representatives in the 16th Congressional District of Pennsylvania in 2006 and 2008. He is one of the founding members of the Pennsylvanian Ballot Access Coalition where he represents the independent candidacy of Ralph Nader. Before leaving the Green Party, he served as a member of its National Committee. He can be reached at: johnamurphy@comcast.net.

Have you seen the little piggies?

A Modest Proposal : Eat the Rich!

Photo by chrisjfry / Flickr.

Serve the people! Carve up Wall Street

By Alex Knight / The Rag Blog / November 20, 2009

See Amy Goodman's interview with Robert Scheer on Wall Street and the economy, from Democracy Now!, Below.

Yesterday, Democracy Now! reported that two major records have been broken in 2009 -- Wall St. profits ($35.7 billion in the first half of the year), and the number of Americans going hungry (50 million). These two seemingly unrelated tragedies immediately suggest a common solution -- carve up the bloated hulks of Wall St. swine and serve them up to the American people!

On Tuesday, the NY Comptroller’s Office released a report showing that “broker-dealer operations of New York Stock Exchange member firms earned a record $35.7 billion in the first half of 2009.” Through September, $22.5 billion in profits were reported from the four largest firms alone -- Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase. These are the same banks that got bailed out by the Federal Government last year -- which means that taxpayers like you and I paid for these creeps’ bonuses.

Not coincidentally, these obscene profits were recorded at the same moment that the Department of Agriculture released a report showing that “nearly 50 million people -- including almost one child in four -- struggled last year to get enough to eat” (as written in the Washington Post on Monday). While the economy has been in the tank and unemployment has surpassed 10% officially, food prices have been skyrocketing, and so millions more Americans are being forced to go without needed nutrition.

Why isn’t it a coincidence? Because the crooks who sent global markets into a freefall last September, causing millions to lose their homes and jobs, have been rewarded for their bad behavior with preferential treatment from Uncle Sam. These Wall Street piggies have been gorging themselves on trillions of U.S. federally-approved dough, while regular folks struggle to pay the rent or put food on the table -- without so much as a measly health care reform bill to give hope to their deteriorating condition. Now one out of every four of our kids is going hungry while the government subsidizes the very stock market slimeballs responsible for creating the trouble to begin with.

“Where’s OUR bailout?” struggling folks are wondering, as they see food prices climb and jobs shipped overseas by the day. 50 million folks are wondering where their next meal is gonna come from... and it’s time to entertain innovative, cost-effective proposals, even if they may seem exotic.

Well it turns out there’s one way to solve this problem without tapping the Treasury for so much as a penny!

It would bring down the cost of high-protein, high-quality food, providing much-needed nutrition to the hungry.

It could create high-paid and unionized manufacturing jobs, right here in the U.S. of A!

It would be environmentally friendly, dolphin-safe, and carbon-neutral (although there may be some associated methane emissions after the plan is implemented).

Best of all, this solution would remove the parasitic, bonus-hungry, pyramid-scheming, derivative-trading, regulation-gutting, President-advising, economy-wrecking, bailout mongers from the picture, allowing the American people to determine our economic future democratically!

And it’s so straightforward even Timothy Geithner could understand it:

Eat the Rich!

Below is the transcript from Democracy Now!’s interview with Robert Scheer on these two unprecedented reports and what they mean for the economy.



AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to the latest on the economy. A pair of new government reports released this week paint a startling picture of where the country is, more than a year after the economic meltdown. On Tuesday, the New York Comptroller’s Office said Wall Street profits are set to exceed the record set three years ago. The four largest firms -- Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase -- took in $22.5 billion in profits through September. The top six banks set aside $112 billion for salaries and bonuses over the same period. In a recent interview, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, defended the bank’s massive profits, saying Goldman is, quote, “doing God’s work.”

Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture has revealed that far more people are going hungry in the United States than previously thought. The Department estimates 50 million Americans, including a quarter of all children, struggled to get enough to eat last year. The number of children who live in households in which food at times was scarce last year stands at 17 million, an increase of four million children in just a year.

Our next guest has been closely following the impact and causes of the economic meltdown. Robert Scheer, editor at Truthdig.com, author of many books, including The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America. His latest column is called “Where Is the Community Organizer We Elected?” He joins me here in Burbank, California.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Robert Scheer. OK, just talk about these figures, from hunger to Goldman Sachs.

ROBERT SCHEER: Well, first of all, I mean, the whole thing about the profit of Wall Street that makes it particularly obscene is that we gave them that money. Your previous guest talked about how China is carrying $800 billion of our debt. We’re running up a $1.4 trillion deficit.

And what happened was, we threw a lot of money at Wall Street. In particular, in relation to Goldman, we had this buyout of AIG, $180 billion. We’ve guaranteed the toxic assets of these enterprises. And that money, in a really truly shameful way, was passed on directly to the very companies that you mentioned that are giving themselves profits. So there’s something—yes, I’ll use the word “obscene.”

It’s also interesting that he should say he’s “doing God’s work,” Blankfein, the head of Goldman Sachs. And my goodness, if Scripture is clear on anything, it’s condemnation of those who take advantage of the poor. You know, after all, Jesus threw the money changers out of the temple. Scripture is devastating in its condemnation of usury, the immorality of usury. And yet, in your promo, you mentioned Chris Dodd is trying to get a bill passed that would cap interest rates.

You know, where is the Christian right? Where are the Christians? Where are the Jews, for that matter? Or the Muslims? At least the Muslims, in their religious practice, don’t believe in interest as a principle, but the idea that we’re jacking up credit cards to 30, 35 -- this is loan sharking. And we can’t even get a bill passed through Congress that would cap interest payments.

The other thing is, their rationalization is they’re somehow saving the economy. It’s the old blackmail thing. They ruined the economy; they got the legislation, the radical deregulation they wanted, that permitted them to become too big to fail -- Citigroup and these companies; and then they turn around and say, “If you don’t throw all this money at us, the economy is going to go into the Great Depression.”

But they haven’t solved the main problems. Mortgage foreclosures this month are higher than they’ve been in ten months. We have the commercial housing market exploding, you know, apartment building rentals exploding, going into mortgages. And so, you know, they are not dealing with the fundamentals. What has happened is an incredibly expensive bandaid was put on this. And these people don’t even have -- they’re not even embarrassed.

And the reason I wrote that column is they’ve also captured the President. And, you know, I voted for this president. I even contributed money that I didn’t have to his campaign. You know, I still feel great that he’s the President. You know, I’m biased. I like the guy, you know. I like everything about him.

AMY GOODMAN: Yet you ask, where’s the community-organizer-in-chief?

ROBERT SCHEER: I am appalled. This is not a minor criticism. I think the guy is betraying -- betraying -- his own presidency, the promise of his presidency, because he has taken these thieves -- and I use the word advisedly. You know, I think people like Lawrence Summers, who pay themselves -- you know, maybe he’s not legally a thief, but, you know, a guy who pays himself, or gets paid from hedge funds and other people, $15 million in ’08, while he’s advising Obama about the economy.

And he’s the guy who, more than anyone else, when he was Secretary of the Treasury in the Clinton administration, pushed through the radical deregulation that allowed these businesses to get in all this trouble and refused to regulate derivatives and all that sort of thing. And then these guys are made the head of the -- what? They’re going to save us now?

And so, you have the one I attack, particularly, Neal Wolin, who was the general counsel of Hartford, but before that he’d been the general counsel to the Treasury Department, he’s now Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, and he’s the guy that pushed through the reversal of Glass-Steagall. He wrote the actual words in, you know, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. And now he’s our deputy. And he condemns -- the point of the column was that there’s actually a chance to do something now. Chris Dodd has finally seen the light. He is the most important...

AMY GOODMAN: While he is running for reelection.

ROBERT SCHEER: Yeah, running for election.

AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader could run against him possibly.

ROBERT SCHEER: Right, and he’s also under pressure, because he did get insurance money and all that sort of thing. But the fact is, he’s got a bill that makes sense, which is, you know, the Fed has been at the center of the problem. Ron Paul is right. The Libertarians are right. You know, the Fed is out of control. It has a higher degree of secrecy than the CIA. We don’t know what they’re doing with our money. There is no accountability there.

Basically it’s run by the banks themselves on the regional level. They’re the ones that are listened to. And what’s happened is that Chris Dodd said, no, you’ve got to take power away from the Fed, and you have to put a new agency that will control these “too big to fail” agencies. And the administration is opposed to it. I can’t—I mean, I know why they’re opposed to it.

AMY GOODMAN: The administration is opposed to it, and the Republican senators are opposed to it.

ROBERT SCHEER: Yeah, exactly.

AMY GOODMAN: Why are they opposed to it?

ROBERT SCHEER: Because they think -- they like business as usual. I mean, they are for Wall Street going its own way. They haven’t learned the lesson that capitalism uncontrolled is capitalism destroyed.

You know, I really found your previous interview on the China thing fascinating. And why is China doing well? You know, this is a startling lesson here, because we were always told unbridled capitalism is the best capitalism. Well, the Chinese have a marriage, like western Europe, but even more so, of government and the free market. It’s not unbridled capitalism. And they’ve been able to come out of this recession that we created. It’s an incredible object lesson here. These commies over there were able to take the capitalist energy and free market model and control it to a considerable degree, and they have an eight, ten percent growth rate now at a time when we’re floundering.

AMY GOODMAN: OK, so you have Lloyd Blankfein, head of Goldman Sachs, saying they’re “doing God’s work.”

ROBERT SCHEER: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: And then a week later, they issue this apology, apologizing for past mistakes that led to the financial crisis and announcing a plan to work with Warren Buffett to help 10,000 small businesses recover from this recession and spend $100 million a year for five years. Now, the Financial Times did point out the $100 million annual cost is the equivalent of one good trading day, but explain what’s going on here.

ROBERT SCHEER: Well, first of all, Buffett is the biggest holder in Goldman Sachs, and Buffett is a man of social conscience. I think he’s a very decent, enlightened capitalist of the kind you would hope exists, a long-term view, doesn’t want to destroy the system. And Buffett has said a number of sensible things over the years. And I think he put pressure on them.

He said, “Look, you guys are out to lunch here. You don’t understand how much the people hate you at this point.” You know, and Buffett is out there in real America, you know, and he called them on it. But it’s chump change, what they’re talking about. It’s a program to help small businesses.

I just want to say something emotionally, since you brought up the poverty. I happened to be in Riverside, California last week, and this is a place where the American Dream died at this point. These are people who work hard. You know, they clean our buildings. They work in factories. They got conned into buying homes they couldn’t afford by people who were then going to package them and sell them somewhere.

And you go out there now -- I talked to a young man, he bought a house for $350,000, scraped up everything. He works like a dog. His parents have been cleaning buildings for forty years. That house is now worth $120,000. He lost not only -- he lost everything his family had ever saved. OK? So we’re talking about human tragedy.

These people—he went to college, he went to Riverside, UC Riverside, did everything he was supposed to do, works, you know, twelve-hour days. As I say, his family has always worked hard, paid their taxes, scraped up this money. They buy this house and to have the American Dream. And every fourth house -- they’re making their payments, but, you know, house next door, house over there goes back.

Why didn’t we have a freeze on foreclosures? The smartest thing to do. Jon Stewart recommended it on The Daily Show. He’s the only person. I mean, where are these pundits, you know? And they would laugh. His guests on The Daily Show would laugh at him when he brought it up. But, you know, a freeze on foreclosures, we still need it. A moratorium on foreclosures for two years. They’re not doing it. What they’re doing is throwing more and more money at Wall Street.

And I go back to Obama and the point of my column: he has betrayed his own -- what is it? It wasn’t a revolution, but his own promise. You know, he gave a speech at Cooper Union in ‘08, in March at Cooper Union. This was two months after Robert Rubin, the mentor of all of these people, said there’s no problem, we don’t have any flap in the economy, it’s just a little mild blip.

And Obama gave a speech that was right on. You could give that speech now, and it would be on target. He blamed Wall Street. He blamed radical deregulation. And then, inexplicably, when he got the nomination, he turned to these very same people that had created the problem and said, “OK, now you get us out of it.”

And they’re not doing it. You know, maybe if they’d gotten religion, maybe if they’d learned their lessons, you know, maybe if they were a different breed -- but they’re not. You know, and this Neal Wolin, he attacked Chris Dodd. You know, and they say, “Oh, you’re going to create nervousness for Wall Street.” That was the word they used: you’re going to make Wall Street nervous. I want to make Wall Street nervous. You know, the next time these guys figure out another way to fleece us, they should worry they’re going to get caught. Maybe they won’t do it.

AMY GOODMAN: What about this new government report that’s found Goldman Sachs could have suffered dramatic losses if the federal government hadn’t intervened to bail out AIG, American International Group, the report by the special inspector general for the government bailout program raising doubts about Goldman’s previous claims that it was hedged against potential AIG losses?

ROBERT SCHEER: Yes, well, first of all, this has been...

AMY GOODMAN: What does all that mean?

ROBERT SCHEER: This is the big lie from Goldman, is that, you know, we didn’t -- look, look what happened. Lehman was Goldman’s competitor, was allowed to go belly up, OK? The Secretary of the Treasury was a former head of Goldman Sachs. I don’t want to get into conspiracy theories here, but Robert Rubin was a head of Goldman Sachs, OK? And Paulson was a head of Goldman Sachs. They decide not to—you know, and Rubin was involved in these discussions, Lawrence Summers, Paulson and so forth. Timothy Geithner, who is our Secretary of Treasury, was head of the New York Fed for five years while all this was going on.

So they say, “Let Lehman go, you know, down the tubes,” which is great for Goldman Sachs, because now you have basically two investment houses that are getting all the business. “But on the other hand, we’ll put all this money into AIG,” which was backing these junkie derivatives, these mysterious packages, “and it will be a pass through. People won’t notice, because we’re giving it to AIG.”

$180 billion of our taxpayer money, we taxpayers get nothing in return, AIG is still in the toilet, but Goldman got its money. You know, it got upwards of $20 billion, that they don’t have to pay back. They make a big thing about “We’re going to pay back some of the TARP funds” and everything. And by the way, they were allowed to become a bank. No hearings, no judicial proceedings and so forth. You know, the very thing Lehman was asking for -- “Let us become a bank so we can get some of this TARP funds and everything” -- that was granted to Goldman Sachs.

You know, Ron Paul, by the way, who has been trying to go after the Fed, and he has an accountability piece of legislation that the Democrats have gutted, and said, “Let’s have an audit of the Fed. Let’s find out what does the Federal Reserve do. What are the deals they made? Where did the money go?” We don’t have that.

And the inspector general of the Treasury Department, the inspector general, you know, Elizabeth Warren, all of these people have pointed -- from the Congressional Oversight Panel -- all of these people point out, “We don’t have the facts. We don’t know where the trillions are going.” We know trillions have been committed. We know all of these huge pools -- Bank of America’s $300 billion of toxic assets have been backed up. But there’s no accountability.

I have covered the CIA, I’ve covered national security, and I’ve covered banking. I did it for the LA Times in one way or another for thirty years, OK? It is more difficult to cover Wall Street, in terms of secrecy and classification and their protection, than it is to cover the CIA and the Pentagon. That much I’ll tell you.

You know, you get greater claim on the truth covering the Pentagon, as I did in my last book, than I’m having in my current book called The Great American Stick-Up that Nation Books is publishing. And, you know, these people go, “No, it’s proprietary. It’s our business. It has nothing to do with you.” And that goes for the Fed, which is supposed to be a government agency.

And so, for Chris Dodd to say, “No, we have to take power away from the Fed. We have to create a new independent agency to supervise these too big to fail institutions to make sure that they don’t go belly up and we taxpayers pay for them again,” he’s absolutely right. And people watching this, if there’s one thing they should demand from the Obama administration, is get behind the Dodd bill on taking power from the Fed and creating a new publicly accountable agency. That’s absolutely critical. Without that, we’re not going to get out of this mess, and we’re not going to prevent a future one.

AMY GOODMAN: Very quickly, you profile -- you profile Brooksley Born in an article, “They Shot the Messenger.”

ROBERT SCHEER: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: What was his message?

ROBERT SCHEER: That was in Ms. Magazine, that my wife wrote, Narda Zacchino, and I worked with her. Brooksley Born is the great hero of the whole drama. Brooksley Born was the head of the Commodity Futures Board. And Brooksley Born, seventeen times, testified before Congress that this was a disaster in the making.

And the old boys’ club that is now in power -- Lawrence Summers, Timothy Geithner, and it was Robert Rubin and Neal Wolin, who condemned Dodd the other day -- they smashed Brooksley Born. They took away her power. They pushed through the Commodity Futures Modernization Act that said there can be no regulation of these over-the-counter derivatives. That’s why we’re in this big mess today.

So Brooksley Born should have statues to her, you know? She is on the committee -- Nancy Pelosi appointed her to the committee that’s supposed to be, you know, overseeing the rewrite of legislation. I’m hoping, you know, that she’ll be listened to. But basically it’s the old boy club that got us into this mess that is scamming us once again.

AMY GOODMAN: Robert Scheer, I want to thank you for being with us, of Truthdig.com, author of many books, including, appropriately, The Pornography of Power.

[Alex Knight maintains the website endofcapitalism.com where this article also appears, and is writing a book called The End of Capitalism. He can be reached at activistalex@gmail.com.]

The Rag Blog

“The Devil kissed me tonight & I saw Heaven”, by soniahunt

[Thanks to William Dickenson for this link]

Close your eyes & I’ll tell you a story. It was a cold winter night. I was wrapped in a silky pashmina underneath my wool coat because I was wearing a sexy sleeveless top that didn’t know it was 47 degrees outside. The alley was dirty. Two men were sitting outside smoking cigars. I nod and walk in. It’s dark. I hear the sounds of old jazz playing in the background. The faces at the bar are only visible by the backlight behind the extremely organized bottles of alcohol. I sit. “Four Roses Bourbon, neat”, says my raspy voice. The bartender is impressed. What, you’ve never met a girl that knows her Whiskey?? He smirks. Just do your job, mister. I’m presented a menu and my eyes are taken aback. And there he is; as romantic as the alley in which he resides. I take a sip of Four Roses as my eyes widen with excitement. I nod to the bartender and he reacts as if he knows what I’m saying. I sit, acting coy so as to not show my excitement for what is about to happen. And then he comes to me. So beautiful, so neat; just breathtaking. He is in front of me. I start to quiver..wait, that was my last blog. I close my eyes and open my mouth and the little devil kisses me! Moist bliss; So good that I stopped breathing. Breathe baby, I’m telling myself, as I’m waiting for the next one. Licking my lips, smiling, seeing the warm light of heaven. And finally I profess out loud ‘this is the best damn Deviled Egg I’ve had in my life!’.

Yes, Deviled Eggs. They are somewhat of a phenomenon to me. I’ve recently seen them on menus everywhere in NYC and being the angel that I am, I try them because I don’t really make a good one. No where in NY have I found one that I like – too dry, too much mayo, flakes of paprika caked on. Groce! But let me tell you something…the Deviled Eggs at Bix will make you feel like you’ve just reached heaven. The minute they touched my lips I tasted cream, moistness, salt – just like a nervous guy when plants one on you. But wait..garlic, hint of truffles &, shaved beans lightly kissed with chives? Oh God! The flavors don’t overpower each other; they melt together in your mouth, just like a kiss. And with a Four Roses Bourbon, you might as well call it a night after you’re done because these hors d’oeuvres are enough to fill your tummy, warm your heart &; keep you satisfied on a cold night.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Woman raped by KBR (Halliburton subsidiary) awarded $3M in sexual assault claim

By JUAN A. LOZANO (AP) 11/19

HOUSTON — A woman who was raped in 2005 while working in Iraq for a former Halliburton Co. subsidiary has been awarded nearly $3 million by an arbitrator to settle her case.

Tracy Barker had sued U.S. contractor KBR Inc., it.s former parent company Halliburton and several affiliates in May 2007, claiming she was sexually attacked by a State Department employee while working as a civilian contractor in the southern Iraqi city of Basra.

A federal judge in Houston had dismissed Barker's lawsuit in January 2008, ruling she had to abide by an employment agreement she signed that said any claims she made against the companies would have to be settled through arbitration and not the courts.

Court records filed this week show Barker was awarded a judgment of $2.93 million to settle her arbitration claim against KBR.

The Associated Press doesn't usually identify those who report they were sexually assaulted, but Barker made her identity public in her lawsuit.

"It took me a long time to get here. I'm happy about the award," Barker, 38, who lives in Yuma, Ariz., told the AP.

In a statement, Houston-based KBR said Thursday it disagreed with the interim ruling from the arbitrator and it has filed a motion to modify the award.

"However, the decision validates what KBR has maintained all along; that the arbitration process is truly neutral and works in the best interest of the parties involved," the statement said.

Barker said she was upset KBR is trying to modify the award.

"They are still dragging it out," she said. "They didn't win and now they want to amend the award. You can't with binding arbitration. How is that fair?"

In her lawsuit, Barker had claimed while working in the companies' procurement department in Baghdad, she was housed in mostly male barracks and consistently subjected to sexually explicit comments and verbal and physical threats of abuse. Barker claimed she and other employees complained to the companies but they did nothing and instead retaliated against her.

Barker was later transferred to Basra, where she claimed that in June 2005, she was raped in her room by the State Department employee, who she also sued. That case was transferred to federal court in Virginia, where it was formally settled last week. Details of the settlement were not made public.

U.S. District Judge Gray Miller, in dismissing the lawsuit against KBR, said that until Congress tells courts that binding contracts to arbitrate do not include sexual harassment claims, Barker's claims had to be arbitrated.

Last month, the Senate approved a measure prohibiting the Defense Department from contracting with companies that require employees to resolve sexual assault allegations and other claims through arbitration.

The amendment was attached to a larger defense spending bill. A vote on the full bill was expected later.

Miller did not dismiss claims by Barker's husband, Galen Barker, that he had experienced loss of consortium — diminished care, companionship or affection — because of what his wife had experienced. The Barkers' attorney asked Miller this week to put those claims back on his docket.

In September, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled that a similar lawsuit filed by another ex-contract worker, Jamie Leigh Jones, could go to court in Houston instead of arbitration.

Jones filed a federal lawsuit in 2007 claiming she was raped by Halliburton and KBR firefighters while working at Camp Hope, Baghdad, in 2005.

Jones has also made her identity public in her lawsuit and her face and name have been broadcast in media reports and on her own Web site.

The Bolivarian Revolution And Peace by Cuban Agency News*, -Fidel Castro Ruz-


JPEG - 22.1 kb
Hugo Chavez
[Thanks to cent for the link...I had a sense a while back that shit would start to go down with regard to this...The insidious U.S. two party stranglehold is as predictable as the sun rising...]

Preparations by the United States are underway for a war against the ALBA countries. Following the coup in Honduras and the installation of military bases in Colombia, they have launched a press campaign to justify their sinister plans. The U.S. and Colombian media are inverting the roles by portraying Venezuela as the aggressor, Colombia as the prey and the U.S. as the saviour. A classic scenario denounced here by Fidel Castro.

I know Chavez well, and no one could be more reluctant than him to allow a showdown between the Venezuelan and Colombian peoples leading to bloodshed. These are two fraternal peoples, the same as Cubans living in the east, center and west end of our island. I find no other way to explain the close relationship between Venezuelans and Colombians.

The slanderous Yankee accusation that Chavez is planning a war against neighboring Colombia led an influential paper of that country to run a story last Sunday, November 15, under the headline “War Drums.” It was a pejorative and insulting editorial against the Venezuelan President asserting, among other things, that “Colombia should take very seriously the gravest threat to its national security in more than seven decades as it comes from a President with a military background…”

It goes on to say that: “The reason is the growing potential for a provocation that can go from an incident along the border to an attack on civilian and military facilities in Colombia.”

Further on the editorial claims it is likely “…that Hugo Chavez intensifies his attacks against the ‘scrawny’ –the sobriquet he applies to his oppositionists—and tries to remove from regional and local governments those who contradict him. He already did it with the Mayor of Caracas…and now he wants to try with the governors of the states sharing borders with Colombia who refuse to be under his rule…a clash with Colombian forces or the accusation that the paramilitary plan to conduct actions within Venezuelan territory could be the pretext required by Chavez’s regime to suspend constitutional rights.”

Such words can only serve to justify the United States’ aggressive plans and the blatant treachery of the Venezuelan oligarchy and counterrevolution to their Homeland.

Coinciding with the release of that editorial, the Bolivarian leader had published his weekly column known as “Chavez’s lines,” where he analyzed the shameless concession of seven US military bases in Colombia, a country that shares about 1,281 miles of border with Venezuela.

In his article, the President of the Bolivarian Republic was very clear and brave in explaining his position.

“…I said it this Friday at the rally for peace and against the US military bases in Colombian territory: It is my duty to appeal to all of you, men and women, to defend Bolivar’s Homeland, our children’s Homeland… Our Homeland is free today and we shall defend it with our lives. Never again will Venezuela be anybody’s colony; never again will it kneel down before any invader or empire…the extremely serious and transcendental problem in Colombia cannot be overlooked by the Latin American governments…”

Later on, he added some important concepts: “…the entire ‘gringo’ war arsenal included in the agreement responds to the concept of extraterritorial operations…it turns the Colombian territory into an enormous Yankee military enclave…the greatest threat to peace and security in the South American region and in Our America.”

“The agreement…prevents Colombia from offering anyone security and respect; not even
Colombian men and women. A country that has lost its sovereignty and become an instrument of the ‘new colonial power’ envisioned by our Liberator cannot offer such guarantees.”

Chavez is a true revolutionary, a profound and sincere thinker, a courageous and restless worker. He did not win power through a coup d’état. He rebelled against the repression and genocide unleashed by the neoliberal governments that surrendered the country’s huge natural resources to the United States. He endured incarceration; he matured and developed his ideas. He did not win power with weapons despite his military background.

It is his merit to have taken the difficult path of a profound social Revolution starting out from the so-called representative democracy and an absolute freedom of expression, at a time when the most powerful media resources of the country were –they still are—in the hands of the oligarchy and at the service of the empire’s interests.

In just 11 years, Venezuela has achieved the greatest educational and social progress attained by any country in the world, despite the coup d’état and the destabilization plans and smearing campaigns implemented by the United States.

The empire did not decree an economic blockade on Venezuela, —as it did in the case of Cuba— after the failure of its sophisticated actions against the Venezuelan people because it would have meant blockading itself given its foreign energy dependence. But it has not abandoned its purpose to do away with the Bolivarian process and the generous support this gives the Caribbean and Central American peoples in terms of oil resources, and its extensive trade relations with South America, China, Russia and numerous countries of Asia, Africa and Europe. Large segments of the population in every continent sympathize with the Bolivarian Revolution whose relations with Cuba are especially upsetting for the empire which for half a century has sustained a criminal blockade against our country.

Through the ALBA, Bolivar’s Venezuela and Marti’s Cuba are promoting a new type of relationship and exchange on rational and fair basis.

The Bolivarian Revolution has been particularly generous with the Caribbean countries in times of an exceptionally grave energy crisis.

In the current new stage, the Venezuelan Revolution is facing entirely new problems which did not exist almost exactly 50 years ago, when our Revolution triumphed in Cuba.

At that time, drug-trafficking, organized crime, social violence and the paramilitaries were barely known. The United States had yet to become the huge drug market that capitalism and the consumer society have turned it into. It was not so difficult for the Revolution to fight drug-trafficking in Cuba and to prevent the country from being drawn to its production and consumption.

Today, such scourges have brought to Mexico, Central America and South America a growing tragedy which is far from beaten. The unequal terms of trade, protectionism and the plundering of their natural resources has been compounded by drug-trafficking and the violence of organized crime that underdevelopment, poverty, unemployment and the huge US drug market have created in the Latin American societies. The incompetence of that imperial and wealthy nation to prevent drug-trafficking and abuse has paved the way for the cultivation in many places of Latin America of plants whose value as raw material for drug production often exceeds that of the rest of the farm products, thus creating a very serious social and political quagmire.

In Colombia, the paramilitary is today the imperialism’s frontline force to combat the Bolivarian Revolution.

It is precisely thanks to his military background that Chavez knows that the struggle against drug-trafficking is a vulgar pretext used by the United States to justify a military agreement that fully responds to the US post-cold war strategic concept of extending its world domination.

The air bases, the means, the operational rights and total impunity granted to the Yankee military and civilian personnel by Colombia in its own territory have nothing to do with fighting drug cultivation, production and trafficking. This is currently a world problem spreading not only to South American countries, but also to Africa and other regions. It already prevails in Afghanistan despite the massive presence of the Yankee troops.

Drugs should not be used as a pretext to set up bases, invade countries and bring violence, war and plundering to Third World nations. This is the worst environment to sow good qualities among the people and to bring education, healthcare and development to other nations.

Those who think that division between Venezuelans and Colombians can lead to the success of their counterrevolutionary plans are deceiving themselves. Many of the best and most humble workers in Venezuela are Colombians; the Revolution has given them and their immediate family education, healthcare, employment, the right to citizenship and other benefits. Together, Venezuelans and Colombians shall defend the great Homeland of the Liberator of the Americas; together, they shall fight for peace and freedom.

The thousands of Cuban doctors, educators and other collaborators carrying out their internationalist duty in Venezuela shall be with them!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Leo Buscaglia

http://www.buscaglia.com

"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around."
-Leo Buscaglia



Leo Buscaglia -Speaking of Love pt 1 of 6



Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dear President Obama...Is not the White House the peoples’ House? -Sincerely, Ralph Nader

November 18, 2009

Dear President Obama,

You are nearing the day of decision as to whether you order the dispatch of more soldiers to Afghanistan.

Some of your advisors have urged up to 50,000 more soldiers, including several thousand called trainers of the Afghan army.

Other advisors have urged more caution, notably the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan and former general, Karl W. Eikenberry, who opposes more soldiers so long as the Afghan government remains grossly dysfunctional.

Beside your own military and civilian advisors, you are receiving disparate counsel from an anemic Congress and your allies abroad.

But are you soliciting advise from stateside civic groups of experience and repute that represent many Americans? Or from genuine experts on that country such as Ashraf Ghani—a former American professor and later respected member of the Karzai government before his departure to other positions in that country?

George W. Bush, in the duplicitous run-up to the invasion of Iraq, insulated himself, closed his mind and refused to meet with civic associations in his own land. Like an autocrat bent on plunging a country into war and occupation, knowingly on false pretenses, he deliberately deprived himself of the information that might have restrained his disastrous, messianic militarism. Disastrous, not to him and Dick Cheney, but to our country, soldiers, and economy, and to the devastated Iraqi people and their ravaged nation.

In the months before the March 20, 2003, undeclared criminal war of aggression that violated our Constitution, statutes, and treaties, a dozen organizations each formally requested a meeting with him.

These organizations represented tens of millions of Americans. They came from the clergy, labor, environmentalists, businesses, students, peace groups, womens’ groups, city councils, consumer, veteran, teachers groups, and international security experts. Many also came with first hand experience in Iraq and the Middle East.

They wanted to meet with their president. He never even answered their letters. The letters are available at nader.org.

Who would have thought last year that on assuming the presidency, that you would consider plunging deeper in to this quagmire without an exit strategy? The deeper you plunge, the greater your rejection of the history of occupations fueling insurgencies in that region. The more you insulate yourself from contrary judgments to those you have been receiving from your inner councils. Our country, its people and innocent Afghan people will pay the price.

A recent resignation by Matthew P. Hoh, a former marine combat captain in Iraq and highly regarded foreign service officer in Afghanistan, provides an independent analysis of the grievances afflicting the 42 million Pashtuns. In his words:

The Pashtun insurgency, which is composed of multiple, seemingly infinite, local groups, is fed by what is perceived by the Pashtun people as a continued and sustained assault, going back centuries, on Pashtun land, culture, traditions and religion by internal and external enemies. The U.S. and NATO presence and operations in Pashtun valleys and villages, as well as Afghan army and police units that are led and composed of non-Pashtun soldiers and police, provide an occupation force against which the insurgency is justified. In both RC East and South, I have observed that the bulk of the insurgency fights not for the white banner of the Taliban, but rather against the presence of foreign soldiers and taxes imposed by an unrepresentative government in Kabul.

The United States military presence in Afghanistan greatly contributes to the legitimacy and strategic message of the Pashtun insurgency. In a like manner our backing of the Afghan government in its current form continues to distance the government from the people. The Afghan government’s failings, particularly when weighed against the sacrifice of American lives and collars, appear legion and metastatic.


Mr. Hoh proceeds to list these persistent failings and adds his articulate doubts about the strategic purposes of your Administration’s military presence in Afghanistan. He ask, “Why and to what end?” His letter of conscience and protest concludes by noting the limitless effects on our foreign and military policy, and on our country and its economy.

Your staff estimates each U.S. soldier is costing $1 million a year, in addition to the horrific toll on these soldiers and the Afghan people. You owe the American people an un-Bush-like explanation. Why are you not receiving these groups of American from varied backgrounds and experience at the White House on this pending Afghan decision?

They may wonder, by contrast, why you have so many White House meetings with major corporate CEOs from Wall Street, from the health insurance companies and the drug companies. Is not the White House the peoples’ House? Along with many other citizens in our country, I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Ralph Nader

And the birthday presents just keep on coming: Green Party Asks Nader To Run Against Dodd

by Christine Stuart | November 17, 2009 9:34 PM
Posted to Election 2010

The Connecticut Green Party has reached out to Winsted native and Green Party darling Ralph Nader to ask him to run against U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd.
“We’re going to ask him to do it,” Steve Fournier, state co-chairman of the Green Party, said Tuesday night. Nader sees himself as more of a national figure, but “he’s still a star,” Fournier added.
“Since the media reports began in local and national web sites last week, we have seen hundreds of responses urging him to run.” Green Party spokesperson Tim McKee said.
“With Dodd losing in many polls to the Republicans who have announced, we think Nader could be a clear choice to many who have lost faith in Dodd and his scandals with the banking and financial industries,” McKee said.
The Connecticut Green Party has not yet formally asked Nader to run, but that’s because he’s “hard to reach,” Fournier said.
Nader is currently on his “Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!” book tour.
The Connecticut Green Party wasn’t the first to suggest Nader challenge Dodd. In April Keith Burris of the Journal Inquirer in Manchester suggested Nader run against Dodd in this editorial, which was reprinted by the Norwich Bulletin.
Nader’s entry into the race could spell trouble for Dodd who is already trailing three of his Republican opponents in the latest poll.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Book Fair with Ralph Nader and Chris Hedges

From: Dandelion Salad
“Only the Super Rich Can Save Us”
with Ralph Nader
C-SPAN Video Library
Nov. 15, 2009
Ralph Nader talked about his novel “Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!” Seven Stories Press; September 22, 2009. In his book he speculates on what could happen if America’s wealthiest individuals decided to work for the collective good. Mr. Nader, a consumer activist, had previously campaigned to be the president of the United States as the Green Party nominee and as an independent. This event of the 26th Miami Book Fair International took place Sunday, November 15, 2009, 10:00 a.m., in the Chapman Conference Center of Miami Dade College, Wolfson Campus. Included in program ID 289996-1.
video: ["Only the Super Rich Can Save Us"] – C-SPAN Video Library.
***
Politics and Culture Panel
C-SPAN Video Library
Nov. 15, 2009
Authors talked about their books on politics and culture. George Packer is the author of Interesting Times: Writings from a Turbulent Decade Farrar, Straus and Giroux; November 10, 2009. Chris Hedges is the author of Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle Nation Books; July 13, 2009. Sam Tanenhaus is the author of The Death of Conservatism Random House, 2009. “Political History/Cultural Analysis,” an event of the 26th Miami Book Fair International, took place Sunday, November 15, 2009, 12:00 p.m., in the Chapman Conference Center of Miami Dade College, Wolfson Campus. Included in program ID 289996-1.
via Politics and Culture Panel – C-SPAN Video Library.
***
The entire program which includes the above video links:
2009 Miami Book Fair International, Sunday
with Ralph Nader
and Chris Hedges
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
C-SPAN Video Library
BookTV featured live coverage from the 2009 Miami Book Fair International. Scheduled events included: 10:00 a.m. – Ralph Nader, author of Only the Super Rich Can Save Us 10:55 a.m. – live call-in with Ralph Nader 12:00 p.m. – Politics and Culture Panel: George Packer, author of Interesting Times; Chris Hedges, author of Empire of Illusion; and Sam Tanenhaus, author of The Death of Conservatism 1:30 p.m. – Israel Panel: Rich Cohen, author of Israel Is Real; Joel Schalit, author of Israel v. Utopia; and Dan Senor, author of Start-Up Nation 3:00 p.m. – Norman Podhoretz, author of Why Are Jews Liberal? 4:00 p.m.- live call-in with Norman Podhoretz
video: 2009 Miami Book Fair International, Sunday – C-SPAN Video Library [Ralph's Q&A starts at around 90 mins in]
***
Clip from first program
Ralph Nader “There Are Hundreds Of Thousands Of People In Jail That Shouldn’t Be There!
MoxNewsDotCom
November 15, 2009



Politics and Culture Panel (Part 1)
MoxNewsDotCom
November 16, 2009

more about ““The Death Of Conservatism” Panel Mia…“, posted with vodpod

Monday, November 16, 2009

Video: Gerald Celente – American public losing everything to fascist oligarchs

Source: YouTube

Gerald Celente is one of the world’s best trend forecasters. In the following 4-part radio interview, Celente blasts current political and economic “leadership” as beholden to large corporate and financial interests. As I’ve documented, professionals who work with economics are using unprecedented harsh language in attempt to get Americans’ attention to the loss of trillions of our collective dollars. His comments include (paraphrased):
And reform is not on the way. Senator Bird’s “reform” bill is nothing but empty rhetoric. My favorite economic analyst, Washington’s Blog, gives a great overview. One helpful context to consider is the American economy is suffering from parasites.
As always, please share this article with all who claim they want economic competence. If you appreciate my work, please subscribe by clicking under the article title (it’s free). Please feel free to use my archive of work to help build a brighter future.
Part 1 of 4

Part 2 of 4

Part 3 of 4

Part 4 of 4





Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday



Who calls her two-faced? Faces, she has three:

The first inscrutable, for the outer world

The second, shrouded in self-contemplation;

The third, her face of love

Once for an endless moment turned on me.

=Robert Graves, The Three-Faced=

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Visions of Old Led Zeppelin


over the hills and far away.mp3
dyer maker.mp3
trampled under foot.mp3 
houses of the holy.mp3
nobody's fault but mine.mp3

Friday, November 13, 2009

Nader may run for Senate from Connecticut

By Jeff Mapes, The Oregonian
November 13, 2009, 9:02AM

After messing with the heads of Democrats in the last four presidential elections, Ralph Nader may now be ready to cause problems for Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn.

The veteran consumer advocate tells Politico he's open to the idea of running against Dodd, who is already in tough political straits. As Politico notes:

Nader's entry as a third party candidate would be terrible news for Dodd, who is hoping to energize his liberal base in possible match-ups against GOP challengers Rob Simmons and Linda McMahon, who lead him in public polls.

It's hard to know if Nader, a Connecticut native who is still registered to vote there, is really serious about running for the Senate. "You can't believe the number of people of asking me [to run]... Right now I'd say I'm agnostic," Nader told Politico.

While Nader is 75, he shows no signs of slowing down. And a Connecticut Senate run wouldn't keep him running for president again in 2012.

Dodd, who chairs the Senate Banking Committee, has been taking heat for what critics have said is his coziness with the financial industry. Dodd sought to bolster his reformer credentials by introducing a tough financial regulation bill earlier this week.

But Nader said Dodd still isn't doing enough to clamp down on exotic financial products.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thanks to ellwort for this lovely poem....

TO THE VIRGINS, TO MAKE MUCH OF TIME.
by Robert Herrick



GATHER ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old time is still a-flying :
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he's a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he's to setting.

That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer ;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may go marry :
For having lost but once your prime
You may for ever tarry.

 
Botticelli.  Three Graces detail from Primavera.

Botticelli. 'Three Graces' detail from 'Primavera' 1481.


Still Waiting for Health Care, by Ralph Nader


The House of Representatives debate on the health insurance “reform” is over with the Democrats failing the people and the Republicans disgracing themselves as having left their minds back in the third grade (with apologies to third graders).

House Democrats were determined to pass any bill with a nice sounding name, such as “The Affordable Health Care for America Act”. Single payer, full Medicare for all was never on the table even though a majority of citizens, physicians and nurses support that far more efficient, free choice of health care professionals, system.

There are no effective cost containment or prevention measures in the bill. The public option is so weak it will be a receptacle for the sickest of patients among the meager number of people who qualify for its coverage. There are no provisions to reduce the number of people (100,000) who die annually from medical malpractice in hospitals.

Nor is there a major program to reduce the tens of billions of dollars that is stolen yearly out of Medicare from criminals inside and outside the medical profession.

The cover story in the November issue of the AARP Bulletin is on the elaborate but detectable schemes to swindle Medicare with phantom services, phony rentals of equipment, stolen Medicare numbers and the like. The author, Jay Weaver, writes: “So lucrative, and so low-risk, the FBI reports, that a number of cocaine dealers in Florida and California have switched from illicit drugs to Medicare fraud.”

Although more money is finally going for prosecutions, there is nowhere near enough for this corporate crime wave. Medicare’s office of Inspector General asserts that every dollar of law enforcement will save $17 of theft.

Computerized billing fraud and abuse takes anywhere from $250 billion to double that estimate by the General Accounting Office. (The GAO said ten percent of health care expenditures are going down the drain.) The reason why the estimates cover such a broad range, according to Professor Malcolm Sparrow of Harvard University, is that there are inadequate resources to document the huge hemorrhaging of the nation’s health care budget and come up with better data.

Apart from the impoverishment of the debate, there is the actual doing of harm. The bill, if enacted, doesn’t take effect until after the presidential elections in 2013, mostly to let the drug and health insurance industries adjust, though they can scarcely believe their good fortune at being delivered all those profitable customers paid for by taxpayers with scarcely any price restraints.

The American Journal of Public Health has just published a peer-reviewed study by Harvard physicians-researchers that estimates 45,000 Americans lose their lives yearly because they cannot afford health insurance to receive diagnosis and treatment. Strange how cool the House is to giving these fatalities a four year pass.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), a leading single payer advocate, voted against this legislation for many reasons, most notably the Obama-driven omission of his amendment to clear the way legally for states to pass their own single payer laws. Several states, such as Pennsylvania, are in the process of moving legislation in this direction, but are concerned that the health insurers will claim federal pre-emption.

The victims of medical malpractice – estimated by the Institute of Medicine and the Harvard School of Public Health to be about 100,000 deaths a year – escaped having to overcome more hurdles before they have their full day in court. Helping to beat back the Republicans, who define “medical malpractice reform” as letting the negligent perpetrators get away with their lethal consequences, was Congressman Bruce Braley (D-IA).

Rising on the House floor he delivered a factual plea for patient safety. Hardly had he started to speak with Republicans started shouting “trial lawyer, trial lawyer” referring to his previous profession of representing wrongfully injured people before local juries in Iowa. This rare display of shouting by opponents was punctuated by one of their unleashed members rushing down the aisle shouting “You’ll pay for this.”

During this overall debate on the bill, Republicans stood up one by one, as prevaricatory dittoheads, to often scream and howl (like coyotes) that this is “a government takeover of one sixth of the economy,” “would destroy the economy,” “put 5.5 million people out of work,” “destroy the doctor-patient relationship,” “be a steamroller of socialism,” “force millions of seniors to lose their current health coverage” (meaning, Medicare?) and, in a passionate appeal to the Almighty, Congressman John Fleming (R-LA) declared “God help us as the government takes over your day-to-day life.”

Never mind that this bill is just an expansion, however misdirected, of government health insurance designed to increase corporate profits and increase the corporate grip over the day-to-day decisions regarding who, when and how people get their health care or get their bills paid.

To top off the madness, Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT), an ever maturing political hermaphrodite, reneged on his assurance to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and imperiously announced on Fox News Sunday that “if the public option plan is in there, as a matter of conscience, I will not allow this bill to come to a final vote.”

For media-centric Joe, his motto seems to be “L’Senat c’est moi.”

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Virginity, by Rudyard Kipling

Try as he will, no man breaks wholly loose
From his first love, no matter who she be.
Oh, was there ever sailor free to choose,
That didn't settle somewhere near the sea?

Myself, it don't excite me nor amuse
To watch a pack o' shipping on the sea;
But I can understand my neighbour's views
From certain things which have occured to me.

Men must keep touch with things they used to use
To earn their living, even when they are free;
And so come back upon the least excuse --
Same as the sailor settled near the sea.

He knows he's never going on no cruise --
He knows he's done and finished with the sea;
And yet he likes to feel she's there to use --
If he should ask her -- as she used to be.

Even though she cost him all he had to lose,
Even though she made him sick to hear or see,
Still, what she left of him will mostly choose
Her skirts to sit by. How comes such to be?

Parsons in pulpits, tax-payers in pews,
Kings on your thrones, you know as well as me,
We've only one virginity to lose,
And where we lost it there our hearts will be!
*



Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Justice Dept. Asked For INDYMEDIA News Site's Visitor Lists

Posted by Declan McCullagh

Justice Dept. Asked For News Site's Visitor Lists

In a case that raises questions about online journalism and privacy rights, the U.S. Department of Justice sent a formal request to an independent news site ordering it to provide details of all reader visits on a certain day. The grand jury subpoena also required the Philadelphia-based Indymedia.us Web site "not to disclose the existence of this request" unless authorized by the Justice Department, a gag order that presents an unusual quandary for any news organization. Kristina Clair, a 34-year old Linux administrator living in Philadelphia who provides free server space for Indymedia.us, said she was shocked to receive the Justice Department's subpoena. (The Independent Media Center is a left-of-center amalgamation of journalists and advocates that – according to their principles of unity and mission statement – work toward "promoting social and economic justice" and "social change.") The subpoena (PDF) from U.S. Attorney Tim Morrison in Indianapolis demanded "all IP traffic to and from www.indymedia.us" on June 25, 2008. It instructed Clair to "include IP addresses, times, and any other identifying information," including e-mail addresses, physical addresses, registered accounts, and Indymedia readers' Social Security Numbers, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, and so on. "I didn't think anything we were doing was worthy of any (federal) attention," Clair said in a telephone interview with CBSNews.com on Monday. After talking to other Indymedia volunteers, Clair ended up calling the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco, which represented her at no cost. Under long-standing Justice Department guidelines, subpoenas to members of the news media are supposed to receive special treatment. One portion of the guidelines, for instance, says that "no subpoena may be issued to any member of the news media" without "the express authorization of the attorney general" – that would be current attorney general Eric Holder – and subpoenas should be "directed at material information regarding a limited subject matter." Still unclear is what criminal investigation U.S. Attorney Morrison was pursuing. Last Friday, a spokeswoman initially promised a response, but Morrison sent e-mail on Monday evening saying: "We have no comment." The Justice Department in Washington, D.C. also declined to respond. Kevin Bankston, a senior staff attorney at the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, replied to the Justice Department on behalf of his client in a February 2009 letter (PDF) outlining what he described as a series of problems with the subpoena, including that it was not personally served, that a judge-issued court order would be required for the full logs, and that Indymedia did not store logs in the first place. Morrison replied in a one-sentence letter saying the subpoena had been withdrawn. Around the same time, according to the EFF, the group had a series of discussions with assistant U.S. attorneys in Morrison's office who threatened Clair with possible prosecution for obstruction of justice if she disclosed the existence of the already-withdrawn subpoena -- claiming it "may endanger someone's health" and would have a "human cost." Lucy Dalglish, the executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of The Press, said a gag order to a news organization wouldn't stand up in court: "If you get a subpoena and you're a journalist, they can't gag you." Dalglish said that a subpoena being issued and withdrawn is not unprecedented. "I have seen any number of these things withdrawn when counsel for someone who is claiming a reporter's privilege says, 'Can you tell me the date you got approval from the attorney general's office'... I'm willing to chalk this up to bad lawyering on the part of the DOJ, or just not thinking." Making this investigation more mysterious is that Indymedia.us is an aggregation site, meaning articles that appear on it were published somewhere else first, and there's no hint about what sparked the criminal probe. Clair, the system administrator, says that no IP (Internet Protocol) addresses are recorded for Indymedia.us, and non-IP address logs are kept for a few weeks and then discarded. EFF's Bankston wrote a second letter to the government saying that, if it needed to muzzle Indymedia, it should apply for a gag order under the section of federal law that clearly permits such an order to be issued. Bankston's plan: To challenge that law on First Amendment grounds. But the Justice Department never replied. "This is the first time we've seen them try to get the IP address of everyone who visited a particular site," Bankston said. "That it was a news organization was an additional troubling fact that implicates First Amendment rights." This is not, however, the first time that the Feds have focused on Indymedia -- a Web site whose authors sometimes blur the line between journalism, advocacy, and on-the-streets activism. In 2004, the Justice Department sent a grand jury subpoena asking for information about who posted lists of Republican delegates while urging they be given an unwelcome reception at the party's convention in New York City that year. A Indymedia hosting service in Texas once received a subpoena asking for server logs in relation to an investigation of an attempted murder in Italy. Bankston has written a longer description of the exchange of letters with the Justice Department, which he hopes will raise awareness of how others should respond to similar legal demands for Web logs, customer records, and compulsory silence. "Our fear is that this kind of bogus gag order is much more common than one would hope, considering they're legally baseless," Bankston says. "We're telling this story in hopes that more providers will press back and go public when the government demands their silence." Update 1:59pm E.T.: A Justice Department official familiar with this subpoena just told me that the attorney general's office never saw it and that it had not been submitted to the department's headquarters in Washington, D.C. for review. If that's correct, it suggests that U.S. Attorney Tim Morrison and Assistant U.S. Attorney Doris Pryor did not follow department regulations requiring the "express authorization of the attorney general" for media subpoenas -- and it means that neither Attorney General Eric Holder nor Acting Attorney General Mark Filip were involved. I wouldn't be surprised to see an internal investigation by the Office of Professional Responsibility; my source would not confirm or deny that.

Got Netflix? Watch this documentary online now... now... now... now...

Transformation: The Life and Legacy of Werner Erhard (2007)

In a rare in-depth interview, billionaire personal-growth mogul Werner Erhard reflects on the impact and controversies surrounding his famed brainchild: the "est" program. Vintage footage transports the viewer inside the est seminars, while critics, former participants, experts and Erhard's own family members sound off on the self-help phenomenon and its creator. The documentary screened at the 2006 Palm Beach Film Festival.

Monday, November 09, 2009

And the war drags on . . .

From: http://thecommonills.blogspot.com/

Today the Iraqi Parliament finally passed an election law. Reviewing the press on that should lead to howls of laughter. One exception is Jake Tapper (ABC News) who just reports (as opposed to so many of his peers who wet their panties and BVDs in excitement). Carol E. Lee (Politico) offers text and audio in her report. The elections are now 'scheduled' for January 23rd and, besides Tapper and Lee, there aren't any pieces I can link to because I'm just not in the mood to hold my nose. So many liars, so many spinners, so few reporters. No piece brings up the electoral commission or the UN or the issue of the 90 days but to do that might require raining on the parade the 'press' seems so intent on throwing.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Sunday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 4355. Tonight? 4359. In other news of violence . . .

Bombings?

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed 2 lives and another Mosul roadside bombing which claimed the lives of 3 police officers and left five people wounded.

Shootings?

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 police officer shot dead in Mosul. Reuters notes 1 "employee of the North Oil Company" was shot dead in Kirkuk and, dropping back to Saturday, they note an armed clash in Falluja in which 1 person died and one police officer was injured.

New content at Third:

  • Truest statement of the week
  • Truest statement of the week II
  • A note to our readers
  • Editorial: The results hold a lesson
  • TV: Drinking in a time of cholera
  • KBR burn pits kill and wound US service members
  • How ABC pissed off everyone (Ava and C.I.)
  • Iraq
  • For those about to download . . .
  • The Battle of the Story of the Battle of Seattle
  • Highlights
  • Isaiah's latest goes up after this. The Socialist Worker? We're not interested this week. As Pru points out, they print garbage by coward and liar Virginia Rodino. She needs to take her lying ass and sit it down for a good spell. She rewrites history because she's nothing but an apologist for the Democratic Party -- yes, that is strange for a woman who is not a Democrat. But Rodino didn't have the guts to stand by Ralph Nader in 2008 and she's nothing but a cheap, little political whore. I'm not in the mood for her. Pru e-mails that she can't believe this "revisionary" bulls**t got printed. I can't believe it either. Rodino lies:

    During last year's election the anti-war movement couldn’t avoid relating to working class people's revulsion against Bush. But we should have made it clear that the movement was supporting Obama because he was the candidate who was most likely to be held accountable to its demands.

    Quit lying. There was never any indication that Barack would be held accountable, let alone that he was the "most likely to be held accountable". In fact, reality was quite different. Barack was the little weasel ass who lied repeatedly and, when confronted, whined. Such as when he finally faced something other than fawning from debate moderators: The ABC debate. The one that Barry O ended up having to squirm because the whole world wasn't going to present he was the Political Virign and hadn't played dirty pool the entire campaign. The one where he was going to be pressed on issues. And the response? Have you forgotten? "FAIR" sends out an action alert because their boyfriend got sand kicked in his face. Now Hillary was treated just as harshly as Barack was in that debate and, in fact, that's what we supposedly want the press to do: To pressure, to demand. We don't want them playing footsie with politicians.

    So Rodino needs to take her lying ass and sit it the ___ down. For a long time.

    The 'anti-war' 'movement' said they didn't want contractors in Iraq. After they put pressure on, what was the response? Hillary came out with a proposal to ban them and Barack (and Sammy Power) stated he couldn't do that. Who responded to pressure? Hillary Clinton not Barack Obama. But you may not have known that because Jeremy Scahill and others were lying for Barack in order to destroy Hillary. John Nichols embarrassed himself when it turned out Barack was lying about NAFTA. He started this whisper campaign that it was all a lie and that Hillary spread it and her campaign was talking to the Canadian government!

    Those were all lies. But he said them on Democracy Now! He's never apologized for them, he's never
    corrected them. There is no peace movement in the US because there is NO DAMN ACCOUNTABILITY.

    There will be no 'rebuilding' of the peace movement with the liars who think they can breeze back in -- the liars who provided cover for Barack even when, at the start of March 2008, the BBC began airing the interview with Samantha Power where she revealed that any 'promise' Barack was making before crowds to get votes, any promise on the Iraq War, would not be kept because you don't bind yourself, she said, in 2009, to promises you make in 2008.

    Where were they? Where were the whores masquerading as peace activists? John Nichols was attacking Hillary Clinton about fourteen hours after the BBC started airing that interview -- and lying for Samantha Power by insisting Power and Hillary were good friends. (Power had called Hillary a "monster" and then tried to go off record after making the comment. John Nichols is a liar. When he wrote that piece, Power and Hillary had met face to face only once -- as Power herself had admitted weeks before to Charlie Rose.)

    Where was Tom Hayden? He 'suddenly' 'discovered' the BBC interview . . . months later in July. And then quickly dropped the issue after one brief whine. Where was Leslie Cagan? Where was I Need Attention Benjamin and all of CodeStink?

    Rodino's a damn liar. Those of us who saw what went down, remember what went down. So Rodino needs to take her whore ass off the street and sit it back down because we're not going to play revisionary politics here. A bunch of non-Democratic gas bags decided they hated Hillary but they loved Barry (some because of Leslie and Carl Davidson's e-mails claiming Barack was a secret Socialist -- long before the right started pushing that lie, Communists like Leslie and Carl were already pushing it on the left to try to shore up support for Barry). There was never any accountability for him and never any indication that he would respond to pressure. In fact, if you paid attention, time and again you saw him refuse to respond to any pressure.

    I'm not interested in promoting liars or their lies here. And Rodino can pretend like the 'anti-war' movement is now selling itself out by supporting troops in Afghanistan but they whored it in 2008 when they got on board with Barack who, as Rodino herself admits, always promised more troops in Afghanistan. So all the liars and whores need to get accountable for their own actions and stop pretending they're 'leaders' -- and that list includes, but is not limited to, John Nichols, Laura Flanders, Betsy Reed, Amy Goodman, Norman Solomon, Tom Hayden, Matthew Rothschild, David Corn (it's really shocking to me that Bob Somerby has yet to rip apart David Corn who did, during the Democratic Party primary, all that he's long accused Ceci Connelly and other women of doing to Al Gore in 1999 and 2000 -- that includes David participating in press calls solely to scream and yell at Hillary's staff -- and, for the record, despite the volume, he rarely had his facts correct), Alexander Cockburn (who tries to pretend today that he never pushed Barack -- he pushed like crazy when Hillary was in the race), Jodie Evans, Medea Benajmain, David Swanson (yes, David you printed a lot of lies about Hillary, you did it to run with the pack and because you're so damn stupid -- heaven help us all as you're now being sold as the way to 'rebuild' the peace movement), Leslie Cagan, etc.

    And people, that's just part one. That's just the Democratic Party primary. That's before we get into the way they attacked Cynthia McKinney and Ralph Nader who were real voices of peace. The attacks included inviting Cynthia on air, KPFK, and, as soon as she'd finished speaking (speaking accurately about the 2000 vote in Florida), the snitty little Brit attacked her -- while Cynthia was off air. KPFK allowed their snitty little Brit -- the BBC refugee whose career ended in England for good reason -- to rip her apart and make fun of her on air. To claim she didn't know what she was talking about. (Strange, everything she said was long ago documented by Greg Palast whose book's repeatedly credit Cynthia.) But that's part two, when the left attacks their own in order to whore Barack as a 'peace' candidate. So, I'm not in the mood for the revisionary tactics and shame on the Socialist Worker for printing that s**t. By the way, I'm mad right now, if you can't tell. Thus far, I've avoided calling out the CIA cut-out that pimped Barack. A lot of people wrongly assume I've called them out. I actually avoided them in 2008 when I learned of their long and close association with both the CIA and Barack's mother. And that would probably be part three of the story. Barack was never a 'peace' candidate (and his mother was never about 'peace' either).

    You really need to read her garbage to grasp what a piece of trash she is. For example, she writes, "During last year's election the anti-war movement couldn't avoid relating to working class people's revulsion against Bush." Think about that sentence. Grasp that to her, the working class is something to be manipulated (therefore 'relate' to their revulsion of Bush to get them on board with you) and that the "working class people" -- in her mind -- were not in fact member of the "anti-war movement." Never fail to be shocked by how smug and condescending so many who have so few reasons to be actually are. It's classicism and it exists among so many of our gas bags on the left. If you're not grasping just how little she thinks of the intelligence of the "working class" and how she does not see them as part of the "anti-war movement," read the following passages from Rodino:

    In the face of such contradictions, in a time when the working class in the US is paying close attention to the economy and political policy on issues like health care, the nation's largest anti-war coalition, United for Peace and Justice, finds itself on the brink of collapse.

    Oh, at last that 'stupid' working class was finally "paying close attention" -- at last, those idiots, those uneducated idiots. The smugness wafting off of this woman is intolerable. And grasp that she whines about UFPJ. That piece of crap organization needs to die. Before they hitched their wagon to Barack (and they did -- and hailed his election -- the 'non-partisan' group -- on their website the day after), they'd already lost their credibility on campuses. We'd documented that here and at Third. The slide was already beginning. UPFJ just ensured that everyone would grasp what whores and liars they were that much quicker when they made it their mission to elect Barry O.

    And it didn't help that most knew Leslie was a Communist and young activists on campus who are Communists found her to be as embarrassing as LGBTers found Liberace to be. Point of fact, closets are for wardrobes, not secrets. Back to Rodino:

    In part it dug its own grave by claiming Obama's victory as an anti-war victory. It offered ordinary people little reason to believe the anti-war movement would still be needed once he was in the White House.

    Oh those stupid, stupid Ordinary People! Conrad! Conrad!

    What a dumb ass and what a liar. Who dug the grave, Rodino? Who put the cookie in the cookie jar? I believe those were your unwashed hands in November of 2008 churning out fluff, garbabe and, yes, lies like "US voices for change." What you accuse others of doing? You did it and there is a record that demonstrates your whoring. You're not a voice for piece, you're just one more political whore swinging their ass in whatever direction they think the wind is blowing. Or as Winona tells Ethan in Reality Bites, "Your bravado is embarrassing."

    The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.



    Sunday, November 08, 2009

    HUNTING – the war on wildlife

    Posted by thomaspainescorner on November 7, 2009


    Simulposted with Animal Rights Africa

    Hunters are killers, plain and simple. Let us not mince words. Hunters try to justify their violent pastime, but whatever they say to the contrary, hunting is the premeditated, cold-blooded killing of innocent animals.
    The object of the hunt is to kill animals. Hunters argue that it is not just about killing. They claim that the camaraderie, nature appreciation, exercise, nature education, and so-called conservation benefits are just as important a part of the hunt as the actual killing or attempted killing of the target animal.
    But most people can appreciate and learn about nature and also contribute to nature conservation efforts without having to kill animals, and by doing their shooting with a camera instead of a gun or bow.

    Do hunters really care?
    It is ludicrous to believe that someone who actively sets out to kill a healthy animal for fun, trophy or profit really cares about wild animals specifically or nature in general. Photographs of smiling hunters posing with their dead victims hardly reflect the kind of “caring” that most normal people relate to. If hunters are the “true” conservationists they claim to be, and really do care about animals, they would pursue every humane, non-lethal possibility or means of caring for wild animals and the environment. Instead, their solution to any perceived problem with animals is to reach for the gun. Why is it that hunters, as so-called conservationists, are interested only in those animals that are most attractive as trophies, most enjoyable to eat or most “challenging” to hunt?


    Do hunters pay for conservation?
    Killing wild animals is big business, and there are lots of people who make a lot of money out of it. Those who encourage and participate in hunting form part of a multi-million Rand industry that will fight to its last breath to stay in business. Manufacturers and marketers of hunting gear and clothing, guns and ammunition, bows and arrows, camping equipment and much more have a vested interest in promoting hunting as a good, healthy outdoor sport for the whole family. The more hunters out there killing, the more they sell.
    Game ranchers and provincial and national conservation authorities generate millions of Rands annually by selling wild animals to private game farmers where hunters pay exorbitant fees to kill them for fun, trophy or meat.

    As with every other type of institutionalised animal abuse, hunting will not easily be abolished in spite of relentless pressure from animal rightists. What makes hunting relatively easy to defend is that the hunters have spread a false message that it is they who fund conservation, and that were it not for them, most conservation areas currently in private ownership would convert to agricultural land with the total loss of the wildlife at present on that land. This implies, firstly, that the only justification for maintaining wild animals on the land is to generate funds from hunting, and, secondly, that all land which is not profitable game ranching land must automatically be taken over by environmentally destructive agriculture. This is absolute nonsense.

    Conservation and the protection of wild animals must be funded from ethically acceptable sources, including a conservation levy on all profits from the sale of goods or services which have their origin in any natural resource. Wildlife and environment conservation must not be abandoned to an animal-unfriendly system that uses profit to justify the killing of healthy, defenseless animals. By allowing hunters to make the claim that they “pay for conservation”, human society is failing in its responsibility to wildlife. The fate of wild animals has literally been abandoned into the hands of killers.

    Do hunters fulfil the role of predator?
    Definitely not. Hunters will not miss out on any opportunity to cover themselves in glory, even to the point of claiming the role of natural predator in those areas where natural predators have been eradicated or do not occur.

    But as so-called predator, the hunter selects only the finest specimens to kill. This is in direct contradiction of the role of true predators, who hunt the old, disabled and unwary and in so doing maintain the health of the populations. Predators too old, disabled or incompetent are also preyed on, but not by human hunters who only want healthy specimens in the prime of life.

    The sustained killing of prime specimens of any population or species leads to debilitation of the gene pool and can hasten the rate at which that population or species becomes endangered or even extinct. No natural predator would act in this manner unless in very unnatural and exceptional circumstances. Natural and balanced predator/prey relationships lead to healthy populations of both the prey and the predator species.

    Why hunting is wrong!
    Hunting is wrong because for no good reason it violates the most basic right of any living creature – the right to life. According to hunters, they only shoot animals who are surplus or excessive to the carrying capacity of the land or who are old or injured . They claim that their killing is done for humane and practical reasons, and that an untimely death by bullet or arrow is preferable to death from natural causes.

    All of this presumes that animals who are killed or wounded by human hunters, endure less fear, stress and pain than those animals dying from natural causes, including predation.

    It is a fact that hunters kill for the pleasure, the satisfaction and the boost it gives their fragile egos. This makes killing seem like an honorable pastime that others should strive to emulate. It relegates animals to the status of utility items that exist to pleasure humans, and if that pleasure lies in the killing of an animal, then so be it.
    Hunting simply perpetuates the ethically indefensible conception that animals exist for humans. And nothing more emphatically emphasises this misconception than when humans deliberately track down a wild animal and kill it for fun, trophy or profit. This shows an absolute disregard by hunters for the right of wild animals to live out their lives as nature intended, in circumstances which allow them to enjoy the diverse experiences of living in their natural environment. And for as long as hunters are allowed to conduct their bloody war on innocent wild animals with the sanction of civil society, then every human in that society shares in the guilt of the wrongdoing.

    Also, when a hunter removes the body of the animal he/she has killed, this in fact robs that ecosystem of the nutrients locked up in that animal’s body. Every animal is composed entirely of elements accumulated within the ecosystem in which that animal has lived. When an animal dies of natural causes, the body is decomposed or consumed within that ecosystem, and the elements which made up the body are released back into that ecosystem and recycled through other plants and animals. When a hunter removes the dead animal from that ecosystem, the elements contained in that body are lost to the ecosystem.

    Considering the weapons used by hunters today, it is an understatement to say that a targeted animal has little or no chance of avoiding being killed or wounded. The distance from which a hunter can deliver a fatal shot far exceeds the distance from which a natural predator could successfully attack it’s intended prey. Wild animals have not yet evolved the instinct required to keep modern hunters at a “safe” distance.

    Man has always hunted
    There is a very clear attempt by hunters to defend their bloody sport by claiming that it is in the human genes to hunt. This is absolutely not true. Hunters are conditioned into hunting by their peers and by an industry, which in various ways encourages people to become hunters by associating it with manhood, adventure and
    even Divine decree.

    What this implies is that humans are incapable of evolving into more civilised, caring and tolerant beings. Fortunately nothing could be further from the truth. There is hope for a future in which animals are respected for their inherent value, and that those laws which now give humans the “right” to own and abuse animals will be replaced by popular laws which protect the rights of all animals, just as they now protect the rights of all humans.

    Hunters and criticism
    Hunters are notoriously intolerant of anyone who questions their so-called “ethics” or who dares to criticise their violent pastime. Anyone who opposes the killing of innocent animals by hunters is labeled a “bunny-hugger”, “unrealistic”, “impractical”, “emotional”, “ignorant”, “humaniac”, even a “terrorist” if you happen to be an animal rightist.

    Any critics of hunting are so ridiculed that both they and civil society at large are cowed into a state of silent acceptance of hunting as an indispensable, even honorable, component of orthodox conservation policy and practice.

    That hunters have to go to ever-greater lengths to defend their actions to an increasingly critical, well-informed public, is encouraging. However, the use of terms such as “sustainable use” and “wise use” have become the everyday language of hunters and are intended to give legitimacy to their killing.

    It is also an unfortunate reality that most wildlife-related NGO’s are dominated by people who are themselves hunters or who see no wrong in others killing wild animals for fun, profit or trophy. Most ordinary members of these organisations are quickly indoctrinated into accepting that hunting is a necessary evil that goes hand in hand with so-called “sustainable use”. Those who criticise the hunting aspect of “sustainable use” are ostracised and sidelined within the organisations of which they are members.

    What you can do to oppose hunting
    1. Join JA and become an anti-hunting activist
    2. Write to provincial and national conservation authorities and object to the opening of conservation areas to hunters
    3. Let hunters know that you are opposed to their violent pastime
    4. Don’t visit conservation areas which allow hunting
    5. Don’t purchase the by-products of hunting i.e venison, biltong, animal skins, curios from hunted animals
    6. Boycott stores that sell hunting equipment and promote hunting
    7. Write anti-hunting letters to newspapers and magazines
    8. Support campaigns to end hunting
    9. Do not join or support conservation organisations that promote or tolerate hunting as an acceptable component of “sustainable use”.

    Saturday, November 07, 2009

    Osama bin Laden videotape a repeat (WHY? Because we're ruled by LIARS, CHEATERS, & STEALERS)

    A videotape of Osama bin Laden released on Friday is a repeat of a tape released many months ago.

    IntelCenter, a U.S.-based terrorism monitoring company, says the latest videotape is the Pashto-language version of the previously released tape.

    Titled "To Our People in Pakistan," the original tape was released on July 12th in Arabic aand Urdu, IntelCenter said Friday. Excerpts had already been screened by Al-Jazeera television (on June 3rd) IntelCenter added.

    In the tape, the al-Qaeda leader, says U.S. President Barack Obama has planted the seeds of "revenge and hatred" toward the United States in the Muslim world, and warns Americans to prepare for the consequences.

    More than sixty audio and viedo tapes have been released by al-Qaeda, many featuring bin Laden, since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.

    Friday, November 06, 2009

    The Age of Mega Content Sites-Answers.com and Demand Media

    From: http://www.nytimes.com

    Two companies that produce massive quantities of new content every day, Answers.com and Demand Media, are rapidly moving up the list of top U.S. web properties, as measured by comScore. Answers.com has risen from #26 to #13 in just two months, and Demand Media has risen from #24 to #15 in the same time period. Answers.com has nearly 38 million pages of content on the Web so far; Demand Media produces 2000 new pieces of content a day.

    Is the fact that these sites produce so much content, and are quickly gaining in popularity as a result, cause for concern about the future of the Web? Will it lead to the same uniformity and lowest common denominator content that afflicts the television industry?

    In this post we take a closer look at how Answers.com is becoming so successful - and what this may mean for the Web. In a follow-up post, we will dive deeper into Demand Media's model, based on an interview I conducted with several Demand Media executives (including founder Richard Rosenblatt) at the Web 2.0 Summit in September.

    Answers.com Rolling in Page Views, Money

    Answers.com, which we reviewed in August, garnered 56.4 Million monthly unique visitors in the United States in September (83M worldwide). For context, that puts it on a similar level as CBS Interactive (#12 with 58M uniques in U.S.) and Apple (#11 with 60M). Demand Media, which we also reviewed in August, was close behind with 52.5M uniques in September.

    Answers.com announced its Q3 2009 financial results today. It made $4.99 million in revenue in that quarter, including $1.9M in September alone. The Q3 09 result was an increase of 40% compared to $3.56 million in Q3 2008. Most of the 09 revenues were from WikiAnswers, which reported $3.42 million in Q3 2009 - an increase of 75% compared to $1.96 million in Q3 2008.

    WikiAnswers is the main reason for Answers.com's popularity. It is a Q&A site driven by user-generated content. And it's growing fast. Bob Rosenschein, Founder, Chairman & CEO of Answers.com, left a comment on our earlier post saying that "the growth in our traffic is almost entirely from our WikiAnswers site."

    In September, WikiAnswers garnered 46.3 million U.S. unique visitors and ReferenceAnswers 21.4 million U.S. unique visitors (note there is some crossover between the two sites, hence those numbers are greater than the unduplicated total of 56.4M).

    Low-Cost Content Production On A Massive Scale

    There are two interesting aspects to the success of Answers.com. Firstly, it has a huge number of pages on the Web now: 38 million as of today. Much of that is user-generated content, so very low cost.

    Secondly, Answers.com's page view and financial success is almost entirely created off the back of Google. Indeed, Answers.com announced recently that it has renewed its Google Services Agreement - extending its access to Google AdSense for two more years. Bob Rosenschein, CEO of Answers.com, is quoted as saying that "we earn the vast majority of our ad revenue from Google's sponsored links."

    Now consider the implications of this for the future of content on the Web. The recent rapid ascensions of Answers.com and Demand Media can only really lead to one conclusion: to succeed in the content business on the Web, you should pump out hundreds of pages of content every day - preferably thousands.

    Now, this is nothing new. We've known for a long time that blog success is more easily gained (gamed?) by producing far more posts per day than any one person can read. This has led to many professional blogs competing with each other on how many posts they can put up every day - usually accompanied by a slide in quality.

    As well as producing as much content as possible, Answers.com and Demand Media also have a low cost structure in common with blogs. But they are taking the 'quantity rules' approach to a whole new level. This is low-cost content production done on a huge scale.

    Just how much content do these two sites have on the Web? There's an easy way to find out: search Google. Here is the amount of content each has, along with some other sites for comparison:

    * wikipedia.org: 56,000,000
    * answers.com: 37,700,000 (of which wiki.answers.com accounts for 34,100,000)
    * nytimes.com: 13,200,000
    * washingtonpost.com: 12,500,000
    * ehow.com: 4,850,000 (this is Demand Media's lead site)
    * huffingtonpost.com: 4,740,000
    * mashable.com: 210,000
    * techcrunch.com: 124,000
    * readwriteweb.com: 37,700

    Answers.com has nearly 38 million pages of content on the Web. Much of it is discovered via Google; and monetized via Google. Wikipedia still has more content, but it is a non-profit world encyclopedia. Answers.com is a commercial company, out to make money.

    Demand Media is well behind Answers.com (and Wikipedia), but there's reason to believe it will ramp up fast. In August the company told us that it produces 2,000 pieces of content per day, across its network of sites. It also has a slick content production 'studio' system, which we will explore in our next post.

    Interesting to note that Huffington Post is really the closest the blog world has to a player in this 'mega content' space - but then most of the site's content comes from aggregating it from other sites. Huffington Post has been criticized by the New York Times in particular for this practice.

    A note on New York Times and Washington Post. Clearly they both have a lot of content too - but they also have a lot of well-paid staff. Answers.com and Demand Media are producing content at a fraction of the price NYT and WP pay for it.

    The Age of Mega Content Sites - Where Is This Headed?

    On the Web, traditionally success has been measured by page views. This isn't always the case - there's certainly a place for quality over quantity, a philosophy which we at ReadWriteWeb firmly believe in! But by and large, big page views usually means big revenue... or at least the promise of it (e.g. in Facebook's case).

    Both Answers.com and Demand Media are onto a good thing. They have different approaches - Answers.com is largely user-generated content combined with Wikipedia and other sources; Demand Media has created a low-cost content factory, by employing thousands of freelancers.

    Google is largely keeping both companies in business - it is the source of most of their traffic (because a lot of it is reference or resource content) and certainly in Answers.com's case it provides the bulk of its revenue.

    I can't help but think that the rapid rise of these two companies may be bad news for the Web. If a small number of companies come to dominate a content market, usually blandness and lowest common denominator fare follows. The network television and radio markets in almost any country in the world is evidence of that. Likewise, if you search Google for a reference article and the first page of results is littered with Answers.com and Demand Media articles, is that crowding out the real topic experts?

    Are these mega content sites a good or bad thing for the Web? Is quality taking too much of a back seat to quantity? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.



    Thursday, November 05, 2009

    Scott Ritter on Afghanistan: Don’t Believe the Hype

    Posted on Nov 5, 2009
    USMC / Sgt. Christopher R. Rye

    Is the war in Afghanistan worth the sacrifice of even one American life? Former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter says, “No! And to date no one has articulated anything that remotely resembles a cause worthy of the death of even one American—let alone the hundreds who have already lost their lives.”

    Our podcast conversation with Scott Ritter was alarming, because it reminded me of his warnings before the Iraq war. He told me on the phone in March 2003 that there were no weapons of mass destruction and that we were going to war without cause. It was his tone and logic that I remember most about that day on the phone. I heard that tone again as we talked about the current conflict in Afghanistan.

    “There is no sense of urgency [to go to war in Afghanistan] other than the political element,” he said to us. “Sure there’s urgency if you’re an American politician who has invested political capital into the notion of the urgency of bringing stability to Afghanistan. ... We are allowing the battle in Afghanistan to be defined by a domestic American political imperative. There is no urgency in Afghanistan, there is urgency in Washington, D.C.” Ritter said.

    “It’s high time we stopped talking about defeating the Taliban and started talking about working with the Taliban.” —James Harris

    Killing and Empire, by William Blum

    by William Blum / November 5th, 2009

    Question: How many countries do you have to be at war with to be disqualified from receiving the Nobel Peace Prize?

    Answer: Five. Barack Obama has waged war against only Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia. He’s holding off on Iran until he actually gets the prize.

    Somalian civil society and court system are so devastated from decades of war that one wouldn’t expect its citizens to have the means to raise serious legal challenges to Washington’s apparent belief that it can drop bombs on that sad land whenever it appears to serve the empire’s needs. But a group of Pakistanis, calling themselves “Lawyers Front for Defense of the Constitution,” and remembering just enough of their country’s more civilized past, has filed suit before the nation’s High Court to make the federal government stop American drone attacks on countless innocent civilians. The group declared that a Pakistan Army spokesman claimed to have the capability to shoot down the drones, but the government had made a policy decision not to.1

    The Obama administration, like the Bush administration, behaves like the world is one big lawless Somalia and the United States is the chief warlord. On October 20 the president again displayed his deep love of peace by honoring some 80 veterans of Vietnam at the White House, after earlier awarding their regiment a Presidential Unit Citation for its “extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry.”2 War correspondent Michael Herr has honored Vietnam soldiers in his own way: “We took space back quickly, expensively, with total panic and close to maximum brutality. Our machine was devastating. And versatile. It could do everything but stop.”3

    What would it take for the Obamaniacs to lose any of the stars in their eyes for their dear Nobel Laureate? Perhaps if the president announced that he was donating his prize money to build a monument to the First — “Oh What a Lovely” — World War? The memorial could bear the inscription: “Let us remember that Rudyard Kipling coaxed his young son John into enlisting in this war. John died his first day in combat. Kipling later penned these words:

    “If any question why we died,
    Tell them, because our fathers lied.”

    “The Constitution supposes what the history of all governments demonstrates, that the executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it. It has accordingly with studied care vested the question of war in the legislature.” — James Madison, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, April 2, 1798.

    A wise measure, indeed, but one American president after another has dragged the nation into bloody war without the approval of Congress, the American people, international law, or world opinion. Millions marched against the war in Iraq before it began. Millions more voted for Barack Obama in the belief that he shared their repugnance for America’s Wars Without End. They had no good reason to believe this — Obama’s campaign was filled with repeated warlike threats against Iran and Afghanistan — but they wanted to believe it.

    If machismo explains war, if men love war and fighting so much, why do we have to compel them with conscription on pain of imprisonment? Why do the powers-that-be have to wage advertising campaigns to seduce young people to enlist in the military? Why do young men go to extreme lengths to be declared exempt for physical or medical reasons? Why do they flee into exile to avoid the draft? Why do they desert the military in large numbers in the midst of war? Why don’t Sweden or Switzerland or Costa Rica have wars? Surely there are many macho men in those countries.

    “Join the Army, visit far away places, meet interesting people, and kill them.”

    War licenses men to take part in what would otherwise be described as psychopathic behavior.

    “Sometimes I think it should be a rule of war that you have to see somebody up close and get to know him before you can shoot him.” — Colonel Potter, M*A*S*H

    “In the struggle of Good against Evil, it’s always the people who get killed.” — Eduardo Galeano

    After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, a Taliban leader declared that “God is on our side, and if the world’s people try to set fire to Afghanistan, God will protect us and help us.”4

    “I trust God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn’t do my job.” — George W. Bush, 2004, during the war in Iraq.5

    “I believe that Christ died for my sins and I am redeemed through him. That is a source of strength and sustenance on a daily basis.” — Barack Obama.6

    Why don’t church leaders forbid Catholics from joining the military with the same fervor they tell Catholics to stay away from abortion clinics?

    God, war, the World Bank, the IMF, free trade agreements, NATO, the war on terrorism, the war on drugs, “anti-war” candidates, and Nobel Peace Prizes can be seen as simply different instruments for the advancement of US imperialism.

    Tom Lehrer, the marvelous political songwriter of the 1950s and 60s, once observed: “Political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.” Perhaps each generation has to learn anew what a farce that prize has become, or always was. Its recipients include quite a few individuals who had as much commitment to a peaceful world as the Bush administration had to truth. One example currently in the news: Bernard Kouchner, co-founder of Medecins Sans Frontieres which won the prize in 1998. Kouchner, now France’s foreign secretary, has long been urging military action against Iran. Last week he called upon Iran to make a nuclear deal acceptable to the Western powers or else there’s no telling what horror Israel might inflict upon the Iranians. Israel “will not tolerate an Iranian bomb,” he said. “We know that, all of us.”7 There is a word for such a veiled threat — “extortion”, something normally associated with the likes of a Chicago mobster of the 1930s … “Do like I say and no one gets hurt.” Or as Al Capone once said: “Kind words and a machine gun will get you more than kind words alone.”

    The continuing desperate quest to find something good to say about US foreign policy

    Not the crazy, hateful right wing, not racist or disrupting public meetings, not demanding birth certificates … but the respectable right, holding high positions in academia and in every administration, Republican or Democrat, members of the highly esteemed Council on Foreign Relations. Here’s Joshua Kurlantzick, a “Fellow for Southeast Asia” at CFR, writing in the equally esteemed and respectable Washington Post about how — despite all the scare talk — it wouldn’t be so bad if Afghanistan actually turned into another Vietnam because “Vietnam and the United States have become close partners in Southeast Asia, exchanging official visits, building an important trading and strategic relationship and fostering goodwill between governments, businesses and people on both sides. … America did not win the war there, but over time it has won the peace. … American war veterans publicly made peace with their old adversaries … A program [to exchange graduate students and professors] could ensure that the next generation of Afghan leaders sees an image of the United States beyond that of the war.”8 And so on.

    On second thought, this is not so much right-wing jingoism as it is … uh … y’know … What’s the word? … Ah yes, “pointless.” Just what is the point? Germany and Israel are on excellent terms … therefore, what point can we make about the Holocaust?

    As to America not winning the war in Vietnam, that’s worse than pointless. It’s wrong. Most people believe that the United States lost the war. But by destroying Vietnam to its core, by poisoning the earth, the water, the air, and the gene pool for generations, the US in fact achieved its primary purpose: it left Vietnam a basket case, preventing the rise of what might have been a good development option for Asia, an alternative to the capitalist model; for the same reason the United States has been at war with Cuba for 50 years, making sure that the Cuban alternative model doesn’t look as good as it would if left in peace.

    And in all the years since the Vietnam War ended, the millions of Vietnamese suffering from diseases and deformities caused by US sprayings of the deadly chemical “Agent Orange” have received from the United States no medical care, no environmental remediation, no compensation, and no official apology. That’s exactly what the Afghans — their land and/or their bodies permeated with depleted uranium, unexploded cluster bombs, and a witch’s brew of other charming chemicals — have to look forward to in Kurlantzick’s Brave New World. “If the U.S. relationship with Afghanistan eventually resembles the one we now have with Vietnam, we should be overjoyed,” he writes. God Bless America.

    One further thought about Afghanistan: The suggestion that the United States could, and should, solve its (self-created) dilemma by simply getting out of that god-forsaken place is dismissed out of hand by the American government and media; even some leftist critics of US policy are reluctant to embrace so bold a step — Who knows what horror may result? But when the Soviet Union was in the process of quitting Afghanistan (during the period of May 1988-February 1989) who in the West insisted that they remain? For any reason. No matter what the consequences of their withdrawal. The reason the Russians could easier leave than the Americans can now is that the Russians were not there for imperialist reasons, such as oil and gas pipelines. Similar to why the US can’t leave Iraq.

    Washington’s eternal “Cuba problem” — the one they can’t admit to

    “Here we go again. I suppose old habits die hard,” said US Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, on October 28 before the General Assembly voted on the annual resolution to end the US embargo against Cuba. “The hostile language we have just heard from the Foreign Minister of Cuba,” she continued, “seems straight out of the Cold War era and is not conducive to constructive progress.” Her 949-word statement contained not a word about the embargo; not very conducive to a constructive solution to the unstated “Cuba problem,” the one about Cuba inspiring the Third World, the fear that the socialist virus would spread.

    Since the early days of the Cuban Revolution assorted anti-communists and capitalist true-believers around the world have been relentless in publicizing the failures, real and alleged, of life in Cuba; each perceived shortcoming is attributed to the perceived shortcomings of socialism — It’s simply a system that can’t work, we are told, given the nature of human beings, particularly in this modern, competitive, globalized, consumer-oriented world.

    In response to such criticisms, defenders of Cuban society have regularly pointed out how the numerous draconian sanctions imposed by the United States since 1960 have produced many and varied scarcities and sufferings and are largely responsible for most of the problems pointed out by the critics. The critics, in turn, say that this is just an excuse, one given by Cuban apologists for every failure of their socialist system. However, it would be very difficult for the critics to prove their point. The United States would have to drop all sanctions and then we’d have to wait long enough for Cuban society to make up for lost time and recover what it was deprived of, and demonstrate what its system can do when not under constant assault by the most powerful force on earth.

    In 1999, Cuba filed a suit against the United States for $181.1 billion in compensation for economic losses and loss of life during the first 39 years of this aggression. The suit held Washington responsible for the death of 3,478 Cubans and the wounding and disabling of 2,099 others. In the ten years since, these figures have of course all increased. The sanctions, in numerous ways large and small, make acquiring many kinds of products and services from around the world much more difficult and expensive, often impossible; frequently, they are things indispensable to Cuban medicine, transportation or industry; simply transferring money internationally has become a major problem for the Cubans, with banks being heavily punished by the United States for dealing with Havana; or the sanctions mean that Americans and Cubans can’t attend professional conferences in each other’s country.

    These examples are but a small sample of the excruciating pain inflicted by Washington upon the body, soul and economy of the Cuban people.

    For years American political leaders and media were fond of labeling Cuba an “international pariah.” We don’t hear much of that any more. Perhaps one reason is the annual vote in the General Assembly on the resolution, which reads: “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba”. This is how the vote has gone:
    Year Votes (Yes-No) No Votes
    1992 59-2 US, Israel
    1993 88-4 US, Israel, Albania, Paraguay
    1994 101-2 US, Israel, Uzbekistan
    1995 117-3 US, Israel, Uzbekistan
    1996 138-3 US, Israel, Uzbekistan
    1997 143-3 US, Israel
    1998 157-2 US, Israel
    1999 155-2 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
    2000 167-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
    2001 167-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
    2002 167-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
    2003 173-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
    2004 179-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
    2005 182-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
    2006 183-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
    2007 184-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
    2008 185-3 US, Israel, Palau
    2009 187-3 US, Israel, Palau

    How it began, from State Department documents: Within a few months of the Cuban revolution of January 1959, the Eisenhower administration decided “to adjust all our actions in such a way as to accelerate the development of an opposition in Cuba which would bring about a change in the Cuban Government, resulting in a new government favorable to U.S. interests.”9

    On April 6, 1960, Lester D. Mallory, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, wrote in an internal memorandum: “The majority of Cubans support Castro … The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship. … every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba.” Mallory proposed “a line of action which … makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government.”10 Later that year, the Eisenhower administration instituted the suffocating embargo.

    1. The Nation (Pakistan English-language daily newspaper), October 10, 2009. [↩]
    2. Washington Post, October 20, 2009. [↩]
    3. Michael Herr, Dispatches (1991), p.71. [↩]
    4. New York Daily News, September 19, 2001. [↩]
    5. Washington Post, July 20, 2004, p.15, citing the New Era (Lancaster, PA), from a private meeting of Bush with Amish families on July 9. The White House denied that Bush had said it. (Those Amish folks do lie a lot you know.) [↩]
    6. Washington Post, August 17, 2008. [↩]
    7. Daily Telegraph (UK), October 26, 2009. [↩]
    8. Washington Post, October 25, 2009. [↩]
    9. Department of State, “Foreign Relations of the United States, 1958-1960, Volume VI, Cuba” (1991), p.742. [↩]
    10. Ibid., p.885 [↩]

    William Blum is the author of: Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2, Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower, West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir, Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire. He can be reached at: bblum6@aol.com

    Wednesday, November 04, 2009

    Carl Dix - Russia Today - No good for people until revolution overthrows capitalism


    RussiaToday Via Dandelion Salad



    November 02, 2009
    Communist America is an oxymoron – or is it? Carl Dix a representative of America’s Revolutionary Communist Party thinks that political change IS possible in the US. He spoke to RT’s Anastasia Churkina.

    more about “Carl Dix: No good for people until re…“, posted with vodpod

    Hoh's Afghanistan Warning, by Ralph Nader

    Matthew P. Hoh, a former U.S. combat marine captain and Department of Defense civilian in Iraq starting in 2004 and until September a political officer in the Foreign Service stationed in Afghanistan is giving some consternation to President Obama’s advisors as the Commander in Chief considers sending more soldiers to that war-torn country next to Pakistan.

    Mr. Hoh wrote a letter of resignation to the State Department in September. His four page letter frames his doubts about what he said is the “why and to what end” behind “the strategic purposes of the United States’ presence in Afghanistan. He notes that like the Soviets’ nine year occupation, “we continue to secure and bolster a failing state, while encouraging an ideology and system of government unknown and unwanted by its people.”

    Mr. Hoh focuses on the giant Pashtun society composed of 42 million people and moves to his conclusions. Read his words:

    “The Pashtun insurgency, which is composed of multiple, seemingly infinite, local groups, is fed by what is perceived by the Pashtun people as a continued and sustained assault, going back centuries, on Pashtun land, culture, traditions and religion by internal and external enemies. The U.S. and NATO presence and operations in Pashtun valleys and villages, as well as Afghan army and police units that are led and composed of non-Pashtun soldiers and police, provide an occupation force against which the insurgency is justified. In both RC East and South, I have observed that the bulk of the insurgency fights not for the white banner of the Taliban, but rather against the presence of foreign soldiers and taxes imposed by an unrepresentative government in Kabul.

    “The United States military presence in Afghanistan greatly contributes to the legitimacy and strategic message of the Pashtun insurgency. In a like manner our backing of the Afghan government in its current form continues to distance the government from the people. The Afghan government’s failings, particularly when weighed against the sacrifice of American lives and dollars, appear legion and metastatic:

    • Glaring corruption and unabashed graft; • A President whose confidants and chief advisers comprise drug lords and war crimes villains, who mock our own rule of law and counternarcotics efforts; • A system of provincial and district leaders constituted of local power brokers, opportunists and strongmen allied to the United States solely for, and limited by, the value of our USAID and CERP contracts and whose own political and economic interests stand nothing to gain from any positive or genuine attempts at reconciliation; and • The recent election process dominated by fraud and discredited by low voter turnout, which has created an enormous victory for our enemy who now claims a popular boycott and will call into question worldwide our government’s military, economic and diplomatic support for an invalid and illegitimate Afghan government.

    “Our support for this kind of government, coupled with a misunderstanding of the insurgency’s true nature, reminds me horribly of our involvement with South Vietnam; an unpopular and corrupt government we backed at the expense of our Nation’s own internal peace, against an insurgency whose nationalism we arrogantly and ignorantly mistook as a rival to our own Cold War ideology.

    “I find specious the reasons we ask for bloodshed and sacrifice from our young men and women in Afghanistan. If honest, our stated strategy of securing Afghanistan to prevent al-Qaeda resurgence or regrouping would require us to additionally invade and occupy western Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, etc. Our presence in Afghanistan has only increased destabilization and insurgency in Pakistan where we rightly fear a toppled or weakened Pakistani government may lose control of its nuclear weapons. However, again, to follow the logic of our stated goals we should garrison Pakistan, not Afghanistan. More so, the September 11th attacks, as well as the Madrid and London bombings, were primarily planned and organized in Western Europe; a point that highlights the threat is not one tied to traditional geographic or political boundaries. Finally, if our concern is for a failed state crippled by corruption and poverty and under assault from criminal and drug lords, then if we bear our military and financial contributions to Afghanistan, we must reevaluate and increase our commitment to and involvement in Mexico.

    “Eight years into war, no nation has ever known a more dedicated, well trained, experienced and disciplined military as the U.S. Armed Forces. I do not believe any military force has ever been tasked with such a complex, opaque and Sisyphean mission as the U.S. military has received in Afghanistan. …

    “’We are spending ourselves into oblivion’ a very talented and intelligent commander, one of America’s best, briefs every visitor, staff delegation and senior officer. We are mortgaging our Nation’s economy on a war, which, even with increased commitment, will remain a draw for years to come. Success and victory, whatever they may be, will be realized not in years, after billions more spent, but in decades and generations. The United States does not enjoy a national treasury for such success and victory. …

    “Thousands of our men and women have returned home with physical and mental wounds, some that will never heal or will only worsen with time. The dead return only in bodily form to be received by families who must be reassured their dead have sacrificed for a purpose worthy of futures lost, love vanished, and promised dreams unkept. I have lost confidence such assurances can anymore be made. As such, I submit my resignation.”

    Will Mr. Hoh’s highly regarded experience, sensitivity and judgment reach the attention of millions of Americans? That will depend on whether President Obama meets with him, whether Congressional committees will provide a hearing for him and others of similar persuasion, and whether the mass media will suspend their dittoheading and trivia long enough to report these views, so that we the people can deliberate better about avoiding a devastating, worsening quagmire replete with serial tragedies over there and boomerangs back here.

    Tuesday, November 03, 2009

    Noam Chomsky: No Change in US 'Mafia Principle'


    by Mamoon Alabbasi

    As civilised people across the world breathed a sigh of relief to see the back of former US president George W. Bush, top American intellectual Noam Chomsky warned against assuming or expecting significant changes in the basis of Washington's foreign policy under President Barack Obama.

    During two lectures organised by the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, Chomsky cited numerous examples of the driving doctrines behind US foreign policy since the end of World War II.

    "As Obama came into office, Condoleezza Rice predicted that he would follow the policies of Bush's second term, and that is pretty much what happened, apart from a different rhetorical style," said

    "But it is wise to attend to deeds, not rhetoric. Deeds commonly tell a different story," he added.

    "There is basically no significant change in the fundamental traditional conception that we if can control Middle East energy resources, then we can control the world," explained Chomsky.

    Chomsky said that a leading doctrine of US foreign policy during the period of its global dominance is what he termed as "the Mafia principle."

    "The Godfather does not tolerate 'successful defiance'. It is too dangerous. It must therefore be stamped out so that others understand that disobedience is not an option," said Chomsky.

    Because the US sees "successful defiance" of Washington as a "virus" that will "spread contagion," he explained.

    Iran

    The US had feared this "virus" of independent thought from Washington by Tehran and therefore acted to overthrow the Iranian parliamentary democracy in 1953.

    "The goal in 1953 was to retain control of Iranian resources," said Chomsky.

    However, "in 1979 the (Iranian) virus emerged again. The US at first sought to sponsor a military coup; when that failed, it turned to support Saddam Hussein's merciless invasion (of Iran)."

    "The torture of Iran continued without a break and still does, with sanctions and other means," said Chomsky.

    "The US continued, without a break, its torture of Iranians," he stressed.

    Nuclear attack

    Chomsky mocked the idea presented by mainstream media that a future-nuclear-armed Iran may attack already-nuclear-armed Israel.

    "The chance of Iran launching a missile attack, nuclear or not, is about at the level of an asteroid hitting the earth -- unless, of course, the ruling clerics have a fanatic death wish and want to see Iran instantly incinerated along with them," said Chomsky, stressing that this is not the case.

    Chomsky further explained that the presence of US anti-missile weapons in Israel are really meant for preparing a possible attack on Iran, and not for self-defence, as it is often presented.

    "The systems are advertised as defense against an Iranian attack. But ...the purpose of the US interception systems, if they ever work, is to prevent any retaliation to a US or Israeli attack on Iran -- that is, to eliminate any Iranian deterrent," said Chomsky.

    Iraq

    Chomsky reminded the audience of America's backing of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein during and even after Iraq's war with Iran.

    "The Reaganite love affair with Saddam did not end after the (Iran-Iraq) war. In 1989, Iraqi nuclear engineers were invited to the United States, then under Gorge Bush I, to receive advanced weapons' training," said Chomsky.

    This support continued while Saddam was committing atrocities against his own people, until he fell out of US favour when in 1990 he invaded Kuwait, an even closer alley of Washington.

    "In 1990, Saddam defied, or more likely misunderstood orders, and he quickly shifted from favourite friend to the reincarnation of Hitler," Chomsky added.

    Then the people of Iraq were subjected to "genocidal" US-backed sanctions.

    Chomsky explained that although the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, which was launched under many false pretexts and lies, was a " major crime", many critics of the invasion - including Obama - viewed it as merely as "a mistake" or a "strategic blunder".

    "It's probably what the German general staff was telling Hitler after Stalingrad," he said

    "There's nothing principled about it. It wasn't a strategic blunder: it was a major crime," he added.

    Chomsky credited the holding of elections in Iraq in 2005 to popular Iraqi demand, despite initial US objection.

    The US military, he argued, could kill as many Iraqi insurgents as it wished, but it was more difficult to shoot at non-violent protesters in the streets out on the open, which meant Washington at times had to give in to public Iraqi pressure.

    But despite being pressured to announce a withdrawal from Iraq, the US continues to seek a long term presence in the country.

    The US mega-embassy in Baghdad is to be expanded under Obama, noted Chomsky.

    Optimism

    Chomsky stressed that public pressure in the 'West' can make a positive difference for people suffering from the aggression of 'Western' governments.

    "There is a lot of comparison between opposition to the Iraq war with opposition to the Vietnam war, but people tend to forget that at first there was almost no opposition to the Vietnam war," said Chomsky.

    "In the Iraq war, there were massive international protests before it officially stated... and it had an effect. The United Sates could not use the tactics used in Vietnam: there was no saturation bombing by B52s, so there was no chemical warfare - (the Iraq war was) horrible enough, but it could have been a lot worse," he said.

    "And furthermore, the Bush administration had to back down on its war aims, step by step," he added.

    "It had to allow elections, which it did not want to do: mainly a victory for non-Iraqi protests. They could kill insurgents; they couldn't deal hundreds of thousands of people in the streets. Their hands were tied by the domestic constraints. They finally had to abandon - officially at least - virtually all the war aims," said Chomsky.

    "As late as November 2007, the US was still insisting that the 'Status of Forces Agreement' allow for an indefinite US military presence and privileged access to Iraq's resources by US investors - well they didn't get that on paper at least. They had to back down. OK, Iraq is a horror story but it could have been a lot worse," he said

    "So yes, protests can do something. When there is no protest and no attention, a power just goes wild, just like in Cambodia and northern Laos," he added.

    Turkey

    Chomsky said that Turkey could become a "significant independent actor" in the region, if it chooses to.

    "Turkey has to make some internal decisions: is it going to face west and try to get accepted by the European Union or is it going to face reality and recognise that Europeans are so racist that they are never going to allow it in?," said Chomsky.

    The Europeans "keep raising the barrier on Turkish entry to the EU," he explained.

    But Chomsky said Turkey did become an independent actor in March 2003 when it followed its public opinion and did not take part in the US-led invasion of Iraq.

    Turkey took notice of the wishes of the overwhelming majority of its population, which opposed the invasion.

    But 'New Europe' was led by Berlusconi of Italy and Aznar of Spain, who rejected the views of their populations - which strongly objected to the Iraq war - and preferred to follow Bush, noted Chomsky.

    So, in that sense Turkey was more democratic than states that took part in the war, which in turn infuriated the US.

    Today, Chomsky added, Turkey is also acting independently by refusing to take part in the US-Israeli military exercises.

    Fear factor

    Chomsky explained that although 'Western' government use "the maxim of Thucydides" ('the strong do as they wish, and the weak suffer as they must'), their peoples are hurled via the "fear factor".

    Via corporate media and complicit intellectuals, the public is led to believe that all the crimes and atrocities committed by their governments is either "self defence" or "humanitarian intervention".

    NATO

    Chomsky noted that Obama has escalated Bush's war in Afghanistan, using NATO.

    NATO is also seen as reinforcing US control over energy supplies.

    But the US also used NATO to keep Europe under control.

    "From the earliest post-World War days, it was understood that Western Europe might choose to follow an independent course," said Chomsky."NATO was partially intended to counter this serious threat," he added.

    Middle East oil

    Chomsky explained that Middle East oil reserves were understood to be "a stupendous source of strategic power" and "one of the greatest material prizes in world history," the most "strategically important area in the world," in Eisenhower's words.

    Control of Middle East oil would provide the United States with "substantial control of the world."

    This meant that the US "must support harsh and brutal regimes and block democracy and development" in the Middle East.

    Somalia

    Chomsky tackled the origins of the Somali piracy issue.

    "Piracy is not nice, but where did it come from?"

    Chomsky explained that one of the immediate reasons for piracy is European counties and others are simply "destroying Somalia's territorial waters by dumping toxic waste - probably nuclear waste - and also by overfishing."

    "What happens to the fishermen in Somalia? They become pirates. And then we're all upset about the piracy, not about having created the situation," said Chomsky.

    Chomsky went on to cite another example of harming Somalia.

    "One of the great achievements of the war on terror, which was greatly hailed in the press when it was announced, was closing down an Islamic charity - Barakat - which was identified as supporting terrorists.

    "A couple of months later... the (US) government quietly recognised that they were wrong, and the press may have had a couple of lines about it - but meanwhile, it was a major blow against Somalia. Somalia doesn't have much of an economy but a lot of it was supported by this charity: not just giving money but running banks and businesses, and so on.

    "It was a significant part of the economy of Somalia...closing it down... was another contributing factor to the breaking down of a very weak society...and there are other examples."

    Darfur

    Chomsky also touched on Sudan's Darfur region.

    "There are terrible things going on in Darfur, but in comparison with the region they don't amount to a lot unfortunately - like what's going on in eastern Congo is incomparably worse than in Darfur.

    "But Darfur is a very popular topic for Western humanists because you can blame it on an enemy - you have to distort a lot but you can blame it on 'Arabs', 'bad guys'," he explained.

    "What about saving eastern Cong where maybe 20 times as many people have been killed? Well, that gets kind of tricky ... for people who... are using minerals from eastern Congo that obtained by multinationals sponsoring militias which slaughter and kill and get the minerals," he said.

    Or the fact that Rwanda is simply the worst of the many agents and it is a US alley, he added.

    Goldstone's Gaza report

    Chomsky appeared to have agreed with Israel that the Goldstone report on the Gaza war was bias, only he saw it as biased in favour of Israel.

    The Goldstone report had acknowledged Israel's right to self-defence, although it denounced the method this was conducted.

    Chomsky stressed that the right to self-defence does not mean resorting to military force before "exhausting peaceful means", something Israel did not even contemplate doing.

    In fact, Chomsky points out, it was Israel who broke the ceasefire with Hamas and refused to extend it, as continuing the siege of Gaza itself is an act of war.

    As for the current stalled Mideast peace process, Chomsky said that despite adopting a tougher tone towards Israel than that of Bush, Obama made no real effort to pressure Israel to live up to its obligations.

    In the absence of the threat of cutting US aid for Israel, there is no compelling reason why Tel Aviv should listen to Washington.

    What can be done?

    Chomsky stressed that despite all the obstacles, public pressure can and does make a difference for the better, urging people to continue activism and spreading knowledge.

    "There is no reason to be pessimistic, just realistic."

    Chomsky noted that public opinion in the US and Britain is increasingly becoming more aware of the crimes committed by Israel.

    "Public opinion is shifting substantially."

    And this is where a difference can be made, because Israel will not change its policies without pressure from the 'West'.

    "There is a lot to do in Western countries...primarily in the US."

    Chomsky also stressed the importance of taking legal action in 'Western' countries against companies breaking international law via illegitimate dealings with Israel, citing the possible involvement of British Gas in Israeli theft of natural gas off the coast of Gaza, as one example that should be investigated.

    In conclusion of one of the lectures, Chomsky quoted Antonio Gramsci who famously called for "pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will."
    © 2009 Middle East Online

    Random Seth Quotes


    “...But when all the young men refuse to kill for the sake of peace, and when all the women forbid their men to kill for the sake of peace, and when you realize that no peace will come through killing, and that the end does not justify the means, and when you grow full and light with thoughts of peace, there will be an end to war. But as long as any men go to war for the sake of peace, there will be war. And, as long as any woman teaches her sons to go to war because of love of the peace, there will be war.

    You make your world. When you populate your world with ideas of peace, then peace will grow. When you think thoughts of aggression, you attract aggression and you draw it out from others in daily contact, and on the part of nations .

    I tell you that your own preoccupation with arms, is received by others, and your own thoughts are materialized and you create wars in your minds that then must be faced with your flesh and your blood.

    The reality that you have is a replica of your thoughts. If you do not like the world, you must change your thoughts and no exterior manipulation will change the face of your experience , if you do not change your dreams and your thoughts."

    /Seth

    All Active House Ethics Probes Focus on Black Lawmakers

    From: http://www.democracynow.org


    The website Politico is reporting the House Ethics Committee is refusing to comment about why the committee is only investigating African American lawmakers for possible ethics violations. The committee is currently investigating seven African American lawmakers—more than 15 percent of the total in the House. Not a single white lawmaker is currently the subject of a full-scale Ethics Committee probe. Last week the committee considered three referrals from the recently formed Office of Congressional Ethics. The committee dismissed a case against Missouri Republican Sam Graves, who is white, but agreed to open full-blown investigations of California Democratic Reps. Maxine Waters and Laura Richardson, both of whom are black. A document leaked to the Washington Post last week showed that nearly three dozen lawmakers have come under scrutiny this year by either the House Ethics Committee or the Office of Congressional Ethics. While the list contained a substantial number of white lawmakers, the Ethics Committee has not yet launched formal investigative subcommittees with respect to any of them.

    Report: Goldman Sachs Secretly Bet on the US Housing Crash

    An investigation by the McClatchy Newspapers has found that banking giant Goldman Sachs made secret bets on an imminent housing crash while selling off billions in soon-to-be worthless securities. In 2006 and 2007, the bank reportedly peddled more than $40 billion in securities backed by at least 200,000 risky home mortgages, but never told the buyers it was secretly betting that a sharp drop in US housing prices would send the value of those securities plummeting. Goldman’s sales and its clandestine wagers enabled the nation’s premier investment bank to pass most of its potential losses to others before a flood of mortgage defaults staggered the US and global economies. Only later did investors discover that what Goldman had promoted as triple-A rated investments were closer to junk. By doing so, Goldman Sachs may have violated securities laws. Several pension funds, including Mississippi’s Public Employees’ Retirement System, have filed suits alleging that Goldman and other Wall Street firms negligently made "false and misleading’’ representations of the bonds’ true risks.

    U.S. court denies Maher Arar's appeal



    Syrian-born Canadian Maher Arar has again been denied the right to sue the United States over his deportation to Syria, where he was tortured.

    During a September 2002 stopover in New York, while returning to Canada from a vacation in Tunisia, Arar was detained by U.S authorities, who were acting on information from Canadian security officials. Based on the erroneous Canadian information that Arar had links to al-Qaeda, the U.S. deported him to Syria, even though he was carrying a Canadian passport.

    When Arar returned to Canada more than a year later, he said he had been tortured during his incarceration and accused American officials of sending him to Syria knowing that authorities there use torture.

    In New York on Monday, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 7-4 against Arar. He had asked the court to overturn a decision of the U.S. District Court — Eastern District of New York, which had dismissed his suit against dozens of U.S. government officials, including former attorney-general John Ashcroft and former homeland security secretary Tom Ridge.

    In the majority opinion, the court said it denied Arar's appeal because the U.S. Congress has not laid out legislation that specifies how unusual claims such as his can proceed and what remedies exist.

    The court ruled that allowing the claim to proceed would "offend the separation of powers and inhibit this country's foreign policy."
    Court a 'tool' of executive branch, Arar says

    A key to the case was the practice of "extraordinary rendition" —when someone with suspected links to terrorism is sent to another country for detention and interrogation, without charges, trial or court approval.

    The court said it was hesitant to "create to a new damages remedy that Congress has not seen fit to authorize."

    "Even the probing of these matters entails the risk that other countries will become less willing to co-operate with the United States in sharing intelligence resources to counter terrorism," the appeal court said.

    In a statement issued through the New York City-based Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents him, Arar said:

    "Unfortunately, this recent decision and decisions taken on other similar cases, prove that the court system in the United States has become more or less a tool that the executive branch can easily manipulate through unfounded allegations and fear mongering."

    "If anything, this decision is a loss to all Americans and to the rule of law," Arar said.

    Maria LaHood, a senior staff attorney at the centre, said an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was likely.

    "I can't see letting this decision stand without a fight. It's an outrage," she said.

    Western forces in Afghanistan using their helicopters to ferry Taleban fighters

    Helicopter Rumour Refuses to Die

    Many Afghans believe foreign forces providing support for insurgents in the north.
    By Ahmad Kawoosh in Mazar-e-Sharif (ARR No. 343, 26-Oct-09)

    Persistent accounts of western forces in Afghanistan using their helicopters to ferry Taleban fighters, strongly denied by the military, is feeding mistrust of the forces that are supposed to be bringing order to the country.

    One such tale came from a soldier from the 209th Shahin Corps of the Afghan National Army, fighting against the growing insurgency in Kunduz province in northern Afghanistan. Over several months, he had taken part in several pitched battles against the armed opposition.

    “Just when the police and army managed to surround the Taleban in a village of Qala-e-Zaal district, we saw helicopters land with support teams,” he said. “They managed to rescue their friends from our encirclement, and even to inflict defeat on the Afghan National Army.”

    This story, in one form or another, is being repeated throughout northern Afghanistan. Dozens of people claim to have seen Taleban fighters disembark from foreign helicopters in several provinces. The local talk is of the insurgency being consciously moved north, with international troops ferrying fighters in from the volatile south, to create mayhem in a new location.

    Helicopters are almost exclusively the domain of foreign forces in Afghanistan – the international military controls the air space, and has a virtual monopoly on aircraft. So when Afghans see choppers, they think foreign military.

    “Our fight against the Taleban is nonsense,” said the soldier from Shahin Corps. “Our foreigner ‘friends’ are friendlier to the opposition.”

    For months or even years, rumours have been circulating in Afghanistan that the Taleban are being financed or even directly supported militarily by the foreign forces.

    In part it stems from an inability to believe that major foreign armies cannot defeat a ragtag bunch of insurgents; in addition, Afghanistan has been a centre of foreign intrigue for so long that belief in plots comes naturally to many war-weary Afghans.

    The international troops hotly deny that they are supporting the insurgents.

    “This entire business with the helicopters is just a rumour,” said Brigadier General Juergen Setzer, recently appointed commander for the International Security Assistance Force, ISAF, in the north. “It has no basis in reality, according to our investigations.”

    The general added that ISAF-North had overall control of the air space in the northern region.

    But the persistent rumours that foreign helicopters have been sighted assisting the Taleban in northern Afghanistan were given an unexpected boost in mid-October by Afghan president Hamed Karzai, who told the media that his administration was investigating similar reports that “unknown” helicopters were ferrying the insurgents from Helmand province in the south to Baghlan, Kunduz, and Samangan provinces in the north.

    Captain Tim Dark, of Britain’s Task Force Helmand, was vehement in his reaction.

    “The thought that British soldiers could be aiding and abetting the enemy is just rubbish,” he said. “We have had 85 casualties so far this year.”

    Engineer Mohammad Omar, governor of Kunduz, refused to comment on the issue, but Enayatullah Enayat, governor of Samangan, also denied that the helicopters were moving the opposition around in Samangan.

    “I am in contact with both national and foreign forces in Samangan,” he said. “I have not seen any suspicious helicopters bringing in the Taleban.”

    The north has recently witnessed a spike in insurgent activity, particularly in Kunduz and Baghlan. Provinces that were relatively calm even six months ago are experiencing armed attacks, suicide bombings, even outright Taleban control over several districts.

    In a district of Baghlan province, Baghlan-e-Markazi, residents witnessed a battle last month in which they insisted that two foreign helicopters had delivered the Taleban fighters who then attacked their district centre.

    “I saw the helicopters with my own eyes,” said Sayed Rafiq from Baghlan-e-Markazi.
    “They landed near the foothills and offloaded dozens of Taleban with turbans, and wrapped in patus (a blanket-type shawl).”

    According to numerous media reports, the Taleban attacked the district centre, and the district police chief along with the head of counter-narcotics and a number of soldiers were killed.

    Commander Amir Gul district governor of Baghlan-e-Markazi insisted that the Taleban fighters had been delivered by helicopter.

    “I do not know to which country the helicopters belonged,” he told IWPR. “But these are the same helicopters that are taking the Taleban from Helmand to Kandahar and from there to the north, especially to Baghlan.”

    According to Amir Gul, the district department of the National Security Directorate had identified the choppers, but it refused to comment.

    Baghlan police chief Mohammad Kabir Andarabi said that his department had reported to the central government that foreign helicopters were transporting the Taleban into Baghlan.

    The Baghlan provincial governor, Mohammad Akbar Barikzai, told a news conference on October 21 that his intelligence and security services had discovered that unidentified helicopters were landing at night in some parts of the province.

    “We are investigating,” he said.

    Rumours have reached the point where US ambassador Karl Eikenberry felt compelled to address them last week at a ceremony honouring the more than 5,500 Afghan police and soldiers who have died during the present war.

    The reports were “outrageous and baseless”, said Eikenberry, as reported by McClatchy newspapers. “We would never aid the terrorists that attacked us on September 11, that are killing our soldiers, your soldiers, and innocent Afghan civilians every day.”

    Afghan political analysts have woven elaborate theories as to why the foreign forces would be helping the Taleban.

    According to Rahim Rahimi, a professor at Balkh University, America and the United Kingdom are trying to keep all of Afghanistan insecure, so that people feel the need for the foreign forces.

    “They will try and destabilise the north any way they can,” Rahimi said. “It is a good excuse to expand their presence in the area, to get a grip on the gas and oil in central Asia.”

    Fighting Islamic extremists was one way to insert themselves into the area without provoking a fierce reaction from Russia and the Central Asian governments, he added.

    Numerous websites have devoted blogs, columns and “investigative reports” to the helicopter rumours; literally everyone has heard the whispers, and many, if not most, believe them. It provides an added reason to suspect and fear the foreign forces, as well as an explanation for the rapid spread of the insurgency throughout the country.

    In the end, it may not really matter whether the rumours are ever substantiated. The firm belief that Afghans have in them can determine attitudes and behaviour, further fueling mistrust of the westerners in their midst.

    Ahmad Kawoosh is an IWPR journalist based in Mazar-e-Sharif.

    Roll Bounce Rock Skate...AND something.




    'ABSALOM and ACHITOPHEL'

    Againft your will; Thine Arguments hath fhown,
    Such VIRTUE'S only given to guide a Throne.
    Not that Your Father's Mildnefs I contemn;
    But the Manliest Manly Force becomes the Diadem.

    'Tis True he grants the People all they crave;
    And mayhaps more than subjects 'ought have:
    For lavith Grants fuppofe a Monarch tame,
    And more his Goodnefs than his Wit proclaim.
    Dan™: But when should People ftrive their bonds to break,
    If not when Kings are negligent or weak?

    "MISCELLANY POEMS: The Firft Part. NEW TRANSLATIONS OF THE Ancient Poets.
    Amazingly detailed hardcover. 1702.

    Sunday, November 01, 2009

    Prudence and Patience...what they might mean and why they may or may not suck.

    PRUDENCE:
    google.com - define: prudence
    discretion in practical affairs
    - discretion: knowing how to avoid embarrassment or distress; "the servants showed great tact and discretion" - wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn


    dictionary.com - prudence
    1. the quality or fact of being prudent. - 2. caution with regard to practical matters; discretion. - 3. regard for one's own interests. - 4. provident care in the management of resources; economy; frugality.


    PATIENCE:
    google.com - define:patience
    good-natured tolerance of delay or incompetence - solitaire: a card game played by one person - wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webw


    dictionary.com - patience
    1. the quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like. - 2. an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay: to have patience with a slow learner. - 3. quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence: to work with patience. - 4. Cards (chiefly British). solitaire (def. 1). - 5. Also called patience dock. a European dock, Rumex patientia, of the buckwheat family, whose leaves are often used as a vegetable. - 6. Obsolete. leave; permission; sufference.

    Are we any clearer on this issue now?

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