Sunday, January 31, 2010

Get Drunk, by Charles Baudelaire

Always be drunk.
That's it!
The great imperative!
In order not to feel
Time's horrid fardel
bruise your shoulders,
grinding you into the earth,
Get drunk and stay that way.
On what?
On wine, poetry, virtue, whatever.
But get drunk.
And if you sometimes happen to wake up
on the porches of a palace,
in the green grass of a ditch,
in the dismal loneliness of your own room,
your drunkenness gone or disappearing,
ask the wind,
the wave,
the star,
the bird,
the clock,
ask everything that flees,
everything that groans
or rolls
or sings,
everything that speaks,
ask what time it is;
and the wind,
the wave,
the star,
the bird,
the clock
will answer you:
"Time to get drunk!
Don't be martyred slaves of Time,
Get drunk!
Stay drunk!
On wine, virtue, poetry, whatever!"
*


Saturday, January 30, 2010

RAW From Beyond, by Kyle Davis

cd-wilson_lost_studio-l.jpg
[Reality Booty] •The legendary American novelist, philosopher, essayist, editor, playwright, futurist, libertarian, and self-described agnostic mystic Robert Anton Wilson’s once lost studio sessions are now a postmortem release from The Original Falcon Press. The first of which is an audio CD titled "The Lost Studio Session"—recorded in Chicago (1994) and nearly forgotten about after it was stored away. New material from RAW also surfaces in the 2 disc CD set "TAZ: Temporary Autonomous Zone"; also featuring Hakim Bey reading from his unpublished manuscripts, Nick Herbert performing his Quantum Tantric poetry, and Rob Breszny. Finally, Robert Anton Wilson introduces his lecture as a discussion of "The Western Hermetic Tradition" in the DVD The "I" in the Triangle. The lecture covers centuries of individuals and groups from the Illuminati of Bavaria and the Freemasons to the Priory of Scion and the Bilderbergers.

You can win one of three copies of "The Lost Studio Session" by writing your most inspired homage to R.A.W. in the comments section below. (Contest ends February 8th.)
 
A free sample track has been posted on Creative Commons of this newly released material form the man whose goal was to “get people into a state of generalized agnosticism, not agnosticism about God alone but agnosticism about everything.”

http://www.alterati.com/gspot/Namu_Amida_Buddha.mp3
 
Story suggested by Palerider

From: www.realitysandwich.com 

Friday, January 29, 2010

5 Lessons From the Late Great Howard Zinn, by Mickey Z

...
1. "Protest beyond the law is not a departure from democracy; it is absolutely essential to it."

2.
"To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction."

3.
"The challenge remains. On the other side are formidable forces: money, political power, the major media. On our side are the people of the world and a power greater than money or weapons: the truth. Truth has a power of its own. Art has a power of its own. That age-old lesson—that everything we do matters—is the meaning of the people's struggle here in the United States and everywhere. A poem can inspire a movement. A pamphlet can spark a revolution. Civil disobedience can arouse people and provoke us to think, when we organize with one another, when we get involved, when we stand up and speak out together, we can create a power no government can suppress. We live in a beautiful country. But people who have no respect for human life, freedom, or justice have taken it over. It is now up to all of us to take it back."

4. "As dogma disintegrates, hope appears. Because it seems that human beings, whatever their backgrounds, are more open than we think, that their behavior cannot be confidently predicted from their past, that we are all creatures vulnerable to new thoughts, new attitudes. And while such vulnerability creates all sorts of possibilities, both good and bad, its very existence is exciting. It means that no human being should be written off, no change in thinking deemed impossible."

5.
"The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory."
Here's to the marvelous victories that arise from dedicated commitment and action...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Amy Goodman: Democracy Now Tribute to Howard Zinn

AMY GOODMAN: We’re broadcasting from Park City, Utah, from the Sundance Film Festival, the home of the largest independent film festival in the country.

We spend the rest of the hour paying tribute to Howard Zinn, the late historian, writer and activist. He died suddenly Wednesday of a heart attack at the age of eighty-seven.

After serving as a bombardier in World War II, Howard Zinn went on to become a lifelong dissident and peace activist. He was active in the civil rights movement and many of the struggles for social justice over the past fifty years.

He taught at Spelman College, the historically black college for women. He was fired for insubordination for standing up for the students. While at Spelman, he served on the executive committee of SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. After being forced out of Spelman, Zinn became a professor at Boston University.

In 1967 he published Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal. It was the first book on the war to call for immediate withdrawal, no conditions. A year later, he and Father Daniel Berrigan traveled to North Vietnam to receive the first three American prisoners of wars released by the North Vietnamese.
When Daniel Ellsberg needed a place to hide the Pentagon Papers before they were leaked to the press, he went to Howard and his late wife Roz.
In 1980, Howard Zinn published his classic work, A People’s History of the United States. The book would go on to sell over a million copies and change the way we look at history in America. The book was recently made into a television special called The People Speak.

Well, in a moment, we’ll be joined by Noam Chomsky, Alice Walker, Naomi Klein, Anthony Arnove. But first, I want to turn to a 2005 interview I did with Howard Zinn, in which he talked about his time as an Air Force bombardier in World War II.


AMY GOODMAN: After returning from the war, Howard Zinn attended New York University on the GI Bill. He then received his master’s and doctoral degrees in history from Columbia University.

In the late ’50s, Howard Zinn moved to Atlanta to teach at all-black women’s school Spelman, where he became deeply involved in the civil rights movement. We’re joined now by one of his former students, the author and poet Alice Walker. She’s joining us now from her home in Mexico.

Alice, welcome to Democracy Now! So sad to talk to you on this day after we learned of the death of Howard Zinn.

ALICE WALKER: Thank you very much for inviting me to talk.

AMY GOODMAN: But talk about your former teacher.

ALICE WALKER: Well, my former teacher was one of the funniest people I have ever known, and he was likelier to say the most extraordinary things at the most amazing moments.

For instance, in Atlanta once, we get to this very staid, at that time, white college, all these very staid, upper-class white girls there and their teachers, and Howie got up—I don’t know how they managed to invite him, but anyway, there we were. And this was even before any of the changes in Atlanta. We were still battling to get into restaurants. So Howie gets up, and he goes up to the front of the room, and this large room is full of people, and he starts his talk by saying, “Well, I stand to the left of Mao Zedong.” And it was just—it was such a moment, because the people couldn’t imagine anyone in Atlanta saying something like that, when at that time the Chinese and the Chinese Revolution just meant that, you know, people were on the planet who were just going straight ahead, a folk revolution. So he was saying he was to the left of that. So, it’s just an amazing thing.

I think I felt he would live forever. And I feel such joy that I was lucky enough to know him. And he had such a wonderful impact on my life and on the lives of the students of Spelman and of millions of people. We’ve just been incredibly lucky to have him for all these years, eighty-seven. That’s such a long time. Not long enough. And I’m just so grateful.

AMY GOODMAN: Alice, Howard Zinn was thrown out of Spelman College—right?—as a professor, for insubordination, although recently they gave him an honorary degree, and he addressed the graduating class. Why was he thrown out?

ALICE WALKER: Well, he was thrown out because he loved us, and he showed that love by just being with us. He loved his students. He didn’t see why we should be second-class citizens. He didn’t see why we shouldn’t be able to eat where we wanted to and sleep where we wanted to and be with the people we wanted to be with. And so, he was with us. He didn’t stay back, you know, in his tower there at the school. And so, he was a subversive in that situation.

And, of course, the administration could expel the students for activism. And I left Spelman because I sort of lost my scholarship, but I had stayed. That was one of the ways they controlled us. And they tried to control him, but of course you couldn’t control Howie. And so, they even waited until he had left for the summer vacation to fire him, to fire him. They didn’t fire him face to face. But, yeah, he was, you know, a radical and a subversive on the campus, as far as they were concerned. And our freedom was just not that important to the administration. What they needed was for us not to rock the boat.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to turn to Noam Chomsky, who’s still with us on the phone from Boston. Noam, I wanted to ask you about Howard Zinn’s role in the antiwar movement in the ’60s. In 1968, Howard Zinn traveled to North Vietnam with Father Daniel Berrigan to bring home three US prisoners of war. They became two of the first Americans to visit North Vietnam during the war. This is Howard Zinn speaking in 1968 after he returned to the United States.


AMY GOODMAN: That was Howard Zinn. Noam Chomsky, talk about this period. Talk about the time Howard Zinn went with Father Dan Berrigan to North Vietnam and what it meant.

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, that was a breakthrough at recognizing the humanity of the official enemy. Of course, the main enemy were the people of South Vietnam, who were practically destroyed. South Vietnam had been devastated by then. And that was important.

But, at least in my view, the most—the more important was his—the book you mentioned before, The Logic of Withdrawal. And there was, by then—so I think this must have been 1967—you know, a substantial antiwar movement, but it was keeping to palliatives, you know, stop doing these terrible things, do less, and so on. Howard really broke through. He was the first person to say—loudly, publicly, very persuasively—that this simply has to stop; we should get out, period, no conditions; we have no right to be there; it’s an act of aggression; pull out.

Actually, he—that was so surprising at the time—it became more commonplace later—that he couldn’t even—there wasn’t even a review of the book. In fact, he asked me if I would review it in Ramparts just so that—which, you know, left-wing journal I was running then—just so somebody—people would see it. So I did that.

But it sank in pretty quickly, and it just changed the way people looked at the war. And in fact, that was one of his fabulous achievements all along. He simply changed people’s perspectives, both by his argument and his courage and his integrity and his willingness to be on the front line all the time and his simplicity and, as Alice Walker said, his humor. This is one case, the war. His People’s History is another case. I mean, it simply changed the conscience of a whole generation.

There had been some studies, you know, of the sort of actions from below, but he raised it to an entirely new plane. In fact, the phrase of his that always rings in my mind is his reverence for and his detailed study of what he called “the countless small actions of unknown people” that lead to those great moments that enter the historical record, a record that you simply can’t begin to understand unless you look at those countless small actions.

And he not only wrote about them eloquently, but he participated in them. And he inspired others to participate in them. And the antiwar movement was one case, civil rights movement before it, Central American wars in the 1980s. In fact, just about any—you know, office worker strikes—just about anything you can—any significant action for peace and justice, Howard was there. People saw him as a leader, but he was really a participant. His remarkable character made him a leader, even if he was just sitting on the—you know, waiting for the police to pull people away like everyone else.

AMY GOODMAN: Noam, in 1971—you may remember this; in fact, you may have been there, but Howard Zinn and Daniel Ellsberg were both beaten by police in Boston at a protest against the Vietnam War. One day before the beating, Zinn spoke at a large rally on Boston Common. This is an excerpt from the documentary You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train.


AMY GOODMAN: That was an excerpt of the documentary You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train, was also the title of Howard Zinn’s autobiography.

Noam, we just have a minute left in this segment, but talk about that activism.

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, that case is very similar to what Howard described about his bombing attack. I mean, the police were actually sympathetic, the individual policemen. They were coming over to demonstrators, you know, speaking supportively. And in fact, when they were given the order to move forward, they were actually telling people, Howard and others, “Look, please move, because we don’t want to do this.” But then, when the order came, they did it. I don’t know who. But it’s much like he said: when you’re in uniform, under arms, an automaton following orders, you do it.

And as Dan pointed out, they went right after Howard, probably in reaction to his comments the day before. And he was dragged away and beaten.

But he was constantly involved with civil disobedience. I was many times with him, as Dan Ellsberg was and others. And he was just—he was fearless. He was simple. He was straightforward. He said the right things, said them eloquently, and inspired others to move forward in ways they wouldn’t have done, and changed their minds. They changed their minds by their actions and by hearing him. He was a really—both in his life and in his work, he was a remarkable person, just irreplaceable.

AMY GOODMAN: Noam, you were personal friends with Howard, too. You and Carol, Howard and Roz spent summers near each other on the Cape.

NOAM CHOMSKY: Yeah, we were personal friends, close personal friends for many years, over forty years. So it’s, of course, a personal loss. But it’s beyond—even beyond his close friends and family, it’s just a tragic loss to the millions of people—who knows how many endless numbers?—whose lives he touched and changed and helped them become much better people.

The one good thing is that he understood and recognized them, sure, especially in those last remarkable, vibrant years of his life, how much his incredible contributions were welcomed, admired, how much he was loved and admired, and he could look back on a very satisfying life of real unusual achievement.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Noam Chomsky, I want to thank you very much for being with us. Noam is a linguist, a world-renowned dissident and a close friend of Howard Zinn. And Alice Walker, thanks, as well, for joining us from Mexico, former student and friend of Howard Zinn.

This is Democracy Now! When we come back, we’ll hear more of Howard in his own words, and we’ll be joined by Anthony Arnove, his co-editor and colleague. Stay with us.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: We’ll be joined by Anthony Arnove and Naomi Klein, but on this sad day, the day after the news of Howard Zinn’s death, I want to turn to one of the last interviews we did with him. It was May 2009. He came to New York to promote his latest book.
AMY GOODMAN: Yes, that was Howard Zinn. We’re joined now by Anthony Arnove in New York, by Naomi Klein here at Sundance, where Howard Zinn was last year, premiering The People Speak. He was here with Anthony Arnove, who’s co-author of Voices of a People’s History of the United States with Anthony.

Anthony, we just have a few minutes, but share your reflections on the latest work of Howard Zinn. I know this is a tremendous personal loss for you, as well as for everyone.
ANTHONY ARNOVE: Well, you know, Howard never rested. He had such an energy. And over the last few years, he continued to write, continued to speak, and he brought to life this history that he spoke about in that segment that you just aired. He wanted to bring a new generation of people into contact with the voices of dissent, the voices of protest, that they don’t get in their school textbooks, that we don’t get in our establishment media, and to remind them of the power of their own voice, remind them of the power of dissent, the power of protest. And he wanted to leave a legacy of crystallizing those voices, synthesizing those voices.

And he actively worked to bring together this remarkable documentary, The People Speak, which he narrated. He worked so tirelessly to bring that about. And, you know, I just felt so privileged to have had the opportunity to work with him at all, let alone on this project, and to see that realized.

But, you know, Alice Walker talked about his humor, his sense of joy in life, and that was infectious. He really conveyed to everyone he came into contact with that there was no more meaningful action than to be involved in struggle, no more fulfilling or important way of living one’s life than in struggle fighting for justice. And so many people, myself included, but, you know, millions of people around the world, countless number of people, they changed their lives by encountering Howard Zinn—Howard changed their lives—reading A People’s History of the United States, hearing one of his lectures, meeting him, hearing him on the radio, reading an article he wrote. He really inspired people to create the kinds of movements that brought about whatever rights, whatever freedoms, whatever liberties we have in this country. And that really is the legacy that it’s incumbent upon all of us to extend and keep alive and keep vibrant.
AMY GOODMAN: Anthony, I wanted to bring Naomi Klein back into this discussion. I think it’s very touching we’re here at Sundance, where you were with Howard Zinn last year, as he premiered People Speak. But last night, after Howard died, we saw the New York Times put up the AP, the Associated Press, obit. The Times has something like 1,200 obits already prepared for people. They didn’t have one prepared for Howard Zinn. And this Associated Press obit very quickly went to a quote of Arthur Schlesinger, the historian, who once said, “I know”—he’s talking about Howard Zinn—“I know he regards me as a dangerous reactionary. And I don’t take him very seriously. He’s a polemicist, not a historian.” Naomi Klein, your response?
NAOMI KLEIN: I don’t think that would have bothered Howard Zinn at all. He never was surprised when power protected itself. And he really was a people’s historian, so he didn’t look to the elites for validation.

I’m just so happy that Anthony and the incredible team from People Speak gave Howard this incredible gift at the end of his life. I was at Lincoln Center at the premiere of People Speak and was there when just the mention of Howard’s name led thousands of people to leap to their feet and give him the standing ovation that he deserved. So I don’t think he needed the New York Times. I don’t think he needed the official historians. He was everybody’s favorite teacher, the teacher that changed your life, but he was that for millions and millions of people. And so, you know, that’s what happened. We just lost our favorite teacher.

But the thing about Howard is that the history that he taught was not just about losing the official illusions about nationalism, about the heroic figures. It was about telling people to believe in themselves and their power to change the world. So, like any wonderful teacher, he left all of these lessons behind. And I think we should all just resolve to be a little bit more like Howard today.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, let’s end with Howard Zinn in his own words, from one of his last speeches. He spoke at Boston University just two months ago in November.
AMY GOODMAN: Yes, that was Howard Zinn. As we wrap up today, Naomi Klein, your final words?
NAOMI KLEIN: Well, we are in the midst of a Howard Zinn revival. I mean, this was happening anyway. And it’s so extraordinary for somebody at the end of their life to be having films made about them and played on television, and his books are back on the bestseller list. And it’s because the particular message that Howard relayed his whole life, devoted his whole life to, is so relevant for this moment. I mean, even thinking about it the day after the State of the Union address, Howard’s message was don’t believe in great men; believe in yourself; history comes from the bottom up.

And that—we have forgotten how change happens in this country. We think that you can just vote and that change will happen for us. And Howard was just relentlessly reminding us, no, you make the change that you want. And that message was so relevant for this moment. And I just feel so grateful to Anthony and, once again, the whole team that facilitated this revival, because we need Howard’s voice more than ever right now.
AMY GOODMAN: And, of course, that last work, The People Speak, appeared on the History Channel, oh, just in the last weeks, really a culmination of Howard Zinn’s work.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I ♥ Howard Zinn..please teach children about the greatness of this man we've now lost.....

Howard Zinn

Zinn-obit
Howard Zinn, one of the country’s most celebrated historians, died of a heart attack Wednesday in Santa Monica, California. He was 87.
His classic work, A People’s History of the United States, changed the way we look at history in America. First published a quarter of a century ago, the book has sold over a million copies and continues to sell more copies each successive year.
After serving as a shipyard worker and then an Air Force bombardier in World War II, Zinn went on to become a lifelong dissident and peace activist. He went to college under the GI Bill, received his PhD from Columbia. He was active in the civil rights movement and many of the struggles for social justice over the past half-century. He taught at Spelman College, the historically black college for women in Atlanta, was fired for insubordination for standing up for the women. He is now Professor Emeritus at Boston University and was recently honored by Spelman.
Zinn has received the Thomas Merton Award, the Eugene V. Debs Award, the Upton Sinclair Award, and the Lannan Literary Award. He is the author of many books, including the People’s History Series; a seven-volume series on the Radical ’60s; several collections of essays on art, war, politics and history; and the plays Emma and Marx in Soho.
In December, The People Speak a documentary based on the live performances of A People’s History of the United States and Voices of a People’s History of the United States premiered on the History Channel.
Over the years, Howard Zinn has been a frequent guest on Democracy Now! A collection of his appearances is listed below.

We Send Doctors, Not Soldiers, By FIDEL CASTRO

A Strictly Humanitarian Mission

By FIDEL CASTRO

Two days after the catastrophe in Haiti, which destroyed that neighboring sister nation, I wrote:

“In the area of healthcare and others the Haitian people has received the cooperation of Cuba, even though this is a small and blockaded country. Approximately 400 doctors and healthcare workers are helping the Haitian people free of charge. Our doctors are working every day at 227 of the 237 communes of that country. On the other hand, no less than 400 young Haitians have been graduated as medical doctors in our country. They will now work alongside the reinforcement that traveled there yesterday to save lives in that critical situation. Thus, up to one thousand doctors and healthcare personnel can be mobilized without any special effort; and most are already there willing to cooperate with any other State that wishes to save Haitian lives and rehabilitate the injured.”

“The head of our medical brigade has informed that ‘the situation is difficult but we are already saving lives.’”

Hour after hour, day and night, the Cuban health professionals have started to work nonstop in the few facilities that were able to stand, in tents, and out in the parks or open-air spaces, since the population feared new aftershocks.

The situation was far more serious than was originally thought. Tens of thousands of injured were clamoring for help in the streets of Port-au-Prince; innumerable persons laid, dead or alive, under the rubbled clay or adobe used in the construction of the houses where the overwhelming majority of the population lived. Buildings, even the most solid, collapsed. Besides, it was necessary to look for the Haitian doctors who had graduated at the Latin American Medicine School throughout all the destroyed neighborhoods. Many of them were affected, either directly or indirectly, by the tragedy.

Some UN officials were trapped in their dormitories and tens of lives were lost, including the lives of several chiefs of MINUSTAH, a UN contingent. The fate of hundreds of other members of its staff was unknown.

Haiti’s Presidential Palace crumbled. Many public facilities, including several hospitals, were left in ruins.

The catastrophe shocked the whole world, which was able to see what was going on through the images aired by the main international TV networks. Governments from everywhere in the planet announced they would be sending rescue experts, food, medicines, equipment and other resources.

In conformity with the position publicly announced by Cuba, medical staff from different countries--namely Spain, Mexico, and Colombia, among others--worked very hard alongside our doctors at the facilities they had improvised. Organizations such as PAHO and other friendly countries like Venezuela and other nations supplied medicines and other resources. The impeccable behavior of Cuban professionals and their leaders was absolutely void of chauvinism and remained out of the limelight.

Cuba, just as it had done under similar circumstances, when Hurricane Katrina caused huge devastation in the city of New Orleans and the lives of thousands of American citizens were in danger, offered to send a full medical brigade to cooperate with the people of the United States, a country that, as is well known, has vast resources. But at that moment what was needed were trained and well-equipped doctors to save lives. Given New Orleans geographical location, more than one thousand doctors of the “Henry Reeve” contingent mobilized and readied to leave for that city at any time of the day or the night, carrying with them the necessary medicines and equipment. It never crossed our mind that the President of that nation would reject the offer and let a number of Americans that could have been saved to die. The mistake made by that government was perhaps the inability to understand that the people of Cuba do not see in the American people an enemy; it does not blame it for the aggressions our homeland has suffered.

Nor was that government capable of understanding that our country does not need to beg for favors or forgiveness of those who, for half a century now, have been trying, to no avail, to bring us to our knees.

Our country, also in the case of Haiti, immediately responded to the US authorities requests to fly over the eastern part of Cuba as well as other facilities they needed to deliver assistance, as quickly as possible, to the American and Haitian citizens who had been affected by the earthquake.

Such have been the principles characterizing the ethical behavior of our people. Together with its equanimity and firmness, these have been the ever-present features of our foreign policy. And this is known only too well by whoever have been our adversaries in the international arena.

Cuba will firmly stand by the opinion that the tragedy that has taken place in Haiti, the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, is a challenge to the richest and more powerful countries of the world.

Haiti is a net product of the colonial, capitalist and imperialist system imposed on the world. Haiti’s slavery and subsequent poverty were imposed from abroad. That terrible earthquake occurred after the Copenhagen Summit, where the most elemental rights of 192 UN member States were trampled upon.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, a competition has unleashed in Haiti to hastily and illegally adopt boys and girls. UNICEF has been forced to adopt preventive measures against the uprooting of many children, which will deprive their close relatives from their rights.

There are more than one hundred thousand deadly victims. A high number of citizens have lost their arms or legs, or have suffered fractures requiring rehabilitation that would enable them to work or manage their own.

Eighty per cent of the country needs to be rebuilt. Haiti requires an economy that is developed enough to meet its needs according to its productive capacity. The reconstruction of Europe or Japan, which was based on the productive capacity and the technical level of the population, was a relatively simple task as compared to the effort that needs to be made in Haiti. There, as well as in most of Africa and elsewhere in the Third World, it is indispensable to create the conditions for a sustainable development. In only forty years time, humanity will be made of more than nine billion inhabitants, and right now is faced with the challenge of a climate change that scientists accept as an inescapable reality.

In the midst of the Haitian tragedy, without anybody knowing how and why, thousands of US marines, 82nd Airborne Division troops and other military forces have occupied Haiti. Worse still is the fact that neither the United Nations Organization nor the US government have offered an explanation to the world’s public opinion about this relocation of troops.

Several governments have complained that their aircraft have not been allowed to land in order to deliver the human and technical resources that have been sent to Haiti.

Some countries, for their part, have announced they would be sending an additional number of troops and military equipment. In my view, such events will complicate and create chaos in international cooperation, which is already in itself complex. It is necessary to seriously discuss this issue. The UN should be entrusted with the leading role it deserves in these so delicate matters.

Our country is accomplishing a strictly humanitarian mission. To the extent of its possibilities, it will contribute the human and material resources at its disposal. The will of our people, who takes pride in its medical doctors and cooperation workers who provide vital services, is huge, and will rise to the occasion.

Any significant cooperation that is offered to our country will not be rejected, but its acceptance will fully depend on the importance and transcendence of the assistance that is requested from the human resources of our homeland.

It is only fair to state that, up until this moment, our modest aircrafts and the important human resources that Cuba has made available to the Haitian people have arrived at their destination without any difficulty whatsoever.

We send doctors, not soldiers!

Blair’s appearance at Iraq inquiry to spark mass anti-war protest


by David Brown and Adam Fresco













Thousands of anti-war campaigners are preparing for Tony Blair’s appearance at the Iraq inquiry in what could be the biggest political demonstration since last year’s G20 protests.

Riot police will be on stand-by around the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, close to the Houses of Parliament, as the former Prime Minister faces more than five hours of questioning on Friday.

The day before, anti-war protesters will attempt to blockade an international conference organised by Gordon Brown on the future of Afghanistan at Lancaster House, Central London.

Political leaders from many of the 43 nations involved in the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan are expected to attend, including Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, Hamid Karzai, the Afghan President, and Ban Ki Moon, the United Nations Secretary-General.

However the focus of the week’s demonstrations is expected to be Mr Blair’s appearance before Sir John Chilcot’s committee. The Stop the War Coalition says that protesters are preparing to travel from across the country.

More than 3,000 people applied for 40 public places in the room where the former Prime Minister will be questioned by the five-member panel. The inquiry is allowing a further 1,400 people into a public viewing room to watch either the morning and afternoon sessions on giant screens.
...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Democracy in America Is a Useful Fiction

By Chris Hedges


Corporate forces, long before the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, carried out a coup d’état in slow motion. The coup is over. We lost. The ruling is one more judicial effort to streamline mechanisms for corporate control. It exposes the myth of a functioning democracy and the triumph of corporate power. But it does not significantly alter the political landscape. The corporate state is firmly cemented in place.

The fiction of democracy remains useful, not only for corporations, but for our bankrupt liberal class. If the fiction is seriously challenged, liberals will be forced to consider actual resistance, which will be neither pleasant nor easy. As long as a democratic facade exists, liberals can engage in an empty moral posturing that requires little sacrifice or commitment.

They can be the self-appointed scolds of the Democratic Party, acting as if they are part of the debate and feel vindicated by their cries of protest.

Much of the outrage expressed about the court’s ruling is the outrage of those who prefer this choreographed charade. As long as the charade is played, they do not have to consider how to combat what the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls our system of “inverted totalitarianism.”

 Inverted totalitarianism represents “the political coming of age of corporate power and the political demobilization of the citizenry,” Wolin writes in “Democracy Incorporated.” Inverted totalitarianism differs from classical forms of totalitarianism, which revolve around a demagogue or charismatic leader, and finds its expression in the anonymity of the corporate state. The corporate forces behind inverted totalitarianism do not, as classical totalitarian movements do, boast of replacing decaying structures with a new, revolutionary structure.

They purport to honor electoral politics, freedom and the Constitution. But they so corrupt and manipulate the levers of power as to make democracy impossible.

Inverted totalitarianism is not conceptualized as an ideology or objectified in public policy. It is furthered by “power-holders and citizens who often seem unaware of the deeper consequences of their actions or inactions,” Wolin writes. But it is as dangerous as classical forms of totalitarianism. In a system of inverted totalitarianism, as this court ruling illustrates, it is not necessary to rewrite the Constitution, as fascist and communist regimes do. It is enough to exploit legitimate power by means of judicial and legislative interpretation.

This exploitation ensures that huge corporate campaign contributions are protected speech under the First Amendment. It ensures that heavily financed and organized lobbying by large corporations is interpreted as an application of the people’s right to petition the government. The court again ratified the concept that corporations are persons, except in those cases where the “persons” agree to a “settlement.” Those within corporations who commit crimes can avoid going to prison by paying large sums of money to the government while, according to this twisted judicial reasoning, not “admitting any wrongdoing.” There is a word for this. It is called corruption.

Corporations have 35,000 lobbyists in Washington and thousands more in state capitals that dole out corporate money to shape and write legislation. They use their political action committees to solicit employees and shareholders for donations to fund pliable candidates.

The financial sector, for example, spent more than $5 billion on political campaigns, influence peddling and lobbying during the past decade, which resulted in sweeping deregulation, the gouging of consumers, our global financial meltdown and the subsequent looting of the U.S. Treasury. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America spent $26 million last year and drug companies such as Pfizer, Amgen and Eli Lilly kicked in tens of millions more to buy off the two parties. These corporations have made sure our so-called health reform bill will force us to buy their predatory and defective products. The oil and gas industry, the coal industry, defense contractors and telecommunications companies have thwarted the drive for sustainable energy and orchestrated the steady erosion of civil liberties. Politicians do corporate bidding and stage hollow acts of political theater to keep the fiction of the democratic state alive.

There is no national institution left that can accurately be described as democratic. Citizens, rather than participate in power, are allowed to have virtual opinions to preordained questions, a kind of participatory fascism as meaningless as voting on “American Idol.” Mass emotions are directed toward the raging culture wars. This allows us to take emotional stands on issues that are inconsequential to the power elite.

Our transformation into an empire, as happened in ancient Athens and Rome, has seen the tyranny we practice abroad become the tyranny we practice at home. We, like all empires, have been eviscerated by our own expansionism. We utilize weapons of horrific destructive power, subsidize their development with billions in taxpayer dollars, and are the world’s largest arms dealer. And the Constitution, as Wolin notes, is “conscripted to serve as power’s apprentice rather than its conscience.”


“Inverted totalitarianism reverses things,” Wolin writes. “It is politics all of the time but a politics largely untempered by the political. Party squabbles are occasionally on public display, and there is a frantic and continuous politics among factions of the party, interest groups, competing corporate powers, and rival media concerns. And there is, of course, the culminating moment of national elections when the attention of the nation is required to make a choice of personalities rather than a choice between alternatives. What is absent is the political, the commitment to finding where the common good lies amidst the welter of well-financed, highly organized, single-minded interests rabidly seeking governmental favors and overwhelming the practices of representative government and public administration by a sea of cash.” 

Hollywood, the news industry and television, all corporate controlled, have become instruments of inverted totalitarianism. They censor or ridicule those who critique or challenge corporate structures and assumptions. They saturate the airwaves with manufactured controversy, whether it is Tiger Woods or the dispute between Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien. They manipulate images to make us confuse how we are made to feel with knowledge, which is how Barack Obama became president. And the draconian internal control employed by the Department of Homeland Security, the military and the police over any form of popular dissent, coupled with the corporate media’s censorship, does for inverted totalitarianism what thugs and bonfires of books do in classical totalitarian regimes.

“It seems a replay of historical experience that the bias displayed by today’s media should be aimed consistently at the shredded remains of liberalism,” Wolin writes. “Recall that an element common to most 20th century totalitarianism, whether Fascist or Stalinist, was hostility towards the left. In the United States, the left is assumed to consist solely of liberals, occasionally of ‘the left wing of the Democratic Party,’ never of democrats.”

Liberals, socialists, trade unionists, independent journalists and intellectuals, many of whom were once important voices in our society, have been silenced or targeted for elimination within corporate-controlled academia, the media and government. Wolin, who taught at Berkeley and later at Princeton, is arguably the country’s foremost political philosopher. And yet his book was virtually ignored. This is also why Ralph Nader, Dennis Kucinich and Cynthia McKinney, along with intellectuals like Noam Chomsky, are not given a part in our national discourse.

The uniformity of opinion is reinforced by the skillfully orchestrated mass emotions of nationalism and patriotism, which paints all dissidents as “soft” or “unpatriotic.” The “patriotic” citizen, plagued by fear of job losses and possible terrorist attacks, unfailingly supports widespread surveillance and the militarized state. This means no questioning of the $1 trillion in defense-related spending. It means that the military and intelligence agencies are held above government, as if somehow they are not part of government. The most powerful instruments of state power and control are effectively removed from public discussion. We, as imperial citizens, are taught to be contemptuous of government bureaucracy, yet we stand like sheep before Homeland Security agents in airports and are mute when Congress permits our private correspondence and conversations to be monitored and archived. We endure more state control than at any time in American history. 

The civic, patriotic and political language we use to describe ourselves remains unchanged.

We pay fealty to the same national symbols and iconography. We find our collective identity in the same national myths. We continue to deify the Founding Fathers. But the America we celebrate is an illusion. It does not exist. Our government and judiciary have no real sovereignty. Our press provides diversion, not information. Our organs of security and power keep us as domesticated and as fearful as most Iraqis. Capitalism, as Karl Marx understood, when it emasculates government, becomes a revolutionary force. And this revolutionary force, best described as inverted totalitarianism, is plunging us into a state of neo-feudalism, perpetual war and severe repression. The Supreme Court decision is part of our transformation by the corporate state from citizens to prisoners.

Chris Hedges, a Pulitzer Prize-winning correspondent, writes a column published every Monday on Truthdig. His latest book is “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.”


Original: AP / Charles Dharapak

Monday, January 25, 2010

Cornel West Called Far and Wide to Touch Minds



Published: January 22, 2010

Cornel West, 56, has many roles: Princeton professor, philosopher, fiery orator, civil rights activist, classical violinist and actor (in two “Matrix” movies). On weekends, Dr. West travels the country delivering lectures, being, in his own words, “a bluesman in the life of the mind, a jazzman in the world of ideas, forever on the move.”



Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times

The Princeton scholar Cornel West, at Newark's airport, says he has never spent a weekend in Princeton.

HEEDING THE CALL I’ve never spent a weekend in Princeton. I would like to be at home, but my calling beckons me. I’ve got places to go, from schools to community centers to prisons to churches to mosques to universities to trade unions. There’s academic lectures, political lectures, religious lectures. It’s just my regular weekly travel. The aim is to touch minds and settle souls; so you instruct as well as delight.

EARLY RISER I usually get up in a different part of the country every Sunday, usually very early, about 6:30 a.m. It’s just the habit, you know. I’m traveling, so I’ve got to get moving. I usually hit four cities in a weekend.

THE PLACES HE GOES All over. This past weekend, I was in Seattle, Oakland, Sacramento and Chicago. Next weekend, I’m going to Dallas, Houston and back to Chicago. I stay in hotels. They provide for me. None of this is out of my pocket; I’m as broke as I can be.

FAITH-BASED Am I religious? Am I a black man born to my parents, Irene and Clifton West? I am, indeed, indeed. I am a profoundly Jesus-loving free black man who bears witness to truth and justice until the day I die.

WHICH CHURCHES? Christian and Baptist. Funky Baptist, which means you focus on the blood at the cross where you find the love and freedom to bear witness to truth and justice. And funky as in George Clinton-and-James Brown funky, as opposed to deodorized.

FAVORITE HOUSES OF WORSHIP If I can, if possible, I usually go to a black Baptist church. Concord Baptist in Brooklyn. Enon Tabernacle Baptist in Philadelphia. Abyssinian in Harlem, with my dear brother Calvin Butts. I’ve spoken at his church three times. And Mother Zion Church on West 137th Street. I just spoke there. I’m not an ordained or licensed preacher, but they ask me to preach anyway.

NO BREAKFAST I haven’t had breakfast on a Sunday since 1984.

WHAT HAPPENED IN 1984? We won’t go into that. It was a special Sunday. But I always have water. It’s decaf coffee from Monday to Thursday.

HITTING THE BOOKS Downtime is reading; I’m always reading on the plane, whatever the reading is for course work the next week. I’m also always rereading the classics, Plato, St. Augustine.

EVER READ FLUFF? I might pick up Time or Newsweek and take a peek.

PREPPING FOR CLASS I try to shoot to be home by 8 or 9 at night. I like to get home and wash my clothes. I have to read all night; I have to be real fresh for class. I like to read two or three hours every night. Right now I’m reading Robert Brandom, one of the great pragmatic American philosophers. I read until 2, 2:30 a.m. I don’t really need that much sleep.

IN THE COMPANY OF GREATS I’ve been married three times. I’m married to my calling, but I’m not married to a particular woman. I have no pets. My apartment is full of books and records, the light of Toni Morrison and John Coltrane. And Chekhov, everywhere.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dangerous Proposition to Limit Voters Choices, by C. T. Weber

by C. T. Weber

Be aware Californians, on your June 8, 2010, direct primary ballot will be a very dangerous proposition which appears very harmless. It is called the Top Two Candidates Open Primary. I had always thought the purpose of a primary was to allow each political party to select who would run in the general election against the winners of the other parties. However, the purpose of this proposition is to put all candidates, for the same office on the same ballot in the primary election. Here’s the killer: only the two candidates with the highest vote totals for each office, regardless of party preference, would then compete for the office at the ensuing general election. This will probably result in one Democratic and one Republican candidate for each office. However, in some cases it will be two Democratic candidates and in other cases it will result in two Republican candidates. Voters will be denied the opportunity to vote in the general election for candidates from the four smaller parties. The passage of the Top Two proposition will reduce your choices in the general election to only two.

Read more...
 

Illuminated 15th c. Manuscript - full of hidden demons

hours-catherine-morgan.tifThe Morgan Library in New York is currenty exhibiting one of the great masterworks of medieval illumination, the Hours of Catherine of Cleves. All 157 miniatures have also been digitized. From the website
This digital facsimile provides reproductions of all 157 miniatures (and facing text pages) from the Hours of Catherine of Cleves. The original one-volume prayer book had been taken apart in the nineteenth century; the leaves were shuffled and then rebound into two confusing volumes. This presentation offers the miniatures in their original, fifteenth-century sequence. The Hours of Catherine of Cleves is the greatest Dutch illuminated manuscript in the world. Its 157 miniatures are by the gifted Master of Catherine of Cleves (active ca. 1435-60), who is named after this book. The Master of Catherine of Cleves is considered the finest and most original illuminator of the medieval northern Netherlands, and this manuscript is his masterpiece.
For other illuminated manuscript colelctions online, see The Pages from the Past, Central Asian Miniature and LUSAMUT Studio's Armenian Minuatures. You can see a few more pages from Books of Hours in this RIT collection to give you some idea of just how impressive this manuscript was.
Guestblogger Jessamyn West is a moderator at MetaFilter and a library technologist in Central Vermont who blogs at librarian.net

Noam Chomsky: Big Business Dictates the Presidency

Oct 2009



Saturday, January 23, 2010

Donate to Doctors without Borders

Paul McMaster, a Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) surgeon, describes what he and his team have seen and done since they arrived in Port-au-Prince to bring emergency medical care to earthquake survivors on January 15.



On January 20, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) logistical teams worked to set up MSF's inflatable hospital on the grounds of a school in Port-au-Prince. Staff hope to be able to start treating patients inside the structure on January 22.



Click to Donate


Friday, January 22, 2010

Bolivia's president, has been sworn-in for a second term

Morales sworn-in for second term



Bolivian Indians complained of discrimination by a minority government until Morales was elected [AFP]



Evo Morales, Bolivia's president, has been sworn-in for a second term, vowing to further tighten state control over South America's poorest economy and develop some of the world's largest lithium reserves.
Morales, an Aymara Indian and Bolivia's first indigenous president, won a sweeping re-election victory in December due to broad support from the poor Indian majority.
"Comrades, democracy has been consolidated ... the colonial state has died and the multicultural state has been born," Morales said in his inauguration speech in the capital of La Paz on Friday.
After winning a majority in both houses of congress, the ruling party can now call for referendums to amend the constitution, and will control judicial appointments, which leaves other parties with little power to oppose Morales.
In his inauguration speech, Morales promised to launch state-run paper, cement, dairy and drug companies and develop iron and lithium industries to help Bolivia export value-added products instead of raw materials.
Call for investors
Bolivia has huge deposits of lithium but does not exploit the metal.
"We need a lot of money to industrialise lithium ... we're ready to negotiate [with foreign investors] to guarantee investments," Morales said.
Foreign investors became wary after the president's energy industry nationalisations in 2006, which increased taxes on foreign companies.
Morales said Bolivia needed "partners but not patrons."
Bolivia is South America's top exporter of natural gas, but Morales has failed to attract investment to increase output and corruption has hampered efforts by the state-run energy company to develop projects to produce natural-gas derivatives.
After nationalising energy, mining and telecommunication companies the Bolivian state controls 28 per cent of the economy, increased from about 8 per cent before Morales became president.
The government is targeting 40 per cent state control over the economy, mainly by launching more state companies.
His inauguration was attended by several South American presidents, including Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's president, and Rafael Correa, Ecuador's leader.
Bolivian Indians make up around 60 per cent of the population and have long complained of discrimination by a mixed-raced minority that had a stronghold on politics until Morales first became president in January 2006.


Don't

Don't Box Me In, from the Rumble Fish soundtrack - mp3



Thursday, January 21, 2010

Statement of Ralph Nader on Supreme Court Decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission

Today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission shreds the fabric of our already weakened democracy by allowing corporations to more completely dominate our corrupted electoral process. It is outrageous that corporations already attempt to influence or bribe our political candidates through their political action committees (PACs), which solicit employees and shareholders for donations. With this decision, corporations can now also draw on their corporate treasuries and pour vast amounts of corporate money, through independent expenditures, into the electoral swamp already flooded with corporate campaign PAC contribution dollars.

This corporatist, anti-voter decision is so extreme that it should galvanize a grassroots effort to enact a Constitutional Amendment to once and for all end corporate personhood and curtail the corrosive impact of big money on politics. It is indeed time for a Constitutional amendment to prevent corporate campaign contributions from commercializing our elections and drowning out the civic and political voices and values of citizens and voters. It is way overdue to overthrow “King Corporation” and restore the sovereignty of “We the People”!

For more information or to arrange interviews contact:
Ralph Nader
202-387-8034
January 21, 2010

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cat Goddess Bastet Temple: Egypt Announces Find Of Ancient Temple

[Thanks to bibimimi for the link!]






CAIRO — Archaeologists have unearthed a 2,000-year-old temple that may have been dedicated to the ancient Egyptian cat goddess, Bastet, the Supreme Council of Antiquities said Tuesday. The ruins of the Ptolemaic-era temple were discovered by Egyptian archaeologists in the heart of the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, founded by Alexander the Great in the 4th century B.C.

The city was the seat of the Greek-speaking Ptolemaic Dynasty, which ruled over Egypt for 300 years until the suicide of Queen Cleopatra.

The statement said the temple was thought to belong to Queen Berenice, wife of King Ptolemy III who ruled Egypt in the 3rd century B.C.

Mohammed Abdel-Maqsood, the Egyptian archaeologist who led the excavation team, said the discovery may be the first trace of the long-sought location of Alexandria's royal quarter.

The large number of statues depicting Bastet found in the ruins, he said, suggested that this may be the first Ptolemaic-era temple dedicated to the cat goddess to be discovered in Alexandria.

This would indicate that the worship of the ancient Egyptian cat-goddess continued during the later, Greek-influenced, Ptolemaic period, he said.

Statues of other ancient Egyptian deities were also found in the ruins, he added.

Zahi Hawass, Egypt's chief archaeologist, said the temple may have been used in later times as a quarry as evidenced by the large number of missing stone blocks.

Modern Alexandria was built squarely on top of the ruins of the classical-era city and many of its great temples, palaces and libraries remain undiscovered.

The temple was found in the Kom el-Dekkah neighborhood near the city's main train station and home to a Roman-era amphitheater and well preserved mosaics.



Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Random page from anarchopedia


mutualism

From Anarchopedia

A one-sentence answer is that mutualism consists of people voluntarily banding together for the common purpose of mutual assistance. Clarence Swartz, in What is Mutualism?, defined it this way:
A Social System Based on Equal Freedom, Reciprocity, and the Sovereignty of the Individual Over Himself, His Affairs, and His Products, Realized Through Individual Initiative, Free Contract, Cooperation, Competition, and Voluntary Association for Defense Against the Invasive and for the Protection of Life, Liberty and Property of the Non-invasive.
A character in Ken MacLeod's The Star Fraction gave a description of socialism that might have come from a mutualist:
...what we always meant by socialism wasn't something you forced on people, it was people organizing themselves as they pleased into co-ops, collectives, communes, unions.... And if socialism really is better, more efficient than capitalism, then it can bloody well compete with capitalism. So we decided, forget all the statist s**t and the violence: the best place for socialism is the closest to a free market you can get!
Mutualism means building the kind of society we want here and now, based on grass-roots organization for voluntary cooperation and mutual aid-- instead of waiting for the revolution. Because mutualism emphasizes building within the existing society, and avoiding confrontation with the state when it is unnecessary, it is sometimes identified with "Evolutionary Anarchism," and sometimes criticized as "reformist."
The idea was expressed by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century) as the mutualist economy growing within the statist one until the former eclipsed the latter. The political would eventually be absorbed in the economic, and the distinction between public and private would wither away. Although the phrase was not invented by Proudhon, the command of people would be replaced by the administration of things.


One of the best descriptions of mutualism, believe it or not, is this summary of Proudhon's philosophy by G. Ostergaard, a contributor to A Dictionary of Marxist Thought:
... he argued that working men should emancipate themselves, not by political but by economic means, through the voluntary organization of their own labour--a concept to whch he attached redemptive value.  His proposed system of equitable exchange between self-governing producers, organized individually or in association and financed by free credit, was called 'mutualism'.  The units of the radically decentralized and pluralistic social order that he envisaged were to be linked at all levels by applying 'the federal principle'. [p. 400]
...
Con't at page...

Monday, January 18, 2010

Blue Cat Voo Doo

I'm not clear how this actually happened...Pierce and I were sitting together after a long afternoon of errands and watching a documentary on netflix about the 9/11 families...at some point I had him stop the movie so I could show him the recent article on global research website by David Ray Griffin about the cell phone calls to the ground from the airplanes. [insert long story about the worm.win32.netsky virus we got in the middle of viewing these two websites]..

Anyway...I glanced over to the far side of where Pierce was sitting and I saw the top of one of our cats appear as he walked in the room. He is a light grey cat, named Bobby. At the same time as I knew it was Bobby approaching, our darker grey cat Blue popped into my mind!! The horror! I said to Pierce "OMG, where's Blue?" His eyebrows went up as mine just had and we realized that our beloved, atomic-uppie giving, blue/grey long haired cat Blue was gone. And not just gone, but after some time we realized we haven't seen him since around the 2nd week in December! The last time we remember seeing him was when Pierce's brother was visiting us for an ebay lesson, Pierce showed him Blue's atomic-uppies trick and we were proud of him for showing off for company for us, I recall. Do you have any idea what's gone on in our lives since then? Neither of us can fathom, and are both truly baffled at how we could forget about one of the star kitties in the house...I mean I notice when any cat is not doing it's normal thing within a few hours....

It came to me that Blue maybe knew how emotional we are about taking care of our brood of felines...When I notice one is gone I stand out front and back like a, pardon me, crazy cat lady, calling their names out each door, walking the property and searching all the ditches and nitches in the house and area. We theorize that he did some sort of cat voo doo on us to cause us to remember too late to do much about his disappearance. I can see him being so considerate, because that's the sort of cat he was. More often than not, the few people I've ever invited to my house here have considered Blue to be the prize winner of the pack.

Anyway...so here we are, once again, mourning a good friend.....









In fact, the following variance of a well-known song came to Pierce's mind as we talked about Blue...We both think he is doing fine and well and has simply moved on...guess he felt it was a good time to give us our memories back...undoo his kitty voo doo...





CAT OF THE ROAD - ROGER MILLER

Trailers for sale or rent
Rooms to let...fifty cents.
No phone, no pool, no pets
I ain't got no cigarettes
Ah, but..two hours of pushin' broom
Buys an eight by twelve four-bit room
I'm a man of means by no means
Cat of the road.

Third boxcar, midnight train
Destination...Bangor, Maine.
Old worn out suits and shoes,
I don't pay no union dues,
I smoke old stogies I have found
Short, but not too big around
I'm a man of means by no means
Cat of the road.

I know every engineer on every train
All of their children, and all of their names
And every handout in every town
And every lock that ain't locked
When no one's around.

I sing,
Trailers for sale or rent
Rooms to let, fifty cents
No phone, no pool, no pets
I ain't got no cigarettes
Ah, but, two hours of pushin' broom
Buys an eight by twelve four-bit room
I'm a man of means by no means
Cat of the road.




This one has cats in it!



Sunday, January 17, 2010

Pearl Bailey, "Haiti Blues"

MP3

Scholar: What Martin Luther King, Jr. Would Say About U.S. Today


Clayborne Carson, Stanford historian and director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute, talks about what the late civil rights leader would think about social and economic justice in America if he were alive today.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Militarization of Emergency Aid to Haiti: Is it a Humanitarian Operation or an Invasion?

Haiti has a longstanding history of US military intervention and occupation going back to the beginning of the 20th Century. US interventionism has contributed to the destruction of Haiti's national economy and the impoverishment of its population.
The devastating earthquake is presented to World public opinion as the sole cause of the country's predicament.
A country has been destroyed, its infrastructure demolished. Its people precipitated into abysmal poverty and despair.
Haiti's history, its colonial past have been erased.
The US military has come to the rescue of an impoverished Nation. What is its Mandate?
Is it a Humanitarian Operation or an Invasion?
The main actors in America's "humanitarian operation" are the Department of Defense, the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). (See USAID Speeches: On-The-Record Briefing on the Situation in Haiti, 01/13/10). USAID has also been entrusted in channelling food aid to Haiti, which is distributed by the World Food Program. (See USAID Press Release: USAID to Provide Emergency Food Aid for Haiti Earthquake Victims, January 13, 2010)
The military component of the US mission, however, tends to overshadow the civilian functions of rescuing a desperate and impoverished population. The overall humanitarian operation is not being led by civilian governmental agencies such as FEMA or USAID, but by the Pentagon.
The dominant decision making role has been entrusted to US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM).
A massive deployment of military hardware and personnel is contemplated. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen has confirmed that the US will be sending nine to ten thousand troops to Haiti, including 2000 marines. (American Forces Press Service, January 14, 2010)
Aircraft carrier, USS Carl Vinson and its complement of supporting ships has already arrived in Port au Prince. (January 15, 2010).  The  2,000-member Marine Amphibious Unit as well as and soldiers from the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne division "are trained in a wide variety of missions including security and riot-control in addition to humanitarian tasks."  
In contrast to rescue and relief teams dispatched by various civilian teams and organizations, the humanitarian mandate of the US military is not clearly defined: 
“Marines are definitely warriors first, and that is what the world knows the Marines for,... [but] we’re equally as compassionate when we need to be, and this is a role that we’d like to show -- that compassionate warrior, reaching out with a helping hand for those who need it. We are very excited about this.” (Marines' Spokesman, Marines Embark on Haiti Response Mission, Army Forces Press Services, January 14, 2010)
While presidents Obama and Préval spoke on the phone, there were no reports of negotiations between the two governments regarding the entry and deployment of US troops on Haitian soil. The decision was taken and imposed unilaterally by Washington. The total lack of a functioning government in Haiti was used to legitimize, on humanitarian grounds, the sending in of a powerful military force, which has de facto taken over several governmental functions.  



TABLE 1
US Military Assets  to be Sent to Haiti. (according to official announcements)
The amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) and amphibious dock landing ships USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43) and USS Carter Hall (LSD 50).
A 2,000-member Marine Amphibious Unit from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit and soldiers from the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne division.  900 soldiers are slated to arrive in Haiti by January 15th.
Aircraft carrier, USS Carl Vinson and its complement of supporting ships. (arrived in Port au Prince on January 15, 2010):  USS Carl Vinson CVN 70
The hospital ship USNS Comfort
Several U.S. Coast Guard vessels and helicopters
 

USS Carl Vinson
The three amphibious ships will join aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy and guided-missile frigate USS Underwood.

USS Normandy



Leading Role of US Southern Command
US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) with headquarters in Miami is the "lead agency" in Haiti. Its mandate as a regional military command is to carry out modern warfare. Its stated mission in Latin America and the Caribbean is  "to conduct military operations and promote security cooperation to achieve U.S. strategic objectives." (Our Mission - U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) The commanding officers  are trained to oversee theater operations, military policing as well "counterinsurgency" in Latin America and the Caribbean, including the recent establishment of new US military bases in Colombia, within proximity of the Venezuelan border. 
General Douglas Fraser, commander of U.S. Southern Command has defined the Haiti emergency operation as a Command, Control, Communications operation (C3). US Southern Command is to oversee a massive deployment of military hardware, including several warships, an aircraft carrier, airborne combat divisions, etc:
"So we're focused on getting command and control and communications there so that we can really get a better understanding of what's going on. MINUSTAH [United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti], as their headquarters partially collapsed, lost a lot of their communication, and so we're looking to robust that communication, also.
We're also sending in assessment teams in conjunction with USAID, supporting their efforts, as well as putting in some of our own to support their efforts.
We're moving various ships that we had in the region -- they're small ships, Coast Guard cutters, destroyers -- in that direction, to provide whatever immediate assistance that we can on the ground.
We also have a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, the USS Carl Vinson, moving in that direction. It was at sea off of Norfolk, and so it's going to take a couple of days for it to get there. We need to also just resupply it and give it the provisions it needs to support the effort as we look at Haiti. And then we're looking across the international agencies to figure out how we support their efforts as well as our efforts.
We also are looking at a large-deck amphibious ship with an embarked Marine Expeditionary Unit on it that will be a couple of days behind the USS Vinson.
And that gives us a broader range of capability to move supplies around, to have lift capability to help support the effort there also.
So bottom line to it is, we don't have a clear assessment right now of what the situation on the ground is, what the needs within Port-au-Prince are, how extensive the situation is.
We also, finally, have a team that's headed in to the airport. From my understanding -- because my deputy commander just happened to be in Haiti when this situation happened, on a previously scheduled visit. He has been to the airport. He says the runway is functional but the tower doesn't have communications capability. The passenger terminal -- has structural damage to it, so we don't know what the status of it is.
So we have a group going in to make sure we can gain and secure the airfield and operate from it, because that's one of those locations we think we're going to have a lot of the immediate effort from an international basis going into.
And then we're out conducting all the other assessments that you would consider appropriate as we go in and work this effort.
We're also coordinating on the ground with MINUSTAH, with the folks who are there. The commander for MINUSTAH happened to be in Miami when this situation happened, so he's right now traveling back through and should be arriving in Port-au-Prince any time now. So that will help us coordinate our efforts there also, because again, obviously the United Nations suffered a significant loss there with the collapse -- at least partial collapse of their headquarters.
So that's -- those are the initial efforts that we have ongoing And as we get the assessments of what's coming next, then we'll adjust as required.
The secretary of Defense, the president, have all stipulated that this is a significant effort, and we're corralling all the resources within the Department of Defense to support this effort." (Defense.gov News Transcript: DOD News Briefing with Gen. Fraser from the Pentagon, January 13, 2010)
A Heritage Foundation report summarizes the substance of America's mission in Haiti: "The earthquake has both humanitarian and U.S. national security implications [requiring] a rapid response that is not only bold but decisive, mobilizing U.S. military, governmental, and civilian capabilities for both a short-term rescue and relief effort and a longer-term recovery and reform program in Haiti." (James M. Roberts and Ray Walser, American Leadership Necessary to Assist Haiti After Devastating Earthquake, Heritage Foundation, January 14, 2010).
At the outset, the military mission will be involved in first aid and emergency as well as public security and police activities.
US Air Force Controls the Airport

The US Air Force has taken over air traffic control functions as well as the management of Port au Prince airport. In other words, the US military regulates the flow of emergency aid and relief supplies which are being brought into the country in civilian planes. The US Air Force is not working under the instructions of Haitian Airport officials. These officials have been displaced. The airport is run by the US Military (Interview with Haitian Ambassador to the US R. Joseph, PBS News, January 15, 2010)

"The FAA's team is working with DOD combat controllers to improve the flow of air traffic moving in and out of the airport. The US Air Force reopened the airport on 14 January, and on 15 January its contingency response group was granted senior airfield authority ... Senior airfield authority enables the Air Force to prioritise, schedule and control the airspace at the airport, ..." (flightglobal.com, January 16, 2010, emphasis added)

The 1,000-bed U.S. Navy hospital ship, USNS Comfort, which includes more than 1,000 medical and support personnel has been sent to Haiti under the jurisdiction of Southern Command. (See  Navy hospital ship with 1,000 beds readies for Haiti quake relief, Digital Journal, January 14, 2010). There were, at the time of the Earthquake, some 7100 military personnel and over 2000 police, namely a foreign force of over 9000. In contrast, the international civilian personnel of MINUSTAH is less than 500. MINUSTAH Facts and Figures - United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti



TABLE 2

United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH)

Current strength (30 November 2009)

9,065 total uniformed personnel

Estimated combined SOUTHCOM and MINUSTAH forces; 19,095*
*Excluding commitments by France (unconfirmed) and Canada (confirmed 800 troops). The US, France and Canada were "partners" in the February 29, 2004 Coup d'État. 



Haiti has been under foreign military occupation since the US instigated February 2004 Coup d'Etat. The contingent of US forces under SOUTHCOM combined with those of MINUSTAH brings foreign military presence in Haiti to close to 20,000 in a country of 9 million people. In  comparison in Afghanistan, prior to Obama's military surge, combined US and NATO forces were of the order of 70,000 for a population of 28 million. In other words, on a per capita basis there will be more troops in Haiti than in Afghanistan.
Recent US Military Interventions in Haiti
There have been several US sponsored military interventions in recent history. In 1994, following three years of military rule, a force of  20,000 occupation troops and "peace-keepers" was sent to Haiti. The 1994 US military intervention "was not intended to restore democracy. Quite the contrary: it was carried out to prevent a popular insurrection against the military Junta and its neoliberal cohorts." (Michel Chossudovsky, The Destabilization of Haiti, Global Research, February 28, 2004)
US and allied troops remained in the country until 1999. The Haitian armed forces were disbanded and the US State Department hired a mercenary company DynCorp to provide "technical advice" in restructuring the Haitian National Police (HNP). (Ibid).
The February 2004 Coup d'État
In the months leading up to the 2004 Coup d'Etat, US special forces and the CIA were training death squadrons composed of the former tonton macoute of the Duvalier era. The Rebel paramilitary army crossed the border from the Dominican Republic in early February 2004. "It was a well armed, trained and equipped paramilitary unit integrated by former members of Le Front pour l'avancement et le progrès d'Haiti (FRAPH), the "plain clothes" death squadrons, involved in mass killings of civilians and political assassinations during the CIA sponsored 1991 military coup, which led to the overthrow of the democratically elected government of President Jean Bertrand Aristide." (see Michel Chossudovsky,  The Destabilization of Haiti: Global Research. February 28, 2004)
Foreign troops were sent into Haiti. MINUSTAH was set up in the wake of the US sponsored coup d'Etat in February 2004 and the kidnapping and deportation of the democratically elected president Jean Bertrand Aristide. The coup was instigated by the US with the support of  France and Canada.
The FRAPH units subsequently integrated the country's police force, which was under the supervision of MINUSTAH. In the political and social disarray triggered by the earthquake, the former armed militia and Ton Ton macoute will be playing a new role.
Hidden Agenda
The unspoken mission of US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) with headquarters in Miami and US military installations throughout Latin America is to ensure the maintenance of subservient national regimes, namely US proxy governments, committed to the Washington Consensus and the neoliberal policy agenda. While US military personnel will at the outset be actively involved in emergency and disaster relief, this renewed US military presence in Haiti will be used  to establish a foothold in the country as well pursue America's strategic and geopolitical objectives in the Caribbean basin, which are largely directed against Cuba and Venezuela.
The objective is not to work towards the rehabilitation of the national government, the presidency, the parliament, all of which has been decimated by the earthquake. Since the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship, America's design has been to gradually dismantle the Haitian State, restore colonial patterns and obstruct the functioning of a democratic government. In the present context, the objective is not only to do away with the government but also to revamp the mandate of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), of which the headquarters have been destroyed.
"The role of heading the relief effort and managing the crisis quickly fell to the United States, for lack -- in the short term, at least -- of any other capable entity." ( US Takes Charge in Haiti _ With Troops, Rescue Aid - NYTimes.com, January 14, 2009)
Prior to the earthquake, there were, according to US military sources, some 60 US military personnel in Haiti. From one day to the next, an outright military surge has occurred: 10,000 troops, marines, special forces, intelligence operatives, etc., not to mention private mercenary forces on contract to the Pentagon. 
In all likelihood the humanitarian operation will be used as a pretext and justification to establish a more permanent US military presence in Haiti. 
We are dealing with a massive deployment, a "surge" of military personnel assigned to emergency relief.
The first mission of SOUTHCOM will be to take control of what remains of the country's communications, transport and energy infrastructure. Already, the airport is under de facto US control. In all likelihood, the activities of MINUSTAH which from the outset in 2004 have served US foreign policy interests, will be coordinated with those of SOUTHCOM, namely the UN mission will be put under de facto control of the US military.
The Militarization of Civil Society Relief Organizations
The US military in Haiti seeks to oversee the activities of approved humanitarian organizations. It also purports to encroach upon the humanitarian activities of Venezuela and Cuba:
"The government under President René Préval is weak and literally now in shambles. Cuba and Venezuela, already intent on minimizing U.S. influence in the region, are likely to seize this opportunity to raise their profile and influence..." (James M. Roberts and Ray Walser, American Leadership Necessary to Assist Haiti After Devastating Earthquake, Heritage Foundation, January 14, 2010).
In the US, the militarization of emergency relief operations was instigated during the Katrina crisis, when the US military was called in to play a lead role. 
The model of emergency intervention for SOUTHCOM is patterned on the role of NORTHCOM, which was granted a mandate as "the lead agency" in US domestic emergency procedures.

During Hurricane Rita in 2005, the detailed groundwork for the "militarization of emergency relief" involving a leading role for NORTHCOM was established. In this regard, Bush had hinted to the central role of the military in emergency relief: "Is there a natural disaster--of a certain size--that would then enable the Defense Department to become the lead agency in coordinating and leading the response effort? That's going to be a very important consideration for Congress to think about." (Statement of President Bush at a press conference, Bush Urges Shift in Relief Responsibilities - washingtonpost.com, September 26, 2005).
"The response to the national disaster is not being coordinated by the civilian government out of Texas, but from a remote location and in accordance with military criteria. US Northern Command Headquarters will directly control the movement of military personnel and hardware in the Gulf of Mexico. As in the case of Katrina, it will override the actions of civilian bodies. Yet in this case, the entire operation is under the jurisdiction of the military rather than under that of FEMA." (Michel Chossudovsky, US Northern Command and Hurricane Rita, Global Research, September 24, 2005)
Concluding Remarks
Haiti is a country under military occupation since the US instigated Coup d'Etat of February 2004.

The entry of ten thousand heavily armed US troops, coupled with the activities of local militia could potentially precipitate the country into social chaos.

These foreign forces have entered the country to reinforce MINUSTAH "peacekeepers" and Haitian police forces (integrated by former Tonton Macoute), which since 2004, have been responsible for war crimes directed against the Haitian people, including the indiscriminate killing of civilians.

These troups reinforce the existing occupation forces under UN mandate.

Twenty thousand foreign troops under SOUTHCOM and MINUSTAH commands will be present in the country. In all likelihood, there will be an integration or coordination of the command structures of SOUTHCOM and MINUSTAH.
The Haitian people have exhibited a high degree of solidarity, courage and social commitment.

Helping one another and acting with consciousness: under very difficult conditions, in the immediate wake of the disaster, citizens rescue teams were set up spontaneously.
The militarization of relief operations will weaken the organizational capabilities of Haitians to rebuild and reinstate the institutions of civilian government which have been destroyed. It will also encroach upon the efforts of the international medical teams and civilian relief organisations.
It is absolutely essential that the Haitian people continue to forcefully oppose the presence of foreign troops in their country, particularly in public security operations.

It is essential that Americans across the land forcefully oppose the decision of the Obama adminstration to send US combat troops to Haiti.
There can be no real reconstruction or development under foreign military occupation.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Activists Ask for Peace Dividend

AUGUSTA -- A coalition of activists gathered Thursday in the State House Hall of Flags to call for an end to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as a way to help pay for needed state programs.

The groups say Maine taxpayers have already spent $2.5 billion on the wars. Their estimate is that Maine makes an annual contribution of $320 million toward those conflicts.

This week, hundreds of citizens have come to the State House to protest proposed cuts in the state budget to help fill a $438 million gap. Many of the cuts are to human services and education.

"We are calling for cuts in war spending as a way to help Maine state government deal with this crisis," said Lisa Savage, representing a group called Code Pink.

Savage, a teacher in central Maine, said she used a personal day to come to the State House for the rally and to protest proposed cuts to education funding.

She said the Bring Our War Money Home coalition has launched a three-month campaign to spread their message across the state. The coalition includes Maine Veterans for Peace, Pax Christi Maine, Peace Action Maine and Waterville Area Bridges for Peace & Justice.

Former Sen. Michael Brennan of Portland said he and a dozen other legislators called for an end to the wars more than three years ago.

"I'm sorry to say we were right in our prognosis three and a half years ago," he said. "The state of Maine and this country is in a more dire situation than it was."

Brennan said cuts to education funding, both K-12 and higher education, have continued to chip away at the quality of schools.

"In the 1970s, this country led the world in the number of people that graduated from high school," he said. "Now we're not even in the top 10."

In the future, Brennan said he'd like Maine to be known less for building warships and more for providing a high-quality education.

"My dream is that we will soon become the state known for building universities, building schools, and educating our young people," he said. "And we become No. 1 in the world in that, not in building ships and destroyers."

Susan Cover -- 620-7015

scover@centralmaine.com

Reflections of Fidel The lesson of Haiti

TWO days ago, at almost six o’clock in the evening Cuban time and when, given its geographical location, night had already fallen in Haiti, television stations began to broadcast the news that a violent earthquake – measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale – had severely struck Port-au-Prince. The seismic phenomenon originated from a tectonic fault located in the sea just 15 kilometers from the Haitian capital, a city where 80% of the population inhabit fragile homes built of adobe and mud.

The news continued almost without interruption for hours. There was no footage, but it was confirmed that many public buildings, hospitals, schools and more solidly-constructed facilities were reported collapsed. I have read that an earthquake of the magnitude of 7.3 is equivalent to the energy released by an explosion of 400,000 tons of TNT.

Tragic descriptions were transmitted. Wounded people in the streets were crying out for medical help, surrounded by ruins under which their relatives were buried. No one, however, was able to broadcast a single image for several hours.

The news took all of us by surprise. Many of us have frequently heard about hurricanes and severe flooding in Haiti, but were not aware of the fact that this neighboring country ran the risk of a massive earthquake. It has come to light on this occasion that 200 years ago, a massive earthquake similarly affected this city, which would have been the home of just a few thousand inhabitants at that time.

At midnight, there was still no mention of an approximate figure in terms of victims. High-ranking United Nations officials and several heads of government discussed the moving events and announced that they would send emergency brigades to help. Given that MINUSTAH (United Stabilization Mission in Haiti) troops are deployed there – UN forces from various countries – some defense ministers were talking about possible casualties among their personnel.

It was only yesterday, Wednesday morning, when the sad news began to arrive of enormous human losses among the population, and even institutions such as the United Nations mentioned that some of their buildings in that country had collapsed, a word that does not say anything in itself but could mean a lot.

For hours, increasingly more traumatic news continued to arrive about the situation in this sister nation. Figures related to the number of fatal victims were discussed, which fluctuated, according to various versions, between 30,000 and 100,000. The images are devastating; it is evident that the catastrophic event has been given widespread coverage around the world, and many governments, sincerely moved by the disaster, are making efforts to cooperate according to their resources.

The tragedy has genuinely moved a significant number of people, particularly those in which that quality is innate. But perhaps very few of them have stopped to consider why Haiti is such a poor country. Why does almost 50% of its population depend on family remittances sent from abroad? Why not analyze the realities that led Haiti to its current situation and this enormous suffering as well?

The most curious aspect of this story is that no one has said a single word to recall the fact that Haiti was the first country in which 400,000 Africans, enslaved and trafficked by Europeans, rose up against 30,000 white slave masters on the sugar and coffee plantations, thus undertaking the first great social revolution in our hemisphere. Pages of insurmountable glory were written there. Napoleon’s most eminent general was defeated there. Haiti is the net product of colonialism and imperialism, of more than one century of the employment of its human resources in the toughest forms of work, of military interventions and the extraction of its natural resources.

This historic oversight would not be so serious if it were not for the real fact that Haiti constitutes the disgrace of our era, in a world where the exploitation and pillage of the vast majority of the planet’s inhabitants prevails.

Billions of people in Latin American, Africa and Asia are suffering similar shortages although perhaps not to such a degree as in the case of Haiti.

Situations like that of that country should not exist in any part of the planet, where tens of thousands of cities and towns abound in similar or worse conditions, by virtue of an unjust international economic and political order imposed on the world. The world population is not only threatened by natural disasters such as that of Haiti, which is a just a pallid shadow of what could take place in the planet as a result of climate change, which really was the object of ridicule, derision, and deception in Copenhagen.

It is only just to say to all the countries and institutions that have lost citizens or personnel because of the natural disaster in Haiti: we do not doubt that in this case, the greatest effort will be made to save human lives and alleviate the pain of this long-suffering people. We cannot blame them for the natural phenomenon that has taken place there, even if we do not agree with the policy adopted with Haiti.

But I have to express the opinion that it is now time to look for real and lasting solutions for that sister nation.

In the field of healthcare and other areas, Cuba – despite being a poor and blockaded country – has been cooperating with the Haitian people for many years. Around 400 doctors and healthcare experts are offering their services free of charge to the Haitian people. Our doctors are working every day in 227 of the country’s 337 communes. On the other hand, at least 400 young Haitians have trained as doctors in our homeland. They will now work with the reinforcement brigade which traveled there yesterday to save lives in this critical situation. Thus, without any special effort being made, up to 1,000 doctors and healthcare experts can be mobilized, almost all of whom are already there willing to cooperate with any other state that wishes to save the lives of the Haitian people and rehabilitate the injured.

Another significant number of young Haitians are currently studying medicine in Cuba.

We are also cooperating with the Haitian people in other areas within our reach. However, there can be no other form of cooperation worthy of being described as such than fighting in the field of ideas and political action in order to put an end to the limitless tragedy suffered by a large number of nations such as Haiti.

The head of our medical brigade reported: "The situation is difficult, but we have already started saving lives." He made that statement in a succinct message hours after his arrival yesterday in Port-au-Prince with additional medical reinforcements.

Later that night, he reported that Cuban doctors and ELAM’s Haitian graduates were being deployed throughout the country. They had already seen more than 1,000 patients in Port-au-Prince, immediately establishing and putting into operation a hospital that had not collapsed and using field hospitals where necessary. They were preparing to swiftly set up other centers for emergency care.

We feel a wholesome pride for the cooperation that, in these tragic instances, Cuba doctors and young Haitian doctors who trained in Cuba are offering our brothers and sisters in Haiti!

Fidel Castro Ruz
January 14, 2009
8:25 p.m.

Translated by Granma International

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiti, day 2 days later


From: www.boston.com
(thanks to Crank Bait for the link)


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Living to 100: The 9 Wise Habits



A little public service announcement… Dan Buettner, a writer for National Geographic, has studied the world’s longest-lived peoples. Most of his findings are summed up in his book, The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest. And here, in this video, he boils things down even further, giving you 9 common diet and lifestyle habits found among the world’s oldest populations. Give it some time and pass it along to a friend…

by Dan Colman

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

California Assembly committee OKs recreational marijuana

by Wyatt Buchanan, Chronicle Sacramento Bureau

A bill to legalize adult recreational use of marijuana - and allow the drug to be sold and taxed in California - cleared a key hurdle this morning, as the Assembly Public Safety Committee voted 4-3 to move it to the next step in the debate. But a Friday legislative deadline could mean the legislation will die before making it to the Assembly floor.

Members of the committee who approved the bill are all from the Bay Area and said they did not necessarily support the plan but wanted debate on the state's marijuana policy to continue.

After the vote, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, who sponsored the bill and chairs the committee, said "the conversation is definitely gaining traction in Sacramento."

... The bill, AB390, would allow possession, sale and cultivation of marijuana for people over 21, and impose a $50-an-ounce sales tax on marijuana, much like taxes on tobacco and alcohol. The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control would be tasked with regulation.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/01/12/BA191BH4AR.D...

Who Ever Loved That Loved Not at First Sight?, by Christopher Marlowe

It lies not in our power to love or hate,
For will in us is overruled by fate.
When two are stripped, long ere the course begin,
We wish that one should love, the other win;

And one especially do we affect
Of two gold ingots, like in each respect:
The reason no man knows; let it suffice
What we behold is censured by our eyes.
Where both deliberate, the love is slight:
Who ever loved, that loved not at first sight?
*



Monday, January 11, 2010

Chavez warns businesses after currency devaluation

By Frank Jack Daniel

CARACAS, Jan 10 (Reuters) - Venezuela's Hugo Chavez ordered soldiers to seek out businesses that raise prices after a sharp devaluation of the bolivar currency last week, saying he will expropriate firms that engage in price gouging.

Chavez also created a $1 billion fund to jump-start the recession-hit, oil-reliant economy before elections in September when the opposition hopes to strip him of a parliamentary majority.

"Right now, there is absolutely no reason for anybody to be raising prices of absolutely anything," Chavez said on his weekly TV show, two days after announcing a dual exchange system for the weakened currency, which had been on a fixed exchange rate.

"I want the National Guard on the streets with the people to fight against speculation," Chavez said. "Publicly denounce the speculator and we will intervene in any business of any size."

The socialist Chavez has given the state a hefty role in managing the economy. During his 11 years in office he has nationalized most heavy industries and expropriated large farms. Business and finance are tightly regulated.

He says the devaluation will help make Venezuelan companies more competitive but warned that the government will take over shops and give them to workers if price rises are uncovered.

Chavez gave out phone numbers during the broadcast to report price gouging and asked his defense minister to prepare an "offensive" against the practice.

After browbeating firms that might raise prices, he announced $1 billion of credits and subsidies to try to diversify the economy and get industry back on its feet. He also invited businessmen to talks with the government.

Venezuela's economy is largely dependent on oil revenue and slipped into recession last year as crude prices fell and manufacturing and industry output crashed.

PROTECT THE POOR

South America's leading oil exporter, Venezuela imports most consumer products. Under the new system, food and medicines will be imported at an exchange rate of 2.6 bolivars to the U.S. dollar while nonessential goods will be bought at a rate of 4.3 per dollar.

Since 2005 the bolivar had been fixed at 2.15 to the dollar.

Venezuelans packed electrical goods stores on Sunday, fearing prices will double as the cost of imports rise.

Venezuelans are already struggling with electrical power and water shortages caused by drought, a high murder rate, inflation and recession. But many still support the government because of its focus on easing the economic plight of the poor.

Some analysts say the price impact of the devaluation will not be severe, pointing out that much of Venezuela's imports are already paid for with dollars bought on a semi-legal black market, where the bolivar is worth about a third of its official rate.

The currency closed at 6.15 to the dollar on Friday.

Others have predicted that Venezuela's inflation, already the highest in the Americas at 25 percent last year, will be pushed up by the devaluation.

However, the measures would give Chavez more cash to spend this year before the September elections.

He said subsidies introduced by his government, along with the stronger exchange rate for food and medicine, would protect the poor from a jump in inflation.

"This government protects and will continue to protect the weakest with investment and with special attention," he said.

The devaluation is a relief for the state oil company, PDVSA, which has struggled to pay service providers and meet social spending requirements since crude prices dropped last year.

Foreign debt-holders will also be pleased, since the devaluation improves Venezuela's finances.

Last month, BMO Capital Markets cut ratings on Colgate-Palmolive Co, Avon Products Inc and Kimberly-Clark Corp to "market perform" saying a possible currency devaluation in Venezuela could hurt the U.S. consumer goods makers' profits.

(Additional reporting by Patricia Rondon, Editing by Sandra Maler and Chris Wilson)

* UPDATE 1-Devaluation ups stakes in Venezuela election yearJan 9, 2010
* UPDATE 2-Colombia fears pain from Venezuela devaluationJan 10, 2010

Democracy Now web exclusive - Howard Zinn, Holy Wars



Howard Zinn is an American historian, social critic, and activist. He is best known as author of the best-seller A People’s History of the United States. He spoke at Boston University on November 11, on the subject of American “Holy Wars.”

Thanks to Robbie Leppzer for filming this event.

Cool pic from MAT at the Open Pie Hole Blog... A Human Bookcase


Check out the Open Pie Hole...she rules!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Morning....


 

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Little Kitty snags Big Birdie




Helmut, a rambunctious and allegedly evil killer kitten came inside with this huge bird in her mouth. Thank the universe that Pierce was there to rescue the birdie and she is now resting comfortably in a large cage. She is a pretty serene bird. Pierce did reiki on her and she seemed to fall into a blissful sleep. I, of course, always think they're dead when they sleep so I made sure she was breathing still. And she is..she is a neat bird and has survived one whole night so I think she will be ok and we can let her out Monday I guess...If she knows what is good for her, she will fly, fly far far away...






Video of her release back to the forest




Friday, January 08, 2010

The Pictures of War You Aren’t Supposed to See

by Chris Hedges

War is brutal and impersonal. It mocks the fantasy of individual heroism and the absurdity of utopian goals like democracy. In an instant, industrial warfare can kill dozens, even hundreds of people, who never see their attackers. The power of these industrial weapons is indiscriminate and staggering. They can take down apartment blocks in seconds, burying and crushing everyone inside. They can demolish villages and send tanks, planes and ships up in fiery blasts. The wounds, for those who survive, result in terrible burns, blindness, amputation and lifelong pain and trauma. No one returns the same from such warfare. And once these weapons are employed all talk of human rights is a farce.

In Peter van Agtmael's "2nd Tour Hope I don't Die" and Lori Grinker's "Afterwar: Veterans From a World in Conflict," two haunting books of war photographs, we see pictures of war which are almost always hidden from public view. These pictures are shadows, for only those who go to and suffer from war can fully confront the visceral horror of it, but they are at least an attempt to unmask war's savagery.

"Over ninety percent of this soldier's body was burned when a roadside bomb hit his vehicle, igniting the fuel tank and burning two other soldiers to death," reads the caption in Agtmael's book next to a photograph of the bloodied body of a soldier in an operating room. "His camouflage uniform dangled over the bed, ripped open by the medics who had treated him on the helicopter. Clumps of his skin had peeled away, and what was left of it was translucent. He was in and out of consciousness, his eyes stabbing open for a few seconds. As he was lifted from the stretcher to the ER bed, he screamed ‘Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, Daddy,' then ‘Put me to sleep, please put me to sleep.' There was another photographer in the ER, and he leaned his camera over the heads of the medical staff to get an overhead shot. The soldier yelled, ‘Get that fucking camera out of my face.' Those were his last words. I visited his grave one winter afternoon six months later," Agtmael writes, "and the scene of his death is never far from my thoughts."

"There were three of us inside, and the jeep caught fire," Israeli soldier Yossi Arditi, quoted in Grinker's book, says of the moment when a Molotov cocktail exploded in his vehicle. "The fuel tank was full and it was about to explode, my skin was hanging from my arms and face-but I didn't lose my head. I knew nobody could get inside to help me, that my only way out was through the fire to the doors. I wanted to take my gun, but I couldn't touch it because my hands were burning." [To see long excerpts from "Afterwar" and to read an introduction written by Chris Hedges, click here.]

Arditi spent six months in the hospital. He had surgery every two or three months, about 20 operations, over the next three years.

Filmic and most photographic images of war are shorn of the heart-pounding fear, awful stench, deafening noise and exhaustion of the battlefield. Such images turn confusion and chaos, the chief element of combat, into an artful war narrative. They turn war into porn. Soldiers and Marines, especially those who have never seen war, buy cases of beer and watch movies like "Platoon," movies meant to denounce war, and as they do so revel in the despicable power of the weapons shown. The reality of violence is different. Everything formed by violence is senseless and useless. It exists without a future. It leaves behind nothing but death, grief and destruction.

Chronicles of war, such as these two books, that eschew images and scenes of combat begin to capture war's reality. War's effects are what the state and the press, the handmaiden of the war makers, work hard to keep hidden. If we really saw war, what war does to young minds and bodies, it would be harder to embrace the myth of war. If we had to stand over the mangled corpses of the eight schoolchildren killed in Afghanistan a week ago and listen to the wails of their parents we would not be able to repeat clichés about liberating the women of Afghanistan or bringing freedom to the Afghan people. This is why war is carefully sanitized. This is why we are given war's perverse and dark thrill but are spared from seeing war's consequences. The mythic visions of war keep it heroic and entertaining. And the press is as guilty as Hollywood. During the start of the Iraq war, television reports gave us the visceral thrill of force and hid from us the effects of bullets, tank rounds, iron fragmentation bombs and artillery rounds. We tasted a bit of war's exhilaration, but were protected from seeing what war actually does.

The wounded, the crippled and the dead are, in this great charade, swiftly carted off stage. They are war's refuse. We do not see them. We do not hear them. They are doomed, like wandering spirits, to float around the edges of our consciousness, ignored, even reviled. The message they tell is too painful for us to hear. We prefer to celebrate ourselves and our nation by imbibing the myth of glory, honor, patriotism and heroism, words that in combat become empty and meaningless. And those whom fate has decreed must face war's effects often turn and flee.

Saul Alfaro, who lost his legs in the war in El Salvador, speaks in Grinker's book about the first and final visit from his girlfriend as he lay in an army hospital bed.

"She had been my girlfriend in the military and we had planned to be married," he says. "But when she saw me in the hospital-I don't know exactly what happened, but later they told me when she saw me she began to cry. Afterwards, she ran away and never came back."

The public manifestations of gratitude are reserved for veterans who dutifully read from the script handed to them by the state. The veterans trotted out for viewing are those who are compliant and palatable, those we can stand to look at without horror, those who are willing to go along with the lie that war is about patriotism and is the highest good. "Thank you for your service," we are supposed to say. They are used to perpetuate the myth. We are used to honor it.

Gary Zuspann, who lives in a special enclosed environment in his parent's home in Waco, Texas, suffering from Gulf War syndrome, speaks in Grinker's book of feeling like "a prisoner of war" even after the war had ended.

"Basically they put me on the curb and said, okay, fend for yourself," he says in the book. "I was living in a fantasy world where I thought our government cared about us and they take care of their own. I believed it was in my contract, that if you're maimed or wounded during your service in war, you should be taken care of. Now I'm angry."

I went back to Sarajevo after covering the 1990s war for The New York Times and found hundreds of cripples trapped in rooms in apartment blocks with no elevators and no wheelchairs. Most were young men, many without limbs, being cared for by their elderly parents, the glorious war heroes left to rot.

Despair and suicide grip survivors. More Vietnam veterans committed suicide after the war than were killed during it. The inhuman qualities drilled into soldiers and Marines in wartime defeat them in peacetime. This is what Homer taught us in "The Iliad," the great book on war, and "The Odyssey," the great book on the long journey to recovery by professional killers. Many never readjust. They cannot connect again with wives, children, parents or friends, retreating into personal hells of self-destructive anguish and rage.

"They program you to have no emotion-like if somebody sitting next to you gets killed you just have to carry on doing your job and shut up," Steve Annabell, a British veteran of the Falklands War, says to Grinker. "When you leave the service, when you come back from a situation like that, there's no button they can press to switch your emotions back on. So you walk around like a zombie. They don't deprogram you. If you become a problem they just sweep you under the carpet."

"To get you to join up they do all these advertisements-they show people skiing down mountains and doing great things-but they don't show you getting shot at and people with their legs blown off or burning to death," he says. "They don't show you what really happens. It's just bullshit. And they never prepare you for it. They can give you all the training in the world, but it's never the same as the real thing."

Those with whom veterans have most in common when the war is over are often those they fought.

"Nobody comes back from war the same," says Horacio Javier Benitez, who fought the British in the Falklands and is quoted in Grinker's book. "The person, Horacio, who was sent to war, doesn't exist anymore. It's hard to be enthusiastic about normal life; too much seems inconsequential. You contend with craziness and depression."

"Many who served in the Malvinas," he says, using the Argentine name of the islands, "committed suicide, many of my friends."

"I miss my family," reads a wall graffito captured in one of Agtmael's photographs. "Please God forgive the lives I took and let my family be happy if I don't go home again."

Next to the plea someone had drawn an arrow toward the words and written in thick, black marker "Fag!!!"

Look beyond the nationalist cant used to justify war. Look beyond the seduction of the weapons and the pornography of violence. Look beyond Barack Obama's ridiculous rhetoric about finishing the job or fighting terror. Focus on the evil of war. War begins by calling for the annihilation of the others but ends ultimately in self-annihilation. It corrupts souls and mutilates bodies. It destroys homes and villages and murders children on their way to school. It grinds into the dirt all that is tender and beautiful and sacred. It empowers human deformities-warlords, Shiite death squads, Sunni insurgents, the Taliban, al-Qaida and our own killers-who can speak only in the despicable language of force. War is a scourge. It is a plague. It is industrial murder. And before you support war, especially the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, look into the hollow eyes of the men, women and children who know it.
© 2010 TruthDig.com

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Do you own the government or does the government own you?

Date:
01-06-10
Host:
George Noory
Guests:
In the first half of the show, former commodity trading advisor Walter Burien revealed the massive scope of government finance and investments, all funded by U.S. taxpayers, and argued for an alternative path without taxation. There are some 184,000 separate government entities in the US, each with their own assets, and "when you look at collective government, both federal and local, they've taken over the banking industry, the brokerage industry," and corporations that trade on the stock market are 60-85% owned by collective government, he claimed. The public is unaware of this, as there's been a total blackout of information about these collective totals for the last 65 years, he added.
Taxation should be phased out, as the truth is the government's annual investment income is greater than all annual taxation collected, Burien stated. The economic crash was staged with various players walking off with "truckloads of cash" before the balloon was deflated, he explained. States like California that report they're going broke are just trying to maintain this illusion in order to keep the public at bay, he offered. Burien's documentary, The Biggest Game in Town, can be viewed on Google Video.




Wednesday, January 06, 2010

"Validation"


Validation" is a fable about the magic of free parking. Starring TJ Thyne & Vicki Davis. Writer/Director/Composer - Kurt Kuenne. Winner - Best Narrative Short, Cleveland Int'l Film Festival, Winner - Jury Award, Gen Art Chicago Film Festival, Winner - Audience Award, Hawaii Int'l Film Festival, Winner - Best Short Comedy, Breckenridge Festival of Film, Winner - Crystal Heart Award, Best Short Film & Audience Award, Heartland Film Festival, Winner - Christopher & Dana Reeve Audience Award, Williamstown Film Festival, Winner - Best Comedy, Dam Short Film Festival, Winner - Best Short Film, Sedona Int'l Film Festival.

"Bug Splat"....Allan Nairn on DN

“Obama Has Kept the Machine Set on Kill”–Journalist and Activist Allan Nairn Reviews Obama’s First Year in Office

ANJALI KAMAT: On Tuesday, President Obama made another statement on the failure of intelligence agencies to intercept the Christmas Day plot to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight. He said the US government had the necessary information to stop the twenty-three-year-old Nigerian suspect from boarding the Detroit-bound flight, but he excoriated the intelligence community for failing to connect the dots in time.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I will accept that intelligence, by its nature, is imperfect. But it is increasingly clear that intelligence was not fully analyzed or fully leveraged. That’s not acceptable, and I will not tolerate it.

ANJALI KAMAT: Obama said intelligence agencies knew that the suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, had, quote, “traveled to Yemen and joined up with extremists there.” The President also addressed concerns over repatriating the ninety-odd Yemeni men who are still detained in Guantanamo.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Given the unsettled situation, I’ve spoken to the attorney general, and we’ve agreed that we will not be transferring additional detainees back to Yemen at this time. But make no mistake. We will close Guantanamo prison, which has damaged our national security interests and become a tremendous recruiting tool for al-Qaeda. In fact, that was an explicit rationale for the formation of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. And as I’ve always said, we will do so—we will close the prison in a manner that keeps the American people safe and secure.


AMY GOODMAN: Well, it’s almost been a year since President Obama’s inauguration and his promise to close the prison at Guantanamo.

For a critical look back over the Obama administration’s foreign policy and national security decisions in the last twelve months, we’re joined here in New York by award-winning investigative journalist and activist Allan Nairn.

In 1991, we were both in East Timor and witnessed and survived the Santa Cruz massacre, in which Indonesian forces killed more than 270 Timorese. The soldiers fractured Allan’s skull.

Over the past three decades, he has exposed how the US government has backed paramilitary death squads in El Salvador, in Guatemala, in Haiti. He also uncovered US support for the Indonesian military’s assassinations and torture of civilians.

He’s joining us now for the rest of the hour.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Allan Nairn.

ALLAN NAIRN: Thanks.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, why don’t you start off with a broad overview, as we move into this first anniversary of President Obama’s inauguration, of his term in office?

ALLAN NAIRN: Well, I think Obama should be remembered as a great man because of the blow he struck against white racism, the cultural blow. And he accomplished that on Election Day. That was huge. This is one of the most destructive forces in world history, and by simply—by virtue of becoming president, Obama did it major damage.

But once he became president, by virtue of his actions, just like every US president before him, just like those who ran other great powers, Obama became a murderer and a terrorist, because the US has a machine that spans the globe, that has the capacity to kill, and Obama has kept it set on kill. He could have flipped the switch and turned it off. The President has—turned it off. The President has that power, but he chose not to do so.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean? Explain more fully.

ALLAN NAIRN: Well, the machine. The US spends about half of all—almost half of all the military spending in the entire world, equal to virtually all the other countries combined. More than half of the weapons sold in the world are sold by the United States. The US has more than 700 military bases scattered across dozens of countries. The US is the world’s leading trainer of paramilitaries. The US has a series of courses, from interrogators to generals, that have graduated military people guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity in dozens upon dozens of countries. The US has a series of covert paramilitary forces of its own that get almost no attention. For example, right now in Iran, there are covert US paramilitaries attacking Iran from within, authorized by secret executive order. This was briefly reported, but it dropped from notice. In addition to that, there are the open attacks, the open bombings and invasions. Just in the recent period, the US has done this to Iran—to, I’m sorry, to Iraq, to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Kenya. Currently in the Philippines, there are US troops in action in the south. And you could go on. This is the machine.

And then, in addition, there’s the support for a series of what the RAND Corporation itself—you know, RAND is an extension of the Pentagon—called US support for repressive non-democratic governments and for governments that commit aggression. There are about forty of them that the US backs. And I could run through the list. And the point is, Obama has not cut a single—cut off a single one of these repressive regimes. He has not cut off a single one of the terror forces. He has increased the size of the US Army, increased the size of US Special Forces. He has increased the level of overseas arms sales. In fact, the Pentagon, his Pentagon, was recently bragging about it. The same thing happened under the Clinton administration with then-Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown. He has tuned it up. But you could just run down the list of countries where civilians are being killed and tortured with US weapons, with US money, with US intelligence, with US political green lights.

ANJALI KAMAT: So, Allan, what would you say is the difference between the preceding eight years under the Bush administration and this past year, as we move forward under Obama?

ALLAN NAIRN: Well, in this respect, on matters I was just talking about, there’s no substantive difference. In fact, as far as one can tell, Obama seems to have killed more civilians during his first year than Bush did in his first year, and maybe even than Bush killed in his final year, because not only has Obama kept the machine set on kill, but he had his special project, which is Pakistan and Afghanistan. He used this to get elected. He had to prove himself. He had to go through what the New York Times once called the “presidential initiation rite,” under which each president must, in their words, demonstrate his willingness to shed blood. Obama did that by saying, “I’m going to attack more vigorously Afghanistan and Pakistan.” And he’s brought chaos.

I mean, you just saw the report from Afghanistan and Pakistan. He has squeezed the Pakistani military to attack their own tribal and border areas with extensive civilian death and retaliation from the residents of those areas through a series of bombings across the major cities of Pakistan.

Likewise in Somalia, Bush backed Ethiopia in an invasion of Somalia, basically an Ethiopian-US invasion of Somalia. Now Obama is pumping in new arms, new weapons, into the midst of the killing and chaos there. Somalis are streaming into Yemen as refugees. The already disastrous level of hunger and starvation is increasing. His body count probably exceeds that of Bush.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about what we’ve been seeing over the last few days, I mean, what happened with the jetliner, now President Obama coming out yesterday talking about other attempts that were thwarted, like even on Inauguration Day, and that was actually Somali. And what are the approaches you think that President Obama should take?

ALLAN NAIRN: Right. Well, you know, the issue is not the safety of Americans. The issue is the safety of people. All people. You have to count not just the American deaths and potential American deaths, but the deaths everywhere, since—you know, since everyone counts. And the best solution is the one that protects the maximum number of people. And if you happen to be the party that is committing the largest number of killings in the world, as the US is now, then the solution is easy: stop committing the killings.

In this case, in the present moment in history, that would have the added side benefit of most likely making Americans safer, as well, because you would take away the main provocation. Tom Brokaw, on TV this weekend, made a very interesting comment. He described what the US was engaged in as the “war against Islamic rage.” That’s actually the most telling definition I’ve seen. I mean, think about it. In Afghanistan, Karzai, the US/UN-installed president, basically the man thought of as a US puppet, the man previously lionized by the US press before he started speaking out against the US aerial killings of civilians, Karzai started to get enraged after a series of bombings of wedding parties by the US and NATO forces. Think about it. Somebody bombs your wedding, a foreign air force bombs your wedding. How are you supposed to react? Are you supposed to be delighted? Rage is the normal human response. If you stop that, you lower the rage, and you probably get fewer attacks on Americans.

You know, there’s a man named Kilcullen, who’s Australian by origin, who’s now one of the main intellects behind the US counterinsurgency policy. He advises Secretary Gates, who of course was Bush’s Defense Secretary, as well. He said that if he were a Muslim today in a Middle Eastern country, he would probably be a jihadist. Robert Pape, the leading academic specialist on suicide bombings who studied the entire database of all the suicide bombers in recent years, said it’s a consequence primarily of occupation. So, you stop committing mass murder overseas, and you immediately, immediately, just by that action, achieve the main goal, which is minimizing the overall deaths of people, and you most likely get the side benefit of also minimizing the deaths of Americans—

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Pape—

ALLAN NAIRN: —because you’re prodding fewer people.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Pape is a conservative academic?

ALLAN NAIRN: Yes. In fact, he went on TV recently saying he was a big fan of aerial bombing. I mean, he is no peacenik. But he honestly studied the data on suicide bombings, and that was his conclusion.

And by the way, the tactic of, you know, bombs in civilian places, like outside mosques, it was not originated by the current jihadists. You know, the current jihadists, of course, as is well known, grew out of the US and Saudi Arabian operation in Afghanistan to repel the Soviet invasion, and bin Laden and the others were backed by the US. But that actual tactic dates back to times like when the CIA used it in Lebanon to try to kill a cleric, and they blew up people as they were leaving the mosque. They used a car—the US used a car bomb to do that.

Even aerial bombings, even bombings of airplanes, three of the biggest incidents before 9/11 were actually incidents of US culpability. In ’76, a Cuban airliner was brought down with—I believe the death toll was—what was it? Seventy-three, I think, something on that order—by Luis Posada Carriles, a longtime CIA operative, who was later indicted for terrorism. And the US refused to extradite him. They’re harboring—they’re harboring him. Later, in—let’s see, what year was it? The Indian Airlines bombing in ’85, I believe, an Indian jetliner was blown up, almost—about 300 killed. The bombers were later found to have received training at a US camp in Alabama, US paramilitary camp that had also, with Reagan backing, had done operations against Central America. The Iranian jetliner shot down by a US ship, the Vincennes, also with roughly 300 killed, in ’88, the captain of the ship who did that, he got a medal from Bush Senior for exceptionally meritorious service.

So these tactics, you know, bombing civilian places, even blowing up jetliners specifically, are not new. And the US itself has used them.

And, you know, they talk about how the jihadists target civilians. Well, it’s certainly true. But when bin Laden attacked the World Trade Center, he was basically using—the attack on 9/11, he was basically using US targeting principles. He attacked the Pentagon, a military target, and he attacked the World Trade Center, which had a CIA—in fact, did have a CIA office in it. Now, on this end, especially here in New York, we can see that those targeting standards are absolutely insane. I mean, we could see the cooks and the firemen dying. You know, we could breathe the dust. We could see, no, even if you are going after a CIA office, you do not do this. We can see that that’s wrong on this end. It’s also wrong on the other end, when the US does it.

When the US opened—so it’s not just a matter of targeting, and it’s not just a matter of targeting civilians. The Goldstone report found that Israel targeted civilians specifically, when they invaded Gaza, and the US has often done it. For example, in Iraq, the US adopted what they called the El Salvador option, which is a reference back to the El Salvadoran death squads of the 1960s and ‘70s, which is something I investigated extensively. And these were launched under the Kennedy administration and basically sponsored and run by the US for decades. And similar operations were done in Iraq by the US, under the direction, by the way, of General McChrystal, who now runs Afghanistan. The technical term the Pentagon used for it—uses for it is “manhunting.” So they do target civilians.

But even when they’re not targeting civilians, which is probably most of the time, they end up killing massive numbers of civilians. The Pentagon has a word for that, too. They call it “bugsplat.” In the opening days of the invasion of Iraq, they ran computer programs, and they called the program the Bugsplat program, estimating how many civilians they would kill with a given bombing raid. On the opening day, the printouts presented to General Tommy Franks indicated that twenty-two of the projected bombing attacks on Iraq would produce what they defined as heavy bugsplat—that is, more than thirty civilian deaths per raid. Franks said, “Go ahead. We’re doing all twenty-two.” So that adds up to, you know, about 660 anticipated, essentially planned, what in domestic terms would be called criminally negligent homicide, at the least, probably second-degree murder. You might even be able to get it up to first, first-degree. And that, just if—if that was the actual toll, the bugsplat estimate of the toll on the first day, that right there would give you a third of the World Trade Center death toll, just on the first day of the Iraq operation. And, of course, the Iraq operation has gone on. And that’s essentially what’s happening in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

They claim—or they claim—or let’s give them the benefit of the doubt, and they say, OK, they have an al-Qaeda target, or whatever target, some armed man in some compound somewhere, and they bomb it, and they also kill the person’s wife and the kids and their extended family and the friends who were there for dinner. Imagine. Imagine if that happened here. Let’s say al-Qaeda occupied New York. They set up checkpoints on Seventh Avenue. And if a car tried to run the checkpoints, they’d machine-gun the car, as the US does in Iraq. Or they ran drones over Washington, DC, and they were taking out US officials in their backyards as they did barbecues in suburban Virginia or as they were going for coffee in Dupont Circle. How would Americans react to that? In fact, how would Americans react if some young American went out and killed some of those al-Qaeda occupiers? The question answers itself.

I mean, when you do things like this, when you make humans into bugsplat, you invite response. So, stop the killing, and you get a benefit. You’ll probably make yourself safer, as well.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to award-winning journalist and activist Allan Nairn. We’re going to go to break, then come back. Want to get your reaction to President Obama’s Nobel address, also to his condemning torture just about a year ago. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. We’ll be back in a minute.

[break]

AMY GOOMAN: Our guest for this hour is Allan Nairn, award-winning journalist and activist.

Allan, I want to get your response to President Obama’s invocation of the concept of a just war, this in his speech accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo in December.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We must begin by acknowledging a hard truth: we will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations, acting individually or in concert, will find the use of force not only necessary, but morally justified.

I make this statement mindful of what Martin Luther King, Jr. said in this same ceremony years ago: “Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones.” As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King’s life work, I am living testimony to the moral force of nonviolence. I know there is nothing weak, nothing passive, nothing naïve, in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King.

But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone. I face the world as it is and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people, for, make no mistake, evil does exist in the world. A nonviolent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al-Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms.

AMY GOOMAN: An excerpt of President Obama’s Nobel acceptance speech in Oslo just about a month ago. Allan Nairn, your response?

ALLAN NAIRN: Well, he’s right. There is evil in the world. And Obama should stop committing it. He should stop bombing, doing bombing raids that kill civilians. He should stop backing forces that kill civilians.

You know, it’s probably true that nonviolence couldn’t have stopped Hitler. There are just resorts to violence. If you’re standing there with your mother, someone comes in with a machine gun, you step in front. And if you’ve got a gun, you try to kill the machine gunner before they blow away you and your mother. Sure, there are lots of situations like that in life.

But that’s not in the situation of the US in foreign policy. As Obama was making that speech, he was saying, when we resort to violence, we will abide by the rules. This was exactly at the moment when the US was blocking the UN from doing precisely that. The Goldstone report had recommended, in just one example, that Israel be brought to the International Criminal Court for their assault on Gaza and that—as well as Hamas—and that let the chips fall where they may. Do an objective investigation and see if rules of law were violated, see if crimes against humanity were committed, as he said they were. And Obama blocked it.

The US itself, in its operations in dozens upon dozens of countries, is violating not just international law, but US law. People have forgotten about them, because they’re not enforced. Here are four US laws currently on the books. There can be no US weapons used for aggression. That’s the old Harkin amendment. There can be no US aid for foreign internal security forces of any kind. That’s Section 660 of the 1974 Foreign Assistance Act. There can be no US military aid for any regime that engages in a pattern of gross human rights violations. That’s 22 US Code 2304(a). There can be no US aid for any military unit that commits atrocities. That’s the Leahy amendment. Now, these are not radical political demands; these are existing US law. And the US systematically violates its own laws, not to mention the murder laws of local countries.

AMY GOOMAN: Where? Name the countries.

ALLAN NAIRN: Well, just—you know, we mentioned before some of the places where the US is bombing and attacking. Less known, these are some examples of the machine being set on kill, repressive—what in RAND’s words—RAND Corporation’s words, repressive regimes being backed by the US: Algeria, where they annulled an election, they stole an election, they do systematic torture; Ethiopia, where there’s mass hunger among the population, but where the US is building up the Ethiopian army and using them against Somalia; Saudi Arabia, the most religious extremist, anti-woman dictatorship in the world; Jordan, a torture center—the Jordanian intelligence outfit was, in the words of George Tenet, owned by the CIA, and both the CIA and Israel use it for torture; Rwanda, whose army and paramilitaries have been pillaging and raping and massively killing in the eastern Congo; Congo itself, Secretary of State Clinton went there and made a good denunciation of rape by the Congolese army, and as that was happening, the US was delivering weapons and training to that same Congolese army; Indonesia, where the army now de facto occupies and terrorizes Papua and has recently resumed assassinations in Aceh, the other end of the archipelago; Colombia, where army and army-backed militaries are the world’s number-one killer of labor activists; Uzbekistan, massive torture backed simultaneously by the US and Russia; Thailand, where officers who—US officers who I spoke to use their US training in what they call “target selection” to assassinate and disappear Muslim rebels in the south; Nepal, where US Green Berets for years created old Guatemala-style civil patrols that carried out lynchings against pro-Maoist forces and civilians in the countryside; India, where the police do daily torture and where their own officers talk about using terror against villages in the Naxalite rebel areas; Egypt, one of the world’s leading torture states and Israel’s accomplice in the blockade and hungering of Gaza; Honduras, where the army recently staged a coup when the oligarchy’s president, Zelaya, turned against his fellow oligarchs; Israel, which committed aggression against Gaza using US white phosphorus and cluster bombs as the US was—the US was shipping in new materiel as this, you know, attack was underway; and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, where, as the British Guardian just reported, the security forces are doing systematic torture of Hamas people and other dissidents under CIA sponsorship. And that’s only a partial list. We’d need another twenty-minute segment to complete the list.

But in not one of these cases has Obama decided to comply with US law, comply with international law, and cut off the killer forces. In fact, in a number of them he has stepped it up. In Indonesia, for example, he’s made a push to renew aid to the Kopassus, the Red Berets, the most deadly of the killer forces, hated by the people, long trained by the US Green Berets.

AMY GOOMAN: You made a provocative statement at the beginning of this broadcast, comparing an Obama presidency with a possible Palin presidency, and whether you would see a difference when it comes to foreign policy.

ALLAN NAIRN: Right. Well, in terms of killing civilians overseas, no difference. Every single action I’ve laid out could easily be adopted by Palin. In fact, Obama is carrying them out using Bush’s Secretary of Defense, Gates, using Bush’s old counterterrorism man, Brennan, using Admiral Blair, Admiral Dennis Blair, who personally—this is something that we discussed on an earlier show and which I personally reported on—who green-lighted church massacres, massacres of Catholic churches by General Wiranto in occupied East Timor in 1999 to punish the Timorese for voting for independence. So Palin could do all those things.

AMY GOOMAN: Dennis Blair’s position at the time?

ALLAN NAIRN: He was head of the US Pacific forces, and he’s now Obama’s Director of National Intelligence. And he’s now getting some political heat over the Detroit underwear bomber incident, which I actually think is unfair. You know, you can reinforce the—I mean, Blair should have been indicted for crimes against humanity and put on trial. Blair should be in prison now for what he did with General Wiranto. But this is unfair criticism of him on the bomber. I mean, you can’t prevent someone from, you know, trying to sneak in. If you want real security, you stop it on the other end. You stop the provocations and turn down the heat.

ANJALI KAMAT: And Allan Nairn, one of the things that Obama promised—one of the ways he promised he would be different from the Republicans, different from previous presidents, and different from the enemy he’s fighting, is that he would adhere to the rule of law. There would be standards. He’s banning torture. He’s going to close Guantanamo. These were promises he made last year. Can you talk about where—you mentioned the Goldstone report and US efforts to block the Goldstone report at the UN. But can you give us an assessment of where Obama stands in terms of international law? You told us a little bit about domestic law.

ALLAN NAIRN: Well, the violations—and this is not—you know, we’re talking about Obama, but this is the whole US system. I mean, Bush did the same. Clinton did the same. Bush’s father, Reagan, Carter. It’s institutional policy. He’s violating not just law, but especially international law, which defines aggression as the supreme crime. And when you go in and bomb countries because you say there’s a—you know, there’s a militant there you want to kill, that is easily defined as aggression.

When you back forces that are systematically killing civilians, as many are in that list of countries I ran through, you are a party to crimes against humanity and maybe even, arguably, in some cases, genocide. That was certainly the case in Central America in the ’80s, where—actually, now a Spanish court has indicted and is trying various Guatemalan generals for those crimes, charging them with an array of crimes against humanity. And they did it with US backing, with US weapons.

Obama issued a torture ban, a supposed torture ban, which was actually a sham.

AMY GOOMAN: Let me play a clip of President Obama. It was just about a year ago, this executive order banning torture. On January 22nd of last year, this is what Obama promised to do.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This morning, I signed three executive orders. First, I can say, without exception or equivocation, that the United States will not torture. Second, we will close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and determine how to deal with those who have been held there. And third, we will immediately undertake a comprehensive review to determine how to hold and try terrorism suspects to best protect our nation and the rule of law.

AMY GOOMAN: That was President Obama just about a year ago. Allan Nairn?

ALLAN NAIRN: Well, his torture ban is empty. Ninety-eight, 99 percent of the US-backed torture is not done by Americans; it’s done by foreigners acting under US sponsorship. And that continues. His ban does not affect that. And even when it comes to Americans doing hands-on torture, his ban only says they are prohibited from doing so in situations of armed conflict, like in the middle of a war. That means that even an American could today go into Venezuela, go into Cuba, going into Egypt, go into Jordan, go into most of the countries of the world and commit hands-on torture, and it would be perfectly permissible under the so-called Obama torture ban. So it’s fake.

AMY GOOMAN: And what do you mean that others can do it?

ALLAN NAIRN: An American can do it if it’s in a country that’s not in a state of armed conflict. But the vast majority of the torture is carried out by proxies. That’s the way they did it in El Salvador. That’s the way they did it in Guatemala. There’s an intelligence officer, an Army man, a policeman of the local country, and they are trained by the US, they are paid by the US, but they’re not an American citizen. And they’re the one who wields the razor blade. They’re the one who puts the hood on.

AMY GOOMAN: Allan, you spend your time traveling the world. Talk about wealth and poverty.

ALLAN NAIRN: Well, the biggest issue is there are more than a billion people hungry in the world. It recently increased by a hundred million or so because of the Wall Street-induced financial collapse, but it was at about 900 million during the days of top prosperity, as defined by our current economic system. That’s completely intolerable. Until everybody eats, no one should live in luxury.

You know how much it would cost to feed those billion people? Less, much less, than was spent on just the bailout of Citibank. No one in the US, no one in any party leadership, talks about shifting those resources to do that. In fact, the President could do that with his own executive authority. For a deeper, longer-term solution, you’d have to change trade rules, you would have to change the IMF and the World Bank, so that farmers in currently hungry areas would have the same opportunities and protections that US yeoman farmers once had back in the age of Jefferson, when the US protected its farmers. But a president or even a rich person like a Gates or a Carlos Slim or a Buffett could instantly feed half the world. The World Food Programme, every few months, comes out with a desperate bulletin, saying we’ve got to cut back the calorie rations because we’re not getting enough for this or that program.

You know, in US politics, people face a bitter choice. You can’t vote for the—with a two-party system, you can’t vote against murder, you can’t vote for ending starvation. So they say, “My god, I guess I’ll go for the Democrats, because if I don’t, they’re going to move my Social Security to Wall Street, they’ll end gun control, they’ll end women’s choice.” So you end up backing these direct mass murders and the allowing of babies to have their brains deformed due to lack of food. That’s not tolerable.

I agree with those lunatic tea party people: we need a revolution. We need—now, they’re talking about a revolution to put a white person in charge. I’m talking about a revolution for change. Nothing radical, really. Just enforce the laws, those US laws, the murder laws, and shift a few dollars from people who merely want it, people like us who—you know, we live in luxury; we have all the food we could possibly eat in many lifetimes—and shifting it to people who need it to keep from being stunted, who need it to keep breathing, people—we can do that. You know, Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan—

AMY GOOMAN: We have fifteen seconds.

ALLAN NAIRN: —horrible regimes. Today, they’re peaceful and productive. They were crushed by violence. That’s how they transformed their societies. I hope we don’t have to be crushed in that way. We can transform ourselves, but people have to stand up and do it. Surround Congress. Occupy the military bases. The US can become peaceful also, but only if we decide to do so. And we do have that choice. We have freedoms here.

AMY GOOMAN: Allan Nairn, I want to thank you for being with us. Allan Nairn is an award-winning journalist and activist.

Jon MacNair, artist


Jon MacNair  "The Pool" 

Check out his ink work, it's awesome!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Libertarian, Green, Socialist and Constitution parties secure access to May primary ballot in Ohio

by John Michael Spinelli

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Republican and Democratic Parties in Ohio will no longer have a lock on access to the ballot now that state election officials, making good on a court decision in the fall of 2006 that found the laws for political party formation and ballot access were unconstitutional, have enabled candidates running under the party name of Libertarian, Green, Socialist and Constitutional to join in the fun that is our representative system of government.

The good news for these outsider parties came in a state directive to all 88 county Boards of Election (BOE) that given that the General Assembly has not yet enacted a new ballot access statute following the September 6, 2006 court decision, and given the high likelihood of success on the merits of any new lawsuit to obtain ballot access, they are "hereby instructed to continue to recognize these political parties and to grant candidates of these political parties ballot access in the 2010 election cycle."

This decision now gives candidates of these four minor parties to qualify for the ballot under their party labels, an accomplishment the two major political parties -- Republicans and Democrats -- do not necessarily consider good for them or their candidates.

Democrats will point to the race for president in 2000, when then-Green Party nominee Ralph Nader won enough votes in Florida to deny Al Gore the White House. Republicans could point to a local race, like the 15th District Congressional race in Central Ohio in 2008, as an example of how their candidate could lose by a slim margin due to a newcomer to the ballot who has little chance of winning the race outright but whose presence can take away enough votes such that the opponent emerges victorious.

Robert M. Owens, chairman of the Constitution Party of Ohio, told one newspaper reporter that Democrats and Republicans "have had a monopoly on the political process for a long time, and this action ends that monopoly."

Dennis Spisak, running as the Green Party candidate for Ohio governor this year, said, for the first time, Ohio voters will be able to vote for Green Party candidates in the upcoming May 4, 2010 primary election. What this means, he said, is that "you can now walk into your polling place on Primary Election Day, ask for a Green Party Primary Ballot, and vote for Green candidates for state and local office as well as Green candidates for the state and county party central committees. Voting in the Green Primary will make you a member of the Green Party."

Continuing, Spisak said the "requirements to get your own name on the ballot as a candidate for public and party office have been drastically altered making it much easier to participate as a candidate for a newly formed minor party."

For Ohio BOEs, some of which are perennially cash strapped, greater expenses will follow as they will be required to hold a primary election in an even-numbered year for a major or minor political party in a precinct if any candidate seeking the nomination of that political party is certified to the ballot for a political subdivision in which that precinct is located by the secretary of state or by the board of elections, which necessarily means they may have to print as many as six different party primary ballots in May, the month of Ohio's next primary election.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Radio Interview with the Entity VERONICA: Part II: Via Deep Trance Channel April Crawford



Sunday, January 03, 2010

Killing Activists in Honduras

Written by Joseph Shansky   


Wednesday, 23 December 2009


Image
Walter Trochez
“As a revolutionary I will be today, tomorrow and forever on the front lines of my people, all the while knowing that I may lose my life." - Walter Trochez, 25, murdered in Tegucigalpa on 12/13/09

The bodies of slain activists are piling up in Honduras. While it's being kept quiet in most Honduran and international media, the rage is building among a dedicated network of friends spreading the word quickly with the tragic announcement of each compañero/a.

Now that the world heard from mainstream news outlets such as the New York Times of a “clean and fair” election on Nov. 29 (orchestrated by the US-supported junta currently in power), the violence has increased even faster than feared.

The specific targets of these killings have been those perceived as the biggest threats to the coup establishment. The bravest, and thus the most vulnerable: Members of the Popular Resistance against the coup. Their friends and family. People who provide the Resistance with food and shelter. Teachers, students, and ordinary citizens who simply recognize the fallacy of an un-elected regime taking over their country. All associated with the Resistance have faced constant and growing repercussions for their courage in protesting the coup. With the international community given the green light by the US that democratic order has returned via elections, it’s open season for violent forces in Honduras working to tear apart the political unity of the Resistance Front against the coup.

The killings are happening almost faster than they can be recorded.

On Sunday, Dec. 7, a group of six people were gunned down
while walking down the street in the Villanueva neighborhood of Tegucigalpa. According to sources, a white van with no license plates stopped in front of the group. Four masked men jumped out of the van and forced the group to get on the ground, where they were shot. The five victims who were killed were:

· Marcos Vinicio Matute Acosta, 39

· Kennet Josué Ramírez Rosa, 23

· Gabriel Antonio Parrales Zelaya, 34

· Roger Andrés Reyes Aguilar, 22

· Isaac Enrique Soto Coello, 24

One woman, Wendy Molina, 32, was shot several times and played dead when one of the assassins pulled her hair, checking to see if anyone in the group was still alive. She was taken to the hospital and survived.

The Honduran independent newspaper El Libertador reports that the group members were all organizers against the coup. According to a resident in the area, "The boys had organized committees so that the neighbors could get involved in the Resistance Front."

This massacre was part of a string of Resistance-related murders during the past few weeks alone. On December 3, Walter Trochez, 25 a well-known activist in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community was snatched off the street and thrown into a van, again by four masked men, in downtown Tegucigalpa. In the report that he later filed to local and national authorities, Walter said
he was interrogated for hours for information on Resistance members and activities, and was beaten in the face with a pistol for refusing to speak. He was told that he would be killed regardless, and he eventually escaped by throwing open the van door, falling into the street, and running away.

It wasn't the first time Walter had been subject to these kinds of threats. He was a much-loved organizer against the coup who had been documenting human rights violations, particularly in the gay community. Walter had just published two articles. One following the elections was titled "The Triumph of Abstentionism
", on the success of the effort by the Resistance to encourage citizens to refuse to vote. The other was called “Escalation of Hate and Homophobic Crimes against the LGBTT Community Rooted in the Civil-Religious-Military Coup d'état in Honduras”.


In both, he concludes: "As a revolutionary I will be today, tomorrow and forever on the front lines of my people, all the while knowing that I may lose my life".

On Dec. 13, one week later, Walter was shot in the chest by a drive-by gunman while walking home. He died at the hospital.

On Dec. 5, Santos Garcia Corrales, an active member of the National Resistance Front, was detained
by security forces in New Colony Capital, south of Tegucigalpa. He was then tortured for information on a local merchant who was providing food and supplies to the Resistance. After reporting the incident to local authorities, Santos’ body was found five days later on Dec 10, decapitated.

There have been others as well, notably a rise in murders in the LGBT community since the coup. In particular, several transvestites have been recently killed in similarly gruesome ways. Human rights advocates report
that “up to 18 gay and transgender men have been killed nationwide — as many as the five prior years — in the nearly six months since a political crisis rocked the nation.”

The latest victim, Carlos Turcios, was kidnapped outside his home in Choloma Cortes, at three in the afternoon of Wednesday Dec. 16. He was found dead
the next day, with his hands and head cut off. Carlos had been vice-president of the Choloma chapter of the Resistance Front, a town located a few hours outside of the capital. Andres Pavón, president of CODEH (Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Honduras), commented: "We believe this horrendous crime joins others where the bodies show signs of brutal torture…This aggression is directed to the construction of collective fear.”

It is a sinister effort to shake up a community that is now in fact stronger than ever. As Walter Trochez noted (and CNN confirmed
), most of the country refused to go to the polls that day. Many of the world’s governments, including most of Latin America, refused to recognize the results.

In this climate of fierce repression, citizens can no longer depend on authorities for the most basic protective rights, and those fearful for their lives cannot report to the police. Complaints they file, such as those of Santos and Walter, could soon become signatures to their own death letters. Many believe with good reason that the killings are state-sponsored. At the very least, they are the result of new conditions which allow for the widespread deterioration of state protection.

Pavón and other human rights leaders in Honduras have been extremely vocal in denouncing these atrocities, but the story has remained under the radar for most Hondurans and almost all international media. At the time when Hondurans most need exposure to these abuses, they’ve been left to fend for themselves.

How did this happen? Why are people being randomly executed in dark corners of the country for simply standing in opposition to a military coup?

Most of the bloodshed is on the hands of coup president Roberto Micheletti and other leaders of the regime. However, President Barack Obama and the US State Department played a major role in allowing conditions to get to this point. The US government took no concrete action against the thousands of documented violations since the coup took place June 28. It’s no shock that the violence has worsened dramatically with the eyes of the world now averted.

In a recent interview, Francisco Rios of the National Front Against the Coup reiterated Frente communiqués which stated that the Resistance, though now lying low, is preparing a massive organization effort for next year and beyond. Rios reported that they have stopped meeting publicly as a safety measure for now, but will soon begin dividing into chapters around the country with plans to emerge as a new, strengthened political force. Walter, Santos, Carlos, and all of the Resistance fighters who gave their lives have inspired others in the movement to continue the struggle for justice in Honduras. 



Joseph Shansky was reporting from Honduras during the recent military coup, and can be reached at fallow3@gmail.com.


Saturday, January 02, 2010

Tell Me How This Ends? Obama's Post-Modern War of Attrition, By ANDREW J. BACEVICH

On the march to Baghdad, back when America's war on terror was young, a rising star in the United States military lobbed this enigmatic bon mot to an accommodating reporter: "Tell me how this ends." Thus did then-Maj. Gen. David Petraeus in 2003 neatly frame the issue that still today haunts the U.S.-led effort to defeat violent anti-Western jihadism.

To know how something ends implies knowing where it's going. Yet eight years after it began, the war on terror is headed back to where it started. The prequel is the sequel, Afghanistan replacing Iraq as the once and now once again central front.

So are we making progress? Even as President Obama escalates the war in Afghanistan, that question hangs in the air, ignored by all. Rather than explaining how the struggle will end, the President merely affirms that it must continue, his eye fixed on pacifying a country of which his own secretary of state recently remarked "We have no long-term stake there."

How pacifying Afghanistan will bring us closer to the figurative Berlin or Tokyo that defines our ultimate objective is unclear. True, the 9/11 plot was hatched in Afghanistan, and we want to prevent any recurrence of that event. It's also true that Dallas was the site of our last presidential assassination. Yet no one thinks that posting Secret Service agents in the Texas School Book Depository holds the key to keeping our current President safe.

Then there is the Af-Pak argument - that U.S. military action in Afghanistan is necessary to ensuring the stability of nuclear-armed Pakistan. Selling Pakistanis on the logic of this argument poses a challenge, however, given that the eight-year Western military presence in Afghanistan corresponds to an eight-year period during which Pakistan has edged steadily closer to internal collapse.

In reality, the chief rationale for pouring more troops into Afghanistan derives from a determination to restore the credibility of American arms, badly tarnished in Iraq. Thanks to Petraeus' rediscovery of counterinsurgency doctrine, road-tested in Surge I, U.S. forces ostensibly won a belated but significant triumph. Surge II could show that Iraq was no fluke.

Military analysts who a decade ago were touting the wonders of precision-guided munitions now cite counterinsurgency as the new American way of war. Killing the enemy has become passé. Advanced thinking now assigns top priority to "securing the people," insulating them from violence and winning them over with good governance. Twenty-first century American military officers speak the language of 20th century social reformers, sounding less like George Patton and more like Jane Addams.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, has declared his intention to remedy "the weakness of [Afghan political] institutions, the unpunished abuse of power by corrupt officials and powerbrokers, a widespread sense of political disenfranchisement and a longstanding lack of economic opportunity."

Undertaken in Louisiana or Illinois, this would qualify as an ambitious agenda. In Afghanistan, it qualifies as a tall order indeed.

But assume the best: If McChrystal replicates in Afghanistan the success that Petraeus achieved in Iraq - ignore, please, the government ministries imploding in Baghdad - where does that leave us?

To sustain public support, a protracted war needs a persuasive narrative. Americans after Dec. 7, 1941, didn't know when their war would end. But they took comfort in knowing where and how it was going to end: with enemy armies destroyed and enemy capitals occupied.

Americans today haven't a clue when, where or how their war will end. The Long War, as the Pentagon aptly calls it, has no coherent narrative. When it comes to defining victory, U.S. political and military leaders are flying blind.

Historically, the default strategy for wars that lack a plausible victory narrative is attrition. When you don't know how to win, you try to outlast your opponent, hoping he'll run out of troops, money and will before you do. Think World War I, but also Vietnam.

The revival of counterinsurgency doctrine, celebrated as evidence of enlightened military practice, commits America to a postmodern version of attrition. Rather than wearing the enemy down, we'll build contested countries up, while expending hundreds of billions of dollars (borrowed from abroad) and hundreds of soldiers' lives (sent from home).

How does this end? The verdict is already written: The Long War ends not in victory but in exhaustion and insolvency, when the United States runs out of troops and out of money.

Andrew J. Bacevich is professor of history and international relations at Boston University. He the author of The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism.

This column originally ran in the New York Dail News.

Friday, January 01, 2010

New Year...New Decade...



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