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Sun

28

Nov

2010

The Waters Investigation and the Bombing of Iran Cancelled, Connect the Dots
by Katherine Smith, PhD
 
“The House Ethics Committee, that on August 2 formally brought a case against Congresswoman Maxine Waters, one of America’s most enduring liberal and fierce Anti War politicians, has as of November 19, abruptly cancelled her public trial. The committee announced that it has delayed indefinitely Waters trial because the panel had discovered new evidence in the case. Waters accuses ethics panel of having weak case after calling off her trial by Susan Crabtree

The following will help the reader understand why the Water’s trial and the Bombing of Iran has been indefinitely delayed: [Appendix B]

August 9, 2010 - The Maxine Waters Investigation: What is Iran Doing in this Picture?

[Excerpt] An investigation of any kind (especially one that is over events that took place in 2008) of the most outspoken voice of reason in the U.S. House of Representatives on the issue of U.S. aggression in the Middle East should put all Americans on Red alert. And if you want more proof of a concerted effort to paint Iran, a country with a non-existent nuclear weapons capability and an air force that belongs in museums read on. [End of Excerpt]

What is Iran Doing in this Picture? is promoted to the Main Page at Rob Kall’s OpEdNews and was the 5th most popular by page views on the site. September 18, 2010, forty days after the initial release, the article was still the 2nd Most Read article at The Peoples Voice with the majority of the traffic coming from Washington DC. [1]

August 16 - The Power of Community

August 26 - Want to find real community in the United States
 (Both articles also published at OpEdNews, see Appendix A)
 

Sun

28

Nov

2010

Why Poverty Spreads Across America
by Sherwood Ross
 
Pockets of poverty, like the sores of some malignant disease, are spreading across America, as its states and cities go broke and bankrupt.
 
“Camden, New Jersey, stands as a warning of what huge pockets of America could turn into,” The Nation magazine reports in its Nov. 22nd issue. In fact, it has already happened, it is happening all over, and there is no signal on the horizon that poverty and blight will not continue to spread. It is not that Americans are lazy and shiftless; rather, they are reeling from betrayal—for they have been betrayed both by their employers, who have shown not an ounce of loyalty to their work forces, and they have been betrayed by their Federal government, which has lied the nation into costly criminal wars.

“Camden is the poster child of postindustrial decay,” writes Chris Hedges, the former foreign correspondent for The New York Times. “It stands as a warning of what huge pockets of the United States could turn into as we cement into place a permanent underclass of the unemployed, slash state and federal services in a desperate bid to cut massive deficits, watch cities and states go bankrupt and struggle to adjust to a stark neofeudalism in which the working and middle classes are decimated.” In an article titled “City of Ruins,” Hedges reports that 70 percent of Camden’s high school students drop out, that the city’s unemployment rate is probably 30 to 40 percent, and that its dangerous streets “are filled with the unemployed.”

What is thriving in Camden is prostitution, the drug trade and crime. “There are perhaps a hundred open-air drug markets, most run by gangs like the Bloods, the Latin Kings, Los Nietos and MS-13,” Hedges writes. “Knots of young men in black leather jackets and baggy sweatshirts sell weed and crack to clients, many of whom drive in from the suburbs. The drug trade is one of the city’s few thriving businesses…Camden is awash in guns…” (and) in 2009 had the highest crime rate in the nation with 2,333 violent crimes per 100,000 population vs. a national average of just 455, Wikipedia reported.

Camden is no isolated example. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2006 ranked it fourth highest among cities with under 250,00 residents as 35.6 percent of its population lived in poverty. It followed Brownsville, Tex., 40.6%; and College Station, Tex., 37.3%. Other poverty-struck cities were Edinburg, Tex., 35.4%; Bloomington, Ind., 34.7%; Flint, Mich., 34.1%; Kalamazoo, Mich., 33.4; Florence-Graham, Ca. (in Los Angeles County), 33.0%; Gary, Ind., 32.8%; and Muncie, Ind., 32.6%.

The poverty rates of major cities show similar patterns of despair. The ten having the worst poverty rates are Detroit, 32.5%; Buffalo, 29.9%; Cincinnati, 27.8%; Cleveland, 27.0%; Miami, 26.9%; St. Louis, 26.8%; El Paso, 26.4%; Milwaukee, 26.2%; Philadelphia, 25.1%; and Newark, 24.2%.

High poverty rates, of course, stem largely from persistent, structural unemployment. As the Washington Post reported last January 15th, “Blacks, Hispanics and men have suffered the most mainly because they have been disproportionately employed in sectors hardest hit in the recession — manufacturing and construction. For instance, the unemployment rate for blacks is expected to reach 27 percent in Michigan, which has been shedding auto industry jobs. Other states with jobless rates above 20 percent for blacks are Alabama, Illinois, Ohio and South Carolina.”

Where the New Deal’s Work Projects Administration(WPA) alone in the Great Depression created 8-million new jobs, nothing of that scope exists today. The same Post article notes, “The Congressional Black Caucus wants the government to create training programs and jobs in low-income communities with the highest unemployment rates.” “It’s like triage in an emergency room — you take care of people who need the most help first and you help the others later,” said Kai Filion, research analyst at the Economic Policy Institute. Economic losses, the analyst said, could result in a 50 percent poverty rate for black children, up from 34 percent in 2008. While statistics defining the plight of African-Americans make for grim reading, it should be remembered that the majority of America’s unemployed are Caucasian and that the real unemployment figure according to some authorities is 20 percent, not the 10 percent reported by Washington.

It is hardly accidental that cities with high unemployment rates also have high crime rates. In terms of violent crime, as FBI statistics for calendar year 2009 show, Detroit, noted above to have the highest poverty rate, also has the most violent crime per 1,000 citizens, with 19.67 cases. Other major cities are (2) Memphis, 18.06; (3)Oakland, 16.79; (4) Baltimore, 15.13; (5) Buffalo, 14.59; (6) Cleveland, 13.95; (7)Kansas City, 13.00; (8) Stockton, 12.67; (9) Washington, D.C., 12.65; and (10), Philadelphia, 12.38. As Sir Thomas More wrote in his classic Utopia, published in 1516: “You allow these people to be brought up in the worst possible way, and systematically corrupted from their earliest years. Finally, when they grow up and commit the crimes that they were obviously destined to commit, ever since they were children, you start punishing them. In other words, you create thieves, and then punish them for stealing,” Could he have better explained America’s 2.3-million prison population today?

In Camden, there isn’t a single inner city supermarket that can put ghetto kids to work at an honest job after school and weekends but reporter Hedges says there are plenty of drug markets. Often, the only job a teenager can land is one on the staff of the local drug lord. The other employment choice for ghettoized youth is the military. While Pentagon recruiters strongly deny they target low-income neighborhoods, a careful reading of the home towns of those reported killed in the Middle East may well cast doubt upon this contention. Camden once was a significant manufacturing hub but those days are long gone. In many communities, major employers abandoned their workers with no compunction (and often without deserved pensions), automating employees out of their jobs.

Other employers, as in Detroit, simply relocated their plants overseas entirely. The idea of a prosperous work force based on a vibrant local economy to underpin “the American Dream” got lost in the race to maximize corporate profits. In Trenton, N.J., the sign on a bridge across the Delaware River, “Trenton Makes, The World Takes,” is the boast of a bygone era. Reduced employment means reduced purchasing power and reduced tax take for local governments. This year, according to The Christian Science Monitor, California faces a $20 billion budget gap. It has already resorted to “mandatory furloughs for all state workers, teacher layoffs, (and reduced) aid to the university system 20 percent, (and made) massive cuts to education, corrections, and social services.” This grim picture is mirrored everywhere. The rising unemployment in New York City’s workforce, for example, has worsened its budget crisis, Financial Times reported Nov. 22nd.

At the same time, U.S. corporations continue their race to the bottom for cheap labor. Cable News Network’s “Exporting America” broadcast listed hundreds of “U.S. companies either sending American jobs overseas or choosing to employ cheap overseas labor instead of American workers.” A very small fraction of the companies on CNN’s list are reprinted in the following three paragraphs to convey some idea of the enormity of the indifference of employers for their workers:

Aetna, AIG, Alamo Rent a Car, Alcoa, Allstate, Anheuser-Bush, AT&T, Bank of America, Bechtel, BellSouth, Best Buy, Borden Chemical, Boeing, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Caterpillar, ChevronTexaco, Citigrouup, Continental airlines, Delta Air Lines, Dow Chemical, DuPont, Eastman Kodak, Eli Lilly, ExxonMobil, Fedders Corp., Fluor, Ford Motor, General Electric, General Motors, and Goldman Sachs.

Also, Halliburton, Hershey, Hewlett-Packard, Honeywell, IBM, Illinois Tool Works, ITT Industries, John Deere, Johns Manville, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg, Kerr-McGhee Chemicals, Kimberly-Clark, Kraft Foods, Lear Corp., Levi Strauss, Lockheed Martin, Mattel, Maytag, Merrill Lynch, MetLife, Microsoft, Monsanto, Motorola, Nabisco, Northrop Grumman, Northwest Airlines, Office Depot, Orbitz, Oracle, Otis Elevator, Owens Corning, PepsiCo, Pfizer, Polaroid, Pratt & Whitney, Procter & Gamble, and Prudential Insurance.

Also, Quaker Oats, Radio Shack, Rayovac, Rohm & Haas, Safeway, Sara Lee, Seco Manufacturing, Square D, State Farm Insurance, Target, Tenneco Automotive, Texas Instruments, Time Warner, Tropical Sportswear, TRW Automotive, Tupperware, Tyco Electronics, Union Pacific, UNISYS, United Plastics Group, United Technologies, Verizon, Wachovia Bank, Weyerhaeuser, Xerox, and Zenith.

Why hasn’t the Obama administration taken swift and forceful action to relieve the situation, perhaps even to launch the Domestic Marshall Plan for the cities the Urban League’s Whitney Young called for as far back as 1962? Perhaps it’s because like President Bush before him Mr. Obama is more focused on waging war. Here, again, Sir Thomas More speaks to us: “To start with, most kings are more interested in the science of war…than in useful peacetime techniques. They’re far more anxious, by hook or by crook, to acquire new kingdoms than to govern their existing ones properly.”

This, of course, applies perfectly to America’s kings, for not only have our presidents assumed the powers and prerogatives of kings but they have, in fact, acted no better than medieval kings, waging wars with armies raised from the poorest strata of society and spending lavishly to conquer while ignoring their own citizenry’s cries for bread and opportunity. Put another way, the Pentagon is spending more money for war (52 cents of every tax dollar) than all 50 states combined spend for all purposes to improve the lot of 300 million Americans. In their book, “The Three Trillion Dollar War”(W.W. Norton), Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes write, “A $3 trillion figure for the total cost strikes us as judicious, and probably errs on the low side. Needless to say, this number represents the cost only to the United States. It does not reflect the enormous cost to the rest of the world, or to Iraq.” (Stiglitz is former chief economist at the World Bank and a Nobel Prize laureate and Bilmes is a public policy authority at Harvard.) Given the wars’ colossal and criminal waste of human life and treasure, it is little wonder states and cities the nation over are starved for income, record numbers of homes are being foreclosed, and soup kitchens are reporting a rising influx of patrons, many of them bewildered former members of the shrinking middle class.

This situation has pertained in America now for several generations. Before Iraq and Afghanistan there was the Viet Nam aggression. Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern attempted to make the connection between war abroad and hard times at home when he said, “For every bomb that falls in Viet Nam a house somewhere in America collapses from neglect.” McGovern was defeated by incumbent Richard Nixon in a landslide. It is apparent from the recent elections that Americans today, just as in the national election of 1972, do not grasp the reality of the terminal disease that is war. They do not recognize how it is driving them relentlessly into poverty while sacrificing their children like some primitive culture on the altar of the military-industrial complex to ensure a profitable harvest from their blood.

(Sherwood Ross is director of the Anti-War News Service of Coral Gables, Fla. His prior experience includes work as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News, as a “workplace” columnist for a wire service, and as News Director for a major civil rights organization. To comment or contribute to his News Service reach him at sherwoodross10@gmail.com)

 

Sun

28

Nov

2010

The New York Times: What Passes for Journalism in the Newspaper of Record
by Stephen Lendman

Overall, America's major media fails the test. It's biased, shameless, and irresponsible with "everything to sell and nothing to tell" as a noted US media critic once said. It delivers a daily diet of "managed news" (propaganda), infotainment, and "junk food news," a worthless mix, treating people like mushrooms - well-watered, in the dark, and uninformed about what matters most. No wonder greater numbers opt out, consuming less broadcast "news" and print media, the kind no one should waste time or money on.

No paper has more clout than The New York Times. Media critic Norman Solomon once called its front page "the most valuable square inches of media real estate in the USA" - in fact, anywhere because its reports circulate globally.

In his April 1998 article titled, "All the News Fit to Print (Part I): Structure and Background of the New York Times," Edward Herman called The Times "an establishment newspaper," serving wealth and power interests, a record dating from 1896 when the Ochs-Sulzberger family took control. Its agenda "persist(s) to this day" as two earlier articles explained, accessed through the following links:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/ 2007/06/record-of-newspaper- of-record.html

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/ 2009/11/paid-lying-what- passes-for-major-media.html

For many decades The Times has had the lead role distorting, censoring, and suppressing truth, a shameful record:

  • -- supporting the powerful; 
  • -- backing corporate interests; 
  • -- endorsing imperial wars; 
  • -- ducking major issues like government and corporate lawlessness and corruption, sham elections, democracy for the select few alone, an unprecedented wealth gap, and eroding civil liberties and social benefits; and
  • -- supporting Pentagon and CIA efforts to topple elected governments, assassinate independent leaders, prop up friendly dictators, secretly fund and train paramilitary death squads, practice sophisticated forms of torture, and menace democratic freedoms at home and abroad.

Journalism, New York Times Style

Predictably, The Times endorsed Obamacare, a March 21 editorial praising it, titled "Health Care Reform, at Last," saying:

"The process was wrenching....Barack Obama put his presidency on the line for an accomplishment of historic proportions." The editorial called the law "a triumph for countless Americans who have been victimized or neglected by their dysfunctional health care system."
 

Sun

21

Nov

2010

Stone Age Brain, Space Age Culture
by Mickey Z

I was recently asked to do a short reading at Art House Astoria (where I will be leading a writing workshop or two very soon). This is what I chose to read:

Huddled around flickering candles and eating food before it could spoil, longtime neighbors introduced themselves, discovering similarities and answering the question of the day: "Where were you when the lights went out?" They were asking this, of course, during the big blackout of August 14, 2003, but I'm getting a little ahead of myself. This story begins in the stars…

Living in New York City, I often have the opportunity to see stars. They're everywhere: at cafés, boutiques, movie premieres, health clubs, & other such earthbound venues. Check the gossip columns if you don't believe me.

When the blackout of '03 dimmed the mighty skyline, however, I could suddenly see stars simply by looking up…zillions of them blinking at me from beyond the unlit skyscrapers.

Traffic lights were out of commission, but to the southeast, Mars provided the only red light we really needed.

By odd coincidence, our crimson neighbor was closer to Earth than ever before and the power outage gave us Easterners an excellent view of Mars's southern hemisphere from a mere 34.6 million miles away—34,646,418.5 miles to be exact, but who measures in the middle of a blackout?

Still, even with the stars twinkling above and little green Martians close enough to reach out and shake my hand, it was when I returned my gaze back down to the streets that I truly couldn't believe my eyes. Strolling through Astoria as the sun set that clammy evening, one could witness a sight even more uncommon than any celestial spectacle.

My neighbors had abandoned their post-modern pace and begun listening to their primitive instincts. All across the darkened city, Big Apple inhabitants stopped hustling. They sat still and talked to each other.

No computers, no televisions, no telephones…just face-to-face communication (even if it was too dark at times to actually see faces).

This unforeseen solidarity was somehow accomplished without the assistance of Twitter or Facebook. Money didn't change hands, no cell phone radiation was emitted, no air was conditioned.

Under a sky full of stars and a visiting red space-mate, it was miraculously possible to re-connect to our more prehistoric roots and encounter the sort of life we may have evolved to live back in the "caveman" days.
 

Sun

21

Nov

2010

The Militant West

by Mahboob A. Khawaja, Ph.D.

Immanuel Kant, the 18th century German philosopher had envisioned “Perpetual Peace”, the doctrine that gave war riddled Europeans much needed hope and optimism for peace making and conflict management. C.E.M. Joad (Guide to Modern Wickedness), enlists divergent facets of evil thinking and minds that governed the Europeans to kill each other during and preceding the two World Wars. After prolonged history of barbarity, Europeans seem to be thinking rationally and soul searching for fighting against themselves and are at relative peace within the corridors of the EU. Whereas, some of the American political strategists are making headways for “Perpetual War and Perpetual Peace” to manifest the ambitious imperialism in another major global conflict to wipe out the whole of the humanity. The Western nations under NATO waging the bogus “War on Terrorism” use the mass media as a weapon to misinform and deceive the public of a possible threat to their life and security. The corporate run news media shield the leadership animosity to perpetuate wars for economic and political goals. NATO re-invented a new role to be an active belligerent institution in Afghanistan after its failed history to engage the former USSR on any real front of the major ideological conflicts. Bush and now President Obama claim they were invited to Afghanistan. Lies know no bound in contemporary political wickedness. There exists a wide gulf between the aspirations of the masses in the Western nations and thinking of the type of leaders they have in the ruling elite. People want peace and do not support the war mongering of the few against other human beings in the Muslim world.

Wars and aggressions kill people and do not produce peace and harmony but resentment and degeneration. History illustrates when a nation or the leaders challenge the limits of the Laws of God and approach near the end of their lifespan, insanity takes-over common sense and they tend to ignore warnings and reject all voices of reason. Most of the conscientiously responsible Western scholars and political intellectuals are getting increasingly concerned, not to identify their interests with the minority ruling elite of the United States and Britain and the prospects of the ‘war crimes’ against Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Blair and their role in large scale massacres of the civilians and using uranium powered missile for destruction of human habitats in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Professor John Esposito (Georgetown University, and author of Unholy War and What Everyone Needs to Know about Islam), makes a candid observation: “in many parts of the Muslim world the war against global terrorism has come to be viewed as a war against Islam and Muslims. The image of America has become that of a neo-imperial power that has sought to redraw the map of the Middle East and the Muslim world, influenced by an unholy alliance of neoconservatives and the militant Christian right.” The wars have gone terribly wrong and the end is fast approaching, sheer madness in thinking and strategic decision making to create new Mi Lia of Vietnam particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan. Near their defeat, the Nazis resorted to mass killings across Europe, and so did the Soviet Union prior to defeat and surrender to the Mujahideen in Afghanistan. Daily massacres of the innocent civilians throughout Iraq and Afghanistan and the stage drama could rest on any given conclusive note to the pages of history. Katrina was the first installment in a series of warnings to come for those leaders who could listen and learn from the history. Not so, to the neo-conservative dominated US administration that failed to achieve its objectives in conquering Iraq and Afghanistan, just to ensure smooth oil supplies and global military and economic supremacy.
 

Sun

21

Nov

2010

The right to demonstrate is the sign of a healthy democracy - And yet it sends many kids to years in detention
by Roland Michel Tremblay
 
The right to demonstrate is the sign of a healthy democracy - And yet it sends many kids to years in detention

As a Court Clerk in a criminal court, most cases just leave me totally indifferent. You could easily think I have lost my heart about such things a few years ago, incapable to feel anything now either for the defendants or their victims. True, I admit it. When you see it every day, the same sort of cases one after the other, you quickly become insensitive to it all. But not this time.

Even when they all cry their soul out, whether they are faking it or not. Beware of the crocodile tears, and then it seems, it is always just that, crocodile tears. If I can't feel the need to cry most of the time, then it must be fake all the time, I'm usually so emotional.

Might not be the case, but I am an overworked and underpaid civil servant. Don't ask me to feel anything when I just feel like shooting everyone around me for a start, starting with my managers, and find myself in the dock. The frontier between cleverness, passion, enthusiasm and committing a crime, even sometimes without knowing, is so damn thin, we're all criminals now.

And yet I must speak about a few cases lately that really got me to break down. It does not happen often, but it happened in two particular cases lately, and then a whole bunch of them. These cases all made headline news. Then I wasn't so proud of being a Court Clerk, even though I can easily hide behind the fact that I never convict anyone, I never sentence anyone, I'm just a tool of the justice system, the administrator of it all. I am nothing, and yet sometimes it seems I participate in some crimes, miscarriages of justice of some sort.

I remain professional at all times, never would I influence a Judge's decision, but yeah, sometimes I truly feel like telling them exactly what sort of sentence I have in mind. Many ushers and clerks can't control themselves, they tell the Judges right out what the sentences should be. Unfortunately they are the brainless ones who can't control themselves, I always disagree with the sentences they have in mind. For them it is always very simple, all defendants, guilty or not, deserve prison for life.

The more stupid people are, the more ruthless they are, the more dangerous they are. They would not even learn if they were to find themselves in the dock one day for similar offences, and did not get away with it with a lighter sentence. Such people cannot see the parallels, if such things were to happen to them or their children. If the death penalty still existed in some countries, many defendants would be hanged, without us ever being certain if they were guilty or not. Because let's face it, a Jury often convicts defendants on opinion alone, no matter how hard we could stress to them that real and tangible evidence is necessary. Unfortunately, for example, in cases of rapes, it is always the word of one against the other, and most often the accused goes to prison for over a decade without proof. It all depends on how convincing the witnesses are and bad character applications.

And sometimes the victims just try too hard. They've been coached too much and they easily get caught lying in all their schemes to reach a successful conviction. It is all the fault of the prosecution, they certainly do try hard, truth at this point does not matter much to them. And then, no matter if you are truly a victim or not, you can rest assure, being caught lying in Court will make you lose your case every single time.

Much better to be completely unprepared and lost, but not too lost. If you state in Court that you don't know what a penis is, well, you've just lost your case. I think everyone knows by now what a penis is. Unless you can prove somehow that you regressed so much into a deep personal bubble and forgot the world after such a traumatic event, that you don't even remember your own name. You better have a few doctors and psychiatric reports to back you up then. I'm being the devil's advocate here, and the more I go on the more I realise how important a role this is.

The first case that truly affected me was an air hostess on some flight to somewhere in the world. The man was gay, in the gallery there were his long time partner, his sister, his father. All of them cried for the whole duration of the trial. The defendant was accused to have somehow grabbed the dick of a passenger in first class whilst buckling a security belt.

Me and the ushers used to laugh at the victim, that if one was to be so fat, ugly and old, and still able to find anyone interested enough in grabbing his dick, he should be flattered, not go to Court. It soon became apparent that the victim was an unstable monster with deep psychological problems, easy then to reach the conclusion that he imagined it all in such perverse ways that now he enjoys the attention of going to Court, because perhaps he had to wait five minutes to get his peanuts and that was unacceptable to him.

And it was a sensational case, it went all around the country in every newspaper, the defendant lost not only his reputation, his job and everything else, but at least I'm sure now he'll never lose the support of his family and his partner. Because they know the truth, that nothing happened. And the Jury saw through it all, not guilty in the end.
 

Sun

21

Nov

2010

NATO/Russian “Strategic Concept” Hinges On Russian Designs In Georgia
by Peter Chamberlin

What does Russia really want from Georgia?  As in all issues between Russia and former satellite nations, the Kremlin wants to create or strengthen its ability to assert control over the independent governments, but there is much more to it than this.

Georgia is a state of contention, an area where the battle between East and West is waged.  It is here and in the other zones of conflict where Russian leaders must take concrete steps to put their “new thinking” into action.  We cannot see which path Putin and Medvedev will choose to take, mainly because they don’t appear to know themselves at this point which path they will choose for the immediate future.  But, from all the sweet noises emanating from Lisbon so far, it seems that the Russians will stay firmly on the path to a global partnership with the US.  The problem in all of this is how can Russia hold onto past gains without upsetting potential profits in the future.  Putin’s dilemma is how to switch tracks from post-Soviet government, to the new globalist partnership with the USA without provoking an unmanageable social revolution in the interim period.  How can he transition smoothly from the traditional stance of making trouble for American plans to one of working with the US planners.  The problems will arise when the switchover takes place—one day the office will work in the old thinking, the next day the workers’ and the office managers’ minds must switch to the new track.

Putin’s dilemma becomes most obvious in the S. Caucasus Region, where Soviet map-maker agitation of ethnic divisions in the past comes into play against ever-changing pipeline plans.  The US/Russian battle between South Stream and Nabucco pipeline plans has created uncertainty and a fuzzy notion of borders, so that the people, whose lives were being planned for them, have defensively turned to nationalism, with a stake in a future worth fighting for.

Defensive nationalism must be turned into an asset, by demonstrating where the new future must lie.  Past attempts to overcome the inherent difficulties in pacifying the region can be seen in the creation of new enclaves with self-defined borders, such as S. Ossetia, Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh.  These guerrilla staging areas must be eliminated without ignoring the interests of the key players in them.
 

Fri

19

Nov

2010

Cell Phone Trap
by Joel S. Hirschhorn

It is now inconceivable that our world could function without the 5 billion cell phones used globally.  The new book by Devra Davis “Disconnect” deserves your attention.  Indeed, if you use a cell phone a lot it should be mandatory reading.

It also seems inconceivable that the trillion dollar cell phone industry and governments worldwide could have pushed this technology without ever having solid research results proving the safety of cell phones.  If true that would be deadly frightening.  But that is exactly the reality.

Is this a bizarre slip up or an intentional conspiracy between corporate and government interests?  The more you learn the more you fear.  Nightmarishly, cell phone technology has become too big to fail, no matter its deadly risks.  Government won’t protect you, so you have to protect yourself.

Let me note that I rarely use my cell phone.  Very few people have my number and I rarely turn it on, except when I need to make a call.  As a former professor of engineering I have always seen technology as offering risks, not just heavily commercialized benefits.  The risks are often dismissed, poorly studied or just plain ignored. 

And by now everyone should be concerned that neither government regulations nor corporate responsibility protect us very well from harmful foods, prescription drugs and manufactured products.

Facing the truth is often painful, but if you care about protecting your health and the health of people you love, then this is a book you definitely want to read and get others to read.  Make no mistake, what you learn will upset you, but beyond getting angry at companies and the government for not adequately protecting against a man made public health disaster, you will be motivated to change your behavior.  The subtitle sums up the theme: The Truth About Cell Phone Radiation, What the Industry Has Done to Hide It, and How to Protect Your Family.

Here are some of the eye-popping facts and insights I picked up from reading of this book.
 

Fri

19

Nov

2010

Normon Solomon: After the Election Disaster: Back to Basics
by Normon Solomon
 
Now what?

We need to build a grassroots progressive movement -- wide, deep and strong enough to fight the right and challenge the corporate center of the Democratic Party.

The stakes are too high and crises too extreme to accept “moderate” accommodation to unending war, regressive taxation, massive unemployment, routine foreclosures and environmental destruction.

A common formula to avoid is what Martin Luther King Jr. called “the paralysis of analysis.” Profuse theory + scant practice = immobilization.

It’s not enough to denounce what’s wrong or to share visionary blueprints. Day in and out, we’ve got to organize for effective and drastic social change, in all walks of life and with a vast array of activism.

Yes, electioneering is just one kind of vital political activity. But government power is extremely important. By now, we should have learned too much to succumb to the despairing claim that elections aren’t worth the bother.

Such a claim is false. As bad as the election results are, they would have been much worse across the country if progressives hadn’t worked hard against the right-wing juggernaut.

For instance, consider the many hundreds of on-the-ground volunteers who rejected the paralysis of analysis by walking precincts and making phone calls to help re-elect progressive Congressman Raul Grijalva. He won a tight race in Arizona’s southwestern district and will return to Congress next year -- much to the disappointment of the corporate flacks and xenophobes who tried to defeat him because of his strong stance against the state’s new racial-profiling immigration law.

The mass-media echo chamber now insists that Republicans have triumphed because President Obama was guilty of overreach. But since its first days, the administration has undermined itself -- and the country -- with tragic under-reach.
 

Fri

19

Nov

2010

William Blum - The Anti-Empire Report - Jon Stewart and the left
by William Blum

The left in America is desperate; desperate for someone who can inspire them, if not lead them to a better world; or at least make them laugh. TV star Jon Stewart is sometimes funny, especially when he doesn't try too hard to be funny, which is not often enough. But as a political leader, or simply political educator for the left, forget it. He's not even what I would call a genuine, committed leftist. What does he have to teach the left? He himself would certainly not want you to entertain the thought that Jon Stewart is in any way a man of the left.

He billed his October 30 rally on the National Mall in Washington, DC, as the Million Moderate March. Would a person with a real desire for important progressive social and political change, i.e, a "leftist", so ostentatiously brand himself a "moderate"? Even if by "moderate" he refers mainly to tone of voice or choice of words why is that so important? If a politician strongly supports things which you are passionate about, why should it bother you if the politician is vehement in his arguments, even angry? And if the politician is strongly against what you're passionate about does it make you feel any better about the guy if he never raises his voice or sharply criticizes those on the other side? What kind of cause is that to commit yourself to?

Stewart in fact appears to dislike the left, perhaps strongly. In the leadup to the rally he criticized the left for various things, including calling George W. Bush a "war criminal". Wow! How immoderate of us. Do I have to list here the 500 war crimes committed by George W. Bush? If I did so, would that make me one of what Stewart calls the "crazies"? In his talk at the rally, Stewart spoke of our "real fears" — "of terrorists, racists, Stalinists, and theocrats". Stalinists? Where did that come from, Glenn Beck? What decade is Stewart living in? What about capitalists or the corporations? Is there no reason to fear them? Is it Stalinists who are responsible for the collapse of our jobs and homes, our economy? Writer Chris Hedges asserts: "Being nice and moderate will not help. These are corporate forces that are intent on reconfiguring the United States into a system of neofeudalism. These corporate forces will not be halted by funny signs, comics dressed up like Captain America or nice words."

Stewart also grouped together "Marxists actively subverting our constitution, racists and homophobes". Welcome to the Jon Stewart Tea Party. In his long interview last week of President Obama on his TV show, Stewart did not mention any of America's wars. That would have been impolite and divisive; maybe even not nice.

He billed his rally as being "for people who are politically dissatisfied but who are not ideological". (Democracy Now, November 1, 2010) Really, Jon? You have no ideology? To those who like to tell themselves and others that they don't have any particular ideology I say this: If you have thoughts about why the world is the way it is, why society is the way it is, why people are the way they are, what a better way would look like, and if your thoughts are fairly well organized, then that's your ideology, even if it's not wholly conscious as such. Better to organize those thoughts as best you can, become very conscious of them, and then consciously avoid getting involved with individuals or political movements who have an incompatible ideology. It's like a very bad marriage.
 

Fri

19

Nov

2010

Exclusive: Psychological Inoculation For A Century Of Challenges - Carolyn Baker With Nicole Foss
by Carolyn Baker Ph.D.
 
Nicole Foss, also known as Stoneleigh, manager of the Automatic Earth blogspot, generously gave me an hour of her time this week during another of her U.S. tours in which she is lecturing on the global financial crisis and answering questions from countless individuals who are preparing for its most dire ramifications. Her online presentation "A Century of Challenges" is a must-watch, complete with Powerpoint slides which de-mystify the world of finance that often leaves our heads spinning and our eyes glazed. I sat down with Nicole here in Boulder a few hours before her presentation in Littleton and asked her some key questions about global economic meltdown and its implications for all of us.

Foss originally studied biology and environmental science and acquired two law degrees. She wanted to understand globalization and its effects on peripheral societies and used her law degrees not to practice law, but to grasp how power relationships work. She was intrigued by how the law codifies and legitimizes existing hierarchies and then facilitates the conveyance of wealth from the periphery to the center. Naturally, she reasoned, "If I want to really understand how the world works, I have to understand money." No, Foss did not earn a degree in finance, but rather, studied it on her own for about 15 years. In addition, she delved deeply into energy studies and connected the dots between the two disciplines.

Foss was born in the UK but grew up in Canada and then spent more time in the UK as an adult, later returning to Ontario. There she ran the Agri-Energy Producers Association of Ontario which focused on farm-based biogas. People began asking her to come and do talks on a variety of topics, and as she continued studying finance, she started pulling all the information together, ultimately creating her current "Century of Challenges" presentations and with her writing partner, Ilargi, the Automatic Earth blogspot which is nearly three years old.
 

Sun

07

Nov

2010

Lendman : David Broder - Symbol of Major Media Depravity
by Stephen Lendman

Currently writing a twice-weekly Washington Post column, Broder is called America's "dean" of political journalists, having covered every presidential campaign since Kennedy-Nixon. At age 81 (ironically born September 11, 1929), his bio lists an array of awards as well as accolades like:

  • "Washington's most highly regarded columnist;
  • Best Reporter;
  • Hardest Working;
  • the high priest of political journalism;
  • the most respected and influential political journalist in the country; and
  • Least Ideological," among others.
Phew, for a man distinguished more for supporting power and privilege than delivering real journalism, the kind found nowhere in the dominant media, especially in establishment broadsheets like The New York Times and Washington Post. Both papers and their star reporters are plagued by conflicts of interest, Broder more than most. Atop the media food chain, maybe all, and it shows.
 

Sun

07

Nov

2010

Chris Floyd: Dissatisfied Mind - Flickers of Hope in a Deadly Political Cycle
by Chris Floyd

I found myself unexpectedly heartened by American election returns, at least in one respect. For they have shown, once again, that the American people feel an abiding, angry – if deeply inchoate – dissatisfaction with the nation’s unjust, corrupt and dysfunctional political system. They know that something is profoundly wrong with the system, and so they keep voting one faction out and putting the other faction in, hoping to see some kind of change.

History gives this proof: in almost every national election for the past two decades, we have seen a change in control of either one or both houses of Congress or the White House. This has happened in 1992, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2006, 2008, and now again in 2010. The pattern is very clear. And it is not because Americans “prefer divided government,” as the dim chewers of Beltway cud like to tell us; it’s because they can’t get anyone in the system to address their concerns.

Yet with every turnover in factional control, we see a rush of earnest, serious analysis telling us how the results represent a vast sea change in America’s politics, culture, society, soul, etc. But somehow, two years later, these momentously meaningful tidal waves ripple into nothing on the empty shore. And again, that’s because they don’t actually signify anything beyond the by-now perennial unease and dissatisfaction.

What is less heartening, of course, is the fact that the American electorate never quite grasps the obvious, glaring, brutal fact that neither of these factions is ever going to change the system one iota if they can help it; they are the system, they are its servants, its enablers, its enactors. Then again, we are dealing with, to borrow Gore Vidal’s deathless phrase, the United States of Amnesia, where history doesn’t exist (except in the form of feverishly distorted self-righteous myths about America’s eternal super-duper specialness), and every election is a tabula rasa . The only flickering historical awareness that seems to exist in the American electorate is a vague sense that the gang they voted in two years ago hasn’t changed anything; better try the other gang again … forgetting this is the same gang they threw out the time four years ago, for the same reason.

So the cycle goes on and on, and the rot and dysfunction grows deeper, and ever more intractable. The people’s concerns are not only not addressed; they are not even articulated by anyone in the lucrative, sinister game of King of the Hill played by the two factions, both of which are pledged, body and soul, to elite rule, corporate rapine and militarist empire. And certainly, neither the corporate media nor the educational system will do anything to help inculcate a deeper sense of history (“History is bunk,” said that quintessential American, Henry Ford; you can’t make no money from it, so what’s the point?), or provide any wider, deeper context for articulating – and confronting – the causes of the electorate’s dissatisfaction. Instead, these institutions keep replicating and refreshing those same myths of specialness (in either “conservative” or “progressive” form), adding layer after layer of thought-obliterating noise to the Great American Echo Chamber that encloses, and imprisons, the entire society.
 

Sun

07

Nov

2010

God on the Table. Let's Talk. Carolyn Baker Ph.D.
by Carolyn Baker Ph.D. 

Mankind is essentially expecting (or demanding) that technology overturn the laws of physics, chemistry and especially thermodynamics/energy. By definition, anything that can overturn natural laws is God. Under this construct, technology is, in fact, a religion.

Read Mike Ruppert's Review Of Sacred Demise: Walking The Spiritual Path Of Industrial Civilization's Collapse

God On The Table: Attempting A Useful Discussion of Mankind's Spiritual Future

by Mike Ruppert

Arguably, the cause of the collapse of human industrial civilization has been a fundamental disconnect in consciousness that has led humankind to tell itself that it is exempt from the laws of physics and nature - that infinite growth is possible on a finite planet. That certainly defines the issue in terms of our survival because nothing less would permit continued expansion of human population and resource consumption.

Mankind is essentially expecting (or demanding) that technology overturn the laws of physics, chemistry and especially thermodynamics/energy. By definition, anything that can overturn natural laws is God. Under this construct, technology is, in fact, a religion. I think its, perhaps unwilling, "messiah" was René Descartes - the guy who said that empirical knowledge was the supreme knowledge (another disconnect) and therefore, by implication and application, the God of Knowing. This was a perfect mate for an infinite growth monetary paradigm and we are just awakening to the fact that its actual imperative is to kill us and all life on the planet.

Today we are awash in technology... and we are also dying. We are, in fact, killing ourselves with it. We make better weapons. We make better devices that require the extraction and consumption of more raw materials and then require us to throw away the energy and resources in old ones. We poison ourselves and our environment with chemicals and then we turn to chemistry to create drugs (using a lot of oil and energy) to imperfectly cure the diseases we ourselves created.

Having recognized that technology is essentially a religion we can also - without great emotional charge - say that technology can be judged as a religion to be either a success or failure; either outcome being measured by whether it adds to the health, longevity and survival of our species or hinders it.

I think the same tests are beginning to be applied to all religions. Soon they will be applied with a fury.
 

Sun

07

Nov

2010

Nasuti on Afghanistan - FBI's Phony Terror Plots— A Dangerous Distraction From The Real Thing - US Undercover Agents Incite Domestic Terror Bombings So They Can Easily Solve Them
by Matthew Nasuti

Mr. Matthew J. Nasuti was a Deputy City Attorney for Los Angeles and a U.S. Air Force Captain with Air Force Logistics Command. He helped oversee the construction of Comiso Air Station in Sicily. He served as a legal advisor on contract fraud to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations and he worked as a contracts manager and later consultant to Bechtel Corp., the world’s largest construction company. Mr. Nasuti is recognized by the U.S. State Department as an expert in reconstruction. It hired him last year as a Senior City Management Advisor to one of its Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Iraq.

Security agents in the United States are currently posing as members of al-Qaeda and are actively recruiting foreigners to carry out terror bombings. The goal is to orchestrate a terror attack and then stop it before it can be carried out, arresting those who have been lured into the plot.

The ethical concern is that there is a distinction between an undercover agent infiltrating a criminal group already intent on domestic terrorism (so they can be stopped), and an undercover agent inciting a distraught person toward domestic terrorism, just so that person can be publicly thwarted. As will be explained, the current tactics of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in smashing imaginary terror plots, appears more geared toward generating self-congratulatory headlines which aid domestic politics. As such, they may be crossing the lines of propriety.

The latest episode occurred last week. The FBI announced that it had arrested a Pakistani national named Farooque Ahmed on charges that he planned to bomb four Washington, D.C. subway stations. That would seem to be a serious offense, but a close examination of the facts suggests otherwise. Mr. Ahmed apparently had no prior record of violence. He had allegedly spoken about possibly traveling to Afghanistan to fight NATO forces. This loose talk (which is not illegal under U.S. law) reached the FBI which assigned a team of undercover agents to the case. These agents, pretending to be members of an al-Qaeda cell, met with Mr. Ahmed and apparently convinced him that it would be better if he attacked targets in the United States. As a result of this urging, Mr. Ahmed allegedly took some video photos of four subway stations and then was arrested on charges of planning to bomb those stations. If convicted he could face up to fifty (50) years in jail.

Last year, Hosam Maher Husein Smadi was approached by undercover FBI agents in Dallas who were posing as members of an al-Qaeda cell. They eventually gave Mr. Smadi a vehicle with an inert “bomb” inside. As he took “possession” of the vehicle, he was arrested and absurdly charged with attempting to use a “Weapon of Mass Destruction.”
In Pakistan, radical mullahs in madrassah schools are often accused of using their sinister powers of persuasion to convince the weak-willed to commit terror attacks. The FBI’s tactics appear dangerously similar to those of the radical mullahs.

On September 24, 2009, U.S. Attorney for Dallas, James T. Jacks, commented on Mr. Smadi arrest:

“It is the job of the FBI to locate and identify individuals intent upon carrying out any attack upon this country. ”

The issue that Mr. Jacks seems to overlook is that thinking about a crime is not illegal. The FBI is not empowered to be thought-police. The issue is whether these are hardened terrorists (caught early) or whether they are hapless individuals (who are not a threat) but who can be easily lured into a plot and then coaxed into committing at least nonviolent preparatory acts.



 
 

Sun

07

Nov

2010

Marjorie Cohn: Let's Rally to Restore Peace
by Marjorie Cohn
Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and past president of the National Lawyers Guild. Her latest book is "Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent" (with Kathleen Gilberd). Her anthology, "The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse," will be published in December by NYU Press.

In their Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert effectively demonstrated how the media hypes fear. They brought out Kareem Abdul Jabbar to show that not all Muslims are terrorists. A couple of musical numbers dealt with the wars we are fighting. But neither Stewart nor Colbert mentioned Iraq or Afghanistan and how they are allowed to continue by the hyping of fear.

Like his predecessor, President Obama also hypes fear - by connecting his war in Afghanistan to keeping us safe, even though CIA director Leon Panetta recently admitted that only 50 to 100 al Qaeda fighters are there. Hoping to put the unpopular Iraq war behind him, Obama declared combat operations over, although 50,000 U.S. troops and some 100,000 mercenaries remain.

Tragically, both wars have largely disappeared from the national discourse. On October 22, Wikileaks released nearly 400,000 previously classified U.S. military documents about the Iraq war. They contain startling evidence of more than 1,300 incidents of torture, rape, abuse and murder by Iraqi security forces while the U.S. government looked the other way. During this time the Bush administration issued a "fragmentary order" called "Frago 242" not to investigate detainee abuse unless coalition troops were directly involved. U.S. authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of torture, rape, abuse and murder by Iraqi soldiers and police. Manfred Nowak, the United Nation's Special Rapporteur on Torture, called on Obama to order a complete investigation of U.S. forces' involvement in human rights abuses.

Many reports of abuse are supported by medical evidence. Prisoners were shackled, blindfolded, and hung by their wrists and ankles. Some were whipped with cables, chains, wire and pistols. Some were burned with acid and cigarettes. Electric shocks were applied to genitals, fingernails were ripped off, and fingers cut off. Some were sodomized with hoses and bottles. Six died from their torture.
 
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