Friday, November 9, 2007

The Economic Consequences of Mr. Bush

The next president will have to deal with yet another crippling legacy of George W. Bush: the economy. A Nobel laureate, Joseph E. Stiglitz, sees a generation-long struggle to recoup.

by Joseph E. Stiglitz December 2007
" ... Remember the Surplus?

The world was a very different place, economically speaking, when George W. Bush took office, in January 2001. During the Roaring 90s, many had believed that the Internet would transform everything. Productivity gains, which had averaged about 1.5 percent a year from the early 1970s through the early 90s, now approached 3 percent. During Bill Clinton’s second term, gains in manufacturing productivity sometimes even surpassed 6 percent. The Federal Reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan, spoke of a New Economy marked by continued productivity gains as the Internet buried the old ways of doing business. Others went so far as to predict an end to the business cycle. Greenspan worried aloud about how he’d ever be able to manage monetary policy once the nation’s debt was fully paid off.

This tremendous confidence took the Dow Jones index higher and higher. The rich did well, but so did the not-so-rich and even the downright poor. The Clinton years were not an economic Nirvana; as chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers during part of this time, I’m all too aware of mistakes and lost opportunities. The global-trade agreements we pushed through were often unfair to developing countries. We should have invested more in infrastructure, tightened regulation of the securities markets, and taken additional steps to promote energy conservation. We fell short because of politics and lack of money—and also, frankly, because special interests sometimes shaped the agenda more than they should have. But these boom years were the first time since Jimmy Carter that the deficit was under control. And they were the first time since the 1970s that incomes at the bottom grew faster than those at the top—a benchmark worth celebrating.

By the time George W. Bush was sworn in, parts of this bright picture had begun to dim. The tech boom was over. The nasdaq fell 15 percent in the single month of April 2000, and no one knew for sure what effect the collapse of the Internet bubble would have on the real economy. It was a moment ripe for Keynesian economics, a time to prime the pump by spending more money on education, technology, and infrastructure—all of which America desperately needed, and still does, but which the Clinton administration had postponed in its relentless drive to eliminate the deficit. Bill Clinton had left President Bush in an ideal position to pursue such policies. Remember the presidential debates in 2000 between Al Gore and George Bush, and how the two men argued over how to spend America’s anticipated $2.2 trillion budget surplus? The country could well have afforded to ramp up domestic investment in key areas. In fact, doing so would have staved off recession in the short run while spurring growth in the long run.

But the Bush administration had its own ideas. The first major economic initiative pursued by the president was a massive tax cut for the rich, enacted in June of 2001. Those with incomes over a million got a tax cut of $18,000—more than 30 times larger than the cut received by the average American. The inequities were compounded by a second tax cut, in 2003, this one skewed even more heavily toward the rich. Together these tax cuts, when fully implemented and if made permanent, mean that in 2012 the average reduction for an American in the bottom 20 percent will be a scant $45, while those with incomes of more than $1 million will see their tax bills reduced by an average of $162,000.

The administration crows that the economy grew—by some 16 percent—during its first six years, but the growth helped mainly people who had no need of any help, and failed to help those who need plenty. A rising tide lifted all yachts. Inequality is now widening in America, and at a rate not seen in three-quarters of a century. A young male in his 30s today has an income, adjusted for inflation, that is 12 percent less than what his father was making 30 years ago. Some 5.3 million more Americans are living in poverty now than were living in poverty when Bush became president. America’s class structure may not have arrived there yet, but it’s heading in the direction of Brazil’s and Mexico’s.

The Bankruptcy Boom

In breathtaking disregard for the most basic rules of fiscal propriety, the administration continued to cut taxes even as it undertook expensive new spending programs and embarked on a financially ruinous “war of choice” in Iraq. A budget surplus of 2.4 percent of gross domestic product (G.D.P.), which greeted Bush as he took office, turned into a deficit of 3.6 percent in the space of four years. The United States had not experienced a turnaround of this magnitude since the global crisis of World War II. ... "

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"the crime of the century"

The People vs. the Profiteers
" ... Americans working in Iraq for Halliburton spin-off KBR have been outraged by the massive fraud they saw there. Dozens are suing the giant military contractor, on the taxpayers' behalf. Whose side is the Justice Department on?

[ ... ]
 
He can be forgiven a little frivolity. In his functional home-office in Orlando, and at the Beltway headquarters of his law firm, Grayson & Kubli, Grayson spends most of his days and many of his evenings on a lonely legal campaign to redress colossal frauds against American taxpayers by private contractors operating in Iraq. He calls it "the crime of the century."

His obvious adversaries are the contracting corporations themselves—especially Halliburton, the giant oil-services conglomerate where Vice President Dick Cheney spent the latter half of the 1990s as C.E.O., and its former subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root, now known simply as KBR. But he says his efforts to take on those organizations have earned him another enemy: the United States Department of Justice. ... "

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'Experts say climate change threatens national security'

" ... WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Climate change could end globalization by 2040 as nations look inward to conserve scarce resources and conflicts flare when refugees flee rising seas and drought, national security experts warned on Monday.

Scarcity could dictate the terms of international relations, according to Leon Fuerth of George Washington University, one of the report's authors.

Global cooperation based on a resource-rich world could give way to a regime where vital commodities are scarce, Fuerth said at a forum to release "The Age of Consequences."

"Some of the consequences could essentially involve the end of globalization as we have known it ... as different parts of the Earth contract upon themselves in order to try to conserve what they need to survive," said Fuerth, who was national security adviser to former Vice President Al Gore.

Rich countries could "go through a 30-year process of kicking people away from the lifeboat" as the world's poorest face the worst environmental consequences, which he said would be "extremely debilitating in moral terms." ... "

~ full article ~

 

Psychologists Against Torture

" ... It is with distress, and indeed shame, that we psychologists note that the American Psychological Association [APA] alone among the national health professional associations has failed to take an unequivocal stand prohibiting participation of its members in potentially abusive interrogations. As was evident in its testimony to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the APA explicitly allows members to participate in the infliction of harm, as long as that harm does not exceed a certain threshold – causing “significant pain or distress” or of being “lasting”. This policy, sadly, echoes the word-parsing of the Bush Administration’s “torture memos” and other official policies and documents justifying the administration’s harsh interrogation strategies. Word-parsing may have a political rationale, but it is antithetical to professional ethics in that it indicates an intent to deceive or obscure. When this is the intent with regard to an issue as significant as torture, it brings into question the profession's, and the nation's, genuine commitment to human rights.

Like psychologists in any institutional setting, military or CIA psychologists, asked to participate in interrogations, need clear ethical guidance. These psychologists, in the heat of high-profile operations, cannot be expected to successfully parse words as to whether the pain or distress is sufficient to meet the APA’s standard for being “significant.” Nor can these psychologists be expected to predict whether a particular technique, used perhaps in combination with other techniques, will cause “lasting harm.” Thus, the APA policy leaves military and intelligence psychologists at risk of committing unethical and perhaps illegal actions and fails to protect members who are military and intelligence psychologists.

Ambiguities in the roles of psychologists also threaten the abilities of military and intelligence-agency psychologists to perform their primary health-promoting activities. To the extent that uncertainty exists around the roles of psychologists and whether or not psychologists’ primary responsibility is to promote health, the trust upon which all psychological and medical treatment depends will be severely damaged. As a result, potential patients may become reluctant to seek needed psychological care. At a time when many thousands of our soldiers are suffering severe psychological trauma, often requiring intensive psychological treatment, this loss of trust can hardly be risked.

We are also deeply concerned that the 2007 Resolution by APA Council makes it ethical practice for psychologists to participate in the violation of international human rights standards. In particular, the resolution allows psychologists to practice and support interrogations in sites that operate outside the protections offered by the Geneva Conventions and other international human rights instruments such as the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment [CAT]. As the illegal, indefinite detention of people at these sites itself constitutes a violation of international law and human rights standards, psychologists' operational activities at these sites only legitimates these human rights violations.

Recommendations

We therefore ask Congress and this committee to take the following steps to clarify the status of psychologists in the military and intelligence agencies:

1. Conduct a thorough investigation of the role of psychologists, and of psychological knowledge and expertise, in the abusive interrogations carried out by this Administration. This investigation should clarify for the public the roles of SERE psychologists and SERE-based techniques in these interrogations. It should clarify the processes whereby SERE and other psychological knowledge and techniques were implemented at the CIA’s “black sites” and in military detention facilities at Guantanamo, and in Iraq and Afghanistan. This investigation should clarify the degree to which psychologists helped turn these abusive techniques into standard operating procedures at these facilities. It should also clarify the extent to which psychologists and psychological knowledge and expertise are currently being utilized in support of the CIA’s “enhanced interrogations” program. Further, clarification is needed as to whether psychologists have ever participated in the “medical supervision” of interrogations at Guantanamo or of the “enhanced interrogations” that Director McConnell described.

2. Clarify that the infliction of harm of any degree is never an appropriate role for psychologists, their trainees and supervisees, or any other health professionals in national security contexts. Our military and intelligence colleagues need the warrant of Congressional mandate to identify and refrain from unethical participation in abusive or coercive interrogation practices.

3. Ban the use of enhanced interrogation techniques going beyond those authorized by the Army Field Manual, which itself needs revision, at any U.S. detention facility, whether run by the military, CIA, or any other government or private agency.

4. We would also like to add our voice to those urging Congress to act immediately to restore habeas corpus and other basic human rights, as defined in the Geneva Conventions, the UN CAT and other relevant international instruments, to all those sought or detained by the U.S. as “enemy combatants.” The CIA’s secret detention and rendition practices and CIA-run prisons are of particular concern. We urge Congress to take action speeding the closure of Guantánamo Bay, CIA-run prisons, and other secretive detention sites; Prisoners held at these sites should be transferred to sites in the U.S. that transparently observe due process & other international human rights standards & laws. Concomitantly, Congress should ban the practice of extraordinary rendition of detainees to countries documented by the State Department to use torture or other abusive interrogation techniques. Respect for human rights is a fundamental aspect of what makes us a civilized society.

We thank you for this opportunity to assist your vital efforts to rectify this sad chapter in our nation’s history.

Institutional Signers: ... "

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'why women, in particular, need to resist the "buy" buttons'

Women Should Buy Into Holiday Shopping Boycott
9 Nov 2007
By Susan Feiner
WeNews correspondent

The biggest retail day of the year hovers at the end of this month. Susan Feiner flags the reasons why women, in particular, need to resist the "buy" buttons that advertisers are trying to push and to join a consuming boycott.

(WOMENSENEWS)--Female shoppers, beware.

It's November and that means that Black Friday--the day after Thanksgiving, the biggest shopping day of the year--is lurking at the end of the month, raising the risk of a post-holiday debt hangover.

Twenty-three percent of Americans will not pay off their holiday debt until March or later, equaling $14.6 billion in interest-accruing debt, according to a Consumer Reports 2006 survey. Over one-quarter of Americans use credit cards most often when holiday shopping, contributing to the $63.6 billion charged on credit cards throughout the shopping season.

Since as much as 75 percent of retailers' profits accrue during the holiday season, Black Friday represents the point in time when retailers' account books shift from red (debt) to black (profit).

But black fades into red when we switch our standpoint to the consumer's perspective.

The money flowing into cash registers accentuates the red tide of consumer debt, which is especially toxic for women, whose bankruptcy filings have risen ninefold in the past 20 years, according to research published in the Brooklyn Law Review.

Women Aren't Profligate

It's not that women are profligate in their spending, at the holidays or otherwise.

Yes, Women's Wear Daily may tell us that "yuletide bling" appeals to multiple generations of women and that "jewel-encrusted bras, camisoles embellished with feathers and silky crotch-less panties sold like hot cakes last year."

This could tempt you to think that women have become downright hysterical in their spending. But more methodical research tells us that when it comes to overspending our society has achieved a rare gender balance; both sexes do it to pretty much to the same extent.

Instead, overspending during the holidays is a women's issue in particular for a very simple reason: we can afford it less. That's because we continue to earn less--75 cents to the dollar on average--and we are also less likely to have other financial safeguards such as jobs with good health care and pension benefits.

Much more often than men, women are using consumer credit to pay for life's necessities.

Retailers Worried

Retailers, meanwhile, are clearly worried that spending will not match the double-digit sales gains of the last several seasons, which gets us to the real warning of the story.

In 2006 companies spent a staggering $209.74 billion on advertising. The results of all that money are, in their immensity, difficult if not impossible to either avoid or ignore.

Advertisers target women for a simple reason: We do about 85 percent of all consumer spending. The constant buzz of advertising is, as the economist John Kenneth Galbraith once put it, "relentless propaganda on behalf of goods."

The array of available goods grows daily, and so inevitably does the list of what we know we don't have. This induces a perpetual state of wanting, and millions of us heed the siren call of malls, department stores, upscale boutiques, downscale discounters and everything in between.

It's all particularly dangerous for women who head households. Saving a portion of your earnings is an essential element of long-term financial security, but a recent report in the Survey of Consumer Finances, says 53 percent of female household heads spend all or more than all of their incomes.

The dominant media doesn't want to focus on the systemic reasons for women's financial problems. Instead they focus, as usual, on self-improvement, running endless how-to articles about ending impulse spending, making a list and sticking to it, cutting back on your make-up routine, finding a less expensive hair salon, and don't forget the $64,000 question: Do your finances need a makeover?

Social Policy Void

This individualist focus misses a deeper point: there is no social policy working to protect people from the aggressive influence of marketing; that not enough is being done to make sure women have more workplace equity.

Women as individuals and consumers should, of course, develop habits that get them off the consumer escalator. Read a book, take a walk, talk to a friend instead of reaching for that credit card. Sure.

But there's more to the story than any one woman's individual behavior.

For one thing, there's recent political history. Over the past 25 years, kicked off by the massive tax cuts of the Reagan era, income in the United States has been distributed less and less equally. That has created a huge gulf between the very rich, the posh well-to-do, and the rest of us.

Not only ads, but entertainment programming such as "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" make people earning $35,000 a year desire the ways and means of those earning $135,000. Economist and social commentator Juliet Schor describes the new consumerism as a cycle of "see, want, borrow, buy."

So when we think about consumerism as part of social policy--rather than a simple set of "free" individual choices--it becomes obvious that our national fascination with "more" is being driven by policies designed to reduce public attention to the values that sustain us as a community.

As citizens we value parks, clean energy, recreation, housing, and the environment. But the share of federal spending devoted to these public goods has been declining since the beginning of the conservative attack on government in 1981 when these were 11 percent of the federal budget. Spending in these areas is now a mere 8.6 percent of federal spending.

Households strapped to make monthly home, car and credit card payments are not likely to look fondly on spending to enhance community life. Funding for health care, parks, public recreation, elder care, child care, transportation and education become less palatable.

So with that in mind, maybe the best approach to the day after Thanksgiving this year--rather than rushing around the mall--is to join anti-consumer, pro-environment activists in Buy Nothing Day.

After all it's a political campaign season. With all the time we save by not shopping we can start looking over the candidates. Who's talking about women's pay and benefits disparities? Who's talking about health care, park, public recreation, child care, transportation, education?

Susan Feiner is professor of women's studies and economics at the University of Southern Maine in Portland.

For more information:

Adbusters, Buy Nothing Day:
http://www.adbusters.org/metas/eco/bnd/

"Debt-Conscious Women Pay Cash for Holidays":
http://www.womensenews.org/article.cfm/dyn/aid/2555/

"Tips and Resources on Holiday Spending":
http://www.womensenews.org/article.cfm/dyn/aid/2553/

~ Source ~

 

FAS: Richard Barlow, Nuclear Weapons and Pakistan

The declaration of emergency rule in Pakistan has focused new concern
on the status of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.  It may also bring renewed
attention to the case of Richard Barlow, the former intelligence officer
who attempted to warn Congress two decades ago about Pakistan's
clandestine acquisition of U.S. nuclear technology and who was punished
for his trouble.

In a classic whistleblower tale, Mr. Barlow's security clearances were
suspended, the state secrets privilege was invoked, and he was
personally vilified after he attempted to notify Congress of
irregularities and illegalities in Pakistan's U.S. acquisitions
program.  Yet his allegations about Pakistani export control violations
and official attempts to conceal those violations were ultimately
corroborated.

A summary account of Mr. Barlow's actions and experiences was presented
in one of two pending amendments introduced by Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)
last summer to provide belated compensation for his losses.  See:

    
http://www.fas.org/sgp/congress/2007/barlow.html

Mr. Barlow's story, and much else about the clandestine development of
the Pakistani nuclear weapons program, is presented in a new book
called "Deception: Pakistan, the United States, and the Secret Trade in
Nuclear Weapons" by Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark (Walker &
Company, 2007):

    
http://www.walkerbooks.com/books/catalog.php?key=690

The Congressional Research Service examined "Pakistan's Political
Crisis and State of Emergency" in a new report dated November 6, 2007:

    
http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL34240.pdf

See also "Pakistan-U.S. Relations," updated October 18, 2007:

    
http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL33498.pdf

And "Direct Overt U.S. Aid to Pakistan, FY2001-FY2008," November 8,
2007:

    
http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/pakaid.pdf
 
Source: SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2007, Issue No. 112
November 8, 2007

Secrecy News Blog:  http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy/

markets and the dollar dilemma

" ... The most immediate trigger for the sell-off in the dollar, traders said, was a jarring signal that suggested China might shift some of its enormous hoard of foreign currency reserves — worth more than $1.4 trillion, primarily in dollars and dollar-denominated assets — into other currencies to get a better return on its money.
“We will favor stronger currencies over weaker ones, and will readjust accordingly,” Cheng Siwei, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress told a conference in Beijing on Wednesday. A Chinese central bank vice director, Xu Jian, said the dollar was “losing its status as the world currency,” according to Bloomberg News.
Mr. Cheng later told reporters he was not saying China would buy more euros and dump dollars. But as markets opened across Europe, those words echoed as an invitation to sell the American currency.
The dollar fell to its lowest level against the Canadian dollar since 1950, the British pound since 1981, and the Swiss franc since 1995. The euro rose to a new record, $1.4729, before retreating. ... "
~ full article  ~

NYT: 'Markets and Dollar Sink as Slowdown Worry Increases'
By MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUM and PETER S. GOODMAN
8 Nov 2007

What do Freemasonry and Islam have in common?

Freemasonry (Moslem Sons) and Islam: What do they Share?

by Fahim A. Knight

INTRODUCTION

The topic of Freemasonry is a vast and complex subject, it encroaches on the history and culture of every past, present society and undoubtedly it will even impact future civilizations to come. One could spend an entire life time researching and delving into the inner mysteries, symbolism and rituals of this ancient order; moreover, and never exhaust the traveling path of constantly acquiring wisdom, knowledge and enlightenment that Freemasonry seems to lead the serious minded scholar and researchers toward.

Most non-Masons whom have engaged me in conversation, relative to Masonry seemed overly infatuated with this so-called idea of Masonry being a "covert brotherhood" that operates behind a cloak of secrecy and communicate in a language of symbolism that is un-discernible to the uninitiated.

However, there is a false contention that Masons wield a lot of power and influence throughout society, in which some will argue for the worst or betterment of humanity, it depends on one's perspective of this controversial fraternal brotherhood.

Freemasonry in modern terms had its inception in Europe from local trade Guilds that functioned as Operative Masons in the early 1700's, but Speculative Masonry can be traced back to Ancient Egypt (Kemit) where spiritual schools of thought were developed that evolved around understanding the mysteries of Deity and enhancing moral principles.

WHERE IT ALL BEGAN IN KEMET (EGYPT)

The esteemed scholar and researcher Dr. George G.M. James in his monumental book titled, "Stolen Legacy" that was written in 1954, wrote about the Egyptian Mystery Schools, which he maintained that a complex system of neophyte initiations were developed and worked in Kemet (Egypt).

But more importantly, this sophisticated system of learning was of an African origin and not indigenous to Greece and Rome as traditional Eurocentric scholars have falsely maintained, but Plato, Aristotle and Socrates sat directly or indirectly, at the foot of African Sages who inspired them to illuminate Europe.

This small article is offered as a challenge to Prince Hall Masons from the Blue Lodge, concordant bodies, appendant adoptive bodies and auxiliary bodies to began to research, write, debate, document, etc., Masonic philosophy and stop relying on other scholars to interpret this ancient craft for them. Many believe the beauty in Masonry lies in one's ability to work and recite ritual, but what good has this, if we have very little understanding of truly why the Worshipful Master sits in the East, the Senior Warden in the West and Junior Warden in the South. We then only have symbol without real substance.

Many have never heard of Heru, Isis, Aset and the countless myths of resurrection fables that existed long before Jesus Christ and the Hiram Abiff mythical resurrection advents ...

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Nobody for President 2008

"...Nobody is another way of saying "None of the Above" and should be included on voter ballots.

If a majority of people voted for "None of the Above" rather than, "the lesser of evils," it might force a situation where Voters would have to find someone competent to lead them.

The Birthday Party's Nobody for President Campaign is a humorous approach to elections designed to encourage people to register and vote. Nobody is NOT an endorsement of mass apathy. Apathy Sucks, Nobody for President!..."

http://www.nobodyforpresident.org/

Gay Rights: The Religious Who Teach Non-violence, Non-condemnation of GLBT

Rev. Bob Graetz, friend of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr., has
criss-crossed the country, preaching and teaching, including in the
heartland of America, the Midwest, which is mis-touted by some as a bastion
of conservatism that is purported to condemn and freeze-out anyone who doesn't
conform to a narrow principle.

But, no one informed The Gateway-St. Louis Chapter of Lutherans Concerned,
and other churches and convocations which have invited pastor Rev. Graetz to
be celebrant at services. Rev. Graetz is author of the book A White Preacher's
Memoir: The Montgomery Bus Boycott. He was the only white pastor who openly
participated in the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955 and 1956 with Martin
Luther King, Jr. and other black pastors and church people. His family's
house was fire-bombed twice for his and his family's public stand.

More so, Rev. Graetz and his wife have served as instructors at The
Soulforce Institute for Nonviolent Change, also held in the supposedly
'closed' Midwest.

Soulforce is an interfaith movement which uses the nonviolent principles
of M.K. Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. to end spiritual violence
perpetuated by religious policies against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and
transgendered people.

Among other instructors of Soulforce: Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma
Gandhi; Dr. Rodney Powell, who helped lead the Freedom Rides and lunch
counter sit-ins; and Rev. Dr. Mel White, author of Stranger at the Gate: To
Be Gay and Christian in America.

Soulforce conducts "Twenty-four Hours of Justice" projects which attempt to
bring truth and justice to other members of society, religious groups in
particular, through marches, vigils, media events, direct action, and
possible civil disobedience.

Soulforce has sponsored their events to take place in proximity to national
conferences of Southern Baptists, United Methodists, Presbyterians,
Episcopalians, Roman Catholics, as well as ELCA.

See more here: www.soulforce.org

~ Source ~

By Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes

8 Nov 2007

'So they decided to stop paying taxes'

From: National Catholic Reporter

A radical call

Lay Catholic community Agape lives off the land, following gospel of nonviolence with no compromise

By EILEEN MARKEY
Hardwick, Mass.

Amid the hum of crickets and tree frogs, at the end of a rocky lane deep in the New England countryside, more than 200 people are gathered on folding chairs on the knobby grass on a surprisingly warm October Saturday. The crowd is a mix of gray-haired grandparents and tattooed college students, full-time peace activists and middle-class homeowners who believe Christ’s central message was a radical call to nonviolence.

They all trekked into the woods of Hardwick, Mass., Oct. 6 to mark the feast of St. Francis of Assisi and to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Agape, a lay Catholic community committed to living and teaching a philosophy of radical Christian nonviolence. The community lives off the land, growing its own food and generating most of its own electricity in a conscious rejection of what it considers the life-destroying values of modern American society.

Agape -- it means selfless love in Greek -- is a mixture of lay monastery, retreat center and commune. In the course of the day Agape’s sup- porters will hear Arun Gandhi, the Mahatma’s grandson, lecture on the meaning of nonviolence; discuss the best forms of resistance to a violent culture; tour Agape’s environmentally friendly houses; perform a meditative Native American dance to heal the Earth; and pray for healing with an Iraqi boy grievously burned by an American bomb.

Christianity has always hosted a tension between withdrawal from the unholy world and engagement with it: John the Baptist eating honey and wearing animal skins in the desert or Christ breaking bread around a crowded table in the city; cloistered monks making jam in silence or Jesuits educating the elites in the corridors of power; the yearly retreat or the daily grind. Agape lives in that tension. It is deep in the woods, 20 minutes from a small town, but it is sustained by and performs service for the madding crowd.

Fr. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy, a Byzantine-Melkite rite Catholic priest who founded the Program for the Study and Practice of Nonviolent Conflict Resolution at the University of Notre Dame and a cofounder of the Agape Community, praised the faithfulness of the community as he welcomed supporters to the anniversary. “We are celebrating the fidelity to the struggle to magnify God, to bring peace to the world. Agape is an experiment in making the truth of God visible in the human world,” he said. “There is no choice but to keep trying in the face of failure. But look at what we’re struggling for: We are striving to bring God into the world. We are striving to bring peace. We are striving to bring the intimate God into every person in a way that they will know they are loved.”

The Shanleys and cofounder McCarthy believed Christ preached an end to war. But being American taxpayers made them complicit in the military actions of the United States, their dollars paid for contra weapons in Central America and for the nuclear arms race that was imperiling the planet. So they decided to stop paying taxes.

Some tax resisters refuse to pay the government what they owe and instead redirect the same amount of earnings to nonmilitary causes they support. The nascent Agape community instead decided to live below the taxable income, currently a household income of about $20,000 a year.

“We were reducing our lifestyle. If you are going to live under taxable income, well, food is very expensive,” Suzanne Shanley said with a laugh. So they looked for land where they could grow their own food....

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US fears Israeli strike against Iran over latest nuclear claim

8 Nov 2007

A claim by President Ahmadinejad that Iran has 3,000 working uranium-enriching centrifuges sent a tremor across the world yesterday amid fears that Israel would respond by bombing the country’s nuclear facilities.

Military sources in Washington said that the existence of such a large number could be a “tipping point”, triggering an Israeli air strike. The Pentagon is reluctant to take military action against Iran, but officials say that Israel is a “different matter”. Amid the international uproar, British MPs who were to have toured the nuclear facility were backing out of their Iran trip.

Even before President Ahmadinejad’s announcement, a US defence official told The Times yesterday: “Israel could do something when they get to around 3,000 working centrifuges. The Pentagon is minded to wait a little longer.” US experts say 3,000 machines running for long periods could make enough enriched uranium for an atomic bomb within a year.
 
Israel responded by serving notice that it would not tolerate a nuclear Iran. “Talks never did, and never will, stop rockets,” said Ehud Barak, the Defence Minister, after talks with the security cabinet.

The US and Western allies believe that Iran is using its civilian nuclear programme as a cover for weapon development. Tehran says that it merely wants to generate electricity...

full article ~ 

International Humanitarian Law Research Initiative

Ranchers And Environmentalists At War With Army Over "Middle East" Training Ground

9 Nov 2007
Pat Dollard / Pat Dollard.com

The US Army wants 418,000 acres of private ranch land to triple the size of its Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site, a training area considered suitable — some would say essential — for preparing American warriors to do battle in the Middle East and Afghanistan. The 1,000-square-mile facility would be 15 times the size of the District. Several dozen ranchers and members of 15 county commissions that voted to oppose the project find themselves pitted against the Pentagon and Colorado business interests in a struggle over property rights, personal heritage and the contested priorities of national security.

http://patdollard.com/2007/11/04/ranchers-and-environmentalists-at-war-with-army-over-middle-east-training-ground/

~ Source ~

 

LOOSE NUKES: More On The Minot B-52 Incident

On an dead-end airbase in the American hinterlands, 70 members of the United States Air Force have been punished for “accidentally” loading six live nuclear weapons onto a B-52. Is this “Broken Spear” fixed? Has the truth been told? Why did seven service members involved in this incident end up dead within days? Read the latest exclusive from a military insider, here...

'A legacy of peacemaking'

By Nadav Tamir
November 8, 2007

ON SUNDAY, the State of Israel celebrated the life and work of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated 12 years ago. In the context of the new opportunities emerging in the Middle East, Rabin's legacy will get one more chance to shine in the upcoming peace conference in Annapolis, Md.

Rabin created the foundations for the two-state solution - Israelis and Palestinians living side by side in peace and security - as the only means to end the conflict and the only future for the vision of Israel as a Jewish democracy. Within Israel, an overwhelming majority of the population supports this initiative. So does the goverment of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Olmert views the current Palestinian government under Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad as the best partner Israel has ever had for the creation of a political horizon that would foster peace between Palestinians and Israelis. In the Israeli leadership's estimation, Abbas and Fayyad understand that the Palestinian people will not achieve their deserved right to statehood through indiscriminate violence and terror, but rather through negotiations. They understand that the one-state solution is rhetoric used by extremists on both sides who seek to dominate the other and do not accept the right to self-determination.

New prospects to make Rabin's vision a reality stem from a growing realization in the Arab world that Israel is here to stay. This is manifested in the "Arab initiative," whose sponsor nations declare a willingness to embrace an agreement that will be reached by Israel and the Palestinians.

Among moderate Arabs, there are new shared objectives with Israel and a sense of urgency to keep the extremism espoused by Iran and its proxies Hamas and Hezbollah from threatening the stability and the future of the Middle East.

Naturally, there is a lot of skepticism within the Middle East stemming from years of failed attempts at peacemaking. There is also serious concern about Abbas's ability to implement an agreement, as he maintains control of the West Bank but not of the Gaza Strip. In Israel, there is a deep anxiety that high expectations and lack of sufficient preparation to address the most sensitive issues will lead to another tragedy like we faced after Camp David in 2000, when the collapse of peace talks led to egregious violence.

However, the status quo is neither attractive nor sustainable, and we must not allow these obstacles to hinder us from cultivating peace.

We have to make progress while managing expectations. The Annapolis conference can be a new energizing beginning toward peace, even if it can't be the happy ending to the conflict.

The moderate Arab countries can help by participating in the meeting and by giving Abbas the legitimacy to take the necessary measures. Their participation also indicates to Israelis that there is an acceptance of Israel and an eagerness to normalize relations. Such assurances will help Israelis support tough decisions made by their government.

As usual, in the Middle East there are those who would go to any length to destroy this peace initiative. Iran and its proxies are concerned that positive developments would prevent them from exporting the Islamic revolution throughout the region.

This is no longer an issue of being pro-Palestinian or pro-Israeli, but rather a confrontation between those who support peace and those who prefer chaos and bloodshed.

At Rabin's funeral, former president Bill Clinton said that "legend has it that in every generation of Jews from time immemorial, a just leader emerged to protect his people and show them the way to safety. Prime Minister Rabin was such a leader." It is important that we all help Olmert and Abbas to be such leaders, too, by supporting their courageous resolve to embark on the path Rabin had set out.

The words of the song sung by Rabin just a few minutes before he was shot in a peace rally in Tel Aviv echo strongly today: "Let your eyes look up with hope, not through a rifle sight. Sing a song, a song for love, not for another fight. Don't tell me 'the day will come'; work for it without cease. Inside every city square let out a cheer for peace!"

We have to make an effort to clear the entrenched cynicism in the region, so that people in the Middle East will be able to sing this song once again and "give peace a chance" without sounding trite.

Nadav Tamir is the Israeli consul general in Boston.

~ Source ~

 

Cultural Empowerment Resources

Adventures in DoubleThink: BoBo and PoodleII

Assignment: Decode the Decider's DoubleSpeak text.
 
Sarkozy "a partner in peace," Bush says

WASHINGTON — President Bush and French leader Nicolas Sarkozy pledged Wednesday to work past their nations' recent animosity and toward a more peaceful Iraq, Iran and Pakistan.

"I have a partner in peace," Bush said after meetings with the French president at the Mount Vernon estate of founding father George Washington.

Sarkozy, who hours earlier had addressed a joint session of Congress, told Bush, "When I say that the French people love the American people, that is the truth and nothing but the truth."

In opening remarks, neither president mentioned the Iraq war or other disputes Bush had with Sarkozy's predecessor, Jacques Chirac. When asked about Iraq, Bush told a French reporter, "We had a difference of opinion with your great country." He thanked Sarkozy for sending his foreign minister to Baghdad to consult with Iraq's democratic government.

"What does France want? A united Iraq," Sarkozy said.

The U.S. and French leaders also presented a united front on denying Iran the means to make nuclear weapons, though Sarkozy spoke in terms of negotiations and sanctions rather than military force.

For his part, Bush rejected the notion that his tough talk toward Iran is helping drive up the price of oil, calling that an issue of supply and demand.

Sarkozy said France plans to remain engaged in Afghanistan for as long as it takes to bring stability to the country. Bush praised Sarkozy's government for talking to Syria about not interfering in Lebanon's upcoming elections.

The two presidents chose a symbolic meeting spot in Mount Vernon. Throughout his two-day visit, Sarkozy cited the legacy of the Marquis de Lafayette, who fought with Washington during the American Revolution.

Speaking before Congress, the first-year French president said, "We may have differences," but the United States and France have always stood together.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/politics/2004001185_watch08.html

'Are Your Clothes Becoming Intolerable?'

8 Nov 2007
 
Chemical toxins are a growing problem for everyone you, me, your family, people everywhere. Dr. Dick Irwin, a toxicologist at Texas A&M University, stated that Chemicals have replaced bacteria and viruses as the main threat to health. The diseases we are beginning to see as the major causes of death in the later part of (the 1900s) and into the 21st century are diseases of chemical origin. The chemical toxic overload growing around us is taking many forms including increases in cancer, asthma, and a condition called Multiple Chemical Sensitivities.

Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS) is a syndrome of medical conditions ranging from mild to life-threatening and include headache, trouble concentrating, memory problems, nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, dizziness, difficulty breathing, irregular heart beat, and seizures. Usually the symptoms fade between exposures, but some people have the symptoms all the time. MCS symptoms in children include red cheeks and ears, dark circles under the eyes, hyperactivity, and behavior or learning problems. Medical researchers believe MCS to arise from a physiology that has been weakened by an overexposure to chemical toxins. This overexposure probably occurs gradually over many years. Researchers have long known that chemical toxins can be stored and accumulated in the fatty tissue and organs such as the liver. MCS is thought to be a result of the chemical straw that breaks the back of our bodys natural ability to purify and remove toxins and it causes a temporary or prolonged breakdown in the bodys natural balance. Multiple Chemical Sensitivities is sometimes known medically as Idiopathic Environmental Intolerance IEI).

The discomfort from chemical sensitivities might be triggered by a wide range of causes such as the off-gassing of chemicals from a new carpet or new, fabric-covered office partitions, lawn pesticides, cleaning solvents, or clothing grown and manufactured with toxic chemicals which is the vast majority of clothing produced today. Many common chemically-intensive products such as laundry detergents, perfumes and skin care products can trigger physical reactions. Our skin can act as a protective barrier but it is also very absorbent, especially in areas where the skin might be damaged, have a rash or where the top layer of skin might have been rubbed off or abraded. Chemicals and toxins applied to the skin are easily absorbed and enter our blood systems. The liver and large intestine are the primary organs involved in detoxifying the body. One of the livers primary functions is in breaking down toxins so they can be eliminated. As the liver becomes overwhelmed with a constant barrage of toxins from the environment, toxins are not effectively eliminated and they begin to be stored in fatty tissue within the body. Nothing is closer to our bodies than our clothing and our clothes today are too often chemical toxin storehouses.

Synthetics and man-made fibers such as polyester, nylon, acrylics, and rayon begin their fabric lives in a chemical vat. Most people are aware that cotton, once considered the symbol of purity, is grown in fields heavily drenched in pesticides and insecticides. California's cotton fields are blanketed each year with more than 17 million pounds of pesticides. In the U.S., it takes nearly a third of a pound of chemicals to grow enough cotton for just one t-shirt. Does that favorite conventional cotton shirt still seem innocent?

The environmental damage due to toxic herbicides, pesticides, insecticides, and synthetic chemical fertilizers is significant and sometimes deadly to farm workers and wildlife near the cotton farms. Irrigation and rainwater runoff contain high levels of chemical pollutants which poison streams, rivers, lakes and seep into wells and reservoirs used for community drink
water. Many municipal water treatment centers lack equipment to eliminate these toxic chemicals before they enter city water lines.

Residues of pesticides have been measured in human amniotic fluid and they accumulate in fatty tissues and have been found in human breast milk. For the chemically sensitive and everyone concerned about the levels of chemical toxicity that ultimately travel into our bodies, the cotton fields are just the beginning of the long, chemical road to our wardrobes and closets.

The garment manufacturing industry is huge internationally and notoriously chemically-intensive and polluting. All stages of the conventional garment manufacturing process, except for the spinning process, rely upon a blizzard of synthetic chemicals, many of which are toxic. Polyvinyl alcohol is often used as a sizing to make the yarn weavable. Harsh chlorine is used to bleach and whiten. Fabric is scoured, cleaned and de-pigmented with sodium hydroxide, heavy metal salts and cerium compounds in preparation for dying. Dyes often contain heavy metal impurities, chrome mordant and formaldehyde-fixing agents. Some Azo-based dyes (Azo dye group III A1 and A2) shed carcinogenic aryl amines.

Not only do toxic residuals of these chemicals remain in the clothing, but they also find their way into ecosystems as waste and waste
waters from the manufacturing processes. This is especially true in developing nations where most garments are manufactured and where environmental protections are lax and ignored.

Finishing is the last step of the manufacturing process and it is here that the last remnants of the natural fibers are paved over with harsh chemicals. A urea-formaldehyde product is frequently applied to cotton fabrics to reduce shrinkage and wrinkling. Cotton is a fiber designed by nature to absorb and heat is used to lock finishes into the cotton fibers. When heat is applied, these chemical finishes expand and are permanently bonded into the fabric preventing them from being removed by washing or dry cleaning. People concerned about chemical overloads should be anti- any garment that is advertised as being anti-shrink, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, anti-static, anti-odor, anti-flame, anti-wrinkle, anti-stain, or any of the other anti- easy care garment finishes. Easy care finishes for cotton garments are achieved through chemicals, most of which will not wash out. That new clothes smell found in most conventional clothing chains is because of the chemical finishes used on their clothing.

So what is the chemically sensitive Cinderella to wear? Begin with natural fiber organic clothing such as organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, and organically grown wools that have been grown organically and manufactured using organic and eco-friendly manufacturing processes. Both the growing and the manufacturing phases are critical to produce healthy clothing. If the finest natural organic fibers are smothered during manufacturing with harsh and toxic chemicals, the result will still be wrapping your body like a toxic sushi and allowing these chemicals to be introduced through your skin into your body. In a sense, your skin eats your clothing because chemicals in your clothing do pass through your skin into your blood system and throughout your internal organs. For babies and young children, this is even more of a concern because they often put their clothing in their mouths and suck on their clothing.

Because Multiple Chemical Sensitivity is a syndrome of symptoms and can have many different causes, clothing that might be acceptable for one person will be intolerable for another person. At LotusOrganics.com, we have worked with many people with chemical sensitivities and have found that people with mild sensitivities can often wear organic clothing dyed with low impact dyes but people with more acute chemical sensitivities can only wear natural, non-dyed or color grown organic cotton clothing. Clothing made from hemp and various wools is often intolerable for the acutely chemically sensitive; probably not because of some problem with the natural fiber but with chemicals added during the manufacturing process.

Certified organic cotton from Peru generally receives the best ratings for its purity and comfort from the chemically sensitive. Some manufacturers in India are also starting to produce some healthy organic cotton garments. Organic clothing from Turkey and Egypt can be iffy often because of the dyes. Garments manufactured in Asia tend to be the most problematic as Asian manufacturing processes are often more chemically intensive and there is less transparency into their manufacturing processes. These are just general guidelines based upon our experiences helping many people with chemical sensitivities find healthy and tolerable clothing.

Another area of problems for the chemically sensitive is the presence of elastic and latex in clothing. Some people are very sensitive to direct contact with elastic or latex. This is especially a problem in underwear where the waistband and leg openings have elastic or latex that comes into direct contact with the skin. This is why some manufacturers wrap their elastic or latex within organic cotton.

New clothing wrapped in white tissue or packaged in some plastics can cause discomfort and health problems for the very chemically sensitive. White tissue wrapping paper has usually been treated with harsh chlorine bleach and colored tissues have been soaked in strong chemical dyes. Packaging and wrapping plastic is made from petrochemicals and some plastics off-gas fumes that can causes physical discomfort. New shipping boxes are bonded and held together with adhesives which can off-gas into clothing being shipped inside. At LotusOrganics.com, we prepare clothing for shipping by wrapping it in unbleached, non-dyed tissue and, when requested, use old cardboard boxes for shipping because they are largely off-gassed after time.

For people with MCS, the modern world is becoming a chemically toxic labyrinth and MCS is an environmental disease that can affect anyone. For more information, visit the Chemical Sensitivity Foundation (http://www.chemicalsensitivityfoundation.org/), the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences at http://www.niehs.nih.gov/external/faq/mcss.htm, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service report on MCS (http://web.health.gov/environment/mcs/toc.htm) We must all do what we can to reduce toxins and improve the purity of our environment including our clothes closets.

Michael Lackman is the founder of LotusOrganics.com, an online organic clothing store offering purely beautiful and healthy organic clothing for exercise, yoga, casual wear, and sleepwear.

~ Source ~

 

'A Liberal Only A Libertarian Could Love'

Harry Elmer Barnes: A Liberal Only A Libertarian Could Love

by Dan Spielberg

"Nevertheless, despite the seemingly insuperable difficulties involved, it may safely be maintained that, unless we throw off the yoke and menace of globaloney and interventionism, any and all efforts to attain the good life in the United States – civil liberty, intellectual freedom, economic security, social justice, and the like – are doomed to ultimate and complete failure. Until we free ourselves from the octopus of world-meddling, reformist zeal will remain comparable to excitement over engraving invitation cards to a gala party on a sinking ocean liner."

~ Harry Elmer Barnes in "The Chickens of the
Interventionist Liberals Have Come Home to Roost,"
a privately published monograph from 1954

With much sadness it must be said that rejecting the necessity of the state's favorite activity, war, does not come naturally to Americans. Those of us who do reject it generally have come to our position by gathering enough information to see behind the rhetorical smoke screens put up by the propagandists for war. The official rationales for every past war that we learn in school are generally lies (e.g., ending slavery, keeping the Hun at bay, protecting the "Free World") and alternative sources of information are hard to come by. That explains why the mass of Americans generally believe the intellectual myths of the war system that Murray Rothbard discussed in his insightful contribution to Harry Elmer Barnes: Learned Crusader, a 1968 Festschrift for one of my political heroes, Harry Elmer Barnes (1889–1968). When I read Rothbard's article, "Harry Elmer Barnes as Revisionist of the Cold War," on LRC I had never heard of Barnes before, and after reading it I felt compelled to read everything by Barnes I could get my hands on.

Barnes was a historian, criminologist, sociologist, journalist, social critic and political crusader. Educated at Syracuse University and Columbia, he held academic positions at such institutions as Clark University, The New School for Social Research, Smith College, wrote for the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain and was intimately involved with practically every revisionist book dealing with World War II and its aftermath that was published in the U.S. from 1945 until his death. He believed that the entry of the U.S. into the European and Pacific wars in 1941, thereby making them truly "world wars," was a devastating blow to the causes of peace, freedom, indeed of civilization itself. In 1953, writing in the preface to Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: A Critical Examination of the Foreign Policy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and It's Aftermath, a collection of essays written by a group of esteemed contributors such as historian Charles Callan Tansill and the great newspaper man George Morgenstern, Barnes says "if trends continue as they have during the last fifteen years we shall soon reach this point of no return, and can only anticipate interminable wars, disguised as noble gestures for peace. Such an era could only culminate in a third world war which might well, as Arnold J. Toynbee has suggested, leave only the pygmies in remote jungles, or even the apes and ants, to carry on 'the cultural traditions' of mankind."

Barnes was the quintessential liberal of the period between the world wars, championing such causes as civil rights, birth control, free speech, prison reform and World War I revisionism. His column in the New York World-Telegram, which was called "The Liberal Viewpoint," ran from 1934 to 1940 and brought Barnes much admiration from the liberal intelligentsia of the day, until his anti-interventionist views led to his dismissal. Although Barnes did favor things most libertarians would oppose, such as world government and the New Deal economic programs, he dedicated much of his life to the cause that all libertarians believe is the most important in this day and age, opposing foreign intervention by the U.S. government. While he did support World War I at the time, a common fault among intellectuals in those days, in the 1920's he became one of the leading revisionists who so ably demolished all the myths about the glory of going "Over There." His activities along this line gained him a great deal of admiration, as in those days war revisionism was very much in fashion and the consensus among learned people generally was that the war had been a tremendous mistake. His 1926 book, The Genesis of the World War, is a comprehensive rebuttal of the arguments that the sole responsibility for the war lay with Germany and that the war was a battle for "democracy" rather than a clash of empires. The fact that Barnes stood fast against global interventionism immediately before, during and after the second global bloodbath, when many liberals had become warmongers, is what makes him such a unique and admirable historical figure, in my mind.

While initially a supporter of FDR, once it became clear that the Anglophile, warship-obsessed Country Squire in the White Housewas determined to return to the scene of Woodrow Wilson's crime, Barnes became an outspoken critic of his. He saw clearly that Roosevelt's policies in Europe were designed to do nothing other than drag us into the war. He was not taken in by the President's lying denials of his belligerent intentions such as his famous "again and again" speech in Boston on October 30, 1940. It was October 5, 1937, while Barnes was waiting for a train in Auburn, New York, that he heard Roosevelt's voice coming over the radio, speaking from Chicago, saying that all the "peace-loving" peoples of the world must quarantine "the aggressors" that threatened "international anarchy" which would engulf the U.S. if nothing was done. This was the beginning of Barnes' break with the Administration and his eventual emergence of one of FDR's greatest critics with regard to foreign affairs. As one who had actually written Allied propaganda during World War I, this speech must have set off alarm bells in his mind, warning of the fire and brimstone ahead.

This was the beginning of his campaign to keep America out of the war, which he carried out in print and in public forums. He pressed the case against war in scholarly journals, magazines such as the Progressive (November 15 and 22, and December 6, 1941, notably) and in his regular column for Scripps-Howard. On June 18, 1940, at the University of Virginia Institute of Public Affairs, Barnes delivered an anti-interventionist lecture on the very spot where FDR delivered his famous "dagger in the back" speech eight days previous. One of his more notable appearances was a radio debate held March 2, 1941, broadcast on "American Forum of the Air" where he, along with then-Congressman Everett M. Dirksen, argued the anti-interventionist position against Thomas H. Eliot, who went on to become Chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis, and C.D. Jackson of the Luce publications. Another significant debate was held in Zeisler Hall in Chicago on March 26, 1941, before a full house. Barnes' opponent this time was one Clifton Utley, an NBC commentator and the Director of the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations. From all accounts, the majority of the audience were persuaded by Barnes' arguments on that occasion.

After the U.S. entered the war, Barnes was persuaded to take a job doing work unrelated to the military effort for the Prison War Industries Branch of the War Production Board. During this time he assumed that after the war the myths regarding U.S. entry into it would be put under the light of scrutiny and there would be a flourishing of revisionism like there was after World War I. He had no idea that the war myths this time would be harder to crack because of what Barnes would later refer to as the "Historical Blackout," by which he meant the efforts of "court historians" (academics bought and paid for by the regime) to suppress certain truths about the war (e.g. that Pearl Harbor was no "sneak attack"; that it was in large part the belligerence and intransigence of Roosevelt and Churchill which led to the German invasion of Poland, etc.). As the war wound down he began his first detailed investigations into the events leading up to American entry into the war in December, 1941. In the fall of 1944 he read John T. Flynn's first pamphlet on Pearl Harbor, "The Truth About Pearl Harbor," which was one of the early works of World War II revisionism. In the spring of 1945 he had dinner with Senator Robert A. Taft after Taft had spent a week with the lawyer for Admiral Husband E. Kimmell, commander of the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor who became the scapegoat for the Administration's "failure" to prevent the attack. Taft had gathered many essential facts about the Pearl Harbor scandal which he relayed to Barnes. In November of that year he attended some of the meetings of the Joint Congressional Committee investigating Pearl Harbor and had the fortune of being there when General George Marshall testified and had a very convenient attack of amnesia. In December of 1945 Barnes was able to interview Tyler Kent who had just served time in a British prison for possessing "illegal" copies of secret exchanges between Churchill and FDR showing how they had schemed for two years to get the U.S. into the war.

Immediately after the war, some revisionist works appeared such as John T. Flynn's The Final Secret of Pearl Harbor(which revealed that Washington had been intercepting Japan's diplomatic messages which made it impossible that the attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise), Charles A. Beard's American Foreign Policy in the Making 1932–1940and George Morgenstern's Pearl Harbor: The Story of the Secret War. This led Barnes to believe that revisionism would flourish in the years to come and that he would eventually write Genesis of World War II. However, by the end of 1947 it became clear that the truth about the war was going to be ruthlessly suppressed by those with a vested interest in keeping it shrouded in myth. In an article for the Saturday Evening Post of October 4, 1947 entitled "Who's to Write the History of the War?," Professor Beard revealed that both the Rockefeller Foundation and the Council on Foreign Relations intended to throw their weight against any effort by independent scholars and writers to reveal the truth about the war. The contours of the aforementioned "Historical Blackout" were coming into full view.

The Historical Blackout operated in various ways. One of the main ones being the simple method of just ignoring Revisionist works. In the essay "Revisionism and the Historical Blackout" from the early 1950's Barnes notes that Henry Regnery, one of the few publishers willing to print revisionist material, had shown him a careful survey of the treatment given to truth-telling works such as Charles Callan Tansill's Back Door to War, William Henry Chamberlin's America's Second Crusade and Frederic C. Sanborn's Design For War. Almost none were reviewed. Those that were reviewed were invariably given outrageously unfair treatment. Another method was by way of the granting of access to extensive official records only to historians who were sure to be sympathetic to the war, such as Samuel Eliot Morison of Harvard, had been inducted into the Naval Reserve in 1942 (with the rank of Lieutenant Commander) to become the official historian of Naval Operations in World War II. Morison was obviously chosen for this task due to his ardent support for the interventionist policies of Roosevelt. He of course agreed that he would reveal no information that would endanger "national security." He later was promoted to the rank of Admiral for his extensive efforts to enshrine the interventionist viewpoint as our "official" version of history. (In fact a frigate, the USS Samuel Eliot Morison, was fittingly named after this bird.) Of course scholars who may have been suspected of wanting to publish the truth about the war found they had minimal, if any, access to official documents.

The role played by large foundations in the Historical Blackout is illustrated by relaying a personal experience of Barnes' that happened after the funding by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Sloan Foundation of the 1952 book The Challenge to Isolation, 1937–1940, by Professors W.L. Langer and S. E. Gleason, which was a complete whitewash of the Rooseveltian foreign policy. The Rockefeller Foundation's grant of $139,000 was supplemented by Sloan's grant of $10,000. When Barnes himself applied to the Sloan Foundation, on behalf of a project to be undertaken by an accomplished academic other than Barnes, for a grant of a small percentage of the amount allotted to the Langer and Gleason book, he received a perfunctory rejection letter from Alfred Zurcher, head of the Sloan Foundation. This was after receiving assurance, personally from Mr. Zurcher, that the Foundation was interested in subsidizing scholarship on all sides of the issue.

Due to this intellectually stifling atmosphere Barnes had to publish most of his own works with small firms such as Caxton or Devin-Adair, or he had to publish them privately. The first of his important works along this line was his pamphlet "Struggle Against the Historical Blackout" which was published first in early 1948 and was to go through nine editions over they years, each updated to reflect recent developments. The 1950's and early 1960's saw him continue to produce great revisionist works such as the symposium Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace (1952) mentioned above, which he edited and which contained two chapters written by Barnes himself. The second Barnes chapter of this book, "How 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' Trends Threaten American Peace, Freedom and Prosperity" was actually suppressed at the time the book was published but appears in the editions currently available. This chapter prophetically describes what horrors America would face (and which have now become to be) as a result of the bi-partisan interventionist foreign policy that the elites have practiced for so many years. Other works by Barnes in this period which should be required reading are the essays "Revisionism and the Historical Blackout," "The Court Historians Versus Revisionism," "Blasting the Historical Blackout," "Revisionism and the Promotion of Peace" and the wonderful little 1954 brochure "The Chickens of the Interventionist Liberals Have Come Home to Roost," which chided the liberals for complaining about McCarthyism when they were the ones who had started the Cold War to begin with!

It goes without saying that his unyielding opposition to world War II and it's sequel, the Cold War, which he deals with in his later works, did not endear him to the historical establishment. As a result his career did not attain the heights that would be expected of a man with his wide-ranging knowledge and overall intellectual gifts. The writings of his which appeared in the mainstream journals were all unrelated to the history of the world wars, as were most of his major lectures. Revisionism continued to be suppressed and obscured for most of the rest of Barnes' life, but before he passed away in late 1968 he had the gratifying experience of seeing Revisionism make something of a come-back among the New left who were beginning to criticize American war-making in general and not just the Vietnam war. I think it can be safely stated that if the foreign policy advocated by those such as Harry Elmer Barnes had been followed, we would not be in the dire situation we are in today, with the U.S. military occupying Iraq and preparing to take Iran, possibly igniting a nuclear holocaust (perhaps not for us here but for those on the receiving end of the U.S. attack).

November 8, 2007

Dan Spielberg works in the real estate industry in Northern California.

 

'The History of a Greek Secret Society: Structure and Rites of the Philiki Etaireia'

The Greek revolution in 1821 was a key event that has been investigated and explored by generation after generation of Greeks. As such, the role of secret societies, which were fundamental to its success, has attracted great interest as well. The organizers of the first societies aiming to overthrow the Ottoman Empire were mostly merchants and intellectuals who held strong contacts with the Greek diaspora, or who were in tune with the seismic changes that were then occurring across European societies. As early as the 1790’s, Rigas Feraios (1) drafted a plan for a Balkan federation that was to replace Ottoman rule, creating a society that would adhere to the basic principles of the Enlightenment and the humanitarian approach towards the needs of society.

In 1790, in Vienna, an organization similar in some respects to the Masons was formed by Greek merchants and intellectuals. It was called “Bon Cuisines,” and was presumably associated with the Greek pre-revolutionary intellectual Rigas Feraios, one of the leading figures in spreading revolutionary idea among those Greeks still living under the Turkish occupation. This era was one of intellectual ferment, following the American and French revolutions, and thus offered an excellent environment for the dissemination of new ideas. This ideological development would ultimately lead to the dissolution of the world of empires and the emergence of the nation-state.

In the case of Greece, it seems that the lodges became veritable repositories of knowledge, where the information and ideals needed to start an uprising were collected and shared within a select circle of conspirators. Usually, these were Greeks of the diaspora who had the intellectual capacity, as well as the capital, to take the first decisive revolutionary actions.

In 1810, one of the leading figures of Corfu, Dionysius Romas, merged together the two existing local lodges, Filogenia and Agathoergia, and thus created the Grand Anatolian Lodge of Hellas and Corfu (2). After this event, Masonic lodges mushroomed across the Hellenic world, so that by 1812 the Greek community in Moscow was able to organize a formidable secret society. Under the auspices of Ioannis Kapodistrias, the then-Russian Foreign Minister, a Masonic lodge that encompassed the Greek elite of Tsarist Russia and played an important role towards creating the framework for the forthcoming Greek revolution was created.

Interestingly, it was named the “Phoenix Lodge” (3), alluding to the ancient symbol of the Phoenix, the mythical bird that rises from its own ashes. This reference is frequently encountered in Greek mysticism. After the Greek revolution, Ioannis Kapodistrias would become the first head of state (1827-1831), and even before was the leader of the Phoenix Lodge while still in Moscow. In fact, he even named the first Greek currency ‘phoenix,’ but after his assassination by a Greek clan chief, the famous ‘drachma’ was born. The grandest Greek secret society of them all, the Philiki Etaireia (“Friendly Society”) used the phoenix as its symbol. Nowadays it is still one of the symbolic emblems of the Freemason Lodges in Greece. Lastly, during the Junta in Greece (1967-1974) the symbol of the regime was the Phoenix again; presumably this owed to the membership of some of its officers in certain Greek Masonic lodges.

Furthermore, in 1809 in Paris, the organization Ellinogloso Xenodoheio (“Greek-speaking hotel”) was founded by the Greek intellectual, Gregorios Salykes. Amongst the original membership was Athanasios Tsakalof, one of three men who would form the Philiki Etaireia. This particular society aimed to promote the spirit of ancient Greek civilization, though in reality it promoted national independence for Greece and functioned according to the Italian Carbonari conspiracy methods (4). Its members received a golden ring, with the inscription “FEDA” (Filikos Ellinon Desmos Alytos), meaning, “a bond between friendly Greeks cannot be broken.” Despite the enthusiasm of the members, their pro-French orientation and the end of the Napoleonic era in Europe in 1815 diminished their ambitions of creating a Greek-French alliance to promote their goals.

In 1813, another society, named the Filomousos Etaireia (Society of friends of music) was inaugurated in Athens (5). This one had a pro-British orientation and recruited its members from the ranks of the haute-society of the Athenian merchants and land-owners. It never became a dominant force in the then complex system of Greek secret societies, however, quickly dissolving soon after.

The most important society, the Philiki Etaireia, was established on the 14th of September 1814, in Odessa, by Greek diaspora figures Athanasios Tsakalof, Nikolao Skoufa and Emmanouel Ksaanthos. It is worthwhile to note that the date of the society’s creation was that of the “Holy Cross,” which in the Greek Orthodox calendar is associated with the miraculous victory of the Byzantine Empire against a combined Avar-Persian siege in 614 AD. According to hagiographic tradition, Constantinople was in dire danger of falling to the barbarians, until the patriarch of the city ran across the walls, armed with an icon of the Virgin Mary (the icon now resides in the Monastery of Dionysiou on Mt. Athos). (6)

Considering the symbolism and importance of the day for the Greek nation, one can assume that the creators of the Philiki Etaireia chose it in order to highlight to their followers the historical role that this organization planned to play in the future. All of the three founders associated himself with other revolutionary secret organizations and were equipped intellectually to cope with the strains of managing such societal methods for a national and political set of goals.

Ksanthos was a member of the Lodge of Lefkada, while Skoufas’ associate Konstantinos Rados was a devotee of the Italian Carbonarism (“Charcoal-burners”) movement, an equivalent to the Greek group which sought the unification of Italy. For his part, the much younger Tsakalov had been a founding member of Ellinoglosso Xenodoheio, the unsuccessful precursor to the Etairia that was devoted to the same goal of an independent Greece.

Philiki Etaireia soon progressed to become the driving force in the uprising of the Greek populace, recruiting significant numbers of prominent and important individuals into its ranks. Up until 1816, only 20 members were active, whereas by 1820 there were at least 1,096 members, and the following year membership must have topped 10,000, even though historical research has not been able to identify the exact numbers. The geographical spread was also impressive, since it expanded in all states and cities with a Greek diaspora presence, from Alexandria to Constantinople and Saint Petersburg to Trieste. Also, the members involved with the Philiki Etaireia included most of the protagonists of the Greek revolution, including the likes of Kolokotronis, Mavrokordatos, Kountouriotis, Androutsos, Negri, Palaion Patron Germanos, Zaimes, Papaflessas, Anagnostaras and many other; the revolution was indeed largely staged by members of the Philiki Etaireia.

The organizational structure of the society was based on models already tested and assessed by the Carbonari and other revolutionary movements. Its leadership was portrayed as the “Invisible authority,” supposedly a very high-ranking personality in Europe at that time. In reality there was not such authority and the three founders were the actual culprits from the start. This grandiose image was used mainly as a propaganda tool in order to exercise a stronger clout to the newcomers that wanted to believe in the presence of a powerful political force promoting the Greeks. In 1818, the organization changed and the ruling authority was named “The authority of the 12 Apostles”, being composed by the three founding members and another nine figures.

The society followed a pyramid structure that remained unknown to its members, and orders were to be followed instantly and without hesitation. There were also four initiation rites, each one corresponding to a greater intimation with the motives of the organization and its modus operandi. Therefore, the first degree was the one of the “Brother,” the second of the “Referenced One,” the third one of the “Priest” and the higher of the “Shepherd.”

The role of the “Priests” was to recruit newcomers, after having being assured of their intentions and after having examined their character and motivation. Afterwards, they were taken to a church and made to swear in the Bible the following: “I swear in the name of freedom and justice and in front of the supreme being; to preserve the society even if I have to suffer the worst torture and my life perishes, and I will answer truthfully anything being asked by the society.” The newcomer repeated three times in total the oath and afterwards he was considered a member of the Philiki Etaireia. At that stage he was not fully aware of the underlying greater motives of the society, having understood simply that the organization was generally concerned with protecting the rights of the Greeks in the Ottoman Empire.

The initiates promoted to the rank of the “Priest” were the members that showed courage and aptitude of character beyond doubt. A series of dialogues and thoughtful consideration was needed before anyone was admitted in this degree. When it was decided that one would in fact be selected, the following events took place: The candidate, along with his initiator, met in a “safe house” where the candidate would hold a lit candle in front of a Christian Orthodox icon. Afterwards the “Great Oath” was sworn, and after that the “Priest” acquired the rights and obligations of his rank. He had to learn the signs and gestures in order to communicate with the rest of the society. Nevertheless the “Priests” could under no circumstances become acquainted with or communicate with the heads of the general society, but only through the “Shepherds,” who acted as the link between the administration and the rest. The latter were selected by the “Priests” after a selective process, in a similar fashion. In all four ranks of the society, everyone was obliged to follow the decisions by the heads of the Etaireia, and could not take initiatives without prior notification. The society firmly believed in the mutual obligation of everyone to secrecy, to the extent that those who revealed its secrets were murdered; at least two such cases have been historically documented.

In 1818, the Philiki Etaireia transferred its base from Odessa to Constantinople; in the same year, leader Skoufas died. Later on Ioannis Kapodistrias, the Greek foreign minister of the Russian state, was cajoled into becoming the supreme leader of the organization, but he declined. Only in 1820 did another Russian-domiciled Greek, Alexandros Ypsilanti, accept the offer. The original plan for the revolution was to simultaneously organize uprisings throughout the Balkans and make an attempt to destroy the Ottoman fleet in Constantinople. Some of the plans seemed to have been compromised, however, with the result that the revolution started on the 24th of February in modern-day Iasio, Romania. After the formal announcement of the Greek revolution in mainland Greece in March 1821, the Philiki Etaireia was somehow dissolved and its members participated in numerous battles fought across Greece. The founding members of the society were not elected to public office, nor did they claim fortune and fame for their struggles. In essence, the Philiki Etaireia was a formidable example of a patriotic society that managed in less than seven years to create a revolutionary spirit in Greece and then disappeared, as mysteriously as it had arisen, into the realm of history. Even nowadays, the full history of the Philiki Etaireia has not been sufficiently uncovered, and especially the almost miraculous way in which it managed to remain impervious to outside infiltration. How it managed its resources successfully in an era without the modern conveniences of telecommunications and transport is another engaging question for researchers today.

Similar societies both before and after have drawn from a rich tradition of esoteric customs, symbols and activities. These can be traced ultimately back to the pagan mystery cults of Greek Antiquity, and the later crypto-Christian groups (when Christians were still being persecuted by the Roman Empire). It can even be argued that the pyramidal, multi-leveled organizational hierarchy of the Philiki Etairia resembles somewhat the neo-Platonic conception of the universal organization of ideality and divinity as laid out by ancient authors such as Porphyry and Plotinus.

If all of these are indeed manifestations of the unique Greek passion for convoluted and complex organization, irrational rules and secrecy (the undoing of which would open onto time-honored themes of scandal and betrayal), then one can perceive a continuous historical tradition, in which Greek secret societies become just one epoch’s manifestation of the seminal impulses and psyche of a people.

Numerous historical incidents and developments have been either shaped or influenced by societies in Greece resembling the original Philiki Etaireia one. The expulsion of King Otto in 1862, the Greek-Turkish war in 1897, the revolution in 1909 and the installation of Venizelos, and many other cases, attest to this dynamic. There is a strong linkage between the formation of secret societies in Greece and the expectation of either peripheral or worldwide events of national interest. Due to the unique history in Greece of society ordered alternately by city-states and local self-rule, social dynamics often have called for the participation of informal groups of individuals, sharing kinship or often intellectual interests.

References:

Yiannis Kordatos, Rigas Feraios and Balkan Federation, (Athens, 1974)

http://www.balkanalysis.com/2006/09/28/freemasonry-in-greece-secret-history-revealed/

http://web.mit.edu/dryfoo/Masonry/Altf/gl-greece.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbonari

http://w38.fhw.gr/chronos/11/tgr/en/frameset.html?431

(http://www.macedonian-heritage.gr/Athos/Monastery/dionysiou.html

Bibliography:

Panagiotopoulos, V., “Oi tektones kai i Philiki Etaireia. Emm. Xanthos kai Pan. Karagiannis”, Eranistis, (1964)

Vakalopoulos, A., “Symvoli stin istoria kai organosi tis Philikis Etaireias”, Ellinika, 12 (1952-1953)

Vournas, T., Philiki Etaireia. A’: To paranomo organotiko tis. B’: O diogmos tis ap’ tous xenous, Athens, Tolidi, 1982

Yiannis Kordatos, Rigas Feraios and Balkan Federation (Athens, 1974)

Further readings on secret societies:

Arkon Daraul, (1961). Secret Societies. London. Citadel Press. ISBN-13: 978-1567312911

Axelrod, Alan (1997). The international encyclopedia of secret societies and fraternal orders. New York: Facts on File. ISBN 0-8160-2307-7.

Barrett, David V. Secret Societies. From the Ancient and Arcane to the Modern and Clandestine. London. Blandford.ISBN 0713727721

Whalen, William Joseph (1966). Handbook of secret organizations. Milwaukee: Bruce Pub. Co. LCCN 66-026658

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11/5/2007 (Balkanalysis.com)

By Ioannis Michaletos

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