Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Cynthia McKinney prevented from leaving US

Today, November 23rd, I was slated to give remarks in Damascus, Syria at a Conference being held to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and, sadly, the 60th year that the Palestinian people have been denied their Right of Return enshrined in that Universal Declaration. But a funny thing happened to me while at the Atlanta airport on my way to the Conference: I was not allowed to exit the country.

I do believe that it was just a misunderstanding. But the insecurity experienced on a daily basis by innocent Palestinians is not. Innocent Palestinians are trapped in a violent, stateless twilight zone imposed on them by an international order that favors a country reported to have completed its nuclear triad as many as eight years ago, although Israel has remained ambiguous on the subject. President Jimmy Carter informed us that Israel had as many as 150 nuclear weapons, and Israel's allies are among the most militarily sophisticated on the planet. Military engagement, then, is untenable. Therefore the exigency of diplomacy and international law.

The Palestinians should at least be able to count on the protections of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. What is happening to Palestinians in Gaza right now, subjected to an Israeli-imposed blockade, has drawn the attention of the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, who noted that over half of the civilians in Gaza are children. Even The Los Angeles Times criticized Israel's lockdown of Gaza that is keeping food, fuel, and medicine from civilians. Even so, Israel stood fast by its decision to seal Gaza's openings. But where are the voices of concern coming from the corridors of power inside the United States? Is the subject of Palestinian human rights taboo inside the United States Government and its government-to-be? I hope not. Following is the speech I would have given today had I been able to attend the Damascus Conference.

Cynthia McKinney
Right of Return Congregation
Damascus, Syria
November 23, 2008

Thank you to our hosts for inviting me to participate in this most important and timely First Arab-International Congregation for the Right of Return. Words are an insufficient expression of my appreciation for being remembered as one willing to stand for justice in Washington, D.C., even in the face of tremendously difficult pressures.

Former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir, thank you for including me in the Malaysian Peace Organisation's monumental effort to criminalize war, to show the horrors of the treatment of innocent individuals during the war against and occupation of Iraq by the militaries and their corporate contractors of Britain, Israel, and the United States. Thank you for standing up to huge international economic forces trying to dominate your country and showing an impressionable woman like me that it is possible to stand up to “the big boys” and win. And thank you for your efforts to bring war criminal, torturer, decimator of the United States Constitution, the George W. Bush Administration, to justice in international litigation.

Delegates and participants, I must declare that at a time when scientists agree that the climate of the earth is changing in unpredictable and possibly calamitous ways, such that the future of humankind hangs in the balance, it is unconscionable that we have to dedicate this time to and focus our energies on policies that represent a blatant and utter disregard for human rights and self-determination and that represent in many respects, a denial of human life, itself.

In the same year as Palestinians endured a series of massacres and expulsions, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights became international law. And while the United Nations is proud that the Declaration was flown into Outer Space just a few days ago on the Space Shuttle, if one were to read it and then land in the Middle East, I think it would be clear that Palestine is the place that the Universal Declaration forgot.

Sadly, both the spirit of the Universal Declaration for Human Rights and the noblest ideals of the United Nations are broken. This has occurred in large measure due to policies that emanate from Washington, D.C. If we want to change those policies, and I do believe that we can, then we have to change the underlying values of those who become Washington's policy makers. In other words, we must launch the necessary movement that puts people in office who share our values.

We need to do this now more than ever because, sadly, Palestine is not Washington's only victim. Enshrined in the Universal Declaration is the dignity of humankind and the responsibility of states to protect that dignity. Yet, the underlying contradictions between its words and what has become standard international practice lay exposed to the world this year when then-United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour proclaimed:

“In the course of this year, unprecedented efforts must be made to ensure that every person in the world can rely on just laws for his or her protection. In advancing all human rights for all, we will move towards the greatest fulfillment of human potential, a promise which is at the heart of the Universal Declaration.”

How insulting it was to hear those words coming from her, for those of us who know, because it was she who, as Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, willfully participated in the cover-up of an act of terror that resulted in the assassination of two democratically-elected Presidents and that unleashed a torrent of murder and bloodletting in which one million souls were vanquished. That sad episode in human history has become known as the Rwanda Genocide. And shockingly, after the cover-up, Louise Arbour was rewarded with the highest position on the planet, in charge of Human Rights.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that justice delayed is justice denied. And 60 years is too long to wait for justice.
The Palestinian people deserve respected self-determination, protected human rights, justice, and above all, peace.

On the night before his murder, Dr. King announced that he was happy to be living at the end of the 20th Century where, all over the world, men and women were struggling to be free.

Today, we can touch and feel the results of those cries, on the African Continent where apartheid no longer exists as a fact of law. A concerted, uncompromising domestic and international effort led to its demise.

And in Latin America, the shackles of U.S. domination have been broken. In a series of unprecedented peaceful, people-powered revolutions, voters in Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and most recently Paraguay used the power of the political process to materially change their countries' leadership and policy orientation toward the United States. Americans, accustomed to the Monroe Doctrine which proclaimed U.S. suzerainty over all politics in the Western Hemisphere, must now think the unthinkable given what has occurred in the last decade.

Voters in Cote d'Ivoire, Haiti, Spain, and India also took matters clearly in their hands to make “a clean break” from policies that were an affront to the interests of the majority of the people in those countries.

In country after country, against tremendous odds, people stood up and took their fates in their hands. They did what Mario Savio, in the 1960s, asked people in the United States to do. These people-powered, peaceful revolutions saw individuals put their bodies against the levers and the gears and the wheels of the U.S. imperial machine and they said to the owners if you don't stop it, we will. And I know that people of conscience inside my country can do it, too: especially now that the engines of imperial oppression are running out of gas.

Even though the Democratic Party, at the Convention that nominated Barack Obama, denied its microphone to Former President Jimmy Carter because of his views on Palestine, let me make it clear that Former President Carter is not the only person inside the United States who believes that peace with justice is possible in Palestine.

Inside the United States, millions who are not of Arab descent, disagree vehemently with the policy of our government to provide the military and civilian hardware that snuffs out innocent human life that is also Arab.

Millions of Americans do not pray to Allah, but recognize that it is an inalienable right of those who do to live and pray in peace wherever they are–including inside the United States.

Even though their opportunities are severely limited, there are millions of people inside the United States struggling to express themselves on all of these issues, but whose efforts are stymied by a political process that robs them of any opportunity to be heard.

And then there are the former elected officials who spoke out for what was right, for universal application of the Universal Declaration, and who were roundly condemned and put out of office as a result. My father is one such politician, punished—kicked out of office–because of the views of his daughter.

In my case, I dared to raise my voice in support of the World Conference Against Racism and against the sieges of Ramallah, Jenin, and the Church of the Nativity. I raised my voice against the religious profiling in my country that targets innocent Muslims and Arabs for harassment, imprisonment, financial ruin, or worse. Yes, I have felt the sting of the special interests since my entry onto the national stage when, in my very first Congressional campaign, I refused to sign a pledge committing that I would vote to maintain the military superiority of Israel over its neighbors, and that Jerusalem should be its capital city.
Other commitments were on that pledge as well, like continued financial assistance to Israel at agreed upon levels.

As a result of my refusal to make such a commitment, and just like the old slave woman, Sojourner Truth, who bared her back and showed the scars from the lashes meted out to her by her slave master, I too, bear scars from the lashes of public humiliation meted out to me by the special interests in Washington, D.C. because of my refusal to tow the line on Israel policy. This “line” is the policy accepted by both the Democratic and Republican Party leadership and why they could cooperate so well to coordinate my ouster from Congress. But I have survived because I come from the strongest stock of Africans, stolen then enslaved, and yet my people survived. I know how to never give up, give in, or give out. And I also know how to learn a good political lesson. And one lesson I've learned is that the treatment accorded to me pales in comparison to what Palestinian victims still living in refugee camps face every day of their lives.

The treatment accorded to me pales in comparison to the fact that human life is at stake if the just-released International Atomic Energy Agency report is true when it writes that “The only explanation for the presence of these modified uranium particles is that they were contained in the missiles dropped from the Israeli planes.” What are the health effects of these weapons, what role did the U.S. military play in providing them or the technology that underlies them, why is there such silence on this, and most fundamentally, what is going on in this part of the world that international law has forgotten?

Clearly, not only the faces of U.S. politicians must change; we must change their values, too. We, in the United States, must utilize our votes to effect the same kind of people-powered change in the United States as has been done in all those other countries. And now, with more people than ever inside the United States actually paying attention to politics, this is our moment; we must seize this time. We must become the leaders we are looking for and get people who share our values elected to Congress and the White House.

Now, I hope you believe me when I say to you that this is not rocket science. I have learned politics from its best players. And I say to you that even with the failabilities of the U.S. system, it is possible for us to do more than vote for a slogan of change, we can actually have it. But if we fail to seize this moment, we will continue to get what we've always been given: handpicked leaders who don't truly represent us.

With the kind of U.S. weapons that are being used in this part of the world, from white phosphorus to depleted uranium, from cluster bombs to bunker busting bombs, nothing less than the soul of my country is at stake. But for the world, it is the fate of humankind that is at stake.

The people in my country just invested their hopes for a better world and a better government in their votes for President-elect Obama. However, during an unprecedented two year Presidential campaign, the exact kind of change we are to get was never fully defined. Therefore, we the people of the United States must act now with boldness and confidence. We can set the stage for the kind of change that reflects our values.

Now is not the time for timidity. The U.S. economy is in shambles, unemployment and health insecurity are soaring, half of our young people do not even graduate from high school; college is unaffordable. The middle class that was invested in the stock market is seeing their life savings stripped from them by the hour. What we are witnessing is the pauperization of a country, in much the same way that Russia was pauperized after the fall of the Soviet Union. There are clear winners and the losers all know who they are. The attentive public in the United States is growing because of these conditions. Now is the time for our values to rise because people in the United States are now willing to listen.

So the question really is, “Which way, America?”

Today we uplift the humanity of the Palestinian people. And what I am recommending is the creation of a political movement inside my country that will constitute a surgical strike for global justice. This gathering is the equivalent of us stepping to the microphone to be heard.

We don't have to lose because we have commitment to the people.

And we don't have to lose because we refuse to compromise our core values.

We don't have to lose because we seek peace with justice and diplomacy over war.

We don't have to lose.

By committing to do some things we've never done before I'm certain that we can also have some things we've never had before.

I return to the U.S. committed to do my part to make our dream come true.

Thank you.

For more information on Cynthia McKinney please visit

~ Independent Political Report ~

Anti-torture event denounces Bush administration's policies

Newly elected State Assemblyman Bill Monning expressed optimism Saturday that President-elect Barack Obama will honor his stated commitment to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay. And, Monning is hopeful Obama will enforce the domestic and international laws that he said have been ignored by the Bush-Cheney administration.

Monning, who will be sworn in on Dec. 1 to represent California's 27th District, spoke to a small crowd assembled beneath a blue and white tent that was set up on a patch of land between Lighthouse Avenue and the Pvt. Bolio gate of the Defense Language Institute.

The three-day event, billed as an anti-torture teach-in and vigil, continues today, beginning with a community breakfast at 8 a.m., and featuring speakers throughout the day. The complete schedule can be viewed online at

Monning, a lawyer and a professor at the Monterey Institute for International Studies, said the current White House administration trampled on the United States Constitution and ignored international law in a multitude of ways, with Guantanamo being a glaring example.

"As this encampment maintains its vigil today in opposition of torture, it's important to remember all the lives that have been broken and ruined, and the violation of U.S. and international law that has precipitated the use of torture," he said. "If an international treaty is ratified by two-thirds of the U.S. Senate, it becomes domestic law. It becomes enforceable in our state and federal courts. The violations of the Bush-Cheney administration in contravening U.S. treaty obligations has violated not only international law, but our own U.S. Constitution."

Monning specifically cited the Bush administration's passage of the Military Commissions Act, which enabled the U.S. military to incarcerate more than 775 mostly-Muslim prisoners without charges and without representation.

Of those being held, Monning said three have committed suicide, 24 have died from injuries received from torture, 40 have attempted suicide, and 128 were forcibly fed while trying to fast in protest of conditions at the prison.

~ more... ~

Conversations With Chavez and Castro

We spent the next two days in Chávez's constant company, with many hours of private meetings among the four of us. In the private quarters of the president's plane, I find that on the subject of baseball Chávez's command of English soars. When Douglas asks if the Monroe Doctrine should be abolished, Chávez, wanting to choose his words carefully, reverts to Spanish to detail the nuances of his position against this doctrine, which has justified US intervention in Latin America for almost two centuries. "The Monroe Doctrine has to be broken," he says. "We've been stuck with it for over 200 years. It always gets back to the old confrontation of Monroe versus Bolívar. Jefferson used to say that America should swallow, one by one, the republics of the south. The country where you were born was based on an imperialistic attitude."

Venezuelan intelligence tells him that the Pentagon has plans for invading his country. "I know they are thinking about invading Venezuela," Chávez says. It seems he sees killing the Monroe Doctrine as a yardstick for his destiny. "Nobody again can come here and export our natural resources." Is he concerned about the US reaction to his bold statements about the Monroe Doctrine? He quotes Uruguayan freedom fighter José Gervasio Artigas: "With the truth, I don't offend or fear."

Hitchens sits quietly, taking notes throughout the conversation. Chávez recognizes a flicker of skepticism in his eye. "CREES-to-fer, ask me a question. Ask me the hardest question." They share a smile. Hitchens asks, "What's the difference between you and Fidel?" Chávez says, "Fidel is a communist. I am not. I am a social democrat. Fidel is a Marxist-Leninist. I am not. Fidel is an atheist. I am not. One day we discussed God and Christ. I told Castro, I am a Christian. I believe in the Social Gospels of Christ. He doesn't. Just doesn't. More than once, Castro told me that Venezuela is not Cuba, and we are not in the 1960s.

[ ... ]

Castro and I share a cup of tea. "Forty-six years ago today, at exactly this time of day, we mobilized troops, Alameda in the West, Fidel in Havana, me in Areda. It had been announced at noon in Washington that President Kennedy would give a speech. This was during the missile crisis. We anticipated that the speech would be a declaration of war. After his humiliation at the Bay of Pigs, the pressure of the missiles [which Castro claims were strictly defensive] would represent a great defeat to Kennedy. Kennedy would not stand with that defeat. Today we study US candidates very carefully, focusing on McCain and Obama. We look at all the old speeches. Particularly those made in Florida, where opposing Cuba has become a for-profit business for many. In Cuba we have one party, but in the US there is very little difference. Both parties are an expression of the ruling class." He says today's Miami Cuban lobby members are descendants of Batista-era wealth, or international landowners "who'd only paid pennies for their land" while Cuba had been under absolute US rule for sixty years.

"The 1959 land reform was the Rubicon of our revolution. A death sentence for our US relations." Castro seems to be sizing me up as he takes another sip of his tea. "At that moment, there was no discussion about socialism, or Cuba dealing with Russia. But the die was cast."

After the Eisenhower administration bombed two vessel-loads of guns headed for Cuba, Fidel reached out to old allies. Raúl says, "We asked Italy. No! We asked Czechoslovakia. No! Nobody would give us weapons to defend ourselves because Eisenhower had put pressure on them. So by the time we got weapons from Russia, we had no time to learn how to use them before the US attacked at the Bay of Pigs!" He laughs and excuses himself to an adjacent restroom, briefly disappearing behind a wall, only to immediately pop back into the room, joking, "At 77, this is the fault of the tea."

~ more... ~

Groups demand W.Va. plant dismantle chemical piles

A coalition of environmental groups wants Bayer to dismantle stockpiles of chemicals it says are so deadly they present a safety risk to residents near a southwestern West Virginia plant that was the site of a deadly explosion in August.

In a letter circulated Wednesday, the groups called for the removal of methyl isocyanate and phosgene from the Bayer CropScience plant located about 10 miles from Charleston. Neither was involved in the Aug. 28 explosion that killed one worker and seriously injured another.

A methyl isocyanate leak killed at least 15,000 people near a Union Carbide pesticide factory in Bhopal, India, in 1984. Phosgene was used as a weapon during World War I. Both chemicals are commonly used in pesticides and plastics.

The primary chemical involved in the explosion, methyl isobutyl ketone, is highly flammable but not especially toxic, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Nevertheless, the groups' letter said Bayer was slow in providing that information to emergency crews after the explosion.

"Local emergency responders weren't sure what to do for several hours after the blast. In case of a toxic release, thousands of residents would have been endangered," the letter said.

Bayer site leader Nick Crosby said the two chemicals that the environmental groups want gone posed no risk during the explosion, and that phosgene in particular is stored nowhere near the site of the blast.

"MIC was not involved in the incident," Crosby said Wednesday. "All of the safety systems associated with it performed perfectly."

The company does regret that it didn't communicate better in the hours immediately after the explosion, Crosby said.

~ more... ~

Theoretical map fuels Pakistani suspicions

A redrawn map of South Asia has been making the rounds among Pakistani elites. It shows their country truncated, reduced to an elongated sliver of land with the big bulk of India to the east, and an enlarged Afghanistan to the west.

That the map was first circulated as a theoretical exercise in some American neoconservative circles matters little here. It has fueled a belief among Pakistanis, including members of the armed forces, that what the United States really wants is the breakup of Pakistan, the only Muslim country with nuclear arms.

"One of the biggest fears of the Pakistani military planners is the collaboration between India and Afghanistan to destroy Pakistan," said a senior Pakistani government official involved in strategic planning who insisted on anonymity as per diplomatic custom. "Some people feel the United States is colluding in this."

That notion may strike Americans as strange coming from an ally of 50 years. But as the incoming Obama administration tries to coax greater cooperation from Pakistan in the fight against militancy, it can hardly be ignored.

This is a country where years of weak governance have left ample room for conspiracy theories of every kind. But like much such thinking anywhere, what is said frequently reveals the tender spots of a nation's psyche. Educated Pakistanis sometimes say that they are paranoid, but add that they believe they have good reason.

~ more... ~

Zippy Pronoia as an antidote to a paranoid age


Zippie is a term used to describe a person who does something for nothing, i.e. zip. Any supporter of free culture, free food, free books, free software is a zippie.

Zippies reached international prominence during the American 1972 Democratic National Convention and 1972 Republican National Convention, held in Miami Beach, Florida, when the term was silk-screened on t-shirts and worn by counter-culture activists and groups working to end the US involvement in the Vietnam War.

The origin of the word is an evolution of the term yippie, which was coined by the Youth International Party in the 1960s. In subsequent years, Zippie became a term used to describe a 1990s technoperson, in contradiction to yuppie. The modern incarnation of Zippies were an attempt by Fraser Clark and others, to create a unique subculture that combined the 1990s techno hemisphere with the 1960s earth person. The result was not always what one would expect. Various incarnations of Zippies exist, usually armed with smiley badges and outspokenly anti-Yuppie. They are mainly found in China and Japan, where various youth groups have taken up the banner left behind by the earlier groupings. They listen mainly to dance music, hang-out at clubs and drink smart drinks and fruit juice. Every now and then they come across other Zippie Tribes from across the planet and exchange music samples and leaflets.

Who is Fraser Clark?

Fraser Clark is an elder Scottish zippy who was one of the first people to recognize the synergy arising from the "festi-rave crossover", namely the merging of British New Age Travelers and Ravers under common repression and harassment from the British government.

A UK counter-culturalist since the sixties, Clark was publisher of the underground UK magazines Encyclopeadia Psychedelica international (EPi) and evolution^, in which he coined the term "Zippy". Clark was also one of the creators of the club Megatripolis in London, the zippy hangout which, in its heyday, was known as the "hottest club in London". Megatripolis was a pioneer of the "Parallel University", the concept of offering live talks by philosophers, scientists and activists (along with supporting literature) to club-goers, set to ambient musical backgrounds.

Among his many other claims to fame, Fraser Clark led the great Zippy Invasion of the U.S. in the 90s. Here is what a writer on the Florida International University Web site had to say about the Zippies:

It stands for Zen-inspired professional pagans, according to 50-year-old Fraser Clark, shamanic zippie spokesperson, club manager and editor of Encyclopedia Psychedelica (EPi), the magazine that first identified the "hippies with zip." According to EPi, a zippie is "someone who has balanced their hemispheres to achieve a fusion of the technological and the spiritual. The techno-person understands that rationality, organization, long-term planning, consistency and single-mindedness are necessary to achieve anything solid on the material level. The hippie understands that vision, individuality, spontaneity, flexibility and open-mindedness are crucial to realize anything on the spiritual scale."

Zippies are an unlikely fusion between the two sides. They are the product of UK dance-scene hedonism, cyber street tech, pagan spirituality, postpunk anarchism, and go-for-it entrepreneurism.

Along with a handful of old hippies in San Francisco, Fraser Clark has provided a continuous, and vital, link to the early days of the psychedelic community. He's been an important part of the Tribe since it first started becoming aware of itself, and his exploits continue to amuse and amaze us all.

About the Zippy Movement

There's a new and rapidly spreading cultural virus ripping through the British Isles. The symptoms of those infected include attacks of optimism, strong feelings of community, and lowered stress levels. Will their gathering in August at the Grand Canyon be the Woodstock of the '90s?

By Jules Marshall

A new and contagious cultural virus is ripping through the British Isles, a meme, an "idea with attitude." Like all successful memes, it confers advantages on its host: Those infected suffer attacks of optimism, strong feelings of community, lowered stress levels, and outbreaks of "pronoia" - the sneaking feeling one has that others are conspiring behind your back to help you.

If these were not sufficient to ensure the meme's continued spread in this mutating, anxiety-inducing age of ours, add the effects of unselfconscious dancing till dawn, a strong dose of underground hipness, and a belief that technology can - indeed, should - be put to the furtherance of hedonistic and spiritual goals. What we have here is a major player in the premillennial cultural meme pool, and a loose-knit movement of folks who aim to change the world - while having the best time of their lives. Cyber-crusties, techno-hippies, post-ravers - the British media have tried pinning various compound names to its members.

But one name stands out, maybe because it was designed to. And for the moment it's sticking: zippies. It stands for Zen-inspired professional pagans, according to 50-year-old Fraser Clark, shamanic zippie spokesperson, club manager and editor of Encyclopedia Psychedelica (EPi), the magazine that first identified the "hippies with zip." According to EPi, a zippie is "someone who has balanced their hemispheres to achieve a fusion of the technological and the spiritual. The techno-person understands that rationality, organization, long-term planning, consistency and single-mindedness are necessary to achieve anything solid on the material level. The hippie understands that vision, individuality, spontaneity, flexibility and open-mindedness are crucial to realize anything on the spiritual scale."

Zippies are an unlikely fusion between the two sides. They are the product of UK dance-scene hedonism, cyber street tech, pagan spirituality, postpunk anarchism, and go-for-it entrepreneurism. As a movement, the zippie scene might never have passed childhood to reach its current state of maturity had Margaret "Nanny" Thatcher not been determined to beat some values (hers) into two very different (to the point of mutual antipathy) groups of recalcitrant citizens. These were folks who refused to bend the knee: so-called New Age travellers (or crusties) and ravers (house music enthusiasts).

Now, the zippies are planning the most radical musical invasion of America since the Beatles and the Stones first kicked up the shit 30 years ago. More radical in fact, since what is being offered is an entire cultural attitude, a postcyberpunk, postconsumerist way of life. If you've got nothing better to do (and who does?!), plan on heading to the Grand Canyon this August. Woodstock revivals won't hold a candle to the zippie invasion of 1994.

Travelling Blues

Throughout the '80s, the travellers - basically a seminomadic cross between a Gypsy and a hippie - suffered systematic state brutality on a scale not witnessed in Britain in decades. The most famous incident was the Beanfield Massacre in 1985, where several hundred travellers were driven into a field near Stonehenge by police and army, their ancient lorries and caravans trashed, pets rounded up and destroyed, children and women harassed, and all men beaten and arrested.

This incident was not without prelude. In the late '60s, a free rock festival was held annually at Windsor, just outside London. By 1971 this had become so popular and was considered so close to the capital as to be a major source of anxiety to the government. The police banned the festival, and the people associated with it looked elsewhere to continue the tradition. They chose Stonehenge: It is miles from anywhere, it is one of the most revered sites in Europe, and it provides a killer backdrop for a rock festival.

Fraser Clark went to Stonehenge in the early 1970s. "I kind of came 'round the corner expecting to see a communal food tent and a few hippies, but there in front of me was what looked like the whole Cherokee nation: teepees as far as the eye could see."

The festival, designed to coincide with the summer solstice, rapidly extended into a monthlong love-in, police-free zone, and proto-anarchist community. Travellers formed convoys of up to 100 lorries to move around the country afterwards, from fair to fair selling food, crafts, and drugs as they went. "It was a pretty lawless place," says Clark. The cops never came - if they did, a bunch of kids would immediately turn over their vans. There was every drug under the sun openly available - but it really worked, and people started to think, 'What the fuck do we need the government for anyway?' "

But during the '80s, the government came back with a vengeance. Each year the festival was banned and access to Stonehenge prevented - even to bona fide practicing Druids.

The government didn't ignore the ravers either. Since the "acid house" media scare of what the British style magazines still refer to wistfully as the Summer of Love (1988), ravers and rave organizers were treated in a similarly brutal fashion. During "The Summer of Love," Britain took two US imports - ecstasy and house music - added large doses of street style and attitude, and created the most explosive new dimension to popular culture since punk. Tens of thousands of kids headed out past London's M25 orbital ring road to country raves - hence the "orbital rave explosion" as it is also known. The press picked up on the name, "acid house" (coined in Detroit and Chicago, and referring to the music's squelchy bleeps and "acid" sound), assumed it was connected with psychedelics (right idea, wrong drug), and fanned a huge backlash from the government.

Raised on entrepreneurial spirit, here were model capitalists taking in up to UKpounds 200,000 a night: Using only fax and answering machines, mobile phones, and toll-free numbers, they played cat-and-mouse with police every weekend all over the country and brought up to 20,000 kids together in a field at a few hours' notice.

Instead of awarding them Thatcher Awards for Enterprise, the government banned the whole thing, attacking ravers with the same thuggishness they were simultaneously directing at the travellers. Expensive equipment was trashed or impounded, party-goers beaten up.

The crime shared by travellers and ravers: Defying the British government by having unsanctioned fun smack in the rural Tory-voting heartland of England. Primal fears of violation by unwashed intruders were compounded by the worry that Britain's children might run off and join them.

Hippie Wisdom, Raving Savvy

By the end of the '80s, travellers and ravers were coming into increasing contact, at huge outdoor festivals like Glastonbury and in London venues like Club Dog and Whirl-y-Gig. "We'd all been to Stonehenge and been inspired," says Michael Dog, founder of Club Dog. "We wanted to recycle that vibe for the winter in London. When the government killed off the festi-scene, we were left as a repository of '60s values - like a zoo."

Club Dog had always been an acquired taste, but when house music came along, the club gave it serious attention: In fact, Club Dog now runs a packed dance-oriented offshoot, Megadog. "We're not tied to style and pretension," says Dog. "We'd all been into Kraftwerk and synthesizer stuff. Dance music was from the same head space, so it was natural to move into it."

At first there was mutual hostility. To many travellers, ravers were just a bunch of ecstasy-chomping city brats driving out to the countryside, messing things up for them, and playing soulless synthesizer music. Hell, most ravers had never seen a cow in their lives. To the ravers, the crusties were, well, crusty: scruffy hippies, rural van-dwelling squatters into dub reggae, industrial noise, and folk music.

But contact (and shared government harassment) broke down ignorance and spawned the zippie fusion. At one Glastonbury festival, Mixmaster Morris, an ambient-techno pioneer, found that neighboring campers were threatening to firebomb his bus if he played one note of techno. But by the time he finished his set, the same neighbors gushed: He had played the best music they had ever heard at a festival.

Then in May 1992, a smallish festival of hippies/crusties near Castlemorton found itself swamped by 30,000 ravers. The big draw was Spiral Tribe, an amorphous hardcore collective of more than a dozen squatters with a simple guerrilla philosophy: to play music as loud as possible for as long as possible. For four days and nights, that's what happened - hard, trancy house music mixed on the fly. The police let them onto Castlemorton because it was "common ground" - English legal tradition guarantees that all citizens have access to it.

But it wasn't long before the cops cracked down. As local politicians called for the paramilitaries, police helicopters hovered over the crowd day and night - drawing fire from distress flares and crossbows. Zippies are unashamedly psychedelic - hash spliffs, ecstasy, acid, mushrooms, and for the hip and well-connected, DMT. This penchant for mind-benders is partly to blame for the Establishment crackdown.

Ten members of Spiral Tribe were arrested and charged with "conspiracy to cause a public nuisance," which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. At Wired's press time, the UKpounds 4 million showcase trial was due to end, and Parliament was pushing through the Criminal Justice Bill, which, if passed, will make squatting illegal and allow police to disperse any crowd of ten or more people who look ready to "do something." (The bill will give squatters 24 hours notice to get out or be prosecuted; this, incidentally, breaches the European Convention of Human Rights and Freedoms, according to Liberty, Britain's civil rights campaign group.)

The Fusion

"Before zippies we had all these silly fragmented subcults not talking to each other," says Clark. "Hippies had dwindled to a few thousand around the country. I told them the ravers are our reinforcements, and they arrived just in time.

"The bottom line is unity. You have to have all types of people into it, then the powers can't pick us off. Also, a mix of ages is very important, to blend experience with enthusiasm."

Morris agrees: "Squatting, travelling - anything but being a bank clerk will soon be illegal. The example and wisdom of hippies proves to the young raver that there is an alternative and an opposition. The government has driven raves out of business in the last two years, and they're still taking people out for underground parties they organized three years ago. People have gone to prison for ten years and no one raised a finger."

Steve Hillage, former rock guitarist and founder (with Dr. Alex "The Orb" Patterson) of the zippie band System 7 says: "Rock used to be a revolutionary and progressive force, but for the last five years ambient/ dance music is where the progressive, experimental work has been revived."

Hillage, who grew up in the '60s, sees a positive element to dance culture: "Out of the awful materialism of the '80s this wonderful scene has emerged. I don't parallel it with the hippie movement, but I get a lot of the same feelings as when I was growing up. All different types of people there with a spirit of oneness. A lot of what is good about the UK scene is what was claimed to be good about the '60s, only this time it's real, not skin deep."

"The zippie movement has more positive energy and enthusiasm than anything else I've ever seen," confirmed Rose Roffe, a 69-year-old "Raving Granny" I met at the prime zippie nexus, Megatripolis. Cyberpunk critic Vivian Sobchak says zippies not only eschew the drippy technophobia of the original hippies but also avoid the "selfish, consumer-oriented and technologically dependent libertarianism" and "romantic, swashbuckling, irresponsible individualism" of cyberpunk.

"There is a world of difference between zippies and the cyberpunks," says Clark, who calls the latter isolated, alienated, and separated. "Cyberpunk was a mere prelude," he continues. "A zippie feels the terror and promise of the planet's situation and is prepared to use anything short of violence - magic, technology, entrepreneurial skill - to create a new age in as short a time as possible."

Zippiedom has become a deliberately broad church: It embraces the multinational businessman taking yoga classes as well as the hippie couple making candles to sell at festivals, the New Age traveller with a PC running off his bus's dynamo and the raver looking for a more meaningful buzz than ecstasy. "We need the maximum number of people to change in the shortest possible time. The best way is to make the alternative fashionable," says Clark. "There are no 'wrong reasons' for becoming a zippie."

To introduce the emerging scene to itself, Clark and his Evolution posse (the group that organizes zippie events, taking their name from Evolution, the now defunct descendent of EPi) established the Megatripolis club. Starting small, it rapidly outgrew its Soho venue, and 4,000 would-be raving zippies were turned away upon its reopening last October. The Thursday I went, I met a female professional gambler who "cultivates her intuition," a middle-aged lawyer, school kids, exchange students, graphic designers, and squatters. Part lecture hall, part Indian bazaar, part medieval courtyard, part pleasure dome, Megatripolis offers early evening talks by zippie thinkers (they call it "Parallel University"), trippy visuals upstairs, and ambient dance or a percussion jam in the "Virtualitiroom," where a bunch of Macs run the latest interactive demo from The Shamen or grainy graphics off some kid's floppy.


The next day, I'm reminded by Matt Black of the zippie multimedia group Hex (see Wired 2.03, p. 90) that the UK is "still in the Stone Age of personal computing. Hardware costs twice as much as in the States and is two years out of date. But we do have a strong rave culture."

Against all odds, technophobic Britain, the home of C.P. Snow's Two Cultures (where science has consistently been dissed by the liberal arts elite), is actually learning to love technology. Nerds, for the first time in living memory, are cool. "I spent my first twenty years as a hippie trying to get away from the techno side of things," says Fraser Clark. Now he's getting a modem for his PC.

"This is the strongest cultural force," says Hex's Black. "Maybe the force which will bring about the revolution in consciousness - which is what we are aiming at."

Almost entirely invisible to (arts-biased) politicians on the left and right, the UK has somehow developed the most creative bunch of software gamers outside the US, a huge explosion of independent TV production companies (in response to a late '80s boom in satellite and cable services, coupled with the rise of independents and the downsizing of the BBC). Britain, the first and most deregulated of the European telecoms, is in the process of laying the most advanced telecom infrastructure in the world - a testing ground for Baby Bell executives - where TV and phone traffic have been allowed on the same network since 1991.

But it's the huge dance culture that is the driving force and aesthetic polestar of this emerging techno-savvy British youth. More than a million people go to raves in the UK each week, diverting 2 billion pounds a year away from pubs, as a report from the Henley Centre think tank warned last year. "We are seeing nothing less than the rise of a new industry to replace the dead one that has not produced jobs," says Brian Davis, former journalist and organizer of the Cyberseed festival at South London's top club, The Fridge, last November. "TV is not feeding us what we want; there's no reason to stay at home. We're not pushing vinyl, but a complete culture. Can Sony or Philips do this?"

No they can't. But zippies are not so naive as to expect them not to try to profit from what will inevitably be seen as another slice of market demographics. But as Michael Dog points out, "We've been ripped off so many times we're naturally sussed against corporatism."

Although evolution, not revolution, informs the zippie agenda, its submemes ensure that zippies will inevitably continue to come into conflict with the powers that be. "The political content of dance music is intrinsic," Will Sinnott, of the early zippie band The Shamen pointed out two weeks before his 1991 death. "It stimulates ego-role behavior reduction, offering the experience of unity and affinity with others. This experience invalidates liberal, individualistic ideology and creates true political opposition."

Zippie music is rhythmically rather than lyrically oriented - it really is in the music that the transformation occurs. Among the trancy reverb and sampled vocabulary of popular zippie songs can be found a Terence McKenna riff on goddesses, ecology, and the shamanic revival - and this woman's voice: "You can control some of the people all of the time; you can control all the people some of the time, but you can't control all the people all the fucking time."

"Thatcher did us a favor," says Michael Dog. "There's been a rejection of the control structure at the same time that the technology has appeared for us to remain totally independent. Fulfillment now comes not from political adherence but by not voting, in fact by having nothing to do with the system."

The pagan roots revival that the travellers brought to the zippie movement is fundamentally at odds with the government's insistence on Judeo-Christian pub culture and 11 p.m. bedtimes, no matter how hard the police crack down. Interest in the New Age is more than passive; it's rooted in a darker, indigenous Celtic/Nordic shamanism revival that has become increasingly politicized.

How big can it get? The number of people aware of the zippie concept is growing exponentially: The Independent newspaper claims there are 60,000 squatters and 40,000 travellers in Britain, and that's just the hard core. Clark estimates there are 200,000 zippies in the UK alone.

Will it take similar hold in the US? We'll see, Clark says. "Britain is socially and politically the most fucked up of the Western Democracies, the most divided by youth cults," says Clark. "Hippies never died out in the US, were never out of fashion the way they were here." This left intellectual ghettoes, resistant to the suggestion that a techno-based spiritualism could emerge from superficial dance culture. Clark was "flabbergasted at how far behind the US was" when he visited. "There's no infrastructure. Raving is more than music - there's a whole lifestyle. But toeholds exist in San Francisco and toeholds can lead to crazes, and suddenly it's massive."

See for yourself: Clark's "Megatripolis Advance Party" will host its free, annual megarave at the Rainbow Gathering at the Grand Canyon in Arizona August 1-15 (for info or to schedule a visit from them to your festival, contact Evolution, PO Box 833, London NW6, UK; +44 (71) 624 9276. Up to 60,000 people are expected. In a year when yuppie has-beens are going to fork over anywhere from US$150 to $5,000 dollars to relive a few fantasies (seated) at the two competing Woodstock anniversaries (festival organizers are targeting 250,000 and 40,000, respectively, at separate revivals on and near Yasgur's farm), maybe this is where the true spirit of the '60s will be found, but with a hard-nosed '90s realism.

"The recession forced us to cooperate," says Clark. "People are now prepared to listen to an alternative view. They may not agree, but, before, they had no reason to listen; the system was working from their point of view. The difference between zippies and hippies is that, this time, we're starting from halfway up the mountain."

How To Be a Zippy


Besides the obvious psychedelic heroes (Timothy Leary, Alexander Shulgin, John C. Lilly, and Terence McKenna), zippies have a fondness for paradigm-challenging folk scientists (Rupert Sheldrake, Richard Dawkins, Benoit Mandelbrot, Werner Heisenberg, and Douglas Hofstadter). Spiritual guidance comes from East and West, courtesy of Julian of Norwich, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and Shiva, among others. There's a distrust of the "twittering commercialism" of the US New Age scene.

Serena Roney-Dougal's Where Science and Magic Meet and Monica Sjoeo's The New Age and Armaggedon are currently popular. Marshall McLuhan gets the respect he deserves, as does intelligent fantasy author and one-time Hawkwind lyricist Michael Moorcock. So does Sid Rawls, for being the traveller spokesman and the media's favorite bogeyman.


More cutting edge and less commercial than The Face, the style mag with a heart, i-D, has given zippie issues their only mainstream airing. i-D has beaten the pack, being the first in the UK to cover subjects from cyberpunk and chaos theory to the rise of pagan anti-road communities. As a national clubbing guide it's second to none, and check out the ahead-of-its time fashion coverage: +44 (71) 813 6170, fax +44 (71) 813 6179. The Independent daily newspaper is increasing its coverage of zippie issues and personalities, while zippie 'zines include Zippy Times +44 (71) 624 9276; Mind Food, +44 (81) 693 9903; Head; Dream Creation, +44 (71) 226 9874; Pod, and Tribal Messenger. A zippie-esque BBS is Black Dog Towers, run by Black Dog Productions (some of the most innovative so-called 'intelligent techno' artists around). It features articles on paganism, anarchism, music, etc. Address: direct dial in: +44 (81) 983 3472, Internet address: Preferred zippie medium: word of mouth.


With so many influences from such diverse backgrounds and ages, zippie music covers a wide and wonderful spectrum. There's very chilled-out ambient-techno: Irresistible Force, Aphex Twin, William Orbit, Astralasia, Future Sound of London, Higher Intelligence Agency, Pete Namlook and party organizers Telepathic Fish. Better-known early zippie favorites The Orb and The Shamen are a little too poppy now, while some find the KLF pranksters a little tiresome. Also in the mix: hippie icons who saw the light (System 7, Ozric Tentacles and Hawkwind, remixing at last) and more dancey stuff (D.I.Y., Spooky); House-guitar crossover acts (Banco de Gaia, Transglobal Underground, Seefeel); tribal beats (anything with a didgeridoo in it, Dervish samples, or Moroccan ululating); techno-dub reggae; or, most spectacularly, the holistic approach to live entertainment pioneered by The Shamen's Synergy tour in 1989 and 1990 and continued by Eat Static: in-yer-face lighting, live video mixing, hand-painted backdrops and hangings, dancers, and megastrobes. Record labels: Guerilla, Warp, Rising High, and Planet Dog Records. For clubs, try Whirl-y-Gig club (no number) recommended with Megadog +44 (81) 809 7194 and Megatripolis/Evolution +44 (71) 624 9276.


Zippies are not a cult and have no uniform by which one can recognize them. In the clubs, on the street, or at the festival, anything goes as long as it's you - and what's that? Postmodern, postcommercial but not averse to fashion per se: guerrilla consumers already living at the end of history. Appropriated labels, logos, and slogans; typographical-pun T-shirts ('Groover' in Hoover script); combat gear; soccer shirts from the '70s; Tank Girl look; androgynous postapocalyptic or neo-hippie; the latest club look; the math nerd look; even a shirt and tie.


Stonehenge, Glastonbury, and other holy sites of Albion (ancient Britain); the Indian province of Goa; Thailand; San Francisco; Amsterdam; and North Wales during the magic mushroom season.

Jules Marshall ( is an editor of Mediamatic, an Amsterdam-based techno-culture magazine. He thanks to Karen, Amanda, Mark, and Emily for floor space; and Jennifer at Club Dog.


"There is no stronger army in all the world than an idea whose time has come."
- Victor Hugo, 1870

The first modern use* of the word pronoia I can trace occurred during the psychedelic 1960s and 1970s - following a charismatic smile from John Perry Barlow. The EFF co-founder, Grateful Dead lyricist, and grizzled veteran of both Millbrook and Haight-Ashbury defined pronoia as:

the suspicion the Universe is a conspiracy
on your behalf.

The word was revived in the public mediasphere in early Spring 1994, when several members of a British and European bohemian subculture loosely known as zippies empathized with the pronoia concept and took it as a banner. It was agreed among these veteran ravers and festival-crusties that the American cyberhippy Barlow's interpretation of a "universal origin" of pronoia was definitely an element of the vibe they were experiencing there in the early 1990s.

As an exercise in memetics, the zippies declared with joy that on the terrestrial level, pronoia should be defined as the opposite of paranoia:

the sneaking suspicion others are conspiring to help you
(and you them!)

The pronoia meme was kick-started by the American magazine Wired when the influential 90's cyberculture journal featured UK zippy culture as it's May 1994 cover feature, plastering the zippies' definition of pronoia across several pages of its opening theme. Pronoia was also the perfect conceptual theme for a group of zippies preparing for a summer as ambassadors on a Zippy Pronoia Tour. The troupe caravaned across the ocean to North America, sharing the pronoia idea, celebrating genuine organic culture with Americans in a festival tour of communities from New York to California.

Time passed. Then, at the turn of the millennium, astrologer and poet Rob Brezsny wrote a wonderful, topical pronoia poem entitled Painful Blessings, which deserves reading all the way through!

A final thought on Pronoia: while symptoms of Pronoia include sudden attacks of optimism and outbreaks of goodwill, the revived meme also included a caution. Pronoia, like paranoia, can cause dangerous irrationality if taken in massive doses... grounding and skill at surfing are key to making the most of an onslought of pronoia.


It was brought to our attention several years ago, via e-mail by Mr. Fred H. Golder, that he believes HE in fact deserves credit for the revival of the word Pronoia in 1982. To his point, offers a taste of his serious academic paper here. Writing at Queens College in October 1982 (in SOCIAL PROBLEMS,V.30,N.1:82-91), Mr. Golder summarizes:

"Pronoia is the positive counterpart of paranoia. It is the delusion that others think well of one. Actions and the products of one's efforts are thought to be well received and praised by others. Mere acquaintances are thought to be close friends; politeness and the exchange of pleasantries are taken as expressions of deep attachment and the promise of future support. Pronoia appears rooted in the social complexity and cultural ambiguity of our lives: we have become increasingly dependent on the opinions of others based on uncertain criteria."

Our response: Well, maybe feelings of pronoia are always just a "delusion"... or maybe Mr. Golder just hasn't gotten the vibe? :-) Seriously, it seems to us as if this pop-psych definition of the word Pronoia holds up a dysfunctional and delusional minority to a scientific zoom lense, and reports the view as if it were an accurate representation of the larger youth phenomenon. disagrees with this basic premise.

~ For the latest, see Fraser Clark's Parallel Youniversity ~

Sources: Contractor for military committed serious violations

A contractor providing services to the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan has committed serious violations of its contract, mainly by conducting inadequate inspections of electrical wiring and grounding at American bases, according to Pentagon sources.

The Pentagon findings on Houston, Texas-based KBR stem from the widely publicized death of Sgt. Ryan Maseth, a highly decorated 24-year-old Green Beret from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Maseth was electrocuted while taking a shower at his base in Baghdad.

His January 2 death was just one of many deaths now believed to be linked to shoddy electrical work done at U.S. bases, managed by U.S. contractors, according to Pentagon sources.

The Pentagon's Defense Contract Management Agency recently gave KBR a "Level III Corrective Action Request" -- issued only when a contractor is found in "serious noncompliance" and just one step below the possibility of suspending or terminating a contract, Pentagon officials said.

In KBR's case, it means that the contractor's inspections and efforts to ensure electrical safety for troops have been unacceptable, and must be significantly improved, Pentagon sources told CNN.

Just after Maseth's electrocution, Pentagon officials estimated that about a dozen troops had been electrocuted in Iraq. But Pentagon officials now say at least 18 troops have been electrocuted since 2003 -- many due to faulty wiring and improper grounding.

The number could be higher than that when Afghanistan is included, say congressional sources.

[ ... ]

Danielle Brian, the executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, a Washington-based watchdog group, said accountability is needed, but difficult to come by when KBR's contract is so integral to the Iraq war.

"The problem, of course, is it's such a big contract," Brian said. "The government's in a place -- the Pentagon's in a place where they say, 'How can we suspend KBR? They're sort of running the show over there.' "

"It's so big -- it's too big to cancel that contract or suspend them from future contracts," she added.

Brian said the action against KBR amounts to "nothing more than a slap on the wrist" for a company with an estimated $24 billion contract for its work in Iraq. She pointed out that KBR's government contract is paid for by U.S. taxpayers.

~ more... ~

A ''seamless transition'' to endless war

President-elect Barack Obama appeared Sunday on the CBS program “60 Minutes” for his first televised interview since his November 4 election victory.

He covered a wide range of subjects with a lack of specificity and a placid tone that suggested someone who had read through stacks of briefing books, but had few defined positions of his own and was above all anxious to offend no one.

When asked what he had been “concentrating on” in the past week, however, his answer was unhesitating: “Number one, I think it's important to get a national security team in place because transition periods are potentially times of vulnerability to a terrorist attack. We want to make sure that there is as seamless a transition on national security as possible.”

A “seamless transition on national security”; the phrase is well worth pondering, given the strategy and policy pursued by the administration that will be handing over power to an incoming Obama administration.

The Bush administration enunciated a clear national security policy that became known as the Bush Doctrine. Essentially, it proclaimed the “right” of the US government to attack preemptively any country it believes might pose a military threat to the United States. Underlying this formally stated policy of aggressive war lay the determination of the US ruling elite to advance its monopolization of wealth and power through war abroad and repression at home.

The Bush doctrine was the political expression of an explosion of American militarism, leading to the continuing wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as a series of military strikes against a number of other countries, including Pakistan, Syria, Somalia and Yemen.

“National security” and the “global war on terrorism” were likewise invoked as the justification for criminal policies that have included kidnapping, extraordinary rendition, torture and imprisonment without trial.

Obama's determination to effect a “seamless transition” in this area would appear to fly in the face of the fact that his electoral victory is owed in large measure to the popular revulsion aroused by these policies. If there were anywhere that the electorate might expect to see “seams”—i.e., disparities, interruptions and discontinuity—it would be here.

Yet, even in the run-up to the election, Obama repeatedly made clear that his differences with Bush were of a tactical rather than a strategic or principled character. He tacitly embraced the policy of preventative war, implying that he would employ it both to strike at targets inside Pakistan and to preempt Iran's alleged quest for nuclear weapons.

And as the transition process advances, it is becoming increasingly clear that—tactical differences over US foreign policy notwithstanding—the pursuit of the global strategic aims of America's financial oligarchy by means of military aggression and international criminality is not about to come to end when Obama enters the White House in January.

Rather, the change in administrations is seen within the ruling establishment as a means of bringing about changes that will make American militarism more effective while providing, in the person of Obama, a better political cover for the pursuit of American capitalism's worldwide interests.

~ more... ~

Solar panel graves power town

25 Nov, 2008

Solar panels have been placed on top of graves in a town outside Barcelona - turning the cemetery into a supply hub for renewable energy.

Santa Coloma de Gramenet has little sun-drenched open land and consequently the graveyard was chosen for the 462 panels that service the local energy grid. The panels rest on mausoleums holding five layers of coffins, and face almost due south to soak up maximum sunshine.

The project was conceived three years ago as a way of utilizing an ideal stretch of land in a cramped town that wanted solar energy. As Santa Coloma's population of 124,000 has just four square kilometers of land there is little space to house the solar panels. Town hall and cemetery officials waged a public awareness campaign to explain the worthiness of the project and, after approval; the panels were erected at a low angle so as to be as unobtrusive as possible.

The cemetery houses the remains of about 57,000 people and the panels cover less than 5 percent of the total surface area. While costing US$1.45 million to install each year the solar panels will keep about 62 tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere.

~ Daily Planet Media ~

Ask the cave man

Cooking the History Books: The Thanksgiving Massacre

Is All That Turkey and Stuffing a Celebration of Genocide?

By Laura Elliff, Vice President, Native American Student Association
26 Nov, 2008

Thanksgiving is a holiday where families gather to share stories, football games are watched on television and a big feast is served. It is also the time of the month when people talk about Native Americans. But does one ever wonder why we celebrate this national holiday? Why does everyone give thanks?

History is never simple. The standard history of Thanksgiving tells us that the "Pilgrims and Indians" feasted for three days, right? Most Americans believe that there was some magnificent bountiful harvest. In the Thanksgiving story, are the "Indians" even acknowledged by a tribe? No, because everyone assumes "Indians" are the same. So, who were these Indians in 1621?

In 1620, Pilgrims arrived on the Mayflower naming the land Plymouth Rock. One fact that is always hidden is that the village was already named Patuxet and the Wampanoag Indians lived there for thousands of years. To many Americans, Plymouth Rock is a symbol. Sad but true many people assume, "It is the rock on which our nation began." In 1621, Pilgrims did have a feast but it was not repeated years thereafter. So, it wasn't the beginning of a Thanksgiving tradition nor did Pilgrims call it a Thanksgiving feast. Pilgrims perceived Indians in relation to the Devil and the only reason why they were invited to that feast was for the purpose of negotiating a treaty that would secure the lands for the Pilgrims. The reason why we have so many myths about Thanksgiving is that it is an invented tradition. It is based more on fiction than fact.

So, what truth ought to be taught? In 1637, the official Thanksgiving holiday we know today came into existence. (Some people argue it formally came into existence during the Civil War, in 1863, when President Lincoln proclaimed it, which also was the same year he had 38 Sioux hung on Christmas Eve.) William Newell, a Penobscot Indian and former chair of the anthropology department of the University of Connecticut, claims that the first Thanksgiving was not "a festive gathering of Indians and Pilgrims, but rather a celebration of the massacre of 700 Pequot men, women and children." In 1637, the Pequot tribe of Connecticut gathered for the annual Green Corn Dance ceremony. Mercenaries of the English and Dutch attacked and surrounded the village; burning down everything and shooting whomever try to escape. The next day, Newell notes, the Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony declared: "A day of Thanksgiving, thanking God that they had eliminated over 700 men, women and children." It was signed into law that, "This day forth shall be a day of celebration and thanksgiving for subduing the Pequots." Most Americans believe Thanksgiving was this wonderful dinner and harvest celebration. The truth is the "Thanksgiving dinner" was invented both to instill a false pride in Americans and to cover up the massacre.

Was Thanksgiving really a massacre of 700 "Indians"? The present Thanksgiving may be a mixture of the 1621 three-day feast and the "Thanksgiving" proclaimed after the 1637 Pequot massacre. So next time you see the annual "Pilgrim and Indian display" in a shopping window or history about other massacres of Native Americans, think of the hurt and disrespect Native Americans feel. Thanksgiving is observed as a day of sorrow rather than a celebration. This year at Thanksgiving dinner, ponder why you are giving thanks.

William Bradford, in his famous History of the Plymouth Plantation, celebrated the Pequot massacre:

"Those that scraped the fire were slaine with the sword; some hewed to peeces, others rune throw with their rapiers, so as they were quickly dispatchte, and very few escapted. It was conceived they thus destroyed about 400 at this time. It was a fearful sight to see them thus frying in the fyer, and the streams of blood quenching the same, and horrible was the stincke and sente there of, but the victory seemed a sweete sacrifice, and they gave the prayers thereof to God, who had wrought so wonderfully for them, thus to inclose their enemise in their hands, and give them so speedy a victory over so proud and insulting an enimie."

The Pequot massacre came after the colonists, angry at the murder of an English trader suspected by the Pequots of kidnapping children, sought revenge. rather than fighting the dangerous Pequot warriors, John Mason and John Underhill led a group of colonists and Native allies to the Indian fort in Mystic, and killed the old men, women, and children who were there. Those who escaped were later hunted down. The Pequot tribe numbered 8,000 when the Pilgrims arrived, but disease had brought their numbers down to 1,500 by 1637. The Pequot "War" killed all but a handful of remaining members of the tribe.

Proud of their accomplishments, Underhill wrote a book (above) depicted the burning of the village, and even made an illustration (below) showing how they surrounded the village to kill all within it.

- John K. Wilson

~ Independent Media Center ~

A Thanksgiving Prayer by William S. Burroughs

Thanks for the wild turkey and
the passenger pigeons, destined
to be shit out through wholesome
American guts.

Thanks for a continent to despoil
and poison.

Thanks for Indians to provide a
modicum of challenge and

Thanks for vast herds of bison to
kill and skin leaving the
carcasses to rot.

Thanks for bounties on wolves
and coyotes.

Thanks for the American dream,
To vulgarize and to falsify until
the bare lies shine through.

Thanks for the KKK.

For nigger-killin' lawmen,
feelin' their notches.

For decent church-goin' women,
with their mean, pinched, bitter,
evil faces.

Thanks for "Kill a Queer for
Christ" stickers.

Thanks for laboratory AIDS.

Thanks for Prohibition and the
war against drugs.

Thanks for a country where
nobody's allowed to mind the
own business.

Thanks for a nation of finks.

Yes, thanks for all the
memories-- all right let's see
your arms!

You always were a headache and
you always were a bore.

Thanks for the last and greatest
betrayal of the last and greatest
of human dreams.

Financial Meltdown: You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet

By Mike Whitney
Global Research, 25 Nov, 2008

"The problems we face today cannot be solved by the minds that created them"
  Albert Einstein 
Obama hasn't even been sworn in yet, and already the Wall Street cheerleaders are celebrating his first great triumph. According the pundits, the stock market staged a surprise 494 point rally on Friday because--get this--it was announced that Timothy Geithner would be appointed Obama's Treasury Secretary. 
Timothy who?
What nonsense. The sudden turn-around in stocks had a lot more to do with short-covering than anything else, but don't let that get in the way of a good story.  Even so, the last minute surge on the NYSE couldn't stop another week-long bloodbath that ended with the Dow and S&P 500 tumbling another 5 percent. That's not to say that Geithner is not bright and talented guy. He is; and so is his White House counterpart, Lawrence Summers. But the media hype is way overdone. Geithner doesn't drive the markets and he isn't "change you can believe in". In fact, he's a protege of Henry Kissinger, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and has the same political pedigree as his predecessor, Henry Paulson. They're both part of the ruling fraternity and their views of the world are nearly identical.  There's no doubt that Geithner will be more competent and effective than Paulson but, then again, who wouldn't be? Paulson may be the biggest flop at Treasury since Andrew Mellon steered the country onto the reef during the Great Depression. The recent flap over the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) just proves the point. After convincing Congress to pass a $700 billion bailout plan--by invoking the specter of economic Armageddon and martial law--the former G-Sax chairman proceeded to set up a program for buying back mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and other junk paper from his banking buddies. Paulson argued that removing the crappy loans would help the banks get back on their feet and start lending again. Of course, no one could really figure out how the process was going to be executed, but maybe that's just nit-picking.  Fortunately, Paulson never got a chance carry out his plan. He was torpedoed by the stock market which plunged seven days in a row losing nearly 20 percent of its value until Paulson threw in the towel and did what 200 economists had suggested from the very beginning---buy preferred shares in the banks so they could rev-up their credit engines again.  
Will Geithner be that stubborn? Not likely. And Paulson is a hard-nosed class warrior, too. Notice how every dime of the bailout has gone to banksters while all the efforts to provide relief to autoworkers, consumers or struggling homeowners have been blocked. Anyone who isn't in the upper 1 percent income bracket can forget about getting a helping hand.  
Paulson shoveled $25 billion to Citigroup without even sending in the regulators to see if they were solvent or not. How smart was that? Citi's stock has dropped 93% from its all-time high in May 2007 and ended Friday at a measly $3.77 per share. Its market cap. has gone from $280 billion to a skinny $20 billion in less than a year. Without a lifeline from the government, they won't make it through December; the short-sellers will carve them up like a smoked ham. Will Paulson come to Citi's rescue with more public cash? Absolutely. So why won't he support a similar bailout for the Big Three auto-makers who employ nearly a million people?
There was a clue in Sunday's paper as to why Paulson is stiffing the car companies.  According to UPI : 
"GMAC Financial Services said Thursday it had applied to the U.S. Federal Reserve for bank holding company status, a step toward securing federal aid. The auto and home financing company said it had also submitted an application to the U.S. Treasury to participate in the Capital Purchase Program set up in the $700 billion financial firm bailout program known as the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act.
"As a bank holding company, GMAC would obtain increased flexibility and stability," the company said in a statement." (UPI)
So why would GMAC want to become a bank holding company if General Motors is headed for the chopping block? Could it be that the government is working out a secret deal with management to put the company through Chapter 11 (reorganization) just so it can crush the union and eliminate their pension and health care benefits in one fell swoop? 
You bet. Car workers will be reduced to slave wages just like they are in sunny Alabama where sharecropping has moved indoors. And--no surprise--the Democrats are right on board with this labor-busting charade. The auto industry isn't going to be shut down. That's just more fear-mongering like the blather about martial law and WMD. Detroit is going to be transformed into a workers gulag; Siberia on Lake Michigan, which is why Paulson is withholding the $25 billion. It's plain old class warfare.  
Paulson has tried to spread the myth that his bailout eased the credit crunch, but it's not true. The stress in the credit markets was caused by very precise factors (Libor, the TED Spread, OIS-Libor) which were intentionally allowed to rise to perilous levels so Paulson could coerce Congress into giving him his bailout loot. It wasn't until Congress caved in that the FED addressed those market indicators by (setting up a new facility and) providing an explicit government guarantee on commercial paper and money markets. That's what made Libor go down, not Paulson's misguided TARP program which did absolutely nothing. 
So, Yes, the banks do need to be recapitalized. But, No,  TARP did not address the specific conditions in the credit markets which were causing the problems. And, Yes, Congress is too blind to see that they were duped by a top-hat Wall Street land-shark who pulled the wool over their eyes and made off with $350 billion.  
Geithner will never engage in the same cynical antics as Paulson. It was Paulson who set up the Super SIV (Structured Investment Vehicle) after 2 Bear Stearns hedge funds blew up so he could help Citigroup and other financial institutions pawn-off their off-balance sheets garbage to investors by placing the US treasury's seal of approval on the rotten paper; another shameless rip-off shrink-wrapped in the Stars and Stripes.
Paulson's "Hope Now" (1-888-995-HOPE) was another scam that was supposed to help banks and homeowners work out the details for a rate freeze on mortgage resets. Paulson assured the public that 500,000 homeowners would take advantage of the program which would dramatically reduce rate of foreclosures. As it stands, Hope Now hotline has provided counseling to just 36,000 borrowers. Representatives have suggested loan workouts for fewer than 10,000 of them, a small fraction of borrowers in need." (Earlier Subprime Rescue Falters; Wall Street Journal)
"Only 10,000 homeowners; and Paulson promised 500,000?
Another slight miscalculation. The real purpose of Hope Now was to derail Shiela Bair's FDIC from enacting a program that has a real chance of helping people stay in their homes. Paulson doesn't like that idea; after all, there's still plenty of freeway overpasses for people to sleep under. 
Paulson also initiated "Project Lifeline", which targeted homeowners who were delinquent 90 days or more on their mortgages. Here's the run-down of how it works:
"Project Lifeline involves servicers sending letters to borrowers -- prime, Alt-A, or subprime, we're past pretense on that part -- who are very seriously delinquent (90 days or three payments down or more). The letter says that if the borrower contacts the servicer within ten days, agrees to homeowner counseling, and provides sufficient financial documentation that the servicer can consider a case-by-case, deep-analysis style modification of the mortgage terms, the servicer will agree to put the foreclosure process on hold for 30 days while the workout is considered. If the borrower fails to respond to the letter, foreclosure proceeds."
Ever heard of Project Lifeline? No one else has either. That's because it was just another one of Paulson's PR chimeras that passed into oblivion as soon as it served its purpose of making it look like the administration really gives a damn. That's a laugh.

Geithner is nothing like Paulson. He's discreet, practical, non ideological and diplomatic. His job is to find a way to plug the holes in a banking system that is undercapitalized by a whopping $2 trillion dollars while trying to keep the broader economy from crashing to earth.  He's already concocted a stimulus plan (with Summers help) that should be big enough to get the country through the first quarter of '09 ($700 billion), but it will take sustained government spending via infrastructure and green technologies programs to make up for the staggering losses to consumer spending. Expect the red ink to flow knee-deep from the purple mountains majesty all across the fruited plains, and pray that China and Japan keep buying US Treasurys or the country will face historic hyper-inflation.
Geithner knows that his mandate far exceeds his job description. Consumer confidence is at record lows because the public has lost faith in their institutions. The fear-mongering and the deception of the last 8 years have taken their toll; the pessimism is palpable. But market-based systems require confidence to function properly, otherwise people withdraw their savings and hoard their money. And that is exactly what is happening. We have entered a period of extreme risk aversion where there's been a steady run on the financial system; investors have pulled their money out of commercial paper, structured investments, money markets, corporate bonds, and securities. The markets are in a state of panic. Investors are moving into safe havens like Treasurys while consumers are cutting back on spending. The whole system is contracting. The same thing happened during the Great Depression. The similarities are stunning. In Jason Zweig's "1931 and 2008: Will Market history Repeat Itself" the author says: 
"Over the two weeks ended Nov. 20, 2008, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 16%. Over the two weeks ended Nov. 20, 1931, the Dow fell 16%. 
If you think that is scary, consider this: In the final five weeks of 1931, the Dow fell 20% further. Then it went on to lose yet another 47% before it finally hit rock-bottom on July 8, 1932
It is vital to realize that markets are never under some obligation to stop falling merely because they have already fallen by an ungodly amount. It also is vital to explore how bad the worst-case scenario can get and to think about how you would respond if it comes to pass.
When it comes to worst-case scenarios, 1931-1932 is it. When the Dow finally stopped going down, in July 1932, it had lost 88% in 36 months. At that point, only five of the roughly 800 companies that still survived on the New York Stock Exchange had lost less than two-thirds of their value from their peak in 1929." (Wall Street Journal)
Geithner's job is to restore confidence through transparency and consistency. No more lying. No more fudging the numbers to keep the public in the dark. Investors are already voting with their feet. It will take trust to get them to come back. Geithner has a clean slate to work with, but if he chooses Paulson's route--the path of deception--he'll fail, too. He's got one chance to make good; otherwise....To his credit, he has made statements confirming his determination to reform the system. This is what he said to Congress in recent hearings: 
"The United States will have to have to undertake substantial reforms to our financial system. There was a strong case for reform before this crisis, our system was designed in a different era for a different set of challenges. But the case for reform is stronger today. Reform is important because a strong and resilient financial system is integral to the performance of any economy. ...I think the severity and complexity of this crisis makes a very compelling case for a broad and comprehensive reassessment of how we use regulation to achieve an appropriate balance between efficiency and civility. This is extremely complicated both in terms of the tradeoffs involved but also in terms of building the necessary consensus involved both here in the United States and around the world. It is going to require significant  changes in the way we regulate and supervise financial securities; changes that in my view, need to go well-beyond modest adjustments to some of the specific capital charges in the existing capital regime as it applies to banks." 
Good. Investors want rules, guidelines, supervision, regulations and most of all accountability. Justice should be the organizing principle in the financial system just as it is in the legal system. That means securities fraud has to be investigated and prosecuted. No free passes for banking mandarins and toffee-nose fund managers. Break the law and go to jail, just like Jeffrey Skilling. This is the biggest financial meltdown in US history and not one CEO or CFO has even been indicted. Instead, the SEC wastes its time harassing Dallas Maverick's owner Mark Cuban in a politically-motivated witch hunt. What a fiasco. Why not clean up the cesspool on Wall Street first. That's where the problem is and that's how one reestablishes credibility.  
Then there's the heavy lifting of rebuilding financial markets while hedge fund redemptions are approaching 50 percent, corporate bonds have dropped by nearly half, commercial property is tanking, consumer spending is in the dumps, and the housing market continues to crumble. That's not an easy task. And, at the same time, banking behemoth Citigroup needs an immediate injection of capital just to maintain operations. Once again, the Treasury will assume a gigantic liability to avoid wider damage to the system. According to the Wall Street Journal: 
"The federal government agreed Sunday to take unprecedented steps to stabilize Citigroup Inc. by moving to guarantee close to $300 billion in troubled assets weighing on the bank's books, according to people familiar with details of the plan.
Treasury has agreed to inject an additional $20 billion in capital into Citigroup under terms of the deal hashed out between the bank, the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp....
In addition to the capital, Citigroup will have an extremely unusual arrangement in which the government agrees to backstop a roughly $300 billion pool of its assets, containing mortgage-backed securities among other things. Citigroup must absorb the first $37 billion to $40 billion in losses from these assets. If losses extend beyond that level, Treasury will absorb the next $5 billion in losses, followed by the FDIC taking on the next $10 billion in losses. Any losses on these assets beyond that level would be taken by the Fed."
What a nightmare. In a conference call held last Friday, Citi's chief executive Vikram Pandit boasted that Citi "had a fantastic business model" and that "we are one of the best counterparties in the world based on our capital, and based on our liquidity." Indeed, Pandit can count on virtually limitless liquidity from this point on.
Also, keep in mind, that when 2 Bear Stearns hedge funds went belly up in July 2007, the experts all agreed that there were probably only $200 to $300 mortgage backed securities (MBS) in the whole system. Now we find out that there are $300 billion on Citi's balance sheet alone! More lies. In truth, there were more than $5 trillion in MBS created between 2000 and 2006. A large portion of those are held by banks. That means more trouble ahead.
So how will Geithner and Summers deal with the problems they'll be facing just two months from now?
They'll do whatever they need to do to stabilize the financial system and to get consumers spending again. That means at least another $2 trillion added to the ballooning national debt and some extremely dodgy ways of getting liquidity into the system.(With the Fed Funds rate already at 1 percent, monetary policy is limited)
Larry Summers, who will serve as Obama's chief economics advisor, summed up his plan like this to Bloomberg News: 
"At first I believed that any stimulus package should be timely, targeted, and temporary. But the situation has deteriorated so significantly from that point that I would now go for speedy, substantial, and sustained over a several year interval."  
But how will Summers get money into the system if monetary policy has been ineffective and the banks are not providing sufficient credit?  
Economist Nouriel Roubini answers that question in his latest blog entry on Global EconoMonitor web-site:
"The Fed (will) directly purchase long term government bonds as a way of pushing downward their yield and thus reduce the yield curve spread. But even such action may not be very successful in world where such long rates depend as much as anything else on the global supply of savings relative to investment. Thus, even radical action such as outright Fed purchases of 10 or 30 year US Treasury bonds may not work as much as desired."(MW: In other words, the Fed will buy its own debt to control long-term rates)
Next, the Fed could make "outright purchases of corporate bonds (high yield and high grade); outright purchases of mortgages and private and agency MBS as well as agency debt; forcing Fannie and Freddie to vastly expand their portfolios by buying and/or guaranteeing more mortgages and bundles of mortgages; one could decide to directly subsidize mortgages with fiscal resources; the Fed (or Treasury) could even go as far as directly intervening in the stock market via direct purchases of equities as a way to boost falling equity prices. Some of such policy actions seem extreme but they were in the playbook that Governor Bernanke described in his 2002 speech on how to avoid deflation. They all imply serious risks for the Fed and concerns about market manipulation."
"Finally, the Fed could try to follow aggressive policies to attempt to prevent deflation from setting in: massive quantitative easing; such as letting the dollar weaken sharply, flooding markets with unlimited unsterilized liquidity; talking down the value of the dollar; direct and massive intervention in the forex to weaken the dollar." (MW: Intentionally weakening the dollar to spur consumer spending and exports)
The bottom line is that Geithner and Summers will have to recapitalize the banks and deal with the massive corporate defaults at the same time they initiate their strategy for pumping liquidity into the system to keep the economy limping along. It's a tall order and there's no guarantee of success.

Mike Whitney is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

~ Centre for Research on Globalization ~


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