Friday, December 5, 2008

'This deployment marks the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment within U.S. Borders'

Revealing RNC document leaked

For Immediate Release
November 21, 2008

The American Civil Liberties Union recently came across a revealing RNC Homeland Security Document. This official document was uncovered by the website Wikileaks, which according to its website "We help you safely get the truth out". This document outlines the planning leading up to the Republican National Convention and how security forces would be working together during the RNC. Many federal, state and local organizations were mentioned in this document, a number of which the ACLU did not know were involved. A number of these agencies are military based, which may directly conflict with Federal law that prohibits the military from engaging in domestic intelligence gathering.

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), is one of the organizations that is mentioned in the report that is particular cause for concern. NGA provides mapping tools and imagery intelligence that are obtained from the United State's military spy satellites which are controlled by the National Reconnaissance Office. In other words during the RNC, these top spying tools could have been utilized to gather intelligence on the homes of activists and media workers who were a part of the demonstrations. That information could have then been relayed to local officials.

A second agency that was involved in the planning is the Pentagon's Northern Command, NORTHCOM. Having NORTHCOMM at the table, assisting in the planning is troubling because it could mean that the military was involved in the crowd control strategies and dealing with potential civil unrest. According to a report in Army Times, it said that an active military unit has been deployed by NORTHCOM in the United States. This deployment marks the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment within U.S. Borders.

Furthermore it appears that the FBI may have been using a station faking technology that would allow them to locate an individual through their cell phone. The ACLU is concerned with how this technology is used and if there was proper judicial oversight. In the USA Patriot ACT, this process for obtaining a track was made easier, and could allow for little to no judicial oversight. This tracking via cell phones could have been used during the RNC without the knowledge of even the phone companies.

"These behaviors are a radical departure from separation of civilian law enforcement and military authority, and could, quite possibly, represent a violation of law," said Teresa Nelson, ACLU of Minnesota. The ACLU-MN will continue to investigate and will use their findings in future lawsuits against law enforcement officials.

 
~ ACLU ~
 

Protesters descend on the School of the Americas for the 19th year in a row

Last weekend, at least 12,000 people gathered at Ft. Benning, GA for the 19th annual protest to demand the closure of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, formerly known as the School of the Americas. Since 1946, the taxpayer-funded US Army school has trained more than 60,000 Latin American soldiers in combat techniques and psychological warfare, leading directly to murders, rapes, disappearances, and massacres that have affected hundreds of thousands of people throughout Latin America.

On Sunday, a massive funeral procession made its way to the gates of the army stronghold, carrying crosses to commemorate the countless lives lost. Police estimated attendance at 8,700, but organizers put the number at close to 20,000. Six individuals attempted to enter the base, and were stopped by military personnel and arrested. They will face federal trial on January 26, 2009.

The annual November vigil, coordinated by the School of the Americas Watch, draws participation from social movements for justice across the Americas. In 2007, following years of grassroots organizing, Congress came within 6 votes of cutting funding to the institution. SOA Watch was founded by Maryknoll Father Roy Bourgeois, who is currently being threatened with excommunication due to his support of the ordination of women.
 
 

"It never blinks, it never takes a break and it never gets bored"

CCTV cameras which can 'predict' if a crime is about to take place are being introduced on Britain's streets.

The cameras can alert operators to suspicious behaviour, such as loitering and unusually slow walking. Anyone spotted could then have to explain their behaviour to a police officer.

The move has been compared to the Tom Cruise science-fiction film Minority Report, in which people are arrested before they commit planned offences.

It will also fuel fears that Britain is becoming a surveillance society. There are already 4.2million cameras trained on the public. The technology could be used alongside many of these to allow evermore advanced scrutiny of our movements.

Last night, civil rights campaign group Liberty was sceptical. A spokesman said: 'Bringing expensive Hollywood sci-fi to our car parks will never be as effective as having police on the street leading the fight against crime.'

The cameras, trained on public places, such as car parks, are being tested by Portsmouth City Council.

~ more... ~

 

Prophesy of economic collapse 'coming true'

Things may seem bad now - with fears of a world recession looming - but they could be set to get much worse.

A real-world analysis of a controversial prediction made 30 years ago concludes that economic growth cannot be sustained and we are on track for serious economic collapse this century.

In 1972, the seminal book Limits to Growth by a group called the Club of Rome claimed that exponential growth would eventually lead to economic and environmental collapse.

The group used computer models that assessed the interaction of rising populations, pollution, industrial production, resource consumption and food production.

Most economists rubbished the book and its recommendations have been ignored by governments, although a growing band of experts today continues to argue that we need to reshape our economy to become more sustainable.

~ more... ~

 

Meltdown far from over, new mortgage crisis looms

Black Friday's retail shoppers hunting for holiday bargains won't be enough to stave off what's likely to become the next economic crisis. Malls from Michigan to Georgia are entering foreclosure, commercial victims of the same events poisoning the housing market.

Hotels in Tucson, Ariz., and Hilton Head, S.C., also are about to default on their mortgages.

That pace is expected to quicken. The number of late payments and defaults will double, if not triple, by the end of next year, according to analysts from Fitch Ratings Ltd., which evaluates companies' credit.

"We're probably in the first inning of the commercial mortgage problem," said Scott Tross, a real estate lawyer with Herrick Feinstein in New Jersey.

That's bad news for more than just property owners. When businesses go dark, employees lose jobs. Towns lose tax revenue. School budgets and social services feel the pinch.

Companies have survived plenty of downturns, but economists see this one playing out like never before. In the past, when businesses hit rough patches, owners negotiated with banks or refinanced their loans.

But many banks no longer hold the loans they made. Over the past decade, banks have increasingly bundled mortgages and sold them to investors. Pension funds, insurance companies, and hedge funds bought the seemingly safe securities and are now bracing for losses that could ripple through the financial system.

"It's a toxic drug and nobody knows how bad it's going to be," said Paul Miller, an analyst with Friedman, Billings, Ramsey, who was among the first to sound alarm bells in the residential market.

~ more... ~

 

Let's end drug prohibition

Today is the 75th anniversary of that blessed day in 1933 when Utah became the 36th and deciding state to ratify the 21st amendment, thereby repealing the 18th amendment. This ended the nation's disastrous experiment with alcohol prohibition.
 
It's already shaping up as a day of celebration, with parties planned, bars prepping for recession-defying rounds of drinks, and newspapers set to publish cocktail recipes concocted especially for the day.

But let's hope it also serves as a day of reflection. We should consider why our forebears rejoiced at the relegalization of a powerful drug long associated with bountiful pleasure and pain, and consider too the lessons for our time.

The Americans who voted in 1933 to repeal prohibition differed greatly in their reasons for overturning the system. But almost all agreed that the evils of failed suppression far outweighed the evils of alcohol consumption.

The change from just 15 years earlier, when most Americans saw alcohol as the root of the problem and voted to ban it, was dramatic. Prohibition's failure to create an Alcohol Free Society sank in quickly. Booze flowed as readily as before, but now it was illicit, filling criminal coffers at taxpayer expense.

Some opponents of prohibition pointed to Al Capone and increasing crime, violence and corruption. Others were troubled by the labeling of tens of millions of Americans as criminals, overflowing prisons, and the consequent broadening of disrespect for the law. Americans were disquieted by dangerous expansions of federal police powers, encroachments on individual liberties, increasing government expenditure devoted to enforcing the prohibition laws, and the billions in forgone tax revenues. And still others were disturbed by the specter of so many citizens blinded, paralyzed and killed by poisonous moonshine and industrial alcohol.

Supporters of prohibition blamed the consumers, and some went so far as to argue that those who violated the laws deserved whatever ills befell them. But by 1933, most Americans blamed prohibition itself.

When repeal came, it was not just with the support of those with a taste for alcohol, but also those who disliked and even hated it but could no longer ignore the dreadful consequences of a failed prohibition. They saw what most Americans still fail to see today: That a failed drug prohibition can cause greater harm than the drug it was intended to banish.

Consider the consequences of drug prohibition today: 500,000 people incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails for nonviolent drug-law violations; 1.8 million drug arrests last year; tens of billions of taxpayer dollars expended annually to fund a drug war that 76% of Americans say has failed; millions now marked for life as former drug felons; many thousands dying each year from drug overdoses that have more to do with prohibitionist policies than the drugs themselves, and tens of thousands more needlessly infected with AIDS and Hepatitis C because those same policies undermine and block responsible public-health policies.

And look abroad. At Afghanistan, where a third or more of the national economy is both beneficiary and victim of the failed global drug prohibition regime. At Mexico, which makes Chicago under Al Capone look like a day in the park. And elsewhere in Latin America, where prohibition-related crime, violence and corruption undermine civil authority and public safety, and mindless drug eradication campaigns wreak environmental havoc.

All this, and much more, are the consequences not of drugs per se but of prohibitionist policies that have failed for too long and that can never succeed in an open society, given the lessons of history. Perhaps a totalitarian American could do better, but at what cost to our most fundamental values?

~ more... ~

 

Unjust Deserts: An interview with Gar Alperovitz and Lew Daly

If the conservative era now collapsing around us had a reigning idea, it was best expressed by Margaret Thatcher when she declared with Bourbonesque flair that "there is no such thing as society." In their new book Unjust Deserts: How the Rich are Taking our Common Inheritance and Why We Should Take it Back, Gar Alperovitz and Lew Daly turn Thatcher's premise on its head and with it the whole individualistic worldview that ruled our politics for the last three decades. They focus on the role of knowledge in economic growth, arguing that expanding knowledge is a collective source of wealth and, as such, demands a significant social return in the direction of greater equality.

James Lardner: After all the twists and turns of an amazing presidential campaign, the key point of contention in the end was "the redistribution of wealth"—not Barack the Reverend Wright-trained "America-hater" or the San Francisco-style "limousine liberal," but "Barack the redistributor." What do you make of this charge?

Lew Daly: Obama used the phrase "spread the wealth around" when Joe the Plumber asked about his tax plan late in the 2008 presidential campaign, and, of course, the McCain team seized on this "socialist" idea and made it their central critical theme in the final days before the election. As in Father Coughlin's time and Barry Goldwater's, Joe the Plumber's charges of "socialism" didn't carry much weight at the polls. But I actually think this particular plot twist at the end was the most interesting political moment of the entire presidential campaign, because it foreshadows what the Obama years will be about. For the last two decades, the Republican Party ignored distribution while the Democrats changed the subject from distribution to growth, from "dividing the pie" to "enlarging the pie."

It was arguably the Democrats who worked the hardest to sell middle America on this "win-win" idea of putting growth before equality, and both parties hooked us in by loosening credit and creating "wealthy feelings" with two major asset bubbles. Well, that's over now, and the politicians no longer have the luxury of avoiding the real problems of declining household earning power and growing inequality. But what Obama should have done more clearly on the campaign trail, to start this debate off on the right foot, was fire back a very simple point, easily illustrated: he's not trying to "spread the wealth around" so much as put a stop to the massive redistribution that's already going on in America from the middle to the top.

JL: What is this "upward redistribution?"

Gar Alperovitz: The economic facts plainly show this. In the decades after the Second World War, productivity and wages rose together, almost on a one-to-one basis. Beginning in the 1980s, productivity and wages began to diverge, a divergence that sharpened to record levels under George W. Bush. Since 2000, productivity has increased about 20 percent, but the median hourly wage went up only 3 percent. So the question is: Where is the wealth that used to go to wage-earners going today?  Scott Lilly of the Center for American Progress gives us a snapshot of where it's going by looking at the Bush "recovery" of 2002-2006. Although this was a particularly extreme period, the relative magnitudes are roughly in line with trends emerging over the last thirty years. Household income increased a total of $863 billion over the period. $626 billion of the total gain went to the top 1 percent of households. The bottom 90 percent got only $41 billion, less than 5 percent of the total gain. Unless Joe the Plumber thinks 90 percent of the people create only 5 percent of the output—this can only be described as upward redistribution. Or as Theodore Roosevelt put it, taking from those "who earn more than they possess" and giving to those "who possess more than they earn."

LD: From this kind of evidence on distribution, we probe deeper to look at the societal and historical contributions that make all of us "social debtors" by Teddy Roosevelt's moral standard (or immoral standard, as it were) of possessing more than we individually earned. The rich are simply more indebted because they necessarily received more from society, and so, logically, they owe more back. Or put another way, the problem with Joe the Plumber's critique of "spreading the wealth around" is that it doesn't take into account the fact that wealth is already highly socialized before we even start talking about taxation. It has already been "spread around" by many kinds of social contributions that add far more value to our labor and investments than what anyone pays in taxes.

JL: You quote Warren Buffett posing this question:  "How much money would I have if I were born in Bangladesh, or born here in 1700"? What's his point? Isn't it obvious?

LD: Yes, it is obvious. The problem is we don't take it seriously. He's saying—in fact, these are also his words—that "society is responsible for a very significant percentage of what I've earned."

~ more... ~

 

Forty years on, Laos reaps bitter harvest of the secret war

The entrance to Craters restaurant is guarded by a phalanx of bombshells, each as big as a man. Opposite, the Dokkhoune hotel boasts an even finer warhead collection. For tourists who have not cottoned on, the Lao town of Phonsavanh lies at the heart of the most cluster-bombed province of the most bombed country on earth.
 
The haul of unexploded ordnance (UXO) is just a taster of that littering the countryside, or sitting in vast piles around homes and scrapyards. The deadly harvest from the US bombing of this landlocked country 30 years ago in the so-called "secret war" as the real battle raged in next-door Vietnam has become big business. Steel prices that surged on the back of soaring demand from China's go-go economy drove up scrap prices five-fold in eight years in impoverished Laos. It sent subsistence rice farmers, struggling make to ends meet amid spiralling food and fuel prices, scurrying into their fields in search of the new "cash crop".

But it comes at a high price. At least 13,000 people have been killed or maimed, either digging in fields contaminated with live bombs or, increasingly, in their quest for lucrative scrap metal. Half the casualties are young boys, most killed by exploding tennis-ball-sized cluster bomblets - christened "bombies" locally - that are everywhere.

The scale of the contamination is mind-boggling. Laos was hit by an average of one B-52 bomb-load every eight minutes, 24 hours a day, between 1964 and 1973. US bombers dropped more ordnance on Laos in this period than was dropped during the whole of the second world war. Of the 260m "bombies" that rained down, particularly on Xieng Khouang province, 80m failed to explode, leaving a deadly legacy.

Overwhelmed by the immensity of the clear-up, Laos - which has dealt with just 400,000 unexploded munitions - had resisted the signing today in Oslo of a treaty banning cluster bombs and demanding that remnants be cleared within 10 years. But the country has had a rethink and will now be a key player in the ceremony.

For Laos it could be a godsend, focusing world attention on its plight and bringing international resources to tackle the problem. With 37% of agricultural ground made unsafe by unexploded munitions in a nation where four-fifths of people farm the land, the scourge has stifled development.

Yet farmers eking out a living below the dollar-a-day poverty line have no choice. Bombs unearthed as they gingerly peck at the soil are planted around, or moved to the side of the field.

"In the end the Lao people regard lack of food as much greater threat than unexploded bombs," said David Hayter, the Lao country director of British-based Mines Advisory Group (MAG). "It's just that each UXO death is marked by a big bang, but deaths from lack of food or poor water are less noticeable."

~ more... ~

 

MLK: 'Where do we go from here?'

Rereading Where Do We Go From Here? recently, I was taken by the beauty of Martin's arguments and the power with which he made his points. Martin confronts the issues of militarism and racial and economic injustice in the U.S. with more power than any other writer and thinker that I have ever read. He made the connection between injustice and the quagmire of Vietnam, and speaking so forcefully and clearly against these horrors would cost him his life. The book is perhaps the greatest testament to his vision of justice in this society, and his most quoted source after his "I Have A Dream" speech.

From it, the reader finds:

"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."

"The curse of poverty has no justification in our age. It is socially as cruel and blind as the practice of cannibalism at the dawn of civilization, when men ate each other because they had not yet learned to take food from the soil or to consume the abundant animal life around them. The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty."

"The bombs in Vietnam explode at home; they destroy the hopes and possibilities for a decent America."

"Many of the ugly pages of American history have been obscured and forgotten. . . . America owes a debt of justice which it has only begun to pay. If it loses the will to finish or slackens in its determination, history will recall its crimes and the country thatwould be great will lack the most indispensable element of greatness -- justice."

In the early morning hours following the election I thought that Martin Luther King may have thought, had he lived, that his prediction about the moral arc of the universe pointing toward justice may have risen ever so slightly from the ashes as the Phoenix of mythology. But, he might have cautioned that pursuing an endless war in Afghanistan and a permanent military presence in Iraq, and in the larger Middle East, is both wrong and immoral.

~ more... ~

 

Native American Spirituality: FREEDOM DENIED

THE KNOT
In Greek mythology, the king of Phrygia had the pole of his wagon fastened to the yoke with a knot that defied efforts to untie it. An oracle stated that he who untied this Gordian knot would rule Asia. According to legend, many tried to unravel the knot to no avail until Alexander The Great simply pulled his sword and cut the knot, going on to fulfill the prophecy.

American Indians and Native American Spirituality are caught in a Gordian knot that began before America's colonization, tightened with the founding of this country and exists to this day.

Bound within it like interlocking links of chain are the issues of sovereignty, tribal recognition, blood quantum and, at its heart, the free exercise of religion.  If this knot is not unraveled, the chains unbound, American Indians and those who follow traditional teachings will never be able to freely exercise their religion. The future is one of increasing restrictions, deepening divisions and, ultimately, the death of Native America.

Those who practice Native American spiritual beliefs are guaranteed free expression of their religion under the U.S. Constitution, under First Amendment rights, but this does not mean there aren't considerable barriers placed in their way to make those rights in many ways almost meaningless.

THE ROAD TO RIGHTS

Freedom of expression is undeniably guaranteed both as a First Amendment issue and under specific federal statutes, regulations and executive orders. Many Americans don't realize this was not always the case. Until 1978, American Indians on reservations had no religious rights and were specifically barred from practicing traditional ceremonies. These efforts were driven by fear of uprisings by Native populations, most notably epitomized by the massacre at Wounded Knee, Dec. 29, 1890, when Lakota men, women and children were gunned down while gathering for a Ghost Dance, a spiritual practice.

Historically, the federal government sought to eradicate all forms of traditional spiritual practice and belief on reservations through use of boarding schools (separating children from parents), prohibiting use of Native languages, and making gatherings for ceremonial purposes illegal.  The expressed intent was to "civilize" Native peoples; a policy begun under treaties well before The Trail of Tears forced removal marches in the 1830s with Cherokee and other Eastern tribes. The result was a sustained federal policy of social and cultural annihilation.

The justification for this denial of religious freedom, inexplicably enough, was that Native peoples were sovereign nations by treaty and not granted the freedoms that American "citizens" claimed as fundamental rights.  Under "sovereignty," the U.S. government occupied the reservations, kept control of the populations through military might, imposed arbitrary civil orders and prevented them from exercising freedoms guaranteed Americans under the U.S. Constitution, including the First Amendment freedom of religion that is bedrock to the Bill of Rights.

This changed in 1978 with The American Indian Religious Freedom Act, and subsequent amendment.

It states, that, by act of Congress, Aug. 11, 1978 (U.S. Code, Title 42, Chapter 21, Subchapter I, 1996) it is "the policy of the United States to protect and preserve for American Indians their inherent right of freedom to believe, express, and exercise {their} traditional religions . . . . including but not limited to . . . . use and possession of sacred objects, and the freedom to worship through ceremonials and traditional rites." See:  http://www.cr.nps.gov/local-law/FHPL_IndianRelFreAct.pdf

Flowing from the right to worship freely is the recognition that sacred sites, lands taken and/or controlled by the federal government that are traditionally held holy by Native Americans, should not be barred from access.  This also includes objects, artifacts and human remains.

From this consideration, more legislation was passed, including:

-- Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act -- 104 STAT. 3048 Public Law 101-601 -- NOV. 16, 1990 (http://www.cr.nps.gov/nagpra/MANDATES/25USC3001etseq.htm)
-- Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 -- Public Law 96-95; 16 U.S.C. 470aa-mm (www.cr.nps.gov/local-law/FHPL_ArchRsrcsProt.pdf)
-- Various executive orders, including Executive Order 13007, May 24, 1996, designating "Sacred Sites."
 
 

Tax Revolt

"Desperate times call for drastic measures."
Unknown

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
Declaration of Independence

There are a thousand striking at the branches of evil, to one who is striking at the root.
Henry David Thoreau

How long is the "train of abuses and usurpations" that has been coupled together by the Bush regime with the consent, or active participation of Congress?

In the Declaration of Independence, our fore-parents listed the train of abuses that King "George" III (the king of Great Britain at the time) perpetrated on the American colonies. The differences between our "Mad King George," and the one that reigned over these states, 232 years ago are slim.

If you "google" the Declaration, or pull one out of your pocket/purse and read it, you can see the abuses are practically identical. I am not going to list the abuses, because you can read them. The current one that is going to hit each and every American, though, whether unborn or one foot in the grave, is:

*For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent.

In a recent Rasmussen poll only 7% of Americans approved of a bail out of Wall Street...gee, I wonder which ones those were? The CEO's of Goldman-Sachs and their families? And former CEO of Goldman-Sachs: US Treasury Secretary: Henry (Hammerin' Hank) Paulson?

There is one major difference between Past Mad King George and Present Mad King George, though. Our fore-parents had the courage and integrity to say "enough is enough, George" and they kicked an occupying force in the ass and booted them off our continent. We Present Americans are so passive in the face of, and cowed into submission by, the current state of fascist affairs in our country.

Now the evil "powers that be" in an incestuous collusion are collaborating to steal 2300.00 per American to give to Wall Street to pay for worthless paper transactions that will make our paper dollar worth even less. Mad King George and his obedient Court Jesters (Congress) are asking us to pony up our hard earned money from our hard-worked labor to keep the Wall Street Barbary Coast Pirates in the style to which they have become accustomed. I would like to call "HORSESHIT" on that!

Before my son, Casey, was killed in Iraq, I was like these Americans. I dutifully obeyed stupid laws and paid my taxes like a good, properly propagandized American.

As I wrote the checks, I never considered what my money was financing. After Casey was killed, I became deeply ashamed that I had in some small part funded the very thing that killed him: greedy and rampant US imperialism. I have not paid my taxes since. I won't pay my taxes until our money is used for positive projects: health insurance, affordable housing, credits for green development, jobs programs to rebuild our compromised infrastructure, education, etc. I can hold my head up and say that I feel that I have taken a principled stand against this US Corporate Empire.

This out of control system needs to be overthrown and even though we still retain a modicum of the 2nd Amendment, we do not have the firepower it would take to militarily overthrow our Mad King George and his Jesters. More importantly, I fear armed revolutions for the very reason that they always install violent regimes, so I am proposing another solution: a tax revolt.

Over the past 7+ years, our taxes have gone to pay for: killing innocent people, torturing and detaining without due process other people (innocent or guilty is no matter), increasing Police State America, bailing out other finance companies, paying for private mercenary soldiers in New Orleans, Iraq and Afghanistan and the very ephemeral notion of a "War on Terror." Most of us have continued to pay for these crimes against humanity. Some haven't and some have done so with a nagging feeling in the back of the place that is called a "conscience."

It is time to with hold your support from this criminally insane institution of Government/Wall Street. DO NOT allow your money to be used to bail out the fat cats. I propose:

*If employed, change your withholding to M-9, (married with 9 dependents) so no taxes are withheld from your paycheck and do not file next April 15th.

*If possible, limit your income to so you do not have to file.

*Or this is the best scenario: file your taxes and deduct 2300.00 for each member of your family and request a refund from Uncle Sam. (and still change your withholding).

*Withhold a partial amount of your taxes to make a statement.

There are many ways that this government finances its schemes, but a massive tax revolt will send reverberations throughout the rotten system.

Before Congress approves this Crime of the Century bail out, call your House Representative and Senators (toll free: 1-877-851-6437) and tell them that if they collude with the Bush Regime to do this, you won't be paying your 2008 income taxes.

Tax protest is a time honored and very courageous form of protest (ie: Boston Tea Party, Henry David Thoreau, Gandhi). I am not calling for a "protest" though...we have had many of those, I am calling for you to have the courage and integrity to join me in nothing less than a Revolution. It won't be easy, but neither will the resultant collapse of our economic system if this "trickle down" plan goes through. I am tired of being trickled on...it is time for action, not complaints or whining.

This is the only way we can stand up to power in this country and if we stand together, they cannot divide and conquer us. Let's reverse the trend and have thousands "striking at the root."

Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Spc. Casey Austin Sheehan, who was KIA in Iraq on 04/04/04. She is a co-founder and President of Gold Star Families for Peace and the author of two books: Not One More Mother's Child and Dear President Bush.

~ Op-Ed News ~

Albanian witness in U.S. arms probe dies suddenly

Albania's government said on Friday it was looking into the sudden death of an arms industry figure who was helping prosecutors investigate a weapons sale to the United States and an explosion that killed 26 people.

Television pictures showed businessman Kosta Trebicka, his head covered in blood, sprawled on his back on a dirt road in a remote area of eastern Albania, where he had been hunting. His off-road car was nearby, and appeared to be damaged.

"We have identified the corpse of citizen Kosta Trebicka," Interior Minister Bujar Nishani told a late evening news conference. "We shall make public the conclusions of experts as soon as they reach them," he added.

Nishani was responding to opposition leaders who said the death looked suspicious.

Trebicka was involved in repackaging ageing Chinese ammunition that was being sold from Albania to AEY Inc, a U.S. firm contracted by the Pentagon to supply the Afghan army.

He turned whistleblower after the Albanian defense ministry removed him from the contract and appointed another company in his place.

It was at this second company's plant in Gerdec, near Tirana, that 26 people were killed in an explosion of artillery shells in March. An Albanian official involved in the sale of ammunition to AEY Inc. and two businessmen are in jail pending trial for multiple murder over the blast.

"We must know as soon as possible whether Kosta Trebicka died accidentally or was killed by criminals that have started hunting the people that know a lot about the Gerdec blast," the main opposition Socialist Party leader Edi Rama said.

~ more... ~

 

Ottawa orders Iraq war resister deported

American military deserter Dean Walcott has been denied his request to stay in Canada.

Walcott said in a news release Wednesday that his pre-removal risk assessment application - which could have allowed him to stay in Canada - has been turned down.

His request to stay in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds was also denied, he said.

The former U.S. marine, who deployed twice to Iraq, must leave Canada by Jan. 6, 2009 or face deportation. He arrived in Canada in Dec. 2006.

"Obviously I am disappointed in this decision, in light of the fact that Prime Minister Harper said himself during the election campaign that the Iraq war was absolutely an error," Walcott said in the release.

"Everything I was told about this war proved to be lies. I don't think I should be punished for walking away from that war."

~ canada.com ~

 

Film explores Cajuns’ war role

A new documentary explores the little-known role of French-speaking Cajuns during World War II, when men whose language was ridiculed at home proved a valuable asset behind enemy lines in occupied France.

"Mon Cher Camarade," by Lafayette film maker Pat Mire, premieres tonight at the LITE Center on Cajundome Boulevard.

The hour-long film examines Cajuns who enlisted in the war effort and found themselves serving as translators for French-speaking populations overseas and as operatives working with the French Resistance.

The resistance worked behind German lines in occupied France to sabotage the invading army and help the Allies after the June 1944 D-Day landing in Normandy.

Cajun soldiers served as liaisons to the resistance, blending in with the French population and coordinating the flow of intelligence and supplies between the resistance and the Allies.

"They were spies. That's what they were," Mire said.

~ more... ~

 

Gay tax revolt grows

The stripping of marriage rights from same-sex couples in California is giving renewed attention to calls for a national gay tax protest.

A handful of LGBT activists have refused to pay any state or federal income taxes for several years now. They argue that since they are not treated equally under the law as their heterosexual neighbors, they should not have to fork over the money they owe to state or federal governments.

Their protest has largely gone unnoticed or unheeded by the majority of LGBT Americans – until now.

Two days after the passage of Proposition 8, the anti-gay constitutional amendment California voters passed November 4 that bans gays and lesbians from marrying in the Golden State, lesbian singer Melissa Etheridge penned a posting on the Daily Beast blog titled "You can forget my taxes."

She wrote that she would be withholding the half a million dollars she owes the state in taxes this year and urged other LGBT people to do the same.

~ more... ~

 

The Letters of Allen Ginsberg

Excuse me if I begin to sound like Allen Ginsberg." —letter to Benson Soffer, childhood friend, 17 May 1943

The Letters of Allen Ginsberg is unlike a lot of literary letters collections in that it contains no new revelations about its subject. But that should hardly be surprising considering the fact that we are dealing with one of the most frequently naked people of the 20th Century. 

Even at a young age, as the words written at age 18 and quoted above proves, Ginsberg was not only keenly perceptive of himself and his role within the overflowing social-cultural melting pot of the mid-20th Century, but he never thought to distinguish his life from the arguments, both poetic and political, that he was constantly taking on. Defending Rimbaud to his skeptical Columbia professor Lionel Trilling, the young Ginsberg writes, "more than any poet, I can understand the personality". Later, at one of the readings following the momentous unveiling of Howl, Ginsberg responded to a heckler by stripping to his birthday suit. This was poetry, and life, undressed and unapologetically intimate. 

Since Ginsberg's death in 1997, there has been a whole procession of posthumous books released, most of them edited by Bill Morgan, the poet's friend and archivist. The Letters of Allen Ginsberg follows two books of Ginsberg's journals, a volume of letters between the poet and his father, and a compilation of interviews, all of which have already done much to illuminate the inner workings of Ginsberg's famous poetic imagination. Morgan explains that the selections for the current book were dictated more by the merits of individual letters than by the contexts in which they were written or the intended recipients. Thus we are served the spectrum of Ginsberg's many moods and interests and his who's-who guide of a rolodex.

In addition to fellow Beat heroes Jack Kerouac and Gregory Corso who, along with Ginsberg's family members, received the majority of these letters, we also have Ginsberg corresponding with Robert Creeley, Jimmy Carter, and Norman Podhoretz. The drawback to this approach is that the reader often loses the biographical thread. The subject that consumes an August 1973 letter defending the recently arrested Abbie Hoffman to his lawyer Gerald Lefcourt is drastically different from that of the very next letter in the volume, a January 1974 missive on Buddhism, written to the French writer Jean Jacques Lebel. Morgan's editorial introductions and the chronological arrangement are crucial to giving the book the semblance of a biographical arc.

"No kidding. You have no idea what a storm of lunatic-fringe activity I have stirred up."—to father Louis Ginsberg, April 1956

 
 

Uranium - a blessing or a curse?

A "uranium rush" seems to be under way, based on the assumption that nuclear power might fill the world's current energy gaps.

Namibia's uranium oxide is exported in its raw form and enriched in countries with uranium converters such as France, the US, Canada and China.

But the cons must be factored into the equation.

Exposure to even relatively low levels of radiation over a long period can be extremely harmful to the health of workers and communities living around uranium mines.

Several workers who spent long years working at uranium mines developed serious health problems.

Cancerous strains are commonplace as workers are exposed to dust and radon gas daily and thus develop diseases such as TB and lung cancer.

Although mining companies usually deny any responsibility and refuse to compensate workers, there is increasing evidence of a link between uranium mining and workers' health problems.

Uranium mining uses an enormous amount of water.

In a recent article in The Namibian, the writer pointed out that the proposed uranium mine by the Canadian company Forsys Metal, would use 1 million litres of water each day.

Situated on the Valencia farm in the Erongo region, the mine would consume in only three months the amount of water that the current users in the area would consume in 36 years.

Given that all existing and envisaged uranium mines are in the Namib desert, one needs to ask if it is wise to spend Namibia's most scarce resource - water - on mining operations that may only bring short-term benefits.

All existing and proposed uranium mining sites are in the Namib desert, mostly in the protected area of the Namib Naukluft Park.

Besides using huge amounts of water, uranium mining also leaves large craters as it relies on open-pit operations.

Once mining activities cease, the huge holes remain.

Furthermore, radioactive dust particles may be blown over many kilometres.

This brings mining into direct conflict with tourism ventures that rely on Namibia's natural beauty as a main attraction.

International minerals prices have a direct impact on the viability of mining operations.

The globe is experiencing a plummet in copper prices.

Copper firm Weatherly International has just recently announced that it will retrench 643 workers in Namibia due to this slump.

Similarly, uranium oxide prices dropped by almost 70 per cent between July and October 2008.

This raises doubts about the viability and sustainability of uranium mining.

Few countries are considering an expansion of their nuclear energy programmes due to the costs and risks involved and this has a direct impact on uranium prices.

Namibia currently does not have a comprehensive legislative framework to deal with all the implications of uranium mining.

~ more... ~

 

Anticipating the Apocalypse with glee

 
...Yes, as our chubby, gravy-stained hands click the TV away from reports of terrorist attacks and over to football, it is hard not to wonder quietly if the end times are upon us, and if we don't deserve them. Well, they probably are, and we almost certainly do. But in keeping with the spirit of irony, here are some reasons to be thankful for the inevitable apocalypse.

We will lose weight! Americans are disgusting, and this is borne out by the fact that the only significant advances we have made in the 21st century are (1) getting foreigners to answer the phone for us and (2) combining fried chicken, mashed potatoes, cheese, and gravy into a single foodstuff. Except for those of us who are throwing up three times a day, we all weigh at least 400 pounds. Well, you fat fucking fuck, once the eschaton has been immanentized, no one will ever be able to call you a fat fucking fuck again. Because either you will have burned off all that weight fleeing from the ravening hordes, or they will have eaten you.

We will have horses! Even before doomsday arrives, you will not be able to run your car anymore, because gas will be more expensive than water, which in turn will be only slightly less expensive than your eyes. And then, even if you manage to get some gas, you won't be able to drive anywhere, on account of having traded one or both of your eyes for water. You will need a horse. You will name it "Steel" or "Charger" or "Lemondrop," or, if you are wise, nothing at all, because eventually you will have to eat it.

We will read books again! If you, like me, are finding it impossible to finish, or even substantially begin, your space-opera novel Pothead Space Ninja because there is just so much Internet to look at every day, take heart! On Third Earth (which is what we will call our world, in an effort to maintain our sense of childish wonder), there will be no Internet to look at at all. There will probably be no paper either, or alphabet. The best stories will only be told by old men or women sitting in front of a fire, as the Ancient Ones intended...

Denmark's kinder, gentler system of eugenics

A new pre-natal screening program in Denmark has halved the number of babies with Down's Syndrome. The success of the program, undeniably a form of eugenics, raises a number of questions about how far people should go with pre-natal screening - and what kinds of conditions merit termination of a pregnancy.

Many people, including the infamous bio-ethicist Peter Singer, would argue that there's a social benefit to knowing whether you're going to have a Down's Syndrome baby. The child will need lifelong care and supervision, which could be a drain on family (and the state). Presumably, having that information early in a pregnancy will allow the parents the option to terminate it and try for a child who will grow up to live autonomously. And indeed, researchers report in this week's British Medical Journal that the testing has clearly had this effect in Denmark, where the number of babies born with Down's Syndrome went down from 55 in 2000, to 31 in 2005, after the testing program was in place.

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Nativist leader's racist past exposed

From: The Tanton Files

As early as 1969, Tanton showed a sharp interest in eugenics, the "science" of breeding a better human race that was utterly discredited by the Nazis, trying to find out if Michigan had laws allowing forced sterilization. His interest stemmed, he wrote in a letter of inquiry that year, from "a local pair of sisters who have nine illegitimate children between them." Some 30 years later, he was still worrying about "less intelligent" people being allowed children, saying that "modern medicine and social programs are eroding the human gene pool."

Throughout, FAIR — which, along with Tanton, refused repeated requests for comment for this story — has stood by its man. Its 2004 annual report praised him for "visionary qualities that have not waned one bit." Around the same time, Dan Stein, who has led FAIR since 1988 as executive director or president and who was copied on scores of Tanton's letters, insisted FAIR's founder had "never asserted the inferiority or superiority of any racial, ethnic, or religious group. Never."

Blood and Soil
In the world view of John Tanton, successful societies are not based on a mere sharing of territory, values and political systems. Nations and their cultures, he has suggested on numerous occasions, are largely determined by biology — race.

In a Nov. 13, 1994, letter to white nationalist columnist Lawrence Auster, a regular correspondent, Tanton suggested that the Declaration of Independence was actually a document based on the "bond of blood and ethnicity — nationhood." Almost a year earlier, in a Dec. 10, 1993, letter to Garrett Hardin, a controversial ecology professor, he said: "I've come to the point of view that for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that." On Jan. 26, 1996, he wrote Roy Beck, head of the immigration restrictionist group NumbersUSA (and then an employee of Tanton's foundation U.S. Inc.), questioning whether Latinos were capable of governing California.

"I have no doubt that individual minority persons can assimilate to the culture necessary to run an advanced society," Tanton said in his letter to Beck, "but if through mass migration, the culture of the homeland is transplanted from Latin America to California, then my guess is we will see the same degree of success with governmental and social institutions that we have seen in Latin America." Referring to the changing California public schools, Tanton wondered "whether the minorities who are going to inherit California (85% of the lower-grade school children are now 'minorities' — demography is destiny) can run an advanced society?"

For Tanton, the question was entirely rhetorical.

"The situation then is that the people who have been the carriers of Western Civilization are well on the way toward resigning their commission to carry the culture into the future," he wrote in an Aug. 8, 1997, letter to Harvard professor Samuel Huntington, a fellow immigration critic. "When this decline in numbers is coupled with an aging of the core population … it begins to look as if the chances of Western Civilization passing into the history books are very good indeed."

This kind of thinking led Tanton to defend racial quotas imposed on immigrants. In a Nov. 3, 1995, memo to FAIR boss Dan Stein and the entire FAIR board of advisers, Tanton defended the infamous "White Australia" policy that restricted non-white immigration into that country from 1901 to 1973, saying it was not racist, but intended to protect native-born labor (the 1975 Racial Discrimination Act outlawed racial quotas in Australia). Tanton also mocked the idea that the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, banning Chinese immigration to the U.S., was racist.

Steve Connor: The chips are down for futurology

Over the years I've found that the most enjoyable scientific predictions fall into this category, which we like to called "futurology" to give it a quasi-scholarly grounding. In 1996, a futurologist employed by BT predicted that in 30 years we will have a silicon chip powerful enough to record all of your visual experiences as they happen.

It would be inserted behind your eyes and linked to your optic nerve. The futurologist called it a "soul catcher" and confidently predicted that it would mark the "end of death" – all your lifetime memories could be downloaded as a sort of action replay of your life.

Fortunately for the BT futurologist, 2026 is still a long way off and few of us will be around to remember his prediction, although I can say that we are still far from being able to connect the silicon wafers of computer chips to the carbon-based architecture of the human brain. So my guess is that we won't see the end of death in our lifetime, so to speak.

~ more... ~

 

Iran nears nuclear break-out capability, report says

Recent reports that Iran had enough material in its stocks of low-enriched uranium to build a nuclear weapon were premature, but Tehran is nevertheless only months away from that position if it continues to enrich at its 2009 rate, according to an expert analysis released yesterday (see GSN, Dec. 2).

The International Atomic Energy Agency reported in November that Iran had produced 630 kilograms of low-enriched uranium hexafluoride in about 4,000 centrifuges. Some media outlets reported that such a quantity contained enough uranium for a single nuclear weapon (see GSN, Nov. 20), but those accounts failed to understand the amount of uranium in the hexafluoride, says a report by the Institute for Science and International Security.

In fact, the 630 kilograms of uranium hexafluoride, enriched to contain about 4 percent of the key isotope uranium 235, would have about 17 kilograms of the weapon-usable isotope, too little for Iran to fashion into a bomb, the report says.

Still, because Iran should need 20 to 25 kilograms of uranium 235 for a weapon, the nation has made significant progress toward producing that material. Iran has steadfastly denied it has nuclear-weapon ambitions. With its existing facilities, and assuming that new centrifuges begin working soon, Iran should be to produce the remaining 3 to 8 kilograms within a few months, the report says.

~ more... ~

 

Grand Canyon protection from mining about to end

The Bureau of Land Management today is expected to eliminate a regulation that gave two congressional committees the ability to block future uranium mining and exploration on public lands near the Grand Canyon.

The little-used provision, which is buried in Section 204 of the 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act, has for decades provided the House and Senate natural-resources committees with the authority to take emergency action to protect threatened federal land.

It was last invoked in June by Tucson Democrat Raul Grijalva, in a failed attempt to order Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to ban immediately new mining claims on more than 1 million acres of property near the Canyon for a period up to three years.

The department ignored the order, questioning its constitutionality, and started in late October the public process to abolish the rule.

~ more... ~

 

"I propose we do this by going crazy"

From: Tricksters of the World, Unite!

Millions of people around the world are standing up for social reform. Now more than ever, the causes of justice, ecology, peace, and common decency need support from citizens everywhere. But many of us are feeling weary and uninspired about activism as it's practiced today. Our spirits long to be lifted by a radically fresh perspective on tactics and strategies. We need to bring a new sense of imagination and hope to modern-day politics. I propose we do this by going crazy.

I am not joking, although I do think we need a lot more jokes and a lot less somber rhetoric in our political movements. Subversive humor, pointed satire, and crazy wisdom have long been recognized as effective political tools, that, in the right hands, are capable of changing the world. Abbie Hoffman, the clown prince of the '60s Yippie movement, offered America a clear lesson about justice by turning a Chicago courtroom into a theater of the absurd. The usefulness of crazy wisdom is seen all through history. Look at the Trickster character, a charming conniver and truth teller found in the rituals and tales of many indigenous people. He's known to many Native Americans as Coyote, to African Americans as Br'er Rabbit, and even to several generations of young Americans in a watered-down form as Bugs Bunny. Tricksters and other rebels of the mythic realm have helped oppressed people survive one invasion and calamity after another yet still keep their spirit and soul.

Let us, activists and dreamers and citizens, rediscover this universal archetype -- the shamanic rascal who is capable of juggling realities and transforming fantasy into something powerful. This Coyote spirit can help guide us in many ways: by mixing up all our rigid assumptions, by instilling in us the hope of an underdog, or simply by making us laugh when we most need it.

Crazy wisdom, at its essence, is about tripping ourselves into seeing, hearing, and feeling the world with a different awareness. It offers everyone the chance to have accidents of enlightenment and transformation.

Holy fools and jesters through the ages have always known that the first step toward liberation and enlightenment is to escape from lives that are overgoverned by the ideals of efficiency, predictability, control, and rationality. The essential ingredients of being human are always upside down, mirror-imaged, and reversals of common sense. Do not trust anyone, for example, who says 'Trust me.' Crazy wisdom helps us question leaders who lazily invoke metaphors of patriotism, law, and duty to fight a war or lock up alleged troublemakers. Crazy wisdom lets us tune in to the sounds of unknown prophets who dare us to love our enemies, take care of the planet, and dance wildly in the streets.

Most cultures around the world have always valued the wild ones -- those who flirt during a solemn ceremony, laugh at a funeral, or weep at a joke. The ancient Chinese text known as the Tao Te Ching was onto this when it advised:

To remain whole, be twisted.
To become straight, let yourself be bent.
To become full, be hollow.

 

Bullet-riddled bodies found in Mexico's Sinaloa state

Culiacán, Mexico

Bullet-riddled bodies found

Thirteen bullet-riddled bodies were found Thursday near the town of Coyotitlan in Mexico's Sinaloa state, home to the powerful drug cartel of the same name.

Also on Thursday, a judge ordered a high-ranking federal police officer to stand trial for allegedly leaking information about police checkpoints and other operations to the Zetas, a group of hit men for the Gulf Cartel.

~ The Seattle Times ~

 

Who are the Taliban?: The Afghan War deciphered

Just three years ago, the central government still controlled the provinces near Kabul. But years of mismanagement, rampant criminality, and mounting civilian casualties have led to a spectacular resurgence of the Taliban and other related groups. Today, the Islamic Emirate enjoys de facto control in large parts of the country's south and east. According to ACBAR, an umbrella organization representing more than 100 aid agencies, insurgent attacks have increased by 50% over the past year. Foreign soldiers are now dying at a higher rate here than in Iraq.

The burgeoning disaster is prompting the Afghan government of President Hamid Karzai and international players to speak openly of negotiations with sections of the insurgency.

The New Nationalist Taliban

Who exactly are the Afghan insurgents? Every suicide attack and kidnapping is usually attributed to "the Taliban." In reality, however, the insurgency is far from monolithic. There are the shadowy, kohl-eyed mullahs and head-bobbing religious students, of course, but there are also erudite university students, poor, illiterate farmers, and veteran anti-Soviet commanders. The movement is a mélange of nationalists, Islamists, and bandits that fall uneasily into three or four main factions. The factions themselves are made up of competing commanders with differing ideologies and strategies, who nonetheless agree on one essential goal: kicking out the foreigners.

It wasn't always this way. When U.S.-led forces toppled the Taliban government in November 2001, Afghans celebrated the downfall of a reviled and discredited regime. "We felt like dancing in the streets," one Kabuli told me. As U.S.-backed forces marched into Kabul, the Afghan capital, remnants of the old Taliban regime split into three groups. The first, including many Kabul-based bureaucrats and functionaries, simply surrendered to the Americans; some even joined the Karzai government. The second, comprised of the movement's senior leadership, including its leader Mullah Omar, fled across the border into Pakistan, where they remain to this day. The third and largest group - foot soldiers, local commanders, and provincial officials - quietly melted into the landscape, returning to their farms and villages to wait and see which way the wind blew.

Meanwhile, the country was being carved up by warlords and criminals. On the brand-new highway connecting Kabul to Kandahar and Herat, built with millions of Washington's dollars, well-organized groups of bandits would regularly terrorize travelers. "[Once], thirty, maybe fifty criminals, some in police uniforms, stopped our bus and shot [out] our windows," Muhammadullah, the owner of a bus company that regularly uses the route, told me. "They searched our vehicle and stole everything from everyone." Criminal syndicates, often with government connections, organized kidnapping sprees in urban centers like the former Taliban stronghold of Kandahar city. Often, those few who were caught would simply be released after the right palms were greased.

Onto this landscape of violence and criminality rode the Taliban again, promising law and order. The exiled leadership, based in Quetta, Pakistan, began reactivating its networks of fighters who had blended into the country's villages. They resurrected relationships with Pashtun tribes. (The insurgents, historically a predominantly Pashtun movement, still have very little influence among other Afghan minority ethnic groups like the Tajiks and Hezaras.) With funds from wealthy Arab donors and training from the ISI, the Pakistani intelligence apparatus, they were able to bring weapons and expertise into Pashtun villages.

In one village after another, they drove out the remaining minority of government sympathizers through intimidation and assassination. Then they won over the majority with promises of security and efficiency. The guerrillas implemented a harsh version of Sharia law, cutting off the hands of thieves and shooting adulterers. They were brutal, but they were also incorruptible. Justice no longer went to the highest bidder. "There's no crime any more, unlike before," said Abdul Halim, who lives in a district under Taliban control.

~ more... ~

 

Exposure to media bad for kids' health in long term

Common Sense Media published the report, Media and Child and Adolescent Health: A Systematic Review, which reviewed 173 of the best studies from the last 30 years which examine the connection between media exposure and negative health effects on children.

The average modern child spends nearly 45 hours a week with television, movies, magazines, music, the Internet, cellphones and video games, the study reported. By comparison, children spend 17 hours a week with their parents on average and 30 hours a week in school, the study said.

[ ... ]

The strongest connection was found between the amount of TV watching and childhood obesity:

  • 86% of these studies found a statistically significant relationship between increased media exposure and an increase in childhood obesity.
  • 82% of studies concluded that more hours of media predicted increased weight over time.
  • A longitudinal study of 5,493 children reported that those who spent more than eight hours watching TV per week at age three were significantly more likely to be obese at age seven.

"Media is increasingly pervasive in the lives of children and adolescents. Parents and educators must consider the effects of media when they're trying to address issues with their child's health. This report makes it clear that we need a bold new agenda on media and technology use. We hope this report will create a new sense of urgency in that regard."- James P. Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense Media

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German intelligence scrubs European records after Wikileaks exposure

Between Friday night and Sunday morning, a massive deletion operation took place at the European Internet address register (RIPE) to scrub references to a cover used by Germany's premier spy agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst, or BND.

The cleanup operation comes the night after Wikileaks revealed over two dozen covert BND networks provided by T-Systems (Deutsche Telekom). The IP addresses were assigned to an unregistered company at a Munich-based PO box linked to T-Systems.

T-Systems purged the RIPE database of all addresses exposed by Wikileaks, moving the addresses into a several giant anonymous "Class B" address pools.

The move comes just a few hours after T-Systems Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) contacted Wikileaks to demand removal of an internal T-Systems memo listing the BND cover addresses. Wikileaks refused and T-System did not respond to requests for further detail by the time of writing.

Yet an investigation into the addresses over the weekend reveals key information about the BND's Internet activities. Findings include the removal of information on the BND's own German Wikipedia entry--which stated that the Goethe Institute was sometimes used as BND cover, visits to websites including the Russian government and a Berlin escort agency (perhaps for "honey traps"), as well as crawling the Internet for terrorism related topics, such as the assassination of Iraqi insurgent leader Abu Musab Zarqawi.

Website references reveal that in 2006 numerous hosters of Internet websites complained about out of control "data mining" robots from two of the BND-linked IP addresses. One of the hosters ran a popular discussion forum on counter-terrorism operations.

The integrity and transparency of the RIPE system is not assisted by the T-Systems deletion. German citizens may wonder at the double standard. At a time when the population's Internet addresses are being recorded by ISPs under laws derisively referred to as "Stasi 2.0", the "real Stasi"—the BND, has had the largest telco in Germany scrub its addresses from the European record within 24 hours of their exposure.

In August Wikileaks revealed the 2006 Shaefer report's missing pages on how German intelligence infiltrated Focus magazine. The censored pages remain unreported in the German press and in particular Focus magazine.

~ more... ~

 

The looting of Kenya under President Moi

The breathtaking extent of corruption perpetrated by the family of the former Kenyan leader Daniel Arap Moi is revealed in a secret report which lays bare a web of shell companies, secret trusts and frontmen used to steal over two billion dollars worth of state money.

The suppressed U.K auditor's report details how Kenyan state finances were laundered across the world to buy properties and companies in London, New York and South Africa and even a 10,000 hectare ranch in Australia.

The countries involved in the corrupt dealings include Australia, Belgium, Brunei, Canada, Finland, Germany, Grand Cayman, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jersey, Liechtenstein, Liberia, Luxembourg, Malawi, Namibia, the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, Russia, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Switzerland, the UAE, Uganda, the United Kingdom, the United States and Zaire.

The intricately detailed report, commissioned by President Kibaki after his 2002 election victory but later suppressed, forensically investigates corrupt transactions and holdings by several powerful members of the Kenyan elite.

~ more... ~

 

Impeachment for Christmas / Prosecution for New Year's



An ornament urging Bush's impeachment has been removed from the White House Christmas tree, but there's no reason you can't have impeachment for your holiday celebration and prosecution in the new year.

~ AfterDowningStreet.org ~

US Special Forces counterinsurgency manual FM 31-20-3

US Army Field Manual FM 31-20-3, Foreign Internal Defense Tactics Techniques and Procedures for Special Forces; 2004 edition. Made US Army doctrine (policy) on 20 September 1994; 219 printed pages. Written at the sensitive but unclassified level.

This sensitive US military counterinsurgency manual could be critically described as "What we learned about running death squads and propping up corrupt government in Latin America and how to apply it to other places". Its contents are both history defining for Latin America and, given the continued role of US Special Forces in the suppression of insurgencies and guerilla movements world wide, history making.

The document, which is official US Special Forces policy, directly advocates training paramilitaries, pervasive surveillance, censorship, press control, restrictions on labor unions & political parties, suspending habeas corpus, warrantless searches, detainment without charge, bribery, employing terrorists, false flag operations, concealing human rights abuses from journalists, and extensive use of "psychological operations" (propaganda) to make these and other "population & resource control" measures palatable.

Verified by Wikileaks editorial board. Since the manual is US Army doctrine there are also public references to the title and tables of content elsewhere.

The 1994 version of this document is available, perhaps by mistake, on the Leaven Worth Army site: http://calldp.leavenworth.army.mil/mhi/2005051007132363/31_20_3.pdf

The 2007 version of this document (renamed to FM 3-05.202, Special Forces Foreign Internal Defense Operations): http://www.army.mil/usapa/doctrine/31_Series_Collection_1.html (needs US Army username/password for access). Of additional interest is TC 31-73 SPECIAL FORCES ADVISOR GUIDE (2008, also restricted).

~ more... ~

 

Islamabad, law in parliament to give "equal" rights to women

There's an uproar over proposals by the council for Islamic ideology (CII), to reform Islamic law concerning the family, in order to provide greater rights for women in the case of divorce. Current law recognizes divorce declared "verbally" by the husband, in private, and grants few economic rights to the wife.

The CII (a significant constitutional group with a legal consulting role in parliament and the government, set up in 1962) is also proposing that the wife should be able to ask for a divorce, in writing, with an obligation for the husband to accept the request within 90 days. After this period of time, the marriage would be dissolved anyway, unless the woman withdrew the request. It is also advised that women should declare their property at the time of their marriage, because after divorce many husbands strip their wives of their own property.

Asma Jahangir, president of the Pakistani commission for human rights, explains to AsiaNews that, in any case, women have a legal right to divorce, but the real problem is that often the husband does not provide any economic support for her or her children. She recalls that many husbands throw their wives and children out of the house, without even divorcing or giving them anything.

Muslim lawyer Hifza Aziz adds that today, the man can remarry without even telling his new wife about his previous divorce.

~ more... ~

 

End Times Countdown - Bush Exit Interviews

Deep suitcase - "A portable rectangular problem"

Two of the four prominent Chavezistas charged with illegally acting on Hugo Chavez's behalf in the recently-concluded Suitcase-Gate Trial in Miami were inside players in a previous Venezuelan scandal that took place well before Chavez ever took office, the  MadCowMorningNews has learned.

 

The Suitcase-Gate Trial was supposed to spotlight a criminal Venezuelan elite of Castro-loving Chavezistas, who taunt America, threaten war with Colombia, and give sanctuary to Hezbollah. 

Instead, testimony showed that Chavez's Venezuelan cronies are anything but wild-eyed radicals. The vanguard of the working class drives Ferraris and lives in McMansions in Miami, and is too busy making money, in oil, real estate, and weapons and narcotics to wear masks over their faces, or raspberry-red berets

Both Carlos Kauffmann and the just-convicted Franklin Duran got rich in a major Venezuelan bank scandal during the mid-90's, when South Florida was a pirate's refuge for some 200 fugitive  bankers who fled Caracas after diverting $7 billion in public funds to their own accounts.

The men had the capitalist connections necessary to participate in the looting a Venezuelan bank oversight agency, FOGADE, that ironically enough had been set up to stop the hemorrhaging at the troubled Venezuelan banks looted by the fugitive bankers. 

Kauffman, 37, is a collector of airplanes and luxury cars who explained on the stand how he was able to amass a fortune of more than $100 million through the simple expedient of bribing Venezuelan government functionaries and entities. 

At the age of 39,  Franklin Duran is reportedly worth $800 million.

Neither man has built a better mousetrap, or done anything more clever than align themselves with a Venezuelan elite which resembles the vanguard of the working class much less than it does a kleptocracy very much like the one which has just looted trillions of dollars from the American economy. 

[ ... ]

An international elite in both the U.S. and the Latin countries that somehow doesn't have to play by the same rules as mere mortals. The world is apparently full of people like Bush buddy Michael Brown, the "brownie" who did such a "great job" at FEMA in New Orleans after the hurricane.

They have no bright news ideas to benefit humanity. What they have, instead, is access.

It's Crony Capitalism writ large. The enrichment of the well-connected.  Wealth flowing to a small group of people who are already wealthy and well connected. 

Oligarchs, plutocrats, and fat cats. No nations. No people.  No West. No third world...

Just one holistic system of systems, one vast, immanent, interwoven, multi-national dominion of dollars...the international system of currency that determines the totality of life on this planet.

That is the natural order of things; the atomic, subatomic and galactic structure.

Those are the primal forces of nature.

And when they get caught, like in Suitcase-Gate, they retreat into their wealth and carelessness, until someone takes care of the problem for them, or makes sure that the sanction is not particularly onerous.

Community service. Two years in Lompoc.

~ more... ~

 

The Mumbai Attacks - Analysis

By Minhaj A. Qidwai


"The Mumbai event appears to be a whistle blower for Pakistan. It may culminate on blaming on Pakistan and an expedition that may bring horrifying results for the world."


The recent attack in Mumbai bringing mayhem to the city, was quickly condemned throughout the world. At the same time another quick attempt was made to malign Pakistan and Muslims in these attacks. Let us analyze the incident critically.

  • Why India was chosen: The Indo-US nuclear deal was probably on the basis of give and take. India gets free access to Civilian Nuclear facilities and expand its nuclear program. On the other hand India will have to play an important role in the US war on terror. This seems to be the underlying agreement for the greater Asian Union that is on the cards, with India playing a vital role. Already, it is accepted as pseudo super power, and it was allowed a major role in Afghanistan to consolidate the war on terror. With Pakistan besieged from Afghanistan and India, division of Pakistan would make the objective easily achieved.
  • Why Mumbai was chosen: It is the atrium business center of India, as it is universally known. A tourist center and hot spot for foreigner tourists and business people. Any other city targeted would not have attained the results that were required to be achieved through this incident.
  • Timing: It was at a time of the year, when it is coming to an end. This will give enough time for the new American President-elect to take his office and plan any strategy that may need to be taken for his new role.
  • Choice of targets: The spots those were very precisely chosen to attract the media and tourists.
  • Choice of targeting Synagogue: This was chosen to strengthen the bond between the Jews and the Indians.
  • Role of Media: From the word go, the media started harping on the Muslim terrorists from Pakistan. Finally Britishers of Pakistani origin were named. The Deccan Mujahidin-a name unheard till date, suddenly comes in picture and an email confirming their involvement is taken as their presence and basis for existence. One person that has shined in the crises is Mr. Deepak Chopra. In his interview to CNN on November 27, 2008, he responds on the event: “Chopra: What we have seen in Mumbai has been brewing for a long time, and the war on terrorism and the attack on Iraq compounded the situation. What we call "collateral damage" and going after the wrong people actually turns moderates into extremists, and that inflammation then gets organized and appears as this disaster in Bombay. Now the worst thing that could happen is there's a backlash on the Muslims from the fundamental Hindus in India, which then will perpetuate the problem. Inflammation will create more inflammation. Ultimately the message is always toward Washington because it's also the perception that Washington, in their way, directly or indirectly funds both sides of the war on terror. They fund our side, then our petrol dollars going to Saudi Arabia through Pakistan and ultimately these terrorist groups, which are very organized. You know Jonathan, it takes a lot of money to do this. It takes a lot of organization to do this. Where's the money coming from, you know? The money is coming from the vested interests. I'm not talking about conspiracy theories, but what happens is, our policies, our foreign policies, actually perpetuate this problem. Because, you know, 25% of the world's population is Muslim and they're the fastest growing segment of the population of the world. The more we alienate the Muslim population, the more the moderates are likely to become extremists.” [1]
  • Correlating with September 11: The world media, immediately, started framing the event as a September 11 event for India. As if India is attacked, and the response to be given to its enemies, as it made a pretext to invade Afghanistan.
  • Money: The money made available to carry out the attack was enough to organize such a planned act. On the other hand, Pakistan itself receiving aid from IMF cannot take leverage from them and divulge its funds towards these subversive activities.
  • Prelude to a new upcoming war: The new strategy is to initiate a new war, and probably make it a testing ground for new weaponry.
  • Means: The questions that need to be asked is: Who provided the means and resources to make this mission possible? Is it starving Pakistan or those with means to carry out this heinous act to have a meaning out of this crises.
  • Motivation:Deccan Mujahidin - a name unheard till date, suddenly comes in picture and an email confirming their involvement is taken as their involvement. Deccan is unheard of any motivation to carry out this act. The motivated people could be those who are motivated to undertake these subversive activities and are specially paid to do so.
  • Methods: The universal methods of massacre and killing innocent were adopted, targeting the civilians to gain maximum attention.
  • India-Palestine Analogy: [2] After the second world war, two major events took place. In Asia, India was divided in a hasty manner into India and Pakistan and in Middle East, Palestine was divided in a planned manner into Israel and Palestine. This division was to have long lasting effects on the future events, some of which are evident and others yet to be unfolded. The decision makers allowed further division of Pakistan and annexure of Arab land by Israel. With the remaining Pakistan they allowed it to develop an overt nuclear program and for Israel to develop a covert nuclear program for the purpose best known to them. Nuclear wars can only bring devastation for the humanity. We still see the remnants of the use of atomic weapons in the second world war and hope the history does not repeat itself. With the hasty division of India, several princely states were left to decide on their own for their association with either country. However, these states were soon annexed by India. From Pakistan, Mujahedin went to support their Kashmiri counterparts. Since then, Kashmir has been a flashpoint for the arms conflict for both countries in the past. India and Pakistan were left behind by their masters to keep putting their resources on buying arms from them to keep their industry running. Unfortunately, both fell in the trap. On the other hand, the division of Israel was a planned division. The masters wanted to have a place of their own in the heart of the Middle East for them to operate. It was a chosen land for the Jews for their future betterment, ignoring the sufferings of the Muslim and Christian inhabitants of Palestine.

The Mumbai event appears to be a whistle blower for Pakistan. It may culminate on blaming on Pakistan and an expedition that may bring horrifying results for the world.

Are we prepared?

Reference:

[1]. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michelle-
haimoff/deepak-chopra-on-mumbai-t_b_146837.html

[2]. "The Rape of Kashmir - Parallels with the Israeli Occupation of Palestine"
by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed
http://www.mediamonitors.net/mosaddeq3.html

~ Media Monitors Network ~

Obama revitalizes disaster capitalism: The Shock Doctrine receives a makeover

Klein has put disaster capitalism under the microscope as no one else ever has, but she isn't quite ready to acknowledge it is the mechanism for achieving the consummate agenda of organizations such as the Bilderberg Group, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Trilateral Commission, namely the dissolution of nation states which will ultimately be replaced by global corporatocracy. For most progressive intellectuals, the mere mention of these organizations suggests "conspiracy theory" since progressives tend to minimize the role of elite organizations in international and domestic affairs. And yet, what Klein has given us in Shock Doctrine is conspiracy fact on steroids! Moreover, a number of left-liberal poster children are members of one or more of the ruling elite groups mentioned above-an inconvenient truth, so to speak, for true believers tethered to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party in search of salvation from all things Republican.


So What Does It Matter If Progressives Can't Go There?

It matters because not being able to go there fosters endless displays of the definition of insanity-doing the same thing that doesn't work, over and over again, each time expecting a different result. As David Kendall writes in his December 1 article, "Surprise!":

 

Every single election -- every four years (or however frequently people participate in this fiasco) -- everybody seems "SURPRISED" by the inevitable outcome. Candidate promises "change" -- candidate gets elected -- campaign promises are discarded -- nothing changes for the better -- so the electorate writes nasty editorials in his general direction for the next four to eight years.

 

What KIND of "change" are hungry "Americans" looking for?

"Gee, I'm tired of getting screwed-over. Seems like it's time for a CHANGE"?

The liberal left perpetuates not only everyone else's denial but the false hopes and pseudo-solutions of the American political chimera, the corruption of which is consummate and which serves no other purpose than choreographing a caricature of democracy and ensuring  massive social control.

 

Chris Floyd in a post-election article "What If Bush Did It?". exposes the crux of left-liberal insanity:

 

WIBDI: What If Bush Did It?

This user-friendly analytical tool provides a quick and easy way of determining the value of any given policy while correcting one's perception for partisan bias. Simply take a particular action or proposal and submit it to the WIBDI test: If Bush did this, would you think it was OK? Or would you condemn it as the act of a warmonger, or a tyrant, or a corrupt corporate tool, etc.? The just-concluded campaign has already shown us how our hordes of our quondam dissidents have signally failed this test, excusing, countenancing, defending or even embracing the actions and positions enumerated below by Chris Hedges:

"Sen. Barack Obama's vote to renew the Patriot Act, his votes to continue to fund the Iraq war, his backing of the FISA Reform Act, his craven courting of the Israeli lobby, his support of the death penalty, his refusal to champion universal, single-payer not-for-profit health care for all Americans, his call to increase troop levels and expand the war in Afghanistan, his failure to call for a reduction in the bloated and wasteful defense spending and his lobbying for the huge taxpayer swindle known as the bailout..."

 

Post-Election Comments By Naomi Klein

Appearing on Democracy Now on November 25, Klein wasted no time taking to task Larry Summers, former Clinton Secretary of the Treasury, whom Obama has just appointed Director of the White House National Economic Council. According to Klein, Summers has embraced "the three 'ations', and those were privatization, stabilization, and liberalization. So he has been preaching the [shock] doctrine. He is by no means an innocent bystander. He is a dyed-in-the-wool privatizer and free trader."

Klein has also spoken out loudly about Obama's new Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner and Robert Rubin who, although not appointed to a cabinet post in the Obama administration will continue as an economic advisor. We shall consider the backgrounds of Geithner and Rubin below, but first, a troubling statement by Klein in the Democracy Now interview regarding the role of Clinton administration Democrats in the origins of the current economic collapse:

Part of what causes the situation that seems to be very disappointing appointments is the fact we of not been honest about the legacy of the Clinton years. So much misinformation was spread during the election campaign, because it was a nice message to present the nineties as these wonder years in contrast to the Bush years. That is exactly what created the situation where you could have Summers being presented as the wise man instead of going down with Alan Greenspan. When Alan Greenspan's reputation was raked over the coals, it should have Rubin and Summers along side him.

In an October 16 interview, Klein exposes the role of Robert Rubin standing beside Alan Greenspan in promoting the de-regulation that helped create financial meltdown. In fact, summarizing her rant, Klein blatantly states, "I want him thrown under the bus."

And so once again we must ask: What if Bush did it? And like Chris Floyd, Klein has had the courage to ask the question, albeit using different language.

University of Ottawa Economics Professor, Michel Chossudovsky's November 9 article asks "Who Are The Architects of Economic Collapse" and offers a litany similar to Klein's of the key players in Obama's economic entourage. Chossudovsky notes that:

Timothy Geithner is CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which is the most powerful private financial institution in America. He was also a former Clinton administration Treasury official. He has worked for Kissinger Associates and has also held a senior position at the IMF. The FRBNY plays a behind the scenes role in shaping financial policy. Geithner acts on behalf of powerful financiers, who are behind the FRBNY. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)

Of Paul Volcker, now heading Obama's economic team, Chossudovsky states:

Paul Volker was chairman of the Federal Reserve Board in the l980s during the Reagan era. He played a central role in implementing the first stage of financial deregulation, which was conducive to mass bankruptcies, mergers and acquisitions, leading up to the 1987 financial crisis.   

Another significant player in the Obama economic team is Jon Corzine, current governor of New Jersey and former CEO of Goldman Sachs.

In summary, Chossudovsky asks:

Where are Obama's "Main Street appointees"? Namely individuals who respond to the interests of people across America.  There are no labor or community leaders on Obama's list for key positions. 

The President-elect is appointing the architects of financial deregulation. 

Meaningful financial reform cannot be adopted by officials appointed by Wall Street and who act on behalf of Wall Street.  

Those who set the financial system ablaze in 1999, have been called back to turn out the fire. 

The proposed "solution" to the crisis under the "bailout" is the cause of further economic collapse. 

There are no policy solutions on the horizon.

        What we are witnessing is continuity. 

We should not take Obama's appointments to task? We should wait until the actions of his administration demonstrate a commitment to the status quo? Such reasoning, I believe, is not only counter-intuitive but an insult to any intelligent mind. What ever happened to "if it slithers, hisses, and strikes like a snake, it probably is"?

Meanwhile, back at the 747 airliner mentioned above and the argument that only insiders know how to fly it-an absolutely valid assertion, if one is unwilling to consider alternatives to the 747 as a means of transportation. However, if one understands that the 747 has been designed to destroy everything in its path and blow up everyone on board, it is not difficult to pursue other options. Or as Richard Moore states in "Obama: Beware of Elites Bearing Gifts",

Humanity is the patient, and capitalism (ie, rule by capitalist elites) is the disease. The agenda of our leaders, and Obama will be no exception, is to sacrifice the patient so that the disease may survive. The agenda will include an expansion of genocide in the third world, assisted by the biofuel market and runaway food prices, and it will most likely include a nuclear confrontation with Russia and perhaps China. As Kissinger says, you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs. Final consolidation of global power is an omelette worth many a sacrifice, particularly if you get to eat the omelette and aren't the one making the sacrifices....


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