Defence, security and intelligence grandees will next week launch a critique of the government's strategy for dealing with terror, including a demand that ministers should show that Britain has "unambiguously" renounced the use of torture.
They will argue that the government must demonstrate that it is "on the right side" when it comes to the abuse of detainees and the practice of extraordinary rendition.
The 180-page final report of the Institute of Public Policy Research's security commission, to be published on Tuesday, will recommend that the government ensures that its own agents employ only legal methods and robustly challenge alleged or suspected torture .
The commission also warns that control orders and other measures that "subvert the rule of normal law" can provide a propaganda coup for radical jihadi groups.
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Saturday, June 27, 2009
Defence, security and intelligence grandees will next week launch a critique of the government's strategy for dealing with terror, including a demand that ministers should show that Britain has "unambiguously" renounced the use of torture.
The Ministry of Defence is trying to block all internet access to the whistleblowing site Wikileaks from thousands of its own computers after discovering that dissidents have been using it to leak copies of British military manuals.
Newly obtained MoD emails reveal alarm over the discovery that Wikileaks is freely publishing manuals that are used by patrols in Iraq.
One email says: "There are thousands of things on here, I literally mean thousands. Not just UK MoD but other places as well. Everything I clicked on to do with MoD was 'restricted' ... It is huge."
Dismay was sparked by the discovery that Wikileaks had posted copies of a 2007 manual on UK tactics for Iraq and Afghanistan, and a handbook on Istar (intelligence surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance) on its website.
The Iraq "stability operations" manual contains details on how to organise roadblocks, conduct searches and tackle suicide bombers, advising: "Immediate incapacitation of the suicide bomber, using lethal force, is likely to be the only means of stopping him."
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As millions around the world marvel at the seismic historic events underway in Iran - probably the last place most expected a civic revolution to emerge (wasn't it just a little over a year ago that a major US presidential candidate was singing "Bomb, bomb, Iran" as if it was some prehistoric subhuman place and people?) - I want to ask all our readers here for a little more of your attention than is usually required to check out a mere blog post.
I would like you to give 74 minutes to watch the online video of the documentary The Revolution Will Not Be Televised about the April 2002 attempted coup d'etat in Venezuela, and how an organized people and an ad hoc network of Internet organizers and journalists beat back that coup in 72 hours.
(I gave you at least 74 minutes of my time to prepare this presentation; so I'm not asking you to do anything I haven't already done.)
In April 2002, the elected president of a South American democracy had been kidnapped by military generals, while the country's corporate TV stations (it's been documented convincingly that the station owners were party to the violent coup conspiracy) broadcast the gigantic lie that President Hugo Chávez had "resigned."
Some Irish documentary filmmakers happened to be in the capital city of Caracas when all hell broke loose. They were able to film what happened in the streets. And in what could only be described as a colossal act of hubris on the part of the coup-plotters, members of the film crew were able to capture their taking of the national palace, known as Miraflores, also on film and microphone.
Back in 2002, we didn't have Twitter. We didn't have YouTube. Or Facebook. We didn't have most of the online tools that are being deployed today to break the information blockade.
Think about that.
And the international corporate media was, if it paid any attention at all to the coup and counter-coup in Venezuela, hostile to the country's democratically elected president (the New York Times went so far as to publish an editorial praising the coup; online organizers created so much pressure upon the newspaper that a few days later it had to issue an unprecedented correction and apology for such an editorial).
The battle that saved democracy in Venezuela was a battle over control of the means of communication. Abbie Hoffman wrote in 1969 that "the modern day revolutionary doesn't run to the factory, but to the TV station." Those words proved prophetic in 2002 in Caracas. And now that the Internet has supplanted so much of television and newspapers' roles in human communications, the battle over the present and future of Iran is being fought right here on the screen in front of you. It's why Twitter users are suddenly in a justifiable uproar over the website's announced 90 minutes of downtime tonight for maintenance; an hour-and-a-half that would coincide with the first working hours of tomorrow's General Strike called in Iran. For reasons that I suspect have to do with the fact that one doesn't need high-speed Internet bandwidth to post 140 character messages on Twitter, it has become "the front" of this week's global communication war.
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Otpor! (“Resistance!” in Serbo-Croatian) prepared “Plan B” demonstrations outside of police stations to respond immediately to arrests during protest events in Serbia. Whenever the police arrested activists in their demonstrations, Otpor! would instantaneously launch a second operation, mobilizing more people to show up at the police stations and protest the arrest. The events at the police station became media showpieces, calling attention to the injustice of the arrests and the illegitimacy of the regime. They also provided moral support and encouragement to the arrested activists, turning them into local and national heroes, rather than forgotten victims. Otpor! thus turned the regime’s policy of arrests to its own advantage and continued to build a movement.
In response to growing repression by the Milosevic regime in Serbia, Otpor! built a national campaign throughout the country, holding hundreds of events, putting up thousands of posters, distributing millions of leaflets. While they did this, they faced a relentless response from the state, including over 2000 arrests of activists. Otpor! organized nonviolent political actions of all kinds – demonstrations, marches, street theater, etc.– but the Serbian police were less creative: arresting activists became a habitual response to all actions. When activists were arrested, Otpor! knew which police station they would be taken to (because each municipality had its own local police station). They also helped activists prepare psychologically for arrest beforehand by creating a “dialogue list” that explained what they could expect under interrogation and by assuring them they could count on Plan B to support them.
Once arrests occurred, Plan B consisted of mobilizing Otpor!’s extensive network of contacts by:
- Calling friendly lawyers, who would go immediately to the police station and begin negotiating for the activists’ release;
- Calling on all Otpor! activists to gather at the Otpor! premises or in front of the police station within an hour. They would then participate in nonviolent and fun activities such as singing and games at this new demonstration;
- Informing the media (including all independent TV stations, radio stations, newspapers and press photographers) and calling on them to come to the police station to support the action, and to take the activists’ statements after their release;
- Calling on all opposition political parties in order to condemn the arrest and to call their members from that territory (municipality) to join the activists in front of the police station;
- Calling on local NGOs to inform international organizations and to send protest letters condemning the arrest.
The lawyers always succeeded in getting the arrested activists released. Generally there was no reason for their arrest (except to stop the action and to frighten the activists). The arrested activists would then be welcomed as heroes and would hold a press conference in front of the police station or at Otpor!’s office after they were released.
These activists were in most cases very exhausted, tired, frightened and angry, but they were also motivated and happy because they were not alone when they were released, but were greeted by crowds of friends and well-wishers. The arrested activists were very often the ones in charge of planning subsequent actions and motivating others to participate in them, or they would participate in Plan B actions. Then, the previously arrested activists could talk to others about what it was like to spend hours in the police station, what questions the police asked, and how they felt. Also, activists knew they would never be alone: If they were arrested, they knew for sure that lawyers, the media and more protesters would stand in front of the police station until they were released. This built a sense of solidarity in the organization.
In addition to building solidarity among activists, Plan B guaranteed that some successful action would take place, whether or not the primary demonstration was broken up. This raised the morale of all Otpor! activists and weakened the credibility of the government’s police machinery. In addition, it mobilized Serbian citizens who were already fed up with Milosevic. They grew particularly incensed when he began arresting young people who were doing nothing wrong. Thus Plan B, which called attention to the illegitimacy of the arrests, became an important factor in mobilizing the general citizenry in Otpor!’s favor.
Although this tactic is applicable to a wide range of contexts, there are a number of considerations that may impact its success. These include the existence of rule of law in a country, the development of strong networks of communication and support, and the effect of Plan B demonstrations on public support for the campaign. These considerations vary significantly across countries and communities.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Federal Reserve sought to hide its involvement in Bank of America Corp's acquisition of Merrill Lynch as Merrill's financial condition worsened, the top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said on Wednesday.
The Fed "engaged in a cover-up and deliberately hid concerns and pertinent details regarding the merger from other federal regulatory agencies," Representative Darrell Issa said in a statement released to Reuters.
Bernanke has in the past denied any inappropriate pressure on Bank of America. Fed spokeswoman Michelle Smith on Wednesday referred to a letter Bernanke sent Representative Dennis Kucinich on April 30 and later testimony in which he offered an "unconditional assertion" that he did not ask Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis to withhold information regarding Merrill.
"The Federal Reserve acted with the highest integrity throughout its discussions with Bank of America," Bernanke wrote to the Ohio Democrat, who chairs a subcommittee on the Oversight panel.
The Democrat who heads the committee, Edolphus Towns of New York, has called Bernanke to testify on Thursday. "I am not going to prejudge these issues. We are not even close to finishing the Bank of America-Merrill Lynch investigation at this point," Towns said in a statement.
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The healthcare industry is spending upwards of $1.4 million each day on average to lobby members of Congress on health care legislation, a report issued by Common Cause this week reveals.
Industry spending has nearly doubled since 2000. Healthcare interests contributed $94 million to Congress members during the 2008 election cycle alone — up from $40 million in 2000.
Common Cause’s report has received almost no treatment in the press — with a single article in Bloomberg News and one in the National Journal.
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Time to Change the Story
By Ira Chernus
The Israel Project hired pollster Stanley Greenberg to test American opinion on the Middle East conflict -- and got a big surprise. In September 2008, 69% of Americans called themselves pro-Israel. Now, it's only 49%. In September, the same 69% wanted the U.S. to side with Israel; now, only 44%.
How to explain this dramatic shift? Greenberg himself suggested the answer years ago when he pointed out that, in politics, "a narrative is the key to everything." Last year the old narrative about the Middle East conflict was still dominant: Israel is an innocent victim, doing only what it must do to defend itself against the Palestinians. Today, that narrative is beginning to lose its grip on Americans.
Well, to be more precise, the first part of the old narrative is eroding. Nearly half the American public seems unsure that Israel is still the good guy in the Middle East showdown. But the popular image of the Palestinians as the violent bad guy is apparently as potent as ever. The number of Americans who say they support Palestine remains unchanged from last September, a mere 7%. And only 5% want the U.S. government to take such a position.
Those numbers reflect the narrative that President Obama recited in Cairo on June 4th. He chided the Israelis for a few things they are doing wrong -- like expanding settlements and blockading Gaza. To the other side, though, his message was far blunter: "Palestinians must abandon violence." Of Israeli violence he said not a word.
The president's speech implicitly sanctioned the most up-to-date tale that dominates the American mass media and public opinion today: The Israelis ought to be reined in a bit, but it's hard to criticize them too much because, hey, what would you do if you had suicide bombers and rockets coming at you all the time?
That view is a political winner here. In the latest Pew poll, 62% of Americans say Obama is striking the right balance between Israel and Palestine; of those who disagree, three-quarters want to see him tougher on the Palestinians, not the Israelis. A Rasmussen poll finds even stronger support for a pro-Israel tilt.
There are, however, two things wrong with his narrative. First, though it's somewhat less one-sided than the story that prevailed during the George W. Bush years, it is far from impartial, which means the U.S. still cannot act as an even-handed broker for peace in the region. Since no one else is available to play that role, it's hard to see how, under the present circumstances, any version of a peace process can move forward.
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Big corporations pay millions in public relations to make customers associate their brand with a warm and fuzzy feeling. It is imperative that the soulless and inherently greedy nature of the corporation be hidden behind a family-friendly facade. But some companies just don’t give a hoot. They hate you, your family and especially your cat and they don’t care if you know it. They even display their evilness right on their logo.
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The greenback headed for its biggest weekly loss against the euro in a month after the People’s Bank of China said the International Monetary Fund should manage part of members’ foreign-exchange reserves. China is the biggest foreign holder of U.S. Treasuries, with $763.5 billion in April.
“The concern of reserve diversification is always lurking in the background,” said Martin McMahon, a foreign-exchange analyst at Credit Suisse Group AG in Zurich.
The dollar weakened 0.8 percent to $1.4101 per euro at 8:34 a.m. in New York, from $1.3988 yesterday, extending its loss this week to 1.1 percent. The dollar will decline to a level between $1.50 and $1.60 euro in the third quarter, McMahon said. The yen weakened 0.3 percent to 134.59 per euro from 134.22. The U.S. currency fell 0.5 percent to 95.44 yen from 95.95.
The Dollar Index, which the ICE uses to track the greenback against the currencies of six leading trading partners, fell 0.8 percent to below 80.
“To prevent the deficiencies in the main reserve currency, there’s a need to create a new currency that’s delinked from the economies of the issuers,” the People’s Bank of China said in a review of the economy in 2008 released today.
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Shelly Roche reports in on a new Cybersecurity bill would grant the President unprecedented power to shut down the internet and ignore privacy laws.
Sutton and Wood warned, "Anyone in the U.S. who promotes unwelcome news for the elite receives some unwelcome attention in return." This attention includes the use of experts, mainstream media, and anti-hate organizations, for well-coordinated character assassination.(*) According to author Perloff, a document released by the House Committee on Un-American Activities, on September 23, 1956 entitled, Propaganda and the Alert Citizen outlined the tactics reportedly used by the Establishment to discredit opposition.
Quoting from this document, Perloff wrote, "The tactic used had a prototype in a directive issued by the Communist Party... It read: When certain obstructionists become too irritating, label them, after suitable build-ups, as Fascist or Nazi or anti-Semitic, and use the prestige of anti-Fascist and tolerance organizations to discredit them. ... In the public mind constantly associate those who oppose us with those names which already have a bad smell."
"Because the Establishment controls the media," wrote Allen, "anyone exposing the Insiders will be the recipient of a continuous fusillade of [criticism] ... from newspapers, magazines, TV and radio. In this manner one is threatened with the loss of 'social respectability' if he dares broach the idea that there is organization behind any of the problems currently wrecking America."
"Smear tactics" from "left and right" are "standard operating procedure," explained Sutton and Wood. Even if you don't believe in the phony left/right political spectrum and have no political affiliation, you may be assigned one. Then the financial elite can use the opposite political party expressed in the mainstream news for character assassination. These labels, describe Sutton and Wood, "divert attention from responsible reasoned criticism with no attachment to a synthetic political spectrum."
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From A letter from a Norwegian politician:
I am a Norwegian politician. I would like to say that difficult things will happen from the year 2008 till the year 2012.
The Norwegian government is building more and more underground bases and bunkers. When asked, they simply say that it is for the protection of the people of Norway. When I enquire when they are due to be finished, they reply “before 2011”.
Israel is also doing the same and many other countries too.
My proof that what I am saying is true is in the photographs I have sent of myself and all the Prime Ministers and ministers I tend to meet and am acquainted with. They know all of this, but they don’t want to alarm the people or create mass panic.
Planet X is coming, and Norway has begun with storage of food and seeds in the Svalbard area and in the arctic north with the help of the US and EU and all around in Norway. They will only save those that are in the elite of power and those that can build up again: doctors, scientists, and so on.
As for me, I already know that I am going to leave before 2012 to go the area of Mosjøen where we have a deep underground military facility. There we are divided into sectors, red, blue and green. The signs of the Norwegian military are already given to them and the camps have already been built a long time ago.The people that are going to be left on the surface and die with along the others will get no help whatsoever. The plan is that 2,000,000 Norwegians are going to be safe, and the rest will die. That means 2,600,000 will perish into the night not knowing what to do.
All the sectors and arks are connected with tunnels and have railcars that can take you from one ark to the other. This is so that they can be in contact with each other. Only the large doors separate them so that the sectors are not compromised in any matter.
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~ Blank TV ~
Australian wallabies are eating opium poppies and creating crop circles as they hop around "as high as a kite", a government official has said.
Lara Giddings, the attorney general for the island state of Tasmania, said the kangaroo-like marsupials were getting into poppy fields grown for medicine.
She was reporting to a parliamentary hearing on security for poppy crops.
Australia supplies about 50% of the world's legally-grown opium used to make morphine and other painkillers.
"The one interesting bit that I found recently in one of my briefs on the poppy industry was that we have a problem with wallabies entering poppy fields, getting as high as a kite and going around in circles," Lara Giddings told the hearing.
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Friday, June 26, 2009
A past president of the American Psychological Association and a professor emeritus at Stanford, Zimbardo retired in 2008 from lecturing, after 50 years of teaching his legendary introductory course in psychology. In addition to his work on evil and heroism, Zimbardo recently published The Time Paradox, exploring different cultural and personal perspectives on time.
Still well-known for his controversial Stanford Prison Experiment, Zimbardo in his new research looks at the psychology of heroism. He asks, "What pushes some people to become perpetrators of evil, while others act heroically on behalf of those in need?"
"Professor Zimbardo deserves heartfelt thanks for disclosing and illuminating the dark, hidden corners of the human soul."
-- Václav Havel, former president of the Czech Republic
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Tunkashila 1/2 - Secret Law Birth Money Free Energy Religion NWO
Tunkashila 2/2 - Secret Law Birth Money Free Energy Religion
Tunkashila is a documentary about sovereignty and self empowerment. Featuring Jordan Maxwell, Vandana Shiva, Aaron Russo, Jacque Fresco, Nick Bostrum and John Hagelin. Covering topics such as the Law of the Sea, Maritime Admiralty Law, Origins of modern day law, birth certificates, corporations, monopoly money, financial crisis, Monsanto, Free Energy Economics, Zodiac, Astrology, Astronomy and Astrotheology (the pagan origins of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism). Directed by Peter Charles Downey Produced by United Natures Independent Media Music by Echelon Corporation
Tunkashila is available from the following websites:
A documentary on the history of the conspiracy to create the private monopolistic Federal Reserve bank.
From Ideas Online, Yes, but Some Not So Presidential by Saul Hansell
On Jan. 21, his first full day in office, President Obama promised to open up the government, ordering officials to use modern technologies like Internet message boards and blogs to give all Americans a bigger voice in public policy.
Well, the people have spoken. But many of them are not sticking to the topics at hand.
The White House made its first major entree into government by the people last month when it set up an online forum to ask ordinary people for their ideas on how to carry out the president's open-government pledge. It got an earful — on legalizing marijuana, revealing U.F.O. secrets and verifying Mr. Obama's birth certificate to prove he was really born in the United States and thus eligible to be president.
“Please, as fellow human beings of this great planet Earth, disclose all known information on space/UFO's because the world needs to know,” wrote sprinter5160 on the site, whitehouse.gov/open, which attracted thousands of similar comments on fringe topics.
While it was not exactly what administration officials had in mind, they noted that democracy can be a bit messy.
“Even for people who want to talk about U.F.O.'s or the Kennedy assassination, we have created a forum for people to have a conversation with each other, and potentially to go off and organize and develop this further,” said Beth Simone Noveck, a New York Law School professor who is Mr. Obama's deputy chief technology officer for open government.
Most of the suggestions were closely related to the topic at hand, like publishing a list of everyone who meets with the president, using computer graphics to track how rapidly agencies respond to Freedom of Information Act requests and installing webcams to monitor federal offices. The administration's goal is to devise regulations that would tell federal agencies how to make their operations more open to the public.
[ ... ]
The responsibility for sorting it all out falls to Ms. Noveck. She has permitted any proposal that was not abusive or repetitive onto the brainstorming site, just as the Obama transition team did not stop visitors to its Change.Gov site last fall from voting marijuana legalization as their top concern for the president-elect.
She argues that the experience of collaborative Web sites like Wikipedia proves that groups of users can police sites to keep small groups from spoiling things for everyone else. During the public brainstorming about rules for open government, the White House asked visitors to vote on the best ideas by clicking a thumbs-up or thumbs-down button, much as people vote on the most interesting news articles on sites like Digg.
The visitors advanced more than 3,900 ideas, which in turn spawned 11,000 comments that received 210,000 thumb votes.
The result? Three of the top 10 most popular ideas called for legalizing marijuana, and two featured conspiracy theories about Mr. Obama's true place of birth. (Among the technical ideas that got a lot of support was a proposal to have the federal government press states and cities to follow open-government principles and a call for a central Internet site for all requests to the president and Congress, modeled after a site for petitions to the British prime minister.)
“This is Obama's Madisonian moment,” said Clay Shirky, a professor at New York University and the author of “Here Comes Everybody,” a book about Internet collaboration. Just as James Madison, the nation's fourth president, argued during the drafting of the Constitution that the government must protect the minority against the tyranny of the majority, Mr. Shirky said that government must also prevent small groups of loudmouths from hijacking the public debate.
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Executives at U.S. companies are taking advantage of the biggest stock-market rally in 71 years to sell their shares at the fastest pace since credit markets started to seize up two years ago.
Insiders of Standard & Poor's 500 Index companies were net sellers for 14 straight weeks as the gauge rose 36 percent, data compiled by InsiderScore.com show. Amgen Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Sharer and five other officials sold $8.2 million of stock. Christopher Donahue, the CEO of Federated Investors Inc., and his brother, Chief Financial Officer Thomas Donahue, offered the most in three years.
Sales by CEOs, directors and senior officers have accelerated to the highest level since June 2007, two months before credit markets froze, as the S&P 500 rebounded from its 12-year low in March. The increase is making investors more skittish because executives presumably have the best information about their companies' prospects.
“If insiders are selling into the rally, that shows they don't expect their business to be able to support current stock- price levels,” said Joseph Keating, the chief investment officer of Raleigh, North Carolina-based RBC Bank, the unit of Royal Bank of Canada that oversees $33 billion in client assets. “They're taking advantage of this bounce and selling into it.”
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Al Jazeera - 12 Jun, 2009
Samah El-Shahat, Al Jazeera's resident economist, will be writing a regular column analysing key elements that have contributed to the global financial downturn and its impact across the world.
In my last column I introduced the idea that America's handling of the financial crisis, and in particular the way it has refused to deal with the banks, is more in keeping with how an "emerging" economy might behave and act.
So this week, I will say that America has become a bank-owned state, allowing its banking oligarchs to suffocate the economy so they can survive at any price.
As a development economist, what always made developing and poorer countries stand out was the level of inequality between individuals.
That is, the difference between how a small percentage, usually the country's capitalists, oligarchs and those close to people in power, were overdosing on wealth as the rest struggled to make ends meet, or even survive.
Everyone in the country knew it, from the poorest farmer on the street to the richest oligarch. It was in your face, unashamed, unabated and highly discomforting.
Discomforting because it made all of us who witnessed it feel crippled at the power of the status quo, ruing the unfairness of life when merit always comes last, relative to who you know and who you are.
We took some relief from believing that this only happens because these countries were authoritarian, and not so accountable to their electorate.
Yet, if we look closer at the leading capitalist economies such as those of America and the UK, we will find that inequity raises its ugly head equally, and as starkly, when you look at the numbers.
Kept in the dark
Here too, a small percentage have the lion's share of national income in their hands, while the rest of the population experience stagnant incomes, all within a democratic, rather than an authoritarian, political regime.
Yet the real difference here is that, away from the numbers, the wider population and the electorate were mostly kept in the dark about this.
In 2006, the top one per cent of American households' share of all disposable income amounted to almost a quarter of all households' disposable income, according to Robert Hunter Wade, professor of political economy at the London School of Economics.
In crude terms, one per cent of the population have a quarter of all the wealth.
Moreover, Wade found the average income of the bottom 90 per cent of the population remained almost stagnant after 1980, although consumption kept rising thanks to the build-up of private debt.
This means that 90 per cent of the American economy were financing their American dream on debt.
In the UK, Wade found the pay gap between the highest and average earners had widened alarmingly.
Back in 1989, chief executives pocketed 17 times more than average earners.
By 2007, those same "captains of industry" were earning 75 times more than the average worker.
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As anticipated by LEAP/E2020 as early as October 2008, on the eve of summer 2009, the question of the US and UK capacity to finance their unbridled public deficits has become the central question of international debates, thus paving the way for these two countries to default on their debt by the end of this summer.
(1) At this stage of the global systemic crisis' process of development, contrary to the dominant political and media stance today, the LEAP/E2020 team does not foresee any economic upsurge after summer 2009 (nor in the following 12 months)
(2) On the contrary, because the origins of the crisis remain unaddressed, we estimate that the summer 2009 will be marked by the converging of three very destructive rogue waves.
(3) illustrating the aggravation of the crisis and entailing major upheaval by September/October 2009. As always since this crisis started, each region of the world will be affected neither at the same moment, nor in the same way
(4) However, according to our researchers, all of them will be concerned by a significant deterioration in their situation by the end of summer 2009
This evolution is likely to catch large numbers of economic and financial players on the wrong foot who decided to believe in today's mainstream media operation of "euphorisation".
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Wednesday, June 24, 2009
As official videographer for the U.S. government, Kurt Sonnenfeld was detailed to Ground Zero on September 11, 2001, where he spent one month filming 29 tapes: “What I saw at certain moments and in certain places … is very disturbing!” He never handed them over to the authorities and has been persecuted ever since. Kurt Sonnenfeld lives in exile in Argentina, where he wrote « El Perseguido » (the persecuted). His recently-published book tells the story of his unending nightmare and drives another nail into the coffin of the government's account of the 9/11 events. Below is an exclusive interview by Voltairenet. The book's ISBN is 978-950-49-2057-1 and it seems to be available (Spanish only) here: http://www.libreriapaidos.com/libros/1/950492057.asp . The official website for the book is here: http://elperseguido.wordpress.com
“It was very odd to me when I learned that FEMA and several other federal agencies had already moved into position at their command center at Pier 92 on September 10th, one day before the attacks.”
— Kurt Sonnenfeld, former Director of Broadcast Operations for FEMA's National Emergency Response Team
Kurt Sonnenfeld graduated from the University of Colorado (USA) with studies in International Affairs and Economics, as well as in Literature and Philosophy. He worked for the United States government as official videographer and served as Director of Broadcast Operations for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)'s National Emergency Response Team. Additionally, Kurt Sonnenfeld was contracted by several other governmental agencies and programs for classified and “sensitive” operations at military and scientific installations throughout the United States.
On September 11, 2001, the area known as “Ground Zero” was sealed from the public eye. Sonnenfeld, however, was given unrestricted access enabling him to document for the investigation (that never took place) and provide some “sanitized” pool video to virtually every news network in the world. The tapes that reveal some of the anomalies which he discovered at Ground Zero are still in his possession.
Accused of a crime that did not occur in a manifest frame-up scenario, Kurt Sonnenfeld has been persecuted across continents. After several years of fear, injustice and isolation, he has decided to take a public stand against the Government's official story and is prepared to submit his material to the close scrutiny of reliable experts.
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In a major setback for the people and wildlife of southern Alaska, the Supreme Court ruled 6 to 3 today that the Coeur d'Alene Mines Corporation can legally under the Clean Water Act dump more than 4.5 million tons of “slurry”—a mining waste byproduct that's a mixture of crushed rock and water—in the Lower Slate Lake in Alaska's Tongass National Forest. The ruling overturned a May 2007 decision by a lower appeals court denying Coeur d'Alene's permit, which applies to its Kensington Gold Mine north of Juneau, Alaska's capital city.
But isn't the Clean Water Act supposed to protect our lakes and rivers and other water sources? Well, yes. For nearly 30 years, the CWA expressly prohibited pumping harmful waste materials into waters, allowing only "fill material" for building structures like seawalls and levees to be dumped, and only then with permits from the Army Corps of Engineers. But in 2002, the Bush Administration tweaked the definition of "fill" to include dangerous waste products with an EPA memo that the public never saw. The memo's expansion of the "fill" definition permitted harmful slurry dumping into lakes and other water sources. In making its decision today, the Supreme Court relied on this memo.
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Tuesday, June 23, 2009
...This spring, sales at Landreth are “up 75 percent over last year,” said Barbara Melera, a former venture capitalist who bought the company in 2003. Moving between the shelves of bulk seed containers in her warehouse in New Freedom, Pa., she pointed out varieties that are almost sold out: Detroit Dark Red beets, Danvers Half Long carrots, Bloomsdale Long Standing spinach. She had no kale or a popular beet variety, Lutz. “We have a modest amount of beans left.
Seed producers and merchants across the United States are reporting the same phenomenon of crazy demand and even some shortages, especially of staples like beans, potatoes and lettuces. Sales of seed packets picked up last year and have grown significantly again this season, which runs from January to June.
Industry observers attribute the boost in sales to a concern for food safety following outbreaks of E. coli and salmonella poisonings and a desire by consumers to be a part of the local food movement. Michelle Obama's new vegetable garden at the White House may also be inspiring people, they said.
But the primary reasons, they speculate, are the recession, income loss and the need for people to lower their grocery bills by growing their own.
In late April, Greg Frandano, a 35-year-old bartender, ripped up part of his lawn to extend his vegetable garden in the rear yard of his brick Cape Cod in Falls Church, Va. “We hardly buy any produce when things are cooking,” he said, as he worked composted leaves into the clay soil before planting. He started the garden four years ago and has enlarged it every spring since to feed his family of four.
At four community gardens in Reston, Va., coordinator Deana Demichelis said the wait list for 250 plots has climbed to 140 names, a backlog of about three years. “New gardeners are begging to get in because of the recession and the fact they can save money growing their own food,” she said. ...
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Scientists and nonscientists now have easy access to information about when living species and their ancestors originated, information that previously was difficult to find or inaccessible. Free access to the information is part of the new Timetree of Life initiative developed by Blair Hedges, a professor of biology at Penn State University, and Sudhir Kumar, a professor of life sciences at Arizona State University. The Timetree of Life project debuted this week with the simultaneous release of a major online resource called "TimeTreeWeb" (http://www.timetree.org), and a book titled "The Timetree of Life" (Oxford University Press), which is written by a consortium of 105 experts on specific groups of organisms and is edited by Hedges and Kumar. Nobel laureate James D. Watson, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, comments in his foreword to the book, "I look in wonder at The Timetree of Life, at the breadth of life that it covers, and the extraordinary data presented in it."
"The ultimate goal of the Timetree of Life initiative is to chart the timescale of life -- to discover when each species and all their ancestors originated, all the way back to the origin of life some four billion years ago," Hedges said. Many researchers long have studied the times of origin of individual species in order to piece together a Tree of Life, but now the Timetree of Life project provides a synthesis of the time-calibrated Tree of Life, in addition to adding much new information from previously unpublished scientific studies.
"The TimeTreeWeb tool belongs to a new genre of resources that lets anyone easily mine knowledge previously locked up in technical research articles, without needing to know the jargon of the field," said Kumar. "For example, if you type in 'cat' and 'dog,'" Hedges said, "the program will navigate through the timetree of life to the point where the cat and dog species split, and it will find all the studies bearing on that divergence. Within a few seconds, you will learn that your pet cat and dog diverged in evolutionary time about 50 to 60 million years ago."
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From morris dancers in mirror shades to green activists getting in touch with their spiritual side, paganism is going mainstream. Cole Moreton reports on a new national faith
The Guardian - 22 Jun, 2009
Look out, here come the pagans. It's late May in central London and a man dressed as a tree, a witch in a velvet robe and a woman pretending to be a raven with a long black beak are dancing through the streets of Holborn, with several hundred others, moving to the rhythm of a dozen loud drums. They could wake the god of thunder with their noise but it's OK, the people at the back with the broadswords and shields are followers of Thor. This is a parade to celebrate pagan pride, and it would be wise not to get in the way.
"We are moving into a new time," says the leader, brandishing a huge set of antlers. "We are becoming more accepted. Paganism is reasserting itself."
Who is going to argue? Her name is Jeanette Ellis and she looks like the figurehead of a mighty galleon, cleavage pushing up out of a medieval dress (although her bottom half is mostly foliage). Ellis has been organising parades for more than a decade. "There has been such a dramatic change," she says, "in the way we are perceived."
Paganism is casting its spell over more people now than ever before in the modern age. There are said to be a quarter of a million practising pagans in this country, double the number of a decade ago.
That would make them more numerous than Buddhists (of which there are 144,500, according to the 2001 census) and almost as numerous as Jews (259,000) - and it doesn't even allow for the growing tribe of unofficial, instinctive pagans such as my friend Cath, who planned to celebrate the summer solstice in the early hours yesterday by "going out into the garden at dawn and just tuning in". At Stonehenge at least 30,000 people were expected to watch the sun rise in the company of the druids who see themselves as practising the ancient faith of pre-Christian Britain. For them, the sun is symbolic of one aspect of the "universal force which flows through the world and which can be encouraged to flow through us", according to Philip Carr-Gomm, founder of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids and author of the new Book of English Magic. The druids are only a small part of modern paganism, which encompasses a bewildering number of traditions or "paths", but central to them all is this idea of a divine force inherent in nature. It is an individualistic faith that encourages each person to respond in their own way, so you don't have to be a druid, or belong to any kind of order at all.
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On June 13, 2009 thousands of people around Australia rallied for action on Climate Change, calling for 100% renewable energy by 2020 and demanding that Australia must make the shift from fossil fuels to wind, solar and other available renewable technologies. Rallies were held in capital cities around Australia, with people siting down outside Kevin Rudd's city office in Sydney and a sitdown protest in front of the Melbourne Town Hall where the Victorian State ALP conference was ocurring.
In Sydney more than 2000 people gathered to hear speakers then marched to Kevin Rudd's city office for a symbolic sitdown protest. NSW greens MP Lee Rhiannon told the protest "The Australian Greens will oppose the CPRS legislation because the target is not ambitious enough. The world is on red alert, urgent action is needed to rein in runaway climate change now. The prime minister needs to recognise that baby steps is not what is needed, we need the giant leap to a zero emissions future. We know that achieving that is not going to come with the carbon pollution reduction scheme - that's a scam." according to a report in the Age.
In Hobart, 1200 people gathered in the rain and heard Greens Senator Christine Milne say that the Rudd Government's carbon emission scheme needs to cut emissions by 40 percent by 2020 or the Greens would vote against the scheme in he Senate.
Several hundred people attended a rally in Perth. About two hundred people protested in Brisbane where the rally heard from members of the Pine Rivers Climate Action Network, the Greens, the St Johns Wood Sustainability Group and the Queensland secretary of the Electrical Trade Union, Peter Simpson.
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Yochi J. Dreazen reports for the Wall Street Journal:
The new U.S. commander in Afghanistan is finalizing a far-reaching change in tactics that will generally require U.S. troops taking fire in populated areas to break contact rather than risk civilian casualties, military officials said.
Exceptions will be made when the lives of U.S. and allied personnel are in danger.
The rules being crafted by Gen. Stanley McChrystal are the clearest indication yet of how the new U.S. command team in Afghanistan plans to reduce civilian fatalities, a cause of public anger against U.S. efforts there.
Military officials in Kabul said the "tactical directive," to be released this week, came in response to incidents such as one last month that killed dozens of civilians. Under the new rules, the incident's deadliest strikes wouldn't have been authorized.
"We don't want another Granai," a senior military official in Kabul said, naming the village where last month's incident occurred. "The tactical gains simply don't outweigh the costs."
U.S. officials said the rules were designed to reduce the use of bombs, missiles and other heavy weaponry in populated areas. They will require U.S. forces that come under fire from militants operating out of houses and other buildings that may contain civilians to end the engagement and leave the area, officials said.
The restrictions could force commanders to be more cautious in the mission-planning stage and eschew operations likely to require operations in populated areas, according to an officer serving in Afghanistan.
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Police footage of Emily Apple and Val Swain being arrested by surveillance officers after asking for their badge numbers at the Kingsnorth climate camp last year. The two women speak to Paul Lewis from the Guardian about their arrest, imprisonment and official complaint.
Story in The Guardian.
Fit Watch are a fluid group of people who have come together to resist and oppose the tactics of the Forward Intelligence Teams (cops who harass protesters).
NETCU, WECTU and NPOIU: Britain’s Secretive Police Force (PDF report)
The Welsh Extremism and Counter Terrorism Unit, and
The National Public Order Intelligence Unit
– all parts of a private organisation (ACPO) that is exercising public functions in relation to policing policy
– can be seen from two extreme points of view:
groups working on policy and in a policing support role to protect the public; or, under the guise of countering “extremism”, developing policies to crack down on campaigning groups in a way that could be seen as the kernel of what could ventually become a truly “secret” police force.
This report examines what NETCU, WECTU and NPOIU are, and poses the question as to whether private organisations working unaccountably outside of the mainstream police service are compatible with the operation of a free, open and accountable society.
Monday, June 22, 2009
According to Pak Alert Press:
Former Pakistani Army General Mirza Aslam Beig claims the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has distributed 400 million dollars inside Iran to evoke a revolution.
In a phone interview with the Pashto Radio on Monday, General Beig said that there is undisputed intelligence proving the US interference in Iran.
“The documents prove that the CIA spent 400 million dollars inside Iran to prop up a colorful-hollow revolution following the election,” he added.
Pakistan’s former army chief of joint staff went on to say that the US wanted to disturb the situation in Iran and bring
to power a pro-US government.
He congratulated President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on his re- election for the second term in office, noting that Pakistan relationship with Iran has improved during his 4-year presidency.
“Ahmadinejad’s re-election is a decisive point in regional policy and if Pakistan and Afghanistan unite with Iran, the US
has to leave the area, especially the occupied Afghanistan,” Beig added.
Corruption, torture, and murder charged by Shishou City residents
By Zhou Meihua (Epoch Times - 20 Jun, 2009)
The mysterious cause of the death of a young man who fell from the third floor of a hotel in China's Hubei province on Wednesday has prompted as many as 70,000 people to attempt to bar the police from taking the young man's body away.
Local authorities have mobilized thousands of riot police to cope with the chaos. The public's reaction appears to have been sparked by outrage at what is believed to be a case of corruption, torture, and murder.
Around 3 p.m. on June 20 a Public Security Office statement was released on the official Web site of Shishou City that says the corpse of a man was discovered in front of the entrance of the local Yonglong Grand Hotel on June 17.
The deceased was the hotel's 24-year-old chef Tu Yuangao, who the statement says had left a letter expressing his pessimism and decision to commit suicide. The preliminary medical examination, according to the statement, sees no other fatal wounds on the body and has ruled out the possibility of murder.
According to the statement, the police's attempt to remove the body for autopsy has been rejected by the man's relatives, adding that many people who do not know the true story have gathered around the hotel, jammed traffic, and caused much commotion.
Eyewitnesses are raising serious doubts about the credibility of the police account.
According to China's bloggers, those who witnessed the fall of the man and reported it to the police said they did not see any blood stain on the ground where the body landed. Instead, they found blood clots around the deceased's mouth, nose, and ears. The lower part of body showed signs of severe torture, they said.
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Photos taken by civilians also available here.
Deutsche Welle report:
Police in Berlin say they have thwarted an overnight attempt by many hundreds of militant left-wing demonstrators trying to occupy former Tempelhof airport.
The former hub of the 1948-49 Berlin Airlift, once one of three Berlin airports, was shut down last year, prompting renewed debate about what should happen to the site, including its iconic 1,200 meter-long terminal building built during the Nazi era. The city center airport has an area equivalent to 400 football fields and is now considered a prime property development site.
On Saturday, a leftist alliance calling itself "Squat Tempelhof", which wants the grounds to be opened to the public, was confronted by a large deployment of police. A spokesman for the police said demonstrators had repeatedly tried but failed to tear down a perimeter fence. Numerous arrests were made, police said.
The incident coincides with an ongoing debate about the legendary airfield. Last November, the Berlin state government decided to turn a chunk of the site into a 250-hectare park. Events planned include pop concerts and equestrian competitions. Other ideas have included a zoo, a private hospital, a film studio and even a red-light district. The terminal itself is a protected heritage site.
Tempelhof became the world's first airport with regular passenger service in 1923.
Shortly after World War Two, a Soviet blockade of West Berlin forced American and British aircraft to fly in foodstuffs, fuel and other goods for the 2.2 million residents in order to ensure their survival.
Tempelhof's closure in 2008 was part of a plan to move Berlin's new international airport to Schoenefeld on the city's southern fringe in what was earlier communist East Germany. The new Berlin Brandenburg International airport is scheduled to open in 2011.
Editor: Greg Benzow
WASHINGTON -- The widow of the housefly murdered by Barack Obama during a recent CNBC television interview announced this morning that she would be filing a wrongful death suit against the President in federal district court. The plaintiff brief -- citing pain, suffering and loss of income -- seeks a formal apology and compensatory damages, including an unspecified quantity of shit.
"Bob was a wonderful husband and provider," said the widow, Mrs. Vivian Vvzzvzwwzzz, wiping tears from her compound eyes. "Even though he was always busy at the Rose Garden turd pile, he always flew home in time to tuck in our maggots."
The 17-day old widow said the grieving process since the murder has taken its toll.
"Although it's been nearly 48 hours, I still get an empty feeling in my thorax everytime I think about it," she said. "I feel like I've aged an entire week. Mating season is over, and here I am, stuck trying to raise 532 larvae on my own."
Vvzzvzwwzzz described the "abdomen-wrenching horror" she experienced while watching the President casually assassinate her husband during the live broadcast.
[ ... ]
University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds said Vvzzvzwwzzz v. Obama is likely to raise several thorny constitutional issues.
"The courts have a lot of questions to sort out here," he said. "For example, can a sitting president be forced to testify in a civil suit? Can he give himself immunity? How does this effect the rights of cooties and crab lice? Also, just how completely batshit insane is PETA?"
Despite the prospect of facing a challenge from the President's formidable legal team, Vvzzvzwwzzz said she was prepared to pursue it all the way to the Supreme Court.
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David Korten writes for YES!:
Whether it was divine providence or just good luck, we should give thanks that financial collapse hit us before the worst of global warming and peak oil. As challenging as the economic meltdown may be, it buys time to build a new economy that serves life rather than money. It lays bare the fact that the existing financial system has brought our way of life and the natural systems on which we depend to the brink of collapse. This wake-up call is inspiring unprecedented numbers of people to take action to bring forth the culture and institutions of a new economy that can serve us and sustain our living planet for generations into the future.
The world of financial stability, environmental sustainability, economic justice, and peace that most psychologically healthy people want is possible if we replace a defective operating system that values only money, seeks to monetize every relationship, and pits each person in a competition with every other for dominance.
[ ... ]
The operating system of our phantom-wealth economy was written by and for Wall Street interests for the sole purpose of making more money for people who have money. It makes cheap money readily available to speculators engaged in inflating financial bubbles and financing other predatory money scams. It makes money limited and expensive to those engaged in producing real wealth—life, and the things that sustain life—and pushes the productive members of society into indebtedness to those who produce nothing at all.
Money, the ultimate object of worship among modern humans, is the most mysterious of human artifacts: a magic number with no meaning or existence outside the human mind. Yet it has become the ultimate arbiter of life—deciding who will live in grand opulence in the midst of scarcity and who will die of hunger in the midst of plenty.
[ ... ]
To get ourselves out of our current mess and create the world we want, we must reboot the economy with a new, values-based operating system designed to support social and environmental balance and the creation of real, living wealth. We have seen what happens when government and big business operate in secret. The new system must be open to public scrutiny and democratic control. Globalization and the harshest form of capitalism have eroded the bonds of community and created vast gaps in wealth between the richest and the poorest. The new system must be locally rooted in strong communities and distribute wealth equitably.
Our environment and our infrastructure have paid a terrible price for the belief that private interests must always win over public ones. A viable system must balance public and private interests. Unregulated speculation is at the root of the current crisis. Society is better served by a system that favors productive work and investment, limits speculation, and suppresses inflation in all forms—including financial bubbles.
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MinistryOfTruth writes in Daily Kos:
...In Iran they are Yelling their Friggin Heads off! Ask an American to get off the couch and he will threaten to secede or call you a "whiner"
This is my memo to the RW Wingnuts, the "sensible" moderates and the cool aid drinking "Can do no wrong" crowd. Get up, get off your couch, start writing, calling, become an ACTIVIST, and start DOING SOMETHING!
If all you can do is voice your "concern" and rain on someone else's parade I suggest you use that right and remain silent, as your voice is not helping us progress towards change.
Yes, it is appropriate to compare the oppression in Iran and elsewhere with the oppression going on in the USA today. The severity is beyond comparison but the act of oppression is not. To deny this is foolishness.
A minority of wealthy, male, powerful religious extremists want to dictate how the majority of people live and die. Whether it is abortion, voting rights, equal rights or human rights. A few powerful people want to force everybody else to agree with them and do what they say.
This is just as true in Iran as it is in North Korea or America. There is a class war. There are two Americas. There are also two Irans, and Two North Koreas, but the same reality exists everywhere, and the same class war is being fought across the world.
When you shit on someone for yelling about it you are aiding the enemy. The enemy is the status quo, the enforcer of oppression and poverty, whether they wear sandals or business shoes or whether they trod on you with bare feet, it is the Iron Hell that stamps on your freedom, and when you call our outrage "whining" you just help to kick the weak while they are down. ...
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Sen, who has given up guerrilla warfare but remains involved with people's movements, finds it hard to comprehend the Maoists' strategy in Lalgarh. "After their armed action, the Maoists called it a 'liberated zone'. It was a huge tactical mistake. By saying so, they allowed the state to claim the moral high ground and proclaim, 'we are going against militants'. On the contrary, Nandigram became a legitimate people's movement cutting across party loyalties because it spoke of land and livelihood. As a consequence, the state tries to earn credibility to suppress the legitimate resistance of the poor and the oppressed," he says, with the wisdom of a 62-year-old who has seen it all.
His story is fascinating. He belongs to a middle-class Calcutta home and was radicalized as a student leader in Durgapur's Regional Engineering College. By the time he was in his fourth year of college, the Naxalbari movement had begun. Elsewhere in the world, the Vietnam war and Chinese Cultural Revolution were happening. Student activism was at its peak. Sen's life-changing moment occurred on June 1, 1969. A minor traffic accident led students to battle police near campus. The angry young people ransacked a police station. When a sub-inspector arrived on campus, he was taken hostage. The next day, 150 policemen stormed the campus. Every one was beaten up. One student was killed in the firing. "Till then we had a few naxalites. But the firing converted at least 30 of us who became full-timers. At least 600-700 students became naxal sympathizers," says Sen.
He went underground and became an organizer in Burdwan district. By day, he stayed in the homes of landless labourers; by night, he travelled around trying to raise a guerrilla army. Often his only meal would be a bit of puffed rice. He was allegedly on the police 'hit list'. "On one occasion, I was asked to leave a shelter at 4 am because it was no longer safe for me," he says. By 1973, Sen was disillusioned. "I could see there was no revolutionary condition as envisaged by our leaders."
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A few dozen students and their parents are occupying a Polish high school in Athens, Greece. They are protesting against the education ministry's decision to introduce distance learning in place of standard school lessons.
“From September 2009, schooling for first year classes at the high school will be conducted via distance learning classes, using on-line learning capacities,” says Magdalena Boguslawska, director of the institution responsible for Polish schools abroad.
A similar policy has been forced on a high school in Brussels, where distance learning is also going to substitute normal classes.
The network of Polish schools abroad affiliated to embassies needs to be reformed, claims the Ministry of National Education. But the real reason is money and cutbacks, Deputy Minister Krzysztof Stanowski revealed.
“Because of the depreciation of Polish zloty, we have lost one third of the budget. […]. If we don't do anything, we would spend all our budget by September 1,” Stanowski explained.
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Sunday, June 21, 2009
by Kristin Bricker (Narco News - 20Jun, 2009)
US Government Trained the Police Department that Participated in the Operation and Invested "Heavily" in the Killer Helicopters
On June 5, the Peruvian National Police (PNP) massacred up to fifty unarmed Awajún and Wampi indigenous people in Bagua who had blockaded roads in protest of land reforms related to a recently implemented US-Peru free trade agreement. Witnesses report that the PNP shot live ammunition from the ground, rooftops, and police helicopters. Anywhere between 61-400 people are reported missing following the attack.
Narco News has discovered that US drug war money is all over the massacre. The US government has not only spent the past two decades funding the helicopters used in the massacre, it also trained the PNP in "riot control."
The Peruvian National Police
The Peruvian National Police is a militarized police force and Peru's only national police force, meaning that Peru lacks a civilian federal police force. For this reason, the militarized PNP carries out regular policing functions in Peru, such as maintaining the peace and providing public security. Furthermore, "Counternarcotics operations in Peru are implemented primarily through the Ministry of the Interior by the Peruvian National Police," according to the US Government Accounting Office (GOA, now known as the Government Accountability Office). For this reason, the PNP receives a significant chunk of US drug war aid to Peru.
Basic details of the Bagua massacre such as exactly which police departments participated and how many indigenous protesters died remain unavailable two weeks after the massacre. Peru's La Primera newspaper--the only news outlet to provide information on specific police departments that participated in the massacre--writes, "The police operation was carried out by about 600 armed police from the Dinoes [Special Operations Department] and from the Anti-Drugs Department (DINANDRO), who shot head-on at protesters' bodies." Dinoes and DINANDRO are two forces within the Peruvian National Police.
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From A virtuoso muse:
She was Beethoven's inspiration, Goethe's companion and caught the eye of Napoleon. But many still regard Bettina Brentano as a fraud, says Jan Swafford (The Guardian - 23 Aug, 2003)
"Who," asked Napoleon Bonaparte, "is that fuzzy young person?" She was Elisabeth Brentano, known simply as Bettina. Actually, Napoleon was not among her conquests, nor was he her type.
She did not jump into his lap, as she did with Goethe, or croon her name into his ear, as with Beethoven, or go for intimate walks, as with Karl Marx. Napoleon did not dedicate a battle to her, as Beethoven, Schumann and Brahms dedicated songs and the Grimms an edition of their fairy tales. But, even at a distance, Bettina Brentano drew comment.
She was sister to one famous poet, wife to another and inspiration to others, but declined to write poetry. What she did write has outraged and fascinated people ever since. She was a supreme muse, a one-woman literary movement, at once among the singular and most representative figures of the Romantic century.
[ ... ]
She became a muse to beleaguered progressives; she was branded a communist before the Communist Manifesto; she campaigned against antisemitism. She got away with two extraordinary and dangerous political books entreating the Prussian throne to liberalise because she was a woman, and because the Prussian king was an admirer.
In her strange last book, Conversations with Demons, she imagines herself as a spirit whispering of reform to the king as he sleeps. She nearly went bankrupt publishing it and nobody read it.
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Editorial Preface to the English translation of Goethe's correspondence with a child by Bettina von Arnim - 1837 by Bruce G. Charlton
Goethe's Correspondence with a Child – English Translation – e-text edition by Bettine von Arnim
US Hypocrisy Toward Iran By Lori Price, www.legitgov.org
The world's biggest hypocrite and meddlesome nosy parker, the United States, has outdone itself with its reaction to the post-election events in Iran. At least five glaring 'grand hypocrisy' categories have emerged, with more likely on the way. What other country -- having just endured eight years of dictatorship as the result of two stolen elections -- could actually spew outrage over... another nation's 'stolen election?' Gag me with a green chainsaw.
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In the course of writing my woman-only commuter coaches post, I read an interesting Village Voice piece entitled The Politics of Groping by Richard Goldstein written in the context of the revelations of Arnold Schwarzenegger's groping history. It's an interesting article with interesting observations, particularly around how women's feeling of humiliation cause them to keep silent when they are groped, even women like Sen. Patty Murray, who was groped by Strom Thurmond in an elevator. I think Goldstein's proposed solution to groping is interesting to think about in light of the disagreements around how society ought to address groping which are illuminated in the woman-only commuter car phenomena; i.e., should separate spaces for women be created, or should the focus be on forcing men to stop groping.
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From Men-only train cars sought in groping fears:
TOKYO (Reuters) - Many women taking the crowded train in Tokyo opt for women-only carriages during the rush hour to avoid gropers.
Now, for fear of being accused of groping, some are asking for carriages reserved for men as well.
Ten shareholders of Seibu Holdings, which runs trains in the Tokyo area, have petitioned for carriages reserved for men.
"There have been many cases of groping, as well as false charges of groping, on Seibu Railway," the shareholders said in a notice seeking a vote at the company's annual meeting next Wednesday.
"While measures against groping, such as setting women-only carriages, have been effective to a certain extent, no measures have been taken against false charges of groping... In the spirit of gender-equality, a male-only carriage must be introduced."
Apparently it's a global epidemic:
By Paul Craig Roberts
A number of commentators have expressed their idealistic belief in the purity of Mousavi, Montazeri, and the westernized youth of Terhan. The CIA destabilization plan, announced two years ago (see below) has somehow not contaminated unfolding events.
The claim is made that Ahmadinejad stole the election, because the outcome was declared too soon after the polls closed for all the votes to have been counted. However, Mousavi declared his victory several hours before the polls closed. This is classic CIA destabilization designed to discredit a contrary outcome. It forces an early declaration of the vote. The longer the time interval between the preemptive declaration of victory and the announcement of the vote tally, the longer Mousavi has to create the impression that the authorities are using the time to fix the vote. It is amazing that people don't see through this trick.
As for the grand ayatollah Montazeri's charge that the election was stolen, he was the initial choice to succeed Khomeini, but lost out to the current Supreme Leader. He sees in the protests an opportunity to settle the score with Khamenei. Montazeri has the incentive to challenge the election whether or not he is being manipulated by the CIA, which has a successful history of manipulating disgruntled politicians.
There is a power struggle among the ayatollahs. Many are aligned against Ahmadinejad because he accuses them of corruption, thus playing to the Iranian countryside where Iranians believe the ayatollahs' lifestyles indicate an excess of power and money. In my opinion, Ahmadinejad's attack on the ayatollahs is opportunistic. However, it does make it odd for his American detractors to say he is a conservative reactionary lined up with the ayatollahs.
Commentators are "explaining" the Iran elections based on their own illusions, delusions, emotions, and vested interests. Whether or not the poll results predicting Ahmadinejad's win are sound, there is, so far, no evidence beyond surmise that the election was stolen. However, there are credible reports that the CIA has been working for two years to destabilize the Iranian government.
On May 23, 2007, Brian Ross and Richard Esposito reported on ABC News: “The CIA has received secret presidential approval to mount a covert “black” operation to destabilize the Iranian government, current and former officials in the intelligence community tell ABC News.”
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And some disturbing videos of people shot to death in the streets of Tehran (for mature audiences only) from the same source, here and here.
Sam Raimi's wonderfully disgusting Drag Me To Hell is all about a vengeful demon whose wrath is invoked over mortgage payments. And it's not the only class-conscious horror movie that will gnaw your socks off. We've got 15 more.
Like any decent horror movie, Drag Me To Hell had a not-so-subtle subtext about the kind of people who deserve to have demons barf up cats on them. In this case, it's a bank loan officer who comes from humble origins but aspires to join the upper middle class. To prove herself deserving of a promotion, she denies a poor all old woman an extension on her mortgage payment. Wrong move: the old woman calls down the wrath of an ancient demon on her. And the moral of the story is about as red as it gets. When the rich screw the poor out of their property, the poor will rise up (even from beyond the grave) and smash them.
Here are 15 other movies with ruddy moral centers for you to chew on as the banks suck you dry and your company gets downsized for the third time this year.
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The infamous trial of the ancient Greek philosopher, Socrates, has long been regarded as one of the first, most dramatic cases of a miscarriage of justice, ending in the death penalty for the founding father of Western thought.
Socrates was accused of "impiety" and "corrupting the young" in 399BC – charges many historians think were invented by his prejudiced fellow citizens – and was required to perform his own execution by consuming hemlock. But now a Cambridge University professor claims that Socrates' trial was legally just and that he was guilty as charged. What's more, Professor Paul Cartledge believes that Socrates actually invited his own death.
In his new book, Ancient Greek Political Thought In Practice, published today, Professor Cartledge says that while politicians and historians have used the trial to suggest that democracy can sometimes descend into mob rule, this was not one such example. "Everyone knows the Greeks invented democracy, but it was not democracy as we know it, and we have misread history as a result," he said. "The charges Socrates faced seem ridiculous to us but in ancient Athens they were genuinely felt to serve the communal good."
In his book, Professor Cartledge questions traditional arguments that Socrates was purely the victim of political infighting. Historians influenced by ancient writers, including Plato, have claimed that Socrates' open criticism of prominent Athenian politicians had made him many enemies, who then pinned the impiety and corruption charges on him to silence him. Other historian believe Socrates' teachings stirred political rebellion, and he was made an example at his trial by those seeking to quash dissidents in Athenian society.
Professor Cartledge said Socrates questioned the authority of many of the accepted gods and claimed to be guided by his inner "daimonon", a term which he may have intended to mean "intuition", but which could also be interpreted as a dark, supernatural influence, which would have outraged conventional believers.
[ ... ]
His most significant contribution to Western thought is the Socratic method of debate or Method of Elenchus, a dialectical method of questioning, testing and ultimately improving a hypothesis. Through asking a series of questions, the method sought to show contradictions in the beliefs of those who posed them, and systematically move towards a hypothesis free from contradiction. As such, it is a negative method, in that it seeks to identify and demarcate that which a person does not know, rather than which he does. Socrates applied this to the testing of moral concepts, such as justice. Plato produced 13 volumes of Socratic Dialogues, in which Socrates would question a prominent Athenian on moral and philosophical issues. So often cast as the questioner, it is hard to establish any of Socrates' own philosophical beliefs. He said his wisdom was an awareness of his own ignorance, and his statement, "I know that I know nothing" is often quoted.
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The manufacturer of a hydrogen car unveiled in London on Tuesday will make its designs available online so the cars can be built and improved locally.
The Riversimple car can go 80km/hr (50mph) and travels 322km (200mi) per re-fuelling, with an efficiency equivalent to 300 miles to the gallon.
The cars will be leased with fuel and repair costs included, at an estimated £200 ($315) per month.
The company hopes to have the vehicles in production by 2013.
Next year, it aims to release 10 prototypes in a UK city which has yet to be confirmed.
Riversimple has partnered with gas supply company BOC to install hydrogen stations for the cars in the city where the prototypes are launched.
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The research, forthcoming in the August 2009 issue of the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, expands our understanding of the correlation between happiness and democracy — and whether economic concerns outweigh political reforms in their impact on subjective well-being.
"Although one might suppose these questions are of interest — some might even say fundamental interest, considering that they involve comparing capitalism and socialism — they have received little attention in the voluminous literature on transition economies," says Richard Easterlin, USC University Professor and professor of economics at USC.
Easterlin examines life satisfaction in thirteen countries in the so-called communist-bloc using self-reported data from a range of sources, particularly the World Values Survey. Communist-bloc countries first appeared in the large-scale Survey in 1989, when a representative population in each country was asked to rate "life these days, as a whole" on a scale of 1 (dissatisfied) to 10 (satisfied).
Other surveys before and after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 asked similar questions about specific aspects of life — such as work, health, and standard of living — and about "the way democracy works in (your country)."
"The dissolution of the police states and increase in political and civil rights in many of the transition countries might have been expected to increase life satisfaction," Easterlin says. "The sharp decline that initially occurred suggests that adverse economic and social conditions trumped the political in their impact on subjective well-being."
The study finds that the trend in overall satisfaction with democracy is actually slightly negatively correlated to the trend in reported happiness after the fall of the Iron Curtain. This correlation is not statistically significant, according to Easterlin, but undermines the assertion by some scholars that democratization in these countries significantly increased happiness.
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