Thursday, January 15, 2009

'The Beatles' song "Let it be" blared as police gathered under a banner that read "no to violence." '

From At protest, Greek police seek friendlier image

About 400 police officers demonstrated in Athens against violence Thursday, following riots in Greek cities and attacks on police by a terrorist group.

Some protesters were in uniform as they gathered in Athens' main Syntagma Square.

Last months' riots were sparked by the fatal police shooting of a teenage boy Dec. 6. Police were targeted in shootings Dec. 23 and Jan. 5 that seriously wounded one officer.

The far-left group Revolutionary Struggle has claimed responsibility.

"Our colleagues are not afraid," said Giorgos Vlachos of the Greek police officers association. "Of course we remain on guard — that is our duty."

Vlachos said police are hoping to improve their image.

Canada orders US woman war resister (and new mother) deported

The Canadian government has ordered the deportation of Kimberly Rivera, the first U.S. woman Iraq war veteran resister to go to Canada, and four other U.S. war resisters. Rivera, her husband and three children, including a newborn daughter only six weeks old, must depart Canada by January 27 or be deported. Rivera now lives in Toronto with her husband Mario, son Christian (6 years), daughter Rebecca (4 years), and newborn Canadian daughter Katie (6 weeks).

Rivera served in the U.S. Army in Iraq in 2006, but refused a second tour in Iraq in 2007 and instead took her family to Canada. Her first tour in Iraq convinced Rivera that the war was immoral and that she could not participate in it.

Rivera's Pre-Removal Risk assessment application and request to stay in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds were denied by the conservative Stephen Harper government, although the Canadian government refused to join the Bush coalition of the willing and join in on the war in Iraq. The Canadian military's participation in the war in Afghanistan has been controversial as Canadian casualties rise.

The War Resisters Support Campaign in Canada believes the Canadian Immigration Minister's decision to deport Rivera and four other U.S. war resisters is based on the need to have the deportations completed before the Canadian Parliament returns in late January.

The Parliament adopted a resolution in June, 2008 that recommended to the Harper government that “conscientious objectors” to wars that are not authorized by the United Nations be allowed to apply for permanent residence status in Canada.

Immigration Minister Jason has said that the refugee claims of war resisters are "bogus" and that he "has no sympathy for them." Kenney has made it clear that his government intends to go against the will of Parliament and the will of Canadians.

If Rivera and the other U.S. war resisters are deported to the United States, or return voluntarily, they will face a military court-martial. Robin Long, the only other U.S. soldier to be deported from Canada, was court-martialed in 2008 at Fort Carson, Colorado and received a 15 month prison sentence and a dishonorable discharge, the longest sentence given to a war resister during the Iraq war.

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Musical Innerlube: Catherine Wheel

FRIPP (live)

Catherine Wheel "Fripp" live NYC 2000

Judy Staring At The Sun

Fantastic collaboration between British rock outfit Catherine Wheel and Throwing Muses/Breeders/Belly singer/songwriter Tanya Donelly. Appears on Catherine Wheel's 1995 album Happy Days with minimal vocals by Donelly, but this single remix joyfully features a Donelly vocals overload.

..and, as a goodbye gift from this blog to the outgoing US administration...

Eat My Dust You Insensitive F*ck

This is the classic "Eat My Dust You Insensitive F*ck" from Happy Days - the song is totally different from what you might expect from the title...and the girl in the vid is very "bouncy"...

[comment by jpdkiwi ]


Quelling dissent: The unfolding globalist agenda

From A new international agenda by Mikhail Gorbachev

Civil strife in Congo, Sudan and elsewhere in Africa has cost thousands of lives. The terrorist attacks on Mumbai were more than just a tragic reminder of the threat posed by terrorism: They also raised the issue of the responsibility of the state on whose territory this large-scale attack had been prepared. The situation in Afghanistan seems dismal. The Middle East remains a tinderbox. On top of it all, piracy has made a comeback, straight out of the dark ages.

The flows of migrants, social unrest in many countries (including some that are far from poor), the recent problems with contaminated food supplies, massive human rights violations - the list of the world's ills can go on and on.

There is an increasing sense of a world in turmoil, further aggravated by the crisis of the world economy.

Talking to people in different countries, again and again I hear these questions: What is happening? What is in store? Why have the world's political leaders failed to address effectively the old and new threats?

These are legitimate questions. To answer them, we must look at the underlying causes of recent events.

I am convinced that the root cause of the current widespread upheaval is the inability and even unwillingness of political leaders to correctly evaluate the situation after the end of the Cold War and jointly chart a new course.

The "winner's complex" - the fanfare of triumph sounded by the West after the Soviet Union left the international arena - obscured the fact that the end of the Cold War was not a victory for one side or one ideology. It was instead a common achievement and a common challenge, a call for major change.

But why change if, as Western politicians believed, all was fine? They would continue to lead the rest of the world with their unfailing doctrine of free markets and alliances like NATO, which were ready and eager to assume responsibility for peace in Europe and beyond.


From Europe's tempestuous youth by Ryan Harding

Last month a tide of turbulence and unrest swept across Greece in the form of virulent rioting and acts of aggression towards symbols of power and authority. While some leftist militant groups, such as Revolutionary Struggle, seized upon the state of unrest in Greece -perpetrating more severe acts of violence - this stage of tumult is symptomatic of a number of factors, which have not only led to disaffection amongst Greece's youth, but Europe's.

However, these cited factors, many of which are economically-related, may be somewhat of a red herring. In the search for the cause for the numerous localized riots across Europe as well as those wider spread and more destructive riots (such as the 2005 riots which gripped Parisian suburbs) what has become evident is that a subset of Europe's youth have displayed a propensity for uncivil disobedience, and, on the heels of this wave of riots and violence across Greece, seem to be at a crossroad.

Deconstructing Europe's youth

Withstanding high unemployment rates and a global economic downturn, has led to a population of youth in Europe who are disaffected and, quite frankly, angry. Unemployment rates for 18-25-year-olds are, in most instances, well above the national average, and this fact has often been adduced to help explain why it is that youth are at the center of social and political storms. Yet, beyond economics - which can be blamed, in part for the degree of upheaval in Greece and other youth-led riots in Europe occurring in recent years, and almost totally for the somewhat surprising riots, which occurred in Iceland - there is something greater.

Riots of recent years in Europe, from Belgian to Sweden, and from Italy to Spain, have had thematic similarities, sharing at least one of two common threads.  The most salient thread - uniting a great number of these individual and isolated occurrences - is religious/ethnic or race-related.


From The U.S. looks ugly indeed, but it's all relative by Jack Crooks

    * Emerging markets of all stripes have been cut-off from their funding sources. They're unable to make it up through exports in a world where consumer demand may have changed for some time.

    * Russia's pure, energy-dependent economy is imploding and unrest is rising; some believe the Putin regime is in trouble of being toppled. This adds to the potential that Russia will lash out in order to whip up nationalist frenzy to divert attention from dwindling economic alternatives and freedoms.

    * Social unrest in Russia will add to the riskiness of investing in Eastern and Central Europe, increasing the chances of country defaults in the region — Ukraine is already teetering! This will also add to Western Europe's banking woes since they are hugely exposed to emerging markets in Europe and elsewhere.

    * Rising tensions across the Eurozone increase the rising risk within the system as Greece's and Italy's fiscal status deteriorates by the day. Unrest in Greece among youth and anarchists could be the tip of the iceberg for broader unrest across the Eurozone as unemployment rises.

    * Global demand for exports has evaporated. And China, the world's biggest exporter, is feeling the pain in a big way. Factories across China are closing, unemployment is soaring, and social tensions are rising. This is a real wildcard. China knows its dependence on exports is coming around to bite them. Transition from an export-oriented to a consumer-driven economy doesn't happen overnight. China was already moving down the path of consumerism. But in the foreseeable future rising unemployment, falling reserves, and dwindling corporate profits will likely crush China's expected consumer growth in 2009.

    * Latin America is highly dependent on rising commodity prices and exports. Already, Ecuador has defaulted on its bonds because of falling revenues as oil prices tumbled. And the prospect for a big rebound in commodity prices looks dim because global demand continues to weaken. Tensions are rising across the region, too.


From Naxalism of the 60s subject of Goutam Ghosh's next film

Kolkata, Jan 12 (PTI) Rallies, agitations, street violence, student unrest, processions .... Bengal has seen it all and is still seeing them. But what was it like in the tumultuous 60s and early 70s, and does it have any relation with today's Nandigram and Singur? Eminent film-maker Goutam Ghosh wants to explore the truth in his next venture 'Kalbela' which is based on a novel of the same name on the violent Nalaxism of those days.
The feature film, produced by NFDC and scheduled to premier on January 16, is based on the academy ward-winning novel of eminent Bengali writer Samaresh Majumder which is one among many written on those uncertain days.

The film seeks to present the then Bengal in the grip of Naxalite movement by tracing the principal characters from the sylvan, but simmering Dooars forest to the political cauldron of College Street, Presidency College campus and university, recapturing the saga of the failed movement, imprisonment and police torture.

"In a sense I feel the film is more relevant today in the Kolkata of new milieu, of new priorities, new values and new perspectives which is re-witnessing agitations, movements and violence, on a smaller scale though.

The student violence these days remind me about the days of our youth," Ghosh told PTI here. PTI


From CSF In Mesquite by Herb Reed

Anyway, Obama is boasting that he's going to add 2.5 million jobs to the American workforce, but how?

To answer this, an audio clip has been found to shed light on Emanuel and Obama's plans for the USA, better known as the “National Civilian Security Force” (NCSF).

In an interview with Ben Smith of the New York Daily News, Emanuel outlined their agenda for this military-style training, essentially a domestic draft.

Emanuel stated that we're going to have “universal civil defense” training, a civil service for those somewhere between the ages of 18 to 25.

Emanuel continued, “There can be nothing wrong with all Americans having a joint experience of what we call civil defense training, which will give people a sense of what it means to be an American.”

Wow, an American civilian militia much like that of Cuba, North Korea, China, Venezuela, and the old Soviet Union.

[ ... ]

To see how this CFS thing is a little closer to home than we think, allow me to refresh our memories so that we can see how this will possibly affect us locally.

This past year, the Boy Scouts in Mesquite didn't seem to be “Americans” nor “Patriots,” since one of the Queen's handmaidens had put a stop to them doing their “good will” in the community.

The scouts were going to give out yellow bags for food donations for the Salvation Army and The Angel Tree project as they have done every year.

However, thanks to a new law which was enacted by “Her Majesty's Court,” the Scouts were told that they couldn't be “peddling the neighborhoods” begging for food, because they didn't have a permit.

Then it was stated that the scouts were NOT going to get a permit, and if they did pass out their yellow bags, they would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Interestingly, Naomi Wolf, noted author and social critic, draws chilling comparisons between how Mussolini used legal means to gradually take away democracy in Italy and how the U.S. is going down a similar path.

Going down this same path, I bet that you didn't know that the police departments across the nation were ready for civil unrest (even suggesting martial law) when the bailout was to take place.

It was suggested that “social unrest” was feared by the International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn and the U.S. Army War College's Strategic Institute.

According to the War College, Pentagon resources and U.S. troops were to be used if needed to quell protests and bank runs, and military force was to be used against hostile groups inside the United States.

Furthermore, trends forecaster Gerald Celente said that America would morph into the first "undeveloped" nation of the world by 2012, and that there will be a tax revolution marked by food riots, squatter rebellions, and job marches.

Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, Obama's supposed pick for Secretary of Homeland Security, would not provide comment on the possibility of civil unrest during the economic crisis.

'Nuf said, so are you ready for this?

Unheard of by me, but not my friend Sheyenne, there are FEMA Death Camps throughout America with two camps allegedly nearby with one in Cedar City, Utah and one in the Las Vegas, Nevada area.


From Unrest caused by bad economy may require military action, report says by Diana Washington Valdez

A U.S. Army War College report warns an economic crisis in the United States could lead to massive civil unrest and the need to call on the military to restore order.

Retired Army Lt. Col. Nathan Freir wrote the report "Known Unknowns: Unconventional Strategic Shocks in Defense Strategy Development," which the Army think tank in Carlisle, Pa., recently released.

"Widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities ... to defend basic domestic order and human security," the report said, in case of "unforeseen economic collapse," "pervasive public health emergencies," and "catastrophic natural and human disasters," among other possible crises.

The report also suggests the new (Barack Obama) administration could face a "strategic shock" within the first eight months in office.

Fort Bliss spokeswoman Jean Offutt said the Army post is not involved in any recent talks about a potential military response to civil unrest.


From Real Global Terrorists Giants by Zaheerul Hassan

The analyses of prevailing world over terrorism lead us to actual directors and masters i.e. FBI, CIA, RAW and Mossad. They are the ones who develop the plan, conspiracies, and sabotages activities world over to complete their grand- designs. These agencies operate from the same forum for joint ventures for terrorizing the world to create regional hegemony. We may term this group of intelligence agencies as “Real Global Terrorists Giants” who are on the job of annihilation of humanity and peace through their overt and covert actions against their neighbour countries and across the boundaries. Their self created anti terrorist approach   are just based on their illogical thoughts and perception.  

As a result of their irrational loom the world is facing, unrest, bleeding innocent people, deteriorating   economy, lament conditions of general masses, insecurity,  instability in developing countries, arms race, unjust, hanging UNO and  Security Council. .On January 3, 2008 Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Sing instead taking steps against extremists Hindus   allegedly asked Pakistan and Bangladesh to stop miscreants of using their lands. In fact America has selected Israel and India as her watch dogs in Middle and South Asia' the aim of US is to control the world economy through them. Efforts should be made by the nations of these watch dogs to stop their respective governments in becoming American's slaves, if these nation really believe in establishing permanent regional peace. As per internet reports there is a 'manual' on Irregular warfare (IW) which is officially used to be release only to 'students from foreign countries on a case-by-case basis is worth reading. The subjects covered in it enable us to know the inside motives of Chief of Theorists Giants Group. 

The constituent activities of IW are: insurgency, counter insurgency, Terrorism, counter terrorism, Stability, security, transition, and reconstruction (SSTR) operations, Strategic communication (SC), PSYOP, Civil-military operations (CMO), Information operations (IO)'Intelligence and counterintelligence (CI) activities. 

Though US Army has introduced this manual now but there agencies in collaboration of RAW and Mossad were already undertaking these tasks. Some of their actions are now become an open secret for whole world. The Association for Responsible Dissent estimates that by 1987, 6 million people had died as a result of CIA covert operations. 

Some of overt and covert joint operations   of terrorist's giants were, 1) Corrupting democratic elections in Greece, Italy, and dozens of other nations; 2) Involved in number of 35 assassination plots against foreign heads of state or prominent political leaders. Successful assassinations include democratically elected leaders like Salvador Allende (Chile) and Patrice Lumumba (Belgian Congo), 3) CIA-created dictators like Rafael Trujillo (Dominican Republic) and Ngo Dinh Diem (South Vietnam); and popular political leaders like Che Guevara,4) Unsuccessful attempts range from Fidel Castro to Charles De Gaulle. 5) Helped launch military coups that toppled democratic governments, replacing them with brutal dictatorships or juntas ,6) Undermined the governments of Australia, Guyana, Cambodia, Jamaica and more; 7) brutality against Kashmiris and Sikhs ,8) Crushing Palestinians, Supporting murderous dictators like General Pinochet (Chile), the Shah of Iran, Ferdinand Marcos (Philippines), “Papa Doc” and “Baby Doc” Duvalier (Haiti), General Noriega (Panama), Mobutu Sese Seko (Ziare), the “reign of the colonels” (Greece), and more; interference in Russia and China., killing of Benazir Bhutto, murder of President Kanyadi [sic] and opposing Pakistan Nuclear programme.


From Nervous Russia stomps dissent by Fred Weir

The collapse of oil prices and the Russian ruble have ignited relatively small protests against the government here. But reaction from the Kremlin has been fast and furious.

Nationwide rallies planned for Sunday are expected to draw even larger crowds and will be the next major test of a Russian leadership increasingly anxious over dissent.

Leaders of the still-influential Communist Party, which is staging the upcoming rallies, say the Kremlin's fears were on display during protests last weekend in Moscow and St. Petersburg, when thousands of riot troopers confronted a few hundred demonstrators from the Other Russia, a broad anti-Kremlin coalition, and arrested 150 of them.

"On its face it seems ridiculous to see thousands of cops beating up a handful of peaceful demonstrators; logic dictates that they ought to ignore us," says Eduard Limonov, leader of the banned leftist National Bolshevik Party. "But the authorities fear opposition and ... [as the economic crisis grows] they have good reason for that. They read the FSB [security police] reports and they know that we are very well organized and ready to lead in the case of mass social unrest."

Mr. Limonov was among those detained and allegedly manhandled by police last Sunday.

Communist Party leaders have called for a nationwide day of "anticapitalist" rallies Sunday against growing unemployment and price rises. Although it's never easy to predict how many protesters will show up, organizers feel safe in their forecasts that hordes of police will be on hand.

"Our authorities want no protests to be seen on the streets in order to maintain the illusion that they still have the support of the majority of the population," says Oleg Kulikov, a leading Communist State Duma deputy.


From China's year of pomp and vigilance by Wu Zhong

While the Chinese generally like the number "eight" as it sounds like the word for "fortune", the number "nine" may prove more significant in the modern history of China, at least it did during the second half of the 20th century.

Since 1949 when Mao Zedong proclaimed on Tiananmen Gate the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC), many major historical events have occurred in years marked with the number "nine" at the end. These events will all mark their decade anniversaries this year.

Decade anniversaries are important in Chinese tradition. Even the Chinese sage Confucius said of himself: "At 30, I took my stand; at 40, I no longer had doubts; at 50, I knew the will of the heavens; at 60, my ear was attuned; at 70, I follow all the desires of my heart without breaking any rule."

Chinese Communist Party (CCP) authorities will organize grand ceremonies for some of this year's decade anniversaries, such as the 30th anniversary of Beijing's proposal for detente with arch rival Taiwan; the 30th anniversary of the country's establishment of formal diplomatic relations with the United States; and the 60th birthday of the PRC.

But other more sensitive anniversaries are more likely to unnerve them, such as the 50th anniversary of the failed Tibetan armed rebellion against Chinese rule, and the 20th anniversary of the crackdown on protesters in Tiananmen Square. Chinese authorities will be making every effort to prevent any commemorative activities for these events.

After the mammoth job of hosting last year's Summer Olympic Games, the agenda of China's leadership this year, aside from weathering the global financial crisis, will be dominated by organizing celebrations for the former and preventing dissent related to the latter.


From Pyramid Schemes in Colombia by Anastasia Moloney

The biggest pyramid company, DMG Group Holdings, boosted high-profile investors, including local celebrities and offered its customers too-good-to-be-true interest rates of up to 200 percent. The government eventually closed down DMG in November, sparking widespread protests among investors who looted its offices in a desperate attempt to withdraw their savings. Local mayors, taken by surprise, issued curfews to stem civil unrest.

So far, the Colombian economy has weathered the global recession relatively well in comparison to other countries in the region, such as Argentina and Mexico. But the collapse of dozens of pyramid schemes has led to the country's very own financial crisis. Local councils who invested in pyramid companies have seen their budgets shrink overnight and social projects put on hold.

In the past, President Uribe has been able to masterfully distance himself from the deluge of scandals that have confronted his government during his six years in power, from the so-called “para-politics” affair, which links lawmakers to illegal right-wing paramilitary groups, to human-rights abuses committed by the military.

But this scandal is different. The majority of DMG victims say the President is to blame. They say he failed to take action earlier and close down rogue pyramid companies. Journalists and judicial officials raised the alarm about pyramid schemes mushrooming across the country and their alleged links with drug money laundering two years ago. The affair has led many to question the Uribe government's competence and attention to financial oversight, and revealed long-running tensions between the President and attorney general's office.

During the height of protests in early November, in an unprecedented move, Uribe gave two television addresses within a week. In a rare admission of failure, he acknowledged that the government had not acted in time and tried to reassure investors that they would be compensated for their losses, estimated to be around $1billion. How this is possible, though, is unclear.


From World hunger crisis spiralling out of control

Without a rapid injection of funds, millions of people in Haiti, the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Kenya and other hunger hot spots will run out of food assistance by the end of March, when warehouse stocks run out. WFP is voluntarily funded, and relies on annual contributions for all of its programs.

Sheeran said that with a mere 1% of what has been tabled for financial rescue packages and stimulus packages in the United States and Europe, developed countries could fully fund the work of the World Food Program, and make a mark toward meeting other urgent hunger needs, for example feeding all 59 million hungry school children worldwide ($3 billion per year) and the establishment of a reserve fund for fast acquisition of food stocks for emergencies.

Funds are also needed to boost the agricultural production of small-holder farmers who have seen the price of seeds and fertilizers more than double since 2006.

"World leaders need to be confronted with the values implicit in the policy choices they are making," Sheeran said. "The world is poised to produce trillions for financial rescue packages. What will they produce for the human rescue?"

WFP's urgent call comes off the back of historically high food prices, followed by continued market volatility. The global financial crisis, which is enveloping the developed world, is spilling into the developing world as incomes are affected, and trade, capital flows and remittances slow.

This month, the Kyrgyz government asked WFP to help feed 600,000 people pushed into desperate hunger following a sharp decline in the remittances which account for 20% of the country's GDP.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced last week that another 40 million people have been pushed into hunger this year primarily due to high food prices, bringing the total number of hungry to nearly 1 billion worldwide. This increase comes after four decades of progress when the international community collectively helped to bring down the percentage of hungry people from 37% to 17%.

Sheeran noted that hunger can lead to civil unrest, as witnessed in Haiti, where people were killed and a prime minister was driven from office when food prices soared earlier this year. There were riots in dozens of other countries around the world.


From Beyond The Age Of Usury by Sharon Kayser

From one extreme to the other: in the sweatshop parallel universe, Chinese authorities ready themselves for mass social unrest. In a blunt statement, the chairman of China's largest sovereign wealth said that China won't rescue Western banks. There too, the government has decided to embark on a spending highway with £373bn bail-out package, and this may also imply the eventual dumping of the nefarious US dollar already affecting the rich city of Dubai where speculators are throwing in the towel as a lending drought bursts 'Desert Bubble'. The most comedic element in this grand scale drama is the story of Donald Trump who sues the banks for $3BN for having failed to foresee the housing collapse that is now damaging his reputation in order to avoid the $40M he owes in banking interests.

In the Vanity Fair December issue, a columnist wrote an extremely well articulated piece, which also reveals the latest estimate of jobs New York is going to lose, both on and off Wall Street, amounting to l60,000 to start with. Michael Shnayerson's intro reads like a hook scene:

    ... Even many of the wealthiest players are retrenching. Others, like the Lehman Brothers bankers who borrowed against their millions in stock, have lost everything. Hedge-fund managers try to sell their luxury homes, while trophy wives are hocking their jewelry. The pain is being felt on St. Barth's and at Sotheby's, on benefit-gala committees and at the East Hampton Airport, as the world of the Big Rich collapses, its culture in shock and its values in question.

Last week Bernanke said that he was not against the possibility to drive interest rates down to near zero if necessary but urged decisive action to protect the economy... the meaning of this can be found in the reason why The BofE contemplates radical plans to inject cash directly into the economy - the nuclear option - to be used only when interest rates approach zero; an action seconded by President Jean-Claude Trichet, hinting in the press conference to announce the ECB's 75 basis point rate cut that it may also consider "nuclear options".

The term **nuclear** ought to be taken literally in this particular case. If a well known market guru such as Marc Farber didn't let himself be duped, it should scare the hell out of you. In a recent CNBC interview, an outraged Farber calmly explained what the stakes were, as concluding that world central bankers were merely imploding the world economy.


From The Deflation Scam

And what does veteran investor Jim Rogers think about this? In a recent Bloomberg interview he predicted that the dollar is “going to lose its status as the world's reserve currency,” adding, “It will be devalued and it will go down a lot. These guys in Washington, they want to debase the currency.”

“They think that if you drive down the value of your money, it makes you more competitive, now that has never worked in history in the long term,” said Rogers.

Paul Watson of the Prison Planet states:

The head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, warned that advanced nations will be hit by violent civil unrest if the elite continue to restructure the economy around their own interests while looting the taxpayer. Strauss-Kahn's comments echo those of others who have cautioned that civil unrest could arise, specifically in the U.S., as a result of the wholesale looting of the taxpayer and the devaluation of the dollar.

How long will it be before Americans realize the looming specter of hyperinflation spells disaster for their life savings? How long will it be before we see rioting in the streets on a par with the scenes witnessed in Iceland over the weekend, where the Icelandic krona has lost half its value in a matter of weeks?

I'm not buying the deflation argument. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see 10-12% inflation for the next several years. I've been buying gold coins since gold was $500/ounce and I've been adding to my position on pullbacks. Maybe in a few years' time, $850 gold and $12 silver may look like a bargain!


From The great depression and avoiding the next great war by Dallas Darling

This breach of international law and misguided nationalism witnessed the slogan “Today Germany! Tomorrow the World!” The idealism and rationale of the Locarno Treaty and the hope of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, specifically the goal of “uniting the civilized nations of the world in a common renunciation of war as an instrument of their national policy,” was quickly being dismantled.

The World did not avoid the Second World War. Neither did it prevent the Cold War and Global War on Terror. If all great movements in history are the result of an economic class struggle (as Karl Marx wrote), then they are also the result of an internal “human” conflict between choosing war and violence or peace and diplomacy in solving international crises. In choosing the former, humankind has not yet learned to master its will and emotions.

A good New Year's resolution would be to maintain a discerning spirit and inquisitive mind. It would also be to reject ignorance, greed, malice, hysteria, and militarism. In these times of economic hardship, people should try and pursue the idealistic policy of, “Today Justice! Tomorrow Peace!” If not, the entire world - not just Europe, Korea, Vietnam, Africa, Latin America, and now the Middle East and Gaza - may (at one time or another) become a vast “no man's land” and experience a “lost generation,” literally that is!

The crisis of the capitalist world

John Maynard Keynes, the English economist who had been perceptive enough to realise this, had therefore suggested an alternative source of growth itself, an alternative to the phenomenon of "bubbles-led growth".  This was through what he had called the "socialization of investment", i.e. the capitalist State, as the representative of society at large (being a Liberal he held this theory of the State), should always ensure enough aggregate demand to keep the economy as close to full employment as possible.  A necessary condition for such activism on the part of the State according to him was "the euthanasia of the rentier", i.e. the "mercy-killing" of the financial interests, which, he knew, would always oppose such activism.  Keynes in other words did not just call for the regulation of capitalism, but its transformation in a manner that would ensure near-full employment and hence undermine a major argument for socialism.

Keynes' ideas, though meant to defend capitalism, were repugnant to finance capital and met with immediate rejection.  The capitalist world came out of the 1930s Depression not because of Keynesian measures, but because of military spending in the run up to the Second World War.  It is only after the war that the increase in the political weight of the working class, expressed through the rise to power of Social Democracy, and the temporary setback suffered by finance capital, allowed the adoption of Keynesian measures of "demand management" by the capitalist States, which both kept employment rates consistently high and prevented financial crises (as would have occurred if "bubbles" had been allowed to develop as the means for stimulating growth).  But the emergence of finance capital to a position of hegemony all over the capitalist world, in the new garb of "globalized finance", which pushed for neo-liberal policies everywhere, put an end to Keynesianism, and the resumption of the process of "bubbles-led growth".  The Great Crash we are currently witnessing is the necessary outcome of this process.

Three conclusions follow: first, as already mentioned, such Great Crashes reflect not the failure of the system, but the system itself; secondly, the system they reflect is the system of contemporary capitalism, which is necessarily marked by the hegemony of finance capital, and sustained, because of this hegemony, by a process of "bubbles-led growth".  And third, the specific policy measures adopted in such crisis situations depend not upon the "wisdom" of such measures, but upon the balance of class forces or the state of class struggle.  In short, what measures the capitalist economies are going to adopt in the face of this crisis today depends upon the extent to which the hegemony of finance capital can be confronted.

Two broad approaches have come to the fore among the governments in capitalist countries for tackling the crisis: the first of these emphasizes fiscal expansion by the capitalist States.  But expansion by any single capitalist State, if undertaken in isolation, will have its effects largely "leaking" out of the economy (to a point where the benefits accruing to other countries would be greater than to itself).  Because of this, the expansion will have to be a coordinated one among several capitalist States, or else the fiscally-expanding economy will be tempted to put up protectionist barriers which will exacerbate conflicts and compound the problem.  But any such coordinated fiscal expansion, or indeed any fiscal expansion for that matter, will have to be based on control over cross-border financial flows, i.e. control over the mobility of globalized finance, since, otherwise, large-scale and speculative shifts of finance from one country to another can easily destabilize fiscal policy.

The second approach is to avoid doing anything positive, to avoid fiscal expansion, merely to support the financial system, and to wait for the next "bubble" to come along.  This is the approach that Herbert Hoover, the American President before Franklin Roosevelt, had adopted, which had the effect of prolonging and worsening the crisis, and the approach that George Bush has been inclined towards.

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Bloggers going underground in wake of Minerva arrest

South Korea's Internet community is in shock. Renowned Internet bloggers and writers are deleting their writings and going underground. The prosecution's arrest of the influential Internet pundit “Park,” who is best known by his Internet alias “Minerva,” seems to be having an immediate impact on cyberspace. Still, the public appears divided over whether the prosecution is actually attempting to control the Internet using age-old regulations and, if so, whether it will succeed, because so much of what is posted to the Internet is done via a pseudonym.

The Internet is supposed to be a space where free participation is guaranteed. Unlike in-person forums led by experts, the Internet gives ordinary people a chance to offer opinions and create their own content. The Internet created an environment in which success or failure hinged on the quality of the content being posted, which helped usher in the era of user created content.

“Technically speaking, there is no difference between Daum's Agora debate section and mini homepages. If an ordinary netizen is punished for what he posted in cyberspace just because it is not correct, it will threaten the Internet's ecosystem,” said Kang Jang-mook, a professor at Sejong University. “At a time when we have to work hard to develop the Internet with better software and content, the arrest of Minerva could empty out cyberspace.”

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Ex-CIA officer airs concerns about Pakistan

Issues that Americans worry about, such as terrorism and nuclear proliferation, come together in a dangerous way in Pakistan, said a former CIA officer and senior adviser on the Middle East to presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

Bruce Riedel was in Riverside on Monday to give a talk sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Inland Southern California based at Riverside City College.

He based the title of his talk, "Pakistan: The Most Dangerous Country in the World," on a memo he wrote to Clinton.

Riedel said the purpose of the talk is to expose people to the complexity of the problem of Pakistan.

"If there is a nuclear war in our lifetimes, it's most likely between Pakistan and India," Riedel said in an interview before his talk.

If there is another 9/11-type event, it will come from Pakistan, Riedel said.

Riedel was on Clinton's staff in 1999 when he wrote a memo that contributed to Clinton's efforts to engage with the Pakistanis. But that effort was foiled by a 1999 coup by Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Riedel said.

Riedel decided to study the Middle East after growing up as the child of a political adviser at the U.N. He received a bachelor's degree from Brown University and a master's degree from Harvard. A Brookings Institution fellow since 2006, he unofficially began advising then-Sen. Barack Obama on foreign policy affairs in April 2007.

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Ergenekon: The Turkish Gladio?

Ihsan Bal writes in the Journal of Turkish Weekly:

The Ergenekon investigation faces severe criticism with the point it reached today regarding the excessive time it takes to prepare the indictment as well as the applicability of the judicial procedures.  It is clear that the criticism will enable a better functioning investigation process; however it is ultimately dangerous when the criticisms overshadow the process and the successes of the operations and the investigation, especially, claiming that the operations are purely political, as the government is using them to clear the opposition. The Susurluk investigation was not successfully completed for many of the same reasons. If the government and the institutions fully supported the investigation, Turkey would have been promoted to the league of “fully democratic nations” many years ago. Calling the investigations “nonsense”, as the Prime Minister did in 1996 was wrong; but it is to not support the prosecutors and the police force- conducting the investigation. In order to get rid of such illegal underground organization, the government and the institutions need to fully cooperate by providing logistical support for the investigations.

The second criticism of the Ergenekon operation regards taking high profile bureaucrats, officers, businessmen into custody who seem to have no links (in public) to the Ergenekon organization. The criticism is strong enough to remind us of the oppressive authoritarian regimes. The Ergenekon investigation has probably gone through the most democratic controls and observations in Turkish history. Heavily criticizing the process and relating it to the oppressive authoritarian periods is unfair considering the fact that there is much room for media to follow everything step by step and criticize every minor mistake in the operations. Above all, the prosecutors and the judges are not on the junta side, they are on the state's side. Therefore an intervention in the judicial process, heavily and constantly criticizing the judges, will not serve to the best interest of Turkey.

One other criticism of the investigations stems from the possible involvement of high profile persons which is skeptically received by the public. The investigation process continues, but considering that Gladyo in Italy found support even from the President, and in the GAL operation in Spain it was found that high level bureaucrats and politicians were involved and prosecuted, this skepticism is no longer relevant. Of course it is not correct to relate every name associated with the Ergenekon operation to the past assassinations. But it is also not correct to claim that these people cannot possibly be related to the organization because of their high-rank status. Turkey will be able to take a step towards the “democratic league” once it is able to accept the fact that any person including a high-profile figure can be taken to court, tried in front of a judge when a crime is committed.

Categorizing the Ergenekon operation as secular vs. non-secular, Kemalist vs Non-Kemalists is nothing more than manipulating the investigation and the public. After all, even the persons accused are not defending themselves this way. During the Susurluk investigation – the common phrase heard over and over again is “what I did was for the best of my country” and in the Ergenekon investigation, the use of Kemalism, flag, nation, country and etc. is only abusing these values for personal benefit. Using such values in order to prove innocence may have different meanings. At the end of the investigations, if these people are found guilty, they should also think of the damage they made to the values they claim to protect. Therefore the ones demanding the Ergenekon operation are those who want more democracy, more transparency and more justice. The only way to find out the truth is through fully supporting the investigations by providing only constructive criticism to the judges and the prosecutors.

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'If only [online] enlightenment was that simple'

From The Internet Is Bad For You by Andrew Keen

In the Europe of the 1930s, representative democracy's abject failure to confront the rage of mass unemployment and dislocation led to the rise of fascist organizations such as the Spanish Falangists, the German National Socialists, and the Romanian Iron Guard. What the interwar fascists provided—with their messianic leaders, their torchlight parades, their xenophobic propaganda—was a placebo to the hopelessness that had enveloped ordinary people's lives.

The 1930s fascists were expert at using all the most technologically sophisticated communications technologies—the cinema, radio, newspapers, advertising—to spew their destructive, hate-filled message. What they excelled at was removing the the traditional middlemen like religion, media, and politics, and using these modern technologies of mass communications to speak with reassuring familiarity to the disorientated masses.

[ ... ]

Imagine if today's radically unregulated Internet, with its absence of fact checkers and editorial gatekeepers, had existed back then. Imagine that universal broadband had been available to enable the unemployed to read the latest conspiracy theories about the Great Crash on the blogosphere. Imagine the FDR-baiting, Hitler-loving Father Charles Coughlin, equipped with his “personalized” YouTube channel, able, at a click of a button, to distribute his racist message to the suffering masses. Or imagine a marketing genius like the Nazi chief propagandist Josef Goebbels managing a viral social network of anti-Semites which could coordinate local meet-ups to assault Jews and Communists.

In an America with universal broadband access and 50 million unemployed people, expect the biggest online hit to be a mash-up of Loose Change and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion—an “innovative” low budget movie blaming the entire global financial meltdown on all the (Robert) Rubins and (Larry) Summers of Wall Street.

Silicon Valley utopians argue that blaming the Internet for online hatred is like blaming Johannes Gutenberg, the 15th century inventor of the moveable type printing press, for Mein Kampf. And that's true, of course. Yet given the way in which we know that the unfiltered Internet spreads corrosive lies and inflames prejudice, why would we want to give all Americans universal broadband access at the very moment when millions of them will be unemployed, disorientated and angry? Rather than spending billions of dollars in telecom technology, wouldn't it be better to invest that money in local libraries and librarians, where their education could be supervised by accountable human beings.

Politics and Democracy: time for a rethink

From Rethinking Democracy – Are Societies becoming Less Democratic and Citizens Less Knowledgeable? by J. Rogers Hollingsworth

The dynamics of a system in which information grows at an exponential rate but in which understanding or knowledge grows at a very modest rate pose severe problems for a democratic society. Democratic governance is based on the assumption that citizens and/or their elected representatives have an enlightened understanding of the issues confronting their society. However, the increasing specialization and fragmentation of the production of knowledge has become so vast and complex that no person can authoritatively know more than a fraction of all that can be known on any important issue of the day. Elected officials increasingly rely on specialized staffs and bureaucrats for information about critical issues. But even their advisors have only a specialized view of the world and generally fail to comprehend the interconnections among issue areas. Increasingly, elected officials as well as citizens conclude that the only way to know something is to rely on the word of an alleged authority in a specialized field. Hence, our societies are slowly moving toward more authoritarian political cultures despite traditional commitments to the traditions of democratic ideals and beliefs. The basic argument here is that the lack of knowledge of citizens and their elected representatives is creating a widening gap between the democratic ideals which our societies profess and the way that we are actually governed.

At a surface level, it has appeared for several decades that the world was becoming increasingly democratic. By the end of the last century, almost every nation-state made some claim to legitimacy by contending that it was democratic. During the 1980s, the People's Republic of China, the Soviet Union and various regimes of Eastern Europe proclaimed that they had democratic governments. A few years ago, the sense of optimism about the future of democracy had become so prevalent that one prominent social critic suggested we had reached the end of history (Fukuyama, 1992). In this spirit, it seems appropriate in this volume which focuses on democracy and knowledge that we confront the question of whether such optimism about the future of democracy is excessive, or whether such a view is a mere illusion. This essay focuses on several trends which suggest that there is worrying evidence that the world is becoming less democratic – especially if we assume that democratic governance means that citizens have an enlightened understanding of the issues confronting their societies and are in positions to participate effectively in shaping political agenda, decision making, and outcomes and to hold decision makers accountable for their actions. We must recognize that virtually all political philosophers who have discussed democracy in the past have correctly recognized that all systems which have been labeled as democratic have always fallen short of an ideal democratic system. But the following discussion suggests not just that reality falls short of democratic ideals but that there are a number of uncontrollable historical forces which are reversing the potential of “modern” societies to be democratic.


From The Fallacy of American Democracy by Devon Campbell

Even a representative democracy may afford a small bit of influence to the people--if it works. Ours does not. It has not. It will not in the near future without serious reform. That's where it really breaks down. Most people who are able to vote are near the middle of the US political spectrum. This means they are not interested in changing things very much. For virtually any politician to suggest far-reaching changes of the electoral system would not only mean almost certain failure of said changes but would also be political suicide. The reform needed to fix the system cannot happen because the system will not let it.

It's the best system out there.

In our examination of the power granted to people by democracy for self-governance, we have established that our democracy, in its current incarnation, is almost hopelessly flawed. There was another popular political system which, in one of it's largest incarnations, was flawed:

"Marx predicted that socialism and communism would be built upon foundations laid by the most advanced capitalist development. Russia, however, was one of the poorest countries in Europe with an enormous, largely illiterate peasantry and a minority of industrial workers." (via Wikipedia)
Let me make it clear that I am not suggesting communism as an ideal alternative. (Hopefully, this will head off the anti-communist zealots!) However, what right do we have to wave the flag of superiority when the factor which lead to our victory in the Cold War was most likely nothing more than the fact that we were able to spend $8 trillion fighting it?


From Missionaries of Democracy by Stephen C. Preston

Representative democracy, especially as practiced in the "Western democracies," involved a periodic choice of a set of dictators (called "representatives") who decide policy and create laws among themselves. Even before we get into the problems resulting in the implementation of democracy, we find problems with the concept even abstractly.

The main problem is that by delegating the responsibility for major decisions to representatives, the people have forfeited any direct control over government. The representatives are not compelled to act in the interests of their constituents once they are elected, except through the implicit and often illusory threat of being voted out. Thus they are led to vote in their own personal interests, and corruption is absolutely inevitable.

The most profound instance of this, which now occurs on a regular basis, is the declaration of war. Immanuel Kant once explained that if given a choice, people would rarely choose to fight a war; but in a dictatorship, the dictator loses nothing from declaring war. Kant was right here; but the problem is that no modern democracy actually asks the people for their consent in going to war. In fact, the Ludlow Amendment of the 1930s, which proposed to hold referenda on the question of declaring non-defensive war, was ridiculed by many of the liberals at the time. In representative government, the representatives do not sacrifice anything by declaring war, and so they readily go to war. America itself has been at war many times this century, demonstrating the fallacy of the "peaceful democracy."

So representative democracy is inherently inferior, in this aspect, to more direct forms of democracy, including referenda. But even supposing representative democracy was the only practical form of democracy and thus the ideal, its implementation in non-Western countries has often been flawed. A good implementation of representative democracy requires "free and fair" elections and a genuine choice of candidates. Implementations supported by the United States, however, have sometimes deliberately fallen short of these conditions.

The phrase "free and fair" implies a choice that is made free of coercion. Our government, however, often explicitly tries to coerce people in other countries to vote the way it wants. Most notoriously, the US, after having imposed a blockade and economic sanctions on Nicaragua for 12 years, declared that sanctions would be lifted only if the Nicaraguans voted for the American-endorsed candidate. The US is now using the same tactic in Serbia, to coerce Serbs into opposing Milosevic in the next elections by starving them with sanctions.

The issue of a genuine choice between candidates is a problem not only in the fledgling democracies, but here as well: the official candidates all agree on most issues. In South Korea's recent election, for example, the IMF demanded that all Presidential candidates support IMF proposals; this was a serious restriction, since most of the population did not.


From Who Is Represented By A "Representative Government" by Craig J. Bolton

The fundamental fallacy of the contemporary analysis of representative government is that representative government will, or is suppose to, "represent the people." The only reason that classical liberals generally preferred "representative democracy" or republicanism to monarchy was that it was possible to change rulers without the social disruption of revolution. The notion that the legislature was inherently a repository of liberty, since "the peoples' representatives" would never tyrannize the people was abandoned by all legitimate liberals who were attentive to the history of the French Revolution and the American Civil War well before the close of the early 19th Century. Representative government was the lesser of evils, not a good in itself.

It is time to reevaluate the traditional liberal commitment to "representative democracy" as the best of the available forms of government. The technology existing today, which is progressively more accessible to "the masses" as well as "select elites," makes direct democracy or even unanimity more feasible than it has been since the days of the city state. Since democracy is inherently divisive, it is to be expected that a commitment to democracy will also be associated with a rejection of large scale political institutions such as the nation state. Whereas representative government makes feasible the large scale tyrannies of the 20th Century, pure democracy will tear apart such structures in favor of the self rule of groups of people with common values and ideals. Democracy is not freedom, but it is one of the several tools that may enhance the chances for the triumph of freedom. .


From We again confront the core meaning of a representative democracy by TahitiNut

In a very real sense, it seems, even self-proclaimed "democrats" are accepting the corrupt meme of an elected dictator ... which, I assert, is the most fundamental corruption of today's GOP. George W. Bush called it a "mandate" and proclaimed his authority (in 2005) to enact HIS agenda irrespective of the fact that it, in MANY instances, reflected the will of a narrow minority with an unbounded appetite to assert their will on the majority. That's the essence of what most see as fascism ... under the specious cover of an 'election.' It does NOT become less dictatorial by having an 'election' every four years ... any more than if we were to assassinate a dictator every four years only to have the reins of power taken up by his relative or crony.

What's even MORE appalling is the indolent willingness of the electorate to "Let George Do It" ... and ignore any moral duty to TAKE back our responsibility for self-governance. The elimination of ANY mandatory national service of ANY kind only serves to enable and facilitate such moral cowardice. IMHO.


From Exclusive Interview with Ecuadorian President by Oscar Sanchez Serra

"I insist on the idea that Latin America is not experiencing a time of change, but a change of era. If you compare the Latin America of today, its rulers, its leaders, with the Latin America of 10 years ago, the difference is enormous. Remember the Latin America of Menem, Collor de Mello, Fujimori, Jorgito Endara in Panama… today we have rulers who are more autonomous, more sovereign, more progressive. Neoliberal governments collapsed like houses of cards; a few of them are a still surviving here and there, but generally speaking, there have been many successive victories of leftist governments.

That means that we are in agreement about many things, and like never before, there is a pro-integration determination and spirit, but integration that we must materialize into concrete, tangible facts, into benefits for our peoples. In this context, there is a more united Latin America, with more agreement, more of a pro-integration spirit, and one palpable demonstration of that was the meeting in Salvador de Bahía, where Cuba joined the Rio Group. That was something that would have been unthinkable 10 years ago; it would have been necessary to ask the permission of a certain power in the North.

In the social aspect, I think much remains to be done, and that not much can be achieved while the same systems of before persist; it is not more capitalism, more neoliberalism or more markets that will solve these things. Latin America needs an alternative system, and in some countries — Ecuador, Paraguay, Bolivia, Venezuela — there is an attempt to do this.

In the social aspect, unfortunately, I think that Latin America has not made much progress; we need to advance much more rapidly. That is the case in the economic aspect, as well. We still have very vulnerable, dependent systems, and it is very costly for us, for example, when there is a crisis that was not of our making, of which we have not been the originators or accomplices or anything like that. We are, perhaps, the principal victims of this crisis. The great challenge, then, is to create models that are more autonomous and less vulnerable, development that is truly endogenous, and as an essential part of that strategy, aim for a regional integration that would make us less vulnerable to external factors.

I think that the political aspect is changing, but in the social and economic aspects, we still have an extremely long way to go."


From Democracy in a panic by Avirama Golan

Disqualifying Israeli Arab citizens from participating in public life is the essence of his worldview. It is the Kadima and Labor Knesset members who voted for the disqualification that spell the danger to democracy.

Their vote, which was influenced by considerations connected to the upcoming election in the shadow of the war, prove the justness of another section in the Neiman decision:

"It is not desirable to grant the authority for disqualifying a candidates' list according to considerations of content and essence to a body that is composed overwhelmingly, with the exception of the chairman, of representatives of political bodies whose considerations are likely to be ideological-political," Justice Menachem Elon wrote.

These are the roots of the evil: A faulty political mechanism and a faulty understanding of the concept of defensive democracy that dictated a vague and potentially dangerous amendment to the law. What is so threatening about a party that champions a model other than "Jewish-democractic" or that seeks to replace the concept of "independence" with the concept of "Nakba?"

Do they have the power to undermine the Jewishness of the Jews or the Israeliness, Zionism and the sovereignty of Israel?

In the name of defense, democracy has security services, the police and the courts, which are charged with preventing any activity, including treason and incitement, and with punishment leading to a ban from the political arena.


From Towards a 'collective government' for the Union?

The EU is not and will not be a super-state. But a government without a state - and a community of people feeling part of it - has never existed, and many consider it will never, as it would lack the basis for its legitimacy and strength. That being said, European integration has always been an essentially political process and European decision-making is a highly political game. However, the EU does not have a body responsible for leadership, strategic policy-making, policy coordination, and emergency decisions: a government.

On the other hand, both the increased heterogeneity of a Union at 25+ Member States and the nature of the policy areas currently on the agenda for further integration - all with implications for the core of national sovereignty - demand solutions which require the Union to develop a 'government'.

The Union must show EU citizens that joint action is best suited to confront many urgent needs and to provide credible and sustainable solutions. That is true both with regard to the internal security of the Union (including cross-border issues of international crime, immigration, asylum, environmental protection etc.) and if the Union is to play a serious role in world affairs including a contribution to future global governance. Fragmentation and divergence between a range of national preferences, and resistance on the part of Member States to relinquish further their formal sovereignty, may otherwise prevail, in the absence of a more authoritative framework of reference for decision-making.

This is the assumption that inspires this paper: qualitatively new circumstances, affecting both the size of the Union and its core-tasks for the future, require strengthening the executive power in the Union.

Any reform of EU executive powers, which aims at providing the Union with an institutional framework backed by credible political authority and leading to more efficient decision-making, must lead to a sustainable, transparent and accountable mechanism which allows the various actors to play their part with effect.


From The US Government's “Collective Society” Fantasy

“Nanoscience and nanotechnology development are necessary contributing
components in the converging advancements in S&E, including those
originating in the digital revolution, modern biology, human medical and
cognitive sciences, and collective behavior theory.”

“Efforts must center on individual and collective human advancement, in terms of an enlightened conception of human benefit that embraces change while preserving fundamental values.”

“Table 1. Main improvement areas relative to an individual: External, collective Enhanced group interaction and creativity Unifying science education and learning”

“Figure 2. Vision of the world as a distributed, interconnected brain with various architectural levels that can empower individuals with access to collective knowledge while safeguarding privacy.”

“A networked society of billions of human beings could be as complex compared to an individual human being as a human being is to a single nerve cell. From local groups of linked enhanced individuals to a global collective intelligence, key new capabilities would arise from relationships created with NBIC technologies.”

“Far from unnatural, such a collective social system may be compared to a larger form of a biological organism. Biological organisms themselves make use of many structures such as bones and circulatory system. The networked society enabled through NBIC convergence could explore new pathways in societal structures, in an increasingly complex system (Bar-Yam 1997).”

[ ... ]

“Social science advances (obtained from studies of real systems as well as
simulations of complex adaptive systems composed of many interacting
individuals) will provide fresh insights into the collective IQ of humans, as
well as interspecies collective IQ and the spread of memes. A meme, which is a term coined by the author and zoologist Richard Dawkins, is a habit, a
technique, a twist of feeling, a sense of things, which easily flips from one
brain to another.”


From Fredrich August von Hayek Quote    

"The argument for liberty is not an argument against organization,
which is one of the most powerful tools human reason can employ,
but an argument against all exclusive, privileged, monopolistic organization,
against the use of coercion to prevent others from doing better."

by: Fredrich August von Hayek (1899-1992), Nobel Laureate of Economic Sciences 1974

[ ... ]

It's a common fallacy that democracies hold a monopoly on voting or "voice of the people" systems; historically, republics have also shared in the ability to elect representatives. There are two kinds of democracies: direct and representative. The common fallacy is that we're a representative democracy, but this is not true as well--the constitution was not structured this way. There are also several forms of republics; however, ours was established on laws that the founders saw existed outside the rule of the majority--laws that would protect the minority, no matter what the majority said. Things were to be done BY the majority, so long as they didn't infringe upon these natural rights and laws. Our constitution states specifically that "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government..." (Article IV, Section 4). The fact that we're a republic was very much planned; nothing fell "out of the sky." The Articles of Confederation very much prove the founder's disdain for democracies, although the Articles failed miserably. Someone can correct me, but I believe the delegates were representative from the states, not the people themselves (much like the dichotomy between the original House of Representatives and the Senate). A reading of the constitution shows the strenuous measures that the founders took to take the electing powers OUT of the direct hands of the people--the only branch of government to be elected directly by the voice of the people, per the original constitution (before the 17th Amendment), was the House of Representatives. The Senate was voted by the states, the President was voted by other delegates, and to-date the Judges have never been chosen by the voice of the people. This is clearly not a "democracy," wherein all things are done by the direct or representative voice of the people. The movement over the last 100 years has democratized our system, but this was not the original formation. The constitution came into operation, and was ratified, not directly by the people, but by the particular state's representatives--it was the states that gave direct orders for the delegates to only "reform" the Articles of Confederation, not the people; however, as we know, the delegates reformed it right out of existence. So, the answer was that it was neither a majority "of the American People in Congress Assembled" nor by "some beneficent minority," but by the representatives of the states.
 -- Logan, Memphis, TN


From Government without Politics

Because government powers are rights to commit acts, which, if committed by persons not having these rights would have constituted crimes or civil wrongs, it is necessary to ensure that these powers are not abused, that is, that governments do not indulge in politics.

To achieve that purpose it is necessary to define strictly and clearly the duties of government in each sphere of the government activity.

Without such definition, there is no way of determining, whether the government is performing its duties correctly or not.

If houses were built with the same degree of understanding what the resulting house should be, as politicians have of the result and purpose of their activities, no house would ever be finished, and whatever parts of houses happened to be built would be either collapsing or dismantled and rebuilt, as the understanding of the builders what they are doing would be constantly changing (with the changes in the 'political' climate).

Not many builders build houses that way, but this is how most of the government activities are performed: education, healthcare, policing, railways, the Dome ... , in fact, anything politicians do.

While there are cases when private people engage in business activities without understanding what they are doing, if they fail, it is themselves who sustain the loss.

Government activities are not financed by politicians out of their own private funds, they are financed from taxes taken from private people.

Like driving a car, government is a dangerous activity. But while the danger that can result from driving a car is usually restricted to damage to a few people (seldom more than 10, and very rarely more than 100), misuse of government powers can result in damage affecting millions of people, and billions worth of damage to property. In the course of the 20th century alone, crimes committed by various governments around the world have caused more deaths and destruction of property, then crimes committed by private criminals throughout all the history of mankind.

But while to drive a car one is required a third party insurance and passing a driving test, the only requirement for being in government is membership of a political party, of a group of arrogant, ignorant, vain and ambitious individuals, craving for power to impose their will on others. It is obvious that belonging to an organisation is no substitute for a third party insurance or a driving test, but on the basis of membership of a party alone, politicians obtain access to practically unlimited powers to cause practically unlimited damage.

So while politicians do not want to limit their 'powers' or accept any responsibility for the results of their own actions, it is necessary for the purpose of honest government that the duties of government be strictly limited and clearly defined, and that those in government be made responsible for the results of their actions.

Honest people in government will understand the need for such limitations, in the same way as honest traders understand the need for the Weights and Measures Act. It is time that an equivalent of the Weights and Measures Act be enacted to help those in government to perform their duties with the same level of honesty, competence and responsibility as we expect from a girl at a supermarket checkout. Politics, that is, any abuse of government powers, has to become a crime punishable by 5 years imprisonment and disqualification from holding a public office for life.


From CFP: A World Without Politics?

Call For Papers:

In addition to these, we are looking for several junior scholars (recent
appointments, post-doctoral researchers and PhD candidates) interested in
delivering a paper (15-20 minutes, 20 minutes for discussion). If you would
like to be considered please send your name, academic affiliation, and a
two-page abstract to anya.topolski@hiw.kuleuven.be by April 1st 2009.

Here are some possible topics for the junior sessions.

*       Is cosmopolitan global governance a-political?
*       Is cosmopolitan global governance cloaking ideological or imperial
power structures?
*       Do human rights discourses lead to a depoliticization of world
politics?
*       Is there still a role for sovereign nation-states in the new world
order?
*       Does global democracy rule out national self-determination?
*       Is the concept of sovereignty outdated? Can or should it acquire a
different meaning?
*       Should we move from global governance to global government?
*       What forms of political opposition are possible on the world level?
*       Would an evolution towards a multi-polar world order consisting of
regional power blocs be desirable?
*       Are representative forms of government on the global level
desirable? Are they possible?


From Politics and Political Science by Jason Yonan

Politics. It is possibly the most hated word in the English language. Most people hate politics and government without really knowing what they are. Many different definitions of politics exist. One definition defines politics as the conflict between groups over something they both want. Another similar definition calls politics the "who gets what, when, and how." Government is defined as the institution that has the enforceable right to control people's behavior. But why do people hate politics and politicians? Is it because politicians cannot be trusted, or maybe because they spend too much money? Whatever the reasons are for hating politics and government, both are needed as a mechanism for people to protect themselves. Possibly, if people developed a better understanding of politics and government, they would change their views about the subject. This could come about by looking at the various types of government and how they evolved.


From Government without Politics.

Politics suck.
Politicians suck.
True democracy would be better served by eliminating representatives.
With the computer and telephony technology now commonly available,
it would be a simple matter to directly empower the people to make
decisions for themselves by a large-scale voting system.  There is
no need to hire an expensive, exploitive, unsavory staff to fill
unnecessary offices of government.  The entire infrastructure of a
democratic government can be implemented with a computer system to
tally votes and disseminate information.  Every person in the US
could place votes by telephone or internet.  Secure algorithms with
traceable accountability could be used to guarantee the integrity
of the system.


From Consensus Rule Processes

Consensus processes require that everyone at the table agree on all decisions that are made.  There is no majority rule voting or decision making by one person in authority.   Rather, the whole group examines the problem, brainstorms about possible solutions and then works together to develop a solution which everyone can support.  This kind of process is being used more and more often in the United States to deal with difficult public policy issues--environmental conflicts, for example.  Although consensus cannot always be found, it can be developed more often than might be expected.

The advantage of consensus processes is that the resulting decision is one that meets the interests of all the parties and that everyone can support.  The disadvantage is that developing such a decision can be a very slow process, involving many people over a long period of time.  There is also a relatively high probability of failure. If a quick decision is needed, the consensus approach may not work.  Consensus rule processes also tend to favor those that oppose change and want to preserve the status quo. All these people have to do is refuse to support any consensus compromises and they will win (at least as long as they can delay change).

Successful consensus building also requires successful efforts to control escalation so that people will focus upon the issues and not inter-personal animosities. Consensus building also benefits from strong fact-finding capabilities and an ability to deal with a variety of procedural problems  including: persuading people to participate in the process, developing a workable process structure, ground rules, and representation.


From John C. Calhoun's Consensus Model of Government

This extraordinary assumption perhaps explains why Calhoun did not even consider the chief objection to the jury analogy, the disinterestedness of jurors as opposed to the interestedness of legislators. For once one adds Calhoun's key assumption about the psychological effects of a consensus rule on the legislative process itself, the essential contrast between jurors and legislators vanishes. He remarks at one point that with jurors “the love of truth and justice” will induce them to agree as long as this motive is “not counteracted by some improper motive or bias.” He then immediately goes on to argue, in directly parallel fashion, that in governments of the concurrent majority, “love of country” is the most powerful of motives “if not counteracted by the unequal and oppressive action of government.” 19 Calhoun clearly believed that the operation of a consensus rule, by eliminating the possibility of “unequal and oppressive action,” would have the effect of converting legislators into something like impartial jurors, capable of acting according to pure “love of country” and “love of truth.” Calhoun seems to have believed that critical legislative and constitutional contests that occupied him as a statesman were clashes between true and false principles; compromise and balancing of interests were a secondary matter to be done only after agreement was reached on true principles. His critique of the protective tariff and his recommended remedy of nullification presupposed that he and his state were right – morally, economically, and constitutionally – and the protectionists wrong. Interests could be compromised and balanced (by phasing out protection gradually) only after the principle had been established that protective tariffs were wrong. In allowing three- fourths of the states to override a single state's nullification, Calhoun was in effect setting up the co-states as a “jury of one's peers” to determine which version of national political economy was true and which interpretation of the Constitution was correct. On matters 19 Disquisition, in Lence, ed., Union and Liberty, 51. 16


From Rethinking Democracy Promotion in the Middle East

Once lauded as a new but vital keystone of American foreign policy, the promotion of democracy in the Middle East is now seen by many as a costly endeavor that has brought few positive benefits for the region or for the United States. As security challenges escalate, and as enduring regional conflicts receive renewed attention, there is a real possibility that democracy promotion will be demoted among the priorities of U.S. foreign policy.


From The Consensus
News
"There are some people who live in a dream world,
and there are some who face reality;
and then there are those who turn one into the other."
--Douglas Everett

Global Principles
So today we have the paradoxical position espoused by the 'globalists'. On one hand they claim that the nation state is an anachronism whose time has passed. On the other they are terrified when non-viable states break apart. Even when this has actually happened they still maintain the fiction that these continue to be 'nations'.

The resolution to the seeming paradox is quite straightforward. It is that the 'globalists' still need the trappings of the nation state to pass and enforce laws to hold their citizens in line and simultaneously provide free reign for the new transnational economic order. As an added bonus they rather favour nations that are 'multicultural' so as to fragment any consensus against them, and indeed, appear to offer solutions for problems of their own making. Of course, the irony here is that 'multicultural' is only to be approved of as long as all those internal 'cultures' accept the common economic wisdom that greed is good and the market is the metaphor of choice. Those that do not get demonised, whether they are 'nationalists' or Moslems.

To create this illusion they need to perform a curious sleight-of-hand. While claiming that the nation state is dead or obsolete they must simultaneously convince us of the necessity for supra-national power blocs which are giant replicas of that supposedly defunct model. The only real difference being that the power is devolved upwards away from the people who are subject to it. It is very similar to the other favourite method of investing supra-national organisations such as the IMF with great power and no electoral accountability. It is a method of neutralising democracy on a vast scale. Every time you hear how the government cannot act because of 'world conditions' (or whatever…) hear it as a statement that your vote is worthless - a mere placebo.

Nations are the next level up from the trade union in the protection of the people. Once global capitalism swept them aside it was the turn of the nation to be removed as an obstacle to the money machine which exists solely to multiply itself regardless of any cost that can not be quantified in dollars. You might expect to be able to vote for the politicians that supposedly run your country, but when was the last time you voted for who was to sit on the board of Monsanto or Nestle?.

What is truly obsolete is the model of the nation state, for anything but a nation that embodies the ideals outlined at the beginning of this article. Where a nation does not embody these ideals it should be broken up into units that do. And the very last place the trappings of 'nation' should exist is in vast conglomerates of different peoples - or 'empires' as they were once known.

It is important for nations to recognise and accept one overriding truth - that the laws and legitimate exercise of the power of the government of a nation stops at its own borders.

The Consensus Manifesto

Political Reform

    *       Any person elected to Parliament must permanently relinquish wealth in excess of ten times the wealth of the average citizen.
    *      No MP may take any other paid work while during their term in Parliament.
    *      Upon leaving Parliament an MP will continue to receive their salary for five more years, during which they will be barred from taking paid employment.
    *      Upon leaving Parliament an MP will be barred from any work with companies that involves them in government contracts, legislation, or lobbying either directly or indirectly.
    *      The above also applies to senior government ministers, but the period is for life.
    *      Those who are elected by the community to represent its interests must not belong to exclusive or secretive organisations.
    *      Political parties are to be funded solely by the state and/or individual membership fees.
    *      Promises made by a political party in order to get elected are to be legally binding.
    *      Proportional representation is to be instituted.
    *      A wide ranging Freedom of Information Act is to replace the current legislation, and the public to be given far greater access to all aspects of government decision making and information.
    *      Wherever possible all decisions will be made by one named individual, supported (if necessary) by an advisory committee, who will bear sole responsibility for such decisions. As far as possible the anonymity of 'collective responsibility' is to be abolished. Every decision will have a name attached.
    *      Power will be devolved to the lowest practical level in all instances.

Consensus members who are local councillors will have the freedom to campaign on local issues as they see fit - with no doctrinaire interference.


From Reinventing Democracy by David Graeber

This is what the direct action movement is ultimately about: reinventing democracy. Far from lacking an ideology, those new forms of radically decentralized direct democracy are its ideology. If nothing else, the “bad” protesters have managed to prove that they can do anything the (hierarchical) NGOs or unions can, probably much better.

The “hardest of the hard core” showed up—everyone from the notorious Eugene anarchists to the “Urban Guerrilla Division” of the Earth Liberation Front, to groups like the Divas for Democracy and the Tute Neri (Black Overalls). Not only did they respect the mood of the city, they filled it with samba bands, tango dancers, giant puppets of the Statue of Liberty and Ken Lay, and chorus lines of Radical Rockettes.

If anything, they were victims of their own success: When something like 20,000 people magically appeared for the start of the march, the organizers hardly knew what to do with them. But alas, we were not only victims of success. We were also victims of the very logic of our compromise with power—and many of us will not forget this.

Anarchy and direct action are not about transgressing laws simply for the sake of it, but ultimately about creating spaces that can stand outside of power, autonomous zones in which one can begin experimenting with things like direct democracy. It's about a vision for what a truly free society might look like. But in order to do this, one must transgress the law. At least, this is what we discovered as soon as anyone applied for a permit. The moment you start submitting to the logic of the state, everything changes.

Protecting the environment at the barrel of a gun

In some cases, notably in Africa, biodiversity is threatened by military conflict, or by well-armed gangs of poachers. These situations, some say, call for a response in kind - deploying the military to guard natural reserves, or providing rangers with military-style arms and training.

A few analysts go further, arguing that in certain cases of severe ecological harm, the international community may be justified in mustering troops to intervene, with or without the permission of the host country. For example, a government might refuse to protect - or even willfully destroy - its own natural treasure, as when, in the 1990s, Saddam Hussein's regime drained the wetlands that were home to the persecuted Marsh Arabs. Or, as resources grow scarcer, one nation's overexploitation of a forest or river could lead to dire consequences for other countries. In response to both kinds of scenarios, some have begun to raise the possibility of an "eco-intervention," analogous to humanitarian interventions.

Already, some conservation campaigns have taken on martial aspects. Over the past couple of decades, at least two paramilitary groups in the Central African Republic have operated with government approval, as reported recently in an article on "armed environmentalism" in The Ecologist, a British magazine. In some parts of Africa, rangers receive military training and equipment to defend animals (and themselves) from poachers in pursuit of elephants, rhinos, gorillas, and other endangered species. In Nicaragua, the army patrols beaches to protect sea turtle eggs.

But now there is increasing talk of more far-reaching action. Last year, Australian professor Robyn Eckersley published a much-discussed article in the journal Ethics and International Affairs, offering a framework for staging eco-interventions. In May, Brazil's new environment minister proposed sending troops to guard the Amazon. And experts agree that climate change will prove a major security issue of this century.

"If you consider how people fight over oil and other resources, I don't see any more noble cause than to fight over the preservation of the planet," says Alex Cornelissen, director of Sea Shepherd's Operation Galapagos, which works with the Ecuadorian government to catch poachers.

Bringing in armed force would take the idea of environmental defense to a new level. But in the view of some analysts, the enterprise would be doomed by moral and practical problems. The notion of eco-intervention could provide an additional pretext for waging wars - did we really need another reason to invade Iraq? The idea also suffers from imperialist overtones, adding another layer to fraught questions of sovereignty. In the small-scale scenarios, more basic ethical dilemmas emerge. Some poachers are poverty-stricken locals, just trying to survive, and using force against them seems cruel.

~ more... ~

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