Sunday, February 1, 2009

A.N.S.W.E.R.: 'Why we're marching on the Pentagon'

Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine... Occupation is A Crime

We are organizing a Mass March on the Pentagon on Saturday, March 21, and it is important that you and your family, friends, co-workers and fellow students put on your marching shoes that day. People are coming from all over the country. Simultaneous demonstrations are taking place in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Why are we still marching even after the war criminal George W. Bush has left office? Because the people must speak out for what is right. More than 1 million Iraqis have died and tens of thousands of U.S. troops have been wounded or killed.

The Iraq and Afghanistan war will drag on for years unless we act now. The cost in lives and resources is criminal regardless of whether the Democrats or Republicans are in charge of the government.

We must also act to end U.S. support for Israel's ongoing war against the Palestinian people. The Bush Administration gave the green light and provided the weapons and the money for Israel's recent war against the Palestinian people in Gaza. More than 5,000 Palestinians were killed or wounded; the majority of casualties were civilians, including hundreds of children, in this high-tech massacre. “We the People” pay the bill as the U.S. provides $2.5 billion a year for Israel's massive military machine.

Why We Say: Bring All the Troops Home Now Not Later!

If Bush's war and occupation of Iraq was an illegal action of aggression—and it was—how can the new government say that it can only gradually end the war over a number of years? The Iraqis don't want foreign military forces running their country. No one would!
 
The Pentagon has employed 200,000 foreign contractors (mercenaries) and 150,000 U.S. troops to maintain the occupation of Iraq. They have no right to be there. A few thousand are being brought out of Iraq only to be redeployed to occupy Afghanistan, and the fools in the media proclaim “the war is winding down.” That is not true.

President Obama decided to keep the Pentagon just as it was under Bush. He even selected Bush appointee Robert Gates to keep his position as chief of the Pentagon. Gates announced that the new administration would double the number of troops sent to Afghanistan. That is certainly not the “change” most people thought was coming following the end of Bush's tenure.

These are wars for domination in the Middle East and Central Asia.

The people of the United States want change. We are sick and tired of wars of aggression waged abroad under false slogans of “national security.” These are wars that reap massive profits for corporate weapons-makers with the promise of winning control over the vast oil and natural gas reserves in the Middle East and Central Asia.

Working people may have another definition for “national security.” What really makes the people “insecure?” Ask the 2.3 million families who are losing their homes because they are being foreclosed when they can't pay their steep debts to the banks. Ironically, when these same parasitic bankers couldn't pay their debts, the federal government rushed in with a $2.5 trillion bailout using our tax dollars.

Or ask working-class students who are being laid off from their jobs just as tuition costs soar out of reach. What defines “security” for millions of young people whose future is at stake? Do they want tax dollars spent to kill poor people abroad or to finance education?

We will march on Saturday, March 21, the sixth anniversary of the start of the Iraq invasion, to demand that taxpayer dollars be used to meet people's needs—here and everywhere. This year's real Pentagon war budget will top $1 trillion.

This amount could create 10 million jobs, provide healthcare and education for all, rebuild New Orleans, and repair much of the damage done in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine. We need money for jobs, housing, health care and education, not for wars of aggression.

The occupation of Iraq alone costs $12 billion each month. This amounts to $400 million each day, $16.7 million per hour and $278,000 per minute.

The Pentagon war machine does not act in our interests. Its wars benefit the biggest corporations and banks that seek to control the markets and riches of the Middle East. The people of Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine are not our enemies. They want to live free from colonial-type domination. Only a people's movement demanding an end to U.S. wars and militarism can win justice for people here and abroad.

Go to PentagonMarch.org for details about transportation, meetings and to get involved. Buses will be traveling to Washington, D.C. from across the country.

~ Act Now to Stop War and End Racism ~

[ via Links by George ]

Suspicious deaths of those who knew too much under Bush`s watch

As of January 20, 2009, George W. Bush finally made his exit from the Oval Office, leaving his fingerprints as the U.S. 'terror' president who has not only brought the once proud nation to its knees but also opened a Pandora box of plagues to the world - global 'terror' fear, Islamophobia, financial doom and incessant wars. He also left a trail of mysterious deaths that appear to be cover-ups for his surreptitious constitutional coup d'état of the United States for eight long, devastating years.

Not surprisingly, the Bush-Cheney administration has covered its tracks of criminal activities by closing files on some major unsolved cases: stolen elections, anthrax, Iraq-related government deceptions and lies, and corporate-related corruptions. As Bush no longer controls the government and its agencies, these suspicious deaths need to be reopened and thoroughly investigated for the sake of truth, justice and accountability.

Some of these untimely death cases were officially ruled as “suicides” and others were tagged as “accidents”. But all victims met their deaths at a time when they were about to reveal damaging secrets of the Bush's corrupt regime or they stood in Bush's way to usurp power for fascism over the American society. Although there were many lives extinguished that didn't get media attention during the 'torturous reign' of Bush-Cheney, the compiled list below contains the high-profile cases that expose the Bush gang as 'thieves', 'thugs' and worse still, 'traitors' to the United States of America. 

Election Fraud

-- Bush insider, Michael Connell, who has been directly implicated in the rigging of George W. Bush's 2000 and 2004 elections, was killed in a plane crash on December 19, 2008. He planned to tell all after he was served with a subpoena to testify in court on September 22, 2008.

Key Points Raised: a) Michael Connell, who was an experienced pilot, had abandoned two flights due to sabotage of his plane two months before his fatal “accident” on a cold but calm day. b) A credible source disclosed that Connell was afraid for his life after Karl Rove had threatened him and his wife.

-- Raymond Lemme, who was an official from the Florida Inspector General's office investigating the election rigging charges of whistleblower Clint Curtis, was found dead with his arms slashed in a motel room

Key Points Raised: a) His body was found in the motel room on July 1, 2003, but he signed a check-out receipt dated June 30, 2003, 6:54 a.m. b) The inconsistency of police report and photographs raises doubts of his apparent “suicide” that occurred not in Florida but in Georgia.

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Them and us child register: Politicians and celebrities can keep their details off a controversial new database

 Tens of thousands of politicians, celebrities and local bigwigs will be able to keep their addresses and details about their families off the Government's new children's database, it was revealed yesterday.

They will be allowed to withdraw everything but their children's names, sex and ages from the controversial computer record.

Powerful and influential parents who believe they will be in danger from others who may be 'hostile' will have their details struck off the ContactPoint database along with domestic violence victims and those in witness protection programmes.

But the great majority of ordinary families will be compelled to display their contact details alongside information about their children and their schools, doctors and social workers.

News of the 'get-out' clause will only add to the anger and suspicion that has greeted the £224million project. It has already has been hit by a string of delays over concerns over the security of the highly sensitive data it holds.

Ministers released details about the numbers likely to be able to take advantage of the 'get-out' rules as they launched the database.

Officials estimate that hundreds of parents in each local authority will be included in a 'shielding' system which will limit information about them on ContactPoint because they are judged to be 'at risk of significant harm'.

Across all the 150 town halls that will run the database, that adds up to at least 50,000.

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How likely is a partition of Turkey?

It is generally held that the right to self-determination may be viewed as a certain group's entitlement to determine its fate and mode of governance; however, the groups which are entitled to exercise this right are not clear in specific cases. There are no generally accepted rules and standards on this matter. The principle, currently formulated as the right to self-determination, was not designed by Wilson to be universally applicable. It was conceived as a resolution to ensure that the peoples ruled by the states that were defeated in World War I had an independent and sovereign state.

No generally acceptable rules have been formulated to ensure the application of the principle of self-determination. In addition, there are a number of vague and controversial points with respect to its implementation. These include the fate of the peoples who apparently have no ability to govern themselves but a strong aspiration for independence. Secondly, it is not obvious as to what extent the rights of the majority will be undermined in the presence of the minority's right to self-determination. Thirdly, if the exercising of the right is to be made via a referendum, it will not be easy to determine the scope and content of these popular votes. Fourth, when an ethnic group is recognized as having a right to independence, there will most probably be another minority. For instance, what will happen to the Georgian minority if the independence of South Ossetia is recognized?

The UN Charter makes mention of a peoples' right to self-determination; however, the emphasis on the principle is pretty weak. The charter treats the notion as a principle -- and not as a right or standard. But it is possible to talk about two periods where self-determination met with wider acceptance both as a right and a principle. It should be noted, however, that this right was recognized in both periods for specified ethnic groups and had a limited application. The first period is the aftermath of World War I, during which Wilson sought to ensure the independence of some communities in Europe. The second period is the aftermath of World War II, where the overall tendency in the practice of self-determination was to conclude the partition of overseas empires without causing instability to the international system. It is obvious that self-determination, which was frequently consulted during this period, also known as the process of decolonization, lost its impact and popularity when this era was over.

If self-determination refers to the right of a people to choose their modes of governance, future regime and political institutions, obviously this contradicts the right of a state to remain territorially intact. For this reason, the UN has remained cautious with separatist movements and has not endorsed and legitimized secessions based on the principle of self-determination. The primary reason is that it is rather likely that the UN will be in a difficult position if it allows such threats to the territorial integrity of its members.

Considering this brief explanation, it is impossible to suggest that Turkey may be partitioned by virtue of the principle of self-determination. It does not seem possible to argue that the practices of self-determination in the modern world can be presented as justification or as a model for Turkey's partition. For this reason, groups and communities in Turkey cannot ask to secede from Turkey just because peoples have the right to determine their future in principle. Therefore, neither the basic principles that shape the international system, nor the principle of self-determination allow the partition of Turkey.

How could Turkey be partitioned?

But this explanation should not be taken as a guarantee suggesting that Turkey cannot be partitioned. The current international system is significantly different than the one prevalent in the 20th century. Superficially, it is possible to say that this change and difference is partially about the shift in the focus of the system. While the 20th-century world placed emphasis on national states, the current global system also considers human security -- at least in principle. Of course, it would be naïve to argue that the system is entirely focused on individuals and their rights. But it is at least possible to assert that there is an overall tendency in which human security and human rights are seriously considered.

The concrete consequences of this tendency have become visible in the independence of some states in the post-Cold War era. Even though it is possible to talk about self-determination in the cases of independence in Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Balkans, a different custom and pattern has become influential in other examples, including the independence of East Timor and Kosovo.

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Bangladesh: Urge to 'form special war crime tribunal, commission'

Sector Commanders, intellectuals, lawyers and academicians yesterday suggested that the new government form a special tribunal and a commission to try the war criminals and collect evidences of war crimes.

However, some of them proposed holding the trial under international laws involving the United Nations for its acceptance to all.

They also congratulated the new government and the lawmakers on passing the resolution in the parliament unanimously on 'immediate' trial of war criminals on Thursday.

Terming the move 'the first victory of their movement,' Sector Commander Maj Gen (retd) KM Shafiullah said the trial of war criminals has become a national demand.

He said the trial should begin under the international laws involving the United Nations.

"I know that it will take a little longer to complete the trial if the United Nations is involved in it. But the United Nations' involvement in the trial process will leave no scope for any other government to overturn it," KM Shafiullah told The Daily Star.

He said the government will have to submit charge sheets against those who perpetrated war crimes.

Another sector commander Lt Gen (retd) Mir Shawkat Ali proposed that the government form a commission to collect all evidences of war crimes.

"The trial of war criminal must be held as per the laws of the country. We can engage an expert from international war crimes tribunal in the trial process. But it is the government, not any individual, that needs to file cases as these are crimes against humanity," he told The Daily Star.

He said it is the responsibility of the Awami League government to fulfil their election pledge of trying the war criminals because the new generation cast vote for them in the December 29 polls because of the pledge.

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Spanish judge pursues Israel for "crimes against humanity"

The operation's target was Salah Shehadeh, supposed head and founder of Izzedine al Qassam Brigades, the Hamas military branch. Arrested by Israelis in the eighties, the militant was later transferred in a Palestinian jail under the authority of Palestinian Authority and then released in 1990. In 2002 during the second Intifada, Israeli aviation dropped a 1 ton bomb on his house, in Daraj district of Gaza city, with him other 14 people died, between them 9 children, 150 people were wounded.

According to International Commission of Jurist the high human concentration in the area was well known by Israeli military intelligence, however they decide to execute the operation. This element configures for Israel a crime against humanity, this kind of crime is considered by Spain attaining to his jurisdiction.

Fernando Andreu, persecutor of National Assembly accepted the recourse presented by Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCRH) and by some victim's relatives. He declared he is competent for these investigation according to Organic Judicial Power Law that states, in the article 23, that Spanish judges have the power to investigate and begin trials concerning terrorism, genocide cases and other crimes even if they are committed outside Spanish territory in case of violation of international treats. International Penal Court considers a “war crime” a premeditate attack against civilian or non-military or an attack on a military target knowing in advance there will be civil victims.

Now the two parts, Israel and Palestinian Authority will receive a communication from the Spanish court about the enquire beginning. Spanish persecutor asked Israel to provide information about the defendants. Former Defence Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer (who is now the Israeli Infrastructure Minister), his [former] military advisor, Michael Herzog, former Israeli Army Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon, Dan Halutz, former Commander of the Israeli Air Force, Abraham Dichter, Former Head of the Israeli Intelligence Service, Doron Almog, former Head of the Israeli Southern Command, and Giora Eiland, former Head of the Israeli National Security Council are under investigation. Persecutor Andreu also declared he will send as soon as possible an investigative delegation to Gaza in order to collect depositions about the matter.

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In Search of Enemies by John Stockwell (excerpt)

In December 1976 I advised my boss in the CIA's Africa Division of my intention to resign. For his own reasons, he urged me to take several months leave to reconsider. Making it clear I would not change my mind, I accepted his offer of several more pay checks and took three months sick leave.

I did not tell anyone I planned to write a book. In fact, I had no great confidence in my ability to write. I had been an operations officer-an activist-for the past dozen years in the CIA.

What about the oath of secrecy I signed when I joined the CIA in 1964? I cannot be bound by it for four reasons: First, my oath was illegally, fraudulently obtained. My CIA recruiters lied to me about the clandestine services as they swore me in. They insisted the CIA functioned to gather intelligence. It did not kill, use drugs, or damage people's lives, they assured me. These lies were perpetuated in the following year of training courses. It was not until the disclosures of the Church and Pike Committees in 1975 that I learned the full, shocking truth about my employers.

I do not mean to suggest that I was a puritan or out of step with the moral norms of modern times; nor had I been squeamish about my CIA activities. To the contrary, I had participated in operations which stretched the boundaries of anyone's conscience. But the congressional committees disclosed CIA activities which had previously been concealed, which I could not rationalize.

The disclosures about the plot to poison Patrice Lumumba struck me personally in two ways. First, men I had worked with had been involved. Beyond that, Lumumba had been baptized into the Methodist Church in 1937, the same year I was baptized a Presbyterian. He had attended a Methodist mission school at Wembo Nyama in the Kasai Province of the Belgian Congo (Zaire), while I attended the Presbyterian school in Lubondai in the same province. The two church communities overlapped. My parents sometimes drove to Wembo Nyama to buy rice for our schools. American Methodist children were my classmates in Lubondai. Lumumba was not, in 1961, the Methodists' favorite son, but he was a member of the missionary community in which my parents had spent most of their adult lives, and in which I grew up.

There were other disclosures which appalled me: kinky, slightly depraved, drug/sex experiments involving unwitting Americans, who were secretly filmed by the CIA for later viewing by pseudoscientists of the CIA's Technical Services Division.

For years I had defended the CIA to my parents and to our friends. "Take it from me, a CIA insider," I had always sworn, "the CIA simply does not assassinate or use drugs . . ."

But worse was to come. A few short months after the CIA's shameful performance in Vietnam, of which I was part, I was assigned to a managerial position in the CIA's covert Angola program. Under the leadership of the CIA director we lied to Congress and to the 40 Committee, which supervised the CIA's Angola program. We entered into joint activities with South Africa. And we actively propagandized the American public, with cruel results-Americans, misguided by our agents' propaganda, went to fight in Angola in suicidal circumstances. One died, leaving a widow and four children behind. Our secrecy was designed to keep the American public and press from knowing what we were doing-we fully expected an outcry should they find us out.

The CIA's oath of secrecy has been desecrated in recent years, not by authors-Philip Agee, Joe Smith, Victor Marchetti, and Frank Snepp-but by the CIA directors who led the CIA into scandalous, absurd operations. At best, the oath was used to protect those directors from exposure by their underlings, although the directors themselves freely leaked information to further their operational or political ploys.

Their cynicism about the oath, and their arrogance toward the United States' constitutional process, were exposed in 1977, when former director Richard Helms was convicted of perjury for lying to a Senate committee about an operation in Chile. Helms plea-bargained a light sentence-the prosecutors were allegedly apprehensive that in his trial many secrets would be revealed, blowing operations and embarrassing establishment figures. After receiving a suspended sentence, Helms stood with his attorney before television cameras, while the latter gloated that Helms would wear the conviction as a "badge of honor." Helms was proud of having lied to the Senate to protect a questionable CIA operation, but to protect his own person, secrets would have been exposed.

Faced with a similar choice in the Angolan program-my loyalty to the CIA or my responsibilities to the United States' Constitution -I chose the latter. The CIA's oaths and honor codes must never take precedence over allegiance to our country. That is my second reason for disregarding the oath.

Even with those two reasons, I would not have undertaken to expose the clandestine services if I felt they were essential to our national security. I am persuaded they are not.

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Electroshock for children and involuntary adults

America and Australia are two countries I vastly admire. Nonetheless, they are continuing to abuse psychiatric patients with electroshock treatment (ECT). In America involuntary adults are being shocked despite the best efforts of psychiatric reformers (Oaks, 2009). In Australia psychiatrists have taken shock treatment to a new level of barbarity by shocking 55 toddlers age four and younger in Victoria (Hale, 2009).

The controvery over shocking children has a long history. In 2000 before his untimely death, Steve Baldwin, at the time a professor of psychology in Australia, and his co-author Melissa Oxlad wrote a book reviewing and condemning the practice throughout the world.

Electroshock "treatment" was discovered in the 1930s in a slaughterhouse in Italy. Before being killed, hogs were knocked out by a jolt of electricity to the head and brain. If they weren't slaughtered, after a while the animals awoke and were able walk around on wobbly legs. Two Italian psychiatrists learned about this phenomenon and immediately tested it on an involuntary patient. The patient wasn't knocked out by the first jolt and struggled from the table screaming "Murder!" The doctors gave him a bigger jolt. When he awoke, he was docile and no longer complained. A miracle treatment was born and the two psychiatrists became famous.

Why in the world would medical doctors be so excited about a jolt of electricity that knocked out a hog without killing it? This was the era that originated lobotomy--slicing up, burning or poisoning the highest centers of the human brain. It was also the era that originated insulin coma therapy--putting patients into a coma with overdoses of insulin that destroyed brain cells in great batches throughout the brain. Doctors were looking for new ways to inflict controlled damage on the patient's brain without completely destroying its function.

In those early days, many psychiatrists voiced the opinion that brain damage was good for the "mentally ill." It certainly made the patients more docile and hence easier to manage in giant state lockups. Only in more recent times, in response to criticism, did shock advocates begin to claim that the treatment was harmless and corrected biochemical imbalances.

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Richest Americans’ income doubled as tax rate slashed

The average tax rate paid by the richest 400 Americans fell by a third to 17.2 percent through the first six years of the Bush administration and their average income doubled to $263.3 million, new IRS data show.

The 17.2 percent tax rate in 2006 was the lowest since the IRS began tracking the 400 largest taxpayers in 1992, although the richest 400 Americans paid more tax on an inflation-adjusted basis than any year since 2000.

The drop from 2001's tax rate of 22.9 percent was due largely to ex-President George W. Bush's push to cut tax rates on most capital gains to 15 percent in 2003.

Capital gains made up 63 percent of the richest 400 Americans' adjusted gross income in 2006, or a combined $66.1 billion, according to the data. In all, the 400 wealthiest Americans reported a combined $105.3 billion of adjusted gross income in 2006, the most recent year for which the IRS has data.

“The big explosion in income for this group is clearly on the capital gains side, although there are also sharp increases in dividend and interest income,” said Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic Policy and Research in Washington.

In addition, “they are realizing more of their gains due to the lower tax rate,” Baker said.

The data show that the population of the top 400 income- earners has fluctuated over the 15 years the agency has tracked it, according to an analysis by the Washington-based Tax Foundation, a research group. Some 3,305 different taxpayers have been included at least once on the list, the Tax Foundation said. Only 27 percent of those taxpayers have appeared more than once on the list, and only about 15 percent have been on it more than twice.

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Economic karma

From Wikipedia

When used with modern economic thought, the Buddhist concept of karma can be used to create a unique method of analyzing society. Given that people act rationally and out of self-interest, people act according to two influences: desires(internal) and incentives (external). Karma can be thought of as a constant flux of these influences and the actions that occur because of them. A karmic seed is an action. That action has consequences which come in the form of incentives. These incentives combined with internal desire provide the cause for more actions. The net worth of all the incentives created by an action determines the value of that action.

The idea of economic karma has the potential to synthesize economics with morality. By giving moral worth to the creation of incentives in this way, moral hazard is reduced and the overall level of utility is increased. The moral system produced in this synthesis closely resembles that of two-level utilitarianism. Buddhist morals do follow rules but appeal to intuition when there is a conflict or when rules are misleading.

Musical Innerlube: Alice in Chains - 'Angry chair'

Unplugged

Australia faces collapse as climate change kicks in

Leaves are falling off trees in the height of summer, railway tracks are buckling, and people are retiring to their beds with deep-frozen hot-water bottles, as much of Australia swelters in its worst-ever heatwave.

On Friday, Melbourne thermometers topped 43C (109.4F) on a third successive day for the first time on record, while even normally mild Tasmania suffered its second-hottest day in a row, as temperatures reached 42.2C. Two days before, Adelaide hit a staggering 45.6C. After a weekend respite, more records are expected to be broken this week.

Ministers are blaming the heat – which follows a record drought – on global warming. Experts worry that Australia, which emits more carbon dioxide per head than any nation on earth, may also be the first to implode under the impact of climate change.

At times last week it seemed as if that was happening already. Chaos ruled in Melbourne on Friday after an electricity substation exploded, shutting down the city's entire train service, trapping people in lifts, and blocking roads as traffic lights failed. Half a million homes and businesses were blacked out, and patients were turned away from hospitals.

More than 20 people have died from the heat, mainly in Adelaide. Trees in Melbourne's parks are dropping leaves to survive, and residents at one of the city's nursing homes have started putting their clothes in the freezer.

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Florida, Maryland, Utah banks shut as financial crisis deepens

Banks in Florida, Maryland and Utah were closed yesterday as regulators wrapped up the busiest month for failures since the housing slump began in 2006.

Ocala National Bank in Florida and Suburban Federal Savings Bank of Crofton, Maryland, were shut by federal regulators, according to statements sent by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. MagnetBank of Salt Lake City was seized by the Utah Department of Financial Institutions. The banks had total assets of $876.4 million and deposits of $790 million.

Six banks have failed this month as tumbling home prices and a 16-year high in unemployment boost foreclosures. The FDIC classified 171 banks as “problem” in the third quarter, a 46 percent jump from the previous period amid the worst housing crisis since the Great Depression.

Regulators closed 25 U.S. banks last year, the most since 1993, draining money from the FDIC deposit insurance fund, which had $34.6 billion as of Sept. 30. Ocala and Suburban Federal combined will cost the FDIC fund about $225.6 million, the regulator said. No estimate was provided for MagnetBank.

Suburban Federal's seven offices were scheduled to open today as branches of The Bank of Essex of Tappahannock, Virginia, which acquired the deposits. The Office of Thrift Supervision said it seized the bank because of more than a year of losses stemming from soured residential, construction and land loans.

“The OTS determined that Suburban was critically undercapitalized and in unsound condition,” the regulator said in an e-mailed statement.

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Meet Rimbaud: poet, madman, modernist, gun-runner and 'vicious little monkey'

From Rimbaud: The Double Life Of A Rebel, By Edmund White

There's nothing like a biography of Rimbaud to dispel one's romantic illusions about the poet. Arriving in Paris from the Northern town of Charleville, 17 years old and bearing a copy of his visionary masterpiece, The Drunken Boat, Rimbaud turned up at the home that Verlaine shared with his wife and parents-in-law. He grunted his way through dinner, lit up a filthy pipe, then retired to his room. In the subsequent weeks he mutilated a crucifix, showered passers-by with head lice and slept in his boots before persuading the man of the house to run away with him. When a fellow poet took him in, he sold the furniture; after yet another was persuaded to give him a berth, he wiped his arse on his host's poems.

Manipulative, rude, filthy and impossibly fervent, he struck Verlaine as "an angel in exile" and everyone else as the teenager from hell. Edmond de Goncourt, who grudgingly hailed Rimbaud as a "genius of perversity", nonetheless concluded, as did many others, that "with the imagination of a vicious monkey, [Rimbaud] spent his life thinking up merciless wickednesses".

Goncourt was wrong, however: the span of Rimbaud's wickedness, the whole of his versifying career, was a bare five years. Between the ages of 15 and 20 Rimbaud wrote his entire corpus of poems, seduced and re-seduced the hapless, drunken and violent Verlaine, and persuaded him to move to London. After several separations, during one of which Verlaine threw his infant son against a wall and threatened to strangle his wife, the two men ended up together again in Brussels, where Verlaine bought a revolver during a drinking bout and shot Rimbaud in the wrist. His friend had him arrested and Verlaine served two years in prison. They spent two days together when he got out, and never saw one another again.

Long-lost Beatnik mystery bubbles up in 'Boiled'

In 1945, two unknown and unpublished writers -- Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs -- collaborated on a novel based on a real-life New York murder committed by a friend.

Initially rejected by publishers, "And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks" finally is being released, many decades after Kerouac and Burroughs became founding fathers of the Beat Generation.

"It's no long-lost masterpiece," says James Grauerholz, its editor and executor for Burroughs, who died in 1997. "But it should appeal to fans of the works and lives of both writers."

By more than a decade, it predates the books that made its authors famous: Kerouac's "On the Road" in 1957 and Burroughs' "Naked Lunch" in 1959.

Its back story may be more interesting than the novel itself, which features alternating chapters by Burroughs and Kerouac, who died in 1969.

It was inspired by a sensational 1944 murder involving a friend of Kerouac and Burroughs: Lucien Carr, a promising 19-year-old freshman at Columbia University.

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Alamut

From The Hundredth Anniversary of Vladimir Bartol, the Author of Alamut

Bartol saw the essence of Alamut already in his youth during World War I when the image of distant gun flashes from the Soca Front (1915 - 1917) that he could observe one day while walking home over a hill with his cousin Boris penetrated his consciousness. Decisive inspiration that finally triggered his wish to write the novel came in 1927 when critic, translator and politician Josip Vidmar (1895 - 1992) draw his attention to historical events that had been described by Marco Polo. At that moment he set a time limit of ten years to finish the novel - and he also did finish it exactly ten years later in 1937. Bartol was an obsessively meticulous person, so it is no wonder that he thoroughly researched numerous historical sources, philosophical works, especially Niccolo Machiavelli's Il Principe (The Prince, 1532), and, of course, the Koran in order to write his novel.

Based on the actual historical events, the story of Alamut is set in northern Persia (today's Iran) in 1092. Hassan Ibn Saba, known as the "old man of the mountain", is a demonic and charismatic leader of Assassins, a Persian sect of Ismailis. In his fortified castle - Eagle's Nest - of Alamut, he teaches his faithful fedayeen blind obedience and trains them to become "live daggers" in order to fight a holy war against Seldjuk Turks that rule Iran. He cunningly turns them into fanatics: with hashish and beautiful girls in harem he gives them an illusion of paradise, which is promised to brave martyrs. Usurping the world's great religions and philosophies for his own gain, Hassan implants in his followers spiritual yearnings and delusions, manipulating them in order to carry out a plan of mass destruction. Shortly thereafter, he sends his kamikaze warriors off, drunk with ideology, to assassinate and massacre for the greater glory of their master. In less than a year's time, the Seldjuk Empire is shattered into pieces.

The novel is a sophisticated allusion to totalitarian regimes that emerged in Europe in 1930's. Bartol wrote in his notes to the second edition of Alamut in 1958 that at some point of writing his characters started talking to him, and live fluid of world historic events infused into his novel: in the north, Hitler with his fanatic SS corps pressed against the border; in the west, Mussolini, who had already subjugated a third of Slovenians and a large part of Croats, threatened Slovenia and the whole Yugoslavia; in the east, mysterious Stalin took over the heritage of Lenin's revolution and began with his monstrous processes. In brief, Alamut is a quite faithful account of the beginning of Ismailis' history in 1092, who established a sect of Assassins led by Hassan Ibn Saba, and at the same time a vivid allusion to the period of terrible dictators between the two wars.

Lapierre says India, Pak will ultimately come together

Celebrated French writer Dominique Lapierre has said that India and Pakistan are "children of the same mother" and would settle their problems between them peacefully and fulfill Mahatama Gandhi's dreams.

"Bonds of history and culture will prove stronger. India and Pakistan are children of the same mother and will ultimately come together," the French writer said at the launch of the latest edition of his book "Freedom at Midnight" at the French embassy here last night on 61'st anniversary of Mahatama's martyrdom.

"Hopefully in our life time," was the author's response when asked when the two countries will settle their problems.

The author with his American collaborator Larry Collins had produced the bestseller on the story of India's freedom struggle in its closing years.

Asked for his comments on the Mumbai terror strikes, Lapierre, who has dealt with the theme of terrorism in his books such as "O Jerusalem", said that terror is not a new phenomenon.

"It has always been there throughout history. The challenge is to calm it down and I am sure time will throw up great men like Gandhi and Nelson Mandela (South African anti-apartheid leader) to meet the challenge," he said.

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France's First Lady Carla Bruni: A traitor to Italy?

The most serious issue has been Bruni's reported involvement in two recent cases of blocked extraditions of convicted Italian leftist terrorists, who had taken refuge in France under a special amnesty law signed by then-President Francois Mitterrand in the wake of Italy's so-called "Years of Lead" violence in the 1970s and 1980s. Bruni admitted in October that she and her older sister had urged Sarkozy to block the scheduled extradition of Marina Petrella, who was suffering from severe depression and weight loss. Sarkozy, who'd come to office vowing to force the return of convicted Italian terrorists, reversed his earlier decision, and blocked the extradition to Italy. While his wife was pleased and most of France barely noticed, many in Italy were outraged at Bruni's involvement. A week later, an Italian victims' rights group came to Paris to protest at the Elysee doorstep.

In the past two weeks another similar case has emerged, after Brazil blocked the extradition to Italy of leftist Cesare Battisti, convicted of four murders in the 1980s. Battisti had also long taken refuge in France, where he became a successful author of mystery novels, and a cause celebre among Parisian leftist intellectuals. He was arrested in 2007 by French police, but managed to flee to Brazil. Italian media reports last week claimed that during the French First Couple's recent trip to Rio de Janeiro, Bruni had lobbied Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to block the extradition.

On Sunday, making her first appearance on Italian TV since marrying Sarkozy, Bruni vigorously denied any involvement in the Battisti case, calling reports that she'd brought the case up with Lula "slanderous." Still, French novelist Fred Vargas, who has been leading the campaign in support of Battisti and has managed to speak to top Brazilian officials, has said that she'd lobbied Bruni directly about the case.

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Asterix creator denies his daughter's accusation of selling out

That indomitable Gaul Albert Uderzo, creator of Asterix, has rounded on his daughter over her accusations that he sold out by ceding control of the comic book series to a major French publisher.

Earlier this month, Uderzo's daughter Sylvie wrote a piece in Le Monde suggesting that her 81-year-old father had been pushed into the deal to sell Hachette Livre a 60% share in Asterix's publisher Editions Albert-René. "I find myself entering the fight against, perhaps, the worst enemies of Asterix: men of industry and finance," she wrote. "They who pushed my father into reneging on all the values with which he raised me: independence, brotherhood, conviviality and resistance."

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The best existentialist fiction

How to live? How to reach meaning with God in decline and the singularity of individual consciousness on the rise? These have never been questions defined by the shapeliness or wholeness of their answers; their very urgency has tended to provoke a response of fragments. But, occasionally, what beautiful fragments.

Jean-Paul Sartre is usually cited as begetter of the most complete existential answer, with Nausea (1938), but more than two decades earlier André Gide's The Vatican Cellars appalled critics with its supposedly amoral and nihilistic Romanian orphan hero, Lafcadio Wluiki, who, in the novel's most famous scene, throws a fellow passenger out of a train without motive. Superbly satisfying, mischief-making and funny, Gide's wonderfully controlled account of a young man who will commit any act to rid himself of the cliches of convention and family and his own past laid one of the first paths for other alienated heroes to follow.

Meursault, Albert Camus's "man without apparent conscience", is one. Meursault's first-person narrative in The Outsider is justly famous for its tragic tension between a man judged inhuman by society - he murders an Arab in momentary confusion, but is condemned more for failing to show grief at his mother's funeral - and one who, in his actions and utterances, is consistently honest. What is often overlooked is the rich, hot fabric of Camus's descriptions of the life of a profoundly sensual Frenchman, dominated by the sea and sun.

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Greece: Foreign ministry spokesman on anniversary of Imia incident

The foreign ministry's spokesman on Wednesday commented on the 11-year anniversary of the Imia incident, a dispute over a pair of rocky, uninhabited islets in the eastern Aegean that almost precipitated in a confrontation between Greece and Turkey.

"Eleven years have passed since yet another incident in Greek-Turkish relations, and this gives us the opportunity to confirm our volition to always defend Greek interests, and at the same time, to safeguard conditions for good-neighborly relations with Turkey," spokesman George Koumoutsakos told reporters.

Ankara's dispute of Greek sovereignty of the islets and their accompanying continental shelf -- which lies to the east of the "sponge-divers" island of Kalymnos - ranked as the lowest point in Greek-Turkish relations since 1974.


Source: ANA daily news bulletin


Embassy of Greece - The Hague, Netherlands - Press & Communication Office ~

'Molding American minds'

A white supremacist perspective, from Who Rules America?

The average American, of whose daily life TV-watching takes such an unhealthy portion, distinguishes between these fictional situations and reality only with difficulty, if at all. He responds to the televised actions, statements, and attitudes of TV actors much as he does to his own peers in real life. For all too many Americans the real world has been replaced by the false reality of the TV environment, and it is to this false reality that his urge to conform responds. Thus, when a TV scriptwriter expresses approval of some ideas and actions through the TV characters for whom he is writing, and disapproval of others, he exerts a powerful pressure on millions of viewers toward conformity with his own views.

And as it is with TV entertainment, so it is also with the news, whether televised or printed. The insidious thing about this form of thought control is that even when we realize that entertainment or news is biased, the media masters still are able to manipulate most of us. This is because they not only slant what they present, but also they establish tacit boundaries and ground rules for the permissible spectrum of opinion.

As an example, consider the media treatment of Middle East news. Some editors or commentators are slavishly pro-Israel in their every utterance, while others seem nearly neutral. No one, however, dares suggest that the U.S. government is backing the wrong side in the Arab-Jewish conflict, or that 9-11 was a result of that support. Nor does anyone dare suggest that it served Jewish interests, rather than American interests, to send U.S. forces to cripple Iraq, Israel's principal rival in the Middle East. Thus, a spectrum of permissible opinion, from pro-Israel to nearly neutral, is established.

Another example is the media treatment of racial issues in the United States. Some commentators seem almost dispassionate in reporting news of racial strife, while others are emotionally partisan—with the partisanship always on the non-White side. All of the media spokesmen without exception, however, take the position that "multiculturalism" and racial mixing are here to stay and that they are good things.

Because there are differences in degree, however, most Americans fail to realize that they are being manipulated. Even the citizen who complains about "managed news" falls into the trap of thinking that because he is presented with an apparent spectrum of opinion he can escape the thought controllers' influence by believing the editor or commentator of his choice. It's a "heads I win, tails you lose" situation. Every point on the permissible spectrum of public opinion is acceptable to the media masters—and no impermissible fact or viewpoint is allowed any exposure at all, if they can prevent it.

The control of the opinion-molding media is nearly monolithic. All of the controlled media—television, radio, newspapers, magazines, books, motion pictures—speak with a single voice, each reinforcing the other. Despite the appearance of variety, there is no real dissent, no alternative source of facts or ideas accessible to the great mass of people that might allow them to form opinions at odds with those of the media masters. They are presented with a single view of the world—a world in which every voice proclaims the equality of the races, the inerrant nature of the Jewish "Holocaust" tale, the wickedness of attempting to halt the flood of non-White aliens pouring across our borders, the danger of permitting citizens to keep and bear arms, the moral equivalence of all sexual orientations, and the desirability of a "pluralistic," cosmopolitan society rather than a homogeneous, White one. It is a view of the world designed by the media masters to suit their own ends—and the pressure to conform to that view is overwhelming. People adapt their opinions to it, vote in accord with it, and shape their lives to fit it.

And who are these all-powerful masters of the media? As we shall see, to a very large extent they are Jews. It isn't simply a matter of the media being controlled by profit-hungry capitalists, some of whom happen to be Jews. If that were the case, the ethnicity of the media masters would reflect, at least approximately, the ratio of rich Gentiles to rich Jews. Despite a few prominent exceptions, the preponderance of Jews in the media is so overwhelming that we are obliged to assume that it is due to more than mere happenstance.

'Put simply, George W. Bush’s greatest success was that he gave a very bad name to very bad things'

From George Bush's gift to the world: The end of American imperialism

Unquestionably, however, Bush did make some positive contributions to American life, even if they were completely inadvertent, and even if they were dwarfed by the swath of destruction he left all across the landscape. Put simply, George W. Bush's greatest success was that he gave a very bad name to very bad things.

Like the Republican Party, for example. Or conservative ideology. Or theocracy. Or presidents with the last name of Bush. Or emotional midgets who seek the White House as a salve for their personal psychological neediness.

We can be grateful for all these contributions, and I certainly am – though “thanks” is not likely what I would say if I had the pleasure of relating my assessment of Mr. Bush to him directly. More likely it would be something closer to the gracious words Dick “Dick” Cheney had for Patrick Leahy early on in the administration, when the two bumped into each other on the Senate floor. Those remarks were not, shall we say, fit for print in a family newspaper.

But I digress.

George Bush left us many gifts, but perhaps the greatest of them is that he has ruined the sport of imperialism in America, maybe forever.

Admittedly, that may of course be wishful thinking. Woe be unto the world, for example, should there be another 9/11 type of event. Somebody somewhere would have to pay in spades, and they likely wouldn't be nice white folks.

And god only knows, alternatively, what Americans might be capable of under conditions of real resource deprivation. Considering what we've already done while being the richest and most powerful country in the world, it's scary to think of what we could do with our back genuinely to the wall.

But leaving those unusual situations aside, it must be said that, after Iraq, the fun has really gone out of eviscerating small foreign countries, even those foolish enough to locate themselves on top of our oil.

Imperialism used to be a fairly sporting avocation for gentlemen of a certain class. You could occupy hapless Latin American countries, topple Iranian democracies, and simultaneously sponsor apartheid suppression of whole populations, still having time left by mid-afternoon for a couple belts with the boys down at the club, all in celebration of a good day's work at the office. It was jolly good fun for all. Except, of course, for all for whom it wasn't.

Unfortunately, that latter category included more or less the entirety of the southern hemisphere, and not a few in the north to boot. But, so what? We're Americans! Caring about the morality of imperialism is for pre-dictatorship revolutionary anti-colonialist leaders and washed-up European former empires who can't get it up anymore.

Truth be told, we're now closer to being in that latter category than not, and we can thank George W. Bush for that, one of the few contributions of this complete and utter disaster going by the name of the 43rd presidency.

I'd say we're more than a bit lucky for that outcome, too. Imagine if Iraq had been a success. Imagine if it had been the cakewalk they obviously thought it would be. Indeed, one of the great ironies of American politics is that Iraq probably readily could have been a 'great success', at least in terms of what could be marketed as such to a foolish American public.

In that sense, we are really quite fortunate, in a perverse sort of way, that Bush was as much a lazy boob as he was a warmonger. We are lucky that Rumsfeld was as dogmatic about his 21 century military ideas as Cheney was a completely psycho amoral sociopath. For had they simply run an occupation that was as carefully planned and as adequately staffed as the invasion, or had they toppled Saddam and then promptly left, “Mission Accomplished” would have been a lot more than some banner duct-taped onto the bridge of an aircraft carrier.

A crime committed 60 years ago takes precedence over a similar one committed today before the entire world

From Ayoon wa Azan (Is It All a Matter of Coincidence?)

I need to clarify this introduction first before I proceed. My job obliges me to read the British dailies every day. As I skim through their pages, I come across unsolicited news items on Holocaust heroes, movies, and novels. As for the American dailies, I surf them on the net, focusing on the political news in complete disregard for the social reports, cinema and local news. I am sure I would come across an abundant material on the Holocaust if I were to have a hard copy of these dailies. For the Holocaust is an industry per se in the States.
 
In today's column, I will focus on the content of the British dailies with the records kept in my office for all those interested in checking them. When Israel first launched its offensive on Gaza on December 27, I used to note one or two news on the Holocaust, a development I overlooked. But at the start of the new year, one or more items were published on the Holocaust. Coincidence must have played its part. But its not only about coincidence. The abundant material published while Gaza is in flames highlights the attempts to deflect attention away from the neo-Nazis in Israel.

Thus, with Gaza as a background, I have the following:

- On January 3rd, 2009, I came across two pages on the movie "Defiance" under the title "True Defiance: The story of the fabulous Bielski boys." The movie narrates the story of three brothers from Byelorussia who saw the Nazi war machinery smash their fellow Jews. They neither escaped nor surrendered but organized resistance and killed all the Nazis they could. Starred by Daniel Craig, the last hero of James Bond's films, the movie is directed by Ed Zwick. 

- On January 3rd, I came across another headline "Kubrick Holocaust film to be told in installation." After having invested enormous energy and money into this movie on the Warsaw Ghetto, renowned director Stanley Kubrick passed away before directing the film. Now artists Jane and Louise Wilson will tell the story of the movie through a new art installation at the British Film Institute in London.

Bavaria seizes educational reprints of Nazi propaganda

Munich - Bavarian authorities on Friday began seizing educational reprints of Nazi propaganda, saying the facsimiles of 75- year-old hate-filled newspapers might inspire modern-day neo-Nazis. The reprints are the work of a British part-works publisher, Albertas, which uses historic newspapers to give readers in several European nations a feel for the past. The editions have commentaries which dissect the propaganda tricks.

The state of Bavaria has opposed the series since it began two weeks ago and became a best-seller in a nation where most people under 80 have never seen Nazi propaganda in the raw and those over 80 do not want to talk about it.

Several leading historians in Germany have praised the series, saying it will educate young Germans about their nation's awful past.

Bavaria, where dictator Adolf Hitler once made his home, claims copyright over major Nazi writings and forbids any reprints. Albertas ignored an earlier cease-and-desist letter from Bavarian authorities.

Justice authorities in Munich said the British publisher would be prosecuted under anti-Nazi laws for printing swastikas.

The new weekly popular history series, using papers from the 1930s and 1940s, is aimed at the general public and schools.

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The western front of the jihad against the Jews

The common front between the Jew-haters of the Arab and Muslim world and the Jew-haters of the west is now gathering momentum. On 26 January the Simon Wiesenthal Centre (sorry no link) put out this statement:

In a letter to Swedish Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's Director for International Relations, Dr Shimon Samuels, reported on 'a most alarming situation yesterday in Malmö, as witnessed by one of our Centre's Swedish members.' Samuels noted that 'apparently, a small number of Swedish Jews had received the necessary permit for a silent demonstration for peace, to be held in the centre of Malmö'. He continued: 'Following the first speech, electric wires to the microphone were cut as a large crowd of Arab counter-demonstrators surrounded your Jewish citizens, screaming antisemitic abuse and brandishing swastika posters', adding that the official demonstration organizers requested the police officers present, to keep the peace and prevent a riot. The law enforcement response was that “The Jews should leave!” Jewish children and elderly were forced to run from the gathering as young Arabs pursued them, threatening physical violence. The Centre pointed out that 'Malmö has become a Gaza nest in Scandinavia, with an increasingly Jihadist presence, especially galvanized by the European Social Forum calls from Malmö for assaults upon Israel, last September, BEFORE the Gaza operation.'
On the same day that this letter was sent, the day before Holocaust Remembrance Day, Egyptian cleric Amin al Ansari appeared on an Egyptian TV channel to announce that Europe had had no choice but to exterminate the Jews in the Holocaust because of their innate evil. You can see the footage and read the transcript here
Starting off by examining 'the civil strife the Jews have caused throughout the world,' Al-Ansari explained that because of the Jews' deeds during and after World War I, 'it got to the point that the rulers themselves had no solution but to annihilate them.' Al-Ansari showed viewers how 'the holocausts of the Jews in Germany were because of their own deeds - they were killing Germans, kindling civil strife, inciting the people against their rulers, and corrupting the peoples,' underlining his points with World War II footage of the bombing of Berlin, which he compared to present-day Gaza. Then, saying, 'Let's watch what Germany did to Israel - or rather, to the Jews,' he screened footage of torture and killing of Jews in Dachau, Mauthausen, and Belsen, providing running commentary, and stating, 'This is what we hope will happen, but, Allah willing, at the hand of the Muslims.' He adds that the Jews 'have even turned [the Holocaust] it into a holiday, which will be marked in a few days. They call it the Holocaust Holiday, in which they rekindle what happened to them, for the whole world to see, so that people will feel sorry for them... so that they can continue to extort people politically and financially forever. They like money.'
Egypt, you may recall, is the country which the west is expecting to ensure that no more weapons to annihilate Israel are smuggled through the tunnels under its border into Gaza. Small chance of this support for the genocide of the Jews being viewed with abhorrence in Norway, where Trine Lilleng, that country's First Secretary at its embassy in Riyadh, recently sent out an email on her office account (excoriated here by David Harris, Executive Director of the American Jewish committee) in which she declared:
The grandchildren of Holocaust survivors from World War II are doing to the Palestinians exactly what was done to them by Nazi Germany.
Accompanying the text were photos, with an emphasis on children, seeking to juxtapose the Holocaust with the recent Israeli military operation in Gaza.
Amin al Ansari would doubtless approve.

Having been incited by such obscene remarks to believe that the Israelis are indeed Nazis – with all the Holocaust-denial that such a monstrously inverted view necessarily entails)  the Norwegians clearly think it's time for a pogrom against their supporters. The Jerusalem Post reports that Siv Jensen, chairwoman of the main opposition Progress Party, has been receiving death threats after she spoke at a pro-Israel rally and is now under 24-hour security guard.
'I have never experienced this kind of hatred in Norway,' said Toje, who was present at the demonstration. 'There were people throwing stones at and spitting on rally-goers. Afterward, people carrying Israeli flags were randomly attacked in the streets.' Along with expressions of support for Israel, speakers at the rally, including Jensen, called for aid to be distributed in Gaza and for a cease-fire agreement to be signed. 'It was a peaceful rally,' said Toje. 'Jensen was calling for the same things as Barack Obama. The difference is that she was doing it in Norway. The environment here is different.' The Socialist Left Party (Sosialistisk Venstreparti), which is part of the current coalition, has proposed a number of boycotts against Israel since the government was formed in 2005. 'The first was a general boycott,' said Toje. 'Next came an academic boycott and then a boycott on arms.' The boycotts, though not implemented, have exacerbated an already hostile atmosphere.
As they do everywhere. And now as Ha'aretz reports American academics are also leaping on the pogrom bandwagon.

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Clemson study links rape drop to Internet

From In defense of Internet pornography

Sex crimes among Summit County juveniles are at their lowest rate since record-keeping began in 1989. Officials are baffled as to why.

Well, I can tell them why, and I can tell them in just one word: porn.

Never has pornography been more readily available. The hardest of hard-core smut can be seen every day by anybody with a computer and an Internet connection.

Isn't porn supposed to lead to more sexual abuse of girls and women? Well, that was the theory, voiced constantly and vehemently for decades. But statistics show precisely the opposite.

During the 15-year period ending in 2008, the rate of forcible rape dropped a staggering 30 percent nationwide.

In 1992 — the Dark Ages of the Internet — about 43 people were raped among every 100,000 Americans, according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report. Since then, the rate has dropped to 30 per 100,000.

Kvetch!

From Kvetch.com

  • What? A Kvetch is a funny complaint. This site randomly displays kvetches sent via Twitter.
  • Why? Because maybe if you let it out online, you'll be happier in real life. (More info.)
  • How? Click “Hit Me!” for a new kvetch. If it makes you LOL, click the thumbs-up. If not, click the thumbs-down. Highly rated kvetches will be shown more frequently. To post your own, first join Twitter and follow Kvetch. Then just send a tweet in this format: “D Kvetch Your kvetch here!” Kvetches are displayed without attribution because we want this to be a safe place to let it out, baby.
  • Who? Kvetch has been online and off since 1996. This incarnation was created by Derek Powazek, Josh Bryant, Jonathan Snook, and Toby Joe Boudreaux just for kicks.

The last stop for a young utopian

The Rebirth Brass Band was on the bill that night. Brydum, 25, had danced for a while outside the club in her flip-flops. She thought that the bouncer would eventually let her in for free, and that suited her in more ways than one. She believed, passionately, that people would one day reject a basic mechanism of free-market societies: the exchange of goods and services for money.

She arrived in New Orleans in late September with a rail pass, a little red notebook and a head full of ideas about the oppressive forces of capitalism and government, and how they might be replaced with something better. The road trip was partly a rite of passage in the grand tradition of Jack Kerouac -- an adventure to mark her recent graduation from college in San Francisco. But she also hoped to report on the small, scattered outposts where fellow radicals had established alternatives to mainstream culture.

It would all end in New Orleans, four miles from the Howlin' Wolf, in a forlorn and out-of-the-way block in the 9th Ward.

More than three years after Hurricane Katrina, its homes remained battered and abandoned, its lots choked with debris and roof-high weeds. To many Americans, this kind of New Orleans neighborhood has come to symbolize a near-criminal lack of government presence.

Brydum might have seen the block as the kind of place where an autonomous, post-capitalist movement might flourish.

But it is unclear if she saw it at all.

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[ via Dan Clore ]

The 'Encapsulated Marginality' of global nomads

From Identity and The Need to Belong:Understanding Identity Formation and Place in the lives of Global Nomads

This refers to people who are 'buffeted by conflicting cultural loyalties' and feel isolated in their marginality. They may be very unsure of who they are and hence also find it difficult to make decisions, define their boundaries and identify personal truths. (Bennett, www.worldweave.com/BSIdentity.html, p.2) The result of this will often lead to a strong sense of alienation, powerlessness and the feeling that life is devoid of meaning. Essentially, the marginal person is likely to pass through this process before becoming a 'constructive marginal'. Furthermore, the encapsulated marginal tends to experience himself or herself as immensely isolated, to the extent that they can envision no peer group to whom they can otherwise relate. This state is what Bennett has termed 'terminal uniqueness' for it seems irresolvable to the encapsulated marginal. (M.R. Paige, 1993, pp.115) Furthermore they 'may report feeling inauthentic all the time, as if any engagement with society is simply role playing, and there is no way ever to feel at home.' In order to try and assimilate into the society in which global nomads find themselves, those who respond as encapsulated marginals may give up their international selves completely. Others, in turn, may exacerbate this, as one global nomad recounts: 'my fiancé warned me to give up all this 'international stuff' if I really wanted to marry her.

Detachment or complete assimilation, on the surface, will often also occur simply because it is too strenuous to feel constantly pulled by conflicting loyalties and identities. Often, this will not be apparent to surrounding peers, as most multiculturals are adept at being a 'chameleon' in their varying social strata. Hoffmann eloquently portrays the isolation of this experience:

"My detachment would serve me even better if it were entirely genuine. It isn't. Underneath my careful trained serenity, there is a caldron of seething lost loves and a rage at that loss. And there is - for all that - a longing for a less strenuous way to maintain my identity and my pride. I want to gather experience with both my hands, not only with my soul. Essential humanity is all very well, but we need the colors of our time and the shelter of a specific place. I cannot always be out on the heath - we exist in actual houses - in communities, in clothes - and occasionally at some garden party amidst meaningless chat..." (E. Hoffmann, 1989,pp.40)

The identity of the encapsulated marginal has experienced disjunction from constantly shifting frames of reference and the intensity of this experience will normally depend on a number of factors including, for example, previous experience with cultural shifts, existing support systems, personality traits and what can be termed 'culture distance' (the degree of similarities between internalized cultures). (M.R. Paige, 1993, pp.114) Because this person has difficulty controlling the shifts between the worldviews of at least two cultures, Park suggests the person 'learns to look upon the world in which he was born and bred with something of the detachment of a stranger.' (Park, 1928 pp.888) It is this constant disjunction, as Jung suggests, which may lead to a disunion within the person and may cause them to give up, and to lapse into identity with their surroundings. (Jung, 1965 pp.342-343) It may be that the second culture applies such pressure to conform to unfamiliar roles in order to achieve acceptance or success. Real integration or success may therefore continually be thwarted in the context of an oppressive second culture.

As a result, establishing enduring goals and clear values, or strong personal attachments represents a major effort, given the conflicting pressures. This, in turn, leaves the marginalized person more isolated once again. 'The sense of being alone with this cultural- identity struggle often causes marginal people to feel detached from all reference groups and forced to resolve these conflicts alone.' (M.R. Paige, 1993, pp.119) In an intercultural training program referred to as 'Perry's scheme' learners get beyond the confusing point of different cultural perspectives through the recognition of the inevitability of ambiguity.

Cultural marginals are helped in taking on their own responsibility to think autonomously, based on the assessment of a specific context. This stage, which is referred to as contextual relativism allows the cultural marginal random cultural-frame-of-reference shifting to become grounded in a specific context. Basically, the context is assessed and then the marginal commits themselves to a set of personal values within this context. Ultimately, 'it requires the person to make a commitment to a value system honed from many contexts and an identity actively affirmed and based solidly on self as choice maker.'(M.R. Paige, ed.1993, pp.119) Furthermore, in beginning to move away from a multiplistic stage of cognitive and ethical development and more towards contextual relativism, it requires the marginal person to demonstrate a flexibility of boundaries, balanced by a skill at defining them. The cultural marginal who can master this stage can become a constructive marginal, capable of constructing identity and making commitments in the face of ambiguity.

Identity theorist Dr. Schaetti found that individuals who had a strong set of values or faith growing up began a much earlier reflective process in regards to their identity than those where this was absent. (Conversation with Dr. Barbara F. Schaetti, 2002) However, many on returning from living overseas to their faith communities find that they have little or nothing in common with them. This produces a profound questioning of one's core beliefs and value system as well as one's various cultural frames of reference. Committing to a set of values in the face of so much ambiguity is one that probably few feel they achieve satisfactorily. Nonetheless, it is a move towards what it means to be a constructive marginal.

Claim: Identity of master alchemist Fulcanelli finally revealed

After more than fifteen years of reflexion, we finally decided to reveal the true identity of the enigmatic FULCANELLI. Who was the masterly author of the Mystery of the Cathedrals and of the Dwellings of the Philosophers, whose depth remains considerable still nowadays, at the beginning of the 21st century

FULCANELLI let appear in his work, in addition to an unequalled teaching of Alchemy and Hermetic Symbolism , invaluable elements making it possible to determine his true personality and thus to prove with certainty his patronymic identity

According to the thread skilfully left by Eugene Canseliet who was the unique disciple of FULCANELLI, we devoted ourselves here to a true investigation which led us to inquire into the alchemical but also into the scientific spheres of the years 1880-1920. It appeared slowly but clearly that the one who was dissimulated behind the pseudonym of FULCANELLI, was also a prestigious member of the Institute. Indeed, a great number of his reports and communications were retained by the Academy of Science. It is thus by no means surprising that he was in contact, according to the own testimony of Eugene Canseliet, with the scientists of his time, such as the elderly Chevreul, Marcellin Berthelot or even Pierre Curie, but also with the popular politicians of his time, whom he was meeting at his friend's Ferdinand de Lesseps, the man at the origin of the famous Suez Canal!

This meticulous investigation enables the intense moments and the breath-taking discoveries which marked out the life of the famous alchemist whose pseudonym of FULCANELLI meaning the Fire of the Sun, was perfectly suitable. This pseudonym indicated his hermetic concerns indeed just as it indicated his scientific research, which allowed him to reach... immortality on two behalves!

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