Monday, April 13, 2009

Musical Innerlube: A Perfect Circle - 'Judith' (Repost)

Making the video - Sirenia 'The Path To Decay'

'Sirenia** started recording the new album in July. It was recorded in Sound Suite Studios, France and Stargoth Studios, Norway. The mixing and mastering took place in Antfarm Studios, Denmark with Tue Madsen. The new album, called "The 13th Floor", was completed on September [was released on] the 23rd of January 2009. The album features guest appearances by Jan Kenneth Barkved. The first single, "The Path To Decay", was released on December 26th 2008 as a digital download.'


** 'Sirenia is an order of fully aquatic, herbivorous mammals that inhabit rivers, estuaries, coastal marine waters, swamps, and marine wetlands. The order evolved during the Eocene epoch, more than 50 million years ago...'

'Zorba, let's revolt'

As posted on You Tube :

Prosecuting the Bush Administration’s torturers

Andy Worthington reports in the The Future of Freedom Foundation :

As I explained in an article at the time, Cheney’s claim that he was merely responding to pressure from the CIA was patently untrue, as it was clear from at least November 2001 that the crucial decisions to hold prisoners without any rights whatsoever — which led inexorably to decisions that they could be interrogated illegally, and then to decisions that they could be tortured with impunity — originated in the vice president’s office. However, even without a clear admission by Cheney that he was responsible for establishing the program, his confession that he was intimately involved in approving plans to waterboard a prisoner in U.S. custody establishes, beyond any doubt, that he was involved in approving the use of torture.

Nor are these the only occasions when senior officials have admitted that the Bush administration was involved in torture. In January, just a week before Barack Obama took office, retired judge Susan Crawford, the “convening authority” for the military commission trial system at Guantánamo (another brain-child of Cheney and his legal counsel, David Addington), admitted, in a Washington Post interview with Bob Woodward, that Mohammed al-Qahtani, a Saudi prisoner in Guantánamo, regarded as the potential 20th hijacker for the 9/11 attacks, had been tortured. “We tortured Qahtani,” Crawford, a protégée of Cheney and a close friend of Addington, admitted. “His treatment met the legal definition of torture.”

What was remarkable about this confession — beyond it being the first instance of a senior Bush administration official admitting that anyone had been tortured — was that al-Qahtani had not been subjected to waterboarding, but had, instead, been subjected, over a two-month period in late 2002 and early 2003, to a combination of other techniques, approved by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. For Crawford, however, it was the combined effect of these techniques — which included extreme sleep deprivation and sustained acts of humiliation — that led to her decision not to put al-Qahtani forward for a trial by military commission.

“The techniques they used were all authorized, but the manner in which they applied them was overly aggressive and too persistent,” she said. “You think of torture, you think of some horrendous physical act done to an individual. This was not any one particular act; this was just a combination of things that had a medical impact on him, that hurt his health. It was abusive and uncalled for. And coercive. Clearly coercive. It was that medical impact that pushed me over the edge,” and to conclude that it was torture.

Further evidence that senior officials were intimately involved with the use of torture by U.S. forces came last week, in a detailed analysis by Mark Danner, in the New York Review of Books, of a leaked secret report by the International Committee of the Red Cross, based on interviews with the 14 “high-value detainees” — including KSM, Abu Zubaydah and Abdul Rahim al-Nashiri — who were transferred to Guantánamo in September 2006. Danner’s article did not cite confessions by senior officials that they had authorized the use of torture — although it did include the Red Cross’s own unprecedented conclusion that, “in many cases, the ill-treatment to which they were subjected while held in the CIA program, either singly or in combination, constituted torture” — but what it did establish, with a chilling clarity, is that every slight amendment to the horrors of the torture program had to be approved further up the chain of command.

“It wasn't up to individual interrogators to decide, ‘Well, I'm gonna slap him. Or I'm going to shake him. Or I'm gonna make him stay up for 48 hours,’” CIA interrogator John Kiriakou explained. “Each one of these steps ... had to have the approval of the Deputy Director for Operations,” he continued. “So before you laid a hand on him, you had to send in the cable saying, ‘He's uncooperative. Request permission to do X.’ And that permission would come.” And as Danner noted, soon after the first “high-value detainee,” Abu Zubaydah, was captured in March 2002, CIA officers “briefed high-level officials in the National Security Council's Principals Committee,” including Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and Attorney General John Ashcroft, who “then signed off on the [interrogation] plan.”

As a result of America’s commitment to the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which was presented to the U.S. Senate by Ronald Reagan on May 20, 1988, we should, therefore, be applauding an announcement by the Obama administration that those responsible for authorizing the use of torture will imminently be facing prosecution. As the convention makes clear, “Each state party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law,” and shall, when alleged acts of torture are discovered, “submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution.” And under Article VI of the US Constitution, “all treaties made … under the authority of the United States shall be the supreme law of the land.”

Instead of prosecution, however, we have Sen. Leahy’s proposed “Nonpartisan Commission Of Inquiry,” and those calling for President Obama to appoint an Independent prosecutor kept firmly outside the corridors of power.
So how did this happen, and what does it mean? Well, to be blunt, a “Nonpartisan Commission Of Inquiry” is politically useful because it implicitly acknowledges that, although senior officials in the Bush administration committed war crimes, they only did so because they believed that another major terrorist attack was imminent, and because they thought that only torture would enable them to “break” those who possessed vital knowledge that they would not disclose by any other means.

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Time for the U.S. to take a second look at the International Criminal Court

William H. Taft IV,Patricia M. Wald

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The time has come for the United States to engage officially with the International Criminal Court. Established in 2002, the court exists to prosecute persons accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, and the United States should cooperate with all responsible efforts to combat such abhorrent acts. We should act now to develop a more formal relationship with the leading institution for prosecuting such violators.

The United States has been wary of the ICC and so far declined to join the 108 nations that are members. Objections began with the Clinton administration and were magnified after 9/11. Out of fear that the court would issue frivolous arrest warrants for American soldiers and otherwise overstep its bounds, the Bush administration in 2002 announced that the United States would have nothing to do with the court.

Those fears have not been realized. The ICC prosecutor has declined to investigate politically motivated charges in Iraq and elsewhere, and instead has focused on the gravest human rights cases of our time: in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, the Central African Republic and Darfur. The courthas compiled a commendable record in cases of considerable interest to the United States. Recognizing this, the Bush administration in 2005 began softening its opposition to the court and even supported some of its efforts, particularly in Darfur, where the court issued an arrest warrant against Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir.

The American Society of International Law convened an independent, nonpartisan task force of American legal experts, which we chaired, to examine the U.S. relationship with the court. The task force concluded unanimously that the Obama administration should take the next step and announce an explicit policy of positive engagement with the ICC. If that policy proves successful, we should then give serious consideration to joining the court.

There are several ways in which the United States can and should be helpful to the court right now. First, the administration can designate a senior official as the U.S. liaison to the court. Second, President Obama should direct U.S. negotiators to attend upcoming meetings of court members. Of particular U.S. concern will be whether the member states decide to add the "crime of aggression" to the court's jurisdiction. This decision could affect U.S. military operations around the world. Staying away can only hurt our interests.

Third, the president should order an assessment of how the United States could offer concrete support to the court. That could include sharing evidence and information and assisting in the arrest and extradition of fugitive defendants.

Fourth, Congress should revisit the American Service-Members' Protection Act of 2002. Congress passed the law principally to protect members of our armed forces from International Criminal Court prosecution. In practice, without a specific waiver, the act prohibits cooperation of any kind by U.S. agencies with the court, unnecessarily tying our hands. Congress should consider amending or repealing this law.

The International Criminal Court is well situated to enforce international laws against the most heinous crimes. The movement since 2005 toward increased engagement with the court has been beneficial - both to the court and to U.S. interests. The time has come to advance our common interests and help shape the court into an effective, accountable body. We could then consider whether to join it.

William H. Taft IV is former deputy secretary of Defense; Patricia M. Wald is a former chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

This article appeared on page A - 15 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Bush's 'lawyer-shopping' for torture

From Middle East Online :

Seeking legal advice

Release of May 2005 memos expected to lead to further calls for prosecutions of Bush officials.

By Jason Leopold - LOS ANGELES

In 2005, after pushing out the Justice Department lawyer who had overturned President George W. Bush’s claimed authority to abuse “war on terror” prisoners, his administration reinstated key elements of the memos granting Bush virtually unlimited powers over the detainees, according to a list of still-secret documents.
I obtained the list of legal memos about Bush’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” from the ACLU, and the Obama administration is expected to declassify and release three of them from May 2005, which reasserted Bush’s authority, Newsweek reported over the weekend.
According to Newsweek, one senior Obama administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, described the memos as “ugly.”
Steven Bradbury, who headed the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel during Bush’s second term, signed the May 2005 memos to reverse efforts led by former Assistant Attorney General Jack Goldsmith in 2003 and 2004 to scrap earlier OLC memos asserting Bush’s powers.
Senior Bush administration officials were furious at the attempts by Goldsmith, who with the support of then-Deputy Attorney General James Comey, knocked down memos by previous OLC lawyers John Yoo and Jay Bybee.
Yoo and Bybee had worked closely with the White House to create legal arguments for Bush to claim his Commander-in-Chief power essentially let him operate beyond the law.
In the May 2005 memos, Bradbury reinstated key elements of the Yoo-Bybee memos – and reportedly even expanded on some – clearing the way for additional use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” against detainees.
The chronology of events – the White House collaborating with Yoo and Bybee to develop the memos after 9/11, Goldsmith and Comey then challenging them before being driven from their jobs, and Bradbury reviving the Yoo-Bybee arguments – provides further evidence that the Bush administration politicized the OLC’s traditional role of giving objective legal advice regarding the limits of presidential power.
In effect, Bush and his team appear to have “lawyer-shopped” for Justice Department officials who would give them legal cover to engage in torture and other actions that violated US laws, international treaties and the US Constitution.

Torture Memos

One memo signed by Bradbury on May 10, 2005, largely restored the infamous Yoo-Bybee “torture memo” of August 2002 which spelled out what techniques CIA interrogators could use against prisoners.

The "torture memo," along with others drafted by Yoo and signed by Bybee, was withdrawn by Goldsmith after he took over the OLC in October 2003. In his 2007 book, The Terror Presidency, Goldsmith described the August 2002 memo as "legally flawed" and "sloppily reasoned."
In his book, Goldsmith recounted his collaboration with Comey, an experienced federal prosecutor, in trying to restore some integrity to the legal advice under which the Bush administration had operated after the 9/11 attacks.
“Ever since Comey had come on board in December of 2003, he had been my most powerful ally … in correcting the flawed interrogation opinions,” Goldsmith wrote. “He always acted with a sensitivity to upholding the integrity of the Justice Department.”
As Goldsmith struck down key Yoo-Bybee opinions, he and Comey encountered angry resistance and even ridicule from Bush insiders, particularly David Addington, the legal adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney.
Goldsmith described one White House meeting at which Addington pulled out a 3-by-5-inch card listing the OLC opinions that Goldsmith had withdrawn.
“Since you’ve withdrawn so many legal opinions that the President and others have been relying on,” Addington said with sarcasm in his voice, “we need you to go through all of OLC’s opinions and let us know which ones you will stand by.”
So, after nine contentious months at the OLC, a battered Goldsmith quit, accepting a tenured position at Harvard Law School.
Comey wasn’t far behind. Comey offended the White House, too, by resisting its warrantless surveillance program of Americans in March 2004.
That battle over the warrantless wiretaps reportedly earned Comey the derisive nickname from Bush as “Cuomey” or just “Cuomo,” a strong insult from Republicans who deemed former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo to be excessively liberal and famously indecisive.
Comey previously had been a well-respected Republican lawyer who was credited with prosecuting key terrorism cases including the Khobar Towers bombing which killed 19 US servicemen in 1996.
Comey also wore out his White House welcome by picking Patrick Fitzgerald to be special prosecutor to investigate who leaked the identity of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame after her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, criticized Bush’s misuse of intelligence on Iraq.
In 2003, when Attorney General John Ashcroft was still handling the investigation, Bush expressed confidence that the leakers would never be identified. But Ashcroft stepped aside because of conflicts of interest and his deputy, Comey, selected US Attorney Fitzgerald, who proved himself to be a more dogged investigator, eventually tracking the anti-Wilson campaign to the highest levels of the White House.

Restoring Bush’s Powers

After Goldsmith departed in summer 2004 and was replaced on an acting basis by Bradbury in 2005, Comey fought a rear-guard action against the restoration of the Yoo-Bybee views on sweeping presidential powers, but lost.

On May 10, 2005, Bradbury expanded those powers even more, according to a New York Time article published Oct. 4, 2007 and citing government officials.
"The new opinion, the officials said, for the first time provided explicit authorization to barrage terror suspects with a combination of painful physical and psychological tactics, including head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures," the Times said.
Then-Attorney General Alberto "Gonzales approved the legal memorandum on ‘combined effects’ over the objections of … Comey, … who was leaving his job after bruising clashes with the White House,” the Times reported. “Disagreeing with what he viewed as the opinion’s overreaching legal reasoning, Mr. Comey told colleagues at the department that they would all be ‘ashamed’ when the world eventually learned of it."
The list of documents that I obtained from the ACLU identified the subject of that Bradbury memo as “Authorized Interrogation Techniques.”
Another May 10, 2005, memo drafted by Bradbury discussed “whether CIA interrogation methods violate the cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment standard under federal and international law.” The legal opinion “reportedly concludes that past and present CIA interrogation methods do not constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” according to the ACLU.

The May 30, 2005, memo by Bradbury addressed the “use of enhanced interrogation techniques by the CIA.” The ACLU was unable to obtain a further description of that Bradbury memorandum.
On Aug. 15, 2005, in his farewell speech, Comey urged his colleagues to defend the integrity and honesty of the Justice Department.
“I expect that you will appreciate and protect an amazing gift you have received as an employee of the Department of Justice,” Comey said. “It is a gift you may not notice until the first time you stand up and identify yourself as an employee of the Department of Justice and say something – whether in a courtroom, a conference room or a cocktail party – and find that total strangers believe what you say next.
“That gift – the gift that makes possible so much of the good we accomplish – is a reservoir of trust and credibility, a reservoir built for us, and filled for us, by those who went before – most of whom we never knew. They were people who made sacrifices and kept promises to build that reservoir of trust.
“Our obligation – as the recipients of that great gift – is to protect that reservoir, to pass it to those who follow, those who may never know us, as full as we got it. The problem with reservoirs is that it takes tremendous time and effort to fill them, but one hole in a dam can drain them.
“The protection of that reservoir requires vigilance, an unerring commitment to truth, and a recognition that the actions of one may affect the priceless gift that benefits all. I have tried my absolute best – in matters big and small – to protect that reservoir and inspire others to protect it.”

Torture Aftermath

The Yoo-Bybee and Bradbury memos were the subject of a four-year-long internal investigation conducted by Justice Department’s internal watchdog agencies. The probe centered on whether Yoo, Bybee and Bradbury provided the White House with poor legal advice and violated "professional standards" in interpreting the Constitution.
The probe was completed last year and is said to be highly critical of Yoo, Bybee and Bradbury's legal work in this area. The report, however, remains classified.
Before leaving the vice presidency, Cheney acknowledged that he personally “signed off” on the waterboarding of al-Qaeda suspect Abu Zubaydah and two other alleged terrorist detainees and personally approved brutal interrogations of 33 others.

“I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared, as the [Central Intelligence] Agency, in effect, came in and wanted to know what they could and couldn't do,” Cheney said in an interview last December with ABC News. “And they talked to me, as well as others, to explain what they wanted to do. And I supported it.”
In a Jan. 22 executive order, President Obama outlawed the use of such aggressive interrogation tactics. As such, the administration concluded there was no longer a valid reason to continue to classify the Bradbury memos, Newsweek reported.

Newsweek reported that former CIA Director Michael Hayden was "furious" that the Yoo-Bybee/Bradbury memos were to be released and tried to thwart plans to declassify the memos by intervening directly with the Obama administration.
Apparently, the White House has sided with Attorney General Eric Holder, who is said to have made the case for releasing the documents.

"Faced with a court deadline in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit regarding the memos filed by the ACLU, Justice lawyers asked for a two-week extension because the memoranda are being reviewed for possible release," Newsweek reported.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the chair of the Intelligence Committee, announced earlier this month that her committee will conduct a year-long secret investigation into the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” and detention practices and whether the methods resulted in actionable intelligence as Bush administration officials have maintained.

The California Democrat also responded to excerpts of a secret report prepared by the International Committee of the Red Cross that concluded the abuse of 14 “high-value” detainees whom the ICRC interviewed “constituted torture.”

“In addition, many other elements of the ill treatment, either singly or in combination, constituted cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,” according to the ICRC report, a copy of which was obtained by journalist Mark Danner who published excerpts in The New York Review of Books.
Since the ICRC’s responsibilities involve ensuring compliance with the Geneva Conventions and supervising the treatment of prisoners of war, the organization’s findings carry legal weight.

Briefing Doubts

Feinstein told Newsweek, "I now know we were not fully and completely briefed on the CIA program.”

CIA Director Leon Panetta has said he does not support any inquiry that would lead to the prosecution of CIA personnel who carried out the interrogations.

Panetta told agency employees in a letter March 16 that he has been “assured” that the Senate Intelligence Committee's goal “is to draw lessons for future policy decisions, not to punish those who followed guidance from the Department of Justice. That is only fair.”

But the imminent release of the May 2005 memos will no doubt lead to further calls for investigations and prosecutions of Bush officials who signed off on and approved the torture of prisoners.

The ACLU called on Attorney General Holder last Wednesday to appoint a special prosecutor to launch a probe into the Bush administration's torture practices.

“The fact that such crimes have been committed can no longer be doubted or debated, nor can the need for an independent prosecutor be ignored by a new Justice Department committed to restoring the rule of law,” ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said.
“Given the increasing evidence of deliberate and widespread use of torture and abuse, and that such conduct was the predictable result of policy changes made at the highest levels of government, an independent prosecutor is clearly in the public interest,” Romero said.
Bybee is now a 9th Circuit Appeals Court judge in San Francisco. Yoo is a visiting law professor at Chapman University in Orange, California.

Jason Leopold is an investigative reporter and the author of News Junkie. His website is


In my own words, my American family is stuck in Pakistan

"Please help spread the word about the Ansari family. Hasan was a victim of the Patriot Act due to false charges made against him by his wife's xenophopic father. Currently they are struggling to get out of Pakistan."

Here ya my own words. Must tell ya I look alot fatter on video uhggg like that matters. Oh well...This is what happened and well I hope it never happens to you or someone you love. If you think it can't....think again. DHS is not a joke...and as it stands they can do whatever they want to whomever they wish. All it taes is ONE NAZI a**hole (like my father) to make one phone [c]all with a false accusation and they jump at the chance to hurt you and rip your life apart. No chance to rede[e]m yourself. Not even a trial....not even a phone call. ICE (Immigration Customs Enforcement) is controlled by DHS and hey they have a quota to fill so they do whatever it takes to fill that quota to keep their funding up and the numbers high. Hardly any prosecutions though. ICE's tag line is "Apprehention, Detention and Deportation." And that is what they do....of course with the torture thrown in there. Never mind not notifying the family of the person detained or anyone else for that matter including the court or an attorney.

American Embassy Islamabad.. does not help!!

we went to the US Embassy here in Pakistan .. they told Rose to divorce Hasan before they will help!!
we have sent out over a 1000 emails to officials and media.. we have not gotten one response!
thank you for your support and help

Brain researchers open door to editing memory

The drug blocks the activity of a substance that the brain apparently needs to retain much of its learned information. And if enhanced, the substance could help ward off dementias and other memory problems.

So far, the research has been done only on animals. But scientists say this memory system is likely to work almost identically in people.

The discovery of such an apparently critical memory molecule, and its many potential uses, are part of the buzz surrounding a field that, in just the past few years, has made the seemingly impossible suddenly probable: neuroscience, the study of the brain.

“If this molecule is as important as it appears to be, you can see the possible implications,” said Dr. Todd C. Sacktor, a 52-year-old neuroscientist who leads the team at the SUNY Downstate Medical Center, in Brooklyn, which demonstrated its effect on memory. “For trauma. For addiction, which is a learned behavior. Ultimately for improving memory and learning.”

Artists and writers have led the exploration of identity, consciousness and memory for centuries. Yet even as scientists sent men to the moon and spacecraft to Saturn and submarines to the ocean floor, the instrument responsible for such feats, the human mind, remained almost entirely dark, a vast and mostly uncharted universe as mysterious as the New World was to explorers of the past.

Now neuroscience, a field that barely existed a generation ago, is racing ahead, attracting billions of dollars in new financing and throngs of researchers. The National Institutes of Health last year spent $5.2 billion, nearly 20 percent of its total budget, on brain-related projects, according to the Society for Neuroscience.

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MILITARY: Attorney wants charges dropped against third Fallujah defendant

The attorney for the third and final Marine charged with killing an unarmed insurgent in Iraq says prosecutors should heed the acquittals of two co-defendants and drop the case against his client.

Attorney Joseph Low said Friday that it makes no sense for the Marine Corps to pursue the case against Sgt. Jermaine Nelson.

"I am submitting that request to the Marine Corps," Low said. "The Marine Corps should have gotten the message loud and clear now that these cases should never have been brought."

Nelson is charged with murder and dereliction of duty for allegedly killing one of four unarmed prisoners that he and members of his Camp Pendleton squad captured during a battle for the city of Fallujah in November 2004. He has pleaded not guilty.

On Thursday, Sgt. Ryan Weemer was acquitted by a jury of eight Marine officers on identical charges.

In August, Weemer and Nelson's squad leader at Fallujah, former Marine Sgt. Jose L. Nazario Jr., was acquitted on two counts of manslaughter by a civilian jury that heard his case in U.S. District Court in Riverside. Nazario was tried as a civilian because he had left the Marine Corps and was not subject to recall into the service.

Low said that Nelson, 26, was elated with Weemer's acquittal following a six-day trial.

"He was very excited for him," Low said. "He loves Ryan and he's just very, very happy for him."

Nelson remains on duty at Camp Pendleton pending resolution of his case. His trial date has not been set, but is expected to take place soon if the Marine Corps rejects Low's plea to drop the case.

A Marine Corps spokesman, Lt. Col. David Griesmer, said Friday that there is no change in the status of Nelson's case.

Nelson was on his second combat tour in Iraq when the Fallujah killings occurred.

Weemer first disclosed the incident during a job interview, telling an investigator about the capture of four suspected insurgents and revealing that they were ultimately shot even though none was armed.

His defense was that the man he was guarding lunged for his gun, prompting him to shoot in self-defense.

Jurors who decided Nazario's case said that they did not believe it was their place to second-guess actions that took place in battle.

Prosecutors had no autopsy reports, no bodies, no names to attach to the victims and no witnesses. Their case was built entirely on statements from the three defendants.

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'The wealth of nations has lost that connection with the body's sweat and the Earth's abundance'

From Let's talk about work by Peter Conrad :

In earlier times, our culture treated work as a curse or at least a lowly, shaming necessity like defecation. Adam and Eve spent the time in Eden cultivating their garden and were only condemned to earn a living after their expulsion from the good, happy, idle place. Christianity made work a consequence of the fall and for that reason afflicted women with what are penitentially known as labour pains. The Greeks took an even more disdainful view of work, which for them was beneath the dignity of a true human being.

The 12 labours of Hercules, which include cleaning mucky stables, a job fit for desperate members of the underclass, were tasks imposed by the gods to demean the uppity hero. This lofty classical attitude took for granted the existence of slaves, who were the equivalent of our labour-saving gadgets - not people but appliances to be worked to death and then thrown away.

The world we recognise as modern began by revoking the curse on work. As Alain de Botton argues in his new book The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, ours is the first society to believe that work should make us happy, "even in the absence of a financial imperative". The change dates from the Reformation. Calvin sanctified capitalism by suggesting that salvation owed more to good works than to blind, trusting faith.

One of the puritans mocked by Ben Jonson in his play Bartholomew Fair is called Zeal-of-the-Land Busy: zealotry and business, as Jonson recognised, had made a shrewd and lucrative merger. In 18th-century France, the compilers of the Encyclopédie laughed at the lassitude of the governing elite and treated artisans with unprecedented respect. Diderot, one of the encyclopaedists, was fascinated by specialised trades like glassblowing, masonry and silver-plating, which showed that menial men possessed rare, almost magical skills.

The philosopher Locke challenged hereditary privilege when he declared that all property derived from "the labour of our body and the work of our hands". We use those two terms interchangeably, but for Locke they were not synonyms: labour remained carnal, still as much of an agonising chore as a woman's birth pangs, whereas work was performed by our nimble, ingenious fingers (which are also working when they are holding a pen or tapping a keyboard). In 1776, economist Adam Smith made such handiwork the foundation of what he called "the wealth of nations".

Industrial society, geared for productivity, transformed work into a religion. For Marx, what distinguished men from animals was not reason - the prerogative supposedly awarded to us by God - but labour. His theory did less than justice to the totalitarian toil of the beehive, to beavers building dams or to birds fabricating nests from twigs and bits of scavenged rubbish. Perhaps he should have said labour defined us as animals, creatures compelled to grub a livelihood from the soil rather than relying on divine benefactions.

In working, we metabolise nature, as if we were absorbing raw materials in order to regurgitate wealth: a lump of rock dug from the ground is cut, polished and transformed into a diamond. The biblical God claimed to have created the Earth. For the steam-powered, electrified 19th century, our world was actually made by men, who added value to crude, inert, boggy nature by harnessing the elements.

The age of work began in the mid-19th century and lasted about 150 years; as those who have recently lost their jobs will have noticed, it is already over. In its triumphant heyday, it preached an ennobling gospel. In Work (1852-63), the Pre-Raphaelite Ford Madox Brown painted a gang of navvies gutting Heath Street in Hampstead, north London, to lay a drain. No, these are not the kind of labourers you see digging up the street today, with radios louder than their jackhammers and anal clefts on view as they bend over their tools. Posing with their spades or swigging from their water bottles, Brown's navvies might be idealised Greek statues who have stepped down from a temple frieze. They are embodiments of muscular force and determination, admired from the sidelines by philosopher Thomas Carlyle and Rev FD Maurice, who recognised the aspirations of such men by setting up the first colleges for workers.

Real estate broker was father of black reparations movement

Ray Jenkins, a longtime Detroit resident, will be remembered for his work advocating slavery reparations for African-Americans from the federal government, his family said.

Mr. Jenkins believed reparations were the debt the country owed blacks for the enslavement of their ancestors.

During the late 1950s, Mr. Jenkins began speaking publicly about his cause of getting reparations for African-Americans. At the time, it was a very unpopular notion.

[ ... ]

Mr. Jenkins, known as "Reparations Ray," or the father of the reparations movement in the city's black community, died Friday, April 10, 2009 of complications of a blood infection in Providence Hospital in Southfield. He was 88.

[ ... ]

Ricardo Jenkins said his father never thought reparations should be a blank check to African-Americans.

He said his father wanted the U.S. government to repay blacks for slavery through educational trusts and home ownership programs.

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Going nowhere fast

John Gray's assault on Enlightenment ideals of progress is timelier than ever, says John Banville

From The Guardian :

John Gray is far too forbearing to tell us that he told us so, but he did. The title of one of his key works indicates his foresight: False Dawn: Delusions of Global Capitalism. What is significant is that this closely reasoned polemic came not from the pen of some hot-eyed zealot of the left or a green-fingered son of Gaia, but from a liberal conservative thinker of a quietist cast of mind, an admirer, albeit in a qualified way, of Margaret Thatcher, a shrewd commentator on the likes of Friedrich Hayek and George Soros, and a dedicated foe of Enlightenment values. He is surely the most incisive political philosopher that we have, and one whose time has, sad to say, definitely come.

Sad, because no one wants to be around when Cassandra's prophecies come true, not even Cassandra herself. Gray excoriates the follies of our globalised world more in sorrow than in anger. He has no grand solutions to offer for the troubles of our apocalyptic age, and urges a programme that is radical only in its mutedness: "Other animals do not need a purpose in life ... the human animal cannot do without one. Can we not think of the aim of life as being simply to see?"

[ ... ]

One of Gray's abiding themes is that spilt religion inevitably leads to spilt blood - "modern revolutionary movements are a continuation of religion by other means" - and he sees a more or less hidden religious impulse in all the great secular movements of the modern age, beginning with the Enlightenment. One of the most characteristic and representative essays gathered here, "The Original Modernizers" - a masterpiece of conciseness, wit, insight and lightly worn learning - traces the unbroken seam of positivism that runs from Saint-Simon and August Comte to the present-day architects of the global free market. He writes: "Without realising it - for few of them know anything of the history of thought, least of all in their own subject - the majority of economists have inherited their way of thinking from the positivists." Although Saint-Simon and Comte "envisaged a unified science in which all of human knowledge would be reduced to a single set of laws", the positivists did not aim merely to revolutionise society. "Their aim was to found a new religion. Saint-Simon believed the 'positive doctrine' would become the basis for a new 'church' when all scientists united to form a permanent 'clergy'. He envisaged an assembly of 'the twenty-one elect of humanity' to be called the Council of Newton ... In Saint-Simon's new religion, however, it was not gravity that replaced the Deity. That place was filled by humanity."

Gray has been having fun for years with that poor old crazy coot Comte - one of whose initiatives for a new world order of brotherly love was a waistcoat with the buttons down the back so that it could be put on and taken off only with the help of others - yet he points out too that, for instance, the authors of The Communist Manifesto, the proponents of "modernisation" after the second world war and the theorists of globalisation were alike animated by the positivist creed. With rueful mockery, he notes that "For Saint-Simon and Comte, technology meant railways and canals. For Lenin it meant electricity. For neoliberals it means the internet." The conviction that our own time is at last "modern" and that we are the "last men" is, for Gray, one of the most lamentable of the many delusions that humankind allows itself. We imagine ourselves original yet are mired in the past. He quotes Keynes's apposite insight: "Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling the frenzy of some academic scribbler of a few years back."

~ more... ~

Freedom of expression still taking a beating

It seems things have changed little since Jules-Joseph Lefebvre's Chloe first scandalized Melbourne's prudes.

From Children banned from explicit gallery display

Children aged 12 and under, who are not accompanied by an adult, will not be allowed to see a controversial new art display.

The shOUT exhibition at Glasgow's Gallery of Modern Art, explores the sexuality and lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

An explicit photograph by artist Robert Mapplethorpe is featured as well as art from the likes of Grayson Perry, David Hockney, Holly Johnson and Scottish artist Chad McCail.

Secondary school pupils were originally to be invited to view the art, but after details of the exhibition were revealed last week, James Coleman, deputy leader of Glasgow City Council, said the council would not "facilitate" any school visits.

From Bowling Green bans art depicting oral sex

On March 17, David Sapp, an art professor at BGSU Firelands and director of the Little Gallery, was asked by Firelands Interim Dean James Smith to take down the sculpture because there were complaints that Smith worried would result in “problems with the press” or “legal” issues of the sculpture being labeled as “child pornography,” according to a memorandum Sapp sent to all faculty and staff at BGSU Firelands.

After Sapp refused to remove the sculpture, BGSU Interim Provost Mark Gromko directed Smith to remove the artwork.

According to Sapp, the sculpture was “near the window of the gallery, but could not be seen unless you walked into the gallery.” However, BGSU administrators were concerned that children attending the McBride Auditorium, located adjacent to the gallery, “may have been directly affected by the specific criminal act depicted.”

“As an institution of higher education, Bowling Green State University strongly supports the right of free speech and artistic expression. However, we also have a responsibility and obligation to not expose the children and families we invite to our campus to inappropriate material,” the news release said.

From These Books Too Gay for Amazon

As if it wasn't hellacious enough working customer support for on Easter, the online book store's reps must now explain why gay romances (and other books) are too "adult" to rank.

Straight romance like Jackie Collins and straight porn like this book of Playboy centerfolds is still ranked on Amazon.
But not the homosexul stuff: Gay romance publisher Mark Probst noticed hundreds of such books lost their rankings over the past two days, including Transgressions, about a 17th century liaison between a cavalry trooper and a farmer's son, and False Colors, about a 19th century naval lieutenant attracted to his commanding officer.

Probst wrote to Amazon through his publisher's account, and was told

In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude "adult" material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature.
There is now an full-fledged Twitter shitstorm, naturally, and a new, snarky definition for the term "Amazon Rank," spreading virally. It's hard to imagine the Seattle-based retailer sticking by this controversial policy after naming a gay Brit's novel their "Book of the Year."

On the other hand, Amazon must be happy, on some level, to have finally expanded its customer base beyond the sophisticated techno elites, straight through into the American cultural backwaters where this sort of material is remotely offensive, somehow.

From Banned art gets a second chance

Art censorship is alive and well in Manukau City. A recently completed mural by Andy Leleisi'uao one of the country's leading Pacific artists has been rejected by the local community.

He had undertaken the Mangere East Community Centre mural project with funding made available from the ASB Community Trust and the Manukau City Creative Community Scheme earlier this year.

The 25 metre mural was to replace one which he had painted 14 years ago but which had deteriorated because the original materials were not suitable and had not be protected against graffiti.

After discussions with the centre he produced the 25 metre painted mural on Marine ply for the site.

At the point where the work was almost completed the artist was advised that the community did not appreciate or understand the work and he was requested to produce a more acceptable work

A delegation of members of the community was invited to view the work which was set out in the centre and to pass comment on it. A majority voted to oppose its installation.

The artist is now required to repaint the old mural, his payments are withheld and he awaits the return of the rejected mural.

'Superman' artist Joe Shuster's lurid comic world exposed

Within are naked women with whips, brutish men brandishing red-hot pokers, exotic torture and politically incorrect spankings. What makes the illustrations more than simply a curiosity of the times is the disturbing fact that many of the characters look exactly like Shuster's Superman and Lois Lane.

"Yes, they look like Lois and Clark," Yoe says. "Joe obviously had some very dark fantasies. There's a panel in an early Superman comic book where he has Lois over his knee and is spanking her. But certainly nothing of this depth or extremeness."

Artist Shuster and writer Jerry Siegel created Superman in 1938 but didn't benefit when the character exploded in popularity in the 1940s. By the 1950s, Shuster was barely working. He died in 1992.

It is not unusual for comic-book artists to handle sexier fare; MAD magazine's Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder produced Little Annie Fanny in Playboy for 26 years.

But Stan Lee of Marvel Comics writes in an introduction that the Shuster work is "startling" in that it caters to "the basest of man's character. … It clearly indicates how desperate Joe must have been."

~ more... ~

Judith Krug, founder of Banned Book Week, dies at 69

From WGRZ :

EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) -- Judith Krug, a director of the Chicago-based American Library Association and a founder of its Banned Books Week, has died. She was 69.

Judith Platt, president of the ALA's Freedom to Read Foundation, says Krug (KROOG) died late Saturday at Evanston Hospital in suburban Chicago following a battle with stomach cancer. She says Krug had been ill for more than a year.

She had been head of the ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom since 1967.

Banned Books Weeks has been observed since 1982 during the last week of September. ALA officials say the event celebrates intellectual freedom.

Associated Press

It is feared bird flu could become more frightening

There is a need to raise awareness of bird flu because of a real threat: It could turn into something much more frightening than the H5N1 virus.

The frightening thing would be if the virus caused a pandemic if  and when it became able to spread among humans, Coordinator of Surveillance and Monitoring at the National Commission on Bird Flu Control and Awareness on Influenza Pandemic (Komnas FBPI) Heru Setijanto said Friday.

Setijanto said Indonesia was currently ranked highest in the world in the number of deaths from bird flu, and was unprepared as to how to deal with a pandemic.  

“The incubation period of the virus is very fast and deadly when contracted by humans. We are
not ready to face a pandemic if the situation arises,” Setijanto told The Jakarta Post on the sidelines of a national seminar on a Bird Flu Pandemic Response Simulation in Toraja, South Sulawesi.  

He said Indonesia was ill-equipped to face the bird flu pandemic because training was only provided so far to personnel at government ministries and agencies.

“When it turns into a pandemic, it becomes a multi-sector problem and would involve every sector. We are unprepared as of now, especially for other sectors to [cope with] the epidemic,” he said.

According to Setijanto, the bird flu virus will always mutate and this is a cause for grave concern.
When contracted by humans, the incubation period of the H5N1 virus could cause death rapidly, in as little as  five days.

~ more... ~

India's 'love guru' seeks to woo voters' hearts

by Elizabeth Roche

NEW DELHI (AFP) – A professor dubbed "the love guru" is contesting India's elections on an unusual platform -- more freedom for lovers and standing up to vigilante groups who frown on public displays of affection.

Matuk Nath Choudhary, who is standing in the Bihar state capital of Patna, is promising that, if he wins, lovers of all ages will be encouraged to give free rein to their emotions wherever and whenever they please.

The softly-spoken Hindi professor, who gained notoriety thanks to a very public extramarital affair with a student three years ago, is running as an independent against many well-established political names.

But the man who made headlines for defying social norms in strictly conservative India to stay with his lover, despite his wife's humiliating the duo in front of TV cameras, appears undaunted by the challenge.

"I am in this on my own steam. Unlike my opponents who have the backing of political parties and huge amounts of money, I have limited resources," he told AFP by phone from Patna.

"But my message -- on love, education, improving society -- makes sense, which is why people are listening to me. Everyone is scared of talking about love and sex. I do this openly and that is why I appeal to the youth."

~ more... ~

An end to restitution of Nazi looted art?

Ulrike Knöfel reports for Spiegel Online :

For years, it has been widely accepted that artworks looted by the Nazis should be returned to their rightful owners. But now a prominent British expert has called for a stop to restitution -- and triggered protests in the art world.

The art connoisseur Sir Norman Rosenthal may be a British institution, but the equanimity often attributed to his compatriots is not one of his distinguishing features.

Rosenthal, 64, was the leading curator at London's Royal Academy for more than 30 years. Considered the public face of the institution, he was knighted for his achievements. His vibrant passion for art is legendary. He helped make British artist Damien Hirst and his peers famous when he staged the exhibition "Sensation" at the Royal Academy. Last year, he left the museum where he had caused many a stir -- and shocked the British and others yet again.

Rosenthal, the son of Jewish refugees from Germany and Slovakia, called for an end to the restitution of so-called Nazi looted art in an article in the journal The Art Newspaper.

The fact that someone who lost members of his own family in the Holocaust is now opposing restitution and is calling for an end to the practice has injected a provocatively dissonant note into an already angry debate -- and has triggered fierce protest. At issue is nothing less than the permanent whereabouts of some of the icons of art history.

Restitution is a term that has been constantly bandied about in the art world for at least the last 10 years. It's a question of morality and the righting of indisputable wrongs. But it has also become -- at least in Rosenthal's opinion -- a question of big business.

It is clear that new restitutions will introduce even more turmoil into the museum world and shrink the inventories of notable collections. The controversy involves important artists such as Rembrandt, the German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich, the Austrian Expressionist Egon Schiele and even Pablo Picasso. Two of the Spanish painter's works with somewhat murky histories are in New York, one at the Guggenheim Museum and the other at the Museum of Modern Art. The heirs of the banker Paul von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy recently reached an out-of-court settlement with the two museums.

The E.G. Bührle Collection in Zurich still owns "La Sultane," a painting by Edouard Manet that is controversial because of its history as looted art. Max Silberberg, an industrialist from Breslau (now the Polish city of Wroclaw), was forced to sell the painting in 1937. Silberberg and his wife were deported to Auschwitz five years later.

The principle of restitution seemed undisputed until recently. Who would challenge the legitimacy of the claims of the heirs of Nazi victims to their family property? In those cases in which museums have balked at returning looted art, they have argued that they acquired the works in question legally and in good faith. But does this argument truly release them from the obligation to give back the art?

~ more... ~

Meanwhile: 'Bentley Motors opens new showroom in Greece'

 9 Apr 2009

By Staff Writer

UK-based luxury car manufacturer Bentley Motors has opened a new showroom in the northern suburbs of Athens, Greece.

According to the company, the new showroom offers customers a fresh view of the entire Bentley range, including selected pre-owned models.

The new and spacious showroom, situated in the northern suburbs of Athens offers customers a view of the entire Bentley range, including selected pre-owned models.

Michael Mayer, regional director of Bentley Motors for Europe and UK, said: "The new Bentley Athens dealership will no doubt, prove to be a stepping stone in boosting sales and reinforcing Bentley Motors's presence in Greece."

~ Automotive Business Review ~

EU - Production drops

 * German, Italian output down by over a fifth on the year
* Netherlands, Finland, Greece also see production fall
* ECB's Trichet takes aim at governments

By Paul Carrel

BERLIN, April 9 (Reuters) - Germany and Italy suffered record falls in industrial output in February, leading a slump across the euro zone where manufacturers are bearing the brunt of a sharp downturn in global trade.
From Greece to Finland, production fell in countries across the 16-member euro area and showed little sign of picking up any time soon, dealing a blow to recovery hopes.
In Germany, Europe's biggest economy, industrial production fell by 23.2 percent on the year -- the biggest annual drop since reunification in 1990, official figures showed on Thursday.
Italy's output fell by 20.7 percent -- its steepest drop since the series began in 1990.
Colin Ellis, European economist at Daiwa Securities in London, described the German and Italian figures as "dreadful".
"Faced with that pace of destruction, the authorities need to do more to stimulate demand and provide some relief to those businesses that are the backbone of the German and Italian economies," he wrote in a research note.
European Central Bank (ECB) President Jean-Claude Trichet bolstered analysts' expectations that the ECB will cut its headline interest rate from the current record low of 1.25 percent to 1 percent in May and then stay on hold at that level.

~ more... ~

The secret, ignored value of labor

Posted by Gary Sudborough on Portland IMC :

For centuries the means of production have been owned by only a few individuals. This has led to spectacular robberies like are apparent at the present time, but also to a quiet, ignored theft of the real value of labor.

To give a logical answer as to why laboring people are not paid nearly the real value of their labor, I need to go back in history and give a basic scientific explanation of the situation. As most people know the energy that powers life on Earth comes from the sun, and is trapped by photosynthesis in plants, and animals by consuming plants or other animals obtain this energy. This energy enables animals to move, and in certain animals like human beings to do what is known as work.

Why is this labor necessary? Because human beings are born into this world naked and frail and with a multitude of wants and needs necessary for their survival. Other mammals have fur to protect from the environment, many are much stronger or swifter or like humans band together for their survival. Human beings must have food for energy, shelter to protect from the environment, clothing for the cold and because they are intelligent, entertainment and culture and because they are curious animals, scientific needs to try and understand the universe and why they exist

In order to meet the basic needs, humans cannot just lay back and bask in the sun and expend a minimal of energy. They must either grow crops, gather fruits and vegetables from the environment or do hunting and fishing. They must learn how and expend energy in making clothes and building shelters. This is the first primitive form of work. Initially, they all labored together and shared the results of their labor in common. This was what Marx called primitive communism.

Gradually, with the development of agriculture and more productive methods of increasing yields like irrigation and the saving of seeds of the better plants, a surplus of food was produced and not every human needed to labor. Then, came the con artists and the people who could make people believe their right to rule and not work was derived from God or those who were powerful enough physically and had better weapons and could rule those that did work to provide human needs. It is well known that kings in medieval Europe believed that they ruled by divine right. The nobles thought that they were almost a separate species of animal (blue bloods and gentlemen) and had the right to rule over the rabble-the lower classes of working people. Because of this utter disdain for the serfs the nobles could treat them abominably, rape their daughters, run over them in their horse-driven vehicles of various descriptions, tax them heavily and take away most of the crops they produced. The nobles lived luxurious lives on the best food, went to balls and danced, gambled and engaged in every sort of sensual pleasure while the producers of their wealth had to watch their children starve to death or die of disease. This is the beginning of the robbery of labor, although it goes much further back to slavery in the Greek and Roman empires.

As an illustration of the value of labor, let us suppose a medieval craftsman spent much more time and effort on a chair or cabinet and used more intricate designs. This chair or cabinet would necessarily have much more value than one where less effort was used.

Now, however Man's inventive mind was able to create the designs for mass production machinery. The inventors, however, except in very rare cases, were not the owners of this new mass production machinery. The owners were the ones who had by that time robbed the continents of Africa, Asia and South America of much of their wealth in gold, silver and other precious commodities, and also for centuries had been robbing the serfs of Europe of the value of their labor.

These rich capitalists needed to pay their workers only the survival value of their labor- that is the amount of money which would enable the workers to show up for work the next day. Let us assume that the amount of labor necessary for minimal shelter and food was two hours of work. Then, all the rest of the hours of the day's labor of workers was pure profit for the capitalists. Therefore, they worked people twelve and sometimes sixteen hours a day as this was surplus value as Marx called it. The only limit was that laborers needed sleep not to break down and machinery didn't. Consequently, they often hired two shifts a day to make even more profit. They often hired children because they had nimble fingers and could do delicate work faster. Also, because women and children caused less labor problems than men. In China the capitalists could work people to death in toxic environments because they had such a surplus of labor. I remember British health inspector's documenting conditions for little Chinese children in match factories, where they got phophorus burns all over their bodies. Upon death they were simply thrown on the trash heap for the dogs to eat.

As one can easily observe, workers are continually being robbed of the value of their labor, not just by people like Bernie Madoff or corporations like Enron or banks or mortgage companies, but everyday they go to work, as they are not being compensated adequately.

Labor unions have attempted to compensate for this imbalance to some extent, but workers really need to own and operate these factories themselves as they are essentially owned by thieves extending far back into history.

There is a whole mythology of sophisticated economic arguments built up to contradict Marx, but it is just so much obfuscation, done by well-paid sycophants of the owners of society. Some point to sports stars or Hollywood actors or gambing and bribery as departures from Marx's theory of value. This is just the idle rich playing with their fortunes. If all the common workers would lay down their tools and shut off their machines, the economy would halt, showing whose labor is really valuable.

Authors like Dickens, Hugo, Upton Sinclair, Emile Zola and others all pointed to the miserable and degrading treatment of the poor. To quote Charles Dickens: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of reason, it was the age of foolishness, it was an epoch of faith, it was an epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair." How little things have changed. For thousands of years it has been the winter of despair for poor, working people. Enough! There is no natural law that precludes humanity from perishing from the Earth like the dinosaurs.

"Occupy everything right now"

Richard Kim reports for The Nation :

So said one of the signs at the student occupation of the New School's building at 65 Fifth Avenue, which was met with a phalanx of NYC cops, pepper spray and mass arrests at the request of New School prez Bob Kerrey's administration. On the surface, the students seem a scruffy, wild-eyed lot--tats and unruly beards, raised fists and bold slogans. It's easy for the press to dismiss them as merely "angry" and impetuous. Indeed, comments on the NYT city blog positively seethe with contempt.

"These immature adults are nothing more than terrorists..I would Taser them," writes one poster. "I hope the New School will treat these self-absorbed brats the same way NYU did...paying tuition does NOT mean you get a voice in how the university is run," says another. "A protest that appears to lack direction and realistic demands," quibbles a third.

The harshest of these comments come from the right, but there's an echo of such animosity from the world-weary left as well--a tendency to roll eyes and scoff at the students' naivete. Earlier this year, when NYU students occupied the student center, some left-leaning faculty privately complained that they couldn't totally support the students because of their naive strategy and incoherent, sprawling demands. (One of the students' demands, for example, was to set aside a number of scholarships for students from the Occupied Territories.) Many faculty eventually signed a letter protesting the NYU administration's treatment of the demonstrators, but few prominent figures or outside movements came to the student's defense, and the whole incident fizzled in public consciousness as just another rash, incidental campus uprising.

And then there's the state of general malaise that seems to preoccupy the left now. If there's so much roiling populist anger, where are the mass street protests in the US that would rival those in Greece, Latvia and France (see Sudhir Venkatesh's op-ed and Stephen Greenhouse's analysis of American labor's relative docility)? If only 53 percent of Americans believe capitalism is better than socialism, as a recent Rasmussen poll reports, why aren't the people storming the palace?

There's some sort of strategic disconnect going on here between the lack of widespread support for the protests and radical tactics that actually exist and the hyperventilating about the left's (or populism's) allegedly moribund spirit. If mass mobilization is what you really want, you have to start somewhere, and the students, however goofy or shambolic, are one of the few organized forces willing to risk something.

And for the record, at the crux of both occupations lies a demand for greater accountability and transparency, for socially responsible investing, for greater democracy and more reasonable tuition rates. Writ large, these are values that go to the heart of the current economic crisis--the division of society into the haves and have nots and the impunity with which the elite (including the academic elite) run their institutions. If the student protests spread, there's no telling what other righteous fires they might start. The left, for example, might do well to look at the French protests of 2006, which began with students at a handful of campuses but eventually spread to 68 of 89 universities, incorporated trade unions, brought millions to the street, France to a standstill and eventually derailed a bill that would have made it easier to fire young workers.

We can wait for the perfect moment, or for the perfect, tidy platform, or for the perfect campaign that can't fail. And then, we will wait forever. In a time of such great suffering for so many, Occupy Everything Right Now seems just as good a banner around which to rally as any.

From Riot police drag protesting students out of 'occupied' New School in handcuffs

Riot police were caught on videotape Friday manhandling New School student protesters who seized a building to demand the resignation of university president Bob Kerrey.

An NYPD cop is shown on an amateur video tackling a protester on 14th St. as police retook a student center from the protesters. Another demonstrator is shown being slammed to the sidewalk on the video.

"This is wrong and we need to change the way this university is run," said graduate student Scott Ritner, 26.

Shministim - Send letter

Support Israel's young conscientious objectors. WWW.December18th.ORG Shministim say why they refuse to serve in an army that occupies the Palestinians.


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