Wednesday, December 29, 2004

RealClimate: Blogging by climate scientists

If you're interested in reading what climate scientists have to say about global warming and other climate related topics you'll want to check out RealClimate:

RealClimate is a commentary site on climate science by working climate scientists for the interested public and journalists. We aim to provide a quick response to developing stories and provide the context sometimes missing in mainstream commentary. The discussion here is restricted to scientific topics and will not get involved in any political or economic implications of the science.

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Is This What Democracy Looks Like?

The folks that comprise the Why War? Wobbly Squirrel Collective have written a great article which asks: Is This What Democracy Looks Like? They get off to a great start with this quote from Noam Chomsky:
One conception of democracy has it that a democratic society is one in which the public has the means to participate in some meaningful way in the management of their own affairs and the means of information are open and free. […] An alternative conception of democracy is that the public must be barred from managing their own affairs and the means of information must be kept narrowly and rigidly controlled. That may sound like an odd conception of democracy, but it’s important to understand that it is the prevailing conception.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2004


More important than any other resource is the raw awareness that you have the power to change the world— this is the hardest one to develop and share, and the most essential. It doesn’t help to give your endorsement to political representatives, social programs, or radical ideologies when the fundamental problem is that you don’t know your own strength.

Self-determination begins and ends with your initiatives and actions, whether you live under a totalitarian regime or the canopy of a rain forest. It must be established on a daily basis, by acting back on the world that acts upon you—whether that means calling in sick to work on a sunny day, starting a neighborhood garden with your friends, or toppling a government. You cannot make a revolution that distributes power equally except by learning firsthand how to exercise and share power—and that exercising and sharing, on any scale, is itself the ongoing, never-concluded project of revolution.
-- Crimethinc

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Monday, December 27, 2004

Will Kerry Unconcede?

More news regarding the democratic facade in America, some suggest that the ground has been prepared for Kerry to unconcede the election:
If you haven't been following John Kerry closely, get ready to hear of surprising developments. The vote-defrauded, potential president-in-waiting has just indicated through his lawyer that the validity of George Bush's reelection is no longer a given.

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Grass now established in warmer Antarctic

According to The Australian scientists with the British Antarctic Survey are now reporting that the Antarctic has warmed enough for the establishment of year round grass:
Grass has become established in Antarctica, showing the continent is warming to temperatures unseen for 10,000 years.

Scientists have reported that broad areas of grass are now forming turf where there were once ice-sheets and glaciers.

Tufts have previously grown on patches of Antarctica in summer, but the scientists have now observed larger areas surviving winter and spreading in the summer months.

Some fear the change portends a much wider melting of the ice-cap that formed at least 20 million years ago.

'Grass has taken a grip. There are very rapid changes going on in the Antarctic's climate, allowing grass to colonise areas that would once have been far too cold,' said Pete Convey, an ecologist conducting research with the British Antarctic Survey.

Mr Convey said that many species of wildlife were at serious risk from such rapid change, including emperor and other species of penguin, seals, cold-water fish and giant sea spiders.

Via Infoshop News - Thaw sees grass take hold in Antarctica.

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How to learn the truth about Iraq

To sum it up: watch and listen to the media outside of the U.S. The LA Weekly reports on 4 Ways to Find Out What's Really Happening in Iraq:

If you want to know why public opinion in Western Europe has been so overwhelmingly against the U.S. war in and occupation of Iraq, there’s one obvious answer: the difference in television news between theirs and ours. You can easily determine this for yourself: Spend a week watching the news broadcasts and TV magazines of the BBC, France2 and Deutsche Welle, all available on many U.S. cable systems. The footage of dead Iraqi babies and children — victims of U.S. attacks on "terrorists" — that you will regularly see on European public television is rarely aired on U.S. networks. The regular interviews in Iraqi hospitals with doctors recounting the slaughter of the innocents that show up on European news broadcasts aren’t often seen on the all-news cable networks here, let alone on the Big Three broadcast nets’ newscasts. Iraqis, of course, know this daily reality all too well — which explains their overwhelming hostility to the U.S. occupation.


The degree to which coverage of Iraq reflects the structural corruption of U.S. major media is even more damningly portrayed in Weapons of Mass Deception, the superb new film by Danny Schechter. Schechter, a TV veteran of three decades, is an Emmy-winning former investigative producer for ABC and CNN (he calls himself a "network refugee"), and the founder of the independent TV production company Globalvision and also of, the Web site where his sharp-eyed, acid-tongued media criticism punches gaping holes in official newsdom’s coverage of Iraq. In this film — which is much more meticulously documented and more accurate than Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, and therefore infinitely more devastating — Schechter shows with precision how U.S. mass media have been recruited as part and parcel of the Pentagon’s war-propaganda machine.

They also recommend Undernews, Truthout, and Informed Comment. I would add Dahr Jamail and Democracy Now! to that list.

In additon to the above story I'd suggest Mike Whitney's article over at Counterpunch, Rummy's Quagmire of Lies in which he discusses the U.S. military's use of information and mis-information as a weapon. I agree with his suggestion that lying by the military is now "a matter of policy." Unfortunately the corporate media regurgitates the lies with no critique or independent verification, proof, or corroboration.

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Bush ordered torture in Iraq

The Irregular Times has a good summation of the recently released FOIA documents which implicate Bush in the torture of Iraqi prisoners:

Documents obtained this week as the result of a Freedom of Information Act request indicate that President George W. Bush himself issued an Executive Order directing American forces in Iraq to torture prisoners during interrogations.

In these documents, an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) reports that an Executive Order coming directly from George W. Bush provided authorization for American guards and interrogators in Iraqi prisons to use methods of torture including attack dogs, sensory and sleep deprivation, and application of pain through the prolonged binding of prisoners in stress positions. The documents even suggest that the hoods worn by tortured prisoners seen in the photographs from Abu Ghraib were Bush’s idea.
With every piece of evidence that emerges from the secret files of the Bush Administration, it becomes more and more clear that the tortures at Abu Ghraib prison and other locations in Iraq were the direct result of orders given by President Bush himself. Recent reports also indicate that the White House was aware of allegations of torture made by the Red Cross, but did nothing to stop the torture, and kept the information secret from the American public.

President Bush’s direct supervision of the torture of prisoners is not just unsavory. It is illegal. Torture is not only unconstitutional. Torture is also specifically prohibited by federal law. These are impeachable offenses.

It is already clear that torture by agents of the American government has not been taking place in mere “isolated incidents". The use of torture by government agents under the authority of the Bush White House has now been shown to be premeditated and worldwide. In many cases, the torture has been so severe that prisoners have died during interrogations, their internal organs ruptured, their throats crushed.

Welcome to the New America.

Source Documents at ACLU

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Thursday, December 23, 2004

Ohio and the crumbling facade of democracy

Funny thing about the Ohio recount: John Kerry doesn't care. Now, anyone that reads this blog already knows how I feel about American "democracy" and electoral politics. It's a lie, a facade designed to hide the truth. What's interesting in the case of the 2004 elections is not the fact that the election was stolen nor is it the fact that the corporate media is not talking about the obvious evidence that has emerged to those on the ground in Ohio. I fully expect that to happen. No, what is interesting is that John Kerry and the Democratic Party quit the fight so quickly. I have come to expect that the establishment, Republican and Democrat, do care about appearances. They have an interest in maintaining what has become a one party system and so to an extent they have an interest in the illusion of choice. I would have expected John Kerry to put up just a little more of a fight but the danger there is that too much fight might draw too much attention to the little game going on.

The facade is crumbling and the irony is that those that care most about democracy are fighting for the integrity of the lie. It's a strange situation. I think about those fighting the fight in Ohio and I wonder, do they really want John Kerry to be president? While they struggle for a recount, he apparently has given up the fight and is hoarding the remaining millions of dollars given to elect him. I've felt from the beginning that he's a scumbag and the truth is I think that anyone who's put up for the presidency from the Republicrat establishment is just going to be a representative of that establishment and not of the people. What we can see here is that it is that there is the distinction between the professional party bureaucrats that make up the machine and those on the ground that supposedly represented.

My suggestion: let the facade crumble. Let us look directly upon the truth of governance by the wealthy few. Those that are organizing for the recount, stop. Now is the time to build the movement that will destroy the lies of false democracy and challenge not just the one party system, but the system as a whole. Frankly, I don't care if you're Christian, Muslim, Athiest, Jewish, Buddhist, Agnostic, Hindu; I don't care if you are black, white, red, yellow, green, blue, or martian; I don't care if you have a penis or a vagina and I don't care what you like to suck or fuck.

I propose that we live on one planet and that it should not be a planet of me against you.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Blogs: do we learn from disagreement?

As I've been browsing through Blog Explosion sites over the past 2 weeks I've noticed that there are, as we'd expect, many conflicting opinions regarding U.S. politics as well as U.S. foreign policy. There's nothing wrong with this conflict, but it has me wondering about the role of the internet, and blogs in particular, in the mediation of political discussion. My initial thinking is that blogs offer citizens the opportunity to engage one another and that this could be most useful when those involved in the discussion have differing viewpoints. I have doubts though. Much of what I see can be best characterized as shallow and angry reaction. Should we not be making more of an effort to work through our differences? I suppose this is really just a question about the goals of communication. I'd guess that our behavior here is reflective of our "real life" communications.

Why do we blog? Why do we read the blogs of others? Is it that we are brilliant and must share our genius? Or is it based on a desire to learn from others? What do we really learn when we read the words of those we disagree with? Just a few of many possible questions.

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Getting to know Direct Action

Interested in fighting back? Check out Crimethinc's Twelve Myths About Direct Action

Direct action—that is, any kind of action that bypasses established political channels to accomplish objectives directly—has a long and rich heritage in North America, extending back to the Boston Tea Party and beyond. Despite this, there are many misunderstandings about it, in part due to the ways it has been misrepresented in the corporate media.

1. Direct action is terrorism.
Terrorism is calculated to intimidate and thus paralyze people. Direct action, on the other hand, is intended to inspire and thus motivate people by demonstrating the power individuals have to accomplish goals themselves. While terrorism is the domain of a specialized class that seeks to acquire power for itself alone, direct action demonstrates possibilities that others can make use of, empowering people to take control of their own lives. At most, a given direct action may obstruct the activities of a corporation or institution that activists perceive to be committing an injustice, but this is simply a form of civil disobedience, not terrorism.

2. Direct action is violent.
To say that it is violent to destroy the machinery of a slaughterhouse or to break windows belonging to a party that promotes war is to prioritize property over human and animal life. This objection subtly validates violence against living creatures by focusing all attention on property rights and away from more fundamental issues.

3. Direct action is not political expression, but criminal activity.
Unfortunately, whether or not an action is illegal is a poor measure of whether or not it is just. The Jim Crow laws were, after all, laws. To object to an action on the grounds that it is illegal is to sidestep the more important question of whether or not it is ethical. To argue that we must always obey laws, even when we consider them to be unethical or to enforce unethical conditions, is to suggest that the arbitrary pronouncements of the legal establishment possess a higher moral authority than our own consciences, and to demand complicity in the face of injustice. When laws protect injustice, illegal activity is no vice, and law-abiding docility is no virtue.

4. Direct action is unnecessary where people have freedom of speech.
In a society dominated by an increasingly narrowly focused corporate media, it can be almost impossible to initiate a public dialogue on a subject unless something occurs that brings attention to it. Under such conditions, direct action can be a means of nurturing free speech, not squelching it. Likewise, when people who would otherwise oppose an injustice have accepted that it is inevitable, it is not enough simply to talk about it: one must demonstrate that it is possible to do something about it.

5. Direct action is alienating.
On the contrary, many people who find traditional party politics alienating are inspired and motivated by direct action. Different people find different approaches fulfilling; a movement that is to be broad-based must include a wide range of options. Sometimes people who share the goals of those who practice direct action while objecting to their means spend all their energy decrying an action that has been carried out. In doing so, they snatch defeat from the jaws of victory: they would do better to seize the opportunity to focus all attention on the issues raised by the action.

6. People who practice direct action should work through the established political channels instead.

Many people who practice direct action also work within the system. A commitment to making use of every institutional means of solving problems does not necessarily preclude an equal commitment to picking up where such means leave off.

7. Direct action is exclusive.
Some forms of direct action are not open to all, but this does not necessarily mean they are without worth. Everyone has different preferences and capabilities, and should be free to act according to them. The important question is how the differing approaches of individuals and groups that share the same long-term goals can be integrated in such a way that they complement each other.

8. Direct action is cowardly.
This accusation is almost always made by those who have the privilege of speaking and acting in public without fearing repercussions: that is to say, those who have power in this society, and those who obediently accept their power. Should the heroes of the French Resistance have demonstrated their courage and accountability by acting against the Nazi occupying army in the full light of day, thus dooming themselves to defeat? For that matter, in a nation increasingly terrorized by police and federal surveillance of just about everyone, is it any wonder that those who express dissent might want to protect their privacy while doing so?

9. Direct action is practiced only by college students/privileged rich kids/desperate poor people/etc.
This allegation is almost always made without reference to concrete facts, as a smear. In fact, direct action is and long has been practiced in a variety of forms by people of all walks of life. The only possible exception to this would be members of the wealthiest and most powerful classes, who have no need to practice any kind of illegal or controversial action because, as if by coincidence, the established political channels are perfectly suited to their needs.

10. Direct action is the work of agents provocateurs.
This is another speculation generally made from a distance, without concrete evidence. To allege that direct action is always the work of police agent provocateurs is disempowering: it rules out the possibility that activists could do such things themselves, overestimating the powers of police intelligence and reinforcing the illusion that the State is omnipotent. Likewise, it preemptively dismisses the value and reality of a diversity of tactics. When people feel entitled to make unfounded claims that every tactic of which they disapprove is a police provocation, this obstructs the very possibility of constructive dialogue about appropriate tactics.

11. Direct action is dangerous and can have negative repercussions for others.
Direct action can be dangerous in a repressive political climate, and it is important that those who practice it make every effort not to endanger others. This is not necessarily an objection to it, however--on the contrary, when it becomes dangerous to act outside established political channels, it becomes all the more important to do so. Authorities may use direct actions as excuses to terrorize innocents, as Hitler did when the Reichstag was set afire, but those in power are the ones who must answer for the injustices they commit in so doing, not those who oppose them. Likewise, though people who practice direct action may indeed run risks, in the face of an insufferable injustice it can be more dangerous and irresponsible to leave it uncontested.

12. Direct action never accomplishes anything.
Every effective political movement throughout history, from the struggle for the eight hour workday to the fight for women's suffrage, has made use of some form of direct action. Direct action can complement other forms of political activity in a variety of ways. If nothing else, it highlights the necessity for institutional reforms, giving those who push for them more bargaining chips; but it can go beyond this supporting role to suggest the possibility of an entirely different organization of human life, in which power is distributed equally and all people have an equal and direct say in all matters that affect them.

Via the Infoshop

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Americans are killing their Christ

My good friend Thom has a few thoughts about Bush and his Rightwing Christ Killers::

When I was 12, I dedicated my life to Christ. In the time since, I have been taught by well meaning people that Christians should side with the current conservative political party. I have to say that Jesus couldn't disagree more.

When Bush commands troops to war in Iraq, he is killing Christ. Every child maimed and murdered, every mother with no food or water, every brother or sister watching their civilian siblings burn up in the fire of our smart bombs is the personification of Christ - “the least of these” are Christ’s siblings. Our tax money makes us participants - a nation of goats - of modern day Christ-killers. The neo-conservatives execute Christ everyday, and they do it with mockery and glee. Their weapons? In Iraq, it is with Bombs and bullets. In the United States, death row and the machines of poverty-making. Christ-killer - a term mostly used perjoratively by anti-semetic bigots - is more accurately used to describe the conservative culture of the US.

Christ said, “If you love me you will do what I told you to do.” (New American Thom version.) Jesus told us that in the past, an eye for an eye was the legal standard. Christ then instructed us to turn the other cheek. To combat evil with good. Not bunker busting bombs. To stop theivery with radical charity. Not police brutality.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2004

German solar energy development shows the way

While the U.S. resists the Kyoto Agreement and continues its dependence on fossil fuels, it is Germany that demonstrates real leadership for the planet. The San Francisco Chronicle reports on Germany's push for renewable power:

Muhlhausen, Germany -- A solar-power project built by a Berkeley company may point Germany toward a pollution-free future.

Set in the heart of Bavarian farmland, the 30-acre facility went online earlier this month, becoming the biggest solar energy plant in the world."
"There's a huge amount of opportunity here in Germany because the government has created a system that encourages large installations," said Thomas Dinwoodie, chief executive officer of PowerLight Corp. of Berkeley, which built and operates the Muhlhausen facility and two other solar parks nearby.
PowerLight's three Bavarian solar parks, consisting of 57,600 silicon-and- aluminum panels, will generate 10 megawatts of electricity -- enough to power 9,000 German homes. The amount of electricity produced is much less than power plants fueled by coal or natural gas, but with very low operating costs, the solar project is expected quickly to turn a profit while emitting zero pollution.
"This is part of our commitment as a government, to make Germany the world leader in alternative energy and in taking action against global warming, " said Juergen Trittin, Germany's environment minister. "We are willing to do what is necessary."

The country is now the No. 1 world producer of wind energy, with more than 16,000 windmills generating 39 percent of the world total, and it is fast closing in on Japan for the lead in solar power. Wind and solar energy together provide more than 10 percent of the nation's electricity, a rate that is expected to double by 2020.

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To be governed

To be governed is to be watched over, inspected, spied on, directed, legislated at, regulated, docketed, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, assessed, weighed, censored, ordered about, by men who have neither the right nor the knowledge nor the virtue. --Pierre Joseph Proudhon (1809–65)

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Monday, December 20, 2004

Oil and Empire

Jim Kunstler has written yet another great article about U.S. dependence on oil in which he touches on the political, social, and economic consequences. Oh, Come All Ye Clueless:

Time Magazine's Person of the Year had a famous father who famously remarked a decade ago that 'the American way of life is not negotiable.' This remains the animating principle beneath most of America's troubles in the world.

A good many people in the United States probably still agree with this notion, but how realistic is it? How long can America base its economy on suburban land development? Realistically, that way of doing things has to end now. Unless we want to try to turn the entire Middle East (including Saudi Arabia) into an occupied colony, which would seem beyond our military capacities, to put it mildly, since we can't even enforce civil order in Iraq.

To keep the suburban expansion going indefinitely we will need to continue using one-quarter of the world's oil every day. Since this resource is about to head over the all-time peak production arc, there will be incrementally a few percentages less total oil produced every year after the peak. We'll probably have to occupy Venezuela, too, and Nigeria, to keep the suburban expansion going -- not to mention the daily operation of it, with the sixty mile commutes and the estimated average seven car trips per day per household to chauffeur kids and run errands. As we maintain our oil consumption under these conditions, other nations will have to use proportionately less. How will the Europeans and the Chinese feel about that? Will there be discontent over it? And might it affect our relations with them?"

Why is this not being talked about? Read through the news sites and the blogosphere and you'll see that the subject of oil is utterly absent from the discussion. Look for it. Go ahead. You won't find it. We have created a society that is based on oil and yet we don't talk about it? We don't discuss the issue at all. It is ridiculous and dangerous. We may not be willing to negotiate our way of life but, as Kunstler suggests, we better "get ready for reality to arbitrate it for us."

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Saturday, December 18, 2004

American Jesus

The American Jesus will kick your ass.

Via Mat.

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Thousands of U.S. troops have deserted since invasion of Iraq

Jaded Reality offers a Disaster Alert - aka Iraq round up. What really caught my eye:

There is also a whopper of a stat in the latest issue of Harper Magazine's (Jan 2005) Index:

The G.I. Rights Hotline (800-394-9544) has received approx. 34,800 phone calls this last year from soldiers seeking a way out of the military.
-- G.I. Rights Hotline, as of November 2004

This, combined with the latest reports that 5,000+ soldiers have deserted since the invasion of Iraq, may be an indicator that some in the military do not agree with the current state of affairs.

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Thursday, December 16, 2004

Pentagon nervous about Germany's war crimes case against Rumsfeld

This is as it should be. Let's hope Germany moves forward with this. I look forward to the day that U.S. war criminals go to jail. Juan Cole at Informed Comment writes about the Pentagon threat against Germany:

The New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and Berlin's Republican Lawyers' Association has filed suit in Germany against Donald Rumsfeld on behalf of 4 Iraqis who allege they were mistreated by American troops. A number of other high-ranking US officials are also named. AFP writes:

' The groups that filed the complaint said they had chosen Germany because of its Code of Crimes Against International Law, introduced in 2002, which grants German courts universal jurisdiction in cases involving war crimes or crimes against humanity. It also makes military or civilian commanders who fail to prevent their subordinates from committing such acts liable. '

What is interesting about the Pentagon reaction to this suit is how frantic the Department of Defense seems. Although spokesman Larry DiRita dismissed it as "frivolous," he threatened Germany with dire consequences if the suit goes forward.
DiRita said,

"Generally speaking, as is true anywhere, if these kinds of lawsuits take place with American servicemen in the cross-hairs, you bet it's something we take seriously . . . I think every government in the world, particularly a NATO ally, understands the potential effect on relations with the United States if these kinds of frivolous lawsuits were ever to see the light of day."

These remarks raise several questions. Why is DiRita hiding behind the fact that American servicemen are "in the cross-hairs? What have Rumsfeld's policies or legal problems got to do with grunts on the front line? You think they like Rumsfeld? Look what happened when he let them ask him questions.

Then, if the lawsuit is frivolous, why should it produce grave consequences for Germany? It should produce frivolity and hilarity if it is frivolous. It seems actually to be taken very seriously.

Is the real threat the damage to Rumsfeld's public image, or the danger that the lawsuit may prompt a discovery process?

Finally, surely DiRita is not suggesting that the Federal government actively interfere with a legal process? Wouldn't that be the Executive squelching the Judiciary? Isn't that contrary to the separation of Powers? Or is the new monarchism to be imposed on Germany as well, now that it is the model in Washington?

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Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Public life and public space: Europe and the U.S.

Jim Kunstler over at Clusterfuck Nation discusses the difference between America and European public life and use of public space:
"Amsterdam, Holland, was pretty much the same story as Paris, though it is physically quite different from Paris -- the scale is smaller, the intimate streets are deployed along a network of beautiful canals, and the car is barely tolerated (or even much in evidence). There, we would duck into a 'brown bar' (so-called because of the dark wooden wainscotting) at five p.m. and it would be full of well-dressed, gainfully employed adults in animated conversation. Public life in Europe is only minimally about shopping and maximally about spending time with your fellow human beings.
American public life by comparison is pathetic-to-nonexistent. Americans venture out only to roam the warehouse depots, and only by car.
The process of making America an alienated land of solitary, obese driver-shoppers has been very profitable for predatory corporations. They have systematically disassembled the public social infrastructure and repackaged pieces of it for sale -- starting with the single-family house isolated on its lot from all the normal amenities of culture and society. Everybody now has their 'home theater' so the cinema is only a place to park children for two hours so you can drive elsewhere to buy the cheez doodles, frozen pizza, Pepsi, and other staples of the American diet. You equip your kitchen with an espresso machine and there is no reason to "waste your time" in a cafe. Everybody has to have their own pool, so the kids can go swimming by themselves. Family values. The rest of the human race is unimportant.

It's an excellent post, check it out.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Ohio Recount: Blackwell Locks Out Recount Volunteers

This is going to get very interesting. Just how much evidence is needed before the citizens of the U.S. realize that democracy here is just a farce? Even the illusion of democracy is now disregarded by those in power.

Ohio Secretary of State Blackwell has apparently declared that the voter records are now not public records and will not be made available to recount volunteers. According to the blog Ohio Election Fraud:

Ohio Election Investigation Thwarted by Surprise Blackwell Order

On Friday December 10 two certified volunteers for the Ohio Recount team assigned to Greene County were in process recording voting information from minority precincts in Greene County, and were stopped mid-count by a surprise order from Secretary of State Blackwell's office. The Director Board of Elections stated that "all voter records for the state of Ohio were "locked-down," and now they are not considered public records."

The volunteers were working with voter printouts received directly from Carole Garman, Director, Greene County Board of Elections. Joan Quinn and Eve Roberson, retired attorney and election official respectively, were hand-copying voter discrepancies from precinct voting books on behalf of the presidential candidates Mr. Cobb (Green) and Mr. Badnarik Libertarian) who had requested the recount.

One of the goals of the recount was to determine how many minority voters were unable to vote or denied voting at the polls. Upon requesting copies of precinct records from predominantly minority precincts, Ms. Garman contacted Secretary of State Blackwell's office and spoke to Pat Wolfe, Election Administrator. Ms. Wolfe told Ms. Garman to assert that all voter records for the State of Ohio were "locked down" and that they are "not considered public records."

Quinn and Roberson asked specifically for the legal authority authorizing Mr. Blackwell to "lock down" public records. Garman stated that it was the Secretary of State's decision. Ohio statute requires the Directors of Boards of Election to comply with public requests for inspection and copying of public election records. As the volunteer team continued recording information from the precinct records in question, Garman entered the room and stated she was withdrawing permission to inspect or copy any voting records at the Board of Elections. Garman then physically removed the precinct book from Ms. Roberson's hands. They later requested the records again from Garman's office, which was again denied.

Ohio Revised Code Title XXXV Elections, Sec. 3503.26 that requires all election records to be made available for public inspection and copying. ORC Sec. 3599.161 makes it a crime for any employee of the Board of Elections to knowingly prevent or prohibit any person from inspecting the public records filed in the office of the Board of Elections. Finally, ORC Sec. 3599.42 clearly states: "A violation of any provision of Title XXXV (35) of the Revised Code constitutes a prima facie case of election fraud within the purview of such Title."

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What is before us?

Understanding the complexity of the current moment is difficult, attempting to predict the future unfolding of the present is even more difficult; seeing truths within the larger context, these seem to be our stumbling blocks. I ask, where are we bound? I like this question in part because it can be interpreted in different ways, all of which are interesting. It is a statement or question about humanity and its direction into the future. It is also a question about our ties to one another and to ideas. How are we bound to one another? How are we bound by assumptions and their effect upon our interpretation of reality? How are we bound by our individual history as well as our collective history?

As individuals we are born into a context and from that moment on we are bound up through socialization. We learn about reality through our parents or larger family and the total environment that surrounds us. This total environment likely includes television and some sort of "education" system as well as some sort of neighborhood-community. This totality of experience, defined by space and countless interactions, provides the environment for our physical and mental development. Sometimes we are painfully aware of the individual elements that are a part of the overall process, sometimes we are not.

Do you see what I see? We often function without ever questioning the mental framework of our understanding of reality. As we age we may learn to analyze parts of the framework. It is also possible that we never even realize that the framework exists. Yet another possibility is that we realize that it exists but choose not to examine it. I won't pretend to understand the complexities of the human mind, I just want to suggest that our understanding of our world is severely limited though we often act otherwise. We usually act as though our understanding is absolutely correct and that we are properly informed.

What is before us? What do we know about the world? What do we know about the current operations of the government? What do we know about the origins of "our country" and "our" government? What do we know about "our" history? What do we know about "our" economy? How are we forming our understanding of the world? What are the systems that disseminate information to us? Who owns these systems? Who is responsible for their content and the method of delivery?

In any moment, are we aware of the medium? Are we aware of the message?

Everyday we make choices which are based on our understanding of the way the world works as well as the routines we've created to adapt to this world. This routine means that each day is often very similar to the previous day. It is a dynamic worth considering when we try to understand ourselves, how we interpret the world, and how we behave. The smooth flow of routine within our daily lives is an important aspect of our sense of security and comfort. The repetition of experience is a part of our training and mental structuring. Repetition of sanctioned ideas is important if a population is to accept its own indoctrination. Repetition creates "truth" and a sense of legitimacy.

What is before us?

Consider the attacks of 9/11 and the U.S. response, the "war on terror". Consider Iraq. Consider the recent U.S. elections and the allegations of massive fraud. Each of these is an example and there are countless others. What do you know and why do you know it? What is your opinion and why is it so? Just as important, what might you be totally unaware of because your primary source of information may not have mentioned it? It's not just the uniformity of perspective of information that is presented to us that is important, but the fact that certain important sub-stories may never be discussed at all.

How do we proceed? What is our goal? What kind of society do we want to create? What kind of world do we want to work towards? How do we develop processes and systems that deepen our understanding of one another? How do we communicate more affectively? What process might we develop that allows for a global discussions that might take us towards a common vision? To those that would reply that this is not possible, I ask you to prove it. I believe that another world is possible, one which we have never seen. I believe that we can do much better than we have if we choose to. We do not have to accept the mental and social structures that produce, among other things, fear, insecurity, poverty, and war. We do not have to accept the world that is.

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