Saturday, February 26, 2005

Venezuela's Chavez embraces socialism

CNN/Reuters has an interesting article about Venezuela's Hugo Chavez: Defying U.S., Venezuela's Chavez embraces socialism:

CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Friday embraced socialism as his ideology of choice in a political statement that sharpened his antagonism against the United States.

Chavez, a firebrand nationalist who has governed the world's No. 5 oil exporter for six years, has persistently declined to define the precise ideology of his self-styled "revolution."

But, addressing an international meeting on poverty in Caracas, he said Western-style capitalism was incapable of solving global economic and social problems.

"So, if not capitalism, then what? I have no doubt, it's socialism," said Chavez, who also rebuffed U.S. criticism of his left-wing rule in Venezuela and denounced U.S. President George W. Bush as the "great destabilizer of the world."


I finally see the tide turning against the U.S. Seems that all the pieces are in place and it makes me laugh to think that "our" esteemed president set this game in motion. Each day makes it more obvious that blocks of resistance are being established. Europe will increasingly oppose U.S. policies. Iran and Syria are blocking up and looks like they are forming increasingly solid relations with Russia and China. I think it's pretty obvious where Iraq has been heading. Venezuela, under the leadership of Chavez will continue to increase its resistance.

Anarchists and enemies of the U.S. state could not have done a better job. Thank you Mr. Bush.


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Friday, February 25, 2005

Monsters, bullies and bastards

"We have become a Nazi monster in the eyes of the whole world a nation of bullies and bastards who would rather kill than live peacefully. We are not just Whores for power and oil, but killer whores with hate and fear in our hearts. We are human scum, and that is how history will judge us. No redeeming social value. Just whores. Get out of our way, or we'll kill you. Well, shit on that dumbness. George W. Bush does not speak for me or my son or my mother or my friends or the people I respect in this world. We didnt vote for these cheap, greedy little killers who speak for America today and we will not vote for them again in 2002. Or 2004. Or ever. Who does vote for these dishonest shitheads? Who among us can be happy and proud of having all this innocent blood on our hands? Who are these swine? These flag-sucking half-wits who get fleeced and fooled by stupid little rich kids like George Bush? They are same ones who wanted to have Muhammad Ali locked up for refusing to kill gooks. They speak for all that is cruel and stupid and vicious in the American Character. They are the racists and hate mongers among us they are the Ku Klux Klan. I piss down the throats of these Nazis. And I am too old to worry about whether they like it or not. Fuck them."

-- Hunter S. Thompson, "Kingdom of Fear" 2003

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Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Antiwar Movement Confronts Army Recruiters

The New York Times, via Infoshop News, has a story about the antiwar movement getting aggressive. I have little doubt that this kind of direct action against the U.S. war machine will increase in coming years assuming the pattern of U.S. violence abroad continues. I'd expect that this tactic will prove to be more effective than mass protests because it cannot be so easily managed by authority.

EAST ORANGE, N.J. - The five United States Army recruiters who work from a storefront office here arrived on the morning of Feb. 5 to discover that a plate-glass window above the main entrance had been shattered, along with a window in the Navy office next door.

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But for the men on the other side of the broken glass, and recruiters throughout the New York area, the vandalism here underscored what they say are the risks of signing up young people for the military during a war that has polarized the American public.

The shattering of windows here followed two similar incidents in New York City and a third in the Midwest that week. On Jan. 31, authorities said, recruiters at a station near the Flatiron section of Manhattan reported that a door had been cracked, and that anarchist symbols had been scrawled in red paint on the building.

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A day later in Toledo, Ohio, a bucket of manure was thrown at the window of a recruiting station that housed all four branches of the military, the police said, and antiwar obscenities were scrawled on a nearby wall.

Since the beginning of 2003, there have also been more than a dozen other often violent incidents aimed at military recruiters or property throughout the country, according to the police, recruiters and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In a few cases, vehicles have been set on fire; in others, blood has been thrown through windows. Spokespeople for the armed services have downplayed the incidents even as some recruiters have increased security at their stations.

Douglas Smith, a spokesman for the Army Recruiting Command at Fort Knox, Ky., said that no recruiters had been hurt and that most of the nation's nearly 1,700 Army recruiting stations had not been harmed or attacked.

"We're aware that there are some instances of damage to stations, and we're keeping an eye on this," he said. "But it is not something that has us overly concerned."

Several recruiters in the field, however, said that they remained on edge. On Jan. 20, the day of President Bush's inaugural, several hundred students at Seattle Central Community College surrounded two Army recruiters on campus, shouting insults and hurling water bottles until the recruiters were escorted away by campus security. The protest was covered by The Army Times, and several recruiters said that they feared such situations might become more common.

Sgt. First Class William C. Howard, a recruiter here in East Orange, said that the antiwar sentiment seemed to have grown more aggressive. Though recruiters are still frequently thanked for their service, he said, the insults, dirty looks and other signs of discontent seem to be increasing.


On edge? Given that their job is to convince other people to go off and kill or be killed I'd say being on edge is getting off easy.



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Imperial Entropy and the Collapse of the American Empire

Over at Counterpunch Kirkpatrick Sale writes about the Collapse of the American Empire. We can only hope.

It is quite ironic: only a decade or so after the idea of the United States as an imperial power came to be accepted by both right and left, and people were actually able to talk openly about an American empire, it is showing multiple signs of its inability to continue. And indeed it is now possible to contemplate, and openly speculate about, its collapse.

The neocons in power in Washington these days, those who were delighted to talk about America as the sole empire in the world following the Soviet disintegration, will of course refuse to believe in any such collapse, just as they ignore the realities of the imperial war in Iraq. But I think it behooves us to examine seriously the ways in which the U.S. system is so drastically imperiling itself that it will cause not only the collapse of its worldwide empire but drastically alter the nation itself on the domestic front.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

New studies of oceans and melting Arctic ice confirm warmer planet

Wired, via Reuters, reported a few days ago on new studies of the Earth's oceans and melting Arctic ice which confirm a rapidly warming planet.


A parcel of studies looking at the oceans and melting Arctic ice leave no room for doubt that it is getting warmer, people are to blame, and the weather is going to suffer, climate experts said on Thursday.

New computer models that look at ocean temperatures instead of the atmosphere show the clearest signal yet that global warming is well underway, said Tim Barnett of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

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His team used millions of temperature readings made by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to calculate steady ocean warming.

"The debate over whether or not there is a global warming signal is now over, at least for rational people," he said.

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Other researchers found clear effects on climate and animals.

Ruth Curry of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution found that melting ice was changing the water cycle, which in turn affects ocean currents and, ultimately, climate.

"As the Earth warms, its water cycle is changing, being pushed out of kilter," she said. "Ice is in decline everywhere on the planet."

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Greenland's ice cap, which contains enough ice to raise sea levels globally by 23 feet, is starting to melt and could collapse suddenly, Curry said. Already freshwater is percolating down, lubricating the base and making it more unstable.

Sharon Smith of the University of Miami found melting Arctic ice was taking with it algae that formed an important base of the food supply for a range of animals.

And the disappearing ice shelves meant big animals such as walruses, polar bears and seals were losing their homes.


In other news Americans remain oblivious.

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The FDA, Vioxx, Celebrex and other adventures in drugland

Democracy Now! has posted the transcript from Amy Goodman's interview with Dr. Sidney Wolfe. Excellent reading. You have to love how useful the federal government is! It's good to see that tax dollars are so wisely used by government entities... I sure feel safe knowing they are looking out for all of us! Heh. FDA, FCC, and on down the list, each one an example of how government does not work for the citizenry, but the interests of capital.

The FDA panel proposed that the drugs be sold with an FDA "black box" warning. Vioxx is now expected to return to the market even though nearly half the FDA panel voted against it being sold. Its manufacturer Merck voluntarily withdrew the painkiller drug in the fall. Studies have show as many as 55,000 people may have died from taking the drug. [includes rush transcript - partial]
A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel has voted to allow doctors to keep prescribing the popular painkillers Vioxx, Celebrex and Bextra even though the panel overwhelmingly agreed that the drugs significantly increase the risk of cardiovascular problems in patients.

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Sunday, February 20, 2005

How Democracy "works" in Iraq

According to Juan Cole:

Al-Hayat reports that a decision on the new prime minister will not be announced until at least Wednesday. The decision was postponed in part because of Ashura, and in part because of the difficulty in getting a "green light" from Washington in the wake of Ambassador John Negroponte's appointment as intelligence czar. (US news sources have not spoken as openly of the need for a green light from Washington, but al-Hayat's sources are frank about it. This frankness agrees with the comment made by one embassy official that Iraq cannot select a prime minister who is unacceptable to Washington.


Democracy? Ha, ha... yeah I get it... Just like here in the Homeland.


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Government Secrecy and Power

Noam Chomsky, during a discussion regarding governmental secrecy and security suggested that secrecy has little to do with security. Rather, the real reason for secrecy is the need to cloak the workings of power from is own people:

Yeah-the Rosenberg execution had nothing to do with national security; it was part of trying to destroy the political movements of the Thirties. If you want to traumatize people, treason trials are a n extreme way--if there are spies running around in our midst, then we're really in trouble, we'd better just listen to the government and stop thinking.

Look, every government has a need to frighten its population, and one way of doing that is to shroud its workings in mystery. The idea that a govermnet has to be shrouded in mystery is something that goes back to Herodotus [ancient Greek historian]. You read Herodotus, and he describes how the Medes and others won their freedom by struggle, and then they lost their freedom when the institution of royalty was invented to create a cloake of mystery around power. 30 See, the idea behind royalty was that there's this other species of individuals who are beyond the norm and who the people are not supposed to understand. That's the standard way you cloak and protect power: you make it look mysterious and secret, above the ordinary person- otherwise why should anybody accept it? Well, they're willing to accept it out of fear that some great enemies are about to destroy them, and because of that they'll cede their autthority to the Lord, or the King, or the President or something, just to protect themselves. That's the way governments work--that's the way any system of power works--and the secrecy system is part of it.


Source: Understanding Power.

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Friday, February 18, 2005

Podcast: Media, Information and Reality

Just a bit of contemplation about the formulation of beliefs and ideas. Also, a few thoughts on the corporate media and the effects of blogs on that media. Yeah, just a good bit of confused rambling about this... and that.

littlepod.jpg More via the Podcast which is also available as a direct mp3 download runtime: 19'17, 3.5 MB.

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Ocean Life




Last night at the ocean! Tomorrow we head back to Missouri, just in time for spring. As much as I've enjoyed the beauty of this ocean ecosystem I love the incredible diversity of Missouri and will be happy to be back. It won't be long before frogs wake up and the early wild flowers will be showing their faces soon.



About the fish picture: we found four of these guys on the beach one day. Strange that we would find so many on one day but not a single one on any other day. Also, today we saw our first live jellyfish. We've been seeing them dead washed up on shore but the one we saw today, approximately 16 inches in diameter, was very much alive and just 15 feet from shore so it was easy to observe. No dolphins today but the water was calmer than every other day and perfectly clear. The perfect last day.

I've added another 70+ photos to my Flickr photo blog.



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Thursday, February 17, 2005

Gulls




Last days by the ocean...

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Of Pots and Kettles, Bush's Syria Pronouncement

CNN/AP Headline: Bush: Syria 'out of step'

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush on Thursday said Syria is "out of step" with other nations in the Middle East and said the United States will work with other countries to pressure Damascus to remove its troops from Lebanon.


Out of step? Funny that he should say that the day after Kyoto went into effect. Fucking idiot.

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US: Least Informed, Best Entertained

Dahr Jamail has posted an article regarding the recent World Tribunal on Iraq.

The World Tribunal on Iraq (WTI), an international peoples initiative seeking the truth about the war and occupation in Iraq made its pronouncement Sunday after a three- day meeting. The tribunal heard testimony from independent journalists, media professors, activists, and member of the European Parliament Michele Santoro.

The Rome session of the WTI followed others in Brussels, London, Mumbai, New York, Hiroshima-Tokyo, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Lisbon. The Rome meeting focused on the media role.

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The panel accused western corporate media of filtering and suppressing information, and of marginalising and endangering independent journalists. More journalists were killed in a 14-month period in Iraq than in the entire Vietnam war.

The tribunal said mainstream media reportage on Iraq also violated article six of the Nuremberg Tribunal (set up to try Nazi crimes) which states: "Leaders, organisers, instigators and accomplices participating in the formulation or execution of a common plan or conspiracy to commit any of the foregoing crimes (crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity) are responsible for all acts performed by any persons in execution of such a plan."

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"This is not simply an exercise to denounce the mainstream media for their bias and incompetence," said Dr. Tony Alessandrini, a human rights activist who has published several articles on the U.S. colonisation of Iraq. "These denunciations have been going on for months. Here in Rome, we must go further.."

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Several experts gave strong testimony. Dr. Peter Philips, director of 'Project Censured' at Sonoma State University in California where he teaches media censorship provided taped testimony. He said that at no time since the 1930s has the United States been so close to "institutionalised totalitarianism", and added, "U.S. society has become the least informed, best entertained society in the world."


Strange, I didn't see anything about this on CNN.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Understanding Power

I have a confession to make. It's been a long while since I've purchased and actually read a book. Paper and ink, yes, I think I remember now. By accident I ended up in a nice little neighborhood bookstore today and I somehow ended up buying a book:Understanding Power. Excellent choice. I've only just started but damn I'm impressed. Essentially the book consists of excerpts of discussions with Noam Chomsky which occured in various settings from 1989 - 1999. Expect to read more comments here as I make my way through the book.

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Monday, February 14, 2005

Humans: Losing our way?

Inspired by the repercussions of saying a simple hello to a stranger on the street Stupid Beautiful writes about city life. It's a strangely beautiful and sad account of humanity loosing its way which reflects my own thoughts. Of course it's not just about the city is it? I've felt for a while that U.S. society has gone off the deep end. Our lives are so far out of balance that we now medicate our minds and our children's minds in the hopes that the chemicals might somehow set things right or at least alter life enough that it seems tolerable. The social structures, social spaces, and nightmarish techno-media experiences continue to surround us. Degradation becomes an accepted fact of life right along side of fear and insecurity. We seem unaware of exactly what is going on. We feel it but we don't understand it.

We push on through, we punch the reality from within the perceived safety of SUVs and Hummers. Men ooze aggressiveness from there pores as they assume a constant state of defense and attack. The media tells the population about the latest school shooting one day and about a scalping days later. The mental onslaught is everyday. What is real?

Some kind of devil has taken over this city. These days, as I walk along sidewalks lined with slush and half-smoked cigarettes, I can see it without squinting. It isn't a disease in so many words -- you can't catch it like a bug or become infected by it. No, this has always been here lurking dormantly -- a link in the collective DNA. It had simply not awakened until now.

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Have I just experienced this urban devil at it's pubescent stages? Perhaps this is how it all begins. A human being sets out to do what it naturally and spiritually desires -- to encounter other human beings and experience exchanges with them, no matter how small. Unfortunately, most of these attempts occur with people who have already become jaded about such endeavours. As more and more people are met with failed exchanges, this population of jaded anti-socials grows exponentially, spreading like an unstoppable plague. Is it possible that I have just had a close encounter with this awakening monster?

The concept behind the city is a beautiful one. Millions of people coming together to share a relatively small slice of land, spending their entire lives in close proximity to one another. In truth, it can be an ideal environment for the spiritually inclined -- even more so than the cliché of a vacant babbling brook. What better setting is there for exploring your true nature than a highly concentrated mass of people to learn from? This extravagant production we call the human experience, in it's purest and most potent form, is quite simply the interaction that takes place between two people.

Yet quite paradoxically, it would seem that cities have become the most ideal breeding ground for isolation and spiritual degeneration. Human beings have begun to give far too much credit to their doubts and fears -- leaving them jaded from relatively small doses of rejection or threat.


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Friday, February 11, 2005

Ward Churchill and his sins against empire

Yet more on the attack against Ward Churchill. Stephen Best writes Killing the Messenger: Ward Churchill’s Sins Against the Empire

“The gross distortions of what I actually said can only be viewed as an attempt to distract the public from the real issues at hand and to further stifle freedom of speech and academic debate in this country.” --Ward Churchill


Academic free speech and the First Amendment once again are under intense fire in the midst of a political and mass media witch hunt on Ward Churchill, Professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder. The controversy erupted over objection to Churchill’s participation on a panel at Hamilton College in upstate New York once a controversial essay he published on the Internet the day after 9-11, entitled “Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens,” was unearthed and transformed into fodder for a lurid media spectacle.

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U.S. Scientists Ordered to Lie

So much for a federal government that respects science and its own laws. Of course this is not a surprise to anyone that actually follows the conduct of "our" government over time. No, this fits the pattern perfectly. Time and again evidence surfaces to verify that "our" government is actually a government bought and paid for by captialists. This is the rule, not the exception. Democracy? That is the biggest lie of all.

According to the LA Times U.S. Scientists have been ordered to alter their findings:

More than 200 scientists employed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service say they have been directed to alter official findings to lessen protections for plants and animals, a survey released Wednesday says.

The survey of the agency's scientific staff of 1,400 had a 30% response rate and was conducted jointly by the Union of Concerned Scientists and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

A division of the Department of the Interior, the Fish and Wildlife Service is charged with determining which animals and plants should be placed on the endangered species list and designating areas where such species need to be protected.

More than half of the biologists and other researchers who responded to the survey said they knew of cases in which commercial interests, including timber, grazing, development and energy companies, had applied political pressure to reverse scientific conclusions deemed harmful to their business.

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Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The end of laws: H.R. 418

The Irregular times has a post about H.R. 418 and I have to say, this is some scary stuff. If this should pass, well, it is yet another step towards total control:

H.R. 418, a bill currently before the U.S. Congress, reads in part as follows:

`(1) IN GENERAL- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall have the authority to waive, and shall waive, all laws such Secretary, in such Secretary’s sole discretion, determines necessary to ensure expeditious construction of the barriers and roads under this section.

`(2) NO JUDICIAL REVIEW- Notwithstanding any other provision of law (statutory or nonstatutory), no court shall have jurisdiction–
`(A) to hear any cause or claim arising from any action undertaken, or any decision made, by the Secretary of Homeland Security pursuant to paragraph (1); or`(B) to order compensatory, declaratory, injunctive, equitable, or any other relief for damage alleged to arise from any such action or decision.’

Let me restate that in plain English for you: If H.R. 418 is passed into law, the Secretary of Homeland Security, a Bush appointee nobody elected, will have the right to declare null and void any law...

No judges will have the ability to overrule the Secretary of Homeland Security’s judgment in declaring null and void ANY LAW.

Let me put it in even starker terms: if H.R. 418 is passed into law, the Secretary of Homeland Security can declare null and void any law whenever she or he feels like it, and in doing so can’t be overruled by anyone… except, of course, the President, George W. Bush. Does that make you feel comfortable?

Under this bill, the Bush administration would be granted the right to declare null and void any law, something that until now has been the job of the Congress or the courts. And under this bill, the courts have no ability to challenge the actions of the Bush administration.

Bye bye, checks and balances.

Bye bye, due process.

Bye bye, judicial review.

Bye bye, civil rights.

This is how police states happen, friends.

And guess who’s behind it.

Republicans? Why, no, it couldn’t be! Republicans are the party of the little guy standing against the nasty elitist system, right? Republicans are for small government, right? Republicans don’t want some bureaucrat in Washington, D.C. to control your life, right?

Think again. Of the 126 members of Congress who have formally thrown their support behind this bill, 98.4% are Republican. That’s right, folks, this bill is 98.4% Republican pure. And it’s not just a couple of loony birds who are pushing this bill, either. The loony birds have taken over the loony bin: More than half of the 234 Republican members of the House of Representatives have signed their names to this bill, indicating their support. This bill is going places, unless we do something to stop it.


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Empire and Uppity Indians

Over at Counterpunch Tim Wise has an excellent article regarding Ward Churchill and the larger argument regarding U.S. conduct abroad: Reflections on Empire and Uppity Indians.

Dead people of color, the world over, or right here in the U.S., whose ashes they step over every time they walk out the door of their homes, mean nothing to them. Their deaths are cause for no tears, no contrition, no recompense, and certainly have never served to disqualify those responsible (or those who applaud the carnage) from positions of authority, in colleges, or government. Nor will schools now move to block dear Madame Albright from speaking on their campuses, as happened to Ward; nor will Ann Coulter find herself a pariah for fantasizing about the incineration of folks whose only crime was to be born North Korean.

But Ward Churchill, who has merely laid out the facts about America's murderous ways around the globe--facts that have not been disputed even once by any of his critics--is to be silenced. Those who do the deed are cheered, re-elected and get buildings named after them. Those who merely tell of their exploits and suggest that perhaps there may be consequences, get crushed.

This is what happens, in a nation built on lies from the beginning; whose empire has been constructed on the sands of self-delusion; whose inability to tell the truth about itself has now become the stuff of farce. Our lack of self-awareness, not to mention the way in which Americans pride ourselves on how little we know about the world, and how reflexively patriotic we can be, would all be funny were it not so miserably pathetic, and ultimately so dangerous.

The sickest irony of the entire episode with Churchill is this, of course: namely, if there is anyone whose views and actions lead to the inevitable conclusion that the civilians in the World Trade Center were legitimate, if unfortunate targets, it is the President of the United States. It is he, whose doctrine of "preventative" warfare, assumes by definition that it is acceptable to target buildings that house offices tied to the government and military apparatus of one's enemy, which, indeed the WTC did, and which of course describes the Pentagon in its entirety.


Found via the Infoshop


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Tuesday, February 08, 2005

The Shithouse-Crazy Cowboy

Imagine you are the parent of a 5 year old child. Would you trust them with an armed gun? Now I ask this question because yesterday I got to thinking about roles and relationships. Think of the American people as one entity and the government (federal, state, local) as the other. In this scenario, who's the parent and the child?

Yeah, as I said yesterday, perhaps the best tactic for fighting Bush and Co. is to just let them run the country into the ground. Seriously. The U.S. has become the empire, the bringer of violence and the citizens have given away the reigns of power (or never had them in the first place). I've said it before that the U.S. must be stopped and that it would likely have to be an external force to do it. As terrible as it is on the inside the conditions are not intense enough that the people would dare do anything. The majority of those opposed to Bush are Liberals and still put their hope in the Democratic party. They still believe that the system works, just that it needs a change of ruling party. Support for a third party is still not strong enough and with Dean as the chair of the DNC you can bet that liberals and progressives will rally to the Democrats in 2008.

The U.S. has become a child, armed to the teeth but with no parent. So I'm hoping that the world community will unite to impose sanctions on the U.S. That combined with the current president's policies should do the trick.

In any case, back to the original point, this post over at Screw You Guys, I'm Going Home! had me rolling on the floor The Shithouse-Crazy Cowboy Strikes Again:

You steamy, slimy, dripping, stinky chunk of bloody diarrhea!!! You scheming, smarmy, stupid, spoiled, pecksnifferous, moronic, evil, hateful, white supremacist, piggish, patriarchal, space-wasting douchebag!!!

You, your VP, and your entire heinous Cabinet have your own private, flaming cesspool with extra maggots awaiting you in Hell.

Who the FUCK do you think you are? Where the FUCK do you think you get off bankrupting your own country? What divine power do you think gives you the right to spend our money this way???

The budget you proposed today will increase our federal deficit by $42 billion over the next five years. I strongly suspect that you never paid a single tax dollar your entire life before you became President, and you won't pay any after. Well yeehaw! Let the green river flow to the Pentagon and the oil companies, and the working class can foot the bill. That sounds like a dang ole, rootin tootin, chicken lickin' good time, pardner!

Forty-eight different education programs get the axe, including drug abuse counseling. Grants to communities hiring police officers - gone! Amtrak subsidies for those pesky po' folk that can't afford to buy the black gold your family sells - gone! And while we're at it, let's cut back on Medicaid spending. After all, everyone knows that our Consteetution don't say a cotton-pickin thing about no Jesus-given right to health care. Praise the Lord!

Student loans? Who needs 'em! We's gonna have us some school vouchers. Dem lil' wippersnappers can have they Daddies pay for they's higher learnin'. I knows that's what they's do, because my Daddy done paid for mine! An' if you'ns cain't afford none, it don't mean shit, because college ain't much use no how! Hell, I cain't even remember what I did those seven years. I think I may have been a cheerleader or somethin' like that. And just look at me now! I'm the President of the Yoo-nited States! It don't get no better'n that!

Slashing farmers' payments ain't gonna be no big thang. I don' need no money from the guv'ment for my farmin', and I's got me a hy-ooge ranch down in Texas. We call it the Western White House, because we's all white down thar!

Now, here's a weird one. Veterans' medical services. We're gonna get the fat trimmed off of that pork chop. Hey, aren't you a veteran, Mr. Bush? Didn't I see you in one of those suit thingies a couple years back? And aren't a lot of those guys you sent to Iraq coming back with fewer arms and legs than they had when they left? Oh, hell. They can move to Canada, I s'pose.

So tell us something, Dubya. If all these federal programs are getting cut, where in Sam Hill is the giant deficit coming from? Oh, that's right! Tax cuts for the rich, $100 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan this year, an additional $419 billion for the Pentagon, and untold riches for the Homeland Security Department, because Lord knows those guys can never be too rich or too effective!

And the pièce de résistance, $74 billion over the next decade to encourage low-income people to buy health insurance. Cuz sheeeeit, their employers is already payin them they sal'ry. They's already missin' work if they get sick. Now their boss's gotta pay the doctor bills too? That don't make no sense. Just rob us blind, why don't you! Dang lazy poor folk. Always tryin' to steal what we rich folk work mighty hard for! If the labor people don't like that deal, then they don't have to work at the Wal-Mart. This is a free country, after all. That's what you keep sending them soldiers oversees for, to protect our freedom.

I'm a war President! Those dirty A-rabs hate freedom! Filthy, no-good, stinkin' . . . now, what was I talkin' bout again? Oh, yeah. It's like I told those high-fallutin' reporters after my big impo'tant Cabinet meetin' today. "It's a budget that focuses on results. The taxpayers of America don't want us spending our money into something that's not achieving results."

For once, we agree. I hope Congress decides to can your ass, Dubya.


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Monday, February 07, 2005

What is Kyoto all about?

The Guardian has posted a brief description of the transition of Kyoto to international law. Yet another example of America standing alone as it insists on opposing the common good.


On February 16, one of the most controversial treaties in decades becomes part of international law. It has been heralded as a breakthrough in the fight against dangerous climate change and a triumph for international diplomacy - despite the fact that the US, the world's greatest emitter of greenhouse gases, refuses to take part.

The protocol, an addition to the Climate Change Convention negotiated at the Earth Summit in 1992, is the first legally binding international treaty on the environment. The convention placed an obligation on every country that signed it to reduce man-made greenhouse gas emissions but did not give any targets - so everyone agreed another agreement was needed.

Kyoto gives each of the industrialised countries of the world an individual limit to the greenhouse gas emissions they can make. The reductions overall are tiny compared with the cuts that scientists say are necessary to stabilise the climate. So will Kyoto really make a difference to whether global warming is contained; can it save the planet from the potential of runaway global warming that is being debated this week at the Hadley Centre for Climate Change in Exeter? Here we explain the nuts and bolts of Kyoto, how it works, and what it does.

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What difference does the US make?

The treaty immediately hit a snag because politicians in the US, the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, passed a vote in the Senate refusing to ratify the protocol. This was because they felt that China and other developing countries would gain a competitive advantage over them, because they would not have the costs of reducing emissions.

The snag could have been devastating because, under the rules negotiated in Kyoto, industrialised countries responsible for 55% of the emissions had to have their national parliaments ratify the convention before it could come into force. Since the US is responsible for 36% of the greenhouse gases from the industrialised world it meant that almost all the other countries which had agreed targets had to ratify the protocol before it could come into force.

Russia had doubts that the treaty was worthwhile without the United States, but without Moscow's agreement the treaty could not reach the 55% of emissions threshold. After two years of delays Russia ratified last December, bringing the emission total to 61%. Ninety days later, on February 16, it comes into legal force. Only four of the original 34 nations have refused to take part: the US (36.1% of the greenhouse gas emissions of the industrialised world), Australia (2.1%), Liechtenstein (.001%) and Monaco (.001%).


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The Endless War will continue with the Bombing of Iran

We'll be hearing more of this in the coming months. Of course Bush and Co. will plan in secret but the media will intensify the process of propagandizing the public in support of the next stop of the Middle East tour of destruction. Destruction? Did I say destruction? I meant freedom. I can already see the purple fingers in Iran.

Kurt Nimmo over at Another Day in the Empire suggests that the Bomb Iran Plan is Moving Right Along:

As expected, the Bush plan for attacking Iran is on schedule. “Experts from the U.S. Defense Department, the Pentagon and Israel have put final touches to a plan to launch a military strike targeting Iran’s nuclear facilities, experts at the European Commission based in Brussels, revealed on Sunday,” reports al-Jazeera.

“We have to be more pre-emptive on this committee to try to look ahead and determine our capabilities so that you don’t get stuck with a situation like you did with Iraq,” said Sen. Pat Roberts, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “The aim of the Senate review is to ensure that any weaknesses in American intelligence on Iran are being disclosed to policymakers, and that U.S. spy agencies have adequate resources to fill gaps in collecting information on the Islamic republic,” Roberts added.

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“Senator Roberts said the review would take place largely behind closed doors and that it was still in its early stages,” al-Jazeera noted. “According to committee aides, the review is not a formal investigation and that there are no plans to make its findings public.”

Predictably, the coming invasion and or undermining of Iran is being planned and conducted “behind closed doors,” since it has nothing to do with the American people—except they will be expected to pay for it and donate their lives or the lives of their sons and daughters. It is strictly and Israeli and Strausscon affair with a few Christian Zionists thrown in for spice.


As if the situation in Iraq were not enough. Let's hope that the anti-war movement kicks it up a notch. It's past time that we intensify the struggle. Or we could just let Bush run the country into the ground. Seriously. In terms of debt and inciting others to attack, Bush is doing a great job so perhaps anarchists and other enemies of the state should just sit back and let him push the empire to the point of collapse.

I've posted these words before and I probably will again:

"It does not matter if the war is not real. For when it is, victory is not possible. The war is not meant to be won, but it is meant to be continuous." "A hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance, this new version is the past and no different past can ever have existed. In principle the war effort is always planned to keep society on the brink of starvation. The war is waged by the ruling group against its own subjects and its object is not the victory over either Eurasia or east Asia but to keep the very structure of society in tact." -George Orwell's 1984


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Friday, February 04, 2005

Willful Ignorance

Hey, Paula Zahn, fuck you. Okay. I've already written once, no, twice, about the current situation with Ward Churchill but I'll go ahead and do it again. Fuck, I'll write about it every day.

Obviously I'm pissed and I thought twice about posting. It amazes me that these media fucks are so unwilling or unable to understand what Churchill is trying to communicate. It's really not that hard though which makes me think that media idiots like Paula Zahn really are stupid or they understand but would rather not deal with Churchill. Why? Because dealing with him and his arguments fairly means opening up a can of worms the size of a swimming pool. Again, for your reading enjoyment is Churchill's essay Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens. Also, here again is his response to recent events. The American media will do anything they can to avoid the argument Churchill makes. It's their job and function to do so. It follows that the majority of America will do exactly as expected: they also will turn away.

We can turn away from Churchill and his argument but doing so only allows our ignorance to persist which will lead to further tolerance and support of U.S. foreign policy. The result will likely be another 9-11. To that I can only say, the chickens will roost and none of us is innocent.

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"Some People Push Back" On the Justice of Roosting Chickens


roostingchickens.jpg
by Ward Churchill

When queried by reporters concerning his views on the assassination of John F. Kennedy in November 1963, Malcolm X famously – and quite charitably, all things considered – replied that it was merely a case of "chickens coming home to roost."

 On the morning of September 11, 2001, a few more chickens – along with some half-million dead Iraqi children – came home to roost in a very big way at the twin towers of New York's World Trade Center. Well, actually, a few of them seem to have nestled in at the Pentagon as well.

The Iraqi youngsters, all of them under 12, died as a predictable – in fact, widely predicted – result of the 1991 US "surgical" bombing of their country's water purification and sewage facilities, as well as other "infrastructural" targets upon which Iraq's civilian population depends for its very survival.


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Thursday, February 03, 2005

Climate change past the turning point?

First, the BBC is reporting that, according to a WWF study, we could see a Climate change 'disaster by 2026'


Dangerous levels of climate change could be reached in just over 20 years if nothing is done to stop global warming, a WWF study has warned.

At current rates, the earth will be 2C above pre-industrial levels some time between 2026 and 2060, says the report by Dr Mark New of Oxford University.

Temperatures in the Arctic could rise by three times this amount, it says.

It would lead to a loss of summer sea ice and tundra vegetation, with polar bears and other animals dying out.

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Dr New said: "A very robust result from global climate models is that warming due to greenhouse gases will reduce the amount of snow and ice cover in the Arctic, which will in turn produce an additional warming as more solar radiation is absorbed by the ground and the ocean."

Ice and snow reflect more solar radiation back to space than unfrozen surfaces.

According to the WWF, the perennial ice, or summer sea ice, is currently melting at a rate of 9.6% per decade and will disappear completely by the end of the century if this continues.

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Boreal forests would spread north and overwhelm up to 60% of dwarf shrub tundra, a critical habitat and vital breeding ground for many birds.

"If we don't act immediately the Arctic will soon become unrecognisable," said Dr Catarina Cardoso, head of climate change at WWF-UK.

"Polar bears will be consigned to history, something that our grandchildren can only read about in books."


Also of note, The Independent, by way of Common Dreams, reports that Global warming approaching point of no return:

Global warning has already hit the danger point that international attempts to curb it are designed to avoid, according to the world's top climate watchdog.

Dr Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the official Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), told an international conference attended by 114 governments in Mauritius this month that he personally believes that the world has "already reached the level of dangerous concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere" and called for immediate and "very deep" cuts in the pollution if humanity is to "survive".

His comments rocked the Bush administration - which immediately tried to slap him down - not least because it put him in his post after Exxon, the major oil company most opposed to international action on global warming, complained that his predecessor was too "aggressive" on the issue.

A memorandum from Exxon to the White House in early 2001 specifically asked it to get the previous chairman, Dr Robert Watson, the chief scientist of the World Bank, "replaced at the request of the US". The Bush administration then lobbied other countries in favor of Dr Pachauri - whom the former vice-president Al Gore called the "let's drag our feet" candidate, and got him elected to replace Dr Watson, a British-born naturalized American, who had repeatedly called for urgent action.

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And in November, a multi-year study by 300 scientists concluded that the Arctic was warming twice as fast as the rest of the world and that its ice-cap had shrunk by up to 20 per cent in the past three decades.

The ice is also 40 per cent thinner than it was in the 1970s and is expected to disappear altogether by 2070. And while Dr Pachauri was speaking parts of the Arctic were having a January "heatwave", with temperatures eight to nine degrees centigrade higher than normal.

He also cited alarming measurements, first reported in The Independent on Sunday, showing that levels of carbon dioxide (the main cause of global warming) have leapt abruptly over the past two years, suggesting that climate change may be accelerating out of control.

He added that, because of inertia built into the Earth's natural systems, the world was now only experiencing the result of pollution emitted in the 1960s, and much greater effects would occur as the increased pollution of later decades worked its way through. He concluded: "We are risking the ability of the human race to survive."


In related news a team of researchers have concluded that the American public has its collective head up its collective ass.

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Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Speaking of the First Amendment...

CNN reported a couple days ago on the disturbing results found by a study of high school students thoughts on the First Amendment. Not only does the study indicate a high level of ignorance of what the First Amendment is but it also seems to indicate that many students actually want government censorship of news stories.

While this is really disturbing it is not all that surprising. I'm certainly not an expert on the education process or the U.S. public "education" system but I've long thought that it is really a system of indoctrination. True, I'm basing this belief largely on my personal experience of the system followed by years of reflection on that experience as well as informal study of the system. That said, I think that this study reflects the validity of the idea that the public school system, as well as the larger social reality, is more a process of containment and control. Public education, along with the corporate media, are the major components of a larger information process which functions to set the parameters of our thought and activity. Thus we are "free" within those parameters.

Much of the literature surrounding the study is centered on journalism and media literacy within the school system. The idea there is that by involving students in the production of school media they will develop a better understanding and respect for the importance of the First Amendment. I'd suggest that this really is the bare minimum of what should be happening. If a society is to be democratic, in any meaningful sense of the word, it must allow for and encourage active participation in the processes of policy making as well as information distribution. Such participation should not be limited to a specific profession because it is the responsibility of each citizen to actively engage in the process of governance. I think this is where we find a solid contradiction between reality and what we are told is reality.

We are told that we are free and that we have a government by the people. The reality is that citizens are encouraged to be passive consumers rather than active participants. Think about what you believe the role of citizen to be. How would you define that role and how did you arrive at that understanding of citizenship? What did you learn about the responsibilities of citizenship in the school system? What is your memory of the structure of the classroom and the dynamics of the education process? Specifically, what do we learn of authority and our relationship to it? In what ways do freedom and democracy exist in school classrooms? In what ways are students encouraged to engage in self management in the process?

The original amendment to the Constitution is the cornerstone of the way of life in the United States, promising citizens the freedoms of religion, speech, press and assembly.

Yet, when told of the exact text of the First Amendment, more than one in three high school students said it goes "too far" in the rights it guarantees. Only half of the students said newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of stories.

"These results are not only disturbing; they are dangerous," said Hodding Carter III, president of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which sponsored the $1 million study. "Ignorance about the basics of this free society is a danger to our nation's future."
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Three in four students said flag burning is illegal. It's not. About half the students said the government can restrict any indecent material on the Internet. It can't.
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The survey, conducted by researchers at the University of Connecticut, is billed as the largest of its kind. More than 100,000 students, nearly 8,000 teachers and more than 500 administrators at 544 public and private high schools took part in early 2004.

The study suggests that students embrace First Amendment freedoms if they are taught about them and given a chance to practice them, but schools don't make the matter a priority.

Students who take part in school media activities, such as student newspapers or TV production, are much more likely to support expression of unpopular views, for example.
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More than one in five schools offer no student media opportunities; of the high schools that do not offer student newspapers, 40 percent have eliminated them in the last five years.


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Macintosh Consulting in St. Louis

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Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Richard Perle, Iraq, and other Neocon adventures


What do you know about the Project for the New American Century? I'd bet that very few Americans know much about the PNAC though it seems likely that we should. Speaking for myself I know far too little though I intend to do a bit of research over the next few weeks. I'm sure the information is available with a little digging on the internets. I'll start with William Fisher, who has a guest editorial over at Informed Comment:


Having fixed Iraq, Richard Perle is now ready to advise us on Iran...



He said: "Before we face war, there are things we can do today. Tens of millions of people are unhappy with Iran's theocracy. We should be providing material support to the opposition... Broadcasting... helping young Iranians who want to publish... helping students, trade unions... (This could) bring about regime change by Iranians for Iranians... (and it) could well take out the Mullahs... We should spread the demand for good governance."



Perle seemed eager to assign blame for the Iraqi occupation, which he said is "sadly misguided." The US "should have turned over Iraq to the Iraqis immediately" following Saddam's overthrow. We "should have been working with Iraqis" to expedite a quick and bloodless regime change." He added, "Failed military actions often can lead to destructive occupations."



Excuse me, but isn't "working with" Iraqis how we found Ahmed Chalabi?



Perle believes the US "can't exclude the possibility of military action elsewhere in the Middle East," he said, adding, "The Middle East is producing the vast amount of terrorists in the world. " He focused specifically on Syria, which he said is funding and encouraging the insurgency in Iraq.

...



But regardless of how our Iraq adventure turns out, one has to feel a sense of profound loss: The Prince of Darkness has become the Prince of Peace. Gone is the man who gave us "If we just let our vision of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely and we don't try to piece together clever diplomacy, but just wage a total war... our children will sing great songs about us years from now."



Or is he?



A few years ago, many of those who now serve George W Bush launched their "Project for the New American Century (PNAC)". Its stars included names like Elliott Abrams, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, James Woolsey, John Bolton, Douglas Feith and, of course, Perle. Its ideology was the proactive assertion of American power in the world. It believed that the kind of rhetoric we heard in the President's inaugural address was for real.



The PNAC said what America needed was "a new Pearl Harbor." A wake-up call to arms and manifest destiny. They wrote, they spoke, they circulated policy papers, they lobbied the corridors of Washington power. And absent 9/11, they might all just be doing the same old things. But Usama Bin Laden was the greatest gift the neocons ever got.



Then came Iraq.


I'm curious, did the PNAC ever actually say or write directly that America needed a new Pearl Harbor? It wouldn't surprise me though it disgusts me nonetheless.


Reading through the internets over the past few days, I'm reminded of how quickly people will accept the "truth" that they see broadcast by the corporate media. It's nothing new, but the non-critical acceptance of the corporate media's message by the majority of Americans is just idiotic. Are we that easy to emotionally manipulate? Are we really that eager to believe what we're told?


Yes. Yes we are.


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Ward Churchill, context of argument, and the First Amendment

The AP is reporting that Ward Churchill's appearance at Hamilton College has been canceled. Supposedly the event was cancelled due to death threats though it seems likely that it could also be a desire by the college to avoid further controversy. Regardless, it's quite sad that Americans are unable or unwilling to respect their own First Amendment. It's sad that they are unable or unwilling to rationally engage thoughtful critiques such as the one put forth by Churchill. Instead, they fail to investigate the full context of the arguments which leads to a rushed judgment which is not fully informed. Is that the best way to learn about the world we live in?

The governor of Colorado even went so far as to call for Churchill's resignation from his faculty position at a college in that state. What!? That is ridiculous. What is going on in this country? Are we that afraid of unfamiliar ideas or ideas that we disagree with?

You can get the full text of Churchill's response to read for yourself. Here's an excerpt:

In the last few days there has been widespread and grossly inaccurate media coverage concerning my analysis of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, coverage that has resulted in defamation of my character and threats against my life. What I actually said has been lost, indeed turned into the opposite of itself, and I hope the following facts will be reported at least to the same extent that the fabrications have been.

* The piece circulating on the internet was developed into a book, On the Justice of Roosting Chickens. Most of the book is a detailed chronology of U.S. military interventions since 1776 and U.S. violations of international law since World War II. My point is that we cannot allow the U.S. government, acting in our name, to engage in massive violations of international law and fundamental human rights and not expect to reap the consequences.

* I am not a "defender"of the September 11 attacks, but simply pointing out that if U.S. foreign policy results in massive death and destruction abroad, we cannot feign innocence when some of that destruction is returned. I have never said that people "should" engage in armed attacks on the United States, but that such attacks are a natural and unavoidable consequence of unlawful U.S. policy. As Martin Luther King, quoting Robert F. Kennedy, said, "Those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable."

* This is not to say that I advocate violence; as a U.S. soldier in Vietnam I witnessed and participated in more violence than I ever wish to see. What I am saying is that if we want an end to violence, especially that perpetrated against civilians, we must take the responsibility for halting the slaughter perpetrated by the United States around the world.


Found via this post at Green Ink.

Also, the original essay is available: Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens

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