Saturday, September 22, 2007

How Chinese Military Hackers Took Over A Nuclear-Armed B52

The story sounded like a sequel to “Dr. Strangelove”. Leaked by the Pentagon's news service, Military Affairs to quell scuttlebutt racing through the ranks-and perhaps warn the world-a U.S. Air Force B-52 strategic bomber “mistakenly” loaded with six nuclear cruise missiles took off from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota on August 30, 2007 and flew for more than three hours over at least five states, before landing at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.

The mistake was so egregious, the National Command Authority comprising President George BU.S.h and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates were quickly informed. The SecDef has since been assured that nuclear weapons “were part of a routine transfer between the two bases… at no time was the public in danger.”

Both statements are false.

In fact, nuclear weapons like these are carefully crated for shipment between bases, and placed inside the bomb bays or cargo compartments of transporting aircraft. In stunning contrast, this reporter has learned from two independent and highly placed sources that the six Advanced Cruise Missiles dangling from the B-52's fatigued and flexible wings were fully armed and ready to fire-except for a single fail/safe switch under the Command Pilot's control.

The quickly blacked out episode has prompted an Air Force investigation. Gates, whose official defense computer was hacked last June, necessitating the shutdown of the entire SecDef network, has ordered daily briefings on the Air Force inquiry. The Minot base commander, who might turn out to be the hero in this frightening affair, was relieved of his command.....

http://www.willthomasonline.net/willthomasonline/Command_Override.html

Germany: Staff of occupied bicycle factory take up production

Germany, FAU-IAA: Staff of occupied bicycle factory in the Thuringian
Nordhausen take up production in self-management
20 Sep 2007

Freie Arbeiterinnen- und Arbeiter-Union Fettstr. 23, 20357 Hamburg -
http://www.fau.org FAU-IAA Pressrelease ----- Hamburg/Nordhausen, 19th
of September in 2007:

Staff of occupied bicycle factory in the Thuringian Nordhausen take up
production in self-management again The 135 colleagues of the bicycle
factory Bike Systems GmbH in the Thuringian Nordhausen, who keep the
factory occupied since 10th of July 2007, decided to resume the
production of bicycles in self-management. For this aim 1,800 binding
orders on bicycles must be received till 2nd of October
. So the
collegues are working together with the anarcho-syndicalist union FAU
(Freie Arbeiterinnen- und Arbeiter-Union -- Free Workers-Union), which
formed for this campaign the internetpage http://www.strike-bike.de.
Since more than two month the staff keep the factory in the south of
Harz Mountains in three shifts occupied. They want to prevent the
definite dismantling and sale of the factory. The file for bankruptcy
from 10th of august is against long odds: The factory is exploited and
ran down, the hall was emptied except for the coating line. The staff
receives unemployment compensation and hopes for a new concept and a new
investor.

The "Strike Bike" -- Solidarity-Bikes from Nordhausen

In the time of occupation and in the wake of discussions during the
visits of solidarity people, the colleagues of the factory developed the
idea to initially take up the production in self-management for a short
time. Because it's not the point to only prevent the evacuation of the
last machines and to wait for a new investor, the idea of an own
”Strike-Bike“ meet with more and more response. Now the opportunity
arises to show the ability to develop an own concept and to self-manage
production and distribution.

If it goes well to collect 1,800 advance orders for the bicycles
produced in self-direction, we spread solidary ideas and bolster the
colleagues in similar situations, not to let themselves easily being
restructured to zero. By whomsoever!

The staff gets assistancy by the solidary members of anarcho-syndicalist
union Freie Arbeiterinnen- und Arbeiter-Union (Free workers-union),
which will become active in whole germany to spread the knowledge of the
struggle of the bicycle-workers and to support the sale of the
"Strike-Bike."

More Informations can be received at: http://www.strike-bike.de
for background informations and history of the occupation
http://www.labournet.de/branchen/sonstige/fahrzeug/bikesystems.html

To get in contact with the staff and to take orders

»Bikes in Nordhausen e.V.«
c/o. Andrι Kegel,
Bruno-Kunze-Str. 39 - 99734 Nordhausen
Telefon: 03631 - 622 124 and 03631 - 403 591
Fax: 03631 - 622 170
eMail: fahrradwerk@gmx.de

For further informations about the campaign of the FAU-Strike
Bike-Solidaritygroup:
Spokesperson:
Folkert Mohrhof
- mobile 0179-4863252 and ...
respectively monday till friday from 10 am till 3 pm:
+49 40 - 20 90 68 96
 
--
Dan Clore
News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo

Iran Threats / Gaza Crisis

STEPHEN ZUNES, zunes@usfca.edu,
http://www.stephenzunes.org
    Middle East editor for Foreign Policy in Focus, Zunes said:
"[Iranian] General [Mohammed] Alavi's comment regarding Iran's
contingency plans to attack Israel with air and missile raids was
explicitly in reference to how Iran would respond if attacked by Israeli
forces. Despite White House claims to the contrary, Iran was simply
re-stating the policy it has in common with most countries: if a foreign
power attacks your country, you defend yourself by attacking them as
well. Israel has certainly made clear its willingness to do so if
attacked by Iran. Why does Washington find this Iranian position so
surprising or provocative?"
    Zunes is a professor of politics at the University of San Francisco
and the author of "Tinderbox: U.S. Middle East Policy and the Roots of
Terrorism."
    The U.K.-based Center for International Studies and Diplomacy has
recently released a paper regarding U.S. plans for a possible attack on
Iran titled "Considering a War with Iran."
http://www.cisd.soas.ac.uk/index.asp-Q-Page-E-disarmament-and-globalisation--27216738

SARA ROY, sroy@fas.harvard.edu, http://www.counterpunch.org/roy10042006.html
    The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports that the Israeli government
has decided that it "would disrupt electricity and fuel supplies" to
Gaza. The United Nations Secretary General, Ban-Ki Moon, said Wednesday:
"Such a step would be contrary to Israel's obligations towards the
civilian population under international humanitarian and human rights
law." http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/905693.html
Senior research scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at
Harvard University, Roy is author of "The Gaza Strip: The Political
Economy of De-Development" and "Failing Peace: Gaza and the
Palestinian-Israeli Conflict."
    Roy said: "It is false to say that Hamas controls Gaza and Fatah
controls the West Bank. ... Israel controls all borders and hence, the
economy, all demographic and commercial movement, water and airspace.
Despite its 'disengagement' Israel still occupies Gaza as it does the
West Bank, where Israeli settlements and their infrastructure, and the
separation wall are the primary expressions of Israeli domination. It is
the occupation -- which gave rise to Hamas -- that is conveniently
overlooked, indeed forgotten, by many observers in the U.S."

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167.
Institute for Public Accuracy
915 National Press Building, Washington, D.C. 20045
(202) 347-0020 * http://www.accuracy.org * ipa@accuracy.org

Fujimori to stand trial in Peru

SANTIAGO (AFP) - Former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori lost a long
legal battle Friday as Chile's Supreme Court ordered his extradition to
Peru to face trial on corruption and human rights abuses.

The decision, which cannot be appealed, will send Fujimori back to his
home country after seven years in exile to stand trial over alleged
massacres and rampant graft during his 1990-2000 rule.

"We have awarded the extradition," announced judge Alberto Chaigneau,
adding the court's decision was based on the weight of one human rights
charge -- covering two separate massacres -- and six corruption charges.

In Peru, rights groups and relatives of victims of Fujimori's regime
hailed the ruling while the government promised a fair trial.

Human Rights Watch called the decision an unprecedented step forward
for international justice.

"This is the first time that a court has ordered the extradition of a
former head of state to be tried for gross human rights violations in
his home country," the US-based organization said in a statement.

"After years of evading justice, Fujimori will finally have to respond
to the charges and evidence against him in the country he used to run
like a mafia boss," said HRW's Americas director Jose Miguel Vivanco,
who was in Santiago for the announcement.

Under house arrest in Santiago since 2005, Fujimori, 69, fled Peru in
2000 to Japan amid a corruption scandal and resigned by fax from a
Tokyo hotel.

Once known as a master strategist, Fujimori appeared to have
miscalculated when he was detained in Chile in 2005 on his way to Peru
hoping to make a political comeback.
Instead of a triumphant return to Peru as a candidate, he will now be
coming back to stand trial on grave charges he backed death squads that
killed civilians, and misused public funds. He faces up to 30 years in
jail for the human rights charges and 10 for the accusations of
corruption.

As Chile prepared to transfer Fujimori later Friday by land and air,
Peru welcomed the ruling, pledging a fair legal process and dignified
treatment for the ex-president during his detention.

"The next step is to bring him to Lima and to offer guarantees of a
fair trial," Peruvian Foreign Minister Jose Garcia Belaunde told CPN
radio.

He said the Chilean Supreme Court had carried out its work with
"responsibility, seriousness and independence."

Fujimori was officially notified of the court decision in Santiago and
his defense lawyer said he had accepted the ruling.

The ex-president said after the decision he had believed he would be
extradited on fewer charges, but said he would prove his innocence.

"According to my calculations there were four (charges for
extradition) ... but I am certain and secure in addressing the actions
of my government in this trial and will emerge with honor," Fujimori
said in a radio interview from the Santiago residence where he has been
under house arrest.

Lima has accused him of responsibility in the 1992 massacre by state
forces of nine students at La Cantuta University, and the 1991 killing
of 15 people in a neighborhood of Lima, blamed on a military death
squad.

The acts were carried out by the army's Colina Group squadron during
the Fujimori government's bloody campaign against the Maoist Shining
Path insurgency.

He also faces a range of corruption charges, including misusing 15
million dollars in public funds.

Peruvian Prime Minister Jorge del Castillo vowed his government would
not politicize the case and said Fujimori should be treated with
"equity and justice."

Anti-corruption prosecutor Carlos Briceno said the trial would take
three to four months but would not say precisely where Fujimori would
be held.

Chile's high court judges had reviewed the Fujimori case after a single
judge ruled in July in Fujimori's favor against the extradition.

Born to Japanese emigrant parents, Fujimori spent five years in Japan
after fleeing Peru in 2000.

He had risen from obscurity as an little-known academic to capture the
presidency in 1990, defeating renowned writer Mario Vargas Llosa, who
was heavily favored in opinion polls.

A divisive figure, his tough crackdown against the Shining Path
insurgents won him loyal supporters but he was criticized for his
authoritarian style.

Japan, which confirmed Fujimori's citizenship, consistently refused
extradition requests from Lima before he flew unannounced to Chile in
2005 to launch another bid for Peru's presidency.
 

Dehumanizing the Palestinians

By Ali Abunimah

The Israeli cabinet has voted to declare the occupied Gaza Strip a
"hostile entity," thus in its own eyes permitting itself to cut off
the already meagre supplies of food, water, electricity and fuel
that it allows the Strip's inmates to receive. The decision was
quickly given backing by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Israel is the occupying power in the Gaza Strip, despite having
removed its settlers in 2005 and transforming the area, home to 1.5
million mostly refugee Palestinians, into the world's largest
open-air prison which it besieges and fires into from the perimeter.
Under international law Israel is responsible for the well-being of
the people whose lives and land it rules.

There have been barely audible bleats of protest from the UN
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon ("Such a step would be contrary to
Israel's obligations towards the civilian population under
international humanitarian and human rights law") and the European
Union ("The [European] Commission hopes that Israel will not find it
necessary to implement the measures for which the [cabinet]
decisions set the framework yesterday."

What? It hopes that Israel will not find it necessary to cut off
water supplies to 1.5 million people of whom half are children?

These statements serve only to underline that Israel operates in a
context where the "international community" has become inured to a
discourse of extermination of the Palestinian people -- political
and physical.

Yossi Alpher, for example, a former director of the Jaffee Center
for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University and once a special
adviser to former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak, argued coolly
this week that Israel should murder the democratically-elected
leaders who won the Palestinian legislative election in January 2006
-- calling for "decapitating the Hamas leadership, both military and
'civilian.'" True, he admitted, there would be a possible downside:
"Israel would again undoubtedly pay a price in terms of
international condemnation, particularly if innocent civilians were
killed," and because "Israel would presumably be targeting legally
elected Hamas officials who won a fair election." Nevertheless, such
condemnation would be quickly forgotten and, he argued, "this is a
mode of retaliation and deterrence whose effectiveness has been
proven," and thus, this is "an option worth reconsidering."

Alpher incited the murder of democratically-elected politicians not
in a fringe, right-wing journal, but in the European Union-funded
online newsletter Bitterlemons, which he co-founded along with
former Palestinian Authority minister Ghassan Khatib. What journal
would publish a call by a Palestinian -- or anyone else -- to murder
the Israeli prime minister? Alpher presumably does not worry that he
will be denied visas to travel to conferences in the European Union,
or will fail to receive invitations to American universities.
History tells us that he can feel confident he will suffer no
consequences. Indeed, in the current political climate, any attempt
to exclude Alpher might even be cast as an attack on academic
freedom!

Declarations that reduce Palestinians to bare biological life that
can be extinguished without any moral doubt are not isolated
exceptions. In May, as reported by The Jerusalem Post, Israel's
former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu issued a religious
ruling to the prime minister "that there was absolutely no moral
prohibition against the indiscriminate killing of civilians during a
potential massive military offensive on Gaza aimed at stopping the
rocket launchings" (See "Top Israeli rabbis advocate genocide," The
Electronic Intifada, 31 May 2007). I could find no statement by any
prominent Israeli figure condemning Eliyahu's ruling.

And, in a September 6 blog posting, an advisor to leading US
Republican Presidential hopeful Rudolph Giuliani argued for
"shutting off utilities to the Palestinian Authority as well as a
host of other measures, such as permitting no transportation in the
PA of people or goods beyond basic necessities, implementing the
death penalty against murderers, and razing villages from which
attacks are launched." This, the advisor stated, would "impress
Palestinians with the Israeli will to survive, and so bring closer
their eventual acceptance of the Jewish state." (See: "Giuliani
Advisor: Raze Palestinian Villages," by Ken Silverstein, Harper's
Magazine, 14 September 2007) Giuliani faced no calls from other
candidates to dismiss the advisor for advocating ethno-religiously
motivated war crimes. Indeed the presence of such a person in his
campaign might even be an electoral asset.

The latest Israeli government declaration comes as Palestinians this
week marked the 25th anniversary of the massacres in Sabra and
Shatila refugee camps in Beirut, in which the Israeli occupation
army and political leadership were full participants. We can reflect
that Israel's dehumanization of Palestinians and other Arabs, its
near daily killing of children, destruction of communities and
racist apartheid against millions of people has been so normalized
that if those massacres occurred today Israel would not need to go
through the elaborate exercise of denying its culpability. Indeed,
the "international community" might barely notice.

[Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah is author of One
Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse
(Metropolitan Books, 2006). ]
 

Angry activists confront Greenspan

WeAreChange Unmask Former Federal Reserve Chair's Role in Globalist
Takeover and Currency Assassination

Aaron Dykes

Activists angry at Alan Greenspan's recent deliberate attack on the
U.S. dollar -- which has already resulted in further devaluation and
asset seizure by foreign entities-- gathered at an event in New York
to confront the former Federal Reserve Chairman on his shameful
actions in contributing to a dollar collapse.

Members of WeAreChange.org were grabbed by police and forced out of
the building after criticizing Greenspan for "destroying the country."
Individuals who waited in line to ask Greenspan a question were told
that there were "no interviews" by event handlers, who then signaled
for police to take over.

Nate Evans was grabbed by more than four officers after criticizing
the "Federal" private bank Greenspan previously headed. Other
activists confronted Alan Greenspan as he left the event, giving him a
public shaming for acting on behalf of his globalist masters.

While the globalist-controlled mainstream media rewards economic
sabotage by portraying Greenspan and other financiers as economic
'saviors,' it is refreshing to know that many others are standing up
in defiance of deliberate devaluation.

Congressman Ron Paul ripped into current Federal Reserve Chairman Ben
Bernanke yesterday for intentionally weakening the dollar and
misleading the public when his sole function is supposed to be
maintaining the value of the dollar....
 

State Dept. vs. the Pentagon on Iraq

A disturbing bit of news in the New York Sun today: Eli Lake reports that the Sunni sheik who was assassinated Thursday was supposed to be in the United States last week, but his trip was delayed. The State Department says a problem with the paperwork held up the visa, but a military official told Lake that State Department officials deliberately sabotaged the trip....

.....I asked a former State Department official who currently works for the Pentagon if there was a danger that this sort of infighting could undermine Gen. Petraeus's strategy. He said that as long as Petraeus had the full support of the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, dissent at Foggy Bottom would likely remain limited to these sorts of petty squabbles. "[Crocker] isn’t doing one thing that hasn’t been approved by the Secretary of State," he said. "There are debates within the State Department, of course, but Condi Rice has made the decision and Ambassador Crocker is being a loyal soldier.

"Dissent within the State Department, particularly from a guy who doesn’t like the administration, who goes outside the policy and tries to put focus on himself, there’s nothing unusual about it," he said, adding that most career diplomats were Democrats. "If you don’t have dissent at the State Department, there’s probably a Democrat in office."

http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=YTU2YzgxNTc3YzcwYjZhMDQ2NWQ0YzY2NjVmN2FiYjA=

Murdered Sunni Sheik Was Set To Visit U.S.

By ELI LAKE
Staff Reporter of the Sun
September 18, 2007

WASHINGTON — The Iraqi Sunni sheik credited with sparking the rebellion against Al Qaeda — and who was murdered Thursday — was scheduled to visit Washington last week, according to two American officials and an Iraqi politician close to the slain leader.

Yesterday, a State Department spokesman confirmed that Sheik Abdul Sattar al-Rishawi had applied for a visa to visit Washington. "We cleared him with absolutely no reservations, and the visa was being held up due to paperwork with the application and sponsor," the spokesman said.

Sheik Abdul Sattar, or as Iraqis called him, Abu Risha, was the leader of the Anbar Awakening, a political front that President Bush and General David Petraeus credit with driving Al Qaeda from its base in Anbar province this year. The late sheik was also emerging as a national Sunni politician who could provide Iraqis an alternative to the corrupted Sunni Tawafuq faction that started a boycott of the government in August. The Tawafuq bloc comprises three Sunni fundamentalist Muslim parties that have called for a withdrawal of American troops and supported violence against American troops. Some of the party's leadership has been implicated in acts of terrorism.

An American military official yesterday said the delay in Abu Risha's visa was in part political. This source pinned the decision to scuttle the trip on senior leaders at the State Department. However, the State Department spokesman yesterday dismissed the charge.

According to the military official, the State Department in particular is wary of following through too much on General David Petraeus's "bottom up" strategy. "There were howls of complaints when Abu Risha met with President Bush over Labor Day," this official said. "The truth of the matter is that the more we strengthen the tribes, the less cooperation we are going to get from the Sunnis in Baghdad."

Last week, the American ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, pointed to ad hoc efforts from the government of Prime Minister al-Maliki to share oil revenue with the Sunni-dominated Anbar province in the absence of an oil law, one of the key political benchmarks for the Iraqi government that remains unfulfilled.

An independent Iraqi parliamentarian, Mithal al-Alusi, who was an ally of the Anbari sheik, yesterday confirmed that Abu Risha intended to travel to America with a delegation. Mr. Alusi said Abu Risha had intended to make the case to Congress last week for the same strategic patience counseled by General Petraeus.

Mr. Alusi also said that in August, Abu Risha said he hoped to be martyred, or made a shahid. "I met with him in August at Ibrahim Jaafari's house for dinner in Baghdad in the Green Zone, and he said to me, ‘I wish to have the honor to be a shahid before you.' From his understanding, I am a target for the terrorists, he is a target of the terrorists, so we were allies."

Mr. Alusi said the process for even Iraqi parliamentarians to receive a visa to travel to America is frustrating. "The visa issue in Baghdad is very terrible, it now takes weeks to get a visa even if you are a politician going back to the Iraqi governing council. If I ask for a visa, it takes at least three weeks until I have it, maybe more," he said.

Yesterday, the spokesman for Multinational Forces Iraq, Navy Rear Admiral Mark Fox, told reporters that coalition forces had tracked down a suspect in the assassination....

http://www.nysun.com/article/62864

 

Dan Rather : 'Somebody's got to take a stand..."

Dan Rather : 'Somebody's got to take a stand and say democracy cannot survive... with government interference in news'

09/21/2007

Filed by Mike Aivaz and Muriel Kane
 
 
Former CBS anchor Dan Rather recently filed a $70 million lawsuit against CBS, saying they made him a "scapegoat" when he was fired for a September 2004 story on 60 Minutes about President Bush's unsatisfactory service in the Texas Air National Guard.
 

When Rather appeared on Larry King's program Thursday, King began by showing him a 2005 clip of himself saying, "I'm not a victim of anything except my own shortcomings."

But he added, "Somebody, sometime has got to take a stand and say democracy cannot survive, much less thrive with the level of big corporate and big government interference and intimidation in news."

"I've learned a good deal since that time," said Rather. "It's reported that Sumner Redstone [president of Viacom] ... was described as being enraged that the news division, this story, had cost Viacom and CBS in Washington, and he wanted Dan Rather and everybody connected with it out."

"They sacrificed support for independent journalism for corporate financial gain, and in so doing, I think they undermined a lot at CBS News," he said.

Rather said he still believes the 60 Minutes report was correct. "[CBS] sacrificed support for independent journalism for corporate financial gain," he stated, "and in so doing I think they undermined a lot at CBS News."

"Nobody to this day has shown that these documents were fraudulent," continued Rather, referring to the disputed memos featured in the 60 Minutes story. "Nobody has proved that they were fraudulent, much less a forgery. ... The truth of this story stands up to this day." Rather added that he believed somebody with subpoena power could get to the bottom of the matter pretty quickly.

The following video is from CNN's Larry King Live, broadcast on September 20, 2007....

http://rawstory.com//news/2007/Dan_Rather_talks_about_Bush_AWOL_0921.html
 

Ingushetia is not Chechnya II...

...But Possibly Something Worse
 
Vienna, September 13 – Most commentators on the upsurge in violence in Ingushetia have suggested that this North Caucasus republic is set to become the next Chechnya. But two of the more thoughtful argue instead that Ingushetia is not Chechnya, with one of them suggesting that it represents something far more dangerous....
 

Vanessa Redgrave Combines Lifelong Devotion to Acting and Political Involvement in New HBO Film "The Fever"

Vanessa Redgrave in an excerpt from 'The Fever':
 
"The people who have a little determine a little, and the people who have a lot determine a lot, and the people who have nothing, determine nothing. And the workers obey the instructions of the money. Money tells some of them to grow rice and transport it to places where children are starving, and it tells others to sew costumes and repair violins. And each day there is an amazing moment before the day starts, before the market opens, before the bidding begins. There's a moment of confusion. The money is silent. It hasn't yet spoken. Its decisions are withheld, poised, perched"
 
...more
 

UN talks achieve faster phaseout of ozone-depleting HCFCs

 Montreal ­ Delegates at the United Nations climate conference in Montreal reached a landmark deal late Friday to accelerate by a decade the phaseout of ozone-depleting chemicals. The new timetable agreed by environment ministers and high-level officials from 191 countries, meeting under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), calls for the eventual phaseout of ozone-damaging chemicals known as hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) by developing countries by 2030.

Developed countries will accelerate their phase-out and are expected to complete it by 2020.

Canadian Environment Minister John Baird, who addressed the late- night meeting, called the occasion "a historic night."

European Union chief negotiator Marianne Wenning said that the agreement was a significant step to both protect the ozone layer and fight climate change.

"We feel that the achievement of an early phaseout of HCFCs is another historic moment in the life of the Montreal Protocol," Wenning said.

The new agreement will amend the calendar established by the 1987 Montreal Protocol, which had called for developed countries to stop using ozone-damaging chemicals found in many refrigerators, air conditioning units and hairspray by 2030, and for developing nations to follow suit by 2040.

Lambert Kuijpers, co-chair of UNEP's Technology and Economic Assessment Panel, said the biggest achievement was getting China on board.

"HCFCs had seen a very big growth in the developing countries, especially in China," he said. "China represents 80 per cent of HCFC consumption among developing countries, so China has been the player in these negotiations."

Wenning said the agreement came after a tough and grueling round of negotiations, as China and other developing countries sought assurances that developed countries will contribute enough money to a multilateral fund to ease the financial burdens of switching to new technologies.

"It was a very tough but a very fair discussion," Wenning said. "And in the end, after long hours of disagreements, I'm very happy that we all came to a compromise that serves us well."

Durwood Zaelke, president of the Washington-based Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, an environmental research and advocacy group, said that accelerating the ban on HCFCs will have a positive effect not only on the ozone layer that protects the Earth from harmful solar radiation but also greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.

"We have on the table 25 billion tons of CO2-equivalent that we can capture with this decision," Zaelke said. "This represents five times what the Kyoto Protocol asks their parties for the first commitment period from 2008-2012."

Between 1990 and 2002, the Montreal Protocol has already reduced climate emissions as a co-benefit by 135 billion tons of CO2- equivalent, Zaelke said.

"That has delayed climate change by up to 12 years," he said.

The HCFCs came to replace more dangerous chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

In the 1980s, a series of international treaties culminating with the 1987 Montreal Protocol banned the use of CFCs, after scientists connected CFCs to holes being arising in the ozone, the atmospheric layer that screens out ultraviolet radiation. The chemicals were considered a contributor to higher solar radiation exposure and greater growth and severity of human skin cancer.

As an interim measure to replace CFCs, the chemical industry developed hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) for use in refrigeration, air conditioning, foam production and other applications.

Meanwhile, climbing temperatures and world affluence have vastly increased demand for air conditioning, boosting production of HCFCs and their associated risks. HCHCs erode the ozone layer, if to a lesser extent than CFCs, and also produce a harmful carbon emission called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which contribute to global warming, Kuijpers said.
 

The Oldest Living Participatory Democracy on Earth

 The people of the Six Nations, also known by the French term, Iroquois Confederacy, call themselves the Hau de no sau nee (ho dee noe sho nee) meaning People Building a Long House. Located in the northeastern region of North America, originally the Six Nations was five and included the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas. The sixth nation, the Tuscaroras, migrated into Iroquois country in the early eighteenth century. Together these peoples comprise the oldest living participatory democracy on earth. Their story, and governance truly based on the consent of the governed, contains a great deal of life-promoting intelligence for those of us not familiar with this area of American history. The original United States representative democracy, fashioned by such central authors as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, drew much inspiration from this confederacy of nations. In our present day, we can benefit immensely, in our quest to establish anew a government truly dedicated to all life's liberty and happiness much as has been practiced by the Six Nations for over 800 hundred years.... [much more]
 

The End Of The World?

By William M. H. Kötke

12 September, 2007

We are all looking at the end of the world as we know it. Our attention is focused on the holes in the ozone layer, planet warming, peak oil, the spread of DU weapons, the collapse of the house of credit cards, and the prospect of the planetary financial elite quickly establishing fascist control of the planet. Below this threshold of conscious awareness our biological survival systems are rapidly eroding. At this point some twenty percent of the planet’s soils erode each twenty-five year period. Each year at least two hundred thousand acres of irrigated crop-lands go out of production because of salinization or water-logging and experts say that sixty to eighty percent of all irrigated acreage is due to follow the eight to ten million acres that have historically gone into ruination from irrigation. The total drylands of the planet are 7.9 billion acres of which 61% are desertified, that is, driven by human abuse toward uselessness. Globally, 23% of all arable crop lands have been lost since 1945 through human use and experts say that all arable land on the planet will be ruined in 200 years.

It is estimated that prior to the human culture that we term civilization, one third of the planet was covered with closed canopy forest. Now forests cover 10% of the earth. In the oceans the collapse of major fish stocks is increasing. At least eight stocks have collapsed beginning with the Antarctic Blue Whale in 1935 to the Peruvian Anchovy stock collapse in the late twentieth century. Since 1984 the world fish catch has been shrinking even with greater investment and the taking of what in former times were considered “trash” fish. Of the 32 ocean fisheries, 30 are in decline and some of those are collapsing. At the same time coral reefs and mangrove swamps which are considered the “incubators” of sea life are dwindling precipitously.

Soil is the basis of the planetary terrestrial life. In the best of circumstances such as old growth forests and prairies, soil builds at the rate of one inch each three hundred to a thousand years. It is being exhausted and is eroding away. The way that the industrial system has continued to increase the food supply is by trading off soil fertility for fossil fuel energy through artificial fertilizers. Now, nearly half of the world’s people eat because of the added production of food caused by artificial fertilizers being injected into depleted soils and the use of all of the other accouterments of fossil- fueled industrial agriculture.. Half of the planetary population are hanging out on a limb essentially eating petroleum! Now as the population continues to explode we reach peak oil and its decline. We do not need to continue filling in the details. Our intellect can draw the conclusion for us. An exponentially exploding world population with increasing material consumption, based on dwindling resources and a dying planet, won’t work!

But this is not a new phenomenon as some would assume. This culture of civilization, of empire, was an ecological catastrophe when it began some eight thousand years ago. It is this culture and its inculcated reality-view that is the disaster. Half of China was once a great temperate zone forest. That forest was gone before recorded history, destroyed by the Han Chinese Empire. The Indus River Valley Empire had ecologically destroyed its habitat before recorded history. We do have recorded history of the Sumerian and Babylonian empires. We know they decimated the forests and overgrazed the landscape. One third of the land in Iraq that should be arable right now is still so salinized from imperial irrigation four and five thousand years ago that it cannot be used. The erosion material coming down the Tigris and Euphrates rivers from that destroyed watershed has filled in 185 miles of the gulf. As we follow the history of this type of human culture we find the Mid-East ecologically denuded. The empires of Greece and Rome used Turkey and North Africa as “breadbaskets.” Now, there are towns in Turkey, North Africa and even in Italy that were port cities during those empires which are now ten and fifteen miles from the water - all filled in with erosion material from the ecologically destroyed landscapes. Then we go on to the destruction of the great forests of Europe and now the whole world. These examples and many more are indelible effects on the world ecosystem which have not recovered in thousands of years.

The Success of the Human Species

Are humans a failed species? Is it what some Natives Americans have said, “very shrewd but no wisdom?” When we look around the biosphere we see that most other species devote much of their life energies to birthing, raising and protecting their progeny. In this respect, civilized humans are a failed species. They can’t even keep the planet alive for their descendants. But humans have been a marvelously successful species. For several million years we existed as forager/hunters. We lived in balance with the ecosystem, migrating in our traditional patterns around our areas gathering the fruits of the earth. We were adapted to the planetary life. We developed astonishing oral literatures, we developed a rich cultural life. Anthropology says that each forager/hunter worked an average of 500 hours per year obtaining the necessaries of life. Traditional agriculturalists like the Hopi or Balinese worked 1,000 hours per year and had shorter life spans. Now the modern industrial person works 2,000 hours per year on average and only stay alive because they have health insurance. Anthropology says that the forager/hunters (even those still remaining) have almost perfect health.

They also had a rich culture. They didn’t simply sit around the campfire but created voluminous oral literature, great works of art as handcrafts and a rich ceremonial life of the tribe. Our species lived with the living earth. We had wide knowledge of the living things around us and we respected life. Such a grotesque event as killing thousands of buffalo simply to take their tongues or hides away to market and to leave the carcasses to rot were an act that was inconceivably inhuman in the eyes of a forager/hunter.

Our ancestors were well fed with a widely varied diet. Anthropologists studying the !Kung Bushmen of the inhospitable Kalahari Desert in Southern Africa say that each person’s daily protein intake was more than Britain and exceeded by only ten industrial countries. The proportion of men and women over sixty was only ten percent smaller than industrial countries. Forager/hunters who lived in more luxurious ecosystems did even better. This means that most of the people of the third world and the poor of the first world do not even have the living standards of the !Kung Bushmen and for eight thousand years, all of those who did breast beating about the superiority of “civilization” did not even come up to the living standards of free living forager/hunters - talk about being sold a bill of goods!

For 99% of the time our species has lived successfully in balance with the energy flows of the earth. The soil community with its millions of inhabitants provides a milieu in which plant roots can absorb nutrients that are in solution. The plant community sheds leaves and other organic debris onto the soil which feeds it as it is eaten by the “decomposers.” This cycling of biological energy is then extrapolated to the cycles of life of all the other biological entities of the ecosystem through the food chains and other services species do for each other in what is an energy flow system with photosynthesis as the primary motor. This is the energy flow system that our species was adapted to for an untold period of time. Being a small nomadic group (average of 28 people according to anthropology) we had a cooperative culture, a sharing culture and being migratory we only carried necessary items so that materialism, the accumulation and adulation of material goods, did not occur.

The Inversion

Then in Central Asia and Northern China, humans began to destroy the living planet with agriculture and herding. The military based empires began to grow by running a net deficit of the earth’s fertility - a human culture based in looting, thievery. This culture began then, in just an eye blink of time, just eight to ten thousand years, and the energy adaptation changed. Humans began civis, towns, the root of the word civilization. Male dominance - patriarchy, the horse and militarism became rooted in the soil, to grow based on sucking out the fertility of the earth. This culture was, in its origin, a culture of coercion based upon biological slaves such as annual plants and domesticated animals and human slaves, in order to extort fertility from the earth. The ecological history of empire is there for all to see. We no longer gather the fruits of the earth, we force the earth to give up surpluses, profits, until the earth can no longer, then we move on. This is the culture of empire, a culture of growth and imbalance. Its main tenets are patriarchy, hierarchy, materialism, and militarism. The configuration of the imperial system is: an Emperor (male), surrounded by a small financial/military elite, who control and profit from a coercive hierarchal command system. That is, they feed off the productive social activities of the people in society!

Now we are near the end. The culture of empire has spread over the earth except for a few pockets of remaining forager/hunters. As the exploding population meets the dwindling resources, societies begin to unravel. We are beginning to see massive cities around the planet, each encircled by millions of the poor. These people are still fed by the dwindling acres but the breaking point is in sight.

The Gauntlet

The human species is faced with an ultimate. Will the species die off or can a rabbit be pulled out of the hat over the long term? Inasmuch as humans live from other living things, we know that whatever humans may exist in two hundred years will be humans that have been able to keep their area of the planet alive.

We live in an era in which a number of things are occurring that have never happened to the species before. We live in a time of human caused, mass, global, die off of species. This is the third and largest mass die off of species since life began on earth, the previous (and second) die-off being when the dinosaurs went down millions of years ago. Humans have also caused the ozone holes and the climate warming. But, we also now have planetary communication and through the internet we also have planetary communication available on an individual level. This is the first time that the human species as a whole can communicate. This is also the first time that humans are in control of evolution on this whole planet and the possible further manifestation of themselves. Humans are in control and the choices that they make in the next few generations will determine the course for the future of the species as well as the earth.

The Cultural Conditioning

Culture is hypnosis. A hypnotic suggestion can be given in deep trance or in light trance, a state of conscious attention such as watching television. In light trance the suggestion is repetitive over time. We have all had a world view suggested to us by our cultural conditioning. For example, we intellectually know that, except for native people, the rest of us in the American hemisphere and many other places on the planet are colonials. But, we don’t subconsciously hold this understanding because of the culturalization. Since birth we have heard of “warlike” Indians. But intellectually we know that any country that is invaded will put up a vigorous response. Intellectually we know that, according to the historian Eduardo Galeano, up to 70 million native people were eliminated from the Americas by sword and pestilence yet we subconsciously view the holocaust of the Jews and Armenians as the only significant massacres.

In this manner our world view is created. The gold fish does not see the water. As our culture instructs us that wealth is security and is the purpose of life, we use up the earth more rapidly toward our demise. On a psychological level we identify with our material possessions and subconsciously assume our existence without these elements would be non-identity. Our needs toward greater ego-security also point toward our demise.

The Species Initiation

Now that the planet-wide human species, is by default, in control of the life of the earth we can understand what would be needed for the species to succeed to full maturity. The first order is to stay alive. To do that we must maintain that which feeds and shelters us. We must keep the earth alive and ecologically restore it even in the areas of dense human population today. Our reality view is in fact, global now by default. Ozone holes, nuclear radiation, sea level rise, planet heating and the rubbing out of the living flesh of the earth are global phenomena.

Like the Six Nations Iroquois who frame each tribal decision to its effects on the seventh generation, we must create a reality frame as the life of the earth. Given our subconscious conditioning that is difficult, but in this case our intellect can lead us. If we can frame our cultural reality view as based upon the care of the earth and teach that to the children, then many other cultural values will flow from that.

A present day citizen of the earth, if they were a mature and responsible adult would say that honorable actions would perpetuate the living earth for its sake as well as for the progeny of the human species. That commitment at the level of the whole species would signify the initiation of the species to maturity.

The Hero At The Portals of Initiation

The center does not hold.. Oil and the resources of the earth such as soil and forests are exhausting as the mass swells. Can the hero make it through the disintegration? Can small land based, self-sufficient communities make it through, some of them? Can they carry the universal value of life through with their culture? Can they create a culture that will spread in the future that focuses on the highest development of each human as a person rather than the highest rung up the ladder of empire? This is what is being asked of the hero for initiation into human species maturity - nothing less than courage, the adherence to the culture of life over long periods of time and transformation.

All the elements that we need exist. We have examples of alternative buildings, created from local materials, with solar advantages that can heat and cool themselves with no outside energy inputs. We have a world-wide movement to Permaculture which can help us restore ecologies while producing more human food per acre than the industrial system. We have a wide and increasing selection of human development methods which can aid in the development of each individual to their highest potential - outside the materialist paradigm. We have planetary communication through the internet whose maintenance could require few resources.

When the hero can succeed at the matter of keeping the human species and the planet alive and see that as just a “housekeeping” duty, then we can get on with the truly challenging task of creating a positive and joyous human culture to which the hero is entitled.


William H. Kötke author ofGarden Planet: The Present Phase Change of the Human Species. See at: www.gardenplanetbook.com and THE FINAL EMPIRE an underground classic book available for free download at: http://www.Rainbowbody.net/Finalempire .

http://www.countercurrents.org/kotke120907.htm

Progressive Civil Disobedience

By Joel S. Hirschhorn

Try to suppress your initial, gut reactions and let the following ideas sink in.

We tend to think of exercising power through the application of force or by strong overt action. Another, perhaps more Eastern, way of seeing power is through withholding something or through denial. For effective patriotic behavior today we must deny the corrupt political and economic system of what it wants from us – our participation. Through denial we can remove credibility and legitimacy and open opportunities for fundamental change that no exercise of traditional raw power can achieve. Populist power is the goal.

What the loose and fragmented progressive movement in this country needs is a broad strategy to actually accomplish something other than talking, writing and complaining. I propose the application of civil disobedience to fit our times and needs. We can learn from the pioneering thinking and actions of great revolutionaries.

From Henry David Thoreau we must learn that we do not have to physically fight the government if we think it no longer gives us a trustworthy representative democracy, but instead not support it in ways that give it legitimacy and empower it to serve the interests of political and economic elites rather than working- and middle-class Americans.

Mahatma Gandhi said "Civil disobedience is the inherent right of a citizen to be civil, implies discipline, thought, care, attention and sacrifice." This is asking a lot of Americans that to an incredible extent have become – actually have been conditioned and trained to become – disengaged from civic life and responsibility, and too consumed with materialistic consumption to fully comprehend the many ways their democracy and economic system no longer serve their interests. Their democracy has let them down, and they have let their democracy down. It gives little satisfaction to say that the public has gotten the government it deserves. A great many of us know that we have not gotten the government we deserve. But what are we to do?

From Dr. Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement we must learn that although great rhetoric is important in building public support, people must take concrete actions to reveal and oppose evil forces in our society. It seems impractical today, however, to expect large numbers of people to break laws and suffer the consequences of police brutality and imprisonment. Or to think that doing so is sufficient to overturn our corrupt political system. Such violent protest is more likely to hasten the path to a police state.

I propose two forms of civil disobedience that suit these times and the nature of the political and economic repressive forces that now reign supreme in America.

On the political front, no restoration of American democracy is possible until we break the stranglehold of the corrupt two-party duopoly. What I like to call the Democraps and Republicrooks have been irreversibly corrupted by money from corporate and other special interests, creating a MISrepresentative democracy that no longer serves public interests. By marginalizing third parties the range and quality of political discourse in our nation have been terribly eroded. Nor has our mainstream media performed its vital function to safeguard our democracy, because like the political system they too have been corrupted by corporate interests.

It has become rational for many thoughtful people to not vote at all, while many others have become lesser-evil voters out of desperation. Lesser-evil voting sustains the two-party duopoly and, at best, produces cosmetic change, while not touching underlying root problems. Only a tiny fraction of the electorate is committed to minor political parties, too few to create any competing party nationally and with very few exceptions even locally.

My first proposed act of progressive civil disobedience is for all Americans to NOT vote in any election for either Democraps or Republicrooks. You are likely among the many who vehemently hate the Bush regime. And so proposing that you NOT vote for Democraps this November will at first seem ludicrous. But with deeper reflection, you just may come to see that for obtaining major political change it would help to NOT vote for Democraps.

The goal is to sharply reduce the already low voter turnout figures in all elections, but especially presidential elections, to such low figures that the government visibly has little legitimacy as a representative democracy that is accountable to the will of the people. Legitimacy of the American government is rarely discussed, at least here in America. But it is exactly the loss of legitimacy worldwide that has risen in recent years. What we need to do is shove the legitimacy of our democracy off the cliff – and by doing so open our political arena to truly bold, new independent thinkers and leaders. To rescue and restore our currently sick democracy we must first de-legitimize it.

The objective of such non-voting civil disobedience is not to abdicate our responsibility, but take our civic responsibility to a higher level. We must exercise power by withholding our votes from a system that no longer deserves our votes. In this way we can demand and receive a host of political and policy reforms that reenergizes and restores our democracy. Most important are reforms to greatly balance or really offset the power of elected representatives with much greater participatory and direct democracy by we the sovereign people. Such reforms must also open up the political system to third parties and eliminate the corrupting influence of money from corporate and other special interests.

The best way to NOT waste your vote is to NOT vote for candidates from both major parties. Stop being enablers of a fraudulent government.

The second part of the strategy is on the economic front where class warfare is being waged. It is necessary to stop a number of destructive forces that manipulate the economy, penalizing the vast majority of Americans through their consumer spending while making the rich richer. Worsening economic inequality makes economic slaves out of working- and middle-class Americans. The system has been rigged by an alignment of political and economic elites and is rapidly creating a two-class system. The middle class is being attacked and steadily destroyed. The Upper Class through globalization, outsourcing, illegal immigration, union busting and other tactics is creating a large Lower Class of the working poor. The necessary progressive act of civil disobedience is the conversion of consumer spending power into political power.

This can be accomplished by motivating millions of Americans to suspend their discretionary spending for critical times to achieve specific political and economic concessions from the plutocratic Ruling Class. Many millions of successful Americans are incredibly discontent with our political and economic system and every week they collectively spend enormous sums of money on big and little things and activities that truly are unnecessary. Such discretionary spending has become habitual and addictive.

Some 70 percent of the American economy is driven by consumer spending that now works against the interests of non-wealthy Americans. We need national "buycotts" that require no formal membership in organizations, but merely voluntary spending reductions. They can be coordinated by widespread messages from many progressive groups, especially Internet sites. Sharp, sustained reductions in consumer spending can compel the Ruling Class to grant concessions. Even the rich want to maintain a vibrant economy to safeguard their wealth and living style. In reality, if American consumers use their inherent spending power they have the power to bring the entire global economic system down. The plutocracy knows this and that is why they always emphasize maintaining "consumer confidence." At critical times the power elites manipulate events to maintain consumer borrowing and spending, such as the recent steep cuts in gas prices and stock market highs. Fiscal and monetary policies are also used to maintain abundant borrowing and spending.

Ironically, few Americans understand that a relatively small number of consumers, roughly 5 to 10 million have the economic power to severely damage the American and global economy. Spending cutbacks could be become contagious. Leaving out the working poor with little discretionary spending, the amount of discretionary spending by millions of middle class Americans with ample disposable income is sufficient to threaten economic growth and the economy. A major reason is that there is a large "multiplier" associated with consumer spending, meaning that every dollar spent has a large ripple or cumulative impact through various sectors of the economy. One person's spending is another's (actually many others') income. The multiplier can range from four to six. For example, cut consumer spending by $250 billion and it can easily reduce the national GDP by $1 trillion. If the middle class does not soon use its consumer spending power, it will surely lose it as its discretionary income evaporates, because the war against will be won by the Upper Class.

Economic civil disobedience for the foreseeable future has much more power to change our nation for the better than the political act of non-voting. The goal of the economic strategy is to obtain enough reforms and improvements in the political system to restore the effectiveness of voting at some later time. Now, in our perverse society, dollars are more powerful agents of change than votes. In truth, as has been evident for many years, we cannot vote ourselves out of a corrupt, oppressive and delusional democracy that uses military and economic weapons of mass devastation on a global scale for the benefit of elites, while pretending to be the world's best democracy. The truth of all this defines the case for a populist Second American Revolution. We must motivate some millions of Americans that are so fed up with current conditions that they will eagerly join a loose network of American Insurgents for Democracy, not fighting with weapons in the streets, but by withholding their dollars from the economy.

Hundreds of public opinion polls in recent years have supplied all the evidence one could want to demonstrate the terrible state of American democracy, so awful and disgraceful that it is justifiably called delusional, because it no longer is what people think it is. Yet people keep out the pain of admitting that their democracy is no longer great, even though they have little confidence in politicians and their parties. The latest stark public appraisal of politicians was the New York Times/CBS poll conducted earlier this month. Among its findings was that 69 percent of people think that members of congress consider themselves above the law; 70 percent believe that most members of congress do not understand the needs and problems of people like them; and 36 percent believe that Republicrooks in congress are more corrupt than Democraps, 17 percent believe the reverse, and 27 percent think both are equally corrupt – adding up to 80 percent seeing a corrupt congress. You might expect such public opinion statistics of some blatantly faux foreign democracy, not the United States of America.

Another interesting reality is a statistic determined about the recent primary elections nationwide. The Center for the Study of the American Electorate at American University found that just 15 percent of eligible voters went to the polls for primary elections. Just 15 percent!

Some people would be depressed by this figure. I see it very positively. Curtis Gans, the director of the study, concluded "People are becoming increasingly disaffected with both parties." Amen. But people are more than disaffected. They are mad as hell. Yet few see a way out of this national morass.

Our political elites and plutocrats can easily ignore low turnout for primaries. But contemplate how a really low turnout for general elections would be treated. Imagine a presidential election with a national turnout of say 20 or 25 percent. Such low eligible voter turnout would publicly de-legitimize our delusional democracy. How could any American president that had a majority of something like 15 percent or less of all eligible voters be viewed as legitimate? Our representative democracy would be seen worldwide as a sham. Many Americans would conclude "enough is enough."

More people must agree that there is nothing sacred about two-party rule. Bipartisanship is just a ploy to make the two-party conspiracy more palatable. Democraps and Republicrooks have a political partnership. Each needs the other to maintain the optical delusion that we have political choices, and that when one fails the people, the other will come to the rescue. We cannot vote our way to national renewal as long as we play according to their status quo rules. Our democracy is choking to death on bipartisan corruption. Only independent-minded Americans can apply a Heimlich maneuver to save it.

Divided, we empower the plutocracy with our money and our votes.

United, we can deliver a peaceful, disobedient and populist Second American Revolution by withholding our money and our votes. We have it in our power to make Thoreau, Gandhi, King and future generations proud of us.

What is true American patriotism today? Our sick democracy needs dissent through disobedience, not our votes, to become healthy.


Authors Website: www.delusionaldemocracy.com

Authors Bio: Joel S. Hirschhorn is the author of Delusional Democracy - Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government (www.delusionaldemocracy.com). His current political writings have been greatly influenced by working as a senior staffer for the U.S. Congress and for the National Governors Association. He advocates a Second American Revolution, beginning with an Article V Convention to propose constitutional amendments.

http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_joel_s___061014_progressive_civil_di.htm

Conservatism isn't what it used to be

By Paul Craig Roberts
Online Journal Guest Writer


Sep 17, 2007, 01:39

When I was in the Reagan administration, America had a lively press that never hesitated to take us to task. Even the "Teflon President" received more brickbats than Bush and Cheney.

The lively press disappeared along with its independence in the media concentration engineered during the Clinton administration. Shortly thereafter all the liberal news anchors disappeared as well. Today the US media serves as propaganda ministry for the government's wars and police state. Yet, some conservatives continue to rant on about "the liberal media."

That other conservative bugaboo, liberal academia, has also been crushed. Universities once controlled their appointments, but no more. Recently, the political science faculty at DePaul, a Catholic university, voted to give tenure to the courageous scholar and teacher Norman Finkelstein. The department was unable to make its tenure decision stick over the objections of the Israel Lobby and their conservative allies, who were able to reach in over the heads of the political science department and the College Personnel Committee and force DePaul's president to block Finkelstein�s tenure. Finkelstein, a Jew, had angered the Israel Lobby with his criticisms of Israel's misuse of the holocaust sufferings of Jews to oppress the Palestinians and to silence critics.

On September 14, the Los Angeles Times reported that the appointment of the distinguished legal scholar Erwin Chemerinsky as the Dean of a new law school at the University of California at Irvine had been withdrawn by the university's chancellor, Michael V. Drake, who gave in to the demands of conservatives outside the university. Conservatives are outraged at Chemerinsky because he criticized Attorney General Gonzales. In withdrawing Chemerinsky's appointment, Drake told him: "I didn't realize there would be conservatives out to get you." [Furor disrupts plans for UCI school of law, By Garrett Therolf, Rebecca Trounson and Richard C. Paddock, September 14, 2007]

Gonzales is the attorney general who wrote memos justifying torture and denying that the Bush administration was bound by the Geneva Conventions. Gonzales told a stunned Senate Judiciary Committee that the US Constitution did not provide habeas corpus protection to American citizens.

To experience an attorney general of the US fiercely attacking the US Constitution, rending its every provision, is the most frightening experience of my lifetime. That the head of the legal branch of the executive, sworn to uphold the Constitution, would turn against it in order to enhance unaccountable executive power is a clear impeachable offense. If anyone anywhere in the world deserved criticism, Gonzales did. But when Chemerinsky upbraided the despicable Gonzales, conservatives rushed to Gonzales' defense, not to the defense of the American Constitution.

It seems only yesterday that conservatives were complaining about the liberties that liberals took with the Constitution. Liberals were expanding rights, fancifully perhaps. But today conservatives are curtailing long established rights, such as habeas corpus and protection against self-incrimination. Conservatives abandoned "original intent" and all of their constitutional scruples once they had a chance to cram more power into the presidency.

In my conservative days as an academic, I experienced some liberal blackballs. But liberals did not attack academic freedom per se. The new conservatives despise academic freedom and have created organizations to monitor departments of Middle East studies in order to lower the boom on scholars who follow the truth instead of neoconservative ideology or Israeli policy. Today academic freedom has disappeared just like the independent media. No one but powerful organized interest groups has a voice. In the media truth can only emerge on comic shows like The Colbert Report and Jon Stewart�s The Daily Show.

In years past, conservatives were often shouted down on university campuses by left-wing students. But today speakers disapproved by powerful interest groups are simply disinvited in advance. Even Harvard University has fallen to the new censorship. On September 14, the Harvard Crimson reported that the Israel Lobby was able to force Harvard University to disinvite three speakers, an Oxford University professor, a DePaul professor, and a Rutgers professor, because they had criticized Israeli policy.

In America today, speaking your mind in the media or in academia is a thing of the past. A country that has no voices independent of powerful interests is a country in which freedom is dead.

Paul Craig Roberts [email him] was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration. He is the author of Supply-Side Revolution : An Insider's Account of Policymaking in Washington; Alienation and the Soviet Economy and Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy, and is the co-author with Lawrence M. Stratton of The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice. Click here for Peter Brimelow's Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts about the recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.
 

Blackwater working again in Iraq

It was all just a glitch. Sorry...
 
The US security firm Blackwater has resumed limited operations in the Iraqi capital Baghdad four days after a deadly shootout involving the company.

The company provides security to all US state department employees in Iraq.

It had been ordered by the Iraqi government to halt operations while a joint US-Iraqi inquiry was held.

A US embassy spokeswoman said the decision to allow Blackwater to resume work had been taken in consultation with the Iraqi government.

The spokeswoman, Mirembe Nantongo, said Blackwater operations would be limited to essential missions only outside Baghdad's heavily-fortified Green Zone....

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7006697.stm

Feds probe Blackwater weapons smuggling

WASHINGTON - Federal prosecutors are investigating whether employees of the private security firm Blackwater USA illegally smuggled into Iraq weapons that may have been sold on the black market and ended up in the hands of a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, officials said Friday.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Raleigh, N.C., is handling the investigation with help from Pentagon and State Department auditors, who have concluded there is enough evidence to file charges, the officials told The Associated Press. Blackwater is based in Moyock, N.C....

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070922/ap_on_go_co/us_blackwater_probe_8;_ylt=AgDaYxCSuHn7_RIHtdf89BQE1vAI

Frequent cell phone use may slow brain function

....Differences in brain activity, as measured in terms of quantitative results of electroencephalographic (EEG) studies and assessments of neuropsychological functions such as attention, memory, executive function and personality, were examined. Among the results: Frequent users scored higher on ratings as extroverts and were found to be less open-minded.

The study also found that frequent users are better able than others to focus their attention. That result could be due to a learning effect that comes from making phone calls in busy places where people have to focus on a phone call while filtering out background noise and other distractions, according to the researchers.

Despite this improved focus and the findings about personality, the frequent users showed more instances of slowed activity as measured by delta and theta EEG power, as well as a slowdown in a measurement called alpha peak frequency....

Kite Runner rape scene 'threatens actor's life'

Morning Edition, September 20, 2007 · Khaled Hosseini's best-selling
novel Kite Runner opens as a film in November. But it is already
causing concern in Afghanistan and in Hollywood for its depiction of
ethnic tensions in Afghanistan and harsh portrayal of life under the
Taliban.
Listen at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?
storyId=14556301

Kite Runner rape scene 'threatens actor's life'
Tuesday September 18, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

The forthcoming adaptation of The Kite Runner, the Afghanistan-set
bestseller by Khaled Hosseini, has run into controversy over fears
that the life of one of its child actors may be in danger.
The Kite Runner tells the story of Amir and Hassan, one a privileged
Afghan youth, the other a poor servant boy, growing up in Kabul. Amir
eventually emigrates to the West but, throughout his life, is wracked
by guilt over his failure to intervene when Hassan was raped during
their childhood.

A filmed adaptation of the novel, helmed by Finding Neverland's Marc
Forster, wrapped earlier this year and will be released in November.
But the father of Ahmad Khan, the Afghan boy who portrays Hassan in
the film, fears that he and his son's life are threatened because
rape is a taboo subject in Afghanistan.
"They [the film-makers] said they would not film this part," Mr Ahmad
told BBC Radio. "Of course I am worried about it. My own people from
my own tribe will turn against me because of the story. They may cut
my throat, they may kill me, they may torture me, anything could
happen to me."

Other cast members have reportedly demanded the scene be cut. But the
film's producers say these fears are misplaced. "The scene contains
no nudity; it's rendered in a very impressionistic way," Rebecca
Yeldham, a producer, told the BBC. "It's also important in being
faithful to the story that there's no confusion that the attack in
the alley was a sexual violation.

"We're working with various organisations on the ground to advise us.
We don't believe that kids' lives are at risk," she said.

The film will not be released in Afghanistan, but only because there
is no suitable distribution network in the country. It will be
released in the US on November 2 and in the UK on Boxing Day.

Trailer at
http://www.apple.com/trailers/paramount_vantage/thekiterunner/

SAFER to Denver Council: Let's Make a Deal!

Proponents of a marijuana reform initiative that would make adult pot use the city’s lowest law enforcement priority have offered the Denver council and mayor – who are none too happy that the initiative earned enough signatures to make it on the November ballot – a chance to get the damn thing off the ballot.

In an Aug. 23 press release, Mason Tvert, director of the marijuana reform group Safer Alternatives for Enjoyable Recreation says that his organization would agree to nix the intiative if – and only if – the council and Mayor John Hickenlooper (owner of a local brewery) agree to a few – ahem – modest terms. First, SAFER wants the city leaders to officially “recognize” that adult marijuana use poses less harm to the user, and to the city, than does adult alcohol abuse. Second, based on that new awareness, SAFER is asking that the council “commit to exploring” what marijuana policy reforms the city can implement that reflect the fact that adult pot use poses less harm to user and city. And, third, SAFER is asking that the city impose a moratorium on all citations for possession of less than one ounce of pot by adults over 21 during the Democratic National Convention in August 2008.

If their conditions are met, Tvert says SAFER would be happy to yank the lowest-priority initiative from the upcoming ballot. Whether that’ll work is entirely unclear, though seemingly unlikely since the city hasn’t exactly embraced pot policy reforms – including a successful 2005 ballot initiative that directed the city to remove criminal penalties for private pot use by adults. Still, Tvert remains forever optimistic: “Every objective study ever conducted on marijuana has concluded that it is a far safer recreational drug than alcohol,” he said in a press statement. “We hope our city officials will consider the relative harms of these two substances, as well as the potentially dangerous effects of a policy that pushes adults toward the more harmful of the two [substances]” – that is, alcohol use. “The city has every right to stop arresting adults for possessing small amounts of marijuana, and we hope they will stand up for the voters who elected them and exercise that right.”

Jordan Smith, Fri Aug 24

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image from http://www.spitting-image.net

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