Monday, January 12, 2009

Civil disobedience - Brief overview of a trend with strong future growth prospects

Civil disobedience - The history of the concept
The concept of civil disobedience has evolved over a long period of time. Ideas drawn from different periods of history and from different cultures have contributed to its evolution. The idea that there is a law that transcends the laws of the state is found in Socrates (c. 470–399 B.C.E.), in some of the classical Greek tragedies, and in the Indian concept of dharma (duty). In these traditions, should the higher law and the laws of the state come into conflict, the individual had the obligation to disobey the laws of the state. In the Middle Ages, St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274) defended the natural-law view that unjust laws did not bind the citizen in conscience. John Locke (1632–1704) taught that the government derived its authority from the people, that one of the purposes of the government was the protection of the natural rights of the people, and that the people had the right to alter the government should it fail to discharge its fundamental duties.


Civil Disobedience - Originally published as "Resistance to Civil Government"
While Walden can be applied to almost anyone's life, "Civil Disobedience" is like a venerated architectural landmark: it is preserved and admired, and sometimes visited, but for most of us there are not many occasions when it can actually be used. Still, although seldom mentioned without references to Gandhi or King, "Civil Disobedience" has more history than many suspect. In the 1940's it was read by the Danish resistance, in the 1950's it was cherished by those who opposed McCarthyism, in the 1960's it was influential in the struggle against South African apartheid, and in the 1970's it was discovered by a new generation of anti-war activists. The lesson learned from all this experience is that Thoreau's ideas really do work, just as he imagined they would.


No victors in the war on dissent
More evidence for historians that the "war on terror" has morphed into a "war on dissent" can be found in the recently leaked reports establishing that both the Pentagon's Northern Command (NORTHCOM) and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency participated in planning RNC convention security and were possibly involved in crowd control strategies.

At the very least, the intimidating presence of armor-clad police officers at political demonstrations is a visible manifestation of the fascist threat. More pernicious would be any unwarranted, secret collection of information on the various social justice, peace, independent media, musical performance, artistic and legal groups in the lead-up to the RNC. We are currently in the process of determining, through freedom of information type requests, if this in fact, occurred here.
Recent revelations of how the Maryland State Police infiltrated nonviolent groups and falsely labeled dozens of pacifists, environmentalists and Catholic Nuns as terrorists highlights the risks of using undercover law enforcement officers and paid informants to spy on domestic groups. Pressure to produce arrests and convictions justifying the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of dollars in precious tax revenues can result in the elevation of rhetoric into threats and dissent into terrorism.

The mind-numbing repetition of the term "anarchists" in recent newspaper coverage of the $300,000, year-long infiltration of protest groups prior to the convention fails to obscure the great lengths to which law enforcement officials went to prevent "street blockades" and other disruptions in St. Paul. Before the RNC even started, authorities executed pre-emptive raids and "preventive detentions"—controversial concepts originally concocted for the "war on terror" that have no place in our Constitution's criminal justice system.

Thanks to Minnesota's version of the PATRIOT Act, the local "war on dissent" has elevated boastful threats to "swarm" the Republican convention and to "shut it down" into charges of conspiracy to riot "in furtherance of terrorism." However, there is no evidence that any of the so-charged "RNC Eight" ever personally committed acts of violence or damaged property. If they were really ready to "destroy" the City of Saint Paul as alleged, why did they operate so openly? Why was their rhetoric, albeit taunting, for the entire world to see on their website?


Make Climate Justice History - Mass civil disobedience March 2nd, 2009 in DC
We're in the process of organizing a mass non-violent civil disobedience to coincide with Power Shift 2009. In late February 2009, the Energy Action Coalition will host over 10,000 climate activists focusing generally on making climate change, clean energy, and green jobs a priority for the new administration. Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network, the Ruckus Society, Chesapeake Climate Action Network and a host of others are planning a mass non-violent civil disobedience, with a goal of organizing over 1,000 people, to cross the line and sit-in at the Capital Coal Plant.


Call to Disobedience
An open call to civil disobedience has been issued by two of the United States leading eco-activists, Wendell Berry and Bill McKibben, asking for individuals to join them on Monday March 2, 2009 in Washington D.C. to protest the use of coal fired power plants.

Their Open Call to Civil Disobedience is included below:

There are moments in a nation's-and a planet's-history when it may be necessary for some to break the law in order to bear witness to an evil, bring it to wider attention, and push for its correction. We think such a time has arrived, and we are writing to say that we hope some of you will join us in Washington D.C. on Monday March 2, 2009 in order to take part in a civil act of civil disobedience outside a coal-fired power plant near Capitol Hill.

We will be there to make several points:

Coal-fired power is driving climate change. Our foremost climatologist, NASA's James Hansen, has demonstrated that our only hope of getting our atmosphere back to a safe level-below 350 parts per million CO2 lies in stopping the use of coal to generate electricity.

Even if climate change were not the urgent crisis that it is, we would still be burning our fossil fuels too fast, wasting too much energy and releasing too much poison into the air and water. We would still need to slow down, and to restore thrift to its old place as an economic virtue.

Coal is filthy at its source. Much of the coal used in this country comes from West Virginia and Kentucky, where companies engage in "mountaintop removal" to get at the stuff; they leave behind a leveled wasteland, and impoverished human communities. No technology better exemplifies the out-of-control relationship between humans and the rest of creation.

Coal smoke makes children sick. Asthma rates in urban areas near coal-fired power plants are high. Air pollution from burning coal is harmful to the health of grown-ups too, and to the health of everything that breathes, including forests.

The industry claim that there is something called "clean coal" is, put simply, a lie. But it's a lie told with tens of millions of dollars, which we do not have. We have our bodies, and we are willing to use them to make our point. We don't come to such a step lightly. We have written and testified and organized politically to make this point for many years, and while in recent months there has been real progress against new coal-fired power plants, the daily business of providing half our electricity from coal continues unabated.

It's time to make clear that we can't safely run this planet on coal at all. So we feel the time has come to do more--we hear President Barack Obama's call for a movement for change that continues past election day, and we hear Nobel Laureate Al Gore's call for creative non-violence outside coal plants. As part of the international negotiations now underway on global warming, our nation will be asking China, India, and others to limit their use of coal in the future to help save the planet's atmosphere. This is a hard thing to ask, because it's their cheapest fuel. Part of our witness in March will be to say that we're willing to make some sacrifices ourselves, even if it's only a trip to the jail.

With any luck, this will be the largest such protest yet, large enough that it may provide a real spark. If you want to participate with us, you need to go through a short course of non-violence training. This will be, to the extent it depends on us, an entirely peaceful demonstration, carried out in a spirit of hope and not rancor. We will be there in our dress clothes, and ask the same of you. There will be young people, people from faith communities, people from the coal fields of Appalachia, and from the neighborhoods in Washington that get to breathe the smoke from the plant.

We will cross the legal boundary of the power plant, and we expect to be arrested. After that we have no certainty what will happen, but lawyers and such will be on hand. Our goal is not to shut the plant down for the day-it is but one of many, and anyway its operation for a day is not the point. The worldwide daily reliance on coal is the danger; this is one small step to raise awareness of that ruinous habit and hence help to break it.

Needless to say, we're not handling the logistics of this day. All the credit goes to a variety of groups, especially the Energy Action Coalition (which is bringing thousands of young people to Washington that weekend), Greenpeace, the Ruckus Society, and the Rainforest Action Network. A website at that latter organization is serving as a temporary organizing hub. If you go there, you will find a place to leave your name so that we'll know you want to join us.

Thank you,

Wendell Berry and Bill McKibben

P.S This is important -please forward this letter to anyone and everyone you think might be interested

Rainforest Action Network: http://ran.org/get_involved


Groups plan 19-day pre-inaguration peace vigil

When most of Chicago is running in from the cold, a group in Hyde Park is launching Camp Hope, a 19-day outdoor vigil to remind President-Elect Barack Obama and the city about the changes fought for on Election Day.

"We're testifying for ideals that were not just dropped out of the sky," says Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator for the anti-war organization Voices for Creative Non-Violence, one of the groups involved in the event. "We went to the voting booth for them."

Beginning with a kick-off event on New Year's Day at Hyde Park's Drexel Square Park, the event is a collaborative effort by 40 different area organizations that rally around different progressive causes, including non-violence, health care, immigration reform, racial equality, climate change and economic justice. Volunteers will gather from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day and hold evening events on various topics.


War of choice: How Israel manufactured the Gaza escalation
At the same time, there's no question Hamas continues to callously sacrifice its fellow Palestinian citizens, as well as Israeli civilians, on the altar of maintaining its pyrrhic resistance credentials and its myopic preoccupation with revenge, and fell into many self-made traps of its own. There had been growing international pressure on Israel to ease its siege and a major increase in creative and nonviolent strategies drawing attention to the plight of Palestinians such as the arrival of humanitarian relief convoys off of Gaza's coast in the past months, but now Gaza lies in ruins.

But as the vastly more powerful actor holding nearly all the cards in this conflict, the war in Gaza was ultimately Israel's choice. And for all this bloodshed and violence, Israel must be held accountable.


Handbook for nonviolent action
Nonviolent action has played a key role in the struggle for social change all over the world. It has a long and proud history, but it is not only something from the past, it lives on in many struggles for freedom, equality and justice. It seems there is a current running from group to group, movement to movement.

Women suffragists learned from the abolitionists; early labor activists borrowed from both of them, adding their own contributions. Civil rights activists, anti-war protesters, people with disabilities, battered women and farm workers (to name a few) all continued the process. Chinese students in Tiannamen Square held signs saying "We Shall Overcome." Sometimes nonviolent direct action responding to oppression or abuse of power seems to spring up spontaneously in apparently unrelated times and places. One of the reasons that these discoveries amaze and inspire us is that official histories and media accounts don't generally record these events.

Nonviolent civil disobedience requires discipline and preparation, as well as burning commitment and desire for change. Contrary to popular mythology Rosa Parks did not just sit down one day on the bus because she was tired. She was a woman trained for this nonviolent action which changed the course of history. Thousands of people, whose names we will never know, made the same preparations for various actions in the campaign for civil rights. Very few of the people we do hear about acted alone.


Choosing nonviolent action
Many people are sceptical about the power of nonviolence against entrenched and brutal regimes. In such situations any resistance is likely to be difficult. Nonviolence does not offer a 'quick fix' in these situations - and neither does armed struggle. Some idealistic movements have turned to armed struggle only to find themselves increasingly separated from the population, depending on extortion and kidnapping to maintain themselves, and in short degenerating into armed bands. Nonviolence aims to work differently. By expanding the social spaces that a movement can occupy, and by giving voice to what the regime requires should not be said, it can set processes of fundamental change in motion. Nonviolent action in the face of torture, 'disappearances' and death squads in various parts of Latin America in the 1970s and 1980s aimed to rebuild a social solidarity that could overcome fear.

Because pacifists refuse to resort to organised violence, we need to invest our creative energy in trying to develop nonviolent alternatives. Therefore, pacifists have a history of playing a vital innovatory role in social movements by developing nonviolent methods of action, both at the level of tactics and in forms of organising. For instance, the first US 'freedom rides' against racial segregation in the 1940s were a pacifist initiative, as was the British nonviolent direct action against nuclear weapons in the 1950s. The creative use of nonviolence of these groups opened spaces for a much more widespread use of nonviolence by the mass movements that followed. Later came the introduction of nonviolence training, initially preparing people for the kind of violence that they might meet in nonviolent protests. Subsequently nonviolence training has played an essential role in promoting more participatory forms of movement organisation. Gandhi and Martin Luther King became such towering figures within their own movements that some people have the impression that successful nonviolence depends on 'charismatic' leadership. For us in WRI, however, nonviolent action should be seen as a source of social empowerment -strengthening the capacities of all participants without depending on superhuman leaders. Therefore we have advocated more participatory forms of decision-making, promoted the adoption of forms of organisation based on people grouping into 'affinity groups', and expanded nonviolence training to include tools for the participatory assessment and development of strategy. We argue that the specific strengths of nonviolent strategies are damaged by any resort to violence. These include strengths among the movement - in fostering trust and solidarity among participants in an action, in putting them in touch with sources of their own power to act in a situation. These strengths also include the relationship of a movement towards its antagonists - in inhibiting their violence or at least ensuring that violent repression will backfire politically against them, and in undermining the 'pillars of power' of an oppressive institution by not treating its employees as inanimate tools but rather trying to create possibilities for them to rethink their allegiances. And finally these strengths include the quality of communication with bystanders or 'outsiders' - people not yet concerned about the issue or not yet active about it, people who can be potential allies.


The March of the Dead
In Washington, D.C. on January 6th, The March of the Dead will greet the 111th Congress as they are sworn in to serve the people. Learn more and join in for a powerful dramatic nonviolent action at the U.S. Capitol!

The Nonviolent Action Community of Cascadia
http://seanacc.org/
The Nonviolent Action Community of Cascadia is a Seattle-based organization which uses nonviolent action to create political and social change. NACC acts to interrupt and transform militarism and other forms of violence, and to build a society based upon community, economic justice, environmental awareness, personal empowerment, and feminist, queer-positive, and anti-racist principles.

NACC uses creative war tax resistance, grant-making, public education, nonviolent direct action, and coalition-building towards these ends, creating community and developing empowerment and conflict-resolution skills in the process.

Voices for Creative Nonviolence
http://vcnv.org/
Voices for Creative Nonviolence has deep, long-standing roots in active nonviolent resistance to U.S. war-making. Begun in the summer of 2005, Voices draws upon the experiences of those who challenged the brutal economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. and U.N. against the Iraqi people between 1990 and 2003. More about Voices


Creative Actions by Sanderson Beck
The first stage of a nonviolent campaign is learning about the problem that needs correcting by studying its history, politics, economics, sociology, and psychology. This means answering such questions as:

Who has been doing what to whom?

Who is in control and wielding the power or making the decisions?

How are financial incentives and economic relations affecting this?

What social relationships and cultural traditions are involved?

Why are people acting as they are?

What is motivating them?

And how can they be given alternative options that are best for all?

The investigation can be done by observing, talking to people, and by direct experience in the situation. Research can be through studying books and periodicals, seeing and hearing news reports, and by searching the world wide web. This first stage is sometimes known as "doing your homework" so that you are informed of the circumstances and will not make a fool out of yourself. Of course not every person participating in a nonviolent campaign has to do all the research. Information can be shared, and often those who enter a campaign in the later and more urgent stages find that they are joining a group effort that has its own history of investigation and research. However, these efforts always need to be updated as circumstances change.


Sisterhood was powerful
When a history of civil disobedience moves us, it is because the writer is able to convey the human emotion at the heart of efforts to stand against the crowd. Ruth Rosen in The World Split Open captures the rage that both forged and tore the women's movement in the latter half of the twentieth century.

It was the rage of women toward men who presumed them to be subordinates and sexual side dishes that compelled the women to start a liberation movement. It was the rage of men who thought women had nothing to complain about that made feminists increasingly strident, but also more demanding of their sisters to speak with one voice. As women expressed themselves, they found they had not one voice, but hundreds, thousands, causing the movement to fragment even as its influence, paradoxically, seeped into most levels of society.

In vividly written passages, Rosen illustrates the level of antipathy toward women who tried to expand the dialogue of the New Left. In January 1969, the day before Richard Nixon's inauguration, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) veteran Marilyn Salzman Webb began her speech at a rally against the Vietnam War in Washington, D.C. "We as women are oppressed," she proclaimed. "We, as women [who] are supposedly the most privileged in this society, are mutilated as human beings so that we will learn to function within the capitalist system." Suddenly, pandaemonium broke out in front of the stage. Webb plunged on, denouncing a system that treated women as objects and property. To her horror, she watched as "fist fights broke out. Men yelled things like 'Fuck her! Take her off the stage! Rape her in the back alley!'" Rosen writes. Shouts followed, along the lines of "Take it off!"


A Winter Feast for the Soul
January 15 — February 23

The inspiration for this work came out of a three-line Rumi poem:

What nine months does for the embryo,
Forty early mornings
Will do for your growing awareness.

Based on the success of the first Winter Feast in Idaho (2008), the interest that it generated across the globe, and the need for peace efforts at this time in our history, the founders decided to extend the outreach worldwide.

To learn more, visit the Winter Feast of the Soul website and watch their YouTube video.

'13' in the news

Thirteen is enough for this new mom
ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Forget twins, triplets, quadruplets or even sextuplets.

One new dog mom here in town has a lot of work ahead with 13 newborns to raise.


Thirteen cats saved from Grand Blanc Township house fire
Fire ripped through the small, one-story Reid Road home, and firefighters rushed inside to save lives.

Still, this was a little different. The homeowner at 3200 Reid Road made it out of the burning home unscathed. Her 15 cats were trapped inside. Firefighters managed to get the cats out of the house, but two died of smoke inhalation.


Ever wonder what the thirteen greatest error messages of all times are?
In principle, 404 File Not Found should be one of the dreariest of errors; in fact, many sites take it as an opportunity to be creative. For instance, check out Hulu's page. And The New Yorker's. And this one. And this one. There's even 404 poetry.


Theater Reviews: ... 'Thirteen the Musical'
Jason Robert Brown can't catch a break. He may be the only composer of the 40-ish generation who can take pop and rock sounds and fashion them into a genuine, musically original and downright catchy show tune. But somehow his shows, for all their virtues, sink rather than swim with the New York critics, and thus the public.

In Thirteen, he and librettists Dan Elish and Robert Horn have fashioned an unpretentious tale about Evan, a New York boy about to turn 13.While he's planning a big bar mitzvah, his parents divorce, and his mother moves him to Indiana. In trying to fit in, he betrays the two real friends he makes.


Promised Land: Thirteen Books That Changed America
With a political changing of the guard in progress and recent reason to focus more keenly on domestic issues, there is no better time than now to read Jay Parini's Promised Land: Thirteen Books That Changed America. Parini's book about books explores the way literature has shaped American culture and sparked important political and social change.

Parini explains how he decided to write Promised Land after attending a lecture in London, titled “Twelve Books that Changed the World.” All of the chosen books were English books, a fact that got Parini considering which books have been the most influential in American history. He explains that he wasn't concerned with writing a book about the “greatest” American books. Rather, he sought out the books that “played a role in shaping the nation's idea of itself or that consolidated and defined a major trend.”


Thirteen-Plus and Thirty-one-Plus
The Sri Lankan Government's decision to proscribe the LTTE after a six-year gap comes in the wake of a similar ban existing already in 31 other countries, starting with the immediate Indian neighbour. Accompanied by the oft-repeated promises that the Government would simultaneously work on a power-devolution package based on the Thirteenth Amendment, the ban raises both questions and hopes of a political solution to end the ethnic war and violence.

The ban comes a year after the Government unilaterally abrogated the Norwegian-facilitated ceasefire agreement (CFA). Post-ban, the Government has reiterated willingness to talk if the LTTE surrendered arms and renounced terrorism.


Alcoa to cut 13 pct of global work force
Aluminum producer Alcoa Inc. is cutting roughly 13 percent of its global work force by the end of the year as it slashes costs in the face of a deteriorating world economy.


How Hannah, 13, fought off a shark
"It brought her up to the top again and I paddled over to her and tried to push it with the board and tried to hit it but I don't think it felt it really. It was a pretty big shark - a monster.

"It would have had two goes at her. She's lucky she didn't lose her leg.


Nigeria: Nasarawa's 13-Point Agenda Needs Liver - AC Guber Candidate
Now, taking the issues you have raised, at the federal level, we have a 7-point agenda, and the Nasarawa State government has 13-point agenda, all these should be geared around development, creating opportunities, creating the atmosphere and providing services to the people. So, if you look back at them within the state, they centre towards education, agriculture, employment, empowerment of youths and women and the rest.

Taking them one at a time, you will see that in the field of development, for instance, or creating opportunities for employment, what has the government done towards that direction? That is the way to analyse the remaining points.


More charged in alleged Turkish coup plot, 13 freed
They formed part of a group of 33 people detained Wednesday in a nationwide swoop as part of an investigation into the "Ergenekon" network, suspected of laying the groundwork for a putsch to overthrow the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Thirteen other people held in the operation Wednesday were released. Among them were two retired four star generals and a former senior official in the national security council.


No. 13 California routs Washington 62-34
Ashley Walker scored 14 of her 20 points in the first half and pulled down 10 rebounds and No. 13 California won its fifth straight game with a lackluster 62-34 victory over Washington on Sunday.


Phoenix airport traffic plunged 13% in November
Passenger traffic at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix plunged nearly 13% in November due to the weak economy and dramatic flight cutbacks by airlines.

In memoriam: Jean-Marc Ela, Africa’s "liberation theologian" is dead

“If Christianity seeks to be anything more than an effort to swindle a mass of mystified blacks, the churches of Africa must all join to come to terms with this question.”
 
"Liberation of the oppressed must be the primary condition for any authentic inculturation of the Christian message.” Father Jean Marc Ela.
 
The death has been announced of Father Jean Marc Ela, one of Cameroon's leading scholars, who has variously been described as “the nearest Africa has come to a liberation theologian in a Latin American sense “, the “Champion of a theology under the trees “, “Africa's first liberation theologian of note outside South Africa”, and as “one of the best known and most read African theologians not only in Africa but also elsewhere”. He died recently in Canada where he had been on exile since 1995.
 
Born in 1936 in Ebolowa, Cameroon, Jean-Marc Ela was ordained priest in 1964. He subsequently earned doctorate degrees in Theology from the University of Strasbourg, France (1969) and Sociology from the Sorbonne in Paris (1978).
 
A very prolific writer, Jean-Marc Ela published dozens books, the most popular being Ma foi d'Africain (My faith as an African) “which gave him world notoriety and African renown in particular”, Le cri de l'homme (African Cry) “which attracted attention the world over”, and Voici le temps des He´ritiers e´glises d'Afrique et voies nouvelles (co-authored with Christiane Ngendakuriyo; Vincent Cosmao; Rene´ Luneau but in which his contributions were so significant that he is generally referred to as the sole author). These three books have been described by many as his” essential contributions to African theology".

Jean-Marc Ela's theology was largely shaped by his 14-year stay among the non-Muslim Kirdi population of Northern Cameroon whose life was characterized by misery, marginalization and exploitation by the state. As a result, according to Sundkler, “no one else expressed the 'cry of the African' with as much prophetic pathos as Fr. Jean-Marc Ela”. As Fr. Ela stressed in one of his writings:
 
How can the African human being attain a condition that will enable him and her escape misery and inequality, silence and oppression? If Christianity seeks to be anything more than an effort to swindle a mass of mystified blacks, the churches of Africa must all join to come to terms with this question.
 
But Ela's theology was more than just about liberation. As Benezet Buju points out, “Jean Marc's theology cannot be reduced to theology of liberation as opposed to the so-called theology of inculturation”. In this regard, Fr. Ela called for:
 

...an African theology that incorporates oral culture, myths, symbols, etc. into its method and into the proclamation of the Gospel. For our theologian it is evident that his inculturating effort cannot be undertaken without taking into account liberation in a holistic sense, i.e. one that takes into account cultural identity and the political and socio-economic dimensions... For Jean-marc Ela, liberation and inculturation do not oppose each other. They ought to be placed in a relation of 'perichoresis' for an African theology that takes into account each and every person. (African Theology in the 21st century benezet Bujo, juvenal Ilunga Muya, 212).
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Sri Lanka: Anti-government editor shot, killed

The shooting death of an anti-government newspaper editor in Sri Lanka is the latest in a string of attacks on such journalists, an advocacy group said.

Lasantha Wickrematunga, editor of the Sunday Leader newspaper, was shot in the chest, head and abdomen while going to work Thursday, later dying in a Colombo hospital, Reporters without Borders said on its Web site.

"Sri Lanka has lost one of its more talented, courageous and iconoclastic journalists," the press freedom organization said. "President Mahinda Rajapaksa, his associates and the government media are directly to blame because they incited hatred against him and allowed an outrageous level of impunity to develop as regards violence against the press."

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Mindless in Gaza

I have been searching desperately for some silver lining in the deepening tragedy in Gaza, and what finally came to me were the chilling words of the poet Aeschylus: "And slowly, even against our will, wisdom drips against the heart by the awful grace of god."

If there is a distinguishing feature in this latest round in the sixty years of reciprocal violence — something other than its ferocity — it's that the futility of the attack was clear as soon as it began.

Already, to no one's surprise, painfully won progress toward accommodation in the moderate Arab countries is evaporating, while Israel is clearly generating another round of "retaliation," this time with that much less sympathy from the international community. Even if Hamas' fighting ability is effectively abolished by the time the carnage is over, will Israel achieve the security we all desire her to have, and which is the rationale for the attack? Only in the very shortest term.

Before too long, the seething hatred in the Arab world, and the increased revulsion amongst the onlooking world at large, must boil over into action. (A similarly "devastating" blow has just been landed on the major rebel faction in Sri Lanka, and a suicide bomber took revenge within the hour).

Before it even revealed the full scope of its cruelty, the massacre was styled Lebanon II or (by Jakob Rieken) the "Mideast version of the Bay of Pigs." And as Israel's wisest analyst, Uri Avnery, said of this carnage, "logic has little influence on politics."

This realization is small comfort, given the terrorization of a million and a half people, the children blown apart on their way to school, the devastation crashing into homes and hospitals; but it could just possibly, if we choose to build on it, become much larger.

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Greek human rights activist accused of high treason

Panayotis Dimitras, head of the human rights organisation, Greek Helsiniki Monitor is facing possible charges of high treason and if convicted a life sentence for speaking out about minority rights in Greece.

The Athens chief presecutors office has instigated a preliminary investigation into Dimitras's violation of article 138, paragraph 1 of the Greek criminal code which states, which states: “one who attempts by force or by threat of force to detach from the Greek State territory belonging to it or to include territory of the Greek State in another state shall be punished by death” (another article commutes death sentences to life sentences) after a complaint was received from far right nationalist and lawyer, Konstantinos Plevris in October 2007 over Dimitras's articles on  Macedonian minorities in Greece. It should be noted that Plevris was convicted of inciting racial hatred in December 2007 over the publication of his book, his book “Jews: The Whole Truth,” which denies the Holocaust took place.

In addition, according to the World Organisation Against Torture, Thanos Plevris,  MP for the far right LAOS party and son,and political associate of Mr. Kostas Plevris, also tabled a question in April 2008, asking the Greek minister for Justice to invoke his right to ask for a criminal investigation against Dimitras and the Macedonian minority political party, Rainbow.

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Greece: Government failing migrant children

(Athens) - Some 1,000 unaccompanied migrant children who have entered Greece in 2008 without parents or caregivers struggle to survive without any state assistance, Human Rights Watch said in a new report issued today. Although a member of the European Union, Greece flouts its most basic obligations when it comes to meeting the rights of these children, many of whom come from war-torn countries, including Afghanistan, Somalia, and Iraq, with special protection needs.

The 111-page report, "Left to Survive: Systematic Failure to Protect Unaccompanied Migrant Children in Greece," documents the plight of the majority of unaccompanied children who have entered Greece and end up in a daily fight for survival.

"Greece completely fails to protect these children. They work in dangerous and exploitative jobs, they beg, and they live in squalid places or sleep in parks," said Simone Troller, children's rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. "Instead of making sure they're being cared for, officials leave them living on the street without any assistance whatsoever."

The Human Rights Watch report also documents abuses of these children at the hands of Greek officials, including coast guards, regular police and port police officers. Unaccompanied children are at risk of incidents of torture, such as mock executions, and inhuman or degrading treatment, including routine kickings and beatings. Officials routinely detain unaccompanied children, including girls as young as 10. Children are often held with adults in detention, adding to their vulnerability.

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PFLP requests urgent solidarity action worldwide, and from Greece in particular

More from the San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center here.

Northern Epirus (Southern Albania) - Between a rock and a hard place

Excerpt from American Chronicle:

Elections in Albania over the past years have been treated with foreboding by the Greeks of Northern Epirus, especially given that all polls gave the notorious Dr Sali Berisha a clear lead. Sali Berisha, the leader of the Democratic Party was Prime Minister during the infamous pyramid scandal of 1997 that wiped out the life savings of a much of the population. His term in office was also characterized by anti-Greek sentiment, stemming from the bi-polarity of Albania, divided as it is, culturally and linguistically into north and south. The southerners, Tosks by race are generally left-leaning and culturally close to Greece, while several hundred of thousand of them are also Orthodox Christians. They form the core support of the Socialist party which until recently, most Greeks have supported or at least sympathized with. The north, the heartland of Berisha country is conservative, anti-Greek and for the most part anti-Orthodox, as it is feared that the Orthodox Church within Albania is nothing but a front for Greek irredentist designs there.

Indeed, as Prime Minister, Sali Berisha presided over one of the worst periods of Graeco-Albanian relations. In 1991, Greek shops were attacked in the Northern Epirot town of Agioi Saranda while in 1994, Sali Berisha proposed an amendment to the Albanian Constitution, requiring that all heads of religious groups be Albanian born. This was a direct attack on the Orthodox Church, whose hierarchs were all Greek-born and it was only because of Archbishop Anastasios' stellar efforts in assisting in the reconstruction of Albania that this racist and thoroughly divisive amendment was voted down. Nonetheless, this had already been preceded by further attacks on the Greek minority. In the spring of 1993, an ethnic Greek Orthodox priest, Archimandrite Chrysostomos Maidonis was expelled from Albania for allegedly taking part in subversive, anti-Albanian activities. He was accused by Berisha of abusing his ministry by preaching separatism and enosis among the Greek minority. In widespread unrest in the Greek villages, local leaders were arrested and there were well-attested accounts of human rights violations in the area, including the sentencing of the mayor of Dervitsiani, the heartland of Northern Epirus, to six months in prison for raising the Greek flag on Greece´s national day. This was followed by a noticeable expansion of surveillance of the minority by the reformed secret police in the minority areas, as well as a revival of the population movement controls that originated under the Communist regime.

Dr Sali Berisha then has not traditionally enjoyed much popularity among the Greeks of Northern Epirus and this can be evidenced by the fact that the Greek minority led the protests and the civic unrest that ensued as a result of the pyramid banking scandals. Some of the strongest oppositional activity focused in the most densely Greek-populated areas. Allegations of Greek involvement in the leadership of the uprising were made by the Berisha government, and the popular unrest led to early elections and the return of the Socialist government to power in June 1997.

Capitalism freezes in worldwide winter of discontent (update1)

From Bloomberg:

As capitalism staggers through its first globalized economic crisis, the costs won't be measured only in dollars and cents.

From newly rich Russia to eternally impoverished sub- Saharan Africa, social strains are threatening the established political order, putting some countries' very survival at risk.

In the past month, Nigerian rebels threatened renewed warfare against foreign oil producers, Russia sent riot police from Moscow to quell an anti-tax protest in Siberia and China's communist leadership warned of social agitation as the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre looms.

The disillusionment and spillover effects of the global recession “are not only likely to spark existing conflicts in the world and fuel terrorism, but also jeopardize global security in general,” says Louis Michel, 61, the European Union's development aid commissioner in Brussels.

Somewhere in the wreckage may lurk an unexpected test for U.S. President-elect Barack Obama, 47, one that upstages his international agenda just as Afghanistan's backwardness and radicalism led to the Sept. 11 attacks that defined the era of George W. Bush only eight months into his term.

Among the possible outcomes: instability in Pakistan, a more aggressive if economically stricken Iran, a collapsing Somalia, civil disorder in copper-dependent Zambia, a strengthened, drug-financed insurgency in Colombia and a more warlike North Korea.


[ ... ]

Historians say it's too early to declare the end of the intertwining of the global economy, under way at least since the collapse of the Soviet bloc in 1989. For one thing, developed nations still have a huge stake in the system: Even with $29 trillion wiped off the value of global equity markets last year, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is back where it was in 2003, hardly a time of privation.

As a result, disturbances in the West -- from Greece's worst riots since the 1970s, to a 31 percent increase in New Year's Eve car torchings in France, to a pickup in shoplifting at 84 percent of major U.S. retailers -- won't shake the foundations of those societies.

Protest in Athens against police treatment of immigrants

From Pakistan's Daily Times:

Hundreds of people on Sunday protested in central Athens against the Greek authorities' treatment of immigrants, following the recent deaths of two Asians near a police headquarters.

Organisers said a 24-year-old Bangladeshi man died on January 3 when he fell into a ravine after a scuffle near an immigration police station in the capital's industrial district.

His death followed the death of a Pakistani in October at the same spot, while another immigrant was found seriously injured there in December.

Greek police deny any involvement in the incidents at its immigration headquarters, where hundreds of immigrants gather every Friday evening to register requests for asylum in the country.

Last month anti-racism campaigners took to the streets in Athens against tougher European Union asylum policies that would increasingly oblige refugees to apply for asylum status from outside the bloc.

More than one million immigrants live in Greece, roughly one-tenth of the population, of whom more than 200,000 lack residency papers. The country also faces a daily influx of migrants who arrive from Asia via Turkey hoping to reach Western Europe. afp


From UN refugee agency says Greek asylum failures symptom of European problem:

The United Nations has joined a chorus of critics warning that the asylum system in Greece treats applicants unfairly and urgently needs reform.

The office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said Monday that its singling out of Greece was an unusual step prompted in part by wider concerns about the European Union's asylum policy.

"The Greek asylum system does not guarantee a fair evaluation of asylum claims," spokesman William Spindler told The Associated Press.

He said that others — including the European Parliament and non-governmental groups — have raised similar concerns about the low number of asylum applications granted by Greece as well as the poor living conditions for refugees in the Mediterranean country.

Greek politicians reacted defensively to the U.N. refugee agency's suggestion last week that other EU countries stop deporting asylum seekers to Greece...

Thus spake Zappa

... Frank, that is.

George Bush's tribute to Frank Zappa!

Or something like that...

Wikiquote
"The people that you vote for, they're the next best thing to criminals."

Palasokeri
"Nuclear explosions under the Nevada desert? What the fuck are we testing for? We already know the shit blows up."

ThinkExist.com
“It would be easier to pay off the national debt overnight than to neutralize the long-range effects of our national stupidity”

Digital Dream Door
"There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life."

Positive Atheism's Big List of Frank Zappa Quotations
"Remember there's a big difference between kneeling down and bending over."


Roberts's Homepage
"I'll do the stupid thing first and then you shy people follow..."


Liberty Tree
"The illusion of freedom [in America] will continue as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater."


The Quotations Page
"Everybody believes in something and everybody, by virtue of the fact that they believe in something, use that something to support their own existence."


Brainy Quote
"I should just drive around this city and take photos of all the buildings I've been humiliated in."

The World's Greatest Sinner
(Frank Zappa comp.)

Timothy Carey's 1962 psychiatric masterpiece!
the devil in the form of a snake, manifests himself to insurance salesman Clarence Hilliard (Timothy Carey), just an average man. He should never have listened to that snake!
...

Man is the only animal that naturally looks upwards

From India Post:

The sense universe is only one portion, one bit of that infinite spiritual universe projected into the plane of sense consciousness. How can this little bit of projection be explained, be understood, without knowing that which is beyond?

It is said of Socrates that one day while lecturing at Athens, he met a Brahmin who had traveled into Greece, and Socrates told the Brahmin that the greatest study for mankind is man. The Brahmin sharply retorted:

"How can you know man until you know God" This God, this eternally Unknowable, or Absolute, or Infinite, or without name - you may call Him by what name you like - is the rationale, the only explanation, the raison d'etre of that which is known and knowable, this present life.

Take anything before you, the most material thing - take one of the most material sciences, as chemistry or physics, astronomy or biology - study it, push the study forward and forward, and the gross forms will begin to melt and become finer and finer, until they come to a point where you are bound to make a tremendous leap from these material things into the immaterial.

The gross melts into the fine, physics into metaphysics, in every department of knowledge. Thus man finds himself driven to a study of the beyond. Life will be a desert, human life will be vain, if we cannot know the beyond. It is very well to say:

Be contented with the things of the present. The cows and the dogs are, and so are all animals; and that is what makes them animals. So if man rests content with the present and gives up all search into the beyond, mankind will have to go back to the animal plane again.

It is religion, the inquiry into the beyond, that makes the difference between man and an animal. Well has it been said that man is the only animal that naturally looks upwards; every other animal naturally looks down.

That looking upward and going upward and seeking perfection are what is called salvation; and the sooner a man begins to go higher, the sooner he raises himself towards this idea of truth as salvation...


*  *  *

Other interesting observations on human/animal comparisons:

"I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals."
-- Sir Winston Churchill

Greek reporters slam 'police brutality' at Athens protest

From Australia's ABC News:

Greek journalists have attacked police conduct at a demonstration in central Athens with the interior minister conceding that there might have been excesses.

Fourteen lawyers were among those detained after an estimated 3,000 people, chiefly teachers and students, took part in a demonstration, at times violent, against the Government on Friday (local time).

The march was organised on the anniversary of the 1991 murder of Nikos Temponeras, a teacher who was bludgeoned to death by a right-wing unionist.

Initial skirmishes broke out near the university between dozens of young people wearing hoods and anti-riot police who fired gas to disperse them.

Bins were set on fire and sticks and stones thrown at the security forces.

Clashes continued in the area, which was closed to traffic and where hundreds of demonstrators remained for an hour.

There were repeated police charges and several arrests were made. Later police headquarters were sealed off.

The detained lawyers were released after the intervention of their professional association.

The influential Athens journalists' union (ESHEA) protested to the interior ministry about "the brutal attacks and beatings" to which reporters and camera crews had been subjected...

Cities across the world become platform for hundreds of thousands of protesters against Gaza fighting

From the Mail Online:

Cities across the world became the platform for protest on Israel's military action in Gaza today.

Organisers said more than 250,000 people marched through Spain's capital of Madrid, with other European cities including Athens, Brussels, Rome, Naples Frankfurt, Munich and Berlin also the focal points of protesters.

The protest in Madrid was the largest of demonstrations across Europe, although there were expressions of both support and opposition for the Israeli offensive in Gaza.

Madrid protesters filled downtown boulevards carrying banners saying 'Peace' and 'SOS Gaza' placards above pictures of a red-stained hand and mock blood-spattered bodies of children.

Oscar-winning actor Javier Bardem's mother Pilar, addressed a crowd estimated by organisers to number 250,000.

She said: 'The Spanish government has to do something. The Gaza Strip is now practically a concentration camp.'

'It is my duty to call on Israel to implement an immediate cease-fire,' Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero told the protest in Ourense.

Twittering away

Asteris Masouras writes in New Europe:

First it was the terrorist assault on Mumbai, lasting three days last November, that generated international interest and saw Twitter used by the predominantly English-speaking Mumbaikars and several media organizations to report on the attacks. Its effect was so pivotal that a false rumor about the Indian government requesting “radio silence” on Twitter was carried by the BBC, to be quickly quashed by fact-checking citizen journalists.

Then, in early December, extensive riots broke out in Greek cities after the slaying of a teenager by police in Athens, and Twitter was used to break the language barrier, as international media were monitoring the #griots hashtag coined by users to report on the protests. Collaborative citizen journalism projects, like Global Voices Online, NowPublic, allvoices and CNN's own iReport, also coming into their own in 2008, were used to crowdsource original reports, using the abundance of multimedia and textual information emerging from the riots.

THEN CAME GAZA

Then, in late December, the Israeli offensive in Gaza caught the world mostly unaware, coinciding as it did with the holiday season, but also due to the media blackout placed in Gaza several months in advance. The camaraderie surrounding previous uses of social media in times of strife seemed to break down, as they were now being used to report on a traditionally inflamed conflict, couched in extreme political viewpoints and riddled with human rights violations. Israel made no secret of its intent to use social media as weapons in the electronic war waged alongside the conflict on the ground. Simultaneously with the launch of the ground offensive, its Consulate General in New York held a press conference on Twitter and the IDF launched a YouTube channel to provide footage from aerial and ground attacks.

Greek riots: An interpretation

From the Harvard International Review:

In addition to these three factors, some analysts have also mentioned deeper historical elements which -allegedly- make such riots, and insurgency in general, easier in Greece than in other parts of the world. Among these are the strong family networks which have challenged the authority of the Greek State since its very foundation in 1930; the clientelism which has always been at the heart of Greek political life, perverting the functioning of representative democracy; and the Greek Civil War, which divided Greece from 1946 to 1949 and which has left profound memories and divisions in Greek society.

While all of these explanations do carry some truth, there is one historical element which is worth stressing in particular. As Professor Stathis Kalyvas has observed, there is a certain cult of student unrest in Greece which goes back to 1973, when the occupation of the Polytechnic school by students contributed to the overthrow of a military dictatorship which had ruled Greece since 1967. The cult of this occupation persisted well after the reestablishment of democracy in 1974. It is celebrated every year and taught at schools as one of the most glorious events of Greek history. Those who lived it have often kept a belief that the politicization and mobilization of the youth is essentially good for democracy, even when it takes violent forms.

In this atmosphere, occupation of universities by students or even anarchist groups throwing stones at the police take place almost every year and it is not uncommon for teenagers to occupy their schools in order to protest against an educational reform. Such occupations have usually been tolerated by Greek public opinion. They are often seen as an inherent part of one's student life. For this reason, during the first couple of days, a significant part of the public opinion, including some mainstream newspapers, tolerated -and often even supported- the riots, which were interpreted as a marginal but more or less legitimate part of the democratic process. This initial tolerance of the public partly explains the endurance of the movement.

The auditory disturbances of aphasic Greek population (a factor analysis)

Purpose of the present study was to record the auditory disturbance that occurs in adult's aphasia for the Greek population. This record was made by the use of the Minnesota test for the differential diagnosis of aphasia (M.T.D.D.A) which was originally created by Hildred Schuell in 1946 [1] and was later revised in 1972 by Jenkins, Jimenes-Pabon, Shaw and Sefer [2] and preliminary standardized for the Greek language by Arampatzi and Tafiadis [3].

~ more... ~

The Nazis referred to her as the "blonde poison"

The first event that eventually led Stella down the path of becoming a catcher was when Guenther Rogoff, a longtime admirer of Stella, forged a police identification card for her (139). On July 2, 1943 Stella was arrested in a café where she was waiting for Rolf. She was turned in by an acquaintance who was a "catcher," a Jew who turned in other Jews. Stella had become a prime target for the Gestapo when they searched her papers and recognized Rogoff's handiwork; they figured that they would beat his whereabouts out of her (142). Stella met Rolf Issaksohn, her future second husband and partner in crime in late spring of 1943 and became very close with him; Rolf was later arrested in October. Stella was beaten profusely by the Gestapo with the intention of breaking her so she would turn her friend in, but she honestly did not know where Rogoff was. The treatment Stella received in Burgstrasse, where she was being held, had stripped her of the sense of self she had prior to being tortured, which was her beauty (144). Stella managed to escape Burgstrasse after complaining of a toothache; she was arrested 12 hours later along with her parents.

She escaped for a second time but later turned herself in because she felt guilty because her parents were being shipped off to Auschwitz. Instead of being deported, Stella was offered her first job as a "catcher" which was to seek out Guenther Rogoff. However, since she had no actual information she was accused of faking and sent back to jail. An SS deputy, Felix Lachmuth, became aware of Stella's Aryan like looks and intelligence and slowly recruited her as a "catcher" offering her some benefits and guaranteed safety for her parents (153). News about Stella's treachery began to spread rapidly once she began betraying her acquaintance U-boats, even her photo began to circulate in the U-boat community (155). Stella had been able to get Rolf Issaksohn recruited as another "catcher"; the pair became notorious (142, 155).

Stella had to make her "Nazi loyalty" concrete and in doing this she turned over countless Jews. The Nazis referred to her as the "blonde poison" (192). After about 7 months as a catcher, Stella was informed that her parents could not be held back from deportation any longer; both her parents and Rolf convinced her to stay in Berlin. Afterwards Stella continued her services as a catcher, attending crowded places and events as well as funerals of mixed marriages where the Aryan spouse died and the immunity for the non-Aryan would be dissolved. Rolf played a major role in pushing her to continue her job as a "catcher". Fearful of the arrival of the Allies, Stella began to grow uneasy and unmotivated; Rolf had grown tired and had shifted his sexual interests. Stella, recognizing this, began to look for "emotional anchorage, sex, and protection from worldly danger" in other men (199).

~ more... ~

Prince Harry video nasty that will spark outrage

It begins as the Prince—about to embark on training as a combat helicopter pilot—joins other cadets gathering at an airport for their flight to Cyprus. He is behind the camcorder, panning around sleeping comrades waiting for their flight.

As he films one cadet lying on the departure lounge floor, he says: “This is luxury. And here is our first example of possibly how to admin yourself (slang for looking after your kit and keeping yourself in good order) in the terminal awaiting the RAF.”

The camera pans over other snoozing soldiers, with Harry commenting “now that is bad admin, bad admin” before he suddenly stops and zooms in on the face of an unsuspecting Asian cadet yards away.

“Anybody else around here? . . . Ah, our little Paki friend . . . Ahmed,” he whispers.

After arriving in Cyprus, Harry is on exercise with his platoon when he makes his second offensive racist comment. Once again he is behind the camera, filming in the dark.

One of his comrades has put what appears to be some camouflage over his head and as he looks up at the lens Harry says: “It's Dan the Man . . . F*** me, you look like a raghead. Look at me. Look at me . . . look away.”

The video— obtained by the News of the World— then shows the Prince on manoeuvres in Cyprus with his comrades. Harry plays on-screen reporter, turning the video on himself as he walks along. Then still a Sandhurst military cadet, he sarcastically mocks the exercise they have been given to do.

~ more... ~

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