Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Musical Innerlube: SIRENIA - 'The Path To Decay'



Taken from the album "The 13th Floor". - Out January 23 via Nuclear Blast Records!

'Are we more paranoid? Experts think so'

If your friends are kidding you about paranoia, it turns out they might not be all that far off. Daniel Freeman, a clinical psychologist at The Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, and one of the world's leading authorities on paranoia, notes in Paranoia: The 21st Century Fear, a book new to U.S. stores this week, that an unfounded or exaggerated distrust of others, once believed only to be a mark of severe mental illness, is actually commonly experienced by ordinary people and appears to be on the rise. Estimates suggest that 1 in 4 of us, or about a quarter of the population, is routinely plagued by paranoid thoughts, and Freeman blames the media's affinity for repeated, graphic, extreme reports of threats along with unprecedented levels of city dwelling. Paranoia rates are twice as high in urban areas as in rural ones, he says.

Freeman doesn't suggest that there aren't legitimate threats in the world but that more people are struggling with assessing them accurately. When on chronic high alert, an ambiguous situation is apt to seem dangerous; a neutral intent, malignant. "Sometimes, we just get it wrong," he says. (Recall an incident earlier this month when nine Muslims were booted from an airplane after other passengers interpreted their reportedly benign remarks suspiciously.)

Freeman cites an example of the downside of overreacting in his book, cowritten with his brother, writer and editor Jason Freeman. Despite the relatively low risk, parents are often so concerned with keeping their children safely away from pedophiles that they quarantine them indoors, creating a real threat to their well being. Millions of U.S. children are overweight, which puts them at risk for heart troubles, diabetes, and other serious health problems. That far outweighs the risk of kidnap. Same with terrorism, Freeman notes. Cigarette-related illness and traffic accidents kill many multiples of Americans annually of the number of lives claimed by the9/11 attacks.

"People are very edgy right now," says Dennis Combs, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Texas—Tyler who also believes that paranoia is mounting. The economic slump doesn't help matters, he says, as people facing layoffs may be more apt to question the motives of coworkers. His own research has found paranoid thoughts to be prevalent among members of minority groups; they are more likely to feel that they're being monitored, say, when they're just trying to buy groceries. But he's also found that ordinary college students have paranoid thoughts. All the suspicions aren't likely good for us, Freeman says, referencing a study of 8,000 people across 40 U.S. states showing that areas with higher levels of mistrust had less social cohesion and higher death rates. Just a 10 percent boost in trust levels was associated with an 8 percent drop in death rates, he says.

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Mike Ruppert: 'Civil unrest now moves from a back to a front burner'

This is little more than hunch at the moment. The three likeliest states to have civil unrest first are Michigan, California and Ohio. These are the states hardest hit by job cuts. Ohio is of most concern to me. California is just huge and fragmented. The "fires" here would be rapidly "extinguished" by a state that has well-developed and longstanding historical plans for civil unrest going back to the 1960s. There are really probably five states in California and the fire is unlikely to spread from one "region" to another because each region has a different economic base and a different culture. Michigan is geographically off to the side of the board and already something of a "wasteland". There are no densely-packed masses of dry kindling nearby.

But Ohio is entirely different. Already devastated by auto layoffs and other massive corporate failures, Ohio's industrial areas border and are in close proximity to Kentucky, West Virginia, Indiana and Pennsylvania. Lots of kindling in those states. At the same time as Ohio is devastated by DHL, auto and other layoffs, much of the nation's high-tech wind turbine industry in Ohio is also shutting down at the same time… just when we need it. The snake eats its own tail
for nutrition. It is the way money works… for now.

Civil unrest in Ohio could easily infect across state lines here, and cross another fault line that runs east and west, separating north from south; the Mason Dixon. Other earthquakes might be triggered. Eastward from Ohio are Pennsylvania and New Jersey. I wonder how much inter-agency advance planning DHS and FEMA have gone through so that they might operate fluidly across many borders, radio frequencies and jurisdictions. Those contingencies were planned for in the Patriot Act which congress didn't or couldn't read before voting on it. I described all of this in detail in my essay, "The 'F' Word" in 2001: http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/nov202001.html.

There isn't even ten per cent of the military manpower required to impose national martial law in the Continental U.S. (CONUS). But my guess is that there will be an expansion of troop deployment in the region around Ohio soon. We should all be watching where troops are stationed as they (and if) they start coming home.

We all will have a clear understanding of who Barack Obama is and what he represents in short order. He, his administration, and whatever his base is are going to have to show their cards soon. Very soon. What we know is that many of the so-called energy and economic "solutions" espoused by Barack Obama during the campaign and since the election will fail abysmally, at or near the gate. What we pray for are more frequent and stronger signals that ears are open to any who might have some real answers… namely the Peak Oil/Sustainability movement.

~ more... ~

URGENT ALERT! Leonard Peltier's Safety Is In Jeopardy!

20 January 2009

Dear LP Supporters,

I am so OUTRAGED!  My brother Leonard was severely beaten upon his arrival at the Canaan Federal Penitentiary.  When he went into population after his transfer, some inmates assaulted him.  The severity of his injuries is that he suffered numerous blows to his head and body, receiving a large bump on his head, possibly a concussion, and numerous bruises.  Also, one of his fingers is swollen and discolored and he has pain in his chest and ribcage.  There was blood everywhere from his injuries.

We feel that prison authorities at the prompting of the FBI orchestrated this attack and thus, we are greatly concerned about his safety.  It may be that the attackers, whom Leonard did not even know, were offered reduced sentences for carrying out this heinous assault.  Since Leonard is up for parole soon, this could be a conspiracy to discredit a model prisoner.

He was placed in solitary confinement and only given one meal, this is generally done when you won't name your attackers; incidentally being only given one meal seriously jeopardizes his health because of his diabetes.   Prison officials refuse to release any info to the family, but they need to hear from his supporters to protect his safety, as does President Obama.  His attorneys are trying to get calls into him now.

This attack on LP comes on the heels of the FBI's recent letter, prompting this attack by FBI supporters as an attempt to discredit LP as a model prisoner. Anyone who has been in the prison system knows well that if you refuse to name your attackers or file charges against them, then you lose your status as a victim and/or given points against your possible parole and labeled as a perpetrator.

It is not uncommon, in fact is quite common for the government to use Indian against Indian and they still operate under the old adage “it takes an Indian to catch an Indian”. In 1978, they made an attempt to assassinate him through another Indian man who was also at Marion prison with LP. But Standing Deer chose to reveal the plot to him instead of taking his life in exchange FOR A CHANCE AT FREEDOM. When Standing Deer was released in 2001, he joined the former Leonard Peltier Defense Committee as a board member. He also began to speak on Leonard's behalf until his murder six years ago today. Prior to his murder, Standing Deer confided with close friends and associates that the same man who visited him in Marion to assassinate Peltier, had came to Houston, TX and told him that he had better stay away from Peltier and anything to do with him.

We are aware that currently, the FBI is actively seeking support for his continued imprisonment of Leonard Peltier and also also seeking support from Native People.  So please be aware, and keep Leonard in your prayers. The FBI is apparently afraid of the impact we are having. If they will set him up to blemish his record just before a parole hearing, what will they do when it looks like his freedom will become a reality? We need to make sure that nothing happens to him again!

Please write the President, send it priority or registered mail.  Email to Change.gov or email President Obama.  Call your congressional representatives and write letters, not email, to them. Do what you can to get the word out to insure that LP is receiving adequate medical attention for his injuries.

I am asking you, supporters of Leonard and advocates of justice at this time to help.  I don't know what else to do. Please Help!

Thank you.

 
Betty Ann Peltier-Solano
Executive Coordinator
Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee

Also call and request Leonard be treated with dignity and respect.
Canaan Federal Prison: 570-488-8000.

~ Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee ~

Will public education be militarized?

From Andy Kroll's The Duncan Doctrine on TomDispatch.com:

On December 16th, a friendship forged nearly two decades ago on the hardwood of the basketball court culminated in a press conference at the Dodge Renaissance Academy, an elementary school located on the west side of Chicago. In a glowing introduction to the media, President-elect Barack Obama named Arne Duncan, the chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Schools system (CPS), as his nominee for U.S. Secretary of Education. "When it comes to school reform," the President-elect said, "Arne is the most hands-on of hands-on practitioners. For Arne, school reform isn't just a theory in a book -- it's the cause of his life. And the results aren't just about test scores or statistics, but about whether our children are developing the skills they need to compete with any worker in the world for any job."

Though the announcement came amidst a deluge of other Obama nominations -- he had unveiled key members of his energy and environment teams the day before and would add his picks for the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior the next day -- Duncan's selection was eagerly anticipated, and garnered mostly favorable reactions in education circles and in the media. He was described as the compromise candidate between powerful teachers' unions and the advocates of charter schools and merit pay. He was also regularly hailed as a "reformer," fearless when it came to challenging the educational status quo and more than willing to shake up hidebound, moribund public school systems.

Yet a closer investigation of Duncan's record in Chicago casts doubt on that label. As he packs up for Washington, Duncan leaves behind a Windy City legacy that's hardly cause for optimism, emphasizing as it does a business-minded, market-driven model for education. If he is a "reformer," his style of management is distinctly top-down, corporate, and privatizing. It views teachers as expendable, unions as unnecessary, and students as customers.

Disturbing as well is the prominence of Duncan's belief in offering a key role in public education to the military. Chicago's school system is currently the most militarized in the country, boasting five military academies, nearly three dozen smaller Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps programs within existing high schools, and numerous middle school Junior ROTC programs. More troubling yet, the military academies he's started are nearly all located in low-income, minority neighborhoods. This merging of military training and education naturally raises concerns about whether such academies will be not just education centers, but recruitment centers as well.

~ more... ~


Historical mystery of Bush's presidency

After little more than two years of the Watergate scandal, Richard Nixon resigned and his successor, Gerald Ford, famously declared, “our long national nightmare is over.” But the painful end game of Nixon's presidency was nothing compared to the eight excruciating years of George W. Bush.

Even on Inauguration Day 2009, as most Americans rejoice that Bush's disastrous presidency is finally heading into the history books, there should be reflection on how this catastrophe could have befallen the United States – and on who else was responsible.

Indeed, it may become one of the great historical mysteries, leaving future scholars to scratch their heads over how a leader with as few qualifications as George W. Bush came to lead the world's most powerful nation at the start of the 21st century.

How could a significant number of American voters have thought that an enterprise as vast and complicated as the U.S. government could be guided by a person who had failed at nearly every job he ever had, whose principal qualification was that his father, George H.W. Bush, was fondly remembered as having greater personal morality than Bill Clinton?

Why did so many Americans think that a little-traveled, incurious and inarticulate man of privilege could lead the United States in a world of daunting challenges, shifting dangers and sharpening competition?

What had transformed American politics so much that, for many Americans, personal trivia, like Al Gore's earth-tone sweaters, trumped serious policy debates, like global warming, health care for citizens, prudent fiscal policies and a responsible foreign policy? How could George W. Bush, who was born with a shiny silver spoon in his mouth, sell himself as a populist everyman?

Even taking into account the controversial outcome of Election 2000 – which saw Gore win more votes than Bush – why was the margin close enough so Bush could snatch the White House away with the help of five Republicans on the U.S. Supreme Court?

And why did the nation – after the 9/11 attacks – so willingly follow Bush into a radical divergence from traditional U.S. foreign policy and into violations of longstanding national principles of inalienable rights and the rule of law?

~ more... ~

Presidential Pardoning Power, and More from CRS

From Steven Aftergood's Secrecy News blog:

“It also appears that a pardon may be revoked at any time prior to acceptance or delivery” of the warrant of pardon, according to the CRS assessment, which finds no flaw in the recent decision by President Bush “not to execute” a previously announced pardon in the case of real estate developer Isaac R. Toussie.  See “An Overview of the Presidential Pardoning Power” (pdf), January 7, 2009.

~ more... ~

Greek farmer protests close airport, highways

Greek farmers shut down an airport on the island of Crete and blocked highways on the mainland with protests Tuesday, demanding higher agricultural subsidies and pensions and lower fuel taxes.

Civil aviation officials said Crete's Iraklio Airport _ Greece's third-largest _ closed to traffic after farmers with tractors and heavy machinery put their vehicles in the airplane parking area.

~ more... ~

Greece: automatic weapons found in abandoned car

Police in northern Greece say they have found three automatic weapons and 34,000 bullets in an abandoned car.

~ more... ~

Tutu backs 6,000-mile bike ride

A Lincolnshire cyclist has received a message from Archbishop Desmond Tutu thanking her for taking part in a massive fund-raising trip.

Marie O'Shea (29), of Arden Moor Way, North Hykeham, took on the 6,000-mile bike challenge – called Down Right Kenya – to raise money to equip rural schools in Kenya.

The environmental scientist, who worked for Lincoln-based Delta-Simons before her trip, set off with two other cyclists last September.

She travelled through France, the Swiss Alps, Italy and Greece before continuing through the Middle East.

Archbishop Tutu – who became patron of the epic cycle ride – sent a message to Down Right Kenya from his personal e-mail address.

In it the South African church leader said: "Down Right Kenya, you chaps are fantastic. Thank you for your amazing generosity and your superb physical fitness.

"It is unbelievable that you have already raised so much money and cycled all those many miles.

Thank you, thank you. Asante sana in Swahili. Your dedication and generosity are just so inspirational. God is smiling."

~ more... ~

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss?

ABC notices the inaugural price tag

Holding a splashy inaugural during economic difficulties got George Bush some bad press in 2001, and again in 2005 while we fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The amounts spent on those two inaugurals pale in comparison to the estimated $170 million price tag of Barack Obama's inauguration, and the media has finally begun to notice the price — and the people paying it.  ABC News reports that the Hope and Change Express will get funded by beneficiaries of the government bailout pushed by Obama and the Democrats:

    The biggest group of donors were none other than the recently bailed-out Wall Street executives and employees.

    “The finance sector is well represented, despite its recent troubles,” Ritsch said. “Those who worked in finance still managed to pull together nearly $7 million for the inauguration.”

    The donors will get some of the best seats in the house for the inauguration, as well as admittance to some of the best balls and other events.

    “I don't think that they're going to get a whole lot of face time with the new president himself,” Ritsch said, “but they are certainly establishing themselves from day one as his biggest financial supporters. And if there's something they need or to tell him down the road, they will have an easier time doing that than everyone else.”


RIAA.Change.Gov?

How's this for “Change”? President-elect Barack Obama named four former Clinton administration officials to leadership posts in the Justice Department Wednesday, among them Tom Perrelli–favored counsel of the Recording Industry Association of America. Perrelli, Obama's choice for associate attorney general, currently co-chairs law firm Jenner & Block's entertainment and new media practice. And in that capacity he has represented the RIAA in a number of file-sharing cases. From his official biography: “Mr. Perrelli regularly represents the recording industry in cutting-edge intellectual property, technology, and anti-piracy litigation. He has represented the recording industry in a host of cases arising under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA), as well as in copyright infringement and digital piracy litigation. He has also represented the record industry and recording artists in a series of copyright royalty proceedings before the Copyright Royalty Board.”


Something completely different

Perhaps it would be a bit much to quote from the Book of Revelation: “Behold, I make all things new!” How about Monty Python? “And Now For Something Completely Different....”
    There is a tension in the air today between two ways of viewing the inauguration of the 44th president of the United States. On the one hand you have thousands upon thousands who have scraped and planned and arranged to be in Washington — or the millions upon millions who will be watching from a distance and with them in spirit — who are fairly vibrating, resonating with communal anticipation. This includes elderly black folk who are praising God because they never thought they'd see the day. It contains — just barely, given the magnitude of their excitement — young people of all colors who left school and jobs and suspended their lives for a year and more to work toward this day. And more conventionally, it includes Democrats who are as thrilled as any group of partisans have ever been that their guy is finally going to replace that other guy.
    On the other hand, there are those who think this is all a bit much, or more than a bit: Whoop-tee-do, they think. A guy won an election. He's just this guy, you know. Meet the new boss; same as the old boss. Nothing changes: One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.
    Some of the latter, jaded, unexcited group are Republicans. Pretty much all of them are white. There's not necessarily anything bad about them; they don't want to rain on anybody's parade. They just sort of want it over with. As Kathleen Parker suggests in the column on the facing page, there's just so much earnestness and idealistic hoorah that one thinking person can possibly stand as we stride forth into this new age. That doesn't make Ms. Parker a bad person. And I know that neither she nor the others in the “this is all a bit much” set are bad people, because, well, I'm sort of one of them.
    Or at least, I was. In the last few days, I changed my mind. The cynics are wrong, and the folks who just can't contain themselves have it exactly right.


Reid: Lobbyists are people, too

As the Who once said, “Meet the new boss — same as the old boss.”  Old Hope and Change: Lobbyists are evil.  New Hope and Change: Lobbyists are mommies and daddies, too.  Harry Reid promises that lobbyists will find welcoming arms in the new Obama administration, and certainly from the Democratic Congress:

In his historic speech Tuesday morning, President Barack Obama said the era of “protecting narrow interests” is over - an echo of his campaign promise that lobbyists and special interests would lose their clout in his White House. But lobbyists still have defenders in Washington D.C., including one of Obama's most powerful allies, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada).

Reid invited top lobbyists to join him and his supporters for an inaugural brunch Monday where he told ABC News that he will still do plenty of business with them.

“And there's nothing wrong with that,” said Reid. “And Obama will be meeting with them too.” When asked to clarify his remarks, given Obama's promises to change that part of Capitol culture, Reid responded that lobbyists are part and parcel of the job.

“People should understand that lobbyists, per se, are someone's father, mother, son, daughter,” said Reid. “They work for a living.” The Democratic leader's sons and a son-in-law have worked as lobbyists.



Obama: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

There seems to be quite a lot of genuine excitement in the English language media following the election of Barack Obama. Various commentators are talking about it as if it signifies real change within America and even the world, rather than just the end of another of America's four yearly electoral circuses.

If one were to believe the media it, would appear that after eight long years of Bush America has undergone a real transformation, the first Black President, and a commitment to real radical change.

It sounds like it is too good to be true. Obviously it is.

So what can we expect from the new regime in the US. Let's look at foreign policy first. Of course, it is possible to look back at the last Democratic Government in the US, that of Bill Clinton. This was a government that fired cruise missiles almost indiscriminately at its enemies. From factories producing medical goods in Sudan to residential areas in Iraq, not forgetting to fire a few at Afghanistan in-between. We call also mention the two air bombardment campaigns in ex-Yugoslavia, which was referred to at the time as Humanitarian bombing. We could also point to his continuation of US sanctions against Iraq, which according to UNICEF caused the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children, the fact that he was the first to introduce the ideological basis of Bush's terror campaign. It was Clinton who first used the terms 'state sponsor of terrorism' and 'rogue state'. There was also the little matter of an invasion of Haiti…

But let's not damn Obama on the past record of his party in Government. Let's allow the man to speak for himself. In April 2007 in his first major foreign policy speech, Obama stated that "We must lead by building a 21st century military.... I strongly support the expansion of our ground forces by adding 65,000 soldiers to the Army and 27,000 Marines.” One would wonder what he wants nearly 100,000 new soldiers for. Well, when he was asked on Fox News last month about the possibility of bombing Iran he stated that he “would never take a military option off the table.” He also wants to put an extra 10,000 troops into Afghanistan where he said that President Bush had 'responded correctly' in fighting the 'good war', a 'good war in which between 20,000 and 60,000 civilians have been killed. He also believes that Pakistan is “the right battlefield ...in the war on terrorism”, and has threatened to attack it.

To be honest all this puts him right at the centre of the Democratic tradition from Kennedy and Johnson in Vietnam via Clinton in Somalia, Kosovo and Iraq.

Musical Innerlube: Pete Townsend - 'Won't get fooled again'

Great acoustic guitar

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

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