Saturday, January 30, 2010

Protester restrained trying to 'arrest' Blair

An anti-war protester has been restrained by police after trying to perform a citizen's arrest on Tony Blair at the Iraq Inquiry.

Grace McCann was held back by police as the former prime minister left the QEII Centre, after a day of giving evidence to the inquiry panel.

She was inspired by a website, arrestblair.org, offering a reward to people "attempting a peaceful citizen's arrest" on Mr Blair "for crimes against peace".

Ms McCann told Sky News: "I believe very strongly that the Iraq war was illegal.

"I agree with the Stop The War Coalition that he is a war criminal and that is the basis on which I would have arrested him."

Earlier, demonstrators paraded a coffin, wore handcuffs and displayed fake blood on their hands, as they named soldiers killed in the conflict and called for Mr Blair to be arrested.

Families of some of the soldiers killed in Iraq were inside the building during Mr Blair's evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry.

A row erupted over where the protesters were allowed to hold their demonstration, with activists claiming they were being kept away from the immediate vicinity of the QEII Centre in Westminster.

Anti-war groups from cities across the UK were among the demonstrators with many holding banners and placards calling Mr Blair "Bliar".

Lindsey German, convenor of the Stop The War Coalition, said negotiations with the Metropolitan Police over where protesters could stand had broken down.

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Friday, January 29, 2010

Outrage at ban on Blair inquiry demo

By Paddy McGuffin, Morning Star

Anti-war campaigners have accused the police and government of attempting to prevent lawful protest outside the Iraq inquiry when Tony Blair gives evidence on Friday.

Organisers said that negotiations with police over the planned mass protest had broken down.

The vigil outside the QE2 conference centre in Westminster was due to take place on the patch of green immediately in front of the inquiry venue.

Campaigners have now been told that the area is private property, but that other locations further from the centre may be available as an alternative.

Both CND and Stop the War condemned the decision as politically motivated in a bid to spare Mr Blair's blushes.

A Stop the War spokeswoman said: "This is a denial of our democratic rights and we will now call for the widest possible mobilisation not just to express the majority view in this country that Tony Blair should be held to account for war crimes but in defence of the right to protest."

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "We have worked with Stop the War Coalition for some time now to try and accommodate their requirements to protest on Friday.

"We have had a useful dialogue and we were aiming to finalise plans for the exact location they will be able to protest. This decision was never ours alone to make - it is for the QE2 to decide who they allow onto the QE2's land."

QE2 centre chief executive Ernest Vincent said that, while they were co-operating with police, they had little input in the discussions and denied any political motivation.

"We are a commercially run organisation. The Iraq inquiry is but one event taking place on Friday and we have to respect all our occupants," he said.

CND chairwoman Kate Hudson described the decision as "disgraceful."

She said: "The police have stated they have no security objections to our vigil being held outside the inquiry. So we can only assume this is an attempt to protect Tony Blair from the overwhelming anti-war sentiment that exists in this country.

"It is only proper that he should see and hear those of us who have been proved right in our opposition to his war, particularly the many family members of those he sent to die."

Apology of an economic hit man - the documentary

John Perkins' Confessions of an economic hit man brought to the screen by Stelios Kouloglou's documentary. Here's the official trailer for the 2008 release:



http://www.hitmanapology.com

Blair gives evidence to Iraq war inquiry

AFP story via The Sydney Morning Herald:

Former British prime minister Tony Blair began giving evidence to the public inquiry into the Iraq war on Friday, starting an eagerly awaited day of questioning into his account of the conflict.

Relatives of some of the 179 British soldiers killed in the conflict were among the audience watching the proceedings in a central London conference venue.

The chairman of the inquiry, retired civil servant John Chilcot, said the point of the questions would be to establish "Why did we invade Iraq?".

Chilcot acknowledged that Britain's involvement in Iraq "remains a divisive subject, it's one that provokes strong emotions" especially among the relatives of the British forces who died in the war.

However, he reiterated that his committee intended to identify the lessons to be learned from the conflict, but was not a court, adding: "The inquiry is not a trial." Related article: Blair slips past protesters

In reference to the anti-war protesters outside the conference centre, and reports that some of the members of the public inside were planning some kind of demonstration against Blair during the evidence, he urged calm.

"The committee hopes we can go about our business in an orderly way," Chilcot said, adding: "The right of our witness to respond must be respected."

He said Friday's session would focus on the run-up to the US-led invasion in 2003, the chaotic immediate aftermath of the war and the subsequent surge in violence.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

US waves white flag in disastrous 'war on drugs'

After 40 years of defeat and failure, America's "war on drugs" is being buried in the same fashion as it was born – amid bloodshed, confusion, corruption and scandal. US agents are being pulled from South America; Washington is putting its narcotics policy under review, and a newly confident region is no longer prepared to swallow its fatal Prohibition error. Indeed, after the expenditure of billions of dollars and the violent deaths of tens of thousands of people, a suitable epitaph for America's longest "war" may well be the plan, in Bolivia, for every family to be given the right to grow coca in its own backyard.

The "war", declared unilaterally throughout the world by Richard Nixon in 1969, is expiring as its strategists start discarding plans that have proved futile over four decades: they are preparing to withdraw their agents from narcotics battlefields from Colombia to Afghanistan and beginning to coach them in the art of trumpeting victory and melting away into anonymous defeat. Not surprisingly, the new strategy is being gingerly aired in the media of the US establishment, from The Wall Street Journal to the Miami Herald.

Prospects in the new decade are thus opening up for vast amounts of useless government expenditure being reassigned to the treatment of addicts instead of their capture and imprisonment. And, no less important, the ever-expanding balloon of corruption that the "war" has brought to heads of government, armies and police forces wherever it has been waged may slowly start to deflate.

Prepare to shed a tear over the loss of revenue that eventual decriminalisation of narcotics could bring to the traffickers, large and small, and to the contractors who have been making good money building and running the new prisons that help to bankrupt governments – in the US in particular, where drug offenders – principally small retailers and seldom the rich and important wholesalers – have helped to push the prison population to 1,600,000; their imprisonment is already straining federal and state budgets. In Mississippi, where drug offenders once had to serve 85 per cent of their sentences, they are now being required to serve less than a quarter. California has been ordered to release 40,000 inmates because its prisons are hugely overcrowded.

At the same time, some in the US are confused and fear that the new commission proposed by Congressman Eliot Engel, a man with a record of hostility to the Cuban and Venezuelan governments, may prove to be a broken reed. As he brought in his bill he added timidly: "Let me be absolutely clear that this bill has not been introduced to support the legalisation of illegal drugs. That is not something that I would like to see."

Part of the reason for the slow US retreat from the "war" is that the strategy of fighting it in foreign lands and not at home has proved valueless. Along the already sensitive frontier with Mexico the effect of US attempts to enforce a hard line by blasting drug dealers away has been bloody. Anxious to keep in check the flood of illegal immigrants into territory that once belonged to Mexico, Washington is building a wall and fence comparable to that which once cut through Berlin and that which is today causing havoc between Israelis and Palestinians.

In the areas of Mexico closest to the US frontier the toll of deaths in drug-related violence exceeded 7,000 people in 2009 (1,000 of them dying in January and February). This takes the death toll over three years to above 16,000, figures far in excess of US fatalities in Afghanistan. The bloodshed has continued despite – or perhaps because of – the intense US pressure on President Felipe Calderon to station a large part of the Mexican army in the region. It is deploying 49,000 men on its own soil in the campaign against drugs, a larger force than the 46,000 Britain sent to take part in the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003. But still the blood flows.

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And, from across the Atlantic:

UK Citizenship Cannabis Project 2009

Follow the money



Standing at the pump, watching the numbers tick away, do you ever wonder where the money goes? You're not alone: People on the other end of the pipeline are wondering too. While we feel the pinch in our pockets, citizens of oil-producing countries are often not seeing the profits.

Humor: Lewis Black - The Old Testament



How it is, was and will be.

Don’t give money to Haiti

...The problem is that Haiti, if it wasn’t a failed state before the earthquake, is almost certainly a failed state now — and one of the lessons we’ve learned from trying to rebuild failed states elsewhere in the world is that throwing money at the issue is very likely to backfire.

What’s more, charities raising money for Haiti right now are going to have to earmark that money to be spent in Haiti and in Haiti only. For a Haiti-specific charity like Yele, that’s not an option. But as The Smoking Gun shows, Yele is not the soundest of charitable institutions: it has managed only one tax filing in its 12-year existence, and it has a suspicious habit of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on paying either Wyclef Jean personally or paying companies where he’s a controlling shareholder, or paying his recording-studio expenses. If you want to be certain that your donation will be well spent, you might be a bit worried that, for instance, Yele is going to be receiving 20% of the proceeds of the telethon.

Meanwhile, none of the money from the telethon will go to the wholly admirable Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders, which has already received enough money over the past three days to keep its Haiti mission running for the best part of the next decade. MSF is behaving as ethically as it can, and has determined that the vast majority of the spike in donations that it’s received in the past few days was intended to be spent in Haiti. It will therefore earmark that money for Haiti, and try to spend it there over the coming years, even as other missions, elsewhere in the world, are still in desperate need of resources. Do give money to MSF, then, but if you do, make sure that your donation is unrestricted. The charity will do its very best in Haiti either way, but by allowing your money to be spent anywhere, you will help people in dire need all over the world, not just in Haiti...

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Focus on Haiti - The politics of rice





In 2008, in the midst of the global food crisis, we travelled to Haiti to look at the politics of rice - how such a fertile country became dependent on food aid. In the wake of this current disaster, that dependence is - initially - going to deepen. But as relief efforts slowly turn to plans for reconstruction, it is important to look back at the policies that brought Haiti to the brink in the first place, and the people who had their own vision of self-sufficiency all along. Avi Lewis talks about the US role in the development of Haiti with PJ Crowley, the spokesman at the US state department, and Emira Woods, the co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies and an expert on US foreign policy.

Slavery in US prisons - Interview with Robert King & Terry Kupers



"Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction." --13th Amendment, 1865.

An 18,000-acre former slave plantation in rural Louisiana, the infamous Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola is the largest prison in the U.S. Today, with African Americans composing over 75% of Angola's 5,108 prisoners, prison guards known as "free men," a forced 40-hour workweek, and four cents an hour as minimum wage, the resemblance to antebellum U.S. slavery is striking. In the early 1970s, it was even worse, as prisoners were forced to work 96-hour weeks (16 hours a day/six days a week) with two cents an hour as minimum wage. Officially considered (according to its own website) the "Bloodiest Prison in the South" at this time, violence from guards and between prisoners was endemic. Prison authorities sanctioned prisoner rape, and according to former Prison Warden Murray Henderson, the prison guards actually helped facilitate a brutal system of sexual slavery where the younger and physically weaker prisoners were bought and sold into submission. As part of the notorious "inmate trusty guard" system, responsible for killing 40 prisoners and seriously maiming 350 between 1972-75, some prisoners were given state-issued weapons and ordered to enforce this sexual slavery, as well as the prison's many other injustices. Life at Angola was living hell -- a 20th century slave plantation.

Black Panthers Robert Hillary King, Albert Woodfox, and Herman Wallace are known as the "Angola Three." Woodfox and Wallace were co-founders of a Black Panther Party chapter at Angola in the early 1970s. These Panthers saw life at Angola as modern-day slavery and fought back with non-violent hunger strikes and work strikes. Prison authorities were outraged by the BPP's organizing, and retaliated by framing these three BPP organizers for murders that they did not commit. Woodfox and Wallace were both framed for the 1972 stabbing death of white prison guard Brent Miller, and have now spent over 37 years in solitary confinement. King was framed for a 1973 murder of another prisoner, and spent 29 years in solitary confinement until he was released from in 2001 after his conviction was overturned.

This new video released by Angola 3 News is the third part of an interview conducted with Robert King and Terry Kupers in October 2009, in Oakland, CA. when King was in town for Black Panther History Month. In the first two parts King and Kupers discussed the psychological impact of imprisonment (watch here). In this new video, Robert King and Dr. Terry Kupers, argue that slavery persists today in Angola and other U.S. prisons, citing the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which legalizes slavery in prisons as "a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted." As King says: "You can be legally incarcerated but morally innocent."

Dr. Terry Kupers, M.D., M.S.P. wrote the introduction to Robert King's 2008 autobiography entitled From the Bottom of the Heap: The Autobiography of Robert Hillary King, and is Institute Professor at The Wright Institute in Berkeley, California. Dr. Kupers is a psychiatrist with a background in psychoanalytic psychotherapy, forensics and social and community psychiatry. His forensic psychiatry experience includes testimony in several large class action litigations concerning jail and prison conditions, sexual abuse, and the quality of mental health services inside correctional facilities. He is a consultant to Human Rights Watch, and author of the 1999 book entitled Prison Madness: The Mental Health Crisis Behind Bars and What We Must Do About It.

This video features archival photos from the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Wall Street Journal editor Douglas A. Blackmon, entitled Slavery By Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II.

Why the use of a nuclear weapon, most probably on a U.S. city, is becoming likely

...Dear enemies,

A few days ago I sent the following letter…:

Admiral Timothy J. Keating
Commander
Northern Command
northcompa@northcom.mil
Dear Admiral Keating,

    Rummy is nuts.  Your upcoming nuclear 'exercise', (response to a make-believe terrorist nuking), is now making the rounds of the alternative Internet news.  I clicked to the Northern Command site from www.rense.com. Can't see how it would not as the false-flags of 9/11 and London had many concurrent military exercises.

    Here is a joke that was going around Norfolk awhile back: Imagine a big plate of spaghetti.  You know what military unit markers are on maps.  Imagine a whole shaker of them.  Sprinkle them all over the spaghetti. Now you need some small arrows, curved and straight.  Get a shaker of these and sprinkle them all over also.  What have you got?  That's General Montgomery's and General Patton's assault on Sicily reworked by Rummy's Joint Forces Command.

    Joint Forces Command has the real function of making the command structure so complicated that at any given moment only a few insiders know what is really going on.  Therein an army Lieutenant. could at some moment out-rank a naval Captain etc.  All in awe of those 'officers' with some strange inside connections.  And most of those officers who do seem 'connected' in that way are so unprintably strange I pity those who must salute them.  Joint Forces Command, by hidden and convoluted command structure itself, has been turned into an SS sans jack boots.  Look at the colossal military mess with sea supply 'Van Riper'ly threatened and the air supply through the Stans facing ten divisions.  Courtesy the 'bunker boys' someplace underground near Tampa.

    This leads, sir, to an obvious question.  While you are in Ft. Monroe as commander of this 'make believe' nuking will you in fact be truly and fully in command?

    Sincerely,
    Michael Donovan
    Camden, Maine

I have lived through, and been close to, two separate nuclear threats.  One was in 54 as a child and the other in 1984.  Neither is well known.  There is an unmistakable energy, a 'feel', leading up to these events.  This dire energy is emerging again.  I reason that unlike the other close-calls only wider, vastly wider, understanding of the overall problem could defuse this.

The letter was posted on a number of Internet sites.  I see now that I need be far more specific.  The simple broadcast of the exercise itself has irrevocably changed the entire nuclear landscape. The underlying nuclear threat is not seen correctly.  It is not seen correctly either by the masses or by the rulers who for six decades have held a very different view of atomic bombs, a view never presented to the masses.  Nuclear threat dynamics are changing more quickly than any sensible pragmatic reaction. Even with a stand-down of this exercise, and a clear up-to-date dialogue concerning how nuclear threats emerge, the known concept of the exercise alone will be dangerously counter-productive.  It could blow up.  And if it does not blow up, it will still lead down that blow-back greased slope.  We are tending toward a nuclear event one way or another...

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Don McCullin's 1989 film about London's homeless

Don McCullin, an internationally-regarded British photojournalist particularly recognised for his war photography and images of urban strife, examined the underside of society - the unemployed, downtrodden and the impoverished - in this moving 1989 film for Newsnight.

Newsnight's librarian Adam Gotch chose this film because it was one of the earliest examples of the programme using a famous person as the reporter. Don McCullin had approached Newsnight because he wanted to tackle the homeless problem and even though he had photographed many awful situations he was still deeply affected by what he found and his compassion is really tangible.

Originally broadcast on 24 October 1989.

Watch video here.


Don McCullin profile.

Wanted: Tony Blair for war crimes. Arrest him and claim your reward

By George Monbiot, The Guardian

The only question that counts is the one that the Chilcot inquiry won't address: was the war with Iraq illegal? If the answer is yes, everything changes. The war is no longer a political matter, but a criminal one, and those who commissioned it should be committed for trial for what the Nuremberg tribunal called "the supreme international crime": the crime of aggression.

But there's a problem with official inquiries in the United Kingdom: the government appoints their members and sets their terms of reference. It's the equivalent of a criminal suspect being allowed to choose what the charges should be, who should judge his case and who should sit on the jury. As a senior judge told the Guardian in November: "Looking into the legality of the war is the last thing the government wants. And actually, it's the last thing the opposition wants either because they voted for the war. There simply is not the political pressure to explore the question of legality – they have not asked because they don't want the answer."

Others have explored it, however. Two weeks ago a Dutch inquiry, led by a former supreme court judge, found that the invasion had "no sound mandate in international law". Last month Lord Steyn, a former law lord, said that "in the absence of a second UN resolution authorising invasion, it was illegal". In November Lord Bingham, the former lord chief justice, stated that, without the blessing of the UN, the Iraq war was "a serious violation of international law and the rule of law".

Under the United Nations charter, two conditions must be met before a war can legally be waged. The parties to a dispute must first "seek a solution by negotiation" (article 33). They can take up arms without an explicit mandate from the UN security council only "if an armed attack occurs against [them]" (article 51). Neither of these conditions applied. The US and UK governments rejected Iraq's attempts to negotiate. At one point the US state department even announced that it would "go into thwart mode" to prevent the Iraqis from resuming talks on weapons inspection (all references are on my website). Iraq had launched no armed attack against either nation.

We also know that the UK government was aware that the war it intended to launch was illegal. In March 2002, the Cabinet Office explained that "a legal justification for invasion would be needed. Subject to law officers' advice, none currently exists." In July 2002, Lord Goldsmith, the attorney general, told the prime minister that there were only "three possible legal bases" for launching a war – "self-defence, ­humanitarian intervention, or UNSC [security council] authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case." Bush and Blair later failed to obtain security council authorisation.

As the resignation letter on the eve of the war from Elizabeth Wilmshurst, then deputy legal adviser to the ­Foreign Office, revealed, her office had ­"consistently" advised that an ­invasion would be unlawful without a new UN resolution. She explained that "an unlawful use of force on such a scale amounts to the crime of aggression". Both Wilmshurst and her former boss, Sir Michael Wood, will testify before the Chilcot inquiry tomorrow. Expect fireworks.

Without legal justification, the war with Iraq was an act of mass murder: those who died were unlawfully killed by the people who commissioned it. Crimes of aggression (also known as crimes against peace) are defined by the Nuremberg principles as "planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties". They have been recognised in international law since 1945. The Rome statute, which established the international criminal court (ICC) and which was ratified by Blair's government in 2001, provides for the court to "exercise jurisdiction over the crime of aggression", once it has decided how the crime should be defined and prosecuted.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Robert Sapolsky: The uniqueness of humans



On June 13, 2009, Robert Sapolsky, world renowned professor of neurology, neurological sciences, neurosurgery and biological sciences gave the class day lecture in association with commencement weekend 2009. Having been selected to talk by the Stanford University graduating class, Sapolsky spoke about the uniqueness of humans in relation to the rest of the animal world. A few of the topics he spoke on include aggression, theory of mind, the golden rule and pleasure.

Stanford University
http://www.stanford.edu

Stanford University Channel on YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/stanford

Monday, January 25, 2010

David Kelly post mortem to be kept secret for 70 years as doctors accuse Lord Hutton of concealing vital information

Vital evidence which could solve the mystery of the death of Government weapons inspector Dr David Kelly will be kept under wraps for up to 70 years.

In a draconian – and highly unusual – order, Lord Hutton, the peer who chaired the controversial inquiry into the Dr Kelly scandal, has secretly barred the release of all medical records, including the results of the post mortem, and unpublished evidence.

The move, which will stoke fresh speculation about the true circumstances of Dr Kelly's death, comes just days before Tony Blair appears before the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War.

It is also bound to revive claims of an establishment cover-up and fresh questions about the verdict that Dr Kelly killed himself.

Tonight, Dr Michael Powers QC, a doctor campaigning to overturn the Hutton findings, said: 'What is it about David Kelly's death which is so secret as to justify these reports being kept out of the public domain for 70 years?'

Campaigning Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker, who has also questioned the verdict that Dr Kelly committed suicide, said: 'It is astonishing this is the first we've known about this decision by Lord Hutton and even more astonishing he should have seen fit to hide this material away.'

The body of former United Nations weapons inspector Dr Kelly was found in July 2003 in woods close to his Oxfordshire home, shortly after he was exposed as the source of a BBC news report questioning the Government's claims that

Saddam Hussein had an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, which could be deployed within 45 minutes.

Lord Hutton's 2004 report, commissioned by Mr Blair, concluded that Dr Kelly killed himself by cutting his wrist with a blunt gardening knife.

It was dismissed by many experts as a whitewash for clearing the Government of any culpability, despite evidence that it had leaked Dr Kelly's name in an attempt to smear him.

Only now has it emerged that a year after his inquiry was completed, Lord Hutton took unprecedented action to ensure that the vital evidence remains a state secret for so long.

A letter, leaked to The Mail on Sunday, revealed that a 30-year ban was placed on 'records provided [which were] not produced in evidence'. This is thought to refer to witness statements given to the inquiry which were not disclosed at the time.

In addition, it has now been established that Lord Hutton ordered all medical reports – including the post-mortem findings by pathologist Dr Nicholas Hunt and photographs of Dr Kelly's body – to remain classified information for 70 years.

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

FKN Newz: Haiti Terror

Satire from Deek Jackson:

Woman escapes jail for breaching sex Asbo

Caroline and Steve Cartwright's sex life was so loud, the local postman and a woman taking her child to school complained.

Cartwright, 48, was first hit with a noise abatement notice, and then when she breached that the tougher Asbo was imposed, ordering her to quieten down in the bedroom.

Almost immediately after it was imposed she broke it and then failed in an appeal to have it overturned.

Jobless Cartwright used Article 8 of the Human Rights Act to argue she had a right to ''respect for her private and family life''.

[ ... ]

Their love making was described as ''murder'' and ''unnatural'' and drowned out their neighbours' televisions.

Neighbours said the Cartwrights' sex sessions would usually start around midnight and last for two or three hours, every night of the week.

Specialist equipment installed in a neighbour's flat by Sunderland City Council recorded noise levels of between 30 to 40 decibels, with the highest being 47 decibels.

At an earlier hearing Mrs Cartwright explained she was unable to control the noise she made during sex.

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Guantanamo guard reunited with ex-inmates

Why would a former Guantanamo Bay prison guard track down two of his former captives - two British men - and agree to fly to London to meet them?

"You look different without a cap."

"You look different without the jump suits."

With those words, an extraordinary reunion gets under way.

The last time Ruhal Ahmed met Brandon Neely, he was "behind bars, behind a cage and [Brandon] was on the other side".

The location had been Camp X-Ray - the high-security detention camp run by the US in Guantanamo Bay. Mr Ahmed, originally from Tipton in the West Midlands, was among several hundred foreign terror suspects held at the centre.

Mr Neely was one of his guards.

The scene of this current exchange of pleasantries couldn't be more different from where they last met - a television studio in London. Also here is Shafiq Rasul, a fellow ex-Guantanamo prisoner, without whose Facebook page the reunion would never have happened.

The journey of reconciliation began almost a year ago in Huntsville, Texas. Mr Neely, 29, had left the US military in 2005 to become a police officer and was still struggling to come to terms with his time as a guard at Guantanamo.

He felt anger at a number of incidents of abuse he says he witnessed, and guilt over one in particular.

Highly controversial since it opened in 2002, Guantanamo prison was set up by President George Bush in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks to house suspected "terrorists". But it has been heavily divisive and President Barack Obama has said it has "damaged [America's] national security interests and become a tremendous recruiting tool for al Qaeda".

Mr Neely recalls only the good publicity in the US media.

"The news would always try to make Guantanamo into this great place," he says, "like 'they [prisoners] were treated so great'. No it wasn't. You know here I was basically just putting innocent people in cages."

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Texas schoolkids tagged With GPS tracking devices

A judge has ordered 22 students at Bryan Highschool in Texas to carry GPS tracking devices in the name of preventing truancy, another example of how schools are now youth internment centers – preparatory camps for brainwashing kids to accept the prison planet.

“Bryan High students who skip school will soon be tracked 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” reports KBTX.

“It's called the Attendance Improvement Management Program or AIM, and it has been used across Texas and the United States.”

Students who skip class are now forced to attend “truancy court” and be lectured by a judge before being mandated to carry a GPS tracking device.

“Students on the program are tracked with a hand-held GPS device between the time they leave for school in the morning and the time they check in for curfew at night.”

Not only are children being treated as criminals if they skip class, parents too are being targeted if they turn up late to collect their kids. A story we broke back in 2006 highlighted how a junior high school in Indiana threatens parents with police and child protective service involvement if they fail to pick up their child on time after mandatory Friday classes for missed homework.

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Battle over Franz Kafka archive kept for decades in cat-infested flat

The decision by an Israeli court to issue the order has raised hopes among Kafka scholars that the papers will cast new light on the life and work of the great Czech writer.

The court order marks the end of the first chapter in a battle for control of his literary legacy, whose absurd twists could have ended up in one of his angst-ridden works.

Kafka scholars hope that unseen original work by the author of The Trial, perhaps even an unfinished novel, might be buried among the papers that were for decades left to rot by the former secretary of Kafka's friend and executor, Max Brod.

For now only Eva Hoffe and her sister Ruth Wisler know what is in the treasure trove, which they have tranferred to bank deposit boxes. The elderly sisters inherited the archive from their mother, Mr Brod's secretary, Esther Hoffe. Her will is being contested by the National Library of Israel, which insists she had no right to pass the documents to her daughters.

A judge gave the sisters 15 days to reach a deal with the library or the vault would be opened without their consent and the papers catalogued.

The Kafkaesque wrangle over the contents of the safe deposit boxes - five held in Israel and one in Zurich - stems from an intrigue stretching back 80 years.

Kafka, who was born in Prague in 1883, was a little-known Jewish author when he died in 1924 from complications connected to tuberculosis. He had only a handful of published short stories to his name but left an array of unpublished writings, many of them unfinished.

In his will he famously ordered Mr Brod to gather up all his diaries, letters and manuscripts which "should be burned unread and without remnant".

Brod chose to ignore his friend's wishes and set about editing and publishing Kafka's work. He rescued the handwritten papers once again in 1939 when the Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia, stuffing them into suitcases bound for Tel Aviv, where Brod made his new home.

Without him such influential works as Metamorphosis, The Castle and Amerika would have been lost forever.

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PEN celebrates victory in Tariq Ramadan case

Press release from PEN American Center:

State Department Lifts Ban on Prominent Muslim Scholar

New York City, January 20, 2010—PEN American Center welcomed the news today that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has signed orders effectively ending the exclusion of Swiss Scholar Tariq Ramadan from the United States, calling the move “a step towards restoring the First Amendment right of American citizens to seek a full range of information and ideas.”

In a statement released today, PEN President Kwame Anthony Appiah commended the Obama administration for granting a visa waiver to Tariq Ramadan, saying the action “sends an important signal about our country's commitment to preserving a free and open exchange of information and ideas with the rest of the world.”

“At a time when a number of countries seem intent on limiting the access of their own citizens to the international conversation, it is especially crucial for the United States of America to take a strong and clear stand against censorship at the border,” Appiah added in the statement.

The action by Secretary Clinton should resolve a lawsuit that PEN and the ACLU, the American Association of University Professors, and the American Academy of Religions filed in January 2006 challenging Ramadan's exclusion from the U.S.

In August 2004, a Department of Homeland Security official cited a Patriot Act provision barring those who “endorse or espouse terrorism” as the basis for revoking Ramadan's visa, a move that effectively stopped him from assuming a tenured position he had been offered at the University of Notre Dame. One of the most prominent scholars of Islam in Europe, Ramadan has consistently condemned terrorism in his public statements and extensive writings, and he traveled to the United States frequently before and after September 11, 2001, even participating in a conference on “Islam and America in a Global World” that former President Bill Clinton hosted in 2002.

PEN and its co-plaintiffs challenged his exclusion and the Patriot Act provision U.S. officials had cited as the grounds for denying his entry, arguing that such exclusions violate the First Amendment rights of Americans to hear international voices and engage and debate with foreign colleagues face to face. In court proceedings, the government quickly abandoned its claim that Ramadan espoused terrorism, insisting instead that it needed more time to process Ramadan's visa application. The court disagreed in June 2006, and ordered the government to issue the visa or give the reason for its refusal within 90 days.

Just before the deadline, Ramadan was informed that his visa application was being denied because he had donated small amounts of money between 1998 and 2002 to French and Swiss organizations that provide humanitarian aid to Palestinians. PEN and its co-plaintiffs challenged this denial as well, and last year a federal appeals court ruled that Ramadan must be permitted to show that he could not have known that the charity, which was placed on the U.S. watch list after he had made the donations and still operates legally in Switzerland, had affiliations with any terrorist organizations. A hearing in the case was to have been held this week.

Instead, on Friday, Secretary Clinton signed an order stating that Ramadan would not be denied a visa on the basis of these donations in the future. She signed a similar order for Adam Habib, a South African scholar who has also been excluded from the U.S. on ideological grounds. Both can now reapply for visas and should be free to travel to the United States soon.

“I am very pleased with the decision to end my exclusion from the United States after almost six years,” Tariq Ramadan said today in the U.K. “I want to thank all the institutions and individuals who have supported me and worked to end unconstitutional ideological exclusion over the years. I am very happy and hopeful that I will be able to visit the United States very soon and to once again engage in an open, critical and constructive dialogue with American scholars and intellectuals.”

PEN announced it would move quickly to organize such a forum in New York. “Since we first filed this lawsuit, the issues on which Professor Ramadan writes and speaks have only gained urgency,” Appiah said in his statement, noting in particular the recent vote in Switzerland to ban minarets and a push to ban speech deemed defamatory to religions. “The tensions behind these developments can only be addressed through engagement and dialogue,” Appiah continues. “We look forward to welcoming Professor Ramadan to the United States, and we will move quickly to do what we have not been able to do since he learned in 2004 that his U.S. visa had been cancelled: arrange a public program where he and his American counterparts can discuss these developments and debate some of the many issues of common interest to Europe, the U.S., and the Middle East.”

“This is a clear victory for the First Amendment, said Larry Siems, Director of the Freedom to Write and International Programs at PEN American Center. “We were very troubled to see our government resurrecting the discredited practice of ideological exclusion after 9/11, at time when we clearly needed more, not less, international dialogue and debate. We see the administration's decision to reverse the ban on Tariq Ramadan as a major step in reestablishing our country's leadership in defending the rights of its citizens to engage with the world.”

PEN American Center is the largest of the 145 centers of International PEN, the world's oldest human rights organization and the oldest international literary organization. PEN's Campaign for Core Freedoms works to: protect personal privacy; preserve public access to information and a full range of voices from the United States and around the world; and promote policies that reflect a core commitment to human rights. For more information, please visit www.pen.org

Oil in Haiti and oil refinery - an old notion for Fort Liberte as a transshipment terminal for US supertankers

A revealing article:

Another economic reason for the ouster of President Aristide and current UN occupation (See also - Haiti's Riches: Interview with Ezili Dantò on Mining in Haiti and Answers to media questions about Haiti.)

There is evidence that the United States found oil in Haiti decades ago and due to the geopolitical circumstances and big business interests of that era made the decision to keep Haitian oil in reserve for when Middle Eastern oil had dried up. This is detailed by Dr. Georges Michel in an article dated March 27, 2004 outlining the history of oil explorations and oil reserves in Haiti and in the research of Dr. Ginette and Daniel Mathurin.

There is also good evidence that these very same big US oil companies and their inter-related monopolies of engineering and defense contractors made plans, decades ago, to use Haiti's deep water ports either for oil refineries or to develop oil tank farm sites or depots where crude oil could be stored and later transferred to small tankers to serve U.S. and Caribbean ports. This is detailed in a paper about the Dunn Plantation at Fort Liberte in Haiti.

Ezili's HLLN underlines these two papers on Haiti's oil resources and the works of Dr. Ginette and Daniel Mathurin in order to provide a view one will not find in the mainstream media nor anywhere else as to the economic and strategic reasons the US has constructed its fifth largest embassy in the world - fifth only besides the US embassy in China, Iraq, Afghanistan and Germany - in tiny Haiti, post the 2004 Haiti Bush regime change.

The facts outlined in the Dunn Plantation and Georges Michel papers, considered together, reasonably unveil part of the hidden reasons UN Special Envoy to Haiti, Bill Clinton, is giving the UN occupation a facelift so that its troops stay in Haiti for the duration.

Ezili's HLLN has consistently maintained, since the beginning of the 2004 Bush regime change in Haiti, that the 2004 US invasion of Haiti used UN troops as its military proxy to avoid the charge of imperialism and racism. We have also consistently maintained that the UN/US invasion and occupation of Haiti is not about protecting Haitian rights, security, stability or long-term domestic development but about returning the Washington Chimeres/[gangsters] - the traditional Haitian Oligarchs - to power, establishing free trade not fair trade, the Chicago-boys' death plan, neoliberal policies, keeping the minimum wage at slave wage levels, plundering Haiti's natural resources and riches, not to mention using the location benefit that Haiti lies between Cuba and Venezuela. Two countries the US has unsuccessfuly orchestrated regime changes in and continues to pursue. In the Dunn Plantation and Georges Michel papers, we find and deploy further details as to why the US is in Haiti with this attempted Bill Clinton facelift to the UN's continued occupations.

For, no matter the disguise or media spins it's also about Haiti's oil reserves, and about securing Haiti's deep-water ports as transshipment location for oil or for tank sites to store crude oil without interference from a democratic government beholden to its informed population's welfare. (See Reynold's deep water port in Miragoane/NIPDEVCO property- scroll to photos in middle of the page.)

In Haiti, between 1994 to 2004 when the people had a voice in government, there was an intense grassroots movement to figure out how to exploit Haiti's resources. There was a plan, where in the book "Investing In People: Lavalas White Book under the direction of Jean-Betrand Aristide (Investir Dans L'Humain), the Haitian majority "were not only told where the resources were, but that -- they did not have the skills and technology to actually extract the gold, to extract the oil."

The Aristide/Lavalas plan, as I've articulated in the Haiti's Riches Interview, was "to engage in some sort of private/public partnership. Where both the Haitian people's interest would be taken care of and of course the private interest would take their profits. But I think it was around that time we had St. Genevieve saying they did not like the Haitian government. Obviously, they didn't like this plan. They don't like the Haitian people to know where their resources are. But in this book, it was the first time in Haitian history, it was written in Kreyòl and in French. And there was a national discussion all over the radio in Haiti with respect to all these various resources of Haiti, where they were located, and how the Haitian government was intending on trying to build sustainable development through those resources. So that's what you had before the 2004 Bush regime change/Coup D'etat in Haiti. With the Coup D'etat now, though the people know where these resources are because this book exists, they don't know who these foreign companies are. What they're profit margins are. What the environmental protection rules and regulations to protect them are. Many folks, for instance, in the North talk about losing their property, having people come in with guns and taking over their property. So that's where we are." (Haiti's Riches: Interview with Ezili Dantò on Mining in Haiti.)

The mainstream media, owned by the multinational companies fleecing Haiti, certainly won't lay out for public consumption that the UN/US invasion and occupation of Haiti is to secure Haiti's oil, strategic position, cheap labor, deep water ports, mineral resources (iridium, gold, copper, uranium, diamond, gas reserves), lands, waterfronts, offshore resources for privatization or the exclusive use of the world's wealthy oligarchs and US big oil monopolies. (See, Map showing some of Haiti's mining and mineral wealth, including five oil sites in Haiti;Oil in Haiti by Dr. Georges Michel; Excerpt from the Dunn Plantation paper; Haiti is full of oil, say Ginette and Daniel Mathurin; There is a multinational conspiracy to illegally take the mineral resources of the Haitian people: Espaillat Nanita revealed that in Haiti there are huge resources of gold and other minerals, and Is UN proxy occupation of Haiti masking US securing oil/gas reserves from Haiti).

In fact, the current Haitian authority-under-the-US/UN-occupation that is in charge of regulating exploration licenses and mining in Haiti does not explain, in any relevant or systematic manner, to the Haitian majority about the companies buying up, post 2004, Haiti's deep water ports, what their profit shares with the Haitian nation are, where are the accounting of said shares owed to the people of Haiti, nor explain the environmental effects of the massive excavations of Haiti's mountains and waters going on right now. Instead, the Director of Mining in Haiti blithely maintains that "further research will be necessary to confirm the existence of oil in Haiti."

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Friday, January 22, 2010

And a vision of hope for the future...

Rainbow Love, New Mexico, 2009

Part 1


Part 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

~ Welcome home.org ~

Ron Paul and a timeline of CIA crimes and atrocities

Kurt Nimmo, Infowars.com

A video of Ron Paul calling out the CIA at the Campaign for Liberty Regional Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, earlier this week has gone viral on the internet. In the video, Paul declared the CIA “runs everything” and is the dark force behind illegal invasions and occupations around the world. He said we need to get rid of the agency.



The CIA has committed thousands of illegal and immoral acts around the world, including almost unfathomable mass murder and countless acts of terrorism and torture.

“The CIA and the big corporations were, in my experience, in step with each other,” writes former CIA agent John Stockwell. “the CIA had been running thousands of operations over the years… there have been about 3,000 major covert operations and over 10,000 minor operations… all designed to disrupt, destabilize, or modify the activities of other countries… But they are all illegal and they all disrupt the normal functioning, often the democratic functioning, of other societies.”

The CIA recruited Nazi war criminals. It is not known as the “Cocaine Import Agency” for nothing (see video below). It has engaged in assassination and covert chemical and biological warfare.



The late Steve Kangas (who allegedly committed suicide in a 39th floor bathroom at One Oxford Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, immediately outside the offices of foundations run by known CIA operative Richard Mellon Scaife) compiled in the 1990s the following disturbing list of CIA crimes around the world:

1929

The culture we lost — Secretary of State Henry Stimson refuses to endorse a code-breaking operation, saying, “Gentlemen do not read each other’s mail.”

1941

COI created — In preparation for World War II, President Roosevelt creates the Office of Coordinator of Information (COI). General William “Wild Bill” Donovan heads the new intelligence service.

1942

OSS created — Roosevelt restructures COI into something more suitable for covert action, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Donovan recruits so many of the nation’s rich and powerful that eventually people joke that “OSS” stands for “Oh, so social!” or “Oh, such snobs!”

1943

Italy — Donovan recruits the Catholic Church in Rome to be the center of Anglo-American spy operations in Fascist Italy. This would prove to be one of America’s most enduring intelligence alliances in the Cold War.

1945

OSS is abolished — The remaining American information agencies cease covert actions and return to harmless information gathering and analysis.

Operation PAPERCLIP – While other American agencies are hunting down Nazi war criminals for arrest, the U.S. intelligence community is smuggling them into America, unpunished, for their use against the Soviets. The most important of these is Reinhard Gehlen, Hitler’s master spy who had built up an intelligence network in the Soviet Union. With full U.S. blessing, he creates the “Gehlen Organization,” a band of refugee Nazi spies who reactivate their networks in Russia. These include SS intelligence officers Alfred Six and Emil Augsburg (who massacred Jews in the Holocaust), Klaus Barbie (the “Butcher of Lyon”), Otto von Bolschwing (the Holocaust mastermind who worked with Eichmann) and SS Colonel Otto Skorzeny (a personal friend of Hitler’s). The Gehlen Organization supplies the U.S. with its only intelligence on the Soviet Union for the next ten years, serving as a bridge between the abolishment of the OSS and the creation of the CIA. However, much of the “intelligence” the former Nazis provide is bogus. Gehlen inflates Soviet military capabilities at a time when Russia is still rebuilding its devastated society, in order to inflate his own importance to the Americans (who might otherwise punish him). In 1948, Gehlen almost convinces the Americans that war is imminent, and the West should make a preemptive strike. In the 50s he produces a fictitious “missile gap.” To make matters worse, the Russians have thoroughly penetrated the Gehlen Organization with double agents, undermining the very American security that Gehlen was supposed to protect.

1947

Greece — President Truman requests military aid to Greece to support right-wing forces fighting communist rebels. For the rest of the Cold War, Washington and the CIA will back notorious Greek leaders with deplorable human rights records.

CIA created — President Truman signs the National Security Act of 1947, creating the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Council. The CIA is accountable to the president through the NSC — there is no democratic or congressional oversight. Its charter allows the CIA to “perform such other functions and duties… as the National Security Council may from time to time direct.” This loophole opens the door to covert action and dirty tricks.

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Whose rights? Challenging corporate power

A new Supreme Court decision promotes corporate rights at the expense of the rights of citizens. Changing the legal structure itself may be the best way to protect democracy.

Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission—giving corporations the ability to spend money directly to influence federal elections under the Constitution’s First Amendment—was inevitable. It represents a logical expansion of corporate constitutional “rights”—which include the rights of persons which have been judicially conferred upon corporations. “Personhood” rights mean that corporations possess First Amendment rights to free speech, along with a litany of other rights that are secured to persons under the federal Bill of Rights.

The expansion of corporate rights and privileges under the law has been deliberate, beginning nearly two hundred years ago with the Dartmouth decision in which the Supreme Court ruled that private corporations had rights that municipal corporations—governments composed of “we the people”—did not.

[ ... ]

In some ways, the Citizens United ruling is merely part of a predetermined destiny set by a 1700s constitutional structure that placed greater priority on the rights of property and commerce than on the rights of people and nature. Reversing Citizens United means reversing that constitutional legacy.

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Regis Dialogue with Béla Tarr and Howard Feinstein



Béla Tarr and film critic Howard Feinstein discuss his innovative filmography, punctuated by clips from his films.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Greek court postpones trial on teen killing

Ringed by riot police and an anarchist demonstration, a court in central Greece on Wednesday postponed the trial of a policeman accused of shooting a teenager a year ago, sparking major violence.

The court in the small town of Amfissa, where the trial was relocated for security purposes, moved the trial to Friday as the main lawyer of accused officer Epaminondas Korkoneas was occupied with another trial.

Korkoneas, 38, is accused of fatally shooting 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos during a December 2008 night patrol in the bohemian Athens district of Exarchia. The incident sparked several days of riots.

Around 200 anarchists marched through the centre of Amfissa on Wednesday, chanting anti-police slogans and demanding that the process be moved to Athens.

Korkoneas is on trial for voluntary homicide, while his partner Vassilis Saraliotis, 32, is accused of complicity.

One far-left extremist group has threatened to kill Korkoneas, prompting authorities to send more than 400 police to Amfissa, which is 200 kilometres (125 miles) northwest of Athens.

Greece's Supreme Court has rejected bids by the teenager's family to move it back to the capital. The court was told Wednesday that Grigoropoulos' mother Gina Tsalikian was also unable to attend the trial opening as her own mother is in grave condition in an Athens hospital.

Tsalikian, who has also appealed to Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, argues that holding the trial far from Athens hampers the presence of key witnesses.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ishmael Reed on The BART shooting, Oakland & police



Oakland's Poet Laurette Ishmael Reed took time to share his view on the BART Shooting, Oakland, and police brutality against Black men.






War tax resistance, trailer for 'Death and Taxes'



This war tax resistance video was shot throughout the US through interviews with well known war tax resisters. The 30 min. final film explains why you should resist taxes to war, methods for doing so, and the possible consequences for your actions. Very informative and intended to be used before a discussion on war tax resistance. Post production by Carlos Steward, Asheville NC. Check out the entire film at http://www.nwtrcc.org

US set to discontinue depleted uranium in medium calibre ammunition

It has emerged that the United States is seeking alternatives to depleted uranium for the future development and production of medium calibre bullets for its armed forces, although US government sources have declined to confirm the reasons behind the decision.
15 January 2010 - Dave Cullen

The dramatic change in policy will affect the future development of 25 mm and 30 mm rounds, which at present are used in the Bradley Fighting Vehicle and the A-10 Thunderbolt Aircraft. The A10 Thunderbolt was responsible for the majority of depleted uranium contamination in Iraq, and almost all the contamination in the Balkans.

ICBUW has confirmed with Maneuver Ammunition Systems - the US government body which manages ammunition procurement for the US military - that a strategic decision has been made to move away from uranium in medium calibre rounds. To this end, a $2 million clean-up programme of the facility used to test fire the 25mm M919 DU round for Bradley vehicles is nearing completion. However, another range has been retained for future testing of the 30mm PGU-14/B DU round, which is used in the A10 Thunderbolt.

Any site in the US where radioactive materials are present needs to obtain a Radioactive Material Handling License, usually from the State Government. For ranges where uranium rounds can be tested, licenses are significantly more difficult to obtain than those for handling or manufacturing ammunition. It is not clear whether the capability now remains for either round to be manufactured, or whether the US is confident that it has sufficient stockpiles of them to cover its future requirements. Whatever the answer, the clean-up makes further development of uranium rounds considerably less likely.

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Wikileaks see Iceland as an offshore information center - a 'Switzerland of bits'!



They also discuss U.K. as the world's worst liberal democracy with roughly 200-300 secret gag orders.
Part 4 of 7. View other parts here.

26th Chaos Communication Congress

Expert predicts end to hierarchies and value of money, more ET/UFO disclosure starting July-Nov 2010

Βy Alfred Lambremont Webre, Seattle Exopolitics Examiner

The period Nov. 7, 2009 to Nov. 2, 2010 will be characterized by the collapse of the U.K.-U.S. axis of western domination, the dissolution of hierarchies, and an end to the perceived value of money in its paper and electronic digital formats, predicts Mayan calendar expert Dr. Carl Johan Calleman. These social breakdowns are part of a period of transformation to a new era, characterized by sharing rather than individual ownership, and by higher human universal consciousness. The pace of extraterrestrial disclosure is expected to accelerate after Nov. 2, 2010. Using the time acceleration matrices of the Mayan calendar, Dr. Calleman correctly predicted the first phase of the global financial collapse for the period Nov. 19, 2007 – Nov. 8, 2008.

[ ... ]

Calleman states, “Energetically speaking this time period, July 17- November 3, 2010…. What this revolutionary time period most likely is going to amount to is a corresponding decrease of governmental and national authority (not that of any particular government, but governmental authority as such, something which humanity has inherited from the National Wave Movement and its patriarchal frame of consciousness. Needless to say some would try to take advantage of such a situation). It will seriously come into question what we need governments and national borders for “when no soul shall have power (to do) aught for another.” My vision for the time period from [July 17- November 3, 2010] until the beginning of the [March 8, 2001 – October 28, 2011] period is thus a total overhaul of human civilization. This then would also be a time to make choices of path individually.”

[ ... ]

On Oct. 28, 2011 ..., according to Dr. Calleman, the universal alternating energy wave movements end, and Earth is set on a gradual setting of a potential to reach advanced utopian planet status – a virtual “Garden of Eden”.

Dr. Calleman writes, “human consciousness will continue to be transformed step by step in accordance with this plan until we come to the real end date of the process of creation, October 28, 2011. At this date the highest quantum state of the universe will be attained (13.13.13.13.13.13.13.13.13 13 Ahau in the Mayan Calendar) when the shifts disrupting the harmony will come to an end. Obviously, we are not there yet.”

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Geolibertarianism

From Wikipedia

Geolibertarianism is a political movement that strives to reconcile libertarianism and Georgism (or geoism). Geolibertarians are advocates of geoism, which is the position that all land is a common asset to which all individuals have an equal right to access, and therefore if individuals claim the land as their property they must pay rent to the community for doing so. Rent need not be paid for the mere use of land, but only for the right to exclude others from that land, and for the protection of one's title by government.They simultaneously agree with the libertarian position that each individual has an exclusive right to the fruits of his or her labor as their private property, as opposed to this product being owned collectively by society or the community, and that "one's labor, wages, and the products of labor" should not be taxed. Also, with traditional libertarians they advocate "full civil liberties, with no crimes unless there are victims who have been invaded." Geolibertarians generally advocate distributing the land rent to the community via a land value tax, as proposed by Henry George and others before him. For this reason, they are often called "single taxers". Fred E. Foldvary coined the word "geo-libertarianism" in an article so titled in Land and Liberty. In the case of geoanarchism, the voluntary form of geolibertarianism as described by Foldvary, rent would be collected by private associations with the opportunity to secede from a geocommunity (and not receive the geocommunity's services) if desired.

Geolibertarians are generally influenced by Georgism, but the ideas behind it pre-date Henry George, and can be found in different forms in the writings of John Locke, the French Physiocrats, Thomas Jefferson, Adam Smith, Thomas Paine, James Mill (John Stuart Mill's father), David Ricardo, John Stuart Mill, Herbert Spencer and Thomas Spence. Perhaps the best summary of geolibertarianism is Thomas Paine's assertion that "Men did not make the earth. It is the value of the improvements only, and not the earth itself, that is individual property. Every proprietor owes to the community a ground rent for the land which he holds." On the other hand, Locke wrote that private land ownership should be praised, as long as its product was not left to spoil and there was "enough, and as good left in common for others"; when this Lockean proviso is violated, the land earns rental value. Some would argue that "as good" is unlikely to be achieved in an urban setting because location is paramount, and that therefore Locke's proviso in an urban setting requires the collection and equal distribution of ground rent.

Nobel Prize-winning Austrian School economist Friedrich Hayek expressed an appreciation for the special role of land in an urban setting, in his 1960 work, The Constitution of Liberty (University of Chicago Press, Chapter 22: "Housing and Town Planning," p. 341): "In many respects, the close contiguity of city life invalidates the assumptions underlying any simple division of property rights. In such conditions it is true only to a limited extent that whatever an owner does with his property will affect only him and nobody else. What economists call the 'neighborhood effects,' i.e., the effects of what one does to one's property on that of others, assume major importance. The usefulness of almost any piece of property in a city will in fact depend in part on what one's immediate neighbors do and in part on the communal services without which effective use of the land by separate owners would be nearly impossible. ... The general formulas of private property or freedom of contract do not therefore provide an immediate answer to the complex problems which city life raises. It is probable that, even if there had been no authority with coercive powers, the superior advantages of larger units would have led to the development of new legal institutions—some division of the right of control between the holders of a superior right to determine the character of a large district to be developed and the owners of inferior rights to the use of smaller units, who, within the framework determined by the former, would be free to decide on particular issues. In many respects the functions which the organized municipal corporations are learning to exercise correspond to those of such a superior owner."

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This column will change your life: To be or not to be...

Oliver Burkman writes for The Guardian

Forty-five years ago, the author David Bourland published an essay proposing a radical overhaul of English based on eliminating all forms of the verb "to be". In a world where we all spoke E-Prime, as Bourland called this new language, you couldn't say "Sandra Bullock's latest film is shockingly mediocre"; you'd have to say it "seems mediocre to me". Shakespeare productions would need retooling ("To live or not to live, I ask this question"), as would the Bible ("The Lord functions as my shepherd"). The world, in short, would feel very different – though in E-Prime you couldn't actually say it "was" very different. Unsurprisingly, it proved even less popular than Esperanto, and in fairness Bourland never meant it as a serious replace­ment for English. But in this anniversary year, his eccentric vision deserves celebrating. Because in theory at least, E-Prime aimed at nothing less than using language to make our insane lives a little more sane.

[ ... ]

"I have found repeatedly," wrote the novelist Robert Anton Wilson, an E-Prime advocate, "that when baffled by a problem in science, in philosophy, or in daily life, I gain immediate insight by writing down what I know about the enigma in strict E-Prime." Political debates might benefit, too, since E-Prime renders unyielding dogmatism – "All immigrants are scroungers!", "Taxation is theft!" etcetera – essentially impossible. As George Santayana put it, "The little word 'is' has its tragedies."

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FDA says it's unable to regulate BPA

As 'indirect food additive,' substance is exempt from scrutiny

By Meg Kissinger, Journal Sentinel

U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials say they are powerless to regulate BPA, although they have declared the chemical to be a safety concern for fetuses, babies and young children.

A quirk in the rules allows BPA makers to skirt federal regulation.

"We may have to go after legislation to change it," Joshua Sharfstein, the FDA's principal deputy director, told the Journal Sentinel. The newspaper has been investigating the government's lack of regulation regarding BPA for three years.

FDA officials announced Friday that they had reversed their position that bisphenol A is safe. The chemical, used to line most food and beverage cans, has been found in the urine of 93% of Americans tested.

The agency now considers BPA to be of some concern for effects on the brain, behavior and prostate glands of fetuses and the very young. Scientific studies have raised concerns about the chemical's link to breast and prostate cancer, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, reproductive failures and behavioral problems.

The FDA did not ban the chemical, although top scientists, including Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Toxicology Program, say they consider the safety of BPA to be uncertain. An agency source says some from within the FDA wanted to follow Canada's lead and ban it from baby bottles - or from the lining of infant formula cans - but administration officials have resisted, concerned that babies who rely on bottled formula would be left without healthy alternatives.

"They couldn't take it off the shelves when there aren't substitutes in place," said the source, who asked not to be identified because the issue is so politically charged in the agency.

FDA officials - including Sharfstein; Lynn Goldmann, a consultant to the FDA; and Jesse Goodman, the FDA's acting chief scientist - told the Journal Sentinel they were frustrated by the antiquated framework of the FDA's regulatory process.

Officials say they would like chemical manufacturers to report information about the chemical to them, including how much BPA they produce and where and how it is used.

But because BPA was classified years ago as an indirect food additive, it is not subject to the kind of scrutiny that other chemicals are. Without critical data about BPA, it is impossible to regulate the chemical, officials said.

~ more... ~


See also, FDA reverses ruling after evidence, pressure mounted

Bisphenol A was developed as an estrogen replacement more than 100 years ago but came into wide use to make hard, clear plastic in the 1960s. The chemical, now used to line most food and beverage cans, has increasingly been the subject of safety concerns. Here is a look at key dates:

1998: Patricia Hunt, a scientist at Case Western Reserve University investigating the connection between maternal age and Down syndrome, notices that her untreated laboratory mice, stored in polycarbonate cages, are developing chromosomal abnormalities. Scientists begin to look at the connection between BPA and diseases such as breast and testicular cancers. Subsequent studies link BPA to heart disease, diabetes and behavioral problems in lab animals. ...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Spanish politician may sue over bin Laden photo

A Spanish politician said on Saturday that he was "stupefied" by the FBI's decision to use his photograph to compose its latest image of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and is considering taking legal action. "Firstly I will ask the FBI for an explanation, which they haven't given me yet, and then I will reserve the right to take legal action," Gaspar Llamazares told CNN+.

"In the last few days I have seen the security services involved in some very strange things, some major failures, but I would never have believed they could have affected me so directly," he said.

LLamazares is a former leader of Spain's communist party Izquierda Unida and is currently its parliamentary spokesman.

An FBI agent said the organization was aware of similarities between the image -- an "age-progressed photograph" intended to give an updated idea of bin Laden's appearance -- and that of "an existing photograph of a Spanish public official."

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The U.S. is a failed state - Paul Craig Roberts



Economist Paul Craig Roberts argues that the state of the U.S. economy and the way the government treats its people demonstrate that the U.S. has entered the ranks of failed states.

Paul explains some of the "failed state" characteristics that the U.S. has shown include:

- inability to finance its own government, its budget is dependent on foreign financing and money creation

- extraordinary inequality in income distribution A recent report says that the US has the worst income inequality in the entire world.

- the crooks (such as Goldman Sachs who control the Treasury and economic policy) are INSIDE the government, operating against the people and skewed in favor of the super-rich. Their priorities are to make sure that the banks succeed while the economy fails.


RussiaToday
October 26, 2009

The militarization of emergency aid to Haiti: Is it a humanitarian operation or an invasion?

By Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research

Haiti has a longstanding history of US military intervention and occupation going back to the beginning of the 20th Century. US interventionism has contributed to the destruction of Haiti's national economy and the impoverishment of its population.

The devastating earthquake is presented to World public opinion as the sole cause of the country's predicament.

A country has been destroyed, its infrastructure demolished. Its people precipitated into abysmal poverty and despair.

Haiti's history, its colonial past have been erased.

The US military has come to the rescue of an impoverished Nation. What is its Mandate?

Is it a Humanitarian Operation or an Invasion?


The main actors in America's "humanitarian operation" are the Department of Defense, the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). (See USAID Speeches: On-The-Record Briefing on the Situation in Haiti, 01/13/10). USAID has also been entrusted in channelling food aid to Haiti, which is distributed by the World Food Program. (See USAID Press Release: USAID to Provide Emergency Food Aid for Haiti Earthquake Victims, January 13, 2010)

The military component of the US mission, however, tends to overshadow the civilian functions of rescuing a desperate and impoverished population. The overall humanitarian operation is not being led by civilian governmental agencies such as FEMA or USAID, but by the Pentagon.

The dominant decision making role has been entrusted to US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM).

A massive deployment of military hardware and personnel is contemplated. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen has confirmed that the US will be sending nine to ten thousand troops to Haiti, including 2000 marines. (American Forces Press Service, January 14, 2010)

Aircraft carrier, USS Carl Vinson and its complement of supporting ships has already arrived in Port au Prince. (January 15, 2010). The 2,000-member Marine Amphibious Unit as well as and soldiers from the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne division "are trained in a wide variety of missions including security and riot-control in addition to humanitarian tasks."

In contrast to rescue and relief teams dispatched by various civilian organizations, the humanitarian mandate of the US military is not clearly defined:

“Marines are definitely warriors first, and that is what the world knows the Marines for,... [but] we’re equally as compassionate when we need to be, and this is a role that we’d like to show -- that compassionate warrior, reaching out with a helping hand for those who need it. We are very excited about this.” (Marines' Spokesman, Marines Embark on Haiti Response Mission, Army Forces Press Services, January 14, 2010)

While presidents Obama and Préval spoke on the phone, there were no reports of negotiations between the two governments regarding the entry and deployment of US troops on Haitian soil. The decision was taken and imposed unilaterally by Washington. The total lack of a functioning government in Haiti was used to legitimize, on humanitarian grounds, the sending in of a powerful military force, which has de facto taken over several governmental functions.

[ ... ]

The US Air Force has taken over air traffic control functions as well as the management of Port au Prince airport. In other words, the US military regulates the flow of emergency aid and relief supplies which are being brought into the country in civilian planes. The US Air Force is not working under the instructions of Haitian Airport ... See Moreofficials. These officials have been displaced. The airport is run by the US Military. (Interview with Haitian Ambassador to the US R. Joseph, PBS News, January 15, 2010)

~ more... ~

Godwin's law

Godwin's Law (also known as Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies or Godwin's Law of Nazi Analogies) is a humorous observation made by Mike Godwin in 1990 which has become an Internet adage. It states: "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches."

Godwin's Law is often cited in online discussions as a deterrent against the use of arguments in the widespread reductio ad Hitlerum form. The rule does not make any statement about whether any particular reference or comparison to Adolf Hitler or the Nazis might be appropriate, but only asserts that the likelihood of such a reference or comparison arising increases as the discussion progresses. It is precisely because such a comparison or reference may sometimes be appropriate, Godwin has argued[4] that overuse of Nazi and Hitler comparisons should be avoided, because it robs the valid comparisons of their impact.

Although in one of its early forms Godwin's Law referred specifically to Usenet newsgroup discussions, the law is now applied to any threaded online discussion: electronic mailing lists, message boards, chat rooms, and more recently blog comment threads, wiki talk pages, and social networking sites.

~ more... ~

Fisk lashes out at West in Middle East

The Guantanamo "Suicides": A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle

...Late in the evening on June 9 that year, three prisoners at Guantánamo died suddenly and violently. Salah Ahmed Al-Salami, from Yemen, was thirty-seven. Mani Shaman Al-Utaybi, from Saudi Arabia, was thirty. Yasser Talal Al-Zahrani, also from Saudi Arabia, was twenty-two, and had been imprisoned at Guantánamo since he was captured at the age of seventeen. None of the men had been charged with a crime, though all three had been engaged in hunger strikes to protest the conditions of their imprisonment. They were being held in a cell block, known as Alpha Block, reserved for particularly troublesome or high-value prisoners.

As news of the deaths emerged the following day, the camp quickly went into lockdown. The authorities ordered nearly all the reporters at Guantánamo to leave and those en route to turn back. The commander at Guantánamo, Rear Admiral Harry Harris, then declared the deaths “suicides.” In an unusual move, he also used the announcement to attack the dead men. “I believe this was not an act of desperation,” he said, “but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us.” Reporters accepted the official account, and even lawyers for the prisoners appeared to believe that they had killed themselves. Only the prisoners' families in Saudi Arabia and Yemen rejected the notion.

Two years later, the U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which has primary investigative jurisdiction within the naval base, issued a report supporting the account originally advanced by Harris, now a vice-admiral in command of the Sixth Fleet. The Pentagon declined to make the NCIS report public, and only when pressed with Freedom of Information Act demands did it disclose parts of the report, some 1,700 pages of documents so heavily redacted as to be nearly incomprehensible. The NCIS report was carefully cross-referenced and deciphered by students and faculty at the law school of Seton Hall University in New Jersey, and their findings, released in November 2009, made clear why the Pentagon had been unwilling to make its conclusions public. The official story of the prisoners' deaths was full of unacknowledged contradictions, and the centerpiece of the report—a reconstruction of the events—was simply unbelievable.

According to the NCIS, each prisoner had fashioned a noose from torn sheets and T-shirts and tied it to the top of his cell's eight-foot-high steel-mesh wall. Each prisoner was able somehow to bind his own hands, and, in at least one case, his own feet, then stuff more rags deep down into his own throat. We are then asked to believe that each prisoner, even as he was choking on those rags, climbed up on his washbasin, slipped his head through the noose, tightened it, and leapt from the washbasin to hang until he asphyxiated. The NCIS report also proposes that the three prisoners, who were held in non-adjoining cells, carried out each of these actions almost simultaneously. ...

~ more... ~

Monday, January 18, 2010

Haiti: A lootin’ an’ a burnin’?

By William Bowles, Creative-i

It was obvious from the getgo that media 'coverage' of the earthquake in Haiti was heading in the same, predictable direction, namely down the same racist path that Western media coverage of things 'darker than blue' always travels.

“Relief efforts have also been hampered by supply bottlenecks, leading to security concerns over looting and violence amid increasing desperation.

“There are concerns about the safety of aid workers, with reports of gunfire and youths carrying machetes. Some charities have taken security guards, while others are supported by UN security forces.” — 'UK government Haiti earthquake aid to treble to £20m', BBC News 18 January, 2010

And yet again in another BBC 'news' item:

“Many are trying to leave the city, and there are security concerns amid reports of looting and violence.” — 'UN chief Ban Ki-Moon calls for Haiti aid patience', BBC News, 18 January, 2010

Meanwhile, the US has de facto occupied Haiti, no doubt to preserve its sweatshop investments, amongst which are Walt Disney and Walmart[1]. And no wonder aid can't get through, the US seemed to have moved Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) to Haiti, even blocking the organization of Caribbean states, Caricom, from landing badly needed assistance.

The attitude of the West towards people of colour is best illustrated by the following, also from the preceding BBC story:

“The US and Dutch authorities have said they are speeding up the process of flying orphaned children away from Haiti to adoptive parents abroad.

“Six Haitian children adopted by Dutch families arrived in the Netherlands on Sunday and the justice ministry said it was expediting the adoption process and paperwork for about 100 others.”

So whilst people are dying because the US military is blocking aid flights coming in, it seems it has no problem stealing babies and flying them out!

The Times of London continues in the same, racist vein (with the predictable image of a 'looter' holding a knife that I will not reproduce here):

“Six days after the Port-au-Prince earthquake large areas of the city remain untouched by the global aid effort as bottlenecks continue to clog the airport and looting threatens to descend into wholesale violence.” — 'Lynch mobs turn on looters amid Haiti aid crisis', The Times, 18 January, 2010

Hoisted by their own, racist pétard

By contrast, a report from Canada Haiti Action Network reveals where the 'aid' went first:

'Thus far…the rescue teams cluster at the high profile and safer walled sites and were literally afraid to enter the barrios. They gravitated to the sites where they had secure compounds and big buildings.

'Meanwhile, the neighbourhoods where the damage appears to be much wider, and anywhere there were loose crowds, they avoided. In the large sites, and in the nice neighbourhoods, and where the press can be found, there would be teams from every country imaginable. Dogs and extraction units with more arriving, yet with 90% or more of them just sitting around.'

'Meanwhile, in the poor neighbourhoods, awash in rubble, there was not a foreigner in sight.”

[...]

“News crews are looking for the story of desperate Haitians that are in hysterics. When in reality it is more often the Haitians that are acting calmly while the international community, the elite and politicians have melted down over the issue, and none seem to have the remotest idea what is going on.” — 'Where is the aid in Haiti' — by Roger Annis, 16 January, 2010

~ more... ~


~
Video: Inside A Failed State - Haiti ~

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