Monday, August 31, 2009

A DOG NAMED CHOMSKY - brilliant!

Damn, I had this idea YEARS ago... but no dog.


Oakland dog training works from the heart

Edward Guthmann, Special to The Chronicle

Monday, August 31, 2009

Francis Metcalf is the one-man band of dog training. He runs Friends of the Family, a dog-training business for private clients, but also consults at the San Francisco SPCA and the animal-assisted therapy program at UCSF Children's Hospital.

Occasionally, he entertains at children's parties with his exuberant American bulldog, Chomsky. He also trains police dogs for odor detection and criminal apprehension, and trains both cats and dogs for film and TV.

Metcalf, 36, lives in an 1888 house in Oakland with his wife, Norma, a volunteer services director at the San Francisco SPCA, and their three dogs. He spoke while training Chomsky in a large exercise yard behind his house.

I like to bring out a dog's magic. I do card tricks with my dog, Chomsky. I'm working on this mailbox trick where she opens the door to the mailbox with her paw, takes out the mail and then lifts the door back up with her nose. She's really digging this.

www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/08/31/DD3B19ELGQ.DTL#ixzz0PmTE9MJq

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

AngloAmerican PARED DOWN ownership of the world

http://globalresearch.ca/coverStoryPictures/14934.jpg

http://www.davidduke.com/images/anglo-american-flag.jpg

Study Says World's Stocks Controlled by Select Few

Companies from US, UK and Australia have the most concentrated financial power.

Aug 25, 2009

By Lauren Schenkman
Inside Science News Service

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WASHINGTON -- A recent analysis of the 2007 financial markets of 48 countries has revealed that the world's finances are in the hands of just a few mutual funds, banks, and corporations. This is the first clear picture of the global concentration of financial power, and point out the worldwide financial system's vulnerability as it stood on the brink of the current economic crisis.

A pair of physicists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich did a physics-based analysis of the world economy as it looked in early 2007. Stefano Battiston and James Glattfelder extracted the information from the tangled yarn that links 24,877 stocks and 106,141 shareholding entities in 48 countries, revealing what they called the "backbone" of each country's financial market. These backbones represented the owners of 80 percent of a country's market capital, yet consisted of remarkably few shareholders.

"You start off with these huge national networks that are really big, quite dense," Glattfelder said. “From that you're able to ... unveil the important structure in this original big network. You then realize most of the network isn't at all important."

http://etc.usf.edu/clipart/24800/24824/colonial_fla_24824_lg.gif

The most pared-down backbones exist in Anglo-Saxon countries, including the U.S., Australia, and the U.K. Paradoxically; these same countries are considered by economists to have the most widely-held stocks in the world, with ownership of companies tending to be spread out among many investors. But while each American company may link to many owners, Glattfelder and Battiston's analysis found that the owners varied little from stock to stock, meaning that comparatively few hands are holding the reins of the entire market.

“If you would look at this locally, it's always distributed,” Glattfelder said. “If you then look at who is at the end of these links, you find that it's the same guys, [which] is not something you'd expect from the local view.”

Matthew Jackson, an economist from Stanford University in Calif. who studies social and economic networks, said that Glattfelder and Battiston's approach could be used to answer more pointed questions about corporate control and how companies interact.

"It's clear, looking at financial contagion and recent crises, that understanding interrelations between companies and holdings is very important in the future,” he said. "Certainly people have some understanding of how large some of these financial institutions in the world are, there's some feeling of how intertwined they are, but there's a big difference between having an impression and actually having ... more explicit numbers to put behind it."


http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/jah/88.4/images/kramer_f5.jpg
Based on their analysis, Glattfelder and Battiston identified the ten investment entities who are “big fish” in the most countries. The biggest fish was the Capital Group Companies, with major stakes in 36 of the 48 countries studied. In identifying these major players, the physicists accounted for secondary ownership -- owning stock in companies who then owned stock in another company -- in an attempt to quantify the potential control a given agent might have in a market.

The results raise questions of where and when a company could choose to exert this influence, but Glattfelder and Battiston are reluctant to speculate.

"In this kind of science, complex systems, you're not aiming at making predictions [like] ... where the tennis ball will be at given place in given time," Battiston said. “What you're trying to estimate is … the potential influence that [an investor] has."

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_ZxKAf8oOwtI/RzxLSh80KJI/AAAAAAAAIS8/T1p8kPg_de4/s400/FlagStillThere5.jpg

Glattfelder added that the internationalism of these powerful companies makes it difficult to gauge their economic influence. "[With] new company structures which are so big and spanning the globe, it's hard to see what they're up to and what they're doing,” he said. Large, sparse networks dominated by a few major companies could also be more vulnerable, he said. "In network speak, if those nodes fail, that has a big effect on the network."

The results will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Physical Review E.




Based on their analysis, Glattfelder and Battiston identified the ten investment entities who are “big fish” in the most countries. The biggest fish was the Capital Group Companies, with major stakes in 36 of the 48 countries studied.

http://carapace.weblogs.us/images/Matt%20Wuerker%20culture%20of%20life%20wuerker.gif

While it is true that the paper in the Physical Review E has not yet been published, I have found a draft version of their article from February which shows that the top 10 list of most powerful financial institutions (from most to least powerful) is as follows:

1. The Capital Group of Companies

2. Fidelity Management & Research

3. Barclays PLC

4. Franklin Resources

5. AXA

6. JP Morgan Chase

7. Dimensional Fund Advisors

8. Merrill Lynch

9. Wellington Management Company

10. UBS

http://www.iefd.org/images/wuerker3.gif

* Non-American players Deutsche Bank, Brandes Investment Partners, Societe Generale, Credit Suisse, Schroders PLC and Allianz are also in the top 21 positions.

* The government of Singapore is number 25.

* The world’s largest banking group – HSBC Holdings PLC – only chimes in at number 26.

The data analyzed in the study is from 2007, and the playing field may have changed substantially since then.

Further analysis using this new methodology may yield important information. For example, given the massive government intervention in the markets, it is important to ask who controls stock now.


The Capital Group of Companies
capgroup.com
333 S. Hope Street
Los Angeles, CA 90071-1406
US
+1.2104744120 fax: +1.2104744093

Jonathan Lovelace Jr has 4 children
studied at Princeton, started out analyzing aerospace stocks. Took reins 1964

http://www.blackcommentator.com/35/35_images/35_cartoon_large.gif

Today Capital Groups Co. manages $1 trillion, including $850 million in American Funds, nation's third-largest mutual fund company. Offers just 29 investment funds, one-fifth of Vanguard and Fidelity.

No marketing department; picks up new customers having brokers peddle their funds. Privately held firm has 400 shareholders; family owns a little less than 10%. Son, Robert, now at the helm.

http://visibility911.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2007/10/cointelpro.jpg

Robert Lovelace received his BS (summa cum laude) in mineral economics from Princeton University and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Mr. Robert Lovelace (Capital Group Inc.), (Zip code: 90254)
http://blog.oregonlive.com/opinion_impact/2008/12/turkey.jpg

Perry and Robert Lovelace
The Capital Group, the fund sponsor's parent company, is a privately owned global investment manager that manages well over US$1 trillion in mutual fund assets across the globe.
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posted by u2r2h at 5:15 AM 6 comments links to this post

Friday, August 28, 2009

Can International Law Evolve?

Martin LeFevre: Can International Law Evolve?

A leading international lawyer representing
defendants in international criminal
tribunals, Guenael Mettraux, says that
Guantanamo detainees should "be placed under
international control and their trials held
on neutral ground." That's a hoot.

Mettraux goes on to say, presumably with a
straight face, that by initiating
international criminal tribunals for
Guantanamo prisoners, the "United States
would reassert its core values and
demonstrate the supremacy of those values
over the evil that has been challenging
them."

What about the suppurating wound of the
prison at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan?
What about the thousands of people hidden
away in unknown hellholes around the world,
overseen by the overlords of rendition?

To say that Mettraux is being politically
naive and philosophically shortsighted is to
be generous. For as Benjamin Wittes, Senior
Fellow at the Brookings Institution points
out, "only about 800 people have passed
through Guantanamo. The United States
military, since the beginning of the war on
terror, has held literally tens and tens of
thousands of people around the world. So the
focus on Guantanamo as the locus of the
problem of detention was always quite
delusional."

In a terrible irony, people are still holding
out hope that Obama will do the right thing,
even though "the Obama administration has
adopted the Bush Administration's position
that individuals captured by the United
States anywhere in the world can be taken
into custody and held indefinitely without
charge, so long as they're not brought to
Guantanamo," as Tina Foster, executive
director of the International Justice Network
said.

But the first reason the Obama Administration
will never allow "enemy combatants" to stand
trial in an international tribunal is that it
would be political suicide.

America not only upholds an extreme form of
sovereignty; it upholds its sovereignty above
that of all other nations combined.

Second, an international tribunal for
detainees in the "war on terror" would open
up inquiries and investigations into the
illegality of the invasion of Iraq, even if
no Iraqi citizens were put on trial.

Indeed, the entire concept of the "war on
terror," which the Obama Administration has
thrown out rhetorically but held fast to
policy-wise, would come into question.

More to the point, what international
criminal tribunal is going to put CIA
interrogators on trial for threats to kill
one suspect's children and to force another
to watch his mother sexually assaulted?

The revelations coming out of Washington this
week make a mockery of what was already a
mockery: Obama's mandate to fundamentally
change Bush-Cheney foreign policies. The
Obama Administration is making a last ditch
effort to put off the whole issue of
Americans torturing prisoners (even as they
continue the rendition policy of snatching
and sending people to third countries to be
interrogated) until, they pray, it blows
over.

Toward that end, the Obama has appointed a
prosecutor to investigate `rogue'
interrogators who went beyond even the
liberal guidelines for "enhanced
interrogation techniques" of the Bush
Administration.

I guess all this is what Obama meant when he
said during the campaign, "to build a better,
freer world, we must first behave in ways
that reflect the decency and aspirations of
the American people."

Despite the announcement of the criminal
probe, President Obama continues to declare
that on the subject of prisoner abuse and
torture, he "wants to look forward, not back"
at Bush tactics. But there can be no going
forward until there is a reckoning with the
past. As the saying goes: "The past isn't
over; it isn't even past."

The White House is also using the transparent
trick of saying that any prosecutions of
Americans in American courts would be up to
Attorney General Eric Holder, not the White
House. I've lost count, how many layers of
removal from responsibility is that?

Obama is creating a new interrogation unit
for "high-value" detainees, which will be
under the direction of the FBI rather than
the CIA, supervised by his own national
security adviser. And overseen by Jesus
himself.

Barack is trying to pull off a political
trifecta: political sleight of hand by coming
out with a plan (sort of) to close
Guantanamo; having it both ways by inveigling
against torture while continuing rendition;
and throwing the public a bone of a special
prosecutor in hopes the issue will go away.

We're supposed to be comforted by the promise
that all U.S. interrogators will follow the
rules for detainees laid out by the Army
Field Manual. Aren't those the same rules
that were in place when detainees were forced
to stand naked in excruciating positions for
hours, threatened with military dogs, exposed
to extreme heat or cold, subjected to mock
executions, and deprived of food, water, or
medical care? And oh yes, let's not forget
waterboarding.

The phrase "international law" is now, quite
rightly, only spoken with derision. To say
that our indisputably global society has an
increasingly inadequate inter-national legal
structure, is not just to utter an
understatement, but an absurdity.

Examples abound. At the whim of the United
States government, people are being locked up
in Afghanistan without a trial until the end
of the war. The Obama Administration is
beginning to condition the American public
into thinking in terms of at least a decade
in Afghanistan, even as Admiral Mike Mullen,
the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
says the situation there is "serious and
deteriorating." Send more troops!

Even a right-winger such as Richard N. Haas,
President of the Council of Foreign
Relations, says Obama should consider
"withdrawing all United States military
forces from Afghanistan and center on
regional and global counterterrorism efforts
and homeland security initiatives to protect
ourselves from threats that might emanate
from Afghanistan."

The law evolves when new paradigms are
recognized. Can the international legal
framework, woefully imperfect as it is,
evolve into an effective, but carefully
constrained global structure of laws for the
regulation of nations and their institutions?
It must.

Rendition, indefinite detention, and military
tribunals, much less invasion, torture, and
"enhanced interrogation" are outside the rule
of the law, no matter how they're dressed up.

The internal laws of a nation, and the
increasingly inadequate quasi-laws between
nations, have had their day. America and
China, the main upholders of sacrosanct
national sovereignty, are spitting against
the wind.

There is a higher law, but we must live or
perish within the laws people make here on
earth. However you define civilization, its
cornerstone is the law. The question we have
to ask ourselves, as cultures disappear and
the old civilizations erode, is whether, in
this global society, we are peoples of law or
not.

For without the law, this hellish jungle we
call the world will only become more and more
unlivable.

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posted by u2r2h at 8:20 AM 0 comments links to this post

Bush tortured (and mamed, killed millions)

There is a
wonderful mythical law of nature
that the three things
we crave most in life
-- happiness, freedom, and peace of mind --
are always attained by giving them
to someone else.

Peyton Conway March

Bush tortured (and mamed, killed millions)

It seems almost trivial to accuse someone who launched an illegal war that has killed over a million people of torture. But if we are going to prosecute the lowest ranked torturers, it makes sense to look up the chain of command.

There is no doubt that George W. Bush conspired to commit torture, cruel and inhuman treatment, and murder. How do I know? He said so.

In his January 28, 2003, State of the Union, Bush said: "All told more than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries. And many others have met a different fate. Let's put it this way: they are no longer a problem to the United States."

Too vague and wink-wink for you? Try this:

On April 11, 2008, ABC News produced a video interview of Bush during which he was asked about meetings his top subordinates had held to approve specific instances of torture. Bush said: "And yes, I'm aware our national security team met on this issue. And I approved." The National Security Council's Principals Committee, which held the meetings, included Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, CIA Director George Tenet, and Attorney General John Ashcroft. In the same interview, Bush defended the use of the drowning torture on prisoner Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, saying: "We had legal opinions that enabled us to do it. And no, I didn't have any problem at all trying to find out what Khalid Sheikh Mohammed knew."

On January 11, 2009, Fox News aired a video interview of Bush in which he admitted personally authorizing the torture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, saying: "One such person who gave us information was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. " And I'm in the Oval Office and I am told that we have captured Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the professionals believe he has information necessary to secure the country. So I ask what tools are available for us to find information from him and they gave me a list of tools, and I said are these tools deemed to be legal? And so we got legal opinions before any decision was made."

Does anyone else verify this? Well, how about John Yoo and Dick Cheney? On January 29, 2009, John Yoo, a former official in the Office of Legal Counsel who had drafted secret memos authorizing torture, published an article in the Wall Street Journal with the headline "Obama Made a Rash Decision on Gitmo," in which he wrote: "On the advice of his intelligence advisers, the president could have authorized coercive interrogation methods like those used by Israel and Great Britain in their antiterrorism campaigns. (He could even authorize waterboarding, which he did three times in the years after 9/11.)"

On May 10, 2009, former Vice President Cheney appeared on the CBS News television program "Face the Nation." Asked what Bush had known about torture methods, Cheney replied, "I certainly, yes, have every reason to believe he knew -- he knew a great deal about the program. He basically authorized it. I mean, this was a presidential-level decision. And the decision went to the president. He signed off on it."

This is Yoo and Cheney saying "If you come after us you'll have to come after Bush." Pretty generous of them, I think. Douglas Feith, whose fate is also on the line here, argued in the Wall Street Journal on April 3, 2009, that it would make no sense to prosecute those who advised Bush without prosecuting Bush. Sign him up for the witness stand!

OK, but did Bush put his approval down in writing anywhere? He certainly did. On Sept. 17, 2001, Bush produced an executive order authorizing the CIA to set up unacknowledged detention facilities around the world. For years after this date, prisoners in these facilities were not identified to the International Committee of the Red Cross or provided due process. On February 7, 2002, Bush produced a Memorandum for the Vice President, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General, Chief of Staff to the President, Director of Central Intelligence, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the subject of "Humane Treatment of al Qaeda and Taliban Detainees." In this memorandum, Bush "determined" that "none of the provisions of Geneva apply to our conflict with al Qaeda in Afghanistan or elsewhere throughout the world," and "[C]ommon article 3 of Geneva does not apply to either al Qaeda or Taliban detainees," and "[T]he Taliban detainees are unlawful combatants and, therefore, do not qualify as prisoners of war under article 4 of Geneva," and "al Qaeda detainees also do not qualify as prisoners of war." On June 29, 2006, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld that the Geneva Conventions apply to prisoners held under Bush's command at Guantanamo Bay. On December 30, 2005, Bush signed a signing statement, "President's Statement on Signing of H.R. 2863," in which he claimed the power to ignore a new prohibition on torture contained in the bill he had just signed into law.

Bush's subordinates, through the years of his presidency, established an official policy of torture, and cruel and inhuman treatment. The CIA produced secret guidelines authorizing torture. The Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice produced secret opinions authorizing torture. Bush's subordinates engaged in the widespread use of officially sanctioned torture. Incidents of torture, cruel and inhuman treatment, and murder by torture are extensively documented, including by a February 2007 International Committee of the Red Cross Report on the Treatment of Fourteen 'High Value Detainees' in CIA Custody.

Numerous incidents of torture by Bush's team have resulted in murder. On October 24, 2005, the government released to the ACLU military records that included 44 autopsies and death reports as well as a summary of autopsy reports of individuals apprehended in Iraq and Afghanistan. The documents showed that detainees died during or after interrogations by Navy Seals, Military Intelligence and "OGA" (Other Governmental Agency) -- a term used to refer to the CIA. According to the documents, 21 of the 44 deaths were homicides. Eight of the homicides appeared to have resulted from abusive techniques used on detainees, in some instances, by the CIA, Navy Seals and Military Intelligence personnel. On March 16, 2005, the Associated Press reported that "At least 108 people have died in American custody in Iraq and Afghanistan, most of them violently, according to government data provided to The Associated Press. Roughly a quarter of those deaths have been investigated as possible abuse by U.S. personnel."

On January 15, 2009, Susan Crawford, the convening authority for the Guantanamo military commissions, was quoted in the Washington Post as saying that the United States had tortured prisoner Mohammed al-Qahtani. "We tortured Qahtani," she said. "His treatment met the legal definition of torture."

Bush never voluntarily made public what he knew about torture, cruel and inhuman treatment, or murder by his subordinates. Instead, for years, he publicly denied that the United States ever used torture. When evidence of torture was made public, including photographs from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq made public in 2004, Bush did not investigate the problem, remove those responsible from office, or punish them. The military convicted several low-ranking soldiers, but did not pursue responsibility up the chain of command.

As an employee of the executive branch, Bush was governed by Executive Orders 12674 and 12731, which provide that executive branch employees hold their positions as a public trust and that the American people have a right to expect that they will fulfill that trust in accordance with certain ethical standards and principles. These include abiding by the Constitution and laws of the United States, as well as not using their offices to further private goals and interests.

Pursuant to the Constitution, his oath of office, his status as executive branch employee, and his presence in the United States, Bush is required to obey Amendment VIII of the Constitution which prohibits the infliction of cruel and unusual punishment; as well as treaties which under Article VI of the Constitution are the supreme law of the land, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which prohibits torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment; the Third Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, and Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions which prohibits violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture, as well as outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment; the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which prohibits torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment; the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment which requires that the United States work to prevent all forms of torture; as well as Title 18, United States Code, Section 2340A which prohibits conspiring to torture; and Title 18, United States Code, Section 2441 which prohibits conspiring to torture or inflict cruel or inhuman treatment or murder.

Give him the fair trial he denied to so many others. Then and only then can we look forward to a future without torture.

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posted by u2r2h at 8:14 AM 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

sophistry .. surveillance is beneath our dignity

Escape from Panopticon

Matthew Taunton

Published 19 March 2008

We may have nothing to fear but freedom itself

"Big Brother is watching you." With these words the postwar era began, and in some ways they have come to embody the principal political fear of our time. Worries over identity cards and CCTV are part of a tendency to see surveillance as the means by which power is enforced. The repression in Nineteen Eighty-Four must be resisted. But is our focus on surveillance distracting us from more pressing political concerns?

Michel Foucault was influential in propagating the notion that power in modern societies is based on surveillance, and his work remains a cause of acute paranoia and depression among countless humanities students. In Discipline and Punish, Foucault argues that Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon - a prison designed so that all inmates are potentially under constant surveillance by an unseen official - is a template for modern society, "a society penetrated through and through with disciplinary mechanisms".

Bentham's prisoner gradually internalises the feeling of being watched, and in effect begins to police himself; he "becomes the principle of his own subjection". Foucault uses this to argue that liberal societies are at heart profoundly authoritarian: even when we think we are acting freely, we are probably obeying the tenets of oppressive power structures that we have unwittingly absorbed through surveillance.

This position is irritatingly watertight, as anyone who disagrees is implicitly the unknowing servant of power. But the endurance of the Panopticon thesis is more to do with its huge psychological appeal, which can be explained using the ideas of a thinker who has cachet among a certain type of teenager but is less fashionable than Foucault in universities: Jean-Paul Sartre.

Sartre argued that, far from living under the spell of surveillance society, we are "condemned to be free", and that the thing that we most fear is our own freedom. To illustrate this, he pointed to vertigo: the sickening sensation one has when standing on the edge of a cliff, caused by the knowledge that one could freely choose to jump. People will do almost anything to avoid confronting this freedom, because it is not simply liberating, but profoundly terrifying.

Sartre distrusted belief systems that allow people to disown responsibility for their thoughts and actions by implying that they are not freely chosen. Psychoanalysis - which explained thoughts and actions as consequences of desires and drives repressed in childhood - was anathema. Similarly, Foucault's insistence that in modern society power is enforced by surveillance is merely a comforting parable. It's all too easy to point at the CCTV camera or the identity card and complain that our lives are conditioned and determined by sinister forces beyond our control. This lets us off the hook when it comes to taking control of our destiny. Like it or not, you're freer than you think you are.

www.newstatesman.com/ideas/2008/03/freedom-fear-surveillance

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posted by u2r2h at 12:35 PM 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, August 20, 2009

today 100th birthday of WORLD CHESS MISTRESS

Olga Nikolaevna Rubtsova (Russian: ..... .......... .......; August 20, 1909 - December 13, 1994) was a Soviet chess player and fourth Women's World Chess Champion.

She won the USSR Women's Championship several times, and was second in the 1950 World Championship, a point behind Lyudmila Rudenko. She won the title in 1956, finishing ahead of Rudenko and Elisabeth Bykova in a match tournament, before losing it to Bykova in a match in 1958.

Rubtsova also played correspondence chess, and became first Women's World Correspondence Chess Champion in 1972 (she also finished second in the next championship, only losing the title to Lora Jakovleva on tie-break, and fifth in the one after that). As of 2006, she remains the only player, male or female, to become World Champion in both over-the-board and correspondence chess.

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posted by u2r2h at 5:59 AM 0 comments links to this post

today 100th birthday of W L Gresham

William Lindsay Gresham
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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William Lindsay Gresham (August 20, 1909.September 14, 1962) was an American novelist and non-fiction author particularly regarded among readers of noir. His best-known work is Nightmare Alley (1946), which was adapted into a 1947 film starring Tyrone Power.

[edit] Biography

Gresham was born in Baltimore, Maryland. As a child, he moved to New York with his family, where he became fascinated by the sideshow at Coney Island. Upon graduating from Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn in 1926, Gresham drifted from job to job, and worked as a folk singer in Greenwich Village.[1] In 1937, Gresham served as a volunteer medic for the Loyalist forces during the Spanish Civil War. There, he befriended a former sideshow employee, Joseph Daniel "Doc" Halliday, and their long conversations inspired much of his work[1], particularly Gresham's two books about the American carnival, the nonfiction Monster Midway and the fictional Nightmare Alley.

Returning to the United States in 1939, after a troubling period that involved a stay in a tuberculosis ward and a failed suicide attempt, Gresham found work editing true crime pulp magazines. In 1942, Gresham married Joy Davidman, a poet, with whom he had two children, David and Douglas. Gresham was an abusive and alcoholic husband. Davidman, although born Jewish, became a fan of the writings of C. S. Lewis, which led eventually to her conversion to Christianity. Davidman eventually fled her marriage to Gresham and married Lewis, their relationship forming the inspiration for the play and movie Shadowlands.

Gresham married Davidman's first cousin, Renee Rodriguez, with whom he had been having an affair and who was herself suffering an abusive marriage.[2] Gresham joined Alcoholics Anonymous and developed a deep interest in Spiritualism, having already exposed many of the fraudulent techniques of popular spiritualists in his two sideshow-themed books and having authored a book about Houdini with the assistance of noted skeptic James Randi.

In 1962, Gresham took a turn for the worse. He had started to go blind and had been diagnosed with cancer of the tongue. On September 14, 1962, he checked into the Dixie Hotel . the same hotel he had hung out around when he wrote Nightmare Alley over a decade earlier[2]. There, 53 year old Gresham took his life with an overdose of sleeping pills. His death went generally unnoticed by the New York press, but for a mention by a bridge columnist.

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posted by u2r2h at 5:54 AM 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Chomsky Quote

The issue is much broader. It's whether we
want to live in a free society or whether we
want to live under what amounts to a form of
self-imposed totalitarianism, with the
bewildered herd marginalized, directed
elsewhere, terrified, screaming patriotic
slogans, fearing for their lives and admiring
with awe the leader who saved them from
destruction, while the educated masses
goosestep on command and repeat the slogans
they're supposed to repeat and the society
deteriorates at home. We end up serving as a
mercenary enforcer state, hoping that others
are going to pay us to smash up the world.
Those are the choices. That's the choice that
you have to face. The answer to those
questions is very much in the hands of people
like you and me.


105. Noam Chomsky-Media Control-1991 (61:46)
subtitles: http://www.openlibrary.ws/authors/noam-chomsky/media-control/9/

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posted by u2r2h at 1:53 PM 0 comments links to this post

Iraq War - crime summary - MUST READ

Iraq war disinformation: propaganda to cover-up mass murder

August 14, 12:18 PMLA County Nonpartisan ExaminerCarl Herman


"The only thing new in the world is the history you don't know." -- Harry Truman, as quoted in Plain Speaking : An Oral Biography of Harry S Truman (1974) by Merle Miller, p. 26.

Senator Lieberman, Secretary of State Clinton, and former UN Ambassador John Bolton have resumed rhetoric of a United States attack upon Iran. As my other articles have demonstrated, that rhetoric is false and intentional propaganda attempting to justify another US War of Aggression, and that the rhetoric for war with Iraq was also known to be false at the time it was told and we have been lied to continuously up to the present. The following is from my brief, "War with Iraq and Afghanistan, rhetoric for war with Iran." Please use this information in any way helpful to build a brighter future.

Disinformation during the War in Iraq: The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform reported in July, 2008 that because top military and White House "striking lack of recollection," responsibility could not be determined for official misinformation on the death of Pat Tillman in 2004 and the circumstances for the recovery of Jessica Lynch.[1] Pat Tillman was the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year and All-Pro linebacker for the Arizona Cardinals, breaking their single-season record for tackles. When Pat turned down a $3.6 million contract to join the US Army Rangers, he became a poster-boy for supporting the war.

Kevin Tillman, Pat.s brother who served with him, wrote that they discovered that the "War on Terror" was an illegal invasion, subverted the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, included US torture of detainees, was all based on lies, and that American leadership had made a more dangerous world.[2] One of Pat.s fellow soldiers reported Pat stating, "You know, this war is so f---ing illegal."[3] Pat.s mother, Mary Tillman, also says that Pat concluded the war was illegal,[4] and that Pat arranged to meet with MIT Professor Noam Chomsky to discuss the illegality of the war.[5] Given that Chomsky is one of the US. strongest and most prolific spokespersons against the war, the probable result of such a meeting would be Chomsky and/or Tillman going public with their report. Mary Tillman would like to publicize Pat.s diary to confirm Pat.s exact impressions. However, the military informed her that his diary was "accidentally" completely burned, along with his uniform and body armor (perhaps these were destroyed to cover-up evidence that would have falsified the military.s report that Pat was killed by enemy fire to the chest). The official US story on Tillman.s death was that he died heroically engaging the enemy in a fierce firefight. After the public funeral and publicity, and five weeks after his death, the government acknowledged that Pat was killed by his own troops in "an accident." Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act showed the medical examiners of Pat.s body reported that he was killed by three shots to the forehead in a tight pattern, concluding the shots came from 10 yards or so away.[6] Military personnel familiar with firing the specific weapon report that to have such a tight pattern with three rounds would require being no more than ten feet away, or the result of three separate snipers firing simultaneously.[7] Because of this strong physical evidence, Army doctors requested an investigation for murder (fratricide). Both of their requests were denied. In addition, there was zero evidence of any enemy fire at the scene (no other person or equipment was shot and no shell casings were found), Special Forces snipers were among the unit that fired on Pat, Army attorneys sent each other congratulatory e-mails in keeping information away from the public and securing non-criminal reprimands, and the three-star general who managed the disinformation responded to over 70 specific questions from the official investigation with the answer, "I don.t remember."[8]

The US is using illegal WMD in Iraq that kills and damages US troops and Iraqi civilians: depleted uranium shells (DU).[9] The UN declared DU weapons in violation of several International Laws and UN conventions in August 2002. Independent medical research found increases in cancer and birth defects at 400% of previous rates in areas of DU use.

In 2004, the US military planned to spend $100 million to hire at least 100 people as covert counter-intelligence agents in Iraq to provoke terrorist groups to cause acts of terrorism against the Iraqi people. The stated purpose of this project was to expose terrorist groups for counterattack by US forces.[10] This means that the US planned to incite terrorism that would injure and kill Iraqi civilians, making the US an accomplice to terrorism.

Among the provisions of US occupation of Iraq is that it is now illegal for Iraqi farmers to use their own seeds; this in the Fertile Crescent where much of agriculture began. Iraqi farmers must buy their seeds from US companies, and only use genetically modified seeds where farmers pay a licensing fee for each use.[11] This act is done under US rhetoric for "freedom for the Iraqi people."

In December, 2004, the US announced a military siege of the Iraq city of Fallujah, home to 300,000 Iraqis (please figure out how that compares to where you live; it.s 15 of my 20,000 population cities). The US gave the city residents the ultimatum of abandoning their homes or being attacked as terrorists. 250,000 left the city, becoming refugees with no provisions for their care. The US military estimated that Fallujah contained a "few thousand" terrorists; but all remaining 50,000 residents were targeted as the enemy. When the US attacked Falujah, their structural targets included the four water purification plants, destroying three and severely damaging the fourth. Again, this is a War Crime.[12]

Beginning in November, 2005, US war strategy increased the use of air strikes against Iraqi urban areas to nearly 1,000 sorties a month, deploying 500 and 1,000 pound bombs. The most respected medical journal in the UK, The Lancet, reported that the US and coalition forces cause 85% of all violent deaths in Iraq, with 95% of those coming from aerial attacks.[13]

The Bush administration repeatedly assured the American public that our stay in Iraq is temporary, just until the Iraqi people can manage themselves. However, the US has built four military "super-bases," each housing tens of thousands of personnel that appear permanent.[14] The new US Embassy in prime-area Baghdad on the Tigris River is over 100 acres and will house over 8,000 people (in comparison, my large local high school is 18.5 acres), also appearing to manage greater responsibility than diplomacy in someone else.s country.[15]

Some people argue that the US should stay to repair the damage done in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unfortunately, the aid that is allocated seems to be subject to corrupt practices of over-priced items of poor quality. The mark-up is called "phantom aid" because the money transfers directly from aid agencies to the bank accountants of the "reconstruction" companies. Estimates of how much aid is phantom range from 20% to 86%.[16]

Seventy percent of Iraqis want the US out immediately, Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Maliki has called for the US to leave, and 60% of the American public want the US out within a year.[17] I also note significant similarities to both parties. policies toward the Vietnam War and the media.s support of the war. As with the Vietnam War, Democrats have become more vocal against the war, but their party leadership continues its funding.

[1] Common Dreams. AP Report. Probe of Tillman Misinformation Goes Nowhere: http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/07/15/10364/ .
[2] After Pat.s Birthday. Oct. 19, 2006: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/200601019_after_pats_birthday/ .
[3] SFGate. Collier, R. Family Demands the Truth. Sept. 25, 2005: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/09/25/MNGD7ETMNM1.DTL .
[4] Crooks and Liars. Silent Patriot. Mary Tillman Demands Answers. March 28, 2007: http://www.crooksandliars.com/2007/03/28/mary-tillman-demands-answers .
[5] Common Dreams. Zirin, D. The meeting that never was: Pat Tillman and Noam Chomsky. Oct. 7, 2005: http://www.commondreams.org/views05/1007-22.htm .
[6] Was Tillman Murdered? AP Gets New Information. July 26, 2007: http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003617692 and Kevin.s testimony to Congress. Hearing on Tillman, Lynch Incidents. Kevin Tillman.s Opening: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUCyr3B3IlM .
[7] Mail Online. Laurence, C. Was the pin-up boy of Bush.s war on terror assassinated? Aug. 3, 2007: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-473037/Was-pin-boy-Bushs-War-Terror-assassinated.html .
[8] USA Today. Mendoza, M. New Details on Tillman.s Death. July 27, 2007: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-07-26-tillman-friendly-fire_N.htm .
[9] Project Censored. Williams, R., Jacks, S., Spencer, J. #8 in top 25 censored stories for 2004: US/British forces continue use of depleted uranium weapons despite negative health effects. http://www.projectcensored.org/top-stories/articles/8-us-british-forces-continue-use-of-depleted-uranium-weapons-despite-negati/ .
[10] Project Censored. Nelson, C., Storino, M., Scanlan, J. #4 in top 25 censored stories for 2004: Rumsfeld.s plan to provoke terrorists. http://www.projectcensored.org/top-stories/articles/4-rumsfelds-plan-to-provoke-terrorists/ .
[11] Project Censored. Wingard, J., Barker, C. #8 in top 25 censored stories for 2006: Iraqi farmers threatened by Bremer.s mandates. http://www.projectcensored.org/top-stories/articles/8-iraqi-farmers-threatened-by-bremers-mandates/ .
[12] Project Censored. Crowley, B., Jaffe, S., Lanphear, B. #2 in top 25 censored stories for 2006: Media coverage fails on Iraq: Fallujah and the civilian deathtoll. http://www.projectcensored.org/top-stories/articles/2-media-coverage-fails-on-iraq-fallujah-and-the-civilian-deathtoll/ .
[13] Project Censored. Manning, R., Fuchs, B. #10 in top 25 censored stories for 2007: Expanded air war in Iraq kills more civilians. http://www.projectcensored.org/top-stories/articles/10-expanded-air-war-in-iraq-kills-more-civilians/
[14] See Information Clearing House. Lando, B. Total Withdrawal? Who Are You Kidding? March 12, 2007: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article17295.htm and Alternet. Von Hoffman, N. Finally, the US Mega-Bases in Iraq are Under Debate. June 15, 2008: http://www.alternet.org/waroniraq/88225/?ses=fbfcb7bbac63ae4a7d8a3ea1b586faca .
[15] The Nation. Von Hoffman, N. Bush.s Baghdad Palace. June 20, 2006: http://www.thenation.com/doc/20060703/howl and Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embassy_of_the_United_States_in_Baghdad , and Daniel Pipes Blog. "The Largest Embassy Ever Run by Any Country." March 9, 2004: http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/196 .
[16] Project Censored. Hall, M., Bickel, J., Dean, J. #11 in top 25 censored stories for 2008: The scam of "reconstruction" in Afghanistan. http://www.projectcensored.org/top-stories/articles/11-the-scam-of-reconstruction-in-afghanistan/ .
[17] ABC News Commentary. Sam Donaldson. Sam Dissects "Myth" Behind American Troop Presence. July 8, 2008: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/story?id=5331769 .

source: www.examiner.com/x-18425-LA-County-Nonpartisan-Examiner~y2009m8d14-Iraq-war-disinformation-propaganda-to-coverup-mass-murder

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Iraq war disinformation: propaganda to cover-up mass murder

Iraq war disinformation: propaganda to cover-up mass murder

August 14, 12:18 PMLA County Nonpartisan ExaminerCarl Herman


"The only thing new in the world is the history you don't know." -- Harry Truman, as quoted in Plain Speaking : An Oral Biography of Harry S Truman (1974) by Merle Miller, p. 26.

Senator Lieberman, Secretary of State Clinton, and former UN Ambassador John Bolton have resumed rhetoric of a United States attack upon Iran. As my other articles have demonstrated, that rhetoric is false and intentional propaganda attempting to justify another US War of Aggression, and that the rhetoric for war with Iraq was also known to be false at the time it was told and we have been lied to continuously up to the present. The following is from my brief, "War with Iraq and Afghanistan, rhetoric for war with Iran." Please use this information in any way helpful to build a brighter future.

Disinformation during the War in Iraq: The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform reported in July, 2008 that because top military and White House "striking lack of recollection," responsibility could not be determined for official misinformation on the death of Pat Tillman in 2004 and the circumstances for the recovery of Jessica Lynch.[1] Pat Tillman was the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year and All-Pro linebacker for the Arizona Cardinals, breaking their single-season record for tackles. When Pat turned down a $3.6 million contract to join the US Army Rangers, he became a poster-boy for supporting the war.

Kevin Tillman, Pat.s brother who served with him, wrote that they discovered that the "War on Terror" was an illegal invasion, subverted the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, included US torture of detainees, was all based on lies, and that American leadership had made a more dangerous world.[2] One of Pat.s fellow soldiers reported Pat stating, "You know, this war is so f---ing illegal."[3] Pat.s mother, Mary Tillman, also says that Pat concluded the war was illegal,[4] and that Pat arranged to meet with MIT Professor Noam Chomsky to discuss the illegality of the war.[5] Given that Chomsky is one of the US. strongest and most prolific spokespersons against the war, the probable result of such a meeting would be Chomsky and/or Tillman going public with their report. Mary Tillman would like to publicize Pat.s diary to confirm Pat.s exact impressions. However, the military informed her that his diary was "accidentally" completely burned, along with his uniform and body armor (perhaps these were destroyed to cover-up evidence that would have falsified the military.s report that Pat was killed by enemy fire to the chest). The official US story on Tillman.s death was that he died heroically engaging the enemy in a fierce firefight. After the public funeral and publicity, and five weeks after his death, the government acknowledged that Pat was killed by his own troops in "an accident." Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act showed the medical examiners of Pat.s body reported that he was killed by three shots to the forehead in a tight pattern, concluding the shots came from 10 yards or so away.[6] Military personnel familiar with firing the specific weapon report that to have such a tight pattern with three rounds would require being no more than ten feet away, or the result of three separate snipers firing simultaneously.[7] Because of this strong physical evidence, Army doctors requested an investigation for murder (fratricide). Both of their requests were denied. In addition, there was zero evidence of any enemy fire at the scene (no other person or equipment was shot and no shell casings were found), Special Forces snipers were among the unit that fired on Pat, Army attorneys sent each other congratulatory e-mails in keeping information away from the public and securing non-criminal reprimands, and the three-star general who managed the disinformation responded to over 70 specific questions from the official investigation with the answer, "I don.t remember."[8]

The US is using illegal WMD in Iraq that kills and damages US troops and Iraqi civilians: depleted uranium shells (DU).[9] The UN declared DU weapons in violation of several International Laws and UN conventions in August 2002. Independent medical research found increases in cancer and birth defects at 400% of previous rates in areas of DU use.

In 2004, the US military planned to spend $100 million to hire at least 100 people as covert counter-intelligence agents in Iraq to provoke terrorist groups to cause acts of terrorism against the Iraqi people. The stated purpose of this project was to expose terrorist groups for counterattack by US forces.[10] This means that the US planned to incite terrorism that would injure and kill Iraqi civilians, making the US an accomplice to terrorism.

Among the provisions of US occupation of Iraq is that it is now illegal for Iraqi farmers to use their own seeds; this in the Fertile Crescent where much of agriculture began. Iraqi farmers must buy their seeds from US companies, and only use genetically modified seeds where farmers pay a licensing fee for each use.[11] This act is done under US rhetoric for "freedom for the Iraqi people."

In December, 2004, the US announced a military siege of the Iraq city of Fallujah, home to 300,000 Iraqis (please figure out how that compares to where you live; it.s 15 of my 20,000 population cities). The US gave the city residents the ultimatum of abandoning their homes or being attacked as terrorists. 250,000 left the city, becoming refugees with no provisions for their care. The US military estimated that Fallujah contained a "few thousand" terrorists; but all remaining 50,000 residents were targeted as the enemy. When the US attacked Falujah, their structural targets included the four water purification plants, destroying three and severely damaging the fourth. Again, this is a War Crime.[12]

Beginning in November, 2005, US war strategy increased the use of air strikes against Iraqi urban areas to nearly 1,000 sorties a month, deploying 500 and 1,000 pound bombs. The most respected medical journal in the UK, The Lancet, reported that the US and coalition forces cause 85% of all violent deaths in Iraq, with 95% of those coming from aerial attacks.[13]

The Bush administration repeatedly assured the American public that our stay in Iraq is temporary, just until the Iraqi people can manage themselves. However, the US has built four military "super-bases," each housing tens of thousands of personnel that appear permanent.[14] The new US Embassy in prime-area Baghdad on the Tigris River is over 100 acres and will house over 8,000 people (in comparison, my large local high school is 18.5 acres), also appearing to manage greater responsibility than diplomacy in someone else.s country.[15]

Some people argue that the US should stay to repair the damage done in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unfortunately, the aid that is allocated seems to be subject to corrupt practices of over-priced items of poor quality. The mark-up is called "phantom aid" because the money transfers directly from aid agencies to the bank accountants of the "reconstruction" companies. Estimates of how much aid is phantom range from 20% to 86%.[16]

Seventy percent of Iraqis want the US out immediately, Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Maliki has called for the US to leave, and 60% of the American public want the US out within a year.[17] I also note significant similarities to both parties. policies toward the Vietnam War and the media.s support of the war. As with the Vietnam War, Democrats have become more vocal against the war, but their party leadership continues its funding.

[1] Common Dreams. AP Report. Probe of Tillman Misinformation Goes Nowhere: http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/07/15/10364/ .
[2] After Pat.s Birthday. Oct. 19, 2006: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/200601019_after_pats_birthday/ .
[3] SFGate. Collier, R. Family Demands the Truth. Sept. 25, 2005: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/09/25/MNGD7ETMNM1.DTL .
[4] Crooks and Liars. Silent Patriot. Mary Tillman Demands Answers. March 28, 2007: http://www.crooksandliars.com/2007/03/28/mary-tillman-demands-answers .
[5] Common Dreams. Zirin, D. The meeting that never was: Pat Tillman and Noam Chomsky. Oct. 7, 2005: http://www.commondreams.org/views05/1007-22.htm .
[6] Was Tillman Murdered? AP Gets New Information. July 26, 2007: http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003617692 and Kevin.s testimony to Congress. Hearing on Tillman, Lynch Incidents. Kevin Tillman.s Opening: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUCyr3B3IlM .
[7] Mail Online. Laurence, C. Was the pin-up boy of Bush.s war on terror assassinated? Aug. 3, 2007: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-473037/Was-pin-boy-Bushs-War-Terror-assassinated.html .
[8] USA Today. Mendoza, M. New Details on Tillman.s Death. July 27, 2007: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-07-26-tillman-friendly-fire_N.htm .
[9] Project Censored. Williams, R., Jacks, S., Spencer, J. #8 in top 25 censored stories for 2004: US/British forces continue use of depleted uranium weapons despite negative health effects. http://www.projectcensored.org/top-stories/articles/8-us-british-forces-continue-use-of-depleted-uranium-weapons-despite-negati/ .
[10] Project Censored. Nelson, C., Storino, M., Scanlan, J. #4 in top 25 censored stories for 2004: Rumsfeld.s plan to provoke terrorists. http://www.projectcensored.org/top-stories/articles/4-rumsfelds-plan-to-provoke-terrorists/ .
[11] Project Censored. Wingard, J., Barker, C. #8 in top 25 censored stories for 2006: Iraqi farmers threatened by Bremer.s mandates. http://www.projectcensored.org/top-stories/articles/8-iraqi-farmers-threatened-by-bremers-mandates/ .
[12] Project Censored. Crowley, B., Jaffe, S., Lanphear, B. #2 in top 25 censored stories for 2006: Media coverage fails on Iraq: Fallujah and the civilian deathtoll. http://www.projectcensored.org/top-stories/articles/2-media-coverage-fails-on-iraq-fallujah-and-the-civilian-deathtoll/ .
[13] Project Censored. Manning, R., Fuchs, B. #10 in top 25 censored stories for 2007: Expanded air war in Iraq kills more civilians. http://www.projectcensored.org/top-stories/articles/10-expanded-air-war-in-iraq-kills-more-civilians/
[14] See Information Clearing House. Lando, B. Total Withdrawal? Who Are You Kidding? March 12, 2007: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article17295.htm and Alternet. Von Hoffman, N. Finally, the US Mega-Bases in Iraq are Under Debate. June 15, 2008: http://www.alternet.org/waroniraq/88225/?ses=fbfcb7bbac63ae4a7d8a3ea1b586faca .
[15] The Nation. Von Hoffman, N. Bush.s Baghdad Palace. June 20, 2006: http://www.thenation.com/doc/20060703/howl and Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embassy_of_the_United_States_in_Baghdad , and Daniel Pipes Blog. "The Largest Embassy Ever Run by Any Country." March 9, 2004: http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/196 .
[16] Project Censored. Hall, M., Bickel, J., Dean, J. #11 in top 25 censored stories for 2008: The scam of "reconstruction" in Afghanistan. http://www.projectcensored.org/top-stories/articles/11-the-scam-of-reconstruction-in-afghanistan/ .
[17] ABC News Commentary. Sam Donaldson. Sam Dissects "Myth" Behind American Troop Presence. July 8, 2008: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/story?id=5331769 .

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Monday, August 10, 2009

CHOMSKY on Iran protests - Radio Farda

Noam Chomsky, the prominent American author, philosopher and political activist, who is known as the father of modern linguistics, has applauded the movement of Iranians. In his interview with the American-funded Persian language Radio Farda, he talked about the Iranian protests, Iran's history with repression, and uprisings in other parts of the world.

Mr. Chomsky, you have supported the civil movement of the Iranian protesters. In the first place, what makes you do that?

Chomsky: Well, I think they're right to protest the prosecution of political prisoners, violent repression, and other autocratic authoritarian procedures of the Iranian regime.

Iran has been among the headlines for years now, although this time seems to be hugely different. This is among the very few occasions that the people of Iran are making the news, and not the government. What was your personal impression, when you first saw the images, coming out of cell phones in Iran. Did you ever expect something like this to happen?

Chomsky: No, but I haven't predicted the other popular uprisings in Iran, either. I didn't anticipate the 1979 uprising, and I do not know anyone else who did. U.S intelligence certainly didn't. There have been many others as well. There have been major protests against the Shah; there have been protests against this regime. And that goes far back. Iran indeed has a tradition of popular protest against repression and so on.

That actually leads me to the next question; Iranian people have been under constant repression and abuse.as the critics put it.for decades. But how come they have staged this huge protest now? Not for the vivid abuses, or even for the stinging economic condition, but for a democratic value: their vote. What do you make of that, Professor Chomsky?

Chomsky: Well, you can ask the same question about the Shah. How come Iranians did not have a major protest, huge enough to force the army to back off, until 1979? You can't really know. I mean, popular protests are not predictable. How come the indigenous people of the Western hemisphere, the most repressed population of the people in the hemisphere, did not really have a major uprising at a scale that took over the country until 2000, 2005, in Bolivia? Why wasn't there a massive civil rights movement until 1960? You know, there were rights movements, but nothing like that scale. These things happen, and there are a lot of factors that contribute, not a single one. In Iran, for instance, there was much repression during the 1980's, under Mousavi, in fact, but Iran was at war during that time. It had been attacked by Iraq with the support of the United States and the other Western powers. Hundreds of thousands of people had been killed by chemical weapons and other crimes. That is not the time that you rise up against the regime.

Then, talking about the recent uprising, what impact do you think the meaning of "vote" and their democratic choice had on Iranians in terms of pushing the protests?

Chomsky: Sure, it had a lot to do with that. Well, you know there was no protest in 2005 [against the outcome of the previous election], maybe some, but nothing at this scale for sure. In this [current] period there, in part of a large part of the population, we don't know much about the internal structure, and you can debate exactly who or how, but there was an expectation that this election would somehow be different, and there would be opportunity for change, which certainly a substantial part of the population wants. But those hopes were dashed. The election results, both the manner in which they were presented and the numbers that came out, really lacked credibility, and many people thought they were inaccurate, so they rose in protest. But to predict such protests has never been possible; too many factors are involved. Nobody that I know predicted it in this case.

This one is not a new question, it has been repeated over and over throughout the history: People protest, they get clamped down and even shot, but yet again they're back on the streets. Is it still the vote.for instance in Iran's case.that matters so much, or does the motive transform itself into a kind of moral obligation at some point? What is the psychological explanation for that?

Chomsky: I don't think there is any generalization about that. Things are different, situations are different, and people react differently. Let me give you an example. Take Intifada in Palestine. Nobody predicted it. Israeli occupying forces had extensive, detailed information about the population under its occupation, but they had no idea that it was going to happen. The P.L.O. apparently had no idea it was going to happen. But then when it started, it just took off. And it lasted until violent repression was sufficient to destroy it. These things are not predictable or explainable. They start at some point, then other factors might get involved and demands might get larger. In some cases they succeed, too. Take Bolivia, which I mentioned earlier. There were major popular protests among the indigenous poor in 2000, and in that case it was pretty much focused on a particular issue: water rights. There was effort to privatize water, which would have priced it out of the reach of the population. It was a starting point, but that was just part of an accumulation of grievances. They happened to rise up at that point. And after that came more years of activism and organization, and it continued until finally in 2005 the indigenous majority, for the first time in 500 years, since the invasions entered the political arena, won an election.

Speaking of succeeding, Mr. Chomsky what do you think will happen if the current protests in Iran would not succeed? What is the psychological outcome of that for the protestors? Will they feel they have lost the game, or will the very essence of making their voice heard in Iran and around the globe keep them satisfied?

Chomsky: Well, you know, one striking fact about the commentaries since the protests is how much commentary there has been, which has an air of confidence from people who know almost nothing about Iran. In fact, the few people who really know something about Iran, most of them have been speaking with much less confidence, for good reasons. Now I am not going to add to the confident predictions by people who don't know much about Iranian society. Even in the society that I live in, the United States, were I have worked as an activist for all my life, I couldn't make confident predictions about questions like that. Too much is involved.

As the last point, Professor Chomsky, do you have anything in particular to say to the Iranians who are protesting? Do you have a message?

Chomsky: Well, protests against the nature of the regime. It's a clerical, military regime. Putting aside the details of the election, about which we do not know much, the whole structure of the regime is oppressive and authoritarian and undermines basic civil and other human rights; and protesting against it is not only honorable, but courageous, because it faces extreme violence. So, yes, I have to honor what they are doing. People have different motives, different goals, but the fundamental core of the protests against keeping political prisoners, against repression, against torture, against narrow clerical, military control, sure, that should be opposed. Actually I think we should oppose it in the United States, too. I mean, in the West, people talk rightly about Iran as a guided democracy. There are some democratic freedoms, but it.s under tight control. The Guardians Councils, for example, selects the candidates. But what happens in the West? In the United States, for example, it's obvious for anyone who studies the system, the candidates are selected by concentrations of private power. Elections are basically bought. So we also have a kind of guided democracy. Well, we should be protesting against that, too. I am not saying that the United States is Iran; of course it.s not. But there are repressive features in every society I know of, which should be protested.

........ original intro (blather)

Over the past two months, Iran, once again, has stolen headlines all over the world. But this time something fundamental seems to have changed; after decades of having the Islamic Republic in the spotlight, now it is the people of Iran who have become celebrities of the international media.

An unprecedented uprising of Iranian people protested what they saw as a fraudulent presidential election, keeping hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in power.

Hundreds of cell phone videos from the streets of Tehran spread across social networks, displaying anything from peaceful protests and massive waves of green-clothed supporters of reform to brutal crackdowns by the security forces and graphic images of civilians getting shot and killed.

Inside the country, amid this very crackdown and defiance, a line was crossed; the forbidden taboo of the supreme leader was broken. The protests were not just about the president anymore; slogans being chanted on the streets were now aimed directly at the absolute political and religious authority of the Islamic Republic and its Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Even the reform leaders, former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, former Parliament Chairman Mehdi Karrubi, and former President Mohammad Khatami showed an unprecedented noncompliance with the leader.

Outside Iran, the wave of international support for Iranian people followed instantly, from politicians and civic organizations to artists and stars aligned with Iran's reform movement. Human rights organizations staged worldwide rallies, Nobel Peace Prize laureates condemned the brutality of the police, academic figures held lectures, U2 dipped its concert in green light, and Joan Baez and Jon Bon Jovi sang in Persian.

Professor Noam Chomsky traveled to New York for a three-day hunger strike in front of the U.N. in protest of human rights abuses against Iranian protestors.

===== MUST READ =====

last night, I was watching Channel 4 News. coverage of the return of the two US journalists to the US from North Korea and the carefully orchestrated .low key. PR event, managed no doubt by Obama.s Twittering, Myspaced, Facebookie posse. But how can anything be low-key when exposed to the News Corporation.s gaze?

The entire thing looked like the final night of the Big Brother house replete with copious tears, and profuse thanks to BC etc. Hey look, don.t get me wrong, I.m glad that they.ve returned safely (but really, what were the odds of two of the Empire.s finest doing twelve years hard labour?)

That said, the entire thing is a gigantic charade that takes place in an alternative universe which is where the Independent comes in because it.s .news.papers like the Independent that actually build the scenery and fill in the characters for this alternate universe that we.re all supposed to live in.

Under the head of .First North Korea. Now Iran?. and penned by Anne Penketh who hails from something called the British American Security Information Council, or BASIC for short (check out the funders). The short response is, what is it that Iran is expected to do after Clinton.s diplomatic .coup. with North Korea? We forget that the US can go and speak to North Korea any time they choose to and resolve all manner of issues.if they cared to that is. Clearly it.s part of a larger PR drive to give US imperialism a kinda, friendlier face.

But enough of that for now, I.d like to focus on how Penketh sets up Kim Jong-Il for us, the unsuspecting public. Now Penketh didn.t invent the character she presented to us, she merely fiddled with the details. She has to, after all the illusion has to be maintained that it.s a true representation of the .adversary., North Korea personified in the assumed .unpredictable. nature of Kim Jong-Il.

And this from Penketh.s first para, so the scene is set. After a lot of blather about getting to know .first hand. Kim Jong-Il.s .mental and medical condition. that led up to Clinton .eyeball[ing]. the .wizened and frail. North Korean leader, and here it.s Penketh speaking who asks, .What does North Korea want?.

There follows a bunch of possible things that North Korea might want, surmises Penketh but as usual, the final alleged reason fills in a bit more about what kind of world North Korea lives in, when she asks, .What is going on in the mind of the leader of the world.s most secretive state?.

What indeed? I.d have thought the man was desperate to normalize relations with the West, but every time he strikes a deal with the US, the US reneges on it and it.s back to square one.

You can guess what this is all leading up to can.t you? In Penketh.s words, .Governments around the world are preparing for the next major opportunity to turn the screws on Iran..

So what does Iran want? Apparently nothing, it.s all about what the West wants. I need only point out that in terms of killing and other mass barbarisms, it.s the West that should have the screws turned real tight, not Iran.

Penketh tells us that the .matter is urgent. that Iran not go down the road of making nuclear weapons (hence the threat of the screws) as according to Penketh, the UN nuclear watchdog says Iran .already have enough low-enriched uranium to switch to a military programme and produce a small bomb if they decided to break out of UN safeguards and follow North Korea down that road.. (my emph. Ed)

Penketh has no quote for this assertion about switching to a military programme (and she makes it sound like simply throwing a switch and making a bomb! How ludicrous). So I looked up low-enriched uranium and came up with the following:

.The problem is that term .90% fissionable uranium. which Ynet uses is simply another way of saying weapons-grade highly enriched uranium (HEU) . and Iran has never made HEU; In fact, rather than making HEU, Iran has offered to place legal limits on its enrichment program, subject to IAEA verification, to ensure that it would only make low-enriched uranium (LEU) which cannot be used to make bombs. So not only has Iran not made HEU, it has shown no interest in making HEU too, despite what Ynet asserts.. (my emph. Ed) . .Low-enriched v. Highly enriched Uranium: not very confusing!., Iran Affairs, 10 July, 2008

To set this entire thing in its real context, in other words in our world, the real one, later in the piece Penketh, no doubt reluctantly, mentions, and that.s all she does, Israel.

.The British government last month issued a .Roadmap to 2010. in which it called for Israel to join the NPT [Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty], something Israel has refused to do... . .First North Korea. Now Iran?., the Independent, 6 August, 2009

Oh, is that it? No screws for Israel then, So the only country in that part of the world which actually HAS nuclear weapons gets off with a sentence, never mind a full para. And no peering into Benjamin Netanyahu.s mind to see if he.s bit barmy?

You can see my problem can.t you? On the one side, Penketh writes half a page about North Korea and Iran, a country which has no nuclear weapons and pledged not to build any (it is a fully signed up member of the NPT which Israel is not) and on the other, Israel, armed to the teeth with a reported 200-plus nuclear weapons, gets twenty-five words and they don.t amount to much of anything, not even a footnote.

Not to be outdone, the Independent.s editorial continued in the same vein about Kim Jong-Il, telling us that .it can be safely assumed, that [he] does not do public cordiality..

And just in case we don.t get it, the editorial goes on, .But nor could Mr Clinton be seen looking cheerful with a leader [Kim Jong-Il] who is at loggerheads not just with the US but much of the rest of the world.. (my emph. Ed.)

It ends with a resounding call to action by the Independent, and it.s surely what remains of the Empire speaking here,

.If it is recognition that North Korea craves, Mr Clinton will surely have left its leader in no doubt what he must do next.. . Editorial, the Independent, 6 August, 2009

Sounds like the Independent wants North Korea to roll over and take it up the yazoo. Nearly sixty years ago the West, led by the US, pulverized North Korea killing literally millions and is still technically at war with North Korea and it has nuclear weapons based in South Korea and on its fleets of aircraft carriers and submarines that surround the unfortunate country. So why in hell should North Korea surrender its sovereign right to defend itself given its history?

But because North Korea is presented to us not as a country but as an unpredictable (inscrutable?) person in the form of Kim Jong-Il, mere details, agreements, history and all that junk can be dispensed with. Instead, in line with the racially-inspired ideology that powers much of the thinking in the West, he has to be dealt with as someone unstable and well, crazy, who might, in a fit of pique, decide to fire one at the United States. Well he might you know, he is after all inpenetrable to the Western gaze, who knows what.s going on behind that wizened face?

William Bowles

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Friday, August 7, 2009

Happy Holidays John PILGER

These are extraordinary times. Flag-wrapped coffins of 18-year-old soldiers killed in a failed, illegal and vengeful invasion are paraded along a Wiltshire high street. Victory in Afghanistan is at hand, says the satirical Gordon Brown. On the BBC's Newsnight, the heroic Afghan MP Malalai Joya, tries, in her limited English, to tell the British public that her people are being blown to bits in their name: 140 villagers, mostly children, in her own Farah Province. No parade for them. No names and faces for them. The suppression of the suffering of Britain's and America's colonial victims is an article of media faith, a tradition so ingrained that it requires no instructions.

The difference today is that a majority of the British people are not fooled. The cheerleading newsreaders can say "Britain's resolve is being put to the test" as if the Luftwaffe is back on the horizon, but their own polls (BBC/ITN) show that popular disgust with the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq is strongest in the very communities where adolescents are recruited to fight them. The problem with the British public, says a retired army major on Channel 4 News, is that they need "to be trained and educated". Indeed they do, wrote Bertolt Brecht in The Solution, explaining that the people . . .

Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?

In their modern classic Manufacturing Consent: the Political Economy of the Mass Media, Edward S Herman and Noam Chomsky describe how war propaganda in free societies is "filtered" by media organisations, not as conscious "crude intervention, but by the selection of right-thinking personnel and by the editors' and working journalists' internalisation of [elite] priorities and definitions of newsworthiness". In the wake of the US invasion of Vietnam, in which at least three million people were killed and their once-bountiful land ruined and poisoned, planners of future bloodfests invented the "Vietnam syndrome", which they identified perversely as a "crisis of democracy". The "crisis" was that the "general population threatened to participate in the political system, challenging established privilege and power". Afghanistan and Iraq now have their syndromes.

With this in mind, I respectfully urge readers to put aside the holiday reading lists in the newspaper review pages, with their clubbable hauteur, and read, or read again, books as fine as Manufacturing Consent, which help make sense of extraordinary times. As Herman and Chomsky decode principally the American media, an ideal companion is Newspeak in the 21st Century, by David Edwards and David Cromwell (published next month by Pluto). The founders and editors of the outstanding website www.medialens.org present a fluent dissection of Britain's liberal media, employing the kind of rigour that shames those who proclaim their impartiality and independence from vested power. Read also A Century of Spin by David Miller and William Dinan, who describe the rise of an "invisible government" invented by Sigmund Freud's nephew Edward Bernays. "Propaganda," said Bernays, "got to be a bad word because of the Germans, so what I did was to try and find some other words." The other words were "public relations", which now consumes much of journalism.

The latest achievement of PR is the "Obama phenomenon". In Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics (published in the US by Paradigm), Paul Street peels away the mask in perhaps the only book that tells the truth about the 44th president of the United States.
Not enough laughs? Pack Joseph Heller's Catch-22, still unmatched in its demolition of the idiocies and lies of the killers who promote wars. Try this:

"Anyone," says Dr "Doc" Daneeka, "who wants to get out of combat isn't really crazy, so I can't ground him."
Yossarian: "OK, let me get this straight.
In order to be grounded, I've got to be crazy. And I must be crazy to keep flying. But if I ask to be grounded, that means I'm not crazy anymore, and I have to keep flying."
Dr "Doc" Daneeka: "You got it . . ."

Kurt Vonnegut's equally black and brave and hilarious Slaughterhouse Five is my other favourite war book.

"How's the patient? [the colonel] asked.
.Dead to the world."
.But not actually dead."
.No."
.How nice - to feel nothing, and still get full credit for being alive."

Faber recently published Harold Pinter's Various Voices: 60 Years of Prose, Poetry, Politics (1948-2008). It is a gem from Pinter on everything from Shakespeare, night cricket and Arthur Miller's socks to murderous great power:

It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless . . . while masquerading as a force for universal good. It's a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.

If you have not already read it, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers is a rare treat: a view of humanity so precisely, beautifully, honourably, yet almost incidentally expressed. In the "bantering inconsequence" (F Scott Fitzgerald) of effete modern fiction, no one touches McCullers or, for that matter, Pete Dexter, whose Paris Trout is the great unsung book of the American South, or Richard Ford, whose Rock Springs is a masterly collection, among his others, on the mysteries between men and women. And don't forget Albert Camus's The Outsider, about a man who will not pretend: a parable for today. Happy holidays.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Waffle Waffle.. Marx Chomsky the Greeks Lafontaine

The writer here wants to show off his education, but
it is difficult to get the point.

A mediocre read, but what the hell..

Who.s left? What.s right?

Wednesday, 05 August 2009 12:49

It goes back to the French revolution of
1789. At the Revolutionary Convention the
most radical of the insurgents decided to
seat themselves on the left side.

"Why not on the other side, the right side,
the place of rectitude, where law and the
higher right resided, when man.s best hand
could be raised in righteous honour?" wrote
Melvin Lasky in Encounter. "Anyway they went
left, and man.s political passions have never
been the same."

When Oskar Lafontaine, the
West German finance minister, broke with
Chancellor Gerhard Schroder in the early days
of the last Social Democratic government, he
explained it was "because my heart beats on
the left." The right could never say that,
even David Cameron. When Humpty-Dumpty
insisted on his own "master-meanings" he
reassured Alice, "When I make a word do a lot
of work like that, I always pay it
extra......." British Leftists sometimes
stretch their minds to work out if Prospect
is left or right. I tell them that it is hard
to tell most of the time which is how an
intellectual magazine should be. They
shouldn.t be asking the question. Perhaps if
they want to study the ambiguities and
contradictions of intellectual leftists they
should be informed that once upon a time- a
hundred and sixty years ago - there was a
writer, a philosopher, who spent most of his
time in the British Museum and who moved his
family from Soho to Primrose Hill. He wanted
his maturing daughters to have the chance of
meeting a better class of men. His wife too
was pleased because she could now invite
ladies to tea. A suitor of one his daughters
was given the door as he seemed unstable with
his revolutionary opinions. He wrote soon
after that he thought the "historical"
process had already started to undermine
"bourgeois society". One of the most
important disciples of the above lived in
1916 as an émigré in Zurich. According to
acquaintances he lived an exemplary bourgeois
life. Each morning he would clean his room in
the fastidious Swiss way. In the evening, his
writing finished, he refused to listen to
classical music, which he enjoyed, because it
might excite his emotions. He would complain
about the noisy behaviour of fellow émigrés
who lived down the hall, especially one who
constantly smoked and spent much of his time
going to the cinema, which our bourgeois
character refused to do. In fact friends
called them the cineastes and the
non-cineastes, and some of the sly among them
sometimes translated this as the Semites and
anti-Semites. Our three characters were all
ardent leftists, the first Karl Marx, the
second V.I. Lenin and the third Julius Martov
(the Menshevik leader). Are political views,
whether left or right, influenced by
different personality constellations? Marx
and Lenin were natural authoritarians. Martov
(and we could have added Frederick Engels)
were not. So this effort at political
classification doesn.t work. Who.s left?
Who.s right? Mao tse Tung thought he had
solved the problem by unmasking in the
Communist Party what he called
"capitalist-roaders". They were people like
fellow Long Marchers and apparent backbones
of the party - Liu Shao Chi, the head of
state, Lin Pao, the minister of defence, Deng
Xiaoping, at that time a convinced Marxist,
but later a capitalist convert who became the
supreme boss of China, and the Shanghai Four
How does one describe the political leanings
of Manmohan Singh, the prime minister of
India or his predecessor Mrs India Gandhi, or
the former president of Pakistan, Pervez
Musharraf or President Umaru Yar.Adua of
Nigeria or Mohammed Ghaddafi, president of
Libya? Or, reaching backwards a couple of
decades, southern Democrats in the U.S.
Senate, Anwar el-Sadat of Egypt, Mrs Sirimavo
Bandaranaike, prime minister of Sri Lanka
(the first female prime minister to be
elected in the world) or, come to that,
Charles de Gaulle. Maybe we can even add
Nicolas Sarkozy who often steals the clothes
of the left and recently called himself a
socialist, and Barack Obama, who is left in
his books and a sometimes confusing and
ambiguous mixture of left and right as
president. Thinkers can also have their
problems of identity. As Daniel Bell once
pointed out, Noam Chomsky has been hoisted by
the Marxist petard. "Some years ago he was
accused by a Canadian Maoist revolutionary
periodical of being an "agent of American
imperialism". It stood to reason. Chomsky.s
theories that language capacities are innate,
and that mankind generates rules through the
properties of mind, were characterised, quite
correctly, as philosophical idealism. As
every Marxist knows, idealism is the
reactionary philosophy of the bourgeoisie, as
opposed to revolutionary materialism. More
than that Chomsky had mentioned, in the
publication of his early work, that his
research had been financed by the Office of
Naval Research. Why should the American
military finance such research if it did not
realize that idealistic philosophy would
serve to confuse the masses?" Who.s left?
What.s right?

The confused situation in Honduras where an
elected president, Manuel Belaya, has been
shown the door by the army and the supreme
court is not so easy to solve

- as the Western and the Latin American
countries seem to think with their shout:
"Obey the rules of democracy!" To many, not
of the West.s persuasion, it seems that the
West once again is being holier than thou.
Anyway, is democracy such an intrinsic wonder
or sacred belief? "Democracy", wrote
historian Norman Davies, in his monumental
study "Europe", "has few values of its own:
it is as good or bad as the principles of the
people who operate it. In the hands of
liberal and tolerant people, it will produce
a liberal and tolerant government; in the
hands of cannibals, a government of
cannibals. In Germany in 1933-4 it produced a
Nazi government because the prevailing
culture of Germany.s voters did not give
priority to the exclusion of gangsters." The
Nazis in three out of the five elections they
contested increased both their popular vote
and their election of deputies. In time they
became the largest party in the Reichstag.
Despite the party.s street violence and
murders of opponents the chancellor, Franz
von Papen, decided to make Hitler chancellor
and himself his deputy. Two years later
Hitler called a plebiscite to approve his
elevation to the new position of Fuhrer and
Reich Chancellor. He gained 90% of the vote.
Maybe Berthold Brecht was right. We have to
change the people. Democracy was a Greek
idea. It did not last even there and it was
forgotten for two thousand years. Some of the
thinkers of the Enlightement resurrected the
idea, blending their classical knowledge with
a romantised idea of ancient Athens. Not all
of them were so taken by these new thoughts.
De Tocqueville wrote about "the tyranny of
the majority". Edmund Burke called the
democracy of the French Revolution, "the most
shameless thing in the world". Democracy
returned to the world stage during the
struggle for American independence and the
founding of the American republic, although
at first the Greek idea was anathema to its
leaders. Next it appeared in France, born
amid the struggles of the French Revolution
and its turbulent aftermath. At the end of
the Second World War, there were only six
practising democracies in the whole world.
Before the war democracy was never the norm
and only became more widespread in Europe
because of the resurgence of liberal values
that tried to make sense out of the carnage
of two horrific world wars, and because of
the creation of the precursor of the European
Union. Later, in the 1960s, there was the
birth of the human rights movement, led by
the founding of Amnesty International, now
one of the world.s most influential lobbies.
The presidency of Jimmy Carter pushed the
idea of democracy to the fore, especially in
Latin America and Africa. Modern day
democracy is in many ways a poor shadow of
the Greeks.. The Greeks made everyone equal
before the law and enacted a meritocracy. As
Pericles, Greece.s greatest orator, said,
democracy is also about taste, responsiveness
to beauty, sobriety of judgement and respect
for wisdom, discretion and generosity. The
Greeks. code of ethics, as the philosopher
Bernard Williams has argued, was enforced not
by the sense of sin but of shame, and often
shame at not living up to these high values.
Plato, who didn.t approve of democracy.s
commitment to the transfer of wealth from the
rich to the poor, strongly disapproved of
democracy. He believed that in the best form
of government philosophers would rule. In
newly liberated America democracy had its
detractors too. The most influential was
James Madison who believed that America was
too big for effective democracy. Over the
centuries, democracy has continued on its
onward path giving America a strong sense of
self-esteem. But in France the early ideas
on democracy - supported strongly by
Robespierre - ended with the dictatorship of
Napoleon and before too long the restoration
of the dynastic monarchy. Only later did
democracy slowly emerge in practice. Today,
there are many examples of the weaknesses of
democracy. In Asia, Africa, Latin America and
Russia where democracy has advanced in recent
years, there are side by side in the same
country horrific abuses of human rights and
widespread corruption. In the U.S. of
President George W. Bush Jr. torture was
carried out in secret and even now President
Barack Obama prevaricates about bringing its
initiators to justice. Recently in Britain a
good part of the legislators has been shown
to have been corrupted by over-claiming on
expenses. How the U.S. and Britain can
believe they can persuade the non-democratic
world to be more democratic sometimes beggars
belief. No one who has studied the course of
democracy can dare claim it is here to stay.
Like in France not very long ago, in a time
of a crisis yet to be faced by most of the
democracies, a Charles de Gaulle figure,
wise, just and incorruptible, may take power
in his own hands, and the people will welcome
it. If we want democracy to continue we will
have to fight for its integrity - we always
have to remember Churchill.s argument that
democracy is the worst system, apart from all
the others.

Read it for yourself, and don.t dismiss it,
as most western commentators have.

The Pan-European Security Treaty, proposed by
Russian president, Dmitri Medvedev, is worth
a read. Doubtless it can be modified,
improved and ambiguities removed. But it
makes a lot of sense, and it would be another
step forwards to what the last Soviet
president, Mikhail Gorbachev, urged - the
creation of a "European house", that contains
Russia as one of its inhabitants. Only those
"with one foot in the Cold War", to quote
President Barack Obama on the eve of his
recent visit to Moscow, should find it
objectionable. Indeed, play down Bolshevism
and the Cold War - a period of only 70 years
in Russia.s long history - it is a thousand
years since Prince Vladimir, its ruler,
accepted Orthodox Christianity for himself
and for his people. The moment Communism, the
Cold War and its entire works were over it
quickly revived. It is 500 years since
Byzantium Orthodoxy handed over the torch of
the Church.s leadership to Russia. When
Constantine in AD 326 moved the throne of the
Roman emperor to Constantinople and took his
newly adopted Church with him the city became
the headquarters of the Christian faith and
its patriarch. When it was overrun by the
Ottomans in 1453 the only place for both the
spirit and the headquarters of the Church to
move to was Orthodox Russia and the Slavic
lands. The "legitimate Church" was now the
heritage of Russia. 1453 was also the end of
the Roman Empire. The consequences for Europe
have been immense. The cushion of Orthodoxy
in Russia saved Europe from the full impact
of the eastern nomads and of Islam. A Muslim
Russia would have meant a very different
history for the West. In 1767, the Empress
Catherine categorically stated that "Russia
is a European state". In his ambitious study
of Europe, Norman Davies wrote that "Fears of
the .Bear. did not prevent the growth of a
general consensus regarding Russia.s
membership of Europe. This was greatly
strengthened in the nineteenth century by
Russia.s role in the defeat of Napoleon, and
by the magnificent flowering of Russian
culture in the age of Tolstoy, Tchaikovsky
and Chekov." Indeed it is clear that when it
comes to the proficiency in all the arts
Russia has no peer in Europe. Even in the
worst of times under Soviet totalitarian rule
many individual Russians, not only Gorbachev,
in their heart wanted a European identity-
not difficult to believe among those who were
conscious of the natural links of their
country.s artistic talents and their
(repressed) Church . When the communist
dictatorship ended it enabled Russians and
many of the other peoples of the ex Soviet
Union to greet, in Vaclav Havel.s phrase, the
"Return to Europe". When two years ago I
interviewed Zbigniew Brzezinski, the Russian
scholar, former National Security advisor and
now an unofficial adviser to Hillary Clinton,
the U.S. Secretary of State, he told me that
"I have given speeches about a Europe that
extends from Portugal on the Atlantic to
Vladivostok on the Pacific". But he also
added the important caveat, "But when that
will happen I don.t know. However, I do know
if Ukraine doesn.t move to the West, is
prevented from moving, or is excluded from
the West, Russia.s involvement with the West
will be much more delayed." I would add to
that point if President Bill Clinton hadn.t
pushed through the expansion of NATO and if
President George W. Bush junior hadn.t
continued the process by breaking a solemn
American promise made to Gorbachev not to
install NATO military infrastructure in
eastern Europe Moscow would not be so
unnerved by Europe and America.s courting of
Ukraine. Ukraine would be permitted to enter
the EU without much of a serious fuss and
Russia itself would have been a big step
nearer being considered for entry itself. At
the moment the question of Russia as part of
Europe is off the agenda. The issues
discussed at the recent Moscow summit are the
short term ones- nuclear disarmament,
Afghanistan, Iran and Georgia, although we do
not know what Obama discussed with Medvedev
and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in private.
But one not too far off day it must be.
Brzezinski is prepared to say that in 20
years. time Russia might be considered for EU
membership. There is much to put right before
then, not just on the Western side but on
Russia.s too. Nevertheless, Russia wants a
peaceful and productive relationship with
Europe and the U.S.. That is why we must read
and work on Medvedev.s Pan-European Security
Treaty. It is a good place to start if one
concludes, as I do, that one day Russia must
be part of the European Union.

by Jonathan Power

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