American Samizdat

Friday, May 31, 2002. *
Seattle artist Charlie Krafft has a great article in about his concurrent shows at the Grand Central Arts Center and Copro Nason gallery in LA. Charlie makes porcelain weapons and other assorted ephemera. I have one of his "Spone" teapots...porcelain made from human bone china. He's an usual but intelligent and entertaining guy, who ought to be an art superstar.
posted by Kirsten at 1:39 PM
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"How to Build Support for War" (1992) by the same folks who brought you the spin on the Persian Gulf "Crisis".
posted by Lisa D at 7:10 AM
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What the fuckety-fuck-fuck? Or G-rated news rooms and X-rated board rooms. This is an interesting thread covering pressrooms and their current state.

I like the little bitch that sez "Excuse me, this is a business office." [Start from the bottom of the page and read up]

courtesy of FastForty, WashPost veteran, freedom fighter, and supporter of da cause.
posted by Mr. Planet at 1:43 AM
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Thursday, May 30, 2002. *
Sketches from Palestine
We were at least one hundred-strong, representing Europe, America, and Australia, citizens of France, Italy, Sweden, the USA, the UK, and many points in between. We were marching arm-in-arm, chanting in Italian, French, and English.

We were (are!) the International Solidarity Movement to end the occupation of Palestine.

. . . The soldier pulled out his M16.

There was a shot. Pop!--like a firecracker. I ducked.

Another shot. Pop! I headed for the nearest wall. Another and another. Pop! Pop! Some of us ran back, others held their ground with their arms over their heads. Pop! Pop, pop!

posted by Dr. Menlo at 11:03 PM
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spent some sizeable time watching...
gwb, rumsfeld, & the att'y generalissimo on c-span,
and am feeling pretty damn yucky, ooooh, what a mess we're in.
Before we go and do the technicolor yawn & get it out of our system,
two things: first from Slate, FBI CYA;
from The New Yorker, Seymour Hersh's Missed Messages;
oh, and just one other thing, from the Online NewsHour,
Eye On Terror, commentary on the new FBI guidelines.
we'd provide a c-span link to the AG on C-span if they'd have provided one,
but believe us when we tell you, you'd only be sickened by the bullshit.
Ah, you don't believe me, eh? well...     damn...
go here and see for yourowndarnself.
We really wanted to locate a transcript of the Q & A afterwards,
so if we find it, we'll post it hereabouts.
posted by j at 7:44 PM
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EU techno-privacy on the line. Just coz that's how de do here in the US, doesn't mean it's the best idea, right?
posted by Mr. Planet at 3:32 PM
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Perhaps unwittingly (most likely), well-known right-wing hatchet man Jimmy L. has stumbled across a post by yrs. truly and responded with the most bumbleheaded tangle of opprobrium you ever did see. My reply is forthcoming.
posted by Dr. Menlo at 11:52 AM
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George Bush: "Do you have blacks in Brazil?"
It is said, that, before September 11, George W. Bush thought the Taliban were a Bavarian brass band. Now, thanks to his comprehensive knowledge, the most powerful man in the world has got into hot water again.

Washington - It was Condoleezza Rice, national security advisor, who helped her boss out of the embarassing situation. During a conversation between the two presidents, George W. Bush, 55, (USA) and Fernando Henrique Cardoso, 71, (Brazil), Bush bewildered his colleague with the question "Do you have blacks, too?"

Rice, 47, noticing how astonished the Brazilian was, saved the day by telling Bush "Mr. President, Brazil probably has more blacks than the USA. Some say it's the Country with the most blacks outside Africa." Later, the Brazilian president Cardoso said: regarding Latin America, Bush was still in his "learning phase".

I'm speechless.
posted by Craig at 10:03 AM
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FBI and CIA coming on-line with new powers

The anticipated changes will release agents from antiquated constraints such as requiring evidence of criminal activity before launching an under-cover investigation. Nine hundred agents will be recruited by September in furtherance of this scheme. The new anti-terror undercover shock-troops will be permitted to infiltrate groups of which the government disapproves, including religious groups, and trawl the Net poking about for signs of trouble without prior approval from headquarters.

In addition, the FBI has granted itself permission to work more closely with the CIA, a military support organization currently forbidden to operate within the US.
posted by Mike at 9:30 AM
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Wednesday, May 29, 2002. *
posted by Dr. Menlo at 3:54 PM
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De-Creeing Capitalism as the Only Alternative?

The following came over the Anarchy listserv yesterday -- someone posted the Cree prophecy, and then this post updating the capital situation there:

Quebec's Cree indian lands and rights sold for $3.8 billion. The treaty was signed February 7th. The Cree community wants profits from hydroelectricity and forestry projetcs despite their famous prophecy :

'Only after the last tree has been cut down,
Only after the last river has been poisoned,
Only after the last fish has been caught,
Only then you will find out that money cannot be eaten.'

The treaty was hailed as a triumph, the final, cheery chapter of an otherwise messy history between the Quebec government and the province's Cree. The 50-year deal would give the Cree much needed income and stability, while allowing the province to develop the vast hydroelectric, forestry and mining opportunities in the north.
Then, last night, I was involved in a long debate around the intersections of the work of radical educator Paulo Freire and the problems of indigenous peoples. It was pointed out that the North American indigenous peoples, through wave upon wave of oppression against them, find themselves in the contradiction of 1) shut out capitalism and try in whatever brutal fashion to remain traditional in non-traditional times, or 2) embrace capitalism and be assimilated. In the United States, the Cree appear to have chosen the latter, though in the guise of a cyborg culture which practices both native traditions and Anglican traditions -- weddings for instance have priests from both supervising. In any event, the idea was floated by Peter McLaren that it is interesting that a third possibility is never apparently presented as a real option for these peoples: to take capitalism up critically in revolutionary struggle against its oppressive nature. Can Chairman Mao be made to speak with Geronimo?
posted by Richard at 9:42 AM
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Tuesday, May 28, 2002. *
Bread, coffee, beer
Culinary betterment and other gifts of the left
Alexander Cockburn

I always try to sell the Left on optimism because of the Left's regrettable tendency to think everything's for the worst in the worst of all possible worlds. We just saw East Timor celebrate independence. As I told a celebration party put on by East Timor Action Network in Seattle, "Who would have bet in 1976, that after ghastly suffering and tremendous heroism, East Timor would, in 2002, be hoisting its flag?"
posted by Mark at 8:59 PM
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Guns, oil and private armies: A Bush-Cheney scandal you haven't heard, yet.
Wayne Madsen

posted by Mark at 8:56 PM
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Water, water, everywhere?

Water is indeed becoming a huge issue. Not just in the Southwest either. Atlanta, Georgia is running out of water too. Not because of drought, but because of too many people and no new water sources. And South Carolina and Tennessee aren't about to let Atlanta grab their water.

Plus, there's a major drought in the country now - Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Texas, and New England to mention a few - which is causing usually simmering water wars to break out into major hostilities.

It gets worse. The same fine minds who brought us Enron and energy privatization want to do the same with water. They want to privatize public water utilities. Mega-large corporations like Vivendi, Suez, Bechtel are buying up water rights and privatizing water utilities worldwide. Bechtel privatized a water utility in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Water prices tripled, residents became enraged, began organizing, and eventually drove Bechtel out. Other areas are not so organized or fortunate, their water prices went up, quality dropped, and they are stuck with it.

In southern California, the public Metropolitan Water District may cut a deal with a private company, Cadiz, where Cadiz would store trillions of gallons of public water in their private aquifers in a desert, then pump it out when MWD needed it. No one knows if this will work, what the environmental effects would be, or whether the aquifers would be able to replenish fast enough if large quantities of water were pumped out during a major drought. Also, Cadiz is millions of dollars in debt and tettering on bankruptcy. So, why oh why would their crazy scheme interest anyone? Did I mention they've given $300,000 to Calif. Gov. Gray Davis?

Is putting public water in private hands a good idea? No! Water should be publicly owned, and quality water to should be available to all for a modest price. Water is a right, not a privilege. My blog has a water privatization page, with more links and info.
posted by Bob at 4:24 PM
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Garret mentioned his water woes and then I ran accross a couple of other pieces with the same theme. This is an issue that is going to get nastier and nastier as time goes on and bears watching. I live on a lake on an island in the Northwet (spelling intentional) and water is becoming an issue here too. And we are one of the areas that isn't having a drought! Too many people using too much water and the water table is dropping. Check out the water situation in your area.

A three part series on the water situation in Santa Fe courtesy of dangerousmeta!

Dispatches From the Santa Fe Drought

These days I'm heard saying "arrrgh" a lot because the main issue I'm grasping goes like this: In about three weeks, barring a miracle, the drought-whomped city water supply will run so low that homeowners will be forbidden from watering their plants. It's called a Stage 4 Water Shortage Emergency, and Santa Fe—a high desert city that bumps up against the Southern Rockies—has never entered such a crisis state before, though there have been three Stage 3s since 1996. (In Stage 3, which we're in now, you can water once a week.) In addition to the fatwa on yard and garden bubbly, Stage 4 would halt new construction permits—a dire outcome for a growing community. As for Santa Fe's all- important tourist economy … well, would you vacation here if the "City Different" becomes the "City Dehydrated"? [more]


Atlanta's Growing Thirst Creates Water War

It has all the elements of a classic regional water war, pitting developers against environmentalists and state against state. Yet this battle is gripping not the parched Southwest, but the normally verdant Southeast, in a sign of future clashes around the country over an increasingly limited supply of fresh water. [more]


A book review from the Very Early Summer 2002 edition of Ralph.

Every Drop For Sale
Our Desperate Battle Over Water in a World About to Run Out

"The water-wars like those in Cochabamba --- and its historical predecessor, the Lake Owens theft --- are just the beginning. Already bruising legal battles and sword-rattlings are erupting across the globe. The Six-Day War was just such a water-war." [more]
posted by Gordon at 1:46 PM
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Palestinian Enslavement Entering a New Phase
The Israeli far-right – always the best indicator of Israel's true intentions – is quite outspoken: its aim is to make Palestinian life unbearable to a point that they would rather get up and go. Asked about his conception of "voluntary transfer" of Palestinians, Minister of Tourism (Rabbi) Benny Eylon compared the "voluntary" element to that of a Jewish husband who refused a rabbinical order to divorce his wife. Since rabbinical court cannot undo the marriage without the husband's consent, it should use force – excommunicate the obstinate husband, slash him, jail him etc. – until he "voluntarily" agrees to divorce. This is how the Palestinians should be "voluntarily" made to leave. And obviously, as long as they do not leave – because they cannot or will not – they should be struggling to survive rather than resist their oppression.
posted by A.Q. at 10:10 AM
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Rome. Leaders of 19 NATO countries voted Tuesday to allow Russia into the alliance's decision-making process, effectively making a diplomatic partner of the very entity that NATO was created to defend against.
Rome has become a bunker. Many of the main streets in the center of town are closed to the public. Getting to the coastal roads has become impossible. And the roar of all the helicopters has given me a headache. From my livingroom window, I can see 3 helicopters zapping around like mosquitoes.

Berlusconi said today was the most beautiful day of his life. He thanked the heads of state for coming to Rome calling them all by first name. He called Bush "Dub-ya". And my ears will be happy once all the boys go back home again.
posted by cynthia korzekwa at 8:26 AM
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The Yes Men, following proposals (in the spirit of taking capitalism to it's logical conclusion) to have votes sold to the highest bidder, and allow human rights abuses through Justice Vouchers, have disbanded the WTO.
posted by stack at 7:53 AM
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Monday, May 27, 2002. *
FBI actively BLOCKED 9/11 investigation

The FBI stopped an investigation of flight school student Zacarias Moussaoui prior to 9/11 and also actively blocked those trying to link him to the 9/11 attacks after they occurred. charges Minneapolis FBI field agent Coleen Rowley.

"Rowley wrote, that some field agents were frustrated enough to joke that key officials at FBI headquarters 'had to be spies or moles ... who were actually working for Osama bin Laden to have so undercut Minneapolis' effort'."

Hmmm, let's not forget FBI Deputy Director John O'Neill who resigned in July 2001 to protest Bush Administration blocking of FBI investigations into the bin Laden family.
posted by Bob at 10:09 AM
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The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nation's Millennium General Assembly. "...Around 1950 James Hampton approached a merchant in Washington, D.C., about renting an unheated, poorly lit garage in a deteriorating residential neighborhood. Hampton explained that he was 'working on something' and needed a larger space than that available in his room in a nearby boarding house. By November 4, 1964, when he died of cancer, he had built 180 glittering objects in the garage. That 'something' had become The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations' Millennium General Assembly."
posted by Andrew at 7:51 AM
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"In 1972 he had a vision about the end of the world, after which he began building computational devices and elaborate calendars in order to calculate the exact date of the Final Judgment..." Zebedee Armstrong is one of the featured visionary artists in the book The End is Near! Visions of Apocalypse, Millennium and Utopia by Roger Manley.
posted by Andrew at 5:23 AM
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Sunday, May 26, 2002. *
One of the demands of the kidnappers/killers of Daniel Pearl was that they wanted the F-16 fighters that Pakistan had bought from the US but had never recieved. Apparently the US didn't deliver the paid for F-16s because of laws barring arms transfers to Pakistan if they were attempting to build a nuclear weapon. Late last year Pakistan was still trying to get Washington to cough up the F-16 fighters. Washington refused the demand saying "Any transfer of advanced weapons would get everyone all riled up." Omar Sheikh, who is on trial right now for the murder of Daniel Pearl apparently was an agent of the ISI. It's weird that the fact that the murder of Daniel Pearl may be a Pakistani secret service tactic to pressure US to deliver the F-16s hasn't really been fully investigated by the media. But I guess as long as Pakistan continues to be a strategic asset for the US the truth of who really ordered the Daniel's killing will remain obscured until the US has to bomb/invade Pakistan for some reason and accusations and evidence will miraculously flood the corporate media sphere.
posted by New World at 10:36 PM
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a few items gleaned from our reading today...
Bush vs women of the world, Joan Ryan, S.F. Chronicle;
Life in Viper City:
'I joined up because I watched Full Metal Jacket too many times,'
the 10th Mountain Division's combat photographer tells me.
Later, admitting that he had thrown away a Fulbright scholarship
at college through partying too hard, he talks about being mortared
during the set-piece battle between American troops and al-Qaeda
and former Taliban fighters at Shah-e-Kot in March. 'Now I can tell
my grandchildren that I have been in the real shit,' he says. The line
was borrowed from the film. Later that day I heard a US marine sergeant
address a platoon. 'Listen in, ladies,' he began. He explained how he
wears a set of dog tags on his boots - as recommended by Doc, the drill
sergeant in Hamburger Hill - so that his corpse could be identified if decapitated.
When Uncle Sam meets 'Stan, Jason Burke, Observer UK;
Last item from New Scientist,
Three million would die in "limited" nuclear war over Kashmir
posted by j at 6:19 PM
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T.H. Huxley
Letters and Diary 1859

November 23, 1859
My dear Darwin–I finished your book yesterday, a lucky examination having furnished me with a few hours of continuous leisure.

... I trust you will not allow yourself to be in any way disgusted or annoyed by the considerable abuse and misrepresentation which, unless I greatly mistake, is in store for you. Depend upon it, you have earned the lasting gratitude of all thoughtful men.

I am sharpening up my claws and beak in readiness.

....I think the more


The end of subjectivity
A guide to musical correctness

But everything is not relative. Though there is no accounting
for simple bad taste, what is correct (or not is readily
apparent to anyone well-versed in the subject at hand.

For example, music.

(7.5 + 8) X (8 + 9.5 - 3) = 224.75

The formula
(c@ + E) X (rP + iP + T) = mc

Lowest possible score: -140

Highest possible score: 400

300 - 400:   Only the most correct subjects can expect
to score anywhere near 300. These mavericks make up for any
slight missteps with their adventurous spirit. Highest scores
yet calculated: 361, for the Lou Reed-led, pre-reunion Velvet
Underground, and 360, for John Coltrane's work between 1963
and 1967. These scores break down as follows:

Velvets (10 + 9) X (10 + 8 + 1) = 361

Coltrane (10 + 10) X (9 + 9) = 360

-140 - 0:  Only the most incorrect subjects can be
expected to score below zero. At this point, a coherent aesthetic
and apt execution will hurt a subject more than these factors
will help. Consider: the Cranberries (-7), Sammy Hagar (-8),
Motley Crüe (-14), Jane's Addiction (-28), Night Ranger
(-40), Doobie Brothers (-45) (oh shit, forgot "China Grove"),
Whitesnake and the Red Hot Chili Peppers (both -48), and Billy
Joel (-75).

The lowest scores yet tabulated are:

Sting (6 + 8) X (1 + 10 - 18) = -98

Eagles reunion (8 + 10) X (1 + 10 - 18)= -126

a singular theory that lies at the heart of the subject's work


posted by riley dog at 6:08 PM
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Israel: the military in charge?

Is Israel ruled by politicians or generals? In an extract from her forthcoming book, Israel/ Palestine – how to end the war of 1948 (Seven Stories), a leading scholar and commentator illuminates the perilous tensions, and chilling ideas, at work deep within the Israeli security establishment. [more]


Letter From Israel
Palestinian Enslavement Entering a New Phase
by Ran HaCohen

The Israeli far-right – always the best indicator of Israel's true intentions – is quite outspoken: its aim is to make Palestinian life unbearable to a point that they would rather get up and go. Asked about his conception of "voluntary transfer" of Palestinians, Minister of Tourism (Rabbi) Benny Eylon compared the "voluntary" element to that of a Jewish husband who refused a rabbinical order to divorce his wife. Since rabbinical court cannot undo the marriage without the husband's consent, it should use force – excommunicate the obstinate husband, slash him, jail him etc. – until he "voluntarily" agrees to divorce. This is how the Palestinians should be "voluntarily" made to leave. And obviously, as long as they do not leave – because they cannot or will not – they should be struggling to survive rather than resist their oppression. [more]
posted by Gordon at 3:00 PM
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Saturday, May 25, 2002. *

(D+ + R-) - (R+ + D-)
PI = 100 * ---------------------------
D+ + D- + D= + R+ + R- + R=

( = the partisanship index (PI) of pundits )

the steady screed stream


posted by riley dog at 10:27 PM
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I freed whom?!!?

I'm just kidding, of course. I can think of no greater legacy to leave behind than the abolishment of such a cruel and primitive practice. That is a wonderful joke, though. And I do love a joke. Just ask Mary.

There are few things I cipher about the current state of the nation. The difference between all-wheel drive and four-wheel drive for instance. (Are these not the same thing or has a wheel escaped my attention?) Foremost, though, is the persistence of religious conviction existing alongside the persistence of racial, sexual, and class hostility. These appear, to me, contradictory forces at work. For the record, though I mentioned my love for the joke, it was not in jest that I included that "this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom" passage in my address at Gettysburg; that was not flip. In transcribing that passage for me, Kennedy, my faithful secretary, did not follow it with a small parenthetical reminder to "pause for smattering of laughter." Get it together, please. I was shot in the head.

What would Abraham Lincoln Want to Say To Us Today?


posted by riley dog at 10:19 PM
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Friday, May 24, 2002. *
Encino apartment explosion due to human error

A police officer on the scene told me tonight that the Encino apartment explosion was due to a resident adjusting a furnace and accidentally leaving the gas on. The resident was badly hurt, the building is gone, other buildings nearby may have structural damage.

Even the stock market got the jitters over this, and tanked on news of the explosion.

posted by Bob at 8:53 PM
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Emily Dickinson: The Lesbian Belle of Amherst

posted by Dr. Menlo at 7:38 PM
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Apartment building explodes near my Encino CA condo. Deemed "suspicious".

So, I'm at the computer, when BOOM, I hear an extremely loud explosion. Not an earthquake, an explosion. Many car alarms went off. I call 911, then go investigate.

An apartment building across the alley has several units in flames. Two guys are holding the apartment fire hose but are afraid to go turn the water on. I run over and turn the water on anyway, keeping a watchful eye on the burning building next to me. Am not sure if I was stupid or brave. Little water comes out.

A guy stumbles out, dazed, his clothes in tatters, many cuts, abrasions and blood. A passer-by nurse starts helping him. I run back to my car, grab my first aid kit and a space blanket. The nurse uses this to start patching the guy up, who was in shock and shivering. The paramedics come, take him to the hospital, others are treated by paramedics too.

As I write this, all the roads in the area are closed, blocked by fire engines, with many news helicopters in the air, lots of smoke, and, according to TV news, 130 firefighters on the scene.

My first thought upon hearing the explosion was maybe it was terrorism. The latest media reports say the explosion was "suspicious" and the area has been declared a crime scene. KFWB, a L.A. news radio station currently has a special bulletin on this, no home page, just a bulletin about the explosion, so they are treating this as big news indeed.   I remember multiple explosions after the initial blast, which struck me as odd at the time.

The force of the explosion blew out fire walls inside the building and shattered windows in nearby buildings. Latest reports are three injured, one seriously. I'll be covering this in detail as we know more on my blog, Politics in the Zeros.
posted by Bob at 2:32 PM
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Intellectual Property Rights

Lawrence Lessig is one of the more interesting voices on the inadequacy and abuses of current copyright laws. He is doing more than talk — he is doing something about it.

The Creative Commons project was officially announced, and its new website was launched, on Thursday, May 16. See

Creative Commons plans to provide a free set of tools to enable creators to share aspects of their copyrighted works with the public or to dedicate them entirely to the public domain. Stanford Law School Professor and Creative Commons Chairman Lawrence Lessig described the new project this way when he spoke at the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference: "Our tools will make it easier for people to make some or all of their rights available to the public for free. If, for example, an artist wants to make her music available for non-commercial use, or with just attribution, our tools will help her express those intentions in a 'machine-readable' form. Computers will then be able to identify and understand the terms of the license, making it easier for people to search for and share creative works."

The tools aren't in place yet but there are some very interesting background papers covering the issues surrounding intellectual property rights and public domain.
posted by Gordon at 12:44 PM
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Retablo of Cevero Osornio (1937, Oil on metal). "...My son finding himself in great danger in the state of Wisconsin, U.S., I asked the Lord of Saucito that he save him and that he return with wellbeing to our town and having granted me such a great miracle I dedicate this retablo." From Miracles on the Border: Retablos of Mexican Migrants to the US.
posted by Andrew at 8:04 AM
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posting this to share w/our fellow harbingers...
as well as the various & sundry visitors stopping hereabouts;
Mark Morford, "The evildoers are coming. Again.";
and then, whilst visiting the Village Voice online,
where there happens to be many interesting items to peruse,
we came across this item re the Pentagon & jet planes.
posted by j at 7:16 AM
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US Policy and Gujarat

I recieved an email today regarding the situation in Gujarat state in India. The letter, penned by MIT doctoral student Kaushik Sunderrajan, encourages us that yes, there is something we in the States can do to affect the situation, and details them very specifically. Here is a teaser; the entire letter can be found here.
Dear friends,

Many of you probably know about the horrific pogrom of Muslims taking place in Gujarat now for the last 3 months, and also that war clouds hover large over the Indian sub-continent. Some of you may well be supporters of the ruling BJP, which is a central actor in both of these macabre happenings. Many of you whom I'm talked to in recent weeks feel horrified at what is happening but equally feel helpless; and many of you are already active in various ways in combating the BJP's malevolent politics of hate. I must apologise to those who either do not want to be preached to about these happenings, or who feel like I am preaching to the converted. I am really writing for the "horrified but helpless" group, but also to my friends who are not Indians, and whose help I think is absolutely vital in making this an international issue of concern _now_.

So, what can be done? Below are just some suggestions I've been thinking about, and again, apologies to those who have both articulated and already acted upon such and similar suggestions already.

1. At a personal level, we need to keep talking about these things, even at the risk of disagreement and debate. I know a number of us spend considerable amounts of time talking to each other over e-mail about cricket selection, even though we know that our fiercely held opinions will never reach the ears of the Indian selectors. Why still do we do so? If we can abandon our utilitarian cynicism to indicate our cricketing preferences to each other when we know it won't make a difference, then shouldn't we similarly be talking to each other about the fascist threat in India, even if it won't make a difference?

2. At the local community level, at least in the US, are already a number of mailing lists and South Asian community activist groups, such as the Forum of Indian Leftists (FOIL), South Asia Citizens Web (SACW) and the Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia. These may be good lists to subscribe to in order to stay in touch with some of the issues as they play both in India and in the US.

3. I think, as I've said above, that to say that it is impossible to do anything from the US (or Europe, especially the UK) is disingenuous, because, on the one hand, non-resident Indians (NRIs) are very vocal and influential in national affairs in India, and _can_ make a difference; on the other hand, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), realising this all too well, has very successfully mobilised in the US. Not only are they channeling money back to the BJP in India, they are also importing the fascist threat to the US. A recent example of this are the threats by members associated with the VHP to disrupt Shabana Azmi's talk in New York.

So what can we do, as NRI's and non-Indians in the US and the UK?

Below are some thoughts, and I welcome others . . . [more]

posted by L at 12:43 AM
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Thursday, May 23, 2002. *


IN AN EFFORT designed both to stimulate the economy and further the government's crackdown on welfare, two Republican Representatives--Robert McKinney of Ohio and Bob Barr of Tennessee--today proposed the "Pets-to-Work Bill."

Explains McKinney: "There are ten million live domesticated pet-animals living in this country right now. What are they doing all day?"

posted by Dr. Menlo at 8:46 PM
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Revolutionary Democracy -- now there's an idea! And that it is then linked to the idea of toppling all of the I.M. Pei juggernaut towers in our major urban sprawl-scapes...I can just feel Echelon sniff-sniffing all around these here electronic parts.

Seriously, though, Dr. Menlo has a finger on the political pulse with this last post. For in naming the issue of revolutionary democracy what is really being named is our particular Internet situation in conjunction with our political times (i.e. oncoming global catastrophe). Traditional media have been turned into mass propagandists for the corporate-gov't line and so just when we need more than ever a global media that can inform and organize quickly, we turn to the Net to produce our social dream. In this regard, I say, anyone who is not consciously recognizing that their time online is part and parcel of a revolutionary democratic project must think that the world wide web began with AOL.

But, there is a more serious concern about Internet technology being the great democratizer because if we do not realize that the Net's real socio-economic base (the material conditions by which it reproduces itself) is unfolding primarily along global capital lines, then we are not revolutionaries but simply naive phantasists.

The Digital Divide (along with mass-ecological extinction) has to be considered one of the biggest non-circulating issues of our present moment. If we can not find an answer to the fact that the Internet is establishing itself world-wide at the very division between rich and poor, informed and uninformed, healthy and polluted, then far from being a miraculous salvation, the Net (and all of us using it) has to be considered one large, elitist weapon of mass destruction.

For ideas about new technologies and the hope for democracy, see Douglas Kellner's website.

For ideas about combatting Digital Divide in America, see my essay for the UCLA Idea Lab's Journal on Technology & Democracy. Note: my unfortunate picture was suppossed to be a mugshot (it didn't come out right) b/c at the end of the essay I call for white techie males to go into poor neighborhoods and teach minorities how to steal powerful and expensive software just like the rich do on a daily basis. ;o)

---this was posted in Dr. Menlo's new Revolutionary Democracy Quicktopics area too, but the good doctor asked me to repost to Samizdat.
posted by Richard at 12:18 PM
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I remember hearing a theory once about the tallest building in town. 2 historical accounts were given--at one time, in one place, nothing in town could be built which was taller than the church (and I don't remember what the other building type was) . . . in contrast to today, wherein the highest building, in every city, is a symbol of the corporation, and an imposing one at that--giving no doubt as to who rules the town (and the world?) . . .

I propose we make a draft of legislation which will make it illegal, by law, to build any building in any town, all across the USA, which will be higher than that town's Hall of Democracy.

I am most interested in the concept of democracy, and want to create a side web page (static, not a blog) entirely devoted to that very subject, but more importantly (specifically) about: Revolutionizing Democracy in America.

I beseech all Harbingers to help, if they feel so inspired, and the general public, too: How do you think we can Revolutionize Democracy in America?

Harbingers may feel free to blog it, and the general worldwide audience is wholeheartedly invited to pitch in here.

So the next time you criticize American democracy and some lunkhead sneers: "So what do you suggest?" you can tell them where to go!

posted by Dr. Menlo at 4:25 AM
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Wednesday, May 22, 2002. *
San Fernando Valley secession from L.A. will be on the Nov. ballot.

The Valley secession movement passed a major hurdle today when the governing agency, LAFCO, voted 8-1 in favor of having the secession measure on the Nov 5, 2002 ballot. If a majority of Valley and City of Los Angeles residents vote yes, then the Valley will secede from the city. LAFCO will soon be considering whether Hollywood, and the Harbor area will also have secession measures on the ballot.

If the San Fernando Valley (known as the Valley to all) with its 1.6 million residents leaves L.A., it will become the 6th largest city in the country, and L.A. will drop from second to third place. So, this is a big deal in L.A., and has already attracted national and international media attention. If the Valley secedes, it will inspire other disgruntled city dwellers to do the same. Why the Valley? Because it's big, geographically isolated from the rest of L.A., and has always felt a bit apart. You will probably be hearing how the Valley is just right-wing Anglos in the 'burbs. Don't believe it. According to the L.A. Times a few months back, the Valley is now the most racially diverse part of L.A., with lots of everything in it.

So far the anti- forces are led by the deeply clueless Jim Hahn, Mayor of L.A. who has yet to present a coherent case why the Valley should leave ( and "We have a great city, don't break it up" doesn't qualify as coherent.) In a stunning bit of stupidity, Hahn, in the past two weeks, tried to sneak a "re-development plan" in downtown L.A. that, what a surprise, had a football stadium attached to it that out of town billionaires want to build and get the taxpayers to pay for. When Valley-ites are already annoyed by an out of touch downtown Mayor spending their money with little accountability, for him to try to sneak a football stadium in just when the Valley secession movement is heating up - well, that's what I mean by stupid. However the L.A. County Board of Supervisors (some powerful people) just slapped Hahn down saying the County would sue the City to stop this taxpayer ripoff. Hahn responded by mumbling something inane.

So maybe you can see why those in the Valley want to leave L.A.! (PS I am not unbiased, I live in the Valley and favor secession).
posted by Bob at 9:26 PM
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From the just released U.S. State Department report "Patterns of Global Terrorism 2001":

Unlike the pre-intifadah era, when Israeli-PA security cooperation was generally effective, PA [Palestinian Authority - IB] counterterrorism activities remained sporadic throughout the year [2001 - IB]. Israel's destruction of the PA's security infrastructure contributed to the ineffectiveness of the PA. Significantly reduced Israeli-PA security cooperation and a lax security environment allowed HAMAS and other groups to rebuild terrorist infrastructure in the Palestinian territories.

Israel's destruction of the PA's security infrastructure and the rebuilding of the "terrorist infrastructure" are not explicitly linked in this paragraph from the report. But the implicit meaning of the statements seems to be clear, if only because the statements are grouped together in one separate paragraph. The Israeli Ha'aretz newspaper interprets:

According to the annual "Patterns of Global Terrorism 2001" report, IDF operations in the Gaza Strip and West Bank damaged Arafat's ability to reign in terror, and contributed to an increase in terror attacks against Israel.

This part of the State Department report does not get much media attention. Maybe because it is so obvious? More media attention could weaken the position of those Israeli leaders who keep claiming that Arafat is fully responsible for the attacks and that the Israeli military actions in the Palestinian territories are effective.
posted by Igor at 3:09 PM
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Germany Gets Closer to Granting Animals Constitutional Rights

The sell-out of the German Greens (under the infamous leadership of Daniel Cohn-Bendit) has been the target of considerable rebuke but that doesn't mean we should turn a blind-eye to the potential gains the Greens have made by comprimising their way into the national leadership. Within the month, Germany will apparently grant constitutional rights to animals as regards the question of "human dignity." What affect will this have on the corporate establishment? Is it all talk and no action? These, of course are important questions and potentially tragic...but the fact remains that we are witnessing a monumental occurence in the history of states and in the juridical/legislative formation of state subjects...animals too now will have a subjectivity. Certainly, the precedent of tearing down the legal wall between human/animal has to be the type of governmental reform that should bolster further Green support in the next American elections.
posted by Richard at 12:50 PM
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Unstable Fringes

While Israel and Afghanistan have been taking center stage — and while Iraq and Iran are being pushed onto the stage — the region's fringes are starting to come undone. These bear watching.


PM's illness puts Turkey on the brink of collapse

The coalition government in Turkey held a summit meeting in a hospital ward yesterday as the increasingly frail Prime Minister, Bulent Ecevit, faced growing calls to step down due to ill health.

The country's political and economic future may well hang on Mr Ecevit's health, and his illness has set alarm bells ringing in Ankara and abroad. [more]


India Prepares Troops for 'Decisive Fight'

India's Prime Minister told troops on the front line with Pakistan on Wednesday the time had come for a "decisive fight" to end Islamic militant attacks New Delhi blames on its neighbor.

Atal Behari Vajpayee's tough talk added to fears India was preparing for war to force Islamabad to curb Pakistan-based Muslim activists fighting India's rule in disputed Kashmir. [more]


Too little, too late
Kashmir could become the world's most dangerous region - and the west's lack of interest is partly to blame

Last weekend India expelled Pakistan's high commissioner to New Delhi, Ashraf Jehangir Qazi. This modest diplomatic gesture fell well short of the swift military strike which many hardliners in India's ruling Hindu nationalist BJP party demanded. But many analysts believe a war has merely been postponed, most probably to September or October. Privately, India's generals admit the army needs a few more months to prepare.

At the border, where nearly 1 million troops from both sides have been dug in since January, Indian gunners are shelling Pakistani bunker posts. Thousands of villagers have fled. Pakistan is reported to be moving its Shaheen nuclear missiles into position. [more]
posted by Gordon at 11:32 AM
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received the following in my mail today...
thanks to recently met aquaintence J.M. and posting it here:

Dear Friends of the Israeli Peace Movement:

Below is a "copy" in its entirety of a very important letter to the New
York Times from Jewish intellectuals including Albert Einstein, Hannah
Arendt, and Sidney Hook that appeared on December 4, 1948. Of
particular interest may be the reference to the Deir Yassin massacre
which occurred earlier that year. While it is quoted from in brief on
several web sites, it appears nowhere in its entirety, and it deserves
to be disseminated as it originally appears

Source notes:
LN gave a copy of the microfilmed NYT to AL in April.
(AN has been using it in her class at UC).
The copy was illegible in parts and the first column was cut off; LN’s
original was the same. AL and UC A************ Librarian SC
then tried to retrieve an electronic version of the letter.
It appears nowhere in its entirety on the Internet, and is not in any
NYT electronic archive accessible to UC Librarians (i.e., it doesn’t
exist). SC made another copy from a different microfilm; it
solved the mystery of the missing first column but this copy was also
"dirty" in other areas. Neither copy was scannable using OCR. So I
typed it in by hand exactly the way it appeared in the original, and
have proofed it carefully. However, the spelling of some of the
signatories was unclear in the microfilmed originals, so there may be a
few errors in this rendition. It would be nice if someone were to
annotate the list of signatories, so that those less-familiar names
could be placed in context. At any rate, this clearly belongs IN FULL
TEXT on the web for distribution to as many people as possible. Please
circulate this amongst anyone you think may be interested; I think it
especially belongs in the hands of those friends and family members who
are still afraid to criticize the Israeli government.
22 May 2002

Letters to The Times
New York Times
December 4, 1948

New Palestine Party
Visit of Menachem Begin and Aims of Political Movement Discussed


Among the most disturbing political phenomena of our times is the
emergence in the newly created state of Israel of the "Freedom Party"
(Tnuat Haherut), a political party closely akin in its organization,
methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist
parties. It was formed out of the membership and following of the
former Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing, chauvinist
organization in Palestine.

The current visit of Menachem Begin, leader of this party, to the
United States is obviously calculated to give the impression of
American support for his party in the coming Israeli elections, and to
cement political ties with conservative Zionist elements in the United
States. Several Americans of national repute have lent their names to
welcome his visit. It is inconceivable that those who oppose fascism
throughout the world, if correctly informed as to Mr. Begin’s political
record and perspectives, could add their names and support to the
movement he represents.

Before irreparable damage is done by way of financial contributions,
public manifestations in Begin’s behalf, and the creation in Palestine
of the impression that a large segment of America supports Fascist
elements in Israel, the American public must be informed as to the
record and objectives of Mr. Begin and his movement.

The public avowals of Begin’s party are no guide whatever to its actual
character. Today they speak of freedom, democracy and
anti-imperialism, whereas until recently they openly preached the
doctrine of the Fascist state. It is in its actions that the terrorist
party betrays its real character; from its past actions we can judge
what it may be expected to do in the future.

Attack on Arab Village

A shocking example was their behavior in the Arab village of Deir
Yassin. This village, off the main roads and surrounded by Jewish
lands, had taken no part in the war, and had even fought off Arab bands
who wanted to use the village as their base. On April 9 (THE NEW YORK
TIMES), terrorist bands attacked this peaceful village, which was not a
military objective in the fighting, killed most of its inhabitants--240
men, women, and children--and kept a few of them alive to parade as
captives through the streets of Jerusalem. Most of the Jewish
community was horrified at the deed, and the Jewish Agency sent a
telegram of apology to King Abdullah of Trans-Jordan. But the
terrorists, far from being ashamed of their act, were proud of this
massacre, publicized it widely, and invited all the foreign
correspondents present in the country to view the heaped corpses and
the general havoc at Deir Yassin.

The Deir Yassin incident exemplifies the character and actions of the
Freedom Party.

Within the Jewish community they have preached an admixture of
ultranationalism, religious mysticism, and racial superiority. Like
other Fascist parties they have been used to break strikes, and have
themselves pressed for the destruction of free trade unions. In their
stead they have proposed corporate unions on the Italian Fascist model.

During the last years of sporadic anti-British violence, the IZL and
Stern groups inaugurated a reign of terror in the Palestine Jewish
community. Teachers were beaten up for speaking against them, adults
were shot for not letting their children join them. By gangster
methods, beatings, window-smashing, and wide-spread robberies, the
terrorists intimidated the population and exacted a heavy tribute.

The people of the Freedom Party have had no part in the constructive
achievements in Palestine. They have reclaimed no land, built no
settlements, and only detracted from the Jewish defense activity.
Their much-publicized immigration endeavors were minute, and devoted
mainly to bringing in Fascist compatriots.

Discrepancies Seen

The discrepancies between the bold claims now being made by Begin and
his party, and their record of past performance in Palestine bear the
imprint of no ordinary political party. This is the unmistakable stamp
of a Fascist party for whom terrorism (against Jews, Arabs, and British
alike), and misrepresentation are means, and a "Leader State" is the

In the light of the foregoing considerations, it is imperative that the
truth about Mr. Begin and his movement be made known in this country.
It is all the more tragic that the top leadership of American Zionism
has refused to campaign against Begin’s efforts, or even to expose to
its own constituents the dangers to Israel from support to Begin.

The undersigned therefore take this means of publicly presenting a few
salient facts concerning Begin and his party; and of urging all
concerned not to support this latest manifestation of fascism.


New York, Dec. 2, 1948
posted by j at 10:14 AM
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Tuesday, May 21, 2002. *

Steal This Modem
Nuno Andrade,  May 21, 2002

On Tuesday, April 15, 2002 at exactly 12:00 AM GMT, the Israeli government was attacked, not by Palestinian suicide bombers or Hezbollah fighters wielding rifles, but by activists armed with nothing but computers and Internet connections.

The attacks, conducted on Israeli government information systems, were organized by the Electrohippie Collective, a group of activists and computer experts intent on using the Internet to further their political agenda. In a mass e-mail sent the day of the cyber-attacks, the Collective stated, "In response to...the recent Israeli military incursions into the major settlements of the West Bank, the Electrohippie Collective is mounting an online 'electronic civil disobedience action' against the information systems of the Israeli government."

posted by Dr. Menlo at 11:00 PM
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it's our opinion that folks watch...
entirely too much television, particularly that really crummy
stomach turning type, ohhhhhhh, like, ahhhhhhhh...   nevermind,
we're SO certain you can come up with a few examples without
our assistance. ENNYWAY- new on PBS- FRONTLINE/WORLD;
a little bit of backround info avail here at this fishwrap link
posted by j at 12:56 PM
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Richard, a healthy dialectic is always welcome. I hadn't read anything on the Earth Summit prior to yesterday, so I thank you for another viewpoint. (I admit to having my cynicism momentarily lulled by such beguiling phrases as "Earth Summit" . . .) I, too, would like to offer a countering view to something posted here--in response to Post-Atomic's posting about samizdats: I think the purveyor of that opinion is either a pessimist or a propagandist for the status quo. Samizdats are just one arm/extension/tool of an education movement designed to impel one towards action, and many of these movements have seen success--in some cases quite extraordinary success as in the case of East Timor, whose celebration of statehood this past week we should all glean some rather empirical optimism from, yes? Long live Samizdats! Long live Education!
posted by Dr. Menlo at 10:57 AM
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Middle East: The Sky’s the Limit For Settlers
Nahmani, who immigrated to Israel from New Jersey in 1984 and was active for years in left-wing projects, never thought she’d live across the Green Line. But Palestinian violence had hardened her views and, at 38, she was more focused than ever on providing a home for her family. “It was a financial issue. We paid $100,000 less and we got a house that’s big enough for our family,” she says, sitting in the Maaleh Adumim home she purchased last summer.

However you do the calculation, it doesn’t add up to better peace prospects. Even Washington, Israel’s closest ally, regards the settlements as a growing problem. Just last month President George W. Bush said, “Israeli settlement activity must stop.” Yet thousands of new housing units are under construction in the West Bank, and Jewish ideologues have thrown up 40 new outposts since Ariel Sharon was elected last year. Although Sharon would rather focus on Yasir Arafat’s peace-deal breaches, Palestinians argue that settlement expansion fuels popular rage toward Israel and Israelis, hindering negotiations and making a final peace deal increasingly remote.
posted by A.Q. at 9:23 AM
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Why the Earth Summit is a G8 Feel-Good Joke Deserving of a Large Protest
This is in contra-response (more of a dialectical both/and than a rebuke) to Dr. Menlo's posting yesterday: "Why The Earth Summit Matters". The good doctor's heart is certainly in the right place but before we jump on the Earth Summit bandwagon, we should take a moment to remind ourselves of what has been accomplished since 1992 -- where Northern consumption habits and Southern population algorithims were both demonstrated to be out of control? Very, very little: in fact, in terms of ecological devestation the last decade has been far worse then those previous. Here is a longish article (with solid information) -- from an email activist network, so I must post it all and not link...apologies:

Many groups from around the world say NO to their earlier planned participation at the World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg later this year.

Feature by John Bamau
14. May 2002
(first published in WTN, reprinting and translated publishing free, if
author and source are cited)

The mainstream Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and especially those ones, who cover for the United Nations as "representing the people", gear up for the Development Summit. Some like the Global Youth Forum are even paid by the United Nations (UN) to do so and others are paid to (moderately please!) "protest". The world wonders what actually is going on, since more and more voices are heard, which call the Global Summit of this decade a non-starter.

The UN-selected groups as well as some continent-hopping professional protesters will most likely still go and sit or fight with participating governments at this summit in South Africa, but many hundreds if not already thousands of civil society organizations and individuals have terminated their plans and stepped off the road to Johannesburg. The number of resisters is growing every day. A total flop of the whole conference is immanent and after the rather failed preparation conference more likely than ever.

"Let these major forces, these players and shakers do it to each other, but for us people there are more important things to be done on the ground!" says Maria Delgado from Peru and Prof. Tsuma Hamisi in Kenya adds: "Even if I would be paid to participate, I will not go, because I do not want to be part of another scam just fooling the world - Rio was enough. In those days in Rio we still thought that concerned people of this world could make a change through such a conference with the so called "world leaders", but today we know that positive change only is brought by peoples' hard and determined work on the ground."

"Look at the deforestation issue in Kenya", he explains, "also our President was present in Rio in '92 and pledged to do everything for the benefit of the environment. Ten years later many more thousand hectares of forests have been cleared in our country and are destroyed with governmental consent. It is only now in the last months that the people were able to effectively stop the destruction by joining together and becoming active themselves, by suing the government and its accomplices in big business and by remaining steadfast. It is us, the people, who achieved just last week a court order halting the Kenyan Government's plans to excise some 70,000 hectares of forests, including forest areas which are the homeland of the aboriginal Ogiek people. We work hard to stop the Government to misuse the forest land as their chips in the upcoming election-roulette."

"Nobody will assist us anyway to travel to Jo'burg", says someone from UK, who names himself only "Bud" and who is with EarthFirst!, the more radical environmental group. "We ourselves surely will not be assisted to participate and we don't want to be supported neither by Governments or the streamlined and "fine" accredited NGOs, nor by the political mob, who is paid to just disturb the show and thereby provide for the necessary "threat" to gear up funding for the "security-forces". EarthFirst! is independent and we have a clear view and a clear agenda concerning the protection of the natural environment. Therefore, instead of wasting thousands of Dollars for air polluting travels by plane and for staying in one of those shaggy, but expensive places of an urban ghetto, we save our money and spirit for real, positive and pro-active work on the front lines of nature destruction. We don't want to be part of a conference for which moneys are stolen from the people in order to host an event, which only serves to cover the global deals and misdeads of the military-industrial complex and their bootlicking governments."

"We are sad", is the view of Aisha Saidi from Bangladesh, "because we worked so hard to make a significant contribution at the World Summit 2002 especially for the betterment of underprivileged women in development, but we realize now that we will not have the slightest chance to get even heard at the summit, whose agenda and time-tables have been structured in a way that any synergetic interaction of concerned citizens, groups or indigenous peoples is impossible. Everything is pre-set for a big show by the global rulers and nothing is left for the people to decide and implement. We therefore cancelled our bookings and continue working on our issues at home."

"I see much clearer now" says Sem Anvat, a local leader from West Papua. "When I was invited by an international NGO to participate together with them at that conference in South Africa, I was excited to be able to let the world know about the struggle of my people against the mining and timber industries, against the greed of the churches and against a colonial government. But then I learned which role I was supposed to play to get the ticket - and now I say: "Sorry, but that is nothing for me, because I do not want to lie to myself and others! I will stay where I am and continue our true and honest fight without being influenced and pacified by such meaningless favours."

"Such summits are the top of today's pseudo-democracy, which can be pictured by eight hungry wolves and one sheep sitting around a fireplace while voting "democratically" what they will have for dinner!", says Kersten Kiefer with a sad smile in Germany. Dr. Kiefer, who holds a PhD in psychology and works within a virtual university programme together with scholars and students in developing countries, continues: "The safeguarding of interests prior to and within such processes and the total majority of the taker-societies - together with their stirrup holders in the so called third world - is always secured long before any such event happens and is paid for. I received the invitation to the summit, but I have given up since long to participate in such megalomaniac conferences, where you are invited to serve as mere props or scapegoat, while only the players in the background really have their fun." And she wonders: "Who actually knows or is aware of the "World Scientists' Warning To Humanity", issued 10 years ago, just after Rio, by the vast majority of the living laureates of the Nobel Prize in the sciences as well as by more than 1500 leading scientists from all continents? It can be found easily on the internet, it's still standing there and is still valid. But today's actual reality is already worst than then and the prospects for the future of humanity and its natural environment have become much more bleak."

"The summit will just be another public relations gimmick by and for those who continued to collect our knowledge and vision over the last thirty years since Stockholm [the first global summit] in order to produce them as their own bright ideas and to feed them back to us, while secretly putting the strategic countermeasures in place against those of our demands, which don't fit into their money oriented concepts", Claude Dechamps, an obviously frustrated board member of a community based organization in the south of France wrote in her latest newsletter." And: "The UN, who even flies now selected "slum-dwellers" from the fifferent slums of the world to Nairobi to pose at the ongoing UN Global Cities conference has lost any credibility. It's high time that the people withhold that part of their taxes, which their governments dish out to the UN for staging such shows".

In a similar way a member of the San people in Botswana - a people who just have been driven out again from their ancestral homeland of tenthousand years, which is part of the Kalahari ecosystem - expresses himself in an interview: "Here [in Botswana] we have a government, which even dares to steal our waterpumps to get rid of us, and over there in South Africa, where they actually hunted and killed us as vermin until 1920, they have now even taken our language [Khoisan] and our pictures to mark their state symbol [The new SA state seal - the Coat of Arms]. This is to cover up that they continue to harrass, to persecute and to oppress us, while they will never give back to us our lands and our freedom. Nature anyway is destroyed there - and soon will be here. Global Summit - what is it? - will it give back to us our land and our dignity?"

"Who will benefit from the summit?", asks Patricia Hutton in an e-mail from Canada and she continues: "I don't believe that anything good will come out from a conference, organized, financed and steered by a cartel of nation governments, which can not even agree to do something effectively against the manmade changes of the world climate. Mrs. Hutton, who worked over 15 years with a non-churchbased medical charity in South-America, believes: "The poor people in the suburbs of Johannesburg might get some bred crumbs from the table of dining and wining "leaders", but their own way out of poverty will remain blocked or at least unsecured and they will have to destroy their last own natural resources, because their livelihood has been destroyed and their resource base has been exploited by others." "Can the summit answer questions like this one:", she closes and asks: "What is the world community during the summit effectively going to discusss, to agree and to do in order to for example stop the Sudanese Government in Khartoum from driving ten-thousands of people from their rural homes, because the Government wants to continue to dish the land out for oil-exploitation to Canada, the US, Russia and Europe - in order to get the petro-dollars and to buy arms? As long such problems can and will not be tackled and can not be solved by such a conference, it is at its best an academic excercise, but one for which we should neither spend money nor time. Even postponing the conference is no solution!"

So far there was only one voice who claimed to be happy to participate in August. An employee of one of the financially strongest conservation organizations from the US stated: "Well, it's my job - I am paid to be present and to lobby for our tasks. We actually preserve the last wilderness areas by buying them. I am fully occupied to enlarge our successful operations. I am looking forward to meet influential likeminded people and to spent some interesting time in South Africa, where we want to invest more."

That's what it is most likely all about: The so called stakeholders from the front pages of the media want to continue to be the fat "steak-holders"!, as one cartoonist termed it. But the time seems to be near, when again the deprived "stick-holders" team up and provide some serious lessons to those who divide the earth among themselves only and to those, whose NGOs stand for: Nothing Goes On!

At the end of the last millennium the sentence "Imagine tomorrow war would be declared - but nobody would engage himself!" - used to be an epigram, sprayed among other graffiti along the Berlin Wall and elsewhere. Today: "Imagine tomorrow there is a global conference - but nobody joins it!", seems to become the slogan for the World Summit on Development 2002. Some of the "Nobodies" - such they are at least in the view of more than 6 billion people - might still meet each other in Johannesburg, but the global bandwagon has left the people behind again. What wonder that quiet many of the - presumed wiser - heads of state themselves are reluctant to confirm their participation, even after Klaus Toepfer, the UNEP boss, wrote personal letters to some, who are considered to be important - like the German Chancellor Schröder - and urged them to come.

Still UN Secretary General Kofi Annan reiterates his Mantra of WEHAB (Water and sanitation, Energy, Health, Agriculture, Biodiversity) as the five areas where solutions are long overdue to be found. But only the officials, who still pat on each others back, and those, who directly are busy to make money with the conference event, or those who got the expensive tickets for the preparation conference in Bali, an island still unfree and occupied by Indonesia and its military, continue to proclaim that the Global Summit will make the world a better place. For them maybe yes, but if for the billions of impoverished people is not only another question - it is at least already out of that specific question, which is answered daily by the natural world itself: It just disappears!

Nature and Humanity disappear with lightning speed, while "global leaders" continue to meet and meet and meet and - if at all - today only gather in extremely policed states.
posted by Richard at 9:18 AM
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SHIMONOSEKI, Japan, May 20, 2002 (ENS) - The opening shots of a fierce battle over the resumption of commercial whaling were fired today in the small whaling village of Shimonoseki at the annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission. Delegates from 46 countries will decide the future of the world's great whales that Japan sees as a resource and the anti-whaling nations view as threatened marine treasures.
For those that don't know, the government of Japan has recently initiated a large propaganda campaign called "Save Them, Eat Them" in which adults and children on the street are given free samplings of whale meat and blubber in order to taste -- yum! Then, after the threshold has been broken, information is provided that more or less proposes that eating the whales will save them because the new whaling industry will create the necessary infrastructure to begin to protect them! How backwards is this neo-liberal logic? Forget the fact that most of the largest whales (Sperm whales are a particular favorite of Japan's) have been hunted to near-extinction and forget the fact that by most moral arguments concerning what makes a being a "person" (i.e. someone with inherent rights) whales (and other large mammals) would qualify, but please explain how creating a whale-marketplace could possibly save them? Saving them to eat them is not saving them -- domesticating these peaceful giants in the name of fast-food is not saving them...its adding degredation to the murder that already exists.

For more on this issue, feel free to search my VeganBlog.
posted by Richard at 8:57 AM
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Good politics begin with learning to say please and thank you.
posted by cynthia korzekwa at 8:42 AM
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Two interesting articles in The Economist this week on the effects of changes (one with possible bad results, the other undoubtedly good for the whole world) in thinking about security since September 11. The first article deals with the effect of new measures on foreign students at American universities and, by extension, on the international nature of academic work. The second article deals with how the increasing fear of bomb-ships has finally stirred the U.S. to try and end the disgraceful flags of convenience system which allows shipping companies to register their vessels in countries such as Liberia or Panama which have no regulations of any kind regarding safety, labour practices, or, well, anything. I have, at times, lived on an international waterway and watched ships from around the world everyday. You could always spot a 'flag of convenience' ship coming from a mile away; rusted, falling apart, and with only the most rudimentary 'life boats' strapped to the side. Let's hope that the ending of FOC shipping is one change that takes place quickly and that it puts people like these bastards out of business forever.
posted by David at 8:33 AM
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The International Federation of Library Associations Internet Manifesto is an admirable document. Let's hope that it has some effect.

Unhindered access to information is essential to freedom, equality, global understanding and peace. Therefore, the IFLA asserts that:

* Intellectual freedom is the right of every individual both to hold and express opinions and to seek and receive information; it is the basis of democracy; and it is at the core of library service.
* Freedom of access to information, regardless of medium and frontiers, is a central responsibility of the library and information profession.
* The provision of unhindered access to the Internet by libraries and information services supports communities and individuals to attain freedom, prosperity and development.
* Barriers to the flow of information should be removed, especially those that promote inequality, poverty, and despair.

Proclaimed by IFLA 1 May 2002.
posted by David at 7:24 AM
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Paul Marcus... The Promised Land (1999, 2 blocks woodcut). Part of Yearning to Breathe Free - A portfolio of 12 woodcuts in an edition of 25. "...In 1992 at age 22, Rosa fled her village with its 19th century technology, where she had lived 17 years, in a feudal state, where the 20th century breaks in only with Army helicopters, guns and tanks, light bulbs and a single telephone; where adulthood is not defined as a rite of passage from one age to another but is measured by the amount of coffee beans you can pick. She grew up in a community that under normal circumstances would mean a harsh existence; add to this decades of Civil War, and the circumstances ensure human disaster." From Works by Paul Marcus at Graphic Witness.
posted by Andrew at 4:59 AM
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Monday, May 20, 2002. *
As it was with samizdat, most people in authoritarian regimes never get a chance to see Internet publications, and the whole enterprise, both the publishing of banned information and official attempts to stop it, is more a game for elites: elite dissident intellectuals criticize elite rulers, and they argue back and forth in a virtual space. The opponents can score a few victories in that virtual space, but meanwhile, back in reality, little changes for the people on the ground.

via Libertarian Samizdata
posted by Mike at 9:03 PM
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A daring new idea for the Vatican to consider!

A radical UK Catholic bishop is selling his mansion and giving the money to charity.

He said, "My job is not that of managing director of The Church Plc, but servant of the word of God and shepherd of the flock. We need a revolution in the church, I want to say to my people, and hopefully other people too, that the church is more than big houses, which are status symbols from another era.''

posted by Bob at 5:59 PM
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Why The Earth Summit Matters
The growing power of corporations has been accompanied by worsening inequality both within societies and between states. In 1960, it is estimated that the richest fifth of the world's population, almost all living in developed countries, were 30 times richer than the poorest fifth, almost all living in developing countries. By 1997 the top fifth were 74 times richer, and the figures are believed to have got worse since then.

Corporate power is also often associated with irresponsibility towards local populations and the wider environment - Asia Pulp and Paper rampages through the rainforests of Indonesia, using money provided by Barclays Bank; Exxon-Mobil lobbies to destroy the Kyoto agreement on climate change and Balfour Beatty planned to evict thousands of Kurds to build the destructive Ilisu Dam.

A key issue at the Earth Summit will therefore be corporate accountability.

Dr. Menlo is against crime: corporate crime and violent crime.
posted by Dr. Menlo at 1:55 PM
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I want to extend a warm welcome to all the new Harbingers on the left. Thanks for participating!

(All the Harbingers will be thanked by name in my next update of my primary blog--tho not so primary lately, I know. Coming tonite: it's not about me: extended mix)

posted by Dr. Menlo at 1:47 PM
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Last nite I saw Alexander Cockburn give a talk here at the Labor Temple in Seattle. Among a wide range of topics, he stressed the theme of "Creative Liberty." Unlike Molly Ivins, Mr. Cockburn believes that Dubya is dumb. One (of many) things I learned: Alexander Cockburn is related to Laura Flanders. To a person during the questioning session at the end the audience proved themselves to be quite bright. One disputed Cockburn's comparison of Ariel Sharon as a war criminal to Milosevic as a war criminal--the implication being Milosevic wasn't as bad as Sharon. One asked, considering that Israel has never stopped building "settlements," did Israel really ever plan to participate in the "land for peace" deal? Cockburn: absolutely not. Another asked if withholding the massive Israeli subsidies was at all possible via the Democratic Party. Cockburn: absolutely not. We raced to get to the temple by 7 . . . we were a little late and when we were finally seated about five minutes after seven we were forced to sit through several folk singers. I thought something similar the night before N30 back in '99 when I went to see Michael Moore speak at the Seattle Center (along with Jello Biafra, Anita Roddick, and many more), and was also confronted with folk singers: why do they assume that just because you are here to hear a progressive speaker that you also like folk music? I would rather they begin the nite with a tape of Roni Size . . .
posted by Dr. Menlo at 11:56 AM
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Palestinian Demonstration Attracts 50,000 in London
A participant in the demonstration stated, "Many Orthodox anti-Zionist Jews were present, and they were given the pride of place on the platform at Trafalgar Square, some even carried Palestinian flags! It was the highlight of the day."
posted by A.Q. at 10:17 AM
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Sunday, May 19, 2002. *
anther addition to our list of books to read...
but first, be sure to check in at the Daily Bleed.
okay, now that's out of the way,
discovered this review of The Power Elite from the L.A. Times;
here a transcript of interview, Kevin Phillips & Bill Moyers;
a Morning Edition segment w/K. Phillips;
& when at this page, see the Friday May 17th listings for show w/K. Phillips;
also want to include my personal thanks to the good doctor for providing the link to
International Dark-Sky Association
posted by j at 12:15 PM
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I know this is almost a month old but I didn't see it 'till today.

The Country The World Forgot - Again

By Kevin Myers
The Sunday Telegraph
(Filed: 21/04/2002)

UNTIL the deaths last week of four Canadian soldiers accidentally killed by a US warplane in Afghanistan, probably almost no one outside their home country had been aware that Canadian troops were deployed in the region. And as always, Canada will now bury its dead, just as the rest of the world as always will forget its sacrifice, just as it always forgets nearly everything Canada ever does.

It seems that Canada's historic mission is to come to the selfless aid both of its friends and of complete strangers, and then, once the crisis is over, to be well and truly ignored. Canada is the perpetual wallflower that stands on the edge of the hall, waiting for someone to come and ask her for a dance. A fire breaks out, she risks life and limb to rescue her fellow dance-goers, and suffers serious injuries. But when the hall is repaired and the dancing resumes, there is Canada, the wallflower still, while those she once helped glamorously cavort across the floor, blithely neglecting her yet again.

That is the price which Canada pays for sharing the North American Continent with the US, and for being a selfless friend of Britain in two global conflicts. For much of the 20th century, Canada was torn in two different directions: it seemed to be a part of the old world, yet had an address in the new one, and that divided identity ensured that it never fully got the gratitude it deserved.

Yet its purely voluntary contribution to the cause of freedom in two world wars was perhaps the greatest of any democracy. Almost 10 per cent of Canada's entire population of seven million people served in the armed forces during the First World War, and nearly 60,000 died. The great Allied victories of 1918 were spearheaded by Canadian troops, perhaps the most capable soldiers in the entire British order of battle.

Canada was repaid for its enormous sacrifice by downright neglect, its unique contribution to victory being absorbed into the popular memory as somehow or other the work of the "British". The Second World War provided a re-run. The Canadian navy began the war with a half dozen vessels, and ended up policing nearly half of the Atlantic against U-boat attack. More than 120 Canadian warships participated in the Normandy landings, during which 15,000 Canadian soldiers went ashore on D-Day alone. Canada finished the war with the third largest navy and the fourth largest air force in the world.

The world thanked Canada with the same sublime indifference as it had the previous time. Canadian participation in the war was acknowledged in film only if it was necessary to give an American actor a part in a campaign which the US had clearly not participated - a touching scrupulousness which, of course, Hollywood has since abandoned, as it has any notion of a separate Canadian identity.

So it is a general rule that actors and film-makers arriving in Hollywood keep their nationality - unless, that is, they are Canadian. Thus Mary Pickford, Walter Huston, Donald Sutherland, Michael J Fox, William Shatner, Norman Jewison, David Cronenberg and Dan Aykroyd have in the popular perception become American, and Christopher Plummer British. It is as if in the very act of becoming famous, a Canadian ceases to be Canadian, unless she is Margaret Atwood, who is as unshakeably Canadian as a moose, or Celine Dion, for whom Canada has proved quite unable to find any takers.

Moreover, Canada is every bit as querulously alert to the achievements of its sons and daughters as the rest of the world is completely unaware of them. The Canadians proudly say of themselves - and are unheard by anyone else - that 1 per cent of the world's population has provided 10 per cent of the world's peace-keeping forces. Canadian soldiers in the past half century have been the greatest peace-keepers on earth - in 39 missions on UN mandates, and six on non-UN peace-keeping duties, from Vietnam to East Timor, from Sinai to Bosnia.

Yet the only foreign engagement which has entered the popular non-Canadian imagination was the sorry affair in Somalia, in which out-of-control paratroopers murdered two Somali infiltrators. Their regiment was then disbanded in disgrace - a uniquely Canadian act of self-abasement for which, naturally, the Canadians received no international credit.

So who today in the US knows about the stoic and selfless friendship its northern neighbour has given it in Afghanistan? Rather like Cyrano de Bergerac, Canada repeatedly does honourable things for honourable motives, but instead of being thanked for it, it remains something of a figure of fun. It is the Canadian way, for which Canadians should be proud, yet such honour comes at a high cost.

This weekend four shrouds, red with blood and maple leaf, head homewards; and four more grieving Canadian families know that cost all too tragically well.
posted by David at 7:05 AM
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Further to Dr. Menlo's post below, the image above demonstrates just why there is such an urgent need for the International Dark Sky Association. They say there are people on the East coast who have never seen Orion, or even the Big Dipper. Ah, but what's that little pink arrow pointing at you're wondering? Well that's Manitoulin Island (which a number of people are working very hard to have designated as a Dark Sky preserve) home to The Great Manitou Star Party. The starparty is six days of camping, learning, incredible scenery, astronomical fun, and very, very dark skies in mid-August. If you can make it you won't regret it (and don't worry if you don't have a telescope there are hundreds of people there who like nothing better than to let you look through theirs) . Hope to see you there.

posted by David at 4:37 AM
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And the new leader: Arafat

On the other side, Sharon floated the test of reforms as the threshold condition for entering into a diplomatic process. The expression "reforms" has, as usual, a double meaning. For Israeli ears, there is only one reform. It makes no difference to Israel who the members of the Palestinian parliament will be, who the mayors are, whether the status of women will be recognized or whether Palestinian child labor is prohibited. After all, Israel is not interested in democracy for democracy's sake, but rather in "reform" that will depose Arafat and remove him from the public discourse.

American ears hear "reform" differently. They were quick to praise Arafat's speech, his condemnation of terror and decision to implement reforms in the American sense - those aimed at building a more soundly functioning Palestinian government, unified security forces, and transparent economy deserving of foreign assistance in advance of establishing a Palestinian state, which has become a firm stance in American policy. But reality in Palestine has its own voice, and it is unlike the voice of either Sharon or the American administration.[more]


Israel forces internal movement permits on Palestinians

The Israeli army has been tightening its grip on movement of Palestinians in cities and towns in the West Bank by insisting that they obtain new freedom-of-movement permits from the regional administration to travel from one city to another.(...)

According to a source from a donor country, the result has been to effectively cut the territory into cantons. Under the new system, goods can be transported within the territories only using a "back-to-back system" in which a truck goes to a certain location where goods are unloaded to another awaiting truck, which then carries the merchandise further.[more]


The real disaster is the closure

1. The ongoing damage to the Palestinian economy from the sieges and closures is much more than the physical damage created by the military operations, including Operation Defensive Shield. In the first 15 months of the intifada, from October 2000 to December 2001, the physical damage to infrastructure and Palestinian institutions was an estimated $503 million. Last week, an estimate of $360 million was published, referring to the physical damage resulting from the military actions in March and April this year. But in the first 15 months of the intifada, at least $2.4 billion in damage was done to the economy, in terms of lost gross national revenues because of the mounting restrictions on freedom of movement imposed by Israel on the Palestinians in, and out, of the territories. Roberts, who is British, and usually careful with his words, calls the closure policies "the silent destruction."[more]


Analysis / A process advancing in diplomatic treacle

The Likud central committee meeting last week demonstrated that the domestic political system and regional diplomatic contacts are now interlinked and can no longer be separated. The result - the slow pace of movement toward a settlement between Israel and the Palestinians will become even slower.[more]
posted by Gordon at 1:34 AM
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Saturday, May 18, 2002. *

"The sky is the ultimate art gallery just above us."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

International Dark Sky Association

posted by Dr. Menlo at 11:14 PM
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Terrorist's Use of Planes as Missiles Predicted by Library of Congress Analyst

A September 1999 report, FRD--THE SOCIOLOGY AND PSYCHOLOGY OF TERRORISM written for the National Intelligence Council ( by Library of Congress' Federal Research Division (FRD) analyst Rex A. Hudson, predicted that "suicide bomber(s) belonging to al-Qaida's Martyrdom Battalion could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives (C-4 and semtex) into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), or the White House," and pointed out that "Ramzi Yousef had planned to do this against the CIA headquarters."

While only two sentences in a 100+ page graylit report trying to second guess terrorist's methods, it sharply contradicted National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice's statement Thursday that, "I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon, that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile."

posted by David at 1:43 PM
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