Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Water War

Many of you have seen the video of the American soldiers driving away from a group of poor Iraqi kids wagging a plastic bottle of water at them.

This becomes metaphoric when you know the history. For one thing, water is scarce in the middle east, so it's a big issue, and so there's great demand for it. When there's demand, there's money to be made.

All over the third world, particularly in dry regions, multinationals like Bechtel are trying to privatize water and sell it back to poor people, pricing it based on market demand. In Cochabamba, Bolivia in 2000 - the elitist government handed control of water over to Bechtel and then passed laws stating the people had to buy all water back from Bechtel - it was literally against the law to even collect rainwater in buckets.

I'll just put the link to the article because this is not relevant to Iraq

Now in Bolivia they have a president Evo Morales who was democratically elected, but of course he's being called a communist because he's not just handing public resources like water over to the rich, which is supposed to be the function of government - to be a reverse Robin Hood.

With Iraq, US-backed (under Clinton) UN sanctions, which tightened the grip of Saddam's power by weakening the population, left the water system completely devastated in an already arid dictatorship, and millions of children died throughout Clinton's presidency from easily curable diseases like diarrhea.

Here's what then Sec. Madeline Albright said about that:

Then with the 2003 US attack, the water treatment plants were bombed, along with water supply lines, and hospitals and the usual civilian infrastructure targets, and Bechtel was subsequently handed $680 million in our tax money to rebuild the plants and water lines.

For more on the global water issue, see Vandana Shiva's book Water Wars: Privitization, Pollution and Profit

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The elite press, then and now

Nearly all the newspaper accounts published at the time were manufactured by journalists at a distance, and were not only inaccurate in their facts but intentionally misleading. As usual, only one side of the question has been allowed to get to the wider public.

-George Orwell in his account of the Spanish Civil War, Homage to Catalonia

Friday, November 17, 2006

Fuck the Police 2006

I really don't think I can understand those in support of authoritarians who will inevitably say things like "Well, he should have had is ID."

The level of anger when I see cops taze someone who is held down gives me an adrenaline rush. I honestly have a biological reaction that I've always had in reacting to unjustified authority and abuse. I guess some people get that kind of rush when kids don't show their IDs or when a cancer patient possesses marijuana or when somebody crosses the street under a "Don't Walk" sign. And I guess that's why they become cops.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Iraq Vet Thanks Rumsfeld for his Service

This is from today's edition of the UNC student newspaper, the Daily Tar Heel, written by a former US Army Captain and Iraq War veteran.

Finally, and on a more personal note, I would like to thank Mr. Rumsfeld for affording me the opportunity to see how much blood it takes to cover completely the back of an unarmored HMMWV.

When that Rocket Propelled Grenade hit the side of the vehicle, it didn't explode, it simply passed straight through the "plywood armor" we attached and severed the leg of one of our soldiers.

Had there been even the slightest amount of armor, the RPG would have harmlessly shattered on the side of the vehicle.

Thanks to Mr. Rumsfeld, that didn't happen, and I was lucky enough to witness the event. Of course, the man who fired that RPG was a Shiite Muslim of the Mahdi Militia, the very people we set about to free from the tyrannical rule of Saddam Hussein.

Then again, I suspect he was just greeting us as liberators.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Fisk speaks on media & the middle east

Here's a good talk that you can watch on video from MIT given by Noam Chomsky and the Mid East expert Robert Fisk. I'm going to try to check out his latest book on the "Conquest of the Middle East" if I can catch it at the library. He's been in Lebanon for years and spoke eloquently on Democracy Now in the midst of the Israeli government terrorist bombings.

In this speech he talks about media: "I sometimes think the LA Times and the New York Times should be called 'American Officials Say,' and we can cut out the journalists."

Journalist Robert Fisk of the UK-based publication, The Independent, recounts his experiences traveling around the world and living in the Middle East, Fisk speaks on history and geopolitics in the Middle East. His focus is on the problems with journalism in the United States, which include an over-reliance on what government authorities say and the common mode of reporting 'from Baghdad' but entirely within the confines of a hotel room. Using newspaper articles and speeches from politicians, Fisk illustrates the lack of concern for Iraqis as human beings. Fisk's talk also looks at the Armenian genocide, which was downplayed in Western media. After the talk, Fisk fields questions ranging from the rumors of civil war in Iraq to the situation in Lebanon.

Update: for some stupid reason they took this down.

Where do they get all those police uniforms?

Did they rob the police uniform factory?

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Gunmen wearing Iraqi police commando uniforms kidnapped up to 150 staff and visitors in a lightning raid on a government research institute in downtown Baghdad on Tuesday, the largest mass abduction since the start of the U.S. occupation.

Do you think, maybe, these ARE THE POLICE?

Shiite militias and other illegal groups are known to wear stolen or fake police and army uniforms.

It almost seems easier to join the police force, which by all accounts is lacking in officers, then use the power of that uniform and all that new ammo and shit they give you to carry out your real mission.

Monday, November 13, 2006

alternative news sources

Ironically, you can turn to the foreign press to find out what's going on in this country, but here are a few serious, infotainment-free domestic news sources I read regularly.
Counter Spin

Sunday, November 12, 2006

same as the old boss

"Impeachment is off the table." - new Republicrat speaker of the house Nancy Pelosi

Harry Reid on Face the Nation 5 minutes ago:

- refused to say he'd tax the rich
- pro domestic wire tapping on American citizens
- on withdrawing troops: "of course not"
- wants to spend $75 billion on "revitilizing the military"

And now the "right wing" guy is on with Bob Schiffer, on that left wing news source, which always gives "both sides".

Representative democracy doesn't work kids. The Republicans want bush to end the war... or blame Democrats for whatever happens - we'll see. I think we're getting out soon because sometimes, as with this election, the elites and the pundits - the people on Sunday morning talk shows - are forced to deal with public opinion. Though obviously they hate it with every goddamn word they say.

We, on the other hand, that have nothing to do with the Republicrats, should start taking great steps toward revolution right now. Get your head out of NFL and junk food, idiots, unless you want a boot on your neck in the next decade. It's real fucking cute when people say they don't vote because there's no difference, because we're controlled by elites, because I'm hunkering down for Armagheddon, but what the fuck are you doing to change shit? Nothing, you're just getting fucked up and trying to entertain yourself with whatever goddamn pop culture and sub culture turd that comes along on the internet.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

More IDF terrorism

I don't think anyone takes these kinds of quotes seriously anymore:

The military said the results of its inquiry concluded that "the Palestinian civilian casualties were caused by IDF (Israeli army) artillery." The military statement said the inquiry determined the problem was a "technical failure" in the system that directs the fire. It said the army commander ordered a halt to artillery fire at Gaza until a further check is completed.

The Defense Ministry said in a statement that Defense Minister Amir Peretz ordered the military to "re-evaluate its policy of artillery fire in Gaza, including the safety range."

I don't know how this can happen over and over again with people still saying with a straight face that it was "inadvertent".

Who knows? Maybe the Democrats believe this crap. We'll see in January. Will they pass another resolution cheering this terrorism?

panem et circenses is neutral (cont)

Why so serious all the time?
Why not laugh in panem et circenses?
Not everyone in the world gets panem et circenses, you know.
Our forefathers fought & died for panem et circenses.
The terrorists hate panem et circenses.
If we give up our right to panem et circenses, the terrorists will have won.
The soldiers are fighting for your panem et circenses.
The soldiers are fighting and dying for your panem et circenses.
Support the troops, these colors don't panem et circenses.
God gave you panem et circenses.
Why do you hate panem et circenses?


I talked politics with you.
I'm not even very political and stuff,
but we should all be in favor of panem et circenses.
Now back to panem et circenses.

First Socialist Senator of the 21st Century

Senator-Elect Bernie Sanders of Vermont ran as an independent, but describes himself as a socialist.

I notice the Democrat media outlets don't give a shit about this, like the Democrat blogs, and NPR, etc.

I'm not exactly in favor of anything that promotes hierarchy or centralized power, and socialism has certainly been used to do that - you'd have to add "libertarian" in the classical sense to any socialism I'd support - but I'd feel better living under a government where the Democrats represented the right wing, and democratic Socialists the left. Our government, even with the Democratic sweep, even if a democrat wins in 2008 and Democrats retain control of Congress, is still far to the right, and I'd vote for any socialist candidate if given the chance.

Lets see what this terrible dangerous socialist has in store for America:

In terms of socialism, I think there is a lot to be learned from Scandinavia and from some of the work, very good work that people have done in Europe. In countries like Finland, Norway, Denmark, poverty has almost been eliminated. All people have healthcare as a right of citizenship. College education is available to all people, regardless of income, virtually free. I have been very aggressive in trying to move to sustainable energy. They have a lot of political participation, high voter turnouts. I think there is a lot to be learned from countries that have created more egalitarian societies than has the United States of America.

AMY GOODMAN: And if people ask, “What do you mean, ‘socialist’?” what would you say?

REP. BERNIE SANDERS: Well, I think it means the government has got to play a very important role in making sure that as a right of citizenship, all of our people have healthcare; that as a right, all of our kids, regardless of income, have quality childcare, are able to go to college without going deeply into debt; that it means we do not allow large corporations and moneyed interests to destroy our environment; that we create a government in which it is not dominated by big money interest. I mean, to me, it means democracy, frankly. That's all it means. And we are living in an increasingly undemocratic society in which decisions are made by people who have huge sums of money. And that's the goal that we have to achieve.

DOOM! I tells ya. DOOM!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

panem et circenses is neutral

It's not that panem et circenses exists. It's not even that we engage in panem et circenses. Panem et circenses is neutral. It's the addiction to panem et circenses. It's panem et circenses above all. People are born and die over panem et circenses. Panem et circenses is the Alpha and the Omega. Panem et circenses we must give our free time to, our freedom to. Here is a religion, here is totalitarian doctrine.

All I see, all I speak, all I taste, all I hear, all I smell, all I touch - panem et circenses.

Serious conversation brings nervousness - it's like living in a dictatorship with no visible dictator. Panem et circenses is the dictator. All his subjects are self-controlling and fat in body and mind with panem et circenses.

The Genius of it!

The Iraq disaster will come to a close

Rumsfeld is on his way out

"I recognize that many Americans voted last night to register their displeasure with the lack of progress being made" in Iraq, Bush said.
ugh, I feel weird about sharing this on a goddamn blog, but I actually got emotional reading that quote. While I did want to emphasize in earlier posts that voting is the least democratic thing you can do, Don't tell me this election means nothing.

Being "happy" about Rumsfeld's resignation is not in the cards for me. This war became way too personal the day my good friend was blown up by an RPG. But this looks like the beginning of the end of the quagmire in Iraq, and I have cousins over there, and I don't want to go through this crap again. And the Republicans don't want to go through another election cycle in two years with this pathetic, horrible, stupid, disgusting failure of humanity on everyone's mind. It's time to declare victory and move out. We all know telling the truth is too much for these damn people, until it blows up in their face, and even then it takes another 3 fucking years.

Basic Solutions

I try to keep it general because there are a billion different problems and a billion different situations and solutions to them. This is just political activity in general that's much more effective than voting. Generally if there is any hope for the survival of the human race, Americans, junkies of panem et circenses, can take the most basic two-fold approach:

1. Realize like pharohs, and kings, and the Church, and the State, now the central seat of power rests in a few multinational corporations, who are literally trying to subjugate the world populace for profit. The minority, the power elite, are getting more powerful, while the majority are getting less powerful. But, the majority holds up the power elite, so we can...

2. ...Create and/or support alternative economic and social institutions independent of centralized, corporate power. Decentralization, is what I'm talking about. Economic hierarchy will not sustain us, that's what we have now - but if we stop supporting it, it will crumble.

There are literally thousands of organizations all over the world you can join that are already working toward these goals. I am part of a few of these groups. One is an electricity co-op. Another is a producer-only farmers market. Also we're part of a few organizations that promote sustainable agriculture and small farms.

There is no greater victory for the power elite then hopelessness and isolation of individuals in the majority. Individuals who are resigned to their fate as someone who's going to get paid a slave wage, pay out the ass for basic healthcare and then screwed out of their retirement, and never do anything about it, are the absolute ideal figures to the power elite.

Meet the new boss...

...slightly less conservative than the old boss.

I voted, but voting for Democrats over Republicans is only a baby step toward progress, or maybe more accurately, a backward baby step away from doom. You have to remember that the Democrats are the same party who voted for authorization to use force in Iraq, for NAFTA, Plan Colombia, HR 921 supporting Israeli government terrorism in Lebanon on the same day human rights orgs reported that 1/3 of the victims were children, etc etc.

Everyone gets sanctimonious about voting, and voting out a lunatic like Rick Santorum could be labeled a Good Thing, and I think a Democratic win lessens the chances of another one of my friends or cousins getting FUCKING KILLED IN IRAQ (lessens, not removes, and not by much since far-right Bush is still commander in chief), and especially in local elections voting does impact your life - but it's the political action people do outside of voting that really counts for something, and that those in power really hate, and that involves as a first step meeting at some designated location for a designated purpose with your neighbors to improve the state of your community. With us, it's farmers' market, our local/national sustainable farming organizations, local/national/international Slow Food Movement, and local/national anti-NAIS action.

That's what all these clubs your parents or grandparents belonged to were about. They didn't just show up at the Rotary to play bingo. It was about having citizens organizations as a collective voice, and realizing that with collective action even the powerless can improve their lives. The few elite can only have power in wealth, while the poor gain power through collective action. That's the whole idea behind voting, but, when you have representative government and campaigning reliant on wealth, you can only get representatives of the power elite.

But we should remember that a centralized power apparatus should not dictate the course of the lives of people who have only marginal control over it, be it in a totalitarian, communist, or democratic or capitalist apparatus.

But, since we live in a free society that resulted from struggles for basic human rights, we are probably closer than anyone to having the opportunity to wrest power from the few. The only thing keeping us from that is the choice not to.

The only time I'll be satisfied with the US government is when we have Democrats on the right and actual leftists on the left talking about things like workplace democracy, universal healthcare, local food, decentralization and accepting US state terror for what it is.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

panem et circenses - a thought for election day in AD 2006

It was Juvenal that coined this system, a mechanism of influential power over the Roman mass. "Panem et Circensus", literally "bread and circuses", was the formula for the well-being of the population, and thus a political strategy. This formula offered a variety of pleasures such as: the distribution of food, public baths, gladiators, exotic animals, chariot races, sports competition, and theater representation. It was an efficient instrument in the hands of the Emperors to keep the population peaceful, and at the same time giving them the opportunity to voice themselves in these places of performance.

From In Juvenal's time (55-127 A.D.), the Roman Republic was but a distant memory as the power of the emperors grew stronger and stronger. The once proud Senate that had witnessed the splendid orations of Cato and Cicero—dominated and weakened year after year by the succession of dictators—atrophied into a figurehead of an institution. However, Juvenal felt that the populace took the duties of citizenship far more seriously during the days of the Republic than in the virtual dictatorships of the Caesars.

He lamented that "the people that once bestowed commands, consulships, legions, and all else, now meddle no more and longs eagerly for just two things — bread and circuses."

Those scornful words "bread and circuses," panem et circenses in Latin, become more meaningful when you understand that Roman citizens became increasingly addicted to free distributions of food and the violent gladiatorial and other contests held in the Coliseum and the chariot races of the Circus Maximus. He felt that Romans had lost the capacity to govern themselves so distracted by mindless self-gratification had they become.

Thus, bread and circuses, is a phrase now used to deplore a population so distracted with entertainment and personal pleasures (sometimes by design of those in power) that they no longer value the civic virtues...

Friday, November 03, 2006

Hacking Democracy

If you have HBO, check this out. I'll be waiting for it to appear on Google video or Youtube. No matter who wins the elections on Tuesday, we need to get on this. Write some letter to some papers, organize meetings in your town.

In 2002, Seattle grandmother and writer Bev Harris asked officials in her county why they had acquired electronic touch screen systems for their elections. Unsatisfied with their explanation, she set out to learn about electronic voting machines on her own. In the course of her research, which unearthed hundreds of reported incidents of mishandled voting information, Harris stumbled across an "online library" of the Diebold Corporation, discovering a treasure trove of information about the inner-workings of the company's voting system.

In Florida, Leon County supervisor of elections Ion Sancho presided over a trial "mini-election" to see if the vote could be hacked without being detected. Before votes were actually cast, computer analyst Harri Hursti "stuffed the ballot box" by entering votes on the computer's memory card. Then, after votes were cast, the results displayed when the same memory card was entered in the central tabulating program indicated that fraud was indeed possible. In other words, by accessing a memory card before an election, someone could change the results - a claim Diebold had denied was possible.