30 September 2006

Spotted in Helsinki

[+/-]

Has There Been a Coup d'État in Iraq?

The following post appeared on Zappy's blog this morning. I thought it was worth passing along. The specific post is here, where you can also read additional comments from Iraqis "on the ground."

Well rumors go like wildfires in Iraq, especially when the prime minister declares a sudden curfew in his capital, I mean what other cause could it be?

Yesterday at approximately 11:00 P.M. the Secretary of the Iraqi Prime minister announced that Baghdad would be under lockdown from the night of Friday (yesterday) to 6:00 A.M. Sunday, this announcement was not explained, the “Al Alam” Satellite News Channel (Iranian) called the deputy minister of interior at 1:00 A.M. this Morning live on T.V. and when asked about the Curfew he answered “Duh? What Curfew?”

Now what should a simple average citizen think is going on?

Rumor has it that there was a Coup d'é·tat last night.

In other “undeclared” news last night their was heavy fighting after the “Seligh” neighborhood” was rained with Mortars by an “unknown” source, the U.S. Apache helicopters filled the skies with flares and not a single news agency announced this.

And to make things worse subtitles on different News agencies said that “A Major player in the Iraqi Parliament had his house checked and found was a car bomb factory”.

What’s going on? What’s true and what’s false?

Are we in a “Wilayat Bateekh”?"

[+/-]

The Real Story of the Past Five Years

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29 September 2006

They're Back - M. Rudd

From: Mark Rudd mark@...
Date: Fri, 29 Sep 2006 16:18:52 -0600
Subject: They're back, and ready to ORGANIZE!!!

Dear Friends: Perhaps you've heard that Students for a Democratic Society, or SDS, a defunct sixties rock group, has been resurrected from the grave. It's true!

Myself, I've kept my distance up to now, thinking that they don't need any stupid old people hanging around to screw things up, like we did forty years ago.

But I have been watching the growth of this new SDS, with more than 130 chapters on college and high school campuses. You can check out what they've been up to at this link. Last May I had the pleasure of meeting two young organizers from Tacoma SDS. They've been doing some great work organizing against the war in the Olympia/Tacoma area, which you can read about on the above website.

Last month I was recruited by a zealous grey-haired organizer, Bruce Rubenstein of Hartford, Conn, (or maybe he has no hair, I've never met him in person), to join the SDS old people's auxiliary, Movement for a Democratic Society (MDS). The original MDS was founded around 1967 to provide an organizational framework for post-campus organizers. This one is intended to help the young SDS organizers with bail, fund-raising, advice (only if asked), logistical support, and who knows what else. The president of MDS is our old founder, Al Haber, one of the authors of the Port Huron Statement. Check out MDS at this link.

Somehow, I was immediately put on MDS' board upon joining. When I looked on the website to try to figure out what the duties of board members are, I found my name alongside those of other several old comrades, among others: Tom Hayden, Carl Davidson, Bernardine Dohrn, Charlene Mitchell, Michael Rossman, Michael James, HOWARD ZINN and NOAM CHOMSKY!!!! Now I know what it feels like to be on the same board with both God and Jesus Christ.

A lot of the start-up SDS support work in the last year has been done by Paul Buhle, at Brown, and Tom Good, of New York City. Tom edits a website called Next Left Notes, which you might want to check out at this link. He has a bunch of great stuff there, plus links to everything under the sun. Check out especially Paul Buhle's reports and essays.

My deepest hope is that the new SDS flourishes and helps build the broadest possible anti-war movement and even a new radical movement to challenge the violent fascist clique now in power in Washington.

One requisite is that they and we avoid the stupid ideological infighting, sectarianism, name-calling, and "correct lineism" that killed the old SDS. (For my mea culpas, check out my website at this link.) Unfortunately there's already been an outbreak of this garbage, involving three old comrades, Tom Good, Jesse Lemisch, and Maurice Isserman, all good people; in response young organizers will probably just change the channel, but old people like me will certainly be repulsed and withdraw because we have better things to do with the little time left us on this mortal coil.

Let's hope this is the last instance of the poison which is guaranteed to kill us off. Or are we incapable of learning from our mistakes?

*Anyway, the purpose of this long message, please forgive me, is to ask you to investigate joining SDS (if you're a student or young person) and MDS (if you're a veteran or off-campus).* We need help getting these organizations going. The intergenerational aspect of the work can be a plus, especially if the old people don't act as a heavy hand on the young.

Speaking of which, anyone interested in helping me organize a Buddhist style self-immolation brigade? We could create instant martyrs, plus get rid of some of our more annoying old comrades at the same time.

Feel free to write me with your response at mark@...

Also, please circulate this message to your lists so that we can get the word out about SDS and MDS.

For peace, justice, and freedom, and a new and better SDS,


[+/-]

Foodie Friday - R. Jehn

De Arbol Salsa or How to Get Even with a Friend Who Gave You Something That Was Too Spicy

This is incredibly tasty, but it will sneek up on you and whack you in the back of your eyeballs !!! I know you think it should be spelled “sneak,” but not in this recipe - see for yourself what happens to your spelling after tasting it ....

To complete the story: one of Carolyn’s colleagues (Naomi, whose recipe for Shan Salad appears in this book on page 284) gave her two cans of a prepared Thai-style curry paste. I used one to cook some little leftovers (some chicken and a little salmon, plus lima beans and chicken stock), and Carolyn found it way spicy, and could not eat it - I thought it was okay, but darned mouth-biter hot !!!

One 1-quart plastic bag, stuffed with (dry) de Arbol chiles (about 5 ounces)
Juice of 2 limes
3 large shallots, husked
5 cloves of Italian garlic, husked
1 cup homemade tomato sauce (no salt, no nothing)
2 tablespoons cumin
1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon fresh minced (or ground) ginger
1 teaspoon dried mint leaves (from our garden)
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Bring 1 quart water to a boil while you stem the chiles. I tried to remove seeds, too, but it became dangerous with all the chile dust flying. I think I got about half of the seeds out. Give the chiles a quick cold water rinse to remove the dust and dirt. When the water boils, pour enough over the chiles to cover them. Soak them for a long hour.

In the meanwhile, put all the remaining ingredients into your food processor or blender and go drink a beer while you recover from the chile dust.

The tomato sauce I used , homemade back in April of 2002, was supposed to be tomato paste, but it didn’t want to go there, even though the Roma tomatoes were beautiful. By writing this, I mean the sauce I used consisted of Roma tomatoes, period.

When the chiles are softened, use a slotted spoon to get them into the food processor, cover it, and see if the blade will turn. If it will not, add a little chile soaking water and try again. Mash everything for about 40 to 50 seconds, then pour it into a pot and bring it to a very slow simmer, covered. Watch out, as the salsa is like lava.

Oh, yeh - give it a taste, using a tortilla chip and see what happens to your sinuses, your eyes, and your spelling ...

[+/-]

27 September 2006

Ka-Pow - C. Loving

Charlie named this piece "Vision." Indeed ....

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Just a Comma .....

Did you know that "when the final history is written on Iraq, it will look like just a comma because there is ... a strong will for democracy"? The utter hypocrisy and sadism of the man in the White House is disgusting.

Read more here.

Someone else we know has expanded on this business a little, and perhaps there's merit in what he says. If you're interested, look here. Thanks to Nick Hopkins for the tip about the latter link.

Richard Jehn

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His Girlfriend Dropped In, Too - R. Jehn

It's Wildlife Wednesday, and I thought you might like to see his girlfriend. You know, the fellow who dropped in last week, that migratory parrot. His girlfriend is a little less showy, but still a beautiful creature in her own right. And she's a very cautious and curious creature, too, keeping an eye out for their safety as they have a little snack at the feeder. That's him on the left, with his back turned to us. As previously reported, they are evening grosbeaks.

[+/-]

26 September 2006

Afghanistan - C.Loving

British military in crisis as NATO mission in Afghanistan unravels
By Harvey Thompson
26 September 2006

Faced with a burgeoning insurgency and the deteriorating authority of the central government of Hamid Karzai, the NATO command has signalled its determination to sacrifice more Afghan civilians and its own soldiers in a desperate bid to wrest control of the country.

Fierce resistance to the occupation, resulting in heavy losses for both insurgent fighters and foreign troops, has forced commentators close to the British military to dispense with the pretence of a “peace-keeping” mission and describe the situation as “all out war.”

Forty British soldiers have now been killed in the war in Afghanistan, of which 35 have died in the past six months. An additional 211 have been injured, many seriously.

An unnamed military observer told the BBC: “We’re fighting a war in southern Afghanistan. This is not an enhanced peace support operation.”

Other military sources have said that British forces have not faced such a severe challenge since the Second World War. Major Charles Heyman, editor of Armed Forces of the UK, said, “It’s worth remembering what Field Marshal Slim said during the Second World War: ‘The more you use, the less you lose.’ And he was talking about soldiers on the ground. So, an option to consider is to reinforce the troops immediately with at least three battalions of around 2,000 fighting soldiers... If they can’t get more troops, the British may have to maintain security in a smaller area than they are currently operating in.”

On September 3, the Sunday Telegraph published details of the changes made to the military’s rules of engagement (ROE).

“Under the new rules, commanders now have the legal authority to launch air strikes against suspected Taliban strongholds, conduct ambushes and order pre-emptive attacks against insurgents’ camps.”

The newspaper revealed that British commanders had now been given official clearance to use the army’s controversial Hydra rockets, which are developed to kill large concentrations of people with tungsten darts. It commented that “the disclosure marks a major escalation in hostilities in the war-torn country and directly contradicts claims made by the government that the Army was only in Afghanistan to provide the security conditions needed to allow reconstruction and self-governance to take place.”

Read the full article here.

And there's this:

24 September 2006
EXCLUSIVE Army officer quits in disgust over Afghan shambles & reveals: Our troops are called The Borrowers because they have to cadge ammo The heat is so intense that guns are melting British food is being stolen by Taliban looters
By Nick Owens

... The officer - a member of 16 Air Assault Brigade - has now turned whistle-blower to give a shocking account of how shortages have hit troops on the frontline.

He reveals how British soldiers were reduced to borrowing ammunition from Canadian forces also serving in the lawless Helmand province.

He says guns are melting in intense 50C heat, leaving soldiers unable to use them to defend themselves. Lives are being put at risk, he claims, because vital communication kits are being rationed. He also tells how Taliban fighters steal soldiers' food supplies because there aren't enough British troops to guard them.

The officer says he decided to speak out after they were told by Tony Blair in June: "This mission is a reconstruction mission - supported by the military." The officer said: "I couldn't believe what I was hearing. It is not a reconstruction exercise in Afghanistan. Every day lives are put at risk on the frontline. But we haven't got the proper equipment.

"Hearing that message was a kick in the guts for me and the rest of the boys. The truth is not being told and there is anger on the frontline about the lack of supplies." ...

To read the complete article, click here.

[+/-]

All About Texas Politics - C. Loving

At least, I hope these are all about politics in Texas. Somethin' 'bout a governor's race, I think ... I live in Washington state, so you folks can decide what these are about. Thanks, Charlie. Richard Jehn

[+/-]

Rebels with a Cause - Reminder

Monkeywrench Books will show Rebels With a Cause tomorrow at 8:00 at 110 E. North Loop. Some of you SDSers try to come and participate in the discussion afterwards with the current generation of activists. OK?

Wednesday, September 27th, 8pm, MonkeyWrench Books, 110 E. North Loop

MonkeyWrench Books presents a screening and discussion of "Rebels with a Cause." Rebels with a Cause is a 2000 documentary that chronicles the movements for social change of the Sixties that began with the civil rights movement and culminated with the angry protests against the US war in Vietnam. Students for a Democratic Society, the largest and most influential student organization of the '60s, was a uniquely American movement that grew and evolved in response to the times. At tis peak in 1968, SDS had over 100,000 members and 400 chapters. Told through the eyes of SDS members, the film is about far more than SDS. It's about the values, motivations, and actions of a generation that lost it's innocence but gained a sense of power and purpose. It's about a decade that changed America.

[+/-]

Toonie Tuesday - C. Loving

I'm running late, so I'll post more tonight. Thank you, Charlie.

[+/-]

25 September 2006

Robert Newman's History of Oil

If you haven't seen this gem, it is indeed that. Couldn't resist giving ya'll a double feature today. Make a huge bowl of popcorn, get together other snacks such as bananas or jalapeño poppers, and a mango smoothie or large glass of cranberry juice to drink. Relax and enjoy, and get ready to laugh a lot, even as you acknowledge that this guy is talking about some incredibly serious shit. R. Jehn

Robert Newman gets to grips with the wars and politics of the last hundred years - but rather than adhering to the history we were fed at school, he places oil centre stage as the cause of all the commotion. This innovative history programme is based around Robert Newman's stand-up act and supported by resourceful archive sequences and stills with satirical impersonations of historical figures from Mayan priests to Archduke Ferdinand. Quirky details such as a bicycle powered street lamp on the stage bring home the pertinent question of just how we are going to survive when the world's oil supplies are finally exhausted.

A very big word of warning: this video is 45 minutes in length, and consequently is a huge download (157 mB). For dial-up users, you may wish to forgo watching in this venue.

[+/-]

Take the Power Back

It's Monday Movie time, and this is a punchy one. I'd recommend garnishing your popcorn with finely minced garlic (or cheat, if you must, with garlic powder), chipotle powder and very finely grated parmegiano reggiano cheese. Yummmm ....

Here's what the author of this flick, 'Steven Stealberg,' has to say about his effort:

One man's opinion of America and the Bush regime.

Ken Mehlman as the douche bag;
Ahmed Chalabi as the puppet;
Bill Janklow as the murderer;
Ken Lay as the thief;
Rudi Giuliani and Galen Fox as the perverts;
Steven Rosen as the spy;
Dennis Kozlowski as the con man;
Walden Odell CEO of Diebold as the vote defrauder;
Dana Rohrabacher as the tax cheat;
Bernie Ebbers as the crook;
Bob Novak as the asshat;
Richard Perle as the Mossad agent;
Jim West as the bigot; and
Ralph Reed as the Zealot.

Reverend Sun Myung Moon is the one in the crown being ordained in the US Senate building as humanity's savior, messiah, returning lord and true parent. WTF?

The convicted include Keith Weissman, Duke Cunningham, Jim Tobin, Governor Bob Taft, Governor George Ryan, Governor John Rowland, Michael Scanlon, David Safavian, John Rigas, Tom Noe, Timothy McViegh, Larry Novak, Scooter Libby, Bill Janklow, Larry Franklin, Bernie Ebbers, Jack Abramoff, Charles Grainer, Sabrina Harman, Linndie England.

The old black woman is Harriet Tubman.

The three mug shots that follow her are members of the weather underground: Bill Ayers, Mark Rudd, Bernardine Dohrn.

Hero's include: Rosa Parks, Colleen Rowley, Daniel Ellsberg, John F. Kennedy, Jack Murtha, Scott Ritter, Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson.

Closing sequence: Sioux Indians perform a 'buffalo dance' in 1894 for a Thomas Edison production. This clip carries a symbolic irony as it constitutes the American Indian's first appearance before a motion picture camera, and the beginning of the demise for both the American Indian and the buffalo.

S. Stealberg

And now on with the show, New World Lies.

[+/-]

24 September 2006

Ted Turner Ain't No Fool

Ted Turner, appearing before journalists in the New York City Reuters offices a few days ago, advocated men being barred from public office for a hundred years in every part of the world.

"If we had women holding all the public offices, the amount of money on the military would be immediately cut way back and more would be spent on healthcare and education. There wouldn't be lack of family planning or birth control if the women ran things."

If you want to read more, click here and here.

[+/-]

The Emperor's New Clothes - J. Muir

I’ve been thinking about the kid who queered the emperor’s deal and decided to renew my acquaintance with the Hans Christian Andersen fable, originally published in 1837. I got this version off the internet (copyright 1999, D. L. Ashliman, who also did this translation). Ashliman and others say that Andersen relied on a Spanish story recorded by Don Juan Manuel (1282-1348). It isn’t hard to cast this drama with present-day characters. Except for the kid.

John Muir

The Emperor's New Clothes

Many years ago there lived an emperor who loved beautiful new clothes so much that he spent all his money on being finely dressed. His only interest was in going to the theater or in riding about in his carriage where he could show off his new clothes. He had a different costume for every hour of the day. Indeed, where it was said of other kings that they were at court, it could only be said of him that he was in his dressing room!

One day two swindlers came to the emperor's city. They said that they were weavers, claiming that they knew how to make the finest cloth imaginable. Not only were the colors and the patterns extraordinarily beautiful, but in addition, this material had the amazing property that it was to be invisible to anyone who was incompetent or stupid.

"It would be wonderful to have clothes made from that cloth," thought the emperor. "Then I would know which of my men are unfit for their positions, and I'd also be able to tell clever people from stupid ones."

So he immediately gave the two swindlers a great sum of money to weave their cloth for him.

They set up their looms and pretended to go to work, although there was nothing at all on the looms. They asked for the finest silk and the purest gold, all of which they hid away, continuing to work on the empty looms, often late into the night.

"I would really like to know how they are coming with the cloth!" thought the emperor, but he was a bit uneasy when he recalled that anyone who was unfit for his position or stupid would not be able to see the material. Of course, he himself had nothing to fear, but still he decided to send someone else to see how the work was progressing.

"I'll send my honest old minister to the weavers," thought the emperor. He's the best one to see how the material is coming. He is very sensible, and no one is more worthy of his position than he.

So the good old minister went into the hall where the two swindlers sat working at their empty looms. "Goodness!" thought the old minister,opening his eyes wide. "I cannot see a thing!" But he did not say so.

The two swindlers invited him to step closer, asking him if it wasn't a beautiful design and if the colors weren't magnificent. They pointed to the empty loom, and the poor old minister opened his eyes wider and wider. He still could see nothing, for nothing was there. "Gracious" he thought. "Is it possible that I am stupid? I have never thought so. Am I unfit for my position? No one must know this. No, it will never do for me to say that I was unable to see the material."

"You aren't saying anything!" said one of the weavers.

"Oh, it is magnificent! The very best!" said the old minister, peering through his glasses. "This pattern and these colors! Yes, I'll tell the emperor that I am very satisfied with it!"

"That makes us happy!" said the two weavers, and they called the colors and the unusual pattern by name. The old minister listened closely so that he would be able to say the same things when he reported back to the emperor, and that is exactly what he did.

The swindlers now asked for more money, more silk, and more gold, all of which they hid away. Then they continued to weave away as before on the empty looms.

The emperor sent other officials as well to observe the weavers' progress. They too were startled when they saw nothing, and they too reported back to him how wonderful the material was, advising him to have it made into clothes that he could wear in a grand procession. The entire city was alive in praise of the cloth. "Magnifique! Nysseligt! Excellent!" they said, in all languages. The emperor awarded the swindlers with medals of honor, bestowing on each of them the title Lord Weaver.

The swindlers stayed up the entire night before the procession was to take place, burning more than sixteen candles. Everyone could see that they were in a great rush to finish the emperor's new clothes. They pretended to take the material from the looms. They cut in the air with large scissors. They sewed with needles but without any thread. Finally they announced, "Behold! The clothes are finished!"

The emperor came to them with his most distinguished cavaliers. The two swindlers raised their arms as though they were holding something and said, "Just look at these trousers! Here is the jacket! This is the cloak!" and so forth. "They are as light as spider webs! You might think that you didn't have a thing on, but that is the good thing about them."

"Yes," said the cavaliers, but they couldn't see a thing, for nothing was there.

"Would his imperial majesty, if it please his grace, kindly remove his clothes." said the swindlers. "Then we will fit you with the new ones, here in front of the large mirror."

The emperor took off all his clothes, and the swindlers pretended to dress him, piece by piece, with the new ones that were to be fitted.

They took hold of his waist and pretended to tie something about him. It was the train. Then the emperor turned and looked into the mirror.

"Goodness, they suit you well! What a wonderful fit!" they all said.

"What a pattern! What colors! Such luxurious clothes!"

"The canopy to be carried above your majesty awaits outside," said the grandmaster of ceremonies.

"Yes, I am ready!" said the emperor. "Don't they fit well?" He turned once again toward the mirror, because it had to appear as though he were admiring himself in all his glory.

The chamberlains who were to carry the train held their hands just above the floor as if they were picking up the train. As they walked they pretended to hold the train high, for they could not let anyone notice that they could see nothing.

The emperor walked beneath the beautiful canopy in the procession, and all the people in the street and in their windows said, "Goodness, the emperor's new clothes are incomparable! What a beautiful train on his jacket. What a perfect fit!" No one wanted it to be noticed that he could see nothing, for then it would be said that he was unfit for his position or that he was stupid. None of the emperor's clothes had ever before received such praise.

"But he doesn't have anything on!" said a small child.

"Good Lord, let us hear the voice of an innocent child!" said the father, and whispered to another what the child had said.

"A small child said that he doesn't have anything on!"

Finally everyone was saying, "He doesn't have anything on!"

The emperor shuddered, for he knew that they were right, but he thought, "The procession must go on!" He carried himself even more proudly, and the chamberlains walked along behind carrying the train that wasn't there.

[+/-]

Here's Some Real %#^*$@#%#& Rocket Science

Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terror Threat
'Islamic Radicalism ... Has Metastasized and Spread'

By MARK MAZZETTI, The New York Times

WASHINGTON (Sept. 24) — A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a more direct role to the Iraq war in fueling radicalism than that presented either in recent White House documents or in a report released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee, according to several officials in Washington involved in preparing the assessment or who have read the final document.

The intelligence estimate, completed in April, is the first formal appraisal of global terrorism by United States intelligence agencies since the Iraq war began, and represents a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government. Titled “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States,’’ it asserts that Islamic radicalism, rather than being in retreat, has metastasized and spread across the globe.

An opening section of the report, “Indicators of the Spread of the Global Jihadist Movement,” cites the Iraq war as a reason for the diffusion of jihad ideology.

The report “says that the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse,” said one American intelligence official.

More than a dozen United States government officials and outside experts were interviewed for this article, and all spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were discussing a classified intelligence document. The officials included employees of several government agencies, and both supporters and critics of the Bush administration. All of those interviewed had either seen the final version of the document or participated in the creation of earlier drafts. These officials discussed some of the document’s general conclusions but not details, which remain highly classified.

To read the full article, click here.

This is some kind of joke, right? rdj

[+/-]

Peninsula Peace Action Nets Arrests

Liz Rivera Goldstein of Port Townsend, Washington, chief organizer of Saturday's Peace and Justice Festival in Chimacum, is arrested at Naval Magazine Indian Island. (Photo by Jeff Chew/Peninsula Daily News)

Police arrest 35 at Indian Island war protest
2006-09-24 by JEFF CHEW

INDIAN ISLAND -- Thirty-five war protesters were arrested Saturday afternoon after 22 Jefferson County deputies greeted them at the gates to Naval Magazine Indian Island.

"I thought it was really lovely," said Liz Rivera Goldstein.

She and her husband Dan were among those arrested -- many of them smiling -- and taken away in two Jefferson Transit buses to the Jefferson County jail in Port Hadlock.

All were to be charged with disorderly conduct said Jefferson County Undersheriff Tim Perry.

They were to be cited there, and then released Saturday night, he said.

To read the full article, click here.

[+/-]

Now THESE GUYS Are Singin' on Sunday

It isn't often that one finds Palestinian hip-hop, so I thought we should have a special treat to celebrate, namely a double post for the day. And these guys are singin' 'bout stuff we can get behind.

Cool, eh?

[+/-]

Heeeerrrrrre's Uncle Lucius

These fellas surfaced when I was looking for something else entirely one day. It's a good thing, too, since I didn't have anyone lined up for Singin' on Sunday. I guess I'm going to call this public domain (or at least that's what I'll pretend). If they put it up on YouTube, it becomes fair game and free advertising. They're pretty good, but then they're from Austin. What do you expect, eh?

Here's their Web site if you want to learn more about them - Uncle Lucius.

[+/-]

23 September 2006

A Snappy Saturday Snapshot

Of course, we know the female of this bunch was smart enough to bail out long ago.

[+/-]

22 September 2006

The 19th of September

For those interested in having first-hand information about events in Thailand, a new blog was borne overnight to report on the Thai coup. Here it is:

19th September Blog

[+/-]

A Little Spice on FF* - R. Jehn

Pecan Pie (28 August 2000)

If you have read the book Sweet Heat, you will understand this peculiar recipe. It is excellent when served with Dreyer’s Hot Chilly Chili or Out of a Flower, Inc.’s Jalapeño Mexican Vanilla Bean ice cream. Have a cool mocha or something similar to accompany it.

I used some ideas from the Joy of Cooking and another local Louisiana cookbook (The Louisiana Proud Collection of Home Cooking), but they both used this Karo corn syrup thing which had no appeal to me. So here is what I did:

5 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon good vanilla extract
1 tablespoon molasses
1/2 teaspoon chile morita powder (or chipotle powder)
A couple of tablespoons bottled water (optional)
1-1/2 cups fresh pecans

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Lightly roast the pecans for 10 to 12 minutes, just until you detect the wonderful aroma. [I also will “blind-bake” (see note * below) the crust if I am using one of my homemade crusts at the same time.]

In the meanwhile, mix the brown sugar, honey, vanilla, molasses, and chile powder together very thoroughly ensuring that the sugar is completely dissolved (if you are using very thick honey, then add water to thin it). Last, add the beaten eggs and thoroughly mix the honey mixture into them, then fold the cooled pecans into the mixture.

For this one, I used a store-bought 9-inch frozen pie crust (I thawed it first), poured the egg / pecan mixture into it, and baked it at 350° F. for 35 to 40 minutes. I tested using a toothpick (it should come out of the filling clean).

Do NOT use “chili powder” from your local grocery - it would contain cumin, oregano, salt, and perhaps other things. You could substitute cayenne chile powder, but perhaps only a 1/4 to 1/3 teaspoon as it is spicier than morita. The key difference to understand is that chipotles and moritas are smoked chiles, while cayenne chiles are simply dried then ground to the fine powder that we buy at the store.

* Note: To blind-bake a crust, spread parchment paper into the bottom of the crust in the pie plate, add dried beans evenly into the bottom to weigh it down (bean layer should be 1/2-inch thick), and bake at 400° F. for 8 to 10 minutes.

* Note: FF = Foodie Friday

[+/-]

21 September 2006


OUTCRY FOR PEACE! TODAY, September 21 5 to 7 pm Congress Avenue Bridge

JOIN OUR OUTCRY for peace by gathering on the Congress Avenue Bridge sidewalks from 5 pm to 7 pm.

OUTCRY FOR PEACE is part of the Declaration of Peace a nationwide campaign to establish by September 21, 2006 a concrete and rapid plan for peace in Iraq, including:

- a prompt timetable for withdrawal of troops and closure of bases
- a peace process for security, reconstruction, and reconciliation and
- the shift of funding for war to meeting human needs

If this plan for peace is not created and activated by Congress by September 21, the International Day of Peace Declaration signers across the U.S. will engage in nonviolent action from 9/21 to 9/28 in Washington, D.C. and in communities throughout the nation.

Sponsored by Code Pink Austin, in conjunction with the Austin Center for Peace and Justice.

For more information call 799-5117.

Alice Embree

[+/-]

It's Somethin' Natchul

[+/-]

20 September 2006

A Migratory Parrot Drops in for WW* - R. Jehn

This is one of those rare visitors in the Pacific Northwest. He appears in the Spring for a few days, and again in the Autumn, but he mostly spends his time elsewhere. He is an evening grosbeak. The picture was taken in Shelton, Washington in early June 2004.

*Note: WW = Wildlife Wednesday

[+/-]

19 September 2006

The Pope Said ... - C. Loving

[+/-]

Secret Prisons - C. Loving

Cartoon Tuesday just lives on today. And there may be more ...

[+/-]

Rebels with a Cause - A. Embree

Wednesday, September 27th, 8 pm MonkeyWrench Books presents a screening and discussion of "Rebels with a Cause." Rebels with a Cause is a 2000 documentary that chronicles the movements for social change of the Sixties that began with the civil rights movement and culminated with the angry protests against the US war in Vietnam.

Students for a Democratic Society, the largest and most influential student organization of the '60s, was a uniquely American movement that grew and evolved in response to the times. At its peak in 1968, SDS had over 100,000 members and 400 chapters. Told through the eyes of SDS members, the film is about far more than SDS. It's about the values, motivations, and actions of a generation that lost it's innocence but gained a sense of power and purpose. It's about a decade that changed America.

The movie will be followed by a discussion with Alice Embree, a former Austin SDS member who is featured in the film, about SDS's legacy in Austin. LOCATION: MonkeyWrench Books, 110 E. North Loop.

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Geneva Conventions Revisited on TT* - C. Loving

*Note: TT = (car)Toon Tuesday

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18 September 2006

Sands of Sorrow in Three Parts

Today is the Monday Movie. This is a somber video offering, preceded by a somber article from Patrick Cockburn. I credit David Hamilton for ensuring this issue has stayed in the forefront of our ruminations. The truly horrible aspect of 'Palestine' is that conditions have not changed very much in 55 years. rdj

September 11, 2006

The Deepening Crisis in Gaza
Palestinians Forced to Scavenge Rubbish Dumps for Food


The Israeli military and economic siege of Gaza has led to a collapse in Palestinian living conditions and many people only survive by looking for scraps of food in rubbish dumps, say international aid agencies.

"The pressure and tactics have not resulted in a desire for compromise," Karen Abuzayd, the head of the UN Relief and Works Agency is said to have warned. "But rather they have created mass despair, anger and a sense of hopelessness and abandonment."

Israel closed the entry and exit points into the Gaza Strip, home to 1.5 million Palestinians, on June 25 and has conducted frequent raids and bombings that have killed 262 people and wounded 1,200. The crisis in Gaza has been largely ignored by the rest of the world, which has been absorbed by the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon.

"Women in Gaza tell me they are eating only one meal a day, bread with tomatoes or cheap vegetables," said Kirstie Campbell of the UN's World Food Programme, which is feeding 235,000 people. She added that in June, since when the crisis has worsened, some 70 per cent of people in Gaza could not meet their family's food needs. "People are raiding garbage dumps," she said.

Not only do Palestinians in Gaza get little to eat but what food they have is eaten cold because of the lack of electricity and money to pay for fuel. The Gaza power plant was destroyed by an Israeli air strike in June. In one month alone 4 per cent of Gaza's agricultural land was destroyed by Israeli bulldozers.

The total closure imposed by Israel, supplemented by deadly raids, has led to the collapse of the Gazan economy. The 35,000 fishermen cannot fish because Israeli gunboats will fire on them if they go more than a few hundred yards from the shore. At the same time the international boycott of the Hamas government means that there is no foreign aid to pay Palestinian government employees. The government used to have a monthly budget of $180-200m, half of which went to pay 165,000 public sector workers. But it now has only $25m a month.

Aid agencies are frustrated by their inability to persuade the world that the humanitarian crisis is far worse in Gaza than it is in Lebanon. The WFP says: "In contrast to Lebanon, where humanitarian food aid needs have been essentially met, the growing number of poor in Gaza are living on the bare minimum."

Full Article

If you want to continue with Parts 2 and 3, here they are:

For information, here is what the person who posted this film on YouTube wrote:

I can't claim to have answers. I know posting this film suggests that I have a strongly pro-Palestinian bias, but that is not entirely the case.

I simply feel that those who have reached moral conclusions regarding the status of things in that part of the world are being premature.

You seldom hear the phrase "The Palestinian Question" any more, the phrase that, until about a decade ago, was most often used to refer to this homeless nation.

In my opinion, there has been such polarization that neither side feels there is any question any longer.

It seems that eradication of either Israel or the Palestinians is the answer that most have accepted in their hearts, whether they speak it or not.

I don't find either answer acceptable or civilized. As both sides feed upon each others' intransigence and distrust to feed their own stores of the same, it's not useful for those who still believe there are questions worth answering to get caught up in that.

The film's repeated stress on children, the difficulties they endured as refugees, and the hope for a better life, expressed through the filmmaker's point of view, is in sharp contrast to what has actually occurred. Those children, sixty years later, are mostly dead.

These are not the people that today "act in ways that would destroy or supplant their benefactors." Today, we deal with their children, and with their grandchildren.

This seems to me not a matter of a child who, growing up, forgot that we gave him powdered milk, flour, beans and a blanket at a time when those things meant a great deal.

The younger generations have a wider view, of good intentions, hopeful promises, and, 60 years later, still-harsh realities.

They are witnesses to their parents', and their grandparents', life and death in occupied territories that were for previous generations a part of their own nation. They have been led in prayers for 'statehood' their entire lives, and no doubt been led to believe that 'statehood' would have an almost-magical ability to solve all their problems. Meanwhile, statehood has been a constantly dimming specter.

Israel's security -- and its huge payday from the US -- is dependent on a constant state of war. Many US war industries also have a profitable investment in continued hostilities. In this context, I believe a plausible argument could be made that conservative elements in both the US and Israel are motivated to avoid a resolution to these issues.

There is much on the Internet that argues for this; here's just one news story from a couple of years ago that makes the case rather well:

One US Rule for Israel, Another for Saddam

I am not saying this is the case, but if one 'follows the money,' I think you'll find strong indications of a money motive in prolonging the problems of the middle east."


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17 September 2006

Susan and Spencer Are Singing' a Duet on Sunday

This cut is from the Shiva's Headband album 'Coming to a Head.' It's a lovely duet from Susan and Spencer Perskin.


Here's their Web page - Shiva's Headband. And here's a little old press from The Rag. Here are some words Spencer wrote 14 years ago for the Austin Chronicle. Many thanks to Spencer, Susan, and the band for allowing us to post their tune.

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16 September 2006

Article 3 of the Geneva Convention - R. Jehn

At yesterday's news conference in the Rose Garden, the President gave the following response to a question about the legislation he is seeking to have approved by Congress:

Q Thank you very much, sir. What do you say to the argument that your proposal is basically seeking support for torture, coerced evidence and secret hearings? And Senator McCain says your plan will put U.S. troops at risk. What do you think about that?

THE PRESIDENT: This debate is occurring because of the Supreme Court's ruling that said that we must conduct ourselves under the Common Article III of the Geneva Convention. And that Common Article III says that there will be no outrages upon human dignity. It's very vague. What does that mean, "outrages upon human dignity"? That's a statement that is wide open to interpretation. And what I'm proposing is that there be clarity in the law so that our professionals will have no doubt that that which they are doing is legal. You know, it's -- and so the piece of legislation I sent up there provides our professionals that which is needed to go forward.

The first question that we've got to ask is, do we need the program? I believe we do need the program. And I detailed in a speech in the East Room what the program has yield -- in other words, the kind of information we get when we interrogate people, within the law. You see, sometimes you can pick up information on the battlefield; sometimes you can pick it up through letters; but sometimes you actually have to question the people who know the strategy and plans of the enemy. And in this case, we questioned people like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who we believe ordered the attacks on 9/11, or Ramzi Binalshibh, or Abu Zabeda -- cold-blooded killers who were part of planning the attack that killed 3,000 people. And we need to be able to question them, because it helps yield information, the information necessary for us to be able to do our job.

[I added the emphasis. If you want to read the entire transcript of the press conference, you can do so here.]

Here is the full text of (common) article 3 of the Geneva Conventions:


In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

(1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria. To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; (b) taking of hostages; (c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment; (d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

(2) The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for.

An impartial humanitarian body, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, may offer its services to the Parties to the conflict.

[For the complete Geneva Conventions, click here.]

Call me naive, but the language here is not vague to me. Perhaps I can remind our readers of one of the "outrages of personal dignity" which is prohibited under clause (1-c) that the President terms "vague":

Please remember that those who have been charged in this entire Abu Ghraib fiasco have made clear that their orders were coming from above, and there is plenty of evidence that the general attitude of indifference, and even contempt, to the treatment of any prisoners in US custody comes directly from the Pentagon and its highest circles.

And let's revisit another tactic employed in Iraq, namely that of taking women hostage to induce their husbands to surrender to US military authorities:

Officially, at least, America condemns hostage taking on both moral and practical grounds. It is both wrong and ineffective.

But that hasn’t deterred some rogue U.S. military units in Iraq from seizing and jailing wives of suspected insurgents — including one young mother of a nursing baby — in hopes of “leveraging” their husbands’ surrender. In military documents detailing the 2004 incidents, none of the unknown number of women were suspects. Instead, they appear to have been detained after raids on suspected male insurgents’ homes turned up empty.

The mother of the infant was held for two days, even after an officer complained that the woman “had no actionable intelligence leading to the arrest of her husband.” After seizing another woman in lieu of her husband, an Army colonel suggested challenging her husband “to come and get his wife.”

It’s unclear how widespread this has become among American forces. The former commander of Abu Ghraib prison has said this tactic has become a part of the war in Iraq.

Perhaps the President finds article 3 vague in exactly the same way that the following words were found vague enough to allow the enslavement of African Americans for almost 100 years after 1776 and to continue to treat them as second class citizens for an additional 100 years, and to disenfranchise women for almost 150 years after the birth of the nation.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Pretty fucking vague, eh? Yes, just as vague as article 3 of Geneva ...

This is an argument about Humanity and what we are to define as common decency for all humans. And nothing that the minour league, hypocritical asshole in the White House says is going to change that.

Richard Jehn

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A Saturday Snapshot That's All Too True

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15 September 2006

Memories of Ann Richards - J. Muir

The order that discharged me from the United States Air Force was dated April 19, 1967; less than a month later, I passed my 21st birthday in Rio Grande City, trying to help out with the farm worker organizing effort and the strike against La Casita's melon harvest. The organizers decided I'd be more useful setting up a boycott of La Casita's melons, in Dallas. The first folks who helped me with the boycott were Ann and Dave Richards. Dave was practicing labor and civil rights law with the Mullinax Wells firm and Ann was an activist in the liberal wing of the Democratic party. We did what we could with the boycott (not much, given Texas labor law), but Ann earned my admiration by suggesting another tactic: the two of us would go into supermarkets selling La Casita's melons and pierce them repeatedly with long hatpins, trying to make them rot prematurely. We did this, in about half a dozen supermarkets.

In the middle of the 1980's, when Ann was known to be considering a race for governor, Texas Rural Legal Aid got her to speak at a fundraiser for the Hidalgo County Bar Association's Pro Bono Project. When her turn came Ann got up on the stage and did her typically funny schtick but she also did something daring. She described her experience, sticking those pins in the melons, and why she did it. Unquestionably, she understood that there were the usual lawyer power-brokers in the audience that night, but she threw down: this is who I am, when it comes to farm worker issues.

People loved her. It's hard for me to imagine people loving George Bush, Rick Perry, Bill Clinton in the same way.

John Muir

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Autumn Equinox Seasonal Message - K. Braun

But there never seems to be enough time / To do the things you want to do...”

Saturday, September 23, 2006 marks the Fall Equinox, also known as Mabon. Lady Moon is in her First Quarter in Libra, echoing Lord Sun’s Libran location. Saturday is Saturn’s day, incorporating messages of prudence, caution, and conservatism in all things. Libra’s emblem, the scales, reminds us to enjoy balance in all things. Equinoxes are two times in the year when a raw egg may be balanced on its larger end. The egg symbolizes the world, and performing this “balancing act” helps us remember to keep our own balance within the world’s scope.

While similar to Lammas, Mabon is more emphatic about giving thanks. This is a celebration of Second Harvest: the largesse Planet Earth provides, the joy we take in this fruitfulness, the thanks we give and share in our busy lives. This is a festival when sharing food is a requirement, as doing so implies that your abundance is not only great enough to share now, but that there will be plenty of food for you and your family as the seasons progress. Not only is it appropriate to share the leftovers of your feast with your guests, it is also good to donate some food to charity.

With the long, dark night of Winter approaching, Mabon is also a time to finish old business. First quarter moons are when we make plans; setting the example of making a list of three things you plan to finish between now and Samhain and encouraging your guests to do the same is most appropriate. You could furnish your guests with small notepads and pens for this purpose, using them as place cards on your table.

Decorate your table and altar with colorful autumn leaves, acorns, and ivy. Use the colors red, russet, gold, brown, maroon, orange, and violet. A cornucopia spilling nuts, seeds, apples, and pomegranates makes a nice centerpiece, as does a cauldron full of acorns and pinecones or a representation of the Green Man. Designate your gathering as an occasion to “dress up”; array yourself in magnificence and strongly suggest to your guests to follow your example.

There are so many things to be thankful for: food in our bellies and pantries, good friends, productive work, love, a roof over our heads and a safe place to sleep each night, play, creativity. The list is infinite. During your celebration it is important for each person present to have a chance to express thanks for something.

Berries, especially blackberries, are an important part of the traditional menu for this celebration. All grains, especially corn, may also be included, as well as onions, garlic, potatoes, squash, beans, nuts, seeds, apples, pomegranates, herbs, cider, and fruit wine. Raise your glasses in a toast to friendship and prosperity. You deserve it! Remember to honor the trees that surround you: make a toast to them and pour a bit of wine or cider onto their roots. They are an important part of our ecosystem.

* * * * * * * *

Reminder 1: Mind Body Spirit Expo, October 7 & 8, 2006 in Palmer Events Center. $8 admission, good for both days. 10 AM - 7 PM Saturday, Oct. 7, 11 AM - 6 PM Sunday, Oct. 8. I will be offering 15- and 30-minute Tarot readings in booth 217.

Reminder 2: Sunday, October 15, 2006, from noon to 6 PM Ancient Mysteries will be presenting a mini-Psychic Fair in the parking lot in front of the store. 4315 S. 1st St., across from the St. Elmo School playground. There will be ample parking in the school parking lot. No entry fee. I will be offering a mixed menu of options for attendees. For more information and/or directions, phone (512) 373-4411.

If you come to any of these events because you learned about them by reading this Seasonal Message, please stop by my table and let me know, whether you choose to consult with me or not. By monitoring the results of my mailings I am better able to serve my clients.

www.tarotbykate.bigstep.com Tarot by Kate 512-454-2293 kate_braun2000@yahoo.com

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Catfish on Foodie Friday - R. Jehn

Baked Catfish Filets (23 March 2003)

If you like catfish, this is a nice way to do it. A typical issue that people have with catfish is that it tastes muddy, no surprise as they are scavenger, bottom-feeding fish. This use of a pre-cooking marinade takes care of the problem.

1/2 cup buttermilk
Lots of salt and peppa’
Garlic powder to taste
1/2 teaspoon cayenne chile powder

Mix these ingredients together, then add:

6 ounces fresh catfish filets, cut into pieces

Marinade the catfish for about three hours in the refrigerator - it will do amazing things to the flavour of them, especially if you typically find catfish that tastes the way mud/lake-bottom does. Be sure to drain the fileted fish pieces after marinading and discard the liquid, too.

Preheat the oven to 450° F. Then do a little dance with the following, which is a very typical dance for quick-fried foods:

1/4 cup flour
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix flour and seasoning in a little bowl;

1 large egg, beaten

Beat egg in another bowl, then most importantly:

1/8 cup flour
1/8 cup corn meal
More seasoning of your choosing

Mix flour, etc. in a third bowl. For seasoning, I often use rather spicy things such as pasilla or ancho chile powder, pepper, etc.

The following steps are typical, but not what I did:

  1. Dredge fish in flour, pat flour off fish;

  2. Dip fish in beaten egg, ensuring excess egg drips away;

  3. Throughly coat fish with corn meal mixture, shaking off excess; and

  4. Fry in very hot oil until golden brown and drain on paper towel.

For the baked version, follow ONLY steps 1 to 3 just above, then place each filet onto a rack over a baking sheet or dish. Bake for 15 minutes or so until golden brown and crispy.

Serve with cornbread or rice, salad and lemon wedges (latter is for fish).

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13 September 2006

An Ecological Indicator for WW*

These little critters are supposed to tell us about the health of the local environment. This one was just telling me not to mince him with our electric mower. I know he looks posed, but it was a real circumstance. Photo taken in Summer 2004 in Shelton, Washington. As the scale is hard to discern, this tree frog is about 0.5" long. rdj

* WW = Wildlife Wednesday

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12 September 2006

Either Our Boat Is Sinking ... - P. Spencer

... Or The Bowl Is Draining

I went back to school in the mid-80s to reenforce my technical experience in foundries with graduate level work in Materials Science. One of the main funding sources for research was federal R&D money for improved reliability of welded steels for use in building/repairing bridges. The rationale was that many welded (as opposed to riveted or reenforced-concrete) bridges were nearing the end of their design, if not their service, lives.

That was 20 years ago. I remember, long before that, the increasing severity of road deterioration (potholes, slumping) across the country – especially the northern half that saw more frost-heaving. This was particularly true in the Northeastern and upper Midwestern industrial towns that were losing their manufacturing base – to the South and the West, then to Japan, Korea, Mexico, and so on. Losing manufacturing meant losing the tax base to support construction and maintenance.

Public transportation in our country is second-rate. The market may have spoken in the last 50 years, but convenience is now running headlong into petroleum reality, when it comes to near-total reliance on private transportation. Our trains are lucky to hit 70 mph on the Great Plains, and railroad accidents are much more common here than in countries where the bullet-trains go 130 mph.

Speaking of accidents, our traffic deaths are a national disgrace – the only “developed” countries that are statistically in our league are Italy and Australia. Part of the reason in all three countries is probably related to cultural attitudes concerning driving under the influence of you-name-it, but that’s another article. In this country, though, a major part is the high amount of vehicular traffic due to lack of effective public transportation.

Should high-tension and feeder electrical lines be underground? It seems likely that there would be a lot less storm-related outages, plus injuries from downed lines. In addition, if the jury is still out concerning the effect of electromagnetic radiation from high-voltage lines on health, it is certain that the radiation would be reduced under five feet of dirt.

Solar-cell and wind-turbine generation of electricity are rapidly catching on in Japan, Europe, China, India, and California. There are some problems still with efficient integration with the existing systems. Where are the development dollars for this work?

We have lost the major part of U.S. basic steel, basic aluminum, ship-building, textile, machine tool, and electronics manufacturing capacity to overseas sites due to “market forces”. The largest polyvinyl chloride plants, the major portion of silicon-wafer and computer-chip production facilities, many “high-tech” manufacturing plants, and even automobile assembly plants in the USA are owned by foreign capital.

We underutilize our timber, our human energy, and our ingenuity. We “own” a lot of nuclear technology (not to mention weapons), but – apparently – do not recyle nuclear fuel in our remaining nuclear-based electrical generation operations (France does). The list goes on and on. On a bad day it makes ex-pat look quite attractive.

The following quote, via Tomgrams, is a good summary of the current situation and implies the prognosis for the near-term: ‘Just last year, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the country a "D" for "its overall infrastructure conditions, estimating that it would take $1.6 trillion over five years to fix the problem." The "problem," put bluntly, is that the country's basic operating systems are eroding fast and this administration, by all evidence, couldn't care less.’

We are left with building houses for each other; brewing some of the best beers; buying unnecessary plastic objects (line borrowed from Nanci Griffiths – remember the 5 and dime in downtown Austin?) from China; and litigation. That is an unsustainable economic base.

Do I mean to imply that the USA should monopolize or dominate these fields? Nope. I mean to emphatically state that all of the endeavors mentioned above are part of a healthy regional economy. The people of this country should no more rely on steel from Korea (now China) than oil from Saudi Arabia or than lumber from the trees of the Amazon River rainforests. Part of the reason is in the nature of the word “reliance”, and part of it is the wasteful use of petroleum to transport these materials from far-distant sources.

Infrastructure and manufacturing go hand-in-hand: power, transportation, waste treatment and recycling are all necessary. In our current corporate ethos, however, anything that takes cash away from executive salaries and from net profit is waste.

And that is the essential point – we citizens are being flushed right into the septic tank of imperial decline - where the corrosive effects of greed and lust will dissolve and realign our organic molecules - by the biggest, smelliest shits in our world. Right now most of us are still circling, so centrifugal action is artificially supporting our position near the top of the bowl – but the bottom is dropping out, folks. I suppose that we all end up as fertilizer, but, personally, I take offense at being prematurely transformed.

So what’s my suggestion? It is not to recruit our sons and daughters to reenforce the imperial military. It is, as usual, to agitate and organize our fellow flushees; to attempt to rationalize (regionalize) our economy; to capture our local, regional, and national policy-making institutions. This particular case is just another angle of attack: infrastructure and manufacturing are being decimated in the U.S., and we will all suffer increasingly as a result. A lot of people see the symptoms; we need to help them make the connections to political organization and action.

In practice, then, this fits the PDS (People for a Democratic Society) program in the following particulars:

  • End poverty via progressive taxation to support provision of basic services (clean water, sanitation, basic food, healthcare, affordable housing).

  • Two-year, universal public service (military, healthcare service, infrastructure construction labor, emergency services).

  • Clean air, soil, and surface water.

  • Development of “alternative” energy sources (solar, wind, wave, etc.).

  • Affordable, environmentally-sensitive public transportation.

  • Socialism for “commodities” (insurance, banking, steel, oil, power).

Paul Spencer

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With primary elections ongoing, and the mid-term coming up ....

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Shalom for TT* - C. Loving

A couple of offerings for *(car)Toon Tuesday. Since it's new news, the first toon needed to get posted today. Many thanks, Charlie. rdj

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11 September 2006

Solidary Incentives - G. Duffy, M. Wizard, V. Liveoak, S. Russell

This is continuation of a conversation that started with this post. Updated 12 September at 7:15 PDT. rdj

Oversimply, most political leaders there (as well as their associates in Dublin and London) are trying to settle. Hardliners across communities are of course skeptical and see the settlement effort as naivite at best and betrayal at worst. The question is whether the non-hardliners (can't bring myself to call them moderates) can sufficiently build confidence in the settlement among constituents across communities. It's unclear how one can readily build confidence in political contexts in which each side has demonized the other for generations, or, as in this case, for centuries.

Gavan Duffy

Well, ok, but what exactly is being done to "retract solidary"?? please be specific

If I am understanding this even vaguely, you are describing a [very slow and tentative] process, in Ireland, of reducing expectations, and especially guarantees, of special treatment or privilege based on one's commitment to a [respective] faith -- one example (and perhaps not a very apt one) might be in assuring equal access to housing, in any neighborhood; in the US there used to be deed restrictions that prevented the sale of homes in white neighborhoods to "coloreds" and although I don't know if there are similar arrangements in Ireland, it seems plausible -- and one can make that illegal, but that doesn't necessarily end the practice or the expectation.

So, on that kind of level, please, what is being tried now that you know of? Or am I totally and completely not getting this one?

Mariann Wizard

Well, Marian, when you ask "what exactly is being done to retract solidary" incentives, you re-ask my question. I don't know, exactly, how to retract them. Once you've demonized an enemy to mobilize constituents, how do you de-demonize that enemy when you want to settle?

The deed restriction example isn't apt. Material incentives are easy to retract, by (in this instance) making deed restrictions illegal or (more typically) withholding pay (or threatening incarceration) for non-obedience to leaders' orders. Solidary incentives, however, aren't readily retractable.

Generally, we hear about vague "confidence-building" measures, but these tend not to bear fruit for at least a generation, if then. I suspect the underlying causal mechanism is "cohort replacement." Political animosities fade as the hardliners slowly pass away.

Something faster would be helpful. There are of course the truth and reconciliation commissions. These tend to be employed where there were massive human rights abuses, but they could be useful in divided communities where human rights abuses have been relatively less severe. I haven't heard of their use in Northern Ireland, though.

Apart from that, the only concrete proposal I can come up with is to educate prospective political leaders of the dangers of mobilizing in this way. Of course, revolutionary insurgencies typically have no alternative, as they tend to have limited access to material resources. This makes the proposal less than satisfying as a general solution.


After WWII the US and other Allies mounted large campaigns to rebuild Germany and Japan. (Rebuilding them--more or less--in the Allies' images) Thus the Axis powers became more like the Allies, and are now in most ways Us not Them.

On a grassroots level, the process allowed people to see each others' humanity by, on one side, helping the other, and, on the other side, receiving help from a former enemy.

Similarly, as China's economic model has allowed more profit taking there, China has been de-demonized by the leaders of commerce. It is seen as more like us.

I believe that most of us on this list would have doubts about trying to make any of the targets of US demonizing more like us. But we can reach for common humanity in small ways. (That is why I worry when we repeat the demonizing of Islamic Fundamentalism.)

I hear Conservative complaints about how the media don't publicize the "good things" the US is doing in Iraq--building schools etc. I would guess if the US were to focus more on rebuilding rather than attempting to attack insurgents then the humanizing would go both ways.

I agree that at the level of leaders, we need to do all we can to decrease the tendency to demonize whichever people is the target of the leader's hate. But I think that maybe at the grassroots level, we need more helpful ways to make contacts between the Us's and the Them's.

One note--I wonder if peacemakers' attempts to communicate the terrible suffering that the US are inflicting on the Iraqis is effectively helping grassroots contacts. American culture is so focused on solving problems, and in denying painful truths, that there's extremely limited attention for massive sad stories--a sympathy glut. I think many folks connect better with individual stories, and ones with some ray of hopefulness, some vision of remedy, such as Ruqayya's.

It is counter cultural to appeal to altruism rather than the profit motive. To incite feelings of love (or at least respect) rather than hate. But that's the only way to re-draw the circle of Us's to include the Them's.

But we were the countercultural folks 30 years ago. Can we do that now?

Paz--Val Liveoak

Well, Val, I guess it depends on whether you think there are demons.

Demons, to me, are fundamentalists of any stripe: Islamic, Christian, Marxist, whatever.

People willing to sacrifice the human beings in front of them for some abstract good with which the people in front of them may not agree.

I don't respect fundamentalists, except in the sense that I respect their right to be crazy.

But not their right to make the world crazy, which is their primary goal. Therein comes the conflict.

Steve Russell

The postwar rehabilitation of the Germans and Japanese certainly exemplifies the retraction of solidary incentives, but it took a generation at least -- especially for the Japanese, whose ethnic difference from (most of) us slowed the transition (if it's even completed). It'd be real nice to find a more efficient approach.

Grassroots encounters and other efforts to reach for common humanity are salutary, but typically ineffective. The underlying presumption is the "contact hypothesis," the idea that positive interactions between persons in mutally disaffected communities will motivate them to drop their negative stereotypes of the other's group. Unfortunately, the evidence runs counter to the contact hypothesis. People tend to explain away their positive experiences as ceteris paribus conditions, or exceptions to the rule, while retaining the stereotype. "Well, Ahmed is a really nice person, not like the rest of those damn Arabs."

See Miles Hewstone's discussion of the contact hypothesis in his book on causal attribution. Sorry, don't have the full reference handy, but I recall the book's title as Causal Attribution.


I don't have to BELIEVE in evil actions since I can see them. And I agree they are often done by fundamentalists. But to consider fundamentalists of any sort as demons makes it impossible to consider that they might be able some day to grow and change. It ignores the good motives they might have for every single one of their activities or beliefs--even ones we might otherwise find in common with our own. Can a "demon" ever do good?

Sister Helen Prejean says of people on death row, "What would you or I be if we were only known by the worst thing we ever did?"

That said we can and should find ways to stop evil actions. But calling people demons doesn't help IMHO.


I am not an academic. I don't know if the Hewstone study includes work specifically aimed at rebuilding communities shattered by violence.

The group with which I work, Friends Peace Teams, has a very impressive project of community reconciliation in Burundi and Rwanda. Check it out here. Look for the African Great Lakes Initiative.


I will. I'll also share it with a Kenyan doctoral student who's worked on the ground in both Burundi and Rwanda and is writing a dissertation in this substantive area. I'm sure she'll be interested.

Hewstone's study is relevant, whether you are an academic or not. It would be an advance, for both theory and practice, to show that reconciliation efforts in any context produced significantly positive results, contrary to Hewstone's conclusion. If they don't, that would be important to know too.

Anyway, I'll visit the website. I'm interested in cataloging the efforts that people make to retract or otherwise undo solidary incentives, successful or not, naively idealistic or not.


I agree that demonizing individuals does not advance the ball and I try not to do so.

Some individuals do manage to demonize themselves, and I don't find it productive to spend time pointing out that Hitler loved his dog and had a horrible upbringing, both of which are apparently true.

But demonizing IDEAS is not the same thing.

The idea that it is morally correct to kill somebody over a theological difference or a political difference is repugnant.

You argue theology if you think it's worth arguing and ditto politics but when it's part of your argument that those who disagree must die you forfeit any claim to respect.

The "lawful" use of force on the international level is at this time limited to purely defensive wars and actions sanctioned by the UN Security Council. Bush, I suppose, didn't get the memo.

The lawful use of force on the individual level is limited to self-defense and defense of another from imminent threat.

Is a rule of law a good thing? Some people say that governments, having monopolies on lawful force, may by definition only be toppled by unlawful force in an undemocratic situation. History does not generally support that hypothesis, but it dovetails nicely with the impulse to do violence that comes from injustice.

Had the Palestinians the discipline for a Satyagraha, there would have been a Palestinian state a long time ago and a lot fewer people would be dead on both sides. But Gandhi was right that the hard part is not dealing with your adversary but rather preparing yourself.

And you are right that you don't prepare yourself by speaking in terms of demons.

I have come in my old age to just put some things outside what I consider to be rational discourse. Maybe I'm a curmudgeon. That's what my little explosion about gay marriage was about at the Rag reunion. The other place my curmudgeonly persona comes forward is in excusing violence by people I believe to be oppressed when that violence is directed at the innocent. I guess now that I make a living in the world of ideas I have come to take seriously the idea that not everything is within the realm of rational discourse. Outside that realm there be demons.


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An Activist's Monday Movie

National days of protest demand 'U.S. out of the Middle East
It is a solemn day today. That's why we're protesting. Mabel, I think we need a couple of megaphones, and water, and two bandanas, some snacks, and good walking shoes. We'll be busy today, saying something about illegal wars and hegemony. Please join us.

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10 September 2006

Tony's Guitar Sings This Sunday

It is a pleasure to introduce you to Django's Moustache if you haven't yet met them. They're an Austin band and play around town from time to time. I'd hoped that Tony Airoldi would write something for me to go with this tune, but he's a busy boy. If he does get something to me, I'll post it. They did grant permission for us to post one of their songs, and that counts for a great deal.

I've known Tony for almost 40 years, and we seem to reconnect periodically, despite the turns our lives have taken. I remember first hearing him when he played with the Zig Zag String Quartet in the 1960's. His guitar playing now is absolutely awesome. Enjoy this beautiful tune he's written. rdj

Tarantas Performed by Django's Moustache

Here is their Web site - Django's Moustache. They also have a MySpace presence here. Please visit their Web sites and listen to their music, buy their CD, and learn about where they'll be playing next.

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09 September 2006

From the Department of Hearts and Minds

A morbid, cynical tragic public service message.

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08 September 2006

September 11

This post was originally on 6 August 2006, but now as September 11 approaches, it's time to get it where it belongs in time. Charles Bishop's letter was posted in August because the Austin American Statesman scooped us. They also published Steve Russell's letter, but not until about the 25th of August. They did not publish either of the other two letters, so they are appearing for the first time in print.

Here is Mariann's original challenge to the membership:

... announces the beginning of the Statesman's "anniversary coverage" of 9/11 and invites YOU THE READER to submit 200 words or less to sept11@... disclosing your thoughts on the deadly event, and whether America is now a kinder, gentler, place, with more fearful but safer people etc. und zo forth. I have written my 200, my dears, as an exercise in political discourse and rhetoric, and urge and plea with you to do the same, muy pronto, and to send it off inmedianmente! It would be shame if this special coverage did not include a few rants about the utter ridiculous stupid gravity of it all, and were to be dominated by flag-waving effluvia!!

IN ADDITION, I propose that all of us who write such rants for statesman.com send a copy privately (OFF-LIST) to Richard Jehn, and that Richard squirrel them away until a few days before 9/11/06, and then blog 'em all on TRB.

What say you? (Yes, 200 words is difficult, but I hit mine on the nail, nyahh, nyahh, Ragchallenge!! NO PEEKING or sharing with anyone but Jehn until we either see 'em in the Statesman or on our blog!!) Mariann Wizard

Nine-11 accelerated ongoing processes of profound change. America's vision of itself shattered with the physical wreckage, replaced by a distorting mirror of fear.

I am more afraid of my government; less proud of my country. Invasive "security procedures" mock Liberty but don't stop terrorism, just as gun laws don't stop crime. Nine-11 wasn't an "inside job", but the Bush administration was too ready with regressive domestic legislation and a profitable war abroad.

Public displays of allegiance chill uniquely American freedoms: to be silent, to differ, to criticize the powers-that-be. Years of substandard education have made us sheep, mesmerized by silver-paper "stars" and disinclined to critical thinking. The juggernaut of "emergency" activity following 9/11 crushed attempts to slow the New World agenda, and despite robust Internet dissent, Bush & Co. may well feel smug.

Meanwhile, our small towns languish unless overrun by "development"; meaningful jobs evaporate; and, for late-arriving immigrants, the Promised Land has left the building. Multinational profiteers will soon pave a broad swath of Texas, ripping a limited access trade corridor through America's heart. Poets and prophets say, "The world is a ghetto," and the U.S.A. is another bad neighborhood.

Two hundred words?
Harder than haiku!
"Nine-eleven changed ev'rything!"

Mariann Garner-Wizard

It is absurd to believe that the United States has become a safer place since 11 September 2001. It is more difficult to smuggle a box cutter onto a commercial aircraft, but it is just as simple to sabotage a water supply, a large chemical plant or oil refinery, or a majour port now as it was in 2001.

The war in Iraq is generating USA-haters at the rate of almost 4 per hour, by my rather conservative estimate (based on 30 Iraqi civilian deaths per day each of whom had just three grief-stricken relatives). Having followed Iraqi bloggers closely for three years, it is clear that they (and their local readership) are becoming less sympathetic to the “war on terror.”

After all, how can one fight terror? It is as ridiculous as fighting altruism or faith. It seems foolish to repeat the obvious, but if the effort had focused on al Qaeda until that task was better in hand, perhaps there could have been a measure of success. As it is, we lied our way into a war in Iraq at the potential expense of the nation (via an impending national bankruptcy). Frankly, if true, it will be no loss.

Richard Jehn
Port Angeles, Washington

The events of 9-11-01 were horrible crimes, but we are not at war with terrorism. If Mohammad Atta had been caught rather than consumed in flames, he would not be a prisoner of war. A terrorist is not a soldier but a criminal. The laws to deal with terrorism have been in place since the Barbary pirates, and any nation can punish the crime or declare war on a state harboring terrorists. This is not new and there are legal tools to deal with it.

The President said, by way of explanation, “they hate our freedom.” His solution domestically has been to take away our freedom so they will no longer hate us. Logical as that is, our safety is not increased by diluting the Bill of Rights that is supposed to separate us from our adversaries. It’s easier to cede our power to the government than it will be to get it back.

The invasion of Afghanistan was a legal and justified act of self-defense, although bungled in execution. There is a legal war against Afghanistan, which harbored terrorists, and an illegal war against Iraq, which did not attack us. But there is no war on terrorism.

Steve Russell

My Thoughts about a Post-9/11 America & World

The attack on 9/11 produced a “pissin’ contest” between two political parties to see who could be “more” patriotic than the other. This would have been humorous had it not led to the “Patriot Act” and an abused “War Powers” resolution to initiate an unprecedented preemptive attack on a sovereign nation, resulting in an “out-of-control” civil war in Iraq!!

I do not believe we are a safer nation, and most assuredly not a safer world since the events of 9/11.

The inept, misguided lurch into the Iraqi War has created MORE terrorists, MORE attacks and MORE killings, yet the most expensive military force in the world cannot conquer this “third-rate” enemy!

Our once Great Nation is now a wholly owned subsidiary of multi-national corporations who could care less about protecting our borders or insuring our American workers have decent incomes! They would rather “outsource” American jobs to third-world countries so “their” shareholders can earn a dividend!

The result is an uncontrolled inflationary spiral that has placed a great many financial hardships on the American people.

The tragic events of 9/11 “stopped the world” for a day -- its aftermath will continue to change the world for generations to come.

Charles E. Bishop
Burleson, Texas

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A Framework for People for a Democratic Society - D. Hamilton and P. Spencer

PDS - Basic analysis:

The citizens of the USA comprise roughly 4% of the world's total population, but we currently consume 25% of the world's resources and products. This disparity is untenable in the long term and unjust, regardless.

The USA became the dominant economic power in the world by virtue of the 20th century wars that decimated its potential imperial rivals. Our chief global economic rival, Europe, embraced a culture that rejected war as a means of conflict resolution, as a result of these wars. The USA then consolidated its dominion by becoming the world's leading military power due to the fact that it outlasted its main military rival in the Cold War.

The US projects power though a system of post-colonial neo-imperialism (i.e., economic colonies under the management of compliant, local bourgeoisie without the administrative costs of true colonies). US society has largely become a warfare state, an economy dependent on the catalyst of government military spending. In the recent past the more insightful American political leaders have indulged the domestic working class in the spoils of imperial conquest just enough to tie them to the nationalist crusade.

Outside its residual dominance in military technology, all the factors that led to American dominance are diminishing. Other countries and regional blocs are becoming comparable economic powers, and none are friendly to continued US supremacy. Collectively, they point toward the return to a multi-polar world. This is incompatible with a US ruling class that clings to its role as the "last superpower", able to enforce its will unilaterally and with impunity.

The US manufacturing base has largely been sent overseas in pursuit of cheaper labor. Financially, the US wallows in debt, most of it owed to potential rivals. The military now finds itself eroded, with plenty of guns, but few who volunteer out of principle to carry them. As only youth with limited prospects can be induced by ever-growing financial rewards to put on the uniform, it becomes an army of mercenaries in search of justification.

Another major byproduct of our unrestrained capitalism and its venal leadership is environmental destruction. The recent flooding of New Orleans, triggered by government-denied global warming and created by a careless incompetence is a case-in-point. Environmental degradation is also a crucial ingredient in societal collapse, because the effects lead to hunger, disease, and territorial aggression.

The twilight of the era of American dominion has begun. The future will be one of reduced US power and wealth relative to the rest of the world. Doubtless, however, those in the most privileged positions of American society and their deluded minions will defend privilege with all their resources. A militaristic reaction is a typical response to the decline of empire. This reaction is already evident in the Bush administration and among those who support it.

As citizens of the world living in the heart of danger, how can we react in order to advance our values of peace, justice, and equality? An essential element of this effort must be that it is international. The struggle solely within the national context of home-country of an empire in decline cannot succeed. However, this domestic struggle is crucial to the future of humanity.

Unless the empire can reform so as to be a better global citizen, the potential for catastrophe is high, if not inevitable.

People for a Democratic Society 15 Point Program

  1. End militarism and support powerful international institutions for conflict resolution.

  2. End poverty via progressive taxation to support provision of basic services (clean water, sanitation, basic food, healthcare, affordable housing).

  3. Gender equality.

  4. Racial equality.

  5. Gay and lesbian equal rights, not subject to majoritarian limitations.

  6. Two-year, universal public service (military, healthcare service, infrastructure construction labor, emergency services).

  7. Free public education through college, including related child-care.

  8. Clean air, soil, and surface water.

  9. Development of “alternative” energy sources (solar, wind, wave, etc.).

  10. Affordable, environmentally-sensitive public transportation.

  11. Proportional representation.

  12. Equal justice for all.

  13. Socialism for “commodities” (insurance, banking, steel, oil, power).

  14. Support co-ops for agricultural products from production through retail via tax breaks.

  15. Legalize, control, tax all drugs.

David Hamilton and Paul Spencer

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