Friday, August 31, 2007

Bin Laden Trade

Stock Market Conspiracy

Here's an explanation of the stock options move which indicates someone is betting huge money that the economy will soon crash by September 21.
This is the link to the information and other 911 type threats. Who knows for sure, but it is best to pay attention.
HUGE SALE OF OPTION CONTRACTS ON $4.5 BILLION WORTH OF STOCKS BETTING THE MARKET WILL LOSE 30%-50% OF ITS VALUE IN FOUR WEEKS! THIS SALE ON THE SPY.X AND THE ONE FROM YESTERDAY ON THE SPY.Y (MENTIONED TWO STORIES BELOW) ARE BEING REFERRED-TO BY FOLKS IN THE MARKET AS "BIN LADEN TRADES" BECAUSE ONLY AN ACT OF TERRORISM AKIN TO 9-11 (WITHIN THE NEXT FOUR WEEKS) COULD MAKE THESE OPTIONS VALUABLE. There are 65,000 contracts @ $750.00 for the SPX 700 calls for open interest. That controls 6.5 million shares at $750 = $4.5 Billion. Not a single trade. But quite a bit of $$$ on a contract that is 700 points away from current value. No one would buy that deep "in the money" calls. No reason to. So if they were sold looks like someone betting on massive dislocation. Lots of very strange option activity that I haven't seen before.
The entity or individual offering these sales can only make money if the market drops 30%-50% within the next four weeks. If the market does not drop, the entity or individual involved stands to lose over $1 billion just for engaging in these contracts! Clearly, someone knows something big is going to happen BEFORE the options expire on Sept. 21.
The following theories are being discussed widely within the stock and options markets today regarding the enormous and very unusual activity reported above and two stories below. Those theories are: 1) A massive terrorist attack is going to take place before Sept. 21 to tank the markets, OR; 2) China, reeling over losing $10 Billion in bad loans to the sub-prime mortgage collapse presently taking place, is going to dump US currency and tank all of Capitalism with a Communist financial revolution.
Either scenario is bad and the clock is ticking. The drop-dead date of these contracts is September 21. Whatever is going to happen MUST take place between now and then or the folks involved in these contracts will lose over $1 billion for having engaged in this activity.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Truth from Venezuela

The Immigration Problem:
What problem? Whose problem?

By Jesús A. RivasAug 21, 2007, 09:45

Dr. Jesús Rivas is a research biologist in the field of behavioral ecology and conservation of large tropical reptiles of the llanos of Venezuela which is his homeland.

For more than a year now the US has been regularly talking about the crisis over illegal immigration and the topic seems to recur in the news every now and then. Early 2006 Senartor James Sensenbrenner presented a draft for bill that made a crime simple immigration offenses. This law also proposed to make a felony to give work, help or assist in any way to an illegal immigrant. Although there was no apparent opposition to the law in the congress the day that it was going to be approved, there were extemporaneous massive demonstrations all over the country in just every large city. This demonstrations had not only many legal as well as illegal immigrants but also a considerable part of citizens from both sides of the isle that worried about the problem that the lack of immigrants could bring to their economies and ways of living. Since then we have seen in the congress considerable performance of conservatives and liberals appealing to their base capitalizing on the immigrant issue. Even a compromise position seem to have emerged that pretty much validates the status quo. I want to take a little time trying to read between the lines and the political stunts of actors in both parties and try to see the deeper implication of it.


When trying to figure out a problem it is important to disentangle the real causes from some of their consequences. This is important because unless we address the root of the problems we are bound to have little success in finding a solution for it. The United States is so enwrapped in being the greatest country in the world that for the average US citizen (here after USites to differentiate from those citizens of this continent that were born South or North of the border) it might come as a surprise that most people would not really want to come to the US if they had another choice. Most immigrants that come make that decision despite many things they hold dear; their family, culture, home town and friends, just to mention a few. So why do they come? The answer is clear, there are better economic possibilities coming to the US than in those countries.

This simple observation would dictate immediately what a simple lasting solution for the problem will be. It is not bigger and better walls, nor larger and more comprehensive guest-worker programs nor any of the solutions you hear on this debate. The only thing that can stem the flow of immigrants into the US is simply if the living conditions in those countries improved to the point at which it is not worth up rooting themselves to come to another country. I am certainly not talking about setting up maquilladoras and sweatshops as economic alternatives. I am talking about providing the would-be-immigrants with real economic choices that respect their dignity and desire of having a good status of living. Of course this is not a solution that is being discussed in the debate because it seems as if that is not in the control of the US, the USites, or US politicians. Whether this is true or not is a matter for further discussion that I will not address here.

There is, of course, another way to definitely stop the flow of immigrants into the US. If the living conditions in the US were to deteriorate to the point at which poverty and economic toil are comparable to that of those developing countries they will stop coming as well, but this is certainly not what we want to do out of choice (although it seems we could count on the neocons to try this solution). So I want to set the record straight: the only two real solutions are not things that we can do easily or want to do for our own sake. In the remaining of this essay I will review whose interests are hurt by illegal immigration, who benefits from the Sensenbrener law. This will shed some light on the origin of how this immigration issue, which has been around for several years, has taken such important position on the recent current events.


These questions may seem silly because it is clear that 11 million immigrants in the country are bound to produce problems. However, the question really is - a problem for whom? Who hurts from the immigration of all these people into the country? Different groups of the political spectrum may see different problems and have different answers.

The immigrants

The immigrants have less than a perfect situation when they come. For an example I will refer to the case of the Mexican immigrants as they are the most important contributors to illegal immigration but the situation is fairly similar with most other countries. They need to pay 2 or 3 thousand dollars for the coyotes to smuggle them in and this in itself can be a dangerous undertaking even for those that pay the fee, as the coyotes often take advantage of them once they are in the US. The ones that chose to chance it through the desert face clearly more dangers as evidenced by the many people that die or are found all almost dead trying to cross the border from Mexico.

Once the immigrant arrives here, his (most of them are men) life is not necessarily easy. Immigrants generally work very long hours on hard jobs, they are often underpaid, they live in crowded conditions to save money in accommodation, so they have more left to send home or for themselves when they go back. Unlike as often argued in the public media, they do not enjoy the public benefits the country offers because, this might come as a surprise to most USites, the country does not offer a whole lot of public benefits!! The few that are available such as medicare, social security, food stamps and so on are very restricted to US citizens that need to show specific identification and papers in order to receive them. Not even legal immigrants have access to them so the fallacy that illegal immigrants squander the public services of the US citizens is simply a ploy to manipulate the middle class that do not understand those issues.

Furthermore, most immigrants “purchase” a phony social security card, that gives them a fake Social Security Number for them to apply for jobs but they never see the benefits of the money they pay into social security. They have taxes and social security collected out of their pay checks but because their social security numbers are not legitimate, they will not benefit from social security and they do not have any hope of getting a tax refund at the end of the year. So instead of being a burden on the public services of the country, they improve the life of the regular USites and they do not see anything in return.

However, bad as the situation of the immigrants is, they are not the ones who started the whole problem. Their involvement in public demonstrations were rather a reaction to the proposed resolution by senator James Sensenbrenner.

Average Joe (and Jane)

As seen, the immigrants are not complaining for the hardships they need to endure. How about the common USite?. Do immigrants harm the livelihood of the regular citizens and people that live in the US? The answer seems to be that they do not as suggested by the large amount of people (including a large number of USites) that joined demonstrations when they happened. In fact the large numbers of immigrants that live in the US provide their work force for a lot less money than it is worth. This cheaper labor reflects in cheaper prices for the commodities they work on whether it is construction, picking produce, landscaping, domestic labor, services and so on.

So the regular USite actually benefits from the availability of cheap labor the illegal immigrant provides. This is on top of that already mentioned fact that citizens benefit from the portion of taxes and contribution that many immigrants have removed from their paychecks and never benefit from. This applies whether you are a liberal or a conservative. So, what demographic benefits with the Sensenbrenner resolution?

Mexico (or country of origin)

Neither the people of the US or the immigrants have any problem. Does the country of origin have a problem with the illegal immigration? The answer is also: no. The immigrants live in the US with very little money so they can send substantial amount of money to their country of origin. Remittances by their nationals is the second largest source of income for Mexico and the largest income for several other Latin American countries (notably El Salvador). So the countries of origin actually see quite a burst in their economy thanks to the fact that their nationals are working in the US.

The US government and Corporate USA

I will discuss these two together because, unfortunately, they are very close to each other and their interests are for most part, very similar. As mentioned before the illegal workers pay taxes that they never collect or benefit from so all that money goes untouched for the federal reserves. The corporations that can hire extra cheap labor clearly benefit from having illegal immigrants that would work for lower wages than what they would have to pay for legal workers. Furthermore, thanks to the larger income that people in Mexico experience due to remittances they have more capacity to acquire US made commodities. So thanks to the free trade areas the US companies have experienced a lot of benefits from having wealthier Mexicans that can buy their commodities. So the presence of illegal immigrants means economic benefits through and through; for anybody and for every body. Who is complaining? Who does not benefit from all this flow of illegal immigrants?

There is a group of people that actually hurts with illegal immigrants. The lower class of USites. The poorest, with lowest education, the ones that would obtain those jobs that are taken by the illegal immigrants. The working class of the US is competing with unfairly low wages paid to the immigrants. Clearly, the companies will never want to pay good wages for farm labor so long as there are people willing to do it for little money. The working classes of USites clearly suffer from having fewer jobs and having companies willing to pay less money for the different jobs they are qualified to do. Now, was it the reason all this trouble got started? Is that the demographic that senator Sensenbrenner had in mind when he drafted his resolution? The extreme right wing of the Republican Party seems hardly the place where we would expect concern for the working classes. We just need to keep in mind that among the right wing conservatives we have the classical conservatives and the Neoconservatives that are indeed, very different at heart. We may be inclined to think that this debate comes out of racism and bigotry, but we would be distracted by this and not look at the real motive of the law. It is true that you need to be pretty racist to make illegal immigration a crime, and it seems like a strong deterrent intended to keep illegal immigrants out of the country using excessive force against them. However, most immigrants hardly know there is a difference between a crime and a smaller offense under current US law. The illegal immigrants are scared to death of being caught anyway, and they try as hard as they can not to be caught. The threat of jail will add little deterrent for those that are willing to risk their lives challenging the desert to come to the US illegally.


There are basically three positions on a continuum that goes from most liberal to most conservative. In one end we have some radical positions that want to stop immigrants from coming all together. This is the position of the most self-righteous USite that feels that they do not need anybody coming here, the classical conservative. However, closing the border will hurt the economic benefits that we all receive from the immigrant's labor. We also have the position of the most liberal people who believed that the immigrants should be given a path to citizenship in acknowledgment for their services to the country. This position, amnesty, although much fairer, has also its caveats, for the economy and even for the immigrants. When the illegal workers become legal they will start expecting better payments, their labor will become more expensive for the employers and it will no longer be attractive.

Once the illegal worker is a resident they will want to bring along the rest of the family and children so the crowded apartment where they used to stay with other workers as an illegal immigrant will not suffice. They will will have to rent a regular apartment for their family; this family that had plenty with the remittances that they sent when they lived in Mexico, will start needing more money for their US lives. In short the money that the former illegal immigrant will have less acquisitive value than it used to have. The illegal immigrant will join the working classes in the US, the poorest of the poorest, and will not necessarily be better off than he is now.

The third position is something pretty much of the likes of the status quo with a work program where the workers can still come under some restrictions and do pretty much what they do now, but legally. Notice that this position has been found as a compromise when the immigrants and their sympathizers took to the streets demonstrating against the Sensenbrenner law but it was nobody's original position. This would keep just about everybody happy except from the working classes that will then face a more fierce competition because at least with the current system some jobs are not available for the illegal immigrants. Once they have a guest working program, the lower classes of USites will really be facing a completely unfair competition at every level.

In view of this analysis the question remains What was the demographic that the Sensenbrenner law was trying to cater to? It is true that some conservative politicians had the opportunity to rally their base by attacking immigrants but this is only a pre-election stunt and not a real matter of policy since even the conservative politicians benefit from cheap labor and their consequences. Many of my fellow liberals would probably answer that it is because of the reign of bigots and racists that are controlling the country now-a-days. But I need to warn my fellow liberals not to be distracted since racism, bigotry are insults for people that think like us but not for the extreme conservatives or neocons. In order to keep the eyes on the ball we need to think of who is ruling the country and what they care about.


The only thing that Sensenbrenner law will accomplish is to incarcerate the immigrant and to keep them in jail. A regular conservative of the like of, say Pat Buchanan, would argue that this is not in the best interest of the country because of the bureaucracy and expenses of keeping people in jail. But we need to remember that the country is not being run by conservative people. We are in the talons of the neoconservatives. We may be inclined to think that the neocons are moved by despicable feelings such as bigotry, elitist exclusion, religious fundamentalism, other forms of racisms or xenophobias and although these are all regularly accurate adjectives for neocons they are never the reasons that move their acts.

Neocons never let their feelings (racism, bigotry, supremacy, etc) get in the way of their money; they would not move a finger unless there is a lot of it involved. Their racism, xenophobia and so on are also present and that is the reason they do not stop at the racist aspect of certain actions but it is never the reason that moves the neocons (for more details on the mind of neocons see Rivas 2006). Stopping illegal immigration would satisfy their bigotry but it would hurt their pockets. So, How would keeping the immigrant in jail help the agenda of the neocons?


Many USites are not aware of the existence and functioning of the prison industrial complex (PIC). Many prisons are actually run by private companies. The government pays some private enterprise to manage the prisons. These enterprises then may have the inmates work on several activities. In theory, having the inmates work while they were in jail provides them with a blue print to be reinserted in society by the time they get out. However we have come a long way from that well meaning scenario.

As the country spins into a more intensive capitalistic agenda, the system has been spun such that labor of the inmates has became an important source of capital and now many prisons are big time sources for free/cheap labor for the corporations that manage them. There is a broad range of activities that are conducted by inmates while they are in jail. The use of the labor or prisoners goes from building highways, picking up garbage, crop collection, data entry, telephone reservations, animal husbandry, factory workers or any other way in which we can use cheap labor. So the prisons are outsourced to private companies that receive money from the tax payers to run them and in exchange use the labor of the inmates to the best convenience of the prison manager. This is a perfect investment as the tax payers pick up the bill of supporting the jails and the manager benefits from the labor of the inmates. The ideal dream for a neocon!! (see Davis 2003 for more details of the prison industrial complex).


Think what the Sensenbrenner law means under this light. There are about 11 million illegal immigrant workers that can be incarcerated if the Sensenbrenner law is approved. It is 11 million good hard workers whose labor can be appropriated with the stroke of a pen. This is the perfect kind of non-violent "offender", that the PIC wants. One that works hard, that can endure hardships, that has no rights or anybody who cares about them among the influential elites of the country; and with the added benefit that they are not criminals at all so they are safe to handle out of the jails, in the field or wherever their labor is needed.

Think of all the money that the immigrants are sending home with their remittance adding up to billions of dollars a year. The Sensenbrenner law would make it possible for the PIC to pocket a substantial part of it. The working of the society would not change much, as the cheap labor of the workers will still be there to be hired for crop picking, for landscaping and for just about every other service. Except that this time the money goes to the neocon that manages the prison and not to the families of the workers over seas. In these terms the average Joe does not suffer higher prices of lack of labor so long as the labor from the immigrant is still available from the prisons. The immigrants would be restrained and out of everybody's life, only ready to serve when they are needed. What I am talking about is a new way of revisiting slavery in the 21rst century.

Just as neoliberalism is giving an opportunity to re-colonize countries that had attained their freedom by making them give away their sovereignty and decision making about the policies of their own countries (this is what free trade really means, Perkins 2004), this is the other side of the coin. The free trade agreements are a way to sequester the productive force of their citizens when they are over seas in maquilladoras and sweatshops. The Sensenbrenner law is a way to highjack the work force of the people that come to the US (escaping the maquilladoras) and make them work without paying for their labor.

We can find the mark of the neocons all over as we examine the Sensenbrenner law. Not only the potential for making an obscene amount of money, there also is the effect of blatant inconsideration of the immigrant who may be imprisoned without committing any crime; there is also the element of fear, such a common tool used by the neocons, in that provision that makes a crime also to provide help or hiring any immigrant. This is clearly to put pressure on the USites to use the services of the PCI over that of illegal immigrants that dare to stay in the country after the law is passed. So in one swift move the Sensenbrenner law provides the labor and the customer for the PIC; a master plan.


Of course thanks to the massive demonstrations the congress had to stop on the last minute the proposed law but this does not mean that the law, or the intention of the law, was defeated. Since the Sensenbrenner law was repealed there have been new adjustments to the system in order to still attain its goal. With the lack of habeas corpus and the patriot act that removes any right of immigrants to a fair trial or prison limits, the stage is still set up for the PIC to benefit from their labor as if the law had been approved. Even if some guest working program was approved, so long as the immigrants can be imprisoned without cause, there is nothing preventing the neocons to continue their plans.

This policy of no tolerance towards immigration also has many benefits for the war mongering that the neocons rely on. With continuous drops in recruitments for a voluntary army and the obvious problems for USites if there were to be a new draft, the immigrants come again as to supply the labor that USites would not. With the threat of prison and enslavement, it would be easier for the military to recruit immigrants that are willing to pay the price of going to war in exchange of citizenship. These programs are already in place and we should expect them to increase in importance and support from the administration. From 11 million immigrants it should not be difficult to recruit at least the half a million soldiers needed to, say, invade Iran or any other needs of imperial expansion.

It is true that you need to have a high dose of bigotry to concoct a plan such as the one described but bigotry is not enough, neither is it the driving force. You need to have the drive for the money and disregard for any values that you only find in a neocon. So long as we only get outraged by the implicit racism in the moves of the neocons we stop there and do not take it any further. We need to see beyond the smoke screen in order to stop the neocons from advancing their agenda. Screaming bigot does not help protect the immigrants from slavery. Denouncing their plan and blowing the whistle on their agenda shows the true nature of their actions and it is more likely to produce the mayoritary support needed for effective action. The followers of the neocons certainly relishes racist and fundamentalis positions but that is not the force that move the neocons. The real leaders of the pack have a much better thought out plan and until we uncover it we will not defeat them.


Davis, A. Y. 2003. Are prisons obsolete? Seven Stories Press, New York.

Perkins, J. 2004. Confessions of an economic hit man. Berret-Koehler Publisher Inc., San Francisco.

Rivas, J. A. 2006. Understanding the minds of the neocons: Oil wars, attacks on the Venezuelan revolution and the corruption of US democracy. Vheadlines

Jesús A. Rivas is a biologist from the Universidad Central de Venezuela. His research interests include natural history, ethology, and conservation. He has been working for a number of years in the study of behavioral ecology and conservation of large tropical reptiles of the llanos of Venezuela which is his homeland. He obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee (Laboratory of Reptile Ethology). He taught for one year at Boston University, made TV documentaries for National Geographic Television as a field correspondent and continues to make independent film documentaries. He is currently Assistant Professor in the Department of Math and Natural Sciences at Somerset Community College in Somerset, KY. He is also a prolific writer on social and political matters. His essays are frequently published in Spanish at

Read more about his interesting background at:

He can be reached at: Visit his website at:

Other articles by Jesús A. Rivas

Environmental Conservation and Socialism. A Conservationist Manifesto for the Venezuela's revolution
Jesús A. Rivas , -Axis of Logic

Jesús A. Rivas , -Axis of Logic (Original in Spanish at Apporea)

Rivas, J. A. 2007a. Demografía y conservación: ¿Cuantos somos, cuantos necesitamos y cuantos cabemos? Aporrea

Rivas, J. A. 2007b. La conservación ambiental y el Socialismo: ensayo para un manifiesto conservacionista. Encontrarte 55:1-20 disponible en

Rivas, J. A. 2007c. La diferencia entre el socialismo y el capitalismo: mas allá de las relaciones de producción. Aporrea

Rivas, J. A., and R. Lavieri. 2007. El manejo social del Latifundio y la conservación del medio ambiente. Aporrea

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

American Falsehoods

Burning the Law in a Riot of Treason

By William Rivers Pitt
Monday 27 August 2007

As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there's a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness. - Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas

The departure of Alberto Gonzales from the Attorney General's Office brings America to a place of definitions, and hanging in the balance is the very idea of the nation itself. The basic concepts and fundamental principles of our republic now stand as the only legitimate considerations going forward, for they have been tested almost to annihilation already, and will not endure much longer if we continue on this path. It is the mythology within the Declaration of Independence we speak of, the fiction that tells us we are endowed with rights, and that those rights are unalienable. This falsehood has been vividly exposed in the last several years, and it has been a harsh lesson indeed. All the rights we hold dear and believe to be our greatest strength are, in fact, only words on old paper with neither force nor power. The next line - "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed" - is the muscle behind the myth, the core that has endured a withering assault. Matters are so much worse than our national political dialogue lets on. The resignation of Gonzales has unleashed a torrent of hard words and harsh criticisms aimed at the deplorable nature of his tenure, but the truth of it continues to elude mention. They call Gonzales an incompetent, a crony, a loyalist, a disgrace, leaving off the one word necessary to fully explain who he is, and what he was engaged in before he stepped down. Alberto Gonzales is a traitor. That is the only word to explain it. He is not the only one; there are many more traitors like him in the Bush administration, criminals joined in an act of treason so vast and comprehensive that it beggars comparison. Nothing quite like this has ever before been attempted in America, and if they are allowed to succeed, there will be nothing of what defines America left to be seen. Gonzales and his Bush administration collaborators have committed their treason against the rule of law itself, a crime so absolute that it is technically not illegal. There is no code, ordinance or law specifically forbidding the total ruination of all our rights and protections; the act is neither felony nor misdemeanor, because nobody ever considered the black-letter necessity of making it illegal to destroy the rule of law. But there is no America without that rule of law - no rights, no protections, no Constitution; there is nothing, and if you destroy the rule of law, you destroy the idea that is America itself. The only word for a crime like that is treason, and those who would dare commit it are traitors. Gonzales and his Bush administration collaborators have done more than dare. They have been pursuing it, with deliberation and intent, throughout each moment of their tenure. Their treason is not in the actual crimes they have committed, but in the way they have chosen to avoid accountability for them. Their treason is not their refusal to obey the Freedom of Information Act, but in their insistence that they are above the application of that law. Their treason is not in their refusal to obey subpoenas from Congress, but in their claim that they are above the laws behind those subpoenas. Their treason is not that they fired United States attorneys and then refused to come clean about it, but that they decimated the impartiality of the Department of Justice and turned the rule of law into another partisan weapon. Their treason is not the NSA surveillance of Americans, but their steadfast refusal to submit to the governing laws and the requirement of oversight. When George W. Bush asserted a claim of Executive Privilege that made him and his administration immune to all laws and oversight, that was an act of treason because it shattered the rule of law. When Dick Cheney asserted that the Office of the Vice President was not part of the Executive Branch, because he did not want to obey the laws requiring him to hand over official documents to the Archives, that was an act of treason because it shattered the rule of law. When Alberto Gonzales chose to surrender the independence of the Department of Justice so he could protect those assertions, that was an act of treason because it shattered the rule of law. Americans have only the rights they are able to protect and defend. Our rights are nothing more than ideas; only theory and argument on parchment all too easily burned to ashes. The power of those rights is only found in our collective submission to the rule of law, and submission to that rule of law is all that stands between our freedoms and the conflagration of tyranny. Without the rule of law, there is no America. That is the treason of Alberto Gonzales, and the treason of the Bush administration entire. They have attacked and undercut the rule of law by refusing to submit to it, and in doing so have brought us to the edge of appalling infamy. Theirs is a crime without peer, and we will be fortunate beyond measure if we are able to recover from it. The fact that Alberto Gonzales has left is meaningless in the main, because the treason he participated in continues in his absence. If the damage is to be repaired, he must be replaced by someone who will submit to the main imperative, someone who will submit to the rule of law, someone with real independence and unbending respect for the idea that is America. Gonzales must not be replaced by another crony or yes-man, because Americans have only those rights we can protect and defend, and another traitor in that lofty post is no protection at all. Gonzales was more than a poor steward of this trust. He was a traitor among traitors. If the rule of law is to stand, the treason he helped commit must be ended, and a patriot must take his place.
William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: "War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know" and "The Greatest Sedition Is Silence." His newest book, "House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation," is now available from PoliPointPress.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Leon Trotsky

Deutcher's Prophet Armed


While the Menchivics were arguing how to transfer Russia from feudal to capitalistic in nature, and the Second International was entering its recessionary crisis (plenty of different political & ideological reasons), a 25 year old foresaw, through his expertise in Historical Materialism and under the studies of Parvus that the seeds to establisk a Soviet is possible due to plenty of reasons. When the first Soviet (Workers Council) was built in 1905, Lenin and Julius Martove go "what is that". When the revolution ended, it ended with Trotsky's head up while the Tsarist army baffled that this young fellow was the transformer of a simple demonstration to the 2nd workers' revolutions and established the Second Workers' Council after the Paris Commune of 1871.

This piece is taken from Isaac Deutcher's Prophet Armed timeless masterpiece, that depicts the very end of the first Soviet (Second compared to Paris Commune), and how its organizer got arrested. The 1905 revolution was about to end with the Tsar's army entering the Soviet HQ, Trotsky at such a young age, 26, successfuly transformed a demonstration to a revolution and established the first Soviet in the history. The 21st Century Communists should learn from their history, and above all how the ideology is placed in the service of the Marxist Revolutionary. This is the second post about probably one of the most important figures/thinkers of Communism, and the saver of the Marxist doctrine from being misunderstood as Stalin's Mother Russia, I published the article last year, and thought it would be a good idea to republish it in the honor of a man who sacrificed everything for the sake of the Proletariat:

The Arrest

"From a balcony Trotsky shouted to the delegates: 'Comrades, offer no resistence. We declare beforehand that only an agent provocateur or a policeman will fire a shot here!" He instructed the delegates to break the locks of their revolvers befure surrendering them to the police. Then he resumed his chair at the Executive's conference.

A trade-union spokesman was just declaring his union's readiness ot join in the general strike, when a detachment of soldiers and police occupied the corridors. A police officer entered the room where the Executive was sitting and began to read a warrant of arrest. It was now only a question whether the Soviet would carry its own weakness and humilation with dignity. Resistence was ruled out. But should they surrender meekly, gloomy-faced, without a sign of defiance? Trotsky's pride and his sense of stage effect would not perit him to preside over so flat and disheartening a scene. But he could not afford any serious act of defiance, he could relieve the gloom of the situation only with humour. And so he turned the last scene of this spectacle into a witty burlesque of a bold performance. As the police officer, facing the Executive, began to read the warrant of arrest, Trostsky sharply interrupted him: "Please do not interfere with the speaker. If you wish to take the floor, you must give your name and I shall ask the meeting whether it wishes to list to you."

The perplexed officer, not knowing whether he was being mocke at or whether he should expect armed resistence, waited fo rthe trade-union delegate to end his speech. Then Trotsky gravely asked the Executive whether he should allow the officer to make a statement "for the sake of information". The officer read the warrant, and Trotsky proposed that the Executive should acknowledge it and take up the next item on it agenda. Another speaker rose.

"Excuse me", the police officer, disconcerted by this unheard of behavior, stammered and turned towards Trotsky, as if for help.

"Please do not interfere", Troskty sharply rebuked him. "You have had the floor; you have made your statement; we have acknowledged it. Does the meeting to have further dealings with the policeman?"


"Then, please, leave the hall."

The officer shuffled his feet, muttered a few words and left. Trotsky called upon the members of the Executive to destroy all documents and not to reveal their names to the police. From the hall below rose the clangour of broken revolver-locks-the delegates were carrying out Troskty's order.

The police officer re-entered, this time leading a platoon of soldiers. A member of the Executive rose to address the soldiers: The Tsar, he said, was at this very moment breaking the promise of the October Manifesto; and they, the soldiers, were allowing themselves to be used as his tools against the people. The officer, afraid of the effect of the words, hurriedly led the soldiers out into the corridor and shot the door behind them. "Even through closed doors", the speaker raised his vice, "the brotherly call of the workers will reach the soldiers."

At length, a strong detachment of police entered, and Trotsky declared the meeting of the Executive closed.

Thus after fifty days ended the epic of the first Soviet in history."

taken from Isaac Deutcher, Prophet Armed Trosky 1879 - 1921 ( Verso, 2003), p. 118 - 119

Monday, August 20, 2007

Propaganda 101 #1

Flim Flamming Wikipedia

On Aug 15, 2007 there was an article called Wikipedia 'shows CIA page edits' in BBC News. An online tool that claims to reveal the identity of organizations that edit Wikipedia pages has revealed that the CIA was involved in editing entries. One page in particular that was altered was about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the current President of Iran.

Wikipedia feels that there is an inherent incompatibility between the purpose of Wikipedia to produce a neutral, verifiable encyclopedia, and the purposes of an individual editor. Due to this, Wikipedia has a policy that disallows conflicts of interest in editing a Wikipedia page. For example, an editor cannot edit his own page, or that of the company he/she works for.

Anyone can edit Wikipedia. Wikipedia allows editing either using a registered nickname or anonymously. Registered users are confirmed by e-mail and enjoy a few more privileges. Anonymous edits are recorded against an IP address. That IP address can be looked-up using a freely available whois tool to identify the owner and the IP address of the domain.

To detect where anonymous edits using only an IP address are coming from, a guy named Virgil Griffith developed the Wikipedia scanner. The tool is available for anyone's use at to detect anonymous edits of Wikipedia.

The Wikiscanner tool has been used to detect the following:
# White-washing articles to change the bias of and article to be more favorable. This is common for political figures.
# Wholesale removal of entire paragraphs from pages about corporations and political figures
# Adding negative information to a competitor's page.

It turns out that not only the CIA edits Wikipedia pages, but employees at companies. For example, Walmart, Exxon and a few Republican operatives have been doing a lot of editing of their own pages. Here is a sample of a few of their edits.

In this example, an edit from Walmart whitewashes where contracting firms acting in their behalf underpaid their janitors.
"...Many of the janitors worked seven days a week without overtime pay or injury compensation. To settle criminal charges relating to these incidents, Wal-Mart paid $11 million in March 2005 without admitting wrongdoing or liability. Several of the custodial services firms that employed the illegal immigrants pled guilty to criminal charges."

was changed to
"...Many of the janitors worked seven days a week without overtime pay or injury compensation. To settle criminal charges relating to these incidents, Wal-Mart paid $11 million in March 2005 without admitting wrongdoing or liability. There were no charges brought against Wal-Mart or any of its associates. Several of the custodial services firms that employed the illegal immigrants pled guilty to criminal charges."

by an anonymous wikipedia editor whose IP address is The IP address resolves to one belonging to "Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. WAL-MART-3 (NET-161-165-0-0-1)"

Another example is this edit:

"As with many US retailers, Wal-Mart experiences a high rate of employee turnover (approximately 50% of employees leave every year, according to the company). Wages at Wal-Mart are about 20% less than at other retail stores. Founder [[Sam Walton]] once argued that his company should be exempt from the [[minimum wage]]. (Palast, 121)"

was changed to
"As with many US retailers, Wal-Mart experiences a high rate of employee turnover (approximately 50% of employees leave every year, according to the company). The average wage at Wal-Mart is almost double the federal minimum wage (Wal-Mart). However, founder [[Sam Walton]] once argued that his company should be exempt from the [[minimum wage]]. (Palast, 121)."

by again the same editor from Walmart using IP address While both statements may be true, the second statement is more favorable because the average wages include corporate salararies as well. Note that the change is still referenced to Greg Palast's article.

Under the History section Walmart ads this little piece of propaganda:

"* 2005 Wal-Mart launches to set the record straight regarding inaccurate information being spread by critics."

Under the local impacts section, Walmart adds the following:
"The most definitive look at this issue, by Dr. Emek Basker at the University of Missouri, showed average increases of 50 retail jobs in communities five years after the entry of Wal-Mart."

"The typical Supercenter raises or gives $30,000 to $50,000 a year to local charitable needs ranging from youth programs to literacy councils. In fact, Wal-Mart is the largest corporate cash contributor in America. In fiscal year ending 2005, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. and the Wal-Mart & SAM'S CLUB Foundation contributed more than $170 million to support communities and local non-profit organizations. More than 90 percent of cash donations from Wal-Mart Stores and the Wal-Mart & SAM'S CLUB Foundation target local communities. In 2004, Wal-Mart collected $11.3 billion in state and local sales taxes and paid millions in property taxes."

Exxon-Mobil also edits Wikipedia. For example an anonymous editor at IP address (Exxon in Houston, Texas) wholesale removed the following text:
" In 1991, following the collapse of the local [[marine biology|marine]] population (particularly [[clam]]s, [[herring]], and [[Seal (mammal)|seal]]s) the [[Chugach]] Native American group went [[bankruptcy|bankrupt]]."

And, the wiki editor white-washed this:
"The long-term effects of the oil spill have been studied. Thousands of animals perished immediately, the best estimates are: 250,000 sea birds, 2,800 sea [[otter]]s, 300 [[harbor seal]]s, 250 [[bald eagle]]s, up to 22 [[orca]]s, and billions of salmon and herring eggs. Though even as soon as a year later, one had to look carefully on most beaches to find any evidence of the spill. In the long term, declines have been observed in various marine populations, including stunted growth and indirect mortality increases in pink salmon populations. Sea otters and ducks also showed higher death rates years later, partly because they ate contaminated invertebrates. The animals also were exposed to oil when they dug up their prey in tainted soil."

"Researchers said some shoreline habitats, such as contaminated [[mussel beds]], could take up to 30 years to recover."

to this:
"Peer-reveiwed (sic) studies conducted by hundreds of scientists have confirmed that there has been no long-term severe impact to the [[Prince William Sound]] ecosystem. Thousands of species in Prince William Sound were never affected by the spill in the first place, or recovered quickly after the initial impact. As an example, six of the largest [[salmon]] harvests in history were recorded in the decade immediately following the spill."

Mark F. "Thor" Hearne, founder and general counsel for American Center for Voting Rights and a prominent attorney for Lathrop and Gage.

Hearne has managed to get a Wikipedia page about himself permanently deleted after making edits to his own page and the ACVR page using the IP address

According to the League of Women Voters, the ACVR was a front organization set up by a group of Republicans to push for voter identification laws. Once their goal was accomplished, the group was disbanded.

All these changes may seem minor on the surface, but when taken as a trend and not individual occasions, the truth can be bent. The lesson here - if you want to spread propaganda and you don't like what Wikipedia says about your organization, just change the truth the way you want it. However, a naked IP address can give away who you are. Instead, create a fake persona and then edit Wikipedia using one of the thousands of anonymous proxies out there. It also helps to source your propaganda changes to a "reputable source" - one you preferably own or where you've fed a story you need to fill the gap. At least don't get caught by the Wikiscanner.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Swastika Banned

Saturday August 4, 2007

An art car was pulled from the Snoqualmie Railroad Days parade due to the symbol on its roof.

Artist and musician Bruce 'salamandir' Salamandir-Feyrecilde's white 1996 Mazda Protegé is adorned with black Sanskrit characters and a colorful Hindu symbol on the roof, a Ganesha Yantra. The symbol is composed of a six-star with a central swastika decorated with a dot in each quadrant. Salamandir decorated his car in honor of the elephant faced God Ganesha, the Supreme Being that removes obstacles and ensures success in human endeavors. The Ganesha Yantra symbol is thousands of years old.

Needless to say, salamandir was incensed that his car was acceptable at the Fremont, Washington street fair just a few weeks ago and now could not be included in the Snoqualmie Railroad Days Parade.

So what's wrong? The parade staff thought it looked too much like a Nazi swastika and a Star of David. They did not want to upset anyone in their "family oriented" parade.

According to Salamandir's webpage "...the Swastika has also come to be associated with a symbol of the German national socialist party, also called "nazis". That doesn't change the ancient, sacred nature of the symbol in any way. However, and the fact that the Swastika is part of the artwork on Ganesha The Car does not indicate that I might be a supporter of the cause of Nazis or "white-supremacists", in any way." ... Swastika does not equal Nazi.

Incidentally, Falun Gong was asked to remove a banner with a swastika from their float as well. I was not offended by Salamandir's car, Falun Gong's swastika or their message. In fact, we should allow religious freedoms no matter how crazy or weird. Also, we should allow agnostics and atheists as well. It's part of teaching tolerance and respect for others - different races, religions, creeds, cultures, color, sex, sexual orientation and age.

What does offend me is what is openly said in squeaky-clean, wholesome, family-oriented and sanitized circles such as schools and churches: "We need to round-up the Islamo-Facist death cult Muslims and take them to Guantanamo Bay and torture them to death" But it's evident they are more concerned about symbols than actions and words.

I think that actions like banning Salamandir's car and Falun Gong's banner are rooted in ignorance, fear and a lack of schooling. I'm afraid this society has become morally bankrupt and has gained a disdain for individual freedoms, liberty and universal religious freedoms.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Migrant Nightmare

Migrants Live the American Nightmare

Guatemala's main newspaper, Prensa Libre, published an article entitled "Wave of Deportees". I recommend you read it in Spanish if you can, because it is written beautifully, but I have translated the article for those who only speak English. It chronicles what Guatemalan deportees are going through better than most English language media, but more importantly it tackles the issues no one speaks about: what all of this means for a nation like Guatemala. Very few people even consider the countries that people come from in the U.S. "immigration debate", and even fewer act on the increasing pressure that Emigration States are facing. When bettering Emigration States is the only real way that we are going to fix the problems associated with migration, it's kind of ridiculous the issue is hardly ever brought up, much less acted upon.

Both U.S. Progressives and Conservatives are guilty of neglecting Emigration States. Very few act in the true interests of Mexicans, Guatemalans, Salvadorans, Hondurans, etc. Progressives will often pick up a sexy issue, like when the Ejercito Zapatista de Liberacion Nacional rebelled against NAFTA, or more recently as locals have struggled to regain control of their sacred traditions in Oaxaca. Social conservatives will complain about the horrible working conditions for people in Emigration States only when their jobs are shipped abroad. But who's there for the people in this Prensa Libre article? They'll fight like hell for them while they're in the U.S. but when they're back home no one is there for them. Migration advocates are divided by national boundaries even though they are trying to deal with an international problem.

People will scream about families being seperated in the U.S. but where were they when the families were seperated in the first place as people decided to leave? People will yell about the deaths at the U.S. border but who brings to light the many deaths that occur before migrants even come close to the U.S.? Conservatives want to send migrants home but they don't realize they are forcing more people to leave in the process.

I try to advocate from a Guatemalan perspective but it's lonely, and as a privileged white male, I'm not the most effective advocate. Still I want to bring people's attention to one of issues that I have been bringing up since I started this blog. The Prensa Libre article on the 24,000 deportees that are going to be sent back to the country has some excellent analysis on what this means for Guatemala. Luis Linares, an analyst from the Guatemalan Association of Social Investigations and Studies (ASIES), has this to say:

For Luis Linares, analyst from ASIES, the increasing deportations are going to further aggravate the social situation in the country.

First, because everytime more unemployed people arrive in the country that need to find work, and because the families that depended on remittances from the United States are left without that income.

"The impact on the national economy might not seem notable, but for many families it is a serious problem," explained Linares.

He signaled that it will have a marked effect on the Central American region, now that the massive return of migrants is being noted in all of the countries on the Isthmus.

The challenge for the country, said Linares, is the creation of employment, both to make opportunities for the people that return and also to avoid having Guatemalans making the march abroad to look for resources.

U.S. deportation policies have ravaged the hemisphere. They have exported gangs that used to be relegated to Los Angeles, Mara 18 and Mara Salvatrucha, all over the hemisphere. Crime in places like Guatemala is skyrocketing, exceeding civil war levels, when over 200,000 people were killed. Just yesterday a Guatemalan mayor was killed (BBC article and Prensa Libre article), the eighth to be assasinated since 2003. And I'm not even talking about the economic consequences that Linares states very clearly up above. Not only are masses of unemployed people being dumped in the country but the people they used to support are now suffering. This is a crisis for Guatemala, bigger than anything that the United States is confronting.

What is even more frustrating is how simple the solution is. Guatemala's Ministry for External Relations is working on this program:

She insisted that considering the situation, Guatemalans should weigh very seriously the decision to march off to the United States, because they risk their lives and there is a good chance they will get deported. "They shouldn't leave because there is a lot of danger," said Altolaguirre.

The Ministry plans to start a complete program to assist deportees, this month, in which they will offer psychological and legal support, in addition to subsidies and assessment to help find employment, but they need 11 million quetzales.
For only 11 million quetzales, less than $1.5 million, you can drastically increase the support system for these migrants and at the very least help integrate them into a society that is not prepared to deal with them. Compare this with the $500 million that Colombia recieves in military aid, some of which goes to fund a batallion whose sole purpose is protecting a multinational petrochemical company. Compare this with the billions that the U.S. is spending on enforcement.

When are people going to start debating the things that really matter in the so-called U.S. "immigration debate"?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

La Culpa

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Strong Poor

Alejandra Barrios Richard
Mexico City's
Princess and the Paupers
A great-grandmother defends the turf of 5,000
street vendors in the capital's core.

[Here is an article about the struggle of the poor in Mexico. They are strong and organized and take care of themselves. This should be a lesson to all poor people who allow themselves to be pushed which ever way the government wants too. The poor have every much right to make a living the way they want to, and this is more important than any plans to rid an area of them so it looks prettier for the rich. This shows how one strong person can make a difference, and that people who give up trying contribute to their own fall.]

August 13, 2007

MEXICO CITY -- Fight your way through parts of downtown Mexico City and you'll understand why Mayor Marcelo Ebrard wants to clean up this town. Street vendors selling tacos, bootleg CDs and cut-rate clothing have converted the symbolic heart of Mexico into a gigantic swap meet.

His administration plans to relocate thousands of these bootstrap merchants, who block traffic, impede pedestrians, strew trash and evade taxes. But standing in his way is a 63-year-old ex-con and great-grandmother who has her own agenda.

That would be Alejandra Barrios Richard, leader of the largest association of sidewalk hawkers in the capital's historic center. Her 5,000-strong army occupies some of the most valuable real estate in Mexico, hard-won territory that the scrappy Barrios won't relinquish easily.

Over the last 30 years, she has risen from humble fruit seller to one of the most powerful street bosses in the city, using a formidable combination of personal charm, savvy negotiating skills and bare-knuckle brawling.

Her members have staged marches and sit-ins to protest police crackdowns on their operations. They have clashed with other vendor groups over turf; in 2003, Barrios was charged with the shooting death of the husband of a rival leader as part of one such dispute. She spent more than two years in a notorious Mexico City lockup before being released for lack of evidence.

The episode only added to her legend. Mariachis serenaded her from outside the prison walls on her birthday. Children prayed for her liberation. Barrios steadfastly proclaimed her innocence, emerging from the slammer to jubilant followers who greeted her like a conquering hero.

"When she walks these streets, people address her as 'Señora Alejandra,' " said Antonia Medina Espinoza, who sells gorditas and flautas in the city center. "They show respect."

Such loyalty infuriates business groups that say street hawkers are at the core of an underground economy that is swallowing entire industries in Mexico. It's estimated that, in the capital alone, as many as 500,000 ply their trade, providing a sales force for pirated music and movies, knockoff designer clothes and other fake goods.

The vendors undercut legitimate merchants and shortchange the government because they don't pay taxes, critics say. They degrade urban life by hijacking public spaces while enriching leaders such as Barrios, whose multimillion-dollar organization includes lawyers, accountants, even a publicist.

But Barrios has delivered for her followers, who pay "dues" to her to secure a piece of precious pavement. Her organization has built housing for vendors and offered them no-interest financing in a country where most would find it impossible to get a conventional mortgage. The group operates a low-cost preschool for members'

children and provides occasional bonuses such as food baskets.

Above all, Barrios has carved out a space for poor people to earn a living in an economy that has proved incapable of creating enough jobs for its citizens.

"The government gives them nothing," Barrios said. "They have confidence in me. I defend them."

A Mexico City native and fourth-generation vendor, Barrios got her start as a child, peddling plastic tablecloths in her family's stall. She moved on to frying pans, fresh fruit and some shadier stuff known as fayuca -- stolen goods or contraband merchandise smuggled into the country to avoid import duties.

Barrios' husband, Javier Sanchez Becera, said the couple got busted in 1982 with a truck full of smuggled stereo equipment and videocassettes brought from the United States. He said they both served nine months in prison in Monterrey, time Barrios used to earn her secundaria certificate, the equivalent of a ninth-grade diploma in the United States.

Jail is a familiar stop for Mexico's street vendors, many of whom have had run-ins with the law. Barrios said constant harassment and extortion by police led her to band together with a few dozen merchants in 1984 to defend themselves.

Barrios quickly emerged as leader of the Legitimate Civic and Commercial Assn., a transition that didn't surprise her husband, who has known her since they both were kids. He said the 5-foot-2-inch Barrios once made him stop the car so she could confront a man who was beating his wife on the street.

"She is brave," he said, shaking his head, laughing at the memory. "Tenacious."

But her political instincts and negotiating skills are what enabled her to prosper. A longtime member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party that ruled Mexico for 71 years until 2000, Barrios forged alliances with party officials that were beneficial for both sides, said Alfonso Hernandez, director of the Center for Tepito Studies and an expert on the capital's itinerant vendors.

He said the typical arrangement is that vendor leaders deliver votes and cash in exchange for public spaces for their members to operate without being hassled by authorities. With three dozen organizations and an estimated 12,000 hawkers operating in the historic center -- a 1.25-square-mile area that encompasses the famed central square known as the Zocalo -- competition is fierce.

Hernandez said Barrios, a handsome, charismatic woman, can more than hold her own.

"She knows how to give and how to get," he said.

Still, Barrios blames shifting political winds at City Hall for landing her in jail on the homicide rap. She said a rival vendor leader aligned with the Party of the Democratic Revolution, which now controls the city government, fingered Barrios for the shooting in an effort to move in on Barrios' territory.

"There are people who envy me," she said.

Small wonder. Barrios' members occupy some of the most heavily trafficked spaces in the city center. She said they paid 50 pesos a week -- about $4.65 -- to the organization for the privilege. Some vendors say they pay that much a day. Whatever the figure, Barrios denies speculation that she has become rich on the backs of the poor.

Although her eight children are involved in the business and have assumed many day-to-day responsibilities, Barrios says she still works six days a week and still lives in La Lagunilla, the rough neighborhood she grew up in near the city center.

She is particularly proud of the housing and education benefits that she has provided for members, a social safety net that some have likened to a parallel government. To date, the organization has built 199 apartments, with 38 more planned. Some vendors are paying installments as low as $46 a month to purchase their units, Sanchez said.

Guadalupe Rodriguez Flores, a 61-year-old widow, said the program was the only way she could have financed her small apartment. She said the $185 a month she pays is still a struggle on the little she earns selling headphones.

Things could soon get tougher. If the city government has its way, Rodriguez and thousands of other vendors in the historic center will be relocated by mid-October as part of a beautification effort. The plan is to get them off the streets and sidewalks and onto vacant properties in the district.

Such plans have been tried before, and failed when vendors gravitated back to their old spaces after sales plummeted in their new digs.

Barrios said she was open to dialogue with the mayor but wouldn't make any promises unless her merchants were guaranteed spots as good as the ones that they have now.

"If [the government] tries to give us sites that don't suit us I'm going to reject them," Barrios said. "I'm here fighting so that the people have work."

By Marla Dickerson, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Are You A Radical?

I found an interesting article that contains ideologies that if pushed too far could result in new limitations on the freedoms of speech and thought. The resulting legislation could be used against anyone not happy with the status quo. Note that the term radicalization in the bill means the process of adopting an extremist belief system, including the willingness to use, support, or facilitate violence, as a method to effect societal change. Thus people with ideas other than the mainstream viewpoints qualify as radicalized.

Experts Advise on Combating Radicalization
New York Times, June 15, 2007

While the United States has expended enormous effort in fighting terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan, it has neglected the fight for the hearts and minds of young radicals in Internet chat rooms and other places where they cluster, experts on radicalization told a House panel yesterday.

“Unless we can impede radicalization and recruitment, then we are condemned to a strategy of stepping on cockroaches one at a time,” Brian M. Jenkins, a terrorism expert from the Rand Corporation, told the House Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment

The subcommittee and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee have held recent hearings on the possible threat from “homegrown” radicals. The general conclusion has been that although such a threat exists, it is small, especially when compared with Europe, because assimilation works so much better here.

Individual sessions have covered the possibility of terror cells forming in prisons, considered a ripe environment with little concrete activity, and countering the vision of extremists who use Islam to convince the young that suicide bombings are the righteous path to a better world.

“We have to stop attacking only the structure and start attacking their strategy,” the director of the Homeland Security Policy Institute at George Washington University, Frank J. Cilluffo, said.

Terrorist organizations, for example, use the Web to glorify the people who carry out attacks as serving God. But, Mr. Cilluffo noted, there is no effort to use video from gruesome attacks like the slaughter of Russian schoolchildren or the bombing of a wedding at a Jordanian hotel to underscore that terrorists are cold-blooded murderers

The United States has had scattered arrests of bumblers who may have intended to carry out terrorist attacks, but none have had the capability to undertake the deadly violence seen on 9/11 or in London and Madrid, witnesses said. The treason indictment last year of Adam Yahiye Gadahn, a Californian who is a Qaeda spokesman, is a rarity. The United States has had about 30 treason cases.

But the Internet age can make moving from intent to capability rapid. So the goal is to block the path and undermine the desire.

“There is nothing wrong with people being recruited to become Muslims,” Representative Jane Harman, the California Democrat who is chairwoman of the subcommittees, said in an interview yesterday. “What is wrong is when people who are becoming Muslims are manipulated by radical fanatics into a death cult.

“That small passage that very few of these people take is where we have to interfere. We have to understand how it happens and when it happens.”

Ms. Harman and a Republican colleague, Representative Dave Reichert of Washington, are drafting a measure that would direct Congress to form a commission to develop a strategy for preventing such radicalization. She said she hoped that a similar bill would emerge from the Senate.

Among the major recommendations of the experts at the hearing yesterday were greater involvement of Muslim-Americans in the antiradicalization effort; more aid for community policing, which is deemed most effective at nipping radicalization in the bud; and a smarter focus on countering what Al Qaeda and other groups do to win recruits.

“We need to isolate the extremists as opposed to isolating the mainstream community” of American Muslims, Salam al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, said in an interview.

...Here is a summary of the PREVENT Act:

Preventing Radicalism by Exploring and Vetting its Emergence as a National Threat (PREVENT) Act - Establishes in the legislative branch the National Commission on Radicalization and Terrorism to: (1) examine and report upon facts and causes relating to radicalization in the United States; (2) build upon the work of and work together with related advisory bodies, and review the findings of related studies and academic works; and (3) report to the President and Congress on recommendations for countermeasures to radicalization, and measures to prevent radicalization from developing and spreading, within the United States. Directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to work with the Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE), led by the University of Southern California, to evaluate the feasibility and practicality of creating further incentives for private sector critical infrastructure stakeholders to participate in the sharing of protected critical infrastructure information.

Here is the full text.

Who better to bring us a police state other than a retired Sheriff?

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Weak America

Weak America = Weakened Europe
[Article taken from the Times of Malta and contributed by our Further Left Chatroom member, Caqqu.]

America's power has been so overwhelming for so long that many think it has survived George W. Bush's presidency unscathed. That this is untrue is demonstrated by those, from Russia's Vladimir Putin and Venezuela's Hugo Chávez to Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, who are exploiting America's loss of standing and influence. This is no cause for schadenfreude. On the contrary, it is high time for friends of the United States, particularly in Europe, to realise that America's weakness undermines their international influence as well.

The evidence of America's weakness is clear enough. At the height of America's power, Russia had resigned itself to the apparently unstoppable encroachment of Nato on the Soviet Union's former sphere of influence. President Putin tolerated a US presence in Central Asia to assist in the campaign against the Taliban in Afghanistan and raised no serious objections when the US trashed the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty prohibiting strategic missile defenses. America, eager to bring both Ukraine and Georgia into Nato, felt scant need to consider Russian concerns, convinced that the Kremlin would have no choice but to bow to the inevitable.

That was yesterday. Today, Mr Putin seeks to regain the influence Russia lost in previous years. He is skilfully playing the anti-America card across Europe while putting pressure on the Baltic states, a clear warning not to extend Nato any further. In Ukraine, political forces resisting closer strategic links to the West have gained ground. And the Kremlin is aggressively portraying the planned establishment of a modest US missile defence installation in Poland and the Czech Republic as a threat to Russia's vital security interests.

Or consider Iran, another power exploiting American weakness. Only a few years ago, Iran's government seemed sufficiently in awe of the US to inch towards an agreement on its nuclear programme that would have interrupted, and perhaps even halted, its enrichment activities. There was talk of possible bilateral contacts with the US, which, if successful, would have ended almost three decades of hostile relations. Today, Iran's enrichment programme is going ahead despite the United Nations Security Council's warnings of new sanctions, while Iranian officials publicly ridicule threats of US military action.

These examples reflect the same message: America is losing clout around the world. The Bush administration is internationally exposed in both the arrogance of its concepts and the limits of its power. It lacks support at home and respect abroad.

Never since the US became the world's predominant power during World War II has there been a similar decline in its international influence. Even during the Vietnam War and following its humiliating withdrawal from Southeast Asia, there was never any serious doubt about America's authority and ability to deal with what was then the central strategic challenge, the Cold War.

In today's interdependent world, however, it is no longer the number of nuclear warheads that bestows influence, but a country's ability to get others to go along with policies that it regards as serving its major interests. Mr Bush's America has forfeited that influence in the Middle East, in Asia and Africa, and in much of Europe.

Many in the US like to think that this is a temporary state of affairs that will vanish with the election of a new President and Congress in 2008. But they are neither sufficiently aware of the damage done nor realistic enough about the chances of Mr Bush's potential successors - many of whom initially supported his adventurism - to revive the trust and respect their country once enjoyed.

To achieve that will take more than a new face in the White House. It will require years of hard work to reconcile America's resources and requirements, and to ensure that its initiatives can once again be seen as designed not to serve narrow US ideologies, but to advance a fair international order.

The result of protracted US weakness is also a weaker Europe. In the heyday of American dominance, European governments profited doubly: They were part of a powerful West and courted as a potential counterweight to US dominance by third countries. If they dissented from US positions, this did not seriously impair the West's strategic efficacy because American power was more than sufficient to compensate.

That arrangement no longer works. If European governments today distance themselves from America, as their citizens frequently demand, they will both antagonise and further weaken the US. At the same time, they will undermine their own international influence, allow others to play off Europe against America, destroying as well what chance remains for rebuilding the West with a reformed America. European leaders, even when they are unhappy over US positions, therefore need to combine forceful support for the transatlantic community of interests with discrete, if firm lobbying in Washington not to strain it to the breaking point.

Whether they can successfully perform this difficult act, remains to be seen. Fortunately, Angela Merkel, Nicolas Sarkozy and Gordon Brown understand the challenge, and at least some parts of the Bush government seem aware of the problem. In the long period of American weakness, European leaders will have to demonstrate statesmanship for the West as a whole. It is a role for which decades of US supremacy have scarcely prepared them.

Mr Christoph Bertram is the former head of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs.

©Project Syndicate, 2007,

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Unwise Man

When it is said that America needs to be stopped in what it does in order to save the world, one thinks of their wars and invasions and underminings. And as evil and threatening as these things are, there is still another and entirely different type of threat coming from them. It is the direction their society and culture are taking that is an all consuming danger to mankind also.

The name homo sapiens, whose Latin meaning, is wise or knowing man, could well be changed to homo americanus, or some such thing. Unwise man, unknowing man, man who no longer needs to think, his needs and security taken care of, his wants tended to, his mind filled with what makes him think he knows all he needs to. And the worst of this, is he is fed on trash and lies and that is what he produces in turn.

Americans have a sick society that taints all it comes in contact with. Their belief that bigger better and more are the goals to reach in life rape the planet of its resources. People so mindless that they brag of their country and shout their love for it while killing and destroying to get what it takes to support them in the style they desire. It takes a twisted mind to feel pride while you are committing horrible deeds.

Much of American society is constructed to make people accept atrocity and horror, perversion and corruption. A daily part of life, one way or another. Very little shock or awe or shame left over anything. The warning signs for wrong have been long lost. Their entertainment is at extremes, pushed to the max to stretch their senses to where danger just seems like cheap thrills and a way to kill some time. Many just sit at home and can watch extreme sports or brutal movies on tv, or real war and killing on their limited to their view, news outlets.

Now even their children are showing the signs of their nations lifestyle and mentality. It is the breakdown of the family too. Each taught to seek his own selfish needs, too consumed with his own image and schedule to build a real home to venture out into life from and learn. A society that cares far more about its animals than it does its people, which is very telling. It should be both. Americans are taught to dislike, or even fear their poor, and envy and imitate their rich. A truly deluded populace, just cooperating tools of their government, playing out the parts handed to them thinking its called freedom because they are content with it.

These people are a failure of mankind to develop into something superior, something beyond that which destroys its own planet and kind. They have veered off into a direction that will destroy all eventually. Willfully ignorant, driven by greed, uncaring and heartless. It is the sum total of Americanization that needs to be resisted and fought against if the world is to be let go on in a positive and compatible way, making its own choices and growing in its own ways. How unfortunate it is that this Americanization has spread world wide, no longer just being a disaster of one nation, but a tendency in many. This route, that is mistakenly called progress, but in actuality plunges us into a darkness we may never recover from. Without respect for each other or the world and nature itself.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Free Workers

Volunteering For Walmart

Walmart Uses 4,300 Unpaid Teenagers As Baggers
In Its Mexican Stores

Walmart is Mexico's largest private employer, according to Newsweek, and that doesn't include the 4,300 unpaid teenagers that it lets "volunteer" to bag groceries at its Mexican stores.

The teenagers work for gratuities and Walmart says the teenagers "cannot be considered workers," and are therefore exempt from Walmart's "code of ethics" that prevents "associates" from going unpaid.

Meanwhile business is booming in Mexico for Walmart. They have plans to open 125 additional stores and "reported net earnings of $1.148 billion in 2006 "

So why are the baggers going unpaid, relying only on gratuities? Local custom. From Newsweek:

The use of unsalaried youths is legal in Mexico because the kids are said to be "volunteering" their services to Wal-Mart and are therefore not subject to the requirements and regulations that would otherwise apply under the country's labor laws. But some officials south of the U.S. border nonetheless view the practice as regrettable, if not downright exploitative. "These kids should receive a salary," says Labor Undersecretary Patricia Espinosa Torres. "If you ask me, I don't think these kids should be working, but there are cultural and social circumstances [in Mexico] rooted in poverty and scarcity."

In a country where nearly half of the population scrapes by on less than $4 a day, any income source is welcome in millions of households, even if it hinges on the goodwill of a tipping customer. And Wal-Mart did not invent the bagger program that, as a written statement from the company notes, pre-dates the firm's arrival in Mexico, nor is it alone within the country's retail sector in benefiting from the toil of unpaid adolescents. But in Mexico City, for example, the 4,300 teenagers who work in Wal-Mart's retail stores free of charge dwarf similar numbers laboring unpaid for Mexican competitors like Comercial Mexicana (715) and Gigante.

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