Flying Snail - News & Views for Remnants of Paradise
Tell-A-Vision = Why Not Try Love Again?

Eff Oral Cancer = ~@~ is cancer free !!!

Headlines from Articles ~@~ Will Not Allow Comment On

by Dahbud Mensch

Heads Up !!! Some deranged, offshore idiot launched something called Cartman and here is what one needs to know: "If you have done nothing wrong, and have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about," "Karma can be a serious beeach; especially when it is not direct," 'Game Mode Is Off' because stupid Toilet is now pushing: How's the EFF'n Weather?", and "Intelligent people should be following these directions until 2 April." Finally, words for the wise, Lusers beware: Fly and his friends are currently covering ~@~'s back and allegedly running GPS AI tracking SmartBots.

The following headlines are from articles submitted for publication; however, ~@~ will not allow content or comment on them.

Did Adulterers Clinton & Gingrich Practice Safe Sex?

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by Monica Cigar

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by Psionics Dream Reeker

I've Killed Millions, Am I In Control Now?

by Haig Krispies Namara

George Carlin - The Owners of America

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Nobody Brought Peace To Our Times

"None of the Above" Should Be On Voter Ballots

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Today: the SmartMeter, Tomorrow: the World

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Clearlake City Council: SmartMeter installation moratorium

Written by Clearlake City Council, Lake County News
Thursday, 31 March 2011



The City Council of the City of Clearlake does ordain as follows: [continue reading]

PG&E installs SmartMeters after flood:
[Evil] Company replaced flood-damaged meters with wireless devices

By J.M. BROWN - Santa Cruz Sentinel

CAPITOLA - When PG&E responded to Capitola Village last weekend to assess flood damage to gas and electric meters, the company installed about 70 of its city-banned SmartMeters at residential and commercial sites, the Sentinel learned Wednesday. [continue reading]

On PG&E's Bogus Opt-out Option

By Steve Martinot
Tuesday March 29, 2011

PGE has proposed an opt-out option that is not one. On March 10, the PUC directed PGE to develop an alternative to Smartmeter installation, in response to the massive upheaval and objection against the Smartmeters that has emerged throughout California (over 35 local governments, including Berkeley, have banned or called for the banning of these Smartmeters, pending further study). PGE came up with a plan last Thursday (March 24). But in their plan, they have ignored what people have been calling for, that is, a non-installation that would leave in place the old analogue meter. Instead, PGE has proposed a modified form of Smartmeter installation. In place of an opt-out plan, it proposes a minor modification of the original plan. But as a minor modification (rather than a non-procedure), it will be associated with major charges to customers. And therein lies a serious element of extortion.

Here's how it would work. There would be a fee schedule attached to the Smartmeter. Those who do not want a Smartmeter would have to pay a fee up front to have the Smartmeter's radio function deactivated, then submit to having a monthly fee added to their bills (of somewhere between $20 to $50), and finally pay an "exit fee" when and if they move out of the residence to have the Smartmeter's radio function reactivated.

The primary complaint about these Smartmeters is that they are unhealthy, and there are hundreds of stories of ailments now on record, along with accumulating experimental evidence concerning this fact (see Cindy Sage's "Sage Report"). They also create domestic insecurity because they are hackable from outside, and constitute an invasion of privacy, by collectiing data about one's personal life and movement as represented in one's electricity usage. To that extent, the proposed fees for deactivation of the Smartmeter constitute a "protection racket." PGE is saying to people, "we plan to install something in your house that is possibly injurious to your health, to your domestic security, and to the sanctity of your privacy, and if you do not want us to do that, you will have to pay us money." That is an extortion scam, under the laws of any state in this union.

PGE doesn't seem to know how to stop scamming the people of California. It has scammed us with Prop 16, with its claim to a mandate for the installation of Smartmeters, with its claim that gas pipeline records are missing, and now, with its proposal for a bogus Smartmeter opt-out option.

Prop 16 was a scam insofar as it was presented as a democratizing regulation. PGE claimed that the proposition would give people a vote on whether to have public power rather than PGE. But we already had such a vote. What the proposition would have done was effectively take it away by requiring a two thirds vote on whether to replace PGE or not. In other words, it would have fairly assured PGE of monopoly control of our electricity.

The Smartmeters are not mandatory according to federal law. The Energy Act of 2005, which initiated the installation of Smartmeters, only requires that they be made available to those customers who might want them. But PGE has said, up until this week, that they are mandatory, and must be put in place to complete the power grid they are building. Now they are willing to have people opt-out of the grid, but still must take the Smartmeter, albeit unactivated. If they are willing to live with unactivated Smartmeters, then they should also be willing to live with unreplaced analogue meters.

In San Bruno, before the explosion, there were phone calls by people who smelled gas in the air. PGE did nothing, having put its money into trying to pass Prop 16. Now 8 people are dead, and PGE is complaining that it has no records of the pipelines, let alone the complaints or the gas leak reports.

Finally, PGE has come out with this bogus opt-out plan. What the anti-Smartmeter movement has been demanding is that a Smartmeter not be installed at all if the customer does not want it. On top of the complaints that Smartmeter microwave emissions are unhealthy, invasive and hackable, what has enraged most people is PGE's autocratic attitude, its anti-democratic stance that everyone must take a Smartmeter and like it, regardless of the electro-smog that Smartmeters create for every urban environment. Deactivating the Smartmeter would obviate the health and hacking problems associated with them. But then, one would have to trust PGE's word on deactivation. And few people in the anti-Smartmeter movement would council one to trust a corporation as deadset on scamming as PGE. But at this juncture, whether people trust PGE or not has become a seconary issue, an academic point. What is primary is the "protection racket" character of PGE's bogus opt-out proposal. If racketeering was not their thing, they could just leave the analogue meters in place, at no extra charge.

This is not, of course, their only example of felonious behavior. To the extent PGE refused to properly maintain its gas pipelines in San Bruno, or respond to residents' reports of gas leaks, as required by state law and regulations, it is guilty of negligent homicide with respect to the eight people who died in the explosion.

The PUC has to pass on PGE's proposal, so we have some time to present opposition to it. But perhaps this is also the time for us to seriously consider shifting to public power, with local elected boards and an elected directorship that would represent and listen to the people with respect to the people's health, safety, and privacy. Neither PGE nor the PUC seem to be capable of doing these things.

Do Not Install A SmartMeter Here
Click to Download a Do Not Install the Smart Meter Sign


Will PG&E SmartMeter Installers Be Charged as:
Accessories to Corporate Murder?

Toxic Chemicals Lobby: Exclusive Leaked Footage

Epsilon E-Mail Breach: 4 Unanswered Questions

By Daniel Ionescu, PCWorld, Apr 5, 2011 6:37 AM, Article Source

A data breach at e-mail marketer Epsilon, the sort of company that doesn't usually make the tech headlines, has put at risk millions of users, security experts have warned. Customers of big companies such as Citibank, JPMorgan Chase, Target and Walgreens were affected, and now may be at increased risk of e-mail swindles.

An increased number of e-mail spam and phishing attacks are expected on victims of the Epsilon breach. The attacks could be more convincing because they are targeted by name, too. Which leads to several, yet-unanswered questions:

Why Did Epsilon Have Your E-Mail?

Most e-mail marketing comes from a company you agreed to receive promotional messages from; most consumers have no idea these services are subcontracted to companies like Epsilon, which sent around 40 billion e-mails last year. Someone hacked into Epsilon's systems and took millions of e-mail addresses and names from some of the company's 2,500 client customer data. The list of customers is quite extensive, including Marriott Rewards, TiVo, Capital One, and Home Shopping Network.

But in the secretive world of consumer database collection and third-party services, shouldn't retailers let customers know someone else stores (and is liable to lose) their private data? MSNBC's Bob Sullivan debates this issue at large.

How Did the Breach Occur?

Information on the breach is scarce. Epsilon says it happened some time on March 30, but it's unknown who, or for what specific purpose the breach happened. BusinessWeek suggest the information was gained by a person outside Epsilon, while the company insists no personal identification or credit card details were compromised.

What Can be Accomplished with Stolen E-Mails?

Bruce Schneier, chief security technology officer at BT Group Plc, told Bloomberg that the hackers can't do much with the information. He suggests that some companies will look like they are sending spam when they aren't. But The New York Times reports that this might be the biggest breach ever, and that it could lead to data phishing from inconspicuous customers.

How Do I Protect Myself?

Companies affected by the Epsilon breach are sending e-mails to customers telling them that their e-mail details have been compromised (like this one from Best Buy). But the whole point of the data breach seems to be to make targets believe they were sent a genuine e-mail from a company. Novice users won't go through the trouble of examining the header of each potentially suspicious e-mail, which is putting them at risk even more. Experts have yet to decide the best way to advise users to protect themselves after this breach. However, a healthy dose of caution and skepticism can always help. ++ FOLLOW THESE DIRECTIONS TOO ~@~

blue flowers pink flamingos

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?
Reflections on the Spirit and Legacy of the Sixties
by Fritjof Capra
December 1, 2002, Permmalink

The 1960s were the period of my life during which I experienced the most profound and most radical personal transformation. For those of us who identify with the cultural and political movements of the sixties, that period represents not so much a decade as a state of consciousness, characterized by "transpersonal" expansion, the questioning of authority, a sense of empowerment, and the experience of sensuous beauty and community.

This state of consciousness reached well into the seventies. In fact, one could say that the sixties came to an end only in December 1980, with the shot that killed John Lennon. The immense sense of loss felt by so many of us was, to a great extent, about the loss of an era. For a few days after the fatal shooting we relived the magic of the sixties. We did so in sadness and with tears, but the same feeling of enchantment and of community was once again alive. Wherever you went during those few days - in every neighborhood, every city, every country around the world - you heard John Lennon's music, and the intense idealism that had carried us through the sixties manifested itself once again:

You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope some day you'll join us and the world will live as one.

In this essay, I shall try to evoke the spirit of that remarkable period, identify its defining characteristics, and provide an answer to some questions that are often asked nowadays: What happened to the cultural movements of the sixties? What did they achieve, and what, if any, is their legacy?

expansion of consciousness

The era of the sixties was dominated by an expansion of consciousness in two directions. One movement, in reaction to the increasing materialism and secularism of Western society, embraced a new kind of spirituality akin to the mystical traditions of the East. This involved an expansion of consciousness toward experiences involving nonordinary modes of awareness, which are traditionally achieved through meditation but may also occur in various other contexts, and which psychologists at the time began to call "transpersonal." Psychedelic drugs played a significant role in that movement, as did the human potential movement's promotion of expanded sensory awareness, expressed in its exhortation, "Get out of your head and into your senses!"

The first expansion of consciousness, then, was a movement beyond materialism and toward a new spirituality, beyond ordinary reality via meditative and psychedelic experiences, and beyond rationality through expanded sensory awareness. The combined effect was a continual sense of magic, awe, and wonder that for many of us will forever be associated with the sixties.

questioning of authority

The other movement was an expansion of social consciousness, triggered by a radical questioning of authority. This happened independently in several areas. While the American civil rights movement demanded that Black citizens be included in the political process, the free speech movement at Berkeley and student movements at other universities throughout the United States and Europe demanded the same for students.

In Europe, these movements culminated in the memorable revolt of French university students that is still known simply as "May '68." During that time, all research and teaching activities came to a complete halt at most French universities when the students, led by Daniel Cohn-Bendit, extended their critique to society as a whole and sought the solidarity of the French labor movement to change the entire social order. For three weeks, the administrations of Paris and other French cities, public transport, and businesses of every kind were paralyzed by a general strike. In Paris, people spent most of their time discussing politics in the streets, while the students held strategic discussions at the Sorbonne and other universities. In addition, they occupied the Odéon, the spacious theater of the Comédie Française, and transformed it into a twenty-four-hour "people's parliament," where they discussed their stimulating, albeit highly idealistic, visions of a future social order.

1968 was also the year of the celebrated "Prague Spring," during which Czech citizens, led by Alexander Dubcek, questioned the authority of the Soviet regime, which alarmed the Soviet Communist party to such an extent that, a few months later, it crushed the democratization processes initiated in Prague in its brutal invasion of Czechoslovakia.

In the United States, opposition to the Vietnam war became a political rallying point for the student movement and the counterculture. It sparked a huge anti-war movement, which exerted a major influence on the American political scene and led to many memorable events, including the decision by President Johnson not to seek reelection, the turbulent 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, the Watergate scandal, and the resignation of President Nixon.

a new sense of community

While the civil rights movement questioned the authority of white society and the student movements questioned the authority of their universities on political issues, the women's movement began to question patriarchal authority; humanistic psychologists undermined the authority of doctors and therapists; and the sexual revolution, triggered by the availability of birth control pills, broke down the puritan attitudes toward sexuality that were typical of American culture.

The radical questioning of authority and the expansion of social and transpersonal consciousness gave rise to a whole new culture - a "counterculture" - that defined itself in opposition to the dominant "straight" culture by embracing a different set of values. The members of this alternative culture, who were called "hippies" by outsiders but rarely used that term themselves, were held together by a strong sense of community. To distinguish ourselves from the crew cuts and polyester suits of that era's business executives, we wore long hair, colorful and individualistic clothes, flowers, beads, and other jewelry. Many of us were vegetarians who often baked our own bread, practiced yoga or some other form of meditation, and learned to work with our hands in various crafts.

Our subculture was immediately identifiable and tightly bound together. It had its own rituals, music, poetry, and literature; a common fascination with spirituality and the occult; and the shared vision of a peaceful and beautiful society. Rock music and psychedelic drugs were powerful bonds that strongly influenced the art and lifestyle of the hippie culture. In addition, the closeness, peacefulness, and trust of the hippie communities were expressed in casual communal nudity and freely shared sexuality. In our homes we would frequently burn incense and keep little altars with eclectic collections of statues of Indian gods and goddesses, meditating Buddhas, yarrow stalks or coins for consulting the I Ching, and various personal "sacred" objects.

Although different branches of the sixties movement arose independently and often remained distinct movements with little overlap for several years, they eventually became aware of one another, expressed mutual solidarity, and, during the 1970s, merged more or less into a single subculture. By that time, psychedelic drugs, rock music, and the hippie fashion had transcended national boundaries and had forged strong ties among the international counterculture. Multinational hippie tribes gathered in several countercultural centers - London, Amsterdam, San Francisco, Greenwich Village - as well as in more remote and exotic cities like Marrakech and Katmandu. These frequent cross-cultural exchanges gave rise to an "alternative global awareness" long before the onset of economic globalization.

the sixties' music

The zeitgeist of the sixties found expression in many art forms that often involved radical innovations, absorbed various facets of the counterculture, and strengthened the multiple relationships among the international alternative community.

Rock music was the strongest among these artistic bonds. The Beatles broke down the authority of studios and songwriters by writing their own music and lyrics, creating new musical genres, and setting up their own production company. While doing so, they incorporated many facets of the period's characteristic expansion of consciousness into their songs and lifestyles.

Bob Dylan expressed the spirit of the political protests in powerful poetry and music that became anthems of the sixties. The Rolling Stones represented the counterculture's irreverence, exuberance, and sexual energy, while San Francisco's "acid rock" scene gave expression to its psychedelic experiences.

At the same time, the "free jazz" of John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra, Archie Shepp, and others shattered conventional forms of jazz improvisation and gave expression to spirituality, radical political poetry, street theater, and other elements of the counterculture. Like the jazz musicians, classical composers, such as Karlheinz Stockhausen in Germany and John Cage in the United States, broke down conventional musical forms and incorporated much of the sixties' spontaneity and expanded awareness into their music.

The fascination of the hippies with Indian religious philosophies, art, and culture led to a great popularity of Indian music. Most record collections in those days contained albums of Ravi Shankar, Ali Akbar Khan, and other masters of classical Indian music along with rock and folk music, jazz and blues.

The rock and drug culture of the sixties found its visual expressions in the psychedelic posters of the era's legendary rock concerts, especially in San Francisco, and in album covers of ever increasing sophistication, which became lasting icons of the sixties' subculture. Many rock concerts also featured "light shows" - a novel form of psychedelic art in which images of multicolored, pulsating, and ever changing shapes were projected onto walls and ceilings. Together with the loud rock music, these visual images created highly effective simulations of psychedelic experiences.

new literary forms

The main expressions of sixties' poetry were in the lyrics of rock and folk music. In addition, the "beat poetry" of Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gary Snyder, and others, which had originated a decade earlier and shared many characteristics with the sixties' art forms, remained popular in the counterculture.

One of the major new literary forms was the "magical realism" of Latin American literature. In their short stories and novels, writers like Jorges Luis Borges and Gabriel García Márquez blended descriptions of realistic scenes with fantastic and dreamlike elements, metaphysical allegories, and mythical images. This was a perfect genre for the counterculture's fascination with altered states of consciousness and pervasive sense of magic.

In addition to the Latin American magical realism, science fiction, especially the complex series of Dune novels by Frank Herbert, exerted great fascination on the sixties' youth, as did the fantasy writings of J. R. R. Tolkien and Kurt Vonnegut. Many of us also turned to literary works of the past, such as the romantic novels of Hermann Hesse, in which we saw reflections of our own experiences.

Of equal, if not greater, popularity were the semi-fictional shamanistic writings of Carlos Castaneda, which satisfied the hippies' yearning for spirituality and "separate realities" mediated by psychedelic drugs. In addition, the dramatic encounters between Carlos and the Yaqui sorcerer Don Juan symbolized in a powerful way the clashes between the rational approach of modern industrial societies and the wisdom of traditional cultures.

film and the performing arts

In the sixties, the performing arts experienced radical innovations that broke every imaginable tradition of theater and dance. In fact, in companies like the Living Theater, the Judson Dance Theater, and the San Francisco Mime Troupe, theater and dance were often fused and combined with other forms of art. The performances involved trained actors and dancers as well as visual artists, musicians, poets, filmmakers, and even members of the audience.

Men and women often enjoyed equal status; nudity was frequent. Performances, often with strong political content, took place not only in theaters but also in museums, churches, parks, and in the streets. All these elements combined to create the dramatic expansion of experience and strong sense of community that was typical of the counterculture.

Film, too, was an important medium for expressing the zeitgeist of the sixties. Like the performing artists, the sixties' filmmakers, beginning with the pioneers of the French New Wave cinema, broke with the traditional techniques of their art, introducing multi-media approaches, often abandoning narratives altogether, and using their films to give a powerful voice to social critique.

With their innovative styles, these filmmakers expressed many key characteristics of the counterculture. For example, we can find the sixties' irreverence and political protest in the films of Godard; the questioning of materialism and a pervasive sense of alienation in Antonioni; questioning of the social order and transcendence of ordinary reality in Fellini; the exposure of class hypocrisy in Buñuel; social critique and utopian visions in Kubrik; the breaking down of sexual and gender stereotypes in Warhol; and the portrayal of altered states of consciousness in the works of experimental filmmakers like Kenneth Anger and John Whitney. In addition, the films of these directors are characterized by a strong sense of magical realism.

the legacy of the sixties

Many of the cultural expressions that were radical and subversive in the sixties have been accepted by broad segments of mainstream culture during the subsequent three decades. Examples would be the long hair and sixties fashion, the practice of Eastern forms of meditation and spirituality, recreational use of marijuana, increased sexual freedom, rejection of sexual and gender stereotypes, and the use of rock (and more recently rap) music to express alternative cultural values. All of these were once expressions of the counterculture that were ridiculed, suppressed, and even persecuted by the dominant mainstream society.

Beyond these contemporary expressions of values and esthetics that were shared by the sixties' counterculture, the most important and enduring legacy of that era has been the creation and subsequent flourishing of a global alternative culture that shares a set of core values. Although many of these values - e.g. environmentalism, feminism, gay rights, global justice - were shaped by cultural movements in the seventies, eighties, and nineties, their essential core was first expressed by the sixties' counterculture. In addition, many of today's senior progressive political activists, writers, and community leaders trace the roots of their original inspiration back to the sixties.

Green politics

In the sixties we questioned the dominant society and lived according to different values, but we did not formulate our critique in a coherent, systematic way. We did have concrete criticisms on single issues, such as the Vietnam war, but we did not develop any comprehensive alternative system of values and ideas. Our critique was based on intuitive feeling; we lived and embodied our protest rather than verbalizing and systematizing it.

The seventies brought consolidation of our views. As the magic of the sixties gradually faded, the initial excitement gave way to a period of focusing, digesting, and integrating. Two new cultural movements, the ecology movement and the feminist movement, emerged during the seventies and together provided the much-needed broad framework for our critique and alternative ideas.

The European student movement, which was largely Marxist oriented, was not able to turn its idealistic visions into realities during the sixties. But it kept its social concerns alive during the subsequent decade, while many of its members went through profound personal transformations. Influenced by the two major political themes of the seventies, feminism and ecology, these members of the "new left" broadened their horizons without losing their social consciousness. At the end of the decade, many of them became the leaders of transformed socialist parties. In Germany, these "young socialists" formed coalitions with ecologists, feminists, and peace activists, out of which emerged the Green Party - a new political party whose members confidently declared: "We are neither left nor right; we are in front."

During the 1980s and 1990s, the Green movement became a permanent feature of the European political landscape, and Greens now hold seats in numerous national and regional parliaments around the world. They are the political embodiment of the core values of the sixties.

the end of the Cold War

During the 1970s and 1980s, the American anti-war movement expanded into the anti-nuclear and peace movements, in solidarity with corresponding movements in Europe, especially those in the UK and West Germany. This, in turn, sparked a powerful peace movement in East Germany, led by the Protestant churches, which maintained regular contacts with the West German peace movement, and in particular with Petra Kelly, the charismatic leader of the German Greens.

When Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the Soviet Union in 1985, he was well aware of the strength of the Western peace movement and accepted our argument that a nuclear war cannot be won and should never be fought. This realization played an important part in Gorbachev's "new thinking" and his restructuring (perestroika) of the Soviet regime, which would lead, eventually, to the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, and the end of Soviet Communism.

All social and political systems are highly nonlinear and do not lend themselves to being analyzed in terms of linear chains of cause and effect. Nevertheless, careful study of our recent history shows that the key ingredient in creating the climate that led to the end of the Cold War was not the hard-line strategy of the Reagan administration, as the conservative mythology would have it, but the international peace movement. This movement clearly had its political and cultural roots in the student movements and counterculture of the sixties.

the information technology revolution

The last decade of the twentieth century brought a global phenomenon that took most cultural observers by surprise. A new world emerged, shaped by new technologies, new social structures, a new economy, and a new culture. "Globalization" became the term used to summarize the extraordinary changes and the seemingly irresistible momentum that were now felt by millions of people.

A common characteristic of the multiple aspects of globalization is a global information and communications network based on revolutionary new technologies. The information technology revolution is the result of a complex dynamic of technological and human interactions, which produced synergistic effects in three major areas of electronics - computers, microelectronics, and telecommunications. The key innovations that created the radically new electronic environment of the 1990s all took place 20 years earlier, during the 1970s.

It may be surprising to many that, like so many other recent cultural movements, the information technology revolution has important roots in the sixties' counterculture. It was triggered by a dramatic technological development - a shift from data storage and processing in large, isolated machines to the interactive use of microcomputers and the sharing of computer power in electronic networks. This shift was spearheaded by young technology enthusiasts who embraced many aspects of the counterculture, which was still very much alive at that time.

The first commercially successful microcomputer was built in 1976 by two college dropouts, Steve Wosniak and Steve Jobs, in their now legendary garage in Silicon Valley. These young innovators and others like them brought the irreverent attitudes, freewheeling lifestyles, and strong sense of community they had adopted in the counterculture to their working environments. In doing so, they created the relatively informal, open, decentralized, and cooperative working styles that became characteristic of the new information technologies.

global capitalism

However, the ideals of the young technology pioneers of the seventies were not reflected in the new global economy that emerged from the information technology revolution 20 years later. On the contrary, what emerged was a new materialism, excessive corporate greed, and a dramatic rise of unethical behavior among our corporate and political leaders. These harmful and destructive attitudes are direct consequences of a new form of global capitalism, structured largely around electronic networks of financial and informational flows. The so-called "global market" is a network of machines programmed according to the fundamental principle that money-making should take precedence over human rights, democracy, environmental protection, or any other value.

Since the new economy is organized according to this quintessential capitalist principle, it is not surprising that it has produced a multitude of interconnected harmful consequences that are in sharp contradiction to the ideals of the global Green movement: rising social inequality and social exclusion, a breakdown of democracy, more rapid and extensive deterioration of the natural environment, and increasing poverty and alienation. The new global capitalism has threatened and destroyed local communities around the world; and with the pursuit of an ill-conceived biotechnology, it has invaded the sanctity of life by attempting to turn diversity into monoculture, ecology into engineering, and life itself into a commodity.

It has become increasingly clear that global capitalism in its present form is unsustainable and needs to be fundamentally redesigned. Indeed, scholars, community leaders, and grassroots activists around the world are now raising their voices, demanding that we must "change the game" and suggesting concrete ways of doing so.

the global civil society

At the turn of this century, an impressive global coalition of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), many of them led by men and women with deep personal roots in the sixties, formed around the core values of human dignity and ecological sustainability. In 1999, hundreds of these grassroots organizations interlinked electronically for several months to prepare for joint protest actions at the meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Seattle. The "Seattle Coalition," as it is now called, was extremely successful in derailing the WTO meeting and in making its views known to the world. Its concerted actions have permanently changed the political climate around the issue of economic globalization.

Since that time, the Seattle Coalition, or "global justice movement," has not only organized further protests but has also held several World Social Forum meetings in Porto Alegre, Brazil. At the second of these meetings, the NGOs proposed a whole set of alternative trade policies, including concrete and radical proposals for restructuring global financial institutions, which would profoundly change the nature of globalization.

The global justice movement exemplifies a new kind of political movement that is typical of our Information Age. Because of their skillful use of the Internet, the NGOs in the coalition are able to network with each other, share information, and mobilize their members with unprecedented speed. As a result, the new global NGOs have emerged as effective political actors who are independent of traditional national or international institutions. They constitute a new kind of global civil society.

This new form of alternative global community, sharing core values and making extensive use of electronic networks in addition to frequent human contacts, is one of the most important legacies of the sixties. If it succeeds in reshaping economic globalization so as to make it compatible with the values of human dignity and ecological sustainability, the dreams of the "sixties revolution" will have been realized:

Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can, no need for greed or hunger, a brotherhood of man. Imagine all the people sharing all the world...You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.I hope some day you'll join us and the world will live as one.

PG&E & CPUC Executives Are Corporate Murderers

Lakeport City Council votes to take action against SmartMeter installations

Written by Elizabeth Larson, Lake County News, Wednesday, 06 April 201, Article Source

LAKEPORT, Calif. – The Lakeport City Council voted Tuesday night to bring back an ordinance similar to those passed last month by the Board of Supervisors and the Clearlake City Council to implement a moratorium on Pacific Gas & Electric's SmartMeter devices.

The council also voted to send a letter to state legislators supporting AB 37, which would require the California Public Utilities Commission to create an opt-out proposal for consumers; agreed to pass a resolution demanding a halt to the installations for those who don't want the meters; and, at the request of Supervisor Anthony Farrington, to write a letter to the CPUC against PG&E's own opt-out proposal, that would cost those who want the radio turned off in the meter more money.

The ordinance, resolution and letters aren't drafted but must be brought back for a reading at an upcoming meeting.

At the start of the discussion, Councilman Bob Rumfelt questioned why the devices were necessary.

Austin Sharp – a PG&E staffer who, along with colleague Justin Real – was there to answer questions, said the meters came out of the energy crisis about a decade ago. They're supposed to make the power system more reliable and cost effective, and offer consumers the change to get more information about how to drop their rates.

Councilman Roy Parmentier said the meters were meant to allow PG&E to charge more based on energy usage at certain times. Sharp said consumers would be able to choose how their rates are assessed through a variety of structures.

“How do I find all of this out?” asked Rumfelt.

Sharp said that, after the meters are installed, consumers can go online. Rumfelt replied that not everyone has a computer or other “nice expensive little gadgets” to access the information. In that case, Sharp said the consumers could call PG&E to get the information.

“Everything's going to an online phase and the SmartMeter's no different than that,” said Sharp.

Councilman Tom Engstrom noted during the discussion, “So it sounds like everyone's getting a SmartMeter, whether you want one or not,” to which Sharp said yes.

Engstrom asked about the PG&E's opt-out proposal. Sharp said there would be low-income options and options for other consumers involving higher or lower upfront fees to disable the radio devices.

The options would include $270 up front with a $14 ongoing monthly charge or $135 up front with a $20 month charge. There also are options for customers to pay a special rate per kilowatt hour rather than the flat monthly fee, which is supposed to go toward meter readers and other costs associated with the opt-out program.

“Wow, that's a lot of money” said Mayor Suzanne Lyons.

Engstrom told PG&E, “There are a lot of people here tonight who are concerned about health risks.”

Sharp said said they had a doctor there who would address those questions.

Engstrom recalled a case of a local woman who was diagnosed with a brain tumor, which she attributed to cell phone usage. He asked Sharp how they could guarantee down the road that the SmartMeters wouldn't have the same impacts.

Sharp said cell phones were different from SmartMeters, to which Engstrom said it's like going to court, with the two sides buying witnesses.

“You guys are betting our lives on saving money,” said Engstrom, who added, “You've already got a big problem down in the Bay Area with the gas line,” referring to last year's San Bruno gas explosion.

Rumfelt asked about Underwriters Laboratories certification for the devices. Sharp said UL certification is for commercial products, not industrial, which is how the SmartMeters are classified. As such, the devices undergo the more rigorous American National Standards Institute certification.

Dr. Jerry Bushberg, Ph.D., program director and clinical professor of radiology, and director of health physics programs at University of California Davis – who also is a member of the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurement's main scientific council – spoke at the meeting. He's been was retained by PG&E to address concerns about radio frequencies.

He said a very large study was completed about four months ago on the long-term use of cell phones, and showed a Food and Drug Administration fact sheet that found there was no evidence linking cell phone use and brain tumors, which he said was a “pretty dramatic statement” coming from a public health organization.

Lyons asked how long term of a study it was. Bushberg said it covered 10 to 15 years of exposure.

Quoting the California Council on Science and Technology's final report on SmartMeters, released March 31, Bushberg said SmartMeters are a small part of the emissions people are exposed to every day. “It does help, I think, put the issue in perspective.”

Supervisor Tony Farrington spoke to the council, telling its members, “This is a very interesting issue.”

When the Board of Supervisors held its first hearing in January, Farrington said he wasn't sure what all the fuss was about. Since then, however, he's looked into the issue more, and doesn't see a benefit for residents.

He raised issues of privacy, and how the data is stored and transmitted. Farrington referenced the environmental and cultural work the county has had to do to try to pave 1.3 miles along S. Main Street, yet said to install millions of meters in California PG&E wasn't required to do any environmental study, with the rules of the California Environmental Quality Act waived.

PG&E also is spending $2.2 billion, garnered from rate hikes – to install the meters, he said. “This is driven by money,” he said. “That's the motive.”

Farrington said the smart grid is possible without SmartMeters, and stated there have been no studies on possible cumulative health impacts.

“It's about big brother government and about choice,” he said, pointing out consumers don't have a choice, adding that PG&E's opt-out proposal was an “extortion plan.”

He said AB 37 is moving slowly through the Legislature while budget and redevelopment issues were being worked out.

While it may be symbolic to pass the ordinance, Farrington asked the council to join the Board of Supervisors in pursing legal action.

Martha Rose, who said she spoke with Engstrom and asked to have the SmartMeter issue put on the agenda, said she agreed with Farrington's point of view. “There's too many ifs, there's too many unanswered questions,” she said.

Carol Hays said she received a notice about the installations, and called and told PG&E she wanted more information and didn't want the device installed on her home. She was then put on a waiting list.

While the moratorium makes a statement, Hays said it's important for people to know they can call the SmartMeter hotline, 866-743-0263, and ask to be put on the delayed installation list.

After hearing Farrington mention the $2.2 billion for installations, Rumfelt asked Sharp if that was true. Sharp said yes, that the expense had been factored into rates in about 2003.

He said there were misconceptions about how PG&E makes money, and it isn't on how people use energy – that was taken out of the equation years ago.

“So we've already paid for those meters?” asked Rumfelt, to which Sharp said yes.

“We want our money back,” quipped one man in the audience.

Public Works Director Doug Grider asked Sharp if the meters were receivers as well as transmitters. Sharpe said yes, and that they can help relay information. The meters broadcast information for about 45 seconds for a 24-hour period.

Grider asked if it was a repeater system, and Sharp again said yes. If someone didn't pay their bill, could the meters be used to shut off their power? Grider asked. Yes, Sharp said.

Engstrom concluded of PG&E, “The bottom line is they're going to walk out this door and do what they've been doing. It's not going to matter.”

He said he wanted to go on record that city residents don't like how they're being treated, and suggested taking action like that of the county, moving to take the three actions suggested in the staff report.

Farrington asked that they add opposition to the current PG&E opt-out proposal, which he said the Board of Supervisors is going to take up next week.

Engstrom modified his motion accordingly, and it was approved 5-0, action the audience of about 30 people welcomed with applause.

PG&E's Secret END-RUN Around Telecoms, Internet Providers, and Humans

An Original Report by ~@~

During October 2004 the FCC adopted rules that would allow deployment of "Access BPL;" i.e., using power lines to deliver broadband and ultimately telephone service to homes and businesses.

Personally, I thought BPL (Broadband over power line) would 'never get off the ground' because it represented a big threat to Telecom profits. (imo) If installed, Electric Companies could technically undercut Telecom and Internet Service Provider access charges, by as much as half, or more ???. But I was wrong.

The first people to publicly object were amateur radio operators, through their national ARRL organization, here is a reference article: Broadband over power line: Why Amateur Radio is Concerned about Its Deployment, and here is a supporting video:

BPL UNREDACTED: ARRL's Dave Sumner reviews redacted FCC info on BPL interference

During April 2008 the following headline appeared: Court Agrees with ARRL in FCC BPL Issue BPL can now move forward with better guidelines, stating:

The ARRL has spent nearly a year battling the FCC regarding its failure to follow guidelines regarding BPL interference. The U.S. Court of Appeals reached a decision on the matter yesterday, agreeing with the ARRL on a couple of its major points. In response to the decision, ARRL’s General Counsel issued a statement saying:

"It is obvious that the FCC was overzealous in its advocacy of BPL, and that resulted in a rather blatant cover-up of the technical facts surrounding its interference potential. Both BPL and Amateur Radio would be better off had the FCC dealt with the interference potential in an honest and forthright manner at the outset. Now there is an opportunity to finally establish some rules that will allow BPL to proceed, if it can in configurations that don't expose licensed radio services to preclusive interference in the HF bands."

(imo) The subject, Broadband over power line, sort of, went silent until PG&E's introduction of SmartMeters, which I believe is an End-Run around U.S. citizens to institute a deadly version of PROFITS NOT PEOPLE.

The following STANDARDS were established leading up to 2010 and presented during 2011

IEEE P1901, ITU home grids

Within homes, the HomePlug AV and IEEE P1901 standards specify how, globally, existing AC wires should be employed for data purposes. The IEEE 1901 includes HomePlug AV as a baseline technology, so any future IEEE 1901 products will be fully interoperable with HomePlug AV, HomePlug Green PHY or the forthcoming HomePlug AV2 specification (under development now and expected to be approved in Q1 2011).

Smart grids and use of BPL for telemetry and data provision by power companies

Power providers are also standardizing their internal and external communications including use of BPL technologies to provide direct links to power system components like transformers. In North America another IEEE standard group is supervising these activities.

Unlike home users, power providers are more able to consider widespread deployment of fiber optic cables immune to electromagnetic interference (and which do not generate any) and for which mature devices (switches, repeaters) are available. Accordingly there is no one single compelling reason to carry data on the existing power lines themselves as there is in homes, except in remote regions where fibre optic networks would not normally be deployed at all. Power network architectures with many transformers are more likely to be served using fibre.

Even if a home is using BPL it may not necessarily connect to the Internet using a BPL-based gateway (typically a smart meter), although this would have major advantages to both the consumer and provider. NIST and IEEE have considered whether requiring smart meters to all be fully functioning BPL gateways would not accelerate demand side management and create a uniform market into which security, home control and other providers can sell.

In other words, once a SmartMeter is installed, it could be used as a gateway to Internet, used to provide telephone service, used to monitor/control your power usage, and with a little legislation, provided by criminal politicians, could become manditory. You do remember TIPS, where a criminal Bush Administration wanted corporations and companies to SPY on U.S. citizens???

Republicans Encourage SNOOPS, like PG&E
Mr. Ashcroft wants people who go into American homes (like PG&E) to snoop while they're there.

Bi-Partisan Unity

Republican War Criminal Katherine Harris Steals Florida Election - Nobody Cares - Origin: Eric Blumrich
Wisconsin Vote - They're Back and Staring in: "What Goes Around, Comes Around"

Fried Pride - Ribbon in the sky

Emails expose BP's attempts to control research into impact of Gulf oil spill

Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show BP officials discussing how to influence the work of scientists - Read the BP internal meeting notes

by Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent,, 15 April 2011, Article history, Article Source

A clean-up operation on Queen Bess Island, June 2010. BP pledged a $500m fund for independent research into the consequences of the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster. Photograph: Gerald Herbert/AP
A clean-up operation on Queen Bess Island, June 2010. BP pledged a $500m fund for independent research into the consequences of the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster. Photograph: Gerald Herbert/AP

BP officials tried to take control of a $500m fund pledged by the oil company for independent research into the consequences of the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, it has emerged.

Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show BP officials openly discussing how to influence the work of scientists supported by the fund, which was pledged by the oil company in May last year.

Russell Putt, a BP environmental expert, wrote in an email to colleagues on 24 June 2010: "Can we 'direct' GRI [Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative] funding to a specific study (as we now see the governor's offices trying to do)? What influence do we have over the vessels/equipment driving the studies vs the questions?".

The email was obtained by Greenpeace and shared with the Guardian.

The documents are expected to reinforce fears voiced by scientists that BP has too much leverage over studies into the impact of last year's oil disaster.

Those concerns radiate far beyond academic interest into the impact of the spill. BP faces billions in fines and penalties, and possible criminal charges arising from the disaster. Its total liability will depend in part on a final accounting of how much oil entered the gulf from its blown-out well, and the damage done to marine life and coastal areas in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama that will be produced by scientists. The oil company disputes the government estimate that 4.1m barrels of oil entered the gulf.

There is no evidence in the emails that BP officials were successful in directing research. The fund, which rapidly gave out its first grants to Gulf coast research institutions, has since established procedures to protect its independence.

Other documents obtained by Greenpeace suggest that the politics of oil spill science was not confined to BP. The White House clashed with officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last summer when drafting the administration's accounting of what has happened to the spilled oil.

On 4 August, Jane Lubchenco, the NOAA administrator, demanded that the White House issue a correction after claiming that the "vast majority" of BP oil was gone from the Gulf.

A few days earlier, Lisa Jackson, the head of the EPA, and her deputy, Bob Perciasepe, had also objected to the White House estimates of the amount of oil dispersed in the gulf. "These calculations are extremely rough estimates yet when they are put into the press, which we want to happen, they will take on a life of their own," Perciasepe wrote.

Commenting on BP's email discussions about directing research, a spokeswoman for the oil company said: "BP appointed an independent research board to construct the long-term research programme."

But Kert Davies, Greenpeace US research director, said the oil company had crossed a line. "It's outrageous to see these BP executives discussing how they might manipulate the science programme," Davies said. "Their motivation last summer is abundantly clear. They wanted control of the science."

The $500m fund, which is to be awarded over the next decade, is by far the biggest potential source of support to scientists hoping to establish what happened to the oil that went into the gulf.

A number of scientists had earlier expressed concerns that BP would attempt to point scientists to convenient areas of study – or try to suppress research that did not suit its business.

The first round of funds were awarded last May to a consortium of gulf coast researchers. "The rest we are all waiting with bated breath," said Ajit Subramaniam, a marine scientist at the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory. "A lot of the funds might be for understanding future spills. It is also unclear what kind of strings will be attached with that money."

Another email, written by Karen Ragoonanan-Jalim, a BP environmental officer based in Trinidad, contains minutes of a meeting in Houma, Louisiana, in which officials discussed what kind of studies might best serve the oil company's interests.

Under agenda item two, she writes: "Discussions around GRI and whether or not BP can influence this long-term research programme ($500m) to undertake the studies we believe will be useful in terms of understanding the fate and effects of the oil on the environment, eg can we steer the research in support of restoration ecology?"

Ragoonanan-Jalim acknowledges that BP may not have that degree of control. "It may be possible for us to suggest the direction of the studies but without guarantee that they will be done."

The email goes on: "How do we determine what biological/ecological studies we (BP) will need to do in order to satisfy specific requirements (legislative/litigation, informing the response and remediation/restoration strategies."

‘Smart’ Meters Explode, Cause Fire in Santa Rosa Mall

What was initially reported simply as an "electrical fire" in Santa Rosa's downtown last Thursday turned out to be a huge bank of smart meters spontaneously combusting
What was initially reported simply as an "electrical fire" in Santa Rosa's downtown last Thursday turned out to be a huge bank of smart meters spontaneously combusting

Posted on April 13, 2011 by onthelevelblog via Mike

SANTA ROSA -- It was confirmed today that an electrical fire which led to the evacuation of downtown Santa Rosa Plaza last Thursday evening was caused by a bank of newly installed PG&E ‘smart’ meters. Reported by the Santa Rosa Press Democrat last Thursday, the mainstream media has so far neglected to include that the source of ignition was indeed at least 3 ‘smart’ meters within the utility room. Reached for comment, Santa Rosa Fire Dept. battalion chief Jack Piccinini told SSM! that ‘all the electric meters within the room where smart meters. An electrical arc occurred that started the fire.” The Press Democrat reported:

“When firefighters arrived, they found smoke and flames coming from a room of electrical panels on the mall’s east side, near the Third Street underpass.

Three of the panels that supply power to the Disney Store, Eddie Bauer and a vacant room “literally blew up,” said Jack Piccinini, battalion chief with the Santa Rosa Fire Department.

‘Whatever shorted them out was quite significant,” he said. “I’m not an electrician so I won’t guess what it was.’”

The official report from the Santa Rosa Fire Dept. states:

“On investigation, ME01 found 3 PG&E meters that had blown off the electrical panel causing damage to the interior wiring of the electrical panel. A fire was still smoldering but left in place until the arrival of PG&E.”

The Santa Rosa Fire Department’s incident report cites ‘arcing’ caused by ‘failure of equipment.’ Whether the cause of the arcing was related to faulty installation or inherent flaws within the ‘smart’ meters themselves is not known at this time. In a Stop Smart Meters! exclusive interview in January with the ‘Wellington Whistleblower’, a former employee of the firm contracted to install PG&E’s ‘smart’ meters alleges unsafe installations:

Though the procedure is relatively simple, if you get it wrong this can lead to arcing, shorts- even house fires. The blades on the back of the meter have to be aligned properly with the jaws on the socket the meter gets placed in. I kept hearing one of the managers say, “you guys weren’t trained properly.”

In light of the series of cost cutting (and profit boosting) measures that led to the San Bruno blast last September, questions are sure to be forthcoming regarding the Public Utilities Commission’s actions regarding this incident and the many other fire safety issues that have been reported in connection with ‘smart’ meters both here and abroad as compiled by the EMF Safety Network. There is also growing concern from firefighters that the ‘smart’ meters indeed pose a fire hazard.

At press time, neither [CRIMINAL] PG&E nor the [CRIMINAL] CPUC had returned calls seeking comment on this incident.

Check this page as any developments or updates will be posted here.

Monitoring of radioactive material reaching the United States

University of Maryland, Department of Atmospheric & Ocean Science via Fred

NOAA HYSPLIT Model - Trajectory: April 13, 2011 - Source
April 13, 2011 NOAA Trajectory
NOAA HYSPLIT Model - Plume Dissipation: April 13, 2011 - Source
April 13, 2011 NOAA Plume Dissipation

Japanese Nuclear Emergency: EPA's Radiation Monitoring - Trusting EPA ???

The Coke Brothers Conspiracy

by Paul Krassner

I was fortunate enough to accompany Ken Kesey and his psychedelic Band of Merry Pranksters when the Grateful Dead played the Pyramids--and won--at a series of outdoor concerts in 1978. During that week, Kesey and I were dinner guests at the home of an Egyptian family in Cairo. Later, the men smoked hashish from a huge hookah. The women stayed in the kitchen, and I grumbled to Kesey about that gender gap.

“When in Rome,” he responded, “do as the Egyptians do.”

A shy six-year-old girl was peeking us through a beaded curtain, and I waved to her. She waved back, giggled and disappeared. But I have not the slightest doubt that now, at the age of 39, she was among the countless female protestors celebrating in the streets those early tremors of freedom. Were no longer to be considered second-class citizens? However, 95% of Egyptian women had been victims of genital mutilation (forced clitoral circumcision was banned in 1997), gang rapes are still occurring, and political patriarchy continues to undermine their equality.

On the same Sunday in January 2011 that the revolution in Egypt was peaking, I found myself in Rancho Mirage, California, at a rally against David and Charles Koch—pronounced “coke”—and so I call them the Coke brothers. Many placards featured the Coca-Cola logo on a red background, with the slogan, “Everything goes better without Koch.”

The multi-billionaire Coke brothers—funders and manipulators of the Tea Party; oil merchants who opposed reduction of air pollution, claiming that smog prevents skin cancer--were now hosting a secret meeting with 200 wealthy elitists at the Rancho Las Palmas Resort, heavily guarded by sixty Riverside County sheriff’s deputies in riot gear.

Incidentally, the sheriff is actually named Stan Sniff.

The Coke brothers were beneficiaries of the 2009 Supreme Court decision that granted personhood to corporations, meaning that they could clandestinely support conservative politicians without any accountability, and in 2010 the Court ruling that corporations—and unions, which the Coke brothers are attempting to demolish--could spend unlimited sums on campaign advertising.

The anti-Coke rally was held in a parking lot across the street from the resort. Jim Hightower—activist and the author of There’s Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos and Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow--was speaking. “These Justices are as confused as goats on astroturf,” he told the audience of 1,000. “We need to pass a constitutional amendment that says a corporation does not have the rights of a person.”

Two weeks later, the mystery behind the Coke brothers conclave would be revealed, linking them to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Koch Industries—which employs 70,000 people—had been the largest corporate contributor to his campaign, so it’s no surprise that Walker was busy sucking up to his puppeteers as he followed their wishes to destroy the American labor movement. In fact, Americans for Prosperity, a front group for the Coke brothers—which organized a rally in Wisconsin to support the governor--has launched a website which propagandizes against all collective bargaining.

The dedicated protesters in Madison were inspiring, and it was the brilliant political prank phone call to Governor Walker from blogger Ian Murphy pretending to be David Koch that inadvertently disclosed the mindset Walker shared with the real David Koch. Fake David said, “We’ll back you any way we can. But what we were thinking about the crowd was, uh, was planting some troublemakers.” Walker replied, “We thought about that,” but he was only afraid the plan might backfire.

At the “Uncloak Koch” rally, Jim Hightower had said, “I hate to be rude and intrude on a secret meeting, but there comes a time when America’s imperiled democracy requires ordinary grass root people to rebel, and to be rude enough to intrude on the people applauding corporate plutocrats who are so rude as to usurp our democratic rights.

“Listen, this billionaires’ caucus thought that they could meet secretly, but you pulled back the curtain on them behind which they had been hiding—such front groups as Americans for Prosperity, the Heritage Foundation, the Manhattan Institute, the Cato Institute, the Federalist Society, Freedom Works, even the Tea Party themselves—we pulled back the curtain and there they are, Charles and David, the modern-day Wizards of Oz, only Ozier, don’t you think?”

Later, while police were dispersing the demonstrators, conservative media manipulator Andrew Breitbart--who had brought along his protégé, video propagandist James O’Keefe--entered the scene on rollerblades and heckled the crowd through a bullhorn: “We’ve had a great day,” he shouted sarcastically. “Let’s all go to Applebee’s!” A couple of months later, Breitbart would be on CNN, complaining to Piers Morgan that O’Keefe is “held to a different standard. In the history of journalism, you have people like Hunter Thompson, Paul Krassner and Abbie Hoffman, who’ve been outrageous in trying to get their points across and have used journalism to do so . . .”

I went backstage to see Jim Hightower. He had flown in from Texas for the Coke Brothers event and was energized by the spirit of the rally. “It ain’t Egypt, though,” I observed.

“Not exactly,” he chuckled.

The Egyptian people want to have regular elections just like we do here in America, as epitomized by the sexist slogan, “One man, one vote.” Unfortunately, when the Supreme Court (5-4) designated George Bush as president after his contentious campaign against Al Gore in 2000, that “one man” happened to be Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Years later, after her retirement, O’Connor said that she thought her decision had been a mistake. But, then, we all make mistakes, right?

Anyway, I was pleased that, at the 2011 Academy Awards, a couple of lesser-known winners stressed in their acceptance speeches the importance of unions and collective bargaining. However, I was disappointed that The King’s Speech, recipient of the Oscar for best picture, didn’t end like a Looney Tunes cartoon, with Porky Pig in the center of shrinking concentric circles, saying, “Th-th-th-that’s all, folks!”

Spoiler Alert


I’m kind of strange. I don’t care if you tell me the end of a movie, book or television show, even if it’s an ending with a twist. For me, it’s not the ending that’s important, but the story you travel to get there. After all, there are really only a finite number of plots. All genres have their standard story lines. What distinguishes a good story from a bad one is the journey, not just the ultimate destination.

In some cases, though, knowing the ending can put us at a singular disadvantage. Lately, I’ve been thinking the problem with history — especially in regards to progressive activism — is that we know the ending. We hear stories about the Founding Fathers, the abolitionists, the suffragettes, the early union organizers, the Freedom Riders, etc and because we know they were victorious in the end, we assume those victories were inevitable. We think because we know the ending, our forebears somehow knew it too, and it was this secret knowledge that gave them the strength and courage to wage the battles they did. Unlike us, they could actually see that light at the end of the tunnel; they didn’t have to fumble around in the dark.

When the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence, we know this act (along with a brutal war) helped found a nation, but at the time, they had no idea. For all they knew, they were signing their own death warrants. They hoped it would lead to something better, and they had the courage of their convictions, but there was no way they could be sure everything would work out in the end. In fact, they had every reason to believe it wouldn’t. I imagine it felt a little like jumping off a cliff.

Likewise, when abolitionists hid runaway slaves along the Underground Railroad, they risked their lives, reputations, and property to commit what was then a serious crime. They felt compelled to do the right thing, but they had no guarantees doing so would dismantle America’s peculiar institution. Slavery was pretty entrenched in this country. The Southern elites had a good racket going. They were rich and growing richer. Insane profits with a payroll percentage of way less than the “optimal” 20%. No way were a few rogue operators going to persuade them to stop.

It is tempting to be lulled into reading the history of this country as a frustratingly slow — though ultimately heroic — march towards a yet unattained but inevitable state of perfection. We believe perpetual progress is our birthright and that we are ordained by the universe to keep getting bigger and better. But the activists who came before us knew no such thing. You have to be willing to risk it all to do what is right and good even when the odds are stacked against you, even when you are almost certain to fail. Because many times you will fail, and the those few victories you do win will be tenuous. You have to keep fighting every day.

This country has gone dark and our enemies seem untouchable — but it’s been that way many times before. One annoying thing about history is that it keeps repeating itself. If you really think about it, are BP, Bank of America, the Koch brothers, and Fox News any more intimidating than the ruling monarch of a superpower, the antebellum Southern aristocracy, or the robber barons of the First Gilded Age? Activism has always been difficult and often futile. So many good works get thrown down a black hole. Why did Bernie Sanders make that speech? Why did those veterans chain themselves to the White House fence during a snowstorm? Why did all those people camp out in Madison? What good did it do?

There’s a character in my novel-in-progress, The Plague Child, named Father Anthony, who is an activist priest. The novel is set in an America of the future, and frankly, that future isn’t too rosy. The country is broke and barely holding together. There are huge uninhabitable Dead Zones. A few corporations control everything and sometimes declare war (yes, actual war with guns and everything) on each other. Violence, sickness and poverty are commonplace and most people are too busy with merely surviving to mount any sort of coherent resistance. Still: Father Anthony wages a battle for change he is almost certain to lose. But he’s no Don Quixote. He sees the world for what it is, and continues with his work. Another character says of him: “He sees everything so clearly, so starkly; he stares down the darkness and does not flinch. And yet: he persists in doing good.”

That is precisely the sort of courage we must have. We owe ourselves and those who came before us nothing less. Victory is far from certain and there is no guarantee of a happy ending. No matter what we do, there’s bound to be some rough sailing ahead. But if we give up and do nothing, we’ll deserve the ending we get.

INEQUALITY: Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%

Americans have been watching protests against oppressive regimes that concentrate massive wealth in the hands of an elite few. Yet in our own democracy, 1 percent of the people take nearly a quarter of the nation’s income--an inequality even the wealthy will come to regret.

By Joseph E. Stiglitz, Illustration by Stephen Doyle, Vanity Fair, May 2011, via Amestizo

THE FAT AND THE FURIOUS The top 1 percent may have the best houses, educations, and lifestyles, says the author, but their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live.
THE FAT AND THE FURIOUS The top 1 percent may have the best houses, educations, and lifestyles, says the author, but their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live.

It’s no use pretending that what has obviously happened has not in fact happened. The upper 1 percent of Americans are now taking in nearly a quarter of the nation’s income every year. In terms of wealth rather than income, the top 1 percent control 40 percent. Their lot in life has improved considerably. Twenty-five years ago, the corresponding figures were 12 percent and 33 percent. One response might be to celebrate the ingenuity and drive that brought good fortune to these people, and to contend that a rising tide lifts all boats. That response would be misguided. While the top 1 percent have seen their incomes rise 18 percent over the past decade, those in the middle have actually seen their incomes fall. For men with only high-school degrees, the decline has been precipitous—12 percent in the last quarter-century alone. All the growth in recent decades—and more—has gone to those at the top. In terms of income equality, America lags behind any country in the old, ossified Europe that President George W. Bush used to deride. Among our closest counterparts are Russia with its oligarchs and Iran. While many of the old centers of inequality in Latin America, such as Brazil, have been striving in recent years, rather successfully, to improve the plight of the poor and reduce gaps in income, America has allowed inequality to grow.

Economists long ago tried to justify the vast inequalities that seemed so troubling in the mid-19th century—inequalities that are but a pale shadow of what we are seeing in America today. The justification they came up with was called “marginal-productivity theory.” In a nutshell, this theory associated higher incomes with higher productivity and a greater contribution to society. It is a theory that has always been cherished by the rich. Evidence for its validity, however, remains thin. The corporate executives who helped bring on the recession of the past three years—whose contribution to our society, and to their own companies, has been massively negative—went on to receive large bonuses. In some cases, companies were so embarrassed about calling such rewards “performance bonuses” that they felt compelled to change the name to “retention bonuses” (even if the only thing being retained was bad performance). Those who have contributed great positive innovations to our society, from the pioneers of genetic understanding to the pioneers of the Information Age, have received a pittance compared with those responsible for the financial innovations that brought our global economy to the brink of ruin.

Some people look at income inequality and shrug their shoulders. So what if this person gains and that person loses? What matters, they argue, is not how the pie is divided but the size of the pie. That argument is fundamentally wrong. An economy in which most citizens are doing worse year after year—an economy like America’s—is not likely to do well over the long haul. There are several reasons for this.

First, growing inequality is the flip side of something else: shrinking opportunity. Whenever we diminish equality of opportunity, it means that we are not using some of our most valuable assets—our people—in the most productive way possible. Second, many of the distortions that lead to inequality—such as those associated with monopoly power and preferential tax treatment for special interests—undermine the efficiency of the economy. This new inequality goes on to create new distortions, undermining efficiency even further. To give just one example, far too many of our most talented young people, seeing the astronomical rewards, have gone into finance rather than into fields that would lead to a more productive and healthy economy.

Third, and perhaps most important, a modern economy requires “collective action”—it needs government to invest in infrastructure, education, and technology. The United States and the world have benefited greatly from government-sponsored research that led to the Internet, to advances in public health, and so on. But America has long suffered from an under-investment in infrastructure (look at the condition of our highways and bridges, our railroads and airports), in basic research, and in education at all levels. Further cutbacks in these areas lie ahead.

None of this should come as a surprise—it is simply what happens when a society’s wealth distribution becomes lopsided. The more divided a society becomes in terms of wealth, the more reluctant the wealthy become to spend money on common needs. The rich don’t need to rely on government for parks or education or medical care or personal security—they can buy all these things for themselves. In the process, they become more distant from ordinary people, losing whatever empathy they may once have had. They also worry about strong government—one that could use its powers to adjust the balance, take some of their wealth, and invest it for the common good. The top 1 percent may complain about the kind of government we have in America, but in truth they like it just fine: too gridlocked to re-distribute, too divided to do anything but lower taxes.

Economists are not sure how to fully explain the growing inequality in America. The ordinary dynamics of supply and demand have certainly played a role: laborsaving technologies have reduced the demand for many “good” middle-class, blue-collar jobs. Globalization has created a worldwide marketplace, pitting expensive unskilled workers in America against cheap unskilled workers overseas. Social changes have also played a role—for instance, the decline of unions, which once represented a third of American workers and now represent about 12 percent.

But one big part of the reason we have so much inequality is that the top 1 percent want it that way. The most obvious example involves tax policy. Lowering tax rates on capital gains, which is how the rich receive a large portion of their income, has given the wealthiest Americans close to a free ride. Monopolies and near monopolies have always been a source of economic power—from John D. Rockefeller at the beginning of the last century to Bill Gates at the end. Lax enforcement of anti-trust laws, especially during Republican administrations, has been a godsend to the top 1 percent. Much of today’s inequality is due to manipulation of the financial system, enabled by changes in the rules that have been bought and paid for by the financial industry itself—one of its best investments ever. The government lent money to financial institutions at close to 0 percent interest and provided generous bailouts on favorable terms when all else failed. Regulators turned a blind eye to a lack of transparency and to conflicts of interest.

When you look at the sheer volume of wealth controlled by the top 1 percent in this country, it’s tempting to see our growing inequality as a quintessentially American achievement—we started way behind the pack, but now we’re doing inequality on a world-class level. And it looks as if we’ll be building on this achievement for years to come, because what made it possible is self-reinforcing. Wealth begets power, which begets more wealth. During the savings-and-loan scandal of the 1980s—a scandal whose dimensions, by today’s standards, seem almost quaint—the banker Charles Keating was asked by a congressional committee whether the $1.5 million he had spread among a few key elected officials could actually buy influence. “I certainly hope so,” he replied. The Supreme Court, in its recent Citizens United case, has enshrined the right of corporations to buy government, by removing limitations on campaign spending. The personal and the political are today in perfect alignment. Virtually all U.S. senators, and most of the representatives in the House, are members of the top 1 percent when they arrive, are kept in office by money from the top 1 percent, and know that if they serve the top 1 percent well they will be rewarded by the top 1 percent when they leave office. By and large, the key executive-branch policymakers on trade and economic policy also come from the top 1 percent. When pharmaceutical companies receive a trillion-dollar gift—through legislation prohibiting the government, the largest buyer of drugs, from bargaining over price—it should not come as cause for wonder. It should not make jaws drop that a tax bill cannot emerge from Congress unless big tax cuts are put in place for the wealthy. Given the power of the top 1 percent, this is the way you would expect the system to work.

America’s inequality distorts our society in every conceivable way. There is, for one thing, a well-documented lifestyle effect—people outside the top 1 percent increasingly live beyond their means. Trickle-down economics may be a chimera, but trickle-down behaviorism is very real. Inequality massively distorts our foreign policy. The top 1 percent rarely serve in the military—the reality is that the “all-volunteer” army does not pay enough to attract their sons and daughters, and patriotism goes only so far. Plus, the wealthiest class feels no pinch from higher taxes when the nation goes to war: borrowed money will pay for all that. Foreign policy, by definition, is about the balancing of national interests and national resources. With the top 1 percent in charge, and paying no price, the notion of balance and restraint goes out the window. There is no limit to the adventures we can undertake; corporations and contractors stand only to gain. The rules of economic globalization are likewise designed to benefit the rich: they encourage competition among countries for business, which drives down taxes on corporations, weakens health and environmental protections, and undermines what used to be viewed as the “core” labor rights, which include the right to collective bargaining. Imagine what the world might look like if the rules were designed instead to encourage competition among countries for workers. Governments would compete in providing economic security, low taxes on ordinary wage earners, good education, and a clean environment—things workers care about. But the top 1 percent don’t need to care.

Or, more accurately, they think they don’t. Of all the costs imposed on our society by the top 1 percent, perhaps the greatest is this: the erosion of our sense of identity, in which fair play, equality of opportunity, and a sense of community are so important. America has long prided itself on being a fair society, where everyone has an equal chance of getting ahead, but the statistics suggest otherwise: the chances of a poor citizen, or even a middle-class citizen, making it to the top in America are smaller than in many countries of Europe. The cards are stacked against them. It is this sense of an unjust system without opportunity that has given rise to the conflagrations in the Middle East: rising food prices and growing and persistent youth unemployment simply served as kindling. With youth unemployment in America at around 20 percent (and in some locations, and among some socio-demographic groups, at twice that); with one out of six Americans desiring a full-time job not able to get one; with one out of seven Americans on food stamps (and about the same number suffering from “food insecurity”)—given all this, there is ample evidence that something has blocked the vaunted “trickling down” from the top 1 percent to everyone else. All of this is having the predictable effect of creating alienation—voter turnout among those in their 20s in the last election stood at 21 percent, comparable to the unemployment rate.

In recent weeks we have watched people taking to the streets by the millions to protest political, economic, and social conditions in the oppressive societies they inhabit. Governments have been toppled in Egypt and Tunisia. Protests have erupted in Libya, Yemen, and Bahrain. The ruling families elsewhere in the region look on nervously from their air-conditioned penthouses—will they be next? They are right to worry. These are societies where a minuscule fraction of the population—less than 1 percent—controls the lion’s share of the wealth; where wealth is a main determinant of power; where entrenched corruption of one sort or another is a way of life; and where the wealthiest often stand actively in the way of policies that would improve life for people in general.

As we gaze out at the popular fervor in the streets, one question to ask ourselves is this: When will it come to America? In important ways, our own country has become like one of these distant, troubled places.

Alexis de Tocqueville once described what he saw as a chief part of the peculiar genius of American society—something he called “self-interest properly understood.” The last two words were the key. Everyone possesses self-interest in a narrow sense: I want what’s good for me right now! Self-interest “properly understood” is different. It means appreciating that paying attention to everyone else’s self-interest—in other words, the common welfare—is in fact a precondition for one’s own ultimate well-being. Tocqueville was not suggesting that there was anything noble or idealistic about this outlook—in fact, he was suggesting the opposite. It was a mark of American pragmatism. Those canny Americans understood a basic fact: looking out for the other guy isn’t just good for the soul—it’s good for business.

The top 1 percent have the best houses, the best educations, the best doctors, and the best lifestyles, but there is one thing that money doesn’t seem to have bought: an understanding that their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live. Throughout history, this is something that the top 1 percent eventually do learn. Too late.

Palin/Manson 2012 - Supporting Family Values

False Witness

Justice is impossible if we can’t trust the police to tell the truth.

By George Monbiot. Published in the Guardian 12th April 2011.

“From the information I had, that is what I believed happened to me.”(1) So Simon Harwood, the police officer who pushed Ian Tomlinson to the ground at the G20 protests two years ago, told the inquest into his death. The information he had led him to believe, two weeks after the event, that he fell to the floor, lost his baton, received a blow to the head and was involved in violent and dangerous confrontations. Last week he admitted that, though he had made these claims in a signed statement, none of it happened. So what was this information? Who gave it to him? Had he been brainwashed?

We have yet to hear John Yates’s explanations for the ever-widening gulf between what he told parliament and what appears to have happened in the News of the World phone-hacking case, but they will doubtless be just as persuasive. Yates is acting deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan police. He told a parliamentary committee that the police knew of only 10 or 12 people whose voicemail had been intercepted; that there was no evidence that MPs’ phones had been hacked; that the Crown Prosecution Service had given the police “unequivocal” advice that the paper had committed an offence only if it picked up messages before its victims did; that the police had contacted everyone targeted by the paper; and that the police had ensured that the phone companies had warned all the suspected victims(2,3). It appears that none of this is true.

A Scotland Yard briefing paper shows that “a vast number” of people had their phones hacked, including at least eight MPs. The director of public prosecutions has testified that the claims Yates made about CPS advice are false. There are plenty of victims who have not been contacted by the police, and the phone companies say that the police didn’t ask them to contact their customers(4,5,6).

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. It is hard to think of a case of alleged police misconduct which has not been surrounded by police misstatements. Harwood’s claims are the latest of the untrue stories issued by the Met about the events surrounding Tomlinson’s death. They claimed, for example, that officers tried to resuscitate him and called an ambulance while a screaming mob pelted them with bottles. In reality, demonstrators helped him and called an ambulance, and there was no hail of bottles(7,8).

After Jean Charles de Menezes was shot by the Met, the then commissioner (the head of the force), Sir Ian Blair, claimed that De Menezes “was challenged and refused to obey police instructions”(9). A statement by the police claimed that his clothing and behaviour gave grounds for suspicion(10). An account that De Menezes’ relatives believe originated with the police, and found its way into most newspapers, suggests that he was wearing a heavy jacket, that he fled from the officers when he was challenged and that he vaulted over the ticket barrier into Stockwell underground station(11). None of this is true. Similarly misleading stories surrounded the killings of Kevin Gately, Blair Peach, Richard O’Brien, Shiji Lapite, Roger Sylvester, Harry Stanley, Mikey Powell and other people killed by officers(12). The problem appears systemic and widespread: we can’t trust the police to tell the truth.

The issue is not confined to killings. Here’s a story that has received less attention, but involves a chain of alleged falsehoods that almost deprived an innocent man of his liberty.

In August 2008 Michael Doherty, who lives in Hillingdon, discovered a long series of messages exchanged by his 13-year-old daughter with someone who appeared as if he might be grooming her. The messages were sexually explicit. At one point the person proposed staging a kidnap and whisking her away. Doherty went to the police. He presented them with an 86-page dossier. When he wasn’t satisfied with the action being taken, he phoned Hillingdon police station five times to try to speak to a senior officer to complain, and to find out why, in his view, the investigation seemed to have stalled. Then a series of remarkable things happened.

Two plainclothes officers arrived at Doherty’s house at seven in the morning, when he was feeding his baby, to arrest him(13). Among other charges, the police claimed that he had been harassing the commander’s secretary. She had produced a witness statement in which, she said, he had phoned ten times in two days, that he was “raging”, “abusive”, “rude and aggressive”(14). Doherty offered to get dressed and then present himself at the station – but the officers, after threatening to smash down the door, handcuffed him and dragged him out of the house in his dressing gown.

At the same time the police dropped the grooming investigation. They hadn’t looked at his daughter’s computer. A note by a detective inspector at the Hillingdon station later justified this decision by maintaining that “there is no evidence of a crime capable of proof”. Doherty believes that this conclusion could not be supported without examining the computer; the police maintain that they have established that the correspondent was only 15, had met Doherty’s daughter, and was who he said he was(15).

Doherty had proof that the calls he had made were not rude, abusive, raging or aggressive: he had recorded them. I have listened to the recordings: he remains patient and polite – remarkably controlled for someone faced with alleged police indifference to what was happening to his daughter(16). The police failed to pass these recordings to the Crown Prosecution Service, so off to court he went. There, though she had signed a legal witness statement, the secretary admitted that her recollection of the calls was hazy, and he was acquitted(17); but had he not recorded them, and meticulously documented everything else that happened, he might have been convicted.

Having failed to interest the crown prosecutors, Michael Doherty is about to launch a private prosecution for alleged perjury. It’s the last hope he has of holding anyone to account.

Justice is impossible if we cannot trust police forces to tell the truth. The remedy I’m about to propose should not be difficult for any government to adopt. It offers, I think, the only chance we have of addressing what seems to be an endemic problem: anyone who works for the police and is found to have made false statements – to the prosecution, the defence, the courts, parliament, public inquiries or the media – should be sacked. No excuses, no mitigation, no delays. It sounds harsh; it’s not nearly as harsh as a system in which the police malign both the living and the dead, and use the law against innocent people in order to protect themselves. [References located at link source]

Liquid Crystal Vision - via Amestizo

Marla Ruzicka - December 31, 1976 - April 16, 2005
Remembering Marla Ruzicka

To have a job where you can make things better for people? That's a blessing. Why would I do anything else? - Marla Ruzicka

Marla Ruzicka (December 31, 1976 -- April 16, 2005) was an activist-turned-aid worker. She believed that combatant governments had a legal and moral responsibility to compensate the families of civilians killed or injured in military conflicts. She and her Iraqi translator, Faiz Ali Salim, were killed by a suicide car bombing on Airport Road in Baghdad on April 16, 2005.

In 2003, Ruzicka founded the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC), an organization that counted civilian casualties and assisted Iraqi victims of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq.

Born in Lakeport, California, Ruzicka attended Long Island University's Friends World Program, and spent four years traveling throughout Costa Rica, Kenya, Cuba, Israel/Palestine, and Zimbabwe. After graduating in 1999, Ruzicka volunteered for the San Francisco-based organizations Rainforest Action Network and Global Exchange. [Continue Reading]

Artist, John Flores

The man whispered, "God, speak to me" and a meadowlark sang. But the man did not hear. So the man yelled "God, speak to me" and the thunder rolled across the sky. But the man did not listen. The man looked around and said, "God let me see you" and a star shined brightly. But the man did not notice. And the man shouted, "God show me a miracle" and a life was born. But the man did not know. So the man cried out in despair, "Touch me God, and let me know you are there" Whereupon God reached down and touched the man. But the man brushed the butterfly away and walked on.

Somebody is looking at whatever you do, so always present your most charming you
Don't miss out on a blessing because it isn't packaged the way you expect.