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Nick Hayes cartoon on the Rachel Corrie court verdict,, Tuesday 28 August 2012 17.25 EDT
Nick Hayes cartoon on the Rachel Corrie court verdict,, Tuesday 28 August 2012 17.25 EDT, Cartoon Source

Republicans and Democrats are Lying Hypocrites
Who Support Israel's Terrorism Against U.S. Military
34 U.S. Military Dead, 171 Wounded

Rachel Corrie ruling 'deeply troubling', says her family

American activist's family vows to appeal against Israeli court's ruling that her death was a 'regrettable accident'

Harriet Sherwood in Haifa,, Tuesday 28 August 2012 06.31 EDT, Watch Video, Article Source

Rachel Corrie, U.S. Citizen Murdered By Israel Military, Just like USS Liberty Naval Personnel Murdered by Israel Military, and covered up by U.S. Politicians
Rachel Corrie, U.S. Citizen Murdered By Israel Military,
Just like USS Liberty Naval Personnel, and covered up by U.S. Politicians

The death of pro-Palestinian activist Rachel Corrie was a "regrettable accident" for which the state of Israel was not responsible, a judge has ruled, dismissing a civil lawsuit brought by the family.

The young American had "put herself in a dangerous situation" and her death was not caused by the negligence of the Israeli state or army, said Judge Oded Gershon at Haifa district court.

The 62-page ruling found no fault in the internal Israeli military investigation which cleared the driver of the bulldozer which crushed Corrie to death in March 2003. The judge said the driver could not have seen the activist from the cab of the bulldozer.

Corrie could have saved herself by moving out of the zone of danger "as any reasonable person would have done", he said. The area was a combat zone, and the US government had warned its citizens not to go there.

International activists were intent on obstructing the actions of the Israeli military and acting as human shields "to protect terrorists".

Corrie was killed on 16 March 2003, crushed under an Israeli military bulldozer while trying to obstruct the demolition of a Palestinian home in Rafah, on the Gaza-Egypt border.

The lawsuit, filed by Corrie's parents, Cindy and Craig, of Olympia, Washington state, accused the Israeli military of either unlawfully or intentionally killing Rachel or of gross negligence. The family had claimed a symbolic $1 (63p) in damages and legal expenses.

The judge said no damages were liable, but the family's court costs would be waived.

The family was "deeply saddened and deeply troubled" by the ruling, Cindy Corrie said at a press conference after the ruling. "I believe this was a bad day, not only for our family, but for human rights, humanity, the rule of law and also for the country of Israel."

The state had, she said, employed a "well-heeled system" to protect its soldiers and provide them with immunity. "As a family, we've had to push for answers, accountability and justice."

Rachel's sister, Sarah Corrie Simpson, said: "I believe without doubt that my sister was seen as the driver approached her." She hoped that the driver would one day "have the courage" to tell the truth.

The US government believed the military investigation was flawed, she added. Last week, the US ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, told the Corrie family that Washington remained dissatisfied with the the inquiry. Hussein Abu Hussein, the family's lawyer, said: "This verdict is yet another example of where impunity has prevailed over accountability and fairness. Rachel Corrie was killed while non-violently protesting home demolitions and injustice in Gaza, and today, this court has given its stamp of approval to flawed and illegal practices that failed to protect civilian life.

"We knew from the beginning that we had an uphill battle to get truthful answers and justice, but we are convinced that this verdict distorts the strong evidence presented in court, and contradicts fundamental principles of international law with regard to protection of human rights defenders. In denying justice in Rachel Corrie's killing, this verdict speaks to the systemic failure to hold the Israeli military accountable for continuing violations of basic human rights."

The family would appeal against the ruling to Israel's supreme court, he added.

Also speaking after the ruling, the state's attorney said the Israeli soldiers at the scene of Corrie's death did "everything they could" to prevent harm being caused to any person.

In a statement, the Israeli justice ministry said: "The death of Rachel Corrie is without a doubt a tragic accident. As the verdict states, the driver of the bulldozer and his commander had a very limited field of vision, such that they had no possibility of seeing Ms Corrie and thus are exonerated of any blame for negligence …

"The security forces … were compelled to carry out 'levelling' work against explosive devices that posed a tangible danger to life and limb, and were not in any form posing a threat to Palestinian homes. The work was done while exercising maximum caution and prudence, and without the ability to foresee harming anyone."

According to Bill Van Esveld of Human Rights Watch, the verdict "sets a dangerous precedent in its claim that there was no liability for Corrie's death because the Israeli forces involved were conducting a 'combat operation' … The idea that there can be no fault for killing civilians in a combat operation flatly contradicts Israel's international legal obligations to spare civilians from harm during armed conflict, and to credibly investigate and punish violations by its forces."

The judge's statement that the military inquiry into Corrie's death had been without fault was "hard to reconcile with the facts", he said. "Military investigators repeatedly failed to take statements from witnesses, to follow up with the witness's lawyer, and to re-interview witnesses to clarify discrepancies."

At the time of Corrie's death at the height of the second intifada, or Palestinian uprising, house demolitions were common, part of an increasing cycle of violence from both sides. Palestinian suicide bombers were causing death and destruction with terrifying frequency; the Israeli military was using its mighty force and weaponry to crush the uprising.

The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said the houses it targeted with bulldozers and shells harboured militants or weapons, or were being used to conceal arms smuggling tunnels under the border. Human rights groups said the demolitions were collective punishment. Between 2000 and 2004, the Israeli military demolished around 1,700 homes in Rafah, leaving about 17,000 people homeless, according to the Israeli human rights organisation B'Tselem.

Corrie was one of a group of around eight international activists acting as human shields against the demolitions. According to witness statements made at the time and evidence given in court, she clambered atop a pile of earth in the path of an advancing Caterpillar bulldozer. Fellow activists said she was clearly within the line of sight of the bulldozer driver.

The day after Corrie's death, Israel's then prime minister, Ariel Sharon, promised US president George W Bush that Israel would conduct a "thorough, credible and transparent" investigation into the incident.

Within a month, the IDF had completed an internal inquiry, led by its chief of staff. It concluded that its forces were not to blame, that the driver of the bulldozer had not seen the activist, that no charges would be brought and the case was closed.

The Corries launched their civil lawsuit against the state of Israel as an "absolutely last resort". The case opened at Haifa district court in March 2010.

Among those giving evidence was the driver of the bulldozer, who testified anonymously from behind a screen for "security reasons". He repeatedly insisted that the first time he saw the activist was when she was already dying. He said: "I didn't see her before the incident. I saw people pulling the body out from under the earth."

The hearings ended in July last year.

Rachel Corrie's parents attended Haifa district court, where a judge ruled that Israel did not intentionally kill the pro-Palestinian activist in 2003 View this video


Latest Earthquakes Magnitude 2.5 or Greater in the United States

Earthquakes in California-Nevada

Current PSN World Wide Seismicity Helicorders + Read about Microseism

Addendum, August 27, 2012:

The above, dated links, will change.
The below image is an August 26, 2012 snapshot:

Southern California Earthquake Swarm, August 26, 2012

Nobody for President = NONE OF THE ABOVE should be on voter ballots

"Not Sure" Is Another Name for Nobody?

Obama vs. Romney: Who is Better for IT Industry?

CompTIA poll shows more support in IT industry for President Obama vs. Mitt Romney in every area, including tax policy, access to capital, tech exports, education and privacy. "Not Sure" actually the big winner.

By Jason Knott, August 24, 2012, Article Source, Slashdot Source, via Hank

President Obama and Mitt Romney both still have some campaigning to do with Information Technology (IT) industry executives and integrators.

A new national study conducted by noted pollster John Zogby of JZ Analytics for CompTIA shows that President Obama is slightly favored over challenger Mitt Romney in terms of who would be best to help the IT industry. However, in every instance, about an equal percentage indicate no preference between the two candidates.

On five key issues, tax policy, access to capital, small and medium business’ tech exports, STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math) and privacy, the respondents rated the two candidates about evenly, giving a slight edge to President Obama over Governor Romney in each case.

The results to the question "Who would do a better job as president regarding the following important information technology issues that face the U.S. economy today?" are:

Tax policies that promote innovation & jobs in the U.S. IT sector
Obama 38%
Romney 25%
Neither /
Not Sure 37%

Access to capital to advance start-ups and business expansion
Obama 33%
Romney 30%
Neither /
Not Sure 37%

Expansion of tech exports by U.S. small and medium sized IT businesses
Obama 34%
Romney 27%
Neither /
Not Sure 39%

Promote STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math)
Obama 37%
Romney 25%
Neither /
Not Sure 38%

Ensure privacy as part of broadband, online and mobile policy
Obama 32%
Romney 26%
Neither /
Not Sure 42%

Zogby says that IT industry executives support at least a moderate role of government in addressing challenges faced by the industry. But the survey also is permeated with a sense of disengagement with the current political process and a significant plurality undecided with respect to which candidate would address various IT issues more effectively. The Zogby companies have produced polls with "an unparalleled record of accuracy and reliability in the polling field," according to the company, adding that its telephone and interactive surveys have "generally been the most accurate in U.S. Presidential elections since 1996."

“This late into the political season, we are seeing a high level of disengagement from those in the IT sector.” Zogby reports. “This is true across company size, specialization and geographic region.”

“As we gear up for the elections this fall, we’re finding that messages from the candidates have yet to resonate with the IT sector and the challenges and opportunities before the industry,” says Todd Thibodeaux, president and chief executive officer, CompTIA. “Despite global economic uncertainties, the United States remains a leader in innovation, particularly in technology. Any candidate hoping to win the support of the industry will need to provide a stronger vision for how we retain and expand our leadership in this growing and vibrant IT sector.”

Several economic indicators show that the United States remains a global leader in IT business innovation; however, the perception among those surveyed reflected uncertainty over the future.

Among the key findings, two in three surveyed (64 percent) fear a loss of U.S. leadership in the global information technology sector. Another two out of three (68 percent) believe this change in U.S. leadership will have a harmful impact on economic growth and jobs. Nearly one-third of those surveyed (31 percent) believe it is a priority for government to keep IT businesses in the U.S.

Nobody is Everywhere All the Time

from: Life With Syria's Rebels in a Cold and Cunning War via Hank
The New York Times, August 20, 2012, (Page 2 of 6)

By this spring, as the army came to occupy Tal Rifaat, the now war-savvy city had all but emptied. The soldiers painted graffiti on the city's walls. "Assad or nobody," one scrawl read.

A revolutionary painted a reply: "We will kneel only for God."

Who's Alien?  U.S. Out of North America, Nobody for President
Who's Alien? U.S. Out of North America, Nobody for President

Paul Krassner - The Realist/Writer/Comic/Investigative Satirist

Are Rape Jokes Funny?

By Paul Krassner

Abortion was still illegal in 1970. At the time, as both an underground abortion referral service and a stand-up satirist, I faced an undefined paradox. Irreverence was my only sacred cow, yet I wouldn't allow victims to become the target of my humor.  There was one particular routine I did that called for a "rape-in" of legislators' wives in order to impregnate them so that they would then convince their husbands to decriminalize abortion.

But my feminist friends objected.  I resisted at first, because it was such a well-intentioned joke. And then I reconsidered. Even in a joke, why should women be assaulted because men made the laws? Legislators' wives were the victims in that joke, but the legislators themselves were the oppressors, and their hypocrisy was really my target. But for me to stop doing that bit of comedy wasn't self-censorship. Rather, it was, I rationalized, a matter of conscious evolution.

Now, in July 2012, more than four decades later, rape-joking triggered a widespread controversy when a woman who prefers to remain anonymous went to a comedy club, expecting to be entertained. She chose the Laugh Factory in Hollywood because Dane Cook was on the bill, but he was followed by Daniel Tosh, and she had never heard of him.

In an email to her Tumblr blogger friend, she accused Tosh of saying that "rape jokes are always funny, how can a rape joke not be funny, rape jokes are hilarious." She was so offended that she felt morally compelled to shout, "Actually, rape jokes are never funny!" Tosh paused and then seized the opportunity, responding, "Wouldn't it be funny if that girl got raped by like five guys? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just raped her?"

The audience laughed raucously. After all, isn't anyone who yells at a comedian practically asking to become an immediate target? But this woman was stunned and humiliated, and she left. In the lobby, she demanded to see the manager, who apologized profusely and gave her free tickets for another night--admitting, however, that she understood if this woman never wanted to return.

In her email, she concluded that, "having to basically flee while Tosh was enthusing about how hilarious it would be if I was gang-raped in that small, claustrophobic room was pretty viscerally terrifying and threatening all the same, even if the actual scenario was unlikely to take place. The suggestion of it is violent enough and was meant to put me in my place."

She added, "Please reblog and spread the word." And indeed, it went viral.

Coincidentally, on the same night that Tosh, in his signature sarcastic approach to reality, provoked the woman, Sarah Silverman was performing at Foxwords Casino and she touched upon the same taboo subject:

"We need more rape jokes. We really do. Needless to say, rape, the most heinous crime imaginable, seems it's a comic's dream, though. It's because it seems when you do rape jokes, that the material is so dangerous and edgy, and the truth is, it's like the safest area to talk about in comedy 'cause who's gonna complain about a rape joke? Rape victims? They don't even report rape. They're just traditionally not complainers."

Ironically, in The Aristocrats, a documentary entirely about a classic joke of the same name, Silverman complained that she was once raped by show-biz legend Joe Franklin.

In the fall of 1981, I booked myself for a cross-country tour, from New York to Chicago, Minneapolis, San Francisco and Los Angeles

While I was in New York, a nun was raped. When I got to Chicago, the rapist was also there. He had given himself up to the police. On stage I explained the true reason why: "He heard that the Mafia, in a rush of Christian compassion, put a $25,000 contract out on his life." That part was true. "So now I'm asking the Mafia to use their clout to end the war in El Salvador since four nuns were raped and killed there." They must've heard my request. By the time I got to Los Angeles, the Herald-Examiner was reporting that the Mafia was "probably the largest source of arms for the rebels in El Salvador."

In the spring of 1982, there was a Radical Humor Festival at New York University. That weekend, the festival sponsored an evening of radical comedy. The next day, my performance was analyzed by an unofficial women's caucus. Robin Tyler ("I am not a lesbian comic -- I am a comic who is a lesbian") served as the spokesperson for their conclusions. What had caused a stir was my reference to the use of turkey basters by single mothers-to-be who were attempting to impregnate themselves by artificial insemination.

Tyler explained to me, "You have to understand, some women still have a hang-up about penetration."

Well, I must have been suffering from Delayed Punchline Syndrome, because it wasn't until I was on a plane, contemplating the notion that freedom of absurdity transcends gender difference, that I finally did respond, in absentia: "Yeah, but you have to understand, some men still feel threatened by turkey basters."

Although Tosh is a consistently unapologetic performer for the sardonic material he exudes on his Comedy Central series--which features a running theme of rape jokes, even including one about his sister--for this occasion he decided to go the Twitter route: "All the out of context misquotes aside, I'd like to sincerely apologize." He also tweeted, "The point I was making before I was heckled is there are awful things in the world but you can still make jokes about them."

According to Jamie Masada, owner of the Laugh Factory, Tosh asked the audience, "What you guys wanna talk about?" Someone called out "Rape," and a woman in the audience started screaming, "No, rape is painful, don't talk about it." Then, says Masada, "Daniel came in, and he said, 'Well, it sounds like she's been raped by five guys'--something like that. I didn't hear properly. It was a comment--it wasn't a joke at the expense of this girl." Masada claims that she sat through the rest of Tosh's performance, which received a standing ovation, before she complained to the manager.

Fellow comedians defended Tosh with their own tweets. Dane Cook: "If you journey through this life easily offended by other peoples words I think it's best for everyone if you just kill yourself." Doug Stanhope: "You're hilarious. If you ever apologize to a heckler again I will rape you." Louis C.K.: "your show makes me laugh every time I watch it. And you have pretty eyes"--except that he wrote it after watching Tosh on TV, but before he learned about the Laugh Factory incident. Nevertheless, he was excoriated and accused of being a "rape apologist."

But C.K. himself is no stranger to sexual-assault jokes. Onstage, he has said that he's against rape--"unless you have a reason, like you wanna fuck someone and they won't let you, in which case what other option do you have?"

Conversely, on the second episode of his series, Louie, on the FX channel, he reversed such roles. After leaving a bar with an especially aggressive woman, Laurie (played by Melissa Leo), he had inadvertently met earlier, she performs fellatio on him in her pickup truck, then insists that he in turn perform cunnilingus on her. And he refuses.

So, she attacks him physically with unabashed viciousness, mounts him, and he gives in to her demand. In other words, Laurie rapes Louie. No joke. To watch this scene was positively jaw-dropping. It served as a reminder of how often comedians--and their jaded audiences--find prison-rape jokes not only to be funny, but also, as in the case of Jerry Sandusky, an act of delayed justice resulting in laughter that morphs into applause.

Meanwhile, reacting to the Tosh tirade, Julie Burton, president of the Women's Media Center, stated:

"If free speech permits a comedian to suggest a woman in his audience should be gang-raped, then it certainly permits us to object, and to ask what message this sends to survivors or to perpetuators. Tosh's comment was just one extreme example of pop culture's dismissive treatment of sexualized violence, which desensitizes audiences to enormous human suffering. Internet outcry is encouraging, but popular media needs to push back too."

And the original blogger posted another message:

"My friend and I wanted to thank everyone for there [sic] support and for getting this story out there. We just wanted everyone to know what Daniel Tosh had done and if you didn't agree then to stop following him. My friend is surprised to have gotten any form of an apology and doesn't wish to press any further charges against [him]." What? Press charges? Rape is a crime. Rape jokes aren't. They are the risk of free speech. The blog concluded, "She does plan on returning to comedy shows in the future, but to see comedians that she's seen before or to at least look up artists before going to their shows."

Wait till she finds out Dane Cook suggested that she kill herself.

What's funny is always subjective but not incapable of alteration. Now, over forty years since I stopped presenting my concept about a rape-in of legislators' wives, I have changed my mind about that decision in the process of writing this piece. I sent the first draft around to several friends, and I was particularly touched by a response from Emma Cofod, production manager at my publisher, Counterpoint/Soft Skull Press:

"Thank you for sharing this! I truly appreciate your thoughts here. I read about this woman's complaint last week, and the whole event turned my stomach. What Tosh did was personally threatening, which is not OK. But even though I fall neatly into the feminist camp, I think your original joke is hilarious--within context, and coming from a comedian whose philosophy I identify with. Color me conflicted."

I think that kind of conflict is healthy. And then the other shoe of my epiphany dropped when I saw Louis C.K.'s appearance on The Daily Show. This is what he told Jon Stewart between interruptions:

"If this [controversy about Tosh] is like a fight between comedians and bloggers--hyperbole and garbage comes out of those two places, just uneducated, unfettered--it's also a fight between comedians and feminists, because they're natural enemies, because, stereotypically speaking, feminists can't take a joke, and on the other side, comedians can't take criticism. Comedians are big pussies. So to one side you say, 'If you don't like a joke, stay out of the comedy clubs.' To the other side you say, 'If you don't like criticism, stop Googling yourself every ten seconds, because nobody's making you read it.' It's positive. To me, all dialogue is positive. I think you should listen.

"If somebody has the opposite feeling from me, I wanna hear it so I can add to mine. I don't wanna obliterate theirs with mine, that's how I feel. Now, a lot of people don't feel that way. For me, any joke about anything bad is great, that's how I feel. Any joke about rape, a Holocaust, the Mets--aarrgghh, whatever--any joke about something bad is a positive thing. But now I've read some blogs during this whole that made me enlightened at things I didn't know. This woman said how rape is something that polices women's lives, they have a narrow corridor, they can't go out late, they can't go to certain neighborhoods, they can't dress a certain way, because they might--I never–-that's part of me now that wasn't before, and I can still enjoy the rape jokes.

"But this is also about men and women, because a lot of people are trading blogs with e--ach other, couples are fighting about Daniel Tosh and rape jokes -- that's what I've been reading in blogs -- but they're both making a classic gender mistake, because the women are saying, 'Here's how I feel about this,' but they're also saying, 'My feelings should be everyone's primary concern.' Now the men are making this mistake, they're saying, 'Your feelings don't matter, your feelings are wrong and your feelings are stupid.' If you've ever lived with a woman, you can't step in shit worse than that, than to tell a woman that her feelings don't matter. So, to the men I say, 'Listen to what the women are saying about this.' To the women I say, "Now that we heard you, shut the fuck up for a minute, and let's all get back together and kill the Jews.' That's all I have to say about it."

The audience laughed and applauded, as they did fifty years ago when Lenny Bruce ended a riff on prejudice: "Randy, it won't matter any more even if you are colored and I'm Jewish, and even if Fritz is Japanese, and Wong is Greek, because then we're all gonna stick together--and beat up the Polacks."

My notion of a rape-in of legislators' wives in order to impregnate them was no more to be taken literally than C.K.'s killing the Jews or Lenny's beating up the Polacks. Rape-in was a misunderstood metaphor; a pro-choice parable that, unfortunately, has become timely again.

Paul Krassner publishes the infamous Disneyland Memorial Orgy poster. Two of his books, both expanded and updated, have just been published: a collection, Pot Stories for the Soul; and his autobiography, Confessions of a Raving, Unconfined Nut: Misadventures in the Counterculture. All three items are available at

George Bush explains America's fiscal woes:
Wall Street got drunk

[It Takes One to Know One?]

Dan Glaister in Los Angeles, The Guardian, Wednesday 23 July 2008, Article Source

It is the sort of folksy, down-to-earth talk you'd expect from a Texas rancher looking forward to his retirement. Speaking at a Houston fundraiser last week, George Bush aired his considered opinion of the financial crisis facing the nation he leads.

"There is no question about it. Wall Street got drunk," the president told the gathering of 400 Republican supporters. After defining the ills afflicting the economy, Bush turned to solutions. "The question is," he continued, "how long will it [take to] sober up and not try to do all these fancy financial instruments?"

[What Do Republicans Really Think About U.S. Voters?]:

His comments came after another leading Republican, former Texas senator Phil Gramm, told a newspaper this month that the recession was "a mental recession" and that the US had become "a nation of whiners". Shortly after making the remarks, Gramm resigned as a senior adviser to John McCain's campaign team.

Bush, at least, seemed aware of the ripples his comments might cause. Before delivering his analysis, he ensured that there were no cameras in the room. "That's one reason I asked you to turn off your TV cameras," he said.

Unfortunately, as even a president challenged by the workings of the "internets" seemed to be aware, someone would manage to record a clip of the comments and post them on the website YouTube. "I don't know a lot about technology," he said, "but I do know about YouTube."

By Wednesday, the clip of his comments was drawing multiple hits on the site.

The president also used the event to give his view on the housing crisis afflicting the country, noting that Dallas seemed unaffected by the current downturn.

"Laura's there trying to buy a house today," he said to laughter. "I like Crawford [the small Texas town near his family's ranch]. But after eight years of asking her to sacrifice I am no longer the decision-maker."

Don't lose sight of why the US is out to get Julian Assange

Ecuador is pressing for a deal that offers justice to Assange's accusers -- and essential protection for whistleblowers

Seumas Milne,, Tuesday 21 August 2012 16.30 EDT, Article Source

A supporter of Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, outside the Ecuadorean embassy in London. Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty
A supporter of Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, outside the Ecuadorean embassy in London. Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty

Considering he made his name with the biggest leak of secret government documents in history, you might imagine there would be at least some residual concern for Julian Assange among those trading in the freedom of information business. But the virulence of British media hostility towards the WikiLeaks founder is now unrelenting.

This is a man, after all, who has yet to be charged, let alone convicted, of anything. But as far as the bulk of the press is concerned, Assange is nothing but a "monstrous narcissist", a bail-jumping "sex pest" and an exhibitionist maniac. After Ecuador granted him political asylum and Assange delivered a "tirade" from its London embassy's balcony, fire was turned on the country's progressive president, Rafael Correa, ludicrously branded a corrupt "dictator" with an "iron grip" on a benighted land.

The ostensible reason for this venom is of course Assange's attempt to resist extradition to Sweden (and onward extradition to the US) over sexual assault allegations – including from newspapers whose record on covering rape and violence against women is shaky, to put it politely. But as the row over his embassy refuge has escalated into a major diplomatic stand-off, with the whole of South America piling in behind Ecuador, such posturing looks increasingly specious.

Can anyone seriously believe the dispute would have gone global, or that the British government would have made its asinine threat to suspend the Ecuadorean embassy's diplomatic status and enter it by force, or that scores of police would have surrounded the building, swarming up and down the fire escape and guarding every window, if it was all about one man wanted for questioning over sex crime allegations in Stockholm?

To get a grip on what is actually going on, rewind to WikiLeaks' explosive release of secret US military reports and hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables two years ago. They disgorged devastating evidence of US war crimes and collusion with death squads in Iraq on an industrial scale, the machinations and lies of America's wars and allies, its illegal US spying on UN officials – as well as a compendium of official corruption and deceit across the world.

WikiLeaks provided fuel for the Arab uprisings. It didn't just deliver information for citizens to hold governments everywhere to account, but crucially opened up the exercise of US global power to democratic scrutiny. Not surprisingly, the US government made clear it regarded WikiLeaks as a serious threat to its interests from the start, denouncing the release of confidential US cables as a "criminal act".

Vice-president Joe Biden has compared Assange to a "hi-tech terrorist". Shock jocks and neocons have called for him to be hunted down and killed. Bradley Manning, the 24-year-old soldier accused of passing the largest trove of US documents to WikiLeaks, who has been held in conditions described as "cruel and inhuman" by the UN special rapporteur on torture, faces up to 52 years in prison.

The US administration yesterday claimed the WikiLeaks founder was trying to deflect attention from his Swedish case by making "wild allegations" about US intentions. But the idea that the threat of US extradition is some paranoid WikiLeaks fantasy is absurd.

A grand jury in Virginia has been preparing a case against Assange and WikiLeaks for espionage, a leak earlier this year suggested that the US government has already issued a secret sealed indictment against Assange, while Australian diplomats have reported that the WikiLeaks founder is the target of an investigation that is "unprecedented both in its scale and its nature".

The US interest in deterring others from following the WikiLeaks path is obvious. And it would be bizarre to expect a state which over the past decade has kidnapped, tortured and illegally incarcerated its enemies, real or imagined, on a global scale – and continues to do so under President Barack Obama – to walk away from what Hillary Clinton described as an "attack on the international community". In the meantime, the US authorities are presumably banking on seeing Assange further discredited in Sweden.

None of that should detract from the seriousness of the rape allegations made against Assange, for which he should clearly answer and, if charges are brought, stand trial. The question is how to achieve justice for the women involved while protecting Assange (and other whistleblowers) from punitive extradition to a legal system that could potentially land him in a US prison cell for decades.

The politicisation of the Swedish case was clear from the initial leak of the allegations to the prosecutor's decision to seek Assange's extradition for questioning – described by a former Stockholm prosecutor as "unreasonable, unfair and disproportionate" – when the authorities have been happy to interview suspects abroad in more serious cases.

And given the context, it's also hardly surprising that sceptics have raised the links with US-funded anti-Cuban opposition groups of one of those making the accusations – or that campaigners such as the London-based Women Against Rape have expressed scepticism at the "unusual zeal" with which rape allegations were pursued against Assange in a country where rape convictions have fallen. The danger, of course, is that the murk around this case plays into a misogynist culture in which rape victims aren't believed.

But why, Assange's critics charge, would he be more likely to be extradited to the US from Sweden than from Britain, Washington's patsy, notorious for its one-sided extradition arrangements. There are specific risks in Sweden – for example, its fast-track "temporary surrender" extradition agreement it has with the US. But the real point is that Assange is in danger of extradition in both countries – which is why Ecuador was right to offer him protection.

The solution is obvious. It's the one that Ecuador is proposing – and that London and Stockholm are resisting. If the Swedish government pledged to block the extradition of Assange to the US for any WikiLeaks-related offence (which it has the power to do) – and Britain agreed not to sanction extradition to a third country once Swedish proceedings are over – then justice could be served. But with loyalty to the US on the line, Assange shouldn't expect to leave the embassy any time soon.

Augusta National Golf Club
Opens Exclusive Doors to War Criminal

Martin Rowson cartoon showing Condi saying, "as I was saying Isn't Democracy Wonderful with Iraq and Iran in the background
Martin Rowson
Cartoon on Rice saying: As I was saying Isn't Democracy Wonderful?

According to a Senate Intelligence Committee Memo, George Bush's National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, was the first person to verbally approve torture during July 2002. Here is Wikipedia presentation on the Mother of Torture authorizing use of torture techniques. Then there was the following question and answer from the 9/11 cOmmission proving Rice and the Republican Bush Administration knew of the Inside Job known as 9/11, in advance. Remember how War Criminal George Bush struggled with reading a Children's book for over eighteen minutes while the United States was under attack. How many more lies need to be revealed before Denialists accept something is very wrong with United States Government and that Nobody is fixing it?

Ben Jennings on the Pussy Riot trial
Ben Jennings on the Pussy Riot trial, The Guardian, Saturday 18 August 2012, Cartoon Source

"Putin Lights Up the Fires"
new tune by Pussy Riot, English translation:

This state may be stronger than time in jail.

The more arrests, the happier it is.
Every arrest is carried out with love for the sexist
Who botoxed his cheeks and pumped his chest and abs.

But you can't nail us in the coffin.
Throw off the yoke of former KGB!

Putin is lighting the fires of revolution
He's bored and scared of sharing silence with the people
With every execution: the stench of rotten ash
With every long sentence: a wet dream

The country is going, the country is going into the streets boldly
The country is going, the country is going to bid farewell to the regime
The country is going, the country is going, like a feminist wedge
And Putin is going, Putin is going to say goodbye like a sheep

Arrest the whole city for May 6th
Seven years isn't enough, give us 18!
Forbid us to scream, walk and curse!
Go and marry Father Lukashenko

The Legends of Wilmington Jazz - Tuesday - 1 PM Eastern Time, 10 AM Pacific Time - Listen-On-Line - WVUD fm

Today's Legends of Wilmington Jazz will be the final broadcast as a summer replacement. I'll be beginning the broadcast of the entire series on a monthly basis during the 7am hour every second Saturday, right before Boptime's "Clifford's Corner" segment, i.e., beginning September 8th. - Even Steven (Leech)

Karl Cohen - Association International du Film d'Animation-SF Newsletter

What is Great Animation?

Noted historian and professor Karl Cohen surveys top artists and educators on what is great animation.

By Karl Cohen | Animation World Network | Monday, August 20, 2012 at 2:50 pm, Article Source
Posted In | Magazines: AnimationWorld | Site Categories: Education and Training, Films, People, Short Films

An image from Paul & Sandra Fierlinger's new film, Slocum; at sea with himself. Courtesy of Paul & Sandra Fierlinger.
An image from Paul & Sandra Fierlinger's new film, Slocum; at sea with himself. Courtesy of Paul & Sandra Fierlinger.

Since the late 1970s I’ve been saying animation is a great, if not the greatest art form of our time. I recently decided to ask students, animation artists, teachers and studio administrators, what is great animation? I wasn’t expecting to find a single answer as a lot has to do with personal taste and how one relates to it in their life. What I hoped to learn was some of the many ways people admire it.

I began by asking my San Francisco State animation history students at the start of the spring semester what they thought was really exciting animation. When the semester was ending they were asked to write a short paper on what they thought was great animation. I was curious to see if their interests and answers had changed since the course had begun. Had the course influenced their thinking?

Comments By Students

On the first day of class I asked what films they expected to study. Most students had relatively little exposure to animation outside of first run features, anime, TV series, music videos and whatever they had discovered on the Internet. When asked what their favorite animated films were they mentioned The Simpsons, Family Guy and other TV shows, Disney features from the 1990s, and several anime titles.

Most were surprised when I told them that I would barely cover most of the works they were familiar with. In fact one year a student was so upset with that news that he dropped out as he thought the course was going to be about anime!

My course exists mainly to inspire animation students, so they see a lot of historical and contemporary shorts from the US and abroad. They are unfamiliar with most of them as they are not easy to see. Most are important works of exceptional artistic or literary merit; ones that advanced the art and technology of animation. There isn’t time to show run-of-the-mill work.

For their final paper I asked them to select and write about three films that they have seen and consider great works. They did not have to be ones seen in class. I was delighted that their papers showed they had given a lot of thought to the assignment.

One student picked silent stars (Wall-E, Gromit and the male star of The Triplets of Belleville). Another wrote about acting by faceless characters (Luxo Jr., a silhouette short by Lotte Reininger and the Oompahs, a UPA short staring musical instruments). The most frequently discussed film was Madame Tutli-Putli from the National Film Board of Canada, followed by UPA’s Tell Tale Heart, Henry Selick’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and Nick Park’s “Creature Comforts.” One student wrote about three modern stop-motion horror films, Door by David Anderson, M. Tutli-Putli and Nightmare Before Christmas, while another found M. Tutli-Putli, Chris Landreth’s “Ryan” and Jan Svankmajer’s “Dimensions of Dialog” exciting explorations of the human condition.

A few students stressed the storytelling abilities in certain works including films that had no narration (the Pixar short For the Birds and Balance by Christoph and Wolfgang Lauenstein). An Asian student wrote about classic Chinese shorts. Other nice papers were on expressive acting, new directions in animation, things animation can do that can’t be done in live action films and developments in stop-motion work.

Several things surprised me. The only Disney feature mentioned was Fantasia. One paper mentioned the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” segment from it and another discussed the “Night on Bald Mountain.” Nobody wrote about TV animation, features from DreamWorks or shorts by the Fleishers, Disney, Otto Messmer, Winsor McCay, or Tex Avery. Several foreign features that were briefly mentioned but not shown in class were discussed. They included Persepolis, Waltz with Bashir, Mary and Max, Grave of the Fireflies, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away and Richard Williams’ unfinished Thief and the Cobbler. I also noticed that many of the films chosen had received Oscar nominations. - [Continue Reading: Page 2 - Page 3 - Page 4]


Water Boarding, Wash Boarding, Off the Table War Criminals
Off the Table War Criminals

The real reason that Nancy Pelosi is considering retiring is that they took her Jet away. Ah, poor baby!

As a result of a Judicial Watch filing under the Freedom of Information Act, the USAF released documents detailing House Speaker Pelosi's use of United States Air Force aircraft between March 2009 and June 2010. The data are published in the Judicial Watch Verdict of December 2010, Volume 16, Issue 12.

Here are the main highlights revealed by the USAF. Keep in mind that all the data below relate to United States Air Force aircraft used by one woman over a sixteen month period.

Several of these flights included Ms. Pelosi's guests, such as grown children, grandchildren, various in-laws, friends and hangers-on. Over 95% of the trips were between the west coast and Washington, DC, for what you might call a commute between home and the office. READ it and WEEP!!

Total trips: 85 over a 68 week period, or 1.25 average trips per week.
Total mileage: 206,264 miles, or 2,427 average miles per trip.
Total flying time: 428.6 hours, or an average of 5 hours per trip.
Cost to the taxpayers: $2,100,744, or $27,715 per trip, or $1,285,162 per year!
Cost of in flight food and alcohol: $101,429; $1,193 per trip; $62,051 per year.

On one junket to Baghdad, according to the Air Force report, she had the aircraft bar stocked with Johnny Walker Red Scotch, Grey Goose Vodka, E&J Brandy, Bailey's Irish Cream, Maker's Mark Whiskey, Courvoisier Cognac, Bacardi Rum, Jim Beam Whiskey, Beefeater Gin, Dewar’s Scotch, Bombay Sapphire Gin, Jack Daniels Whiskey, Corona Beer and several varieties of wine. This was obviously a very important "gubment bidness" trip.

Evidence generally speaks for itself, and in Ms. Pelosi's case it speaks the language of abuse and (evidently) a serious familial drinking problem, for in a single year she and her spawn drank an amount in excess of the net income of the average employed American! When she said, "... If the stimulus doesn't pass, five hundred million people might lose their jobs...", I thought she was unintentionally revealing her ignorance. I'm now more inclined to think she was pickled.

Even though she can no longer abuse the USAF, she can either fly on her broom, or fly Southwest Airlines, where bags fly free.

If you are an AMERICAN citizen it is YOUR DUTY to PASS THIS ON!! Because, you won't see this reported on MSNBC ....or ABC , CBS, NBC, CNN. (verified by Snopes) via Bruce - Yahoo Verification

None of the Above should be on Voter Ballots!

Motorola-Google's first patent suit against Apple
seeks import ban of all major Apple devices

Motorola, the phone company Google acquired this year, filed a patent infringement suit against Apple that effectively seeks to ban the import of the iPhone, the iPad and the iPod Touch to the U.S.

Image credit:
Image credit:

By Matt Marshall at VentureBeat, Sun Aug 19, 2012 4:01pm EDT, Article Source

The paperwork was filed by Motorola with the International Trade Commission on Friday, but won't be available for public viewing until it's posted online tomorrow (Monday). The suit cites infringement of seven patents, including location reminders, e-mail notification, phone/video players, and even Siri voice recognition, according to Motorola.

While Motorola has in the past sued Apple for patent infringement, this is the first one filed since Google officially took ownership of Motorola in May.

It's just the latest in a widening war of patent suits, and signals that Google is ready to get tough with its new patent portfolio in Motorola. Google could be trying to change the momentum in a battle that until now made Google's Android look more vulnerable than Apple's iOS platform. That's because Google's Android system was so young, it had little patent defense against other players. Indeed, Motorola's 17,000 patents was the big reason Google chose to buy Motorola in the first place. Foss Patents has a good overview of Google's strategic reasons for this.

Notably, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that none of the patents asserted by Motorola in this newest claim is a “standards-essential" patent, which could help Motorola's case for the ban, if the court finds that infringement did happen. Patents considered standards-essential are ones that courts consider so basically necessary for a given industry that patent-holding companies are required to license them at a fair, reasonable, non-discriminatory prices. However, if patents are not standards-essential, courts don't require holding companies to license them.

However, from Motorola's statement, it doesn't appear that Motorola is refusing to license per se: “We would like to settle these patent matters, but Apple's unwillingness to work out a license leaves us little choice but to defend ourselves and our engineers' innovations," Motorola Mobility said in an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg.

In a previous case with Motorola, Apple has argued that Motorola's licensing fee demands are unreasonable. In that case, the ITC ruled that Apple had infringed on one of the four patents asserted by Motorola. In that case, the ITC will make a final decision next week.

Google vs Apple equals WWIII:
How's that for thermonuclear, Apple?

photo credit: andy z via photo pin cc
photo credit: andy z via photo pin cc

By John Koetsier, at VentureBeat, August 20, 2012 1:08 AM, Article Source

It is on. World War III, here we go.

Google is finished with helping Samsung and other Android sellers with its left hand. It's tired of Apple attacking Google by fighting proxy wars with Asian manufacturers. No more cold war, no more semi-civilized conflicts in third-world countries no-one has ever heard of.

Google vs. Apple, meet USA vs. USSR, circa 1985.

It's the clash of empires: the $220 billion search and mobile giant versus the $650 billion personal computing and electronics giant. The open mobile operating ecosystem versus the closed, vertically-integrated ecosystem. The propellor-heads versus the designers.

Last week Google threw down the gauntlet, knocked off the chip, and kicked some sand. Screw Kabul, they want Washington DC.

The Google-Moto lawsuit against Apple announced on Friday will, if successful, ban iPhones, iPads, and iPods from entry into the United States. That's $30 billion in revenue just in one somewhat disappointing quarter.

At an equivalent annual run rate, that's $120 billion in revenue. About 40 percent of Apple's revenue is U.S.-based, and the vast majority is in iPhones and iPads.

During the cold war, the clash of empires was held to survivable levels by the doctrine of MAD: Mutually Assured Destruction. You can kill me but I can kill you ... so let's just sorta get along. Now Google has told Apple that, if it seeks to ban Android tablets and phones from importation into key markets, two can play that game.

The Commies have the bomb. And Steve Jobs' famous thermonuclear quote -- "I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this" -- has come home to roost.

How do you like them apples?

But in the passions and pride of full-nuclear patent law battlefield lie tremendous harm for both. Wasted time, wasted effort, wasted focus ... all adding up to wasted opportunity. Who does this legal clash of the titans benefit? Everyone else in the mobile market: Microsoft with Windows Phone, Nokia, perhaps, if it can get its head far enough out of its ass, and maybe even pathetic little pipsqueak BlackBerry-toting RIM.

The also-rans in the mobile race are being gifted extra runway to try to possible make hay while a few glimmers of sun shine. All while Apple and Google are busy playing sojer boy and pushing launch buttons.

Somebody, please pick up the big red phone. Moscow, Washington: Have a conversation, and fix this.

Steve, we need you now.

The new totalitarianism of surveillance technology

If you think that 24/7 tracking of citizens by biometric recognition systems is paranoid fantasy, just read the industry newsletters

Naomi Wolf,, Wednesday 15 August 2012 21.12 BST, Article Source

Tom Cruise as John Anderton in the futuristic film Minority Report, where the advertisements use recognition technology to call out to the shoppers. Photograph: Allstar/20th Century Fox
Tom Cruise as John Anderton in the futuristic film Minority Report, where the advertisements
use recognition technology to call out to the shoppers. Photograph: Allstar/20th Century Fox

A software engineer in my Facebook community wrote recently about his outrage that when he visited Disneyland, and went on a ride, the theme park offered him the photo of himself and his girlfriend to buy – with his credit card information already linked to it. He noted that he had never entered his name or information into anything at the theme park, or indicated that he wanted a photo, or alerted the humans at the ride to who he and his girlfriend were – so, he said, based on his professional experience, the system had to be using facial recognition technology. He had never signed an agreement allowing them to do so, and he declared that this use was illegal. He also claimed that Disney had recently shared data from facial-recognition technology with the United States military.

Yes, I know: it sounds like a paranoid rant.

Except that it turned out to be true. News21, supported by the Carnegie and Knight foundations, reports that Disney sites are indeed controlled by face-recognition technology, that the military is interested in the technology, and that the face-recognition contractor, Identix, has contracts with the US government – for technology that identifies individuals in a crowd.

Fast forward: after the Occupy crackdowns, I noted that odd-looking CCTVs had started to appear, attached to lampposts, in public venues in Manhattan where the small but unbowed remnants of Occupy congregated: there was one in Union Square, right in front of their encampment. I reported here on my experience of witnessing a white van marked "Indiana Energy" that was lifting workers up to the lampposts all around Union Square, and installing a type of camera. When I asked the workers what was happening – and why an Indiana company was dealing with New York City civic infrastructure, which would certainly raise questions – I was told: "I'm a contractor. Talk to ConEd."

I then noticed, some months later, that these bizarre camera/lights had been installed not only all around Union Square but also around Washington Square Park. I posted a photo I took of them, and asked: "What is this?" Commentators who had lived in China said that they were the same camera/streetlight combinations that are mounted around public places in China. These are enabled for facial recognition technology, which allows police to watch video that is tagged to individuals, in real time. When too many people congregate, they can be dispersed and intimidated simply by the risk of being identified – before dissent can coalesce. (Another of my Facebook commentators said that such lamppost cameras had been installed in Michigan, and that they barked "Obey", at pedestrians. This, too, sounded highly implausible – until this week in Richmond, British Columbia, near the Vancouver airport, when I was startled as the lamppost in the intersection started talking to me – in this case, instructing me on how to cross (as though I were blind or partially sighted).

Finally, last week, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly to unveil a major new police surveillance infrastructure, developed by Microsoft. The Domain Awareness System links existing police databases with live video feeds, including cameras using vehicle license plate recognition software. No mention was made of whether the system plans to use – or already uses – facial recognition software. But, at present, there is no law to prevent US government and law enforcement agencies from building facial recognition databases.

And we know from industry newsletters that the US military, law enforcement, and the department of homeland security are betting heavily on facial recognition technology. As PC World notes, Facebook itself is a market leader in the technology – but military and security agencies are close behind.

According to Homeland Security Newswire, billions of dollars are being invested in the development and manufacture of various biometric technologies capable of detecting and identifying anyone, anywhere in the world – via iris-scanning systems, already in use; foot-scanning technology (really); voice pattern ID software, and so on.

What is very obvious is that this technology will not be applied merely to people under arrest, or to people under surveillance in accordance with the fourth amendment (suspects in possible terrorist plots or other potential crimes, after law enforcement agents have already obtained a warrant from a magistrate). No, the "targets" here are me and you: everyone, all of the time. In the name of "national security", the capacity is being built to identify, track and document any citizen constantly and continuously.

The revealing boosterism of a trade magazine like Homeland Security Newswire envisions endless profits for the surveillance industry, in a society where your TV is spying on you, a billboard you drive by recognizes you, Minority Report style, and the FBI knows where to find your tattoo – before you have committed any crime: "FBI on Track to Book Faces, Scars, Tattoos", it notes; "Billboards, TVs Detect your Faces; Advertisers Salivate", it gloats; "Biometric Companies See Government as the Driver of Future Market Growth", it announces. Indeed, the article admits without a blush that all the growth is expected to be in government consumption, with "no real expectation" of private-sector growth at all. So much for smaller government!

To acclimate their populations to this brave new world of invasive surveillance technologies, UK Prime Minister David Cameron and and his Canadian counterpart, Stephen Harper, both recently introduced "snoop" bills. Meanwhile, in the US – "the land of the free" – the onward march of the surveillers continues apace, without check or consultation.

The Patriot Act Is A Crime Against U.S. Citizens <--> Telecom Crimes & Punishment
--> Time For A Corporate Death Penalty? <--

Pussy Riot trial gives Russia 'the image of a
medieval dictatorship'

Even some of Putin's supporters are aghast at the penal term handed out to the feminist punks. Amid a global storm of protest, signs have emerged that they might be released early - but a deep national rift remains

Miriam Elder,, Saturday 18 August 2012 17.58 BST, Article Source

Demonstrators at the Russian embassy in London. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Demonstrators at the Russian embassy in London. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

A storm of criticism broke in Russia following the harsh two-year prison sentences given to three members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot for protesting against the government in a Moscow cathedral. Those openly critical of the jail terms included some who are close to Vladimir Putin and others with strong links to the church, increasing pressure on the authorities to treat the trio more leniently.

Three members of the punk collective – Maria Alyokhina, 24, Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22 – were sentenced to serve two years in a penal colony on Friday after being found guilty of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred". A Moscow judge rejected the defence's argument that the band's performance of an anti-Putin "punk prayer" was a form of political protest and ruled that it was motivated by hatred for Russian Orthodoxy.

Alexey Kudrin, a former finance minister who remains a close ally of Putin, said: "The verdict in the case against the Pussy Riot punk band isn't only a fact in the lives of three young women; it is also yet another blow to the justice system and, above all, Russian citizens' belief in it."

Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, another member of the country's minority liberal elite, also attacked the verdict, calling it a "strategic error that terribly damages the authority of the justice system". He voiced the widespread belief that the court case was politically orchestrated: "We don't know who took the final decision – the Kremlin? The patriarch? Probably not the court itself."

Opposition activists have accused Putin of orchestrating the campaign against Pussy Riot. The trio were arrested after a brief performance in Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Saviour of a song calling for the Virgin Mary to "chase Putin out". The band formed in response to Putin's decision to return to the presidency, and have gone from being a radical fringe group to becoming the figureheads of a protest movement numbering tens of thousands.

The case against Pussy Riot was widely seen as serving as a warning to other protesters, as well as a means of appealing to Putin's deeply conservative base. A poll released on Friday by the Levada Centre, an independent pollster, found that 44% of Russians believed the case against the band was conducted in a just manner. Most of those polled also believed the case was initiated by groups linked to the Russian Orthodox church.

In a sign that the women might be released early in a bid to ease tensions and boost Russia's international image, the church released a statement late on Friday calling on the authorities to show mercy. "Without putting the correctness of the court's decision into any doubt, we call on the state authorities to show mercy to the convicts, within the framework of the law, in the hope that they will refrain from repeating blasphemous actions," the statement said.

Andrei Isayev, a high-ranking member of the ruling United Russia party, also spoke out against the verdict. "The verdict is harsh. The president still might take a decision. But nonetheless this verdict which, probably, will be taken negatively by some of our liberal intelligentsia, will be taken as just by a significant number of people."

Lawyers for the Pussy Riot trio have said they will appeal. A request for a pardon would require an admission of guilt, which the women have said they will not give.

Even some of Putin's loudest supporters called the verdict a mistake. Tina Kandelaki, a prominent media personality and Putin cheerleader, called the verdict and sentence "information suicide" and "wrong at its very roots".

"For some reason, from the very beginning, Putin's advisers gave the president a new 'Khodorkovsky'," she said, referring to jailed oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, whose arrest in 2003 signalled Putin's willingness to jail political critics, say critics.

"The millions of dollars of taxpayer money spent in the last few years on fixing the image of our country abroad have been thrown to the wind," she said. "Our image in the eyes of the world is getting closer to a medieval dictatorship, although in reality we are not that."

The case has deepened the rift that emerged in Russian society following the unexpected appearance of a mass protest movement against Putin's return to the presidency. Some in the opposition movement gave dire predictions of what lay ahead.

Referring to the performance art collective Voina ("War"), from which Pussy Riot emerged, opposition Duma deputy Dmitry Gudkov tweeted after the verdict: "So, there was the art group War, and now there will be real war. Idiots."

Condemnation also came from western capitals and human rights groups. The US state department said it was concerned by the ruling and urged the Kremlin to review the case. Former foreign secretary Malcolm Rifkind said the verdict had done "real damage" to Russia's image internationally. "It creates an image of a neanderthal country which can imprison young people for indulging in silly pranks. It is a huge own goal. Putin will have alienated a large amount of Russian youth in the process."

Amnesty International called the verdict a "travesty". "[It] shows that the Russian authorities will stop at no end to suppress dissent and stifle civil society," Michelle Ringuette, of Amnesty, said in a statement. "Each step in the case has been an affront to human rights."


Yulia Kalinina - In a comment article for Moskovsky Komsomolets, a popular tabloid

"In the middle ages, they would have been burned at the stake for 'demonism'… Part of the punishment is very similar to the middle ages [when] people were tried for something they didn't do. Today, they're tried in the same way… They were tried 'for politics'. For 'Virgin Mary, chase Putin out'."

Vedomosti - Financial daily

"Shouts were heard in the courtroom and outside immediately after the sentence was announced: "Shame!" "Inquisition!" "Fascists!" and "Russia without Putin!" The police began to arrest those who shouted."

Marat Guelman - Former Kremlin spin doctor

"No matter how much we didn't like what they did, what the authorities started to do with them afterwards is a much, much more aggressive performance… If you've insulted somebody, you must understand that someone might not agree with you.

"I must have the right to say openly: there is no God, that the Gospel is just a tale. I must know that I won't go to jail for that. What happened today is a step towards a fundamentalist government."

Komsomolskaya Pravda - Popular tabloid newspaper

"Who could imagine even half a year ago that the main news in the political life of a huge country would be the verdict against three idiots, tried under the everyday law of hooliganism. Liberal social activists, supporters of non-traditional sexual orientations, the creative intelligentsia and many others threw themselves into supporting the scandalous group Pussy Riot."

Beth Ditto - I Wrote The Book (JVB Extended Version) -

Ravel double bill at Glyndebourne - live stream
Ravel double bill at Glyndebourne -- live stream

Ravel's short operas, l'Heure Espagnole and l'Enfant et les Sortilèges are brought to dazzling life in Glyndebourne's new production. We're streaming them live on Sunday 19 August: bookmark this page and come back at 18:30 to watch
• L'heure espagnole: 18:30-19.25 | Interval: 19:25-20.00 | L'enfant: 20:00- 20:52 (Timings are approximate)
Join the conversation on our open thread or on Twitter: #raveldoublebill
• Click here for a synopsis and here for our audio guide
Technical FAQs
The operas will be available to view again until 26 August - Article Source

Pussy Riot found guilty of hooliganism

Garry Kasparov among those arrested as hundreds gather outside Russian court where the verdict is delivered

Associated Press,, Friday 17 August 2012 14.02 BST, Article Source

Three members of Pussy Riot were arrested in March after a guerrilla performance in Moscow’s main cathedral. Photograph: Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters
Three members of Pussy Riot were arrested in March after a guerrilla performance
in Moscow’s main cathedral. Photograph: Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters

Russian police have rounded up pro-Pussy Riot protesters, including former world chess champion Garry Kasparov and leftist opposition group leader Sergei Udaltsov after the feminist punk band was found guilty of hooliganism in one of the most closely watched cases in recent Russian history.

Hundreds of Pussy Riot supporters had filled a narrow street outside the court where the verdict was delivered, chanting "Russia without Putin!" amid heavy police presence.

The judge said the women had committed hooliganism driven by religious hatred.

The three were arrested in March after a guerrilla performance in Moscow's main cathedral calling for the Virgin Mary to protect Russia against Vladimir Putin, who was elected to a new term as Russia's president a few days later.

They face a maximum seven years in prison. The sentence is to be handed down later on Friday.

The case has attracted international attention as an emblem of Russia's intolerance of dissent. It also underlines the vast influence of the Russian Orthodox Church. Although church and state are formally separate, the church identifies itself as the heart of Russian national identity and critics say its strength effectively makes it a quasi-state entity.

Protests timed to just before the verdict or soon afterward were planned in more than three dozen cities worldwide.

Prosecutors have asked for three-year sentences, down from the possible seven-year maximum and Putin himself has said he hopes the sentencing is not "too severe".

Celebrities including Paul McCartney, Madonna and Bjork have called for them to be freed, and protests are planned around the world Friday.

Before Friday's proceedings began, defence lawyer Nikolai Polozov said the women "hope for an acquittal but they are ready to continue to fight".

There was a heavy police presence around the court building in central Moscow, where hundreds of protesters and band supporters were gathering.

Even if the women are sentenced only to time already served, the case has already strongly clouded Russia's esteem overseas and stoked the resentment of opposition partisans who have turned out in a series of massive rallies since last winter.

The case comes in the wake of several recently passed laws cracking down on opposition, including one that raised the fine for taking part in an unauthorised demonstrations by 150 times to 300,000 rubles (about $9,000).

Another measure requires non-government organizations that both engage in vaguely defined political activity and receive funding from abroad to register as "foreign agents". has not been compromised !!!

It Appears Google Wants to Shut Down and says THIS SITE = = MAY BE COMPROMISED

The above graphic says:

July 2012 Archive
This site may be compromised.
Jul 1, 2012 -- Flying Snail - News & Views for Remnants of Paradise .... a strong feminist (and in Russia, utterly alien) message is at the heart of their work

Here are W3C Validations of the Above Page: July 2012 W3C Validation, August 13, 2012 = PASSED, VALID - 08/13/2012 W3C CSS July 2012 Validation, August 13, 2012 = PASSED, VALID - 08/13/2012

Who's Alien?  U.S. Out of North America, Nobody for President
Who's Alien? U.S. Out of North America, Nobody for President

Is Google doing this because flyingsnail does not succumb to Google advertisements, is not a member of Google Webmasters, Google+, YouTube, will not use Google's Chrome browser, and does not have a Gmail account because Google turns over user information to outside sources 94% of the time ???

Of course there is another way to look at this. Google is a brand, just like Walmart, and generates profit. FlyingSnail does not provide income for Google and, therefore, gets diminished ratings ???

The are many scary things going on in the Internet and here are a few examples one may not be aware of:

Google on Tuesday said it will begin tracking people as they use Google search and Gmail, watch YouTube videos and use other Google services--at their computers and on their mobile devices. - USA Today, Byron Acohido and, Roger Yu, Published on Wednesday January 25, 2012

Google admits tracking Safari users -- Internet giant says it circumvented security settings in browser to track users on desktops and iPhones - The Guardian, Charles Arthur, Friday 17 February 2012 12.59 EST

Google Earth Will Track Cars and People In Real Time, Eventually Destroy Privacy - Gizmodo, Jesus Diaz, Sep 30, 2009 10:20 AM

W3C says google & youtube are Not Valid:

Google fails W3C Validation on Monday, August 13, 2012 = ERRORS, NOT VALID - 08/13/2012

YouTube fails W3C Validation Monday, August 13, 2012 = ERRORS, NOT VALID - 08/13/2012

W3C says flyingsnail is Valid: PASSES W3C Validation on Monday, August 13, 2012 = PASSED, VALID - 08/13/2012 RSS Validation, August 13, 2012 = PASSED, VALID - 08/13/2012

August 12, 2012, Today

If one believes what they read or see on Internet, this should be an interesting day:

Who is Alien?
U.S. Out of North America, Nobody for President

The Rock = Best Weather Forecasting System = Ever:

Dogwood Weather Station, Delaware: Meteorology Photograph by B. Carmine
Dogwood Weather Station, Delaware: Meteorology Photograph by B. Carmine

Pussy Riot trial:
closing statement denounces Putin's 'totalitarian system'

Punk band's members claim they are freer than those carrying out their prosecution as judge sets 17 August for verdict

Miriam Elder in Moscow,, Wednesday 8 August 2012 15.33 BST, Article Source

Pussy Riot members, from left, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich sit in a glass cage at a court room in Moscow. Photograph: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP
Pussy Riot members, from left, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich
sit in a glass cage at a court room in Moscow. Photograph: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP

Three members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot said Vladimir Putin's Russia was the one on trial as they delivered closing arguments on Wednesday in a case seen as a key test of the powerful president's desire to crackdown on dissent.

"This is a trial of the whole government system of Russia, which so likes to show its harshness toward the individual, its indifference to his honour and dignity," Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, one of the trio on trial said in an impassioned statement. "If this political system throws itself against three girls … it shows this political system is afraid of truth."

The judge set 17 August as the day she would deliver a verdict against the women, charged with hooliganism motivated by religious hatred following an anti-Putin performance in a Moscow cathedral.

Prosecutors have asked for a three-year sentence, arguing that the women sought to insult all of Russian Orthodoxy and denying they were carrying out a political protest.

Tolokonnikova called the charges against them a "political order for repression" and denounced Putin's "totalitarian-authoritarian system", insisting Pussy Riot were an example of "opposition art".

"Even though we are behind bars, we are freer than those people," she said, looking at the prosecution from inside the glass cage where she and her two bandmates, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich, have spent the nine-day trial. "We can say what we want, while they can only say what political censorship allows.

"Maybe they think it wouldn't be wrong to try us for speaking against Putin and his system, but they can't say that because it's been forbidden," she said, wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the revolutionary words "No Pasaran".

Couching their case in the long plight of political prisoners in the country, the three women urged Russians to reject Putin's system and embrace freedom.

Alyokhina, 24, compared the trial to the Soviet Union's persecution of Joseph Brodsky, when the young poet was charged with being a "social parasite", becoming a global cause celebre that highlighted the government's farcical control over culture.

"We are not guilty – the whole world is talking about it," Alyokhina said, hours after Madonna became the latest, and biggest, star to come to the women's defence.

"I am not scared of you," Alyokhina told the court. "I'm not scared of lies and fiction, or the badly formed deception that is the verdict of this so-called court. Because my words will live, thanks to openness.

"When thousands of people will read and watch this, this freedom will grow with every caring person who listens to us in this country."

Lawyers for Pussy Riot have been expecting a guilty verdict and three-year sentence, but said that was called into question following the judge's delay in issuing her decision. Lawyer Nikolai Polozov said growing international attention, including recent messages of support from the likes of Madonna and Yoko Ono, had had their effect. "To take a quick decision under such pressure is very dangerous for the authorities, so they've taken a time out," he told the Guardian. "No matter what the verdict is, we have won," he added.

Each woman ended her closing statement to loud applause from the Russian journalists sitting in the courtroom.

Politicians Are Liars, Crooks, and Baby Murderers

Steve Bell cartoon on Cheney/Bush bombing Iran
Steve Bell

Republicans, with Democrat help, Tag U.S. Citizens:
"A nation of whiners" in a "mental recession."

Phil Gramm: "Mental Recession... Nation of Whiners"

Republicans and Democrats are:
Perverts Supporting Torture

Bush: We Don't Torture People

Bush: We Don't Torture People

Republicans and Democrats are:
Criminals Supporting Illegal Spying on U.S. Citizens

Judge Napolitano: Why The Patriot Act is Unconstitutional
The Patriot Act - Telecom Crimes and Punishment

Appeals Court OKs Warrantless Wiretapping

By David Kravets, 08.07.12 3:16 PM, Article Source

The federal government may spy on Americans' communications without warrants and without fear of being sued, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday in a decision reversing the first and only case that successfully challenged President George W. Bush's once-secret Terrorist Surveillance Program.

"This case effectively brings to an end the plaintiffs' ongoing attempts to hold the executive branch responsible for intercepting telephone conversations without judicial authorization," a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wrote. (.pdf)

The case concerned a lower court decision in which two American attorneys -- who were working with the now-defunct al-Haramain Islamic Foundation -- were awarded more than $20,000 each in damages and their lawyers $2.5 million in legal fees after a tortured legal battle where they proved they were spied on without warrants.

They sued under domestic spying laws Congress adopted in the wake of President Richard M. Nixon's Watergate scandal. The government appealed their victory, and the appeals court Tuesday dismissed the suit and the damages.

Jon Eisenberg, the lawyer for the two attorneys, said he may request the court to reconsider its decision with a larger panel of judges, or petition the Supreme Court.

"This case was the only chance to litigate and hold anybody accountable for the warrantless wiretapping program," he said in a telephone interview. "As illegal as it was, it evaded accountability."

The San Francisco-based appeals court ruled that when Congress wrote the law regulating eavesdropping on Americans and spies, it never waived sovereign immunity in the section prohibiting targeting Americans without warrants. That means Congress did not allow for aggrieved Americans to sue the government, even if their constitutional rights were violated by the United States breaching its own wiretapping laws.

"Under this scheme, Al-Haramain can bring a suit for damages against the United States for use of the collected information, but cannot bring suit against the government for collection of the information itself," Judge M. Margaret McKeown wrote for the majority. She was joined by Judge Michael Daly Hawkins and Judge Harry Pregerson. "Although such a structure may seem anomalous and even unfair, the policy judgment is one for Congress, not the courts."

The court, during oral arguments in June, expressed concern that it may reach this result.

Judge Hawkins, during those arguments, noted that the law spells out that those who were illegally spied upon may seek monetary damages. But if Congress did not intend for the government to be sued, "it would make the remedy illusory," Hawkins said.

The court did not comment on the spying allegations of those involved in the case. It also dismissed claims against FBI Director Robert Mueller, saying there was not enough evidence linking him to the spy program the Bush administration adopted in the wake of the 2001 terror attacks.

Subsequently, Congress authorized Bush's spy program in 2008, five years after the illegal wiretapping involved in this case.

The Bush spy program was first disclosed by The New York Times in December 2005, and the government subsequently admitted that the National Security Agency was eavesdropping on Americans' telephone calls without warrants if the government believed the person on the other end was overseas and associated with terrorism. The government also secretly enlisted the help of major U.S. telecoms, including AT&T, to spy on Americans' phone and internet communications without getting warrants as required by the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the law at the center of the al-Haramain dispute.

A lower court judge found in 2010 that two American lawyers' telephone conversations with their clients in Saudi Arabia were siphoned to the National Security Agency without warrants. The allegations were initially based on a classified document the government accidentally mailed to the former al-Haramain Islamic Foundation lawyers Wendell Belew and Asim Ghafoor.

The document was later declared a state secret, removed from the long-running lawsuit and has never been made public. With that document ruled out as evidence, the lawyers instead cited a bevy of circumstantial evidence that a trial judge concluded showed the government illegally wiretapped the lawyers as they spoke on U.S. soil to Saudi Arabia.

The other major case challenging the wiretapping program, the Electronic Frontier Foundation's case against the government, alleges a wholesale vacuuming of Americans' communications. That case was sent back to a district court after it survived an appeals court ruling in December.

Republicans and Democrats are Zionist tools who:
Murdered Women, Children, Babies, Civilians, and Military
In An Illegal Nation Building War

Shock and Awe the initial bombing of Baghdad

Bush Iraq Murders Proof Of Guilt

Bush/Cheney Arrest Warrant - VFP

Republicans and Democrats are:
Lying Hypocrites Who Support Selective Terrorism Against U.S. Military

USS Liberty Cover Up: The Loss Of Liberty - Read Part of the Real Story

Richard Nixon: Liar Says What? "I'm not a crook"

None of the Above
Should Be On Voter Ballots

Dear Citizens of the World,

I believe the time has come to reveal to you some of the perplexities you have faced in recent decades.

It is important to understand some of these things, so that you might know how to behave in the New Order now taking shape on this planet you call Earth. We want you to be able to become fully involved and integrated into our new society. After all, doing this is for your best interest.

First of all, it is best if you understand some of our purposes so that you may more fully cooperate. I cannot tell you the hard times you will face if you resist us.

We have ways of dealing with resisters and you are being told this now, since it is much too late to turn things around. The days of putting a stop to us have long since past.

We have full control of the earth and it's finances, along with control of major corporate media propaganda, and there is simply no way any nation or power can defeat us.

We have eyes in every level of government in every nation of the world. We know what is being planned, for our ears and eyes are ever present. State secrets are fully known to us.

U.S. corporate media are constantly accused of lying for their government by everyone; including foreign governments.

Oh, you silly people, of course we lie. In this way we can keep the people unbalanced and always facing controversy, which is very helpful to us. Have you not seen the talk show spectacles on FOX?

Some of you believe we are the liberals and the good people are the conservatives. In reality, both serve our purposes. Each camp merely serves with the stamp of our approval, but they are not allowed to present real issues.

For example, consider BP's Oil Spill. By creating controversy on all levels, no one knows what to do. So, in all of this confusion, we go ahead and accomplish what we want with no hindrance. If fact, we teach this within a fraternity in one of your nation's older universities.

Consider President George W. Bush of the United States. Even though he regularly broke every known check on his power, no one could stop him, and he went ahead, and did whatever we wanted him to do.

Congress and 'The People' had no power to stop him. He did what we wanted, since he knew, if he did not, because of his rather dark character, we could have him removed in an instant. I'd say it was, "Rather brilliant strategy on our part?"

You cannot take us to court because you can't see us and the courts are our servants as well. We run everything and you do not know who to attack. I must say this invisible hand is wonderfully devised without any known historical precedent on this scale. We rule the world and the world cannot even find out who is ruling them.

This is truly a wonderful thing. In our corporate media, we present before you exactly what it is we want you to do. Then, as if in a flash you, our little servants, obey!

We can send American or European troops to wherever we like, whenever we like, and for whatever purpose we like, and you dutifully go about our business and don't even look up to see the poisons we are spraying on you in the form of chemtrails. How much more evidence do you need?

We can make you desire to leave your homes and family and go to war merely at our command. We only need to present some nonsense to you from the president's desk, or on the evening news, and we can get you all fired up to do whatever we like. You can do nothing but what we put before you.

Your Vain Resistance

When any of you seek to resist us, we have ways of making you look ridiculous with corporate media, as we have done with all your movements to show the world how impotent any resistance is.

Look at what we did near Waco. Did the Davidian's little store of weapons help them?

We have generously taxed you and used that money to make such sophisticated weapons you can in no way compete. Your own money has served to forge the chains we bind you with; especially, since we are in control of all money.

Some of you think you may escape by buying some land in the country and growing a garden. Let me remind you that you still pay us ground rent. Oh, you may call it property taxes, but it still goes to us.

You see, you need money no matter what you do. If you fail to pay your ground rent to us, we will take your land and sell it to someone who will pay us. Do you think we cannot do this? And with your ground rent we pay for the indoctrination of your children in the public schools we have set up.

We want them to grow up well trained into the system of our thinking. Your children will learn what we want them to learn, when we want them to learn it, and you pay for it through your ground rent.

Those funds are also used for other projects we have in mind, like drilling for oil in the Gulf, and our contractors are paid handsomely for their work.

You may doubt that we own your children, or have such control, but you will find that we do. We can declare that you abuse your children, when you spank them, and have them confiscated. If they do not show up for school indoctrination, we can accuse you of neglect, thereby, giving them to us.

Your children are not yours. They are ours. You must inoculate them, you must bring them to our hospitals, if we decree, or we will take them from you. You know this and we know this.

Through our electronic commerce and iDevices we are able to see where you are, what you are buying, and how much you have to buy things with. Where do you suppose we come up with our monthly financial statistics?

Through the Internet, Telecoms, and other sources we can even know how you think and what you say. It is not especially important to us what you believe as long as you do what we say.

Your beliefs are nonsense anyway. But if you think you have a following, and we perceive that you might be somewhat dangerous to our agenda, we have ways to deal with you. Do you remember how we used Telecoms to spy for us?

We have a Pandora's box of mischief with which to snare you. We can have you in court so long, you will never get out. We can easily drain away all your assets over one pretext or another. We have an inexhaustible fund with which to draw from to pay our lawyers.

These lawyers are paid by you in the form of taxes. You do not have this vast supply of wealth. We know how to divide and conquer. Have we not brought down rulers of countries through our devices?

Do you think your tiny self will be any match for us?

Your Vain Organizations

Let us consider your religions, tea parties, and "moral majority."

The "moral majority" is neither moral nor is it in the majority. We have delighted to use this wet noodle of a movement to make ridiculous the Christian faith.

The silly men who run that organization always end up with egg on their faces. We have always put them in defense of themselves, as we have so successfully done with the NRA.

We can make it seem, by our corporate media propaganda, that the National Rifle Association is actually the new Al Qaeda.

Have we not turned the American conservative movement on its ear? If it serves our purposes we can use the conservatives to turn the liberals on their ear.

It makes no difference to us but it serves to make you believe there are two sides struggling for their particular position. This helps to make things seem fair and free, since everyone has a voice.

Actually, there is only one side now with all kinds of masks on, but you are unable to penetrate our purposes.

You see, we can do whatever we like and you can do nothing about it.

Does it not seem reasonable that you should simply obey and serve us? Otherwise, you get eaten up in the resistance you suppose that will liberate you.

You cannot be liberated ... Try to Imagine how you can.

We supply fuel for your cars and we can turn it off whenever we like, claiming there is some sort of fuel shortage. What if your car breaks down? You cannot get parts for it without us.

We supply all money you use and at any whim of our desire, we can stop the money supply, or ... cause a complete crash all together.

We can then order the president to declare all money worthless and that we will have to have new money. All of your stashes of cash will go up in smoke in an instant.

Don't you need food?

If necessary, we can cause a trucker's strike which would stop deliveries of food to your local store. We can starve you whenever we like. You only have food because we have provided it for you from our 'supermarket to the world' table.

During the great depression we controlled food and heaped mountains of it behind fences, to let it rot.

The hungry were then made to work in our labor camps, even though there was enough, and more, to feed them. Do you really think you can beat us?

You say you will hoard gold coins so you will still have money in the time of the crash. We can simply pass a law which outlaws the possession of gold as we have done in the past.

If we find gold in your possession, we would simply confiscate it, and put you in prison for breaking the law.

While in prison, or at one of our recently reconstructed FEMA camps, you would be required to work for one of our prison industries. We have so formed a picture of the labor camps in our prisons, these days, that no one seems to object to them.

We tell people that murderers should pay for their own keep.

No one seems to consider that we have the power to put tomato growers in prison.

We can pass laws that prohibit gardens, and then make up some scientific reason why you may only buy food from our sources.

If someone sees you growing tomatoes, they will report you to us, and then we will have you in our fields, working for us.

Oh, silly, stoned out of your minds, people, there is no escape for you, for since long before you were born, we were planning your capture.

Your teachers and ministers have been forming your thoughts for us, for generations now. You have been tricked into taking corporate drugs that were intended for short term usage, which have turned you into a nation of controlled mood zombies, and you have no idea how to pull out of our influence, short of suicide. Go ahead and commit suicide, it will only help us to deal with excessive population.

You cannot hurt us, find us, or even imagine what we are up to. I am throwing you these few crumbs only so that you may, if you have a little good sense, obey and follow our orders.

Your Controlled Mind

We run Hollywood. The movies such as Terminator and Armageddon, along with a great host of others, were simply created to get you thinking according to our directions.

You have been made to delight in violence, so that when we send you off to kill some bad man, we have put before you, you move without a whimper.

We have placed violent arcade games in your malls to prepare your young children's minds in the art of battle.

We have made you view our armies and police as the good forces, which cause you to submit to things that were unthinkable a few decades ago.

We totally orchestrated 9/11 and blamed it on somebody else using our corporate media and through our lobbies, Congress.

Think about it ... Congress spent about 60 million (60,000,000) of your income tax dollars, to discover if Monica swallowed (a little pre-reality show we dreamed up) and a little over 3 million dollars on the 9/11 Commission because we did not want an investigation of secret energy meetings or 9/11 to surface. See how easy it is to trick you?

Our artful programs are all designed to help you to submit and help the New World Order. Star Trek, and other such creations, have taught you to simply: obey orders from new international rulers.

Oh, silly people, you thought you were being entertained, while you were actually being educated. Dare I use the words, "brainwashed" or "mind control?" By the way, have you ever seen Star Wars?

What a masterpiece of mental manipulation. Humans confer with nondescript beasts of all shapes and sizes, and they confer in English.

I wonder where those space beasts learned English. Oh, the simple-ness of the mind of the citizen, for sh-he never considers sh-he is being taken into fairyland.

We placed advertisements for Star Wars everywhere you go. They were in WalMart, K-Mart, Taco Bell and a host of our institutions of corporate commerce.

There is something we want you to learn from Star Wars. Or, perhaps it could be said, there is something we do not want you to learn. Either way, we will have what we want in the whole affair.

Of course, to keep you off guard, we have instructed our elected officials to appear to be correcting the evil of our violence. Presidents often speak against violence in Hollywood movies.

This will not solve the problem, but it will make the people believe the problem is being worked on.

Sex and violence are the very best powers to use, to help us gain our advantage. How the people loathe to give up their sex and violence, so we place all they want before them. In this way, we keep them so occupied they do not have the integrity or brain-power to deal with the really important matters which are left entirely in our hands.

President Bush was very helpful to us. We knew of what character he was before we placed him as president. Exposing him was very helpful in adjusting the moral habits of the youth downward and this is too, our advantage.

Even more agreeable to us were the vain efforts of those who thought they could remove him against our will. He was useful to us and we control who is removed or not removed.

Excuse me if I seem to be mocking your system of beliefs, but they are rather outdated. Have you no eyes to see your vain liberties and your righteous pontifications are nothing before us? You can only do what we say you can do.

We remove presidents when we are ready and the leader we set up will be there until it serves us to have another. At that time we place our purposed politicians before you, and you vote for what we want.

In that way we give you the vain voting exercise in the belief you had something to do with placing your politicians in office.

Our Unfathomable Mysteries

Our recent war in Iraq had many purposes to it, but we do not speak of these things openly. We let the talk show hosts blather all sorts of nonsense, but none of it touches the core.

First of all, there is a wealth of natural resources on the planet we must have complete control of.

Iraq has large supplies of oil in its soil and oil is very helpful to our regime. Also, it suits us to keep this oil out of the hands of potential enemies.

For those who have not been helpful in getting these resources into our hands, we simply make things difficult until submission. Does anyone recall the word "sanction?"

We can reduce any proud nation to the level of humility we require from all people. For example if Zionist Israel does not sufficiently humble itself, we will take them to the world court, and have them charged with "war crimes." We made up that term; rather ingenious, don't you think?

How could there be such a thing as a war crime? The very nature of war is that the rules are off. It is so entertaining to watch the nations try to fight war according to the laws we have placed before them.

The only war crime there really is, involves the crime of being against us.

Anyone against us is violating our law and, as you have seen, when someone is for us, we do not care what they do. Was not Ariel Sharon a self professed murdering terrorist who tortured and horribly killed many of his enemies women and children? We made a hero of him. And what about the Bush administration? Are any of them in jail? No, they are still working for us and on your televisions, getting paid big salaries.

We observe no laws when it comes to war. We do what we want, when we want, and where we want.

We can starve nations to death, ruin civilizations, and commit other horrors for which we take our enemies to court. Look at one of our examples.

We bomb Iraq out of its wits. We can bomb rock throwing Palestinians out of their homes, poison their rivers and streams, turn off their electricity, making a grand crisis, and then we masterfully make it appear it is the fault of Islam.

It is the same way we made our inferno at Waco look like Mr. Koresh's fault. Then there was our chief villain, Saddam with all of his non existent weapons of mass destruction.

Bad men are a dime a dozen, we can conjure one up whenever it suits us, and ultimately, this is really quite funny when you think of it.

I am not one who is usually given to 'this sort' of humor, but I do catch myself laughing sometimes at the absolute absurdity of the notions we place before you, that you readily accept.

Do you wonder that the leaders of the world tremble at our presence? They know they have no power except the power we give them.

We have no fear of Russia or China, for we are already in full control of their system of things.

China knows we can freeze any number of their corporations in America and all of its capitol at the stroke of a pen. We use nations for what we want to use them for. Everyone knows that they must yield to us or die.

Fortunately, we have had a few resisters, such as Saddam, that have been helpful in showing world leaders what we will do to them if they do not submit.

There is only glory in following our purposes and doing what we say. If one does not, there will be a sad and tragic result.

I would have spared you of such an end, but, then, again, if you are not spared, it is of no consequence to us. We will use you to alleviate some of the overpopulation problem.

Your Silly Rebellions Against Us

Some of you have thought you could stop us by placing a bomb in one of our abortion clinics or in a government building.

Silly souls! How can that hurt us? All that does is give us an example to use so that we might place more controls, and heavy burdens, on the population.

We love it when you rebel and blow something up. You are our reason for making more laws against all those things, which might contribute to your freedom from us.

If someone did not blow something up on occasion, we would have no justification in placing more laws on you. Can't you see how impossible it is for you to resist us? The more you wiggle, the more we squeeze.

It is said our kingdom is the kingdom of money, but I must confess we are rulers of a kingdom of non-money.

You must see the humor in that statement. We have given you a piece of paper or some numbers on a computer screen that we have termed money.

It is backed up by nothing and proven by nothing, but what we say it is. We create it from nothing, we print it, we loan it, we give it its value, we take its value away. All things that have to do with money are in our hands.

Think of it, what is it that you can do against us without money? If you try to resist, we can cancel your credit or freeze your accounts. Your cash is easily confiscated.

We have made so many rules in the realm of living that you cannot live without money.

Camp on government land and you must move in two weeks. You cannot grow much of a garden in two weeks.

Many of our wilderness trails are entered by permit only.

We have passed laws that do not allow you to live in trailers over a certain period without moving to another location.

Have you not thought it ridiculous that we will allow a man to live in a box, full time, but we will not allow a man to live in a RV, full time, unless he is in a taxpaying campground? We want you to be in the system.

When you are buying a house, we not only receive the tax revenue to use for our purposes, but we gain large increases from the interest on the loan. You may pay for your house two or three times over from the interest alone. The interest is also taxed which is again placed for use in those sectors of influence we choose.

We do not want you to escape free and that is why we have made it as we have.

You are our property. We will not permit you to buy or sell unless you submit to our mark of authority.

If you go to court against us, we will wear you out, and in the end you will lose.

If you use violence, we will end up having you in one of our labor camps; more specifically called, prison industries.

You need our money, our entertainments, our fuel, and our utilities to function and if you don't have them, you feel deprived. By this, you are made to yield to our will.

You don't even know how to think anymore since we have thoroughly emasculated your religions and your faith in God. Now, you only have yourself ... and we have gotten 'that self' pretty well chasing its tail these days.

I hope this little note is sufficient to inform you what the new millennium is all about.

The 21st century is our century. You may stay if you do as you are told.

We have no intention of playing around with your so-called human rights or your so-called Constitution. These things were only used for our purposes, for a time. Your Constitution is a joke to us, and we can do with it what we please.

It probably never occurred to you, that years ago, your Constitution was used to refuse abortions. When we decided to have abortions legalized, we used the same Constitution to justify it.

Your human rights are what we say they are and your Constitution is what we say it is.

We have only used this phrase of "human rights" to keep things sufficiently in turmoil. The more things are unsettled, the better we like them, until we have everything in complete servitude.

This little letter may offend some of you, because it is presented so plainly, but that truly is no concern of ours. In simple terms, to quote our boy Dick Cheney, "You're eff'd!" Have a nice day... Permalink Source

Amestizo - BLOG

She's Alive... Beautiful... Finite... Hurting... Worth Dying for.

Erik Moll Update Aug 12:

Hi y'all,

Yessirree things are rollin' on!

School concerts in SW Norway in March-April with my acoustic trio were great!

I had a wonderful and creatively productive trip to Texas last May-June. Wrote some good songs with 6 different Austin artists at House Of Songs in Austin, visited (and partied some) with old friends and finished off with a nice few days of pickin' at the Kerrville Folk Festival which is indeed a home of its own!

Back in Vikingland, I've been vacationing some and look forward to getting together with my previous backing band of young guns to play for the first time in years doing a 2 nighter at the Sildajazz festival in Haugesund on the west coast of Norway next weekend.

I'll be doing some solo gigs in Rosendal, Oslo and Stavanger in Sept and Oct as well as an appearance in Bergen with my acoustic trio in Nov.

I miss Texas all the time!

Erik -

New Zealand Mount Tongariro volcano erupts

New Zealand volcano erupts

Mt Tongariro on the North Island erupts for first time in 115 years, blanketing wide area with ash but causing no injuries

Madonna backs Russia's Pussy Riot at Moscow concert - video

In Moscow to perform a concert, Madonna urges the Russian authorities not to jail the three women from punk band Pussy Riot. She says it would be a tragedy if they went to prison. The women are on trial, accused of inciting religious hatred by protesting in a Moscow cathedral

Credit crunch: elusive ghosts of the financial feast lurk in the shadows

It is half a decade this week since the 'world changed', in Adam Applegarth's famous phrase. But what has happened to the architects of economic meltdown? And has anything really changed for them?

John Harris,, Monday 6 August 2012 22.32 BST, Article Source

Customers of Northern Rock queue outside the Kingston branch of the company in London on September 15, 2007. Photograph: Cate Gillon/Getty Images
Customers of Northern Rock queue outside the Kingston branch of the company in
London on September 15, 2007. Photograph: Cate Gillon/Getty Images

When Adam Applegarth was forced out of a sinking Northern Rock in December 2007, it was amid the kind of numbers that tend to dance in front of your eyes. In the five years running up to the bank's spectacular crash he had been paid around £10m. During the 18 months immediately before he cashed in shares worth £2.6m. On leaving he secured a golden goodbye to be paid in monthly instalments, totalling £760,000. His pension, payable when he turns 55, is worth £304,000 a year.

The year after his exit he was glimpsed in a very familiar setting, once again turning out for the second XI of his beloved Sunderland Cricket Club. "This summer," said one of his old associates, "he will be putting his feet up. He is playing an awful lot of cricket, enjoying his motors and travelling."

In the autumn of 2009 Applegarth became a senior adviser to the American private equity firm Apollo Management, advising a new arm, the European Principal Fund, on the buying-up of distressed debt – perhaps a field of expertise. Three years on he remains in the job and shielded behind a communications firewall administered by a New York PR firm called Rubenstein Associates, whose other clients include Walt Disney, the Las Vegas Comedy Festival, and the American Kennel Club.

When I contacted them, I was handed over to a breathlessly efficient operative called Melissa, who said I should send over my questions. With a view to at least trying to get his attention, I kept them non-confrontational, and short: What does Mr Applegarth's role at Apollo involve? Could he explain how the depth of banks' problems in 2007 first revealed itself to him? And how has his life been since? Twenty-four hours later she called back: "Put us down for a decline to comment," she said.

So, on to another lead. In September 2010 it was reported that Applegarth had joined his son Greg in setting up a company called Beechwood Property Management, in which he held 55 of the 100 shares. Their documents list both men's occupation as "consultant". Their registered office is on the 11th floor of a gleaming Newcastle office block called Cale Cross House, but when I called the in-house security guard he had never heard of them. In fact, this is merely the address of their accountants – who passed on a message, with no result.

There is no entry for Beechwood Property Management in the phone directory, nor has it a website. On the face of it, it is a ghost outfit, whose existence is only noticeable to those hard-bitten people who pore over records held at Companies House.

Such is the great cloud of silence that now surrounds people who were once among the loudest voices in the financial services industry.

The reclusive lifestyle of former Royal Bank of Scotland chief Fred Goodwin barely needs mentioning. Steve Crawshaw, who turned Bradford and Bingley from a staid building society into a specialist in self-certified mortgages and left the company weeks before it had to be nationalised, has apparently retired to the Yorkshire countryside: his only publicly-recorded activity these days is as the chair of the advisory board of the School of Management at Bradford University, who forwarded him my list of questions, but I heard nothing back.

Even the few who still have heavyweight business roles keep schtum: there may be a beautiful poetry in the fact that the former HBOS chief executive Andy Hornby is now the boss of Coral bookmakers, but getting him to talk is a non-starter. "As the article does not relate to his current role at Coral he wishes to respectfully decline your request," said his spokesman.

At the height of a financialised age, it was the done thing to refer to these people as "Masters Of The Universe". Five years on, picking through the subsequent career histories of those who sparked first the credit crunch and then the crash, the suggestion of omnipotence sounds absurd. Most of the people at the centre of the events of 2007-8 tend to suggest a much less titanic stereotype: the faded rock star, often still trying to keep their hand in, well aware that the hits have dried up, the old tricks have long since turned embarrassing, and their time has passed.

Meanwhile, a very awkward question sits in the public mind: will there ever be any convincing payback?

In the US, only a tiny handful of former bankers have been criminally indicted on charges relating to the crash: most notably, Ralph Cioffi and Matthew Tannin, two former Bear Stearns employees – and one-time sub-prime specialists – who were acquitted of fraud and conspiracy in November 2009. In February this year a civil case brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission was settled on the basis of a $1.05m payout from the two, which the judge in charge termed "chump change".

The only big figure sent to jail for his part in two decades of crazed speculation and irresponsibility has been Bernie Madoff. By contrast, the people who bundled up the bad debt in arcane financial instruments that pushed the world to the brink of ruin are still out there: hugely diminished – but free, and hardly penniless.

Even those who steered Lehman Brothers into catastrophe and thus started the decisive crash of 2008 seem to have got away with it. In May this year an internal memo from the SEC leaked to Reuters said that after its investigation into the bank it had been "determined that charges will likely not be recommended".

Which brings us to 780 3rd Avenue in Manhattan, the location of an almost comically dull office block that looks like a giant house brick.

Inside is the HQ of Matrix Advisors. Its founder is a byword for the events of 2007-8: Dick Fuld, the CEO of Lehmans, until its cataclysmic demise. Back then, he was the pumped-up corporate icon once known as "the Gorilla", the man who summed up his business style with the boast that he wanted to reach into the bodies of Lehmans' competitors, "rip out their hearts and eat it in front of them before they die".

These days he apparently flits between New York and his homes in Florida and Sun Valley, Idaho – on bog-standard commercial flights, according to witnesses – looking after a tiny outfit which provides "strategic advice to client management teams and senior employees … across all aspects of business". One source close to Fuld has said that the workforce extends to "a young guy from Lehman and two secretaries". When I called their office, I therefore had the tantalising sense that the figure most indelibly associated with the crash might only be a few yards from the person parrying my questions. Her name was Carla Schiavo: she suggested I send over a few lines of inquiry.

What, I asked, does Mr Fuld's work at Matrix Advisors involve? What are his views on the aftermath of the credit crunch and how banks and regulators have responded? What did the financial services industry need to do to recover its esteem? Eventually, Schiavo pointed me in the direction of Fuld's lawyer, a former president of the New York Bar Association named Patricia Hynes – who, predictably enough, did not deign to reply to either phone calls or emails.

Two months ago Fuld was seen at an ice hockey game between the New Jersey Rangers and the New York Devils. An eyewitness reported on the scene for the Wall Street news and gossip site Dealbreaker: "He was with two goons who were clearly his bodyguards, one sitting next to him in a tan jacket and the other one standing behind him in black. Fuld was wearing a suit … I guess to try and look like he actually has a job he was coming from before the game."

Documents filed with US regulators two years ago said Fuld's work at his new venture stretched to around 60 hours a week. Such hard graft may be a necessity: proof, as with the sale of his Park Avenue apartment three years ago (for $25.87m) that he may not be enjoying quite the life of unending luxury that some would imagine, and setting money aside for future litigation, which has so far been met from the coffers of Lehmans' insurers. There is also an abiding sense of twitchiness. When a reporter doorstepped him three years ago, he blurted out: "You don't have a gun. That's good."

For others who were intimately involved in the crash, there is a similar sense of shrunken lives, and mouths sealed shut. Kathleen Corbet was the president of the hugely important ratings agency Standard & Poors, but quit in August 2007 just as it started to become clear that the safe-as-houses triple-A ratings given to mortgage-backed securities had turned out to be illusory. She is now in charge of Cross Ridge Capital, a small private equity firm based in New Canaan, Connecticut – and did not respond to messages asking for her take on what happened in 2007 onwards, and what has transpired since.

Neither did Maurice "Hank" Greenberg, who pumped up AIG to the point that the American group became the biggest insurance company in the world – only to watch it plunge towards bankruptcy and become 80% nationalised by the US government.

He resigned two years before the start of the crash, in 2005, in the midst of the accounting scandal that began the firm's nosedive – but the fact that he avoided direct involvement in the crash presumably accounts for the fact that in controlled circumstances, he can speak with a belligerence that might suggest the events of 2007-8 never happened.

"We now have huge government, which is not the creator of opportunity – it's the private sector that creates opportunity, so our basic values are under attack," he recently said, warning against the prospect of "regulating ourselves out of business". By way of putting his money where his mouth is, Greenberg is suing the US state for $25bn, alleging that AIG's board was "coerced" into turning over control of the company to the federal government.

Such a high-profile action contrasts with the post-crash story of his old AIG colleague Joseph Cassano – the man who sold credit default swaps in London to keep the money coming in, and thereby pushed the company towards such ruin that it needed £182bn of US taxpayers' money to keep it alive. Back then, Cassano lived in an opulent townhouse behind Harrod's. He has since moved back to Westport, on Long Island Sound, where he is apparently unemployed, and uncontactable.

But if there is one man who remains the best embodiment of all the delusion and absurdity that led to the crash, it is 74-year-old Angelo Mozilo, the son of a Bronx butcher, a man so tanned that his skin looks like an orange dipped in toffee. Until July 2008 he was the chairman and chief executive of Countrywide Financial, the USA's biggest provider of sub-prime mortgages. Between 2001 and 2006 he took home something in the region of $470m.

The company crashed from August 2007 onwards, finally being bought out by the Bank Of America. In a civil case that ended in October 2010 Mozilo settled with the SEC to pay $22.5m to cover allegations of fraud and insider trading, with a further $45m going to his company's former shareholders to cover "ill-gotten gains", to be taken from BoA and Countrywide's insurers.

The SEC's director of enforcement said this: "Mozilo's record penalty is the fitting outcome for a corporate executive who deliberately disregarded his duties to investors by concealing what he saw from inside the executive suite – a looming disaster in which Countrywide was buckling under the weight of increasingly risky mortgage underwriting, mounting defaults and delinquencies, and a deteriorating business model." At the same time, Mozilo was cashing in shares to the tune of $285m.

Last year a criminal investigation into Mozilo's activities was shelved. But the intrigue swirling around him will not go away: four years after stories about his firm's dealings with American lawmakers first appeared in the media, a Congressional Committee has alleged that Mozilo ran a "Friends of Angelo" unit to grant influential members of congress preferential loans, and thereby subdue any drive to rein in his very risky kind of business.

The impact of what Mozilo and his company did cannot be overstated: it was Countrywide that led the drive to drown the international financial system in bad debt, while he was paying himself spectacular amounts of money. In Wall Street, the City and beyond, the result of what he and his colleagues were doing was a deathly panic, and the end of the boom years; in the real world, millions of people had their homes repossessed or lost their jobs and now we labour under the austerity cuts that still grip the Western economies like a vice.

In May this year a piece in the LA Times reported that Mozilo and his wife Phyllis had sold their home in Thousand Oaks, 29 miles west of near LA, for $2.9m. It described a "Georgian Colonial-style two-storey" property, sitting above the second fairway at the Sherwood Country Club, complete with "a cherry-finished library-office, five bedrooms, six bathrooms and an oversized four-car garage", along with "an infinity pool, spa, lawn and a built-in barbecue".

Reading it, you wondered if perhaps, in their own way, the Mozilos were feeling the pinch. And then came the last sentence, and the sickly scent of the high life, uninterrupted: "They hold other southern California properties in trust, in Riverside and Santa Barbara counties."

Financial crisis: 25 people at the heart of the meltdown - where are they now?

In 2009 the Guardian identified 25 people -- bankers, economists, central bankers and politicians – whose actions had led the world into the worst economic turmoil since the Great Depression. On the fifth anniversary of the credit crunch, what are they doing?

Rupert Neate,, Monday 6 August 2012 20.49 BST, Article Source

Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan testifying before the US Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission in 2010. Photograph: J Scott Applewhite/AP
Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan testifying before the US Financial Crisis
Inquiry Commission in 2010. Photograph: J Scott Applewhite/AP

Central bankers

Alan Greenspan, chairman US Federal Reserve 1987-2006
A disciple of libertarian icon Ayn Rand, Greenspan became chairman of the Fed just in time to save the global economy from the 1987 stock market crash from becoming a full-blown disaster. He went on preside over the boom years of the 90s and lead the US economy through the aftermath of the September 11 attacks and was widely referred to as an "oracle" and "the maestro".

But Greenspan's super-low interest rates and consistent opposition to regulation of the multitrillion-dollar derivatives market are now widely blamed for causing the credit crisis. Under Greenspan's tenure the derivatives market went from barely registering to a $500 trillion industry, despite billionaire investor Warren Buffett warning that they were "financial weapons of mass destruction".

His rock-bottom rates encouraged Americans to load up on debt to buy homes, even when they had no savings, no income and no job prospects.

These so-called sub-prime borrowers were the cannon fodder for the biggest boom-bust in US history. The housing collapse brought the global economy to its knees.

He was given an honorary knighthood in 2002 for his "contribution to global economic stability", but in 2008, at a Congressional hearing investigating the causes of the financial crisis, Greenspan finally admitted he "made a mistake in presuming" that financial firms could regulate themselves.

"You found that your view of the world, your ideology was not right, it was not working?" Henry Waxman, the committee chairman, said.

"Absolutely, precisely," Greenspan replied. "You know, that's precisely the reason I was shocked, because I have been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well."

After he quit the Fed, in 2006, Greenspan joined Pimco, the world's largest bond investor, as a special consultant. Pimco's co-founder Bill Gross said Greenspan had helped make the firm "billions of dollars'' in his role as a consultant.

Gross said Greenspan's "brilliance" was a "big money saver for us''. "He's made and saved billions of dollars for Pimco already,'' Gross said in 2008.He has also advised Deutsche Bank and hedge fund billionaire John Paulson.

Greenspan has also found time to criticise current Fed chairman Ben Bernanke's programme of quantitative easing. "I've stayed away from commenting on Fed policy," he said on US TV earlier this month. "I will say this, however, that the data do show that the expansion of assets has had very little impact on the economy, for an important reason, that we've created a major increase in the asset side of the Fed balance sheet and a very large trillion and a half increase in excess reserves."

Mervyn King

Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England

At his first meeting chairing the Bank's monetary policy committee (MPC) interest rates were cut to an historic postwar low of 3.5%. King's ambition as governor was to make the Bank "boring". If only that had been the case.

He was slow to react to the crisis and initially refused to follow Greenspan in pumping cash into the system. The Treasury select committee (TSC) said he should have noticed that the housing bubble was becoming unstable and should have been "more pro-active" to damp it down.

Just the other week King finally admitted that the financial crisis was the result of "major mistakes" by policymakers and not just the fault of greedy bankers.

At the government's Global Investment Conference in London in the buildup to the Olympics he said: "We saw this going into the crisis, we kept meeting at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), but we did nothing to solve it collectively, and I don't think that this was a problem that could have been solved individually."

More recently, King had to face the TSC to explain why the Bank failed to spot the Libor interest rate-fixing scandal that pre-dated the credit crunch and last month Bob Diamond stepped down as chief executive of Barclays after King let it be known Diamond no longer had the confidence of the Bank.

In the shake-up of regulation that followed the financial meltdown, the governor of the Bank of England has emerged with more power than ever. However, King is due to stand down next summer, with former cabinet secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell and deputy governor Paul Tucker the favourites to replace him.


Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton, former US president

Politicians' current plan to help prevent another financial crisis is to ringfence banks' risky "casino banking" divisions from the more pedestrian high street banking departments. 13 years ago Clinton repealed the Glass-Steagall Act, which had done just that. Clinton's move, which came after fierce lobbying from bankers, heralded the birth of superbanks and primed the sub-prime pump.

He also signed the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which exempted credit-default swaps from regulation. Around the same time Clinton also beefed up President Carter's 1977 Community Reinvestment Act – forcing lenders to take a more sympathetic approach to poor borrowers trying to get on the housing ladder.

Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown, former prime minister

Brown's big boast as chancellor was that he had "abolished Tory boom and bust". He hadn't. His prime ministerial tenure was spent presiding over the biggest bust since the Great Depression.

In his last big speech before becoming prime minister just before the crisis began he praised bankers for their role in bringing in a "new golden age for the City of London".

To tempt foreign bankers to work in the City he backed low taxes for non-doms and "light-touch" regulation that meant they could get away with a lot more in London than elsewhere.

Brown is now working on projects to improve child poverty levels and education, worldwide, with organisations such as the United Nations.

George W Bush

George W Bush, former US president

The meltdown happened on Bush's watch. While Clinton got the ball rolling with sub-prime lending, Bush failed to bring in much tighter regulation, bar the Sarbanes-Oxley Act brought in after the Enron scandal. And he didn't do a lot to stop the boom in lending to "Ninjas" [no income, no job applicants].

Nouriel Roubini, the economist who earned the nickname Dr Doom for his prediction that the crisis was about to hit, blames Bush. Obama "inherited a mess", Roubini has said. "We're lucky that this Great Recession is not turning into another Great Depression."

Bush is in self-imposed political exile and has been notable for his absence in Mitt Romney's campaign to become the next Republican president. "He is enjoying his life in Texas. He's not seeking the limelight. And he is really focused on the Bush Center," his spokesman said recently. He has "no plans to endorse, at least not at present," the spokesman added.

The former president has written a book, Decision Points, about the 14 biggest decisions of his presidential career. The former president was paid $7m for 1.5m copies.

Phil Gramm

Senator Phil Gramm

"Some people look at sub-prime lending and see evil. I look at sub-prime lending and see the American dream in action," Gramm told a Senate debate in 2001.

Another dynamite quote. "When I am on Wall Street and I realise that that's the very nerve centre of American capitalism and I realise what capitalism has done for the working people of America, to me that's a holy place."

It was Gramm that had fought hardest for deregulation and helped write the law that enabled the creation of financial giants such as Citigroup and Bank of America.

He remains unrepentant. Just a couple of weeks ago Gramm, who went on to work for Swiss investment bank UBS until earlier this year and is now a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said: "I don't see any evidence that allowing them to affiliate through holding companies had anything to do with the financial crisis nor has anybody ever presented any evidence to suggest that it did."

Sandy Weill, however, a man with hands-on experience of running a too-big-to-fail bank as the former chairman and chief executive of Citigroup, begs to differ. Last week Weill said: "What we should probably do is go and split up investment banking from banking, have banks be deposit takers, have banks make commercial loans and real-estate loans and have banks do something that's not going to risk the taxpayer dollars, that's not too big to fail."

Weill added: "The world changed with the collapse of the housing market and the real-estate bubble … so I don't think it's right anymore (to have huge investment and retail banking combines)."

Wall Street/Bankers

Abi Cohen

Abby Cohen, Goldman Sachs senior strategist

Bear market? Cohen appears not to have heard of the term.

She made a name for herself in the late 1990s by being the bullest of the bulls during the dotcom bubble, and it's hard to remember when she hasn't been bullish since.

She's still a bull now. "If we were to look just at fair-value estimates over the next year to three, we think that returns that are roughly 8-10% on the stock market are sensible," she told Bloomberg last week.

Kathleen Corbet

Kathleen Corbet, former CEO, Standard & Poor's

The credit rating agencies, of which S&P is the biggest, gave triple A ratings to the mortgage-backed securities that turned toxic and were accused of conflict of interest because the bond issuers were paying them for the ratings. As one S&P analyst wrote in an email, "[A bond] could be structured by cows and we would rate it."

Another analyst emailed a colleague: "Let's hope we're all wealthy and retired by the time this house of cards falters."

Corbet resigned amid a wave of criticism in 2007. She has since set up a company to invest in tech, energy and, of course, financial services companies. She has a tumblr, but is yet to actually blog.

Hank Greenberg

Maurice "Hank" Greenberg, former chief executive AIG insurance group

While AIG was taking a multibillion-dollar bailout from the US Treasury and the Fed after its massive credit default business went sour, 100 AIG execs where spending $444,000 on a golf and spa retreat in California. "Have you heard of anything more outrageous?" said Elijah Cummings, a Democratic congressman, said. "They were getting their manicures, their facials, pedicures, massages, while the American people were footing the bill."

Greenberg, now 87, has now started over – and is running C V Starr & Co, a private equity firm named after AIG's founder Cornelius Vander Starr. Hank's son Scott is helping tap up sovereign wealth funds and the ultra-wealthy for cash for buyout deals expected to last a decade.

Andy Hornby

Andy Hornby, former HBOS boss

The former wunderkind of British business who came top of his 800-strong class at Harvard and rose to become a board director of Asda by the age of 32 was the man running HBOS when it had to be rescued by Lloyds. His reputation took a knocking from the FSA, with the regulator finding HBOS guilty of "very serious misconduct" in the run up to its taxpayer bailout and rescue by Lloyds. But he's still a busy man. After HBOS's demise he was installed as chief executive of Alliance Boots (he quit last year with no payoff) and is currently chief executive of bookies Coral and non-executive chairman of online and mail order pharmaceuticals business pharmacy2U.

Fred Goodwin

Fred Goodwin, former RBS boss

Fred "the shred" was stripped of his knighthood earlier this year as public anger over his role in causing the financial crisis reached boiling point. Goodwin, who has been dubbed "the world's worst banker", brought Royal Bank of Scotland to its knees via a series of over-ambitious acquisitions. A string of 20 takeovers transformed RBS into a global leader but Goodwin wasn't satisfied and just before the financial crisis struck he led a $100bn takeover of Dutch bank ABN Amro.

RBS went on to record the biggest annual loss in UK corporate history and had to be bailed out by the government to the tune of £45.5bn. It is now 82%-owned by the state.

Goodwin hit the headlines again recently when he was blamed for a crisis at Scotland's biggest architecture firm, RMJM, where he was an adviser. About 80 staff left the firm after a battle over unpaid fees.

Steven Crawshaw

Steve Crawshaw, former B&B boss

What would the fictional Mssrs Bradford and Bingley say? The two bowler-hatted gents represented good, old-fashioned prudent banking. B&B's downfall can perhaps be traced to a single moment of arrogance in 1995 when it splashed out more than £1,000 for Stan Laurel's bowler hat to display at its head office.

Steven Crawshaw bought the specialist lender Mortgage Express from Lloyds TSB, which catered for the self-employed, those seeking second-home finance and buy-to-let mortgages. The loans earned the nickname "liar loans" because the applicant didn't have to prove they had a regular income. When the wholesale money market collapsed, so did B&B, as it couldn't finance the loans. Eventually, B&B was nationalised, a few weeks after Crawshaw stepped down with heart problems. He left with a pension worth £105,318 a year.

He has apparently retired to the Yorkshire countryside, and his only public role appears to be chairing the advisory board of the School of Management at Bradford University.

Adam Applegarth

Adam Applegarth, former Northern Rock boss

Applegarth transformed Northern Rock from a sleepy Newcastle building society into the nation's fifth-largest mortgage provider. But the business collapsed and images of customers queuing up outside Northern Rock to rescue their savings have became the dominant memory of the financial crisis.

In the five years running up to the bank's disaster, he was paid around £10m. During the 18 months immediately before, he cashed in shares worth £2.6m.

He collected a £760,000 payoff despite the TSC savaging his conduct at the bank. It was also later revealed that he was having an affair with a junior colleagues during the crisis.

In 2009 Applegarth started his first job post-Northern Rock, advising US private equity firm Apollo Management. He is no longer listed as part of the team on the company's website. But remains in the post advising the firm's European Principal Fund on buying up distressed debt.

He has also reportedly set up a company, Beechwood Property Management, with his son Greg. But there is very little publicly available information about the company.

Richard Fuld

Dick Fuld, chief executive Lehman Brothers

"The Gorilla of Wall Street", as Fuld was known, steered Lehman deep into the business of sub-prime mortgages. Lehman took the loans and packaged them up into (soon-to-be toxic) bonds which they sold to investors.

Fuld is said to have raked in almost $500m in pay and bonuses during his tenure as chief executive, but the 66 year old insisted to Capitol Hill that he actually only earned $300m. During the testimony, Fuld was asked if he wondered why Lehman Brothers was the only firm that was allowed to fail. "Until the day they put me in the ground, I will wonder," he said.

A lot of Americans might have been stung by the collapse in property prices in the wake of the crisis. Not Dick, in November 2008 Fuld transferred the ownership of his $100m Florida mansion to his wife. They had bought it four years earlier for $13.5m.

In 2009 Fuld joined US hedge fund Matrix Advisors. A year later he joined broker Legend Securities, he left the firm earlier this year.

Ralph Cioffi

Ralph Cioffi and Matthew Tannin

Cioffi and Tannin are two of a very small group that have faced financial penalty for their role in causing the crisis. The pair, who ran Bear Stearns hedge funds that went bankrupt in 2007, were accused by the SEC of misleading investors about the risks of sub-prime loans.

This summer the pair agreed to pay$1.05m to settle the charges. US District Judge Frederic Block described the fine as "chump change". Their investors lost $1.6bn.

"I certainly would have liked my career to have ended differently," Cioffi said in a 2010 interview.

Lewis Ranieri

Lewis 'Lew' Ranieri, 'godfather' of mortgage finance

Ranieri wanted to be an Italian chef, but his asthma stopped him working in smoky kitchens. Instead he moved into trading via Salomon Brothers mailroom and pioneered the mortgage-backed bonds immortalised in Liar's Poker.

In 1984 Ranieri boasted that his mortgage-trading desk "made more money than all the rest of Wall Street combined". But when sub-prime borrowers started missing payments, the mortgage market stalled and bond prices collapsed. Investment banks, overexposed to the toxic assets, closed their doors and investors lost fortunes.

"I do feel guilty," Ranieri said in an interview in 2009. "I wasn't out to invent the biggest floating craps game of all time, but that's what happened."

He blames Wall Street for misusing his brainchild to construct "affordability products" that homeowners really couldn't afford.

Joseph Cassano

Joseph Cassano, AIG financial products

Cassano has been dubbed "patient zero" of the global economic meltdown. He ran the AIG team that sold credit default swaps in London that led the company into bankruptcy and a massive bailout. Democratic senator John Sarbanes said Cassano "single-handedly brought AIG to its knees".

After the bailout Cassano refused all media interviews and had not spoken about the crisis until he was called before the US congress financial crisis inquiry commission in July 2010. "I think there would have been few, if any, realised losses on the CDS contracts had they not been unwound in the bailout," he said, adding: "my perspective diverges in important ways from the popular wisdom".

Cassano, who used to live in an opulent townhouse behind Harrods, has since moved back to Westport, on Long Island Sound, where he is apparently unemployed, and uncontactable.

Chuck Prince

Chuck Prince, former Citi boss

Just when the sub-prime crisis was starting to take hold in the summer of 2007, Prince told the FT he didn't expect the brewing crisis to hurt his bank. "As long as the music is playing, you've got to get up and dance. We're still dancing," he said. Shortly afterwards the music stopped and Citi racked up more than $45bn of writedowns.

Recently, Sandy Weill said handpicking Prince to be his successor was "one of the major mistakes that I made".

Last year Price said: "If we want a better outcome, supervisors and business leaders had better do something different this time around."

He hasn't been heard from again since.

Angelo Mozilo

Angelo Mozilo, Countrywide Financial

Mozilo popularised the notion that practically anyone could have a massive mortgage, even if they didn't have a job. Countrywide was the world's biggest sub-prime lender before it was rescued from bankruptcy by Bank of America.

The SEC investigated Mozilo over fraud and insider dealing charges, but in the end he agreed to pay a $67.5m fine and accept a lifetime ban from serving as a company director. The fine represents just over a 10th of Mozilo's estimated net worth of $600m. The SEC's director of enforcement said: "Mozilo's record penalty is the fitting outcome for a corporate executive who deliberately disregarded his duties to investors by concealing what he saw from inside the executive suite – a looming disaster in which Countrywide was buckling under the weight of increasingly risky mortgage underwriting, mounting defaults and delinquencies, and a deteriorating business model."

Earlier this year, Mozilo, who was known as "the orange one" for his effervescent tan, hit the headlines again when Congress released a report into how Countrywide used its "VIP program" – which offered favourable terms to influential figures – to influence Washington policymakers.

Mozilo and his wife Phyllis sold their LA home for $2.9m earlier this year. The LA Times described it as "Georgian Colonial-style two-storey" property, sitting above the second fairway at the Sherwood Country Club, complete with "a cherry-finished library-office, five bedrooms, six bathrooms and an oversized four-car garage". The couple still own a string other luxury homes in southern California.

Stan O'Neal

Stan O'Neal, former boss of Merrill Lynch

Another casualty of the thirst for CDOs. By June 2006, Merrill had amassed $41bn in sub-prime CDOs and mortgage bonds, according to Fortune.

O'Neal, who had Merrill security guards hold a lift at all times for his exclusive use, was booted out (with a $161.5m golden parachute) and Bank of America snapped Merrill up less than a year later.

There were rumours O'Neal was going to join Vision Capital, a hedge fund run by two visually impaired managers, but the role never materialised. Vision was later investigated by the SEC.

Jimmy Cayne

Jimmy Cayne, former Bear Sterns boss

While Bear Sterns was going bust Cayne was playing bridge in Detroit. He's quite an accomplished player and has won several rounds of the North American Bridge Championships. But he was less good at running Bear Sterns, with CNBC naming him one of the "worst CEOs of all time".

Bear Sterns was sold to JP Morgan for $10 a share, compared with the $133.20 a share it was trading at before the crisis. Cayne, who had a big stake in the company, lost about $1bn.

Cayne has now disappeared from the corporate public eye, but it is still possible to play him at bridge online.


Christopher Dodd

Christopher Dodd, former chairman Senate banking committee

Dodd pushed back against calls for tighter regulation on Fannie Mae and Freedie Mac, while receiving $165,000 in campaign donations from … Fannie and Freddie.

The Dodd-Frank Act, which aims to reform Wall Street, is named after him and financial services committee chairman Barney Frank. But Dodd disagrees with proposals to split up big banks' investment banking and high-street divisions. "[The idea that] breaking up these institutions is going to solve the problem, I think it's frankly too simplistic an approach," he said last week.

Geir Haarde

Geir Haarde, prime minister of Iceland 2006-2009

Haarde is the only politician to have been found guilty by a court of helping to cause the crisis. Earlier this year an Icelandic court found Haarde guilty of failing to hold emergency cabinet meetings in the run up to the crisis. Haarde fell from power after the country's three biggest banks collapsed, the country's economy went into meltdown, and the government was forced to borrow $10bn (£6.3bn) to prop up its economy.

During the trial, he said: "None of us realised at the time that there was something fishy within the banking system itself, as now appears to have been the case.

The American public
It wasn't just the bankers who were greedy. The men and women on the street took out billions of dollars of loans they knew they couldn't afford. American families' wealth has fallen by 38.8% between 2007 and 2010, according to the latest three-yearly data from the Fed. The collapse in house prices, which was caused by Americans' failure to keep up repayments on loans they couldn't afford, caused US families median net worth to decline from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010.

John Tiner

John Tiner, FSA chief executive 2003-07

He once had a reputation for being the luckiest man in the City. Without a university degree, he worked his way up to the top of accountant Arthur Andersen – and left nine months before it collapsed under the weight of fraud and false accounting at its client Enron.

In July 2007 he quit as chief executive of the Financial Services Authority with praise ringing in his ears (his leaving party reportedly cost the regulator £20,000). But the praise quickly evaporated, not least for the FSA's inadequate stewardship of Northern Rock, which was slammed in an internal report.

Tiner, who has a personalised T1NER numberplate, then joined colourful entrepreneur Clive Cowdery at insurance buyout vehicle Resolution. They bought Friend's Provident life insurance group but then the deals dried up and last week the group revealed it could no longer return cash, as expected, to shareholders.

Nobody Should Have That Much Power

Politicians spent 55 million of your tax dollars in order to discover if Monica swallowed and impeach a president because of sex.

Politicians spent a little over 3 million tax dollars on the 9/11 cOMMISSION and 3000 people murdered in New York.

What Are Politicians Trying to Hide?
Is It Cheney's Secret Energy Meetings, Which Doubled and Tripled the Cost of Gas???
Document Says Oil Chiefs Met With Cheney Task Force - Washington Post
Dick Cheney's Last Laugh - Mother Jones
Time For A Corporate Death Penalty - ???


Psychologists Agree that 9/11 was an inside Job & Offer help to Deniers


On September 11 Ask Yourself When History Repeats... Do We Notice? - February 27, 1933 Berlin Reichstag Fire and September 11, 2011 WTC/Pentagon Attacks = Hitler and George W. Bush's Administration
On September 11 Ask Yourself When History Repeats...
Do We Notice?

Happy People Dancing on Planet Earth via Rita & Mary
Video Credit: Matt Harding and Melissa Nixon; Music: Trip the Light

Explanation: What are these humans doing? Dancing. Many humans on Earth exhibit periods of happiness, and one method of displaying happiness is dancing. Happiness and dancing transcend political boundaries and occur in practically every human society. Above, Matt Harding traveled through many nations on Earth, planned on dancing, and filmed the result. The above video, the latest in a series of similar videos, is perhaps a dramatic example that humans from all over planet Earth feel a common bond as part of a single species. Happiness is frequently contagious -- few people are able to watch the above video without smiling. - Source

The beauty of the Higgs boson

The discovery of the Higgs boson is the jewel in the crown of particle physics

Jeff Forshaw, The Observer, Sunday 5 August 2012, Article Source

Albert Einstein's equation of general relativity is a thing of dazzling beauty. Photograph: Bettmann/CORBIS
Albert Einstein's equation of general relativity is a thing of dazzling beauty. Photograph: Bettmann/CORBIS

The dust is beginning to settle – a new particle has been discovered using the Large Hadron Collider. Discovering new particles of nature is not an everyday occurrence and we are reasonably entitled to proclaim that this is the arrival of the Higgs. We aren't certain, though: more careful examination of the particle's properties is needed before we can be – we want to know that it has spin zero and that it couples to other particles with a strength that is in proportion to their mass. Answers to those questions and to many others will follow over the coming months and years. This is all very important – but why? Why is the discovery of a new type of particle something to get so excited about?

The best way to appreciate the beauty of a discovery is to get stuck in, learn some mathematics and see those dazzling equations in all their glory. Examples include Einstein's equation of general relativity, Dirac's equation for the electron and the Lagrangian at the heart of the standard model of particle physics. But it is possible to get the gist of what a physicist means when they speak of a beautiful theory without the hard work. Before doing that let's be clear – this is a kind of life-changing beauty. This is not titillation and it is not a conceit of the human mind – it leaves everyone who has studied these things with an overwhelming sense that the natural world operates according to some beautiful rules and that we are very fortunate to be able to appreciate them. To spend time contemplating this is thrilling. We believe that these are universal rules that would also be uncovered by sufficiently intelligent aliens on a distant planet: we are discovering something at the heart of things.

The situation is extreme enough for greats such as Einstein and Hawking to invoke God. But they were certainly using the word to express the intimate relationship between the human mind and the glorious intelligibility of the universe. It feels like a personal thing – like we are relating to something very special. This is the sense in which Hawking once spoke of knowing the mind of God, but it doesn't really have anything to say about the existence or not of a creator, and Id be surprised if science will ever have anything much to say about that.

A beautiful piece of physics is elegant. An elegant theory has the capacity to explain many apparently different things simultaneously – it means that rather than needing a library full of textbooks to explain the workings of the universe we can manage with just one book. In fact the situation is better than that – the fundamental equations that underpin all known natural phenomena can be written down on the back of an envelope. That is really true – the nature of light, the workings of the sun, the laws of electricity and magnetism, the explanation for atoms, gravity and much more can all be expressed with breathtaking economy. It is like we are in the business of discovering the rules of an elaborate game and we have figured out that they are really very simple, despite the rich variety of phenomena we see around us. Uncovering the rules of the game is exciting, and maybe one day we will know all of the rules accessible to us – that is what people are referring to when they speak about a "theory of everything". It sounds very arrogant to speak about a theory of everything but those in pursuit of it are not so dumb. They are well aware that knowing the rules is not the whole story. A child can know the rules of chess but exploiting them to produce a classic game is far from easy. This is an illustration of how simple rules can lead to something very complicated. The study of complex phenomena and their emergence is another very exciting area of modern physics.

Beautiful physics is also compelling. It is as if nature possesses a kind of perfection that is guiding us in our pursuit of the rules of the game. The result is that we very often have little or no choice when figuring out what equations to write down. That is a very satisfying situation to be in. It means that when we try to figure out an equation to describe something important, such as how an electron behaves, instead of saying, "Well… the equation might look like this… or maybe it looks like that… or…" we have no choice and nature simply screams out at us: "The equation simply must look like this." Dirac's beautiful equation is just like that – it describes the electron and predicts the existence of its anti-matter partner, the positron. Our understanding of the origins of inter-particle interactions (aka force) is like this too – starting from a very dull theory in which particles do not interact with one another (so no stars or people) and the idea that nature is symmetric in a certain way we are absolutely compelled to introduce interactions into the theory – the symmetry forces our hand and dictates how the theory should look. Symmetry is so often the device that leads to elegant and compelling theories. A snowflake is symmetric – if I draw part of one you could probably do a good job of sketching the rest. Likewise equations can be symmetric, which means we only need part of one in order to figure out the rest. In the case of particle interactions, symmetry means we can infer their necessary existence starting from the simpler equations that describe a world without any interactions at all… and that really is beautiful.

The genius of Peter Higgs and the other physicists who proposed the existence of the Higgs boson was to take the idea of symmetry seriously. The same symmetry that gives us "for free" the theory of inter-particle interactions also appears, at first glance, to predict that nature's elementary particles should all be without mass. That is flatly wrong and we are faced either with ditching a symmetry that has delivered so much (although that was not known when the Higgs pioneers were beavering away in the early 1960s) or figuring out an ingenious solution.

-=-The Higgs idea is that solution – it says empty space is jammed full of Higgs particles that deflect otherwise massless particles as they move – the more a particle is jiggled by the Higgs particles the more it has mass. As a result, the fundamental equations maintain their precious symmetry while the particles gain mass. Faith in the idea that nature's laws should be elegant and compelling has, yet again, delivered insight. The Higgs discovery is the jewel in the crown of particle physics and a worthy testament to nature's astonishing beauty.

Pussy Riot campaigners hope for Madonna's support

Activists hope pop singer, due to sing in Moscow, will publicly express support for trio jailed after performing a 'punk prayer'

Paul Harris in New York,, The Observer, Sunday 5 August 2012, Article Source

Madonna performs in Poland as part of her world tour. She is due in Moscow this week. Photograph: Jacek Turczyk/EPA
Madonna performs in Poland as part of her world tour. She is due in Moscow this week. Photograph: Jacek Turczyk/EPA

Campaigners are hoping that pop superstar Madonna will publicly express her support for three imprisoned members of the feminist punk collective Pussy Riot when she gives a concert in Moscow this week.

Three members of Pussy Riot – Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich – face up to seven years in prison if found guilty on charges of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.

The trio were arrested after going to Moscow's Christ the Saviour cathedral in February and performing a "punk prayer" critical of the Orthodox church's support for the president, Vladimir Putin.

The women's plight has become a cause célèbre in the music world, with numerous stars taking a public stance in their support of the group.

American rockers Faith No More started the trend by inviting members of the Russian group who remain free to join them on stage during a recent performance at Moscow's Stadium Live club.

Anthony Kiedis, lead singer with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, wore a T-shirt emblazoned with the name Pussy Riot at a recent concert in St Petersburg. Indie band Franz Ferdinand, Peter Gabriel and Sting have all also issued messages of support.

"Surely the Russian authorities will completely drop these spurious charges and allow the women, these artists, to get back to their lives and to their children," Sting said in a statement. Meanwhile, a group of British musicians, including Jarvis Cocker, the lead singer of Pulp, and the Who's Pete Townshend published an open letter of support in the Times last week.

So far Madonna has not gone as far as her music industry comrades. The group view the star as an inspiration because of her willingness to upset the Roman Catholic church with her music, but she has not come out openly in support of them. In a recent television interview with a state-run Russian station, Madonna would only say she was "sorry that they've been arrested".

When Madonna takes the stage in Moscow this week, there will be many Pussy Riot fans and supporters in Russia and around the world hoping that she will take a stronger stance.

Steve Bell on Mitt Romney's visit to IsraelSteve Bell on Obama and Netanyahu: up close and personal
Cartoons by Steve Bell

Pussy Riot:
will Vladimir Putin regret taking on Russia's cool women punks?

The feminist collective hit the headlines when three members were arrested after an anti-Putin protest. Now they face up to seven years in jail, a prospect that has shocked and radicalised many Russians. On the eve of their trial, some of the women speak exclusively

Carole Cadwalladr, The Observer, Saturday 28 July 2012, Article Source

Pussy Riot on Putin, 'punk prayers' and superheroes - video: Khristina Narizhnaya

For two very full, very long days in Moscow, I have talked constantly to people about Pussy Riot. About how, back in February, three young women from a feminist punk-rock band sang a song in Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. How they were arrested, imprisoned, refused bail, and now face up to seven years in jail. How the orders for this seem to have come right from the very top of the Russian government. And how their trial – starting tomorrow – seems certain to become a defining moment in Putin's political career.

It is, many people say (practically everybody, in fact), a moment when Russia's future is, in some as yet undetermined way, being decided.

At 9pm on Thursday night, I'm at a rally of a couple of thousand anti-government protesters, hearing Pussy Riot's name being chanted in the crowd, and I think I have a grasp of the story. It's an astonishing tale of how three young women have brought Putin his biggest political headache yet. A story about art versus power. Of civil society versus church and state. Or as one film-maker who's documenting it says, "punks versus Putin". (He goes on to say, "It's Crime and Punishment, basically, but there's also a band in jail so it's a bit like The Monkees. Or a really warped Beatles film.")

I think I have it sort-of clear, and then three hours later, I'm led into a basement in an industrial art space and the story untangles. It becomes not just astonishing but absurd. Because here are Pussy Riot: in their balaclavas and brightly coloured dresses and tights, sitting cross-legged on the floor of a tiny, hot, brightly lit rehearsal room.

They're not the three young women in jail: Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Maria Alekhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29 – or Nadia, Masha and Katya, as they're known. Nobody has been allowed to see them. Not their husbands, families or friends. But Pussy Riot is not just three women. It's a collective of "more than 10" women, including two others who performed in the cathedral and are still at large. And all of them have vanished since the arrests. They've all gone to ground. This isn't surprising given the danger they're in. They've spent five months in hiding, waiting to see if they'll be arrested too. And this is their first interview for western media.

Although they're not the imprisoned women, they don't have to be. That's the intention of the balaclavas – they're meant to be anonymous, indivisible, representative. It doesn't matter which of them got arrested. That's the point – that they're not individuals, they're an idea. And that's the thing that has gripped Russia and caught the attention of the rest of the world, too: that the Russian government has gone and arrested an idea and is prosecuting through the courts with a vindictiveness the Russian people haven't before seen. An idea perpetrated by three young, educated, middle-class women, or devushki (girls), as the Russians call them.

And it's this that's the shock walking into the room. They're so young. So smiley. So nervous and bashful and embarrassed at the attention and not sure how to sit, or quite what they should and shouldn't say.

Pussy Riot aren't just the coolest revolutionaries you're ever likely to meet. They're also the nicest. They're the daughters that any parent would be proud to have. Smart, funny, sensitive, not afraid to stand up for their beliefs. One of them makes a point of telling me how "kindness" is an important part of their ideology. They have also done more to expose the moral bankruptcy of the Putin regime than probably anybody else. No politician, nor journalist, nor opposition figure, nor public personality has created quite this much fuss. Nor sparked such potentially significant debate. The most amazing thing of all, perhaps – more amazing even than calling themselves feminists in the land women's rights forgot – is that they've done it with art.

How does that feel? "It feels like a unique position to be in, but at the same time it's really scary. Because it's a great responsibility. Because we are not only doing it for us, we're doing it for society," says the one called Squirrel.

Most amazingly of all, perhaps, they've done it with art and rock music. The sledgehammer that they've used to take on the great might of the Russian state? That would be the colourful clothes they dressed up in. The jumping up and down they did. The funny lyrics they wrote. The loud songs they sang. That brilliant, witty, killer name.

The outfits are cartoonish, with bright, primary colours, but the masks aren't just there to shield their faces from recognition – their anonymity is both symbolic and integral to their entire artistic vision. They all have nicknames which, they say, they swap at random: Sparrow, who is 22, Balaclava, who is by some way the eldest at 33, and Squirrel, who is just 20 years old.

"It means that really everybody can be Pussy Riot… we just show people what the people can do," says Sparrow.

"We show the brutal and cruel side of the government," says Squirrel. "We don't do something illegal. It's not illegal, singing and saying what you think."

Sparrow is painfully shy and self-conscious at first. She is worried, especially that her English isn't good enough – that she won't be able to express herself properly – and she explains how she feels when she puts on the balaclava.

"When I'm in a mask I feel a little bit like a superhero and maybe feel more power. I feel really brave, I believe that I can do everything and I believe that I can change the situation."

Balaclava interrupts. "I disagree. We are not superwomen – we are pretty ordinary women and our goal is that all women in Russia can become like this without masks."

The film battery goes at that moment. And as Khristina Narizhnaya, the Moscow-based journalist who's filming the interview, changes the battery, they collapse theatrically on the floor, laughing and breathing heavy sighs of relief. "It's so strange," says Sparrow. "Seeing Pussy Riot in the papers, and on the news and the internet. You have friends saying, 'Did you see the last action?' And you have to say, 'Yes I saw it on TV'."

Do your parents know?

"No!" says Squirrel. "My dad would kill me!"

The details are so brilliant. Do you get a call, I ask, when you're out shopping and you have to dash home and put on your balaclava?

"No," says Sparrow. "It's like Batman: you always have it with you, just in case."

Just before I went to meet Pussy Riot, I'd been listening to an interview I'd do

It's an anxious time, he was saying. "I cannot think about anything else. I am literally thinking about it all the time. It's interesting that in a country that is so full of horrible things – bad and unjust and unfair things – the symbolism of this really stands out.

Russian radical feminist group Pussy Riot stage a protest against Vladimir Putin’s policies at Moscow’s Red Square last January. Photograph: Denis Sinyakov/Reuters
Russian radical feminist group Pussy Riot stage a protest against Vladimir Putin’s
policies at Moscow’s Red Square last January. Photograph: Denis Sinyakov/Reuters

"Because they are so young. Because they have children. Because what they have done is so unimportant and silly and has all of a sudden become so huge because of this disproportionate reaction. Because it touches so strangely on so many things, and this is where it becomes an event of almost historic proportions. It touches everything: the church and the state, believers and non-believers, the judge and the tsar, and this Russian thing that never ever ends."

There's so much history in Moscow. The streets are named after writers, the metro stations revolutionaries. On practically every corner, there's a statue. Earlier in the day, I'd met Pyotr Verzilov, Nadia's husband, at a statue of Engels, near the metro station named after Kropotkin – the anarchist. The day before, the country's most influential art critic, under a bronze Pushkin. Hanging about outside the metro station Kurskaya on the way to meet the women, I glance up and notice its old name still chiselled on the roof: Metropolitan Station VI Lenin. It's a city of ghosts and echoes, where a mummified body of a revolutionary lies in a windowless bunker next to a curlicued palace built by the tsars he had plotted to overthrow. And which is now inhabited by a man who once worked for the KGB.

Russia's leaders have always understood the potency of the visual imagery of power. Of hammers and sickles. Of nuclear warheads and a well-muscled man doing manly, bare-chested outdoor pursuits. And, in the latest instance: of five young women in brightly coloured balaclavas jumping up and down in the symbolic heart of the Russian state: Red Square.

It was this "action" in January – the fourth of the five they've done so far – that first brought them to the world's attention. They formed just after Medvedev had announced that Putin would return once again as president in November. And people realised that Russia was becoming, quite simply, a dictatorship.

Miriam Elder, the Guardian's Moscow correspondent, who has covered the case assiduously, met a group of them shortly afterwards, one of the very few journalists to have interviewed them. "They were just very determined. Very purposeful. Everybody was so angry at that time. But what came across was just how educated they were. How well thought out their ideas were. They quoted everybody from Simone de Beauvoir to the Ramones. It wasn't just a silly prank. There was a real message behind it."

Their concert in Red Square, which happened amid the huge public demonstrations that rocked Moscow last winter in the lead up to the elections, was so brilliant, so visually striking, so blatantly cheeky. But it was carried out at such great personal risk. A risk that became even more acute after they performed inside the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. A performance that led to three imprisoned women who could be jailed for up to seven years. Two of them – Nadia and Masha – have young children who they may not see grow up.

Did they have any idea of how much trouble they might get themselves in, I ask Elder.

"No, I don't think so," she says. "Though some of the things that they said slightly haunt me. Almost the last thing I said was something like, 'Aren't you scared of being arrested?' It was at the time when hundreds of people were being arrested. And one of them said, 'No, they're nicer to women, and when they throw you in the police van, you meet really cool people'.

"With hindsight, it seems obvious that something would happen to them." What do you mean? "It wasn't just performance art. It's taken things to a whole different level."

And it's that level that is so scary, that has scared so many people across Russia. "The Khodorkovsky trial [former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky who is now in jail] demonstrated that Putin would go after the oligarchs," says Pyotr Verzilov. It sent a very clear, unmistakable message to the oligarchs. And what the Pussy Riot trial is showing is that they'll go after anybody. Nobody is safe."

He's become the group's de facto spokesman, a slightly difficult position, given that they very carefully choose not "to assign roles" and that a strong feminist (and in Russia, utterly alien) message is at the heart of their work. He's also a key part of the creative team. He told me about the morning that he and Nadia, his wife, were arrested. "These men in suits with guns came running towards us shouting. There were around 25-30 of them shouting 'This is the FSB' and we were thrown to the floor.

"They were all wearing these expensive suits. You never see police officers looking as sophisticated as this. And then they transferred us to an expensive-looking SUV and we were taken to a police station and separated. Eight investigators arrived and we waited hours and then, from around 3-8am, I was interrogated."

Pyotr – or Peter as he calls himself to foreigners – was released. Nadia wasn't. A lot of people have suggested it's because Verzilov, who went to high school in Canada and holds dual Russian-Canadian citizenship, would pose an international problem that the Russian government doesn't want to face. "But I don't think it's that," he says. "It's just 'where do you stop?' If they try the other girls, if they try me, how many people would they try? The camera operator who was there? The AFP journalist? Where do you stop? Once you start arresting innocent people – and the police came to the church right after it happened and found no crime had been committed – where do you draw the line? Do you just start arresting everybody?"

The crime in question occurred on 21 February and took precisely 51 seconds. The five women and a film team, plus various supporters and a couple of journalists, entered the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, jumped over a gold rail, stood on the steps of the pulpit (a place where only men may stand) and performed the opening bars of a punk song. You can watch it on YouTube. It starts out as a religious hymn, then mutates into something Sex Pistols-esque, the women kneeling, genuflecting, crossing themselves, jumping up and down and, after a few seconds, being intercepted by security guards and led away.

It's not hard to see why religious believers would be shocked and offended. There's an elderly startled nun clearly visible in the video, and even if you're not a believer, the lack of respect accorded a place of worship is still pretty shocking.

After being ejected by cathedral guards, "the police came and they didn't even open a case," says Verzilov. "It was only after it appeared on YouTube under the name 'Virgin Mary Chuck Out Putin' and got all this attention – Patriarch Kirill watched it and, so the investigators told us, rang Putin and the head of the Moscow police – that it became this great big deal, that they decided that it was some sort of crime."

In the press, Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, called it "blasphemous", saying that the church was "under attack" and that "the devil has laughed at us".

The church's spokesman, Vsevolod Chaplin, said: "God condemns what they've done. I'm convinced that this sin will be punished in this life and the next, God revealed this to me just like he revealed the gospels to the church. There's only one way out: repentance."

A warrant was issued for "hooliganism" and, two weeks later, the three women and Verzilov were arrested. Nothing has been usual about the case. Nikolai Polozov, one of their lawyers, says that there's been a blatant disregard for due process: the imprisonment without trial; the refusal of bail; the lack of time they have to prepare the case.

Amnesty International has declared them Prisoners of Conscience. And Polozov says that "several key events point to the fact that the Kremlin is involved", not least blanket coverage on federal TV channels designed "to ruin the reputation of my defendants. Only one person, or people close to him, can do that."

In another extreme step, the trial, which starts tomorrow, will be streamed live on the internet. It's a move designed to give the appearance of transparency, Polozov says, but will actually have the reverse effect, allowing them to exclude press from the very small courtroom, and at contentious moments to simply "lose the feed".

What's not in dispute is that Pussy Riot did cause offence. But that was the point. "The church of Christ the Saviour was chosen for very specific, symbolic reasons," says Verzilov. "It was blown up by Stalin to show his power against the church and in the 60s was turned into a swimming pool."

And then the Soviet Union collapsed. "And Moscow's first post-Soviet mayor, Luzhkov, decided to rebuild the cathedral. At that time, in the early 90s, the most successful commercial enterprise in the country was organised crime, and he said I need $1bn and whoever doesn't pay is going to jail.

"It became a very important governmental symbol. And it's supposed to be the most sacred place in Russia. But it's very commercialised: there's a massive parking garage under it, and banqueting halls you can hire out for $10,000 a day.

"More than this, though, is how the church has started to act as if it is the propaganda wing of the government. Before the election, Patriarch Kirill said that it was 'un-Christian' to demonstrate. And then he said that Putin had been placed at the head of the government 'by God'. No one was talking about this before. And now everybody is."

Everybody is talking about it. Andrei Yerofeyev, one of the most respected curators of modern art in Russia, who in 2010 was himself tried (and found guilty) on charges of inciting religious and ethnic hatred by staging a show called Forbidden Art, compares it to Iran. To Saudi Arabia. He sees it, as many do, as the beginnings of a Christian fundamentalism. "They want to control culture. They want to control everything. People have great respect for the church. They fought the communists. The priests were persecuted. But this trial? It shows that the church is untouchable."

Others have called it Russia's Dreyfus affair. The anti-Pussy Riot propaganda on the main government-run TV channels (ie all of them) has been relentless. The opinion voiced by one of the prosecution lawyers a telling illustration of how they've been portrayed. The women are being controlled by "the global government", they say, who ultimately are themselves controlled "by Satan".

But the tide is turning. It's the severity of the penalty that has shocked most Russians. Even conservative, religious Russians who thought their act was silly or offensive. Very few defendants are imprisoned pre-trial. Certainly not ones with young children accused of non-violent crimes. More than 200 well-known public people signed an open letter condemning the trial, including many Putin supporters, and another 41,000 rank-and-file Russians have added their signatures.

And when I go to take a look around the cathedral and speak to some middle-aged women in headscarves leaving after prayers, they all think it was awful, disrespectful, inappropriate and deserving of punishment. But even the most hardline of them, who thinks they should be punished for their other "crimes" (their previous performances), turns down the corner of her mouth and shakes her head when Khristina translates my question about the possible seven-year sentence. And even I, with my odd scrags of Russian, understand her reply. "Trudna," she keeps on saying. "Ne znayo." It's difficult. I don't know.

The arrested members of Pussy Riot at a district court hearing on 23 July. Photograph: Mudrats Alexandra/Corbis
The arrested members of Pussy Riot at a district court hearing on 23 July. Photograph: Mudrats Alexandra/Corbis

Just a few hours before meeting Pussy Riot, I'd seen a very small example of the Russian state's apparatus of repression. The massed police vans and armoured vehicles that were parked in streets around where the demo was scheduled to take place. The phalanxes of officers marching through a neighbouring square.

Earlier that day, I'd arranged to meet Pyotr Verzilov at a cafe. He doesn't show up. I text. I call. He carries two mobiles with him at all times and is constantly taking calls from TV stations, journalists and campaigners. "We're trying to get Sting to wear a Pussy Riot T-shirt at his concert tonight," he'd told me the day before. (Sting did not wear the T-shirt but he did call for the band's release). Franz Ferdinand and Red Hot Chili Peppers had both already come out in support.

And they were "reaching out to Madonna", who's due to play in Moscow next month. He's engaged in all aspects of a modern political campaign: monitoring Twitter streams, tweeting news, updating the Facebook site. I assume something has come up. Before I arrive in Moscow, I talk at length to two British documentary makers who have been filming the trial, and one of them warns me to "be prepared to do a lot of waiting. They're just under so much pressure".

He'd also told me that Verzilov "will blow your head off. It's phenomenal that he's only 25. It's just the most incredible story. It's just so rock'n'roll. It really is punk. What they did was as shocking as what the Sex Pistols did. Maybe more so. Because it was against this dictator. It's punks against Putin."

It is also so incredibly visual: the women sit in a cage in the middle of the court. They're all attractive, "but Nadia, she looks like she's in a perfume ad or something. They're all so cool, but you should see Nadia walk into court in her handcuffs. It's an incredible sight. She's like Simone de Beauvoir. I'm romanticising a bit, but she's Simone de Beauvoir. And Peter is Russia's Sartre."

And there's a reason Verzilov misses my appointment, it transpires. An hour or so later, I get a text. "Carole! I was suddenly taken today at 8.30am to the investigative committee by a team of officers and they took my phone and all my personal things."

When we finally meet, he shrugs it off, though when I take him to a cafe, he eats like a horse. "You look tired," I say. "Well, you know, four hours of interrogation…" What sort of questions do they ask. "You know. When did you meet with foreign governments?" Do they really believe that? "They try very hard to make the Russian public believe that."

He wants to know what everyone has been saying to me. What did Ekaterina Degot say, he asks? She's probably Russia's most influential art critic. "She said what you were doing was incredible. That it's going to change Russian history. That there is no question that what you are doing is art and that no Russian artist has brought about this much change, ever," I say.

And Artemy Troitsky, Russia's foremost rock critic? "That three girls might be the ones to break the spine of a tyrant." He looks pleased. But then, Pussy Riot are musicians and artists, and some are members of a group called Voina, Russia's most outrageous performance artists, whose work included painting a massive penis on a bridge opposite the FSB headquarters in St Petersburg ("Dick Captured by FSB"), and staging an orgy in a museum on the eve of Medvedev's election in 2008 ("Fuck for the Heir Puppy Bear"), and who captured the imagination of Banksy among others – he sent £80,000 to support them when two of their members were arrested and imprisoned. But they're activists first and foremost.

"How is Peter?" Ekaterina Degot asks me. Worried for Nadia, I say, and their four-year-old daughter, Gera. But not displeased about the situation. "I understand this well. They have the mentality of activists. The more attention they get the better it is. The more effective they are being."

Degot was on the jury that awarded Voina the biggest prize in Russian art. And Katya, one of the imprisoned women, is a student of hers. What will happen next, I ask her? "I don't know. But it can't continue. Putin can't continue. In a year, I am sure we will see a different country, though I'm not sure it will be a better country."

But it's the words of Ilya Oskolkov-Tsentsiper, the co-founder of the Strelka, that echo most in my ears. In Russian history, he says, there's an old tradition of mad, half-witted saints. "This idea that it's only the crazy, half-witted fool who can tell the truth to the nation and to power. There is something that all Russians know even if they're not aware of it. In Russia, you never call it St Basil's Cathedral, it's Vasily Blazhenny, Vassily the Mad. And this is what these girls are. The truth-tellers to the Russian nation."

We're sitting at a table in Strelka while he tells me this, a beautifully designed space right opposite the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, scene of the crime. "I remember swimming in that pool as a child. And sometimes, I have a feeling that in another 70 years the pool will have to be restored. And we will live through this endless cycle of destroying the churches and then rebuilding them."

It's extraordinary what Pussy Riot have done. How they have taken feminism to one of the most macho countries on Earth. How they have revealed the faultlines at the heart of the Russian state, the moral bankruptcy of the Putin regime. It's hard to reconcile that with the women I met, with their skinny shoulders and thin wrists and lack of any weaponry bar guts and wit. The word absurd has been worn thin with use, but there's no other way to describe what is happening in Russia today.

"Putin is scared of us, can you imagine?" says Squirrel. "Scared of girls."

"It was just a prayer. A very special prayer," says Sparrow.

"The most important dictator, Putin, is really afraid of people," says Squirrel. More specifically, he's afraid of Pussy Riot. Afraid of a bunch of young, positive, optimistic women unafraid to speak their minds."

Pussy Riot trial over Putin altar protest begins

Pussy Riot Girls on trial at Moscow Court

Three band members reject charges of hooliganism for performing anti-Putin 'punk prayer' in cathedral

Internet addiction even worries Silicon Valley

Experts warn of the addictive power of technology

Tracy McVeigh, The Observer, Saturday 28 July 2012, Article Source

Kony 2012 film-maker Jason Russell, whose psychotic breakdown was linked to extreme internet exposure. Photograph: Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters
Kony 2012 film-maker Jason Russell, whose psychotic breakdown was linked to extreme
internet exposure. Photograph: Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters

The latest trend on the internet is to step away from the internet, according to a growing band of American technology leaders and psychologists for whom the notion of the addictive power of digital gadgets is gaining sway.

Although the idea of a clinical disorder of internet addiction was first mooted in the 90s and is now regularly treated by doctors on both sides of the Atlantic, attention is shifting from compulsive surfing to the effects of the all-pervasive demands that our phones, laptops, tablets and computers are making on us.

In China, Taiwan and Korea, internet addiction is accepted as a genuine psychiatric problem with dedicated treatment centres for teenagers who are considered to have serious problems with their web use. Next year, America's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the authority on mental illness, could include "internet use disorder" in its official listings.

In February, leaders of the largest social media companies will gather in San Francisco for the Wisdom 2.0 conference. The theme for the \conference, attended by some of Silicon Valley's biggest names, is finding balance in the digital age. Richard Fernandez, Google's development director, has called it "quite possibly the most important gathering of our times".

Fernandez plays a key role in Google's "mindfulness" movement. Aimed at teaching employees the risks of becoming overly engaged with their devices and to improve their concentration levels and ability to focus, he says teaching people to occasionally disconnect is vital. "Consumers need to have an internal compass where they're able to balance the capabilities that technology offers them for work with the qualities of the lives they live offline," he says.

Newsweek recently held up the case of Jason Russell, the film-maker behind the Kony 2012 video. Russell's film went viral, bringing him fame as 70 million people watched it. After spending days online with little sleep, Russell had a psychotic breakdown – all digitally documented via social media on his Twitter and YouTube accounts. His wife said he had been diagnosed as having "reactive psychosis", which doctors had linked to his extreme internet exposure.

It was an illustration, said Newsweek writer Tony Dokoupil, of the proof that was "starting to pile up" that the web was making us more depressed, anxious and prone to attention deficit disorders than ever before. "The first good peer-reviewed research is emerging and the picture is much gloomier than the trumpet blasts of web utopians have allowed," said Dokoupil.

Psychologists are deeply worried about the effects digital relationships are having on real ones. Facebook is working on plans to curb anonymous "stalking" by allowing users to see who has visited any group of which they are a member – with the possibility in future of extending that to allow people to see who has looked at their page.

"Checking Facebook to see what the ex is doing becomes a drug," according to psychologist Seth Meyers, who said the checking could quickly decline into obsessive-compulsive behaviour. Stuart Crabb, a director at Facebook, said people needed to be aware of the effect that time online has on relationships and performance.

However, some doubt the notion of technology addiction, pointing instead to the rising demands of the workplace, where employees are working longer hours and then going home still tethered to devices pinging them emails and messages. "Are we addicted to gadgets or indentured to work?" asks Alexis Madrigal, a writer for the Atlantic. "Much of our compulsive connectedness… is a symptom of a greater problem, not the problem itself."

Ignorant, Corporatist, Politicians Will Probably Make Internet Illegal Like Marijuana ???

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Sad news: Member Ed Bissell passed away...

Edward T. Bissell

Ed was a member of our group for years, he was a wonderful photographer and an amazing person. We were shocked an saddened to hear the news of his passing. I hate sending emails like this but many if you knew him and I just wanted you to know. Scott and I will be making a contribution from the group to the families choice of charity. And we will be attending the wake on Thursday.

Edward T. Bissell 1963 to Curtis

Edward Bissell Obituary

Edward T. Bissell, 68 WORCESTER - Edward T. Bissell, 68, of Worcester passed away peacefully at home in his sleep Sunday, June 17th 2012. Edward was born in Holyoke, a son of the late Edward and Rena (Kodis) Bissell. As a young man Edward worked alongside his father and family in the family business Bissell's Dairy. He graduated from Holyoke High School, where he was a standout football player. He then attended Central Connecticut and Holyoke Community College and has lived here in Worcester more than 27 years. Edward is survived by his wife of 39 years, Elaine H. (Wagner) Bissell; four children he cherished, Matthew T. Bissell of Worcester, Amy M. Lavoie and her husband Ryan of Stoddard NH, twins, Kate M. and Emily E. Bissell of Worcester; a sister, Joann Sullivan of Pittsford, VT; three grandsons whom he adored, Thomas, Patrick and Noah; nieces, nephews, extended family and many friends and neighbors who loved him. Edward had a passion for Photography all his life. He was employed was as a Photo Lab Technician for EB Luce Corporation and worked for over 25 years. He was a member of the Arts Worcester, and Mystic Arts Center. He had a love for the outdoors especially fly fishing, canoeing, family vacations and camping in New England. Friends and relatives are invited to visit with the family during calling hours Thursday June 21st from 10 am to 12 noon in the MERCADANTE FUNERAL HOME & CHAPEL, 370 Plantation St. followed by a service at 12 noon. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions in his name may be made to the Trust for Public Land, Massachusetts State Office, 10 Milk St Suite 810, Boston, Mass 02108.

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Bullying of Teachers Pervasive in Many Schools

by Cindy Long, May 16, 2012 Posted by twalker, neatoday, Article Source

Pointing finger graphic

Workplace bullying is on the rise. About a third of American workers have been impacted by bullying in the workplace, either as a target or as witness to abusive behavior against a co-worker. Unfortunately, it's even more prevalent in the field of education. In a recent survey of medium-sized school districts, 25 percent of employees reported that they had been bullied.

A teacher from Augusta, Maine, was so traumatized by her principal and superintendent that she didn't want her name or school mentioned, but wanted to share her story because she believes the pervasive problem of workplace bullying has gone on unchecked for too long.

“I am sufficiently frightened enough by my former employers to fear that maybe they could still hurt me,” she says. “I need to get a new job but won't be able to do so if I am unable to receive even one recommendation from an administrator. I know it and so do they.”

After the Augusta educator resisted being transferred to a new school and new grade level, she began to be scrutinized by her administrators. First, they began examining her test scores, her communications with parents, and her relationships with colleagues. Then, with no explanation and no warning, the principal began interrupting her class to pull out students one-by-one to talk to them. When the educator asked the students why they were being pulled out, they told her they were instructed not to tell.

She was accused of not using technology in her class, even though each student had a laptop. She was criticized for relying on a literacy mentor, even though some of her students were struggling with reading. She was put on a behavior modification plan and was told to submit her lesson plans a week in advance for review by administrators. Her peers warned her that she was being targeted, and she began to believe it. Finally, she left her job after her health began to deteriorate.

It's not just administrators bullying teachers, says Carv Wilson, a geography teacher at Legacy Junior High in Layton, Utah. He's been an educator for 18 years, and has seen teachers bullying each other to get their way, as well as aggressive parents who fly off the handle and threaten and intimidate their child's educators. But he says the worst case of ongoing workplace bullying he witnessed was by a principal.

“I was heavily involved in school leadership both as a Davis Education Association Rep and on the school representative counsel, and I heard about or witnessed first-hand the abuse of other teachers, staff, and students by this principal,” he says. “She specifically targeted individual teachers and the only thing that seemed to offer any protection was membership in our local association.”

Wilson says more than 60 percent of the educators were NEA members, and the other 30 percent “suffered dramatically at her hands.” The number of transfers out of the school was higher than 50 percent each year of the eight years that she was principal of the school.

“She seemed to revel in people being driven out of education or to another school,” he says. “The memories of that time still haunt me from time to time, but it solidified my belief that having representation both in school and in the local community through the association is critical. It's the only defense against unfair and even punitive measures that are sometimes solely prompted by personality conflicts.”

Denise Mirandola is a union representative for the Pennsylvania State Education Association who holds trainings for members called “Bullying in the Workplace.”

“I presented it at an Education Support Professionals meeting and was surprised to see so many heads nodding,” she says. “I believe that the phenomenon has been overlooked far too long and should be brought to the surface quickly.”

Like Wilson from Utah, she says association representation is vital if you're being targeted by a workplace bully. The first thing you should do, in fact, is contact your union representative. Then, document, document, document – save emails, letters, memos, notes from conversations, or anything that shows the mistreatment. She also recommends confronting the bully with a supportive ally, like a union rep – and to describe the offensive behavior you're experiencing, and the change in behavior you'd like to see.

According to Dr. Matt Spencer of the Workplace Bullying in Schools Project, “the bully steals the dignity, self-esteem, confidence, joy, happiness, and quality of life of the targeted victim”. And when the target is an educator, it is a great “injustice” because the bully deprives students of a caring adult who is crucial to their education.

Currently there is no law in any state against workplace bullying, unless it involves harassment based on race, color, creed, national origin, sex, age or disability. Please support the Healthy Workplace Bill in your state. Go to for more information.

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Our dad, Joe Strummer, remembered

Ten years after the death of the Clash frontman, his daughters Jazz and Lola remember his freewheeling home life

Lena Corner, The Guardian, Saturday 28 July 2012, Article Source

Joe Strummer's daughters Lola (left) and Jazz, with Jazz's daughter Boudicca. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian
Joe Strummer's daughters Lola (left) and Jazz, with Jazz's daughter Boudicca. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian

Ten years ago, the angry young man of punk and legendary frontman of the Clash, Joe Strummer, died suddenly from an undiagnosed heart defect. Instead of celebrating what would have been his 60th birthday next month, his two daughters Jazz and Lola, will be marking his life and legacy along with 5,000 others in a field in Somerset at a one-off music festival they have helped to create, called Strummer of Love. It is a fitting tribute for a man famed for his love of a good music festival, and who brought up his daughters immersed in the same world.

From the moment they were born, both Jazz and Lola accompanied their father on his annual pilgrimage to Glastonbury. "We grew up going to all sorts of festivals," says Jazz. "Every year at Glastonbury, Dad would create this kind of impromptu camp where people would just gather.

"He was always setting up camps – even with us as kids, it was always I'll make you a camp out of sofa cushions and stuff. He loved that whole idea of creating a vibe and an atmosphere. At Glastonbury he would string up his flags, get loads of hay bales, have a big campfire – there'd be 24-hour music and he'd be DJ-ing. We'd all go as a family, and our friends would be there. It just became this hub of fun and people. He named it Strummer- ville and we were left to do exactly what we wanted. Run wild, run amok."

At the time of Joe's death, a few days before Christmas in 2002, Jazz was 18 and Lola 16. Their father collapsed at his home in Somerset after taking his dogs for a walk.

"I remember I was in Oxford Circus trying to do some Christmas shopping," says Lola. "You always kind of know, I think. I was sort of in distress that day and couldn't figure out why. I got a phone call saying come home. So I got on the tube and I remember sitting there, weighing up the options. I knew it wasn't my mum because I had spoken to her earlier, and so I thought it must be either Jazz or my dad. By the time I got off the tube I rang home and said, 'Dad's dead isn't he?'"

"It was such a shock. It wasn't like he'd been ill. The day before, we'd all had such a great day with him. He had been away on tour and we hadn't seen him for a couple of months. So we all met up – our mum, our grandparents, his second wife Lucinda and her daughter Eliza, and we'd all gone out for a meal and then sat in the Groucho [club] drinking champagne. It was a really, really lovely day."

The girls reacted in very different ways to Joe's death. For Jazz, it took a while to sink in properly, and a few years afterwards she experienced panic attacks. "I think I had a bit of a delayed reaction," she says. "I went to see someone and we talked about it a lot. Now I feel quite resolved."

Lola dealt with it more immediately. "After it happened, I completely let myself deal with it," she says. "I was really miserable and it was a very tough time. Jazz was living away from home and I felt there was no one really around. It changed my life completely. But you do get over it. Death is just a part of life and you have to accept that."

Both girls say that helping to organise Strummer of Love has brought many feelings flooding back. Everyone in the lineup has been chosen because of a special connection with Joe Strummer in some way. So among the performers are Mick Jones, the former Clash guitarist, the Pogues, with whom Strummer also played, Alabama 3, with whom Strummer's stepdaughter Eliza now sings, and Billy Bragg, his long-time friend and political ally.

"It's kind of strange because it has been 10 years," says Lola, "but I feel like a lot of stuff is resurfacing – feelings, almost like grief. It's weird. And it's stronger now than it was just a few years after he died."

Jazz feels the same. In June this year she gave birth to her first child, Boudicca – who would have been Joe's first grandchild. "Having a baby makes you rethink a lot of stuff, and I've been thinking about Dad a lot recently," she says. "He would have been obsessed with her. He was fantastic with kids. He loved them, he really did."

Still, both sisters are acutely aware that their father's heart defect could have cut his life short at any moment, so they are grateful for the time they did have with him. Plus, there is also his musical legacy.

"I'm just grateful for his music because we still have his voice," says Lola. "We are lucky to have that."

Joe also did a series for the BBC World Service called the London Calling broadcasts, to which both girls listen regularly. "I remember he took us to Bush House and let us sit through the recording," says Jazz. "They are great because it's him talking and picking his favourite tracks, which brings a lot of his personality out – which is nice because that's the kind of thing you forget. I like to listen to them when I'm working in the studio, and sometimes when we have parties we put them on. It's comforting."

Neither of the sisters got to see the Clash as the band started disintegrating in the early 1980s, just before Jazz was born in 1983.

At first the family lived in Ladbroke Grove, London. Joe, a diplomat's son, had been sent to boarding school aged nine and tried to give his daughters an upbringing different to his own.

"As kids we were really encouraged to be free," says Jazz. "Dad came from a strong authoritarian background. His father was very academic, and he went to public school, which he found really tough. He hated having that put upon him as a kid, so he tried to encourage us to be as freewheeling as we liked.

"When were growing up there were no rules – we were left to run wild. We were nicknamed the pit-bull kids because we were so mad. At home we were allowed to scribble on the walls because he considered it creative. We'd ransack the place.

"I think our mum might have had a bit of a different view but she kind of went with it."

The upshot of Joe's liberal attitude, however, was that Jazz found herself expelled from nursery school, when she was barely out of nappies. "I had slight behavioural problems," she says. "I'd just throw my clothes off and run around. I was disruptive and unruly. It's really embarrassing, actually. In the end, they couldn't get any school to take me so we moved down to Hampshire where my mum found a nice little private school that would let me in."

Being Joe Strummer's offspring wasn't always plain sailing. When Jazz and Lola were around eight and six, their parents divorced. "We both dealt with it differently," says Lola. "I think I was quite an oblivious child – I didn't really have a clue – but I do remember Jazz cried, so I cried."

"I don't think I dealt with it very well at all," says Jazz. "It was pretty horrific. But by that point Dad was quite vacant – he wasn't really around much anyway. I think he was very unhappy and frustrated creatively."

The years when Joe's career was floundering had a big impact on his family. "There was quite a dark period, when we were a bit older and he couldn't get work, and he was struggling," says Lola. "It was hard for him to move on musically and creatively. He'd be at gigs and people would just be screaming for Clash tunes – but if you listen to his music, his tastes had completely changed. He'd mellowed and softened. When he died, though, his career was starting to take off again. I remember thinking it was such a shame. But in a way it was better that he went out on a high."

Despite the divorce, their parents maintained a good relationship and the two sisters have fond memories of the adult relationships they formed with their dad. Every summer they would go to Spain, to Joe's home in San José, Andalucía, a part of the world he had fallen in love with.

"When we got to a certain age, he'd just take us out drinking with him," says Jazz. "We'd go pub crawling round all the little Spanish bars; he'd invite all our friends, too, and we'd just stay up all night. He was so generous and welcoming. He was a real Pied Piper character."

There was talk about the Clash reforming before he died. "But there had been talk for years and years about them reforming," says Jazz. "They had been offered stupid amounts of money to do it, but they were very good at keeping the moral high ground and saying no.

"But I think if Dad hadn't died, it would have happened. It felt like it was in the air," she adds.

It is clear that Joe Strummer's creativity has rubbed off on his two daughters. In 2004, they started organising club nights in East London, at Bethnal Green Working Men's Club, kick-starting the trend for rock'n'roll tea dances. Jazz is also founder of the successful Shoreditch arm of the Women's Institute and last year her book on sewing and baking, Queen of Crafts, was published.

Lola sings in a band called Dark Moon, which is playing at Strummer of Love and Bestival, and designs clothes for her label She Vamps. The two sisters share a studio in east London, near where they live.

"I started the WI because I had got really impassioned about women's issues and women's rights," says Jazz. "I think because the Clash were so political and Dad had such strong opinions about equality and stuff, it affects you. But, equally, he was a great inventor of things – he was always making things happen. So I think more important for me was his passion. He'd have an idea and then do whatever he could to make it happen. I think that's what really rubbed off for me."

At Strummer of Love, Jazz will be looking after her eight-week-old baby at the same time as organising a big DIY tent called the Handmade Hangout, where all manner of craft classes will be taking place. Lola, meanwhile, will be singing from the pop-up stage, and their mother has organised the healing field.

"It's funny looking back, but I always had a feeling he must have known what was going to happen to him," says Lola. "Our stepmum found these lyrics he'd scrawled on a piece of paper a few months before he died, saying, 'I was just somebody, who loved a body then left a body' or something like that. I took them and turned them into a song because I felt it needed to be written. But I do believe he knew."

Either way, as his family roll out the hay bales and gather together round the Strummer of Love campfire, Joe's spirit will still be with them. "I just know he'd love that we are doing this celebration for him," says Jazz. "It would be totally right up his street and such a good expression of who he was. He would have loved it."

£13tn hoard hidden from taxman by global elite

• Study estimates staggering size of offshore economy
• Private banks help wealthiest to move cash into havens

Heather Stewart, business editor,, Saturday 21 July 2012 16.00 EDT, Article Source

The Cayman Islands: a favourite haven from the taxman for the global elite. Photograph: David Doubilet/National Geographic/Getty Images
The Cayman Islands: a favourite haven from the taxman for the global elite. Photograph: David Doubilet/National Geographic/Getty Images

A global super-rich elite has exploited gaps in cross-border tax rules to hide an extraordinary £13 trillion ($21tn) of wealth offshore – as much as the American and Japanese GDPs put together – according to research commissioned by the campaign group Tax Justice Network.

James Henry, former chief economist at consultancy McKinsey and an expert on tax havens, has compiled the most detailed estimates yet of the size of the offshore economy in a new report, The Price of Offshore Revisited, released exclusively to the Observer.

He shows that at least £13tn – perhaps up to £20tn – has leaked out of scores of countries into secretive jurisdictions such as Switzerland and the Cayman Islands with the help of private banks, which vie to attract the assets of so-called high net-worth individuals. Their wealth is, as Henry puts it, "protected by a highly paid, industrious bevy of professional enablers in the private banking, legal, accounting and investment industries taking advantage of the increasingly borderless, frictionless global economy". According to Henry's research, the top 10 private banks, which include UBS and Credit Suisse in Switzerland, as well as the US investment bank Goldman Sachs, managed more than £4tn in 2010, a sharp rise from £1.5tn five years earlier.

The detailed analysis in the report, compiled using data from a range of sources, including the Bank of International Settlements and the International Monetary Fund, suggests that for many developing countries the cumulative value of the capital that has flowed out of their economies since the 1970s would be more than enough to pay off their debts to the rest of the world.

Oil-rich states with an internationally mobile elite have been especially prone to watching their wealth disappear into offshore bank accounts instead of being invested at home, the research suggests. Once the returns on investing the hidden assets is included, almost £500bn has left Russia since the early 1990s when its economy was opened up. Saudi Arabia has seen £197bn flood out since the mid-1970s, and Nigeria £196bn.

"The problem here is that the assets of these countries are held by a small number of wealthy individuals while the debts are shouldered by the ordinary people of these countries through their governments," the report says.

The sheer size of the cash pile sitting out of reach of tax authorities is so great that it suggests standard measures of inequality radically underestimate the true gap between rich and poor. According to Henry's calculations, £6.3tn of assets is owned by only 92,000 people, or 0.001% of the world's population – a tiny class of the mega-rich who have more in common with each other than those at the bottom of the income scale in their own societies.

"These estimates reveal a staggering failure: inequality is much, much worse than official statistics show, but politicians are still relying on trickle-down to transfer wealth to poorer people," said John Christensen of the Tax Justice Network. "People on the street have no illusions about how unfair the situation has become."

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "Countries around the world are under intense pressure to reduce their deficits and governments cannot afford to let so much wealth slip past into tax havens.

"Closing down the tax loopholes exploited by multinationals and the super-rich to avoid paying their fair share will reduce the deficit. This way the government can focus on stimulating the economy, rather than squeezing the life out of it with cuts and tax rises for the 99% of people who aren't rich enough to avoid paying their taxes."

Assuming the £13tn mountain of assets earned an average 3% a year for its owners, and governments were able to tax that income at 30%, it would generate a bumper £121bn in revenues – more than rich countries spend on aid to the developing world each year.

Groups such as UK Uncut have focused attention on the paltry tax bills of some highly wealthy individuals, such as Topshop owner Sir Philip Green, with campaigners at one recent protest shouting: "Where did all the money go? He took it off to Monaco!" Much of Green's retail empire is owned by his wife, Tina, who lives in the low-tax principality.

A spokeswoman for UK Uncut said: "People like Philip Green use public services – they need the streets to be cleaned, people need public transport to get to their shops – but they don't want to pay for it."

Leaders of G20 countries have repeatedly pledged to close down tax havens since the financial crisis of 2008, when the secrecy shrouding parts of the banking system was widely seen as exacerbating instability. But many countries still refuse to make details of individuals' financial worth available to the tax authorities in their home countries as a matter of course. Tax Justice Network would like to see this kind of exchange of information become standard practice, to prevent rich individuals playing off one jurisdiction against another.

"The very existence of the global offshore industry, and the tax-free status of the enormous sums invested by their wealthy clients, is predicated on secrecy," said Henry.

Carl Lewis on Mitt Romney: 'some Americans shouldn't leave the country'
Carl Lewis on Mitt Romney: 'some Americans shouldn't leave the country'

Lady Gaga becomes Robert Rodriguez's latest Machete Kills recruit

Pop star draws warm praise from Sin City director after lining up alongside Charlie Sheen and Mel Gibson for Machete sequel

Ben Child,, Friday 27 July 2012 13.02 BST, Article Source

Eyes on the prize ... Lady Gaga's turn as La Chameleon in Machete Kills will be her first credited film role. Photograph: Daniel Roland/AFP/Getty Images
Eyes on the prize ... Lady Gaga's turn as La Chameleon in Machete Kills will be her first
credited film role. Photograph: Daniel Roland/AFP/Getty Images

Pop star Lady Gaga is to take an acting role in Robert Rodriguez's forthcoming action romp Machete Kills, the US film-maker has revealed on Twitter.

"I just finished working with @LadyGaga on @MacheteKills," tweeted Rodriguez. "She kicked SO MUCH ASS! Holy Smokes. Blown away!"

The singer becomes the latest entry in an impressive round of stunt casting by the director of Sin City and From Dusk Til Dawn. He has already cast Charlie Sheen as the president of the United States and Mel Gibson as eccentric billionaire arms dealer Luther Voz.

Gaga will play a woman named La Chameleon; in a new character poster for the film, the sequel to 2010's Machete, she sports a classy wolfskin coat (complete with actual wolf's head), a basque and a stylish shooter. The film will once again star Danny Trejo as the former Mexican federale turned ultimate badass, alongside Amber Heard, Jessica Alba, Zoe Saldana, Sofia Vergara and Damian Bichir.

This time round, Machete is recruited by the US president for a mission that, according to the synopsis, "would be impossible for any mortal man". He must battle his way through Mexico to take down a cartel leader, Mendez the Madman (Bechir), who threatens to fire a missile on the US.

According to IMDB, Gaga does have some previous film experience. She appeared in an uncredited role as "Alien on TV Monitors" in Men in Black 3. This would appear to be her first credited role, however.

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Brain-Altering Psych Drugs and the Batman Shooter

by Gary G. Kohls, Article Source, via Keith Lampe

Recurring mass shootings are a peculiarly American phenomenon, unless you count the carnage in the numerous nation-states recently invaded and destabilized by the American military. Everybody say in unison what we all should be thinking: "thank you National Rifle Association" and we also need to address that thanks to the lamentable weapons manufacturing lobbyist thugs who threaten into silence and inaction most of our elected officials in DC, Republican and Democrat, who can’t resist taking the bribery money.

James Holmes was just another gun-wielding, brain-altered mass murderer who shot into a crowd after making impressively elaborate plans to do so, just like the 1999 Columbine shooters 13 miles as the crow flies from Aurora. And one of the first words out of the mouths of the media and ruling elites who ascended the pulpit are the obfuscating words "senseless violence"; meaning, just don’t speculate about the motives of the shooter; "don’t ask any unwanted questions;" "Trust us, we’re the experts."

Unfortunately, these experts are also likely to be beholden to the powers-that-be that aren’t interested in curing the malady that is the epidemic of gun violence. The powers-that-be want to be sure that they will be held blameless when the final official report is released. Don’t expect to be told everything that you need to know to make sense of mass shootings any time soon.

If there is evidence that will help to make sense out of something that will give us a fighting chance to prevent mass shootings in the future, expect that we won’t be told about it until some courageous investigative journalist does the hard sleuthing work and then is allowed to report his findings. We will certainly be as confused about this one as most of us were about Columbine.

If the real connections explaining the Aurora shootings are suppressed, as expected, the approaching police state agenda of the 1% will be enabled. Prepare for metal detectors and private security firms frisking us as we stand in line to see the next violence-inducing shoot-em-up movie that will give ideas to some copy-cat wannabe avenger about competing for the Guiness Book of World Records for non-combat zone mass murders.

I have been listening and watching the repetitive and sensationalistic news coverage of the Aurora shootings for many hours over the first few days since the deed was officially labeled "senseless". Senseless violence is the mantra, just like the media and ruling elites repeated the lie that three World Trade Center towers, on 9/11/01, (only two having been hit by planes) were exploded, demolished and pulverized, not burned, into fine dust and each then fell into their own footprints at free fall speed, which only could happen if all the floors below the top floors had been disappeared by explosives ahead of time. Anybody who watched the event intuitively knew that these towers came down by controlled demolition but the constant propaganda campaign that followed convinced millions of us to not believe our own eyes but rather believe the provably false, heavily propagandized, Bush White House conspiracy theory. (WTC 7’s obvious controlled demolition, by the way, was censored out of our consciousness by the media’s lack of coverage, and it was not hit by a plane). But I digress.

<<<Who are the potential accessories to the crimes of the Batman Shooter?>>>

One has to wonder who are the "sacred cow" industries that have contributed to America’s recurrent mass shootings. Many of them surely consider themselves too big to fail and therefore too big to expose, question, criticize, or implicate as unintentional accomplices. Any one of us can think of any number of potential culprits. My list includes this TOP 10 LIST plus 3:

01. the violent entertainment industry;
02. the violent, and addictive videogame industry;
03. violent professional contact sports, where bodily injury is applauded;
04. the food industry that is doing so much to malnourish vulnerable brains and bodies;
05. the gun lobby;
06. the ease in getting lethal military style weapons (the Aurora killer reportedly got some of his guns at Gander Mountain);
07. our militarized culture and the media that glorifies the "legal" mass murder by "licensed to kill" soldiers at war and then condemns them when they come home psychologically and spiritually tormented and commit "illegal" murders or suicides as civilians;
08. Congresspersons, Presidents, state governors and Supreme Court judges who apathetically vote against or sit on existing rational harm-reduction legislation that could do so much to prevent these mass homicides;
09. Christian church leaders who fail to teach to their potential mass murderers in their Sunday School and confirmation classes about the nonviolent Golden Rule ethics of Jesus, whom they profess to follow; and
10. etc, etc. There are many potential culprits beyond those that could legally be blamed as being accessories to the crime of shooters like James Holmes.

But in the minds of many, the big culprits, and the ones that the corporate media and their paymasters are scared to death about being exposed, are

01. BigPharma (multinational pharmaceutical companies);
02. the drug advertising industry that so diabolically shapes public attitudes and behaviors; and
03. BigMedicine and us obedient and often enslaved physicians that are in its thrall who have, by and large, not opened our eyes to the data from the medical, forensic and pharmaceutical research community of altruistic researchers that are not beholden to pharmaceutical corporations. Much of this data shows unequivocally that most, if not all, of the five classes of potentially addictive psychiatric drugs are capable of causing drug-induced violence, drug-induced psychoses, drug-induced homicides, drug-induced mania, drug-induced suicidality, drug-induced dementia, drug-induced sleep disorders/sleep deprivation and drug-induced irrational criminal behaviors, especially in unsuspecting adolescents.

<<<He who pays the piper, calls the tune>>>

By ignoring the peer-reviewed complementary-alternative medical literature and only paying attention to what is in the pharmaceutical industry-controlled mainstream medical journals, we physicians and our employees regularly – and often quite cavalierly – prescribe potentially lethal, though entirely legal, brain and mind-altering synthetic chemicals that those wealthy and influential sponsors lie to us about when their sales staff claims that the drugs are safe, curative and non-addicting.

Therefore, considering that there is a massive amount of documented evidence (see below) of a strong connection between American school shootings and the use of (or withdrawal from) mind-altering, brain-numbing, remorselessness-inducing psych drugs, a fair question should be: "Was the Batman Shooter taking or withdrawing from any one of the hundreds of psychiatric drugs so readily prescribed these days?" Keep in mind that the James Holmes had considerable experience in graduate-level experimental neuroscience. That should logically make every criminal investigator "focus like a laser" into the possibility of mind-altering drugs influencing the shooter’s beliefs, behaviors and thinking processes.

But no, we have heard nary a word about the potential of legal psych drug use or drug withdrawal in the case of the Batman Shooter. Every thinking person should smell a rat – a cover-up in the making.

<<<Bad advice: "Don’t waste time trying to figure out what motivated the shooter" >>>

Amazingly, one of the survivors of the Columbine school shooter Eric Harris (who was taking the Prozac-like drug Luvox that was prescribed by his tragically unaware psychiatrist, Dr. K. Albert), contributed to the myth-making of these "mass shooting crimes of the month" when he advised the most recent batch of Colorado shooting victims to not "waste time trying to figure out what motivated the shooter or shooters. It’s a waste of time, and it gives them exactly what they want (sic)." And then later in the interview he complained, "I don’t think I’ll ever understand." Duh.

Psychologically and spiritually, any psychologist or spiritual advisor worth his or her salt when dealing with the consequences of psychological trauma will tell you that that advice is profoundly anti-therapeutic and will certainly lead to delayed healing – probably permanently – of the trauma. One wonders what brain-altering, dependency-inducing psych drug that that victim has been taking for the last 13 years. Perhaps he has already tried to taper off the drug but then found out that he can’t tolerate the disabling withdrawal symptoms, and therefore he has concluded that he truly needs the potentially neurotoxic drug.

But he is just repeating what the "authorities" always seem to tell us as they hide essential but "sensitive" information that might be uncomfortable for Holmes’ doctors or clinics or family members or gun and ammunition suppliers or drug company or legislators or tormentors. Perhaps the authorities are trying to protect the various industries that rightfully need to be exposed for their part in the massacres, however indirect or controversial.

<<<"SSRI Stories: Senseless violence" may be totally understandable if we are just given the inconvenient facts?>>>

James Holmes’ actions would probably not be considered "senseless" if we knew the truth about everything that led up to the Batman shooting. The above-mentioned Columbine victim that is promoting blind ignorance has learned to echo what is already being promoted: keep everybody unaware of what the potential motives are; remain silent about certain painful truths; don’t expose any of the powers-that-be for their part in the long lead-up to the shootings. Attitudes such as these will ensure that there will be many repeats in the future.

Not too long ago I mentioned in this column the remarkable database of serious SSRI ("selective" serotonin reuptake inhibitors, the so-called "second generation ‘antidepressants’") adverse reactions that have been documented in the public domain. That website can be accessed at When researching that important website, keep in mind that the vast majority of media reports on seemingly irrational criminal events usually don’t ask the question in the title above – unless the drugs are illicit. So the thousands of examples documented and reported represent just the tip of what surely is an enormous iceberg.), since even the FDA estimates that up to 99% of adverse events from any given drug is never reported to that agency.

SSRI Stories is a collection of 4,800+ news stories (mainly criminal in nature) that have appeared in the media (newspapers, TV, scientific journals) or that were part of FDA public testimony in either 1991, 2004 or 2006, in which psych drugs are mentioned.

<<<What is the PDR trying to warn us physicians about when we prescribe antidepressants?>>>

The Physicians' Desk Reference lists the following common adverse reactions (side effects) to SSRI antidepressants (among a host of other physical and neuropsychiatric effects). None of these adverse reactions is listed as Rare.

Manic Reaction (Mania, e.g., Kleptomania, Pyromania, Dipsomania, Nymphomania)
Hypomania (e.g., poor judgment, over spending, impulsivity, etc.)
Abnormal Thinking
Personality Disorder
Abnormal Dreams
Emotional Lability
Alcohol Abuse and/or Craving
Paranoid Reactions
Sleep Disorders
Akathisia (Severe Inner Restlessness)
Withdrawal Syndrome

The website emphasizes:

"Adverse reactions are most likely to occur when starting or discontinuing the drug, increasing or lowering the dose or when switching from one SSRI to another. Adverse reactions are often diagnosed as bipolar disorder when the symptoms may be entirely iatrogenic (treatment induced). Withdrawal, especially abrupt withdrawal, from any of these medications can cause severe neuropsychiatric and physical symptoms. It is important to withdraw extremely slowly from these drugs, often over a period of a year or more, under the supervision of a qualified and experienced specialist, if available. Withdrawal is sometimes more severe than the original symptoms or problems."

<<<SSRI adverse reactions are actually predictable, understandable and therefore are usually not unexpected. They are not actually "side effects">>>

So with the list of common adverse effects of these drugs, I present below a "short list" of drug–associated violence over the past decade or two that was perpetrated by mostly young people who were involved in newsworthy shootings and whose psych drugs were identified, published or otherwise somehow reported to the public. Tragically, in the vast majority of psychiatric drug-related suicides, homicides or other types of irrational violence (what the media calls "senseless") prescription drugs are generally not reported in the corporate-controlled and subsidized media, where pharmaceutical companies advertise heavily, certainly exerting influences on how much investigative journalism is allowed. Again, he who calls the piper calls the tune.

The SSRI Stories website has, among its nearly 5000 entries, a list of 66 school shootings that are overwhelmingly and disproportionately American. The school shooter’s list is often accompanied by suicidality caused by either taking or withdrawing from the drugs. There has been an explosion of such incidents since Prozac was introduced onto an unsuspecting market in 1989. Most of the developed world’s drug regulatory agencies, including the FDA, have not tested these psychotropic drugs for safety or efficacy in humans under the age of 18 (either short term or long term) and therefore have not approved their use for that group (with rare exceptions). Therefore we physicians, when we prescribe these untested drugs to that underage group (that has immature brain development) are doing so "off label" and thus we are exposing ourselves to medico-legal risks.

Here is the sobering list.

Eric Harris age 17 (Zoloft then Luvox) and Dylan Klebold aged 18 in Colombine school shooting in Littleton, Colorado, killed 12 students and 1 teacher, and injured 23 others, before killing themselves. Klebold’s medical records have never been made available to the public.

Jeff Weise, age 16, had been prescribed 60 mg/day of Prozac (three times the average starting dose for adults!) when he shot his grandfather, his grandfather’s girlfriend and many fellow students at Red Lake, Minnesota. He then shot himself. 10 dead, 12 wounded.

Cory Baadsgaard, age 16, Wahluke (Washington state) High School, was on Paxil (which caused him to have hallucinations) when he took a rifle to his high school and held 23 classmates hostage. He has no memory of the event.

Thirteen-year-old Chris Fetters killed his favorite aunt while taking Prozac.

Twelve-year-old Christopher Pittman murdered both his grandparents while taking Zoloft.

Thirteen-year-old Mathew Miller hung himself in his bedroom closet after taking Zoloft for 6 days.

Fifteen-year-old Jarred Viktor stabbed his grandmother 61 times after 5 days on Paxil.

Fifteen-year-old Kip Kinkel (on Prozac and Ritalin) shot his parents while they slept then went to school and opened fire killing 2 classmates and injuring 22 shortly after beginning Prozac treatment.

Luke Woodham age 16 (Prozac) killed his mother and then killed two students, wounding six others.

A Pocatello, ID (Zoloft) in 1998 had a Zoloft-induced seizure that caused an armed stand off at his school.

Michael Carneal (Ritalin) a 14-year-old opened fire on students at a high school prayer meeting in West Paducah, Kentucky. Three teenagers were killed, five others were wounded..

Young man in Huntsville, Alabama (Ritalin) went psychotic chopping up his parents with an ax and also killing one sibling and almost murdering another.

Andrew Golden, age 11, (Ritalin) and Mitchell Johnson, aged 14, (Ritalin) shot 15 people, killing four students, one teacher, and wounding 10 others.

TJ Solomon, age 15, (Ritalin) high school student in Conyers, Georgia opened fire on and wounded six of his class mates.

Rod Mathews, age 14, (Ritalin) beat a classmate to death with a bat.

James Wilson, age 19, (various psychiatric drugs) from Breenwood, South Carolina, took a .22 caliber revolver into an elementary school killing two young girls, and wounding seven other children and two teachers.

Elizabeth Bush, age 13, (Paxil) was responsible for a school shooting in Pennsylvania

Jason Hoffman (Effexor and Celexa) – school shooting in El Cajon, California

Jarred Viktor, age 15, (Paxil), after five days on Paxil he stabbed his grandmother 61 times.

Chris Shanahan, age 15 (Paxil) in Rigby, ID who out of the blue killed a woman.

Jeff Franklin (Prozac and Ritalin), Huntsville, AL, killed his parents as they came home from work using a sledge hammer, hatchet, butcher knife and mechanic's file, then attacked his younger brothers and sister.

Neal Furrow (Prozac) in LA Jewish school shooting reported to have been court-ordered to be on Prozac along with several other medications.

Kevin Rider, age 14, was withdrawing from Prozac when he died from a gunshot wound to his head. Initially it was ruled a suicide, but two years later, the investigation into his death was opened as a possible homicide. The prime suspect, also age 14, had been taking Zoloft and other SSRI antidepressants.

Alex Kim, age 13, hung himself soon after his prescription of Lexapro had been doubled.

Diane Routhier was prescribed Welbutrin for gallstone problems. Six days later, after suffering many adverse effects of the drug, she shot herself.

Billy Willkomm, an accomplished wrestler and a University of Florida student, was prescribed Prozac at the age of 17. His family found him dead of suicide – hanging from a tall ladder at the family's Gulf Shore Boulevard home in July 2002.

Kara Jaye Anne Fuller-Otter, age 12, was on Paxil when she hung herself from a hook in her closet. Kara’s parents said ".... the damn doctor wouldn't take her off it and I asked him to when we went in on the second visit. I told him I thought she was having some sort of reaction to Paxil…")

Gareth Christian, Vancouver, age 18, was on Paxil when he committed suicide in 2002,

(Gareth’s father could not accept his son’s death and killed himself)

Julie Woodward, age 17, was on Zoloft when she hung herself in her family’s detached garage.

Matthew Miller was 13 saw a psychiatrist because he was having difficulty and school. The psychiatrist recommended Zoloft for him. Seven days after beginning the Zioloft samples, his mother found him dead… hanging by a belt from a laundry hook in his closet.

Kurt Danysh, age 18 and on Prozac, killed his father with a shotgun. He is now behind prison bars, and writes letters, trying to warn the world that SSRI drugs can kill.

Woody ____, age 37, committed suicide while in his 5th week of taking Zoloft. Shortly before his death his physician suggested doubling the dose of the drug. He had seen his physician only for insomnia. He had never been depressed, nor did he have any history of any mental illness symptoms.

A ten-year-old boy from Houston shot and killed his father after his Prozac dosage was increased.

15-year-old Hammad Memon shot and killed a fellow middle school student. He had been diagnosed with ADHD and depression and was taking Zoloft and "other drugs for the conditions."

22-year-old culinary student Matti Saari shot and killed 9 students and a teacher, and wounded another student, before killing himself. Saari was taking an SSRI and a benzodiazapine.

27-year-old Steven Kazmierczak shot and killed five people and wounded 21 others before killing himself in a Northern Illinois University auditorium. According to his girlfriend, he had recently been taking Prozac, Xanax and Ambien. Toxicology results showed that he still had trace amounts of Xanax in his system.

18-year-old Finnish gunman Pekka-Eric Auvinen had been taking antidepressants before he killed eight people and wounded a dozen more at Jokela High School – then he committed suicide.

14-year-old Asa Coon of Cleveland, shot and wounded four before taking his own life. Court records show Coon was on Trazodone.

16-year-old Jon Romano, taking medication for depression, fired a shotgun at a teacher in his New York high school.

July 25, 2012

Gary Kohls, MD [send him mail] is a founding member of The Community of the Third Way, a Duluth-area affiliate of Every Church A Peace Church. Copyright © 2012 Gary G. Kohls, MD

Steven Leech - Writer/Poet/D.J.

Powmia Among the Dragonflies

Powmia Among the Dragonflies a Vietnam War novel by Steven Leech
a Vietnam War novel by Steven Leech
CLICK TO READ PDF NOVEL - Click to visit Steven's Broken Turtle Blog

Missing BBS Files - Some of the first Bulletin Board Systems in the United States

C. Spangler - Photograph: FlyingSnail
Curtis Spangler - The CommuniTree's First Fairwitness

Let's look at some of the earliest electronic virtual communities. This kinship chart shows the origins of the first computer bulletin boards (BBSs) that supported social interaction. Prior to this moment, BBSs messages were organized by alphabetical order, or by date. BBSs were metaphors for physical bulletin boards... objects for the exchange of simple messages, not conversations. Now, in 1978 a group of people in Northern California designed a BBS that used message attachment protocols that facilitated conversations. As a metaphor for this structure they used a tree, firstly because it was based on a principle of computer science called binary tree protocol, and secondly because Northern California near Silicon Valley was a land of hot tubs, Eastern mysticism, and computer hackers, and the organicity that the word "tree" suggested was important to those hackers' worldview.

The story of the life and death of the first CommuniTree tells us how and why the later virtual community systems were designed. The original CommuniTree was designed with the idea that the community it facilitated would be completely free. Anyone could enter any sort of message. In fact, censorship was completely prohibited at the level of the code, of the Tree's program. It worked this way: First, the system operator was prevented from reading messages as they arrived. Second, messages were hard to remove once they were entered. Third, anything could be entered into the system, including so-called control characters, which are not part of the standard alphanumeric set and which can be used to control the operation of the host computer. Lastly, to make sure that no system operator could tamper with the system, the code was written in language called Forth, and not documented. Now Forth is a religion unto itself, and if you know anything about Forth you recognize that this makes the system a total black box -- it's impossible to know anything about how the code works.

CommuniTree went online in 1978. The kinds of conversations they had in there were of a high intellectual and spiritual character. They talked about new philosophies and new religions for post-Enlightenment humanity, the first time such conversations had taken place online.

Now, at the same moment Apple Computer had reached an agreement with the U. S. Government that in return for a tax break, Apple put computers into primary and secondary schools in the U.S., and some of those computers had modems. This meant that quite suddenly a lot of kids could get online. At first both boys and girls had access, but the boys quickly elbowed the girls out of the way -- high tech was men's work. The boys quickly found out CommuniTree's phone number and logged on. They were clearly unimpressed with the high intellectual level of the discourse on CommuniTree, and they expressed their dissatisfaction in ways that were appropriate to their age and linguistic abilities. Now, the hardware of the Tree was the best that Apple had to offer in 1978, it had two floppy disk drives with a combined total of 300 kilobytes of storage. At the time, the folks who designed the Tree said "300K -- we can go on forever. We'll never fill this up." A common BBS today would have at least 100 megabytes of storage, many orders of magnitude greater than the Tree. So it didn't take long for the kids to fill every byte of disk space with every word they could think of that meant shitting or fucking, and then they'd add control characters on top of that, characters that could mess with the program or stop the floppy drives. The sysops couldn't see the messages arriving and couldn't remove them afterward. The Tree was doomed.

One of the participants in the Tree discourse said "Well, the barbarian hordes mowed us down." And the people who were on the Tree ran away, just like the population of a village during a sack. It was a kind of scattering of the tribes. Some of those people went off and designed BBSs of their own that had built into them the elements of control and surveillance that appeared to be necessary to ensure the BBS's survival in a real world that included roaming barbarians. That kind of surveillance and control continues to the present day, built right into the software; we don't think about it much any more. And that's how, back at the beginning of virtual time, the first virtual community left the Magic Garden and entered the "real" virtual world in which good had to find ways to coexist with evil.


Beautiful World by Devo

The American Dream by George Carlin

Nobody for President 2012 - None of the Above on Voter Ballots
Nobody Brought Peace To Our Times

"None of the Above" Should Be On Voter Ballots

Oh, I hope that I see you again I never even caught your name As you looked through my window pane -- So I'm writing this message today I'm thinking that you'll have a way Of hearing the notes in my tune -- Where are you going? Where have you been? I can imagine other worlds you have seen -- Beautiful faces and music so serene -- So I do hope I see you again My universal citizen You went as quickly as you came -- You know the power Your love is right You have good reason To stay out of sight -- But break our illusions and help us Be the light -- Message by Michael Pinder

Social Bookmarking

Freedom of expression and freedom of speech aren't really important unless they're heard...It's hard for me to stay silent when I keep hearing that peace is only attainable through war. And there's nothing more scary than watching ignorance in action. So I dedicated this Emmy to all the people who feel compelled to speak out and not afraid to speak to power and won't shut up and refuse to be silenced. - Tommy Smothers

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.