Sulla critica del diritto nel giovane Gramsci        
E' successo che, preparando un commento all'ultima sortita di Saviano a proposito di storia della sinistra italiana, ho ripreso in mano, dopo anni, il vecchio volume dell'Einaudi (Torino, 1960) che raccoglie i corsivi pubblicati da Gramsci sull'"Avanti!" nella rubrica Sotto la Mole (1916-1920). Qui mi è capitato sotto gli occhi il commento di Gramsci alla sentenza sui "fatti di Torino", cioè (annotano i curatori dell'edizione) "lo sciopero generale per il pane e contro la guerra, che sfociò nella sommossa del 23-26 agosto 1917". [1]

Il commento di Gramsci fu pubblicato sull'"Avanti!" il 20 ottobre 1918: il testo, come di frequente, uscì con vistosi "vuoti" dovuti all'azione della censura. Eccolo qui di seguito [2].

BELLU SCHESC' E DOTTORI!

Il giudice Emanuele Pili non è senza storia, come gli uomini e i popoli felici. Ma la storia del giudice Emanuele Pili ha una lacuna; iniziatasi col protagonista autore drammatico, riprende ora col protagonista «ragionatore» di sentenze, e riprende con una gloriosa e strenua pugna: il «ragionamento» della sentenza per i fatti di Torino, che nell'ultimo numero della «Gazzetta dei tribunali» il misuratore di crani prof. Vitige Tirelli qualifica «dotta».
Benedetto Croce ha scritto: «Chi ha pratica dei tribunali sa che molto spesso un magistrato, presa la decisione e stabilita la sentenza, incarica un suo piú gio [dodici righe e mezzo censurate]. E il giudice giovane ha fatto sfoggio di dottrina; e il giudice giovane — poiché nella prima gíoventú aspirava alla gloria di Talia e dedicava le sue fresche energie intellettuali a scrivere commedie nei vari dialetti di Sardegna e non poté studiare tutti i risultati delle ultime ricerche sulla natura del diritto e delle costituzioni — ha ragionato [una riga censurata] nella sentenza dei fatti di Torino, rovistando nei vecchi cassettoni, rimettendo alla luce tutti gli imparaticci scolastici del primo anno universitario, quando ancora si frequentano le lezioni e si prendono gli appunti.
[Venticinque righe censurate].
Gli sono estranee le correnti del pensiero moderno che hanno ringiovanito tutta la dottrina dello Stato e del Giure — superando le concezioni puerilmente metafisiche della dottrina tradizionale, degli imparaticci da scoletta universitaria — colla riduzione dello Stato e del Giure a pura attività pratica, svolta come dialettica della volontà di potenza e non piú pietistico richiamo alle leggi naturali, ai sacrari inconoscibili dell'istinto avito, alla banale retorica dei compilatori delle storiette per la scuola elementare. Il «ragionamento» del giudice Pili è solo una filastroccola di banalità retoriche, di gonfiezze presuntuose: esso è il ridicolo parto di un fossile intellettuale, il quale non riesce a concepire che lo Stato italiano almeno giuridicamente (e come giudice questa apparenza della realtà doveva solo importare al «giovane» da tribunale) è costituzionale, ed è parlamentare per tradizione (l'on. Sonnino è gran parte dello Stato attuale, ma crediamo che il suo articolo Torniamo allo Statuto! non sia ancora diventato legge fondamentale del popolo italiano): [cinque righe censurate]. La «dottrina» del giovane da tribunale infatti si consolida (!) in esclamazioni enfatiche contro chi ha «resistito» o è accusato di aver resistito: non cerca (come era suo compito) di dimostrare, alla stregua delle prove concrete e sicure, un delitto per passare l'esatta commisurazione alla sua entità di una pena contemplata nel codice. No, il «giovane» vuole sfoggiare, come una contadina ricca del Campidano di Cagliari le vesti multicolori che hanno servito alle sue antenate per le nozze e per decine e decine di anni sono rimaste seppellite in un vecchio cassettone a fregi bestiali e floreali tra lo spigo e una dozzina di limoni: e sfoggia tutti i vecchiumi, tutti gli scolaticci dei vespasiani giuridici chiusi per misura d'igiene pubblica.
Il giudice Emanuele Pili ha scritto una commedia dialettale: Bellu schesc' e dottori! (che bel pezzo di... dottore!) L'esclamazione potrebbe essere la conclusione critica della lettura di una sentenza, cosí com'è il titolo di una commedia.

La prima lacuna è stata integrata facilmente dai curatori del testo gramsciano. Si tratta di una citazione dalla Logica di Croce, riportata come segue:

«Chi ha pratica dei tribunali sa che molto spesso un magistrato, presa la decisione e stabilita la sentenza, incarica un suo piú giovane collega di "ragionarla", ossia di apporre una parvenza di ragionamento a ciò che non è intrinsecamente e puramente prodotto di logica, ma è voluntas di un determinato provvedimento. Questo procedere, se ha il suo uso nella cerchia pratica o giuridica, è affatto escluso da quella della logica e della scienza» (B. CROCE, Logica come scienza del concetto puro, Bari 1917, pp. 87-88).

Quando Gramsci nel suo corsivo parla delle "correnti del pensiero moderno che hanno ringiovanito tutta la dottrina dello Stato e del Giure", si riferisce appunto alla filosofia del diritto di Benedetto Croce. Croce aveva infatti affermato l'assoluta separazione tra morale e diritto, e aveva sottoposto il diritto alle categorie dell'utile e della forza. Nella concezione di Croce, il diritto è forza, che viene applicata per il raggiungimento di uno scopo ritenuto (da chi agisce questa forza) utile; il diritto è inoltre amorale, in quanto prescinde dal giusto e dall'ingiusto.

E' interessante notare che qui Gramsci si serve della teoria del diritto di Croce per porre un'istanza di garantismo giuridico. Infatti, ciò che Gramsci rimprovera al giudice Pili, estensore della sentenza sui fatti di Torino, è di aver confuso il diritto con la morale. Il giudice avrebbe dovuto limitarsi a vagliare le prove, accertare se fosse stato commesso un reato, e, in caso affermativo, determinarne la pena secondo le norme del codice. Invece, questa sentenza (scrive Gramsci) pretende di condannare gli imputati non sulla base della legge, bensì sulla scorta di considerazioni di ordine moralistico, la cui infondatezza giuridica è mascherata dal ricorso all'enfasi e alla retorica.

La linea del ragionamento gramsciano è abbastanza riconoscibile, nonostante i buchi lasciati dalla censura, e nonostante un probabile refuso tipografico [3]. Comunque, in un poscritto all'articolo del giorno successivo (Le vie della divina provvidenza, 21 ottobre 1918), Gramsci scrive:

P.S. Nell'articolo pubblicato ieri sul giudice Emanuele Pili la censura ha lasciato solo la parte «floreale» che può far supporre aver noi scritto un puro pamphlet per insolentire un magistrato. La censura ha imbiancato le giustificazioni delle insolenze: la giustificazione filosofica trovata nella Logica del senatore Benedetto Croce; la giustificazione storica trovata in una notizia pubblicata dal «Journal des Débats» l'8 novembre 1817 (milleottocentodiciassette!), la giustificazione costituzionale trovata nello Statuto albertino. Un'insolenza giustificata da «pezze» di tal genere crediamo non sia piú insolenza, ma espressione plastica della imparziale giustizia. La censura pertanto ci ha solo diffamati, senza che le leggi ci diano il modo di dar querela.

La "giustificazione filosofica" delle critiche che Gramsci rivolge al magistrato corrisponde, lo abbiamo visto, ad una citazione da Croce. Rimane la curiosità di sapere quali potessero essere le altre due "giustificazioni"  imbiancate dalla censura.

La "giustificazione costituzionale", che corrisponde alla lacuna di cinque righe, si trova, dice Gramsci, nello Statuto albertino; e potrebbe forse trattarsi di uno degli articoli che, in quel testo costituzionale, tutelavano i diritti civili: per esempio l'art. 26, secondo comma, "niuno può essere arrestato e tradotto in giudizio, se non nei casi previsti dalla legge, e nelle forme che essa prescrive".

Naturalmente, non è da pensare che Gramsci si facesse particolari illusioni circa l'effettività delle garanzie prescritte dallo Statuto. Sappiamo, invece, che Gramsci sempre ritenne la borghesia italiana incapace di creare un vero Stato di diritto che tutelasse le libertà individuali [4]. Un articolo di Gramsci di qualche anno successivo a quello che stiamo ora esaminando (Lo Stato italiano, in "L'Ordine Nuovo", 7 febbraio 1920) contiene una puntuale critica, da questo punto di vista, allo Statuto albertino:

Lo Stato italiano [...] non ha mai neppure tentato di mascherare la dittatura spietata della classe proprietaria. Si può dire che lo Statuto albertino sia servito a un solo fine preciso: a legare fortemente le sorti della Corona alle sorti della proprietà privata. I soli freni infatti che funzionano nella macchina statale per limitare gli arbitrî del governo dei ministri del re sono quelli che interessano la proprietà privata del capitale. La Costituzione non ha creato nessun istituto che presidî almeno formalmente le grandi libertà dei cittadini: la libertà individuale, la libertà di parola e di stampa, la libertà di associazione e di riunione. Negli Stati capitalistici, che si chiamano liberali democratici, l'istituto massimo di presidio delle libertà popolari è il potere giudiziario: nello Stato italiano la giustizia non è un potere, è un ordine, è uno strumento della Corona e della classe proprietaria. 

Gramsci sottintendeva questo tipo di considerazioni anche all'articolo qui in commento, laddove scriveva che lo Stato italiano "almeno giuridicamente" (cioè solo formalmente) era costituzionale, ed era "parlamentare per tradizione", nel senso che lo Statuto albertino non istituiva una vera e propria democrazia parlamentare, bensì l'ordinamento parlamentare dello Stato derivava da una semplice consuetudine che poteva essere in ogni momento abrogata: così come aveva proposto di fare Sidney Sonnino nel suo articolo del 1897, appropriatamente richiamato da Gramsci, Torniamo allo Statuto!,  e come poi farà il fascismo.

Tuttavia, il fatto che la monarchia sabauda fosse uno Stato di diritto carente e imperfetto non avrebbe dovuto esimere il magistrato dall'applicare comunque quelle garanzie (pur se insufficienti) che la legge disponeva a favore degli imputati: "come giudice questa apparenza della realtà doveva solo importare" al giudice Pili, osserva giustamente Gramsci.

La "giustificazione storica", che corrisponde alla lacuna di venticinque righe, è data (scrive Gramsci) da una notizia pubblicata sul numero dell'8 novembre 1817 del "Journal des Débats". Internet consente oggi di consultare facilmente quel numero di giornale per cercare quale potesse essere la notizia che costituiva la "giustificazione storica" invocata da Gramsci.

Una delle notizie ivi contenute, che possono essere state utilizzate da Gramsci ai fini del suo commento, è una corrispondenza dalla Gran Bretagna datata 3 novembre, che riporto qui di seguito in una mia traduzione (il testo originale è in nota):

Quattro individui di nome Booth, Brown, Jackson e King, prima delle ultime assisi di Derby, erano stati condannati a morte per crimine di ribellione. Condotti sul patibolo, al momento stesso della morte hanno avuto l'audacia empia di arringare la folla, affinché li venisse a liberare. Questa folla era composta da loro vecchi amici che li avevano frequentemente visitati in carcere; ma il luogo dell'esecuzione era sorvegliato da folti distaccamenti di cavalleria e di fanteria, e la legge ha avuto esecuzione [5].

Inizialmente ho pensato che questa notizia potesse aver attratto l'attenzione di Gramsci (per analogia con i fatti di Torino) perché riferita a un episodio di ribellione delle classi subalterne conclusosi con una condanna penale. Episodio che forse è leggibile nel quadro della fase di irrequietezza sociale che fu caratterizzata, in Gran Bretagna, dalle proteste contro la legge sul grano del 1815, fase che sfociò nel massacro di Peterloo.

Tuttavia, non ho trovato alcun elemento che potesse suffragare questa ipotesi. Non è chiaro neanche se i quattro uomini giustiziati a Derby nel 1817 siano stati effettivamente condannati a morte per reati politici, o non piuttosto per reati comuni; in un elenco dei giustiziati nel carcere di Derby, compilato da Celia Renshaw, una storica locale, questi Booth, Brown, Jackson e King risultano essere stati condannati per aver appiccato il fuoco a dei covoni di paglia [6]. Inoltre è noto che Gramsci non amava gli atteggiamenti tribunizi e teatrali, né apprezzava particolarmente i gesti individuali di ribellione: lo si evince dal suo stesso comportamento di imputato durante il "processone" del 1928 [7], nonché dal suo commento, contenuto nei Quaderni del carcere, ad un libro che raccoglieva i resoconti di una serie di processi contro anarchici libertari [8]. Perciò mi sembra improbabile che, nel suo corsivo del 1918 che stiamo ora commentando, Gramsci possa aver preso ad esempio il comportamento di quattro condannati a morte per reati contro il patrimonio che, dal patibolo, incitano la folla alla rivolta.

C'è però un'altra notiziola, sempre nella prima pagina  del "Journal des Débats" dell'8 novembre 1817, che potrebbe aver attirato l'attenzione di Gramsci. Si tratta di una corrispondenza da Losanna datata primo novembre:

Il Cantone Esterno di Appenzell ha da poco emesso una singolare sentenza contro un ragazzino accusato di alcuni piccoli furti. Lo hanno condannato a 50 fl. di ammenda e a trenta colpi di verga. Gli sarà inoltre assegnato un posto particolare in chiesa per un periodo di due anni: dovrà trovarsi colà per due volte ogni domenica, e sarà punito severamente in caso d'inosservanza [9].

In questa notizia di cronaca (un ragazzino condannato con sentenza penale ad andare a messa due volte la settimana) troviamo un esempio estremo e grottesco di quella perniciosa, pre-moderna confusione tra diritto e morale, che Gramsci stigmatizza nella sua polemica col giudice relatore della sentenza sui fatti di Torino. Perciò ritengo che sia stata questa la pezza giustificativa di quella parte dell'argomentazione gramsciana, che la censura ha cancellato lasciando nell'articolo un buco di venticinque righe.

Note

[1] Sempre secondo l'apparato critico dell'edizione citata, la sentenza fu emessa dal Tribunale militare di Torino il 2 agosto 1918; il testo della sentenza è reperibile in "Rivista storica del socialismo", n. 2, 1960.

[2] A. Gramsci, Sotto la Mole, ed. cit., pp. 447-48. L'articolo è stato poi raccolto nella più recente edizione degli scritti gramsciani precarcerari: A. Gramsci, Il nostro Marx 1918-1919, a cura di Sergio Caprioglio, Einaudi, Torino 1984, pp. 360-2. In Internet si trova qui: http://www.liberliber.it/mediateca/libri/g/gramsci/sotto_la_mole/pdf/sotto__p.pdf, p. 269.

[3] "Passare l'esatta commisurazione alla sua entità di una pena contemplata nel codice" è frase di cui si capisce il senso, ma che sembra guasta anche grammaticalmente. Penso che Gramsci abbia invece scritto "fissare l'esatta commisurazione della sua entità ad una pena contemplata nel codice".

[4] Cfr. Leonardo Rapone, Cinque anni che paiono secoli. Antonio Gramsci dal socialismo al comunismo (1914-1919), Carocci, Roma 2011, pp. 162-6.

[5] Quatre individus nommés Booth, Brown, Jackson et King, antérieurement aux dernières assises de Derby, avoient été condamnés à mort pour crime de rebellion. Amenés sur l'échafaud, ils ont eu, même au moment de la mort, l'audace impie de haranguer la multitude, et de l'engager à venir les délivrer. Cette multitude étoit composée de leurs anciens amis qui les avoient fréquemment visités dans leur prison; mais le lieu de l'exécution étoit gardé par de forts détachements de cavalerie et d'infanterie, et la loi reçut son exécution.

[6] Fonte: http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/DERBYSGEN/2009-08/1250276359

[7] Cfr. Giuseppe Fiori (a cura di), Antonio Gramsci: cronaca di un verdetto annunciato, I Libri de "l'Unità", supplemento al numero del 4 aprile, Roma 1994. 

[8] Antonio Gramsci, Quaderni del carcere, edizione critica a cura di Valentino Gerratana, Einaudi, Torino 1975, pp. 6-7 e 1896-7.

[9] Les Rhodes extérieurs d'Appenzell viennent de rendre une singulière sentence contre un enfant accusé de quelques petits vols. Ils l'ont condamné à 50 fl. d'amende et à trente coups de bâtons. Il lui sera d'ailleurs assigné une place particulière à l'église pendant deux ans; il devra s'y trouver deux fois chaque dimanche sous des peines séveres.

          (Banking Reform - Monetary Reform) - '..debt is our biggest security threat..' (no replies)        
'Now that he is president, Trump likes to tout the fact he’s listening to America’s generals. Perhaps he needs to talk to General Mike Millen, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Perhaps then he would see that the greatest threat America faces isn’t from China, Russia, or North Korea – it is from the national debt. Until Trump reverses course on military spending, and gets tough on entitlements, his "America First" budget will only make the US worse off.'

- Tho Bishop (Source, March 20, 2017)


'..a crippling national debt..'

'Under a Republican budget resolution, the national debt will explode by a third from an already staggering $19 billion to $29 trillion over the next ten years. Although counterintuitive, Democratic presidents, at least those after World War II, have reduced deficits as a portion of the value of the national economy (GDP) while Republican presidents have increased them — thus accumulating less public debt as a percentage of GDP. Yet neither political party has paid enough attention to this burgeoning national security problem.

National security problem? Yes. General Mike Mullen, while he was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nation’s top military man, was enlightened enough about long-term health of American power to realize that it takes continuing infusions of money to acquire the weapons and equipment, personnel, training, maintenance and benefits to create a credible military to adequately defend the country. In addition, all other indices of national power — political, diplomatic and cultural — require money too.

To generate those resources, a strong economy is needed. The number one problem dragging down economic growth rates through the George W. Bush and Barack Obama presidencies was a crippling national debt..'

- Ivan Eland, National debt is our biggest security threat: Column, January 11, 2017


Context

'..World Debt Hits $152 Trillion.'

'Our nation and the world are paying a very heavy price for a failed experiment in Inflationism..' - Doug Noland

'..Global policies since the 2008 crisis have spurred the expansion of speculative finance to multiples of pre-crisis levels..'


'Germany Plans to Cut 2017 Debt Sales .. Balanced-Budget..'

'..monetary knowledge .. of currency reform under difficult conditions you have to go to Carl Menger.'

(Banking Reform - Monetary Reform) - '..The Theory of Money and Credit .. an invaluable guide for ending the business cycles of our own time.'


(Banking Reform - English/Dutch) '..a truly stable financial and monetary system for the twenty-first century..'

          'We have no experience in stopping a nuclear war.' - Sidney Drell (no replies)        
'..My greatest concern is the lack of public awareness about this existential threat, the absence of a vigorous public debate about the nuclear-war plans of Russia and the United States, the silent consent to the roughly fifteen thousand nuclear weapons in the world. These machines have been carefully and ingeniously designed to kill us. Complacency increases the odds that, some day, they will. The “Titanic Effect” is a term used by software designers to explain how things can quietly go wrong in a complex technological system: the safer you assume the system to be, the more dangerous it is becoming.'

'The harsh rhetoric on both sides increases the danger of miscalculations and mistakes, as do other factors. Close encounters between the military aircraft of the United States and Russia have become routine, creating the potential for an unintended conflict. Many of the nuclear-weapon systems on both sides are aging and obsolete. The personnel who operate those systems often suffer from poor morale and poor training. None of their senior officers has firsthand experience making decisions during an actual nuclear crisis. And today’s command-and-control systems must contend with threats that barely existed during the Cold War: malware, spyware, worms, bugs, viruses, corrupted firmware, logic bombs, Trojan horses, and all the other modern tools of cyber warfare. The greatest danger is posed not by any technological innovation but by a dilemma that has haunted nuclear strategy since the first detonation of an atomic bomb: How do you prevent a nuclear attack while preserving the ability to launch one?

..

..the Cuban Missile Crisis, when a series of misperceptions, miscalculations, and command-and-control problems almost started an accidental nuclear war—despite the determination of both John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev to avoid one. In perhaps the most dangerous incident, the captain of a Soviet submarine mistakenly believed that his vessel was under attack by U.S. warships and ordered the firing of a torpedo armed with a nuclear warhead. His order was blocked by a fellow officer. Had the torpedo been fired, the United States would have retaliated with nuclear weapons. At the height of the crisis, while leaving the White House on a beautiful fall evening, McNamara had a strong feeling of dread—and for good reason: “I feared I might never live to see another Saturday night.”

..

The personnel who command, operate, and maintain the Minuteman III have also become grounds for concern. In 2013, the two-star general in charge of the entire Minuteman force was removed from duty after going on a drunken bender during a visit to Russia, behaving inappropriately with young Russian women, asking repeatedly if he could sing with a Beatles cover band at a Mexican restaurant in Moscow, and insulting his military hosts. The following year, almost a hundred Minuteman launch officers were disciplined for cheating on their proficiency exams. In 2015, three launch officers at Malmstrom Air Force Base, in Montana, were dismissed for using illegal drugs, including ecstasy, cocaine, and amphetamines. That same year, a launch officer at Minot Air Force Base, in North Dakota, was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison for heading a violent street gang, distributing drugs, sexually assaulting a girl under the age of sixteen, and using psilocybin, a powerful hallucinogen. As the job title implies, launch officers are entrusted with the keys for launching intercontinental ballistic missiles.

..

..A recent memoir, “Uncommon Cause,” written by General George Lee Butler, reveals that the Pentagon was not telling the truth. Butler was the head of the U.S. Strategic Command, responsible for all of America’s nuclear weapons, during the Administration of President George H. W. Bush.

According to Butler and Franklin Miller, a former director of strategic-forces policy at the Pentagon, launch-on-warning was an essential part of the Single Integrated Operational Plan (siop), the nation’s nuclear-war plan. Land-based missiles like the Minuteman III were aimed at some of the most important targets in the Soviet Union, including its anti-aircraft sites. If the Minuteman missiles were destroyed before liftoff, the siop would go awry, and American bombers might be shot down before reaching their targets. In order to prevail in a nuclear war, the siop had become dependent on getting Minuteman missiles off the ground immediately. Butler’s immersion in the details of the nuclear command-and-control system left him dismayed. “With the possible exception of the Soviet nuclear war plan, [the siop] was the single most absurd and irresponsible document I had ever reviewed in my life,” Butler concluded. “We escaped the Cold War without a nuclear holocaust by some combination of skill, luck, and divine intervention, and I suspect the latter in greatest proportion.” The siop called for the destruction of twelve thousand targets within the Soviet Union. Moscow would be struck by four hundred nuclear weapons; Kiev, the capital of the Ukraine, by about forty.

After the end of the Cold War, a Russian surprise attack became extremely unlikely. Nevertheless, hundreds of Minuteman III missiles remained on alert. The Cold War strategy endured because, in theory, it deterred a Russian attack on the missiles. McNamara called the policy “insane,” arguing that “there’s no military requirement for it.” George W. Bush, while running for President in 2000, criticized launch-on-warning, citing the “unacceptable risks of accidental or unauthorized launch.” Barack Obama, while running for President in 2008, promised to take Minuteman missiles off alert, warning that policies like launch-on-warning “increase the risk of catastrophic accidents or miscalculation.” Twenty scientists who have won the Nobel Prize, as well as the Union of Concerned Scientists, have expressed strong opposition to retaining a launch-on-warning capability. It has also been opposed by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State George Shultz, and former Senator Sam Nunn. And yet the Minuteman III missiles still sit in their silos today, armed with warheads, ready to go.

William J. Perry, who served as Secretary of Defense during the Clinton Administration, not only opposes keeping Minuteman III missiles on alert but advocates getting rid of them entirely. “These missiles are some of the most dangerous weapons in the world,” Perry wrote in the Times, this September. For many reasons, he thinks the risk of a nuclear catastrophe is greater today than it was during the Cold War. While serving as an Under-Secretary of Defense in 1980, Perry also received a late-night call about an impending Soviet attack, a false alarm that still haunts him. “A catastrophic nuclear war could have started by accident.”

Bruce Blair, a former Minuteman launch officer, heads the anti-nuclear group Global Zero, teaches at Princeton University, and campaigns against a launch-on-warning policy. Blair has described the stresses that the warning of a Russian attack would put on America’s command-and-control system. American early-warning satellites would detect Russian missiles within three minutes of their launch. Officers at norad would confer for an additional three minutes, checking sensors to decide if an attack was actually occurring. The Integrated Tactical Warning/Attack System collects data from at least two independent information sources, relying on different physical principles, such as ground-based radar and satellite-based infrared sensors. If the norad officials thought that the warning was legitimate, the President of the United States would be contacted. He or she would remove the Black Book from a briefcase carried by a military aide. The Black Book describes nuclear retaliatory options, presented in cartoon-like illustrations that can be quickly understood.

..

Although the Air Force publicly dismissed the threat of a cyberattack on the nuclear command-and-control system, the incident raised alarm within the Pentagon about the system’s vulnerability. A malfunction that occurred by accident might also be caused deliberately. Those concerns were reinforced by a Defense Science Board report in January, 2013. It found that the Pentagon’s computer networks had been “built on inherently insecure architectures that are composed of, and increasingly using, foreign parts.” Red teams employed by the board were able to disrupt Pentagon systems with “relative ease,” using tools available on the Internet. “The complexity of modern software and hardware makes it difficult, if not impossible, to develop components without flaws or to detect malicious insertions,” the report concluded.

In a recent paper for the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies, Andrew Futter, an associate professor at the University of Leicester, suggested that a nuclear command-and-control system might be hacked to gather intelligence about the system, to shut down the system, to spoof it, mislead it, or cause it to take some sort of action—like launching a missile. And, he wrote, there are a variety of ways it might be done.

..

Strict precautions have been taken to thwart a cyberattack on the U.S. nuclear command-and-control system. Every line of nuclear code has been scrutinized for errors and bugs. The system is “air-gapped,” meaning that its networks are closed: someone can’t just go onto the Internet and tap into a computer at a Minuteman III control center. At least, that’s the theory. Russia, China, and North Korea have sophisticated cyber-warfare programs and techniques. General James Cartwright—the former head of the U.S. Strategic Command who recently pleaded guilty to leaking information about Stuxnet—thinks that it’s reasonable to believe the system has already been penetrated. “You’ve either been hacked, and you’re not admitting it, or you’re being hacked and don’t know it,” Cartwright said last year.

If communications between Minuteman control centers and their missiles are interrupted, the missiles can still be launched by ultra-high-frequency radio signals transmitted by special military aircraft. The ability to launch missiles by radio serves as a backup to the control centers—and also creates an entry point into the network that could be exploited in a cyberattack. The messages sent within the nuclear command-and-control system are highly encrypted. Launch codes are split in two, and no single person is allowed to know both parts. But the complete code is stored in computers—where it could be obtained or corrupted by an insider.

Some of America’s most secret secrets were recently hacked and stolen by a couple of private contractors working inside the N.S.A., Edward Snowden and Harold T. Martin III, both employees of Booz Allen Hamilton. The N.S.A. is responsible for generating and encrypting the nuclear launch codes. And the security of the nuclear command-and-control system is being assured not only by government officials but also by the employees of private firms, including software engineers who work for Boeing, Amazon, and Microsoft.

Lord Des Browne, a former U.K. Minister of Defense, is concerned that even ballistic-missile submarines may be compromised by malware. Browne is now the vice-chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a nonprofit seeking to reduce the danger posed by weapons of mass destruction, where he heads a task force examining the risk of cyberattacks on nuclear command-and-control systems. Browne thinks that the cyber threat is being cavalierly dismissed by many in power. The Royal Navy’s decision to save money by using Windows for Submarines, a version of Windows XP, as the operating system for its ballistic-missile subs seems especially shortsighted. Windows XP was discontinued six years ago, and Microsoft warned that any computer running it after April, 2014, “should not be considered protected as there will be no security updates.” Each of the U.K. subs has eight missiles carrying a total of forty nuclear weapons. “It is shocking to think that my home computer is probably running a newer version of Windows than the U.K.’s military submarines,” Brown said.In 2013, General C. Robert Kehler, the head of the U.S. Strategic Command, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee about the risk of cyberattacks on the nuclear command-and-control system. He expressed confidence that the U.S. system was secure. When Senator Bill Nelson asked if somebody could hack into the Russian or Chinese systems and launch a ballistic missile carrying a nuclear warhead, Kehler replied, “Senator, I don’t know . . . I do not know.”

After the debacle of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Soviet Union became much more reluctant to provoke a nuclear confrontation with the United States. Its politburo was a committee of conservative old men. Russia’s leadership is quite different today. The current mix of nationalism, xenophobia, and vehement anti-Americanism in Moscow is a far cry from the more staid and secular ideology guiding the Soviet Union in the nineteen-eighties. During the past few years, threats about the use of nuclear weapons have become commonplace in Moscow. Dmitry Kiselyov, a popular newscaster and the Kremlin’s leading propagandist, reminded viewers in 2014 that Russia is “the only country in the world capable of turning the U.S.A. into radioactive dust.” The Kremlin has acknowledged the development of a nuclear torpedo that can travel more than six thousand miles underwater before devastating a coastal city. It has also boasted about a fearsome new missile design. Nicknamed “Satan 2” and deployed with up to sixteen nuclear warheads, the missile will be “capable of wiping out parts of the earth the size of Texas or France,” an official news agency claimed.

..

Russia’s greatest strategic vulnerability is the lack of a sophisticated and effective early-warning system. The Soviet Union had almost a dozen satellites in orbit that could detect a large-scale American attack. The system began to deteriorate in 1996, when an early-warning satellite had to be retired. Others soon fell out of orbit, and Russia’s last functional early-warning satellite went out of service two years ago. Until a new network of satellites can be placed in orbit, the country must depend on ground-based radar units. Unlike the United States, Russia no longer has two separate means of validating an attack warning. At best, the radar units can spot warheads only minutes before they land. Pavel Podvig, a senior fellow at the U.N. Institute for Disarmament Research, believes that Russia does not have a launch-on-warning policy—because its early-warning system is so limited.

For the past nine years, I’ve been immersed in the minutiae of nuclear command and control, trying to understand the actual level of risk. Of all the people whom I’ve met in the nuclear realm, Sidney Drell was one of the most brilliant and impressive. Drell died this week, at the age of ninety. A theoretical physicist with expertise in quantum field theory and quantum chromodynamics, he was for many years the deputy director of the Stanford Linear Accelerator and received the National Medal of Science from Obama, in 2013. Drell was one of the founding members of jason—a group of civilian scientists that advises the government on important technological matters—and for fifty-six years possessed a Q clearance, granting him access to the highest level of classified information. Drell participated in top-secret discussions about nuclear strategy for decades, headed a panel that investigated nuclear-weapon safety for the U.S. Congress in 1990, and worked on technical issues for jason until the end of his life. A few months ago, when I asked for his opinion about launch-on-warning, Drell said, “It’s insane, the worst thing I can think of. You can’t have a worse idea.”

Drell was an undergraduate at Princeton University when Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed. Given all the close calls and mistakes in the seventy-one years since then, he considered it a miracle that no other cities have been destroyed by a nuclear weapon—“it is so far beyond my normal optimism.” The prospect of a new cold war—and the return of military strategies that advocate using nuclear weapons on the battlefield—deeply unnerved him. Once the first nuclear weapon detonates, nothing might prevent the conflict from spiralling out of control. “We have no experience in stopping a nuclear war,” he said.

..

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin confront a stark choice: begin another nuclear-arms race or reduce the threat of nuclear war. Trump now has a unique opportunity to pursue the latter, despite the bluster and posturing on both sides. His admiration for Putin, regardless of its merits, could provide the basis for meaningful discussions about how to minimize nuclear risks. Last year, General James Mattis, the former Marine chosen by Trump to serve as Secretary of Defense, called for a fundamental reappraisal of American nuclear strategy and questioned the need for land-based missiles. During Senate testimony, Mattis suggested that getting rid of such missiles would “reduce the false-alarm danger.” Contrary to expectations, Republican Presidents have proved much more successful than their Democratic counterparts at nuclear disarmament. President George H. W. Bush cut the size of the American arsenal in half, as did his son, President George W. Bush. And President Ronald Reagan came close to negotiating a treaty with the Soviet Union that would have completely abolished nuclear weapons.

Every technology embodies the values of the age in which it was created. When the atomic bomb was being developed in the mid-nineteen-forties, the destruction of cities and the deliberate targeting of civilians was just another military tactic. It was championed as a means to victory. The Geneva Conventions later classified those practices as war crimes—and yet nuclear weapons have no other real use. They threaten and endanger noncombatants for the sake of deterrence. Conventional weapons can now be employed to destroy every kind of military target, and twenty-first-century warfare puts an emphasis on precision strikes, cyberweapons, and minimizing civilian casualties. As a technology, nuclear weapons have become obsolete. What worries me most isn’t the possibility of a cyberattack, a technical glitch, or a misunderstanding starting a nuclear war sometime next week. My greatest concern is the lack of public awareness about this existential threat, the absence of a vigorous public debate about the nuclear-war plans of Russia and the United States, the silent consent to the roughly fifteen thousand nuclear weapons in the world. These machines have been carefully and ingeniously designed to kill us. Complacency increases the odds that, some day, they will. The “Titanic Effect” is a term used by software designers to explain how things can quietly go wrong in a complex technological system: the safer you assume the system to be, the more dangerous it is becoming.'

- Eric Schlosser, World War Three, By Mistake, December 23, 2016


Context

The International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

          '..Russia .. cyberpower proved the perfect weapon .. political sabotage..' (no replies)        
' “We’d have all these circular meetings,” one senior State Department official said, “in which everyone agreed you had to push back at the Russians and push back hard. But it didn’t happen.”

..

Mr. Putin, a student of martial arts, had turned two institutions at the core of American democracy — political campaigns and independent media — to his own ends..

..

..The Russians clearly had a more sophisticated understanding of American politics, and they were masters of “kompromat,” their term for compromising information.

..

..the hackings of the State Department, the White House and the Pentagon..

..

What seems clear is that Russian hacking, given its success, is not going to stop. Two weeks ago, the German intelligence chief, Bruno Kahl, warned that Russia might target elections in Germany next year. “The perpetrators have an interest to delegitimize the democratic process as such,” Mr. Kahl said. Now, he added, “Europe is in the focus of these attempts of disturbance, and Germany to a particularly great extent.” '



'..the White House’s reluctance to respond forcefully meant the Russians have not paid a heavy price for their actions, a decision that could prove critical in deterring future cyberattacks.

..

..President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia moved beyond mere espionage to deliberately try to subvert American democracy and pick the winner of the presidential election.

..

..A low-cost, high-impact weapon that Russia had test-fired in elections from Ukraine to Europe was trained on the United States, with devastating effectiveness. For Russia, with an enfeebled economy and a nuclear arsenal it cannot use short of all-out war, cyberpower proved the perfect weapon: cheap, hard to see coming, hard to trace.

..

The United States had two decades of warning that Russia’s intelligence agencies were trying to break into America’s most sensitive computer networks. But the Russians have always managed to stay a step ahead.

Their first major attack was detected on Oct. 7, 1996, when a computer operator at the Colorado School of Mines discovered some nighttime computer activity he could not explain. The school had a major contract with the Navy, and the operator warned his contacts there. But as happened two decades later at the D.N.C., at first “everyone was unable to connect the dots,” said Thomas Rid, a scholar at King’s College in London who has studied the attack.

Investigators gave it a name — Moonlight Maze — and spent two years, often working day and night, tracing how it hopped from the Navy to the Department of Energy to the Air Force and NASA. In the end, they concluded that the total number of files stolen, if printed and stacked, would be taller than the Washington Monument.

Whole weapons designs were flowing out the door, and it was a first taste of what was to come: an escalating campaign of cyberattacks around the world.

..

The Russians were also quicker to turn their attacks to political purposes. A 2007 cyberattack on Estonia, a former Soviet republic that had joined NATO, sent a message that Russia could paralyze the country without invading it. The next year cyberattacks were used during Russia’s war with Georgia.

..

Mr. Obama was briefed regularly on all this, but he made a decision that many in the White House now regret: He did not name Russians publicly, or issue sanctions. There was always a reason: fear of escalating a cyberwar, and concern that the United States needed Russia’s cooperation in negotiations over Syria.

“We’d have all these circular meetings,” one senior State Department official said, “in which everyone agreed you had to push back at the Russians and push back hard. But it didn’t happen.”

..

Last year, the attacks became more aggressive. Russia hacked a major French television station, frying critical hardware. Around Christmas, it attacked part of the power grid in Ukraine, dropping a portion of the country into darkness, killing backup generators and taking control of generators. In retrospect, it was a warning shot.

..

..CrowdStrike’s nicknames for the two Russian hacking groups that the firm found at work inside the D.N.C. network. Cozy Bear — the group also known as the Dukes or A.P.T. 29, for “advanced persistent threat” — may or may not be associated with the F.S.B., the main successor to the Soviet-era K.G.B., but it is widely believed to be a Russian government operation. It made its first appearance in 2014, said Dmitri Alperovitch, CrowdStrike’s co-founder and chief technology officer.

..

Only in March 2016 did Fancy Bear show up — first penetrating the computers of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and then jumping to the D.N.C., investigators believe. Fancy Bear, sometimes called A.P.T. 28 and believed to be directed by the G.R.U., Russia’s military intelligence agency, is an older outfit, tracked by Western investigators for nearly a decade. It was Fancy Bear that got hold of Mr. Podesta’s email.

..

It was bad enough that Russian hackers had been spying inside the committee’s network for months. Now the public release of documents had turned a conventional espionage operation into something far more menacing: political sabotage, an unpredictable, uncontrollable menace for Democratic campaigns.

..

Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder and editor, has resisted the conclusion that his site became a pass-through for Russian hackers working for Mr. Putin’s government or that he was deliberately trying to undermine Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy. But the evidence on both counts appears compelling.

..

Mr. Putin, a student of martial arts, had turned two institutions at the core of American democracy — political campaigns and independent media — to his own ends. The media’s appetite for the hacked material, and its focus on the gossipy content instead of the Russian source, disturbed some of those whose personal emails were being reposted across the web.

..

In late 2014, hackers working for Kim Jong-un, the North’s young and unpredictable leader, had carried out a well-planned attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment intended to stop the Christmastime release of a comedy about a C.I.A. plot to kill Mr. Kim.

In that case, embarrassing emails had also been released. But the real damage was done to Sony’s own systems: More than 70 percent of its computers melted down when a particularly virulent form of malware was released. Within weeks, intelligence agencies traced the attack back to the North and its leadership. Mr. Obama called North Korea out in public, and issued some not-very-effective sanctions. The Chinese even cooperated, briefly cutting off the North’s internet connections.

As the first Situation Room meetings on the Russian hacking began in July, “it was clear that Russia was going to be a much more complicated case,” said one participant. The Russians clearly had a more sophisticated understanding of American politics, and they were masters of “kompromat,” their term for compromising information.

..

..code was put out in the open by the Russians as a warning: Retaliate for the D.N.C., and there are a lot more secrets, from the hackings of the State Department, the White House and the Pentagon, that might be spilled as well. One senior official compared it to the scene in “The Godfather” where the head of a favorite horse is left in a bed, as a warning.

..

As the year draws to a close, it now seems possible that there will be multiple investigations of the Russian hacking — the intelligence review Mr. Obama has ordered completed by Jan. 20, the day he leaves office, and one or more congressional inquiries. They will wrestle with, among other things, Mr. Putin’s motive.

..

Did he seek to mar the brand of American democracy, to forestall anti-Russian activism for both Russians and their neighbors? Or to weaken the next American president, since presumably Mr. Putin had no reason to doubt American forecasts that Mrs. Clinton would win easily? Or was it, as the C.I.A. concluded last month, a deliberate attempt to elect Mr. Trump?

In fact, the Russian hack-and-dox scheme accomplished all three goals.

What seems clear is that Russian hacking, given its success, is not going to stop. Two weeks ago, the German intelligence chief, Bruno Kahl, warned that Russia might target elections in Germany next year. “The perpetrators have an interest to delegitimize the democratic process as such,” Mr. Kahl said. Now, he added, “Europe is in the focus of these attempts of disturbance, and Germany to a particularly great extent.” '

- Eric Lipton, David E. Sanger and Scott Shane, The Perfect Weapon: How Russian Cyberpower Invaded the U.S., December 13, 2016


Context '[Russia] may become a threat to the world. That is the worst thing that could happen to Russia.' - Yegor Gaidar

'..Russian strategy of hybrid influence and destabilization .. German Council on Foreign Relations.'

'German intelligence says Russia is trying to destabilize German society..' - '..war that Moscow is waging against the West..'

'[Putin is doing] anything that can and will expand Russian influence to U.S.S.R.-era levels of power.'


'..Zero tolerance for Russian intrusions .. Estonia .. policy of publicly naming or prosecuting spies..'

'..the Soviet Union was cut off from Western financial markets and was effectively under permanent sanctions..'

          Who's a good boy?        
Silas hasn't had an accident in a whole week! It's like the most exciting thing ever...
Work is really crazy right now, I have less than 70 days left before the election which makes me nervous and excited and exhausted and relieved and terrified all at the same time. Mostly because part of thinks "holy crap there's so much to do before November!" and the other part of me thinks "thank goodness, maybe I'll be able to sleep a little bit soon" and yet another part of me thinks "ummmmm, I don't have a job starting November 10th and I haven't even thought about looking for one."
So those are the major stresses in my life right now. Not really sure what to do about them.
Last thing: Last night was the first night of the democratic national convention in Denver, and my Senator here in Missouri, Sen. Claire McCaskill spoke towards the end. Her kids, including her daughter Maddie (who I know!!! eeek!!) introduced her. This was the part of the convention I wanted to see. The ONE PART other than Obama's acceptance speech. And guess what? I MISSED IT. I was driving. because I work all the time. Boo. :(
          Burn After Reading        

Who’s Who
What’s What

In the World of CIA Fronts, Partners, Proprietaries & Contractors




NEW BOOK:

The Almost Classified Guide to CIA Front Companies, Proprietaries & Contractors
By WAYNE MADSEN
ISBN: 978-1-365-11196-9


Cool Justice Editor's Note: Following are excerpts from author Madsen's introduction and the body of the work. Additional suggested reading: News story about Madsen's book via the Washington, D.C. based Justice Integrity Project [link at the bottom of this post].

EXCERPTS:

From the Introduction


One of the most pervasive uses of companies as intelligence partners was under the CIA’s Operation MOCKINGBIRD. During the Cold War, the CIA, often with the approval of corporate executives, infiltrated their agents to work as journalists in newspapers, radio and television networks, wire services, and magazines. The following pages in this book are rife with examples of this penetration of the Fourth Estate – all too many in the opinion of this journalist. The CIA admitted to at least 400 journalists on the agency’s payroll at the height of MOCKINGBIRD. The CIA traditionally understates its capabilities, especially when its covert activities become publicly known. Moreover, the end of the Cold War did not stop the practice of the CIA in infiltrating the media and slant news reports to its wishes.

*

An insightful look behind the veils of secrecy into the CIA’s use of fronts, proprietaries, and partners calls into question the purpose of the CIA. Created by President Harry S Truman to serve as a central collector and repository of intelligence, the CIA became much more than that. A few weeks after the United States witnessed the assassination of President Kennedy in the middle of downtown Dallas, Truman penned an op-ed piece that appeared in several newspapers around the country. In it, Truman shared his regret for having created the CIA in 1947:

“I think it has become necessary to take another look at the purpose and operations of our Central Intelligence Agency—CIA . . . For some time I have been disturbed by the way CIA has been diverted from its original assignment. It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the Government. This has led to trouble and may have compounded our difficulties in several explosive areas.

"I never had any thought that when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak and dagger operations. Some of the complications and embarrassment I think we have experienced are in part attributable to the fact that this quiet intelligence arm of the President has been so removed from its intended role that it is being interpreted as a symbol of sinister and mysterious foreign intrigue.”

*

The 21st century’s CIA’s partners are more likely to be found among high-tech companies marketing the latest and greatest mobile applications and data mining programs than among banks, law offices, and advertising agencies. However, in the post-World War II era, the CIA’s top and middle echelons were normally found operating through cover as typewriter-pecking journalists, traveling Madison Avenue admen, corporate lawyers, and chain-smoking oilmen. In the 1970s and 80s, CIA contractors and partners began showing up in the high-tech field, with database, local area networking, and on-line information retrieval systems attracting the most interest by Langley.

*

As this book went to press, the smart phone game application Pokémon Go fad was sweeping the planet. Unbeknownst to many of the on-line game’s avid fan’s was the connection of the game’s developers to the CIA’s venture capital firm IN-Q-TEL. All users saw their geo-location and other smart phone data being swept up by a CIA partner firm.

SELECTED ENTRIES

Amazon, Inc. [CIA contractor]. Company provides cloud computing services for the CIA. Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos also owns The Washington Post.

American Historical Society. [CIA partner]. Many society officials were OSS/CIA officers.

American Press Institute. [CIA front]. Operating out of Columbia University, the institute’s director in the 1950s was a CIA officer.

AmeriCares. [CIA partner]. A non-profit organization that is often the “first in” at refugee situations. Founded by tycoon J. Peter Grace, a board chairman of the CIA front, the American Institute for Free Labor Development (AIFLD) and a trustee of another CIA front, the American Committee for Liberation from Bolshevism, AmeriCares was involved in funding the Nicaraguan contras. The group has also provided the CIA with recruiting opportunities at mass refugee sites, particularly in Latin America and Asia.

Bechtel Corporation. [CIA contractor]. Bechtel is a large construction company that has included former CIA director Richard Helms, CIA pseudonym “Fletcher M. Knight,” among its executive ranks. Bechtel was active in providing corporate cover for the OSS in the Middle East during World War II. Bechtel has been a consummate service company for various CIA operations, including support for the CIA-inspired coup against the Syrian government in 1949, the Iranian government of Prime Minister Mohamed Mossadeq in 1953, and President Sukarno of Indonesia in 1965. From the 1960s to the 1970s, Bechtel provided cover for CIA agents in Libya under both the regime of King Idris and his successor, Muammar Qaddafi. Sometimes called a “secret arm” of the CIA, Bechtel’s executives included those who would join President Reagan’s Cabinet, including Secretary of State George Schultz and Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger.

Before World War II, Steve Bechtel formed a military-industrial complex partnership with John McCone. McCone later became the chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and later, director of the CIA. The CIA has used Bechtel to provide cover for non-official cover CIA operatives abroad.

Blackstone Investment Group. [CIA front]. With offices in Washington, DC and Moscow, arranged for the purchase of KGB documents following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Among the documents sought by the front company were any related to illegal CIA activities during the Cold War, including the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Bourbon and Beefsteak Bar and Restaurant. [CIA front]. Opened in 1967 in King’s Cross in Sydney, Australia. Served as a rendezvous point for CIA, Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO), and organized crime figures. Its proprietor was Bernie Houghton, a CIA operative with links to Nugan Hand Bank, CIA weapons smuggler Edwin Wilson, and CIA clandestine services officers Theodore Shackley, Rafael Quintero, and Thomas Clines.

Center for Democracy. [CIA front]. Administered under the aegis of Boston University, the center maintained offices in Boston, Washington, DC, Guatemala City, and Strasbourg, France. Involved in CIA operations in eastern Europe, Central America, and Africa.

Colt Patent Firearms Company. [CIA partner]. Based in Hartford, Connecticut, provided corporate cover for CIA officers operating abroad.

Daddario & Burns. [CIA partner]. Headed by former OSS officer Emilio Daddario, a Democratic Representative from Connecticut, the Hartford-based law firm provided services to the CIA.

DC Comics. [CIA partner]. Worked with the International Military Information Group (IMIG), a joint CIA/Pentagon unit at the State Department, to disseminate propaganda comic books, featuring Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, in Serbo-Croatian and Albanian, to youth in the Balkans during the military conflicts in that region.

Disney Corporation. [CIA partner]. CIA agents who were adept at creating front companies and shell corporations in Florida, worked closely with Disney in preparation for the construction of Disney World near Orlando, Florida. OSS veteran “Wild Bill” Donovan and CIA shell company expert Paul Helliwell helped create two fake Florida cities, Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista, as well as a number of shell corporations, to keep secret the plans for Disney World. This kept land prices low because real estate speculators were unaware of the prospective value of the land in a desolate area of central Florida.

Emory School of Medicine. [CIA partner]. Located in Atlanta, Georgia. Involved in the CIA’s MK-ULTRA behavioral modification project.

Enron Corporation [CIA partner]. Houston-based firm that was used by the CIA to provide commercial cover for its agents around the world. There were at least 20 CIA employees on Enron’s payroll. Andre Le Gallo, a former official of the CIA’s Operations Directorate, went to work as a corporate intelligence officer for Enron.

Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC). [CIA front]. Officially established by American Trotskyists, the group was penetrated by CIA operatives. The FPCC New Orleans office was a CIA front that provided cover for the anti-Fidel Castro activities of Lee Harvey Oswald, Clay Shaw, and David Ferrie, among others. The New Orleans FPCC office was located at 544 Camp Street and shared the same building entrance with Guy Banister Associates, Inc., a private detective agency, the address for which was 531 Lafayette Street and around the corner from 544 Camp Street.

In December 1963, after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the FPCC ceased all U.S. operations.

General Electric Company. [CIA partner]. Based in Fairfield, Connecticut, provided corporate cover for CIA officers operating abroad.

General Foods Corporation. [CIA partner]. Advertising account at CIA’s Robert Mullen Company handled by an active CIA employee.

Google, Inc. [CIA partner]. Developed as a result of a research grant by the CIA and Pentagon to Stanford University’s Department of Computer Science. The CIA referred to the research as the “google project.”

Greenberg Traurig. [CIA partner]. Washington, DC “connected” law firm.

Guy Banister Associates, Inc. [CIA partner]. New Orleans private detective agency headed by former FBI agent Guy Banister. The detective agency coordinated the activities of various anti-Castro Cuban groups in New Orleans, including Banister’s own Anti-Communist League of the Caribbean, as well as the Cuban Revolutionary Council, the Cuban Democratic Revolutionary Front, Friends of Democratic Cuba, and the Crusade to Free Cuba Committee.

Banister and Associates shared office space with the CIA’s New Orleans front, the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, headed by Lee Harvey Oswald.

Hale and Dorr. [CIA partner]. Boston-based law firm that provided cover for CIA’s Independence and Brown Foundations.

Halliburton. [CIA contractor]. Based in Houston, it is the world’s largest oil service company. Recipient of a number of CIA sole-source contracts for services worldwide.

Harper and Row, Inc. [CIA partner]. Manuscripts submitted to the New York publisher that dealt with intelligence matters, particularly CIA operations, were turned over to the CIA for censoring edits before publication.

Hewlett Packard Corporation. [CIA partner]. Sold computers to Iraq for Saddam Hussein’s missile program with the knowledge and approval of the CIA.

Hill & Knowlton. [CIA partner]. Public relations firm that teamed with the CIA on a number of operations. Hill & Knowlton’s numerous offices abroad provided cover for CIA agents. One known Hill & Knowlton office that was a CIA front operation was in Kuala Lumpur.

Kerr-McGee. [CIA partner]. Provided corporate cover for CIA officers operating overseas.

Kissinger Associates, Inc. [CIA partner]. New York-based international consulting firm founded by former Secretary of State and National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger. Former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft is a co-owner. The firm provided support to the CIA-linked American Ditchley Foundation and the Bilderberg Group. Much of the 1982 seed money for Kissinger Associates was provided by Goldman Sachs.

Knight Foundation. [CIA partner]. Also known as the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Based in Miami, the foundation provides funding for various CIA-connected media operations in the United States and around the world.

Kroll Inc. [CIA partner]. Founded in 1972 by Jules Kroll, who had links to both U.S. and Israeli intelligence. Based in Manhattan. French domestic law enforcement believed Kroll’s Paris office was a CIA front. Kroll handled the security for the World Trade Center after the 1993 terrorist bombing and continued to be responsible for security up to, during, and after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack. Kroll employed former FBI assistant director for counter-terrorism John O’Neill, who died in the collapse of the World Trade Center.

Lincoln Savings and Loan. [CIA partner]. Based in Irvine, California and headed by notorious swindler Charles Keating, Jr., involved in laundering funds for the Iran-contra scandal.

Lone Star Cement Corporation. [CIA partner]. Based in Stamford, Connecticut and linked to the Bush family, provided corporate cover for CIA officers operating abroad. Involved in the Iran-contra scandal.

Mary Carter Paint Company. [CIA front]. A money-laundering operation for the CIA. Involved in casinos in the Bahamas.

Monsanto. [CIA partner]. The firm contracted with former CIA official Cofer Black’s Total Intelligence Solutions (TIS), a subsidiary of the CIA-connected Blackwater USA, later Xe Services, to monitor animal rights groups, anti-genetically modified (GM) food activists, and other groups opposed to Monsanto’s agri-business operations worldwide.

National Enquirer. [CIA partner]. The tabloid’s founder, Generoso (Gene) Pope, Jr., worked for the CIA’s psychological warfare unit and the agency’s Italy branch in 1950. In 1952, Pope acquired The New York Enquirer broadsheet and transformed it into a tabloid, renaming it The National Enquirer. This transformation bore the imprimatur of the CIA’s Operation MOCKINGBIRD media influence program.

Newsweek. [CIA partner]. Magazine reporters and stringers fed information to the CIA. Newsweek’s stringers in southeastern Europe and the Far East were CIA agents. When Newsweek was bought by The Washington Post Company in 1961, cooperation between the magazine and the CIA increased. It was a participant in the CIA’s Operation MOCKINGBIRD media influence program. Much of the staff of Newsweek was absorbed into a new online publication, The Daily Beast, which continues to disseminate CIA-influenced articles. See Washington Post.

Nieman Foundation. [CIA partner]. Located at Harvard University, the foundation awarded Nieman Fellowships, some on behalf of the CIA, for foreign journalists to study at Harvard. The journalists were subjected to CIA recruitment efforts prior to their returning to their home countries.

Pamela Martin & Associates. [CIA partner], Escort firm run by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the so-called “DC Madam.” During her 2008 trial for mail fraud, Palfrey attempted to invoke the Classified Information Procedures Act in order to discuss her relationship with the CIA. The U.S. Court refused Palfrey’s request and she was convicted and later said to have committed suicide before her sentencing hearing in Washington, DC. One of her clients was Randall Tobias, the head of the CIA-connected USAID. Another was Louisiana Republican senator David Vitter.

Paris Review. [CIA front]. Literary magazine edited by George Plimpton. Published works by Jack Kerouac and Samuel Beckett. The magazine’s co-founder, Peter Matthiessen, relied on his affiliation with the magazine as his CIA cover.

Quaker Oats Company. [CIA partner]. Worked with the CIA and Atomic Energy Commission to place trace amounts of radiation in breakfast cereal served to boys at the Fernald School for the mentally retarded in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Radio Corporation of America. [CIA partner]. Provided corporate cover for CIA officers operating abroad, particularly in Iran, Philippines, Japan, and West Germany. Provided technical assistance to CIA-financed clandestine and propaganda radio stations worldwide, including Radio Free Europe. RCA founder David Sarnoff was a major supporter of CIA operations, including propaganda dissemination around the world. RCA chairman and chief executive officer Thornton F. Bradshaw was active in the operations of the CIA-linked American Ditchley Foundation.

Reily Coffee Company. [CIA partner]. Also known as William B. Reily Coffee Company and based in New Orleans, this company employed Lee Harvey Oswald and a number of other U.S. government employees, many of whom were suspected CIA officers.

Robert M. Mullen Company. [CIA proprietary]. A Washington, DC public relations firm, it was used as a front for CIA activities. E. Howard Hunt, the CIA agent, worked for Robert Mullen when he was arrested in the break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington in 1972. The Senate Watergate Committee reported that “the Mullen and Company has maintained a relationship with the Central Intelligence Agency since its incorporation in 1959. It provided covers for agents in Europe (Stockholm), Latin America (Mexico City), and the Far East (Singapore) at the time of the Watergate break-in.”

Rockefeller Foundation. [CIA partner]. Used by the CIA to direct scholarships and grants to the Third World and Eastern Europe. Rockefeller Foundation money was funneled to the American Committee for a United Europe (ACUE), created in 1948. The chairman of ACUE was OSS chief William J. Donovan and the vice chairman was Allen Dulles. One of ACUE’s board members was Walter Bedell Smith, the first CIA director.

Summa Corporation. [CIA partner]. Owned by Howard Hughes, Summa is believed to have skimmed gambling profits from the Sands, Desert Inn, Frontier, Silver Slipper, Castaways, and Landmark casinos in Las Vegas and Harold’s Club in Reno for the CIA and the Mafia. Provided financial cover for the CIA’s Glomar Explorer project.

Teneo Intelligence. [CIA partner]. Branch of Teneo Holdings, which is headquartered in New York. Teneo Holdings’s intelligence branch includes former CIA officials. Teneo is closely linked to former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton. Teneo Intelligence has offices in New York, London, Rome, Brussels, Dubai, Bogota, New Delhi, and Tokyo.

Texas Commerce Bank (TCB). [CIA partner]. Houston-based bank founded by the family of James Baker III. Texas Commerce Bank was used to provide commercial cover for CIA agents. After serving as vice president for Texas Commerce Bank in Caracas from 1977 to 1979, Jeb Bush joined his father’s presidential campaign in 1980. Serving with Bush on the campaign was Robert Gambino, the CIA deputy director of security who gave Bush his orientation brief at Langley in 1977.

Kenneth Lay, the chairman of Enron, which had its own links to the CIA, served on the board of Texas Commerce Bank. Texas Commerce Bank was acquired by Chemical Bank in 1987.

The bank provided major loans to Howard Hughes’s Summa Corporation. See Summa Corporation.

United Fruit Company [CIA partner]. Involved in 1954 CIA overthrow of Jacobo Arbenz government in Guatemala. Published the Latin America Report, a publication that was a CIA front used for clandestine activities. The CIA transferred weapons to United Fruit employees in Guatemala who were involved in undermining the Arbenz government. The joint CIA-United Fruit plan was code named OPERATION FORTUNE. Company provided an airfield in Guatemala for the CIA’s training of Cuban exiles for the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.

U.S. Rubber Company. [CIA partner]. Headquartered in Naugatuck, Connecticut and later called Uniroyal, provided corporate cover to CIA officers operating abroad. Included those operating under the cover of the Dominion Rubber Company of Canada, a subsidiary of U.S. Rubber Company.

U.S. Youth Council (USYC). [CIA front]. Founded in 1945 and based in New York. Some 90 percent of its funds came from the CIA. USYC received funding from the Foundation for Youth and Student Affairs (FYSA), a CIA front. The USYC was composed of American Youth Hostels, Camp Fire Girls, 4-H, American Unitarian Youth, National Catholic Welfare Conference, National Students Assembly, YMCA and YWCA.

Wackenhut. [CIA contractor]. Wackenhut, a Palm Beach Gardens, Florida-based security firm, stood accused of providing the CIA with specialized services around the world, including Chile, Greece, and El Salvador. Its Venezuelan branch, Wackenhut Venezolana, C.A., was accused in 2002 of involvement in the CIA’s coup against President Hugo Chavez. William Casey served as Wackenhut’s outside counsel before becoming CIA director in 1981.

Wackenhut eventually merged into the global security firm G4S.

Washington Post. [CIA partner]. The Washington Post was part of the CIA’s Operation MOCKINGBIRD, the agency’s media influence project. Post publisher Phil Graham was a close friend and associate of MOCKINGBIRD chief Frank Wisner, Sr. and CIA director Allen Dulles. Wisner assisted Graham in acquiring The Washington Times-Herald and WTOP radio, creating a sizable CIA-influenced media operation in the nation’s capital.

W. R. Grace. [CIA partner]. Provided corporate cover to CIA officers operating abroad, particularly in Latin America. Provided donations to CIA front foundations.

  • News story about Madsen's book via The Justice Integrity Project



  •           NEW: RFK Jr. says ‘recent forensic evidence’ points to two shooters in his father’s assassination         


    Robert F. Kennedy flanked by union organizers Dolores Huerta (left) and Paul Schrade (right). Huerta co-founded what would become the United Farm Workers. Schrade, also a union organizer, was one of five others wounded when RFK was assassinated in 1968.
    - Photo courtesy of Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund


    Cool Justice:
    RFK Jr. points to forensic evidence of second gunman in his father’s assassination
    By Andy Thibault


    Buried on page 271 of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s new book on the Skakel murder case in Greenwich is a quick, but telling reference to his father’s assassination.

    As part of my summer reading I highlighted the passage. I had a visceral sense it was important.

    Kennedy family members rarely have spoken publicly about the assassinations of either President John Kennedy or U.S. Sen. Robert Kennedy, much less criticized the official findings. The passage is noteworthy for the simple fact it is memorialized in a book. It is not just a comment in an interview.

    This angle deserves serious attention, and so it wasn’t shoehorned into the column published Aug. 5 on the Greenwich murder case, “COOL JUSTICE: RFK Jr. attacks prosecutors, cops, courts for willful misconduct as he asserts cousin Skakel’s innocence.”

  • Aug. 5 column

  • Some of Kennedy’s claims and his book investigating the murder of 15-year-old Martha Moxley in Greenwich in 1975 have been panned by the state Judicial Department and other authors who chronicled the case. A state Supreme Court ruling on whether Skakel will face a retrial or be sent back to prison is expected this fall. A senior judge ruled in 2013 that Skakel did not receive a fair trial when he was convicted of the Moxley murder in 2002. Skakel was freed on bond after serving 11 years of a sentence of 20 years to life in jail.

    That covers a lot of ground, and the next court decision will be big news. It seems to me the “footnote” on page 271 also is big news.

    Following are two paragraphs from Kennedy’s book, “Framed, Why Michael Skakel Spent Over A Decade In Prison For A Murder He Didn’t Commit,” leading up to the clincher paragraph on the RFK assassination:

    “I sympathize deeply with Dorthy Moxley [Martha’s mother]. I have seen up-close the agony of a mother’s grief over the loss of her child. my mother lost her husband to murder and two of her sons to violent, untimely deaths in the bosom of their youth. I was with her when my father died. I stood beside her 29 years later as my little brother Michael died in her arms.

    “My mother told us that we needed to let go of our impulse for revenge and allow the cycle of violence to end with our family. This, she said, was the lesson of the New Testament, which swapped the savage eye-for-an-eye tribalism of the Old Testament for the ethical mandate that we turn the other cheek. But forgiveness wasn’t just ethics. It was salutary. Revenge and resentments, my mother said, are corrosive. Indulging them is like swallowing poison and hoping someone else will die. By opposing the death penalty for Sirhan, we diluted these poisonous passions.

    “And what if, God forbid, the object of our revenge turns out to be innocent? For several decades, my father’s close friend Paul Schrade [in recent photo, right], who took one of Sirhan’s bullets, has argued that Sirhan Sirhan did not fire the shot that killed my father. Recent forensic evidence supports him. How would we have felt now, if our family had demanded his execution?”

    Like most Americans, I had not paid much attention to the forensic details regarding the RFK murder. What kind of evidence was RFK Jr. referring to? What is the significance of his dropping this tidbit toward the end of a book on another subject?

    Robert F. Kennedy was shot just after midnight on June 5, 1968 in the back and in the back of the head at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. He had been celebrating his California primary win in his campaign for the Democratic nomination for president. Kennedy had become a vigorous opponent of the Vietnam War and an advocate for civil rights, unions and racial justice. His death came just two months after the murder of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

    The renowned forensic pathologist and medical school professor, Dr. Cyril Wecht, assisted Los Angeles Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Noguchi in efforts to secure the Kennedy body and perform the autopsy. I reached out to Wecht this week to talk about the new Kennedy statement and the evidence cited by Paul Schrade and others.

    Regarding Robert Kennedy Jr.’s statement in the new book, Wecht commented: “I think it’s commendable. I wish he had done it sooner.”


    Letter presented this year to California parole officials by Paul Schrade


  • Complete column at Litchfield County Times


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  • more COOL JUSTICE







  • Via @NorwichBulletin #moreCOOLJUSTICE @ #SpraguePublicLibrary 9-22-16 #TrueCrime All Sides of the Law






  • Recent column: Judges who played role in murder probe squelched access to key testimony




  •           Al Gore’s Inconvenient Sequel could just make climate rift worse        
    Perhaps the veteran Democrat should have stayed in the wings for the follow-up to hit documentary An Inconvenient Truth, suggests Adam Corner
              Towards Future Proof Customer Relations        

    Technology is changing customer relations rapidly. You see that technology is becoming invisible, technology is creating new experiences for customers, technology is democratizing the world and technology is making customer relations more transparant than ever. These evolutions have a big impact on doing business. In this presentation, I give guidelines for your customer strategy in the day after tomorrow. How to create a future proof customer strategy? It is build on 5 pillars: mobile first, data expertise, platform thinking, boundless experiences and customer collaboration.
              Providence Mayoral Candidate Elorza Promises To Tighten Ethics In City Hall        
    Democratic Providence mayoral candidate Jorge Elorza outlined a plan in front of City Hall Thursday for tightening ethics oversight in the city his first 100 days in office. Elorza’s plan includes impaneling an ethics commission that now exists only on paper, training for department heads, making city government more transparent, and refusing campaign contributions from city employees as both a candidate and mayor. “It’s about making sure our city employees will never be put in a position where they have to worry about their job depending upon whom they contribute politically to,” said Elorza. Elorza is calling on independent candidate Buddy Cianci to return about $18,000 in contributions from city employees, saying it fosters a pay-to-play mentality. Do you have insight or expertise on this topic? Please email us, we'd like to hear from you. news@ripr.org
              The Democracy Project [Audio]        
    Speaker(s): Dr David Graeber, Professor Craig Calhoun | From the earliest meetings for Occupy Wall Street, David Graeber felt that something was different from previous demonstrations. What was it about this particular movement that worked this time? And what can we now do to make our world more democratic again? Graeber presents a vital new exploration of anti-capitalist dissent, looking at the actions of the 99% and revealing the alternative political and economic possibilities of our future. David Graeber is an anthropologist at Goldsmiths, University of London, who has been involved with the Occupy movement most actively at Wall Street. He is widely credited with coining the phrase "We are the 99%" and is the author of the widely praised Debt: The First 5000 Years. His new book The Democracy Project is published by Allen Lane. Craig Calhoun is a world-renowned social scientist whose work connects sociology to culture, communication, politics, philosophy and economics. He took up his post as LSE Director on 1 September 2012, having left the United States where he was University Professor at New York University and director of the Institute for Public Knowledge and President of the Social Science Research Council. He is the author of several books including Nations Matter, Critical Social Theory, Neither Gods Nor Emperors and most recently The Roots of Radicalism (University of Chicago Press, 2012).
              Why Did Nobody Tell Us? Reporting the Global Crash of 2008 [Audio]        
    Speaker(s): Alex Brummer, Vince Cable MP; Evan Davis; Gillian Tett; Professor Willem Buiter | This event will discuss the reporting leading up to the global credit crash of 2008. Alex Brummer has been City Editor for the Daily Mail since 2000. He has over thirty years' experience in the media. Vincent Cable is the Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer and speaks for his party on issues of Finance, European Economic and Monetary Union and the City. Evan Davis is a presenter of BBC Radio 4's Today programme. He was the BBC's Economics Editor from 2001-2008.
              Nuclear test on Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)        
    Following the announcement today by the government of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) of having conducted a new nuclear test, the government of Spain strongly condemns this action, a flagrant violation of several resolutions of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). 09/09/2016 This last test, the second this year and the fifth since [...]
              SeaWorld’s Tank Size Questioned by Congress, Thanks to the Little Film That Could, “Blackfish”        
    According to (CNN), “Over three dozen members of Congress want the government to ensure the humane treatment of orca whales and other marine animals in captivity, following an outcry sparked by the documentary “Blackfish.”” “The letter, released Thursday and signed by 37 Democrats and one Republican to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, cites outdated regulations protecting those
              Â¿Como registrarse en DOSE PDVSA?        
    DOSE (Democratización de Oportunidades de Selección y Empleo) es un programa desarrollado por la empresa petrolera PDVSA la cual tiene como objetivo repartir las ofertas y oportunidades de trabajo democraticamente a aquellas personas que deseen prestar o realizar una solicitud de trabajo en PDVSA. Para registrarse en DOSE es necesario entrar a la pagina del […]
              STOP the conversation! No one is listening        

    Where are the conversations? In politics, conversations where people have differing views are impossible. People scream at each other. No one is listening to the other side. Democrats are outraged at Republicans.  Republicans push agendas in spite of the public outcries. No one is listening! How do we have conversations that move us toward healing and […]

    The post STOP the conversation! No one is listening appeared first on Long On Language.


              Should Loans with Poor Credit Requirements be More Regulated?        

    Personal Money Store Blog

    Increasing controversy surrounds the question of whether loans with poor credit should be more strictly regulated by the federal or state governments. Democrats passed the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 to address the abuses of lenders that caused the mortgage crisis of 2008-2009. Supporters of greater regulation feel that many short-term and bad credit loans take

    Should Loans with Poor Credit Requirements be More Regulated?


              Bad Credit Loans Are Here to Stay – Despite Tighter Lending Standards        

    Personal Money Store Blog

    Bad credit loans seem likely to continue despite tighter lending standards and increased federal and state regulations. The debate over regulating the financial industry with tough reforms, limits on interest rates and other requirements has seesawed back and forth. Democrats created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to regulate the financial industry after mismanagement became apparent

    Bad Credit Loans Are Here to Stay – Despite Tighter Lending Standards


               Weiner's weener         
    Weiner's weener

    Weiner's weener
    "Hey, Anothony Weiner, what the hell is this?!!!When I said send me a "head"shot...this isn't what I had in mind
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    Keywords: spoof parody comedy humor funny laughs anthony weiner politicians sex scandal democrat penis
    Views: 14,822


              Asm. Allen sues to overturn the CA Attorney General’s misleading title for the Gas Tax Repeal initiative        
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Maryann Marino, (949) 375-0856 Travis Allen Files Lawsuit to Overturn Attorney General’s Misleading Title and Summary for Repeal the Gas Tax Initiative Democrat...

    [[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]

              Several Republicans running for CA Governor but we could end up with an all-Democrat runoff        
    GOP Field For California Governor Grows, and Chance of All-Democrat Runoff by JON FLEISCHMAN Last week Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) announced his candidacy for Governor of...

    [[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]

              IF POLITICAL PARTIES WERE WOMEN, WHAT KIND WOULD THEY BE?        

    If Singapore political parties were women, what kind would they be?

    People's Action Party (PAP) - the boring, nagging wife that men are growing tried of after many years of marriage. The kind you are thinking of divorce but worried that the next wife could be worse.

    Workers' Party (WP) - the current FB (fuck buddy) whom men seriously thought of marrying but many people say women all the same after marriage.

    Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) - The one night stand that men just couldn't forget after many years. Thought of making her your FB but remembered the crazy things she did many years ago.

    National Solidarity Party (NSP) - The average-looking slut who thinks she is pretty and plays hard to get when no one was really interested.

    SingFirst - The neighborhood MILF who dressed well but only look good from afar.

    Reform Party (RP) - The girl that get drunk really fast and moans loudly during sex.

    People's Power Party (PPP) - The forgettable girlfriend of the average looking slut.

    Singapore People's Party (SPP) - The kind soul woman that men only see as friend. Singapore People's Party

    Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) - The fat girl in the neighborhood who is known to be "any rider".

    Gordon Tay
    A.S.S. Reader

    Editor's Note: 

    Do you have a story to share? Please use our submission form or email us at editorial@allsingaporestuff.com. If not, why not give us a 'Like'?

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              May 28, 2016 Stacy on the Right Hour 2        

    Krauthammer: "Not enough time" for Clintons to wait out the email scandal... plus, even Democrats are upset about Hillary's lies about her email server. 


              BRAIN Initiative        
    President Obama recently announced a big new effort to map and understand the human brain. What are we trying to learn about our brains? One thing we will earn is how our brains are structured, "not this well-organized hierarchical control system where everything is in order." Another is how much of mental illness is shaped by experience and society, as opposed to chemical or structural factors. What do we already know about our brains? 12 Things We Know About How The Brain Works. And we know that unconcious processing improves decision-making. That brain structure may be linked to placebo response. And that unconcious brains can read and do math. We know a little bit more about how the brain responds to addiction. And we know that "genetic, molecular and cellular mechanisms" in childhood can have permanent ill effects. We think that differences in our brain reflect political differences. But we know that a lot of pop neuroscience is bollocks. What could we do with new information? Could we reverse-engineer AI? Manipulate our brains, neuron-by-neuron? Make better soldiers? Or record dreams? Or activate neurons with light? Or make better, crowdsourced brain maps? Neurotechnology, Social Control, And Revolution
    In our neuro-centric world-view, a person is equated to his brain. The neuro-discourse has penetrated all aspects of our lives from law to politics to literature to medicine to physics. As part of this neuro-revolution, huge military funding is supporting neuro-scientific research; a huge body of basic knowledge on memory, belief formation, cognition and sensory modalities has been gathered over years, with fieldslike social neuroscience, cultural neuroscience, neuroeconomics and neuromarketing has emerging to improve our lifestyle; neurotechnological know-how from wireless non invasive technologies to neuroelectronic interfaces is exponentially advancing; and neurotechnology business reports indicates the rapid increase in neurotechnological start ups and the willingness of bringing neurotechnological products to the market. In my opinion, all the aforementioned indicators indicate that neurotechnology can be potentially used to control social dynamics.

              Surprise, surprise - those Murray-Darling Basin water raiders have slithered over the horizon once more and are eyeing off the Clarence Valley river system yet again        

    With so little fanfare that much of  Northern Rivers region missed it, the NSW Berejiklian Government reopened the March 2016 inquiry into augmentation of water supply for rural and regional New South Wales on 28 May 2017, with Terms of Reference published in July 2017.

    This Upper House inquiry is chaired by Robert Brown MLC, from the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party and its reporting date has been extended to 30 March 2018. 

    Current committee membership is as follows:

    Robert Brown MLC, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, Chair
    Mick Veitch MLC, Australian Labor Party, Deputy Chair
    Jeremy Buckingham MLC, The Greens
    Rick Colless MLC, The Nationals
    Scot MacDonald MLC, Liberal Party
    Greg Pearce MLC, Liberal Party
    Penny Sharpe MLC, Australian Labor Party
    Daniel Mookhey MLC, Australian Labor Party
    Paul Green MLC, Christian Democratic Party
    * Jeremy Buckingham MLC (Greens)is substituting for Dr Mehreen Faruqui MLC for the duration of the inquiry.
    * Matthew Mason-Cox MLC (Liberal)  is substituting for Hon Greg Pearce MLC for the duration of the inquiry.
    * Paul Green MLC and Penny Sharpe MLC will be participating for the duration of the inquiry.

    A poorly advertised public hearing scheduled for 1 August 2017 in Lismore (with details sent to media on 31 July 2017) excluded Northern Rivers residents from giving evidence unless they represented a small number of invited groups.

    It appears the committee had also determined that Clarence Valley Council was to be asked its view on diverting Clarence River system flood water.

    Given flood water is already diverted to the purpose built Shannon Creek side dam to ensure a sustainable water supply for the est. 125,103 residents (Census 2016) currently living in Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour local government areas, there are no prizes for guessing where any additional water diversion would be allocated.

    Yes, that paragon of sustainable water mismanagement - the cluster of councils, industries, irrigators and water traders within the Murray-Darling Basin.

    It will come as no surprise that Griffith Council is still pursuing a Clarence River dam and divert scheme. North Coast Voices reported on its obsession in August 2016.

    This is what the Griffith City Council Deputy mayor, Dino Zappacosta of Zappacosta Estate Wines in Hanwood, told the inquiry on 1 March 2017:

    The issue that my committee, Build More Dams, has looked at is that we need more water because farmers are crying out for more water. We need new water. By "new water", I mean water that is not currently being used at all. We looked at various options, including the Clarence Valley area, where millions and millions of megalitres of water flow out into the sea for what seems to be no real benefit at all for the community of the Clarence region, other than for the natural farming land and the fishery industry there.

    It soon became apparent that, appart from the notion of free water at the expense of Clarence Valley communities’ social, cultural, aesthetic, environmental and economic values, Griffith Council knew little about how this dam and divert scheme would work.

    The Hon. RICK COLLESS: You have been talking about the Clarence River diversion scheme. Is it correct that that is essentially restricted to the Mann River subcatchment?

    Mr ZAPPACOSTA: To the best of my knowledge, it covers most of the tributaries—for example, the Boyd River, the Mann River, the Nymboida River and the Timbarra River. They are highlighted on map 2, which was provided to the Committee.

    The Hon. RICK COLLESS: I am a little confused about the way the map reads. It appears as though the water is coming out of the Mann River catchment, which is a subcatchment of the Clarence. The divisions appear to be above the confluence of the Nymboida and the Mann. You recommend a 23 per cent Clarence River diversion, but the question is: What percentage of is that of the Mann River flow and what environmental impact will that have on the Mann River below where it is diverted? We should keep in mind the history of the Snowy River and what has happened there over the past 50 years. Does anybody have any thoughts about that? Mr ZAPPACOSTA: I will have to take on notice exactly how much comes from the Mann River itself.

    The Hon. RICK COLLESS: What is the reduction in flow from the sub-catchment rivers below where the water is diverted from them? What environmental impacts will that have on those rivers?

    Mr ZAPPACOSTA: I appreciate the question. I think what you are asking is something we should dig into a bit deeper; there should be a study of it, preferably a feasibility study.

    The Hon. RICK COLLESS: There needs to be a lot of work done on this, as you would appreciate.

    While the Director of Utilities at Griffith City Council stated:

    As an engineer I see the great benefits of supporting a scheme such as the Clarence River diversion scheme, not only from a water augmentation point of view. My directorate covers water supply as well as the flooding impacts caused by rainfall run-off. The Clarence River diversion scheme is not only a supply scheme but a flood mitigation solution, as the general manager mentioned. In my research I have referred to the document entitled Lower Clarence Flood Model—Update 2013 produced by BMT WBM consultants. They happen to be the same consultants who undertook our flood study and provided our flood mitigation options. They work across the State and they are well versed in flooding, from the Northern Rivers down to our area.

    The Clarence River catchment on the far North Coast of New South Wales is one of the largest catchments on the east coast of Australia. It is approximately 20,000 square kilometres. It is above the towns of Grafton, Maclean and Yamba, and it is home to more than 20,000 people. The lower Clarence Valley has a long history of flooding, since settlement in about 1850. Bear with me as I read out the dates of the flooding events. I was just going to say a number, but it has more of an impact when you follow the years of flooding that the area has endured due to the large catchment that sits above it. Floods were recorded in 1863 and 1864. There was a record flood in 1890 in which two people lost their lives and there was extensive damage to the rural area. Further floods occurred in 1921 and 1928. Since 1945 the incidence of major flooding has been much higher, with floods occurring in 1945, 1946, 1948, 1950, 1954, 1956, 1959, 1963, 1967, 1968, 1974, 1976, 1980, 1988, 1996, 2001, 2009 and 2013.

    There is a regular occurrence of extreme flooding in the Northern Rivers catchment, below the Clarence River. Section 4.4 of the Lower Clarence Flood Model—Update 2013 acknowledges that "the river flows originating from upstream of Grafton dominate flooding in the Lower Clarence Valley". Diversion of the Clarence River flows for that area towards the west, and the 25 per cent or 23.8 per cent that will be captured, diverted and controlled, will be of great benefit to flood mitigation in the Northern Rivers area. The document further says that it will maximise the investment from the Government not only to help solve water augmentation issues but to reduce the financial and human impacts flooding has in the northern coastal areas. The Clarence River diversion scheme was documented in 1981 by David Coffey and he estimated costings back then. We have done a projection to a present-day cost of approximately $10 billion. There are statistics on the map that I have provided to the Committee.

    The Snowy Mountains scheme would have cost $10 billion in present-day money, so there are similar costings in the schemes. The 1,100 gigalitres diverted per annum from the Clarence River has generated $1.82 billion in agriculture. The scheme means that 23.8 per cent of the flows that would be heading down to flood people can be diverted. When you equate the $550 million a year in flood damages with the cost of a diversion scheme, 1,100 gigalitres can generate $1.8 billion a year in agriculture growth. The additional water means that 118,000 hectares of viable open country can be farmed. The offset of diversion and flood protection is that it is beneficial to all. That is where I will leave it.

    The public hearing in Griffith was reported thus by The Area News on 2 March 2017:

    HIGH-profile Griffith water users and city officials enjoyed a rare opportunity to sit face-to-face with Members of the NSW Upper House on Wednesday to discuss their handling of water….

    The Honourable Rick Colless, The Honourable Paul Green, The Honourable Matthew Mason-Cox and The Honourable Penelope Sharpe were on hand to hear the concerns of the community….

    Along with wanting to fix the water sharing plans, the other hot topic was the Clarence River Scheme, initially conceptualised by David Coffey in the 1970s.

    The plan outlined diverting river flows westward from high rainfall catchments in the Northern Rivers.

    According to Griffith City Council, the scheme will benefit lands south of the Dumaresq River while also providing flows into the Murray River, reducing the reliance for Murray-Darling Basin allocations to fill the original allocation to the basin. 

    “We have looked at various options and we look at the Clarence Valley area where there are millions of millions of megalitres of water flowing out into the sea for what seems to be for no real benefit,” Councilor Dino Zappacosta said.

    Griffith City Council general manager, Brett Stonestreet said it’s time the scheme is looked at again.

    “It provides new water to give this state another shot in the arm,” he said.

    “It also looks at potentially reducing flooding impact of the coastal communities adjacent to the Clarence by 25 per cent.

    “There is a huge amount of money that can be generated and inland communities rediscovered and regenerated through new water.”

    Mayor Dal Broi was pleased with how the inquiry was conducted and the feedback from the Senators.

    “Some of the questions that were asked by the panel members, we know now what they are thinking,” he said.

    “They were very receptive to the concept of new water so whether it's the diversion of the Clarence or lifting the wall on Burrinjuck Dam ... they were very receptive to that because we tried to make the point that the limited resources at the moment.”

    “We need new water if our regions are to grow and have a better long-term sustainable allocation.”

    Not content with bringing down the largest river system in Australia in order to line their own pockets, these wanabee water raiders just keep on coming after what they see as more 'free' water for the rorting.

    Clarence Valley Council gave evidence at the re-opened inquiry on 1 August and the only question of interest to the water raiders came after a few minutes of questioning at Page 26 of the Lismore public hearing transcript:

    The Hon. GREG PEARCE: Thank you for your submission. In your submission you talk about this idea of diversion of the Clarence River to west of the Great Dividing Range. Could you give us a bit of a background on that proposal and what your council thinks about it?

    Mr ANDERSON: I will start but Mr Mashiah might finish. Our council has resolved six times that they do not support the diversion of the Clarence, and each time that has been unanimous in regard to council's position. That is based on the fact that damage to the environment and the ecological systems that work within the Clarence River emerge from there. 

    The CHAIR [Robert Brown MLC, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party]: You probably cannot answer this, but that is an all-encompassing position of council?

    Mr ANDERSON: Yes.

    The CHAIR : I wonder what the council's position would be on the diversion of floodwaters only.

    Mr ANDERSON: Again, Mr Chair, like you said, I cannot answer that question.

    The CHAIR: What I am asking you is that I guess the council's resolutions were not burrowed down to that extent to be able to answer that question. We might ask Clarence council for an opinion on that.

    The Hon. GREG PEARCE: Are those decisions supported by an independent side to pick advice? How were they derived?

    Mr MASHIAH: There was a Healthy Rivers Commission inquiry into the Clarence in I think it was 1999, from memory, and part of the outcome of that commission inquiry was the importance of regular flood events in terms of the fishing industry and also the cane industry. I believe you have representatives from the cane industry here with us later.

    The CHAIR: This afternoon, yes.

    Mr MASHIAH: And also in terms of fisheries, one of the aspects that Clarence Valley Council has been active in for the past 20 years is trying to manage the floodplain to address issues such as acid runoff.

    The CHAIR: Solid sulfate soils.

    Mr MASHIAH: As the sulfate soils and particular acids run off. So we have done things like open floodgates and—

    The CHAIR: And you should be congratulated.

    Mr MASHIAH: Thank you, Mr Chair, for that. I will pass that on to the relevant staff who have been coordinating that. The regular flushing of those areas, which are fish breeding grounds, by floodwaters is very important. So if floods were diverted there are significant concerns from the fishing industry about the ongoing viability of the industry because the grounds where fish breed, according to the studies that have been undertaken, would then be adversely impacted. So that is one of the reasons that the fishing industry has very strongly opposed, through our estuary management committee in particular and through the estuary management plan, any diversion of water and we have tried to ensure that the fish breeding grounds are protected.

    The CHAIR: I just made the observation that most of those fish breeding grounds would not be the same areas of land that are subject to high residential development or business or commercial or other aspects. In other words, you are not talking about the township of Grafton itself, you are talking river peripheries, flooded-out areas, for breeding concerns?

    Mr MASHIAH: The challenge is that the urban footprint on the lower Clarence floodplain is probably about 1 to 2 per cent of the total surface area and all the urban areas are surrounded by rural areas. So it is very hard to work out how you manage that 1 or 2 per cent without adversely impacting the other 98 per cent, or vice versa, how do you manage the 98 per cent without adversely impacting 1 or 2 per cent of urban area?

    The CHAIR: The 2013 flood, you have described it as a major flood, correct?

    Mr MASHIAH: It was the flood of record at Grafton.

    The CHAIR: I am wondering how the 2013 flood would have enhanced the fishery on the Clarence?

    Mr MASHIAH: The main issue with the 2013 flood—I guess with any flood in the Clarence the flood behaviour in the upper river is a lot different to the flood behaviour in the lower river because of the tidal influences in particular and also how wet the floodplain is already. The 2013 event was actually three floods.

    The CHAIR: And they rolled up on each other?

    Mr MASHIAH: Yes, within a three-week period—quite distinct flood events.

    The CHAIR: So it was a prolonged flood.

    Mr MASHIAH: It was a prolonged flood and that meant there was significant inundation of back swamp areas, and I understand that there were some areas that effectively were areas that were flushed that had not been flushed in floods probably since 2001, so it is probably 12 years. So from an ecological perspective, talking to our environmental scientists, I understand that it was actually quite beneficial because the bigger floods only get into those areas once every 10 to 20 years.

    The CHAIR: Were there any concurrent blackwater events for the fishery?

    Mr MASHIAH: Not that I can recall, and I think that is a result of the management measures that have been undertaken on the floodplain because most of the farmers now operate the floodgates and so only shut the floodgates when there is actually a flood coming and open them fairly soon afterwards.

    The CHAIR: So it is their responsibility to operate their own floodgates, is it?

    Mr MASHIAH: That has been passed on to them, yes.

    The CHAIR: Do you have any oversight of that?

    Mr ANDERSON: Yes, we do, and we work with those groups and undertake training et cetera . It is a two-way street of communication: they tell us what they need and, vice versa, we provide training associated with that and inductions and operate that through a number of committees et cetera as well.

    Evidence was also given by the NSW Professional Fishermen’s Association (commencing Page 38) the NSW Canegrowers Association (commencing Page 45) and the Clarence Environment Centre (commencing Page 56).


    One has to wonder why the committee members of this reformed Water Augmentation Inquiry didn't seek the views of those holding Native Title (See Yaegl People #1 Yaegl People #2) over the Clarence River from the waters approximately half-way between Ulmarra and Brushgrove right down to the eastern extremities of the northern and southern breakwater walls at the mouth of the river.

    After all they are significant stakeholders in any discussion of water policy and water management in the Clarence River catchment area.

    The other matter of note, arising from North Coast Voices somewhat belated discovery that the water raiders were back on the scene, is the suggestion that not all Clarence Valley councillors had forewarning that council staff were appearing before the inquiry on 1 August.

    If true this would be a disturbing indication that council administration has retained some of the bad habits it acquired under the former general manager who was handed his hat in March this year.


              Video Vancouver: Stand up for Public Space        
    Via UN-Habitat: In this lecture, Luisa Bravo, president of City Space Architecture, advocates for that public space in cities is a common good, meant to be open, inclusive and democratic — a right for everybody. The lecture addresses the following issues: top-down approach vs bottom-up practices in the contemporary age architecture/architects and urban design/designers as open-minded […]
              A crisis on the horizon for Zimbabwe?        

    The crises that are on the horizon for the Zimbabwean people seem much more urgent than any planned electoral process, and it is hard to see how the country can keep functioning until 2018 when the next election is scheduled. The death of Mugabe or a popular uprising seem more likely catalysts for a change in government – we can only hope that either of those pass with minimal violence and usher in a more democratic and responsible successor.

    The post A crisis on the horizon for Zimbabwe? appeared first on Peace Direct.


              In Defense of Economic Noninterventionism         

    A recent Wall Street Journal article has surprisingly good news: US companies are seeing the highest profit growth in two years with “two consecutive quarters of double-digit profit growth for the first time since 2011.” This surprisingly comes not from policies pursued in Washington, but the hard work of the private sector.

    The fact that businesses and job creators can make such a phenomenal showing after years of regulatory uncertainty and continued political intervention reminds us of the power of the free market and that the best successes come from the work of the individuals, not collectivists in the public sector.

    Perhaps the best reminding of what the last eight years brought us was President Obama’s infamous 2012 campaign speech “If you've got a business, you didn't build that.” Throughout the course of his administration saw a creation of routine legislative and executive actions that were designed to both micromanage business and supposedly “create” jobs. Unfortunately, none of this had the intended success.

    Most prominently among the actions from the executive administration while Obama was presidents include significantly increased regulations. Among these have included the Waters of the United States Rule (WOTUS), Dodd-Frank, the stimulus package, and, most spectacularly of all, Obamacare. All of these added a large interventions and onerous barriers in the economy that failed to achieve their stated goal.

    WOTUS was probably one of the greatest power grabs by the EPA in recent history. The rule essentially sought to define “navigable waters” in the clean water Act which “brought nearly half of Alaska and a total area in the lower 48 states equivalent to the size of California under the CWA’s jurisdiction.” The proposal, had it not been blocked and rescinded, would have cost thousands of dollars for permits on land that was not previously under the EPA’s jurisdiction, delayed production since a permit can take up to months, and this would have resulted in reduced development and production as well as higher prices.

    Though the WOTUS rule was not fully implemented, regulations that did have a massive negative impact on the economy include the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

    As implemented, Dodd-Frank imposed various new regulations on the financial sector, including creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), designated firms as systemically important financial institutions (SIFIs), and instituted price controls on debit and credit card transactions. The result was a climate of over regulation with banks being incentivized to become as large as possible in the hopes of being bailed out while the CFPB became a revolving door for lobbyists and influence peddlers to regulate the market with little to no oversight.

    Unsurprisingly, one fifth of the banks in the U.S. banks, totalling 1,708, went under between the law’s creation and 2016, which is about one per day, and by 2015 five large banks controlled 50 percent of the banking industry.

    Outside of simple regulation, there was also so called “jobs creations” programs that were supposed to create jobs the President did not think businesses could such as the stimulus package. The program was sold as a job creation plan that would keep unemployment below 8 percent for the low price of $830 billion.

    The next four years were marked by above 8 percent unemployment while the money ended up being wasted on worthless projects, including trees in wealthy neighborhoods, a study of erectile dysfunction, and the failed company solyndra which was run by a bundler for the Obama campaign. To make matters worse, though unemployment eventually went down long after the stimulus’s implementation, the labor participation rate reached its lowest in 38 years which shows that people still weren’t working.

    However, the crowned jewel of overregulation and job destruction during the Obama administration was ObamaCare. Implemented to expand health insurance coverage, it has repeatedly failed to reach its goals as premiums went up, enrollment failed to reach its projections, and the legislation gave corporate welfare (including promised bailouts) to the insurance lobby. In the end, most of the coops failed and major companies pulled out of the exchanges, resulting in 1,000 counties, including five whole states, only having one insurer, a major failure in the goal of expanded coverage.

    Inevitably, the phenomenal intervention in the economy by President Obama failed to achieve the job creation while it instead made made doing business that much harder. With record breaking numbers of regulations, Obama was the first President since the Great Depression to never see 3 percent GDP growth.

    The Trump administration in the meantime has pursued a different approach than its predecessor. The Trump administration has seen sixteen regulations cut for every one it has created, had signed four resolutions of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to overturn regulation within two months as President, and rolled back the clean power plan which could have cost $40 billion per year. All of this marks a significant change in policy that will greatly open up business opportunities and expand economic growth.

    However, policy alone does not explain why there has been high profit growth for the last two quarters. As the Wall Street Journal article admits, health care legislation and tax reform have been stalled in the senate. This has caused a climate of uncertainty which businesses have not been happy with.

    Nevertheless, they have instead moved on from Washington and instead remained focused on doing business. Political events seem to have taken a backseat to actual business as the number of S&P 500 companies have mentioned the President or his administration during conferences is down by a third as the research firm Sentieo found out. To be blunt, the involvement of Washington and government policy is not driving the current profit growth and the lack of involvement may actually be increasing it.

    For a better example of how reduced involvement can improve the economy, look no further than the Depression of 1920. At the time, war time debt had exploded, unemployment peaked at 11.7 percent in 1921, and inflation rates jumped above twenty percent. It had the potential to be even more catastrophic than the Great Depression that started in 1929.

    However, the policies pursued were entirely different. The federal budget was severely reduced from $18.5 billion in FY 1919 to $3.3 billion for FY 1922. Taxes at the same time were cut by about 40 percent.

    As a result, unemployment dropped to 2.3 percent by 1923 and a crisis had been averted. This was accomplished not by bailouts and and overregulation but by getting the government entirely out of the way. This is a radically different approach than was pursued during the financial panic of 2008 or even the Great Depression.

    Overall, there has been a repeated belief that government involvement has made economic advancement harder. As was stated by former President Reagan, “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” President Kennedy noted the same when he said “Our tax system still siphons out of the private economy too large a share of personal and business purchasing power and reduces the incentive for risk, investment and effort — thereby aborting our recoveries and stifling our national growth rate.”

    It should come as no surprise then that business are fully prepared to run their own affairs and is best capable to address its own need, for as JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon noted, “We’ve been growing at 1.5% to 2%...because the American business sector is powerful and strong and is going to grow regardless.”

    It remains the desire of others that the government should intervene in the economy to make improvements. However, this has always resulted in guaranteed failure. Be it raising the minimum wage in Seattle or increased taxation and regulations in Connecticut, the result is usually lackluster growth and decreased jobs. At the national level, Venezuela’s nationalization and China’s increased infrastructure projects have created the same results, which is to say none.

    As history and current events have shown time and time again, the best results come not from government involvement and micromanagement, but from the hard work of free individuals in free markets. More and more, the adaptability of businesses to their consumer’s demands and their ability to whether adversity in the marketplace has always been more efficient than the micromanagement the state perceives. As a result, sometimes the best thing to do is to have the government do nothing so that those who can make the economy better will.


              Don't Bring Back Glass-Steagall        

    An issue that has a tendency to come into the public consciousness from time to time is bringing back Glass-Steagall. Initially repealed in 1999 by the Financial Services Modernization Act, primarily known as the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act, the law that separated commercial and investment banking has received renewed support with both party platforms during last year’s presidential election calling for it to be reinstated.

    There may be good intentions behind this desire, but the belief that the law would reduce recessions or prevent banks from becoming “too big to fail” is at best misguided and unnecessary while at worst it will cause unforeseen problems for the financial system.

    As stated above, Glass-Steagall is a law that requires a separation between commercial and investment banking in the financial sector. It was instituted in the 1930s during the great depression by Sen. Carter Glass (D-Va.) and Rep. Henry Steagall (D-Ala.) in the hopes that it would prevent banks from making risky decisions in the market. At the time, “more than 600 banks failed each year between 1921 and 1929,” so there was a serious desire to curb that.

    However, from the 1960s onward, the legislation faced erosion with congressional legislation and the Supreme Court rulings changing key sections of the bill, including reducing limitations on security purchases, the abolition of interest caps, and increased deference to regulatory agencies for the legislation. The most prominent and controversial change to the legislation came from the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which repealed sections 20 and 32 of the legislation.

    To be clear, it did not eliminate many security limitations put on banks, but it did eliminate several restrictions by “allow[ing] for affiliations between commercial banks and firms engaged principally in securities underwriting, as well as interlocking management and employee relationships between banks and securities firms.”

    Such a move has received heavy criticism since Democratic President Bill Clinton signed it into law. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has held the repeal and alleged deregulation of the financial sector as responsible for the 2008 recession. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has also stated, “Since core provisions of the Glass-Steagall Act were repealed in 1999, a culture of excessive risk-taking has taken root in the banking world, placing the financial security of millions of hardworking American taxpayers at risk.”

    Unfortunately, there are certain problems with the narrative that deregulation and the repeal of Glass-Steagall specifically caused the recession. First off, there is no history of deregulation in the past two decades in the financial sector. As was noted by the Mercatus Center, the number of banking regulations actually consistently grew between 1999 and 2008 despite the Glass-Steagall repeal which puts a major hole in the deregulation narrative.

    With that in mind, the Glass-Steagall legislation itself had very little to do with the 2008 financial recession. However, many of the institutions that had failed were not actually affected by the legislation period. Also, most of the institutions that did fail either received government incentives to provide risky loans (especially in providing housing loans to people who could not afford them), were still heavily regulated, and received guidelines or incentives from the central government for those risky loans.

    In addition, there is also evidence that Glass-Steagall did not reduce the banking failures during the depression which it was allegedly supposed to address. For an example, Canada did not pass a Glass-Steagall law during the recession despite facing similar issues to the US. Overall, Canada saw its GDP fall by 40 percent between 1929 and 1939, but not a single bank failed during the depression years and its banking system remained mostly intact.

    Another important point to keep in mind is that Glass-Steagall barely impacted the failing banks. Most of the banks that were failing were smaller in nature and had trouble diversifying due to government regulation. The banks that Glass-Steagall would have impacted were not the ones going under. In the end, Glass-Steagall would barely have the impact its proponents claim it would.

    Beyond that, the most replacing Glass-Steagall could do is stifle the banking industry. Some economists have speculated that the repeal softened the blow because it allowed more diversification of the market. Since less diversified firms made up for a larger number of failures during the 2008 financial crisis and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco credited diversification with being the reason Canada did not face bank failures during the depression, this does provide evidence that may have been a possibility.

    At the same time, the increased diversification has allowed more opportunities. Economists Jeffrey Rogers Hummel and Warren Gibson noted that banks like Wells Fargo and discount broker Charles Schwab opened up more services and opportunities for their customers at lower prices while former Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Illi.) noted that it would limit liquidity and make it harder to buy and sale assets. Overall, the unproven benefits of the legislation seem to not be worth the potential cost.

    This may seem surprising, but the US was the only country in the industrialized world to separate investment and commercial banking. The desire remains to prevent the creation of banks that are “too big to fail” but it seems to have largely failed to address that and has prevented useful diversification. Bringing it back will not prevent another crisis nor prevent banks from going under.


              Capitol Hill Update: July 24, 2017        

    Schedule:

    The House and Senate are in session this week.

    There are five (5) legislative days remaining for the House before the August recess and 53 legislative days remaining in the year. The Senate will supposedly work through the first two weeks of the August recess.

    House:

    The FY 2018 budget resolution, dubbed "Building a Better America," was marked up and approved by the Budget Committee on Thursday in a party-line vote. The budget would reduce the budget deficit by $6.5 trillion over the ten-year budget window and eventually come into balance in FY 2027, creating a $9 billion surplus.

    Perhaps one of the most important components of the budget is that it begins the reconciliation process for fundamental tax reform. There are also reconciliation instructions for 11 House committees to find roughly $200 billion savings or reforms in mandatory spending.

    The FY 2018 budget resolution isn't on the calendar for the week. It's unclear if House Republican leaders will bring it to the floor.

    Additionally, the 21st Century Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act, H.R. 2997, introduced by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) could come to the floor for a vote this week. The bill reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and reforms the United States' out of date air traffic control (ATC) system. FreedomWorks has released a key vote in support of the 21st AIRR Act.

    On Monday, the House will consider 17 bills on the suspension calendar. Most of the bills on the suspension calendar related to veterans or active military issues. There are three bills on the suspension calendar that relate to small businesses and investment. The House will also consider the Intelligence Authorization Act, H.R. 3180, sponsored by Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) on suspension.

    There are three bills on the suspension calendar for Tuesday, including the Medicare Part B Improvement Act, H.R. 3178, sponsored by Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas), and a yet-to-be-numbered resolution that will impose sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea.

    The House will also consider H.J.Res. 111, a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act, to cancel the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) giveaway to trial lawyers. The rule put restrictions on the use of arbitration to settle disputes over consumer products. This would lead to more class-action lawsuits, benefiting trial lawyers and hurting consumers. FreedomWorks has signed a coalition letter in support of H.J.Res. 111 and will likely include the vote on our 2017 Congressional Scorecard.

    For the balance of the week, the House will consider at least four more bills on the suspension calendar. The Make America Secure Appropriations Act, H.R. 3219, will also come to the floor. This is the consolidated appropriations bill, or "minibus," for the Department of Defense, the Legislative Branch, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Energy and Water. Like virtually every other bill to come to the floor this year under "regular order," the Make America Secure Appropriations Act is subject to a rule to limit or prevent amendments from the floor.

    On Thursday at 10:00 am, the Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing entitled "The Need for the Balanced Budget Amendment." The witness list for the hearing has not yet been announced. Twelve constitutional amendments have been introduced in the House that would require a balanced budget. Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) is the sponsor of two of them, H.J.Res. 1 and H.J.Res. 2. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), the primary sponsor of H.J.Res. 15, is among the House conservatives who have introduced a balanced budget amendment.

    The committee and subcommittee schedule for the week can be found here.

    Senate:

    Presumably, the Senate will vote this week on the motion to proceed to the House-passed version of H.R. 1628. It's still unclear on what happens next. A vote to proceed to the House-passed version has always been the first step. The next step will be for an amendment to the bill that will substitute the language of either the Better Care Reconciliation Act or language similar to the 2015 ObamaCare repeal bill, now called the ObamaCare Repeal Reconciliation Act. FreedomWorks' key vote on the motion to proceed applies only if the base text that will be substituted is similar to the 2015 ObamaCare repeal bill.

    At least a few Senate Republicans have backed away from their votes for the 2015 ObamaCare repeal bill, which was passed in December 2015 with the support of all but two Republicans, including Sen. Susan Collins. Moderate Republicans who refuse to vote for the 2015 ObamaCare repeal bill have demanded $200 billion in Medicaid funding offered by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to get them to support the Better Care Reconciliation Act.

    Some parts of the Better Care Reconciliation Act are in limbo, however, as the Senate parliamentarian has apparently ruled that provisions limiting funding for Planned Parenthood and tax credits for plans that cover abortion will require 60 votes. Other provisions that may require 60 votes include the State Innovation Waivers. Many of these provisions can be altered to make them withstand a Byrd rule challenge, as was done in 2015.

    The Senate still has several nominees to consider and, on the legislative front, the FDA Reauthorization Act, S. 934; the National Defense Reauthorization Act; and the debt ceiling are among the items awaiting action.

    Separately, Senate Democrats are rolling out their "better deal" economic agenda today, which is a rehashing and repackaging of virtually every leftist policy proposal in recent years. The agenda is Democrats' attempt to find a message after a string of special election losses around the country.

    The full committee schedule for the week can be found here.


              Preserving Taxpayers’ Rights Act (H.R. 3220) Slashes IRS Waste        

    With Republicans controlling every branch of government, eliminating Internal Revenue Service (IRS) inefficiencies should be a no-brainer. Rep. Jason Smith’s (R-MO) Preserving Taxpayers’ Rights Act, H.R. 3220, will do just that. This bill eliminates wasteful tactics used in IRS audits and evaluations of tax disputes.

    When the IRS notices a discrepancy between an individual’s reported income and information from third parties, it issues a notice of deficiency. A notice of deficiency indicates that the taxpayer has 90 days to either agree to a proposed increase in tax liability or appeal to resolve the discrepancy by providing previously unreported information. Far too often, appeals processes are funneled into Tax Courts rather than the IRS’s own Office of Appeals established for this precise purpose. Litigation burdens both taxpayers and the IRS with unnecessarily expensive procedures.

    H.R. 3220 eliminates this tautology by establishing a legal right to have disputes heard by the IRS Office of Appeals before litigation is considered. It also creates stricter criteria for the IRS to designate cases for litigation, permitting only those involving recurrent legal abuses that impact many taxpayers, not just individual income disputes.

    Another wasteful practice fixed by this bill is the use of designated summons during corporate tax audits. A designated summons forces a corporation, or relevant parties, to appear before court and provide information. When ordered, a designated summons unilaterally and indefinitely suspends an audit process. Sometimes, the IRS uses these summonses to compel information from a corporation without evidence of wrongdoing or noncompliance. An indefinitely suspended audit process can last for years. Under H.R. 3220, the IRS will only authorize designated summonses when a corporation is notably noncompliant.

    Lastly, H.R. 3220 prevents the IRS from hiring outside lawyers to conduct or take testimony in a tax audit. The IRS has its own staff of government tax law attorneys for this purpose. One of the promises of the IRS Office of Appeals for deficiencies and audits is an objective and unbiased process. This is not possible when private firms, which have their own interests and clients, handle information explicitly intended for the government. H.R. 3220 rectifies this potential privacy breach.

    The Preserving Taxpayers’ Rights Act is a necessary reform that eliminates government waste, defends taxpayers’ legal rights, and protects privacy. There’s no justifiable reason to oppose any of these objectives, which is why a bipartisan group of cosponsors joined Rep. Smith in introducing this bill, four Democrats and three Republicans. If members of Congress support efficiency and accountability, they must support this bill.


              a caldo        
    Aggiornamento delle 18:30:

    Merda secca.
    Saran cazzi amari (per "noi" e per l'Italia con molteplici significati).


    Ore 15:30:
    qualche osservazione precaria e banale:
    • la , con il suo federalismo fiscale, raccoglie molti voti; tanta ma tanta gente ha più a cuore i soldi della decenza, tant'è che non sembra risentire né delle pagliacciate tipo Pontida, né dello stile da ... mah... non vorrei offendere nessuno...
    • , con la chiamata all'astensionismo, ha ottenuto qualche risultato (3/3.5%? difficile dirlo, l'affluenza sembra molto vicina a quella del 2001 dopotutto); ma nonostante Grillo, i rifiuti ed il "porcellum" l'affluenza non è male; resta difficilmente quantificabile il peso elettorale di Grillo, che faceva cosa gradita a candidarsi (e rischiare la trombata)
    • molti elettori di sinistra han votato il per paura di , ma pure molti elettori di destra han votato il per paura di (o schifati dall'orrendo labbro della );
    • la ne esce con le ossa rotte, siamo ben lontani dal 2001 (8,9% in totale quando mancava la di Mussi) e dal 2006 (10,2% sempre senza SD); la mancata alleanza col PD li ha annichiliti, sicuramente con una alleanza avrebbero preso ben di più;
      • sarebbe davvero molto interessante capire quanti voti avrebbero portato se in coalizione col PD ma soprattutto quanti ne avrebbero rubati al PD e quanti avrebbero votato o Berlusconi se il PD si fosse alleato con la sinistra; fossi Veltroni un sondaggino su questa cosa lo commissionerei, soprattutto se - come sembra - c'è il rischio che con i voti della SA il PD avrebbe potuto governare;
    • altra cosa da notare, che fa un po' male, è che Berlusconi non sembra aver poi perso molto dalle sue ultime uscite: il suo tentativo di far fallire la trattativa per salvare , nonché la sua apologia al buon mafioso (), non hanno suscitato proteste popolari ed un suo disastro elettorale come ci si sarebbe aspettati da una sana democrazia; ah, già, la democrazia italiana non è sana...

    Ora resta da aspettare e capire quale sarà il peso ed il ruolo di Casini.
              il mio voto...        
    ovvero: perché il .

    Premessa: mi piace Mussi; non mi piace Bertinotti (men che meno Diliberto); Grillo mi ha rotto le palle; Veltroni mi puzza un poco...

    E allora perché voto ?

    Ci son vari motivi, li elenco in ordine sparso:
    • altrimenti vince ; so bene che votare sotto questo ricatto non è bello, ma visto che non ci posso far nulla, almeno evito che l'Italia diventi come lui vorrebbe:
      • politica estera filostatunitense;
      • sanità, istruzione e sistema previdenziale privati;
      • sistema giudiziario fuori uso;
      • ampio appoggio da parte della mafia e delle varie organizzazioni criminali;
      • antieuropeismo;
      • appoggio di Putin;
      • gestione casalinga della politica;
      • diminuzione delle tasse a scapito del bilancio dello Stato;
      • riduzione della spesa pubblica tramite tagli al welfare e riduzioni del bilancio tout-court in ogni settore statale, senza ridurre le spese reali ma solo i finanziamenti
      serve altro? non ci basta?

    • non è vero che il programma di Veltroni è uguale a quello di Berlusconi; l'ha ampiamente dimostrato Berlusconi in questi giorni con le sue uscite.
      E Berlusconi non è uno di quelli che fa una promessa pensando davvero di mantenerla, quindi il problema non si porrebbe proprio.

    • in quanto ad utopie e irrealismi il programma di Veltroni non è più astratto di quello della ; e la Sinistra Arcobaleno non rappresenta una forza credibile, capace di assumersi responsabilità di governo.
      Mi spiace per , che è una persona che mi piace molto, ma una forza nella quale uno dei leader () è pronto a dire "ritiriamoli tutti subito!" appena giunge la notizia del rapimento di due soldati italiani in Afghanistan non è una forza in grado di assumersi responsabilità. O dite che Diliberto ci sta per sbaglio.

    • l'astensione non rappresenta una alternativa; astenersi significa lasciare che Berlusconi vinca, significa garantirgli un nuovo mandato.
      Significa dire: "scusate, ma a me non piace nessuno, fate pure voi"; ed il "fate pure voi" è un invito a nozze. I politici, anche ammettendo che sian tutti delle merde, non son tutti uguali. C'è differenza tra il governo Prodi ed il governo Berlusconi. Se non l'avete vista mi chiedo dove stavate.


    Ieri sera son andato in piazza Maggiore a guardarmi Prodi che passava il testimone a Veltroni, e Veltroni che cercava di convincermi ad aver fiducia in lui. Ci è riuscito?
    Abbastanza, la diffidenza resta, ma lui è sempre meglio degli altri.
    Giorni fa invece mi ero visto (via internet) il comizio di a Bari (credo Bari...).
    Speravo mi desse una speranza, mi ha dato senso di asfittico.
    Ho voglia di vedere Veltroni ed il PD alla prova del fuoco al governo, voglio vedere come concretizzeranno il messaggio di unità ed innovazione.
    La SA non mi ha dato alcuna voglia di metterli alla prova.
    Gli altri invece mi fan proprio paura, ho l'impressione che questa volta l'Italia si stia giocando le chiappe...
              impegnandosi        
    Qui dicevo che stavo riorganizzando le mie idee. Non ho più continuato quello che avevo iniziato, ma oggi tiro qualche somma:

    1) ho preparato un pseudo-programma politico con propositi e idee divise in 17 (azz...) questioni fondamentali. Devo rivederle e i punti cresceranno, ma è stato un bel esercizio. Forse qualche punto lo pubblicherò
    2) ho finalmente ascoltato il discorso della fondazione di Sinistra Democratica per il Socialismo Europeo di Mussi; gran bel discorso, la prima parte la trovate qui, buona visione. Sto seguendo il loro sito, il discorso mi ha convinto, ora resta da capire se non mi stia illudendo.

    Ho il timore di aver trovato in SD l'ultimo appiglio; dico "timore" perché ho visto che subito tutte le energie sono state impegnate nell'avvicinamento verso PRC e PdCI; le alternative sono due:
    o Sinistra Democratica, come disse Mussi, vuol diventare una forza "di governo", oppure scelga ed insegua la fusione con la sinistra "radicale"; le due cose, per me, sono incompatibili.

    E no, nella costituente socialista con Bobo Craxi e soprattutto con De Michelis NON ci vado.

    Technorati tag: , ,
              primarie        
    dunque dunque...
    domenica, da bravo, son andato a votare alle Primarie; tanta perplessità e l'idea di lasciare la scheda bianca per le nazionali.
    L'unica cosa che mi tirava su era la notizia che un mio conoscente giovane e molto in gamba era capolista per l'assemblea regionale con Letta (che tra le varie mi è sembrato quello più votabile, scelto sempre "per scarto"). Non sapevo molto altro perché col poco tempo e la poca informazione anche per me queste Primarie erano una nebulosa.

    Arrivo al seggio (salto la pietosa assistenza ad un anziano smarrito)
    mi accosto al foglio riepilogativo delle due schede e... sorpresa, 3 liste per Veltroni (tutte molto diverse) e mancano Adinolfi e Gawronski.
    Un tizio mi attacca un bottone, scandalizzato della cosa (non capisco se è un provocatore, un giornalista, un sincero scandalizzato), poi se ne va. Io sono effettivamente spiazzato.
    Nella lista "ggiovane" per Veltroni ci sono nomi che conosco e che non mi sarei mai aspettato lì, non in quella colonna.
    Del mio amico nemmeno l'ombra... (oggi so che era nell'altro collegio di Padova ed è stato eletto all'assemblea regionale, gli auguro buona fortuna e buon lavoro).
    Mogio mogio mi metto in fila e quindi voto: nella scheda blu, quella per l'assemblea nazionale, lascio un bel bianco. Non me la sento di far altro. Spero venga conteggiata come una insoddisfazione, illusissimo.
    Per le regionali voto Letta.

    Risultato scontatissimo (e quindi non così entusiasmante). E non vedo la voce "astenuti"... scoprirò (oggi) che la voce astenuti esiste ma non è conteggiata ai fini delle percentuali; morale, non sono considerati, e anche se son pochi dovrebbero esserlo.

    Ed oggi? oggi, con poche (e non buone) idee su che ne sarà del PD, mi guardo attorno cercando dove "dare una mano". Ho voglia di impegnarmi di più, ho voglia di sporcarmici le mani. Ma son schizzinoso, e sarà dura trovare qualcosa nel quale possa entrare senza compromessi (che non mi vanno).

    Technorati tag: , ,
              MERCADO MOTOCICLÍSTICO        
    Nº262 ANECRA Maio 2007
    Nº67 MOTO REPORT Julho 2007 (com autorização)
    O mercado dos motociclos, quando encarado sobre uma perspectiva global, surge como um aliado natural de toda a indústria automóvel e não como um concorrente desse mesmo sector. Veja-se o caso dos fabricantes que constroem, simultaneamente, carros e motos. O exemplo é auto-explicativo. Do ponto de vista do consumidor, estes dois produtos finais (o automóvel e o motociclo) são, na maioria das vezes, bens complementares. Hoje em dia, as necessidades profissionais, familiares e recreativas podem, perfeitamente, apelar à coexistência pacífica destes dois tipos de veículos. O que nos confirma de sobremaneira a conclusão antecipada de início. Perante esta constatação de facto, optámos por efectuar uma análise ao mercado desde 1999 (o ano do “boom” nas vendas) até ao ano transacto. Convidamo-lo, então, a tomar o pulso a este ramo de actividade, que já conheceu melhores dias, mas que, com uma aposta consciente de todos os seus intervenientes (directos e indirectos), poderá recuperar o ritmo outrora alcançado. Assim todos saibam investir, promover, gerir, legislar, fiscalizar e apoiar.

    Situação Económica Nacional
    A Economia Internacional lida, actualmente, com a escalada do preço do petróleo nos mercados internacionais. Uma situação que vem sendo recorrente desde a década passada. Em rigor, questões por resolver, como sejam a do Iraque ou a da ameaça – algo dissimulada, porém omnipresente – do Irão ou, até mesmo, da Coreia, continuam a ter repercussões nefastas na economia global. Os barões da indústria de extracção e transformação do crude encontram nestes pretextos - mais até do que na própria escassez do produto - excelentes formas de exercer especulação, com consequências a nível mundial e que todos nós percepcionamos diariamente. Por outro lado, a concorrência de economias em crescimento, como sejam a chinesa ou a dos países do leste europeu, faz-se sentir veementemente. Estes países são – devido a conjunturas várias – altamente competitivos e, nos últimos anos, têm penetrado com eficácia e também com eficiência nos domínios da cultura, da sociedade e, principalmente, da economia europeia. A União Europeia (UE) apresenta uma subida constante do PIB, com excepção feita a 2005, e esta tendência de crescimento cimentou-se num efectivo aumento do consumo privado, coadjuvado pela redução drástica da despesa pública. A taxa de inflação ficou-se pelos 2,2%, em 2005, e, no mesmo ano, o desemprego atingiu os 8,6%. Por contraponto, os EUA apresentam 3,4% e 5,1%, respectivamente. O PIB americano manifesta tendência análoga à europeia, ocorrendo, inclusivamente, o mesmo fenómeno de redução da despesa pública e reforço do consumo privado. A Economia Nacional tem demonstrado grande dificuldade em resistir à negativa conjuntura internacional. Por ser pequena e aberta, torna-se naturalmente permeável ao contexto externo. Deste modo, o PIB, no período em análise, apresentou um crescimento global de cerca de 20%. Contudo, o investimento exibiu um decréscimo significativo (a rondar os 5%). O consumo, esse sim, aumentou avidamente, sendo que a taxa de crescimento se cifrou nos 25% para o sector privado e nos 30% para o sector público. Perante estes indicadores, é possível inferir que o recurso à banca foi o agente eleito para acelerar o consumo, já que o investimento decresceu e o PIB não acompanhou a evolução da despesa. Portugal continua também com as importações a terem um peso superior ao das exportações, sendo que 2003 foi o ano onde a diferença mais se esbateu. Já o Investimento no Estrangeiro conheceu uma drástica diminuição (para menos de metade). Igual tendência para o desinvestimento tem acontecido em relação às decisões do estrangeiro em investir em Portugal. Todavia, a taxa de decréscimo ficou-se pelos 10% O saldo da Balança Corrente é negativo, com agravamento desde 2003. A Dívida Pública apresenta um crescimento sustentado, a par da Taxa de Desemprego. E o mercado de trabalho é precisamente um reflexo de tudo o que para trás foi enunciado. Para clarificar este ponto, refira-se que o número de desempregados, em 2005, era o dobro do que havia em 2000. Evidentemente que este fenómeno, para além do flagelo social que dissemina, gera também uma sobrecarga ao nível da despesa pública por via do dispêndio de verbas por parte da Segurança Social. O que, em abono da verdade, contribui negativamente para cumprir o Pacto de Estabilidade e Crescimento. Já a Inflação apresenta oscilações entre o crescimento e o seu inverso. Até 2002 a tendência foi para o aumento do indicador, e daí para cá veio paulatinamente a reduzir, estimando-se que para 2006 o valor a apurar comute a orientação. Conclui-se, portanto, que as reformas levadas a cabo pelo Governo com o intuito de conter os custos, e que passam por uma racionalização da despesa pública, levarão o seu tempo a produzir os efeitos esperados. Até lá, Portugal é um país deprimido, envolto num pessimismo generalizado, e profundamente descrente da tão desejada retoma.

    Evolução das Vendas de MOTOCICLOS em Portugal
    O ano de 1999 permanece, até à data, como um marco muito positivo em termos de vendas de motos. Desde então, o número de matrículas novas tem vindo a decrescer. Esta tendência manteve-se até 2003, sendo que, no ano seguinte, ocorreu uma tímida recuperação. Os anos de 2006 e 2005 foram sinónimo de altos e baixos, respectivamente, sendo que, e em suma, os últimos três anos apresentam valores muito próximos. O mês de Janeiro de 2007 destaca-se o do seu homólogo do ano anterior, com vendas totais superiores em 50%. A KEEWAY é o construtor que mais cresceu. Analisando os recordistas de vendas em Portugal, constatamos que, de entre os 10 primeiros, quatro fabricantes são europeus, outros tantos são nipónicos (historicamente as marcas mais comercializadas), um é norte-americano e outro é coreano. Neste ponto, surge um dos sinais mais evidentes: o emergente mercado de exportações do eixo Coreia - China. De um ano para o outro, a KEEWAY passou de nove para 490 motos, e, só em Janeiro de 2007, vendeu quase 25% do volume atingido em 2006. Esta categoria está relacionada com as motos, ainda que tangencialmente. Vejamos o que nos diz o n.º4 do artigo 107º do Código da Estrada: «Quadriciclo é o veículo dotado de quatro rodas, classificando-se em: Ligeiro: veículo com velocidade máxima, em patamar e por construção, não superior a 45 km/h, cuja massa sem carga não exceda 350 Kg, excluída a massa das baterias no veículo eléctrico e com motor de cilindrada não superior a 50 cm3, no caso de motor de ignição comandada, ou cuja potência máxima não seja superior a 4 KW, no caso de outros motores de combustão interna ou de motor eléctrico; Pesado: veículo com motor de potência não superior a 15 KW e cuja massa sem carga, excluída a massa das baterias no caso de veículos eléctricos, não exceda 400 kg ou 550 kg, consoante se destine, respectivamente, ao transporte de passageiros ou de mercadorias.» Nesta classificação cabem os veículos de quatro rodas, que em tudo se assemelham a um automóvel, mas que podem ser conduzidos sem carta de condução – os “microcars” –, mas também os “moto4” que são parte integrante do catálogo de construtores de motos. Com esse fito, ao analisarmos a evolução de matrículas novas constatamos que a evolução é positiva até 2001, voltando-o novamente a ser depois de 2004. Aliás, note-se bem que de 2005 para 2006 o salto é de quase 36%. Indo de encontro ao detalhe dos registos, deparamo-nos com duas realidades que se aproximam. Se por um lado, os sete principais fornecedores de quadricilos são construtores de motos (logo são os “quads” a dominar esta categoria), quem, de facto, tem incrementado a taxa de crescimento das vendas é a indústria de quadriciclos “com capota”. O que desvirtua, em parte, este estudo, já que, em última instância, são viaturas com naturezas completamente distintas. Todavia, é claramente uma pista a ser seguida com toda a atenção.

    Distribuição do parque Segurado de MOTOCICLOS por Distritos
    Segundo os valores reportados pelas Seguradoras ao Instituto de Seguros de Portugal (Ministério das Finanças), esta contabilização manifesta tendência crescente, ainda que ligeira. Esta análise não manifesta, pois, correlação directa com as anteriormente apresentadas uma vez que:
    • Apenas são considerados os veículos com matrícula;
    • Apenas são considerados os veículos com seguro (código da empresa de seguro correcto);
    • Apenas são considerados os registos com data válida (AAAA-MM-DD);
    • Apenas são considerados os registos com data de início de seguro;
    • Nas circunstâncias em que existe mais do que um registo da mesma matrícula, apenas é considerado aquele cuja data de início é a mais recente (desde que inferior à data a que a informação se reporta);
    • Um registo apenas é considerado se a respectiva apólice se encontra em vigor na data a que diz respeito;
    • Todos os registos que se encontrem nas condições descritas, mas que não tenham devidamente preenchido o código de concelho e/ou o código de categoria. O ISP optou por considerá-los nas categorias “Desconhecido” e “Outros” respectivamente.

    Com a tabela seguinte podemos aquilatar a dispersão geográfica dos motociclos em Portugal. Há, logicamente, uma forte concentração junto dos grandes perímetros urbanos, sendo mais reduzida à medida que nos aproximamos de zonas eminentemente rurais. Porém, uma curiosidade: Faro é o distrito com mais motos por cada cem mil habitantes. O que lhe confere autoridade moral/nacional para realizar a maior concentração de motos da Europa. O distrito com menos motos per capita é Castelo Branco, logo seguido do Porto. Lisboa apresenta uma correspondência com a média verificada.

    Evolução do Mercado Europeu
    Na União Europeia (Europa dos 15), em sete anos, venderam-se perto de 8,5 milhões de motos, sendo que 2000 foi o melhor ano comercial. Em 2002, os valores bateram no fundo da tabela (tal como em Portugal), e daí para cá a evolução tem sido positiva. Ainda não estão disponíveis os dados 2006, mas crê-se que a tendência se terá mantido. Para a República Checa, Estónia e Lituânia, as taxas de crescimento são de três dígitos. Para os restantes países, os dados são esparsos e, por isso mesmo, inconclusivos. Refira-se, no entanto, que o primeiro deles aplica aos motociclos as menores cargas fiscais de toda a Europa, tendo inclusive, prémios de seguros com custos extremamente reduzidos (cerca de 10€). Não admira, pois, que se assista ao despontar da democratização deste produto naquele mercado. Em termos absolutos, a UE apresenta um conjunto de seis países que, por razões demográficas, mas também sócio-culturais, lideram o ranking de vendas de motociclos na região: Itália, Alemanha, França, Reino Unido, Espanha e Grécia. Excepção feita à Alemanha e à vizinha Espanha, todos os outros apresentaram evolução positiva entre o início e o fim do período em análise. Comparando a tendência da UE com Portugal, o auge das vendas ocorreu em 2000 (e não em 1999 como cá), tendo o volume global decrescido continuamente até 2002. A inversão de tendências acontece precisamente neste ponto. A partir de 2003, a UE inicia a recuperação e Portugal permanece em queda, abandonando a orientação do conjunto; circunstância que se deverá verificar até 2006 (apesar de, como já mencionado, os dados oficiais ainda não estarem disponíveis). A extinção da nossa indústria de motociclos, a própria mutação dos interesses pessoais dos consumidores, a falta de incentivos fiscais para aquisição e obtenção de licença de condução, e os sucessivos aumentos do IVA serão, genericamente, as razões que conduziram Portugal a este cenário marginal, quando comparado com o que acontece no restante continente europeu. Refira-se igualmente como causas as restrições legislativas, o desacompanhamento e despromoção do conceito e seus benefícios a nível institucional (poder político) e a insensibilidade das seguradoras, a par com as políticas comerciais brandas e pouco efectivas de fabricantes e importadores.

    Conclusão
    Perante a realidade em apreço, dois aspectos se nos afiguram evidentes: o sector está em crise e a China está a conquistar quota de mercado. A aposta chinesa não é na inovação nem na qualidade, mas, antes, na melhor relação qualidade/preço. Os seus produtos destinam-se ao segmento das motos de baixa cilindrada, onde a simplicidade mecânica e a estética parcimoniosa, aliadas a uma economia de escala com mão-de-obra barata, permitem reduzir drasticamente os custos de produção a favor de um preço final muito competitivo. Por outro lado, estes dados mostram-nos que no nosso país há uma vastíssima carteira de clientes interessada em motos com baixo custo de aquisição e manutenção. São as pessoas que necessitam de moto para, diariamente, se deslocarem dentro das cidades (onde o aumento da mobilidade e a poupança financeira são benefícios efectivos e imediatos). Ou que, a ser na província, as pessoas mais não precisam do que um veículo com motor até 250cc, para pequenos trajectos ao longo desse “Portugal Rural”. No fundo, esse é o nosso mercado tradicional.
    Sempre existiu, desde a época das fábricas de motorizadas no norte do país até aos nossos dias a adopção de medidas de incentivo – como aquela preconizada na directiva comunitária 125cc/Carta B, onde condutores de automóveis ligeiros estariam habilitados a conduzir motociclos até 125cc – poderiam deflagrar uma definitiva retoma do sector. Até porque, uma observação mais atenta do quotidiano revela-nos que não está a acontecer uma renovação da classe motociclista. Na prática, este grupo está, todos os anos, um ano mais velho. Não há uma nova geração a entrar no meio. Com a crise que se alastra no ramo, não são só os departamentos comerciais de revendedores e concessionários de motos que acabam por ser afectados. É-o toda uma indústria, desde os fabricantes de acessórios, vestuário e componentes mecânicos até aos serviços técnicos – quase sempre dependentes de um concessionário oficial ou revendedor. Quanto menor o número de unidades comercializadas, menor será o número de intervenções de reparação e manutenção a serem requisitadas. Pelo que, a não inversão da tendência de queda, irá deixar lentamente uma marca incómoda nos tecidos económico e social, pois não é só o plano macro-económico que perde o contributo deste sector, mas a própria micro-economia é posta à prova, seja através de mão-de-obra excedentária, ou de crédito malparado, ou até mesmo de processos de falência e contencioso. Sob um outro prisma, com a escalada do preço do petróleo, e com a necessidade de reduzir as emissões poluentes para a atmosfera, a utilização de motos como meio de transporte, sobretudo em centros urbanos, seria – à semelhança do que acontece pela Europa fora – uma opção natural com benefícios colectivos, longe de serem, de todo, despiciendos.
    © Todos os direitos do texto estão reservados para REVISTA ANECRA, uma publicação da ANECRA. Contacto para adquirir edições já publicadas: +351 21 392 90 30.
    © General Moto, by Hélder Dias da Silva 2008

              In the name of development        
    Teaser: 
    The indigenous community of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands has been systematically alienated from their land by the colonial and post-colonial policies. A new book chronicles the change.
    The forests and the tribal communities of the islands are being decimated. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

    Pankaj Sekhsaria’s recent book Islands in flux--The Andaman and Nicobar Story is a collection of around 20 years of his writings on the environmental and conservation concerns faced by the indigenous tribal communities of the region. Unlike his previous book, The last wave, a factual fiction adventure story dealing with love, longing and loss, this one is a collection of contemporary developments in the islands. The book is divided into seven parts and several chapters each dealing with the societal and ecological facets of the islands. Issues related to the environment, wildlife conservation and development policies that threaten the island’s indigenous communities have been chronicled by the author who is a long-time member of the NGO, Kalpavriksh.

    Alienation of islanders

    The book begins with the section, Setting the context, in which he writes about the history of the alienation of the island communities living there for over 40,000 years. The author takes a dig at the history writers of the modern democratic Indian state who have left gaping holes in their writings by not sudying the ancient indigenous communities--the Great Andamanese, the Onge, the Jarawa and the Sentinelese. It is here that the author mentions “if the real and complete history of the islands is ever written, the British would not be more than a page and India could only be a paragraph”.

    The indigenous people have been systematically alienated from their resources by the British colonial policies and the post-colonial development-oriented policies of India. The Britishers set up a penal colony in the islands in 1858, the Japanese occupied the islands during the World War II, and during the post colonial period, thousands of settlers from mainland India were brought to the island. Though the islanders put up a fierce fight to defend their territories, the social fabric of the island communities has been violently torn apart and their populations decimated while the settlers outnumbered the original inhabitants. The region is witness to nation building exercises, hinduisation of ‘uncivilized junglees’ and even an attempt to rename the islands. The author calls this as an attempt to “reclaim what was never yours”. No effort has been made by way of scholarship or historical studies to take the islanders’ point of view.

    Forestry is the chief source of revenue in cash in the islands but the system of forestry did not suit the region. The author quotes an official report by the Department of Environment, Government of India that argues that “the forestry system was leading to a preponderance of deciduous elements in the evergreen system that would eventually destroy the whole island ecosystem”. The carrying capacity of the islands has been long exceeded, the author says. Ill-conceived schemes like cattle rearing were introduced for a community that does not consume milk. Tourism is a concern in the islands which have been declared as ‘global biodiversity hotspot’.

    The pristine forests and the people living in the Jarawa tribal reserve that covers half the island is under threat because of the ill conceived Andaman Trunk Road that separates the reserve land from the rest of the island. The Jarawas for whom the forests have been a home for ages have been reduced to begging around the Trunk Road that runs through the reserve. The road has been controversial due to the negative fallouts on the island’s ecology and the indigenous people. The Supreme Court had in 2002 passed an order to close it; the island administration chose to ignore it. Its closure was absolutely critical to protect the Jarawa community, the author says.

    Islands turn colonies

    The author chronicles the colonising of the islands in a chapter of the same name and discusses how the settlers look down upon the indigenous communities. Tension continues between the tribal communities especially the ancient tribal community of Jarawas and the settlers over land rights and there is a lack of political will to ease this even as the population of the Jarawas has been reduced to a few hundreds. “There are opinions that the Jarawas should be assimilated into the modern world, but it is clear that it is exactly this contact with the outside world that is rapidly pushing them towards the brink,” the author states.

    In the chapter, A brief history of logging, Sekhsaria provides an account of the timber operations in the Andamans. He notes how as a part of India’s colonisation scheme, mainlanders were settled here. This was done to strengthen India’s claim over the islands. Incentives were offered to settlers by way of land and royalty free timber. Timber-based industry was promoted and liberal subsidies offered. Forests were exploited to benefit settlers who had little stake in the islands or its natural resources. Timber offered for millions decreased after the 2002 Supreme Court order. The order was in response to a petition by three NGOs to stop logging. The Supreme Court order that banned the cutting of naturally grown trees in the Andamans and Nicobar islands were welcomed by the environmental rights groups. But logging continued within the tribal reserve.

    In the section, Environment, ecology and development, the author stresses the need for evolving sensible conservation policies. The author discusses the consequences of introducing exotic species into the island systems. This has led to irretrievable loss of native species and ecosystems. “The Andaman and Nicobar islands are unsurpassed in their botanical wealth, and the ethnomedical knowledge of the tribals who live here is astounding,” he says.

    In the section, December 2004 and its aftermath, the author discusses the turmoil caused by the tsunami of December 26, 2004 which killed around 3500 people in the fragile Andaman and Nicobar islands, the worst hit area in India. The tectonic activity due to the third deadliest earthquake of the world in the last 100 years caused a significant shift in the islands’ geography with a permanent average uplift of four to six feet while parts of Nicobar islands went significantly under, with the southernmost tip, Indira point on Great Nicobar island going 15 ft down. Apart from dealing with how the tsunami destroyed the island, the section also highlights how the people picked up the pieces and started all over again.

    Leave them alone

    The tsunami waters inundated large areas of the islands causing damage to its coastal and marine ecology. In the aftermath of this turmoil, ecologists have suggested ‘no intervention’ and that ‘leaving areas alone should be the preferred management option’. A disturbing facet of the islands in recent times is its water scarcity. The islands have been facing severe water shortages even during the pre-tsunami period but this got worse after 2004. Fresh water sources got hit by the tsunami.

    Talking about the faulty development planning, the author discusses how the former president late Abdul Kalam in 2005 in the aftermath of the tsunami announced a grandiose vision for the development of the Andamans and Nicobar islands. This included ecologically perilous components like deep sea fishing, exploitation of bamboo, value-added coconut products and tourism.

    A central thread of Sekhsaria’s book has been the neglect and acculturation of the Jarawas, and their losing scuffle with the outsiders. The book presented in a journalistic manner handles the issue very sensitively and the author exhibits a keen understanding of the history of the indigenous people and its ecology.

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              Comment on GOP Viewpoint: Republican budget is a new direction by Michael Trahan        
    The Connecticut Senate Republican "No Tax Increase" budget proposal may move Connecticut in a new direction, but it certainly relies heavily on a utility customer bailout and revenue gimmicks to get there. nnLittle mention is made of Senate Republican's reach into the pockets of CT electric and gas utility customers to take $162 million in existing utility customer energy efficiency and renewable energy account money over the next two years. nnSenate Republicans plan to take another $52 million from a second account called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative that also funded by electric bill payers. That money is used to lower energy bills for oil customers. nnnnTogether, that's more than $200 million in new taxes in Senate Republican plan. nnThis is the kind of budget trickery that got us into the state budget mess in the first place. Senate Republicans were critical of taking utility customer money when Democrats tried this gimmick last year. Now this utility customer bailout is part of the Republican's new direction for CT.nn The Senate GOP plan impacts all Eversource or United Illuminating electric customers, and also customers from Connecticut Natural Gas, Connecticut Yankee or Southern Connecticut Gas.nnGoing outside the normal budget process and sweeping in off-budget account money paid for, and built by, utility customers to serve utility customers is short-sighted. To suggest to utility customers that using THEIR money to bail out state government is a good method for repairing CT's failing fiscal climate and that this raid on utility customers money is not really a tax in disguise is wrong.
              By: DickF        
    Josh, Great article! It goes along with something I posted about the 1996 deflation creating a crisis in infrastructure in oil producing equipment. The whole world - with the exception of the US, thank you Democrat congress - is expanding oil production as fast as it can yet there are still demand problems.
              SARAU MANDINGA : “Poesia no Bar”comemora sete anos        
    Nesta quinta pós 19h, “Sarau Mandinga – Especial Poesia no Bar” no espaço Ânima – Gonçalves Chaves 2.862. Entrada franca Por Carlos Cogoy Microfone aberto à participação. Textos democraticamente compartilhados.
              Racial Slurs and the Importance of Context        
    Ben Smith, whose coverage of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination deserves some sort of prize, posts an image that brought a grin to my face:


    Aside from the incongruity of Barack talking to two hasidic men, there is the use of the term in the headline ordinarily thought of as a racial slur: "schvartzer." Of course, the context here is entirely innocuous. "Schvartzer" is simply the yiddish term for black, and the headline is simply making a factual statement that Obama is the "first black presidential candidate."

    And context is everything.
              More Obama-Bashing        
    This is classic (emphasis all mine):
    Assemblyman Dov Hikind yesterday predicted that Jewish voters would make "a mass movement toward Sen. McCain" if Barack Obama knocks Hillary Rodham Clinton out of the race in tomorrow's critical Democratic primaries.

    Hikind, an Orthodox Jew whose Borough Park district includes the largest Hasidic bloc in the United States, blasted Obama for what he called his half-hearted support of Israel and his ties to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., who has repeatedly praised anti-Semitic Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who has endorsed Obama.

    Hikind, a Democrat who has yet to endorse a candidate for president, said Obama had not satisfactorily distanced himself from Wright, his Chicago-based personal pastor, noting, "This is a man who thinks Farrakhan is a great guy and God's gift to the world."

    Hikind went on, "Obama has said that you can be a supporter of Israel even if you're for giving up land to the Arabs, which is true - but for a guy running for president to take a position like this in advance of getting into office, combined with everything else going on in the Middle East, that scares the hell out of me.
    Huh? It "scares the hell" out of Hikind that Obama says you can support Israel and still be for giving up land for Israel? What world does he live in? Does he think Hillary Clinton feels otherwise?? Most US politicians would admit that any peaceful settlement would include some concession of land to the Palestinians. Does Hikind actually expect Mr. Obama to take a public position on the matter that is to the right of GWB's current position?? And then what? Flip-flop after the election to a position more in line with just about every other politician in the country?? That sounds like a super idea. And did Mr. Hikind somehow miss when Mr. Obama clearly rejected and denounced Mr. Farrakhan, and called him out for being an anti-Semite? That Mr. Hikind feels that Obama hasn't distanced himself enough from Rev. Wright, who is claimed to be close to Farrakhan, is no more than guilt by association. Is such association more or less damning than Mr. Hikind's past association with Meir Kahana's militant Jewish Defense League and various other controversial settler groups?

    I would guess Mr. Hikind is simply trying to do more of the same ignorant fearmongering about Obama that we have seen recently from other members of the Jewish community.
              Local Rabbi Has it in for Barack Obama        
    On the heels of one local Rabbi who made what can be misconstrued as an inappropriate comment regarding Barack Obama a few weeks back, another local Rabbi really went to town on the candidate in shul today. In a diatribe that, according to my unofficial polling, many congregants present found completely improper, he went off on Obama in a completely over-the-top fashion. The Rabbi criticized Obama's position Israel, and said he surrounds himself with Sonei Yisrael (haters of Jews) and Sonei Eretz Yisrael (haters of the land of Israel). The Rabbi compared Mr. Obama to Haman, to FDR (that people loved FDR too and didn't realize what a Rasha he would turn out to be), and in what should really just invoke Godwin's Law, he actually compared the man referred* to... Hitler himself (that people dismissed Hitler too as just being all talk).

    Now, I don't believe at all that Obama is anti-Israel. I just don't. Aside from these compelling arguments (I, II, III), I just refuse to believe that the candidate has ulterior motives regarding Israel based solely on a whisper campaign regarding false claims about Obama being Muslim - as opposed to on his good record on Israel issues. I had a conversation with a very intelligent and well-read family member who completely believed the forwarded e-mail she received that claimed that Obama is Muslim (false), was sworn into office on a Koran (false), and she even went so far as to call me out as being "naive" for not believing those claims, and for not seeing as clearly as she does that Obama is nothing more than a Trojan horse for terrorists. It was truly painful.

    But all things considered, not as painful as a religious leader making such claims from the pulpit in front of a captive shul-going audience. That's just plain wrong.

    *UPDATE: Edited to concede a valued commenter's point that it was not a direct comparison between Obama and Hitler, but a reference (though clearly a reference inviting a comparison).
              Expensive new trains on the Midland main line will be slower than the current diesels        

    You may recall that it was announced last month that plans to electrify the line from St Pancras to Sheffield have been scrapped.

    The line is currently electrified to Bedford. That will be extended to Kettering and Corby, but no further.

    Services to Leicester, Nottingham, Derby and Sheffield will be provided by new bi-mode trains that will take power from the overhead lines as far as Kettering and use diesel engines north of there.

    Then the other day there was this story from Chris Doidge, BBC Radio Derby's political reporter:
    BBC Radio Derby's learned that the government's decision to scrap the electrification of trains between Derby and London will mean slower journeys. 
    Three weeks ago, the government said its new bi-mode trains - that run on electric and diesel - would mean "quicker journey times", but now it's admitted that's not quite the whole story. 
    Journey times will reduce - because lines are being straightened and junctions improved. 
    The trains will actually be slower than the electric ones the government has scrapped.
    Today I met an old friend who knows far more about railways than I do. He explained why this may be the case.

    The overhead electrification from St Pancras to Bedford was erected to serve commuter trains not faster long-distance services.

    As a result, the maximum speed for trains using it is 100mph. So, unless a lot of money is spent to upgrade this electrification, that will be the maximum speed of the bi-mode trains using electric power on this section of the line,

    Yet the diesels currently providing the service can travel at up to 125mph.

    I suppose the bi-mode trains could use diesel power throughout, but then there is not much point paying extra for them.

    Mind you, as Chris Doidge went on to say:
    The group which represents rail operators says the bi-mode trains are heavier, less powerful and more expensive to buy, more expensive to maintain and more expensive to operate than their electric cousins.
    And that is not the bottom of this mess.

    As I said in my post when electrification to Sheffield was cancelled, a great deal of work has already been carried out along the line to raise bridges to make room for overhead wires.

    The Leicester Mercury has also reported this and quoted my old friend Simon Galton, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Leicestershire County Council:
    "We have already had the road closure and the disruption and for what – for the Government to scrap the scheme almost everyone else says is vital to the region. 
    "The money that has already wasted adds insult to injury. 
    "It would not surprise me if £50 million at least had been spent."
    This whole affair has highlighted how hopelessly inefficient and centralised our current way of running the railways is. The Department for Transport is intimately involved in every decision.

    In fact, the railways had far more autonomy when they were nationalised under British Rail.
              Liberal Democrats to demonstrate against Brexit at Tory conference        

    Richard Vaughan reports on iNews today:
    The Liberal Democrats will abandon political party protocol by joining pro-EU campaigners to protest against Brexit outside this year’s Conservative Party Conference. 
    Activists are planning to stage one of the biggest marches in opposition to Britain leaving the EU when the Tories stage their annual conference in Manchester in October.  
    And they will be joined by the Lib Dems who will break the conventional truce that prevents parties from disrupting other political conferences. 
    The party said it did not take the decision "lightly", but said such action was necessary to prevent the Government pressing on with a "harmful" Brexit.
    He goes on to quote Tom Brake:
    "Brexit is the battle of our lives and it is vital we make the Conservatives see the strength of feeling against their disastrous extreme Brexit, which threatens to crash the economy and damage the life chances of millions."
    The question is whether Labour will mount a counter-demonstration in support of Conservative policy.
              Welcome to the new Liberal Democrat bloggers        
    Two new blogs appeared on the LibDemBlogs aggregator in July. Thanks as ever to Ryan Cullen for sending me the details.

    Feminist Mama @ Ambitious Mamas is written by Jane Chelliah and has been running for five years.

    Here she responds to Nick Timothy's claim that because of sexism Theresa May has not received enough credit for her policies:
    It's a cynical and convenient use of a prejudice to spin a yarn to extricate his then boss, Theresa May, from the blame and shame that was heaped on her after the disastrous run at the general election by both the electorate and the Westminster bubble inhabitants. The electorate who voted for non-Tory parties at the general election very much blamed Theresa May for the policies. 
    Radix is a group blog written by a team from a cross-party organisation that includes David Boyle. It has been running for three years.

    Here is David writing on agricultural policy after farming:
    The key question it seems to me that we should ask, in the emerging debate about trade deals and subsidies, is this: does it promote agricultural diversity? Does it support our emerging local food economies? Does it build the UK’s capacity to regenerate its agriculture?
    If you have a new blog you would like to appear here next month, please add it to LibDemBlogs.
              Vince Cable is the man to scare Jeremy Corbyn into supporting a second referendum        


    That's the headline on an article by Matthew Norman on the Independent website today.

    After reminding us that it is almost seven years since Vince Cable appeared on a Strictly Come Dancing special, Norman rightly observes:
    Although Labour has done brilliantly so far at disguising this, it is barely less split than the Tories. Jeremy Corbyn, as Cable pointed out in a recent article, is far keener on Hard Brexit than May. 
    Contempt for the EU has always been one of those points at which the far-left and far-right meet round the back. 
    Whether Corbyn actually voted Out is between him and his ballot paper. But no one doubts he would have wished to, or that the truancy from the referendum campaign of someone whose great joy is campaigning was a device to avoid perjuring himself in public.
    So what happens when all those young Remain voters who turned to Labour at the general election realise that Corbyn is not some cuddly, pro-EU Gandalf?

    Norman suggests those voters
    will find Vince’s Lib Dems waiting with open arms. Already, he has nimbly reversed his step over a second referendum. Betting the house that support will drain away from Leave as the general horror of Brexit and its specific impact on consumer prices hits home, he is now in favour.
    Well, it's our best hope of a Liberal Democrat revival. And as Norman concludes:
    All in all, then, it’s nice to see Vince back, to see Vince back, as his Strictly warm-up man would want to add for clarity. Nice.

              Six of the Best 713        
    Matthew Green offers a sober assessment of Liberal Democrat prospects under our new leader.

    "The progressive alliance can only work when everyone is genuinely willing to work together. If they are all fighting over the same voters then it was always a fallacy." Neil Monnery draws a lesson from this year's general election campaign.

    "Looking back at the time of the 1967 Act even those supporting decriminalisation called homosexuality ‘a disability’ and ‘a great weight of shame’. Bisexuals didn’t even occur to them. Goodness knows what they’d think of all the diversity of sexuality we share today! It shows us how far we’ve come, how hard that fight has been, and how much further we still have to go." Jennie Rigg marks an important anniversary.

    Melanie Phillips is rightly critical of the way some exploited the plight of Charlie Gard and his parents.

    Social workers and other professionals need to do more to help looked-after children achieve their potential, and to diminish the ‘stigma’ of being in care, research has found. Alex Turner on the findings of a new survey.

    James Fitzgerald introduces us to the inhabitants of Eel Pie Island.
              Labour's only councillor in Oadby and Wigston resigns        

    The Leicester Mercury reports:
    A Labour councillor has quit after being deemed not a fit and proper person to drive a taxi by his own authority. 
    Gurpal Atwal has resigned as the member for the Uplands Ward on Oadby and Wigston Borough Council.
    The resignation followed the failure of Atwal's court appeal against his council's own finding.

    You can read the allegations made against him, all of which Atwal denies, in an earlier Mercury report.

    Atwal blames a former business partner for those allegations and, in a statement issued today, blamed others for his resignation too:
    "Oadby and Wigston Council officers and one or two local councillors have taken positions in this matter that impact on my ability to concentrate on working effectively as a councillor on behalf of the Uplands Ward constituents. 
    "On that basis, I resign my seat as a Borough Councillor for Oadby Uplands Ward forthwith."
    Intriguingly, though he doesn't give a source for it, Guido Fawkes claims:
    A witness claimed in a statement that Atwal once boasted of having “Keith Vaz in my right pocket”.
    Elected in 2015, Gurpal Atwal was the first Labour councillor to win a seat on the Liberal Democrat run authority for some 30 years.
              Lights out: GOP stays in the house        
    There is a story buzzing around the internet, but hardly any news media outlets are covering it. Pelosi turns the lights out on the GOP after the GOP stayed in the house and refused to go on the 5 week vacation without proposing an energy vote. I can't find a video of this anywhere, however I turned on CSPAN last night and there was some footage before the democrats left the house. John Boehner was quite adamant about a vote on energy regulation, but democrats kept putting it off saying it would stop votes on other important bills, not energy regulation.

    You can see the article here about what happened:
    http://www.politico.com/blogs/thecrypt/0808/House_Dems_turn_out_out_the_light_but_GOP_keep_talking.html?showall

    I was impressed with the veracity in which the GOP finally went after the dems in the final hours of the day on Friday. It's historic. First, when a vote came to adjourn, the 50+ members of the GOP stayed. Then, Pelosi turned off the microphone; then the lights, then one of the GOP members somehow got the microphone back on, Pelosi turned it back off again.

    The GOP stayed for 5 hours talking about energy crisis and they are fed up. It's about time as the American public has been outraged about this issue for six months.

    The dems better listen, otherwise they are going to get wiped out. This issue crosses all party line barriers, and even many environmentalists are saying lets get energy independent with our own oil, wind and start using some natural gas too. You should see pickensplan.com if you are interested in that particular plan. It's quite good and will take time to implement, but a step in the right direction.

    Well, enough about this for now. Hopefully we get some real energy changes over the next few years, my gas bill is killing me now. . . any extra income I had goes in the fuel tank. Forget about saving any money or putting money into the property right now.

    I hope you all contact your congressman or senator and tell them how you feel. They are actually listening right now and know a revolt is in the works. The government can only ignore it's people for so long. I am surprized some nut-job hasn't gone out and whacked some of the liberal leadership in congress/senate who want to keep us dependent, want to raise our taxes, want us to just become Europe. Hey, at least it'd be a start. LOL BTW, congressional approval rating is less than 10%. Even Bush's approval rating is near 30%.

    Brock
              EU governments scrapped deal on CO2 limit for cars        
    Brussels -  European environment ministers today effectively scrapped an agreement to limit emissions from new cars to 95g CO2/km by 2020. The European Parliament, the Commission and EU governments had, in June, previously struck a fairly negotiated deal confirming the target.   Since the agreement was reached, Germany has been abusing EU democratic processes to undermine the deal so that its luxury carmakers (BMW and Daimler) will be allowed to keep selling even more gas guzzlers for another ...
              Building Disaster Response Capacity and Resilience in Fragile States (case of Serbia)        
    How do we revitalize critical public services when a national government is in the throes of crisis management or distracted by the protracted after-effects of conflict or natural disaster? Solving this conundrum is crucial to making the transition from humanitarian to development assistance. Restarting basic public services is also key to rekindling a state’s credibility with its citizens, and the first step on the path from fragile to stable governance. The case of Serbia, where DAI worked for seven years on a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) program to build disaster response capacity, suggests that supporting state disaster management institutions can be a powerful engine of resilience in fragile states.

    In 2006, the Republic of Serbia was a fraught, divided state, its ministries run by rival political parties with no incentives to make the compromises necessary for national stewardship. Public services and state legitimacy were next to nil; popular resignation and resentment were on the rise despite the promise of a newly elected democratic government. Political paralysis in Belgrade was palpable in the erosion of public services, and meant that municipal authorities lacked the resources to mitigate and respond to natural disasters. Lives were lost and property destroyed in annual flooding, droughts, wildfires, and even periodic earthquakes.

    Read the rest of this article here.

              A Brief History of N.C. Racial Politics, for Mr. Dallas Woodhouse        
    How the Party of Lincoln came to rule Dixie It started innocuously enough. On Sunday, the N.C. Democratic Party tweeted about the anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, saying, “Let’s celebrate how far we’ve come but remember the we must fight to keep moving forward.”…
              An N.C. Congressman Tries to Defund the Congressional Budget Office        
    Possibly related: the CBO has said the GOP’s efforts to repeal Obamacare would cost tens of millions of people access to health care On Monday—the same day the president attacked political rivals in a speech to Boy Scouts and the U.S. Senate prepared to vote on a health care bill that no one had actually seen—Mark Meadows, chairman of the Freedom Caucus and representative of North Carolina's Eleventh Congressional District, proposed his own means of undermining democratic norms. His big idea: gut the Congressional Budget Office, the agency that has consistently projected that GOP efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare would leave more than twenty million Americans without coverage.…
              If Roy Cooper Wins an Elections Lawsuit, Wake Libertarians Could Come Out on Top        
    Wake Dems and Republicans missed an important filing deadline, a former legislative special counsel says On Thursday, Gerry Cohen, a former special counsel for the General Assembly, made an interesting observation on Facebook: both the Wake Democratic and Republican parties missed the deadline to nominate candidates for the county Board of Elections. And that, he wrote, means that if Governor Cooper is successful in his effort to overturn a law passed last year that reconfigured the structure of election boards, the Wake board will consist of "two Libertarians and an unaffiliated voter."…
              Senate agrees to consider healthcare bill        
    On July 25, after much back-and-forth in the Senate and the dramatic return of Senator John McCain, who was recently diagnosed with brain cancer, the Senate agreed to open debate on legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). With Republican Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski joining all Senate Democrats in voting […]
              Egresados de la Facultad de Humanidades crean una empresa para conocer la Historia a través de los sentidos        
    Bajo el lema “No te contamos la historia, tú la vives” dos jóvenes de la Universidad Pablo de Olavide han creado una empresa de turismo cultural que pretende enseñar la historia de una manera diferente, otorgando protagonismo al participante para que éste pueda vivir así la experiencia en primera persona. Se trata de "La Odisea de la Historia", un proyecto creado por los antiguos estudiantes de la UPO Moisés Hidalgo García y Carlos Jiménez Barea. “Una de las grandes diferencias que encontramos entre nuestro proyecto y muchas de las empresas de turismo cultural es que adoptamos el enfoque experiencial, huyendo de la dinámica de la clásica visita guiada en la que el asistente es un mero receptor pasivo de información”, afirman estos dos jóvenes, quienes aseguran que buscan que el asistente a estas actividades sea partícipe de ellas, jugando así con la sensorialidad, incluyendo elementos como música, dramatizaciones, recreaciones arqueológicas o catas de vinos para que la historia se pueda ver, tocar, oler, oír y saborear. El motivo de esta manera de enfocar su proyecto es que estos dos jóvenes tienen una formación como historiadores y humanistas que les permite diseñar actividades bien fundamentadas históricamente y que aporten contenido novedoso. Así, Moisés Hidalgo García, es licenciado en Humanidades por la Universidad Pablo de Olavide, especializado en gestión y técnica informáticas para archivos, bibliotecas y bases de datos, Máster en Historia de Europa, el Mundo Mediterráneo y su Difusión Atlántica de la UPO, y actualmente realiza su doctorado en esta misma universidad en la que investiga sobre los procesos de democratización en el mundo rural. Por otro lado, Carlos Jiménez Barea, graduado en Humanidades por la UPO con especialización en Historia Antigua y Arqueología, realizó el Máster en Estudios Históricos Avanzados, especialidad Historia Antigua, en la Universidad de Sevilla, finalizando sus estudios con una investigación sobre la religión y el poder en la figura de Plinio el Joven. Actualmente realiza también su doctorado en la misma universidad, donde desarrolla una investigación centrada en la religión romana durante los siglos I y II d.C. Para más información consultar el siguiente enlace:
              Blaming a Democrat is Never Wrong...        
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              THE ART OF THE (TRUMP AND PUTIN) DEALSay you’re Vladimir Putin,...        


    THE ART OF THE (TRUMP AND PUTIN) DEAL

    Say you’re Vladimir Putin, and you did a deal with Trump last year. Whether there was such a deal is being investigated. But if you are Putin and you did do a deal, what might Trump have agreed to do for you? 

    1. Repudiate NATO. NATO is the biggest thorn in your side – the alliance that both humiliates you and stymies your ambitions. Trump seemed intent to deliver on this during his recent European trip by bullying members about payments and seemingly not reaffirming Article 5 of the pact, which states that any attack on one NATO ally is an attack on all. (He’s backtracked on this since then, under pressure from Congress.)

    2. Antagonize Europe, especially Angela Merkel. She’s the strongest leader in the West other than Trump, and you’d love to drive a wedge between the United States and Germany. Your larger goal is for Europe to no longer depend on the United States, so you can increase your influence in Europe. Trump has almost delivered on this, too. Merkel is already saying Europe can no longer depend on America.

    3. Take the United States out of the Paris accord on the environment. This will anger America’s other allies around the world and produce a wave of anti-Americanism – all to your advantage. You’d also love for the whole Paris accord to unravel because you want the world to remain dependent on fossil fuels. Russia is the world’s second-largest exporter of oil after Saudi Arabia, and biggest exporter of natural gas. And the oil and gas industry contributes about half the revenues to your domestic budget. And, hey, there’s also all those Arctic ports that are opening up now that the earth is warming. Trump has delivered on this. 

    4. Embark on a new era of protectionism. Or at least anti-trade rhetoric. This will threaten the West’s economic interdependence and loosen America’s economic grip on the rest of the world. Trump is on the way to delivering on this one.

    5. End the economic sanctions on Russia, imposed by the United States in 2014. Oil production on land is falling so you want to tap the vast petroleum and gas reserves offshore in the Arctic. In 2011, you and ExxonMobil’s Rex Tillerson, signed a $500 billion deal to do this. But the sanctions stopped it cold. Trump has promised to lift them, but he hasn’t delivered on this yet, because he has got to cope with all the suspicions in America about his deal with you. Once it dies down, he’ll end the sanctions. In the meantime, he’ll give you back the two compounds that were seized by the Obama administration when the U.S. intelligence discovered you’d interfered in the election.

    And what might you have agreed to do for Trump in return? 

    Two things: First, you’d help him win the presidency, by hacking into Democratic Party servers, leaking the results, sending millions of fake news stories about Hillary to targeted voters, and tapping into voter lists. 

    Second, after he was elected, you’d shut up about your help so Trump wouldn’t be impeached and convicted of treason.

    In other words, if you did a deal, you both still have every incentive to fulfill your side of it. That’s the art of the deal.


               POLITICAL JUJITSU: NOW’S THE TIME FOR MEDICARE FOR ALLAs...        


    POLITICAL JUJITSU: NOW’S THE TIME FOR MEDICARE FOR ALL

    As Republicans in Congress move to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Democrats are moving toward Medicare for All – a single-payer plan that builds on Medicare and would cover everyone at far lower cost.

    Most House Democrats are already supporting a Medicare for All bill.

    With health care emerging as the public’s top concern, according to recent polls, the choice between repeal of the Affordable Care Act and Medicare for All is likely to be the major domestic issue in the presidential campaign of 2020 (other than getting Trump out of office, if he lasts that long).

    And the better choice is clear. Private for-profit insurers spend a fortune trying to attract healthy people while avoiding the sick and needy, filling out paperwork from hospitals and providers, paying top executives, and rewarding shareholders.

    And for-profit insurers are merging like mad, in order to make even more money.

    These are among the major reasons why health insurance is becoming so expensive, and why almost every other advanced nation – including our neighbor to the north – has adopted a single-payer system at less cost per person and with better health outcomes.

    Most Americans support Medicare for All. According to a Gallup poll conducted in May, a majority would like to see a single-payer system implemented. An April survey from the Economist/YouGov showed 60 percent of Americans in favor of “expanding Medicare to provide health insurance to every American.”

    That includes nearly half of people who identify themselves as Republican.

    If Republicans gut the Affordable Care Act, the American public will be presented with the real choice ahead: Either expensive health care for the few, or affordable health care for the many.


              NOW’S THE TIME FOR MEDICARE FOR ALLAs Republicans in Congress...        


    NOW’S THE TIME FOR MEDICARE FOR ALL

    As Republicans in Congress move to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Democrats are moving in the opposite direction, toward Medicare for All – a single-payer plan that builds on Medicare and would cover everyone at far lower cost.

    Most House Democrats are already supporting a Medicare for All bill. Senator Bernie Sanders is preparing to introduce it in the Senate. Both California and New York state are moving towards single-payer plans.

    With health care emerging as the pubic’s top concern, according to recent polls, the choice between repeal of the Affordable Care Act and Medicare for All is likely to be the major domestic issue in the presidential campaign of 2020 (other than getting Trump out of office, if he lasts that long).

    And the better choice is clear. Private for-profit insurers spend a fortune trying to attract healthy people while avoiding the sick and needy, filling out paperwork from hospitals and providers, paying top executives, and rewarding shareholders. 

    And for-profit insurers are merging like mad, in order to make even more money. 

    These are among the major reasons why health insurance is becoming so expensive, and why almost every other advanced nation – including our neighbor to the north – has adopted a single-payer system at less cost per person and with better health outcomes. 

    Most Americans support Medicare for All. According to a Gallup poll conducted in May, a majority would like to see a single-payer system implemented. 

    An April survey from the Economist/YouGov showed 60 percent of Americans in favor of “expanding Medicare to provide health insurance to every American.” That includes nearly half of people who identify themselves as Republican. 

    If Republicans gut the Affordable Care Act, the American public will be presented with the real choice ahead: Either expensive health care for the few, or affordable health care for the many.


              New York's Attorney General Vows Court Action Against ACA Repeal        
    New York’s top elected Democrats rallied against the Republican Congress’s proposals to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, saying they will take legal action, if necessary, to stop it. State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, speaking before a crowd of unionized health care workers at Mount Sinai hospital, says if the plans to repeal and replace Obamacare in the GOP led Senate and House do become law, he will sue on behalf of New Yorkers. “I’ve developed a bit of a reputation since January as the guy who sues Donald Trump and the federal government,” Schneiderman said, to cheers. “Always on the merits, and boy, have we got a lot of merits on our side.” This is not the first time that Schneiderman has made the threat. The Attorney General said after the house passed its version of the Obamacare repeal and replacement that court action was likely. The AG says provisions in both the Senate and House plans to defund Planned Parenthood services, “would
              Syracuse Mayoral Democrats Turn in Petition Signatures; One Candidate Switches to Libertarian Party        
    Another major milestone has been reached in the Syracuse mayoral election. Democratic hopefuls have submitted their petitions to stay in the race. There are five Democratic candidates: Joe Nicoletti, Juanita Williams, Alfonso Davis, Raymond Blackwell, and Marty Masterpole. But getting enough signatures doesn’t mean they’ll all be on the ballot. Onondaga County Board of Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny says there are two main reasons candidates can be knocked from the race: If they failed to collect enough signatures from registered Democrats within the city, or if their witnesses to those petitions were not qualified. "Every candidate has had a general objection filed against them, which means that the possibility of specific objections against a any candidate could come in against any candidate over the next week or so. In all likelihood, maybe one or two won't survive, but we just won't be able to tell until the end of the challenge weeks." While parties and candidates must
              Improving Westside a Priority of One Syracuse Mayoral Candidate        
    One Syracuse mayoral candidate has a vision for the city’s west side to address poverty and improve education. Syracuse native Alfonso Davis is seeking the Democratic Party nomination. Davis has made a priority of easing socio-economic troubles in poorer neighborhoods, coming from poverty himself. He empathizes with frustrations people on the west side might feel. “One of the large cries from people on the Westside, coming out of the Westside, is jobs. They feel as though…this city, no one cares about them and what goes on on the Westside.” Davis says greater economic opportunity is key not only to easing poverty, but for reducing violent crime in poor neighborhoods. If elected mayor, he hopes to enact a Community Benefits Agreement, or CBA. It would require that public works projects hire local workers instead of having contractors bring in crews from outside the city. Davis says the I-81 replacement is a perfect example… involving billions of dollars over a 7- to 10-year build time.
              Onon County Gets Sales Tax OK, Other State Business Draws Protests in Special Session        
    The legislature finally ended its 2017 legislative session, after the Assembly voted overnight on a privately negotiated omnibus bill, and the Senate finally finished on Thursday afternoon. The messy process drew condemnation from both sides of the aisle. Both Democrats and Republicans condemned an end of session that included the governor calling an extraordinary session of the legislature to deal with expiring laws, private meetings between Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders, and rank and file lawmakers kept in the dark about the details. After two days with little or no information on an omnibus cleanup bill , the leader of the Senate Democrats, Andrea Stewart- Cousins, stood with her conference members, and said -enough. “Stop wasting time, stop wasting taxpayer dollars,” Stewart-Cousins said. “And do the things that people sent us here to do.” On the Senate floor, Deputy Senate Minority Leader Mike Gianaris, continued the criticism, saying the extraordinary session was called
              Mayoral Control, Reform, Uncertain as State Legislative Session Draws to a Close         
    The New York State legislative session is drawing to a close, and Democrats and Republicans are digging in on the remaining issues of 2017 including a measure to extend the New York City Mayor’s control of the public schools, which has now been linked to a number of diverse issues effecting people in the rest of the state. Games of chicken are common at the Capitol whenever a deadline like the budget or the end of session draws near. This time, it was the State Senate’s turn to go first. Republicans, who control the chamber, offered three bills extending New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s control of the public schools, for one, two or five years. The measures are linked to passage of an education tax credit that would benefit charter schools. Charter schools have long been championed by Republicans but are viewed with suspicion by some Democrats. The three take it or leave it measures were angrily rejected by the Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who was asked about them by reporters.
              Gov. Cuomo Takes Active Role in Taking Back the House for Democrats        
    Governor Andrew Cuomo is getting involved in New York’s Congressional races. At a rally with House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, he vowed to help defeat the state’s republican members of the House of Representatives when they are up for election next year. House Democratic Leader Pelosi introduced Governor Cuomo at the rally of union workers at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City. “We will remove you from office on November [7], 2018,” Cuomo shouted. “ And we are telling you those are not just words, you can bet your political life that New Yorkers will do just that!” While Cuomo says he’s working to defeat all of the state’s GOP congressional representatives, the governor directed his ire at Western New York Congressman Chris Collins and the Hudson Valley’s John Faso. The two angered Cuomo earlier this year when they successfully included in the House repeal of the Affordable Care Act a plan to force the state to take over billions of dollars in county Medicaid costs.
              Getting Over The Guru Fix: Learning To Live A Leaderless Existence        

    Since the beginning of time human societies have frequently had someone in charge. From tribal chiefs to kings to democratic presidents, there has almost always been a ‘boss‘. Although comforting to some, there have also always been free thinkers — anarchists who swim against the current and desire to have the power to make decisions on their own […]

    The post Getting Over The Guru Fix: Learning To Live A Leaderless Existence appeared first on Conscious Reminder.


              Obama Not as "Green" as He Would Like You to Think        
    Future Presidential candidate Barack Hussein Obama might not be as "green" as he appears. And I don't mean "inexperienced." Last year Obama came under fire from conservatives for giving a series of speeches on the need to reduce carbon emissions by breaking America's addiction to SUVs, while arriving and departing in a GMC Envoy. When the story broke, Obama's press secretary, Tommy Vietor, issued a statement saying that Obama liked to roll in a Flex-Fuel SUV, which suggested that he was indeed practicing what he preached. Unfortunately for Obama, many clever conservatives did their research and found out that the GMC Envoy does not come equipped with Flex-Fuel technology.

    But now, Obama's committment to being Green is being challenged by environmentalists on both sides of the aisles (Washington Post article here). In a Grist article entitled, "Even Stevens?" reporter Amanda Griscom Little descibes the problems environmentalists have with the "Coal-to-Liquid Fuel Promotion Act of 2007" co-sponsored by Obama and Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning. According to the article, "Coal-to-liquid (CTL) technology uses a highly energy-intensive process to convert coal into diesel fuel for cars or jet fuel for airplanes -- an appealing prospect to the coal industry in Obama's home state of Illinois, but not to [environmentalists] and others concerned about global warming." Little goes on to explain the problems with CTL technology:
    David Doniger, policy director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's Climate Center, has supported coal gasification as a viable alternative to coal-burning power plants, but explains that CTL is not as promising an alternative to conventional gasoline or biofuels. "Coal-to-liquid is, in the best-case scenario, no worse for the climate than oil-derived gasoline -- and no better," he says. The best-case scenario assumes that CTL producers find a way to capture their carbon emissions. Problem is, none of the current CTL projects actually involve carbon capture. Without that step, the climate impacts of CTL fuel are far worse than those of gasoline. According to an NRDC analysis, a 35-mpg car powered by the CTL fuel that's currently available would generate as much carbon dioxide pollution as a far less efficient 19-mpg car that runs on conventional gasoline.
    The Bunning-Obama bill "which would expand tax incentives for CTL and help jumpstart the industry with public-private partnerships, was first introduced by the senators in spring of last year." It appears that for Obama, regional politics trump environmentalism. It will be interesting to see how many of his Democratic collegues will support the bill and undermine the Dems climate control promises. One thing is for sure: Obama's "100 percent approval rating from the League of Conservation Voters for his environmental voting record in the Senate last year" is certain to decrease this time around.
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              About Jackie Robinson        

    Who was Jackie Robinson?

     

    Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson (January 31, 1919 – October 24, 1972) was the first black Major League Baseball. Robinson broke the baseball color barrier when he signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. As the first black man to play in the major leagues, (aside from the 1880s, before the MLB was organized) he is most known for bringing social justice to baseball, which had seperate leagues for blacks (the Negro leagues) and whites for six decades. His character and skills are what helped him challenge the traditional basis of segregation, which was prevalent in all areas of American Life, and was a catalyst to the Civil Rights Movement. Robinson was not just any other baseball player, he strived for success and achieved it, as he helped the Dodgers get to six World Series' and win it all in 1955. He was Rookie of the Year in 1947, MVP in 1949 and a six time All-Star from 1949-1954. He was then inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in 1962 followed by all of MLB retiring the Jackie Robinson Jersey: number 42, in 1997, an honor reserved solely to Robinson. 

    Pre Baseball Life

    Jackie was born on January 31, 1919, in Cairo, Georgia, to a family of farmers during a Spanish flu and smallpox epidemic. He was the youngest of five children, after his brothers Edgar, Frank, Matthew, and Willa Mae. He was named "Roosevelt" as a middle name, in honor of former President Theodore Roosevelt, who died earier that month. The Robinson's moved to 121 Pepper Street in Pasadena, California after their father left them in 1920. Their mother worked various jobs to support them as they grew up in relative poverty even though Pasadena was considered an affluent place. They attended Washington Junior High School followed by Muir Tech High School. The Robinsons were superb athletes. Matthew was a silver medalist in the 1936 Olympics and he and Frank inspired Jackie to seriously pursue a career in sports. Jackie played on the Muir Tech football team as quarterback, basketball team as a guard, track team as a jumper, tennis team and baseball team as both a catcher and shortstop. In 1936, he won a Tennis Tournament and played in the Pomona baseball tournament all star team with fellow future Hall of Famers Ted Williams and Bob Lemon. 

    After High School, Jackie went on to Pasadena Junior College where he continued his involvement in sports. He also was elected to the Lancers, a local organization responsible for helping patrol school activities. In 1938, Jackie joined the All-Southland Junior College baseball team and was selected as that years MVP. He also received honors for his outstanding community service, even though he sometimes acted against those around him who seemed racist. While playing football for PJC, Jackie broke his ankle. A few days before Jackie's 19th birthday he was arrested for vocally disputing the arrest of a black friend of his. He quickly earned a reputation for being one who won't shy away from beligerrance in the face of racism.

    After graduating from PJC, Jackie's brother, Frank, was killed in a motorcycle accident which helped Jackie make a decision to move to L.A. where he could console Frank's family. Jackie decided to attend UCLA where he met is future wife, Rachel Isum, and won varsity letters in all the major sports. He won the 1940 NCAA Mens Outdoor Track and Field Championship in the Long Jump,jumping a whopping 24 Feet 10.5 Inches. Ironically, in that year, robinson batted .097 for the UCLA baseball squad. In 1941, he took a job with the NYA as an assistant athletic director, as it would have been impossible for him to get a job as a proffesional athlete due to the color barrier. Later that year he traveled to Hawaii where he had an opportunity to play for the racially mixed semi-pro Honolulu Bears' football team. After that season he would move back to L.A. to play for a local football team, not realizing that the US involvement in World War 2 would sidetrack him for a little while and end his short football career.

    Robinson was drafted to the Army in 1942 and was stationed in Fort Riley, Kansas. Throughout his 3 plus years in the Army, he was always treated as a subordinate by the White controlled military. He still managed to become a second lieutenant in 1943, and joined the Black Panthers Tank Battallion, the first Black tank unit to see combat in WWII. However, jackie was never in combat. After getting engaged to his College sweetheart, Rachel, he was sidelined after injuring the same ankle he hurt back in high school. He would finish his army service as a coach for army athletes until 1944 when he was discharged. While in the Army, Robinson made close ties with boxer, Joe Louis, as they helped each other struggle in the white dominated Army.

    In early 1945, after working some part time coaching jobs, Jackie received an offer from the Kansas City Monarchs to Play professional Baseball in the Negro Leagues. He signed a contract worth $400 a month as he played for the Monarchs for 1 Season. He played 47 games at shortstop batting .387. The Negro leagues were'nt for Jackie as he didn't like their unorganized style. Luckily he received a secret offer from the GM of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Branch Rickey, to come to NY and play for their Minor League team. They offered him $600 a month on the condition that he would be able to take abuse from other players for being the only black, but contain himself from fighting back. Jackie accepted, and immediately left the Monarchs for NYC where he would marry Rachel Isum, who was in NY studying to be a Nurse. Jackie would start with the Dodgers' AAA club in Daytona Beach, FL that next season.

    Baseball Career

    In 1946, Robinson arrived at Daytona Beach, Florida, for spring training with the Montreal Royals of the Class AAA International League (the designation of "AAA" for the highest level of minor league baseball was first used in the 1946 season). Robinson's presence was controversial in racially charged Florida. As he was not allowed to stay with his teammates at the team hotel, he lodged instead at the home of a local black politician. Since the Dodgers organization did not own a spring training facility (the Dodger-controlled spring training compound in Vero Beach known as "Dodgertown" did not open until spring 1948), scheduling was subject to the whim of area localities, several of which turned down any event involving Robinson or Johnny Wright, another black player whom Rickey had signed to the Dodgers' organization in January. In Sanford, Florida, the police chief threatened to cancel games if Robinson and Wright did not cease training activities there; as a result, Robinson was sent back to Daytona Beach. In Jacksonville, the stadium was padlocked shut without warning on game day, by order of the city's Parks and Public Property director. In DeLand, a scheduled day game was called off, ostensibly because of faulty electrical lighting.

    After much lobbying of local officials by Rickey himself, the Royals were allowed to host a game involving Robinson in Daytona Beach. Robinson made his Royals debut at Daytona Beach's City Island Ballpark on March 17, 1946, in an exhibition game against the team's parent club, the Dodgers. Robinson thus simultaneously became the first black player to openly play for a minor league team and against a major league team since the de facto baseball color line had been implemented in the 1880s. Later in spring training, after some less-than-stellar performances, Robinson was shifted from shortstop to second base, allowing him to make shorter throws to first base. Robinson's performance soon rebounded. On April 18, 1946, Roosevelt Stadium hosted the Jersey City Giants' season opener against the Montreal Royals, marking the professional debut of the Royals' Jackie Robinson. In his five trips to the plate, Robinson had four hits, including a three-run home run. He also scored four runs, drove in three, and stole two bases in the Royals' 14–1 victory. Robinson proceeded to lead the International League that season with a .349 batting average and .985 fielding percentage, and he was named the league's Most Valuable Player. Although he often faced hostility while on road trips (the Royals were forced to cancel a Southern exhibition tour, for example), the Montreal fan base enthusiastically supported Robinson. Whether fans supported or opposed it, Robinson's presence on the field was a boon to attendance; more than one million people went to games involving Robinson in 1946, an amazing figure by International League standards. In the fall of 1946, following the baseball season, Robinson returned home to California and briefly played professional basketball for the short-lived Los Angeles Red Devils.

    The following year, six days before the start of the 1947 season, the Dodgers called Robinson up to the major leagues. With Eddie Stanky entrenched at second base for the Dodgers, Robinson played his initial major league season as a first baseman. On April 15, 1947, Robinson made his major league debut at Ebbets Field before a crowd of 26,623 spectators, including more than 14,000 black patrons. Although he failed to get a base hit, the Dodgers won 5–3. Robinson became the first player since 1880 to openly break the major league baseball color line. Black fans began flocking to see the Dodgers when they came to town, abandoning their Negro league teams.

    Robinson's promotion met a generally positive, although mixed, reception among newspapers and white major league players. However, racial tension existed in the Dodger clubhouse. Some Dodger players insinuated they would sit out rather than play alongside Robinson. The brewing mutiny ended when Dodgers management took a stand for Robinson. Manager Leo Durocher informed the team, "I do not care if the guy is yellow or black, or if he has stripes like a fuckin' zebra. I'm the manager of this team, and I say he plays. What's more, I say he can make us all rich. And if any of you cannot use the money, I will see that you are all traded."

    Robinson was also derided by opposing teams. Some, notably the St. Louis Cardinals, threatened to strike if Robinson played. After the threat, National League President Ford Frick and Baseball Commissioner Happy Chandler let it be known that any striking players would be suspended. Robinson nonetheless became the target of rough physical play by opponents (particularly the Cardinals). At one time, he received a seven-inch gash in his leg. On April 22, 1947, during a game between the Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies, Phillies players called Robinson a "nigger" from their dugout and yelled that he should "go back to the cotton fields". Rickey later recalled that Phillies manager Ben Chapman "did more than anybody to unite the Dodgers. When he poured out that string of unconscionable abuse, he solidified and united thirty men."

    Robinson received significant encouragement from several major league players. Dodgers teammate Pee Wee Reese once came to Robinson's defense with the famous line, "You can hate a man for many reasons. Color is not one of them." In 1948, Reese put his arm around Robinson in response to fans who shouted racial slurs at Robinson before a game in Cincinnati. A statue by sculptor William Behrends, unveiled at KeySpan Park on November 1, 2005, commemorates this event by representing Reese with his arm around Robinson. Jewish baseball star Hank Greenberg, who had to deal with racial epithets during his career, also encouraged Robinson. After colliding with Robinson at first base on one occasion, Greenberg whispered a few words into Robinson's ear, which Robinson later characterized as "words of encouragement." Greenberg had advised him that the best way to combat the slurs from the opposing players was to beat them on the field.

    Robinson finished the season having played in 151 games for the Dodgers, with a batting average of .297, an on-base percentage of .383, and a .427 slugging percentage. He had 175 hits (scoring 125 runs) including 31 doubles, 5 triples, 12 home runs, driving in 48 runs for the year. Robinson led the league in sacrifice hits, with 28, and in stolen bases, with 29. His cumulative performance earned him the inaugural Major League Baseball Rookie of the Year Award (separate National and American League Rookie of the Year honors were not awarded until 1949).

    Following Stanky's trade to the Boston Braves in March 1948, Robinson took over second base, where he logged a .980 fielding percentage that year (second in the National League at the position, fractionally behind Stanky). Robinson had a batting average of .296 and 22 stolen bases for the season. In a 12–7 win against the St. Louis Cardinals on August 29, 1948, he hit for the cycle—a home run, a triple, a double, and a single in the same game. The Dodgers briefly moved into first place in the National League in late August 1948, but they ultimately finished third as the Braves went on to win the league title and lose to the Cleveland Indians in the World Series.

    Racial pressure on Robinson eased in 1948 as a number of other black players entered the major leagues. Larry Doby (who broke the color barrier in the American League on July 5, 1947) and Satchel Paige played for the Cleveland Indians, and the Dodgers had three other black players besides Robinson. In February 1948, he signed a $12,500 contract (equal to $120,914 today) with the Dodgers; while a significant amount, this was less than Robinson made in the off-season from a vaudeville tour, where he answered pre-set baseball questions, and a speaking tour of the South. Between the tours, he underwent surgery on his right ankle. Because of his off-season activities, Robinson reported to training camp 30 pounds (14 kg) overweight. He lost the weight during training camp, but dieting left him weak at the plate.

    In the spring of 1949, Robinson turned to Hall of Famer George Sisler, working as an advisor to the Dodgers, for batting help. At Sisler's suggestion, Robinson spent hours at a batting tee, learning to hit the ball to right field. Sisler taught Robinson to anticipate a fastball, on the theory that it is easier to subsequently adjust to a slower curveball. Robinson also noted that "Sisler showed me how to stop lunging, how to check my swing until the last fraction of a second". The tutelage helped Robinson raise his batting average from .296 in 1948 to .342 in 1949. In addition to his improved batting average, Robinson stole 37 bases that season, was second place in the league for both doubles and triples, and registered 124 runs batted in with 122 runs scored. For the performance Robinson earned the Most Valuable Player award for the National League. Baseball fans also voted Robinson as the starting second baseman for the 1949 All-Star Game—the first All-Star Game to include black players.

    That year, a song about Robinson by Buddy Johnson, "Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball?", reached number 13 on the charts; Count Basie recorded a famous version. Ultimately, the Dodgers won the National League pennant, but lost in five games to the New York Yankees in the 1949 World Series.

    Summer 1949 brought an unwanted distraction for Robinson. In July, he was called to testify before the United States House of Representatives' Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) concerning statements made that April by black athlete and actor Paul Robeson. Robinson was reluctant to testify, but he eventually agreed to do so, fearing it might negatively affect his career if he declined.

    In 1950, Robinson led the National League in double plays made by a second baseman with 133. His salary that year was the highest any Dodger had been paid to that point: $35,000 ($338,091 in 2012 dollars). He finished the year with 99 runs scored, a .328 batting average, and 12 stolen bases. The year saw the release of a film biography of Robinson's life, The Jackie Robinson Story, in which Robinson played himself, and actress Ruby Dee played Rachael "Rae" (Isum) Robinson. The project had been previously delayed when the film's producers refused to accede to demands of two Hollywood studios that the movie include scenes of Robinson being tutored in baseball by a white man. The New York Times wrote that Robinson, "doing that rare thing of playing himself in the picture's leading role, displays a calm assurance and composure that might be envied by many a Hollywood star."

    Robinson's Hollywood exploits, however, did not sit well with Dodgers co-owner Walter O'Malley, who referred to Robinson as "Rickey's prima donna". In late 1950, Rickey's contract as the Dodgers' team President expired. Weary of constant disagreements with O'Malley, and with no hope of being re-appointed as President of the Dodgers, Rickey cashed out his one-quarter financial interest in the team, leaving O'Malley in full control of the franchise. Rickey shortly thereafter became general manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Robinson was disappointed at the turn of events and wrote a sympathetic letter to Rickey, whom he considered a father figure, stating, "Regardless of what happens to me in the future, it all can be placed on what you have done and, believe me, I appreciate it."

    Before the 1951 season, O'Malley reportedly offered Robinson the job of manager of the Montreal Royals, effective at the end of Robinson's playing career. O'Malley was quoted in the Montreal Standard as saying, "Jackie told me that he would be both delighted and honored to tackle this managerial post"—although reports differed as to whether a position was ever formally offered.

    During the 1951 season, Robinson led the National League in double plays made by a second baseman for the second year in a row, with 137. He also kept the Dodgers in contention for the 1951 pennant. During the last game of the season, in the 13th inning, he had a hit to tie the game, and then won the game with a home run in the 14th. This forced a playoff against the New York Giants, which the Dodgers lost.

    Despite Robinson's regular-season heroics, the Dodgers lost the pennant on Bobby Thomson's famous home run, known as the Shot Heard 'Round the World, on October 3, 1951. Overcoming his dejection, Robinson dutifully observed Thomson's feet to ensure he touched all the bases. Dodgers sportscaster Vin Scully later noted that the incident showed "how much of a competitor Robinson was." He finished the season with 106 runs scored, a batting average of .335, and 25 stolen bases.

    Robinson had what was an average year for him in 1952. He finished the year with 104 runs, a .308 batting average, and 24 stolen bases. He did, however, record a career-high on-base percentage of .436. The Dodgers improved on their performance from the year before, winning the National League pennant before losing the 1952 World Series to the New York Yankees in seven games. That year, on the television show Youth Wants to Know, Robinson challenged the Yankees' general manager, George Weiss, on the racial record of his team, which had yet to sign a black player. Sportswriter Dick Young, whom Robinson had described as a "bigot", said, "If there was one flaw in Jackie, it was the common one. He believed that everything unpleasant that happened to him happened because of his blackness." The 1952 season was the last year Robinson was an everyday starter at second base. Afterward, Robinson played variously at first, second, and third bases, shortstop, and in the outfield, with Jim Gilliam, another black player, taking over everyday second base duties. Robinson's interests began to shift toward the prospect of managing a major league team. He had hoped to gain experience by managing in the Puerto Rican Winter League, but according to the New York Post, Commissioner Happy Chandler denied the request.

    In 1953, Robinson had 109 runs, a .329 batting average, and 17 steals, leading the Dodgers to another National League pennant (and another World Series loss to the Yankees, this time in six games). Robinson's continued success spawned a string of death threats. He was not dissuaded, however, from addressing racial issues publicly. That year, he served as editor for Our Sports magazine, a periodical focusing on Negro sports issues; contributions to the magazine included an article on golf course segregation by Robinson's old friend Joe Louis. Robinson also openly criticized segregated hotels and restaurants that served the Dodger organization; a number of these establishments integrated as a result, including the five-star Chase Park Hotel in St. Louis.

    In 1954, Robinson had 62 runs, a .311 batting average, and 7 steals. His best day at the plate was on June 17, when he hit two home runs and two doubles. The following autumn, Robinson won his only championship when the Dodgers beat the New York Yankees in the 1955 World Series. Although the team enjoyed ultimate success, 1955 was the worst year of Robinson's individual career. He hit .256 and stole only 12 bases. The Dodgers tried Robinson in the outfield and as a third baseman, both because of his diminishing abilities and because Gilliam was established at second base. Robinson, then 37 years old, missed 49 games and did not play in Game 7 of the World Series. Robinson missed the game because manager Walter Alston decided to play Gilliam at second and Don Hoak at third base. That season, the Dodgers' Don Newcombe became the first black major league pitcher to win twenty games in a year.

    In 1956, Robinson had 61 runs, a .275 batting average, and 12 steals. By then, he had begun to exhibit the effects of diabetes, and to lose interest in the prospect of playing or managing professional baseball. After the season, Robinson was traded by the Dodgers to the arch-rival New York Giants for Dick Littlefield and $35,000 cash (equal to $299,192 today). The trade, however, was never completed; unbeknownst to the Dodgers, Robinson had already agreed with the president of Chock full o'Nuts to quit baseball and become an executive with the company. Since Robinson had sold exclusive rights to any retirement story to Look magazine two years previously,[165&91; his retirement decision was revealed through the magazine, instead of through the Dodgers organization.

    Legacy

    Robinson's major league debut brought an end to approximately sixty years of segregation in professional baseball, known as the baseball color line. After World War II, several other forces were also leading the country toward increased equality for blacks, including their accelerated migration of to the North, where their political clout grew, and President Harry Truman's desegregation of the military in 1948. Robinson's breaking of the baseball color line and his professional success symbolized these broader changes and demonstrated that the fight for equality was more than simply a political matter. Martin Luther King, Jr. said that he was "a legend and a symbol in his own time", and that he "challenged the dark skies of intolerance and frustration." According to historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, Robinson's "efforts were a monumental step in the civil-rights revolution in America ... [His&91; accomplishments allowed black and white Americans to be more respectful and open to one another and more appreciative of everyone's abilities."

    Beginning his major league career at the relatively advanced age of twenty-eight, he played only ten seasons, all of them for the Brooklyn Dodgers. During his career, the Dodgers played in six World Series, and Robinson himself played in six All-Star Games. In 1999, he was posthumously named to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.

    Robinson's career is generally considered to mark the beginning of the post–"long ball" era in baseball, in which a reliance on raw power-hitting gave way to balanced offensive strategies that used footspeed to create runs through aggressive baserunning. Robinson exhibited the combination of hitting ability and speed which exemplified the new era. He scored more than 100 runs in six of his ten seasons (averaging more than 110 runs from 1947 to 1953), had a .311 career batting average, a .409 career on-base percentage, a .474 slugging percentage, and substantially more walks than strikeouts (740 to 291). Robinson was one of only two players during the span of 1947–56 to accumulate at least 125 steals while registering a slugging percentage over .425 (Minnie Miñoso was the other). He accumulated 197 stolen bases in total, including 19 steals of home. None of the latter were double steals (in which a player stealing home is assisted by a player stealing another base at the same time). Robinson has been referred to by author David Falkner as "the father of modern base-stealing."

    "I'm not concerned with your liking or disliking me ... all I ask is that you respect me as a human being." —Robinson, on his legacy

     

    Historical statistical analysis indicates Robinson was an outstanding fielder throughout his ten years in the major leagues and at virtually every position he played. After playing his rookie season at first base, Robinson spent most of his career as a second baseman. He led the league in fielding among second basemen in 1950 and 1951. Toward the end of his career, he played about 2,000 innings at third base and about 1,175 innings in the outfield, excelling at both.

    Assessing himself, Robinson said, "I'm not concerned with your liking or disliking me ... all I ask is that you respect me as a human being." Regarding Robinson's qualities on the field, Leo Durocher said, "Ya want a guy that comes to play. This guy didn't just come to play. He come to beat ya. He come to stuff the goddamn bat right up your ass."

    Post-baseball life

    Robinson as ABC sports announcer in 1965

    Robinson retired from baseball on January 5, 1957. Later that year, after he complained of numerous physical ailments, his doctors diagnosed Robinson with diabetes, a disease that also affected his brothers. Although Robinson adopted an insulin injection regimen, the state of medicine at the time could not prevent continued deterioration of Robinson's physical condition from the disease.

    In his first year of eligibility for the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962, Robinson encouraged voters to consider only his on-field qualifications, rather than his cultural impact on the game. He was elected on the first ballot, becoming the first black player inducted into the Cooperstown museum.

    In 1965, Robinson served as an analyst for ABC's Major League Baseball Game of the Week telecasts, the first black person to do so. In 1966, Robinson was hired as general manager for the short-lived Brooklyn Dodgers of the Continental Football League. In 1972, he served as a part-time commentator on Montreal Expos telecasts.

    On June 4, 1972, the Dodgers retired his uniform number, 42, alongside those of Roy Campanella (39) and Sandy Koufax (32). From 1957 to 1964, Robinson was the vice president for personnel at Chock full o'Nuts; he was the first black person to serve as vice president of a major American corporation. Robinson always considered his business career as advancing the cause of black people in commerce and industry. Robinson also chaired the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's (NAACP) million-dollar Freedom Fund Drive in 1957, and served on the organization's board until 1967. In 1964, he helped found, with Harlem businessman Dunbar McLaurin, Freedom National Bank—a black-owned and operated commercial bank based in Harlem. He also served as the bank's first Chairman of the Board. In 1970, Robinson established the Jackie Robinson Construction Company to build housing for low-income families.

    Robinson was active in politics throughout his post-baseball life. He identified himself as a political independent although he held conservative opinions on several issues, including the Vietnam War (he once wrote Martin Luther King, Jr. to defend the Johnson Administration's military policy). After supporting Richard Nixon in his 1960 presidential race against John F. Kennedy, Robinson later praised Kennedy effusively for his stance on civil rights. Robinson was angered by conservative Republican opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He became one of six national directors for Nelson Rockefeller's unsuccessful campaign to be nominated as the Republican candidate for the 1964 presidential election. After the party nominated Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona instead, Robinson left the party's convention commenting that he now had "a better understanding of how it must have felt to be a Jew in Hitler's Germany". He later became special assistant for community affairs when Rockefeller was re-elected governor of New York in 1966. Switching his allegiance to the Democrats, he subsequently supported Hubert Humphrey against Nixon in 1968.

    Protesting the major leagues' ongoing lack of minority managers and central office personnel, Robinson turned down an invitation to appear in an old-timers' game at Yankee Stadium in 1969. He made his final public appearance on October 15, 1972, throwing the ceremonial first pitch before Game 2 of the World Series. He gratefully accepted a plaque honoring the twenty-fifth anniversary of his MLB debut, but also commented, "I'm going to be tremendously more pleased and more proud when I look at that third base coaching line one day and see a black face managing in baseball." This wish was fulfilled only after Robinson's death: following the 1974 season, the Cleveland Indians gave their managerial post to Frank Robinson (no relation), a Hall of Fame-bound player who would go on to manage three other teams. Despite the success of these two Robinsons and other black players, the number of African-American players in Major League Baseball has declined since the 1970s.

    Family life and death

    After Robinson's retirement from baseball, his wife, Rachel Robinson, pursued a career in academic nursing—she became an assistant professor at the Yale School of Nursing and director of nursing at the Connecticut Mental Health Center. She also served on the board of the Freedom National Bank until it closed in 1990. She and Jackie had three children: Jackie Robinson Jr. (born November 18, 1946), Sharon Robinson (born January 13, 1950), and David Robinson (born May 14, 1952).

    Robinson's eldest son, Jackie Robinson Jr., had emotional trouble during his childhood and entered special education at an early age. He enrolled in the Army in search of a disciplined environment, served in the Vietnam War, and was wounded in action on November 19, 1965. After his discharge, he struggled with drug problems. Robinson Jr. eventually completed the treatment program at Daytop Village in Seymour, Connecticut, and became a counselor at the institution. On June 17, 1971, at the age of 24, he was killed in an automobile accident. The experience with his son's drug addiction turned Robinson, Sr. into an avid anti-drug crusader toward the end of his life.

    Robinson did not long outlive his son. Complications of heart disease and diabetes weakened Robinson and made him almost blind by middle age. On October 24, 1972, he died of a heart attack at home in Stamford, Connecticut, aged fifty-three. Robinson's funeral service on October 27, 1972, at New York City's Riverside Church attracted 2,500 admirers. Many of his former teammates and other famous black baseball players served as pallbearers, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson gave the eulogy. Tens of thousands of people lined the subsequent procession route to Robinson's interment site at Cypress Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York, where he is buried next to his son Jackie and mother-in-law Zellee Isum. Jackie Robinson Parkway also runs through the cemetery.

    After Robinson's death, his widow founded the Jackie Robinson Foundation, of which she remains an officer as of 2009. On April 15, 2008, she announced that in 2010 the foundation will be opening a museum devoted to Jackie in Lower Manhattan. Robinson's daughter, Sharon, became a midwife, educator, director of educational programming for MLB, and the author of two books about her father. His youngest son, David, who has ten children, is a coffee grower and social activist in Tanzania.

    Awards and recognition

    According to a poll conducted in 1947, Robinson was the second most popular man in the country, behind Bing Crosby. In 1999, he was named by Time on its list of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century. Also in 1999, he ranked number 44 on the Sporting News list of Baseball's 100 Greatest Players and was elected to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team as the top vote-getter among second basemen. Baseball writer Bill James, in The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, ranked Robinson as the 32nd greatest player of all time strictly on the basis of his performance on the field, noting that he was one of the top players in the league throughout his career. Robinson was among the 25 charter members of UCLA’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 1984. In 2002, Molefi Kete Asante included Robinson on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans. Robinson has also been honored by the United States Postal Service on three separate postage stamps, in 1982, 1999, and 2000.

    The City of Pasadena has recognized Robinson in several ways. Brookside Park, situated next to the Rose Bowl, features a baseball diamond and stadium named Jackie Robinson Field. The city's Human Services Department operates the Jackie Robinson Center, a community outreach center that provides early diabetes detection and other services. In 1997, a $325,000 bronze sculpture (equal to $470,522 today) by artists Ralph Helmick, Stu Schecter, and John Outterbridge depicting oversized nine-foot busts of Robinson and his brother Mack was erected at Garfield Avenue, across from the main entrance of Pasadena City Hall; a granite footprint lists multiple donors to the commission project, which was organized by the Robinson Memorial Foundation and supported by members of the Robinson family.

    Major League Baseball has honored Robinson many times since his death. In 1987, both the National and American League Rookie of the Year Awards were renamed the "Jackie Robinson Award" in honor of the first recipient (Robinson's Major League Rookie of the Year Award in 1947 encompassed both leagues). On April 15, 1997, Robinson's jersey number, 42, was retired throughout Major League Baseball, the first time any jersey number had been retired throughout one of the four major American sports leagues.

    As an exception to the retired-number policy, MLB has recently begun honoring Robinson by allowing players to wear number 42 on April 15, Jackie Robinson Day. For the 60th anniversary of Robinson's major league debut, MLB invited players to wear the number 42 on Jackie Robinson Day in 2007. The gesture was originally the idea of outfielder Ken Griffey, Jr., who sought Rachel Robinson's permission to wear the number. After receiving her permission, Commissioner Bud Selig not only allowed Griffey to wear the number, but also extended an invitation to all major league teams to do the same. Ultimately, more than 200 players wore number 42, including the entire rosters of the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, Houston Astros, Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals, Milwaukee Brewers, and Pittsburgh Pirates. The tribute was continued in 2008, when, during games on April 15, all members of the Mets, Cardinals, Washington Nationals, and Tampa Bay Rays wore Robinson's number 42. On June 25, 2008, MLB installed a new plaque for Robinson at the Baseball Hall of Fame commemorating his off-the-field impact on the game as well as his playing statistics. In 2009, all uniformed personnel (players, managers, coaches, and umpires) wore number 42 on April 15.

    At the November 2006 groundbreaking for a new ballpark for the New York Mets, Citi Field, it was announced that the main entrance, modeled on the one in Brooklyn's old Ebbets Field, would be called the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. The rotunda was dedicated at the opening of Citi Field on April 16, 2009. It honors Robinson with large quotations spanning the inner curve of the facade and features a large freestanding statue of his number, 42, which has become an attraction in itself. Mets owner Fred Wilpon announced that, in conjunction with Citigroup and the Jackie Robinson Foundation, the Mets will create a Jackie Robinson Museum and Learning Center, located at the headquarters of the Jackie Robinson Foundation at One Hudson Square in lower Manhattan. The main purpose of the museum will be to fund scholarships for "young people who live by and embody Jackie's ideals."

    Since 2004, the Aflac National High School Baseball Player of the Year has been presented the "Jackie Robinson Award".

    Robinson has also been recognized outside of baseball. In December 1956, the NAACP recognized him with the Spingarn Medal, which it awards annually for the highest achievement by an African-American. President Ronald Reagan posthumously awarded Robinson the Presidential Medal of Freedom on March 26, 1984, and on March 2, 2005, President George W. Bush gave Robinson's widow the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award bestowed by Congress; Robinson was only the second baseball player to receive the award, after Roberto Clemente. On August 20, 2007, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife, Maria Shriver, announced that Robinson was inducted into the California Hall of Fame, located at The California Museum for History, Women and the Arts in Sacramento.

    A number of buildings have been named in Robinson's honor. The UCLA Bruins baseball team plays in Jackie Robinson Stadium, which, because of the efforts of Jackie's brother Mack, features a memorial statue of Robinson by sculptor Richard H. Ellis. City Island Ballpark in Daytona Beach, Florida—the baseball field that became the Dodgers' de facto spring training site in 1947—was renamed Jackie Robinson Ballpark in 1989. A number of facilities at Pasadena City College (successor to PJC) are named in Robinson's honor, including Robinson Field, a football/soccer/track facility named jointly for Robinson and his brother Mack. The New York Public School system has named a middle school after Robinson, and Dorsey High School plays at a Los Angeles football stadium named after him. In 1976, his home in Brooklyn, the Jackie Robinson House, was declared a National Historic Landmark. Robinson also has an asteroid named after him, 4319 Jackierobinson. In 1997, the United States Mint issued a Jackie Robinson commemorative silver dollar, and five dollar gold coin. That same year, New York City renamed the Interboro Parkway in his honor.

    In 2011, the U.S. placed a plaque at Robinson's Montreal home to honor the ending of segregation in baseball. The home is located at 8232 avenue de Gaspe south of rue de Guizot Est and near Jarry Park and close to Delorimier Stadium, where Robinson played for the Montreal Royals during 1946. In a letter read during the ceremony, Rachel Robinson, Jackie's widow, wrote: "I remember Montreal and that house very well and have always had warm feeling for that great city. Before Jack and I moved to Montreal, we had just been through some very rough treatment in the racially biased South during spring training in Florida. In the end, Montreal was the perfect place for him to get his start. We never had a threatening or unpleasant experience there. The people were so welcoming and saw Jack as a player and as a man."

    Career statistics

    YearTeamGABRH2B3BHRRBISBCSBBSOAVGOBPSLGTBSHSFIBBHBPGDPE
    1945 Kansas City 47 163 36 63 14 4 5 23 13       .387                  
    1946 Montreal 124 444 113 155 25 8 3 66 40   92 27 .349                 10
    1947 Brooklyn 151 590 125 175 31 5 12 48 29   74 36 .297 .383 .427 252 28     9 5 16
    1948 Brooklyn 147 574 108 170 38 8 12 85 22   57 37 .296 .367 .453 260 8     7 7 15
    1949 Brooklyn 156 593 122 203 38 12 16 124 37   86 27 .342 .432 .528 313 17     8 22 16
    1950 Brooklyn 144 518 99 170 39 4 14 81 12   80 24 .328 .423 .500 259 10     5 11 11
    1951 Brooklyn 153 548 106 185 33 7 19 88 25 8 79 27 .338 .429 .527 289 6     9 10 7
    1952 Brooklyn 149 510 104 157 17 3 19 75 24 7 106 40 .308 .440 .465 237 6     14 16 20
    1953 Brooklyn 136 484 109 159 34 7 12 95 17 4 74 30 .329 .425 .502 243 9     7 12 6
    1954 Brooklyn 124 386 62 120 22 4 15 59 7 3 63 20 .311 .413 .505 195 5 4a   7 13 7
    1955 Brooklyn 105 317 51 81 6 2 8 36 12 3 61 18 .256 .378 .363 115 6 3 5b 3 8 10
    1956 Brooklyn 117 357 61 98 15 2 10 43 12 5 60 32 .275 .382 .412 147 9 2 2 3 9 9
    TotalsBrooklyn13824877947151827354137734197 740291.311.409.47423101049772113107
     Career155354941096173634267161867248   .316    97   

    a The sacrifice fly (SF) as a unique statistical category did not exist in Major League Baseball from 1940 through 1953. Any pre-1954 sacrifice flies by Robinson would be reflected in the sacrifice hit (SH) category.

    b Likewise, the intentional walk (IBB) category only became a unique statistic beginning in 1955. Any intentional walks issued to Robinson before that year would be reflected in the walk (BB) category.

     


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              [news] Grudge Match: China vs. Europe + "It's Malaysia Time ..."        
    Tuesday, September 7, 2004
    Dateline: China
     
    This week marks the debut of my bi-weekly (or so) column for the AlwaysOn Network, Silicon Valley's premier online social networking venue (and unofficially linked to Silicon Valley's premier in person social networking venue, the Churchill Club; I'm a member of both).  I will be sharing "Letter from China" columnist duties with Paul Waide, the head of Pacific Epoch, a Shanghai-based boutique consultancy that advises hedge funds on alternative investments in China.  My first column is on Shanghai and a couple/few forthcoming columns will examine cultural differences between Chinese Nationals, Chinese-Americans and Anglo-Americans, especially within the context of IT and IT marketing.  I will post my AlwaysOn "Letter from China" columns to this blog/e-newsletter, although please be advised that my intended audience are readers based in Silicon Valley.
     
    Grudge Match: China vs. Europe
     
    Staying on topic, I'd like to make a comment about a recent "Grudge Match" on the AlwaysOn Network.  See the item marked "Grudge Match" for 08.05.04 (5 August 2004) at http://www.alwayson-network.com/polling/index.php .
     
    In the referenced "Grudge Match," China was pitted against Europe.  China received 45% of the votes in contrast to Europe's 55%.  Frankly, I'm surprised that China did so well.  I've found that the AO "Grudge Match" results tend to indicate sentiment more so than reality.  For example, a recent match pitted SpaceShipOne against NASA and SSO absolutely clobbered NASA (besides, perhaps most of the votes for NASA came from either Ames or the Blue Cube).  Of course, SSO is a high school science experiment compared to what NASA is doing, but I believe the results accurately reflect sentiment. 
     
    But what is amazing (to me, at least) is that China was pitted against Europe in the first place!  Let's face it, this is a rather goofy "grudge match."  For Europe to include First World nations such as Germany, France, the U.K., Ireland, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark (yes, some countries are intentionally left out) -- and to compare the collective whole of First World Europe (a.k.a. "Western Europe") to China is absurd.  If this was First World Europe vs. China circa 2020, okay.  But TODAY?  Yet, the sentiment indicator showed a strong vote in favor of China.  Europe "won," but barely.
     
    I propose the following "grudge match":  China vs. "Eastern Europe" (i.e., the former Soviet Bloc).  Look, if China can do so well against Europe as a whole (including First World Europe), I'm sure China would absolutely kick Second World Europe's butt!!  And a China "grudge match" against Eastern Europe more accurately reflects current "history."
     
    But even this is a bit misleading.  The real "grudge match" is this:  China + India vs. Second World Europe.  And given this choice, only someone stranded on Mars for the past decade might choose Second World Europe.  Yet, this is the real so-called "grudge match."  First World Europe is in descent, to be sure, but it's descending from a high altitude.  It will take at least a decade or two for China (and/or India) to truly match First World Europe.  But China ALREADY is superior to Second World Europe.  And don't rant about NATO and EU memberships; this is simply window dressing.  Then combine China with India versus Second World Europe, playing into my "Golden Triangle" theme, i.e., it's all about the U.S., India and China.  This is where the action is, ESPECIALLY in IT.
     
    "It's Malaysia Time ..."
     
    I must be getting punchy since I'm borrowing a theme from a beer commercial, but it seems that Malaysia is experiencing its 15 minutes of fame.  The Philippines has recently been "hot," and several articles of late have been touting Malaysia (see, for example, an article which appeared in Space Daily).  Frankly, I'm getting tired of all this nonsense.  Look, when it comes to ITO (IT outsourcing) in East Asia, there are just two choices, i.e., India and China.  And, it's not really a competition; both have their strengths and weaknesses.  A few crumbs to Singers (Singapore), maybe even a few crumbs to the Kiwis (New Zealand).  The Philippines deserves notice, albeit passing notice, and Malaysia might be okay for some BPO.  But ITO?  Come on, give me a break!!  See my Furl archive for more links.
     
    The only thing I recently found interesting regarding Malaysia was an article on Satyam's IT boot camp in Malaysia.  This isn't really unique, after all, IBM has been doing this sort of thing for decades.  So does HP.  Kind of like training plus a bit of brainwashing, but the brainwashing is acceptable since it includes political survival skills -- and said skills are essential, especially in F500 corporations.  But I like the idea of SI (systems integrator)-based training:  This way SIs can focus on "real" versus theoretically perceived needs.
     
    IT Tidbits
     
    Which certifications have the best ROI (return on investment)?  Playing off the idea of SI-based training, which are the most important certifications?  Well, Cisco leads with three out of the top five, although Microsoft picks up a couple of "wins" when looking at fastest-growing ROI, with RedHat and Oracle getting one win each.  SIs in China may also want to benchmark how much U.S. employees are paid given a certain certification, e.g., Microsoft DBAs receive an annual average salary of US$80,600.  Think about how much SIs in China pay for a certified Microsoft DBA.  For example, what do they get paid in Jinan -- or even in Dalian?  Compare this to US$80,600.  Spot any opportunities?  See http://tinyurl.com/3nvpz and http://tinyurl.com/6r2s5 .
     
    ITO in the news.  Two particularly noteworthy items.  First, ITO got Slashdotted.  The Slashdot links are worth a review.  Probably some good insight into what American software engineers are thinking and feeling.  The second is a review of Lou Dobbs' new book on ITO and BPO.  Mr. Dobbs is a well-respected host on CNN; his views shouldn't be taken lightly.  A couple of excerpts from the review:
     
    "GE, as Dobbs makes clear in abundant detail, is only one of many companies outsourcing high-tech and professional jobs to India and other parts of the world where wage expectations are lower.  Among the others spotlighted by Dobbs for outsourcing jobs to India, the Philippines, Romania, Ireland, Poland and other countries are IBM, SAS Institute, Intel, Microsoft, Perot Systems, Apple, Computer Associates, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle and Sun Microsystems."  My comment:  Romania is the Changsha of Third World Europe, i.e., their programmers are about as cheap as programmers come.
     
    "'India can provide our software; China can provide our toys; Sri Lanka can make our clothes; Japan make our cars.  But at some point we have to ask, what will we export?  At what will Americans work?  And for what kind of wages?  No one I've asked in government, business or academia has been able to answer those questions,' Dobbs writes."  See the review in the Tallahassee Democrat or my Furl link .
     
    So-called infrastructure vendors beat out app vendors in terms of their ability to meet expected ROI and TCO (total cost of ownership) levels.  I don't really like the way infrastructure and application vendors are defined in this article and related survey, but top honors go to IBM and Microsoft.  There's a lot being written between the lines, but in general this plays into my "build-to-a-stack" strategy, albeit Oracle is left behind.  See http://tinyurl.com/3tpjo .
     
    Speaking of Microsoft ...  A good, quick review of the various IBUs (independent business units) at Microsoft.  (See http://tinyurl.com/5rjtk .)  For a take on MBS, see http://tinyurl.com/6k4dp .
     
    New marketing technologies.  Interesting article from the premier issue of CMO (Chief Marketing Officer).  There are two ways to view this:  1) which marketing technologies can be used by SIs in China for their own marketing endeavors, and 2) which marketing technologies will likely be adopted by retailers, e-commerce sites, financial institutions and numerous other sectors -- and which in house skills does an SI in China need to implement these new technologies (all of which are IT-related)?  See http://tinyurl.com/57wvp .
     
    Looking for partners in the utility computing space?  For a start, try the top 25 vendors.  (See http://tinyurl.com/48s9j .)  Yankee gives a quick look at utility computing ROI (see http://tinyurl.com/5fw88 ).  HP chimes in with their take, too (see http://tinyurl.com/58mhg ; it's a PDF).
     
    The battle of the SI globals.  Two related articles both based on the same Forrester report.  (See http://tinyurl.com/6tfrn and http://tinyurl.com/5tljq .)  Issues being considered include scalability (i.e., handling US$100+ million accounts), the need for broad offerings (e.g., strategy consulting) and expanding geographical presence (hey, where is EDS in China?).   "(T)he (Forrester) study finds that Infosys and Wipro have melded together a mix of CMMI, P-CMM, Six Sigma and ISO 9000 to create a culture focused on consistent and repeatable processes and value-added tools."  For China's SIs, mostly food for thought -- and a bit of dreaming.
     
    ... and how to battle the globals.  The article was a bit silly, after all, G2000 firms joining forces to battle Accenture or Infosys doesn't really fit the notion of smaller firms joining forces.  But I believe that they're on the right track and that a myriad of partnerships will be formed to most effectively capture new business and battle the globals.  However, ISVs (independent software vendors) have to walk a very fine line.  SIs need to carefully consider ISV responses and existing alliances.  See http://tinyurl.com/7xj82 .
     
    "Infosys to set up second outsourcing facility in China."  The article states that Infosys is running out of space in their Pudong facility and that they're scouting for additional digs.  Come on, guys, running out of space?  There's not enough space in the Shanghai Pudong Software Park?  I don't think so ...  The reality is that Infosys needs to find lower cost developers.  As my column on Shanghai for AO's "Letter from China" notes, developers in Shanghai are a bit pricey compared to other places in China.  Infosys China is primarily servicing their global customers in China and looking for high-end integration within the domestic market.  However, this is a tough nut to crack and Infosys will need another development center to lower their overall costs -- and this is why they are looking for additional space IN ANOTHER CITY.  The idea that they're running out of space in the SPSP is ridiculous.  (I've been to their Shanghai digs ...)  See http://tinyurl.com/6nz8d .
     
    Zensar gets broader press coverage.  Kind of like watching a meme, a couple of non-Indian IT trades have picked up the Zensar/Broadengate announcement.  See http://tinyurl.com/65afx and http://tinyurl.com/3jh2r .
     
    "Rethinking the business case for Java."  A good article.  Hmmm ... maybe not much of a case, eh?    Hey, I'm still a believer.  See http://tinyurl.com/5hbcn .  Of course, Java programming ain't what it used to be ...
     
    "The selling of SOA."  Two-part series in Line56.  SUPERB!!  (I prefer the singular to the plural, i.e., "architecture" versus "architectures"; personal preference.)  Reviews various viewpoints on SOA.  See http://tinyurl.com/6xqdn and http://tinyurl.com/6tw9o .
     
    Urls update.  Expect to see lots and lots of stuff on software engineering and development.  Great stuff, too!!  Later this week.
     
    Cheers,
     
    David Scott Lewis
    President & Principal Analyst
    IT E-Strategies, Inc.
    Menlo Park, CA & Qingdao, China
     
    http://www.itestrategies.com (current blog postings optimized for MSIE6.x)
    http://tinyurl.com/2r3pa (access to blog content archives in China)
    http://tinyurl.com/2azkh (current blog postings for viewing in other browsers and for access to blog content archives in the US & ROW)
    http://tinyurl.com/2hg2e (AvantGo channel)
     
     
    To automatically subscribe click on http://tinyurl.com/388yf .
     

              Comment on What Exactly is a “Reagan Democrat”? by Steve Deace, Rick Santorum, and the Reagan Democrat Zombie Apocalypse | Somebody's Gotta Say It...        
    […] plate of crow was delivered with gusto, complete with the link to his article and piggybacked with articles of, by, and about blue collar Reagan Democrats. He didn’t like it. Not one bit. A twitter storm on […]
              Comment on What Exactly is a “Reagan Democrat”? by Steve Deace and the Reagan Democrat Zombie Apocalypse | Somebody's Gotta Say It...        
    […] plate of crow was delivered with gusto, complete with the link to his article and piggybacked with articles of, by, and about blue collar Reagan Democrats. He didn’t like it. Not one bit. A twitter storm […]
              Motherhood and the Law of the Father in Nuruddin Farah's "Dictatorship" Trilogy        
    As many critics have noted, Naruddin Farah’s trilogy “Variations on the Theme of African Dictatorship” represents the patriarchal structure of the family as reinforcing the power of Somalia’s governmental regime under the General (a stand-in for the historical figure of Siad Barre, who led the Somali Democratic Republic from 1969 to 1991 as military dictator). Certainly, traditional gender roles that position the father/husband as the unqualified head of the family and his children/wives as powerless and therefore submissive to his commands map easily, according to Naruddin’s novels, onto the structure of a dictatorship, which situates one omniscient and all-powerful man above a citizenry at the mercy of his dictates and their often violent enforcement. I claim, however, that Naruddin also portrays motherhood, both as a familial position and a conceptual framework, as playing a crucial role in the maintenance of the General’s regime.

    The extent to which motherhood functions to underpin the oppressive Somali government is most fully explored in the first two novels of the trilogy: Sweet and Sour Milk (1979), which introduces this issue even in its metaphorically rich title, and Sardines (1981). The final novel in the series, Close Sesame (1983), sidelines the issue of motherhood in favor of a final look at the patriarchal family structure and its tribal counterpart, the traditional Somali clan system. I will therefore focus in this post on the first two novels. In Sweet and Sour Milk, Loyaan undertakes to determine the cause for the sudden death of Soyaan, his twin brother, which appears to have been ordered by the General in response to Soyaan’s subversive politics. The novel introduces a host of mother figures, including Loyaan and Soyaan’s mother, Qumman, who, out of fear for her children’s lives, discourages their political activism. The second novel centers on the strained relationship between Medina and Samater, who differ in their approaches to dealing with the General’s government and, by extension, the continued oppression and abuse of women and girls personified in Samater’s highly conservative mother, Idil. While Idil works to maintain the political and social status quo, Medina and other mothers throughout the novel offer us alternative approaches to motherhood. In both novels, mothers are depicted as subjugated to the rule of their husbands and the dictatorship, but they are also powerful in that they either visit—in true Kristevan fashion—the Law of the father upon their children or actively resist the rule of the patriarchal family and government structure.

    Although she recognizes that her son’s death was a work of foul play, Qumman insists on blaming other women—Soyaan’s mistress Margarita and her husband’s other wife Beynan, for instance—for his demise. In this way, she deflects responsibility for Soyaan’s murder from the oppressive military regime and—though unwittingly—reinforces the patriarchy’s conventional suspicion of women and breeds distrust within her own community of women. Fearful for her only remaining son’s life, Qumman also tries to prevent Loyaan from pursuing the truth or resisting the government in any way, hovering close to him during a communal “broom party” in an effort to ensure that he does not verbally or non-verbally challenge the officiating government personnel (212). As J.I. Okonkwo points out, “[T]hrough loyalty, service and emotional hold over sons and husbands, Qumman’s generation of women, deeply conservative, militate against individual freedom and progress” (219). We find another—perhaps more extreme and certainly more deliberate—example of this type of maternal control over the potential subversive acts of her children in Idil of Sardines. As I mentioned in a previous post on genital mutilation, Idil insists that she will have her granddaughter, Ubax, circumcised, even if it means that she has to steal the eight-year-old away from Medina and Samater. When Medina moves away with the young girl in an effort to escape Idil’s threat, Idil arranges for a more suitable—conservative and submissive—wife for Samater. Samater ultimately rejects both his mother and the new woman, forcing them to leave his house, but not without arousing the anger of the state.

    In fact, Samater’s decision to eject his mother from his home is treated as an act of treason. Samater is picked up by government officials, held in prison for a period of time, and subjected to various acts of torture before he is finally allowed to return to his wife and child. In this sequence of events, we see Idil the matriarch positioned as a representative of the General and his regime. An offense against Idil is perceived by the state as an offense against the General. In addition to a father-figure, then, the General becomes a mother-figure. A passage in the first novel of the trilogy describes the General and his dictatorship as taking on the role of both mother and father to the abandoned orphans of Somalia: “[A]ny unclaimed babies found in the city’s garbage bins or unpatrolled streets were trained to consider the General their father, his revolution their mother, and the regime’s generosities to them their breast-feed” (235). In fact, the novel’s very title, Sweet and Sour Milk, suggests both the role that women play in perpetuating the violence of the military regime through their efforts to protect their children and the ways in which the head of the state acts as a mother himself, indoctrinating his subjects into a harsh world by laying down the Law, his own law of fear and violence. Recurrent imagery in the novel depicts mothers nursing, refusing to nurse, unable to nurse, and weaning their children. I read these women as representative of the state—and the general himself. Together, they portray the General as an abusive mother. He suckles his citizenry in the rhetoric of equality and freedom and then abandons them to hunger and desperation, all in a careful plan to ensure their dependence on his random and infrequent acts of nurturance. In that they care for their children and then limit their children’s struggles against an oppressive government and in that they take on the symbolism of the state—which protects and kills at whim—conservative mothers in Farah’s trilogy raise their children on the sweet and sour milk of the first novel’s title.

    Not all mothers in Sweet and Sour Milk and Sardines reinforce the Law of the dictator, however. Especially in the figure of Medina, Farah offers us a woman who acts as a strong leader for the young women in her community and encourages both her surrogate and biological daughters to question the government and engage in political activism. Interestingly, though, in all of her zeal to teach her daughter to resist the General’s militaristic regime, Medina has to consciously work to avoid taking on the qualities of a dictator herself. Medina recalls at one point the words of her progressive father: “You must leave breathing-space in the architecture of your love; you must leave enough room for little Ubax to exercise her growing mind. You mustn’t indoctrinate, mustn’t brainwash her. Otherwise you become another dictator, trying to shape your child in your own image” (17). Even as Medina struggles against the General in her political life and her mother-in-law who represents the dictatorship in her personal life, she must proceed with caution in her relationship with her own daughter, for, as Derek Wright points out, “The freedom which Medina forces prematurely upon Ubax is at times almost as oppressive as the obedience Idil has forced upon Samater” (103). In this way, Farah again insists on the power of motherhood, a power that many women use to initiate their children into the way of the Law and that Medina must moderate in order to raise a free-thinking daughter.

    Because women (as mothers) are so potentially powerful in resisting the dictatorship, Farah situates their full freedom—from arranged marriage, circumcision, purdah, censorship, etc.—as crucial to the development of a just government in Somalia. In that they continue to suffer the terrorism and indoctrination inherent to a dictatorship, however, mothers in Farah’s novels often function to serve the state by teaching their children the Law that, ironically, oppresses them and also by serving as honored symbols of the dictatorship itself. It is in fact because Farah is so sensitive to the continued victimization of women and the political consequences of this victimization that popular and scholarly critics agree, as blogger The Activist Writer claims, for example, that he is one of Africa’s leading feminist authors.

    Bibliographic Notes: Those who have discussed the patriarchal family structure as reinforcing the General’s dictatorship include R. John Williams and Derek Wright. For further discussion of the significance of milk in Somali lore and tradition, see Abdourahman A. Waberi.

    Works Cited

    Farah, Nuruddin. Close Sesame. Saint Paul, MN: Greywolf P, 1983.

    ---. Sardines. Saint Paul, MN: Greywolf P, 1981.

    ---. Sweet and Sour Milk. Saint Paul, MN: Greywolf P, 1979.

    Okonkwo, J. I. “Nuruddin Farah and the Changing Roles of Women.” World Literature Today: A Literary Quarterly of the University of Oklahoma 58.2 (1984): 215-221.

    Waberi, Abdourahman A. “Organic Metaphor in Two Novels by Nuruddin Farah.” World Literature Today: A Literary Quarterly of the University of Oklahoma 72.4 (1998): 775-80.

    Williams, R. John. “'Doing History': Nuruddin Farah's Sweet and Sour Milk, Subaltern Studies, and the Postcolonial Trajectory of Science.” Research in African Literatures 37.4 (2006): 161-76.

    Wright, Derek. “Parents and Power in Nuruddin Farah's Dictatorship Trilogy.” Kunapipi 11.2 (1989): 94-106.
              Both the Left and the Right are at war with science        
    Michael Shermer on why neither side of the American political spectrum gets a pass when it comes to acceptance of science. Includes this interesting (and often overlooked) detail from recent national polls — 41 percent of Democrats are young-Earth Creationists.
              FT column: The Berlin Philharmonic orchestra finds harmony in democracy        

    The Berlin Philharmonic’s choice of Kirill Petrenko as its next chief conductor, succeeding Sir Simon Rattle, is less remarkable than the fact it made a decision at all. The 124-member orchestra, one of the world’s most democratic musical ventures, failed to do so in May despite 11 hours of debate and several ballots.

    Read more
              The Beckoning of Nuclear War        
    SUBHEAD: A glimpse of sanity, or simple pragmatism, is anathema to our "national security" managers.

    By John Pilger on 4 August 2017 for JohnPilger.com -
    (www.johnpilger.com/articles/on-the-beach-2017-the-beckoning-of-nuclear-war)

    [IB Publisher's note: As much as Trump may not wish a nuclear exchange with Russia, he seems quite amenable to turning North Korea into an ashtray. World War III may begin in  Guam and relay to Hawaii on its way  to the US mainland. Here in Hawaii it may mean Duck and Cover!]


    Image above: Detail of original paperback cover of Nevil Shute's 1957 novel "On the Beach". From (https://www.pinterest.com/pin/267542034087528868).

    In Nevil Shute's book "On the Beach" the US submarine captain says;
    "We've all got to die one day, some sooner and some later. The trouble always has been that you're never ready, because you don't know when it's coming. Well, now we do know and there's nothing to be done about it."
    He says he will be dead by September. It will take about a week to die, though no one can be sure. Animals live the longest.

    The war was over in a month. The United States, Russia and China were the protagonists. It is not clear if it was started by accident or mistake. There was no victor. The northern hemisphere is contaminated and lifeless now.

    A curtain of radioactivity is moving south towards Australia and New Zealand, southern Africa and South America. By September, the last cities, towns and villages will succumb. As in the north, most buildings will remain untouched, some illuminated by the last flickers of electric light.
    This is the way the world ends
    Not with a bang but a whimper

    These two lines from T.S. Eliot's poem The Hollow Men appear at the beginning of Nevil Shute's novel On the Beach, which left me close to tears. The endorsements on the cover said the same.

    Published in 1957 at the height of the Cold War when too many writers were silent or cowed, it is a masterpiece. At first the language suggests a genteel relic; yet nothing I have read on nuclear war is as unyielding in its warning. No book is more urgent.

    Some readers will remember the black and white Hollywood film starring Gregory Peck as the US Navy commander who takes his submarine to Australia to await the silent, formless spectre descending on the last of the living world.

    I read On the Beach for the first time the other day, finishing it as the US Congress passed a law to wage economic war on Russia, the world's second most lethal nuclear power.  There was no justification for this insane vote, except the promise of plunder.

    The "sanctions" are aimed at Europe, too, mainly Germany, which depends on Russian natural gas and on European companies that do legitimate business with Russia. In what passed for debate on Capitol Hill, the more garrulous senators left no doubt that the embargo was designed to force Europe to import expensive American gas.

    Their main aim seems to be war - real war. No provocation as extreme can suggest anything else. They seem to crave it, even though Americans have little idea what war is. The Civil War of 1861-5 was the last on their mainland. War is what the United States does to others.

    The only nation to have used nuclear weapons against human beings, they have since destroyed scores of governments, many of them democracies, and laid to waste whole societies - the million deaths in Iraq were a fraction of the carnage in Indo-China, which President Reagan called "a noble cause" and President Obama revised as the tragedy of an "exceptional people"He was not referring to the Vietnamese.

    Filming last year at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, I overheard a National Parks Service guide lecturing a school party of young teenagers. "Listen up," he said. "We lost 58,000 young soldiers in Vietnam, and they died defending your freedom."

    At a stroke, the truth was inverted. No freedom was defended. Freedom was destroyed. A peasant country was invaded and millions of its people were killed, maimed, dispossessed, poisoned; 60,000 of the invaders took their own lives. Listen up, indeed.

    A lobotomy is performed on each generation. Facts are removed. History is excised and replaced by what Time magazine calls "an eternal present".

    Harold Pinter described this as "manipulation of power worldwide, while masquerading as a force for universal good, a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis [which meant] that it never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was of no interest."

    Those who call themselves liberals or tendentiously "the left" are eager participants in this manipulation, and its brainwashing, which today revert to one name: Trump.

    Trump is mad, a fascist, a dupe of Russia. He is also a gift for "liberal brains pickled in the formaldehyde of identity politics", wrote Luciana Bohne memorably. The obsession with Trump the man - not Trump as a symptom and caricature of an enduring system - beckons great danger for all of us.

    While they pursue their fossilised anti-Russia agendas, narcissistic media such as the Washington Post, the BBC and the Guardian suppress the essence of the most important political story of our time as they warmonger on a scale I cannot remember in my lifetime.

    On 3 August, in contrast to the acreage the Guardian has given to drivel that the Russians conspired with Trump (reminiscent of the far-right smearing of John Kennedy as a "Soviet agent"), the paper buried, on page 16, news that the President of the United States was forced to sign a Congressional bill declaring economic war on Russia. Unlike every other Trump signing, this was conducted in virtual secrecy and attached with a caveat from Trump himself that it was "clearly unconstitutional".

    A coup against the man in the White House is under way. This is not because he is an odious human being, but because he has consistently made clear he does not want war with Russia.

    This glimpse of sanity, or simple pragmatism, is anathema to the "national security" managers who guard a system based on war, surveillance, armaments, threats and extreme capitalism. Martin Luther King called them "the greatest purveyors of violence in the world today".

    They have encircled Russia and China with missiles and a nuclear arsenal. They have used neo-Nazis to instal an unstable, aggressive regime on Russia's "borderland" - the way through which Hitler invaded, causing the deaths of 27 million people.  Their goal is to dismember the modern Russian Federation.

    In response, "partnership" is a word used incessantly by Vladimir Putin - anything, it seems, that might halt an evangelical drive to war in the United States. Incredulity in Russia may have now turned to fear and perhaps a certain resolution. The Russians almost certainly have war-gamed nuclear counter strikes. Air-raid drills are not uncommon. Their history tells them to get ready.

    The threat is simultaneous. Russia is first, China is next. The US has just completed a huge military exercise with Australia known as Talisman Sabre. They rehearsed a blockade of the Malacca Straits and the South China Sea, through which pass China's economic lifelines.

    The admiral commanding the US Pacific fleet said that, "if required", he would nuke China. That he would say such a thing publicly in the current perfidious atmosphere begins to make fact of Nevil Shute's fiction.

    None of this is considered news. No connection is made as the bloodfest of Passchendaele a century ago is remembered. Honest reporting is no longer welcome in much of the media. Windbags, known as pundits, dominate: editors are infotainment or party line managers. Where there was once sub-editing, there is the liberation of axe-grinding clichés. Those journalists who do not comply are defenestrated.

    The urgency has plenty of precedents. In my film, The Coming War on China, John Bordne, a member of a US Air Force missile combat crew based in Okinawa, Japan, describes how in 1962 - during the Cuban missile crisis - he and his colleagues were "told to launch all the missiles" from their silos.

    Nuclear armed, the missiles were aimed at both China and Russia. A junior officer questioned this, and the order was eventually rescinded - but only after they were issued with service revolvers and ordered to shoot at others in a missile crew if they did not "stand down".

    At the height of the Cold War, the anti-communist hysteria in the United States was such that US officials who were on official business in China were accused of treason and sacked. In 1957 - the year Shute wrote On the Beach - no official in the State Department could speak the language of the world's most populous nation. Mandarin speakers were purged under strictures now echoed in the Congressional bill that has just passed, aimed at Russia.

    The bill was bipartisan. There is no fundamental difference between Democrats and Republicans. The terms "left" and "right" are meaningless. Most of America's modern wars were started not by conservatives, but by liberal Democrats.

    When Obama left office, he presided over a record seven wars, including America's longest war and an unprecedented campaign of extrajudicial killings - murder - by drones.

    In his last year, according to a Council on Foreign Relations study, Obama, the "reluctant liberal warrior", dropped 26,171 bombs - three bombs every hour, 24 hours a day.  Having pledged to help "rid the world" of nuclear weapons, the Nobel Peace Laureate built more nuclear warheads than any president since the Cold War.

    Trump is a wimp by comparison. It was Obama - with his secretary of state Hillary Clinton at his side - who destroyed Libya as a modern state and launched the human stampede to Europe. At home, immigration groups knew him as the "deporter-in-chief".

    One of Obama's last acts as president was to sign a bill that handed a record $618billion to the Pentagon, reflecting the soaring ascendancy of fascist militarism in the governance of the United States. Trump has endorsed this.

    Buried in the detail was the establishment of a "Center for Information Analysis and Response". This is a ministry of truth. It is tasked with providing an "official narrative of facts" that will prepare us for the real possibility of nuclear war - if we allow it.


    Video above: "On the Beach" the complete 1959 movie from Nevil Shute's  novel. From (https://youtu.be/Ue8hC5qqMt4).

    .

              South Korea's stubborn peace effort        
    SUBHEAD: Peace movement refusing to give up is taking the long view of its campaign. 

    By Jon Letman on 4 August 2017 for Truth Out -
    (http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/41486-taking-the-long-view-why-south-korea-s-peace-movement-refuses-to-give-up)


    Image above: Jeong Young-hee is a Korean tangerine farmer in Gangjeong village on Jeju island. Like many residents, she strongly opposes the newly built South Korean naval base just two miles from her farm. Photo by Jon Letman. From original article.

    In August, 1945, as Japan smoldered in the ruins of war, the question of what would become of the Korean peninsula after 35 years of Japanese occupation and a Soviet army advancing southward spurred the hasty selection of an artificial division along the 38th parallel drawn by two American officials as a border between US and Soviet "zones of occupation."

    That line, never intended to be permanent, hardened like stubborn mud before the newly liberated Korea ever had the chance to form an independent, unified and democratic nation. Today 38°N still marks a potentially catastrophic flashpoint between North and South Korea.

    The DMZ -- demilitarized zone -- despite its name, is one of the most militarized places on the planet. This hyper-militarization, in fact, extends south across the peninsula and today, 64 years after an armistice halted (but never formally ended) the Korean war, South Korea remains peppered with scores of US military installations -- at least 80 by the Pentagon's own count.

    US bases, and the 28,500 US troops and joint military exercises they support, are not only opposed by North Korea; many South Koreans see them as a problematic construct that perpetuates the likelihood of war.

    Despite frequent media coverage of North Korea's highly choreographed military parades, increasing missile launches, and Kim Jong-un's threats to turn Seoul into a "sea of fire," far less attention is paid to South Korea's tireless, well-organized peace movement opposed to militarism on both sides of the DMZ.

    South Korean civil groups and NGOs like People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy and the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions are skilled at forming coalitions with peace activists and religious groups opposed to a military buildup, which they see as increasing tensions with the North and militarization across Northeast Asia.

    Your Old Farm Is Our New Base


    Image above: Candle light protests have been held outside the Seongju County office nightly since the deployment of the THAAD antimissile defense system was announced in July 2016. Photo by John Letman. From original article.

    With the bulk of US bases concentrated in and around Seoul and within range of North Korean artillery, the US is in the middle of a major realignment of its forces as it consolidates bases, moving tens of thousands of troops, their families and civilian contractors to US Army Garrison Humphreys in the city of Pyeongtaek, 40 miles south of Seoul.

    In 2002, when the US announced its plan to triple Humphreys in size, Pyeongtaek residents living around the base organized fierce protests that raged for five years.

    Thousands of police were deployed, citizens were arrested and villages were demolished. In the end, however, the base's walls were pushed outward, and Camp Humphreys grew from just over 1,000 acres to more than 3,400 acres, making it the US's largest overseas military base in the world.

    Now in the final years of construction, US Army Garrison Humphreys is equipped to serve as the new headquarters for the Eighth US Army and US Forces Korea command center.


    Image above: A representative of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions holds an anti-THAAD banner at a demonstration in Soseong-ri, Seongju County, South Korea. Photo by John Letman. From original article.

    The Humphreys expansion is slated for completion by 2020 and will eventually be home to up to 46,000 military and civilian personnel living and working behind razor wire-topped walls and gates.

    The $10.7 billion expansion, the US's largest-ever peacetime military construction project, is being paid for overwhelmingly (around 90 percent) by the South Korean government. In 2016, Gen. Vincent Brooks (now head of US Forces Korea) publicly stated that it's cheaper to station US troops in South Korea than in the United States.

    The Humphreys expansion does have supporters in the community, and many businesses have come to depend on the US military's presence.

    Pyeongtaek's city government, unable to refuse the influx of thousands of US forces, has done its best to promote Humphreys' expansion as an opportunity to court non-military business and infrastructure investment and push for internationalization through increased cultural exchanges with military personnel and their families.

    Still, many residents view the base as an unwelcome intrusion on Korean sovereignty and a source of crime, pollution and noise from military aircraft like F-16s, A-10 Thunderbolts, Chinook and Apache helicopters.


    Image above: Demonstrators march toward the former golf course in Seongju County where the controversial THAAD antimissile defense system is being deployed by the US. Photo by John Letman. From original article.

    Since 2002, Kang Song-won of the Pyeongtaek Peace Center has been working closely with residents from communities affected by Humphreys, particularly those who were forcibly relocated from the villages of Daechu-ri and Dodu-ri. Kang works with volunteers to monitor military incidents and accidents around the base.

    Beyond the noise and inherent danger, he told Truthout the most harmful impact of Humphreys' expansion has been the deep divisions sown in the community between base supporters and opponents.

    Giving up, however, is not an option. "Even though we lost the fight against the US military, I think it is still necessary to keep fighting ... against the problems of the US military base," Kang said.

    Island of Peace, Tides of War


    Image above: US Army Garrison Humphreys is a helicopter base in what will soon be the the United States' largest overseas military base. Just beyond the fence are small farming villages. Photo by John Letman. From original article.

    An hour's flight south of Seoul is sub-tropical Jeju island. Home to nine UNESCO Global Geoparks and a World Heritage site, the volcanic island is renowned for its natural beauty and biodiversity both on land and sea. Jeju has also been heavily developed for tourism. On the south coast, in Gangjeong village, is the site of a new Korean naval base.

    Muddying its primary purpose, the base is sometimes called the Jeju Multipurpose Port Complex and is touted as having a (future) dual civilian-military function, but for now it's strictly a Korean naval base and headquarters for the South Korean Navy's Mobile Task Force Flotilla-7, which includes Aegis warfare destroyers, KDX III helicopter destroyers and a submarine force command.

    Like the expansion of Camp Humphreys, the 2007 announcement of the Jeju naval base sparked widespread outcry from residents opposed to the militarization of what was dubbed "Island of Peace" in recognition of Jeju's horrific April 3 massacre (1947-54).

    In that massacre, as many as 30,000 island residents were killed by Korean forces over a seven-year period beginning in 1947 during the US military administration that occupied the southern part of the Korean peninsula immediately after the August 1945 defeat of Japan.

    As in Pyeongtaek, Jeju base protesters clashed with the police for years. Base opponents, including the former mayor, were arrested and heavily fined but in the end, the base was built.


    Image above: Many of the residents protesting against the deployment of the THAAD antimissile defense system are elderly farmers who don't want their remote mountain village to be militarized. Photo by John Letman. From original article.

    Tangerine farmers Jeong Young-hee and her husband Kang Sung-won have been growing Jeju's famous citrus varieties for 30 years in greenhouses less than two miles from the base. Young-hee and Sung-won are concerned about the environmental impact of the base, especially the effects on the sea -- including soft corals, sea urchins, abalone and other marine life -- and the destruction of what was a sacred lava rock coastal field called Gureombi.

    Construction on the base is not yet complete. Young-hee and Sung-won worry that as it grows, if a future exclusion zone (a zone that would restrict new construction) is declared, it would surround their farm, almost certainly driving down land values.

    Peeling one of her sweet hallabong oranges, Young-hee explains how the base has caused a rift between friends and family members. The base has also divided many citrus farmers and Jeju's famous Haenyeo free divers. "Our relationship was destroyed," says Young-hee, who joined her male counterparts in shaving her head as a gesture of protest against the base.


    Image above: Retired Catholic priest Father Mun Jeong-hyeon holds a daily mass along along a roadside site that doubles as a protest against the Jeju naval base in Gangjeong village, Jeju island. Photo by John Letman. From original article.

    In the early days of the struggle, when base opponents pointed fingers at the US accusing it of pressuring South Korea (also known as the Republic of Korea), South Korean officials denied that the base would permanently host US warships.

    This year, in March and June, US warships made their first visits to the Jeju base with short, inconspicuous port calls similar to what was recommended in a 2013 US Army War College strategy research project. Last January, US Pacific Command's Adm. Harry Harris suggested the possibility of deploying the US's newest, most lethal stealth destroyer, the USS Zumwalt to Jeju waters.

    The Jeju navy base became operational in February 2016. Resistance continues daily, with activists gathering each morning in front of the entry gate to perform one hundred bows as a nonviolent, meditative protest.

    Nearby, in a roadside tent chapel, retired Catholic priest Father Mun Jeong-hyeon leads a daily mass, before joining protesters who gather with flags and banners playing raucous music outside the base.

    The mood of the protesters is defiant and the message is serious: they want a shift away from militarization of the Korean peninsula and northeast Asia.

    This week (July 30-August 5), for the eighth year since 2008, apeace march is underway, in which activists are walking from the Jeju naval base around the island to raise awareness of the continuing struggle and to call for peace.

    In Defense of Who?


    Image above: Guards look out from behind a razor wire fence surrounded the new South Korean naval base on Jeju island, South Korea. Photo by John Letman. From original article.

    South Korea's latest struggle against militarization began in July 2016 in rural, traditionally conservative Seongju County 135 miles south of Seoul.

    Residents of Seongju and neighboring Gimcheon were caught off guard when the central government, under deposed President Park Geun-hye, offered Seongju to the US as a location for the US antimissile defense Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system.

    For more than a year since that announcement, daily protests have been taking place in Seongju and elsewhere around the country. In June, an anti-THAAD protest of several thousand people briefly and peacefully surrounded the US embassy in Seoul.

    THAAD manufacturer Lockheed Martin says the system is intended to defend "US troops, allied forces, population centers and critical infrastructure against short and medium range ballistic missiles."

    Seongju residents and Koreans across the country, however, recite a litany of reasons they are opposed to THAAD, from environmental and health concerns to the lack of a democratic process to ever-increasing deployment of foreign weapons, as well as economic repercussions and tension with its neighbors China and Russia.


    Image above: Korean Army personnel stand guard at the Demilitarized Zone/Joint Security Area outside the Military Armistice Commission buildings along the tense border. Photo by John Letman. From original article.

    Two weeks before South Korea's snap election on May 9 this year, the US, citing North Korean threats, hurriedly began the deployment of THAAD in what had been a golf course outside a small village called Soseong-ri.

    When South Korea's newly elected President Moon Jae-in learned that his own Ministry of Defense had failed to notify him of the presence of an additional four THAAD launchers, Moon called for a temporary suspension of THAAD to conduct an environmental assessment.

    That suspension, however, is being reevaluated now as South Korea considers deploying additional launchers in response to a North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile test last week.

    Like other aspects of the military alliance between the US and South Korea, THAAD is supported by some South Koreans and reviled by others. And like the communities in Gangjeong village on Jeju and Pyeongtaek near Seoul, the people of Seongju and Gimcheon are divided.

    Speaking at a candlelight vigil outside the Seongju County government office on May 30, three local women were eager to share their thoughts with Americans.

    On this 310th day of consecutive protests, the women told Truthout they wanted their lives back the way they were before THAAD.

    They said their community was being torn apart -- even relations between parents and children were being strained by strong disagreements over THAAD.

    Some of their neighbors have given up opposition to THAAD, either accepting it as unavoidable or simply focusing on other matters.

    These women, however, refuse to give up and say they feel a responsibility to attend nightly demonstrations against THAAD. They also admit feeling a growing resentment toward what they see as an unequal alliance.

    "We are starting to have anti-American sentiments even though we don't hate Americans," a woman who identified herself as Mrs. Kim said.

    "To be honest, I want the US military to go home," said a second woman, who also goes by the name Mrs. Kim, adding the English phrase, "Yankee, go home."

    The Truth Is Very Powerful


    Image above: Demonstrators perform 100 bows for peace six days a week as a protest against the South Korean Jeju naval base in Gangjeong village, Jeju island. Photo by John Letman. From original article.

    Even as new bases are built, old bases expanded and more weapons imported, what fuels South Korean peace movements in the face of overwhelming power?

    In Seoul, Jungmin Choi who works with Durebang (My Sister's Place), an NGO that provides counseling to foreign women working in bars and clubs near US bases, says those women are living witnesses to the impact of military bases.

    Choi calls the impacts of the bases "indescribably huge" and both tangible and intangible, but insists, "we believe this fight cannot be defeated … we will fight in a creative way with a long-term view."

    On the other side of the country, Jeju base opponent Choi Sung-hee says that even though the Jeju base is operational and US warships have started visiting, the protests must continue.

    Not only does the military know it is being watched, but protests build solidarity with other anti-base movements across South Korea and internationally, in places like Okinawa, Guam, the Philippines and Hawaii, particularly among women.


    Image above: A protester is blocked by a security guard as he sits in silent protest outside the entry to the South Korean naval base on Jeju island. Photo by John Letman. From original article.

    "That's the role of people ... we should constantly demand: we do not need arms, we do not need THAAD, we do not need more military bases," Choi says. "If the people's movement is strong, I think it can also influence the decisions of the South Korean president."

    Nearby, in the St. Francis Peace Center, Father Mun carves messages of peace into wooden boards after each morning's protest. Nearly 80 years old, Father Mun has been a peace activist for decades in Pyeongtaek, on Jeju and elsewhere acting, in his words, as "a witness for truth."

    When asked why he continues to resist in the face of overwhelming power, Father Mun declared, "The truth cannot be thrown away. The truth will stand up some day. The truth is very powerful. So, I believe the truth is going to win all enemies."

    .

              Fascism and the Denial of Truth        
    SUBHEAD: Party polarization and gridlock in the US have created unsolved issues amenable to a Trump demagogue.

    By Thomas Scott on 30 July 2017 for Truth Out  -
    (http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/41423-fascism-and-the-denial-of-truth-what-henry-wallace-can-teach-us-about-trump)


    Image above: Cover art for song release of "Demagogue" by Franz Ferdinand. From (https://rateyourmusic.com/release/single/franz-ferdinand/demagogue/).

    What is a fascist? How many fascists have we? How dangerous are they? These are the questions that the New York Times posed to Henry A. Wallace, Franklin Roosevelt's vice president, in April 1944.

    In response, Wallace wrote "The Danger of American Fascism," an essay in which he suggested that the number of American fascists and the threat they posed were directly connected to how fascism was defined.

    Wallace pointed out that several personality traits characterized fascist belief, arguing that a fascist is;
    "one whose lust for money and power is combined with such an intensity of intolerance toward those of other races, parties, classes, religions, cultures, regions or nations as to make him ruthless in his use of deceit or violence to attain his ends."
    Wallace also claimed that fascists "always and everywhere can be identified by their appeal to prejudice and by the desire to play upon the fears and vanities of different groups in order to gain power."

    Fascists are "easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact" (my italics), he contended.

    Moreover, Wallace noted that fascists "pay lip service to democracy and the common welfare" and they "surreptitiously evade the laws designed to safeguard the public from monopolistic extortion."

    Finally, Wallace identified that fascists' primary objective was to "capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they keep the common man in eternal subjection."

    Wallace was writing in the context of an existential threat to democracy posed by Nazi Germany, Italy and Japan.

    However, his essay is prescient in that he identified the existence of a domestic form of American fascism that emerged from the political context of enlightened thought, rule of law and limited government. Wallace drew a clear distinction between European fascism and the kind of fascism found in the United States.

    Rather than resort to overt violence, American fascists would "poison the channels of public information," Wallace reasoned. Likewise, he argued that American fascism was generally inert, not having reached the level of overt threat that it had reached in Europe.

    Despite this, Wallace argued that American fascism had the potential to become dangerous to democracy under that appropriate context; one in which a "purposeful coalition" emerges based on "demagoguery."

    British historian Karl Polanyi has written in his seminal book, The Great Transformation, that fascism can emerge in a society in reaction to "unsolved national issues."

    Party polarization and gridlock in the US have created unsolved issues concerning health care, immigration reform and the "war on terror." These volatile issues, in turn, have created the perfect political context for a demagogue to emerge in the United States.

    With the election of Donald Trump, the purposeful coalition Wallace feared may have evolved. Trump is the first US president who has been seriously associated with fascist ideology.

    His coalition of white supremacists, xenophobes, plutocratic oligarchs and disaffected members of the working class have aligned with the mainstream Republican Party.

    The coalition's political philosophy, rooted in reactionary populism and "American First" sloganeering, has quickly led to the United States' systematic withdrawal from global leadership.

    Coupled with a disdain for multilateral collaboration, a rejection of globalization, and a focus on militarism and economic nationalism, Trumpism has taken the country down the perilous path of national chauvinism reminiscent of previous fascist states like Spain under Franco, Portugal under Salazar, or Peronist Argentina.

    Unlike past Republican and Democratic presidents, Trump has disregarded long-standing traditions related to political protocol and decorum in the realm of political communication. He routinely makes unsubstantiated claims about political rivals, questioning their veracity and ethics.

    Trump's claim that the Obama administration wiretapped his phones during the 2016 campaign and that Obama refused to take action regarding Russian meddling in the 2016 election, as well as Trump's incendiary tweets about federal judges who ruled against his executive orders on immigration, suggest a sense of paranoia commonly associated with autocrats.

    Trump has demonstrated a fundamental ignorance of democratic institutions associated with the rule of law, checks and balances, and the separation of powers.

    Common to autocratic leaders, Trump sees executive power as absolute and seems confounded when the legislative or judicial branches of government question his decisions.

    Trump has seemed willing to ignore norms that are fundamentally aligned with US democracy: equality before the law, freedom of the press, individual rights, due process and inclusiveness.

    Typical of all autocratic leaders, Trump has a deep-seated distrust of the media. Calling journalists "enemies of the people," Trump's incessant claims that media outlets like the New York Times and the Washington Post create "fake news" is a common attribute of authoritarian regimes.

    In response to investigative reports that are critical of his administration, Trump engages in systematic tactics of disinformation. Trump has refined the art of evasion through communicating a multiplicity of falsehoods as a means of obfuscating charges of abuse of power and political misconduct.

    The biggest dilemma for an autocrat is confronting the truth. Systematic strategies to implant misinformation have historically provided significant political dividends for demagogues.

    From Trump's earliest forays in national politics, the truth was his biggest enemy.

    Trump discovered in the 2016 campaign that the perpetuation of lies and deceit could be converted into political capital. Lying on issues actually generated support from Trump's political base, many of whom were low-information voters.

    The hope by many that Trump would conform to traditional political norms once elected proved to be a chimera. Trump has obliterated the Orwellian dictum that lies are truth; in Trump's worldview, truth does not exist. It is seen as a political liability.

    As president, the debasement of truth has become an important political strategy shaping much of his communication to the American public.

    Purposeful deceit has become one of the primary means by which Trump energizes and excites his supporters. It is the catalyst that drives their emotional connection to Trump, who is insistent on "telling it like it is" and fighting for "the people" as a challenge to the political elite.

    For Trump, facts mean nothing. They are contrary to the desires of his political base. Connecting to his base is visceral; intellectualism is the antithesis of Trump's immediate political objectives.

    By denying the existence of truth-based politics, Trump solidifies his populist vision and perpetuates one of fascism's greatest mechanisms for acquiring absolute power: the force of emotion conquering the force of reason.

    As Timothy Snyder states in his insightful book On Tyranny, "To abandon facts is to abandon freedom.

    If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so."

    Seen in this light, empirical evidence based on scientific investigation is superfluous; public policy is only useful when it is connected to human emotion and desire.

    This is all that matters in Trump's vision for the US. As such, facts and scientific research are a ruse, a tool of the elite designed to consolidate power over "the people" and discredit Trump's "America First" policies.

    Truth is a necessity for democracy because citizens depend on truth-based decision-making to achieve reasoned judgments about public policy. In the Trump administration, the eradication of fact-based communication has normalized the denial of truth.

    As a result, democracy is clearly under siege. Henry Giroux makes an excellent argument when he writes, "normalization is code for retreat from any sense of moral or political responsibility, and it should be viewed as an act of political complicity with authoritarianism and condemned outright."

    All Americans should take heed of this point. History has provided ample evidence of how institutional and civic complicity with autocratic rule erodes democracy.

    However, history has also demonstrated how engaged citizens can mobilize to resist this erosion.

    ]As Snyder argues, in order to confront autocracy, citizens need to become aware that democracy can disappear and mobilize to stop such a disastrous turn of events. In the age of Trump, there is no time for complacency.

    .

              Do you feel Capitalism dying?        
    SUBHEAD: We need to develop the fortitude and skills needed for the future that is coming at us.

    By Joe Brewer on 24 July 2017 for Medium -
    (https://medium.com/@joe_brewer/do-you-still-feel-capitalism-dying-c487b89c42ca)


    Image above: A sign about "Capitalism" in Westminister Square with the Tower of London at British Parlement in the background. From (https://medium.com/@discomfiting/kill-capitalism-before-it-kills-us-fe23d10f6243).

    Can you feel capitalism dying around you? There is a mental disease of late-stage capitalism causing deep worry and anxiety, prompting feelings of severe isolation and humiliation, combined with a profound sense of powerlessness for millions of people around the world.

    The question I ask today is What are YOU going to do about it?

    The feeling bubbles up when students graduate from college with mountains of debt and few prospects for meaningful work. It spreads across cities where housing prices are skyrocketing and a giant financial chasm exists between owners and renters of residential property. And it aches in the spiraling decay of exploited ecosystems as they unravel after decades (or centuries) of pillaging industries waging war on nature.

    There is a reason only 5 men have the same aggregate wealth as half the human population. And that the Earth’s climate is ramping up for a phase transition that threatens our entire civilization. It is because a Global Architecture of Wealth Extraction has been carefully built up in the last five hundred years to produce exactly these outcomes.

    And it is causing millions of people to feel a malaise of loneliness and quiet desperation that tickles at the edge of their tongues — yet they don’t quite know what to call it.

    I’ve called it late-stage capitalism and this resonated with hundreds of thousands when I wrote about it last year. The depth and tenor of this resonance revealed that these feelings are truly widespread and the currents run deep within our veins.

    So what are we going to do with these feelings? Some tens of millions of Americans decided to elect President Trump last year. They had fallen victim to a sophisticated information war that functions as a kind of political mind control.

    Too few among them were able to discern what is really going on and now they are emotionally manipulated pawns in the end game for a small cohort of super-elites.

    This is not an acceptable place to direct the feelings we have about the death of capitalism. It will only accelerate us on the path to planetary-scale collapse that we need to reckon with in our lifetimes.

    Instead — if we can develop the fortitude and skills — we need to direct these feelings toward the much more productive path of learning how to design cultural change.

    You see, it has been our inability to collectively set intentions that enabled elite groups to divide-and-conquer us in these times of mass confusion, hardship, and despair.

    We need to recognize that the real state of power is culture and learn how to wield this power the way our ancestors once did.

    Anthropologists who study hunter-gatherer societies have long known that they are all egalitarian.

    Bullies and dictators were not able to rise up and boss people around because the group sanctioned against it.

    They did this through a combination of shaming and ostracism, or in extreme cases they resorted to expulsion or execution. But they were able to keep the bullies in check becaus;
    1. everyone knew everyone else in these small bands of people and
    2. relationships of trust were robust enough to navigate conflicts and cooperate effectively against individuals who might be stronger or more skilled at hunting than any one person on their own.
    We now have a vast digital infrastructure — the internet plus cell phones and satellite communication systems — that make it possible for the first time since the birth of civilizations to coordinate with transparency and trust at larger scales of society.

    Yet we remain divided into political tribes, fighting amongst each other at the beckoning of those who set the terms of debate.

    Are you a Democrat or Republican? Socialist or Capitalist?

    A person of color or a beneficiary of white privilege? Categories of division such as these may have important realities embedded within them but none gets at the root issue that defines these times.

    We are in a deep crisis that is carrying us all on the path toward extinction. We must learn to rise above our labels of separation and remember that everything is connected. Only then can we be seeds of transformation in a world where most of our stories are breaking down.

    So I call upon you to name your feelings of angst and powerlessness.

    Recognize that you are living through the death of a capitalist system that has brought our entire civilization to the brink of ruin.

    Learn how to design for change in a world where only through a paradigm shift in values and behaviors will it be possible to navigate our way toward planetary resilience in the decades ahead.

    We can get to the future we all want but only when we realize that it is our power to create cultural mythologies that has blinded us to our place within a world barreling toward humanity’s end.

    This power must now be employed in service of life, compassion, humility, and care for the living world. These are dangerous times and our actions matter more than most of us are ready to realize.

    Take hold of your feelings and direct them toward life, healing, and regeneration of our broken world.

    We owe it to ourselves. We owe it to our children, born and unborn.

    And we owe it to the many other species whose very existence are now in jeopardy because an arrogant myth of human superiority has driven us to soil the beds we must sleep in as members of the natural world ourselves.

    Time is short and there is much work to be done.

    Onward, fellow humans.

    .

              Review of 'Dangerous Years'        
    SUBHEAD: David W. Orr he demolishes the lies of climate crisis denial, and a  minimalist response to this emergency.

    By Gene Marshall on 28 July 2017 in Resilience -
    (http://www.resilience.org/stories/2017-07-28/dangerous-years-a-conversation-with-david-orr/)


    Image above: Apocalyptic vision of buildings sinking into landscape. From original article.

    [Resilience Editor's note: This piece was originally published in the Realistic Living newsletter. More information about the work of Realistic Living can be found on their website.

    I started to write a brief review of David W. Orr’s 2016 book Dangerous Years: Climate Change, the Long Emergency, and the Way Forward. I found, however, that a longer “essay” was what I felt called to write.

    Orr’s book is the best thing I have read on the overall social-change challenges of this century. I am ranking this book, along with the Bible, as something to read over and over for the rest of my life. I recommend that you buy a hard copy, and wear it out over the next decade.

    The social content of this book is broad, deep, and on target, and Orr’s prose reads like poetry. His choice of words is beautiful, gripping, and often funny. I am going to quote some examples for you to taste.

    First of all, he demolishes the lies of climate crisis denial, as well as the lies of minimalist response to this emergency:

    Nearly everything on Earth behaves or works differently at higher temperatures. Ecologies collapse, forests burn, metals expand, concrete runways buckle, rivers dry up, cooling towers fail, and people curse, kill, and terrorize more easily. Climate deniers . . . are doomed to roughly the same status as, say, members of the Flat Earth Society. page 25

    The solutions Orr develops begin with a shift in the human will or heart, then move on to a shift in the human mind, and end with real-world, down-and-dirty, power-politics, as well as the year-in-and-year-out local tasks of reconstruction. Here is a quote about the educational care of our social minds:
    We would be embarrassed to graduate students who could neither read nor count.  We should be mortified, then, to graduate students who are ecologically illiterate—clueless about the basics of ecology, energetics, systems dynamics—the bedrock conditions for civilization and human life.  page 110
    Orr prepares our awakening “hearts,” “wills,” and “minds” for our real-world politics with sentences like these:
    And there will be no Deus ex machina, or cavalry, or invisible hand, or miracle technological breakthrough that will rescue us in the nick of time.  It will be up to us to change the odds and the outcomes on our own.  page 144
    The next passage I will be reading aloud in my speeches. It is a gem that notices the spirit depth of our call to action:
    If humanity is to have a better future it will be a more “empathic civilization,” one better balanced between our most competitive, hard-driving selves and our most harmonious, altruistic traits; one that embraces the yin-yang poles of behavior.  It must be a change sufficiently global to bridge the chasms of ethnicity, gender, religion, nationality, and politics and deep enough to shift perceptions, behaviors, and values. The change must enable people to grow from a “having” orientation to a “being” orientation to the world.  It must deepen our appreciation, affiliation, and competence with the natural world, albeit a natural world undergoing accelerating changes.

    I do not think, however, that we can simply will ourselves to that empathic new world.  The transition will result from social movements, activism, education, and political changes.  But there is always an X-factor, an inexplicable process of metanoia, a word meaning “penitence; a reorientation of one’s way of life; spiritual conversion.”  It is a change of inner sight.  “I once was blind, but now I see” as the former slave trader John Newton wrote in the hymn “Amazing Grace.”  Metanoia is liberation from bondage—physical, mental, emotional—a total change of perspective. pages 147-8
    I view the core of the revolution for a next Christianity to be the creation of metanoia circles, small groupings of people in which our deepest humanness can be nurtured on a regular basis and our compassion and persistence prepared for our wide-world responsibilities.

    Orr pictures the role of politics as a “long revolution.” We now need more than small teams and edge movements: we need large structures of action that year-in-and-year-out for decades do all the little and big things that need to be done for this huge transition.

    Orr works through our core challenges with thorough analysis and inspiring description of practical options. He also continues to indicate the spirit courage and persistence it is going to take. He deals with sustainable democracy, ecological design, hotter cities, systemic thinking, a new agriculture, and much more.

    Orr concludes his book with a description of the Oberlin Project—a multi-committee, local project of community-renewal organized by Orr and others, in Orr’s Oberlin, Ohio home town. He pictures the kind of things that the co-pastors of future Christian Resurgence Circles might envision for their quality action in their local parishes of responsibility. Here is a quote taken from that final chapter:
    We need people who make charity and civility the norm.  We need more parks, farmers’ markets, bike trails, baseball teams, book groups, poetry readings, good coffee, conviviality, practical competence, and communities where the word “neighbor” is a verb, not a noun.  We need people who know and love this place and see it whole and see it for what it can be. page 227
    Orr is also clear that we need people who lead the global level responses to the climate crisis, economic equity, democratization, campaign financing, racism, sexism, and more.

    • Gene Marshall has a long history of participation in Christian renewal and interreligious dialogue. In 1952 he made a decision to leave a mathematics career and attend seminary at Perkins School of Theology in Dallas, Texas. In 1962 he joined a religious order of families, the Order Ecumenical, and became a teacher and lecturer of Spirit topics.
    .

              House Stimulus vs. Senate Stimulus At A Glance        
    Propublica has a fantastic side-by-side comparison of the original House stimulus bill and the abortion produced by the Senate "compromise."

    Short version: to give big corporate welfare "tax cut" handouts to Big Oil, Big Coal, Big Pharma, Big Banks, Wall Street and all the other rich people who have been fucking over the middle class for the last thirty years, the Cowardly Democrats in the Senate agreed to make huge cuts in anything and everything that creates jobs by helping working families, including:

    aid to states, health care, education grants, repairing and building schools, repairing and building roads, public transportation, renewable energy research, unemployment insurance, repairing the electric grid, improving water and sewer lines, affordable housing, mortgage relief, expanding broadband access, etc., etc., etc., ad nauseum.

    If you're not so rich that a global economic meltdown won't affect you, then you need to email or call your Congressional representatives right now and tell them to support restoring the House stimulus bill.

    Click here for a quick way to send an email to your representatives, even if all you know is your zip code.

    All that's at stake is your job, your house, your kids' future, and, you know, the world.
              New GOP Rules for Discussing the President        
    We're still trying to get used to the idea of Democratic nominee Barack Obama actually being President of the United States.

    To help us get acclimated, the wingnut freakazoids have kindly provided criticism that follows the new GOP Rules for Discussing the President. Steve Benen explains.

    DEPT. OF POTS AND KETTLES.... Either the president's conservative critics have very short memories, or they assume we do.

    SNIP

    The irony is almost overwhelming. A loyal Bushie, who heard his boss spend years engaging in shameless demagoguery (see "clouds, mushroom" and "uranium, from Africa") based on nothing but neocon fantasies, believes presidents have to keep their rhetoric in check and never forget to be "truthful." Sure, Blakeman, tell us another one.

    Keep in mind, Obama's dire warnings about the economy are well grounded in reality. It's not "insane" to fear an economic collapse given the situation we're in. The president has a choice -- pretend the news isn't scary, or give honest assessments while vowing to act. Bush preferred the prior approach; Obama prefers the latter.

    What's more, have you noticed the bizarre double-standards we've seen emerge in recent weeks?

    When Bush uses over-the-top language to convince Americans about perceived security threat, he's being "presidential." When Obama issues dire warnings about the economy, he's being "pessimistic."

    When Bush ignores the congressional minority, he's being "principled." When Obama engages the congressional minority but declines to give them what they want, he's being "partisan."

    When Bush trashes constitutional norms, it's evidence of "seriousness." When Obama is in the Oval Office without a jacket, he's being "disrespectful to the presidency."

    When liberals criticize Bush during a crisis, they're traitors who are aiding and abetting the enemy. When conservatives criticize Obama during a crisis, they are doing their patriotic duty.

    Good to know.

              "It's Not A Game!"        
    As Josh says, this is "Exactly the case he needs to be making on TV and in some events around the country."



    Here's the full speech.

    Here's the transcript.
              Why the Senate Must Pass the Stimulus Bill        
    First, check out USAToday's interactive map of how President Obama's stimulus bill will help your state.

    Then, watch TPM's interview with an expert who explodes the repug lies about the bill containing too much spending.

    There is so much fog and uncertainty -- much of it intentionally injected into the debate -- about the different moving parts of the Stimulus Bill. But some of the broad outlines are arresting and straightforward.

    We're hearing all this talk about the staggering size of the bill. And it is a staggering amount of money. But according to Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the amount of demand that the financial crisis is pulling out the economy is likely to be between $1.1 and $1.2 trillion this year (and that is not a controversial estimate). The Stimulus Bill (which, remember, is $800+ billion over two years) would try to compensate for that drop off with about $400 billion of spending and tax cuts. How efficiently the money is spent, how quickly and so forth -- all very good questions. But judged in these terms you start to see how the real question is whether any bill of that size is enough.
    David Kurtz and Baker discuss the issue in today's episode of TPMtv.


    And finally, read Bob Herbert on the danger of not putting enough money into infrastructure projects immediately.

    We have infrastructure spending in the Democrats' proposed stimulus package that, while admirable, is far too meager to have much of an impact on the nation's overall infrastructure requirements or the demand for the creation of jobs.

    SNIP

    The big danger is that some variation of the currently proposed stimulus package will pass, another enormous bailout for the bankers will be authorized, and then the trillion-dollar-plus budget deficits will make their appearance, looming like unholy monsters over everything else, and Washington will suddenly lose its nerve.

    The mantra (I can hear it now) will be that we can't afford to spend any more money on the infrastructure, or on a big health care initiative, or any of the nation's other crying needs. Suddenly fiscal discipline will be the order of the day and the people who are suffering now will suffer more, and the nation's long-term prospects will be further damaged as its long-term needs continue to be neglected.

    We no longer seem to learn much from history. Time and again an economic boom has followed a period of sustained infrastructure investment. Think of the building of the Erie Canal, which connected the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. Think of the rural electrification program, the interstate highway system, the creation of the Internet.

    We're suffering now from both a failure of will and of imagination. I remember the financier Felix Rohatyn telling me, "A modern economy needs a modern platform, and that's the infrastructure."

    History tells us the same thing.

    And if you're still not persuaded, consider this: Mitch McConnell would give his left nut to kill the stimulus. What more reason do you need to support it?

    Cross-posted at Blue in the Bluegrass.

              KY Ice Storm: 769,000 Without Power, 25 Dead, $50 Million Spent        
    RDemocrat at BlueGrassRoots reminds us that when you want visual evidence of what's going on in Kentucky, the Hillbilly's got it.

    Jim Pence is one of the finest Progressives we have here in Kentucky. For quite some time now I have gone to his site, and his YouTube feed and laughed endlessly at some of the most creative political vids made in this whole country. His contributions to Democratic candidates, and the Democratic blogosphere in Kentucky have been immense.

    However, I think this time he has even outdone himself. After getting my internet back up, I have been several places trying to get news on the tragedy here in Kentucky, and made my customary stop into hillbillyreport to check on what Jim had.

    What I found was quite frankly the finest coverage available on the internet about the human aspect of this monumental event, and how it effected thousands of Kentuckians.

    According to the Kentucky Public Service Commission, last week 769,353 Kentucky households and businesses suffered power failures.

    At the peak of last week's massive ice storm, more than one-third of Kentucky electric customers were without power, according to new figures compiled by the Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC).

    Information gathered from all electric providers in the state show that 769,353 customers were without power at the worst of the storm, late on January 29. Kentucky has about 2.2 million electric customers. The outage affected 35.7 percent of them.
    "These numbers simply bring into sharper focus what we already knew," Governor Steve Beshear said. "This is the worst disruption of essential services on record in Kentucky."

    As of early today, 208,335 Kentucky customers remain without power.

    But the real story is at the Hillbilly's place. Check it out.

    Cross-posted at They Gave Us A Republic ....
              Progressive Progress in the Economic Stimulus        
    As the Senate girds for battle over the repug-sabotaged economic stimulus, Talking Points Memo brings us a reminder of the progressive priorities that made it into the House bill and deserve saving in the Senate.

    The Congressional Progressive Caucus just released a memo that offers a worthy counterpoint to our discussions today about the Republicans' baldly misleading message on the stimulus.

    The Progressives have rounded up elements of their proposed $1 trillion stimulus that ended up making it into the Democratic leaders' final bill, in part or in whole. It's a list that's worth remembering while tax cuts seemingly dominate the airwaves.

    The highlights of the memo are after the jump:

    • Unemployment benefits (UI) extension. Cost = at least $12.7 billion

    • Anti-hunger provisions

    * SNAP - 20% temporary increase in maximum food stamp level above the FY2009 level for two years. Cost = approximately $24 billion and increase in funds for state food stamp administrative costs Cost= $250 million;

    * WIC - increase funding to make up for shortfall not covered in the current Continuing Resolution. Cost = $450 million and increases for management information system and related infrastructure improvements. Cost = $50 million;

    * School meals - provide a 15% increase in funding for breakfast and school lunch programs. Cost = $1 billion;

    • Medicaid payments to states (FMAP). Cost = at least $15 billion

    • LIHEAP assistance to provide low-income Americans relief from higher energy costs. Cost = at least $5 billion

    • Job creation via down payment on rebuilding America's infrastructure and schools, starting with massive investment in commercialization of green technologies and related job training that promote environmental protection and energy independence. Cost = at least $100 billion

    ** In general:

    • No funds for Iraq or Afghanistan wars and no funds for defense procurement.

    • Prevailing wage to be paid for jobs created and upholding of Davis-Bacon Act

    These are, of course, just a downpayment on the long list of repairs to the New Deal and Great Society needed after three decades of repug destruction.

    But if these provisions remain in the final bill and President Obama signs it by Darwin Day, then I'd say we're well on our way to recovery.

              Some Bucking Up For Us Hand-Wringers        
    Bob Cesca at HuffPo reminds us that the repug rejection of the stimulus bill isn't the first time Barack Obama has seemed defeated, only to come roaring back in victory, and it probably won't be the last.

    There's a killer web graphic that was created back in the post-Republican Convention days while everyone was writing spasmodic, breathless "Obama should [fill in the blank]" blog entries and "Oh crap! We're gonna lose!" newspaper columns.


    SNIP

    The web graphic is actually a photograph of Barack Obama from his Invesco Field acceptance speech. In it, he's looking directly into the camera with an expression of fierce determination on his face -- his teeth gnashed in an Eastwood snarl, his left hand gesturing as though he's kung fu fighting his way through an oversized cinderblock made of SlapChop-minced Republican skulls.

    The large, white text superimposed at the top reads: "Everyone chill the fuck out." The text at the bottom exclaims: "I got this!"

    Sure enough, two months later, we watched as this liberal African American man with the noble yet politically unusual name "Barack Hussein Obama" defied the odds and won red states like Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Indiana and the commonwealth of Virginia.

    Fade out the roaring crowds at Grant Park. Dissolve to late January.
    The economy continues to creep nearer to the crumbling ledge of yet another Depression -- if it isn't there already. And yet the Republicans who very nearly shoved us over the ledge are prancing around as if their collective Reaganomics don't stink.

    SNIP

    Their political audacity, while never surprising, always seems to confound expectations and defy logic. Having relegated themselves to the status of a regional, minor party due to their unserious, fear-mongering wedge politics and well-documented record of disastrous policy-making, they remain so hubristic as to crap their cages and demand a seat at the Big Boy Table, as if they're the majority party in Congress -- as if they somehow earned an equal voice in this thing by way of their awesome record on the economy.

    They haven't. It's only due to the magnanimity of the president that they haven't been completely steamrolled on this recovery bill. Magnanimity which, by the way, isn't nearly as plentiful or renewable as the Republicans might think.

    SNIP

    Altogether, it might appear as if the Republicans are using their ridiculousness as a means of duping the president -- hectoring him into capitulation and therefore allowing the recovery bill to be sabotaged with their taint. And when the sabotaged bill fails to help the economy, they'll blame the president. David Sirota outlined this strategy the other day, and while events might seem to point in this direction from time to time, there isn't much evidence to indicate that President Obama is naïve enough to be flimflammed by these very obvious Republican political tricks. Put another way, if you and I can spot the scams, I'm sure he can too. Though, it's important that the Republicans think they can sucker punch the president the same way they've sucker punched Senator Reid over and over.

    The president's "I won" remark indicates that there's a limit to both his benevolence and his tolerance for Republican silly season hackery. "I won" means that he won't be played and he won't be taken advantage of. But the Republicans have miscalculated and misinterpreted the president, believing that "bipartisanship" means Democratic capitulation. Save for a few concessions in an otherwise massive spending bill, President Obama isn't calling for any half-and-half bipartisan compromise on this or anything else so far. His process with the Republicans is all about attaining some civility in the tone of the debate -- not caving. There's a difference. And in that process, the president is looking increasingly presidential as his style is contrasted against the smallness of the Republicans.

    Recent history has proved that the president's Chess Match style will require a little more patience than we're accustomed to in order to see the endgame -- to see how this all plays out. And while it's crucial to keep a clear eye and critical mind, there's a lot of comfort in that web graphic from last September. Chances are: he's got this.

    Read the whole thing.
              President Obama Is Too Nice to Kentucky        
    President Barack Obama is a much better person than I could ever be. If the Democratic governor of a Democratic-registered state that had nevertheless voted overwhelmingly for my republican opponent in the last election begged me for help to get his backward state out of an emergency they had basically created themselves, I would not have been this nice:

    President Barack Obama last night approved Gov. Steve Beshear's request for an emergency Presidential Disaster Declaration that will expedite assistance to people in need across the commonwealth.

    "President Obama called me last night to express his concern about the plight facing our state and many of our people. I appreciate the president's quick response to our request for a disaster declaration," Gov. Beshear said as he traveled throughout Western Kentucky to meet with local officials and survey damage to the region. "We will move quickly to bring power generators, communications equipment and debris removal equipment into the region to help restore power and protect our people in their time of need."

    No, indeedy, I would not have been nice at all. I would have said something like this:

    "Well, Steve, I see the mess you're in and it certainly is a nasty one. But I notice Kentucky had almost exactly the same mess six years ago, and its Democratic leaders made all kinds of promises about burying power lines to make sure this never happened again. Kentucky didn't keep a single fucking one of those promises, did it, Steve? Nope, it sure didn't. And here you are, in a shit hole any idiot could have predicted would happen again with the next ice storm.

    "I really would like to help you, Steve, but I've got these Congressional republicans, including four house members and two Senators with KY next to their names, raking me over the coals for wanting to give money to people who don't deserve it. You know, people who promise to do better but don't, people who waste the opportunities they're given to improve themselves. I would just have a hard time explaining to Mitch and Jimbo and Eddie and Hal and Geoff and Brent why I'm helping that notorious welfare queen Kentucky when we all know she's never going to change her behavior.

    "And even if I didn't care what the republicans thought, I've got the actual Democratic majority in Congress that would throw a hissy fit if I gave federal emergency status to a state the majority of whose registered Democrats voted just three months ago to re-elect the obstructionist, evil republican minority leader in the Senate.

    "So you have my sympathy, Steve, but my hands are tied. See if you can't get your state to sit up straight and fly right for a while, and maybe elect a few actual Democratic candidates next year, then we'll see about letting you have a little money. Until then, you're on your own."

    As a Kentuckian with no electricity since Tuesday and no hope of getting any in the foreseeable future, I am grateful that President Obama did not turn his back on the sure-to-be-ungrateful Commonwealth. But I wish he had found some way of using the Declaration to cudgel some sense into our state's so-called leaders.

    Cross-posted at They Gave Us A Republic ....
              Comment on Democrat Alan Kennedy-Shaffer announces he’s running for Colorado Senate District 34 seat by Mike        
    Making it harder to run? You have got to be kidding me. That's completely antithetical to the foundation of democracy. Let the voters decide. Also, Crow is in the process of buying a home in CD6. Since you're so concerned about residency issues there, have you checked into where the Coffmans live? There's more than one residence there. Thoughts like this are exactly why Dems will continue to falter.
              Corruption in Stettler County        
    When governments use taxpayers’ money to explicitly campaign for a candidate running for political office, it’s fair to call it corrupt and undemocratic. According to documents provided to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation...
              AB: Breathing life into our Moribund Democracy        
    Our democratic institutions have lost their lustre. Dreadfully low voter turnout, a disengaged public and an unhealthy apathy are now considered the norm. Albertans need to take back our democracy from our politicians and demand access to the legislatively protected, democratic tools necessary to stay engaged, informed and effective. Moreover, we need to feel relevant as participants, rather than mere spectators.
              150 Things to Know on Canada’s 150th Birthday        
    On the occasion of Canada’s 150th birthday here are 150 things to know...

    1. Today, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is one of the world’s most popular political leaders.
    2. Justin Trudeau emerged out of the shadows and into the political spotlight when delivering the eulogy at his father’s funeral, the late Pierre Elliot Trudeau in September 2000.
    3. The four pallbearers at the funeral were Justin Trudeau, the Aga Khan, former President Jimmy Carter and…the late Cuban autocrat Fidel Castro.
    4. Justin Trudeau’s brother, Alexandre Trudeau, is a fearless filmmaker, who was Embedded in Baghdad before, during and after the U.S. invasion in 2003.
    5. While Justin is a social media star, his father was the true showman, who once famously pirouetted behind Queen Elizabeth’s back.
    6. In fact, this was just one of many colorful moments. To this day in Canada to give the ‘Pierre Trudeau salute’ means something, very interesting…
    7. And who can forget the moment featuring the Rolling Stones, the paparazzi and the Prime Minister.
    8. However, the elder Trudeau also did some amazing things for Canada. For starters, until 1982 when he brought it back to Canada, the constitution was effectively governed by the Queen of England.
    9. That same year he pushed through the Canadian Charter of Rights & Freedoms.
    10. This protection of Canadian rights and diversity did not emerge overnight. Back in 1971, the elder Trudeau declared the new Canadian multiculturalism policy.
    11. Four years earlier, in 1967, Pierre Trudeau uttered these famous words: “There's no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation,” when he decriminalized homosexuality in sweeping changes to the criminal code.
    12. It took Canada until 2005 to legalize same-sex marriage, being the first nation outside of Europe and fourth in the world to do so.
    13. However, while things were eventful under Pierre Trudeau they were also turbulent. He suspended civil liberties during the ‘October Crisis’ in 1970, when he invoked the ‘War Measures Act’ after a provincial cabinet minister was kidnapped by separatist militants.
    14. He also enacted the National Energy Program in the 1980s which effectively federalized revenues from energy resources in Alberta, creating long-term hostility towards the federal Liberal Party in the years to come in Western Canada.
    15. Trudeau was also an antagonist to separatist ambitions in Quebec, delivering two fiery speeches, one in 1980, and another in 1995 to thwart referendums for independence.
    16. All in all, the elder Trudeau served for 15 years but he wasn’t the longest serving Prime Minister. That would be William Lyon Mackenzie King, who served for 21 years.
    17. In second place was the founding Prime Minister, John A. Macdonald, who served for 18 years – and who also had a bit of a drinking problem.
    18. When Canada was founded in 1867, there were only four provinces: Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
    19. In fact it was not until 1949 that the last province, Newfoundland joined Canada, and that was only after a barely won referendum.
    20. Canada also has three Territories: the Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Nunavat, the latter being formed in 1999.
    21. The country is extremely ‘big’, the second largest in the world with over 2 million lakes, among other things.
    22. But, 75% of Canadians actually live within 100 miles of the U.S.-Canada border.
    23. This may be one of the reasons why the U.S.-Canada economic relationship is the largest in the world, estimated to total US$630 billion in 2016 alone.
    24. Close to 30,000 trucks cross the border every single day between the two countries.
    25. While things are rosy today, it wasn’t always so. During the War of 1812, the Canadas, as the British colonies were known then, went to battle with the U.S., ultimately burning down the White House on August 24, 1814.
    26. War was quite frequent back then due to competing French, British, and American ambitions. After fierce fighting, the 1763 Treaty of Paris essentially gave the British control over much of French Canadian land.
    27. In addition, one cannot forget that much of Canadian land belonged to the First Nations, who have been marginalized, ostracizied, occupied and colonized throughout much of Canadian history.
    28. During Canada’s first years, a group of people called the Metis who were ethnically mixed between First nations and European descent, rose up in rebellion, ultimately establishing a short-lived provisional government in 1870.
    29. The leader of that rebellion Louis Riel was ultimately ranked as the 11th Greatest Canadian.
    30. That battle was only one of many for the acknowledgement of the rights of First Nations. One of the worst stains on Canadian history was the residential school system that at one point put a third of all First Nations children under the care of the state.
    31. Thousands of students died, and many more were subject to emotional, physical, and sexual abuse.
    32. While today, people acknowledge some of these aspects of history, the fight is not over. One of the scandals that was a campaign issue for Justin Trudeau, was the plight of up to 4,000 missing or murdered aboriginal women.
    33. Canada’s history has not always been one of inclusivity. The Chinese Exclusion or Immigration Act of 1923 effectively banned immigrants of Chinese origin.
    34. This was a culmination of violence and protests against immigrants from East and South Asia, including riots in 1907 in Vancouver, British Columbia.
    35. Today, whites are expected to become a minority in Vancouver by 2031 (although I suspect this has already happened).
    36. 20.6% of Canadians are foreign-born today and 19.1% identify themselves as visible minorities. 3% of the population identifies as Muslim.
    37. There are more Sikhs in the Canadian Cabinet than there are in India’s government (4 versus 2).
    38. It was not until the 1940s, however, that Sikhs truly received voting rights.
    39. Canadian women achieved the right to vote around the same time as women in the U.S. in the late 1910s.
    40. Canada also became home to a number of Black Canadians due to the Underground Railroad, although racism has reared its ugly head in Canada as well.
    41. While ethnic and racial struggles have been real, so have class struggles. A lot of this culminated in gained labor rights and ultimately universal healthcare.
    42. The ‘grandfather’ of universal healthcare was actually New Democratic Party leader Tommy Douglas, who was named the Greatest Canadian in that (in-)famous poll.
    43. Tommy Douglas is also the grandfather of prominent Canadian actor Kiefer Sutherland.
    44. Kiefer Sutherland’s father is Donald Sutherland, who married Tommy Douglas daughter, prominent public figure, Shirley Douglas.
    45. While living in the U.S. Donald Sutherland retained only Canadian citizenship but lost the right to vote due to the Conservative Party’s new laws in 2015.
    46. This also led to a rallying cry by then candidate Justin Trudeau, that “A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.”
    47. There are almost 3 million Canadians living abroad but many retain a vibrant Canadian identity.
    48. For example, the Terry Fox Run, a hallmark of Canada, has been held in over 60 countries by countless millions over the years.
    49. Through these runs over $650 million has been raised for cancer research.
    50. And it is all inspired by Terry Fox, who ran the Marathon of Hope in 1980 after losing one leg to cancer.
    51. He ended his run after reaching 5,373 kilometres over 143 days.
    52. Inspired by Terry’s courage, a fellow West Coaster, Rick Hansen embarked on a Man in Motion World Tour for two years in 1985.
    53. He criss-crossed 34 countries raising $26 million along the way.
    54. It also inspired the song St. Elmo’s Fire, which reached #1 on the Billboard Charts.
    55. The best-selling Canadian artist of all time remains Celine Dion, who has sold over 200 million albums worldwide.
    56. It appears though that fellow Canadian Justin Bieber may soon beat her on the charts.
    57. There are a lot of Canadian singers, that are quite prominent, but they often live abroad, like Bryan Adams.
    58. In fact, Bryan Adams and Beverley Hills 90210 star Jason Priestly went to the same high school, Argyle Secondary School in Vancouver.
    59. And while Bryan Adams is known for his singing, he once mixed up the lyrics of the Canadian national anthem.
    60. The Canadian national anthem, ‘O Canada’, was itself composed in 1880.
    61. However, the lyrics of the anthem were originally French and were then translated into English.
    Al-Monitor, where you can find the full text. 

    These days, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is under a systematic (some would say justified) assault by authorities seeking to dissolve the entire organization.  Yet, it’s not just in Egypt that Islamists find themselves under attack, rhetorically or by force. Across countries in the Arab world that had revolutions in the past two years, there is a growing wave of public opposition to the participation of Islamists in the political system, whether in TunisiaLibya or elsewhere.

    Against this backdrop, countless Western analysts have clashed with their liberal Arab counterparts on the issue of Islamism, arguing that the exclusion of religious parties is incompatible with modern democratic principles. Yet is the exclusion of parties like the Muslim Brotherhood undemocratic on its face? The truth is somewhere in the middle and in fact, there is a legitimate democratic case to be made against the inclusion of some Islamists.

    Since 2011, there have been two primary grievances levied against Islamist parties. The most salient argument in recent weeks has been that these groups are linked to a wider “terrorist” agenda, and are, as such, enemies of the state. Of concern is not necessarily their religious nature but the fact that they represent a subversive political movement. Granted, the closed nature of the Brotherhood, given its precarious legality in past decades, only feeds this view. In addition, offshoots from the Brotherhood like Gamaa Islamiya have been responsible for terrorist attacks in Egypt, and other affiliated groups such as Hamas do have militant wings as well.

    Nevertheless, this argument is not one against "Islamism" or in favor of "secularism." When Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi held court with his beautifully choreographed choir of support on the night of the coup on Egyptian state TV, at his side were two religious figures, the grand sheikh of Al-Azhar and the Coptic pope. Furthermore, the recently announcedconstitutional committee includes a representative from the Salafist Nour Party, a group also present at that previous gathering. Thus, the argument in Egypt appears to be that the right type of Islamists (and in limited number) can be tolerated, as can a role for religion in the state.

    Of course, the second case against Islamism is that it is inherently incompatible with modern democracy. At its core, the ideology is an absolutist form of thought that rejects all other intellectual currents in a society. While that may be true, couldn’t the same argument be made for any political ideology, whether it be libertarianism, or communism, or socialism, and the list goes on? Each political movement sees its ideas and philosophies as essential and paramount. A corollary to Islamist thought, however, is that it constitutes a religious supremacist movement that seeks to achieve the supremacy of its religion — Islam — at the official level of the state. It is here where Islamism and democracy start to have legitimate friction....

    Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/09/democratic-case-against-islamism-egypt-arab-world-rahim.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter#ixzz2dwRsXyRb

              Ramadan Dreams        
    This week marks the start of Ramadan. I would say today, but as is the case for many things, Muslims cannot even agree on what day marks the beginning of the holy month. Is it Tuesday? Wednesday? Thursday? Sometimes, even in the same country, clerics from different sects or schools of 'jurisprudence' disagree on the sighting of the crescent moon (which signifies that Ramadan has arrived). In Lebanon, Shiites started the fast on Tuesday, and Sunnis on Wednesday, at least the last time I checked. If only the Shiite-Sunni conflict was relegated to a debate over the start of Ramadan. Alas, while diversity is something to be treasured, that is not always true in what is the proverbial Muslim world. The Qur'an tells us about what we can gain from diversity:
    O mankind! Lo! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. 
    Somehow throughout history, perhaps the year after Prophet Muhammad died (circa 633 AD, or 1), Muslims lost sight of this. Today, you're more likely to hear about diversity as a threat rather than an asset. In fact, it seems to go hand-in-hand with regards to whether a Muslim country can be peaceful or democratic or successful: Well, I would say Country X would have a smooth transition, but they have a very diverse population with different ethnicities and groups. It's almost like Muslims can't survive with their own layered identities in the modern-age, longing instead for some Orwellian dictator to give them all a uniform to gloss over any differences that they may have. Of course, enough of those beautiful strongmen have come along for us to know that is not a great path either (um, certain exceptions aside of course).

    And so in 2013, we enter into Ramadan, all 1.5 billion Muslims, or 1.2 billion, or 1.8 billion of us, depending on who's counting (or better yet who's making up statistics off the top of their head and then getting cited by the media, thereby cementing that figure as real), with a 'Muslim world' in complete conflagration - i.e. business as usual. Now all these millions of Muslims, some nominal, some not so nominal, live in different places with different challenges faced. Some in the West. Some in the East. Some in Muslim majority countries. Some as minorities in secular or other countries. And so it goes. Yet, look around, and we see challenges. There's the conflict in Syria, with a death count now over 100,000 and a displaced population representing a quarter of the country. There's the spiralling situation in Egypt, with an uncertain future ahead. And you can never count Pakistan out, with essentially a bombing a day.

    You start to go through Muslim countries, and there's a lot that leaves a lot to be desired. It's almost too long of a list. It kind of makes you want to sing an Islamicized version of Les Misérables "I Dreamed a Dream", I guess with a Fatima instead of Fantine. Given the state of Islam, you might actually get in trouble for singing in public. I know that the 29 or so days of Ramadan will not bring peace, emancipation, and progress to the lands where so many Muslims live. Likely the strife, struggle, and scarcity that defines so many people's lives will not change. In fact in places like Syria, violence could actually intensify this month (some militant groups have actually announced an 'Operation Ramadan').

    Thus, the realities of Ramadan may overwhelm us. Yet, if Ramadan is anything, it is a time for reflection and thinking of what can be, rather than what is. And in that spirit, I thought it would be good to end with a vision, a so-called Ramadan Dreams, of the realm of a possible future, of the Muslim world (i.e. Umma), where:
    • There are far more Sushis than Sunnis & Shiites; 
    • Being an 'Islamist' means being an expert in Islam rather than a judge/jury/executioner; 
    • The takbeer is used in excitement of a goal scored on the soccer field rather than a direct hit on the battlefield; 
    • Having a beard is a fashion statement not a religious statement; 
    • When we hear about a scandal about a royal Prince, it's because he had a nipple slip and not a multi-billion dollar arms deal go to his bank account; 
    • There are more ninjas than women in face-covering black robes; 
    • There will be actual Jews around to respond to somebody who says "don't be such a Jew"; 
    • When someone says "that's the bomb" he's not actually pointing at a bomb; 
    • You can debate the existence of God with two sides of the debate present; and
    • People can be proud to be Muslim...and not Muslim. 
    Now before anybody gets their kefiyyeh in a twist, there are many Muslims who live in countries where things are not so bad, and countless others in Muslim countries, who believe in a pluralistic and open society. Yet, there is a long ways to go before we escape so many of the ills that have come to define Muslim lands and societies. Ramadan 2013 will not bring the change many of us would like to see, but here's hoping that, that change will come sooner rather than later, and help shape a Muslim world that embraces its pluralism, recognises its intellectual tradition, and empowers its people. Ramadan Kareem

              In Egypt, is the only way forward out of the question?        
    It was clear that this would be no ordinary Friday (on July 5), given all the recent events the past week in Egypt. The holy Muslim day has served, for all sides, as a critical time to mobilize demonstrations. Yesterday was no different. Masses of supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, gathered outside the Rabaa al-Adawiyah Mosque in Nasr City, an area in Cairo just several kilometres from the famed Tahrir Square. Their chants grew louder throughout the day, with a series of speeches by leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, culminating in the fiery (oral) missive by the Supreme Guide of the movement, Mohammed Badie. It was a day of "rejection," called for by supporters of Morsi, and the rejection was vociferous and real. That rejection and its swell of supporters, later in the evening, marched down the October 6 Bridge towards Tahrir Square. Already earlier in the day, unarmed demonstrators from the pro-Morsi camp had been shot dead (as seen in this graphic video here) when coming too close to military positions. By nightfall, the two camps - the pro-Tamarod (or rebellion) groups in Tahrir & the pro-Morsi demonstrators - were in full-fledged street battles, not just in Cairo but in Alexandria and other cities as well, leaving 30 people dead.

    If there's a lesson (for post-revolutionary contexts) to be taken from the past week  it is that 'impatience' is not a virtue. The military takeover of the Egyptian government - albeit fuelled by a legitimate and popular uprising - did not resolve anything but it definitely made things worse. Instead of hitting the reset button, Friday's clashes have shown that Pandora's Box is now wide open. In the midst of growing uncertainty, there would appear to be only one way forward and that is the immediate return to democratic legitimacy, whether through the re-running of a presidential election or a referendum on Mohammad Morsi. Everything else is a red herring, including discussion on whether what transpired in the last few days was a military coup.

    There is no question that the movement to oust President Morsi was a popular uprising. Driven by deep frustration from political overreach (by Morsi) starting in November 2012 and exacerbated by worsening living conditions, millions of people joined the Tamarod movement, culminating in the Tahrir protests that coincided with Morsi's one year mark in office (more on this is available in a previous post). Yet, two things should have been clear: 1) Removing an elected President, no matter how unpopular, is not easy; and 2) There was a popular base that still supported President Morsi. On Friday, the latter disenfranchised group, perhaps the same that saw "their" democratically elected parliament invalidated back in September 2012 by the courts, now saw "their" democratically elected President overthrown. Add to that, the Constitution that was passed with 64% support of the vote was essentially also declared null and void by the armed forces, to be re-drafted or amended by a select committee.

    To believe that an 85 year old movement - the Muslim Brotherhood - flanked by its supporters and with the winds of at least electoral legitimacy in their sails, would take these developments lying down, would have been naive. And if the face of this change for all intents and purposes was the very armed forces that have essentially dominated Egypt since 1952, than certainly it would raise the spectre of forceful if not violent resistance. Thus, what has unfolded so far in Egypt on Friday is completely expected and moreover, is a reaction that will only deepen and grow. Furthermore, there is an absence of a 'neutral' authority, as the military appears to have chosen one side in this clash of camps, especially as it is arresting leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood in the interim.

    And so we arrive at the inevitable question: How bad can it really get? Despite the fact that the Brotherhood was ruling 'non-inclusively' and without an effective plan for the government, there is no basis to argue that what has replaced it is anymore inclusive (in fact likely the opposite) and has any clearer plan or set of policies for the country. The country is divided and there is no broader political or democratic legitimacy for the military transition, beyond the assumption that it represented the popular will; but can the latter be proved? We hear numbers such as 33 million bandied about but not only are these figures not based on any tangible scientific analysis (see Wired for how to measure people in Tahrir Square) but they are assuredly less 'legitimate' than an actual vote.

    With both sides claiming popular support and the cringe-inducing word (thanks to Morsi's speech), 'legitimacy, the clashes that began Friday will not end and if anything, they will escalate (or become something even more dangerous if driven underground). There are 93 million people in Egypt, and each confrontation will lead to more deaths, more 'martyrs', and more outraged friends, supporters, and families. Each week that passes will only deepen the divide and the division, ultimately rooting out the basis for any coexistence in the near-term. Civil disobedience, will turn into civil strife, and civil strife could turn into, yes, civil war (a distant but real possibility). There are multiple videos emerging of salafi-jihadi style groups seeking to exploit this moment, and resort to outright violence against the governing authorities. While naysayers may be right that Egypt will not turn into Syria tomorrow, each day that passes without resolution, the disintegration of the state becomes an evermore possible scenario. And if that happens, the consequences will be unimaginable.

    There then appears to be only one way forward and that is the immediate (or urgent) return to a democratic process. While there are some who have cheerleaded the military takeover and the appointment of Adly Mansour, not only does this not have broad-based (mind universal) support within Egypt, but the continuation of this process in its current form, will only destabilize the country further. Given that the unquestioned return of Mohammed Morsi to the presidency would also only inflame tensions within the previous opposition, the only way forward is to hold a referendum with the following question:

    1) Do you support Mohammed Morsi finishing his full-term as President of Egypt?

    It is a direct question on the mood in Egypt, and the answer given, while not quelling all unrest, would provide the legitimacy to any transitional period that would follow (that is if the people answered no). With this referendum in tow, the country could move towards new presidential elections under a carefully managed process or continue with Morsi's presidency, with guarantees that he would govern much more inclusively (if the answer is yes). Yet, who will press for this type of solution, both internally and externally? On an international level, thus far, the U.S. has appeared "aloof", the Europeans "ineffective," and the Arab states mostly partisan. And while the African Union, which has dealt with such situations previously and has come out strongly on the current situation, likely has less influence in Egypt. Thus the reality should dawn on all Egyptians and all political forces within the country that there will be no basis for compromise or true salvation, if it does not emanate from within Egypt itself.

    There will be many analyses made in the coming days around definitions and comparisons. Yet, fundamentally, Egypt is not Iran in 1980 or Algeria in 1991 or Turkey in 1997. It is Egypt in 2013, as hollow as that sounds - but that is the truth through which everything flows. And any resolution that emerges, must come from within the forces of Egypt in 2013. With Nelson Mandela, appearing to be on his deathbed (and our prayers with him), it is worth heeding, in closing, some of his words of wisdom, in this crisis:

    "If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner."

              The (Counter?)Revolution in #Egypt will be Televised (and Tweeted)        
    Around midnight in Cairo the night of Tuesday, July 2, millions of people in Egypt awaited the President of the Republic, Mohammad Morsi, to respond to the 48-hour ultimatum delivered by the country's military on Monday: resolve your differences with the protestors or we will do it for you. With the deadline fast approaching, and due to hit at 4:30pm local time the next day, Morsi rejected the challenge by the military in a tweet. Then, he came on television and delivered what was the most important speech in not just his life but in the history of the Muslim Brotherhood movement he represents. And it was a spectacular failure. While not as long-winded as the two-and-a-half hour speech he had given just days earlier - akin to a State of the Union - it was just as hollow. His near constant use of the word 'legitimacy' began to elicit uncontrollable laugher in many corners (with the usage count of the word at around 75 in the speech). With millions of Egyptians on the streets across the country - some in support of him but many if not most in opposition - and the military's ultimatum in the background, Morsi had seemingly put the final nail in his own coffin.

    Just 30 months after the ousting of the dictator for the past 30 years, Hosni Mubarak, street protests in Egypt culminated on Wednesday night in a coup d'etat, effectively overturning the 14 democratic elections since February 11, 2011 (the total voting cycles for the parliament, presidency and constitution). Indeed, it was broader than a coup d'etat, as the Tamarod (rebellion) movement that brought millions of people to the streets was a grassroots uprising that gathered millions of signatures from ordinary Egyptians, and more significantly, managed to coalesce a previously disparate and dispirited opposition. Additionally, deposed President Mohammad Morsi had governed incompetently and non-inclusively, which seemingly left the invitation open to change. Yet, what transpired this week, especially in the final sequence of events, could be the initial salvo of a counter-revolution 2.0, potentially endangering the process of democratization in Egypt for years to come.

    While things seemingly have not changed that much in Egypt, and in many ways have gotten worse, a lot has transpired. Following the departure of Mubarak and his gang from the scene, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) took charge of managing the country's affairs. It took nearly a year to hold parliamentary elections. When it did happen, in late 2011-early 2012 the Brotherhood's party (the Freedom & Justice Party or FJP) took 38% of the vote, followed closely by the more conservative Salafist party, Al Nour, which took 28%. Given that this body would determine the fate of the new constitution (and the assembly to draft it), the fact that it was dominated by 'Islamists' already meant the new era of Egypt was handed a poisoned chalice in the eyes of many. Six months later, in June 2012, the Presidential elections saw a run-off between a former Prime Minister but tainted 'remnant' of the old Mubarak regime, Ahmed Shafiq, and Mohammed Morsi (representing the Muslim Brotherhood). Morsi won, and with the backing of protests in the famed Tahrir Square, also managed to wrest plenty of executive authority from SCAF. Within two months, Morsi also seemed to assert civilian control over the military, with a shuffling of key positions in the defense establishment.

    Then on November 22, 2012, with full executive powers, and the parliament in limbo (due to pending court cases), Morsi assumed essentially legislative powers and declared himself immune from judicial oversight until a new constitution was formed. In essence that gave birth to the current movement (well at least the National Salvation Front that formed 2 days later and was a hodge-podge of opposition groups, including figures such as Mohamed El Baradei) which culminated in Morsi's removal from office this week. Morsi and the FJP then ham-fisted a constitution through a referendum, which garnered the support of 64% of the voting public. However, the process was not led by consensus and Morsi appeared to be increasingly marginalizing the judiciary, which many viewed as being too linked to the old regime, especially given that many senior judges were appointed by Hosni Mubarak (the judges had their own democracy movement in 2006 so not a unified group by any means). Yet for many in the opposition, the judiciary was still a check against Morsi and the Brotherhood's power. And there were also complaints about the ikhwanization of the state; given what transpired this week, this appeared not to have been the case.

    Nevertheless, the concentration of power by the Brotherhood and its non-inclusive method of governance as described above, could have overcome minor challenges from the opposition, if Morsi had enacted policies that improved the lives of everyday people. His approval rating had begun to drop dramatically, falling to 28% of the public just weeks before his overthrow. This was mainly due to the inability of the government to turnaround the economy, with 25% of Egyptians below the poverty line, unemployment on the rise, and the country's fiscal health on the decline. Meanwhile, his approach to foreign policy of aligning with the US, engaging with Iran, partnering with Qatar, and leading the charge on Syria, did little to assuage a frustrated public waiting for change at home in their daily lives that had yet to materialize. And sectarian clashes that mainly killed Shiites and Christians tarnished the impartial role the President was assumed to play, given that he was close to figures that were prone to incitement.

    In the backdrop of all of this, the Tamarod movement, which started just several months ago (in April), began to tap into the widespread anger and frustration. Gone was the gloss of a technocratic 'Islamist' party - a la the AKP in Turkey, who incidentally are having their own issues - replaced instead by the reality of the FJP in Egypt. And gone also was the mystique of a survivalist Brotherhood that was the David against the Goliath of the last half century; the Brotherhood was now the Goliath, and seemingly squandering the power that it had accumulated. The Tamarod activists claimed to have gathered 22 million signatures, in a country of 93 million people, which seems patently ridiculous for many demographic/logistical reasons (in the course of just two months). Nevertheless, their demands were clear, and principally centered on early Presidential elections (Morsi had served one of a four-year term). They were supported by umbrella opposition groups such as the National Salvation Front, April 6 Movement, and others, and with their deadline of June 30 for Morsi to respond coming fast, thousands and then millions began to fill Egypt's squares (some as noted in support of Morsi).

    By Wednesday, just prior to the removal of Morsi from power, several implications of what was transpiring were already clear. Firstly, the Tamarod movement, and subsequent mobilization demonstrated that there could be an organized opposition to Islamists in the 'new' Arab world, and that this secular alternative could mobilize numbers. This could have far-reaching consequences in other countries such as Tunisia, where Islamists like the Nahda Party hold sway, as well as eventually (in the longer-term) in autocratic countries where often the only strong opposition movements are bogeyman Islamists movements. Secondly, Morsi's reign had as noted above, dulled - as power does to any party - the shine of the Brotherhood. It has been noted, for example that the clashes that led to the separation of the West Bank & Gaza Strip, and undermined the Hamas victory in Palestinian elections, only emboldened Hamas instead of forcing the movement into the pubic accountability spotlight.

    Of course, in the euphoria of what the opposition was about to gain, the darkness just around the corner might have seemed far away. With millions on the street, and the military indicating a willingness to force itself on the scene as the arbitrator, Morsi offered a new constitutional process, a unity government of technocrats, and an accelerated schedule of new parliamentary elections but it was too little too late it seemed for the street, especially with the military now backing the activists' play. And so instead of a negotiated agreement with President Morsi, or a legal process through the courts, or any other process through civilian authorities, it was the military that removed Morsi from power. The crowds in Tahrir Square cheered but the supporters of the deposed President, in Nasr City (also in Cairo), jeered. In a carefully choreographed display, the civil secular state - with an associated roadmap essentially a reset of the revolutionary period - was re-established by three initial speeches: first by General Abdul Fatah al-Sisi, head of the armed forces (appointed by Morsi), second by the Grand Sheikh of Al Azhar, and third by the Coptic Pope. Short statements followed from a range of opposition figures, including a representative of Tamarod and El Baradei and the conservative Nour Party.

    If you are an opponent of the Muslim Brotherhood, this was indeed a victory. And given the direction that Egypt was going, if you are an Egyptian, you can only hope that this could lead to a more positive future. Whatever the case, however, the military re-takeover appears to also be a re-launch of the counter-revolution. The autocratic powers that be in the region were effusive and immediate in their praise of the military and the coup. More worryingly, was the systematic campaign of arrests that already started to unfold late into the night of Muslim Brotherhood activists, leaders, affiliated journalists, and yes even Mohammad Morsi. The military is looking not just to referee the playing field but to define the playing field and the players allowed on it. That's not democracy. It may be that in the modern Arab world the demographics are such that the debate is about choosing between liberalism and democracy, but isn't that the false choice of the last 40-50 years offered by autocratic rulers in the Arab world? And there is nothing 'rosy' about liberal autocracy versus religious autocracy in this region. In fact, if anything, liberal/secular authoritarianism has been the bane of decay in modern Arab history: the Baath parties in Iraq and Syria, Ben Ali's Tunis, Mubarak's Egypt, and the list goes on.

    Yet, unless the Egyptian military is kept in check, it will likely go down the path it knows best and one that it has followed since 1952, which is to systematically crush dissent and marginalise and exclude the Muslim Brotherhood. All indications today point to a proclivity to re-instate this exclusion, which could lead to an Algeria scenario of the 1990s, albeit in a different form, of course. Paradoxically, as this new Pandora's Box is opened, the only hope to keep the military in check is the very street and youth who demanded its removal from the scene, and then demanded it to come back to its role as guarantor of the state. Hopefully the tamarod or rebellion, will keep that spirit, now that they have been given a share of the power.





              The Muslim Brotherhood in Denial (not just a river in Egypt)        
    There's a lot to say about what's going on in Egypt, and a lot of great analysis out there. So I will simply re-post here a status I had on Facebook which I think sums up on the high-level the situation:

    Today in #Egypt there are uncountable millions on the streets demonstrating in rebellion (#tamarod) against a President that the people democratically elected. And the military under their reconstituted form (i.e. SCAF) have backed their play and essentially called for a 'roadmap' towards an orderly transition. This is just 30 months after #Tahrir Square came to the world's attention when the then dictator for 30 years, Hosni Mubarak, was forced to step-down from power. So it is a little confusing. Adding to the confusion..The party in power is the Freedom and Justice Party, or Muslim Brotherhood. The people in Tahrir? Most of them Muslims, many devout, and still opposed to their so-called Brothers. Somewhat allies of the youth-driven, secular (not same as atheist) political opposition are the Salafists (Al Nour Party) or more conservative Muslims, who find themselves also calling for the President to step down. What should we make of all this? Some people may take this to mean that this is a strike against the role of Islam in government in the Arab world. Perhaps, but likely we won't see the same movement - yet - in Tunisia or Yemen and we now have a long ways to go in whatever Syria ends up (thanks to Assad & his enablers from all sides). Essentially, this ended up being a transaction between people and those in power. The Brotherhood in Egypt didn't fail because it started to ban alcohol or force women to wear Niqabs; no they failed because they failed to govern effectively. They failed to protect women in the streets from sexual assault. They failed to protect logically Egypt's interests with foreign countries like Ethiopia. They failed to stabilize an economy with any plan whatsoever. They failed to realize that appointing a member of a foreign terrorist organization that killed tourists in the 1990s to the position of Governor in a province that depends on tourism was a bad idea. The Brotherhood failed in Egypt not because they were Muslim - for their opponents are also Muslim - but because they failed to improve the lives of the very people that elected them. But here's the rub...and it's three-fold. First, removing them from power through the military's might could set back the country for decades to come. Only a negotiated democratic roadmap should be accepted. Second, the end of President Morsi's tenure, does not and should not mean the end of the Brotherhood. They are still Egyptian, will still be Egyptian, and will still have the support of many people. They are part of the political fabric of the country. And finally, the fact that the Brotherhood fails does not mean that the patchwork National Salvation Front - i.e. the Opposition - will succeed. Thus far their alliance is based on opposition to something rather than a coherent ideology. Moreover, their ideas for economic development and governance are no more clear, practical, or informed than the Brotherhood's. And so we end up with one takeaway, and this is applicable to all 'transition' countries. There will always be backsliding and regression in post-revolution environments. The key is to self-correct and aim to go two steps forward and one step backwards, rather than the other way around. Good luck to all our friends in #Egypt. They'll need it.

               For President Obama on Day One: A New “New Beginning”         
    On Day One: A New “New Beginning”
    There was never a question that President Barack Obama represented a symbolic break with the past – someone who could redefine relations with the Muslim world. However to add substance to the symbolism of change, early on in his first term, President Obama went to Cairo to make a speech entitled, “A New Beginning.” Yet, as he begins a second term it is clear that this new beginning needs to be reinvigorated in both style and substance. That initial speech, while poignant then, today rings hollow. If indeed President Obama and the administration are to achieve a definitive step change in relations with Muslim communities, there must be a renewed effort for honest dialogue, robust development initiatives, and tangible shifts in policy.

    At the onset of the Iraq War in 2003, President George W. Bush had abysmal numbers in many Muslim-majority countries. While 59 percent of Nigerians, 56 percent of Jordanians, and 46 percent of Pakistanis held confidence in Osama bin Laden’s leadership, Bush was polling in the single digits in the same countries. By 2008, in countries like Jordan and Turkey, nearly 90 percent of people had “little or no confidence” in President Bush.

    So when a young Kenyan-American Senator with Muslim roots, Barack Obama, emerged on the political scene, he was a welcome sight in even unsavory and sharply antagonistic corners of the Muslim world. In the midst of the political campaign even Hamas seemingly endorsed him saying, “Actually, we like Mr. Obama.” Winning over Hamas never was (nor should it have been) a litmus test, but when President Barack Obama was elected, there was near universal euphoria across Muslim communities.

    Early on, Obama and others in the Administration acknowledged the challenge in meeting these expectations. Even before he was inaugurated, the Administration was already planning to mark this ‘new beginning.’ Going into the heart of Cairo to engage university students in an honest speech about a real change in relations between the U.S. and Muslims was indeed something to be commended. Subsequent to the speech, the White House created a position on the National Security Council for Global Engagement, and the State Department launched a number of partnership initiatives. In the fall of 2009, D.C. played host to the Presidential Summit of Entrepreneurship that brought together 250 delegates from over 50 (mostly Muslim) countries.

    Then the situation started to become more difficult. There are no easy answers in the complex geopolitical relations in the wider Middle East and beyond. When the Green Movement in Iran demanded democratic change, the Obama administration had to contemplate whether it was for engagement with ‘regimes’ or engagement with ‘peoples.’ One of the President’s early visits was to Saudi Arabia to meet with King Abdullah prior to his Cairo speech, during which he said in reference to fundamental liberties, “They are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.” But during his visit with the King, there was deafening silence on this point. The advent of the Arab Spring made these dilemmas even sharper. Support democracy in Tunisia and Egypt at the last minute. Push democracy by force in Libya. Half-heartedly support it in Yemen. Remain frozen on Syria. Tacitly oppose it everywhere else.

    While Obama has grappled with difficult decisions, as any President would, he also shirked following up on critical points he made during his speech in Cairo. For example, he declared, “I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States and I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year.” Guantanamo Bay remains open, almost glaringly so. And while, torture has allegedly stopped being an officially sanctioned practice, summary executions and civilian casualties by drone strikes have dramatically increased in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, and the Horn of Africa. The latter have led directly to animus towards Obama from within many Muslim countries.

    Then there was the line in the speech about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements…The settlements must stop.” Of course, they did not. In fact, in February 2011 the U.S. vetoed a UN Security Council Resolution that called on Israel to simply “cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian Territory.” Out of 15 countries on the Security Council, the U.S. was the lone dissent (and of course the fatal one). This is not to mention that the U.S. also stood against 95 percent of the world’s population in voting against recognizing Palestinian statehood at the United Nations General Assembly in November.

    There were other elements of the ‘New Beginning’ that were promised, particularly around education and entrepreneurship. It is true that the U.S. has now (co-)organized three global entrepreneurship summits, in D.C., Istanbul, and Dubai, the latter being held in 2012. Yet, it is also clear that beyond the pomp of a summit, the once-robust programmatic initiatives that have come out have been weaker. Leadership changes within internal initiatives, as well as those with partners, have meant stalled if not stagnant programming. The idea of connecting entrepreneurs between the Muslim world and the West is a mutually beneficial and powerful concept, but it has not translated into the impact it should have by now. In the last summit in Dubai, it was as if the institutional memory from three years ago was lost, and everything was starting again.

    All this being said, there still exists the perception that relations have improved between the U.S. and Muslim communities. However, since 2009 and Obama’s inauguration, positive views have been on a steady decline in Muslim countries, according to the Pew Global Attitudes Project. In 2009, 33 percent of respondents held confidence in Obama; that number slipped to 24 percent in 2012. In 2009, 25 percent of respondents held a favorable view of the U.S.; that figure dropped to 15 percent in 2012. Finally, approval of Obama’s ‘international policies’ fell from 34 percent in 2009 to 15 percent in 2012. Without a substantive shift, these numbers will continue to decline, further cementing the reality that there never was a new beginning.

    Can things be turned around, given the current state of affairs? It would be misleadingly Pollyannaish to think that President Obama could snap his fingers and magically change opinion towards him from Muslim countries. Moreover, there are certain political realities that will remain. The U.S. will continue to be an ally of Israel. The U.S. will continue to fight terrorism. And the U.S. will not be able to fund new Marshall plans in the Middle East for the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, there is a lot that can and should be done.

    At the outset, President Obama needs to re-launch a dialogue with the Muslim world. At the beginning of his first term he went to Cairo to give a speech. Perhaps he should go to Cairo in 2013 to have a conversation. In fact, since becoming president, Obama has visited only the country of his upbringing, Indonesia, apart from the initial trips to Saudi Arabia and Egypt (in addition to cloak-and-dagger visits to Afghanistan), within the Muslim world. Instead of distant speeches and dispatched drones, the Administration would be served by a President who is more engaged with his audience, through visits as well as frank and honest dialogue during those trips.

    Although the U.S. will not reverse decades of support for Israel, it need not ally with the most extreme policies of the Israeli government. Continuing to be the lone voice at the United Nations and international community defending illegal Israeli practices is a sharp blow to many efforts of the Obama administration. There is no third-term, and the President should stop pandering to contrived political interests in Washington D.C. There are enough Jewish supporters, lobby groups, and intelligentsia, who would support a more moderate and principled set of policies towards the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

    Israel is, of course, not the only foreign policy issue that should be of concern. The U.S., while acting in its national interest, should remain consistent in its language and support for key principles of human rights. It is when it becomes caught in naked hypocrisy that support for the Administration falls, whether in Bahrain in 2011 or Egypt in 2012, and a range of countries, perhaps, in 2013.
    Finally, initiatives that can make an impact on tackling the economic despair for young people, like the 100 million youth who will enter the labor market over the next decade in the Arab world, need to be prioritized. There needs to be sufficient attention and support for the global entrepreneurship program that can truly support the emerging and exciting entrepreneurial energy in places like Amman and Ramallah, Karachi and Kuala Lumpur. The U.S. has the best soft-power in this area, from the start-up scene in Silicon Valley to MIT Labs, yet it is hardly deployed, even though the White House calls entrepreneurship, “a critical pillar of U.S. global engagement.”

    There is a tremendous opportunity in President Obama’s second term to catalytically shift relations with Muslim communities and turn potential adversaries into allies. If the status quo, however, is maintained in policy and practice, this opportunity will be lost.

    This article originally appeared in the print edition of the Diplomatic Courier, in the January/February 2013 issue. It can be accessed online at: http://www.diplomaticourier.com/news/regions/middle-east/1315-on-day-one-a-new-new-beginning. 

              Canada’s UN vote against Palestinian statehood only empowers extremists        

     


    This article initially appeared in the Toronto Star (December 2, 2012). The original article can be found by clicking on the title below.

    Canada’s UN vote against Palestinian statehood only empowers extremists

    “This resolution will not advance the cause of peace or spur a return to negotiations. On the contrary, this unilateral step will harden positions and raise unrealistic expectations while doing nothing to improve the lives of the Palestinian people.”
    Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird delivered this message in a strident speech from the podium of the UN General Assembly before the historic Thursday vote that affirmed Palestine statehood. But in the end his words failed to resonate with the rest of world, quite literally, as Canada found itself stranded in opposition to the resolution with a hodgepodge of Pacific island nations and Israel’s stalwart ally the United States (and, for whatever reason, the Czech Republic). The final vote was 138 countries in favour, 41 abstentions and 9 against, the latter representing only 5 per cent of the world’s population.

    It wasn’t always this way. Canada traditionally played a much more even-handed role in the conflict, realizing the need to support both Israel’s security and Palestinian aspirations for statehood. But over the last decade Canadian policy on the Middle East conflict has become increasingly one-sided in its affinity for Israel. At the UN, Baird asserted that the resolution did not serve the interests of peace. Yet rather than promoting peace, the lonely Canadian UN vote only empowered extremists on both sides and could contribute to increased violence.

    The push for recognition at the world body was the culmination of an effort that was launched roughly two years ago by the Palestinians, led by President Mahmoud Abbas. In his speech in New York, Abbas reiterated that this initiative was intended not to “delegitimize” Israel but instead to “affirm the legitimacy” of Palestine. The campaign is one of only a few non-violent forms of activism left in the Palestinian arsenal to achieve a two-state solution.

    After more than 64 years of dispossession and 45 years of occupation, Abbas and the Palestinian leadership viewed the UN vote as a light at the end of a very dark tunnel. That message resonated not just with countries that Prime Minister Stephen Harper could dismiss but also with democratic nations such as Norway, Spain, France, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Italy — not really a motley crew of rogue states.

    It would be easy to ignore the significance of the Canadian vote. After all, it’s hardly news that under Harper Canadian policy has lacked balance. But today the Holy Land finds itself at a seminal inflection point, where there is a greater tolerance for intransigence on both sides. Coming out of the crisis in Gaza, where residents suffered massive casualties and destruction, Abbas was viewed as a weak, irrelevant figure. His invisibility, combined with changes in the wider region, has meant that the profile of Hamas has been raised. During the recent conflict, leading political officials from the Arab world met with senior Hamas figures in Gaza for the first time in five years.

    Beyond this, among the Palestinian community, commitment to a two-state solution has been waning. It is no longer viewed as tenable given the growing encroachment of settlements in the West Bank. Leading activists have started to reintroduce the democratic solution that promotes one state in which there is universal suffrage, as in the South Africa model. For them, Abbas’s UN initiative was dead on arrival, regardless of whether it received support.

    Against this backdrop, the Canadian government’s message is that this last-gasp support for a two-state solution and a peaceful Palestinian movement toward that end is “utterly regrettable.” Not only that, the government has also intimated it will review its aid to the Palestinian Authority.
    There should be no illusions about what this means. Palestinians — after many decades of waiting — are looking for realistic traction toward self-determination. If the peaceful avenues leading to that end are closed, it will leave only the extremist approach. Hamas will point out that Gaza doesn’t have any Israeli settlements, that their kidnapping of Israeli Gilad Shalit led to the release of Palestinian prisoners, and that Arab states are recognizing their leadership. And then they will ask: What has President Abbas done for you lately?

    Beyond the question of whether Canada is on the wrong side of history, which hardly seems debatable, it now appears to be empowering violence and extremism. How can you support Palestinian statehood and a two-state solution and inexplicably oppose that very reality, claiming it is not conducive to peace? That cognitive dissonance should stimulate a deep examination of Canadian policy — there is a lot more at stake here than just a UN vote.

     


              Fixed-ing our democratic deficit        

    Pull out your day-timers and circle May 11, 2021. Barring a vote of non-confidence in the British Columbia legislature between now and then, that is the day British Columbians will be going to the polls to cast their ballots. Or perhaps by then, they will be pulling out their retinal scanners in the convenience of their own home and submitting their encrypted e-ballot.

              Albertans didn't get what they voted for        
    Albertans are served poorly by a voting system which doesn't give them the representation they voted for. The majority of Albertans rejected Ralph Klein's Tories in the provincial election. Nevertheless, three quarters of the MLAs in Alberta's legislature are Progressive Conservatives.

    A better voting system would give Albertans what they really voted for: a legislature with 39 PCs, 24 Liberals, eight New Democrats, eight Alberta Alliance, three Greens and one Socred MLA.

              Time for Albertans to practice what we preach        
    The sad truth is that we Albertans are hypocrites. On the federal scene we have been the powerhouse of democratic reform since the late 1980s. We champion fixed dates for elections; the right of citizens to initiate and vote in referendums on issues of their choice; the right of constituents to recall their elected representative under certain circumstances; free votes in the legislature on every bill except the budget; no new taxes or tax increases without the consent of voters in a referendum.
              Klein's survey biased towards bigger government        
    Premier Klein's $500,000 mail-in survey reads like it was designed by the Liberals or NDP. The survey's underlying assumptions are that government is responsible for our lives and our happiness, and that problems can be solved by throwing tax dollars at them.

    Surveys are a poor substitute for real democratic accountability. This will exist only when Albertans acquire the right to initiate and vote in referendums on issues important to them.

    This mail-in survey leaves no room for solutions other than spending tax dollars.

              Can Civilian Health Care Help Fix The VA? Congress Weighs In        
    Veterans across the country are still waiting too long for medical care, a situation that drove the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki last week.

    Now Republicans and Democrats in Congress are competing to pass laws they think will fix the problem of medical wait times and other problems at the VA.

              ALERT: Potential DNC Chair’s Dark Past Finally Exposed… Spread This Everywhere        

    Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim in Congress, may be the next Democrat National Committee Chairman. There’s just one, big problem, however, and that is how the media have refused to cover the dark past of Ellison — namely his ties to the Nation of Islam and radical Islam. The liberal media have…

    The post ALERT: Potential DNC Chair’s Dark Past Finally Exposed… Spread This Everywhere appeared first on Conservative Tribune.


              GOP Senate Bill Would Cut Health Care Coverage By 22 Million        
    Updated at 8:10 pm ET Congressional forecasters say a Senate bill that aims to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act would leave 22 million more people uninsured by 2026. That's only slightly fewer uninsured than a version passed by the House in May . Monday's report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office could give moderate senators concerned about health care coverage pause. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, was quick to register her opposition to the bill. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell wants a vote on the bill this week, before senators head home for the July Fourth recess. With Senate Democrats united in opposition, Republicans can afford to lose only two votes on their side and still pass the bill. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., who is up for re-election next year, had already expressed reservations about the number of people who could lose coverage under the GOP bill. Four other Republican senators have complained that the bill doesn't go far enough in rolling
              St. Elmo’s Fire (1985)        

    Seven friends – Alec, Billy, Jules, Kevin, Kirby, Leslie and Wendy – are trying to navigate through life and their friendships following college graduation. Alec, who aspires to political life, has just shown his true colors by changing his allegiance from Democrat to Republican, which freaks out girlfriend Leslie, who he wants to marry. Budding […]

    The post St. Elmo’s Fire (1985) appeared first on Movie25.


              Comment on Rossini does Trump by houseofroberts        
    Here's a little funny for y'all. https://www.democraticunderground.com/10029433538
              Comment on Daily Gnuz by houseofroberts        
    Funny church signs. https://www.democraticunderground.com/10029428292
              Noi vrem sa votam.... Ei nu ne lasa...        
                

    "Daca aş putea, domnule, aş scrie pe ziduri, mare sa vadă tot ţăranul: „Românilor, nu vă mai alegeÅ£i conducători care nu-şi iubesc Å£ara!''     Petre Tutea





                      Chiar daca nu am mai postat demult, astazi am simtit ca trebuie sa o fac... Sunt scarbit de ceea ce vad... Traim in Romania... Vrem sa credem ca suntem un stat democratic... Romanii nostri plecati in strainatate vor sa voteze, dar nu au aceasta posibilitate. Marea mea intrebare este "De ce?" Si ei au acest drept!!! Cozi interminabile, centre de votare inchise si sute de oameni in imposibilitate de a-si exprima votul... E de-a dreptul incredibil ce se intampla. Indiferenta autoritatilor este de-a dreptul strigatoare la cer...

                                   
         
                     Cred ca aceasta imagine face mai mult decat 1000 de cuvinte... Rusine!!! Ma intreb daca ASUMARE stiu guvernantii nostri ce inseamna... Ma intreb daca au atata coloana vertebrala incat sa isi poata asuma acest proces de vot... Cred totusi ca cer prea mult. Romanii din diaspora ne-au demonstrat ca isi doresc schimbarea... Noi, cei din tara, ne-am vandut, din nou, pe nimic... Oare ne mai putem plange in urmatorii 5 ani? ASUMARE... Un cuvant valabil atat pentru cetateni, cat si pentru guvernanti...

                     Turul 2 va veni si sunt foarte curios ce va aduce. Romani, GANDITI cat inca se mai poate!!! Exercitati-va dreptul la vot pentru un viitor mai bun si asumati-va consecintele alegerilor voastre! Voi hotarati viitorul Romaniei!

    Cu respect,
    Pavel Dinu


    surse: http://www.mediafax.ro/




              Hallo, Mogen Wij Ons Voorstellen?        

    Thierry Baudet en Sander Ruijter

    Het overgrote deel van de Nederlandse volksvertegenwoordiging is onbekend en daardoor onbemind. Met de lancering van de website ‘150vv.nl’ - woensdag, 14 maart, wordt de kloof tussen politiek en burgers digitaal gedicht. Met één trefwoord weet je precies bij wie je het beste rechtstreeks kan aankloppen. Sander Ruijter (26) en Thierry Baudet (24) werkten twee jaren aan een persoonlijke kennismaking met de leden van de Tweede Kamer, en ontmoetten ‘interessante levensgenieters’, die “keihard werken en elke dag namens ons belangrijke beslissingen nemen”.

    Tekst & fotografie Iwan Brave

    Ruijter en Baudet zijn het prototype jonge honden. Hoewel van gegoede huize, laten ze zich niets aan komen waaien. Ze zijn druk bezet maar niet gesjeesd. Maar bovenal zelfverzekerd. “Een goed idee verkoopt zichzelf”, zegt Ruijter. Toch hebben ze twee jaar keihard gewerkt aan hun geesteskindje, waarbij ze alle 150 kamerleden de kleren van het lijf hebben gevraagd.

    Ze moesten qua fondswerving alle zeilen bijzetten. Uiteindelijk kregen ze twee fondsen over de streep. Nederland Kennisland, die nieuwe internetprojecten stimuleert, en het Forum voor Democratische Ontwikkeling (FDO). “De fondsen in Nederland zijn over het algemeen heel behoudend ingesteld”, zegt Ruijter. “Het zijn vaak nalatenschappen van rijke baronnen die hebben gezegd: ‘Mijn geld gaat naar literatuur.’ Toen bestond internet nog niet. Dus voldoe je al voorbaat niet aan hun doelstellingen.” Baudet: “En ons project is heel vernieuwend.”


    En met recht. De kamerleden zijn niet alleen gevraagd naar hun persoonlijke interesses, maar ook namens wie of welke groep zij in de kamer zitten, naar hun stemgedrag na belangrijke debatten en uiteraard in welke portefeuille(s) zij zich dagelijks hun tanden zetten. Aan de hand hiervan hebben Ruijter en Baudet profielen gemaakt en ingevoerd.

    Als een bezoeker (burger) een of meerdere trefwoorden (‘criteria’) op de website invoert, maakt het programma een selectie van de meest aangewezen profielen. Aan de kamerleden kunnen vragen worden gesteld. Maar ook opmerkingen, suggesties en klachten kunnen worden doorgegeven.

    Buurtveiligheid, leefbaarheid, ondernemerschap, kinderopvang, criminaliteit en noem maar op. Naast voor de hand liggende vraagstukken, kan je ook kijken bij wie je het beste kan aankloppen voor zaken die minder op voorgrond spelen, maar wel degelijk elke dag bepalend zijn voor welzijn en welvaart. Bijvoorbeeld speelruimte voor kinderen of toegankelijk maken van publieke ruimten voor gehandicapten. Het gaat om rechtstreekse communicatie, want aan de website zijn het emailadres van alle kamerleden gelinkt. Zowel vraag als antwoord wordt op de website gepubliceerd.

    Het is vrijwel onmogelijk niet met de jongens mee te gaan in hun tomeloze enthousiasme over hun project. Daarbij bekruipt je het beschamende gevoel dat niemand veel eerder hierop gekomen is. Hét ei van Columbus. Het werd eigenlijk in februari 2005 gelegd, toen de site van de Tweede Kamer bekroond werd met de ‘Webflop 2005’, een initiatief van Burger@overheid en Tros Radar. ‘De Tweede Kamer benut de mogelijkheden van internet onvoldoende’, oordeelde de jury vernietigend. ‘Het parlement zou een voorbeeldfunctie moeten vervullen bij het digitaal overbruggen van de kloof tussen burgers en politiek, en daar is nu onvoldoende sprake van.’

    En die kloof lijken Ruijter en Baudet te gaan dichten. Sterker: ze willen zelfs afrekenen met dat cliché. “Ik heb zo’n hekel aan die uitdrukking ‘dé kloof’”, zegt Ruijter. “Dat impliceert een afstand tussen mij en dat kamerlid. Dan stel ik me toch gewoon vóór.”

    En dat is eigenlijk wat ze hebben gedaan. Als twee burgers afstappen op het parlement en min of meer zeggen: ‘Hallo, wij zijn Sander en Thierry, die door jullie worden vertegenwoordigd, wie zijn jullie?’ Ze behoefden helemaal geen bergbeklimmeruitrusting. Ruijter: “Hoe kan je in een leuk, plat landje als Nederland praten over een klóóf. Stel je gewoon voor en maak kennis.”


    Het was een kennismaking vol verrassingen. Baudet: “We hebben zo vaak tegen elkaar gezegd: ‘Dit wordt een leuke site’. Mensen met bepaalde idealen, over wie ze vertegenwoordigen, of welk deel van de samenleving. Ik heb heel wat interessante mensen leren kennen, die elke dag namens ons belangrijke beslissingen nemen. En die mensen wil je leren kennen.”

    Ruijter: “Je denkt aanvankelijk ook in vooroordelen omdat de lijsttrekker het imago van de partij bepaalt. We deden soms wel vijftien interviews op een dag en dan kwam je al die kleuren en levensverhalen tegen.”

    Ook voor menig kamerlid was hun komst verlossend. “Eindelijk krijg ik de kans mezelf uit te spreken”, reageerde Madelaine van Toorenburg van het CDA opgelucht, alsof ze zich al die tijd een monddode parlementariër voelde.

    Nou willen de jongens niet heel Nederland aansporen om even massaal persoonlijk kennis te gaan maken. “Nee, dan gaat KPN op z’n gat. Wij hebben het voor een ieder iets makkelijker gemaakt.”

    Het idee is ook journalistiek ingegeven. Ruijter en Baudet waren presentatoren van het programma ‘Publieke zaak’ van Business News Radio (BNR), dat gaat over burgerinitiatief: niet klagen maar zelf het heft in handen nemen voor een leefbare omgeving. Al doende ontdekten zij dat heel wat kamerleden onbekend op de achterbanken zaten. Zo kwamen ze op het idee te beginnen met het item ‘back-benchers-profiel’. Baudet: “Een ultiem burgerinitiatief is jezelf vier jaar geven aan het land.”

    Baudet studeerde rechten en geschiedenis en werkt nu als promovendus aan een proefschrift over de ‘grondbeginselen van ons rechtssysteem’. Ruijter studeerde economie en Japans en vertrekt binnenkort naar Londen, waar hij voor een bank gaat werken. Met hun multidisciplinaire instelling gingen ze aan de slag met hun project. “Niet in een koker blijven zitten. De onrust en ambities hebben over je eigen grenzen te kijken”, verwoordt Ruijter het.


    Ze namen daarbij geen genoegen met clichés, zoals ‘mijn maatschappelijke betrokkenheid is met de paplepel ingegoten’ – ongeveer tien kamerleden zeiden dat. “Die is iedereen met de paplepel ingegoten”, stelt Ruijter. “Het zijn 150 mensen die keihard werken voor de samenleving. Zo kan je uit het VVD-nest komen en een goed onderwijsplan hebben ingediend. Sharon Gesthuizen van de SP verklaarde: ‘Ik zit hier in de kamer voor de kleine ondernemer. Ik heb zelf meegemaakt en weet hoe moeilijk ondernemen is.’” En zo is niet elke PVV’er gedreven door een te dikke koran. “Barry Madlener had een succesbedrijf, maar ging de politiek in omdat hij bepaalde idealen had ten tijde van Pim Fortuyn.”

    De website is een ‘voorportaal’ waar je Tofik Dibi van GroenLinks, op vakantie, ziet zwemmen tussen de dolfijnen. “Dan zie je gewoon: dat is een gelukkig mens, een levensgenieter die mij vertegenwoordigt.” Het mag dan wel niet verrassen dat de flamboyante CDA’er en Hagenaar Jan Schinkelshoek van schaak houdt en geïnspireerd wordt door werken van De Tocqueville, des te verrassender is als hij verklapt: “Ik juich voor Sparta.” En PvdA’er Harm Evert-Waalkens zegt: “Ik heb mijn laarzen uitgeschopt, mij in het pak gehesen en mijn stropdas omgesjord. En nu zit ik hier als boer in Den-Haag.” Ruijter: “Dat soort mensen stemt je positief. Het gaat om échte mensen en niet om beroepspolitici die over een paar jaar minister willen zijn. Het overgrote deel van onze volksvertegenwoordiging is onbekend. Het probleem of idee ontdekken viel voor ons samen met het bedenken van een oplossing.” Een schoolvoorbeeld van burgerinitiatief. www.150vv.nl




    Klik en ga terug naar Amsterdams Venster
              Garbage In, Garbage Out - IDOS-opiniepeilingen        

    Paramaribo - Geliefd en verguisd. Dat is het beste om John Krishnadath te typeren. Zijn opiniepeilingen spelen deze verkiezingen een belangrijke rol. Vooral een psychologische. Hoe betrouwbaar zijn de IDOS-peilingen? "Ik had niet eens iets onderzocht en toch werd het IDOS verdacht gemaakt."


    Tekst Iwan Brave/dWTfoto Werner Simons - de Ware Tijd, 10 mei 2005

    Menig politicus zegt: "De ware peilingen zijn op 25 mei." Een waarheid als een koe en toch wishfull thinking tegelijk. Voor wie het uitkomt, zijn de DWT/IDOS-peilingen een dankbare houvast. Voor wie er bekaaid afkomt, zijn ze ‘onbetrouwbaar'. Neem bijvoorbeeld Desi Bouterse, die in februari de peilingen nog prees, toen zijn NDP als grootste uit de bus kwam in Paramaribo. Maar het kan verkeren. Vorige week, tijdens de afgelopen massameeting in Ocer, insinueerde Bouterse dat ‘niet-integere' wetenschappers de peilingen uitvoerden. Na de Amerikaanse verklaring was de NDP in Paramaribo flink teruggevallen. Maar Bouterse is niet de enige die zulk ambivalent, of misschien wel beter gezegd schizofreen gedrag toont ten aan zien van de DWT/IDOS- peilingen. Zelfs de doorgaans ingetogen Marten Schalkwijk werd het te gortig. Die besloot zelf maar over te gaan tot een opiniepeiling via zijn Nikos in opdracht van Dagblad Suriname.
    In 2001 was Pertjajah Luhur-voorzitter Paul Somohardjo, toen minister van Sociale Zaken en Volkshuisvesting, ook al niet te spreken over het resultaat van een IDOS- opiniepeiling, toen bleek dat 80 procent van de kiezers in Paramaribo wilde dat Somohardjo, Rakieb Khudabux van Volksgezondheid, Dewanand Balesar van Openbare Werken en Siegfried Gilds van Justitie en Politie wegens ‘gebrek aan daadkracht' het veld moesten ruimen. Volgens Somohardjo is Krishnadath "gefrustreerd zijn omdat hij geen ministerspost heeft gekregen".
    Leuk is anders, maar echt raken doet het Krishnadath al lang niet meer. "Ik ben al vijftien jaar bezig. Er is nog geen enkele politicus of partij geweest de me nog niet heeft uitgescholden, maar er is ook geen enkele die me nog niet de hemel heeft ingeprezen, als een peiling ze uitkomt."
    De reden waarom Krishnadath met zijn peilingen begon, is ‘dienstverlening en service' naar de samenleving toe, en uit ‘dankbaarheid'. IDOS is namelijk een bureau voor marketingresearch. Grote klanten willen informatie hebben over het koopgedrag van de consumenten, en zonder hun antwoorden en medewerking kan IDOS zijn product niet leveren en dus niet verdienen. Vandaar dus die dankbaarheid. "Ik verdien er niets aan, behalve door de een uitgescholden en de ander geprezen te worden", zegt Krishnadath over de peilingen. "Toen we in 1990 startten, was dat ten ondersteuning van het democratisch proces. Opiniepeilingen is toch wel een van de eerste dingen die je ziet als een maatschappij de overgang maakt van dictatuur naar democratie."

    Stank voor dank
    Maar het is stank voor dank, gezien de reacties van politieke partijen en hun leiders. Maar Krishnadath is er de laatste die ermee zit. Hij moet zelfs een beetje lachen, om die commotie. Als het hem enigszins stoort dan is het wel van mensen, "van wie je zegt dat ze beter moeten weten; van mensen die weten dat ik niet rommel", vertelt hij. "Soms denk je dan wel: ik stop er maar mee. Want je doet de politiek een genoegen met de peilingen en je krijgt er vervelende opmerkingen voor terug. Maar als je niet uitkomt met een peiling is het ook niet goed, dan klagen de politici ook. Een keer toen de komende halfjaarlijkse peiling door omstandigheden langer uitbleef, werd er gezegd: ‘omdat het slecht uitkomt voor de regeringspartijen, durft hij de resultaten niet te publiceren'. Ik had niet eens iets onderzocht en toch werd het IDOS verdacht gemaakt."
    Overigens vindt hij dat elke partij het recht heeft om zijn peilingen te becommentariëren. "Je moet goed gek zijn als politicus om te zeggen dat het IDOS gelijk heeft als uit een peiling blijkt dat haast niemand op je partij zal stemmen. Als je dat bevestigt kan je direct ophouden" Hij heeft vrij lang geduurd – bijna een half jaar – voordat hij een besluit nam om over te gaan tot de DWT-IDOS-peilingen. Normaal werden de peilingen alleen in Groot-Paramaribo verricht en geheel zelfstandig door het IDOS gefinancierd. Maar in samenwerking met DWT zou er ook landelijk gepeild kunnen worden. Er worden geen winsten gemaakt met deze peilingen. Voor IDOS was het al aantrekkelijk genoeg dat de directe kosten door de opdrachtgever werden gedekt en een voorwaarde was dat DWT ook de gegevens aan de andere media ter beschikking zou stellen. "Verder was het zo dat DWT ons volledig onze gang laat gaan zoals altijd het geval is geweest", vertelt Krishnadath. "De krant bemoeit zich dus niet met de te stellen vragen of wat wij neerschrijven. Het werkt heel goed."
    Eigenlijk bevreemdt het Krishnadath een beetje, alle commotie die is ontstaan over de kiezerslijsten. Hij had reeds in een vroeg stadium in een artikel geschreven dat steekproefsgewijs bleek, dat het in Paramaribo om 4 procent ging om lege percelen, onbewoonde huizen of niet bestaande straatnummers bleken te zijn. "Dan praat ik nog niet eens over de adressen waar wordt gezegd: ‘die mensen wonen hier niet'." Als meest idiote voorval vindt hij een adres van een kiezer aan dr. Sophie Redmondstraat. Het bleek dat het bijkantoor van het CBB er staat, niemand die daar woont.


    BVN-Nieuws

    Omwille van neutraliteit maakt het IDOS bewust geen analyse van de peilingen en volstaat Krishnadath met te vermelden wat er in het veld door de enquêteurs is gesignaleerd. "Je zal mij nooit zien schrijven wat ik denk of wat ik uit de gegevens haal, of wat de reden is een van bepaalde stijging of daling van de percentages. Maar als je het mij persoonlijk vraagt, dan heeft bijvoorbeeld de recente terugval van de NDP te maken met het zware offensief van de VS en de Nederlandse politiek. Het gehele Nederlandse politieke spectrum heeft zich de afgelopen twee weken uitgesproken over wat de gevolgen kunnen zijn met Bouterse als president. Anderhalve week lang het BVN-nieuws met de uitgesproken meningen van de Nederlandse politici via diverse media in de samenleving gepompt. Hoewel gezegd werd dat het Surinaamse volk vrij is om te kiezen, heeft het wel degelijk zijn invloed gehad. En de NDP is een partij waarin je bij uitstek de weerspiegeling vindt van de etnische verhouding van onze samenleving. En als er één groep is die bang is voor isolement, dan zijn het de Hindoestanen. Een creool laat zich in dat opzicht iets moeilijker intimideren. Je kan ook stellen dat Hindoestaan nu al de eventuele sociale en economische gevolgen overdenkt."
    Ook Krishnadath plaats vraagtekens achter het officiële aantal kiesgerechtigden van ruim 335.000 op de kiezerslijsten. Hij plaatst dit aantal tegen het voorlopige cijfer van de laatste volkstelling, dat uitkwam op ruim 480.000 inwoners. Daarvan zou tweederde deel 18 jaar en ouder zijn, dus zouden er ongeveer 310.000 kiesgerechtigde moeten zijn. Krishnadath: "Maar als het CBB beweert dat er 335.000 kiezers zijn – wat nog altijd tweederde deel van de bevolking is – dan zou 3/3 deel ongeveer van 520.000 personen zijn. Dus of het ABS heeft verkeerd geteld of bij het CBB is er iets niet goed. Maar ik ben verplicht mijn calculaties voor DNA-zetels te maken aan de hand van de CBB-cijfers. Het is dus: ‘garbage in, garbage out' als er iets niet goed is aan de cijfers. Ik heb toen ook gezegd dat de politieke partijen later ermee geconfronteerd zullen worden en dat je dan dyugu dyugu zal krijgen. En dat gebeurt nu."

    Brandende vraag
    Een brandende vraag is dan toch wel: hoe betrouwbaar zijn die peilingen? "Als het om percentages gaat, zullen de peilingen er niet veel naast zitten", zegt Krishnadath. "Het enige wat ik nu achterwege zou moeten laten, is het berekenen van het aantal zetels per partij. Bij de vorige verkiezingen zou, bijvoorbeeld, A1 met 4.200 stemmen in Paramaribo genoeg hebben voor een zetel. Maar op basis van de huidige kiezersaantallen voor Paramaribo – als je ervan uitgaat de kiezeropkomst net als voor heen 70 procent is – zal het A1 vijf tot zesduizend stemmen nodig hebben voor een zetel."
    Maar nu al durft Krishnadath op basis van de fouten in de kiezerslijst, die het IDOS door middel van de steekproeven achterhaalt, te stellen dat het aantal kiesgerechtigden veel lager zal blijken. "De opkomst bij de verkiezingen zal dus veel lager uitkomen dan normaal het geval is en dan haalt A1 in Paramaribo misschien ineens wel voldoende stemmen om een zetel binnen te halen. Voor de grotere partijen maakt dat niet zoveel uit omdat de verhoudingen min of meer gelijk blijven."
    Hoe betrouwbaar de kiezers de peilingen acht, wilde Krishnadath zelf ook weten: doorgaan of niet? Deze vraag werd meteen meegenomen in een peiling. Negentig procent zei: ‘doorgaan'. "Maar dat kan ruis zijn omdat het het IDOS zelf is die de vraag heeft voorgelegd", zegt Krishnadath. Vijftien procent vond de peilingen onbetrouwbaar. Een deel van deze personen vertelde ook waarom. Niet zozeer het IDOS of de enquêteurs werden onbetrouwbaar bevonden, maar het antwoord van de mensen die geinterviewd werden, deze zouden vaak niet de waarheid spreken. Er is nu sprake van een grote groep zwevers, zo'n 30 procent. "Vroeger was dit percentage een maand voor de verkiezingen in de districten laag en in de stad hoog", zegt Krishnadath. "Vermoedelijk bij deze verkiezingen, met name in Coronie, zal je een heel erg emotionele uitgebrachte stem hebben bij een belangrijk deel van de kiezers. Dus als iemand met de verkeerde been uit bed stapt, zal hij op partij A stemmen en als hij met het goede uit bed stapt op partij C. Of de mensen wachten een excuus om helemaal niet te gaan stemmen. Het niet hebben ontvangen van een kaart zou dan een goed excuus zijn. Nu zijn velen teleurgesteld. De reden laat ik buiten beschouwen. Maar in principe kan je niet stemmen voor iets waarin je teleurgesteld bent. Dan kan 30 procent veel uitmaken."

    Brand switching
    De enquêteurs van het IDOS gaan te werk met een hand held-computer, waarin alle vragen en mogelijke antwoorden geprogrammeerd zijn. Het antwoord van de ondervraagde bepaalt de volgende vraag. Met een pen wordt het antwoord aangestipt en meteen elektronisch opgeslagen. Dus van enige invloed van enquêteurs die subjectieve vragen stellen, is geen sprake. Krishnadath demonstreert dat handzame apparaatje. Ook de vraag op welke andere partij men zou stemmen indien zijn of haar partij niet zou meedoen, was geprogrammeerd. En die vraag werd aan een ieder gesteld; ook als je de NDP of de NPS als voorkeurpartij opgaf. Het was Shailendra Girjasing van UPS-DOE die er gewag van maakte dat er in Commewijne een enquêteur ‘gekleurd' zou hebben gevraagd: ‘Nee, maar als UPS-DOE niet meedoet, op welke partij zou u dan stemmen?'
    "In marktonderzoek praat je over brand switching; wat ga je roken als Morello niet meer verkrijgbaar is", licht Krishnadath deze vraag toe. "Als je dat weet, dan weet ook waar mobilisatie van een bepaalde stem naar toe kan plaatsvinden. Die vraag – wat is uw alternatief? – hebben we aan een ieder gesteld. Ik moest erom lachen, omdat die opmerking van iemand kwam die uit de zakenwereld is; iemand die producten aan de consument wil slijten Voor zo iemand is het belangrijk om te weten waar een klant op overstapt als zijn product om een of andere reden even niet te krijgen is. Een opiniepeiling is in feite niets anders dan een marktonderzoek voor politici, alleen weten we hier niet voldoende wat we ermee moeten en kunnen doen."


              â€˜Gewoon Geeta gebleven’        

    Velen dachten dat Geeta Mangal-Mansaram (30) in 2000 slechts voor het verjongde aangezicht aanschoof in De Nationale Assemblee. Tweemaal ‘timmerde' ze op ministers en leek ze in botsing te komen met de partijdiscipline. Toch staat ze nu op een tweede, verkiesbare plaats op kandidatenlijst van Wanica. "Dat wil dus zeggen dat de partij voor kwaliteit gaat. Ik was een testcase voor het Nieuw Front."

    Tekst Iwan Brave/de Ware Tijd, 23 april 2005 - foto DNA


    Het huis van Sharmila Geeta Ratna Mangal-Mansaram en haar man is eenvoudig en nauwelijks ingericht. Ze zijn net enkele weken geleden verhuisd, van de ene uithoek in Wanica naar de andere. Het is een huurhuis. In de woonkamer staat, op de nodige apparatuur na, eigenlijk alleen een bankstel. Wat ook opvalt is het altaar, tegen een muur, met overwegend rode kleuren en religieuze relikwieën.
    Mangal zit ontspannen in kleermakerszit op de bank. Ze is lid van ‘The International Society for Krishna Consciousness', ook wel bekend als Hare Krishna. "Het is een levensfilosofie met vier basisprincipes", vertelt ze over haar geloof. "Eén: geen intoxicerende dranken, waaronder thee en koffie; twee: niet gokken; drie: geen ongeoorloofde seks en vier: vegetarisch eten. Mijn man Roy was er eerst bij. Ik volgde later. Ik had er veel kritiek op in het begin. ‘Wie eet er nu geen vlees?' zei ik. Maar wanneer de filosofie uiteen wordt gezet, dan spreekt het aan. Vlees is alleen maar streling van de tong; maar voor je spirituele beleving is het niet goed." Lachend zegt ze: "Ik heb nu vijf kookboeken met duizenden recepten; het is heel goed gelopen allemaal."
    Op het altaar ligt het heilige geschrift de Bhagvad Gita. Elke morgen gaat ze in gebed. Dagelijks zestien ‘rondjes' chanten, met de mala in de hand, die 108 kraaltjes heeft. Per ronde chant ze de mantra: ‘Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare; Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.' En dat zestien maal 108 kralen. Ze deelt het op in tweemaal een uur per dag. "Als je wordt geïnitieerd dan moet je je strikter aan de regels houden, dan wordt je espiring disciple ", vertelt ze. Maar zover is Mangal-Mansaram nog niet. Vooral vanwege haar politieke drukte.
    Toch is ze er voorstander van dat het beroep van parlementariër een fulltime betrekking wordt. "Nu zijn we parlementariër plus iets. Ik ben beleidsmedewerker bij het Ministerie van Openbare Werken, het gaat daardoor minder goed. Je doet je best. Maar een goede wet vergt veel research. Je wil goed handhaafbare en goed uitvoerbare wetten maken. Bij een dubbele functie gaat eentje inboeten of gaan beide minder goed."
    De ‘schadeloosstelling' die ze krijgt als parlementariër, plus de representatie- en autotoelage, komt op zo'n vijfduizend Surinaamse dollar.
    Op de vraag of dat niet al voldoende is om alvast fulltime aan de slag te gaan, zegt ze: "In de ogen van het volk is het een immens bedrag. Maar als vertegenwoordiger van de district ben je een manusje-van-alles. Iedereen komt naar je toe: de tempels, de sociale en culturele verengingen en organisaties en dan ook nog de sociale gevallen. Je bent constant bezig met geven. Ook vanuit mijn religieuze achtergrond: wat je ook geeft; je stuurt nooit iemand met lege handen weg. Ook je familie; bij huwelijken kan je niet komen met donaties van een tientje. Al mijn geld zit zowat in donaties. Anders had ik mijn eigen huis al gebouwd. Mensen dachten ook dat ik als parlementariër zou veranderen. Maar ze zien: ‘Geeta is Geeta gebleven'. Het verbaast ze. In onze tempel wordt het ook gepropageerd: je moet nederig blijven." Met trots zegt ze: "Ik heb geen enkele privilege van de overheid genomen: geen auto, geen benzine, geen perceel, geen huis, geen niks; alles is van mezelf."

    Nieuwbakken politica
    Hoewel ze in 2000 gelanceerd is als een nieuwbakken politica, zit ze al 13 jaar in de politiek. Daarvoor was ze kaderlid van de VHP. "Toen al was ik actief op het podium. Ik was goed in mijn Nederlands en Hindi; dat sloeg aan. In 1996 was ik RR-kandidaat, maar ik deed hiervan principieel afstand vanwege een andere regering die aantrad." Dat jaar liepen vijf VHP'ers, onder wie Marijke Djwalapersad, over als splinterpartij BVD, waardoor een door de NDP geregisseerde regering kon aantreden. "Dat Marijke overliep, heeft voor mij een deur opengemaakt. In 1999 studeerde ik af en had vanaf 1997 stage gelopen bij Jagernath Lachmon. In die tijd deed ik een politiek programma bij Sangeet Mala, gericht tegen de regering-Wijdenbosch. Er waren toen heel wat corruptiezaken aan de gang."
    `Haar kandidaatstelling in 2000 kwam als een ‘verrassing'. Het werd haar pas medegedeeld op de partijraadsvergadering die over de kandidaatstellingen ging. "Ik was best geschrokken. Je bent 24; wat heb je te zoeken in het parlement. In die periode was ik onder leiding van Radjkoemar Randjietsingh, via hem ben ik erin gekomen." Over haar ervaringen als parlementariër zegt ze: "Je moet je aanpassen aan de omstandigheden. Het zijn lange vergaderingen. In het begin had ik veel moeite daarmee. Er was niet echt regelmaat. Soms waren we twee tot drie uur in de ochtend er nog niet uit. Met de huidige voorzitter is het besluit genomen te vergaderen tot uiterlijk zes uur 's avonds, bij begrotingsbehandeling tot acht uur en in zeer uitzonderlijke gevallen tot tien uur. Met de nieuwe leiding is er heel wat ordening gekomen. Ik kan me daarin terug vinden."
    Ook kan ze zich terugvinden in de partijdiscipline. "Als je lid wordt van een partij dan ga je mee met alle geschreven regels en de partijbeginselen. Binnen dat kader dien je te functioneren. Het opereren binnen dat kader kan in strijd zijn met je persoonlijke visie." Mangal-Mansaram is ervan overtuigd dat Suriname ‘geen personendemocratie' is maar een ‘partijendemocratie'. Het staat ook zo in het decreet op de politieke organisatie; iemand kan alleen gekozen worden voor de DNA als lid van een politieke organisatie.
    Daarom stond ze ook achter de Terugroepwet die ze mede heeft ontworpen. "Ik zal nooit meewerken aan een wet die mij monddood maakt. Aanvankelijk stonden ook in het ontwerp formuleringen als ‘in strijd met je verkiezingsbelofte' en ‘in strijd met partijbeginselen'. Maar dat was te ruim. Ik heb toen voorgesteld het te beperken tot twee gronden: royement – bijvoorbeeld wegens onzedelijk gedrag – en overlopen. We zinspeelden al geruime tijd op zo'n wet. Het was Fred Derby die had gezegd: ‘We moeten het overlopen van parlementariërs tijdens de rit aan banden leggen'."


    Luis in de pels

    Tweemaal leek haar persoonlijke visie openlijk in botsing te komen met de partijdiscipline. Tijdens de begrotingsbehandeling van 2004 zei ze ‘ongezouten dat een aantal ministers die weer met ‘hetzelfde verhaal' kwamen maar beter niet terugkeert voor een tweede termijn. En twee en een half jaar was ZE een luis in de pels minister Gilds van Justitie en Politie. Ten aanzien van het criminaliteitsvraagstuk eiste ze meer pit en daadkracht van Gilds. "We zijn coalitie; je draagt een stukje regeringsverantwoordelijkheid," verheldert ze nogmaals. "Daarom moet je een tweesporenbeleid trekken, een middenweg. Maar als zaken niet worden gedaan, wil je er harder tegenaan, want het belang van de samenleving staat voorop. Dan moet je misschien een beetje timmeren op de minister, en dat wordt je niet altijd in dank afgenomen."
    Mangal-Mansaram werd – althans zo leek het – beide malen teruggefloten door haar partijvoorzitter Ram Sardjoe, tevens voorzitter van de DNA. Maar ze wuift deze visie van de hand. "Al zou de voorzitter mij op het matje hebben geroepen, ik heb het nooit zo gezien. Hij wilde zijn politieke ervaring met mij delen. Iemand die al 43 jaar in de politiek zit, heeft het toch wel in zijn vingertoppen", klinkt het nu ineens als een voorbeeldige leerling. "Mijn conclusie is dat je veel kan leren. Je hoeft er niet altijd mee eens te zijn. Mijn voorzitter wilde me duidelijk maken hoe het politieke spel te spelen. Ik heb opengestaan voor die kritiek. Dit politieke spel en het algemeen belang hoeven niet met elkaar in strijd te zijn. Je kan de minister voor hond uitmaken of je kan hem aaien. Als je het een beetje inkleed dan krijg je wel zaken gedaan. Wat is dan belangrijker: je ego strelen of dat het algemeen belang wordt uitgevoerd? Als de persoon Mangal moet buigen daarvoor, dan doe ik dat."
    Al 43 jaar in de politiek, is er dan eerder sprake van politieke verstarring? "Ik heb niets bij Sardjoe gezien dat hij verstard is. Hij gaat voor argumenten: je moet kunnen onderbouwen. Het lukt mij meestal wel hem te overtuigen. Dat is nog altijd beter dan wanneer er wordt gezegd: ‘Omdat ik dat zeg'. Sardjoe gaat voor een gericht jongeren- en vrouwenbeleid. Op elke vergadering roept hij vrouwen op te participeren. Dat zou in zijn tijd een rariteit zijn. Hij heeft ook een doelgroep gemaakt van de ‘first voters', dat zijn jongeren die voor het eerst kiesgerechtigd zijn. Vanuit de partij worden zij benaderd met propagandamateriaal. We hopen dat velen respons zullen geven."

    Politieke uitbraak
    Hoe dan ook, het ogenschijnlijk teruggefloten worden zou normaal een schending van het politieke aangezicht zijn. Het ‘beetje timmeren' op ministers leverde meteen haar politieke doorbraak of beter gezegd uitbraak op. Ze werd een jonge heldin, omdat ze openlijk in het verweer durfde te komen tegen een rigide partijdiscipline. De West noemde haar de ‘Jeanne d'Arc'. "Het ging wel gepaard met spanning binnen de partij, omdat ik niet vooraf afstemming pleegde. Ik ging op solotoer. Maar er is wat gedaan aan de criminaliteit; soms helpt een koevoet."
    Toch vindt Mangal-Mansaram het onterecht dat de indruk bestaat dat het drie jaar heeft geduurd voordat ze als jongere haar mond durfde te roeren in het parlement. "Dat is een foute indruk die mensen hebben. We werden in juli 2000 beëdigd. Inderdaad neem je de eerste maanden een afwachtende houding. In november-december, tijdens de begrotingsbehandeling, hield ik mijn maidenspeech. Ik werd toen nog geïnterrumpeerd door Jenny Simons, wat overigens heel spannend was, want zij is toch een van de ervaren mensen. Maar positieve dingen vallen de mensen niet op; alleen controverse en ruzie."
    Hoewel het interne democratische gehalte van politieke partijen ‘naar een hoger niveau' moet, durft Mangal-Mansaram te stellen dat die van de VHP ‘vrij hoog' is. "Iedereen was ervan overtuigd dat ik nooit meer kandidaat zou worden gesteld, omdat ik zogenaamd ruzie met de VHP zou hebben. ‘Zij komt nooit meer op de lijst', werd er gezegd. Er waren weddenschappen afgesloten voor soms wel duizend Surinaamse dollars; mensen kwamen naar me toe om te vertellen dat ze hun geld hadden verloren", vertelt ze grinnikend. Ze is als tweede geplaatst op de kandidatenlijst voor Wanica, achter vice-president Jules Ajodhia. "Dat wil dus zeggen dat de partij voor kwaliteit gaat. Ik was een testcase voor het Nieuw Front. Mensen waren bezorgd dat Venetiaan en Gilds niet zouden tekenen. Het democratisch gehalte van het Nieuw Front is toch wel hoog en dat geeft heel wat hoop voor de toekomst."

    Nationale Ombudsman
    Hoewel ze stelt dat niemand onmisbaar is, ambieerde ze toch wel een tweede termijn. Ze had namelijk voor een aantal zaken gepleit zoals het ‘Instituut Nationale Ombudsman', waarover overigens haar afstudeerscriptie ging. Mangal-Mansaram is bezig met de voorbereiding van een wetsontwerp hiervoor, wat ook wordt opgenomen in het verkiezingsprogramma.
    "De Nationale Ombudsman is een belangrijk instituut om de relatie tussen overheid en burger te verbeteren", zegt ze. "Burger kunnen nergens terecht met hun klachten. Voor als je onheus wordt bejegend of dat je vergunningaanvraag of bouwtekening al een jaar ligt te wachten voor behandeling. Bepaalde beroepsmogelijkheden werken nu eenmaal niet in de praktijk of mensen kennen die niet. En de weg naar de rechter is meestal een lijdensweg. Zo'n instituut vereist wel een hoog democratisch gehalte; je moet als overheid zo'n waakhond gedogen. De wetsartikelen zijn af, alleen de memorie van toelichting levert nog enkele problemen op."
    Sowieso kon het allemaal veel beter wat de afgelopen vijf jaar is neergezet. "Ik onderwerp mezelf altijd aan kritiek. We zullen de komende periode zeker harder moeten werken aan bepaalde stukken. Ik ga mijn eigen aanpak verbeteren: meer ordening en meer mensen betrekken bij het werk, ook jongeren, voor meer diepgang. In het begin dachten mensen dat ik alleen aanzat voor het gezicht van verjonging; om vijf jaren een jaknikker te zijn. Die mensen hebben lelijk op hun neus gekeken."
    En is minister Gilds een van die mensen? "Gilds is een heel aardig mens, heel aangenaam. Maar op het punt van beleid ging het best wel niet goed. Hij wilde bepaalde mensen in bescherming nemen. Mijn standpunt is: haal ze weg, want we hebben geen tijd te verliezen. Mensen dachten dat ik iets tegen Gilds had. Dat was ook het dilemma: hij is een innemend mens, jammer was uitgerekend hij de minister van Justitie. Maar wanneer het algemeen belang in het geding zal zijn, zal je mij toch even hard kritiek horen leveren, of het mijn eigen regering is of niet. Het inkleden zal dan niet altijd even goed lukken."


              Een Goede Basis - Ruth Wijdenbosch        

    Paramaribo - Weer is er een ‘goede basis' gelegd. Het Nieuw Front wil nog eens vijf jaar, waardoor de bevolking ‘eindelijk profijt' zal hebben van de stabiliteit, zegt Ruth Wijdenbosch, zevende op kandidatenlijst van de NPS in Paramaribo. Het wordt haar ‘laatste termijn' als politica. "Als het ons weer wordt ontnomen, heb ik sowieso niet meer de puf om met het Nieuw Front in 2010 puin te ruimen."

    Tekst Iwan Brave/dWT foto Werner Simons, de Ware Tijd 21 april 2005

    Ze is net weer op krachten gekomen, na een week van ziek zijn. De griep. Daardoor heeft ze een aantal belangrijke verkiezingsvergaderingen van haar partij gemist. Maar er zijn gelukkig nog meer belangrijke vergaderingen op schema. "Ik denk dat we er echt lekker inkomen", zegt ze over de verkiezingskoorts binnen de partij. "Wat ik om me heen hoor is dat de spirit erin zit. Je hoort wel NPS'er klagen dat ze worden verwaarloosd als we in de regering zitten, maar als eenmaal de campagne er is, gaan ze volop voor de partij. Ik zat wel in de spanning, want er is nog veel werk te verrichten aan infrastructuur, woningbouw en perceelaanvragen. Dat zijn de zaken die ik het meest tegenkom."
    Om de woensdag houdt Ruth Jeanette Wijdenbosch als parlementariër een spreekuur waarbij ‘iedereen' welkom. "Waarschijnlijk vinden de mensen dat de NPS te algemeen werkt, te veel naar nationale ontwikkelingen gaat. Maar mensen vergeten dat ze juist daarom voor de partij hebben gekozen", zegt ze.
    Is de NPS binnen het Nieuw Front de partij die meestal de kastanjes uit het vuur haalt?
    "Ik vind van wel. Hoewel vaker wordt gezegd dat we een creoolse partij zijn, gaat de NPS voor de belangen van alle bevolkingsgroepen. Het is niet zo dat we bijvoorbeeld voor die van Para en Coronie gaan en niet voor die van Wanica. De NPS probeert breed ontwikkeling te brengen. De indruk bestaat dat andere partijen zich meer bezig houden met de eigen groep, met mensen die op hun lijken, zoals dat wordt gezegd. Maar over het algemeen worden binnen het Nieuw Front de belangen van alle groepen behartigd. En elke groep – ook maatschappelijke of sociale – heeft zijn specifieke belangen die naar voren worden gebracht. Daarom is het belangrijk dat er binnen deze groep een katalysator is die kan zeggen: ‘Ho, iedereen is gelijk'. En zo'n goede katalysator is president Venetiaan. Men zegt weleens dat er onder hem geen daadkracht is, maar binnen het Nieuw Front worden beslissingen genomen op basis van consensus; vooral de twee grote partijen erin, maken dat je wat langer praat. Vandaar dat Venetiaan als NPS- voorzitter heeft gezegd dat het moeilijk wordt te regeren met nog een andere combinatie. Dat is niet zozeer principieel tegen bepaalde partijen gericht. Maar samenwerken met Desi Bouterse is voor mezelf niet mogelijk. Ik zal niet zeggen met heel de NDP, maar er zijn meerdere personen in die partij waarmee samenwerken principieel niet mogelijk is."

    Waarschuwend geluid
    En Jules Wijdenbosch van de VVV? "Ik heb niets tegen de persoon Wijdenbosch, wel tegen zijn werkwijze. Hij is iemand die wettelijke regels met de voeten treedt. Hij vindt dat hij cheques mag tekenen en de staat daarmee mag binden. Het geldt ook voor Henk Goedschalk en Errol Alibux. Goedschalk heeft voor zoveel ellende gezorgd. Hij heeft nooit een waarschuwend geluid vanuit de Centrale Bank laten uitgaan, zoals André Telting dat meerdere malen heeft gedaan. Hij en de minister Humphrey Hildenberg van Financiën zijn gekomen met regels van zelfstrafbaarstelling; dat zijn mensen waarmee ik kan werken, mensen die ‘nee' kunnen zeggen tegen een president. Maar Goedschalk gaf juist aanwijzingen hoe regels te omzeilen en zichzelf daarbij te bevoordelen. Persoonlijk ben ik iemand die qua regels strikt is."
    Terugkomend op het onderwerp van ‘gebrek aan daadkracht' zegt Wijdenbosch dat economische ‘ordening' veel tijd in beslag heeft genomen. Er is een commissie Staatsschulden ingesteld en zelfs een ‘bureau voor de staatsschulden'. Deze ordening is zowel nationaal als internationaal van groot belang voor Suriname. "Men onderschat vertrouwen hebben in instituten als de regering en de Centrale Bank", zegt Wijdenbosch. "Komende uit de bankwereld weet ik dat dat van eminent belang is. Vroeger als men de naam ‘Suriname' hoorde, kon je makkelijk kredieten sluiten. Anno 2005 is dat vertrouwen weer op de drempel van herstel. De komende vijf jaar staan we binnen en kunnen we weer aan tafel schuiven."
    Kijkende naar sociale toestanden in wijken; worden mensen dan niet vergeten? "Het lijkt alsof we uitsluitend kijken naar stabiliteit. Je hoort ook die kritiek: ‘kijk over die muur van stabiliteit'. Maar zonder kan je niet eten, niet doen aan armoedebestrijding, goede huisvesting, onderwijs en gezondheidszorg. Als die stabiliteit als basis er niet is, dan is het dweilen met de kraan open. Die stond wagenwijd open toen we in 2000 aantraden. Er waren zoveel schulden die eerst op een rij moesten worden gezet. Men onderschat dat, vandaar dat we veel werk in de campagne moeten steken. Die armoede zit diep. Elke keer laat het Nieuw Front deflatie achter, maar als er een andere regering komt, zitten we weer op het nulpunt."

    Grote ontwikkelingen
    Maar Wijdenbosch wil toch graag erop wijzen dat er wel degelijk ook aan andere zaken wordt gewerkt. Ze wijst erop dat in 2000 de AOV 35 Surinaamse dollar bedroeg en dat die systematisch verhoogd is naar 175 Surinaamse dollar. De overheid heeft weliswaar slechts zo'n 800 sociale woningen opgezet, maar daarnaast zijn door particulieren duizenden woningen gebouwd tegen 7 procent leenrente. Toegegeven, het kan allemaal beter.
    "Er leven nog te veel mensen in armoede", geeft Wijdenbosch ruiterlijk toe. "Maar dat komt niet door het Nieuw Front, men kijkt wel naar ons. Maar ook ik kijk naar het Nieuw Front. Er moet een minimaal sociaal pakket komen waarop iedereen recht heeft. We staan aan de vooravond hiervan. Als het Nieuw Front nog eens vijf jaar krijgt, dan liggen er grote ontwikkelingen op stapel, waardoor de bevolking eindelijk profijt zal hebben van stabiliteit."
    Zo ligt er een sectorplan Huisvestingsbeleid gereed met een budget van 18 miljoen euro, deels gefinancierd uit de eigen begroting, deels uit de verdragsmiddelen. Ze wijst ook op sectorplannen voor volksgezondheid en onderwijsvernieuwing. "De afgelopen periode was de meest actieve waardoor een goede basis is gelegd voor de komende tien jaren in de sociale sector", zegt Wijdenbosch.
    Huisvesting is iets wat zij ‘op de voet' volgt. "Ik volg alle volkswoningbouwprojecten. We zijn bezig bestaande woningen op huurkoopbasis over te dragen. Voorlopig hebben we alle verhogingen van de huurprijs van volkswoningen aangehouden. Er ligt ook een andere projectfinanciering van China op stapel." Wijdenbosch is van mening dat Sociale Zaken ‘uit de sfeer van bedelen' moet worden gehaald. Van eminent belang daarbij is een samenwerking tussen Sociale Zaken en het Ministerie van Arbeid. "Ook de mensen zelf moeten uit die sfeer, vooral vrouwen", licht Wijdenbosch toe. "Ik kijk uit naar een totale transformatie, waarbij we naar gezinsbegeleiding moeten. De projecten moeten er op gericht zijn mensen economisch zelfstandig en weerbaar te maken. Men moet er trots op zijn dat je uit die armoedecyclus wordt gehaald. Men moet niet langer naar Sociale Zaken gaan voor alleen die sociale kaart of kinderbijslag, maar voor perspectief voor jou en je kinderen. En dat kan allemaal niet zonder die stabiliteit."

    Opbeurend telefoontje
    Er wordt meerdere malen gebeld. Een treurig telefoontje betreft het ernstige verkeersongeluk dat Luciën ‘Piertje' Piereau – de ‘officieuze bodyguard' van president Venetiaan – de nacht eerder is overkomen, na een partijvergadering in Para. Een ander telefoontje is opbeurend. "Iemand belt en zegt dat ze nu al een uitnodiging wil voor de inauguratie van onze president", lacht Wijdenbosch. De spirit lijkt inderdaad aanwezig. Ze wijst op de basis die eerder tussen 1991 en 1996 was gelegd, waarna de regeermacht werd weggekaapt. "Als het ons weer wordt ontnomen, heb ik in elk geval niet de puf om weer met Nieuw Front in 2010 puin te ruimen", zegt Wijdenbosch zorgelijk. "Gelukkig hoor ik jongeren ook zeggen: ‘Toch Nieuw Front, want andere regeringen breken alles af'. Jongeren vormen geen homogene groep. Je hebt een deel dat heel verstandig denkt, maar ook een deel dat heel rijk wil worden zonder werken. En als iemand dan dansend en huppelend op het podium komt, die onverklaarbaar rijk is geworden, dan is hij jouw idool."
    Op de opmerking dat er ook weldenkende jongeren binnen de NDP zijn, zegt Wijdenbosch: "Maar als je ze confronteert met de Decembermoorden, de slachting van Moiwana, de moord op Gooding, Horb en Hawker en met al die militairen die zijn verdwenen of zogenaamd een zonnesteek hebben opgelopen, dan weten zij als intellectuele jongeren daarop geen antwoord. Of ze doen er stoer over. Maar een fundamentele discussie vermijden ze. Omdat ze weten dat als ze erbij stilstaan, ze het ook moeten veroordelen. Maar Bouterse is de jongste van de groep van grote partijleiders. Hij is ook een volksjongen. Daarnaast voelen bepaalde jonge mensen zich aangetrokken tot iemand die wakamantaal spreekt."
    Wijdenbosch heeft 33 jaren in het bankwezen gewerkt, waarin afwisselende werk heeft gedaan. Afwisseling, daar houdt ze van. Daarom zijn vijf perioden in het parlement wel welletjes. Al vanaf 1987 is ze in de politiek. "Ik ben zo langzamerhand een veteraan", zegt ze met lichte zelfspot. Ook al komt het Nieuw Front weer in de coalitie, dan nog wil ze het daarna voor gezien houden. "Omdat jongeren moeten overnemen", motiveert zij. "We moeten meer vertrouwen in jongeren stellen en meer in ze investeren. Leiders denken vaak dat als ze opstappen, de zaak in elkaar zal donderen. Maar dat is niet waar. Onze democratie moet verfijnder worden. Ik ben voorstander van beperking van zittingsperioden voor bestuurlijke functies; alleen dan krijg je snellere doorstroming. Binnen politieke partijen worden bepaalde jongere personen als leider wel gedragen door de tweede en derde lijn, maar toch worden zij niet naar voren geschoven. Dat getuigt niet van politieke moed. De leiders in Suriname gaan lang door in leeftijd, waardoor er een generatiekloof kan ontstaan met jongeren. Tegen de tijd dat de volgende overneemt, dan is die ook al 70 jaar oud, maar wil ook enkele jaren leiden. Daarom zeg ik voor mezelf: ‘Mijn laatste periode'."

    Volgende uitdaging
    De reden waarom Wijdenbosch in 1987, na zeven jaren militaire dictatuur, in de politieke arena stapte, was herstel van democratie en rechtsstaat. "Hiervoor is inmiddels een goede basis gelegd", zegt zij. "Maar onderzoek naar schending van mensenrechten is nog steeds in de beginfase. Ik ben ervan overtuigd dat het ook hiervan iets terecht zal komen; Suriname zal geen uitzondering worden. Bij veel voormalige militaire dictaturen zie je dat het oplossen van mensenschendingen trager van de grond is gekomen."
    Als vice-voorzitter heeft ze de tweede hoogste functie bekleed in het parlement, het controlerend orgaan van staatsmacht. "Ik prijs me gelukkig als enige vrouw een vijfde periode te kunnen doen; waarvan ik tweemaal vice-voorzitter ben geweest, dat kan niemand anders vertellen. Ik heb menigmaal als waarnemend voorzitter opgetreden en heb nooit iemand horen klagen: ‘Ram Sardjoe is weg en het werk ligt stil'. Dan is nog mijn enige volgende uitdaging het voorzitterschap van DNA."
    Over het niveau van het parlement zegt ze: "Ik kijk uit naar meer professionals. Mensen moeten zich in specifiekere onderdelen verdiepen. We houden ons te weinig bezig met het algemeen beleid en bewegen te veel op het niveau van RR- en DR-raad. Ik ben ook voor meer efficiëntie binnen het parlement, met een strakkere spreektijd. Ik heb november vorig jaar in het Italiaanse parlement een Vrouwenwereldconferentie mogen voorzitten – wat ik als een hoogtepunt heb ervaren. Het ging over rechten van kinderen en jonge mensen. Na drie minuten schakelde de griffier je microfoon uit en ging die van de voorzitter weer aan."
    Maar om efficiënt te kunnen werken, zijn een nieuw DNA-gebouw en een fulltime functie ‘hoogste prioriteit'. "Dat nieuwe gebouw moet er zeker komen in de komende vijf jaar", zegt Wijdenbosch. "Ik geloof ook erin dat het moet lukken aan de hand van onze prestaties, onze gedrevenheid en goede argumentatie de mensen ervan te kunnen overtuigen dat kiezen voor de toekomst een keuze voor het Nieuw Front is. Ik geloof erin dat het geld dat verdiend is en zal worden verdiend, geïnvesteerd zal worden in de mensen. Voor een groot deel is de moeilijke periode achter de rug. Als het de komende termijn er niet van komt, dan zal ik samen met hen teleurgesteld zijn."


              Niet Tégen, Maar Vóór - Marten Schalkwijk        

    DOE is een hervormingspartij. Dat betekent dat vóór de verkiezingen niet met de NDP, VVV of het Nieuw Front wordt gewerkt.


    Tekst Iwan Brave/dWT foto Hijn Bijnen, de Ware Tijd, 19 april 2005

    "Het inkomen van de burger moet naar een hoger plan", zegt voorzitter Marten Schalkwijk, tevens lijsttrekker in Paramaribo. Hij is pragmatisch en hekelt de ‘schijnwerkelijkheid' van de Surinaamse democratie. "Het is een flinterdun vernislaagje, maar inhoudelijk is het niets."

    Tegenwoordig is het kantoor van Nikos (NGO Instituut voor Kaderontwikkeling en Onderzoek) niet meer te missen in de Albergastraat. Buiten staat prominent een verkiezingsbord van UPS-DOE B ‘time for a change'. Het lijkt de overgang te verbeelden van Marten Schalkwijk als onderzoeker in het sociaal-maatschappelijk veld naar de politicus in de politieke arena. Zeven jaar geleden heeft hij Nikos opgezet, zijn dagelijks werk. Veel onderzoek. "Ik probeer die samenleving goed te begrijpen en in kaart te brengen. Daarnaast begeleiden we een aantal organisaties, we monitoren een pakket van Cordaid-ontwikkelingsprojecten ter waarde van 1 miljoen euro. Dat stopt eind april."
    Maar Nikos blijft. Schalkwijk wacht de verkiezingen af. Als hij in het parlement komt, zal hij Nikos als wetenschappelijk en onderzoeksbureau inzetten, om sociaal- maatschappelijke en economische zaken te ‘onderbouwen'. Daarbij zal hij veel studenten inzetten. "Ik hou ervan met jongeren te werken, niet- of net afgestudeerden. Je traint ze door met ze te praten, veel verantwoordelijkheid te geven. In zo'n drie jaar moeten ze zodanig zijn dat ze zeer goed terechtkomen. Wie goed is krijgt ontslag. Ze krijgen bij Nikos alle kansen van hun leven door hard te werken. In onze samenleving krijgen veel te weinig jonge academici goede kansen."
    Eigenlijk had hij de afspraak willen afzeggen, deze vrijdagmorgen, twee dagen voor zijn vijftigste verjaardag. UPS-DOE (Unie van Progressieve Surinamers-Partij voor Democratie, Ontwikkeling en Eenheid) had de avond ervoor de eerste wijkvergadering in Nickerie, in Paradise om precies te zijn. Op de heenweg maakte Schalkwijk een tussenstop in Coronie, voor een ‘radioprogrammetje' met de DOE- lijsttrekker aldaar. De vergadering liep om elf uur ‘s avonds af, toen werd er nog nagekaart en pas rond middernacht werd de terugreis ondernomen.
    Schalkwijk, de ijzervreter, ziet er geradbraakt uit. Hoewel vier uur ‘s ochtends thuis kroop hij niet meteen in bed. Eerst mediteren, de bijbel lezen en bidden. "Ik word geïnspireerd vanuit mijn geloof; niet door machtsdrang en geld verdienen", vertelt de christen in hem. "Het gaat ook om naastenliefde. Je moet voor alles een innerlijke motivatie hebben, het kan ook een externe zijn maar dan is die meestal zwakker. Dat weerhoudt mij ervan corrupt zijn of bepaalde feiten te plegen."
    Hoe rijmt dit zich met een eventuele samenwerking met de NDP, die wordt geleid door een ‘veroordeelde drugscrimineel'. "Ik ben op zich pragmatisch; niet op de zaken vooruitlopen. Dat betekent dat DOE vóór de verkiezingen niet met de NDP, niet met de VVV en niet met Front wil samenwerken. Want wij zijn een hervormingspartij, omdat het inkomen van de burger naar een hoger plan moet; we draaien al dertig jaar in een rondje. Als het slecht gaat met je bedrijf, dan moet het management worden vervangen. Dat geldt ook voor een land. Er is toenemende armoede en toenemende ongelijkheid van inkomens. Na de verkiezingen kijken we wat de uitslag is. Wat heeft de kiezer aan de verschillende partijen gegeven? En op basis daarvan kijken we verder. Als de kiezer ons minder dan vijf zetels geeft, gaan we in de oppositie. We hoeven niet per se bij de pot. Van: hier, neem een of twee ministeries en de boel wordt verkaveld. We willen integraal op het beleid zitten, zo niet; in de oppositie. Dus als de mensen beleidsverandering willen, dan moeten ze ons meer dan vijf zetels geven."

    Zwijggeld
    Schalkwijk is niet gecharmeerd van het gemiddeld niveau in De Nationale Assemblée (DNA). Hij noemt het salaris van vele parlementariërs dan ook ‘zwijggeld'. "Want je moet toch flink van je kunnen afpraten, maar binnen de oude partijen mogen alleen de fractieleiders aan het woord. Kijk maar naar Mangal- Ramsaram; hoe lang heeft het geduurd voordat zij sprak. Het is jammer dat wij haar drie jaar lang niet hebben gehoord. Alle 51 personen dienen te praten. Ik denk dat als je de kwaliteit van de DNA vergelijkt met die van Staten in de jaren ‘60, dan is er sprake van een veel slechter niveau. Te weinig deskundigen, je merkt dat aan de debatten. Mensen met een beetje niveau zijn op één hand te tellen. De DNA is nu niet meer dat controlerende orgaan, maar het stempelkussencollege van de regering. Maar volgens de Grondwet gaat het om de mensen die gekozen worden.
    Ook de oppositie vind ik heel zwakjes; die verschuilt zich achter het feit dat zij ‘niet in het machtscentrum' zit. Dus wacht men dan maar vijf jaren af. Het gaat erom dat je een goede job voor het land wil doen en vooral controle uitoefent op de regering. Het machtscentrumdenken is zo diepgeworteld dat de oppositie zichzelf uitschakelt. Men wacht liever vijf jaar; dicht bij de pot. De kiezer heeft hierdoor een verkeerd beeld van het waarom: je kan niet met alle 51 in het machtscentrum belanden. Het is voor sommige partijen ook een vrij etnische campagne van ‘ala man e nyan, mek unu go nyan ook tu'. Daarmee krijg je geen goed beleid, maar hetzelfde hoopje poep met andere vliegen."
    Een duidelijke aanklacht. En Schalkwijk wil niet meer langer behoren tot de beste stuurlui die aan wal staan. Hij spreekt van een ‘schijnwerkelijkheid', een ‘flinterdun democratisch vernisje'. "Terwijl mensen pinaren", zegt hij. "Omdat vaak mensen geen visie hebben en geen inhoud. Hoe diepgaand worden zaken nu besproken in de DNA? Men praat langs elkaar heen in dit land, omdat men het debat niet durft aan te gaan."
    Schalkwijk geeft nog een voorbeeld van dat ‘dunne vernislaagje'. Twee weken geleden reed hij in Nickerie, over de Cassaveweg. Toen hij een zandstraat wilde inslaan, zag hij op de hoek een infocentrum, glanzend geverfd in de kleuren van de betreffende partij. "Overal zie je die zogenaamde infocentra, waarvan tweederde gesloten is", vertelt hij. "Het is allemaal buitenkant. Toen ik die hoek omsloeg, zag ik dat de rest van gebouw ongeverfd en vol spinrag. Dat bedoel ik met dat flinterdun laagje; ‘das ist nur façade' zegt de Duitser, inhoudelijk is het niets. Veel politici hebben geen inhoud, maar proberen met wat show de kiezers op hun hand te krijgen."
    Het is duidelijk dat Schalkwijk socioloog is. Hij brengt haarscherpe analyses, altijd overtuigend en onderbouwd. Zijn boek ‘Het steentje in de Nederlandse schoen' uit 1994 over de zeurende ontwikkelingsrelatie tussen Suriname en Nederland – en veel meer natuurlijk – geeft aan dat hij ook op geschrift helder kan onderbouwen. Een kwaliteit waarmee weinigen zijn begiftigd.
    Hij wil niets weten over de algemene klacht van de oppositie dat niet naar haar plannen wordt geluisterd door de coalitie. Er kan ook anders oppositie worden gevoerd. Bijvoorbeeld via het ‘maatschappelijk debat'. Schalkwijk: "Als je de burgers achter je krijgt, dan zal het moeilijk zijn om het plan af te wijzen. Neem bijvoorbeeld het verkeer, waarvan iedereen hinder ondervindt. Maar het oplossen betekent natuurlijk wel veel onderzoek, stadsplanning en wegenplanning. Je moet keihard werken. Te vaak wordt er vanuit de losse pols gewerkt. Niet alleen in de DNA."

    Sterke-leiderschapsyndroom
    De populariteit van Bouterse schrijft Schalkwijk toe aan het ‘sterke- leiderschapsyndroom'. "Veel burgers hebben liever dat de leiders de verantwoordelijkheden dragen, dan kan men die van zich afschuiven", licht hij toe. "Maar democratie betekent inspraak. Ook inhoudelijk nadenken. Ik ging een keer op huisbezoek in een wijk. Ik klopte aan bij een bouwvallig huis, waar de armoede van afdroop. Toen ik vroeg: ‘Mevrouw, wat is het grootste probleem hier?', was het antwoord: ‘Nou meneer, daar stelt u een moeilijke vraag'. Je ziet dat mensen niet zelf reflecteren over de situatie. Als je bij een wijkvergadering vraagt ‘hebben jullie vragen?', ‘wat leeft bij jullie, want ik ben nieuwsgierig als politicus', dan heeft niemand een vraag. Maar mensen zijn gewoon niet gewend inspraak te hebben. Ze zijn gewend dat je ze een hand vol beloften geeft en een goed gevoel.
    In het geval van Bouterse gaat het om een sterke man om dingen gedaan te krijgen: men ziet namelijk dat het niet goed gaat. Daarbij heeft hij dat charismatische; hij is de volgende verlosser. Maar je stem is heel wat waard; daarmee moet je goed beleid kopen. Maar nu worden stemmen verkwanseld in een soort jackpot; mensen wagen een gok op politici die loze beloften doen. De verkiezing mag nooit een gok zijn: wie heeft een goed programma, wie heeft integriteit en wie heeft deskundigheid; daar gaat het om."
    Maar is ook dat geen gok? "Ik weet niet of dat wel zo is. Je hebt bepaalde partijen die emoties opzwepen: het wijgevoel, het vlaggengevoel, sopi uitdelen zodat mensen beneveld gaan stemmen. Tegenwoordig word je gewoon betaald. Het is een armoedecultuur. Maar een deel van de kiezers is zelf gecorrumpeerd. ‘Hoeveel geld heb je?' wordt er gevraagd. Je denkt dat je die politieke partij pakt. Maar als je die 50 Surinaamse dollar over vijf jaar uitsmeert, is dat per maand tachtig cent, per week twintig cent, per dag... ze lachen jou uit."
    Schalkwijk wijt het ook aan de partijpolitiek dat bestuurders niet hebben geleerd verder te denken. "Toen ik bij de NPS zat, kwam ik met het voorstel alle RR- en DR- leden te trainen om zo je partij op te bouwen. Nee nee, dat was niet de bedoeling. Partijen die al zo lang bestaan hebben geen kaderschool, niet omdat ze het niet kunnen maar omdat ze het niet willen."
    DOE heeft de afgelopen twee jaar kadercursussen verzorgd, een stuk of twaalf, maar ook aan bestuursleden en kandidaten van andere partijen. "De helft was geen DOE. We hebben eenheid in ons vaandel staan", zegt Schalkwijk. "Zie het maar als een stukje ontwikkelingshulp. Het gaat om de basiszaken: wat is bestuur, wat is politiek en wat is democratie? Dan sta je ervan versteld hoevelen daarvan geen notie hebben. Er wordt politiek bedreven maar velen in politieke partijen weten niet hoe en waarom. De PNR had dat wel vroeger met mensen als Fred Derby; dat was hun kracht." Schalkwijk wijt deze cultuur aan een ‘centralistische politiek'. "Men denkt in termen van machtsconcentratie; men wil niet die druk van onderaf, die zeker komt als je kaders traint."

    Slechts kruimeltjes
    DOE heeft een poging tot samenwerking gezocht in augustus 2003 op basis van de nota ‘De weg naar nieuw politiek leiderschap'. "Iedereen was positief", vertelt hij. "En dat was ook het vreemde. Ik heb tientallen uren met voorzitters gesproken. Maar toen ik vervolgens vroeg om een inhoudelijke of meer formele reactie, bleef dat uit. Hier heb je weer dat voorbeeld van het maatschappelijk debat dat wordt vermeden. Alleen de UPS-partijen hebben positief gereageerd, met hen hebben we tweemaal inhoudelijk gesproken over die nota. We hebben een jaar met elkaar gesproken. Op basis daarvan hebben we elkaar gevonden. De UPS was al door een fusie door een proces gegaan en dat was voor ons waardevol. Het was teleurstellend dat andere partijen niet geïnteresseerd waren."
    Op de vraag waarom DOE niet met UPS een partij is geworden, antwoordt Schalkwijk: "We waren te kort voor de verkiezing voor een fusie. Ik heb die van UPS van dichtbij meegemaakt. Dat zijn moeizame processen. We hebben gezegd: stap voor stap. Toch een stukje pragmatisme: laten we beginnen samen te werken. Het gaat om hervorming en vorming van de samenleving; om die potentie er een keer uit te halen; dat is mijn insteek. Dan til je de hele samenleving, zeker de achtergestelde groepen, naar een hoger niveau. Ik zie politiek als mensen die rond een taart zitten en die willen delen. Maar de taart wordt kleiner en de gevechten groter. Nu krijgen de gewone burgers slechts kruimeltjes. Dan is de oplossing een grotere nationale taart bakken."
    In 2000 haalde DOE de kiesdrempel niet. Deze keer ziet Schalkwijk meer kansen, nu zijn partij in een combinatie meedoet. Hij verwacht dat zo'n zes combinaties een zetel zullen halen. "Wij hebben een economisch programma", zegt hij. "De kiezer zal naar een aantal zaken moeten kijken. Die is gewend tégen iets te stemmen. Deze keer is er geen duidelijke anti-issue. Dus eindelijk heeft men een kans om vóór iets te kunnen stemmen. Hoewel de NDP en het Nieuw Front proberen de verkiezingen te polariseren; beide claimen dat het tussen hún gaat. Wij zeggen: nee. Als de kiezers zich weer voor de gek laten houden door deze polarisatie, dan hebben ze het ook niet geleerd. De patronagepolitiek heeft als een houtluizennest in het gebouw Staat Suriname huisgehouden. Het wordt tijd om die houtluizen te bestrijden."


              â€œEr Is Iets Mis Met Ons Kiesstelsel”        

    Paramaribo - "Maak het landelijk evenredig, stel een districtsparlement in, halveer De Nationale Assemblée en schaf de Ressortraad af." Zo reageert Maarten Schalkwijk, lijsttrekker van DOE in Paramaribo, op de constatering van het IDOS dat bijna de helft van de kiesgerechtigden in Paramaribo woont, maar dat nog altijd het kiesdistrictenstelsel geldt.

    Tekst Iwan Brave/de Ware Tijd 15 april 2005 - foto DOEpartij.org

    "Het zou er beter aan toe zijn met een landelijk evenredigheidsstelsel, maar dan moet er wel een oplossing worden gezocht voor vooral de kleine districten", voegt hij eraan toe.
    Het huidige kiesdistrictenstelsel is vooral nadelig voor kleine partijen, want die halen vooral in de grotere districten de kiesdeler niet en doen dan vaak landelijk niet mee aan de verkiezingen vanwege financiële beperkingen. "Het is een feite een drain op je resources", zegt Schalkwijk over het huidige kiesstelsel. "Het is absurd dat je je aantal in Wanica behaalde stemmen niet mag optellen bij die van Paramaribo, waardoor drie maal driekwart zetel nul zetels blijft."
    Hij staat niet alleen in deze kritiek. "Ook de UPS gaat voor het landelijk evenredigheidsstelsel", zegt Marijke Djwalapersad, UPS-lijsttrekker in Wanica, namens de combinatie UPS-DOE. "Het evenredigheidsstelsel is het meest democratische, want dan wordt niemand tekort gedaan en niemand overgewaardeerd. Elke stem telt even zwaar, waar die ook is uitgebracht."
    Schalkwijk zegt dat in 2000 op basis van een landelijk evenredigheidsstelsel vijftien zetels naar derde partijen zouden zijn gaan, nu waren het slechts vijf. "Daardoor werd het Nieuw Front met zeven zetels overgewaardeerd", zegt hij. DOE zou minstens één zetel hebben gehaald. Djwalapersad zegt: "Decentralisatie ligt nog ver van ons af, zeker als het aan het Nieuw Front ligt."


    Otmar Rodgers, fractieleider van het NF, wijst deze aantijging van de hand. "De mensen moeten maar eens terug in de geschiedenis duiken, dan zullen ze ontdekken wie het stelsel heeft bedacht; velen weten vaak niet waarover ze praten. De afvaardiging van De Nationale Assemblée moet een bepaald uitgangspunt hebben; als die niet langer rechtvaardig is, dan zal uitgekeken moeten worden naar wat redelijk en billijk is." Na deze voorzichtige formuleringen zegt hij uiteindelijk: "Als Paramaribo meer dan de helft van de kiezers heeft, maar nog geen derde van de zetels levert, dan is er iets mis."


    Het huidige kiesstelsel komt uit de koker van de ‘revolutionairen', eind jaren '80 na de militaire dictatuur. Een van de geestesvaders is Jules Wijdenbosch, thans ‘nationaal lijsttrekker' voor de VVV. Hij is minder stellig over het loslaten van zijn geesteskind. "Ik waag me niet aan nattevingerwerk. We moeten het geheel evalueren. Het lijkt mij altijd goed dat te doen na verloop van tien tot vijftien jaar. Zolang de decentralisatie nog niet is volgroeid, dan is het huidige stelsel een goede zaak. Maar het lijkt mij goed als de nieuwe coalitie tot evaluatie overgaat."
    Iedereen is het eens dat een evenredigheidstelsel niet kan zonder degelijke decentralisatie, anders kunnen de districten het definitief vergeten. "Je ziet dat de districtscommissaris niet veel kan doen", zegt Schalkwijk. "Vaak blijkt het geen onwil, maar men kan niet veel meer doen dan aan de bel trekken. Maar ook in Paramaribo is geen sprake van decentralisatie; kijk maar naar de verschillende wijken. Uiteindelijk wordt veel gefrustreerd door de centrale besluitvorming op regeringsniveau."
    Djwalapersad: "Als we het gehele bestuursstelsel veranderen, met een volwaardig districtsparlement, een gekozen districtscommissaris, dan gaat het wel werken. Het is toch belachelijk dat bepaalde parlementariërs uit de districten over een loopbruggetje beginnen in De Nationale Assemblée; daar moeten internationale issues worden besproken!"
    Dat betekent dat districtspolitici met landelijke ambities via een politieke partij in het parlement moeten komen. "Maar als we het systeem goed aanpakken, dan zullen mensen uit de districten niet eens zoveel behoefte daaraan hebben", weet Djwalapersad. "Maar dan moeten we ook overgaan tot financiële en administratieve decentralisatie." Schalkwijk tot slot: "Iedereen die sociaal of economisch wat wil hebben, trekt naar de grote stad vanwege het verouderde centralistische model.

              De Niet Vervangen Spits - Arnold Kruisland        

    Arnold Kruisland van de NPS-kandidatenlijst, Ronald Hooghart niet erop. Duldt de NPS geen interne schreeuwlelijken meer? Volgens Kruisland is het tijd voor verjonging. Wel zal de NPS ‘inboeten aan vuurkracht'. Maar Hooghart moet zijn ‘stem van de massa' niet overdrijven. "De praktijk leert dat het geen enkele garantie is voor een politieke functie." Het antwoord op ‘neks no fout' barst los op 25 mei.

    Tekst Iwan Brave/de Ware Tijd van 7 april 2005 - foto Dagblad Suriname



    Als we ons maandag bij Kruisland aanmelden binnen in de fractiekamer van de NPS in de Nationale Assemblée, is zijn stem te horen op ‘Radio 10'. Een uur eerder was hij al te horen op ‘ABC Actueel'. "Man of the day," zegt een medewerker lachend. "Natuurlijk vinden mensen het jammer," vertelt hij als we ons inmiddels bevinden in de aangename vergaderruimte ‘bestemd voor de regering', zoals op de deur staat. "Ze zeggen dat het een saaie Assemblée wordt. ‘Wie gaat nu de oppositie van repliek dienen?' vragen ze me. ‘Wie gaat kritiek leveren op eigen collega's en ministers en wie gaat het voor ons opnemen?' Anderen zijn ook gewoon teleurgesteld."

    Is het dan ook juist niet bedoeld om u intern de mond te snoeren?
    "Nee zeker niet. Het is tijd voor verjonging. Anders had ik wel campagne gevoerd, maar ik voel niet die behoefte. Ik zou er wel moeite mee hebben gehad als ik vervangen zou worden wegens niet goed functioneren. Men is zelfs bezorgd om de vuurkracht van de NPS. De voorzitter zei zelfs bij het doornemen van de kandidatenlijst dat hij Hooghart zag als de vervangende spits voor mij."

    Maar nu liggen beide spitsen eruit.
    "Het heeft echt niet gelegen aan de voorzitter. Er waren afdelingsvoorzitters die het er niet over eens waren dat Hooghart kandidaat werd. Hij zou niet passen binnen de structuren van de NPS. Venetiaan dacht ze nog over de streep te trekken. Toen kwamen de argumenten over de uitlatingen van Hooghart op partijgenoten. ‘Als hij het nu al doet, hoe dan straks?' werd er gezegd. En het zijn alleen de afdelingsvoorzitters die mogen stemmen in het congres. Maar ik geef toe dat de NPS behoorlijk aan vuurkracht zal inboeten."

    Is dat niet te veel macht voor afdelingsvoorzitters?
    "Die macht hebben zij niet zomaar. Zij moeten door de onderafdelingen – ook wel de kernen genoemd – het mandaat hebben om de standpunten van die afdelingen kenbaar te maken. In de statuten is vastgelegd hoeveel leden een afdelingsbestuur moet hebben. Dan stuurt het hoofdbestuur een verkiezingscommissie. Hierdoor worden onderonsjes en machtsconcentraties voorkomen. Alles wat het afdelingsbestuur beslist, moet een uitvloeisel zijn van die kernen. Waterdicht is het nooit. Er kunnen zich calamiteiten voordoen. Zoals de affaire van Trefpunt 2000, waarbij afdelingsbesturen zichzelf hebben aangevuld, zonder de afdelingen te kennen. Het is geen volmaakte democratie, maar nog altijd veel beter dan een voorzitter die alle beslissingen neemt, of een hoofdbestuur. De partij neemt nooit beslissingen als er geen consensus is. Dat is sinds Jopie Pengel zo. Bij Ronald Venetiaan zeer zeker. Hij heeft duidelijk gezegd eerst anderen over de streep te moeten trekken ten aan zien van Hooghart. Toch bleven dezelfde afdelingsvoorzitters het bezwaar hebben dat zijn uitlatingen niet door de beugel kunnen."

    Als slechts drie afdelingsvoorzitters tegen zijn, is er dan geen spanningsveld met het democratisch beginsel van de ruime meerderheid?
    "Dat werkt niet bij een democratische partij. Je krijgt verschillende kampen. Je krijgt ze dan niet allemaal in beweging om propaganda te voeren. Het is het hoofdbestuur dat bepaalde beslissingen kan doordrukken. Meestal worden die geaccepteerd. Ik heb wel in de tijd van Jopie Pengel meegemaakt dat hij zei: ‘De plaatsen één, twee, drie en vier beslis ik'. Dat heeft Venetiaan voor Paramaribo in 2000 ook gedaan, maar bij deze verkiezingen niet. Hij heeft het volledig overgelaten aan het congres; ook zijn positie."

    Maar Hooghart is toch de stem van de massa?
    "De ervaring die ik heb sinds Pengel voorzitter was van de Moederbond, is dat als het ging om conflicten tussen arbeidsveld en de regering, Pengel nooit zijn politieke macht heeft kunnen aanwenden. De eis dat politiek en vakbond gescheiden dienen te worden, was de directe aanleiding voor de strijd van Eddy Bruma om C'47 op te richten. Pengel heeft toen afscheid genomen van de Moederbond. Maar toen Bruma voorzitter was van zowel de PNR als C'47 heette het plotseling: ‘politiek kan je niet onderscheiden van vakbeweging'. Maar in de praktijk is gebleken dat het Surinaamse volk dit toch anders ziet. Want Bruma heeft nooit de kiesdeler gehaald, pas nadat de SDP niet meedeed; toen is de kiesdeler gaan zakken. Fred Derby kwam ermee weg, mede door het beleid van Imro Grep als voorzitter bij de Moederbond na de dood van Daal. Toen zijn de meeste bonden overgegaan naar C'47. Derby ging de verkiezingen in als SPA maar haalde nauwelijks 800 stemmen. Dus vér onder de kiesdrempel. Ander voorbeeld is Frank Playfair; hij ging de verkiezingen in onder DP maar haalde nauwelijks 200 stemmen, ondanks de prachtige CAO's die hij afsloot voor onder meer de Paranam Werknemersbond. Al die gezinnen zouden zeker goed moeten zijn voor zo'n 2.000 stemmen. Dus als Hooghart zegt dat hij de massa achter zich heeft en het grootste aantal werknemers vertegenwoordigt, is dat geen enkele garantie dat er voor hem een politieke functie in zit."

    Oudste NPS'ers
    De 68-jarige Kruisland is in tijd van lidmaatschap de ‘oudste NPS'er'. Negentien was hij, toen Pengel hem persoonlijk binnenhaalde. "Ik behoorde tot de jongeren van toen," zegt hij niet zonder enige trots. Hij werd tweede man in het werkkabinet van premier Pengel en zijn persoonlijk secretaris ‘tijdens en na kantooruren'. "Ik bleef één van zijn getrouwen tot zijn dood. Bij zijn begrafenis was ik één van de slippendragers. In ‘de Vrije Stem' werd vermeld dat ik in zijn testament voorkwam." Kruislands stem schakelt over van trots naar ernstig. "Maar Pengel is als een arme man gestorven; net als de oude Iding Soemita. Hij leefde gewoon van zijn salaris en van zijn inkomsten als uitgever van ‘Nieuw Suriname'. Toen hij minister-president af was, had hij geen inkomsten. Zijn huis in de Nickeriestraat heeft hij met veel moeite afgebouwd. Hij heeft er een hypotheek opgenomen. Een jaar later stierf hij en liet géén inkomsten en géén pensioen achter. Ook Jules Sedney heb ik bij de bushalte zien staan bij de Van Idsingastraat. Ik zie het nog zo voor me, met een papaya in een plastic zak."

    Deze aangrijpende beelden waren voor Kruisland reden tijdens Venetiaan-I het initiatiefvoorstel in te dienen voor pensioen van parlementariërs en ministers. Hij noemt nog twee andere verdiensten. Het wetsvoorstel dat iemand die een misdrijf pleegt met een vuurwapen, minimaal vijf jaar krijgt. Maar dit voorstel ging letterlijk in vlammen op tijdens de verwoestende brand van de DNA in 1996. In 2000 diende hij ‘direct' een voorstel in voor het heractiveren van het enquêterecht voor het parlement. "Dan kan het parlement zelfstandig onderzoek verrichten naar zaken zoals de Decembermoorden en corruptieschandalen," zegt Kruisland, die voorzitter is van de commissie anti- corruptiewet. Hij heeft er alles aangedaan voor openbare behandeling van het wetsvoorstel, dat al anderhalf jaar ligt te wachten op afronding. "Dat waren twee zaken die ik graag afgerond had gezien. Ik heb ook de indruk dat het kwam door een stukje onwil."

    Het Nieuw Front wordt verraad verweten na de strijd van het Gestructureerd Samenwerkingsverband. Hoe ziet u dat?

    "We hadden beslist dat er een interimregering zou komen voor de resterende periode om orde op zaken te stellen voor beslissingen van financiële aard, waarvoor niemand verantwoordelijkheid zou dragen. Dan zou André Telting worden aangesteld als president en Eddy Jharap als vice-president. We zouden dus die vijf jaar vervolmaken. Maar Jules Wijdenbosch heeft die weg afgesneden door vervroegde verkiezingen uit te schrijven, terwijl die motie voor zijn afzetting al was aangenomen. Toen we een meerderheid zochten voor de grondwettelijke eis voor het instellen van een president en vice- president, heeft de oppositie verstek laten gaan. Toen hebben we gezegd: het wordt gewoon een politieke kwestie en de partij of combinatie met de meerderheid vormt de regering."

    Waarom kwam er in 2000 geen presidentskoppel in de geest van het Gestructureerd Samenwerkingsverband?
    "Mijn commentaar was altijd dat Telting niet zou passen in een politiek kabinet. Het presidentschap bij de Centrale Bank is zijn ‘pakkie aan'. En niet onterecht, want samen met Humphrey Hildenberg heeft hij wonderen verricht."

    Hoe verklaart u het mogelijk dat Desi Bouterse nog altijd populair is?
    "Wij hebben de militaire coup van '80 gehad. Nederland gaf toen als cadeau een half miljard gulden, zonder enige voorwaarde, zonder enig degelijk plan. Dat terwijl er vanaf 1975 vreselijke botsingen waren over simpele financieringen. Nederland heeft in feite de staatsgreep niet veroordeeld maar beloond. Dus Bouterse kon doen wat geen enkele burgerregering kon doen. Totdat hij op zijn beurt in botsing kwam met Nederland over de besteding, en zijn grootste stommiteit was december 1982.
    Toen kwam het verzet en kregen we in 1987 weer een burgerregering. Nederland heeft het Front toen beloofd: ‘als je wint, draaien we de kraan weer open'. Ik weet nog dat Jagernath Lachmon riep: ‘We gaan naar de Noordzee op 25 mei om ons geld te halen'. Toen was ineens de eis dat Bouterse terug moest naar het kamp. Daar kwam maar geen schot in. Intussen was alles finaal kapot, al het goud was ‘geswapt', geen deviezen en buitenlandse schulden. De militairen hebben hiervan gebruik gemaakt en in 1990 de telefooncoup gepleegd. Ik heb voor het eerst in mijn leven gehuild dat een regering zo makkelijk opzij werd gezet; gewoon door opbellen.
    Toen is het Venetiaan-I gelukt Bouterse toch terug in het kamp te krijgen en nog kregen we geen Nederlandse hulp. We hebben gewoon nooit die ondersteuning gehad om die ontwikkeling voor het volk te brengen. Bouterse en de zijnen hebben daarvan in 1996 weer gebruik gemaakt. Maar het allerergste is dat de jeugd in aanraking is gekomen met de drugscriminaliteit en daarbij heeft kunnen ervaren dat Bouterse nationaal en internationaal de godfather is. Bouterse is in feite arrogant in zijn optreden; door te stellen ‘neks no fout', maakt dat een niet te verwaarlozen deel van de jeugd denkt dat je geld kan verdienen zonder hard werken of legale inspanning."

    Waarom blijft het antwoord uit van Nieuw Front op deze slogan?
    "Omdat we nog niet hierop hebben ingespeeld. We beginnen op 25 april met onze eerste massameeting. Dat gaat dan door tot twee dagen vóór de verkiezingen."

    Wat wordt het?
    "Het moment dat je een regering krijgt van Wijdenbosch of Bouterse, dan zal de koers binnen drie maanden sky-high zijn. Omdat iedereen die een valutarekening heeft, zich gaat indekken. De prijzen in de winkels zullen ook fors omhoog gaan, want de winkeliers zullen zich met dubbele marges moeten indekken om geen verliezen te lijden. Sinds de jaren '80 is er niet meer zoveel gebouwd als nu: er zijn heel wat hypothecaire schulden. Heel wat werken zullen worden gestaakt. Vooral omdat de VS en bevriende landen zeggen: ‘forget it'."

    Dit antwoord past goed bij het verwijt dat het Front bewust Bouterse als het grote kwaad in stand houdt?
    "De oppositionele partijen hebben de politieke fout gemaakt door nooit hun pijlen op Bouterse of Wijdenbosch te hebben gericht, maar op het Front. Dat komt dan ook uit in de peilingen. Niet het A1 of de UPS is gaan groeien, maar juist de NDP. Een keer zei Sital van PVF tegen me: ‘Eigenlijk zijn wij gek. Constant schelden wij het Front uit en het is de NDP die er beter van wordt en wij gaan achteruit. Vandaar."


              Een Premature Coup        

    Hij lacht alweer, zegt CLO-voorzitter Ronald Hooghart na het afvoeren van zijn persoon van de DNA-kandidatenlijst door het NPS-congres, afgelopen zondag. Maar binnen schrijnt het nog danig na. De Farizeeërs hebben kort na het lijdensweek weer toegeslagen. Is Venetiaan onderdeel van het ‘vooropgezet plan? "Hij moet in staat zijn het ontstane probleem terug te brengen tot aanvaardbare proporties."

    Tekst Iwan Brave/de Ware Tijd, 5 april 2005 - foto: Dagblad Suriname

    Eén ding is zeker: de Surinaamse politiek heeft nieuw fenomeen erbij; ‘het bandje van Strijk'. Velen binnen de NPS – die ‘op hun tenen lopen en met hun tong extra naar buiten' – zouden met angst en beven de kandidaatstelling van Hooghart tegemoet hebben gezien.
    Was het bij de verkiezingen van 2000 nog gelukt hem uit de politieke arena te weren, deze verkiezingen leek er geen ontkomen meer aan. Hooghart zat comfortabel en riant gepositioneerd op de vijfde plaats op de lijst van Paramaribo. Niets kon meer misgaan. De haviken binnen de NPS - ‘die de partij denken te bezitten' – konden zich voorbereiden op het ergste. Geen enkele stok leek meer bruikbaar om de hond te slaan. Totdat Henry Strijk, in de hoedanigheid van STVS-verslaggever zaterdagmiddag binnen kwam stappen voor een interview. "Het bandje is gebruikt als product van een scenario", weet Hooghart zeker.
    Het moge duidelijk zijn dat zo'n kleine 24 uur na wat zich het beste laat vergelijken met een premature coup, Hooghart nog heen en weer wordt geslingerd in zijn gevoelens. "We lachen alweer; de emoties zijn van het moment", zegt hij in zijn werkkamer op het CLO-hoofdkwartier aan de Verlengde Gemenelandsweg. Maar daarna geeft hij meteen toe: "Wat gebeurd is, is zeer pijnlijk." Hij is in gezelschap van medebestuursleden, zoals penningmeester Michael Miskin en zijn zoon Andy, die ook zitting heeft in de NPS-Jongerenraad. Vader Hooghart kan zich innerlijk er nog steeds bij neerleggen. "Ik ben van oordeel tegen de achtergrond van de grote mate waarin ik de voorzitter adoreer, hij mij zou moeten vragen wat er aan de hand is. Het zou aanleiding moeten zijn om mij voor een gesprek uit te nodigen over mijn ‘vermeende verkeerde' instelling. Zolang dit niet gebeurt, is hier sprake van een emotioneel besluit."

    Vooropgezet plan
    Bij Hooghart wil het vooralsnog niet in dat president Venetiaan als voorzitter van de NPS geen onderdeel uitmaakt van het scenario, of op zijn minst willens en wetens passief toekijkt naar deze openlijke vorm van broedermoord. "Ik wil eerst wat meer informatie", zegt hij. "Zaterdag is het bandje gebruikt om mij de das om te doen. In een ernstige situatie sla ik normaal links en rechts om me heen. Maar ik wil dat zaken op een rationele beslissing baseren. De beslissing is genomen van het ene op het andere moment. Om elf uur had ik nog gehoord van Erwin Lelie, voorzitter van de afdeling Paramaribo, dat ik nog kandidaat was. Volgens insiders heeft de voorzitter van het congres, Walter Pengel, de beslissing op de valreep genomen. Ik ben van oordeel dat de uiterste top van de partij geloosd is in een vooropgezet plan. Desalniettemin ben ik van mening dat de voorzitter de kandidaat Hooghart had moeten laten komen om uitleg te geven."

    Uit zijn laatste woorden dreunt misschien toch het lichtelijk besef dat Venetiaan hem toch nog – al dan niet noodgedwongen – opoffert. Maar daar kan hij gewoon met zijn verstand niet bij. "De revolutie heeft zijn intrede gedaan in de jaren '80. ik ben blijven strijden voor de terugweg naar de democratie. Daarbij heb ik de NPS door dik en dun gesteund. Onbaatzuchtig. Ik ben nooit ervoor gefacilieerd. Velen lopen op hun tenen en steken hun tongen extra naar buiten. Dus wanneer de mensen voor de tweede achtereenvolgende maal vragen mij op de kandidatenlijst te plaatsen, dan vind ik dat mij men niet kan afwijzen."
    Is het politieke spel toch harder en – en mogelijk smeriger – dan zelfs een bikkelharde straatvechter als Hooghart kon vermoeden? Of was het dan toch een stukje overmoed in een onbewaakt moment, waarbij het doel in zicht was, maar dat de vijand toch in het allerlaatste bosje een val had liggen. Hooghart ziet in elk geval Hesdy Pigot, secretaris op het kabinet van de president, als de kwade genius. In samenspanning met Henry Strijk, als laatste ‘valstrik'. Over Strijk zegt hij: "Hij heeft mij ervan verzekerd alleen te willen praten over het rapport Tjon a Hung. Toen heb ik hem off the record verteld over de capriolen van Pigot naar mij toe. Daar is hij na het interview op teruggekomen. En ik heb, zoals ik gewend ben, duidelijk mijn mening gegeven en gezegd dat ik dit keer niet gemerkt heb dat de heer Pigot met mij bezig is geweest. Maar als ik na de verkiezingen erachter kom dat dit wel het geval is, dat ik dan de structuren zal nalopen om in feite de mensen die de zaak manipuleren eruit te smijten."
    Meer zou Hooghart niet hebben gezegd. Maar laten we eerlijk zijn: als havik zouden we allemaal bang zijn om gekortwiekt te worden op termijn. En als we naar het iele, pokdalige jongensgelaat van Pigot kijken, is het voorstelbaar hoe angstaanjagend het is dat een pitbull als Hooghart al vanaf de vijfde plaats komt aanstormen. Maar Pigot kreeg op tijd de juiste stok met de juiste dikte in handen. De klap kwam hard, venijnig en onverwachts. Deze vergelijking is niet overtrokken. Hooghart vindt zelf dat hij ‘als een hond eruit is gekieperd'.

    Toch doorgegaan
    Pitbull Hooghart zal er de komende tijd nog van staan tollen, ook al wil of kan hij dat nog niet geheel toegeven. Zijn enige wapenfeit is voorlopig Pigot en de zijnen uit te dagen om alsnog datgene uit te zenden, wat dan zogenaamd de partij zou ‘schaden'. "Dit soort figuren als Strijk en Pigot zijn het die in feite anderen ertoe drijven dingen te doen die als niet-menselijk worden betiteld", zegt Hooghart. "Dit soort mensen hebben met hun manipulaties en scenario's ervoor gezorgd dat Bouterse het pistool heeft getrokken." Het was overigens niet de eerste poging van Pigot. "Hij heeft bij de verkiezingen van 2000 aan de verschillende afdelingsbesturen gevraagd mij niet op de kandidatenlijst te plaatsen", vertelt Hooghart. "Omdat ik zogenaamd de voorzitter in de wielen zou rijden. En toch ben ik doorgegaan met de strijd voor good governance, omdat ik de aanstelling als kandidaat niet principieel heb gesteld."
    Hooghart is ervan overtuigd dat hij de ‘stem van de massa' is. Hij trekt dan ook bijbelse vergelijkingen. "Wat ik zo jammer vind is dat we net de lijdensweek achter de rug hebben; dat de Zoon van God verraden is door Judas en dat wij na 2000 jaren daarover nog steeds wenen. En dan dat we vlak na de lijdensweek dit soort scenario's uithalen. Waarbij we ook nog weten dat bepaalde partijen op scherp staan. Dan is het duidelijk dat men niet bezig is met het belang van het volk maar met het eigen belang. Hesdy Pigot staat hierbij aan het hoofd en de voorzitter heeft zich onbewust laten meeloodsen."
    Hooghart denkt niet zozeer in termen van zetelverlies voor de NPS, maar dat het toch al flinterdun algeheel vertrouwen – van met name de zwevende kiezers – in de politiek wordt opgezegd. "De frustraties van het volk kunnen dusdanig zijn dat de kiesdeler kleiner wordt en de zetelverdeling daardoor anders uitvalt. Heel wat mensen hebben naar de CLO gebeld en gezegd: wij gaan niet naar de stembus. Een hele groep voetballers heeft me dat ook verteld. Zelfs mensen die niet op mij zouden stemmen, hebben te kennen gegeven dat dit voor hun teleurstelling is."

    Emotionele beslissing
    Hooghart spreekt van een ‘emotionele beslissing' die het partijcongres heeft genomen. Maar is dat wel zo? Afgaand op zijn woorden, heeft het allemaal juist iets van een rationeel bekokstoofd scenario. Hooghart was gewoon niet gewenst. Scenario of niet; hij zal diep moeten gaan nadenken in hoeverre hij er zelf niet debet aan is dat zijn eigen openhartigheid als stok tegen hem is gebruikt, of hij niet – al was het maar voor even – wat minder openhartig had moeten zijn; ook off the record. "Ik voldoe aan de wens van de samenleving", verdedigt hij zich. "Ik spreek voor het volk. De positie kan me ook niet schelen, wat me kan schelen is dat mensen onrecht wordt aangedaan. Als oprecht NPS'er – meer dan de meesten rondom de voorzitter – ben ik bereid in het openbaar mijn mening te geven. Ik ben daarna bereid de kritiek hierop te incasseren en te verwerken. Ik weet dat veel partijtoppers kritiek hebben, maar niet durven. Wil je ontwikkeling dan moet je kritiek kunnen uiten. Mijn voorzitter zegt altijd: tan tiri a no don. Maar ik zeg: tan tiri n'e tja ontwikkeling."
    Volgens zoon Andy heeft zich niet het gehele geplande scenario zich voltrokken. "Je vader moet zich in alle opzichten rustig houden", zou Erwin Lelie hem hebben ingesproken. Een vreemde opmerking, zei zijn gevoel maar op dat moment liet hij het passeren. Toen werden de kandidaten opgenoemd. Toen bij de vijfde plaats zijn vader nog niet viel, keek zoon Andy weer raar op, maar nog steeds geen reden voor de alarmbel. Maar toen de congresvoorzitter bij de achtste plaats de vergadering schorste begon het te dagen. Wie naar Apintie live luisterde kon al iets vermoeden: "We hebben iemand anders", klonk het zachtjes door de microfoon. CLO-penningmeester Michael Miskin werd erbij gehaald. Zoon Andy hierover: "Toen dacht ik dat men hem ging halen om iets te bespreken en al helemaal niet om hem te melden dat hij voor pa in de plaats was gekozen." Op dat moment zag Andy dat het scenario nog niet vervolmaakt was. Mensen in de menigte begonnen al de naam van Hooghart te scanderen. "Ik ken het karakter van mijn vader, als hij naar binnen zou gaan om rekenschap te halen en zou roepen dat hij niet geplaatst was, dan zou het helemaal mislopen. Ik heb tegen hem gezegd: je gaat niet naar binnen, we gaan weg. Als ik dat niet had gedaan dan was het helemaal misgegaan. Nu is nog niet alles misgegaan."

    Nog hoop
    Ze hebben nog enige hoop bij de CLO dat een en ander alsnog recht zal worden gezet. Is het geen ijdele hoop, dan wel zeer dunne als je zo naar Hooghart luistert. "De partij beslist. De voorzitter is door mij gedragen en op een vreselijk hoge stoep geplaatst. Hij moet in staat zijn het ontstane probleem terug te brengen tot aanvaardbare proporties."
    ‘Aanvaardbare proporties' klinkt niet bepaald als geheel herstel. Veel zal afhangen van CLO-penningmeester Miskin, die in zijn plaats naar voren geschoven is en daarmee ineens is gebombardeerd als potentiële splijtzwam binnen de CLO. Hooghart: "Niet een persoon zou gekandideerd worden maar de CLO. Dus als zij iemand van ons verkiesbaar willen stellen, dan moet men eerst met de CLO komen praten. Mike heeft duidelijk gezegd eerst met mij te zullen overleggen. Men wil hem bewegen de toegeschoven positie te accepteren; dat zou een klap in mijn gezicht betekenen voor de oppositie. Maar aan andere kant heeft men hem in de positie gebracht dat hij ook als ‘verrader' zal worden gekenmerkt als hij dat doet. Als hij de positie aanvaardt, dan zal hij worden afgemaakt. Als hij die niet aanvaardt, dan zal hij ook worden afgemaakt."
    Ineens rust op Miskin schouders een zware last en verantwoordelijkheid. Een beslissing die een zoveelste keerpunt of dieptepunt in de nationale politiek zal kenmerken. Een beslissing die mogelijk weer als een splijtzwam binnen de vakbeweging kan werken. Hooghart grijpt terug naar 1993. "Toen heb ik voor de NPS gekozen door André Gravenstijn te ondersteunen voor de post van directeur bij Binnenlandse Zaken. Hugo Blanker was ertegen. Dat heeft tot een scheuring binnen de CLO geleid. Ik ben van mening dat de NPS onder dezelfde voorzitter niet weer het instrument kan zijn dat zorgt voor een tweede scheuring."

              Trouw Aan De Confrontatie-Strategie - Jenny Simons        


    Paramaribo - We kunnen van alles denken over Jenny Simons en haar politieke kleur. Zij behoort inmiddels tot het selecte groepje principiële politici: ze blijft bij weer en wind trouw aan haar partij. Het is niet gebonden aan de persoon van Desi Bouterse als politiek leider. "Het is teamwerk." De NDP gelooft stellig in haar opmars, ondanks de ‘mobilisering van de Amerikanen' deze te stuiten. "De partij is een belangrijke resource voor Suriname."

    Tekst Iwan Brave/dWTfoto Hijn Bijnen - de Ware Tijd, 2 april 2005

    De NDP weet van wanten. Daarover geen twijfel. Langs de berm aan de Benjaminstraat staat een billboard met een enorm telefonerend lachend hoofd van Desi Bouterse; symboliserend het voortdurend in contact staan met de achterban. Onder de bijgestelde partijslogan ‘Let a faya baka' schreeuwen vette letters: ‘Desi Bouterse for president'. Alles in paarstinten. Bij de ingang staat een lichtbord met de aftelling van het aantal dagen vóór de verkiezingen: Nog 54.
    Een lekkere hete dag. Het is even wachten op Jenny Simons, fractieleider van NDP. Geeft niet, want op Ocer is altijd bedrijvigheid of leven in de brouwerij. Ook deze donderdag is dit het geval. Op het terrein overheerst het partijpaars. Veel jongeren, vanwege de wandelmars, als vlijtige mieren in propaganda-T-shirts. Een opgesmukte geluidsvrachtwagen met knallende muziek rijdt het terrein op. De arena – zo mag je Ocer door zijn inbedding gerust noemen – wordt opgekalfaterd. Er wordt getimmerd en geschilderd. Vooral het paars licht goed op.
    Binnen in de hal zitten mensen op zachte leunstoelen. Er hangt een wachtkamersfeer. De televisie, met ‘breaking news' van CNN over de dood van Terri Shavio, trekt even alle aandacht. Op tafel liggen edities van de Beijing Review, de Engelstalige Chinese tegenhanger van het Amerikaanse wereldtijdschrift Time.
    Op het bord de uitzendtijden van de NDP-tv-programma's ‘In opmars' en ‘Let a faya baka'. Radika, Sky TV, RBN, Sangeetmala en zelfs Mustika. Opvallend afwezig zijn ABC, STVS en ATV. Een prominent kaderlid komt aanstappen. "Ze hebben zelfs de Amerikanen gemobiliseerd, maar toch zal het niet lukken de opmars van de NDP te stuiten", zegt hij. "Het is de bekende driehoek; het Front, Nederland en de VS. De band tussen Nederland en de VS is er overduidelijk in Irak; die Nederlanders hebben tegen de Amerikanen gezegd: zeg jullie ook eens wat over Suriname", weet hij.

    Hij begint af te dingen op het NPS-spotje ‘Ere wie ere toekomt'. "Kent NPS de geschiedenis van Staatsolie wel?", werpt hij retorisch op. "De eerste olie in Suriname werd ontdekt in 1929 en niet in 1965 door Pengel. Zijn groep ging op zoek naar water en zij stuitte op olie. Ze hebben zich erin gebaad, en daarna nada! Ze werden door de koloniale autoriteit gesommeerd de olie met rust te laten, omdat anders Koninklijke Olie in problemen zou komen op de wereldmarkt. Na 25 februari 1980 zijn Jharap en Coleridge ontboden om een studie te maken over winbare olie. Na rapportage was het: doorgaan. Op 13 december 1980 was Staatsolie een feit!"

    20 zetels!
    Bovendien, als we op die toer gaan, dan verbleekt ‘58 jaar' oude politiek bij wat in elf jaren revolutie is gepresteerd. Nee, de NDP is goed op koers. Al die mensen in de hal, beweert het kaderlid, zijn er voor hun lidmaatschapkaart. "Als mensen hun busgeld besteden om hun lidmaatschapkaart te komen aanvragen, dan spreekt het al boekdelen." Er melden ‘landelijk' zo'n 200 tot 300 nieuwe leden zich. "Vóór 25 mei is dat 100.000", rekent hij voor. "Haal daarvan 20 procent af, dan praat je nog altijd over 80.000 gedeeld door het landelijke gemiddeld van 4.000 stemmen per zetel. Dat zijn 20 zetels!"
    Als Jenny Simons is gearriveerd, neemt ze ons mee naar het fractiesecretariaat op de bovenverdieping. "De sfeer is hier altijd goed, soms vechten we", zegt ze gekscherend als ze zit. "Op dit moment is het een gezonde sfeer voor een partij. Er is een goede mood. We bekijken allerlei vraagstukken en oplossingen, waaronder natuurlijk vanwege de verkiezingen strategische. Maar ook naar het beleid kijken we, want als je regeermacht wil, dan moet je vooraf gedegen weten wat je gaat doen."
    Ook Simons is zeker van de onstuitbare opmars van de NDP. Er zullen ‘meer zetels' worden gehaald. "Maar zelfs al komt een partij in de oppositie, dan hoor je toch zoveel mogelijk gerealiseerd te krijgen wat in je verkiezingsprogramma staat. Dat hebben we de afgelopen vijf jaar ook gedaan. Waar we dachten dat Front iets nuttigs kon doen, hebben we ondersteund en waar we kritiek hadden, kwamen we met voostellen conform onze verkiezingsprogramma." Op de vraag hoe die door het Front zijn ontvangen, zegt ze: "Weinig of geen antwoord en veel wantrouwen." Ze geeft als voorbeeld dat de NDP in het begin van de zittingsperiode had voorgesteld over de toenemende criminaliteit te praten binnen het parlement. "Men weigerde de vergadering te houden en begon een gehaal en getrek over wie nu de criminaliteit is begonnen?", aldus Simons.

    Onder de loep
    De afgelopen twee tot drie jaar is hard gewerkt om ‘alles van de partij' te verbeteren, en is de partij ‘onder de loep' genomen. Met andere woorden: de partij heeft zichzelf aan een introspectie onderworpen. Er is ook gewerkt aan een betere structuur, wat heeft geleid tot nieuwe statuten. Zo is er een ‘coördinatieteam' ingesteld dat het dagelijks bestuur bijstaat met raad en daad. Daarnaast is er ook een wetenschappelijk bureau dat tot ‘grote hoogten' is gekomen. Er is ook ‘een brug geslagen' tussen wetenschappelijk bureau en de fractie. Daarom delen het fractiesecretariaat en het wetenschappelijk bureau dezelfde ruimte. In de districten hebben alle fractieleden een ‘persoonlijk secretariaat' opgezet, betaald uit de laatste salarisverhoging voor parlementariërs. Daar kunnen burgers afspraken maken met de parlementariër, die keurig per persoon een intakeformulier invult met persoonsgegevens, rubricering van de idee, wens of grief en een korte inhoudsbeschrijving.
    "We zijn wel eerlijk, als mensen grond komen aanvragen, dan zeggen we dat dat niet mogelijk is", zegt Simons. "Maar we maken ook afspraken met maatschappelijke groeperingen om zoveel mogelijk feedback te krijgen over waar de schoen wringt. Daarom kan ik met zekerheid schrijven in ons verkiezingsprogramma dat een nationale ziektezorgverzekering feasable is. Want je hebt het totaalplaatje waarbij je niet alleen naar de tarieven kijkt maar ook naar de premies."
    Er lijkt geen einde te komen aan de stroom van voorbeelden van hoe diep en goed de NDP wortel schiet in de samenleving. Als het maar geen tactiek is om geen tijd over te hebben voor een aantal brandende vragen, zoals de kandidatuur van voorzitter Bouterse voor het presidentschap en diens verwerping als ‘veroordeelde drugscrimineel' door de VS.
    "Ik geef hiermee aan de verbeteringen die zijn aangebracht", zegt Simons uiteindelijk. "Het maakt ons niet uit met wie we praten. Er zijn maar weinig mensen die niet met ons willen praten, zoals meneer Hooghart van de CLO. Dus al twee en een half jaar verstaan we ons met de samenleving. We zijn ervan overtuigd dat we haar absoluut tot een ander niveau kunnen tillen. We zijn overtuigd van de potentie van de Surinamers. Maar er zullen remmingen voor de mensen moeten worden weggenomen en er zal verandering moeten komen in de structuur en werkwijze van onze overheid. Dit vormt ook een speerpunt van ons beleid. De partij ziet echt wel heeft toekomst voor Suriname."

    Alle lagen
    De NDP is een ‘weerspiegeling van alle lagen'. "Niet alleen het volk", benadrukt Simons. "Ga maar kijken in de Brokopondolaan naar al die vlaggen. De NDP begint het karakter te krijgen van een grote partij zoals in het buitenland gangbaar is, een partij die een belangrijke resource is voor Suriname", durft Simons de vergelijking aan. Ze kan maar niet ophouden over hoe de NDP niet stil heeft gezeten. Ze staaft het met feiten. Zo waren er tussen 2003 en 2004 vijf tweedaagse workshops, waarbij ‘alle beleidsgebieden' aan bod kwamen, steeds bijgewoond door zo'n veertig partijtoppers, inclusief de voorzitter. De presentatie kwam vanuit het wetenschappelijk bureau. "Er is een proces op gang gekomen dat een eerste in zijn soort is in Suriname", zegt Simons, die het geheel vervat met: ‘een stukje ownership'.
    Allemaal mooi en waar. Ongetwijfeld zal de NDP (veel) meer dan welke partij ook voeling met de samenleving hebben, je zou als politieke tegenstander het ergste moeten vrezen, ware het niet dat de VS behoorlijk wat roet in al het heerlijk en prachtig opgeserveerde eten hebben gegooid omdat de chef-kok Desi Bouterse heet. Maar binnen de NDP liggen ze er niet wakker van. "We hebben een hoop positieve reacties", zegt Simons. "Er zijn mensen die zeggen dat juist nu op de NDP zullen stemmen. Surinamers houden er niet van if you boss them around." Tuurlijk, geeft Simons toe, je kan zo'n verklaring van de VS ‘niet simpel' afdoen. "We hebben op gepaste wijze gereageerd. Maar het buitenland moet zich erbuiten houden. Je kan naderhand met een regering bezig zijn, maar je mag niet vooraf de volkswil beïnvloeden, daarover zijn internationale afspraken. De enige bemoeienis die je mag hebben, is te helpen dat verkiezingen vrij, geheim en eerlijk verlopen. Daarmee kan je in voldoende mate als OAS en de VN regeringen die het volk niet goed behandelen, dwingen tot verbetering. De grote vraag is natuurlijk: wie bepaalt wat er gebeurt in de wereld? Je kan een volk toch niet altijd blijven onderdrukken."
    Maar je kan een volk wel heel lang blijven onderdrukken. Maar ook bij deze opmerking blijft Simons onwrikbaar in haar rechtlijnigheid. Ook niet bij de vraag of je niet al voorbaat wil voorkomen dat we geïsoleerd worden, met alle sociaal-economisch misère van dien. Wat zal dan de NDP voor het volk kunnen betekenen; zal ze haar verantwoording dan nemen? "Het is de Surinaamse samenleving die de NDP kiest. Tegen die tijd komt het antwoord. Het is nu vooruitlopen op de zaak", is het antwoord.

    Confrontatiestrategie
    Ongetwijfeld zal Simons ook haar zorgen hebben, want ook zij heeft kinderen, maar de partijtactiek vergt kennelijk op dit punt slechts rationaliteit en standvastigheid naar de buitenkant. Wat er innerlijk allemaal wankelt, wordt niet prijsgegeven, want dat vertaalt zich direct in zetelverlies. Misschien betekent Bouterse al voorbaat zetelverlies, waarom dan niet alles of niets - lijkt binnen de NDP te worden geredeneerd; vanuit deze kansloze positie kan je dan alleen nog maar winnen.
    "Er is één ding wat de NDP niet kan worden verweten: we zijn heel duidelijk van tevoren", zegt Simons. "De partij heeft Bouterse als leider gekozen en er is beweging, ook al weten we dat er een obstakel is. Je zou dit kunnen zien als een confrontatiestrategie. Maar laat de samenleving zelf beslissen."
    Het is verloren tijd en energie om met de NDP in discussie te gaan over de omstredenheid van haar leider, daarvoor is hij de leider, het boegbeeld. Het is ook te simplistisch te denken dat Bouterse koste wat het kost president wil worden. Hij is nu eenmaal bij uitstek de trekker van de partij. Zonder hem is er eenvoudig weg geen NDP, ook al zal Simons ook dit beargumenteerd en onderbouwd kunnen weerleggen. Maar uit haar woorden wordt ook duidelijk dat de NDP vatbaar is voor onderhandelen. "We hebben een aantal dingen die voor ons cruciaal zijn. Dat willen we eventueel in elk geval vooraf in een regeerakkoord met een aantal do's en dont's. Ook het presidentschap is onderdeel van dit akkoord én verandering van de overheid, alsook een transparant grondbeleid. En in het parlement gaan we die president eraan houden. De NDP wil met zoveel mogelijk mensen samenwerken."
    We kunnen van alles denken over Simons en haar politieke kleur. Zij behoort inmiddels tot het selecte groepje principiële politici: ze blijft bij weer en wind trouw aan haar partij. "Dat heen en weer gewandel kan nooit de bedoeling zijn", zegt ze. Op de vraag wat haar zo bindt aan de persoon Bouterse, antwoordt zij: "Mijn eigen doel in de politiek is niet een persoon, maar het realiseren van idealen. Het is teamwork. Ik ben tot nu toe ervan overtuigd dat deze partij een rol kan spelen in de ontwikkeling van het land. Het heeft niets te maken met persoonsgebondenheid. Mijn visies komen overeen met de partijvisies die in de jaren '80 zijn geformuleerd. Ik ben blij dat ze nu democratisch kunnen worden uitgedragen; dat is wel belangrijk. Dat betekent dat als ik met Bouterse praat over Suriname, we dan meestal fundamenteel met elkaar eens zijn. Je moet het land loskoppelen van zijn koloniale geschiedenis. We kunnen het zelf. We hebben geen geld nodig van Nederland. Maar er moeten wel investeringen komen. We kunnen zelf ons goud uit de grond halen. Dit land is van óns."

    Beste configuratie
    Over Bouterse als de ideale leider zegt zij: "Hij kan het land verenigen. Hij heeft al eerder laten zien dat zaken kan helpen realiseren. Ik heb geen principiële bezwaren. We hebben onze strategieën; we moeten de partij in goede orde brengen naar de verkiezingen. Daarna moeten we de juiste beslissing nemen voor Suriname; wat de beste configuratie is voor het land." En over zijn veroordeling als ‘drugscrimineel': "Het vonnis is te gek om los te lopen. Ik heb me in het dossier verdiept. Het vonnis is politiek gemotiveerd. Ik heb geen andere zaken erin aangetroffen."
    De NDP wil ook regionaal en internationaal met zoveel mogelijk bevriende naties en buurlanden samenwerken. "Daarom is het fysiek open gooien van het Zuid-Amerikaans continent door middel heuse highway – een ‘zuidas' – dwars door het land een van de zaken die we serieus zullen bekijken. Met name de voorzitter heeft dit aangegeven. Daarvoor zal financiering worden gezocht.
    Maar de brandende vraag blijft: wie wil met de NDP samenwerken? Simons stellig: "Er zijn mensen die in grote bedrijven zitten en roepen dat ze weg zijn als de NDP aan de macht komt. Maar zelfs in de militaire periode ging niemand weg. Want wat hier is, is nergens. Het goud is hier en de bauxiet is hier. Als we om ons heenkijken, dan wordt de soep meestal niet zo heet gegeten. Suriname is the place you want to be. Wij zullen Suriname niet isoleren. We dealen met elke situatie. De bottomline is wel dat mensen ons niet moeten komen vertellen hoe we dat moeten doen."
    Hoe belangrijk is dan het antwoord van het volk? "Voor mij persoonlijk zal het bepalend zijn of ik erin definitief induik. Afhankelijk van de boodschap van de samenleving bij de komende verkiezing plan ik mijn weg. Als die boodschap duidelijk positief is, blijf ik werken, want je put daaruit je motivatie ondanks alle tegenwerkingen en moeilijkheden waarmee politiek werk samenhangt. Het moet duidelijk zijn dat een substantieel deel van samenleving zegt: ‘Dóórgaan'."

              From Aug 9 1965/ “HOW NOW SINGAPORE? Revisiting Lee Kuan Yew’s Hard Truths”        
    Dr Paul of the SDP has been sharing this quote on FB. “…Singapore shall forever be a sovereign democratic and independent nation, founded upon the principles of liberty and justice and ever seeking the welfare and happiness of her people in a more just and equal society,” Harry Lee. Regular readers will know by now […]
              De Verstopte Rechtsgang        

    Esbert Vriesde: "Ik Kan Geen Recht In Mijn Land Halen"


    De Organisatie van Amerikaanse Staten (OAS) heeft vernietigend geoordeeld over de Surinaamse rechtspraktijk. De OAS constateert dat rechtzoekenden ‘geen genoegdoening' vinden, ‘vertragingen' en ‘obstructies' in het rechtssysteem en ‘tegenstrijdige uitspraken'. Drie burgers hebben afzonderlijk een klacht ingediend. Ook het relaas van Esbert Vriesde (72) lijkt hieronder te vallen.



    Tekst Iwan Brave/dWTfoto Hijn Bijnen - de Ware Tijd, 3 maart 2005

    Er is niets romantisch aan het hoogste rechtscollege van Suriname. Niets van een advocaat die een vurig pleidooi houdt, niets van rumoer in de zaal en een rechter die de menigte tot stilte afhamert: orde, orde! Het is een dodelijk saaie, lichtelijk deprimerende uitwisseling van paperassen en afvinken. En dan is de raadkamerwisseling. De rechters staan op en maken plaats voor een nieuwe samenstelling. Nu komt Von Niesewand als voorzitter en is Pultoo gewoon lid. In hetzelfde tempo wordt een hele stapel dossier van meestal uitgestelde zaken weggewerkt.

    Wie wel in de startblokken zit om een vurig pleidooi te houden is de 72-jarige Esbert Vriesde, directeur van de landbouwonderneming Vriesde NV uit Coronie, in gezelschap van zijn vrouw. Begin oktober zaten ze er ook al voor ‘uitspraak'. Bijna een half jaar later zitten ze er weer voor ‘uitspraak'. In al die maanden is dat steeds weer met twee weken uitgesteld. Zo snel als de dossiers worden afgehamerd, zo tergend langzaam gaat het proces om je rechtszekerheid of -gelijk in Suriname te krijgen. Al 25 jaar verkeert Vriesde in een onophoudelijke juridisch doodsstrijd over de onwettige occupatie (bezetting) van zijn plantage The Hague. Hij was 47 jaar toen het allemaal begon. Nu is hij een grijze, kalende zeventiger en nog is de lijdensweg niet voorbij. Op Vriesde is het vernietigende oordeel van de OAS over de Surinaamse rechtspraktijk van toepassing. De OAS heeft de Staat Suriname tot 8 april de tijd gegeven hierover duidelijkheid te geven. Drie burgers hebben afzonderlijk een klacht ingediend. De OAS constateert dat rechtzoekenden in Suriname ‘geen genoegdoening' vinden, ‘vertragingen' en ‘obstructies' in het rechtssysteem en ‘tegenstrijdige uitspraken'.

    Buitengesloten
    Nog voordat de zaak van het echtpaar Vriesde aan bod komt, schorst Von Niesewand de zaal wegens comparitie van twee partijen in een andere zaak. Nog geen vijf minuten later steekt de advocaat zijn hoofd naar buiten en roept dat iedereen weer binnen mag komen. Voordat we plaats kunnen nemen, roept mevrouw Vriesde ontzet: "Ze hebben onze zaak al afgehandeld." Meneer Vriesde wil het niet geloven. "Dat zegt die advocaat tegen me; uitstel tot 1 april", herhaalt zijn vrouw. Vriesde vraagt de aandacht van Von Niesewand: "Edelachtbare, ik verzoek u mij te horen." Maar Von Niesewand lijkt hem niet te zien of te horen. Dan volgt een emotionele uitbarsting van het echtpaar. "We willen uitspraak, we hebben recht op uitspraak", klinkt het getergd. Tranen springen ze in de ogen. Je houdt je hart vast voor het hart van de 72-jarige man.
    Er is niemand die hen komt bedaren. Integendeel, er roept zelfs een deurwaarder: "Smijt die man eruit." Niet bepaald wat je wil horen in een instituut waarvan gezegd wordt dat je er je recht kan halen als het je elders wordt ontnomen of onthouden. Wat Vriesde ook probeert, die kleine moeite om weer even naar zijn dossier te kijken wordt niet genomen. Het is hard, keihard, bijna onmenselijk ongevoelig. Zeker als je je bedenkt dat het echtpaar al om vier uur uit Coronie vertrok om op tijd te zijn, en dat het niet de eerste keer is dat ze opdraven en voortdurend met uitstel worden geconfronteerd. Als het echtpaar maar niet tot bedaren komt, rapen de rechters hun boeltje bij elkaar en verdwijnen.
    Buiten de rechtszaal gaat de tirade van het echtpaar Vriesde door. Een ordewachter wordt erbij gehaald. Hij is de eerste die menselijk medeleven toont: "Pappie, ga je recht zoeken", zegt hij. "Ik kan geen recht meer vinden in dit land", zegt Vriesde. "Ik verlaat me nu alleen nog op God." Hij komt tot bedaren, zijn vrouw ook.
    "Ze gebruiken de deurwaarder om ons uit te schakelen", beweert Vriesde. Het gebeurde eerder in november dat zij op deze wijze buiten werden gesloten. "De deurwaarder heeft verzuimd; de mensen hadden wel geroepen moeten worden", beaamt een jurist die een sigaretje is komen roken. Meer kan hij niet voor ze doen. Een hindostaanse mevrouw komt op ze afgestapt. "Ik geef u alle gelijk; ik ben al 21 jaar bezig met een voogdijzaak", zegt ze emotioneel. "Vandaag is de oudste jarig, hij weet niet eens wat een vader is." De vrouw huilt en daalt vertwijfeld de trap af, weer op weg naar het ongewisse.

    Volledig eigendom
    Al in 2002 berichtte deze krant dat Vriesde gevangen zit in een ‘rechterlijk gejojo'. Nu lijkt hij er nog meer in verstrikt geraakt. Esbert Vriesde keerde in 1983 terug naar Suriname om een zaaivermeerderingsbedrijf, een rijstpellerij en drogerij op te zetten. Maar twee zaken gooiden roet in het eten. De sluizen aan de Oost-Westverbinding hadden ondeugdelijke kleppen, waardoor zoutwater de plantage opstroomde. En 80 hectare bleek geoccupeerd door NV Vooruitstreven, sinds begin jaren '80.
    Vriesde beschikt over alle authentieke papieren waaruit onbetwist blijkt dat plantage Hague volledig zijn eigendom is. Zoals een kaart van landmeter Loth uit 1872 en de handgeschreven akte uit 1900 waaruit blijkt dat de grond aan zijn vader, Ferdinand Vriesde, is verkocht. Op grond hiervan oordeelde rechter Gangaram Panday in 1990 in een kort geding dat de plantage aan Vriesde NV toebehoort. Maar in 1997 – zeven jaren later – werd het vonnis vernietigd en terugverwezen door de rechters Veldema en Oosterling naar rechter Ramnewash, die oordeelde dat niet alle landgrenzen vaststaan. Maar in 2002 oordeelt rechter Pultoo dat Vriesde NV op basis van de bestaande landmetingen mag blijven. Maar ondertussen had Vooruitstreven beslag laten leggen op de inventaris zodat het bedrijf geen kant op kon. Hiertegen had Vriesde in 1998 hoger beroep aangetekend.
    In de andere kwestie vonniste kortgedingrechter Von Niesewand in 1994 dat de overheid (Openbare Werken, OW) de sluis "binnen een maand" moet herstellen. Nu, 11 jaar (!) later, lapt de overheid nog steeds dit vonnis aan haar laars. Zelfs beslagleggingen doen OW niet tot inkeer komen. Integendeel. Drie jaar geleden heeft dit ministerie zelfs getracht de beslagleggingen ongedaan te krijgen met de bewering dat er uitvoering is gegeven aan het vonnis van 1994. Maar februari vorig jaar stelde rechter Rasoelbaks de overheid weer in het ongelijk. Nu, een jaar later, heeft de overheid nog steeds geen uitvoering aan dit vonnis gegeven: geen herstel van sluizen en geen geld wordt uitgekeerd, hoewel de beslagleggingen al in de miljoenen SRD's lopen.

    Nieuwe dimensie
    De rechterlijke nachtmerrie van Vriesde NV had al in 1987 een nieuwe dimensie gekregen, toen buurman Issa ook de grens van plantage Hague betwistte en een stuk land, kanaal en dam opeiste. In 1998 kreeg buurman Issa ongelijk van rechter Gangaram Panday. Issa ging in hoger beroep en hierin lijkt maar geen uitspraak te komen. Daarom had Vriesde zo gehoopt verlost te worden van de knagende onzekerheid.
    "We hadden echt gerekend op een serieuze uitspraak", zegt hij, later in de middag als hij weer is bijgekomen. Over het buiten sluiten zegt hij: "We hebben ervaren dat rechters in Suriname het niet dulden dat cliënten aanwezig zijn bij hun eigen zaak. Maar ik kan onmogelijk onder de kokosbomen van Coronie staan praten; het moet hier bij de rechter." Zijn vrouw zegt: "Maar het wordt je verboden."
    In de zaak tegen buurman Issa heeft Vriesde zich met klem verzet tegen opnieuw meten van de grenzen. Want dat is al tot in den treure gebeurd en steeds kreeg hij van de landmeters het gelijk aan zijn zijde. Vriesde: "Al 25 jaar praten we over grenzen: alles is er en nog kan de rechter geen uitspraak doen. Als het hierop aankomt, weigert de rechter. Ze zitten er alleen maar met de bedoeling om de vonnissen op te stapelen. Er komt eenvoudig weg geen uitspraak."
    De hoger-beroepszaak die Vriesde in juni 1998 indiende – dus al bijna zes jaar geleden – tegen de beslaglegging en voortdurende occupatie door NV Vooruitstreven, verschijnt maar niet op de rol van het Hof van Justitie. Maar dat is niets vergeleken bij een andere hoger-beroepszaak die al in november 1986 werd ingediend ten aanzien van een andere plantage (Welgelegen).

    Afglijdende rechtsstaat
    Rondgang leert dat Vriesde geen spoken ziet."Het hoger beroep is een gigantisch probleem, het wordt niet behandeld als je niet hosselt bij de griffier", zegt jurist Hugo Essed over hoger-beroepszaken op de rol krijgen. "Als advocaten hosselen bij de griffie en werken met grote voortvarendheid, dan wil het wel het Hof bereiken. Maar dat is ook geen honderd procent garantie, want het Hof is overbelast", aldus Essed. Het verontrustende gevoel over de rechtsstaat blijkt niet overdreven. Essed: "Mijn collega Kruisland en ik hebben dat al eerder bij een persconferentie aangekaart. De rechtsstaat Suriname is ernstig in gevaar en aan het afglijden. De rechterlijke macht is volledig vastgelopen. Het is vrijwel onmogelijk om in Suriname je recht te krijgen. De enige redelijke manier is het kort geding, waarbij je in zes maanden een uitspraak kan krijgen, en die is dan voorlopig. Een bodemprocedure duurt 3 tot 4 jaar. Als je in hoger beroep gaat, dan kan het vier jaar duren voordat je het op de rol krijgt en dan kan het nog eens 4 jaar duren voordat het op de rol komt. Afgaand op het principe dat iemand twaalf jaren moet procederen, dan is Suriname geen rechtsstaat."
    René Kappel is deurwaarder bij het Hof van Justitie. "Bij uitgestelde zaken, zit je al gauw weer een jaar verder, want er kan maximaal drie maanden per uitstel worden gekregen", zegt hij over de rechtsgang. Volgens de deurwaarder heeft de brand van het Kantongerecht in de Wulfingstraat ‘veel gefrustreerd'. "Wat over is gebleven, is op de grote stapel gegaan, zonder dat men wist welke zaken precies wat inhielden." Ook Kappel laat doorschemeren dat je flink moet leuren bij de griffie. "Als de rechter vonnis heeft gesproken, dan moet je wel de griffier achterna lopen om het vonnis te krijgen. Als je haast hebt, dan is dat wel raadzaam", zegt hij.
    Kappel bevestigt dat de overheid structureel vonnissen aan haar laars lapt. "De overheid houdt geen rekening met de wettelijke formaliteiten. Daardoor volgt beslaglegging op beslaglegging. Vroeger was het een unicum. Nu is het schering en inslag een zaak tegen de overheid en bij elke rechtszitting."
    "Een loze kreet", reageert Gladys Karsters-de Rijp, hoofd van de Griffie van het Kantongerecht, op de bewering van jurist Essed over het moeten hosselen bij de griffie. Ze geeft wel toe dat het ‘afhankelijk van de zaak', soms ruim een half jaar kan duren voordat de stukken allemaal in orde zijn en de zaak wordt doorgestuurd naar het Hof. "Wat daar gebeurt, hebben wij geen invloed meer op."
    We overleggen haar twee indieningen van Vriesde voor een hoger beroep. Over die van november 1986 zegt Karsters-De Rijp meteen en resoluut: "Die is verloren gegaan met de brand van het Kantongerecht van 1989. Uit die periode is alles verloren gegaan." De indiening van 1998 neemt ze met enige verbazing in ontvangst. Als ze een medewerker erop afstuurt, komt die onverrichterzake terug. Ook Karsters- De Rijp, die daarna zelf gaat zoeken, kan het dossier nergens vinden. Wellicht dat hij ligt op de ‘grote stapel' van de Wulfingstraat.

    Coronie kapot
    Maar Vriesde beproeft meer dan alleen een verstopte rechtsgang. Hij meent dat de rechterlijke macht de Staat Suriname in bescherming neemt. In Coronie zouden in de militaire jaren meer onwettige occupaties zijn geweest op gronden van particulieren. "De Landbouwbank heeft destijds ongecontroleerd geld gestrooid en wij eigenaren moeten daaronder lijden, en dit maakt heel Coronie kapot", zegt Vriesde. "Ik heb Ramnewash toen geschreven dat hij onder ede liegt. Sommige rechters zijn er alleen maar om het werk van hun collega's af te keuren. En dat is een gevaar voor Suriname, wat ik aan den lijve ondervind. Gangaram Panday heeft vonnis gewezen na een kundig onderzoek. Het is een vonnis dat niemand die constructief, rationeel of integer is, kan afkeuren."
    Een saillant detail is dat dezelfde rechter Ramnewash zegt op basis van dezelfde bevindingen dat Issa geen gelijk heeft. En wel op exact dezelfde dag dat hij Vooruitstreven in het gelijk stelt: 3 juni 1998. De Ware Tijd beschikt over een compleet dossier van alle vonnissen, gronddocumenten en briefwisselingen die Vriesde heeft gevoerd met rechters. "Als burger kan je enkel maar de conclusies trekken dat je hier niet met rechters, maar met politici te maken heb, want zij moeten voor de Landbouwbank de occupant op het perceel houden. Rechters proberen vonnissen die al ten uitvoer zijn gebracht, in het nadeel van de Staat te vernietigen", aldus Vriesde.
    Ook nu wordt hij voor zijn gevoel hiermee geconfronteerd. Ten aanzien van het herstel van de sluizen heeft de overheid gesteld hieraan uitvoering te hebben gegeven. Maar rechter Rasoelbaks ging in februari vorig jaar hierin niet mee en wees de eis af van de overheid om de beslaglegging door Vriesde op te heffen. "Maar nu tracht de Centrale Bank van Suriname het vonnis te vernietigen via rechter Valstein-Montnor, die het vonnis van Rasoelbaks totaal negeert", zegt Vriesde. Daarom heeft hij zich in de eveneens slepende kwestie tegen Issa zich met hand en tand verzet tegen het opnieuw meten van zijn grond. "Als ik één mistake had gemaakt bij de zaak-Issa, dan was ik een kanaal kwijt en een van de sluiskleppen, dan was mijn perceel niet meer de juiste grootte. Dat hebben ze geprobeerd. Ze hadden al een afspraak hierover gemaakt. Daarop zat Valstein-Montnor te wachten."
    Mevrouw Vriesde: "Alle investeringen die we hebben gedaan zijn teniet gegaan door het zo lang bezig zijn door de rechters. Banken willen geen leningen met ons afsluiten omdat ze eerst duidelijkheid willen. We moeten van ons perceel leven, maar het wordt ons onmogelijk gemaakt door het systeem van het recht dat de overheid ook nog eens beschermt."
    Vriesde: "Na 25 jaar bezetting van ons eigendom en dat je niet twijfelt en honderd procent weet dat ik er geboren ben en sinds mijn moeders ingewanden met vrede heb gewoond, men heeft tijdens de nachtelijke overval van de militairen op de democratie ons perceel geoccupeerd."

              Standhouden Tussen Makaslang En Kapasi        

    Winston Jessurun, voorzitter van DA91 en van het presidium van Alternatief 1 (A1), likt zijn wonden na de ‘lafhartige' aanval door Nieuw Suriname. Maar de scheuring heeft A1 meer goed dan slecht gedaan, zegt hij. Het Front en Bouterse vormen een moeilijk te doorbreken ‘symbiose'. Toch wil A1 alles op alles zetten om het internationaal aangezicht van Suriname te herstellen. "Je moet in feite beginnen bij de basis: de mens."


    Tekst Iwan Brave/dWTFoto Hijn Bijnen - de Ware Tijd van 24 maart 2005


    Jessurun wil er niet te veel woorden meer aan vuil maken, aan de openlijke, persoonlijke aanval van de Radjen Nannan Panday. "Ik heb tegen mijn vrouw gezegd: als je de politiek ingaat, dan vertelt men altijd lelijke dingen over je, waar of onwaar. Wapen je ertegen. Maar om nu aan je privéleven te komen, je gezin te belasteren, waardoor het ook je vrouw en kinderen raakt, dan doet het .-.pijn. En als men liegt dan doet het nog meer pijn. Maar we hebben heel wat stormen overwonnen."
    Volgens Jessurun heeft het uittreden van Nieuw Suriname de A1 meer goed dan slecht gedaan. De partij van de gebroeders Nannan Panday zou altijd al een beetje moeilijk hebben gezeten bij bepaalde delen van de achterban van de andere partners. Jessurun kreeg regelmatig van mensen persoonlijk te horen dat ze om die reden niet op A1 zouden stemmen. "Alles komt nu weer terug", zegt hij. Hij kreeg ook steunbetuiging van politieke opponenten uit ‘alle hoeken'. Nieuw Suriname heeft zich politiek ‘compleet uitgeschakeld', weet hij. "Het komt vooral door de lafhartige wijze. Als men het uitsluitend over de boeg van de positionering van Nieuw Suriname had gegooid, dan had het de A1 nog enige schade kunnen berokkenen omdat zo'n argument nog enige oprechtheid uitstraalt."
    Maar dit is niet eerste wat ter tafel komt. Het is Jessurun die het gesprek direct op koers plaatst met een recente anekdote. Op straat vroeg een kennis hem: "Wat hebben we aan een eerlijke president die zijn kinderen geen eten geeft? Is het niet beter een president te hebben die steelt maar wel zijn kinderen te eten geeft?" Dit onderstreept volgens hem dat veel Surinaamse kiezers bitter zijn en het spoor bijster. "Ik heb anders geen andere verklaring voor dat de VVV en de NDP nog aanhang hebben, afgaand op de ervaring met deze mensen en de consequenties daarvan voor het land. Anders hebben we een probleem met de interpretatie van hun aanhang. Als we een goed bestaan hadden, dan was het nog te begrijpen. Maar gezien de chaos en financiële verdoemenis is het onbegrijpelijk."

    Idol hungry
    Zijn broer Rudy, die psycholoog is, verklaart dit fenomeen als ‘idol-hungry'. "Dat zou een verklaring kunnen zijn voor de aanhang van deze twee partijen", licht Jessurun toe. "Het gaat om mensen die zelf niet zo'n sterk ego hebben en daarom graag geleid willen worden." Maar dat er zo velen hunkeren naar een idool, wijt hij aan het ‘falend beleid' van het Nieuw Front. "We hebben binnen het Gestructureerd Samenwerkingverband – waarbij iedereen en alles aangesloten was – kans gezien in 1997-1998 ruim 100.000 mensen in verzet te brengen tegen het financiële wanbeleid van de regering-Wijdenbosch, met als lichtpunt het naar voren schuiven van een interim-regering met Telting als president en Jharap als vice-president.
    In die troebele situatie heeft Wijdenbosch de verkiezingen met een jaar vervroegd. Op het moment van bekendmaking daarvan, waren zij van de oude politiek niet meer te vinden voor het idee. Zo erg zelfs dat ze sindsdien geen enkele vergadering meer van het Gestructureerd Samenwerkingsverband hebben bezocht." Het woord ‘verraad' neemt hij niet in de mond, maar het spreekt voor zich. "Toen de kiezers het Nieuw Front weer een mandaat hadden gegeven, hebben ze het gezamenlijk uitgangspunt verlaten en zijn hun eigen dingen gaan doen. Een toonbeeld van de arrogantie van macht. Wie bleef achter? Het teleurgestelde volk, bitter en verpauperd."
    Jessurun wijst erop dat het Front in 1987 van de 51 zetels er 41 behaalde – een dikke absolute meerderheid – en 33 zetels in 2000 – op één na wederom een tweederde meerderheid. En nu vraagt het Front weer een mandaat om het karwei ‘af te maken'. "Hoeveel willen ze dan hebben om inderdaad uit te voeren van wat ze niet hebben afgemaakt?" vraagt Jessurun zich in gemoede af over de gemiste kansen met zo'n riante meerderheid het land naar je hand te zetten. "De kiezer gaat nu maar zijn heil elders zoeken. Dat een aanzienlijk deel van jongeren, die niet geconfronteerd zijn met de jaren '80 en eind jaren '90, naar andere politieke partijen of combinaties gaat van krachten die we steeds hebben afgewezen, is de schuld van het Front."
    Jessurun wil niets over horen dat het ook een financieel vraagstuk is.
    Volgens hem is er geen enkele regering geweest met ‘zoveel mogelijkheden' en ‘steun uit het buitenland'. Maar als je blijft vasthouden aan partijpolitiek en niet aan maatregelen die genomen moeten worden, dan kom je niet verder." De voorzitter van het A1-presidium, wijst op het verziekte investeringsklimaat dat in stand wordt gehouden. In 1994 werd de eerste Investeringswet geconcipieerd. Dat het daarbij bleef, lag volgens Jessurun destijds aan een ‘conflict' tussen de Ministeries van Financiën en van Handel en Industrie – "dus tussen NPS en VHP". Dan volgt in 2001-2002 weer een concept-Investeringswet die in ‘grote vaart' wordt besproken en een ‘hoop onduidelijkheden' bevatte. "Daarom heb ik me uit protest onthouden van stemming. Nu hoor je bij monde van de minister van Financiën dat de investeringswet niet deugt en worden dure consultants in de arm genomen om het werk dunnetjes over te doen. Hadden ze zich dat niet eerder kunnen bedenken." Volgens Jessurun rennen de meeste investeerders ‘gillend' weg. "Ik kan je verhalen en voorbeelden vertellen, maar dan praten we morgen nog. Je komt als investeerder geen stap verder door het bureaucratisch gedoe."

    Niet luisteren
    Jessurun stelt dat je overigens voor geld bestemd voor productiedoeleinden op de kapitaalmarkt terecht kan. Daarnaast moet er flink worden geïnvesteerd in infrastructuur, onderwijs en gezondheidszorg, want dat is de basis voor een gezond volk om te produceren. "Maar deze regering wil sparen, en is het een volgende regering die dan het geld weer opmaakt." Tegelijkertijd dient men te participeren door middel van aandelen in de exploitatie van de grondstoffen. Overigens is Jessurun van mening dat Suriname de goudsector zelfstandig tot ontwikkeling kan brengen. Het is voordeliger om buitenlandse deskundigen te betalen die een mijn voor je opzetten, waarvan de opbrengst geheel aan jou toekomt.
    Al deze zaken worden door DA91 aangekaart in de Nationale Assemblee. "Maar als iets van de oppositie komt, wil men niet luisteren", zegt Jessurun. Uit gesprekken met toppers uit de coalitie, blijkt dat het binnen het Front nogal aan wereldkundigheid schort. Ook bepaalde partijvoorzitters komen er niet genadig van af. Hij geeft tal van voorbeelden. Sommige liever ‘off the record'. "Bepaalde dingen wil je niet zo in pers gooien die je met elkaar in de wandelgangen bespreekt, dat kan pas als ze ook in de vergadering aan de orde komen. Sommige ministers hebben totaal geen idee om welke schaalverhoudingen het in de wereld gaat, omdat ze zo gefixeerd zijn op de enge partijbelangen."

    Staatsgarantie
    Regelmatig kloppen buitenlandse investeerders bij Jessurun aan omdat ze eenvoudig weg geen gewillig oor bij de regering vinden. Zoals die ene consultant uit Hong Kong, die ten tijde van herinlijving door China met 170 miljoen dollar te leen liep tegen een staatsgarantie, een looptijd van 20 jaar en een zeer milde rente van 5 procent. Het geld moest coute-que-coute weg uit Hong Kong. Via Jessurun werd het aan Suriname aangeboden. "Ik heb het aan Rodgers doorgespeeld; er is uiteindelijk niets mee gebeurd."
    En dan die miljardair uit Hong Kong die interesse had getoond om honorair consulair voor Suriname te zijn. Een investeerder met aanzien. "Als hij ergens investeerde, dan gingen anderen er achteraan", vertelt Jessurun. "Hij wilde elk feasable project in Suriname financieren tegen een 30-70-verhouding. Dit was ter sprake ten tijde van de regering-Venetiaan I en regering- Wijdenbosch. Bij deze regering is het weer ter sprake gekomen. Maar men heeft er geen oren naar. Een partijgenoot werd benoemd. En dat ‘killed' het land."
    Ook in het plan West-Suriname had er voor Suriname veel meer ingezeten. "De man komt met zijn private-jet uit Pittsburg", vertelt Jessurun over de president van Alcoa. "Dan blijkt de immigratiedienst van Zanderij hiervan niet op de hoogte. Er moet eerst een brief van BUZA komen dat ze binnen mogen. Hoewel ze lang moesten wachten, komen ze alsnog met een aanbieding om 4 miljard dollar in Suriname te investeren, want in de VS is een wet die geïnvesteerd geld vrij stelt van belasting. Terwijl onze regering talmt zijn de Amerikanen ook tegelijkertijd bezig in IJsland waar er wel beslissingen worden genomen. Dat heb ik toen in het parlement aangekaart. In 2004, twee jaren later, komt er eindelijk een MOU." Inmiddels is besloten door Alcoa een smelterij in IJsland op te zetten, ook komt er een smelterij in Trinidad. "Het is maar de vraag of smelterij in West-Suriname er nog komt, want veel zal afhangen van ontwikkelingen op de wereldmarkt", zegt Jessurun. "Die traineringen, bureaucratie en ondeskundigheid maken dat we keer op keer de boot missen."

    Twee uitersten
    Jessurun spreekt over het Nieuw Front en de NDP van een ‘symbiose', die moeilijk te doorbreken is. "Het Front houdt Bouterse in stand en gebruikt hem om de mensen te bewegen om op hun te stemmen, waarbij Bouterse wordt afgeschilderd als een gevaar. Zonder Bouterse zou er geen Front zijn." Jessurun haalt een andere broer aan – Arti van Trefpunt 2000 – die een vergelijking maakt met de ‘makkaslang en de kapassi' die samen in één hol leven, waarbij de kapassi het hol graaft. "Alternatieven die zich opmaken hebben het moeilijk zich daartussen overeind te houden, omdat we ons – ook de media – focussen op deze twee uitersten", aldus Jessurun.
    Intussen holt Suriname sociaal-economisch achteruit. In 1967 – volgens de ‘laatste officiële' cijfers – verdienden we 1 miljard Amerikaanse dollars. Nu, 37 jaar later, verdienen we met zijn allen 1,1 miljard dollar. Jessurun: "In al die jaren zijn we geen stap vooruit gekomen. Als we de geldontwaarding erop loslaten, dan verdienden we in 1967 zes miljard dollar. We zijn erop achteruitgegaan ondanks de verdragsmiddelen, de garantiemiddelen en alle andere donormiddelen die zijn opgegaan, alles bij elkaar zo'n vier miljard dollar."
    Maar hoe valt dit te doorbreken dan te door breken? Jessurun: "Je moet in feite beginnen bij de basis: de mens. Daarbij moeten we de vraag stellen: waar willen we naartoe. Ons onderwijs moet naar een topniveau op basis van de ontwikkelingsdoelen. Willen we aan landbouw doen, dan moet er op zijn minst een landbouwhogeschool zijn. We hebben niet eens lage landbouwschool. Willen we de dienstverlenende kant op, dan moeten we ons onderwijs daarop afstemmen en zorgen dat we qua landbouw zelfvoorzienend zijn."
    Maar ook het huidige politieke bestel moet op de helling. Op grond daarvan heeft A1 ook een concept-grondwet geschreven met ‘betere machtsverhouding' tussen wetgevende en uitvoerende macht, een ceremoniële president en een uitvoerende minister-president die verantwoording verschuldigd is aan het parlement. Nu hebben we een executieve president – naar het Amerikaans voorbeeld – maar zonder dat we onze president rechtstreeks kiezen. Ook het huidige aantal van zestien ministeries moet drastisch omlaag door middel van ‘clustering', waardoor je onder meer krijgt een ministerie van Welzijn (nu Volksgezondheid, Arbeid en Sociale Zaken), een ministerie van Productie (nu NH, HI en LVV) een ministerie van Opbouw, Verkeer en Waterstaat (nu OW en TCT). Ook Regionale Ontwikkelingen en Binnenlandse Zaken dienen te worden samengevoegd.

    Leven en dood
    Ondertussen is de NDP weer in opmars. Onbegrijpelijk voor Jessurun. "Bouterse had in 1980 tot 1987 absolute regeringmacht en kon beslissen over leven en dood, wat hij ook deed. Hij kreeg van de Nederlandse regering een half miljard tot zijn beschikking, meer dan welke regering ook. Wie geeft mij nu de garantie dat hij nu met weinig geld en een absolute oppositie iets zal kunnen betekenen. Je kan alleen slagen met leiderschap, visie en contacten in wereld."
    Dat laatste kan Bouterse in elk geval naar fluiten, nu de VS duidelijk hebben gemaakt geen banden te zullen onderhouden met regering ‘geleid door een veroordeelde drugscrimineel'.
    Wat vindt Jesserun van deze ‘inmenging' van binnenlandse aangelegenheden? "Als land mag ik zeggen met wie ik hand in hand wil lopen. We maken ons allemaal op als moraalverdediger. In een goede democratie zonder etnische en maatschappelijke kloven had zo'n Amerikaanse uitspraak niet gehoeven. Maar dat is bij ons niet het geval, met name als we kijken naar de rechtsstaat die nog steeds niet is hersteld. Je hoort mensen roepen: ‘Isolement of niet; Des for pres, neks no fout'. Maar de VS zeggen bij voorbaat dat álles fout is. Het is natuurlijk niet leuk voor Suriname, net als bij de 100-procentcontrole. Maar we hebben er zelf een puinhoop van gemaakt. We moeten het herstellen. Daarom is A1 er; voor het herstellen van het aangezicht van Suriname in de wereld."


              World: Food Assistance Outlook Brief, August 2017        
    Source: Famine Early Warning System Network
    Country: Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, World, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe

    This brief summarizes FEWS NET’s most forward-looking analysis of projected emergency food assistance needs in FEWS NET coverage countries. The projected size of each country’s acutely food insecure population is compared to last year and the recent five-year average. Countries where external emergency food assistance needs are anticipated are identified. Projected lean season months highlighted in red indicate either an early start or an extension to the typical lean season. Additional information is provided for countries with large food insecure populations, an expectation of high severity, or where other key issues warrant additional discussion.


              World: Humanitarian Coordinator Information Products, 31 July 2017        
    Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
    Country: Afghanistan, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Haiti, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Philippines, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Ukraine, World, Yemen


              South Sudan: South Sudan Refugees Statistics as of 31 July 2017        
    Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees
    Country: Burundi, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan


              Why Death Sentences Have Dropped in Texas        
    Why Death Sentences Have Dropped in Texas
    Dudley Sharp

    Re: Texas is issuing fewer death sentences and executing fewer inmates, report says, Samantha Ketterer, Dallas Morning News, 12/15/16

    From: Dudley Sharp

    The referenced report, issued by Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (TCADP), finds that opinions and practices, against the death penalty, as well as the adoption of life without parole (LWOP) in 2005, expensive death penalty trials and better legal defense are reasons for the drop, as per Kristin Houlé, the coalition's director.

    Rob Kepple, executive director of the Texas District and County Attorneys Association, finds:

    "I don’t know that that (the drop in death sentences) should surprise anybody," "The number of murders alone and the number of death-eligible cases is way lower than it was in the '80s and '90s."

    Let's look.

    Life Without Parole (LWOP) and Texas Death Penalty Reduction

    LWOP law went into effect in Texas on September 1, 2005.

    I didn't find any post 9/1/2005 capital murders that pled down to LWOP before 12/31/2005 nor any death penalty option trials that were decided prior to 12/31/2005, with a LWOP sentence.

    There was a 69% drop in death sentences, from 48 in 1999 to 15 in 2005, PRIOR to LWOP having any effect on death sentences.

    The first year that the LWOP law could have had any effect on death sentences was in 2006, with 11 death sentences.

    In 2007, death sentences rose by 36%, to 15.

    With almost total consistency, death sentences averaged a little over 10 per year from 2006-2014, which added an  additional 10% drop, to 79%, from the 69% decline of 1999-2005, with that 10%, easily, seen as part of a consistent 15 year (1999-2014)  downward trend, unaffected by LWOP, with the 06-14 drop, massively, smaller than the pre LWOP drop.

    In effect, there was no drop from 2006-2014.

    Prior to LWOP application, death sentences averaged about a 10% drop per year from 1999-2005, but about a 1% drop per year from 2006-2014, on average, after LWOP application, from 11 in 2006 to an average of 10, from 2007-2014, with 15 in 2007 and 11 in 2008 and 2014.

    Death sentences dropped in 2015 and 2016, to 2 and 4, respectively, 10 years after the LWOP law, with no reason to suggest that LWOP was the reason for those numbers, after a 10 year wait, when none of the immediate, previous 15 year, 79% drop can be connected to LWOP.

    It is important to note that juries were not allowed to be told that the previous, pre 2005 life sentences, had parole eligibility.

    Texas had a 55% drop in murders (71% drop in rate),  37% drop in robberies (60% drop in rate), from 1991-2014.

    Robbery/murder is the most common death eligible crime, which may have dropped 70-80%, during that 1991-2014 period, which may account for the entire drop.

    When I first heard the claims about Texas' LWOP law causing the death sentence drop (1), I didn't even have to fact check. I already knew about the huge reductions in violent crime rates, inclusive of murder and robbery, prior to the LWOP law, just as all Texas media and Houlé did.

    Other Alleged Causes For The Drop In Death Sentences

    Nonsense

    "Democratic state Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., the author of the life-without-parole law, said "It isn't life without parole that has weakened the death penalty," "It is a growing lack of belief that our system is fair."(1)

    Lucio appears correct about LWOP and I have seen no evidence that either prosecutors or jurors have reduced death sentences because of unfairness.

    The Innocence & Exoneration Problems

    All death penalty prosecutors are aware of the massive "innocent" and "exoneration" frauds (2), by anti death penalty folks, so that would have no effect in their seeking the death penalty.

    Alan Levy, Tarrant County district attorney's office, credits the Innocence Project groups with "convincing the public that the system is much less reliable than it is." (1).

    How is the public subject to the Innocence Project deceptions? Only via the media. I am unaware of any study finding that capital cases or any jurors have been effected by these frauds.

    Costs

    "Also, in the recession, the higher costs of pursuing the death penalty have become harder to ignore, and life without parole is a far cheaper alternative." (1).

    Maybe.

    Up front costs have always been higher in death penalty cases, so that gives no reason, now, for that to cause fewer death sentences. It always has. Yes, the up front costs would be more of a challenge during a recession, however . . .

    It is the most populous counties which have, by far, the greatest number of death eligible crimes, and, within those counties, the death penalty would have the smallest percentage affect on budgets, likely, under 0.1% of the total budget. About 2% of death penalty jurisdictions have more than half of the death sentenced cases, as expected, because they have the majority of violent crimes.

    The only academic review of death penalty vs lifer costs in Texas found that life cases were more expensive (3). So, again, we may be getting the wrong information from the media (1), as they, so often, just follow the anti death penalty lead, which is that the death penalty is, always, millions more expensive than LWOP, which is complete nonsense (3).

    "Pursuing life without parole from the onset can avoid millions in legal costs and settle cases quickly."

    True. If you plea bargain to LWOP, only possible with the death penalty, the savings are huge.

    Popular Opinion

    The alleged popular opinion drop, against the death penalty, would have had little to no effect on prosecutors seeking the death penalty, unless we had a noticeably higher percentage of anti death penalty prosecutors elected, which, apparently , may not have occurred until the incoming class of 2017.

    If there becomes a high percentage of anti death penalty folks lying to get on capital eligible juries, that would, certainly have an effect, but am unaware how you would measure that.

    It has been stated that 2/3 of capital cases result in a sanction less than death. If true, we could measure if that percentage has risen. I am unaware of any such review. (see Just revenge : costs and consequences of the death penalty, Mark Costanzo, St. Martin's Press, 1997)

    I say "alleged" popular opinion drop because the media has, for at least, the past 10 years, chosen only those polls with the lowest death penalty support and excluded all others, as detailed (4).

    The highest death penalty support, ever, was 86%, in 2013, as recorded by Angus-Reid, the #1 most accurate pollster in the 2012 presidential election (4). You are, likely, unaware. Not one media outlet carried it (4).

    That's what we are dealing with.

    Other reasons

    Both upgraded defense and a series of US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decisions, limiting death penalty application, may have, both, contributed to the Texas drop, with the later much easier to quantify than the former.

    There are 6 or 7 factors they may have affected the death sentence drop in Texas, with the reduction in capital murders being the most obvious, as well as the most hopeful and welcome sign. as well as the most, commonly, downplayed or absent.

    1) one of many

    A. Batheja, "Death sentences have dropped sharply after life without parole became possible," Fort Worth Star-Telegram, November 15, 2009 with active link, found here, as directed by the reporter.
    Texas sends fewer to death row, November 28, 2009
    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2009-11-28/news/0911280167_1_death-sentences-death-row-juries

    2) The Innocent Frauds: Standard Anti Death Penalty Strategy
    READ SECTIONS 3&4 FIRST
    http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-innocent-frauds-standard-anti-death.html

    3)  See Texas

    Saving Costs with The Death Penalty
    http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/02/death-penalty-cost-saving-money.html

    4) 86% Death Penalty Support: Highest Ever - April 2013
    World Support Remains High
    95% of Murder Victim's Family Members Support Death Penalty
    http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/11/86-death-penalty-support-highest-ever.html
              American Nurses' Assoc.: Dead Wrong on Death Penalty        
    American Nurses' Association: Dead Wrong on Death Penalty

    Notes for first draft

    It is hard to fathom how the ANA could have gotten so much, so wrong (1).

    A rebuttal to all of ANA's death penalty "facts".

    Each one of these is a rebuttal to what ANA presented.

    (p 4, para 1, fn1)

    RACE & THE DEATH PENALTY: A REBUTTAL TO THE RACISM CLAIMS
    http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2012/07/rebuttal-death-penalty-racism-claims.html

    White murderers are twice as likely to be executed as are black murderers

    56% of those executed are white, 35% black

    For the White–Black comparisons, the Black level is 12.7 times greater than the White level for homicide, 15.6 times greater for robbery, 6.7 times greater for rape, and 4.5 times greater for aggravated assault.

    For the Hispanic- White comparison, the Hispanic level is 4.0 times greater than the White level for homicide, 3.8 times greater for robbery, 2.8 times greater for rape, and 2.3 times greater for aggravated assault.

    For the Hispanic–Black comparison, the Black level is 3.1 times greater than the Hispanic level for homicide, 4.1 times greater for robbery, 2.4 times greater for rape, and 1.9 times greater for aggravated assault.

    As robbery/murder is, by far, the most common death penalty eligible murder, the multiples will be even greater.

    From 1977-2012, white death row murderers have been executed at a rate 41% higher than are black death row murderers, 19.3% vs 13.7%, respectively. ( Table 12, Executions and other dispositions of inmates sentenced to death, by race and Hispanic origin, 1977–2012, Capital Punishment 2012, Bureau of Justice Statistics, last edited 11/3/14)

    "There is no race of the offender / victim effect at either the decision to advance a case to penalty hearing or the decision to sentence a defendant to death given a penalty hearing."


    Is There Class Disparity with Executions?
    http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/03/is-there-class-disparity-with-executions.html

    "99.8% of poor murderers have avoided execution.

    It may be, solely, dependent upon the definitions of "wealthy" and "poor", as to whether wealthy murderers are any more or less likely to be executed, based upon the very small number and percentage of capital murders that are committed by the wealthy, as compared to the poor.

    =======

     (p 5, para 2, fn1)

    The Death Penalty: Saving More Innocent Lives
    http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-death-penalty-do-innocents-matter.html
    ======

    (p 5, para 3, fn1)

    Saving Costs with The Death Penalty
    http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/02/death-penalty-cost-saving-money.htm
    ======

    (p 5, para 4, fn1)

    It s impossible to prove that any sanction or any negative outcome does not deter some. Why? It would be contrary to reason and history, as we all well know.

    --  Full rebuttal to Nagin (National Research Council)

    Death Penalty Deterrence: Defended & Advanced
    http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/06/death-penalty-deterrence-defended.html

    --  Full Rebuttal to Radelet (Criminologists)

    Deterrence and the Death Penalty: A Reply to Radelet and Lacock
    http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2009/07/deterrence-and-death-penalty-reply-to.html
    ======

    (p 5, para 5, fn1)

    The Death Penalty: Fair and Just
    http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/12/is-death-peanalty-fairjust.html
    ======

    (p 5, para 6, fn1)

    There is a huge body of very well known legal work with regard to mental illness and the death penalty.

    Apparently, the ANA has no clue. No surprise.

    Cases to follow.

    ======

    (p 5, para 7, fn1)

    The ANA is unaware that because of state governments and states' rights, that the death penalty statutes, as all laws, may be different from state to state. This is no surprise and is well known to all, but not the ANA?

    Nebraska reinstated the death penalty by popular vote, 61-39%, in 2016.

    The other six states that have, recently, revoked the death penalty all did so contrary to those states popular death penalty support and could only accomplish repeal based upon a Democratic majority legislature, with a Democratic governor.

    ======

    (p6, para 8, fn 1)

    --  "The normal moral reason for upholding capital punishment is reverence for life itself. Indeed, this is the reason why scripture and Christian tradition have upheld it, a fact which suggests that, if anything, it may be the abolition of capital punishment which threatens to cheapen life, not its retention." J. Budziszewski, Professor of Government and Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin, Jan. 25, 2002 conference, Pew Forum, titled "A Call for Reckoning: Religion and the Death Penalty"

    --   John Murray: "Nothing shows the moral bankruptcy of a people or of a generation more than disregard for the sanctity of human life." "... it is this same atrophy of moral fiber that appears in the plea for the abolition of the death penalty." "It is the sanctity of life that validates the death penalty for the crime of murder. It is the sense of this sanctity that constrains the demand for the infliction of this penalty. The deeper our regard for life the firmer will be our hold upon the penal sanction which the violation of that sanctity merit." (Page 122 of Principles of Conduct).

    --  The biblical support for the death penalty is, specifically, based within human dignity.

    Genesis 9:5-6, from the 1764 Quaker Bible, the only Quaker bible.

    5 And I will certainly require the Blood of your Lives, and that from the Paw of any Beast: from the Hand likewise of Man, even of any one’s Brother, will I require the Life of a Man.

    6 He that sheds Man’s Blood, shall have his own shed by Man; because in the Likeness of God he made Mankind.

    --  Vengeance cannot be the foundation for the death penalty. The death penalty, as all sanctions, are based within justice, with a just, proportional sanction, given within due process, whereby no one connected to the crime can decide either the verdict or sentence, which are both the sole provinces of the judge(s) and/or jury, neither of which has a a vengeance component, nor foundation - again, very well known by all, except ANA.

    ======

    (p6, para 9, fn 1)

    No "Botched" Execution - Arizona (or Ohio)
    http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2014/08/no-botched-execution-arizona-or-ohio.html
    ======

    1) Capital Punishment and  Nurses’ Participation in Capital Punishment, http://www.nursingworld.org/CapitalPunishmentNursesRole-ANAPositionStatement

    =======================

    EDITED
    Sent to ANA 2/23/2017

    From: Dudley Sharp, a death penalty expert

    The American Nurses' Association: Dead Wrong on Death Penalty

    It is hard to fathom how the ANA could have gotten so much, so wrong (1).

    ANA's Death Penalty Facts

    ANA, primarily, used an anti death penalty site for all of the alleged "facts" about the death penalty. ANA fact checked none of it, with the foreseeable result.

    Here are just two of ANA's blunders, from a field of blunders.

    1) ANA writes: "Since 1973, over 155 people have been exonerated and freed from death row." (p 5, par 2, fn 1)

    Untrue.

    Anti death penalty folks, simply, redefined both "exonerated" and "innocent", as if they had redefined lie as truth, and stuffed a bunch of cases into those new "definitions", as is, easily, discovered by basic fact checking (2), ignored by ANA. Various reviews find the "exonerated" claims to be 70-83% in error (2). This has been known for nearly 20 years.

    2) ANA writes: "In California, the cost of confining one inmate on death row is $90,000 more per year than the cost of maximum security prison ." ". . . a study in North Carolina showed that the cost of a death penalty sentence was $216,000 and the total cost per execution was $2.16 million, more than the cost of life imprisonment (p 5, para 3, fn 1)."

    Ludicrous. Neither is possible (3),  just like much of the ANA nonsense, as revealed by fact checking (4).


    ANA Confusing Politics for Ethics and Morality

    Some have undertaken an ill advised or dishonest effort to show that medical ethics require medical professionals to shun the death penalty.

    It is an, utterly, false narrative.

    The effort to ban medical professionals' participation in executions is an unethical effort to fabricate professional ethical standards, based upon personal anti-death penalty activism, from those whose professions are medically related.

    As with, ANA: " . . . the principles of  social justice speak to the  importance of  the nursing profession’s taking a stance against the death penalty, due to the preponderance of evidence against the fairness and effectiveness of capital punishment as a deterrent." (p1, fn 1)

    The foundation for the death penalty, as for all sanctions, is justice. Deterrence cannot be negated for the death penalty nor for any other sanction, nor for any other negative prospect (5). ANA chooses to risk sacrificing more innocent lives (5).

    Fairness is a highly subjective consideration. For example, based upon 2008-2011, US data, " . . . the true number of premature deaths associated with preventable harm to patients was estimated at more than 400,000 per year. Serious harm seems to be 10- to 20-fold more common (4-8 million) than lethal harm." (6) 

    Fair?

    There is no proof of an innocent executed in the US, at least since the 1930s.

    Based upon ANA's constant errors (2-4), we know the ANA could not, possibly, have made an informed evaluation of fairness, as detailed.

    ANA parrots that the death penalty is a human rights violation. Both freedom and life are fundamental human rights. Neither is inviolate, which is why we have both incarceration and executions, with due process. None of the groups stating that the death penalty is a human rights violation also state that incarceration is, as well. The only difference in the stances are that one is honest and the other not.

    Nurses may ethically/morally participate in executions based upon their caring spirit, that they may assist in providing less painful executions and that they, also, may find the death penalty to be a just sanction that helps to save more innocent lives.

    As per, Dr. Robert Truog, MD, Professor of Medical Ethics, Harvard Medical School:

    "If I think of the kind of a hypothetical where you have an inmate who is about to be executed and knows that this execution may involve excruciating suffering, that inmate requests the involvement of a physician, because he knows that the physician can prevent that suffering from occurring, and if there is a physician who is willing to do that, and we know from surveys that many are, I honestly can't think of any principle of medical ethics that would say that that is an unethical thing for the physician to do." (7)

    How could he reach that conclusion? Easily.

    Just as per page 2, fn 1, ANA could have provided that "Nurses. . .  provide comfort care at the  end of life, if requested, including pain control, anxiety relief or procuring the services of a chaplain or spiritual advisor.", for nurses that find the death penalty to be just and ethical.

    There has been a lot of ink used to review the long standing medical professions ethical prohibitions against the death penalty.

    There is no such prohibition.

    Some in the medical community have fabricated an ethical prohibition against medical professionals' involvement in state executions by invoking the famous "do no harm" credo and the Hippocratic Oath.

    It is a dishonest effort.

    THE ETHICS OF LYING - The Hippocratic Oath

    Note: To their credit, ANA does not use the Hippocratic Oath to support their position, but does, foundationally, use "do no harm" (1).

    Some have proclaimed that "First do no harm" is a centuries old foundation of medical ethics, weighing against death penalty participation.

    Untrue.

    It is an anti-death penalty fraud that "do no harm" is in the context of the state execution of murderers (8).

    Neither the Hippocratic Oath nor "do no harm" have anything to do with executions (8).

    Both are, solely, concerned with the medical profession and patients.

    " 'do no harm' (a phrase translated into Latin as "Primum nonnocere") is often mistakenly ascribed to the (Hippocratic) oath, although it appears nowhere in that venerable pledge.(8)"

    "Hippocrates came closest to issuing this directive in his treatise Epidemics, in an axiom that reads, 'As to disease, make a habit of two things - to help, or at least, to do no harm.'  (8)"

    "As to disease" -  Nothing else.

    There is no relevance outside medicine and, most certainly, no prohibition against medical professionals participation in the state execution of murderers.

    The classic Hippocratic Oath & Its Brother, the Hypocrisy Oath

    "I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art." (8)

    This is a prohibition against euthanasia and abortion (8) and has nothing to do with the fabricated medical prohibition of participation in state sanctioned executions.

    Do those anti-death penalty physicians and medical associations promise license revocation if any of their members participate in euthanasia or abortion?

    Of course not.

    In fact, we have Belgium approving the assisted suicides of children, of any age, with participation by physicians (9).

    Many medical professionals fully accept and participate in both abortion and euthanasia.

    Many could care less about the true ethical prohibitions that exist in a medical, historical context.

    Instead, they just invent new ones, against the death penalty and for child suicide, while avoiding the true prohibitions, ushering in the newly renamed and truthful - Hypocrisy Oath.

    Is the ANA unaware that the lethal injection executions of murderers are a criminal justice sanction and that it is not a medical procedure with patients?

    If nurses wish to participate in end of life situations that have nothing to do with patients, medical associations should not place political roadblocks in their way.

    The few legal reviews of this topic have found as reason and fact require:

    "Other courts have addressed (physicians participating in executions) and found that it does not violate the physician's code of ethics to participate in an execution . . ." "The Court... does not find that Missouri physicians who are involved in administering the lethal injections are violating their ethical obligations . .  ." (Taylor v. Crawford, Jan. 31, 2006, Court Order issued by the US Western District Court of Missouri)

    Let's look at some additional sensible reviews:

    The editors of The Public Library of Science (PLoS) Medicine write:

    "Execution by lethal injection, even if it uses tools of intensive care such as intravenous tubing and beeping heart monitors, has the same relationship to medicine that an executioner's axe has to surgery." ("Lethal Injection Is Not Humane", PLoS, 4/24/07).

    So to, The American Society of Anesthesiologists:

    "Although lethal injection mimics certain technical aspects of the practice of anesthesia, capital punishment in any form is not the practice of medicine. ("Statement on Physician Nonparticipation in Legally Authorized Executions," 10/18/06).

    Both confirm the obvious: The state execution of murderers has no connection, ethically or otherwise, to the medical treatment of patients.

    Rationally, there is no ethical nor moral connection, Some folks just want to fabricate a false narrative. So that's what they do - just another anti-death penalty fraud.

    1) Capital Punishment and  Nurses’ Participation in Capital Punishment, http://www.nursingworld.org/CapitalPunishmentNursesRole-ANAPositionStatement

    2) The Innocent Frauds: Standard Anti Death Penalty Strategy
    READ SECTIONS 3&4 FIRST
    http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-innocent-frauds-standard-anti-death.html

    and

    An Open Fraud in the Death Penalty Debate: How Death Penalty Opponents Lie - The "Innocent" and the "Exonerated"
    http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/03/the-innocent-exonerated-and-death-row_19.html

    3)  Death Penalty Costs: California
    http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2012/08/death-penalty-costs-california.html

    and

    "Duke (North Carolina) Death Penalty Cost Study (1993): Let's be honest"
    http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2009/06/duke-north-carolina-death-penalty-cost.html

    4) Review of other ANA fact problems
    http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2017/02/the-american-nurses-association-dead.html

    5) The Death Penalty: Saving More Innocent Lives
    http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-death-penalty-do-innocents-matter.html

    6) A New, Evidence-based Estimate of Patient Harms Associated with Hospital Care
    James, John T. PhD, Journal of Patient Safety, September 2013 - Volume 9 - Issue 3 - p 122–128, john.t.james@earthlink.net


    7) New England Journal of Medicine interview titled "Perspective Roundtable: Physicians and Execution", Jan. 18, 2008

    8) Physicians & The State Execution of Murderers: No Medical Ethics Dilemma
    http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2009/10/physicians-state-execution-of-murderers.html

    and

    The Death Penalty & Medical Ethics Revisited
    http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2015/09/the-death-penalty-medical-ethics.html


    9)  "What Belgium's child euthanasia law means for America and the Constitution", Eugene Kontorovich, Washington Post, February 13, 2014





              Juveniles & The Death Penalty        
    Why Some “Juvenile” Murderers Should Qualify For The Death Penalty:
    Brain Science and Other Issues
    Dudley Sharp, 10/2/04

    There are a number of inadequate issues raised in opposition to 16-17 year old murderers being culpable for the death penalty — Brain science and other arguments are either weak or false.

    BRAIN SCIENCE & JUVENILE DEATH PENALTY — NO HOLY GRAIL (1)

    “The brain data don't show that adolescents typically have reduced legal culpability for crimes.” Harvard University psychologist Jerome Kagan.

    UCLA’s Elizabeth Sowell, another prominent brain-development researcher, takes a dim view of the movement to apply neuroscience to the law. She says that no current research connects specific brain traits of typical teenagers to any mental or behavioral problems.

    “The scientific data aren't ready to be used by the judicial system,” she remarks. “The hardest thing [for neuroscientists to do] is to bring brain research into real-life contexts.”

    The ambiguities of science don't mix with social and political causes, contends neuroscientist Bradley S. Peterson of the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. For instance, it’s impossible to say at what age teenagers become biologically mature because the brain continues to develop in crucial ways well into adulthood, he argues.

    Such findings underscore the lack of any sharp transition in brain development that signals maturity, according to neuroscientist William T. Greenough of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Definitions of adulthood change depending on social circumstances, Greenough points out. Only 200 years ago, Western societies regarded 16-year-olds as adults.

    “Brain science offers no simple take-home message about adolescents,” says B.J. Casey of Cornell University’s Weill Medical College in New York City. “It’s amazing how little we know about the developing brain.”

    Brain-scanning techniques, including the popular MRI, remain a “crude level of analysis,” Casey notes. What’s more, many critical brain-cell responses are too fast for MRI to track.

    Brain data, particularly those on delayed frontal-lobe growth in adolescents, also need to be put in a cultural and historical perspective, Harvard’s Kagan asserts. Frontal-lobe development presumably proceeds at roughly the same pace in teenagers everywhere. Yet current rates of teen violence and murder vary from remarkably low to alarmingly high from country to country, he notes.

    “Something about cultural context must be critical here,” Kagan says. “Under the right conditions, 15-year-olds can control their impulses without having fully developed frontal lobes.”

    If incomplete brains automatically reduce adolescents’ capacity to restrain their darker urges, “we should be having Columbine incidents every week,” he adds.

    Science News summarizes these positions: ” . . .brain science doesn’t belong in court because there’s no evidence linking specific characteristics of teens’ brains to any legally relevant condition, such as impaired moral judgment or an inability to control murderous impulses. ”

    AGE, ALONE, CANNOT DICTATE CULPABILITY

    No one, including psychiatrists, psychologists and brain specialists, disputes that some 16-17 year olds are as mature, or more mature, than some of those 18 and older. US Supreme Court Justices, Nobel Peace Prize winners, the American Medical Association and the European Union agree.

    Therefore, the argument against executing some 16-17 year old murderers is without merit, when it is based upon age, alone.

    Is a murderer less culpable solely because they murdered someone one-second, one minute, one week, one month or one year before their 18th birthday? Of course not.

    US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor writes:

    “Furthermore, granting the premise that adolescents are generally less blameworthy than adults who commit similar crimes, it does not necessarily follow that all 15-year-olds are incapable of the moral culpability that would justify the imposition of capital punishment. Nor is there evidence that 15-year-olds as a class are inherently incapable of being deterred from major crimes by the prospect of the death penalty.” (2)

    It is argued that because people have to be older to drink, vote, marry, etc., that it is hypocritical to say that some 16-17 year olds are mature enough to be death eligible for committing capital murder.
     
    If society so wished we could individually evaluate 16-17 years olds (just as we do within the criminal justice system) to determine which of those were as mature as 18-21 year olds and allow those to participate in those responsibilities and privileges. No one doubts that many would qualify. Furthermore, there is a major difference between a social privilege and culpability for capital murder.

    MacArthur Juvenile Competence Study: “The study did not find differences between juveniles aged 16 and 17 and young adults (18-24) in abilities relevant to their competence to stand trial.” (3)

    HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION

    Those who claim that the death penalty is a human rights violation have failed to make their case.

    It is presented that some US states are equal with a number of less democratic nations that execute those who were under age 18 when they committed their murder(s).
     
    First, the US criminal justice system is quite different from those nations. Second, as no one disputes that many 16-17 year olds are as mature as some 18-21 year olds, this argument means nothing.

    In terms of proportionality, execution cannot be viewed as disproportionately severe in relation to the crime. The innocent murder victim did not earn or deserve their fate, whereas the murderer voluntarily took the lives of the innocent and thereby volunteered for the punishment available within that jurisdiction.

    see A phony ‘consensus’ on youthful killers
    by Jeff Jacoby in a Boston Globe op/ed
    http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2005/03/06/a_phony_consensus_on_youthful_killers/

    ======

    (1) excerpts from “Teen Brains on Trial”, Bruce Bower, Science News, 5/8/04, vol. 165, No. 19, p.299
    http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20040508/bob9.asp

    (2) Thompson v. Oklahoma, 487 U.S. 815 (1988) (USSC) at
    www2.law.cornell.edu/cgi-bin/foliocgi.exe/historic/query=[group+487+u!2Es!2E+815!3A]!28[group+edited!3A]!7C[level++case+citation!3A]!29/doc/{@1}/hit_headings/words=4/hits_only?

    (3) from Study Summary, ” MacArthur Juvenile Competence Study”,www.mac-adoldev-juvjustice.org/competence%20study%20summary.pdf
    Full Study, Results, http://www.mac-adoldev-juvjustice.org/page23.html

     
    NOTE: the study was partially funded by the Open Society Institute, one of the Soros Foundations, a product of George Soros, who may be he largest financier of anti death penalty efforts, worldwide.
     


              Google Maps adds live traffic for over 130 cities, boosts existing coverage        

    Google Maps adds live traffic for over 130 cities, boosts existing coverage

    Google has expanded its Maps traffic coverage before, but rarely on a grand scale. The search giant isn't standing on tradition this time: it just flipped on live traffic data for at least the major roads in over 130 cities. Most of the coverage centers around smaller cities in the US, although Google is tipping its hat to Latin America with first-time support for Bogota, San Jose (in Costa Rica) and Panama City. Coverage has also been improved in a dozen other countries worldwide. While the widened reach still won't ease the burden of anyone already caught in a traffic jam, any democratization of smarter driving directions is good in our book.


              House rejects effort to ban illegal immigrants from military service        
    In a break from previous votes on the issue, the House on Thursday rejected two GOP proposals to prevent the Obama administration from enlisting young illegal immigrants to serve in the military. More than 30 Republicans with more centrist views on immigration joined all Democrats in opposing the two amendments offered to a Defense Department spending bill. The amendments failed narrowly with votes of 207-214 and 210-211, respectively.
              Undoing the soul of democratic-secular india: The RSS pracharak Batra way        

    Apart from physical attacks and threats of elimination to these centres of learning, a more insidious game-plan of RSS is unfolding through RSS pracharak, Dina Nath Batra. He, as a father-figure of the RSS demolition squad against the largely liberal-democratic-secular system of school education which aimed at producing inquisitive young scholars who would question the status quo. Batra has come out with a new HIT LIST to be cleansed from educational content.

    - Educating to Hate: fundamentalisms in school books [& educational space] / , ,

              Exterminate the Brutes: Fighting Back Against the Right        
    by
    Robert Markley
    1996-04-01

    Michael Bérubé’s essay on the politics of selling out is an eloquent investigation of the dilemmas confronting left intellectuals seeking to survive the long dark night of irrelevance. My only concern is that I wish Bérubé had provided more advice about how to sell out, while, at the same time, winning political converts and influencing influential people. While there is much that is admirable in Bérubé’s piece (originally delivered in March 1995 at the Cultural Studies Symposium at Kansas State), particularly his discussion of the Right’s negation of the “public” in the name of the “people,” I would like to sketch briefly an alternative to the politics of selling out by putting pressure on the term “intellectual,” the blind spot in many romantic calls to action by left cultural critics.

    A crucial point: nobody cares about intellectuals, except other intellectuals. More to the point, unless intellectuals have another source of income, most of them wind up subordinating intellectual interests to the pursuit of livelihoods, or convincing the powers that be that intellectual activity can be profitable (see Bacon, Francis). Few people, for that matter, understand, care about, or are willing to spend the time and energy to follow the intricacies of rational discourse. Think of the sad history of presidential elections since World War II. The Democrats, admittedly a poor excuse for a left of far-right party, nominate Rhodes Scholars, Pulitzer Prize Winners, nuclear engineers, and so on for President; the dominant mode of communication for Clinton, Dukakis, Mondale, Carter, McGovern, Kennedy, and Stevenson has been explanation - a dubious strategy because the hegemonic rhetoric of multinational capitalism is the assurance that Life is Simple: advertising slogans, biblical homilies, capsule news summaries, crossword puzzles, billboards, true-false tests, and click on one of the following options all reinforce the belief that there are always “right” answers to be had, and that these answers can be summed up in a few words: “just say no”; “you deserve a break today”; “life is good.” Can you remember a Republican candidate for national office (since, say, John Lindsay) trying to explain anything to voters? Nixon, perhaps, but Nixon’s explanations were always corrosive and evasive.

    The most successful Democrat since Roosevelt was, significantly, the least intellectually gifted and, if you have read the first two volume’s of Robert Caro’s biography, the most vicious, brutal, and amoral. What Lyndon Johnson understood far better than most cultural critics is that intellect (not to mention morality) is a handicap in politics: the purpose of policy is not to achieve moral clarity or intellectual rigor but to perpetuate networks, connections, positions of power, influence, and of course to accumulate symbolic capital and cold hard cash. The most successful, in many ways, of the handful of Left political leaders (broadly defined) in the past half century, Martin Luther King, did not analyze the semiotics of race, despite his Ph.D., so much as he evoked a religious vision: “I have a dream.” Dreams may have their own semiotics, but they do not, for audiences glued to Sightings, require complex modes of intellectual elucidation.

    In my mind, then, our concern about the role of the public intellectual is misplaced. The arena in which the Left has to contest the Regime of the Right is not in the pages of The Nation or even The Village Voice but in the much devalued realm of cheap, anti-intellectual “entertainment”: tawdry talk shows, infomercials, trade shows for would-be entrepreneurs, tabloids, the Psychic Hot Line, etc. Bérubé reports that his editor at Harper’s suggested that a successful article renders the experience of reading almost non-cognitive; in any consumer culture, the separation between logic and rhetoric returns with a vengeance. In such a world, the Left needs to counter the vicious, mindless, kneecapping of the Right with vicious, mindless, kneecapping of its own: not nostalgia for JFK but a reinvigoration of the Realpolitik of LBJ.

    Who better to contribute to public policy than college and university professors who are paid to study rhetoric and semiotics? Think of all the energy that cultural critics have devoted to interrogating racist, homophobic, misogynist, and classist rhetoric, values, and assumptions during the last fifteen years. This knowledge can and should be used to counter racism, sexism, homophobia, and the politics of privilege, but such an undertaking requires precisely that “we,” left erstwhile intellectuals, relinquish our stubborn faith in rational argument. Rational argument is what we do on our jobs; it is not necessarily an essential, unchanging measure of our intrinsic worth as human beings. You cannot argue morality; you can successfully challenge prejudice only by exploiting a complex psycho-social matrix that is largely unresponsive to causal reasoning. All of us know that, to varying degrees, it is often an uphill struggle to get students to distinguish between reason and bias. The mush-headed right, at least since George Wallace, has accumulated political capital by tarring and feathering “pointy-headed intellectuals” - cashing in on a politics of resentment by redirecting economic anxieties away from the unequal distribution of wealth to the distribution of specialized knowledge. For many Americans, elitists read poetry, not The Wall Street Journal. The Left will be more successful, as it has been in the (dim) past, by counterattacking the Rush Limbaughs of the world, not by noting inconsistencies in their presentations.

    As Bérubé points out, the practice of left intellectuals attacking other left intellectuals for elitism, obscurity, and impracticality is old enough to have passed from history into the dark backward and abysm of myth. If the left seems doomed to repeat rituals of self-immolation, it is, in part, because we remain obsessed with the value of distinction, discrimination and purification rather than with the always impure strategies of success. What follows, then, are some suggestions to ensure that we sell out successfully:

    1 Coopt the rhetoric of values, and beat the Right over the head with it. No self-styled Leftist should be allowed to offer political pronouncements without chanting the following mantra: greed, hypocrisy, and sin. Pro-Lifers who refuse to demand that the government raise taxes to provide funds for education, medical and dental care, food, clothing, shelter, and so on for each and every child who is “saved” are (repeat after me) hypocrites. Fundamentalists who ravage the environment to make money are sinners. Pat Buchanan has no values except greed.

    2 Deploy the language of prejudice and exclusion by (for example) insistently feminizing right-wing males. Elected stooges of multinational capitalism are “whores”; candidates who turn a blind eye when workers are “downsized” into lower paying jobs are “cowards”; men who harass women on the job are “wimps who can’t get a date.” Officials who claim they cannot or should not intervene to help the homeless, the sick, the dying are “impotent.” The NRA should be ridiculed for playing with phallic symbols to compenstae for their psychosexual dysfunctions. Obviously, reproducing such rhetoric tends to reinscribe the dynamic of prejudice and exclusion that many of us are dedicated to overcoming. But politics is not about purity: the squeamish need to ask themselves whether living through the jihad that President Buchanan would visit upon us is a price worth paying for claiming the supposed moral high ground.

    3 As Bérubé argues, the Left’s basic problem is that it lacks the financial resources of the Right; this unequal distribution of wealth and power is unlikely to change soon. Consequently, it becomes imperative for progressives, feminists, radicals, greens, pinkos, and reds to concentrate their financial resources in areas likely to have the most benefit. My suggestion, then, is that we scale back our commitments to worthy causes (ACT UP, Greenpeace, Amnesty International, battered women’s shelters, the United Negro College Fund, Ducks Unlimited, NPR, you name it), pool our resources, and…buy CBS. I wish I were kidding. But the ideology of corporate command, control, and communication renders us little choice if we want to sell out successfully enough to buy a fair share of political power and cultural capital. Left-Wing TV might bring back Gore Vidal to prime time as a Commentator on the CBS Evening News, offer variations on programs such as X-Files by hiring the best writers and producers to promote left-wing conspiracy theories: sexy agents combating corporate skullduggery; white supremacists in league with hostile aliens; mysterious conspiracies at the highest levels of telecommunications; and lonely forest rangers fighting off evil corporations intent on gutting the environment. There should be sympathetic portrayals of lesbian police officers, gay physicians, African-American labor organizers, and so on. If the Left is to counter the cultural dominance of right-wing talk shows, it needs the cultured voice of Gore Vidal intoning nightly that the political spectrum in the United States runs from the Right to the Far Right.

    4 Get our own house in order by taking back our universities. One example of effective collective action. Imagine the end of the Fall Semester 1996. Professors all over the country rise up and give every scholarship basketball player in the country a real set of finals: “Discuss the influence of Hegel on Kierkegaard.” “Analyze the significance of Walter Lippman’s concept of the stereotype on the image of the African-American athlete.” “What are the implications of Coase`s theorem for negotiations between professional athletes and franchise owners?” This may sound like a vicious case of harassing the pawns by asking scholarship athletes (a high percentage of whom are African-American) to do work that almost all of their peers would fail abjectly to do, but such collective action could be the springboard to insist that scholarship athletes who generate hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue each year be paid stipends (much like research assistants). Think, too, of network executives (spending a half billion dollars a year on college basketball) stuck with a Final Four tournament that consists of walk-ons and white guys shooting two-hand set shots on national TV. Most educated Americans - doctors, lawyers, corporate chiefs - have little idea of the wages and working conditions of most college and university instructors, particularly part-timers. Instead of the disinformation campaigns presented at half-time of basketball and football games - half nostalgic images of ivy-strangled halls and half glitzy promos of hi-tech venture capitalism, show lines of students trying to get into closed out classes.

    5 The African-American athlete is sadly underused by the Left. Michael Jordan, Shaq, Grant Hill, and so on exist for most Americans in a depoliticized state of glamorous consumption, as though their multi-million dollar contracts and highly publicized lifestyles negate the economic and cultural disadvantages of millions of African-Americans. A trivia question for cultural critics: who is Kellen Winslow and why am I bringing up his name now?

    6 Finally, counter the Right’s simplistic slogans with simplistic slogans of our own. A general purpose campaign slogan to use against Republicans: “Your jobs going overseas.”

    Irving Howe? Russell Jacoby? Shana Alexander? Alexander Cockburn. Hunter Thompson. Molly Ivins. Left intellectuals need to resist the blandishments of a rationalistic politics that remain tied to models of cause and effect, to the siren song that we can reason our way into cultural and political significance. How’s this for a slogan for the resurrection of the Left? “There’s only one Party in this country, and you’re not invited.”


              Kyrsten Sinema Announces Run for Congress        
    English: Senator Kyrsten Sinema
    Image via Wikipedia





    After months of waiting the maps have finally been drawn for the Congressional districts in Arizona. There has been a lot of discussion around the new district - CD 9. Today the first person threw their hat into the race. State Senator Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat,  announced today that she will enter the race.

    Senator Sinema has been a strong advocate for the LGBT community. The biggest example came in 2006, when she led the organization Arizona Together, to become the first and only successful effort in the country to defeat a ballot initiative banning same-sex marriage.

    Per election rules, Sinema has submitted paperwork resigning her job as State Senator, thereby focusing on the campaign full time. The main battle will probably come in the primary with some other well known Arizona Democrats strongly thinking of entering the race. Representative Ben Quayle lives in District 9 but has said he will most likely run in CD 6 since it is more Republican leaning. It is not a require to live in the district you represent at the Congressional level.

    Watch Sinema's announcement video below then go to kyrstensinema.com for more information on her campaign.



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              Former INS Chief Talks Politics of Immigration Reform        
    BY: KWAME HOLMAN The fence that stands on the United States-Mexico border in Naco, Ariz. Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/ The Washington Post via Getty Images. Doris Meissner sometimes gets accused of taking a pro-Democratic view in her current work as senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, which calls itself an “independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit” […]
              Â¡Militando la contra-publicidad..!        
    PROYECTO SQUATTERS // Junio 2017.
    ACTIVISMO CONTRA-PUBLICITARIO.
    Las técnicas de intervención contra-publicitarias son una buena herramienta democratizadora. No para que todos se conviertan en artistas, sino para que nadie sea esclavo. ¡Hacelo en tu barrio!

    EL IMPERIO CONTRA-ATACA





    ARMAS DE INTOXICACIÓN MASIVA.



    PROPIEDAD PRIVADA.





    ALIENS POLÍTICOS.




    QUEDATE SIN BATERÍA.





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              Judge To State Dept: Cough Up Those Benghazi Emails        
    I love the inherent assumption that leads off the following story from Josh Gerstein at Politico: A heartbreaking electoral loss for the Democratic Party is sufficient punishment for any wrongdoing. Why can’t you people just leave poor Hillary alone? Nine months after the presidential election was decided, a federal judge is ordering the State Department […]
              Baidu's Political Censorship is Protected by First Amendment, but Raises Broader Issues        

    Baidu, the operator of China’s most popular search engine, has won the dismissal of a United States lawsuit brought by pro-democracy activists who claimed that the company violated their civil rights by preventing their writings from appearing in search results. In the most thorough and persuasive opinion on the issue of search engine bias to date, a federal court ruled that the First Amendment protects the editorial judgments of search engines, even when they censor political speech. This post will introduce the debate over search engine bias and the First Amendment, analyze the recent decision in Zhang v. Baidu, and discuss the implications of the case for both online speech and search engines.

    Search Engine Bias and the First Amendment

    When users enter a query into a search engine, the search engine returns results ranked and arranged by an algorithm. The complicated algorithms that power search engines are designed by engineers and modified over time. These algorithms, which are proprietary and unique to each search engine, favor certain websites and types of content over others. This is known as “search engine bias.”

    The question of whether search engine results constitute speech protected by the First Amendment is particularly important in the context of search engine bias, and has been the subject of considerable academic debate. Several prominent scholars (including Eric Goldman, Eugene Volokh, and Stuart M. Benjamin) have argued that the First Amendment encompasses results generated by search engines, thus largely immunizing the operators search engines from liability for how they rank websites in search results. Others (primarily Tim Wu) have maintained that because search engine results are automated by algorithm, they should not be granted the full protection of the First Amendment.

    Until now, only two federal courts had addressed this issue. See Langdon v. Google, 474 F. Supp. 2d 622 (D. Del. 2007); Kinderstart v. Google, 2007 WL 831806 (N.D. Cal. 2007). In dismissing claims against Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo brought by private plaintiffs dissatisfied with how their websites ranked in search results, both courts concluded after limited analysis that search engine results are protected under the First Amendment.

    Baidu in Court

    In May 2011, eight Chinese-American activists who described themselves as “promoters of democracy in China” filed a complaint against Baidu in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. The plaintiffs, who are residents of New York, alleged that Baidu had violated their First Amendment and equal protection rights by “censoring and blocking” the pro-democracy content they had published online from its search results, purportedly at the behest of the People’s Republic of China. While the plaintiffs’ content appeared in results generated by Google, Yahoo, and Bing, it was allegedly “banned from any search performed on … Baidu.”

    Baidu responded by filing a motion for judgment on the pleadings. Baidu argued that the plaintiffs’ suit should be dismissed based on the longstanding principle that the First Amendment “prohibits the government from compelling persons to speak or publish others’ speech.” Baidu also accused the plaintiffs of bringing a meritless lawsuit “for the purpose of drawing attention to their views.”

    Last month, United States District Judge Jesse M. Furman concluded in a thoughtful decision that that the results returned by Baidu’s search engine constituted speech protected by the First Amendment, dismissing the plaintiffs’ lawsuit in its entirety.

    Judge Furman began his analysis with a discussion of Miami Herald Publishing Co. v. Tornillo, a 1974 decision in which the Supreme Court held that a Florida statute requiring newspapers to provide political candidates with a right of reply to editorials critical of them violated the First Amendment. By requiring newspapers to grant access to their pages the messages of political candidates, the Florida law imposed an impermissible content-based burden on newspapers’ speech. Moreover, the statute would have had the effect of deterring newspapers from running editorials critical of political candidates. In both respects, the statute was an unconstitutional interference with newspapers’ First Amendment right to exercise “editorial control and judgment.”

    The court then cited Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual Group of Boston, which extended the Tornillo principle beyond the context of the press. In that case, the Supreme Court ruled that Massachusetts could not require organizers of a private St. Patrick’s Day parade to include among marchers a group of openly gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals. This was true even though parade organizers did not create the floats themselves and did not have clear guidelines on who and what groups were allowed to march in the parade. Once again, the Court held that requiring private citizens to impart a message they did not wish to convey would “violate[] the fundamental rule of protection under the First Amendment . . . that a speaker has the autonomy to choose the content of his own message.”

    These decisions taken together, according to the court, established four propositions critical to its analysis. First, the government “may not interfere with the editorial judgments of private speakers on issues of public concern.” Second, this rule applies not only to the press, but to private companies and individuals. Third, First Amendment protections apply “whether or not a speaker articulates, or even has, a coherent or precise message, and whether or not the speaker generated the underlying content in the first place.” And finally, that the government has noble intentions (such as promoting “press responsibility” or preventing hurtful speech) is of no consequence. Disapproval of a speaker’s message, regardless how justified the disapproval may be, does not legitimize attempts by the government to compel the speaker to alter the message by including one more acceptable to others.

    In light of these principles, the court reasoned that “there is a strong argument to be made that the First Amendment fully immunizes search-engine results from most, if not all, kinds of civil liability and government regulation.” In retrieving relevant information from the “vast universe of data on the Internet” and presenting it in a way that is helpful to users, search engines make editorial judgments about what information to include in search results and how and where to display it. The court could not find any meaningful distinction between these judgments and those of a newspaper editor deciding which wire-service stories to run and where to place them, a travel guidebook writer selecting which tourist attractions to mention and how to display them, or a political blog choosing which stories it will link to and how prominently they will be featured.

    Judge Furman made clear that the fact that search-engine results are produced algorithmically had no bearing on the court’s analysis. Because search algorithms are written by human beings, “‘they ‘inherently incorporate the search engine company engineers’ judgments about what materials users are most likely to find responsive to their queries.’” When search engines return results, ordering them from first to last, “they are engaging in fully protected First Amendment expression,” the court concluded.

    The court declined to see any irony in holding that the democratic ideal of free speech protects Baidu’s decision to disfavor speech promoting democracy. “[T]he First Amendment protects Baidu’s right to advocate for systems of government other than democracy (in China or elsewhere) just as surely as it protects Plaintiffs’ rights to advocate for democracy.”

    Implications for Online Speech and Search Engines

    As the amount of content on the Internet grows exponentially, search engines play an increasingly important role in helping users navigate an overwhelming expanse of data – Google alone processes 100 billion search queries each month. As such, there is a definite public interest in shielding search engines from civil liability and government regulation. The decision in Zhang v. Baidu promotes strong constitutional protections for some of the Internet’s most heavily relied-upon intermediaries, making it clear that search engines cannot be compelled to include in their results the speech of others. Though not addressed in this case, these protections complement those guaranteed to search engines by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act . CDA § 230(c)(1) immunizes search engines from most kinds of tort liability for publishing the third-party content of others, while CDA § 230(c)(2) protects their decisions to remove it.

    If search engines were subject to civil liability in the United States for the ways in which they display and rank content in search results, individuals would have the power to alter or censor those results via the federal courts. In addition to the obvious financial consequences of civil liability for search engine operators (the plaintiffs in Zhang v. Baidu sought more than $16 million in damages), such a course could result in significant compliance burdens. To better understand how this might play out, one must look no further than this order by a French court requiring Google to remove from search results at the request of a British executive certain images which had been deemed to violate his right of privacy in a United Kingdom lawsuit. The court seemed to take the position that Google’s argument that the First Amendment protected its search results was inconsistent with the “neutral and passive role of a host,” as required to claim the protection of French intermediary law. Marie-Andree Weiss did an excellent write-up on this controversial decision for the Digital Media Law Project.

    Though it has been rightfully heralded for reaching the conclusion that operators of search engines are exercising their First Amendment rights when deciding which websites to display in what order, the decision in Zhang v. Baidu has serious and potentially negative practical consequences for online speakers. Search engines play a critical role in helping online speech be discovered. Allowing search engines to prevent certain types of content from being indexed in search results could mean that some online speech will be nearly impossible to find without a direct link to where it exists online. A tremendous amount of power over what online speech can be easily located now rests in an ever-dwindling number of private entities. Proposals for a publicly-controlled, open source search engine belonging to “The People” have yet to gain traction.

    Attorneys for the plaintiffs in Zhang v. Baidu have announced plans to appeal the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Should the Second Circuit adopt the line of reasoning laid out so clearly by the district court, plaintiffs across the country considering bringing a lawsuit over search engine bias would be hard-pressed to overcome the First Amendment hurdles put in place by this likely influential precedent.

    Natalie Nicol earned her J.D. from University of California, Hastings College of the Law. During law school, she worked as an intern at the Digital Media Law Project, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the First Amendment Project.

    (Image courtesy of Flickr user simone.brunozzi pursuant to a Creative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0 license.)

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              A New Approach to Helping Journalism Non-Profits at the IRS        

    Today, the Digital Media Law Project has launched a new version of its resources for journalism organizations seeking a Section 501(c)(3) tax exemption for the IRS. As a project, we have been concerned with non-profit journalism from the beginning, providing informational resources for news ventures seeking to form as non-profits. Since the launch of our attorney referral service, the Online Media Legal Network, in late 2009, about a third of our clients have been non-profit journalism organizations; more have been individuals or for-profits interested in starting a non-profit news venture. We have worked with more than forty groups to find counsel to assist them in applying to the IRS for recognition of tax-exempt status.

    But the path to tax-exempt status has not always run smooth. From 2010 to 2012, the IRS was reevaluating its standards for journalism organizations, causing these organizations to face long delays while struggling to stay afloat without an exemption in place. In fact, the now-infamous IRS "BOLO" lists flagged "newspaper entities" for special scrutiny [PDF] as of  February 2011. Several journalism applicants were questioned by the IRS about various aspects of their operation, without understanding why the IRS was interested in those issues -- and sometimes those questions seemed to verge into areas that should have been irrelevant under federal law. To help applicants satisfy IRS scrutiny, in April 2012 the DMLP released a detailed guide to the agency's decision-making process for granting tax exemptions to journalism non-profits.

    In late 2012, it appeared that the logjam at the IRS was beginning to break, with a couple of high-profile applications accepted after delays of more than two years, and a steady stream of additional applications granted since then. And yet, the process remains complex, and there is substantial confusion about both how to obtain Section 501(c)(3) status and what that status allows you to do. For that reason, Eric Newton of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation reached out to the DMLP and offered Knight's support for the development of a video debunking some of the more common myths and misconceptions, which we're pleased to present here (thanks also to Dan Jones, Digital Media Producer for the Berkman Center, and Ogmog Creative):


    It has also become clear to us that the journalism organizations which have the easiest time finding a lawyer to help with a Section 501(c)(3) application, and succeed most frequently at the IRS, are those that take the time to study the 501(c)(3) process and the agency's standards before they apply. For that reason, we have launched a new collection of resources to help news organizations prepare to face the IRS, including: a checklist to help journalists decide if Section 501(c)(3) status is right for them; an updated section of our Legal Guide on the Section 501(c)(3) application process; our detailed guide to IRS decision-making for journalism non-profits; and an archive of successful application materials from news organizations that have obtained their tax-exempt status.

    None of these resources is intended to allow a journalism non-profit to go it alone; with all that has happened at the IRS, the agency process is too tangled for a news venture to expect success without professional assistance. These resources will help journalism ventures to better understand what the agency is looking for, so that they can adjust their operations properly and be prepared to work with an attorney. 

    Non-profit journalism has the potential to address public information needs that are simply not profitable for a for-profit news organization to cover -- and there is no better time to launch resources intended to help bring information of public importance to light than the beginning of Sunshine Week. And at 1 p.m. Eastern on April 10, 2014, the DMLP will be holding a one-hour online session open to the public where you can ask questions about these resources and the application process; connection details will be posted on the DMLP homepage on April 10, so be sure to come back then.

    The Digital Media Law Project is based at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. The DMLP produces a wide range of legal resources for independent online journalism projects and media ventures, including its multistate Legal Guide and topic-specific resources developed to respond to breaking legal issues affecting online speech.

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              Cato libertarians take a step to the left        
    The Cato Institute is a leading libertarian organisation in the U.S. The Institute recently published a significant article about race. It's fascinating to read because it shows the logic of how left-liberalism developed out of classical/right-liberalism.

    But I need to quickly set the scene for this. All forms of liberalism begin with the idea that what matters is a freedom of the individual to be autonomous: to have the liberty to choose to be or to do whatever, as long as it does not limit a similar liberty for others to choose to be or to do whatever.

    But this raises the question of how a society of atomised, autonomous individuals each seeking their own subjective good can be successfully regulated. Although there is no single answer given by liberals, the dominant form of liberalism in the mid-1800s, classical liberalism, emphasised the idea that the market could best regulate society. Millions of individuals could participate in the free market, each seeking their own profit, but the hidden hand of the market would ensure that the larger outcome was a positive one for society.

    So what went wrong? The classical liberals would say that as long as everyone had an equal opportunity to participate in the market, then everyone had an equal human dignity as an autonomous individual.

    But in the later 1800s this was queried. If I am poor and uneducated do I really have the same opportunity in the market as someone who is born to private schools and so on? The new liberals thought that there needed to be a greater role for government intervention to overcome institutional disadvantage.

    And so the modern left emerged. For decades there has been a right-liberal party which emphasises markets (Republicans, Tories etc.) and a left-liberal one which emphasises government programs to overcome inequality (Democrats, Labour etc.). Libertarians have mostly been purist right-liberal types, pushing for limited government, markets, and liberty understood as individual autonomy.

    So it is no surprise that the Cato Institute piece on race begins as follows:
    Libertarians tend to think of freedom as either a means to an end of maximum utility—e.g., free markets produce the most wealth—or, in a more philosophical sense, in opposition to arbitrary authority—e.g., “Who are you to tell me what to do?” Both views fuel good arguments for less government and more personal autonomy.

    That's exactly what you would expect from someone on the liberal right. Autonomy, free markets, limited government, freedom. But look at what happens next:
    Yet neither separately, nor both taken together, address the impediments to freedom that have plagued the United States since its founding. Many of the oppressions America has foisted upon its citizens, particularly its black citizens, indeed came from government actors and agents. But a large number of offenses, from petty indignities to incidents of unspeakable violence, have been perpetrated by private individuals, or by government with full approval of its white citizens.

    You can tell what this is leading up to. It's leading up to the left-liberal idea that there are institutional, systemic barriers to equal participation. That disparities in outcomes are to be explained in terms of institutional oppression, racism and systemic discrimination. And that's exactly where the Cato writer goes:
    Take, for example, the common libertarian/conservative trope: “We believe in equal opportunity, not equal outcomes.” Most people, outside of the few and most ardent socialists, should believe that is a fair statement. But to say such a thing as a general defense of the status quo assumes that the current American system offers roughly equal opportunity just because Jim Crow is dead. Yet, that cannot possibly be true.

    Think of the phrase “Don’t go there, it’s a bad neighborhood.” Now, sometimes that neighborhood is just a little run down, doesn’t have the best houses, doesn’t have the best shopping nearby, or feeds a mediocre school. But, more often, that neighborhood is very poor, lacks decent public infrastructure, suffers from high unemployment, has the worst schools, and is prone to gang or other violence. And, in many cities—in both North and South—that neighborhood is almost entirely populated by minorities.

    There are only two conclusions possible when facing the very real prospect that thousands or millions of Americans live in areas you warn your friends not to go, even by accident: Either everyone in those areas is a criminal, or is content to live among and be victimized by criminals; or there is some number of people, and probably a large one, trapped in living conditions that cannot help but greatly inhibit their opportunities for success and advancement.

    He goes on at length about racism and white supremacy and how the Federal Government has helped to overcome this more than markets have. He stops a short of endorsing big government solutions, but you can see how the logic of his argument prepares the ground for this.

    The mainstream left and right are not so different from each other. They both exist within the same philosophical framework, sharing the same assumptions about what human life is for. Mainstream leftism is an attempt to perfect the liberalism that came before it, to realize it in a more equitable and consistent way.

    The challenge for those who dislike what the modern West has become is to step outside of the liberal framework entirely - to be neither of the left nor of the classical liberal/libertarian right.
              Liberalism, secular religion, vulnerability        
    There is a terrific review of a new book on liberalism over at First Things. The book is by a Polish philosopher named Ryszard Legutko, who was a dissident under the communist government and who believes that communism and liberalism share a similar secular religious framework.

    The review, by Adrian Vermeule, is difficult to improve on, so I will limit myself to some commentary on one of the key points raised and then encourage you to go and read the whole thing yourselves.

    What I found most interesting was the discussion of some contradictions within liberalism. For instance, liberalism emphasises both a materialist determinism (i.e. everything we do is predetermined by forces of history, genetics etc.) and a belief in the radically autonomous individual, including the idea that individuals, absent certain social conditions, will use this autonomous freedom to choose the good. How can you have a radically self-determining individual if you believe that everything is materially predetermined? One part of liberal philosophy insists that the individual is radically predetermined, the other that he only has dignity if he is radically self-determined.

    The most interesting contradiction discussed, and one that is complained about all the time in alt-right discussions on social media, is why liberals seem uninterested in seriously illiberal policies in places like Saudi Arabia but come down heavily on mildly illiberal policies in places like Hungary. I think the answer given by Legutko, as summarised by Vermeule, is very interesting:
    Why do Western liberal academics and EU technocrats object so stridently to the mild illiberalism of the Fidesz parliamentary party in Hungary, while saying little or nothing about Saudi Arabia and other monarchical or authoritarian nations, nominal allies of the West, who routinely control, punish, and dominate women, gays, and religious dissenters? Why are the EU technocrats, whose forte is supposed to be competence, so very bumbling, making policy mistake after policy mistake? How is it possible that while the sitting president of the United States squarely opposed same-sex marriage just a few years ago, the liberal intellectuals who supported him passionately also condemn any opposition to same-sex marriage as bigotry, rooted in cultural backwardness? Why was the triumph of same-sex marriage followed so rapidly by the opening of a new regulatory and juridical frontier, the recognition of transgender identity?

    Legutko helps us understand these oddities. We have to start by understanding that liberalism has a sacramental character. “The liberal-democratic mind, just as the mind of any true communist, feels an inner compulsion to manifest its pious loyalty to the doctrine. Public life is full of mandatory rituals in which every politician, artist, writer, celebrity, teacher or any public figure is willing to participate, all to prove that their liberal-democratic creed springs spontaneously from the depths of their hearts.” The basic liturgy of liberalism is the Festival of Reason, which in 1793 placed a Goddess of Reason (who may or may not have been a prostitute conscripted for the occasion, in one of the mocking double entendres of Providence) on the holy altar in the Church of Our Lady in Paris. The more the Enlightenment rejects the sacramental, the more compulsively it re-enacts its founding Festival, the dawning of rationality.

    Light is defined by contrast, however, so the Festival requires that the children of light spy out and crush the forces of darkness, who appear in ever-changing guises, before the celebration can be renewed. The essential components of the Festival are twofold: the irreversibility of Progress and the victory over the Enemy, the forces of reaction. Taken in combination, these commitments give liberalism its restless and aggressive dynamism, and help to make sense of the anomalies. Fidesz in Hungary is more threatening than the Saudi monarchy, even though the latter is far less liberal, because Fidesz represents a retrogression—a deliberate rejection of liberalism by a nation that was previously a member in good standing of the liberal order. The Hungarians, and for that matter the Poles, are apostates, unlike the benighted Saudis, who are simple heretics. What is absolutely essential is that the clock of Progress should never be turned back. The problem is not just that it might become a precedent and encourage reactionaries on other fronts. The deeper issue is that it would deny the fundamental eschatology of liberalism, in which the movement of History may only go in one direction. It follows that Brexit must be delayed or defeated at all costs, through litigation or the action of an unelected House of Lords if necessary, and that the Trump administration must be cast as a temporary anomaly, brought to power by voters whose minds were clouded by racism and economic pain. (It is therefore impossible to acknowledge that such voters might have legitimate cultural grievances or even philosophical objections to liberalism.)

    The puzzle of the EU technocrats, on this account, is no puzzle at all. They are so error-prone, even from a technocratic point of view, at least in part because they are actually engaged in a non-technocratic enterprise that is pervasively ideological, in the same way that Soviet science was ideological. Their prime directive is to protect and expand the domain of liberalism, whether or not that makes for technical efficiency.

    Liberalism needs an enemy to maintain its sacramental dynamism. It can never rest in calm waters, basking in the day of victory; it is essential that at any given moment there should be a new battle to be fought. The good liberal should always be able to say, “We have made progress, but there is still much to do.” This is why the triumph of same-sex marriage actually happened too suddenly and too completely. Something else was needed to animate liberalism, and transgenderism has quickly filled the gap, defining new forces of reaction and thus enabling new iterations and celebrations of the Festival. And if endorsement and approval of self-described “gender identity” becomes a widely shared legal and social norm, a new frontier will be opened, and some new issue will move to the top of the public agenda, something that now seems utterly outlandish and is guaranteed to provoke fresh opposition from the cruel forces of reaction—polygamy, perhaps, or mandatory vegetarianism.

    If this is true, then it gives liberalism both a strength and a weakness. The strength is that people hold to liberal beliefs like a religion, and therefore as a source of meaning that is difficult to step away from. The weakness is that the force of the religious belief depends on an "eschatology" in which there is always a progress toward an ever more radical application of liberalism in society. Therefore, once liberalism is forced back it is vulnerable to collapse. In other words, if liberalism is seen to be obviously stopped, and some aspect of traditionalism restored, it is likely to trigger a psychological demoralisation amongst liberalism's adherents.

    Liberalism needs opposition, it needs a force of reaction to battle against, but it needs to always win.

    So we must not be content with being "house traditionalists" who exist merely to play a role within "the liturgy of liberalism." We need to be serious about building to the point that we are obviously regaining ground. At that point, liberals become vulnerable to psychological confusion and demoralisation. There may not be great depths of resistance once they lose a sense of inevitable progress.
              Tea Party 101        

    Heather,

    If I didn't respond, I apologize. I'm just coming off of an intensive political campaign. I'm just now returning to normal life activities like laundry, grocery shopping, getting to the salon, seeing friends, etc. For about 1 month, I was waking up every 2 hours to check email at night. I wasn't able to respond to all comments.

    Sometimes, I think it would be helpful to do a Tea Party 101 post with the history and organization of the movement.

    There is no such thing as Official Tea Party (TM) like there is a Democratic National Party or the Republican Party.

    Some grassroots members have organized after starting rallies and events in their hometowns. Following the 2008 election, conservatives were able to largely take over Twitter using the #tcot hashtag. From there, conservatives organized events around the country and it took off.

    Please note that most of these events were in reaction to Republican votes. Most conservatives were upset at the 2008 results, but even more angry that Republicans voted for TARP.

    Groups like Tea Party Patriots and Tea Party Express have been successful in fundraising and organizing, but they are only part of the movement. Not every tea party chapter is affliated with any national movement. Some choose to be. Some aren't.

    There's no clear leadership. No top-down government. And the movement wants it to stay that way.

    I've never said that there wasn't racism, but it is a very small percentage.

    My emphatic response was that this is not a theme we can allow to progress. When racism does occur at Tea Parties (I've never personally seen it), people react and shut those people up.

    This is the media focusing on a subject that they don't understand. Most of it is hyperbole.

    As noted earlier, for every "sign" of racism, I can give you evidence of death threats, Nazi propaganda from the left. And this is personal. I've been the target of a lot of hate mail and have been called Nazi/Brownshirt/Fascist more times than can be counted.

    Neither side has clean hands here.

    As to your comment on voting, really? With 10% unemployment, it seems pretty easy to get to the polls on election day.

    Furthermore, if your state doesn't have early voting, you can request an absentee ballot if you know that you won't be able to go vote.

    Most polls are open from 6 a.m. to at least 7 or 8 p.m. If asked, employers are supposed to let you off to vote.

    I've worked in retail, I've worked for the government, I've worked for nonprofits of all stripes and I've worked in the private sector in TWO different states.

    Never had a problem voting.

    Aside from laziness, there is absolutely no excuse to not vote.

    Keep trying...

    Adrienne works in the conservative movement and blogs at Cosmopolitan Conservative.


              Karen Has Her Point        

    Adrienne,

    Perhaps when you are visiting the public protests they do not overtly carry the "I Am Racist" signs, but my Mom hears it day and night from her co-workers in her red state. Racism is alive and well and it can influence people's politics.

    Adrienne you mentioned "The tea party is a large, unorganized group of people."

    How is this true? They clearly were proud to be carrying the title of "Tea Party" during the last elections. I don't hear "Independent" or "Green" like I hear about the "Tea Party". They have an influence and like Karen says it is a strand within the party, not the party platform itself.

    In your recent posts you had wanted specific points to discuss. I named them and never heard back from you. Please respond to people when they act on that request.

    You are right, it isn't fair to generalize people but I believe we are seeing a huge generation gap in our government's representation.

    Democrats tend to have a difficult time paying attention to politics and getting to the voting booths because of the restrictive corporate-friendly schedules Republicans have laid out for us.

    Heather blogs about Motherhood & Other Offensive Situations at http://www.ultimateoutcasts.com.


     


              JD (U) protests against PM Narendra Modi in Patna        

    Patna: The Janata Dal (United) workers staged a protest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi here on Sunday and blamed him for the political instability in Bihar.

    The protestors raised slogans against Prime Minister Modi and also burnt his effigy.

    "India is a democratic country, and anyone who attacks democracy will meet the same end [burnt down like effigy]," said Ghulam Rasool Balyavi of the JD (U).

    "There is no place in Bihar for the murderers of democracy," he added.

    Former Bihar chief minister and senior JD (U) leader Nitish Kumar had earlier accused Prime Minister Modi and the BJP of 'attempting to throttle democracy'.

    Kumar also alleged that the Bihar Governor's decision to ask Manjhi to prove his majority in the state assembly on February 20 has been scripted in Delhi and is designed to 'allow horse-trading of MLAs'.

    Kumar, who is engaged in an intense tussle with Jitan Ram Manjhi - the man he picked nine months ago to be the chief minister when he resigned after his party's defeat in the Lok Sabha polls -, had earlier this week met President Pranab Mukherjee to convey the support of 130 MLAs.

    Kumar, who was accompanied by JD (U) chief Sharad Yadav and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) supremo leader Lalu Prasad Yadav, took the 130 MLAs to the Rashtrapati Bhavan to show that he enjoys majority support in the Bihar Assembly.  

    Section: 
    Yes
    News Source: 

              Monarchy in the age of New Labour        


    Peter Hitchens:


    "...Anyone who tries to discuss the political role of the monarchy is immediately banged over the head by tedious quotations from Walter Bagehot (it helps a lot if you know this is pronounced Badjot), who for some reason is believed to be the last word on the subject, thanks to some 19th-century scribblings that have become famous. He limited the functions of the monarch to muttering hesitant advice, and perhaps warnings, into the ears of ministers. This is taken as a sort of gospel on the subject.

    And this might have worked in the dead era when the British establishment was run by gentlemen. Though don't be so sure. George V exerted all his influence to obtain a peaceful settlement in Ireland in 1921, which few can object to, but was he entitled to do so? He may well have gone beyond his powers in helping set up the National Government of 1931. Edward VIII came close to causing complete constitutional catastrophe. George VI utterly disgraced himself when he publicly lauded Neville Chamberlain's catastrophic surrender at Munich in 1938, an error he atoned for later but which oughtn't to be overlooked, ever. It is not often enough remembered that George VI and his Queen (the future Queen Mother) invited Chamberlain on to the balcony of Buckingham Palace to bathe in the cheers and admiration of a gigantic, deluded crowd, the whole embarrassing scene illuminated by the only anti-aircraft searchlights then available in London.

    There are a couple of interesting fictional reflections on this that are worth looking at. George Macdonald Fraser's 'Mr American', one of his few non-Flashman books, contains an well-observed and historically well-informed depiction of Edward VII and examines the cunning and shrewdness that monarch used to keep pre-1914 Britain from flying apart. Constantine Fitz Gibbon's enjoyable and bitter Cold War thriller 'When the Kissing Had to Stop’ has some cunningly-described scenes as various highly responsible and senior persons try to use the traditional safeguards of the British constitution to prevent a pretty obvious coup d'etat. In an entirely believable way, they all persuade themselves that they are powerless to act until it is too late, and the putsch, with all its terrible consequences, succeeds.

    Princecharles_1 Why does this matter? I think our obsession with 'democracy' as the only thing that makes government legitimate tends to blind us to the importance of other things. Why do we make such a fetish out of universal suffrage? If you had a choice between liberty and democracy - which are by no means the same thing, which would you pick? If you had a choice between the rule of public opinion and the rule of law, which would you pick? Are we safer with both Houses of Parliament 'elected' by party machines, or with at least one House whose members are immune from 'democratic' party pressure?

    Actually, pure democracy would be unbearable, since every politician, to survive or prosper, would have to be a crowd-pleasing Blair type (actually, this now seems to be more and more what we have got).

    Even assuming that we could reconstruct something like a decent education system, it is hard to see how a state governed purely by the popular will could be anything other than a corrupt anarchy, or a demagogic dictatorship. The purest product of mass democracy since it came into being was Adolf Hitler - whose National Socialists would have won an absolute majority in the Reichstag under our first-past-the post system, by the way. This isn't an argument against that system( which I favour) just a warning against being complacent.

    Mass opinion can prevent good actions, as well as stimulating bad ones. It was American democracy, and the fervent campaigns of the America Firsters, that prevented Franklin Roosevelt from aiding Britain against Hitler. US public opinion was dead against involvement in a European war, and it's still not clear what would have happened if Hitler hadn't declared war on the USA after Pearl Harbor.

    So most serious wielders of power in democratic states devise ways of frustrating, or getting round the 'people's will' which they praise in public. Mostly, these days, these anti-democrats are of the left. In the US, a largely liberal elite has for decades been using the unelected third chamber of Congress - the Supreme Court - to pass radical social legislation. In Canada, left-wingers who could never get anywhere in parliamentary politics have exploited the 'Charter of Rights and Freedoms' to do the same sort of thing.

    And the European Convention on Human Rights gives liberal judges and the lawyers the same power to intervene here. The balance of our mixed constitution, partly as a result of this, has tipped heavily towards the Left. Parliament, especially the House of Commons, is now the servant of a left-wing governing party, not at all its master. So who or what can speak for tradition, for conservative opinions, for private life and family, for inheritance and continuity? Certainly not the Tory Party, which flatly refused to defend the hereditary principle against the attacks of Baroness Jay (who just happened to be the daughter of Jim Callaghan, and had no other visible qualification for her grand post as Leader of the Lords, in one of the best jokes of the 1990s).

    That Tory failure to defend heredity was a warning to the British people and the monarchy that worse was to come. We all actually value inheritance - we expect to leave, or be left our goods and wealth in legally enforceable wills. We all know that we inherit important characteristics and gifts from our parents, and hope to pass such things on. Our state, with its memory and experience stretching back a thousand years, inherits each generation the principles of law and justice and liberty wrought by centuries of experience and combat. So what is wrong with a Head of State who embodies this idea?

    Nothing, except that he or she gets in the way of the Left's desire for total control over the state, especially over the things previously regarded as politically neutral and so loyal to the crown - the civil service, the armed forces and the police. All these bodies are now increasingly politicised. I think that the moment is approaching when the monarchy has either to assert itself or be abolished. The danger is that, in asserting itself, it may get abolished as a punishment, while being slandered as unrepresentative, elitist etc. It will be a very difficult and risky moment..."


               Religion and the Democratic National Convention        

    Faith outreach, faith communities, faith councils, faith coalitions, and faith issues were all on display in Charlotte as Democrats tried to mobilize voters “around the values that are exemplified by the president.” More

    The post Religion and the Democratic National Convention appeared first on Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.


              STOP ACTA        
    In short, just email anything inbetween TV-stations, newspapers ANYTHING among those lines that have failed to bring light onto this, and tell them why this is all HORRIBLY wrong and DANGEROUS! This is NOT democracy, this is something you do in China and North Korea, NOT The United Kingdom, Swede, the United States or any other so-called democratic country. ACTA is NOT for just Europe, NOT for just the Americas, its for EVERYONE! And the quickest thing you can do is to sign this petition: Avaaz.org Now before you say "But I dont want to give away my adress/name/etc, you do NOT have to! you can just sign it with your email, and then your firstname (Or even online-name!) and leave the postal-adress empty, it still works! AND, this does not affect the website-owners anymore, this directly affects ANY and ALL end-users, and an end-user, that is YOU. This is NOT democracy, this is corruption! (Copied from AtlasTasume's Profile)
              College Student Gets 100 Days In Jail For Registering Dead Voters As Democrats        
    It sounds like Spieles had all the right "special talents" required to be a very successful politician. He just forgot the most important rule: Don't get caught.
              HOW TO IMPROVE VIRTUAL SCHOOLS         



    Today I want to shift my attention from MOOCs to another promising form of online education, virtual schools. I have some personal experience with these, as my son is a graduate of one - PA Cyber in Pennsylvania. 




    Houston C. Tucker, over at E-learning Industry, proposes three ways to improve virtual schools: treat the students as honored guests, stay flexible, and train your virtual teachers to deliver every instructional message with as much love and care as they can muster. These ideas are sound, and I wanted to think about them in relation to the virtual school I knew at first hand.

    So let me say up front I am a big supporter of virtual schools. They fit the special needs of come young people and their families. As a pluralist, I oppose all one-size-fits-all policies. (Of course this does not mean I support just any virtual schools - only the good ones).

    Some may counter idea by saying that that young people are NOT guests in school but instead are there - by force if necessary - to be subjected to some important lessons - whether algebra or democratic values or whatever.

    There is no credible evidence that high school students cannot learn algebra on line as well as in a conventional classroom. Further, no one can learn democratic values in a compulsory, prison-like institution. The whole institutional message is passivity, docility, obedience. One reason I like virtual schools is because in the home environment parents can zero out a lot of those messages.

    My son Sjoma attended PA Cyber. It did a great job on #1 - it treated its students with great respect, providing lots of course choices and formal academic mentoring. But is t also was demanding. When he fell behind his mentor called him - and then us - and demanded that Sjoma show up at the learning center for faced-to-face academic counseling. Between his mentor and his counselor he got back on track. 


    It also had an excellent college-study program - students could begin to take in-person or online college courses as soon as they were ready. So it got an A+ on flexibility -- until the commonwealth of PA came in and dictated that virtual schools, unlike their conventional counterparts - could not offer college study programs. So in this case PA got a flat F. 

    Unlike many virtual schools, PA Cyber offered no courses of their own - all were outsourced to educational provider firms. Some teachers were better than others, but I doubt that all content messages were delivered with maximum love. On the other hand, none of the teachers was cruel or incompetent - market logic pretty much took care of that - for better or worse - by provider firms hiring their teachers on a contingent basis and eliminating those low on the star system.

    And of course there are many problems about that, but so far as i could tell they did not include low quality teaching or teachers not well-adjusted to the online context.


    The obvious question is whether the states could provide virtual colleges - let's say PA-Cyber College in Pennsylvania - for free or at a very low cost, using MOOCs as the backbone?  This would be one concrete step to ending the student debt problem.
              Bees, Pesticides and the Corporate Mind: an interview with Tom Theobald        

    Tom Theobald was largely responsible for exposing the fact that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had licensed Bayer's systemic insecticide Clothianidin, against evidence that it was highly toxic to bees, and that the research used to back the application for licensing was poorly designed and executed.

    FInd out more here - http://www.bouldercountybeekeepers.org

    It turns out that Tom and I actually have a couple of things in common, and our discussion covers not only pesticides and bees, but also the corporate mind and the democratic process.

    A reminder that you can be a part of this podcast by leaving a message on my voicemail, if you have a question for me, or something you would just like to say on air.

    If you are in the UK the number is  0203 239 1643, if you are anywhere else add your outgoing international number, then country code 44 and strip the first zero - 44 203 239 1643  You can also use my Skype account to leave me a message, which is 'beesontoast'. That's bees - not beans.

    If you prefer to email me, by all means do so - send your message to phil@biobees.com, but please bear in mind that I get a LOT of emails and it may take me a while to get to yours.

    If you have a general beekeeping question, please remember the natural beekeeping forum at naturalbeekeeping.org, where you will find over 4,000 beekeepers, some of whom may even be in your area.




              CAN MOOCS DEMOCRATISE HIGHER EDUCATION?         
    CAN MOOCS DEMOCRATISE HIGHER EDUCATION? 
    Peter Sloep says "No". I find his argument unconvincing. 


    Sloep argues that third world higher education will shift from their own native universities to MOOC Learning Centers conveying contents from the West, shaped by corporate, rather than individual or public, interests.

    There are two problems with his argument. 


    First, there is no evidence provided that universities in developing countries are closing down - the key to Sloep's argument. Instead, many international students are supplementing their native educations with MOOCs, while many others are using them for continuing professional education - and some without access to existing agencies of higher education are using them to educate themselves. So the leading premise of Sloep's case seems false.

    Second, Sloep ignores the corporate capture of conventional institutions of higher education. There is a huge literature on the topic Sheila Slaughter introduced a couple of decades ago under the rubric "Academic Capitalism". The idea that universities, even state operated universities, are run in the interests of their individual students, the public interest or the interests of the liberal state, has been entirely debunked with data across many countries. Slaughter and her co-workers have shown that on many dimensions of education, and across all classes of participants in universities, corporate interests now dominate and universities as organizations are mimicking corporate behaviors. The Idea that MOOCs represent a shift from the professional and scholar- run agencies to those of corporations serving their own narrow interests is as a result a non-starter.

    Besides, new MOOC platforms such as MOOC.org provide all individuals and groups with the technical means to mount any courses they wish. Aggregation sites like open culture  are making MOOCs on all platforms readily accessible globally. No one platform - indeed, no one MOOC format - will dominate.


    MOOCs as an institutional innovation are in the earliest stages of their development, and no one can predict how they will play out - there are simply too many causal forces at work. The democratising force of MOOCs is yet unknown. 

    But one possibility is the exact reverse of what Sloep predicts - groups of scholars joining to provide a 'counter-education' to the one shaped in corporate interests - that is, an education shaped by communities of scholars and not by universities operating in the academic capitalist mode. The costs of entry will be low, and certifying agencies like ACE will lose all credibility if they discriminate against these MOOCs in favor of the corporate-dominated ones.
              Qual felino é o melhor caçador?        

    O leopardo é o que tem a tática de caça mais sofisticada, mas o guepardo é mais veloz, o leão ataca em grupo, o tigre abate presas maiores e a onça-pintada tem a dentada mais violenta. Ou seja, as cinco principais espécies de felinos dividem democraticamente a vantagem nas principais características de caça.

    Todos eles são carnívoros e muitas vezes disputam as mesmas presas. “Mas essas semelhanças não são suficientes para comparar e avaliar se uma espécie de felino caça melhor que outra”, diz o biólogo Rogério de Paula, do Centro Nacional de Pesquisas para Conservação dos Predadores Naturais. “A sobrevivência da espécie ao longo do tempo, sim, é um forte indício de que o estilo de caça é eficiente”, completa Rogério.

    CLUBE DOS CINCO

    Apesar de menores, leopardo e guepardo não fazem feio



    O MAIS AGRESSIVO: ONÇA-PINTADA

    Principais presas: Capivara, queixada, veado,anta, tatu, tartaruga, jacaré etc.
    As pintas - ou rosetas - servem como camuflagem na hora da caçada. Os grossos dentes caninos não se quebram ao morder ossos ou cascos e os músculos da mandíbula tornam a mordida uma das mais poderosas O maior felino das Américas quase sempre ataca metendo os dentes caninos no crânio ou no pescoço das presas. Isso permite que a onça se alimente de animais literalmente casca-grossa, como tatus e tartarugas, e de “cabeças-duras”, como búfalos.



    O MAIS “ESPERTO”: LEOPARDO


    Principais presas: Antílopes de médio porte
    A estrutura muscular reforçada, principalmente nas patas dianteiras, permite que o leopardo carregue presas com até o triplo de seu próprio peso para alturas superiores a 10 metros. Por ser um felino de médio porte, o leopardo compensa a menor força na mandíbula com muita agilidade. Depois de sufocar a presa com uma mordida na garganta, ele a leva para o alto de árvores, evitando que outros predadores roubem o alimento.



    O MAIS SOCIÁVEL: LEÃO


    Principais presas: Zebra, gnu, entre outros mamíferos com casco
    Os leões contam com a grande juba para parecer maiores do que realmente são e impor respeito a outros animais. As leoas têm grande força muscular para derrubar animais de grande porte O “rei da selva” vive em grupos de até 30 indivíduos, formados por poucos machos adultos, que protegem várias fêmeas e filhotes. Na hora da caça, rola um trabalho coletivo: as leoas se juntam, cercam a presa e a abatem. Os machos adultos não participam do ataque, mas são os primeiros a comer.



    O MAIS COMILÃO: TIGRE


    Principais presas: Veado, javali e até búfalo
    Além do grande porte e da força nas patas - características comuns a leões e onças, que ajudam na hora de derrubar presas grandes -, os tigres têm as listras para ajudar na camuflagem O maior dos felinos, com até 3 metros de comprimento (sem contar o rabo de 1 metro) e 300 quilos de peso, pode abater búfalos de até 1 tonelada. Como aperitivo, chega a mandar até 40 quilos de comida para o bucho logo depois da caça só para matar a fome mais urgente.



    O MAIS VELOZ: GUEPARDO

    Principal presa: Gazela

    Garras não retráteis ajudam na arrancada, o corpo esguio e a coluna vertebral mais flexível auxiliam na aerodinâmica e aumento da velocidade, e o rabo comprido dá estabilidade para manobras velozes Por não ter corpo e mordida tão fortes, o guepardo se garante na velocidade, superando os 110 km/h. Depois de percorrer 500 metros em velocidade máxima, porém, o bichano fica tão cansado que pode acabar virando presa.


              Republican Party In Palm Beach Lauds GOP Anti-Environmental Crusader ... by gimleteye        

    Alfie Fanjul (l) and Pepe Fanjul (r), top Palm Beach County Republican donor. The brothers head a billionaire dollar empire carved out of federal subsidies and corporate welfare programs protecting Big Sugar, the primary polluter of Everglades wetlands

    The Republican Party of Palm Beach County has invited James O'Keefe to be its keynote speaker at its mid-summer event.

    A press release describes O'Keefe as "an award winning journalist". In fact, he is better known as a right-wing activist who infiltrated ACORN and an office of Planned Parenthood and also invites legal action against himself.

    In 2010, O'Keefe was convicted of breaking into the offices of Sen. Marie Landrieu:

    Conservative filmmaker James O’Keefe was sentenced to three years of probation, 100 hours of community service and a $1,500 fine after he pleaded guilty on Wednesday to misdemeanor charges stemming from his involvement in a break-in at Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-La.) office. In January, O’Keefe and three others were arrested by federal authorities at Landrieu’s office on allegations of phone-tampering. Prosecutors initially said they caught four individuals in the process of committing a felony, but the charges were later reduced to misdemeanors."

    O'Keefe and the Florida GOP meant to time his visit to Palm Beach County -- where virulent anti-environmentalism is coordinated through the Fanjul & US Sugar Corporation cartel -- with revelations of his incursion into the League Of Conservation Voters; an attack rebuffed yesterday by LCV with the California Attorney General.

    The local GOP press release crows, "O’Keefe was ultimately credited with having a significant impact on the 2016 presidential elections for his October Surprise video series."

    In "Has James O’Keefe Accidentally Stung Himself Again?", New Yorker writer Jane Mayer -- who chronicled influence peddling of the nation's largest polluters in "Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right" -- writes:
    In the latest chapter of his strange career, the League of Conservation Voters, a national environmental-advocacy group, has filed a complaint against three individuals who infiltrated its operations, at least two of whom, the group alleges, “could be associated with” O’Keefe and have past ties to him. The group’s leaders recently began to suspect that they were being scammed, and decided to go to the authorities before O’Keefe or his alleged associates released any material on their own.
    The timing of the Florida GOP conspiracy with O'Keefe occurs within context of a massive erosion of environmental rules and regulations by the Trump White House.

    It is the identical strategy Florida polluters are planning to blend into the important 2018 political races where Big Sugar's main apologist, Agriculture Secretary Adam Putnam, is poised to be the GOP candidate to replace Gov. Rick Scott.

    Scott, who counts on campaign financial support from Big Sugar, will likely aim for the senate seat held by incumbent Democratic Bill Nelson.

    Overshadowing Florida's nasty, anti-people and anti-environmental politics is a recent report by federal scientists to the Trump administration calling climate change a greater, current threat to economic and national security than earlier estimates. According to the New York Times:
    The average temperature in the United States has risen rapidly and drastically since 1980, and recent decades have been the warmest of the past 1,500 years, according to a sweeping federal climate change report awaiting approval by the Trump administration. The draft report by scientists from 13 federal agencies concludes that Americans are feeling the effects of climate change right now. It directly contradicts claims by President Trump and members of his cabinet who say that the human contribution to climate change is uncertain, and that the ability to predict the effects is limited.
    The Trump White House has not released or commented on the report and was hoping, perhaps, that a titillating "explosive" revelation against LCV would help its cause in climate change denial.

    Governor Rick Scott has prohibited state agencies and staff from using the words, "climate change", although Florida's economy, real estate and tax base is most vulnerable to its impacts in the nation. Recently, the US Department of Agriculture ordered "climate change" to be similarly deleted from its communications.

    In the New Yorker report, Mayer contacted O'Keefe for comment. He responded:
    “I don’t comment on investigations real or imagined, or work with mainstream reporters who operate in bad faith,” he told me. In 2016, I wrote an article for this magazine about O’Keefe’s bungled attempt to sting George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, a liberal nonprofit group that O’Keefe had targeted.

    O'Keefe, in his role feeding the beast of disinformation through channels like Fox News, Breitbart, Infowars and Rush Limbauch, will dine on lobster tails at the Palm Beach GOP anti-environmental love-fest at the Polo Club of Boca Raton, 5400 Champion Boulevard, Boca Raton at 6:30PM on August 17.

              Tracking Russian Propaganda In Real Time ... Kevin Rothrock for Meduza        
    NEWS
    Tracking Russian propaganda in real time The trouble with a new automated effort to expose Moscow's ‘active measures’ against Americans
     Meduza  04:31, 03 августа 2017 
    Pixabay edited by Meduza
    On August 2, The German Marshall Fund of the United States unveiled a new online tool — a “dashboard” — designed to “provide a near real-time look at Russian propaganda and disinformation efforts” on Twitter. The organization describes the project as a direct response to Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, noting that “many have warned Putin will be back in 2018 and 2020.” In an opinion piece for Meduza, Kevin Rothrock reviews the recent history of American efforts to unmask Russian propaganda, and takes a critical look at potential flaws in this latest online resource.

    What was PropOrNot?

    Last November, The Washington Post published a remarkable article about how a “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’” during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, citing a report by “experts” at an anonymous website called PropOrNot.
    After initial excitement about the story, the newspaper came under fire for promoting unverified allegations against alternative American news outlets. Critics called PropOrNot a “McCarthyite blacklist.” To PropOrNot, merely “exhibiting a pattern of beliefs outside the political mainstream” was “enough to risk being labelled a Russian propagandist,” Adrian Chen wrote in The New Yorker.
    Simply put, PropOrNot bungled its mission completely. On the one hand, the anonymity of the website’s managers invited suspicions about their expertise and agenda. On the other hand, PropOrNot was so transparent about its methodology (talking openly about “red-flagging Russian propaganda outlets” and of course naming specific websites) that it was easy to dispute and dismiss the blacklist. Add to this PropOrNot’s childish, sometimes obscene behavior on Twitter, and it’s no mystery how this project ended up a humiliating dumpster fire.

    What is the Hamilton 68 dashboard?

    Hamilton 68: A Dashboard Tracking Russian Propaganda on Twitter
    The Alliance for Securing Democracy / The German Marshall Fund of the United States
    Researchers at The Alliance for Securing Democracy, an initiative housed at The German Marshall Fund of the United States, say they’ve been observing and monitoring â€œRussian online influence” for three years, so it’s a good bet that they took notice of PropOrNot’s spectacular failure, while developing the “Hamilton 68 Dashboard,” released on August 2.
    According to The German Marshall Fund, the “dashboard” is designed to “shed light on Russian propaganda efforts on Twitter in near-real time.” The “Hamilton 68” website offers a dozen automatically-updated columns tracking “trending hashtags,” “trending topics,” “top domains,” “top URLs,” and so on.
    “Our analysis is based on 600 Twitter accounts linked to Russian influence activities online,” Laura Rosenberger (a senior fellow at the alliance) and J.M. Berger (a non-resident fellow) wrote in a blog post on August 2.

    How does Hamilton 68 differ from PropOrNot?

    Hamilton 68’s propaganda list is a secret. Unlike PropOrNot, Hamilton 68 does not disclose the identities of the 600 Twitter accounts. All we know of the project’s methodology is that its researchers selected 600 Twitter accounts according to three types (whether there are 200 accounts for each type is unclear): “accounts that clearly state they are pro-Russian or affiliated with the Russian government”; â€œaccounts (including both bots and humans) that are run by troll factories in Russia and elsewhere”; and “accounts run by people around the world who amplify pro-Russian themes either knowingly or unknowingly, after being influenced by the efforts described above.”
    The German Marshall Fund says it refuses to reveal the specific accounts in its dataset because it “prefers to focus on the behavior of the overall network rather than get dragged into hundreds of individual debates over which troll fits which role.”
    The lack of methodological clarity (for the sake of avoiding “debates”) has already led to some misleading coverage in the media, with outlets like Business Insider reporting that “Hamilton 68 is now working to expose those trolls — as well as automated bots and human accounts — whose main use for Twitter appears to be an amplification of pro-Russia themes,” despite the fact that the website doesn’t actually reveal the names of any Twitter accounts.
    For people unimpressed by talk of “600 Twitter accounts,” J.M. Berger told Ars Technica that his team could have expanded the dashboard to “6,000 almost as easily, but the analysis would be less close to real-time.” If that doesn’t sound scientific enough, Berger also emphasized that the 600 selected accounts were identified with a “98-percent confidence rate.”
    The German Marshall Fund is no ragtag bunch. Unlike the anonymous potty mouths who launched PropOrNot, Hamilton 68 sports some impressive talent. The project is reportedly the brainchild of Clint Watts, a “former FBI special agent-turned disinformation expert,” who worked alongside J.M. Berger, a fellow with the International Center for Counterterrorism studying extremism and propaganda on social media; Andrew Weisburd, a fellow at the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security; Jonathon Morgan, the CEO of New Knowledge AI and head of Data for Democracy; and Laura Rosenberger, the director of the German Marshall Fund's ‎Alliance for Securing Democracy.
    The Alliance for Securing Democracy has a hell of a mission statement. It begins simply, “In 2016, American democracy came under unprecedented attack,” before outlining the organization’s commitment to “documenting and exposing Vladimir Putin’s ongoing efforts to subvert democracy in the United States and Europe.” Putin’s name appear six times in the text.
    The Alliance for Securing Democracy also boasts an all-star Advisory Council that includes members like former U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, former Estonian President Toomas Ilves, journalist and conservative pundit Bill Kristol, former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, and former Supreme Allied Commander in Europe Admiral James Stavridis, just to name a few.
    With figures like these backing Hamilton 68, it’s no surprise that the project is enjoying a lot of favorable attention from prominent people on Twitter.