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Saturday, May 26, 2007

ON RESPECT: http://uk.blog.360.yahoo.com:80/blog-CplNAyIlc6PRvYisHBVo9PYIUEpJ

Respect means no interruption.
Respect means no confrontation.
Respect means no accusation.
Respect means no "mocking,"
Especially, no mocking of elders.

Respect means no lies between us.
Respect means no betrayal of confidence.
Respect means no "ripping off."
Respect means no hoarding.

Respect means no "Lording it over" someone.
Respect means no ordering around.
Respect means no yelling in anger.
Respect means no bad language.
Respect means no name calling.
Respect means controlling yourself.

Respect is not a commodity.
Respect is a way of being.
Respect is in our chest and not in our hand.
Respect is for all life.

Respect is for every species in the world,
including all four races.
Respect is for all our relations.
Respect is focusing on and dealing in "issues"
and not "personalisms."
Respect is focusing on "what" is right
rather than "who" is right.

Respect means owning our own negativity
and not being a "Blame Shifter."
A "Blame Shifter" is one who projects or shifts
his own negativity onto someone else.
This is the process of bigotry, war, and genocide.

Respect is keeping all lines of communication open
with those who have a different opinion,
and making a sincere attempt to let them be heard and understood.

Respect means listening until everyone has been heard and understood, only then is there a possibility for

"Balance and Harmony,"
The goal of Indian spirituality.

Respect - The Key To Life by Dave Chief,
Grandson of Red Dog, Crazy Horse's Band

Margot B 10:20 AM

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Dianne Feinstein resigns committee post amid scandal; accused of war profiteering

Source: www.metroactive.com/metro/03.21.07/dianne-feinstein-resigns-0712.html

Posted by Joshua Holland at 12:52 PM on March 30, 2007.

SEN. Dianne Feinstein has resigned from the Military Construction Appropriations subcommittee. As previously and extensively reviewed in these pages, Feinstein was chairperson and ranking member of MILCON for six years, during which time she had a conflict of interest due to her husband Richard C. Blum's ownership of two major defense contractors, who were awarded billions of dollars for military construction projects approved by Feinstein.

As MILCON leader, Feinstein relished the details of military construction, even micromanaging one project at the level of its sewer design. She regularly took junkets to military bases around the world to inspect construction projects, some of which were contracted to her husband's companies, Perini Corp. and URS Corp.

Perhaps she resigned from MILCON because she could not take the heat generated by Metro's expose of her ethics (which was partially funded by the Investigative Fund of the Nation Institute). Or was her work on the subcommittee finished because Blum divested ownership of his military construction and advanced weapons manufacturing firms in late 2005?

The MILCON subcommittee is not only in charge of supervising military construction, it also oversees "quality of life" issues for veterans, which includes building housing for military families and operating hospitals and clinics for wounded soldiers. Perhaps Feinstein is trying to disassociate herself from MILCON's incredible failure to provide decent medical care for wounded soldiers.

Two years ago, before the Washington Post became belatedly involved, the online magazine Salon.com exposed the horrors of deficient medical care for Iraq war veterans. While leading MILCON, Feinstein had ample warning of the medical-care meltdown. But she was not proactive on veteran's affairs.

Feinstein abandoned MILCON as her ethical problems were surfacing in the media, and as it was becoming clear that her subcommittee left grievously wounded veterans to rot while her family was profiting from the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

I don't have much to add. For background, check out Joshua Frank giving it to the Senator with both barrels, here.

I'll just say this. Even if you think this criticism of Feinstein is unfair -- as I know some do -- you have to acknowledge that this kind of stuff sends the message that all of Washington is the same. It allows Republicans to hold onto the delusion that their brand of corruption over the past decade was run-of-the-mill -- just Standard Operating Procedure for the party in power -- and it just demoralizes progressives.

Margot B 12:09 PM

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Conspiracy Theories and Plain Old Lies
by Marlow B

We hear a lot of what we assume are conspiracy theories and don't have time to check them out as well as not paying that much attention to the news anyway. We don't have time for that and by most of those around us, we're considered a bit obsessed if we spend too much time on it. Before I retired I got most of my news from the mainstream media and newspapers. When I did retire I spent my time catching up on all the things I had been putting off or had always wanted to do for so many years and never had time.

Getting that out of my system, I began researching some of the conspiracy theories floating around at the time. I was surprised to find that I was fairly good at recognizing the truth, or am I? I have been taken-in a time or two only to find that I resent it when I learn the truth. "Research" is the answer. I read everything I can get my hands on and, as time would allow, have as far back as I remember. Not much fiction but that's enjoyable too. The Internet is an excellent source for news. On line, I read the NY Times, Fox news and Washington Post almost daily, occasionally more. Fox News and some of the other conservative rags are far too often not verifiable. Of course I read two local papers for the gossip.

As a student of the American Revolution, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the remainder of the Amendments, what led up to the whole experiment and what followed, I find it odd that some reporters make false statements about what is in those documents. Are they not aware that most people know better, that we don't only read what the church, Rush Limbaugh or Bill O Riley, the phone sex guy, tells us to read? But that's another story.

Considering one subject, September 11, 2001: There has been a lot said about what happened on that date but our media doesn't seem to be reporting it well. Most of what had been covered supports the administration and the corporations, but not lately. Now we are hearing that some of what we suspected were "conspiracy theories" are often what really happened. There is an excellent web site, 911Timeline.net, which covers the timeline of that day quite well. I find what they have to say, or what I have checked of it, is based on public record. That's unusual. Of course it continues to be nonexistent in some of the media. You should check it out when you question what you read or hear a conflicting report. Much of the information on 911 Timeline site never hit the news or was buried toward the back of section B of the paper.

Can you remember the reporters who were posting columns produced by the administration's writers and claiming to be the authors? I remember that, they admitted it. They were paid handsomely for their efforts, or lack of efforts. A similar deception has been uncovered in reports from Iraq. In this case the Pentagon or military writers in Iraq are the authors and the reports are passed off as being filed by reporters. There is a fundamental difference between a theory and a lie. A theory is just that, a theory. A lie is a deception, spinning the truth and rewriting scientific data to show a different result, then passing it off as the scientific finding that supports a lie. Much like what happened with the government's own scientist's reports on global warming. Exxon/Mobile was happy to produce the editor for that job. That put the entire world and all its creatures in jeopardy.

The burning of fossil fuels is the main contributor to global warming and it would look bad for the producers of them if it were known. It could cut into profits if we did anything to curb their use.

The 2004 Ohio election produced both conspiracy theories and lies. This is an example of a theory becoming fact through public documentation. For example: a claim was made that over 600% of a party's registered voters voted for George W Bush in one precinct. That was easy to verify. Count the number of votes cast for Bush, than count the number of registered republicans. Count the votes for Kerry and the number of voters registered as members of his party. This happened in many Ohio precincts in '04 but to a lesser degree. In each case the exit polls showed results easily reconciled with the number of registered voters of each party. Did you hear much about people going to prison for tampering with the process? Well it happened and was reported toward the end of section B of some newspapers. I must, at this point, say that many papers are better at reporting the news but only after a good old-fashioned public outcry and a lot of letters to the editor.

When we find that the government is lying to us, we must speak out and there are organizations that give us a voice. Moveon.org, among others, is a good place to go for that voice, as are many of the blogs on the net. I suggest we use them.

Margot B 3:25 PM

Monday, January 01, 2007

Conveniently forgotten

Saddam committed most of his crimes when he was an ally of those who now occupy his country

By Tariq Ali

01/01/07 "The Guardian" --- It was symbolic that 2006 ended with a colonial hanging - most of it shown on state television in occupied Iraq. It has been that sort of year in the Arab world. The trial was so blatantly rigged that even Human Rights Watch had to condemn it as a travesty. Judges were changed on Washington's orders, defence lawyers were killed and the whole procedure resembled a well orchestrated lynch mob. Where Nuremberg was a relatively dignified application of victor's justice, Saddam Hussein's trial was the crudest and most grotesque to date.

The great thinker-president's reference to it "as a milestone on the road to Iraqi democracy" is as clear an indication as any that Washington pressed the trigger. The leaders of the European Union, supposedly hostile to capital punishment, were passive, as usual.
Although some Shia factions celebrated in Baghdad, the figures published by a fairly independent establishment outfit, the Iraq Centre for Research and Strategic Studies, reveal that more than 80% of Iraqis feel the situation in the country was better before it was occupied. (The ICRSS research is based on detailed house-to-house interviewing carried out during the third week of November.) Only 5% of those questioned said Iraq is better today than in 2003; 12% felt things had improved and 9% said there was no change. Unsurprisingly, 95% felt the security situation was worse than before.

Add to this the figures supplied by the United Nations high commissioner for refugees: 1.6 million Iraqis (7% of the population) have fled the country since March 2003, and 100,000 leave every month - Christians, doctors, engineers, women. There are 1 million Iraqis in Syria, 750,000 in Jordan, 150,000 in Cairo. These are refugees who do not excite the sympathy of western public opinion, since the US - EU-backed - occupation is the cause. Perhaps it was these statistics, and estimates of a million Iraqi dead, that necessitated the execution of Saddam.

That Saddam was a tyrant is beyond dispute, but what is conveniently forgotten is that most of his crimes were committed when he was a staunch ally of those who are now occupying the country. It was, as he admitted in one of his trial outbursts, the approval of Washington and the poison gas supplied by what was then West Germany that gave him the confidence to douse Halabja with chemicals in the middle of the Iran-Iraq war. Saddam deserved a proper trial and punishment in an independent Iraq. Not this.

The double standards applied by the west never cease to astonish. Indonesia's Suharto, who presided over a mountain of corpses, was protected by Washington. He never annoyed them as much as Saddam.

And what of those who have created the mess in Iraq today? The torturers of Abu Ghraib; the pitiless butchers of Falluja; the ethnic cleansers of Baghdad; the Kurdish prison boss who boasts that his model is Guantánamo. Will Bush and Blair ever be tried for war crimes? Doubtful. And former Spanish prime minister José María Aznar? He is currently employed as a lecturer at Georgetown University, in Washington, where the language of instruction is of course English - of which he hardly speaks a word.

Saddam's lynching might send a shiver down the spines of the Arab ruling elites. If Saddam can be hanged, so can the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, the Hashemite joker in Amman and the Saudi royals - as long as those who topple them are happy to play ball with the United States.

Tariq Ali is the author of Bush in Babylon: the recolonisation of Iraq - tariq.ali3@btinternet.com

Margot B 9:36 PM

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

My Election Musings
Nov 21st, 2006 in politics

by Marlow B

America was the big winner in the mid-term election of 2006. The Dem's control both houses of Congress. So now what? We have Nancy Pelosi as Leader of the House starting in '07. She said she wants to clean up the ethics problem that has plagued us for eons in Congress, especially for the last 12 years, all 12 of which have been controlled by the neo­ cons with their corrupt values. Not all Republicans have ethics problems, or are representing only the rich and the huge corporations. It was a Republican named Eisenhower who warned us about the Military Industrial Complex in the early 50's and there are still some Eisenhower Republicans around. Ms. Pelosi wanted an anti Iraq War Democrat to become the speaker of the House who had been caught on tape accepting a bribe. That happened years ago but it happened. What does this say to the voting public about Nancy's ethical values? Dennis Hastert may be moral and ethical enough now and do just a fine job as majority whip and I like him but he has an unethical past, on film. Fortunately a majority of the Democrats were wise enough and prevailed. Now Nancy Pelosi has a cloud over her head, right out of the chute. What's her next act? I like her values but she needs to give more thought to her decisions before she makes them.

The whole thing reminds me that things are not going to be all rosy now that the Democrats control Congress. There are Dem's who have voted along with the Republicans on issues like torture, preemptive war, homeland security and the list goes on.. They have the same ethics and corruption problems as the Republicans, just not to the same degree. I feel better about the people that will be in charge in Congress for now, not much better, but we still have two branches of Government that are controlled by the neo­ cons who insist on enacting outrageous laws. They' not supposed to do that but they do, and get away with it, so far. I'm looking foreword to seeing how the new Congress reacts to those attempts in the future.

Yes, America was the big winner and could be an even bigger winner in 2008 if the Democrats don't squander their winnings. They need to show that they don't hate every one of a different religion, political leaning, sexual orientation, etc. and they need to be clean, which has become a novel idea of late. Also of great importance, they need to continue to pursue those in the Government who have committed crimes, regardless of which party the criminals align themselves with. They need to counter the fabrications of the extreme right with gusto and they need to read the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and all the Amendments.

I suggest that the Supreme Court be required to read it weekly and those who can't or don't want to follow the laws laid down in those works need to be replaced. They should be required to read what Jefferson wrote in explanation of the Constitution, especially his "Letter of Separation" explaining that the very first amendment, the "Separation Amendment" to the Constitution states that Church and State are to remain separate, not meddle in one another's affairs. Those who can't understand that don't belong in any branch of government. They were our founding fathers who first came up with the Separation idea and it worked. Governments around the world that didn't follow suit have failed. The framers had had enough of the churches that controlled governments ­ the Catholic Church, the Church of England, the Puritans. Adams was the only one of the framers who wanted America to become an oligarchy, run by a few rich Christians. Let's be thankful he was overruled. I have been told by many people that God is mentioned in the Constitution a number of times and the number is always different. I have searched the Constitution and find no mention of God, not once.

It took about ten years to hammer out the Constitution and The Bill of Rights and get it all ratified by the states. The last to sign were Jefferson and Washington's Virginia. Virginians didn't want the new government telling them they had to free their slaves...something Jefferson, Washington, and some of the others wanted. In the end, the only slaves Jefferson freed where his own children and only after his death. Washington freed his slaves in his will. The Constitution was ratified only after the emancipation clause was removed from the document.

So we don't always get what we want, that's democracy. ‘Ignoring the Constitution is not a moral value.’, as proclaimed by the present government. A Democracy is what this country is supposed to be. This country was not intended to be controlled by the churches, corporations or those with money, which is the present situation. Remember "We the people"? The corporations even got a law passed that makes a corporation a person, with all the protections and freedoms afforded a person.

So where are these next two years going to take us if the Dems ignore the wishes so loudly heard in our most recent election. It wasn't the Democrats who turned the voting public to their party. It was the Bush administration and the Republican Party, with all the corruption and immoral displays that caused so many people to leave their party in disgust. Now it's up to the Democrats to keep the voters. They're not going to do that by showing a tolerance for failed ethics and dishonesty. It's Nancy Peloci's job to lead the Democrats in the House. She has a "hard job" and I hope she's up to the task.

Then there's the Senate that will be controlled by the deciding vote of an Independent named Joe Leiberman. Oh crap!

Margot B 6:10 PM

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

You've got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught
From year to year,
It's got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.
You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!

Margot B 11:43 AM

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Generous with the fortunes they did nothing to deserve
Do they expect us to be grateful?

July 14, 2006

Alan Maass examines the philanthropy of today’s robber barons.

BILL GATES and Warren Buffett have grabbed headlines lately not for the usual reason of the record fortunes they’ve amassed, but because of the record sums they plan to give away to charity.

In June, Gates--cofounder of Microsoft and the world’s wealthiest man for 12 years running, according to Forbes magazine--announced that he would retire from business to concentrate on managing the philanthropic foundation he runs with his wife.

A few weeks later, Buffett--the world’s second-richest man--declared that he would donate more than 80 percent of his fortune, mostly to the Gates foundation, which promises to devote its efforts to combating AIDS, especially in Africa.

The mainstream media--never faint in its praise of these two latter-day robber barons--now seems ready to canonize them as saints.

“Billanthropy,” the Economist magazine declared on its cover. “We’re in awe of a Buffett or a Gates,” gushed the Chicago Tribune’s Julia Keller, “not just because these people made a lot of money, but because they made a lot of money and then turned around and gave a great deal of it away to causes they deemed worthy.”

Gates’ and Buffett’s good deeds (or, more accurately, announced plans for future good deeds) were just the thing to hype in the ongoing effort to clean up Corporate America’s image in an era of oil company profiteering and business mega-scandals like the Enron collapse--something highlighted by the timely death of disgraced Enron CEO Ken Lay.

Less remarked on was the grotesque fact that Gates and Buffett are bucking a trend among the super-rich--since Congress and the Bush administration three years ago lowered the top rate of the estate tax imposed on wealthy inheritances, bequests to charities from the rich have fallen steadily and sharply, year by year.

And practically no one mentioned the most obvious point--that Gates and Buffett could give away 99.9 percent of their net worth and still remain rich beyond any ordinary person’s wildest dreams. The truth is that their billions in gifts to charity will have less effect on their lives than a working person giving a buck to someone who asks for it on the street.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
JUST WHAT did Gates and Buffett do to become so immensely wealthy?

Neither man is among one-third of people on the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans who landed there from birth, thanks to the family fortune. On the other hand, neither came from modest backgrounds and worked their way up the ladder either. Both started out on the upper rungs.

Gates’ parents were wealthy enough to send him to the most expensive prep school in Seattle and pay his full tuition at Harvard. Buffett’s father was a stockbroker and four-term Republican congressman whose son’s early years were sufficiently comfortable that, at age 14, Warren had saved enough money to invest in 40 acres of farmland--not exactly a common experience for U.S. teenagers.

But the “rags to riches” myths about Gates and Buffett are misleading in a more fundamental way. The bigger lie is that the two ever did anything useful or productive to justify the vast wealth that they accumulated beyond what they were born with.

Gates is rich because the company he founded became a giant in the computer industry. But Gates has never had anything to do with actually producing or distributing the packages of software Microsoft sells.

He doesn’t even design the products. Microsoft thrived by buying software developed by other people and successfully marketing it as the boom in personal computers took off in the 1980s.

Gates is rich because he owns. He and his fellow Microsoft shareholders own the means of producing computer software--the factories and offices, the machines, the patents on different technologies.

Likewise, Buffett began his business life in the owning game--as a stockbroker, buying and selling shares of ownership in different companies through stock trading.

The flagship of his empire, Berkshire Hathaway, is in reality a mammoth holding company, with investments and controlling interests in a wide range of subsidiaries. In other words, its chief business is owning other companies.

Buffett’s operation is built around the most parasitic of capitalist ventures--insurance. Berkshire Hathaway’s insurance subsidiaries generate enormous amounts of cash--by charging premiums from customers on the gamble that future claims won’t cost as much as the premiums bring in. This huge fund of ready capital has been the basis for Berkshire Hathaway to make further investments and buy up new companies.

Buffett is known in the business world for rejecting the kind of financial shenanigans that led, for example, to the collapse of Enron and Ken Lay’s notorious end. But this preference for orthodox accounting methods shouldn’t obscure Buffett’s record of ruthlessness at the companies he acquires--and the string of laid-off workers, closed factories and devastated communities left in his wake.

The hallmark of a Buffett-run company is a tough management devoted to cutting costs and squeezing workers. Berkshire Hathaway itself was founded as a textile company, but Buffett closed the company’s mills one by one, shuttering the last more than two decades ago.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
BUFFETT AND his top executives say that their main job at Berkshire is “capital allocation.” But this “job” is dependent on being owners--with the absolute authority to dispose of assets and resources any way they choose, regardless of the consequences for others.

This is true about the capitalist system generally. The power of the minority at the top rests on its ownership and control of what Karl Marx called the “means of production.” Because they own, the capitalists make the most important decisions about how the resources of society are used--and they put the priority on guaranteeing and expanding their own wealth and power.

That wealth is dependent most of all on hiring much larger numbers of people to do the actual work of making or providing different goods and services.

The wealth of the few wouldn’t exist without the labor of the many. The profits that come from auto or computer sales, for example, wouldn’t exist without a workforce making these products.

For their labor, workers get paid a wage, but even the best-paid worker doesn’t receive as much as they produce. The capitalists keep the profit after covering wages and other costs of production, such as raw materials and machinery.

This is supposed to be a fair exchange--workers get “a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work,” and capitalists get a return on their investment. But there’s nothing fair about it. The employers have all kinds of ways to keep wages down, but there’s no limit on their profits.

The Marxist case is that capitalism is based on organized theft--the theft of the value of what workers produce by the small class of people who employ them.

The term for this process is exploitation. Normally, this word is associated with especially low wages and brutal conditions. In reality, exploitation takes place every minute of every day--carried out by a small minority of people that does nothing useful or productive, but gets richer because it owns and controls the wealth created by the people who do work.

For all the seeming importance of shrewd stock deals and corporate alliances, Gates’ and Buffett’s billions rest more fundamentally on the labor of workers.

For them to polish their p.r. images now with promises of charity to help the poor reeks of hypocrisy. At best, they are giving back what they plundered from society.

Margot B 4:31 PM

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