Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

This year I cancelled Christmas: guess I just got sick of the commercialised rite of overspending.
I decided instead, to spend the holidays with myself - to see what I could see. And it has been pleasant, quiet and rewarding.

New Year's Eves have been empty holidays for me, deciding whether to combat the crowds of drunks, or to spend a quiet evening at home waiting for midnight on the TV: most years I have chosen the latter. Tonight, instead of waiting for midnight, I choose to spend my time crystallising the events of the past year and how they have affected my conscious experience of life.

When one looks at a magnificent emerald, one does not imagine all the stages of compression required to produce such beauty. One only looks to the mesmerizing creation of crystallised light within the stone. And so it is with souls.

It matters less where we came from, than who we are now. In a sense, who we are now, is where we came from. Yes, our present incarnations are the essence of what it is to be Irish, Italian, Russian, Arabic, Chinese, African or American (North and south), etc. As people in all their diversity exist in this moment, they are the quintessential exclamation point of history, written and unwritten.

So I speak here as an Irish-American woman in the full presence of my ancestors, both villains and heroes.

2008 is the last year of the American dynasty, the snake has devoured itself with greed by eating itself tail first. All the world will suffer the effects; yet, it is my hope a phoenix will rise for those of us who survive our cannibalism. Hope and despair, a combination not unlike water and oil.

2009 will bring martial law to the USA, a Great depression, a New World banking order, the subversion of human rights, the age of surveillance everywhere, a world not different from the essence '1984'. Christmas of 2009 will barely recognise the 'good ole days' of Xmas 2008. A very great change in just one year.

It may also bring natural disasters of which we are not even aware yet. Fasten your seat belts, this is going to be a bumpy night: for the old and for the young.

Sometimes, I have trouble sleeping; but, instead of counting sheep, I count my blessings. I count them now, for all those who do not have them by fortune or desert:

I so appreciate
  • roads to drive upon and a car to drive on them
  • shops that have food to buy and money to buy it
  • hospitals close by, just in case somethings happens
  • neighbours I know who would help me if possible
  • the security of going to sleep knowing I will not be bombed or arrested in the night
  • the health of my child
  • the greenness of the meadows and hills that surround me
  • the swans of the lake and the birds in the trees
  • the apples of the orchard in autumn
  • the magpies that war with my cats
  • the deep quiet of country life
  • the sound of my heart beating
  • the crispness of the stars on a winter night
  • the courage of strangers, who tackle the world's injustices with more courage than I have
  • the goodwill of strangers greeting me on the streets
  • a culture with the wisdom of scarcity and a joy for life
  • the Internet and it's universe of learning at my fingertips
  • the hand of a familiar love on my back
  • memories of times that were so delicious, I wanted to freeze them in my soul
  • the spirit left to challenge the big dogs, be it only in text
  • my back scratcher handy when my back itches
  • second day soup when the flavour has doubled
  • to know others who fight for the dignity and compassion of people
  • the sweetness of forgiveness
  • the salvation of forgiving others
  • so much butter on brown bread, it drips from my fingers
  • I am afraid I could go on ad nauseum.
But I won't. I choose to focus on what is of value, tho not just for myself; but for others too....we are one. A mistake is of no value unless a lesson has been learned - though not all lessons can be applied to stop the consequences of past generations.

There is one word absent from all my political, economical, sociological readings of 2008: compassion. No one has even mentioned it in geo-political strategy at all. The concept of nurturance and the promulgation of the species is completely absent from today's rhetoric.
The elephant in the room is the male desire for war, profit and hegemony. How has this worked so far?

I look to the future in the courage of women, who by nature understand cooperation and community; whose endurance is inexhaustible and whose children will decide tomorrow.
The history of men is simply disgracing: it is difficult to imagine women doing worse.

For 2008, I thank the universe for the blessings I have been able to enjoy: for 2009, I give all my energy to the young goddesses of tomorrow, who must have the courage to lead us forth from the Valley of Death.

I thank all of you who read my blog: together we are stronger. A Hopeful New Year to all whom you love.


Monday, December 29, 2008

Gaza being bombed - Again and again

Pictures of Gaza you wont see in the Western Media

My brief Response to Zionist disinformation

Khaled Amayreh
29 December, 2008

Zionist Hasbara operatives have been claiming that the current Israeli genocidal onslaught in Gaza is a "war against Hamas" and that it was only necessitated by the firing of Palestinian rockets on Israel.

This is a big lie. Read the following:

"Hamas had repeatedly said it was willing and ready to stop "all" firing of projectiles from Gaza if only Israel would lift the deadly blockade. And Israel repeatedly said "No."

Israel has been saying ad nauseam that it ended its occupation of Gaza. Well, why does Israel then retain its control of Gaza skies, Gaza shores, Gaza sea, Gaza border crossings (even with Egypt). Why does Israel retain its control of Gaza life? Why?

Hence, the issue of firing "rockets" on Israel (they are homemade projectiles that make more noise than damage), should be viewed largely as a red herring.

Effectively, Israel has been giving Palestinians in Gaza either of two choices, to die of starvation as a result of the blockade or be exterminated by the Israeli war machine.

Indeed, these so-called "rockets" are nothing more than a desperate outcry for justice, for lifting the deadly blockade. Gaza has simply been reduced to a modern-day Auschwitz. The only difference is that Jews are now playing the role of the SS.

Hamas did meticulously observe a six-month ceasefire, despite the persistence of the Nazi-like blockade which very much resembled the Ghetto Warsaw siege in 1942-43. However, Israel on 13 November, Israel carried out a foray into Gaza, killing 6 people.

More to the point, Israel killed 49 Palestinians during the ceasefire. Not a single Israeli was killed.

Besides, hundreds of Palestinians have perished because Israel would not allow them to access medical care or medicine. I saw many Palestinians die an agonizing death because the "light upon the nations" wouldn't allow them to reach hospital a few blocks away. In short, we are talking about a Judeo-Nazi state. I am saying this because when Jews think, behave and act like Nazis, they become Nazis. We must call the spade a spade, especially when it happens to be in the hands of our gravediggers.

Therefore, it is a big lie to call this war a war against Hamas. This is a Nazi-like war of extermination against the people of Palestine.

If the war were against Hamas, as the war criminals of Tel Aviv keep claiming, Israel wouldn't have targeted market places, drug stores, college buildings, private homes, mosques, cultural institutions, roads, businesses, etc.
Only a state with a Hitlerian mindset would target an entire society and then claim that it is fighting Hamas! It is simply a big lie.

So, Israel is simply carrying out a real genocide...and an indiscriminate one for that matter.

Today, even a Jewish rabbi of imminence used the term "genocide" to describe what Israel is doing in Gaza."

See also Amira Hass’s article in the Ha’aretz newspaper "Israel’s war is not against Hamas, it’s against all the Palestinians."

Baby's DNA now stored in National Database - It's the law

Ever seen the movie Gattaca? Well if you don't like this story, don't watch the movie. In either case, science fiction is now the possible with exactly such laws as these. We shall be told this sort of invasion into our privacy is 'for our own good'. That might be true if the world were filled with altruistic leaders charting a course for humans to have ever more dignity in life on earth. Since the bill is signed by George Bush, I guess we can rule that one out.

The Bill Nobody Noticed:
National DNA Databank
December 18, 2008
Patty Donovan, citizen journalist


In April of 2008, President Bush signed into law S.1858 which allows the federal government to screen the DNA of all newborn babies in the U.S. This was to be implemented within 6 months meaning that this collection is now being carried out. Congressman Ron Paul states that this bill is the first step towards the establishment of a national DNA database. S.1858, known as The Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act of 2007, is justified as a "national contingency plan" in that it represents preparation for any sort of public health emergency.

The bill states that the federal government should "continue to carry out, coordinate, and expand research in newborn screening" and "maintain a central clearinghouse of current information on newborn screening... ensuring that the clearinghouse is available on the Internet and is updated at least quarterly". Sections of the bill also make it clear that DNA may be used in genetic experiments and tests. Read the full bill:
Twila Brase, president of the Citizens' Council on Health Care warns that this new law represents the beginning of nationwide genetic testing.

Brase states that S.1858 and H.R. 3825, the House version of the bill, will:

• Establish a national list of genetic conditions for which newborns and children are to be tested.
• Establish protocols for the linking and sharing of genetic test results nationwide.

• Build surveillance systems for tracking the health status and health outcomes of individuals diagnosed at birth with a genetic defect or trait.

•Use the newborn screening program as an opportunity for government agencies to identify, list, and study "secondary conditions" of individuals and their families.

• Subject citizens to genetic research without their knowledge or consent.

Read her entire analysis of the implications of this bill here: Brase states that under this bill, "The DNA taken at birth from every citizen is essentially owned by the government, and every citizen becomes a potential subject of government-sponsored genetic research."

All 50 states are now routinely providing results of genetic screenings to the Department of Homeland Security and this bill will establish the legality of that practice plus include DNA.
Ron Paul has also vigorously argued against this bill making the following comments before the US House of Representatives: "I cannot support legislation...that exceeds the Constitutional limitations on federal power or in any way threatens the liberty of the American people. I must oppose it." "S. 1858 gives the federal bureaucracy the authority to develop a model newborn screening program. Madame Speaker, the federal government lacks both the constitutional authority and the competence to develop a newborn screening program adequate for a nation as large and diverse as the United States. …"

"Those of us in the medical profession should be particularly concerned about policies allowing government officials and state-favored interests to access our medical records without our consent … My review of S. 1858 indicates the drafters of the legislation made no effort to ensure these newborn screening programs do not violate the privacy rights of parents and children, in fact, by directing federal bureaucrats to create a contingency plan for newborn screening in the event of a 'public health' disaster, this bill may lead to further erosions of medical privacy.

As recent history so eloquently illustrates, politicians are more than willing to take, and people are more than willing to cede, liberty during times of 'emergency."

Cute huh?

Things I read - December 28, 2008

The 25% of Retailers May Go Bankrupt
This will be worldwide; it's going to be a bumpy ride.

Making His List: Presidential Pardons
and Torture

Scientists plan to ignite tiny man-made star

911 call: Woman describes Santa assailant at

Hospitals ill from more bad debt, credit troubles
Pity all that money spent to kill women and children half way across the world, wasn't spend on Americans eh? What will they do without hospitals now?

Watch If An Asteroid Hit Earth (VIDEO)

No Furnaces but Heat Aplenty in
‘Passive Houses’

Yes a house that uses 1/20th of the energy and costs only 5-7% more to construct than conventional houses.

The Ten Lies of Dick Cheney (Part One)
Excellent on doublespeak.

Making His List: Presidential Pardons
and Torture

Good read.

A First Hand Account of the TVA Coal Ash
Disaster in Kingston, TN


If You Were CEO Of Corporation USA,

Grandstanding by Sarkozy fails to dispel economic worries
Sarkozy agenda and Bush agenda - very close.

Prince Edward faces possible
RSPCA probe for 'beating' dogs

Why is this not surprising?

Pelted whalers
flee into NZ waters

Powder that turns to slime on the decks of whaling boats: brilliant!

The link text

The link text

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Lusitania sinking - another 911 come to light?

From my childhood, I remember well my instruction on how the USA got involved in WWI: America was just minding its own business carrying on trade and travel and those evil Germans killed innocent passengers on the Lusitania with a submarine.
Since America just could not tolerate this blatant disregard of innocent lives, the USA had a moral obligation to stop the villians. I was told.

As I got older, I learned there are many more factors influencing world events than I was told about as a child. At one point, I became aware of 'false flag' strategies which curdled my warm devotion to the USA,a bastion of the people, for the people, by the people. I have literally choked on the undeniable facts of 911 indicating the complicity (if not complete planning) by the USA government.

Below are more such hard to digest facts: the Lusitania was doing what it was thought to be doing by the Germans - delivering munitions aboard a passenger carrier. How long will it be until this updated information hits the educational texts I wonder?

"The USA entered the first World War opportunistically and under pretenses of
defending democracy. The domestic economy was tanking and needing a boost and so
entering the war with popular support became a necessity. To accomplish this,
the Lusitania, a passenger liner, was used to make munitions deliveries and the
information secretly leaked to the Germans to invite an attack. World War 1 was
a windfall for Americans financiers and so the false flag event of the sinking
of the Lusitania was a well crafted strategy."

Shhhh....that's conspiracy theory. So I doubt the truth will ever be printed in text books. Yet it matters not to all those soldier ants who died for the lie. If you think this account lacks validity, I urge you to read the writings of

Smedley Butler.

For an alternate point of view with links,
Sinking of the Lusitania 7 May 1915
Its always good to compare versions.

Secret of the Lusitania

Arms find challenges Allied claims it was solely a passenger ship

Sam Greenhill
December 26, 2008
Her sinking with the loss of almost 1,200 lives caused such outrage that it propelled the U.S. into the First World War.

But now divers have revealed a dark secret about the cargo carried by the Lusitania on its final journey in May 1915.

Munitions they found in the hold suggest that the Germans had been right all along in claiming the ship was carrying war materials and was a legitimate military target.

Doomed: A contemporary view of the sinking of the Lusitania off Ireland in May 1915

The Cunard vessel, steaming from New York to Liverpool, was sunk eight miles off the Irish coast by a U-boat.

Maintaining that the Lusitania was solely a passenger vessel, the British quickly accused the 'Pirate Hun' of
slaughtering civilians.

The disaster was used to whip up anti-German anger, especially in the U.S., where 128 of the 1,198 victims came from.
A hundred of the dead were children, many of them under two.

Robert Lansing, the U.S. secretary of state, later wrote that the sinking gave him the 'conviction we would ultimately become the ally of Britain'.

Americans were even told, falsely, that German children were given a day off school to celebrate the sinking of the Lusitania.

The disaster inspired a multitude of recruitment posters demanding vengeance for the victims.

One, famously showing a young mother slipping below the waves with her baby, carried the simple slogan 'Enlist'.

Two years later, the Americans joined the Allies as an associated power - a decision that turned the war decisively against Germany.

The diving team estimates that around four million rounds of U.S.-manufactured Remington .303 bullets lie in the Lusitania's hold at a depth of 300ft.

The Germans had insisted the Lusitania - the fastest liner in the North Atlantic - was being used as a weapons ship to break the blockade Berlin had been trying to impose around Britain since the outbreak of hostilities in August 1914.

Winston Churchill, who was first Lord of the Admiralty and has long been suspected of knowing more about the circumstances of the attack than he let on in public, wrote in a confidential letter shortly before the sinking that some German submarine attacks were to be welcomed.

He said: 'It is most important to attract neutral shipping to our shores, in the hope especially of embroiling the U.S. with Germany.

'For our part we want the traffic - the more the better and if some of it gets into trouble, better still.'

Hampton Sides, a writer with Men's Vogue in the U.S., witnessed the divers' discovery.

He said: 'They are bullets that were expressly manufactured to kill Germans in World War I - bullets that British officials in Whitehall, and American officials in Washington, have long denied were aboard the Lusitania.'

The discovery may help explain why the 787ft Lusitania sank within 18 minutes of a single German torpedo slamming into its hull.

Some of the 764 survivors reported a second explosion which might have been munitions going off.

Gregg Bemis, an American businessman who owns the rights to the wreck and is funding its exploration, said: 'Those four million rounds of .303s were not just some private hunter's stash.

'Now that we've found it, the British can't deny any more that there was ammunition on board. That raises the question of what else was on board.

'There were literally tons and tons of stuff stored in unrefrigerated cargo holds that were dubiously marked cheese, butter and oysters.

'I've always felt there were some significant high explosives in the holds - shells, powder, gun cotton - that were set off by the torpedo and the inflow of water. That's what sank the ship.'

Mr Bemis is planning to commission further dives next year in a full-scale forensic examination of the wreck off County Cork.

News you WANT to read: True American folk hero

Perhaps there is no revenge so sweet than watching the scammers get scammed. Most of us aren't smart enough to do this; but, when a man like Bernie Madoff makes a fool of those entitled to rule by virtue of their superior intellect and breeding, I must give credit to even evil geniuses.

Bernie did not care a hoot that people who have been screwed by the Masters of the Universe would derive immense satisfaction from his shafting the elite. But I shan't let that keep me from savoring the moment. He was no doubt a lover of the game. I say 'well done' Bernie and thanks for the laugh.

I only wish the people had someone as clever as you on their side.

Bernie Madoff
(actually pronounced made-off)
True American Folk Hero

By John Kelley
While most folks on the bottom get the shaft, Bernie Madoff made it big. Madoff started his firm with $5,000 in 1960 at 21 years old. He supposedly earned it from installing sprinklers and working as a life guard, a pretty daunting task at 1960 wages even in Long Island. Bernie has now admitted to swindling rich folks out of $50 billion. Now if any of these people had any idea of how hard it would have been to save $5,000 in 1960 at those kind of jobs they never would have invested with him to start with.

Because he makes the rich look foolish, he is not in jail. Madoff is now grounded by the court, the con goes on. He can only go out of his $5 million dollar Manhattan home from 7am until 9pm and is restricted to Connecticut, southern New York State and the city. He did have to turn in his passport, and can no longer visit his two estates on Long Island, or the one in Palm Beach, or the one in France. That was because he couldn’t find four friends to co-sign for his bail.

Pictures of Bernie out for a stroll seem to make him seem like someone those of us on the bottom might even admire. You see Bernie, on his way up learned something a lot of people, rich or poor, don’t know. The rich aren’t any smarter than the rest of us. Of course they want to believe that and they just want you to believe that. Hence the title, Masters of the Universe.

His victims were long established wealthy families, hedge funds, big charities, big players on Wall Street, and as the New York madam said, the rest of the list will be revealed. Some of these brilliant people invested their whole family savings with Bernie. They represent la crème de la crème of the moneyed social circuit who created this financial nightmare.

Most of that wealth was acquired by inheritance or by actions like the stark avarice of the wizards on Wall Street. The result of such inheritance is the production of whole generations of George Bushes in the halls of financial power and government. Bernie screwed those guys, the ones who were screwing the rest of us.

It is difficult to have much sympathy for these folks; they participated in the mugging of the rest of the country. If you are making great returns, especially every quarter, the less you want to know. It’s easy, it’s not much different then not wanting to know that item you just bought was made by slave labor in some polluted third world country.

Bernie knew how to work snobbery built on greed and one-up-manship that has no relation to how the rest of the world lives, and could care less. He appealed to their eager desire to join even more and more exclusive groups. You know the ones, where people supposedly get to make better returns because of their special god given superiority.

In a Dec. 18th article in the New York Times, Christine Haughney writes, “Jeffrey R. Gural, chairman of Newmark Knight Frank, the brokerage firm, said Mr. Madoff had turned his family down as investors about eight years ago because they would not invest at least $20 million. For years, he said, colleagues introduced to Mr. Madoff through relatives or country club friends had sung his praises.

“People used to brag how they were getting these great returns when everybody else was struggling,” he said. “They thought Bernie Madoff was a genius, and anybody who didn’t give them their money was a fool.”’ Now commercial real estate, already looking at sliding over the cliff in 2009, gets a push from real estate outfits who had pledged investments with Madoff as collateral for 100s of millions of dollars.

Madoff also suckered (supposedly) other rich investors who managed funds to place them all with him. They sold access to their funds to invest in his fund of funds, their job complete due diligence. They collected millions in fees for carrying clients to Madoff, now they are crying victim too, poor rich bastards. Madoff’s sons and other family members all claim no knowledge; in fact Bernie says he fooled them all, taking full blame.

The Watchdogs

In 1999 Financial analyst Harry Markopolos asked the SEC to investigate Madoff, stating it was impossible to make his profits legally, he supposedly liquidated every asset every quarter to avoiding reporting investment information and only had one accountant, who didn’t do audits. The SEC investigated Madoff twice and found nothing wrong, so much for due diligence.

The New York Times reported that Michael Markov, a hedge fund consultant hired to evaluate one of Bernie’s rich shills’ investment companies, Fairfield Sentry, he said their returns were “statistically impossible to replicate.” The only other fund he could find that would produce the same returns was the Bayou Fund, prosecuted and shut down for fraud in 2006.

So the money is gone, Bernie is walking on the sidewalk, knowing at worst he’ll get time in a federal penitentiary. He’s 70, he knows he’s had a better life than most. He knows that all those rich schmucks are walking around dazed and confused. They thought they had the connection, the magic one that, they had made it to the promised land, the elite of the elite, who get to make more because they are special.

The market took a turn that Bernie couldn’t survive. As long as the folks that he was able to scam could keep scamming the folks below them, the game was on. No one ever asked what would happen when the folks at the bottom ran out. Except Bernie, he knew, that’s why he didn’t run. Maybe for Bernie the best is yet to come. There is the trial, the book and of course the movie. Without their money who will the rest be, but Bernie, he will go down in history. Maybe he could have even kept it going. Who knows? Maybe it just wasn’t fun anymore unless you could share it.

John Kelley is the Publisher and Managing Editor of We the People News ( a monthly progressive news magazine that focuses on the local impacts of national policies and exposes local government and business corruption. His writing can regularly be found on such sites as Cyrano’s Journal, Dissident Voice, OpEd News, the American Muslim, and has been selected at times by Common Dreams, Alternet and TruthOut. He wakes up each day worrying about what kind of world he is leaving his grandchildren

The Social Justice of Mad Madoff

Lessons for Capitalists

Who doesn't know the trouble the world is now experiencing as a result of the brilliant capitalist strategies of the Masters of the Universe? Anyone not currently suffering will probably not be interested in the articles below; and you know why - anyone not suffering is a committed and successful capitalist who has benefitted from the chaos of unregulated greed.

There is quite enough blame to go around; but, learning from the mistakes made is the only salvation earth will find. The two articles below have slightly different points of view but together neatly explain the practical male view, and the softer humanistic female view. I believe both are necessary to move forward.

The Day after Capitalism

One of the most tragic aspects of unregulated Capitalism is its dependency on offensive wars and a colossal security apparatus. Capitalism becomes reliant on foot soldiers and corporate-militarism instead of educators, inventors and entrepreneurs, says Dallas Darling.

The other day I happened to see a former student buying cooking oil in a grocery store. When I asked if she enjoyed cooking her reply was, “When we can afford the food.” In a nearby city, people gather around eighteen roses to symbolize homeless individuals who had died this year. Some were victims of “sport killings.” Others were murdered for money or died from natural (lack of healthcare?) causes. On a cold misty night, a small child selling cookies on a street corner catches my eye. She is trying to raise money for her father’s surgery. Several miles away in a colonia, one of many, the people who live there do not have sewer lines, running water or electricity. In the community where I live, there is still an unclaimed body in the morgue, an undocumented worker, who died last month in a fiery car wreck. The city officials are trying to figure out how to dispose of his body.

Instead of the day after Christmas when retailers cut prices and millions of shoppers are standing in line for bargains, maybe we need to experience the day after Capitalism. After all, Christmas and Capitalism are at odds with each other. Whereas Christmas pertains to a time of sharing and giving, Capitalism denotes the accumulation of wealth through overly ambitious and selfish means and often at the expense of others. When Herbert Hoover said the only thing wrong with Capitalism was greedy capitalists, he should have said the only thing wrong with Capitalism is Capitalism, especially unregulated Capitalism. If the Great Depression did one thing, it exposed the failure of Capitalism with its tax cuts for the rich, unfettered monopolies, assembly line technologies, mass production of goods, installment buying, mass media (manipulation?), and conspicuous consumption. It also showed how a system can become a destructive religion consisting of the profit motive and materialism.

Since unregulated Capitalism is based on mass production, mass consumption and revenue, little thought is given to the depletion of natural resources that go into production. Even less reflection is measured in the mass consumption of such goods. The advertising and entertainment industries, which devalues work and workers, alters the consumer’s behaviors by selling moods and by propagating false needs. Momentary illusions and a never ending cycle of emptiness become a permanent fixture in the minds and emotions of unsuspecting customers. Self-worth and fulfillment is found in products instead of through ideas, relationships and actions. Capitalism replaces the analytical literate citizen with the emotionally illiterate consumer. In supersizing everything from McDonalds french-fries to cars and unaffordable mansions, Capitalism destroys the Earth. People lose the art of living simple so that others may simply live.

One of the most tragic aspects of unregulated Capitalism is its dependency on offensive wars and a colossal security apparatus. It is always in search of cheap resources, labor, goods, and markets. In order to protect its “national (international) security interests,” Capitalism becomes reliant on foot soldiers and corporate-militarism instead of educators, inventors and entrepreneurs. For example, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLBA) is a ruse to privatize and militarize government funded schools. When a school receives an Unacceptable rating, 20 percent of federal funds must be set aside for corporate consultants. Failed school are taken over by the private sector. The NCLBA has increased funding for military programs and has given military recruiters greater access and control in recruiting students. All across America tens of thousands of teens unable to pass the required tests have quit school and have formed gangs. Their “full-time” job is breaking into cars and homes and stealing items to be pawned for money, food, drugs, and other goods. An entire subculture of resentment, crime and violence has developed.

Capitalism can also be blamed for the breach in security that led to the attacks on 9-11 and the retirement pensions that have become solvent or stolen by the Few. It has given more rights to corporations, to the demise of individual liberties and democracy. Unregulated Capitalism, with its values of greed, avarice and usury, is inherently evil. It not only controls the means of production but also the means of thinking and behavior. Laissez Faire or “let the people do as they please” promotes an “oligarchy of the rich.” Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal Programs (which employed 8 million Americans) and Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society (which slashed poverty by half) bettered the lives of millions. It was a Government by the Many. Socialistic Capitalism, in which the factors of production are ultimately owned by the public and operated for the welfare of all, promotes a sense of justice and economic equality while preventing fascist corporations from seizing power.

With the news that hundreds of thousands of workers have lost their jobs and millions of people have been evicted from their homes, editorialists and their words of hope are not enough. In fact, Christmas was about “change,” a new and radical reality. For example, I read where President Hugo Chavez halted the construction of a shopping mall in the capital of Venezuela. He said the sprawling six-story building could be better used as a hospital or university. This is change and an example of good Government and good Nationalism. It is a case of what a peoples priority should be. Worth and self-fulfillment may very well be in serving, healing, instructing, giving, demonstrating, protesting, and participating on behalf of others and not profiteering on behalf (or on the backs) of the sick, elderly and poor.

Since Karl Marx believed Capitalism would eventually destroy itself, (Is it?), I envision the day after Capitalism as one where mansions are turned into missions for the homeless and mentally ill and where empathy replaces evictions. It is where Government funds much needed doctors, nurses, educators, and “green” jobs. It is where ideological and resource wars have ended and where Government by the People protects their own at home instead of Government of the Few protecting corporate profits overseas. The day after Capitalism is a world in which everyone can afford food and not have to beg for adequate health care. It is a world in which everyone has clean drinking water, ample shelter, electricity, and an undocumented worker’s family can be notified of his death and receive a proper burial. And finally, the day after Capitalism is when a child does not have to be born in a manger or refugee camp (colonia) because there was no room in the inn or a country.

Dallas Darling is the author of The Other Side Of Christianity: Reflections on Faith, Politics, Spirituality, History, and Peace, and is a writer for You can read more of his articles at

Seven Deadly Absurdities
Facing the US in 2009

The a priori imposition of faith over reason beyond the confines of both spirituality and the constitutional separation of church and state, puts the United States at par with the much-criticized theocracies of a less enlightened world, notes Ben Tanosborn.

It has been said and repeated ad nauseam that President-elect Barack Obama has his work cut out for him like no one since Franklin D. Roosevelt way back in 1933. A true understatement, if one is willing to unveil the current state of affairs, one that would make FDR’s problems seem almost manageable, mostly economy-focused, not dealing with peace or international affairs; at least not during his first term. Obama, in contrast, in order to take the right path to “remake” the world’s view of America, needs to recognize all the entrenched absurdities that must be overcome.

Followers of the Abraham tradition have acknowledged for millennia, in whatever form, the existence of seven deadly sins, or vices; while at the same time acknowledging seven forms of virtue to counter them.

In like manner, Americans end the year facing seven deadly absurdities, but they also have the knowledge in how to overcome them. Yet, it is likely that they will end 2009 holding on to the same absurdities which they now face as 2008 comes to a close; as they succumb to “more of the same” instead of adopting, once and for all, change.

The seven absurdities, alphabetically and not in order of priority, relate to:
Afghanistan – It’s more than likely that Obama’s administration in an effort to cater to bipartisanship – which implies inclusion of militarists and ad hawk imperialists – will trade exit from Iraq with a gift to warrior-America by escalating belligerence in the land where America is hated not just by the Taliban, but by people of other traditions who might accept change by way of outside measured influences, but never through forced adoption of what to them are foreign ways.

American military presence, even with the addition of Special Forces and other troops, perhaps as many as 30,000 to 50,000, and reluctant but enabling NATO contingents, will do little more than maintain a cordon of “Western security” around Kabul, propping up a government that more than national, it’s municipal; with Hamid Karzai, less a president of the country and more a controversial “mayor of Kabul” at America’s beck and call… at least in the mind of most Afghans. The Russians, with perhaps a less corrupt and more humane approach, including a more trusty system of political/public relations, still failed miserably; yet, Americans are ready to throw unaffordable tens of billions of dollars borrowed from China on an absurd, senseless war!

Capitalism – Americans are just beginning to acknowledge, if not accept, the dismal state of the economy, and the fact that prospects for a recovery, a return to the “good old ways,” is unlikely to be in the cards. Their trust in politicians, the Fed, and capitalism as a system is slowly melting away as they feel deceived by a predatory ruling class. Being in the early stages of a depression, they’re still unwilling to listen to the prophets of doom – even if in this case “doom” is but obvious truth – who are claiming a far worse situation than economists in the payroll of government or industry are willing to admit; such as Lawrence Yun, NAR Senior Economist who hasn’t been right once on housing in the past three years, providing only “industry-hopeful” forecasts totally out of whack.

It has become patently clear that neither government, nor the Fed, nor anyone in a position of public trust, will tell American people the truth, whether they are ignorant of it, or whether their preference is not to be emissaries of unpleasant or catastrophic news. Obama, even in his early moments of popular acceptability and glory, won’t dare tell American people the truth: that their standard of consumption – not to be confused with standard of living – will permanently decrease from 20 to 30 percent; and he will be advised by his political circle against telling Americans that such a thing may actually be more coherent and relevant to their overall health, as well as that of the rest of the planet. Unfortunately, politicians’ efforts to stimulate spending and burden future generations with the cost of unfair and long term inefficient bailouts will prove American-style capitalism to work not for the many, but for the few.

A quest for America to export democracy to the world has become nothing short of self-mockery as exports have been relegated to poisonous warmongering and toxic made-in-America capitalism waving creative, worthless, financial instruments and thieving pyramid schemes, a la Maddox’. A deadly absurdity promoting predatory capitalism!

Exceptionalism – It is Americans’ belief in this condition of uniqueness… that the US does not conform to the mold of other countries; that brings about self-denial and total apostasy to any evidence of truth. Politicians and others in power benefit from this myth to advance their ends. It may take this great depression to open Americans’ eyes and clear this absurdity, although next year may prove to be too early for that to occur.

Ignorance – As it happens with exceptionalism, Americans do not challenge what they are being told by a wimp corporate press more interested in its economic survival than in bringing truth and open discussion to a clueless mainstream of their own creation. This is one absurdity in America soon to disappear, courtesy of an uncensored Internet.

Impasse – If there is a cause célèbre in American foreign policy it is America’s unfair treatment of Palestinians because of wantonly pressure from Israel, its powerful lobby, AIPAC, and an American Jewry that exerts great power and influence over every aspect of American life (academic, business, cultural, political and professional). If Obama is personally unable to break this political-diplomatic stranglehold, and impasse continues, it will affect any trust the US may wish to re-institute in Latin America or elsewhere, and not just the Arab/Muslim worlds. This critically pending issue of Israel-Palestine will determine more than any single other thing whether the United States is willing to join the world on impartial terms, or whether America’s imperial absurdity is a reality to stay.

Politics – As Republicans and Democrats keep intact the entrenched monopoly of the right, little will change politically in the US; the absurdity of political mono-thinking will remain alive and well, other ideas continuing to be viewed as un-American. Only an ongoing worsening of the economy and rigidity in maintaining an assailable foreign policy will bring some fertility to the fields of political populism and a comatose left.

Religion – Perhaps the greatest absurdity that confronts America these days, and one likely to remain unchallenged for years to come, is the power religion holds over the temporal affairs in the country. The a priori imposition of faith over reason beyond the confines of both spirituality and the constitutional separation of church and state, puts the US at par with the much-criticized theocracies of a less enlightened world.

Absurdities, like vices, may be overcome, but are Americans willing to so do?

© 2008 Ben Tanosborn

Friday, December 26, 2008

Oops, there goes another Constitutional right

The Seventh Amendment
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Meaning ... while twenty dollars doesn't go as far as it used to, the right to a trial by jury remains a mainstay of penal justice. In fact, in order to waive this right, a criminal defendant must be interviewed by a Judge with counsel present--called a plea colloquy--and sign a sworn affidavit. Cases that have arisen under this issue have dealt with whether plea terms have been contractually honored and whether a defendant was competence to understand the nature of the right being waived.

Jury duty on hold

Chloe Johnson
Wednesday, 17 December 2008
Superior courts in New Hampshire are suspending jury trials for a month this fiscal year as one of many cost saving measures. Another month off has been proposed, which could further delay civil cases for those seeking a right for a wrong.

Due to a state budget shortfall, Gov. John Lynch and the state Legislature requested cuts from government agencies and branches. The decision to suspend jury trails, under the direction of Superior Court Chief Justice Robert Lynn, is part of an effort to cut back $2.7 million in the judicial branch.

Since then, the branch has been asked to cut another $3 million, of which less than one-sixth was deemed feasible by Chief Justice John Broderick in a letter to the governor last month. That would include a second month of suspended jury trials for an estimated savings of $73,000. Jurors are paid $10 per half-day.

To come closer to the requested amount of cuts would require reductions in personnel. Personnel payroll accounts for 75 percent of the budget. Because of financial constraints, many positions have already been left vacant in all parts of the judicial branch. Broderick, in his letter, says the shortage of judges has consequences to the operation of the courts and delivery of justice. He warned against further reduction in staffing but posed two options for it.

“We have written this letter in the spirit of cooperation, trying to do what we reasonably can to help narrow the looming deficit. In fact, some of the items we have put on the table in this letter, we believe are not reasonable, but we have done so to squeeze every dollar we can from our FY 2009 budget,” Broderick wrote.

The right to a speedy trial means criminal cases are often scheduled before civil cases, said Ellen Shemitz, executive director of the New Hampshire Association for Justice. The suspension of jury trials means civil cases to mediate a wrong will be delayed further, she said. Shemitz said that inadequate staffing in the courts has already caused some cases to be rescheduled up to three times, with gaps of about six months in between. Civil cases can include product liability, public health concerns, employment discrimination, personal injuries or other situations in which a citizen alleges wrongful harm.

The financial crunch shines a spotlight on the problem of declining accessibility to justice, she said. By not investing in the courts, she added, the government is limiting essential services and affecting constitutional rights. “There are structural problems in our government,” Shemitz said. “We are chronically under-funded.”

Belknap County began the suspension in December, while most counties, including Rockingham, will suspend jury trails in February. The suspension won’t take place until April in Strafford County. Trials that were to go forward during those months will be rescheduled. The schedules remain unchanged in Sullivan and Coos counties, where jury trials occur every other month.

Viagra - the new drug of choice for the CIA

There is nothing that cannot be successfully used in conducting 'irregular warfare'. Pity Viagra is a recent development; think of all the wasted centuries and the leaders it could have bribed into orgasmic submission.

This is just another 'clue' as to the symbiotic relationship between war and sex, and along with other articles blogged here, presents a very ugly picture of the male sex as a force in the history of violence and wars, whose victims are predominantly unarmed women and children.

We should really take notice and do something about this. I am not at all opposed to more open norms of sexuality within a society; the Bonobos are instructive in showing that peace is possible.
The pharmaceutical companies should be overjoyed; sales will surely jump with all the regular and irregular warfare the USA has planned for Afghanistan.

CIA uses Viagra
to win over Afghan warlords

Thursday, December 25, 2008
Washington Post

The Afghan chieftain looked older than his 60-odd years, and his bearded face bore the creases of a man burdened with duties as tribal patriarch and husband to four younger women. His visitor, a CIA officer, reached in his bag for a small gift.

Four blue pills. Viagra.

"Take one of these," the officer said. "You'll love it."

The officer returned days later to an enthusiastic reception, he said. The chief offered information about Taliban movements – and asked for more pills.

For U.S. intelligence officials, this is how some crucial battles in Afghanistan are won. The growing Taliban insurgency has prompted the use of novel incentives and creative bargaining in some of the country's roughest neighborhoods, according to officials involved in such operations.

In their efforts to win over notoriously fickle warlords and chieftains, the officials say, the agency's operatives have used a variety of personal touches. These include pocket knives and tools, medicine or surgeries for ailing family members, toys and school equipment, tooth extractions, travel visas and, occasionally, pharmaceutical enhancements for aging patriarchs with slumping libidos, the officials said.

"Whatever it takes to make friends and influence people – whether it's building a school or handing out Viagra," said one longtime agency operative and veteran of several Afghanistan tours. Like other field officers interviewed for the story, he spoke on condition of anonymity when describing tactics and operations.

Officials say these inducements are necessary in Afghanistan, where warlords and tribal leaders expect to be paid for their cooperation, and where, for some, switching sides can be as easy as changing tunics. If the Americans don't offer incentives, there are others who will, including Taliban commanders, drug dealers and Iranian agents.

The usual bribes of choice – cash and weapons – aren't always the best options, Afghanistan veterans say. Guns too often fall into the wrong hands, they say, and showy gifts such as money, jewelry and cars tend to draw unwanted attention.

"If you give an asset $1,000, he'll go out and buy the shiniest junk he can find, and it will be apparent that he has suddenly come into a lot of money from someone," said Jamie Smith, a veteran of CIA covert operations in Afghanistan and now chief executive officer of SCG International, a private security and intelligence company. "Even if he doesn't get killed, he becomes ineffective as an informant because everyone knows where he got it."

The key, Mr. Smith said, is to meet the informant's personal needs in a way that keeps him firmly on your side but leaves little trace.

"You're trying to bridge a gap between people living in the 18th century and people coming in from the 21st century," he said, "so you look for those common things in the form of material aid that motivate people everywhere."

Among the world's intelligence agencies, there's a long tradition of using sex as a motivator. Robert Baer, a retired CIA officer and author of several books on intelligence, noted that the Soviet spy service was notorious for using attractive women as bait when seeking to turn foreign diplomats into informants.

"The KGB has always used 'honey traps,' and it works," Mr. Baer said.

For American officers, a more common practice was to offer medical care for potential informants and their loved ones, he said. For some U.S. operatives in Afghanistan, Western drugs such as Viagra are just one of a long list of enticements available for use in special cases. Two veteran officers familiar with such practices said Viagra is offered rarely, and only to older tribal officials for whom the drug would hold special appeal.

While such sexual performance drugs are generally unavailable in the remote areas where the agency's teams have operated, they have been sold in some Kabul street markets since at least 2003, and are known by reputation elsewhere.

"You didn't hand it out to younger guys, but it could be a silver bullet to make connections to the older ones," said one retired operative familiar with the drug's use in Afghanistan. Afghan tribal leaders often have four wives – the maximum number allowed by the Quran – and some village patriarchs are easily sold on the pill.

But not everyone in Afghanistan's hinterlands has heard of the drug, leading to some awkward encounters when Americans try to explain its effects.

Such was the case with the 60-something chieftain who received the four pills from a U.S. operative. The operative, now retired, said he talked to the clan leader for a long time through an interpreter, looking for ways to secure loyalty.

A discussion of the man's family and wives provided inspiration. Once it was established that the man was in good health, the pills were offered and accepted.

Four days later, when the Americans returned, the gift had worked its magic, the operative recalled.

"He came up to us beaming," the official said. "He said, 'You are a great man.' "

"And after that we could do whatever we wanted in his area."

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Big Brother likes frogs

"I don't see how actually and factually documenting something that happens before our eyes, and editing it in a factual way — in other words, not manipulatively, can be considered propaganda," he said.

Ok let's test that. How about if we make a television show of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo torture? Or live coverage of children in Gaza? Why can't these types of factual events be used?
Do you smell something cooking?

Homeland Security turns
reality TV star on ABC


Ratings champion "American Idol" will face serious competition when it returns next month: the Department of Homeland Security.

"Homeland Security USA," an ABC reality series debuting Jan. 6, tracks the daily efforts of the federal workers responsible for safeguarding the nation's airports, borders, waters and anyplace else threats might arise.

While viewers see the mechanics of agencies including Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Transportation Security Administration, absent is discussion of such hot-button issues as post-Sept. 11 security programs or immigration policies. That's by design, said series executive producer Arnold Shapiro, whose credits include "Rescue 911" and "Big Brother."

"It doesn't have a political point of view," Shapiro said. "It's not meant to show the (department) higher-ups .... just the average men and women on the front lines protecting our country from various things illegal and dangerous."

"Homeland Security USA" has a week to win viewers before it has to face Fox's hit singing contest, back Jan. 13.

The ABC series, filmed with the department's cooperation, is a virtual travelogue in the first episode as it skips from border crossings at Blaine, Wash., and San Ysidro, Calif., to Los Angeles International Airport to a mail processing plant.

Turns out even mail has dramatic possibilities, as sharp-eyed officers pry open toys containing black-market prescription drugs and uncover an exotic and illicit food item: barbecued bats from Thailand.

The show mixes the offbeat and the serious, including drug smugglers, people trying to enter the country with doctored papers and a woman who's been shoved under a car seat in a painful, failed effort to slip into the country.

Not all goes the department's way in the 13 episodes. In one scene, guns are drawn against a man trying to drive across the U.S.-Mexico border with his family, terrifying his wife and young children, until agents discover it's a case of mistaken identity.

Shapiro says that he retained control over the show's creative content. The department prescreened episodes and could ask for deletion of elements that would have revealed law-enforcement strategies, infringed on personal rights or jeopardized pending legal cases.

The series is based on Australia's popular "Border Security," which was optioned by ABC. "Homeland Security USA" is intended as entertainment without a political point of view, said Vicki Dummer, ABC's executive in charge of alternative series.

The department saw the show "as a great opportunity to help the American public understand what their government does and what the Department of Homeland Security, the youngest department, does," said department spokesman Ed Fox.

But "Homeland Security USA" has provoked debate sight unseen. A Facebook page opposing the series drew more than 500 postings within its first few days. Many were negative, including denunciations of the show as government propaganda.

The page was created by Tina Shull, a graduate student in history at the University of California, Irvine, whose critical view of Homeland Security was shaped in part by the detention and deportation of her Albanian husband after he was refused political asylum.

"My biggest fear about the show is it's simplifying a very complex range of duties that DHS takes on. ... It's making light of a very serious, very controversial issue in our society today," said Shull. She wants ABC to reconsider airing it.

Shapiro is adamant in his defense of "Homeland Security USA."

"I don't see how actually and factually documenting something that happens before our eyes, and editing it in a factual way — in other words, not manipulatively, can be considered propaganda," he said.

Santa Bush and his sneaky legislation

'New Unified Command Plan' sounds pretty boring an innocuous doesn't it? But nothing could be further from the truth. This little Christmas present to the American people contains some deadly changes for all. One wonders where the confidence of these 'masters of the universe' comes from as far as financing all these plans, since the USA is bankrupt.

Good timing in the marketing end of it too: slip it through just as people are preparing for Christmas (more than likely the best they will have for many years). This legislation should be read and thoroughly understood by us all. Please feel free to make comments.

New Unified Command Plan
Spells Out Responsibilities, Missions

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
Department of Defense

WASHINGTON, Dec. 23, 2008 – President George W. Bush has signed an updated unified command plan that codifies U.S. Africa Command, shifts responsibility for parts of the Caribbean Sea to U.S. Northern Command and assigns cyberspace and pandemic influenza missions to other combatant commanders.
The revised plan, which Bush signed Dec. 17, is the key strategic document that spells out the missions, responsibilities and geographical boundaries of each functional and geographic combatant command within the U.S. military, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman explained.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Joint Staff led the review process, with input from every combatant commander and service chief and much of the Defense Department leadership.

Mullen submitted the plan through Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to the president for final approval, officials said. Congress received notice of the revisions yesterday.

Major changes to the plan include:

-- Codifying Africom, which became fully operational-capable Oct. 1, as a geographic combatant command by assigning specific missions, responsibilities and geographic boundaries;

-- Shifting the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands from U.S. Southern Command’s to U.S. Northern Command’s area of responsibility;

-- Assigning every combatant commander responsibility for planning and conducting military support for stability, security, transition, reconstruction operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief;

-- Assigning central planning authorities for several global missions, including pandemic influenza response, cyberspace operations, global operations against terrorist networks, combating weapons of mass destruction and global missile defense; and

-- Codify U.S. Pacific Command’s responsibility for homeland defense operations in Hawaii, Guam and other U.S. territories within its area of responsibility.

The plan codifies a new “pandemic influenza” mission and tasks Northcom to plan departmentwide efforts in support of the U.S. government response to an outbreak. U.S. Strategic Command is assigned responsibility for the department’s cyberspace mission, Whitman said.

Meanwhile, U.S. Special Operations Command is assigned responsibility for global operations against terrorist networks, and Stratcom becomes responsible for combating weapons of mass destruction and global missile defense.

“This is a new concept,” Whitman said of the synchronized global planning construct. “What it means is the assignment of responsibilities to a single coordinator to coordinate missions that exceed the responsibility of any one commander.”

The new document is the first unified command plan to assign all combatant commanders responsibility for missions ranging from stability operations to humanitarian and disaster relief. The goal, Whitman explained, is to give added emphasis on these areas to head off problems “before they reach crisis proportions.”

“If all the combatant commanders are out there conducting stability operations, this can have the effect of strengthening governance and really preventing the creation of these ungoverned spaces … that are troublesome and are used as safe havens for terrorist activities,” he said.

The realignment of Northcom’s boundary is designed to improve the department’s effectiveness in its homeland defense and support to civil authorities missions, officials said. The revision follows Gates’ decision in August 2007 to task Northcom to provide civil support if requested by the U.S. Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico in the event of a natural disaster.

Meanwhile, assignment of the cyberspace mission to Stratcom recognizes cyberspace as a warfighting domain critical to joint military operations, officials said. The revised unified command plan will give new emphasis to this capability, they said, ensuring it is protected, defended and leveraged for the United States.

Related Sites:
Map of New Areas of Responsibility
Defense Department News Release

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Bailiffs get power to use force on debtors

This is happening in England now but it won't be long until these types of laws govern many countries. It only makes sense: if private security firms and personnel are the future, what good are they if not given power over people and property. Very disturbing article.

December 21, 2008
Jon Ungoed-Thomas
The Times

The government has been accused of trampling on individual liberties by proposing wide-ranging new powers for bailiffs to break into homes and to use “reasonable force” against householders who try to protect their valuables.

Under the regulations, bailiffs for private firms would for the first time be given permission to restrain or pin down householders. They would also be able to force their way into homes to seize property to pay off debts, such as unpaid credit card bills and loans.

The government, which wants to crack down on people who evade debts, says the new powers would be overseen by a robust industry watchdog. However, the laws are being criticised as the latest erosion of the rights of the householder in his own home.

“These laws strip away tried and tested protections that make a person’s home his castle, and which have stood for centuries,” said Paul Nicolson, chairman of the Zacchaeus 2000 Trust, a London-based welfare charity. “They could clearly lead to violent confrontations and undermine fundamental liberties.”
* Repossessions will rise 67% to hit 90s levels
* Think of debt not as a misfortune but as an opportunity
* Bailed-out bank menaces defaulters

Bailiffs have for hundreds of years been denied powers to break into homes for civil debt or to use force against debtors, except in self-defence. In a famous declaration, William Pitt the Elder, the 18th-century prime minister, said: “The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the crown.” Ministers have now proposed bailiffs be given powers to physically remove debtors who try to defend their property, for example by draping themselves over a car or blocking the door of their home. Lord Bach, a junior justice minister, has assured the House of Lords that any new powers will be implemented only after a consultation and will not be used to search debtors’ pockets or to remove jewellery.

It emerged last week that Her Majesty’s Courts Service has already handed out guidance to privately employed bailiffs, pointing out that under legislation passed in 2004 they can already break down doors as a last resort to collect court fines.

Some restraint should be exercised, according to the “search and entry powers” guidelines. “If a person locks himself in their home, it might be reasonable to break open the door, but probably not to smash a hole in the wall,” it advises.

Details of the new guidelines were obtained under freedom of information laws. They say homes should not be broken into when nobody is in. Reasonable grounds for breaking down the door include the “movement of a curtain”, a radio being heard or a figure being spotted inside which “may be the offender”.

It is claimed these powers are already abused. In one case, an 89-year-old grandmother returned home to find a bailiff sitting in her chair having drawn up a list of her possessions. He was pursuing a parking fine owed by her son, who did not even live at the address.

* Have your say

So sorry to hear you have no weapons anymore. This will come to America soon

Bill, Bay Minette, USA

Whatever you think of the conservatives for god sake vote for them. This could happen to any one of us, a mistaken address, a previous owner in debt , a malicious person, we are all at risk from this legislation as a result of this incompetent government..

mark, maidsto

News you WANT to read: Local Heroes

Almost all real heroes are local heroes. Men and women who act on their beliefs, knowing the consequences they may bring upon themselves, stand up, first alone, then together. This is a story of such a man and the movement that has emerged from his courage.

Take Back the Land:
Miami Grassroots Group Moves
Struggling Families into Vacant Homes


The Miami grassroots group Take Back the Land has launched a campaign to help some of the victims of the foreclosure crisis. The group has been helping homeless families illegally move into vacant homes that have been foreclosed. We speak to Take Back the Land founder Max Rameau.


Max Rameau, Miami-based activist and organizer with Take Back the Land

JUAN GONZALEZ: Earlier this week, President-elect Barack Obama nominated Shaun Donovan to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development. One of Donovan’s main challenges will be dealing with the foreclosure crisis. An estimated 2.5 million homes have been foreclosed this year. One of the hardest-hit states has been Florida. Over 40,000 homes have been foreclosed in Miami-Dade County alone.

One grassroots group in Miami called Take Back the Land has launched a campaign to help some of the victims of the foreclosure crisis. The group, led by activist Max Rameau, has been helping homeless families illegally move into vacant homes that have been foreclosed. Two years ago, Rameau helped build the Umoja Village Shantytown that housed hundreds of homeless men and women. He is the author of the book Take Back the Land: Land Gentrification and the Umoja Village Shantytown.

AMY GOODMAN: Max Rameau joins us now from Miami. We welcome you to Democracy Now! Max, tell us exactly what you’re doing right now to deal with the foreclosure crisis.

MAX RAMEAU: Well, there are a lot of vacant homes in Miami, and so this is creating all kinds of problems in our community. But the worst thing is that there’s all these vacant homes while there are people literally across the street sometimes sleeping in parks and in empty lots. So, Take Back the Land is identifying vacant government-owned and foreclosed homes. We’re going into them, we’re cleaning them up, and we’re moving homeless families into those homes so that they have a place to stay.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Max, back in the 1970s, there was a similar problem with a lot of federally owned houses after the big FHA mortgage crisis. And there were squatters’ movements around the country. What’s been the reaction of local officials to this movement that you’ve started?

MAX RAMEAU: Well, we haven’t had a whole lot of reaction. Up until last week, there was really no reaction at all. And, of course, people were aware of what we were doing when we started this in October of 2007. We did so very openly and very publicly, and we had a big feature in the local newspaper about it, so that it wasn’t like we were keeping this secret or anything, and our activities were very well known.

However, last weekend, one of the homes that we moved a family in, this family identified themselves publicly and has done media and did not conceal their identity at all. The police chief of the city of Miami did send over two officers last week to check on the house and to look around in order to advance his own investigation of what was happening, and we had to respond to questions about what was going on.

But I will say that I think the crisis is at such a level right now that I don’t think there’s going to be a whole lot of public appetite for the police doing a widespread crackdown on this kind of thing, given the fact that there are a whole lot of people who need homes, there’s a whole lot of empty homes, and there’s a whole lot of money that’s being shoveled over to the banks. So the banks have all this money, and they don’t even have to give up the homes. They get both the money and the homes. So I think that the police are being used as a tool for the banks so that the banks can keep these places vacant and cash in on them a little bit later. I don’t think there’s going to be a whole lot of public sympathy for that position.

AMY GOODMAN: What has been the response overall? The press? The authorities? And how many people have you found homes for?

MAX RAMEAU: Well, the authorities, we haven’t had much response from at all, except for that one incident last week, which, you know, didn’t amount to anything but a fact-finding mission.

The general public has been very responsive to it. Obviously, we go and we talk to the neighbors before we move people into these homes, because we’re not only trying to improve the lives of these individuals, we also want to improve our communities, the communities that, you know, I live in and that we live in. So we feel that having the neighbors a part of the process is a very important part of this campaign. And the general public, I think, supports it, because they recognize that there is a real crisis here, and these houses are not doing anything good.

I think what’s happening is we’re having a—approaching a real clash between two rights, or at least perceived rights. One is the right of human beings to have housing, and the other is the right of corporations to make a profit. And there’s a clash going on between these two rights, or perceived rights, and the society is starting to work out which one it thinks is the most important right. And we are asserting that the right of human beings to housing supersedes the right of corporations to make a profit. And I think people are starting to come to that same conclusion.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And the impact on Miami-Dade of this phenomenal increase in foreclosures?

MAX RAMEAU: Well, obviously, there’s a lot of people who are hurting. There’s a lot of families who are being forced out and becoming homeless or being forced to move in with other relatives. And so, what’s happening is you have a two-bedroom house that has a family, you know, couple and the child, and then suddenly a brother or sister or another child and their children move into the place. There’s a lot of overcrowding going on. There’s a lot of deterioration of property, because there’s too many people living there. There’s a lot of people in really, really desperate situations. And getting a financial break of a month, two months, six months, eight months, however the time will be, where they don’t have to pay rent and they can save up money, I think is a big help.

But this crisis is absolutely devastating, and I think it’s compounded by the fact that government on every level—the federal, state and local—has not only failed to do anything to alleviate the crisis, they’ve actually played a very active role in exacerbating the crisis. And I think people understand that and are very upset by that. So this has really been devastating for a lot, a lot of people.
AMY GOODMAN: It’s very interesting to see this model being used in other places. In Cleveland, advocates are working with the city to allow homeless people to legally move into and repair empty dilapidated houses. In Atlanta, some property owners pay homeless people to live in abandoned homes as a security measure. I’m looking at an AP piece. Talk about Marie Nadine Pierre, the woman who was sleeping in a shelter with her child, and the house you moved her into. And we only have about a minute to go. Describe that situation.

MAX RAMEAU: Well, first of all, a lot of those things are happening here also in Miami, where homeless people—we have several people who are in these homes, you know, somewhat protecting them, I guess, from squatters, by being allowed to move there. Of course, their status there is still very shaky.

With the shelter system here, once you’re in the homeless assistance center in Miami for thirty days, the shelter kicks you out for thirty more days. So, in other words, you go in there for thirty days, they kick you out, and they say, “You can come back again after you spend thirty days on the street, if you have nowhere else to go.” And that is exactly what happened to Marie Nadine Pierre. She got kicked out, and she contacted us right before she did. And so, the day she got kicked out, she was moved into a place where she was able to stay herself. So she would have spent thirty more days on the street, with her and her children. And luckily, she was able to avoid doing that. Now she’s staying in a home that otherwise would have been completely and totally vacant and not doing [inaudible].

AMY GOODMAN: And that house, you know the house well?

MAX RAMEAU: Yes, I do know the house well. In fact, my friends rented the house out, and the landlord, of course, you know, took out one of these bogus mortgages, where they, you know, winked at the mortgage broker and the mortgage broker winked right back. And he said, “You know, I’m willing to take this mortgage that I know I can’t afford, if the bank is willing to give me the money.” And, of course, the bank was more than willing to give them the money.

And so, I’ve been to that house many times visiting friends, and each one of the residents of that house have volunteered at one point or another for Take Back the Land. And they were very happy to make that place available for a family, rather than stay empty so that a bank can cash in. Lehman Brothers, in fact, owns the house, the Lehman Brothers corporation, so we’ve been very happy a family got to use it.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’re going to have to leave it there, Max Rameau. The Lehman Brothers corporation that, well, supposedly doesn’t quite exist anymore. Max Rameau, Miami-based activist and organizer of Take Back the Land.


Homeless woman burns to death

Homelessness increases

Man executes bailout plan of his own
on Miami's empty streets

Video of Max Rameau

Free the land

Umoja village

M-D Green Party Supports Housing Rights Advocates

From ashes, the courageous seed

Take Back the Land Website

Take back the land photo gallery


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