Saturday, April 22, 2006

Too Funny


I just love that license tag - C(hicken) HAWK. Goes well with the Bush/Cheney '04 sticker.

"I'm the Decider" (lyrics)

You can listen to the tune here.
The Decider

I am me and Rummy's he, Iraq is free and we are all together
See the world run when Dick shoots his gun, see how I lie
I'm Lying...

Sitting on my own brain, waiting for the end of days
Corporation profits, Bloody oil money
I'm above the law and I'll decide what's right or wrong

I am the egg head, I'm the Commander, I'm the Decider
Koo-Koo-Kachoo

Baghdad city policeman sitting pretty little targets in a row
See how they die when the shrapnel flies see mothers cry
I'm Lying...I'm Ly-ing...I'm Lying...I'm Ly-ing

Yellow cake plutonium, imaginary WMD's
Declassifying facts, exposing secret agents
Tax cuts for the wealthy leaving all the poor behind

CHORUS

Sitting in the White house garden talking to the Lord
My thoughts would be busy busy hatching If I only had a brain

CHORUS

(courtesy of Paul Hipp)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Bu$hCo polling at 33%

When Dear Leader's Ministry of Propaganda says his numbers are tanking, he must be doing truly horribly. Apparently, he's even polling below the 70% approval mark among Republicans - and those are practically the only potential voters his party has left for the upcoming midterms. If the Dems somehow take either the House or Senate this November, it won't be due to their own inspiring ideas (they've been pretty underwhelming in my opinion) but due to the overwhelmingly awful stewardship of the GOP over the last several years.

If you want to see the FauxNews article, Independent Christian Voice has a link to it, as well as a clip with the pertinent info.

Getting a bit hot in the kitchen? Grand Jury hears evidence against Rove

Just as the news broke Wednesday about Scott McClellan resigning as White House press secretary and Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove shedding some of his policy duties, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald met with the grand jury hearing evidence in the CIA leak case and introduced additional evidence against Rove, attorneys and other US officials close to the investigation said.

The grand jury session in federal court in Washington, DC, sources close to the case said, was the first time this year that Fitzgerald told the jurors that he would soon present them with a list of criminal charges he intends to file against Rove in hopes of having the grand jury return a multi-count indictment against Rove.

In an interview Wednesday, Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, confirmed that Rove remains a "subject" of Fitzgerald's two-year-old probe.

"Mr. Rove is still a subject of the investigation," Luskin said. In a previous interview, Luskin asserted that Rove would not be indicted by Fitzgerald, but he was unwilling to make that prediction again Wednesday.

"Mr. Fitzgerald hasn't made any decision on the charges and I can't speculate what the outcome will be," Luskin said. "Mr. Rove has cooperated completely with the investigation."

Fitzgerald is said to have introduced more evidence Wednesday alleging Rove lied to FBI investigators and the grand jury when he was questioned about how he found out that Valerie Plame Wilson worked for the CIA and whether he shared that information with the media, attorneys close to the case said.

Fitzgerald told the grand jury that Rove lied to investigators and the prosecutor eight out of the nine times he was questioned about the leak and also tried to cover-up his role in disseminating Plame Wilson's CIA status to at least two reporters.

Additionally, an FBI investigator reread to jurors testimony from other witnesses in the case that purportedly implicates Rove in playing a role in the leak and the campaign to discredit Plame Wilson's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, whose criticism of the Bush administration's pre-war Iraq intelligence lead to his wife being unmasked as a covert CIA operative.

Luskin said Rove has not discussed any plea deal with Fitzgerald.

Nerdified link.

That would help to explain the recent change in Herr Rove's job description. Looks to be an interesting spring.

Creating the Zeitgeist for genocide

Michael Savage:
There are too many RDDBs [red-diaper doper babies, Savage's term for people supposedly raised by Marxist parents] in high places and in the media and in the courts for us to stand up to this fanatical enemy. And so unless the RDDB is reined in somehow or taken out of power, we're going to die as a nation. I swear to God that's what people are saying to me. And these are intelligent people, wealthy people. They are very depressed by the weakness that America is showing to these psychotics in the Muslim world. They say, "Oh, there's a billion of them." I said, "So, kill 100 million of them, then there'll be 900 million of them." I mean, would you rather die -- would you rather us die than them? I mean, what is it going to take for you people to wake up? Would you rather we disappear or we die? Or would you rather they disappear and they die? Because you're going to have to make that choice sooner rather than later.

Kurt Nimmo puts this quote in historical perspective:
In other words, [Savage] is calling for an act of genocide that would best Mao’s “Great Leap Forward” into mass murder (49,000,000), Stalin’s various famines and purges (13,000,000), Adolf Hitler’s Nazi killing spree (12,000,000), and Pol Pot’s “Year Zero” (1,700,000), to list the most infamous.

Of course Savage is far from the only right-winger on talk radio and Faux News (and blogtopia for that matter) to make such pronouncements. Around the same period we have Michelle Malkin targeting specific individuals (who I understand had organized anti-military protests at UC-Santa Cruz) on her blog by posting their names and phone numbers.

As David Neiwert notes, such commentary does facilitate the development of the sort of cultural Zeitgeist necessary for acts of genocide to occur. Apparently Rwanda had its own equivalents to Malkin & Savage in the years immediately preceding the terrible genocide that occurred in the mid 1990s. It's a Zeitgeist characterized by fear and loathing, of dehumanization of another group of people, and increased use of violent propaganda. In other words, we are witnessing the presence some of the psychological conditions that inhibit empathy, that foster a psychological distance between one group of people and their probable victims.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The consequences of falling behind

Given Bu$hCo's general hostility toward the sciences, I found Junior's latest remarks amusing:
Washington, April 19: President George W Bush has warned the country's schoolchildren that if they did not have the skills needed to compete with their counterparts from India and China, new jobs would go to those countries.

The President was addressing a magnet school in Rockville, Maryland, on Tuesday, stressing among other things, the criticality of such subjects as Mathematics and Science.

"If you're living in Midland, Texas, or living in Montgomery County, Maryland, it's important to understand, if children don't have those skill sets needed to compete with a child from India or a child from China, the new jobs will be going there," Bush told the students.

That our nation has been lagging in math and science education is hardly a new phenomenon. That has been a problem for as long as I can recall. The consequences are catching up to us. There has been a downward trend in college graduates at all levels in the basic sciences, and not too surprisingly the nations taking the lead in those sciences are Asian (e.g., India, South Korea) as we see a surge in research publications and a surge in inventions there as our own nation focuses its innovative energies on "creative financing."

The current climate is certainly chilly for scientists here these days. Federal funding for basic research is harder to come by, and scientists these days find their research must stay within increasingly narrow boundaries of political and theological correctness in order to have a hope in hell of receiving funding. In those sciences using human or animal test subjects, IRBs (Institutional Review Boards) can be just as much of a problem when the too many members of these committees are either unfamiliar with the way sciences work or are hostile to those sciences to begin with (either for political or for religious reasons). And although I generally hold a favorable opinion of IRBs and see the usefulness in having an effective means of maintaining high ethical research standards, too often I run into colleagues either in person or in newsletters from various organizations who have their own horror stories in which a particular study failed to get the IRB's approval over some arcane bit of trivia or misinterpretation of the research methods involved.

So it goes. Our nation has always had something of an anti-intellectual bias under the best of circumstances. Today, the basic sciences are viewed as unnecessary, and the contributions made by the sciences seem disconnected to the more "important" matters of playing that cool new videogame or salivating over the flavor of the week media sensation. In such an environment, a gradual brain-drain appears unavoidable.

A government and a culture (or at least a significant portion thereof) hostile to providing basic education in the sciences will not help matters. The current White House occupant himself is part of the problem. Our children are being left behind as funding for education continues to receive no more than lip service and lackluster support.

Petals for Peace - Any Okies Interested?

A brief description:
If you want to help stop the war in Iraq, here is an easy way for you to get involved. Spend a few minutes reading this diary.

Last month a local peace organization held a week-long picket of Rep. Mike Rogers' (R-MI) district office. As part of the picket, members of the peace community started delivering single flowers to Rogers' office, asking him to help stop the war. The idea was so popular and easy, passing citizens joined in. We ended up delivering about 14 dozen flowers in a three day period. We called the deliveries, "Petals for Peace."

Today we are continuing our campaign. And we've made it really easy for anyone, anywhere to participate. Here is what you need to do:

From Tuesday, April 18 through Friday, April 21, deliver a flower to Mike Rogers' Lansing office. You can make the delivery by phone, fax, mail or in person. Here's how:

By telephone -- Call Bancroft Flowers at (517) 371-4120. Order a $1 carnation for delivery to Rogers' office. They've agreed to waive the delivery charges.

By fax -- Draw a picture of a flower (don't worry too much about your artwork) and fax it to Rogers' Lansing office at (517) 702-8642. If you can't get through to the Lansing office (preferred), then you can fax it to the D.C. office at (202) 225-5820.

In person -- Buy your $1 carnation at Bancroft Flowers (1417 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing) and deliver it to Rogers' office (1327 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing), just one block away. This is the preferred method if you are in the greater Lansing area.

By mail -- Draw your flower and mail it to: U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, 1327 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing, Michigan 48912. Mailed flowers should be posted today (Tuesday) if possible.

If you like this idea, here are other ways you can help:

Recommend this diary so that it stays visible.
Cross-post it anywhere you like.
Send a flower on multiple days, if you wish.
Tell your friends and family about this.
Post comments to let us know how you've participated.
Or, e-mail me (tjayolson@hotmail.com) and let me know what you are doing. We are keeping track of our efforts as best we can.

Other notes:

Be kind. While Rogers has supported Bush and the war, his staff has been polite. We are trying to let Mr. Rogers understand that people are very tired of this war, and that he ought to consider representing the growing majority of the American public who want it to end.

Some have wanted to send other items. We've had commitments to send pies and cacti. Also, some might prefer to send bouquets or roses. Bancrofts has also been very kind in this campaign, so I have no problem if you want to reward their kindness. (But this effort has nothing to do with money -- it is all about a grass-roots way to try to communicate with a Congressman who could help change the world by changing his mind).

In addition to much local support, this effort has grown with national and international support. So far in March and April we have had deliveries (or promises to deliver) from Australia, Spain, Argentina, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Arizona. One person in D.C. will be delivering to his Washington office.

For those who don't like the idea of giving a gift to someone who has been a loyal supporter of Bush and the war, I can assure you that Mr. Rogers understands the context of these flowers from our ongoing campaign. I'll be delivering a letter (specifically, we are asking him to support legislation to stop the war) along with my own flower today. So rest assured, even if you say nothing with your delivery, your point will be made.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. And thanks to those of you who will be participating.

From the mailbag, I noticed some talk of targeting other legislators. Word up to fellow Okie bloggers: anyone interested in taking this on? This could be a decent direct action for those who happen to be nearby the local offices of the various US Reps and our two US Senators. I'd certainly be willing to help out to whatever extent I can from my own isolated locale.

Postscript: Resources for Groupthink

Psychologists for Social Responsibility have a Groupthink Vaccine. The organization also has some handy resources, including a "booster shot" (actually a quiz testing your knowledge of groupthink), as well as an overview of groupthink (including a link to their powerpoint presentation).

Historical Anniversary Edition

This week marks the 45th anniversary of the Bay of Pigs invasion. I usually discuss in my social psychology and industrial psychology courses the decision by the Kennedy administration to invade Cuba as a prime example of groupthink, and the resultant failure as a consequence of the hubris and excessive riskiness of decisions made under groupthink conditions.

This is a particularly timely anniversary as the current White House occupant's decision to invade and occupy Iraq a few years back appears to have a lot of the characteristics of groupthink (see Ron Suskind's The Price of Loyalty and Sy Hersh's Chain of Command as good background material). The anniversary is equally timely as there are rumblings of a military strike against Iran from the same White House regime, once again acting from within what appears to be a dissent-free bubble.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

How many more Fallujahs?

A scathing column by Chris Floyd, Global Eye - Dead Cities:
Of all the war crimes that have flowed from the originating crime of President George W. Bush's unprovoked invasion of Iraq, perhaps the most flagrant was the destruction of Fallujah in November 2004. Now, as ignominious defeat looms for Bush's Babylonian folly, some of the key players in fomenting the war are urging that the "Fallujah Option" be applied to an even bigger target: Baghdad.

What these influential warmongers openly call for is the "pacification" of Baghdad: a brutal firestorm by U.S. forces, ravaging both Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias in a "horrific" operation that will inevitably lead to "skyrocketing body counts," as warhawk Reuel Marc Gerecht cheerfully wrote last week in the ever-bloodthirsty editorial pages of The Wall Street Journal. Gerecht's war whoop quickly ricocheted around the right-wing media echo chamber and gave public voice to the private counsels emanating from a group whose members now comprise the leadership of the U.S. government: The Project for the New American Century.

[...]

One of Gerecht's main reasons for "pacifying" Baghdad in a hydra-headed war on every ethnic faction is because "the U.S. media will never write many optimistic stories about Iraq if journalists fear going outside" the city's fortified Green Zone. There you have the Bushist vision in a nutshell. The war is not actually happening in the real world, where real people are dying by the tens of thousands; no, it's really being fought on the monitors of Fox News, CNN and NBC, in the flimsy pages of The New York Times and The Washington Post, and on the overheated airwaves of talk radio. Baghdad must be pacified -- like Grozny, like Guernica -- so that Americans can see a few more peppy stories on the tube on their way to the ballgame or the mall.

The fate of Fallujah provides a template of the grim fate awaiting Baghdad if Gerecht and the government P-Nackers have their way. Fallujah was encircled in a ring of iron; water, electricity and food supplies were cut off, a flagrant war crime. The city was bombed for eight weeks, then hit by an all-out ground attack with both conventional and chemical weapons -- white phosphorous and napalm -- that killed thousands of civilians and left more than 200,000 homeless. Among the first targets were Fallujah's hospitals and clinics, another flagrant war crime. Some were destroyed, killing doctors and patients alike, others seized and closed, all in order to prevent any stories about civilian casualties from reaching the Western media, the Pentagon's "information warfare" specialists told The New York Times. Once again, manufactured image trumped bloodstained reality.

Perhaps this cup will pass from Baghdad. Perhaps Bush and his P-Nackers will instead move forward with their frenzied plans for a nuclear strike on Iran, as The New Yorker reported last week. But Gerecht's article is a perfect snapshot of the depraved minds that now rule America. Somewhere, somehow -- and soon -- another city is going to die.
The continuation of these types of conflagrations will serve no other purpose than to prop up a failed government in the US and perhaps the fragile egos of those needing to believe in the myth of American exceptionalism. You can hold on to that belief if you want to, but when the truth hits the fan...

Once around the internets

Links to a few things that caught my eye:

Truthout tells us of a State Department memo had already told the CIA that the documents claiming Iraq's alleged efforts to purchase uranium from Nigeria were forgeries. Bush should have already known by the time of the January 28, 2003 SOTU address that those "16 words" he would utter were false.

Of course, there is still that on-going war on truth in Iraq, as Dahr Jamail notes.

The Iraq debacle has permanently tainted Donald Rumsfeld, to which we say, boo-hoo.

The looming specter of a US attack on Iran is driving the price of oil to record levels.

Junior Caligula continues his sabre-rattling, claiming that a nuclear attack is still an option.

At the same time, GOP Senator Lugar is urging the White House to cool it, when it comes to all that Iran war talk.

And Norman Solomon wonders when Moveon.org will get a clue and oppose more than just a nuclear strike against Iran.

Insanity

Link: Steve Forbes: “When We Have The Confrontation” With Iran, “The Price of Oil Will Come Down” | ThinkProgress.org

Appearing on Fox News this weekend, Steve Forbes said the way to lower gas prices is to "have the confrontation with Iran." Forbes warned Fox viewers that "the longer we let it fester, the higher the price of oil will stay.

VIDEO

Hat tip to Earthside.

A more rational approach? Reduce consumption. Think about that next time you get into your SUV.

Why We Fight:

It is nowhere written that the American empire goes on forever.

Why We Fight is a provocative new documentary from acclaimed filmmaker Eugene Jarecki (The Trials of Henry Kissinger) and winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival.

Named after the series of short films by legendary director Frank Capra that explored America’s reasons for entering World War II, Why We Fight surveys a half-century of military conflicts, asking how – and answering why – a nation of, by and for the people has become the savings-and-loan of a government system whose survival depends on an Orwellian state of constant war.

Why We Fight features interviews and observations by a "who’s who" of military and Washington insiders including Senator John McCain, Gore Vidal, and Dan Rather. Beginning with President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s prescient 1961 speech warning of the rise of the "military industrial complex," Why We Fight moves far beyond the headlines of various American military operations to the deeper questions of why America seemingly is always at war. What are the forces – political, economic, and ideological – that drive us to clash against an ever-changing enemy? Just why does America fight? Unforgettable, powerful and at times disturbing.

DVD available here.

You can watch the documentary via Empire Burlesque.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Monday morning dog blogging open thread

This is Snickers. My wife adopted her a few weeks ago. She was born January 28 (so we share a birthday), so she's only about 2.5 months old. She's some sort of Shepherd mix, according to the ASPCA folks. Although I'm normally not much of a dog person, we've become fast friends.

Consider this an open thread. What's on your mind?

African National Congress: An Inspiration for Palestinians

Note: Given that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and its treatment of Palestinians has been likened to the former Apartheid regime in South Africa, it makes perfect sense for activists to draw inspiration from the ANC and its efforts to abolish Apartheid.

Bangani Ngeleza and Adri Nieuwhof, The Electronic Intifada, 9 April 2006

Palestinians are crossing Qalandia checkpoint
through the new wired way which has been
built after the closing of the wall within a night,
in the West Bank town of Ramallah August 30,
2005. (MAANnews/Charlotte de Bellabre)

On March 28, Rifat Odeh Kassis wrote in his contribution Fatah Chapter Closed: Creating a Palestinian National Congress that a different political body must be build to represent the Palestinian people everywhere. "A body, which will reorganise the Paletinian struggle to achieve its aims." In response we analyse the history of the struggle for freedom and democracy of the South African National Congress (ANC) in order to inspire Palestinians to explore new strategies. The information available on the website of the ANC has been of great value in writing this article.[1]

The ANC is formed in 1912

African kingdoms fought the Dutch (Boer) and British white settlers over land and cattle for over 230 years. In the 1860's Britain brought large armies with horses and modern weapons to enforce control over South Africa. By 1900 Britain had broken the power of the African kingdoms. In 1910 Britain handed over the power to the Boer and British settlers. The union of South Africa was created that only recognised the rights of white people.

Black South Africans had to find new ways to fight for their land and their freedom. In 1911, Pixley ka Isaka Seme called on Africans to forget the differences of the past and unite together in one national organisation. He said: "We are one people. these divisions, these jealousies, are the cause of all our woes today."

On 8 January 1912, chiefs, representatives of people's and church organisations, and other prominent individuals gathered in Bloemfontein and formed the African National Congress. The ANC declared its aim to bring all Africans together as one people to defend their rights and freedoms.

Between 1912 and 1948 the ANC's approach favoured dialogue. During this time the leadership of the ANC believed in the humanity of whites in South Africa. They believed in the possibility of reaching a just settlement through persuasion. These beliefs were rebutted by a racist regime that persisted with its policies of dispossession. The pursuit of a solution through dialogue was never abandoned by the ANC, but it was later supplemented by other strategies directed at putting pressure on the regime to come to the negotiating table. Dialogue thus remained the ANC's first pillar in its liberation struggle.

New energy from the youth

With increasing attacks on the rights of black people and after the declaration of Apartheid as state policy, the ANC Youth League, under the leadership of, amongst others, Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and Oliver Tambo started to agitate within the ANC for a change in strategy. They saw a need for a more militant response from the ANC. The Youth League drew up a Programme of Action[2] calling for strikes, boycotts and defiance. It was adopted by the ANC in 1949, the year after the National party came to power. The Defiance Campaign was one of the first major campaigns to resist apartheid that was organised.

With the Defiance Campaign a mass movement of resistance to apartheid emerged. Apartheid aimed to separate the different race groups completely through laws including strict pass laws and forced removals. "Non-Europeans" walked through "Europeans Only" entrances and demanded service at "White's Only" counters of post offices. Africans broke the pass laws and Indian, Coloured and White "volunteers" entered African townships without permission. The success of the Defiance Campaign encouraged further campaigns against apartheid laws.

The apartheid government tried to stop the Defiance Campaign by banning its leaders and passing new laws to prevent public disobedience. However, the campaign had already made huge gains. It brought closer co-operation between the ANC and the SA Indian Congress, increased their membership and led to the formation of new organisations. All organisations came together to organise a conference of all the people of South Africa, which presented people's demands for the kind of South Africa they wanted. At the Congress of the People at Kliptown on the 26th June 1955 the Freedom Charter, which expressed the demands of the people, was adopted [3]

Anti-pass campaigns were taken up in 1960. On the 21st March people were asked to leave their passes at home and gather at police stations to be arrested. In Sharpville the police opened fire on the unarmed and peaceful crowd, killing 69 and wounding 186. This brought an end to a decade of peaceful protest. The ANC and the PAC. Were banned and thousands activists were arrested.

In 1960 Umkhonto WeSizwe[4], the armed wing of the ANC, was founded. Its main target was attacking symbols of oppression, and not people. From 1960 - nearly 50 years after the formation of the ANC - until its integration into the South African National Defence Force in 1994, armed resistance was the second pillar of the ANC's liberation struggle.

Mass mobilisation

The two pillars of dialogue and armed resistance have contributed to the ultimate demise of apartheid, but by far the most significant pillar was that of mass mobilisation inside the country, the third pillar Early ANC campaigns such as the defiance campaign against unjust laws of the 1950s were informed by the analysis that it is the masses of the oppressed themselves who will determine the course of their liberation. The height of mass mobilisation was the formation of the Mass Democratic Movement (MDM) in the 80s. This movement was formed to fill a void that was left by the banning of political activity and political formations, including the ANC. The MDM brought together all formations that were opposed to apartheid, including trade unions, students' organisations, women's organisations, NGOs, civic structures, academic formations, sympathetic business structures, etc. These were all brought together under the banner of the United Democratic Front (UDF). Some of the campaigns that were organised included the million signature campaign denouncing apartheid in 1984. Two years later, the largest stay away in the history of South Africa took place. Other actions included a rent boycott in Soweto and a two day strike to protest the exclusion of Black people from parliamentary elections.

These are a few examples of how the MDM maintained an internal boycott campaign, which was the major spur to an overwhelming international response that saw the imposition of a comprehensive embargo against South Africa.

International pressure and solidarity

With calls for campaigns for international support and assistance from the rest of the world the fourth pillar in the struggle was a fact. Already in 1959, Chief Albert Luthuli, then president of the ANC, asked the British people to boycott South Africa, stating that "...non-white South Africans have responded to attacks on them by sending deputations and submitted petitions to the authorities... When these approaches were unsuccessful, they turned to passive resistance and then boycott"[5]. From this point onwards, the ANC sent delegations to address the international community on the need to isolate the Apartheid regime. In 1962 an appeal for action in the United States against apartheid was launched by Chief Luthuli and Martin Luther King. The call for international pressure through boycotts, sanctions and divestment became an important fourth pillar of the ANC's struggle for democracy.

International pressure gained momentum and in 1969 revolving credit loans by US banks amounting to US$40m were terminated when institutions and individuals withdrew about US$23 million from the banks concerned. In 1973, loans of about US$70m by a consortium of US and European banks were also terminated. This trend continued and South Africa declared a debt standstill in 1985, due to capital flight.

The impact of calls for boycotts, sanctions and divestments against an oppressive regime often takes decades to show, but once results can be seen, they act as an "avalanche" whose end is the demise of the oppressive regime.

The success of calls for international isolation was partly due to the role that was played by South Africans in exile. They worked tirelessly at raising the level of awareness of the international community to the atrocities being committed by the apartheid regime.

The power lies in the vision

The Freedom Charter clearly expressed the vision for the future of the South African people. I states: We, the People of South Africa, declare for all our country and the world to know: that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people; that our people have been robbed of their birthright to land, liberty and peace by a form of government founded on injustice and inequality; that our country will never be prosperous or free until all our people live in brotherhood, enjoying equal rights and opportunities; that only a democratic state, based on the will of all the people, can secure to all their birthright without distinction of colour, race, sex or belief; And therefore, we, the people of South Africa, black and white together equals, countrymen and brothers adopt this Freedom Charter; And we pledge ourselves to strive together, sparing neither strength nor courage, until the democratic changes here set out have been won.

In 1958 ANC president Chief Albert Luthuli held a speech titled "Our Vision is a Democratic Society". He said: One might ask, "Is this vision of a democratic society in South Africa a realisable vision? Or is it merely a mirage?" I say, it is a realisable vision. For it is in the nature of man, to yearn and struggle for freedom. The germ of freedom is in every individual, in anyone who is a human being. In fact, the history of mankind is the history of man struggling and striving for freedom. Indeed, the very apex of human achievement is freedom and not slavery. Every human being struggles to reach that apex.[6]

He was right.

Bangani Ngeleza and Adri Nieuwhof are independent consultants and human rights advocates from respectively South Africa and the Netherlands.

Endnotes

[1] Umzabalazo: A history of the African National Congress

[2] Programme of Action: Statement of Policy Adopted at the ANC Annual Conference (17 December 1949)

[3] The Freedom Charter, Adopted at the Congress of the People, Kliptown (26 June 1955)

[4] Manifesto of Umkhonto we Sizwe, Leaflet issued by the Command of Umkhonto we Sizwe (16 December 1961)

[5] Statement by Albert Luthuli (Jointly with Dr G.M Naicker and Peter Brown) appealing to the British people to boycott South Africa.

[6] Our Vision is a Democratic Society, Speech at a public meeting organized by the South African Congress of Democrats in Johannesburg in 1958 to hear the President General of the African National Congress. Chief Lutuli was served with banning orders soon after this speech.


Nerdified link

Three articles regarding Palestine

Gaza on brink of implosion as aid cut-off starts to bite

Prodi quickly caught in row over remarks about Hamas


Petition: Gaza shelling illegal

Just a quick personal observation.

The Israeli government has learned well from their fore-runners who settled the Americas, and South Africa; and although their predecessors' success at genocide have varied considerably - I am sure that Israel has learned well from their predecessors' mistakes. Ingratiating one's government with the dominant world powers is certainly one thing that the Israelis have done with amazing success when it comes to getting complicity as that "little matter of genocide" in Palestine continues unabated.

It is frustrating, to say the least, that one cannot criticize the atrocities committed daily by the occupying Israeli government without being smeared as an anti-semite, along with facing potentially crippling threats to one's career in the process (especially in politics and academe).

And yet speak out we must. At bare minimum, the Israeli government needs to be held to the same standards regarding human rights that are expected of other nations. We've had US-led wars justified by such issues as "ethnic cleansing" (does the Balkans come to mind during the Clinton regime?) and yet Israel is well into the process of its own ethnic cleansing, which its government continues to allow with impunity. Iraq was invaded ostensibly over WMDs amd Iran is currently being threatened by the US over its alleged nuclear threat - and yet it's taken for granted that Israel has been hording its own nukes for quite some time.

I suspect that the Israeli government will continue to act with impunity for as long as its most powerful ally, the US, remains a permanent member of the UN Security Council - a position that itself should be called into question given the threat to world security that the current US government poses.

As long as the status quo remains, the cycle of violence in Palestine/Israel will continue. So, where's the change?

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Good resource as the drumbeats toward war in Iran grow louder

The Guardian (UK) has a section called Special Report: Iran that has an up-to-date roundup on the growing largely US-created crisis. And although current PM Tony Blair is apparently balking at participating in a future armed conflict in Iran, there is the disquieting story of Britain participating in a mock Iran invasion.

Quotable: Easter Edition

For the Bush crowd of Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld and their minions forgiveness is not possible. They will find no salvation or redemption, only the fires of hell.

-- Bud McClure

To that I say, Amen!

The New Ozymandias

Remember reading that Percy Bysshe Shelley poem in high school? Someone named occam's hatchet gives the poem a fresh look with Bu$hCo era visuals to accompany the words. Check it out.

Rude Pundit Sez: "Republicans Hate the Children"

Why do Republicans hate the children so much? Why must they take joy in seeing the children suffer? Why do they want to rape the children, putting their foul Republican penises in the innocent orifices of the children, masturbating furiously in Republican rage at images of the children? Why, God, Jesus, Allah, whoever, or no one, why do Republicans want the children to die of brain tumors by forcing them to go to inferior hospitals? Why do Republicans want the children of the poor to starve and then receive little or no medical care? Why do Republican judges want to strip search them and/or send them to jail for eating french fries on the subways of the mighty cities? It should make us all weep, weep, the Rude Pundit says, bitter tears at the craven depravity with which Republicans assault the children on a continual basis.

For instance, what kind of fucked up pit o' pedophilia is running out of the Department of Homeland Security, where creepy deputy press secretary Brian Doyle worked before being arrested for (among other things) soliciting nude pictures from a 14-year old girl (who, in a motif for the day, was said to have been a cancer survivor) who happened to really be a male Florida detective with larger boobs than the fantasy adolescent might have had; where the guy who ran DHS's Operation Predator, assigned to catch child sex criminals, Frank Figueroa, pleaded no contest to charges that he jacked off in front of a 16 year old girl for ten minutes at an Orlando mall (the kicker here being that he had been arrested before in 1977 for a similar crime in New York); and Michael Burks, begging a cop for mercy and swearing on his St. Michael medallion that he wasn't gonna fuck a child in California. Wondering if the agents of the DHS are gonna fuck your kids is a little like wondering if your vet's gonna fuck your dog - sure, it's possible, but you kinda trust it not to happen or else what are you gonna believe in this paranoid world?

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But, really, he's just acting like a Republican, is he not? People who would like to break up families because the children are Americans and the parents are not, who want to arrest kids for listening to bad music or writing bad things. People who would, it seems, rather trawl the Internet, looking for children to exploit, rape, and abuse.

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What FEMA considers "habitable"


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