Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Smart People Are Better Able to Keep a Beat

In the intellectual hierarchy of rock and roll, drummers aren’t typically perceived as the most brilliant of band members. But a Swedish study published in April found that the ability to keep closely to a beat is a sign of superior intelligence. Investigators from Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and Umeå University asked 30 men recruited from the general population to listen to the steady clonk of a sampled cowbell and then tap out the same plain beat on a drum pad. The test was repeated at seven different tempos, and the results were then compared with the recruits’ IQ scores. Although the subjects’ deviations from the test rhythm were too subtle to be detected by the ear, the study found that the subjects with the highest IQs kept closest to the beat. “It’s an extremely simple and boring task—it doesn’t involve any kind of thinking,” says neurologist Fredrik Ullén of Karolinska Institute. Ullén and his colleagues designed the study to circumvent “top-down” powers of higher reasoning and test basic, “bottom-up” neurological functioning instead. The neural mechanisms that control the accuracy and stability of the subjects’ tapping operate below the level of conscious attention, the researchers claim, and reflect the precision of neural firing itself. Millisecond variations in neural activity are known to affect learning and information processing, so it makes sense that those with the best timing are also the brightest, the researchers say. Their brain networks probably have less “noise.” In areas of the brain previously linked to IQ, the star percussionists also had more white matter—the fatty material that sheathes connections between neurons and boosts signal speed—indicating a larger amount of neural hookups there. “In intelligence studies, distinguishing between top-down and bottom-up processes is damn difficult,” Ullén says. “I think we’re on to something.”

Letter to Bush on Gaza Crisis - by Ralph Nader

Dear George W. Bush--- Cong. Barney Frank said recently that Barack Obama’s declaration that “there is only one president at a time” over-estimated the number. He was referring to the economic crisis. But where are you on the Gaza crisis where the civilian population of Gaza, its civil servants and public facilities are being massacred and destroyed respectively by U.S built F-16s and U.S. built helicopter gunships. The deliberate suspension of your power to stop this terrorizing of 1.5 million people, mostly refugees, blockaded for months by air, sea and land in their tiny slice of land, is in cowardly contrast to the position taken by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956. That year he single handedly stopped the British, French and Israeli aircraft attack against Egypt during the Suez Canal dispute. Fatalities in Gaza are already over 400 and injuries close to 2000 so far as is known. Total Palestinian civilian casualties are 400 times greater then the casualties incurred by Israelis. But why should anyone be surprised at your blanket support for Israel’s attack given what you have done to a far greater number of civilians in Iraq and now in Afghanistan? Confirmed visual reports show that Israeli warplanes and warships have destroyed or severely damaged police stations, homes, hospitals, pharmacies, mosques, fishing boats, and a range of public facilities providing electricity and other necessities. Why should this trouble you at all? It violates international law, including the Geneva Conventions and the UN Charter. You too have repeatedly violated international law and committed serious constitutional transgressions. Then there is the matter of the Israeli government blocking imports of critical medicines, equipment such as dialysis machines, fuel, food, water, spare parts and electricity at varying intensities for almost two years. The depleted UN aid mission there has called this illegal blockade a humanitarian crisis especially devastating to children, the aged and the infirm. Chronic malnutrition among children is rising rapidly. UN rations support eighty percent of this impoverished population. How do these incontrovertible facts affect you? Do you have any empathy or what you have called Christian charity? What would a vastly shrunken Texas turned in an encircled Gulag do up against the 4th most powerful military in the world? Would these embattled Texans be spending their time chopping wood? Gideon Levy, the veteran Israeli columnist for Ha’aretz, called the Israeli attack a “brutal and violent operation” far beyond what was needed for protecting the people in its south. He added: “The diplomatic efforts were just in the beginning, and I believe we could have got to a new truce without this bloodshed… send dozens of jets to bomb a total helpless civilian society with hundreds of bombs—just today, they were burying five sisters. I mean, this is unheard of. This cannot go on like this. And this has nothing to do with self-defense or with retaliation even. It went out of proportion, exactly like two-and-a-half years ago in Lebanon.” Apparently, thousands of Israelis, including some army reservists, who have demonstrated against this destruction of Gaza agree with Mr. Levy. However, their courageous stands have not reached the mass media in the U.S. whose own reporters cannot even get into Gaza due to Israeli prohibitions on the international press. Your spokespeople are making much ado about the breaking of the six month truce. Who is the occupier? Who is the most powerful military force? Who controls and blocks the necessities of life? Who has sent raiding missions across the border most often? Who has sent artillery shells and missiles at close range into populated areas? Who has refused the repeated comprehensive peace offerings of the Arab countries issued in 2002 if Israel would agree to return to the 1967 borders and agree to the creation of a small independent Palestinian state possessing just twenty two percent of the original Palestine? The “wildly inaccurate rockets”, as reporters describe them, coming from Hamas and other groups cannot compare with the modern precision armaments and human damage generated from the Israeli side. There are no rockets coming from the West Bank into Israel. Yet the Israeli government is still sending raiders into that essentially occupied territory, still further entrenching its colonial outposts, still taking water and land and increasing the checkpoints This is going on despite a most amenable West Bank leader, Mahmoud Abbas, whom you have met with at the White House and praised repeatedly. Is it all vague words and no real initiatives with you and your emissary Condoleezza Rice? Peace was possible, but you provided no leadership, preferring instead to comply with all wishes and demands by the Israeli government—even resupplying it with the still active cluster bombs in south Lebanon during the invasion of that country in 2006. The arguments about who started the latest hostilities go on and on with Israel always blaming the Palestinians to justify all kinds of violence and harsh treatment against innocent civilians. From the Palestinian standpoint, you would do well to remember the origins of this conflict which was the dispossession of their lands. To afford you some empathy, recall the oft-quoted comment by the founder of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, who told the Zionist leader, Nahum Goldmann: “There has been anti-Semitism the Nazis Hitler Auschwitz but was that their [the Palestinians] fault? They only see one thing: We have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that?” Alfred North Whitehead once said: “Duty arises out of the power to alter the course of events.” By that standard, you have shirked mightily your duty over the past eight years to bring peace to both Palestinians and Israelis and more security to a good part of the world. The least you can do in your remaining days at the White House is adopt a modest profile in courage, and vigorously demand and secure a ceasefire and a solidly based truce. Then your successor, President-elect Obama can inherit something more than the usual self-censoring Washington puppet show that eschews a proper focus on the national interests of the United States. END.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The 10 Worst Corporations of 2008

What a Year for Corporate Criminality!

By ROBERT WEISSMAN; December 29, 2008 - Counterpunch

What a year for corporate criminality and malfeasance!

As we compiled the Multinational Monitor list of the 10 Worst Corporations of 2008, it would have been easy to restrict the awardees to Wall Street firms.

But the rest of the corporate sector was not on good behavior during 2008 either, and we didn't want them to escape justified scrutiny.

So, in keeping with our tradition of highlighting diverse forms of corporate wrongdoing, we included only one financial company on the 10 Worst list.

Here, presented in alphabetical order, are the 10 Worst Corporations of 2008.

AIG: Money for Nothing

There's surely no one party responsible for the ongoing global financial crisis. But if you had to pick a single responsible corporation, there's a very strong case to make for American International Group (AIG), which has already sucked up more than $150 billion in taxpayer supports. Through "credit default swaps," AIG basically collected insurance premiums while making the ridiculous assumption that it would never pay out on a failure -- let alone a collapse of the entire market it was insuring. When reality set in, the roof caved in.

Cargill: Food Profiteers

When food prices spiked in late 2007 and through the beginning of 2008, countries and poor consumers found themselves at the mercy of the global market and the giant trading companies that dominate it. As hunger rose and food riots broke out around the world, Cargill saw profits soar, tallying more than $1 billion in the second quarter of 2008 alone.

In a competitive market, would a grain-trading middleman make super-profits? Or would rising prices crimp the middleman's profit margin? Well, the global grain trade is not competitive, and the legal rules of the global economy-- devised at the behest of Cargill and friends -- ensure that poor countries will be dependent on, and at the mercy of, the global grain traders.

Chevron: "We can't let little countries screw around with big companies"

In 2001, Chevron swallowed up Texaco. It was happy to absorb the revenue streams. It has been less willing to take responsibility for Texaco's ecological and human rights abuses.

In 1993, 30,000 indigenous Ecuadorians filed a class action suit in U.S. courts, alleging that Texaco over a 20-year period had poisoned the land where they live and the waterways on which they rely, allowing billions of gallons of oil to spill and leaving hundreds of waste pits unlined and uncovered. Chevron had the case thrown out of U.S. courts, on the grounds that it should be litigated in Ecuador, closer to where the alleged harms occurred. But now the case is going badly for Chevron in Ecuador -- Chevron may be liable for more than $7 billion. So, the company is lobbying the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to impose trade sanctions on Ecuador if the Ecuadorian government does not make the case go away.

"We can't let little countries screw around with big companies like this -- companies that have made big investments around the world," a Chevron lobbyist said to Newsweek in August. (Chevron subsequently stated that the comments were not approved.)

Constellation Energy: Nuclear Operators

Although it is too dangerous, too expensive and too centralized to make sense as an energy source, nuclear power won't go away, thanks to equipment makers and utilities that find ways to make the public pay and pay.

Constellation Energy Group, the operator of the Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant in Maryland -- a company recently involved in a startling, partially derailed scheme to price gouge Maryland consumers -- plans to build a new reactor at Calvert Cliffs, potentially the first new reactor built in the United States since the near-meltdown at Three Mile Island in 1979.

It has lined up to take advantage of U.S. government-guaranteed loans for new nuclear construction, available under the terms of the 2005 Energy Act. The company acknowledges it could not proceed with construction without the government guarantee.

CNPC: Fueling Violence in Darfur

Sudan has been able to laugh off existing and threatened sanctions for the slaughter it has perpetrated in Darfur because of the huge support it receives from China, channeled above all through the Sudanese relationship with the Chinese National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC).

"The relationship between CNPC and Sudan is symbiotic," notes the Washington, D.C.-based Human Rights First, in a March 2008 report, "Investing in Tragedy." "Not only is CNPC the largest investor in the Sudanese oil sector, but Sudan is CNPC's largest market for overseas investment."

Oil money has fueled violence in Darfur. "The profitability of Sudan's oil sector has developed in close chronological step with the violence in Darfur," notes Human Rights First.

Dole: The Sour Taste of Pineapple

A 1988 Filipino land reform effort has proven a fraud. Plantation owners helped draft the law and invented ways to circumvent its purported purpose. Dole pineapple workers are among those paying the price.

Under the land reform, Dole's land was divided among its workers and others who had claims on the land prior to the pineapple giant. However, wealthy landlords maneuvered to gain control of the labor cooperatives the workers were required to form, Washington, D.C.-based International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) explains in an October report. Dole has slashed it regular workforce and replaced them with contract workers.

Contract workers are paid under a quota system, and earn about $1.85 a day, according to ILRF.

GE: Creative Accounting

In June, former New York Times reporter David Cay Johnston reported on internal General Electric documents that appeared to show the company had engaged in a long-running effort to evade taxes in Brazil. In a lengthy report in Tax Notes International, Johnston reported on a GE subsidiary's scheme to invoice suspiciously high sales volume for lighting equipment in lightly populated Amazon regions of the country. These sales would avoid higher value added taxes (VAT) in urban states, where sales would be expected to be greater.

Johnston wrote that the state-level VAT at issue, based on the internal documents he reviewed, appeared to be less than $100 million. But, he speculated, the overall scheme could have involved much more.

Johnston did not identify the source that gave him the internal GE documents, but GE has alleged it was a former company attorney, Adriana Koeck. GE fired Koeck in January 2007 for what it says were "performance reasons."

Imperial Sugar: 14 Dead

On February 7, an explosion rocked the Imperial Sugar refinery in Port Wentworth, Georgia, near Savannah. Days later, when the fire was finally extinguished and search-and-rescue operations completed, the horrible human toll was finally known: 14 dead, dozens badly burned and injured.

As with almost every industrial disaster, it turns out the tragedy was preventable. The cause was accumulated sugar dust, which like other forms of dust, is highly combustible.

A month after the Port Wentworth explosion, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspectors investigated another Imperial Sugar plant, in Gramercy, Louisiana. They found 1/4- to 2-inch accumulations of dust on electrical wiring and machinery. They found as much as 48-inch accumulations on workroom floors.

Imperial Sugar obviously knew of the conditions in its plants. It had in fact taken some measures to clean up operations prior to the explosion. The company brought in a new vice president to clean up operations in November 2007, and he took some important measures to improve conditions. But it wasn't enough. The vice president told a Congressional committee that top-level management had told him to tone down his demands for immediate action.

Philip Morris International: Unshackled

The old Philip Morris no longer exists. In March, the company formally divided itself into two separate entities: Philip Morris USA, which remains a part of the parent company Altria, and Philip Morris International. Philip Morris USA sells Marlboro and other cigarettes in the United States. Philip Morris International tramples the rest of the world.

Philip Morris International has already signaled its initial plans to subvert the most important policies to reduce smoking and the toll from tobacco-related disease (now at 5 million lives a year). The company has announced plans to inflict on the world an array of new products, packages and marketing efforts. These are designed to undermine smoke-free workplace rules, defeat tobacco taxes, segment markets with specially flavored products, offer flavored cigarettes sure to appeal to youth and overcome marketing restrictions.

Roche: "Saving lives is not our business"

The Swiss company Roche makes a range of HIV-related drugs. One of them is enfuvirtid, sold under the brand-name Fuzeon. Fuzeon brought in $266 million to Roche in 2007, though sales are declining.

Roche charges $25,000 a year for Fuzeon. It does not offer a discount price for developing countries.

Like most industrialized countries, Korea maintains a form of price controls -- the national health insurance program sets prices for medicines. The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Family Affairs listed Fuzeon at $18,000 a year. Korea's per capita income is roughly half that of the United States. Instead of providing Fuzeon, for a profit, at Korea's listed level, Roche refuses to make the drug available in Korea.

Korean activists report that the head of Roche Korea told them, "We are not in business to save lives, but to make money. Saving lives is not our business."

Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor and director of Essential Action.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Zapatistas Digna Rabia video


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Cantico del Sole, by Ezra Pound

The thought of what America would be like
If the Classics had a wide circulation
Troubles my sleep,
The thought of what America,
The thought of what America,The thought of what America would be like
If the Classics had a wide circulation
Troubles my sleep.
Nunc dimittis, now lettest thou thy servant,
Now lettest thou thy servant
Depart in peace.
The thought of what America,
The thought of what America,
The thought of what America would be like
If the Classics had a wide circulation...
Oh well!
It troubles my sleep.

Tenzin Gyatso Quote

"In the practice of tolerance, one's enemy is the best teacher."

The absurd persistence of domination: Of speciesism, capitalism, and shaking their foundations

December 28th, 2008


By Jason Miller Print This Post Print This Post


Even the most ardent reactionaries, deluded ‘patriots,’ and apathetic cynics, whose myopic, Panglossian perspectives ensure that they continue to reflexively genuflect to the deeply criminal enterprise of American Capitalism and rationalize the savage imperialism of US foreign policy, are beginning to concede that we are in the midst of a crisis of epic proportions.

So lack of awareness, which is usually the first obstacle to solving a problem, isn’t the real enemy here. Our chief foe is a swarm of greed-driven, self-absorbed, mean-spirited locust-like human beings who are dedicated to “reforming” and perpetuating capitalism, the very system that has led us to this woeful state of environmental, economic, social, and political affairs.

Capitalism, the systemization of greed, selfishness, subjugation, and exploitation camouflaged by the narcotic of consumerism, the irresistible illusion of equal opportunity for all, and its ostensible compatibility with liberal democracy, has seduced hundreds of millions of people into ignoring its contradictions, injustices, and malevolence.


Capitalism has inflicted deep wounds upon the Earth and is the persistent infection that must be eradicated to avert the sixth mass extinction, the ongoing torture and murder of billions of non-human animals, an acceleration of Climate Change, further economic collapse, mass starvation, severe shortages of potable water, perpetual resource wars, and a host of other catastrophic events.

While much of its foul stench emanates from the United States, the foul odor of capitalism has wafted its way into the nostrils of nearly every citizen on the globe. Capitalism’s cockroach-like apologists, propagandists, beneficiaries, enforcers, and power brokers scurry in and out of nearly every nook and cranny of the planet.


Cyrano’s Journal Online and its semi-autonomous subsections (Thomas Paine’s Corner, The Greanville Journal, CJO Avenger, Tant Mieux, and VoxPop) would be delighted to periodically email you links to the most recent material and timeless classics available on our diverse and comprehensive site. If you would like to subscribe, type “CJO subscription” in the subject line and send your email to


Global and dominant as it is, capitalism is the culmination and perpetuator of a number of vile social, economic, political, and cultural elements and dynamics, many of which began rearing their ugly heads with the advent of agriculture, domestication and civilization. Starting about 10,000 years ago, as humans became “civilized,” we alienated ourselves from nature, psychologically enabling us to exploit non-human animals and savagely abuse the Earth for our enrichment, amusement and comfort.

As a collective, we human animals have hubristically determined that we are the master species, endowing ourselves with the right to dominate, enslave, torture, humiliate, murder, and eat any sentient being on the planet (with the almost universal exception being the taboo of cannibalism–which is a bit perplexing considering the numerous other evils we inflict upon one another and the fact that human over-population is a tremendous problem).


Speciesism, the mental perversion that afflicts most people–causing them to view themselves as superior to all other species, is the one of the most blatantly exploitative and reprehensible of all human ideologies. Yet it remains “socially acceptable.” Inextricably linked with the bourgeois belief in the supremacy of profit and property over life, speciesism reveals the ferocity and grotesquery of savage capitalism. Animal exploiting capitalists of all stripes, including ranchers, biomedical researchers, meat processors, egg producers, fast food restaurateurs, and their ilk spend billions of dollars on agitprop each year to ensure that both the law and those who consume their products continue to view non-human animals as property, worthy of no more consideration than a lawn-mower. In fact, many people treat their Lawn Boys far better than factory farmers treat “their” sows.

Remember that human slavery, in which certain members of the human species were reduced to the status of property, was once institutionalized. The United States, the self-proclaimed land of the free (and not coincidentally the nexus of parasitic and decaying capitalism), was one of the last “advanced” nations to abolish slavery. And abolition wouldn’t have occurred had it not been for great sacrifices by many people of conscience and a civil war. Such is the pernicious and relentlessly cruel nature of capitalism.

Patriarchy and racism were once institutionalized too. Yet despite the fact that women and minorities have made significant legal, political, and social strides, the white man still wields tremendous power in this world, much of it economic in nature.


Overt and unapologetic imperialism and colonialism may be relics of the past, but conquest and subjugation still thrive under the guise of humanitarian intervention, loans to developing nations requiring corporate-friendly economic reforms, and aid to puppet regimes amenable to the rape of their country. All this to satisfy capitalism’s insatiable appetite for new markets, cheap labor, and natural resources.

Many people are concerned about the devastating and noxious impact we humans are having upon the Earth. But thanks to corporate green-washing, the globalization of the American Way of Life, and the deep allegiance many people have to capitalism (a system that is based on infinite growth on a finite planet), the rape and plunder of Mother Nature continues at an alarming rate. Relentlessly bludgeoned by the unquestioned supremacy of capitalist “ideals,” potential solutions that might interfere significantly with growth and profit are beaten to death before they can fully emerge from the womb.

Meanwhile, anti-capitalist radicals, including Marxists, socialists, anarchists, deep environmentalists, anarcho-primitivists, animal liberationists, members of indigenous movements, feminists, and many others who recognize that the problems we face are systemic in nature and that capitalism must go, remain marginalized, persecuted, ridiculed, vilified, and perhaps worst of all, divided.


An example of the agitprop the ruling elite successfully deploys (despite its obvious absurdity) to throw the true left to the margins of society. Obama is, AT BEST, center left on the political spectrum, yet the deeply indoctrinated amongst the working class–who remain faithful to their capitalist exploiters–swallow this nonsensical portrayal of him as a communist as if it was gospel….

American Capitalism’s power elite, comprised of the upper strata of the economic, corporate, political, and military hierarchies, enjoy tremendous advantages over those who oppose them. Despite their obvious economic and military might, their most powerful weapon is actually their seemingly omnipotent abilities to prevent any ideology from challenging the national religion of capitalism, to maintain the allegiance of most of the working class, and to demonize those who dare to blaspheme against their economic rape.

In a recent interview, internationally-renowned progressive political analyst Michael Parenti described the means by which the ruling class manipulates the masses into supporting such an obviously wretched system:

“Through control of the universe of discourse, including the media, the professions, the universities, the publishing industry, many of the churches, the consumer society, the job market, and even the very socialization of our children and the prefiguring of our own perceptions, the ruling interests are able to exercise a prevailing ideological control that excludes any reasoned critique of the dominant paradigm.”

It is imperative that those of us who recognize that electing a Democrat who is a racial minority and who talks a progressive game is a band-aid, at best, and that the real solution is to drive a stake through the heart of vampiric capitalism by uniting and by finding a means to take on the corporate media in such a way that we begin winning significant numbers of hearts and minds.

Anti-capitalist academics, writers, publishers, organizers, speakers, community leaders, politicians, and activists need effective conduits through which they can meet, communicate, educate one another, derive a sense of solidarity, and coordinate their efforts.

It is essential that we break down the perceived barrier between intellectuals and activists so that we can unify against regressive forces that thrive on inequality, injustice, environmental abuse, speciesism, and hierarchy—or in other words let’s come together and crush those loathsome bastards who prosper via the domination and abuse of the Earth and its sentient inhabitants.


Derrick Jensen has called on rational people of conscience to form a culture of resistance against the soulless insanity of a status quo that empowers and rewards those who are the most sociopathic and the most devoid of empathy. And if we are to create this culture of resistance and strive to forge an egalitarian, just, ecological, non-speciesist and democratic society, it is crucial that we expand our moral circle and bring animal liberation into the fold.

Aside from the morally indefensible fact that we enslave, torture, and murder sentient beings who feel pain and fear just as we do, consider Charles Patterson’s powerful argument he advanced in Eternal Treblinka. Patterson demonstrated that there is a frighteningly thin line between the abuse, objectification, and industrial torture we routinely inflict upon cows, for example, and that which we inflict upon other members of our own species. Many of the techniques the Nazis employed in the Holocaust came directly from the livestock and meat-packing industries.

Because our delusional notion of superiority is so deeply ingrained in our psyches, even many people of good conscience ignore the fact that non-human animals, who have no voice, no legal rights, and no viable means to defend themselves, are the ultimate victims of the ‘might makes right’ capitalist mentality. As the radical front line of a culture of resistance against a brutal social structure that thrives on abuse and exploitation, we need to attack the problem at its root. Leaving racism, sexism, classism and even Zionism in the dust, speciesism is the most enduring, savage, and widely accepted of the cultural ethos that enable capitalism to thrive, as it enables morally retarded wretches to pitilessly damn billions upon billions of innocent beings to a nightmare of Hobbesian proportions.


If we truly intend to subvert the dominant rapacious paradigm and replace it with something that will serve the greater good and heal the Earth, we must put animal liberation on our agenda.

So, how can we create a formidable culture of resistance and establish animal rights as one of the pillars of the radical agenda?

The Transformative Studies Institute (TSI) at, a radical educational entity that “fosters interdisciplinary research that will bridge multidisciplinary theory with activism in order to encourage community involvement that will attempt to alleviate social problems,” is sponsoring Thomas Paine’s Corner (TPC) at, which partners with Cyrano’s Journal Online ( to provide a media platform for radical writers, scholars, poets, playwrights, activists, and groups. No significant social movement will take place if the intelligentsia is cloistered in ivory towers, alienated from the activists who need them for education and guidance. We have an abundance of theory, but a dearth of praxis. TSI and TPC intend to get ideas into the heads of those who will translate them into action!

Both TSI and TPC will work in conjunction with the Institute for Critical Animal Studies (ICAS) at to promote “critical scholarly dialogue and research on the principles and practices of animal advocacy, animal protection, and animal-related policies in the fields of social sciences and humanities.” ICAS, TSI, and TPC will push to catalyze the inclusion of animal liberation into the broader radical agenda through critical pedagogy and again through facilitating the conversion of theory into praxis.

With noted scholars, activists, thinkers, and writers such as Steve Best, William Blum, Ward Churchill, Anthony Nocella II, Richard J. White, John Asimakopoulos, Lisa Kemmerer, Gary Corseri, Jason Bayless, Michael Parenti, Adam Engel, Ed Duvin, Gore Vidal, Richard Kahn, Joe Bageant, John Steppling, and many others behind this ambitious under-taking, the project has great potential. We desperately need ventures like this one to succeed.

As Adorno wrote in Minima Moralia, “A breed of men has secretly grown up that hungers for the compulsion and restriction imposed by the absurd persistence of domination.”

Capitalism and speciesism are woven into most of the world’s cultural and socioeconomic DNA. This ensures that the sociopathic “breed of men” to which Adorno referred enjoy the perpetual existence of the “absurd persistence of domination.” Which in turn is ensuring the rapid acceleration of widespread suffering and calamitous events.

As radical scholars or activists, we face the daunting task of exterminating capitalism and speciesism. And time grows short. Yet we can find solace in the fact that resistance is NOT futile!

Jason Miller is a tenacious anti-capitalist and vegan animal liberationist. He is also the founder and editor of Thomas Paine’s Corner, associate editor for Cyrano’s Journal Online, blog director for The Transformative Studies Institute and associate editor for the Journal for Critical Animal Studies.

TSI and ICAS do not endorse the content of TPC. TPC and CJO are independent media sources for writers to express themselves in an open democratic manner. TPC, CJO, ICAS and TSI do not intend to encourage illegal/unethical activity or behavior. The information herein is solely intended for entertainment, educational, research, academic, or other lawful purposes.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Greece: World Revolution Manifesto

Saturday, December 27 2008

The planet is under a state of siege from corporations. The people who own them (i.e. this neurotic, criminal minority) use tools such as the States in order to increase their monetary income to the maximum, to meet their desire for total authority and to maintain the postmodern industrial production apparatus called Planet Earth.


Planet Earth

December 27, 2008

A. The state of corporatism that we live in

The planet is under a state of siege from corporations. The people who own them (i.e. this neurotic, criminal minority) use tools such as the States in order to increase their monetary income to the maximum, to meet their desire for total authority and to maintain the postmodern industrial production apparatus called Planet Earth.

There is no doubt that it is the banks controlling the States (and not the other way round) since, as we passively observe at this moment, the masks in the birthplace state of capitalism have fallen: the US government supports the panicked moves of this Corporatist regime and prepares its army for a “possible social unrest in the face of an upcoming crisis”.

In turn, states hold the people in a divided and idle state so that they will compete with one another instead of rising up against the obvious enemy of humanity. Those in authority bring up individuals teaching them their differences to the person next to them; implanting them “values” such as the nation, gender, success, consumption, health, beauty and sanity of mind. These produce behaviours observed globally and are, more or less, known to us all: nationalism, racism, consumerism, sexism, ableism, ageism and lookism.

States would have been unable to mark our bodies with such rotten scars if it wasn’t for the Cops, the Medical Regime, the Educational Regime, the Establishment Media, Religions and Bureaucracy in all its forms.

Humans end up beings with a hyper-emphasised “ego” since they are a unique amalgan of heterogeneous identities. Proletarian and muslim. Respectable housewife and lesbian. Student and depressed. Sexist and communist. Successful yuppie and sensitive in ecological issues. Woman and nationalist. Shattered in thousands of small pieces, which prevent them from seeing who it is that enforces their repressed class status. Most importantly, they prevent them from understanding themselves as something more collective, such as the globalised neo-proletariat: all the humans of the planet, that is, who experience daily everything from the darkness and depression to the abjection and non-voluntary death. A proletariat of this type that, numerically only, prevails.

The plenitude of constructed identities creates a condition of “cultural war” in each of the planet’s societies (as well as trans-nationally) where identities compete with one another, often in favour of the Regime, as this will lead its respectable citizens to demand even tighter security.

The dictatorship of the Corporatist Bourgeois Democracy makes sure to repress all and any spontaneous resistance to the power: it sucks social nuclei of resistance into political parties, trade unions and other political formations that reek of death. It does not hesitate, only too often, to “democratise” locales of the planet, to repress liberating movements and to deny the right to self-determination (the US in Iraq; Israel in Palestine; Greece in Macedonia).

It does not hesitate to destroy the nature of Earth, exterminating whole eco-systems, altering the environment and disrupting our bodies with the quality of food we receive. All in the name of progress, science and civilisation.

The civilised world is an amalgam of all these authoritarian patterns which, over time, have convinced us of having a quality of life without which (ironically) humans lived much better in the past.

The rise of population and of the average life expectancy, with the blessings of the Medical Regime, simply increases the number of the waged slaves, shrinking, at the same time, the quality of their life to the absolute minimum.

Life in the city has distanced humans from the experience of living, observing and learning from natural phenomena; it has destroyed the experience of the physical space and has made them vulnerable in the face of experience that used to be commonplace (physical labour, outdoors survival etc).

B. The World Revolution must be against civilisation

- The catalyst of our organising is the world wide web: We call all the disgruntled and revolted to get their own voice on the web, either by sending contributions to counter-information media or setting up their own blogs, creating collective discussion boards or hacking established and capitalist websites.

- We call all workers around the world to discuss about self-organising in their workspaces and to make proposals in regard to exiting trade unions. We call them to occupy the places of production and to manage their units horizontally, in a self-organised manner, under the guidance of consensus.

- We call all high school and university students to occupy their buildings, shoving aside all political party henchmen; to co-form with tons of imagination and humour, ideas on theory and practice! To turn these buildings into nuclei of anarchist life and social outreach.

- We call all who have lived under the burden of Clinical Depression to come together, to reject the chemicals of the pharmaceutical corporations and to co-shape ideas for the destruction of the civilisation that slashed our brains.

- We call all migrants to join together their rage for the way in which the Establishment turned them into people without a place and to destroy the civilisation that alienated them.

- We call all scientists to resign from the Science Regime and to investigate autonomously and collectively how autonomous and inexhaustible energies can be provided – such as solar, wind and geothermal.

- We call all the people who have forgotten that the revolution can happen, to expropriate immediately all that belongs to them and to sabotage, to the maximum extent possible, the production line. We can hold – and it’s worth it!

- We call all bourgeois artists to stop wasting their imagination in bourgeois creations and to join in our struggle, pouring their imagination into the shaping of the World Revolution!

- We call all farmers and agricultural producers to collectivise their production and to stop over-producing for capital. To teach their co-humans techniques on how to live autonomously by farming.

- Meat production must seize immediately and all animals should be freed! Meat is murder!

We call all anarchists, communists and libertarians to not cease their actions of revolt and to continue with the counter-information, which is so important.

Sabotaging or self-organising the process of production, creating autonomous food production, expropriating existing supplies, creating autonomous zones in cities and planning for autonomous forms of energy, we can render money obsolete. We can create pockets of anarchist culture which, thanks to their existence, counter-information and the world wide web, will spread like the hot wind of freedom.

Any attempts by the states to stop us will be met with the revolted; the revolted of poverty, depression and exclusion. We’ll take time in our hands!

Let Athens’ December revolt become an organisational inspiration for revolutionaries across the world.

Humans of the world, unite!

For anarchy and libertarian communism!

For freedom!

For the absolute!

Long live World Revolution!

Greek riots 2008 - Agent Provocateur Cops Caught Red Handed

From Dedroidify
Cops disguised like anarchists are burning and breaking shops in Athens. In the video you can see the "anarchists" talking with other cops in uniforms as if that's normal. This video was aired on a Greek TV show. Thanks 8DagenInEenWeek (dutch blog)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Random Jane Roberts/Seth Quote

"in a basic way, it is possible for present beliefs to actually modify beliefs of a life that is seemingly a past one." The Way Toward Health Session 6/15, Page 284

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A road to revolution? By Uri Gordon

... The mainstream media simply cannot stomach the notion that what is happening in Greece is by now a proactive social revolt against the capitalist system itself and the state institutions that reinforce it. It is time to acknowledge that the Greek anarchist movement has successfully seized the initiative after the killing of one of its own, framing the issues in a way that appeals to a larger - albeit mostly young - public. Few people realize that the Greek anarchist movement is appreciably the largest in the world, in proportion to its country's population. It also enjoys wide social support due to its legacy of resistance to the military dictatorship from 1967 to 1974. Highly confrontational demonstrations are a matter of regularity in Greece. It is practically a bimonthly occurrence for anarchists and police to engage in fiery street battles in Thessaloniki or Athens. The current events are only marked by their breadth and duration, not by their level of militancy. Another rarely appreciated factor is that Greece is a country in which the security apparatus is normally kept on a relatively tight leash. For example, Privacy International's 2007 assessment of leading surveillance societies found Greece to be the only country in the world with "adequate safeguards" against the abuse of government power to spy on its citizenry. The legacy of the dictatorship has created a lasting image of the police as inherently oppressive, even among the middle class. Will the riots in Greece lead to an anti-capitalist revolution? Only if the opening they have torn in the social fabric widens and deepens, involving ever-growing sections of society and creating new grass-roots institutions alongside the destruction of the old. This seems unlikely in the short term, as bureaucratic labor unions and the Communist Party attempt to domesticate the revolt and cut their own political coupon with their demand to disarm the police. But there is no doubt that a new benchmark has been set for what can be expected in Western countries during the coming era of economic depression and environmental decay. European governments will no doubt ratchet up their policies of surveillance and repression in anticipation of growing civil unrest. But that may not be enough to keep the population subdued, as crisis after crisis calls the existing arrangement of power and privilege into question. Uri Gordon is the author of "Anarchy Alive!: Anti-Authoritarian Politics from Practice to Theory" (Pluto Press);

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Where's al-Zaidi's Pulitzer?, By JOHN ROSS

"Que Huevos!" ("What Balls!") grinned Don Juanito the tailor, sipping his tea across the counter and extolling the bravery of Muntadhar al-Zaidi, the Iraqi reporter who gained instant hero status for hurling his shoes at U.S. president George Bush during a Baghdad news conference last week (Dec. 13th). "He should have thrown clown shoes - that way he wouldn't have missed Bush," Daniel the greeter chimed in. An avid wrestling fan, Daniel was impressed by Bush's stutter step dodge of the incoming missiles. "The shoes must be the weapons that Bush was looking for, no?" smiled Manuel the waiter, "now they will take all the shoes from Iraq!" Berta the nurse invited the crowd to bring their old shoes to the U.S. Embassy here to bid goodbye to George Bush.

The chatter over evening coffee was not taking place in a downtown Baghdad café but rather at the venerable La Blanca, an old quarter gathering spot here in Mexico City. This reporter, a regular customer for a quarter of a century, could not remember when events half a world away had so animated conversation around the cafeteria counter.

Indeed, Mexico, like much of what used to be hailed as the third world, was following the fortunes of the Iraqi reporter with avid interest. Televisa and TV Azteca, Mexico's two-headed television monopoly, had both led with the story two nights running on primetime news - Televisa ran footage of al Zaidi's audacious fling from three distinct angles in slow motion. La Jornada, the left daily, splashed the flying shoes frame by frame across its front page and the political cartoonists are having a field day with the shoe toss. "We need this to divert us from our troubles," chuckled Daniel. "If you are writing something please say that we thank Mr. al-Zaidi for throwing his shoes at Bush."

The conversation around the counter of La Blanca was one more proof positive that the visceral anger stirred up by George Bush during eight years of misgovernment crosses oceans and cultures. The Iraqi reporter's courageous act was a catalyst for universal rage and frustration at the Bush regime's unbridled arrogance that has been boiling over down below ever since the outgoing U.S. president stole the White House in 2000 and invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, murdering as many as million citizens of the third world, most of them, as Zapatista spokesperson Subcomandante Marcos puts it, "the people the color of the earth."

Daniel's kudos for Muntadhar al-Zaidi were echoed in Middle Eastern capitals. In Damascus, a shopkeeper who would only identify himself as Muhammad to a nosy New York Times reporter was on his way to a party with friends. "This is a holiday! This is what we needed for revenge!" From the Middle East to Washington D.C., Bush's many detractors held shoe-tossing parties to demand an end to the ongoing bloodshed in Iraq and the Iraqi reporter's immediate release from prison. "To us he is a hero!" Berta the nurse saluted al-Zaidi.

There is no insult more demeaning in Arab culture then to have a shoe tossed at one's person except perhaps to be called a dog and Muntadhar al-Zaidi invoked both in throwing his left shoe at the most powerful politico on the planet. "This is for the widows and orphans and the people that died!" he shouted, tossing the right one at Bush's head. A Saudi millionaire has reportedly offered $10,000,000 USD for the hero's footwear.

Muntadhar Al-Zaidi's shoe fling has effectively penned George Bush's political epitaph. As the YouTube clips girdled the globe, the image was stamped on popular memory. Even more unflattering than the film of George Bush pere puking all over the Japanese prime minister at a state dinner, Bush Jr's shoe dodge is the picture that will accompany eight years of his genocidal administration to the grave.

The imprisonment of the al-Baghdadia television reporter by the quisling Maliki government for allegedly assaulting a foreign dignitary has sparked renewed street demonstrations in Iraq where the unpopularity of the recently ratified Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) that allows U.S. occupation forces to remain in country for at least three more years, is patent.

Protestors in Sadr City where the U.S. bombed without remorse earlier this year threw their shoes at American patrols in disgust. Al-Zaidi, a former leftist student leader who admires Che Guevara, covered the bombings for Al-Baghdadia television and colleagues pin his fury at Bush on the devastation wrought by the Americans in that Shiaa-controlled slum city. Black-clad supporters of Shiaa cleric Muqtada al-Sadr whose legendary father gave his name to Sadr City, disrupted parliament demanding al-Zaidi's release.

Meanwhile, U.S. troops who came under shoe attack in the Sunni stronghold of Fallujah fired on protestors, wounding one according to press reports.

Curiously, while Iraqis of all denominations rallied to the reporter's defense, the Baghdad press pack was unimpressed by al-Zaidi's shoe scoop. Indeed, one Iraqi journalist wrestled the al-Baghdadia correspondent to the floor while Maliki's goons beat on him, breaking his hand and fracturing two of his ribs. The Prime Minister, who apparently fancies himself a press critic, condemned the shoe toss as a "savage act which is unrelated to journalism in any way." Others in the Iraqi journalism community dissed al-Zaidi's performance as "unprofessional."

Even al-Jazeera, the powerful Qatar-based TV titan, was unusually standoffish in its reportage of the celebrated incident, which the powerful Arab network seemed to suggest, reflected poorly on the integrity of "responsible" Arab media. The New York Times, a paragon of corporate journalism, looked down its nose at the great shoe fling with its usual snottiness, disdaining Muntadhar al-Zaidi's credentials as a bona fide journalist and dismissing his activism as folkloric. Reporter Timothy Williams expressed surprise that the war in Iraq was "still unpopular."

The Times and its ilk have a hard time dealing with activist journalists. Josh Wolf, the young blogger who broke the U.S. record for being jailed for his journalistic efforts (over 200 days in the federal slammer for refusing to identify participants in a San Francisco anarchist march that was attacked by the police), was treated in the corporate press as just another drug-addled adolescent. Like al-Zaidi, Brad Will, the Indymedia photojournalist cut down by Mexican cops during the Oaxaca urban rebellion in 2006, was tarred as "unprofessional", a radical activist masquerading as a reporter. As an older activist reporter covering social turmoil in Mexico, I am regularly questioned by the representatives of the corporate press for my "lack of objectivity."

The "objectivity" so championed by j-school journalists is a weapon of class war that ascribes equal weight to the wronged and the wrongers alike. Held sacrosanct by "professional" journalists who are more attentive to their own career tracks than to the righteous indignation of the victims of Bush's war on the peoples of the earth, this vaunted "objectivity" neutralizes injustice and negates responsibilities.

I tell my students that they have no "career" in journalism, only what we call here an "oficio", a responsibility to tell the stories of those who are never heard, an obligation to stand on the front lines and report the story from the peoples' side of the barricades.

Muntadhar al-Zaidi is a distinguished activist journalist. Like all those who practice this trade under the gun in the never-ending class and race war, he is painfully cognizant that you cannot cover injustice without taking sides.

Activist journalists do not grab a cab to Dachau to get the commandant's side of the story. Bush is that commandant and he deserves to be showered by our shoes for his repeated crimes against humanity. Muntadhar al-Zaidi's shoes told this story. He deserves nothing less than the Pulitzer Prize.

John Ross has El Monstruo on the canvas and is awaiting the decision of the judges. These dispatches will continue at ten-day intervals until the word is in. If you have further info write

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


This is the midnight hour of the year, and of 8,000 years of Empire in which humans ceded authority (Saturn) to socio-pathic dingbats. Until now! This Solstice poses the question: "What must we die to, within and without, lest we die from." The I Ching chimes in: 24. The Turning Point -- Winter Solstice "After a time of decay comes the turning point. The powerful light that has been banished returns. There is movement but it is not brought about by force. Societies of people with a unifying vision are formed. But since these groups come together in full public knowledge and are in harmony with the time, all selfish tendencies are excluded, and no mistake is made. Everything comes of itself at the appointed time." "From deep stillness comes replenishment and the gathering of strategy and wits. Not striving, but calm and merriment. "The Winter Solstice has always been celebrated as the resting time of the year. In winter the life energy is still underground. Movement is just at its beginning; therefore it must be strengthened by rest, so that it will not be dissipated by being used prematurely. "The return of health after illness, the return of understanding after an estrangement; everything must be treated tenderly and with care at the beginning, so that the return may lead to flowering." Now more than ever. All of Creation is holding its breath at this deep time, anticipating the birth, within each human heart, of wonder and a willingness to cooperate with everything. May we kindle the warm glow of Trickster kindness, within us all, transform our emotional default setting to one of "Woof Woof, wanna play!?!" Each moment awaits our imaginative dedication. So let's toss all that is neither beautiful nor useful into the roiling cauldron of re-birth, that Time is so kindly providing us. Let's compost all past- patterns of self-sabotage, personal and collective, for starters. And let's bow at the threshold of this New Year, to release and redeem all that we do not wish to take with us through the door. Remorse is said to be the highest of the negative states, the closest to clarity --because we see and feel all those times when we didn't respond to life's "woof woof wanna play?!" When we fell for the compelling illusion of separateness, and forgot that we are all in one large, pulsing, shape- shifting-according-to-collaborative-intent dream. The Sufi, and we with her, gently pats her heart and whispers "estafirahlah" "forgiveness of self and others." And may "forgive" mean "to give energy for change." The protoplasm of reality is particularly susceptible to imprint now, by the power of word, language, story and metaphor. Allowing ourselves one true hyperbole: Never before has the power of human story-telling been so essential in determining what dies and what lives. Let us dedicate ourselves to animating the desirable story. (To do otherwise would be complicitous with the evolutionary dead-end of empire.) We suck the chi of our complicity from that which is dying, and exhale into the blooming of dynamic collaborative kinship. We are here to re-dedicate ourselves to the responsibility of dreaming the desirable world into being. Saturnalia: Deeper Dedication is the anti-dote to fear, as feeling useful is the anti-dote to depression. There -- that's handled. So, let's visualize and dedicate, wherever we are around the Solstice time, and journeying on into this powerful Winter, that we are offering our unique and necessary Medicine, into the collective cauldron brew, and ladling ourselves a cup of All-Heal. Trickster Medicine is really the sine qua non that brings all the other medicines into bubbling accord to produce the elixir of Dynamic Reverent Ingenuity.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Mexico Approaches the Combustion Point, by John Ross

Mexico City. The Congress of the country is ringed by two-meter tall grilled metal barriers soldered together apparently to thwart a suicide car bomb attack. Behind this metal wall, 3000 vizored, kevlar-wearing robocops — the Federal Preventative Police (PFP, a police force drawn from the army) — and members of the elite Estado Mayor or Presidential military command, form a second line of defense. Armed with tear gas launchers, water cannons, and reportedly light tanks, this Praetorian Guard has been assigned to protect law and order and the institutions of the republic against left-wing mobs that threaten to storm the Legislative Palace — or so the President informs his fellow citizens in repeated messages transmitted on national television. No, the President’s name is not Pinochet and this military tableau is not being mounted in the usual banana republic or some African satrap. This is Mexico, a paragon of democracy (dixit George Bush), Washington’ third trading partner, and the eighth leading petroleum producer on the planet, seven weeks after the fraud-marred July 2 presidential election of which, at this writing, no winner has been officially declared. One of the elite military units assigned to seal off congress is indeed titled the July 2 brigade. MEXICO ON A KNIFEBLADE headlines the British Guardian, but the typically short-term-memory-loss U.S. print media seems to have forgotten about the imbroglio just south of its borders. Nonetheless, the phone rings and it’s New York telling me they just got a call from their man on the border and Homeland Security is beefing up its forces around Laredo in anticipation of upheaval further south. The phone rings again and it’s California telling me they just heard on Air America that U.S. Navy patrols were being dispatched to safeguard Mexican oil platforms in the Gulf. The left-wing daily here, La Jornada, runs a citizen-snapped photo of army convoys arriving carrying soldiers disguised as farmers and young toughs. Rumors race through the seven mile-long encampment installed by supporters of leftist presidential challenger Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) three weeks ago who have tied up big city traffic and enraged the motorist class here, that PFP robocops will attack before dawn. The campers stay up all night huddled around bum fires prepared to defend their tent cities. The moment reminds many Mexicans of the tense weeks in September and October 1968 when 12 days before the Olympic Games were to be inaugurated here, President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz ordered the military to massacre striking students in a downtown plaza not far from where AMLO’s people are now camped out. 300 were killed in the Plaza of Three Cultures, their bodies incinerated at Military Camp #1 in western Mexico City. The Tlatelolco massacre was a watershed in social conflict here and the similarities are sinister. In fact, Lopez Obrador has taken to comparing outgoing President Vicente Fox with Diaz Ordaz. Fox will go to congress September 1 to deliver his final State of the Union address. The new legislature will be convened the same day. The country may or may not have a new president by that day. In anticipation of this show-down, on August 14, newly-elected senators and deputies from the three parties that comprise AMLO’s Coalition for the Good of All attempted to encamp on the sidewalk in front of the legislative palace only to be rousted and clobbered bloody by the President’s robocops. With 160 representatives, the Coalition forms just a quarter of the 628 members of the new congress but they will be a loud minority during Fox’s “Informe”. Since the 1988 “presidenciales” were stolen from Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, founder of AMLO’s Party of the Democratic Revolution, PRD legislators have routinely interrupted the president during this authoritarian ritual in orchestrated outbursts that have sometimes degenerated into partisan fisticuffs. The first to challenge the Imperial Presidency was Porfirio Munoz Ledo, a hoary political warhorse, who in 1988 thrust a finger at President Miguel De la Madrid, accusing him of overseeing the theft of the election from Cardenas. Munoz Ledo’s J’Accuse stunned the political class. He was slugged and pummeled by members of De la Madrid’s long-ruling PRI when he tried to escape the chamber. Munoz Ledo now stands at AMLO’s side. But perhaps the most comical moment in the annals of acting out during the Informe, came in 1996 when a brash PRI deputy donned a Babe the Valiant Pig mask and positioned himself directly under the podium from which President Ernesto Zedillo was addressing the state of the nation, and wiggled insouciant signs with slogans that said things like ‘EAT THE RICH!” Like Munoz Ledo, Marco Rascon was physically attacked, his mask ripped off like he was a losing wrestler by a corrupt railroad union official who in turn was hammer locked by a pseudo-leftist senator, Irma “La Tigresa” Serrano, a one-time ranchero singer and in fact, the former very close friend of Gustavo Diaz Ordaz. This September 1, if martial law is not declared and the new congress dissolved before it is even installed, the PRD delegation, which will no doubt be strip-searched by the Estado Mayor for incriminating banners, is sworn to create a monumental ruckus, shredding the tarnished decorum of this once-solemn event forever to protest Fox’s endorsement of electoral larceny. Some solons say they may go naked. But no matter what kind of uproar develops, one can be secure that it will not be shown on national television as the cameras of Mexico’s two-headed television monstrosity â_” Televisa and TV Azteca â_” will stay trained on the President as he tries to mouth the stereotypical clichés that is always the stuff and fluff of this otherwise stultifying séance. The images of the chaos on the floor of congress will not be passed along to the Great Unwashed. There is a reptilian feel to Mexico seven weeks after a discredited Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) cemented Lopez Obrador into a second place coffin by awarding the presidency to right-winger Felipe Calderon by a mere 243,000 votes out of a total 42,000,000 cast. Both Calderon and IFE czar Luis Carlos Ugalde (Calderon was best man at Ugalde’s wedding) make these little beady reptile eyes as they slither across national screens. Those screens have been the scenes of some of the slimiest and most sordid political intrigue of late. One of the lizard kings who is fleetingly featured on Televisa primetime is an imprisoned Argentinean construction tycoon, Carlos Ahumada, who in 2004 conspired with Fox, Calderon’s PAN, and Televisa to frame AMLO on corruption charges and take him out of the presidential election.”El Peje” (for a gar-like fish from the swamps of Lopez Obrador’s native Tabasco) was then leading the pack by 18 points. Charged by Lopez Obrador, then the mayor of this megalopolis, with defrauding Mexico City out of millions, Ahumada had taken his revenge by filming PRD honchos when they came to his office to pick up boodles of political cash. Although the filthy lucre was perfectly legal under Mexico’s milquetoast campaign financing laws, the pick-ups looked awful on national television. AMLO’s former personal secretary was caught stuffing wads of low denomination bills into his suit coat pockets as if he were on Saturday Night Live. Ahumada subsequently turned the tapes over to the leprous, cigar-chomping leader of Fox’s PAN party in the Senate, Diego Fernandez de Cevallos (”El Jefe Diego”) who in turn had them delivered to a green-haired clown, Brozo, who was then reading the morning news on Televisa. Then the Argentine blackmailer fled to Cuba in a private plane. Televisa would air the incriminating videos day and night for months. Apprehended in Veradero after his lover Robles was shadowed to that socialist beachfront, Ahumada spilled the beans to Cuban authorities: Interior Secretary Santiago Creel, who was then AMLO’s lead rival for the presidency, had cooked up the plot with the connivance of reviled former president Carlos Salinas, Lopez Obrador’s most venomous foe, the then attorney general, and Fox himself, to remove AMLO from the race. The Mexican government did not ask for extradition and Ahumada’s deportation from Cuba was not seen as a friendly gesture. Within a month, diplomatic relations between Mexico and Cuba were broken off and ambassadors summoned home. The construction tycoon has been imprisoned in Mexico City ever since he was booted out of Cuba and was last heard from when he had his rogue cop chauffer shoot up the family SUV, a charade both Fox and Televisa tried to pin on AMLO. Ahumada had suggested he was about to release two more incriminating videos. These dubious events took place on June 6, the day of a crucial presidential debate between AMLO and Calderon. Then last week, Ahumada abruptly resurfaced, or at least his videotaped confession to Cuban authorities did. Filmed through prison bars, he lays out the plot step by step. Yes, he affirms, the deal was fixed up to cut AMLO’s legs out from under him and advance the fortunes of the right-wing candidate who turned out to be Felipe Calderon and not the bumbling Creel. The conspiracy backfired badly as his supporters rallied around him and Lopez Obrador’s ratings soared. The origins of the confession tape, leaked to top-rung reporter Carmen Aristegui, was obscure. Had Fidel dispatched it from his sick bed to bolster Lopez Obrador’s claims of victory as the PAN and the snake-eyed Televisa evening anchor Joaquin Lopez Dorriga hissed? The air grew serpentine with theories. There was even one school that speculated Calderon himself had been the source in a scheme to distance himself from Fox (there had always been bad feelings between them) and Creel, now the leader of the PAN faction in congress. AMLO advanced a variant of this explanation: the specter of Ahumada had been resuscitated to divert attention from the evidence of generalized fraud the Coalition had submitted to the TRIFE and the panel’s impending verdict that Calderon had won the election. Perhaps the most nagging question in this snakepit of uncertainty is what happened during the partial recount of less than 10per cent of the 130,000 ballot boxes ordered by the TRIFE to test the legitimacy of the IFE’s results. Although the recount concluded on August 13, the judges have released no numbers and are not obligated to do so. Their only responsibility is to certify the validity of the election. Although AMLO’s reps in the counting rooms came up with gobs of evidence — violated ballot boxes, stolen or stuffed ballots, altered tally sheets and other bizarre anomalies — only the left-wing daily La Jornada saw fit to mention them. The silence of the Mexican media and their accomplices in the international press in respect to the Great Fraud is deafening, although they manage to fill their rags with ample attacks on Lopez Obrador for tying up Mexico City traffic. According to AMLO’s people, 119,000 ballots in the sample recount cannot be substantiated in about 3500 casillas, 58,000 more votes were cast than the number of voters on the voting list. In nearly 4000 other casillas, 61,000 ballots allocated to election officials cannot be accounted for. The annulment of the casillas in which these alterations occurred would put Lopez Obrador in striking distance of Calderon and in a better world, would obligate the TRIFE to order a total recount. But given the cheesy state of the Mexican judiciary this is not apt to happen. One of the judges who will decide the fate of democracy in Mexico is a former client of El Jefe Diego for whom the PANista senator won millions from the Mexico City government in a crooked land deal. Meanwhile, thousands continue to camp out in a hard rain for a third week on the streets of Mexico City awaiting the court’s decision. They have taken to erecting shrines and altars and are praying for divine intervention. Hundreds pilgrimage out to the shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe, some crawling on their knees, to ask the Brown Madonna to work her miracle. “God doesn’t belong to the PAN!” they chant as they trudge up the great avenue that leads to the Basilica. “AMLO deserves a miracle” Esther Ortiz, a 70 year-old great grandmother comments to a reporter as she kneels to pray before the gilded altar. At the Metropolitan Cathedral on one flank of the Zocalo, a young worshipper interrupts Cardinal Norberto Rivera and is quickly hustled off the premises by his Eminence’s bouncers. The following Sunday, the Cathedral’s great doors are under heavy surveillance, and churchgoers screened for telltale signs of devotion to Lopez Obrador. Hundreds of AMLO’s supporters mill about in front of the ancient temple shouting “voto por voto” and that Cardinal Rivera is a pederast. AMLO as demi-god is one motif of this religious pageant being played out at what was once the heart of the Aztec theocracy, the island of Tenochtitlan. The ruins of the twin temples of the fierce Aztec war god Huitzilopochtli and Tlahuac, the god of the rain, are adjacent to the National Palace against which AMLO’s stage is set. Lopez Obrador sleeps each night in a tent close by. Many hearts were ripped out smoking on these old stones and fed to such hungry gods before the Crusaders showed up bearing the body and blood of Jesus Christ. AMLO is accused by right-wing “intellectuals” (Enrique Krauze and the gringo apologist George Grayson) of entertaining a Messiah complex. Indeed, he is up there every day on the big screen, his craggy features, salt and pepper hair, raspy voice and defiantly jutted jaw bearing more of a passable resemblance to a younger George C. Scott rather than The Crucified One. AMLO’s devotees come every evening at seven, shoehorned between the big tents that fill the Zocalo, rain or shine. Last Monday, I stood with a few thousand diehards in a biblical downpour, thunder and lightening shattering the heavens above. “Llueve y llueve y el pueblo no se mueve” they chanted joyously, “it rains and rains and the people do not move.” The evolution of these incantations is fascinating. At first, the standard slogan of “Voto Por Voto, Casilla por Casilla!” was automatically invoked whenever Lopez Obrador stepped to the microphone. “You are not alone!” and “Presidente!” had their moment. “Fraude!” is still popular but in these last days, “No Pasaran!” — they shall not pass, the cry of the defenders of Madrid as Franco’s fascist hordes banged on the doors of Madrid, 1936 — has flourished. In this context, “No Pasaran!” means “we will not let Felipe Calderon pass to the presidency.” AMLO, who holds out little hope that the TRIFE will decide in his favor, devotes more time now to organizing the resistance to the imposition of Calderon upon the Aztec nation. Article 39 of the Mexican constitution, he reminds partisans, grants the people the right to change their government if that government does not represent them. To this end, he is summoning a million delegates up to the Zocalo for a National Democratic Convention on Mexican Independence Day September 16, a date usually reserved for a major military parade. Aside from the logistical impossibility of putting a million citizens in this Tiennemens-sized plaza, how this gargantuan political extravaganza is going to be financed is cloudy. Right now, it seems like small children donating their piggy banks is the main mode of fund-raising. Because AMLO’s people distrust the banks, all of which financed Calderon’s vicious TV ad campaign, a giant piggy bank has been raised in the Zocalo to receive the contributions of the faithful. Dreaming is also a fundraiser. 10,000 raised their voices in song this past Sunday as part of a huge chorus assembled under the dome of the Monument to the Revolution to perform a cantata based on the words of Martin Luther King and Mohandas Gandhi. This too is a form of civil resistance, Lopez Obrador commended his followers. The first National Democratic Convention took place behind rebel lines in the state of Aguascalientes in 1914 at the apogee of the Mexican Revolution when the forces of Francisco Villa and his Army of the North first joined forces with Zapata’s Liberating Army of the Southern Revolution. The second National Democratic Revolution took place 80 years later in 1994, in a clearing in the Lacandon Jungle of Chiapas when the Zapatista Army of National Liberation wedded itself to the civil society in an uprising that rocked Mexico all throughout the ’90s. Eclipsed by events, the EZLN and its quixotic spokesperson Subcomandante Marcos have disappeared from the political map in the wake of the fraudulent election. What this third National Democratic Convention is all about is now being debated in PRD ruling circles and down at the grassroots. Minimally, a plan of organized resistance that will dog Felipe Calderon for the next six years, severely hampering his ability to rule will evolve from this mammoth conclave. The declaration of a government in resistance headed by Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is one consideration. The National Democratic Convention could also result in the creation of a new party to replace a worn-out PRD now thoroughly infiltrated by cast-offs from the PRI. The Party of the Democratic Revolution has always functioned best as an opposition party. With notable exceptions (AMLO was one), when the PRD becomes government, it collapses into corruption, internecine bickering, and behaves just as arrogantly as the PAN and the PRI. No Pasaran? Seven weeks after the July 2 electoral debacle, Mexico finds itself at a dangerously combustible conjunction (”coyuntura”) in which the tiny white elite here is about to impose its will upon a largely brown and impoverished populous to whom the political parties and process grow more irrelevant each day. “No Pasaran!” the people cry out but to whom and what they are alluding to remains to be defined.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Ernst Haeckel

Art Forms In Nature
(free book)

[Thanks to dada for this link]

A Very Haeckel Christmas

Real-life Mowgli kept alive by cats

[Thanks to Annette for this link] A one-year-old boy has been found living rough on the streets, apparently being kept alive by cats. By Chris Hastings 20 Dec 2008 The boy, whose ordeal mirrors that of the character Mowgli from Rudyard Kipling The Jungle Book, was discovered by police in Misiones, in Argentina, surrounded by eight wild cats. Doctors believe the animals snuggled up with him during freezing nights which would otherwise have killed him. The boy was seen eating scraps foraged by the animals while they licked him, it has been claimed. Policewoman Alicia Lorena Lindgvist discovered the child by a canal in the Christ King district of the city. She said: "I was walking and noticed a gang of cats sitting very close together. It is unusual to see so many like that so I went for a closer look and that's where I saw him. The boy was lying at the bottom of a gutter. There were all these cats on top of him licking him because he was really dirty. "When I walked over they became really protective and spat at me. They were keeping the boy warm while he slept." The officer, who noticed scraps of food near the boy, added: "The cats knew he was fragile and needed protecting." Police have found the boy's father who is homeless and said he had lost the boy several days ago while out collecting cardboard to sell. He told officers cats had always been protective of his son. A spokesman for Thames Valley Animal Welfare, which deals with feral cats and strays in Berkshire, said: "They would have viewed the baby like a big hot water bottle. Cats will cuddle up to anything to keep warm, even dogs. He added: "In our experience of cat colonies when a mother has a litter, all the other cats will go and fetch food. The baby could have been feeding off the scraps they brought. Cats in Argentina stay in large packs to survive - much more than cats over here." In the Jungle Book, Mowgli is raised in the Indian Jungle by wolves.

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