ISIS is Israeli Secret Intelligence Service

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Fighting For Our Lives

Why We Need A Revolution

By Talita Soares
February 29, 2012

We need a revolution.

Not only because we don’t have enough jobs, not only because the public health system is no longer functional.

Not only because our politicians are corrupt or because our teachers are not getting paid.

We need a revolution because every single day, every single hour,
maybe, a perharps higly-paid, higly-respected office worker blows
his brains out with a pistol gun.

We need a revolution because of all the rich spoiled teenagers who
are right now looking out of their bedroom windows wondering what
the hell is the point of it all.

We need a revolution because this system is not a system where
people can live the way they are meant to live; because even those
who are on the favored side of it are not able to find true fulfillment
— this is not a system created by or for the people, but a system
created by the untamed power of money alone.

When money loses its human quality, when it no longer serves the
people but rather the other way around, we are no longer living in
a human reality, but in a distorted one; one that our souls do not
recognise and do not know how to cope with.

We need a revolution in order to bring reality back to a level
where love and compassion — forces that are naturally inherent
to every human being — can regain their original power.

In the times we live in, every time a human being speaks
from the heart, he or she is making a political statement.

In an interview about the time he spent at the acampada on Plaza
Catalunya in Spain, Eduardo Galeano said that the revolutionary
quality of the youth riots in Europe came from the enthusiasm
they were able to make emerge.

Enthusiasm — there is something that mega-corporations will
never have any control over.

To hold this enthusiasm through concrete debating and building
of new societal structures is what can ultimately be defined as a

When we protest, may it not be the voice of frustration and anger to make our throats vibrate, but the voice of sharp awareness of the pain of the world and the steps we need to take towards its healing — we need to be lucid in our passion, and passionate in our lucidity.

In today’s society, it is safe to say that the feeling of not fitting in has become as universal as human nature itself.

There are as many outsiders in this world as there are people, all circling around one empty imaginary “inside”, an absurd fabrication of corporate consumerism.

We are all black sheep trapped in the illusion that everyone else
is a white sheep.

The new society will be built by no one else but those who simply
dare to speak the truth. That is all it takes.

Through that we can break out of the imaginary separation we
live in. And may it be said again: That is all it takes.

And what’s more, it is also a very good strategy.

The system knows how to deal with explosive riots in the streets, terrorist attacks and bank robbings — it is all a part of its dynamics, and it can very easily be turned into marketable, mind-numbing entertainment for the masses.

However, there are moments that retain a certain special quality
— a quality that shall be called irreproducibility — that are capable
of creating something that is truly unprecedented.

Let’s call it something human.

This is where we should start working from.

Resistance begins in everything that is not appropriate for mass-production — in all authentic, personal experiences.

There are cracks in the system through which light can shine in.

Together they form the infinite starry sky.

Through connecting those shiny spots, you can form constellations.

A group of tiny points of light can be combined to form the picture
of a huge mighty lion.

Together, they can make one see clearly even in the darkest night.

Every racing heart is a pulsing star!

And every time someone looks at the sky with an open heart, a revolutionary is born.

It is where it all begins.

From the French Revolution to the barricades, a beautiful sky is needed to remind us of where we come from — and where we are going.

Ultimately, that is what brings us to the streets.

That is what we are fighting for.

A new society is needed in order to give the stars the place that they deserve inside our souls.

When we fight, we are fighting for our lives.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Occupy The Vote 2012

Elections Not Auctions!
Hold Elected Officials Accountable!

By Your Anon
Monday, February 27, 2012

Our Polls - Occupy The Vote - Election Season 2012

Announcing “OUR POLLS” - A new joint effort between Anonymous and the Occupy Movement to hold politicians accountable to the People.

Elected officials serve one purpose — to represent their constituents, the people who voted them into office.

Last year, many of our elected officials let us down by giving in to deep-pocketed lobbyists and passing laws meant to boost corporate profits at the expense of individual liberty.

Our Senators and Representatives showed how little they cared about personal freedoms when they voted overwhelmingly to pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The NDAA allows for the indefinite detention of individuals based merely on a suspicion or allegation of sympathizing with questionable groups or causes.

This act is a prominent threat to the inalienable due process rights
of every US citizen as laid out in the Constitution.

It allows the military to engage in civilian law enforcement, and
to suspend due process, habeas corpus or other constitutional
guarantees when desired.

Our congressmen passed one of the greatest threats to civil liberties in the history of the United States. Will we hold them accountable on election day?

Will we hold our elected officials accountable for supporting rigid Internet censorship laws such as SOPA, PIPA, HR 1981 and the ACTA treaty?

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) aimed to crack down on copyright infringement by restricting user access to websites that hosted or helped facilitate pirated content.

SOPA and PIPA’s ambiguous, broad wording would have cast a wide censorship net around most of the Internet, thus creating questions of due process, burden of proof, and privacy violations.

The proposed laws were lobbied and paid for by Hollywood, RIAA, MPAA and other massive media companies and would safeguard entertainment industry profits at the expense of essential freedoms, the Internet and constitutional civil liberties.

Even if the goal was to merely regulate pirated content, the
ambiguous wording demonstrates that the authors and supporters
of SOPA and PIPA have little-to-no understanding of the Internet’s
architecture or the frightening implications of the legislation.

What can you do? You are one person. You have one vote.

Use that vote on November 6 to hold your elected official
accountable for supporting bills such as NDAA, SOPA and PIPA.

We are calling on voters, activists and keyboard warriors under
all banners to unite as a single force to unseat the elected
representatives who threaten our essential freedoms and who
were so quick to minimize our individual constitutional rights for
a quick corporate profit.

Follow @OurPolls and @AnonPAC for updates, news, leaks, and calls to action.

Below we have a couple lists for you to consider:

(1) All US Senators up for reelection in 2012 who voted to support
the NDAA and who still support PIPA

(2) All US Representatives up for reelection in 2012 who voted to
support the NDAA and who still support SOPA

** Note: ALL 435 seats in the US House of Representatives are up
for reelection in November 2012

(1) US Senators Up For Reelection Who Supported NDAA and/or PIPA

Sen. Daniel Akaka [D, HI] ^

Sen. John Barrasso [R, WY] ^

Sen. Jeff Bingaman [D, NM] ^ *

Sen. Scott Brown [R, MA] ^

Sen. Sherrod Brown [D, OH] ^

Sen. Maria Cantwell [D, WA] ^

Sen. Thomas Carper [D, DE] ^

Sen. Robert Casey [D, PA] ^ *

Sen. Kent Conrad [D, ND] ^

Sen. Bob Corker [R, TX] ^ *

Sen. Dianne Feinstein [D, CA] ^ *

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand [D, NY] ^

Sen. Orrin Hatch [R, UT] ^

Sen. Dean Heller [R, NV] ^

Sen. Kay Hutchison [R, TX] ^

Sen. Amy Klobuchar [D, MN] ^ *

Sen. Herbert Kohl [D, WI] ^ *

Sen. Jon Kyl [R, AZ] ^ *

Sen. Richard Lugar [R, IN] ^

Sen. John Manchin [D, WV] ^

Sen. Claire McCaskill [D, MO] ^

Sen. Robert Menedez [D, NJ] ^

Sen. Ben Nelson [D, NE] ^

Sen. Bill Nelson [D, FL] *

Sen. Olympia Snowe [R, ME] ^

Sen. Debbie Ann Stabenow [D, MI] ^

Sen. John Tester [D, MT] ^

Sen. Jim Webb [D, VA] ^

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse [D, RI] ^ *

Sen. Roger Wicker [R, MS] ^

^ = Supported/voted for NDAA

* = Still support PIPA and similar law

(2) US Representatives Up For Reelection Who Supported NDAA and/or SOPA

Rep. Gary Ackerman (NY-5) ^

Rep. Sandy Adams (FL-24) ^

Rep. Robert Aderholt (AL-4) ^

Rep. Todd Akin (MO-2) ^ †

Rep. Rodney Alexander (LA-5) ^

Rep. Jason Altmire (PA-4) ^

Rep. Mark Amodei (NV-2) *

Rep. Robert E. Andrews (NJ-1) ^

Rep. Steve Austria (OH-7) ^ †

Rep. Joe Baca (CA-43) ^ *

Rep. Spencer Bachus (AL-6) ^

Rep. Tammy Baldwin (WI-2) ^ †

Rep. John Barrow (GA-12) ^ *

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett ^

Rep. Joe Barton (TX-6) ^

Rep. Charles Bass (NH-2) ^ *

Rep. Dan Benishek (MI-1) ^

Rep. Rick Berg (ND, at-large) ^ †

Rep. Shelley Berkley (NV-1) ^ †

Rep. Howard Berman (CA-28) ^ *

Rep. Judy Biggert (IL-13) ^

Rep. Brian Bilbray (CA-50) ^

Rep. Gus Bilirakis (FL-9) ^

Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr. (GA-2) ^

Rep. Rob Bishop (UT-1) ^

Rep. Timothy Bishop (NY-1) ^

Rep. Diane Black (TN-6) ^

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (TN-7) ^

Rep. Jo Bonner (AL-1) ^

Rep. Mary Bono Mack (CA-45) ^ *

Rep. Dan Boren (OK-2) ^ †

Rep. Leonard Boswell (IA-3) ^

Rep. Charles Boustany Jr. (LA-7) ^

Rep. Kevin Brady (TX-8) ^

Rep. Robert Brady (PA-1) ^

Rep. Mo Brooks (AL-5) ^

Rep. Paul Broun (GA-10) ^

Rep. Corrine Brown (FL-3) ^

Rep. Vern Buchanan (FL-13) ^

Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (NY-25) ^

Rep. GK Butterfield (NC-1) ^

Rep. Ken Calvert (CA-44) ^

Rep. Dave Camp (MI-4) ^

Rep. Francisco Canseco (TX-23) ^

Rep. Eric Cantor (VA-7) ^

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (WV-2) ^

Rep. Louis Capps (CA-23) ^

Rep. Dennis Cardoza (CA-18) ^ †

Rep. Russ Carnahan (MO-3) ^

Rep. John Carney (DE at-large) ^

Rep. John Carter (TX-31) ^

Rep. William Cassidy (LA-6) ^

Rep. Kathy Castor (FL-11) ^

Rep. Steve Chabot (OH-1) ^ *

Rep. Ben Chandler (KY-6) ^

Rep. Judy Chu (CA-32) *

Rep. David Civilline (RI-1) ^

Rep. Tom Cole (OK-4) ^

Rep. Michael Conaway (TX-11) ^

Rep. Gerry Conolly (VA-11) ^

John Conyers Jr. (MI 14) *

Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-5) ^ *

Rep. Jim Costa (CA-20) ^

Rep. Joe Courteney (CT-2) ^

Rep. Rick Crawford (AR-1) ^

Rep. Ander Crenshaw (FL-4) ^

Rep. Mark Critz (PA-12) ^

Rep. Joseph Crowley (NY-7) ^

Rep. Henry Cuellar (TX-28) ^

Rep. John Culbertson (TX-7) ^

Rep. Susan Davis (CA-53) ^

Rep. Geoff Davis (KY-4) ^ †

Rep. Jeff Denham (CA-19) ^

Rep. Charles Dent (PA-15) ^

Rep. Ted Deutch (FL-19) *

Rep. Norman Dicks (WA-6) ^

Rep. John Dingell (MI-15) ^

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (TX-25) ^

Rep. Robert Dold (IL-10) ^

Rep. Joe Donnelly (IN-2) ^ †

Rep. David Dreier (CA-26) ^

Rep. Sean Duffy (WI-7) ^

Rep. Renee Ellmers (NC-2) ^

Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (MO-8) ^

Rep. Eliot Engel (NY-17) ^

Rep. Blake Farenthold (TX-27) ^

Rep. Stephen Fincher (TN-8) ^

Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (PA-8) ^

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (TN-3) ^

Rep. John Fleming (LA-4) ^

Rep. Bill Flores (TX-17) ^

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (NE-1) ^

Rep. Virginia Foxx (NC-5) ^

Rep. Trent Franks (AZ-2) ^

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ-11) ^

Rep. Marcia Fudge (OH-11) ^

Rep. Elton Gallegly (CA-24) ^ * †

Rep. John Garamendi (CA-10) ^

Rep. Cory Gardner (CO-4) ^

Rep. Jim Gerlach (PA-6) ^

Rep. Bob Gibbs (OH-18) ^

Rep. Chris Gibson (NY-20) ^

Rep. Phil Gingrey (GA-11) ^

Rep. Louie Gohmert (TX-1) ^

Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (TX-20) ^ †

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (VA-6) *

Rep. Kay Granger (TX-12) ^

Rep. Sam Graves (MO-6) ^

Rep. Al Green (TX-9) ^

Rep. Gene Green (TX-29) ^

Rep. Tim Griffin (AR-2) ^

Rep. Michael Grimm (NY-13) ^

Rep. Frank Guinta (NH-1) ^

Rep. Brett Guthrie (KY-2) ^

Rep. Ralph Hall (TX-4) ^

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (HI-1) ^

Rep. Richard Hanna (NY-24) ^

Rep. Gregg Harper (MS-3) ^

Rep. Vicky Hartzler (MO-4) ^

Rep. Doc Hastings (WA-4) ^

Rep. Nan Hayworth (NY-19) ^

Rep. Joe Heck (NV-3) ^

Rep. Jeb Hensarling (TX-5) ^

Rep. Wally Herger (CA-2) ^ †

Rep. Jamie Jerrera Beutler (WA-3) ^

Rep. Brian Higgins (NY-27) ^

Rep. Jim Himes (CT-4) ^

Rep. Mazie Hirono (HI-2) ^

Rep. Kathy Hochul (NY-26) ^

Rep. Tim Holden (PA-17) ^

Rep. Steny Hoyer (MD-5) ^

Rep. Randy Hultgren (IL-14) ^

Rep. Duncan Hunter (CA-52) ^

Rep. Jay Inslee (WA-1) ^ †

Rep. Steve Israel (NY-2) ^

Rep. Darrell Issa (CA-49) ^

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18) ^

Rep. Lynn Jenkins (KS-2) ^

Rep. Bill Johnson (OH-6) ^

Rep. Sam Johnson (TX-3) ^

Rep. Jim Jordan (OH-4) ^

Rep. William Keating (MA-10) ^

Rep. Mike Kelly (PA-3) ^

Rep. Dale Kildee (MI-5) ^ †

Rep. Ron Kind (WI-3) ^

Rep. Steve King (IA-5) ^

Rep. Pete King (NY-3) ^ *

Rep. Jack Kingston (GA-1) ^

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (IL-11) ^

Rep. Larry Kissell (NC-8) ^

Rep. John Kline (MN-2) ^

Rep. Doug Lamborn (CO-5) ^

Rep. Leonard Lance (NJ-7) ^

Rep. Jeffrey Landry (LA-3) ^

Rep. Jim Langevin (RI-2) ^

Rep. James Lankford (OK-5) ^

Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-2) ^

Rep. John Larson (CT-1) ^ *

Rep. Tom Latham (IA-4) ^

Rep. Robert Latta (OH-5) ^

Rep. Sander Levin (MI-12) ^

Rep. John Lewis (GA-5) ^

Rep. Daniel Lipinski (IL-3) ^

Rep. Frank LoBiondo (NJ-2) ^

Rep. David Loebsack (IA-2) ^

Rep. Billy Long (MO-7) ^

Rep. Nita Lowey (NY-18) ^

Rep. Frank Lucas (OK-3) ^

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-9) ^

Rep. Daniel Lungren (CA-3) ^

Rep. Donald Manzullo (IL-16) ^

Rep. Kenny Marchant (TX-24) ^

Rep. Tom Marino (PA-10) ^ *

Rep. Jim Matheson (UT-2) ^

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (NY-4) ^

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (CA-22) ^

Rep. Michael McCaul (TX-10) ^

Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (MI-11) ^

Rep. Patrick McHenry (NC-10) ^

Rep. Mike McIntyre (NC-7) ^

Rep. Buck McKeon (CA-25) ^

Rep. David McKinley (WV-1) ^

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-5) ^

Rep. Jerry McNerney (CA-11) ^

Rep. Pat Meehan (PA-7) ^

Rep. John Mica (FL-7) ^

Rep. Candice Miller (MI-10) ^

Rep. Jeff Miller (FL-1) ^

Rep. Gary Miller (CA-42) ^

Rep. Tim Murphy (CT-5) ^

Rep. Randy Neugebauer (TX-19) ^

Rep. Kristi Noem (SD at large) ^

Rep. Richard Nugent (FL-5) ^

Rep. Devin Nunes (CA-21) ^

Rep. Alan Nunnelee (MS-1) ^ *

Rep. Pete Olson (TX-22) ^

Rep. Bill Owens (NY-23) ^ *

Rep. Steven Palazzo (MS-4) ^

Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (NJ-8) ^

Rep. Ed Pastor (AZ-4) ^

Rep. Erik Paulsen (MN-3) ^

Rep. Steve Pearce (NM-2) ^

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (CA-8) ^

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (CO-7) ^

Rep. Collin Peterson (MN-7)

Rep. Thomas Petri (WI-6) ^

Rep. Todd Platts (Pa-16) ^ †

Rep. Ted Poe (TX-2) ^

Rep. Mike Pompeo (KS-4) ^

Rep. Tom Price (GA-6) ^

Rep. Ben Quayle (AZ-3) ^

Rep. Nick Rahall (WV-3) ^

Rep. Tom Reed (NY-29) ^

Rep. Dennis Rehberg (MT at-large) ^ †

Rep. David Reichert (WA-8) ^

Rep. Jim Renacci (OH-16) ^

Rep. Silverstre Reyes (TX-16) ^

Rep. Laura Richardson (CA-37) ^

Rep. Scott Rigell (VA-2) ^

Rep. David Rivera (FL-25) ^

Rep. Martha Roby (AL-2) ^

Rep. Mike Rogers (AL-3) ^

Rep. Mike Rogers (MI-8) ^

Rep. Harold Rogers (KY-5) ^

Rep. Tom Rooney (FL-16) ^

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-18) ^

Rep. Peter Roskam (IL-6) ^

Rep. Mike Ross (AR-4) ^ †

Rep. Dennis Ross (FL-12) ^ *

Rep. Steven Rothman (NJ-9) ^

Rep. Jon Runyan (NJ-3) ^

Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-2) ^

Rep. Paul Ryan (WI-1) ^

Rep. Linda Sanchez (CA-39) ^

Rep. Steve Scalise (LA-1) ^

Rep. Adam Schiff (CA-29) ^ *

Rep. Bobby Schilling (IL-17) ^

Rep. Jean Schmidt (OH-2) ^

Rep. Aaron Schock (IL-18) ^

Rep. Kurt Schrader (OR-5) ^

Rep. Allyson Schwartz (PA-13) ^

Rep. Tim Scott (SC-1) ^

Rep. James Sensenbrenner (WI-5)

Rep. Pete Sessions (TX-32) ^

Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-7) ^

Rep. Brad Sherman (CA-27) ^ *

Rep. John Shimkus (IL-19) ^

Rep. Heath Shuler (NC-11) ^

Rep. Bill Shuster (PA-9) ^

Rep. Albio Sires (NJ

Rep. Adam Smith (WA-9) ^

Rep. Adrian Smith (NE-3) ^

Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-4) ^

Rep. Lamar Smith (TX-21) ^ *

Rep. Steve Southerland (FL-2) ^

Rep. Cliff Stearns (FL-6) ^

Rep. Steve Stivers (OH-15) ^

Rep. John Sullivan (OK-1) ^

Rep. Betty Sutton (OH-13) ^

Rep. Lee Terry (NE-2) ^

Rep. Glenn Thompson (PA-5) ^

Rep. Mac Thornberry (TX-13) ^

Rep. Pat Tiberi (OH-12) ^

Rep. Niki Tsongas (MA-5) ^

Rep. Michael Turner (OH-3) ^

Rep. Robert Turner (NY-9) ^

Rep. Fred Upton (MI-6) ^

Rep. Peter Visclosky (IN-1) ^

Rep. Greg Walden (OR-2) ^

Rep. Timothy Walz (MN-1) ^

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-20) ^ *

Rep. Mel Watt (NC-12) *

Rep. Henry Waxman (CA-30) ^

Rep. Daniel Webster (FL-8) ^

Rep. Allen West (FL-22) ^

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (GA-3) ^

Rep. Ed Whitfield (KY-1) ^

Rep. Frederica Wilson (KY-1) ^

Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-2) ^

Rep. Robert Wittman (VA-1) ^

Rep. Frank Wolf (VA-10) ^

Rep. Steve Womack (AR-3) ^

Rep. Kevin Yoder (KS-3) ^

Rep. Don Young (AK at-large) ^

Rep. Todd Young (IN-9) ^

^ = Supported/voted for NDAA

* = Still support SOPA and similar law

† =Retiring in 2012

Special Thanks to the following in coordinating this on-going action:
















* More to come :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Bradley Manning, Solitary Confinement and Occupy 4 Prisoners

Bradley Manning, Solitary Confinement and Occupy 4 Prisoners

By Bill Quigley
Information Clearing House
Thursday, February 23, 2012

Today U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning is to be formally charged with numerous crimes at Fort Meade, Maryland.

Manning, who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by members
of the Icelandic Parliament, is charged with releasing hundreds of
thousands of documents exposing secrets of the U.S. government
to the whistleblower website WikiLeaks.

These documents exposed lies, corruption and crimes by the US
and other countries.

The Bradley Manning defense team points out accurately that much
of what was published by WikiLeaks was either not actually secret
or should not have been secret.

The Manning prosecution is a tragic miscarriage of justice.

U.S. officials are highly embarrassed by what Manning exposed and are shooting the messenger.

As Glen Greenwald, the terrific Salon writer, has observed, President Obama has prosecuted more whistleblowers for espionage than all other presidents combined.

One of the most outrageous parts of the treatment of Bradley Manning is that the U.S. kept him in illegal and torturous solitary confinement conditions for months at the Quantico Marine base in Virginia.

Keeping Manning in solitary confinement sparked challenges from many groups including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the ACLU and the New York Times.

Human rights' advocates rightly point out that solitary confinement
is designed to break down people mentally.

Because of that, prolonged solitary confinement is internationally recognized as a form of torture.

The conditions and practices of isolation are in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Convention against Torture, and the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination.

Medical experts say that after 60 days in solidarity peoples'
mental state begins to break down.

That means a person will start to experience panic, anxiety, confusion, headaches, heart palpitations, sleep problems, withdrawal, anger, depression, despair, and over-sensitivity.

Over time this can lead to severe psychiatric trauma and harms
like psychosis, distortion of reality, hallucinations, mass anxiety
and acute confusion.

Essentially, the mind disintegrates.

That is why the United Nations special rapporteur on torture sought to investigate Manning's solitary confinement and reprimanded the U.S. when the Army would not let him have an unmonitored visit.

History will likely judge Manning as heroic as it has Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers.

It is important to realize that tens of thousands of other people besides Manning are held in solitary confinement in the U.S. today and every day.

Experts estimate a minimum of 20,000 people are held in solitary in supermax prisons alone, not counting thousands of others in state and local prisons who are also held in solitary confinement.

And solitary confinement is often forced on Muslim prisoners, even pre-trial people who are assumed innocent, under federal Special Administrative Measures.

In 1995, the U.N. Human Rights Committee stated that isolation conditions in certain U.S. maximum security prisons were incompatible with international standards.

In 1996, the U.N. special rapporteur on torture reported on cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment in U.S. supermax prisons.

In 2000, the U.N. Committee on Torture roundly condemned the United States for its treatment of prisoners, citing supermax prisons.

In May 2006, the same committee concluded that the United States should "review the regimen imposed on detainees in supermax prisons, in particular, the practice of prolonged isolation."

John McCain said his two years in solitary confinement were torture.

"It crushes your spirit and weakens your resistance effectively than any other form of mistreatment."

The reaction of McCain and many other victims of isolation torture
were described in an excellent 2009 New Yorker article on isolation
by Atul Gawande.

Gawande concluded that prolonged isolation is objectively horrifying, intrinsically cruel, and more widespread in the U.S. than any country in the world.

This week hundreds of members of the Occupy movement merged forces with people advocating for human rights for prisoners in demonstrations in California, New York, Ohio, and Washington DC.

They call themselves Occupy 4 Prisoners.

Activists are working to create a social movement for serious and fundamental changes in the U.S. criminal system.

One of the major complaints of prisoner human rights activists is
the abuse of solitary confinement in prisons across the U.S..

Prison activist Mumia Abu-Jamal said justice demands the end of
solitary, "It means the abolition of solitary confinement, for it is
no more than modern-day torture chambers for the poor."

Pelican Bay State Prison in California, the site of a hunger strike by hundreds of prisoners last year, holds over 1000 inmates in solitary confinement, some as long as 20 years.

At the Occupy Prisoners rally outside San Quentin prison, the
three American hikers who were held for a year in Iran told of
the psychological impact of 14 months of solitary confinement.

Sarah Shourd said the time without human contact drove her to
beat the walls of her cell until her knuckles bled.

When Manning was held in solitary he was kept in his cell 23 hours
a day for months at a time.

The U.S. government tortured him to send a message to others
who might consider blowing the whistle on U.S. secrets.

At the same time, tens of thousands of others in the U.S. are being held in their cells 23 hours a day for months, even years at a time.

That torture is also sending a message.

Thousands stood up with Bradley Manning and got him released from solitary.

People must likewise stand up with the thousands of others in solitary as well.

So, stand in solidarity with Bradley Manning and fight against his prosecution.

And stand also against solitary confinement of the tens of thousands in U.S. jails and prisons.

Check out the Bradley Manning Support Network, Solitary Watch, and Occupy 4 Prisoners for ways to participate.

Bill Quigley - Law Professor, Loyola University New Orleans, CCR Associate Legal Director.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Cash of The Titans

Against The Noxious Fantasy Of Limitless Growth

By Phil Rockstroh
February 22, 2012

The concept of endless economic growth, accepted as sacrosanct
by both U.S. mainstream political parties, and internalized as the
dominant mode of mind by the general population of the corporate/
consumer state is mirrored in the exponential mathematics of a malignancy.

Cancer, if given voice, would proclaim itself to be a believer in
"free market values"…devoted to the principle of endless growth…
until, of course, it would silence its own voice by killing its host.

Likewise, all life seeks limits or prematurely dooms itself.

The same holds true with addiction to unlimited economic
expansion…the craving for incessant ascension is, in fact,
a doomed Icarusian flight.

In our time, politics as usual has failed to address the most
pressing issues of the age:

The manner by which neoliberal economic agendas exploit the
masses in the service of a corrupt elite, and in so doing,
decimating individual hopes and aspirations, as, all the while,
the environmental dangers, endemic to the unchecked system,
imperil the survival of humankind.

Although, alarmingly, both political parties continue to serve
the status quo:

Contemporary conservatives promote--in fact, seem to outright
revel in--the litanies of a gospel of global-wide destruction
(in the case of religious fundamentalists even going so far as
to implore the forces of heaven, with fervid prayers, to expedite
doomsday's date of arrival) by means of militarist aggression and
environmental carnage--while squeamish liberals are devotees of
the cliché-worshipping temple of incremental change.

From the right flank of this disastrous cosmology of convenience, Rick Santarium insists that a literal interpretation and societal application of "The Scriptures" i.e., an ad hoc collection of the laws, legends and beliefs of Middle Eastern, Bronze Age, hill country barbarians will remedy our national woes.

Accordingly, what is one to make of this lovely bit of wisdom from Isaiah (13:9,15–18)?

"Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger . . . Every one that is found shall be thrust through . . . Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes . . . and their wives ravished. Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them. . . [T]hey shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eye shall not spare children."

Lovely, huh? Surely, we've evolved past such barbaric sentiments.

What kind of a blood-besotted people would accept such an
abomination to the tenets of modern civilization and basic
human decency?

Tragically, this is who:

Both political parties of U.S. duopoly and their supporters, comprising
a nation of people, who by large majorities support, for example, the
Obama administration's policy of warfare waged by predator drone
attack. Military actions that often result in an Old Testament-style
"dashing to pieces" the bodies of children.

What does it matter now to the dead whether the reason given
for perpetrating these monstrous acts are based on Santarium's
psychotic concretization of religious lore or Obama's slick, national
security state rationalizations?

As neocons press the petal to the metal of the war machine,
mainstream liberal apologists for the status quo, luxuriating
upon the hurtling juggernaut, counsel us that any change in
direction and velocity must be incremental, as they proffer
other brain-dead, political clichés about the need for "civility"
and "political realism" involving the criteria of sausage making.

First, clichés are zombies; they are dead to the novelty of the living moment, and they eat the brains of inspiration. They are worse than lazy thinking--they are putrefied thought. Worse, clichés will not die, because they are already dead. Burn them with fire…reduce them to ashes…let the ash mulch the soil where future inspiration will grow.

Second, an incremental approach is an utterly useless, if not delusional, response to the situation.

The U.S., through the decades of the post-war era, has been
moving with increasing rapidity towards becoming an outright
national security/corporate authoritarian state.

At this point, this much is evident regarding mainstream liberals
who tout the virtues of "incremental change": they, from their
comfortable perch of privilege, do so, because they harbor scant
desire to alter the present order.

Still, mainstream liberals are baffled as to why people find them
so unbearable, when, in their swoons of self-regard, they believe
themselves to be oh-so reasonable sorts who selflessly wish
everyone the best.

If you are an advocate of incrementalism, then you co-sign the
present order--and the present order consists of corporate/
military/police state dominance over almost every aspect of life
in the U.S.

In short, "reasonable", "well-meaning" liberals--you are complicit
in crimes against human dignity when you bandy your incremental
change fantasies.

This is what your reasonable, well-meaning, piecemeal approach
is worth...Not a drop of blood of the innocent slaughtered in your
predator drone-besotted president's wars of imperium whose blood-
drenched deeds you co-sign with your casuistry.

Your faux civil pose is worth about a handful of dust.

Obama apologists you can keep making excuses for dear leader--although, it strains credulity as to how anyone with a working moral compass can continue to defend him, or any leader, who has proven himself to be a stalwart defender of the dominant order.

Regarding which, the defining trait of the financial and corporate elite, who lord over the present system has proven to be an all-consuming lust for riches that an individual could not spend in a thousand lifetimes.

Their concept of what constitutes acts of trade and commerce is analogous to what pornography is to erotica.

Accordingly, one would regard the greedheads of the one percent
with the same compassion that one grants to a porn addict, if not
for the fact that acts of autoeroticism are not responsible for
climate chaos nor did the activity bring down the global economy.

In contrast, this ongoing, noxious, degrading circle jerk of the elite did.

And this brings us to what is at the root of the current siege
mentality of the architects and operatives of the corporate/
militarist state:

Below the armament-bristling surface, and at the dark heart of the subterfuge of one percenters’ yawns this abysmal psychology:

If an individual insists on existing in a fortified tower of the mind,
the truths of his own heart, as well as those arriving from the soul
of the world, will appear to him to be acts of sedition; the longings
of his own heart for compassion will be misinterpreted as signs of
weakness and emotionally displaced as a malignant, paranoid fantasy
in which his own desire for resonate human contact will seem to be
the attack of an invading army of rebels.

By reflex (mirrored outwardly in the modus operandi of the one
percent against a rising, global chorus of political protest and social
unrest) he will attempt to block out and silence the admonitions of
his own besieged heart, doubling down on his paranoid actions, until
the fortifications in and around himself (the mass psychology of a
national security state) have grown to titanic proportions.

An inhuman system that has come to stand for little but the empty
perpetuation of itself, according to the metaphoric lexicon of the
ancient Greeks, is tantamount to approaching existence as a Titan
and they did not mean the metaphoric designation to be taken as

The Greek poets believed an evincing of titanic traits was an anathema to human life and an affront to the gods.

According to Homer, after returning from a long military campaign,
the reluctant warrior, Hector, who upon seeing his young son,
Astyanax, for the first time, in a misguided attempt to bestow a hug
on his son, pressed the boy, with too much force, to his armored
breastplate, causing the child to cry out in pain.

Upon noticing his son's distress, Hector eased the pressure (an act
of sensitivity; conversely, some father's never notice the agony they
inflict on their sons in their wrong-headed attempts to show their love).

Then Hector held the boy skyward and offered him to Zeus. We should all be so lucky.

Zeus, after all, is the father of the gods; therefore, Hector granted his son the right to choose his own unique destiny; he was given free will.

In contrast, at present, the collective fathers of this culture have given us--and we now give our own children--to the Titans of the corporate/militarist state.

Titans, who, as Titans are prone to do, eat their young.

According to Greek mythology, human beings could not exist on earth until Zeus banished and imprisoned his father, Cronus, a Titan, and the other Titans to the depths of Hades.

In human terms, we call this an uprising.

At present, daily life has become defined by the caprice of titanic forces (forces that devour our humanity). Fellow human beings, we are long overdue for this:

The hour has arrived to demand an end to the destructive reign of
these self-serving elites who have proven, time and time again,
they care nothing about the suffering they bring to humanity nor
the damage they inflict on this living planet.

In our time, when feedback loops of methane gas are melting arctic
ice at an exponential rate, yet the powers that be continue their
pursuit of ruthless agendas that perpetuate this death-worshiping
trajectory, it is evident that politics as usual has failed.

Incremental change will not slow a runaway train. Awareness and action might.

In our case, at this late date, if the corporate elite, who control the
agendas of the state, are not challenged and brought to heel, and
soon, then there is little else left for us to do, other than become
hospice workers for our doomed species.

Even the notion of (much less the cultural imperative) of constant, endless growth causes one to feel diminished.

Resultantly, the imagination seeks to fall in love with limits--a
process we mislabel as depression, a form of repressed grieving
that brings feelings of powerlessness, but when tweaked by an
active participation in confronting malignant power can be
transformed into a life-vivifying vehemence to bring meaning
and structure to an overly complex system.

"All around us, the fundamentals of life are crying out to be shaped, or created."--Joseph Beuys

Conversely, personal devotion to a fear-bulwarked, habitually self-
serving egoism, as opposed to embracing a soul-infused selfhood,
creates a catastrophe of malignant greed--a disastrously narrow,
resonance-bereft approach to consciousness that alone cannot carry
the multiverse of the self into the world.

Hence, a selfish man's relentless obsession to possess the bounty of
our planet can never assuage his sense of insecurity and emptiness,
not even if all the plundered riches of the ravaged earth were laid
before him for his taking.

Phil Rockstroh is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in
New York City. He may be contacted at:

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Economic Security Beyond Jobs

Let's pay dividends to everyone from our common wealth

In Europe, there is growing interest in a minimum income that
would be paid to all by the state.

In the U.S., conservative author Charles Murray recently proposed a $10,000 guaranteed income, similar to Milton Friedman’s negative income tax, to replace welfare, food stamps, Social Security and Medicare.

Here, OTC co-founder Peter Barnes, author of Capitalism 3.0, proposes commons-based income for all in addition to the existing safety net and separate from the federal budget.

His proposal rests on the notion that common wealth belongs to everyone and that, as co-owners, we have a right to receive dividends.

By Peter Barnes
On The
February 21, 2012

A cushion of reliable income is a wonderful thing.

It can help pay for basic necessities. It can be saved for rainy days
or used to pursue happiness on sunny days. It can encourage people
to take entrepreneurial risks, care for friends, or volunteer for
community service.

Conversely, the absence of reliable income is a terrible thing.

It heightens anxiety and fear. It diminishes our ability to cope with crises and transitions. It traps many families on the knife’s edge of poverty, and makes it harder for poor people to rise.

There’s been much discussion of late about how to save America’s declining middle class. The answer politicians of both parties give is always the same: jobs, jobs, jobs.

The parties differ on how the jobs will be created — Republicans say the market will do it if we cut taxes and regulation. Democrats say government can help by investing in infra¬structure and education.

Either way, it still comes down to jobs with decent wages and benefits.

It’s understandable that politicians say this: it was America’s experience in the past.

In the years following World War II, we built a solid middle class
on the foundation of high-paying, mostly unionized jobs in the
manufacturing sector.

But those days are history.

Today, automation and computers have eliminated millions of jobs, and private-sector unions have been crushed.

On top of that, in a globalized economy where capital can hire the cheapest labor anywhere, it’s no longer credible to believe that America’s middle class can prosper from labor income alone.

So why don’t we pay everyone some non-labor income — you know, the kind of money that flows disproportionally to the rich?

I’m not talking about redistribution here, I’m talking about paying dividends to equity owners in good old capitalist fashion.

Except that the equity owners in question aren’t owners of private wealth, they’re owners of common wealth. Which is to say, all of us.

One state—Alaska—already does this.

The Alaska Permanent Fund uses revenue from state oil leases
to invest in stocks, bonds and similar assets, and from those
investments pays equal dividends to every resident.

Since 1980, these dividends have ranged from $1,000 to $2,000 per year per person, including children (meaning that they’ve reached up to $8,000 per year for households of four).

It’s therefore no accident that, compared to other states, Alaska has the third highest median income and the second highest income equality.

Alaska’s model can be extended to any state or nation, whether or not they have oil.

Imagine an American Permanent Fund that pays dividends to all Americans, one person, one share.

A major source of revenue could be clean air, nature’s gift to us all.

Polluters have been freely dumping ever-increasing amounts of gunk into our air, contributing to ill-health, acid rain and climate change.

But what if we required polluters to bid for and pay for permits to pollute our air, and decreased the number of permits every year?

Pollution would decrease, and as it did, pollution prices would rise. Less pollution would yield more revenue. Over time, trillions of dollars would be available for dividends.

And that’s not the only common resource an American Permanent Fund could tap.

Consider the substantial contribution society makes to publicly traded stock values.

When a company like Facebook or Google goes public, its value rises dramatically.

The extra value derives from the vastly enlarged market of investors who can trust a public company’s financial statements (filed quarterly with the Securities and Exchange Commission) and buy or sell its shares with the click of a mouse.

Experts call this a ‘liquidity premium,’ and it’s generated not by the company but by society.

This socially created wealth now flows mostly to a small number of Americans.

But if we wanted to, we could spread it around.

We could do that by charging corporations for the extra liquidity that society provides.

Let’s say we required public companies to deposit 1 percent of their shares in the American Permanent Fund for ten years, up to a total of 10 percent.

This would be a modest price not just for public liquidity but for other privileges (limited liability, perpetual life, constitutional protections) we currently grant to corporations for free.

In due time, the American Permanent Fund would have a diversified portfolio worth trillions of dollars. As the stock market rose and fell, so would everyone’s dividends.

A rising tide would truly lift all boats.

There are other potential revenue sources for common wealth dividends. For example, we give free airwaves to media companies and nearly perpetual (and nearly global) copyright protection to entertainment and software companies.

These free gifts are worth big bucks. If their recipients were required to pay us for them, we’d all be a little richer.

Banks are another large recipient of our collective largesse.

I’m not talking about bail-out funds; I’m talking about the hugely valuable right we give banks to create money out of nothing.

Banks do this (with our generous permission) by lending roughly seven times the money customers deposit (this is called ‘fractional reserve banking’); they then charge interest on these magically minted dollars.

This gift to banks is justified on the grounds that it injects needed
cash into the economy, but a comparable boost could be achieved
by giving people new government-issued dollars — for example, by
wiring money to their bank accounts — and limiting bank lending to
money actually on deposit.

Fresh money would then trickle up through households rather than down through banks.

Regardless of its revenue sources, the mechanics of an American Permanent Fund would be simple.

Every U.S. resident with a valid Social Security number would be eligible to open a Shared Wealth Account at a bank or brokerage firm; dividends would then be wired to their accounts monthly.

There’d be no means test — and no shame — attached to these earnings, as there are to welfare.

Nor would there be any hint of class warfare — Bill Gates would
get his dividends along with everyone else.

And since the revenue would come from common wealth, there’d
be no need to raise taxes or cut government spending.

All we’d have to do is charge for private use of common wealth and feed the resulting revenue into an electronic distribution system.

How large should dividends be? The amounts paid would vary from year to year just as corporate dividends do.

But the system should be designed so that dividends supplement rather than replace labor income.

One good guide is Warren Buffet’s rule for bequeathing money to children: give them “enough to do anything, but not enough to do nothing.”

We could also bear in mind that the higher the dividends, the
stronger the middle class and the smaller the gap between the
richest 1 percent and everyone else.

The United States isn’t broke, as some Republican say; we’re a
very wealthy and productive country.

The problem is that our wealth and productivity gains flow disproportionately to the rich in the form of dividends, capital gains, rent and interest.

If we want to remain a middle class nation, that needs to change.

Jobs alone won’t suffice.

We need to complement wages with non-labor income from the wealth we all own.

That would truly make us an ownership society.

Peter Barnes—an entrepreneur who co-founded Working Assets and a solar energy company is co-founder of On the Commons. He is also the author of Capitalism 3.0: A Guide to Reclaiming the Commons.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Orthodox Economics Gone Mad

Orthodox Economics Gone Mad

By Adnan Al-Daini
February 17, 2012

The mantra of growth as a cure to the economic malaise that is engulfing Europe and the US is repeated ad nauseam by economists and political pundits.

My training is in engineering science, not economics, so let us not
be encumbered by economic dogma or theory.

Let us go back to first principles to examine some of the prevailing economic axioms.

If we insist that western economies must continue to grow year after year for poor people even to have the basics for life, and since we know that only little of the wealth created trickles down, then before too long we will end up devouring the whole planet.

Of course, well before we reach that point, we will have degraded
our environment to the point where life becomes unsustainable for
all of us, rich and poor, and certainly for future generations.

How can this growth be achieved anyway?

If most of the wealth created finds its way to the top 10 % (UK figures: the top 1% own 21% of wealth, and the top 10% own 53%) where is the demand going to come from?

I hope no one is suggesting we fuel it by unsustainable debt and usury, which is what brought us to this crisis in the first place.

Those at the top already have more money than they know what to
do with; there is a limit to how much an individual can consume.

How many cars and gadgets does an individual need?

Yet in America 47 million people live in poverty, 50 million
with no health insurance, and 1.5 million children are homeless.

In the UK, 13.5 million people live in poverty (22% of the population, 29% of all children), 65,000 households are classified as homeless.

We have to substantially change wealth distribution in our societies for the economic system to be sustainable.

As rich western societies, don’t we have a moral duty to do something more imaginative than simply trying to create a bigger cake in the hope that the share for the poor will increase by a sliver more?

Wouldn’t it be fairer and more effective to divide the existing cake, which is big enough, more equitably?

Globally, Justin Forsyth, CEO of Save the Children, explained on Radio 4’s Today programme that in the next 15 years 500 million children worldwide will be physically and mentally stunted because they do not have enough to eat, due to soaring world food prices.

This statistic diminishes us all as human beings.

Capitalism is grinding to a halt because the market is confined
to the rich, who are over indulged and cannot consume any more.

It is enlightened self interest to help those poor at home and worldwide who need the basics of life to get them onto their feet; they will then need more goods and services, demand will increase, and thus get the engine of capitalism working to supply it.

Will any of this happen? At present I do not think so. Why? Because nobody is prepared to think outside the straightjacket imposed by the lite.

Fresh thinking can only happen if we widen the pool of opinion beyond that of the “experts”.

How about creating a multi-disciplinary team and tasking it to look
at the problem, with no solution no matter how outlandish, ruled out?

In the developing world some 1.6 billion people have no access to an electricity grid. Stand alone photovoltaic systems could provide quick decentralised electricity to these people.

Even if these systems are provided at discounted cost or free, it
is still a good investment, as such systems help lift people from
crippling poverty, increasing their demand for essential goods and
services thus widening the pool of consumers.

The west has the expertise to make a real difference; moreover, it
is a sustainable growth that reduces our dependence on fossil fuel.

Cutting greenhouse gas emissions is beneficial to everyone, rich
and poor.

As a species we have tremendous talents.

Our scientific achievements are incredible; our advances in medicine
and technology are stunning.

Our social development however is still almost at Stone Age level.

We squander an enormous amount of our wealth and talent on
armaments, the equivalent of “my club is bigger than yours”
for our Stone Age ancestors.

We do not quite see the humanity of others; we do not care enough for other human beings to share the resources of this planet and the talents of its people.

Oh, we talk the good talk but take little action.

We are territorial in our thinking, creating artificial borders where our compassion does not significantly cross them.

There are, of course, charities that do valuable work beyond borders,
but the investment in these is minute compared with the money we
spend on weapons of death and destruction.

Even within our own borders we have allowed a situation to develop where enormous wealth and power are given to the select few, impoverishing the rest.

Somehow, we seem to be paralysed by dogma and tunnel thinking
into concluding that the only way out of the economic mess we are
in, created by greed, unsustainable debt and usury, is austerity
programmes across Europe and the U.S, that hurt those most vulnerable.

There are better ways if only we could give our ingenuity and talent a free reign beyond the orthodoxy that has stifled our intelligence and inventiveness as a species.

Creating more equal societies (in the UK , the top 50% own 93%
of the wealth) and growing the economy sustainably, with a much
bigger slice going to the poor and middle classes is the way.

Dr Adnan Al-Daini is a retired University lecturer. He is a British
citizen born in Iraq, which he left in 1962, age 17, on a scholarship
to study in Britain. He writes regularly on issues of social justice
and the Middle East.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Money Throws Democracy Overboard

Money Throws Democracy Overboard

By Bill Moyers and Michael Winship
Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Watching what’s happening to our democracy is like watching the cruise ship Costa Concordia founder and sink slowly into the sea off the coast of Italy, as the passengers, shorn of life vests, scramble for safety as best they can, while the captain trips and falls conveniently into a waiting life boat.

We are drowning here, with gaping holes torn into the hull of the ship of state from charges detonated by the owners and manipulators of capital.

Their wealth has become a demonic force in politics. Nothing can stop them.

Not the law, which has been written to accommodate them. Not scrutiny -- they have no shame.

Not a decent respect for the welfare of others -- the people without means, their safety net shredded, left helpless before events beyond their control.

The obstacles facing the millennial generation didn’t just happen.

Take an economy skewed to the top, low wages and missing jobs, predatory interest rates on college loans: these are politically engineered consequences of government of, by, and for the one percent.

So, too, is our tax code the product of money and politics,
influence and favoritism, lobbyists and the laws they draft
for rented politicians to enact.

Here’s what we’re up against. Read it and weep: “America’s Plutocrats Play the Political Ponies.”

That’s a headline in “Too Much,” an Internet publication from the Institute for Policy Studies that describes itself as “an online weekly on excess and inequality.”

Yes, the results are in and our elections have replaced horse racing as the sport of kings. Only these kings aren’t your everyday poobahs and potentates.

These kings are multi-billionaire, corporate moguls who by the divine right, not of God, but the United States Supreme Court and its Citizens United decision, are now buying politicians like so much pricey horseflesh.

All that money pouring into super PACs, much of it from secret sources: merely an investment, should their horse pay off in November, in the best government money can buy.

They’re shelling out fortunes' worth of contributions. Look at just
a few of them:

Mitt Romney’s hedge fund pals Robert Mercer, John Paulson, Julian
Robertson and Paul Singer – each of whom has ponied up a million or
more for the super PAC called “Restore Our Future” -- as in, "Give
us back the go-go days, when predators ruled Wall Street like it was
Jurassic Park.”

Then there's casino boss Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam, fiercely pro-Israel and anti-President Obama's Mideast policy.

Initially, they placed their bets on Newt Gingrich, who says on his first day in office he’d move the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, a decision that would thrill the Adelsons but infuriate Palestinians and the rest of the Muslim world.

Together, the Adelsons have contributed ten million to Newt's “Winning Our Future” super PAC.

Cowboy billionaire Foster Friess, a born-again Christian who made his fortune herding mutual funds instead of cattle, has been bankrolling the “Red White and Blue Fund” super PAC of Rick Santorum, with whom he shares a social right-wing agenda.

Dark horse Ron Paul has relied on the kindness of PayPal founder
Peter Thiel, a like-minded libertarian in favor of the smallest
government possible, who gave $900,000 to Paul’s “Endorse
Liberty” super PAC.

Hollywood’s Jeffrey Katzenberg has so far emptied his wallet to the
tune of a cool two million for the pro-Obama super PAC, “Priorities
USA Action.”

President Obama -- who kept his distance from Priorities USA Action and used to call the money unleashed by Citizens United a “threat to democracy” -- has declared if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. He urges his wealthy supporters to please go ahead and back the super PAC.

"Our campaign has to face the reality of the law as it stands," his campaign manager Jim Messina said. To do otherwise, he added, would be to "unilaterally disarm" in the face of all those Republican super PAC millions.

So much for Obama’s stand on campaign finance reform – everybody else is doing it, he seems to say, so why don’t you show me the money, too?

When all is said and done, this race for the White House may cost more than two billion dollars.

What’s getting trampled into dust are the voices of people who
aren't rich, not to mention what's left of our democracy.

As Democratic pollster Peter Hart told The New Yorker magazine’s Jane Mayer, “It’s become a situation where the contest is how much you can destroy the system, rather than how much you can make it work."

"It makes no difference if you have a ‘D’ or an ‘R’ after your name. There’s no sense that this is about democracy, and after the election you have to work together, and knit the country together.”

These gargantuan super PAC contributions are not an end in
themselves. They are the means to gain control of government
and the nation state -- for a reason.

The French writer and economist Frederic Bastiat said it plainly:

"When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living in society, they create for themselves, in the course of time, a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it."

That’s what the super PACs are bidding on.

For the rest of us, the ship may already have sailed.

Journalist Bill Moyers is the host of the new show Moyers & Company, a weekly series of smart talk and new ideas aimed at helping viewers make sense of our tumultuous times through the insight of America’s strongest thinkers.

Michael Winship, senior writing fellow at Demos and president of the Writers Guild of America, East, is senior writer of the new public television series Moyers & Company, premiering in January 2012.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Bradley Manning Nominated For Nobel Peace Prize

Bradley Manning Nominated For Nobel Peace Prize

By Birgitta Jónsdóttir
February 09, 2012

February 1st 2012 the entire parliamentary group of The Movement of the Icelandic Parliament nominated Private Bradley Manning for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Following is the reasoning we sent to the committee explaining
why we felt compelled to nominate Private Bradley Manning for
this important recognition of an individual effort to have an
impact for peace in our world.

Our letter to the Nobel Peace Prize Committee:

We have the great honor of nominating Private First Class Bradley Manning for the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize.

Manning is a soldier in the United States army who stands accused of releasing hundreds of thousands of documents to the whistleblower website WikiLeaks.

The leaked documents pointed to a long history of corruption, war crimes, and imperialism by the United States government in international dealings.

These revelations have fueled democratic uprising around the world, including a democratic revolution in Tunisia.

According to journalists, his alleged actions helped motivate the democratic Arab Spring movements, shed light on secret corporate influence on our foreign policies, and most recently contributed to the Obama Administration agreeing to withdraw all U.S.troops from the occupation in Iraq.

Bradley Manning has been incarcerated for well over a year by
the U.S. government without a trial.

He spent over ten months of that time period in solitary
confinement, conditions which experts worldwide have
criticized as torturous.

Juan Mendez, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Torture
and Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, has
repeatedly requested and been denied a private meeting with
Manning to assess his conditions.

The documents made public by WikiLeaks should never have been kept from public scrutiny.

The revelations – including video documentation of an incident in which American soldiers gunned down Reuters journalists in Iraq – have helped to fuel a worldwide discussion about America’s overseas engagements, civilian casualties of war, imperialistic manipulations, and rules of engagement.

Citizens worldwide owe a great debt to the WikiLeaks whistleblower for shedding light on these issues, and so I urge the Committee to award this prestigious prize to accused whistleblower Bradley Manning.

Birgitta Jónsdóttir
Margrét Tryggvadóttir
Þór Saari
Members of the Icelandic Parliament for The Movement

Birgitta Jónsdóttir is a Member (Activist) in the Icelandic Parliament for the Movement - Tibet - - Saving Iceland - Collateral Murder - Poet - FOIA - WikiLeaks @birgittaj

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

6 Ways to Empower Others

6 Ways to Empower Others

What makes a good leader? The gift of strengthening everyone else.

By Starhawk
Feb 07, 2012

An empowering leader holds and serves a vision broad and deep
enough to inspire others and allow them to take parts of it and
make it their own.

When Rob Hopkins founded the Transition Town movement, his
vision was to take the insights of permaculture and ecological
design and apply them on a local community level.

That was a big vision, far too big for any one person to realize

Within it, there was room for many people to step up and
realize their own creative ideas and pursue their interests—
how to transform a vacant lot into a community garden, how
to plant forest gardens in city parks, how to influence policy
around water resources or investment in renewable energy.

Rob’s original vision called many people into their own power
and leadership.

An empowering leader helps the group develop a strategy—a plan
for getting from here to there, with milestones and goals along
the way.

An empowering leader rarely uses Command mode.

Most of the time, she leads by example and persuasion.

But when command is called for, an empowering leader will step
forward and then step back into a more democratic mode once
the need has passed.

An empowering leader also steps back. He doesn’t hog the
center or the spotlight, but is always looking for ways to share.

An empowering leader puts the needs of the group first. He
thinks about how each of his actions will affect the group.

All of this is, of course, the ideal. We can strive for it, but
most of us will fall short in one way or another.

An empowering leader makes mistakes. If she doesn’t, she’s probably not experimenting enough.

An empowering leader is also a good learner, an experienced and willing apologizer, someone who can make amends and move on.

Keep Power Circulating

Power tends to concentrate, and even the most benevolent and empowering leader may unconsciously begin to hoard power over time.

When power becomes permanent and static, the group often stagnates.

Collaborative groups need strategies for sharing power and developing leadership in all group members.

To keep power circulating and flowing freely in the group, we
can adopt a few key elements in our structure.

1. Limit the Accumulation of Power

We can make agreements that limit how much responsibility any
one person can take on, how many committees they can join, for
example, or how many aspects of a project they can coordinate.

We can break big tasks into smaller roles and share them.

2. Share Roles and Responsibilities

Meetings typically are co-facilitated, so that a powerful role is shared.

When roles can be shared, we can also reinforce one another’s strengths and compensate for our weaknesses.

A born Grace whose strengths are affiliative might look for a
partner who is more of a boundary-setting Dragon.

3. Rotate Roles and Responsibilities

Many roles benefit by being rotated—for example, meeting facilitation.

Some roles put people in center stage—media spokes, for example, or convener of a gathering. People who take on those roles get more attention—both positive and negative.

Rotating them can spread both the praise and the blame around
more fairly.

Other roles are more in the nature of chores that must be done—
taking notes at meetings and distributing them, turning the
compost, doing the dishes after the potluck.

When they are shared, no one person is stuck with an unpopular task.

4. Train and Apprentice

Some roles require training and preparation: facilitating big meetings, keeping accurate books, propagating cuttings in the greenhouse.

For the long-term growth of the group, we can create ways that people can learn, apprentice, and be mentored in those skills.

And when skills are needed by the group as a whole—for example, communication skills, consensus process skills—the group should devote resources to provide overall training for all its members.

It will be well repaid over the long term by improvements in
function and by hours and hours of fruitless arguments avoided!

5. Pass Power On

Because roles of power are fluid in collaborative groups, part of
a leader’s job is to sense when and how to pass the power on.

Power circulates, and we can trust that, when we let go, others
will take on the tasks and responsibilities, freeing us up to find
new areas of interest and new challenges.

6. Let Go Gracefully

In a ritual, we often drum up a cone of power, bringing the group
to a peak of excitement.

Drummers, of course, love to speed up and go into a dramatic
drum roll—but we discourage them from doing so because then
they control the pacing and the buildup of energy (and often
get it wrong).

Instead, we teach them to hold a steady pace, listen to the group
and follow the energy instead of driving it.

As the cone rises, the drummers fade back until only voices are left.

The voices raise the cone, because everyone has a voice, though not
everyone has a drum.

Starhawk is the author or coauthor of twelve books, including
The Empowerment Manual: A Guide for Collaborative Groups.

An influential voice for global justice and the environment, she
is deeply committed to bringing the creative power of spirituality
to political activism.

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Spiritual Conspiracy

A Spiritual Conspiracy

By Brian Piergrossi
Want To
February 03, 2012

On the surface of our world right now
There is war, violence, and craziness
And things may seem dark.

But calmly and quietly
At the same time
Something is happening underground.

An inner revolution is taking place
And certain individuals
Are being called to a higher light.

It is a silent revolution
From the inside out
From the ground up.

This is a global co-operation
That has sleeper cells in every nation.
It is a planetary Spiritual Conspiracy.

You won't likely see us on T.V.
You won't read about us in the newspaper.
You won't hear from us on the radio.

We don't seek glory.
We don't wear any uniform.
We come in all shapes and sizes, colors and styles.

We are in every country and culture of the world
In cities big and small, mountains and valleys
In farms and villages, tribes and remote islands.

Most of us work anonymously
Seeking not recognition of name
But profound transformation of life.

Working quietly behind the scenes
You could pass by one of us on the street
And not even notice.

We go undercover
Not concerned for who takes the final credit
But simply that the work gets done.

Many of us may seem to have normal jobs.
But behind the external storefront
Is where the deeper work takes a place.

With the individual and collective power
Of our minds and hearts
We spread passion, knowledge, and joy to all.

Some call us the Conscious Army
As together
We co-create a new world.

Our orders come from the Spiritual Intelligence Agency
Instructing us to drop soft, secret love bombs
when no one is looking.

Poems ~ Hugs ~ Music ~ Photography ~ Smiles ~ Kind words
Movies ~ Meditation and Prayer ~ Dance ~ Websites
Social Activism ~ Blogs ~ Random acts of kindness…

We each express ourselves
In our own unique ways
With our own unique gifts and talents.

"Be the change you want to see in the world"
That is the motto that fills our hearts.
We know this is the path to profound transformation.

We know that quietly and humbly
Individually and collectively
We have the power of all the oceans combined.

At first glance our work is not even visible.
It is slow and meticulous
Like the formation of mountains.

And yet with our combined efforts
Entire tectonic plates
Are being shaped and moved for centuries to come.

Love is the religion we come to share
And you don't need to be highly educated
Or have exceptional knowledge to understand it.

Love arises from the intelligence of the heart
Embedded in the timeless evolutionary pulse
Of all living beings .

Be the change you want to see in the world.
Nobody else can do it for you.
Yet don't forget, we are all here supporting you.

We are now recruiting.
Perhaps you will join us
Or already have.

For in this spiritual conspiracy
All are welcome, and all are loved.
The door is always open.

Are You In?

Edited version of Brian Piergrossi's beautiful essay

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Party People of Wall Street

The Party People of Wall Street

By Bill Moyers and Michael Winship
The Smirking
Thursday, February 02, 2012

A week or so ago, we read in The New York Times about what in the Gilded Age of the Roman Empire was known as a bacchanal – a big blowout at which the imperial swells got together and whooped it up.

This one occurred here in Manhattan at the annual black-tie dinner and induction ceremony for Kappa Beta Phi. That’s the very exclusive Wall Street fraternity of billionaire bankers, and private equity and hedge fund predators.

People like Wilbur Ross, the vulture capitalist; Robert Benmosche, the CEO of AIG, the insurance giant that received tens of billions in bailout money; and Alan “Ace” Greenberg, former chairman of Bear Stearns, the failed investment bank bought by JPMorgan Chase.

They got together at the St. Regis Hotel off Fifth Avenue to eat
rack of lamb, drink and haze their newest members, who are made
to dress in drag, sing and perform skits while braving the insults,
wine-soaked napkins and petit fours – those fancy little frosted
cakes -- hurled at them by the old guard. In other words, a gilt-
edged Animal House, food fight and all.

This year, the butt of many a joke were the protesters of Occupy Wall Street.

In one of the sketches, the bond specialist James Lebenthal scolded
a demonstrator with a face tattoo, “Go home, wash that off your
face and get back to work.” And in another, a member -- dressed
like a protester – was told, “You’re pathetic, you liberal. You need
a bath!”

Pretty hilarious stuff.

The whole affair’s reminiscent of the wingdings the robber barons used to throw during America’s own Gilded Age a century and a half ago, when great wealth amassed at the top, far from the squalor and misery of working stiffs.

Guests would arrive in the glittering mansions for costume balls that rivaled Versailles, reinforcing the sense of superiority and the virtue of a ruling class that depended on the toil and sweat of working people.

That’s consistent with the attitude expressed by several of these
types after Occupy Wall Street sprung up; bankers told the Times
on the record that they could understand the anger of the protesters
camped on their doorstep; but privately, a hedge manager said,
“Most… view [it] as ragtag group looking for sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll.”

So sayeth the winners in our winner-take all economy. The very guys who were celebrating at the St. Regis because they were too big to fail.

Even when they fell flat on their faces, the government was there to dust them off, bail them out and send them back to fight the class war with nary a harsh word or punishment.

Talk about a nanny welfare state.

None of this was by accident. The last three decades have witnessed a carefully calculated heist worthy of Robert Redford and Paul Newman in “The Sting” -- but on a massive scale.

It was an inside job, politically engineered by Wall Street and Washington working hand-in-hand, sticky fingers with sticky fingers, to turn the legend of Robin Hood on its head – giving to the rich and taking from everybody else.

Don’t take our word for it – it’s all on the record.

The biggest of the big boys was Citigroup, at one time the world’s largest financial institution. When the meltdown hit in 2008, the bank cut more than 50,000 jobs and you and other taxpayers shelled out more than $45 billion to save it.

And how are Citigroup executives doing? Nicely, thank you.

Last year, its CEO, Vikram Pandit, took home $1.75 million in base
salary, and was awarded $3.7 million in deferred stock. According
to the Times, “Citigroup is expected to disclose the rest of his pay,
cash, be it upfront or deferred, in March.

In addition, while not necessarily for work performed in 2011, Mr. Pandit last year was awarded a $16.7 million retention bonus, plus stock options that could add $6.5 million to the package’s overall value.”

Makes you want to cry out, “Retain me! Retain me!”

To be fair, Vikram Pandit was at the World Economic Forum in
Davos, Switzerland last week, where he told Bloomberg News, “It’s
important for the financial system to acknowledge that there’s a
great deal of anger directed at it… Trust has been broken. Banks
have to serve clients, not serve themselves.” What’s more, he
has said that the “sentiments” expressed by Occupy Wall Street
demonstrators were “completely understandable.”

This, in contrast to the financial industry official who told a reporter that the protesters’ issues were “a lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

Or, as they used to say while partying down at the court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, let them eat petits fours.

Bill Moyers is managing editor and Michael Winship is senior writer of the new weekly public affairs program, Moyers & Company, airing on public television. Check local airtimes or comment at