Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thousands of Indian farmers are committing suicide

Hi Again, Impeachment Person,
This article Remy Chevalier forwarded to me. The issues closely related to the issues of the article on death by malnutrition in Haiti. Here the problem is that our government has been entirely unwilling to regulate the activities of US corporations overseas even when the corporations are committing negilgent manslaughter. We have an obligation to demand the creation of institutions that will prevent this kind of behavior, punish the individuals and organizations committing it, and compensate families who have lost their livelihood and the lives of their family members because of it. This can be done by national law and by the creation of international legal institutions. The US has the power to do both and we are negligent not to do either.
Again, kindly write Obama.  

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Remy Chevalier <remyc@prodigy.net>
Date: Mon, Nov 24, 2008 at 6:52 PM
Subject: [FairfieldCountyGreens] Thousands of Indian farmers are committing suicide
To: End Secrecy List <endsecrecy@yahoogroups.com>, FairfieldCountyGreens <FairfieldCountyGreens@yahoogroups.com>, LuMag List <LuMag@yahoogroups.com>

The GM genocide: Thousands of Indian farmers are committing suicide after using genetically modified crops

By Andrew Malone
3rd November 2008


When Prince Charles claimed thousands of Indian farmers were killing themselves after using GM crops, he was branded a scaremonger. In fact, as this chilling dispatch reveals, it's even WORSE than he feared.

The children were inconsolable. Mute with shock and fighting back tears, they huddled beside their mother as friends and neighbours prepared their father's body for cremation on a blazing bonfire built on the cracked, barren fields near their home.

As flames consumed the corpse, Ganjanan, 12, and Kalpana, 14, faced a grim future. While Shankara Mandaukar had hoped his son and daughter would have a better life under India's economic boom, they now face working as slave labour for a few pence a day. Landless and homeless, they will be the lowest of the low.

Indian farmer

Human tragedy: A farmer and child in India's 'suicide belt'

Shankara, respected farmer, loving husband and father, had taken his own life. Less than 24 hours earlier, facing the loss of his land due to debt, he drank a cupful of chemical insecticide.

Unable to pay back the equivalent of two years' earnings, he was in despair. He could see no way out.

There were still marks in the dust where he had writhed in agony. Other villagers looked on - they knew from experience that any intervention was pointless - as he lay doubled up on the ground, crying out in pain and vomiting.

Moaning, he crawled on to a bench outside his simple home 100 miles from Nagpur in central India. An hour later, he stopped making any noise. Then he stopped breathing. At 5pm on Sunday, the life of Shankara Mandaukar came to an end.

As neighbours gathered to pray outside the family home, Nirmala Mandaukar, 50, told how she rushed back from the fields to find her husband dead. 'He was a loving and caring man,' she said, weeping quietly.

'But he couldn't take any more. The mental anguish was too much. We have lost everything.'

Shankara's crop had failed - twice. Of course, famine and pestilence are part of India's ancient story.

But the death of this respected farmer has been blamed on something far more modern and sinister: genetically modified crops.

Shankara, like millions of other Indian farmers, had been promised previously unheard of harvests and income if he switched from farming with traditional seeds to planting GM seeds instead.

Prince Charles

Distressed: Prince Charles has set up charity Bhumi Vardaan Foundation to address the plight of suicide farmers

Beguiled by the promise of future riches, he borrowed money in order to buy the GM seeds. But when the harvests failed, he was left with spiralling debts - and no income.

So Shankara became one of an estimated 125,000 farmers to take their own life as a result of the ruthless drive to use India as a testing ground for genetically modified crops.

The crisis, branded the 'GM Genocide' by campaigners, was highlighted recently when Prince Charles claimed that the issue of GM had become a 'global moral question' - and the time had come to end its unstoppable march.

Speaking by video link to a conference in the Indian capital, Delhi, he infuriated bio-tech leaders and some politicians by condemning 'the truly appalling and tragic rate of small farmer suicides in India, stemming... from the failure of many GM crop varieties'.

Ranged against the Prince are powerful GM lobbyists and prominent politicians, who claim that genetically modified crops have transformed Indian agriculture, providing greater yields than ever before.

The rest of the world, they insist, should embrace 'the future' and follow suit.

So who is telling the truth? To find out, I travelled to the 'suicide belt' in Maharashtra state.

What I found was deeply disturbing - and has profound implications for countries, including Britain, debating whether to allow the planting of seeds manipulated by scientists to circumvent the laws of nature.

For official figures from the Indian Ministry of Agriculture do indeed confirm that in a huge humanitarian crisis, more than 1,000 farmers kill themselves here each month.

Simple, rural people, they are dying slow, agonising deaths. Most swallow insecticide - a pricey substance they were promised they would not need when they were coerced into growing expensive GM crops.

It seems that many are massively in debt to local money-lenders, having over-borrowed to purchase GM seed.

Pro-GM experts claim that it is rural poverty, alcoholism, drought and 'agrarian distress' that is the real reason for the horrific toll.

But, as I discovered during a four-day journey through the epicentre of the disaster, that is not the full story.


Death seeds: A Greenpeace protester sprays milk-based paint on a Monsanto research soybean field near Atlantic, Iowa

In one small village I visited, 18 farmers had committed suicide after being sucked into GM debts. In some cases, women have taken over farms from their dead husbands - only to kill themselves as well.

Latta Ramesh, 38, drank insecticide after her crops failed - two years after her husband disappeared when the GM debts became too much.

She left her ten-year-old son, Rashan, in the care of relatives. 'He cries when he thinks of his mother,' said the dead woman's aunt, sitting listlessly in shade near the fields.

Village after village, families told how they had fallen into debt after being persuaded to buy GM seeds instead of traditional cotton seeds.

The price difference is staggering: £10 for 100 grams of GM seed, compared with less than £10 for 1,000 times more traditional seeds.

But GM salesmen and government officials had promised farmers that these were 'magic seeds' - with better crops that would be free from parasites and insects.

Indeed, in a bid to promote the uptake of GM seeds, traditional varieties were banned from many government seed banks.

The authorities had a vested interest in promoting this new biotechnology. Desperate to escape the grinding poverty of the post-independence years, the Indian government had agreed to allow new bio-tech giants, such as the U.S. market-leader Monsanto, to sell their new seed creations.

In return for allowing western companies access to the second most populated country in the world, with more than one billion people, India was granted International Monetary Fund loans in the Eighties and Nineties, helping to launch an economic revolution.

But while cities such as Mumbai and Delhi have boomed, the farmers' lives have slid back into the dark ages.

Though areas of India planted with GM seeds have doubled in two years - up to 17 million acres - many famers have found there is a terrible price to be paid.

Far from being 'magic seeds', GM pest-proof 'breeds' of cotton have been devastated by bollworms, a voracious parasite.

Nor were the farmers told that these seeds require double the amount of water. This has proved a matter of life and death.

With rains failing for the past two years, many GM crops have simply withered and died, leaving the farmers with crippling debts and no means of paying them off.

Having taken loans from traditional money lenders at extortionate rates, hundreds of thousands of small farmers have faced losing their land as the expensive seeds fail, while those who could struggle on faced a fresh crisis.

When crops failed in the past, farmers could still save seeds and replant them the following year.

But with GM seeds they cannot do this. That's because GM seeds contain so- called 'terminator technology', meaning that they have been genetically modified so that the resulting crops do not produce viable seeds of their own.

As a result, farmers have to buy new seeds each year at the same punitive prices. For some, that means the difference between life and death.

Take the case of Suresh Bhalasa, another farmer who was cremated this week, leaving a wife and two children.

As night fell after the ceremony, and neighbours squatted outside while sacred cows were brought in from the fields, his family had no doubt that their troubles stemmed from the moment they were encouraged to buy BT Cotton, a geneticallymodified plant created by Monsanto.

'We are ruined now,' said the dead man's 38-year-old wife. 'We bought 100 grams of BT Cotton. Our crop failed twice. My husband had become depressed. He went out to his field, lay down in the cotton and swallowed insecticide.'

Villagers bundled him into a rickshaw and headed to hospital along rutted farm roads. 'He cried out that he had taken the insecticide and he was sorry,' she said, as her family and neighbours crowded into her home to pay their respects. 'He was dead by the time they got to hospital.'

Asked if the dead man was a 'drunkard' or suffered from other 'social problems', as alleged by pro-GM officials, the quiet, dignified gathering erupted in anger. 'No! No!' one of the dead man's brothers exclaimed. 'Suresh was a good man. He sent his children to school and paid his taxes.

'He was strangled by these magic seeds. They sell us the seeds, saying they will not need expensive pesticides but they do. We have to buy the same seeds from the same company every year. It is killing us. Please tell the world what is happening here.'

Monsanto has admitted that soaring debt was a 'factor in this tragedy'. But pointing out that cotton production had doubled in the past seven years, a spokesman added that there are other reasons for the recent crisis, such as 'untimely rain' or drought, and pointed out that suicides have always been part of rural Indian life.

Officials also point to surveys saying the majority of Indian farmers want GM seeds  -  no doubt encouraged to do so by aggressive marketing tactics.

During the course of my inquiries in Maharastra, I encountered three 'independent' surveyors scouring villages for information about suicides. They insisted that GM seeds were only 50 per cent more expensive - and then later admitted the difference was 1,000 per cent.

(A Monsanto spokesman later insisted their seed is 'only double' the price of 'official' non-GM seed - but admitted that the difference can be vast if cheaper traditional seeds are sold by 'unscrupulous' merchants, who often also sell 'fake' GM seeds which are prone to disease.)

With rumours of imminent government compensation to stem the wave of deaths, many farmers said they were desperate for any form of assistance. 'We just want to escape from our problems,' one said. 'We just want help to stop any more of us dying.'

Prince Charles is so distressed by the plight of the suicide farmers that he is setting up a charity, the Bhumi Vardaan Foundation, to help those affected and promote organic Indian crops instead of GM.

India's farmers are also starting to fight back. As well as taking GM seed distributors hostage and staging mass protests, one state government is taking legal action against Monsanto for the exorbitant costs of GM seeds.

This came too late for Shankara Mandauker, who was 80,000 rupees (about £1,000) in debt when he took his own life. 'I told him that we can survive,' his widow said, her children still by her side as darkness fell. 'I told him we could find a way out. He just said it was better to die.'

But the debt does not die with her husband: unless she can find a way of paying it off, she will not be able to afford the children's schooling. They will lose their land, joining the hordes seen begging in their thousands by the roadside throughout this vast, chaotic country.

Cruelly, it's the young who are suffering most from the 'GM Genocide'  -  the very generation supposed to be lifted out of a life of hardship and misery by these 'magic seeds'.

Here in the suicide belt of India, the cost of the genetically modified future is murderously high.

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Children dying in Haiti

Hi, Impeachment Person,
I pass this article on to you--and the next one--because I believe every human being has a right not to suffer malnutrition and the diseases it causes. Henry Shue, in his book "Basic Rights" argues with perfect logic that human rights create obligations for every one of us to create the institutions that will actually deliver human rights.
In the 1970's this country committed itself to giving 0.7% of our GDP in official development aid. We have never delivered more than 20% of that, and we have spent the money primarily on supporting US military bases abroad--building things like golf courses--while making sure that 80% of the money goes to US corporations. The article below chronicles a typical result of our neglect. 
If you want to help immediately, you can of course donate to
www.doctorswithoutborders.org. But that's mere charity. It makes life a PRIVILEGE for which one is supposed to beg, and every time one again falls into destitution, one is supposed to again find the wherewithal to again find and notify the right person to beg from. These children are not supposed to be dependent on whether a few of us notice their plight and condescend to help a little. These children have a RIGHT not to die this way and we have the OBLIGATION to prevent their deaths. Please write to Obama and tell him you are sick and tired of our avoiding our obligations and that you want us to stop death by hunger now and for good. 
Richard Duffee      

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: <a.gronowicz@att.net>
Date: Tue, Nov 25, 2008 at 9:27 AM
Subject: USGP-INT Children dying in Haiti
To: usgp-int@gp-us.org

Aid workers: 26 malnourished children die in Haiti

Published: 11/20/08, 11:48 AM EDT
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - At least 26 severely malnourished children have died in recent days in Haiti, and aid groups fear many more deaths unless more help comes quickly to this impoverished Caribbean country.

At least 65 other severely malnourished children have been treated on site or evacuated to hospitals, said Max Cosci, who heads the Belgian contingent of Doctors Without Borders in Haiti.

Hunger contributed to deaths likely caused by diarrhea, fever and other conditions over a two-week period but medical teams arrived too late to determine how each child died, Cosci said. The doctors did rule out a disease epidemic, however.

One evacuee, a 7-year-old girl abandoned by her family, died while being treated, Cosci told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

"The situation is extremely, extremely fragile and dangerous," Cosci said.

At a makeshift malnutrition ward at a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Port-au-Prince, about 10 emaciated children with swollen stomachs, sunken eyes and bleached hair are being given emergency care. Several have swollen faces, typical of kwashiorkor, a protein-deficiency disorder.

Five-year-old Mackenson Duclair teetered around the concrete floor on broomstick legs. He weighed just 9 kilograms (19.8 pounds), and that was after days of drinking enriched milk. Doctors weighed a girl with a wide yellow bow in her hair, her emaciated arms and legs dangling as she hung from a strap attached to a scale.

Haiti, the Western Hemisphere's poorest country, has been hit by spiraling food costs, which resulted in riots last spring, and then hurricanes and tropical storms that crippled food production.

U.N. World Food Program spokeswoman Hilary Clarke said she fears many more could have died in isolated parts of Haiti. Workers from the U.N., Haiti's government and other aid groups are visiting towns accessible only by foot or donkey, searching for pockets of malnutrition. "The question is how many of these pockets are there," Clarke said.

Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

usgp-int mailing list

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Steve Fournier on Detroit

U$A Inc.

November 15th, 2008

If the United States government acquired the facilities for big-time automotive manufacturing and committed the nation to operate such an enterprise, employing factory workers and producing motor vehicles, it might make an interesting experiment in post-capitalist economics. We could manufacture the government fleet and transform it. We might provide for employee governance of day-to-day operations and a US government board to oversee the business, for example, or we might make it an independent agency. It could work if our factories made decent cars that were worth the cost of production, something the US for-profit sector hasn't been able to do.

What we wouldn't want would be a joint venture between government and private manufacturers for mutual profit. Public policy would have to run in favor of the government-sponsored enterprise and against competitors. That would signal the end of open markets in the automotive business and in every other industry in which government dabbled.

Private parties would have access to the federal treasury in such a scheme, and profits would be guaranteed. Try to imagine the new ways businessmen would find to corrupt public officials with the proceeds. We can see it already in government contracting, most recently with the conviction of a senior member of the US Senate, soon to join a contingent of congressmen in the federal slammer. With the government's acquisition of a share of private business, rich profiteers would wield greater influence than ever before over public institutions, public assets, and public employees.

Government participation in private business has been tried before. It was a mainstay of the National Socialist agenda in prewar Germany. So successful was the experiment that the Third Reich eventually turned conquered populations into a supply of slave labor for German business. The Nazi government's military adventures in Europe quickly became a profit-center for privileged capitalists, creating new incentives for a policy of conquest and occupation.

Another problem with public-private enterprise is selecting what to invest in. We seem to be concentrating everything on failing industries. The proposed partnership with GM and Ford is on the table, but the ink is dry on the deal with banking and finance. Finance used to be a conservative enterprise. Decisions were made with great deliberation and for the long term. Risks were kept to a minimum, largely because of the regulatory structure imposed on the industry after the crash of 1929.

With the rise of right-wing government and the corruption of conservatism by big money, predators gradually took over, detailing moles to Congress and the executive. Their mission: to destroy the regulatory framework that had kept racketeers at bay for 60 years. Facilitated by corrupt voices in the commercial media and both major political parties, the mission was accomplished.

Drunk with deregulation, banks and other financial networks defied tradition and ethical practice, bidding up assets with easy money, grabbing their profits up front and handing them out promptly to rich folks and their acolytes in organized crime, banking and government. These are the people we've just gone into partnership with. A better idea might have been to take control of all of the assets of an insurance company, for instance, and use the corporate infrastructure, including employees, to administer a single-payer health insurance plan.

And what about car manufacturing? The decision-makers in that industry bet everything on the filthy, wasteful technologies of the 20th Century and the foolish habits of a small number of sociopathic drivers. If the public ever accepts a stake in this, we become responsible for maintaining a market for the internal combustion engine, whose utility, outside of racing, is history. Moving a ton of steel at 90 miles per hour is so wasteful as to border on criminal conduct, and yet that's what the US car industry is peddling. It's unfortunate that the personal craving for speed and power, now obsolete, generates the principal livelihood of a considerable proportion of the working class. This is a model of economic instability, and it's an industry without a future.

Aren't we throwing good money after bad when we keep these failed concerns going just so people can go to work every day? Might as well invest in the buggy whip industry or horseshoe nail futures. Manufacturing concerns that trade on brand identification instead of quality and progress should perish along with the owners that spawned them, and banks that embraced the new model–get the money up front and damn the long term–should go the same way. Businesses that stuck to basics will survive without help, and they will take up whatever slack is created by the failure of their cutting-edge competitors. This is natural selection, where mortality makes for stronger institutions and a hardier economy.

Friday, November 14, 2008


German Tedesco forwards this:

--- On Wed, 11/12/08, CFACP - BreakTheBailout.com <action@freshaircleanpolitics.net> wrote:
From: CFACP - BreakTheBailout.com <action@freshaircleanpolitics.net>
To: german@allamericanlimoservice.com
Date: Wednesday, November 12, 2008, 2:02 PM



Dear German,

This week the Federal Reserve refused to identify the recipients of almost $2 trillion of emergency loans from American taxpayers or the troubled assets the central bank is accepting as collateral. And, AIG, the insurance giant made infamous for having a $450,000 party for their executives after receiving their first bailout check eight weeks ago is now getting more money from the U.S. Treasury - taxpayers are now giving them a total of $150 billion.

Well, we've had enough. And, we know that the only way we are going to Break the Bailout and create an economy for the people and not the banksters is to get organized and work together.

So, the Campaign for Fresh Air and Clean Politics has started a transpartisan coalition - the Break the Bailout campaign - visit
www.BreakTheBailout.com to see what we're planning.

Essentially, we're going to build a community, a citizen's movement, to fight for the economy we want and to Break the Bailout. We're going to be delivering blowback on the bailout to elected officials who are supposed to represent the people - the voters who put them in office - not big banks and Wall Street.

We know the country is outraged and we're going to redirect that outrage into constructive action. We're going to educate the voters on what the bailout really means and organize them to demand change. Here's what we want you to do:

Take action today, Break the Bailout tomorrow

(1) PLEDGE - We're holding a MONEYBOMB on December 7, 2008 to show elected officials we're serious. Pledge today by filling out the "please pledge now" form on
www.BreakTheBailout.com, then come back and join us on December 7 - the moneybomb day - to make your donation and watch the collections mount up. Become a Bailout Breaker!

(2) Build community. Our adversaries act together, and so must we.

(3) Get the word out. Help the American people to understand what is being done to them. Educate. Publicize.

(4) Identify the persons responsible. Prepare voter guides and other educational materials telling people where their congresscritters stand on the bailout scam.

(5) Be an activist. Let these people know they're not going to get away with it.

Break the Bailout is going to be at the international conference being held this weekend in Washington, DC -- join us if you can. We'll be there with our allies from Break the Matrix to film the event and interview people working to break the bailout. You can watch the coverage and interviews on our website. And, on Monday at 8 PM eastern we will be inaugurating a new Internet television show entitled Break the Bailout.

Acting alone, we can achieve nothing; acting together, we can change everything. Join us today.


Kevin Zeese
Executive Director
Campaign for Fresh Air & Clean Politics
Co-Founder Break the Bailout

© BreakTheBailout.com

2842 N. Calvert Street, Baltimore, MD 21218

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    Please act to impeach Bush before the pardons start

    For a congressional representative, refusal to impeach at this point is likely to be based on the desire that future administrations have the same unconstitutional freedom of action Bush and Cheney have given themselves. The belief that we need an imperial presidency that can violate the law at will is founded on the belief that we are entitled to operate an empire--which can never be done by the means of limited government a republic allows. That Congress, even at this extremity, still refuses to impeach should be the single most alarming fact of the last eight years. 
    The Democrats are now in a perfect position to organize impeachment. Even if the current Congress does not want to, the next Congress can. The in-coming Congress should start organizing itself now so that it can impeach between January 3 when it enters office and January 20 when Bush and Cheney leave. It can be done: many charges are patently clear, and the impeachment of Andrew Johnson took only 10 days.    
    Richard Duffee: please see below and click on the link.
    ---------- Forwarded message ----------
    From: HUTCH <info@impeachthem.com>
    Date: Fri, Nov 14, 2008 at 8:54 AM
    Subject: Everybody please do this today
    To: HUTCH <info@impeachthem.com>

    Before He
    Pardons Himself


    • IMPEACH BUSH Before He Pardons Himself •

    A murderous "leader"

    usalone.com14 November 2008 — According to Seymour Hersh there is a conga line of insiders waiting until January 20th to spill the beans on the gross criminality of the George Bush-Dick Cheney administration. Waiting . . . because if they did it now the two of them would be tarred and feathered on the way out the door.


    WE CAN AND MUST DEMAND THE IMMEDIATE IMPEACHMENT both Bush and Cheney for what is already known. At the very least the defiance of congressional subpoenas at the behest of the White House is an open and shut case for accountability now.

    Impeach Now Action Page: http://www.usalone.com/impeach_now.php


    Because as his final constitutional insult, his final spit in the face to the American people and all rule of law, it is transparently obvious that Bush is planning the most wholesale and wrongful pardon of the worst political criminals in American history, his whole criminal gang, INCLUDING himself.

    And don't think that is not their precise plan. Please, what power has Bush NOT abused? What heinous, self-serving, shameless and dishonest act has he ever shied away from, when he was torturing and eavesdropping and lying us into wars of corporate aggression. Does anyone doubt that is what he is planning on doing?

    And when you submit this action page, you will have one last chance to get one of the "Impeach Both!!!" caps, which after January 20th will no longer be available from us for love or for money.

    Impeach Now Action Page: http://www.usalone.com/impeach_now.php

    Will Congress now act? That is not the yardstick of the worth of our activism. We speak out because we must speak out, whether we are heeded or not. Let history record that we spoke out until the last minute to the eternal shame of those who did not. Because when enough of us speak out at once, the worst thing that can possibly happen is that we are building the progressive base for the REAL change of the future.

    So Bush most certainly is planning on pardoning himself. And all the right wing lock down ideologues in the corporate controlled media will call it "healing." Let's all make nice with war criminals? Shall we all make nice with the gang rape of our economy, our environment and our Constitution? We think not.

    And one more thing. You know that come January 20th the right wing will start calling for the impeachment of our new president, over a endless litany of the most ridiculous of trivial trifles. In fact it has already started even though he has not even taken office. If they are so hot on impeaching someone, let them speak out now, when it truly is called for, or shut the hell up in 66 days.

    Please TAKE ACTION NOW, so we can win all victories that are supposed to be ours, and forward this alert as widely as possible.

    Copyright © 14 November 2008 The People's Email Network
    Not Later

    Not Later

    Thank you absolutely to infinity and beyond.

    Warm regards, solidarity,
    love and the kitchen sink,
    with high hopes for all our
    futures, forever and a day,

    Stuart Hutchison
    HUTCH. 973.
    Cell 862.226.6939
    IMPEACH Groups
    117 Chestnut Drive
    Wayne NJ 07470-5639

    ? The Key Documents of ImpeachThem.com

    Monday, November 10, 2008

    Bill Ayres looks back...

    So what does William Ayres think about the campaign?
    Ralph Nazareth forwards this to us:
     What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been
    Friday 07 November 2008
    by: Bill Ayers, In These Times
       Bill Ayers looks back on a surreal campaign season.

       Whew! What was all that mess? I'm still in a daze, sorting it all
    out, decompressing.

       Pass the Vitamin C.

       For the past few years, I have gone about my business, hanging out
    with my kids and, now, my grandchildren, taking care of our elders (they
    moved in as the kids moved out), going to work, teaching and writing. And
    every day, I participate in the never-ending effort to build a powerful
    and irresistible movement for peace and social justice.

       In years past, I would now and then - often unpredictably - appear in
    the newspapers or on TV, sometimes with a reference to Fugitive Days, my
    2001 memoir of the exhilarating and difficult years of resistance against
    the American war in Vietnam. It was a time when the world was in flames,
    revolution was in the air, and the serial assassinations of black leaders
    disrupted our utopian dreams.

       These media episodes of fleeting notoriety always led to some
    extravagant and fantastic assertions about what I did, what I might have
    said and what I probably believe now.

       It was always a bit surreal. Then came this political season.

       During the primary, the blogosphere was full of chatter about my
    relationship with President-elect Barack Obama. We had served together on
    the board of the Woods Foundation and knew one another as neighbors in
    Chicago's Hyde Park. In 1996, at a coffee gathering that my wife,
    Bernardine Dohrn, and I held for him, I made a $200 donation to his
    campaign for the Illinois State Senate.

       Obama's political rivals and enemies thought they saw an opportunity
    to deepen a dishonest perception that he is somehow un-American, alien,
    linked to radical ideas, a closet terrorist who sympathizes with
    extremism - and they pounced.

       Sen. Hillary Clinton's (D-N.Y.) campaign provided the script, which
    included guilt by association, demonization of people Obama knew (or
    might have known), creepy questions about his background and dark hints
    about hidden secrets yet to be uncovered.

       On March 13, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), apparently in an attempt to
    reassure the base,- sat down for an interview with Sean Hannity of Fox
    News. McCain was not yet aware of the narrative Hannity had been spinning
    for months, and so Hannity filled him in: Ayers is an unrepentant
    "terrorist," he explained, "On 9/11, of all days, he had an article where
    he bragged about bombing our Pentagon, bombing the Capitol and bombing
    New York City police headquarters. ... He said, 'I regret not doing

       McCain couldn't believe it.

       Neither could I.

       On the campaign trail, McCain immediately got on message. I became a
    prop, a cartoon character created to be pummeled.

       When Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin got hold of it, the attack went viral.
    At a now-famous Oct. 4 rally, she said Obama was Ïpallin' around with
    terrorists.- (I pictured us sharing a milkshake with two straws.)

       The crowd began chanting, "Kill him!" "Kill him"- It was downhill
    from there.

       My voicemail filled up with hate messages. They were mostly from men,
    all venting and sweating and breathing heavily. A few threats: "Watch
    out!" and "You deserve to be shot." And some e-mails, like this one I got
    from satan@hell.com: "I'm coming to get you and when I do, I'll
    water-board you."

       The police lieutenant who came to copy down those threats deadpanned
    that he hoped the guy who was going to shoot me got there before the guy
    who was going to water-board me, since it would be most foul to be
    tortured and then shot. (We have been pals ever since he was first
    assigned to investigate threats made against me in 1987, after I was
    hired as an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at

       The good news was that every time McCain or Palin mentioned my name,
    they lost a point or two in the polls. The cartoon invented to hurt Obama
    was now poking holes in the rapidly sinking McCain-Palin ship.

       That '60s Show

       On Aug. 28, Stephen Colbert, the faux right-wing commentator from
    Comedy Central who channels Bill O'Reilly on steroids, observed:

       "To this day, when our country holds a presidential election, we
    judge the candidates through the lens of the 1960s. ... We all know Obama
    is cozy with William Ayers a '60s radical who planted a bomb in the
    capital building and then later went on to even more heinous crimes by
    becoming a college professor. ... Let us keep fighting the culture wars
    of our grandparents. The '60s are a political gift that keeps on giving."

       It was inevitable. McCain would bet the house on a dishonest and
    largely discredited vision of the '60s, which was the defining decade for
    him. He built his political career on being a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

       The '60s - as myth and symbol - is much abused: the downfall of
    civilization in one account, a time of defeat and humiliation in a
    second, and a perfect moment of righteous opposition, peace and love in a

       The idea that the 2008 election may be the last time in American
    political life that the '60s plays any role whatsoever is a mixed
    blessing. On the one hand, let's get over the nostalgia and move on. On
    the other, the lessons we might have learned from the black freedom
    movement and from the resistance against the Vietnam War have never been
    learned. To achieve this would require that we face history fully and
    honestly, something this nation has never done.

       The war in Vietnam was an illegal invasion and occupation, much of it
    conducted as a war of terror against the civilian population. The U.S.
    military killed millions of Vietnamese in air raids - like the one
    conducted by McCain - and entire areas of the country were designated
    free-fire zones, where American pilots indiscriminately dropped surplus
    ordinance - an immoral enterprise by any measure.

       What Is Really Important

       McCain and Palin - or as our late friend Studs Terkel put it, "Joe
    McCarthy in drag" - would like to bury the '60s. The '60s, after all, was
    a time of rejecting obedience and conformity in favor of initiative and
    courage. The '60s pushed us to a deeper appreciation of the humanity of
    every human being. And that is the threat it poses to the right wing,
    hence the attacks and all the guilt by association.

       McCain and Palin demanded to "know the full extent" of the
    Obama-Ayers "relationship" so that they can know if Obama, as Palin put
    it, "is telling the truth to the American people or not."

       This is just plain stupid.

       Obama has continually been asked to defend something that ought to be
    at democracy's heart: the importance of talking to as many people as
    possible in this complicated and wildly diverse society, of listening
    with the possibility of learning something new, and of speaking with the
    possibility of persuading or influencing others.

       The McCain-Palin attacks not only involved guilt by association, they
    also assumed that one must apply a political litmus test to begin a

       On Oct. 4, Palin described her supporters as those who "see America
    as the greatest force for good in this world" and as a "beacon of light
    and hope for others who seek freedom and democracy." But Obama, she said,
    "Is not a man who sees America as you see it and how I see America." In
    other words, there are "real" Americans - and then there are the rest of

       In a robust and sophisticated democracy, political leaders - and all
    of us - ought to seek ways to talk with many people who hold dissenting,
    or even radical, ideas. Lacking that simple and yet essential capacity to
    question authority, we might still be burning witches and enslaving our
    fellow human beings today.

       Maybe we could welcome our current situation - torn by another
    illegal war, as it was in the '60s - as an opportunity to search for the

       Perhaps we might think of ourselves not as passive consumers of
    politics but as fully mobilized political actors. Perhaps we might think
    of our various efforts now, as we did then, as more than a single
    campaign, but rather as our movement-in-the-making.

       We might find hope in the growth of opposition to war and occupation
    worldwide. Or we might be inspired by the growing movements for
    reparations and prison abolition, or the rising immigrant rights movement
    and the stirrings of working people everywhere, or by gay and lesbian and
    transgender people courageously pressing for full recognition.

       Yet hope - my hope, our hope - resides in a simple self-evident
    truth: the future is unknown, and it is also entirely unknowable.

       History is always in the making. It's up to us. It is up to me and to
    you. Nothing is predetermined. That makes our moment on this earth both
    hopeful and all the more urgent - we must find ways to become real
    actors, to become authentic subjects in our own history.

       We may not be able to will a movement into being, but neither can we
    sit idly for a movement to spring full-grown, as from the head of Zeus.

       We have to agitate for democracy and egalitarianism, press harder for
    human rights, learn to build a new society through our
    self-transformations and our limited everyday struggles.

       At the turn of the last century, Eugene Debs, the great Socialist
    Party leader from Terre Haute, Ind., told a group of workers in Chicago,
    "If I could lead you into the Promised Land, I would not do it, because
    someone else would come along and lead you out."

       In this time of new beginnings and rising expectations, it is even
    more urgent that we figure out how to become the people we have been
    waiting to be.


       Bill Ayers is a Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior
    University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is the
    author of "Fugitive Days" (Beacon) and co-author, with Bernardine Dohrn,
    of "Race Course: Against White Supremacy" (Third World Press).

    Criminal Lawyers - Click here.

    Friday, November 7, 2008

    2 articles on Obama

    Obama advisers discuss preparations for war on Iran

    thought he was going to dismember homeland security? think
    By Justin Raimondo

    ** Getting down to bizness with Obama **

    November 7, 2008


    When I hear talk of a "honeymoon" for the President-elect -- to last as
    long as six months, by some accounts -- I think: "Fine. You lay off, and
    I'll do the same." But oh no, it doesn't work that way. Obama has
    already started in on us, and he hasn't even taken the oath of office yet.
    I'm talking about his appointments, starting with Rahm Emanuel as his
    chief of staff.

    Hey, I thought we were gong to be treated to a bipartisan approach by the
    Obama administration, that he was going to "reach across the aisle" --
    what happened to that? Señor Emanuel is known as a street-fightin'
    Democrat, and that's understating it. A *Rolling Stone* profile of
    Emanuel had this to say: "There's the story of how, the night after
    Clinton was elected, Emanuel was so angry at the president's enemies that
    he stood up at a celebratory dinner with colleagues from the campaign,
    grabbed a steak knife and began rattling off a list of betrayers, shouting
    'Dead! . . . Dead! . . . Dead!' and plunging the knife into the table
    after every name. 'When he was done, the table looked like a lunar
    landscape,' one campaign veteran recalls. 'It was like something out of
    The Godfather.'"

    He's mean, he's ultra-partisan, and he's a fully-paid up member in good
    standing of the War Party: during the Democratic primaries in 2006, when
    Emanuel headed up the Dems' congressional operation, he backed pro-war
    candidates over antiwar Democrats every time. As Bill Safire put it on
    "Meet the Press" just before Tim Russert died: "What about Rahm Emanuel
    [for Vice President], the most powerful voice in the House of
    Representatives that agrees with Hillary Clinton on foreign affairs? He's
    a hawk. And although he's a rootin' tootin' liberal on domestic affairs,
    he is a hawk on foreign affairs. I was at the -- a roast for him for
    Epilepsy Association, and Hillary Clinton was there, and I said, quite
    frankly, here you have the hawkish side of the Democratic Party. If they
    get together, the bumper sticker will read 'Invade and bomb with Hillary
    and Rahm.'"

    When the House Democratic majority passed a military appropriations bill
    slated for Iraq, a clause that would have prohibited an attack on Iran
    without a vote in Congress was deleted at the instigation of Emanuel and
    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. When Rep. John Murtha presaged the popular
    rebellion against the Iraq war by coming out against it in no uncertain
    terms, Emanuel urged Pelosi to refrain from endorsing his call for
    withdrawal, arguing that it would hurt the Democrats politically.

    With the smiling face of Don Obama serving as a front for the
    knife-wielding Emanuel and his "legendary intensity" -- as *Rolling Stone*
    writer Joshua Green puts it -- one has to wonder: what (or who) else does
    the Prez-elect have in store for us?

    The answer is: Jane Harman -- as head of the CIA! (If she doesn't get
    it, not to worry: she's also up for head of Homeland Security -- and if
    she doesn't get that, she's on the short list for National Intelligence

    Will somebody go see if Glenn Greenwald is okay? I fear he may have done
    something drastic, especially after all that gushing he's done over the
    Dear Leader.

    Harman has always taken the side of the Bushies when it comes to
    eavesdropping: during Gen. Michael Hayden's confirmation hearings for CIA
    director, she was against making government eavesdropping an issue. When
    the *New York Times* revealed the illegal eavesdropping program authorized
    by Bush, she was outraged -- at the *Times*, which she strongly hinted
    ought to be prosecuted. She was pro-war, and did her part in spreading
    the "bad intel" she now claims to have been fooled by -- declaring not
    only that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, but also
    purveying the rather far-out notion that al-Qaeda had taken up residence
    there prior to the U.S. invasion.

    Harman's ambition is matched only by her recklessness: she came up
    against the FBI, in 2006, when she was investigated for going a little too
    far in her aggressive campaign to retain her seat as head of the House
    Intelligence Committee. Apparently she had AIPAC officials and major
    Democratic donors personally lobby Pelosi, in return for the promise that
    she, Harman, would intercede on behalf of Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman,
    two top AIPAC officials currently being prosecuted for stealing U.S. top
    secret intelligence and passing it on to Israeli officials. Law
    enforcement officials aver hard evidence for this quid pro quo was never
    uncovered. I'm hoping, however, that some Republican back-bencher has the
    balls to bring it up at her confirmation hearing. Perhaps they could call
    Pelosi as a witness.

    Combined with the foreign policy views of Dennis Ross, Obama's senior
    advisor for Middle East affairs -- who is reportedly up for the National
    Security Advisor slot -- what seems to be shaping up is a perfect trifecta
    of trouble on the horizon. The old adage that presidents rarely govern in
    synch with the way they campaign applies here, and in spades. Change?
    Not in the foreign policy realm, buster. Indeed, if any change is
    involved, it may well be for the worse.

    By the time Obama is through making his appointments, all those Hollywood
    liberals over at the HuffPuffPost will be huffing and puffing with
    outrage: and, in true Hollywood style, they'll be screaming: "Forget the
    honeymoon -- I want a divorce!"

    But it will be too late for that. The Big O marches on, with all sorts of
    plans for our future, including perhaps "national service," and -- for
    sure -- a significant ratcheting-up of the war in Afghanistan. In the
    meantime, Iran continues to loom large as an issue.

    Just as Obama was claiming his victory, the Iranians were warning us to
    stay away from their airspace -- there have apparently been a number of
    close calls recently. Also, the Russians announced they were putting
    missiles near their border with Poland, to counter the sophisticated
    anti-missile "defense" systems put in place by the U.S. and its Eastern
    European ally. Adding insult to injury, the official explanation for the
    U.S. deployment is that the anti-missile system is there to guard against
    an Iranian attack. Whether the Obama-ites buy into this sort of malarkey
    or not isn't clear. What is all too obvious, however, is that President
    Obama will continue the West's war of words -- and "soft power" -- against
    the Russians, a prospect that bodes ill for the cause of peace.

    So, you thought you were turning over a whole new leaf for the country
    when you marked your ballot for the Dear Leader -- didn't you? Well,
    surprise -- surprise!"


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