Saturday, September 22, 2012

Supporting Sea Shepherd Skipper Paul Watson

 'I Support Captain Paul Watson'

by Rafe Mair - The

I see that all civilization and some uncivilizations, like the USA, want Paul Watson’s hide.

Just so there’s no doubt, I’ve known and supported Paul for over 30 years and for many years have been on the Sea Shepherd Society’s Board of Advisors. I have supported him all that time because, in my view, he’s doing what is necessary for want of any government involvement.

One of my first interviews with Paul came in 1981 when Paul and the Sea Shepherd crew had gone ashore on Kamchatka in the then Soviet Union and destroyed a mink farm that fed the animals whale meat. He did the interview on board using the “over and out” system while being pursued by the Soviet Navy and buzzed by the Soviet Air Forces - listening to Paul you could have thought he was just having a bit of a sail out on the bounding main!

Paul Watson is the most fearless man I’ve ever known.

Paul was a founder of Greenpeace and was fired because he was too much of an activist. His fellow founder, Patrick Moore, decided he liked money better than principles, so he prostituted himself to industry like fish farms and that in the Tar Sands, becoming a rich man selling their filth.
He plays on an inconsequential PhD, using the Doctor to imply that he somehow knows what he’s talking about.
A few years ago Moore was contracted to bring his hypocrisy to a cruise ship en route to Alaska. Paul, who had offered to debate him on his dog and pony show many times announced that he would be aboard to attend his lectures and speak from the floor. Moore instantly backed out of his contract with the interesting excuse that his wife’s birthday came up during the cruise.
Evidently, Mrs. Moore wasn’t delighted with a lovely cruise for their anniversary or suddenly discovered that she was prone to sea-sickness.

There is another reason one might conclude - Patrick Moore is a coward, the conclusion I came to knowing both of them as I do.

Patrick Moore has become rich doing PR work and consulting on how to bamboozle the masses for the Tar Sands, nuclear energy, fish farms and, I must conclude, private power desecrating our rivers, bitumen pipelines and tankers.

Moore hates Paul’s guts which is another big reason for supporting Captain Watson.

Paul is a preservationist who does that which countries refuse to do - enforce the law or, in some cases, simply to not be afraid to pass decent laws for protecting the environment in the first place.

Watson has been called an eco terrorist because he prevents the Japanese from whaling in the South Pacific because they say they need whales for “scientific research”. How the hell can a man who fights this kind of bullshit be called an eco terrorist?!

The people of the Faroe Islands had, until Watson arrived on the scene, a nifty little custom of slaughtering pilot whales once a year - not for food or any other reasons but just for the hell of it. With Watson away this year, they brutally killed 467 whales. On the back of a banknote the Faroe Islands show a pilot whale being hacked to death.

I’ve been to the Faroe Islands and can tell you that the Faroese are a prosperous people who make no defense of their whaling other than it’s a custom.

Paul Watson is an eco terrorist for stopping this practice?

We slaughter seal pups not because we have to but to supply fur coats to wealthy European women, Paul and many of his crew were sent to the slammer for simply taking pictures.

The list goes on and Paul Watson inches closer and closer to doing time in jail, which I predict will happen later this year when he comes ashore. His own country, instead of giving him an Order of Canada, which he deserves many times over, will throw him in jail.

I support Captain Paul Watson and believe all Canadians should.

Rafe Mair was a B.C. MLA 1975 to 1981, Minister of Environment from late 1978 through 1979. Since 1981 he has been a radio talk show host, and is recognized as one of B.C.'s pre-eminent journalists.

A How To On Avoiding Prosecution for White Collar Crime Delivered to Wall St. by Justice Department Official

The Black Financial and Fraud Report


The Black Financial and Fraud Report Bill Black: Top Justice official tells Wall St. how to avoid prosecution

Watch full multipart The Black Financial and Fraud Report

Friday, September 21, 2012

Three Mile Island Nuclear Plant Shut Down for Second Day

Three Mile Island still shut down Friday Night

by CBS21

Back in august the Three Mile Island shut down for 12 days. It shut down yesterday after a malfunction in one of the four reactor coolant pumps. Officials will not say how long the plant will be shut down.

The TMI alert group says as a condition for re-licensing all plants need to have an aging management program in place to monitor aging equipment and parts.

The last time TMI was re-licensed was in 2009.

TMI officials say they have one and are following it, but this watch group says it is concerned that the plant is not functioning as it should.

"Anytime a plant shuts down on short notice it normally releases radiation. This is not good radiation is cumulative in nature it's going to take some time to reconstruct the even and see how much was actually released. The way to prevent this from occurring again is to make sure all the parts in the plant are operating as they should." Says Eric Epstein, TMI Alert.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Police Violence Survivors Gather in Vancouver


Survivors of police use of force to meet in Vancouver


A group of families and friends of individuals seriously injured or killed by police will be meeting in Vancouver to discuss the formation of a new advocacy group. The group is asking families who have lost loved ones who have died in custody or as a result of police action to contact the B.C. Civil Liberties Association for an invitation to the meeting.

“I never thought I’d be a part of this group of people affected by police use of force and a lack of accountability,” said Al Wright, the father of Alvin Wright who was shot and killed by a Langley RCMP officer. “But now I’m a member of that group, and it’s important that the members of this group stick together to support each other, and to prevent similar deaths from taking place in the future. When this happens to you, you don’t know where to turn or who to trust. Families get treated like criminals, and information you hand over is used against you.”

The organization will be based in British Columbia, as B.C. has the highest per capita rate of police-involved deaths in all of Canada, but will be open to families across the country. The group already has support of the families and friends of several police shooting or in custody death victims.

“The BCCLA is pleased to bring these families together to talk about their common experiences and to facilitate their advocacy to prevent similar deaths and get justice for their loved ones,” said Lindsay Lyster of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association. “We still can’t easily access statistics by detachment and department from across the country about deaths and serious injuries and how they’re caused. There is limited public discussion about how to prevent these deaths through better accountability, training, and practices. This group of family members could work to change that.”

The first meeting of the group will be in Vancouver this fall, and is open only to families and friends of people who have been killed or seriously injured by the police, or people who have been seriously injured by police. People interested in joining the group are invited to contact the B.C. Civil Liberties Association to be added to the invitation list. Participants from outside Vancouver who are unable to travel to Vancouver will be able to join and participate by online video conferencing tools.

For more information, please contact:

Al Wright, father of Alvin Wright (killed by Langley RCMP in August 2010)
Linda Bush, mother of Ian Bush (killed by Houston RCMP in 2007)
Lindsay Lyster, President
David Eby, Executive Director

Protecting the Ancient Incomappleux

Action Urged to Protect Ancient Incomappleux

by Damien Gillis - The

The Valhalla Wilderness Society of the Kootenays is urging citizens to send a message today to the provincial government in opposition of a proposed private power project on the spectacular Incomappleux river.

The province's Integrated Land Management Bureau (ILMB) is accepting comments from the public until midnight tonight (Sept. 20) on private power titan TranAlta's application to carry out potentially damaging feasibility studies for a proposed private river diversion project on the Incomappleux, considered one of BC's most intact old growth rainforest valleys.

According to Valhalla:
The upper Incomappleux River and its very ancient rainforest are the gems of the Selkirk Mountain Caribou Park Proposal.

The valley has been severely logged for a major part of its length. But the logging stopped before the end of the forest, leaving behind a five-kilometre stretch of river with very rare valley-bottom Inland Temperate Rainforest, with trees up to four metres in diameter and 1,800 years old. Scientists say this forest could have been growing undisturbed since the last ice age. It is part of a 17-kilometre stretch of wild river running through intact wilderness adjacent to Glacier National Park.

This now famous valley has drawn scientists from five countries to study the biodiversity of its ancient rainforest and its extensive wetland. They have found numerous rare species of lichens, mushrooms, snails and plants including a number of red- and blue-listed species.

The organization is concerned that even "feasibility studies" would have a detrimental impact on the highly sensitive and rare ecosystem. "The studies alone will include drilling, and possibly road building and cutting down trees to bring in heavy equipment. This will be a huge investment on the part of the proponent for a development that would then be leverage to get the IPP approved."
Because the proposed generating capacity of this river diversion project, at 45 Megawatts, falls below the 50 Megawatt threshold, it will not require an environmental assessment from the province.

Some of the key environmental concerns from the project include the diversion of a significant amount of water from the river for an 8.8 km stretch, through prime Grizzly habitat, industrial roads being constructed on the edge of Glacier National Park, and a 75 km transmission line, carved through prime old-growth forest.

Private power projects have been thoroughly criticized in these pages for both serious environmental problems, thoroughly demonstrated by evidence, and for their lack of financial sense for BC taxpayers and hydro ratepayers.
Concerned citizens can register their comments with the ILMB by midnight tonight through their online form.

Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues - especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada's wild salmon.

Corruption and the Corrupted: A How to Voters' Guide

Feast of Fools: How American Democracy Became the Property of a Commercial Oligarchy

by Lewis H. Lapham

[A longer version of this essay appears in "Politics," the Fall 2012 issue of Lapham's Quarterly; this slightly shortened version is posted at with the kind permission of that magazine.]

All power corrupts but some must govern. -- John le Carré

The ritual performance of the legend of democracy in the autumn of 2012 promises the conspicuous consumption of $5.8 billion, enough money, thank God, to prove that our flag is still there. Forbidden the use of words apt to depress a Q Score or disturb a Gallup poll, the candidates stand as product placements meant to be seen instead of heard, their quality to be inferred from the cost of their manufacture. The sponsors of the event, generous to a fault but careful to remain anonymous, dress it up with the bursting in air of star-spangled photo ops, abundant assortments of multiflavored sound bites, and the candidates so well-contrived that they can be played for jokes, presented as game-show contestants, or posed as noble knights-at-arms setting forth on vision quests, enduring the trials by klieg light, until on election night they come to judgment before the throne of cameras by whom and for whom they were produced.

Best of all, at least from the point of view of the commercial oligarchy paying for both the politicians and the press coverage, the issue is never about the why of who owes what to whom, only about the how much and when, or if, the check is in the mail. No loose talk about what is meant by the word democracy or in what ways it refers to the cherished hope of liberty embodied in the history of a courageous people.

The campaigns don’t favor the voters with the gratitude and respect owed to their standing as valuable citizens participant in the making of such a thing as a common good. They stay on message with their parsing of democracy as the ancient Greek name for the American Express card, picturing the great, good American place as a Florida resort hotel wherein all present receive the privileges and comforts owed to their status as valued customers, invited to convert the practice of citizenship into the art of shopping, to select wisely from the campaign advertisements, texting A for Yes, B for No.

The sales pitch bends down to the electorate as if to a crowd of restless children, deems the body politic incapable of generous impulse, selfless motive, or creative thought, delivers the insult with a headwaiter’s condescending smile. How then expect the people to trust a government that invests no trust in them? Why the surprise that over the last 30 years the voting public has been giving ever-louder voice to its contempt for any and all politicians, no matter what their color, creed, prior arrest record, or sexual affiliation? The congressional disapproval rating (78% earlier this year) correlates with the estimates of low attendance among young voters (down 20% from 2008) at the November polls.

Democracy as an ATM

If democracy means anything at all (if it isn’t what the late Gore Vidal called “the national nonsense-word”), it is the holding of one’s fellow citizens in thoughtful regard, not because they are beautiful or rich or famous, but because they are one’s fellow citizens. Republican democracy is a shared work of the imagination among people of myriad talents, interests, voices, and generations that proceeds on the premise that the labor never ends, entails a ceaseless making and remaking of its laws and customs, i.e., a sentient organism as opposed to an ATM, the government an us, not a them.

Contrary to the contemporary view of politics as a rat’s nest of paltry swindling, Niccolò Machiavelli, the fifteenth-century courtier and political theorist, rates it as the most worthy of human endeavors when supported by a citizenry possessed of the will to act rather than the wish to be cared for. Without the “affection of peoples for self-government…cities have never increased either in dominion or wealth.”

Thomas Paine in the opening chapter of Common Sense finds “the strength of government and the happiness of the governed” in the freedom of the common people to “mutually and naturally support each other.” He envisions a bringing together of representatives from every quarter of society -- carpenters and shipwrights as well as lawyers and saloonkeepers -- and his thinking about the mongrel splendors of democracy echoes that of Plato in The Republic: “Like a coat embroidered with every kind of ornament, this city, embroidered with every kind of character, would seem to be the most beautiful.”

Published in January 1776, Paine’s pamphlet ran through printings of 500,000 copies in a few months and served as the founding document of the American Revolution, its line of reasoning implicit in Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence. The wealthy and well-educated gentlemen who gathered 11 years later in Philadelphia to frame the Constitution shared Paine’s distrust of monarchy but not his faith in the abilities of the common people, whom they were inclined to look upon as the clear and present danger seen by the delegate Gouverneur Morris as an ignorant rabble and a “riotous mob.”

From Aristotle the founders borrowed the theorem that all government, no matter what its name or form, incorporates the means by which the privileged few arrange the distribution of law and property for the less-fortunate many. Recognizing in themselves the sort of people to whom James Madison assigned “the most wisdom to discern, and the most virtue to pursue, the common good of the society,” they undertook to draft a constitution that employed an aristocratic means to achieve a democratic end.

Accepting of the fact that whereas a democratic society puts a premium on equality, a capitalist economy does not, the contrivance was designed to nurture both the private and the public good, accommodate the motions of the heart as well as the movement of the market, the institutions of government meant to support the liberties of the people, not the ambitions of the state. By combining the elements of an organism with those of a mechanism, the Constitution offered as warranty for the meeting of its objectives the character of the men charged with its conduct and deportment, i.e., the enlightened tinkering of what both Jefferson and Hamilton conceived as a class of patrician landlords presumably relieved of the necessity to cheat and steal and lie.

Good intentions, like mother’s milk, are a perishable commodity. As wealth accumulates, men decay, and sooner or later an aristocracy that once might have aspired to an ideal of wisdom and virtue goes rancid in the sun, becomes an oligarchy distinguished by a character that Aristotle likened to that of “the prosperous fool” -- its members so besotted by their faith in money that “they therefore imagine there is nothing that it cannot buy.”

Postponing the Feast of Fools

The making of America’s politics over the last 236 years can be said to consist of the attempt to ward off, or at least postpone, the feast of fools. Some historians note that what the framers of the Constitution hoped to establish in 1787 (“a republic,” according to Benjamin Franklin, “if you can keep it”) didn’t survive the War of 1812. Others suggest that the republic was gutted by the spoils system introduced by Andrew Jackson in the 1830s. None of the informed sources doubt that it perished during the prolonged heyday of the late-nineteenth-century Gilded Age.

Mark Twain coined the phrase to represent his further observation that a society consisting of the sum of its vanity and greed is not a society at all but a state of war. In the event that anybody missed Twain’s meaning, President Grover Cleveland in 1887 set forth the rules of engagement while explaining his veto of a bill offering financial aid to the poor: “The lesson should be constantly enforced that, though the people support the government, the government should not support the people.”

Twenty years later, Arthur T. Hadley, the president of Yale, provided an academic gloss: “The fundamental division of powers in the Constitution of the United States is between voters on the one hand and property owners on the other. The forces of democracy on the one side... and the forces of property on the other side.”

In the years between the Civil War and the Great Depression, the forces of democracy pushed forward civil-service reform in the 1880s, the populist rising in the 1890s, the progressive movement in the 1910s, President Teddy Roosevelt’s preservation of the nation’s wilderness and his harassment of the Wall Street trusts -- but it was the stock-market collapse in 1929 that equipped the strength of the country’s democratic convictions with the power of the law. What Paine had meant by the community of common interest found voice and form in Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, in the fighting of World War II by a citizen army willing and able to perform what Machiavelli would have recognized as acts of public conscience.

During the middle years of the twentieth century, America at times showed itself deserving of what Albert Camus named as a place “where the single word liberty makes hearts beat faster,” the emotion present and accounted for in the passage of the Social Security Act, in the mounting of the anti-Vietnam War and civil rights movements, in the promise of LBJ’s Great Society. But that was long ago and in another country, and instead of making hearts beat faster, the word liberty in America’s currently reactionary scheme of things slows the pulse and chills the blood.

Ronald Reagan’s new Morning in America brought with it in the early 1980s the second coming of a gilded age more swinish than the first, and as the country continues to divide ever more obviously into a nation of the rich and a nation of the poor, the fictions of unity and democratic intent lose their capacity to command belief. If by the time Bill Clinton had settled comfortably into the White House it was no longer possible to pretend that everybody was as equal as everybody else, it was clear that all things bright and beautiful were to be associated with the word private, terminal squalor and toxic waste with the word public.

The shaping of the will of Congress and the choosing of the American president has become a privilege reserved to the country’s equestrian classes, a.k.a. the 20% of the population that holds 93% of the wealth, the happy few who run the corporations and the banks, own and operate the news and entertainment media, compose the laws and govern the universities, control the philanthropic foundations, the policy institutes, the casinos, and the sports arenas. Their anxious and spendthrift company bears the mark of oligarchy ridden with the disease diagnosed by the ancient Greeks as pleonexia, the appetite for more of everything -- more McMansions, more defense contracts, more beachfront, more tax subsidy, more prosperous fools. Aristotle mentions a faction of especially reactionary oligarchs in ancient Athens who took a vow of selfishness not unlike the anti-tax pledge administered by Grover Norquist to Republican stalwarts in modern Washington: “I will be an enemy to the people and will devise all the harm against them which I can.”

A Government That Sets Itself Above the Law

The hostile intent has been conscientiously sustained over the last 30 years, no matter which party is in control of Congress or the White House, and no matter what the issue immediately at hand -- the environment or the debt, defense spending or campaign-finance reform. The concentrations of wealth and power express their fear and suspicion of the American people with a concerted effort to restrict their liberties, letting fall into disrepair nearly all of the infrastructure -- roads, water systems, schools, power plants, bridges, hospitals -- that provides the country with the foundation of its common enterprise.

The domestic legislative measures accord with the formulation of a national-security state backed by the guarantee of never-ending foreign war that arms the government with police powers more repressive than those available to the agents of the eighteenth-century British crown. The Justice Department reserves the right to tap anybody’s phone, open anybody’s mail, decide who is, and who is not, an un-American. The various government security agencies now publish 50,000 intelligence reports a year, monitoring the world’s Web traffic and sifting the footage from surveillance cameras as numerous as the stars in the Milky Way. President Barack Obama elaborates President George W. Bush’s notions of preemptive strike by claiming the further privilege to order the killing of any American citizen overseas who is believed to be a terrorist or a friend of terrorists, to act the part of jury, judge, and executioner whenever and however it suits his exalted fancy.

Troubled op-ed columnists sometimes refer to the embarrassing paradox implicit in the waging of secret and undeclared war under the banners of a free, open, and democratic society. They don’t proceed to the further observation that the nation’s foreign policy is cut from the same criminal cloth as its domestic economic policy. The invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the predatory business dealing that engendered the Wall Street collapse in 2008 both enjoyed the full faith and backing of a government that sets itself above the law.

The upper servants of the oligarchy, among them most of the members of Congress and the majority of the news media’s talking heads, receive their economic freedoms by way of compensation for the loss of their political liberties. The right to freely purchase in exchange for the right to freely speak. If they wish to hold a public office or command attention as upholders of the truth, they can’t afford to fool around with any new, possibly subversive ideas.

Paine had in mind a representative assembly that asked as many questions as possible from as many different sorts of people as possible. The ensuing debate was expected to be loud, forthright, and informative. James Fenimore Cooper seconded the motion in 1838, arguing that the strength of the American democracy rests on the capacity of its citizens to speak and think without cant. “By candor we are not to understand trifling and uncalled-for expositions of truth… but a sentiment that proves the conviction of the necessity of speaking truth, when speaking at all; a contempt for all designing evasions of our real opinions. In all the general concerns, the public has a right to be treated with candor. Without this manly and truly republican quality... the institutions are converted into a stupendous fraud.”

Oligarchy prefers trifling evasions to real opinions. The preference accounts for the current absence of honest or intelligible debate on Capitol Hill. The members of Congress embody the characteristics of only one turn of mind -- that of the obliging publicist. They leave it to staff assistants to write the legislation and the speeches, spend 50% of their time soliciting campaign funds. When standing in a hotel ballroom or when seated in a television studio, it is the duty of the tribunes of the people to insist that the drug traffic be stopped, the budget balanced, the schools improved, paradise regained. Off camera, they bootleg the distribution of the nation’s wealth to the gentry at whose feet they dance for coins.

A Media Enabling and Codependent

As with the Congress, so also with the major news media that serve at the pleasure of a commercial oligarchy that pays them, and pays them handsomely, for their pretense of speaking truth to power. On network television, the giving voice to what Cooper would have regarded as real opinions doesn’t set up a tasteful lead-in to the advertisements for Pantene Pro-V or the U.S. Marine Corps. The prominent figures in our contemporary Washington press corps regard themselves as government functionaries, enabling and codependent. Their point of view is that of the country’s landlords, their practice equivalent to what is known among Wall Street stock market touts as “securitizing the junk.”

The time allowed on Face the Nation or Meet the Press facilitates the transmission of sound-bite spin and the swallowing of welcome lies. Explain to us, my general, why the United States must continue the war in Afghanistan, and we will relay the message to the American people in words of two syllables. Instruct us, Mr. Chairman, in the reasons why the oil companies and the banks produce the paper that Congress doesn’t read but passes into law, and we will show the reasons to be sound. Do not be frightened by our pretending to be scornful or suspicious. Give us this day our daily bread, and we will hide your stupidity and greed in plain sight, in the rose bushes of inside-the-beltway gossip.

The cable-news networks meanwhile package dissent as tabloid entertainment, a commodity so clearly labeled as pasteurized ideology that it is rendered harmless and threatens nobody with the awful prospect of having to learn something they didn’t already know. Comedians on the order of Jon Stewart and Bill Maher respond with jokes offered as consolation prizes for the acceptance of things as they are and the loss of hope in things as they might become. As soporifics, not, God forbid, as incitements to revolution or the setting up of guillotines in Yankee Stadium and the Staples Center.

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney hold each other responsible for stirring up class warfare between the 1% and the 99%; each of them can be counted upon to mourn the passing of America’s once-upon-a-time egalitarian state of grace. They deliver the message to fund-raising dinners that charge up to $40,000 for the poached salmon, but the only thing worth noting in the ballroom or the hospitality tent is the absence among the invited bank accounts (prospective donor, showcase celebrity, attending journalist) of anybody intimately acquainted with -- seriously angry about, other than rhetorically interested in -- the fact of being poor.

When intended to draw blood instead of laughs, speaking truth to power doesn’t lead to a secure retirement on the beach at Martha’s Vineyard. Paine was the most famous political thinker of his day, his books in the late eighteenth century selling more copies than the Bible, but after the Americans had won their War of Independence, his notions of democracy were deemed unsuitable to the work of dividing up the spoils. The proprietors of their newfound estate claimed the privilege of apportioning its freedoms, and they remembered that Paine opposed the holding of slaves and the denial to women of the same sort of rights awarded to men. A man too much given to plain speaking, on too familiar terms with the lower orders of society, and therefore not to be trusted.

His opinions having become both suspect and irrelevant in Philadelphia, Paine sailed in 1787 for Europe, where he was soon charged with seditious treason in Britain (for publishing part two of The Rights of Man), imprisoned and sentenced to death in France (for his opposition to the execution of Louis XVI on the ground that it was an unprincipled act of murder). In 1794, Paine fell from grace as an American patriot as a consequence of his publishing The Age of Reason, the pamphlet in which he ridiculed the authority of an established church and remarked on “the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is filled.” The American congregation found him guilty of the crime of blasphemy, and on his return to America in 1802, he was met at the dock in Baltimore with newspaper headlines damning him as a “loathsome reptile,” a “lying, drunken, brutal infidel.” When he died in poverty in 1809, he was buried, as unceremoniously as a dog in a ditch, in unhallowed ground on his farm in New Rochelle.

Paine’s misfortunes speak to the difference between politics as a passing around of handsome platitudes and politics as a sowing of the bitter seeds of social change. The speaking of truth to power when the doing so threatens to lend to words the force of deeds is as rare as it is brave. The signers of the Declaration of Independence accepted the prospect of being hanged in the event that America lost the war.

Our own contemporary political discourse lacks force and meaning because it is a commodity engineered, like baby formula and Broadway musicals, to dispose of any and all unwonted risk. The forces of property occupying both the government and the news media don’t rate politics as a serious enterprise, certainly not as one worth the trouble to suppress.

It is the wisdom of the age -- shared by Democrat and Republican, by forlorn idealist and anxious realist -- that money rules the world, transcends the boundaries of sovereign states, serves as the light unto the nations, and waters the tree of liberty. What need of statesmen, much less politicians, when it isn’t really necessary to know their names or remember what they say? The future is a product to be bought, not a fortune to be told.

Happily, at least for the moment, the society is rich enough to afford the staging of the fiction of democracy as a means of quieting the suspicions of a potentially riotous mob with the telling of a fairy tale. The rising cost of the production -- the pointless nominating conventions decorated with 15,000 journalists as backdrop for the 150,000 balloons -- reflects the ever-increasing rarity of the demonstrable fact. The country is being asked to vote in November for television commercials because only in the fanciful time zone of a television commercial can the American democracy still be said to exist.

Lewis H. Lapham is editor of Lapham’s Quarterly, and a TomDispatch regular. Formerly editor of Harper’s Magazine, he is the author of numerous books, including Money and Class in America, Theater of War, Gag Rule, and, most recently, Pretensions to Empire. The New York Times has likened him to H.L. Mencken; Vanity Fair has suggested a strong resemblance to Mark Twain; and Tom Wolfe has compared him to Montaigne. This essay, shortened slightly for TomDispatch, introduces "Politics," the Fall 2012 issue of Lapham’s Quarterly.

Copyright 2012 Lewis Lapham

Ghosts of Oslo: Politics and the Palestine Question


Charity Economics, Subservient Politics: Why Oslo Must Go

 by Ramzy Baroud

Recent demonstrations in protest of the rising cost of living have swept across the West Bank. While they are not indicative of a Palestinian version of the ‘Arab Spring’, they are still an important first step.

A reasonable demand, however, cannot possibly be for Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to sack the government of Salam Fayyad. Neither has much sway over Palestinian economy, let alone political will.

Abbas enjoys Israeli and Western backing because of his ability to manage - if not sustain - a factional split between his party, Fatah, and Hamas, which controls Gaza. He remains faithful to security coordination between his authority and Israel, and continues to crack down on his opponents with an iron fist. He is also desperately clinging to a loyalty to Washington policy - despite the fact that the latter’s prestige and influence is quickly diminishing in the region. In an era of numerous political possibilities, Abbas, 76, is fervently traditional, lacking in nerve and by no means capable of revolutionary change.

While Abbas is perceived as America’s man in Palestinian, Fayyad is an economic equivalent. His years at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and his Western-driven branding as pragmatic, non-factional and incorruptible made him most suited to lead the post Hamas-Fatah split period. Since 2007, Fayyad has reigned supreme. His conduct, language and demeanor have signaled a departure from the Palestinian politics of old - when revolutionaries with military fatigues seemed to be driven, at least rhetorically, by nationalistic slogans concerning liberation, freedom and the right of return.

Abbas and Fayyad helped to redefine the old Palestinian discourse, a process that started following the Israel-PLO signing of the Oslo Accords in September 1993. The accords were touted as signaling a new age of mutual respect, peace and security. In reality, they only cemented the status quo, allowing Israel to continue expanding its illegal settlements and determining every political outcome based on a protracted colonial vision. While no Israeli leader - left, right or center – has since deviated from this vision, Palestinians have grown in number within an ever shrinking space. ‘Palestine’ has been sliced off into numerous cantons, with an isolated population center dependent on precarious international handouts.

For years, Abbas and Fayyad oversaw the financial transaction, which was more of a pyramid scheme than a state-building measure. Funds arrived from multiple sources, including tax revenues collected by Israel on behalf of the PA. In addition to controlling the Palestinian borders, 62 percent of the West Bank (Area C) and even the exit and entry of Palestinian leaders, Israel also controlled every aspect of the Palestinian economy. The Paris Protocol, signed in 1994, was meant to regulate the transition in the Palestinian economy. Nearly two decades later, the protocol has become the very rope by which Israel continues to strangle Palestinians. When the latter fails to play by the (Israeli) rules, Israel adds more military checkpoints, refuses to transfer Palestinian tax revenues, and so on. Within days, the ‘Palestinian economy’ begins to grind.

In the West Bank, the Keynes vs. Hayek economic debate matters little. Even ‘dependency theory’ in its standard application is of no use. The West Bank has subsisted on a charity-model, with many middlemen who accumulated unimaginable wealth from money that was meant to trickle down. Not only did Oslo turn a struggle for liberation into a massive charity network riddled with corruption and nepotism, it also managed to turn the process – as in the ‘peace process’ – into an end in itself. Few Palestinians benefited, and the vast majority had to fight for their survival. As for Israel, the bulldozers never slowed down and settlements continued to expand at the expense of Palestinian land, leaving no room for any kind of ‘state’. Over time, the ‘two-state solution’ became a mere brand which helped separate Palestine’s ‘extremists’ from its ‘moderates’.

Now, the Palestinian Authority is not only politically bankrupt, it is financially broke as well. Future prospects look even grimmer than the current reality. A recent report by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) downplayed the hype over the supposed economic prosperity in the West Bank. “Economic expansion last year was accompanied by a decline in real wages and labor productivity and did not succeed in reducing high unemployment, which persisted at 26 per cent,” said the report. The growth in Gaza’s economy also proved to be a ruse, since the ‘growth’ was mere mathematical guesswork based on Palestinians’ ability to rebuild what Israel destroyed in its December 2008-January 2009 war on Gaza. “Food insecurity affects two of every three Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory, but is most severe in Gaza. Also alarming is the poverty rate in East Jerusalem, estimated at 78 per cent,” reported UNCTAD.

While the political aspect of Oslo has been dead and buried for years, it continues to exist as a financial matter. The Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu looks on as the house of sand they built with their Palestinian ‘peace partners’ crumbles. Israeli journalist Amira Hass reminds Palestinians that their real fight is with the occupation, not price increases enacted by a largely helpless authority. While it is true that the enemy remains the solider and the settler, much enmity towards the PA is also likely to play out in the future.

While Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman continues his outbursts targeting Abbas and Oslo, Netanyahu has ordered the transfer of NIS 250m of tax revenues to the PA in order to delay its potential collapse. Still, Israel has no intention of abandoning its carrot and stick approach to dealing with Palestinians. Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon was crystal clear when he said that Israel would not renegotiate the Paris Protocol (UPI, September 10).

How long the PA can continue to operate as a functionary of Israel and Western interests will now largely depend on Palestinians. Even if more money is pumped into PA coffers, the fundamental problem will not go away. Bribing a nation with meager handouts to deny them political rights is superfluous at best, and it will most certainly not last.

There are new calls for the dismantling of the Palestinian Authority. For these calls to be meaningful, they need to be accompanied by a unifying transitional political program which will guide Palestinians out of the temporary chaos that is likely to follow. The program must be a part of a larger vision, one that looks past charity-economics and frivolous talks of two-state solutions, and which actually bridges the gap between divided Palestinian communities.

Ramzy Baroud ( is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Into the Streets: Putting the "Unemployables" to Work

The Job Crisis, the “Unemployable,” and the Fiscal Cliff

by Shamus Cooke

With the November elections right around the corner, the millions of unemployed and under-employed have little reason to care. Aside from some sparse rhetoric, neither Democrats nor Republicans have offered a solution to job creation. Most politicians seem purposefully myopic about the jobs crisis, as if a healthy dose of denial might get them through the electoral season unscathed.

In reality, the jobs crisis continues unaddressed, and threatens to get worse after the election. The post-election “fiscal cliff” of social cuts — “triggered” by Obama’s debt commission —will pull the economy below the current treading-water phase, drowning millions more workers in America in unemployment and hopelessness. In addition, two million more long-term unemployed — those lucky enough to still receive benefits — face the very likely possibility of having their benefits ended due to the trigger cuts.

But this is all part of the plan. The current jobs crisis is not accidental; there are public policies that could be implemented — such as a federal jobs program — that would stop unemployment in its tracks. Both parties agree that this cannot be done for the same reason: high unemployment is desirable since it acts as a sledgehammer against wages, lowering them with the intent of boosting profitability for corporations. Creating this nationwide “new normal” takes time.

Until corporations have an ideal environment to make super profits — aside from the short-term money printing of the Federal Reserve — unemployment will remain purposefully high. The Feds massive money-printing program — called Quantitative Easing (QE) — is a desperate move that risks super inflation, yet is deemed necessary until politicians implement the economic new normal for workers in America.

This policy is referred to as an “adjustment” period by some economists. Corporations and their puppet politicians have used the recession to start implementing the new normal of lower wages, reduced benefits, and fewer social programs on a city, state, and federal basis. In order to complete this national adjustment, expectations for working people must be drastically lowered, so that they’ll be less likely to be angry and fight against this onslaught.

This was Bill Clinton’s intention when he told the Democratic National Convention, “The old economy isn’t coming back.” Most people in America have yet to realize this, but the economic policies of the Democrats and Republicans reflect a conscious plan to push wages down and shred the safety net to fit the “new economy” standards sought by corporate America.

Because corporations only hire workers in order to make profit, businesses today are sitting on trillions of cash, waiting for a sunnier day to invest in labor. The lower the wages of workers in America, the brighter the skies for corporations’ bottom line. It is this basic economic interest driving the jobs crisis, as politicians only offer solutions that “encourage businesses to invest” rather than creating immediate solutions for working people.

But millions of people are waiting for sunnier days too. A large number are seeking to wait out the recession by returning to school and are now graduating; a record 3 percent have bachelor degrees, a number that is expected to rise. The increasing number of graduates will drive up unemployment, while those lucky enough to find jobs aren’t finding one capable of paying off their massive student loans. The trillion-dollar student loan business is yet another example of wealth transference from bottom to top: students borrow money from the wealthy, and pay them back with interest, sometimes exorbitant interest.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that there are 12.5 million people who are officially unemployed but an additional 9.5 million who are “unofficially” unemployed — those who are not actively looking for work, “discouraged workers,” part-time workers who want full-time work, etc. The number is almost certainly higher. These workers are not counted in the “official” unemployment numbers, and this unofficial number is getting worse. In August, 2012, 368,000 more workers joined this illustrious group by dropping out of the labor force, i.e., they gave up looking for a job and thus are no longer counted as unemployed, in this way giving Obama “positive news” since the unemployment numbers actually improved!

These workers are often referred to as “unemployable,” meaning that they are usually over 50 years of age or under 30 and are tarnished with a lack of job experience or an excess of it. Corporations can now have an abundance of workers to choose from, and are being extra picky on whom they hire, if anybody.

The new “private sector” jobs that Obama constantly brags about are much lower paying than the jobs they are replacing. According to a study performed by the National Employment Law Project, 58 percent of all new post-recession jobs come with wages below $14.00 an hour, i.e. not a living wage.

For those millions unable to find jobs, their future lies in either dependence on family or the state, or a risky life in the informal economy, which implies the possibility of imprisonment.

The reason that many labor and community groups have not fully explained the above facts — nor protested against them — is because they are “embarrassing” to the Democrats. Labor unions have gone into pre-election hibernation, ignoring reality as they push their members to campaign for the president who is overseeing this economic “new normal.”

The still-sputtering economy is expected to grind to a halt post-election, with average working people again footing the bill. But millions of Americans are experiencing the politics of the 1%, and drawing conclusions; ever since the recession government policy has been aimed at benefiting the wealthy and corporations, while working people have only experienced layoffs, lower wages and benefits, and slashed public services. To stop this dynamic of austerity working people must unite and protest in massive numbers, like the working people of Europe.

In Portland, Oregon, such a demonstration is being planned, pre-election, by a coalition of community groups to “stop the cuts,” for debt relief, and against the above national policy of austerity for working people. By highlighting the bi-partisan nature of the attack against working people, the community organizers in Portland hope to educate the community to take action, so that working people are prioritized. Let the wealthy pay for their crisis.

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action ( He can be reached at


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Fuku Pollution Tracked Across Entire Northern Hemisphere

Tracking the complete revolution of surface westerlies over Northern Hemisphere using radionuclides emitted from Fukushima
M.A. Hernández-Ceballos, G.H. Hong, R.L. Lozano, Y.I. Kim, H.M. Lee, S.H. Kim, S.-W. Yeh, J.P. Bolívar, M. Baskaran
Sci Total Environ.
Sep 10 2012

source:  ENE News
Massive amounts of anthropogenic radionuclides were released from the nuclear reactors located in Fukushima (northeastern Japan) between 12 and 16 March 2011 following the earthquake and tsunami. Ground level air radioactivity was monitored around the globe immediately after the Fukushima accident. This global effort provided a unique opportunity to trace the surface air mass movement at different sites in the Northern Hemisphere.
The analysis of the air mass forward movements during 12th -16th March showed that the air mass was displaced eastward from the Fukushima area and bifurcated into a northern and a southern branch outside of Japan (Fig. 3). This eastward bifurcation of air masses is in agreement with the simulation of the potential dispersion of the radioactive cloud after the nuclear accident of Fukushima (Weather OnlineWebsite of United Kingdom, UK, 2012).
The unique global coverage of fallout radiocaesium released from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, particularly a fresh injection of 134Cs and 137Cs to the ground air provided a rare opportunity to observe a complete, uninterrupted revolution of the mid-latitude Surface Westerlies of the northern Hemisphere in late March 2011. This revolution took less than 21 days.
This work clearly demonstrates how little dissipation occurred during this time due to the nature of the rapid global air circulation system, and the Fukushima radioactive plume contaminated the entire Northern Hemisphere during a relatively short period of time.

F*ck Tiffany's: Breakfasting with Romney's Billionaires

 Romney's Breakfast of Billionaires

 by Greg Palast

On Friday, Governor Mitt Romney had breakfast with billionaires.

JOHN PAULSON, Paul Singer and Ken Langone who have dropped more than a million dollars each into the Romney “Super-PAC” Restore Our Future. As Butch said to Sundance, “Who ARE these guys?”

Singer's known as "The Vulture" on Wall Street. Langone's database company came up with the list of innocent Black voters that Katherine Harris wiped off the voter rolls of Florida in 2000. But who is Paulson, a guy so dark and devious he doesn't even have a nick-name?

I tried to join them ("Sorry, sir") just to ask why Romney was chowing down with the nation's most notorious billionaires and ballot bandits.

Here is just a bit about Breakfast Billionaire #3: John Paulson from my new book, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps—An investigation of Karl Rove, the Koch Gang and their Buck-Buddies. There's a comic book inside by Ted Rall with an introduction by Bobby Kennedy Jr. Get it here now.

It was just released today and already hit number one non-fiction PAPERBACK in the USA.

In August 2007, billionaire John Paulson walked into Goldman Sachs, the investment bank, with a billion-dollar idea. Paulson’s brainstorm had all the elements that Goldman found enchanting: a bit of fraud, a bit of flimflam, and lots and lots of the ultimate drug: OPM—Other Peoples’ Money.

Paulson’s scheme was simple. Paulson, a much followed hotshot hedge-fund manager, would announce that he was betting big on the recovery of the U.S. housing market. He was willing to personally insure that billions of dollars of shaky subprime mortgages, like the ones dumped on Detroit, would never go into default.

Now, all Goldman had to do was line up some suckers with more money than sense, some big European banks that handled public pension funds, and get them to put up several billion dollars to join with Paulson to insure these shaky mortgages. Paulson, to lure the “marks” into betting the billions, would pretend to put $200 million into the investment himself.

But, in fact, Paulson would be betting against those very mortgages. Paulson himself was the secret beneficiary of the “insurance” on the mortgages. When the housing market went bust, Paulson collected from the duped banks and they didn't even know it.

And Goldman would get a $15 million fee, or more, for lining up the sheep for the fleecing.

Goldman provided Paulson with a twenty-nineyear old kid, a French neophyte, to play the shill, making presentations to the European buyers with a fancy, 28-page “flip-book” about the wonderful, secure set of home mortgages the “clients” would be buying.

The young punk that Goldman put on the case texted a friend (in French — mais oui! —about the inscrutable “monstruosités”) while he was in the meeting, right as Paulson was laying on the bullshit.

The carefully selected bag of sick mortgages was packaged up into bundles totaling several billion dollars. To paint this turd gold, Paulson and Goldman brought in the well-respected risk-management arm of ACA Capital. Paulson personally met with ACA and gave them jive that he himself was investing in the insurance (as opposed to investing against the insurance).

Secretly, Paulson personally designed the package of mortgages to load it up heavily with losers, concentrating on adjustable rate mortgages, given to those with low credit scores, while culling out high-quality loans given by West Coast banker Wells Fargo. ACA, thinking Paulson was helping them pick the good stuff, put their valuable seal of approval on the mortgage packages, though they were quite nervous about their “reputation.” (But that’s what happens when you go out with bad boys.)

The mortgages in each package were dripping dreck—but with the ACA/Goldman stamp, Moody’s and Standard & Poors gave the insurance policies a AAA rating. European banks that hold government pension investments snapped up the AAA-rated junk.

In August 2008, over one million foreclosures resulted in the Goldman mortgage securities losing 99% of their value. The Royal Bank of Scotland, left holding the bag, wrote a check to Goldman Sachs for just short of one billion ($840,909,090). Goldman did the honorable thing . . . and turned over the money to Paulson (after taking their slice).

Don’t worry about the Royal Bank of Scotland. The British taxpayers and Bank of England covered its loss, taking over the bleeding bank.

And here’s the brilliance of it: when it came out that Goldman and other mortgage-backed securities were simply hot steaming piles of manure, their value plummeted further and the mortgage market, already wounded, now collapsed—and mortgage defaults accelerated nationwide. The result was that as the market plummeted, Paulson’s profits skyrocketed: his hedge fund pulled in $3.5 billion and Paulson put over a billion of it in his own pocket.

With Paulson skinning some of Europe’s leading banks for billions, there was a bit of a diplomatic and legal dustup. The SEC investigated, confirmed in detail Paulson’s scam and sued the kid at Goldman who acted as Paulson’s assistant, the one who couldn’t even follow the complex deal. Goldman paid a fine, but never admitted wrongdoing.

And Paulson received . . . a tax break.

Robert Pratt, a UAW member I met in Detroit, and several million others, lost their homes, including a Saudi prince who, in the recession, had to sell his Vail, Colorado, home ... to Paulson for just $45 million.

But now the bandit billionaire had a bit of problem. With $3.5 billion of ill-gotten lucre in his pocket, he needed something else in his pocket: politicians who would protect the tax dodge and keep the SEC enforcement dogs on a tight leash. Paulson wasn’t alone in profiteering from the savaging of the mortgage market. There was his billionaire buddy Paul Singer, known on Wall Street as “The Vulture.” Together they launched the super-PAC "Restore Our Future" with a check for one million each. They asked Bill Koch to throw in some change. Koch did: $2 million.

To restore the billionaires' future, the super-PAC's first order of business was to ally with Karl Rove. "Turdblossom," as George Bush called his mastermind Rove, had created a massive database on Americans, “DataTrust,” which works with a second massive database, “Themis,” funded by two other Koch Brothers, Charles and David. But that's another story in another chapter, read it, in Billionaires & Ballot Bandits.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Vancouver Transit Police Fascist Infiltrators Attack Free Speech

Canadian activists attacked, arrested while handing out literature

Attempt to intimidate social justice organizers

by Andy Freeman - Liberation

On Aug. 31, at Metrotown Skytrain Station near Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, transit police officers and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police assaulted, handcuffed and removed three activists who were peacefully handing out the Fire This Time newspaper. This is despite the fact that posted rules clearly state that "printed material for non-commercial purposes will be permitted on transit properties, other than transit vehicles or fare-paid zones," provided distribution does not impede transit traffic or operations.

Thomas Davies, Shakeel Lochan and Mike Larson, who are activists with the Canadian-based social-justice organization Fire This Time, were giving away the FTT newspaper without incident at the Metrotown Skytrain Station. After about an hour, two transit police officers arrived and began telling them that they needed to stop distributing and leave the station. The activists quoted the posted rules and refused to leave. The police insisted that it did not matter what the posted rules were since there were other rules that were not posted. Instead of stating what these other rules were, the police handcuffed the activists, tackling one, Davies, to the ground and applying pressure point controls.Ten police officers were involved in removing the three activists from the station. The three were driven in separate police vehicles to the Burnaby Community Police Station and released without any charges being filed. In addition to confiscating 150 newspapers, the video footage of the incident on Lochan's phone was deleted. All three activists went to the emergency room for medical treatment after the assault. In spite of police efforts to suppress the video record, links to videos of the attack can be found at .

The Aug. 31 attack was not an isolated incident. In the preceding four months, activists have been repeatedly harassed but were allowed to continue distributing their newspapers when they pointed out that the transit rules allowed them to distribute the papers at no cost.

It appears the transit authorities are trying to intimidate FTT activists in order to stop them from organizing and distributing social justice-oriented literature at the transit stations. All progressive people should support FTT's right to distribute their newspapers in their struggle for social justice. Down with police harassment! Down with police brutality! Support the right to distribute literature in all public locations!

Content may be reprinted with credit to

Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Dana Siegelman, Kiff Archer, Janine Bandcroft Sept. 17th 2012

This Week on GR

by C. L. Cook

September 11th is a date that lives in infamy, but unlike FDR's incantation of the infamous December 7th, 1941 attack at Pearl Harbour, 9/11/2001 marks the successful stealth assault meant to destroy American democracy.

So, it is fitting, in a perverse way, that one of America's most egregiously convicted political prisoners should be sent again to prison on September 11th 2012 in a case stitched up by the very authors responsible for undoing the Constitution and bringing Justice to ruin in the United States.

Former Governor of Alabama and democrat, Don Siegelman, political foe of friends of political fixer, Karl Rove made the long journey back to the Oakdale prison last week to serve out a five-plus year sentence for bribery, though the court acknowledges, Don Siegelman never received a single cent, or any tangential advantage in the matter at hand.

The re-sentencing marks the end of a six year fight by Siegelman to overturn his prior conviction, a conviction no fewer than 130 former Attorneys General have decried, but it's not an end to the era of "Bush League Justice."

Dana Siegelman is Don's daughter and the organizer behind a Presidential pardon campaign, petitioning Barack Obama to overturn the suspect court findings. Dana Siegelman in the first half.

And; it's huntin' season in British Columbia again, or so says the provincial government. The difference this year though is, ten First Nations bands within the Great Bear Rainforest have declared a ban on hunting both Black and Grizzly bears. These animals are annually preyed upon by trophy hunters, many of whom pay thousands of dollars to guide-outfitters for the curious privilege of destroying a wild animal. The Heiltsuk Nation is one of the Coastal First Nations Coalition behind the ban of which band councillor, Jessie Housty says;

"It's not a part of our culture to kill an animal for sport and hang them on a wall."

Kiff Archer is founder of the Central Coast Grizzly Patrol and BC-Coastal Bear & Wolf Patrol, an organization of volunteers working to protect bears and wolves in the Great Bear Rainforest from both local and fly-in hunters. Kiff lives in Bella Coola, and was adopted by Great Chief Qwatsinas and given the name Pakwani for the mountain overlooking the traditionally most highly populated bear area in the region - known by the killers of bears as "Bear Central."

Kiff Archer, standing tall for the bears of the Great Bear Rainforest in the second half.

And; Victoria Street Newz publisher and CFUV Radio broadcaster, Janine Bandcroft will be hear at the bottom of the hour to bring us up to speed with some of the things going on on the streets of our city, and beyond. But first, Dana Siegelman and appealing to common sense and justice in the Don Siegelman case.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Monday, 5-6pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, 104.3 cable, and on the internet at: He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site, Check out the GR blog at:

Getting Don: Siegelman Back to Prison in Bogus Political Case

I am the daughter of the former Governor of Alabama, Don Siegelman. He was indicted four years ago on corrupt charges brought forth by U.S. prosecutor Leura Canary, wife of his political opponent's campaign manager.

Leura is married to Bill Canary, former partner and long-time friend of Karl Rove. There is evidence linking Karl, Bill, and current governor of Alabama, Bob Riley, to my dad's case (in addition to the obvious connection with Leura Canary).
Few, other than the prosecutors and conspirators, ever thought there would be a conviction.

Last month, my dad was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison. I write to you because I believe our current government has perverted democracy, and I desperately need your help to free my dad.

He was convicted of bribery, when the evidence clearly states that he never pocketed a cent, and the man that "bribed" him wanted nothing in return. All of this is horribly wrong, worse than any nightmare I have ever had.
My dad is not only innocent, but respectable in almost every way. He is the only  politician in the state of Alabama to have served in all of the highest state offices.

He was in office for more than 25 years before being accused of criminal activity. He reached a level that threatened the superiority of Republicans in the South. It is incredible to think that our government spends millions prosecuting political opponents for the mere hope of eliminating competition.

I need your help in exposing this grave injustice, along with the many others committed by our current justice system. Those behind these injustices must be stopped. I am begging you, as a fellow activist for democracy, to help me free my dad by pursuing justice.

Dana Siegelman - I have completed my baccalaureate in Communication Studies and am pursuing a Masters of Middle East Studies in Israel.  My dad is the former governor of Alabama and was recently imprisoned on corrupt charges.  I am on this site to free my dad and reveal the injustices of our "justice" system.  Thank you for caring about democracy and for taking action to pursue justice. 
[For more coverage of the Siegelman case, please see here. And listen to Thom Hartmann go off on background and the latest developments. Democracy Now coverage is here. And, Scott Horton, from Harpers Magazine who's been on this bone like a rottweiler has an illuminating look into the career connections of Siegelman's usurper at the Alabama governor's mansion, Bob Riley and the bogus "bribery" and "conspiracy" charges used to send Siegelman up are based on this "criminal" enterprise. - ape]
[UPDATE Sept. 5/07 - This case is still not firing the imagination of editors employed by the corporate press, but Scott Horton's sources tell a fascinating story here. -ape]

First Nations Ban Bear Hunt in Great Bear

First Nations ban bear hunt

by  Martina Perry - The Northern View

Ten First Nations groups on the province’s north and central coast have declared a ban on bear hunting in the Great Bear Rainforest in recent days, with the provincial government stating their disappointment with the unilateral ban.

“Despite years of effort by the Coastal First Nations to find a resolution to this issue with the province this senseless and brutal trophy hunt continues,” said Kitasoo/Xaixais First Nation Chief Doug Neasloss.

The Coastal First Nations — the group imposing the ban — are against people hunting both grizzly bears and black bears for reasons other than for subsistence or out of self-defence.

The coalition of First Nations have a number of issues with the hunt, including the fact that hunters tend to go after larger, potentially genetically-superior bears which could weaken future breeding; unknowingly harvesting black bears that have the recessive gene responsible for the Kermode or Spirit bear; and the loss of tourism opportunities.

Above all, the group is diametrically opposed to killing animals that are not to be used for food.

“It’s not a part of our culture to kill an animal for sport and hang them on a wall,” Jessie Housty, a councillor with the Heiltsuk Nation, said. He alleges that hunters often gun down bears while they are near shoreline foraging for food.