Wednesday, February 11, 2009
by Jack Newby
Palm Springs CA - The Desert Pride Community Center announces a display and discussion of historic articles published 40 years ago in the Los Angeles Free Press on February 12, 2009 at 7pm at the Desert Pride Community Center located at 611 S. Palm Canyon Drive, 2nd Floor in Palm Springs. The presentation and discussion will be led by Steven Finger, Publisher of the LA Free Press. These rare articles will bring back a forgotten past of discriminations, declarations, and developments. In fact, the very first story of the very first public protest of the Los Angeles Gay Community was in the LA Free Press on its front page, and with what may be the first published photos of the event. It was a 'happening' that actually pre-dates by more than two full years the 1969 Stonewall incident in New York that is considered by most historians to be the beginning of the present-day Gay Movement. It is a history that must be known and disseminated to a society often ignorant of the pain and prejudice endured, and still needing to be set aright.
Arguably, the nation's first 'underground' newspaper, the Los Angeles Free Press was a window on the counter-culture of the 60's. While most remember the LA Free Press for its reports on anti-war protests, drugs and drug busts, tales of Timothy Leary, the Black Panthers and the Chicago 7, reviews of psychedelic music and all things hip and Hippie, it was, notably, often the only LA newspaper to publish articles and ads for the Gay Community.
A coalition of Democrats and some Republicans reached a compromise that trimmed billions in spending from an earlier version of the Senate economic stimulus bill.
• $3.5 billion for energy-efficient federal buildings (original bill $7 billion)
• $75 million from Smithsonian (original bill $150 million)
• $200 million from Environmental Protection Agency Superfund (original bill $800 million)
• $100 million from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (original bill $427 million)
• $100 million from law enforcement wireless (original bill $200 million)
• $300 million from federal fleet of hybrid vehicles (original bill $600 million)
• $100 million from FBI construction (original bill $400 million)
• $55 million for historic preservation
• $122 million for Coast Guard polar icebreaker/cutters
• $100 million for Farm Service Agency modernization
• $50 million for Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service
• $65 million for watershed rehabilitation
• $100 million for distance learning
• $98 million for school nutrition
• $50 million for aquaculture
• $2 billion for broadband
• $100 million for National Institute of Standards and Technology
• $50 million for detention trustee
• $25 million for Marshalls Construction
• $300 million for federal prisons
• $300 million for BYRNE Formula grant program
• $140 million for BYRNE Competitive grant program
• $10 million state and local law enforcement
• $50 million for NASA
• $50 million for aeronautics
• $50 million for exploration
• $50 million for Cross Agency Support
• $200 million for National Science Foundation
• $100 million for science
• $1 billion for Energy Loan Guarantees
• $4.5 billion for General Services Administration
• $89 million General Services Administration operations
• $50 million from Department of Homeland Security
• $200 million Transportation Security Administration
• $122 million for Coast Guard Cutters, modifies use
• $25 million for Fish and Wildlife
• $55 million for historic preservation
• $20 million for working capital fund
• $165 million for Forest Service capital improvement
• $90 million for State and Private Wildlife Fire Management
• $1 billion for Head Start/Early Start
• $5.8 billion for Health Prevention Activity
• $2 billion for Health Information Technology Grants
• $600 million for Title I (No Child Left Behind)
• $16 billion for school construction
• $3.5 billion for higher education construction
• $1.25 billion for project based rental
• $2.25 billion for Neighborhood Stabilization
• $1.2 billion for retrofitting Project 8 housing
• $40 billion for state fiscal stabilization (includes $7.5 billion of state incentive grants)
I am in the middle of shooting my next movie and I am looking for a few brave people who work on Wall Street or in the financial industry to come forward and share with me what they know. Based on those who have already contacted me, I believe there are a number of you who know "the real deal" about the abuses that have been happening. You have information that the American people need to hear. I am humbly asking you for a moment of courage, to be a hero and help me expose the biggest swindle in American history.
All correspondence with me will be kept confidential. Your identity will be protected and you will decide to what extent you wish to participate in telling the greatest crime story ever told.
The important thing here is for you to step up as an American and do your duty of shedding some light on this financial collapse. A few good people have already come forward, which leads me to believe there are many more of you out there who know what's going on. Here's your chance to let your fellow citizens in on the truth.
If you have any info that would help, please contact me at my private email address: email@example.com.
For the rest of you on my email list who don't work in the financial industry, you're probably wondering, "What the heck is this all about? I thought he said he was making a romantic comedy!"
Well, I just can't say much right now. I'm sure you can understand why. One thing I can tell you is that you're gonna like this movie when I'm done with it. Oh, yeah...
So, again, if you work for a bank, a brokerage firm or an insurance company -- or if you have seen things or heard things that you believe the American people have a right to know -- please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you in advance for your help!
President says world 'entering an era of dialogue and intellect' Remarks follow fresh Obama vow to seek diplomatic progress
The Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, opened the door today to the prospect of talks with the US, less than 24 hours after Barack Obama said face-to-face discussions could take place within months.
"The new US administration has announced that they want to produce change and pursue the course of dialogue. It is quite clear that real change must be fundamental and not tactical. It is clear the Iranian nation welcomes real changes," Ahmadinejad told a rally in Tehran's Freedom Square during celebrations marking the 30th anniversary of the Iranian revolution.
"The Iranian nation is ready to hold talks, but talks in a fair atmosphere with mutual respect."
He said terrorism, the elimination of nuclear weapons, restructuring the UN security council and the fight against drug trafficking could be the subjects of discussion.
The Iranian leader said the world was "entering an era of dialogue and intellect" because military power had been unsuccessful, and "does not want to see the dark age of Bush repeated".
What is the Geula Party? Is it a political statement? Art? A spiritual manifesto? The Geula party seeks to be all of the above, but it is first of all an attempt to transmit a radically different message to the Israeli people on the eve of the Israeli elections which will take place this Tuesday, on the 10th of February.
Like the Intergalactic Underground, the idea for the Geula Party came from voyages in the psychedelic realms. It was there, while traveling in inner space, that I confronted a voice which urged me: "In this chaotic reality in which you live, you have to raise your voice and say something that will break the wall of lies in which the people are caught, in which you yourself are caught."
"Israel," the voice said, "is in a psychotic state, and what it needs now is an holistic cure."
Psychedelically-induced voices tend to make some curious demands. This one called upon me to leave everything in my life in order to start a new party, one that will be radically different from everything Israeli politics has to offer, a psychedelic party which will bring a truly mind expanding message to the people. This was the Geula party.
"Geula" is the Hebrew biblical word for salvation or redemption, and it has an important part in Jewish thought about inner freedom and the end of time. The Geula Party uses both Israeli as well as Jewish symbols but plants them within a psychedelic context. It was designed to be an alien apparition in the field of Israeli politics, but all the while draw from the bank of the Jewish and Israeli collective unconscious.
So what is it? To put it briefly, I can call the Geula Party a consciousness expansion party. In contrast to the other parties that run for parliament, the Geula Party runs in the inner elections, i.e., the elections going on inside our consciousness (in Hebrew the word "elections" and the word "choices" are the same -- "B'chirot").
Who do we run against? Well, we run against various other inner parties and powers that compete for people's attention and state of mind. We run against carnivorous capitalism, the powers of nationalism, the powers of commercials and mass media, and also the powers of random choice, of just living your life with out making one truly aware choice.
In this handout photo released by Sotheby's, an illumination from the 18th century Viennese miniature manuscript 'Grace After Meals and Other Benedictions,' is shown, part of the Valmadonna Library Trust collection at Sotheby's in New York, Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. According to Sotheby's, the Valmadonna Trust is the finest private collection of Hebrew books and manuscripts in the world. Amassed over the past century, the group of 11,000 works is significant as a primary source on both world and literary history and Jewish life and culture. The auction house is seeking a buyer for what's considered the greatest collection of Judaica in private hands.
By JOHANN HARI
With the global economy collapsing all around us, the last issue President Barack Obama wants to talk about is the ongoing war on drugs. But if he doesn't -- and fast -- he may well have two collapsed and hemorrhaging countries on his hands.
The first lies in the distant mountains of Afghanistan. The second is right next door, on the other side of the Rio Grande.
Here's a starter about where this war has led us. Where in the world are you most likely to be beheaded? Where are the severed craniums of police officers being found week after week in the streets, pinned to bloody notes that tell their colleagues, "this is so that you learn respect"? Where are hand grenades being tossed into crowds to intimidate the public into shutting up? Which country was just named by the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff as the most likely after Pakistan to suffer a "rapid and sudden collapse"?
Most of us would guess Iraq. The answer is Mexico. The death toll in Tijuana today is higher than in Baghdad. The story of how this came to happen is the story of this war -- and why it will have to end, soon.
When you criminalize a drug for which there is a large market, it doesn't disappear. The trade is simply transferred from chemists and doctors to gangs. In order to protect their patch and their supply routes, these gangs tool up and kill anyone who gets in their way. You can see this any day on the streets of London or Los Angeles, where teen gangs stab or shoot each other for control of the 3,000 percent profit margins on offer. Now imagine this process on a countrywide scale, and you have Mexico and Afghanistan today.
Drug syndicates control 8 percent of global GDP, which means they have greater resources than many national armies. They own helicopters and submarines and they can afford to spread the woodworm of corruption through poor countries right to the top.
Why Mexico? Why now? In the past decade, the U.S. has spent a fortune spraying carcinogenic chemicals over Colombia's coca-growing areas, so the drug trade has simply shifted to Mexico. It's known as the "balloon effect": press down in one place, and the air rushes to another.
This spring farmers throughout Afghanistan, who would otherwise be preparing their fields for another poppy crop, have chosen to plant pomegranate trees instead. With the help of the UK charity Pom354 and the support of local tribal leaders, these farmers will replant their fields, build storage facilities to preserve the fruit throughout the season, and work together to find the best ways to process and market their product.
Opium poppies are largely grown to supply the world with heroin, and the production and exportation of heroin from Afghanistan is one reason for the excessive presence of foreign military in the region. Pom354 founder James Brett started the organization with a vision to empower rural farmers to create peace in their communities by reducing the supply of heroin, engaging in legitimate commerce, and freeing themselves and their families from the extortion and intimidation inherent in the drug trade.
Change you can download.
The 6,780 reports, current as of this month, comprise over 127,000 pages of material on some of the most contentious issues in the nation, from the U.S. relationship with Israel to the financial collapse. Nearly 2,300 of the reports were updated in the last 12 months, while the oldest report goes back to 1990. The release represents the total output of the Congressional Research Service (CRS) electronically available to Congressional offices. The CRS is Congress's analytical agency and has a budget in excess of $100M per year.
Open government lawmakers such as Senators John McCain (R-Arizona) and Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vermont) have fought for years to make the reports public, with bills being introduced--and rejected--almost every year since 1998. The CRS, as a branch of Congress, is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.
CRS reports are highly regarded as non-partisan, in-depth, and timely. The reports top the list of the "10 Most-Wanted Government Documents" compiled by the Washington based Center for Democracy and Technology. The Federation of American Scientists, in pushing for the reports to be made public, stated that the "CRS is Congress' Brain and it's useful for the public to be plugged into it,". While Wired magazine called their concealment "The biggest Congressional scandal of the digital age".
Although all CRS reports are legally in the public domain, they are quasi-secret because the CRS, as a matter of policy, makes the reports available only to members of Congress, Congressional committees and select sister agencies such as the GAO.
Members of Congress are free to selectively release CRS reports to the public but are only motivated to do so when they feel the results would assist them politically. Universally embarrassing reports are kept quiet.
Each time the topic of opening up the reports comes up, it runs into walls erected by opposing lawmakers such as Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), who "like many members of Congress, views CRS as an extension of his staff,". If the reports were made public, "every time a member requests a particular document, the public may infer that he's staking out a particular policy position." (Aaron Saunders, Stevens' spokesman, Washington Post, 2007).
However that hasn't stopped a grey market forming around the documents. Opportunists smuggle out nearly all reports and sell them to cashed up special interests--lobbyists, law firms, multi-nationals, and presumably, foreign governments. Congress has turned a blind eye to special interest access, while continuing to vote down public access.
Opposition to public availability comes not only from members of Congress but, also, from within the CRS.
One might think that the CRS, as an agency of the Library of Congress, would institutionally support having a wider audience. But an internal memo reveals the CRS lobbying against bills (S. Res. 54 and H.R. 3630) which would have given the public access to its reports (Project on Government Secrecy, FAS, 2003).
The primary line pushed by the CRS is the one that appeals most to Congressional members--open publication would prevent spin control. The memo states this in delicate terms, referring to such spin failures as "Impairment of Member Communication with Constituents".
Of course the CRS doesn't really care about politicians facing much needed voter discipline, but it does have reasons of its own to avoid public oversight. Institutionally, the CRS has established an advisory relationship with members of Congress similar to the oversight-free relationship established between intelligence agencies and the office of the President.
Free from meaningful public oversight of its work, the CRS, as "Congress's brain", is able to influence Congressional outcomes, even when its reports contain errors. Arguably, its institutional power over congress is second only to the parties themselves. Public oversight would reduce its ability to exercise that influence without criticism. That is why it opposes such oversight, and that is why such oversight must be established immediately.
In 1913 Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, a forceful proponent for open government, stated "Sunlight is the best disinfectant; electric light the most efficient policeman". Those wise words are still true today.
Welcome, Congress, to our generation's electric sun.
By Robert Parry
Though seemingly forgotten by most TV talking heads, it was only three years ago, when the Republicans had control of both the White House and Congress – and "filibuster" was a dirty word.
It was usually coupled with "obstructionist" amid demands that any of George W. Bush's proposals deserved "an up-or-down vote."
Yet now, with the Democrats holding the White House and Congress, the Republicans and the Washington press corps have come to view the filibuster fondly, as a valued American tradition, a time-honored part of a healthy legislative process.
Today, it's seen as a good thing that Democrats must muster 60 votes in the Senate to pass almost anything.
When the TV pundits talk about Barack Obama's economic stimulus plan squeaking through the Senate, they're actually referring to a vote that might fall in the range of 60 or more yes votes to perhaps 38 no's, a three-touchdown "squeaker."
The only thing close about the vote is whether the package can overcome a Republican filibuster and get 60 votes for "cloture." To reach this super-majority, Democrats have been forced to accept a higher percentage of tax cuts, even if leading economists consider tax cuts one of the least effective ways of stimulating the moribund economy.
Yet, this anti-democratic fact about the GOP strategy – that it seeks to frustrate the will of the American majority, which rejected the Republicans and their policies in the last two U.S. elections – is rarely mentioned in the news.
Nor is the fact that Republicans railed against even a hint of a filibuster when the Democrats were in the minority just a few years ago.