Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Yeah, baby, I'm feelin' it again!

Tomgram: Michael Klare, The Great Superpower Meltdown


Think of us as just having passed through the failed era of "must" in Washington. For almost eight years, George W. Bush made speeches and appearances in which he hectored this or that country, or enemy, or people about what they "must" do. Never, I suspect, has an American president lectured more people out there on their responsibilities to us. Looking back, what's surprising is how few paid much attention. The Iraqis didn't listen, nor did the Afghans, nor the Iranians, nor, it seems, the Pakistanis, nor the Russians, nor the Chinese... and so on. It's been a remarkably ignominious lesson in bluster and bust -- and a reasonable measure of the actual power of a country that, not so many years ago, Washington pundits were happily (and favorably) comparing to the Roman and British empires in its reach and ambition.

In Washington, recently, those "musts" have been on the wane, which is hardly surprising. In the wake of a series of failed wars and a near economic collapse, a lot of "musts" now seem increasingly aimed in Washington's direction. Michael Klare, author of Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy, has turned to another unusual but striking measure of waning American power in the world, an official report on the relatively distant future issued by the U.S. Intelligence Community late last year. The distant future was once, of course, the province of utopian or dystopian thinkers, pulp fiction writers, oddballs, visionaries, even outright nuts, not government intelligence services. Regularly analyzing that future has, however, become almost as much a duty of the 18 agencies of the U.S. Intelligence Community as doing National Intelligence Estimates on Iran. Consider that a measure of national security sprawl. Maybe, given Klare's analysis below, the IC should leave the future to the screenwriters for Star Trek and stick to our present world. Tom

Welcome to 2025

American Preeminence Is Disappearing Fifteen Years Early
By Michael T. Klare

Memo to the CIA: You may not be prepared for time-travel, but welcome to 2025 anyway! Your rooms may be a little small, your ability to demand better accommodations may have gone out the window, and the amenities may not be to your taste, but get used to it. It's going to be your reality from now on.

Okay, now for the serious version of the above: In November 2008, the National Intelligence Council (NIC), an affiliate of the Central Intelligence Agency, issued the latest in a series of futuristic publications intended to guide the incoming Obama administration. Peering into its analytic crystal ball in a report entitled Global Trends 2025, it predicted that America's global preeminence would gradually disappear over the next 15 years -- in conjunction with the rise of new global powerhouses, especially China and India. The report examined many facets of the future strategic environment, but its most startling, and news-making, finding concerned the projected long-term erosion of American dominance and the emergence of new global competitors. "Although the United States is likely to remain the single most powerful actor [in 2025]," it stated definitively, the country's "relative strength -- even in the military realm -- will decline and U.S. leverage will become more constrained."

That, of course, was then; this -- some 11 months into the future -- is now and how things have changed. Futuristic predictions will just have to catch up to the fast-shifting realities of the present moment. Although published after the onset of the global economic meltdown was underway, the report was written before the crisis reached its full proportions and so emphasized that the decline of American power would be gradual, extending over the assessment's 15-year time horizon. But the economic crisis and attendant events have radically upset that timetable. As a result of the mammoth economic losses suffered by the United States over the past year and China's stunning economic recovery, the global power shift the report predicted has accelerated. For all practical purposes, 2025 is here already.

Amy Goodman: Breaking the Sound Barrier


by Bill Moyers

Amy Goodman's new book is Breaking the Sound Barrier.
Amy Goodman's new book is "Breaking the Sound Barrier." (Photo: Riza Falk / flickr)

    Bill Moyers writes this introduction to Amy Goodman's latest book, "Breaking the Sound Barrier," published by Haymarket Books.


    You can learn more of the truth about Washington and the world from one week of Amy Goodman's "Democracy Now!" than from a month of Sunday morning talk shows.

    Make that a year of Sunday morning talk shows.

    That's because Amy, as you will discover on every page of her new book, "Breaking the Sound Barrier", knows the critical question for journalists is how close they are to the truth, not how close they are to power. Like I. F. Stone, she values the facts on the ground; unlike the Sunday beltway anchors, she refuses to take the official version of reality as the definition of news, or to engage in Washington's "wink-wink" game, by which both parties to an interview tacitly understand that the questions and answers will be framed to appear adversarial when in fact their purpose is to avoid revealing how power really works. Quick: recall the last time you heard a celebrity journalist on any of the Sunday talk shows grill a politician on what campaign contributors get for their generosity. Try again: name any of those elite interrogators who skewered any politician for saying that "single-payer" wasn't on the table in the debate over health care reform because "there's no support for it." OK, one last chance: recall how often you have heard any of the network stars insist that Newt Gingrich reveal just who is funding his base as the omnipresent expert on everything.


    Now read "Breaking the Sound Barrier" for a reality check. And tune in to "Democracy Now!" to hear and see the difference an independent journalist can make in providing citizens what they need to know to make democracy work.

    It takes the nerves, stamina and willpower of an Olympic triathlete to do what Amy Goodman does. That's just who she is, this quiet-spoken tornado of muckraking journalism: Edward R. Murrow with a twist of Emma Goldman, a Washington Post reporter once noted - willing to take on the powers that be to get at truth and justice, then spreading the word of those two indispensable gospels to the republic and the world beyond. Amy Goodman goes where angels fear to tread. Beaten by Indonesian troops while she and a colleague - also beaten - were covering East Timor's fight for independence. Hiking dangerous African deltas to get to the bottom of Chevron Oil's collusion with the Nigerian military. Or closer to home, in New Orleans or Appalachia or facing down the police when her colleagues were arrested in Minneapolis during the 2008 Republican National Convention (they threw her in the slammer, too).

    Through her reporting, we hear from people who scarcely exist in news covered by the corporate-owned press. We learn about issues of war and peace and social wrong. She is impervious to government subterfuge or spin. "Goodman is the journalist as uninvited guest," that Washington Post reporter wrote. "You might think of the impolitic question; she asks it." And once it's been asked, she refuses to take "no comment" for an answer. She returns to a story time and again, continually digging, refusing to let her audience or investigative target forget how important it is to nail down just who's responsible and what needs to be done.

    On top of everything else, she finds time to take her message out to a broad public with speeches and books and a weekly newspaper column, from which her collection of essays, "Breaking the Sound Barrier," has been selected. I'd be envious if it didn't appear unseemly. Let's just say I'm in awe. Read this collection and revel in the truth-telling. Be outraged by what you learn from it and renew your oath as a citizen.

A Call for Congress to Take Action on Torture



Whereas over seven years have passed since President George W. Bush fraudulently induced the U.S. congress, the American people, and the world into the illegal war in Iraq,

Whereas it is nearly five years since Specialist Darby revealed the photos of Abu Ghraib that showed us torture being committed by our government in our name,

Whereas further evidence of torture remains secret and has been hidden from the public, courts, and Congress to insulate the perpetrators from appropriate criminal liability. . . .



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Public Opposes Wars, Will Our Representatives?

Here is how to phone them, what to ask them to commit to, and where to report what they say.  

There are two bills you can ask them to sign onto, but because bills must be passed by the Senate and signed by the President as well, a stronger commitment from your Representative in the House is a commitment to vote No on war funding bills.  If the House blocks a war funding bill, neither the Senate nor the President can continue a war.

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Daybreak Tour Heads to PA, ME, MA, and CA

The Daybreak book tour is rolling along and has stopped in 20 of the scheduled 48 cities already.  The Miami, Fla., stop saw a hall packed to capacity with a crowd standing in the back and unable to get in, and the evening filmed by C-Span's Book TV.  Watch for it on your television or computer in the coming weeks.

Book TV

Air America host Nicole Sandler introduced the event in Miami and hosted a discussion of it last night on her show.

Please buy the book at your real-world book stores, which is what encourages them to stock greater quantities and display them more prominently.

Here's the complete tour schedule.

And below are the next several stops.  Join the tour, get a book and get it signed in Pennsylvania, Maine, Massachusetts, or California:

Nov. 3 Philadelphia PA
Nov. 4 Newtown and Kutztown, PA
Nov. 5 Bangor, ME
Nov. 6 Portland, ME
Nov. 7 M's Vineyard, MA
Nov. 19 Davis, CA
Nov. 20, Nevada City, CA
Nov. 21, Fresno and Fair Oaks, CA
Nov. 22, Bay Area, CA
Nov. 23, Los Angeles, CA
Nov. 24, Orange County, CA

Anti-war activist's works banned at prison camps


Professor Noam Chomsky may be among America's most enduring anti-war activists. But the leftist intellectual's anthology of post 9/11 commentary is taboo at Guantánamo's prison camp library, which offers books and videos on Harry Potter, World Cup soccer and Islam.

U.S. military censors recently rejected a Pentagon lawyer's donation of an Arabic-language copy of the political activist and linguistic professor's 2007 anthology Interventions for the library, which has more than 16,000 items.

Chomsky, 80, who has been voicing disgust with U.S. foreign policy since the Vietnam War, reacted with irritation and derision. "This happens sometimes in totalitarian regimes,'' he told The Miami Herald by e-mail after learning of the decision.

"Of some incidental interest, perhaps, is the nature of the book they banned. It consists of op-eds written for The New York Times syndicate and distributed by them. The subversive rot must run very deep.''

Prison camp officials would not say specifically why the book was rejected but Navy Lt. Cmdr. Brook DeWalt, a Guantánamo spokesman, said staff reviews "every proposed or recommended library item to assess force protection issues associated with camp dynamics -- such as impact on good order and discipline.''

The banned book showed the bespectacled professor-emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in button-down shirt and sweater staring out of a black cover of a 2007 edition printed by a Beirut publishing house.

EFF Takedown Hall of Shame

Bogus copyright and trademark complaints have threatened all kinds of creative expression on the Internet. EFF's Hall Of Shame collects the worst of the worst.


Daily Express - Breaking news, sport and showbiz from the World's Greatest Newspaper

Story ImageA MEDIUM-sized dog has the same carbon impact as a Toyota Land Cruiser driven 6,000 miles a year, a new book claims.

Time To Eat The Dog: The Real Guide To Sustainable Living also suggests a cat is equivalent to running a Volkswagen Golf.

The findings are based on the amount of land needed to grow food for pets.

Even a pair of hamsters do the same damage as running a plasma television, say the book's authors Robert and Brenda Vale.

But rabbits and chickens were eco-friendly because they provide meat for their owners, while a canary or a goldfish does little harm to the planet, the authors said.

How To Make Your Very Own Zombie

If horror movies have taught us anything (oh, and they really have), it's surely that Zombies can occur anywhere, anytime, for any conceivable reason. Like the recently re-born (har har) Vampire craze, the screen's love of a good Zombie movie has faltered very little from its early days of the classic Romero 'Dead' series. Oh sure, they've tossed in hyperactivity (Zack Snyder's ode-de-Romero), selective intelligence (Romero himself with his calculating lot from 'Land'), and even small cases of obedience (Fido), but the basic blueprint remains relatively unchanged: re-animated dead person (or damn near dead) shuffling the countryside killing the living. But how would one, say, in any given circumstance (see: want), create a Zombie for one's self? Well, luck for you, there are numerous and varied ways a person can have a member of the living dead working for him or her. Let's explore, shall we?

Create a Virus

resident-evil-zombieHow hard could this be, really? There are millions of virus strains floating around at any given time, so, hire a professional and have him or her get to work! Many of the hundreds of Zombie films have given us a great deal to go on with this plan, so let's turn our attention to a few. First of all, the classic Video Game-turn-Film Franchise, Resident Evil. As it turns out, each and every viral mutation in this collection of media all started with the very basic, Progenitor Virus. Yes, sir. Thanks to this bad boy and its tragic mishandling, hordes of the dead have become a blight to Raccoon City and the surrounding Zombie Gang 28daysareas. Nice job, science guys! Or, what about the Rage Virus? Yep, straight from 28 Days Later (and 28 Weeks, as well as the 2011 release of 28 Months) we now know that you don't even have to be dead yet to be turned into something eerily similar to a Zombie. And these bastards are quick! With a body full of the Rage Virus you get the convenience of being alive (for a while) and still hungering for humanity! Go viruses!

Toxic Substances

return-of-the-living-dead-tar-man-brainsAsk around, it's not too difficult to locate a surplus of toxic waste. If it's another fact we've gleaned from film it's that enormous barrels of oozing and deadly toxic liquid are pretty much strewn around willy nilly. And this is the stuff you really want to get your hands on to create some exceptionally nasty Zombies. Remember the hazardous chemicals that gave us not only the basis for Return of the Living Dead, but also the great a wonderfully creepy Tar Man? Yeah, that stuff was called 2-4-5 Trioxin and it was not screwing around. Those Zombies were just plain mean! Perhaps you'd prefer a nameless zombie-deadairsubstance to keep your dirty, dirty fingerprints off the plethora or paperwork. Oh, we've got you covered there, too! In Dead Air, the Zombie masses are brought to life by a wicked Toxic Viral Gas (nasty) and in C.H.U.D., those subterranean freaks were mutated (in surprisingly similar to TMNT fashion) by Toxic Waste dumped into sewers. So, get your hands on some 50-gallon drums of this shit, and the living dead will beat a path to your door. Literally!

Military Weaponry

planet terror

chud-2When it comes to creating some of the nastiest substances around for the soul purpose of mass destruction, it's hard to look much further than the Military. For years, chemical weapons have served history's desire of eradicating the opposition all in the name of Natural Selection (see: War). Agent Orange, Mustard Gas, you name it: if it could be stored in a facility and eventually dropped or sprayed all over an unsuspecting population, the Military made it. But few have been so wantonly destructive as DC2, the wicked chem's from Planet Terror. Not only did this stuff make you a card-carrying member of the walking deceased, but it rendered your poor body lousy with boils and pustules. Awesome. Or, strangely, if you happen to be a pilot in a crippled fighter plane on a broken runway and you're suddenly hit by a Loc-Nar training plane full of… something, you, too can have a mess of re-animated dead soldiers on your hands just like in the B-17 episode of Heavy Metal. Yay, Military!

Human Diseases

zombieland_zombie_clownA bit like viruses, but more along the lines of being 'food borne', this particular way of getting yourself your own Zombie is spread by disease. In the new mega-hit, Zombieland, the general populous of earth has been infected by a mutated version of Human Mad-Cow disease simpsonsturning them into blood thirsty, brain hungry living dead. As always, there are always small pockets where, evidently, people are safe from the disease, but they're never all they're hyped up to be. Oh, and if you caught this past Sunday's Simpson's Tree House of Horror XX, Springfield gets turned by bad diseased meat from Krusty Burgers. So you see, a disease is really a great way to go to infect a ton of people. Get some today!

Do chimps grieve?

This incredible image was shot for National Geographic by Monica Szczupider, and shows chimpanzees at the Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center in Cameroon. They're observing as the body of an elder troop member named Dorothy is taken to burial. She died at 40 years of age, which is pretty old for a chimpanzee.

The photo appears in the November issue of National Geographic Magazine, in the "Visions of Earth" section. [ Thanks, Marilyn Terrell ]

Anti Piracy Laws and Lawsuits Fail to Change Social Norms

Written by Ernesto

New laws designed to thwart illicit file-sharing have been drafted by governments all over the world recently. At the same time the entertainment industries have claimed victories against individual file-sharers and operators of BitTorrent sites. Interestingly, these developments haven't changed social norms towards piracy which makes it hard to maintain compliance.

In the first months of 2009, the RIAA won two major cases against file-sharers and were awarded damages worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Another success for the music (and movie) studios came in April when the people behind The Pirate Bay were sentenced to one year in jail and ordered to pay hefty fines.

However, those who thought that these landmark cases would change public opinion towards file-sharing are wrong. In fact, not even the draconian anti-piracy legislation that went into effect in Sweden this spring could change social norms towards downloading movies and music without the permission of copyright holders.

These findings are the result of the Cyber Standards sociological research project carried out by Swedish researchers. They conducted survey interviews among 1,000 people between the ages of 15 and 25 to measure the strength of the social norms towards illegal file sharing. The aim was to find out whether the newly implemented anti-piracy legislation (IPRED) had been successful in reducing the gap between legal and social standards.

The findings of the surveys show that despite stronger anti-piracy legislation, the attitudes of young Swedes towards piracy haven't changed.

"Despite the intensive efforts of the government during the six-month performance period, social support for copyright law in relation to file sharing is still at a record low. Young people in the survey do not feel any social pressure to refrain from interchange, whether from adults or peers," researcher Måns Svensson comments.

Pain Of Torture Can Make Innocent Seem Guilty

The rationale behind torture is that pain will make the guilty confess, but a new study by researchers at Harvard University finds that the pain of torture can make even the innocent seem guilty.

Participants in the study met a woman suspected of cheating to win money. The woman was then "tortured" by having her hand immersed in ice water while study participants listened to the session over an intercom. She never confessed to anything, but the more she suffered during the torture, the guiltier she was perceived to be.

The research, published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, was conducted by Kurt Gray, graduate student in psychology, and Daniel M. Wegner, professor of psychology, both in Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

"Our research suggests that torture may not uncover guilt so much as lead to its perception," says Gray. "It is as though people who know of the victim's pain must somehow convince themselves that it was a good idea -- and so come to believe that the person who was tortured deserved it."

Not all torture victims appear guilty, however. When participants in the study only listened to a recording of a previous torture session -- rather than taking part as witnesses of ongoing torture -- they saw the victim who expressed more pain as less guilty. Gray explains the different results as arising from different levels of complicity.

"Those who feel complicit with the torture have a need to justify the torture, and so link the victim's pain to blame," says Gray. "On the other hand, those distant from torture have no need to justify it and so can sympathize with the suffering of the victim, linking pain to innocence."

The study included 78 participants: half met the woman who was apparently tortured (actually a confederate of the experimenters who was, of course, not harmed at all), and half did not. Participants were told that the study was about moral behavior, and that the woman may have cheated by taking more money than she deserved. The experimenter suggested that a stressful situation might make a guilty person confess, so participants listened for a confession over a hidden intercom as she was subjected to the sham "torture."

Ignorance is Bli$$


Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid 'Burn in Hell' Video/Protest Competition Opens -- Prizes to be Awarded
Contact: Catherine Veritas, 904-687-9804; for Randall Terry, Founder, Operation Rescue;   
WASHINGTON, Oct. 26 /Christian Newswire/ --See video of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid "Burn in Hell" for putting child-killing in health care, instruction video on how to burn Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid "in hell," and rules for entering video competition of Pelosi and Reid "burning in hell."

Photo: Clip from Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid Burn in Hell Video
Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid Burn in Hell Video:
Instructions and Rules for Holding "Burn in Hell" Protest, Making "Burn in Hell" Video, and 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Place Prizes for "Burn in Hell" Video contestants:
Randall Terry states: "Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are like hardened criminals; they are bent on 'holding a gun' to American taxpayers, and stealing our money to force us to pay for the murder of babies under so-called 'health care.'
"So, in the spirit of American political protest and Halloween, we are opening a competition for creating a video of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid 'burning in hell' for their part in forcing us to pay for murder."
"Burn in Hell" Contest rules are as follows:
Join a Contest! Win Prizes!
Who Can make the best "Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid BURN IN HELL!" video?
First prize: Expenses paid for weekend here in DC during Roe vs Wade anniversary, Jan 22-24, including pro-life training seminar (Includes travel stipend!), and full Insurrecta Nex television series.
Second Prize: 2 Sets of Insurrecta Nex training series, and two sets of all books authored by Randall Terry. (One set for you, one for your Church.)
Third Prize: 1 Set Insurrecta Nex training series.
In addition, all Contestants will receive a free copy of episodes 1-4 of Insurrecta Nex.
Send link of your video by NOVEMBER 15, 2009 to:  
Legal Mumbo Jumbo: Obey local laws on open flames; be careful; if under 18, do not burn Nancy Pelosi in effigy unless your mom or dad is with you, and gives you permission, and strikes the match; do not burn yourself; do not burn another human being; do not burn small animals; do not burn large animals; do not burn anyone from PETA; and remember: this is not a threat to Nancy Pelosi's or Harry Reid's is a prophetic witness of what awaits them when they die if they do not repent for this horrific sin.

An Atheist's Review of the Book of Genesis Illustrated by a Legendary Comics Artist

By Greta Christina


It's true what they say. Sometimes, a picture really is worth a thousand words.

Especially when those pictures are drawn by Robert Crumb.

And especially when those words come from the Bible.

For those who haven't heard yet: Legendary comics artist Robert Crumb has just come out with his new book: The Book of Genesis, Illustrated by R. Crumb, a magnum opus, five years in the making, telling the complete, unedited book of Genesis in graphic novel form. And I'm finding it fascinating. It's masterfully illustrated, of course, Crumb being among the very best creators in this burgeoning literary form. And it's getting Genesis across to me, deep into my brain and my imagination, in a way that it had never quite gotten there before. 

Of course I've read Genesis. More than once. It's been a little while since I've read the whole thing all the way through, but it's not like it's unfamiliar. But there's something about seeing the story fleshed out in images to make some of its more striking narrative turns leap out and grab your brain by the root. There's nothing quite like seeing the two different creation stories enacted on the page to make you go, "Hey! That's right! Two completely different creation stories!" There's nothing quite like seeing Lot offer his daughters to be gang-raped to make you recoil in shock and moral horror. There's nothing quite like seeing the crazed dread and burning determination in Abraham's eyes as he prepares the sacrifice of his own son to make you feel the enormity of this act. Reading these stories in words conveys the ideas; seeing them in images conveys the visceral impact. It makes it all seem vividly, immediately, humanly real.

Now, that is something of a mixed blessing. Spending a few days with the characters in Genesis isn't the most relaxing literary vacation you'll ever take. Richard Dawkins wasn't kidding when he said, "The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction." The God character in Genesis is cruel, violent, callous, insecure, power-hungry, paranoid, hot-tempered, morally fickle... I could go on and on. And God's followers aren't much better. They lie, they scheme, they cheat one another, they conquer other villages with bloodthirsty imperialist glee, they kill at the drop of a hat. This isn't Beatrix Potter here. It's more like Dangerous Liaisons by way of Quentin Tarantino. With tents, sand, and sheep.

A Flowchart to Determine What Religion You Should Follow