currently

Posted: March 19th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Current Events | No Comments »

the usf library is a peice of shit. there are sketchy people, shitty computers and nothing but time.
to wait for the booking goal to be finished even though it is never to be finished but there is really nothing i can do about that now is there.
i just look and look for a better job and that is all i can hope to find because getting loans to go to this shitty library school is not an option but how can i pay for it being a waitress so i have to get a better job…so, not grad school but a better job…but then i would have a full time job, which would make grad school what much further away.
this school may not be bad, i don’t think it is, but this part of this library seems quite unequal to the environment FSU hosts.


Obama’s Education Choices

Posted: December 11th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Current Events | No Comments »

Obama’s "Way-to-Go, Brownie!" Moment?
by Greg Palast
I will not pick a bad Secretary of Education for the Huffington Post

Has Barack Obama forgotten, "Way-to-go, Brownie"? Michael Brown was that guy from the Arabian Horse Association appointed by George Bush to run the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Brownie, not knowing the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain from the south end of a horse, let New Orleans drown. Bush’s response was to give his buddy Brownie a "way to go!" thumbs up.

We thought Obama would go a very different way. You’d think the studious Senator from Illinois would avoid repeating the Bush regime’s horror show of unqualified appointments, of picking politicos over professionals.

But here we go again. Trial balloons lofted in the Washington Post suggest President-elect Obama is about to select Joel Klein as Secretary of Education. If not Klein, then draft-choice number two is Arne Duncan, Obama’s backyard basketball buddy in Chicago.

Say it ain’t so, President O.

Let’s begin with Joel Klein. Klein is a top notch anti-trust lawyer. What he isn’t is an educator. Klein is as qualified to run the Department of Education as Dick Cheney is to dance in Swan Lake. While I’ve never seen Cheney in a tutu, I have seen Klein fumble about the stage as Chancellor of the New York City school system.

Klein, who lacks even six minutes experience in the field, was handed management of New York’s schools by that political Jack-in-the-Box, Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The billionaire mayor is one of those businessmen-turned-politicians who think lawyers and speculators can make school districts operate like businesses.

Klein has indeed run city schools like a business – if the business is General Motors. Klein has flopped. Half the city’s kids don’t graduate.

Klein is out of control. Not knowing a damn thing about education, rather than rely on those who actually work in the field (only two of his two dozen deputies have degrees in education), Klein pays high-priced consultants to tell him what to do. He’s blown a third of a billion dollars on consultant "accountability" projects plus $80 million for an IBM computer data storage system that doesn’t work.

What the heck was the $80 million junk computer software for? Testing. Klein is test crazy. He has swallowed hook, line and sinker George Bush’s idea that testing students can replace teaching them. The madly expensive testing program and consultant-fee spree are paid for by yanking teachers from the classroom.

Ironically, though not surprisingly, test scores under Klein have flat-lined. Scores would have fallen lower, notes author Jane Hirschmann, but Klein "moved the cut line," that is, lowered the level required to pass. In other words, Klein cheats on the tests.

Nevertheless, media poobahs have fallen in love with Klein, especially Republican pundits. The New York Times’ David Brooks is championing Klein, hoping that media hype for Klein will push Obama to keep Bush schools policies in place, trumping the electorate’s choice for change.

Brooks and other Republicans (hey, didn’t those guys lose?) are pushing Klein as a way for Obama to prove he can reach across the aisle to Republicans like Bloomberg. (Oh yes, Bloomberg’s no longer in the GOP, having jumped from the party this year when the brand name went sour.)

Choosing Klein, says Brooks, would display Obama’s independence from the teacher’s union. But after years of Bush kicking teachers in the teeth, appointing a Bush acolyte like Klein would not indicate independence from teachers but their betrayal.

Hoops versus Hope

The anti-union establishment has a second stringer on the bench waiting in case Klein is nixed: Arne Duncan. Duncan, another lawyer playing at education, was appointed by Chicago’s Boss Daley to head that city’s train-wreck of a school system. Think of Duncan as "Klein Lite."

What’s Duncan’s connection to the President-elect? Duncan was once captain of Harvard’s basketball team and still plays backyard round-ball with his Hyde Park neighbor Obama.

But Michelle has put a limit on their friendship: Obama was one of the only state senators from Chicago to refuse to send his children into Duncan’s public schools. My information is that the Obamas sent their daughters to the elite Laboratory School where Klein-Duncan teach-to-the-test pedagogy is dismissed as damaging and nutty.

Mr. Obama, if you can’t trust your kids to Arne Duncan, why hand him ours?

Lawyer Duncan is proud to have raised test scores by firing every teacher in low-scoring schools. Which schools? There’s Collins High in the Lawndale ghetto with children from homeless shelters and drug-poisoned ‘hoods. They don’t do well on tests. So Chicago fired all the teachers. They brought in new ones – then fired all of them too: the teachers’ reward for volunteering to work in a poor neighborhood.

It’s no coincidence that the nation’s worst school systems are run by non-experts like Klein and Duncan.

Obama certainly knows this. I know he knows because he’s chosen, as head of his Education Department transition team, one of the most highly respected educators in the United States: Professor Linda Darling-Hammond of Stanford University.

So here we have the ludicrous scene of the President-elect asking this recognized authority, Dr. Darling-Hammond, to vet the qualifications of amateurs Klein and Duncan. It’s as if Obama were to ask Michael Jordan, "Say, you wouldn’t happen to know anyone who can play basketball, would you?"

Classroom Class War

It’s not just Klein’s and Duncan’s empty credentials which scare me: it’s the ill philosophy behind the Bush-brand education theories they promote. "Teach-to-the-test" (which goes under such pre-packaged teaching brands as "Success for All") forces teachers to limit classroom time to pounding in rote low-end skills, easily measured on standardized tests. The transparent purpose is to create the future class of worker-drones. Add in some computer training and – voila! – millions trained on the cheap to function, not think. Analytical thinking skills, creative skills, questioning skills will be left to the privileged at the Laboratory School and Phillips Andover Academy.

We hope for better from the daddy of Sasha and Malia.

Educationally, the world is swamping us. The economic and social levees are bursting. We cannot afford another Way-to-go Brownie in charge of rescuing our children.

****************
Greg Palast is the father of school-aged twins and the author of, "No Child’s Behind Left," included in his New York Times bestseller, Armed Madhouse. Palast is a Nation Institute Puffin Foundation Fellow for investigative reporting. Get a signed copy of Armed Madhouse for the holidays for a tax-deductible contribution to the Palast Investigative Fund at www.PalastInvestigativeFund.org

Subscribe to Palast’s reports at www.GregPalast.com


eat your eyes and minds out

Posted: December 5th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Current Events | No Comments »

Christina Hough
Daileader Final Paper

In this paper I will explore some of the themes in “Beloved” and relate them to the Chodorow and Rich reading. Also I will incorporate the thoughts of Friedrich Nietzsche and Colette Guillaumin. Due to patriarchy and the “naturalization” of mothering, women have been oppressed for what seems like all of recorded time. “Race” is naturalized the same way mothering is. The sexual division of labor oppresses women by confining them to the home and depreciating the work they do there; add race to that and you have instant slavery and further gender oppression, “Slaves not supposed to have pleasurable feelings on their own; their bodies not supposed to be like that, but they have to have as many children as they can to please whoever owned them” (Morrison 209). Black women, as slaves, were used as pure sexual reproduction machines so that the white slave owners could make more profit by producing more labor. Moral codes, or ethics, religions, and other social constructs, have been created to perpetuate patriarchy.
Christianity, along with it the institution of slavery and the institutionalization of mothering, facilitates an environment where patriarchy can thrive. Slaves were taught to obey god and god told them to obey their masters, thus, America has been home to some of the most calculated oppression. Morrison’s novel “Beloved” embodies the horror of slavery as well as gender oppression. Chodorow discusses how mothering plays a huge role in the sexual division of labor. The ability of woman to mother has been overlooked as inevitable and unchanging due to its naturalization. If a practice is seen as natural, how can it ever be fought against? Chodorow sums up the misunderstanding of man, “…what seems like universal is instinctual, and that what is instinctual, or has instinctual components, is inevitable and unchanging” (14). Human society has not always been patriarchal and the survival of humankind does not necessarily depend on female suppression and mothering, though that is what has been perpetuated throughout time. Nietzsche regarding false debt, “Here the conviction holds sway that it is only through the sacrifices and achievements of the ancestors that the clan exists at all…” (60).
In claiming that mothering is natural in women, it could follow that it has always been that way and it therefore is necessary to the survival of mankind. The naturalization of a racial hierarchy, as well as women as mother woman, can be seen in the way a society organizes new members; Guillaumin points out, “whites bear whites and blacks bear blacks, that the former are the masters and the latter the slaves, that the masters bear masters and the slaves slaves…”(Race and Nature 84). “Beloved” shows the same social organization, “…met four families of slaves who had all been together for a hundred years: great-grands, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, cousins, children. Half white, part white, all black, mixed with Indian” (219). These measures were taken as an attempt on the part of white man to justify oppression. With the spread of capitalism and industrialization the home ceased to be a place of production, therefore women’s role in the home became centered on taking care of men and childcare (Chodorow 5).
Both the institution of slavery and the institutionalization of motherhood exist under patriarchy. Rich points out, “The experience of maternity and the experience of sexuality have both been channeled to serve male interests; behavior which threatens the institutions, such as illegitimacy, abortion, lesbianism, is considered deviant or criminal” (42). These issues are still prevalent today. Heterosexual marriage, by most, is still looked at as the only way to be legally married. A child born out of wedlock is called a bastard. Abortion, though existent now, could one day no longer be an option for women. Women are criminalized in the law, society, and religion of American culture. Women of the past were hardly educated and kept as the sexual and private reproductive tools of man. Women were not allowed to learn how to think critically for themselves because if a woman was able to do this then she would have a chance against the patriarch. They wanted to keep women unquestioning and unintelligible so that dominance would not be a struggle. Either black or white, women were slaves for man, endlessly popping out babies for him to populate the earth and perpetuate his horrible paradigm.
Nietzsche states in “On the Genealogy of Morality”, “[H]umanity also inherited, along with the deities of the clan and tribe, the pressure of the still unpaid debts and of the longing for the redemption of the same” (61). Within slavery, the noble classes, white people, pass down paradigms and gods which the slaves, especially those born into slavery, are made to feel and act in such a way that shows them to be indebted to the ancestors of the whites. Slavery had a lot to do with Christian faith and in turn Nietzsche also states, “…indeed the prospect cannot be dismissed that the perfect and final victory of atheism might free humanity from this entire feelings of having debts to its beginnings, its casa prima” (62). Women, in the role placed upon them by man, mothering, have been forced to pay for some notion of debt to the origins of human kind.
In The “Sacred” Calling, Rich states, “The mother bears the weight of Eve’s transgression (is, thus, the first offender, the polluted one, the polluter) yet precisely because of this she is expected to carry the burden of male salvation” (45). Nietzsche and Chodorow have a lot in common regarding their opinions on how society has been broken up and for what reasons. Chodorow states, “…the relations of material production, and the extended pubic and political ties and associations- the state, finally- which these relations make possible, dominate and define family relations- the sphere of human reproductions”(Why Women Mother 12). Nietzsche, in On the Genealogy of Morality claims, “… “state” accordingly made its appearance as a terrible tyranny, as a crushing and ruthless machinery, and continued to work until finally such a raw material of people and half-animals was not only thoroughly kneaded and pliable but also formed”(58). Thus, patriarchy aligned with the state creating a system of rules for all to live by. It is a creation of a hierarchy that puts white man at top. Naturalization works a bit like Christian faith; it is self-affirming and based on complete lack of evidence.
Rich, in Anger and Tenderness, discusses how she was forced by society to perform a role, or an act, for which she was not suited (21). This perhaps, is where white middle-class suffering and African American slave suffering can come together; both white and black women were expected to breed, be nurturing mothers, regardless of personal desire. Where a white women feels her body taken over and used for man’s purposes, so too had slaves’ bodies been raped and controlled under the patriarchal force. A woman cannot be expected to automatically and unconditionally love a child that was brought to fruition by a rapist. Whether through rape or through social constructs, a woman told she is only a woman if she is a mother-woman, has the potential to destroy any woman. Rich in The “Sacred Calling” discusses women in 1915 Britain; Sethe acts as these women have done, “…for in a working class home if there is saving to be done, it is not the husband and children, but the mother who makes her meal off the scraps which remain over, or ‘play with meatless bones’”(50). Sethe’s health declines while Beloved continues to grow stronger. Sethe takes less and less so Beloved can have all she wants.
In Morrison’s novel, “Beloved”, the child comes back to haunt the Sethe. Beloved, like the children in Rich’s Anger and Tenderness, need the constant devotion of the mother. The mother is not allowed to have her own world separate from her biological functioning. In the world of patriarchy it is only about what man wants; Rich claims, “I had no idea of what I wanted, what I could or could not choose” (25). In “Beloved” Sethe’s mother was repeatedly raped by men and in turn disposed of multiple babies. This shows that mothering in all women is not natural, and should not be forced upon them. The raping of women into motherhood creates a tension between the baby and the mother; black women raped would understandingly object to the new life, “She threw them all away but you. The one from the crew she threw away on the island. The others from more whites she also threw away. Without names, she threw them” (Morrison 62). The collective unquenched need of the infant inside the institution of slavery is represented in Beloved. In slavery, the master wanted his slaves to breed in order to generate more slaves; more slaves equals more labor which equals more profit for the white land owners.
Beloved can been seen as an archetype of infant resentment of the mother due to her falling short of her duties. Women forced into motherhood create children that will continue to turn away from the maternal during socialization thus turning away from women as a whole. This is a consequence of the naturalization of women as strictly reproductive beings rather than primarily human beings. When Sethe kills Beloved as an infant she does it out of protection, though, her actions relate to Rich’s comment, “Mother-love is supposed to be continuous, unconditional. Love and anger cannot coexist. Female anger threatens the institution of motherhood” (46).

Works Cited

Guillaumin, Colette. “Race and Nature: The System of Marks.” French Feminism Reader. Ed. Kelly Oliver. USA: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, INC., 2000. 84.
Morrison, Toni. Beloved. New York: Plume, 1988. 62, 209, 219.
Nietzsche, Friedrich. On the Genealogy of Morality. USA: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 1998. 58, 60, 61, 62.
Motherhood Readings: Chodorow 5, 12, 14 and Rich 21, 25, 42, 45, 46, 50.


Hilarious and Disturbing: far right on Obama

Posted: November 13th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Current Events | No Comments »

Just how I like it. THEY SAID THAT OBAMA NEEDS TO IMPROVE IN ORDER TO LIVE UP TO BUSH’S ORATORY SKILLS!!!!! WHHHHHAAAAATTT!!!!

Here is a link so that you can link to the articles cited. I would read it there.

http://www.alternet.org/blogs/election08/#106926

Scary: The Far-Right’s Crazy Attacks on Obama Are Just Getting Started

Posted by Bob Cesca, Huffington Post at 8:20 AM on November 13, 2008.

What doesn’t kill the far-right only makes them crazier.

For the last eight years, we’ve observed Karl Rove’s non-reality based universe in which logic was entirely abandoned in lieu of whatever reality the administration invented in order to serve its ridiculous policies and to mask its glaring nincompoopery. Intellectually dishonest at best — destructive and criminal at worst.

This didn’t end on Election Day.

Since their thumpin’ last week, the far-right has pushed the crazy to eleven and snapped the knob clean off — an opening salvo of twisted hackery portending an insane four-to-eight years of attacks on the Obama administration. If the last seven days have been any indication, the far-right is shaping up to make the 1990s seem quaint — even erudite by comparison. That which used to be your basic, off-the-shelf intellectual dishonesty has grown into, as Digby pointed out recently, full-on intellectual violence.

Intellectual violence. While not a new term, it perfectly defines what we’re seeing now: accusations and smears that so severely confound logic they literally attack — violate — reality and the human intellect. It’s like a berzerker dervish of argumentative elbows and fists indiscriminately flailing around, thwacking anything in its orbit, so much so that constructing a counterpoint is literally painful, "Why the hell am I trying to debunk this?! Ow! My head. Aw hell, I need a drink."

The "Impeach Obama" Facebook groups, for example. No, I’m not making that up. They’re real and there’s a constant variety of disgruntled far-right Republicans joining up every day. And, to our total lack of surprise, they’re not ashamed in the slightest to post comments like this one:

"Damn dems stole the election like they always do. GOD wanted McCain and Palin in the White House. That’s why it’s called THE WHITE HOUSE."

Apart from being a racist, this "Impeach Obama" Facebook member is clearly the most awesome pollster in the world if he was able to sample God. I tried to submit a friend request just so I could ask him if he perchance enlisted a room of undecided cherubim for a Frank Luntz dial group.

Shortly after discovering this, I was talking with a colleague and found myself instinctively trying to form a rational argument about why the Facebook members were wrong. It began with the obvious: "He’s not even the president yet!" And then, after I segued into Article II and the constitutional grounds for impeachment, I stopped myself. What in name of Randall P. MacMurphy am I doing? Arguing against this crap is like explaining to a meth tweaker that the shadow people aren’t real. That’s when I decided that it’d be more fun to just infiltrate one of the groups and post comments like, "The moon landing was staged!" and, "Obama is a bionic — just like his half-aunt! I have proof!"

Then on Monday, Michelle Malkin posted an item in which she referred to the president-elect as the "overlord-elect." And on Tuesday, Congressman Paul Broun told the AP, "You have to remember that Adolf Hitler was elected in a democratic Germany. I’m not comparing him to Adolf Hitler. What I’m saying is there is the potential." Uh-huh. On the scale of probability, "Obama is a fascist dictator" is about as likely as "Broun is a Jedi Master." But it doesn’t matter. Reality is irrelevant.

The obvious intention here is to cobble together an abuse of power meme against President-elect Obama, despite President Bush and Vice President Cheney having, you know, spent the last eight years consolidating executive power, authorizing torture, suspending habeas corpus, illegally invading sovereign nations, ignoring congressional subpoenas and eavesdropping on American citizens.

Whoops. There I go again, talking about facts and treating the crazy like it’s real.

But clearly the most egregious post-election trespass came to us from John Hinderaker of Powerline. Some back story: following the president-elect’s lighthearted Nancy Reagan séance remark, Michelle Malkin referred to Obama as a "classless jerk" (unlike President George W. "Those Weapons Have to Be Around Here Somewhere" Bush, of course). And she treated the séance comment as if it were part of an on-going pattern of ridiculous Obama gaffes and bloopers.

Picking up on Malkin’s lead, Hinderaker wrote this week:

Bush never gets sloppy when he is speaking publicly. He chooses his words with care and precision, which is why his style sometimes seems halting. In the eight years he has been President, it is remarkable how few gaffes or verbal blunders he has committed. If Obama doesn’t raise his standards, he will exceed Bush’s total before he is inaugurated.

No, seriously. I didn’t make that up. A popular member of the far-right intertubes actually wrote that. On a public website. That people go to and read. Every day.

Come on now. Fess up, Hinderaker, you can’t seriously believe all that. I mean, I didn’t think it was possible, but you succeeded in making Malkin’s "classless jerk" remarks appear respectable — even reasonable — by comparison. Fact: not only is the president-elect one of the finest orators in modern political history, but he far exceeds President Bush in terms of intellectualism and verbal discipline. In other words, a Bush gaffe reveals an inherent lack of intellectual curiosity and a general ineptitude when it comes to, well, talking. An Obama gaffe is an isolated incident, exclusive of his ability to speak, think and reason. Nothing more.

I can’t believe I even have to write that down. But that’s precisely what makes these arguments so violent. They literally crush logical reality, making it almost impossible to ignore.

In a perfect world, we probably shouldn’t react or to take these things too seriously, and yet we’d be making a huge mistake to ignore them altogether — or to underestimate their efficacy. After all, there’s Drudge who somehow remains a bridge between the far-right’s intellectual violence and the establishment press. As we’ve learned throughout the last ten years, it only takes some persistent badgering and a series of red "SHOCK!" headlines for the crazy to travel by osmosis into the mainstream.

So we’re in for many more years of insanity from the far-right. They’re not dead. They’re not as irrelevant as they deserve to be. And they certainly don’t suffer from writer’s block when it comes to outlandish and illogical attacks and smears.

Put it this way, if President-elect Obama so much as takes a long weekend off this August, you can bet that the far-right will crap their cages about Obama being lazy and shiftless.

AlterNet is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed by its writers are their own.

BobCesca.com

Order my new book: One Nation Under Fear, with a foreword by Arianna Huffington. Also available in stores.


Beijing police are crazy! labor camps?!

Posted: August 21st, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Current Events | 1 Comment »

make sure you read the paragraph about little old ladies being sent to labor camps.

Police detain more foreign activists in Beijing

By AUDRA ANG, Associated Press Writer Thu Aug 21, 5:25 AM ET

BEIJING – Swarms of plainclothes police took away four foreign activists who tried to unfurl a Tibetan flag outside the main Olympics venue on Thursday, squelching the latest attempt to demonstrate during the Beijing Games.
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Police seized the activists protesting Chinese rule in Tibet as they unfurled the flag and shouted "Free Tibet" south of the National Stadium, the New York-based Students for a Free Tibet said.

The group put the number of police at 50. A spokeswoman for the Beijing Public Security Bureau declined comment.

"The fact that there were so many undercover police following them just made them go with the action urgently," said Kate Woznow, the group’s campaigns director.

Two Associated Press photographers were roughed up by plainclothes security officers, forced into cars and taken to a nearby building where they were questioned before being released. Memory cards from their cameras were confiscated.

The four activists were identified by Students for a Free Tibet as Tibetan-German Florien Norbu Gyanatshang, 30; Mandie McKeown, 41, of Britain; and Americans Jeremy Wells, 38 and John Watterberg, 30.

The whereabouts of the activists was not known. Other foreigners from the group who have staged demonstrations before and during the games have been quickly deported from China.

The detentions came a day after authorities warned two elderly Chinese women who applied to protest the loss of their homes during the games that they would be sent to a labor camp for a year.

The rough treatment and intimidation being meted out underscores authorities’ determination to prevent any disruption during the games, despite Olympics organizers saying last month that demonstrations would be allowed in designated areas.

Beijing has used the existence of the protest areas as a way to defend its promise to improve human rights in China that was crucial to its bid to win the games. Some 77 applications were lodged to hold protests, none went ahead.

Rights groups say the zones were just a way for the government to put on an appearance of complying with international standards. A handful who sought a permit to demonstrate was taken away by security officials, rights groups said.

The re-education system, in place since 1957, allows police to sidestep the need for a criminal trial or a formal charge and directly send people to prison for up to four years to perform penal labor.

Critics say it is misused to detain political or religious activists, and violates rights.


Bicycle Safety in Tallahassee after Trey’s death

Posted: August 21st, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Current Events | No Comments »

visit this site to send a letter to our representatives about making tally more bike/walk friendly

http://citizenspeak.org/node/1334 bilde.jpg


The real story of Russia’s attack on Georgia

Posted: August 20th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Current Events | No Comments »

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bernardhenri-levy/georgia-at-war-what-i-saw_b_120076.html

The first thing that strikes me as soon as we are out of Tbilisi is the strange absence of military force. I had read that the Georgian army, defeated in Ossetia, then routed in Gori, had withdrawn to the capital to defend it. I reach the outskirts of the city, moving forty kilometers on the highway that slices through the country from east to west. But I see almost no trace of the army which has supposedly regrouped in order to fiercely resist the Russian invasion. Here we see a police station. A little farther on, a handful of soldiers, their uniforms still too new. But no combat units. No anti-aircraft weaponry. Not even the trenches and zigzagging fortifications which, in all the besieged cities of the world, are set up to at least slightly impede the enemy’s advance. A dispatch received while we are driving announces that Russian tanks are now approaching the capital. The information is relayed by various radio stations and then finally denied, creating unspeakable chaos and making the few cars which had ventured outside the city turn back immediately. But the authorities, the powers that be, seem strangely to have given up.

Is the Georgian army there, but hiding? Ready to intervene but also invisible? Are we perhaps in the middle of one of those wars in which the supreme ruse is to let yourself be seen as little as possible, the way they did in the forgotten wars of Africa? Or has President Saakashvili deliberately chosen non-combat as a way to force us, the Europeans and Americans, to accept our responsibilities ("You claim to be our friends? You have said a hundred times that with our democratic institutions, our wish to become part of Europe, our government composed of — unique in the annals of history – an Anglo-Georgian Prime Minister, American-Georgian cabinet ministers, an Israelo-Georgian Minister of Defense – is the first in its Western class? Well, now is the time to step up and prove it."). I don’t know. The fact is that the first significant military presence we run into is a long Russian convoy, at least one hundred vehicles long, headed in the direction of Tbilisi, casually waiting to get gas. Then, forty kilometers outside the city, around Okami, we see a battalion, as usual Russian, attached to a unit of armored vehicles whose role is to stop journalists from going one direction and refugees from going the other.

One of them, a peasant, wounded in the forehead, still dazed and terrified, tells me the story of fleeing his village in Ossetia on foot, three days ago. The Russians arrived, and in their wake, Cossack and Ossetian gangs pillaged, raped and murdered. As they did in Chechnya, they rounded up the young men and drove them away in trucks, to unknown destinations. Fathers were killed in front of their sons. Sons were killed in front of their fathers. In the basement of a house which they blew up with propane cylinders they had collected, they came upon a family and stripped them of everything they had tried to hide and then forced the adults to kneel down and executed them with a single shot to the head. The Russian officer in charge at the check point listens to the story. But he doesn’t care. In any case he looks like he has been drinking too much and he just doesn’t care. For him, the war is over. No scrap of paper, a ceasefire, a five or six-point agreement- will change his victory. And this pathetic refugee can say whatever he wants.

II

As we approach Gori, the situation is different, the tension is suddenly palpable. Georgian jeeps are sprawled in the ditches on the sides of the road. Farther along is a burnt-out tank. Even farther along is a more important check point which completely blocks the group of journalists we have joined. And it is here that we are clearly told that we are no longer welcome, "You are in Russian territory now," barks an officer puffed up with importance. "Only those with Russian accreditation may go farther." Fortunately a car with diplomatic flags comes up. It belongs to the Estonian Ambassador, and is carrying the Ambassador and Alexander Lomaia, the Secretary of Georgia’s National Security Council, who is authorized to go behind the Russian lines to look for the wounded. He agrees to take me with him, as well as the European deputy Marie-Anne Isler-Béguin and Tara Bahrampour from the Washington Post. "I cannot guarantee anyone’s safety, is that clear?" Lomaia asks. Yes. It is clear. And we all pile into the Audi and head toward Gori.

After crossing through six new check points, one of which consists of a tree trunk hoisted up and down by a winch commanded by a group of paramilitaries, we arrive in Gori. We are not in the center of the city. But from where Lomaia has dropped us, before taking off in the Audi to collect his wounded, from this intersection dominated by an enormous tank as big as a rolling bunker, we can see fires burning everywhere. Rockets lighting up the sky at regular intervals, followed by short detonations. The emptiness. The slight odor of putrefaction and death. Most of all, the incessant rumbling of armored vehicles. Almost every other car is an unmarked car jammed with militia, recognizable because of their white armbands and their headbands. Gori does not belong to the Ossetia which the Russians claim they have come to "liberate." It is a Georgian town. And they have burned it down, pillaged it, reduced it to a ghost town. Emptied.

"It’s logical," explains General Vyachislav Borisov, as we stand in the stench and the night waiting for Lomaia to return. "We are here because the Georgians are incompetent, because their administration collapsed and the town was being looted. Look at this," showing me on his cell phone photographs of weapons of Israeli origin, which he emphasizes heavily, "Do you think we could leave all this lying around without supervision? And let me tell you," he struts around, striking a match to light a cigarette, startling the little blond tank gunner who had fallen asleep in his turret, "We summoned the Israeli Foreign Minister to Moscow. And he was told that if he continues to supply arms to the Georgians we would continue to supply Hezbollah and Hamas." We would continue? What an admission! Two hours go by. Two hours of bragging and threats. Sometimes a passing car would slow, but it would change its mind after noticing the tank and speed off. Finally Lomaia came back, bringing with him an old woman and the pregnant woman he had pulled from hell, and asked us to take them back to Tbilisi.

III
President Saakashvili, accompanied by his counselor Daniel Kunnin, listens to my story. We are in the Presidential residence of Avlabari. It is two AM but the noria of his counselors is working as it would during business hours. He is young. Very young. With a youthfulness which can be seen in the impatience of his movements, the intensity of his gaze, his abrupt laughter, even the way he guzzles cans of Red Bull as if it were Coca-Cola. All of these people in fact are very young. All these ministers and counselors were students sponsored by various Soros-type foundations, whose studies at Yale, Princeton and Chicago were interrupted by the Rose Revolution. He is a francophile and speaks French. Keen on philosophy. A democrat. A European. A liberal in both the American and European senses of the word. Of all the great resistance fighters I have met in my life, of all the Massouds and Izetbegovics I have had occasion to defend, he is the one who is the most unfamiliar with war, its rites, its emblems, its culture – but he is dealing with it.

"Let me make one thing clear," he interrupts me, with a sudden gravity. "We cannot let them say that we started this war … It was early August. My ministers were on vacation, as I was too, in Italy, at a weight-loss spa, getting ready to go to Beijing. Then in the Italian press I read, "War preparations are under way in Georgia." You understand me. Here I was just hanging out in Italy and I read in the paper that my own country is preparing for a war! Realizing that something was wrong, I rushed back to Tbilisi. And what did my intelligence services tell me?" He makes the face of someone who has posed a difficult riddle and is waiting for you to find the answer, "That the Russians at the exact moment they are showering the press corps with this garbage are also emptying Shrinvali of its inhabitants, they’re massing troops and troop transports, positioning fuel trucks on Georgian soil, and finally, sending columns of tanks through the Roky tunnel which separates the two Ossetias. Now, suppose you are the leader of the country and you hear this, what do you do?" He gets up to answer two cell phones which are ringing at the same time on his desk, comes back, stretching out his long legs … "After the hundred and fiftieth tank lines itself up facing your cities, you are forced to admit that the war has begun, and despite the disproportion in the forces opposing us, you no longer have a choice."

"With the agreement of your allies?" I asked. "With the members of NATO who have more or less slammed the door in your face?" "The real problem," he says, sidestepping, "is the stakes involved in this war. Putin and Medvedev were looking for a pretext to invade. Why?" He begins counting on his fingers, "Number one, we are a democracy and incarnate an alternative to Putinism as an exit from communism. Two, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan [oil] pipeline goes through our country, such that if we fall, if Moscow replaces me with an employee of Gazprom, you, the Europeans, would be 100% dependent on the Russians for your energy supply. "And number three," as he takes a peach from the fruit basket which is brought to him by his assistant–"She’s Ossentian, mind you!"–and then resumes, "Number three, look at the map. Russia is an ally of Iran. Our Armenian neighbors are also not far from Iran. Now imagine a pro-Russian government installed in Tbilisi. You would have a geostrategic continuum stretching from Moscow to Tehran which I seriously doubt would be doing business with the free world. I hope NATO understands this."

IV

Friday morning. I, along with Raphaël Gluksmann, Gilles Hertzog and Marie-Anne Isler-Béguin, the European deputy, decided to return to Gori which, according to the ceasefire agreement written by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, the Russians would have begun evacuating, and where we are supposed to meet with the Orthodox Patriarch of Tbilisi who is himself on his way to an Ossetian village where hundreds of Georgian corpses have reportedly been left for the dogs and pigs. But the Patriarch is nowhere to be found. And the Russians have not evacuated Gori. And this time we are blocked twenty kilometers short of Gori when a car is held up in front of us by a squadron of irregulars, who, under the placid gaze of a Russian officer, haul the journalists out of the car and take their cameras, money, personal objects, and finally even their car. So it was a false report, part of that habitual ballet of false reports at which the artisans of Russian propaganda seem to be past masters. So off we go toward Kaspi, halfway between Gori and Tbilisi, where the interpreter for the deputy has family, and where the situation is in theory calmer – but two other surprises await us there.

First, there is the destruction. Here too. But this time it is destruction which has apparently targeted neither houses nor people. What have they destroyed instead? The bridge. The train station. The train tracks, which are already being repaired by a team of logisticians who are being supervised by the head mechanic from his room because of a severe hip wound. And the electronic command system of the Heidelberg cement factory, built with German capital, which was hit by a laser-guided missile. "There were 650 workers here," the factory director, Levan Baramatze, tells me. "Only 120 were able to come in today. Our production machine is broken." In Poti, the Russians sank the Georgian war ships. They even hit the BTC pipeline at three different points. Here in Kaspi, they deliberately took out the vital centers upon which the region and the country both depend. In other words, targeted terrorism. The will to bring this country to its knees.

Then there is the second surprise, the tanks. I repeat, we are standing at the outskirts of the capital. Condoleezza Rice is at this exact moment giving her press conference. Yet out of the blue comes one of those combats helicopters whose appearance always signals the worst, flying at low altitude just above the treetops. And suddenly the few people still in Kaspi find themselves in the street, first in their own doorways, then jammed ten at a time into old Lada cars, screaming at everyone and especially at our drivers that the Russians are coming and we must get out. At first we don’t believe it. We figure it’s like the false rumor we heard the day before yesterday. But no, the tanks are there. Five of them. And a field engineering unit digging trenches. The message is clear. With or without Condoleezza Rice, the Russians have moved in. They move around Georgian lands as if it were conquered terrain. This isn’t exactly like Prague in 1968, it’s the 21st century version of the coup, slow, bit by bit, with blows of humiliation, intimidation, panic.

V

This time the meeting is at four AM. Saakashvili has spent the end of the day with Rice, the day before with Sarkozy. He is grateful to both for their efforts, for the trouble they took and the friendship they demonstrated, which no one can doubt – didn’t he call "Nicolas" "tu"? And the Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain, "close to Ms. Rice," – hasn’t he been calling three times a day since the beginning of this crisis? But this time, I find he has a melancholy air unlike that first night. Maybe it’s fatigue, so many sleepless nights, the continuing setbacks, the grumbling which he can feel rising in the country and which we, alas, must to confirm: "What if Misha is incapable of protecting us? And if our ebullient young President only attracts more of the same? What if in order to survive we will have to accept the wishes of Putin and his puppet?" All of that must figure in the melancholy of the President. Plus something else on top of it, something cloudier and that applies to how to say, his friends’ strange attitude.

For example, the ceasefire agreement which his friend Sarkozy brought and which had been written by four hands in Moscow with Medvedev. He recalls the French President, here in this same office, impatient for him to sign it, raising his voice, almost yelling, "You have no other choice, Misha. Be realistic, you don’t have a choice. When the Russians come to overthrow you, not one of your friends will lift a finger to save you." And finally what a strange reaction when he, Misha Saakashvili, got them to call Medvedev but Medvedev sent word that he was asleep – it was only nine o’clock, but apparently he was already asleep, and would be unreachable until the following morning at 9 AM – here the French President got antsy again; his French yet again didn’t want to wait–in a rush to go home? too sure that signing was what mattered, regardless of what was being signed? This is not how you negotiate, thinks Misha. This is also not how you act with your friends.

I have seen the document. I have seen the written annotations by the two Presidents, the Georgian and the French. I saw the second document, again signed by Sarkozy and given to Condoleeza Rice in Brégançon, for her to give to Saakashvili. And finally I saw the memorandum of remarks, written during the evening by the Georgians, a vital piece in their eyes. They managed to cross out – and this is by no means negligible – all allusions to the future "status" of Ossetia. They also got it to be specified – again, not a small detail – that the "reasonable perimeter" in which the Russian troups would be authorized to patrol to protect the security of the Russian-speaking population of Georgia be a perimeter of a "few kilometers." The territorial integrity of Georgia, however, is mentioned nowhere in either document. As for the argument of legitimate aid for the Russian-speaking people – we tremble to think what could happen if we consider the Russian-speakers in the Ukraine, the Baltic countries or in Poland, who may one day decide that they too have been threatened by a "genocidal" will.

The last word will belong to the American Richard Holbrooke, a ranking diplomat close to Barack Obama whom I meet in the bar of our hotel at the tail end of the night: "There is floating in this affair a bad smell of appeasement." He is right. Either we are capable of raising our voice and saying STOP to Putin in Georgia. Or the man who went, in his own words, "down into the toilets" to kill the civilians in Chechnya will feel he has the right to do the same thing to any one of his neighbors.

Is this how we will build Europe, peace and the world of tomorrow?

Translated from the French by Sara Sugihara

Russia Georgia War

Bernard-Henri Levy
Georgia At War: What I Saw


Few Corporations Pay Taxes, Says GAO

Posted: August 20th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Current Events | 2 Comments »

FINALLY they’re fucking looking at this. as you all may know from the great documentary The Corporation, they use the SHIT out of our infrastructure but don’t want to pay taxes to maintain it. Grrr. I wish it would list some of the companies so we wouldn’t shop there anymore…I’m sure it’s the same old evil Walmart Nike blah blah.

Most Corporations Don’t Pay Income Taxes

Tuesday 12 August 2008

by: Richard Rubin, Congressional Quarterly

Most corporations, including the vast majority of foreign companies doing business in the United States, pay no income taxes, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Tuesday.

During the eight-year period covered by the report, 72 percent of foreign-owned corporations went at least one year without owing taxes, and the same was true for 55 percent of domestic corporations.

Small companies were much more likely to pay no taxes than larger companies. Still, more than 3,500 large domestic corporations – with more than $250 million in assets or $50 million in gross receipts – did not pay taxes in 2005.

The report said about 80 percent of the companies studied paid no taxes because they didn’t generate any profit after expenses. Money-losing companies can legitimately owe no tax, and others can use provisions of the tax code to lower or eliminate their liability.

But the lawmakers who sought the data seized on the report as proof of corporate gamesmanship.

"It’s shameful that so many corporations make big profits and pay nothing to support our country," said Byron L. Dorgan , D-N.D., who requested the report along with Carl Levin , D-Mich. "The tax system that allows this wholesale tax avoidance is an embarrassment and unfair to hardworking Americans who pay their fair share of taxes. We need to plug these tax loopholes and put these corporations back on the tax rolls."

The report covered the period from 1998 through 2005. During that time, corporate income taxes as a share of gross domestic product dipped, from 2.2 percent in 1998 to 1.2 percent in 2003, the lowest share since 1983. But receipts jumped after that, hitting 2.7 percent in 2006 and 2007, according to the Office of Management and Budget. That was the highest share since the late 1970s.

The GAO report also found that foreign-owned corporations were somewhat more likely to report no income than domestic corporations. There are several possible reasons for that. Foreign corporations may be younger, and startups are more likely to have no net income after expenses. They may also be in industries with lower profit margins.

Another possibility could be the use of transfer pricing, which companies use to account for transactions between subsidiaries in different countries. Creative, rule-stretching use of transfer pricing can allow companies to push their profits into lower-taxed jurisdictions. The report does not attempt to examine whether illegal transfer-pricing caused the difference between foreign and domestic companies.

But companies looking for lower-taxed jurisdictions often take profits out of the United States. The country’s 35 percent top rate on corporate income is among the highest in the industrialized world.

Many tax experts and lawmakers from both parties, including Ways and Means Chairman Charles B. Rangel , D-N.Y., and presidential candidate Sen. John McCain , R-Ariz., have called for lowering the corporate tax rate. Lawmakers are likely to differ on what revenue-raising measures, if any, should be paired with a corporate rate cut.

In addition, Levin, Finance Chairman Max Baucus , D-Mont., and other senators have been trying to close the "tax gap," the difference between taxes owed and taxes collected.

In a statement, Baucus said, "I’m committed to finding ways to improve compliance and reduce taxpayer burden so that we begin to bridge the tax gap, which accounts for $345 billion in legally owed but uncollected federal revenues each year."

He said the GAO report "shows yet again the need for full-fledged [tax] reform next year…."

"We are constantly reviewing the tax code to find ways to crack down on those who are trying to avoid paying their fair share, without placing undue compliance or reporting burdens on honest taxpayers. As part of this on-going effort, we are reviewing the GAO report to see what it might suggest about where to target tax gap efforts," Baucus said.


Waxman Smacks Down DOD Covering up Rapes

Posted: August 6th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Current Events | 2 Comments »

oh, SNAP, son! i want to have all his babies.

http://thinkprogress.org/2008/08/01/dod-defies-subpoena/

here’s a really good overview.

http://www.alternet.org/blogs/peek/94037/the_pentagon%E2%80%99s_shameful_record_on_rape/

If you haven’t heard about Lavena Johnson, well, that’s what they were going for. No one knowing. Follow the links in above articles to read about her case. Let me just say, there was acid poured in her vagina to destroy forensic evidence, and yet the DOD continues to pretend that she shot herself in the head. After pouring acid on her vagina? Fuck you, DOD.


Picturing Casualties. caution: sad.

Posted: August 6th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Current Events | No Comments »

article http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/26/world/middleeast/26censor.html

and photos http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2008/07/25/world/middleeast/20080726_CENSOR2_2.html

There are some here from Iraq. The times points out that many photographers who published pictures were banned from working with the military again. The slide show then goes through WWII and Vietnam, telling how different it was then, when pictures could actually be published and little americans on their isolated continent could see the consequences of their leaders’ actions (and inactions, helllloooo democratic congress).

Apparently they did learn one thing from Vietnam.

Here is the website of one of the humanitarian photographers mentioned, Zoriah Miller.

Maybe I want to be a war photographer. I’ve always been interested in ‘compassionate photography,’ exemplified by Margaret Bourke-White and others who took photos during the Depression and whatnot, in really impoverished communities around the world. 26censor.jpg