Monday, December 14, 2009

Could Reagan read the signs on the road to peace?

In October of 1982, only a relatively short time after Israel's invasion of Lebanon in June, President Ronald Reagan and U.S. officials held a conference with delegations from the Arab League, a political organization that claims in its charter to “promote sovereignty and independence”1 of its member states, and Palestine under a “special circumstance” since its “outward signs of independence” had been seen as “veiled” at the time of its admittance in 1945.
Reagan called his meeting with King Hassan, the head of the League, "an important milestone along the road toward a... just and lasting peace in the Middle East." He said that the "mutual goal of peace and the road to it lies through a negotiating process," meaning one of the Arab League delegation and U.S. and Israeli representatives, and described his meeting with King Hassan as one representing “good will, understanding, and mutual respect.” He held up United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, King Hassan's personal vision, and the Arab League Delegation's "decisions at the Fez conference," also called the Twelfth Arab Summit Conference, as answers to the question of how to achieve peace.
Any person's opinion may shed light on the situation, but who is to say if their ideas are always necessarily applicable and to be taken as completely matured plans of action? It's all very nice to gush about “justice” and “security”and brag about your best friend's idea of creating and supporting these powerhouses of repression that we call states, that we include in our wonderful phrase, “two-state solution” while you hold up pieces of paper called resolutions. But neither party has a reputation for being very resolute at all about peace. Did the astoundingly immense Grand ol' Party blood-transfusion in American foreign policy give him a vision of the future to bring an end to these nationalistic squabbles? Or was he a false prophet and a fool?
To know this, we must start by asking one question: Did he make good on his pledge to try to bring the conflict closer to a resolution (or at least his conception of it) by increasing security in Arab states and Israel, and a sense of identity for the Palestinian people? In other words, did he pursue these objectives "rigorously, thoughtfully, and with close consultation with all [there]" as he promised?
Starting with Security Council Resolution 242 which was put into effect in 1967, Reagan has already betrayed one of his values: understanding. The Resolution, labeled aptly by Georgetown University scholars as “a case study in diplomatic ambiguity,”2 called for “[w]ithdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict” and stated the Security Council's decision was to be that negotiations should take place along with a cease fire. All parties seemed to agree that the “recent conflict” referred to the Six Day War, however, questions were raised as to what other parts of the text meant; the resolution ended up having several interpretations.
The Resolution was rejected originally by members of the Syrian government, who later accepted it, interpreting it to mean unilateral withdrawal,3 as did the Palestinian Liberation Organization,4 a member of the Arab League representing the Palestinian people.
. The official Israeli interpretation is virtually identical to one that was recommended by U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger: that the Resolution was not to mean a unilateral withdrawal but one based off of a negotiation process.5 It cites the lack of the word “all” before the word “territories.”
The similarity between the opinion of Israel and the U.S., is likely due to a fateful conversation between the Israeli Prime Minister, Golda Meir, and U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in 1973 the day before she was to meet in front of the official Israeli parliament, the Knesset, to discuss the Resolution. She asked Kissinger what the word “negotiations” meant without the word “direct” in front of it, and asked for clarification on the entire phrase following it. He replied that it meant “nothing,” though three days later, he spelled out the meaning of the word: to relate “the concern for the sovereignty over the territories to the Israeli concern for secure boundaries.” Taking place within what must had been within mere seconds of this utterance, Kissinger quipped that the phrases “just and lasting peace” and “secure and recognized borders” in the Resolution were a joke to him. This is curious to say the least because of the fact that he appears to have wielded enormous power over the text, claiming sole authorship over some sections of it.6
The Resolution also reiterated the U.N. Charter's rule on “the inadmissibility of acquisition of territory by war” which one would think should apply to the territories gained in the Israeli Six Day War. However, Israeli President, Shimon Peres, denounced the application of this to the West Bank, saying that there were no international borders at the time.7 One might be tempted to say that this is simply a disagreement of definition, but in the same interview, he went to say that “you cannot go to war, lose the war and then say pay me a price,” which contradicts the main thrust of the Resolution's argument against territory gained through war to have legitimacy.
U.N. Security Council Resolution 338 has a similar story. The original text, 8 (without the bolding of the main verbs), is as follows:
The Security Council
1. Calls upon all parties to the present fighting to cease all firing and terminate all military activity immediately, no later than 12 hours after the moment of the adoption of this decision, in the positions they now occupy;
2. Calls upon the parties concerned to start immediately after the cease-fire the implementation of Security Council Resolution 242 (1967) in all of its parts;
3. Decides that, immediately and concurrently with the cease-fire, negotiations shall start between the parties concerned under appropriate auspices aimed at establishing a just and durable peace in the Middle East.
The weight of each statement in actuality is not based on their order, or their format, but the specific verb used. The third statement, being the one with the verb “decide” and not “call” is the most powerful, and the other two are simply recommendations. However, no matter the semantics, or possibly because of them, the resolution was not effective in brokering peace. Another more strongly-worded resolution was passed within a couple days, “confirm[ing]” its predecessor's statements and calling for international observers to be dispatched. Even after the cease-fire was officially declared, Israeli forces continued to advance and threatened the Egyptian army.
President Reagan's final offering, the Fez conference, is not an example for mutual respect or understanding at all, but perhaps is the one most likely to bring a certain kind of agreement, because the proposals there were rejected by both “hardliner” states of the Arab League and by Israel. The talks fell apart when King Hassan called the meeting to a close.9 He seemed to have been pushing a synthesis of the aforementioned U.N. Security Council resolutions and President Ronald Reagan's personal plan, but could not overcome a “boycott” by states who had strong feelings against a plan that implicitly recognized Israel as a legitimate state. This was evidenced by the Libyan leader, Muammar al-Gaddafi labeling of such actions as “traitorous.” These countries also showed their disapproval by only sending low-level representatives. Israel rejected the plan because it did not want to recognize a Palestinian state nor withdraw from East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The reason I believe this conference and its aftermath to be the thing most likely to bring an agreement is not only the old maxim about a good compromise being one that leaves everyone unhappy, but because the disagreement here is only over actions to be taken and not differences between interpretations of various phrases.
The question remains as to what actions President Reagan took during his presidency to promote “peace” and to boost morale to Palestinians. During his presidency, Israel and Syria engaged in a series of acts of military brinksmanship, in violation of international law, yet in 1985 he fanned the flames of the conflict after he signed a bill designating billions of dollars of aid to Israel, ignoring the opinions expressed at the Fez conference and without publicly consulting with another country. In a question and “answer,” (he actually avoided answering most of the questions) he declared that the United States representatives would “not support the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.”10
To this day, the questions raised regarding the meaning of the resolution of 242 have not been settled between the parties, Israel continues the illegal expansion of settlements, and has even asked reporters to stop using the word “settlements” in favor of “neighborhoods.” Neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians recognize one another's legitimate statehood, and acts of goodwill are overshadowed by ongoing reports of the continued human rights law violations on both sides of Israel's border.11 Throughout all this, the U.S. continues complicit support of Israel's illegal occupation of occupied territories through massive aid.12
If negotiations, after years and years were not able to clear up questions surrounding the wording of Resolution 242, how can we expect them to clear up people's understanding of what a settlement or a neighborhood is? If negotiations have failed thus far to deliver on understanding, what hope is there for an act of mutual respect, such as recognizing statehood, or of goodwill, such as seeking to integrate the two societies together?
Perhaps the solution lies altogether outside the boxes of Reagan's four examples, three values, two political alliances, and his one definition of “peace” as state-enforced security and national identity, and even outside of official negotiations altogether. The benefits of an open and honest debate, and more importantly, actions, among non-state actors have yet to be proven unproductive.
One of the loudest voices outside of the “mainstream” is Uri Gordon, a self-proclaimed Anarchist-sympathizer, though he also suggests people contemplate a two-state solution in his book, Anarchy Alive!. 13 He justifies this recommendation, one that seems to contradict the traditional abhorrence in Anarchist theoretical writings of nationalism and governance by accepting a two-state solution as either a strategic decision designed to enlighten more people, as a lesser evil than the current occupation, or as a simple, non-ideological stance of solidarity. However, his strong Anarchist sympathy shines in an article in the Jerusalem Post calling for a dismantling the systems of oppression, both physical and social,14 and gives an uplifting message:

We can still break out of the vicious cycle of drawing the justification for present atrocities from the living memory of the horrors of the past - if only we realize that in doing so we are playing into the hands of all those who mean to rule us''.

 Anarchism, started as a tradition of worker self-management and solidarity soon to encompass passionate critiques of state power, seems to contradict any possible stance on Middle East peace other than either apathy or total antagonism to all parties negotiating through governments. To resolve this he points out that one may work to resolve the conflict without going through governmental means, such as supporting things like the rights of workers, women, and other minorities of participation who have a reputation to be more peace-oriented.
He has also expressed frustration with the abuse of language, which is becoming a pattern at this point. He called out the editor of the Jerusalem Post's article on Anarchism for writing “a rhapsody of belittling rhetoric designed to brand anarchists as irrelevant” followed by “well-rehearsed cheap shots, stock phrases and smug moralizing alongside harangues of abuse and dehumanization of the enemy.” Though they are unlikely to agree, this kind of debate is much more revealing and thoughtful than any of the scripted and evasive language of a governmental secretary or president. It is for that reason that Reagan's hope for peace is likely misplaced in negotiations.

1. Acharya, A. (Ed.), & Johnston, A. I. (Ed.) (2007) Crafting Cooperation: Regional International Institutions in Comparative Perspective (p. 191) Cambridge University Press
2. Caradon, B. H. F. (1981) U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, a case study in diplomatic ambiguity. Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University
3. Drummond, W. J. (1975, Nov 25). Syria Reportedly Insists on Palestinian-Golan Link. Los Angeles Times
4. Gelvin J. L. (October 2, 2007) The Israel-Palestine Conflict: One Hundred Years of War (p. 223) Cambridge University Press
6. Gazit M., Rodman P. W. (1973, October 22) Memorandum of Conversation. declassified national security document. Retrieved Tuesday, December 8th, 2009 from the George Washington Universtiy website at:
7.Stadlen, Nick (2007, June 4) Transcript of Nick Stadlen interview with Shimon Peres part I. Retrieved Tuesday, December 8th, 2009 from:
8. Original text of U.N. Security Council Resolution 338 retrieved Tuesday, December 8th, 2009 from
9. Goldsmith, M. (1981, Nov 27) Failure of Arab summit produces no real losers. The Spokesman Review
10. Hunt, T. (1982, September 2) Reagan: West Bank Jordan's. Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette
11. LaFranchi H. (2009, November 4th) UN General Assembly to take up Goldstone report on Gaza war crimes. Christian Science Monitor.
12. Annonymous (2009, July 8) Despite splits, U.S. still arms Israel. Retrieved Tuesday, December 8, 2009 from
13. Gordon, U. (2007) Anarchy Alive!: Anti-authoritarian Poliics from Practice to Theory. Pluto Press
14. Gordon, U. (2007, June 12). Right of Reply: Anarchy in the Holy Land! Jerusalem Post

Monday, November 9, 2009

We're Stalking "Enemy Children"

  From the leaked "Tracking" Guide for U.S. Special Forces:
1-5.  As a tracker follows a trail, he uses the above-mentioned skills to build a picture of the enemy in his mind while asking himself these questions: 
  How many people am I following? 
  Are they male or female?
  Are they adults or children?
  What is their state of training? 
  How are they equipped? 
  Are they healthy? 
 What is their state of morale?
 Do they know they are being followed? 

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Using Logic Against Fascists

From ACLU's blog:

Yesterday, I argued in Maricopa County Superior Court about whether Sheriff Joe Arpaio, “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” can block inmates’ access to abortion. The specific issue is whether the sheriff can demand that inmates who seek abortion care prepay $300 a day in transportation and security costs. If an inmate can’t come up with the money, she will be forced to carry the pregnancy to term. Of course, Sheriff Arpaio doesn’t require inmates seeking other medical care to prepay for transport and security costs. We argued it is unconstitutional to make access to the constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy conditional on the ability to pay hundreds of dollars. Fortunately, the judge agreed.
Ruling immediately after the arguments, the court held that the defendants are prohibited from demanding prepayment for transport and security costs. The sheriff has an uphill battle given that just a couple of years ago the Arizona Court of Appeals held that his policy of demanding a court order from inmates seeking abortion was unconstitutional. As the judge yesterday recognized, the issue of prepayment for transport costs is only a “slight extension” of the court order issue, and demanding prepayment is possibly more onerous than requiring a court order.
But the most telling part of yesterday’s argument came when the judge asked us to do some math. He asked both parties how many hours since June each of us worked on the case – we agreed it was at least 40 hours each. He then assumed an hourly rate of $250 an hour and asked us to calculate the total. The answer? A lot of taxpayer money is being spent on a policy that may cost the Sheriff a few hundred dollars a year given how few women request abortion access.
Then the judge asked the question that sums it all up – he asked the sheriff’s attorney to explain “the real reason” behind the policy. Clearly, it can’t be that the sheriff is really worried about $300 a year.
The sheriff’s attorney didn’t really respond. I suppose it was a bit of a rhetorical question. Sheriff Arpaio has repeatedly acted on his animosity to abortion by denying inmates their constitutional rights. All told, he will spend thousands of taxpayer dollars fighting over $300 a year simply because he wants to impose his moral beliefs on others. The courts have repeatedly stopped these unconstitutional tactics. And we will be prepared to deal with whatever Sheriff Joe does next.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Numb3rs teaches you that Jews love money and Anarchists love prison

"Kai Kragen"

From the third season we get this wonderful guy:

Detective Sinclair: We saw your old house on Mulholland. That must have been hard to give up.
Detective Granger: Not to mention all the money
Kai Kragen: Whether someone is puting a gun to someone's head or a bunch of people are eating cow testicles on an island, it's all entertainment right?

"Kai" by the way is often short for "Cornelius," which comes from the Latin word for "horn."


Tyson: It's a better ending this way: three people that ripped me off are dead, the force is going to go down in total humiliation...
Detective Granger: What about what happens to you?

Tyson: Me? (laughs) Are you kidding? Starting tomorrow I top the A-list. There's not an agent in town who won't be scrambling to sign me.
Detective Sinclair: Too bad you'll be writing from prison.

Tyson: Locked in a cell with no one to bother me? I can crank out five, six movies a year.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

"Dear FOX News, It's not me, it's you"

News Item: Waitrose dumps Fox News in protest over remarks about Barack Obama

Well a lot of companies have cut funding from the racist show of Glenn Beck. But they continued to purchase advertising from FOX. This is the first I've heard about where it is someone actually cutting all funding.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

NYT Ignores Latin America

Today I read today's New York Times cover-to-cover and found no article on Latin America. The closest I could find was one about gay marriage in Texas (which used to be part of Mexico until we punked them out of it) and an op-ed about how the rest of the world doesn't like us because they "envy our power."

Monday, September 28, 2009

The "Security Threat" Of Inter-Racial Love

Israel’s Fear of Jewish Women Dating Arabs

Team of Pyschologists to "Rescue" Women

by Jonathan Cook / September 25th, 2009

A local authority in Israel has announced that it is establishing a special team of youth counselors and psychologists whose job it will be to identify young Jewish women who are dating Arab men and “rescue” them.

The move by the municipality of Petah Tikva, a city close to Tel Aviv, is the latest in a series of separate — and little discussed — initiatives from official bodies, rabbis, private organisations and groups of Israeli residents to try to prevent interracial dating and marriage.

In a related development, the Israeli media reported this month that residents of Pisgat Zeev, a large Jewish settlement in the midst of Palestinian neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem, had formed a vigilante-style patrol to stop Arab men from mixing with local Jewish girls.

Hostility to intimate relationships developing across Israel’s ethnic divide is shared by many Israeli Jews, who regard such behaviour as a threat to the state’s Jewishness. One of the few polls on the subject, in 2007, found that more than half of Israeli Jews believed intermarriage should be equated with “national treason”.

Since the state’s founding in 1948, analysts have noted, a series of legal and administrative measures have been taken by Israel to limit the possibilities of close links developing between Jewish and Arab citizens, the latter comprising a fifth of the population.

Largely segregated communities and separate education systems mean that there are few opportunities for young Arabs and Jews to become familiarised with each other. Even in the handful of “mixed cities”, Arab residents are usually confined to separate neighbourhoods.

In addition, civil marriage is banned in Israel, meaning that in the small number of cases where Jews and Arabs want to wed, they can do so only by leaving the country for a ceremony abroad. The marriage is recognised on the couple’s return.

Yuval Yonay, a sociologist at Haifa University, said the number of interracial marriages was “too small to be studied”. “Separation between Jews and Arabs is so ingrained in Israeli society, it is surprising that anyone manages to escape these central controls.”

The team in Petah Tikva, a Jewish city of 200,000 residents, was created in direct response to news that two Jewish girls, aged 17 and 19, were accompanying a group of young Arab men when they allegedly beat a Jewish man, Leonard Karp, to death last month on a Tel Aviv beach. The older girl was from Petah Tikva.

The girls’ involvement with the Arab youths has revived general concern that a once-firm taboo against interracial dating is beginning to erode among some young people.

In sentiments widely shared, Hezi Hakak, a spokesman for Petah Tikva municipality, said “Russian girls” — young Jewish women whose parents arrived in Israel over the past two decades, since the collapse of the former Soviet Union — were particularly vulnerable to the attention of Arab men.

Dr Yonay said Russian women were less closed to the idea of relationships with Arab men because they “did not undergo the religious and Zionist education” to which more established Israeli Jews were subject.

Mr Hakak said the municipality had created a hotline that parents and friends of the Jewish women could use to inform on them.

“We can’t tell the girls what to do but we can send a psychologist to their home to offer them and their parents advice,” he said.

Motti Zaft, the deputy mayor, told the Ynet website that the municipality was also cracking down on city homeowners who illegally subdivide apartments to rent them cheaply to single Arab men looking for work in the Tel Aviv area. He estimated that several hundred Arab men had moved into the city as a result.

Petah Tikva’s hostility to Arab men mixing with local Jewish women is shared by other communities.

In Pisgat Zeev, a settlement of 40,000 Jews, some 35 Jewish men are reported to belong to a patrol known as “Fire for Judaism” that tries to stop interracial dating.

One member, who identified himself as Moshe to the Jerusalem Post newspaper, said: “Our goal is to be in contact with these girls and try to explain to them the dangers of what they’re getting themselves into. In the last 10 years, 60 girls from Pisgat Zeev have gone into [Palestinian] villages [in the West Bank]. And most of them aren’t heard from after that.”

He denied that violence or threats were used against Arab men.

Last year, the municipality of Kiryat Gat, a town of 50,000 Jews in southern Israel, launched a programme in schools to warn Jewish girls of the dangers of dating local Bedouin men. The girls were shown a video titled Sleeping with the Enemy, which describes mixed couples as an “unnatural phenomenon”.

Haim Shalom, head of the municipality’s welfare department, is filmed saying: “The girls, in their innocence, go with the exploitative Arab.” A police representative also warns that the Bedouin men’s “goal is to take advantage of the girls. There is no element of love or an innocent friendly relationship here.”

In 2004, posters sprang up all over the northern town of Safed warning Jewish women that dating Arab men would lead to “beatings, hard drugs, prostitution and crime”.

Safed’s chief rabbi, Shmuel Eliyahu, told a local newspaper that the “seducing” of Jewish girls was “another form of war” by Arab men.

Both Kiryat Gat and Safed’s campaigns were supported by a religious organisation called Yad L’achim, which runs an anti-assimilation team publicly dedicated to “saving” Jewish women.

According to its website, the organisation receives more than 100 calls a month about Jewish women living with Arab men, both in Israel and the West Bank. It launches “military-like rescues [of the women] from hostile Arab villages” in co-ordination with the police and army.

“The Jewish soul is a precious, all-too-rare resource, and we are not prepared to give up on even a single one,” says the website.

Yad L’achim’s founder, Rabbi Shlomo Dov Lifschitz, is quoted on the site saying: “People must understand that Jewish-Arab marriages are part of the larger Israeli-Arab conflict. … They [Arab men] see it as their goal to marry them [Jewish women] and ensure that their childen aren’t raised as Jews. This is their revenge against the Jewish people. They feel that if they can’t defeat us in war, they can wipe us out this way.”

The degree of general opposition in Israel to interracial marriage was suggested by a government-backed television ad campaign earlier this month that urged Israeli Jews to inform on relatives abroad who were in danger of marrying a non-Jew. The ads were hastily withdrawn by surprised Israeli officials after many US Jews took offence.

In her book Birthing the Nation, Rhoda Kanaaneh, a Middle East scholar at New York University, points out that “politicians frequently attack ‘peace’ or ‘dialogue’ programs for promoting miscegenation” in fear that it will lead to Jewish assimilation.

She also notes that Israel’s adoption and surrogacy laws require that adoptive parents be of the same ethnic group as the biological mother.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Parenthood And Gay Marriage

It is a tragedy, I feel, that people of a different sexual type are caught in a world which shows so little understanding for homosexuals.
-Emma Goldman

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My Favorite Firefox Plugins

These are my most-used plugins for Mozilla Firefox:

How to do it: Click the drop-down button where you can choose the site you want to search and then go to Manage Search Engines. This is a good time to delete the ones you don't want. After you've done that, click the little blue underlined link Get more search engines...(here's the direct link if you don't like going through those steps) In the text field where it says search for add-ons type in the search engine you wish to add. I added and
This is an add-on that will save you unmeasurable trouble. Basically, it is a collectivized login database where users share usernames and passwords that they have been forced to create to access content online. You can go to their website every time you want to find a login or you can just install this nifty little plugin. Once installed, just right click the login field of almost any website (be sure to fill in the CAPTCHA if there is one) and click Login with BugMeNot. Voila!
This plugin is pretty simple. Install it and you can right click and drag different combination of lines on your screen to do different commands. Be sure to add a visible line in the settings so you can see what you are doing. It's also fully customizable too. The ones I typically use the most are: Close Tab, New Tab, Zoom in, Zoom out (Except now I use Ctrl + and Ctrl - for zooming). 
This plugin allows you to:
1. download multiples files (such as videos, mp3 or the extension of your choice) at once, in one click

2. increase your download speed immensely.
Just an IRC Client that is easy to use. Accessible through the Tools menu.Can be great if you wish to get in an argument with idiots over politics or to download books on Undernet's "#bookz" channel.
  • Read it Later

    This is a plugin that allows you to save a web page to read later, recall a web page that you have saved and remove a web page that you have read - all in one click.
That's it! Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Boss of factory occupiers tried to sell and move plant

You may have heard a while back about the workers at Republic Windows and Doors refusing to allow their plant to close for 3 days without concessions. They eventually won  compensation for the plant closing.

Well now, the boss who wanted to close the plant actually wanted to illegally move it:
Gillman allegedly diverted money from Republic and laundered stolen money through fraudulent bank accounts and shell companies. He alleged Gillman highjacked manufacturing equipment and concealed it in ten semi-trailers — transporting three of the semi-trailers to Red Oak, Iowa and hiding the remaining semi-trailers in a trailer park. He also allegedly removed business equipment, destroyed documents, created phony receivables and engaged in computer “hacking.”
The factory has since reopened but only 15 people have been re-hired, thanks to the stimulus bill not being big enough.

3 Ways to download entire books online

Three ways to download books (including textbooks):

1. IRC channel #bookz on Undernet (Try Chatzilla, which runs with Firefox, which is an awesome Indian name, or something else as an IRC client, )

2. (need a torrent client? try utorrent, ported for mac and pc)

3. use search commands like filetype:txt, filetype:doc, filetype:pdf, filetype:zip and filetype:rtf


No, I'm not going to try all of those keyboard layouts. I'm going to switch over to Colemak and see where the 193% greater efficiency takes me. Yes QGMLWY is better, but I'm not going through the steps of reading command line after command line to run in Perl. Colemak is easy to install.

Self-censorhip to carry on?

Reading this article about the failure of journalism schools to teach people how to be real journalists, I got to a part where a man suggested a pretty common sense notion: that journalists should be unbiased and not let big corporations control what they say:
I proposed a new mission statement to my faculty colleagues in the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin. I argued that by stating bluntly the nature of the crises we face in today’s world and breaking with our longstanding subordination to the industry, we could offer an exciting alternative to students who don’t want to repeat the failures of our generation.
But here's how people responded:
Some disagreed with my assessment of the crises we face, while others thought it politically ill-advised to criticize the industry and corporate power so directly.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Obama Breaks International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

Ever heard of Bagram prison? It's Guantanamo Lite. First I'll tell you what the ICCPR says, and then how we're breaking it: 
...everyone shall be entitled to the following minimum guarantees, in full equality: communicate with counsel of his own choosing;
...To be tried without undue delay; defend himself in person or through legal assistance of his own choosing; to be informed, if he does not have legal assistance, of this right; and to have legal assistance assigned to him, in any case where the interests of justice so require, and without payment by him in any such case if he does not have sufficient means to pay for it;
........ Not to be compelled to testify against himself or to confess guilt.
 "legal council of his choosing" huh? "undue delay" huh?

Take a look at what we're doing in Bagram. The Pentagon is about to assign
...military officials to each of the detainees to help to collect evidence and witnesses to support any case they may have to be freed.
So no lawyers. Just military officers. Seems very just. Now let's see how "undue" their delay is.
And about the right to not confess.
According to the best available estimates, at least 600 prisoners are held at Bagram,.... where they have been held for up to seven years. 
...a vast amount of the government’s supposed evidence consisted not of verifiable facts, but of "confessions" made by other prisoners – or by the prisoners themselves – under unknown circumstances.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

"Energetic" Apathy

Here are the six things we can do for the Honduran people (short of regime change):

1. Legally define the coup in Honduras as a military coup
2. Publicly condemn human right violations
3. Impose trade sanctions
4. Recall the American ambassador
5. Freeze the bank accounts of the coup leaders
6. Revoke the diplomatic and tourist visas of all the coup leaders

Have we done #1 yet? Nope. It is so simple, yet we have not done it, probably so that we can continue to supply humanitarian aid to the country. How we know it is getting in the right hands is beyond me.

#2 yet? Nope. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights doesn't count, even though it contains a U.S. citizen as a delegate. Who by the way condemned the human rights abuses:

“Since the events of June 28, the widespread practice of arbitrary detentions, the excessive use of force against protesters, and continued interference with freedom of expression in Honduras all contradict those responsibilities of the state.”
#3. Of course we're not going to do this are you crazy? By the way, I wrote that sentence before I even Googled the facts. But I was right. Why do they say this? They make ridiculous claims.

The first:
A letter from the State Department to Sen. Richard Lugar, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, states that the U.S. "energetically" opposes Mr. Zelaya's June 28 ouster. But the letter also expresses the harshest criticism yet of Mr. Zelaya's own actions that preceded his removal from office, including trying to change Honduras's constitution to potentially stay in power.
"We energetically condemn the actions of June 28. We also recognize that President Zelaya's insistence on undertaking provocative actions contributed to the polarization of Honduran society and led to a confrontation that unleashed the events that led to his removal," Richard Verma, the assistant secretary for legislative affairs, said in the letter, reviewed Tuesday by The Wall Street Journal.
Seems like we're talking out of both sides of our mouth. On the one hand we oppose his ouster, but we also say that he had it coming, and continue to let the crooks who supported it trade illegitimately. Oh - and about changing the constitution, look it up, it was a non-binding resolution. And suppose it was binding: unless I missed the part in civics class where democracy is less important than a piece of paper written by elites, it still doesn't justify a coup. Oh - and let's see what else. Zelaya's own vice president was going to run for president, and Zelaya was not (he said he would if he could, but if the constitution was amended, it would go into affect after his presidency ended). Some way to stay in power!

#4. Nope
#5. Nope (see number 3)
#6. Somewhat. Only 16 people so far.

So far we've barely done one of these things. Some "energy" huh? And yet people think Obama is sympathetic to socialists.

How to stream music and basically any audio through IM clients

Most people know that with a microphone and a program like AIM, MSN, Yahoo! Messenger, Skype or something else you can stream live from your microphone. But did you know that you can actually stream music over them too? I have used this to play beats I have made in FL Studio for my friends without having to go through the usually long process of exporting it to a file and then sending the file somewhere.

Here are the steps>
1. Open your IM software
2. initiate a "call" or "talk session"
3. Go to Start > Run > type in sndvol32.exe > "OK"
4. Go to Options > Properties
5. Click the radio button next to "Recording"
6. Under "Show the following volume controls" make sure that there is a check next to "Stereo Mix" or possibly "Wave Out Mix" Press "OK"
7. Under the slider of either "Stereo Mix" or "Wave Out Mix" select the check box. Close Record Control
8. Open your mp3 in an mp3 player or open whatever program you have that plays audio you wish to send.

That's it!

One word of warning!!! Don't - under any circumstances - try to record something through an audio recording software that plays back as it records, as you will get an enormous amount of feedback!!!

Do you think of yourself as a compassionate human being?

If you do, you have to read this report and find out just who is making your products (are they children?) under which conditions (involuntary?). I tried copying and pasting the text from the PDF into a spreadsheet but it wasn't formatted right.

Alan Dershowitz = Pharoah?

From a debate between him and Noam Chomsky:

I do not support the right of return, that is, the idea that 700,000 or now 4 million Palestinians can demographically destroy Israel.
  From the book of Exodus (Ch. 1, vers 8-14)
Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.
 And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we. Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land.

New Chomsky article on Latin America.. disses Obama's plan for US military bases in Colulmbia

Suppose that UNASUR, or China, or many others claimed the right to establish military bases in Mexico to implement their programs to eradicate tobacco in the US, by aerial fumigation in North Carolina and Kentucky, interdiction by sea and air forces, and dispatch of inspectors to the US to ensure it was eradicating this poison -- which is far more lethal than cocaine or heroin, incomparably more than cannabis. The toll of tobacco use, including "passive smokers" who are seriously affected though they do not use tobacco themselves, is truly fearsome, overwhelming the lethal effects of other dangerous substances.
 The rest.

Libertarian Capitalism vs. Libertarian Socialism

Masebrock (6 days ago)
 One of the underlying themes of the concept of "wage slavery" is the idea that some contracts are acceptable and others are "slavery", even if they are accepted on a voluntary basis. When Libertarian Socialists talk about eliminating "wage slavery", how do you suppose they want to go about doing such a thing? By assuming a position of authority to determine what voluntary contracts are "slavery" and what voluntary contracts are fair.
Chomsky is a supporter of taxation as well, like most LS
ZiggyZen (6 days ago)
 By offering an option that isn't wage slavery, IE by directly controlling the means production by workers. Not the state, not some corporation, but the workers. He never said people couldn't still choose to work for a wage, just that most probably wouldn't want to when a better option presents itself.
Tuppington (1 day ago)
actually no law outlawing wage slavery would be needed. you just would have no law saying workers can't take over the means of production themselves.
Tuppington (1 day ago)
A group of workers enter the boss's office and tell him that they have just taken over the factory. "You can't", says the boss. "I own it"
"And how did you come to own it?" ask workers.
"It was left to me by my father", says the boss.
"How did he get it?" asks the worker.
"He got it from his father", says the boss.
"And he?" asks the worker.
"He fought for it", says the capitalist in a burst of familial pride.
"Well", say the workers, all together this time, "We'll fight you for it".
Masebrock (19 hours ago)
 If the someone who runs a factory acquired it by violently taking it from someone else, it cannot be said to by owned by him. It is stolen property.
But it would be unjustifiable to assume that every factory was obtained through violent means. You cannot assume guilt.
Masebrock (19 hours ago)
 A more likely response from the boss would be:
"'He BUILT it' , says the capitalist in a burst of familial pride."
Tuppington (19 hours ago)
 1. If stolen property is not ownership then most of the U.S. is not legally owned by people.
2. The most likely case: "He had OTHERS build it for him!"
Masebrock (19 hours ago)
1. I agree. Do you think that stolen property IS ownership? But once again you can't just assume guilt...
2. If it was built by others, and he STOLE it, then he does not own it. If it was built by others under contract that he retains ownership of the building, then it is legitimately owned.
Tuppington (16 hours ago)
 1. according to Karl Marx, stolen property is ownership.. but he put it the other way around... "property is theft"
2. libertarian socialists would say he doesn't legitimately own it unless the workers are paid for the full value of their work. as most people were not paid the full value, that is, the capital generated from their construction, then no he doesn't own it legitimately. a fair wage would be to pay someone a wage for their work and then give them stock and executive decisions

Masebrock (15 hours ago)
To say that failing to pay wages equal to the capital generated would negate ownership is ridiculous. Only force or fraud can negate ownership, not failing to make contracts that fit your standards of "fair".

People don't lose their rights because they fail to abide by your definition of "fair".
 1. Do you really believe that might makes right? So if I posses the means to steal a resource, then I rightfully own the resource?
2. If the laborers were not paid the "full value" of their work as specified in the terms of the contract, then they would have a case. But there you go again assuming guilt. The "value" of their labor is whatever someone is willing to pay them, not the capital generated.
Tuppington (15 hours ago)
 might doesn't make right. workers take *back* the means of production, they don't steal it. and why does might make right when the so-called owner of a factory uses his power to bend the contract in his favor?
if the planet were filled with only ugly people, would the best looking one be beautiful? no. value, like beauty, is absolute. from the so-called owner's point of view, the worker is only as valuable as the cost of his replacement. but from the universal point of view, value is production
Tuppington (14 hours ago)
 failing to abide by my definition of fair would not make anyone lose their rights, since having power doesn't give you the right to steal. however, contracts written free from courts and regulations could force workers to forfeit rights.
by withholding from workers the true value of their work, a so-called owner is defrauding them and therefore forfeits his ownership by your definition.
"Originally, all things were common and undivided; they were the
property of all." - Hugo Grotius
Masebrock (14 hours ago)
 A contract that uses force is not a legitimate one. Legitimate contracts must be voluntary accepted by both parties. I'm glad you've decided to not invalidate contracts because you don't deem them "fair'.

"Defraud" implies a falsehood. That would mean someone said one thing but acted another way. If in the contract it specified that the workers would not be paid equal to the amount of capital generated, it cannot be said to be fraudulent. "Unfair" does not equal fraudulent.
Masebrock (14 hours ago)
Hugo Grotiius apparently has no clue how property is justified, or even where it comes from.

"workers take *back* the means of production, they don't steal it."

This implies that the means of production in question was originally owned by the workers. You don't know that. And even if you found a case where it was, it also implies that it was taken from them through force or fraud. And you don't know that either. So many assumptions...
Masebrock (14 hours ago)
 The boss has the right to make contracts by virtue of his right to be free from violence. So you don't think people don't should have the right to negotiate contracts? Just what sort of violent means do you suppose to use to keep people from making these contracts?

Value is not based on production. Proof: No matter how much time and energy someone spends making mud pies, they will still be worthless. And if someone stumbles across a diamond on the sidewalk, it is worth millions.
Masebrock (9 hours ago) 
Contracts are only de-legitimatized through force or fraud, not your personal definition of "fairness".

Tuppington (1 hours ago)
i'm assuming you extend the right to be free from violence to the worker. yet the boss can use the threat of violence to get a job, such as a private security company who wishes to be hired to stop an invasion or one who exploits a starving man to keep him free from mother nature's wrath.
mud pies are not valuable to society. they still wouldn't be even if people paid money for them. and about diamonds, you are forgetting that nature is doing most of the work. it doesn't just magically appear.
Masebrock (9 hours ago)
 You got me: I should have specified that everyone (boss, worker) has the right to be free from the INITIATION of violence. I am not at all for pacifism. Private security companies stopping invasions if fine by me. I don't understand the starving man example though...who initiates the violence here, Mother Nature? I guess I also should have specified that I think non-human objects don't fit into any system of morality.
Masebrock (9 hours ago)
 Re mud pies: I was just going by your claim that value is based on production ;) So now what inherent characteristic of the object do you say value based on? We've already knocked production off the shelf...

Re property is theft: I'm talking about justified property, not "legal" property. "Legal" property is whatever the hell the government declares. Do you really want to follow that precedent of property though theft?
Masebrock (9 hours ago)
 "as soon as someone claims ownership of something he did not personally create he becomes a fraud."

You have some understanding of the labor theory of property, and that is good. But he would only be a fraud if he was claiming UNOWNED property that he didn't apply labor to. Once property has been claimed, you can exchange it and become the new owner, even though you didn't apply labor to it. Example: If I own a shirt, I can give it to my brother, and the shirt is then legitimately his.

Tuppington (1 hour ago)
 if all you are making is a mud pie then you really aren't producing anything. but i do stand corrected. what i meant to say is that the true value of your creation is the benefit it gives society at large. most people agree with this system, even if they don't know it. it is why we have high taxes on cigarettes.
marx would probably have a good laugh reading your sentence. it's like saying do you really want to follow that precedent of theft through theft?
Tuppington (1 hour ago)
 someone controlling a factory can be indirect violence, so its a good analogy. say the private security firm has extra guns but will not give you any, and decides that you are not worth saving. do you have the right to steal a gun to protect yourself? is it even really stealing? or say they bought a piece of land that gives good protection, and if you are anywhere else you will be killed. do they still own the land? why should taking a factory from a boss be any different?
Tuppington (1 hours ago)
 hunter-gatherers stole animals from their families.. yet they believed in repayment, albeit a very kooky kind involving animal and sometimes human sacrifice... anyway, we got an assload of trade secrets from Germany after WW2, most land in America was stolen from Indians. and then there's the stolen profit taken from the workers and given to the capitalist who did nothing but sit on his hindquarters handing out pieces of paper. so there's a precedent of people possessing property through theft.
Tuppington (1 hours ago)
 as soon as someone claims ownership of something he did not personally create he becomes a fraud. therefore the factory "owner" cannot make a legitimate contract under your own definition.
if a boss decides to use someones desperation (such as starving if he cannot find work) as a means to further his own selfish goals by haggling a lower wage he is taking advantage of the forces of nature, therefore de-legitimizing his contract. regulations would prohibit this.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

In Defense Of Full Employment

While it is usually the case that lower unemployment leads to higher inflation, it is not set in stone. Yes, countries without full employment are 10%  more likely to have acceptable rates of inflation. But there still remain 24 countries that have had full employment in the last 5 years that have also had acceptable rates of inflation. In other words, there are 24 exceptions to the rule! That's a full 28% of countries that have had acceptable rates of inflation in the last 5 years! And what about the countries with unacceptable levels of inflation? What are their unemployment rates? 66% of them do not have full employment. In other words, a country with unacceptable inflation is twice as likely to not have full employment.

Here is a list of countries/provinces that have had full employment and acceptable rates of inflation in the last five years:, Macau, San Marino, Vanuatu, Hong Kong, Northern Mariana Islands, Japan, Norfolk Island, Singapore, Brunei, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Gibraltar, Norway, The Netherlands, Denmark, China, Monaco, British Virgin Islands, Taiwan, Austria, Ireland, Luxembourg, Cyprus, Lithuania, Palau, Australia, Bermuda, South Korea, Bhutan, Malaysia, New Zealand, United States, and Iceland.

Another large hole in the theory is that countries with full employment actually have lower inflation on average.
Average inflation rate of countries with unemployment below 5% (considered full employment): 4.52%
Average inflation rate of countries with unemployment above 5%: 5.34%


What this blog is for

This blog will be an experimental combination of news aggregation and original research (forbidden on Wikipedia), as well as links to stuff that appeals to my lowbrow sense of humor and possibly even original lowbrow humor. Expect great things, people!