Sunday, July 29, 2007

Election Security Update 7-31-07: If We Had Not Been Ridiculed 7 Years Ago, Hundreds of Thousands of Lives & A Trillion Dollars Could Have Been Saved

Image: Diebold Voters

Previously undisclosed documents detail how Republican operatives, with the knowledge of several White House officials, engaged in an illegal, racially-motivated effort to suppress tens of thousands of votes during the 2004 presidential campaign in a state where George W. Bush was trailing his Democratic challenger, Senator John Kerry. Jason Leopold, Truthout, 7-26-07

State-sanctioned teams of computer hackers were able to break through the security of virtually every model of California’s voting machines and change results or take control of some of the systems’ electronic functions, according to a University of California study released Friday. John Wildermuth, State Vote Machines Lose Test to Hackers Francisco Chronicle, 7-28-07

Election Security Update 7-31-07: If We Had Not Been Ridiculed 7 Years Ago, Hundreds of Thousands of Lives & A Trillion Dollars Could Have Been Saved, Our Honor and Sanity Could Have Been Saved Too

By Richard Power

Of course, in a nation where the Fourth Estate has been warped by corporatist monopolization, the body of law perverted by the absurd notion that corporations should have the rights of individuals, and the campaign finance system corrupted with corporatist cash sanctified as free speech, it was only a matter of time before the voting process itself became the target of manipulation and subterfuge.

This realization, which, for me, came in 2000, contributed significantly to the change in my priorities as a writer and a security and risk professional. Knowing what I already knew then about the flawed nature of information security in general and application security in particular, it was clear to me that the nation-wide shift to electronic voting would be disastrous for what was left of our democratic institutions.

There are five important points you should know and share with other concerned citizens about election security in the USA:

1. There is damning proof that Bush-Cheney regime is illegitimate, i.e., that Gore won in 2000 and Kerry won in 2004.

2. All makes and models of electronic voting machines currently in use are very insecure, i.e., vulnerable to being hacked.

3. The Holt Bill, which is being touted on Capital Hill, is a placebo; it does not provide a solution to the problem of electronic voting machine vulnerabilities, and it is being pushed, in part, by software industry lobbyists to cover the asses of their clients (e.g., Microsoft) in a broad range of other applications.

4. The only real solution to the problem is to pull out the machines, return to the paper ballot, and, beyond that, to institute the same standards we demand in internationally supervised elections around the world.

5. There are other unethical and illegal methods being utilized to manipulate US elections, including, e.g., "caging." Investigations into such activities are ongoing, and if it were not for the politicization of the DoJ over the last several years, these investigations alone would have brought down many people in high places.

It took PBS several years to catch up with the BBC on the caging issue.

When will the leadership of the Democratic Party accept these painful truths? Their failure to press the issue aggressively only reinforces the conviction that their resistance to the reich-wing takeover, if not faux, is at best, half-hearted.

We cannot afford to allow the 2008 election cycle to commence without acute awareness and meaningful action at the national level.

Words of Power continues to follow this issue, and report on major developments. To view a directory of all Words of Power posts on the theft of the US and Mexican presidential elections, click here.

To follow these issues more closely, turn to Brad Blog, Mark Crispin Miller's Notes From The Underground, and Greg Palast.

Here are excerpts from two stories on important developments on the technical and investigative aspects, with links to the full texts:

Open Letter to CA Secretary of State Bowen
By Rebecca Mercuri
Dear Secretary of State Bowen,
At a cost of $1.8M, you now have various reports that confirm that all of the State's Hart, Diebold and Sequoia DRE and OpScan voting systems can be hacked in various ways. Potential hacks include the all-important ability to have a VVPAT print out one thing and the DRE total reflect something else (thus rendering the VVPAT useless) as well as the capability of detecting election mode (thus enabling the pre-election testing to appear correct, while the actual election has been compromised). All of these are types of hacks that many knowledgeable people (including myself) have been publicly saying for years could happen, and now you know that for sure they can. In addition, you know that "the security mechanisms provided for all systems analyzed were inadequate to ensure accuracy and integrity of the election results" and you also have learned that all of your State's voting systems fail to meet the Federal accessibility requirements.
Unfortunately, the report also provides you with a fall-back position whereby these wretched election products can continue to be used -- by claiming that many of the attack scenarios can be mitigated through better physical security, security training of staff, and contingency planning. Of course the report fails to really explain what those mitigations need to be, and it also omits mentioning that if the staff or the vendor happens to be corrupt and their contingency plan is to cover up their tracks, we now know for sure that fraud is certainly possible. ...
Here's a novel thought: why not just get rid of the junk the voting system vendors have sold your gullible counties over the past few years, demand a refund, and let your citizens vote on paper and do the counting themselves? ...
Rebecca Mercuri, Ph.D.
Authors Website:
Authors Bio: Rebecca Mercuri has been in the forefront of the voting integrity movement since 1989. She provides expert witness services for elections and other forensic computing matters.
Open Letter from Rebecca Mercuri, Notes from the Underground, 7-27-07

Was there a White House plot to illegally suppress votes in 2004? Is there a similar plan for the upcoming elections? This week NOW examines documents and evidence that points to a Republican Party plan designed to keep Democrats from voting, allegedly by targeting people based on their race and ethnicity with key battleground states like Ohio and Florida of particular interest. "It was a partisan, discriminatory attempt to challenge voters of color," Eddie Hailes, a senior attorney for The Advancement Project, a civil rights group, told NOW.
Was the White House involved? David Iglesias, one of the fired U.S. Attorneys, thinks so: "It's reprehensible. It's unethical, it's unlawful. It may very well be criminal." Iglesias told NOW he was repeatedly urged by his superiors at the Justice Department to investigate allegations of false voter registrations. After his investigations came up short, Iglesias said Republican officials got angry and complained to White House aide Karl Rove. Soon after Iglesias lost his job. As a result of allegations by Iglesias and others, Congress is investigating whether the White House acted unlawfully.
PBS Now, 7-27-07

Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and Words of Power. His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc. You can reach him via e-mail: For more information, go to

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Hard Rain Late Night: Hiromi Uehara -- XYZ (Shinagawa Aqua Stadium, Tokyo, 2-12-05)

Hard Rain Late Night: Hiromi Uehara -- XYZ (Shinagawa Aqua Stadium, Tokyo, 2-12-05)

Click here for Hard Rain Late Night Music Video -- Archive

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Sustainability Update 7-29-07: Geopolitics & Sustainability have Taken Over Your Future -- Whether You Choose to Acknowledge It or Not

Photo: NASA

"When I look at today's world I have a worrying feeling about the growth of world disorder," he said. ... "It is a massive strategic mistake: no single centre can command the entire world, no one,"[Gorbachaev] said. "Current America has made so many mistakes." Reuters, 7-27-07

Calls for increased help from Washington are on the rise as global efforts to tackle the world's burgeoning water and sanitation crisis have largely failed to produce any meaningful results so far. ... Research shows that in many parts of the world water tables are continuing to fall and rivers are drying up. OneWorld, 7-28-07

"What I am saying is that if we invest in ways to reduce the birthrate - by improving contraception, education and healthcare - we will stop the world's population reaching its current estimated limit of between eight and 10 billion. ... However, everyone has decided, quietly, to ignore the issue.' Guardian/UK 7-22-07

Sustainability Update 7-29-07: Geopolitics & Sustainability have Taken Over Your Future -- Whether You Choose to Acknowledge It or Not

By Richard Power

Geopolitics and sustainability have taken over your future -- both near term and long term -- whether you choose to acknowledge it or not. And the extent to which these two forces have taken over your future increases in direct proportion to the levels of inattention and blundering that your government has demonstrated in response.

Sustainability problems related to population and water would be urgent global issues even if global warming were not precipitating drastic climate change.

But the US political establishment's choice of empire over enlightened leadership (i.e., to swim against the current of the 21st century) would probably not have been such an issue if the Bush-Cheney cabal had not been allowed to seize power in 2000, and subsequently subject us all to its global business plan, thinly veneered, as it was, with neo-con ideology. (In many ways, Cheney's secret energy plan is at least as important a document as PNAC itself.)

At the turn of the Millennium, with a forward-looking national security policy, Clinton-Gore had indeed built a bridge to the 21st Century. The first terrorist act wasn't 9/11, it was the blowing up of that bridge, a heinous act perpetrated by those who high-jacked a national election instead of commercial jetliner.

Without the heavy-handedness of the Bush-Cheney national insecurity team -- e.g., the invasion and occupation of Iraq, the "Axis of Evil" formulation, the doctrine of malign neglect in regard to Israel and Palestine, the tearing up of the ABM treaty, etc. -- there would have been more room to adapt and realign, we would not have been led into such disaster, isolation and despair; we could have met the challenges of sustainability, global warming and geopolitical realignment and turned them into opportunities for bettering life for most people on the planet.

A geopolitical world-view predicated on empire (and by extension, disproportionate militarism) not only conjures death and destruction, it is incapable of viewing sustainability issues (e.g., energy, water, population, etc.) as anything other than a struggle for strategic advantage and hegemony over resources. It is the Treasure of Sierra Madres syndrome. At the end of the movie, there will nothing left but gold dust swirling in a wind storm.

Whether you walk in the corridors of power or on the streets of anonymity, you should contemplate Gorbachaev's remarks, and ask yourself where are we going as a nation?

You should also look at what the invasion and occupation of Iraq is doing to our psyche, our economy and our strategic position in the harsh light of what happened to the Soviets as a result of their invasion and occupation of Afghanistan.

Beyond that, I urge you to support organizations that promote family planning and water convervation. Start counting heads all around you, and be grateful for every drop of water. We are all in for it now.

Here are brief excerpts from three important news stories, with links to the full texts:

Calls for increased help from Washington are on the rise as global efforts to tackle the world's burgeoning water and sanitation crisis have largely failed to produce any meaningful results so far.
"Support, sponsor, solve," read a full-page newspaper advertisement released by an advocacy group this week, urging the U.S. Congress to pass a piece of legislation that would significantly increase U.S. funding for safe drinking water worldwide.
If adopted, the proposed bill, known as the Water for the Poor Act, would allocate no less than $300 million in assistance to improve water and sanitation conditions in the developing world. ... Research shows that in many parts of the world water tables are continuing to fall and rivers are drying up.
"As the world's demand for water has tripled over the last half-century and as the demand for hydroelectric power has grown even faster, dams and diversions of river water have drained many rivers dry," says Lester Brown, author of several books and president of the Washington, DC-based Earth Policy Institute, an independent environmental policy think tank.
Haider Rizvi, Washington Pressed to Lead as Water Tables Fall, OneWorld US, 7-28-07

The new head of the Science Museum has an uncompromising view about how global warming should be dealt with: get rid of a few billion people. Chris Rapley, who takes up his post on September 1, is not afraid of offending. 'I am not advocating genocide,' said Rapley. 'What I am saying is that if we invest in ways to reduce the birthrate - by improving contraception, education and healthcare - we will stop the world's population reaching its current estimated limit of between eight and 10 billion.
'That in turn will mean less carbon dioxide is being pumped into the atmosphere because there will be fewer people to drive cars and use electricity. The crucial point is that to achieve this goal you would only have to spend a fraction of the money that will be needed to bring about technological fixes, new nuclear power plants or renewable energy plants. However, everyone has decided, quietly, to ignore the issue.'
Robin McKie, The Observer, Guardian/UK 7-22-07

[Former Soviet president Mikhail] Gorbachev who presided over the break-up of the Soviet Union, said Washington had sought to build an empire after the Cold War ended but had failed to understand the changing world.
"The Americans then gave birth to the idea of a new empire, world leadership by a single power, and what followed?" Gorbachev asked reporters at a news conference in Moscow.
"What has followed are unilateral actions, what has followed are wars, what has followed is ignoring the U.N. Security Council, ignoring international law and ignoring the will of the people, even the American people." ... "When I look at today's world I have a worrying feeling about the growth of world disorder," he said. ... "It is a massive strategic mistake: no single centre can command the entire world, no one," he said. "Current America has made so many mistakes."
He said the U.S. administration was apparently unable to adapt to a swiftly changing world and had ignored -- or was unable to see -- the rise of Brazil, Russia, India and China as economic heavyweights.
Treaties limiting the number of nuclear weapons should be observed, he said, adding that officials in Washington should be wary of sparking a new arms race.
Guy Faulconbridge, Russia's Gorbachev says U.S. is sowing world disorder, Reuters, 7-27-07

Some Posts Related to Geopolitics and Sustainability

Hard Rain Journal 7-6-07: At The Red Mosque, Bloodshed; At Nalanda University, Hope

Hard Rain Journal 6-10-07: Chalmers Johnson on George Washington, Ron Paul, the False Iraq-as-Korea Meme, & the Fall of Roman & Soviet Empires

Hard Rain Journal 6-3-07: Think the "Cold War" Ended Well for All of Us? Think Again. Could Have, Should Have, But Didn't.

Hard Rain Journal 4-18-07: India and the Dark Side of Globalization -- Thomas Friedman's Fairy Tales versus Arundhati Roy's Reality Tour

Hard Rain Journal 4-19-07: Sustainability Update -- Simple Truths

Hard Rain Journal 3-22-07: Sustainability Update -- World Water Day -- What Would You Do With Your Last Seven Drops of Water?

Friday, July 27, 2007

Human Rights Updates -- Archive

Image: Aung San Suu Kyi, TIME 100

"Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world ... Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom ... Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge, Now, therefore ..." For the full text of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in many languages, click here.

Words of Power Human Rights Updates -- Archive

Adherence to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights must be unequivocal, i.e., without exceptions. A nation's concern for human rights must not be selective, opportunistic or convenient -- no matter what natural resource, trade opportunity or geopolitical gambit is at stake.

Those who think that such a policy would be weak, naive and impractical, do not understand the course and force of history as we hurtle on into the 21st Century, nor do they understand what real strength is, or where real power comes from.

My attention to this subject area is focused, in large part, on threats to women, children and indigenous peoples -- because they are the most vital and vulnerable among us, linking us both to our heritage and our legacy.

There are many references to human rights issues throughout the Words of Power site.

This particular archive contains a directory of Human Rights Updates along with some related posts.

See also Darfur Crisis Updates -- Archive and UN Millennium Goals Updates -- Archive.

-- Richard Power

UNIFEM, Violence Against Women, & the Global Significance of Sonia Sotomayor Going to SCOTUS

Global News Media Update: Across the Planet, Having A By-Line Demands Courage, But in the USA, for Every Danny Pearl, There are 100 Anderson Coopers

Scientists Make Breakthrough in Search for the Source of Wisdom; Meanwhile, in Burma, Tibet & Darfur, Brute Force & Blind Greed Still Rule

Congo Crisis: You & I are Intimately Involved in the Catastrophe; We are the Ultimate Benefactors of the Misery, & Perhaps the Only Hope of Ending It

Remember, the Congo is an Economic War, and Darfur is a Resource War; How Far from Your Door Does the Shadow of Hell Fall?

Congo Crisis Update: Global Witness Pressures Cell Phone Manufacturers to Accept Responsibility & Act -- Responsibly

Congo Crisis: Eve Ensler Raises Awareness, Medicines Sans Frontieres Denounces Cowering Peacekeepers; Hopefully, Susan Rice & Samantha Power Will Act

Africa, the Cradle, Yes, but Not the Grave; Two Stories of Rising Power from the Lost Eden

What Omer Goldman & the Child Soldiers of the Congo Could Teach the Political Establishment & Mainstream News Media

Valdênia Paulino & Shirin Ebadi are in Danger -- Women Must Not Only Be Empowered, They Must Be Protected as They Rise Up to Exercise that Power

Human Rights Update: Burma, the Congo & Tibet -- Just Another Day?

The Congo Conflict is An Economic War, Rape is Being Used as a Weapon of Terror; Here is What Should Be Done & Why It Won't Be (At Least Not Soon)

Congo Crisis Update: "Conditions look frighteningly similar to those before the Rwanda genocide in 1994"

While Great Nations & Captains of Industry Look the Other Way, Unchastened Thugocracies Crush the Defiant in Burma & the Defenseless in Darfur

Burma Crisis Update: A Blogger Gets 20 Years, 14 Democracy Activists Get 65 Years Each; Meanwhile, Business as Usual for Energy Giants

Human Rights Watch, OXFAM & others call on world to "take immediate action to protect civilians who are at severe risk in eastern Congo"

Human Rights Update: "For every two children released, five are abducted and forced to be child soldiers, said Amnesty International."

35 Years After the Coup, Salvador Allende, Who Died A Martyr for Democracy, Elected "Greatest Chilean in History" -- Tragically, USA Chooses Reagan

Human Rights Update: UNIFEM Works for Achievement of the "Missing Goal" -- Ending Violence Against Women

While Palin Rattles A Saber She Should Not Have Been Given; Aung San Suu Kyi Quietly, Peacefully Delivers Another Blow to the Burmese Thugocracy

Weigh the Coverage of Sarah Palin's Ascension Against the Coverage of Aung San Suu Kyi's Hunger Strike & Ask Yourself What Happened to Your Culture?

"Over 200 insurance companies have stated they do not provide (re)insurance services to companies operating in Burma. They have set an example ..."

The Arrest of Radovan Karadzic -- "Triumph for the rule of law"

Sustainability & Human Rights are Inseparable -- The Blind Will to Drill and Dam is Not Only Absurd, It is Obscene

1,000 Tibetans Disappeared, Almost 100% of Darfur Refugee Women Raped, Volunteer Grave-Diggers Arrested By Burma's Junta; Still Going to the Olympics?

From Katmandu to Karthoum, from Burma to Beltwayistan, the Conscience of the World Seems Cut-Off from Action; Here's How to Break the Spell

Burma Crisis Update: Perhaps Chevron Should Re-Name the Yadana Pipeline After Condolezza Rice?

Why Protecting the People of Darfur, Tibet & Burma is in Our Own Self-Interest; & What These Crises Tell Us about Our Own Slide into the Pit

Wangari Maathai Will Not Carry Olympic Torch, In "Solidarity with Other People on the Issues of Human Rights in ... Darfur, Tibet & Burma ..."

Human Rights Update: China Seals Tibet's Borders; "Lhasa long ago became China's Gaza Strip"

How About Making Hypocrisy An Olympic Competition?

Human Rights Update: H.H. Dalai Lama to the World -- "Please investigate ... cultural genocide is taking place"

Human Rights Update: H.H. Dalai Lama to the Chinese -- "address the long-simmering resentment of the Tibetan people"

Burma Crisis Update: Non-Violent, Democratic Resistance of Burmese People Offers Stark Contrast to US Political Scene

Human Rights Update: UN General Secretary Reports that the Number of Entities Using Child Soldiers has Increased

UNIFEM Asks You to Take a Stand in the Global Fight to End Violence Against Women; It Will Cost You Nothing But the Time to Type Your Name

Human Rights Update: Most Basic Rights of Women Under Attack in Iran, the Congo & Even in Evo Morales' New Bolivia

Those in the Developed World Who Think What is Happening in Kenya is Something Distant & Peculiar to the African Continent are Living in a Dream ...

The Real War on Christmas Targets the Displaced of Darfur & New Orleans

While Bush Mangles Names & Ducks Out Early on Phony Peace Conference, Tutu Manifests the Power of the Prophetic Tradition & Speaks Old Testament Truth

Human Rights Update: Ending Violence Against Women is a Global Imperative; UNIFEM Launches Campaign

Burma Crisis Update: Human Rights Watch Names Corporate Names, Calls for Targeted Sanctions Needed on Petroleum Industry

In Burma & Sudan, Business As Usual -- What Must & Can Be Done Now!

Burma Crisis Update 11-10-07: Amnesty International on "Grave & Ongoing Human Rights Violations"; Alternate Media Vital to Resistance

Burma Crisis Update: An Open Letter to the Executives of Chevron

In This Century of Crisis, Empowering Women is Vital if the Human Race is to Prevail, i.e., Evolve

Burma & Darfur Update: Hypocrisy of Great Nations is Toxic, Complicity of Major Banks & Corporations is Shameless

Child Soldiers: Planetary Problem Persists, Burma Now Worst Case; Meanwhile, in the World's Mega-Slums, Millions More Go Uncounted & Unacknowledged

Human Rights Update 10-6-07: Chevron, Condoleeza Rice & the Burmese Thugocracy

Human Rights Update: Blackwater, Burma, Darfur & You

Human Rights Update 9-24-07: Don't Miss the Multiple Meanings of this Moment in Burma

Human Rights Update 9-23-07: Will You Step Outside & Join the Burmese in 15 Minutes of Prayer?

Human Rights Update 9-24-07: Don't Miss the Multiple Meanings of this Moment in Burma

Human Rights Update 9-23-07: Will You Step Outside & Join the Burmese in 15 Minutes of Prayer?

GS(3) Thunderbolt 9-14-07: In Pakistan, the Dharma Repels an Attack; In Burma, the Dharma Sparks an Uprising

Human Rights Update 9-13-07: UN Adopts Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Human Rights Update 9-6-07: In the 21st Century, Sane Men are Feminists -- UNIFEM Works to Dismantle the Edifice of Dysfunction

Human Rights Update 8-9-07: Indigenous People's Day -- "The white roots from the Tree of Peace go in the four directions."

Human Rights Update (6-26-07) -- A Victory for Child Soldiers in Sierra Leone, But What About the Child Soldiers in the Streets of the USA?

Human Rights Update 6-12-07: Remember Aung San Suu Kyi, Honor Her Sacrifice, Reflect on Your Own Freedom & What You Choose to Do With It

Hard Rain Journal 5-8-07: In Russia, China and the USA -- Permutations of Orwell's Nightmare Vision

Hard Rain Journal 4-21-07: Human Rights Update -- In War and Poverty, Children Forsaken on a Planetary Scale

GS(3) Thunderbolt: Statement of His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the Forty-Eighth Anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising Day

Words of Power #33: A Quarter-Century Ago, Jimmy Carter Warned of This Grim Period, His Prophetic Call was Not Heeded

Hard Rain Journal 2-28-07: Human Rights Update -- Naming Names in Darfur and Ten Steps the USA Must Take to Redeem Itself

Hard Rain Journal 2-17-07: UN Millennium Goals and Human Rights Update -- Healing Balm for the World? Feed Children, Empower Women

Human Rights and UN Millennium Goals Update -- The Real Poverty is on Easy Street

Hard Rain Journal 1-8-07: Human Rights and Environmental Security Update from Burma, Cambodia and Mekong River

Hard Rain Journal 12-4-06: Human Rights Update -- Unless You Protect Women, Children and Indigenous Peoples, You Cannot Achieve Real Security

Hard Rain Journal 11-14-06: Human Rights Update -- Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

Words of Power #3: Gangstas = Child Soldiers Without A Country

Hard Rain Late Night: Bob Dylan -- Mr. Tambourine Man (NewPort Folk Festival, 7-25-65)

Hard Rain Late Night -- Bob Dylan -- Mr. Tambourine Man (NewPort Folk Festival, 7-25-65)

Click here for Hard Rain Late Night Music Video -- Archive

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Hard Rain Journal 7-26-07: In Defense of John Conyers

Image: Themis, Goddess of Justice

A new wrinkle over the apparent politicization of the Department of Justice (DOJ) emerged on Tuesday during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing when a freshman Democratic lawmaker revealed the contents of a May 2006 memo. The memo, signed by embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, granted Vice President Dick Cheney extraordinary authority to review active federal civil and criminal investigations at the DOJ. At the time the memo was signed by Gonzales, Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was preparing his defense on obstruction of justice and perjury charges involving the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson's name. Also, the special prosecutor who secured an indictment in the case on behalf of the government was reportedly trying to determine whether Cheney and numerous other White House officials also unmasked Plame's identity to reporters and lied about it to a grand jury and FBI investigators. Jason Leopold, Truthout, 7-26-07

Hard Rain Journal 7-26-07: In Defense of John Conyers

By Richard Power

I intended to write about the DoJ scandal in this post.

This is an important juncture.

Much of what I suggested in Hard Rain Journal 3-25-07: DoJ Purge Update: Four Blockbusters that Have Not Hit -- YET has come to pass and the rest is on its way.

But unfortunately, there is something else that must be addressed.

Since early in the year, I have written that speculation about the 2008 presidential race is an indulgence the progressive movement could not afford, because the fate of the republic would probably be decided in the next six months or so.

Since early in the year, I have also written that we were on course for a constitutional crisis of unprecedented significance.

Both admonitions are turning out to have been true. But in regard to the criticality of this long hot summer, I did not foresee (or perhaps more honestly I chose to deny) the possibility that the progressive movement would begin devouring itself half-way into the great battle.

And in regard to what is indeed the most dire constitutional crisis in our history, I did not foresee (or perhaps more honestly I chose to deny) what it would be like to have a constitutional crisis which the mainstream news media and by extension the general population did not acknowledge.

It is almost unbearable to contemplate losing this republic because the forces of liberalism, i.e., those who reflect the vision and intent of the founders, fell on their own in the most important battle.

Nevertheless, that appears to be a distinct possibility.

In May, when Cindy Sheehan announced her "retirement," I wrote about her with the same respect (see Hard Rain Journal 5-29-07: Cindy Sheehan Says "Goodbye, America ..." Consider Why She was Shunned & Marginalized) that I have written abour her since she first showed up at Bush's faux ranch, established Camp Casey and changed the direction of the country.

But less than two months later, she turns up in Beltwayistan, leading a protest against Rep. John Conyers (D-MI).

John Conyers?

Yes, John Conyers, who has a long career of courageous and principled leadership, and who held meetings on the stolen election of 2004 and the Downing Street Memo in the basement of the House, when no other high ranking elected official would touched those issues.

To make matters worse, Media Benjamin and Ray McGovern, two people I admire for their conscience and their courage (e.g., Hard Rain Journal 8-1-06: Ray McGovern on the Neo-Con Amateur Hour Performance of "No Exit"), not only participated, but also subsequently wrote hit pieces on Conyers.

Media wrote that Conyers has betrayed the country (Common Dreams, 7-24-07), and Ray wrote that John Conyers was no Martin Luther King (Common Dreams, 7-24-07).

Well, Cindy should have taken some more time off.

And Media Benjamin who has been called a traitor many times herself should no better than to say that John Conyers has betrayed this country.

So should Ray McGovern. No, John Conyers is not Martin Luther King. Nor are any of those who attempted to embarrass him by getting arrested in his office. I doubt Rep. Conyers sees himself as another MLK, and I hope none of them do either.

And, as someone who witnessed the course of Dr. King's career in real-time, and wept for joy at his speeches, and have drawn on the story of his life, and the content of his speeches ever since, I suggest that Dr. King would not have attacked John Conyers. He would not have marched on John Conyers.

Dr. King would have understood our circumstances better. He would not have flinched or compromised, but he would not have attacked those who were trying to make a stand.

You cannot make a stand, without sure footing, and Conyers, along with Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) are trying to establish that sure footing, even as they fend off attacks from the Bush-Cheney regime, and its enablers in the US mainstream news media and the Cult formerly known as the Republican Party. Conyers, Leahy and Waxman have fought against the invasion and occupation of Iraq since its inception, and have led congressional struggle against the Bush-Cheney regime's lawlessness, throughout this long seven-year descent into hell. They are not disingenuous. They are not flacks for the Democratic Leadership Council. They are not Stenny Hoyer ("D"-MD) or Sen. Bill Nelson ("D"-FL). Go sit down in their offices. But they would not have met with you, and given you the opportunity to insult them, would they?

Yes, people are dying. Yes, people are doing to die every day until this foolish military adventure ends. But if the progressive movement turns on itself, at this critical juncture, and begins to eat its own, all is lost.

Of course, even if those among us who draw the most attention had acted with less naivety in the last few days, we would still be faced with the incredible circumstances of having been thrust into the grips of a constitutional crisis of unprecedented proportions while the US mainstream media, for most part, either looked the other way or relegated coverage to Tony Snow's sound-byte calling the actions of Conyers, Leahy, et al "pathetic."

The _resident and VICE _resident not only hold themselves above the law, but openly declare their lawlessness and dare anyone to stand against them, in the full confidence that if Sen. Mitch McConnel's filibustering clique cannot protect them, then certainly the Rove-picked US attorney for DC and the Rove-picked federal judges on the Supreme Court and the district Court of Appeals will protect them, with the complicity of George Stephanopoulos, Jim Lehrer and the others who refuse start their broadcasts by calling this moment what it is -- a moment that will either be the end or the beginning for us all. Go sit down in their offices. But they would not have met with you, and given you the opportunity to insult them, would they?

And you attack John Conyers?

Attacking symbols raises awareness, but you do not raise awareness by attacking the wrong symbol, you sow confusion and defeat.

The US body politic is sick with an infection and delusional from the resultant fever. Our democratic institutions have been twisted into deformities by a campaign finance system gone mad with corporatist money. The "Fourth Estate" might as well be hopped up on crack, because it is certainly selling itself for the next pipe full.

Perhaps Conyers, Leahy and Waxman will be able to bring this regime to its knees with what they are exposing, perhaps they will not. But it is worth the shot. And they have earned a chance at it.

Trust me, the DoJ scandal has enough in it to end the crime spree.

Al Capone was brought down on tax evasion.

Nixon was not forced out of office because of Vietnam, or Cambodia, or Chile. He was forced out of office because of some adhesive tape left on a door knob at the Watergate and some audio tapes left running in the Oval Office.

But alas, the USA had not fallen as low as it has in the last thirty years.

And it may be that the leaders of the resistance within the Congress fail, and worse yet, that the Democratic Party allows a nominee who is part of the problem instead of part of the solution.

Who will speak for you then? The shell of a man formerly known as Ralph Nader? He was wrong in 2000, he was wrong in 2004 and he will be wrong in 2008, no matter who is the Democratic nominee.

If Conyers, Leahy and Waxman are thwarted, and that sad scenario becomes our future, then we will all meet, as Robert F. Kennedy prophesized at Live Earth (7-7-07) "on the barricades."

John Conyers, despite his age, will be there beside you.

He deserves better.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Climate Crisis Update 7-24-07: Even Though The Sand Grains In The Hour Glass Are Dwindling Away, There is Still Time -- What Will You Do?

Image: Variations of the Earth's surface temperature: year 1000 to year 2100, IPCC

The chief executives of 160 largest United States companies released a new policy statement on climate change here, Tuesday, warning that ‘’the consequences of global warming for society and ecosystems are potentially serious and far-reaching’’ and asserting that "the time for action is now." Jim Loeb, Inter Press Service, 7-18-07

Climate Crisis Update 7-24-07: Even Though The Sand Grains In The Hour Glass Are Dwindling Away, There is Still Time -- What Will You Do?

By Richard Power

The planet, as a whole, is in dire need of bold leadership.

So are most families, most circles of friends and most organzations around the world; tragically, and embarrassingly, this is particularly true in the USA.

Here is an update, which includes excerpts from four recent news stories and one recent op-ed piece, along with some suggestions on how to participate in the struggle to save the world as we now it, and make it much better in the process. Please share this update with your family, friends and colleagues and discuss what you are going to do.

Global rainfall patterns have already begun to change, with profound implications:

A study has yielded the first confirmation that global warming is already affecting world’s rainfall patterns, bringing more precipitation to northern Europe, Canada and northern Russia but less to swathes of sub-Saharan Africa, southern India and Southeast Asia.
The changes “may have already had significant effects on ecosystems, agriculture and human regions that are sensitive to changes in precipitation, such as the Sahel,” warns the paper, released on Monday by Nature, the British science journal.
Agence France Press, 7-23-07

Global warming could trigger hurricanes, or tropical cyclones, over the Mediterranean sea, threatening one of the world's most densely populated coastal regions, according to European scientists.
Hurricanes currently form out in the tropical Atlantic and rarely reach Europe, but a new study shows a 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) rise in average temperatures could set them off in the enclosed Mediterranean in future.
"This is the first study to detect this possibility," lead researcher Miguel Angel Gaertner of the University of Castilla-La Mancha in Toledo, Spain, told Reuters on Monday.
Reuters, 7-17-07

Once again, intense heat, floods, and huge fires are causing hardship across Europa:

Up to 500 people have died in a heatwave in the past week in Hungary, the country's chief medical officer said Tuesday as Europe struggled to cope with extreme weather conditions.
Soaring temperatures across southern and eastern Europe claimed scores of lives, including in southern Italy where a wildfire Tuesday burned two people alive in their car and suffocated another two when it spread to a beach nearby.
At the same time, Britain struggled to cope with the worst flooding for 60 years, which has seen some towns turned into islands and hundreds of thousands of homes left without power or running water.
Agence France Press, 7-24-07

Even what you order for dinner has an incredible impact:

A kilogram (2.2 pounds) of beef causes more greenhouse-gas and other pollution than driving for three hours while leaving all the lights on back home, according to a Japanese study.
A team led by Akifumi Ogino of the National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science in Tsukuba, calculated the environmental cost of raising cattle through conventional farming, slaughtering the animal and distributing the meat, New Scientist reports in next Saturday's issue. ...
A Swedish study in 2003 suggested that organic beef emits 40 percent less greenhouse gases and consumes 85 percent less energy because the animal is raised on grass rather than concentrated feed.
Agence France Press, 7-20-07

And yet, even as the sand grains fall within the hour glass, most people still do not understand their personal responsibility or the need for urgent national and international action:

Metaphorically, we are at the doctor’s office, looking at the horrible test results of years of bad habits. The doctor is bluntly giving us the bad news — the Earth is plagued with a very deadly disease. You choose, says the doctor: I can give you a list of things you can do to help the Earth today, next month and 10 years from now. I can give you ways to slow down, stop and even reverse the spreading of the disease. Or, he says, there is the easier option — continue on with your normal life, do nothing and accept the likely consequences when this disease metastasizes.
Anyone with a brain would say to the doctor, “Are you crazy? Of course I want the first option!” Yet actually making an effort to shake environmentally bad habits that have become so second nature to us is another story altogether. Trade in my car for a bicycle? Sacrifice a vacation or two by plane? No, thank you.
Lauren Adler, Global Warming: Identifying The Problem Is Not The Solution, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 7-23-07

To sign the Live Earth Pledge, click here.

Want to wake people up to the US mainstream news media's complicity in misinforming the public on global warming and climate change? Click here for Media Matters' compilation of "Myths and Falsehoods about Global Warming".

Want to participate in the effort to mitigate the impact of global warming? Download "Ten Things You Can Do"

Want to join hundreds of thousands of people on the Stop Global Warming Virtual March, and become part of the movement to demand our leaders freeze and reduce carbon dioxide emissions now? Click here.

For a directory of Words of Power Climate Crisis Updates, click here.

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Hard Rain Late Night -- Sheryl Crow -- Favorite Mistake (w/ Eric Clapton)

Hard Rain Late Night -- Sheryl Crow -- Favorite Mistake (w/ Eric Clapton)

Click here for Hard Rain Late Night Music Video -- Archive

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Special Edition: Words of Power Interviews John Perkins -- Ask Yourself Four Essential Questions

Secret History of the American Empire

"I consider myself a true and loyal American. This too contributed to my rage. My ancestors fought in the Revolution and most other US wars. My family was predominanntly conservative Republican. Having cut my literary eye-teeth on Paine and Jefferson, I thought a convervative was someone who believed in the founding ideals of our country, justice and equality for all; I was angered by the betrayal of these ideals in Vietnam and by the oil company-Washington collusion that I was destroying the Amazon and enslaving its people." John Perkins, Secret History of the American Empire

Special Edition: Words of Power Interviews John Perkins -- Ask Yourself Four Essential Questions

By Richard Power

Bush and Cheney, as offensive as they are to many of us -- left, right and center -- did not emerge suddenly, as if from nowhere. They did not amass such power, with so much impunity and hubris, over night. Bush and Cheney, and the Cult formerly known as the Republican Party are the end result of granting corporations the rights of human individuals and declaring that money is free speech. These two delusional notions have led us into a hell realm here in the USA. And getting out of it demands real change inside of ourselves especially, as well as in how we grow our culture, and the way we do business.

Just as you cannot understand the political reality in the USA, without understanding the corporate reality, you cannot change the political reality in the USA, without changing the corporate reality.

That's why it is so vital that John Perkins' voice be heard.

Two years ago, after over a decade of briefing executives, and leading security training in over thirty countries, I found myself living off the grid and becoming active as a citizen journalist. The choice was sudden, stark and rooted in spiritual, political and psychological imperatives. Life was too short. I was finished talking to people who didn't want to deal with the implications of Rita and Katrina six months before they hit, or bird flu in Indonesia six months before it broke out, or terror attacks in Mumbai, Istanbul and Madrid six months before the carnage. My eyes were open, and I could not tolerate those who allowed their fixation on the bottom line to blind them to the reality that the bottom line was being erased. Climate change, religious extremism, corporatism, over population, peak oil and other factors were contributing to a 21st Century Crisis of Security, Sustainability and Spirit. I had to be part of the solution instead of pretending I wasn't part of the problem.

A wise friend of mine in Beltwayistan kept saying, "You have to read Economic Hit Man." When I finally did, it answered that disturbing question, "what is wrong with this picture?" It confirmed my suspicions and corroborated my own experience.

John Perkins, author of Economic Hit Man, has come out with an important follow-up, Secret History of the American Empire: Economic Hit Men, Jackals and the Truth about Global Corruption (Buy it at Buzzflash!) In it, he tells the stories of other men and women, who worked as economic hit men and jackals in the drive to empire. And it does, as David C. Korten remarks, evoke Graham Greene.

But even though Perkins' illuminates the dark despair that our corporate culture is in deep denial about, he also highlights great hope, as in this extraordinary passage:

"The last two people in line were four men: two wore business suits and ties and two, who were much younger, were dressed in blue jeans and polo shirts. The older men handed me their World Bank business cards. One of the younger men spoke up. "Our fathers gave us permission to tell you this," he said. "We've watched them go off to work every morning at the Bank dressed ..." -- he pointed at them -- "like this. But when protesters congregate here in Washington to demonstrate against the Bank, our fathers join them. We watch them go incognito, wearing old clothes, baseball caps, and sunglasses to support those people because they believe they are -- and you are -- right."
Both of the older men shook my hand vigorously. "We need more whistle-blowers like you," one of them said.

Yes, there is hope, and there is still time, even now.

In Secret History of the American Empire, Perkins asks four essential questions:

Are we in a position where we can actually hope to effect change?

Are we certain that we want change?

Is there a unifying principle that will validate our efforts?

What can we each do?

Here is a Words of Power interview with John Perkins:

Words of Power: The first question comes out of my own experience not too dissimilar from yours. Professionally, I spent the 1990s working in high profile position, I had lots of media exposure, I testified before the US Senate, I was working with the FBI and other government agencies on important security issues related to cyber crime and economic espionage. Politically, I spent the 1990s as a Clintonista --- NAFTA? Fix it later. GATT? Fix it later. Telecommunications Act? Fix it later (and Gore might have) -- just thwart Gingrich and Starr at all costs. Then 2000 came, and there was no chance to fix it later. Indeed, we were being dragged off into an alternative timeline in some nightmare parallel universe. I fled my role which would have put me too close to the new administration, and went to work in the corridors of corporate power. Soon, I realize I was working for the kind of men (yes, mostly men) who were fueling the machine that had taken over our government (both sides of the aisles). Still, I tried to do my job. I briefed people on climate change, and how flawed the so-called "war on terrorism" really was, and how much trouble would come for us all if Iraq was invaded and the Middle East was destabilized. The political commissars don't like that sort of talk. My position became uncomfortable. I chose to leave and write and speak out on my own. Consequently, my income decreased by several digits -- but I can sleep at night. My question is what is your advice to others who like yourself, or me more recently, find themselves waking up inside the corportocracy, and now see the world clearly, and have no inclination to deny what they see? Should they walk away? Should they stay in and fight? What is your advice? What is your warning? What is your counsel?

John Perkins: A long list of things we all can do is included in "Secret History." Don't buy sweatshop-made goods, conserve energy, support organizations that are fighting to create better social, environmental, and economic conditions, etc. . .Most importantly we must each follow our individual passions and use our talents to create a sustainable, stable, and peaceful world. My passion is writing and hopefully I have some talent for doing that. Whatever your background and experience, you have passion and skills. You and I can take different paths -- but we should work together to reach this common objective: a sustainable, stable, peaceful world for us and future generations.

Words of Power: One of the main issues I have written about over the last seven years has been the depraved state of the US mainstream news media, its failures to perform its vital role of truth-telling about war, corruption, hypocrisy, militarism, corporatism in Beltwayistan (that's what I call DC). We know this complicity is the result of monopolization and the corporatist stranglehold on news departments. The lack of truth-telling is not a conspiracy, it is achieved by simply by the imposition of corporate culture and budget-cutting. I am curious to hear your thoughts on the role of US mainstream news media, in general, and on how they have dealt with. or ignored your story, in particular? Is your new book getting the attention it deserves? I doubt it.

John Perkins: I have been largely ignored by the mainstream press. Most of the media is either owned outright by big corporations or supported through their ads. They don't want their readers and listeners to hear my message. However, despite this, "Confessions" is in its 63rd week on the New York Times bestseller list (#22 this week) and "Secret History" hit the list after its 5th day in publication. People want to learn the truth and they want to understand the opportunities for creating a better world. The "alternative" media and the Internet are very powerful.

Words of Power: Both of our lives have been touched by the way of the shaman, and the wisdom of indigenous cultures. No one who has gone to Uluru or Machu Picchu or Uxmal with an open heart can remain the same. No one who has slept in a rainforest or eaten off a leaf in a shack can remain the same. No one who has heard the rattle or smelled the sage can remain the same. Tell us what indigenous cultures offer the industrial and post-industrial societies? And is there a way to integrate that wisdom without losing the technological progress, and yes, some social and scientific progress? Can we have the best of both worlds? Or are we so lost we are going to have to choose?

John Perkins: It would take a book or two to really address this issue. Let me just say that, for me, indigenous cultures have shown that when people are motivated to change, we can make it happen very quickly. Today, the world we know is threatened. Any good shaman recognizes that he or she can and must turn this around. "Secret History" is devoted to shapeshifting us out of a self-destructive empire and into a sustainable, stable, and peaceful world. We have all the resources we need to make this happen.

Words of Power: Once the veils have been ripped away from one's eyes, it is difficult to know what to trust and what to turn away from. What are your thoughts on the IMF and the World Bank? Are these institutions redeemable? Are they functioning for the good at least in part? What do you feel about Bill Clinton's Global Initiative? Or the work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, e.g., the funding of Kofi Anna's Green Revolution project in Africa? What would you like to say about the UN Millennium Development Goals? Is it a worthy focus for people wanting to make a difference in the world? I guess the general question is what global institutions if any are working or are redeemable and can be worked through? Where, how do we begin to turn this all around?

John Perkins: Thousands of good people work for these institutions. None of the ones I know personally -- and none of the CEOs I have met -- want global warming, to see Florida covered by the ocean, or witness the destruction of the world's forests. But all these people operate under the assumption that the bottom line rules: windfall profits for stockholders. We must convince ourselve and them that there is a more important goal and that our very survival as a species in a world we recognize depends upon achieving that goal of a sustainable, stable, and peaceful world.

Words of Power: What is the most important message you want people to take away from this book? What are the key points you want to impress on your readers? What is the truth you are telling and what do you encourage people to do?

John Perkins: We should take great hope from the ways we've turned corporations and governments around in the recent past -- as itemized in "Secret History." Now we must take that to new levels. Rather than focusing on specifics, such as cleaning up rivers, getting trans-fats out of fast-foods, and installing air bags in our cars, we must persuade our leaders to set a single overriding goal of creating a world our grandchildren will be proud to inherit.

Other Words of Power Interviews

SPECIAL EDITION: Words of Power Interviews George Lakoff on Impeachment, 2008, the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy and Progressive Think Tanks

SPECIAL EDITION: US V. Bush, The Indictment Has Been Written, Words of Power Interviews Elizabeth de la Vega

SPECIAL EDITION: Words of Power Interviews Nomi Prins, Author of "Jacked: How 'Conservatives' are Picking Your Pocket

SPECIAL EDITION: Generation Debt -- Why Now Is A Terrible Time To Be Young, Words of Power Interviews Anya Kamenetz

SPECIAL EDITION: "The More Nefarious Form of Corruption is That Which is Legal" -- Words of Power Interviews David Sirota

SPECIAL EDITION: "Until this issue is burning on the mind of every citizen" -- Words of Power Interviews Mark Crispin Miller

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

GS(3) Thunderbolt 7-19-07: In Darfur and Japan -- The Earth is Singing A Promise & A Warning, But Who is Listening?

Image: Frida Kahlo, Love Embrace of the Universe

GS(3) Thunderbolt 7-19-07: In Darfur and Japan -- The Earth is Singing A Promise & A Warning, But Who is Listening?

By Richard Power

Get down low, put your ear to the earth, and listen. It is strong medicine for both body and soul.

In the last several days, two important stories have from risen up from the underground.

Like two distant songs, they are reverberating, merging into one, echoing up through long-forgotten caverns.

One song is a promise, the other is a warning.

In Darfur, the Goddess Gaia has shed tears, and so, a scientist has discovered the "imprint of a vast, ancient underground lake."

It could bring an opportunity for peace in the long-term, if genocide can be thwarted in the short-term. (Hundreds of thousands have already died.)

Meanwhile, in Japan, the Goddess shook her dread locks, and so, a 6.8 magnitude earthquake has revealed the vulnerabilities of the world's most productive nuclear power plant.

The leak of radioactive water into the Sea of Japan is at least 50 times worse than originally reported.

The plant was not built to withstand an earthquake higher than a magnitude of 6.5, and it may have been built directly over a fault line.

The human race has to open its mind and heart to the earth, and embrace it deeply -- only then will we find the collective soul that we have lost.

And only when that collective soul is found again, we will be able to come to grips with the 21st Century security and sustainability crisis.

Here are excerpts from the two news stories, with links to the full texts:

A newly found imprint of a vast, ancient underground lake in Sudan's Darfur could restore peace to the region by providing a potential water source to an area ravaged by drought, a U.S. geologist says.
"What most people don't really know is that the war, the instability, in Darfur is all based on the lack of water," said Farouk el-Baz, director of Boston University's Center for Remote Sensing.
The potential water deposits were found with radar that allowed researchers to see inside the depths of the desert sands. The images, el-Baz said, uncovered a "megalake" of 19,110 square miles (30,750 sq km) -- three times the size of Lebanon. ... His initiative, called 1,000 Wells for Darfur, has gained the support of the Egyptian government, which has pledged to start building an initial 20 wells.
El-Baz, who expects groundwater deposits below the surface can be drilled for water, hopes for backing from other regional governments and has urged non-governmental organizations to get involved.
Tanzina Vega, Reuters, 7-18-07

The world's biggest nuclear power station faces an uncertain future after it emerged today that it may lie directly above the fault line that triggered this week's earthquake in which nine people died and more than 1,000 were injured.
The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant - the biggest in the world in terms of output capacity - has been shut down indefinitely after it shook violently when an earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale struck Niigata prefecture in northern Japan on Monday. The plant was not designed to resist shaking caused by earthquakes of greater than magnitude 6.5.
On another day of embarrassment for Japan's nuclear power industry, the Tokyo Electric Power company [Tepco], which operates the plant, said the amount of radioactivity in water that leaked into the sea during the earthquake was 50% higher than it originally said. The firm blamed a calculation error and said the levels were still well within safety standards.
Justin McCurry, Guardian, 7-18-07

If you want to work on overcoming the planet's energy and environmental security challenges, take the Live Earth Pledge! Click here.

If you want to help save Darfur, here are sites that will show you how:

Save Darfur!
Enough: The Project to End Genocide and Mass Atrocities
Genocide Intervention Network
Mia Farrow

Click here for a Words of Power Archive of posts on the Crisis in Darfur

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Hard Rain Late Night: Sade -- Kiss of Life (SDSU 1994)

Hard Rain Late Night: Sade -- Kiss of Life (SDSU 1994)

Click here for Hard Rain Late Night Music Video -- Archive

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Hard Rain Journal 7-16-07: Iran Switches to Trading Oil in Yen, Fidel & Ron Paul Concur on Threat of New 9/11 -- Will Recent History Repeat Itself?

Hard Rain Journal 7-16-07: Iran Switches to Trading Oil in Yen, Fidel & Ron Paul Concur on Threat of New 9/11 -- Will Recent History Repeat Itself?

By Richard Power

Fidel Castro, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) and I probably agree on next to nothing.

But what we do agree on is profoundly disturbing.

Republican presidential candidate, Rep. Ron Paul, said the country is in "great danger" of the U.S. government staging a terrorist attack or a Gulf of Tonkin style provocation, as the war in Iraq continues to deteriorate.
The Texas congressman offered no specifics nor mentioned President Bush by name, but he clearly insinuated that the administration would not be above staging an incident to revive flagging support.
"We're in danger in many ways," Paul said on the Alex Jones radio show. "The attack on our civil liberties here at home, the foreign policy that's in shambles and our obligations overseas and commitment which endangers our troops and our national defense.
." Politico, 7-13-07

Cuban president Fidel Castro said the United States government has all the needed capacity to prevent any attack on its territory, unless for political reasons, “it’s interested that it should happen”.
Writing in the island’s Juventud Rebelde Sunday edition Castro suggested that Washington has deliberately failed to stop terrorist attacks against US citizens because it needed to “deliver a bang” that would justify its war on terror.
Mercosur, 7-16-07

Last week, in another delusional act, the US Senate voted 97-0 to pass a resolution sponsored by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), censuring Iran “for what it said was complicity in the killing of U.S. soldiers in Iraq.” (Think Progess, 7-15-07)

Of course, no similar resolutions were offered suggesting a censure of Saudi Arabia for funding the fighters responsible for most US military deaths in the Mega-Mogadishu of Iraq, or a censure of Pakistan for giving cover to Al Qaeda, the Taliban and probably Osama bin Laden himself.

Why the double standard?

Well, the answer is complex and, yes, it too is profoundly disturbing.

But for now just consider this Friday the 13th news, not mentioned by the Sunday morning saber-rattlers:

The dollar was driven down against the Japanese yen this afternoon, hit by the news that Iran had asked Japan to pay for its oil purchases in the Japanese currency and not in dollars.
Iran has sent a letter to Japanese refiners, signed by Ali A Arshi, the general manager of crude marketing and exports for Iran's national Iranian Oil Company, according to a report by Bloomberg.
The letter asks for yen payments "for any/all of your forthcoming Iranian crude oil liftings." The request is for all shipments "effective immediately".
Japan's oil payments to Iran rose 12 per cent last year to 1.24 trillion yen (£5 billion).
Times of London, 7-13-07

Saddam Hussein was in the process of switching to the Euro before he was removed from power by the same geopolitical forces that installed him in the first place.

Will you and I witness another 9/11 style attack followed by an attack on Iran, culminating in the seizure of its oil fields, just as 9/11 itself was used as the excuse for for the invasion of Iraq and the occupation of its oil fields?

Lieberman has no credibility.

Why would any resolution with his name on it be allowed to reach the floor of the US Senate?

Unfortunately, while control of the Senate hangs in the balance, Lieberman has undo influence.

The Bush-Cheney national insecurity team has no credibility either.

No military action they propose should receive the support of the US Senate; no good can come from anything they initiate.

They should be removed from power through the means provided for in the US Constitution. And if that course of action is not politically viable, then, at the very least, they must be ostracized for the remainder of their ill-gotten regime.

On that much at least, Castro, Ron Paul and I can probably agree.

Click here for a Words of Power Archive of posts on 9/11, Terrorism, Etc.

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Hard Rain Journal 7-14-07: An Insult Not Only to Hinduism, but to Christianity & the Founding Fathers; Was It Also An Implicit Threat to All of Us?

Image: Ganesha, The Elephant God

"I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish Church, by the Roman Church, by the Greek Church, by the Turkish Church, by the Protestant Church, nor by any Church that I know of. My own mind is my own Church." Tom Paine, The Age of Reason

Hard Rain Journal 7-14-07: An Insult Not Only to Hinduism, but to Christianity & the Founding Fathers; Was It Also An Implicit Threat to All of Us?

By Richard Power

Earlier this week, in Hard Rain Journal 7-11-07: Air America's Mike Papantonio Exposes Discovery Institute, the Wedge Document and the Fraud of "Intelligent Design", I drew your attention to one aspect of the danger of religious extremism in the USA.

Unfortunately, here is another story that compels me to touch the third rail of religion in politics.

I am not a Hindu devotee, but as a life-long student of religion, philosophy and mysticism, I cherish its beauty and depth.

First of all, Hinduism is not even its name.

That's the name the British colonialists gave it during their days of empire.

Just as Buddhism is more accurately called Buddha Dharma, Hinduism's true name is Sanātana Dharma (i.e., "Eternal Law").

"Hindu" simply means someone from the area of the river Hind.

Of course, there are cults within Sanātana Dharma, just as in Christianity and Islam. It, too, has its violent fundamentalists, just as Christianity and Islam do. And yes, there are abusers of women and exploiters of the poor, just as in Christianity and Islam.

But Sanātana Dharma is a rich, sophisticated and inspiring tradition.

Overflowing with psychological and cosmological insights, Sanātana Dharma is magnetized with a powerful, ancient magic, working through sound (mantra), soma (yoga) and visual arts (mandala).

It is disturbing enough that it has taken over two hundred years for a Hindu prayer to be uttered as the morning invocation for the US Senate.

It is hard to imagine why all of the world's major religions traditions have not already been honored in this way. (There are only a few -- e.g., Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, Bahai, Hinduism -- and all of them are reflected significantly in the population of the USA.)

But as this omission was being rectified, something even more disturbing occurred.

Three reich-wing "Christian" extremists from "Operation Save America" stood up in the gallery and disrupted the beautiful moment. They shouted “Lord Jesus, forgive us father for allowing a prayer of the wicked, which is an abomination in your sight.” (Think Progress has the video.)

Both their action and the group's subsequent press release exhibited a profound ignorance not only of Hinduism, but of their own religion (Jesus was the personification of tolerance and open-heartedness) and of the Founding Fathers (e.g., George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Tom Paine, Benjamin Franklin and others) who were largely Deists and Masons, and very definitely not Christians.

But were the disrupters doing something more than venting hate?

Were they also issuing an implicit threat to the members of the US Senate, and by extension to all of us? Where they really saying, "Our side shoots doctors, and you can get shot too."

Remember Tim McVeigh and Eric Rudolph. There are more of them out there.

If we succeed in turning the USA away from this accelerating descent into de facto theocracy, the McVeighs and Rudolphs will get desperate and lash out.

If we do not succeed, and the USA continues to increasingly become a so-called "Christian Nation," they will become emboldened and even more bullying.

Either way, there is trouble ahead.

What happened to Salman Rushdie and Theo van Gogh at the hands of Islamic extremists could well happen to some of us here -- at the hands of Christian extremists.

Leadership must shown at all levels of our society. We must cultivate tolerance and diversity in all walks of US life and all avenues of US culture. We must reaffirm the separation of Church and State in the US body politic.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Hard Rain Journal 7-11-07: Michael Moore Brings Us Closer to 2nd Boston Tea Party, But Not Just Boston, All Over the USA, & Not Tea This Time -- TVs

Image: Boston Tea Party, 1773

That's why anybody who hears anything of what you say now about universal healthcare should question what you're saying, what you're putting out there. You didn't do the job for us with the war. You're not doing it with this issue. And I just -- I just wonder when the American people are going to turn off their TV sets and quit listening to this stuff. Michael Moore on CNN, 7-9-07

Hard Rain Journal 7-11-07: Michael Moore Brings Us Closer to A 2nd Boston Tea Party, But Not Just Boston, All Over the USA, & Not Tea This Time -- TVs Instead

By Richard Power

I have held a vision in my consciousness for almost a decade now, a vision of a second Boston Tea Party. This time it would not focus on the East Indian Trading Company, it would focus on the fistful of giant corporations that control the major networks and cable news organizations in this country. It wouldn't just be held in Boston, it would be held all across the USA; and it wouldn't be crates of tea that would be thrown into the harbor, it would be TV sets.

This vision of mine, of course, is symbolic and poetical. The environmental impact alone would be reason enough not to literally hurl TV sets into our harbors. (Although you could use bio-degradable imitation TV sets made from recycled paper. Hmmm.)

Well, in confronting Wolf Blitzer on CNN, Michael Moore has brought us closer to that second Boston Tea Party, i.e., the American TV Party -- one that occurs in the consciousness of the citizenry, not on the harbor waters or in the broadcast studios.

The truth is dawning for more and more people, too slowly, of course, but it is dawning none the less. And it may not be too late.

What is the truth? The US mainstream media is not independent of government, nor is it controlled by government -- both are owned lock, stock and barrel. Not in the same way, of course, the news media is literally owned by that fistful of giant corporations, while the government is owned, by extension, through the campaign financing system.

And who are they owned by? By corporations that have been bestowed the rights of individual human beings, spending money that has been sanctified as free speech.

It's that simple.

Here is an excerpt from the CNN transcript of Moore's confrontation with Blitzer (watch the video too, Crooks and Liars has it):

BLITZER: Michael Moore is joining us now live from Detroit. Michael, thanks very much for coming in. You want to respond to anything ...

MOORE: First of all, Wolf, yeah, well -- yeah, I'd like about 10 minutes to respond to what was said.

BLITZER: Give us a couple of headlines, what you'd like to say.

MOORE: I don't talk in sound bites. So -- that report was so biased. I can't imagine what pharmaceutical company ad's coming up right after our break here.

But why don't you tell the truth to the American people? I mean, I wish that CNN and the other mainstream media would just for once tell the truth about what's going on in this country, whether it's with healthcare -- I don't care what it is. I mean, you guys have such a poor track record.

And for me to come on here and have to listen to that kind of crap. I mean, seriously, I haven't been on your show now for three years. The last time I was on, you ran a similar piece about "Fahrenheit 9/11" saying this can't be true what he's saying about the war, how it's going to be a quagmire, the weapons of mass destruction.

You know, and -- why don't you start off actually with my first appearance back here on your show in three years and maybe apologize to me for saying that three years ago, because it turned out everything I said in "Fahrenheit" was true. Everything has come to happen.

Everything I said. I mean, I was -- I took you in that film to Walter Reed Hospital and it took three years before you or any of the rest of the mainstream media would go to Walter Reed Hospital and see what was happening to our troops. So for me to have to sit here and listen again to more crap about socialized medicine or how the Canadians have it worse than us and all this, all the statistics show that we have far worse healthcare than these other industrialized countries.

We're the only ones that don't have it free and universal. And, you know, there's a -- there's a -- you said that Germany was the only one that was better than us in terms of wait times. The Commonwealth Fund last year showed of the top six countries, we were second to last, next to Canada. It showed that Britain, for instance, 71 percent of the British public, when they call to see a doctor, get to see the doctor that day or the next day. It's 69 percent in Germany. It's 66% in Australia. And you're the ones who are fudging the facts. You fudged the facts to the American people now for I don't know how long about this issue, about the war.

And I'm just curious when are you going to just stand there and apologize to the American people for not bringing the truth to them that isn't sponsored by some major corporation? I mean, I'll sit here for as long as it takes, if you can do that for me.

BLITZER: Just in fairness, we had a lot of commercials for "Sicko" that we've been running on CNN as well. So we have commercials. This is a business, obviously. But let's talk a little bit about ...

MOORE: You have a nightly medical report. You have something called "The Daily Dose." I watch CNN. You have it every day. "The Daily Dose" sponsored by -- fill in the blank. And you are funded by these people day in and day out. Don't even compare that to my movie being out for a couple of weeks and a couple of rinky-dink ads for 15 seconds. Come on. Come on, Wolf!

BLITZER: No, no -- I don't know if you're familiar with Dr. Sanjay Gupta's record, but I would stack up his record on medical issues with virtually anyone in the business.

MOORE: All right. So when I -- when I now put on my Web site, as I will do tonight, how his facts were wrong about the $7,000 that we spend, it's actually -- I've read one report now, it's even more than $7,000 that we spend per person each year in this country. I'm going to put the real facts up there on my Web site so people can see what he said was wrong.

BLITZER: Well, if we get that confirmed, obviously, we'll correct the record. Sanjay - but I'm just saying ... MOORE: Oh, you will? You'll be getting it.

BLITZER: Sanjay Gupta is not only a doctor and neurosurgeon, but he's also an excellent, excellent journalist. Look, I saw the film, and it's a powerful, powerful ...

MOORE: I saw Dr. Sanjay Gupta over there embedded with the troops at the beginning of the war. He and the others of you in the mainstream media refused to ask our leaders the hard questions and demand the honest answers. And that's why we're in this war -- we're in the fifth year of this war because you and CNN, Dr. Gupta, you didn't do your jobs back then and now here we are in this mess.

What if you'd actually done the job on that? That's why anybody who hears anything he anything of what you say now about universal healthcare should question what you're saying, what you're putting out there. You didn't do the job for us with the war. You're not doing it with this issue. And I just -- I just wonder when the American people are going to turn off their TV sets and quit listening to this stuff.

BLITZER: Sanjay Gupta did an excellent job covering that war. He was with the Navy's medical doctors and he went in and risked his life and actually performed neurosurgery on the scene.

MOORE: You have the questions. Why are we here? That's the question. Why are we here in this war? Where's the weapons of mass destruction? Why didn't you -- why did it take you so long, Wolf, to finally take on Vice President Cheney? It took you to 2007 before you made the man mad at you.

BLITZER: Those are fair questions.

MOORE: Four years!

BLITZER: Let's talk a little ...

MOORE: Where were you?

BLITZER: Let's talk about "Sicko." That's the film that you're here to talk about.

MOORE: Yeah, let's forget that. Yeah, OK.

BLITZER: There's plenty to talk about the war. There's plenty to talk about with "Sicko."

MOORE: I just haven't seen you in three years, so I was wondering how you felt for three years of not seeing me after you trashed "Fahrenheit" and said that I was wrong about, oh, yeah, this war was -- come on, I'm just waiting for an apology.

BLITZER: Michael, we've invited you on numerous occasions. Unfortunately, you've declined our invitations the past three years but there are plenty of times we asked you to come on the show and plenty of times you've declined.

MOORE: Really? And you wanted to apologize? Why did you want to talk to me?

BLITZER: No, we wanted to interview you. That's what we do on television. Let's ...

MOORE: You don't have to apologize to me. Maybe just apologize to the American people and the families of the troops for not doing your job four years ago. We wouldn't be in this war. If you had done your job. Come on. Just admit it. Just apologize to the American people.

BLITZER: Which of the presidential candidates who are out there right now do you think would do the best job fixing the nation's healthcare system?

MOORE: Well, the Democrats have to be asked some very specific questions. Too many of them are saying, well, they're for health care for all people. Very few of them are being as specific as Mr. Kucinich is in saying, well, I support the Conyers bill in Congress HR-676. That's what we need to hear.

And I would like to hear what these other Democratic candidates are going to say and do in specifics in removing the private insurance companies from the equation. We shouldn't have profit involved when we talk about taking care of people's health.

BLITZER: Is there a candidate, though, you think -- is Dennis Kucinich your candidate? Who do you think -- I know in the film you go after Hillary Clinton. And you're very, very bipartisan in your criticism in the film, Democrats and Republicans.

MOORE: Yeah. When you say I go after, let's be clear. I actually think she did a very brave thing to try and address this issue 14 years ago. And they stopped her cold. They went after her with the same kind of, you know, trash pieces I just had to watch. And so that stopped her. And now we've had to suffer through 14 more years of having no universal healthcare in this country. Our own government admits that because the 47 million who aren't insured, we now have about 18,000 people a year that die in this country simply because they don't have health insurance. That's six 9/11's every single year.

If you times that by 14 since Mrs. Clinton was unceremoniously removed from the agenda here, she hasn't been able to talk about this. She hasn't really put forth her specific plan. I'm hoping that the people have gone to my movie, the people that are concerned about this issue, will write to Mrs. Clinton and say, please, universal healthcare that's free for everyone who lives in this country. It will cost us less than what we're spending now ling the pockets of these private health insurance companies, of these pharmaceutical companies. So there's still some chance to have an effect on people like her.

And of course, there's one candidate who isn't even in the race yet. I don't know if he will be. But he was right about the war before it began, unlike CNN -- did I mention that?

BLITZER: You did.

MOORE: And -- and he's right about global warming and he's right on this issue, too.

CNN Situation Room, 7-9-07

Go see Sicko, it is an evolutionary act.

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