Saturday, June 27, 2009

And That's the Way It Is, June 28th, 2009; Not ABC Weak in Revision, CBS Fork the Nation, NBC Meat the Press or CNN Lost Edition

Daryl Hannah in Clan of the Cave Bear

"If I sit silently, I have sinned." Mohammed Mossadegh

And That's the Way It is, June 28th, 2009; Not ABC Weak in Revision, CBS Fork the Nation, NBC Meat the Press or CNN Lost Edition

By Richard Power

It is only human nature to rant at the car radio, and in frustration, cry out to the heavens, "if only I were king," but, of course, it might be more germane to wish, "If only I were a TV network news anchor."

It could go something like this --

And now for a summary news and commentary on this last week's major stories:

The lead story, of course, is the Climate Crisis, the global emergency that threatens every nation, every economy, every ecosystem and every species.

In a narrow victory in the US House of Representatives, the Markey-Waxman "American Clean Energy Security" (ACES) bill was sent on to the US Senate ("Hail Mary, full of grace...") Is it enough? "No." Will the final product be even weaker once the powdered wigs of the Senate get a hold of it? Certainly.

But at least we have moved on from the suicidal debate about whether the crisis is real to the only slightly less exasperating debate about what we should do and how much it is going to cost.

After the bill's passage Friday evening, Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore issued a statement: This comprehensive legislation will make meaningful reductions ... The next step is passage of this legislation by the Senate to help restore America's leadership ... We are at an extraordinary moment, with an historic opportunity to confront one of the world’s most serious challenges. Our actions now will be remembered by this generation and all those to follow – in our own nation and others around the world. Al Gore, 6-26-09

In related news, preeminent US climate scientist, NASA's James Hansen, who has been a Hero of the Evolution, took his principled leadership a step farther this week; he went to the coal fields of West Virginia and got himself arrested along with actress Darryl Hannah and other activists. (Understory, 6-24-09)

In Iran, massive protests in the aftermath of a fraudulent "victory" in the recent presidential election have been answered with a savage crackdown. In the past several days, evidence of brutal beatings, especially of women, the televising of coerced and false confessions, the seizing of people's mobile devices in the streets, and terrifying raids on private residences in the dark hours of the night have escaped Iran's censors.

Ironically, Barack Obama began the week being denounced by the US right-wing for not ratcheting up the rhetoric on the crisis in Iran, and by the end of the week, he was being denounced by Ahmendijad for ratcheting up the rhetoric.

Ahmendijad and the US right-wing have two troubling sentiments in common:

1. They are both completely disingenuous.

2. Neither wants the Iranian people's uprising to succeed.

The US neo-con power cluster has no more enthusiasm for a vibrant, independent democratic Iran than the powers that be wanted the Mossadegh regime to succeed in the early 1950s. They want an excuse for war. When Powell said, "You break it, you own it" in arguing against the invasion and occupation of Iraq, the neo-cons said, "Yeah, baby."

But this "sound and fury signifying nothing" pales in contrast to breaking (and heart-breaking) news from Iran: Rafsanjani has now capitulated to the dictator, and Mousavi has agreed to call no further demonstrations "without a permit." Have the brave Iranians dying in the streets and their brothers and sisters languishing in prison been abandoned?

And in the third story of the evening, from Irrawaddy, the paragon of independent journalism for the struggling people of Burma, news that the Junta wants the Bomb, and they may have a supplier:

Relations between Burma and North Korea have attracted intense attention in recent weeks, as suspicions grow that the two pariah states are joining forces in a bid to thwart international sanctions against them.
Two recent developments have greatly added to worries that these two countries are becoming a double threat to regional security. The first was the departure of a North Korean cargo ship, the Kang Nam 1, from a port near Pyongyang on June 17 ... The second was the leaking of documents and video footage showing caves and tunnels being constructed in Burma with the help of North Korean engineers—possibly as part of a controversial nuclear program by the Burma junta.
Irrawaddy, 6-27-09

Tell me, which will come first in Burma, the freeing of Aung San Suu Kyi or the acquiring of North Korean nuclear weapon?

Oh yes, in other news, global pop music legend, Michael Jackson, whose artistic genius and tortured psyche captured headlines for decades, has died suddenly at his home.

But we have our priorities straight here at Words of Power, and we are out of time, so you will have to turn to the cable news networks wall to wall coverage on that story.

And that's the way it is, June 28th, 2009, I am not Walker Cronkite, and I sorely miss him.

In lieu of "Goodnight," we leave you with this You Tube exclusive, the full CNN audio interview with a witness of the "massacre at Baharestan Square" (where a peaceful demonstration in front of the Iranian parliament was met with a sadistic surprise attack by militia and security forces of the Islamic government) The interview was subsequently censored when replayed. This is the original full length audio:

For the Words of Power Climate Crisis Updates Archive, click here.

For an archive of Words of Power Human Rights Updates, click here.

For an archive of Words of Power posts on Election Security, click here.

Richard Power's Left-Handed Security: Overcoming Fear, Greed & Ignorance in This Era of Global Crisis is available now! Click here for more information.

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Hard Rain Late Night: Sinead O'Connor - Óró 's é do bheatha 'bhaile (Live, Dublin)

Hard Rain Late Night: Sinead O'Connor -- Sinead O'Connor -- Óró 's é do bheatha 'bhaile (Live, Dublin)

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

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

In the Dark of Night in Tehran, in Insein Prison, & in Darfur, the Birds are Singing for the Coming of the Dawn -- Do Not Deny Them, Listen

Medicine Wheel, a Native American sacred site and National Historic Landmark in Wyoming

Aung San Suu Kyi, Your heart beats with my heart. My eyes see what you see. My belief is your belief. And my life is connected to thousands of universes, as is yours. Every twinkle of the star must travel billions of years to be seen by us.
But our minds do not have to travel at all to be seen by each other.
Because we are altogether.
Yoko Ono, Imagine Peace, 6-19-09

In the Dark of Night in Tehran, in Insein Prison & in Darfur, the Birds are Singing for the Coming of the Dawn -- Do Not Deny Them, Listen

By Richard Power

It was not by random that the wheel was chosen as the image that best expressed the way of Buddha Dharma, nor is it a coincidence that the wheel was also chosen as the Native American symbol of the universe and the all the powers it contains.

The Dharma Wheel and the Medicine Wheel are one; and as that one Great Wheel turns, with it turn the seasons, the planets, and all life everywhere.

As I write this, the Great Wheel is turning again. It is the moment of the solstice.

In the Northern Hemisphere spring has turned into summer; in Southern Hemisphere, fall has turned into winter.

The Great Wheel turns on and on, grinding away both good and evil, and milling something beyond both from the grains that the process yields.

Aung San Suu Kyi spent this solstice, the day after her 64th birthday, in Insein Prison.

Hollywood celebrities, singers, writers and dignitaries tweeted, uploaded and signed petitions for the release of Burma's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who turned 64 in prison Friday. Here are excerpts from birthday messages that appear on a Web site created in her honor: ... Author Salman Rushdie wrote: "On this day, my birthday and yours, I always remember your long ordeal and silently applaud your endurance. This year, silence is impossible... " Irrawaddy, 6-19-09

Last year, and the year before that, and the year before that, etc., Aung San Suu Kyi spent her birthdays under mere house arrest.

One week before this solstice, Sudan researcher Eric Reeves posted a warning about a push to "re-write the Darfur narrative":

The historical narrative of the Darfur genocide is presently being re-written. Despite dozens of human rights reports that have established the basic realities of ethnically-targeted human destruction in Darfur and Eastern Chad over the past seven years, an effort is being made to minimise the scale of that destruction, elide the role of ethnicity in the conflict and downplay the responsibility of the Khartoum regime. This large-scale revision has been taken up by those – particularly on the left – with an ideological aversion to humanitarian intervention. If the catastrophe can be portrayed as non-genocidal and essentially local in character, then advocacy efforts – initially for humanitarian intervention and currently for robust support of a weak and ineffectual UN/African Union peace operation – are misguided and misplaced.. Eric Reeves, Sudan Research, 6-15-09

Although Reeves had cited "particularly the left," and singled out author Mahmood Mamdani, two days later, I was disconcerted to read the following lead to a Washington Post story:

President Obama's special envoy to Sudan, retired Air Force Maj. Gen. J. Scott Gration, said Wednesday that the Sudanese government is no longer engaging in a "coordinated" campaign of mass murder in Darfur, marking a shift in the U.S. characterization of the violence there as an "ongoing genocide." Washington Post, 6-17-09

Yes, if you cannot solve a problem, if it would come at too high a geopolitical or economic cost, why not just re-frame it, and pretend it is something other than what it is or that it is no longer what it once was. Is this indeed what is happening now?

And in Tehran, on this solstice, the blood of freedom fighters has been shed.

The uprising of the Iranian people after the theft of their presidential election will mark this moment in history for the foreseeable future; and the image of a young woman bleeding to death will haunt us all until those responsible meet with the wrath of justice (whether human or divine):

A young woman who was standing aside with her father watching the protests was shot by a basij member hiding on the rooftop of a civilian house. He had clear shot at the girl and could not miss her. However, he aimed straight her heart. I am a doctor, so I rushed to try to save her. But the impact of the gunshot was so fierce that the bullet had blasted inside the victim's chest, and she died in less than 2 minutes. The protests were going on about 1 kilometers away in the main street and some of the protesting crowd were running from tear gass used among them, towards Salehi St. The film is shot by my friend who was standing beside me. Please let the world know. Posted on Nico Pitney's Iran Live Blog, Huffington Post, 6-20-09

But do not despair.

There is no turning back, the Great Wheel grinds on ceaselessly.

Dawn emerges mysteriously, glimmering, from the darkest hours of the night.

Listen for the songs of the birds.

They are singing through danger on the rooftops in Tehran. They are singing through despair in Burmese prison cells. They are singing through desperation in the refugee camps of Darfur and Chad.

Listen for the song of the birds.

They are the heralds of our future.

Do not deny them.


Poem for the Rooftops of Iran - June 19th, 2009

For an archive of Words of Power posts on Election Security, click here.

For an archive of Words of Power posts on the Crisis in Darfur, click here.

For an archive of Words of Power Human Rights Updates, click here.

Richard Power's Left-Handed Security: Overcoming Fear, Greed & Ignorance in This Era of Global Crisis is available now! Click here for more information.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Brock, Walsh & Boehlert Deliver A Powerful Message for the Progressive Media & Citizen Journalists: Savor the Victories, But Strengthen the Capability

George Orwell, author of 1984 and Animal Farm, was also a BBC journalist

[The bloggers] ushered in this whole revolution in media criticism, and holding the press accountable. And that sent shock waves through the mainstream press. For years they had heard 'liberal bias, liberal bias.' Now all of a sudden they had these new kids on the block that were sort of eating their lunch. Eric Boehlert, author of Bloggers on the Bus

Every issue that you care about right now is subject to a media, which despite the success that we have had in recent years, is still problematic. We just had an election night with a sweeping progressive victory, on which Tom Brokaw still declared that this is a center-right country. Our work isn't done. David Brock, Media Matters

It is worse than the Clinton years ... There is something worse out there right now, and we have all got to get our minds around the best way to fight it. Joan Walsh, Salon

Brock, Walsh & Boehlert Deliver A Powerful Message for the Progressive Media & Citizen Journalists: Savor the Victories, But Strengthen the Capability

By Richard Power

Imagine what the frayed fringe of the right-wing would make of this scene.

David Brock, CEO and founder of Media Matters, Joan Walsh, Editor-in-Chief of, and Eric Boehlert, a Media Matters Senior Fellow and author of the newly released book, Bloggers on the Bus, three influential figures in the rise of the progressive media, coming together for a panel discussion on where we have been, where we are and where we are going.

The venue? On Market Street, in the twilight of a beautiful spring evening, in a modest-sized auditorium in the same U.S. government building that holds the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

Why the Fed? Not because the progressive media is being floated by that "international banking conspiracy" that the frayed fringe fears so deeply. But because the building also houses Working Assets, a corporation that takes social responsibility seriously.

How did I end up here in the front row?

Well, what happened to Susan McDougal came to mind, and then what happened to Duval County, Florida, and then what didn't happen to the Presidential Daily Briefing of 8/6/01, and then so much more, a flood of insults and obscenities.

Prior to launching Words of Power in August 2006, I blogged as Liberation News Service from June 2003 until January 2006. During that period, I often signed off with the slogan, 2 + 2 = 4. It was, of course, a reference to George Orwell's 1984, in which "enhanced interrogation techniques" were used to get Winston Smith to accept that 2 + 2 = 5 because Big Brother said so. And in the dark heat of those wretched years, it seemed that we were engaged in resisting a collective brainwashing along similar lines. What Mike Malloy dubbed the "Bush-Cheney crime family" held sway over the incredible power of the national security state and the bully pulpit of the presidency, and could rely on not only the propaganda muscle of the "Republican noise machine" but also the complicity of the mainstream news media.

But now, in 2009, even though the right-wing's hold on the national security state has been broken, and the bully pulpit of the presidency has been wrested from it, we are still engaged in a great struggle. It is as if, with its command and control functions knocked it, this vast drone army is just flailing around and crashing into everything, still insisting that 2 + 2 = 5.

Healthcare? 2 + 2 = 5.

Climate change? 2 + 2 = 5.

As I have written in recent posts, we are at a critical juncture, we, as a people, must fix healthcare, and we, as a planet, must fix the climate. There is no wiggle room. There is no buffer. This is it. But a third of the populace, and worse, almost half of the U.S. Senate, is still in the grip of 2 + 2 = 5. How can a large group of people get anything done that demands collective action, if a third to a half of them at any given moment, do not accept the universal truth of mathematics, i.e., 2 + 2 = 4.

These are the circumstances in which we find ourselves.

Meanwhile, elements of our body politic have reached unprecedented level of toxicity:

Three Pittsburgh police officers were fatally shot when they responded to a domestic dispute at the home of the alleged killer, Richard Poplawski, who had posted numerous racist and anti-Semitic messages on the white supremacist website Stormfront and elsewhere. Southern Poverty Law Center, 4-6-09

George Tiller, a Kansas physician, was shot to death in church on Sunday. He was one of only a handful of doctors in the United States providing late-term therapeutic abortions for women in need - women whose pregnancies threatened their lives or their health, and women who learned that they were carrying foetuses with severe abnormalities. Guardian, 6-1-09

Authorities have arrested a man who allegedly told bank tellers while cleaning out his savings account in Utah that he was on a mission to kill President Barack Obama. The Secret Service said Daniel James Murray, 36, was arrested Friday outside a casino in Laughlin, Nev., a gambling town 100 miles from Las Vegas on the Nevada-Arizona line. Huffington Post, 6-6-09

Following the shooting of a Holocaust Memorial Museum security guard allegedly by a white supremacist on June 10, Fox News commentators disagreed about whether the shooting validates a recent Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report alerting law enforcement to an increased threat from "rightwing extremists," including "white supremacists." Media Matters, 6-11-09

The leader of Minutemen American Defense (MAD), a nativist extremist group that conducts vigilante patrols on the Arizona-Mexico border, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder Friday for her alleged role in the May 30 slayings of a Latino man and his 9-year-old daughter in Pima County, Ariz. Southern Poverty Law Center, 6-15-09

Here are some highlights from the Brock-Walsh-Boehlert dialogue:

Swiftboat 2004 vs. Swiftboat 2008

To illustrate how far we have come, Brock contrasted the swiftboating of John Kerry in 2004 with the swiftboating of Barack Obama in 2008.

"With Obama Nation, you saw the results of our work on the air. We got our the facts into the hands of everyone interviewing the author or writing about the book. We looked at every news story written about [Unfit for Command] the anti-Kerry book published in August 2004, more than 80% of those news stories wrote right off the book, and took those allegations, and gave them a free ride. But in 2008 looking at the same variable, i.e., all the news coverage of Obama Nation, it was flipped, more than 80% of the stories were focused on the lack of credibility of the book.

"I have been privileged to witness, over the last four or five years, a big shift, maybe even a revolution in the way information is moving on-line, and with the progressive capacity to deal with everything I just described.

"Three things have been accomplished, broadly speaking: first, the capacity to push-back and marginalize the Republican noise machine, which had been operating with total impunity until this response came along; second, to hold the mainstream media to account, to make them realize that both sides were watching, when I started this they were under scrutiny only from the right, and so balancing that has not only strengthened journalism but strengthened democracy; and third, the progressive ability not just to criticize, but increasingly make and shape news. None of that existed until fairly recently."

Smearing of Anita Hill vs. Smearing of Judge Sonia Sotomayor

Continuing, Brock contrasted the efficacy of attacks on Anita Hill vs. those on Judge Sonia Sotomayor:

"I participated in the smearing and savaging of Anita Hill in 1993, and there was really no response at that time from progressives or from much of the media. We were able to go on a rampage and get away with it. An entirely different situation rolled out with the Sotomayor nomination. As soon as the nomination was made the right was like a moth to a flame, and portayed her as a dumb, affirmative action pick. Pat Buchanan called her a 'Quota Queen.' Rush Limbaugh compared her to David Duke, and said the way you get promoted in the Obama administration is 'hating white people.' Karl Rove said he knew 'stupid people who graduated from the Ivy League.'

[NOTE: Joan interjected 'He sure did,' and the audience responded with sustained and raucous laughter.]

"We went to work. I had always thought instinctively that someday we would get to the point when the Republican noise machine would begin to work for us. So right out of the box, Limbaugh calling her a racist, and Gingrich twittering that she was a racist really helped framed the story and show the opposition as unreasonable and unhinged, and also it made Republicans in the Senate kind of scared about what their own spokespeople and their own media was doing. There was aggressive fact-checking not only by Media Matters but by places like Salon to get out the truth about her record ... When you look back on it, I believe that without the independent effort that we have created, not the White House's effort, but the independent effort, that week would have played out very differently. That is the kind of capacity we have built up, and we need to continue to build up. Every issue that you care about right now is subject to a media, which despite the success that we have had in recent years, is still problematic. We just had an election night with a sweeping progressive victory, on which Tom Brokaw still declared that this is a center-right country. Our work isn't done."

Worse than the Clinton Years

Brock framed a question about the toxicity level of the right-wing:

"Eric Boehlert was on CNN with Tom Tancredo when Tancredo compared La Raza to the KKK. Joan Walsh had an interesting experience with Bill O'Reilly last Friday night. All three of us are close to what happened in the Clinton years. What is going on? Where is this coming from?"

Joan Walsh shared a compelling historical perspective:

"It is worse than the Clinton years. Many of us had criticisms of Bill Clinton, and thought he was too much of a triangulator. But he really did have a social democratic agenda, he really was in his way trying to lead the country to the left ... he had a controversial way of doing it, for the left, people didn't always like it, but he drove the right crazy.

"I sit here as someone who remembers the wilderness, when Salon was in the wilderness, and the New York Times was just going "Whitewater! Whitewater!" "Steno Sue" Schmidt was just sitting outside Starr's office saying "What do you have?" Reporting on the investigation totally uncritically. And we stood up with Joe Conason and Gene Lyons and said, "This is really ridiculous, you're paying a bunch of grifters from Arkansas to testify falsly."

"And in the Florida recount, when Eric worked for Salon, and we were looking at Duval County, and we were really alone. Donna Brazile sent us a desperate e-mail, 'Oh my God, keep it up, thank you so much.' We were saying, 'Fight! Count the votes. Go to every county. 22,000 black voters had their votes cast aside.'

"Today, there is a lot of hatred and demonization that is really terrifying. Bill Clinton was called a hound dog and a womanizer, but this is different.

"The great thing is that when I go on Bill O'Reilly, unbidden, people from Media Matters, as well as the whole left-wing blogosphere, sending me facts. There is a textural infrastructure, there are all of these researchers that know every time he every said 'Dr. Tiller the Baby Killer.' We didn't have that in 1998.

"So, it is so much better, and yet, at the same time, there is this tenor of hatred and demonization that is arguably and I am careful about saying this but seems likely to have contributed to a climate of violence, in which we have our first abortion provider murdered in a lot of years, and have someone go into the Holocaust Museum and shot an African American guard, and someone killed the police in Pittsburgh because he thought Barack Obama was going to take away his guns.

"There is something worse out there right now, and we have all got to get our minds around the best way to fight it."

Silver Lining

Boehlert went into a further elaboration of the bad news and then articulated the good news:

"It is worse because, if you look at the Clinton coverage early on, to find the really hateful, crazy, loony stuff, you really had to look. There were fax networks. People were sending around faxes. They would stand by their fax machines and wait for the new crazy stuff to come over. They could get a handful of AM talk radio show hosts to repeat this stuff. The Wall Street Journal would sort of wallow in some of it. It was not in the mainstream. Rush Limbaugh had a syndicated TV show for two years, he did not do any of that stuff. It was considered just beyond the pale to really traffic in that kind of hate. But now you just turn on Fox News almost any hour of the day, or Limbaugh, or Savage, or the others, what I have been calling the 'Militia Media' rhetoric, it is the same sort of vigilante-style rhetoric of the 1990s that said Bill Clinton was going to usher in 'the New World Order' and take your guns, and things like that, but now we are seeing it just dumped into the mainstream in a very dangerous way. That's what is worse. That what is so dangerous. And that is what has created this really frightening climate. But on the flip-side, as Joan said, Salon was all alone, there was nobody else writing the things we were writing, we were battling the New York Times, they were the problem.

[NOTE: Walsh interjected, "the liberal media," which brought more laughter from the audience.]

"Yeah. They were the engine driving all of this stuff. But today, as Joan said, talking about her appearance on O'Reilly, and all the twittering, I can't tell you how many Facebook friends I have that posted that clip within 15 minutes last Friday night. It was everywhere. It was just going around and around. That obviously did not exist ten years ago, it did not really five years ago. If this same group of people had gotten together five or ten years ago there would have been no way for them to communicate with each other in an effective and efficient way. That is what the silver lining of the last decade, the creation of this Netroots community and the Blogosphere. Media Matters has become an absolutely central part of the Netroots community, and a sub-section of that has been this wild growth of the liberal Blogosphere."

Legends of the Blogosphere

Next, Brock focused the conversation on Boehlert's book, and on the impact of progressive bloggers in general:

"Let me lay out a little bit of the landscape. We have institutions like Media Matters and the Center for American Progress. Then you have for-profit media, e.g., MSNBC, the Huffington Post and Salon. But [Bloggers on the Bus] is about the third category, the kind of accidental empire of the bloggers, who with a few exceptions, are not affiliated with organizations or institutions, and didn't have blueprints or plans to do what they have done."

Boehlert continued:

"A lot of them started at Salon: Jerome Armstrong of MyDD, Digby at Hullabaloo, Duncan Black whose blog is Atrius at Eschaton. They all got their start at Salon in Table Talk. That was just the very simple early days of just going on-line to find other progressives. 'There just have to be some out there.' No one was seeing them on TV. No one was seeing them on MSNBC during the impeachment fiasco. And between the impeachment, and the Florida recount, and the run-up to the war, people just couldn't throw anything more at the TV. They weren't hearing a liberal voice anywhere on TV. So they turned to their laptops and said, 'I am just going to start writing.' If I don't, I am literally going to go crazy, and this will be my outlet. That's when people begin to realize that probably the most important lesson of the decade was that they were not alone. The media was telling them that they were alone, the politicians were telling them that they were alone. The pundits weren't writing anything they were interested in, or waging the fights, even the so-called 'liberal' columnists. Despite all of that, they went on-line and discovered that there were an enormous number of us. 'We can start this community, we can start fact-checking the press, and start launching our own progressive initiatives. And where it is now is almost unrecognizable from where it was in 2002 or 2003.

"So like Joan said the bad news is that the hate has been taken up to an extraordinary, and very dangerous degree. The only good news is the rapid response, and the infrastructure, and the organized push-back that absolutely did not exist until Salon came along, and then bloggers on their own decided we can do this.

"The pioneers, like Atrios (Duncan Black), Jane Hamsher, Glenn Greenwald, Crooks and Liars, people like that, really revolutionized, even before Media Matters, media criticism. Media criticism had mostly been the province of academic journals, and just a handful of mainstream writers. The bloggers targets were the Bush administration and the press, and they couldn't decide which one they were more angry at. And they just started holding the press accountable, in a very serious, factual, insightful, and sort of shit-kicking way. If you read early Digby and Jane Hamsher, they were just not going to take this stuff anymore. They ushered in this whole revolution in media criticism, and holding the press accountable. And that sent shock waves through the mainstream press. For years they had heard 'liberal bias, liberal bias.' Now all of a sudden they had these new kids on the block that were sort of eating their lunch.

"It was completely unplanned. They had no money. No blueprint. A lot of them didn't even meet each other for years. It really happened in spite of itself, as compared, for example, to the Christian Right, with all the money and infrastructure that they had.

"John Amato was a professional saxophone player. He toured in Europe with Duran Duran. He grew up in Queens. He started an eight piece band in high school and started playing discos. He moved to Los Angeles, and started a computer supply company, while he was on the road with other bands he would sell parts from his cell phone. He had a very serious injury in 2004, and he was bed-ridden. He was watching Bush's re-election. He was watching way too much Fox News. He was going insane, and he didn't want to break his TV. He said, 'I am going to start a blog,' and his friends said, 'you are crazy, don't start a blog.' He said, 'I am going to start a blog, and I am going to put videos on it.' You have to understand in 2004 there was no You Tube, you couldn't put video on a blog. Whatever video was on-line, Comedy Central or CNN, was specifically put there in a way that you couldn't edit it. There was no way to get from the TV to the two-minute clip that we all take for granted now. John was reading all of this great media criticism, but he came from this entertainment and creative background, and he thought 'If people see what Bill O'Reilly is doing, if people see what Lou Dobbs is doing, it will have ten times more of an impact. But there was no way to do it. So he called a tech buddy of his, and they just sort of started hacking away ... they figured it out, the first video was the size of a postage stamp, and it took about four to get it from the TV to the computer, and you couldn't even really see it. But he thought it would change things, and it did. The site went up in September-October 2004, by the next summer, it was one of the most linked-to web sites in the Liberal Blogosphere ... It was a classic blog site, it reflected his personality, it had a lot of music, it was about him, it wasn't just wonky, and it wasn't just policy."

Walsh added some insights into another of the legends of the Blogosphere, Glenn Greenwald:

"We approached him and we asked him if we could affiliate his blog, and he asked for absolute freedom, which I gave him, I definitely give him ideas, and he is often really responsive, he can't be reigned in, because the only reason I would stop somebody is if they were inaccurate, and he never makes mistakes. I have made some media friends, because I go on these shows, and they will call me and they will be like 'Oh my God, Glenn Greenwald is saying the most awful things about me,' and I am like, 'OK, is it false?' Because we really will correct our facts. 'So what's the problem, if there is anything false we will correct it?' 'No, it's just not what I think about myself.' He has been so invaluable to us, because we really had taken on the issues, separate form Glenn and predating Glenn, we were the ones that released the second set of Abu Ghraib photos, and in addition to doing that, really delved deeply into the question of 'Was there really an investigation, and why did only the lowliest of the low go to jail, and no did no one higher than military police wind up in jail? Glenn brought so much intellectual and legal firepower to those inquiries. It was a great fit. He top two trafficked writers everyday, generally, except for my O'Reilly appearance, gets more letters than anyone else. He brought a kind of do it yourself mentality in the people who write letters. We actually created our own blogging site, called Open Salon, and some of Glenn's letter writers have gone over there, and started their own blogs. He really did inspire a generation of people to think, 'I can do this myself with research, and intelligence, and integrity, and develop an audience and make a difference. It has been a great collaboration."

For Words of Power's archive of posts on Corporate News Media Complicity, Power of Alternative Media, Propaganda & Freedom, click here.

Richard Power's Left-Handed Security: Overcoming Fear, Greed & Ignorance in This Era of Global Crisis is available now! Click here for more information.

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Hard Rain Late Night: Blue King Brown -- Stand Up

Hard Rain Late Night: Blue King Brown -- Stand Up

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

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Ode to Freedom Fighters: Iranian Election Theft, Show Trial of Aung San Suu Kyi, Slow Motion Genocide in Darfur & US Chamber of Commerce's War Chest

Easter Rising, Dublin, 1916

They think they have forseen everything, but the fools! the fools! the fools! they have left us our Fenian dead; and while Ireland holds these graves "Ireland unfree shall never be at peace." Pearse's Oration

Ode to Freedom Fighters: Iranian Election Theft, Show Trial of Aung San Suu Kyi, Slow Motion Genocide in Darfur & US Chamber of Commerce's War Chest

By Richard Power

Unfortunately, true freedom fighters, e.g, Federico Gabriel Lorca, Deitrich Boenhoeffer, the men who took the Post Office in the Easter Rebellion, etc., are easy to spot; they are typically alone, either unarmed or outgunned, and against the wall.

And yes, tragically, the young men, and women of all ages, bravely protesting the theft of the Iranian election are looking like true freedom fighters.

Where is the conscience of the world tonight?

Turning its face away, as usual; no matter what stern words of indignation it mouthes.

Where will it be tomorrow?

Well, politics is ugly, geopolitics is even uglier.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The ultimate question for a responsible man to ask is not how he is to extricate himself heroically from the affair, but how the coming generation shall continue to live. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, After Ten Years (December 1942)

Who remembers the name of the man who stood in front of the line of tanks at Tiananmen Square? Who knows what became of him?

In the West, there are few people I would want to listen to tonight, other than Robert Fisk or Noam Chomsky. (Although, to follow events in this crisis, I refer you to the excellent work of Juan Cole's Informed Comment and Steve Clemons' Washington Note.)

I rarely discuss or write about the Middle East anymore. Indeed, I joke that I will only discuss it with someone who can prove to me that he or she has actually read the whole of Fisk's The Great War for Civilization; or alternately, can pass a simple quiz on a cross-section of relevant historical facts. But I am not writing about the Middle East tonight anyway, or even really about Iran, I am just writing about true freedom fighters.

The theft of elections is particularly odious.

In the USA, the political establishment and the mainstream news media played Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil in 2000 and 2004, and the populace went along with it sheepishly. And the nation got what it deserved: an economic depression, 9/11, Iraq, the destruction of New Orleans, violations of the Bill of Rights and the Geneva Accords, the politization of the DoJ, the EPA, and other vital elements of government, the Soviet-style show trial of Don Siegelman, the betrayal of CIA secret agent Valerie Plame, eight years worth of denial and disinformation about global warming, the appointments of Roberts and Alito to SCOTUS, and so much more.

In 2006, unlike the sheeple North of the border, the citizens of Mexico resisted the theft of their presidential election; although despite their valiant protests, the wrong man was sworn in.

And now in 2009, in the Iranian election, after weeks of huge demonstrations in support of Moussevi's candidacy, we are supposed to believe that he lost his own district, and that the third contender received less votes than the number of his own campaign workers.

Well, at least In Iran tonight, young men, and women of all ages, are fighting in the streets and declaring their resistance from the rooftops.

But I do not think this will end like the Tiananmen Square protest. At least not over time. I do not think we will be looking back on this night two decades from now in the same way as we recently did on the anniversary of that massacre.

Meanwhile ...

Having wrested a reprieve from further descent into the maelstrom in 2008, the USA is struggling to deliver much needed medicine to itself on healthcare and to the planet as a whole on the Climate Crisis. This morning, I received e-mail from that frames the challenge painfully well: "The right-wing lobbyists at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will spend $100 million to defeat Obama's plans for health care and a clean energy economy. They call it their 'most important project' in nearly 100 years.", 6-13-09


In the slow-motion genocide going on in Darfur, the facts on the ground are so bad that it is actually considered progress when relief agencies are allowed to go back into the camps to reach those who should not have been abandoned to begin with: Sudan is allowing aid agencies expelled last March over war crimes charges against its president to return to Darfur and some will be restarting their operations, the UN humanitarian chief said ... Agence France Press, 6-11-09


In Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi remains in Insein Prison, awaiting an opportunity to appeal in her show trial, and throughout the country, tens of thousands of posters of her are being distributed by true freedom fighters: "There’s been a big demand, from students to housewives, from workers to monks,” said a Mandalay activist. Tee shirts bearing the word “Free” and a rose are also being distributed in some townships. A rose has come to be a symbol of Aung San Suu Kyi, and Burma’s censorship board sometimes bans its use in printed articles and verse. Irrawaddy, 6-11-09

In a mad world, the madman is sane.

We are all freedom fighters. But some of us -- young, intelligent and beautiful Iranians -- will not live through this night or the next few.

Federico Garcia Lorca

If I die,
leave the balcony open.
The little boy is eating oranges.
(From my balcony I can see him.)
The reaper is harvesting the wheat.
(From my balcony I can hear him.)
If I die,
leave the balcony open!
Federico Gabriel Lorca, Farewell

For an archive of Words of Power posts on Election Security, click here.

For a Words of Power Archive of posts on the Crisis in Darfur, click here.

For a directory of Words of Power Human Rights Updates, click here.

For the Words of Power Climate Crisis Updates Archive, click here.

Richard Power's Left-Handed Security: Overcoming Fear, Greed & Ignorance in This Era of Global Crisis is available now! Click here for more information.

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Sunday, June 07, 2009

In the Near Future, the Global Economy will be Dominated by China & the Biosphere will be Turned Hostile by Global Warming, Unless ...

Migrant Mother/Pea-Picker in the Dust Bowl, Photo by Dorothea Lange, 1936

The economic slowdown could last five to 10 years and cost trillions of dollars, a top US economist has warned. Paul Krugman, who won the 2008 Nobel prize for economics, told the BBC that any recovery would be "so slow it would feel like a recession".
He is urging the US government to introduce a second stimulus package of $500bn (£300bn) to boost the economy.
BBC, 6-3-09

Moscow’s finance minister says China’s Yuan the ’shortest path’ to new world reserve Agence France Press, 6-6-09

The global financial crisis is resulting in a "geopolitical metamorphosis" that is likely to boost China's standing in the world, the head of Germany's foreign intelligence service said ... Agence France Press, 6-2-09

"Rare-earth metals are crucial to the fututre of battery-powered cars. ... The robust international trade in illegally mined, quota-busting rare-earth metals highlights China's near monopoly on the raw materials for environmental technology - a 95 per cent dominance of world supply that is likely to become more widely noticed as China tightens its grip." The Australian, 5-28-09

In the Near Future, the Global Economy will be Dominated by China & the Biosphere will be Turned Hostile by Global Warming, Unless ...

By Richard Power

Let me suggest an alternate view of the current US political scene for you. I assure you that you won't hear anything close to it aired on those quadrants of opinion-shaping "moderated" by Bob Schieffer, George Stephanopoulis, David Gregory, Wolf Blister or Jim Lehrer.

We have a very narrow window to jump through, in terms of both economic recovery and the Climate Crisis, and if we do not make it, the global economy will soon be dominated by China, to the detriment of human rights and environmental security across the planet, and the biosphere in which we all live will turn against us because of our failure to mitigate the worst of global warming's impact.

In light of these dire circumstances, two legislative struggles may well determine our future, and neither of them have to do with war crimes or the best way to bail out banks that are "too big to fail." (The fate of Pinochet is a good example of why there is still time to extract accountability from the leaders of the Bush-Cheney regime, and the era of Larry Summers and his ilk will soon be finished, the momentum of consequences will dispense with their world-view.) No, the two legislative struggles that may well determine our future concern healthcare and climate change.

Both battles will be decided before the end of the year, and the future of this country could well depend on their combined outcome. The fate of the Obama-Biden administration, as well as the Democratic Party as we know it (or think we know it) will almost certainly be dependent upon the combined outcome.

The bottom line on both is to break open the lock on the collective psyche.

Ever since the so-called "Reagan revolution" ("Reagan counter-revolution" would be more accurate), the collective psyche of the USA has been conditioned to shut its eyes and ears to the evidence of all the other industrialized nations, and all of the other great democracies, choosing instead to cling to its own false memes about "socialized medicine." And so, our own healthcare system over the decades has deteriorated into a cruel and senseless racket.

But big pharma and the insurance giants are not the only interests that have undue influence over the US political establishment and mainstream news media, the fossil fuel companies have spent obscene amounts of money to not only deep-six the conscience of elected officials but to poison the minds of the populace with fake science produced by those Bobby Kennedy , Jr. astutely labels "biostitutes."

If we do not get meaningful healthcare reform, i.e., a true public option, then we, as a people, as a society, will probably not rise again from this current economic decline.

If we do not get meaningful action on energy security (i.e., independent and renewable) and climate change (i.e., both cap and trade and substantive investments and incentives for solar, wind, a new grid, etc.), then the USA will not be in position to lead the world in Copenhagen later this year; and if we do not lead the world, then the odds are not good for the future of the human race, and even if it does make it through the trials to come, the USA will be limping, perhaps crawling, far behind those nations that do come to grips with how they must re-tool their energy sectors.

Whatever healthcare legislation comes out of Congress this year will not be what we need, BUT if it includes a public option that is not neutered by some phony "trigger" it will be enough to break the lock on the collective psyche, and we will start accelerating on the curve toward true universal, single-payer system.

Whatever climate/energy legislation comes out of Congress this year will not be what we need, BUT if it establishes the premise that the Climate Crisis is a real, urgent and profound challenge, and that the only acceptable energy paradigm for the 21st Century is truly green, i.e., renewable and independent, it will be enough to break the lock on the collective psyche, and we will start accelerating on the curve toward the healing of the planet and the rescue of our future.

And yes, it will be a miracle if either piece of legislation makes it through the US Senate in sufficiently potent form. But extraordinary challenges bring forth miracles. While there is still hope, I urge you to beat the ear drums of your elected representatives in Congress and of the man you put in the White House.

Here are excerpts from two important briefing documents, Robert Reich's blog post on this crucial moment in the struggle for a healthcare bill, and a recent debate on the Waxman-Markey climate bill facilitated by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez of Democracy Now! (if you click on the link at the end of the excerpt, you can read the full transcript or better yet listen to the podcast):

I'ved poked around Washington today, talking with friends on the Hill who confirm the worst: Big Pharma and Big Insurance are gaining ground in their campaign to kill the public option in the emerging health care bill.
You know why, of course. They don't want a public option that would compete with private insurers and use its bargaining power to negotiate better rates with drug companies. They argue that would be unfair. Unfair? Unfair to give more people better health care at lower cost? To Pharma and Insurance, "unfair" is anything that undermines their profits.
So they're pulling out all the stops -- pushing Democrats and a handful of so-called "moderate" Republicans who say they're in favor of a public option to support legislation that would include it in name only. One of their proposals is to break up the public option into small pieces under multiple regional third-party administrators that would have little or no bargaining leverage. A second is to give the public option to the states where Big Pharma and Big Insurance can easily buy off legislators and officials, as they've been doing for years. A third is bind the public plan to the same rules private insurers have already wangled, thereby making it impossible for the public plan to put competitive pressure on the insurers. ...
All this will be decided within days or weeks. And once those who want to kill the public option without their fingerprints on the murder weapon begin to agree on a proposal -- Snowe's "trigger" or any other -- the public option will be very hard to revive. The White House must now insist on a genuine public option. And you, dear reader, must insist as well.
This is it, folks. The concrete is being mixed and about to be poured. And after it's poured and hardens, universal health care will be with us for years to come in whatever form it now takes. Let your representative and senators know you want a public option without conditions or triggers -- one that gives the public insurer bargaining leverage over drug companies, and pushes insurers to do what they've promised to do. Don't wait until the concrete hardens and we've lost this battle.
Robert Reich, 6-6-09

AMY GOODMAN: While several environmental groups have welcomed the passage of the bill through the committee, others remain critical of the bill’s concessions to the coal, nuclear, gas and oil lobbies; the scaling back of the greenhouse gas reduction target from 20 to 17 percent; and the giving away of the majority of pollution credits for free, instead of auctioning them. As many as eighty-two trade groups and companies lobbied on climate change this year, including Boeing, Shell, Chevron and the US Chamber of Commerce. ... Well, we’re joined right now by two guests in Washington, DC, for a discussion about the climate change bill.
Tyson Slocum is director of the energy program for Public Citizen, a group that’s called the bill a, quote, “huge disappointment” and “boon to energy industries.”
And Dan Lashof is director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Climate Center, that’s welcomed the bill as a, quote, “historic step to unleash clean energy and rein in global warming pollution.”
We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Dan Lashof, let’s start with you. Why do you think this bill is so good?
DAN LASHOF: Well, I think this is really a historic breakthrough, because the passage of this clean energy and climate protection bill yesterday in the Energy and Commerce Committee clears a pathway to get a bill on the President’s desk this year that will, for the first time, establish comprehensive national limits on the pollution that causes global warming. And that will mobilize investments in clean energy, in energy efficiency, that will put Americans back to work right away and will, over the longer term, steadily reduce the pollution that causes global warming and put the US back in the leadership position that it needs to be in in order to solve this problem.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Tyson Slocum of Public Citizen, you’ve said that what started out as a fairly good bill has gotten worse and worse. Why?
TYSON SLOCUM: Well, I mean, part of the problem was there were a significant amount of meetings that occurred behind closed doors in between the time that Chairman Waxman and Markey released their draft bill in March of this year and then they released a significant revision just last week. And in those closed-door meetings, they met with representatives of the oil and coal industries, and significant numbers of concessions were made.
Look, Public Citizen supports strong, effective climate legislation, and the fact is, is that this bill does not do that. We can talk about the aspirations of hoping to achieve greenhouse gas emissions reductions, but when you look at what this bill will do, it will not result in significant reductions.
It creates a legal right to pollute for industries and gives away credits for free to allow companies to meet those targets without having to pay for them. And that is simply not going to spur the kind of investments we need. ...
DAN LASHOF: Yeah, well, I think Tyson is missing the point. Right now, polluters can put as much carbon dioxide as they want in the atmosphere at absolutely no cost, with no legal limits on it. This bill would fundamentally change that and would drive down the pollution that causes global warming.
I think that Tyson would agree that Henry Waxman is the most effective environmental champion in the United States Congress. And this is, in my view, without a doubt, the very best bill that is possible to get out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. And so, I think the question that we have to ask is, do we move forward with this legislation, which I will agree is not perfect? And we’ll be working to improve it as it goes along, but I think it’s an excellent start. And the choice is to have no comprehensive federal legislation.
I want to also address this question of, are we making the same mistakes that Europe did? No. Waxman and Markey learned the lesson of the windfall profits, that Europe did make some serious mistakes when they set up their emission limits and emission trading program, because they gave the allowances to unregulated electricity generators. This bill does not do that. It gives allowances to regulated electricity and natural gas retailers with the express requirement that the value of those emission permits must be used to benefit their customers. ...
Democracy Now!, 5-22-09

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For the Words of Power Climate Crisis Updates Archive, click here.

For an archive of Words of Power posts on Economic Insecurity, click here.

Richard Power's Left-Handed Security: Overcoming Fear, Greed & Ignorance in This Era of Global Crisis is available now! Click here for more information.

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Hard Rain Late Night: Natalie Merchant -- This House is On Fire (Nuremberg, 2002)

Hard Rain Late Night: Natalie Merchant -- This House on Fire (Nuremberg 2002)

Natalie Merchant - This House Is On Fire

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

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

20 Years After the Tiananmen Square Massacre -- Lessons Unlearned? Let Crimes Against Humanity Stand, & More Crimes Against Humanity will Soon Follow

Virtual Museum of China '89

The spiritual head of the Tibetan community, the Dalai Lama paid his respects to those who died during the Tiananmen Square movement in 1989.
"On occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square students' democracy movement, I honour those who died expressing the popular demand for the government to be more accountable to its people," the Nobel peace laureate said in a statement. ... "It is my hope that the Chinese leaders have the courage and far-sightedness to embrace more truly egalitarian principles and pursue a policy of greater accommodation and tolerance of diverse views." ... Over the last 20 years Chinese authorities has refused to apologise for the deaths of protesters on the night of June 3-4, 1989.
Times of India, 6-4-09

20 Years After the Tiananmen Square Massacre -- Lessons Unlearned? Let Crimes Against Humanity Stand, & More Crimes Against Humanity will Soon Follow

By Richard Power

Twenty years after the massacre of pro-democracy activists on Tiananmen Square ...

Lessons unlearned?

If you let crimes against humanity stand, without pursuing accountability for those responsible, sooner than later, more crimes against humanity will follow.

(And that is true whether those responsible ruled in Beijing or Beltwayistan. You cannot simply "look forward," if you do, you become complicit.)

Here is a glimpse at some of the poisoned fruit that has ripened since the Tiananmen Square massacre.

The Burmese thugocracy, which is supported by the Chinese government, continues its show trial of Aung San Suu Kyi:

The people of Burma have been through terrible times and enjoy none of the benefits of their neighbours (a Thai lives almost 10 years longer on average). The past couple of years – with the suppression of the "Saffron" uprising and Cyclone Nargis, which killed more than 130,000 – have been especially cruel. They struggle to cope with mounting economic pressures and an economy skewed towards those with the right connections.
Yet despite these day-to-day pressures, they remain transfixed by what is happening in the court in Insein, and one senses the importance of the role that Aung San Suu Kyi, as a symbol of hope, continues to play in their lives. Many seem noticeably angrier about the trial than they were when the 2007 protests were crushed.
Guardian, 6-3-09

The thugocracy in Karthoum, supported by the Chinese government, continues its crimes against humanity in Darfur:

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) today released an important new report on the grim and persistent realities of sexual violence directed against Darfuri women in Darfur and Eastern Chad. In partnership with the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI), PHR has published “Nowhere to Turn: Failure to Protect, Support, and Assure Justice for Darfuri Women” ... There are twin emphases in the report: (a) the ongoing vulnerability of Darfuri women in refugee camps in Eastern Chad, with threats of sexual violence coming primarily from host communities that have grown increasingly hostile to those who fled violence in Darfur, and (b) the terrible prominence of sexual violence against women amidst genocidal destruction in Darfur itself. Indeed, the report provides further, compelling evidence of the use of rape as a deliberate weapon of genocidal warfare. ... The report should serve as a sobering reminder to those who have come to regard Darfur and Eastern Chad as “low-intensity conflict,” with putative signs of de-escalating violence, rural rebuilding, and “optimism” on the part of Darfuris. The growing effort to re-write the narrative of the Darfur genocide---minimizing overall mortality, speciously questioning the most conspicuous realities of genocide, denying significant violence and human destruction after 2004, refusing to see how desperate the overall humanitarian situation remains---hardly accommodates the individual narratives that we find in PHR’s path-breaking study. Eric Reeves, Sudan Research, 5-31-09

As always, I encourage you to follow events in Darfur on Mia Farrow's site, it is the real-time journal of a humanitarian at work; the content is compelling, insightful and fiercely independent.

For a Words of Power Archive of posts on the Crisis in Darfur, click here.

For a directory of Words of Power Human Rights Updates, click here.

Richard Power's Left-Handed Security: Overcoming Fear, Greed & Ignorance in This Era of Global Crisis is available now! Click here for more information.

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