Monday, May 17, 2010



By Kevin Stoda, Puerta Princesa, Palawan, Philippines

This past week the voters of the Philippines elected their newest president. Typically, names of leading candidates are from either military background or from the few politically and economically powerful families—and this year was no exception. This last week, it was “Noynoy” Aquino, the son of the late President Corazon Aquino, who received the most votes in this election for the presidency of the Philippines. One good point this election is that this year saw that the introduction of electronic balloting, which has actually led this year to less claims of fraud and corruption than in past elections.

In short, regardless as to whether the country is run by military or political oligarchs, one of the reasons that the majority of Filipinos have been forced to await decades without major reforms and changes to the status quo in terms of wealth and developmental distribution in vain since the 1950s is the practice of oligarchy. Both the newly elected president and out going presidents represent this closed-shop approach to running the Philippines. Noynoy Aquino’s mother and father were both politically active as were his grandparents. The outgoing president, Gloria Macapagal Aroyo came from a very similar oligarchical-driven family tree on the same main island of Luzon, as well.

By the way, outgoing President Aroyo was also just elected to a representative seat in congress last week. It appears that she desires to continue to try and hold on to legal immunity in dozens of fraud and corruption cases while serving as her region or family’s representative in the Philippines government till the end of her days.


The “Manila Bulletin” has recently printed a list of hopes and desires of a great variety of college students in the wake of the May 10 National Election Day and as the subsequent results have been discussed daily in this month’s newspapers. Here I would like share some of these in this publications of ponderings by university students in the Philippines as I think they are reflecting the aspirations of many, especially of those who are studying in the dangerous field of journalism here in the Philippines, a country which led the world again in reported murders of journalists for the second straight year.

The article in the “Manila Bulletin” was entitled “MR. PRESIDENT this is what the youth wants [sic] to tell you . . . “ This mosaic of opinions began, “We came. We saw. We voted. . . . With the country’s hopes greatly pinned on us, over 20 million young and first-time voters . . . We persisted [in long long lines] because our vote mattered.” The anonymous author continued, “After years of corruption-tainted politics, a new leader brings hope and optimism. Time to buckle down to work, Mr. President. Here’s what we want to say to you. . . “

Next, eighteen year-old, Eric Christian Estolatan at Ateneo De Manila University stated with great irony (& sarcasm), “Thank you for continuing to participate in making the voting population ignorant of the dire circumstances in which the Philippines has found itself by refusing to shed light on the sensitive issues (such as the need to restructure taxation to decrease our reliance on foreign borrowing) and taking the unpopular but rightful stance.”

I think such a statement would find accord if spoken by students in the USA, in Greece, in the UK, and in the European Union. Perhaps there are more than five dozen other nations around the globe these days where such cynicism and disdain arise due to lack of good media and good governance.

Young Estolatan continued his roast of the newest president by noting, “Thank you for spending the millions on advertisements during the campaign which ensures that the Filipinos would find themselves robbed blind in the next ten years. Thank you for ensuring that the government again would find itself without ideals and true political parties and be ruled again by political dynasties . . .”

I suppose that since America has had the Bush’s, the Clintons, the Kennedy’s, the American people might hold similar qualms and might certainly lack high expectation for reform in 2010 as well. However, there are more hopeful words in some other young writer’s voices.

For example, Iris Alarquez, 19, of the University of Santo Tomas writes to the new regime’s president, “ Filipinos are looking forward to change –an achievable change, not an impossible one. Please be one of your people (do not dictate . . .) in order for us to achieve our goals.”

Cliff Venzon, 19, of the same university as Alarquez [above] simply writes, “Prosecute and persecute GMA.” NOTE: GMA does not stand for “genetically modified anything”. GMA is the acronym for the former president described above-- Gloria Macapagal Aroyo.

Likewise, Kaith Casey of the University of the East notes, “Enough with the promises; now is the time. Dare to move on.”

Likewise, Katrina Cosme stated in another longer commentary, “Please watch every campaign ad that you aired from beginning to end at least once a day, and look around you.”

I would suggest that Americans force all their rolling-in-the-advertising-dough-candidates this 2010 to do that, too. Make them watch the videos of their many promises until they capitulate and implement change.


Finally, Glaizn Seguia writes, ‘You can either start the engine that gets this country running, or you can just let it continue to run downhill. I don’t see any reason for you to choose the latter, so … [change]. Change might not be easily accepted but we will all get used to it after some time. Choose the right road, the straight road., the one that’s barren and empty—so the greedy crocodiles won’t have anything to devour. . . . at the end of that road lies the fruits of our labor.”

The 24-year old Seguia then uses a metaphor that may be hard for many in outside the Philippines in rainy season to truly fully internalize. Seguia says that the people will be there to support change if the new government takes action as it should to get real reform.. She writes, “[Remember Mr. President] We’re actually behind, pushing this country towards the way [the desitination] as you control the wheel.”

To understand this metaphor as Filipinos do, recall that in rainy season many roads are awash in water and dirt. This means that vehicles, including passenger buses and large jeepneys, are constantly being pushed out of the muddy goo by the very passengers who depend on them (and pay for their passage in) to get where they desire to go. This is the image that Seguia conjures up to the Filipino audience when she created a road metaphor and reminds the new leadership that the people are there—actually ready to do the pushing when things get stuck.

Such similar metaphors were emphasized by several other students. For example, one 20-year old nursing student, named Renan Lin, stated, “As much as I hate to compare our country to the U.S.A. I hope you didn’t just build so much hope and optimism only to have us end up in the same rut we were before.”

In short, Filipinos feel like they have been living for many a generation in a long row of ruts (which their ancestors and the nations oligarchy) have built, and no matter how many times they have been in the ruts prior to this election, they seem to be traveling the same path again and again. In far to many veins, this is the reality of the Philippines. Such skepticism is warranted in a land that has some of the best fishing, human, and developmental resources in the world but has never lived up to its post-WWII potential. Nonetheless, these aspirations of youth for real change this decade are certainly not to be ignored.

A Final thought! One in every ten Filipinos is currently forced to go abroad and to earn money in order to keep their family and country afloat—or to keep the oligarchs or clans in each territory in power. Lack of land reform, lack of tax reform, and lack of truer regional autonomy have made real economic reforms and developmental growth outside of Manila extremely restricted. In contrast, neighboring East Asian lands, such as Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea saw many great reforms—even under autocratic regimes—since 1945-46, i.e. after both the USA gave the country its Independence.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Dear Kenzenia Jean Stoda, Our Daughter,

Thank you, Angel, for coming into our lives on May 8, 2010.

Your name derives from one of Job´s daughters.

Here is the text from the Bible. Pay attention to the name of the second daughter:

Job 42 (New International Version)
1 Then Job replied to the LORD :
2 "I know that you can do all things;
no plan of yours can be thwarted.
3 You asked, 'Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?'
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
4 "You said, 'Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.'
5 My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
6 Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes."
7 After the LORD had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, "I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. 8 So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has." 9 So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the LORD told them; and the LORD accepted Job's prayer.
10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before. 11 All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the LORD had brought upon him, and each one gave him a piece of silver [a] and a gold ring.
12 The LORD blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. 13 And he also had seven sons and three daughters. 14 The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. 15 Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job's daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.
16 After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. 17 And so he died, old and full of years.
After his tumultuous time of losing all his property, being inflicted with disease, having his faith attacked, and all his children dying in disasters, God blesses Job again with more children and a great life.
The second daughters name is Keziah. My wife have added two letter “n”s (and dropping the final h) to you’re your name unique—allowing you to be uniquely who you and who God wants you to be.
We welcome and love you Kenzenia.


Mom n´ Dad

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By Kevin Stoda, Wiesbaden, Hessen

Last month a student protest was announced: MARCH ON WIESBADEN.

Wiesbaden is the capital of the state of Hessen where the powerful economic Rhine-Main region is located. It is also where the wise-men who guide the German economy have been situated since 1963. Now, the German voters from various states are up in arms at Germanys traditional economic and government policies.

Today nearly 10,000 students took to the streets in the Hessen capital of Wiesbaden after continued delays in more effective reform for education in Hessen (and neighbouring states) have now combined with the Hessen governments current plans to cut 79 million Euros from the education budget for the Hessen state each of the next four years. The largely peaceful protest was lively and colourful. However, it stopped traffic for over an hour in downtown Wiesbaden as police and public transport were surprised by the turnout from students—coming from as far away as Kassel and Marburg.

Despite the lack of violence, the students and the faculty marching this afternoon through the streets of Wiesbaden looked every bit as committed to their cause “fighting injustice and bad policy” as their Greek student and worker counterparts in Athens--on the other end of the continent—are doing. Voters in Germany are becoming similarly militant in 2010.

Interestingly, as part of my American study efforts, earlier in the Spring, I had shown my students in both Wiesbaden and in Mainz (in the state of the Rhineland-Palatinate across the river) episodes of Democracy Now episode from March 4 and March 5 2010 & describing the global student protest movements, especially in California, in 2009-2010.

Those episodes of news-reporting in the USA echoed what has been happening to students in Germany over the past decade. By the way, last November Germany saw the largest number of student protests since 1968. People are asking why are the poor and the necessary facets of the economy being punished while bankers and financiers get money across Europe?

This is all why that the German government coalition, consisting of conservatives and liberals, took a beating on Sunday in the largest German state of North Rhine Westphalia (NRW)—i.e. just after agreeing to another billion-Euro bail-out of the Euro just after a 120-billion Euro bail-out of the Greek economy the week before. Until the major defeat on Sunday, that same German governing coalition had been proposing major tax cuts for the wealthy half of the German economy.

Naturally, the savvy Chancellor Angela Merkel immediately cancelled those plans for tax cuts for the wealthy after the earthquake-like defeat by NRW voters.

Incidentally, this was the worst election result in the history of the conservative party (CDU/CSU) in Germany since WWII. It was obviously a sign that the German citizenry are becoming tired, too, of the status quo and this rise in youthful (and voter) protests is likely to be a sign of a long hot summer in German politics.


I was reading recently in “Abschiebung Stoppen–Dublin II Kippen” here in germany about how out of control the European immigration control FOREX is functioning under and agreement called Dublin II which forces immigrants and asylum seekers to do quite bizarre things–including them being sent back to dangerous countries in handcuffs.

“Abschiebung Stoppen–Dublin II Kippen” means in German “Stop the Forced Exilations–Turn Back Dublin II”.

Later, I discovered that there is an English version of the newspaper and website.

Accoring to AsylumLaw, this is what Dublin II is about and what Europans need to be aware of.

The Dublin II regulation is determining which of the countries in the “Dublin area” is responsible for examining an asylum application. If you want to be sure that a certain country of asylum is responsible for your application you must know more about Dublin II. The “Dublin area” or “Dublin II area” includes Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, United Kingdom, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden. Denmark does not participate to the Dublin II system. Norway and Iceland do participate though they are not EU Member States. So the Dublin area is slightly different from the EU area.

Europeans should be shouting to these dangerous anti-refugee practices: “NOT IN OUR NAME!!!!!“

A few countries, like Germny and Sweden have been forced to stop sending refugees and emigres to Greece because of maltreatment there, but a lot of worse things are going on.

Amnesty International calls the whole EU debacle “The Dublin 2 Trap”:

Asylum-seekers in Greece lack protection under the current asylum determination system. They are frequently denied access to the asylum procedure and, since July 2009, have been denied the right to an effective appeal. But the biggest risk asylum-seekers face is refoulement. This report examines the experiences of asylum-seekers transferred under the Dublin Regulation to Greece. It concludes that Greece fails to provide a full and fair asylum determination procedure and calls for the urgent suspension of these returns until necessary improvements are made in law and practice.

However, wearder and worse things are happening to asylum seekers ounde the draconian centralized activities of the EU Dublin II enforcment only 0.04 percent of all immgrant applicants received asylum in Europe via Greece and elsewhere since 2007.

Syrians have been sent back home to torture. Others have been sent to Africa.

This has got to stop Europe. Speak to your EU and local government officials today.

According to European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) and UNHCR[4] and UNHCR[5], that the regulation impedes the legal rights and personal welfare of asylum seekers, including the right to a fair examination of their asylum claim and, where recognized, to effective protection, as well as the uneven distribution of asylum claims among Member States. the current system fails in providing fair, efficient and effective protection. It has been demonstrated on a number of occasions both by ECRE

Application of this regulation can seriously delay the presentation of claims, and can result in claims never being heard. Causes of concern include the use of detention to enforce transfers of asylum seekers from the state where they apply to the state deemed responsible, also known as Dublin transfers, the separation of families and the denial of an effective opportunity to appeal against transfers. The Dublin system also increases pressures on the external border regions of the EU, where the majority of asylum seekers enter EU and where states are often least able to offer asylum seekers support and protection.[6]

After ECRE[7], the UNHCR and other non-governmental organisations openly criticized Greece’s asylum system, including the lack of protection and care for unaccompanied children, several countries suspended transfers of asylum seekers to Greece under the Dublin II regulation. Norway announced in February 2008 it would stop transferring any asylum seeker back to Greece under the Dublin II regulation. In September, it backtracked and announced that transfers to Greece would be based on individual assessments.[8] In April 2008 Finland announced a similar move.[9] Germany and Sweden have limited the suspension of transfers to unaccompanied children only.

Check out why Denmark does not belong to Dublin 2.


Dateiformat: PDF/Adobe Acrobat
longer term, ECRE has called for the Dublin II Regulation to be abolished and ….. extending to Denmark the application of Dublin II and EURODAC ……gid=117


HOMELESSNESS in Berlin & Modern Wealthy Germany

HOMELESSNESS in Berlin & Modern Wealthy Germany

By Kevin Stoda

Last winter—one of the longest and overall coldest winters of the past decade--, Berlin saw the capacity for homelessness stretched to its limits. Average nightly capacity was overfilled at a rate of 109.5% for most of the city. This increase in numbers of homeless using public facilities occurred in the wake of three deaths due to freezing very early this past winter. Families of homeless from Eastern Europe have been particularly been on the rise over the past 4 to 5 winters as noted by volunteers and employees at some of the city’s homeless shelters. Apparently, in Eastern Europe people immigrate west to Berlin to gain warmth in the winter—just as Southern German homeless escape south of the Alps at the same time.

The large and less humane homeless shelters, such as the Berlin City Mission, are the most crowed on some nights—while the so-called homeless cafes and homeless tea shops are the only ones with extra room. These homeless cafes are often gender specific, so families are left out of access to such institutions. In all, Berlin officially offered this past winter some 43,614 beds or places to sleep. However, officially, on average some 47,776 homeless people stayed at the various shelters around the town.

By the way, most of my statistics on Berlin come from a series of articles in “MOTZ” (April 2010) , a home peoples newspaper produced at one of the homeless and half way centres in Berlin. The writers of “Motz” have noted that the homeless cafes offered room for a total of 9263 overnights for homeless persons, but are less popular with often only 75% capacity being filled this past ice-cold winter 2009-2010. However, in the past year it has been only the number of so-called homeless cafes which have been significantly increased in numbers—even though demand for places to sleep there have not been increasing .

Another article in “MOTZ” described the fact that Berlin’s number of homeless residents has increased steadily since 1990, i.e. after the Wall came down and communism collapsed (and after free-market and ludicrous-economic-notions took over in the East). Large numbers of Sinti and Roma—as well as numerous other European homeless--emigrate to the capital city, Berlin, of the richest country in Europe each year.

Last year many tent cities of gypsies and homeless became the focus of local residents concern and rage for the damages suffered to the quality of their lives and their neighbourhoods, i.e. due to neighbourhood duress caused by so many homeless settling in for the summer. Omeanwhile, the city of Berlin and the neighbouring state of Brandenburg have often recognise that many of the homeless from other lands, including gypsies, do end up working part-time or even full-time in the local economies. (This is why the creation of gypsy tents and caravans in the summertime have been accepted or tolerated to some degree in a country, which was once notorious as a persecutor of Roma and Sinti.)

Berlin, of course, is not the only city in Germany that attracts a lot of long-term homeless. It is just that Berlin works harder to take care of homeless than some other locations in the land. It is notable, for example, that the Berlin Waterworks this winter for the first time had offered to take in homeless after the 3 deaths noted earlier in the winter. The Berlin Waterworks allowed the homeless to live and stay on the ground of their various pumping facilities. I do not know of many other cities, where corporations open heir doors to the homeless like that—even if they are freezing outside daily. Many of the homeless even say there was more room and space at the Waterworks to relax than in the traditional multi-bed rooms found around the city. (Cots were put up at the water works late each afternooon.)

I visited a Diakonische homeless centre recently in Wiesbaden. The Diakonie has regular volunteers and offers volunteer medical help on Wednesdays. However, that same Wednesday evening (and again the next day), I observed many of those homeless who had been turned away from such shelters riding the buses of the city later that same rainy cold evening in May.

The city of Wiesbaden also offers assistance to homeless women and families. However, what is most notable in the evenings is a bus across the street from the train station. It is a large and luxurious bus, which serves as a meeting point for getting homeless teenagers and youth off the streets at night. It is a new and welcoming bus. Youth who arrive there are taken to a centre nearby for the night, where they can get advice, a meal, and other forms of assistance, rather than being on the street at night.

It is not clear how many homeless in Germany are foreign-born and raised, but it is clear that a large number of East Europeans have migrated westward over the past decade. In all, in any one year, one to three million homeless may live in or be passing through Germany—this includes many homeless employees who cannot afford rent in high priced Germany.


Monday, May 10, 2010


By Kevin Stoda, Germany

Dear Ombudsman of the European Union,
In the “CHARTER OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF THE EUROPEAN UNION”, Article 20 clearly states, “Everyone is equal before the law.”
This code or statement seems rather clear. Therefore, I, as an American living and working in Germany for over a year should be seen as equal (and have as equal access to rights and laws in the European Union) as anyone else.
However, this if far from the case.
As an American, I have little or no access to European Union Courts or public services, i.e. as I noted in a letter to the Oberbuergermeister (Mayor) of Wiesbaden recently. This situation would be equivalent to a visa-holding foreigner in America not being allowed access to federal courts (and state or city services) that he as a taxpayer had already been taxed for.
Likewise, Article 21 in the Charter of the European Union states in its first paragraph “Any discrimination based on any ground such as sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age or sexual orientation shall be prohibited.” However, this same article has an unfair caveat that leads to an over-5-year-delay in justice before the European Union courts for non-Europeans living and working in Europe. This is because the second part of Article 21 states that part one of the article is to be within “the scope of application of the Treaty establishing the European Community and of the Treaty on European Union, and without prejudice to the special provisions of those Treaties, any discrimination on grounds of nationality shall be prohibited.”
Using clearly biased decision-making codes and rules, local German officials in Wiesbaden in Hessen began immediately upon my wife’s making of her spousal visa application in April 2009 to deny her the right to join me living and working in Europe. The decisions were imaginative and clearly against the rubric above in Article 21: ““Everyone is equal before the law.” Obviously, if my wife was American (and not Filipino) she would have come with me to Germany three months earlier. This charade of supposedly illegal due-process continued for over 9 months before I gave up on bringing my wife to live and work in Germany in January of this year.
Moreover, since my wife--as a woman and as a mother--was forced for the past two years to live without health coverage in Germany, I think it is clear that this is a gender issue, too.
That is, whenever these sorts of "civil servant" and ministry tricks are used to keep foreigners from being united with their families and having social or health care in Germany, the European Union officials are not protecting peoples according to Article 20. Nor is the EU court overseeing the enforcement of Article 23 in Germany and neighbouring countries in any way that truly means “due process”.
Article 23 is the “Equality between Men and Women” proviso and states: “Equality between men and women must be ensured in all areas, including employment, work and pay. The principle of equality shall not prevent the maintenance or adoption of measures providing for specific advantages in favour of the under-represented sex.”
German officials in the family and health ministries in Germany have written me stating that my wife’s inability to access health care in Wiesbaden sounds to be very much against even German laws, which are supposedly set up to support women and families these days.

Personally since autumn 2009, when my former firm began to be liquidated, I have come to discover that (particularly) the thousands of Americans recruited to Hessen and neighbouring states to work each year in language teaching and in military or government contracts have had no (or next to no) access to job-hunting- nor job-procurement-services through the state or local agencies—unlike thousands of other foreigners living and working in Germany—including non-EU nationals who had paid less taxes than I paid in 2009.
This means that German law and job services are functioning contrary to Article 29, which states, “Everyone has the right of access to a free placement service.”
Recently, I was in Berlin and spoke to a representative for the EU, and he admitted that the EU does not step in to help until someone has resided in Europe for 5 years. Concerning the EU Charter of Rights, I firmly believe that this lackadaisical approach to injustice and lawlessness damages Europe in the sight of most courts on the globe. In terms of labour law and labour rights, though, Germany is further severely lacking in the area of non-EU rights. Labour. The Charter Articles 30 and 31 focus on labour rights.
Article 30 says “Every worker has the right to protection against unjustified dismissal, in accordance with Community law and national laws and practices.”
Well, just last week, I lost 6 teaching hours at a local—but nationally franchised business—simply because there was a rumour that I was leaving the country in a month or so. Similarly, in January, my former boss said he would not continue to employ me if I filed for my 12,000 Euros in back pay from 2009. In short, firing and dismissing on rumour and as consequence of unfair threats have created a general lawlessness on the job market in Germany. This general lawlessness has led to the states of Hessen and Rhineland- Palatinate to support numerous bully-bosses during the past decade—i.e. as Germany has slowly been getting rid of its social net.
Article 31.1 says: “Every worker has the right to working conditions which respect his or her health, safety and dignity.” As noted in the paragraph above, this EU supported code for human rights is being ignored rampantly in the courts and daily practices in Wiesbaden-Mainz these days. For example, I have received no legal nor private assistance for my healthcare—even though I have not missed a teaching day in the past year and a half. Nonetheless, based on rumours or fears about my health care needs, I have been denied health coverage in Germany by healthcare institutions and by the City of Wiesbaden as well.
"Am I not a man?"—one who needs to support his family while living and working in Europe? I.e. a man who needs the supposed health care coverage that millions of others in Germany receive? Shouldn’t businesses that hire me—regardless of race or nationality--be directed to support me according to Article 31.1 of the Charter?

Article 33 of the EU Charter on Rights says “1. The family shall enjoy legal, economic and social protection. 2. To reconcile family and professional life, everyone shall have the right to protection from dismissal for a reason connected with maternity and the right to paid maternity leave and to parental leave following the birth or adoption of a child.”
This is an article that Americans really need in their constitution, don’t you think?
Germany, as mentioned above, also has such guarantees in its constitution and in its family law. Nonetheless, if you are an American or non-European, the German visa offices, the immigration offices, several unfair ministries, and the various social welfare and labour offices in this wealthiest of Europe, your rights can be ignored as though you are not human.
Such a state is simply ignoring both EU laws and local legislation and codes. We are told by both courts and bureaucrats: “You are not covered and we will use every trick in the book to keep you from gaining welfare.”
Worse still, even private agencies and some German lawyers tell me to go find my own rights with the help of U.S. lawyers. Likewise, some German physicians have told me here in Wiesbaden to go to the gates of the US American military base nearby to beg for health care support. (There are really very few US lawyers here in the area of human rights and no American military base allow Americans or other visitors to come on base without a permit or invitation.)
As noted above, one of my recent part-time employers had evidentially heard rumours of the birth of my child and decided to lay me off—just two weeks ago.
Where is the support for families evident in all this mistreatment? Moreover, as noted above, my wife and child have not been permitted to come to Germany and gain their right to health care, either since early 2009. This is just as bad as inviting immigrants to Europe for permanent celibacy and in order to promote bad health in families and children—around the globe.
Meanwhile, Article 34 says, “1. The Union recognises and respects the entitlement to social security benefits and social services providing protection in cases such as maternity, illness, industrial accidents, dependency or old age, and in the case of loss of employment, in accordance with the rules laid down by Community law and national laws and practices. 2. Everyone residing and moving legally within the European Union is entitled to social security benefits and social advantages in accordance with Community law and national laws and practices. 3. In order to combat social exclusion and poverty, the Union recognises and respects the right to social and housing assistance so as to ensure a decent existence for all those who lack sufficient resources, in accordance with the rules laid down by Community law and national laws and practices.”
Today, I just received a letter from the 23rd Social Court in Wiesbaden, Hessen in Germany. The Wiesbaden court determined to not grant me any of the three sets of EU rights noted in Article 34 above. It did so because the local immigration office had given me a super-restricted visa, despite my many skills and employability as an educator in primary, secondary and tertiary levels. In short the courts are colluding with visa-tricksters.
If I could survive another 3 ½ years, I could take my claims to the EU courts of justice—but I can’t Wiesbaden judges and civil servants no this. They are just wishing me away—as they do thousands of others each year.

HEALTH CARE FOR ALL???? and the Courts!
Article 35 states: “Everyone has the right of access to preventive health care and the right to benefit from medical treatment under the conditions established by national laws and practices. A high level of human health protection shall be ensured in the definition and implementation of all Union policies and activities.”
Well, the Wiesbaden court (above) claims I have no such right in Europe. Similarly, the City of Wiesbaden claims the same for me—and for thousands of homeless Germans and non-Germans who pass through the city and regions in Germany each year. Even doctors at charities are quite whimsical about treating and not-treating non-EU homeless, especially from Eastern Europe or travelling gypsies. Even I—as an American—have been refused health care by certain doctors volunteering at benevolent institutions.
What has the EU tried to do in creating this Charter of EU Rights if no one is held accountable?
What kind of example to the world is this document and its lack of enforcement in EU 2010?
Article 41 speaks directly to both the courts themselves and to the bureaucrats in Germany who fail to uphold EU laws. The article states, “1. Every person has the right to have his or her affairs handled impartially, fairly and within a reasonable time by the institutions and bodies of the Union. 2. This right includes:. the right of every person to be heard, before any individual measure which would affect him or her adversely is taken; . the right of every person to have access to his or her file, while respecting the legitimate interests of confidentiality and of professional and business secrecy; the obligation of the administration to give reasons for its decisions.”
I have not seen due process at many levels and speed has been an issue for me most of the past year and a half.. I say this because I have been unfairly separated from my wife due to arbitrary and non-EU-compliant decisions and due to intentionally vague, overarching and contradictory civil servant processes and codes at the communal level in Germany.
Even when out of work the Social Division of the City of Wiesbaden government has often worked at a snails pace, for example, until I was forced to become homeless last week. Moreover government officials have kept key documents and pieces of information from me throughout the ongoing processes of the past 17 months (since I legally came to work in Germany.) Not once have I been invited to inspect any of the files held by administrators on me, my wife, or on fraudulently operating firms who withhold pay checks—and such due process is certainly clearly required by both German and EU law.

During my recent visit to Berlin I was finally told by a worker for the EU that I had the right to contact and get support from the European Union Ombudsman. I will try to do that. However, this is a sort of very long-shot as generally the EU lets every case snake through german courts before they will even look at it.
Article 44 says, “Any citizen of the Union and any natural or legal person residing or having its registered office in a Member State has the right to refer to the Ombudsman of the Union cases of maladministration in the activities of the Community institutions or bodies, with the exception of the Court of Justice and the Court of First Instance acting in their judicial role.”
This article is why I turn to the EU Ombudsman after the 23rd Social Court in Wiesbaden turned down my claim today. You see I am interested in making the world a better place wherever I live. Unlike many civil servants, I am not afraid to whistle blow on a system that is failing people. I hope the Ombudsman serves people in Europe better.
I appeal to the EU Ombudsman who works for the peoples in Hessen and Rhineland-Palatinate of Germany. I am doing so because of Article 47, which says, “Everyone whose rights and freedoms guaranteed by the law of the Union are violated has the right to an effective remedy before a tribunal in compliance with the conditions laid down in this Article. Everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal previously established by law. Everyone shall have the possibility of being advised, defended and represented. Legal aid shall be made available to those who lack sufficient resources in so far as such aid is necessary to ensure effective access to justice.”
At this moment, in my bank in Germany I have a negative balance. I need help from the EU to proceed with this case against the injustices in Germany and Europe, which my documented experiences over the past 17 months represent.
Please serve fairly Mr. Ombudsman. Make the EU CHARTER more real than it is to date. Make it a document that lives and guides Europe.
Keivn Stoda
%Rheinstr. 65
65185 Wiesbaden
Wer kann zu welchen Themen eine Petition einreichen?
Wer kann eine Petition einreichen?
Zur Einreichung einer Petition befugt sind:
• alle Bürger der Europäischen Union,
• alle Personen mit Wohnort in einem Mitgliedstaat der Europäischen Union,
• alle Angehörigen von Vereinigungen, Unternehmen und Organisationen (natürliche und juristische Personen) mit Sitz in einem Mitgliedstaat der Europäischen Union.
Zu welchen Themen können Sie eine Petition einreichen?
Der Gegenstand der Petition muss Angelegenheiten betreffen, die für die Europäische Union von Interesse sind oder in ihren Tätigkeitsbereich fallen, zum Beispiel:
• Ihre Rechte als Unionsbürger gemäß den Verträgen,
• Umweltfragen,
• Verbraucherschutz,
• freier Personen-, Waren- und Dienstleistungsverkehr, Binnenmarkt,
• Beschäftigungs- und Sozialpolitik,
• Anerkennung von beruflichen Qualifikationen,
• sonstige Probleme im Zusammenhang mit der Umsetzung des EU-Rechts.
Wichtiger Hinweis:
Einfache Auskunftsersuchen werden vom Petitionsausschuss nicht bearbeitet, das Gleiche gilt für allgemeine Kommentare zur EU-Politik.
In welcher Sprache können Sie eine Petition einreichen?
Die Petition muss in einer Amtssprache der Europäischen Union abgefasst sein.
Siehe auch:
Artikel 227 des EG-Vertrags

Geschäftsordnung: Artikel 202


Dear Helmut Mueller, Oberbuergermeister of Wiesbaden, Germany...

Dear Helmut Mueller, Oberbuergermeister of Wiesbaden, Germany...

By Kevin Stoda, an American in Hessen

Mr. Mueller, I came across your interview, entitled “Internationalization in Post-Modern Wiesbaden” (Wiesbaden Magazine April 2010). In the interview you rightly described how Wiesbaden, the capital of the state of Hessen (and located only a few miles from Frankfurt ), has had historic ties to both the United States and to Russia. In the interview, you acknowledged that after WWII, the United States Air Force Command had been situated in Wiesbaden; therefore, the Berlin airlifts from 1948 through 1949 were carried out from here—with many American pilots dying through flight accidents. You and many Germans are thankful for how the Americans and allies stepped up in your hour of need to save the post war German peoples in the West.

The states of Hessen, Rheinland-Palatinate, and Bavaria had been occupied by the USA after WWII and eventually became home to many USA military bases, so after the air force finally pulled out its headquarters from Wiesbaden in the1990s, the U.S. Army soon moved in.

However, in the aftermath of the appropriate refusal of Germany´s government to support the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, most American military personnel were pulled out of Wiesbaden (in a kind-of Cheney-Bush fit of spitefulness). This has left a bad taste in the mouths of many, who have now created a relatively unfriendly-to Americans-Rhine-Main development region.. In short, soldiers who had been stationed in Hessen and elsewhere prior to 2003 felt more at home then—as did American businessmen and contractors who supported the USA infrastructure.

To put it bluntly, on the surface level, there has a been a negative backlash to the Americans coming and going from the Rhine and Main river areas over recent decades. On the other hand, I also note that Hessen and other German states failures to integrate Americans and other foreigners has historically been a major post-WWII issue. The city of Wiesbaden and the neighbouring state governments need to do much better.


Now, the USA Army has decided to return its headquarters to Wiesbaden as of this past year. Nonetheless, I note that your city and country in the carrying-out of (1) integration & social services, in the (2) application of basic jurist- or court decisions, in (3) the duties of providing social welfare and infrastructure (all aspects involving unequal access to even basic rights to foreigners-of-the-American-ilk) have continued to go down hill. For example, after being unemployed for over 6 months, I personally have consistently had my unemployment claims in Germany turned down.

Moreover, I do not see your government and civil servantry improving, especially not. improving due to the current anti-foreign and anti-immigrant trends witnessed in Hessen and Germany over the past 5 to 10 years. These anti-foreign and anti-immigrant trends are similar to those in the USA but the acccess to rights, courts and support is even worse than in the USA. These German and European-wide trends are fully supported by judicial and civil bureaucrats who clearly see foreigners as “the barbarians at the gates” when it comes to providing health care, education, and basic financial or social assistance.

Typical of this lack of integration among children of mixed American and German marriages over the past 60 years demonstrates that of the millions of Americans whow grew up or were educated in Germany—very few graduated and comparatively fewer ever went on to German universities. (What I mean is that very few American children ever made it to German Gymnasium high schools. These elite schools were the key to getting into German universities.) Only the handful of immigrants, who made it through these elite high schools have ever received good paying and respectable jobs in the greater German political and economic communities. Otherwise these same children were forced to go to school abroad—something, which few could afford—unless somehow still well-connected in the USA.

Here is one of the kinds of American-ancestry peoples I meet often in Wiesbaden and neighboring towns on either side of the Rhine river. Meet Kerry, who goes to my church! Kery´s mother is from South America but was a U.S. citizen in the air force. This mother settled and married here in Wiesbaden over three decades ago. The child, Kerry, was told by the German uncles and family not to speak nor learn English. Likewise by 6th grade Kerry had been selected out of the elite schools. (In short, the system closed the doors on her college education chances very early.) Her only option was to finish school at an early age and take up a trade. Kerry then learned to take care of the elderly working as a qualified nurse—until her back gave out after working 12 years.

Instead of being retrained in any other profession, such as training her to become a bilingual correspondent, secretary or even a German civil servant (God-forbid) as most German-German offspring would expect from the social services of Germany, Kerry now works only cleaning peoples houses—occasionally doing additional obligatory cleaning for the city of Wiesbaden in order to keep her entitlements.

I look at Kerry, who is a wonderful service-oriented individual with a lot of talent and see how the school system and integration efforts in Wiesbaden and most other corners of Germany have failed (and continue to fail) immigrants and children of foreign born parents. Kerry’s story is true for African and German children that I know, too. One has to fight every single year just to receive his student loans—even though he was born and raised in Wiesbaden. This occurs simply because his father was from Africa and his mother was never well-connected in society. (The mother, too, is a service oriented person.)

On my recent trip to Berlin I stopped in other towns where American military personnel have been stationed for 60-plus years, such as in Frankfurt, Westzler, and Giessen. I talked with Germans with American fathers and I found the same story over and over again. They had had next to no chance of going on to university under the German system. Several immigrated to study in the USA. Others just live out a mediocre today in modern wealthy Germany—most with less access to social welfare institutions than their German-German counterparts. One American-German girl said she knew of no American friends who had ever made it to the Germany Gymnasium or elite schools in her home state of Hessen.


In short, just as the system has been loaded against Arab, Asian, Africa and Eastern European immigrants, North and South Americans have little chance of integrating—and the European Union unofficially supports the lack of integration by never taking Germany to court for its typical 5 year delay on rights and services. I say 5-years because--despite the obvious illegal discrimination which kept my Filipino wife from joining me to live, work and build a family in Wiesbaden last year in Wiesbaden’s visa and integration offices—I would have to live in Germany 5 full-years before the European Court of Human Rights would even legally be able to take up my case.

Could you imagine a U.S. Supreme Court refusing to take up someone’s case of claimed racist-treatment, blackballing in job market, and biased legal codes and practices solely because the claimant lacks 5 years presence (or standing in the USA)?

This is the way modern Europe and Germany are run.

How many immigrants can survive under such duress in modern Germany under the current EU?

Mr. Oberbuergermeister of Wiesbaden on p. 8 of the same WIESBADEN Magazine article where your interview on Russians and Americans internationalising the Wiesbaden experience, the follow quote comes from the article, “A Bridge Between East and West”, an article that tells of the 150 year presence of Russians and Russian immigrants in Wiesbaden:

“Many Russian-German immigrants were not desired in the former Soviet Union Republics, however, they feel they are unwanted here, too. They break under such distress.”

I imagine I can speak for Americans and a lot of other fully non-integrated foreigners—including many African-Americans here in Wiesbaden and the Rhine Main region during the great economic downturn of 2008-2010—“Let us and help us to integrate more fully. We in Wiesbaden and scattered throughout Germany can make a positive difference in your 21st Century.”*

*Note: I felt compelled to write this article after I observed in my recent travels from Bavaria to Berlin and Hamburg that far too few museums, too few zoos, too few cultural centres, and too few educational institutions had anything written in English or other foreign languages. (Such is not the case in all 9 of Germany’s other neighbouring lands where bilingual and multilingual signs and translated texts are much more common than in this more ethnocentric land—at the heart of the EU.)

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Sunday, May 09, 2010

Why is Blackwater still in Business and representing America abroad?

I do not understand why the president of Blackwater is being invited to speka on good American cultural and trends in ideals–but that is what has happened in Michigan this week.

Check out the Democracy Now Report on one of the most dangerous militaries paid for by the USA taxpayers–agains our will for over a decade.

EXCLUSIVE…Secret Recording of Erik Prince Reveals Previously Undisclosed Blackwater Ops

Barbariansqt Investigative journalist and Democracy Now! correspondent Jeremy Scahill obtains a rare audio recording of a recent, private speech delivered by Erik Prince, the owner of Blackwater, to a friendly audience in January. The speech, which Prince attempted to keep from public consumption, provides a stunning glimpse into his views and future plans and reveals details of previously undisclosed activities of Blackwater. In a Democracy Now! exclusive broadcast we play excerpts of the recording and speak with Scahill about the revelations.


Jeremy Scahill, award-winning independent journalist, a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute and the author of the international bestseller, “Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army.” His article, Secret Erik Prince Tape Exposed is published on his new blog for

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Welcome to all of our listeners and viewers. Erik Prince doesn’t like being in the media spotlight. The reclusive owner of the private military firm known as Blackwater is scheduled to give the keynote address tomorrow at the Tulip Time Festival in his hometown of Holland, Michigan. True to form, Prince told the event’s organizers no news reporting could be done on his speech and they consented to the ban. But journalists and media associations in Michigan protested the move and on Monday, the organizers reversed their position and said the media would be allowed to attend with one caveat: no video or audio recording devices are allowed inside. Despite Prince’s attempts to shield his speeches from public scrutiny, investigative journalist and DEMOCRACY NOW! correspondent Jeremy Scahill obtained a rare audio recording of a recent, private speech delivered by Prince to a friendly audience in January. The speech, which Prince attempted to keep from public consumption provides a stunning glimpse into his views and future plans and reveals details of previously undisclosed activities of Blackwater. Jeremy’s article on the recording of Erik Prince’s speech was published on his new blog for

AMY GOODMAN: The audio the speech has never before been broadcast. Today, we’ll air excerpts in a DEMOCRACY NOW! exclusive. But first, Jeremy Scahill joins us here in our DEMOCRACY NOW! studio. He is an award winning independent journalist, Puffin Foundation writing fellow at The Nation Institute, and the author of the international bestseller “Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army.” Jeremy is also scheduled to speak tomorrow in Holland, Michigan, just hours after Erik Prince, at a separate event organized by the Interfaith Congregation of Holland. Jeremy Scahill, welcome to DEMOCRACY NOW!.

JEREMY SCHAHILL: Nice to be here.

AMY GOODMAN: So, talk about this tape. How’d you get it?

JEREMY SCHAHILL: Well, Erik Prince has been in the media at times because he has had to respond when its forces killed 17 innocent Iraqis in Nisour Square, he made the rounds on CNN and 60 Minutes and other places. And he generally goes into a very controlled environment. He doesn’t often give speeches, he doesn’t lecture on the university circuit, and when he does give talks, he makes it very clear to the event organizers that there are to be no recording devices and journalists are not allowed. And so I had contact with someone who had the opportunity to go to this private event that was hosted by the Young Presidents Organization and Erik Prince was giving a speech in front of all these entrepreneurs. It was a private gathering. And they had ROTC cadets from the University of Michigan- the commanders of ROTC there. And in fact, at one point during his speech, Erik Prince stops after he had been bashing some NATO countries and saying that some of the U.S. allies in Afghanistan should pack up their bags and get out of the country, he singled-out about Canada as a positive example of a force that was doing a good job in Afghanistan, he stopped and he said, “I just want to make it clear everything I’m saying here is off the record in case any journalists slipped into the room. Let’s remember this is a man whose company does ninety percent of its business with the federal government. Taxpayers fund this man’s corporation. We have a right to know what he’s up to. We have a right to know, when you can’t get documents on Blackwater, what the owner of this company is saying. So I revealed the details of this tape in the interest of the first amendment freedom of the press, but also because I believe the American people have a right. So someone contacted me, said they weren’t going to be going to this and I asked that individual, “Do you think you could record it?” And so what happened was that this person went into the event and clandestinely recorded Erik Prince speaking. And what he said was really incredible.

There are a number of key points to focus on. One is that Erik Prince said that the United States should send armed mercenaries, he doesn’t use the term, but that’s what they are, armed mercenaries, into Somalia, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Nigeria. With the exception of Nigeria, he talked about Yemen and Somalia and Saudi Arabia facing Iranian threats and the Iranians were, as he put it, at the dead center of badness in the world. And he said that by sending in private contractors, armed contractors, instead of the military, you solve the political problems of sending a large U.S. force, and said that the private sector can do this in a much smaller footprint way and it also would be politically expedient because there would essentially be plausible deniability on the part of the government. In the case of Nigeria, of course we’ve seen an increase in resistance movements and indigenous movements that are protesting against multinational oil corporations polluting, doing what they perceive to be stealing of Nigeria’s most valuable resources, oil-rich African nation. Erik Prince talked about these Nigerian groups as stealing oil from the multi-national oil corporations and suggested without providing any evidence whatsoever that revenue from this theft, by Nigerian groups, of the oil was being used to fund terrorist operations. I talked to some military sources that I have that have extensive experience with U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, Pakistan, and what they found most disturbing about what Prince said was that Prince told a story of July 2009 where his narcotics interdiction unit, a 200-person strike force in Afghanistan that I had never heard of this force before, they actually were operating near the Pakistan border, they came across with a said was a massive hashish and heroin operation and Blackwater forces actually called-in air strikes that then came in and destroyed this facility. The idea that a private company is individually calling-in air strikes raises serious questions about the chain of command issue in Afghanistan. How is it that a private force is able to simply can get on the phone and within moments call-in air strikes that take out anything?

The other story that disturbs military folks that I’ve talked to is that Erik Prince tells a story of how his Blackwater forces resupply a U.S. military unit with ammunition when they’re running low. And he says that the reason that Blackwater did it is because there was too much lawyering involved with the official military doing it. So Blackwater was contacted he said, by this military unit, and they brought in the resupply, the ammunition. Again, chain of command issues. How is it that Blackwater is able to just unilaterally work with individual units fo the U.S. military? Or, in the case of the so-called drug bust that they’re actually calling-in air strikes. Prince, Amy, also said that Blackwater took down Muntadhar al-Zaidi, the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes the President Bush and Prince called the Secret Service “flatfooted.” And said that he’s going to be publishing a book in the fall, Erik Prince is. It’s going to be like, you know, “Chicken Soup for the Mercenary Soul.” And he said he’s going to publish a photo of the Blackwater guy taking down the man that Prince called the “Iraqi shoe bomber.” I’ve never heard an allegation there was a bomb there but- when Erik Prince is speaking in front of the media, you get one version of the story. When he’s talking in front of business leaders and the military, you hear a very different side of things and I think it’s very revealing.

The Pentagon should be asking serious questions right now of Erik Prince about what exactly his forces are doing in Afghanistan. He also said he controls four forward operating bases inside of Afghanistan and including one at the base of the mountains of Tora Bora, which is the closest U.S. base and it’s operated, in Erik Prince’s terms, by Blackwater, to the Pakistan border. But he described having these in different strategic locations around Afghanistan. This was not a speech by a man who seems like he’s concerned that he’s going out of business anytime soon. He seems to be doing quite well and very much of the center of things in Afghanistan.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Well, Jeremy we want to go to one of those clips. This has never before been broadcast. It’s difficult to hear. We have the transcript up for our television viewers. But for our radio audience, why don’t you set up this clip. This is about the Geneva Conventions.

JEREMY SCHAHILL: Right, this was recorded by someone who had to do it secretly, so it was recorded from a seat in the audience with the room ambiance, so it’s a bit hard to make out. But what Erik Prince, he says that people have come up to him and said, aren’t you concerned when you operate in the likes of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan–interesting because Blackwater has denied it works in Pakistan, but here’s Erik Prince mentioning his work in Pakistan–aren’t you concerned when you work in these places you don’t have protection under the Geneva Convention? You know, there’s a debate about this, that they could be classified as ‘unlawful combatants’ because they’re essentially mercenaries, it’s arguable under international law definitions. And Prince said, absolutely not because the people that we’re fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan are ‘barbarians who crawled out of the sewer.’ He said that they have a 1200 AD mentality. And that they don’t know where Geneva is, let alone there was a convention there. It’s interesting that he misuses the term convention there because it wasn’t a convention in the sense of a meeting, but a convention in the sense of an international agreement that was brokered that governs now, international affairs. So here’s Erik Prince expressing disdain over the debate about the status of his forces in the Geneva Conventions.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: So let’s go to that clip. Listen carefully. This is Eric Prince speaking in January. Never before been broadcast.

ERIK PRINCE: They are there to kill us. They don’t understand- you know, people ask me that all the time, ’Aren’t you concerned that you folks aren’t covered under the Geneva Convention in dealing in the likes of Iraq or Afghanistan or Pakistan?’ And I say, ‘Absolutely not,’ because these people, they crawled out of the sewer and they have a 1200 AD mentality. They’re barbarians. They don’t even know where Geneva is, let alone that there was a convention there. [LAUGHTER]

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: That was Erik Prince. Again, it was difficult to understand, you can go to our website at for a transcript, it’s up on the screen, of what he’s saying. We’re going to another clip right now, Jeremy. This is him talking about Yemen, about Saudi Arabia, about the Middle East, and specifically about the influence he thinks of Iran.

JEREMY SCHAHILL: Yeah, as he put it, as Erik Prince put it, as I said, you know Iran is of the dead center of badness in the world. And he painted this picture where Iran is fomenting a Shi’ite revolt in the region and he talked about how they’re stirring-up this revolt in Yemen and doing cross-border raids into Saudi Arabia. He talked about the Iranian influence in Somalia and other countries and talked about the Iranians providing support for improvised explosive devices in Iraq and he said, that in the case of Yemen and Saudi Arabia an Somalia, that the Iranians have had a very sinister hand in these places. So, Erik Prince proposed that the U.S. send in forces, small forces of U.S. mercenaries because he said that you’re not going to solve the problem by putting a lot of uniformed soldiers in these countries. It’s way too politically sensitive, he said. The private sector can operate there with a very, very, very small, very light footprint.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Again, let’s go to that tape. This is Erik Prince.

ERIK PRINCE: So, the Iranians are stirring it up in Yemen first, they’re trying to stir it up in the oil fields of Saudi Arabia. The Iranians have had a very, very big hand in Iraq certainly and there’s a lot of evidence that they’re supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan as well. We’ve seen more and more sophisticated IEDs, the Improvised Explosive Devices, that are blowing up our troops on the road, even some evidence of surface-to-air missiles being moved in. So the Iranians have a very sinister hand in these places. You’re not going to solve it by putting a lot of uniformed soldiers in all these countries. It’s way too politically sensitive. The private sector can operate there with a very, very, very small, very light footprint.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Again, that was Erik Prince speaking in January. Difficult to hear. Jeremy, your article really goes through all of what he says throughout this speech. Talk about- well, go ahead.

AMY GOODMAN: And interestingly, he’s speaking at the University of Michigan where President Obama just gave the commencement address yesterday.

JEREMY SCHAHILL: Right, exactly and where he will be speaking on Wednesday is Holland, Michigan is at the DeVos Fieldhouse which is owned by the DeVos family, the owners of the Orlando Magic basketball team. The biggest bank rollers of the rise of the radical religious right. His sister, Betsy, is married to Dick DeVos, the heir to that fortune. And it’s interesting because he almost always speaks of some kind of a venue there that is controlled by either his family or his extended family. The last part of what Prince said in that clip, though, is very significant. He talked about the issue of the very small footprint. That is in his line for a long time. That the U.S. government has very expensive military operations and that if you take a high-end team of special forces operators like those that work for Blackwater, former SEALS, Delta Force, JSOC guys, joint special operations command guys, that you can send in less of them and that they can inflict much more damage. So he’s suggesting this will be something that can be done right now, send them into these countries to take out ‘the bad guys,’ as he called it, he constantly uses that term, ‘the bad guys.’

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: And other things that Prince talks about, about training Afghan forces and also about Hurricane Katrina and Blackwater’s presence there in the aftermath.

JEREMY SCHAHILL: Right, he said that Blackwater trains somewhere in the ballpark of 1,500 Afghans every six weeks. Blackwater is currently competing for this massive training contract to train the Afghan police and there are some other companies doing it, too, but Blackwater right now, has a large part of the market cornered, and so they spend a lot of time with these Afghan forces. But he also sort of spoke disparagingly in a way that sort of was cultural imperialism about Afghans. He said that the Afghans that come to us, you know, they’ve never been a part of something professional and something that works and he said that, you know, they don’t know how to use toilets- and the first thing we have to do is teach them intro to toilet use. He also talks about women that are working with Blackwater, and he says, you know, they come to work in their burkas and then they put on their cammies, their camouflage, and he said, you know, they really like the baton work and they get carried away with the handcuffs, wanting to handcuff men all the time. He was sort of speaking disparagingly of them. And the at the same time turns around and says, ‘but in six weeks we turn these individuals into what U.S. generals have told me is the most effective fighting force in Afghanistan. You know, I wonder what General McChrystal thinks about that, given his Army Ranger history, that Afghans who spend six weeks with Eric Prince’s force are somehow the most effective fighting force in Afghanistan. And then finally, Sharif, as you mentioned, he- Erik Prince brags that Blackwater saved 128 people during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I was down there and- we were all down there, Amy, and we saw the Blackwater guys, we talked to some of them. They said that they were there to confront criminals and stop looters. But what Prince says that I think would be offensive to, Louisiana, is he says that Blackwater forces beat the Louisiana National Guard to the scene of the hurricane zone. He says, we jumped from five states over and beat the Louisiana National Guard. He doesn’t mention that thirty-five to forty percent of the Louisiana National Guard was deployed in Iraq along with massive amounts of equipment that could of been used in recovery operations, that could have been used in humanitarian operations there. So to say Blackwater beat the Louisiana National Guard without mentioning that part of the reason there wasn’t an effective Louisiana National Guard response was because so many of them were in Iraq and deployed abroad. And they expressed anger. I remember seeing some of them coming back into Louisiana livid with President Bush, saying, ‘He cares more about Iraq than he does about Louisiana and we should have been here.’ And so, he uses that then to launch off, Amy, and say he participated, Prince is a SEAL, in the invasion, he called it, of Haiti in 1994. And then he said that he had wanted to create a humanitarian barge like this massive vessel that could respond to natural disasters around the world, that could be supported by large pharmaceutical companies and Archer Daniels Midland, but that because of political attacks from the Left, because of his tens of millions of dollars in legal bills, he had to cancel it. And he says, you know, ‘a ship like that sure could come in handy right now in Haiti as it deals with the earthquake.

AMY GOODMAN: He also talked about the CIA bombing in Khost.

JEREMY SCHAHILL: Yeah. he did although he didn’t mention the fact that Blackwater was guarding the CIA individuals that were blown up that day. You remember there was a Jordanian double agent that managed to penetrate Forward Operating Base Chapman. He killed eight CIA personnel including two Blackwater operatives. I have learned from a very well-informed intelligence source within the U.S. government that the Blackwater men were doing security that day. So, in a way, you could say Blackwater operatives failed to protect the CIA individuals that were there that day. But Prince talked about it being a necessary cost of doing business and that’s when he segued into his disdain for the Geneva Convention, was when he started saying that the people we’re fighting are barbarians that crawled out of the sewer, but he doesn’t mention that Blackwater had personnel killed there. He also compares themselves to Valerie Plame and says that he was a victim of ‘outing’ and that the government depends on Americans who are not working officially with the government, but are contractors, for the entire intelligence apparatus. And it was unprecedented for someone like him, running a sensitive program which was essentially a CIA assassination program, to be outed publicly and compared themselves to Valerie Plame.

AMY GOODMAN: Jeremy, you’re going to Holland, Michigan tomorrow. You’re going to be speaking hours after Erik Prince.

JEREMY SCHAHILL: Right, I mean, an interfaith congregation in Holland, Michigan, when they learned that Erik Prince was going to be speaking, initially it was going to be completely closed-off to any public scrutiny- I mean, what’s the difference between closing of the public and not allowing journalists to record it in audio or video? And they said, you know, we as residents of the city are offended that this man is going to be speaking at what is supposed to be a sort of cultural celebration of the heritage of people there and that they’re going to shut it down, essentially, from any kind of coverage. So we want someone to come in and give the other side of the story, because the organizers of the festival said that Prince was going to be talking about the value-based lessons of his childhood. Well, what about the values that Erik Prince’s forces have shown in Iraq when they’ve shot innocent civilians, and stolen childhoods, like Ali Kinani, the 9-year-old boy who was the youngest victim of Blackwater at Nisour Square? We reported on that at DEMOCRACY NOW!. My intent is to go there and tell the other side of the story, the one that Erik Prince certainly won’t be discussing inside the DeVos Fieldhouse.

AMY GOODMAN: And we will link to that story that you did tell about Ali Kinani at Jeremy, thanks so much for being with us. Jeremy Scahill, independent journalist, DEMOCRACY NOW! correspondant, author of “Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army.” He’s starting a new blog at where he writes about his acquiring this tape of the speech of Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater. This is Democracy Now!,, the war and peace report. Back in a minute.


Let´s Make a Better and more Democratic Filipino Present and Future

On the very occasion of the birth of my child, born in the Philippines this weekend, the following article was published by David Pilling on the political and social condition of the Filipino regime and governance.

This very month of May 2010, the Philippines is having elections. In a nutshell, Pilling describes in the Financial Times why, since the 1950s, the Filipino majorities have not been supported by the countrys chain of command and plutarcy.

I want the Filipino world to be much betterover the next two decades for my children. Please, Filipinos, make a better present and future for the majority of Filipinos in coming months and years.
Philippine democracy under fire

By David Pilling, photographs by Colin Beere

Published: May 8 2010 01:25 | Last updated: May 8 2010 01:25
soldiers at the site of the massacre in Maguindanao
Soldiers at the site of the massacre in Maguindanao

By the time I visited in mid-March, there was almost nothing left to show what had happened on this red gash of earth in the southern Philippines. The bodies had long been removed. So had the banana leaves that police had hastily used to cover the victims once they had been dug from their shallow graves. All that remained on the lonely hillside, surrounded by palms and gently undulating slopes, were a few strands of yellow police tape, twisting in the tall talahib grass.

The crime scene was no longer cordoned off. But it was still deemed too dangerous to visit alone. I had come with an escort of nine rather bored-looking soldiers from the Philippine army. As we drove up the winding dirt track towards the massacre site, they scanned the hillsides with their M-16 rifles. Apart from the police tape, the only clue to what had happened four months earlier was a plastic banner. It had curled upon itself in the heat, making it impossible to read. When a colleague unravelled it, the short entreaty to the 57 victims came into view: “You may rest in peace while we seek justice.”

Even by the violent standards of Filipino democracy, the massacre of so many unarmed civilians – mainly women and journalists – was a shocking affair. The scale of the murders sparked vigils nationwide and angry denunciations of the powerful families that still act with near impunity in parts of this strung-out archipelago of 90 million people. The women had been travelling to register the candidacy of their male relative for governor of Maguindanao province, part of the semi-autonomous Muslim region of Mindanao, more than 600 miles south of Manila. The assumption had been that a convoy of women would be safe. It proved a fatal miscalculation.

According to accounts of the killings in court testimony, the vehicles in which the women and journalists had been travelling were stopped by a group of armed men. The convoy was diverted off the main road up the dirt track that I later followed. After about 2km, the vehicles stopped and the killing began. Once everyone was dead – witnesses say the bodies were mutilated, and some beheaded – the killers used a mechanical digger to cover the corpses with a layer of earth.
Election campaign posters of the Ampatuan clan
Election campaign posters for members of the Ampatuan clan

The armed men who carried out these atrocities were allegedly working for the Ampatuan clan, which rules the province like a fiefdom. Like many other families in the country’s more lawless parts, they maintained heavily armed private armies. These militias are often condoned by the state, which regards them as a way of protecting communities from rebels and criminals. Many of the towns in the region are named after the Ampatuans. The mansions they own dot the landscape, their walled extravagance in sharp contrast to the shacks and tumbledown houses in which most of their supporters live. Andal Ampatuan Sr, the patriarch now charged with murder, was then governor of Maguindanao. (He has since been stripped of his post, but is running for vice-governor from prison all the same.) His son, Andal Ampatuan Jr, the alleged ringleader, has been charged with mass murder. Both father and son deny the charges. “Junior” was even permitted to hold a press conference from the maximum security prison in Manila where he is being held. “Allah knows that I am innocent,” he said.On May 10, the massacre notwithstanding, the election for Maguindanao governor will proceed as planned. It will be held alongside elections for 17,000 other local and national posts up and down the island chain, and in parallel with a poll to pick the Philippines’ next president, half its Senate and the entire House of Representatives. For those still living, it will be a veritable festival of democracy.

. . .

Residents of a poor community

It would be wrong to read too much into one gruesome incident that took place in a troubled part of the Philippines, haunted by four decades of separatist rebellion and known for its almost tribalistic allegiances. But the Maguindanao massacre crystallises, albeit in extreme and graphic terms, the suppurating problems of Philippine democracy. The Philippines has all the trappings of a democratic system, including a rambunctious press, regular elections and a nominally independent judiciary. In recent months, the streets of its villages, towns and cities have swarmed with election posters and echoed to the vibrant sounds of election rallies. But as in many Latin American countries, to which the Philippines bears some resemblance, the mechanics of voting and the trappings of freedom have not brought the mass of Filipinos the fruits of democracy that are their due. Power continues to be exercised through violence and privilege, sometimes through an unholy alliance of the two. Elections, particularly at local level, can be bought. Even genuinely popular leaders – including the late Cory Aquino, whose People Power revolution swept away dictatorship in 1986 – have failed to make a noticeable difference to most Filipinos’ lives.

The disappointment of the Philippines is partly economic. In the 1950s, the country took pride of place alongside Japan as the Asian economy widely thought most likely to succeed. A recent American colony, full of English speakers, it was thought to have the modern institutions necessary to prosper. One Filipino I met recalls being surprised that members of an Indonesian dance troupe visiting Manila in the 1950s rushed to buy stockings from one of its American-style department stores. In those days, such luxuries weren’t available in most of Asia. “At that time, South Korea was all rice fields and the houses were walled with mud and roofed with thatch,” he remembers of a country whose per capita income is now more than 10 times higher than his own.
Shanties in Isla Pulo
Isla Pulo, a poor fishing and charcoal-making community outside Manila

Not only are most Filipinos poor, with a nominal per capita income of $1,750, according to the International Monetary Fund. (That compares with $3,950 for Thailand, a country hardly devoid of problems, $7,000 for Malaysia and $17,000 for Taiwan.) Its income is also extremely skewed, even by Asia’s spectacularly inegalitarian standards. Two-fifths of Filipinos live on less than $2 a day. In Manila, much of the population is crowded into heaving shanty towns of the sort portrayed in the violent and uncompromising films of Brillante Mendoza, the acclaimed Filipino director. In the countryside, the absence of land reform of the sort that underpinned modernisation in Japan and South Korea, has left vast tracts of land in the hands of a few ultra-rich families. Even Aquino, for all her populist appeal, balked at giving up the wealth her family had amassed from its ownership of enormous sugar plantations.

Such is the lack of economic opportunity that an astonishing eight million Filipinos – almost one in 10 – finds employment abroad. An army of seafarers, construction workers, nurses, maids, cleaners, cooks, bar hostesses and others has fanned out across the globe, seeking work unavailable at home. Without the massive $17bn they send home each year in remittances, the Philippine economy would collapse.

Disappointment goes beyond the economic. In an influential and controversial essay written more than 20 years ago for the Atlantic Monthly, James Fallows lamented what he called the Philippines’ “damaged culture”. He concluded that Filipinos had failed to develop the sense of nationalism that had propelled neighbours to a far more successful – and egalitarian – economic model. “When a country with extreme geographic, tribal and social-class differences, like the Philippines,” he wrote, “has only a weak offsetting sense of national unity, its public life does become a war of every man against every man.”

Only this failure of national purpose, he said, could explain how Filipinos, individually the kindest of people, could tolerate such failings and disparities. Benigno Aquino Jr, the politician whose assassination propelled his widow Cory to power, once said: “Here is a land in which a few are spectacularly rich while the masses remain abjectly poor … Here is a land consecrated to democracy but run by an entrenched plutocracy. Here, too, are people whose ambitions run high, but whose fulfilment is low and mainly restricted to the self-perpetuating elite.” Fallows was angered and perplexed that those words, uttered by Aquino some three decades earlier, applied equally to the Philippines of 1987. They remain tellingly accurate even today.

. . .
Children watching from a window in a market
Cotabato City, part of the semi-autonomous Muslim region of Mindanao

The long election campaign that will conclude on May 10 began in earnest not with the November massacre at Maguindanao, but months before that at a funeral in Manila. Corazon Aquino, whose peaceful overthrow of dictatorship in 1986 briefly kindled a national belief in the possibility of democracy, had succumbed to a long battle with cancer at the age of 76. The “necrological services”, as they are called in this most Catholic of countries, took place on an August night of torrential downpour. The streets were swirling with water. Progress through the traffic-clogged city slowed to a crawl. It took several hours to drive from Makati, the high-rise business district, through the old colonial city to Manila cathedral, to which mourners had been streaming all day and throughout the evening. Everywhere, the streets were festooned in yellow as they had been when Cory’s People Power revolution was sweeping the country. Now she lay in an open casket in the echoing vastness of the domed cathedral.

It was 11pm when I got there. Outside, tens of thousands of ordinary Filipinos waited as sheets of tropical rain poured from the sky. Many had been queuing for hours for the chance to say goodbye to the “plain housewife” who had become a saint of democracy. Inside the cathedral, the line of mourners snaked around the pews to the casket. Even the men employed to control the crowd – the funereal bouncers – were dressed in yellow. Despite the sadness of the occasion, attendees whispered excitedly that it felt like People Power all over again.

As the mourners approached the casket, they slowed almost imperceptibly for a few seconds before moving on. Standing there to greet them, just feet away from his mother’s body, was Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, dressed in a short-sleeve shirt and slacks. “People have been here since noon. They have been standing 10 or 11 hours and not even moving out of the line to eat,” the senator told me. “My mother actualised what we considered the ideal. She took over from a dictatorship and one of her first acts was to call for a commission to craft a constitution that would curtail her powers.” As he talked about the woman whose revolution had ignited the country’s democratic yearnings, I suddenly understood what every other Filipino already knew: “Noynoy” Aquino, Cory’s only son, was running for president.

. . .
election posters in the streets
Election posters on the streets of Manila

By the time I returned to Manila a few months later, the presidential race had caught fire. I knew as much when, in a 7-Eleven, I was offered a choice of cups embossed with the face of presidential candidates. Results of the 7-Eleven poll, determined by customer cup-preference, were displayed above the cash register. “Noynoy” Aquino was in the lead. Manuel “Manny” Villar, a billionaire businessman, and Joseph Estrada, a matinee idol who became president only to be impeached for corruption in 2001, were also contenders – at least if the opinions of Manila’s slushie-drinking public were anything to go by.

In fact, there were at least nine presidential candidates to replace Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as 15th president of the Philippines. Arroyo, daughter of a president, had occupied the nation’s top position for nine years, three years longer than the constitution normally allows. She had gained extra time after taking over from Estrada when he was impeached. Arroyo’s presidency has been tainted by persistent allegations of corruption and accusations that she has compromised the independence of institutions such as the Supreme Court. Yet even now her political career is not over. She is expected to win a congressional seat in her home district of Pampanga.

Even to the casual observer, there is a weary familiarity to the names on the ballot sheet, many of them sons and daughters of the families who have dominated Philippine political and economic life for decades, if not centuries. True, the US has its Bushes, Clintons and Kennedys. But this is child’s play compared with the Philippines where political scions hold a seemingly unbreakable hold on power. In Monday’s election, names from the past – in addition to Arroyo, Aquino and Estrada – include Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, son of the late dictator, who is running for the Senate, and none other than Imelda Marcos, now 80, who has dusted off her shoe collection to vie for a congressional seat. And, of course, from the more recent past, several members of the Ampatuan clan will be running.

I was in Manila to see F. Sionil José, the Philippines’ most famous novelist and a trenchant social commentator. I found him several flights up a narrow wooden staircase above the Solidaridad bookshop he founded in 1965 in the city’s old Ermita district. A large, forceful man, with a shiny, bald head, José, now 85, bears a striking resemblance to Marlon Brando’s Kurtz in Apocalypse Now. He was less than enthused about the election. “Nothing is going to change,” he chuckled grimly. “I am 85. I have seen three generations of Filipino leaders fail. They have never been able to transcend themselves, neither their class nor their ethnicity.

“Did you read The Economist obituary on her?” he asked, referring to Aquino. “It said her greatness ended when she became president. Many people were angry. But for those of us who had eyes wide open, her rule was a disaster,” he said, hissing the final “s”. “She promised land reform. She didn’t do it. She restored the oligarchy. I never forgave her for that.”

José is a polemicist, who has been branded both a Communist and a CIA spy. But his views on the Aquino presidency are not that unusual. In spite of the outpouring of emotion that I had witnessed at her funeral, many Filipinos had been disappointed by what her presidency actually achieved. She was, after all, say her critics, a member of one of the biggest landowning families in the Philippines. In the end, she did little to antagonise those from the privileged class into which she had been born.

Like many, particularly on the left, José identifies the absence of land reform as one of the great failings of Philippine democracy. His grandfather, an Ilocano farmer from northern Luzon, the largest of the Philippines’ three island groups, was tricked out of his land by educated Spanish mestizos, a privileged class who had intermarried with the Spanish colonialists. José chronicles his grandfather’s story in his moving, five-part Rosales saga that is also a history of the nation. During the revolution against the Spanish, the officers were big landlords, but the foot soldiers were peasants,” he said. “I came across so many photographs of the Filipino revolutionary soldiers in the trenches, dead in the trenches,” he said, his eyes watering. “And I looked closely and many of them were barefooted. And their feet were like this,” he said, splaying out his fingers like a five-fingered root. “They were spread – like ‘ginger’ we call it – because they worked in the mud in their bare feet.”

. . .
Armed policemen on motorbikes
Police keep a high profile in the build-up to the elections

The next day I took the 90-minute flight down from Manila to Maguindanao. From the air, as we came into land, I watched the progress of a wide, coffee-brown river as it coiled its way through thick coconut groves towards the sea. Home to two Islamic sultanates by the time the Spanish got here in the late-16th century, even today the region has a vexed relationship with the rest of the predominantly Christian nation. It has been the scene of a violent separatist conflict for four decades in which an estimated 120,000 have died. Cotabato City, a regional centre about an hour’s drive from the massacre site, had a relaxed feel in spite of the region’s reputation for violence. The Moorish arches of City Hall and the loose headscarves worn by some of the women were the only obvious signs of Islamic influence. My hotel was patrolled by heavily armed security guards, but they didn’t seem too concerned about attack. “Bringing of durian inside the hotel is strictly prohibited,” said a sign at the gate, referring to the particularly pungent fruit. “Kindly deposit it to the guard on duty.”

I had arranged to have lunch with Father Eliseo Mercado, a Catholic priest who had been living in Mindanao for nearly half a century. We met at a Chinese seafood restaurant. A man of ample girth, he wore a large wooden cross. He had studied Islam in Cairo and snorted at what he said were foolhardy attempts to stamp out the “fighting spirit” of local Muslims. He attempted to sum up the political reality of Maguindanao: “It’s feudalism, raw classic feudalism.”

For a religious man, he took a pragmatic, almost cynical, view. “I am friends of the Ampatuans. I have known all the protagonists since they were kids. But I am also friends of the people who were slaughtered,” he said matter-of-factly. He described a symbiotic relationship in which clan leaders like the Ampatuans brought votes and the politicians in Manila sent money. “The biggest feudal lord is Manila,” he said, prizing meat from a crab leg. “The Ampatuans are the creation of Manila, of the Republic. They are the Philippines.”

Colonel Benjamin Hao arranged my escort to the massacre site. He was altogether more equivocal. A mild-mannered, thoughtful man, he had been assigned to Maguindanao in January as part of Manila’s efforts to bolster security in the aftermath of the slaughter. There were now seven battalions in the area, as well as international peacekeepers. Even so, he suggested a military escort because of the possibility of attack from either separatist rebels or rogue private armies.

It was not the first time Hao had been posted to Mindanao. He had been here for seven years in the 1990s. This time he had noticed many changes: there were many more firearms, and more signs of conspicuous wealth. “It used to be a simple town. Now you can see a lot of palaces. You feel like they created a kingdom,” he said of the Ampatuans. Aside from securing law and order, the Philippine Army’s main objective was to ensure that the forthcoming elections went off smoothly, he said. “We encourage people to vote and we provide the atmosphere for them to vote,” he added dutifully. Even he did not pretend the result would be fair. “None of my friends, none of the locals here, think it will be a clean and honest vote.”

Some time after my visit to Maguindanao I spoke to Harry Roque Jr, a lawyer representing 14 victims of the massacre. He was dubious about the chances of securing justice against such powerful interests. He was even more scathing about the electoral process. “They don’t have elections in that part of Mindanao,” he said. “They just have results.” He expected Ombra Sinsuat, a close political ally of the Ampatuans, to win the governorship. Ampatuan Sr himself would be elected vice-governor, he predicted.

Of the broader electoral scene and familiar parade of candidates running for national office, he could only sigh. “The same families have been ruling the Philippines for hundreds of years. There’s no distinction between political and economic power in this country,” he said. “That just seems to be the cycle. And I have no idea how you can break it.”

David Pilling is the FT’s Asia managing editor. His last piece for the FT Weekend Magazine was about Japanese housewives and the yen carry trade.
The Philippines prepares for the polls – May-09
‘CEO’ versus ‘saint’ in Philippine vote – May-05
Glitches fuel tension in Philippine poll – May-05
Manila reverses ruling on massacre charges – May-05
Rebellion case dropped against Macapagal ally – Mar-29
Banks set deadline on farm credit agency – Jan-21


Thursday, May 06, 2010



By Kevin Stoda

David Brooks wrote a controversial article on public policy in the Wall Street Journal yesterday.

In order to calm down the extremist factions in America which are in super-blue or super red-states, Brooks suggests that public policy has more negative influence in its toolbox on society than it does positive ones, i.e. in trying to help marginal folks in society. Brooks writes, “Most of the proposals we (public policy peoples) argue about so ferociously will have only marginal effects on how we live, especially compared with the ethnic, regional and social differences that we so studiously ignore.”

In a nutshell, Brooks proposed, “(T)he first rule of policy-making should be, don’t promulgate a policy that will destroy social bonds. If you take tribes of people, exile them from their homelands and ship them to strange, arid lands, you’re going to produce bad outcomes for generations. Second, try to establish basic security.”

I cannot really argue with the concept of the state needing to avoid policies which break family bonds. I think nearly 100 years of USA public policy promoting the individualist “nuclear family” concept has led many Caucasian Americans to become sidelined in terms of good economic and social development in the post WWII eras. For example, I believe that one reason that many white Americans are opposed to foreign immigrants from Latin America, the Middle East and Asia today are because these migrants believe in strong extended family ties—Heck, some of them can take turns standing for each other in welfare lines all day. Isolated individualist Americans cannot compete if they have no family members to stand in unemployment and welfare lines with or for them. American bureaucracies make most poor single American adults (with no family members) spend 50% of their time fighting for their rights and welfare when they should be spending time with their children or getting more skills in order to find a better job.

Brooks also states, “If the government can establish a basic level of economic and physical security, people may create a culture of achievement — if you’re lucky.”

That, too, seems to be a no-brainer. If the USA would stop harassing foreign-looking peoples and begin promoting peaceful coexistence in America, perhaps unemployed (often having already been left in the lurch by America´s biggest and wealthiest banks) peoples could get along better in 2010.

Next, Brooks writes, “Third, try to use policy to strengthen relationships.”

Well, this sounds like a recap of the suggestion that family’s should be supported in America. However, the government would do well to help Americans to work together—instead of playing (1) the employed against the unemployed, (2) the mothers with no jobs against mothers who have to work and others who shouldn’t be working, and (3) conservatives versus liberals, the whole uSA would be better off.

Finally, Brooks makes some rather bad comments. Brooks says, “The best policies, like good pre-school and military service, fortify emotional bonds.”
I say YES to promoting emotional bonds in AMERICA, but If the government can establish a basic level of economic and physical security, people may create a culture of achievement — if you’re lucky. Third, try to use policy to strengthen relationships.”what is this about throwing more money into the USA military.

Come now, Mr. Brooks!!!.

Why can’t boy scouts help America? Why can’t church groups help? Why can’t other clubs help Americas and its peoples´ emotional bonds? Why do you imply, Mr. Brooks, that community groups working for peace cannot help fortify American’s emotional and community bonds, too?