Saturday, January 29, 2011


Issue #46 • January 28, 2011

“Money and Democracy Update” is Public Citizen’s weekly e-newsletter about the intersection of money and politics. It is part of our ongoing campaign to track the results of—and ultimately overturn—the U.S. Supreme Court’s reckless decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which allows for-profit corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to support or attack political candidates. We’ll update you regularly with select news stories and blog posts, legislative developments and ways to get involved.

Stunning Statistics of the Week:

* $5.6 million: The amount House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) received in corporate-linked donations during the 2010 midterm campaign
* 40 percent: The increase in corporate donations Cantor received between 2008 and 2010
* $1.2 million: The amount Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), the new head of the financial services committee, received from banking interests in the midterms. Bachus wants to undo financial reform.
* $400,000: The amount Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), new chair of the energy and commerce committee, took from energy and mining industries
* 50 percent: The increase in donations to Upton from energy and mining interests between 2008 and 2010

GOP leaders move to axe presidential public financing system
Saying that eliminating it is a no-brainer, the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives voted 239-160 this week to eliminate the public financing system for presidential campaigns. That’s the system put in place after Watergate to curb the influence of big corporations in elections. Because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is a proponent of the system, there is little chance of the system being axed. Public Citizen and other groups roundly condemned the GOP’s effort.

Obama State of Union comments on lobbying disappoint all
In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Barack Obama called for Congress to do what the White House has done: list all visits with lobbyists online. Lawmakers responded sourly, suggesting Obama should keep out of congressional operations. Campaign finance reform advocates were not impressed either. Public Citizen’s Craig Holman told The Hill that the speech was disappointing because Obama failed to mention Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the controversial U.S. Supreme Court ruling that gave corporations the green light to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections.

Koch brothers hold conservative caucus in California
The billionaire conservative brothers who backed an unsuccessful California ballot measure to suspend the state’s efforts to address climate change are holding a planning meeting this weekend in that state. The goal: To come up with a conservative agenda for future elections. Common Cause, Greenpeace and other organizations plan to protest.

Speaking of the Kochs …
They apparently can’t take a joke. Several environmentalists last year pulled a prank on the company, setting up a mock website and issuing a press release in Koch Industries’ name, claiming that the company had changed its stance on climate change. (The Koch brothers bankroll climate change denial.) Koch went to court to try to unmask the identities of the spoofers. Public Citizen is now representing them and filed a brief this week explaining why the Kochs have no case.

We got it wrong: Citizens United fallout much worse than we had thought
Now that we have suffered through our first post-Citizens United election, it is time for critics of the Supreme Court's decision to admit we got it wrong. The impact has been far greater and far worse than we anticipated.

Minnesota senator refuses to meet with anyone who supported opponent
When the Minnesota Nurses Association contacted state Sen. Scott Newman and requested a meeting, they got a nasty surprise. His office sent a note back saying that the senator will not meet with anyone who supported his opponent, either financially or otherwise. “After some careful checking, I discovered that the MNA had donated to Kimball’s campaign. Your association will be unable to schedule an appointment with Senator Newman,” the note said.

Vermont aims to end corporate personhood
Vermont state lawmakers have introduced a measure to end corporate personhood. The idea is to counteract the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and raises some interesting legal questions.

Visit to learn more!


Friday, January 28, 2011

Is Winning enough for America? for Obama? for You?

Winning in the stock market and winning in wars have been clearly demonstrated to be losing approaches in terms of building a better society and tomorrow for America. Nonetheless, Obama and Co. are at it again, America. Isn't it a lot of wasted energy? Here is what Historians Against the War believe!

Response to President Obama’s January 25, 2011 State of the Union Address
Historians Against the War, adopted by the Steering Committee, January 27, 2011

President Obama’s State of the Union address, coming two months after his party’s defeat in the 2010 elections, makes clear that he puts a high value on winning. He wants the United States to compete more effectively, to be number one around the world again. He wants every child to have the opportunity to compete to achieve the American dream. He wants American industry to compete more successfully in the global marketplace. He wants improvements to our infrastructure to create and sustain more jobs. He wants to produce innovative and competitive scientists, engineers, and technicians. Although competitiveness is not the only value Mr. Obama upholds, by making it number one and allowing it to trump other values, he fails to identify the true sources of our problems at home and abroad such as the bloated military budget and, therefore, fails to effectively address those problems.

Mr. Obama declared that “America has been the story of ordinary people who dare to dream,” but his focus on competitiveness means embracing corporate rather than democratic values and reflects Mr. Obama’s recent appointments of business executives and business-oriented advisors to crucial advisory and policy formation positions within his administration. The push for competiveness is an attempt to reassert what historian William Appleman Williams called “open door imperialism,” the export of goods and investment of capital abroad with concern only for profits, disregarding the human consequences and paving the way for military intervention when needed to achieve political stability or cooperation. What we need if we are to advance as a nation is a spirit of cooperation at home and abroad. We need to organize our educational system not around competition but around personal rights, ensuring, as John Kennedy explained in his address to the country on civil rights, that all children have the right “to be educated to the limit” of their talents. We need to organize our society around meeting the basic needs of all and cooperating with one another rather than merely asserting everyone should have the chance to try to grab the brass ring. We need to create a world economy based on equality and friendship among peoples, not a competitive race to the top which often forces people from poorer nations and working people in richer nations to the bottom. Symptomatic of the mistaken idea that the competitive market solves all problems is the adoption of NAFTA and other so-called free trade pacts. Although several Latin American states have successfully rejected the International Monetary Fund model of austerity and privatization and put resources toward expanding social benefits and infrastructure development, NAFTA has increased profits for U.S. agricultural firms, flooded Mexico with corn and meat subsidized by U.S. taxpayers, and undermined Mexico's rural economy. Workers in neither country have benefitted and large numbers of Mexicans have been forced to leave the land, work in American-owned border town factories as cheap labor under the most deplorable working and living conditions, or to seek employment in our country.

In the late nineteenth century, corporations came to dominate our economy and have often had a stranglehold on our political system. Beginning in the late 1970s, corporations with headquarters in the United Sates have transferred manufacturing capital out of the country to low-wage societies. The federal government has not regulated such outflows and indeed has embraced deregulation. The loss of good-paying jobs, attacks on unions, regressive taxes, and deregulation have created the widest wealth and income gap between the corporate elite and the rest of the population in our history. The Supreme Court’s green-lighting of unlimited corporate funding of political campaigns makes the more than century-old problem of money corrupting politics worse than ever. The corporate dictum that we must dominate other countries in order to maximize profits has turned the United States into a warfare state.

The jobs crisis that Mr. Obama hopes to address can only be understood in the context of a political situation dominated by business interests who believe that our economy runs best through a dog-eat-dog competition that has millions of unemployed people seeking jobs. Corporate interests want workers to work harder; they seek to eliminate unions and keep wages low and hours long. At the same time, the most irresponsible portion of the corporate elite wants to minimize its obligation to fund the government and to forsake the needs of ordinary people. However, it expects aid to support its business interests and relies on U.S. military power around the globe to achieve its objectives.

In his address at Tucson on January 8, Mr. Obama confirmed movingly that “those who were harmed, those who were killed -- they are part our family, an American family 300 million strong.” He suggested that we should use the occasion “to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together.”

Mr. Obama’s notion that we should be one America makes sense if it is coupled with the idea of the government serving the needs of all the people, with the bulk of the costs being borne by the people with the ability to pay. Sixty-seven years ago, during the midst of World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt used his state of the union address to propose an Economic Bill of Rights in which all of us would be guaranteed “useful and remunerative” jobs, medical care, education, and decent homes. Mr. Roosevelt combined his call for an expanded New Deal with support for tax reform, placing the tax burden on the wealthy and the large corporations because those who reap the most benefits from the economy should be willing to bear the greatest tax burden. As Mr. Roosevelt saw it at the time of his second inaugural address in 1937: “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” Mr. Roosevelt did not succeed in securing guaranteed jobs or tax reform, but he tried to achieve the ideal of community by promoting justice and that is what is needed again today.

Mr. Obama can claim some important recent achievements including the ratification of the START treaty and open participation by gay and lesbian soldiers in our military. We welcome Mr. Obama’s call for the elimination of nuclear weapons since the nuclear arms race has been dangerous, harmful to human health, and economically destructive; it continues to cause instability in world politics. We also appreciate Mr. Obama’s pledge last Saturday, on the anniversary of Roe versus Wade, to protect reproductive freedom. On most peace, national security, and human rights issues, however, Mr. Obama’s record has been disappointing to peace and justice advocates.

The peace movement is critical of Mr. Obama’s desire to maintain a significant military presence in Iraq despite his earlier advocacy of complete withdrawal of our fighting forces from that country. We need to bring a complete end to our unjust intervention in Iraq. Although 60 percent of the U.S. public now believes that the war in Afghanistan is “not worth fighting,” the administration’s December 2010 review of Afghanistan policy led to dubious claims of successes, which the president repeated in his State of the Union address, and to a decision to continue the war for four more years. The choice to continue a policy which the government’s own National Intelligence Estimate makes clear is failing is a grave error. How many more people must die before the forces in conflict sit around a table to negotiate an end to an unwinnable war? With the government making use of private corporations to carry out its military enterprise and warfare, military expenditures have continued to grow under Mr. Obama, reaching over one trillion dollars in 2010 alone. How can the government meet the needs of the people of the United States when military expenditures are at such a level?

Peace forces are also troubled by the administration’s human rights record, by its failure to close the Guantánamo prison as promised, by the opening of military trials of detainees in defiance of international human rights standards, by the many deaths of civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan in attacks that amount to war crimes, by continuing interventions against left-wing governments in Latin America, by the recent FBI raids against peace activists, and by the U.S.’s failure to pressure Israel to end its denial of Palestinian rights. Although peace and justice activists support the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” we do not agree that democratic reform should be used to promote further militarization of our society as Mr. Obama did with his call to universities to open their doors to the ROTC and military recruiters. Our university graduates are needed in fields that meet people’s needs and that develop the country’s infrastructure rather than in staffing an overextended empire.

The human cost to the civilians in societies where we are intervening and to our own and other combatants is tragic and unsustainable. Continuing down the path of spending almost as much on the military as all other countries put together is bankrupting the country, failing to achieve the control our government seeks, and making us less safe.

Fifty years ago, President Eisenhower’s farewell address warned the country against domination by the military-industrial complex. Eisenhower recognized the destructive nature of militarization. He said in 1953: “"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.” Unfortunately, domination by the military-industrial complex has grown stronger in the past five decades with negative consequences to our democratic polity. It has hampered the ability of our economy to meet the needs of our people and contribute in a positive way to help the poorer people of the world.

Historians Against the War (HAW) was formed in 2003 in response to the Iraq War to offer historical expertise to a burgeoning mass movement in our country against an unjust war. Like the mass movement against the unjust Vietnam War, the movement against the Iraq war raised pragmatic, legal, and moral questions and contributed to a change in U.S. policy. The Democratic capture of Congress in 2006 and Mr. Obama’s election in 2008 owe much to the popular revulsion to the Iraq war, stimulated in part by the anti-war movement.

Since Mr. Obama’s election, peace activists have held vigils, teach-ins, participated in the World Social Forum, the One Nation Coming Together march led by the AFL-CIO, and the National Day of Action to Confront U.S. Militarism in the Americas. Nevertheless, we acknowledge that the grass roots pressure for peace is modest right now. Movements wax and wane and presidents, of course, have to give leadership every day and sometimes trim their sails to deal with political realities.

Our standard is not perfection but having the political courage to move in the right direction. The grass roots will stir again, helped along by peace and justice movements and by contingencies yet to develop, but will Mr. Obama be their ally? We need the president to have the political courage to honestly address the need to finally and fully extricate us from Iraq, end our involvement in the failed war in Afghanistan, contribute to finding peaceful and just solutions to other foreign policy problems, and create a new national security posture based on peace, friendship and equality with other nations rather than domination via overweening military power.


Thursday, January 27, 2011



By Kevin Anthony Stoda, International Educator and Multicultural Education Coach

I have written several articles over the decades on the issues of “wasta”, education, economy, and other needed reforms in Kuwait and the Gulf states. For example, in summer 2007, I wrote on the problem of importing American-style university’s into Kuwait without a commitment to academics and training students and parents, e.g. in terms of what good study habits are required (or need to be learnt) in trying to succeed in western universities generally.


NOTE: The term “wasta” can refer to bribery in the Middle East, but generally refers more often to having and maintaining appropriate social, political, and economic connections to get things achieved in Kuwait and neighboring lands. Such a need of political, social, and economic connections is naturally important in most any country on the planet. In Germany, for example, “wasta” is known as Vitamin B—something you can’t live without. (Vitamin B stands for “Beziehung”, which means “connections” or knowing the right people.) Meanwhile, in Kuwait and more traditional (family-tribally oriented) societies around the globe, “wasta” is required in-the-extreme, in order to get most any major project done—or at least done on time.

Recently, the amount of Arab hooliganism (often involving Kuwaiti youth) has been on the rise. This is certainly one of the results of the lack of reform in the area of “wasta” system in society over the past decade. “Wasta” promotes a sort of “untouchability” amongst Kuwaitis and occasionally includes certain-connected Saudi Arabs (and even a few Americans) in that country. I witnessed this rise in hooliganism myself in 2008 when twice buses I was in were attacked by rock-throwing youth. I am told by Filipinos living in Kuwait today that the danger of being attacked or mistreated in the streets in 2011 is still on the rise.

For more on poverty and subclasses--or nationality castes--in Kuwait, please read my 2008 article, called “KUWAIT INDEPENDENCE DAY, KUWAIT NATIONAL DAY, &THE RISE OF A NEW FACELESS POVERTY ON THE MIDDLE EASTERN LANDSCAPE.”

This past week, I was struck by the increase in editorials, letters-to-the-editor, and news reports in (and from) Kuwait. I thought: Finally, the country is acknowledging the fact that, even after a decade of study and preparation, the problems remain in Kuwait because many Kuwaiti students are still “unprepared to take-on Western-style educational training in their homeland”. Sadly, this wass the first year serious public debate has occurred in that wealthy country. Still more sadly, foreign-born faculty members who have long opposed the Kuwaiti-wasta tradition are now made scapegoats by Kuwaiti students, parents, and tribes.

In short, the issue “wasta versus actually studying” in order to obtain good grades is only now-being discussed for the first time in Kuwaiti (by media and) amongst the political and social elite of the country. Hopefully, the eventual consensus in Kuwait will be that social “wasta” is not enough for Arab youth to succeed in an American or western-style university. However, in the short-term, blaming the messenger is the standard approach in the Kuwaiti press.

This 10-year delay in an important societal discussion is particularly distressing because in the interim many wealthy boards-of-directors at such new private western-style universities in Kuwait have (a) intentionally been hiring registration-officers, recruitment personnel, and student counselors (b) who have been persuading students to believe that the dozen-plus new private universities and schools in the country are to be run like diploma mills—rather than serious universities.

NOTE: This matter of whether the university was to be a diploma mill or an authentic-Western Institution has been of major debate among faculty, staff and students at universities since 2001, i.e. when the first private universities, named Gulf University for Science and Technology (GUST, was opened at just about the time that the horrors of 9-11 in that year occurred.


In the wake of the most recent media-blitz by disgruntled students and Kuwaiti parents, the following letter was written by one faculty member at GUST. Meanwhile, faculty who have felt und fairly criticized for demanding students to study, i.e. in order to pass their courses, have been quitting left-and-right throughout the country. (Others, in the past, like myself, were not renewed contractually because of our due-diligence, i.e. diligence in trying to train and serve students in terms of better study habits, better standards, and in guiding GUST students in self-improvement and career goal setting activities.)

Hello GUST,

I am appalled by the terrible reactions to and comments by some students on the percentage of failed students in the just concluded fall 2010-11 semester. I am also terribly shocked by the way some GUST students, instead of digging out the actual reasons behind failures, have, without a second thought, put the blame on the faculty unilaterally and unfairly. One student in the newly created website ‘GUST fails’ even went to the extent of hoping for an instructor to choke and die, no need to mention numerous humiliating comments made about other instructors.

All GUST faculty members, I have good reasons to believe, are extremely saddened to see that some of their own students have made them the scapegoats for failures, apparently an act purported to win the support of general students and deflect family pressures.

Expressions of frustrations and anger by the failed students may not be unusual since private education requires huge investments in terms of money, stressful time and energy. That explains only one side of the coin; let’s have a look at the other side to better understand why some students fail despite best faculty efforts to face off the same.

Reality Check

1. Statistics tells us that 8.26% students (a total of 990 students) have failed different courses this semester whereas the percentages of failed students in the fall and spring semesters of 2009-10 and 2010 were respectively 8.43% (888 students) and 8.65% (976 students). This is not to justify student failures but one has to note that the percentages of failed students rather highlight a general trend, there has been no big jump. In the last two semesters the total number of GUST students has shot up, so has the number of failed students slightly. A happy point to note, at the same time, is a gradual increase in the number of students credited with A and B grades. This is a remarkable development and we heartily welcome our brilliant students to step into the future to conquer the world!!

2. Failure is unpalatable, often depressing. Blaming someone for failures is easy, the more important thing is to ask to oneself: Why do I fail? There is a definite need for self-criticisms by our students. At GUST, it has been regularly observed and noted by faculty that a good number of students in every class are late by 15 and in some cases by 20 to 25 minutes, and once inside the classrooms many students keep talking to each other while paying the least attention to class discussions and debates. Attentive students who are keen in learning are disturbed by the late comers and the troublemakers. Many students just enter the classrooms with blackberry cell phones in their hands and get involved in text messaging. There are also habitual student practices at GUST of swiping ID cards and leaving the classes. Instructors like me struggle hard to maintain an atmosphere of teaching and learning in the classrooms. Sometimes we go tough to restore class discipline and do not mind if some students find us rude for that. Needless to say such practices largely fail the failed students.

3. I am not complaining that some of our students are disrespectful to their instructors though they show temper and are impolite occasionally. What overwhelms me most is the student culture of grade bargaining. There is an inherent belief in most students that grades are negotiable and that instructors can give them any grades at the end of the semester. Even some parents seem to cherish the same belief since they come to request higher grades for their sons and daughters. Awesome! Indeed. This absurd belief in obtaining a higher grade without proper efforts is corrosive and self-damaging, to say the least. The sooner we get rid of this self-defeating bargaining culture the better.

4. I feel to leave a note of caution for GUST Student leaders, though I believe I should not. I have great respect for student leadership in organizing semester long activities and running campus life smoothly, so take it easy. GUST is your institution and definitely you are proud of it. You are intimately connected to the rise and fall of GUST, its name and fame in and beyond Kuwait, the Gulf region and the whole world at large. It was more than shocking that a few students de-abbreviated GUST in the ugliest possible way (one student wrote: GUST stands for Gross Utilities and Stupid Teaching; another student said: GUST equates to Greedy, Unfair, Stressful and Torture). Such labelling does not help, it only undermines your own institution, creates a climax of mistrust in the general public about private universities and education in Kuwait. GUST is not that a second or third class university, you have got big stakes in its survival and continued thriving.

Need for Policy Initiatives

5. Approximately 95% of GUST students are Kuwaiti nationals. That means GUST is not multicultural in terms of student orientations, competitions, achievements and even failures. GUST students, and for that matter students from other private universities, are not familiar with competitive educational environment, and feel less compelled to enhance educational achievements and boost up their overall standings. Let’s invite Adam Smith to set the rules – survive through competition and excel to your utmost. This is the best way to avoid failures. Let’s open up the doors of GUST to students from other countries, at least the GCC countries.

6. Admission criteria should be reconsidered. We should think a few times whether students with poor knowledge of English and low high school GPA be admitted to GUST. Students who fail usually possess poor English speaking and writing skills which is unacceptable to an elite English medium instruction university like GUST. Let’s raise the admission criteria to arrest the downhill sliding in the rate of student success.

7. There is a need to involve parents in the education process to the extent GUST rules would permit. My personal experience indicates that parents have a general feeling that their kids are doing excellent while instructors fail them. What they obviously do not know is what we know about their sons and daughters. Many parents are not definitely aware of their children who are less interested in classes, like to swipe ID cards and leave the classes, bring fake medical notes to justify absences (some are obviously genuine medical cases), and last but not the least run after instructors to remove FAs. If duly informed, parents can help us out to correct the errant behaviours of their children and help them succeed with the motto: don’t fail, try hard, succeed better, bring glory to the family.

Sorry to send you this long mail. As a faculty member, I believe, I have the right to express my opinion since I am a part of GUST.

Best regards,


I had written similar letters promoting reform when I worked in Kuwaiti universities and schools from 2004-2008.--KAS


I want to end this article by noting that when I taught for 5 semesters at Gulf University from 2004- through 2006 I did have a few good students—and had others who learned to study better while I worked with them. In short, during that period, I found upwards of 10% of the students to be diligently working hard towards graduation—and I found that many of these same students wanted their university to become renowned for its rigor.

However, I have been told by GUST faculty over the last 5 years that the standards of student recruitment have continued to decrease while no significant counseling and remedial assistance was implemented (and required of students) across the university, in order to prepare the other 80%-plus of GUST’s students for such rigorous educational improvement ( & achievement).

In short, empowerment did not include a focus on improving student’s achievement—only by flattering many of them and their family’s with ill-earned diplomas. This certainly has left good or hard-working students with a bad taste in their mouths, i.e. concerning their alma mater. That is too bad. Initially, the university had so much potential. Worse still, other universities were forced to decline with GUST and its recruitment tactics driving the standards down for other private institutions over a ten-year period.

I hope this next decade, 2011-2020 sees a massive turn-around for my (former) Arab students’ former alma mater’s in Kuwait.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Intelligent Bacteria: Cells are Incredibly Smart

Intelligent Bacteria: Cells are Incredibly Smart

For years I just sort of assumed that cells were self-reproducing blobs of protein. Maybe you did too. Turns out they’re way smarter than that. You will be amazed at this video. Dr. Bonnie Bassler from Princeton University presents a beautiful TED talk on how bacteria communicate with each other by forming words out of simple molecules.

She also explains…

•How bacteria strategize together on how to ‘take down’ their host
•Elegant systems of bioluminescence
•Symbiotic relationships between organisms
•Cells speak multiple languages
Enjoy this remarkable presentation. And a sincere thanks to Patrik Beno for sharing it with me.

Perry Marshall

Further Reading: Nature Magazine on the sophisticated community behavior of Myxobacteria


Beyond the Swindle of the Corporate University: Higher Education in the Service of Democracy

Beyond the Swindle of the Corporate University: Higher Education in the Service of Democracy
Tuesday 18 January 2011

by: Henry A. Giroux, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed

Thinking is not the intellectual reproduction of what already exists anyway. As long as it doesn't break off, thinking has a secure hold on possibility. Its insatiable aspect, its aversion to being quickly and easily satisfied, refuses the foolish wisdom of resignation. The utopian moment in thinking is stronger the less it ... objectifies itself into a utopia and hence sabotages its realization. Open thinking points beyond itself. -Theodor W. Adorno

In spite of being discredited by the economic recession of 2008, neoliberalism, or market fundamentalism as it is called in some quarters, has once again returned with a vengeance. The Gilded Age has come back with big profits for the rich and increasing impoverishment and misery for the middle and working class. Political illiteracy has cornered the market on populist rage, providing a political bonus for those who are responsible for massive levels of inequality, poverty, and sundry other hardships. As social protections are dismantled, public servants are denigrated and public goods such as schools, bridges, health care services and public transportation deteriorate, the Obama administration unapologetically embraces the values of economic Darwinism and rewards its chief beneficiaries: mega banks and big business. Neoliberalism - reinvigorated by the passing of tax cuts for the ultra rich, the right-wing Republican Party taking over of the House of Representatives and an ongoing successful attack on the welfare state - proceeds, once again, in zombie-like fashion to impose its values, social relations and forms of social death upon all aspects of civic life.(1)

With its relentless attempts to normalize the irrational belief in the ability of markets to solve all social problems, neoliberal market fundamentalism puts in place policies designed to dismantle the few remaining vestiges of the social state and vital public services. More profoundly, it has weakened if not nearly destroyed those institutions that enable the production of a formative culture in which individuals learn to think critically, imagine other ways of being and doing and connect their personal troubles with public concerns. Matters of justice, ethics and equality have once again been exiled to the margins of politics. Never has this assault on the democratic polity been more obvious, if not more dangerous, than at the current moment when a battle is being waged under the rubric of neoliberal austerity measures on the autonomy of academic labor, the classroom as a site of critical pedagogy, the rights of students to high quality education, the democratic vitality of the university as a public sphere and the role played by the liberal arts and humanities in fostering an educational culture that is about the practice of freedom and mutual empowerment.(2)

Memories of the university as a citadel of democratic learning have been replaced by a university eager to define itself largely in economic terms. As the center of gravity shifts away from the humanities and the notion of the university as a public good, university presidents ignore public values while refusing to address major social issues and problems.(3) Instead, such administrators now display corporate affiliations like a badge of honor, sit on corporate boards and pull in huge salaries. A survey conducted by The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that "19 out of 40 presidents from the top 40 research universities sat on at least one company board."(4) Rather than treated as a social investment in the future, students are now viewed by university administrators as a major source of revenue for banks and other financial institutions that provide funds for them to meet escalating tuition payments. For older generations, higher education opened up opportunities for self-definition as well as pursuing a career in the field of one's choosing. It was relatively cheap, rigorous and accessible, even to many working-class youth. But as recent events in both the United States and Britain make clear, this is no longer the case. Instead of embodying the hope of a better life and future, higher education has become prohibitively expensive and exclusionary, now offering primarily a credential and, for most students, a lifetime of debt payments. Preparing the best and the brightest has given way to preparing what might be called Generation Debt.(5)

What is new about the current threat to higher education and the humanities in particular is the increasing pace of the corporatization and militarization of the university, the squelching of academic freedom, the rise of an ever increasing contingent of part-time faculty and the view that students are basically consumers and faculty providers of a salable commodity such as a credential or a set of workplace skills. More strikingly still is the slow death of the university as a center of critique, vital source of civic education and crucial public good. Or, to put it more specifically, the consequence of such dramatic transformations has resulted in the near death of the university as a democratic public sphere. Many faculty are now demoralized as they increasingly lose their rights and power. Moreover, a weak faculty translates into one governed by fear rather than by shared responsibilities, and one that is susceptible to labor-bashing tactics such as increased workloads, the casualization of labor and the growing suppression of dissent. Demoralization often translates less into moral outrage than into cynicism, accommodation and a retreat into a sterile form of professionalism. What is also new is that faculty now find themselves staring into an abyss, either unwilling to address the current attacks on the university or befuddled over how the language of specialization and professionalization has cut them off from not only connecting their work to larger civic issues and social problems, but also developing any meaningful relationships to a larger democratic polity.

As faculty no longer feel compelled to address important political issues and social problems, they are less inclined to communicate with a larger public, uphold public values, or engage in a type of scholarship that is available to a broader audience.(6) Beholden to corporate interests, career building and the insular discourses that accompany specialized scholarship, too many academics have become overly comfortable with the corporatization of the university and the new regimes of neoliberal governance. Chasing after grants, promotions and conventional research outlets, many academics have retreated from larger public debates and refused to address urgent social problems. Assuming the role of the disinterested academic or the clever faculty star on the make, these so-called academic entrepreneurs simply reinforce the public's perception that they have become largely irrelevant. Incapable, if not unwilling, to defend the university as a democratic public sphere and a crucial site for learning how to think critically and act with civic courage, many academics have disappeared into a disciplinary apparatus that views the university not as a place to think, but as a place to prepare students to be competitive in the global marketplace.

This is particularly disturbing given the unapologetic turn that higher education has taken in its willingness to mimic corporate culture and ingratiate itself to the national security state.(7) Universities now face a growing set of challenges arising from budget cuts, diminishing quality, the downsizing of faculty, the militarization of research and the revamping of the curriculum to fit the interests of the market. In the United States, many of the problems in higher education can be linked to low funding, the domination of universities by market mechanisms, the rise of for-profit colleges, the intrusion of the national security state and the lack of faculty self-governance, all of which not only contradict the culture and democratic value of higher education, but also makes a mockery of the very meaning and mission of the university as a place both to think and to provide the formative culture and agents that make a democracy possible. Universities and colleges have been largely abandoned as democratic public spheres dedicated to providing a public service, expanding upon humankind's great intellectual and cultural achievements and educating future generations to be able to confront the challenges of a global democracy. As the humanities and liberal arts are downsized, privatized and commodified, higher education finds itself caught in the paradox of claiming to invest in the future of young people, while offering them few intellectual, civic and moral supports.

If the commercialization, commodification and militarization of the university continues unabated, higher education will become yet another one of a number of institutions incapable of fostering critical inquiry, public debate, human acts of justice and common deliberation. Such democratic public spheres are especially important to defend at a time when any space that produces "critical thinkers capable of putting existing institutions into question" is under siege by powerful economic and political interests.(8)

Higher education has a responsibility not only to search for the truth regardless of where it may lead, but also to educate students to make authority and power politically and morally accountable. Though questions regarding whether the university should serve strictly public rather than private interests no longer carry the weight of forceful criticism as they did in the past, such questions are still crucial in addressing the purpose of higher education and what it might mean to imagine the university's full participation in public life as the protector and promoter of democratic values.

What needs to be understood is that higher education may be one of the few public spheres left where knowledge, values and learning offer a glimpse of the promise of education for nurturing public values, critical hope and a substantive democracy. It may be the case that everyday life is increasingly organized around market principles; but confusing a market-determined society with democracy hollows out the legacy of higher education, whose deepest roots are moral, not commercial. This is a particularly important insight in a society where not only the free circulation of ideas is being replaced by ideas managed by the dominant media, but critical ideas are increasingly viewed or dismissed as banal, if not reactionary. As Frank Rich has pointed out, the war against literacy and informed judgment is made abundantly clear in the populist rage sweeping across the country, a massive collective anger that "is aimed at the educated, not the wealthy."(9) Democracy places civic demands upon its citizens and such demands point to the necessity of an education that is broad-based, critical and supportive of meaningful civic values, participation in self-governance and democratic leadership. Only through such a formative and critical educational culture can students learn how to become individual and social agents, rather than merely disengaged spectators, able both to think otherwise and to act upon civic commitments that demand a rethinking and reconstituting of basic power arrangements fundamental to promoting the common good and producing a meaningful democracy. It is important to insist that as educators we ask, again and again, how is it that higher education can survive as a democratic public sphere in a society in which its civic culture and modes of critical literacy collapse as it becomes more and more difficult to distinguish opinion and emotive outbursts from a sustained argument and logical reasoning. Equally important is the need for educators and young people to take on the challenge of defending the university as a democratic public sphere. Tony Morrison gets it right in arguing:

If the university does not take seriously and rigorously its role as a guardian of wider civic freedoms, as interrogator of more and more complex ethical problems, as servant and preserver of deeper democratic practices, then some other regime or ménage of regimes will do it for us, in spite of us and without us.(10)

Defending the humanities, as Terry Eagleton has recently argued, means more than offering an academic enclave for students to learn history, philosophy, art and literature. It also means stressing how indispensable these fields of study are for all students if they are to be able to make any claim whatsoever on being critical and engaged individual and social agents. But the humanities do more. They also provide the knowledge, skills, social relations and modes of pedagogy that constitute a formative culture in which the historical lessons of democratization can be learned, the demands of social responsibility can be thoughtfully engaged, the imagination can be expanded and critical thought can be affirmed. As an adjunct of the academic-military-industrial complex, higher education has nothing to say about teaching students how to think for themselves in a democracy, how to think critically and engage with others and how to address through the prism of democratic values the relationship between themselves and the larger world. We need a permanent revolution around the meaning and purpose of higher education, one in which academics are more than willing to move beyond the language of critique and a discourse of both moral and political outrage, however necessary to a sustained individual and collective defense of the university as a vital public sphere central to democracy itself.

Join the movement for truth - support brave, independent reporting today by making a contribution to Truthout.

Such a debate is important for both defending higher education as a public good and funding it as a social right. Most importantly, such a debate represents a crucial political intervention regarding an entire generation's sense of the future and their role within it. Students are not consumers; they are first and foremost citizens of a potentially global democracy and, as such, should be provided with "the full range of human knowledge, understanding and creativity - and so ensure that [they] have the opportunity to develop their full intellectual and creative potential, regardless of family wealth."(11) As neoliberal ideology is enlisted to narrow the parameters of the purpose of higher education, it increasingly limits - through high tuition rates, technocratic modes of learning, the reduction of faculty to temporary workers and authoritarian modes of governance - the ability of many young people to attend college, while at the same time refusing to provide a critical education to those who do. Not enough faculty, students, parents, and others concerned about the fate of young people and democracy are mobilizing both in and outside of the university, willing and able to defend higher education as a public good and critical pedagogy as a moral and political practice that builds the capacity of young people to become engaged social agents.

Central to any viable, democratic view of higher education is the necessity to challenge the notion that the only value of education is to drive economic progress and transformation in the interest of national prosperity. We must also reconsider how the university in a post-9/11 era is being militarized and increasingly reduced to an adjunct of the growing national security state. The public has given up on the idea of either funding higher education or valuing it as a public good indispensable to the life of any viable democracy. This is all the more reason for academics to be in the forefront of a coalition of activists, public servants, activists, and others in both rejecting the growing corporate management of higher education and developing a new discourse in which the university and particularly the humanities, can be defended as a vital social and public institution in a democratic society.

If academics cannot defend the university as a public good and democratic public sphere, then who will? If we cannot or refuse to take the lead in joining with students, labor unions, public school teachers, artists, and other cultural workers in defending higher education as the most crucial institution in establishing the formative culture necessary for a thriving democracy, then we will turn the humanities, liberal arts and the larger university over to a host of dangerously anti-democratic economic, political, cultural and social forces. If liberal learning and the humanities collapse under the current assaults on higher education, we will witness the emergence of a neoliberal state, and the civic and democratic role of higher education, however tarnished, will disappear. Under such circumstances, higher education and especially the humanities, will enter a death spiral unlike anything we have seen in the past. Not even a shadow of its former self, the university will become simply another institution and vocational program entirely at odds with imperatives of critical thought, dissent, social responsibility and civic courage.

Defending the university means more than exhibiting a combination of critique and moral outrage. It means developing a critical and oppositional culture and collective movement within the university and joining with social movements outside of its now largely segregated walls. Reaching a broader public about the social and democratic character of higher education is crucial, especially since a large part of the public has given "up on the idea of educating people for democratic citizenship"(12) and viewing higher education as a public good. There is more at stake here than the deep responsibilities of academics to defend academic freedom, the tenure system and faculty autonomy, however important. The real issues lie elsewhere and speak to preserving the public character of higher education and recognizing that defending it as a democratic public sphere is largely about creating the crucial pedagogical conditions for developing a generation of young people willing to fight for democracy as both a promise and a possibility. Walter Benjamin once wrote, "He who cannot take sides should keep silent." If academics want to prevent the further colonization of higher education by a phalange of anti-democratic forces extending from corporate power brokers and mega-millionaires to right-wing ideologues and the vested interest of the military-industrial-academic complex, they cannot afford to be either silent or distant observers. The stakes are too high and the struggle too important. Time is running out for reclaiming higher education as a democratic public sphere and a place for teachers and students to think critically and act responsibly. The militarized culture of neoliberalism is completely at odds with the pedagogical conditions necessary for imaginative risk taking, dissent, dialogue, engaged scholarship, faculty autonomy and democratic modes of governance. Higher education is one of the few spaces left where democratic identities, values and desires can be created. If the future of young people matters as much as democracy itself, this is a struggle that needs to begin today.


1. Some useful sources on neoliberalism include: Lisa Duggan, "The Twilight of Equality." (Boston: Beacon Press, 2003); David Harvey, "A Brief History of Neoliberalism," (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005); Wendy Brown, "Edgework: Critical Essays on Knowledge and Politics," (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005); Alfredo Saad-Filho and Deborah Johnston, eds., "Neoliberalism: A Critical Reader," (London: Pluto Press, 2005); Neil Smith, "The Endgame of Globalization," (New York: Routledge, 2005); Aihwa Ong, Neoliberalism as Exception: Mutations in Citizenship and Sovereignty (Durham: Duke University Press, 2006); Randy Martin, "An Empire of Indifference: American War and the Financial Logic of Risk Management," (Durham: Duke University Press, 2007); Naomi Klein, "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism," (New York: Knopf, 2007); Henry A. Giroux, "Against the Terror of Neoliberalism," (Boulder: Paradigm Publishers, 2008); David Harvey, "The Enigma of Capital and the Crisis of Capitalism," (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010); and Gerard Dumenil and Dominique Levy, "The Crisis of Neoliberalism," (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2011).

2. See, for example, Stanley Aronowitz, "Against Schooling: For an Education That Matters," (Boulder: Paradigm Publishers, 2008); Christopher Newfield, "Unmaking the Public University," (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008); and Ellen Schrecker, "The Lost Soul of Higher Education," (New York: New Press, 2010). One of the most extensive compilations analyzing this assault can be found in Edward J. Carvalho and David B. Downing, eds., "Academic Freedom in the Post-9-11 Era," (New York: Palgrave, 2010); and my forthcoming, Henry A. Giroux, "Education and the Crisis of Public Values," (New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2011).

3. See Isabelle Bruno and Christopher Newfield, "Can the Cognitariat Speak?" E-Flux No. 14 (March 2010). Online at: See also Christopher Newfield, "Unmaking the Public University," (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008).

4. Ibid.

5. For an interesting critique of this issue, see the special issue of The Nation called "Out of Reach: Is College Only for the Rich?" (June 29, 2009).

6. This argument has been made against academics for quite some time, though it has either been forgotten or conveniently ignored by many faculty. See, for example, various essays in C. Wright Mills, "The Powerless People: The Role of the Intellectual in Society" in C. Wright Mills, "The Politics of Truth: Selected Writings of C. Wright Mills," (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), pp. 13-24; Edward Said, "Humanism and Democratic Criticism," (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004); and Henry A. Giroux and Susan Searls Giroux, "Take Back Higher Education," (New York: Palgrave, 2004).

7. On the university's relationship with the national security state, see David Price, "How the CIA Is Welcoming Itself Back Onto American University Campuses: Silent Coup," CounterPunch (April 9-11, 2010). Online at: See also Nick Turse, "How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives," (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2008); and Henry A. Giroux, "The University in Chains: Confronting the Military-Industrial-Academic Complex," (Boulder: Paradigm, 2007).

8. Cornelius Castoriadis, "Democracy as Procedure and Democracy as Regime," Constellations 4:1 (1997), p. 5.

9. Frank Rich, "Could She Reach the Top in 2012? You Betcha," New York Times (November 20, 2010), p. WK8.

10. Toni Morrison, "How Can Values Be Taught in This University," Michigan Quarterly Review (Spring 2001), p. 278.

11. Stefan Collini, "Browne's Gamble," London Review of Books, Vol. 32, No. 21 (November 4, 2010). Online at:

12. David Glenn, "Public Higher Education Is 'Eroding From All Sides,' Warn Political Scientists," Chronicle of Higher Education (September 2, 2010). Online at:



HAW Provide Another Round of Modern History Articles to Update You

From the uncovered revolt in Tunesia to the uncovered battle fronts around the world, big medi is failing us. Historians Against War try to help you know what to read.

Historians Against War are always doing a good job of collecting writings to keep ypu up-to-dateon your History. For example, major media outlest this past week left us without much information on the revolt and then the revolution(?) in Tunesia, an event that has been shaking up the Middle East. Here are some related tales about our mdoern world history that you may need to hone up on.---KAS

"How the Power of Myth Keeps Us Trapped in War"

By Ira Chernus,, posted January 20

"Tunisia's Democratic Revolution"

By Stephen Zunes,, posted January 19

"Violence Doesn't Work"

By Howard Zinn,, posted January 18 (from the September 15, 2001 issue of The Progressive)

"From Military-Industrial Complex to Permanent War State"

By Gareth Porter,, posted January 17

"Ike's Warning Resonates: 50 Years Later, Obama Should Learn Eisenhower's Lesson about the Military-Industrial Complex",0,6323562.story

By Melvin A. Goodman, Baltimore Sun, posted January 17

"Twisting MLK's Message of Peace"

By William Loren Katz, ConsortiumNews, posted January 17

"It's Still the Same Old Story--From Guns to Nukes"

By Lawrence A. Wittner, History News Network, posted January 17

The author is a professor of history emeritus at SUNY Albany

"An Assassination's Long Shadow"

By Adam Hochschild, New York Times, posted January 16

On the murder of Patrice Lumumba, January 16, 1961

"Historians Criticized as Often AWOL from Public Debate over "War on Terror'"

By Peter Schmidt, Chronicle of Higher Education, posted January 12

"How Many Gitmo Alumni Take Up Arms? Not Nearly as Many as the Department of Defense Is Claiming"

By Peter Bergen, Kathleen Tiedemann, and Andrew Lebovitch, Foreign Policy, posted January 11


Thursday, January 20, 2011

In Search of Stoda

Stoda, Stood, Studa, Staden, Von Stade—That’s Me (us)
By Kevin Anthony Stoda

I came across the website WORDNIK--Zeitgeist • Word of the day

I hadn’t known that the name STODA [1] had been picked up in the literati world prior to this. I was more than flattered by some of the examples given for this zeitgeist of a word, name or phrase.

Then I was inspired to write down some notes for the many remaining Stodas (and my new daughter and wife0—as our many European Stoda cousins, such as the Count Von Stade clan have apparently disowned us—probably long before Friederich Stoda (Stud or Stoda or Stood) left Wickerstadt approximately some 175 years ago—to join the American experiment and ultimately find his demise due to a fever from sleeping for weeks on cold ground during the War between North and South a few decades later.

Great Great Great Grandpa Stoda was with a Wisconsin unit. (which goes to show that eventually we all are connected to someone who has relatives in Wisconsin as it says at the end of the movie 2012.)

A Stoda? What’s that?
When I was a child growing up, I was teased about my last name. Bullies would “teaze” it, tease me about it, and mispronounces it.

My brother and I were called:


Our family is actually named Stoda—and is pronounced as it is spelled.

Our household was informed in letters by certain genealogy folks back in the 1970s--who sent out mass-mailings drumming up their own business— that the name was quite important. These same mass-mailing adverts also tried to convince my parents to pay for elaborate and/or questionable research on the family tree by noting in their letter that (1) there were no more than 50 households in the USA with that “handle” and (2) the name was derived from some European royalty that had its coat of arms.

Well, my family was interested in getting to our roots but we didn’t have money set aside for that sort possible scam. Later, I became a history major and world traveler. Slowly, I have begun to pick up bits-and-pieces over the years. For example, my dad said that there were a lot of “Bohemians” on our side of the family. I had thought that meant that they were fringe and avant-garde types from the turn of the 20th century. Later, s I came to know European geography, I began to look at the real Bohemian landscape for information. Recently, I have learned that there are several Stoda place names in the Bohemian region of the Czech Republic.

However, when for the first time in 1989. I went to Prague for the first time in 1989, I had equired whether the name was, in fact, Bohemian. I was told by the Bohemians in Prague that it, the name Stoda, sounded like it was Moravian. The Moravians in Prague said it sounded Bohemian to them. On the other hand, both the Moravians and Bohemians agree, thought that it might be Slovakian.

In addition, the Polish people I met in later years have agreed that it—Stoda-- must be a Slavish name or word or root. It may even be Polish, too.

It was only years later—i.e. after talking to my father and several relatives once again about their memories of their ancestors—did I once-again get onto the track that the name Stoda was Germanic and probably of Saxon origin—i.e. like those Anglo-Saxons who had turned-over the language and the cultures of the British isles some 1500 years ago. (I have also gotten some hints on-line recently that STODA is perhaps a Friesian word or name. It certainly has a definition in Norsk—an old Scandinavian and Viking language. It means roughly watch-a-ma-call-it. )

In any case, several years ago, I came up with a British (English) for “Stad”—from which shows that possibly my family’s last name shad left its mark in the UK (or visa versa) .

stād) definition
n. 1. A stadium.
1. A landing place or wharf.

The “Stade” also has it’s place in Hastings—as in “the battle of Hastings“. Stade is an important location in Hastings today. “The Stade is a shingle beach, situated in Hastings Old Town. It has been used for beaching boats for over a thousand years, a use which continues to this day: it is now home to Europe's largest fleet of beach-launched fishing boats.”

“The word ‘Stade’ is an old Saxon term meaning "landing place", and dates from before the Battle of Hastings in 1066.”
Now, however, my story takes me back to the continent, i.e. the continent is where I must return after the Anglo-Saxons had been kicked out about 1100 years ago--in order to gain insight into the roots of the modern Stoda.
This is partially because--when looking for a British definition on Stoda, my search for my last name, Stoda,-- former Franken Empire of Charlemagne had its share of Stade.

FRENCH CONNECTION?There is currently a popular French rugby team with the name Stade—by the way.
For example, a simple perusing of newspapers in the UK might read, “STADE FRANCAIS do not have a great recent record in England but when they have won it has been at least partly down to taking advantage of their opponents' lack of confidence and form, and that could work in their favour against Bath today.” Stade can pull plug on Bath by The Racing Post (London, England)
In the British and French rugby context today, though, the meaning of the French “stade” is probably onlyrelated to the Latin word from which “the word” for “stadium” arrived into modern English.
On the other hand, with the name Stade being used currently by a football club in France, I need to add that Stoda certainly had some roots in Frankish lands in the era after Charlemagne passed away. For example, there was Lothar the First (von Stade)
There was also Lothar the Second (von Stade).[2] He would have been George I’ s of England’s 19th (great) grandfather.
In short, viceroys, barons, baronesses, counts and other folk were scattered over the subsequent generations. The family settled in Saxon and Friesian regions of what is now Germany.

The first time I became aware of the value of the internet to provide me information on the Stoda name or its family tree occurred around 1997 when I first made a web page. Within a month of having put that website online, I was written an email by a doctoral student from Hungary who was interested to know if I was related to an Admiral Harold Stoda whose ship had gone down along the Adriatic Coast early in WWI.

Since then, I have learned quite a bit about how-widespread the Stoda name is. From Victoria in Austalia, where Stoda is a street name,

to the Fingerlakes region in New York, where it is also a place name, Stodas can be observed to have left their mark. Likewise, there is even a large corporation called Stoda. (I have written to ask them for work but they don’t answer—a lot like the European von Stade and Stoda descendents, eh?)

Likewise, individual Stodas have been sighted;

--touring the music world,

--covering sports as syndicated columnists,

--flying for the USA Air Force and serving foreign wars,

--work in Afghanistan, Iran, and other dangerous places[3],

--teaching in Kansas, Arizona, Massachusetts, and Taiwan,

--boxing in the UK

and blogging just about anywhere from South Africa, to the middle East and on to the Philippines.

Meanwhile, I also have even contacted internet sites, like --which I think is sponsored by the Mormons, i.e. to find out more about my ancestors.

I recommend you try it some time. Investigate your family tree and see how we are all still connected—somehow, someway.

p.s. We even have Japanese Stodas—but that is a different story.

[1] Here are the words and context for which stoda was used for in WORDNIK. I am pretty certain that some of my former students in Germany put my name on Wordnik.

• -- Kevin Stoda, born in a small town in the USA decades ago, has traveled, lived and worked in 102 countries, and Stoda purposely chose to live in Europe with his new bride in 2009.
—Printing: GERMANY, I Have a Dream for You and Europe. What is Your Dream?
• It was in this waive that Friedrich Stade (Stoda), my great, great, great grandfather arrived in America.
—OpEdNews - Diary: GERMANY LIKES TO BUILD WALLS���or Chancellor Merkel,
• On-line candidate Stoda believes that by linking both Guantanamo Prison in Cuba and Ft. Benning´s SOA activities is the most appropriate way to say to the world that (1) America is cleaning house and (2) opening questions of terror and prosecution to greater public introspection at a location where militarism and torture have been directly and indirectly promoted by various USA regimes for decades.
—Close Guantanamo, Move It to School of the Americas, Prosecute Both
• Meanwhile, their two girls, twins (and the oldest of the Stoda kids), entered a German school in Neu Isenburg.
• Here is what Stoda is trying to do ... by ALONE on Thursday, Jan 3, 2008 at 6: 16: 16 AM
• Soon, the Stoda and their Navigators program for military personnel in and around Frankfurt was shut down by this intervention of the Hessen state due to the Stoda family’s homeschooling program of their kids.
• INTERNET BUZZ IS AS HIGH AS EVER ON “IMPEACH BUSH & CHENEY” AS 2008 ELECTION DRAWS TO A CLOSEBy Kevin Stoda Even though media wonks and the Democratic Party leadership haven’t got it yet, media consumers and internet users are JUST as interested as ever in seeing an impeachment of both George W. Bush and Richard (Dick) Cheney for crimes against the constitution and abuse of power.
• NOTES The Israeli Apartheid Wall, http://www. Photos of Security Fence Contest, http://www. Stoda, Kevin, “Apartheid Maps — Israel & Palestinian Bantustans”, http://tinyurl. com/394x3a Stop the Wall, http://www.
—Barrier Walls around Jerusalem
• Stoda is an idiot.


*Lothar II Graf von Walbeck und Stade
born 0905 Walbeck, Sachsen, Prussia
died 3 December 0991

*Lothar I Graf von Walbeck und Stade
died 5 September 0929 Lenzen, Germany

*Suanhilde wife of Lothar I Graf von Walbeck und Stade
(end of information)

*Henrich "the Bold" Graf von Stade & Heiangau born before 0930 Stade, Hannover, Germany
died 9/11 May 0976

*Mathilde von Engern-Arnsburg
born 0907?
died 3 December 0990

*Heilika (Eila, Helikswintha) von Walbeck born about 0926 Walbeck, Saxony, Prussia
died 19 August 1015
*Lothar III Markgraf von Nordmark died 25 January 1003
Siegfried I von Walbeck

biographical and/or anecdotal:

notes or source:
[3] Aubrey Stoda (and others) appears in Troop Scoop sometimes

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Dear Kevin,

One of the biggest and most dangerous myths in American politics has just been busted.

After the tragedy in Tucson, we’ve heard the same old argument from Washington and the media that Americans are “hopelessly divided” on the issue of guns. But when you get outside the echo chamber and talk to ordinary people, the consensus on guns is clear.

That’s what Mayors Against Illegal Guns did with our recent poll1, conducted jointly by a Democratic and a Republican firm. The data shows that the general public and gun owners agree that we have to take common sense steps to prevent future gun crime.

Check out the polling results below and help spread the facts by forwarding this email to your friends and family.

E.G. In general, do you feel the laws covering the sale of guns should be made more strict, less
strict, or kept as they are now?
Total Gun HH
More strict …………………………………………………………………………….51 36
Less strict ………………………………………………………………………………7 10
Kept as they are now ………………………………………………………………39 50
DK/ref [VOL] ………………………………………………………………………..3 4

The truth is, Americans overwhelmingly believe that we can respect the rights of law-abiding gun owners while doing more to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.

Thanks for getting involved,
Mayors Against Illegal Guns

1Poll conducted jointly by Momentum Analysis and American Viewpoint between January 11 and January 13, 2011. Results of the poll available here (PDF).

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3 reasons that the new health care plan is already working and will work even better

Dear Kevin,

Save lives, help small businesses, cut the deficit, and grow jobs. [1,2,3,4,5]

How could anyone be against that?

Yet the U.S. House is expected to vote TONIGHT on a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, i.e. the health care reform bill, before it’s even fully implemented as is planned over the next several years.

Changing course now would harm our children, our businesses, our jobs, and our nation.

Approximately 129 million people could be denied care without the Affordable Care Act pre-existing condition protections. [1] The new benefits of health reform have already saved lives and freed millions of Americans from worrying that they’ll lose or be denied insurance due to pre-existing conditions when the law is fully implemented in 2014. Additionally, health care reform has begun providing tax credits for small businesses to purchase coverage for their employees, growing jobs, cutting the deficit, as well as ensuring that our children are not dropped from coverage just when we need it most--and the sweeping benefits of health reform are not even fully implemented yet. [2]

*Please join me in signing this letter to Congress and state legislators telling them that we've come too far to turn our backs on kids, businesses, families, and our economy. Keep moving forward implementing health care reform! Click below to sign on:

Why send a message now when we know the Senate and President will block the repeal? This is only the first attempt of the House to dismantle and slow implementation of the Affordable Care Act. So it's critical that we send members of Congress a strong and unequivocal message now about public support for moving forward with the full implementation of health reform so that we can stop any other efforts to weaken or dismantle health reform in their tracks.

The power of our numbers and the strength of our personal stories are essential to building political support and political will to continue moving forward on health reform. Nearly one thousand of our member have sent their personal stories of how health reform is helping their families. Stories like:

• “My son has asthma, and throughout his life we have faced frightening struggles to maintain his health and occasionally his life itself. The guarantee that we can access insurance without denial based on this condition is absolutely critical to us and to our entire country. Without his medicines, my amazing, intelligent, beautiful 9-year-old boy could die. This is a life and death situation, and I write from my heart when I say how thankful I am that we can re-imagine and re-create space for his life and future, by allowing him access to the medicines and care he needs.” - Emily, New York
• “I am the co-owner of an independent record label in Chicago. My small business covers 100% of the health insurance costs for our staff of seven. With the new health care reform my business will see approximately $12,000 in tax credits. In this economy, that kind of tax credit will make a huge difference for our company and allow us to invest more in our business. We have had our premiums raised 67% in one year. We need health care reform now!" - Nan, Illinois

• "After my daughter went into remission for cancer, her insurance company was trying to drop her. They said they would only continue coverage if she were in school fulltime. It was impossible for her to be in school fulltime when she was still suffering the effects of chemo. Now that the reform is in place, we no longer have to battle the insurance companies to keep her on the rolls. I, myself, have a pre-existing condition for which I could not be covered. Once the expanded Medi-caid goes into effect in 2014, I will have affordable coverage. It gives me piece of mind knowing I will not have to scramble to pay my costs forever. I just have to ride it out a little longer. I hope this isn’t taken away from me. It’s the first grain of hope I’ve had in awhile that I will not die an early death from lack of treatment.” - Mari, Nevada

As our MomsRising member stories show, rolling back health care reform hurts our families, our economy, our businesses, and increases the deficit.

Critics say the Affordable Care Act is unaffordable. Nonsense! Here are three important ways that health care reform helps our economy:

1. Lowers our federal deficit:

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that the savings from the sweeping legislation will more than offset the cost of expanding coverage to some 30 million uninsured, reducing the federal deficit over the next 10 years. [3]
In fact, The Congressional Budget Office just released an analysis that confirmed that repealing health care reform as it passed would increase the deficit by $230 billion in the first decade and by more than $1 trillion in the following decade. [4]

David M. Cutler, Professor of Applied Economics, Harvard University, recently shared how health reform will lower the deficit and save costs: "The legislation establishes insurance exchanges, mandates minimum loss ratios for insurance companies, and streamlines transactions between medical care providers and insurers. Together, these provisions will significantly reduce the administrative costs of medical care. By far the most changes are in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The philosophy underlying the Affordable Care Act is to make Medicare and Medicaid smarter purchasers of medical care so that providers are rewarded for creating value—not just for providing additional services." [5]

The LA Times also recently took up this matter in a Q &A, stating: "What about the law's effect on the budget deficit?" LA Times answer: "The CBO, which lawmakers from both parties rely on to assess the effects of legislation, now estimates that the law would bring down the deficit over the next decade by more than $200 billion. That is possible because the authors of the legislation offset the cost of expanding coverage to 32 million Americans over the next decade with more than $500 billion in cuts to federal Medicare spending and more than $400 billion in new taxes and fees." [6]

2. Supports job growth:

A number of studies show that the full implementation of health care reform grows jobs. Studies show repealing the law would prevent 250,000 to 400,000 jobs from being created annually over the next decade. [7]
3. Helps small businesses:

Without the full implementation of health care reform, including tax credits for small businesses to purchase coverage for their employees, businesses will continue to be in big trouble due to fast rising health care costs. Forbes Magazine recently reported that likely due to the tax credits with health reform, there's been a recent increase in small business health insurance policies: "The first statistics are coming in and, to the surprise of a great many, Obamacare might just be working to bring health care to working Americans precisely as promised.The major health insurance companies around the country are reporting a significant increase in small businesses offering health care benefits to their employees. Why? Because the tax cut created in the new health care reform law providing small businesses with an incentive to give health benefits to employees is working." [8]
As the U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke recently stated: “The cost savings are real, and they will grow over time. It's helpful to remember our health-care-cost trajectory before reform was passed. In the past 50 years, American firms saw a more than eightfold increase in the amount of payroll that went toward employee health insurance. Rising costs have meant fewer jobs. A 2009 Rand study confirmed that over the past 25 years, many American employers were losing jobs and revenue as a result of onerous health-care costs.” [9]

In short, the new health reform law is projected to not only grow jobs; but also to save lives, cut the deficit, give people more freedoms, more choices for care, and help businesses as it’s fully implemented over time.

*Join us in telling the U.S. House that it’s not time for political posturing and grandstanding. Our families futures are at stake. Our nation needs to stay the course implementing health reform for our families', our economy, and our lives:

Share these stories and this list of ways health care reform helps our economy with people you know so they too can be informed too by forwarding this email now.

Clearly, the costs of repealing the Affordable Care Act are too high for our nation’s families and businesses. Too many businesses, like the one owned by Nan in Ilinois, are counting on the change health reform brings to help in the face of long-time sky rocketing health care costs. And, for too many people, like Mari and her daughter, repealing health reform could be a death sentence.

Thank you for signing our letter to Congress using the easy link above—as well as for forwarding this email around to people you know who may want to sign on too.

- Kristin, Donna, Joan, Mary, Ashley, Sarah, Julissa, Anita, Ruth, and the MomsRising Team

[1] 129 Million People Could Be Denied Affordable Coverage Without Health Reform

[2] A New Day for Health Care in America

[3] Congressional Budget Office Publications Related to Health Care Legislation, 2009-2010

[4] Preliminary Analysis of H.R. 2, The Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act

[5] Repealing Health Care Is a Job Killer

[6] Do Republican critiques of the healthcare law add up?

[7] Repealing Health Care Is a Job Killer

[8] More Small Businesses Offering Health Care To Employees Thanks To Obamacare

[9] Repealing health-care law will hurt American competitiveness

Like what we're doing? Donate: We're a bootstrap, low overhead, mom run organization. Your donations make the work of possible--and we deeply appreciate your support. Every little bit counts.


As Major Media in USA almost totally missed the Tunesian Revolt this past Week, FCC increases bad media trends in the USA


I am furious that (1) big media monopolies in the USA failed to appropriately cover the workers and people’s revolt in Tunesia this past month and (2) that the Obama administration is not getting the FCC on non-corporate leash.

You should be upset, too.–KAS

According to Democracy Now, “FCC Approves Comcast Takeover of NBC Universal The FCC has given final approval to a $30 billion takeover by the nation’s largest cable television company, Comcast, of the television and movie giant NBC Universal. The merger gives Comcast control of the NBC network, the Spanish-language Telemundo, cable channels including MSNBC, dozens of local television stations and the Universal film studio. The FCC vote was four to one, with Commissioner Michael Copps casting the lone dissent vote. Media democracy advocates have widely criticized the merger. Josh Silver of the group Free Press spoke to Democracy Now! on Tuesday.”

Here is what Josh Silver stated, “The Comcast-NBC merger is going to increase prices for consumers, it’s going to make independent voices even more scarce on commercial television dials, and it’s going to cut out independent programming even further from the cable dial. Yesterday’s announcement of this merger flies in the face of President Obama’s stated commitment to oppose media consolidation when he was on the campaign trail, and it bodes terribly for the future of the internet. We expect to see higher costs for access, higher costs for cable programming, higher costs for internet access, and, at the end of the day, less choices for consumers and higher prices.”

Come on internet readers, put pressure on the FCC, Congress and Obama today to improve media access an meida airwaves everywhere in North America.


Every state and local government needs to enforce the laws and surely they can find one for their local (federal) congressman, i.e. to put him in jail

The text of the current USA Constitutional Oath is not written in the Constitution, but the current oath was enacted by Congress in 1862. “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

Many of those Representatives voting against full enactment of the current health care set of rules and have broken the faith with those they should show allegience too–citizens in their states–not Insurance firms and corporations.–KAS

MY FIRST COMMENT TO THE MESSAGE IN THE LETTER BELOW is IT IS TIME TO ARREST SOME CONGRESSMEN FOR NOT SUPPORTING THEIR CONSTITUENTS. Every state and local government needs to enforce the laws and surely they can find one for their local (federal) congressman, i.e. to put him in the slammer.–KAS

Kevin –

At 5:53 p.m. Eastern Time today, the House moved to repeal health insurance reform.

Every single Republican — all 242 — voted for repeal.

This is a vote for insurance companies. There is no other way to put it.

Because if the question is what is best for Americans, repeal would never come up: Health reform is already at work improving the lives of millions of people. Repeal will result in 32 million fewer Americans with health coverage — and add $230 billion to the deficit over the next 10 years.

Republicans in Congress need to know there’s a political price to pay for siding with special interests over the constituents in their districts.

We’re putting together a dedicated team of organizers and volunteers across the country to protect our progress on health reform — ….

[S] upport Organizing for America and help stop repeal before it’s too late.

The Affordable Care Act addresses and ends some of the worst insurance-industry abuses against families, children, seniors, and the sick — the cost of repeal would be steep:

— Families, many already struggling to get by, could lose their coverage if someone is in an accident or becomes sick — right when they need it the most.

— A woman with cancer could have her coverage stripped away because of a tiny mistake on a form.

— Pregnant women, children born with disabilities, and anyone with a pre-existing condition — as many as half of Americans under age 65 — could face discrimination or be denied coverage by an insurance company that deems them too costly.

— A senior on Medicare who falls in the “donut hole” in prescription coverage would once again have to make up that cost out of pocket — and start paying for all preventative care.

— The deficit would increase by $230 billion over the next 10 years — placing an unfair burden on our children and grandchildren and future generations who will have to pay for this mistake.

— Insurance companies could go back to working for corporate profit and CEO bonuses — instead of for the people who pay their premiums.

These cruel and unjust practices are exactly why we organized, donated, volunteered, and spoke out for months, helping to pass legislation 100 years in the making. It’s why we worked with the President and Democrats in Congress to reform a broken and unsustainable health care system.

Now, that progress is being threatened — and we have to do everything we can to protect it.

Organizing for America is running a full-fledged campaign to drive this message home in communities across the country. Our organizers and volunteers will be knocking on doors, writing letters to their local papers, talking to neighbors, and calling their senators.



Mitch Stewart
Organizing for America


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Obama adviser says politics roused Muslim anger towards US

Research shows politics is the root cause of Muslim-West tensions, says US presidenial adviser on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief GULF NEWS
January 18, 2011

Manama: Politics, not religious differences, have roused Muslim anger towards the US, said Dalia Mogahed, US President Barack Obama’s Adviser on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the White House Office.

“We discovered that those who viewed the root cause of Muslim-West tensions to be political were more likely to see the conflict as avoidable. Those who viewed it as religious were more likely to see it as unavoidable,” she said.

“However, we also found that religiosity in the Muslim community works to the advantage of engagement,” Dalia, who is also Executive Director of the Abu Dhabi Gallup Center (ADGC) for Muslim Studies, said in a lecture on “Measuring the State of Muslim-West Relations,” held in Kuwait by the Advocate for Westerners-Arab Relations (Aware) Centre on Monday evening.

She based her statement on findings and recommendations of a research conducted by ADGC.

The focus of her lecture was on attitudes by Muslims and Westerners toward interactions between their societies, highlighting new dimensions of the Muslim-West relationship.

“The theme of this lecture was highlighted by President Obama in his inaugural address and later in his famous speech in Cairo in early June 2009. His Cairo speech was received by a standing ovation, as optimism and hope filled up the room. As where have we gone from there, this is the question now,” Egyptian-born Dalia said, quoted by Kuwait News Agency (Kuna).

Middle East and North Africa (Mena) peoples placed the highest importance on Muslim-West relations, and have shown the greatest degree of change in attitudes since Obama took office, she said, basing her statement on findings and recommendations of a research by ADGC.

“However, in 2010, Obama’s approval rating decreased in several countries in this region. Building on our finding that showing respect for Islam was an important component of improving Muslim-West relations, we found that this meant not only Westerners refraining from desecrating religious symbols, but also demonstrating fairness in Western government policies,” she said.

Compared with residents in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, Dalia said those living in the Mena region place the highest level of importance on Muslim-West relations.

“In 2009, 61 per cent of Mena residents – compared with 52 per cent of those living in Asia and 49 per cent of those in sub-Saharan Africa – said the quality of the interaction between the Muslim and Western worlds is important to them. In addition, Mena residents are the most likely to believe majority Muslim communities are committed to improving interactions with Western societies.”

However, Dalia, citing research findings, said “when asked whether the West is committed to improving relations with the majority Muslim societies, minorities of residents in these three regions believe the West is committed.”

Between 2008 and 2009, approval of US leadership remained flat in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, but it increased from 12 to 32 per cent in Mena, Dalia said.

In answer to who is looking for improved relations, she said that across countries, individuals are classified as either “Ready” or “Not Ready” for Muslim-West engagement.

“Overall, Ready individuals perceive their own side (either Western or majority Muslim society) as committed to greater contact with the other. They are positive about greater interaction and believe conflict is avoidable. Not Ready individuals are doubtful of their communities’ commitment and respect for the other side. They also reject greater interaction and view a Muslim-West conflict as inevitable.”

As a key finding, Dalia said the most meaningful action to display respect for Islam revolves around religious symbols, as 72 per cent of Muslims say abstaining from desecrating Islam’s holy book and religious symbols would be very meaningful to them.

Inaugurated in October 2003, Kuwait-based Aware is a non-profit, non-governmental, and non-political organisation working for promoting positive and constructive relations between Westerners and Arabs by organizing social activities and information services related to Arab and Islamic culture


Take the Poll on Arizona's American & Independent Identity Here

Click on the headline to go to the poll.

A rhetorical question about the independent spirit and history of Arizona, etc.?

People in Arizona consider themselves a rather independent group of people. However, historically, like many states in the region, Arizona has historically received more federal moneys than it put in. In the late 1990s, Arizona was receiving 100 federal dollars for every 87 dollars its corporations & citizens put in. It often receives such moneys as do other neighboring-so-called independent states--through infrastructure, such as that related to the military industrial complex.

The situation has not changed much in recent decades

Should we not call-a-spade-a-spade and say that people in Arizona are usually dependent?

Possible answers at the link are:
--I don't know.
--Of course not-- any state that is so dependent on military&federal welfare is not independent
--Of course, Arizona and Arizonans represents an independent spirit
--Who cares about issues of identity? We are in an economic/social/political meltdown.


"I think our interests and his...align, especially on EPA stuff."

"I think our interests and his...align, especially on EPA stuff."
- Anonymous oil industry lobbyist on Rep. Fred Upton, House Energy & Commerce Committee Chair

Dear Kevin,
Sarah Palin, Fred Upton and others are leading the anti-environment charge.
We need 2011 LCV members to fight back.
Join LCV today.

There’s a new class of stridently anti-environment members of Congress -- taking their cues from Big Oil and the Tea Party and determined to undermine public health. At the top of their agenda in the 112th Congress? Radically undermine the EPA’s efforts to protect our families from deadly pollution, like mercury, arsenic, smog and carbon dioxide.
One of those members – Rep. Fred Upton – is the new chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Upton – who was recently spotted sitting in the front row at an oil industry sponsored event – is now leading the charge to give corporate polluters free reign to pollute the air we breathe.
Unfortunately, Upton isn’t alone. This past November, over 30 anti-environment Tea Partiers won their races, with stridently anti-environment leaders like Sarah Palin leading the charge.
And now, backed by Big Oil, inspired by Palin, and promoted by Fox News, these anti-environment members are out to cripple the EPA, weaken laws that protect us from toxic chemicals, and remove public health standards.
LCV is ready to expose these politicians’ radical agenda and protect our country’s most essential environmental and public health laws. We have the strategy and the expertise we need to win. Now, we need you to help us reach our 2011 member goal by January 31 so we have the resources ready to fight back.
When you join LCV today, you stand with the group that’s been winning and defending environmental progress for decades. And you help make sure we have the resources we need in the weeks and months ahead to fight Sarah Palin’s Tea Party agenda. With your support, we’ll be able to:
• Mobilize environmental activists to contact their elected officials via phone, e-mail and in-person prior to key votes
• Publish the National Environmental Scorecard, the most respected yardstick for measuring political leaders’ environmental records and holding them accountable
• Utilize new online organizing tactics, including various social media tools, to recruit and engage a new generation of clean energy advocates.
• Educate voters about the threats to landmark health and environmental protections and the benefits of creating a clean energy economy to build pressure for progress in the states, and from there to the national level
• Coordinate with our state LCV partners and other key allies to build a broad and diverse network of supporters in key states
We need your help when we go up against one of the most anti-environment Congresses in years.
LCV will publicize their dirty tactics and outrageous lies, and impose a political price on those lawmakers who put profits before people. But our success – and the future of our planet – depends on your immediate support.
Thank you for joining us at this critical moment.

Gene Karpinski
League of Conservation Voters