Tuesday, May 31, 2011


By Kevin Stoda, Taiwan

In lieu of staying at home and rebuilding poor housing infrastructure and improving vocational training, workplace problems, and the society, many Taiwanese have their sights on Mainland China as a workplace they would like to explore in the coming years.

According to the TAIWAN NEWS ( May 27, 20110 , in an article entitled “China becomes a hot destination for Taiwan’s workers: Poll”, 77 percent of Taiwanese employees are willing to explore further job opportunities on the mainland [People’s Republic or communist China].”

On the one hand, the Taiwan News article continues, “statististics indicate that the annual salaries of 74.2 percent ofemployees are higher after they work in China..” In fact, “Their average annual income increases by NT$370,000 (US$12,758).”

NOTE: I wonder who undertook this unnamed poll because the article seems to be spun towards a PRO-unification and AT-ALL-COST friendly relations with China. The current majority party in Taiwan (Republic of China), the KMT, has historically been supportive of unification as soon as possible with the Mainland.

On the other hand, I would imagine that the averag employee who has worked abroad in any foreign country can demand more earnings in Taiwan these days.

Nonetheless, this unnamed poll states that 69.8% of the respondents are interested in looking for work in Shanghai while 34% desire to work in Beijing. Other regions of interest for work abroad by the majority of Taiwanese include Hong Kong, Ziamen, and Suzhou.

As for motiviation, the most common reason claimed for desiring to work in China is the character of the market place there,i.e. the responants understand the market there better than in any other foreign land. Nearly 64% of the respondants are of this perspective.
The second most common rationale (with 42 percent of respoondants of this view) for working in China believe that working in China would eventuallly benefit their work place experinces in Taiwan. Meanwhile, some 35% of those taking part in the survey indicate that “broading their horizons” was also a good-enough-reason to go abroad to work.


Interestingly, I am hired currently to teach in 3 public schools in Taiwan. Moroever, one-third of the rationale for me—as a foreigner—being hired to work in these public institutions is to enable the Taiwanese students, teachers and society to be “more international”. This would be similar in the USA to the concept of trying to train our public school students to work cross-culturally (i.e. multicultural education).

Having taught in 10 countries already, I can help the Taiwanese be more internationally-functional. However, the hyperfocus of many Taiwanese on the Chinese market is likely to hurt the country in several ways.

On the one hand, several types of developments in Taiwan has been slowed down for the last decade, i.e. as local industries have been hollowed out and exported abroad—mostly to mainland China. I say hollowed out because the population of youth and adults have not been trained sufficiently to take on new jobs and to be creatively building the cities and towns where they live. For example, on the Matsu islands, where I live, there are no masons and constructive experts to update the aging homes and renovate the many homes—some of which are still like rabbit hutches. In other words, with no good vocational programs and no local universities nor colleges, how can the community raise its sites.

In other words, parts of Taiwan are quaint and underdeveloped—like one still might have seen in the USA and England in the 1950s or early 1960s. For this very reason, they are fairly safe, familial, and traditional. However, if the youth and parents of these rural and semi-urban communities only look to Taiwan’s largest cities and to mainland China for jobs, what kind of future will many communities in Taiwan have—only hollowed out ones.

Who will be able to build a greater society? (Or will the Taiwanese only import their future from abroad, especially Mainland China?)

Superficially, Taiwan can be seen as an OECD country, For example, health care is relatively similar to any developed coutnry. Mass transportation is good. Industries, especially telecommunications, is particularly strong. There is a growing emphasis on leisure and protecing the environment and in sustainable development or sustainable tourism

Moreover, there is a growing OECD perspective or OECD identity amongst Taiwanese. That is they see themselves and think of their world and their land as an OECD country. For example, they have nuclear power plants. They are concerned about food safety and are beginning to promote good living and organic agricutlure. They also have very advanced telecommunication networks, related technologies, and many well-run businesses—all with a lot less corruption than in mainland China or in neighboring Southeast Asian states.

In short, the focus on China and Asia may lead Taiwanese to forget what the Japanese and Koreans (their real developmental competition in East Asia) already emphasize. The Taiwanese will likely ignore what Europe, North America, and other regions of the world have to offer. I think of the fact that South Korea signed an important free trade treaty with the European Union last year. Japan is also interested in getting such an agreement.

Taiwan should not throw in the towel and run to join china—when there is so much development work to do at home, for example, some 70% of the homes suffer from mold and other erosion. Without the local developments and widening of education in all parts of Taiwan at a more global level, China will pass Taiwan [1] by developmentally in the next few decades.

There is no reason that should be the case. [2]


[1] After WWII, Taiwan was the most developed land in East Asia—due to the amount of industries and infrastructure that had srurvived through 1945.

[2] Taiwanese need to be supported, ttoo, form abroad through more internatinoal treaties and educational exchanges.


F.E.C. –an agency that admits it is worse-than-toothless–WHY DOES AMERICA ALLOW THIS?

FEC commissioner admits: Agency is worse than toothless
The Federal Election Commission, which is responsible for policing and enforcing campaign finance laws, has become less aggressive over the past few years, Commissioner Ellen Weintraub said at a recent meeting. Not only has the average fine imposed by the agency dropped precipitously (from $180,000 to $42,000), but the number of conciliation agreements has dropped sharply also. “Back in ’06 and ’07, they said we were ‘feckless’ and ‘toothless,’” Weintraub said. “I am not sure what the adjective would be today.”

Crossroads GPS, other independent groups may owe the tax man big time
Could those independent groups that were created solely to raise money to influence elections be in trouble with the IRS? They could if they dived into their activities before their nonprofit tax status was granted. For instance, Crossroads GPS, a group co-founded by Republican strategist Karl Rove, is still awaiting a final ruling on its applications to be a 501(c)4 organization. If the IRS denies it, the groups could be liable for tens of millions of dollars in fines.

Symposium Saturday in Virginia on Citizens United
If you’re in the Arlington, Va., area Saturday, come and hear experts talk about the effects of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision on our democracy. A symposium will be held from 2-4 p.m. at George Mason University, Founder’s Hall 134, 3351 Fairfax Drive, and will feature U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) as well as representatives from Public Citizen, the AFL-CIO, People for the American Way and Coffee Party USA. Can’t make it? Sign a petition calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.

Visit DemocracyIsForPeople.org to learn more!


Issue #63 • May 27, 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:
$800,000: Amount former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, now a presidential contender, raised at a recent fundraising event
$10.25 million: Amount former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who is mulling a presidential bid, raised in a single day recently
Virginia Judge rules that corporate ban on direct contributions to candidates is unconstitutional
U.S. District Judge James C. Cacheris has struck down a longstanding ban on direct corporate contributions to candidates. The ruling is contrary to what the U.S. Supreme Court has said and applies only to corporations in northern Virginia. (In contrast, the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision gave corporations the green light to spend money independently to promote or attack candidates.) The case is expected to make its way to the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, in Tennessee, lawmakers approve direct contributions to state candidates
The Tennessee Legislature has sent to the governor a bill that would allow corporations to give directly to state candidates. The sponsor called it a “free speech issue.”



As candidate for any office–president, congressmen, senator, governor–u-name-it--I would push and push and push for a tax on lobbying.–KAS

Dear MoveOn member,
Right now giant defense contractors like Lockheed-Martin, Halliburton, and Blackwater are allowed to funnel taxpayer money from government contracts into lobbying and secret political contributions for their friends in Congress.

President Obama is taking on this perverse cycle by considering an executive order that would require corporations doing business with the government to disclose their political spending.1 That would be a good start but we need to do more.

In a new video, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich calls on President Obama to go further and ban all political spending by corporations that get most of their business from government contracts.

Check out the video and then sign the petition supporting a complete spending ban:

Watch the video and sign the petition
Secretary Reich goes over how the “Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex” uses our tax money to lobby and fund politicians who, in turn, award those same companies ever more lucrative contracts for high-tech weapons and private security forces.

It’s a perverse cycle. Corporations that get most of their money from taxpayers shouldn’t be allowed to spend that money backing candidates for office and lobbying in Congress.

The President doesn’t have to wait for Congress to act. He can issue the order immediately and stop the flow of tax dollars into political and lobbying campaigns by giant government contractors.

Watch the video and ask President Obama to stop the political spending:


Thanks for all you do.

–Robin, Tim, Stephen, Sarah, and the rest of the team


1. “Obama order could make corporate political spending public,” Los Angeles Times, May 8, 2011


Want to support our work? We’re entirely funded by our 5 million members—no corporate contributions, no big checks from CEOs. And our tiny staff ensures that small contributions go a long way. Chip in here.



Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) defended his involvement in the cover-up of disgraced former Sen. John Ensign’s (R-NV) affair, telling CSPAN yesterday that he was “proud” of the way he handled the situation. Coburn’s name was mentioned repeatedly in the Senate Ethics Committee’s damning 75-page report on the scandal, saying Coburn acted as a go-between to try to keep Ensign’s mistress quiet.

p.s. This news comes from American progress


Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) defended his involvement in the cover-up of disgraced former Sen. John Ensign’s (R-NV) affair, telling CSPAN yesterday that he was “proud” of the way he handled the situation. Coburn’s name was mentioned repeatedly in the Senate Ethics Committee’s damning 75-page report on the scandal, saying Coburn acted as a go-between to try to keep Ensign’s mistress quiet.

p.s. This news comes from American progress


another jailed labor union leader needs your asistance–Basil Mahan Gahé

On April 26, Basil Mahan Gahé, general secretary of the national trade union center Dignité in the Ivory Coast, was arrested at his Abidjan home and taken into detention.

The union office was sacked, and many union officers have gone into hiding.

Since then, the IUF and other international and national trade unions, including the Ivory Coast’s national center UGTCI as well as the Director General of the ILO, have contacted the government authorities to demand his release and guarantees of his physical wellbeing.

To date, the government has refused to respond, or even to disclose the charges on which he is being held.

Please take a moment and send off your message of protest:


Thanks very much!

Eric Lee


Notice how ruthlessly the Syrian Regime treats its children

Pray for Syria–1000s have died this year–and too many youth and children–see story of the dictator who blames most everything not on the fact that the same crony family has run the authoritarian state in the name of the Bathist party for 5 decades.


I have noticed that even Hamas groups are turning towards the Syrian regime.



Taiwan Government goes after assets and officials at firms who have needlessly endangered and hurt consumers

News from Taiwan: 167 ingredient suppliers affected by toxic contamination

By Kevin Stoda

I flew to Taipei this past Friday and the big news ther is an issue which affects almost all consumers of foods, perfumes, and beverages in the country (and globally.) The issue is of food additives. The TAIWAN NEWS reported that the cancer-causing DEHP has been detected in the products of 47 local [Taipei] food and drink manufacturers.”

While neighboring China has long been out-of-control in terms of the abusive usage of food additives, i.e. which endanger and kill people, now, the awareness of Taiwan’s homegrown malpractice in food manufacturing is gaining under the spotlight.

As of this very weekend, the Taiwan government has stated that any store found selling food with the DEHP or related long-life and emulsifying additives like it “will be fined per item” starting on May 31, 2011.


As in China, where the organic movement is growing (however miniscule it still is) in response the Chinese government’s lack of will in protecting its own citizens, an organic movment is also growing in Taiwan. In both countries it is hoped that the local and national organic groups, producers–and other concerned citizens–can put pressure on the government to respond quicker to bad food production practices.

The delay in the case of DEHP is obvious. DEHP has been used for over two decades by manufactures to make food and beverages—juices and sports drinks—look more appealing. Awareness f problems with DEHP were also reported in other coutnries decades ago.

In short, just as in neighboring China, the Taiwan governmnet has historically been far too lax in regulating the food prodcution industry to-date. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in Taiwan, however, is responding in record time by banning DEHP and other emulsifiers—within a few weeks of the most national outcry caused by reported various adverse health reports in the land.

Such a wide range of products being placed under forced removal from food shelves in the country is impressive-as such a pace is normally reserved for E-coli and other pandemic causing agents or pathologies being encountered

Moreover, the perfume industry is also under fire in Taiwan. “Prosecutors yesterday seized bank accounts and property belonging to the owner of a chemical company at the center of a food additive scare, a Ministry of Justice (MOJ) official said.”

This contrasts greatly with the USA where enforcement by law officials in the financial and health scadals of recent years have rarely found offiicals under arrest and being prosecuted for their bad will and efforts towards consumers and others in the society.

Taiwanese “Ministry of Justice Prosecution Office Deputy Director Lin Jinn-tsun (林錦村) said prosecutors had seized five accounts and three properties belonging to Lai Chun-chieh (賴俊傑), owner of Yu Shen Chemical Co (昱伸香料有限公司) and his wife.”


In addition, ““Since the plasticizer scandal, requests by prosecutors to detain three people — one from Yu Shen and two from Pin Han Perfumery Co (賓漢香料公司) — have been approved. Another person has been released on bail, but will be banned from leaving the country,” Lin said.

QUESTIONS: Do you recall anyone from Citibank, AIG, et. al being arrested in the USA for crimes against consumers? Do you recall having seen assets of firm presidents, CEOs, et.al having their assets frozen? What happened to the rule of law in the USA?

Taiwan will certainly not execute corporate malfeasance as has occurred at time sin China, but as this is an election year, I imagine that leaders throughout Taiwan will expect more clean up of society in 2011. Democratic Progressive Party, i.e. the opposition, will see to that.

Yesterday, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) said “Our environment is filled with those chemicals, which permeate our food, drinks, dietary supplements and even medicine and cosmetics.”Earlier in the day, Vice Premier Sean Chen (陳沖) and health officials vowed to adopt stricter regulations to manage the use of clouding agents in consumer products as the food scare that has beset the nation in the past week continues to escalate.
Invited to a meeting of the legislature’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee, Chen and Department of Health Minister Chiu Wen-ta (邱文達) were pressed by legislators to adopt stricter measures to prohibit or limit the use of DEHP, and other industrial-use clouding agents in consumer goods.

THOUGHT: Contrast this democratic practice with politics and govenrance in the USA in 2011—i.e. with the majority of Republicans going after the elimination of the EPA and the watering down of all kinds of environmental and FDA regulations.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

I NEVER CAN SAY “GOOD-BYE” to SHOGANAI (After all)--Part 1


By Kevin Stoda, East Asia

ABSTRACT: This is an article of cross-cultural comparison and contrast. It focuses on Japan, Taiwan, France, Germany, the USA, and the Arab world—all places I have worked in and lived in over the past 3 decades. The focus of comparison is on the concepts of “learned helplessness”. I begin by looking at the Japanese concept of “Shoganai”.

Shoganai is a Japanese word that literally means "there is no way of doing, it can't be helped - nothing can be done". It is [an] interesting word, because it shows the culture of restraint in Japan - people should not complain. Indeed, complaining in Japan has been always kind of a taboo. Complaining is a sign of weakness. Relative word to shoganai is gaman, which means something like "Be patient".
I then look at the usage of similar ideas and phrases in North America, Europe and the Middle East—before completing the global circle and looking at Taiwan today.

JAPAN: “Shoganai”
Barry Eisler, the independent film producer, has written down his own definition explaining the Japanese concept of “Shoganai”. He claims it is one of those concepts which are essential to the Japanese character and the country the Japanes have lived in for millenia. Eisler wrote, “[Concerning Japan] … perhaps the culture of restraint [in Japan] reveals itself most pervasively in the phrase shoganai -- literally, there is no way of doing, or nothing can be done.”
Indeed, while I lived in Japan in the early 1990s, the phrase “shoganai” and it’s verb form, “shikatta ganai” were pervasive and hearing them spoken so often taught me quite a bit about the world view of many Japanese—a world view, which I had thought (at the time) to be at odds with both (a) my own society’s (the USA) view of the world and (b) my defined role as an educator and teacher of language & culture in Japanese public schools.
In his writing, Eisler detailed the toughening and educational approach of some schools in Japan (just like here in Taiwan) whereby many schools treat children a bit harshly in the winter months. That is, even in cooler climates, schools often provide no heater or a poor excuse for a heater in the cold Japanese elementary and secondary classrooms in winter. This teaches the shivering students both the concept of “gaman”, which literally to persevere, while also teaching the youth of Japanese society a sort of important-learned-helplessness about the state of life on this planet for we (mere) human beings—namely: “We cannot always control everything. We cannot always control our way of living.”
Is there anything nobel in Shoganai attitudes. I believe that Eisler believes so. However, Linda Lowen, a third generation Japanese-American has written of 2011 Japanese in the face of the most recent Tsunami and earthquake disasters, “Much is being made of the stoicism of the Japanese. The voiceovers of interpreters are slow, halting, unemotional as they translate clips from Japan's public broadcasting network NHK. The NHK reports of survivors' stories feel very neutral and detached compared to CNN's viewer-generated i-Reports from Americans in Japan which frequently contain bleeped-out curse words. If the Japanese indicate distress, it's mostly through wordless cries of "aaaah." No repetitive swearing or excitement bordering on schadenfreude as was exemplified by one video taken by an American college student studying in Japan; he ran towards an oil refinery explosion with a video camera and emailed his clip to CNN which provided him his 15 minutes of fame.”
Lowen concludes, “This isn't the sort of thing the majority of Japanese citizens would do. And anyone who's spent time among the Japanese people can understand why.” She adds, “We see subdued women and men on-camera talk about being swept away in the tsunami, husbands and wives and children torn from their grasp by the floodwaters, yet there's no wild sobbing, no falling apart, no letting go. American reporters have been speculating as to when the Japanese will finally break and openly grieve, but I wouldn't hold my breath. This is how the Japanese survive. Although I myself am far from stoic, I grew up surrounded by examples of this particular Japanese virtue.


FRANCE: C'est la vie
Eisler went on to explain, “Shoganai is the equivalent of c'est la vie, but with an important difference: where c'est la vie and its foreign variants focus on external circumstances, shoganai focuses on the inability of the actor to change those circumstances. The person is restrained, but the restraint has an element of self-imposition, indeed, arguably, of learned helplessness. Perhaps this is not a surprise: at the same time those shivering [small and societally powerless] school children are developing gaman, they must [certainly] be watching the warmly dressed adults around them and concluding that ‘what can you do?’ is not an inappropriate response to life.”
Naturally, by Eisler’s quote or translation of “What can one do?” (as a manifestation of Shoganai or “it cannot be helped” in Japanese) Eisler implies that “c’est la vie and its foreign variants” along with “Shoganai” are in many ways two sides of the same coin.
On the one hand, I find, Eisler’s translations of “Shoganai” to be inappropriate because, as an American educator of the last quarter of a century, he implies that “shoganai” is a favorable way for a man to know his limits, i.e. by translating the phrase into the French “C’est la vie”—or “Such is life”. In contrast to what Eisler implies, for French philosophers, such as Jean-Paul Sartre, [a man experiences one’s] “freedom as a curse. 'man is condemned to be free'- condemned because he has not created himself -and is nevertheless free. Because having once been hurled into the world , he is responsible for everything that he does.”
In short, all around the globe, modern forms of stoicism are not the old stoicism—from which even the “shoganai” tradition and identity and Japan have arrived from. Moreover, it is questionable whether 70 years after the War in the Pacific, whether modern “Shoganai” traditions in Japan are the same now as they were over 4 or 5 generations ago. I, for one, have noted a shift towards pampering children in Japan. Moreover, even while I worked in Japan nearly 20 years ago already, I had observed a shift to adding more and more heaters to the classroom and a shift away from “not requiring students to wear short pants” or skirts to school on cold days.
Likewise, positivism in France in the 21st century is not the logical positivism of 2 centuries ago—and later enamored bureaucrats and Ivy League presidents for the last century. Positivism has been transformed in the post-war and post-colonial era France under pressures of relativist, socialist, and existential thinkers and reality-on-the-ground, i.e. as a nation had to pick up the pieces of the disaster of applying 19th Century positivist strategies in leading to and carrying out WWI and collaborating with Germany in WWII.

THE U.S.A. : Stoicism (Positivism)
It was such a both a positivist and a stoic world-view that Americans of the 19th century were often immersed in. For example, in both the 19th and 20th century Thomas Alva Edison told his friends and followers, “Where there is a will, there is a way.”
This was a form of positivism to be sure, but it was positivism that called for hard work and serious analyses of our state of existence and application of better forms of education and research here on earth. Edison’s philosophy was not a run-away stoicism, i.e. out to destroy American identity dating to the founding fathers. Rather, it was a positivism with a more responsible and partial existential twist that Edison was offering up to would-be adherents, developers, dreamers, and scientists. (In short, it was not Horatio Algiers tale that Edison called for. Neither was it a call to carry on following an ignorant man’s path—i.e. fighting our parents wars generation after generation. On the other hand, Edison might have had some fascist tendencies which were common in that same era.)
Many Americans have thought similarly to Edison over the centuries. This “we can do it—if we have a will—we will find a way” worldview was also what I grew up thinking was a possible for me, my generation and my world—let us say 3, 4 or 5 decades ago. In other words, I was raised in the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s to believe that of there would always be a world of possibilities for my generation—as long as we kept ourselves from blowing up the world first. But even then, we had a choice to act or to refrain from taking the bull (or life) by-the-horns.
Note that this belief in “we can do it” resurfaced recently in the Barack Obama campaign slogan of 2008; “Yes, we can.” However, it has since been taken over once again by patriotic stoicism, which lacks thoughtful historical, social and political-economic analyses and common sense, which Edison demanded in his day--and which we should demand in this 21st Century, too.
Over the most recent three decades of my observing my own society, i.e. the USA (mostly from abroad but also while living there), I have come to understand that there is a stoicism related to learned helplessness that is currently far-too-deeply-ingrained in modern America. This learned helplessness was what Thomas Dewey and other great educators have warned Americans about when they have become to proud of stoic tradition or too-enamored by positivist rhetoric (i.e. the kind that leads to fascism and other very nasty ‘isms”), which is every bit as vibrant and active in North America as it has been in Japan under the metaphorical world view of “shoganai”—or a pervasive “such is life” attitude. Worse still, American form of “shoganai” is embedded in the worst sort of self-destructive stoicism which once led Japanese soldiers in WWII to fight to the bitter end on island-after-island, even though their cause and war were obviously hopelessly lost.
Meanwhile, America in 2011-2012 is a country that continually trains too many of its young people to go off and fight endless foreign wars --and join the military to pay off outrageous university debts and help out bottomless pits of petroleum firms and defense contractors (siphoning off our savings as well as expunging the lives along with the ways of life which might have otherwise been provided by the best-and-the-brightest generation of young people which are stuck in American forms of “shoganai” ). In short, there is a certain form of American stoicism which is taught by society--and by thoughtless parents and ruthless politicians--to the USA offspring—and this has been going on each generation since WWII.
This is war-hungry “stoicism’ is every bit as strong and destructive as the “stoicism” the Japanese have savored for centuries, i.e. under the ingrained notions of “shoganai”. Please recall here that “[t]he word stoic has remained in the [English] language [for at least a millennium] and defines a person who accepts life's slings and arrows without whining about it.” It is similar to shoganai and remains part-and-parcel of American identity and philosophy today—even though many of us were raised to think it cannot happen here—in our free thinking, democratic, and freedom seeking land. As a lifelong educator, I am starting my 4th decade of fighting this very “really Unamerican” stoicism. This stoicism has continuously created more and more learned helplessness—all of my adult life—in America and in other corners of the globe [which I will refer to in Part 2 of this writing].
Over the years, I have been reading constantly that stoicism is what “real Americans” in the 21st Century continue to inaccurately claim has been the fabric of American society since the times of our Founding Fathers. Nonsense, such stoicism has, in fact only been dominantly functioning in the USA in its current military-industrial-complex-committed form for approximately 70 years, i.e. since the Hitler and WWII era..
Read the following example of a supposed-American-Patriot blog--as we continue to march into this new century! E.g. this particular stoic American patriot writes, “We desperately need a big dose of American stoicism … don’t you think?”
He continues, “It is a real shame that fear of the violence perpetrated by Islamic radicals can so easily cause some Americans to drop their principles and to ‘cut and run’ … forgetting the causes of liberty and freedom many past Americans selflessly fought and died for.”
Moreover, this same American stoic continues (ad nauseam), “Our liberal/socialist friends try to impress our more gullible American citizens … [i.e.] sounding so sophisticated and intelligent when they wax philosophically about our Islamic brothers and sisters, or …. our gay brothers and sisters, or … about how men should be ‘nice guys shouldn’t be so masculine … and wouldn’t it be just so much better if we were all so ‘metro-sexual.’” [Here, I originally assumed by ‘metro-sexual’ that this patriotic American stoic implies “multicultural”, i.e. the educational field which is my speicalty—but in actuality, the so-called patriot was playing PC --conservatives play the PC game too-- game of misleading the reader with his anti-homosexual jargon.]
In short, while the signs of the times around us call Americans back from the brink of the worst forms of overt stoicism fascist-oriented postivism, the country [the USA], as a whole, is not “looking [busily y]for alternative ideologies with which to equip ourselves more adequately for hard times.” Barbara Ehrenreich, in her book, Bright-Sided, offered “a damning indictment of the [particular] ideology of positive thinking, which she sees as the fundamental flaw in American life.”
Ehrenreich “suggests that the problem of relentless positive thinking, and the corresponding refusal to acknowledge reality, is largely responsible for all kinds of social ills, including our current financial mess. She argues that only if we begin to recognize hard facts--such as the presence in our society of poverty, inequality, unemployment, and debt, as well as cancers that can kill us no matter how much pink we wear--will we get sufficiently angry about these things to fight for a cure.”
I am not sure weather Ehrenbach is referring to the ideologies of theKoch Brothers (or there evolved sense of John Birch Society Doctrine), but in any case, any sort of positivism or stoicism forces in the USA which lead Americans and their society/government to appropriate Japanese-style “shoganai” identities (or out-of-control stoicism as a national sense of identity) in this new millennium needs to be hijacked and kicked out of the country.

NOTE: In Part 2 of this piece I will look at this doctrine of “shoganai” (or misguided and illogical stoic ideology) and how it plays a role currently in some parts of Europe and the Middle East (still) in the 21st Century.

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

My Childhood By Willy Wang (age 16), Beigan Island

My Childhood

By Willy Wang (age 16), Beigan Island

''Ladies and gentleman ,the plane will take off,please fasten your seat belt ,thank you.''That is the attendant 's broadcast.

When I board a plane, I usually recall the memories of my childhood. Since I was five, I have wanted to become an outstanding pilot. From then on, I have made up my mind that I must stuggle to accomplish my dream.

Also, during my childhood, there was another very special touching story about my brother that has inspired me [as a Christian].


Now I will tell you about my precious childhood story. First, let me say, I was born in a poor family, and later my mom was becoming weak because she was pregnant. This has made me more and more cherish everything about my life and has influenced me.

I should say that I am happy that I was born in a poor family. However, if God had given me more opportunity to choose, I would [still] have selected a poor family instead of choosing a rich family.
One day I had asked my mom for a ''brother'' because I was the only son of my parents and I felt very lonely . I prayed to God continuously. After 5 months,there was an amazing event for me. That was because my mom was [actually] pregnant. Our whole family was very glad and surprised, and I saw Mom 's tears rolling down her cheeks that day. I thought it was a [a precious &] mysterious gift from God.

But, one day, after I had gotten home from kindergarten, I found my mom laying on the bed and bursting into tears.My mother only said that her stomach was aching. I immediately called the ambulance and I hoped that Mom and my [future] brother would both be safe.

After arriving at the National Taiwan University Hospital, the medical staff rushed to push my mother into the emergency room. I closed my eyes to pray to God to help my moother and my brother .With only five months pregnancy, my mom's belly had had sudden sharp pains,. and she even had abnormal bleeding.

Suddenly, a doctor came out of the room and said to me,''Your Mom's body is in a bad condition ; I am not sure whether your brother will be born.” I heard the doctor's speech, I held my mother's hands and encouraged her. I said to Mom,''Mom, do not give up any hope. God will hear my prayer''.

After a few minutes , I asked the physician for a pen and a sheet of paper;I drew a picture with my pen. In this picture there was a healthy baby in my mother's uterus.

As soon as I returned to my mother's side, I began to encouraged her. I said ,''Look ,This is a baby in your stomach [uterus] . God will promise and give us a healthy baby''. Then both Mom and I burst into tears for a while. After a few days, there was a miracle. My mother recoverd and could return home. When I heard this,I was very happy and I couldn't say a word. That's an unforgettable recollection in my life.


After my brother was born, I not only took care of my mother and the baby but also helped my father sell clothes at the Yu Hong intersection. Because the policeman would [often] fine the people who were vendors on the street, I played a role as observer of the policeman’s coming.

I vividly remember that once I [and my father] was caught red-handed by the policeman. I said to him ,''My family is not rich ,and also we have not sold any clothes. That was the primary reason why we had low income. Please be tolerant to us.'' The explanation seemed to touch the policeman, so we weren't fined.

Meanwhile, when at home, I looked after my brother in the role of parents, so I [soon] learned a lot then. In many ways, my childhood was a charming mystery and very touching. But, I learned how to stand up to the challenges. So, I understan my parents' responsibilities [intimately].


In addition, I [have] insisted on trying to reach the dream that I have had since my childhood. As the saying goes, ”We must hold onto our dreams”. For accomplishing my dream of becoming a pilot, I am willing to spend a lot of my free time improving my English and studying physics , I hope one day my dream will come true.

In conclusion, my childhood was [and has been]pretty wonderful for me because it created many unforgettable memories [and inspirations] in my mind.

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By Kevin Stoda, an English Educator in East Asia

Over the past few weeks, I have been amazed by the particular textbook, which one first grade teacher in Tang Qi Elementary School has been busily browsing through. That bilingual book is entitled, A SELECTION OF USEFUL ENGLISH SENTENCE[S]. I cannot tell who the publisher is but on the front of the 200 page book is a neoclassical painting of Socrates and other philosophers in Athens.

This bilingual textbook starts out with a vocabulary and grammar review in English. It has very short chapters—and translations in the back of the book in Chinese. After the first 24 tiny chapters on vocabulary and syntax, Part II of the book focuses on English idioms. Part III then focuses on classical and modern Western quotations—from Plato to Jefferson to Emerson to Rockefeller.

I’m not really certain if this entire book is originally aimed at elementary school or secondary school (or at both educational levels). However, I do know that the first grade teacher and several of her colleagues in Tan Qi here on Beigan Island have been busy writing down phrases in both Chinese and English over the past several weeks.

Two days ago, larger print formats of several of the bilingual quotes have been produced in many colors and have been being placed around the elementary school—most notably on each step of the many stairwells of Tang Qi Elementary School. Apparently, this project of posting famous western proverbs and quotations around the school is part-and-parcel of the “internationalization” of the public education process here in this rural corner of Taiwan.

The Ministry of Education in Taiwan—like ministries in Japan and Korea before it—has determined that the East Asian form of multicultural education (known here as “internationalization”) is to be most strongly emphasized through foreign language education, i.e. most particularly through “English” and foreign language education. In order for my blog article readers to fully comprehend what is being imparted to students on this island—located 7 kilometers from Mainland China, I will share a variety of quotations and proverbs from the book.

The topics I have selected to cite from the book (and which are also soon-to-be pasted on my school’s walls and stairwells) include: (1) Freedom, (2) Love, (3) Struggle and Success, (4) Ideals and Life, (5) Virtue, (6) Health, (7) Friendship, (8) Education, (9) Law and Justice, and (10) Society and Culture.

By no means is this an exhaustive list of topics covered from Western philosophers, writers, and politicians over the millennia. Nor is this an exhaustive list of what the textbook actually covers. For example, it covers satire and proverbs of warning and good fortune. Moreover, topics on family, parents, and religion are covered—along with topics of irregular verb usage in English.

The point I am making as I write this blog and remind readers of a great Western Heritage in literature and philosophy being now considered by Chinese (Taiwanese) educators as worthy of their students interest and potential thought of internalization by their own elementary students over the coming year(s), is that the ten most important things we should have learnt in kindergarten need to be extended and expanded upon. Moreover, they must be integrated into various facets of our lives and educational subjects over a generation if they are to sink in.

Allow me now to share a few dozen of the thousands of quotations to be shared with Chinese or Taiwanese students through such internationalization in education, i.e. if teachers can find enough teachable topics and carry out enough teachable moments over the coming year(s).

From Chapter 59, FREEDOM:
“The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time.”—Thomas Jefferson

“Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth.”—G. Washington

“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”—Ben Franklin

NOTE: I am not sure that neither USA Congressmen nor recent USA Presidents have internalized Franklin’s quote, have they?

From Chapter 60, LOVE:“Without respect, love cannot go far.”—Alexander Dumas

“Love thy neighbor as thyself.”—Jesus

“But now abideth faith, hope, and love, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”—St. Paul

Comment: Why try to totally keep religion out of school when it is part of multicultural or internationalization education?

From Chapter 53, STRUGGLE & SUCCESS:
“Where there is a will, there is a way.”—Thomas Alva Edison

“I know no such thing as genious; it is nothing but labor and diligence.”
—William Hugarth

“It never will rain roses. When we want to have more roses, we must plant [trees].”
--Thomas S. Eliot

Comment: I, personally, had never learned in my schooling that Edison—a non-scholar—had made that quote. Had you learnt that?

From Chapter 52, IDEALS & LIFE:

“Other men live to eat, while I eat to live.” –Socrates

“Living without an aim is like sailing without a compass.”—A. Dumas

“Ideals must work through the brains and the arms of good and brave men, or they are no better than the dreams.”—Ralph W. Emerson

Comment: I bet some youth, parents, and congressmen today think that Socrates was simply a character in BILL & TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE.

From Chapter 52, VIRTUE II:
“Courage without conscience is a wild beast.”—Robert G. Ingersoll

“Often the test of courage is not to die but to live.”—Alfieri

“It is always time to do good.”—K. Gibran

NOTE: I think that the phrase (above) from Ingersoll should be stamped at the edge of every mirror and equipment issued in the military.

From Chapter 42, HEALTH:
“Health is like money, we never have a true idea of its value until we lose it.”—Billings

“One cannot help being old, but one can resist being aged.”—Samuel

“Diseases of the soul are more dangerous than those of the body.”—Cicero

NOTE: Before there are any more healthcare, Medicare, or Medicaid cuts cuts, each of these quotes should be studied for their social--and sometimes explosive or deadly—implications. Moreover, Cicero’s quote clearly should make it illegal to have any pre-existing conditions clause or any reductions in access to mental health assistance in the USA—otherwise innocent congresswomen will get shot (like in Arizona this past January).

From Chapter 40, FRIENDSHIP:
“Treasure is not always a friend, but a friend is always a treasure.”—Francis Bacon

“No road is long with good company.”—English Proverb

“Admonish your friends privately, praise them openly.”—Syrus

Comment: Too often we ignore teaching students how to be friends and maintain friendships, i.e. in our test-driven schools these days.

From Chapter 37, EDUCATION:
“Better be unborn than untaught, for ignorance is the root of misfortune.”--Plato

“Men learn while they teach.”—Seneca

“Only a nation of educated peoples could remain free.”—T. Jefferson

NOTES: Many Americans—like those who have ruined or kept back better developments in my home state of Kansas and elsewhere—have put down teachers by misstating Seneca. They have turned his quote on its head and said, “Those who can’t, teach.”
Meanwhile, nearly 10% of all Americans have a graduate degree but many of these 10% have far too little say with what goes on in their state and national capitals. This needs to change. That is my caveat to Jefferson’s quote (above).

From Chapter 38,WORK & LEISURE:
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”—W.D. Howells

“Every man’s work, whether it be literature or music or pictures or architecture or anything else, is always a portrait of himself.”—Butler

“Leisure is the time to do something useful.”—Elias Howe

“Leisure is the mother of invention.”—Thomas Hobbes

Comment: In America—as in Taiwan—leisure has been underrated.

From Chapter 67, LAW & JUSTICE
“In justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”—Martin L. King, Jr.

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to death your right to say it.”—Voltaire

“Man’s Capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.”—R. Neibuhr

NOTE: America has recently had a spate of judges—including federal and Supreme
court ones—who do not know how to recues themselves. Do they even understand justice?

From Chapter 68, SOCIETY & CULTURE:
“Civilization is the making of civil persons.”—John Ruskin

“ The kinds of greatness which our society produces over the years ahead will be the kinds of greatness we inspire, and will have to be securely rooted in our values.”—Rockefeller Report on Education

“How many things, both just and unjust, are sanctioned by custom!”
—Publius Terencia

“The dead govern the living.”—August Comte

Comment: I think Americans need to go back and read Ruskin, the Rockefeller report and August Comte more often, wouldn’t you agree?


All American generations should follow the Chinese (Taiwanese) examples on moral and international education. Stop fighting it. , our foreign policy, our justice system, and our military, the USA could still be the shining beacon on a hill that our founding fathers aspired for us to reach out and strive for.

Robert Fulghum wrote All I Really Needed to Know I Learned In Kindergarten. But darn it, we need to learn after kindergarten, too. So, I thought I’d share these thoughts from Taiwan with you today.

Declaring World War III is an inappropriate way to respond to USA mistakes of the past decades!!

Here is a short summary of why you need to listen to Ms. Rowley’s call to stop supporting the Ptriot Act and even new and worse legislation Congress already has in the pipline. God Help us, America, if you don’t listen and read…Nine years ago, before Coleen Rowley (co-author of this article) retired from a 24-year career as an FBI special agent, she wrote to Mr. Mueller to point out some of the bureau’s failures prior to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. A disturbing lack of accountability had followed the attacks with the director and other officials falsely suggesting that U.S. intelligence agencies lacked advance knowledge of the attacks. That wasn’t so. Numerous pieces of intelligence data had poured in during that summer of 2001, including prior warnings from my colleagues in the Minneapolis field office related to Zacarias Moussaoui. Moussaoui would later be convicted for his role in the Sept. 11 plot.–KAS

Worldwide War Provision Makes Its Way Through Congress (and People Thought the Patriot Act Was Bad)

By Coleen Rowley

More than a month ago, Phil Leggiere and I wrote the following op-ed that was published in the Washington Times about the fact that certain provisions of the “Patriot Act” were coming up for renewal. Votes are now expected in just days.

ROWLEY & LEGGIERE: Let the Patriot Act die. Invasive provisions about to expire haven’t made us safer.

In little more than a month, three of the 160 provisions of the notorious Patriot Act are set to expire. While federal officials have claimed that Congress must reauthorize those provisions to keep the nation safe, we should take their claims with a grain of proverbial salt. Last month, FBI Director Robert Mueller urged Congress to extend these provisions, set to expire May 27, and even to make them permanent. Section 215 authorizes secret court orders for business records. The “Lone Wolf” wiretapping provision allows the government to track non-U.S. citizens inside the country even if they have no affiliation to a foreign power or terrorist group. Finally, the “John Doe” roving wiretap provision allows open-ended wiretapping orders limited neither to a particular suspect nor particular phones or devices.

Mr. Mueller warned ominously that without these powers, law enforcement and counterterror investigations would be severely undermined, adding, predictably, that they are “critical to national security.”

But his words have an all too familiar – and hollow – ring.

Nine years ago, before Coleen Rowley (co-author of this article) retired from a 24-year career as an FBI special agent, she wrote to Mr. Mueller to point out some of the bureau’s failures prior to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. A disturbing lack of accountability had followed the attacks with the director and other officials falsely suggesting that U.S. intelligence agencies lacked advance knowledge of the attacks. That wasn’t so. Numerous pieces of intelligence data had poured in during that summer of 2001, including prior warnings from my colleagues in the Minneapolis field office related to Zacarias Moussaoui. Moussaoui would later be convicted for his role in the Sept. 11 plot.

It’s been my experience that political or bureaucratic fear-mongering and “security theater” have all too often trumped effective investigation and intelligence. Over the decade since the Patriot Act was first enacted, a large – and increasing – number of American citizens have also learned that lesson the hard way.

Politicians and federal authorities relentlessly insist that secret and unchecked government power equal greater security. That formula, however, is not only inaccurate, but also dangerous both to our liberty and security.

While Mr. Mueller and other Patriot Act supporters – in both parties – clamor for reauthorization of expiring provisions, Congress should instead consider the Justice Act, which would curtail most of the documented abuses under Patriot and restore much-needed limits on executive power.

Under the aegis of the Patriot Act’s expansion of material-support prosecutions, for instance, charities have been shut down without due process, even when pursuing projects as laudable as promoting nonviolent conflict resolution in war-torn areas. Grassroots donors have been imprisoned because the ostensibly humanitarian organizations to which they contributed got connected to activities those donors never intended to support. The Justice Act would end these abuses by requiring prosecutors to prove a defendant’s intent to support violence.

Erosion of prior attorney general guidelines allow the FBI and its joint terrorism task-force officers to use the most intrusive investigative techniques – such as planting undercover agents provocateur in mosques and peace groups to instigate violent plots – without any evidence or even suspicion of wrongdoing. Coupled with the expansion of what’s considered “material support,” these powers have enabled abuses by encouraging agents to check off statistical achievements rather than seeking real security.

Last fall’s FBI raids of peace activists across Minneapolis and Chicago illustrate how this waste and abuse can involve hundreds of agents. Additionally, in the Iowa heartland before the 2008 Republican National Convention, the FBI filled hundreds of pages about a few student protesters in Iowa City using costly surveillance, trash searches and work with terrorism databases and statistical analysis – all without ever demonstrating the slightest justification or suspicion.

Despite Mr. Mueller’s claims, none of this domestic surveillance has made Americans any safer. Indeed, the massive data collection that has sprung up only adds largely irrelevant hay to the haystack, making it even harder to detect meaningful patterns and anticipate events. In contrast, the Justice Act would curtail bulk intelligence collection, ensuring that agents focus on real threats, rather than spying on innocent Americans.

Our nation will soon debate on whether to extend – or, worse yet, permanently enshrine – the dangerous excesses of the Patriot Act. Rather than take its marching orders from the executive branch, Congress should stop ongoing abuses and restore checks and balances on executive power.

A wide-ranging congressional investigation of the sort conducted by the Church Committee is long overdue. And while Congress musters the will to do its job, it should consider the Justice Act as an alternative to Patriot reauthorization.

Coleen Rowley was an FBI special agent for almost 24 years. She worked as legal counsel to the FBI Field Office in Minneapolis from 1990 to 2003. Philip Leggiere is a journalist whose work has appeared in WIRED and Salon.
(Published April 25, 2011 in the Washington Times.)

Unfortunately something far worse than the Patriot Act, and actually, if you can believe it, something legally worse than anything so far in the “war on terror” is now making its way through Congress. For a summary, see “Congress Proposes Bill to Allow Worldwide War…Including INSIDE the U.S.”

As the ACLU has noted,

Congress is going even further … proposing handing permanent, world-wide war-making powers to the president – including the ability to make war within the United States:
A hugely important provision for Congress to authorize a new worldwide war has been tucked away inside the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The bill was marked up by members of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) last Wednesday that poured into Thursday morning (2:45 a.m. to be exact).

A couple of minutes past midnight, Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) offered an amendment to strike Sec. 1034 — the new authorization for worldwide war provision — from the NDAA. Visibly angry that such a large sweeping provision had not yet had any public hearing whatsoever, he vigorously characterized it as a very broad declaration of war.

Rep. Garamendi was very concerned by the limitless geographic boundaries of the provision. Essentially, it would enable the U.S. to use military force anywhere in the world (including within the U.S.) in search of terrorists.


While a new authorization for worldwide war has had its first public debate, it unfortunately only lasted a hair over 10 minutes and occurred after midnight.

Though it is a very troubling expansion of war authority, it has been lingering for more than three years as a “sleeper provision,” and it is finally getting the attention of some members of Congress. We hope that further debate in Congress in the weeks ahead will allow for a more in-depth examination of unchecked authority to wage worldwide war, and what the outcomes of such a provision will yield.

Those who do not want Congress to give the President this kind of unbridled war-making power, need to call their congresspersons immediately! And while you’re on the phone to Congress, don’t forget to tell them not to re-authorize these provisions of the Patriot Act.

Original Content at http://www.opednews.com/articles/Worldwide-War-Provision-Ma-by-Coleen-Rowley-110519-714.html

Author’s Website: www.coleenrowley.com



I often write about how different countries select and perform popular movies again and again to reflect cultural, political, social and economic concerns of the masses. The American Prospect has done the same in shadowing what we should expect from Hollywood this next half-year.--KAS

The Political Meaning Behind Summer Blockbusters

This summer's blockbuster movies may be escapism, but they’re powerful expressions of major trends in American politics. Movies as diverse as Sam Raimi’s foreclosure horror flick DragMetoHell and Adam McKay’s financial meltdown cop comedy TheOtherGuys have explored the rage and helplessness of an economy that may be altered forever. James Cameron’s science-fiction epic Avatar sparked as many, if not more, environmental debates than Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth . And, Hollywood director Michael Bay soughtout the Defense Department's cooperation when he started making his Transformers movies, the third of which arrives in theaters on June 29, and switches American troops from fighting Afghans and Iraqis to fighting giant robots, symbolically referencing the human cost of our ongoing wars. Rather than trying to escape politics in our entertainment, it’s time to embrace them. In the next few months, a trio of superhero movies is poised to exploit post-bin Laden American triumphalism. In the midst of our sluggish economic recovery, a new crop of comedies are poised to help audiences adjust their economic expectations. And the most controversial education reform movie since Waiting for Superman stars Cameron Diaz. We may think we're seeking mindless entertainment when we buy tickets to an action movie or a romantic comedy, but those films are both the product of our politics and an expression of them. Welcome to The Progress Report's progressive guide to summer movie season.

OLD ENEMIES AND NEW ONES: In future summers, we'll see an explosion of action movies based on Osama bin Laden's death. Kathryn Bigelow, director of the Oscar-winning movie The Hurt Locker , was alreadyworking on a movie about an attempt on Bin Laden's life when President Obama announced that the terrorist had been killed. Universal greenlitan adaptation of Marcus Luttrell's memoir about his service as a Navy SEAL in Afghanistan. And Disney's movedtotrademark the term "Seal Team 6," locking up the name of the squad that got Bin Laden, now a valuable bit of intellectual property. But this year, superhero movies are turning back to old enemies, and to conflicts where the exercise of American power was decidedly less complicated than it is now. CaptainAmerica: TheFirstAvenger, due out on July 22, is an origin story, but it's also very much a period piece, a high-gloss flashback to World War II. Captain America will fight terrorists in that movie, but terroristswhoareactingasagentsoftheNazistate under the command of the Red Skull, a super villain who, according to some origin stories, was recruited by Hitler himself. Unlike Tony Stark, who has to destroy a terrorist cell who kidnapped him while avoiding civilian casualties so he can keep the allegiance of Afghan citizens, Captain America won't be required to show much restraint. Similarly, X-Men: FirstClass goes back to the '60s to bring its titular mutant heroes together for the first time. The X-Men aren't agents of the government -- in fact, they're precisely the opposite, a group of people whose extraordinary abilities make them despised rather than prized, and whose struggle to figure out if they should assimilate into society or withdraw in it is a major metaphor for gay rights. But in this origin story, the characters have a chance to earn their spurs as heroes and a place in mainstream America by acting as a fail-safe for President Kennedy when his brinksmanship on the Cuban Missile Crisis goes awry. By contrast, Michael Bay's Transformer: DarkoftheMoon, is dipping into more contemporary politics. The movie is relying on American distaste for Julian Assange and Wikileaks -- as well on the rather contradictory pleasure of watching our major cities get destroyed on-screen -- to power a script in which giant robots try to bring down the United States government by revealingstatesecrets.


Ron Blunt ignores Sandhill Crane Habitat Devastation and fails to promote good national long-term anti-dependence on fossil fuel future in America

Dear Show-Me Staters,

Ron Blunt ignores Sandhill Crane Habitat Devastation and fails to promote good national long-term anti-dependence on fossil fuel future in America. (See his recent letter to me below.) Should he be impeached or recalled?

I have written Ron Blunt numerous times, and it appears that he is to the right of the teapartier and in the back pocket of oil firms and the arms industry. I wrote him recently about the Canadian pipeline being built through the Sandhill Crane habitat across the Great Plains and prairies, and I have written him to support local Missouri colleges in building great alternative nergy cars. Blunt ignores me. (See letter below!) Is he ignoring any Show-Me-Staters, too?–KEVIN

Dear Kevin,

Thank you for contacting me on S. 275, the Pipeline Transportation Safety Improvement Act of 2011.

The United States has approximately 2.5 million miles of pipeline that transports the fuels that power our nation. The Pipeline Transportation Safety Improvement Act is intended to enhance safety and overall reliability in pipeline transportation.

This bill attempts to strike the appropriate balance between pipeline safety and ensuring operators have the flexibility they need to deliver fuels reliably. As a member of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, I will work to ensure that any changes to the law don’t result in the type of federal overreach that does more harm than good.

Based on data from the Government Accountability Office, Washington imposed an unprecedented 43 major new federal regulations, at a cost of $26.5 billion in 2010. I will continue to fight strict and arbitrary mandates that impose heavy burdens on Americans and our economy.

Agai n, thank you for contacting me. I look forward to continuing our conversation on Facebook ( www.facebook.com/SenatorBlunt ) and Twitter ( www.twitter.com/RoyBlunt ) about the important issues f acing Missouri and the country. I also encourage you to visit my website ( blunt.senate.gov ) to learn more about where I stand on the issues and sign-up for my e -newsletter .

Sincere regards,

Roy Blunt
United States Senator


Muslims support the Episcopal Bishop of Jerusalem in the struggle for his right maintain Residence in the Sacred City

MAS Freedom supports the Episcopal Bishop of Jerusalem in the struggle for his right maintain Residence in the Sacred City

We have received today a communication from Jim Vitarello, a longtime Christian activist for human rights in Israel and Palestine, the the Right Reverend Suheil Dawani, the Episcopal Bishop of Jerusalem, is being denied the renewal of his "Temporary Residence Status" in the city by Israeli authorities.

Because Jerusalem is recognized as a sacred city in the religious traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, we support the human rights and religious freedoms of all members of these Abrahamic communities, and we call on President Obama to raise this critical issue of support for religious freedoms in his upcoming talks with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.

As Muslims, we are called on to advocate for the legitimate rights of all human beings, and in this case, the right of the Palestinian Christian community to both freely live in Jerusalem, along with both Jews and Muslims, and to exercise unrestricted access to their places of worship. Our letter to Jim Vitarello follows:

Dear Jim,

I write, both personally and on behalf of the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation (MAS Freedom) to express our solidarity with The Rt. Rev Suheil Dawani, and with the entire Palestinian Christian community, in the matter of the actions of the Israeli government and their refusal to renew his residency status in Jerusalem.

The city of Jerusalem is sacred to people of the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic faiths, and as such, it should and must be open to the clerical communities of these faiths, and to all those who choose to live and peacefully worship there. Any attempt to abridge this right is incompatible with the moral law that should always guide people of faith.

Please convey our best wishes to Rev. Dawani, and our fervent hope, as a Muslim civil and human rights advocacy organization, that President Obama will raise this critical issue of the human rights of the interfaith community in the State of Israel in his upcoming conversations with the Israeli prime minister.

Thank you,

Ibrahim Ramey
Human and Civil Rights Program Director
MAS Freedom

(703) 642-6165


Obama still mulling executive order--while DEMs ape GOP's Clandestine Tactics

Obama still mulling executive order
President Barack Obama still hasn’t signed a draft executive order requiring companies vying for government contracts to disclose details of their political spending. Meanwhile, a group of 80 businesses sent Obama a letter this week urging him to back off. House Republicans are threatening to introduce legislation to block such an order.

"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:

$2 million: Amount outside groups have spent to influence race for seat of former U.S. Rep. Chris Lee (R-N.Y.)
$7 million: Amount three candidates in race have raised
More than $2.6 million: Amount of their own money that Jane Corwin, Republican candidate, and Jack Davis, Tea Party candidate, have each put into race
$250,000: Amount of her own money that Kathy Hochul, Democratic candidate, has put into race
Corporate takeover of politics: Moran to chair discussion
U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) will chair a discussion on May 28 at George Mason University on the pervasive corporate takeover of American politics, including the threat to our democracy posed by the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which allows corporations to spend as much as they want to sway elections. Representatives from Public Citizen, People For the American Way, the AFL-CIO and the Coffee Party USA will be participating as well. The event is free and open to the public. For more details, contact Anna White at awhite@citizen.org.

Fox News will disclose political spending
Fox News will begin disclosing information about political spending by posting the information on the website of News Corp., the network’s parent company. The company’s expenditures became controversial last year when News Corp. made $1 million contributions to both the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Republican Governors Association. The new policy calls for disclosure of contributions made between January and June to be posted in July. After that, they would be posted each January. That’s too late, says Media Matters for America.

If they can do it, we can too — Dems seek FEC permission to copy controversial GOP plan
Democrats have asked the Federal Election Commission whether a new plan to use independent groups to avoid fundraising limits is legal. The reason for the request? That’s what the GOP plans to do. Republican campaign lawyer James Bopp, who was instrumental in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case and has been going all over the country to overturn campaign finance laws, announced the new strategy this week. It calls for using federal lawmakers, candidates and party officials to raise unlimited money for election ads, which is illegal because the law forbids solicitation of unlimited funds by candidates and party officials. Good government organizations immediately denounced the plan.

Minnesota disclosure law upheld
A panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has said that a Minnesota law requiring disclosure of corporate political donations can stand. The law, which calls for corporations that donate more than $100 to create a political fund and disclose contribution information, does not impose a burden on free speech, the court ruled.

And they’re off ...
Priorities USA, a new group created by former White House aides, is launching its first ad of the 2012 presidential season — targeting potential GOP candidate Mitt Romney. The ad will run in South Carolina.

Obama still mulling executive order
President Barack Obama still hasn’t signed a draft executive order requiring companies vying for government contracts to disclose details of their political spending. Meanwhile, a group of 80 businesses sent Obama a letter this week urging him to back off. House Republicans are threatening to introduce legislation to block such an order.

Georgia governor vetoes disclosure measure
Georgia’s governor has vetoed a new bill that would have required campaign literature to state clearly who paid for it and whether the candidate approved it. The governor explained his veto by saying that the U.S. Supreme Court has held that political donations are protected speech.

Sprint Nextel shareholders approve political contribution disclosure proposal
More than half (53 percent) of Sprint Nextel shareholders have voted for a proposal by the New York City Pension Fund for disclosure of political contributions. Under the proposal, Sprint Nextel would report its policies for making political contributions, identify who decided to make the contributions, and account for the money. New York City’s comptroller called it a victory for pensioners and institutional investors.


Friday, May 20, 2011

You should be ashamed of your vote to protect Big Oil's tax breaks at the expense of American taxpayers. You've accepted an astonishing amount OIL $$$

Sen. Pat Roberts and Sen. Jerry Moran took lots of oil money. And then voted to let Big Oil keep taking our money.

Hold Sen. Pat Roberts and Sen. Jerry Moran accountable for the vote against ending oil subsidies.

Clicking on the link (above)here will add your name to this petition to your Senator:

You should be ashamed of your vote to protect Big Oil's tax breaks at the expense of American taxpayers. You've accepted an astonishing amount of campaign money from oil companies. I urge you to stop putting oil profits and campaign contributions ahead of the American people.

Dear Kevin,

Last night, 48 Senators, including Sen. Pat Roberts and Sen. Jerry Moran [KANSAS], put Big Oil before the American people and helped defeat a bill that would have ended tax breaks for the five biggest oil companies.1

How could anyone vote against a bill that would have kept $21 billion of American taxpayers' money out of the pockets of cash-rich oil companies?

One big reason is oil money in our political process. A lot of it. Oil and gas companies spent $39.5 million lobbying congress in just the first quarter of this year,2 and have donated tens of millions of dollars directly to the political campaigns of current Senators, including $298,200 to Sen. Pat Roberts and $296,921 to Sen. Jerry Moran.3

Tell Sen. Pat Roberts and Sen. Jerry Moran: Stop putting oil company profits and campaign contributions ahead of the American people. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

In all, three Democrats joined all but two Senate Republicans to protect Big Oil tax breaks that even a former Shell CEO said weren't needed.4

But make no mistake. Even though we didn't get the 60 votes required for passage, our pressure to end oil subsidies is already working. More and more legislators are acting defensive about their support of Big Oil over the American people.

In February, similar legislation to repeal some oil subsidies got only 44 votes. Yesterday, we got 52 votes. That comes after CREDO Action members sent more than 225,000 petitions to the Senate and made more than 1,000 calls yesterday to 11 key Senators, six of whom flipped their position and voted to end tax breaks to Big Oil.

Senate Majority leader Harry Reid said yesterday that despite this defeat, he will continue to push for ending oil subsides as part of negotiations on the budget and to raise the debt ceiling.5

We need to keep the pressure on. And one key to breaking Big Oil's grasp on our legislators is letting Congress know that we know about the millions of dollars that Big Oil has given them — including the $298,200 to Sen. Pat Roberts and $296,921 to Sen. Jerry Moran.

Let's make sure that voting to protect oil company profits doesn't go unanswered by those of us who actually pay the price.

Tell Sen. Pat Roberts and Sen. Jerry Moran: Stop putting oil company profits and campaign contributions ahead of the American people. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

Thank you for taking action.

Elijah Zarlin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

P.S. — Want to find out more about the Big Oil money going to our elected officials? Our friends at the Dirty Energy Money campaign have the scoop. Click here to see how much dirty energy money your Senators and other elected officials have taken.

1. "Senate GOP Votes Down Bill To End Big Oil Subsidies," Huffington Post, May 17, 2011
2. "Senators Opposing End of Oil Subsidies Received Five Times More in Big Oil Campaign Cash," Oil Change International, May 17, 2011
3. Dirty Energy Money campaign data
4. "Ex-Shell CEO Says Big Oil Can Live Without Subsidies ," National Journal, February 11, 2011
5. "Senate rejects bill to cut oil tax breaks," The Hill, May 17, 2011


Dedicated to all my friends in the Gulf--where the Arab Rebellions are Being Smothered

Dedicated to all my friends in the Gulf--where the Arab Rebellions are Being Smothered--kas

Original Content at http://www.opednews.com/articles/The-Gulf-Cooperation-Counc-by-Press-Release-110517-258.html

The Gulf Cooperation Council's Dirty Little Secret: Modern Slavery

By Press Release

Why don't Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, and the U.A.E., among others, want the Arab Awakening to spread to their countries. Why has Saudi Arabia sent troops into Bahrain to prop up the Bahraini monarch? And why has the U.A.E. hired Eric Prince to create a private army to, among other things, put down internal revolts?

These largely royalist governments are not fighting change because they have been ordained by Allah as His divine representatives on earth. They are resistant to change because change is going to break up their monopoly grips on power and wealth, and their ability to exploit the working class, in particular the vast pool of migrant workers, who are often, if not always, treated little better than modern slaves and dogs. In a word, the Arab Awakening is to the GCC what the Abolitionists were to the CSA (the Confederate States of America). The Arab Spring threatens to flood their oil and other "plantations" with human rights, union organizing and workers rights. And then such seditious ideas might even spread into Africa and Asia, where vast numbers of humans are also being exploited within various states.

To detail what is going on in the GCC's "plantation" system, and how migrant workers by the tens of thousands have been and are being abused now, The Real News Network recently interviewed Adam Hanieh, who teaches development studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and is the author of the book Capitalism and Class in the Gulf Arab States. Following is that interview and below that is the transcript for your perusal.

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Washington. Across the Gulf Cooperation Council countries--Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, and a few others--there has been a dirty secret that doesn't get talked about very much, certainly not in the news. All the discussion about bin Laden and some of the more higher-profile protests, particularly in Bahrain--the thing that doesn't get talked about very much is the thousands or tens of thousands of migrant workers that are really the engines driving these economies other than oil. Now joining us to talk about the state and importance of the migrant workers in these countries is Adam Hanieh. Adam teaches development studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. He's also the author of the book Capitalism and Class in the Gulf Arab States. Thanks for joining us, Adam.


JAY: So talk about the history of this. If I understand it correctly, back in the '60s perhaps 90 percent of the workers in Saudi Arabia were nationals, Saudi Citizens, and now the number of Saudi citizens actually in the workforce is probably less than 20 percent. So what happened and why?

HANIEH: Well, if you go back to the beginning of the oil industries in the GCC states, particularly Saudi Arabia but also the UAE and Kuwait and other states, you would have found a much greater proportion of the citizen population working in the oil industries. And if you look back at the conditions that--for example, in Saudi Arabia, where you had Saudi citizens working in the oil fields of Aramco (the US oil company that controlled the oil supply in Saudi Arabia at the time), they lived in quite shocking conditions that have been described by Robert Vitalis>, for example, American academic, as a situation resembling that of apartheid. But what happened as these states gained their independence, as they moved and industrialized through the '60s and '70s, they came to rely much more heavily on temporary migrant workers, bringing workers from, initially, the Middle East during the '70s. You would have found 75 percent or so of the migrant workers in the Gulf region from the Middle East at that time. And these migrant workers came in on temporary contracts, filling jobs not just in the oil industries but other jobs--construction, teaching, taxi drivers, all sorts of work.

JAY: Before you get into that, let's just back up a step, 'cause I don't think many people know this history, that this national, Saudi national working class in the late '50s and the 1960s was fairly radical. And part of the reasons for the move towards bringing in, first of all, other Arabs--Palestinians and Yemenites--to work was that the Saudi working class actually was progressive. What is that story?

HANIEH: Well, there was certainly a range of strikes through the Saudi oil fields through the '50s and '60s, and radical and left-wing organizations formed that were opposed to Aramco, opposed to the Saudi monarchy, calling for greater control over the oil, instead of it being controlled by an American firm. And there were strikes, there were demonstrations, and very heavy repression directed against these workers, both in collaboration with American and British advice on how to repress it. So these workers were protesting not just their conditions, but also the broader intervention of American and British and French presence in the Middle East. They were very much influenced by Nasserism and more radical forms of Arab nationalism and leftist thought during the time.

JAY: So this decision to move to migrant workers, as opposed--and kind of diminish the role of the Saudi working class had a political character to it. But how do they achieve that? What, do they partly buy off the Saudi working class as they bring in migrant workers? Is that's what happened?

HANIEH: Well, certainly what happened as these states moved through independence, particularly during the 1970s. In the case of the other GCC states, they brought in temporary migrant workers, and the national population, those who had citizenship in the country, came to constitute a small minority of the overall population in these states. And these citizens were given jobs mostly in the public sector and in government sectors. In some cases they were given jobs little more than receiving a paycheck. They didn't actually--there were large levels of illiteracy and these kinds of things. They also got other benefits from the state--housing, marriage dowries, free education, free health, all of these types of things; whereas the bulk of the work done in these societies was performed by these migrant workers who had very little rights and were very severely exploited and continue to be today.

JAY: Now, in the next phase, Palestinians formed a big piece of this migrant workforce for a while. What happened there?

HANIEH: Well, this was dressed up in many ways as a show of solidarity with Palestinians, particularly refugees in Lebanon. And there was a decision by the Saudi king to present or prescribe a certain proportion of the workforce that had to be Palestinian. And a recruiting agency from Aramco was sent and established in Lebanon to recruit Palestinian refugees to work in the Saudi oil fields. So what happened were Palestinians, also Yemeni and other Arab workers, came in--again, though, as temporary workers. They lacked any of the citizenship rights that were granted to Saudi nationals that received the types of benefits I spoke about.

JAY: And what happened with the Palestinians? If I understand it, they eventually threw out most of the Palestinians, thinking they were too radical.

HANIEH: Well, what happened during the '70s, '80s, and particularly through the '90s, there was a shift away from mostly Arab migrant labor towards drawing workers from South Asia--from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh--and the Philippines, further afield. So there was actually a shift, as I said, mid- 1970s, 1975. The proportion of Arab workers as a whole was around 75 percent of the migrant working class. By early 2000, this had come down to about 25 percent. And the rest were mostly from South Asia; the other 75 or so was mostly from South Asian countries. You still do see, particularly, Egyptian workers in the Gulf in large numbers, though.

JAY: So just a little bit about the conditions now of the South Asian migrant workers.

HANIEH: You can't describe them through anything more than a very severe kind of exploitation that resembles, in many cases, forms of slavery. Actually, just yesterday there was an Indian man who committed suicide in Dubai by jumping off the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa, which I'm sure many of our viewers today will have seen when it went up with much fanfare. These kinds of construction projects, these fanciful projects, are built on the back of construction workers that face very severe forms of exploitation [in] many cases. For example, in Dubai, workers will be paid 50 to 70 cents an hour. They work ten hours a day, six days a week. They live in labor camps where the conditions are quite atrocious--you have sewage flowing in the streets, no paved roads, people packed into--many people packed into individual--into small rooms. So these kinds of conditions lead to events like the suicide yesterday. But they're not isolated to the UAE; they occur across the GCC.

JAY: And one of the practices--I understand it correctly--is that employers take people's passports. So even if they want to go, they're virtually prisoners in many ways.

HANIEH: This is true, particularly among the lower rungs of the migrant working class in the Gulf. And you see, what this does is it enables this system of control to really develop where the migrant worker has no agency, no control over their situation, and it leads, unfortunately, in many cases, to the kinds of suicides that we saw yesterday. Just to point out, for example, these are not just male workers; these are also female domestic workers, which lack--and are even more isolated than male workers.

JAY: And what happens if the female migrant workers become pregnant?

HANIEH: Well, you--there are a number of cases going on at the moment in the GCC of female domestic workers who have been raped by their employers. There's a case in Saudi Arabia, I believe, where a domestic worker had her hand--or had nails hammered into her body when she asked for her pay. Just last week there were 2,300 Indonesian workers, mostly domestic workers, some of them who had been raped by their employers, who were deported from Saudi Arabia and have arrived back in Indonesia. So these kinds of conditions are really indicative of the types of exploitation that we see underlying the development in the GCC region.

JAY: Now, the object of all this was to have a docile-like, slave-like workforce that couldn't fight back. And I guess to some extent they've achieved that. But in spite of that, we see big protests in Bahrain, we saw some protests in Saudi Arabia. Who is protesting if in fact the economic conditions, at the very least, seem not bad for most of the nationals?

HANIEH: Well, Bahrain is a bit different from the other GCC states in the sense that you see a Shia majority and you see more of an exploitation against Bahraini workers. They still constitute part of the working class in Bahrain. So you do see poorer Bahrainis. And the same also in Saudi Arabia. So you do see differences within the national population, within the citizen population, that are reflected in these kinds of demonstrations and are overlaid upon the kind of sectarian or ethnic differences that also exist within these societies.

JAY: Meaning that the Shia generally are not as well-off as the Sunnis.

HANIEH: That's generally the case, although it's very, very important to emphasize that the opposition groups, in Bahrain in particular, have been working to emphasize that this is not a sectarian conflict, it's a question of democratic struggle, where Shia and Sunni are together, opposed against the monarchy. But as you pointed out, the bulk of the working classes in these societies still are migrant workers, and this means that it's difficult for them to engage in any kind of protest action because of their temporary status. If they go on strike, for example, which is illegal, they can be deported at the first sign of any kind of protest action.

JAY: When we interview people from Bahrain that are--been involved in supporting the protest, I asked: is there any attempt to link up with the migrant workers there? And it seemed to me that they have, somewhat, disdain themselves for the migrant workers. The democracy movement in Bahrain doesn't take account for any rights for migrant workers. Is there any movement on that?

HANIEH: Well, one of the strategies of the ruling monarchy, Al Khalifa monarchy, in Bahrain has been to nationalize particularly Pakistani and other workers, often in--who work within the police forces or the security forces, in order to strengthen, if you like, the Sunni component of the society. So this is one of the reasons why you do see tensions between the citizen population and the migrant worker population within these countries. But we have to always remember that migrant workers are very--living in a very precarious situation. It's very difficult for them to join any kind of protest action, because they lack any right to residency in the country as soon as they lose their jobs. This is a very, very important point to understand. You lose your job, you're out of the country.

JAY: Now, the current situation amongst the Bahrain resistance is mostly been greatly suppressed. People are still being arrested. They're doing house-to-house searches. We understand they've gone to hospitals and arrested protesters in the hospitals. What do you think are the prospects for what may come next in Bahrain?

HANIEH: Well, I think the legacy of these demonstrations is still to be seen. They certainly have not succeeded in quashing the desire of the people for some kind of democratic transformation. And I know across the whole region, not just Bahrain, but across the rest of the GCC states, there are meetings, they're talking, there's op-eds, there are people speaking about the need for a fundamental transformation. And particularly if the revolutionary processes move forward in places such as Egypt and Tunisia in particular, it will have further roll-on effects, further impacts on these GCC states.

JAY: And can you imagine a role for migrant workers in these movements? Or is it simply--it's just too impossible for them?

HANIEH: Well, I think there's two sides. I wouldn't at all want to give the impression that migrant workers are unable to be part of these kinds of struggles. But I think in order for that to happen, there has to be also--we have to see campaigns and movements that are transnational in effect. For example, in some of the sending countries, we do see attempts by migrant workers to organize. For example, in the Philippines there's a very impressive organization, Migrante, that works around the rights of Filipino workers, particularly domestic workers in the GCC. And this does have an effect. So these kinds of trends, national forms of organizing, I think, will continue to unfold and develop. The other side to this question, though, is what does the--or to Arab unions, what do the Arab working classes in other states do around these migrant workers. I think it's very important that the trade union movements, the worker movements that we see across the region in the Middle East, need to link up and work very actively to defend the rights of these migrant workers. And, unfortunately, this has not been something that is being given a priority or a high profile by many of the trade unions and left-wing organizations in the region to date.

JAY: Thanks for joining us, Adam.

HANIEH: Thank you, Paul.JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.End of TranscriptDISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


Pablo Ouziel---Spain's Tahrir Square?

I have been to the Puerto del Sol dozens of times. It's traditionally one of the better people watching places in Madrid at all times of day. Now, according to the author below it is Spain's Tahrir Square. I think every single state capitol and all major cities need to fill their own Tahrir Squares until (1) the endless war making is ended and peace, justice, and humane social economy is restored in the USA.--KAS

Original Content at http://www.opednews.com/articles/Spain-s-Tahrir-Square-by-Pablo-Ouziel-110518-419.html

Spain's Tahrir Square

By Pablo Ouziel

Spain's people's movement has finally awoken, la Puerta del Sol in Madrid is now the country's Tahrir Square, and the "Arab Spring' has been joined by what is now bracing to become a long "European Summer'. As people across the Arab world continue their popular struggle for justice, peace and democracy, Spain's disillusioned citizens have finally caught on with full force. Slow at first, hopeful that Spain's dire economic conditions would magically correct themselves, the Spanish street has finally understood that democratic and economic justice and peace will not come from the pulpits of the country's corrupt political elite.

Amidst local and regional election campaigns, with the banners of the different political parties plastered across the country's streets, people are saying "enough!' Disillusioned youth, unemployed, pensioners, students, immigrants and other disenfranchised groups have emulated their brothers in the Arab world and are now demanding a voice -- demanding an opportunity to live with dignity.

As the country continues to explode economically, with unemployment growing incessantly -- one in two young people unemployed across many of the country's regions. With many in the crumbling middle class on the verge of losing their homes while bankers profit from their loss and the government uses citizen taxes to expand the military industrial complex by going off to war; the people have grasped that they only have each other if they are to rise from the debris of the militarized political and economic nightmare in which they have found themselves.

Spain is finally re-embracing its radical past, its popular movements, its anarcho-syndicalist traditions and its republican dreams. Crushed by Generalissimo Francisco Franco seventy years ago, it seemed that Spanish popular culture would never recover from the void left by a rightwing dictatorship, which exterminated anyone with a dissenting voice; but the 15th of May 2011, is the reminder to those in power that Spanish direct democracy is still alive and has finally awaken.

In the 1970's a transition through pact, transformed Spain's totalitarian structures into a representative democracy in which all the economic structures remained intact. For the highly illiterate generations of the time, marred in the reality of a poverty-stricken country, the concessions made by the country's elite seemed something worth celebrating. Nevertheless, as the decades passed, the state-owned corporations were privatized robbing the nation of its collective wealth, and the political scene crystallized into a pseudo-democracy in which two large parties PP and PSOE marginalized truly democratic alternatives. As this neoliberal political project materialized, the discontent begun to resurface, but the fear mongers, Spain's baby-boomers who had once fought for democracy, were quick to remind the youth of the dangers of rebellion. For many decades in Spain, the mantra was, "it is better to live as we are than to go back to the totalitarianism of the past, and if you shake the system too much, it will take away our hard-earned rights'. So the youth remained silent, fearful of what could happen if they spoke, and the baby-boomers in their content blamed the youth for their indifference. According to them, it was the youth unwilling to work, which were bringing the country to its knees. But the youth have stopped this blame game, and aware of the true risks to their future are finally enticing the whole country to mobilize.

A failed European project, with its borders quickly being reinstated, a collapsing Euro currency, and the examples of Greece, Portugal and Ireland are the reminders to those on the streets of what it is they are fighting to disassociate themselves from, and of the freedoms they are working towards. The economic and political project of the country's elite has destroyed the economic dreams of whole generations of naïve and apathetic Spaniards; it has left the country in the hands of bond speculators and central bankers, and Spaniards will have to pay that price. Nevertheless, the debt accumulated by the Spanish family, has also earned it the education with which it can understand what is going on, and through it Spanish people will liberate themselves from the tyranny of their government.

What has begun in Madrid's Puerta del Sol and has been echoed in fifty-two cities across the country is the crystallization of a popular movement for freedom, which has no intention of fading away. The people have no choice, either they take city squares as symbols of their struggle, or their message is never heard. The government knows this and that is why it has quickly responded by trying to disperse the crowds with its repressive police force, but following some arrests, the people are back with more strength.

A silent revolution has begun in Spain, a nonviolent revolution which seeks democracy through democratic means, justice through just means, and peace through peaceful means has finally captivated the imagination of the Spanish people, and now there is no turning back. The challenge ahead will be in keeping the collective spirit nonviolent as the police force does everything in its power to disintegrate the movement into a violent chaos that can justify its repression. The popular movement will also have to be alert as the bond speculators threaten the country with economic sanctions in order to scare the population into submission, and a constructive program will have to be articulated so that the movement can continue to function whilst providing sustainable alternatives for a different Spain.

Hopefully an articulate steering committee will flourish soon from amongst the crowds, which is capable of making clear and viable demands that grab the imagination of the country and force the political elite to comply. These are delicate times in Spain, if this spontaneous nonviolent movement succeeds, Spain may welcome a brighter future, if it fails, I fear violence will become the only option for those in pain. What those outside of the country can do for Spain is to echo the shouts of indignation coming from the country's streets. So far both mainstream and progressive international media channels have opted for silence. Let us hope this silence breaks.

Pablo Ouziel's articles and essays are available at pabloouziel.com

Author's Bio: "The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity." Leo Tolstoy -Pablo Ouziel is an activist and a free lance writer based in Spain. His work has appeared in many progressive media including Znet, Palestine Chronicle, Thomas Paine¹s Corner and Atlantic Free Press.