Sunday, June 26, 2011

Your opinions and knowledge are welcome. What makes one article or one blog page more popular than any other

By Kevin Anthony Stoda

What makes one blog article more popular than another? Is it luck, search engine, random, destiny, service provider, connections, location, Facebook or what? I have been doing some research on search engines since 2007 and have some of my own thoughts, but I am interested in opinions from other bloggers–and their on line complaints as to how the system is set up.

What makes one blog article more popular than another? Is it luck, search engine, random, destiny, service provider, connections, location, Facebook or what?

This list comes from on June 26, 2011. It includes only articles that have 100 hits or more in a certain period of time.
I have been doing some research on search engines since 2007 and have some of my own thoughts, but I am interested in opinions from other bloggers–and their on line complaints as to how the system is set up.

Original Content at


End the 21st Century “Shoganaism” American-style—“Yes, We Can!”

End the 21st Century “Shoganaism” American-style—“Yes, We Can!”

By Kevin A. Stoda, in semi-exile in East Asia

This is the 3rd part of an article, which compares and contrasts Western and Eastern “learned helplessness” under the phrase (pronounced with a shrug of surrender) “Shoganai”, which in Japanese literal means: “It can’t be helped.” This part focuses more on the aftermath of WWII in Germany and Europe. It was an era when the American ideal of pursuing happiness was combined with new global responsibilities aimed towards building greater and better post-WWII societies.
The German and Japanese sort of “it-can’t-be-helped” spirit and attitude, called “Shoganai’ (in Japanese) was historically considered fairly anti-American.
America was seen as the land of possibilities and if one worked hard enough—or so the legend went—one could obtain one’s place under the sun. In other words, you could realize your American Dream! (“Yes, you can!” we were told encouragingly.) These optimistic ideas were embedded in us and our fore bares starting in the late 18th and ethe 19th centuries. Moreover, rail agents and other Americans marketed the USA as the Land of Unlimited Opportunities (the USA). That is, America was marketed in Europe and East Asia as the place where restrictions and traditions of the old continents (and their ethnic or familial) strife were to be left behind.

“The term [American Dream] was first used by James Truslow Adams in his book The Epic of America which was written in 1931.” In it Adams stated: “The American Dream is ‘that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.’”
This image of America was relatively long lasting. When I worked in Germany in the 1980s, the USA was still called, “Das Land der unbegrenzten Moeglichkeiten”—The Country of Unlimited Possibilities. That was the American self-image that people of my generation still had nailed into our brains—even though we had lessened our chances by slowly giving up on many of our forefather’s dreams of building a Great Society by the end of the early to mid-1970s.
I should note as well that the American “We Can Do” attitude was world famous long before Barack Obama campaigned with the phrase “Yes, We Can.”
Officially, in our homes, in our governments, and even in the military, we had higher expectations of ourselves and others than many in other lands around the globe. This is why at the end of WWII, our politicians and our military personnel in Europe sought to build a New World order, whereby government leaders and military personnel were to be held responsible for what they chose to do—“I didn’t know.”
Or “I was just following orders.”
Or “It couldn’t be helped.” were expected to be phrases of the past—to be considered fascist and dishonorable, too.
First, we established the Nuremburg Tribunal with our Allies and carried out trials before the world court of public opinions for over three years. At that time, American leadership worked with our Allies to set down key principles concerning (1) all of our life choices and (2) our related responsibilities before the UN and towards the other citizens of the World:
Principle I
Any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefore and liable to punishment.
Principle II
The fact that internal law does not impose a penalty for an act which constitutes a crime under international law does not relieve the person who committed the act from responsibility under international law.
Principle III
The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible Government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law.
Principle IV
The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.
Principle V
Any person charged with a crime under international law has the right to a fair trial on the facts and law.
Principle Vl
The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under; international law:
a. Crimes against peace:
i. Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances;
ii. Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).
b. War crimes:
Violations of the laws or customs of war which include, but are not limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave-labor or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or ill treatment of prisoners of war, of persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity.
c. Crimes against humanity:
Murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation and other inhuman acts done against any civilian population, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds, when such acts are done or such persecutions are carried on in execution of or in connection with any crime against peace or any war crime.
Principle VII
Complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity as set forth in Principles VI is a crime under international law.
Next, we and our Allies pushed for and created “the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
Finally, we promoted the application of the Geneva Convention in handling soldiers, prisoners, non-combatants, and U-Name-it!
“The Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols are at the core of international humanitarian law, the body of international law that regulates the conduct of armed conflict and seeks to limit its effects. They specifically protect people who are not taking part in the hostilities (civilians, health workers and aid workers) and those who are no longer participating in the hostilities, such as wounded, sick and shipwrecked soldiers and prisoners of war. The Conventions and their Protocols call for measures to be taken to prevent or put an end to all breaches. They contain stringent rules to deal with what are known as ‘grave breaches’. Those responsible for grave breaches must be sought, tried or extradited, whatever nationality they may hold.”
If these Geneva Convention rules were applied in America’s war on terror in 2011, we could say that America still has a We-Can-Do attitude. However, we don’t apply such principles—we (through our inability to control leaders) are forfeiting our can-do tradition. Something has been lost since the 1940s and 1950s.
First, we told Germans and their allies at that time: “No, excuses. “ You always have choices you can make! You have responsibilities.
If such rules and practices were followed in the USA and elsewhere certainly Great Societies could be peaceful nations that they are supposed to be in the Atomic age, i.e. when wars have become deadlier and more potentially deadly than ever. Only such peaceful-oriented nations can enable their citizens to reach their dreams—such as to pursue happiness, as called for in our Declaration of Independence.


The key, America, is that one cannot fall back on the excuses, like “It couldn’t be helped.”
Or “I didn’t break any of my own country’s official laws and practices when I butchered , experimented on or tortured others. Admittedly, in war, atrocities are made but each individual is to be held accountable for doing the right thing, too. American military code has even said so—at the latest since the aftermath of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam.
Moreover, each citizen and each official is (before the world community and as a peaceful citizen) to show responsibility to the nation to stop our own nation(s) from butchering, experimenting on or tortured others. State officials were called on to be whistleblowers.
Soldiers universally have been told to follow the Geneva convention—not only their commanders orders. Likewise, clandestine government agencies were also finally officially placed under the oversight of two branches of governments (following the Church Committees recommendations ) in the 1970s.


However, with the election of an ex-CIA chief. George Herbert Walker Bush, as the Vice-President of the USA in 1980s, oversight of the military and the security agencies began to go into decline once again.
Moreover, President Ronald Reagan (also elected in 1980) decided to ignore the international courts, especially, in the case of illegally mining the harbors of the coast of Nicaragua in the early 1980s.

Since that time, most USA officials have no longer felt accountable to international law—and too many lawyers, justices, and soldiers advising the president and congress have also scorned the responsibilities and principles outlined in the Nuremburg Tribunal, the Geneva Convention, and the Declaration of Human Rights. (All of these rights and principles were intended to promote the common good and enable individuals to pursue whatever their ideas of happiness are.)
In short, the Malaise that Americans in the 21st Century face is that they now live in a society which no longer actively and spiritually takes seriously the Founding Father’s calls to pursue happiness. Such pursuit of happiness came with responsibilities –even in the 18th century. This is why Jefferson helped kick John Adams out of Office in 1800, i.e. because of John Adam’s support for the evil Alien and Sedition Acts.

Meanwhile, the large standing USA army and the world’s largest clandestine network of agencies has led many average (non-politician/ non-government employed) Americans to either throw away or to give up on the principles outlined in the Nuremburg Tribunal, the Geneva Convention, and the Declaration of Human Rights.
In short, a nation full of irresponsible people are walking around shrugging their shoulders—and mumbling “it can’t be helped”. This is just like the Japanese–or the Germans of decades ago who followed Hitler and the Kaisar to war.
These helpless ones (they see themselves as victims of the system) simply accept and use phrases like “collateral damage”, “acceptable levels of collateral damage” and other nonsense that means basically:
(1) We can’t help it if we have to torture someone
(2) We can’t help it if we have to send people without criminal charges to Guantanamo Prison or other prisons indefinitely.
(3) We can’t help it if the terrorists force us into this corner.
(4) We can’t help cutting assistance to the poor and the aging because big money and big business really run the U.S.A.
(5) We can’t help it. The system is broken and someone else will have to fix it. We can’t.
This is what American officials—whether in government, the CIA/NSA, or in the DOD—all too often tell us.
It is what Vice President Cheney told us. It is what President George W. Bush told us.
It is what Clinton said when he negotiated large welfare cuts. It is what Obama is saying when he continues following George W. Bush and his same military officials into quagmire after quagmire.
It is what the Homeland Security is saying, “We can’t help it.” Or “It just can’t be helped.”


We need to grab the bull by the horns, Americans—and stop putting off or sloughing off our opportunities to make right choices and to build a great society—not leaving our American Dreams to Wall Street, the Koch Brothers, and Too-Big-To-Fail Corporate nonsense.
We need to quit once and for all this dominating tendency of “shrugging our shoulders” and saying. “It can’t be helped.”
We didn’t accept such excuses or such a way of thinking concerning either the 1930s-1940s Germans or the 1930s-1940s Japanese. We held many of these irresponsible world citizens responsible and also cut up many of the fascist economic combines and oligopolies that helped run those countries. (We need to be prepared to do this same trust-busting again in America, now.)
Stop with this foreign “shoganai” (or “It can’t be helped”) attitude and become a land of possibilities and a Great Society—again(i.e. —if we ever were one?).
Many peoples around the world are watching and praying that America and Americans get their dreams and their sense of responsibility for their destinies back—and the sooner the better!

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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Orlando's Mayor is out to Label and Mis-label volunteers and other peoples as terrorists--TALK ABOUT WORD CREEP!!

I have thrice stayed as a tourist in Orlando. All visitors need to get the Mayor to stop misusing the word, "Terrorist". --KAS

JUAN GONZALEZ: The City of Orlando, Florida, the home of Disney World, is being sued in court today over a city law that has effectively made it illegal for the group Food Not Bombs to serve free meals to the poor and homeless. Over the past month, more than 20 members of the organization have been arrested. Keith McHenry, who helped found Food Not Bombs over 30 years ago, was arrested Wednesday and remains in jail.

The City of Orlando recently began enforcing a law that makes it illegal for any group to feed more than 25 people at a time in downtown parks without a permit. It also limits groups to no more than two permits per park, per year.

AMY GOODMAN: Food Not Bombs members have openly resisted the law by continuing to feed the homeless and poor without a permit.

Joining us from Orlando is Benjamin Markeson, who has been involved with Food Not Bombs in Orlando for years. He was arrested earlier this month. Also with us is Shayan Elahi, an attorney for Food Not Bombs.

Can you lay out the lawsuit that you are filing today, Shayan?

SHAYAN ELAHI: Well, Amy, this morning I’m filing an injunction against the City of Orlando. Our goal is to basically have them follow an administrative order, signed by Judge Belvin Perry, which basically says that anyone who violates a municipal ordinance can be just given a notice of appearance instead of showing up or being arrested and hauled off to jail. That’s one component of it.

The second component, and a very essential one, is that this mayor has decided that he can actually suppress dissent by deleting a First Amendment exemption from the trespass warnings. So, you just mentioned—Juan just mentioned that Keith McHenry is in jail right now. He’s in jail because what this mayor did was he deleted a First Amendment exemption that was on the trespass warning, and so he was able to basically rearrest Keith and put him in jail without bond at this point. So I think it’s a very troubling development in this nearest struggle against Food Not Bombs, that he’s taking it very personally. So, I’m moving the court to stop him from doing so.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, Benjamin Markeson, the Mayor of Orlando has labeled you and others "food terrorists"?


JUAN GONZALEZ: Can you explain the Mayor’s logic, as best as you understand it, and what precisely were you doing when you got arrested?

BENJAMIN MARKESON: Well, I don’t know what the Mayor’s logic is. All I can say is that we think that it’s terrorism to arrest people for trying to share food with poor and hungry people in the community to meet a community need. And all we do is we come to the park and we share food with poor and hungry people. I don’t know how that qualifies as terrorism.

AMY GOODMAN: When you were arrested, what were you doing, Benjamin?

BENJAMIN MARKESON: Well, I wasn’t actually in the park. And that day, I hadn’t actually ladled out any food. I was on a sidewalk adjacent to the park.

AMY GOODMAN: And what happened?

BENJAMIN MARKESON: The police came up and arrested me and charged me under the City of Orlando’s Large Group Feedings Ordinance, the one that requires a permit.

AMY GOODMAN: And the significance of Keith McHenry being arrested? Keith, who comes from the Bay Area, founded Food Not Bombs 30 years ago—


AMY GOODMAN: —came down to Orlando. Is he still in jail?

BENJAMIN MARKESON: Yes, he is. He may be there until July 5th, when he has his first appearance on his food sharing arrest.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And precisely what argument was used when this ordinance was passed?

BENJAMIN MARKESON: Well, they were contending that the food sharings caused problems with cleanup, and I think they also were concerned—I think their basic logic was that the food sharings cause problems with cleanup and attract too many people to the park. But we share in the Lake Eola Park picnic area, which is the area that was designated for food sharing and food consumption. And when we first started sharing at Lake Eola Park, we were in a different part of the park, and we cooperated with the city and the police and the park rangers by moving to the picnic area. And less than a year later, they pass this ordinance to essentially shut down all food sharings at Lake Eola.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, a case that is getting a tremendous amount of attention is the case of Casey Anthony. Shayan Elahi, this is happening in the same courthouse, your filing of the lawsuit, and it involves the same judge?

SHAYAN ELAHI: Well, it is happening in the same courthouse, and it involves the same judge in the sense that he’s the chief judge of the circuit. And he’s the one who signed that administrative order that I’m moving the court to enforce. So, basically, I don’t know if the case will land in front of him. We hope that it does. But he is a crucial part of this.

Amy, I would also point out that a lot of this battle that happened six years ago, when [inaudible] was coming through, was about gentrification of downtown. The downtown started to—the Mayor started the development board for downtown Orlando, and his whole goal was basically to push everybody who was, you know, the other, according to them, out who was not—you know, who didn’t fit their idea of who should be in downtown.

And we’re trying to point out to the Mayor that times have changed, that now everybody is hurting, and a lot more people who come to Food Not Bombs food sharing are working poor. And this mayor just doesn’t seem to understand that. By the way, I will add that I am filing—

AMY GOODMAN: Shayan Elahi, we’re going to have to wrap there, but I want to thank you for being with us, attorney for Orlando’s Food Not Bombs, and Benjamin Markeson, an activist with the group.


Fruit of the Loom, Hanes and Levi’s worked with the United States to block an increase in the minimum wage in the hemisphere’s poorest nation

Haiti: Leaked Cables Expose U.S. Suppression of Min. Wage, Election Doubts and Elite’s Private Army
Without a doubt, Wikileaks has shown that the USA and other nations are playing the full-court imperialist press in Haiti and the Carribean again.–KAS

Drawing on almost 2,000 classified U.S. diplomatic cables on Haiti released by WikiLeaks, a partnership between The Nation magazine and the Haitian weekly, Haïti Liberté, exposes new details on how Fruit of the Loom, Hanes and Levi’s worked with the United States to block an increase in the minimum wage in the hemisphere’s poorest nation, how business owners and members of the country’s elite used Haiti’s police force as their own private army after the 2004 U.S.-backed coup that ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and how the United States, the European Union and the United Nations supported Haiti’s recent presidential and parliamentary elections, despite concerns over the exclusion of Haiti’s largest opposition party, Lavalas, the party of Aristide. We speak with the reports’ authors, longtime Haiti correspondent Dan Coughlin and Haïti Liberté editor, Kim Ives. [includes rush transcript]

JUAN GONZALEZ: A new exposé on Haiti shows how business owners and members of the country’s elite used Haiti’s police force as their own private army, giving them guns and ammunition, after the 2004 U.S.-backed coup that ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. It’s part of a series of reports that draw from almost 2,000 U.S. diplomatic cables on Haiti released by WikiLeaks. The series is a partnership between The Nation magazine and the Haitian weekly newspaper, Haïti Liberté. The cables cover an almost seven-year period, from April 2003 to February 2010, just after the earthquake that devastated the capital of Port-au-Prince and surrounding cities.

AMY GOODMAN: Another recent exposé details how the United States, the European Union and the United Nations supported Haiti’s recent presidential and parliamentary elections despite concerns that the country had unfairly excluded Haiti’s largest opposition party, Lavalas, the party of Aristide.

And a third report in the series explains how contractors for Fruit of the Loom, Hanes and Levi’s worked with the U.S. embassy to aggressively block a minimum wage increase for Haitian assembly zone workers, the lowest-paid workers in the hemisphere, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere.

We’re joined now by the two the authors of these reports: veteran Haiti correspondent Dan Coughlin and Haïti Liberté editor Kim Ives. Dan covered Haiti for the Inter Press Service from the United Nations and Port-au-Prince between ’92 and ’96, currently executive director of Manhattan Neighborhood Network, MNN, and writes for The Nation magazine.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Kim, why don’t you start off just outlining the latest revelations that you’ve gotten from these WikiLeaks documents and what these documents are? They’re U.S. government cables.

KIM IVES: Yeah, well, the U.S. government cables are part of the 250,000 confidential and secret cables that WikiLeaks got from the diplomatic service, from the State Department. Essentially, since we were on last talking about PetroCaribe, we’ve had four major stories, which are that they were blocking the hiking of the minimum wage from a buck-seventy-five a day to $5. They wanted to $3, and that’s what they won, working with Haitian assembly industry owners.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Who was trying to raise the minimum wage?

KIM IVES: That was the people. There was a movement on the ground of students, workers and the general public, which wanted to see it go up.

AMY GOODMAN: And who was blocking?

KIM IVES: That was the assembly industry owners and the U.S., working with them. The two of them worked together to basically bring in Préval to stop it and set it down to three bucks a day. So, that was one. At the same time, they were going into an election, which was clearly flawed. They knew it. And they had a meeting, and they said, “OK, the”—

AMY GOODMAN: This is the U.S.?

KIM IVES: Yeah, the U.S., along with the E.U., U.N. and a numb er of other so-called friends of Haiti, sat down and said, “OK, we’re going to fund this election, even though we know from the start that it’s flawed.” And they had a meeting and said, “OK, we’re going to rubberstamp it and pay for it, even though we know it’s flawed,” and at the same time saying they were going to pay for the right-wing opposition, the National Endowment for Democracy-funded opposition, by buying them radio time and so forth.

We also had a story last week that was by Ansel Herz about the way the U.S. came in with their military right after the earthquake and, with no clearance from Préval, decided to bring in 22,000 troops. When the people needed doctors and engineers and so forth, here were soldiers patrolling the street and blocking the hospital, as we saw, Amy.

And finally, this week, we have the question of the bourgeoisie turning the police into their own private army.

DAN COUGHLIN: And what these cables show, Amy, is really remarkable. It’s like the curtain being pulled from behind the Wizard of Oz, a really inside look at what the U.S. policy is in Haiti, the materially poorest country in the Western hemisphere. So they’re blocking a preferential trade deal with Venezuela that means huge stability for the Haitian people, stable electricity supply, $100 million in extra funding for the government, which they use for social programs.

We see the manipulation, extraordinary manipulation, of Haiti’s presidential election, where, quote-unquote, the international community recognizes that the opposition is “emasculated.” So why are we bothering to have an election, if the most popular political party has been banned? And you see in these cables, the Canadians and others are like a little concerned. Hey, how are we going to have an election here? And literally, the head of the E.U. in Haiti—

AMY GOODMAN: European Union.

DAN COUGHLIN: —the head of the U.N., the head of—the Spanish ambassador, the Brazilian ambassador, the U.S. ambassador, at a meeting, at a table, discussing this. And finally, they decide, “Oh, we have too much invested in Haiti not to let these fraudulent elections move forward.”

AMY GOODMAN: It’s like the Republicans have the Democrats banned in the United States. You know, Democracy Now! went with Jean-Bertrand Aristide, returned with him from South Africa, where he was in exile for seven years, to Haiti. We were on the plane when he returned. At the airport, when we landed, he was greeted by thousands of supporters. He addressed the crowd in several languages. When he spoke in English, he said, “Exclusion is the problem. Inclusion is the solution”—not directly referencing his party, Fanmi Lavalas, which was excluded from the election, but when he addressed the Haitians in Creole, in their language, he was much more explicit.

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: [translated] You are right. If we don’t salvage our dignity, our dignity will be gone. Yes, you are right, because the problem is exclusion, and the solution is inclusion. The exclusion of Fanmi Lavalas is the exclusion of the majority. The exclusion of the majority means that you are cutting off exactly the branch that we are all sitting on. The problem is exclusion; the solution is inclusion of all Haitians without discrimination, because everybody is a person.

AMY GOODMAN: That was President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, March 18th, just a few months ago, on the tarmac at the airport in Port-au-Prince, addressing that his party, the main party, was excluded from the election. And you’re saying the documents show the U.S. said we’ve got—they recognized it was a massive problem, but they said they were going to push it through, the elections.

DAN COUGHLIN: Yeah, absolutely. Not only were they going to push it through, they were even considering then—they even discussed a plan to actually help some of the right-wing opposition parties to get on the air, to put them on the Haitian media, in order to try to, what they considered, balance the playing field, though in fact the largest political party would still be barred. But they were out there trying to actually intervene in the Haitian sovereign election process. And, of course, in the cables, it shows they don’t care. It’s not an issue for anybody that, oh, they’re intervening in a local election and on the side of some parties against the other. They’re just interested in pushing through their candidate.

KIM IVES: And that’s what really comes out in it, was that you see, for the Lavalas Family, they felt more that it would look bad. But for the other ones, they were really concerned that they fare well, that they had been emasculated, that they were somehow disadvantaged, even though they were the ones that got millions of dollars through the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute, these two tentacles of the NED that go into Haiti.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Dan, I’m wondering if you could be a little more specific in terms of this attempt to block the trade deal with Venezuela, specifically what the cables, some of them, said in terms of reporting—I guess they were reporting back to Washington what was going on?

DAN COUGHLIN: Yeah, and you could see that specific detail on’s website and on, as well. But what happened is, Chevron and Exxon Mobil, amongst other oil companies, in conjunction with the U.S. embassy, tried to block this deal by putting enormous pressure on President Préval to stop the oil from coming in and the deal with Chávez to happen. And in fact, when Préval visited President Bush in the White House, this was the main issue of conversation, was Haiti’s relationship with Venezuela, Haiti’s attempt to get energy independence. And so, you see how they maneuver, what strings they pull, how they’re constantly applying pressure on Haiti, whether it’s to keep the minimum wage low, to stop energy independence, to have their people win the election. And—

KIM IVES: We also see it in the case of the “gold rush”—that’s the words of Ambassador Kenneth Merten—that came after the earthquake.

AMY GOODMAN: The U.S. ambassador.

KIM IVES: The U.S. ambassador said there’s a gold rush right now, because the gold was all these billions of dollars going to Haiti, and our contractors, U.S. contractors, are going to get it. So you had people like General Wesley Clark going down and fronting for a company called InnoVida, which put up these apparently completely worthless foam core construction houses, supposedly donating thousands, and another company called AshBritt based out of Pompano Beach, which were all going down basically to get a part of the booty, this disaster capitalism run amok. So we see, you know, the U.S. basically rubbing their hands, along with these people.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk, Dan, about the U.S. corporations and the minimum wage. Name the corporations. And what were they doing with the United States?

DAN COUGHLIN: Well, Haiti was the original runaway shop back in the ’70s, when American companies, trying to flee U.S. workers, U.S. unions, moved to Haiti. If you remember, it was famous for baseball production back in the ’70s. So it’s always been an offshore, tax-free, low-wage, no worker—minimal worker rights, minimal environmental regulations in Haiti. It’s just a free trade zone. So it’s been developed like that intermittently over the last 40 years. But Haitians object to this, because they’re mistreated, poorly paid, and so there’s a lot of resistance to it.

But companies like Hanes, Fruit of the Loom, Levi Strauss, these are named in the cables, who use these contractors to make, manufacture undergarments, T-shirts, in Haiti itself as a very low-waged center, in fact the lowest-wage center in the hemisphere. And it’s acknowledged as such, the poorest-paid, the lowest-paid workers in the hemisphere. These assembly zone contractors, who have these contracts with Hanes and Fruit of the Loom, are putting enormous pressure, with the U.S. embassy, on the Haitian parliament not to increase the minimum wage, because they claim that this will devastate the industry. This is the same argument that they’ve used time and time again. But these are the poorest-paid workers in the hemisphere. They can hardly eat. I think a third of the population of Haiti requires some food assistance.

KIM IVES: And Amy, this bourgeoisie that is carrying this out is the same one that is behind the coups that are happening in Haiti, that backed the coup. We’re going to have a piece shortly showing, through the cables, exactly how much they were behind the coup. And they’re also the ones who are turning the Haitian police into a private army.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, I was going to ask about that.


JUAN GONZALEZ: You mention specifically Fritz Mevs, the son of one of the richest families in Haiti—

KIM IVES: Right.

JUAN GONZALEZ: —admitting, essentially, how they were supplying guns to the police force in exchange for them defending them.

KIM IVES: Yeah, essentially, what they had done, they had bought off one of the popular leaders of Cité Soleil, and he had actually been killed by, essentially, other groups in Cité Soleil who saw that he was a turncoat and defending the coup and defending the occupation and the bourgeoisie’s property. And so, when he was knocked out, the bourgeoisie panicked, and they said, “OK, we’re going to start to fund the police.” And the U.N. was useless, because—or not useless, but not as effective as Labaniere. And so, basically, they backed the police, and it went all the way ’til they carried out a tremendous massacre on July 6, 2005, where dozens of people were killed, including Dread Wilme, who had been the leader of this resistance in Cité Soleil to the coup and occupation.

AMY GOODMAN: Democracy Now! spoke with Haiti’s former first lady, Mildred Aristide, on March 18th, the historic day that the Aristides flew back from South Africa to Haiti. I spoke to her about her husband’s return to Haiti and why she thinks the U.S. tried to stop the trip.

MILDRED ARISTIDE: Everyone knows that it is a horrific situation that the country is living in now, and with the earthquake. And so, when they say they want Aristide present, to me, I see that as to be to accompany them in this process, as he accompanied them as a priest when he was a priest, as an educator when he was teaching, as president when he was president, and now as a citizen, as a former president, and as someone who will continue and will work on expanding the work of the foundation in that capacity. And, you know, to say that it’s the past is just really a crazy notion.

AMY GOODMAN: So, two U.S-backed coups, 1991 and 2004, and now the U.S.—well, President Obama calling President Zuma to say, “Do not fly the Aristides home to Haiti.”

MILDRED ARISTIDE: I think—again, I think it’s—it’s an inability, maybe, by the American political process to understand the kind of relation that Titide has with the Haitian people, and it doesn’t fit within the kind of policy frameworks that perhaps they have of—and so, it’s an unwillingness to see beyond that. I’ll attribute it to that. And, you know, in the meanwhile—

AMY GOODMAN: Explain a little more what you mean.

MILDRED ARISTIDE: Well, I think that—I think that the United States and a lot of those western European countries see politics a certain way, and I think that they have no right to impose that on other peoples.

AMY GOODMAN: That was the former first lady of Haiti, Mildred Aristide, as she was about to land for the first time President Aristide was returning to Haiti in seven years after he was ousted in a U.S.-backed coup, the second coup backed by the U.S. Dan?

DAN COUGHLIN: Well, she really understates the situation, because between 2004 and 2006, 3,000 people were killed. There was a bloody repression in Haiti during that period, with real issues at stake. And you see that in the cables time and time again, where the Haitian elite, for instance, you know, is putting huge pressure on the U.S. and the U.N. and the Haitian police to act in its interest to attack and to murder, to kill pro-Aristide, pro-democracy individuals in the poorest slum in the hemisphere.

And by “poor” I mean—you see the cables. What are the people fighting with in Cité Soleil? You know what they’re fighting with? It says fecal matter. They’re burning sewage to try to keep the U.N. out of Cité Soleil, to stop the shooting, the killing of themselves. These are people who are literally naked, who are hungry, who have no clothes. And they’re fighting the biggest armies in the world, just like they did 200 years ago. And when you talk to the people, they see it as part of that same struggle, against the Napoleonic armies, against the British Empire, against the Spanish Empire from 200 years ago. Now they’re fighting the Brazilian army, the eighth-largest army in the world. the U.S. Army, the U.N. occupation, to keep them poor. And this is the struggle that is happening. And Aristide did represent these poor people. And that’s why he had to be overthrown.

KIM IVES: I should also say that I just did a piece in The Guardian about—drawing on some letters that my grandfather had written from the Mexican embassy back in 1926, where he was saying—

AMY GOODMAN: Who was your grandfather doing there?

KIM IVES: He was actually a guest of the ambassador at the time. Sheffield was his name. And he was saying that we probably shouldn’t be forcing the Mexicans to take our industry and our investments; forcing it is going to bring great unhappiness. And yet—I compared it to this—now, here we are again, almost a century later, and we still have the U.S. forcing its agenda, its interests, on these countries, through these diplomatic intrigues that we see in WikiLeaks, or through economic sanctions, or through outright war.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And, of course, though, the earthquake there in Haiti had to be the most cataclysmic event in the history of the country, but the cables also show that there was a sense in U.S. government already that the country was prone to a major earthquake?

KIM IVES: Well, yes. On May 11th, 2005, there was a 4.3-level earthquake in Haiti, and it didn’t do much damage, but that was a warning to them, and they were aware. And they said, “Man, if there’s an earthquake here, it’s going to be the worst thing that could happen. Haiti is in no way prepared to deal with any catastrophe like that.” And they said, you know, “Let’s get preparations.” But nothing was done, clearly.

AMY GOODMAN: Democracy Now! was mentioned in the cables, Dan Coughlin?

DAN COUGHLIN: One cable, actually released previously through a FOIA request, a Freedom of Information Act request, by Professor [Keith] Yearman at the College of DuPage in Illinois, where I think, Amy, you did a piece, again, back in July of 2005, exactly about Cité Soleil and what the—and a U.N. massacre there, that we’re talking about.

KIM IVES: With Seth Donnelly.

DAN COUGHLIN: With a person from a labor delegation out of San Francisco, Seth Donnelly. And so, you actually accurately reported what was going on, and the embassy was alarmed by it and reported on Democracy Now! and other groups, saying, “Hey”—what they were upset about was that there wasn’t push back, PR push back, on Democracy Now! by the U.N.

KIM IVES: And that’s what—and that’s what Hillary Clinton was coming with when she was saying, “We have to get the narrative right.” And they were calling—and we see that in one of the cables after the militarization, calling around to embassies around the world to tell them to go after the editors, go after—if there’s anything, if it’s in Ecuador or if it’s in Doha or if it’s in Thailand, go and fight back against any negative portrayal of the U.S. deployment after the quake. So they want to make sure that they get the narrative right. And you got it wrong, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: The next installment?

DAN COUGHLIN: Well, there’s a lot—a lot to go through, obviously. WikiLeaks, in general, is going from country to country, releasing thousands of cables, extraordinary stories all around the world happening every day, and local, smaller countries around the world, like Haiti. And the work that Haïti Liberté has done is amazing, and they go into much more detail in their publication on these cables. But there’s going to be hundreds more released from the Haiti trove, including a special next week on the Haitian parliament and what’s happening with Haitian parliament.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we want to thank you very much for being with us, Dan Coughlin, executive director of Manhattan Neighborhood Network, and Kim Ives, who together are doing “WikiLeaks Haiti,” publishing them in Haïti Liberté and The Nation magazine.

And on the issue of WikiLeaks, for our international viewers and listeners and readers, especially those in Britain, I’ll be moderating a panel between Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, and the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek on July 2nd in the afternoon in London at the Troxy. And folks will be able to watch it on our website at And if you’re there, you can come on out, and you can be a part of that discussion. So just check out our website at

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I have written a lot about the fact that Taiwanese are way-up-in-the-air as to what their identity as a people and a nation should be. Here is another round of that in today's papers.--KAS

‘One China’ idea up for discussion: Ma

MUTUAL NON-DENIAL::The DPP said the ‘one China, two governments’ proposal ran counter to Ma’s 2008 pledge that he would not ‘discuss unification’ within his term

By Mo Yan-chih and Vincent Y. Chao / Staff Reporters

Sat, Jun 25, 2011 - Page 1 TAIPEI TIMES

The latest proposal that Taiwan and China function as separate governments within a “one China” framework could be up for discussion, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said, sparking concern within the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) about political negotiations across the Taiwan Strait.
In an interview with the Chinese-language Apple Daily published yesterday, Ma said a proposal made by Beijing’s Tsinghua University professor Chu Shulong (楚樹龍) in a recent paper to the Brookings Institution that Taiwan and China should be brought together as a single country, but with separate central governments, showed that his own “mutual non-denial” position on cross-strait relations had inspired more academics to think about cross-strait issues.
“I think mutual denial of each other’s sovereignty and mutual non-denial of respective jurisdictions would be more appropriate, but any proposal has its pros and cons, and I think it’s up for discussion,” Ma said.
The “mutual non-denial” policy proposed by Ma in 2007 implies that Taiwan does not deny China’s existence, but that it cannot recognize its sovereignty.
Presidential Office spokesman Fan Chiang Tai-chi (范姜泰基) said later yesterday that the “discussion” Ma mentioned in the interview referred to “academic discussions,” dismissing the DPP’s criticisms of Ma’s comments.
“We hope the DPP will stop distorting the president’s remarks and use its energy to work on a long-term framework for interaction between the two sides [of the Taiwan Strait] instead,” he said.
Fan Chiang said the Ma government has been promoting cross-strait relations using the principle of “one China, with a different interpretation on each side.”
Ma said in the interview that the “one China” in the proposed “one country, two central governments” solution should refer to the Republic of China (ROC).
Ma, seeking re-election in January’s presidential election, brushed aside concerns about the start of political negotiations between the two sides of the Strait if he were re-elected, saying the core issue of cross-strait relations, which is the sovereignty issue, would not be able to be solved in such a short time.
“There’s no pressure for political negotiations” from Beijing, Ma said. “They do not necessarily want to hurry the talks either.”
DPP spokesperson Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said the interview showed the president’s pro-China inclination and that it was cause for serious concern.
“I think that cross-strait interaction is an extremely difficult question that the president shouldn’t take it so lightly; it concerns the country’s sovereignty and it contains dangers. [The talk] about political discussions concern [whether Taiwan] is ready for unification with China,” Chen said.
Chen said Ma needed to break out of the “one China” mindset that the so-called “1992 consensus” had “locked Taiwan into.”
Chu’s proposal ran counter to Ma’s 2008 election promise that he would not “discuss unification” while president, Chen added.
Elsewhere in the Apple Daily interview, Ma challenged DPP Chairperson and presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) proposal to build a “feasible and viable” interaction framework with China if elected and lashed out at her cross-strait policies, saying they were “hollow and vague.”
“Tsai’s denial of the existence of the ‘1992 consensus’ shows that she cannot face reality and her comments on the so-called ‘feasible and viable interaction framework’ are empty talk,” Ma said.
Ma also challenged Tsai’s call for mutual understanding between the DPP and Beijing, saying it would be difficult for Tsai to carry out her promises because of her evasiveness when defining cross-strait policies.
In response to Ma’s criticism of Tsai, Chen said that instead of political attacks, the president should assess his own cross-strait policies and whether they have received popular support.
“Ma’s cross-strait policies revolve around a ‘one China’ framework. Instead, what the DPP is proposing is a framework that is open and can create lasting peace and stability,” Chen said. “As the 'one China' policy his only platform, we wonder how this kind of leader still has the nerve to criticize others?”
Published on Taipei Times :
Copyright © 1999-2011 The Taipei Times. All rights reserved.

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By Kevin Stoda, Taiwan

Today, at my junior high school, I discovered that some of my English students had just read about George. Washington, Carver. One teacher came over and asked me whether I knew him and Carver’s story and showed me the book used in the student’s class.

I nodded, “Yes, we studied him in 3rd, 4th and 5th grade when I was a child back in Missouri. Though, I think almost everyone knows of him–as he was one of the most famous [black] American inventors, teachers, and scientists of his era.”

“In fact,” I added, “George Washington Carver was born as a slave only about ten miles from where my mother and her siblings were born and raised in Jasper County, Missouri.”

I concluded, “Carver passed away in 1943, so he was still alive when my mother was born (in November 1941), i.e. on the Eve of WWII.”

Then I went to my computer and looked up George Washington Carver on the internet and came across a fantastic educational website, called GARDEN OF PRAISE.


In reviewing the website, GARDEN OF PRAISE, I learnt the following things about George Washington Carver, which either I didn’t learn in school–or too-many-years have passed for me to recall such details.

(1) “Thomas Edison offered him $100,000 a year to come and work for him, but he thought he could do more good at Tuskegee” Institute in Alabama.
(2) “Money, stylish clothes, and fine cars were not important to him. He thought the truly successful person was the one who had learned to serve others.”
(3) Carver “made his students work hard, and he insisted they do each experiment right. If they told him they had done something ‘about right’, he would say, ‘Don’t tell me it’s ‘about right’. If it’s ‘about right’, then it’s wrong.’” That’s why it is said of him till today: “He was one of the finest scientists the world has ever known.”

The GARDEN OF PRAISE site includes games, crosswords, tests—anything a teacher might want for their students, including a YouTube link to a video which reveals how George Washington Carver talked and thought about life, science, service, and education.

There are also many other good links on Carver on this website, such as the one to the Tuskegee Institute of Technology.

Moreover, on GARDEN OF PRAISE there nearly 100 biographies of inventors, politicians, leaders, scientists, artists and entertainers.

All the material is aimed at young children and comes with a variety of teacher and internet resources.

I recommend it highly to all educators and lovers of biographies.


With all the recent debates on Capitol Hill about federal spending, very little has focused on the real source of bloat: military spending

With all the recent debates on Capitol Hill about federal spending, very little has focused on the real source of bloat: military spending. This year’s budget request from the White House includes:
$113 billion “to continue to procure advanced weapons systems and other equipment to support both today’s wars and future conflicts”.
$76.7 billion for research and development for new military technologies.
$2.2 billion for National Nuclear Security Administration weapons activities to “enhance the reliability of the nation’s nuclear weapons complex”.

Dear Friend,

On March 1, we set an ambitious goal: raise the equivalent of one minute of the US military’s bloated budget – $2.1 million dollars. Due to a strong response from our generous donors, we need just $31,776 more to reach our goal.

Please help us raise One Minute for Peace, $2.1 million. Please give now. Your gift not only supports AFSC’s peace and justice work, it also makes a statement that people across the country want to fund vital human needs – not more war.

Each gift funds the AFSC’s work that shows that communities can effectively and creatively overcome violence, poverty, and oppression.

For instance,

Across the US, AFSC’s acclaimed “Windows and Mirrors” traveling art exhibit is bringing new light to the human cost of the war in Afghanistan.
In Haiti, AFSC is helping Haitians who are living in makeshift tent cities learn job skills building environmentally friendly lamps and water filters, so they can eventually afford a new home.
In Maine, AFSC staff won the first Truth and Reconciliation process for Native American tribes.
In West Timor, young people involved with AFSC have created a much publicized “peace torch,” a powerful symbol for religious tolerance in a time when Indonesia is seeing an increase in Muslim-Christian violence.
These are a few examples of our work, all of which we think are more valuable than our government’s current spending priority – war and militarism. Please help us fund this work and help us reach our goal by making a safe and easy web donation today.

Thank you for your support,

Your friends at AFSC

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Climate Change increases Potency of Poison Ivy–while Deniers itch

Climate Change increases Potency of Poison Ivy–while Deniers itch

Dear Kevin,

Imagine this situation: You’re stuck at the airport for who knows how long because your plane’s been grounded, you’re covered in the itchiest poison ivy you’ve ever had, and the airport bar is out of your favorite Cabernet.

What is going on?

Check out the new UCS Climate Hot Map. Travel the world to learn where global warming is already having an impact and you could win a trip for two to help find answers to the challenges of climate change in the Rio Cachoeira Natural Reserve in Brazil!

This is climate change. Many people don’t realize it, but global warming is already affecting our lives and it’s causing trouble in surprising places—like in North Carolina where climate change has caused poison ivy to become more potent.

And unfortunately, itchy, thirsty, and impatient are only the beginning—there are dozens of ways global warming is already affecting the world and could be affecting you!

Today, the Union of Concerned Scientists introduces a new, interactive way to learn about the local consequences of global warming and the solutions available to meet the climate challenge. The Climate Hot Map allows you to travel the world and explore the places (or “hot spots”) where scientists have gathered evidence of climate changes that are already under way.

Check out some of the highlights from the Climate Hot Map by taking our Climate Hot Map Scavenger Hunt today. By joining the hunt for hot spots, you’ll be entered to win our grand prize: an Earthwatch Institute trip for two to assess the impacts of climate change on the Rio Cachoeira Natural Reserve in Brazil! You’ll get additional entries for every correct Hot Spot you identify and for sharing the Climate Hot Map Scavenger Hunt with friends and family members. Five runners-up will receive a Solio Mono Hybrid Solar Charger—great for traveling or at home to charge your cell phone or MP3 player using the power of the sun.

So what are you waiting for? Travel the world, win cool prizes, learn about the local impacts of global warming today, and find out what communities around the world are doing to reduce global warming emissions. Start the Scavenger Hunt now.


Brenda Ekwurzel, Ph.D.
Climate Scientist


Clarence Thomas–needs to resign–and America needs to have higher standards for all leaders and officials

I have been swamped by emails, blogs, and campaigns demanding the Clarence Thomas resign or be put in jail, etc. We needed the same last decade for most folks on the Bush-Cheney Mafia that mis-ran the antion for 8 years. Now, we have another president enforcing the same Bush-Cheny shenanigans. American needs to demand and recieve better–as of yesterday.

The Clarence Thomas Scandal

By Ian Millhiser

In 1969, Justice Abe Fortas resigned in disgrace after the nation learned that he had accepted tens of thousands of dollars worth of gifts from corporate executives and other wealthy benefactors. Forty years later, Justice Clarence Thomas is caught in a strikingly similar scandal. Similarly to Fortas, Thomas has a wealthy benefactor named Harlan Crow who has shown lavish generosity to Thomas and his Tea Partying wife Ginni. And where Fortas had an ad hoc group of corporate executives to subsidize his lifestyle, Thomas seems to have the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) — a corporate-aligned think tank that once gave him a $15,000 gift. We find it difficult to find daylight between Thomas’ actions and the gifting scandal that forced Abe Fortas off the bench.

LAVISH GIFTS: Like Fortas before him, Thomas received tens of thousands of dollars worth of gifts from wealthy benefactors — some of whom have an interest in cases before his court. Crow gave Thomas a $19,000 Bible that belonged to Frederick Douglass. He provided Thomas’ wife with half a million dollars to start a Tea Party group, and he donated over $1 million dollars to fund a museum that will include exhibits honoring Justice Thomas. Crow has a long history of investing in conservative political causes — he’s donated nearly $5 million to Republican candidates and conservative organizations, including $100,000 to the anti-John Kerry Swift Boat Veterans for Truth — but he isn’t even the most troubling entity to rain gifts upon Clarence Thomas. That honor goes to AEI, which gifted Thomas with a $15,000 bust of Abraham Lincoln even though AEI frequently files briefs in Thomas’ Court. Thomas has not recused himself from cases in which AEI participated.

SCANDALS UPON SCANDALS: If Thomas’ addiction to high dollar favors were his only problem, that would be deeply disturbing. But this is just one of many scandals facing the justice. Justice Thomas attended a Koch-sponsored political fundraiser intended to fund the conservative infrastructure of front groups, political campaigns, think tanks, and media outlets, an act that would likely violate his ethical obligation not to engage in fundraising if the Supreme Court were not exempt from the Code of Conduct for U.S. judges. Thomas claimed that his wife Ginni — a lobbyist and high-earning member of the professional right — earned no non-investment income whatsoever while she was working at the right-wing Heritage Foundation, despite having a legal obligation to disclose her income on his annual disclosure form. After Thomas’ failure to disclose this income was widely reported by the press, Thomas amended his disclosure forms to include Ginni’s income. And the fact that his wife is now working as a Tea Party lobbyist could raise recusal issues for Justice Thomas. Ginni Thomas has a right to do whatever she wants for a living, but if the Thomas family earned one dime to lobby in favor of repealing health reform, it would be a serious conflict of interest for Thomas to sit on a case that could make that repeal a reality.

THEIR MAN ON THE COURT: The rich and the powerful have been good to Justice Thomas, but Thomas has been extremely good to them. Thomas didn’t just join the infamous Citizens United decision opening up the flood gates to corporate money in elections, he also would have struck down essential transparency laws that allow Americans to know who is buying their democracy. Thomas stood behind decisions eviscerating consumer rights and the rights of workers in the workplace, and he embraces a vision of the Constitution that is nothing shy of terrifying. In three separate opinions, conservative Thomas called for a return to a discredited theory of the Constitution that early 20th century justices used to declare federal child labor laws unconstitutional. So Thomas has little regard for the Constitution and even less for precedent — perhaps that explains why he has thumbed his nose at the Fortas precedent and entangled himself so tightly with his wealthy and influential benefactors.

Evening Brief: Important Stories That You May Have Missed
The natural gas industry has developed the coloring book “Talisman Terry’s Energy Adventure,” starring the “friendly fracosaurus,” a smiling dinosaur who glosses over environmental concerns and promotes the message that fracking is smart.

Several taxi companies and more than 2,000 cab drivers have filed a lawsuit against Georgia’s new immigration law, arguing that the provision that prevents anyone from transporting an undocumented immigrant would burden them with the responsibility of checking the immigration status of each and every one of their passengers.

The State Department warns that if you try to sail to Gaza, Israel may try to kill you.

Former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt now opposes IPAB, even though he once government intervention in the health sector that would have gone further when it comes to health care costs.

NBC has “rewarded” Donald Trump with a hefty paycheck: $65 million a year over two years, “a sum that’s apparently a ‘substantial increase.’”

An undocumented immigrant came forward today with his true identity, not in a police round-up, but on the front page of The New York Times Magazine. Jose Vargas, a Pultizer-Prize-winning journalist who has written for The Huffington Post, The New Yorker and The Washington Post, reports here on his own journey from a childhood in the Bay Area to his successful career to the moment he decided to go public.

The economy has not lived up to growth predictions for June, leading the Federal Reserve into “a zone of inaction” in which it proposes a cautious economic plan and most likely will stay clear of future bond-buying schemes.

Good news for Rep. Michele Bachmann: The double-bind predicament that then-presidential-candidate Hillary Clinton reportedly suffered from in 2008 may no longer be an issue for strong women in the media, according to a new study. Instead, women portrayed as tough seem to benefit in much the same way that tough men do with regards to public opinion.

And Stephen Colbert unveils who he thinks is the GOP’s best candidate: the stick figure from road signs.


Girls and boys in overcrowded refugee camps in Liberia need your help today

Dear Friend,
Donate now to help refugee children in Liberia. A young boy from the Ivory Coast is running as fast as he can. He’s not racing his friends in the schoolyard – he’s escaping from the men who killed his neighbors.

He ran from the gunshots into the dense jungle, where he survived for weeks while separated from his family, searching for safety.

When he finally crossed the border into Liberia, he found he was one of thousands who have fled from the violence and are desperately seeking food, clean water, and a safe place to sleep.

You can help Plan’s field staff make sure these girls and boys get the basics they need to survive.

Donate today and help provide safety and support for refugee children in Liberia who have lost everything.
Making it to the refugee camps in Liberia was just the beginning for these girls and boys. Some have been separated from their parents. Many are unable to find food or clean water, and spend their days hungry and looking for help in communities that are stretched to the breaking point. Lacking shelter, they sleep outside on the ground.

Plan’s emergency response teams are working day and night in communities, focusing our efforts on child refugees and pregnant women through our education and protection programs. By sending help to the field now, you will assist with our ongoing efforts to:

Protect children from abuse. Through the creation of child-friendly spaces, Plan is helping reduce the risk of child abuse and exploitation.
Reduce trauma. Through our education and recreation programs, Plan is working to protect and promote the wellbeing of 4,200 refugee children who have witnessed violence.
Train caregivers. Over 45 early childhood care and development workers have been trained so far to help facilitate child nutrition, protection, and education programs.
Right now, 7,000 refugee children in Liberia are benefiting from Plan’s support. Help us reach more girls and boys in Liberia by making a gift today.


Scott Schroeder
Vice President
Plan International USA

If you are a current sponsor or donor please use your sponsor/donor number when making your donation:


Greenwald reveals Koch Brothers(from Kansas) do not only manipulate Kansas Politicians to a tune of near 27 Million a year!

Original Content at–by-Robert-Greenwald-110622-202.html
Inside the Koch Brothers’ Expensive Echo Chamber

By Robert Greenwald

Documents and interviews unearthed in recent months by Brave New Foundation researchers illustrate a $28.4 million Koch business that has manufactured 297 commentaries, 200 reports, 56 studies and six books distorting Social Security’s effectiveness and purpose.

Together, the publications reveal a vast cottage industry comprised of Koch brothers’ spokespeople, front groups, think tanks, academics and elected officials, which have built a self-sustaining echo chamber to transform fringe ideas into popular mainstream public policy arguments.

The Koch brothers’ echo chamber has successfully written the messaging for the AARP, a traditional defender of Social Security for all generations, which recently opened the door to cutting benefits.

The Koch echo chamber begins with think tanks like the Cato Institute, Heritage Foundation and Mercatus Center at George Mason University and the Reason Foundation, which owe their founding and achievements to Koch backing. These think tanks take their $28.4 million in Koch funding and produce hundreds of position papers distorting the long-term health of Social Security.

The authors of these hundreds of self-described policy studies, newsletters, commentaries and books are then paraded through television, print and online news media. Their distorted message is amplified through shows like Hannity, with its 3.3 million viewers per episode, or CNBC’s Kudlow Report and its roughly 300,000 viewers per episode night after night after night.

Eventually, elected officials react to the Koch echo chamber and typically shift their position for reelection or the next campaign.

The investigation revealed Koch-supported policy fixes, and specific language repeated across each document, such as raising the retirement age or eliminating cost of living adjustments for Social Security dependents and beneficiaries.

These Koch ideas percolate through the echo chamber and into the mainstream. The frequency and repetition of the arguments supplant more popular policy recommendations like scrapping the Social Security tax cap, which would free individuals earning more than $106,800 annually to pay taxes on all of their wages, like everyone else.

“The Koch brothers job is to do everything they can to dismember government in general,” Sen. Bernie Sanders says in this video. “If you can destroy Social Security, you will have gone a long way forward in that effort.”

The Koch echo chamber has been so effective that AARP, a traditional advocate and defender of Social Security, has repositioned its policy to open the door to cut Social Security benefits for dependents and beneficiaries.

Counter the Koch billions and protect social security. Create an echo chamber of truth and share this video with your friends and family.

The echo chamber, coupled with AARP’s shift toward cutting Social Security, pushes the argument further toward the Koch brothers’ goals. Influential opinion-shapers in venerable news outlets will react and have already begun to referee disputes on new ‘middle ground’ that has, over time and through the actions of AARP and the Koch echo chamber, grown tolerant of the Koch brothers’ talking points.

“The Koch brothers fund organizations, and you have economists and political scientists working there and they are very, very good at getting on television,” Sanders said. “They are very effective in getting their positions out into the media.”

That’s further personified by the Koch brothers’ lobbying. Koch Industries spent $857,000 on lobbyists in 2004, one year before George W. Bush tried and failed to privatize Social Security. They also donated $104,660 to his campaign. The attacks on Social Security needed more time to stew in the echo chamber before they could be mainstream, and given the increase in lobbyists, they have risen dramatically. AARP’s shift is more proof of the Kochs’ achievements.

In the first two years of the Obama administration, the brothers have spent $20 million on lobbying, according to the Center for Public Integrity. And they’ve diversified their donations to a slew of Republican opinion leaders and strategic Democrats who oppose revenue increases like Sen. Ben Nelson and Gov. Andrew Cuomo. And, with AARP’s action, the Koch echo chamber has broken ground on a new political terrain favorable to their ideological and financial goals.

Almost overnight, a historic and popular service, like Social Security, faces extinction. But behind this outcome, the Koch echo chamber has been churning for years.

Author’s Website:

Author’s Bio: Robert Greenwald is a producer, director and political activist; the founder and president of Brave New Films, a new media company that uses moving images to educate, influence, and empower viewers to take action around issues that matter. Under Greenwald’s direction, Brave New Films has produced a series of short political videos, including the Fox Attacks and Real McCain campaigns. One of the more notable Real McCain videos focused on McCain’s Mansions; after Brave New Films produced this video, McCain notoriously said he was not sure how many houses he owned and a media firestorm ensued. In total, Brave New Film’s short videos have been viewed over 45 million times in the past two years, inspired hundreds of thousands of people to take action and forced pressing issues into the mainstream media. Robert Greenwald’s Brave New Foundation is currently producing Rethink Afghanistan, a groundbreaking documentary being released online in real-time; the film features experts from Afghanistan, Pakistan and the U.S. discussing the United States’ flawed strategy in Afghanistan. In August of 2009, Brave New Films launched Sick for Profit, a campaign that focuses on the exorbitant amounts of money made by health insurance companies’ CEOs. Within one week, the campaign’s first video was viewed over 100,000 times. Recently, Brave New Films also launched Senator Sanders Unfiltered, a two-minute weekly show in which Senator Sanders shares his views on an array of critical issues for our country. In addition, Greenwald is the director/producer of several documentaries: “Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers” (2006), an expose of what happens when corporations go to war; as well as “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price” (2005), detailing the retail giant’s assault on families and American values; and “Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism” (2004), about the right-wing opinion factory known as Fox “News”. Millions of viewers have seen these films via grassroots “house parties” and independent online DVD sales, a groundbreaking method of alternative distribution. Greenwald also executive produced a trilogy of political documentaries: “Unprecedented: The 2000 Election” (2002); “Uncovered: The War on Iraq” (2003), which he also directed; and “Unconstitutional” (2004). Prior to his documentary work, Greenwald produced and/or directed more than 55 television movies, miniseries and feature films. Greenwald’s films have garnered 25 Emmy nominations, two Golden Globe nominations, the Peabody Award and the Robert Wood Johnson Award. He was awarded the 2002 Producer of the Year Award by the American Film Institute. He has been honored for his activism by the ACLU Foundation of Southern California; the Liberty Hill Foundation; the Los Angeles chapter of the National Lawyers Guild; Physicians for Social Responsibility; Consumer Attorney’s Association of Los Angeles; Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy and the Office of the Americas.


THE NEW BEST QUESTION OF THE CENTURY goes to Michael Collins: “Why Negative Job Growth for 11 Years?”

Michael Collins: Questions for The Money Party — Why Negative Job Growth for 11 Years?
By Michael Collins

The Money Party is a very small group of enterprises and individuals who control almost all of the money and power in the United States. They use their money and power to make more money and gain more power. It’s not about Republicans versus Democrats. The Money Party is an equal opportunity employer. It has no permanent friends or enemies, just permanent interests. Democrats are as welcome as Republicans to this party. It’s all good when you’re on the take and the take is legal. Economic Populist

Negative job growth for eleven years is the best evidence concerning our economic troubles. There were 135 million jobs in 2000 for a workforce of 144 million. Today, there are 139 million jobs for a workforce of 154 million. That represents negative job growth when you factor in population growth.

Job growth in this economy hit a dead calm in 2000 and is now moving backwards. If the issue isn’t raised, how can we address the phenomena?

What is the Money Party doing about Negative Job Growth?

The solutions offered by congressional Republicans are packed with their favorite programs (House and Senate versions). Unfortunately, their proposals don’t have much to do with increasing jobs.

The first recommendation calls for the federal government to “start living within [its] means.” How does that happen? Pass a constitutional amendment for a balanced budget and put the budget process in a “straight jacket” through fixed spending limits. We are told that this will “cut spending to immediately and substantially reduce deficits.” The Republicans fail to mention how many jobs will be created.

Their program makes rules on spending but, with one exception, it neglects to mention any specific programs that should be cut. Guess which program they mentioned? Their manifesto suggests that we must “control entitlement spending”, Social Security for example. How convenient. They cite the one program running a substantial surplus, the lifeline for seniors.

The Republican jobs program eliminates all those regulations they love to hate. Generating more jobs by eliminating regulations is laughable. Since 2001, rules and regulations for business (e.g., Wall Street) have been tossed overboard at a record pace. No new jobs were created during this period. The collapse of 2008 and the Great Recession that followed are the main effect of eliminating regulations.

It is no surprise that Republicans want big tax breaks corporations. Their corporate welfare proposals are the new “trickle down” economics. Just give the giant corporations one more round of tax breaks and, as if by magic, they will start creating jobs.

They propose a 10 point reduction in the current corporate tax rate (from the current 35% to 25%. They claim that it would produce 5.3 million jobs. That’s 053 million jobs for each point taxes are cut. If the Republican’s plan to collect the proposed 25% rate, that’s actually an eight point increase over the 17% rates those corporations actually pay right now. By their own logic, their proposal will cause 4.24 million jobs to disappear (8 point increase times.53 million jobs per point). Mission accomplished!

The Democrats job plan continues their sleepwalking through history. Keep in mind that the Democrats controlled Congress from 2008 to 2010. They did a lot for jobs on Wall Street but not much for the rest of us.

The Democratic stimulus plan of 2009 produced some jobs. Nearly a third of the $800 billion proposal went to tax cuts. The remaining $500 million offered a modest program at a time of great crisis.

Current proposals by the party offer programs that are a fraction of their 2009 stimulus package. They are hardly adequate. They say closing corporate tax loopholes, moving toward a green economy, and fixing infrastructure (on the cheap) will do the trick. Democrats are also fixated on balancing the budget. They had legislative control for four years, with concurrent presidential control for the last two of those years. They could not or would not create the conditions necessary for job growth.

Both parties go on ad nauseum about job training and make the compulsory references to community colleges as the key element. Community colleges are outstanding resources. They need more funding. But the notion that there is a skills gap between the employees and available jobs was totally debunked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A recent BLS revision of its new jobs data showed that all those new jobs simply don’t exist.

Neither party addresses the ravages of free trade. They talk about export growth but forget the reciprocal, friendly free trade deals plus the import of skilled professionals that end jobs here while creating them over there.

The Money Party has done nothing about negative job growth. The party’s Republican and Democratic factions won’t even mention that this has gone on for eleven years.

How About a Job Growth Program for People

What work will they do?

Fixing the nation’s infrastructure is an excellent place to start. The American Society of Civil Engineers did a report care on the nation’s infrastructure. They found bridges ready to collapse, buildings unfit for use, and public transportation in a sorry state to name a few of the $2 trillion worth of repairs the nation needs. That project would create jobs and have a multiplier effect on the economy through greater efficiencies and opportunities as a result of the repair work.

Stop shipping jobs overseas and people will keep the jobs they have. Give up on free trade for them and a royal screwing for us. Think of people first and corporate convenience, control, and CEO bonuses last.

Brad DeLong at UC Berkeley developed a model that estimates a 1.67% increase in gross domestic product (GDP) for each point reduction in unemployment. There are other models but let’s use this one.

Take the official Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) unemployment rate of 9.1% and the 2010 GDP of $14.66 trillion. Reduce unemployment by 6 points and GDP increases 10% to $16.1 trillion.

Better yet, let’s use a more accurate representation of the job situation. BLS publishes an alternative unemployment statistic, U-6 (p. 26), showing 16.1% unemployment. U-6 includes: “Total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force.

If we reduce U-6 from 16% to 6%, that would increase GDP to $17.1 trillion.

Why is sustained negative job growth the problem that can’t be mentioned?

Why won’t they address it specifically?

A Crisis of Imagination or Venality?

The Money Party is short on imagination. It won’t allow its minions, the servants of power, to think outside the box of the status quo. The party is a one trick pony.

The party is also short on compassion or even the most elementary forms of common decency. It’s OK to see millions of people evicted, jobless, without health care, etc., as long as short term profits are maintained for those CEO bonuses and other enrichment for a tiny minority. It’s perfectly acceptable for this to go on despite available solutions. If you don’t look, it’s not there should be their motto.

It’s time for The Money Party to go, all of them. Living under their tired, inhumane rule has become intolerable.


This article may be reproduced entirely or in part with attribution of authorship and a link to this article.

The Money Party RSS

Author’s Website:

Author’s Bio: Michael Collins is a writer in the DC area who researches and comments on the corruptions of the new millennium. His articles focus on the financial manipulations of The Money Party, the abuse of power by government, and features on elections and election fraud. His articles can be found athere. His website is The Money Party RSS



President Obama may claim he’s got to go slow in drawing down U.S. forces fighting in Afghanistan but what’s his excuse for keeping open 268 U.S. bases in Germany? Is he expecting an attack by the Red Army? There are folks living well on those 268 bases at public expense as well as the military contractors supplying them.–<

By Sherwood Ross



At first, I found it hard to believe that there were that many bases in Germany–but I reflected and realized that althhough some hundred bases were closed, reduced and consolidated in the 1990s, not all of them had been reduced or closed. (So, in the Cold War era there was likely about 400 bases or more.)

However, since the German economy is doing much better than the American one, the system makes little sense to put so much money and resources in America when American towns and cities need so much more help, with the record unemployment payouts needed over the past half-decade.

[Now, if Germany would allow the USA to be part of the European Union, perhaps this contracting stuff to Germans and others in Germany would make more sense financially or politically-economically. Then we could send our unemployed to Germnay for better benefits and have a competition to the Dearth of American welfare. Americas would then come home and demand higher standards once they had a taste of the sweet EU citizenship in Germany.]–KAS
Obama Talks Afghan Drawdown, But No Words About 865 Foreign Bases
By Sherwood Ross

President Obama may claim he’s got to go slow in drawing down U.S. forces fighting in Afghanistan but what’s his excuse for keeping open 268 U.S. bases in Germany? Is he expecting an attack by the Red Army? There are folks living well on those 268 bases at public expense as well as the military contractors supplying them.

No other nation begins to operate even a tiny fraction of the 865-plus bases the Pentagon runs overseas to, depending on your viewpoint, (a) protect America from dangerous potential enemies who are lurking everywhere, or (b) to dominate the rest of the world. And since 95% of all overseas bases located in somebody else’s country are operated by the USA, millions of people suspect (b) is the answer; indeed, foreigners fear Uncle Sam might subjugate them.

Should Americans care? Only if they don’t mind spending $140 billion a year. That’s what it’s costing them. The U.S. Conference of Mayors the other day voted to shift Pentagon spending of $126-billion a year from Middle East wars to our struggling cities. But we’d get an even bigger savings by removing the ring of steel with which the Pentagon has girdled the planet.

Global public opinion polls have revealed foreigners fear the United States more than they do “terrorists.” In some polls, even the much-reviled Osama bin Laden finished a poor second to former President George W. Bush as the world’s No. 1 devil.

In testimony before Congress on March 6, 2007, Steven Kull, head of the University of Maryland’s Program on International Policy Attitudes, said the opinions of the U.S. held by people around the world had plummeted to abysmal record lows. What’s more, the U.S. State Department’s own polls about that time confirmed this—saying that favorable views of the U.S. since 1999 plunged from 83% to 56% in the UK; from 78% to 37% in Germany; and from 75% to 30% in Indonesia—in good part due to America’s war on Iraq.

Kull told the Congress, “The U.S. military presence in the Middle East is exceedingly unpopular in virtually all countries. On average 69% believe the US military presence there ‘provokes more conflict than it prevents’ while just 16% see it as a stabilizing force.” Kull went on to testify, “In many countries around the world people express strong fears that the U.S. will use military force against them.”

As activist author David Swanson writes in “Daybreak,”( Seven Stories Press), “If we were to close our bases in other countries, we would still have 6,000 bases in the United States and its ‘territories.’ We could save perhaps $140 billion per year…” Swanson goes on to write many Americans are aware of “the anger generated by American military bases in places like Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iraq, and Afghanistan” but fewer Americans are aware “of the fury with which ordinary people resent our bases in places like Korea and Europe.”

He cites the Pacific island of Guam, “which we have treated as a colony since World War II, turning the majority of the nation’s land into a U.S. military base and denying its people independence or full citizenship rights.” He might have mentioned Okinawa as well, where the local populace overwhelmingly would love to kiss Uncle Sam goodbye. Swanson might also have cited the disgusting example of Diego Garcia, the Indian Ocean island where the U.S. forcibly deported all of its 2,000 residents and gassed their dogs rather than transport them. Once converted into a military base, the island made a dandy runway for warplanes headed to Iraq.

And by banning journalists, the U.S. Navy could perpetrate this crime with virtually no press coverage, said David Vine, an assistant professor of anthropology at American University and author of ” Island of Shame: the Secret History of the U.S. Military on Diego Garcia (Princeton University Press).” Vine said in a TV interview, “The Chagossians were put on a boat and taken to Mauritius and the Seychelles, 1,200 miles away, where they were left on the docks, with no money and no housing, to fend for themselves.” He added:

“They were promised jobs that never materialized. They had been living on an island with schools, hospitals, and full employment, sort of like a French coastal village, and they were consigned to a life of abject poverty in exile, unemployment, health problems, and were the poorest of the poor.”

Now for our quiz: do the gangster methods employed by the U.S. Navy on Diego Garcia sound as if (a) they were taken to protect Americans from attack by dangerous potential enemies? or (b) that the U.S. doesn’t give a damn who gets hurt when it’s out to attack a country in a war based on lies?

According to Swanson, the U.S. has 268 bases in Germany, 124 in Japan; 87 in South Korea; 83 in Italy; 45 in Britain; 21 in Portugal and 19 in Turkey. He’d like to see the U.S. bring home the half million troops and 100,000 civilian contractors employed to maintain them and convert them into useful facilities such as “green energy producers and schools.”

Now that the U.S. Conference of Mayors has voted to defund U.S. action in the Middle East maybe it will ask its members to urge President Obama to do as much to liberate the subjugated citizens of our occupied territories, Guam and Okinawa included, and bring our troops home from those military bases, saving U.S. taxpayers another bundle. #

(Sherwood Ross is a public relations consultant for good causes and also Director of the Anti-War News Service, operating out of Coral Gables, Fla. ).

Author’s Bio: Sherwood Ross worked as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News and contributed a regular “Workplace” column for Reuters. He has contributed to national magazines and hosted a talk show on WOL, Washington, D.C. In the Sixties he was active as public relations director for a major civil rights organization.

Original Content at


Why? Because Republicans aren’t willing to budge on ending tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires.

Kevin –

News just broke that Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor quit negotiating and walked out of critical budget talks with House Democratic Leaders and Vice President Biden.

Why? Because Republicans aren’t willing to budge on ending tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires.

Eric Cantor is willing to sabotage our economy just to provide more red meat to the Tea Party and protect Republicans and their secret anonymous Koch Brothers backed billionaire donors.

This is all part of a political stunt that they think will help them win in 2012. But we can fight back. We only have days left before the mid-year FEC reporting deadline to prove grassroots Democrats have the momentum to win in 2012.

Republicans are playing with fire. By walking away, Cantor showed Republicans are willing to risk economic disaster to protect taxpayer giveaways for Big Oil and more tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires.

The Republicans are so committed to protecting millionaires and billionaires that Speaker Boehner announced he’s personally pledging $1 million to our competitors in the House, the National Republican Congressional Committee.

We’re in a virtual dead heat for the year-to-date fundraising totals with House Republicans. So it’s absolutely critical Democrats show the media and our opponents that we are unified and have the grassroots strength to capture the Majority by the mid-year fundraising deadline.

Let’s prove we have what it takes — and show Eric Cantor that his stunt will cost House Republicans.
Robby MookDCCC Executive Director


MEDICAL CARE: Cooperation Instead of Competition–an article from Holland

Cooperation Instead of Competition–an article from Holland


Introduction: A national healthcare system can be managed by the government, independent market-driven providers, networks of managed care organizations, or a combination of the public–private partnership. While the benefits and limitations of government-managed care and market competition are well documented, little is known about the functioning of privately operated networks. In 2008, we investigated how the quality of care provided by these private networks is affected by unique characteristics and external influences.

Cooperation Instead of Competition1
Joost H.L. Vorst, Leiden University Medical Center2
Theo de Vries, Twente University3
Jacobijn Gussekloo, Leiden University Medical Center4

Methods: Over 1,000 managers and municipal administrators in eight regional healthcare networks in South Holland (a Dutch province; population 3.5 million) were surveyed.

Results: The overall survey response rate was 49%. We found that the fitness of a network depends on the tightness of the couplings between its elements and the interactions with its environment. Loose couplings in a simple environment and tight couplings in a complex environment result in positive outcomes. The opposite is true if internal constraints (tightness) do not match external complexity.

Fitness and regional outcome variability were measured by the quality of care provided by the networks. Correlations were found between quality and two independent variables: environmental complexity (

r=0.75, p=0.017) and strength of couplings (r=0.76, p=0.015). Together complexity and coupling tightness explain almost three-quarters of the quality of care variability (adjusted R square=0.74).

Conclusions: The authors propose that the knowledge of network mechanisms can guide interventions to improve care, as compared to government planning or free market competition.


Inleiding: een nationaal zorgsysteem kan georganiseerd worden door de overheid, onafhankelijke marktgedreven aanbieders, netwerken van zorgorganisaties, of een combinatie van publiek/private samenwerking. Terwijl de voordelen en beperkingen van door de overheid geplande zorg en marktwerking goed gedocumenteerd zijn, is er weinig bekend over het functioneren van privaat opererende netwerken. In 2008 hebben we onderzocht hoe de zorgkwaliteit, die deze netwerken leveren, door unieke eigenschappen en externe krachten beïnvloed wordt.

Methoden: Ruim 1.000 managers en locale beleidsambtenaren in acht regionale zorgnetwerken in Zuid-Holland (een Nederlandse provincie; 3,5 miljoen inwoners) werden bevraagd.

Resultaten: De respons was 49%. We vonden dat de geschiktheid van een netwerk afhankelijk was van de sterkte van de koppelingen tussen de netwerkelementen en de interactie met zijn omgeving. Losse koppelingen in een simpele omgeving en strakke koppelingen in een complexe omgeving hebben positieve uitkomsten tot resultaat. Het omgekeerde geldt als de (sterkte) van de interne verknooptheid niet in overeenstemming is met de omgevingscomplexiteit. Geschiktheid en variatie in de regionale outcome werden afgemeten aan de zorgkwaliteit die de netwerken leveren. Verbanden werden gevonden tussen de kwaliteit en twee onafhankelijke variabelen: omgevingscomplexiteit (r=0.75, p=0.017) en sterkte van de koppelingen (r=0.76, p=0.015). Samen verklaren complexiteit en sterkte van de koppelingen bijna driekwart van de variatie in zorgkwaliteit (adjusted R square=0.74).

Conclusies: De auteurs stellen dat kennis van netwerkmechanismen beter de interventies om de zorg te verbeteren kunnen leiden dan overheidsplanning of marktconcurrentie.

Recommended Citation
Vorst, Joost H.L.; de Vries, Theo; and Gussekloo, Jacobijn (2011) “Cooperation Instead of Competition,” World Medical & Health Policy: Vol. 3: Iss. 2, Article 7.
DOI: 10.2202/1948-4682.1150
Available at:


Dear Joplin Globe, I am happy to see that US troops are starting to move out of

Jun 23, 2011

The Joplin Globe/Joplin Herald
117 East 4th Street
PO Box 7
Joplin, Missouri 64801-2302

Dear The Joplin Globe/Joplin Herald,

I am happy to see that US troops are starting to move out of
Afghanistan, but the pace is too slow.

Nine years after the 2001 invasion there are 250,000 foreign forces in
Afghanistan. 100,000 US troops, 50,000 NATO troops and 100,000
Pentagon paid contractors. It is a high water mark that should never
be approached again.
Last year Afghanistan experienced the largest number of civilian
casualties since the war began.
As long as US policy is to destroy the Taliban opposition and insurgent
forces, many Afghans will resist what they understand to be a foreign

I believe we need a new vision that starts with a cease-fire, includes
clear US participation in a broad based peace-process, and encourages
disarming militia forces (after we leave). For us it means removing our
military forces; for Afghans it means an innovative reconciliation

In addtion, I wish to note tht I have had family members, cousins,
aunts uncles, second cousins, in-laws, second in-laws serving in
most every war for the lst 150 years. Americans are overburdoned and
under-employed and underserviced by our governments as it is.

Finally, we could certainly use our people lives and our natural and
human resources 100,000% better than we have been doing for the past

Mr. Kevin Stoda
902 Pennell St
Carl Junction, MO 64834
(417) 649-4110

Kevin –

If you missed it last night, you should take a few minutes to watch President Obama’s address to the nation about our policy in Afghanistan:

The President’s address marks a major turning point in a nearly decade-long conflict. He announced his plan to start withdrawing our troops from Afghanistan next month, fulfilling a promise he made a year and a half ago to begin the drawdown this summer.

To put it simply: when this president took office, there were 180,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, the combat mission in Iraq has ended, Afghanistan will be fully responsible for its own security by 2014, and there will be fewer than 100,000 American troops in the two countries by the end of this year.

As President Obama decisively concludes two long-running wars, he is refocusing our foreign policy to more effectively address the threats we face and strengthen America’s leadership in the world as we do.

I’m writing to you because this transformation has already begun to reshape the policy debate — foreign and domestic — in the 2012 election. As the President said last night: “It is time to focus on nation building here at home.”

The outcome of this debate will have consequences for all of us, so it’s important that you understand the policy and help inform the conversation.

You can read the President’s remarks below, or watch the address on the White House website here:



Jim Messina
Campaign Manager
Obama for America


June 22, 2011
8:01 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. Nearly 10 years ago, America suffered the worst attack on our shores since Pearl Harbor. This mass murder was planned by Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network in Afghanistan, and signaled a new threat to our security — one in which the targets were no longer soldiers on a battlefield, but innocent men, women and children going about their daily lives.

In the days that followed, our nation was united as we struck at al Qaeda and routed the Taliban in Afghanistan. Then, our focus shifted. A second war was launched in Iraq, and we spent enormous blood and treasure to support a new government there. By the time I took office, the war in Afghanistan had entered its seventh year. But al Qaeda’s leaders had escaped into Pakistan and were plotting new attacks, while the Taliban had regrouped and gone on the offensive. Without a new strategy and decisive action, our military commanders warned that we could face a resurgent al Qaeda and a Taliban taking over large parts of Afghanistan.

For this reason, in one of the most difficult decisions that I’ve made as President, I ordered an additional 30,000 American troops into Afghanistan. When I announced this surge at West Point, we set clear objectives: to refocus on al Qaeda, to reverse the Taliban’s momentum, and train Afghan security forces to defend their own country. I also made it clear that our commitment would not be open-ended, and that we would begin to draw down our forces this July.

Tonight, I can tell you that we are fulfilling that commitment. Thanks to our extraordinary men and women in uniform, our civilian personnel, and our many coalition partners, we are meeting our goals. As a result, starting next month, we will be able to remove 10,000 of our troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year, and we will bring home a total of 33,000 troops by next summer, fully recovering the surge I announced at West Point. After this initial reduction, our troops will continue coming home at a steady pace as Afghan security forces move into the lead. Our mission will change from combat to support. By 2014, this process of transition will be complete, and the Afghan people will be responsible for their own security.

We’re starting this drawdown from a position of strength. Al Qaeda is under more pressure than at any time since 9/11. Together with the Pakistanis, we have taken out more than half of al Qaeda’s leadership. And thanks to our intelligence professionals and Special Forces, we killed Osama bin Laden, the only leader that al Qaeda had ever known. This was a victory for all who have served since 9/11. One soldier summed it up well. “The message,” he said, “is we don’t forget. You will be held accountable, no matter how long it takes.”

The information that we recovered from bin Laden’s compound shows al Qaeda under enormous strain. Bin Laden expressed concern that al Qaeda had been unable to effectively replace senior terrorists that had been killed, and that al Qaeda has failed in its effort to portray America as a nation at war with Islam — thereby draining more widespread support. Al Qaeda remains dangerous, and we must be vigilant against attacks. But we have put al Qaeda on a path to defeat, and we will not relent until the job is done.

In Afghanistan, we’ve inflicted serious losses on the Taliban and taken a number of its strongholds. Along with our surge, our allies also increased their commitments, which helped stabilize more of the country. Afghan security forces have grown by over 100,000 troops, and in some provinces and municipalities we’ve already begun to transition responsibility for security to the Afghan people. In the face of violence and intimidation, Afghans are fighting and dying for their country, establishing local police forces, opening markets and schools, creating new opportunities for women and girls, and trying to turn the page on decades of war.

Of course, huge challenges remain. This is the beginning — but not the end — of our effort to wind down this war. We’ll have to do the hard work of keeping the gains that we’ve made, while we draw down our forces and transition responsibility for security to the Afghan government. And next May, in Chicago, we will host a summit with our NATO allies and partners to shape the next phase of this transition.

We do know that peace cannot come to a land that has known so much war without a political settlement. So as we strengthen the Afghan government and security forces, America will join initiatives that reconcile the Afghan people, including the Taliban. Our position on these talks is clear: They must be led by the Afghan government, and those who want to be a part of a peaceful Afghanistan must break from al Qaeda, abandon violence, and abide by the Afghan constitution. But, in part because of our military effort, we have reason to believe that progress can be made.

The goal that we seek is achievable, and can be expressed simply: No safe haven from which al Qaeda or its affiliates can launch attacks against our homeland or our allies. We won’t try to make Afghanistan a perfect place. We will not police its streets or patrol its mountains indefinitely. That is the responsibility of the Afghan government, which must step up its ability to protect its people, and move from an economy shaped by war to one that can sustain a lasting peace. What we can do, and will do, is build a partnership with the Afghan people that endures — one that ensures that we will be able to continue targeting terrorists and supporting a sovereign Afghan government.

Of course, our efforts must also address terrorist safe havens in Pakistan. No country is more endangered by the presence of violent extremists, which is why we will continue to press Pakistan to expand its participation in securing a more peaceful future for this war-torn region. We’ll work with the Pakistani government to root out the cancer of violent extremism, and we will insist that it keeps its commitments. For there should be no doubt that so long as I am President, the United States will never tolerate a safe haven for those who aim to kill us. They cannot elude us, nor escape the justice they deserve.

My fellow Americans, this has been a difficult decade for our country. We’ve learned anew the profound cost of war — a cost that’s been paid by the nearly 4,500 Americans who have given their lives in Iraq, and the over 1,500 who have done so in Afghanistan — men and women who will not live to enjoy the freedom that they defended. Thousands more have been wounded. Some have lost limbs on the battlefield, and others still battle the demons that have followed them home.

Yet tonight, we take comfort in knowing that the tide of war is receding. Fewer of our sons and daughters are serving in harm’s way. We’ve ended our combat mission in Iraq, with 100,000 American troops already out of that country. And even as there will be dark days ahead in Afghanistan, the light of a secure peace can be seen in the distance. These long wars will come to a responsible end.

As they do, we must learn their lessons. Already this decade of war has caused many to question the nature of America’s engagement around the world. Some would have America retreat from our responsibility as an anchor of global security, and embrace an isolation that ignores the very real threats that we face. Others would have America over-extended, confronting every evil that can be found abroad.

We must chart a more centered course. Like generations before, we must embrace America’s singular role in the course of human events. But we must be as pragmatic as we are passionate; as strategic as we are resolute. When threatened, we must respond with force — but when that force can be targeted, we need not deploy large armies overseas. When innocents are being slaughtered and global security endangered, we don’t have to choose between standing idly by or acting on our own. Instead, we must rally international action, which we’re doing in Libya, where we do not have a single soldier on the ground, but are supporting allies in protecting the Libyan people and giving them the chance to determine their own destiny.

In all that we do, we must remember that what sets America apart is not solely our power — it is the principles upon which our union was founded. We’re a nation that brings our enemies to justice while adhering to the rule of law, and respecting the rights of all our citizens. We protect our own freedom and prosperity by extending it to others. We stand not for empire, but for self-determination. That is why we have a stake in the democratic aspirations that are now washing across the Arab world. We will support those revolutions with fidelity to our ideals, with the power of our example, and with an unwavering belief that all human beings deserve to live with freedom and dignity.

Above all, we are a nation whose strength abroad has been anchored in opportunity for our citizens here at home. Over the last decade, we have spent a trillion dollars on war, at a time of rising debt and hard economic times. Now, we must invest in America’s greatest resource — our people. We must unleash innovation that creates new jobs and industries, while living within our means. We must rebuild our infrastructure and find new and clean sources of energy. And most of all, after a decade of passionate debate, we must recapture the common purpose that we shared at the beginning of this time of war. For our nation draws strength from our differences, and when our union is strong no hill is too steep, no horizon is beyond our reach.

America, it is time to focus on nation building here at home.

In this effort, we draw inspiration from our fellow Americans who have sacrificed so much on our behalf. To our troops, our veterans and their families, I speak for all Americans when I say that we will keep our sacred trust with you, and provide you with the care and benefits and opportunity that you deserve.

I met some of these patriotic Americans at Fort Campbell. A while back, I spoke to the 101st Airborne that has fought to turn the tide in Afghanistan, and to the team that took out Osama bin Laden. Standing in front of a model of bin Laden’s compound, the Navy SEAL who led that effort paid tribute to those who had been lost — brothers and sisters in arms whose names are now written on bases where our troops stand guard overseas, and on headstones in quiet corners of our country where their memory will never be forgotten. This officer — like so many others I’ve met on bases, in Baghdad and Bagram, and at Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval Hospital — spoke with humility about how his unit worked together as one, depending on each other, and trusting one another, as a family might do in a time of peril.

That’s a lesson worth remembering — that we are all a part of one American family. Though we have known disagreement and division, we are bound together by the creed that is written into our founding documents, and a conviction that the United States of America is a country that can achieve whatever it sets out to accomplish. Now, let us finish the work at hand. Let us responsibly end these wars, and reclaim the American Dream that is at the center of our story. With confidence in our cause, with faith in our fellow citizens, and with hope in our hearts, let us go about the work of extending the promise of America — for this generation, and the next.

May God bless our troops. And may God bless the United States of America.

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