Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Say It’s True “Z”!!!–Americans will begin to be more discriminating in Middle Eastern Hyperbole

Say It’s True “Z”!!!–Americans will begin to be more discriminating in Middle Eastern Hyperbole

Zbig: Israelis “bought influence” and outmaneuvered Obama
The president “should have stuck to his guns” on Mideast peace, says Zbigniew Brzezinski, former NSC advisor

Zbigniew Brzezinski’s new book, “Strategic Vision,” imagines a world without American power. He envisions profound instability, faltering international cooperation and weak states falling prey to their more dominant neighbors. Describing the dystopia that would emerge if America goes under is a trick British historian Niall Ferguson pioneered. Unlike the jingoistic Ferguson, however, Brzezinski is able to envision China replacing America as the stabilizing force in world affairs. “I don’t think liberal states are more restrained or stabilizing,” he says. “The United States’ actions in the last 20 years, especially with the war in Iraq, do not give reassurance on that score.”

Such unorthodox thinking has made the Polish-born Brzezinski arguably the greatest living scholar-practitioner in Democratic Party ranks. As a scholar, he was erratic but he also foresaw the Soviet Union’s crack-up long before it occurred. As Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor, he was controversial and even reckless, but he imbued the president with strong doses of reality concerning the Soviet Union and the Middle East. Since the end of the Cold War, he stayed relevant presciently opposing the Iraq War and supporting presidential candidate Barack Obama at a crucial, early date.

In a telephone interview from his office at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., Brzezinski has both praise and criticism for the president: “He was an improvement by a very large score over his predecessor, but he could have been better.” He thinks the Obama administration “should have stuck to its guns in promoting a fair settlement” in the Middle East. A longtime foe of Israel’s partisans in the United States, he says the Obama team “fumbled by getting outmaneuvered by the Israelis.” Then he gets blunter: “Domestic politics interceded: The Israelis have a lot of influence with Congress, and in some cases they are able to buy influence.”

Brzezinski is still a believer in the two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians, and is hopeful that Obama will again take up the cause if he gets a second term. “He would have time and the historical immunity to do so, because he wouldn’t be facing an election.” He also thinks space has opened up in the United States to be more critical of Israel. “The American public is becoming more discriminating, and the Jewish public in America is becoming more discriminating,” he says. “They realize that extremist sloganeering and warmongering are not the most helpful approaches.” Brzezinski is careful to note that he was never an official advisor to either candidate or President Obama but lets it be known they are still in touch: “I have a relationship where from time to time I am able to share my views with him,” he says.

The focus of “Strategic Vision” is not on the Middle East, but further to the east. Unlike other adherents to the foreign-policy school known as realism, Brzezinski does not see war between China and the United States as inevitable. Conflict, yes, but war, no. “You can have conflicts but avoid a real collision,” he says, arguing there is only a “remote possibility” of war between China and the U.S. over the next 10 to 15 years.

What makes Brzezinski relatively optimistic for the chances of Sino-American cooperation are his views on history. Many times when great powers have shifted positions in the international hierarchy, they have gone to war. Those predicting China and the United States will inevitably come to blows are relying on history and international relations theory, Brzezinski says. “That’s fine as long as there is historical continuity,” he says, but he thinks the world has changed. “I think major wars have become too prohibitively costly for both sides” for states to want to engage in them, he says.

Two things could potentially ruin the chances for good relations between China and the United States, he suggests: a technological-military revolution, and ineffective leadership. “If there are fantastic breakthroughs in military capabilities that allow one side to neutralize each other’s,” Brzezinski says, the delicate balance necessary to maintain stability would be thrown off. Fortunately, there isn’t much chance of such a technology developing in the foreseeable future, he believes.

The quality of leadership is Brzezinski’s real wild card. Prudent leaders from both countries that prepare their respective publics for the compromises that will inevitably have to be made are badly needed. But the “mindless hypocrisy” of the Republican presidential candidates gives little ground for hope. He won’t single out any of them, finding all of them deeply flawed and uninspiring. Noting the Republican names attached to the blurbs for ”Strategic Vision” — among them former Defense Secretary Robert Gates and National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft — Brzezinski believes there still is the “possibility for consensus.” But men like Scowcroft and Gates, who come from the center-right of the political spectrum, are no longer much welcomed in today’s Republican Party. “That is part of the problem,” he laughed, not sounding entirely amused.
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Jordan Michael Smith writes about U.S. foreign policy for Salon. He has written for the New York Times, Boston Globe and Washington Post.


Constitutional Amendment to Create Public Financing Introduced by Kucinich

Constitutional Amendment to Create Public Financing Introduced by Kucinich

This needs to become law–and pronto, America!–KAS

By David Swanson

Congressman Dennis Kucinich has just introduced HJRes100 which proposes this Constitutional Amendment:


I recently recommened a comprehensive Constitutional amendment addressing the corruption of our elections.

The largest piece of it, largely inspired by an amendment drafted by Russell Simmons, had not been introduced in Congress . . . until now.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich has just introduced HJRes100 which proposes this Constitutional Amendment:

Section 1. All campaigns for President and Members of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate shall be financed entirely with public funds. No contributions shall be permitted to any candidate for Federal office from any other source, including the candidate.

Section 2. No expenditures shall be permitted in support of any candidate for Federal office, or in opposition to any candidate for Federal office, from any other source, including the candidate. Nothing in this Section shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press.

Section 3. The Congress shall, by statute, provide limitations on the amounts and timing of the expenditures of such public funds.

Section 4. The Congress shall, by statute, provide criminal penalties for any violation of this Article.

Section 5. The Congress shall have the power to implement and enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

This does not state that corporations are not people or bribery is not speech or the moon is not made of cheese, but it proceeds accordingly and handles the corruption of our elections as effectively as anything I’ve seen. No amendment is completely comprehensive, but no completely comprehensive amendment is likely to get passed (or even read). I also doubt very much that Congress will ever advance any such amendment, at least until there is a serious threat from two-thirds of the states to circumvent Congress with a Constitutional Convention.

But if there is an amendment to build the list of cosponsors on, this looks like the one. This looks to me like something that the anti-corporate-personhood movement, the clean elections movement, the peace movement, and every other cause for peace, justice, or representative government should get behind. I don’t mean get behind a politician or a party or censor your own complete demands. I mean get every possible Congress member to cosponsor this bill, which exists because of our movement.

Blocking funding without providing public financing is a half-solution. Limiting private election spending while leaving loopholes is no solution. Prohibiting private spending, creating public financing, and making those laws enforceable is a huge chunk of the solution.

We can all remember “H J Res 100″. Now to ask our misrepresentatives to sign on!

Submitters Website: http://davidswanson.org

Submitters Bio:

David Swanson is the author of “When the World Outlawed War,” “War Is A Lie” and “Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union.” He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org


Is the EPA out to Get You?

Is the EPA out to Get You?


After more than a dozen debates and hundreds of speeches, one thing is for sure. The Republican primary candidates and their allies will do anything to win over those most important to their campaigns: big polluting billionaires and the right-wing extremists who love them.

These candidates will sacrifice anything – clean air, clean water, and even their fellow Republicans – to please their deep-pocketed puppet-masters and get a shot at the White House.

You’ve seen these puppets in action before. Now comes the much-anticipated political movie that tells the story of when polluters and politicians team up and exposes the shocking truth of what really happened: “When the Puppets Came to Town.”

When the Puppets Came to Town

The Republican presidential primary is really heating up. After more than a dozen debates and hundreds of campaign stops, the candidates and their allies are duking it out in South Carolina. And they are doing and saying anything it takes to win the hearts and minds of those who are most important to their campaigns: big polluting, billionaire donors and the right-wing extremists who love them.

When it comes to winning the favor of their puppet-masters, these candidates will sacrifice anything – clean air, clean water, and even their fellow Republicans – to get a shot at the White House.

You’ve seen these puppets in action before. Now comes the much-anticipated political movie that tells the story of when corporate polluters and politicians team up and exposes the shocking truth of what really happened “When the Puppets Came to Town.”

Real Republicans on the EPA

On the eve of the New Hampshire primary, the Sierra Club’sVoter Education Fund launched its Real Republicans primary project, the first major effort by an environmental organization to fight back against the stream of misinformation scapegoating clean air, cleanwater, and public health safeguards and the agencies that implement them. In addition to the new realrepubs.com website, the project will include a series of videos featuring the candidates’ actual words coming from the mouths of sock puppets uncannily designed in their likenesses.

The first video in the “Real Republicans” series contrasts the candidates’ dangerous political assault on the EPA with the reality of the public’s strong support for that agency’s mission. The Sierra Club Voter Education Fund’s Real Republicans project seeks to educate voters about the records of the 2012 GOP presidential candidates by highlighting their extreme positions on public health and other issues of critical importance to the American people and encourage the public to find out more about the candidates and their positions on these issues. More videos and initiatives are planned as the Republican presidential primary continues.

Mitt Debates Mitt on Climate

One is a mild-mannered moderate. The other is a fire-breathing, right-wing conservative. One embraces science, innovation, and the progress of the 21st century. The other prefers the ideas of the Stone Age.

They’re the yin and yang of the political spectrum and the only thing they can agree on is a hairstyle. But what happens when the Mitt Romney of June of 2011 debates the Mitt Romney of October 2011? It’s a battle for the ages.

We can’t make this stuff up.

Newt Debates Newt on Climate

Former Speaker of the House. Historian. Tiffany’s aficionado. Amateur paleontologist?!? Not so fast, Newt.

To be a scientist you have to know your science – but, time and time again, the former Speaker has sided with Big Oil and against the vast majority of the scientific community by denying climate change is occurring.

Thankfully, one prominent Republican candidate has stood up to take him to task for this 19th century philosophy, even crossing party lines to join Nancy Pelosi in a call for solutions to the climate crisis.

That challenger’s name? Newt Gingrich. Watch as fireworks fly when the two lock horns. It’s not the first time they’ve clashed and it certainly won’t be the last.


Army says 164 active-duty troops took their own lives in 2011

Army says 164 active-duty troops took their own lives in 2011, the highest number ever recorded

Military Suicides Hit New Record High

New figures show suicides among active-duty U.S. soldiers hit another record high last year. The Army says 164 active-duty troops took their own lives in 2011, the highest number ever recorded. Violent sex crimes among active-duty troops also rose nearly 30 percent, with more than half the victims active-duty female soldiers between the ages of 18 and 21.





1 Votes

Hi Kevin,

When she was studying at the University of Bridgeport, Balayla Ahmad’s only apparent crime was reporting her repeated sexual harassment at the hands of one man. The university’s response to her complaints? Expulsion.

Demand that the University of Bridgeport give Ahmad a fair trial. »

Balayla Ahmad, an African American Muslim woman from Connecticut, had dreams of becoming a chiropractor at the University of Bridgeport. While she was attending school, the same man sexually harassed her several times. When she tried to report her attacker, the university ignored her complaints. »

Upon hearing of Balayla’s attempts to report sexual harassment, Balayla’s attacker made the counter-claim that she was a terrorist. The university promptly dismissed her.

This is a disgusting example of racism and sexism.

Tell the University of Bridgeport to re-enroll Balayla and give her a fair trial today.»
Thanks for taking action!


Justice for Sexually Harassed University Student
Take action now.
Take Action!

Take action link: http://www.care2.com/go/z/e/Ag9zB/zL5h/BBHm3

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TARIQ ALI on Democracy Now

QUOTE of the WEEK concerning the Killing of 24 Pakistani Soliders at their Checkpoint by the USA

TARIQ ALI on Democracy Now:

“Well, Amy, the killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers and the bombing of their checkpoint makes no rational sense at all. The United States did it. They knew it was a military checkpoint. They knew that it was Pakistani soldiers. They haven’t yet been able to come up with any reasonable explanation as to how that happened. So one has to assume that it was deliberate. And this happened roughly at the same period as Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, sent a message to the Pentagon saying, “Come and help us against our own army. We’ll do whatever you want,” which has become a huge scandal in Pakistan. It’s like a Clancy novel. And the ambassador actually going and pleading. This ambassador has now been removed. Another one has been appointed. So all sorts of things are going on behind the scenes, of which we haven’t yet heard the whole—the whole story is yet to come out.“



Runner up for Quote of the Week from Tariq Ali was:

TARIQ ALI: Iran, in my opinion, the Pentagon generals are not in favor of a war on Iran, because that would overstretch the United States, and the Iranians will—are quite a strong country, economically and militarily. They will probably respond within Iraq, within Afghanistan, on the Lebanese border, and in Iran itself. So, is the United States going to be prepared to fight four wars to do something that the Israelis want more than anyone else? I mean, ideally, the United States should have been mending its fences with Iran. I mean, Nixon did it with China. Obama should have flown to Tehran and done a deal with them. They refused to do that, because of the pressure of the Israelis, and the result is now tension. And if the Iranians close down the Straits of Hormuz in any conflict, which they are threatening to do, this will affect oil supplies to the West. And given the economy is already in a mess, the situation will become catastrophic. So I think it would be a crazy president who ordered bombing raids on Iran at the moment.


In America, whites have 20 times the wealth of African-Americans. So says census data

Dear Kevin:

In America, whites have 20 times the wealth of African-Americans. So says census data.

Not 20% more. Not twice as much. Twenty times as much. Specifically, the median household wealth for whites in 2009 was $113,149, and the median household wealth for African-Americans was $5,677.

When I heard this a few months ago, it was not entirely news to me. When I was in Congress, I read the reports that the Federal Reserve sent to Members; to me, that was interesting reading. In the appendix to one of those Fed reports, from a survey of respondents selected in 2007, these numbers caught my eye:

White, non-Hispanic households – $149,900

Hispanic and African-American households – $23,300

So from $149,900 down to $113,149, and from $23,300 (including Hispanics) down to $5,677. These numbers confirm just how hard the Great Recession has whacked minority households.

But there is a deeper issue. Can someone please explain to me how, in a country where we are told again and again that we are “all created equal,” one group ends up with 20 times as much as another?

MLK’s dream was that his four young children would “one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” What are we supposed to think – that one group has twenty times as much character as another?

In the face of incredible numbers like these, you will still find right-wingers who insist that America is now a color-blind society (except for the scourge of “reverse racism”). But the numbers tell a different story. They suggest that America is not a color-blind society, but rather a racism-blind society.

And ask yourself: when has any elected official, ANY elected official, ever discussed this inconvenient truth, and tried to discern what should be done about it? Why is there a veil of silence over such a salient, central fact about the country we all share?

I went to a wonderful parade on Saturday, celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. And if there is one thing that we know in Central Florida, it’s how to put on a parade; we have several every day. All those smiling, happy faces that I saw on Saturday.

And it’s not my job to rain on anyone’s parade. That’s why I’m saying this today, not yesterday, when we celebrated Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. But here we are, 49 years later, his “four young children” as old as I am, and one of them already gone from us.

And I have to say, about that dream of equality that he had, it’s still just a dream.

Just a dream.


Alan Grayson

“There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why . . . . I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?” Robert Kennedy, on dreams.

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Tomgram: Sinking the Petrodollar in the Persian Gulf

Tomgram: Sinking the Petrodollar in the Persian Gulf & a Quick History for the Uninformed

These days, with a crisis atmosphere growing in the Persian Gulf, a little history lesson about the U.S. and Iran might be just what the doctor ordered. Here, then, are a few high- (or low-) lights from their relationship over the last half-century-plus:

Summer 1953: The CIA and British intelligence hatch a plot for a coup that overthrows a democratically elected government in Iran intent on nationalizing that country’s oil industry. In its place, they put an autocrat, the young Shah of Iran, and his soon-to-be feared secret police. He runs the country as his repressive fiefdom for a quarter-century, becoming Washington’s “bulwark” in the Persian Gulf — until overthrown in 1979 by a home-grown revolutionary movement, which ushers in the rule of Ayatollah Khomeini and the mullahs. While Khomeini & Co. were hardly Washington’s men, thanks to that 1953 coup they were, in a sense, its own political offspring. In other words, the fatal decision to overthrow a popular democratic government shaped the Iranian world Washington now loathes, and even then oil was at the bottom of things.

1967: Under the U.S. “Atoms for Peace” program, started in the 1950s by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Shah is allowed to buy a 5-megawatt, light-water type research reactor for Tehran (which — call it irony — is still playing a role in the dispute over the Iranian nuclear program). Defense Department officials did worry at the time that the Shah might use the “peaceful atom” as a basis for a future weapons program or that nuclear materials might fall into the wrong hands. “An aggressive successor to the Shah,” went a 1974 Pentagon memo, “might consider nuclear weapons the final item needed to establish Iran’s complete military dominance of the region.” But that didn’t stop them from aiding and abetting the creation of an Iranian nuclear program.

The Shah, like his Islamic successors, argued that such a program was Iran’s national “right” and dreamed of a country that would get significant portions of its electricity from a string of nuclear plants. As a 1970s ad by a group of American power companies put the matter: “The Shah of Iran is sitting on top of one of the largest reservoirs of oil in the world. Yet he’s building two nuclear plants and planning two more to provide electricity for his country. He knows the oil is running out — and time with it.” In other words, the U.S. nuclear program was the genesis for the Iranian one that Washington now so despises.

September 1980: Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein launches a war of aggression against Ayatollah Khomeini’s Iran. In the early 1980s, he becomes Washington’s man, our “bulwark” in the Persian Gulf, and we offer him our hand — and also “detailed information” on Iranian deployments and tactical planning that help him use his chemical weapons more effectively against the Iranian military. Oh, and just to make sure things turn out really, really well, the Reagan administration also decides to sell missiles and other arms to Ayatollah Khomeini’s Iran on the sly, part of what became known as the “ Iran-Contra Affair” and which almost brings down the president and his men. Success!

March 2003: Saddam Hussein is, by now, no longer our man in Baghdad but a new “Hitler” who, top Washington officials claim, undoubtedly has a nuclear weapons program that could someday leave mushroom clouds rising over U.S. cities. So the Bush administration launches a war of aggression against Iraq, which like Iran just happens to — in the words of Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz — “float on a sea of oil.” (Bush officials hope, in the wake of a “cakewalk” of a war to revive that country’s oil industry, to privatize it, and use it to destroy OPEC, driving down the price of oil on world markets.) Nine years later, a Shiite government is in power in Baghdad closely allied with Tehran, which has gained regional strength and influence thanks to the disastrous U.S. occupation.

So call it an unblemished record of a kind not easy to find. In more than 50 years, America’s leaders have never made a move in Iran (or near it) that didn’t lead to unexpected and unpleasant blowback. Now, another administration in Washington, after years of what can only be called a covert war against Iran, is preparing yet another set of clever maneuvers — this time sanctions against Iran’s central bank meant to cripple the country’s oil industry and crack open the economy followed by no one knows what.

And honestly, I mean, really, given past history, what could possibly go wrong? Regime change in Iran? It’s bound to be a slam dunk and if you don’t believe it, check out Pepe Escobar, that fabulous peripatetic reporter for Asia Times and TomDispatch regular. Tom


Review: The United States of Fear

Rarely does a Cartoonist get such a positive review in the Foreign Policy Journals. Great!–KAS

Review: The United States of Fear

By Derek Bolton

Tom Engelhardt’s most recent work, The United Sates of Fear, offers a sobering analysis of U.S. policy in the post 9/11 period, painting a bleak assessment of what he labels an empire in decline. Through his straightforward prose, which avoids the daunting language often found in similar works, Engelhardt mounts a scathing attack on U.S. foreign policy, the military industrial complex, and the Washington politicians who chant the mantra of “national security.” Engelhardt believes that the United States has entered its own “Soviet Era,” having followed slowly in the former superpower’s footsteps since its demise in 1991. In contrast to what many analysts and members of the intelligence community have argued will be a slow decline leading to a soft landing for the world’s sole superpower, Engelhardt suggests that Americans should prepare for a much more grim demise. Through the efforts of successive administrations, the United States has sown the seeds of its own demise.

This drive toward self-destruction dates back to the 1990s, according to Engelhardt, when the United States initiated what he terms an “arms race of one,” a push by the military to ensure American military predominance over future decades. In the post-9/11 era, this rationale would become the foundation of Washington’s policies under George W Bush with the adoption of what Engelhardt calls the“100 percent doctrine,” or 100 percent assurance that the American people would be safe from terrorist threats. As a result, groups like al-Qaeda have managed to drain billions of U.S. dollars by simply representing perceived threats to U.S. security. The U.S. government has devoted enormous resources for increased security in airports, an ever-expanding drone and special operations program, boosting the intelligence community, and maintaining wars in Afghanistan Iraq.

Engelhardt maintains that the Obama administration has similarly fallen victim to this national security logic, which he dubs the “Tao of Terrorism,” by expanding Bush’s “Global War on Terror,” increasing drone activity, orchestrating a surge of troops in Afghanistan, and multiplying the number of monstrous overseas embassies and consulates. This all reflects what Engelhardt views as the “always more, never less” mentality within U.S. policy formation that further drains the treasury with little regard to the internal decay of U.S. infrastructure. Moreover this always-increase mentality has ultimately failed to combat threats. For example, the highest number of U.S. casualties in Afghanistan since the war started took place in 2010-11. In short, the U.S. national security system, for Engelhardt, is literally self-defeating.

Engelhardt’s approach is most certainly poignant and to the point. The work suffers at times from its origin as blog posts, for it is occasionally repetitive. Still, The United States of Fear provides an important balance to mainstream discourse, highlighting the extremely high cost of maintaining the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq, the militarization of diplomatic efforts, and the need to reevaluate U.S. budget priorities.


“Fracking” and Halliburton’s role in it EXPLAINE

Fracking Gets Its Own Occupy Movement

By Ellen Cantarow


This is a story about water, the land surrounding it, and the lives it sustains. Clean water should be a right: there is no life without it. New York is what you might call a “water state.” Its rivers and their tributaries only start with the St. Lawrence, the Hudson, the Delaware, and the Susquehanna. The best known of its lakes are Great Lakes Erie and Ontario, Lake George, and the Finger Lakes. Its brooks, creeks, and trout streams are fishermen’s lore.

Far below this rippling wealth there’s a vast, rocky netherworld called the Marcellus Shale. Stretching through southern New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia, the shale contains bubbles of methane, the remains of life that died 400 million years ago. Gas corporations have lusted for the methane in the Marcellus since at least 1967 when one of them plotted with the Atomic Energy Agency to explode a nuclear bomb to unleash it. That idea died, but it’s been reborn in the form of a technology invented by Halliburton Corporation: high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing — “fracking” for short.

Fracking uses prodigious amounts of water laced with sand and a startling menu of poisonous chemicals to blast the methane out of the shale. At hyperbaric bomb-like pressures, this technology propels five to seven million gallons of sand-and-chemical-laced water a mile or so down a well bore into the shale.

Up comes the methane — along with about a million gallons of wastewater containing the original fracking chemicals and other substances that were also in the shale, among them radioactive elements and carcinogens. There are 400,000 such wells in the United States. Surrounded by rumbling machinery, serviced by tens of thousands of diesel trucks, this nightmare technology for energy release has turned rural areas in 34 U.S. states into toxic industrial zones.


Take action by February 7, 2012--Obama Should not Scrap Protections for Endangered Species–SPEAK OUT, AMERICA!

Obama Should not Scrap Protections for Endangered Species–SPEAK OUT, AMERICA!

Dear Kevin,

The Obama government is now accepting comments on a draft policy that would sharply limit the number of species given protection under the Endangered Species Act. The policy in question is a Bush-era throwback that ignores entire populations of imperiled species.

Unlike weaker wildlife laws, the Endangered Species Act does not require a species to be at risk of global extinction to qualify for protection; it must only be at risk in a “significant portion of its range.” This provision ensures species are protected before they’re past the point of no return; it fulfills the Act’s purpose of protecting the ecosystems on which endangered species depend.

Unfortunately the policy the Obama administration is proposing would ignore historic losses of habitat and reestablish the global-endangerment criterion — a standard that has already allowed the government to downplay the urgent plight of the cactus ferruginous pygmy owl.

Please take action now to tell President Obama’s Interior Department not to shut out animals and plants that desperately need the Act’s protection.

CLICK HERE to take action


Sample letter content:

Subject: Comment on Policy on Significant Portion of Range

I am writing to request that you rescind the proposed policy interpreting the phrase “significant portion of its range” (SPOIR), and replace it with a policy that will truly ensure that species are not lost from significant portions of range.

The draft policy specifies that a portion of the range of a species is significant only if “its contribution to the viability of the species is so important that without that portion, the species would be in danger of extinction.” This definition does not provide a meaningful distinction between when a species is endangered in a SPOIR and when a species is endangered throughout all its range, thereby rendering the SPOIR phrase superfluous and nullifying any conservation benefit of protecting species before they are threatened with worldwide extinction.

The draft policy further specifies that when considering whether a species is endangered in a SPOIR, only the current range of a species will be considered. Ignoring historic range when determining whether species are endangered in significant portions of range amounts to a shifting baseline, whereby species that experienced major declines are considered secure only because the analysis is limited solely to current range. Such an approach is clearly not in the interest of species conservation.

I ask that you rescind this anti-science, anti-common-sense draft policy and instead adopt one that considers the significance of both current and historic range and adopts a broad definition of significance that considers many factors when evaluating portions of range, including biological importance, ecological value and size.


Please take action by February 7, 2012.

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I don’t know how pervasive this scam is at the airport nor for which countries have been involved or identified with this scam–but watch out

I don’t know how pervasive this scam is at the airport nor for which countries have been involved or identified with this scam–but watch out!

As noted from the headline above, this scam (described below) has occurred in some airports around the world. However, I do not know how up-to-date these vignettes and warnings are. Perhaps, some of you readers can share what you know.–KAS

Please be Careful at the Airports, This is a well organized conspiracy by Immigration, Police, Customs and Airline staff with networking at all International Airports. Be careful when ever you give your passport to Immigration/Customs/Airline staff. The pass port can be easily tampered and can create trouble to you. They have found an easy way of making money. This is the way it works:

At the time of the passenger’s departure, if the passenger is not looking at the officer while he is stamping the exit, the officer very cleverly tears away one of the page from the passport. When the passenger leaves the immigration counter, the case is reported on his computer terminal with full details. Now all over the country they have got full details of the passenger with Red Flag flashing on the Passport number entered by the departure immigration officer. They have made their money by doing above.

On arrival next time, he is interrogated.

Subject to the passenger’s period of stay abroad, his income and standing etc., the price to get rid of the problem is settled by the Police and Immigration people. If someone argues, his future is spoiled because there are always some innocent fellows who think the honesty is the basis of getting justice.

Please advise every passenger to be careful at the airports. Whenever they hand over the passport to the counters of Airlines or immigration or the customs, they must be vigilant, should not remove eyes from the passport even if the officer in front tries to divert their attention.

Also, please pass this information to all friends, media men and important politicians. Every month 20-30 cases are happening all over the world to rob the passenger the minute he lands.
A similar case happened with Aramco’s Arifuddin in Pakistan . He was traveling with his family.
They had six passports. They got the visa of America and decided to go via Jeddah. When they reached the States, the page of the American visa on his wife’s passport was missing. At the time of departure from Pakistan it was there, the whole family had to return helplessly. On arrival at Pakistan , they were caught by the police and now it is over 2 months, they are running after the Police, Immigration officers and the Courts. On going in to details with him, he found out the following: One cannot imagine, neither can believe, that the Immigration dept can play such a nasty game to harass the innocent passengers.

All the airlines passengers must be aware of this conspiracy. Every month 15 to 20 cases are taking place, at each mentioned airport, of holding the passengers in the crime of tearing away the passport pages. On interviewing some of them, none of them was aware of what had happened. They don’t know why, when and who tore away the page from the middle of the passport. One can imagine the sufferings of such people at the hands of the immigration, police and the court procedures after that. The number of cases has increased in the last 2-3 years. People who are arriving at the immigration, they are questioned and their passports are being held and they have to go in for detailed interrogation. Obviously, the conspiracy started about 2 to 3 years ago, now the results are coming. Some of the Airline counter staff too is involved in this conspiracy.



I think at least have a full photo copy of Passport and Keep scan of your passport in your Hard drive or flash memory and i will advise same for ticket also
— from Gemma Gabuat Ursua.


Tell the SEC: Shine sunlight on corporate spending in elections!!

Tell the SEC: Shine sunlight on corporate spending in elections!

Dear Kevin

Curb the Corporate Agenda of Activist CEOs!

Tell the SEC to Expose the Hidden Influence of Corporate Money!

CEOs of massive corporations are poised to secretly funnel millions of dollars from corporate coffers toward electing corporate candidates in 2012. Join our action to stop them now!

They want to keep their spending in the dark. Thankfully, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has the authority to expose their hidden influence. But the SEC isn’t going to act without public pressure.

Tell the SEC: Shine sunlight on corporate spending in elections.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s disastrous ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission unleashed this flood of unaccountable corporate money. But the bulk of this money actually belongs to shareholders – mostly working people who have a 401k or similar retirement plan.

You may use the suggested language below without changing it. But if you write your own comment, it will be documented and read separately from those who use the sample language without revising it.

Note: Your comment and any other information you provide below will be displayed publicly on the SEC’s website or on www.regulations.gov.


Subject: Comment on File Number 4-637
Your Letter:

I am deeply concerned about the influence of corporate money on our electoral process.

In particular, I am appalled that, because of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, publicly traded corporations can spend investor’s money on political activity in secret.

I am writing to urge the Securities and Exchange Commission to issue a rule requiring publicly traded corporations to publicly disclose all their political spending.

Both shareholders and the public must be fully informed as to how much the corporation spends on politics and which candidates are being promoted or attacked. Disclosures should be posted promptly on the SEC’s web site.

Thank you for considering my comment.



Grenada, an island in the southeastern Caribbean Sea, can be heaven for tourists but Grenada Breweries Company turned it into a hell for workers as 125 of them were locked out just before the Christmas on December 19, 2011.

CLICK to send a message to Grenada Breweries Company telling them to stop violating workers’ rights and end the lockout!

For more information, read the full story here.

NEW IUF News Service!

Click to subscribe to the new IUF News Service

Ron Oswald
General Secretary, IUF

International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF)

8, rampe du Pont-Rouge
1213 Petit Lancy, Switzerland
Tel: +41 22 793 22 33
Fax: +41 22 793 22 38
web-site: www.iuf.org


To Andrew Norman Sagba,
Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Grenada Breweries Ltd.

Dear Chairman Sagba,

The workers of your Company remain locked out since December 19, 2011 and are effectively being held hostage until they give up or amend the Profit Sharing arrangement guaranteed in the Collective Agreement signed by the company. This item has been in the Agreement since 1980 (22 years before you purchased majority shares in GBL).

I call on you to immediately end the lock-out of these workers and engage the Union in serious negotiations that will not jeopardise established and justified benefits for this longstanding workforce, some of whom have been working with your Company for thirty eight (38) years.

Yours sincerely,


World Peace Is Hanging By A Thread

By Fidel Castro

The political situation surrounding Iran and the associated risks of a nuclear war that involves us all — regardless of whether one possess nuclear weapons — are extremely delicate because they threaten the very existence of our species. The Middle East has become the most troubled region on the planet, the same region that produces the energy resources vital for the world’s economy.


Yesterday I had the satisfaction of having a pleasant conversation with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. I had not seen him since 2006, more than five years ago, when he visited our country to participate in the 14th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement of Countries in Havana. During the summit, Cuba was elected for the second time as president of the organization for a three-year term.

I had become gravely ill on July 26, 2006, a month and a half prior to the summit, and could barely sit up in bed. Many of the most distinguished leaders who participated in the event were kind enough to visit me. Chavez and Evo visited me several times. One afternoon four visitors came by whom I will always remember: UN Secretary General Kofi Annan; an old friend, Abdelaziz Buteflika, the president of Algeria; Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran; and the vice minister of Foreign Affairs and current Foreign Minister of China, Yang Jiechi, on behalf of the leader of the Communist Party and the president of China, Hu Jintao. It was really an important time for me; I was in the midst of intense physiotherapy on my right hand that I had seriously injured when I fell in Santa Clara.

With all four I spoke about some of the difficulties facing the world at the time; problems that have become progressively more complex.

During our meeting yesterday, I noted that the Iranian president was absolutely calm and tranquil, completely unconcerned about the Yankee threats and, fully confident in the capacity of his people to confront any aggression and in the effectiveness of their arms — which, in large part, they produce themselves — to inflict an unpayable price on its aggressors.

In reality, we hardly spoke about the topic of war. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was focused on the ideas he had presented at the Main Hall of the University of Havana during his conference on the struggle of humankind: “Moving towards reaching and achieving peace, security, respect and human dignity as a fundamental desire of all human beings throughout history.”

I am convinced that Iran will not commit any rash actions that might contribute to setting off a war. If a war were to be unleashed, it would inevitably be completely as a result of the recklessness and congenital irresponsibility of the Yankee Empire.

I believe that the political situation surrounding Iran and the associated risks of a nuclear war that involves us all — regardless of whether one possess nuclear weapons — are extremely delicate because they threaten the very existence of our species. The Middle East has become the most troubled region on the planet, the same region that produces the energy resources vital for the world’s economy.

The destructive power and the mass sufferings caused by some of the weapons used in World War Two led to a strong movement to ban weapons such as asphyxiating gas and others. Nevertheless, conflicting interests and the huge profits made by arms manufacturers led to the production of crueler and more destructive weapons; modern technology has now added the means and material to build weapons that if used in a world war would lead to extinction.

I support the opinion, undoubtedly shared by all those with a basic sense of responsibility, that no country big or small has the right to possess nuclear weapons.

They never should have been used to attack two defenseless cities such as Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing and irradiating with horrible and long-lasting effects hundreds of thousands of men, women and children, in a country that had already been militarily defeated.

If fascism indeed forced the allied nations against Nazism to compete with this enemy of humanity in the production of such weapons, once the war ended and the United Nations was created, the first duty of this organization should have been to prohibit nuclear weapons without exception.

However, the United States, the strongest and richest power, forced the rest of the world to follow its lead. Today, they have hundreds of satellites that spy and monitor the entire world from outer space. Their naval, air and land forces are equipped with thousands of nuclear weapons; and they control the world’s finances and investments at their whim via the International Monetary Fund.

Analyzing the history of each Latin American nation, from Mexico to Patagonia, by way of Santo Domingo and Haiti, one can observe that each and every country, without exception, has suffered for 200 years, from the beginning of the 19th century up until today. And, in one way or another, they are increasingly suffering the worst crimes that power and force can commit against the rights of a people. Brilliant Latin American writers are emerging in an increasing number. One of them, Eduardo Galeano, author of the book Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent that describes the aforementioned, has just been invited to open the prestigious Casa de Las Americas Awards as a recognition to his outstanding body of work.

Events happen incredibly fast; but technologies report them to the public even faster. On any given day, like today, important news comes out a dizzying pace. A cable report dated from January 11 states: “The Danish presidency of the European Union confirmed on Wednesday that a new series of more severe European sanctions against Iran, because of its nuclear program, will be discussed on January 23. The new sanctions will not only target the oil industry but also the Central Bank.”

During a meeting with international journalists, Danish Foreign Minister Villy Soevndal said that “We will increase sanctions against the oil industry in addition to sanctions against financial structures.” This clearly demonstrates that, in order to impede nuclear proliferation, Israel can go on accumulating hundreds of nuclear warheads while Iran is not allowed to produce 20% enriched uranium.

Another article, from a respected British news agency, states that “China gave no hint on Wednesday of giving ground to U.S. demands to curb Iran’s oil revenues, rejecting Washington’s sanctions on Tehran as overstepping…”

The sheer tranquility with which the United States and civilized Europe carry out this campaign with incredible and systematic acts of terrorism is enough to shock anybody. Just look at these lines reported by another important European news agency: “The murder on Wednesday of Iranian nuclear specialist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan [a scientist at the Natanz nuclear plant] was the fourth attack to kill a leading scientist in the country in almost exactly two years.”

On January 12, 2010: “Massoud Ali Mohammadi, a particle physics professor at Tehran University is killed when a booby-trapped motorcycle explodes outside his home in the capital.”

On November 29, 2010: “Two attacks target leading Iranian nuclear scientists on the same day. Majid Shahriari, a key member of Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency, is killed in Tehran by a limpet bomb attached to his car. His colleague Fereydoon Abbasi Davani is also targeted by a bomb attached to his car, but escapes.” The car was parked in front of the Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran where both men worked as professors.

On July 23, 2011: “Gunmen shoot dead Dariush Rezaei-Nejad, a senior scientist who is reportedly associated with the defense ministry, and wound his wife as they waited for their child outside a Tehran kindergarten.”

On January 11, 2012 — the same day that Ahmadinejad traveled from Nicaragua to Cuba to give a conference at the University of Havana — scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, “a deputy director at the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility, is killed in a car bomb blast outside the [Allameh Tabatabai] University in east Tehran.” As in previous years “Iran once again accused the United States and Israel.”

The killings represent a systematic and selective slaughter of brilliant Iranian scientists. I have read articles by known Israeli sympathizers who write about crimes carried out by Israeli intelligence services in cooperation with the United States and NATO as if they were the most normal occurrence.

At the same time, Moscow news agencies report that “Russia warned that in Syria a similar scenario is developing as to that in Libya, and added that this time the attack will be launched from neighboring Turkey.

“The secretary of the Russian Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, said the West wants to “punish Damascus not as much for repressing the opposition, but because it is unwilling to sever ties with Tehran.”

“NATO members and some Persian Gulf states, operating according to the Libya scenario, intend to move from indirect intervention in Syrian affairs to direct military intervention….This time the main strikes forces will not be provided by France, the U.K. or Italy, but possibly by neighboring Turkey.”

“Washington and Ankara are now assumed to be negotiating a “no-fly” zone over Syria, where Syrian armed insurgents can be trained and concentrated, added Patrushev.”

News is not only coming out of Iran and the Middle East, but also from other parts of Central Asia near the Middle East. These reports show the great complexity of the problems that can arise from this dangerous region.

The United States has been led by its contradictory and absurd imperial policy to get involved in serious problems in countries such as Pakistan, whose borders with Afghanistan were drawn up by the colonialists without taking into account culture or ethnicities.

In Afghanistan, which defended its independence against English colonialism for centuries, drug production has multiplied in the wake of the Yankee invasion. Meanwhile, European soldiers, supported by drone airplanes and armed with sophisticated US weapons, carry out deplorable massacres that increase the people’s hatred and ward off any possibilities of peace. All this and other dirty actions are also reported by Western news agencies…

“WASHINGTON, January 12, 2012 — US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta called the actions of four U.S. marines who urinated on corpses in Afghanistan ‘utterly deplorable.’ The video of the act was circulated in the Internet.

“‘I have seen the footage, and I find the behavior depicted in it utterly deplorable,’

“‘This conduct is entirely inappropriate for members of the United States military and does not reflect the standards of values our armed forces are sworn to uphold.’”

In reality, Panetta neither confirms nor denies the action, and anyone, including the Secretary of Defense himself, may harbor doubt.

But it is also extremely inhumane that men, women and children, or an Afghani combatant fighting against the foreign occupation, be murdered by bombs dropped by drone planes. Another very serious incident: dozens of Pakistani soldiers and officials who safeguarded the country’s borders have been killed by these bombs.

Afghani President Karzai stated that the outrage committed against the bodies was “simply inhumane.” He asked for the US government “to urgently investigate the video and apply the most severe punishment to anyone found guilty in this crime.”

Meanwhile Taliban spokespersons declared that “over the last ten years, hundreds of similar acts have been carried out that were not reported”"

One even feels sorry for those soldiers, thousands of kilometers away from their family, friends and country, sent to fight in countries that they might not have even heard of during their school days, where they are assigned the task of killing or dying to enrich transnational companies, arms manufacturers and unscrupulous politicians who each year squander funds needed to feed and educate the uncountable millions of hungry and illiterate people around the world.

Many of these soldiers, victims of the trauma suffered, end up taking their own lives.

Is it an exaggeration to say that world peace is hanging by a thread?

Submitters Bio:

Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz (born August 13, 1926) is a Cuban politician, one of the primary leaders of the Cuban Revolution, the Prime Minister of Cuba from February 1959 to December 1976, and then the President of the Council of State of Cuba until his resignation from the office in February 2008. He is currently the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba.



Americans, especially voters, are going to have to get wise to the fact that the wealthiest are mis-running the land. A spate of pro-American and pro-labor candidates need to be elected in 2012. The wealthy Koch brothers and other powerful and anti-American or anti-labor plutocrats and oligarchs have run the place with their money (and our money) for far too long.–KAS for Prez

More Lockouts as Companies Battle Unions


America’s unionized workers, buffeted by layoffs and stagnating wages, face another phenomenon that is increasingly throwing them on the defensive: lockouts.

From the Cooper Tire factory in Findlay, Ohio, to a country club in Southern California and sugar beet processing plants in North Dakota, employers are turning to lockouts to press their unionized workers to grant concessions after contract negotiations deadlock. Even the New York City Opera locked out its orchestra and singers for more than a week before settling the dispute last Wednesday.

Many Americans know about the highly publicized lockouts in professional sports — like last year’s 130-day lockout by the National Football League and the 161-day lockout by the National Basketball Association — but lockouts, once a rarity, have been used in less visible industries as well.

“This is a sign of increased employer militancy,” said Gary Chaison, a professor of industrial relations at Clark University. “Lockouts were once so rare they were almost unheard of. Now, not only are employers increasingly on the offensive and trying to call the shots in bargaining, but they’re backing that up with action — in the form of lockouts.”

The number of strikes has declined to just one-sixth the annual level of two decades ago. That is largely because labor unions’ ranks have declined and because many workers worry that if they strike they will lose pay and might also lose their jobs to permanent replacement workers.

Lockouts, on the other hand, have grown to represent a record percentage of the nation’s work stoppages, according to Bloomberg BNA, a Bloomberg subsidiary that provides information to lawyers and labor relations experts. Last year, at least 17 employers imposed lockouts, telling their workers not to show up until they were willing to accept management’s contract offer.

Perhaps nowhere is the battle more pitched than at American Crystal Sugar, the nation’s largest sugar beet processor.

Last summer, contract negotiations bogged down, with the company insisting that its workers agree to higher payments for health coverage, more outsourcing and many other concessions. Shortly after the 1,300 unionized workers — spread among five plants in North Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa — voted overwhelmingly to reject those demands, the company locked them out and hired replacement workers.

That was on Aug. 1, more than five months ago, and since then the workers and their families have been scrounging to make ends meet. Some face foreclosure and utility disconnection notices.

American Crystal has hired more than 900 replacement workers to keep its plants running. Federal law allows employers to hire such workers during a lockout, although they cannot permanently replace regular employees. Employers can pay the replacements lower wages, although as is the case with American Crystal, the companies sometimes need to offer higher wages and help pay for housing to attract replacements.

With many private-sector labor unions growing smaller and weaker, and with public-sector unions under attack in numerous states, some employers think the time is ideal to use lockouts, a forceful approach they were once reluctant to use.

Many employers, though, say they have little choice.

Robert Batterman, a labor lawyer who represents employers, said whether it was the N.F.L. or Sotheby’s, which locked out 43 art handlers in Manhattan last July, “the pendulum has swung too far toward the employees, and the employers are looking in these tight economic times to get givebacks.”

“Employers,” he continued, “are using lockouts because unions are reluctant to do what the employers consider reasonable in terms of compromising. Employers are looking to reset their collective bargaining relations.”

After being out of work since Aug. 1, Paul Woinarowicz, a warehouse foreman employed at American Crystal Sugar for 34 years, sees another rationale for lockouts.

Read more at: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/23/business/lockouts-once-rare-put-workers-on-the-defensive.html?_r=2&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha2


“I don’t know who invented the credit card, but I’d like to have a very serious talk with him”

By Ron Hutchcraft

I don’t know who invented the credit card, but I’d like to have a very serious talk with him, because I’m not sure he helped any of us by thinking that this plastic “postponer” was going to help us. With a credit card you go to the store with $100 in cash, you get what you wanted, and you come out with $100 in your wallet. And it feels like, “Hey, that didn’t cost anything.” Wrong! Fantasy land! The bill will come…it always does. You postponed the payment, but you didn’t cancel it. Oh, and by postponing it, that purchase is actually going to cost you more. I think that’s what they call interest. The time lag between what you buy and what you pay can get you into big trouble.

I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about “Credit Card Follies.”

Our word for today from the Word of God; it’s in Galatians 6:7-8. Familiar words, but words that may be right where you’re living right now. Listen, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction. The one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”

Now, why does this statement begin with “don’t be deceived”? Well, maybe it’s because it’s easy to think you’re getting away with your sin, because the consequences, the reaping don’t come immediately. It’s like a credit card. You get what you want to get, do what you want to do, and then there’s a time lag. Because it doesn’t happen immediately – those consequences – you say, “Hey, I got away with it.” Well that’s credit card follies. The passing of time until the consequences come will not lessen the price tag you pay for that sin; in fact, it will make it cost you more.

The farmer doesn’t see immediate results from sowing seed, whether he sows corn or poison ivy. But it will come up. Doing what’s right and what’s wrong have this in common. When you’re doing it, you can’t see where that choice is going to lead. When you have a sexual relationship before marriage, you can’t see the pain and the loss that it will cause in your marriage, but it will.

When you build a pattern of lying, you might get away with the lie; you can’t see what that’s going to do to your reputation, but it will. When you extend a loving hand to someone who’s been your enemy, you can’t see the healing and the blessing that might come from that, but it will.

Since we can’t see where choices lead until it’s too late, do we live by the throw of the dice? Well, that’s where the Bible comes in. It tells us where our decisions lead. When you sow to your sinful nature, it will destroy things. It’s gonna happen! When you sow to things that please the Holy Spirit, you’re going to reap things that will last forever. It’s gonna happen!
Join the Conversation

God’s Word has never been wrong. Oh, some have thought that they’ve cheated the consequences because they didn’t happen immediately. Well, neither do the credit card charges or a farmer’s crops, but they always come. Save yourself a lot of heartache. Believe what God says is going to happen…good or bad. Don’t deceive yourself by thinking you’ll get away with your sin, or that right choices won’t come back to you with interest.

If you’re sowing sin, God’s bill is in the mail. If you’re sowing right living, God’s check is in the mail.


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Is Obama Insane? “Obama to Grant Banks Robosigning Immunity in Showdown With Breakaway AGs”

By Gustav Wynn

Despite months of outcry, the Obama administration is drawing closer to a deal with the five biggest mortgage banks to settle charges of robo-signing and foreclosure fraud. Led by NY AG Eric Schneiderman, six rogue AGs have defied the “50 state” panel, DOJ and HUD, insisting on carrying forward investigations into forged documents and improper procedures but bank-friendly authorities are seeking a more bank-friendly approach.


Without considering the guilt or innocence of the five major banks involved, the Obama Administration is poised to let Wall Street off the hook for foreclosures where as many as one million borrowers were “harmed” by robo-signing practices.

In a three-author article, the Wall Street Journal was abuzz over the impending settlement which will grant immunity for innumerable counts of alleged robo-signing in exchange for loan “haircuts”. Quoting HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, the Journal glowingly touts the deal as the largest principal reduction of the crisis, promising a million borrowers a share of some $19 billion in relief on their loans:

“As part of the proposed settlement, Mr. Donovan said, a “number of families” who were harmed by foreclosure-processing mistakes would be directly compensated by banks.”

The banks would also agree to reforms, as part of the practice of “deferred prosecution” that Obama has continued from the Bush era. Back-room wrangling between Wall Street giants and the SEC or DOJ have shown great tolerance of the reckless behavior that drove the US economy into the ditch.

With banks paying fines that represent small portions of their annual profit totals, the settlements have been considered a nicely manageable cost of doing business. But with a preponderance of industry flacks winding up regulating themselves, public outrage hit new highs this fall.

Finally, we saw NY District Court judge Jed Rakoff change course, infuriated that courts and federal agencies have simply stopped bothering to determine whether or not crimes were committed as they approved a profusion of immunity deals. As a result, Citigroup was instructed to prove their innocence in court risking a lutitude of investor lawsuits should they lose.

Is Anybody Here Sane?

NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has been leading the charge to conduct thorough investigations before negotiating away the people’s right to prosecute. Since last August he has opposed Obama’s proposed settlement with Citigroup, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Ally Financial for robo-signing, an unauthorized practice that had become so common, authorities stopped caring.

The Revolving Door at Holder’s DOJ

As it happens, four of the five banks involved in the settlement were clients of the DC law firm where both Attorney General Eric Holder and Lanny Breuer, the current head of the DOJ’s criminal division, were partners. Reuters and Huffington Post report here that Holder opposed investigations into robosigning despite receiving ample evidence of forged or suspect documents going back to 2010, the same year deputies under both Holder and Breuer went back to work for to the same law firm.

Brokered by a 50-state panel of Attorneys General, the robosigning settlement talks ground to a halt when Schneiderman objected to the immunity provisions, seeking to preserve NY’s rights to criminally prosecute, but also trying to tie together loan origination and securitization fraud allegations onto the same inquiry.

Upholding the rule of law is our best weapon in preventing future economic catastrophe, strongly dissuading criminal or reckless activity, seeking full reparations for victims instead of partial reimbursements and policing an industry plagued by government-industry incest and pay-for-play at the highest levels.

For taking his job seriously, NY’s Eric Schneiderman was booted from the panel, but was later joined by AGs from five other states, most of whom have filed related lawsuits: Kamala Harris (CA), Martha Coakley (MA), Catherine Cortez Masto (NV), Jack Conway (KY) and Beau Biden (DE).

These rogue AGs met January 10, to share notes with some nine other AGs said to be upset with the slow pace of the federal negotiations and the tin ear of the Obama administration. Attending were representatives from NH, HI, MO, MI, MD, MN, OR and MT. Biden’s Deputy AG Ian McConnel suggested the “50 state” AG panel was not truly representing the concerns of all the Attorneys General being asked to sign off on the deal. Follow up meetings were also in the planning, according to Huffington Post coverage.

It’s possible news of an impending settlement came down because the administration felt Schneiderman, Harris and the rogue AGs were leading a growing exodus of other AGs. The stepped-up timetable may be forcing dozens of AGs to hurriedly pick sides in a showdown.

AM radio reports in NYC today suggested New York might ‘lose it’s share of the pie’ because Schneiderman was not onboard. The WSJ spin is palpable, laughably describing the development as a “settlement of an investigation” although no investigation actually has taken place (can you ‘settle’ an investigation?). The WSJ would have New Yorkers believe we are lucky that the banks are offering back a fraction of the money taken through deceptive practice.

From a law and order perspective, Obama’s settlement deal is horrid but it also just looks bad – the Obama administration clearly has favored banks from the outset – and seeks from them the corporate campaign donations that are expected to shatter records this fall.

Schneiderman Finds an Outspoken Ally in DC

But Schneiderman may be armed with new insights after his collaboration with Steve Linick, the Inspector General at the Federal Housing Finance Authority. Also “gone rogue”, Linick has had the audacity to investigate banks after the 2008 collapse in connection with their Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac dealings.

In October, Linick raised eyebrows reporting Fannie & Freddie knew of rampant problems with foreclosure methods as far back as 2003. Quoting Financial Times [paywall], Firedoglake revealed Schneiderman was given FHFA’s finding on a dozen big banks obtained during a wide probe into specious securitization practices.

Linick has been stymied from making criminal referrals because the Obama/Holder DOJ has been so lax in prosecutions, but the FHFA also had a high bar of proof needed to charge fraud at the federal level, because intent must be proven. By contrast, Schneiderman needs only to prove fraud happened, invoking the Martin Act which grants state authorities greater powers because it was designed to protect the NY state pension fund from potential problems before they cause ruin.

The financial industry and their media mouthpieces now look to restore the banks’ advantage in an unbelievably tangled mess, where faulty paperwork could give homeowners decisive leverage in negotiations.

The surging Occupy movement has been raising awareness of unfair foreclosure practices and the deleterious effect of money in politics, attracting younger activists to the cause. By December, almost 50 Members of Congress responded, backing a bill seeking immediate investigations by state AGs instead of this immunity deal. About a year earlier, Maxine Waters led 31 members of Congress in urging the administration to investigate the robosigners, but was summarily ignored.

Now on the campaign trail, Obama is promising to restore fairness to a middle class besieged by lopsided policies, but the President was criticized for lip service and a “show” crackdown in recent weeks, going after CEOs at Fannie/Freddie while blatantly overlooking Wall Street’s criminal enterprises.

For New Yorkers concerned with this issue, we recommend you contact Schneiderman’s office at http://ny.ag.gov or find your state AG here, but above all, write President Obama who “is committed to creating the most open and accessible administration in American history”.
Cross-posted at NYaltnews.com.

[Update] For more texture and background, see my comment below.
[Update II] While updates on radio news continued to announce a deal is getting closer, a new WSJ piece entitled “Obama faces Heat From Left on ‘Robosigning’ Talks” quotes lead negotiator AG Tom Miller of Iowa as backing off, saying “we won’t reach a settlement any time this week”.

Noting both Sen. Sherrod Brown and MoveOn.org has taken up the cause in petitions and protests of Obama campaign sites (!), the WSJ seems to have overlooked Brown’s point – the settlement reportedly will allow banks to use write-downs to transfer some of the losses to investors, including state pension funds:

“The proposed principal reduction program must focus on banks settling with their own money, rather than shifting their financial liability to Private Label Securities (PLS) trusts.”

Naked Capitalism also fleshes out this investor-fleecing plot, adding other valuable ruminations – for example describing overtures Obama may be making to “favored” state AGs to ensure they don’t join the Schneiderman Six.

Tom Perrelli, the #3 at DOJ intimately involved in the talks announced he will be stepping down in March.

Submitters Bio:

(OpEdNews Contributing Editor since October 2006) Inner city schoolteacher from New York, mostly covering media manipulation. I put election/finance reform ahead of all issues but also advocate for fiscal conservatism, ethics in journalism and curbing overpopulation. I enjoy open debate, history, the arts and hope to adopt a third child. Gustav Wynn is a pseudonym, but you knew that. =–> Users may repost my articles, provided it links to the original.


How Newt Gingrich Saved the Military Industrial Complex

“The allegations [by the wealthy DOD-addicted contractors],” Sullivan wrote, “had little substance, but Newt Gingrich, representing a headquarters district of Lockheed Martin, led the Republican attack.

How Newt Gingrich Saved the Military Industrial Complex

By David Swanson

The idea of economic conversion, of retooling and retraining pieces of the military industrial complex to build what other wealthy nations have (infrastructure, energy, education, etc.) converged with the end of the Cold War two decades back.


The idea of economic conversion, of retooling and retraining pieces of the military industrial complex to build what other wealthy nations have (infrastructure, energy, education, etc.) converged with the end of the Cold War two decades back. It was time for a peace dividend as well as a little sanity in public spending. Among the cosponsors of a bill to begin economic conversion in the late 1980s was a guy by the name of Leon Panetta.

Standing in the way was Congressman Newt Gingrich (Republican, Lockheed Martin).

As Mary Beth Sullivan recounts ( http://MIC50.org ),

“On the first day of the opening of the 101st Congress, Speaker [Jim] Wright convened a meeting of members who had proposed economic conversion legislation, and their aids. The purpose was to ensure that all proposals be joined into one, and that this legislation be given priority. To dramatize the importance of this bill, it would be given number H.R. 101.”

Seymour Melman, a leading proponent of the bill recounts what happened:

“Supporters of such an initiative did not reckon with the enormous power of those opposed to any such move toward economic conversion. In the weeks that followed, these vested interests waged a concerted and aggressive campaign in Congress and the national media to bring down Jim Wright over allegations of financial misconduct.”

“The allegations,” Sullivan writes, “had little substance, but Newt Gingrich, representing a headquarters district of Lockheed Martin, led the Republican attack. Sadly, they won. According to Melman, ‘Their media campaign drowned out any further discussion of economic conversion ” A historic opportunity had been destroyed.”

The military industrial complex survived and thrived and is growing even to this moment with plans to grow on into the foreseeable future, even as we’re falsely told it’s being cut back. Our nation trails others in the areas of education, health, retirement security, life expectancy, infant mortality, environmental sustainability, poverty, and — in so far as anyone has measured it — happiness. Instead we have a military that costs as much as the rest of the world’s put together, and much of the rest of the world’s is purchased from our weapons makers. We have aircraft carriers, bombs, missiles, helicopters, bases, drones, and billionaires to make up for our crappy schools and lousy trains.

While I understand how exciting Newt Gingrich’s sex life may be, there may be other things he has to answer for as well.


Submitters Website: http://davidswanson.org

Submitters Bio:

David Swanson is the author of “When the World Outlawed War,” “War Is A Lie” and “Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union.” He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org


NEWS FROM MISSOURI–”When being #1 is not so hot!!!”

Subject: When being #1 is not so hot

Friend –
Tell Our GOP Opponents to Demand Disclosure on Outside Spending If you watch TV sporting events in America, you always see those giant foam hands with the index finger pointing skyward, with a delirious fan shouting “We’re Number 1!”
Unfortunately, in this case we are number one. My campaign for the Senate is now the number one target of the GOP Super PACs, masterminded by Karl Rove, the Koch brothers, and Lord only knows who else. They have spent more money against me than any other Democratic senator in the country.
Two years ago today, the Supreme Court issued one of its most misguided decisions in Citizens United v. FEC, opening the floodgates to massive, unaccountable, and untraceable election spending.
Nowhere is the effect of that decision more evident than in our race for U.S. Senate in Missouri. It is insulting to voters to feed them garbage from unknown sources, and expect those distortions to win out, just because they have so much money.
It’s damaging to our democratic process, and it needs to stop.
So today I’m making it known to anyone who wants to support our campaign or attack our opponents: I demand that you either disclose who funds your ads or keep them off the air.
I’m also sending a letter to our potential Republican opponents, asking them to join me in making this call to any outside groups on their side.
I’d love to have your support when I deliver the message to the Republican candidates. Click here to add your name to my letter now and tell them to demand disclosure for all outside ad spending.
There’s a fundamental issue of trust here. Democracy is about public accountability.
People who have something to say to influence an election must say it openly and publicly.
So if you’re watching TV, and you see one of these ads come on that doesn’t tell you who funded it — don’t believe it. Don’t believe anything it says, no matter who it’s supporting or opposing, even if it seems like it’s trying to help me.
Our campaign doesn’t need that kind of help, and neither do my opponents’ campaigns.
That’s why I’m asking my potential opponents to join me and repudiate anonymous, unaccountable outside spending now. Click here to join me, too.
In the two years since Citizens United became the law of the land, it’s already shown why it’s a grave threat to our democracy. We must keep fighting for what’s right.
Thank you for your support,
Claire McCaskill


SOJOURNERS asked me to ask all of you in America…..

Dear Kevin,

When we’re choosing a president or examining a candidate, it’s fair to ask about their moral compass – how their values affect their decision-making and policy positions. What we shouldn’t do, however, is require that everyone believe in the same doctrine or espouse the same religious traditions.

In the past several months, we’ve seen Christians launch increasingly inappropriate attacks on candidates. From the misguided to the outrageous, here are a few of them:

Rick Perry ran ads stating the current administration had declared a “war on religion.”(1)
Pastor Robert Jeffress attacked Mitt Romney during the primaries by calling Mormonism a “cult.”(2)
Randall Terry, a radical conservative activist, has released ads telling Christians that “when you support Obama … it’s as if your vote is an attack on Jesus himself.”(3)
Mike O’Neal, Kansas House Speaker, sent an email to his Republican colleagues saying that his prayer for President Obama is Psalm 109:8, which reads: “May his days be few; and another take his place of leadership.”(4)

Christians often disagree. Sometimes we become passionate and argue. But these tactics go too far.

Will you sign the pledge below to model a different way to engage faith during this election season?

The Constitution guarantees that there is no religious test in this country, and it needs to stay that way.

We believe, if these attacks are left unchecked, it will only get worse as the election continues. What our country needs is pastors and Christian leaders who are willing to lead by example and show a better path for political engagement.

We need 1,000 faith leaders to sign the pledge so we can get this message across to the national media.

The media has focused on evangelical leaders who consider themselves kingmakers, but we know that there’s an alternative Christian voice in this country.

But we can’t do it alone – we need your partnership. Will you add your name?

In peace,

The Sojourners Team


1 Rick Perry 2012, ‘Strong’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0PAJNntoRgA

2 ‘Mormonism Is A Cult, But A Theological Cult’, The Huffington Post, 11 October 2011 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/10/robert-jeffress-mormonism-_n_1004093.html

3 ‘Randall Terry in graphic anti-abortion political ads: Voting for Obama is attacking Jesus Christ’, God Discussion, 6 December 2011 http://www.goddiscussion.com/86373/randall-terry-in-graphic-anti-abortion-political-ads-voting-for-obama-is-attacking-jesus-christ/

4 ‘Mike O’Neal, Kansas House Speaker, Emails Prayer Some Say Wishes For Obama’s Death’, The Huffington Post, 13 January 2012 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/13/mike-oneal-obama-death-prayer-psalm-109_n_1205059.html


Monday, January 23, 2012


By Kevin Stoda

This is the second of two articles evaluating the Japanese and Taiwanese English Exchange teacher programs from a foreign exchange teacher’s perspective.
As a lifelong international educator, at this junction in their educational development, I am particularly worried about the tendency in East Asian countries to subcontract the incoming- exchange-teacher position to a third party who does not have enough stake (or even significant power of persuasion) in areas of the long-term successes, goals, or overall achievements of these international exchange teacher projects.
The first article I wrote on this topic was entitled “Comparison of Two Large Foreign English Teacher and Internationalization Projects in East Asia” (2011). In this original work, I reviewed some milestones in both Japan and Taiwan concerning their foreign exchange teacher projects and noted some instances of successes in both projects.
In addition, I reviewed some of the shortcoming of both the Japanese and Taiwanese projects’ s—but to a limited degree.
In this article, I will specifically look at the limits imposed on the projects’ attainments and successes which are caused by the growing negative tendency in Asia for educational institutions and governments to outsource responsibility for the incoming foreign exchange teachers. This outsourcing diminishes local sense of efficacy and reduces the participation of stakeholder in the exchange teacher projects.

At the time that the first writing on this topic was published, information on the FET program in Taiwan (written in English) was sparse--and sadly remains surprisingly sparse. However, one important new addition on the internet has been the Ministry of Education (MOE) in Taiwan’s page:
The Taiwanese MOE on this site has made very clear what the goals for would-be-exchange-teachers would be. Namely, the Foreign Exchange Teacher project seeks to ensure that:
(1)--Participating teachers will grow professionally as a result of the exchange of instructional practices and strategies
(2)--Students in Taiwan will gain first-hand knowledge, appreciation, and understanding of the English language
(3)--All participating countries benefit from this collaborative relationship, which [should] enhances international awareness and understanding
In many ways, these three modest goals of the MOE in Taiwan are fairly similar to those of the Assistant Language Teacher and JET programs in Japan and the English Program in Korea (EPIK) projects. (There is also another similar project in China called the NET or Native English Teacher program.)
Specifically, the older projects—the JET and other ALT(Assistant Language Teacher) projects--in Japan which date back into the 1980s were conceived by several different ministries and regional organizations working with each other in and through various Japanese government agencies. These groups of intergovernmental actors were determined to create a long term project and work in coordination with one another to improve Japanese foreign relations and image in the world.
In short, Japan of the 1980s set out to create the world's largest teachers exchange project, the JET Programme, a project largely focused on goals of related to improving international communication. The main path breaker for these foreign exchange teacher projects in Japan today continues to be the JET programme, which still “seeks to foster ties between Japanese citizens (mainly youth) and JET participants at the person-to-person level.”

JETs and ALTs
According to JET websites today, “The Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme aims to promote grass roots internationalization at the local level by inviting young overseas graduates to assist in international exchange and foreign language education in local governments, boards of education and elementary, junior and senior high schools throughout Japan.”
As part of the methodology of achieving these grass-roots goals, the “JET participants are placed in contracting organizations throughout Japan. Contracting organizations consist of 47 prefectural and 18 designated city governments, individual city, town and village governments, and some private schools. JET participants sign their terms and conditions with their contracting organization and as such, they are under the jurisdiction of the local authority which employs them. CLAIR implements the JET Programme at the national level in conjunction with three Japanese Ministries.”
The number of countries sending participants to Japan had risen over the years-- from about one thousand in 1986 to nearly 10, 000 participants in the late 1990s. However, in 2011 the number of participants in the JET Programme had dipped to 4,330 participants (from 39 countries).
One reason there are less JETs today is that many communities in Japan have been allowing private recruiters to vet and hire the incoming assistant language teacher (ALT) or CIRs (Coordinators of International Relations, who must be fluent in Japanese). In addition, a small number of ALTs and CIRs are hired directly through local governments or cities.
The JET Programme is a government sponsored program of Japan. It is functions as the result of a group of bodies that have created a semi-permanent intragovernmental organization that still supports the original goals of the project as established three decades ago. Major JET stakeholders include:
--The Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR), which administers the JET Programme in cooperation with local government organizations;
--Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC);
--the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA);
--Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT).
Moreover, various Japanese school districts at the prefectural-, city and township levels are also actively involved with JETs on a daily basis, too.
According to the official JET website, “CLAIR provides support for both JET participants and their contracting organizations by arranging each JET participant's arrival and holding orientation seminars, as well as providing counseling and distributing a wide variety of essential resource materials and information.” This subcontracting of duties undertaken by CLAIR and various ministries, however, does not involve long-term commitment and contractual relationships that the hiring of private ALTs in Japan, (FETs) Taiwan, and other East Asian countries do. In short, JET participants are treated as local hires in many ways.
Thus, many JETs feel themselves welcomed into their new schools (and are expected to work in a school community like new employees for whom the employers and townsmen in the community should feel a sense of responsible to oversee and to provide a positive work- and cross-cultural exchange). In short, when a new JET arrives, certain staff members, usually a Japanese teacher of English, will be assigned to take care of and help the new JET settle in. These mentors (or kohai) will try and translate important documents and, upon request, will translate the contents of daily office meetings for the JET. They will also provide advise and counsel for those coming to live and work in Japan. Now that the JET project is so old many advanced forms of support have been developed for new JETs and continuing JETs.
A look at the home page for JET will reveal just a few of the many support projects, newsletters, and programs that JET, its participants, and organizers have spawned over the past twenty-six year.
There are numerous magazines, journals, newsletters, chatrooms, blogs, and other means of communication and venues of introspection. There are organizations of volunteers who create movies, lesson plans and are involved in Japan, Japanese culture and abroad in many different ways. This contrasts starkly with the lack of such venues, the lack of such publications and the lack of information provided to new FETs arriving in Taiwan—more than 8 years after the programs creation by the MOE in Taiwan.
On the other hand, in Japan, there are many Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) who do not arrive through the JET scheme. However, they are still vaguely expected to function indirectly in a school community similar to the (current) four thousand JETs. However, the ALTs with JET affiliation are actually not contracted by any public or private school. Instead, the ALTs are employed through recruiters. Thus, from their arrival onwards, there is less of a sense of community ownership and greater sense of distance between work place, source of paycheck, and community than is often the case for those whos are in a JET setting, i.e. where some—albeit at times vague—sense of community ownership for the JET is more likely to prevail.
It is not clear how many “ALTs without JET (or national governmental) affiliation” are functioning in Japan. However, what is certainly clear is that ALTs who are not working in Japan through the JET Programme are often receiving less pay and benefits than are ALTs who do work with JET. In all, such ALTs receive 10 to 20 percent less remuneration than do ALTs hired through the national scheme. I suspect that the pay scales chosen by the Ministry of Education in Taiwan for new FETs is similar to that of ALTs in Japan who are not working in the JET scheme. In other words, salary for FETs initially are quite low as compared to what JETs—many of whom have no teaching degree in their homeland—receive in Japan.
According to the FETIT (Foreign English Teachers in Taiwan) website, the general job description of an FET (Foreign English Teacher) is as follows. The “participating teacher will assist in English language teaching of the school he/she is assigned to, including providing English language instruction to students and teachers, preparing teaching materials, offering assistance in designing effective lesson plans, and participating in activities related to English language education. Each participating teacher's job content may vary in emphasis and proportion from one contracting school to another.”
In addition, “[e]ach participating teacher will work five days a week, eight hours a day. Total instructional hours will not exceed 24 classes (for elementary school teachers) or 22 classes (for junior high school teachers) per week. Class duration is around 40 ~ 50 minutes.”
Before explaining (a) how these duties compare to the expectations in Japan for ALTs and JETs and (b) how these duties be carried about differently among schools within Taiwan--where FETs are actually employed--, I should note that I worked as an ALT (through JET) in rural Niigata prefecture from 1992-1994 and 16 years later worked in Taiwan on the most remote island from the main island for 10 months as an FET.
In Taiwan there are almost no direct local hires working as a FET. Likewise, almost everyone teaching as a FET in Taiwan is hired through a private recruiting agency. In short, in terms of hiring and paycheck, the FET positions resemble the role of privately hired ALTs in Japan. (The major exception is that the money allocated for the FET’s salary are paid for directly from a budget given each school by the MOE, but in most cases the hiring process for the FET almost entirely circumvents any local school decision-maker & any other ministry official who could or should otherwise take ownership for the hire.) From the outset, the local community—or communities--thus has little awareness as to how much stake they should or could have for the FET. They have outsourced the hiring process.
Because the JET in Japan is limited to three years of total employment, the local Japanese teachers of English see the (ALT or) JET as less of a threat to his or her long-term employment. This can be contrasted with Taiwan where reluctance to hire FETs has been the result of labor issues between national and local teachers’ groups and the MOE. One reason for this is that there is fear that a foreigner will take a local Taiwanese’s job away from him.
This fear by local teachers is partially present because the FET program is not an intra-governmental organization--as is the case in Japan. The FET program is run almost entirely at the beck-and-call of the MOE, and local authorities do not even pay a penny (or a Yuan) for the Foreign Exchange Teacher. The FET is thus not necessarily seen by teachers and local administrators as part-and-parcel of a great national and international project involving the future of Taiwan, i.e. in terms of building better foreign and international relations. (This is to be contrasted with the foreign ministry and local authorities in Japan’s involvements with planning and carrying out JET for nearly three decades now.)
It should be noted, however, that, in Taiwan, teachers and educational administrators are not prohibited from striking. Thus, they hold less national political clout than in some countries, so, due to the lack of control at the national and regional levels, individual teachers, teacher organizations, and their local allies in find themselves often in an adversarial position with the MOE. Local Taiwanese officials and teachers, hence, appropriately do what they can to protect local teaching positions. This means that the newcomer FET may find him- or herself hardly integrated into the community in which he or her lives, i.e. as compared to similar cases in Japan, i.e. where intra-communal or intra-governmental cooperation is older and more common than in Taiwan.
NOTE: Some of the secretiveness and go-it-alone mentality of ministries and local schools in Taiwan may have to do with the fact that the country was under martial law for 4 decades (which ended starting in the late 1980s), and fuller democratization of national and local institutions needs to occur before trust can be built or rebuilt across the land. In other words, the country of Taiwan is still sometimes in a siege-mentality and circling-the-wagons comes naturally, i.e. before intra-governmental cooperation often does. This situation has delayed Taiwan’s international relations offensives to lag for decades. This is because an anti-foreigner spirit can raise its head easily; so, there is thus less playroom for a new-comer to move into a community and help “internationalize” it. (This can only change over time and with more activity on the local school and community’s part, i.e. many still don’t see a need to internationalize any faster than they are.)

I was assigned to a work role which fairly well fit the minimal description as outlined by the FETIT website above. I taught in both elementary schools and junior highs—mostly in a team teaching situation, as I did when I taught in Japan in the early 1990s. However, as an established instructor, I was also eventually able to plan and lead classes more—often teaching on my own by the end of the second semester.
Likewise, as in Japan, I saw my work to be similar to that of “a butterfly”. I would regularly observe, use, try-out, and take good ideas from one classroom and one teaching situation and use them in another classroom or in another school with a different colleague and a different set of students on a weekly basis.
In addition, similar to when I was in Japan, I was partially supported in running some of my own language contests. (See link below for an example of such a contest.)
As indicated above, in Japan from 1992-1994 , I had seldom taught lessons by myself as a JET. The program I worked on there at that time involved a greater focus on improving methods of high school English teachers. Many of these teachers were hyper-test-focused instructors as is or was the case in Asia (for millennia already, i.e. dating back to Confucian’s era0 .
In contrast, by the 2010-2011 period in Taiwan, a decade of English TV programs and the spread of the internet had made my job of teaching more communicative-and fun English lessons easier. These motivating kinds of ESL lessons are the staple to which Taiwan elementary schools and young teaching staff are striving to provide during the first 6 years of school for their children.
Sadly, however, the local teachers’ organizations and administrators at the junior high school level were not as supportive of fun English and English immersion. Of my English teaching colleagues, the junior high schools felt that normally only the elite students could or should focus beyond what standardized testing required.
This meant for me that as the final exams approached at the end of the terms and at the end of each school year, I saw less and less of older and weaker students—who were, instead, asked to cram for the exams instead of meeting with me in or out of class. In this aspect, I felt like I was back in the old Japanese rural high schools of the 1980s and 1990s, i.e. before the JET Programme had forever changed language delivery in that East Asian country.

The third article on this topic will be concerning: “CONTRACTORS & SEMI-ADVERSARIAL NEGLECT”


Foreign English Teacher in Taiwan, http://fetit.eng.ntnu.edu.tw/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=43&Itemid=62
“The goals of the JET Programme”, http://www.jetprogramme.org/e/introduction/goals.html
“Three Types of JET Positions”, http://www.jetprogramme.org/e/introduction/positions.html
“Welcome to the JET Programme”, http://www.jetprogramme.org/e/introduction/index.html
“Who supports JET?”, http://www.jetprogramme.org/e/organisations/index.html