April 11th there was an amazing event at the University Club in St Paul, Minnesota. Occupy Minnesota sat down at a table and had a discussion with the Minnesota Tea Party.
Before we get into how it went, an explanation on how it transpired is in order. Members of the Minnesota Tea Party were attempting to contact the Occupy Minnesota Movement. However, since we had been booted out of the “People’s Plaza” outside of Minneapolis City Hall in December by the “liberal progressive” Minneapolis City Council, we had become difficult to locate. It must be noted here that this “progressive” City Council had passed Resolutions in support of Occupy — right before they initiated their crackdown on us.
The Tea Party folks had tried to locate a number of individuals but without any luck. Since I had been quite public in organizing the Street Medics, including having my phone number in public, they then called me with a proposal — a debate between Occupy and The Tea Party regarding the role of government. I quickly contacted my Occupy contacts, and we came up with three people ready, willing and able to participate.
Coleen Rowley, former FBI Whistleblower and Time’s 2002 Person of the Year; Scott Hargarten, who had organized the anti-ALEC Rally at the State Capitol; and myself. We agreed that we would all take the standard statement that depicts any true Occupy event. None of us spoke for Occupy. Instead we all were individuals who worked within the Occupy Movement. After all there had been no GA to solidify our position nor to give us “authority” to speak on behalf of the Occupy Movement. We made this statement before we started to speak.
As a side note, the Tea Party folks had initially advertised my participation as being a US Senate candidate. I contacted them and told them to stop. I explained that I refused to speak at any Occupy events as a Senate candidate, as a matter of principle; that electoral politics should be kept separate from the Occupy Movement as a matter of policy. I told them that their continuation of this advertising was a deal breaker for my participation. They agreed and changed their fliers and Facebook site.
We arrived at the University Club in St Paul. Very nice and very elegant it must be noted. The debate had been sponsored by the Caux Round Table, a business group aligned with The Tea Party Movement.
We met our “opponents” who were Marianne Stebbins, the Minnesota Ron Paul coordinator; Walter Hudson of North Star Tea Party Patriots; and a gentleman whose name I cannot remember who was a Republican party official.
We started off the discussion. We all agreed to have a Tea Party person speak, then an Occupy and so on. Marianne, the Ron Paul person, started first and gave a very eloquent speech.
I was chosen next. As is my style, I gave a very passionate speech about Occupy and the complete bi-partisan betrayal of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. I noted that elected officials from both parties were colluding in this, all while pretending to hate each other. I mentioned the NDAA passage and what this meant. I also pointed out how both political parties were run by elites who marginalized and demonized voices of dissent from within their ranks, and I noted that all kinds of preconceived notions about each other were being shred asunder by this meeting. I laughed and stated that, “See, we Occupy are not just a bunch of dirty, smelly hippies smelling of patcholi oil and not wanting to work, and we see that the Tea Party people here are not a bunch of crazy people.”
I noted the media attempts to marginalize us all, and pointed out the idea of what can be called the “false left-right ideals” that are in place to keep us separated and divided. In a classic case of divide and conquer. I talked about being a left wing supporter of the Ron Paul Campaign For Liberty. I also noted that the Tea Party had been co-opted by the Republican Party establishment and that Occupy was fighting to make sure we were not similarly co-opted. As I talked I noticed many heads nodding in agreement. In fact, the only one that was not was the Republican.
After I finished, I was hit with a plethora of questions and comments. Marianne, the Ron Paul person, looked at me with astonishment and stated, “Oh my God, I never hear of ‘liberals’ speak about the Constitution, and I agree with everything you just said.” I pointed out to her that my views are, in fact, very common but people who think like myself are never given space on the “progressive” media like MSNBC, which are filled with nothing but people talking Democratic Party talking points.
The next person speaking was Walter Hudson of the North Star Tea Party Patriots. He talked about the Tea Party, how it came about and confirmed how the Tea Party was indeed co-opted. He voiced his frustration at that.
Scott Hargarten spoke next. He talked about the complete corruption going on in the government and how it was his opinion that the Occupy Movement sprang in response to that corruption and from the complete unresponsiveness of the government to the People.
The Republican Party operative spoke next. It was actually kind of funny. He tried to talk Republican Party talking points, went on about how, “You have to make a choice. There comes a time for that” and other variations on this theme. It was obvious that they were falling on deaf ears.
Coleen Rowley spoke last, and she spoke about her experiences as an FBI Agent and Whistleblower. Then she talked about just how much the government was indeed dismantling the very basic premise of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, together with looting our Treasury and its ties to continued wars. She also pointed out the bi-partisan complicity in all of this.
After this there was a time for questions. They came fast and furious. The questions were thought-provoking and profound. We all sat around and discussed where we were in the USA today. I remember clearly one point where the Republican guy was trying to make a point. Marianne leapt to a response. She stated, “Oh, hell, no! I am done with this lesser evil nonsense. I am so done with that!”
The entire event can be encapsulated by that event right there.
The poor old Republican was simply outgunned. It was a beautiful and fascinating event. We knew there were things that we all disagreed on. That was implicit and understood, but we also realized there were a lot of basic principles that bound us together.
The divide and conquer has just begun. Now to the meat of the matter. If we had gone in there with a “lesser evil” and “we have to support Obama and the Dems” framing, this entire conversation would have ended up like a Fox News or MSNBC shout fest. Instead it turned into quite something else. The whole time I thought of Chris Hedges and his book Death Of The Liberal Class.
It was a thing of beauty.
Michael Cavlan, an American citizen raised in a Catholic housing project in Northern Ireland, is a decades-long activist for true democracy, anti-war, Social Justice and Media Accountability. Michael is a candidate for the US Semate 2012, Minnesota Open Progressives.
To Save Palestine is to Save the World
I often pondered as to why the name Holy Land was given to Palestine?
What is it about this land that justifies or legitimizes such a description when in fact that land, through myriad of foreign invasions has witnessed some of the cruelest, most barbaric, most unholy, most immoral human behaviour?
My latest visit to my Home-Land Palestine was a heartrending experience with shocking reality; a roller-coaster, a volcano of paradoxical emotions, an extraordinary visual and sensual intensive course, with daily, if not hourly, spiritual lessons.
While the visit itself did not last more than ten days, I however travelled through time, standing on the terrace of my grandparents, I saw what was, what is and what could be.
As I stood on that old terrace of my grandfather’s house, facing the remains of the village of Lifta on one side and the construction of the Jewish colony Givat Shaul with its hideous buildings and eerie cemetery on the other, what I saw was indescribable: a vivid screen shot of two extremes of human existence and endeavour, a visual manifestation of a bizarre reality of two paradoxical worlds narrating the tragedy of what had happened and is still happening to Palestine and the world:
In the horizon, there before my eyes, was written the truth in plain indisputable language.
With poignant Lifta on my left I saw the past: organic, natural, native, rooted, sustainable, gentle, green, alive, flowing, timeless, tender, harmonious, modest, and exquisitely beautiful.
With Givat Shaul on my right I saw the present, violently constructed on the ruins of Deir Yassin by the Jewish-Zionist occupiers; artificial, implanted, pompous, forced, disconnected, rootless, harsh, malignant, cancerous, dead, offensive, aggressive, predatory, foreign, ruthless, and hideous beyond words.
On the terrace of my grandfather’s I saw a Civilization that lived by fostering life VS a Devilization that can only exist by destroying life.
On the terrace of my grandfather I saw a culture of Life being momentarily oppressed by a culture of Death.
On the terrace of my grandfather I understood that for us Palestinians if we are to make it into the future, all we need to do is to vehemently reject the poisonous glitter of the occupiers with all its multifaceted deception: where slavery is sugar-coated with slogans as “modern banking systems”, “global trade”, “free loans”, “buy now pay later” and “economic growth”.
On the terrace of my grandfather I understood that whatever we do we must vehemently oppose any attempt that aims to lure us to “learn” from or mimic the occupier in any shape or form:
Not in the way they run their society, where the selfish concept of “I” and “my interest” are promoted and admired while the foundation of civil human interaction and the altruistic concepts of “we” and the “communal interest” are frowned upon, despised and discouraged as irrelevant backwardness;
Not in the way they conduct business by the use of usury enriching the rich few and impoverishing the masses of poor;
Not in the way they use aggressive agriculture, under the veil of “increasing productivity” they kill the land with chemicals and over-irrigation and destroy the future with GMO sterile seedless uncontrollable crops, they farm animals in the most cruel conditions. Under the veil of modernity they inject seeds of death and un-sustainability, bleeding the land dry of its richness and natural resources;
Not in the way they model their pyramidic hierarchical systems of which millions who languish at the bottom are crushed by a handful who climb to the top.
Not in the way they build colonies brutally carving out the heart of our beautiful landscape, savagely slicing through our precious hills and butchering our millennia-old meadows and mountains only to replace it with prison boxes and creepy tombstones.
On the terrace of my grandfather I saw that a culture of death by its very nature is not sustainable, and cannot possibly survive let alone give birth to life.
On the terrace of my grandfather I saw the manifestation of an exemplary, sustainable, organic, cohesive, open and hospitable civilization, a World Heritage that learned how to peacefully and lovingly coexist and thrive with its neighbours, surroundings and environment.
On the terrace of my grandfather, I understood why and how a land can become Holy and from where the sanctity of this cherished Land emerged.
On the terrace of my grandfather I saw the hands of thousands upon thousands of men women and children tenderly attending the land, lovingly removing the stones from its fields and pathways, where in return I saw the stones write poetry of love and thankfulness with its poppies, daisies and bluebells.
On the terrace of my grandfather, I saw the attentive hearts of my people singing melodies of affection and adoration as they tenderly depicted their poetic verses in sublime harmony with their environment. Their little hand-picked stones thoughtfully arranged, perfectly in tune with the landscape around. Sensitively, compassionately and to the best of human endeavour, mimicking in fine details the Divine-artwork, without causing injury or harm to whatever lays in the way. Out of stones, rocks, flowers and trees they have created a timeless panorama of breathtaking beauty.
On the terrace of my grandfather, I saw the hands of generations of my ancestors patiently caressing its sleepy hills and artistically painting the landscape with the brush of pure love, swathing it with Holiness and Sacredness, preserving its Divine-given authenticity and protecting life that dwells on it.
On the terrace of my grandfather I saw breathing homes with flowery grassy roofs, I saw homes with eyes, homes with hearts, homes that smile and weep, homes that rejoice meeting her loved ones and that mourn those whom have been lost.
On the terrace of my grandfather I saw homes that welcome its dwellers with hugs and kisses and put its children to sleep by tales of love, magical bedtime stories and singing prophetic lullabies.
On the terrace of my grandfather, I finally understood the meaning of the name Holy Land, Blessed Land, Sacred Land and why that name was bestowed on our Palestine.
On the terrace of my grandfather, I saw Love of Life, Love of Land and Love of Humanity beautifully and supremely intertwined with spirituality, religiously protecting all that is around, thus creating a Holy Land, with excruciating beauty and dazzling glory, a Sacred Landscape, a Majestic Prayer and a Soul-Capturing Sanctuary with infinite charm and mesmerizing grace.
On the terrace of my grandfather, I saw how is it possible for humanity to be saved, to survive and thrive by saving and following the example of Palestine.
On the terrace of my grandfather I understood that the day of their demise is a stone throw away and the day of our Liberation is not far anymore.
On the terrace of my grandfather I realised that stopping and reversing the destruction of this land, and its inevitable Full Liberation, is not only necessary and urgent from the standpoint of Justice. Palestine is far more.
Palestine and its ominously peaceful and sustainable model is NOT a mere nostalgic ideal, but the most perfect source of inspiration and blueprint to design a futuristic, yet solidly rooted and time tested society, in which human interaction, environmental intervention, timeless architecture, agriculture, ethical commercial exchange and spiritual quest are the peak of human achievement. They are not incompatible with contemporary technology and population growth, they are the safeguards and KEY to a sustainable, peaceful and brighter future.
Whether some like it or not, in order to rescue this Sacred World Heritage, it will need a difficult surgery: the removal of the invading death culture that has shown its colossal failure to integrate the Land and its People.
Beauty and Humanity shall prevail.
I warmly invite the world along with my fellow Palestinians to rediscover and embrace our Palestinian culture of Life following the flowering footsteps of the Prophets of this Holy Land, Palestine.
Calgary – Activists and Academics are increasingly questioning the purpose of Canada having ‘hate speech’ laws to criminalize certain forms of speech.
Critics say such laws are applied inconsistently and often serve the interests of powerful groups whilst doing nothing to prevent the tide of Islamophobia that has swept Canada since the disputed events of 9/11.
‘I can tell you that headline wasn’t in Calgary….it could be in the National Post but I can tell you that didn’t originate in Calgary’
That was the response of Rick Hanson, Chief of the Calgary police when confronted by Press TV with a hateful headline claiming that Iraqis worship the devil, printed by one of Canada’s most prominent broadsheet newspapers. The question was prompted after the police chief had given a speech in which he had affirmed his desire to use controversial anti-Hate Crime legislation to stamp out prejudice and discrimination in the city of Calgary. Canada has Hate Speech laws which criminalize certain forms of speech that are deemed to be illegitimate by the Canadian state.
Press TV was interested to discover whether or not Hate Speech laws were being applied consistently in Canada, even to powerful elites who seek to demonize Muslims. The police chief’s response was terse.
Critics say that Hate Speech laws are not applied consistently in Canada as every day we see the mainstream media stigmatizing and dehumanizing Middle Eastern people with impunity. On the other hand those anti-racists who criticize Israel’s policies of genocide and apartheid are finding their freedom of speech to do so increasingly challenged with powerful pro-Israel lobbyists seeking to conflate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.
Press TV got in touch with a prestigious Canadian professor and member of the Canadian Islamic Congress who had tried but failed to invoke Canada’s Hate-Speech laws to prosecute a journalist in Canada who had disseminated anti-Islamic conspiracy theories in an article published in a prominent Canadian magazine called MacCleans.
It is clear that Hate Speech laws are controversial. And when such laws are being applied inconsistently and in a politicized or ethnicized manner experts warn that they can only have a negative effect on society.
Former Shin Bet director Yuval Diskin told an Israeli audience that he had no confidence in the leadership of Bibi Netanyahu or Ehud Barak:
“My major problem is that I have no faith in the current leadership, which must lead us into an event on the scale of war with Iran or regional war,” Diskin told the “Majdi Forum,” a group of local residents that meets to discuss political issues.
“I don’t believe in either the prime minister or the defense minister. I don’t believe in a leadership that makes decisions based on messianic feelings,” he added.
Diskin deemed Barak and Netanyahu “two messianics – the one from Akirov…and the other from…Caesarea,” he said, referring to the residences of the two politicians.
“Believe me, I have observed them from up close… They are not people who I, on a personal level, trust to lead Israel to an event on that scale and carry it off. These are not people that I would want to have holding the wheel in such an event,” Diskin said.
“They are misleading the public on the Iran issue. They tell the public that if Israel acts, Iran won’t have a nuclear bomb. This is misleading. Actually, many experts say that an Israeli attack would accelerate the Iranian nuclear race,” said the former security chief.
Considering that this was the fellow who ran Israel’s domestic security services during the entire reign of the current government, I’d say his dismissal of Netanyahu’s judgment and leadership is, or should be, a lightning bolt for Israelis. What’s more, Meir Dagan, the former Mossad chief has already voiced almost precisely the same views. Until now, Diskin had maintained a discreet public silence on the issues though it was common knowledge that he joined Dagan in opposing an Iran attack. This latest salvo will (hopefully) open the floodgates of criticism even farther.
Also, considering that neither the prime minister or defense minister are religious, attributing messianic motives to both should also be a warning. What is any leader, let alone one who doesn’t profess religious beliefs, doing falling back on such wild-eyed notions to govern national policy? Why does any leader believe his actions will save not just Israel, but the entire Jewish people?
These are the thoughts of megalomaniacs, not national leaders. And if they are national leaders they will lead to national catastrophe, rather than national salvation.
- Former Shin Bet chief: Netanyahu not interested in peace talks (theuglytruth.wordpress.com)
- Following criticism of Netanyahu, Israeli ministers attack former Shin Bet chief (haaretz.com)
Consumer Advocate Ralph Nader today called for Postmaster General Donahoe’s resignation. Several consumer non-profits joined him in this letter, including Public Citizen, Consumer Action, the Gray Panthers, and Essential Information. The Postmaster General Donahoe is “actively presiding over the demise of one of our country’s greatest founding institutions,” said Nader.
In December 2011, Congressman DeFazio called for the Obama administration to fire Postmaster General Donahoe. From the House floor he said, “This guy, this so-called postmaster general, should be fired because of a lack of any imagination or initiative…He’s proposing the death knell for the great United States Postal Service.”
In his letter, Nader drew attention to the fact that, if the U.S. Postal Service was not required by Congress to prepay retiree health benefits of the next 75 years by 2012, nearly 80 percent of the USPS’s deficit would be eliminated. Nader stated that this is “an imposition unheard of in either the corporate world or by any other government agency.” He continued by pointing out that the federal government even owes the U.S. Postal Service $80 billion in overpayments that the USPS has made to two retirement funds, the Civil Service Retirement System and the Federal Employees Retirement System.
Yet, Nader notes, the Postmaster General remains virtually silent on these issues. Instead, he says, the Postmaster General makes “the case for shutting rural post offices, slashing 150,000 postal employees’ jobs, ending Saturday delivery, and extending delivery dates as if they do not produce a spiral of decline and loss of customers who will not come back.”
“In a phrase, you are not up to the job!” Nader concludes.
A full copy of the letter can be found here.
For More Information Contact:
Ralph Nader or Jeff Musto
In his memoir coming out this month, the Central Intelligence Agency officer who ordered the destruction of the CIA’s torture tapes defends his actions, saying he was erasing “some ugly visuals.”
Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., the former director of the CIA’s secretive interrogation and detention program during the George W. Bush administration, had 92 tapes destroyed in 2005 after the media exposed the controversial program targeting ‘al-Qaeda’ and other ‘suspected terrorists.’
“I wasn’t going to sit around another three years waiting for people to get up the courage,” Rodriguez wrote in his book, Hard Measures.
He adds that he was “just getting rid of some ugly visuals.” Rodriguez was concerned with protecting the identities of the agents who could be seen in the videos and with the negative effect on the reputation of the CIA if the truth came out. He continues to seem clueless about the intent of the United States Constitution.
He even went so far as to write that “I cannot tell you how disgusted my former colleagues and I felt to hear ourselves labeled ‘torturers’ by the president of the United States.” The irony of torturers being upset at being called torturers seems to have escaped Rodriguez.
Made at a secret CIA prison in Thailand, the tapes showed the waterboarding of ‘terrorists’ Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Nashiri.
President Barack Obama ordered an investigation of the program and the tapes. But the U.S. Department of Justice decided to not pursue charges against Rodriguez or any other CIA agent.
- Crime boasting for profit (salon.com)
… Destruction of these tapes was so controversial because it seemed so obviously illegal. At the time the destruction order was issued, numerous federal courts — as well as the 9/11 Commission — had ordered the U.S. Government to preserve and disclose all evidence relating to interrogations of Al Qaeda and 9/11 suspects. Purposely destroying evidence relevant to legal proceedings is called “obstruction of justice.” Destroying evidence which courts and binding tribunals (such as the 9/11 Commission) have ordered to be preserved is called “contempt of court.” There are many people who have been harshly punished, including some sitting right now in prison, for committing those crimes in far less flagrant ways than was done here. In fact, so glaring was the lawbreaking that the co-Chairmen of the 9/11 Commission — the mild-mannered, consummate establishmentarians Lee Hamilton and Thomas Kean — wrote a New York Times Op-Ed pointedly accusing the CIA of “obstruction” (“Those who knew about those videotapes — and did not tell us about them — obstructed our investigation”). …