Archive for February 27th, 2012
Muslims Insult The Tenets Of Islam By Committing Murder Over Accidentally Burned Quarans By Bryian Revoner
Most sane people don’t condone the burning of any religious text, but due to what seems to be periodically inevitable, some idiot will appear out of nowhere to burn a Holy Book like the Quran and purposely draw attention to themselves. For example, the glory-hound pastor from Florida named Terry Jones who caused an international uproar after he boasted about his intentions to burn the Quran before he actually went through with his meaningless, inflammatory plans. But based on reports, this current Quran burning at a NATO base was allegedly an “inadvertent mistake.” Nevertheless, it did not stop more international outrage from Muslims, especially in Afghanistan where over 20 people have been killed, including 2 American soldiers.
Just as President Obama issued a written apology for these most recent Quran burnings, when Pastor Terry Jones went on his religious, witch-hunt to burn the Quran, the United States strongly condemned Jones’ actions and his rhetoric, which included a significant number of writers and journalists. And when the unsightly video of U.S. Marines urinating on what appeared to be dead Taliban fighters surfaced, the United States once again strongly condemned the actions, along with most writers and journalists, which is not bad for a bunch Most sane people just don’t go around stirring up hornet’s nests through some misguided attempt to form a better appreciation of the agony of a sting, despite presidential nominee Rick Santorum’s decree that President Obama should not have apologized. If people used their common sense half as much as they like to parade around on their religious high-horses, it would become brazenly apparent that the United States does not encourage this Quran burning type of behavior. Otherwise, there would be Quran burnings all throughout the country, because the mere size of the U.S. makes it very difficult to keep these kinds of activities under wraps, especially within this YouTube/social media world that we now live in. In all likelihood, there could be Quran burnings in the streets everyday here in the U.S., and the fact that there are not should tell the Islamic world that most sane people have decided to leave well-enough alone, and that should count for something. The fact that it obviously does not says more about the ideologue than the skeptic!
And as for apologizing, it never hurts to try to take the high-road whenever possible, even if the low-road is all that you’ll probably get in return. That’s politics, and Santorum knows that better than anyone. After all, he’s the one who just talked about taking one for the team during this past Republican debate in Arizona, when he was asked about some of his questionable, supportive, voting tendencies in regards to Planned Parenthood and No Child Left Behind. Well Santorum, sometimes apologies have to be issued for the team.
Based on the worldwide protests and the mindless killings that always follows, retaliatory fear usually plays a major role in the extreme hesitancy to burn religious texts, specifically the Quran, and it is that same fear that also causes any kind of criticism, constructive or otherwise, to be timidly whispered at best, especially when laid at the feet of Islam, but not this time, at least not by me, because no one is above criticism, not even angry, protesting Muslims.
So to the bungling acts that allowed for the Quran to be burned, even if it was inadvertent, my advice would be to keep your eyes on whatever you have in mind of striking a match to or pouring gasoline on, because fire does not discriminate, and the results are almost always fatally final. Now to the protesting Muslims and other religious fanatics around the world, my advice would be to hold your horses for a change, and refocus and redistribute your anger more evenly. It’s easy to go out into the streets and act like fools based on the popularity momentum of Islam, but it requires a more meaningful effort to step up to the genocidal plate and protest with that same passionate fury for the essence of Islam.
In other words, protesting the burning of the Quran is easy, but protesting the non-discriminatory slaughtering of human lives in Syria by the Bashar al-Assad regime is a tad bit more strenuous politically and theoretically. If there was a plethora of pictures of Middle-Eastern children found shot to death, burned alive, chopped up with their genitals sliced off at the hands of the United States, the Islamic cry to fight the westernized infidels would be deafening—not to mention the fact that public outcry here in the U.S. would be just as deafening!
What the al-Assad regime has done and is doing to the Syrian people, most of them probably Muslims, is unacceptable. It’s worse than any cartoon about Muhammad, and it’s worse than any Quran burning. If Bashar al-Assad has not graduated into infidelity at this point, then what will have to happen for that realization to finally be reached to the point where that same cartoon Muhammad anger and all of the Quran burning anger is matched by the fiery anger that should be inflaming the actions of his bloody regime?
Any organization that would consistently and blindly put the politics of its ideology ahead of the welfare of its people deserves to be criticized and is no club that will ever gain my membership, and that goes for Christianity, Islam, political parties or any other groupings. People burn; ideologies do not! It’s easier to protect the one that doesn’t burn even when it is burned, because the path of least resistance is usually the path with the most traffic, because in the end the power lies in the ideology, and that’s why it is so vehemently defended.
And if you don’t believe that, just ask yourself why the ideology/book sparks so much more outrage than these vicious, sometimes genocidal crackdowns, whether it was the Moammar Gadhafi regime, the Ahmadinejad regime, the Hosni Mubarak regime, or the current Bashar al-Assad regime! Shouldn’t the burning of actual Muslims be just as disheartening as the burning of the Quran, or is it that people just don’t care as long as it’s not their ass that’s on fire or being riddled by shelling? And if that’s not an infidel caricature, it most definitely should be!
© 2012, agentleman.
5 Reasons You Should Never Agree to a Police Search (Even if You Have Nothing to Hide)
From the streets of the Bronx to the suburbs of the Nation’s Capital, you never have to look hard to find victims of the bias and corruption delivered by the drug war.
Do you know what your rights are when a police officer asks to search you? If you’re like most people I’ve met in my eight years working to educate the public on this topic, then you probably don’t.
It’s a subject that a lot of people think they understand, but too often our perception of police power is distorted by fictional TV dramas, sensational media stories, silly urban myths, and the unfortunate fact that police themselves are legally allowed to lie to us.
It wouldn’t even be such a big deal, I suppose, if our laws all made sense and our public servants always treated us as citizens first and suspects second. But thanks to the War on Drugs, nothing is ever that easy. When something as stupid as stopping people from possessing marijuana came to be considered a critical law enforcement function, innocence ceased to protect people against police harassment. From the streets of the Bronx to the suburbs of the Nation’s Capital, you never have to look hard to find victims of the bias, incompetence, andcorruption that the drug war delivers on a daily basis.
Whether or not you ever break the law, you should be prepared to protect yourself and your property just in case police become suspicious of you. Let’s take a look at one of the most commonly misunderstood legal situations a citizen can encounter: a police officer asking to search your belongings. Most people automatically give consent when police ask to perform a search. However, I recommend saying “no” to police searches, and here are some reasons why:
1. It’s your constitutional right.
The 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects us against unreasonable searches and seizures. Unless police have strong evidence (probable cause) to believe you’re involved in criminal activity, they need your permission to perform a search of you or your property.
You have the right to refuse random police searches anywhere and anytime, so long as you aren’t crossing a border checkpoint or entering a secure facility like an airport. Don’t be shy about standing up for your own privacy rights, especially when police are looking for evidence that could put you behind bars.
2. Refusing a search protects you if you end up in court.
It’s always possible that police might search you anyway when you refuse to give consent, but that’s no reason to say “yes” to the search. Basically, if there’s any chance of evidence being found, agreeing to a search is like committing legal suicide, because it kills your case before you even get to court.
If you refuse a search, however, the officer will have to prove in court that there was probable cause to do a warrantless search. This will give your lawyer a good chance to win your case, but this only works if you said “no” to the search.
3. Saying “no” can prevent a search altogether.
Data on police searches are interesting, but they don’t show how many searches didn’t happen becausea citizen said no. A non-search is a non-event that goes unrecorded, giving rise to a widespread misconception that police will always search with or without permission.
I know refusing searches works because I’ve been collecting stories from real police encounters. The reality is that police routinely ask for permission to search when they have absolutely no evidence of an actual crime. If you remain calm and say no, there’s a good chance they’ll back down, because it’s a waste of time to do searches that won’t hold up in court anyway.
4. Searches can waste your time and damage your property.
Do you have time to sit around while police rifle through your belongings? Police often spend 30 minutes or more on vehicle searches and even longer searching homes. You certainly can’t count on officers to be careful with valuables or to put everything back where they found it. If you waive your 4th Amendment rights by agreeing to be searched, you will have few legal options if any property is damaged or missing after the search.
5. You never know what they’ll find.
Are you 100 percent certain there’s nothing illegal in your home or vehicle? You can never be too sure. A joint roach could stick to your shoe on the street and wind up on the floorboard. A careless acquaintance could have dropped a baggie behind the seat. Try telling a cop it isn’t yours, and they’ll just laugh and tell you to put your hands behind your back. If you agreed to the search, you can’t challenge the evidence. But if you’re innocent and you refused the search, your lawyer has a winnable case.
Remember that knowing your rights will help you protect yourself, but no amount of preparation can guarantee a good outcome in a bad situation. Your attitude and your choices before, during, and after the encounter will usually matter more than your knowledge of the law. Stay calm no matter what happens, and remember that you can always report misconduct after things settle down.
Finally, please don’t be shy about sharing this information with your friends and family. Understanding and asserting your rights isn’t about getting away with anything, and it isn’t about disrespecting police either. These rights are the foundation of freedom in America, and they get weaker whenever we fail to exercise them.
© 2012, agentleman.
Schooling Santorum By DICK CAVETT
Truth be told, I’d planned on a lighthearted topic for today.
But in line with last time’s subject — the deleterious effect the news can have on your health — those threats to the blood pressure continue with no shortage of headache and stomach-acid-stirring topics to jostle our wellness, if not our actuarial tables. A few minutes of CNN this morning did it.
Just about any pair of random news items are enough to make you reach for the Bisodol. Today’s two: the stupidity of the Koran burning by American military personnel and our baffling, cowering impotence in the face of Bashar al-Assad’s bloody slaughter, in Syria, of man, woman and child — victims apparently not as worthy of our caring, or of life, as their counterparts were in Libya. You can get ill from this.
And there’s still Rick Santorum, alas. As Joan Rivers might say, “Please!!”
We learn from him that contraception is a sin. Giving birth (sorry) to the possibly rude question of how the Santori as a couple and as obedient Catholics managed to have only eight children over all those years if they didn’t … well, never mind.
Remember the “rhythm” method, humorously called “Vatican Roulette”? A friend of mine says he knows full well that he and his sister “owe our existence to it.” An apt name, roulette being the worst-odds sucker game in the casino: Let’s do it, dear. The odds are only 37 to 1 against us.
Maybe they cheated now and then. The thought might not have arisen were I not typing this shortly after one of the most soundly defeated incumbent senators in recent history spent part of his time at the — one dearly hopes — final “debate” reeling off the number of times he was forced to vote contrary to his beliefs!
We’re taught in early school days by our wise teachers and kindly parents that it is not nice to comment on or make fun of people’s appearance. But does Santorum look like a president?
Not that you have to be of majestic aspect, I suppose, but he’s really pushing it. When you think of Lincoln or F.D.R., to name but two, Santorum in comparison looks like someone who’d play a character called “Ricky” in a mildly amusing sitcom.
Try to picture Rick’s countenance Photoshopped into that famous picture from World War II, sitting in Roosevelt’s place, side by side with Stalin and Churchill in Yalta. It would look like two redwoods and a spirea bush. Is that bland Santorum visage suitable for Mount Rushmore? That would look like The Great Four and Pee-wee Herman.
The sweater vests don’t help.
My soul similarly rolls over and groans whenever Santorum uses the phrase “home-schooling.” I first heard about it in the dim days when the John Birch Society was a going thing. (Young folks, I don’t blame you for not believing that this organization held that President Dwight Eisenhower was a “conscious, dedicated agent” of the Soviet Union.) Some benighted McCarthy-admiring parents decided to pluck their children from the clutches of “commies” teaching our kiddies their godless doctrine.
I have lost track of distant relatives of mine, parents who also snatched their young kids from school and, for their remaining school years, stuffed them mainly with the Bible. (I’d love to know how they did on their SATs.)
I feel sorry for the poor kids whose parents feel they’re qualified to teach them at home. Of course, some parents are smarter than some teachers, but in the main I see home-schooling as misguided foolishness.
Teaching is an art and a profession requiring years of training. Where did the idea come from that anybody can do it? How many parents can intuit how to do it? (Pardon unconscious rhyme there.) My parents were teachers and the thought of home-schooling sent them rolling before they were in their graves. Especially when parents, complaining of their kids’ schooling, wrote in report card responses things like “I am loathe to critacize…”; “my childs consantration”; “normalicy”; “my daughter’s abillaties”; “her examatian grades”; “she should of done better”; “greater supervizion,” etc., into the night.
To deny kids the adventure and socialization of going to school, thereby missing out on the activities, gossip, projects, dances, teams, friendships and social skills developed — to deny kids this is shortsighted and cruel. I think of the mournful home-school kid watching his friends board the school bus, laughing, gossiping and enjoying all that vital socialization we call schooldays.
Besides, aren’t you arguably a better person for having gone to school rather than having it funneled into you by dreary old Ma or Pa in their faded bathrobes at home?
And what is the argument for it? For some, is it to protect their innocent ones from hearing words like, oh, “sex” and “contraception”? From forced association with those less desirable ethnically? Maybe it’s to keep them safe from radical notions like the idea that fossils and carbon-dating aren’t put there by the Devil to fool the scientists, but prove the world has billions, not thousands, of years on it.
Surely, there are parents caught in mediocre school districts with little choice but to give their kids the best shot at a rounded exposure to arts, letters, the sciences, and so on, and are admirably able to do so at home — thereby sparing them the teachers who can’t spell and who tell the kids, as in one friend’s case, that the band around the center of the earth on the globe is called “the equation.”
Who knows what sorts of fears haunt the minds of home-schooling parents? I guess it’s always possible, when Sally or Billy is walking to school, that a dark figure might leap out of the shrubbery, maniacally shrieking, “There’s climate change!”
Again, teaching takes skill and education and dedication. Home schooling as an idea is on a par with home dentist
© 2012, agentleman.
Massive Leak Reveals Criminality, Paranoia, Among Corporate Titans
Dow pays “strategic intelligence” firm to spy on Yes Men and grassroots activists. Takeaway: movement is on the right track!
LONDON – February 26 – WikiLeaks begins to publish today over five million e-mails obtained by Anonymous from “global intelligence” company Stratfor. The emails, which reveal everything from sinister spy tactics to an insider trading scheme with Goldman Sachs (see below), also include several discussions of the Yes Men and Bhopal activists. (Bhopal activists seek redress for the 1984 Dow Chemical/Union Carbide gas disaster in Bhopal, India, that led to thousands of deaths, injuries in more than half a million people, and lasting environmental damage.)
Many of the Bhopal-related emails, addressed from Stratfor to Dow and Union Carbide public relations directors, reveal concern that, in the lead-up to the 25th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster, the Bhopal issue might be expanded into an effective systemic critique of corporate rule, and speculate at length about why this hasn’t yet happened—providing a fascinating window onto what at least some corporate types fear most from activists.
“[Bhopal activists] have made a slight nod toward expanded activity, but never followed through on it—the idea of ‘other Bhopals’ that were the fault of Dow or others,” mused Joseph de Feo, who is listed in one online source as a “Briefer” for Stratfor.
“Maybe the Yes Men were the pinnacle. They made an argument in their way on their terms—that this is a corporate problem and a part of the a [sic] larger whole,” wrote Kathleen Morson, Stratfor’s Director of Policy Analysis.
“With less than a month to go [until the 25th anniversary], you’d think that the major players—especially Amnesty—would have branched out from Bhopal to make a broader set of issues. I don’t see any evidence of it,” wrote Bart Mongoven, Stratfor’s Vice President, in November 2004. “If they can’t manage to use the 25th anniversary to broaden the issue, they probably won’t be able to.”
Mongoven even speculates on coordination between various activist campaigns that had nothing to do with each other. “The Chevron campaign [in Ecuador] is remarkably similar [to the Dow campaign] in its unrealistic demand. Is it a follow up or an admission that the first thrust failed? Am I missing a node of activity or a major campaign that is to come? Has the Dow campaign been more successful than I think?” It’s almost as if Mongoven assumes the two campaigns were directed from the same central activist headquarters.
Just as Wall Street has at times let slip their fear of the Occupy Wall Street movement, these leaks seem to show that corporate power is most afraid of whatever reveals “the larger whole” and “broader issues,” i.e. whatever brings systemic criminal behavior to light. “Systemic critique could lead to policy changes that would challenge corporate power and profits in a really major way,” noted Joseph Huff-Hannon, recently-promoted Director of Policy Analysis for the Yes Lab.
Among the millions of other leaked Stratfor emails are some that reveal dubious financial practices, including an apparent insider trading scheme with Goldman Sachs Managing Director Shea Morenz, who joined Stratfor’s board of directors and invested “substantially” more than $4 million in the scheme, called StratCap. “What StratCap will do is use our Stratfor’s intelligence and analysis to trade in a range of geopolitical instruments,” wrote Stratfor CEO George Friedman in September 2011. StratCap was designed through a complex offshore share structure to appear legally independent, but Friedman assured Stratfor staff otherwise: “Do not think of StratCap as an outside organization. It will be integral… It will be useful to you… We are already working on mock portfolios and trades.” (StratCap has been due to launch in 2012, though that could now change.)
Other emails show Stratfor techniques of a truly creepy Spy vs. Spy sort: “[Y]ou have to take control of him. Control means financial, sexual or psychological control,” wrote CEO Friedman recently to an employee, Reva Bhalla, on how to exploit an Israeli intelligence informant providing information on Chavez’s cancer. (Stratfor’s “confidential intelligence services” clients include, besides Dow and Union Carbide, the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Marines, the US Defense Intelligence Agency, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon.)
Perhaps most entertainingly of all, the email trove reveals that Stratfor’s “Confederation Partners”—an unethical alliance between Stratfor and a number of mainstream journalists—are referred to informally within Stratfor as its “Confed Fuck House.” (Another discovery: Coca Cola was spying on PETA. More such gems are sure to surface as operatives sift through the 5.5 million emails.)
A number of the remaining Yes Men-related emails take the form of reports on public appearances by the Yes Men, such as one that describes one audience comprised of “art students on class assignments and free entertainment.” Another notes that “The Yes Men tweeted about the US Chamber of Commerce ‘plotting forged emails, documents to trick (AND smear) opponents,'” a reference to an apparent plot to discredit Chamber opponents using forged documents, as revealed when thousands of emails were recently leaked by Anonymous from cyber-security firm HB Gary. Yet another discusses Alessio Rastani, the Wall Street trader widely mistaken for Yes Man Andy Bichlbaum, who proclaimed, live on the BBC, that “governments don’t rule the world, Goldman Sachs rules the world.”
“Rastani was right,” said the real Andy Bichlbaum five months later. “But it’s now very clear that it doesn’t have to be that way anymore.”
The Yes Men and representatives from the Bhopal Medical Appeal will join Julian Assange of Wikileaks at a press conference at noon today, Feb. 27, at the Frontline Club in London.
© 2012, agentleman.
Why I Broke Up With Bank of America
Wall Street banks are trashing our economy and our environment in the name of their own profits—do you buy into their corruption and greed?
“Someday the workers will take possession of your city hall, and when we do, no child will be sacrificed on the altar of profit!” – Mary Harris “Mother” Jones
Last November, 2011, I finally made the move to ditch the corporate bank account I’ve had since I was eight years old and opened an account at a local, sustainable bank. So did thousands of Americans during Bank Transfer Day, resulting in over $4 billion dollars moved out of big banks and into credit unions.
Do you know where your money spends the night? Wall Street banks are trashing our economy and our environment in the name of their own profits—do you buy into their corruption and greed?
It’s time to Pink Slip Big Banks and invest in a more peaceful and just future by moving your money! How? I used the Move your Money tool to find a listing of local banks and credit unions in my area. I selected New Resources Bank in San Francisco, the same bank that Rainforest Action Network and CODEPINK use. After opening my new account, I used the 7 Simple Steps To Move Your Checking Account checklist to really move my money, and finally, I proudly visited a B of A branch and presented them with a Pink Slip – they were friendly enough about losing my business (I admit I’m no millionaire so it wasn’t a big loss, though it was the principle of the thing).
This year on International Women’s Day, March 8th, I plan to join the women of the 99% at Break Up Bank of America actions. The Women Occupy Call to Action is an inspiring statement of solidarity with the Occupy Movement and with the thousands of homeowners across the country who have been affected by home foreclosure. Women Occupy is supporting the women-led campaigns of Public Citizen and Rainforest Action Network, to hold Bank of America accountable for the predatory economic policies that are destroying our families and communities. On March 8th activists in dozens of cities from NYC to LA are planning to occupy Bank of America branches by staging Super(s)hero Showdowns against Bandit of America, holding Really REALLY free markets to show what a feminist gift economy can look like, creating Walk in Our Shoes displays with pairs of shoes to illustrate the real people impacted by home foreclosure, job loss, and environmental destruction, and other creative tactics. Plus Women Occupy is asking people to cancel their big bank accounts on March 8th and move their money to local banks or credit unions. Not that another reason is needed to move your money, but why not do it on a big day of action and in solidarity with the 51% of the 99%: women?!
Since its inception in the early twentieth century, International Women’s Day has been rooted in the struggle for economic justice, growing out of local demonstrations by women workers demanding shorter hours, better pay, voting rights, and an end to discrimination. Women have long been the prime targets of predatory bank policies and economic collapse: women are 32% more likely than men to receive sub‑prime mortgages and Latina and African-American women borrowers are most likely to receive sub‑prime loans at every income level. Women make up 51% of the world’s population but 70% of the world’s poor. We perform 66% of the world’s work, produce 50% of the food, but earn 10% of the income and own less than 1% of the world’s property. Our work continues to be unpaid, underpaid and undervalued, making us invisible to economic indicators and ineligible for the rewards reaped by the most “productive” members of society. It’s time we turned the tables and started going after the big banks! And what better suspect than the biggest of the big banks – Bank of America?
Why target Bank of America? As of June 2010, Bank of America had $88 billion worth of foreclosed homes in its portfolio — more than any other mortgage servicer in the country. In order to please investors they even started kicking people out of homes faster than other banks, instead of working with them to refinance or restructure their mortgages. Despite having higher average credit scores than men, women are more likely to receive subprime mortgages that leave them vulnerable to home foreclosure. Bank of America had a hand in the worst of the subprime lending excesses, providing financing to four of the five largest subprime lenders during the years prior to the crash. Together, these firms issued over $320 billion in subprime loans from 2005 through 2007, a disproportionate number of which went to women who would have qualified for traditional loans with far lower costs. B of A is the official bank of the US military and has branches by or on many bases, which allows them to entice military personnel to take out loans at usurious rates. Personal loans made to soldiers for a few thousand dollars can actually keep them indebted for the rest of their lives. Last May, Bank of America paid $22 million to settle charges of improperly foreclosing on active-duty troops. The list of reasons goes on and on – there’s even a published list of 10 reasons to hate Bank of America.
And what’s the ask of Bank of America? Activists are asking that Bank of America be regulated and break up into smaller, safer pieces that won’t take America down with them if they fail. B of A can invest in the planet and stop funding coal projects that are polluting our communities and ruining the climate. B of A can pay the statutorily required 35% corporate income tax instead of draining the government of revenue through off-shore tax shelters, loopholes, and scams. Instead of endless home foreclosures, B of A could help stabilize the housing market and revitalize the economy by reducing principal for all underwater homeowners to current market value. This would end the foreclosure crisis, reset the housing market, pump billions of dollars back into the economy, and create 1 million jobs a year.
Moving our money is one of the powerful ongoing direct actions that has come out of the growing Occupy movement. Let’s escalate our individual efforts by coordinating actions at Bank of America in solidarity with the existing campaigns targeting BofA coordinated by Rainforest Action Network, Public Citizen, and others. And let’s ask our cities, organizations, and other institutions to divest from big banks and invest in local economy and sustainability. Together we can send a loud message to Wall Street and big banks: not with our money, not on our dime!
© 2012, agentleman.