Friday, September 21, 2007

Manifesto of a Madman Part II

"One-half minus one half equals zero, but it takes time for that to happen..."

-the nameless bum

Part 2 of 9 of the Manifesto of a Madman:

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Prison Industrial Complex

Alex Hillenbrand
History of Slavery and Racism
Under the Master’s Whip: African American Exploitation & Capitalist Injustice

The institutions of Slavery, The Jim Crow South, and the Northern Ghettos have all served to recruit, organize, and extract labor out of the African American population. Possibly the most unjust practice for executing this process is the creation of predominantly African American prisons for purposes of leasing inmate labor to private entrepreneurs. This practice occurs exclusively in two periods of American History: The post-Civil War era and the 1970’s right into the 21st Century. This essay will detail the factors causing the emergence of this practice in each era. For the postbellum era, it spawned from a need for cheap and abundant labor that had previously been provided by slaves. During the 1970’s, mass incarceration and convict leasing emerged to dispose of the African American ‘surplus labor pool’ caused by the globalization and the transformation of the Northern urban economy from manufacturing to business and knowledge based services.


The use of convicted criminals for commercial labor dates back as far as the 1600’s when Britain used captive labor to expand manpower in its colonies. Commercial shipping entrepreneurs first developed this system to reap profit by transporting convicted criminals to areas such as North America and Australia for indentured labor. While this provided a much-needed work force in such developing colonies, it also provided a means for exiling “the dangerous classes”, those creating socially undesirable behavior such as crime and listlessness.
Eventually this practice developed its own system of castes and racial prejudice. The caste system sought to distinguish white Christian servants from Negroes. This racial division set up the framework for acceptability of unjust treatment due to ethnicity. Following transportation’s abolition, the loss of this convict labor pool exacerbated a need for colonial slavery, since the economies in these colonies were dependent on rigorous manual labor for survival. Given the thriving nature of a white supremacy ideology during this time, coupled with the benefits of slavery over indentured servitude, racial slavery replaced indentured servitude as the primary means for the colonial labor force.
Slavery’s New Beginning
The legal use of slave labor as a source for American colonial power lasted approximately 250 years, beginning around 1619 and ending with slavery’s abolition in 1865. Slavery’s abolition posed a double threat to the Dixie class’ exploitation of an African labor force: it eliminated the cheap and abundant workforce required to run the plantation economy, and black access to civil and political rights promised to erode the color line initially drawn support slavery. Wacquant explains that the Dixie class’ response to this threat occurred in two phases. The first phase involved the promulgation of a convict lease system resolving the labor shortage issue by unjustly incarcerating emancipated slaves and forcing them into involuntary servitude as inmates . The second phase described by Wacquant emerged in the 1880’s when white lower classes pressed by competition with African Americans for jobs and housing joined with the plantation elite to ensure the “political disenfranchisement and systematic exclusion of former slaves from all institutions.” This second phase, commonly known as the Jim Crow Era, would hold African American’s in its grip well into the 1960’s.

First Phase: The History of for Profit Imprisonment in postbellum era

The emergence of a racialized convict lease system beginning in the Post-Civil War American South and lasting until the 1920’s became possible through its legitimization within the Thirteenth Amendment. This amendment outlaws slavery described here as “involuntary servitude”, except as a punishment for crime.
“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction”.
The legitimization of forced servitude allowed the Southern ruling class to exploit the labor of newly emancipated slaves through their incarceration within a racist criminal justice system. Many plantation owners increasingly accused newly ‘emancipated’ slaves of petty crimes such as trespassing, disturbing of the peace, vagrancy, or loitering on their plantations. Once convicted of these petty crimes, the newly emancipated slaves, now inmates, were leased in large numbers to private vendors as a source of forced labor for white profit driven business. One result of this practice was a shift in prison populations to predominantly African American, while the previously white majority population declined. During this period, the percentage of black convicts in relation to white was often higher than 90%. Once an inmate was leased to a private vendor for a fee paid to the state, private vendors housed and fed the bought inmates with little to no government oversight. Often involuntary servitude under the convict lease system was more repressive than servitude as a slave.
The utilization of African American inmate labor became extremely profitable for private vendors. Early industries such as coal mining, logging, turpentine production, railroad construction and farm work all leased African American inmates for forced labor. One prison designer touted the convict lease system for its ability to keep the inmates near a dangerous state of exhaustion without enabling them to go anywhere else: “What other master is there that can reduce his workmen, if idle, to a situation next to starving, without suffering them to go elsewhere?” This new exploitation was a direct response to the economic crisis plaguing the South because of The Civil War. Southern treasuries had been exhausted to fund war efforts, much of the white work force was either killed or maimed in battle, and Southern plantation owners and industrialists had lost the cheap and abundant workforce of slave labor. The practice of filling this labor vacuum created by the Civil War with convicted African Americans was essentially a reinstitution of slavery, and the primary means for the Dixie elite to ensure their survival after the Civil War.
With the emergence of the Convict lease system, Black Belt counties soon became the major suppliers of the state penal apparatus, while prior to convict leasing these rural counties had sent very few people to prison. These states comprised large numbers of newly freed slaves who accustomed to plantation life, had continued to practice everyday rituals and habits after emancipation. Therefore, when a newly freed slave lingered on a plantation figuring out what to do, he was arrested for ‘vagrancy and loitering’, or when a freed slave accustomed to feeding themselves from the food they grew on the plantation continued this practice, they were arrested for ‘stealing’. Such arrests resulted in long prison terms and involuntary servitude for the newly emancipated, many of which were forced to labor on the very plantations where they were held as slaves prior to ‘freedom’. An African American who had known no life other than one under the whip of slavery was practically helpless under the jaws of the prison thirsty white Southern predator.
While economic motives played a role in the creation of the postbellum convict lease system, it is undeniable that racism is at the very backbone of this practice. Many Southern predators seeking bodies for incarceration and escalation in the punishment for petty crimes were heralded for controlling and punishing the first ‘black crime problem’. Creating a black crime problem provided the justification for mass arrest of African Americans, it was an opportunity for the racist mind to assume that this criminality was a result of inferiority, and therefore made it acceptable to subject a disproportionate number of Afro-American inmates to involuntary servitude. This justification will emerge again in the 1980’s and give birth to the only other rise of convict leasing in American History.

Second Phase: The Jim Crow Catalyst for Northern Migration

As stated earlier, African American competition for jobs and housing among lower class whites led many whites to join the plantation elite in the movement for political disenfranchisement and systematic exclusion of African Americans from all major institutions. This disenfranchisement and exclusion became the driving force for the migration of African Americans to Northern urban centers.
Economically, this disenfranchisement relegated the majority of African Americans to sharecropping and dept peonage. This highly unregulated system permitted white landowners to keep an African American sharecropper in a constant state of debt by manipulating their wages and credit. Landowners were known to exaggerate credit, refuse payment, and even evict black workers from farms after the crop had been harvested, leaving the sharecropper ‘wandering the roads starving and naked’. Outside of sharecropping, the white business class made it next to impossible for African Americans to get work that could provide any means to social mobility. Job opportunities for African Americans in mining and industrial towns were restricted to only the most dangerous and dirty ‘nigger work’. Any protest of this unjust treatment by Afro-Americans often resulted in lynchings and mob violence. In the last two decades of the nineteenth century, white Southerners lynched some 2,060 African American’s in an effort to maintain control of white hegemony. These cases fanned by the press, supported by churches, and encouraged by the passivity of law enforcement added to the social acceptability of such an inhumane practice.
The threat of lynching also served to enforce an exclusion of African Americans from major social institutions. Many African Americans, under the threat of violence, were relegated to separate residential districts and to the ‘colored sections’ of commercial establishments and public facilities. Exclusion also entailed banishment from voting. Poll taxes, grandfather clauses, literacy tests and residency requirements all excluded blacks from the vote. Any attempt by African Americans to mix within the white culture, especially in regards to sexual relationships, was regarded as ‘racial degeneracy’ and climaxed in mob violence, white riots, and beating for blacks who failed to ‘stay in their place’. Such violent repression of Afro-American advancement served the needs of the white ruling class: to exploit black labor while denying them equal rights.

The Northern Ghetto (1914-1968): setting the stage for the re-emergence convict leasing

Three major forces caused African Americans to flee the South for Northern urban centers following the outbreak of World War I: an economic crisis of agriculture, high demand for labor in the North, and the horrors and indignities of the Jim Crow South. During this period, the Southern agrarian economy experienced significant mechanization. This allowed landowners to harvest crops using far less workers than before, reducing the demand for jobs that had traditionally supplied African American’s with a source of income. This loss of jobs was exacerbated by the arrival of a boll weevil infestation in the 1920’s. Thought to be Native to Central America, this insect averaging a length of six millimeters feeds on cotton buds and flowers. By the 1920’s it had infested all cotton growing areas in the South, decimating the Southern cotton crops and causing land values to plummet.
While the Southern economy fought to stay afloat, the Northern economy was booming with a high demand for unskilled and semiskilled labor in developing industry such as steel mills, packing houses, factories and railroads. As WWI cut off European immigration, employers sent their recruiters through the South to hire job hungry African Americans. For many Southern African Americans, the North was an outlet from the violence, degradation and limited opportunity of the South. This out migration occurred most heavily in areas where lynchings were most frequent, which serves to reaffirm this notion of escape. During this Great Migration, the status of Afro-Americans effectively transformed from a landless peasantry to an industrial proletariat.
While Northern life offered a higher standard of living and relief from caste domination, there existed a de-facto racism allowing the white ruling class to perform the two basic functions of Slavery and the Jim Crow Regime: harnessing the labor of African Americans while segregating their ‘tainted bodies’ in order to prevent the ‘odium of miscegenation.’ The primary tool for maintaining this exploitation and separation became the ghetto. As the numbers of African Americans increased in the North, the desire for separation by the majority of whites intensified until it hardened segregation within ghettos, schools, public education, and the workforce. Major players in this segregation game included banks, insurance companies, and property brokers who effectively divided the city along racial lines. White employers and unions maintained job ceilings on Afro-Americans, relegating them to the lower occupational strata of semi-skilled and manual labor that was especially vulnerable to economic downturn. These unwanted visitors were grossly perceived as “physically and mentally unfit, unsanitary, entirely irresponsible and therefore undesirable neighbors”. Such animosity prevented social mobility outside the sphere of the ghetto, and any attempt to settle outside the ‘black perimeter’ often resulted in assaults on Afro-Americans by ‘athletic clubs’ and house bombings by ‘neighborhood improvement societies’. With the hostile world of racism threatening every aspect of life, African Americans had no choice but to take refuge within their own communities.

The hyperghetto: raw material for convict leasing’s second rise

The Northern ghetto’s major transformation from its early twentieth century origins to what it has become today is largely due to globalization and the development of a public consciousness that has racialized crime to the point where prisons are disproportionately filled with people of color. Some of today’s numbers will help to explain the disproportional nature of this recent change. The number of people in prison, in jail, on parole, and on probation in the U.S. increased by 300% from 1980 [since the election of Ronald Reagan] through 2000, to more than 6 million. This buildup has targeted the poor, and especially Blacks. In 2005, for every 100,000 black residents, 3,301 were sentenced prisoners under State or Federal supervision. For every 100,000 white residents, there were 536 sentenced prisoners under State of Federal Supervision. During the mid-90’s, blacks represented half of all prison admissions, compared to their 13% share in the population. This disproportional shift of prison populations to predominantly people of color has not existed since the end of the convict lease system in the 1920’s. In 1926, African Americans represented only 21% of those admitted to prison. It is important to note that the latter 20th Century spike in African American incarceration occurred simultaneously with the re-emergence of the convict lease system (It grew exponentially during this time, but didn’t it exist in insignificant forms earlier?).
This prison binge has its beginnings during the 1970’s transformation of the metropolitan economy from predominantly manufacturing to business and knowledge based services. These manufacturing jobs have traditionally employed the majority of African Americans since their migration from the South in the latter 19th century. During the 1970’s, these factories relocated from the central city to industrial parks in the suburbs, anti-union states in the South and foreign countries. This manufacturing relocation away from the urban core left entire African American communities in shambles, shattering their economies, and decimating school and social welfare systems. In Chicago’s South side, a traditionally African American ghetto, between 1954 and 1982 the number of manufacturing establishments plummeted from 10,288 to 5,203, and the number of production workers fell from half a million to 172,000. Unemployment in this period hovered at 50%. This crisis was exacerbated by the extreme difficulty in the ability of Afro-Americans to move outside the ghetto or build up small businesses. In regards to small business, African Americans were twice as likely be denied small business loans. In the housing market, African Americans were subject to mortgage loan discrimination, as well as racial bias on behalf of realtors and sellers that prevented Afro-Americans from settling in white areas. With no means of moving outside the ghetto or re-building a shattered economy, many ghetto dwellers were trapped in an inescapable poverty. For the first time in American History, the African American was no longer needed in the urban economic system.

The Dissolution of Order: Public Perception and Response to “The Black Crime Problem”

If can’t work to make it / I’ll robe and take it / Either that or / Me and my children /Are starving and naked / Rather be a criminal pro / Than to follow the matrix / Hey it’s me a monster / Y’all done created
- Tyriq Trotter, a.k.a Black Thought, rapper for The Roots. Song: False Media

As many ghetto dwelling African Americans fall deeper into poverty with no means of social mobility, we begin to see the dissolution of organizations and commercial establishments that had previously constituted the framework for formal survival strategies. The ghetto’s physical infrastructure had eroded, business and housing tracts were boarded up, churches lost their capacity to organize, and the black press had virtually disappeared in the ghetto. During WWII, Chicago’s South side had five news weeklies that were widely dispersed, read, and discussed. Following the economic collapse of the ghetto, the Chicago Defender was the only weekly left and was sparsely dispersed, where previously it had a readership base of approximately 100,000.
The de-formalization of survival strategies, loss of economic function, and resilient segregation riddled the ghetto with economic, social and physical insecurity. The school systems had fallen into dissolution, with dilapidated facilities filled by underpaid, under trained teachers who had often had to work without such essentials as copy machines, libraries, and updated textbooks. 75% of the students in Chicago’s school establishments came from families below the poverty line, and ½ of the city’s schools placed in the bottom 1 percentile nationwide on the American College Test . It is apparent that these schools served little purpose other than to bide time for the majority of students before they flooded the streets, entering into the drug trade, gangs, and other illicit means of making a living. This situation eventually bred pandemic levels of crime, permeating relationships with a sense of suspicion and distrust, and violence became the means for upholding respect and regulating encounters. In 1990, the core of Chicago’s South Side had homicide rates topping 100 for 100,000 persons.
The public’s response to this pandemic was one of fear and retribution rather than one of rehabilitation and compassion. It is during this time that we see the emergence of a ‘negro crime problem’ that was characteristic of the postbellum mentality justifying the convict lease system. While this ‘negro problem’ is the product of racialized perception of crime perpetuated by numerous factors of American society, the media is responsible for the majority of this perception. The emergence of crime, especially violent crime, within the economically shattered ghetto became a lucrative source of gripping, easy to report, ever present material for the media. Undue attention was given to such stories, and their coverage almost always distorted the level of violence while displaying persons of color as criminal offenders to a greater degree than is actually true. Aided by large-scale attention given to such stories as George Bush Sr.’s racist Willie Horton Campaign and the strictly militant portrayal of The Black Panther Party, this “black crime problem” became widespread. (More detail). By 1969 this “black crime” perception had become so widespread that a public opinion poll (Ass name of poll for more legitimacy) reported 81% of the public believed that law and order had broken down, and a majority blaming “Negroes who start riots” and “communists”.
The response to this distorted perception was a tough on crime and drugs policy that flooded prisons with African Americans. This disproportionate number of African Americans within the criminal justice system is further attributed to its racial bias in the policing, prosecution, sentencing and policymaking facets. To detail every aspect of this bias would require another paper in itself, so this paper will focus on just several examples. In Volusia County in Central Florida, researchers documented traffic stops made by police during the 1980’s. Over 70% percent of the drivers stopped were African American or Hispanic, even though Afro-Americans constituted 12% of the driving population and 15% of all drivers convicted of traffic violations. 80% of the cars searched after being stopped were driven by either African American of Hispanic. (Add from Mauer how those stopped were not violating the law any more than anyone else. i.e it wasn’t because more blacks and Hispanics have taillights out or bad registration.) Law enforcement strategies that disproportionately affect minorities will create disproportions in the prison population. Another example of racial bias in Criminal Justice Policy exists in crack vs. cocaine charges. A sentence for possession of five grams of crack is five years in prison while it takes five-hundred grams of cocaine for that same sentence. Crack is a drug used most by the poor, and most poor are Hispanic and African American. The racial disparities in the sentencing of crack have been enormous, with Afro-Americans constituting 85% of defendants each year. (Research how the CIA supplied Ricky Ross with millions of dollars of Nicaraguan cocaine per day in order to fund the Contra rebel group in Nicaragua against the Communist Sandinistas.) Such law enforcement practices that predominantly target minorities undeniably suggest that racial bias is at play in the creation and implementation of American criminal justice policy.
Contrary to the Department of Justice’s belief that tough sentencing reduces crime by taking violent offenders off the streets, and that ‘just punishment” deters criminals from committing future crime, evidence shows that incarceration accounts for less than 25% of reduction in crime; and with recidivism rates at hovering at 60% it is clear that incarceration is not an effective deterrent of crime. Rather than seeking a retributive approach to crime and disorder in the urban ghettos, it would be far more humane and profitable to take a rehabilitative approach, especially in regards to drug policy. In 1997, a RAND analysis on drug use concluded that the expenditure of one million dollars to expand mandatory minimum sentencing would result in a national decrease in drug consumption of 13 kilograms, while spending those funds for drug treatment would reduce consumption by 100 kilograms. There are clearly better methods for handling issues of drug control and crime. Current methods merely treat the problem rather than prevent it. Why? because it is more profitable to treat the problem than it is to prevent it. (Possibly add Emile Durham’s theory that punishment is not to rehabilitate prisoners, but rather a ritual to re-affirm the rules and norms that a society has developed.)
Re-emergence of convict leasing: It’s more profitable to treat than prevent

The flood of minorities into prisons has created a fiscal crisis ushering in an industry of private prisons and the re-emergence of the practice of leasing convict labor to private entrepreneurs. These private prisons relieve federal and state governments the financial burden of building prisons to house the prisoner boom while reaping the profits generated by inmate labor and state and county government payment for the service of housing these inmates. (If it is so profitable to build prisons for private entrepreneurs, why don’t state and federal gov do so? Are only private prisons practicing convict labor, do state and federal gov. do it too?) Under permission of the 13th Amendment, lease of the involuntary servitude of inmates to companies such as IBM, Compaq, Motorola, Texas Instruments, Honeywell, Microsoft, and Boeing has become widespread among inmate populations . Inmates (who are predominantly Afro-American) work largely for manufacturing companies such as textile producers, many of which had originally fled the urban core beginning in the 1970’s. This draws a striking parallel to the emancipated slaves who found themselves forced into involuntary servitude back on the plantation as inmates. Steven Donziger has argued that in the criminal justice system, prisoners are the raw material needed to guarantee the system’s long-term growth. In order to ensure this supply, he argues that criminal justice policies incarcerate individuals “regardless of whether crime is rising or the incarceration is necessary.”

This supply of raw materials is steadily increasing. State and federal prisoners held in private prisons alone increased 8.8% from 2004-2005, coming to a total of 107,447 inmates. (FIND: these numbers may be MUCH higher, the Bureau of Justice has a clever way of disguising their statistics) This significantly rising source of cheap and abundant labor relies on racialized assumptions of criminality in order to keep the prisons well stocked. Yet again, we find African Americans confined within a system that exploits their labor, denies equality (EXPAND: felony disenfranchisement), and maintains segregation from the general populace. Cash rules almost every aspect of American life, and since it is more profitable to treat than prevent this problem, such perceptions and practices will not cease without some form of intervention.
The deepening influence of racism is largely responsible for the failure of popular conversation concerning the illusion that mass incarceration is the most effective way at dealing with criminality. America needs to move to a concern for the rehabilitation of its disenfranchised citizens and away from the belief that social control is the best means for dealing with complex issues of economic ineptitude, poor education, poverty, violence, and drugs. We need to understand the historical roots that have driven minorities to their current conditions, and understand that the wounds of slavery and racism have not completely healed but still are bleeding under the whip of segregation and economic exploitation.

Works Cited
Blanchflower, David, Phillip Levine, and David Zimmerman. "Discrimination in the
Small-Business Credit Market." Review of Economics and Statistics (2003). Apr. 2007.
Davis, Angela, and Avery Gordon. "Globalism and the Prison Industrial Complex: an
Interview with Angela Davis." America: History and Life (1998). Wilson Omnifile. Apr. 2007.
Hallett, Michael. "Commerce with Criminals: the New Colonialism in Criminal Justice."
America: History and Life (2004). Mar. 2007.
"History of the Boll Weevil in the United States." Mississippi Bollweevil Management Corporation Webpage. Mississippi State University. Apr. 2007
Ladd, Helen. "Evidence on Discriminatino in Mortgage Lending." Journal of Economic
Perspectives (2007). Apr. 2007.
Mann, Eric. "History Can Guide Us: Toward a Third Reconstruction." MR Webzine. 23
Mar. 2007. Monthly Review Foundation. Apr. 2007 .
Mauer, Marc, Malcom Young, and Ryan S. King. "Incarceration and Crime: a Complex
Relationship." The Sentencing Project (2005). Apr. 2007.
Mauer, Marc. "Race, Class and the Development of Criminal Justice Policy." The Policy
Studies Association (2004). Apr. 2007.
Mauer, Marc. Race to Incarcerate. New York: The New P, 1999. 118-141.
Ondrich, Jan, Alex Stricker, and John Yinger. "Do Real Estate Brokers Choose to
Discriminate? Evidence From the 1989 Housing Discrimination Study." Southern Economic Journal (1998). Apr. 2007.
"Prisoners in 2005." Bureau of Justice Statistics. 18 Jan. 2007. U.S Department of
Justice. Mar. 2007 .
"Recent Trend in U.S Recidivism." Bureau of Justice Statistics. Department of Justice.
Apr. 2007 .
Wacquant, Loic. "Deadly Symbioses: When Ghetto and Prison Mesh and Meet."
Punishment and Society (2001). Sage Publications. Mar. 2007.

If anyone is interested in developing this further I am interested in working with you, particularly the actual numbers of prisoners producing goods and services in prison, statistics on what convicts are paid, how much profit the private prisons are making, and if this practice is at both the federal and state level. If it is so profitable to make private prisons, then why doesn't the government do it to pay for some of its costs? I want to see this
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Gambling with Profighti

A man is approached in the parking lot.
The approacher moved swift. The man did not know what was to happen.
This man is Jameson.
The approacher is Prohfighti
Prohf told him;
Gospel in the garden
Gospel in the trees
The Gospel that's inside of you
The gospel inside of me
"I'm sorry but we have a movie to catch."
Do you realize what's going to happen to you?
"Pardon me?"
The world is moving toward a close
"They've been saying that for centuries."

It's going to happen soon. Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?
If you do not reach out for God you will perish.
"I don't know if I believe in God"
Just repeat after me: Jesus Christ is my personal Lord and Savior
"I don't feel comfortable saying something I don't believe"
We'll then you will die
"We will all die at some point"
Jameson is in a lose-win situation. Lose his pride or win his salvation. Prohfighti has made it known that by physically stating the oath Jameson will be saved, regardless of whether or not he believes it at the moment.
"Will you be satisfied if I say it and leave me to meet my movie"
Yes, for my soul and yours are alike. Repeat after me.

So Jameson said the oath & parted ways with Prohf.

The End. Read more!

The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot

Our Inactivity

Namoi Wolf

(The idea to post the first video was Jade's)

End of Post. Read more!

Burmese Monks in Pagoda Protest

Hundreds of Buddhist monks have marched around Burma's most revered temple, in a third consecutive day of protests against the military government.

The monks were allowed into the Shwedagon Pagoda in Rangoon for the first time since their protests began.

They walked through the city surrounded by a human chain of civilians holding hands to protect them.

They want a government apology for the violent break-up of a recent rally, triggered by protests over price rises.

Dozens of plainclothes police officers followed the monks with video cameras as they marched towards the temple, witnesses said.

The pagoda, which dominates the former capital, was also surrounded by dozens of plainclothes security officials and riot police trucks were on standby.

Once inside, the Buddhist monks held prayers, the Reuters news agency reported, then marched towards the Sule Pagoda downtown, before the protest finished.

They were watched by hundreds of onlookers, who clapped and smiled, witnesses said.

'Serious challenge'

The monks' activities have given new life to persistent protests that began after shock fuel price rises last month, which have led to a sharp rise in the price of consumer goods.

The monks have asked civilians not to join them for fear of provoking reprisals by the security forces. Many activists have been jailed and some have allegedly been tortured for participating in earlier protests.

On Wednesday, hundreds of monks marched through Sittwe, Mandalay and Rangoon.

They were calling for the release of four of their fellow monks arrested during protests on Tuesday, which were violently dispersed by the security forces.

One Rangoon-based group, the Alliance of All Burmese Buddhist Monks, has asked its followers across the country to refuse alms and offerings from anyone connected to the military.

The monks' protests represent one of the most serious challenges yet faced by Burma's military rulers, says the BBC's South East Asia correspondent, Jonathan Head.

Monks are highly respected figures in Burmese society, and were key players in mass protests staged in 1988, which were violently put down by the military regime.

This time the military has held off perhaps because they are wary of stirring up more public anger in a country already enraged over years of economic hardship, our correspondent adds.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/09/20 14:26:54 GMT
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Alan Greenspan & Susan Sarandon on Comedy Central

Two nights ago there was a good hour of the usual hilarity and informativeness between the Daily Show and the Colbert Report. I found it extra hilarious and exceptionally informative. There was so much more to each episode than the two videos I'm about to post but until I can find some clips on the other topics, we'll have to bask in these. My favorite part of the first one is the last thing Jon Stewart says.

Alan Greenspan- former chairman of the Federal Reserve and newly published author

Jon Stewart: Many people are free-market capitalists, and they always talk about free-market capitalism, and that is our economic theory. So why do we have a Fed? Is the free market – wouldn’t the market take care of interest rates and all that? Why do we have someone adjusting the rates if we are a free-market society?

Alan Greenspan: You’re raising a very fundamental question. … You didn’t need central bank when we were on the gold standard, which was back in the nineteenth century. And all of the automatic things occurred because people would buy and sell gold, and the market would do what the Fed does now. But: most everybody in the world by the 1930s decided that the gold standard was strangling the economy. And universally this gold standard was abandoned. But: you need somebody to determine –or some mechanism – how much money is out there, because remember, the amount of money relates to the amount of inflation in the economy. … In any event the more money you have, relative to the amount of goods, the more inflation you have, and that’s not good. So:

Stewart: So we’re not a free market then.

Greenspan: No. No.

Stewart: There’s a visible – there’s a benevolent hand that touches us.

Greenspan: Absolutely. You’re quite correct. To the extent that there is a central bank governing the amount of money in the system, that is not a free market. Most people call it regulation.

Susan Sarandon, "Actrevist" is what Stephen calls her

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Richard Alpert (Ram Dass) Speaking About LSD

From "Miracle of Love"
by Ram Dass

"In 1967 when I first came to India, I brought with me a supply of LSD, hoping to find someone who might understand more about these substances than we did in the West. When I had met Maharajji(Neem Karoli Baba), after some days the thought had crossed my mind that he would be a perfect person to ask.

The next day after having that thought, I was called to him and he asked me immediately, "Do you have a question?"
Of course, being before him was such a powerful experience that I had completely forgotten the question I had had in my mind the night before. So I looked stupid and said, "No, Maharajji, I have no question."
He appeared irritated and said, "Where is the medicine?"
I was confused but Bhagavan Dass suggested,
"Maybe he means the LSD." I asked and Maharajji nodded. The bottle of LSD was in the car and I was sent to fetch it.

When I returned I emptied the vial of pills into my hand.
In addition to the LSD there were a number of other pills for this and that--diarrhea, fever, a sleeping pill, and so forth. He asked about each of these. He asked if they gave powers. I didn't understand at the time and thought that by "powers" perhaps he meant physical strength. I said, "No." Later, of course, I came to understand that the word he had used, "siddhis," means psychic powers.
Then he held out his hand for the LSD. I put one pill on his palm.
Each of these pills was about three hundred micrograms of very pure LSD-
-a solid dose for an adult. He beckoned for more, so I put a second pill in his hand--six hundred micrograms. Again he beckoned and I added yet another, making the total dosage 900 micrograms--certainly not a dose for beginners. Then he threw all the pills into his mouth. My reaction was one of shock mixed with fascination of a social scientist eager to see what would happen. He allowed me to stay for an hour--

and nothing happened.

Nothing whatsover.
He just laughed at me.

The whole thing had happened very fast and unexpectedly. When I returned to the United States in 1968 I told many people about this acid feat. But there had remained in me a gnawing doubt that perhaps he had been putting me on and had thrown the pills over his shoulder or palmed them, because I hadn't actually seen them go into his mouth and had thrown the pills over his shoulder or palmed them, because I hadn't actually seen them go into his mouth.

Three years later, when I was back in India,
he asked me one day, "Did you give me medicine when you were in India last time?"
"Did I take it?" he asked. ( Ah, there was my doubt made manifest!)
"I think you did."
"What happened?
"Oh! Jao!" and he sent me off for the evening.

The next morning I was called over to the porch in front of his room, where he sat in the mornings on a tucket. He asked, "Have you got any more of that medicine?"
It just so happened that I was carrying a small supply of LSD for "just in case," and this was obviously it. "Yes." - "Get it," he said. So I did. In the bottle were five pills of three hundred micrograms each. One of the pills was broken. I placed them on my palm and held them out to him. He took the four unbroken pills. Then, one by one, very obviously and very deliberately, he placed each one in his mouth and swallowed it-- another unspoken thought of mine now answered.
As soon as he had swallowed the last one, he asked, "Can I take water?"
"Hot or cold?"
"It doesn't matter."
He started yelling for water and drank a cup when it was brought.
The he asked," How long will it take to act?"
"Anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour."
He called for an older man, a long -time devotee who had a watch,
and Maharajji held the man's wrist, often pulling it up to him to peer at the watch.
Then he asked,"Will it make me crazy?"
That seemed so bizzare to me that I could only go along with what seemed to be a gag.
So I said, "Probably." And then we waited.

After some time he pulled the blanket over his face, and when he came out after a moment his eyes were rolling and his mouth was ajar and he looked totally mad. I got upset. What was happening?
Had I misjudged his powers? After all, he was an old man (though how old I had no idea), and I had let him take twelve hundred micrograms. Maybe last time he had thrown them away and then he read my mind and was trying to prove to me he could do it, not realizing how strong the "medicine" really was.
Guilt and anxiety poured through me. But when I looked at him again he was perfectly normal and looking at the watch. At the end of an hour it was obvious nothing had happened. His reactions had been a total put-on. And then he asked,
"Have you got anything stronger?" I didn't. Then he said, "These medicines were used in Kulu Valley long ago. But yogis have lost that knowledge. They were used with fasting. Nobody knows now. To take them with no effect, your mind must be firmly fixed on God. Others would would be afraid to take. Many saints would not take this." And he left it at that.

When I asked him if I should take LSD again, he said,
"It should not be taken in a hot climate. If you are in a place that is cool and peaceful, and you are alone and your mind is turned toward God, then you may take the yogi medicine."
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Alan Greenspan: Iraq War is About Oil

Corporate news media and Dr. Greenspan playing with words.


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Orange Revolution

And as though my prayers from the previous post have been answered!

A Regime Still Set On Remaking the World. . . and the Need To Drive It Out


Four Crucial Political Battles

Four political battles are shaping up now that are crucial. If seized upon, and if coupled with the growing social wave of orange envisioned above and with the kinds of resistance I just outlined, these can be openings to make things more two‑sided, to bring another force onto the stage that can give expression to people’s pent-up aspirations, and to reverse the political momentum and direction in this society.

First, there is the extremely high‑stakes Jim Crow trial down in Jena, Louisiana where six Black high school students face decades in prison for standing up against nooses being hung from a “whites only” tree in their schoolyard. The actions being planned for September 12 and especially September 20 have everything to do with whether anything meaningful will be done to stop the whole direction of this society against Black people—and with the Bush regime, the definite genocidal element of this agenda has found sharp expression, as became sharply clear with Hurricane Katrina.

Shortly after that, on September 25, George Bush is daring to come to New York City to speak to the United Nations as part of greasing the way towards a new war against Iran. The eyes of the world look upon New York City and the city must appear to them as what it is—one of the most anti‑war and anti‑Bush places in the country, not like people who can’t be bothered to do anything as massive death, suffering and torture is being engineered. They also must not see simply an isolated, routinized protest. The city needs to be ORANGE—everywhere the eye looks and everywhere a news camera pans, on armbands and ribbons, on flags out store windows, on banners on rooftops and clenched in the fists that get raised in opposition to Bush’s monstrosities right outside where he speaks.

In the week of October 22-26, David Horowitz’s fascist student group “Students for Academic Freedom,” has announced a week against “Islamo-fascism” to take place on over 200 campuses. Horowitz is a close ally of Bush and intends for this week to target Muslim student associations, women’s centers, and more for not being sufficiently supportive of the “war on terror.” This has the potential to even more seriously chill what is already an icy atmosphere on campus. But it also has the potential—if it is met with orange-clad students and faculty ready to take them on and increase awareness of the fascist order being locked into place here—to actually turn the tables on these bullies.

Finally, on October 22, there will be a national day of protest against police brutality. This too can bring thousands more into political action against yet another horror of this system, and powerfully stand against outrages like the murder of Sean Bell in New York last December, on his wedding day.

Each of these must be very powerful in their own right; and they must also be times when the “orange upsurge” gets further launched into society.

Notice in the actual article Rock the Bells in SF was mentioned. I felt I was a droplet in that sea of conscious minds.
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...With Liberty and WHAT for WHO?

I pledge allegiance to Keith Olbermann.

You cannot have peace without justice! You simply cannot! But they don't want justice! And they sure as hell don't want peace! The resignations of Rummy, Rove, Wolfowitz, and thereafter are not enough, never enough. The best these acts can do is get people to start asking Why? and not settling for the partisan answer. It requires the understanding that things can never be parrallel in a world of lies. I am again eternally grateful to Mr. Olbermann for pointing this out daily on the tube, and making the acquirement of that understanding smoother for we common class folk.

We've been seeing a lot of injustice lately, it's been making my soul and my eyes sore. I'm sure it's always been there but I've personally started to feel drowned in the unfair reality of it all. So, I wonder, what are we going to do NOW? Now that we've been reminded that the chair of the world our children will grow up in is being devoured by gluttonous merciless termites? That we are being slid down and deceived into the paper shredder? Now that this has constantly been affirmed by your information seeking and sharing and by mine? Get angry and then what? and then WHAT?

I wouldn't even know how to answer that, though. Sometimes I wish the rapture would happen sooner. I hear the powers-that-be have humanity roasts on Sundays in the oval office. Maybe the rumor will get to a wrathful God. Fingers crossed.

And because it came on my shuffle this morning:
Some folks inherit star spangled eyes,
Ooh, they send you down to war, lord,
And when you ask them, how much should we give?
Ooh, they only answer more! more! more! yoh


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Pentagon Sued Over Mandatory Christianity

By Jason Leopold
t r u t h o u t | Report
Tuesday 18 September 2007

A military watchdog organization filed a lawsuit in federal court Tuesday against the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and a US Army major, on behalf of an Army soldier stationed in Iraq. The suit charges the Pentagon with widespread constitutional violations by allegedly trying to force the soldier to embrace evangelical Christianity and then retaliating against him when he refused.

The complaint, filed in US District Court in Kansas City, by the nonprofit Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), on behalf of Jeremy Hall, an Army specialist currently on active duty in Speicher, Iraq, alleges that Hall's First Amendment rights were violated beginning last Thanksgiving when, because of his atheist beliefs, he declined to participate in a Christian prayer ceremony commemorating the holiday.

"Immediately after plaintiff made it known he would decline to join hands and pray, he was confronted, in the presence of other military personnel, by the senior ranking ... staff sergeant who asked plaintiff why he did not want to pray, whereupon plaintiff explained because he is an atheist," says the lawsuit, a copy of which was provided to Truthout. "The staff sergeant asked plaintiff what an atheist is and plaintiff responded it meant that he (plaintiff) did not believe in God. This response caused the staff sergeant to tell plaintiff that he would have to sit elsewhere for the Thanksgiving dinner. Nonetheless, plaintiff sat at the table in silence and finished his meal."

Moreover, the complaint alleges that on August 7, when Hall received permission by an Army chaplain to organize a meeting of other soldiers who shared his atheist beliefs, his supervisor, Army Major Paul Welborne, broke up the gathering and threatened to retaliate against the soldier by charging him with violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The complaint also alleges that Welborne vowed to block Hall's reenlistment in the Army if the atheist group continued to meet - a violation of Hall's First Amendment rights under the Constitution. Welborne is named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

"During the course of the meeting, defendant Welborne confronted the attendees, disrupted the meeting and interfered with plaintiff Hall's and the other attendees' rights to discuss topics of their interests," the lawsuit alleges.

The complaint charges that Hall, who is based at Fort Riley, Kansas, has been forced to "submit to a religious test as a qualification to his post as a soldier in the United States Army," a violation of Article VI, Clause 3 of the Constitution.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation said Defense Secretary Robert Gates is named as a defendant in the lawsuit because he has allowed the military to engage in "a pattern and practice of constitutionally impermissible promotions of religious beliefs within the Department of Defense and the United States military."

The lawsuit seeks an injunction against Welborne from further engaging in behavior "that has the effect of establishing compulsory religious practices" and asks that Gates prevent Welborne from interfering with Hall's free speech rights.

Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, an organization that seeks to enforce the law mandating the separation between church and state in the US military, said the lawsuit would be the first of many his group intends to file against the Pentagon.

"This landmark federal litigation is just the first of a galaxy of new lawsuits that will be expeditiously filed against the Pentagon in a concentrated effort to preserve the precious religious liberties guaranteed by our beautiful United States Constitution," Weinstein said Monday. "Today, we are boldly stabbing back against an unconstitutional heart of darkness, a contagion of fundamentalist religious supremacy and triumphalism noxiously dominating the command and control of the technologically most lethal organization ever created by humankind: our honorable and noble United States armed forces."

A Pentagon spokesman said he could not comment on the lawsuit because he has not yet seen it.

Weinstein, a former White House attorney under Ronald Reagan, general counsel H. Ross Perot and an Air Force Judge Advocate (JAG), has been waging a one-man war against the Department of Defense for its blatant disregard of the Constitution. He published a book on his fight: "With God on Our Side: One Man's War Against an Evangelical Coup in America's Military." Weinstein is also an Air Force veteran and a graduate of the Air Force Academy. Three generations of his family have attended US military academies.

Since he launched his watchdog organization nearly two years ago months ago, Weinstein said he has been contacted by more than 5,000 active duty and retired soldiers, many of whom served or serve in Iraq, who told Weinstein that they were pressured by their commanding officers to convert to Christianity.

The lawsuit also includes examples of other alleged constitutional abuses by Pentagon officials.

Last month, the Pentagon's Inspector General responded to a complaint filed last year by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation alleging that Defense Department officials violated military regulations by appearing in a video promoting a fundamental Christian organization.

The Inspector General agreed and issued a 47-page report that was highly critical of senior Army and Air Force personnel for participating in the video while in uniform and on active duty.

The report recommended that Air Force Maj. Gen. Jack Catton, Army Brig. Gen. Bob Caslen, Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, Maj. Gen. Peter Sutton, and a colonel and lieutenant colonel whose names were redacted in the inspector general's report, "improperly endorsed and participated with a non-Federal entity while in uniform" and the men should be disciplined for misconduct. Caslen was formerly the deputy director for political-military affairs for the war on terrorism, directorate for strategic plans and policy, joint staff. He now oversees the 4,200 cadets at the US Military Academy at West Point. Caslen told DOD investigators he agreed to appear in the video upon learning other senior Pentagon officials had been interviewed for the promotional video.

The inspector general's report recommended the "Secretary of the Air Force and the Chief of Staff of the Army take appropriate corrective action with respect to the military officers concerned."

The Army generals who appeared in the video appeared to be speaking on behalf of the military, but they did not obtain prior permission to appear in the video. They defended their actions, according to the inspector general's report, saying the "Christian Embassy had become a 'quasi-Federal entity,' since the DOD had endorsed the organization to General Officers for over 25 years."

Thank you Mikey Weinstein! I can't wait to see what some of the other lawsuits will bring up.
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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

History Lesson for the Day

Brought to you (once again) by Immortal Technique

Now here's the truth about the system that'll fuck up your mind
They gave Al Queda 6 billion dollars in 1989 to 1992
And now the last chapters of Revelations are coming true
And I know a lot of people find it hard to swallow this
Because subliminal bigotry makes you hate my politics
But you act like America wouldn't destroy two buildings
In a country that was sponsoring bombs dropped on our children
I was watching the Towers, and though I wasn't the closest
I saw them crumble to the Earth like they was full of explosives
And they thought nobody noticed the news report that they did
About the bombs planted on the George Washington bridge
Four Non-Arabs arrested during the emergency
And then it disappeared from the news permanently
They dubbed a tape of Osama, and they said it was proof
"Jealous of our freedom," I can't believe you bought that excuse
Rockin a motherfucking flag don't make you a hero
Word to Ground Zero
The Devil crept into Heaven, God overslept on the 7th
The New World Order was born on September 11

Immortal Technique is so good at nutshells in prose.
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Remembering Jimi Hendrix

Oh, that Jimi Hendrix. But in all seriousness, he is considered to be the most influential guitarist in modern music. Jimi Hendrix perfected the deliberate use of distortion and feedback, using it to complement his natural virtuoso ability. He exuded charisma, raw talent, and creativity to excess, delivering some of the most revolutionary music of the 20th century.

Rest in peace.
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Ultra-Mega-Ignoramus Maximus Prime Supreme Rex

"God Hates Fags"
I had heard of the Phelps family a couple months back when I was flipping through channels and found a hateful (and pretty reptillian-looking) woman on the screen preaching righteous death and fiery hell to all America. I found it resonating in the worst way possible. This family is called the "most hated family in America". One of my friends on MySpace posted this 6-part BBC documentary on them by Louis Theroux which I just finished watching. I would like to share part one with you all and the links to the other 5 parts. (Part 5 has a really funny part in which Fred Phelps, the head honcho pastor, at the church yells "YOU'RE GONNA EAT YOUR BABIES!" during one of the sermons) The worst and most disillusioning part about this documentary and Jesus Camp is always taking a look at the children and how they're being built and fed this sectarian exclusivity to God bullshit. You want to shake them and stop the cycle of detrimental traditions and beliefs of hateful messages and hope that they eventually find common sense and break away if not tear down the whole wall of hatred from the nucleus out. It's ironic how much Shirley Phelps resembles my quintessential anti-Christ.

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

I highly suggest sitting through the painful reality of these people when you have an hour to spare. Not that they're the ones living in pain, I meant it pains me to see this kind of extremism devoted to an anti-loving cause.
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Manifesto of a Madman Part I

In Isla Vista, a small university community connected to UCSB, there resides a nameless homeless man who, as you might expect, spends his time wandering aimlessly through the streets ranting about the usual issues that concern your average non-working-class bum: the government, the universe, vegetables, etc. Consequently, most of the locals know who he is and have more or less learned to ignore his shenanigans and coexist. Bum-wise he's nothing special, your standard-issue tattered rags with three layers of coats, rusty shopping cart full of treasures, and a hair-do that screams "I just woke up, but I'm totally lovin' it." What sets him apart from your run-of-the-mill derelict, however, is his keen entrepreneurship, which unlike his fashion sense, remained virtually unaffected by poverty.

A few months ago my roommate was finishing up his shift at Orchard Supply and Hardware when he happened upon this broken man wandering through the isles carrying a stack of papers. To his surprise, the man was none other than the infamous bum himself and the papers under his arm were a collection of his ramblings, transcribed and photocopied for distribution. Totaling in at 9 pages in length, at 25 cents a page, my thrifty friend knew it was a bargain hunters dream.

Below is page 1 of 9 of what we have come to call the Manifesto of a Madman. It's understandably erratic and for the most part incoherent, but if anything it offers an interesting glimpse into the mind of this crazy nomad.

This is real by the way...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

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Monday, September 17, 2007

You Say You Want a Revolution

It's too long to post here but please follow this LINK for encouragement. I'd like to thank Syl for first introducing Revolution Newspaper, it's absolutely fascinating.

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In the Valley of Elah

From Dennis Kucinich's newsletter urging people to see this anti-war movie (premiering this Friday) because it's about the psychological effects on veterans. I think I will. I think some of you should join me, it looks pretty interesting. I'll try and review it once I do see it.

[ahem]James Franco as Sergeant Dan Carnelli[ahem] Read more!

Inherent Greed and Disregard for the Value of Human Life

21st Century Slavery Under Global Capitalism


Women are bought and sold in the trafficking of sex slaves. Bonded laborers are forced to work without pay and with no rights, to pay off debts. Children work with no pay and are sold into sexual slavery.

If things could talk…much of your clothes, your car, your food, your rugs…could tell you they were made with the use of modern-day slave labor.


The fishing industry in Lake Volta, Ghana. Children, as young as three, mend, set and pull nets, and clean fish. Weights are tied on them so that when they dive into the lake to retrieve snagged nets, they will descend more quickly. A lot of this goes on at night, and in the dark depths these children get tangled and trapped in the nets and drown. Their bodies wash up on the shore. The ones who survive get little food. Two boys said when they ate some of the fish they netted, their master beat them with a cane.

Brick kilns in Pakistan. Whole families are lured into the work with promises of good pay. But then end up trapped in bondage – the whole family working for free in order to pay off their debts. Armed guards severely punish any worker who disobeys. A 30-year-old man has old and new scars from such treatment. Once he was beaten unconscious, then locked in a small shed. After three days he was brought out in front of the other workers, hung upside down by a rope and beaten.

A mining town on the Amazon River. Gold from here goes to the biggest banks in the world. Wilma Huamani Sacsi cries when she thinks about her son, Luis Alberto, who never saw his second birthday. With all the workers, he lived in the most unsanitary conditions and had little to eat. When his belly swelled up from a kidney infection, Wilma asked the boss for money to go to a health clinic. But he just told her to go back to work. Holding her son, Wilma set off on foot to the nearest clinic—14 miles away. A doctor there said Luis needed to go to a hospital. Wilma begged in the streets to pay for the trip. But by the time she got enough, Luis was dead.




Along the Amazon River in Brazil, thousands of bonded laborers produce charcoal by burning pieces of hardwood. Recruiters target desperate people in impoverished cities with the promise of jobs with pay. But people end up thousands of miles away into the jungle, working with no pay and no rights because of an endless debt for things bought from the company store – like food, clothing and supplies, even tools, boots and gloves they need for the job.

These slaves work in 95-degree heat and suffer from malaria and chronic coughs. They live in shacks made from plastic sheeting. They are fed rancid meat. Drinking water is contaminated. Latrines are just holes in the ground. Deep in the jungle, they can’t leave even if they want to. They don’t have money to make the trip home and armed guards threaten them if they try to escape.

Charcoal from these camps is used to make pig iron, a basic ingredient of steel. Brokers from steelmakers and foundries buy this pig iron. Then it’s purchased by some of the world’s largest companies to produce things like cars, tractors, sinks, and refrigerators. Companies like Nucor Corp., the second-largest U.S. steel company. Carmakers like Ford, General Motors, Nissan, and Toyota. Producers of appliances like Whirlpool and Kohler.

THE MOST PRIMITIVE AND BARBARIC FORMS OF LABOR SERVE THE INTERESTS OF THE LARGEST AND MOST MODERN CAPITALIST CORPORATIONS IN THE U.S. AND AROUND THE WORLD—which are driven by the need to maximize profit and to come out on top in the cut-throat competition with other capitalists.

The Brazilian government raids slave labor camps and frees people. But as long as Brazil is subordinate to imperialism, it can’t escape the logic of capital. And no matter how many slave labor camps are shut down, they will keep re-emerging—because this system will continue to produce desperate people with no way to survive and capitalist vultures looking to maximize their profits by maximizing exploitation.


Ideologues of globalization extol subcontracting and outsourcing. But in fact what this provides are two valuable things for the capitalists: 1) it cheapens production immeasurably and 2) it provides them with PLAUSIBLE DENIAL that distances them from the brutal, inhuman and murderous production process in which the lives of hundreds of thousands of human beings are violently crushed.

And all this is happening under the dominance of U.S. imperialism, the direct and indirect involvement of major global corporations, and the enforcement of IMF and World Bank policies.

What does it say about this system that here in the 21st century you have the most high-tech knowledge and industrial capacity existing alongside the most barbaric, primitive and inhuman slave-like conditions of labor? It may seem like these two things are worlds and centuries apart. But in fact they are part of the integrated system of contemporary global capitalism. A system completely outmoded and unnecessary. [Source]

"The more you know, the harder it is to sleep at night." Oy. Greed officially rules the world.
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Blackwater (A Compliment to the Previous Post)

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Blackwater Havoc

Iraq Shootout Firm Loses License
BBC News
Monday 17 September 2007

Iraq has cancelled the licence of the private security firm, Blackwater USA, after it was involved in a gunfight in which at least eight civilians died.

The Iraqi interior ministry said the contractor, based in North Carolina, was now banned from operating in Iraq.

The Blackwater workers, who were contracted by the US state department, apparently opened fire after coming under attack in Baghdad on Sunday.

Thousands of private security guards are employed in lawless Iraq.

They are often heavily armed, but critics say some are not properly trained and are not accountable except to their employers.

The interior ministry's director of operations, Maj Gen Abdul Karim Khalaf, said authorities would prosecute any foreign contractors found to have used excessive force.

"We have opened a criminal investigation against the group who committed the crime," he told the AFP news agency.

All Blackwater personnel have been told to leave Iraq immediately, with the exception of the men involved in the incident on Sunday.

They will have to remain in the country and stand trial, the ministry said.

US Investigation

The convoy carrying officials from the US state department came under attack at about 1230 local time on Sunday as it passed through Nisoor Square in the predominantly Sunni neighbourhood of Mansour.

The Blackwater security guards "opened fire randomly at citizens" after mortars landed near their vehicles, killing eight people and wounding 13 others, interior ministry officials said.

Most of the dead and wounded were bystanders, the officials added. One of those killed was a policeman.

A spokeswoman for the US embassy in Baghdad later confirmed there had been an incident in which state department security personnel reacted to a car bomb "in the proximity", and that they had been shot at.

"We are taking it very seriously indeed," she told the BBC, adding that discussions were still taking place about Blackwater's status now that they had been ordered to leave.

When asked if Blackwater was complying with the order, the spokeswoman said she could not comment because the investigation into the incident was still in progress.

The BBC's Hugh Sykes in Baghdad says it is generally assumed that Iraqi courts have no authority over foreign private security contractors.

However, the US embassy spokeswoman said the question of their immunity from prosecution was "one of the many issues" raised by the incident.

Blackwater has not yet commented on the incident.

Civilian Toll

Sunday's violence followed the publication of a survey of Iraqis which suggested that up to 1.2m people might have died because of the conflict in Iraq.

A UK-based polling agency, Opinion Research Business (ORB), said it had extrapolated the figure by asking a random sample of 1,461 Iraqi adults how many people living in their household had died as a result of the violence rather than from natural causes.

The results lend weight to a 2006 survey of Iraqi households published by the Lancet, which suggested that about 655,000 Iraqi deaths were "a consequence of the war".

However, these estimates are both far higher than the running total of reported civilian deaths maintained by the campaign group Iraq Body Count which puts the figure at between 71,000 and 78,000.


* Founded in 1997 by three former US Navy SEALs

* Headquarters in North Carolina

* One of at least 28 Private Security Companies in Iraq

* Employs 744 US citizens, 231 third-country nationals, and 12 Iraqis to protect US state department in Iraq (May 2007)

* Provided protection for former CPA head Paul Bremer

* Four employees killed by mob in Falluja in March 2004

* Personnel have no combat immunity under international law if they engage in hostilities [Source]

Not to mention Private Contractors don't belong in war zones to begin with. These "workers" are running around like chickens with their heads cut off. I really don't blame the messenger. It's our civilians killing their civilians. Why? Because no one said they couldn't. If they had at LEAST been properly trained and educated on the situation, at least on a relative scale, and not just used as pawns to gain federal funding and maybe help some CEO-type put an elevator in his or her house in Washington, this could have been avoided in every sense. Though that's not the ideal, the ideal is that there not at all be a Gestapo type "keeper of the peace" that do not keep nor bring peace to this already tarnished region of the world. We don't need another army. The corporation cannot serve as anything but a further instigator of more violence to come. So Iraq's decision is essentially something good. It's only a shame that it had to take more deaths to come to that sane conclusion. No more statistics. Up Yours, Blackwater! Bring your greedy ass home!

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Take Note

There is hope for modern music, and thank god.

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Jesus in India

Documentary from the BBC

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

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