January 31, 2010

Yemen Background by Reuters

It's rare for the corporate media to provide context for their news. It's even more rare for an entire article to be devoted to background. Reuters has don that in the case of of the conflicts in Yemen.

I don't know enough about Yemen to critique Reuters' piece, but here are a few highlights and my efforts to read between the lines

Reuters' International Crisis Group, in London, inform us that

The Houthis, like most tribesmen in Yemen's northern highlands, belong to the Zaidi sect of Shi'ite Islam, whose Hashemite line ruled for 1,000 years before the 1962 revolution.

It's worth noting that the U.S. offered of arms and equipment to Saudi Arabia, 1961, and the U.S. hosted a state dinner for King Saud in 1962. It's also worth noting the North Yemen civil war of 1962 - 1970. A military coup, seeking to over throw the royal dynasty and install a republic, was initiated by Nasser's Egypt, who had a variety of motives including including confronting imperialism in general and challenging British colonialism in the South Yemen port of Aden (the port where the USS Cole was bombed). Egypt was backed by the USSR.

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia, with U.S. backing, supported the long-ruling royalists. I believe monarchy was closely aligned with the Houthis tribesmen... who are now being associated with "rebels" in the Reuters piece, as follows:

The conflict [is] with the northern rebels, who complain of social, religious and economic discrimination in the southern Arabian state [of Yemen].

And, as often is the case, the Yemen government of Ali Abdullah Saleh is using the "war on terror" to paint the rebels with a broad brush:

After the September 11, 2001 attacks on U.S. cities, Saleh declared support for Washington's "war on terror," in part to enlist U.S. support against the Houthis, whom Yemeni officials accuse of having links to al Qaeda, Iran or Lebanon's Hezbollah.

My take, without deep research, is that the North Yemen "rebels" have legitimate grievances and President Saleh is probably a new, more modern "monarch"... yes, he was in the military until becoming president of North Yemen in 1978 (Saleh was suspected in the assassination of the previous president). He continued in the presidency after North and South Yemen were united in 1990... in other words, Saleh is a strong man, although like any good democracy, there are elections in Yemen.[3]

So, there you have it.


1. Reuters, Factbox: Roots of Yemen's conflict with northern rebels, January, 2010.

2. US Presidential Papers Concerning Saudi Arabia 1941–1962.

3. Wikipedia.


January 29, 2010

Cornell West to Obama: Don't be a Wimp

Cornell West to Obama: Take a Stand. Have the courage to Challenge the Establishment.


Thanks to Anderson @ Shockfront and Ladypolitik for this tid bit.

Cross-posted at Challenge the Establishment blog


January 28, 2010

Howard Zinn in Memorium

Historian Howard Zinn challenged the Establishment. He researched and documented history from the everyman perspective rather than from the standard historical perspective of the elite.

His work challenged the truism that to the victor of war goes the spoils and the writing of history. He challenged the ideology of American exceptionalism, believing that honest exposure of the darker aspects of US History is necessary for the maturing process of the nation.

He understood that the US Constitution was written to establish a government of the elite, by the elite, for the elite. People's struggles for recognition in the Constitution was a necessary evolutionary process... The Bill of Rights, abolition of slavery, women's rights were not included in the Constitution without a struggle.

Zinn was born into a poor family in a New York City slum. During the 1930s, he worked in the shipyards where he organized laborers in the fight for better conditions. He recalls - in one of his many interviews - the first beating he took at the hands of police, which prompted his understanding that police aren’t neutral in concerns of state. In the 1940s, he met his wife, enlisted in the Air Force, and was sent to Europe as a World War II bombardier. He was ordered, late in the war, to drop the U.S.’s first batch of napalm on a French village where the German occupiers had all but surrendered. This led to Zinn’s unwavering pacifism.

The preceding historic narrative is from movie-review of:


Directed & Produced by: Deb Ellis & Denis Mueller.
Director of Photography: Michael Burke, et al.
Edited by: Cyndi Moran.
Music by: Billy Bragg, Woody Guthrie & Eddie Vedder.
Released by: First Run Features.
Country of Origin: USA. 78 min. Not Rated.
Narrated by: Matt Damon.

Howard Zinn: 1922 - 2010



January 27, 2010

The Bernanke Challenge Continues

As former New York State governor Eliot Spitzer has said, George Bush's Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke wasn't only in a position of responsibility for overseeing Wall Street, Bernanke was "complicit" in the designs that allowed a textbook case of bubble expansion and collapse. Of course Alan Greenspan was complicit too.

Why is Obama re-nominating Bernanke to head the Fed? It's another outrage, and this time people need to act.

My most recent message to the White House:

Deeds not words. Withdraw Bernanke's nomination and nominate someone who has a record of siding with the interests of people over the corporate investment banks.

GLH Blog
informs us that CREDO is calling for a no vote on Bernanke

For Your Convenience:

Sign CREDO petition, which urges the Senate to reject Ben Bernanke's nomination.

Contact the White House



January 25, 2010

Move to Amend

Move to Amend, a project of the Campaign to Legalize Democracy, is brining democracy into the hands of the people in a spirit like that behind the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights, adopted two years after the US Constitution, was a concession to the people who challenged the power of the wealthy elite who had drafted the US Constitution.

Move to Amend draws on our right to call for the amendment of the US Constitution. Dave Cobb, the Executive Director, in collaboration with others, has done extensive research into how the power of corporations can be controlled. They have concluded that it must be done by amending the Constitution.

You can sign on to the following assertion to the government:

We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United, and move to amend our Constitution to:

1. Firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.

2. Guarantee the right to vote and to participate, and to have our vote and participation count.

3. Protect local communities, their economies, and democracies against illegitimate
"preemption" actions by global, national, and state governments.

Sign On

The first point untangles "free speech" from the principle of "one person, one vote." In as much as money equates to influencing votes, money in politics is contrary to the principle of "one person, one vote."

The second point settles a matter raised by the US Supreme Court in Gore Vs Bush. Following the 2000 presidential election, the U.S. Supreme Court appointed Bush and in doing so stated that the US Constitution does not guarantee individuals the right to vote for the US President. Hard to believe, I know, but it's true.

The third point establishes a principle very similar to "states rights," but applies to local governments. It prevents global treaties, often written by lawyers from transnational corporations, from treading on local community rights. If a local community wants to pass a ban on a pesticide, the amendment would allow it to do so. The local community could not be sued for infringing on the profits of the pesticide manufacturer as is now allowed under agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Cobb is crossing ideological lines by teaming up with Tea Party members to make this "move" a reality. Short of that, we are experiencing a teachable moment in history when people should pause and consider deeper civic concepts. Cobb asks us to think big and ask whether or not the time has come to move our democracy to the next level.

“I hope we shall... crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and to bid defiance to the laws of our country.” ~ Thomas Jefferson, letter to George Logan. November 12, 1816


January 24, 2010

ACTION Alert: Withdraw Bernanke Nomination

Ask President Obama to withdraw his nomination of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

Former NY Attorney General Elliot Spitzer has said, Bernanke is "complicit" in the in the events leading up to the financial collapse. Obama's response to this "collapse" has resulted in a further consolidation of financial power and a historic transfer of wealth from the many to the powerful few.

Tell Obaman that we can't keep papering over the deeper issues; Re-appointing Ben Bernanke is an example of papering over the financial corruption issue. Bernanke's nomination should be withdrawn.

Remember, the US Senate has to approve the President's nomination, so pressure on the Senate is also necessary.

For Your Convenience:

Thanks to the Godless Liberal Homo blog for raising this issue.


Is it Too Late for Obama to Become a Populist?

We watched feeling helpless as Obama appointed Geithner and let the investment banks off the hook instead of extracting real reform of the financial gambling scheme that Geithner helped create while Chairman of the New York Federal Reserve Bank. I know that's a long sentence, but but the things we've witnessed leave us in shock and awe; in such a state long sentences are symptomatic.

So, now that TIME Magazine says Obama is turning a new leaf, "signal[ing] a new approach" with tough talk toward the banks on financial reform, are we to believe it? Is this just another case of a politician using cheap words?




January 23, 2010

Slowly She Turned Out Good Art in 2009

The blog "Slowly She Turned" has a nice 2009 Retrospective post that is worth a quick view... particularly if you're looking for inspiration.


January 20, 2010

Rep. Jane Harman: CIA Agent?

Congresswoman Jane Harman (D CA), Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, strikes me as anything but intelligent. Sorry I can't give you historic factoids, but upon hearing a recent report from FAIR's Counter Spin program, I found myself thinking, again, that she sounds like a CIA agent, witting or unwitting.

Harman chimed in on the recent assassination of Iranian physicist Massoud Ali Mohammadi saying on MSNBC:

I think the logic here is that the Iranian government, or some group associated with them, took this guy out. I mean, it's a sign of desperation to start killing your own nuclear scientists.

Never mind the reporting I've read that Mohammadi did abstract physics research rather than applied nuclear engineering associated with power or weapons. Just sounds like Harman is parroting the group-think chatter here... and possibly picking up and broadcasting CIA talking points.

I'm not saying I believe this, but it fits a pattern.

FAIR* goes on to recount Harman's compromised background. Congressional Quarterly reported that

Harman was caught on a Bush administration wiretap promising an Israeli agent that she would try to help pro-Israel lobbyists, who had been accused of espionage. In return, the lobbyist ogranization, APAC, would push Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, projected to be House Speaker at the time, to make Harman Chair of the House Intelligence Committee.

Congressional Quarterly's continued to report:

The reason Harman was not prosecuted for what would seem to be illegal influence peddling was that Bush's Attorney General, Alberto Gonzalez, wanted to use Harman to stop the New York Times from publishing details about the Bush Administration's warrantless wire tapping Program. Harman did indeed contact the New York Times to try to get them to kill the piece.

Jane Harman is so deeply compromised that it's no surprise my thoughts turned to her being a CIA agent upon hearing her statements about the Mohammadi assassination.


Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, Counter Spin, January 15, 2010.


January 19, 2010

GDAE Podcast- Episode 25

2009 GDAE Podcast Retrospective

Themes of:
  • Music,
  • Financial Robbery of 2009,
  • Prosecuting Bush era officials for numerous crimes,
  • American Exceptionalism,
  • Human Exceptionalism
  • Climate Change
  • Right-wing Fringe Storm Clouds,
  • Health Care,
  • Perpetual War
  • Middle East,
  • Media Reform,
  • Humor
  • Obama
  • and more

Play Episode 25 from this page:

Click to Download Episode 25.

Previous Episodes & 60-Sec Promo:

GDAE Podcast 60-Second Promo

GDAE Podcast Episode 24 December 31, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 23 November 29, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 22 November 11, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 21 October 18, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 20 October 9, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 19 September 27, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 18 September 16, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 17 August 31, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 16 July 30, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 15 June 17, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 14 June 10, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 13 May 22, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 12May 5, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 11 April 24, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 10 April 9, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 9March 28, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 8 March 15, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 7 March 1, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 6 February 17, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 5 February 6, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 4 January 24, 2009



January 18, 2010

Lets Help Bend the Arc

Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.
-- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Graphic Credit: Rayebones on Deviant Art


January 16, 2010

Prosecution of Bush Officials

It took decades for Chile's Agusto Pinichet and Cambodian officials to face justice. The wheels of justice might turn slowly, but with our conviction in the principles, and our voices, we can ensure they grind their way to conclusion.

The increase in the volume of emails the I'm receiving on the prosecution of Bush and others for serious crimes is increasing. E-Mail titles include the following:
  • "Criminal Prosecution and Accountability"
  • "Bush Tortured"
  • "50 Top war criminals who need to be prosecuted"
  • "Holder Warned that Limited Investigation and Selective Prosecution would Violate the Law"
On the last item, the Convention Against Torture (CAT), signed by President Reagan, requires Attorney General Holder to investigate and hold accountable all those involved in torture. A letter signed by 150 organizations has been sent to Attorney General Holder. The Justice Department's credibility, and thus its legitimacy, is on the line.

The list goes on, and the momentum builds....

For Your Convenience:


January 12, 2010

Remembering AIG

Bill Moyers asked in 2009, "Are we chumps?" Former chief IMF economist Simon Johnson responded saying that depends on how we react, in other words, it depends on whether or not we let the investment bankers get away with it.

The following observations on AIG is a reminder not to let them get away with it.
  1. AIG's insurance of exotic Wall Street derivatives helped give the false sense of security that allowed the financial industry house of cards to grow so astoundingly large, ... where were the regulators?
  2. The argument that bonus contracts are sacrosanct is bogus on two levels: First, the sanctity of contracts is applied hypocritically to the white collar financial industry, but not blue collar auto industry... an industry that actually produces something tangible. More important, AIG is effectively bankrupt and survives only because tax-payers are propping it up. AIG should be treated like a bankrupt corporation and the contracts should be voided.
  3. Most of the money going to AIG is actually going to.... the huge financial institutions, Citigroup, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs. Thus, A) the dollar figures of tax-payer bailout funds you hear begin quoted for these monopolistic banks should also count the pass-thru money going to them via AIG. And B) Why are our tax dollars going to pay the insurance on bad gambles? ... insurance payments on gambles that, under further investigation, might actually be founded on fraudulent financial actions?
  4. If you're not angry enough already, DemocracyNow reports: "As AIG faces the loss of its bonuses, it’s quietly filed a lawsuit to recoup more than $300 million in what it says are overpaid taxes. The company says it overpaid the government in charges for using offshore tax havens. The suit effectively means AIG is using US taxpayer money to sue its majority owner, the US taxpayer. The government owns an 80 percent stake in AIG following its $170 billion bailout."
  5. I heard a disturbing idea from Brian of WakeUp AM blog.... he posits that all of these bonuses, not just to AIG, smell like hush money.... "You get your million-plus and promise not to talk about what you know."
  6. Finally, a disturbing AIG factoid: Again from Democracy Now: "A top Obama administration official is coming under scrutiny for his ties to AIG. Richard Holbrooke, Obama's special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, served on AIG’s board from 2001 until early last year. Holbrooke is believed to have collected up to $800,000 during his AIG stint."
That last point is prime material for the Challenge the Establishment blog, which often probes the ills of Republicrats.

For Your Convenience:

GDAE Podcast Episode 9
, March 2009


January 8, 2010

Climate Change Fatigue and Hope

I produce monthly news and entertainment audio show called GDAE Podcast. I recently received the following comment on Episode 23, to which I responded in late-December (Episode 24).

Alas I fear we are beginning to suffer from Climate Change fatigue. This of course plays into the hands of those who don't believe global warming is real or who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Reports from the Copenhagen meeting on the subject make it seem like just another big corporate sponsored conference rather than a gathering to find a way to prevent a global disaster. Now there are some "experts" who say that no matter what we do we're doomed unless we deal with the population exponential growth problem. When I heard that I of course flashed back to my early environmental action days in 1968 when Paul Ehrlich's famous book, "The Population Bomb" was published. It's been some 40 years since then and nothing seems to have changed. Until Times Square starts to fill up with sea water I fear nothing will change. Sorry to be so pessimistic. I hope I'm wrong and suddenly the majority of people in the world become intelligent.

My Response: I'm not sure that a majority of people would make a difference, after watching the US Senate water down the healthcare legislation in order to secure 60 of 100 votes to pass a bill without a public option. That's inspite a solid majority of American people being intelligent enough to want a public option.

AH! but not all is lost, as we are reminded by Margaret Meade who said:

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." -- Margaret Meade

"Hope" means feeling that the effort that you put into a cause has a real prospect of making a positive change.


GDAE Podcast


January 5, 2010

Group Think in DC

As I read headlines today, and thought about how the Obama administration is responding to something, it occurred to me that they are suffering from group think.

This isn't a throw-away comment, it is more of a diagnosis of a psychological illness on a social level. It wouldn't be so bad if this illness was affecting some crossroad town in somewhere USA. Sure, that place might be destroying some people's lives, but the damage of the socio-psychological illness would be isolated.

However, in the case of the group-think in Washington, DC, the illness is at the center of power where decisions are made, or aren't made, that affect the world. OK, so I'm saying the obvious and it's even got a label: Beltway Mentality. There are even blog posts about "fighting beltway mentality." I remember the ladder-climbers in DC, even in the progressive organizations supposedly devoted to good causes. But it's more than just ladder-climbing... it's ... group think. Which is part of the reason I left the DC scene.

So, today when I experienced that natural reaction of, "Wow. Our leaders have group think," in the sense of a clinical observation is.... was just a wee bit sobering and frightening.

Just saying the obvious. I suppose we should fight DC group think.



January 1, 2010

Activism in 2010

Came across an impressive, organized set of lists that support activism.


The Poetry Man