This is an outstanding article for those who want to understand why captains of industry often support policies that seem to be against the interests of the industries they captain. Why wouldn't they be in favour of some form of single-payer health care system, given that all studies show that such a system is cheaper for society (because of administrative efficiencies), not to mention cheaper for any business that doesn't have to provide insurance for its employees? The reason is that the uncertainties provided by a system where many are either uninsured, under-insured, or at great risk of losing insurance, create a lever over workers that makes them timid in asserting claims to wages or working conditions. Policies that provide some form of security to people makes them confident enough to demand more. Give them an inch and they'll be looking for a mile. The great fear of progressive policies is that there appears to be no end to them, and they build on each other.
Hindu nationalists in India want to build a Hindu temple on the site of a mosque which they destroyed. The intentionally ambiguous position taken on this issue by the governing party in India has damaged the reputation of the party and raised the spectre of religious conflict in India. This is a good article on the problem. Why is it that radical nationalists always seem to prevail? Is it because their fanatacism leads them to continue to push forward until they win? How do liberal democracies avoid this problem? (I suppose one way to avoid the problem is for mainstream political parties not to stoop to pander to radicals.)
We've got the same old story reported by the mainstream press about the Middle East, something about the Palestinians getting everything they could possibly want but that old corrupt fool Arafat looking the gift horse in the mouth and giving up the last chance . . . . You'd never know what the real story was if it wasn't for Fisk.
With the violence, the racism, the lack of concern for anything other than monetary selfishness, and now the Bush dictatorship, is it time for all non-Americans to boycott the United States of America?
People are wondering whether Colin Powell is the right choice for Bush's Secretary of State. Of course Powell is the right choice if American foreign policy is going to consist of war, threats of war, and preparations for war. This is how the military-industrial complex makes its money.
The Supreme Court of the United States granted the request for the injunction halting the Florida recount and then decided for Bush on the basis that the recount couldn't be completed as the time had run out. The majority of the Justices therefore were the cause of the problem which they found that the case turned on. It would have been easier if Scalia had invited Bush to the Court and put the crown on his head. Bush could then have returned the favour by annointing Scalia Chief-Justice-in-Waiting and gowned him with a silly gown like the homemade one sported by the current Chief Justice.
The only possible explanation for this horrible tragedy is that he was such an outstanding actor that he could make you think he was facing you pointing a gun when he was actually turned the opposite way.
This article is about the disruptive effect of computers in the classroom. Computers pose another level of distraction for the students, take up valuable time and energy of the teachers, and draw money from the whole education system. I've often thought that the 'necessity' of having computers in the classroom was merely salesmanship by computer companies. Their new term is 'the digital divide'.
Conrad Black has written an hilarious article on the recent Canadian election. He has spent a fortune of the money of the shareholders of the company that the Powers That Be let him run, Hollinger, on promoting victory for an extreme right wing party in Canada. Now that this party has failed miserably, Mr. Black has decided that the only thing for it is for Canada to cease existing and join the United States! This is like the rich boy who owns the toys deciding that no one shall play with them if he can't win. It is pleasant to see him so disturbed by the abject failure of his nasty project.
Katherine Harris, running George Bush's campaign in Florida and (allegedly) sleeping with his brother, would seem to have a conflict of interest in the Florida vote certification. The decent thing to do would be to recuse herself from the whole mess, but it is too late for that now, as her damage has been done. Perhaps, however, she has enough decency to announce that she will respectfully decline any Bush government position offered to her in the future.
I'm reading a lot of rationalizations in the American press about how the current election mess somehow proves that the 'system' really works. It is as if the journalists really have to work to convince themselves that, despite all appearances, the United States is still a functioning democracy. Of course, there is no shame in a close election. However, it seems to me that the true mark of dictatorship is the passive reaction of the vast majority of the populace whan the Powers That Be use force to install their figurehead. It's the outrage and the action that distinguish the freeman from the slave. The slave is always quick to say that it doesn't really matter who the leader is, I actually like the leader better than the guy I voted for, I can't do anything about it anyway, the government will hurt me if I complain, etc., etc. Americans now sound and act like Eastern Europeans before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Whatever happened to the spirit of the American Revolution?
On Monday Canadians managed to avoid: 1) the return of the death penalty; 2) an American-style gun-addled society; 3) civil war with native peoples; 4) making abortion illegal; 5) the utter and complete destruction of the healthcare system; 5) the end of practically all government programs which don't involve armies or police; 6) a theocratic government where all decisions are made in the name of a strict evangelical protestant interpretation of the Bible; 7) the funding by the government of any and all religion-based schools, and the consequent starvation of the public school system; 8) a completely unjust tax system (not that the current one is so great); and 9) rule by an unholy combination of religious nuts and big corporations, with absolutely no say from any other voices. Whatever you may think of the arrogant, lying Liberals, Monday still wasn't a bad days work.
This may be the fifthcoup d'etat to take place in the United States in the past forty years. Up to now there has been: 1) the Kennedy assassination; 2) Watergate; 3) the October Surprise; and 4) the shooting of Reagan (which was effectively an assassination). It is now as likely as not that a change in government in the United States of America will be by extra-democratic means.
Bush has his brother taking care of the Florida election procedures, his cousin telling him how things were going as election night wore on and eventually prematurely deciding that he won, and the co-chair of his Florida campaign running interference for him from pesky challenges to the rectitude of the voting. As he wants to cut down on big government waste, why doesn't he eliminate the middlemen (and woman) and just call the election for himself?
Clinton is concerned about his "legacy", given the blue dress and all. He was hoping he'd be known for peace in the Middle East, but that doesn't seem to be working out. He will, however, be fondly remembered for many years to come for his openness in releasing government secrets, and will be even better thought of if he releases more, particularly if Bush becomes president and covers up the sins of his father. Clinton could also help his place in history if he gave executive clemency to Leonard Peltier. Both releasing secrets and granting clemency will make some people angry, but History will smile.
Do Canadians have any right to feel intellectually superior to Americans if a fellow who has a chance to be the next Prime Minister is a creationist? I feel like I'm in Kansas. Dinosaurs do indeed walk with men.
The main reason that Bush has been able to insist that it is up to Gore to concede is the fact that the networks mistakenly declared Bush the winner. Now it turns out that the decision to do so was made by Bush's first cousin. Fox, who hired the cousin, admits to knowing who he was, and now claims to be concerned about their credibility as he may have improperly divulged confidential information to the Bush camp during the course of election night. Bush could quite easily become President based entirely on the fact he had a relative in the right place at the right time! Fox cannot be given any credibility on any matter after this.
Don't you find it at least a little odd that hugepressure is being put on the guy who currently leads the United States election in both determined electoral college and popular vote to concede in favour of the guy who doesn't? I think Gore has a good chance of pulling this out, but he has to be tough. He could use some Bill Clinton advice right now, but he may still be too mad at Clinton to take it.
Things are getting clearer on the American election. First, the networks declare Florida a win for Gore. This is based on exit polls and is supposedly foolproof. Bush vigorously disputes this declaration, and the networks eventually, and mysteriously, back off. They admit to making a terrible mistake, and have taken all sorts of criticism for sheer incompetence. In the middle of the night Bush is declared the winner, based on his winning Florida. Finally, as the count in Florida procedes, it turns out that no one knows who won. All sorts of irregularities start cropping up. Is it crazy to conclude that the original network declaration was right, based on exit polls actually reflecting how people voted, but Bush was confident of victory because his brother, Governor of Florida, could assure him that the fix was in? This may sound crazy, but it reconciles the mystery of the foolproof exit polls failing, the confident protestations by Bush that the early declaration was wrong, and the corrupt election problems that are now appearing in great profusion, in a state where brother Jeb has control.
I've been following the Bush-Gore Florida result through the morning on the Miami Herald site. I noticed Bush up by 40,000 votes, then 25,000, then 10,000, then 4,000. Now he's up by 600. Did the networks, perhaps in response to their earlier Florida mistake, jump the gun?
Now that the executive and the legislature (with the judiciary soon to come) are firmly in the paws of the military-industrial complex, what will the United States look like in four years? It looks like open season on all those who aren't blessed by God to be very, very rich.
This is the first set of violent Israeli outrages against the Palestinians that has been covered by the internet. It is now much easier to read people like Chomsky or Fisk, and get away from the amazingly one-sided coverage of the Middle East by the mainstream American press. Will access to the truth make any difference at all?
A striking fact about the Nader campaign is that the United States is the only non-dictatorship in the world without some plausible left-wing party. The Democratic Party has always passed for this left-wing party. Now that the Democratic party has moved firmly to the right, there is absolutely no progressive party influence on U. S. politics, except for Nader. What would be downright weird in any other country is just considered normal politics in the United States. Why is this?
Am I being way too cynical to think that [vast amounts of money raised by U. S. Presidential candidates] + [increased need for candidates to advertise if the race is too close to call] = [built in reason for the large media corporations to commission polls and manipulate the news to make it seem that the candidates are running neck and neck]? Isn't there a conflict of interest if the news reporters can make more money on advertising if the race is close? Should they be allowed to charge for political advertising if they can manipulate the need for it?
On the Nader-Gore problem: 1) People who consider themselves progressive are deluding themselves if they think that voting for Nader will bring the Democratic Party back to a more progressive stance. The main 'improvement' Clinton brought to the Democratic Party was full-scale Republican-style fundraising. This entails giving complete control to those who contribute the money, big corporations. Gore hasn't come part way to meet Nader on any of the issues because he can't. The people who tell him what to do won't let him. Once you sell your soul to the devil, he won't sell it back. 2) I see much pro-Nader bad-faith writing on the abortion issue. No progressive can assume that Bush won't do everything in his power to appoint Supreme Court Justices who will curtail abortion rights. Referring to his record in Texas is irrelevant. The Republicans are explicitly running a campaign promising the creation of an almost theocratic state. This isn't hot air on their part. The Republicans have decided that the way to sell the extreme pro-corporate agenda is to disguise it using the term 'compassionate conservatism'. This is just a more sophisticated form of the overt kowtowing to the Christian Right which scared off so many voters to Clinton's advantage. It is certainly possible for a progressive to vote for Nader feeling that abortion isn't the huge issue Gore supporters make it out to be. However, no one should fool themselves into thinking that Bush is not going to be influenced by an extreme Christian Right agenda. 3) It seems clear that Bush would use the veto power and the President's ability to influence the course of public policy in a different way than Gore would. Arguments that the United States would have been quite a different place under some Republican President than under Clinton are certainly correct. This may be particularly so in foreign affairs, where the almost psychopathic approach to the rest of the world taken by
Reagan-Bush is much less likely to be taken by
Gore than by Bush II. Still, a progressive could certainly take the position that the differences between the two parties are grossly outweighed by the similarities, and vote for Nader. 4) So if a progressive doesn't vote for Nader because of a mistaken belief that the soul of the Democratic party can be saved, or because of a mistaken belief that
Bush won't try to meddle with abortion rights, or because of a mistaken belief that there is no difference between the practical effects of a Gore and a Bush Presidency, there is absolutely nothing wrong with voting your conscience. Voting becomes an act of civil disobedience, an honorable position to take when things are really, really bad.
You can look at the current problems in the Middle East in terms of the new economics that is usually called 'globalism'. Israel has been successful in creating a high-tech industry, which it would like to see get much bigger. Using a cheap Palestinian workforce would greatly reduce manufacturing costs, not to mention generally lower the cost of labour in Israel. If a somewhat 'normal' Palestinian state can be created, and everyone can get along, the Palestinians can be trained and used as really cheap labour either in Israel (in the same way that South African blacks could be confined to their 'homelands' but used as labourers in the mines), or in factories set up in the new Palestine (with customs laws set up as are in the Mexican maquiladoras). The corrupt Palestinian leaders would probably go along with just about anything. Key to this whole concept is the creation of a Palestinian state that is similar to the 'homelands' in apartheid South Africa. The new Palestine would have to be subject to Israeli control over water and power, and under effective Israeli military control. The latter would be accomplished in the guise of protecting the Jewish settlers who would remain in the middle of the new country (and would no doubt be constantly getting into trouble). It is completely understandable that the United States, the world champion of this sort of economics, would be mad at Arafat for not buying into this vision of a Palestinian future. It is also understandable that Arafat would do whatever he could to avoid it.
How many people have been convicted of a crime and punished (perhaps even executed) based on fingerprint evidence? What if the very basis for the widespread use of fingerprint evidence, the idea that no two fingerprints are alike, is wrong, or at least unproven? How much is the 'science' of fingerprint examination actually an art?
What is it about doctors and pain? Considering they're supposed to be helping people, why do they have so much difficulty giving their patients relief from pain? I've actually heard that they don't want to supply sufficient opiates to terminally ill patients for fear the patients will become addicted! Does being a doctor make you a bit of a sadist? After all, their income and position in society depends to a large extent on the existence of pain. Maybe you start to see pain as a good thing. Dr. Frank Adams has been found guilty of professional misconduct by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, apparently for showing too much compassion. I'm sure they call it something else.
What about counterfeiting, forgery and fakes in the wine trade? This is a subject not oftenwrittenabout, as wine is sold on such a weight of dreams that the very idea that trickery could be involved causes all involved in the trade to change the subject. Three facts: 1) the same liquid, for all intents and purposes, can be worth tens or hundreds of times more, depending on where it comes from and who makes it; 2) wine labels and bottles are laughably easy to copy; and 3) the recent economic boom has led to both an increase in the amount of money available for luxuries and the corresponding need for conspicuous consumption. The very nature of the expensive wine business means that there is a very limited supply of the most expensive wines available, and, more importantly, that that supply cannot be increased. It cannot be increased as pricey wine is sold on the basis of the actual tiny plot of land on which its grapes are grown, and the yield of those grape plants is fixed, either by law or custom. Thus, when the number of expensive restaurants and wine collectors goes up extremely quickly, the demand for the wines simply cannot be met legitimately. All one would have to do to track the deception is calculate the cases of wine sold and compare it to the known case production levels for the same year.
If you're lucky enough to be born a Palestinian, you have three choices: 1) you can be a second-class citizen in Israel, or 2) you can spend the next 50 years in a refugee camp, or 3) you can live in a few odds and ends places that Israel didn't want, governed by a bunch of organized criminals (who are at least Palestinian organized criminals). The liberal Israelis feel badly about this, so they negotiate with you to improve your plight. As they know that they'll have to give up something when the negotiations are over, they let them drag on and on for years. They know that the Palestinians have no bargaining position, and thus don't really know if Israel should give up anything at all. However, the Israelis feel themselves to be basically good well-meaning people, and the act of negotiating makes them feel generous. They actually feel like a 'normal' country, engaged in negotiations with their friends and neighbours. Imagine their shock and horror when you turn on them! How ungrateful can a people be? Said has a good article on what may be in store.
This article is about the idea, proposed by Russian mathematicians, that the timeline used in conventional history is all messed up. The mathematicians have found that the patterns of the conventional chronology are suspiciously similar, as if the chronology contains many instances where a series of events has been counted more than once. If there has been substantial error in the chronology, the timeline we are used to is too long, and events in ancient history turn out to be not so ancient. The 'dark ages', which we think of as lasting for hundreds and hundreds of years, may not have lasted for very long, if at all. The timeline of history comprises one of the most important foundations of our thought. If the timeline is wrong, we would have to rethink the whole way we view the world.
The whole Yugoslavian situation is just as troubling as it was before. Milosevic claimed that no one won a plurality in the election, so there should be a run-off. What if he was right? Do we only support democracy when the electors vote for people we like? German meddling in the Balkans continues. The real basis for the problems in Yugoslavia continues to be ignored by the press. Kostunica is just as scary a nationalist as Milosevic was. There doesn't appear to be any reason to expect anything but more of the same. I hope I'm wrong.
Israelis are dreaming if they think the United States supports them for any reason other than sheer economic self-interest. Israel is the American watch dog over the mid-east oilfields. Once the oil starts to run out (or if large amounts of oil are suddenly found elsewhere or technical solutions to replace the oil are implemented), American diplomatic support and American money will disappear instantly. The Palestinians are almost always in an incredibly bad bargaining position. You would think that Israel would be in a hurry to get some permanent resolution to the whole situation, while the most favorable result for the Jewish Israelis is still possible. The Israeli Government has to get the position of Israel 'normalized' in the Middle East well in advance of any drastic change in the status of oil. This is a good article on the current mess.
The moderator of a political debate (for the New York Senate, no less) asks a question based on an internet hoax. Given the fact that journalists are just entertainers, and show no aptitude for the facts, why do journalists moderate debates and ask the questions? If debates are important to a democracy, shouldn't people who know what they're doing be involved? What sort of punishment should be meted out for such an egregious error?
The experts have decided that the record industry is tilting against windmills in its various attempts to stop sharing of music over the internet. What if the music industry executives are smarter than we give them credit for? What if all this litigation is merely an effort to keep the issue in the public eye, and create a demand for compressed (and inferior quality) music files? Then deals can be done and the consumer will end up paying CD prices for essentially costless (to the record industry) downloads. See the second letter on this page.
I've finally seen something on the use of agents provocateurs in the anti-globalization protests in Prague. Thirty years from now the CIA will almost certainly be forced to release documents showing that the so-called 'black anarchists' in Seattle and other places were led by similar government employees.
The people who run the Republican Party are very smart. They have picked an obviously unqualified buffoon as their presidential candidate. If he wins they have a completely manipulable puppet in the
White House (sort of like Reagan after he was shot). A win also proves to themselves just how powerful their party and their money are. On the other hand, given the fact that Gore should have an advantage with the state of the economy, if the Democrats win, the Republicans haven't wasted a useful future candidate. On top of that, since the electorate seems to want to create balance between the levels of government, a candidate like Bush may improve their chances in Congress. It's a no-lose situation for the Republicans.
Oh, great! Aren't you getting sick and tired of discrimination against the 'abled'? The handicapped get all the good parking spots. You have to have some terrible disease to smoke marijuana.
And now this.
Watch the Olympics? I don't think so. I'll start watching when two conditions are met. First, the meat-puppets who compete should never receive the awards. The awards should go to the team of pharmacologists and doctors who prepared (i. e., drugged) the 'athletes' to win. Second, the International Criminal Organization (isn't that what IOC stands for?) has to be completely remodelled. Here are two possible changes: first, all IOC members have to have actually competed in an Olympic Games; and, secondly, no IOC member can have been associated with a government run by Franco.
We could all effect big changes if we did one thing. Boycott all the corporations that sponsor the Olympics. It is ultimately money from these corporations that funds the corruption.