Monday, October 31, 2011

Thank God Our FLOTUS has a mouth on her

Now, she is ready to spew her bilious disgust with America on the campaign trail. A dignified, transcendent first lady? No chance. Michelle is going to break with a hundred years of tradition and play the role of attack dog, heaping derision on her husband’s political opponents like no other first lady before her.
And it’s already begun. Mad Michelle this week popped down to Davis Island, Fla., to hobnob with the very people her husband despises - the 1 percent. At a massive mansion on the bay, filled with the wealthiest of the wealthy, America’s first lady launched into a tirade about “them” - the Republicans.
“Let’s not forget about what it meant when my husband appointed two brilliant Supreme Court justices, and for the first time in history, our daughters - and our sons - watched three women take their seats on our nation’s highest court. But more importantly, let’s not forget the impact their decisions will have on our lives for decades to come - on our privacy and our security, on whether we can speak freely, worship openly and love whomever we choose. That is what’s at stake here,” she said to applause.
Yes, Republicans hope to regain the White House so they can install Supreme Court justices who will trample Americans’ privacy, ignore the nation’s security, crush free speech and persecute the religious.
Oh, and they’re rich and racist to boot. “Will we be a country where opportunity is limited to just the few at the top? Who are we? Or will we give every child a chance to succeed no matter where they’re from, or what they look like or how much money their parents have. Who are we?”
That’s right, rich people (white, of course) certainly don’t want black people to succeed. They want to squelch success based on what people look like, how much money they have. “Are we going to let them succeed?” the first lady yelled. “Nooo!” the rich white people screamed.
Just as her husband’s re-election strategy is inanely simplistic - blame the Republicans for thwarting his brilliant, economy-saving policies - so too is the first lady’s. She will go to the opulent homes of rich people across the country to tell them how rich people are to blame for America’s woes and guilt them into giving millions for her husband’s campaign.
And the Princeton graduate will tell supporters they simply can’t comprehend the significance of what’s occurring today in America.
“It can be hard to see clearly what’s at stake - because these issues are so complicated, and quite frankly, folks are busy and they’re tired. We’re raising families and working full-time jobs, and many helping out in their own communities on top of all that. So many of us just don’t have the time to follow the news and to sort through all the back-and-forth, and to figure out how all of this stuff connects to our daily lives.”
Yes, only Michelle and her husband can truly understand, although she often tells those uninformed people that when the president returns from one of his campaign trips, “He says, ‘You won’t believe what folks are going through.’ ” So maybe she is the only person in America who understands.
So, America’s first lady will travel the country this election season to tell her fellow Americans just how bad it is out there (between lavish vacations, of course). Unlike President Ronald Reagan, who saw morning in America - that great shining city on a hill - Michelle will tell all who will listen that Republicans want to poison the air and water, stifle free speech, oppress the religious. She will offer not an uplifting vision of what her husband’s America could be but only a vapid view of what Republicans’ America would be.
That is the America she lives in, and by campaign’s end, it will be clear that she’s no longer “proud of my country.” Maybe she never really was.
Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at
About the Author
Joseph Curl

Confronting Big Business & Bad Government

Unions Vs. Big Business & Bad Government – Confronting Power with Power

Update 10/31/11 – (dedicated to the #Occupy forces all over this nation and this world. )
With a firm date set for a General Strike in Oakland for Wednesday, November 2, I felt it a good idea to introduce my Occupy Friends to the original architect of Effective Strikes, Ray Rogers.  Enjoy the reading, learn more about the history of civil disobedience, find a few surprises, and then put this wisdom to work for you.  SOLIDARITY
Whenever I conjure up the Great Depression in my imagination, I think of the dust bowl, long lines of unemployed, people on streetcorners selling apples for a nickel, and…Labor Unions.
Americans think that we have it tough in this financial malaise we are calling the “Great Recession” – and we do – but nowhere close to what was experienced during the Great Depression of the 30’s. As poor a “safety net” we seem to have, there was nothing remotely equivalent to unemployment insurance, health care, workers rights, etc.
It was during this time, while Americans were scratching for bare survival, that the Union movement became energized. Over time, by standing up for worker’s rights they became big, powerful, didn’t back down from intimidation, and they set the stage for a better life for all of us.
A better life that appears to be evaporating, it would seem.
As much as he has accomplished given the financial mess he inherited, Obama has not proven to be the “second-coming” of FDR. That Democratic President of the 30′s said of his political opponents, “They hate me, and I invite their hate,” and then he proceeded to bulldoze progressive programs and reforms so as to see that the common citizen would have a “fair deal.”
That was just the encouragement Union people – your great grandparents, aunts and uncles in faded tintypes and photographs – needed to hear. Here are the fruits of their activism:
March 3, 1931 Davis-Bacon Act The Davis-Bacon Act requires that federal contractors pay their workers the wages and benefits prevailing in the local market when working on a public works project. The law keeps employers from importing cheaper workers from outside the region.
March 23, 1932 Norris-La Guardia Act The Norris-La Guardia Act proclaims that yellow-dog contracts, which require a worker to promise not to join a union, are unenforceable, settling a long-standing dispute between management and labor. The law also limits courts’ power to issue injunctions against strikes.
March 5, 1933 Perkins Named Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins becomes Franklin Roosevelt’s Secretary of Labor, the first woman in U.S. history to hold a cabinet post. She favors a comprehensive, pro-labor agenda including minimum wage laws, unemployment insurance, old-age pensions and abolition of child labor. Her influence on labor policy in the New Deal will be huge.
July 27, 1935 Wagner Act President Roosevelt signs into law the National Labor Relations Act, known as the Wagner Act. The law safeguards union organizing efforts and authorizes the National Labor Relations Board to assure fairness in union elections and during collective bargaining with employers. The new law tilts the playing field significantly in labor’s favor, prompting a huge unionization drive throughout the late 1930s.
June 25, 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act The Fair Labor Standards Act sets a 40-hour workweek with time-and-a-half for additional hours. It also establishes a national minimum wage and puts severe restrictions on child labor.
No, Dorothy, businesses did not “give” workers a 40-hour week, overtime pay, social security – they were taken as legitimate rights for ALL workers. And, where do Unions stand today? Greatly weakened by business-friendly government regulations, smaller worker populations, and public apathy.
Let me assure you, Unions are “Down, But Not Out,” if people like Ray Rogers, the most recent subject of my PWRNradio weekly show, has his way. “You must confront power with power,” he declares, and it demonstrating that with a vengeance in his campaign against the excesses and crimes of the Coca Cola company.
As part of this fight, Ray Rogers is the subject of a Documentary being filmed by Pulitzer-Prize Winner Nancy Siesel, called “The Man Corporations Love to Hate.” (Take a peek at the trailer here (cut and paste into your browser): Ray is an acknowledged and important pioneer in the Union Movement, described by The Boston Herald as labor’s most innovative strategist and “one of the most successful union organizers since the CIO sit-down strikes of the 30’s.”
Tune in and hear what this man has to say, then go out there and do your part. Being silent, is being complicit. The job and country you save, may be your own.  To hear this interview (cut and paste into your browser):

Formerly Homeless Celebrate Success

Formerly homeless celebrate success at annual breakfast



Felix Garcia speaks during the 16th Annual Celebrating Success breakfast on Friday. photo by Brandon Wise.
October 29, 2011
DOWNTOWN — In a light, musical voice, Felix Garcia told a crowd of onlookers a harsh tale of failed hope, shattered dreams and ultimate redemption.

Garcia, 57, crossed the country with plans to set his life up for success in bustling Los Angeles. He started a cleaning business, and all seemed well until a history of mental illness compounded by the stress of his company pushed Garcia to the breaking point.

"I walked away from everything that I had, and I ended up on Skid Row," Garcia said. "I did that for 12 years."

With the help of Santa Monica-based OPCC's Safe Haven project, which targets the chronically homeless with mental disabilities, Garcia completed a peer mental health training program and became an advocate for others.



He moved into his own apartment in February 2011, and he'll soon graduate from the Green Garden Academy and become a general contractor.

"It feels great to be here," Garcia said. "It's an honor to be here."

Garcia was one of 23 people recognized Friday at the 16th Annual Celebrating Success breakfast, an effort of the Westside Shelter & Hunger Coalition to applaud individuals that have triumphed over adversity and left their lives on the streets behind.

Poverty and homeless are daunting problems in the Los Angeles community, Va Lecia Adams, chair of the coalition and executive director of the St. Joseph Center, told an audience of nearly 500 community leaders, business owners and service providers.

Approximately 46 million people live in poverty in the United States. In Los Angeles County alone, over 51,000 people sleep on the street, according to the 2011 Homeless Count.

Friday's event was about celebrating the victories rather than looking at the overwhelming work ahead, Adams said.

"Were here to tell a different story, one of success despite the numbers," Adams said.

Successes like that of Pari Lucero-Atwell, nominated by the CLARE Foundation, who works as a parent advocate in an office in Marina del Rey. From her office window, Lucero-Atwell can see the tip of Venice, where she was homeless for many years.

Five years ago, Lucero-Atwell was living in a broken car in Lancaster, Calif. about to give birth to her third child, which she eventually delivered while under the influence.

Her time at CLARE taught her how to "suit up and show up" on a daily basis. She's now reunited with her children.

"I have an obligation to my community and my children to show that this does work," Lucero-Atwell said.

The two dozen men and women lined up and received their recognition to the sound of hundreds of hands clapping in celebration of their success.

One woman, Shelley Harris, honored by the Edelman Westside Mental Health Center, gave a shout-out from the stage to one group that she credited with her presence at the breakfast.

"If it weren't for the Santa Monica Police Department, I wouldn't be alive today," Harris said.

The words touched members of the SMPD present for the event, like Officer Robert Martinez, a 12-year veteran of the Homeless Liaison Program (HLP).

Hearing stories of success and watching people they helped off the street is heartening for members of the HLP team, he said.

"All too often in police work, you never see the result, what happens because of your work," Martinez said. "I wish more officers had the opportunity to see the impact of what they do every day."

The formerly homeless were not the only ones getting recognition Friday.

The Upward Bound House Family Place received a Dolphin Change Program grant for $5,920 to continue its work supporting families on their way to housing.

After the awards were delivered and the honorees had their photo ops, the New Directions Choir broke out into a soulful rendition of "How Sweet it is to be Loved By You" as the audience backed them up with rhythmic clapping.

It was a shared moment, with people from all backgrounds who had overcome all manner of trials enjoyed the skillfully-executed melody together.

"We can work together to overcome adversity, no matter how high. As we leave today, remember that homelessness happens to individuals," Adams told the audience.

OWS: Here is the rose, here the dance feat K. Marx

NEW YORK CITY—Jon Friesen, 27, tall and lanky with a long, dirty-blond ponytail, a purple scarf and an old green fleece, is sitting on concrete at the edge of Zuccotti Park leading a coordination meeting, a gathering that takes place every morning with representatives of each of Occupy Wall Street’s roughly 40 working groups.
“Our conversation is about what it means to be a movement and what it means to be an organization,” he says to the circle. A heated discussion follows, including a debate over whether the movement should make specific demands.
I find him afterward on a low stone wall surrounding a flowerbed in the park. He decided to come to New York City, he said, from the West Coast for the 10th anniversary of 9/11. He found a ride on Craig’s List while staying at his brother’s home in Champaign, Ill.
“It was a television event when I was 17,” he says of the 2001 attacks. “I came here for the 10-year anniversary. I wanted to make it real to myself. I’d never been to New York. I’d never been to the East Coast.”
Once he reached New York City he connected with local street people to find “assets.” He slept in the parks and on the street. He arrived on the first day of the occupation in Zuccotti Park. He found other “traveler types” whose survival skills and political consciousness were as developed as his own.

In those first few days, he says, “it was the radicals and the self-identifying anarchists” who set up the encampment. Those who would come later, usually people with little experience in dumpster diving, sleeping on concrete or depending on a McDonald’s restroom, would turn to revolutionists like Friesen for survival. Zuccotti Park, like most Occupied sites, schooled the uninitiated.
“The structure and process carried out by those initial radicals,” he says with delight of the first days in the park, now have “a wide appeal.”
The Occupy movements that have swept across the country fuse the elements vital for revolt. They draw groups of veteran revolutionists whose isolated struggles, whether in the form of squatter communities or acts of defiance such as the tree-sit in Berkeley to save an oak grove on the University of California campus that ran from Dec. 2, 2006, to Sept. 9, 2008, are often unheeded by the wider culture. The Occupy movements were nurtured in small, dissident enclaves in New York, Oakland, Chicago, Denver, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Atlanta. Bands of revolutionists in these cities severed themselves from the mainstream, joined with other marginalized communities and mastered the physical techniques of surviving on the streets and in jails.
“It’s about paying attention to exactly what you need, and figuring out where I can get food and water, what time do the parks close, where I can get a shower,” Friesen says.
Friesen grew up in an apolitical middle-class home in Fullerton in Southern California’s Orange County, where systems of power were obeyed and rarely questioned. His window into political consciousness began inauspiciously enough as a teenager, with the Beatles, The Doors, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. He found in the older music “a creative energy” and “authenticity” that he did not hear often in contemporary culture. He finished high school and got a job in a LensCrafter lab and “experienced what it’s like to slave away trying to make glasses in an hour.” He worked at a few other 9-to-5 jobs but found them “restrictive and unfulfilling.” And then he started to drift, working his way up to Berkeley, where he lived in a squatter encampment behind the UC Berkeley football stadium. He used the campus gym to take showers. By the time he reached Berkeley he had left mainstream society. He has lived outside the formal economy since 2005, the last year he filed income taxes. He was involved in the tree-sit protest and took part in the occupations of university buildings and demonstration outside the Berkeley chancellor’s campus residence to protest fee hikes and budget cuts, activities that saw him arrested and jailed. He spent time with the Navajos on Black Mesa in Arizona and two months with the Zapatistas in Mexico. 
“What I saw in the Zapatistas was a people pushed to the brink of extinction and forgetting,” he says. “Their phrases ring true: Liberty! Dignity! Democracy! Everything for Everyone! Nothing for Ourselves! The masks the Zapatistas wear check egos. People should be united in their facelessness. This prevents cults of personality.”
“I have no interest in participating in the traditional political process,” he says. “It’s bureaucratic. It’s vertical. It’s exclusive. It’s ruled by money. It’s cumbersome. This is cumbersome too, what we’re doing here, but the principles that I’m pushing and that many people are pushing to uphold here are in direct opposition to the existing structure. This is a counterpoint. This is an acknowledgement of all those things that we hate, or that I hate, which are closed and exclusive. It is about defying status and power, certification and legitimacy, institutional validation to participate. This process has infected our consciousness as far as people being allowed [to participate] or even being given credibility. The wider society creates a situation where people are excluded, people feel like they’re not worth anything. They’re not accepted. The principles here are horizontal in terms of decision-making, transparency, openness, inclusiveness, accessibility. There are people doing sign language at the general assembly now. There are clusters of deaf people that come together and do sign language together. This is an example of the inclusive nature that we want to create here. And as far as redefining participation and the democratic process, my understanding of American history is that it was a bunch of white males in power, mostly. This is radically different. If you’re a homeless person, if you’re a street person, you can be here. There’s a radical inclusion that’s going on. And if it’s not that, then I’m not going to participate.” 
The park, especially at night, is a magnet for the city’s street population. The movement provides food along with basic security, overseen by designated “peacekeepers” and a “de-escalation team” that defuses conflicts. Those like Friesen who span the two cultures serve as the interlocutors.
“It draws everyone, except maybe the superrich,” he says of the park. “You’re dealing with everyone’s conditioning, everyone’s fucked-up conditioning, the kind of I’m-out-for-me-and-myself, that kind of instinct. People are unruly. People are violent. People make threats.”
“We are trying to sort this out, how to work together in a more holistic approach versus just security-checking someone—you know like tackling them,” he says. “Where else do these people have to go, these street people? They’re going to come to a place where they feel cared for, especially in immediate needs like food and shelter. We have a comfort committee. I’ve never been to a place where there’s a comfort committee. This is where you can get a blanket and a sleeping bag, if we have them. We don’t always have the resources. But everyone is being taken care of here. As long as you’re nonviolent, you’re taken care of. And when you do that you draw all sorts of people, including those people who have problematic behavior. If we scale up big enough we might be able to take care of the whole street population of Manhattan.”
The park, like other Occupied sites across the country, is a point of integration, a place where middle-class men and women, many highly educated but unschooled in the techniques of resistance, are taught by those who have been carrying out acts of rebellion for the last few years. These revolutionists bridge the world of the streets with the world of the middle class.

“They’re like foreign countries almost, the street culture and the suburban culture,” Friesen says. “They don’t understand each other. They don’t share their experiences. They’re isolated from each other. It’s like Irvine and Orange County [home of the city of Irvine]; the hearsay is that they deport the homeless. They pick them up and move them out. There’s no trying to engage. And it speaks to the larger issue, I feel, of the isolation of the individual. The individual going after their individual pursuits, and this facade of individuality, of consumeristic materialism. This materialism is about an individuality that is surface-deep. It has no depth. That’s translated into communities throughout the country that don’t want anything to do with each other, that are so foreign to each other that there is hardly a drop of empathy between them.” “This is a demand to be heard,” he says of the movement. “It’s a demand to have a voice. People feel voiceless. They want a voice and participation, a renewed sense of self-determination, but not self-determination in the individualistic need of just-for-me-self. But as in ‘I recognize that my actions have effects on the people around me.’ I acknowledge that, so let’s work together so that we can accommodate everyone.”
Friesen says that digital systems of communication helped inform new structures of communication and new systems of self-governance.
Open source started out in the ’50s and ’60s over how software is used and what rights the user has over the programs and tools they use,” he says. “What freedoms do you have to use, modify and share software? That’s translated into things like Wikipedia. We’re moving even more visibly and more tangibly into a real, tangible, human organization. We modify techniques. We use them. We share them. We decentralize them. You see the decentralization of a movement like this.”
Revolutions need their theorists, but such upheavals are impossible without hardened revolutionists like Friesen who haul theory out of books and shove it into the face of reality. The anarchist Michael Bakunin by the end of the 19th century was as revered among radicals as Karl Marx. Bakunin, however, unlike Marx, was a revolutionist. He did not, like Marx, retreat into the British Library to write voluminous texts on preordained revolutions. Bakunin’s entire adult life was one of fierce physical struggle, from his role in the uprisings of 1848, where, with his massive physical bulk and iron determination, he manned barricades in Paris, Austria and Germany, to his years in the prisons of czarist Russia and his dramatic escape from exile in Siberia.
Bakunin had little time for Marx’s disdain for the peasantry and the lumpenproletariat of the urban slums. Marx, for all his insight into the self-destructive machine of unfettered capitalism, viewed the poor as counterrevolutionaries, those least capable of revolutionary action. Bakunin, however, saw in the “uncivilized, disinherited, and illiterate” a pool of revolutionists who would join the working class and turn on the elites who profited from their misery and enslavement. Bakunin proved to be the more prophetic. The successful revolutions that swept through the Slavic republics and later Russia, Spain and China, and finally those movements that battled colonialism in Africa and the Middle East as well as military regimes in Latin America, were largely spontaneous uprisings fueled by the rage of a disenfranchised rural and urban working class, and that of dispossessed intellectuals. Revolutionary activity, Bakunin correctly observed, was best entrusted to those who had no property, no regular employment and no stake in the status quo. Finally, Bakunin’s vision of revolution, which challenged Marx’s rigid bifurcation between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, carved out a vital role for these rootless intellectuals, the talented sons and daughters of the middle class who had been educated to serve within elitist institutions, or expected a place in the middle class, but who had been cast aside by society. The discarded intellectuals—unemployed journalists, social workers, teachers, artists, lawyers and students—were for Bakunin a valuable revolutionary force: “fervent, energetic youths, totally déclassé, with no career or way out.” These déclassé intellectuals, like the dispossessed working class, had no stake in the system and no possibility for advancement. The alliance of an estranged class of intellectuals with dispossessed masses creates the tinder, Bakunin argued, for successful revolt. This alliance allows a revolutionary movement to skillfully articulate grievances while exposing and exploiting, because of a familiarity with privilege and power, the weaknesses of autocratic, tyrannical rule.

The Occupy movement is constantly evolving as it finds what works and discards what does not. At any point in the day, knots of impassioned protesters can be found in discussions that involve self-criticism and self-reflection. This makes the movement radically different from liberal reformist movements that work within the confines of established systems of corporate power, something Marx understood very well. It means that the movement’s war of attrition will be long and difficult, that it will face reverses and setbacks, but will, if successful, ultimately tear down the decayed edifices of the corporate state.
Marx wrote: “Bourgeois revolutions, like those of the eighteenth century, storm more swiftly from success to success, their dramatic effects outdo each other, men and things seem set in sparkling diamonds, ecstasy is the order of the day—but they are short-lived, soon they have reached their zenith, and a long Katzenjammer [hangover] takes hold of society before it learns to assimilate the results of its storm-and-stress period soberly. On the other hand, proletarian revolutions, like those of the nineteenth century, constantly criticize themselves, constantly interrupt themselves in their own course, return to the apparently accomplished, in order to begin anew; they deride with cruel thoroughness the half-measures, weaknesses, and paltriness of their first attempts, seem to throw down their opponents only so the latter may draw new strength from the earth and rise before them again more gigantic than ever, recoil constantly from the indefinite colossalness of their own goals—until a situation is created which makes all turning back impossible, and the conditions themselves call out: ‘Hier ist die Rose, hier tanze’ [Here is the rose, here the dance].”

Herman Cain Plays the Race Card

In May, Herman Cain told the Washington Examiner’s Byron York that liberals were going to target him because he was black. “They're going to come after me more viciously than they would a white candidate," he said, continuing, “And so, to use Clarence Thomas as an example, I'm ready for the same high-tech lynching that he went through—for the good of this country.”
Obviously, Cain had reason to know what was coming. Yesterday, Politico broke a story about past charges of sexual harassment against the GOP frontrunner. “During Herman Cain’s tenure as the head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s, at least two female employees complained to colleagues and senior association officials about inappropriate behavior by Cain, ultimately leaving their jobs at the trade group, multiple sources confirm to POLITICO,” the piece began. The restaurant group ultimately settled with the women, who took five-figure payouts and signed nondisclosure agreements.
Details of the alleged harassment were vague—according to Politico, it included “conversations allegedly filled with innuendo or personal questions of a sexually suggestive nature, taking place at hotels during conferences, at other officially sanctioned restaurant association events and at the association’s offices.” Cain’s campaign denies there was harassment, but not that there were accusations and settlements.
Herman Cain plays victim card harassment allegations
Herman Cain, Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images
Back in May, Cain telegraphed how he was going to deal with these charges: play the martyr under assault by racist, hypocritical liberals. "Sadly, we've seen this movie played out before—a prominent Conservative targeted by liberals simply because they disagree with his politics,” said a statement by his campaign yesterday. The Thomas reference seemed clear.
Of course, as Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson show in Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas, the Supreme Court justice was almost certainly guilty of harassing Anita Hill. But on the right, the conviction that Thomas was a victim is close to sacrosanct.  As Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen wrote in their bestselling A Patriot’s History of the United States, “Thomas was representative of a new class of African Americans who had become successful and prosperous with minimal, if any, aid from government. As such, he represented a significant threat to the civil rights establishment, whose central objective remained lobbying for government action on behalf of those it claimed to represent.”
The only thing Cain has to gain from this race is the mantle of conservative folk hero, and maybe Fox News contributor.
Cain’s best hope lies in presenting himself as the victim of a similar left-wing conspiracy. Never mind that Politico is hardly a beacon of progressivism—of the four reporters who wrote the Cain story, one, Maggie Haberman, came to Politico from Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post, and another, Jonathan Martin, previously worked at National Review. The tip about Cain is far more likely to have originated with one of his Republican rivals than with Democrats, who are happy to see him in the lead in the GOP primaries, making his party look ridiculous.
Still, at least some on the right are eager to rush to Cain’s defense. Indeed, with grim predictability, the same conservatives who usually regard accusations of anti-black discrimination as manipulative whining have suddenly discovered a newfound sensitivity to racial prejudice. “Liberals are terrified of Herman Cain,” Ann Coulter told Fox News. “He is a strong, conservative black man. Look at the way they go after Allen West and Michael Steele, and they aren't even running against Obama. They are terrified of strong, conservative black men.”
As Sarah Palin demonstrated, the GOP base is eager to rally around those who seem to be victimized by a mainstream media they hate. But as Palin also demonstrated, eventually, evidence of venality and incompetence seeps in with the public at large. If Cain ever had a serious shot at the presidency, these charges would certainly hurt him. But he didn’t. The only thing he has to gain from this race is the mantle of conservative folk hero, and maybe Fox News contributor. And in that campaign, it looks like he’s still doing just fine.

12 TP GOP Budget Slashers Nabbed at Pork Barrel

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the Republican leadership’s tether to the Tea Party, flutters the hearts of the government-bashing, budget-slicing faithful with his relentless attacks on runaway federal spending. To Cantor, an $8 billion high-speed rail connecting Las Vegas to Disneyland is wasteful “pork-barrel spending.” The Virginia Republican set up the “You Cut” Web site to demonstrate how easy it is to slash government programs. And he made the Department of Housing and Urban Development the poster child for waste when he disclosed that the agency was paying for housing for Ph.D.s.
But away from the cameras, Cantor sometimes pulls right up to the spending trough, including the very stimulus law he panned in public. Letters obtained by Newsweek show him pressing the Transportation Department to spend nearly $3 billion in stimulus money on a high-speed-rail project—not the one he derided in Nevada, but another in his home state. “Virginia ... will demonstrate that this historic investment in rail will create jobs, reduce congestion, spur economic growth and improve our environment,” says a letter he signed with other Virginia members in October 2009, cribbing President Obama’s own argument for the stimulus.
Cantor signed several such letters, including an earlier one seeking rail funds a month after he went on national television attacking the Vegas project. He also signed a letter in October 2009 seeking $60 million to build commercial ships, some likely along Virginia’s coastline. As for his bashing of HUD, until last year he owned as much as $50,000 in preferred stock in a real-estate company that receives federal housing assistance from the department.
As the government showdown over debt continues—the so-called congressional supercommittee negotiating cuts has been floundering for weeks—Newsweek found about five dozen of the most fiscally conservative Republicans, from Tea Party freshmen like Allen West to anti-spending presidential candidates like Rick Perry and Ron Paul, trying to gobble up the very largesse they publicly disown, in the time-honored, budget-busting tradition of bringing home the bacon for local constituents.

 Allen West, Eric Cantor, and John Boehner
From left: Alex Wong / Getty Images; Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images; Alex Wong / Getty Images

The stack of spending-request letters between these GOP members and federal agencies stands more than a foot tall, and disheartens some of the activists who sent Republicans to Washington in the last election.
“It’s pretty disturbing,” says Judson Phillips, founder of Tea Party Nation, when told about the stack of letters from members, many of whom he supported in 2010. “We sent many of these people there, and really, I wish some of our folks would get up and say, you know what, we have to cut the budget, and the budget is never going to get cut if all 535 members of Congress have their hands out all the time.”
Many of the letters seek to tap the stimulus, clean-energy loans, and innovation grants—programs the same Republicans have accused Obama and the Democrats of using to bloat government and jeopardize America’s future. And these fiscal conservatives often used in their private letters the same arguments they pan in public.
Seizing on the Obama administration’s decision to make a risky half-billion-dollar loan to a struggling solar firm named Solyndra, Republicans like House Speaker John Boehner and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Darrell Issa have recently accused Democrats of trying to pick winners and losers and questioned the need for the Energy Department loan-guarantee program at the center of the controversy.
But both Boehner and Issa struck a different tone in requests for help from that program in their home states: Boehner for a uranium project in Ohio, and Issa for an electric-car company in California. “Awarding this opportunity to Aptera Motors will greatly assist a leading developer of electric vehicles in my district,” Issa wrote in January 2010, just 18 months before he began investigating the Solyndra controversy. An Issa spokesman has said the grant was never funded, and that Aptera was on better financial footing than the now-defunct Solyndra. Boehner’s office says the nuclear project had gone through a rigorous vetting process for funding, unlike Solyndra.
Fred Upton, the House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman, who is currently investigating Solyndra and other parts of the stimulus, himself appealed to Energy Secretary Steven Chu and other Energy officials in 2009 for similar grants. In a series of 10 letters, Upton and colleagues highlighted projects in Michigan that, if granted more than $250 million, could create more than 5,000 jobs.
One lawmaker’s pork-barrel spending, of course, has always been another’s opportunity to show his constituents he cares. But in an election cycle certain to revolve around the economy and unemployment, the divergence between rhetoric and reality is unusually stark. And to average Americans, the fiscal hawks’ public bashing of spending they seek privately feels a lot like watching a fitness guru gobble down a milkshake and a Big Mac.
Cantor’s office says the majority leader had an epiphany about the Virginia rail project and now believes the country can’t afford it. Spokesman Brad Dayspring also offers a more technical explanation: “The Vegas rail line was essentially an $8 billion earmark,” he says. “The Richmond rail had bipartisan support and was a far different animal.” Many members also argue that once money is appropriated, it’s their job to secure some for their constituents.
Other letters show similar requests from Republican presidential candidates who have campaigned on reducing federal spending. Gov. Rick Perry once floated the idea that Texas could secede from the U.S. to avoid Washington’s heavy hand, and he has derided Obama’s stimulus. But two years ago, Perry embraced $2 billion from the stimulus law for highway and airport projects, writing a perfunctory July 2009 letter to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood identifying how he would use the money. Perry was slow to spend the job-creating money as promised, prompting LaHood to send a polite note that November urging the governor to “redouble your efforts to move projects through the process as quickly as the law and financial oversight will allow.”
Fellow Texan Ron Paul, also a government basher on the campaign trail, has participated, too. Between December 2009 and last fall, Paul wrote three letters to top Transportation Department officials seeking more than $150 million to finish a high-speed-rail project in Texas. “This potential lack of sufficient funding will severely limit future projects and the full implementation of true high speed rail,” he and 10 colleagues pleaded to Joseph Szabo, head of the Federal Railroad Administration. Paul told Newsweek that the money was already on the table—if federal money has already been allocated in a spending bill approved by Congress, he sees it as his job is to secure some for his district: “Adding earmarks to a bill does not increase federal spending by even one penny.”
Likewise, presidential hopeful Rep. Michele Bachmann, the Minnesota Republican who formed the Tea Party caucus in Congress, asked the Transportation Department in April for $750,000 in federal money to boost passenger traffic at a small airport in St. Cloud, Minn. (population: 65,000). She closed her letter saying that the grant would be “sound spending of taxpayer dollars.”
Republican David Vitter has been one of many members who have consistently opposed stimulative measures Obama has tried to sell, including the Recovery Act. “It’s not real job creation ... We need to act on the economy, but that doesn’t mean typical Washington pork-barrel spending,” he said in February 2009 at a rally against the stimulus on the Capitol’s steps.
Yet two months after railing against bloated spending, the Louisiana senator appealed to Chu to fund an activated-carbon power plant in Red River Parish, La. “The project is expected to provide a significant economic impact in an area of Louisiana that is in desperate need of quality manufacturing jobs,” Vitter wrote. He forecast that the project would create 70 to 80 full-time manufacturing jobs once it was completed. A spokesman for Vitter says the senator opposed the Recovery Act but is open to other spending programs that benefit Louisianans.
Personal benefits also come in the form of farm subsidies. Rep. Marlin Stutzman, a junior Republican from Indiana who came to Washington in 2010 to limit government, lamented this year that “the president believes that ‘investing’ is spending more taxpayer dollars. It is time to invest in the nation’s future by controlling spending.”
But in 2010, the same year he entered Congress, Stutzman collected $4,061 in farm payments from the Department of Agriculture. Since 1997, his family has received $183,431 to grow corn, soybeans, and wheat. “I don’t deny it at all,” Stutzman told Newsweek, noting that he’s working to abolish the direct-payment system. “But I can’t compete as a producer without [the subsidies].”
Even Tea Party icon Allen West of Florida has gotten into “lettermarking,” a Washington term to describe efforts to seek money for pet projects. Though he’s just 10 months in office, the House freshman has already written at least four letters seeking federal largesse for his district, including one asking to fund a pedestrian pathway in Riviera Beach, Fla. Twice in the letter West vows the project “will create better access to jobs and services.”
West offered a different take the next day during a speech to a local Chamber of Commerce chapter that protesters came to picket: “The people outside don’t understand,” he told the business leaders. “Government does not create jobs.” When asked about the discrepancy, Angela Sachitano, a spokesman for West, said the congressman has been “consistent” in his support of some spending—so long as it’s done fairly, and benefits his district.

Cain Denounces but Does not Deny Sexual Harassment

Herman Cain’s presidential campaign is pushing back hard against a Politico report alleging that at least two women accused him of misconduct when he ran the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s.
It is difficult to assess the potentially damaging allegations, as the article relies on unnamed sources, does not identify the women, and does not detail what is said to have happened. But the piece does say that the women received financial settlements in the five-figure range in leaving the trade group.
Asked for comment Sunday night, Cain’s vice president for communications, J.D. Gordon, responded with a statement titled “Inside the Beltway media attacks Cain.”
In the statement, Gordon accused the media of beginning “to launch unsubstantiated personal attacks on Cain.”
He added: “Dredging up thinly sourced allegations stemming from Mr. Cain’s tenure as the chief executive officer at the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s, political trade press are now casting aspersions on his character and spreading rumors that never stood up to the facts.”
Despite Gordon’s characterization of the “political trade press” assailing his boss, what is at issue here is a single report in Politico—one whose allegations Cain has declined to flatly deny.
Photos: Ranking Politics' Worst Sex Scandals
Steve Exum / Getty Images; Michael Loccisano / Getty Images
Politico says that “the women complained of sexually suggestive behavior by Cain that made them angry and uncomfortable” and that they later signed agreements barring them from talking about their departures. There were “conversations allegedly filled with innuendo or personal questions of a sexually suggestive nature,” the report says, as well as “descriptions of physical gestures that were not overtly sexual but that made women who experienced or witnessed them uncomfortable.” An unnamed source cited by Politico says one of the women cited “an unwanted sexual advance” by Cain at a hotel where an event was being held.
In an encounter Sunday outside CBS’s Washington bureau, where he had just appeared on Face the Nation, Cain told Politico he has “had thousands of people working for me” over the years and could not comment “until I see some facts or some concrete evidence.” He also declined to comment when given the name of one of the women said to be involved.
A Politico reporter asked, “Have you ever been accused, sir, in your life of harassment by a woman?” The Republican candidate is described as having glared at the reporter and, after the question had been repeated a third time, asking, “Have you ever been accused of sexual harassment?”
Gordon, without issuing a specific denial, portrayed Cain as a victim of larger forces: “Since Washington establishment critics haven’t had much luck in attacking Mr. Cain’s ideas to fix a bad economy and create jobs, they are trying to attack him in any way they can. Sadly, we’ve seen this movie played out before—a prominent conservative targeted by liberals simply because they disagree with his politics.” Cain has responded to past criticism by casting himself as an outsider taking on the Republican power structure.
In the article, Gordon said Cain was “vaguely familiar” with the situation and referred detailed questions to Peter Kilgore, the restaurant group’s general counsel, who held that job when Cain headed the association from 1996 to 1999. Kilgore told Politico he could not comment on personnel matters.
Whether the allegations become a serious impediment for Cain, the former pizza executive who has surged to the top of most GOP presidential polls, depends in part on how loudly they ricochet through the media echo chamber. Several weeks of bad publicity over mistakes and missteps on such matters as Cain’s position on abortion and an electrified border fence have done little to slow his rise. Many voters appear to cut him considerable slack as an avowed non-politician.
The arc of the story will also depend on whether anyone comes forward to corroborate the allegations on the record, and whether the women choose to surface publicly. Politico quotes Denise Marie Fugo, chairwoman of the association’s board at the time of Cain’s departure, as calling him “very gracious” and saying of the allegations, “I have never heard that. It would be news to me.”
Even if confirmed, the allegations fall far short of what other politicians have been forced to acknowledge in the post-Lewinsky era. In describing comments that made subordinates uncomfortable, they are more reminiscent of Anita Hill’s complaints about Clarence Thomas, which became public during his 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearings.
Bill Clinton remains enormously popular, despite his affair with a White House intern that led the House to impeach him. Newt Gingrich, one of Cain’s GOP rivals and the man who led the impeachment drive, has acknowledged having an affair with a House staffer who is now his third wife, Callista. Gavin Newsom was elected lieutenant governor of California last year despite admitting an affair with the wife of a former top aide.
Whether the allegations become a serious impediment for Cain depends in part on how loudly they ricochet through the media echo chamber.
On the other hand, Anthony Weiner was forced to give up his House seat earlier this year for sending graphic texts and nude photos to women he had never met.
The underfinanced Cain campaign relies heavily on television interviews, and it is hard to imagine that the candidate will not be forced to offer a more detailed explanation of what happened in the late 1990s.
One thing is clear: the fact that Herman Cain’s past is being dredged for dirt is a sign that he is finally being taken seriously as a presidential candidate—and that the most difficult part of his campaign may lie ahead.
The Daily Beast

Does Tony Blair Have a Death Wish?

Former PM Tony Blair has defended his Labour party’s controversial mass immigration policy, claiming Britain cannot succeed unless it opens its borders to even more people from different backgrounds. Blair added that migrants had made Britain ‘stronger’ and said those calling for greater curbs on foreigners entering the country were wrong.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Thom Hartmann on the News - Friday, October 28, 2011

It’s official – despite only being in control of the House of Representatives for less than a year – Republicans have already killed hundreds of thousands of jobs.  According to a new report out of the Center for American Progress – the heavy-handed budget cuts that Republicans have passed – usually by way of a hostage scenario – have cost AT LEAST 370,000 jobs in America.

People & Power - Spain's baby market

Imagine the grief a mother must feel when she is told that her baby has died in childbirth. Then imagine what it must be like to discover, many years later, that the child had not died at all, but was secretly spirited away and given to someone else.

That is what happened in Spain during the 40-year dictatorship of General Franco. Spanish authorities are now investigating astonishing allegations that for over four decades government officials sanctioned the abduction of thousands of babies.
It appears that the thefts usually happened in maternity clinics and nursing homes, with the active collusion of doctors, nurses and even nuns, and that state officials and civil servants then helped with the cover up. Once the babies had been taken - often from women who were known political opponents of Franco or relatives of those who had fought against him during the country's civil war in the 1930s - they were then sold or given to childless parents among the regime's supporters.

Since the scandal broke last year, the number of cases has spiralled, with anguished parents wanting to know where their children ended up. Other claimants are people who have always suspected they were adopted and who now want to track down their true biological parents. But with records falsified, medical staff dispersed to the winds and officialdom slow to help, it is an almost impossible task.

Braulia Banderas Franco, from Valencia, has good reason to believe her baby did not die as she was told. When she eventually retrieved the birth certificate she found that her husband's signature had been forged on the document and that the name and location of the clinic where she gave birth had been falsified: "The names of the doctors are false. Everything is forged. It says that my baby died at midday, and that's not true. Everything is a lie."

Understandably the victims wanted the perpetrators brought to justice. But for lawyer Enrique Vila this is both a professional and personal quest. While he represents some of those demanding prosecutions, he says he too was adopted illegally and can not trace his birth mother. He now thinks the doctors involved should be in jail.

"Without a doubt they should. Some of those doctors are still alive and practising and there is enough evidence to convict them."  

This episode of People & Power by ABC producer Bronwen Reed and reporter Phil Matthews, tells the remarkable story of a lost generation and the anguish of people searching desperately for their misplaced loved ones.

Spain's baby market - People & Power - Al Jazeera English

Spain's baby market - People & Power - Al Jazeera English

Imagine the grief a mother must feel when she is told that her baby has died in childbirth. Then imagine what it must be like to discover, many years later, that the child had not died at all, but was secretly spirited away and given to someone else.

That is what happened in Spain during the 40-year dictatorship of General Franco. Spanish authorities are now investigating astonishing allegations that for over four decades government officials sanctioned the abduction of thousands of babies.
It appears that the thefts usually happened in maternity clinics and nursing homes, with the active collusion of doctors, nurses and even nuns, and that state officials and civil servants then helped with the cover up. Once the babies had been taken - often from women who were known political opponents of Franco or relatives of those who had fought against him during the country's civil war in the 1930s - they were then sold or given to childless parents among the regime's supporters.

Since the scandal broke last year, the number of cases has spiralled, with anguished parents wanting to know where their children ended up. Other claimants are people who have always suspected they were adopted and who now want to track down their true biological parents. But with records falsified, medical staff dispersed to the winds and officialdom slow to help, it is an almost impossible task.

Braulia Banderas Franco, from Valencia, has good reason to believe her baby did not die as she was told. When she eventually retrieved the birth certificate she found that her husband's signature had been forged on the document and that the name and location of the clinic where she gave birth had been falsified: "The names of the doctors are false. Everything is forged. It says that my baby died at midday, and that's not true. Everything is a lie."

Understandably the victims wanted the perpetrators brought to justice. But for lawyer Enrique Vila this is both a professional and personal quest. While he represents some of those demanding prosecutions, he says he too was adopted illegally and can not trace his birth mother. He now thinks the doctors involved should be in jail.

"Without a doubt they should. Some of those doctors are still alive and practising and there is enough evidence to convict them."  

This episode of People & Power by ABC producer Bronwen Reed and reporter Phil Matthews, tells the remarkable story of a lost generation and the anguish of people searching desperately for their misplaced loved ones.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Corruption made social rot that led to UK riots

Social deprivation led to UK riots, figures show

By Julie Hyland
29 October 2011
Social deprivation was the main factor in the disturbances that broke out in London and other cities in August, government statistics confirm.
The figures released by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), based on those arrested as a consequence of the disorder, only cover the period up to mid-October. The overwhelming majority were male (90 percent), and more than half were aged below 20 years of age. The figure are based on some 5,000 recorded crimes—including disorder and burglary—the majority in the capital, Birmingham and Manchester.
Among the adults arrested in the disturbances, 35 percent were in receipt of some form of unemployment benefit, compared with 12 percent of the working age population.
The MoJ states, “Young people appearing before the courts came disproportionately from areas with high levels of deprivation as defined by the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Indices, 2010. 64 percent of 10-17 year olds for whom matched data were available lived in one of the 20 percent most deprived areas whilst only three percent lived in one of the 20 percent least deprived areas.”
Some 42 percent of young people arrested received Free School Meals (FSM)—only available to the poorest section of the population. This compares to 16 percent of all secondary school pupils.
“This pattern can also be seen in London, where 40 percent of young people appearing before the courts were in receipt of FSM compared to 26 percent of all London pupils in secondary schools, and the North West (50 percent and 18 percent respectively).”
The report makes clear that government assertions that the disturbances were the product of a “gang culture” were a lie. The overwhelming majority were not members of gangs, the report states. In most of the areas affected, less than 10 percent of those arrested could be identified as belonging to gangs, it says.

Only in London was the figure of gang membership among those arrested estimated at 19 percent. There is no agreed definition of what constitutes gang membership, the MoJ states. Even so, “the great majority of arrestees” in the capital were not gang members and “Most [police] forces perceived that where gangs were involved, they generally did not play a pivotal role.”
Some 71 percent of adult males arrested had one previous conviction or more, and 45 percent of males aged 10-17 years of age. This compares with 28 percent and two percent respectively amongst the population at large. The report states, however, that in total the average number of previous offences per individual for those arrested during the riots (11), “compares to an average of 19 previous offences for offenders who were sentenced for an indictable offence in 2010/11.”
“24 percent of those brought before the courts for their role in the disorder had no previous cautions or convictions,” it continues. “This compares with 23 percent of those dealt with for indictable offences in 2010/11.”
“This suggests that while those taking part in the disorder were much more likely than the general population to have previous convictions, they are not quite as prolific as offenders sentenced for indictable offences in 2010/11.”
The MoJ does not provide a breakdown of what constitutes a previous conviction, but a higher rate of offending is a feature of more deprived areas. Nor is it made clear what numbers of those being surveyed were arrested on the spot, or rounded up in subsequent raids.
By far the most damning indictment of the social rot in Britain are the figures on the educational background of those arrested.
The MoJ compared the educational attainment of the 386 10-17 year-olds arrested during the timeframe with the average. It found that more than one-third of young people had been excluded from school at least once during the period 2009/10, compared to 6 percent for the overall student population.
Amongst those for whom data was available, just half had achieved the expected Level 4 grade in English (52 percent) and Math (51 percent) at Key Stage 2. This compares with 79 percent and 75 percent respectively for all pupils.
A key factor in the low educational attainment is the numbers of those arrested being classified as having “some form of special educational need”. The term is ill-defined, but the MoJ states that 66 percent of young people arrested met this definition, compared with 21 percent of all secondary school pupils.
“However”, it points out, “even restricting the comparison to those with no SEN identified, attainment remains lower among those young people appearing before the courts compared with the national average.”
The statistics speak to the systematic running down of education by Conservative and Labour governments alike. The imposition of targets, league tables, privatisation and other such measures are designed to fail a significant number of working class youth, for whom capitalism has no useful purpose.
As schools face major budget cuts, areas like Special Educational Needs are particularly under attack, while more and more schools have resorted to excluding those perceived to be the most difficult or challenging so as to meet targets for attainment and behaviour.
The MoJ concludes, “It is clear that compared to population averages, those brought before the courts were more likely to be in receipt of free school meals or benefits, were more likely to have had special educational needs and be absent from school, and are more likely to have some form of criminal history.”
The statistics are an effective refutation of the claims made by the government and the media that poverty played no role in the disturbances.
The riots were triggered by the police killing of Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old father of four. Anger was fuelled by the revelation that police claims they had opened fire in self-defence were a lie, and that Duggan had not posed a threat when he was shot down in the street on August 4.
But the fact that the disturbances spread so quickly across London, and then to other cities underscored the extent to which police brutality and social deprivation is a daily fact of life for many working class youth.
The political establishment was at pains to reject these causes—not least because it is currently imposing the most severe austerity measures since the 1930s, which are set to worsen social conditions.
Instead, the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats insisted that the riots were solely the product of criminality and had to be dealt with through state repression. Labour MPs and “community leaders” who have made their privileged careers by exploiting identity politics, based on race and gender, lined up to demand the use of water cannon and other police measures in the inner-cities.
The courts were politically instructed to impose punitive sentences against those arrested, while the government pledged even tougher measures in the future.
Those young people already particularly victimised by the existing social set-up—unemployment, poverty, poor education and the inevitable criminalisation that follows—are to be targeted even further.
A separate report by London’s Metropolitan Police into the disturbances has inaugurated a review of policing measures. Among the issues to be considered are an increase in the training and numbers of riot police and an examination of the cost and effectiveness of deploying water cannon against further disturbances.
It is also reviewing means for “co-ordinating, assessing and prioritising social media content for intelligence purposes,” according to reports.
The Telegraph states, “The report also revealed that rubber bullets, known as baton rounds, could have been used if more specialist officers were available.
“Their use was sanctioned but senior officers elected not to deploy them.”

Obese People Will Attain Majority by 2030

Bad News For Americans And British. A Recent Study Says That By 2030, Half Of U.S. Residents Will S

Health,Fitness,Food & Beverages
People in the UK are little better than Americans. Only 40% of them exceed the limits of normal weight. Desperate, doctors and nutritionists require Washington and London to impose exorbitant fees to fast food networks, as they did with tobacco and alcohol manufacturers. The study by Columbia University is categorically. If the current trend is maintained over 20 years from now, the United States will have 164 million obese, compared to 99 million in present. The British people are worried too because this problem is becoming worse every year and they need to do something right now to decrease the obesity rate.
They think that the growing number of obese people will cost the budget over 2 billion pounds a year. That being said, experts recommend urgent and drastic measures like higher taxes for fast food products and carbonated beverages.
“People know that obesity is a real problem. But they do not know what they can do as individuals about it. Instead governments know what to do and if they manage to convince the population, then the fee will be a popular measure," says Klim McPherson, an epidemiologist at Oxford University.
Scientists on both sides of the Atlantic say that the big companies in the food industry pressure on governments not to take action against them. The same thing happened last decade with tobacco and alcohol manufacturers. Only aggressive anti tobacco campaigns and anti-alcohol were able to change the situation.
Excess weight was associated with increased levels of cholesterol, heart disease or diabetes. New research shows that the layer of accumulated fat around vital organs like heart, lungs or stomach, leads to abnormal pressure on them and this may be potentially fatal to many people.
We need to understand that changing our eating habits is crucial in reducing the obesity world wide and we can do it only if every single person with this kind of problem takes action and chance their life style. For convincing people not to consume fast food and fizzy drinks the government should start a campaign for teaching people how to eat healthy because many of then don’t know what and how to eat to maintain their normal weight.
There are a lot of effective ways to lose weight and the most effective one is to eat healthy food every day and exercise. Also in the same time avoid with any costs fast food, sweets and carbonated beverages.
More details on the importance of healthy eating and how changing your life style will make you feel better and healthier can be found at this website:

Related Articles - weight loss, healthy diets, lose healthy weight,

The Western Spring - The Arabist

Posted: 27 Oct 2011 07:00 AM PDT
I’ve been following the Occupy Wall Street movement in the United States intermittently but with great interest. I am deeply pleased to see people in my country finally express some indignation (indignation that, unlike the Tea Party’s, isn’t high-jacked by racism and right-wing millionaires) over the way financial interests have dominated and perverted our political system. And challenging the insidious restrictions on the use of public space and the freedom of assembly and expression that have proliferated since 9/11 (regarding which, please, please watch this video by genius British activists). 
I’m also fascinated by the fact that the protests in the US and in Europe are so clearly inspired by the so-called Arab Spring.

Hisham Matar on Libya's awakening

Hisham Matar on Libya's awakening

Oct 28, 2011 
Hisham Matar.

One morning in late September, as Libyan rebels launched their final advance on Sirte, Muammar Qaddafi's hometown, Hisham Matar explained to a small, rapt audience at the century-old Chicago Club why the removal of repressive long-time dictators, though great, had not been the most meaningful achievement of the Arab Spring. "Our collective imagination - a whole array of expectations about our governments, our institutions, our dreams - has just shifted," he said. "The horizon has moved much further than even the most audacious of us would have suggested."
Matar speaks softly, but with confidence and precision. "You can see it on people's bodies, in their eyes and their faces, hear it in their voices," he adds during an interview in the lobby of his downtown hotel later that morning. "It's as if these regimes were sitting literally on top of us. There's a new ease, a new optimism, a new sense of ownership of the future. That tiresome record of complaining with resignation at the end of it - that's gone, and it's quite an extraordinary thing to lose so quickly."
Little-known outside literary circles before this year, Matar seems to have surfaced at precisely the right moment to herald a new Arab modernity. Born in New York City in 1970, he moved with his family to Tripoli three years later when his father, Jaballa, resigned from a United Nations posting in objection to the Qaddafi regime. In 1979, Jaballa found himself on a Libyan government watch list and again moved the family, this time to Cairo. He wrote articles calling for democracy, and became a leader of the National Front for the Salvation of Libya. In the mid-80s, Matar was sent to boarding school in the UK, where he stayed to study architecture at university.

On the afternoon of March 12, 1990, Jaballa was taken from the family's Cairo home by Egypt's mukhabarat, handed over to the Libyan government and deposited in Abu Salim prison. Two letters, smuggled out by fellow prisoners in 1992 and 1995, relayed stories of interrogation and torture. The family has not heard from Jaballa since. His fate remains unknown.
Matar's twenties fell away in a decade of hate for the Egyptian and Libyan governments. By 2004, he had moved to Paris, met his future wife and begun work on a novel. In the Country of Men, published in 2006, is the story of a sensitive Libyan boy experiencing the quiet panic of a childhood under despotic terror. The book made the Man Booker Prize shortlist and won the Royal Society of Literature's Ondaatje Prize, honouring a work that evokes "the spirit of a place".
Released early this year, his second novel, Anatomy of a Disappearance, is also narrated by a sensitive Arab youth and has received strong reviews. The story pivots around his father's mysterious abduction and the long-held secrets it reveals. A "chronicle of the dead years", is how the poet and critic Luke Kennard described the book in his February review for this publication. Moving and impressively concise, what ultimately sets Anatomy of a Disappearance apart and makes it something of a modern classic is not just the universality of loss, but the deep humanity of Matar's prose. Written in English, that prose is simple, declarative, and all the more forceful as a result of his great care.

"Every word we utter betrays us, says a little more than what we think we are saying, reveals more than what we anticipated, exposes us further," Matar said during a recent lecture at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
Few better expose the long, dark reach of dictatorship than Matar, which is something of an irony, as Anatomy's publication coincided with the uprisings sweeping the region. Suddenly, Matar was everywhere: writing about Libya and his father in the New York Times, The Guardian and The New Yorker; interpreting the Arab Spring at think-tank discussions and literary festivals; chatting with the BBC, NPR and other news channels.
All at once, and despite spending more than half of his life in the UK, Matar emerged as the new Arab world's unofficial interlocutor to the West. "It's not so much translating or communicating things, but it's dispelling the presumptions that we are quintessentially different," he says of his new role. "I'm very glad to be one of the people in the army of artists that are doing that on both sides. I do think this opportunity is a fantastic moment for anyone interested in culture, to start to define this relationship."
The Arab Spring did not begin with Tunisian fruit-seller Mohamed Bouazizi. Nor did it begin with Iran's green movement in 2009, or Lebanon's so-called Cedar Revolution of 2005. It began more than a century ago, with scholars, writers and revolutionaries who sounded the region's first modern-day clarion call.
Soon after Khayr al-Din, a reformist Circassian legion of the Ottoman Sultan, became prime minister of Tunisia in 1873, he founded Sadiki, a liberal university that taught secularism and emulated European politics. The new college became a breeding ground for the political elite that later built the institutions of an independent Tunisia. Around the same time, Muhammad Abduh, a prize pupil of the bold religious and political thinker Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, gained a pulpit as professor of history at Cairo's Darul Uloom. He denounced unjust rulers, sought harmony among religions and sects and argued that every society should be allowed to choose the form of government best-suited to its era.
And on a June 1880 night in Beirut, a small band of Muslim and Christian men snuck out under cover of darkness and posted placards at street corners and public squares, as co-conspirators did the same in Damascus, Tripoli and Sidon. The message on their poster "rebukes the people of Syria for their lethargy," writes George Antonius in his masterful 1946 history, The Arab Awakening, "incites the people to sink their differences and unite against their tyrants under the inspiration of their 'Arab pride'."
Included were verses from Arise ye Arabs, and awake! Written by Ibrahim Yazeji, the poem is a call to unity and insurgence that appealed to students and gained a wide following despite being too treasonous to print.
Using the social media of their day, 19th century Arab youth spread the word. "The notion of concerted action to throw off the detested yoke is gradually shaping itself," the French writer Barthelemy Denis de Rivoyre wrote after visiting Beirut in 1883. "An Arab movement, newly-risen, is looming in the distance."
The distance was further off than he thought; the nahda sparked several uprisings and an extended surge in Arab nationalism and expression, particularly in Egypt and the Levant, but ultimately fell short of its goals. Word of its demise, however, may have been premature. A century and a quarter on, the Arab Spring seems to have brought the Awakening to fruition. The movement has ousted three leaders and pushed others to the brink- and more than 90 per cent of Tunisia's 4.1m registered voters turned out for the first election of the Arab Spring last week - yet the real coup may have been more social and cultural.
"Regardless of the political outcome in particular countries, this has already heralded a new chapter in Middle East history, one of those epoch-making moments," says Charles Kurzman, sociology professor at the University of North Carolina and co-director for the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations. He is guest-editing a forthcoming issue of the journal Mobilization focused on the region's uprisings. "We've seen this in a variety of ways, particularly in regards to empowerment."
The Arab Spring has shattered the old order. A wealthy Cairene man complained to Matar of a recent outing to buy the newspaper from an old man who'd been selling him the paper for decades. "He drove to the newsstand and said: 'Hey, boy, bring me the paper!'" says Matar. "The old man brought the paper over and said: 'Don't ever talk to me like that again.' That never would have happened before the revolution."
It has unleashed cultural ferment. In 1977, the Qaddafi regime organised a festival of literature - then threw all of the writers who participated in jail. Yet mere months after overthrowing their despots, Egypt and Libya are enjoying an explosion of new periodicals, including 150 new journals and magazines in Benghazi alone. "Most of them aren't very good, but that's alright," says Matar, who is discussing collaborations with Egyptian writers. "It's an exciting time to be an artist in this part of the world."
It has fostered religious and regional unity. In February, the revered Sunni scholar Yusuf al Qaradawi returned to Cairo from Qatar - the first time he'd been in his homeland for 50 years - and delivered a Friday sermon to one million Egyptians of all creeds. He began with: "O Muslims, O Christians," - the second phrase a stunning departure from Islamic tradition, particularly for a conservative imam - and went on to speak in favor of secularism and democracy. Bahrainis recently organised a protest in support of the Syrian opposition. And when Matar arrived in Egypt in August, an immigration official, on learning he was Libyan, told him: "Come on, hurry up. Get rid of that tyrant."
Perhaps most importantly, it has burnished the region's international reputation. Arabs willing to risk their lives for freedom and dignity have gained the moral high ground, particularly on American and Western leaders who colluded with the likes of Qaddafi and Mubarak for decades. For the first time in centuries, the West is looking to Arab nations for lessons on civic responsibility and courage.
Witness the Occupy Wall Street movement. It began in September with a couple of hundred young protesters camping out in Lower Manhattan to protest ineffective governance and the yawning gap between rich and poor but has since swelled to a mini-revolution, inspiring copycats in a hundred other cities worldwide, from Los Angeles to Berlin to Hong Kong. The weak global economy has played a role, as in Arab countries. But the success of uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya has been the spark. "This was absolutely inspired by Tahrir Square, by the Arab Spring movement," Tyler Combelic, a web designer protesting in Lower Manhattan told the New York Times last month.
Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but the highest praise probably came from the Swedish Nobel committee in awarding a share of this year's Nobel Peace Prize to 32-year-old Yemeni activist Tawakul Karman. The choice of Karman, a liberal Islamist, highlights how Arab women have asserted themselves socially, politically, like never before - and underlines a key international concern.
"From a Western perspective, there's been much hand-wringing about instability, particularly about an Islamist government, in Egypt, in Libya," says Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa division, who joined Matar at the Chicago Club breakfast, which had been organised by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. "This is the wrong question. Our goal is to bring about democratic institutions... but we have to keep in mind it's the right of the people in these countries to shape their futures, so it's also in some sense their right to fail."
For Libya, some degree of political failure seems likely, at least in the short-term. It has no Khayr al-Din or Muhammad Abduh in its past and, unlike Tunisia and Egypt, is woefully short of the building blocks of modern governance. Under Qaddafi, Libya had no political parties, parliament, or civil society. The only government ministry worthy of the name was the state oil company. To make matters worse, Italy's fascist colonisers limited Libyans to a third-grade education until the 1950s. "The first educated generation was my father's," says Matar. "Our institutions are really basic."
Larry Diamond, senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution and author of The Spirit of Democracy, estimates Libya might be able to cobble together the rudiments of a democracy in a few years. Libyans returning from abroad, like Ali Tarhouni, who gave up a comfortable economics professorship in Seattle to support the revolution, may help speed the process. Either way, Matar sees the coming period of instability as constructive. "We Libyans need to live through a stage where we don't know what's going to happen," says Matar. "We need to mature through uncertainty. I've always known what I'm supposed to say, supposed to think, and suddenly I don't, and it's very exciting."
Matar has some of the grace often born of suffering and contemplation, and his thoughts echo those of another writer who came to prominence with the overthrow of an oppressive regime. "People have passed through a very dark tunnel at the end of which there was a light of freedom," Vaclav Havel, the dissident playwright, said in a 1990 speech in London, months after the Velvet Revolution ousted Czechoslovakia's communist leadership. "Unexpectedly they passed through the prison gates and found themselves in a square. They are now free and they don't know where to go."
After teaching a literature course at Columbia University's Barnard College this autumn, Matar plans to return to Libya for the first time in more than three decades. His first mission is to find his father - though hope has diminished in recent months as rebels have opened most of the country's prisons with no sign of Jaballa. Next up is building a new Libya. For Matar, the revolution and its success could hardly have been more personal: with the help of friends, he set up a communications centre for the uprising in his London apartment; watching demonstrations on TV, he saw protesters holding photos of his father; and in August, his 22-year-old cousin, a rebel named Izz al-Arab Matar, was killed in the assault on Qaddafi's compound in Tripoli. "I want to know what it's like to have a country again," says Matar, envisioning a cultural role for himself. "This will be a new opportunity for me to engage with Libya in a way that is fuller."
Matar, who has begun batting around ideas for a new novel, says he has no interest in politics or public service. Yet in his UCLA lecture he highlighted the balancing acts performed by Andre Malraux and Mario Vargas Llosa, writers who late in their careers embraced public life. Malraux became a French minister of state and cultural affairs, while Llosa ran for the presidency of Peru. "Both were too good and too honest to let this contaminate their art," Matar said. "They were allowed to be both artists and citizens, to be selflessly committed to their craft but also to critically engage the current issues of their time."
Now that Qaddafi is dead, Libyans are moving forward. Anger at the corruption, cronyism and mismanagement of the old regime is widespread. Diamond warns of a "policy of vengeance" in the new Libya. To Matar, the legacy of "brother leader" represents a singular hurdle. "Qaddafi is a real challenge to Libya's conception of itself," he says. "You can't tell me he's been dropped from Mars, and you can't tell me he did this on his own. What does that say about us? What does that say about our history? Without addressing personal responsibility and accountability we are in great danger of replicating elements of the past."
In the years that followed the Velvet Revolution, President Havel's decision not to chase down and prosecute the two and a half million members of the Czechoslovakian communist party helped the country maintain greater stability than some of its neighbours. "It would be very unreasonable to understand the sad legacy of the last 40 years as something alien, which some distant relative bequeathed to us," Havel said just days after assuming the presidency, on New Year's Day, 1990. "On the contrary, we have to accept this legacy as a sin we committed against ourselves. If we accept it as such, we will understand that it is up to us all, and up to us alone, to do something about it."
The task for Libyans is much greater. Tribal divisions remain, caches of thousands of weapons are scattered across the country and the rebellion created a handful of powerful militia commanders, like Abd al-Hakim Belhaj, who may have difficulty laying down their arms. Back in March, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton worried about Libya "becoming a giant Somalia." Just days before Qaddafi's death, Clinton spoke during a surprise visit to Tripoli University. "One of the problems you will face is how to reconcile different people, how you will bring people into a new Libya and not spend your time trying to settle scores from the past," she said.
Recent reports from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have documented armed militias backed by Libya's Transitional National Council arbitrarily detaining, beating and even torturing Qaddafi loyalists. Rebel fighters are reportedly keeping lists of such loyalists, including up to 10,000 from Sirte alone. And indeed, several mobile-phone videos strongly suggest Qaddafi's killing was an act of vengeful passion committed by angry rebels and Libyan citizens. Few understand the need for retribution as well as Matar, who cautions against it.
"Even as the son of someone who has disappeared, who has been tortured, I don't want revenge," he says, pausing in thought. "What I want is accountability: I want the torturer to know what he's done, to know that he understands the magnitude of his actions. And that's not out of the desire to punish him, but out of the desire to try to see - and it's a big risk to the heart - whether it is possible for me and him to come to regard ourselves as brothers. What it provides as a possibility for the future of Libya is bringing these people from the brink of inhumanity, of savagery, back to society in some way - that respects the suffering of the victims, that respects the desire for accountability, but refrains from revenge and from reprisals and from inflicting pain, and is motivated by the desire for brotherhood."
This sense of creativity, unity, ownership and responsibility Matar praises is not irreversible. The killing of two dozen Copts by Egypt's increasingly powerful military leadership during recent clashes in Cairo has sparked renewed religious animosity. Nationalist and Islamist groups have been energised across much of the region, threatening to change the tenor of events and the thrust of governance. In Syria, Yemen and elsewhere, uprisings have stalled in the face of suppression or turned increasingly violent. New governments in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia are likely to disappoint those hoping for mature democracy. That old malaise could creep back.
Towards the end of the breakfast discussion, Matar urged patience. Outside the second-floor windows of the Chicago Club, a shelf of grey clouds loomed over Grant Park and Lake Michigan beyond. "History moves at such a glacial pace much of the time, and moments like this it seems to move at the speed of light," he said. "But we can't expect it to continue to move at that pace. A hundred years might be a good distance to judge whether this has been a good idea. It's going to take that long for these events to reverberate."

David Lepeska is a freelance writer who contributes to The New York Times, Financial Times and Monocle, and previously served as The National's Qatar correspondent. He lives in Chicago.