Saturday, August 27, 2011

Ofrecen curso de matemáticas para periodistas | IJNet

Ofrecen curso de matemáticas para periodistas | IJNet

5 Reasons Progressives Should Treat Ron Paul with Extreme Caution -- 'Cuddly' Libertarian Has Some Very Dark Politics

He's anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-black, anti-senior-citizen, anti-equality and anti-education, and that's just the start.
August 26, 2011 |

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There are few things as maddening in a maddening political season as the warm and fuzzy feelings some progressives evince for Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, the Republican presidential candidate. "The anti-war Republican," people say, as if that's good enough.

But Ron Paul is much, much more than that. He's the anti-Civil-Rights-Act Republican. He's an anti-reproductive-rights Republican. He's a gay-demonizing Republican. He's an anti-public education Republican and an anti-Social Security Republican. He's the John Birch Society's favorite congressman. And he's a booster of the Constitution Party, which has a Christian Reconstructionist platform. So, if you're a member of the anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-black, anti-senior-citizen, anti-equality, anti-education, pro-communist-witch-hunt wing of the progressive movement, I can see how he'd be your guy.

Paul first drew the attention of progressives with his vocal opposition to the invasion of Iraq. Coupled with the Texan's famous call to end the Federal Reserve, that somehow rendered him, in the eyes of the single-minded, the GOP's very own Dennis Kucinich. Throw in Paul's opposition to the drug war and his belief that marriage rights should be determined by the states, and Paul seemed suitable enough to an emotionally immature segment of the progressive movement, a wing populated by people with privilege adequate enough to insulate them from the nasty bits of the Paul agenda. (Tough on you blacks! And you, women! And you, queers! And you, old people without money.)

Ron Paul's anti-war stance, you see, comes not from a cry for peace, but from the deeply held isolationism of the far right. Some may say that, when it comes to ending the slaughter of innocents, the ends justify the means. But, in the case of Ron Paul, the ends involve trading the rights and security of a great many Americans for the promise of non-intervention.

Here's a list -- by no means comprehensive -- of Ron Paul positions and associates that should explain, once and for all, why no self-respecting progressive could possibly sidle up to Paul.

1) Ron Paul on Race

Based on his religious adherence to his purportedly libertarian principles, Ron Paul opposed the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Unlike his son, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Ron Paul has not even tried to walk back from this position. In fact, he wears it proudly. Here's an excerpt from Ron Paul's 2004 floor speech about the Civil Rights Act, in which he explains why he voted against a House resolution honoring the 40th anniversary of the law:

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 not only violated the Constitution and reduced individual liberty; it also failed to achieve its stated goals of promoting racial harmony and a color-blind society. Federal bureaucrats and judges cannot read minds to see if actions are motivated by racism. Therefore, the only way the federal government could ensure an employer was not violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was to ensure that the racial composition of a business's workforce matched the racial composition of a bureaucrat or judge's defined body of potential employees. Thus, bureaucrats began forcing employers to hire by racial quota. Racial quotas have not contributed to racial harmony or advanced the goal of a color-blind society. Instead, these quotas encouraged racial balkanization, and fostered racial strife.

He also said this: "[T]he forced integration dictated by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 increased racial tensions while diminishing individual liberty."

Ron Paul also occasionally appears at events sponsored by the John Birch Society, the segregationist right-wing organization that is closely aligned with the Christian Reconstructionist wing of the religious right.

Our special feature on:Feminist Daily News 8/26/2011: Women's Equality Day - HERvotes Blogs Grow

Feminist Daily News 8/26/2011: Women's Equality Day - HERvotes Blogs Grow

Friday, August 26, 2011

In favor of bangladesh communist PartyBengali Times | Most popular Bangla newspaper in Canada.

Bengali Times | Most popular Bangla newspaper in Canada.

Bahrain cleric to rulers: Reform or face Gaddafi fate

MANAMA — Bahrain's senior Shia cleric has warned the kingdom's rulers to either ease their grip on power or risk joining Libya's Muammar Gaddafi and other Arab leaders swept aside by Islamic awakenings.

The Friday sermon by Sheik Isa Qassim was attended by thousands of worshippers after Bahrain's justice minister accused the cleric of promoting unrest, AP reported.

Qassim vowed he would not be silenced, saying it's his religious duty to support demands of Bahraini people, who are calling for greater rights.

He said that Bahrain's ruling dynasty can either enact sweeping reforms or risk the same fate as Gaddafi and the ousted presidents of Egypt and Tunisia.

Bahrain's protests began in February inspired by other Arab uprisings.

Meanwhile, in defiance of a government ban on Quds Day rallies in Bahrain, protesters took to the streets on Friday to mark the international event and set Israeli flags on fire, Press TV reported.

Witnesses said hundreds of Bahrainis held demonstrations in Manama and several villages to protest against the government ban on the anti-Israeli rally and show solidarity with Palestinians.

Bahraini protesters called for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Celebrate Women’s Equality Day: Demand Equality!

Friday, August 26 marks the 91st anniversary of the vote for women in the US. On August 26, 1920, Congress passed the 19th Amendment to the Constitution after a 72-year campaign which began in 1848 at the world’s first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York.

The struggle for American women’s right to vote was long, difficult, and at times, divisive. The Suffrage movement split after the Civil War over whether to support adoption of the 15th Amendment, which gave black men the right to vote, or to insist that women be included before they would endorse it. One faction insisted on universal voting rights legislation at the federal level, while others approached the issue state by state.

Few of the original suffragists lived to see the successful results of the work they started. As a new generation of suffragists joined the movement, they used more active tactics, including mass marches and hunger strikes. As a result, they were arrested and sent to prison, where they were chained, beaten and force-fed. In 1971, Rep. Bella Abzug introduced a proposal to commemorate their struggle each year on August 26 as Women’s Equality Day.

Although American women now have the right to vote in all public elections, the struggle for equal rights for women in our country is not over. There is still no Equal Rights Amendment in the US Constitution, and one of our Supreme Court justices, Antonin Scalia, has stated that the protection from discrimination granted by the 14th Amendment does not apply to women, but only to discrimination on the basis of race.

In addition, the US is one of only seven countries in the world that has not yet ratified the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). One hundred eighty-seven countries have now ratified this international bill of rights for women, leaving the US in the company of Iran, Somalia, Sudan and three island countries in the South Pacific that have not yet done so. The United States is the only industrial and the only Western Hemisphere country that has not ratified CEDAW.

As we celebrate Women’s Equality Day, we still have work to do! We should honor those who won our right to vote by finishing the work they started. We need to urge our Senators to ratify CEDAW and get on with the business of writing an Equal Rights Amendment into our Constitution. By guaranteeing full citizenship and freedom from discrimination for American women and girls, the United States would renew its proud tradition of promoting and protecting human rights around the world.

Tags: CEDAW, Equality, Women's Empowerment, women's rights

This entry was posted on Friday, August 26th, 2011 at 12:08 pm and is filed under USA, Women's Rights. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
One Response to “Celebrate Women’s Equality Day: Demand Equality!”

1. David Maciewski Says:
August 26th, 2011 at 1:14 pm

I was entirely supportive of the statement and petition up to “…the United State would renew would renew its proud tradition of promoting and protecting human rights around the world” which made me wince. Made me think of a piece about a year or two back by Noam Chomsky, in which he deconstructed the idea of the U.S. being such a civilizing “city on a hill” in the words of, was it Woodrow Wilson or somebody else. Anyways, a problematic notion, which has been used to justify imperial policies that include a long track record of human rights abuses. I’ll review the petition, but if it has similar rhetoric, I’m not signing.

The Pentagon power elite is waging a global war whose size and scope has never been revealed... until now.

A few weeks ago, in a conversation with U.S. Special Operations Command spokesman Colonel Tim Nye, Nick Turse - one of the great investigative reporters on military power and national security - learned something truly shocking. He found out that, on any given day, American commandos are carrying out secret missions in 70 countries. And here is some startling news -- by the end of the year, that number is likely to reach 120.

That’s right. You read that correctly. America’s secret commandos are carrying out operations in 120 countries around the world. What Nick learned provides striking new evidence of a rising clandestine Pentagon power elite, waging a secret war in about 60% of the world’s nations -- a far larger number than was previously acknowledged. This represents a huge expansion by the Obama administration over that of George W. Bush, who deployed "Special Ops" troops in 60 countries.

As Turse points out: Without the knowledge of the American public, a secret unit within the U.S. military -- U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) -- has grown into a combined force of startling proportions. Made up of the Army’s “Green Berets” and Rangers, Navy SEALs, Air Force Air Commandos, and Marine Corps Special Operations teams, in addition to specialized helicopter crews, boat teams, civil affairs personnel, para-rescuemen, and even battlefield air-traffic controllers and special operations weathermen, SOCOM carries out the United States’ most specialized and shadowy missions. These include assassinations, counterterrorist raids, long-range reconnaissance, intelligence analysis, foreign troop training, and weapons of mass destruction counter-proliferation operations.

This is the kind of reporting that is necessary if we are to challenge the Obama version of the expansion of military intrusions all over the globe. Investigative journalism is essential. Will you help support it?

Nick Turse, the guy who broke this story, is a key part of AlterNet's editorial team, overseeing our new strategic coverage area: Empire. Nick is an award-winning investigative reporter, historian and author of The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives. Nick has written a batch of stories for AlterNet over the years and worked closely with the groundbreaking Tom Dispatch. And now we will have him, with your help, aiming his laser focus, uncovering dirt and details on the relentless expansion of U.S. military operations all around the world, even as the country suffers from huge jobless rates, unrelenting hunger, persistent poverty, and a truly distorted sense of priorities.

I don't have to tell you how important this work is. Needless to say, keeping an eye on our secret military takes time and isn't cheap. Can you help fund Nick's research and writing with a contribution right now?

In return, we promise you that we will have superb reporting and inside information on the growth of the president's super-secret "private army" that can be sent to assassinate targets around the world, with just a signature from Barack Obama.

The true victims of religious extremism

Polygamist Warren Jeffs (C) is flanked by Las Vegas Metro Police SWAT officers during an extradition hearing at the Clark County Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, in this August 31, 2006 file photograph. – Reuters Photo

He is a polygamist religious leader who married many women, including underage girls, and raped a minor. He banned parades, dances and magazines like the Sports Illustrated and Car and Driver and yet revelled in the company of multiple wives.

If this description brings to mind an Arab sheikh or a Taliban leader, you are way off the mark. The man is neither an Asian Muslim of Arab or Afghan descent nor is he from a primitive society. Rather, he is Warren Jeffs, 55, a Caucasian who was heading the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) in America. The Christian sect, with a membership of 10,000, preaches that “polygamy brings exaltation in heaven.” But Mr Jeffs’ idea of reaching to the heaven was pretty botched up, with him marrying and raping underage girls.

Testifying against Mr. Jeff, one of his former followers, Ms. Ezra Draper said the leader set such a trend that “… FLDS men began taking brides younger and younger after Jeffs took over the polygamous group in 2002.”

But in his controlling and dominating attitude towards women, Jeffs is not alone. A few days ago, the Indian press reported that Maoist guerillas are sexually abusing their female comrades in arms. An ex-female commander of Maoist group, who had surrendered to the government, narrated her ordeal of how she was sexually abused over the years.

The stories bring to fore the fact that it is not only primitive societies where misogyny is prevalent. In many fundamentalist religious movements–be it in the US, Europe or on anywhere else—it always boils down to owning the women or changing their status equivalent to a piece of chattel. Whether it is the al Qaeda of the Middle East, Taliban of Afghanistan-Pakistan, or Mr. Jeff’s FLDS, their whole ‘revolution’ takes inspiration from the lives of medieval kings who always had many consorts and sexual slavery, usually of women taken as part of loot after wars, was rampant.

In many fundamentalist religious movements – be it in the US, Europe or on anywhere else—it always boils down to owning the women or changing their status equivalent to a piece of chattel. – AFP Photo

Consider the concept of baraat (bridegroom’s marching band) for instance. It comes from the old tradition when the girls had to be taken after conquering the bride’s family. This why the baraat used to comprise of males only and most of them armed: it is carried on as fun and ornamentation now. The origin of Sithnian (سٹھنیاں) — Punjabi cursing songs by which the women from the bride’s side welcome the bridegroom’s party—has also come from the same origin, signifying the baraati as an invading gang ready to ‘snatch’ the girl. With the passage of time the men from bride’s side gave up combating but the women, usually better carriers of tradition, kept protesting. The women, knowing that marriage is another kind of slavery where the ownership changes from father to husband, could be another reason for the continuation of these cursing songs.

In this backdrop, it is not surprising that the revival of old religious values and popping up of fundamentalist religious sects in the modern times are usually focused on limiting the freedom of the women. Mr. Jeffs or Mr. Arab sheikh, chauvinist Pakistani, Khalistani Sikh or part of Hindu saffron type (encouraging revival of Satti in India) are all the same when it comes to the status of women. It is the women who bear the brunt of rising fundamentalism or extremist religious movement. Many, even enlightened and progressive men, have sympathies with obscurantism in the name of geo-strategic policies. The mindset of male domination is so prevalent that even the Maoists, who are supposed to be gender blind, are committing sexual crimes against their own comrades.

The female plight, specifically, in the fundamentalist movement, should be acknowledged and no one nation or country should be singled out as the scapegoat. Rather, a distinction should be made between societies/countries where the state sanctioned ideology encourages such abuses and those where it is a marginal phenomenon. A Texas jury on August 9, 2011 sentenced Jeffs to life in prison plus 20 years for sexually assaulting two girls he claimed as “spiritual” brides. While Jeffs has been handed down a severe punishment by the US judicial system, such cases are ignored in countries like Pakistan where state ownership of religious ideology and brainwashing of masses is causing honour killings, live burying of women and gang rape. It is about time we do away with the values that flourish hatred against women and restrict their freedom.

Genocide Trial of Khmer Rouge Leaders Likely Delayed Until 2012

Former Khmer Rouge social affairs minister Ieng Thirith sits at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) on the outskirts of Phnom Penh June 29, 2011. The four most senior surviving members of Cambodia's murderous Khmer Rouge regime went on trial for war crimes on Monday, three decades after its "year zero" revolution marked one of the darkest chapters of the 20th century.

"They will appoint international and national psychiatric expertise to conduct a further assessment on Ieng Thirith’s fitness to stand trial.”

Court sources and observers in Cambodia say the genocide trial of four surviving Khmer Rouge is now likely to be delayed, yet again.

That follows an acknowledgment by the Khmer Rouge tribunal that one of the defendants requires psychiatric tests to determine her fitness to stand trial.

The court is no stranger to delay, but recent events have revealed yet another possible suspension in the proceedings against four surviving Khmer Rouge leaders.

Late last year, court officials were predicting that the trial for Case 002 would begin by mid-2011. But the recent confirmation that former social affairs minister Ieng Thirith needs a psychiatric assessment means it is now unlikely to start before January.

Court spokesman Lars Olsen says next week, the court will discuss recent medical reports examining the physical abilities of three defendants to stand trial. But the doctor who carried out those examinations has also recommended that Ieng Thirith have a psychiatric assessment.

“And this is what the Trial Chamber will in the very near future do, Olsen says. "They will appoint international and national psychiatric expertise to conduct a further assessment on Ieng Thirith’s fitness to stand trial.”

All of that will take time. It will likely be months before the psychiatric report is finalized, discussed and then ruled on by the tribunal. Because the court wants to try the defendants together, the case cannot start until Ieng Thirith is declared mentally fit or unfit to stand trial.

Anne Heindel, legal adviser at Phnom Penh-based genocide research organization DC-Cam, explains the legal principle behind being found unfit for trial.

“It’s not just a medical assessment," Heindel says. "It’s the legal evaluation of a medical assessment. Can you participate in your defense? Can you instruct your counsel? Do you understand what your plea means? Do you understand what’s going on in the proceedings?"

If Ieng Thirith is found to be unfit for trial, Anne Heindel adds, that could mean a temporary or even a permanent suspension of the case against her, depending on how she responds to treatment.

“The hope is always that with medical assistance somebody could then become fit for trial, and the trial could proceed at that point," she says. "With mental illness, if that’s what it is, it’s obviously much less certain than with a physical ailment and harder to judge.”

The other former leaders facing trial are: Nuon Chea, who was deputy to the late Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot; Khieu Samphan, the regime’s head of state; and Ieng Sary, the former foreign minister.

All four deny charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Court spokesman Lars Olsen says at this stage it is not possible to say when their trial will start.

“The Trial Chamber is trying the best to start the trial this year, but it’s not possible to schedule the start of the hearing of evidence before the fitness issue has been dealt with, and also some other preliminary objections," says Olsen. "So we don’t know.”

Every delay reduces the chances for a successful trial because of the ages of the defendants. The youngest of them is 79 years old and the longer their trial drags on, the greater the chance that health problems could disrupt the proceedings.



Thursday, August 25, 2011






Meeting of Awami League will held in Dhaka Reporter's Unity

Babu Suranjit Sen Gupta

Press Release from Jatiyo Party

LIBYA: Rebel leaders say transition 'begins immediately'

Mahmoud Jibril, one of the leaders of the Libyan rebel government, said that the country's transition "begins immediately" and that Qatar would host a meeting Wednesday to organize $2.4 billion in aid.

"The fall of the capital means the fall of the regime," Jibril told CNN. "I wouldn't be exaggerating to say that, within the next couple of days, many other liberations will happen."

He added, "In Libya, you say, 'Chop the head and the veins will dry up.' "

Jibril was already planning for the future Tuesday.

"We will build a new Libya, with all Libyans as brothers for a united, civil and democratic nation," Jibril, No. 2 in the rebels' Transitional National Council, said at a Doha, Qatar, news conference Tuesday covered by Agence France-Presse.

"This is the new Libya where every Libyan works as a beloved brother, hand in hand, to serve the interests of the nation to ensure equality and justice for everyone," he said. "We have to be transparent in front of the whole world. Now we have to concentrate on building and healing our wounds."

Jibril said the meeting of donor nations would be "to make provisions and arrange for $2.4 billion for the [council] in order to pay salaries of Libyans before Eid and to arrange for all the medical treatment and the artificial limbs which are required for the injured."

Eid al-Fitr is a holiday that marks the end of the monthlong Muslim celebration of Ramadan.

Jibril praised "our revolutionaries," who he said "have written a page in history."

"They allowed Tripoli to be liberated, and for that help they are in our hearts," he said.

Spokesmen for the new government said it did not matter that Moammar Kadafi had yet to be located late Tuesday.

"It doesn't matter," Mahmoud Shammam, the rebels' information minister, told CNN, adding that rebel forces controlled 90% of the country.

"In a few hours, maximum a few days, we have a new Libya, a new, liberated Libya," Shammam said.

He told CNN that fighting Tuesday was not confined to Tripoli, but raged in several cities "in three or four fronts."

Work was underway to move the rebels' base from Benghazi to Tripoli, Shammam said.

"Half of the government will be in Tripoli tomorrow morning," he told CNN, including the ministries of oil, communications, interior, defense and health.
Crucial to the rebels' ultimate success, he said, will be the release of assets in foreign banks frozen after the start of the uprising.

"We need to provide ourselves with a lot of necessities and we cannot do this without money," Shammam said.

The rebel government gained legitimacy Tuesday as a number of holdout governments and coalitions recognized it, including Egypt and the Arab League. Jibril is expected to meet with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in Milan on Thursday.

However, some are questioning whether Jibril and other rebel leaders can maintain control over their forces, particularly the more than 40 private militias, or katiba. There is also the question of how rebel leaders will deal with Kadafi's tribe and supporters such as the Warfalla. They have drawn criticism for quickly drafting and releasing a draft interim constitution last week without more consultations, and although a U.S. State department spokeswoman said Western officials plan to help with constitution writing, it remains unclear how receptive Libya's new leaders will be to outside help.

Holly Ramadan: Praying month of the year

Lokpal Bill row: Team Anna representative meets Salman Khursheed Read more at:

New Delhi: Hours after Anna Hazare vowed to continue his fast against corruption despite his frail health, a member of his core team has met with Law Minister Salman Khursheed. Anna's aide Arvind Kejriwal reportedly met with the minister. This morning, Mr Kejriwal had said that despite comments to the media about being open to negotiations with Team Anna, the government had yet to formally offer a meeting to the activists.

Anna and his team of advisors - referred to as Team Anna - have so far been insisting that Parliament should adopt their version of the anti-corruption Lokpal Bill. 74-year-old Anna, who is on the eighth day of his fast, reiterated that demand this morning to an audience of thousands at Ramlila Maidan, which is serving as his camp against corruption. But his advisors today indicated flexibility, suggesting that like the government, they want to find a compromise quickly.

Amid concerns about his health and hunger strike, Anna appeared on stage at his camp against corruption in Delhi and said, "I have been fasting for eight days but I am fine. There is no cause for concern. The doctors attending to me won't let me die. I've lost 5.5 kilos," the 74-year-old said, seen today without his trademark Gandhi topi or cap. Doctors say the 74-year-old activist is frail but not in critical condition. (Read: Who is Anna Hazare?)

His health - and the apparently inexhaustible supply of goodwill that Anna evokes - has the government scrambling to find a solution that would be acceptable not just to Team Anna, but the Opposition as well.

An all-party meeting has been set for 3.30 tomorrow afternoon. Spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is being used as a channel for negotiations between all three sides - the government, the Opposition and the activists. Sources say the Congress is also pressuring General Secretary Rahul Gandhi to intervene and broker peace with Anna and his associates.

Among Anna's main objections to the government's draft of the Lokpal Bill is that it doesn't apply to the PM, senior judges or junior bureaucrats. While the government may agree to let the Bill apply to the Prime Minister, the activists say they could be persuaded to accept other pieces of legislation that would tackle corruption among senior judges and junior bureaucrats.

The government chose to introduce its version of the Lokpal bill earlier this month in Parliament, prompting Anna's fast. That bill was sent to the Standing Committee of Law and Justice and Personnel - a panel that combines 31 MPs from different parties. Last week, a Congress MP, Praveen Aron, tabled Anna's version of the Bill before the same committee. Congress sources say he was encouraged to do so; it allows the Standing Committee to now deliberate Anna's Bill as well, or add features from it to the government's version. (Read: What is Jan Lokpal Bill?)

Read more at:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Expression from Oppositetion Spokeman:সারা দেশে মহাসড়কের দুরাবস্থা এ সরকারেরই প্রতিচ্ছবি: ড. মোশাররফ রাজনীতি

সারা দেশে মহাসড়কের দুরাবস্থা এ সরকারেরই প্রতিচ্ছবি: ড. মোশাররফ রাজনীতি

BANGLADESH ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCE'S NEWSগভীর সমুদ্রে তেল টার্মিনাল নির্মাণে আগামী মাসে দরপত্র এক্সক্লুসিভ

গভীর সমুদ্রে তেল টার্মিনাল নির্মাণে আগামী মাসে দরপত্র এক্সক্লুসিভ

WHATS HAPPENING IS BANGLADESH POLITICSহাসিনাকে মাইনাস করার ষড়যন্ত্রকারীদের নাম প্রকাশ করা হবে: আশরাফুল রাজনীতি

হাসিনাকে মাইনাস করার ষড়যন্ত্রকারীদের নাম প্রকাশ করা হবে: আশরাফুল রাজনীতি

IS THESE PRESS FREEDOM!!!একরামুল হকের নিঃশর্ত মুক্তির দাবি নিউজ টোয়েন্টিফোরের দেশের আরো খবর

একরামুল হকের নিঃশর্ত মুক্তির দাবি নিউজ টোয়েন্টিফোরের দেশের আরো খবর

Press Release from jatiyo Party

Norway: terror and Islamophobia in the mirror

As Norway ends its first month of mourning, media soundbites tell us that there is a desire to draw a line and move on. But there are lessons to be learned about the consequences of institutional ‘hate speech’ and prejudice in high places. Can Norway lead the way in learning these lessons?

Friday 22 July 2011 will forever be etched into the Norwegian collective memory as the day when small Norway was struck by large-scale terrorism for the first time in history. A few weeks of massive rainfalls have now washed away the dust from the bomb at Government Headquarters in downtown Oslo, as well as the blood from the massacre at Utøya, a small island an hour’s drive from Oslo, which killed a total of 77 Norwegians. For the many thousands of Norwegians who are affected by this tragedy, the process of coping with grief has merely begun. As we mourn, the process of analyzing and interpreting the motives of the perpetrator has begun.

However, a process paralleling our mourning is already taking shape. This is a process in which those explanations which situate Norway as a breeding-place for Europe's first anti-Muslim terrorist, linking it with the direction we as a society have taken in this era of Islamophobia, are deliberately marginalized. A de-politicizing and de-contextualizing narrative about a psychopathological lone individual terrorist who might as well have been a Martian is in the process of being constructed. At the moment, this is a narrative especially prevalent with public intellectuals linked to the right in Norway as well as elsewhere. It is, however, a narrative imposition which is being forcefully resisted, not the least from Norway’s most popular politician in recent years, Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre of the Labour Party, who has made it clear publicly that the terror in Oslo and at Utøya were political acts. For despite the intense hatred on the part of terrorist and mass murderer, Anders Behring Breivik, of modern multicultural Norway in general, and especially the three per cent of its population that is of Muslim background, together with their alleged ‘enablers’ among Norwegian social-democrats in the supposed struggle to establish Muslim ‘dominance’ in Norway, there still exist a fair number of Norwegians who might with some reservations regard Breivik as ‘one of us.’

What places him squarely outside their fold are his actions, not his words. In the minds of most Norwegians, after all, peace-loving Norway and its peace-loving inhabitants represent the universal good, now and forever. No matter how many innocent civilians are killed by Norwegian soldiers in Muslim countries, no matter how tainted our public discourse on Islam and Muslims has become – we still manage to turn a blind eye to the hatred in our midst.

Some of us are already having grave doubts about whether this terrorist attack will have changed much for the better in the future. As a case in point, the tabloid newspaper VG, which is the favourite read of supporters of the right-wing populist party the Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet, Frp, hereafter, PP), had to close down a web commentary field after ten minutes less than two weeks after the terror attacks due to the extent of the Islamophobic and racist posts from readers. On various social media, Islamophobic and racist abuse has continued unabated since 22/7, in spite of mainstream politicians’ calls for respect, dignity and civility in a time of national mourning.

In the wake of September 11 2001, Norwegian researchers on international terrorism established themselves as some of the world’s leading terrorism experts. It is telling that among the fine and dedicated scholars of terrorism at the Terrorism Research Group (TERRA) at the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment (FFI) outside Oslo, not a single researcher has a position dedicated to the study of forms of terrorism other than those of a militant Islamist orientation. Yet available statistics from Europe in recent years have suggested that militant Islamist terror attacks represent only a small fraction of the total number of recorded terrorist attacks on European soil. Norwegian experts on terror have long presented us with the scenario that in the event that Norway would be struck by terrorism, it would be terror perpetrated by radical Islamist movements, or by individuals inspired by such movements. The Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) has told us more or less the same thing. In their annual open assessment on terror threats in Norway, issued a few months before Behring Breivik’s attacks, PST noted among its introductory and main conclusions that right-wing extremists would ‘not present a serious threat to Norwegian society in 2011 either.’ One may suspect them of not having properly applied themselves to the lessons of history. Almost all acts of political violence in modern Norwegian history have been perpetrated by the far right.

I was not surprised to be receiving a call from a Norwegian newspaper reporter shortly after hearing the bomb blast from the Government Buildings. The reporter in question wanted me to confirm that, “this was all about Islam.” “I am not an expert on terrorism”, I told him; “But you are an expert on Islam, aren’t you?” he replied, as if the competences were more or less interchangeable. It didn't seem to matter that downtown Oslo was in chaos, or that neither the police nor the media themselves had any information about the offender or his motives: the reporter desperately needed intellectuals or scholars who could support his story.

He hung up when I made it perfectly clear to him that I knew nothing about who the perpetrators could possibly be, and that for that matter, neither did he. But there were of course many individuals willing to confirm his presuppositions. Walid al-Kubaisi (1958 -), an Iraqi-born atheist, writer, and propagator of Eurabia-views, confirmed to the reporter in question that “Islamists” were behind this attack. To Finansavisen the next day, he solemnly declared that he had for a long time “anticipated this”, and that one should now ask Norwegian Islamists (read: most Muslims, for the lines are extremely blurred in al-Kubaisi’s public fantasies) to “integrate, or get out.” NRK, the national radio and television network, provided much air time after the blast to one Helge Lurås from the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI), who in spite of not having any publications on terrorism whatsoever to his record, spent a number of hours informing a Norwegian public by then glued to their television sets that the bombings at the Government Buildings bore the imprimatur of “radical Islamists”. The international media and its terrorism commentariat were no better. Charlie Brooker: “It wasn’t experts speculating, it was guessers guessing – and they were terrible.” An obscure radical Islamist movement entitling itself Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami, known for some time to assume responsibility for terror attacks with which it has nothing to do, provided welcome assistance for the narrative that was already established by immediately announcing its responsibility for the bombings at Government Headquarters.
Not on the radar

As all of this unfolded in the immediate wake of the bomb blast, many Norwegian Muslim residents in Oslo and elsewhere feared for their lives. Oslo residents of Muslim minority background experienced various forms of verbal abuse, were chased through the streets and physically assaulted by fellow Norwegians acting out personal fantasies of revenge in the streets of the capital that very afternoon. As I went to bed late in the evening on 22/7, news of the shooting spree at Utøya where the Labour Party’s Youth Movement AUF held their annual camp, had started pouring in. It was at this point that many Norwegians were starting to have second thoughts about possible perpetrators and motives. For this island camp seemed an extremely unlikely target for radical Islamists. It suggested instead an intimate knowledge of Norwegian democratic politics and political movements. I recall my wife having told me, “What if this is a madman with links to the PP?” before we kissed goodnight that dreadful evening.

We should not be surprised that the man who has confessed the acts of terror, and who is now in detention in Oslo, was never on the radar of PST intelligence. Anders Behring Breivik (aged 32) was raised among the political and economic elite in Western Oslo. He is the son of a retired senior diplomat at the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and a nurse, who split up when Breivik was one year old. The multicultural footprint in the parts of Oslo in which Behring Breivik grew up is extremely light. He is an admirer of Winston Churchill and the Norwegian World War II resistance hero, Max Manus. He was a member of the PP’s youth movement (FpU) from 1997 to 2007. In the hours before he embarked on his murdering spree, he sent a 1,500-page cut-and-paste ‘Manifesto’ to 1003 recipients linked to far-right movements all over Europe and in Israel via e-mail. In this ‘Manifesto’ and on the You Tube-clip which introduces it, he declares himself a “Christian” and a “conservative” nationalist over and over again. Yet his purported Christianity is of an instrumental, not spiritual kind. There are echoes in the final section, which is a diary of sorts, of Patrick Bateman in Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho: Behring Brevik lists his favourite eau de cologne (Chanel Platinum Egoiste), his favourite t-shirt brand (Lacoste), his favourite authors (Kafka and Orwell) and his favourite soccer team (Lyn). He describes his ‘Christian’ ambivalence about sleeping with sex workers during a trip to Budapest and expresses satisfaction with his own physical appearance after plastic surgery. When burying weapons and ammunition in the woods, he is annoyed with himself for having forgotten mosquito repellants.

In The Locked Room in his New York Trilogy from 1987, Paul Auster writes that “no one can cross the boundary into another – for the simple reason that no one can gain access to himself.” And Behring Breivik, for all his obsessively narcissistic Foucauldian ‘care of the self’, presents us with the mystery of a man who does not know himself, and for rather obvious reasons does not want others to know him. He describes his best teenage friend as a Muslim who supposedly abandons him in favour of ‘other Pakistanis’ at the end of his teenage years. He appears to take exception to neo-Nazism and racial theories, and endorses Israeli soldiers as ‘frontline soldiers’ in the battle against a supposed Muslim ‘expansion’ in Europe, yet prepares for his acts of terror listening to neo-Nazi and racist music, and spends considerable time on neo-Nazi websites. He expresses a certain level of revulsion at the public and official recognition of gay rights in Europe, yet appears to have been sighted on several occasions in Oslo’s gay community.

What is perhaps most striking in the material posted by Behring Breivik on extreme as well as mainstream right-wing internet sites is how unremarkable they are. In this era of uncensored and unedited freedom of speech and Islamophobia, his opinions and attitudes are hardly distinguishable from utterances in various social media, and sometimes even in mainstream print media in Norway. There are no overt calls for violence in any of his postings. Monitors at more mainstream websites where he has also left electronic traces have reported that his postings were by no means the most radical or extreme ones. On August 5, the identity of Anders Behring Breivik’s ideological source of inspiration, the blogger ‘Fjordman’, was revealed. Behring Breivik refers to ‘Fjordman’ no less than 111 times in his ‘Manifesto’, and the first part of the ‘Manifesto’ contains no less than 39 ‘essays’ by ‘Fjordman’ from the latter’s postings on various far-right Islamophobic European websites. The subtitle of Behring Breivik’s tract (‘A European Declaration of Independence’) seems to have been lifted directly from an essay by ‘Fjordman’ on in 2007. After weeks of intense media speculation and a police interrogation, his identity was revealed by the Norwegian tabloid newspaper VG in a kid-glove interview on August 5. ‘Fjordman’ turned out to be a 36yr.-old former Norwegian student of Arabic at the University of Bergen and the American University of Cairo, and an MA graduate in Media Studies from the University of Oslo by the name of Peder Are Nøstvold Jensen. A worker at a day-care centre in Oslo, Jensen had experienced some kind of ‘far right epiphany’ as a result of 9/11. Jensen had not been on the radar of PST, and this in spite of the fact that his many blog postings since 2005 include many instances of direct incitement to violence against Muslims in Norway and Europe.
Lost innocence

In the days after the terrorist attacks, many Norwegian editors resorted to the well-used metaphor that Norway had now ‘lost its innocence.’ This reflects a highly selective if not downright amnesic view of reality. For many Norwegian Muslims, who now comprise 3 per cent of Norway’s population of 4.9 million, Norway lost its innocence prior to the local elections in 1987. For it was during a campaign meeting that year that Carl Ivar Hagen, the then leader of the PP (established in 1973 as an anti-taxation and anti-bureacratic party), presented a false letter allegedly written by ‘Mohamed Mustafa’, a Norwegian Muslim living in Oslo. The false letter stated that Norway was to become a Muslim country; that the cross in Norway's flag would be replaced by a crescent; that churches would be turned into mosques – all of this because of the supposedly high fertility of Muslim women in Norway.

A lawsuit from Mr. Mustafa against Mr. Hagen and the PP followed; it was settled out of court. But the pattern had been established. The PP had discovered the electoral appeal of Islamophobia and anti-immigrant views; the electorate had discovered the PP. It gained many new voters, particularly from disgruntled working-class turned service-class voters from the Labour Party. The year 1987 represents PP’s electoral break-through in Norway, and the party's anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic rhetoric has changed little since then. However, what has changed is Frp's voter turnout (22.9 per cent in 2009), the intensity of the Islamophobia expressed by its MPs and party leaders, and the degree of influence exerted by PP on other mainstream parties’ policies of immigration and integration.

But, as the late Norwegian social anthropologist Marianne Gullestad cautioned in Plausible Prejudice (2006), it would be wrong to focus exclusively on the Islamophobia and racism within this party’s ranks. The most prominent Eurabia author in Norway is in fact the former Conservative Party MP, Hallgrim Berg. His book Letter to Lady Liberty: Europe in Danger was published in a Norwegian as well as English personal imprint in 2007. Funded by the prestigious Fritt Ord Foundation, it was extensively covered by the Norwegian mainstream media. Berg even presents the Islamophobic Eurabia-ideologue ‘Fjordman’ as an authoritative source in his book. Whilst clearly uncomfortable with a respected party members’ venture into the darker recesses of Islamophobic literature, Berg’s Conservative Party refused to publicly criticize him. And earlier this year, the chairman of the Socialist Left Party (SV) at Nordstrand in Oslo, Morten Schau, was forced to rescind his party membership in SV due to his involvement with the organization Stop the Islamization of Norway (SIAN). SIAN describes itself as a “resistance movement” against the “Islamization of Norway”, declares Islam to be, “a totalitarian system [or “political ideology”] akin to Nazism and Communism” on its web pages, and in 2009 in a televised debate called upon ‘ethnic’ Norwegians to “arm themselves” against the impending “Islamization”. It responded to the terror attacks in Oslo by issuing a statement to the effect that, “without Islam – there would be no terror in Oslo.”
Freedom of speech

Changing perceptions of freedom of speech among the elites, and the mainstreaming of Islamophobia in Norway, have gone hand in hand in the ten years between 9/11 2001 and 22/7 2011. As a result, respectable Norwegian newspapers have printed more and more extreme utterances from Islamophobes of the populist right-wing, and the section 135 (a) in the Norwegian Penal Code, introduced in 1970, banning racism, has since 2006 become utterly dormant. It is not as if Norwegian authorities have not been warned about the extent of Islamophobia in Norway. The first warning, from the Council of Europe’s European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), was issued in its country report on Norway for 2008.

On January 6, 2011, the liberal-conservative daily newspaper Aftenposten, Norway’s leading and most influential newspaper, published an op-ed entitled, ‘A growing disquiet’. Written by Hege Storhaug, feminist head of the organization Human Rights Service (HRS), which has over the past decade forged close links to the PP, the image caption characterized peaceful Muslim demonstrators at Oslo’s University Square in 2010 as “quislings.” Anyone who is slightly familiar with Norwegian history knows that Norway's prime minister during the Nazi occupation (1940–45), Vidkun Quisling, was one of very few Nazi collaborators to be executed at the end of the war. It takes excessive literalism not to notice that incitement to violence - or ‘fighting words’ - directed against Norwegian Muslims hover below the surface in Storhaug’s op-ed. What is disturbing then, is not so much that Ms. Storhaug should hold such views. For her advisor since 2009 has been none other than the Eurabia author cited with recognition no less than 22 times in Behring Breivik’s manifesto, Bruce Bawer, who has been living in Norway since 1999. Storhaug and the HRS have had rather extensive contact with ‘Fjordman’, and have on several occasions recommended as well as re-published his Islamophobic Eurabia propaganda on the HRS website. After 22/7, Storhaug admitted in an interview with liberal daily newspaper Dagbladet, a newspaper for which she once worked herself as a reporter, that she had met ‘Fjordman’ only once in 2003, but found him ‘too extreme’, and could not recall either his name or his physical appearance. This seems to be another case of amnesia, for as the Norwegian freelance reporter Øyvind Strømmen demonstrated shortly thereafter, Storhaug and HRS had in fact recommended ‘Fjordman’s essays for years after this, and even partaken in a special ‘internet symposium’ with him in 2006. But more disturbing than Storhaug’s views is the fact that Aftenposten's cultural and op-ed editor has abrogated his editorial responsibilities by not censoring the caption of her submitted text, and in a situation in which he receives any number of draft op-eds every day, chooses to lend legitimacy to such views by publishing them in the most prestigious op-ed space available in Norway.

The editor in question, Mr Knut Olav Åmås, is not only a gatekeeper for what gets to be printed at Aftenposten, he is also a person with the privilege of shaping public opinion through his editorial choices and editorial columns. “The printed word’, as Åmås so eloquently puts it in his book, “is an edited word.” An ardent fan of Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Alan Dershowitz, and a personal friend of the Danish editor Flemming Rose (who commissioned the cartoons which provoked the global cartoon crisis in 2005-06), Åmås has on no less than two occasions recommended Bruce Bawer’s Eurabia-books to his readers in editorial columns. In a 2008 book, Åmås describes himself as a, “freedom of expression fundamentalist”, and quite mistakenly argues that freedom of expression is an overriding value in international human rights conventions. For Åmås, a guiding principle is that most - if not all - opinions should be aired, so that they may be ‘debated.’

This is a mistaken view, inasmuch as it is based on the contention that most, if not all, opinions will be challenged and contested in the public square. Norwegians who have become used to more and more vile public expressions of Islamophobia and racism in recent years would recognise the futility of debating publicly with Ms Storhaug and others who have pushed the limits of acceptable speech to extremes. For what you then invite, is vile and repeated entries from Storhaug and her collaborators at the HRS website – not to mention anonymous hate mail of the less eloquent and compassionate sort. I speak from experience myself. More Islamophobic hate speech leads to ever more Islamophobic hate speech, not less.

Professor Timothy Garton Ash suggests that if only Anders Behring Brevik had read some mainstream newspaper, his worldviews may have been, “punctured by fact, reason, and common sense.” If only. Individuals growing up in privileged circumstances in Oslo West usually grow up with no small amount of newspapers in their homes, and it is a de-politicizing and decontextualizing myth that Behring Breivik could not have found the same ‘fighting words’ echoing the profoundly disturbing and conspiratorial voices of his mind in Norwegian mainstream media and in publications issued by respectable publishing houses in Norway in recent years. Behring Breivik is if anything an obsessively meticulous man, and in his ‘Manifesto’ refers to extensive reading of newspapers, listening to the radio and watching television. He refers to it as ‘studies’, listing the number of hours spent on them.

In 2010, the largest private TV channel in Norway, TV2, screened a ‘documentary’ by filmmaker and author Walid al-Kubaisi arguing that the Muslim Brothers of Egypt were plotting to turn Europe and Norway into an Islamic state or caliphate through the use of ’baby trolleys, the hijab, democracy, freedom of speech’, and using ordinary Norwegian and European Muslims as ‘willing instruments’. The echoes of Eurabia-literature were more than evident in the ‘documentary’. The ‘documentary’ was co-financed by the prestigious Fritt Ord Foundation and TV2, and earned public plaudits and recommendations from several Norwegian professors, among them Prof. Terje Tvedt at the University of Bergen and Prof Unni Wikan at the University of Oslo.

The late Italian secular feminist Islamophobe Oriana Fallaci’s (1929-2006) Eurabian tract The Rage and the Pride was published in a Norwegian translation by Gyldendal in 2003. Gyldendal is one of Norway’s oldest and most respectable publishing houses. Among sources cited in Breivik’s manifesto is that of Ayaan Hirsi Ali at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Her latest book, Nomad, is a bestseller in Norway, and published by another respectable publishing house, Cappelen Damm. When Hirsi Ali last was in Norway in the spring of 2011, it was to promote her book. Hirsi Ali was fêted by her publisher to a lavish dinner at Oslo’s Grand Hotel (where Nobel Prize Laureates are accommodated), with a small and exclusive group of prominent academics and media editors in attendance. Anders Behring Breivik has nominated her for the Nobel Peace Prize [sic]. And it is not too hard to see why. In Nomad, Hirsi Ali refers to Muslims in Europe as, “almost a fifth column”. The last chapter of her book bears the sentimental title Letter to My Unborn Daughter - a title which paraphrases the late Fallaci’s autobiographical novel Letter to a Child Never Born (1975). Hirsi Ali’s partner, the British historian Niall Ferguson, is another prominent contemporary enthusiast for colonialism, military interventionism as well as Eurabia literature. Ali, who like many other secular feminist enthusiasts for military interventionism in the ‘Muslim world’ and for the domestic repression of Muslims’ religious rights in Europe, is “on a mission to improve the lives of millions of women I have never met” - dedicates the concluding chapter to Fallaci. She was, according to Hirsi Ali, a “remarkable and brave woman.” Some may disagree: in her late years, Fallaci made it to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) for having referred to Muslims as “breeding rats” in her book The Rage and The Pride. Behring Breivik has read Fallaci too. In fact so much so that he cautioned fellow members of the PP’s youth wing against being seen publicly promoting Fallaci’s books, as this would be akin to committing political suicide, on a party internet forum in 2002. Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s works have proven invaluable to Islamophobic neo-conservatives as well as secular western feminists, because her message of Islam's supposed 'barbarity' is delivered in an ‘authentic Muslim women's voice’ – a point made by scholars from Saba Mahmood to Leila Ahmed and Hamid Dabashi.

All right-wing extremist movements in Norway - with an immodesty befitting those engaging in sacred causes - have in recent years solemnly proclaimed that they are opposed to all forms of xenophobia and racism, and insisted that they are merely committed to ‘criticizing religion.’ Not just any ‘religion’ of course, but Islam, a side-long manoeuver which appeals to the instincts of Norway’s liberal media and intellectual elites.

From his 1,500 page-long online manifesto we have learned that Anders Behring Breivik has planned his vile acts for nine years, and that he has read a range of racist and Islamophobic literature, from Bat Ye'or (Gisèle Littmann), via Bruce Bawer and ‘Fjordman’, to Melanie Phillips and Sigurd Skirbekk. He clearly sees himself as a Nietzschean übermensch that no ordinary legal system can punish with any legitimacy. In police interrogations, he has expressed pride, and no remorse whatsoever, over his actions. He will do his utmost to turn his trial, which he has planned for in detail, into a public platform for spreading his vile message far and wide. The aim, after all, is to create the momentum for unleashing a continent-wide war aimed at effacing the presence of Muslims and Islam in Europe. That will not happen. But we should not think that such a call to arms does not have its supporters beyond Behring Breivik’s sympathizers on the far right in Norway and in Europe.
Multicultural Norway is here to stay

In recent years, I have often been approached by young, well-educated and upwardly mobile Norwegian Muslims after public lectures, with the question as to why a society which from government level to that of the media and civil society opposes anti-Semitism in all its forms with all its might, can still deem Islamophobic speech and utterances quite acceptable. I have not been able to provide any plausible answer – let alone comfort for them in their despair.

One of the last things Behring Breivik did before he embarked on his murdering spree was to send his manifesto by e-mail to 1003 contacts across Europe and in Israel who he deemed to be suitably qualified ‘cultural conservatives’. This suggests the workings of a mind and a man who may have been alone, but who certainly did not conceive of himself as being alone in the ideas and views he held. That is not to say that those who have provided the echo chambers for Anders Behring Breivik’s thoughts and ideas in Norway and elsewhere share any direct responsibility for his deeds. But mass murder, as Norway’s most prominent political philosopher, Arne Johan Vetlesen has argued in Evil and Human Agency (2005), requires ideological preparation. And that ideological preparation involves de-humanizing the ‘other’ – whether she be a social democrat, a Muslim or both.

Through the darkness and despair that has descended on Norway, we may nonetheless catch a ray of hope. From now on, it will be much harder for Norwegian media editors, politicians and intellectuals to downplay the existence of Islamophobia in Norway, and even more difficult to argue that the words of racists and Islamophobes are merely words, and that words and actions can be neatly delineated. Those who continue to argue despite all available evidence from language theory and philosophy from Ferdinand de Saussure through Victor Klemperer to John Austin, that speaking is not to act in and upon the world, will now face serious challenges in convincing many Norwegians thereof. It is - pace Ronald Dworkin and other ultra-liberalist champions of free speech - hard to see why public expressions of Islamophobia, similarly to anti-Semitic expressions, should be a necessary evil to accept in order for ‘democratic legitimacy’ to obtain in a secular and liberal society like Norway’s.

Anders Behring Breivik is trying to fight the course of history, but to no avail. Multicultural Norway is here to stay. Period. Several of the young people who survived the Utøya massacre have reported that they were saved by young party comrades with a Muslim minority background. Among the dead, Muslims and non-Muslims were united in their sacrifice. The testimonials of the survivors might very well contribute to the creation of a Norway in which the conspiratorial fantasies of Anders Behring Breivik and other Norwegian racists and Islamophobes will become marginalized in time. Anders Behring Breivik wanted to instigate war. His ideas will be crushed by our humanity and solidarity and our unflinching commitment not to forget the sacrifice of the many murdered in cold blood on a rainy day in Oslo and at Utøya on 22/7/2011. In Memoriam – E Pluribus Unum.

Make It In America: How We Can Bring Manufacturing Back (No, Really)

Bringing manufacturing back to our shores is good policy wedded to great politics. So why aren't we talking about it?
August 22, 2011 |

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In this highly polarized country, one idea about fixing America's economic woes reverberates across ideological, partisan, geographic and class lines: "Let's make things in America again."

And well it should. Although manufacturing accounts for just 12 percent of our economic output, manufacturers shell out 70 percent of our research and development dollars – innovation follows manufacturing.

We've been shedding manufacturing jobs for years. They now make up a smaller share of our economy than at any time since the United States entered World War Two. And their decline has accelerated in recent years; we shed about a third of our manufacturing jobs between 2000 and 2009. Today, the share of the workforce that makes things has been halved since it peaked in 1979. And that period of decline correlates well with a period of stagnant wages and disappearing economic security. That's because many of those jobs were relatively high-paying gigs; many were union jobs with decent benefits.

According to economic reporter Dave Johnson, manufacturing jobs pay 15 percent more, on average, than do service jobs. Johnson also notes that a manufacturing job “supports on average four or five other jobs in the economy—and in some industries far more. For example, the Milken Institute estimates that every computer-manufacturing job in California creates 15 jobs outside the factory.”

So a campaign to bring manufacturing to our shores would be good policy married to excellent politics. Yet calls for doing so are met with scorn from the establishment. We're told those jobs are gone forever, and anyone who says otherwise is pining for a lost era. According to the editorial boards of the Washington Post or the Wall Street Journal, they're Luddites, who don't understand that technology brings us all manner of wonders, or “protectionists,” whose preferred policies would only result in painful unintended consequences.

It is true that some manufacturing jobs have been lost forever to technological advancements. Manufacturing isn't as labor intensive in the age of the robot as it had been mid-century. But the decline in manufacturing as a share of our economic output, rather than the number of jobs in the workforce, has everything to do with chasing cheaper labor, less stringent environmental regulations and other ways to cut costs abroad.

The reason talk of bolstering American manufacturing gets such short shrift is that the most effective means of doing so are unpopular with corporate America, particularly the financial sector. These include losing tax breaks for companies that offshore jobs – or imposing tax penalties on them – adding “buy American” provisions to federal contracts (which requires revisiting some of our trade agreements) and investing in infrastructure repairs and upgrades. Taxing capital gains as income would help spur real investment in general, rather than speculation at the Wall Street Casino (although that investment wouldn't be limited to manufacturing).

And then there's the elephant in the room: America's “strong dollar” policy, the stated goal of keeping the dollar's value high relative to other currencies. There is some debate about whether our strong dollar policy is more rhetoric than reality, but there is little doubt that the powers-that-be at the Federal Reserve – and virtually everyone else in the political and media establishments – believe that a strong dollar serves our long-term interests. As Ezra Klein put it in the Washington Post, “a 'strong dollar' sounds great! It sounds like a strong America, like Old Glory waving in the breeze, like our soldiers planting the flag at Iwo Jima. As for the 'weak dollar,' well, yech. That’s American decline, compact cars, the Vietnam War. We might as well say 'awesome dollar' and 'America-hater dollar.'”

DPJ to pick new PM on Aug 29 if two bills pass this week

The ruling Democratic Party of Japan will choose a new leader on Aug 29 to replace Naoto Kan as party president and therefore as prime minister, a senior party official said Monday.
Kan, Japan’s fifth premier in as many years, has been expected for weeks to announce his resignation amid stinging criticism over his response to the March 11 quake and tsunami disaster and the Fukushima nuclear crisis.
Kan, 64, has since the Fukushima accident strongly advocated a nuclear-free future for Japan, a position that has put him at loggerheads with the conservative opposition and some members of his own party.
The Aug 29 election will be held on the condition that two bills—one of them to promote renewable energy, which Kan has championed—pass this week, said Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) secretary general Katsuya Okada.
The Diet would most likely confirm the new premier on Aug 30.
Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda, 54, has been seen as the frontrunner to replace Kan, and Trade Minister Banri Kaieda, former transport minister Sumio Mabuchi and several others have also thrown their hats into the ring.
However, the focus is now on whether former foreign minister Seiji Maehara, the public’s favorite according to opinion polls, will join the race.
Late Monday, Kyodo news agency cited “a lawmaker close to him” saying that Maehara, 49, had decided to stand, and reported that he would make an announcement Tuesday.
Whoever wins the premier’s job faces urgent challenges—chiefly to rebuild from Japan’s worst post-war disaster while keeping in check a public debt mountain that is already twice the size of the economy.
Almost six months after the quake, tens of thousands of people remain in evacuation centers because of the tsunami and the Fukushima nuclear disaster, which alone forced more than 80,000 people from their homes.
Japan’s post-quake economic recovery has been threatened by global financial woes, market turmoil and the strength of the yen, which last week hit a new post-war high against the dollar, hurting Japanese exports.
The DPJ’s board members agreed on the date for the party meeting to allow for the timely passage of a third extra budget to finance disaster reconstruction, and for steps to tackle the strong yen, Okada said.
He also said that under the schedule the new prime minister will be able to send a new finance minister to a G7 meeting slated for early September.
The DPJ controls the powerful lower house of the Diet after winning a landslide election two years ago that ended half a century of almost unbroken conservative rule, ensuring that the new DPJ president will become Japan’s next premier.
Okada said that official campaigning for the DPJ leadership election will begin Saturday, and that there are plans for a debate among candidates Sunday.
“The reason we chose Aug 29 as the day to elect a new party leader is that we may be able to hold the premiership vote the next day, in the tight parliament schedule,” said Okada.
The current parliamentary session is due to end on Aug 31.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Thank you for your support | Amnesty International

Thank you for your support | Amnesty International

Why Is the Military Spending Millions on Christian Contractors Bent on Evangelizing US Soldiers?

Why do Christian contractors play such a prominent role in our military?
August 21, 2011 |

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When the average American thinks of military spending on religion, they probably think only of the money spent on chaplains and chapels. And, yes, the Department of Defense (DoD) does spend a hell of a lot of money on these basic religious accommodations to provide our troops with the opportunity to exercise their religion while serving our country. But that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the DoD's funding of religion. Also paid for with taxpayer dollars are a plethora of events, programs, and schemes that violate not only the Constitution, but, in many cases, the regulations on federal government contractors, specifically the regulation prohibiting federal government contractors receiving over $10,000 in contracts a year from discriminating based on religion in their hiring practices.

About a year ago, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) began an investigation into just how much money the DoD spends on promoting religion to military personnel and their families. What prompted this interest in DoD spending on religion was finding out what the DoD was spending on certain individual events and programs, such as the $125 million spent on the Army's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program and its controversial "Spiritual Fitness" test, a mandatory test that must be taken by all soldiers. The Army insists that this test is not religious, but the countless complaints from soldiers who have failed this "fitness" test tell a different story. The experience of one group of soldiers who weren't "spiritual" enough for the Army can be read here. But the term "Spiritual Fitness is not limited to this one test. The military began using this term to describe a variety of initiatives and events towards the end of 2006, and this `code phrase' for promoting religion was heavily in use by all branches of the military by 2007.

Although it was clear from the start of MRFF's investigation that determining the total dollar figure for the DoD's rampant promotion of religion (which is always evangelical and/or fundamentalist Christianity) would be next to impossible, as this would require FOIA requests to every one of over 700 military installations to find out how much each is spending out of various funds at the installation level, one thing we could look at was DoD contracts, so that's where we started. What we've found so far is astounding.

Even though this is still an ongoing project, and we'll certainly be finding much more, I thought that given all the current brouhaha over what should be cut from the federal budget, people might be interested to see some of examples of how the DoD is spending countless millions of taxpayer dollars every year to Christianize the military.

As mentioned above, what MRFF is looking at does not include chaplains or chapels -- not even the excessive spending on extravagant "chapels" like the $30,000,000 mega-church at Fort Hood, or the "Spiritual Fitness" centers being built on many military bases as part of what are called Resiliency Campuses. The examples below are all strictly from DoD contracts, with the funding coming out of the appropriations for things like "Operations and Maintenance" and, somehow, "Research and Development." (Summaries of all contracts referenced below are publicly available

Evangelical Christian Concerts Under the Guise of "Spiritual Fitness"

One of the most direct expenditures of money on religious proselytizing, under the guise of "Spiritual Fitness" spending, is the funding of concerts with the top evangelical Christian performers. These concerts are most prevalent on Army posts, although they also occur on installations of other branches of the military. One concert series that stands out, both because soldiers were punished last year for not attending one of the concerts and because of the cost of hiring the musical acts, is the "Commanding Generals' Spiritual Fitness Concert Series" at Fort Eustis and Fort Lee in Virginia. This is not a chapel concert series, but a command sponsored "Spiritual Fitness" program, paid for with DoD contracts.

My wilderness spokesperson Dudley Edmondson wants to get everyone into the wild

Wildlife photographer Dudley Edmondson’s passion is to inspire people of all ages and walks of life to connect with wilderness.

His photography, community outreach, and books aim to get more people engaged with the natural world on their own terms and emphasize that every one of us has our own unique and personal connection with nature.

As the newest face of my wilderness, Dudley took our team on a youth wilderness adventure in North Cascades National Park in Washington State. Watch the video and see how Dudley inspires kids to get out on the trails.

Thanks for being a part of my wilderness.

Jennifer Stephens
The Wilderness Society

Sunday, August 21, 2011

I came as a refugee, but today, I am both a refugee and a humanitarian aid worker.:CARE

I'm writing today, on World Humanitarian Day, to introduce you to Fatuma Adan Mohammed, who works for CARE in the Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya, where thousands of refugees seeking relief from famine, drought and conflict arrive each day.

Here is Fatuma's powerful story in her own words:
Twenty years ago, when I was three years old, my family and I were welcomed at the Dadaab Refugee Camps. We had run away from the fighting in my home country, Somalia. The people we found here in Kenya showed us what it means to be sincere and honest with strangers. They gave us water and medicine. I got an education. When I saw new refugees arriving from Somalia, so weak and scared, I wanted to help them like people once helped my family.

I came as a refugee, but today, I am both a refugee and a humanitarian aid worker.

I work with CARE's program to help women who have been victims of sexual violence. Since I grew up here, and was educated here, I know that women are affected by sexual violence. I wanted to do what I could to help those women.

There are now more than 400,000 refugees here like me. The camp was built for 90,000 people. Because I am a refugee, the borders of this camp city are also the borders of my world.

As a humanitarian worker, I will continue to do what I can to help other refugees so they can look back and remember that they were welcomed and given help when they needed it most — that after the horrible experiences they went through to get here, kindness can come from strangers.

Fatuma is only 23 years old. She can no longer remember her life before she lived at the refugee camp. She hopes to one day become a professional counselor, but right now her mission is to do all she can in Dadaab. She's proud of the work she's doing — and so are we.

Fatuma not only helps women who have survived violence or rape during their flight from Somalia, she serves as a role model to the women, men and children in the camps. And she's not the only one! Today, more than 1,600 refugees work for CARE in Dadaab. They deliver urgent aid and help recent arrivals navigate their new world.

I hope you will help, too. By making a generous gift today, you can help power the great work Fatuma is doing in Dadaab as well as the lifesaving and life-changing work CARE carries out all around the world.

As you know, the situation in Dadaab is growing direr, and there is no end in sight to the influx of 1,500 refugees a day. CARE is on the ground in and around the camps in Dadaab delivering food, water and other services to the rapidly growing refugee population.

Tens of thousands of CARE humanitarian workers, like Fatuma, do their part to ensure our projects reach the people in need all over the world. Today, please help honor World Humanitarian Day by supporting CARE's vital work with refugees in Dadaab and poor and hungry women, children and families around the world.

Your tax-deductible gift today can help us continue to empower people suffering during times of crisis and to help communities around the world overcome poverty, hunger and violence.

Thank you for all that you do to help others in need.


Liz McLaughlin
Executive Director, Foundations Unit

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