Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The good 'ole Democrats are behind a new clamp-down on dissent

As you'll read in this fact sheet from the Center for Constitutional Rights, and watch on Nov. 20th 2007 Democracy Now!, the "Violent Radicalization and Home Grown Terrorism Act of 2007" or H.R. 1955 sponsored by Democrat Jane Harmon (CA), is a vaguely worded bill that seeks to "study" "extreme" views that it says lead to violent action. The process and definitions used in the measure, which passed the House 404 to 6 and soon will be considered in the Senate, could lead to greater criminalization of dissent.

Under the measure, civil disobedient acts such as groups of people riding bicycles on the street like the monthly Critical Mass bike rides or participation in peaceful protests could be considered terrorist acts under the wording of this bill.

As the CCR points out about sections of the bill:

“SEC. 899A (2) VIOLENT RADICALIZATION- The term `violent radicalization' means the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change.”

What is an extremist belief system? term is left undefined and open to many interpretations, socialism, anarchism, communism, nationalism, liberalism, etc. that would serve to undermine expressions that don’t fit within the allowable areas of debate. A direct action led by any group that blocks traffic can be looked upon as being coercive.

“SEC. 899B. (3) The Internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens.”

The focus on the internet is crucial, it can set up far more intrusive surveillance techniques, without warrants, and the potential to criminalize ideas and not actions can mean penalties for your stance rather than any criminal act.

“SEC. 899A. (4) IDEOLOGICALLY BASED VIOLENCE- The term `ideologically-based violence' means the use, planned use, or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual to promote the group or individual's political, religious, or social beliefs.”

What is force, is civil disobedience covered under that, if arrested at a protest rally and charged with disorderly conduct, obstructing governmental administration, or even assault does that now open you up to possible terrorist charges in the future?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Flags at Half Staff, equal treatment by the President?

I'm not sure President Bush is treating disaster victims the same when it comes to his most noble duty of ordering, by proclamation apparently, that flags be flown at half staff.

For the recent shoots at Virginia Tech University and September 11, 2001, the President ordered flags flown at half staff in about 24 hours.

It took the president six days to issue a similar proclamation after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast eventually claiming over 1,800 deaths.

Here are the differences:

.....................Days to issue.............Days to issue
.....................proclamation.............'Day of Remembrance'
Virginia Tech............1.......................N/A
September 11.............1.......................2

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

World's richest 1% own 40% of all wealth, UN report discovers

Thanks to the Guardian for covering this. Key statistics:

  • Bottom 50% of population own less than 1% of global wealth.
  • More than 1/3 of all global weath is owned by Americans.
  • 27% of global wealth is owned by the Japanese.
  • Top three per capita wealth; (1) $181,000 (Japanese), (2) $144,000 (Americans), (3) $127,000 (British).
  • Study by the UN's World Institute for Development Economics Research.
  • Total weath of the globe is $125 trillion ($125,000,000,000,000)
  • Top 10% of adults owned 85% of all global wealth.

Democratic Senators Falling Down on the Job Again?

Democratic Senators such as Carl Levin from Michigan apparently plan to not question Robert Gates, President Bush's pick to follow Donald Rumsfeld as Secretarty of 'Defense*' on his past of apparently breaking U.S. law. This is discussed here on Democracy Now! this morning.

Robert Gates apparently was heavily involved in breaking U.S. law in the 1980's when he helped the CIA efforts to provide funds to the terrorist 'Contra Rebels' attacking Nicaragua by secretly selling U.S. weapons to Iran. According to Ray McGovern, former colleague of Gates at the CIA, new documents and evidence has emerged since 1991, the last Senate hearing Gates was subject to, that show his heavy involvement in the Iran Contra Affair.

Also, Senate Democrats like Levin and others say they will not question Gates about his producing false CIA intelligence reports, euphemized as 'politicizing intelligence,' because this is 'old news.'

According to McGovern, again, Gates was involved in producing false intelligence regarding the need to bomb the country of Nicaragua and also to mine its bays, which the U.S. then did and was then found guilty of - the only nation in the world to have been found guilty of a terrorist act by the International Court of Justice (read the judgment for yourself here).

What do you think, are Senate Democrats falling down on the job of keeping criminality, corruption and anti-democratic action out of the United States Government again?

*In my view, the Department of Defense should be properly called the Department of War, which it used to be called before 1947 and of course more accurately reflects the vast majority of its purpose and actions and activities around the world.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Will Rumsfeld be found a war criminal under the War Crimes Act?

The blog Balkinization helpfully highlights (mentioned in Cursor.org) that former U.S. General Janis Karpinski says she is now ready to testify that Donald Rumsfeld personally approved interrogation methods that break the Geneva Convention.

According to the 1996 War Crimes Act, "a grave breach in any of the international conventions signed at Geneva 12 August 1949, or any protocol to such convention to which the United States is a party" is considered a War Crime, and thus subjects any U.S. National found guilty of a war crime to be subject to the penalties of the War Crimes Act.

If Donald Rumsfeld is tried and found guilty under the War Crimes Act as a result of evidence like the testimony from General Karpinski, here are the penalties Rumsfeld could be subject to:

"fined under this title or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or both, and if death results to the victim, shall also be subject to the penalty of death"

That's right, it seems to me that Donald Rumsfeld better hope he has very good defense lawyers standing by in case he is tried in the United States judicial system for War Crimes. Don't forget that at least at Abu Garab, a number of prisioners died during interrogations by Pentagon personnell, effectively employees of Donald Rumsfeld. Will Rumsfeld some day get the death penalty?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I hate to say I told you so - a year ago!!!

Consumers Organized for Reliable Electricity, (C.O.R.E.) is a sham, something Lisa Madigan (Illinois Attorney General) and ABC7 Chicago news investigative reporter Chuck Goudie have just, apparently, come around to finding out...

I even tried to give this story to another major news network in November of last year, but they weren't interested in pursuing it.

But Charlie and Lisa are on the job now.

They uncovered some good new information including that C.O.R.E. registered as a Springfield lobbying entity with one client, ComEd! Chuck doesn't seem to be aware, or didn't report, however, C.O.R.E.'s connection to the Hill and Knowlton Public Relations firm that I outlined in my blog piece.

Chuck's full story below:

Battle over rate increase heats upConsumer interest group 'front group for

By Chuck Goudie

October 18, 2006 - The battle over the ComEd rate increase is heating up. Two top Illinois officials want some answers from ComEd. State Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn are both trying to short-circuit the big rate increase for the electric power utility.

Quinn is asking for emergency hearings into ComEd's relationship with a so-called consumer interest group that is backing the utility. Madigan says the multi-million dollar salaries paid to ComEd executives are a conflict of interest. ABC7 investigative reporter Chuck Goudie has exclusive details in this Intelligence Report. Edison wants to charge about 25 percent more every time we switch on a light or run appliances. The huge rate increase comes at a time when huge executive paychecks paid to ComEd officials are raising questions about whether higher consumer rates will merely feed even higher salaries.

A TV commercial is featured on the website of an organization called CORE, Consumers Organized for Reliable Electricity. The group's aim is to promote the interest of electricity consumers. But, a spokeswoman for CORE admits, they are joined at the hip with an unlikely partner, ComEd.

"A large portion of it is funded by Commonwealth Edison -- I can't tell you how much," said Avis LaVelle, CORE media liaison. Not only is CORE funded by ComEd, the I-Team has learned that CORE is actually a registered state of Illinois lobbyist, according to secretary of state records lobbyist registration records, the Consumers Organized for Reliable Electricity has one client, ComEd. "There is something wrong if we are going to allow this one company with highly paid executives to raise the electric rates," said Quinn. Over the weekend, Lt. Governor Pat Quinn raised his voice against ComEd compensating its top five executives nearly $47 million a year. Quinn is raising the stakes in a letter to Illinois Commerce Commission Chairman Charles Box. The lieutenant governor is asking for emergency public hearings on Edison's executive compensation policy and on the so-called consumer interest group, CORE, that Quinn states "is acting solely in the financial interests of ComEd."

Attorney General Madigan said Wednesday that CORE is "a front group for ComEd" and that CORE has not registered with her office as is required by law for a non-profit organization.

Madigan says ComEd executives have a personal financial incentive to buy the most expensive electricity, because the more money ComEd brings in, the higher the stock option from parent company Exelon.

Friday, October 13, 2006

ComEd and Amerern’s ‘Reverse Auction’ must be stopped.

Statement by Dorian Breuer, Green Party candidate for Illinois State Senate, 1st District Wednesday, September 20, 2006
1856 S. Throop St. #2F, Chicago,IL 60608
Stephanie Lane, Campaign Manager, (773) 562-7492

The results of last Friday’s wholesale electricity reverse auction are disastrous: ComEd customers will receive a rate increase of 22 percent and Ameren customers an increase of 56 percent.

This must be stopped and I support SB 5766, a bill that would extend the current electricity rate freeze until the legislature can craft a plan that will protect consumers from the huge profit windfall Exelon and Ameren expect to receive.

Published reports state that SB 5766 is unlikely to pass the Senate, however, because State Senate President Emil Jones is not interested in passing the bill.

What has not been widely published is that that Exelon Corporation is the fourth largest campaign contributor to Emil Jones’ campaign fund with $30,000 in donations in the 2006 reporting period according to the website the Institute on Monday in State Politics. Not only that, but Electric Utilities in Illinois are the fifth largest industry to contribute to President Jones’ campaign with more than $55,000 in donations.

In fact since the 2002 election cycle, Emil Jones has received $100,000 in campaign donations directly from Exelon Corporation.

If President Jones was a Federal officeholder, those donations would be illegal.

Is it any wonder that the Illinois Senate is unlikely to consider SB 5766, a bill that would remove the massive profit windfall Friday’s reverse auction will bring to Exelon?

As a former member of the Board of Directors of the Citizen’s Utility Board for the 4th Congressional District, I saw first hand the anti-consumer tactics that Exelon has used in lobbying for this anti-consumer reverse auction.

Today I call on State Senate President Emil Jones to support SB 5766 while there is still time to protect the consumers of Illinois and to repair the impression that he is simply doing the bidding of one of his largest campaign contributors, the Exelon Corporation.

Green Party candidates refuse campaign contributions from corporations so that candidates once elected can pass legislation with only the interests of real people at heart.

If elected, I will work to sponsor and pass pro-consumer legislation like SB 5766 clear from all the corrupting influence of PAC and Corporate donations that course through the veins of Illinois politics.

I also support returning to the state’s regulation of the electric utilities as the only effective way to keep electricity rates low for Illinois’ consumers while also guaranteeing proper investment in our electricity infrastructure. Regulated monopolies can still earn a profit, they simply have to do it while ensuring the interest of consumers.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Nader would garner 3%-11% if 2004 presidential election held today?!

According to a poll released yesterday by the Scripps Howard News Service, voters today would vote differently than they did in 2004, giving Nader 7% (with a +/-4%). In the actual election, Nader won less than 1% of the vote.

The poll also revealed that from the 2000 presidential election, Nader and/or Buchanan would have garnered 9% of the vote. Presumably most of that 9% was for Nader.

It is interesting that after the major-party pre-election hype dies down and voters wake up, groggy, the next morning after an election, that in the last two presidential elections they would vote much more strongly for 3rd party alternatives as well as against the election winner.

Of course, national polls of 1,200 people have to be taken with a grain of salt, but it is still instructive and not meaningless.

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