Today, President Bush delivered what was billed as a major address on Iraq. Instead, unfortunately, it was just more of the same "stay the course" rhetoric, moving us no closer to a resolution of the conflict.
We've all been waiting for many months for President Bush to come clean with the American people about the war in Iraq. But clearly, the President still fails to see and confront the truth:
President Bush refuses to acknowledge that the Iraq war has nothing to do with the 9/11 attack on our country by al Qaeda, and it has diverted us from our appropriate response to that attack which was to go into Afghanistan and hunt Osama bin Laden.
He refuses to acknowledge the fact that our long term presence in Iraq is fueling the very insurgency that he vows to end.
President Bush refuses to acknowledge that any mistakes were made and that this war was based on false pretenses.
He ignores the tremendous financial burden on our citizens, and he completely ignores the thousands of wounded that need to hear that they will not be forgotten and that they will receive the care they need.
President Bush even refuses to acknowledge that Iraqi government officials believe that we can withdraw within a two-year time frame, while continuing to demean those members of Congress who disagree with him.
Today President Bush squandered yet another opportunity to level with the American people and bring the country together around a unified effort to end the war in Iraq. Instead, the President used this speech to lash out in a very personal way against those who believe the best strategy for success is an accelerated training of Iraqi security forces and a drawdown of American troops, starting with the National Guard. Once we clearly state that we do not intend to stay in Iraq forever, the insurgency will be diminished and our brave men and women can begin to come home.
The President's failure to address the concerns of the American people and the Congress is a devastating blow to everyone who hoped to hear the President articulate a clear mission and a projection of when our troops can return home.
With American confidence in his handling of the war in Iraq at an all-time low, when will President Bush get the message? It's up to us to keep standing up and speaking out until he does.
Informant: Martin Greenhut
- 30. Nov, 23:48
Dec 1 2005
THREE mobile phone masts refused planning permission have been erected on the Isle of Dogs because of a Tower Hamlets Council ``cock-up''.
Telecommunications giant Orange has installed the 10metre tall masts along Manchester Road because the council failed, within the legal timeframe, to notify the company that it had refused its application.
Unlike other structures, masts can be built by default if the council does not inform applicants within six weeks of it refusing an application.
In this instance, the council sent out the refusal notification a day before the six-week deadline and by second class post.
The masts, which have been designed to look like street lights, have been installed outside the Island Gardens DLR station, on the corner of Manchester Road and Glengarnock Avenue and outside Farnworth House, in Manchester Road.
The council had refused the masts in August 2004 following petitioning from residents. Conservative campaigner Tim Archer, who alerted The Wharf to the matter, said it was a ``cock-up''.
He said: ``This is sheer incompetence by the Labour-run council.
``Last year residents got the masts rejected and then the council can't even be relied upon to send out the legal notice in time.
``Part of me wonders if they did it on purpose. I suppose they will still be getting the rental income from the operator.''
A council spokesperson said the council ``regretted'' the mistake and said it was a ``one-off '' incident.
She added: ``The council takes all representations it receives on planning proposals very seriously and regrets that, on this occasion, those objections were ineffective.''
She said the council has changed its procedures so that all phone mast applications will be determined within 46 days and, if refused, telecommunication companies will be advised by recorded delivery.
- 30. Nov, 23:08
Dr.-Ing. Hans Schmidt
WOR, den 20.11.05
An den Petitionsausschuss des Deutschen Bundestages, Platz der Republik 1, 11011 Berlin
Per Fax: 030/227-36130
Betr: Auskunft über Anzahl und Verbleib der beim Petitionsausschuss vorliegenden Eingaben zum Thema Gesundheitsgefährdung durch Hochfrequenzstrahlung
Bezug: Pet 2-14-18-275-021869
Ihr Schreiben vom 06.09.05
Omega siehe unter:
Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,
seit Ihrer Mitteilung vom 6.9.05 über das weitere Verfahren mit diesen Petitionen sind schon mehr als 10 Wochen vergangen.
Bitte teilen Sie mir die vom Ausschussdienst des Petitionsausschusses erstellte Beschlussempfehlung mit Begründung mit, damit ich sehen kann, wie meine Petitionen Eingang in Ihre Empfehlung gefunden haben. Ich bitte weiterhin um Mitteilung der Namen der berichterstattenden Abgeordneten, die Ihre Beschlussempfehlung prüfen.
Vielen Dank im Voraus für eine baldige Antwort.
Mit freundlichen Grüßen
- 30. Nov, 23:01
Recently, I was shocked to discover that thousands of horses are slaughtered every year in the U.S. to satisfy an overseas market for horsemeat!
Growing up my aunt had five horses and I can still remember the sense of awe I had watching them gallop across the field manes and tails flying. Such beautiful, spirited, and sensitive creatures deserve a more dignified end than being slaughtered and served as dinner.
Please Act Now!
The thought of horses being slaughtered is horrifying enough, but to make matters worse the process is often brutal and inhumane. The transport of horses to slaughterhouses is often extremely cruel. Many horses are injured before even reaching the slaughter plant due to overcrowded conditions during transport. Some are shipped for more than 24 hours at a time without food, water, or rest.
In addition, the methods used to slaughter these horses once they arrive at the plant can be exceptionally inhumane. The horses are often forced to endure repeated stuns or blows and often times remain conscious during their slaughter.
The Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (S. 1915) would put an end to this cruel and inhumane practice by permanently prohibiting horse slaughter for human consumption in the U.S.
Urge your senators to support and cosponsor S. 1915!
Care2 & ThePetitionSite Team
- 30. Nov, 22:52
Last Friday, I met with Stan Tookie Williams, reformed gang leader, Nobel Peace prize nominee, and acclaimed author, who is scheduled to be executed in the state of California at 12:01AM on Tuesday, December 13, 2005. I left our meeting with the certainty that Mr. Williams offers more in life than in death and have committed the full support of the NAACP in his fight for clemency.
Having exhausted his appeals, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is the only person who can grant Mr. Williams clemency. At this critical time, I am asking for your help by signing our petition in support of Stan Tookie Williams. Every petition makes a difference and I promise each one will be delivered to Governor Schwarzenegger.
Click here now and sign the petition today:
It is important that we come together to save the life of Stan Tookie Williams because he has saved the lives of over 150,000 youth, as reported by them, their parents, teachers and law enforcement officials. While on death row, Stan has written a highly acclaimed children¹s book series that educates young people to avoid gangs, crime and incarceration. He has also worked to end gang violence through his peace protocol and Internet Project for Street Peace, an international peer-mentoring program.
Click here now and sign the petition today:
Our goal is to generate 100,000 signatures and phone calls by Thursday, December 8th, when Governor Schwarzenegger has scheduled a clemency hearing in Sacramento, California. Together, we can save the life of Stan Tookie Williams. I am counting on you to help make the difference.
Call Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger Today: Phone: 916-445-2841
I also ask that you, your friends, and family participate this Wednesday, November 30, 2005, in the National Day of Action for Stan coordinated by Campaign to End the Death Penalty. Rallies and Press Conferences will be held in front of City Halls and other locations across the State of California, the country and across the world.
For list of locations and to get involved click here now:
We thank you in advance for your support in this noble effort.
God bless you,
Bruce S. Gordon
NAACP President and CEO
PS. For more information on the Stan Williams¹ case go to:
Informant: Roy Ulrich
A Conversation with Death Row Prisoner Stanley Tookie Williams from his San Quentin Cell
Informant: Ashley Smith
- 30. Nov, 22:10
Hot on the heels of marketing the teddybear cellphone comes this RF energized teddybear pyjama.
Best, Imelda, Cork.
Below today's Irish Times article I've typed in the info on the attachment (China) I sent you yesterday. Imelda
THE IRISH TIMES, THU, DEC 01, 05
"THE EXPRESSIVE DRESS THAT SHOWS HOW WOMEN REALLY FEEL
[by] Dick Ahlstrom
The latest in high fashion party wear has a little something extra to offer this year. A Dublin-based research group has developed a stylish dress that looks good but also tells you how the woman wearing it feels about you (right).
These are no ordinary ball gowns. One includes sensors that detect the heart as it pulses and matches the beat by lighting up a bright red panel across the front of the dress. The faster the beat, the faster the panel flashes, lighting up like a neon sign.
A second gown samples the wearer's "alert" response seen in changes to her "galvanic skin response", how well the skin conducts electricity. The more impact a male suitor has, the higher her alert status, and this raises - or lowers if you are not doing well - the brightness of spheres suspended in the garment's outer layer.
These gowns have the potential to take some of the mystery out of human relations but the goal is not to win hearts but to develop wearable electronics.
A number of dresses that combine fashion with electronic signal processing were developed by the Adaptive Information Cluster (AIC). The Cluster is a multi-disciplinary research group involving senior researchers from Dublin City University's centre for sensor research and School of Computer Applications, and University College Dublin's School of Computer Science and Informations, explains the head of the UCD school and an AIC principal investigator, Prof Barry Smyth.
The Cluster received Science Foundation Ireland funding worth €7 million and brings together the work of five PIs, says Smyth, "each of them a professor in either UCD or DCU". It combines the efforts of scientists working in disparate areas including sensor science, software engineering, electronic engineering and computer science.
Headed by DCU's Prof Dermot Diamond, the AIC started up about two years ago and involves the work of about 70 researchers, says Smyth.
PhD candidate at UCD Lucy Dunne carried out the research that delivered a number of "expressive garments" that include sensors that read the wearer's mood. They detect pulse rate, galvanic skin response, the "startle" response and whether the person is laughing, explains Dunne.
The gowns are smart in two ways, looking well but also capturing real-time information on a person's physiological condition. They incorporate sensor technology developed at DCU with electronics, but must still be able to go into the washing machine after the ball and come out working.
These are no ordinary sensors, she says. "It is a really nice crushable foam and integrates well into clothing and is washable."
Changes in the foam's shape produce changes in its electrical response, generating a signal that the smart dress interprets.
The trick is knowing where to put the sensor to get useable information, she adds. While the four gowns she designed, two of which have been installed as part of a display at the Brigham Young University Museum of Art in Utah, US, focus on individual expression, "most of my research is about function".
Wearable electronics could deliver many useful functions, particularly in the medical area. People with limited movement could activate switches or direct motorised wheelchairs using this technology.
Dunne has also produced a prototype sports jersey that monitors heart rate and respiratory effort and the technology could be built into trainers to monitor pace and gait.
© The Irish Times
IRISH INDEPENDENT, WED, 30 NOV, 2005
"A BEDTIME CUDDLE FROM OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD
[by] Edel Kennedy
Parents working away from home could soon be able to give their children a bedtime cuddle from the other side of the world. Wacky inventors have created a pair of hi-tech pyjamas which can simulate the sense of touch and can be controlled over the internet. The makers of the 175 [euros] pyjamas say children will be able to go to sleep comforted by a long-distance 'cyber cuddle'. The unusual garments work through a teddy bear with a tiny computer inside. When a parent touches the bear it will send a wireless signal over the internet to the same area on the pyjamas. The pyjamas will be embedded with air channels, similar to straws, which will inflate or deflate depending on the signal they receive, thus 'hugging' the wearer. Created by researchers at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, scientist Adrian David Cheok said that they are now working on developing the perfect comfortable garments for children and adults. 'These days, parents go on a lot of business trips, but with children, hugging and touching are very important,' he said. However, critics have pointed out that it would be a very poor substitute for the real thing. 'Any system that uses technology to replace parental affection is misleading and not beneficial in terms of parenting,' said a spokeswoman for the ISPCC."
Teddy bear mobile ‘puts 4-year-olds at risk from radiation’
- 30. Nov, 15:39
Aktuelle Modelle von Grundsicherungen und Grundeinkommen im Vergleich
Die Synopse von Ronald Blaschke als 1. aktualisierte und erweiterte Ausgabe vom Oktober 2005
Grundeinkommen oder Grundsicherung und Arbeitszeitverkürzung/Mindestlohn?
Folien-Präsentation von Ronald Blaschke, Sprecher Netzwerk Grundeinkommen (pdf)
Eine bessere Stütze? Das garantierte Grundeinkommen hat einen festen Platz im linken Forderungskatalog erworben – für eine Perspektive ist es aber nicht radikal genug.
„Wieder einmal wurde auf der Aktions- und Strategiekonferenz der sozialen Bewegungen in Frankfurt/Main am letzten Wochenende ein garantiertes Grundeinkommen diskutiert. Und wieder einmal ohne greifbares Ergebnis. Die heftige Kontroverse zwischen Befürwortern – wie Roland Blaschke von der sächsischen Armutskonferenz – und Kritikern wie zum Beispiel Rainer Roth aus Frankfurt/Main machte deutlich, dass eine Annäherung zur Zeit nicht in Sicht ist. Dabei speisen sich Zustimmung und Ablehung aus jeweils ganz unterschiedlichen, sehr heterogenen Quellen….“ Artikel von Sebastian Gerhardt in junge Welt vom 23.11.2005
Dm-Chef Werner zum Grundeinkommen: "Wir würden gewaltig reicher werden"
„Mit großformatigen Anzeigen wirbt der Gründer der Drogeriemarktkette dm Werner für ein garantiertes Grundeinkommen. Das Geld dafür soll eine Steuerreform einbringen, gegen die die Pläne von Paul Kirchhof zaghaft erscheinen. Im Gespräch mit SPIEGEL ONLINE erklären er und der Steuerexperte Benediktus Hardorp, wie das Ganze funktionieren soll…“ Interview von Michael Kröger in Spiegel online vom 30. November 2005
Aus: LabourNet, 30. November 2005
- 30. Nov, 15:28
Offener Brief zu Veröffentlichungen über die von Bundesminister
Wolfgang Clement als in „großem Stil“ „parasitär“ eingeschätzten
„…Nicht die Arbeitslosen haben versagt, Herr Clement, sondern Sie haben versagt. Dies sollte insbesondere für Sie kein Grund sein, die Opfer ihrer erfolglosen und gänzlich unzulänglichen Politik (völlig falsche Einschätzung der Hartz-IV-Kosten, Vernichtung sozialversicherter Arbeitsplätze, mangelnde Zivilcourage, sich mit Ursachen, Verursachern und Profiteuren der Arbeitslosigkeit auseinander zu setzen etc.) zu Tätern zu machen. Entschuldigen Sie sich bei den Arbeitslosen, Herr Clement, und üben Sie Wiedergutmachung! Offener Brief der GALG (Gewerkschaftliche Arbeitslosengruppe Göttingen) vom 20.11.2005 (pdf)
Mehrkosten bei Hartz IV: Fehlkalkulation oder Missbrauch?
Die Kosten für Hartz IV sind deutlich höher als von der Bundesregierung erwartet. Jetzt versucht man unter dem Stichwort "Missbrauchsdebatte" den Arbeitslosen die Schuld in die Schuhe zu schieben. Hierzu gibt der DBG-Bundesvorstand seine neueste Broschüre in der Reihe Arbeitsmarkt aktuell heraus. Die Broschüre des DGB vom November 2005 im Download (pdf)
Na, was macht die Arbeitssuche? Mein letzter Hausbesucher
„Es klingelt. Einmal, zweimal, dreimal. Ich ahne schon, wer es ist: »mein« Kundenbetreuer von der Arbeitsagentur. Gestern hat er sich brieflich angekündigt, will sich nur mal kurz in der Wohnung umsehen. Ob in unserer Zweier-WG nicht eine eheähnliche Gemeinschaft vorliege und dergleichen mehr. Seit einer halben Stunde ist er überfällig, meine Mitbewohnerin sitzt im nahe gelegenen Café und wartet auf meine SMS…“ Artikel von
Benjamin Kaminski in Jungle World vom 30.11.2005
Mißbrauch? NDR läßt Ein-Euro-Jobber bei der GEZ arbeiten
Ausbeutung ohne Lohn
„NDR beschäftigt illegal Ein-Euro-Jobber für GEZ-Antragsbearbeitung
Das Erwerbslosenforum Deutschland hat gefordert, daß die in Hamburg beim Norddeutschen Rundfunk (NDR) eingesetzten Ein-Euro-Jobber nachträglich eine feste Einstellung und ein reguläres Gehalt erhalten. Wie berichtet, hatte der NDR Ein-Euro-Jobber eingesetzt, um Anträge für die Gebühreneinzugszentrale (GEZ) zu bearbeiten…“ Artikel von Andreas Grünwald in junge Welt vom 30.11.2005
Werden beim NDR Ein-Euro-Jobber missbraucht und ausgenutzt?
Erwerbslosen Forum Deutschland empfiehlt den Betroffenen ihr Gehalt einzuklagen.
„Dem Erwerbslosen Forum Deutschland liegen Informationen vor, wonach die beim NDR eingesetzten Ein-Euro-Jobber reguläre Arbeitskräfte anlernen mussten. Nicht ganz durchsichtig sind die Verträge der Hamburger Arbeit Beschäftigungsgesellschaft (HAB), die mit den Ein-Euro-Jobbern geschlossen wurden. Diese sollen nachträglich in Praktikumsverträge umgewandelt worden sein. Für das Erwerbslosen Forum Deutschland stellt sich die Frage, ob hier eventuell die Aufforderung der Hamburger Bürgerschaft vom 10.11.2005 umgangen worden ist…“ Presseerklärung des Erwerbslosen Forum Deutschland vom 28.11.2005
siehe dazu auch:
Die Petition von Michael Lange vom 6.08.2005 veröffentlicht bei PeNG! Aktive Erwerbslose und Geringverdiener e.V.
sowie die Antwort der Bürgerschaft der freien und Hansestadt Hamburg vom 11.11.2005 (pdf)
Aus: LabourNet, 30. November 2005
- 30. Nov, 15:22
(This should prove an interesting addition to the information on Posada Carriles. He argued that immigrants who entered the US illegally are NOT entitled to US constitutional provision. But that is precisely what Luis Posada Carriles is claiming he had every right to do. And what about foreigners like, shall we say, Santiago Alvarez, aiding and abetting foreigners who illegally enter the country like, shall we say, "Luis Posada Carriles"???)
Informant: Walter Lippmann
MIAMI HERALD Posted on Wed, Nov. 30, 2005
Alito memos address rights stance
In the 1980s, Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito approved an FBI effort to get fingerprints from refugees living in Canada, saying foreigners had no U.S. rights.
BY JO BECKER AND AMY GOLDSTEIN
Washington Post Service
WASHINGTON - As a senior lawyer in the Reagan Justice Department, Samuel Alito argued that immigrants who enter the United States illegally and foreigners living outside their countries are not entitled to the constitutional rights afforded to Americans.
In an opinion that offers insight into the Supreme Court nominee's view of an area of law that has gained new significance with the Bush administration's policies to combat terrorism, Alito gave his approval to an FBI effort in the 1980s to collect from Canadian authorities fingerprint cards of Iranian and Afghan refugees living in that country.
The program to collect background information was constitutional, Alito wrote in a January 1986 memo to the FBI director. And because the refugees were nonresident immigrants of a third country, he reasoned, the FBI could disregard court decisions that prohibited it from spreading ''stigmatizing'' information about citizens.
With the Supreme Court scheduled to hear a major case next term involving the Bush administration's policy of trying ''enemy combatants'' in military tribunals, Alito's views of the FBI's old antiterrorism fingerprint program have resonance today, reflecting what legal experts said is a broad and aggressive view of the law.
The memo on the rights of immigrants was among 120 documents from Alito's 16-month tenure as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel that the Justice Department released Monday.
Alito's writings show he was in sync with the philosophy of the Republican administration of which he was a part, staking out strong stances on aggressive law enforcement and on states' rights. The views he expresses also could be construed as paralleling those of the Bush administration as it has pursued its campaign against terrorists, legal experts said.
The current administration has contended, for instance, that al Qaeda and Taliban detainees held at the U.S. naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, had no right to have their case heard by a U.S. judge. That is in part because, like the Afghan and Iranian refugees in Canada, the recent detainees were not on U.S. soil. That view was rejected by the Supreme Court.
In his 1986 memo, Alito cites a 1950 Supreme Court case to support the contention that nonresident immigrants of other countries have ''no due process rights'' under the Constitution and a 1970 case that he said suggests illegal immigrants in the United States have limited constitutional rights.
''He seems to be saying that there is no constitutional constraints placed on U.S. officials in their treatment of nonresident aliens or illegal aliens,'' said conservative constitutional analyst Bruce Fein, who served in the Reagan administration with Alito. ``Could you shoot them? Could you torture them? It's a very aggressive reading of cases that addressed much narrower issues.''
- 30. Nov, 11:50
By Peter Zeihan
The presidency of George W. Bush is failing.
Love him or hate him, Bush has had the most dramatic international impact of any U.S. president in a generation. But as Bush's fortunes ebb, his ability to control events in Washington and much further afield are fading as well. Geopolitics, like nature, abhors a vacuum, and there is no shortage of players hoping to profit from the political equivalent of U.S. self-flagellation.
In August, we wrote that the United States was beginning to move "Beyond the War on Terrorism." We argued that the United States had achieved the bulk of what it had set out to do in first containing, and then pursuing and dismantling, al Qaeda.
We put forward that Iraq was a central feature of that plan, and that despite the ongoing horrors there, the broad strategic goals that the United States set out to achieve had indeed been accomplished. Saudi Arabia, Syria and -- to a lesser extent -- Iran were all cooperating with the United States in destroying al Qaeda as a strategic threat. The organization's offensive abilities degraded, from the ability to pull off a Sept. 11, 2001, attack that reshaped the world, to a series of metro bombings in London that did not even produce a glimmer of consideration within the U.K. government that policy should change. Terrorism, of course, continued to occur around the world, but its ability to dictate U.S. foreign policy had largely evaporated. All that was left was some hardly insignificant cleanup, and the United States could then get around to the serious work of dealing with the real issues: boxing in China and boxing up Russia.
But Iraq has not flowed gently into epilogue, and the final agreements that seemed so tantalizingly close in August remain elusive. In the interim, the American citizenry has grown weary of the conflict -- in which the number of American dead has now passed 2100 -- and Bush's popularity has suffered as a result.
But the real inflection point of this presidency was not Iraq; rather, it was Hurricane Katrina. Rightly or wrongly, Bush was perceived not just as unprepared for a major hurricane strike, but also as oblivious to the seriousness of the humanitarian disaster in New Orleans. This perception solidified the opposition of the U.S. left, denied the president any help from the American center and cracked the heretofore unified American right. The result was a president in danger of losing his core supporters, without whom no president can effectively rule. Similar circumstances condemned past statesmen such as Wilson, Truman, Johnson and Nixon into the unenviable company of failed presidents.
Since Katrina, the Bush administration's fortunes have only slid further, with three critical defeats standing out most glaringly. First, its primary congressional ally, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, has been indicted for fundraising improprieties. Second, the administration's efforts to shuttle Harriet Miers into the Supreme Court resulted in a break within the Republican Party. Third, the vice president's chief of staff -- Lewis "Scooter" Libby -- has been indicted for disclosing the status of undercover intelligence officers to the press, a charge that may well be pressed against political mastermind Karl Rove, and perhaps even the vice president himself.
What this amounts to is that the Bush administration has alienated the Republican Party's religious wing and those who value national defense above all else. Between that and the loss of DeLay, the president's star has fallen so far that he can no longer demand meetings with key legislators; he must negotiate for them. His foreign policy agenda is weighed down by the albatross of Iraq, and since congressional Republican leadership is keeping its distance from the president, his legislative agenda has not so much as budged in months.
Even if Bush manages to recover, we are eyeing what will be at least six months of extreme administration weakness. If Bush does not recover, however, stretch that out to until Jan. 20, 2009. A lot can happen in three years.
And, as chance would have it, the United States is not the only power currently facing a crisis of confidence and capabilities.
The failure of the Dutch and French referendums on the EU constitution during the early summer was more than simply the failure of a vote; it signaled a failure of the very idea of Europe as a supranational entity. Ultimately, the European Union institutions as we know them today are a result of France's efforts to transform the countries of Europe into a platform over which it could rule and from which it could project power. France has always wanted to be able to punch above its weight in the international arena, and Europe was to be its vehicle for achieving that goal.
Yet in May, the French rejected the EU constitution -- and with it, the French vision for Europe.
In large part, the French rejected that vision because they realized it had become unachievable. The other European states were not willing to become French vassals, and once the French realized that they were merely another member in -- and therefore merely another subject of -- European institutions, French nationalism trumped the French desire for French Europeanism. As the union expanded, part of being European came to mean that France does not always get its way. Ultimately, that is something that the French found unacceptable.
And this was hardly the limit of what has gone wrong in Europe recently.
The British enjoy a rebate from the EU budget for the years in which they contribute more to the EU than they receive back (which is every year). The French, who convinced the Germans to back them, are guaranteed a full quarter of all EU agricultural subsidies even though they are among the union's richest members. With the addition of 10 new -- poorer -- states into the EU in 2004, the two standing policies are now in direct financial conflict.
Put another way, for the French to continue to enjoy their gravy train, either the British have to give up their rebate or all those new poor states need to give up some of the EU development funds -- the one part of the EU budget that is actually productive. Family spats over money are always the most vitriolic, and this one has reopened issues about the fundamental nature of the EU as well as discussion over the benefits and problems of enlargements, both past and future.
With the very idea of a European entity with a global reach DOA, the ability of "Europe" to act abroad becomes limited to the capabilities of its constituent powers. And in addition to these powers' lacking Washington's normal reach, they are nearly as politically truncated as the United States.
As France reels from the EU constitution defeat, it now also has to deal with the cultural, political and economic aftermath of three weeks of race riots. The United Kingdom's position on reducing the EU budget has radically reduced its influence within Europe. But more importantly, the Blair government recently lost its first Parliament vote -- typically an early sign that a prime minister is about to attach an "ex-" to his title.
Finally, there is Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel has just wrapped up her first full week on the job. The new chancellor has more of a chance than any other European leader to get a fresh start, by seeking a rapprochement with Europe's smaller states as well as the United States. Yet even if she is wildly successful in her foreign relations, and even if her awkward left-right coalition is not sunk by inter- and intra-party bickering, this will still take a great deal of time. No, Europe is as out of the international picture as the United States is for the moment.
Of Absent Cats and Busy, Busy Mice
The result is an unfettered international system.
The world has been gradually sliding toward true unipolarity for the past 15 years. France's view of the European Union was one attempt to stem that evolution, as are China and Russia's on-again, off-again attempts to forge an unwieldy coalition of powers that contains states such as Brazil, India or Iran. Ultimately, however, geographic location dictates that all such attempts will fail.
The European Union could never be a political superpower because the British, Irish, Spanish, Portuguese, Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Poles, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks, Slovenes, Romanians, Bulgarians, Greeks, Italians, Dutch, Danes, Swedes and Finns really see no point to letting Paris or Berlin dictate their domestic economic or foreign security policies. The idea of a multipolar world is similarly unworkable. Adjacent land powers are only able to ally when both face imminent destruction or one is in a clearly subordinate position -- something that makes us watch Chinese-Russian relations with increasing interest -- while a quick glance at the trade flows of states like Brazil and India clearly show that any political ambitions for setting up an anti-American alliance are limited predominantly to rhetoric. It often does not take a great deal of effort for the United States to use these characteristics to prevent such alliances -- geographic features alone nearly assure an American preponderance of power -- and so, since the end of the Soviet Union, U.S. power has increased step by step relative to other powers.
But what happens when that dominant power finds itself engrossed by internal developments? When this happened to Russia during President Vladimir Putin's first term, Central Europe was swallowed by NATO and the European Union; the United States moved troops into Central Asia; China -- not Russia -- got its fingers into Kazakhstan's energy resources and encouraged a thousand migrant feet to bloom in Siberia; and color revolutions broke Moscow's grip on Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and Georgia.
But now the United States -- indeed the entire West -- is in a world of its own.
Eventually the period of inattentiveness will end, even if it takes until the next election, so time is a precious commodity. The question dominating the thoughts of national leaders who often find themselves at loggerheads with Washington is: How do I maximize my position before Washington stops staring at its own navel?
Down in Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez has always done his best to take advantage of Washington's short attention span, and the next few months will be no exception. For him the mode is the Bolivarian Revolution -- and using his ample oil revenues to extend his political reach by manipulating elections in Bolivia and Honduras, supporting indigenous movements in Ecuador, and likely funding Colombia's new united left wing, the Democratic Alternative Pole. Across the border in Brazil, President Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva is far less ambitious, but he is certainly reaping the rewards in terms of public popularity by killing U.S. efforts to create a Western Hemispheric free trade area -- the keystone of Washington's Latin American policy.
In Asia, Pyongyang has got to be wallowing in glee. Anytime the United States is distracted, North Korea tends to be able to foment crises that get concessions from its neighbors. Beijing, while undoubtedly equally happy, will be far more circumspect in its efforts. For China, a U.S. disengagement allows it more time to whip its economy into shape. That means slowing efforts to amend its currency policy; the yuan peg will remain, and China need not worry overmuch about the United States taking advantage of the social unrest that Beijing's softly-softly economic reforms trigger.
Across the Middle East, where U.S. foreign policy has been most active since the Sept. 11 attacks, the effect will be far more noticeable among enemies and allies alike.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will have no reason to do more than give the occasional polite nod to American requests, allowing him to impose his own version of a final settlement on the Palestinians; it will be one they do not much care for. Pressure on Saudi Arabia and Egypt to amend their political systems will either evaporate or be waved away. Syria has just got ten the diplomatic equivalent of a get-out-of-jail-free card (and thus has largely gotten away with the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri and the maintenance of its position of superiority in Lebanon). And if you thought the Iranian nuclear program issue was agonizingly annoying before, just wait.
There is the very deadly possibility that Iraq will go from bad to worse. With American pressure ignorable, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran have little reason to cajole groups to come to the table and every reason to manipulate events to their own likings -- which, in all cases, involves making the American experience miserable. U.S. power can no longer guarantee that the Kurds, Shia and Sunnis will meet, much less hammer out a workable power-sharing accord, leaving Washington -- still -- holding the bag and handing out concessions to prevent the situation from degrading further still. And of course, Iraqi guerrillas are hardly finished.
Although it may be out of the headlines, the United States is still pursuing the al Qaeda leadership in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region, which is extremely difficult without the active participation of Pakistani forces -- forces that in the best of circumstances need to have their feet held to the fire to ensure cooperation. Without some robust American arm twisting, Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf has little incentive to pursue a policy that could well bring his government down around him -- not to mention put a bullet in his head.
The Russian Moment
But by far the country with the most pressing need to act -- and coincidentally, the most room to act -- is the one that the United States has been pressing the hardest: Russia.
Unlike U.S. efforts to contain Venezuela or block a rising China, with Russia the United States is playing for keeps. The Soviet Union was one of only three states that have ever directly threatened the United States -- the other two being the British Empire and Mexico. The Soviet Union also came as close as any power ever has to uniting Eurasia into a single integrated, continental power -- the only external development that might be able to end the United States' superpowership. These little factoids are items that policymakers neither forget nor take lightly. So while U.S. policy toward China is to delay its rise, and U.S. policy toward Venezuela is geared toward containment, U.S. policy toward Russia is a simple as it is final: dissolution. Ergo Russia's string of deep and rapid defeats.
But suddenly, the pressure has evaporated.
We are sure to see much more traditional Russian thinking in efforts to construct a multipolar world: attempts at hiving France and Germany away from the rest of Europe; heavy diplomatic engagement with would-be powers like India, China and Venezuela; a resumption of technical efforts with Iran's nuclear power program; reinsertion of Russian influence into North Korea and Syria. But ultimately all of these strategies represent old thinking. What concrete results does Russia really get from having a "strategic partnership" with India, aside from some arms sales? Political hegemony in places like Syria reduces Russian strategy to the diplomatic equivalent of a monkey wrench. The threat to Russia is far deeper, and so if Russia is to use its breathing room to achieve anything of lasting use, it needs a change of mind-set -- and that is precisely what is under way.
On Nov. 14 two men -- Dmitry Medvedev and Sergei Ivanov -- were promoted to deputy prime ministerships. Both are extremely canny politicians and have repeatedly demonstrated the ability to think outside of traditional Russian paradigms. For them, the pre-eminent concern is forestalling further Russian losses and resurging Russian power. Stymieing U.S. initiatives -- the default position for most Russian authorities who have been in positions of power since Soviet days -- is only of high priority when those initiatives actually affect Russia.
Put another way, the new deputy prime ministers think that Russian policy should be a bit more thought-out than simply shouting "nyet" whenever the Americans are up to something. For them issues such as North Korea, Syria, India, Brazil and even Iran are of much lower priority. The real issues are items closer to home: Uzbekistan, Ukraine, the Baltics. It is less about attempting to maintain the long-outdated international balance of the Cold War that Russia's nationalists crave, and more about more traditional Russian concerns of securing the borders by expanding them -- or at minimum expanding Russia's "zones of comfort."
And so it is in these borderlands where Russian efforts will intensify in the months to come. A key tool in the Russian advance will be Gazprom, the state natural gas monopoly, which incidentally boasts one Mr. Medvedev as its chairman of the board. On Nov. 29, Gazprom's deputy CEO announced sharp price increases for a range of former Soviet states, including the Baltics, Ukraine and Georgia. In the case of Kiev, such hikes will likely rip the bottom out of the Ukrainian basket.
A number of politicians throughout the Commonwealth of Independent States are in the process of discovering that not only is the Bear not asleep, but the Eagle is too preoccupied to help shield them from its prowling. In some places -- such as Poland and the Baltics -- where progress away from Russia is an established fact, this will only deepen animosity toward Russia. But in others where the situation is much more tenuous -- most notably Ukraine -- it is leading to efforts at accommodation and will result in a resurgence of Russian influence.
While the economic stick is the order of the day in the western reaches of the former Soviet Union, the southern flank is seeing primarily the military carrot. Central Asian states are many things, but "stable" and "politically inclusive" are certainly not on that list. In a region where Islam is the dominant religion and Afghanistan is but a short walk -- literally -- away, the result has been a government demonizing of militant Islam as a justification for authoritarianism.
Yet efforts to maintain authoritarian control have reduced the options of any opposition forces to one: operating outside the system. Imagine the shock in Central Asian capitals when their policies gave life to the fears buried within their rhetoric. Islam is now a bastion of political -- and sometimes militant -- opposition, and a few sporadic Islamism-inspired attacks have shaken Central Asian political establishments to their core. Suddenly the United States' "revolution" efforts have gone from being perceived as an interesting side note to a deadly threat, and Russia is happy to pick up the pieces of Washington's post-Sept. 11 Central Asia security policies for itself. U.S. forces have already been ushered out of Uzbekistan, and a U.S. diplomatic and economic presence is really only welcome in Kazakhstan -- and even there only on specific terms.
What is particularly notable about this renewed Russian push is how much room there is for progress. American policy in Russia's near abroad has largely been dependent upon the border states' natural antipathy toward Moscow, and not on building stable institutions or links between these regions and the wider world. This makes vast tracts of territory easily accessible to the Russians, whose infrastructure remains hardwired into the entire border region. Without consistent Western attention, geographic realities can easily reassert. Ukraine -- unlike Romania -- is simply on the wrong side of the Carpathians for it to be otherwise. Send questions or comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 30. Nov, 11:30
Many former advice line callers update Mast Sanity on their progress and some help to spread the word in their areas quite sucessfully. Groups are joining up and some, like this area, broadcast relevant info whenever they can. People power at its best.
14th November 2005
PHONE MAST DROP-IN
Some readers may have missed the significance of the above item on page 8 of the October Gazette, amongst Fountainbridge Library news. There are very good reasons why people living in the vicinity should be alert to the possibility of a phone mast on the roof of the library. Not least is the building’s architectural merit and its history as a Nelson Hall, gifted for the benefit of the people. What would be the visual impact of a rooftop phone mast installation? More worrying is the fact that very little research has been done here into the health effects of microwave exposure. The sort of radiation you get from mobile phone masts and base stations has not been scientifically investigated while the sale of operating licenses has been pushed ahead. Yet residents near masts are increasingly reporting a variety of health effects, including serious illnesses.
Sweden has already acknowledged that people can suffer from exposure to electromagnetic fields and that this condition is not psychosomatic. In July this year over 170 doctors wrote to their Prime Minister in Germany imploring him to take action over the proliferation of phone masts. In their letter to Edmund Stoiber they said “many people have become ill with a characteristic combination of symptoms, at exposure levels far below the guideline limits.” The symptoms include sleep disturbance, headaches, depression, dizziness, sinusitis, palpitations and nausea. Emissions form DECT (cordless) phones are also associated with these symptoms and with concentration disturbance.
This has been known for some time and a range of protective products – paints, foils, screening net curtains etc. are now available, as people become more aware and anti mast campaigns increase. Even the Health Protection Agency (HPA) has acknowledged that increasing numbers of people in the UK suffer from electro sensitivity and that Britain should follow Sweden in recognising it as a physical impairment. (See Sunday Times 11th September and Daily Mail 12th September 2005). Their report has since been watered down to be almost meaningless, for reasons that may not be too hard to grasp.
Adults at least understand enough to speak out when new symptoms arise but what about our children? Can they explain? Will they grow up thinking this is the norm? There are far too many masts and far too few answers. Find out more from //www.mastsanity.org
websites. In the meantime put the brakes on yet another mast in this area.
Open letter to Edmund Stoiber, Prime Minister, Germany
- 30. Nov, 10:56
02 in the Lincolnshire Echo 29.11 05 and a reader’s reply
O2 have applied for permission to erect a 15m monopole on the site.
These are designed to be less visually intrusive than other types of phone mast because they are thinner.
An O2 spokesman said the mast would be safe.
"Our mobile phones and base stations are designed to operate within international exposure guidelines on radio wave emissions.
"These guidelines include a substantial safety margin to assure the protection of everyone, regardless of age and health.
"Measurements by regulators in Britain and Germany show our masts and base stations operate well below these guidelines, often by hundreds or thousands of times."
Omega read "Base Stations, operating within strict national and international Guidelines, do not present a Health Risk?" under: //omega.twoday.net/stories/771911/
Lincoln City Council can object to the mast application only on grounds of appearance.
A reader’s reply
The current 'guidelines' used by operators only base health effects on thermal heating (amount tissue is heated), they do not take into account non-thermal effects, and it is these that scientists across the world (including the UK governments own) claim can cause adverse health effects after long-term exposure, especially to the frail and children. It certainly isn't scaremongering, the head of the radiological protection board advised mobile operators to consult with schools, even though guidelines were met, why? Because there is a risk with long-term exposure to the new technology. The reason new phone masts are now being brought into urban areas is to implement a new 3G system to enable users to connect to the internet and download video/music. 3G has not taken off after 5 years and people are content with their 2G voice/text phones, but the operators have been given a deadline (2007) to rollout the 3G network or pay a penalty. So this is the real reason we are seeing so many more applications for phone masts. Very few want the 3G service since it cannot meet the download speeds as first thought and a change in technology is needed. Until scientists know one way or another we should not allow corporate greed to override public health concerns from a product that was born out of greed and not need.Until then, we should all adopt a precautionary approach and ensure these masts are placed well away from residential areas and schools.
Mr. Galloway, Pendle
- 30. Nov, 10:49
Democrats.com and After Downing Street are joining with Backbone Campaign, Progressive Democrats of America, Democracy Cell Project, Cities for Peace, MilitaryFreeZone.Org, Operation Ceasefire, United for Peace and Justice, U.S. Tour of Duty, Hip Hop Caucus, Democracy Rising, World Can't Wait, and Gold Star Families for Peace in asking you to help organize public meetings or smaller gatherings on Saturday, January 7, on the topic of ending the war.
The war is costing us dearly in lives, in security, and in resources. We need this national day to make our demand heard and bring the war to an end. (Events can also be held on days other than the 7th, to fit the schedules of those involved.)
Because the holidays are coming, the time to organize these events is now. Here's how:
STEP 1: Identify an individual or organization or coalition to take the lead in organizing an event.
STEP 2: Post the event so that people can sign up for it and other organizers can contact you and work together. Whoever posts the event will have control of and be able to communicate with the list of people who sign up to attend it. It is also possible to post an event without many details and fill them in later.
STEP 3: See the resources posted on that website, which include tips on contacting your Congress Member. Invite him or her to host the event or to be your guest at an event you host, whichever they and you prefer. You can also hold an event without a Congress Member, such as a panel, a discussion circle, or a house party, and it's easy to do so with the resources provided here:
STEP 4: Join a conference call for grassroots activists around the country on December 7 at 11 a.m. ET at 1-218-936-6666, then hit 2 (as instructed). The access code is 295965.
ImpeachPAC Endorses First Candidate
ImpeachPAC contributed the maximum $2,100 to Democratic congressional candidate Tony Trupiano in his bid to unseat Republican incumbent Thaddeus McCotter in Michigan's 11th District next year.
"We are thrilled to give our first endorsement to Tony Trupiano," said ImpeachPAC President Bob Fertik. "For ten years, Tony has spoken up for Mainstream America on the airwaves. Now he hopes to speak up for Mainstream America in Congress. Tony knows that Americans believe George Bush should be impeached if he lied about Iraq by a solid margin of 53%-42%. And Tony knows that Bush lied about Iraq before the war, and continues to lie now that the truth is finally coming out. Tony will win by demanding that George Bush and Dick Cheney be held accountable for the lies that cost so many precious lives." //www.impeachpac.org/?q=node/48
In less than a month, ImpeachPAC has raised nearly $40,000 from 853 donors towards our initial goal of $100,000. Please help us reach our goal! //impeachpac.org
COMING SOON: Announcement of a National Call-In Day to End the War
Tuesday, December 6th (the day Congress resumes after the holidays) we're asking you to call, email and fax your Congress members to lobby for an end to the war in Iraq. This National Call-in Day, organized by Democrats.com, After Downing Street, and PDA, together with United for Peace and Justice and many other peace organizations, aims to flood Congress members' offices with our message for bringing this war to a close. More details coming soon at //www.afterdowningstreet.org
You can contact Congress about important legislation to help end the war, at any time, here:
Sign PDA's Petition in Support of Ending War Funding here:
TELL CONGRESS TO IMPEACH GEORGE BUSH
TELL CONGRESS TO DEMAND DICK CHENEY'S RESIGNATION
URGE THE SENATE TO REJECT SAM ALITO
From the Democrats.com Blog
To Execute or Not to Execute
Bush Cost Governors Their Elections
Ask the Oil Companies Some Questions
Pentagon Expanding Its Domestic Surveillance Activity
The Chosen Judge
Rumsfeld's Al-Jazeera outburst
EU warned on 'secret CIA jails'
Kerry's 1971 Words: How Sadly They Apply to Iraq
A Congressman for Impeachment
The Biggest FLIP-FLOP in History
FORWARD THIS INFORMATION
- 30. Nov, 10:41