Happy New Year from the London Pro-feminist Men's Group!   
You might have noticed that the blog is looking a bit different these days. Following the departure of two key members, who we can't thank enough for all their efforts (love to Dan and Jon!), we have taken the opportunity to reinvent the group somewhat. So welcome!

The group has always been about consciousness-raising, and we want to keep that aspect of the group. But now we want to direct our attentions outwards somewhat, and make more the opportunity of so many pro-feminist men being in the same place, so we are gearing up for some more focussed activism (as well as the day-to-day stuff we have always done!).

We each have our own take on our feminism or pro-feminism, and the group will be a great way to meet like-minded men to get involved in some actions. But our main concentration as a group is the campaign for equal parental leave, as well as surrounding issues of work/life balance and better working conditions for women and men with dependents.

To get things rolling, we are all reading the recent report by the Fatherhood Institute into a variety of gender inequalities and injustices in current government legislation about parenting and more besides. You can download the report here. The UK is a pathetic *18th* out of 21 countries considered. If you want to do something about it too, consider joining us for our next meeting, on the 23rd January. (Email us for more details.)

More New Year feminist and pro-feminist things of interest:

bill's profeminist blog has this great post suggesting some Pro-feminist New Year's resolutions for straight guys. (I think plenty also apply to gay men!) Thanks, Bill!

The Feminist Library is celebrating 35 years of archiving and activism on the 19th February, at the Round Chapel, Powerscroft Road, London E5 0PU. (For FB-lovers, the event page is here.) It's going to be a good one, and volunteers are still wanted!

We will also be updating the blog much more often, so bookmark us, or sign up to our RSS feed, and get involved!
          It's Not A U-Turn, Diplomacy Is Better Than Confrontation - Adenan   

The State Government is not making a ‘U’ turn on this matter because we believe that Federal and State BN Governments being in the family can resolve this issue amicably between the parties concerned as diplomacy is better than confrontation.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Haji Adenan Satem said that, that is why the State Government has decided not to proceed on the motion to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution which categorised Sarawak as one of the thirteen (13) states in Malaysia.

"The amended Article 1(2) is perceived as not in the spirit behind Inter-Governmental Committee Report and the Malaysia Agreement which was clearly reflected in the original wordings of that Article," he said.

Adenan elaborated, that Article, before its amendments clearly provides that the Federation of Malaysia consisted of: (1) The States of the federation of Malaya; (2) The States of Sabah and Sarawak; and (3) Singapore.

He said this in his Winding-up Speech at the last day of the 18th Sarawak DUN's Sitting today.

"The Prime Minister has announced that he is willing to discuss with Sarawak and Sabah on any matters related to the misinterpretations and misunderstandings to the Malaysia Agreement 1963."

"On this note, the Prime Minister clearly shows that he is willing to discuss this matter with the State Government and to find solutions to resolve this issue," stressed Adenan. -UnReportedNews™®

          Jawapan Wartawan Kepada Pengkritik Laporan Isu Kerja Ladang Di Australia   

Kepada : Akmar Abu Bakar

BAHAGIAN 1
----------
Terdapat beberapa kesalahan fakta asas dalam ulasan saudara Akmar.
1-Saya bukan wartawan Berita Harian tetapi Utusan Malaysia
2-Di Cutri, saya membuat kerja-kerja thinning, bukannya memetik buah
Maka saya tertanya-tanya sama ada saudara membaca sepenuhnya laporan saya atau sekadar membaca tajuk sahaja?
Sudahkan saudara membaca lapan muka surat laporan khas saya. Sudahkan saudara membaca sepenuhnya tulisan Nick McKenzie dan menonton 7.30 report?
Jika dibaca, pastinya jelas terpampang maklumat asas tadi. Takkan itu pun masih buat silap fakta.
Inilah penyakit orang kita. Dia baca tajuk, dia terus percaya. Dia tak kaji betul-betul tapi dia share di Facebook, WhatsApp.
Saya lihat saudara Akmar berada dalam kategori ini. Jenis suka baca tajuk, lepas tu terus melompat buat ulasan. Baca saudara, Allah dah kata, Iqra' (baca).
Macam tu jugalah kaitannya dengan iklan-iklan menawarkan kemewahan dengan kerja ladang buah di Australia. Ramai yang percaya bulat-bulat.
Memang duit jadi kelemahan manusia dan sebab tu lah iklan kerja Australia di Facebook ni semuanya tayang duit.
Mungkin ada yang plan nak pergi tiga bulan sahaja (selari dengan tempoh sah visa pelancong), maklumlah sebulan dapat RM9,000, tiga bulan dah berapa? Lumayan, boleh bayar hutang.
Tapi sedih, lepas tiga bulan pun tak boleh balik lagi.
Memang orang Melayu obses dengan duit segera. Tengoklah skim cepat kaya, MLM dan sebagainya, orang Melayu lah yang palig ramai kena tipu.
Saya pun tak faham sangat kenapa orang kita mudah sangat kena tipu. Gores dan menang pun kena tipu. Alahai...
BAHAGIAN 2
----------
Saya tidak berminat untuk menjawab serangan dan cercaan peribadi saudara ke atas saya. Pemikiran saya bukanlah serendah itu.
Saudara juga telah membuat tafsiran sendiri mengenai diri saya berdasarkan laporan yang dibuat walaupun tidak mengenali secara peribadi.
Maka, izinkan saya untuk membuat penilaian menggunakan methodology yang sama, siapakah diri saudara berdasarkan maklumat yang saya peroleh di laman Facebook saudara
Selepas disemak, saudara dilihat konsisten mempromosikan peluang pekerjaan ladang di Australia dan secara terbuka meminta rakan FB berhubung jika berminat.
Dan seperti biasa, yang indah-indah sahajalah diceritakan. Biasalah taktik FB marketing dan saya lihat saudara adalah orang yang mengkaji teknik FB marketing.
Maka, izinkanlah saya bertanya:
1- Apa yang dibuat saudara di Australia? Kerja ladang atau bawa orang masuk? Atau seorang pekerja ladang yang nampak peluang untuk buat duit dengan bawa masuk pekerja.
2- Berapa lama dah saudara di sana? Adakah visa membenarkan saudara bekerja di sana? Bagaimana dengan kawan-kawan yang mengikuti saudara, visa apa yang nak digunakan? Student visa?
3- Katakan saudara adalah jujur, tidak menganiayai kawan-kawan yang dibawa masuk, adakah saudara sedar apa yang dibuat adalah jenayah? Pernahkan saudara mendengar istilah human traficking?
BAHAGIAN 3
----------
Ramai menuduh saya menutup periuk nasi bangsa saya di Australia. Tunggu....saya jelaskan dulu okey.
Laporan saya bertujuan:
1-Mengelakkan rakyat Malaysia dan bangsa saya daripada terpedaya dengan janji manis ejen. Ramai dah orang terkena, orang dari kampung.
Saya pun berasal dari kampung dan tak sanggup tengok orang saya kena tipu.
Tak kena atas kepala saudara Alhamdulillah, tapi jangan nafikan ada kes macam ni dan jumlahnya besar.
Ada yang sanggup pinjam duit sebab fikir dia pergi sekejap je, dah dapat buat untung akan balik segera. Alih-alih hidup susah di farm dan berhutang lagi.
Apa yang saya tulis bukan rekaan. Bukan imiginasi. Semua makumat saya terima daripada pekerja farm juga. Saya bukan keyboard warrior, saya turun ke ground dan saya tengok dan rasa kehidupan orang kita di Swan Hill.
Cuma masalah dengan bangsa Melayu yang masuk farm ni, dia tak suka cerita kedukaan dia sangat. Dia bagitahu kawan-kawan di Malaysia kerja best padahal diri sendiri je lah yang tahu.
Yang di Malaysia percaya bulat-bulat dan terpengaruh ke sana.
Sebab apa? Sebab ego, orang kampung dengar tumpang bangga. Kerja di Australia beb, bunyi gah sangat, malulah kalau mengaku hidup susah.
Bagi yang berjaya, berjayalah, dan kita jangan lupa memang ada yang terjerat di Australia. Semoga yang berjaya itu tidak mencemari tangan mereka dengan memanipulasikan mana-mana pihak.
2- Disebabkan banyak sangat orang Malaysia salah guna visa pelancong dan langgar peraturan, Imigresen sana dah alert.
Kalau naik penerbangan tambang murah, lagilah Imigresen curios. Tengoklah apa soalan dia tanya masa nak masuk. Lebih-lebih lagi kalau Australia adalah negara asing pertama yang korang lawat.
Adil kah benda ni untuk kira-kira 30 juta rakyat Malaysia lain yang nak ke sana melancong, bekerja secara sah, buka bisness dan lain lain.
Disebabkan pekerja ladang Malaysia buat hal dengan imigresen, orang lain kena getah. Pekerja Malaysia di farm tuduh saya tutup periuk nasi, sedarkah yang korang juga tutup periuk nasi rakyat Malaysia yang lain.
Bagi lah apa pun alasan, kerja tanpa permit tetap salah. Hormatilah undang-undang negara orang, kita pun marah Bangla dan Indon masuk Malaysia kerja haram.
Setiap rumah orang ada peraturan, kena lah ikut. Bukan sesuka hati terjah dan bagi hujah kami cari rezeki halal (TAPI DENGAN CARA SALAH).
Kena ingat, apa yang berlaku di ladang-ladang akan menjejaskan 156,000 diaspora Malaysia yang berada di Australi secara sah tak termasuk pelajar dan pekerja haram lain
Untuk kefahaman, saya copy n paste petikan statement seorang peguam rakyat Malaysia yang memiliki law firm, Fides Lawyers di Melbourne sejak 8 tahun lalu, Vicknaraj Thanarajah dalam isu ini.
(HADAMKAN)
As of 30th March 2016 the percentage of Australian residents born overseas are one of its highest in Australian History. The latest statistics show that out of the current Australian Population 156,500 or 0.7 percent are from Malaysia.
These are the legitimate migrants on record till to-date.
The above figures do not include the students who come here yearly to study or the illegal migrants.
According to the statistics for the months of September 2016, there are approximately 35,000 thousand people from Malaysia who visit Australia between August and September of 2016.
The above figures shows us a few crucial facts;
1.The Malaysian Diaspora in Australia is about 156K, and we have a sizeable presence in Australia being the top 10 diaspora in Australia;
2.The Monthly Malaysian Entrants Australia is the top 5 in Australia;
Therefore, whatever happens to the Malaysian community in Australia, has an impact not only to Malaysia reputation but also to the rest of the diaspora that have migrated here or has legitimate business interest in Australia, this includes a series of investments by Malaysian GLC in Australia.
It is also commonly known that Malaysia is the only Southeast Asian country with access to the electronic travel authority system under which Malaysian citizens — and applicants from most of the Western world — can get a three-month tourist visa online.
This is probably the result of the excellent diplomatic relations that is shared between the two countries.
Common sense would dictate that should there be in surge in abuse of this privilege this efficient process is endangered in being scrapped.
BAHAGIAN 4
----------
Australia tak bodoh, dia bukan tak tahu apa yang pekerja ladang ni buat. Kalau tengok statistik protection visa pun dah kantoi sebab tiba-tiba mendadak naik. Ini kerja siapa sebenarnya?
Malaysia negara aman dan masih berungsi tetapi ramai rakyat kita minta visa perlindugan (refugee). Negara kita tak beperang pun. Untuk kepentingan dia, dia menipu dalam borang permohonan siap kondem Malaysia lagi.
Berdasarkan statitik laman web Imigresen Australia, didapati permohonan visa protection oleh rakyat Malaysia meningkat daripada 294 permohonan pada 2013-2014, 1,401 permohonan pada 2014-2015 dan meroket kepada 3,549 (2015-2016)
Dari 294 permohonan naik kepada 3,549 permohonan dalam masa hanya empat tahun? Kegilaan apa kah ini?
Berikut petikan kenyataan Vicknaraj Thanarajah:
According to the statistic published by the Department of Immigration in Australia, we can gather the following crucial facts;
•Asylum applications from Malaysians lodged while within Australia in the last financial year topped 3500, more than double the total for 2014-15 even though Malaysia is a stable and functioning state, new figures show.
•Immigration department figures show 87 per cent of these applications are refused. Of the reviews conducted by the Migration and Refugee Division of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, 88 per cent validate the original decision.
•The tribunal processed more than 2000 reviews last financial year — a fourfold increase on 2014-15 — representing almost half of its protection claim caseload.
•Details of the recent flood of onshore asylum applications from Malaysia, which totalled just 294 in 2013-4, are contained in documents published on the department’s website.
•In 2014-15, 1401 Malaysians applied for asylum from within Australia. That total surged to 3549 in the 2015-16 year.
BAHAGIAN 5
----------
Baca lagi petikan kenyataan Vicknaraj Thanarajah:
"Apart from the above financial and legal considerations, these workers need to be aware of the political considerations that are associated with the Horticulture industry in Australia specifically the Fruit Picking Jobs.
The truth is, this is not a new issue; the Malaysians are just a latest wave of workers that are being used by the syndicates as work-stock. Prior to in recent years this there was an uproar on the abuse of Pacific Islanders as illegal workforce and as a result of an inquiry, the illegal workforce have significantly reduce from the Pacific Island.
It is my personal opinion the Malaysians are merely filling in a temporary gap left by the prior inquiry in relation to the Pacific islanders. What the Malaysian migrants need to realise, that the labour dilemma is soon to be solve (at least in part); because a political solution has been reached recently.
The Immigration Department of Australia will be launching a special class of visa (416) to enable Pacific islanders to work in the horticulture industry seasonally. This is supposed to commence by the 19th of November 2016.
Unfortunately Malaysia is not on the list as that particular visa caters for Pacific Islanders.
The hypocrisy of politics are blinding, the blatant fact remains that there is a need for workers in the horticulture industry especially in rural Australia, and the industry and the syndicates are filling that gap and need.
The syndicates take advantage on this legal and economic arbitrage simply because workers are voiceless because of their legal status in Australia. 
Rhetorically, Corporations, Farmers and Authorities, at the Federal, State and Local Government manage the blame efficiently and seamlessly each respectively pleading ignorance of the existence of such syndicates and illegal workforce.
This plea of ignorance is laughable, especially with the example of the case of Swan Hill a rural town in regional Victoria is swarming with Malaysians Workforce.
The issue and the challenge now is whether the Australia Government specifically the Minister responsible for Immigration is going to provide an empty political retort by conveniently electing to enforce a pre-existing law or a sound policy resolution that is sustainable and future proof for all those affected by the labour shortage.
For the sake Human Dignity and Decency, I challenge the Minister to extend the same opportunity for Malaysians to enable them to apply as seasonal workers in the Horticultural Industry.
Alternative expand the quota of Sub Class 462 Work Holiday Visa which is currently fixed at 100 visa for Malaysian per annum.
BAHAGIAN 6
----------
Saya juga sependapat dengan Vicknaraj yang berharap ada sinar untuk rakyat Malaysia bekerja di ladang-ladang secara sah supaya nasib mereka lebih terjamin.
PM Najib pun dah jumpa dengan PM Australia, Malcom Turnbull di APEC, Lima, Peru, kelmarin.
Malaysia, Australia bincang isu kedatangan migran
LIMA, Peru 20 Nov. - Kerjasama berkaitan kedatangan migran secara tidak sekata adalah antara topik yang disentuh dalam perbincangan dua hala Malaysia dan Australia di luar persidangan Kerjasama Ekonomi Asia Pasifik (APEC) di ibu negara Peru semalam.
Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak yang mengadakan pertemuan dengan Perdana Menteri Australia, Malcolm Turnbull berkata, Australia dalam pertemuan itu meminta kerjasama Malaysia untuk membendung isu pelarian, yang menghantui negara berkenaan ekoran kebanjiran migran itu.
"Beliau (Turnbull) mahu bendung masalah migran ini yang dikaitkan dengan permerdagangan manusia," katanya kepada wartawan Malaysia di sini selepas menghadiri program hari pertama Mesyuarat Pemimpin Ekonomi APEC.
Antara kerjasama itu adalah melalui pertukaran laporan risikan dan melakukan larangan rasmi iaitu dengan mengambil tindakan sekiranya migran berkenaan melalui perairan negara, katanya.
BAHAGIAN 7
---------------------------
Kita harap pertemuan ini dapat merintis jalan ke arah rundingan yang akan memberi manfaat kepada rakyat Malaysia yang mahu bekerja di Australia secara sah dalam sektor kemahiran rendah.
NOTA: Ada beberapa soalan Saudara Saharudin Jang yang perlu saya jawab.
1- Apakah keburukan yg ada pada rakyat malaysia bekerja di malaysia.
Keburukan? Saya dan jutaan rakyat Malaysia lain tetap kerja macam biasa. Memang ada kelemahan tertentu seperti gaji yang tak setara dengan kos sara hidup. Saya sebagai rakyat pun buat 2-3 kerja untuk survive. Dan buat masa ini saya belum terfikir perlu bekerja di negara orang secara haram untuk survive.
2- Adakah baik untuk kerajaan malaysia jika aliran wang tunai dari aussie masuk kemalaysia dan dihabiskan untuk membayar cukai & gst?
Betul tapi sepatutnya dilakukan secara sah. Pekerja haram tidak mebayar cukai kepada kerajaan Australia dan duit berkenaan mengalir ke Malaysia secara tak sah.
3- Ramai pekerja di aussie nie akan terdidik dgn cara hidup di aussie x boleh wat huru hara bising n sabagainya yg menganggu privasi org lain. Betul atau tidak?
Betul lah. Mematuhi undang-undang perkara yang mulia, begitulah juga undang-undang Imigresen di Australia. Kenapa tak hormat pula?
Kalau setakat nak didik supaya tak bising, kat Malaysia pun boleh. Hormati hak jiran tu kan ajaran Islam.
4- Pepatah orang dahulu jauh berjalan luas pengalaman.
Betul ke tidak.
1000 peratus saya sokong. Sebab saya sendiri suka berjalan. Sejak 2006 sampai sekarang, dah 24-25 negara saya dah pergi.
Pada 2010 saya berekspedisi dengan tiga lagi kawan naik motosikal dari KL ke London dalam masa 2 bulan. Di sepanjang perjalanan saya jumpa ramai rakyat Malaysia yang berjaya, tak ada seorang pun daripada mereka ni bekerja secara haram.
Bulan Ogos lepas, saya berada di Rio de Janeiro, Brazil selama tiga minggu untuk liputan sukan Olimpik Rio2016.
Saya pun kenal ramai lejen-lejen hardcore overlander yang dah pusing dunia, mereka tak der pula nak kutuk-kutu Malaysia. Jangan baru jejak kaki di satu negara, dah rasa Malaysia ni serba tak kena.
5- Berapakah komisyen yang bro saiful haizan terima daei egent egent pembuat bridging visa. Yg lebih membahayakan kedudukan malaysia pada PRU 14 nanti. Setiap pemegang visa a & c x boleh balik kemalaysia tau. Camner diorg nk undi BN namti. Heheheh.
Apa punya soalan ni. Apa kaitan dengan ejen buat bridging visa? Sepatutnya mereka yang marah dengan saya.
Kalau tak boleh balik, pergilah mengundi di kedutaan. Asalkan berdaftar dengan SPR.
Akmar pula ada cakap yang Imigresen Australia tangkap orang Malaysia sebab Najib nak rakyat balik undi dia.
Hahahaha...hal politik tak perlu masuk lah bro. Tak habis-habis dengan politik.
Terima kasih kerana membaca ke peringkat ini. Saya menghargainya kerana selepas ini saya tidak lagi mengulas isu ini secara detail di FB.
*Share jika bermanfaat*
Salam hormat,
Saiful Haizan
Besut, Terengganu


-UnReportedNews™®

          Wildlife Biologist II – Baffin - GOVERNMENT OF NUNAVUT - Pond Inlet, NU   
The incumbent must have English written and oral communication skills for conveying and integrating information to/from a variety of audiences, including... $97,734 a year
From Indeed - Fri, 17 Mar 2017 19:01:25 GMT - View all Pond Inlet, NU jobs
          Support Assistant - Inualthuyak School - Government of the Northwest Territories - Sachs Harbour, NT   
If you have a disability and you require support during the hiring process, you are encouraged to identify your needs if you are contacted for an assignment or... $31.16 an hour
From Government of the Northwest Territories - Sat, 24 Jun 2017 10:21:21 GMT - View all Sachs Harbour, NT jobs
          Public Health Nurse, Public Health (Re-advertisement) - Nunavut Government - Clyde River, NU   
Primary focus is on maternal/child health, school health, communicable disease and immunization programs. The candidate will also have knowledge of current... $94,010 - $106,685 a year
From Nunavut Government - Fri, 23 Jun 2017 18:19:14 GMT - View all Clyde River, NU jobs
          Summer Student Employment - Nunavut Government - Arctic Bay, NU   
Currently enrolled in a post-secondary program. Summer Student Employment Equity Program Flyer - Iqaluit. Government of Nunavut Summer Student Employment Equity...
From Nunavut Government - Fri, 09 Jun 2017 18:05:21 GMT - View all Arctic Bay, NU jobs
          Administrative Assistant I (Flex), New Business - Eastern Municipal Water District - Perris, CA   
Types and edits documents ranging from general correspondence to technical reports and spreadsheets; Experience in a government or public utility setting and/or...
From Eastern Municipal Water District - Sat, 24 Jun 2017 05:34:19 GMT - View all Perris, CA jobs
          Wildlife Biologist II – Baffin - GOVERNMENT OF NUNAVUT - Pond Inlet, NU   
The Wildlife Biologist administers activities associated with these initiatives and programs and provides wildlife related advice to other sections, agencies... $97,734 a year
From Indeed - Fri, 17 Mar 2017 19:01:25 GMT - View all Pond Inlet, NU jobs
          Support Assistant - Inualthuyak School - Government of the Northwest Territories - Sachs Harbour, NT   
At the direction of the Principal, the Education Assistant reports to the Principal, Program Support Teacher and/or Classroom Teachers, He/she is responsible... $31.16 an hour
From Government of the Northwest Territories - Sat, 24 Jun 2017 10:21:21 GMT - View all Sachs Harbour, NT jobs
          Community Health Nurse - 8 Week Job Share - Sachs Harbour - Government of the Northwest Territories - Sachs Harbour, NT   
Including but not limited to Well-Child/Woman/Man clinics, pre and post-natal clinics, school health program, chronic disease clinic, immunization programs,... $14.47 an hour
From Government of the Northwest Territories - Sun, 11 Jun 2017 13:10:19 GMT - View all Sachs Harbour, NT jobs
          Nasdaq logs best daily gain in about 8 months as banks, tech rally   

U.S. stocks rallied on Wednesday, fueled by a surge in financial and tech shares, which helped Wall Street to partially shake off Tuesday's sharp fall. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index enjoyed a run deep into positive territory, helping it cut into Tuesday's 100-point drop, and marking its best daily rise since Nov. 7, when it surged 2.4%, according to FactSet data. On Wednesday, the Nasdaq rose 1.4% to 6,234. The S&P 500 index climbed 0.9% at 2,440, representing the benchmark's best daily rise since April 24. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.7% at 21,454. Those moves come a day after equities saw their worst selloff in more than a month on the back of doubts about President Donald Trump's pro-growth agenda. The small-cap Russell 2000 nearly closed at a record, finishing up about 1.5% on the day, and highlighting the broad-based nature of the rally. Helping to support a bid for bank shares was a rise in government bond yields, with the 10-year Treasury note yield at 2.22%. Those gains were aided by European Central Bank officials attempting to tamp down the market's bearish reaction to ECB President Mario Draghi's comments on Tuesday, which were interpreted as hawkish, pushing the euro and yields globally markedly higher.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.


          A Survival Guide to Conference Travel   
Travis Nielsen is the founder and CEO of Azurigen Management and Consulting Solutions Inc. A STEM project management firm that specializes in linking conservation based science to business and government. He is a published scientist specializing in Marine Biology with 10 years experience in STEM, and 10 years of experience in management and leadership. He […]
          Governmentdirt.com   
I’ve joined forces with Sam over at Governmentdirt.com, so I’ll be posting my political stuff over there (as will others)! You can find my first posting about Bush and his speech on Vietnam by clicking on this link! My other blogs that you may enjoy are: • Zalandria: Funny pictures, great links and occasional commentary! […]
          I’m Too Busy!   
I wanted this blog to be constantly updated, with lots of commentary by me. But I never have the time! So, for the foreseeable future, check out these great blogs that I check every day! PoliticalWire Political Insider TIME/Real Clear Politics CNN/Political Ticker AmericaBlog DailyKOS IntelDaily Government Dirt
          Why Kerry Lost   

BOSTON—My take on the election: Vision without details beats details without vision. President Bush put forward a powerful and compelling philosophy of what the government should do at home and abroad: Expand liberty. You can disagree with Bush's implementation of that vision, but objecting to it as a matter of principle isn't a political winner. John Kerry, on the other hand, campaigned as a technocrat, a man who would be better at "managing" the war and the economy. But for voters faced with a mediocre economy rather than a miserable one, and with a difficult war that's hopefully not a disastrous one, that message—packaged as "change"—wasn't compelling enough to persuade them to vote for Kerry.

Without reliable exit-poll data, it's hard to know exactly which voters and issues decided the election, but my guess is that the Democrats will ultimately conclude that they did what they thought was necessary on the ground to win the election. Karl Rove and the Republicans just did more. (On the exit-poll question: If the initial evening exit-poll result that 5 percent of the late deciders broke for Ralph Nader had turned out to be accurate, Nader would have received more votes from among the pool of late-breaking undecideds than he ended up receiving from the entire electorate.) The Democratic confidence during the early afternoon and evening was based on more than faulty poll data. The Kerry campaign was confident that high turnout from the party base would swing the election their way.

But this election wasn't a swing, or a pendulum. There was no fairly evenly divided group in the middle of the electorate that ultimately broke for one side and made the difference. The 2004 campaign was not a tug of war between two sides trying to yank the center toward them. Instead, it was a battle over an electorate perched on a seesaw. Each campaign furiously tried to find new voters to add so that it could outweigh the other side. Both sides performed capably: Kerry received more votes than Al Gore did four years ago, and he even received more votes than the previous all-time leader, Ronald Reagan in 1984. President Bush just did even better.

Rove's gamble that he could find more Bush supporters from among nonvoting social conservatives than from the small number of undecideds in the usual voting public worked exactly as designed. The question for Democrats is whether Rove's formula will turn out to be a one-time trick tied to Bush's personal popularity and the emotional bond the nation formed with him after the trauma of 9/11, or whether the Democratic Party has been relegated to permanent, if competitive, minority status. Are the Democrats once again a regional party, the new Eisenhower Republicans of the Northeast? For seven consecutive presidential elections, the Democratic candidate has failed to garner 50 percent of the vote. Not since Jimmy Carter in 1976 has a Democrat won a majority, and even Watergate could get Carter only 50.1 percent.

The silver lining for the minority party is that the Democrats may have a slight edge in the Electoral College. Although he lost the popular vote by more than 3.5 million (a landslide in a 50-50 nation), Kerry lost the presidency by a much smaller amount: fewer than 140,000 votes in Ohio. The 2008 battleground will likely be even smaller than 2004's: Only 19 states in this election had a vote margin that within single digits. In 2000's divided America, Bush and Gore finished within 5 points of each other in 22 states. This time, Bush and Kerry came within sniffing distance of each other in half as many, 11. Despite President Bush's remarkably successful campaign, and despite the fact that he became the first president to win a majority of the vote since his father did the same in 1988, in his second term George W. Bush will preside over a country that is even more divided than it was during his first.


          The Vanishing Nonvoter   

FORT LAUDERDALE—Republicans love to criticize Democrats for failing to use "dynamic scoring" when assessing the impact of tax cuts on budget revenues. But if President Bush loses the 2004 presidential election, it may be because Karl Rove failed to use dynamic scoring when assessing the impact of his political strategy on the electorate.

In budgetary matters, dynamic scoring means including the effect that cutting taxes will have on economic growth when determining how a tax cut will affect federal revenues. A static analysis, on the other hand, would just decrease the government's inflows by the amount that taxes were cut (or increase revenues by the amount taxes were raised), without calculating the ways a change in tax policy can change people's economic decisions.

For the 2004 election, Rove's static political analysis was that appealing to the 4 million evangelicals who didn't vote in 2000 would bring President Bush a decisive re-election victory. Bush's campaign—and his presidency—have appealed almost entirely to the base of the Republican Party. In a static world, that strategy makes sense: Consolidate the support you received last time, and then find new conservative voters who weren't motivated to turn out four years ago, whether because of the late-breaking news of Bush's DUI arrest or because they weren't convinced of Bush's conservative bona fides. But Rove may have missed the dynamic analysis: the effect that such a strategy would have on the rest of the nonvoting public.

In most states, the Democratic voter-registration program has outpaced the Republican one. Here in Florida, that hasn't been the case, as the GOP has turned up more new registrants across the state than the Democrats. But evidence that Rove's unconventional strategy inflamed the Democratic base can be seen in the early-voting turnout, which seems to be favoring the Democrats. Friday's South Florida Sun-Sentinel featured this headline on the front page: "Early Vote Turnout Boosts Democrats." Calling the turnout in heavily Democratic Broward County a "bad sign for President Bush's chances to win the state," the Sun-Sentinel noted that "twice as many Democrats as Republicans had either voted at early voting sites or returned absentee ballots in the county." In Miami-Dade, another heavily Democratic county, Kerry stands to beat Bush by 90,000 votes if a Miami Herald poll conducted by John Zogby is accurate, Herald columnist Jim DeFede wrote on Thursday. Al Gore won the county by less than 40,000 votes.

"By our count, John Kerry already has a significant lead with the people who have already voted in Florida," Tad Devine said in a conference call with reporters Saturday. The voters who are waiting in line for 2 1/2 hours to vote—almost exactly how long the line was Saturday at the downtown Fort Lauderdale public library—aren't doing that to register their support for "more of the same," he said. Interestingly, Devine sounded more confident about Kerry's chances in Florida than in Ohio, a state in which most people think Kerry has a slight edge. He said that Kerry had a "small but important advantage" in Florida (as well as Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania) but only that the race was "very close" with Kerry "positioned to win" in Ohio, putting that the Buckeye State in the same category as Bush-leaning (by most accounts) states Iowa, Nevada, and New Mexico.

It's possible that Rove and the Bush campaign have turned up a huge trove of conservative nonvoters who were registered to vote four years ago and who therefore aren't showing up in the numbers of new registered voters. Unless that's true, however, the early indications are that Rove's repudiation of centrist politics will backfire. The secret of Bill Clinton's campaigns and of George W. Bush's election in 2000 was the much-maligned politics of small differences: Find the smallest possible majority (well, of electoral votes, for both men) that gets you to the White House. In political science, something called the "median voter theorem" dictates that in a two-party system, both parties will rush to the center looking for that lone voter—the median voter—who has 50.1 percent of the public to the right (or left) of him. Win that person's vote, and you've won the election.

Rove has tried to use the Bush campaign to disprove the politics of the median voter. It was as big a gamble as any of the big bets President Bush has placed over the past four years. It has the potential to pay off spectacularly. After all, everyone always talks about how there are as many people who don't vote in this country as people who do vote. Rove decided to try to get the president to excite those people. Whether Bush wins or loses, it looks like he succeeded.


          Kerry Isn't Al Gore   

MILWAUKEE—Here's a complaint you won't hear very often: Some Democrats wish John Kerry's campaign was just a tiny bit more like Al Gore's. They may be happy to do without the sighing, the man-tan, the public displays of affection, the ill-fitting populist message, Joe Lieberman, Mark Fabiani, and the weird New Yorker interview. But there's one thing they do miss: Gore's post-convention riverboat trip down the Mississippi River.

Karl Rove has attributed the narrow Democratic victory in Iowa four years ago to the riverboat trip, which allowed Gore to reach rural river counties that Bush couldn't reach by plane (for want of a suitable runway). The congressional newspaper The Hill noted earlier this month that Gore won nine of the 10 Iowa counties along the Mississippi River. That feat is even more impressive in light of Gore's miserable performance nationally in rural areas.

Kerry is doing all he can to appeal to rural voters, particularly in Ohio. In addition to Thursday's hunting trip, he attended Mass on a Saturday afternoon during his bus trip this past weekend, and he accepted a shotgun as a gift during a political rally at the end of that trip. (That was the second time I've seen Kerry receive a gun at a rally. He was also given one during a September rally in West Virginia's coal country. He refrained this time, however, from mourning the fact that he could not use it to shoot the president.) But if Kerry wins Ohio and ends up losing Iowa and Wisconsin (and thereby the presidency), some fingers will immediately point at Kerry's failure to imitate Gore's successful, and nearly decisive, boat ride.

Would President Gore Have Prevented 9/11? In Reason's poll  of notables from the "reason universe," Camille Paglia explains that she's voting for John Kerry this time and that she voted for Ralph Nader four years ago because she detests "the arrogant, corrupt superstructure of the Democratic Party." But even though Paglia thought Gore would be such a bad president that she was driven to vote for Nader, she also claims that if he had become president he would have prevented 9/11.

Paglia doesn't put it that way, but the logic is inescapable from her explanation of her "most embarrassing vote": "Bill Clinton the second time around. Because he did not honorably resign when the Lewinsky scandal broke and instead tied up the country and paralyzed the government for two years, leading directly to our blindsiding by 9/11."

Campaign Reporters for Truth: I wasn't one of the members of the traveling press that went on the hunting trip with Kerry. I am, however, a member of the traveling press. And I can tell you that the goose that Kerry shot was a mere gosling, wearing only a loincloth, fleeing the scene, and that Kerry chased it down and shot it in the back.


          Kerry vs. His Script   

WATERLOO, Iowa—Since the final presidential debate, John Kerry has traveled around the country delivering a series of speeches that his campaign calls his "closing argument." The topics vary, but the theme is always the same, the "Fresh Start for America": Friday in Milwaukee, a "fresh start" for jobs; Monday in Tampa, a "fresh start" for health care; Tuesday in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., a "fresh start" for fiscal responsibility and Social Security. The speeches are supposed to convince Americans of Kerry's fitness for the presidency, but a side effect has been to demonstrate how inept he is at delivering prepared remarks.

The campaign gives reporters the text of each of Kerry's speeches "as prepared for delivery," apparently to show how much Kerry diverges from them. During his stump speeches and town halls, Kerry makes the occasional Bush-style error, such as the time I saw him tell a blind man in St. Louis that he would "look you in the eye." Tuesday night in Dayton, Ohio, Kerry tried to thank teachers for spending money out of their own pockets on students, but instead it came out as a thank-you to Mary Kay Letourneau as he said, "And they're putting out for our kids." His pronunciation of "idear" grates on my ears far more than Bush's "nucular." But the authentic Kerryism emerges only when he gives a formal address.

Kerry proves incapable of reading simple declarative sentences. He inserts dependent clauses and prepositional phrases until every sentence is a watery mess. Kerry couldn't read a Dick and Jane book to schoolchildren without transforming its sentences into complex run-ons worthy of David Foster Wallace. Kerry's speechwriters routinely insert the line "We can bring back that mighty dream," near the conclusion of his speeches, presumably as an echo of Ted Kennedy's Shrum-penned "the dream will never die" speech from the 1980 Democratic convention. Kerry saps the line of its power. Here's his version from Monday's speech in Tampa: "We can bring back the mighty dream of this country, that's what's at stake in these next two weeks."

Kerry flubs his punch lines, sprinkles in irrelevant anecdotes, and talks himself into holes that he has trouble improvising his way out of. He steps on his applause lines by uttering them prematurely, and then when they roll up on his TelePrompTer later, he's forced to pirouette and throat-clear until he figures out how not to repeat himself. He piles adjective upon adjective until it's like listening to a speech delivered by Roget.

Kerry's health-care speech Monday in Tampa was a classic of the form. The written text contained a little more than 2,500 words. By the time he was finished, Kerry had spoken nearly 5,300 words—not including his introductory remarks and thank-yous to local politicians—more than doubling the verbiage. Pity his speechwriters when you read the highlights below. It's not their fault.

Kerry's Script: Most of all, I will always level with the American people. 

Actual Kerry: Most of all, my fellow Americans, I pledge to you that I will always level with the American people, because it's only by leveling and telling the truth that you build the legitimacy and gain the consent of the people who ultimately we are accountable to. I will level with the American people.

Kerry's Script: I will work with Republicans and Democrats on this health care plan, and we will pass it.

Actual Kerry: I will work with Republicans and Democrats across the aisle, openly, not with an ideological, driven, fixed, rigid concept, but much like Franklin Roosevelt said, I don't care whether a good idea is a Republican idea or a Democrat idea. I just care whether or not it's gonna work for Americans and help make our country stronger. And we will pass this bill. I'll tell you a little bit about it in a minute, and I'll tell you why we'll pass it, because it's different from anything we've ever done before, despite what the Republicans want to try to tell you.

Kerry's Script: These worries are real, and they're happening all across America.

Actual Kerry: These worries are real. They're not made up. These stories aren't something that's part of a Democrat plan or a Republican plan. These are American stories. These are the stories of American citizens. And it's not just individual citizens who are feeling the pressure of health care costs. It's businesses across America. It's CEOs all across America. This is an American problem.

Kerry's Script: That's wrong, and we have to change it.

Actual Kerry: Well, that's wrong, my friends. We shouldn't be just hoping and praying. We need leadership that acts and responds and leads and makes things happen.     

Kerry's Script: That's wrong, and we have to change it.

Actual Kerry: Well, that's wrong. We had a chance to change it in the Congress of the United States. They chose otherwise. And I'll talk about that in a minute.

Kerry's Script: It's wrong to make it illegal for Medicare to negotiate with the drug companies for lower prices.

Actual Kerry: But not satisfied to hold onto the drug company's profit there, they went further. Medicare belongs to you. Medicare is paid by the taxpayer. Medicare is a taxpayer-funded program to keep seniors out of poverty. And we want to lower the cost to seniors, right? It's common sense. But when given the opportunity to do that, this president made it illegal for Medicare to do what the VA does, which is go out and bulk purchase drugs so we could lower the taxpayers' bill and lower the cost to seniors. It is wrong to make it illegal to lower the cost of tax and lower the cost to seniors. 

Kerry's Script: And if there was any doubt before, his response to the shortage of flu vaccines put it to rest.

Actual Kerry: Now, if you had any doubts at all about anything that I've just said to you, anybody who's listening can go to johnkerry.com or you can go to other independent sources and you can track down the truth of what I've just said. But if you had any doubts about it at all, his response to the shortage of the flu vaccine ought to put them all to rest.

Kerry's Script: I believe we need a fresh start on health care in America. I believe we need a President who will fight for the great middle class and those struggling to join it. And with your help, I will be that kind of President.

Actual Kerry: I believe so deeply—and as I go around, Bob and Bill and I were talking about this coming over here from other places—that the hope that we're seeing in the eyes of our fellow Americans, folks like you who have come here today who know what's at stake in this race. This isn't about Democrat and Republican or ideology. This is about solving problems, real problems that make our country strong and help build community and take care of other human beings. I believe we need a fresh start on health care in America. I believe we need a President who's going to fight for the great middle class and those who really are struggling, even below minimum wage now. And they won't even raise it. With your help, ladies and gentlemen, I intend to be that kind of President who stands up and fights for the people who need the help.

Kerry's Script: Families will be able to choose from dozens of different private insurance plans.

Actual Kerry: Now George Bush is trying to scare America. And he's running around telling everybody—I saw this ad the other night. I said, "What is that about? That's not my plan. That may be some 20 years ago they pulled out of the old thing." But here's what they do, they are trying to tell you that there is some big government deal. Ladies and gentlemen, we choose. I happen to choose Blue Cross/Blue Shield. I could choose Kaiser. I could choose Pilgrim. I could choose Phelan. I could choose any number of different choices. That's what we get. And we look through all the different choices and make our choice. You ought to have that same choice. The government doesn't tell what you to do. The government doesn't run it. It gives you the choice.

Kerry's Script: Ladies and Gentlemen, here's the Bush Health Care Plan: Don't get a flu shot, don't import less-expensive drugs, don't negotiate for lower prices, and most of all, don't get sick.

Actual Kerry: So, Ladies and Gentlemen, if you had doubts about it at all, here's the Bush Health Care Plan: Don't get a flu shot, don't import less-expensive drugs from Canada, don't negotiate for lower prices on prescription drugs. And don't get sick. Just pray, stand up and hope, wait—whatever. We are all left wondering and hoping. That's it.


          The Post-Debate Debate   

ORLANDO—Sen. John Kerry, you just walloped President Bush in the first 2004 debate. What are you going to do now? Go to Disney World, apparently: The Kerry campaign and his traveling press spent Friday night at the Swan & Dolphin Hotel at Walt Disney World, possibly the only place more unreal than the presidential campaign bubble. There couldn't be a more appropriate place for Kerry to stay the night after the debate, because right now, Democrats think they're in the happiest place on earth.

As the press bus arrived at the Fort Lauderdale airport Friday morning, a reporter jokingly pronounced a crowd of Kerry supporters to be "30 percent more excited" than they would have been before Thursday's debate. But he underestimated the enthusiasm among Democrats for Kerry's performance. In 90 minutes, Kerry erased the nagging complaints within his party about the effectiveness of his campaign, and he crushed any incipient Dean nostalgia.

On the stump, Kerry has discovered a new applause line, simply uttering the word "debate." At the University of South Florida in Tampa on Friday, Kerry walked out to the loudest and longest ovation I've seen in more than a year on the campaign. Kerry's still a 40-minute rambler at his campaign events—he should consider traveling with a podium equipped with green, yellow, and red lights that tell him when to stop—but he didn't have to do anything more than ask the crowd, "So, did you watch that debate last night?" to get the rumbling foot-stomping and cheering started again. In Orlando later that night, Kerry uses his new line—"Did you watch that little debate last night?"—as his opener, and again its gets the crowd roaring.

Kerry has even taken to ridiculing the president for his underwhelming showing. On Friday night, he mockingly impersonated Bush as a stammering Porky Pig. (Not Elmer Fudd, as the New York Times claims. Get your cartoon references right, Gray Lady!) The next day, Kerry was at it again, poking fun of Bush's repetition of the phrase "hard work" at the debate: "He confuses staying in place, just kind of saying, 'It's tough, it's hard work, you gotta make a decision,' "—laughter—"he considers that, and confuses that, with leadership."

Those Democrats who aren't already buoyed by the debate will take heart in Saturday's Newsweek poll, which shows the race in a statistical tie: Kerry at 47 percent and Bush at 45 percent, with a 4-point margin of error. Kerry adviser Joel Johnson dismissed the poll's significance during a conference call with reporters, saying, "It's probably a poll that we took issue with in the past," such as when Newsweek showed the president leading by 11 points coming out of the Republican convention.

In the wake of all these good signs for Kerry, the Bush campaign is busy trying to Gore him, to kill the Democratic buzz by turning Kerry's debate victory into a defeat. A White House pool report Saturday from the Baltimore Sun's David Greene reported that Bush communications director Nicolle Devenish said, "Nobody is going to look back on November 3 and remember that first debate for anything other than a night when Kerry made four serious strategic mistakes." Here's how Greene summarized the mistakes: "1) Kerry spoke of a 'global test.' 2) Kerry called the war in Iraq a mistake then later said Americans were not dying for a mistake. 3) Kerry spoke of the troops deserving better after saying in an interview before the debate that his vote on funding was made in protest. 4) Kerry offered what Nicolle called a 'new insult' for allies when he said the coalition is not 'genuine.' "

Thursday night after the debate, the Bush surrogates emphasized Devenish's second point, to reinforce its caricature of the Democratic nominee as a habitual flip-flopper. By Friday and Saturday, however, the Bush campaign had seized upon Kerry's mention—a virtual aside—of a "global test" for pre-emptive war as their chance to reverse the perception that Kerry won the debate. (Based on Devenish's comments, they've also dropped their initial nobody-won spin in which they sounded like Kevin Kline in A Fish Called Wanda: "We didn't lose Vietnam! It was a tie!")

On Friday afternoon, the Bush campaign e-mailed excerpts of remarks the president made in Allentown, Pa., including this quote: "Senator Kerry last night said that America has to pass some sort of global test before we can use American troops to defend ourselves. He wants our national security decisions subject to the approval of a foreign government. Listen, I'll continue to work with our allies and the international community, but I will never submit America's national security to an international test. The use of troops to defend America must never be subject to a veto by countries like France." Scott McClellan piled on, as distilled by another White House pool report, saying that Kerry's comment "showed a fundamental misunderstanding of the war on terrorism," and that the remark "shows something that is very disturbing."

By Saturday, Bush himself had taken to calling the "global test" the "Kerry doctrine," which would "give foreign governments veto power over our own national security decisions." In the afternoon, the Kerry campaign dispatched Richard Holbrooke to rebut "Bush's misleading rhetoric on the stump" in a conference call. Nearly every question was about what Kerry meant during the debate by "global test," and about the Bush's campaign's rhetoric of a "global permission slip" and the "Kerry doctrine." Holbrooke read Kerry's debate statement in full: "No president, through all of American history, has ever ceded, and nor would I, the right to preempt in any way necessary to protect the United States of America. But if and when you do it, Jim, you have to do it in a way that passes the test, that passes the global test where your countrymen, your people understand fully why you're doing what you're doing and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons."

Holbrooke said the "Bush attack" was "another flagrant misrepresentation by the administration of what Sen. Kerry said," and added, "Who in their right mind would not wish to be sure that the use of force preemptively, or for that matter, any use of force, gets support and understanding from the rest of the world and from the American people and is fully justified?" He called it "longstanding American doctrine" and "a standard position, all presidents have taken it since at least 1945." Sounding irritated about the repeated mentions of the "Kerry doctrine" by reporters, Holbrooke said, "Don't call it a Kerry doctrine. That would suggest that John Kerry has enunciated something new, and he didn't."

An hour later, at 2:30 p.m., Kerry adviser Joel Johnson and Democratic National Committee adviser Howard Wolfson held a conference call to "discuss the results" of the presidential debate. The first question, from a Knight Ridder reporter, was about "this alleged Kerry doctrine." Would the campaign make any "paid media response"? No, Johnson said, we're going to focus on the economy in our TV ads, as planned. "We don't feel like this one is one we're going to have to respond in any way" in paid media.

The Republicans are "trying to take away the medal from the Olympic gymnast after the contest is over," Wolfson said. ABC's Dan Harris asked, "Aren't you opening yourself up to the charge that you've failed to learn the lessons of August?" referring to the Swift Boat ads and the Kerry campaign's belated response. "We're focusing on the failed economy," Johnson said. But you should know, "He'll never give a veto to any other country, period." Harris replied, "But boy, it really sounds like you're letting that charge hang out there." Johnson: "Well, we'll take that under advisement."

Shortly after that conference call ended, the Bush campaign e-mailed its script for a new TV ad, called—surprise—"Global Test." The ad says in part, "The Kerry doctrine: A global test. So we must seek permission from foreign governments before protecting America? A global test? So America will be forced to wait while threats gather? President Bush believes decisions about protecting America should be made in the Oval Office, not foreign capitals." Within a couple of hours, the Kerry campaign had changed its mind about whether to release its own ad. Their script begins, "George Bush lost the debate.  Now he's lying about it." The Kerry ad also tries to change the subject, to a New York Times story that comes out Sunday. That day's conference call is billed as, "What President Bush Really Knew About Iraq's WMD Programs Before the War."

During his conference call, Joel Johnson complained, "The Bush campaign is trying to concoct arguments that the president couldn't make the other night in the debate." That's exactly right. The mystery is why Johnson didn't think his campaign would have to do the same for Kerry.


          Faceoff over Goa government crackdown   
The diplomatic standoff between India and Nigeria over the Goa government's crackdown on Nigerian nationals is only escalating. After ... Faceoff over Goa government crackdown
TimesNow
          No, Really, It's About Vietnam   

TORONTO—At its simplest, George Butler's pro-Kerry documentary Going Upriver is a powerful rebuttal of the errors—factual and moral—made by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. But the movie also tries, with limited success, to do something more ambitious: to argue implicitly that the current war in Iraq is directly analogous to the war in Vietnam, and that John Kerry's actions of 30-odd years ago really are the most important issue facing Americans in this election. Kerry was right then, the movie implies, which makes him right now.

"You can't understand John unless you understand what Vietnam is to him," a voice—I think it's Max Cleland—declares during Going Upriver's opening moments. The answer to that mystery isn't entirely clear by the end of the film, but it's obvious what Vietnam symbolizes to George Butler: Iraq. Neil Sheehan, an author and historian (and former Vietnam correspondent) who gets a lot of screen time in the movie, is one of the first to make the implicit comparison between the mistakes of Vietnam and the mistakes in Iraq. "Everyone believed in the war at first," he says. Next, we see LBJ making the moral and humanitarian case for war, to "help the little nations" against the tyranny of larger aggressors. Butler doesn't connect the dots for the audience, but it's impossible to miss his drift.

In another scene, we see video of a dead Vietnamese man while listening to Kerry's words about how the orders he is following are supposedly for the benefit of dead men like this one. Sheehan, the historian, makes the obvious parallel: "They were coming as liberators," but the Vietnamese resisted, no matter the cost, no matter how long it took. A veteran debating John O'Neill on the Dick Cavett Show says that opposing your government isn't the same as opposing your country, and that the war in Vietnam has nothing to do with democracy or freedom. "We're destroying ourselves as a nation," he says, instead of being the country that others want to emulate. Sound familiar?

After Sheehan's "liberators" comment, the moment in the film with the most contemporary resonance is at the Winter Soldier hearings, when a soldier displays a photo of himself, grinning ear to ear, over a dead body. Other soldiers tell how they weren't given instructions in the Geneva Conventions or taught how to treat prisoners of war. One soldier says he was told to count POWs only after unloading them from a boat, never when boarding them, in case one or two didn't make it.

There are reminders, at times, of how different the two wars are: The casualties in Vietnam were much higher, 1,500 dead and 8,000 wounded in the Tet Offensive alone. And Max Cleland says he felt betrayed by the occupant in the Oval Office, something I doubt many troops feel today (though active-duty military support for Bush isn't as high as it has been in recent years for Republicans). "Here we are, mid-assault, and the commander-in-chief turns his back on us," Cleland says of LBJ's decision not to run for re-election.

But the film repeatedly emphasizes the youthful Kerry's statements about his lifetime opposition to war. We hear his letter to Julia Thorne after the death of his friend Dick Pershing, in which Kerry writes that if "I do nothing else in life," he will work to convince people that war (this war, or all war?) is a "wasteful expenditure." During the Vietnam Veterans Against the War march on Washington, Kerry declares that his protest is "not the struggle of one day" but of a lifetime, and that admitting a mistaken policy doesn't mean that America is a "craven, hollow place."

What lessons has Kerry learned, though? When will he explain them to us? It's become a cliché to wonder what happened to the youthful Kerry, to the eloquent young man who risked his political viability to oppose a war out of principle. Just because Kerry opposed Vietnam doesn't mean he has to oppose the war in Iraq, of course, but the largely antiwar crowd at the premiere was stoked by Going Upriver into believing that. During the Q&A after the movie, one man stood and asked, if Kerry he opposed the war in Vietnam out of patriotism and love of country, why doesn't he do the same today? Chris Gregory, a former Army medic and VVAW member who appears in the movie and attended the premiere, objected and said, "It's a little too broad a brush" to say that Vietnam and Iraq are one and the same. "John is very focused on winning this job," Gregory said. "He wants to be right. But he wants to win more than he wants to be right."


          Kerry's New Movie   

TORONTO—We're at the point in the campaign when we're supposed to wring our hands over the decline of politics, mourn the lack of coverage of "the issues," and decry the media's focus on personality and the horse race. But my guess is we're about to get mired in the muck of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth all over again. Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry, a new documentary by George Butler, hits theaters in the United States on Oct. 1. The film, which had its world premiere here Tuesday evening, is sure to land the Swifties in the news again. For one, the movie is based on Tour of Duty, the Douglas Brinkley hagiography that the Swift Boat vets say incited them to action in the first place.

More important, Going Upriver seems designed to rebut, one by one, the three campaign ads put out by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth: one questioning Kerry's heroism during the war, one criticizing his antiwar testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and one condemning his decision to throw his ribbons over a fence in front of the Capitol during an antiwar demonstration. Butler re-edited his film in response to the Swift Boat ads, and he said after the premiere that the movie wasn't finished until Tuesday morning. On the matter of Kerry's conduct during the war itself, Butler has Kerry's "band of brothers" describe his actions on "Silver Star day," and Jim Rassman tells the story of how Kerry saved his life and won the Bronze Star in the process. In addition, numerous speakers talk about how dangerous commanding a Swift Boat was, and how deadly.

On Kerry's Senate testimony, Butler shows the statements made by veterans at the "Winter Soldier" hearings in Detroit, where veterans confessed to committing atrocities during the war. Some of those claims have been disputed, but the Winter Soldier hearings were the basis for Kerry's statements about atrocities before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Butler shows veterans talking about shooting children and gang raping a woman in public. In the film, Kerry protests that he didn't personally see anyone chop off someone's head, but he believes that the U.S. government's policies in Vietnam—such as burning the homes of noncombatants, or creating "free-fire zones" in which all Vietnamese were deemed to be the enemy—were in violation of the laws of war.

As for Kerry's tossing of his ribbons, Butler spends a long section of the film showing veterans angrily and defiantly hurling their medals toward the Capitol. The sources interviewed for Going Upriver discuss how "painful" the protest was, how it was "terribly difficult," "extremely hard," etc. Perhaps to dismiss the charge that Kerry's protest was somehow phony because he tossed his ribbons instead of his medals, a speaker points out that some veterans threw their medals, others threw their ribbons, and others tossed their citations or even the boxes that their medals came in. Kerry was almost the last man to stand before the microphone during the protest, and according to Tom Oliphant, he "kind of lobbed" his contribution over the fence and walked away.

During this scene, Butler includes a photograph of Kerry shoving his ribbons through the fence that he left out of the film's companion book. The next shot is the one of a crumpled Kerry, being consoled by Julia Thorne. The demonstration was designed to illustrate that "the sacrifices that we went through were for nothing," says Bobby Muller, one of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. "That's the bitter pill, and I think that's the harder pill to take, frankly," than coming back and saying their service was necessary for the continuation of freedom and the American way. Throughout the film, Muller is Kerry's most effective advocate, the man who most persuasively argues that what Kerry did when he returned from the war was not just defensible but morally correct.

Swift Boat Vet obsessives will note that there's nothing about the (unfair) criticism of Kerry's Purple Hearts or the fact that Kerry was likely in Cambodia in January or February instead of the previous Christmas. More important than those details, however, are Butler's other omissions. For example, in Tour of Duty Brinkley quotes some of Kerry's crewmates talking about their initial anger at Kerry when they learned he was leading antiwar demonstrations. Though they later came to understand his decision—and believe that he was right—at first they felt betrayed. Butler, however, shows only David Alston, who says he was glad to see Kerry speak out. On the other hand, Going Upriver is honest about something the Kerry campaign isn't: The film bothers to point out that when Kerry volunteered for Swift boat duty, he wasn't asking for one of the war's most dangerous jobs. At the time, the boats were engaged in coastal patrols, checking the papers of commercial fisherman.

One more Swift Boat-related bit of news from the premiere: During the Q&A with Butler after the film was over, a member of the audience asked him why he didn't include anything about Christmas in Cambodia. Butler explained that it's very difficult to know whether Kerry was in Cambodia, then changed the subject to the lack of credibility of John O'Neill, the co-author of Unfit for Command. (O'Neill appears in Going Upriver when he is dredged up by Richard Nixon and Charles Colson to be a public-relations counterweight to Kerry and the VVAW.) O'Neill, Butler pointed out, denied ever being in Cambodia despite telling Nixon otherwise. But in the course of telling the story, Butler seemed to imply that he, or someone on his crew, leaked the tape of O'Neill's comment to the news media. "We found a Nixon White House tape," Butler began, before stopping himself. "Or, there is in existence a White House tape ..."


          Kerry Returns to Form   

DES MOINES—The most interesting thing to happen with the Kerry campaign Wednesday was an exchange between Stephanie Cutter, a Kerry spokeswoman, and CNN's Candy Crowley. Disgruntled reporters gathered around Cutter after Kerry's anticipated but disappointing speech in Cincinnati that criticized President Bush's handling of the war in Iraq. The speech had two memorable moments, both of which occurred before it really began: the announcement beforehand that Peter Frampton was on hand, and the shouts of a protester—"You said you committed atrocities. You said you burned villages"—who was silenced when the man standing next to him put him in a headlock. After the speech, Kerry spokesman David Wade said the protester was a man named Mike Russell, who Wade said was the Bush-Cheney chairman in Bracken County, Ky., during the 2000 election. "He is now, coincidentally, with the Swift Boat Veterans," Wade added.

Nothing Kerry said in Cincinnati could compensate for the blunder he made the day before when he stood before cameras on the tarmac of the Cincinnati airport and expressed his sorrow for the 1,000th American casualty in Iraq. "More than 1,000 of America's sons and daughters have now given their lives on behalf of their country, on behalf of freedom, in the war on terror," Kerry said. The war on terror? Oops. The mistake was part of the natural reversion to the mean of the Kerry candidacy. After the successful day and a half of campaigning that followed his conversation with President Clinton, the usual Kerry—the New Old Kerry—was back. Kerry took no questions after making his mystifying "war on terror" comment. Crowley called out, "Senator, you've been saying that it's 'wrong war, wrong place, wrong time.' What does that mean about these deaths?" but Kerry, in a typical maneuver, just walked away. It's been more than five weeks since Kerry last took questions at a press conference, or an "avail," as it's called.

So, Crowley asked Cutter if she could explain what Kerry meant. Short answer: No. Long answer: Cutter said Kerry was referring to something Donald Rumsfeld said Tuesday about the increase in terrorists in Iraq after the war. "There were not terrorists in Iraq before we went," Cutter explained (incorrectly), but there are now. Kerry was just "repeating what Rumsfeld said," Cutter continued. So, Crowley asked, Iraq is now part of the war on terror? "No. That's not what I'm saying," Cutter said. "Should he have clarified it, said it differently? Maybe. But the point remains the same. There was no terrorism before we went to war. There is now terrorism there." But Democratic orthodoxy is that the war on terror and the war in Iraq are distinct, Crowley said. Cutter replied, "And he agrees with that." Crowley: "Had he stayed for questions, we could have clarified that."

Kerry should have said, hey, I misspoke, I was trying to express my sympathy for all the Americans who have lost their lives in the broader war on terror, not just the 1,000-plus who have died in the war in Iraq. But instead the campaign has concocted this preposterously complicated explanation, saying yes he meant to say it, but no, he thinks Iraq is not part of the war on terror. What?

The other head-scratcher uttered by Kerry in the past two days came Wednesday in Greensboro, N.C. There, in response to a question from a woman about the health problems caused by mold and indoor air contamination—and her complaint, "There's not one agency in this government that has come forward" to deal with the problem—Kerry endorsed the creation of a new federal department. "What I want to do, what I'm determined to do, and it's in my health-care plan, is refocus America on something that can reduce the cost of health care significantly for all Americans, which is wellness and prevention," Kerry said. So far, so good. But then, "And I intend to have not just a Department of Health and Human Services, but a Department of Wellness." Again, what? Apparently this idea comes from Teresa Heinz Kerry, who told the Boston Herald in January 2003 that she would, in the Herald's words, "be an activist first lady, lobbying for a Department of Wellness that would stress preventive health." Oh, boy. Preventive health is a fine idea, but do we need a new agency—I assume it's not Cabinet-level—to handle it?

Kerry ended his day in Iowa, the state that launched him to the nomination of the Democratic Party. The traveling press headed to the Hotel Fort Des Moines to spend the night. At the hotel, I came across an inauspicious if ultimately meaningless piece of trivia on an information sheet given to hotel guests. Three presidential candidates, according to the hotel, celebrated their victories in the Iowa caucuses at the Hotel Fort Des Moines. Two of them, Walter Mondale in 1984 and Bob Dole in 1996, went on to win the nominations of their parties (the third was George Bush in 1980). In their general-election match-ups, Mondale won one state and the District of Columbia, while Dole won 41 percent of the popular vote. John Kerry? He too celebrated caucus night at the Hotel Fort Des Moines this January, but the hotel hasn't added him to its list yet. Maybe it's afraid of being a three-time loser.


          Kerry in Black and White   

CINCINNATI—John Kerry is so concerned about the plight of American manufacturers that he's taken to doing short advertisements during his campaign events. "Go to a Web site," Kerry exhorted his audience Tuesday in Greensboro, N.C. "It could be johnkerry.com, or go some other place. Go to truth.com, if there is one. And find out what's really happening." So I went to truth.com, and I found out what was happening: "Truth Hardware designs and manufactures a complete line of hinges, locks, operators, and even remote controlled power window systems used on wood, vinyl, metal and fiberglass windows, skylights, and patio doors."

I'm hesitant to criticize Kerry for his extemporizing, because his Kerrymeandering (a word invented by my colleague Will Saletan) makes the repetition of campaigning more endurable. More important, overdisciplined Robopols who never say anything interesting are one of the many reasons to hate politics. And this Kerrymeander was merely amusing, not harmful, though a good rule of 21st-century campaigning should be, don't refer to Web sites that you haven't visited. Kerry even had the good fortune to refer to the Web site of a company that manufactures its products in Owatonna, Minn.—a swing state!

But Monday's impromptu comments were more damaging. In addition to making a joke in West Virginia about taking a shotgun with him to the presidential debates, Kerry decided it would be a good idea in Pennsylvania to talk about how he has difficulty deciding what to eat at restaurants. "You know when they give you the menu, I'm always struggling, what do you want?" he said. A cook at a local restaurant, though, solves Kerry's dilemma by serving "whatever he's cooked up that day. I think that's the way it ought to work for confused people like me who can't make up our minds what we're going to eat." Kerry has yet to mourn the fact that fewer and fewer gynecologists are able to "practice their love" with American women, but his handlers have so much confidence in him that on Tuesday they banned the national press pool from observing his satellite interviews with local TV stations.

Still, even Kerry wasn't as off-message as one of the local politicians who introduced him at the Greensboro town hall. Sure, Republicans say Kerry is a flip-flopper, the politician said, but so-called "flip-flopping" is a sign of skepticism, of being open to learning new things. "We call it thinking," he said to huge applause from the crowd. The guy must not have gotten the memo: Kerry no longer wants to be the thoughtful candidate of nuance. Like President Bush, he's discovered the virtues of moral clarity.

Bush describes the world in terms of black and white, good vs. evil. Kerry now describes the world in terms of right vs. wrong. "As the president likes to say, there's nothing complicated about this," Kerry says every time he begins his new "W. stands for wrong" speech. Kerry no longer brags about being complicated, as he did in his acceptance speech at the Democratic convention. He's now as simple as Bush. As Kerry said in Greensboro, "John Edwards and I believe, deep to the core of our being, that there's an easy distinction between what's right and what's wrong."

You won't be shocked to learn which side of the line Kerry thinks Bush falls on. Bush on the war: wrong. Bush on government spending: wrong. Bush on Medicare: wrong. Bush on Social Security: wrong. Bush on outsourcing: wrong. Bush on the environment: wrong. (Kerry also referred to mankind's "spiritual, God-given responsibilities" to be stewards of the Earth.) And in Greensboro, Kerry added a new element to his "That's W., wrong choice, wrong direction," refrain. Each time, he concluded with, "And we want to make it right." Kerry did get a little overzealous about his new theme when he referred to the treasury secretary as "John W. Snow—John Snow, excuse me." After some laughter from the audience, Kerry added, "Well, he's wrong, too."

Kerry has also begun to criticize Bush for breaking promises, for not being as unwavering as he pretends to be. In West Virginia on Monday, Kerry said Bush promised in 2000 to spend more money on clean coal technology, but the money never came. In North Carolina on Tuesday, Kerry mentioned the administration's overconfident estimates of war on the cheap: "He promised that this war would cost $1 billion, and that oil from Iraq would pay for it."

The audience liked the new black-and-white, with-us-or-against-us Kerry. He was doing so well that during the question-and-answer session he felt liberated to engage in some more improvisation. A woman stood up and announced, "I'm so excited to see you. I think you're hot." Referring to his 27-year-old daughter, Vanessa, who was in the audience, Kerry said, "My daughter just buried her head. That is not the way she thinks about her father. But at my age, that sounds good." While he was talking, Vanessa Kerry looked down and stuck her fingers in her ears.


          Kerry's Deathbed Conversion   

CLEVELAND—Everything you need to know about Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential run—and therefore, everything a Democrat needs to know about taking the White House from an incumbent—is supposed to have been scrawled on a wipeboard in Little Rock 12 years ago by James Carville. "It's the economy, stupid," the phrase that has become holy writ, was only one-third of Carville's message. The other two tenets of the Clinton war room were "Change vs. more of the same" and "Don't forget health care." John Kerry has been running on two of those three planks, the economy and health care. But one day after talking with President Clinton on his deathbed—Kerry's, not Clinton's—the candidate has finally embraced the third: change.

Kerry offered a taste of his new message Monday morning at one of his "front porch" campaign stops in Canonsburg, Penn., but he waited until the afternoon in Racine, W.V., to unveil his new stump speech in full. The new message: Go vote for Bush if you want four more years of falling wages, of Social Security surpluses being transferred to wealthy Americans in the form of tax cuts, of underfunded schools and lost jobs. But if you want a new direction, he said, vote for Kerry and Edwards.

It's a simple and obvious message, but Kerry hasn't used it before. There were other new, even more Clintonesque wrinkles, too. Kerry talked about the same issues—jobs, health care, Social Security, education—that he's talked about in the past, but he had a new context for them: how Bush's policies were taking money out of taxpayers' pockets. The deficit, the Medicare prescription drug plan that forbids bulk-price negotiation and the importation of drugs from Canada, and the "$200 billion and counting" Iraq war all "cost you money," Kerry said, by increasing the cost of government. Kerry even pushed his health-care plan as a selfish device to put more money in voters' wallets (rather than an altruistic plan to cover the uninsured), in the form of lower health-insurance premiums ($1,000, he says). He also talked about a Clinton favorite, putting 100,000 new cops on the street during the 1990s, and he said he wanted to cut taxes for corporations by 5 percent to lower the cost of doing business in the United States. Talking about corporate tax cuts on Labor Day—if that's not a New Democrat, I don't know what is.

In West Virginia and later Cleveland, Kerry framed most of the new message around a mantra: "W stands for wrong. Wrong choices, wrong judgment, wrong priorities, wrong direction for our country." If you like those wrong choices, the lost jobs, "raiding Social Security," rising health-care costs, and "a go-it-alone foreign policy that abandons America," then vote for George W. Bush, Kerry said. If not, vote for me. The cost of the Iraq war is coming out of your pocket, he said, and it's taking away from money that could be used for homeland security. "That's W.; that's wrong," he said. With each issue Kerry raised—from Iraq to rising Medicare premiums to Social Security to jobs—he concluded his criticism of the president's policy by repeating, "That's W.; that's wrong."

It's not a perfect speech, nor is it delivered all that well. Kerry will never win an oratory contest with Bush, and he is fond of bizarre extemporizing. For example, he said, after being given a shotgun by a union leader to emphasize his support for hunting, "I'm thankful for the gift, but I can't take it to the debate with me." Still, even with Kerry's shaggy delivery, the speech—and more important, the message, if he sticks with it—should be good enough to get his campaign out of its latest sinkhole.

Sometimes, Kerry even improvises well. During the event in Canonsburg, Kerry was heckled by a small but noisy group of Bush supporters. But he managed to pull something out of Clinton's bag of tricks. When Kerry began talking about how the average family's tax burden has risen during the past four years, a man shouted, "Yeah, you're average, Kerry!" In response, Kerry adopted the tactic that Clinton used at the Democratic Convention in Boston: He embraced his affluence. "Just to answer that guy, 'cause he's right," Kerry said. "I'm privileged," just like President Bush. As a result, "My tax burden went down," Kerry said. "And I don't think that's right. I think your tax burden ought to go down."

Before today, Kerry's public image was starting to resemble that of a different Democratic candidate of recent vintage: the Republican caricature of Al Gore, a self-promoting braggart with a weakness for resume-inflating exaggerations. When Kerry was so angered by a Washington Post headline last week that he decided to speak directly after Bush's acceptance speech at the Republican Convention, he appeared to be imitating Gore's unfortunate tendency to let his campaign strategy be driven by the whims of the political media. Some Democrats feared that, by shaking up his campaign over the weekend and bringing in John Sasso and Michael Whouley, Kerry was overreacting in Gore-like fashion to some bad August press. On Monday, anyway, those fears seem overstated. The revamped Kerry campaign looks more like the Democrat who beat a president named Bush than the Democrat who lost to one.


          Playing to Strength   

NEW YORK—Inside Madison Square Garden, Tuesday's schedule promised another day of moderation, with Laura Bush and Arnold Schwarzenegger following Monday's tag-team of John McCain and Rudy Giuliani. But outside the hall, among the protesters, Tuesday is the day marked off for the hard-core left, for the anarchists and communists and the man at Union Square who is calling for American soldiers to rise up in mutiny and frag their commanding officers. Except at this convention, even the anarchists are moderates.

At Union Square, where Tuesday's "day of action" begins at 4 p.m., a small crowd gathers to block off the entrance to the park in defiance of police orders. "Ladies and gentlemen, you have to remove yourselves from the entrance," says a cop in front of a phalanx of shield-bearing officers. The crowd, which had been chanting, "Go arrest Bush! Go arrest Bush!" decides to adjust its message. The new chant: "The police deserve a raise! The police deserve a raise!" Who says anarchists aren't politically savvy? When trying to win over an audience, abandon the red-meat rhetoric and instead reach out to independent swing cops.

The protesters and convention speakers have a lot in common, in fact, including a preference for empty slogans and false choices. But more important, they both believe that showing resolve is the most important political act. The protesters believe that if enough of them are willing to lie down in the streets and get arrested—and if they do it over and over and over again—the American people will be persuaded to consider their point of view. The convention speakers agree that doing something over and over and over again, being unwavering and unchangeable, is the best way to pull Americans to your side.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Tuesday speaker with the most, er, movie-star appeal, says that "perseverance" is the quality he admires most about President Bush: "He's a man of inner strength. He is a leader who doesn't flinch, doesn't waver, and does not back down." Sure, the president led the country into an unpopular war, Schwarzenegger says, but that's a good thing! "The president didn't go into Iraq because the polls told him it was popular. In fact, the polls said just the opposite. But leadership isn't about polls. It's about making decisions you think are right and then standing behind those decisions." Schwarzenegger echoes what Monday night's final speaker, Rudy Giuliani, said: "There are many qualities that make a great leader but having strong beliefs, being able to stick with them through popular and unpopular times, is the most important characteristic of a great leader."

Now, that can't possibly be right. Surely Giuliani and Schwarzenegger believe that having the correct beliefs is more important than sticking by your beliefs, no matter how wrong you are. Sticking by your beliefs is probably the most overrated leadership trait. All great politicians are flip-floppers, including President Bush.

The biggest fib the president says on the stump is, "When I say something, I mean it." Did he mean it when he said that no matter what the whip count, he would ask for a second vote at the Security Council before going to war with Iraq? Did he mean it when he was against a Department of Homeland Security? Did he mean it when he opposed the creation of a 9/11 commission? Did he mean it when he opposed McCain-Feingold? Did he mean it when he said troops shouldn't be used for nation-building? Did he mean it when he said he planned to use his presidency to strengthen international alliances? Does he mean it when he says, "It's the people's money, not the government's money"? If so, then why does he spend so much of it?

Up to now, the Kerry campaign has elected not to use this inconsistent record to undermine the Republican claim that President Bush is a man of great resolve. Instead, they've decided to buttress the idea. The president is stubborn, unyielding, Kerry says. He's not flexible enough.

Kerry's approach plays into liberals' fantasies about themselves. Liberals think they're smarter, more thoughtful, more nuanced than conservatives. They think they're more aware of the complexities and ambiguities in life. They're not inconsistent; they're Emersonian. Kerry tried to take advantage of this at the Democratic Convention when he said that he understands that some things are complicated. Bush's response has been to say, as he does often, "There is nothing complicated about supporting our troops."

Howard Dean got it right when he said that people don't like President Bush because they agree with his policies. They like him because they think he's a strong leader. Unless Democrats can undermine that belief, they don't have a chance of regaining the presidency. The Kerry campaign may finally be learning this. When Bush said that he now believes the nation actually can win the war on terror (despite saying otherwise previously), the Kerry campaign e-mailed a press release with the headline, "Bush: Against Winning the War on Terror Before He Was for It." Maybe they've learned that Kerry can't blunt Bush's strength on national security without making at least some people think the president is a flip-flopping "politician." You don't beat your opponent by listening to his message, nodding, and saying, I agree.


          Their Kind of Town   

NEW YORK—Zell Miller will be the most notable apostate at the Republican National Convention, but Ed Koch gets to be the first. At the first GOP convention ever held in New York City, the first speaker after the opening remarks by Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie and RNC Co-Chair Ann Wagner is the former mayor, a Democrat. "Why am I here?" the jovial Koch asks the smattering of assembled delegates at the sparsely attended Monday morning session. "I'm here to convert you. But that's for the next election. This year, I'm voting for the re-election of President George W. Bush." The small crowd gives Koch a huge cheer.

Koch is followed by another New York mayor, the current one. At the first GOP convention ever held in New York City, Republican Michael Bloomberg declares, "Welcome to America's New York." It's a strange choice of words, one that makes it sound as if the Republican delegates suspect they somehow landed in Russia's New York. (Perhaps that was the New York that Koch presided over.) But Bloomberg's choice of words is telling. The picture of New York painted during the convention's morning session is a city in tune with the rest of the country, the South, Middle, and West that most Republicans hail from. Maybe Bloomberg should have said, "Welcome to Red America's New York."

After Bloomberg speaks, a video produced by the History Channel tells the political history of the capital of Blue America, but it's really the history of the Republican Party in New York. We hear about the birth of Teddy Roosevelt, for example, but not, say, the Stonewall riots. (The video also contains the first bit of disinformation at the convention: It calls TR "our second-youngest president" when in fact he was the youngest president, taking office as a 42-year-old after the assassination of President McKinley. JFK, at 43, was the youngest man elected to the presidency.) "America's New York" is where the Bill of Rights was written, not where the gay rights movement began. It's where Abraham Lincoln, the most beloved Republican, denounced the spread of slavery at Cooper Union. It's also home to the machinery of global capitalism: the New York Stock Exchange and the headquarters of more major corporations than any other city.

Long before we get to Rudy Giuliani, New York Mayor No. 3 of the day, the message of Day 1 couldn't be clearer: Don't worry, nervous visitors. Despite what you may have heard from your friends (or seen from the protestors), this is your town!

But the Big Apple love-in doesn't last all that long. No one denounces the city, of course, but the disconnect between the majority of New Yorkers and the majority of Republicans comes across during the succession of speeches by GOP congressional candidates. In the most Jewish city in America, Mississippi congressional candidate Clinton LeSueur strays from President Bush's carefully inclusive religious rhetoric. Instead of making the nonsectarian statement in his prepared text—"The very foundation of this country is faith"—LeSueur says, "The very foundation of this country is Christianity and faith in Jesus Christ."

Ted Poe, a congressional candidate from Texas, goes even further. He compares Upper West Side liberals, at least implicitly, to the nation's enemies in the war on terror. The country is currently fighting for freedom abroad in Iraq, Poe says. But it's also fighting for "basic American principles" at home. "This threat is real," he continues. Don't "complain and criticize as the French did in the war in Iraq." No, this dangerous "threat" must be stopped with a fierce barrage of smaller government and lower taxes. "Sitting on the sidelines is not an option," says Poe, sticking with his hilariously inappropriate analogy. "Now is not the time to be a French Republican" (or, as the official transcript of his piece has it, an all-caps "FRENCH REPUBLICAN").

Who screened Poe's speech? Sure, it's not prime time, but certainly someone pointed out (or someone should have pointed out) that it wasn't a good idea to compare Democrats, by far the majority in New York, to Baathists.

Maybe Poe was more shocked by the scale of the anti-Bush protests in the streets than he should have been. He expected the Republicans to be greeted in Manhattan as liberators.


          John Edwards' To-Do List   

OKLAHOMA CITY—Does John Edwards talk about stuff besides the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads? As he says to the people who ask him a question at his town-hall meetings, "The answer is yes." But once you've been following a candidate for a few days, his stump speech starts to get a little tedious. OK, more than a little tedious. The press corps (and the campaign staff and the Secret Service) entertains itself by playing "Wheel-o," a betting game where we guess which of the 16 numbers scrawled in chalk on the back wheel of the plane will rest on the ground after landing. Or we roll Jack Edwards' toy ball up the aisle of the plane during takeoff and cheer if it gets into the front cabin. Or we take pictures of ourselves in front of the "world's largest six-pack," six brewing tanks painted like beer cans in front of the brewery in La Crosse, Wis. Or we dream of driving to Juarez, Mexico, during tonight's stay in Las Cruces, N.M.

Reporters listen when the candidate speaks, but we don't hear him. My ears perk up only when Edwards says something new or different, and after a while, I start to hear nuances that aren't there. On Monday in La Crosse, Edwards dropped his exaggerated claim that Kerry volunteered for dangerous combat duty in Vietnam. Aha! I thought. The campaign is finally abandoning its mild, needless puffery about Kerry's war record to head off nitpicking from the Swift Boat Veterans and others. Well, nope, actually. The next day Edwards made the claim again.

So, instead of reporting on whatever contrived bit of newness I heard in Edwards' speech today, here's a list of the things he's said over and over again during the past two and a half days. I've stripped out the bromides—"hope over despair, possibilities over problems, optimism over cynicism"—and focused solely on policy proposals. These aren't all the promises or proposals Edwards has made this week, just the ones he makes most often. For best results, crank up Tina Turner's "Simply the Best," Van Hagar's "Right Now," or anything by Bruce Springsteen or John Cougar Mellencamp while reading:

  • raise the minimum wage;
  • spend more money on: early education, public schools, child care, afterschool programs, and salaries for teachers in the communities where they're needed;
  • raise taxes on: companies that take jobs overseas; individuals who make more than $200,000 a year;
  • reduce taxes for: small businesses that create jobs in communities with high unemployment; individuals through a $1,000 tax credit for health care and a $4,000 tax credit for college tuition (in addition to promising four years of tuition to individuals who perform two years of public service);
  • improve health care by: making the congressional health-care plan available for purchase by all Americans; covering all children; allowing prescription drugs to be imported from Canada; and allowing the government to use its bulk-purchasing power to negotiate lower drug prices from pharmaceutical companies;
  • reform labor laws by: swiftly and severely punishing employers that violate labor laws; banning the hiring of permanent replacements for strikers; "make card-check neutrality the law of the land";
  • fight the war on terror by: strengthening alliances to help "get terrorists before they get us";
  • improve the situation in Iraq by: improving our relations with allies so that NATO will agree to get involved; keeping Iran and Syria from interfering; and getting "others involved in reconstruction besides Halliburton."

Though the real message is the one-point plan of getting a new president.

Refer to this list often. Read it three or four times each day while grooving to Van Halen. Pretty soon, when John Edwards asks, "Are we going to have a president and a vice president who actually understands what's going on in your lives? Who presents an optimistic, positive, hopeful, uplifting vision of America? Or are we going to have a campaign based on fear and lies?" you'll be praying for more fear and lies, too.


          The Right Rev. George W. Bush   

COLUMBUS, Ohio—"I feel like a talk-show host," President Bush says midway through Thursday's first campaign event. He's standing next to a stool and a lectern, and he paces in circles to address the audience seated on all sides around him. Even from a distance, I can see why Bush charmed the press corps during his 2000 campaign. He's likable, winning, and self-deprecating. He's also quick on his feet, not with an instant recall of statistics but with snappy retorts that break up the room. This event was billed as an "Ask President Bush" forum, and although there didn't turn out to be much time for questions, from the outset the intimate setting made it more interactive than a typical presidential visit.

The president didn't get it quite right when he called himself a talk-show host. He opens more in the vein of a revival-tent preacher, albeit a subdued one, and he concludes as a standup comic. "I think you have to ask for the vote," Bush says near the beginning, as he always does. "You got it!" yells someone, the first of many call-and-response moments. Then Bush segues into something that sounds more like a sermon than a stump speech.

"All of you are soldiers in the army of compassion," the clergyman-in-chief tells the crowd. "And one of the reasons I'm seeking the office for four more years is to call upon our citizens to love your neighbor just like you'd like to be loved yourself." After his usual endorsement of the Golden Rule, Bush speaks of souls, which also isn't unusual for him: "We can change America one soul at a time by encouraging people to spread something government cannot spread, which is love."

Bush goes on to talk about his desire to have the government fund more faith-based initiatives. "If you're an addict, if you're hooked on drugs or alcohol, sometimes government counseling can work. But sometimes it requires a change of heart in order to change habit," he says. "There are people who are empowered to change hearts in our society. Not by government, by a higher calling, and therefore government ought to welcome these words of compassion and healing."

Bush isn't a fire-and-brimstone preacher, talking about sinners in the hands of an angry God. He's a hippie priest, emphasizing the Christian message of brotherly love. I can almost hear the guitars and tambourines. He says, "I know we can change America for the better by calling on those who are change agents, those who are willing to put our arm around someone who needs love and say, 'I love you, brother. I love you, sister. What can I do to help you have a better life here in America?'"

From there, Bush becomes a teacher, imparting "the lessons of September the 11th, 2001." "We'll never forget!" a man seated among the firefighters calls out. Bush's Lesson 1: "We're facing an enemy which has no heart, no compassion. And that puts them at an advantage in a way, because we're a country of heart and compassion." Lesson 2: "In order to defend the homeland, we got to be on the offense. We must deal with those people overseas, so we don't have to face them here at home." Lesson 3: "In order to be able to defend ourselves, we've got to say to people who are willing to harbor a terrorist or feed a terrorist, you're just as guilty as the terrorists." Lesson 4: "When we see threats, we must deal with them before they fully materialize." Lesson 5 is a corollary of Lesson 4: "We saw a threat in Iraq."

Even while Bush is in his teaching mode, the whole event has a Sunday-morning air. Bush says of Saddam, "He had used weapons of mass destruction. Remember that? He had used them on his own people." The crowd murmurs back, "That's right, that's right." When Bush mentions that John Kerry and John Edwards were two of only 12 senators—whom Wednesday he called "a small, out-of-the-mainstream minority"—to vote against the $87 billion for the war in Iraq, someone else yells out, "Shame on them!"

Bush almost gets weepy later, when he tells a story "that touched my heart," about seven Iraqi men who visited him in the Oval Office. The men's right hands were chopped off by order of Saddam Hussein, and they had X's burned into their foreheads. An American organization provided them with prostheses. "A guy took my Sharpie, wrapped his new fingers and wrote, 'God bless America,' in Arabic," Bush says, his voice choking up. "What a contrast," he says. In America, "We want to heal you, no matter who you are," his voice catching again.

So, are we going to abandon Iraq? Bush asks the crowd. "Are we going to be a country of our word?" he asks. "Or are we going to go timid and weary and afraid of the barbaric behavior of a few?" The crowd shouts back: "No!"

As the event winds down, Bush gets looser and funnier. He points to a member of the crowd, one of the hand-picked Ohioans intended to represent a particular Bush policy, and says that she can explain it better than he can. Then he turns to another audience member and says, "You didn't have to agree with her." When another of the Representative Americans tells Bush that she recently received her associate's degree, magna cum laude, Bush replies, "That's better than I did, I want you to know."

Bush says a CEO in the audience has an interesting idea to share. The man doesn't say anything. "Flex time," Bush says. "I'm glad you told me what my interesting idea was," the CEO says appreciatively. Bush replies, "I'm not a lawyer, but it looks like I'm leading the witness." "I appreciate that," the CEO says, and Bush shoots back, "You appreciate the fact that I'm not a lawyer?"

After last week's Democratic convention, I felt that John Kerry had become the favorite in the presidential race. Now, after only two days with President Bush, I'm not so sure. He's that good. Unlike many people, I'm not threatened by the president's religious rhetoric. It must be the Midwestern Catholic in me. Like the people in the audience, I find it familiar and comforting. I can see why so many people believe the president is "one of us," no matter how rich or how elite his background. And I can see that Kerry will have a tough time besting Bush in all three debates.

Still, not everything goes perfectly. When Bush gets ready to leave, he announces, "I'm off to Saginaw, Michigan," forgetting what must be a central tenet of Buckeye State politics: Never mention the state that is Ohio State's biggest rival, especially in Columbus, home to the university. For the first time all day, two men near me boo.


          Looking Backward   

MANKATO, Minn.—After watching President Bush speak for only a couple of hours on the 2004 stump, it's easy to see the main tenets of his re-election campaign: My opponent is un-American, or at least less American than me and you. My opponent, much like Al Gore, doesn't know who he is. My opponent is a tax-hiking, big-government liberal. Worse, he wants to ask other countries for permission for America to defend itself against its enemies. Last, and most important, my wife is better than his wife.

What you don't hear from President Bush's stump speech, or from his surrogates, is what he plans to do were he given another four years as president. The problem is particularly glaring on matters of foreign policy. There are glimmers of a domestic agenda in the president's two campaign events Wednesday: He wants to reform America's high schools, increase math and science education, and increase the use of the Internet in schools. He wants more ethanol subsidies. He wants to make health care more available and affordable. He wants less regulation. He likes community colleges. He wants workers to be able to acquire flex time and comp time in lieu of overtime pay.

Bush also gives his audiences a rehash of the greatest hits from his 2000 campaign mantras. He likes tort reform and dislikes "frivolous lawsuits." (A favorite line of Bush crowds: "You cannot be pro-patient and pro-doctor and pro-trial lawyer at the same time. You have to choose. My opponent made his choice, and he put him on the ticket.") He wants private Social Security accounts for younger workers. He likes marriage and the family, which always gets him a big cheer, because what it really means is he's against gay marriage. He's for a "culture of life," "judges who faithfully interpret the law instead of legislating from the bench," and a "culture of responsibility." Not to mention the responsibility society and the ownership society. He's still against the soft bigotry of low expectations. And of course, he wants everyone to love their neighbor just like you'd like to be loved yourself.

Bush doesn't talk much about the future. He talks about the past. The biggest portions of Bush's speech are spent mounting a vigorous defense of his presidency. When Bush's campaign foundered in New Hampshire four years ago, he retooled his strategy in response to John McCain and began billing himself as a "reformer with results." He's not using that slogan yet, but the rhetoric is similar. "It's not enough to advocate reform," he says. "You have to be able to get it done." The closing section of his speech ends with the mantra, "Results matter." On education, health care, the economy, farms, and security, Bush concludes by saying, "Results matter." Of his Medicare prescription drug benefit, Bush says, "Leaders in both political parties had promised prescription drug coverage for years. We got the job done."

Bush spends the longest amount of time defending his policies after Sept. 11. He takes credit for the creation of the Homeland Security Department (one of those things that Bush voted against before he voted for it), and he takes pride in the Patriot Act. Afghanistan has gone from being the "home base of al-Qaida" to being a "rising democracy." Pakistan, once a "safe transit point for terrorists," is now an ally. Saudi Arabia, he says, "is taking the fight to al-Qaida." Libya has given up its quest for weapons of mass destruction.

Most of all, Bush defends the war in Iraq. He repeats the litany of reasons for going to war: Saddam was defying the will of the United Nations, he harbored terrorists, he funded suicide bombers, he used weapons of mass destruction against his own people. "In other words, we saw a threat," Bush says. "Members of the United States Congress from both political parties, including my opponent, looked at the intelligence and came to the same conclusion."

What Bush doesn't acknowledge is what went wrong: The WMD were never found. We weren't welcomed as liberators. Oil revenues haven't paid for the war. It wasn't a cakewalk. What went wrong? Why? Given four more years, what does Bush plan to do about it? He hasn't told us yet, other than suggesting "more of the same."

"Every incumbent who asks for your vote has got to answer one central question, and that's 'Why?'" Bush says. "Why should the American people give me the high privilege of serving as your president for four more years?" The answer Bush gives to that question is his record. He says he deserves re-election because of what he has already done. At Wednesday's first event, in Davenport, Iowa, U.S. Rep. Jim Nussle embodies this attitude when he introduces Bush to the crowd. "There is no one I would have wanted to be at the helm of this country these last four years than you," Nussle says.

Bush and Nussle are asking the wrong question. The real question an incumbent faces is, what now? What's next? So far, Bush isn't telling. A president's record matters, but the reason it matters is because it has predictive value. Bush's defenders say he is a transformational figure, that he's willing to take on big problems and challenges. Wouldn't you like to know what Bush believes those big problems and challenges would be in foreign policy over the next four years? Are there gathering threats that, like Iraq, he thinks need to be tackled "before they materialize"? The president says that is the lesson of Sept. 11, that the nation must confront its security problems pre-emptively. Where else does he plan to apply that lesson? Does he plan to tell us?

After the 2002 midterm elections, when Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill objected to another round of tax cuts for the rich, Vice President Cheney told O'Neill to discard his worries. We won the midterm elections, Cheney said. "This is our due." As much as liberals dislike President Bush's record over the past four years, it's the prospect of another four years that terrifies them. What they want to know—what keeps them awake at night—is what President Bush hasn't answered yet: What are you going to do next? This time, what will be your due?


          Trading Places   

LOS ANGELES—John Kerry did something I thought was impossible tonight. He turned himself into John Edwards. This may be the secret of Kerry's success in the Democratic primaries: What Bill Clinton did to infuriate the Republican Congress during his presidency, Kerry does to his fellow candidates. He co-opts their issues, their message, even their language. When Howard Dean was the obstacle in Kerry's path, the Massachusetts senator talked about throwing the special interests out of Washington and putting the people back in charge. Now that Edwards is the lone serious contender, Kerry pitches himself as the positive, optimistic candidate with "real solutions."

"I've offered a positive vision of what we ought to be doing in America," Kerry declared in the opening moments of Thursday's debate. "Once we have a nominee, this country will have an opportunity to hear a positive vision of how we can offer hope to Americans, optimism about the possibilities of the future, not divide America but bring it together to find real solutions. And that's what I'm offering: real solutions." Edwards must have felt like a sitcom character, the candidate for student council president watching his classmate deliver a stolen version of his speech. The "Real Solutions Express" is the name of Edwards' campaign bus. "Real Solutions for America" is the name of Edwards' 60-page policy booklet. It's also the phrase plastered across the top of Edwards' campaign Web site.

But unlike the sitcom character, who takes the podium and falls flat on his face, Edwards dominated the early portion of the debate. He throttled Kerry—with an assist from an aggressive Ron Brownstein—after Kerry couldn't explain why he thought the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional in 1996 but that a constitutional amendment isn't needed now to ensure that states are not forced to recognize gay marriages from other states. After Kerry's long-winded and unsatisfactory answer to whether he would vote for the Defense of Marriage Act today, Edwards jabbed, "I'm not sure what he said about that. But I would not vote for it." Then Edwards deftly moved to Kerry's left on the issue, saying he believes the federal government ought to be required to recognize gay marriages if they are recognized by a state. Edwards also looked strong when he confronted Al Sharpton to defend his support of the death penalty.

Despite the inclusion of Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich, they weren't much of a factor. They sat on the far end of the table away from the TV camera, and they were confined mostly to interjecting asides to the main debate between Kerry and Edwards. They seemed like the political debate version of the two grumpy old men who issue catcalls from the balcony during The Muppet Show.

But despite Edwards' strong start, by the end of the debate a second impossible transformation had occurred. John Edwards turned into John Kerry. Kerry answered a difficult question from Larry King about his opposition to the death penalty—"A person who kills a 5-year-old should live?"—clearly and directly. "Larry, my instinct is to want to strangle that person with my own hands," he said. But the system is flawed, it's applied unjustly, and as a matter of principle, "the state should not engage in killing." That's the best answer you can give to that unpopular position. Edwards, by contrast, sounded like the Kerry of old when he tried to explain why he supports a system that King said "nearly executed over 100 people who didn't do it." He talked about how "serious" the issue was, and how "serious steps" need to be taken, such as "making the court system work." Finally, King bailed him out: But why do you favor capital punishment? Oh yeah, Edwards seemed to think, that's what I should be talking about, and he brought up some liberal red meat: "Those men who dragged James Byrd behind that truck in Texas, they deserve the death penalty."

On another occasion, Brownstein had to repeatedly query Edwards to get him to explain whether there were any substantive differences between him and Kerry on the issue of reforming the way Washington works. "Do you view Sen. Kerry as part of the solution or part of the problem?" Brownstein asked. Edwards dodged the question. "Is there a difference in your commitment to this cause and what you see from Sen. Kerry?" Brownstein tried again. "Yes," Edwards said, because I'm an outsider. But that's not substantive, Brownstein objected. "He is saying many of the same things. Are you saying that he is less committed?" Edwards demurred.

Then Kerry swooped in to damn Edwards with praise. "I don't think there fundamentally is a difference," he said. "I mean, John has raised almost 50 percent of his money from one group of people in the United States"—"Is that the trial lawyers?" King interrupted—"That's correct. And I don't ever suggest that he is beholden to them," Kerry continued magnanimously. "Because I know he stood up on the patients' bill of rights."

The real Kerry returned a few moments later, with a preposterously unclear statement on his first executive order: "Reverse the Mexico City policy on the gag rule so that we take a responsible position globally on family planning." But then Edwards picked up the Kerry torch when Los Angeles Times editorial page editor Janet Clayton asked him how he can criticize the president for a war that he voted for. Edwards tried to appear thoughtful and serious, saying he gave "an awful lot of thought and study to it." Not only that, "I was worried about it. All of us were. I took this responsibility seriously." But why did you vote for it? "What we did is we voted on a resolution," Edwards stammered. And Bush didn't conduct the war properly. "So are you saying you were suckered?" Clayton asked.

King asked Edwards if he regrets his vote for the war. "I did what I believed was right at the time," Edwards said. "Do you regret it?" King asked again. "I did what I believed was right at the time," Edwards repeated. "Do you regret it?" King asked again, this time to laughter. "We don't get to go back, Larry," Edwards insisted. "Well, you can regret something," King said.

Kerry pounced on his chance to play Edwards to Edwards' Kerry. "Let me return a favor from the last debate to John," he said. "You asked a yes-or-no answer: 'Do you regret your vote?' The answer is: No. I do not regret my vote. I regret that we have a president of the United States who misled America and broke every promise he made the United States Congress." Substantively, this is the same answer Edwards gave, but it was clear instead of evasive and concise instead of tortuous.

It couldn't have been clearer: Edwards had become Kerry and Kerry had become Edwards. Kerry's critics will likely see this as more evidence of flip-flopping opportunism. Kerry will likely see it as victory.


          That '70s Campaign   

NASHVILLE—The Democratic Party's estimates of its chances of defeating President Bush in November have rebounded in concert with John Kerry's campaign. A little more than a month ago, most Democrats were overly pessimistic about the 2004 election. Now they're overly optimistic. Sunday afternoon, during a press conference prior to a Democratic Party rally at the downtown Hilton here, U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., declared not only that "Bush 43 looks very beatable at this point," but also that 2004 could be a congressional "tidal wave year" for the Democrats, akin to 1994 for the Republicans.

And if 2004 isn't a Democratic 1994, maybe it's 1976. That was former Vice President Al Gore's message to the Tennessee Democrats Sunday night. In an angry, sweaty shout, sounding like the second coming of Huey Long, Gore drew an extended comparison between the post-Watergate election of 1976, the year of his first election to Congress, and the post-Iraq election of 2004. John Kerry's two main rivals in Tennessee, Wesley Clark and John Edwards, spoke to the party, too, but Gore was clearly the main event. And if he wasn't before he spoke, he was by the time he was finished.

"You know, there was a mood in '76, a spirit of unity, a feeling of determination that we were going to win that race that year," said Gore, clearly linking that feeling to the resolve of 2004 Democrats to win back the presidency. Gore, however, wasn't referring only to the feelings of national Democrats in 1976. He was referring to the feelings of Tennessee Democrats, who were bitter over a Senate race that had been lost six years earlier.

Gore's father, Albert Gore Sr., was defeated in his 1970 campaign for re-election to the U.S. Senate. Gore made a number of comparisons between 1970 and 1976 in Tennessee and 2000, 2002, and 2004 in America. "President George W. Bush reminds me more of former President Richard Nixon than any of his other predecessors," he said, implying, it seemed, that Nixon smeared his father in the midterm elections of 1970 just as President Bush smeared Georgia Senator Max Cleland in 2002. "They tried to make out like my dad was an atheist because he didn't want a constitutional amendment putting the government in charge of telling children how they ought to worship God in the public schools," Gore said. "They came out with accusations that he was unpatriotic because he was opposed to the Vietnam War and the mistaken policy that got us into that war." Gore recalled his father's concession speech on Election Night: "He took the old Confederate slogan about 'The South shall rise again,' and he stood it on its head. And he proudly proclaimed, 'The truth shall rise again!'"

Gore was also drawing an analogy between his father and himself. He was expressing the hope that just as his father's loss was redeemed by the election of a Democrat, Jim Sasser, to his U.S. Senate seat six years later, so too could Gore be redeemed after his loss to George W. Bush, if the Democrats reclaim the White House in 2004. As Gore stood on stage before his remarks, I wondered, what must it be like to be Samuel Tilden? What's it like to be haunted by the fact that you're a historical footnote? Gore's speech provided some answers.

"We have seen an administration which in my view more closely resembles the Nixon-Agnew administration than any other previous administration," he said. "There's a reason I say that. I don't offer that as simply a casual slur." The crowd laughed. "I'm not above a casual slur," Gore added, in a "mind you" tone, to more laughter. "But I'm biased, I didn't vote for the guy." A man calls out, "Neither did America!" To which Gore responds, "Well, there is that."

He continued: "But here's the reason I say that President George W. Bush reminds me more of former President Richard Nixon than any of his other predecessors. Nixon was no more committed to principle than the man in the moon. He, as a conservative Republican, imposed wage and price controls. Hard to believe in this day and time. But he did. And he cared as little about what it meant to be really conservative as George W. Bush has cared in imposing $550 billion budget deficits and trillions in additions to the national debt. That has nothing to do with conservatism and everything to do with his effort to get re-elected!"

Gore then explained how he planned to travel to Iowa in September 2001 to deliver "a real ripsnorter of a speech" that would have harshly critiqued President Bush's first nine months in office and broken Gore's political silence. He abandoned his plan after the Sept. 11 attacks, he said, and instead swallowed his pride and told the Iowa Democrats of the man he clearly feels stole the presidency from him, "George W. Bush is my commander-in-chief."

"I think there were millions just like me, who genuinely, in spite of whatever partisanship they may have felt prior to that time, genuinely felt like they wanted George W. Bush to lead all of us in America wisely and well," he shouted.

"And the reason I'm recalling those feelings now is because those are the feelings that were betrayed by this president! He betrayed this country! He played on our fears! He took America, he took America on an ill-conceived foreign adventure dangerous to our troops, an adventure that was preordained and planned before 9/11 ever took place!" Gore closed with his father's line from 1970: "And so I say to you in closing my friends, in the year of 2004, the truth shall rise again!"

The crowded erupted in a frenzy that recalled a Howard Dean audience circa August 2003. Which, if you think about it, is pretty much where Gore still is. Many Democrats took the 2000 election personally, and they saw the Dean campaign as the outlet for their anger and frustration. But no Democrat could have taken it more personally than Al Gore. To those who speculate that Gore's endorsement of Dean was a crude and ill-timed political calculation, this speech was a repudiation.

Not only does he believe that he should rightfully be president, he also thinks he performed his patriotic duty in the aftermath of 9/11, and Bush screwed him for it. To Gore, it seems that beating Bush wouldn't suffice. He wants to convince the world that Bush is one of history's worst presidents.

Gore is still popular with the Democratic base, but after this speech, the question for the party's nominee has to be, do you want this man to speak at the convention in Boston? Even if you like the sentiment behind this speech, if Gore delivers an address like this one in July, the historical analogy won't be to the Democrats of 1976 or to the Republicans of 1994. Instead, the comparison will be to the disastrous Republican convention of 1992. The angry white male is back. Do the Democrats really want him?


          Mystery Candidate   

MASON CITY, IOWA—Whatever John Kerry is doing right in this campaign, he isn't doing it on the stump. At least, that's my impression after watching him last night. Granted, it was the end of a long day for the senator, who spent much of it flying around Iowa by helicopter, and Kerry is a notoriously erratic speaker. The speech I watched him give had the quality of a rambling answering-machine message—Where is he going? What is he talking about? Will it ever end? But Kerry is the candidate that I've seen the least of in person, so I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe I've just never seen him on a good day. If his momentum in the polls is for real, he must be doing something right.

There's a nugget of a theme in the middle of the speech, where Kerry uses President Bush's aircraft-carrier "Mission Accomplished" banner (derision of which is a surefire applause-getter in Iowa and New Hampshire alike) as a device to critique President Bush's domestic policy. "What mission?" Kerry asks. What about the mission to provide jobs for the unemployed, or to alleviate the high cost of prescription drugs, or to help family farmers, or to decrease the number of uninsured, or to clean up the environment? On those counts, "It's not even mission attempted," Kerry hollers. "It's mission deserted! Mission abandoned! Mission not even tried!" (Kerry returns to this theme at the conclusion, when he says Democrats will hang their own "Mission Accomplished" banner when they send President Bush back to Texas.)

In his first 100 days as president, Kerry says, he would issue an executive order that prohibits government officials from working as lobbyists for five years after they leave public life. He vows that every meeting between an official and a lobbyist in his administration would be public record. He makes an eloquent case for providing health care for the uninsured, saying, "Health care is not a privilege for the powerful and the wealthy. It is a right for all Americans." And he gets the automatic cheers any Democratic candidate gets when he refers to John Ashcroft by promising to "appoint an attorney general who is outside politics" and who will "not pursue a political and a religious agenda."

The audience doesn't seem wowed by Kerry, and he isn't bum-rushed by supporters the way I've seen crowds swarm around Howard Dean, Wesley Clark, and to a lesser extent on Thursday afternoon, John Edwards. What am I missing? I wonder. But driving between Dean events today, I hear a radio ad that might provide part of the answer. It supports Ryan Lizza's theory that Kerry is gaining ground by pushing an anti-tax message. Unlike unnamed other candidates, "John Kerry is not going to raise taxes on the middle class," the announcer says.

Kerry didn't directly criticize Howard Dean or Dick Gephardt on Thursday (though the veteran who introduced him did criticize Dean when he compared Kerry's Vietnam experience to "another candidate" who "asked for a deferment" and then went skiing). But he emphasized tax reform, not just the repeal of the Bush tax cuts. "I'm not looking for some great redistribution" or a "confiscatory" tax scheme, he says. "I'm looking for fairness." He also promises to "scour" the tax code for provisions that benefit "Benedict Arnold" companies and CEOs who move their assets offshore to escape taxes. Fifteen years ago, Kerry says, U.S. businesses had $250 billion in offshore assets. Today, it's $5 trillion. "This system is rigged against the average American," he says. "America is losing its democracy to a dollar-ocracy."

If Kerry's lead in the polls is accurate, and if it's attributable to his message on tax cuts (two pretty big ifs, in my opinion), Dean's decision to withhold his tax-reform plan until after the Iowa caucuses will be considered a major miscalculation. Instead of betting everything on Iowa and New Hampshire in an attempt to end the campaign before it began, Dean overconfidently decided to keep part of his platform in his quiver, presumably hoping it would have greater impact during a later stage of the campaign.

But what's bad news for Dean could be good news for the rest of the country. For years, pundits have complained that Iowa and New Hampshire have too much control over the presidential nominating process. This year, most people thought Iowa and New Hampshire would be even more important, because the condensed primary schedule would create unstoppable momentum for the winning candidates. But it looks like Terry McAuliffe's plan is having the opposite effect: By cramming so many primaries and caucuses into a small part of the calendar, McAuliffe created something much closer to a national primary than ever existed before. Joe Lieberman and Wesley Clark are taking advantage of the new game by staking their candidacies on the states after Iowa and New Hampshire. And if John Zogby is right about John Kerry, Howard Dean may be forced to do the same thing.


          Who's No. 1?   

DES MOINES, IOWA—To give you an idea of how crowded Iowa is with presidential candidates and those who follow them, here's what happened in the first hour and a half after I landed here Wednesday night: At baggage claim, I encountered two Kerry campaign workers in need of a lift, so I dropped them off at Kerry HQ, which is downtown in what used to be a car dealership. Moments later, when I pulled up in front of my hotel, the "Real Solutions Express"—the big, blue, star-spangled Edwards bus—was sitting outside. After I checked in, I rode up the elevator with Juan Williams. Ten minutes later, my next elevator ride was with Aaron Pickerel, the Iowa political director for the Edwards campaign. In 20 minutes of TV viewing, I saw ads for Dean, Kerry, Kucinich ("Did I approve this commercial? You bet"), Edwards, Dean again, and Kucinich again.

Two days ago, the Iowa storyline seemed pretty clear: Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt would duke it out for first place, and John Kerry and John Edwards would compete for third. But now, if the latest Zogby poll is to be believed, it's a four-way run for the finish. No one seems to have any idea how things are going to go down on Monday, but at the moment, the race feels so close that the results won't winnow a single candidate from the race.

Right now, the biggest mystery of the campaign to me is what's gotten into John Edwards? After his spectacular performance at the Des Moines Register debate earlier this month, I thought to myself, "Too little, too late." After the Register endorsed him, I yawned. But a campaign rally this afternoon at the Renaissance Savery Hotel is the first Edwards event I've witnessed where an enthusiastic crowd gave him the aura of a winner. Before today, I'd only seen Howard Dean and Wesley Clark perform this well. (I'll weigh in with a judgment on John Kerry after I see him tonight.)

North Carolina Gov. Michael Easley introduces Edwards with the best introduction speech I've heard for any candidate this campaign. He praises Edwards' opponents, saying: "They've all served our country well. I don't have anything negative to say about any of them, and neither does Sen. Edwards." Then he says something artfully negative about them anyway. "I'm running [for re-election] this time, and I want to run with someone I can run with, not from." Easley prepares the crowd for Edwards' theme: The North Carolina senator has dropped his aw-shucks, son of a mill worker, I've-done-this-my-whole-life campaign, and now presents himself as a fighter who has defeated powerful interests and powerful Republicans. "When he decided to run [for U.S. senator], he took on the toughest Republican establishment in the history of this country," Easley says.

Edwards has expanded one of the most effective portions of his stump speech, the part about "two school systems, one for the haves, and one for the have-nots," and turned it into the campaign theme. There are "two Americas," he says: two school systems, two tax systems, two economies, even "two governments in Washington, D.C." America also has "two images all around the world," the shining City on a Hill versus a new, less flattering image that's been created by President Bush.

Edwards has always gone after lobbyists, but now he's more strident about it. "We ought to cut these lobbyists off at the knees," he says. "We ought to ban them from making political contributions." He rails against the "revolving door" between lobbying and government, and he condemns "war profiteering." "We ought to ban these companies from making political contributions at the same time they're bidding on Iraq."

Of the corporate lawyers who underestimated him in the courtroom, Edwards yells: "I beat 'em. And I beat 'em again. And I beat 'em again." Ditto for "the Jesse Helms political machine," which underestimated him during his race for the U.S. Senate, he says. "And now I'm the senior senator from North Carolina, not Jesse Helms! And that is good for America!" (This fires up the crowd, but won't John Edwards not be the senior senator from North Carolina next year, because he decided to run for president instead of re-election? Is that bad for America?)

By the end of his speech, Edwards is sounding more and more like the man he's been chasing, Howard Dean. Up to now, most of the non-Deans have been trying to copy Dean's message by mimicking his anger, but Edwards zeroes in on another part of Dean's pitch, the part about empowering "you." Edwards promises to take away Washington from "that crowd of insiders in Washington, D.C.," and restore it to you. He can't do it alone, he says: "You and I are going to do it together." And the last line of his speech is no longer about himself, about an America in which the son of a mill worker can beat the son of a president. Instead, the son of a mill worker sounds like the son of a stockbroker: "I believe in you."

On the subject of speaking precisely: I've been inundated with complaints about my recent piece that listed six statements made by Wesley Clark in New Hampshire. Unfortunately, I lumped statements that are objectively inaccurate (there were no terrorists in Iraq before the war) with statements that are demagogic (we could find Osama Bin Laden "if we wanted to") with statements that are imprecise (the statement that Bush "never intended to put the resources in to get Osama Bin Laden" can be defended logically, but so can Howard Dean's statement about the "Saudi tip-off" conspiracy theory that a secretive administration breeds conspiracy theories; neither are smart politics) with statements that are merely provocative and controversial and could be used to tar Clark unfairly (for example, I think it's unwise for Clark to focus on whether 9/11 was preventable). And I didn't outline which statement I believe falls in which category.

The point of the piece, which was admittedly not clear, was to suggest that Clark may not be the "electable Dean" that his supporters believe he is. Both candidates have a propensity to make statements that range from impolitic to provocative to simply inaccurate. If you like Clark or Dean, you're predisposed to excuse these statements or to see them as courageous truth-telling. If you don't like them, you have a different reaction. I wanted to highlight this similarity between the two candidates, which belies the consensus that Clark is supported by careful centrists and Dean by angry liberals. I wish I had been more precise.


          A Browser's Guide to Campaign 2004   

Here's a quick guide to the good parts of Winning Back America, Howard Dean's campaign book to be published Dec. 3 (complete with a cover picture of the candidate trying his damnedest to look sunny):

Chapter 1: "I'm a Regular Guy." Dean touches on his family's roots and his childhood in New York City, and he makes passing mention of his Rhode Island prep school, but he says he "really grew up in East Hampton on eastern Long Island." His "idyllic childhood" involved being outdoors, riding bikes, a duck pond, fishing, sailing, and baseball. His dad wouldn't buy him a uniform for his baseball team because he thought it was a waste of money. The chapter concludes, "At heart, I'm a country person."

Chapter 2: Howard Dean, Farmer. Devoted to Dean's summer jobs as a teenager. Dean writes two sentences about working as a sailing-camp counselor but an entire page about his work on a cattle ranch in Florida. There he earned "agricultural minimum wage," cleared land, dusted crops, and in a yearning-macho voice worthy of Apocalypse Now's Col. Kilgore, he remembers "feeling the cool mist of the herbicide on my bare chest as the plane went over."

Chapter 3: "Unlike George W. Bush, I Had Black Roommates at Yale." Bush went to Yale, too, but his senior year was Dean's freshman year, 1968. "The gulf between our experiences was much larger, though; it was as if we were a generation apart," Dean writes, referring to the changes wreaked both by "the phenomenon of the sixties" and the increasing diversity of the Yale student body, including more Jews, more public school students, and in 1969, women.

Chapter 4: Howard Dean, Ski Bum. Dean's post-college years before medical school. He skis in Colorado (living in a cabin "in a little place called Ashcroft"), where he pours concrete and washes dishes to pay the bills. He becomes a teacher by virtue of a strange snap judgment after missing a plane to Bogotá, Colombia: "I've taken many hundreds of flights in my life, and this is the only time that's ever happened. I realized that there was a reason I missed the plane. I cut short my intended trip, went home, and decided to get to work." After teaching for a year, he takes a job on Wall Street. He decides he's too careful with other people's money to be a good broker, and that he doesn't really like New York City.

Chapter 5: Med School and Judy. Contains one of the more intriguing sentences in the book: "I didn't really get to be a happy person until I went to medical school." Dean's explanation for this is that he didn't work hard enough at Yale, and "If I'm directionless and coasting, I'm not happy." He meets his future wife, Judy Steinberg. He doesn't get into any of his top three choices for his medical residency. The University of Vermont was choice No. 4, and he moves to Burlington in May 1978.

Chapter 6: Dean Enters Politics. Is Dean a moderate Republican in disguise? He compares himself to his Republican father, a "fiscal conservative" who was "not particularly liberal on social issues, but he wasn't particularly conservative either. Today he would be considered a moderate, business-oriented Republican; he wanted the budget run properly. In that way, I am very much my father's son." Dean on why he's a "pragmatic Democrat": "I was friendly with the younger, more liberal Democrats because they were my age, but I didn't vote with them. I didn't relate to their political sensibilities."

Chapter 7: The Vermont Statehouse. A woman tells him, "You're going to do really well here, but you've got to get over this chip on your shoulder that tells you to fix somebody's wagon if they cross you."

Chapter 8: Governor. "Our telephone number remained in the book." Dean cuts marginal tax rates to improve Vermont's economy, but he insists he didn't engage in the "outrageous tax cutting that went on in some of the states." He also cuts spending programs over the objections of liberal Democrats. On one occasion, he visits Congress to talk about health care: "Bob Michel, the House minority leader, was there. He was a wonderful person. Newt Gingrich was there. He's not a wonderful person."

Chapter 9: More of the Vermont Miracle. Here's Dean's illustration of the "striking difference" between Republicans and Democrats: "When the Democrats controlled the National Governors Association (I was chair of the NGA from 1994 to 1995), we used to fight against our own party when it passed legislation that harmed the states. When the Republicans took over, however, they took orders from the G.O.P. in Washington, with few standing up for the people they represented. … Most Republican governors caved to the right-wing Republican White House because they were fearful; the folks in the White House are more than willing to threaten them."

Chapter 10: Pre-President Dean. He defends the Bush daughters: "I know that several thousand kids every year get caught with fake IDs." And he defends his wife's decision not to participate in his presidential campaign: "The notion that the wife is going to be dragged along in the wake of her husband's career is something that should have been left behind decades ago." Six sentences on religion, including "I'm a fairly religious person though I don't regularly attend church or temple," "I pray just about every day," and "I also believe that good and evil exist in the world, and I thoroughly disapprove of people who use religion to inflict pain on others."

Dean's favorite books: All the King's Men, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Ken Kesey's Sometimes a Great Notion; also Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed and David McCullough's Truman ("It is one of the books that has had the most impact on me in the last ten years").

Dean ranks the presidents: 1) Washington; 2) Lincoln; 3) FDR; 4) a four-way tie between Jefferson, Truman, TR, and LBJ, despite Vietnam. We also learn Dean's weight, about 167 pounds. And don't tell Arianna, but he drives a Ford Explorer.

Chapter 11: The Chapter Most Worth Reading. Dean on the execution of his brother Charlie by communists in Laos in 1975 and on the death of his father in 2001. His parents thought Charlie was CIA: "There was speculation that Charlie was in Laos because he was working for the CIA and I think my parents believed that to be the case. Personally, I don't think he was employed by the U.S. government in any capacity, but we'll probably never know the answer to that question." Dean admits that he has spoken to counselors about his brother's death, and the chapter ends, "I'm sure that, had he lived, he'd be the one running for president and not me."

The second half of the book is campaign boilerplate: True believers will nod in approval, but you've heard this stuff before.


          Notes From New Hampshire   

MANCHESTER, N.H.—Notes on a day in New Hampshire:

The first Wednesday of every month is Meetup day for Howard Dean supporters, so they're gathered in a cramped restaurant called Merrimack, waiting for the candidate to arrive. It's close to a Holiday Inn where Dean and the other candidates will participate in a "women's issues" debate sponsored by Planned Parenthood. Merrimack is packed with media, including Joe Klein ("Hi, Joe," Dean says when he gets there) and George Stephanopoulos, who appears to be dressed in the same black turtleneck Wesley Clark and Dennis Kucinich wore Tuesday night.

Once Dean arrives, he stands atop a chair to address the crowd. "It's not true that I'm the shortest candidate in the campaign," he says. "In fact, I may be in the top half." This isn't as preposterous as it sounds. There are nine candidates, and only John Kerry, John Edwards, and Dick Gephardt are indisputably taller than Dean. Dennis Kucinich and Carol Moseley Braun are shorter. That leaves a fierce battle for the vital center among Dean, Wesley Clark, Al Sharpton, and Joe Lieberman. Maybe at the next debate they should all line up in their stocking feet.

During his speech, Dean clearly urges his supporters (who are voting this week on whether the campaign should turn down federal matching funds) to let him bust the federal spending caps: "It's a gamble, and there's good things to be said for both sides. But I fundamentally do not believe we can compete with George Bush if we limit our spending to $45 million."

Earlier in the day, Dean delivered a speech in New York (which I watch from the comfort of my Manchester hotel room, on www.howarddean.tv) to announce the vote. What catches my eye: While criticizing President Bush's "powerful money-bundlers," Dean said, "They are people like Walden O'Dell, a 2004 Pioneer, who is also manufacturing electronic voting machines to count our votes, and has said that he is, quote, 'committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year.' " Does Dean believe that the Republican Party is going to manipulate electronic voting machines to steal the 2004 election? At Merrimack, I ask him. He admits that he doesn't know much about the subject, but he sounds open to the possibility. "I think it's a serious issue," he says.

A line Dean says to a supporter that he might want to consider dropping: "The only difference between me and McGovern is we're going to be in the White House."

Things of interest during the Planned Parenthood debate:

The candidates are asked to grade themselves on their parenting, and Dean and Clark give the most interesting answers. "I will not pretend for a moment that I did 50 percent of the work, but I did a lot," Dean says. Clark is even more honest. "I don't give myself a very good grade, but I had an A-plus wife," he says. "Sometimes you get better than you deserve in life, and I've been lucky."

They are also asked, "Do you practice a faith, and would you invoke the name of God when discussing a policy?" Nearly every one of them gives the safe answer, that their faith is important to them, but that they respect the separation of church and state. "I pray every night, but don't go to church very often," says Dean. "My religion does not inform my public policy, but it does inform my values," is Edwards's answer, and he adds, "The president of the United States should not be setting policy for the country based on his or her faith."

Only Kucinich dissents. (Along with Clark, Kerry, and Braun, he's one of four Catholics at the debate. Although Braun and Clark self-identify as Catholics, Braun attends an Episcopal church and Clark attends a Presbyterian one.) He says that within the context of a pluralistic society, religious values can and should influence public policy. "We must live our spiritual values in our public policy," such as full employment, health care, and education, he says. "A government that stands for peace reflects spiritual values." After the debate, I try to ask Kucinich about the relationship between his faith and his public policy, but I get off on the wrong foot by saying that he changed his abortion position to pro-choice "right before" he started running for president. "Wrong," Kucinich says, it was spring 2002. The discussion goes nowhere from there.

Since the topic came up, after the debate I also ask Clark why he converted to Catholicism as a young man, and why he no longer practices.

"When I was in England during the Vietnam War, the Nonconformist churches over there were just extraordinarily political. And I just couldn't go to service and have them condemn the armed forces that I was serving in. I mean, they were my West Point classmates there, and they were being accused of terrible crimes, and it wasn't so," he says.

"I believed in the structure, and the balance, and the long-term durability of the Catholic Church, and that's why I converted to Catholicism. But over the years as we went from location to location and saw the church, we found that our spiritual needs were better met by attendance at Protestant services. The services were richer in their spiritual meaning. And of course I still consider myself a Catholic. But I enjoy the singing, I enjoy the sermon, I enjoy the fellowship in the Protestant services. It's just a much deeper spiritual experience. That's for me."

Back to the debate. Three of the candidates say 18-year-old women should be required to register for Selective Service, just like 18-year-old men. "If you have different standards, that begins the path toward discrimination," Dean says. Clark and Kerry say yes, too. Edwards says no, and Braun says it would be OK if it weren't for the fact that one in four women at the Air Force Academy are victims of sexual assault or rape. Kucinich gives my favorite answer, an attempt to have it both ways: "No, not that they can't, if they want to."

What role would a "first lady, first man, or first friend" play in their administrations? There are three interesting answers. Dean confirms that "I'd very much like to be the first president who has a working wife in the White House" who does not participate in his career. Braun, who is divorced, says, "This is an impossible question. There has never been a First Man or First Gentleman." Like Dean, but with more flair, she concludes, "You'll get me, but you'll get no one for free."

But it's Kucinich, who also is divorced, who steals the show. "As a bachelor, I get a chance to fantasize about my first lady. Maybe Fox wants to sponsor a national contest or something," he says. He adds that he wants "someone who would not want to just be by my side," but would be a "dynamic outspoken women who was fearless" in her support for peace in the world and universal, single-payer health care. So, "If you're out there, call me."


          See Dick Run   

SIOUX CITY, Iowa—Dean season! Gephardt season! Dean season! Gephardt season! If any lingering debate remained over which presidential candidate is currently enjoying his media moment, my two days with Dick Gephardt settled it. The 20 national reporters who follow Gephardt for all or part of his campaign swing from Des Moines to Sioux City are the latest sign that not only have the leaves turned in late October, but so have the media.

I came along to witness firsthand the evidence for something I wrote earlier this month after the Phoenix debate, that Gephardt's hard-nosed and well-organized Iowa campaign presents, at the moment, the biggest obstacle to President Dean (or, to be fairer, Democratic Nominee Dean). But I missed the media conspiracy memo that told everyone else to show up, too. During Gephardt's weekend swing in Iowa two days before, only three national reporters trailed the candidate. But now, David Brooks is here. So are Mara Liasson of NPR and Carl Cameron of Fox News. Throw in reporters from ABC, MSNBC, Knight Ridder, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Christian Science Monitor, Newsweek, and the New York Times. (Counting Brooks, on Wednesday there are two New York Times writers following Gephardt.) Just for the sake of overkill, there are reporters from the British press and from Japanese television along for the ride. At one event in Pocahontas, Iowa—a town with an absolutely gigantic statue of the Indian princess outside her teepee welcoming visitors from the highway—the number of journalists nearly matches the number of prospective caucus-goers.

The Gephardt campaign pushes its slow-and-steady-wins-the-race angle (or is it a plea for votes from Maryland Terrapins alums?) by emblazoning "Fear the Turtle!" on the front of the press itinerary, complete with a little clip-art turtle on every page. The packet includes the latest Iowa poll results, which show Gephardt and Dean in a statistical tie for the lead, with Kerry and Edwards lagging behind. For good measure, the campaign throws in last week's favorable press clippings, including Des Moines Register wise man David Yepsen's assertion that Gephardt is the Iowa front-runner and that Dean has "plateaued" in the state. Also enclosed is a much-discussed Washington Post report—distributed, in truncated form, to voters at campaign events—that Gephardt is the candidate "many prominent Republicans fear the most." Not included is a delicious metaphor for Gephardt supporters to latch onto: While hurtling from campaign stop to campaign stop in Iowa over the past few months, the Dean van has been pulled over multiple times for speeding.

At his first stop, a senior center in Des Moines (the first of three consecutive senior centers visited by the campaign), Gephardt is supposed to deliver a "health policy address," but it turns out to be a rehash of old Howard Dean quotes about Medicare. (Later, while being ribbed by reporters about the false advertising, Gephardt's Iowa press secretary, Bill Burton, protests that he never called it a "major" policy address.) The newest wrinkle: Gephardt wants to paint the 1997 balanced budget accord—generally thought to be one of President Clinton's major accomplishments, and one supported by Dean—as a "deep, devastating cut" in Medicare.

While Gephardt speaks in front of a sign that reads "Protect Social Security" and "Protect Medicare" over and over, like computer-desktop wallpaper, I wonder: Does he really want to play this game? Dredging up old quotes and votes about Gephardt's onetime conservatism is what helped to derail his '88 campaign. He voted against the establishment of the Department of Education. He voted for a constitutional amendment to ban abortion. He voted to means-test Social Security and to eliminate cost-of-living adjustments from the program. He voted for Reagan's 1981 tax cuts. He opposed an increase in the minimum wage. Does a man with a legislative record this long and varied really want to ostentatiously declare, "There are life-and-death consequences to every position taken and every vote cast"? If that's so, how many times was Dick Gephardt on the side of death?

For now, however, it's a more recent House vote that's preventing Gephardt from running away with the Iowa race. At nearly every campaign event I attend, Gephardt is forced to deliver, in effect, two separate stump speeches. The first is the one he would like the campaign to be about: universal health care, jobs, and the immorality of rapacious multinational corporations. Gephardt's not anticapitalist: "Capitalism is the best system," he says in Pocahontas. "But capitalism has to have rules, so the capitalists don't destroy the very system" they benefit from.

He describes his visits to Mexico, China, and India, where workers live in the cardboard boxes used to ship the products they make. "I smelled where they live," he says. They live without electricity, without running water, with raw sewage running down the streets and next to "drainage ditches filled with human waste." "They live in worse conditions than farm animals in Iowa," he continues. "This is nothing short of human exploitation, that's what it is, for the profit of some special interests in the world." I'm not sure I agree with Gephardt's proposed solutions—though I'm intrigued by his notion of a variable international minimum wage—but there's no denying that he's a powerful critic of global capitalism's excesses.

Then, once Gephardt has finished and the applause has subsided, almost invariably a voter raises his hand to ask: What about Iraq? Was this war about oil? How can we recover the world's respect? How can we pay for all your programs with a war on?

At this point, Gephardt is forced to unveil stump speech No. 2. Sept. 11 changed everything, he says. Government's highest obligation is to protect American lives. In a Gephardt administration, the highest priority would be to prevent a nuclear device—"dirty or clean"—from going off in New York, Los Angeles, or Des Moines. That's why he decided Saddam Hussein needed to be removed. He supported the war because he believed the estimates of the CIA and the warnings of former Clinton administration officials, not because he listened to President Bush ("I would never do that").

Slowly, Gephardt's defense of his vote for the congressional war resolution transitions into a critique of the president. Though in an interview he insisted that the president was smart, on the stump he's not shy about insinuating that the president (whom he often refers to as "Dubya") is stupid. "He's incompetent," "He frightens me," "He's hard to help," I told him America founded the United Nations because "I wasn't sure he knew the history," and "If you'd been meeting with him every week since 9/11, you'd be running for president," too. Because Bush refused to negotiate with Kim Jong Il, North Korea is now "weeks away" from producing nuclear bombs. Bush abandoned the peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine, saying, "It's not our problem." He's arrogant. He doesn't play well with others. By the end, people are satisfied enough with Gephardt's explanation, and maybe even a little terrified, but you get the sense that they're not enthused by it.

But Gephardt isn't counting on enthusiasm. He has a couple edges on Dean, in addition to his obvious union support. For one, a surprising number of Iowa Democrats just don't like the former Vermont governor. The opposition to Gephardt tends to be substantive, based on his support for the war or his failure as Democratic leader to enact a more Democratic agenda. But the opposition to Dean is stylistic, or maybe even cultural. In socially conservative Iowa, sometimes you hear it whispered: Where's Dean's wife? Before Gephardt arrives at an event in the town of Ida Grove, I overhear a woman grumble about Judith Steinberg's refusal to campaign for her husband. "I can't get used to that," she tells her companion. "It's supposed to be a family thing."

By the same token, Gephardt never fails to mention the "church loans" and "church scholarships" that allowed him to attend Northwestern and then Michigan law school. He also refers to his son, Matt, who survived prostate cancer as an infant, as a "gift of God." I don't think I've ever heard Howard Dean say the word "God" in reference to anything.

Just before the last stop in Sioux City, I'm granted a 10-minute ride-along interview with Gephardt. I've got a number of questions, but the one I really want an answer to is this: If balanced budgets and free trade—two things that don't get a lot of emphasis in the Gephardt platform—weren't the secrets of the Clinton economy, what were? Higher taxes for the rich? Gephardt explains that the '97 budget accord wasn't needed to balance the budget, and then he tries to explain why Bush's steel tariffs—which Gephardt supported, and which made the United States lose manufacturing jobs—aren't analogous to the retaliatory tariffs Gephardt wants to be able to impose on foreign products or factories that don't comply with minimal labor and environmental standards. Soon enough, we're so sidetracked that I've forgotten entirely what we were talking about.

But afterward, when I'm once again following Gephardt in my rental car, I'm left with my question: Clinton balanced the budget and promoted free trade, and the economy boomed. President Bush ran up enormous deficits and put new restrictions on trade, and the economy sputtered. Isn't Dick Gephardt's plan closer to President Bush's?


          Inside story: Australian firms grappling with consumer credit reforms   
Financial services industry figures have revealed that many lenders will struggle to meet the mid-2010 deadline for licence applications under the upcoming consumer credit regime, despite the government's decision to offer a six-month reprieve.
          Opinion: Are millennials too lazy to eat cereal for breakfast?   
Opinion: Are millennials too lazy to eat cereal for breakfast?
  By Dylan Bell and Jasmin Husain It was quite the week for millennials when it came to entertainment news. Leo might finally win an Oscar this weekend Netflix’s bingeworthy Full House sequel, Fuller House, just came out Kanye West, in typical Kanye West performative fashion, has spent the week continually out–Kanye Westing himself Cult sensations Broad City and Girls […]

          Public Health Nurse, Public Health (Re-advertisement) - Nunavut Government - Clyde River, NU   
The Public Health Nurse also serves as a resource for individuals and groups within the community, providing a public health perspective to community initiated... $94,010 - $106,685 a year
From Nunavut Government - Fri, 23 Jun 2017 18:19:14 GMT - View all Clyde River, NU jobs
          Support Assistant - Inualthuyak School - Government of the Northwest Territories - Sachs Harbour, NT   
Programme de promotion sociale. Pour se voir accorder la priorité en vertu du programme de promotion sociale, les candidats doivent montrer clairement qu’ils y... $31.16 an hour
From Government of the Northwest Territories - Sat, 24 Jun 2017 10:21:21 GMT - View all Sachs Harbour, NT jobs
          Community Health Nurse - 8 Week Job Share - Sachs Harbour - Government of the Northwest Territories - Sachs Harbour, NT   
Programme de promotion sociale. Pour se voir accorder la priorité en vertu du programme de promotion sociale, les candidats doivent montrer clairement qu’ils y... $14.47 an hour
From Government of the Northwest Territories - Sun, 11 Jun 2017 13:10:19 GMT - View all Sachs Harbour, NT jobs
          Government of, by and for Trump   
none
          LIFF SPECIAL REVIEW: Newton   
The Chhattisgarh region of central India is rich in mineral resources, but its people live in poverty, eking out a living amongst the fighting that has gone on for close to three decades, with many of them uprooted from traditionally held tribal land. These people end up caught between the government and the Maoist rebels, and it’s this tension that serves as the backdrop to Amit V. Masurkar’s finely chiseled film, Newton. In the world’s largest democracy, free and fair elections are seen as the way to counter Maoist opposition, and the key to free and fair elections is the
          Here’s the Scoop on the Secret Bunkers Meant to Save Government VIPs from a Nuclear Attack   

Cold Cut Combo, anyone?

The post Here’s the Scoop on the Secret Bunkers Meant to Save Government VIPs from a Nuclear Attack appeared first on Made Man.


          Team Trump is preparing massive, "dramatic" cuts to the federal government   

          CA Gun Owners Face Tough Decision July 1 Unless a Judge Steps In   
... Supreme Court denied cert in Peruta v. California , the Second Amendment is a "disfavored" amendment at this point, and guns and gun parts are the popular eeevil nuisance of the day - so it's okay for government to ban them, right? FPC's Brandon ...
          Car bomb, gunfire and hostage-taking rock Mogadishu restaurant   
A suicide bombing and gun attack on a popular restaurant of the Somali capital Mogadishu early on Thursday killed at least 17 people, including foreigners. The Al Shabab Islamist militant group claimed responsibility - saying one of its fighters rammed a car packed with explosives onto the gates of a posh hotel. A photograph uploaded to social media by Abdulaziz Billow Ali showed the area affected by the explosion engulfed in flames, while loud gunfire can be heard in subsequent videos. The explosion caused a huge inferno inside the famous Pizza House Restaurant. Sporadic gunfire can still be heard #Mogadishu #Somalia. pic.twitter.com/gtilI4hQGS- Abdulaziz Billow Ali (@AbdulBillowAli) June 14, 2017 Al Shabab claimed the attack in #Mogadishu. pic.twitter.com/9nscf9fWhF- Ruslan Trad (@ruslantrad) June 14, 2017 Gunmen then stormed the neighbouring restaurant and held dozens of people hostage inside. Special forces released at least 50 hostages, according to the state news media, but many were wounded in the attack, which dragged on late into the night. One witness said the gunmen were dressed like soldiers. They also cut off electricity to impede the siege by security forces. Its almost midnight in #Mogadishu and heavy exchange of gunfire can still be heard at Pizza House. Gunmen still holed up inside. #Somalia pic.twitter.com/heb2uwl8AA- Abdulaziz Billow Ali (@AbdulBillowAli) June 14, 2017 Its already past dusk & gvt forces are still engaging gunmen in heavy gunfire. Smoke has engulfed z sky near the scene of z blast #Somalia pic.twitter.com/BJRCB9kzP1- Abdulaziz Billow Ali (@AbdulBillowAli) June 15, 2017 Stepping up attacks Al-Shabab last year became the deadliest Islamic extremist group in Africa, with more than 4,200 people killed in 2016, according to the Washington-based Africa Center for Strategic Studies. The group has carried out a campaign of suicide bombings in its bid to topple the Somali government and impose its strict interpretation of Islam. It often targets high-profile areas of Mogadishu, including hotels, military checkpoints and areas near the presidential palace. It has vowed to step up attacks after the recently elected government launched a new military offensive against it. They have also been behind attacks in neighbouring Kenya, including the Westgate Mall siege in Nairobi in 2013. Deadly attacks on hotels popular with foreigners have become one of their trademarks.
          Community Services Worker - Government of Saskatchewan - Saskatoon, SK   
You will be responsible for managing a caseload of clients including assessment, individual program planning, counselling of individuals and/or families,... $30.70 - $37.35 an hour
From Government of Saskatchewan - Fri, 23 Jun 2017 10:21:11 GMT - View all Saskatoon, SK jobs
          Administrative Support - 50% - Government of Saskatchewan - Saskatoon, SK   
In an environment consisting of a high volume of daily mail, e-mails, telephone calls and counter inquiries, you will be providing intake assessment, program... $19.42 - $24.33 an hour
From Government of Saskatchewan - Mon, 19 Jun 2017 10:16:08 GMT - View all Saskatoon, SK jobs
          Court Administrative Assistant - Queen's Bench - Government of Saskatchewan - Saskatoon, SK   
You will independently perform complex clerical and receptionist duties including some financial and statistical matters for the Local Registrar.... $20.97 - $26.28 an hour
From Government of Saskatchewan - Mon, 26 Jun 2017 10:23:55 GMT - View all Saskatoon, SK jobs
          Update on Decisions from Yesterday's Government Meeting   
News
          Director - Governor in Council Appointments - Canada   
Moving forward, the Government of Canada will use an appointment process that is transparent and merit-based, strives for gender parity, and ensures that...
From Governor in Council Appointments - Tue, 27 Jun 2017 01:22:08 GMT - View all Canada jobs
          Members - Governor in Council Appointments - Canada   
Moving forward, the Government of Canada will use an appointment process that is transparent and merit-based, strives for gender parity, and ensures that...
From Governor in Council Appointments - Wed, 21 Jun 2017 19:24:02 GMT - View all Canada jobs
          Vice-Chairperson - Governor in Council Appointments - Canada   
Moving forward, the Government of Canada will use an appointment process that is transparent and merit-based, strives for gender parity, and ensures that... $200,900 - $236,300 a year
From Governor in Council Appointments - Sat, 17 Jun 2017 07:12:24 GMT - View all Canada jobs
          Lay Members - Governor in Council Appointments - Canada   
Moving forward, the Government of Canada will use an appointment process that is transparent and merit-based, strives for gender parity, and ensures that...
From Governor in Council Appointments - Fri, 16 Jun 2017 19:12:14 GMT - View all Canada jobs
          Commissioner of Lobbying - Governor in Council Appointments - Canada   
Moving forward, the Government of Canada will use an appointment process that is transparent and merit-based, strives for gender parity, and ensures that... $174,700 - $205,500 a year
From Governor in Council Appointments - Fri, 09 Jun 2017 10:08:11 GMT - View all Canada jobs
          Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner - Governor in Council Appointments - Canada   
Moving forward, the Government of Canada will use an appointment process that is transparent and merit-based, strives for gender parity, and ensures that...
From Governor in Council Appointments - Fri, 09 Jun 2017 10:08:11 GMT - View all Canada jobs
          India and the Balance of Power   

India is arriving on the world stage as the first large, economically powerful, culturally vibrant, multiethnic, multireligious democracy outside of the geographic West. As it rises, India has the potential to become a leading member of the "political West" and to play a key role in the great political struggles of the next decades. Whether it will, and how soon, depends above all on the readiness of the Western powers to engage India on its own terms.

THREE STRATEGIC CIRCLES

India's grand strategy divides the world into three concentric circles. In the first, which encompasses the immediate neighborhood, India has sought primacy and a veto over the actions of outside powers. In the second, which encompasses the so-called extended neighborhood stretching across Asia and the Indian Ocean littoral, India has sought to balance the influence of other powers and prevent them from undercutting its interests. In the third, which includes the entire global stage, India has tried to take its place as one of the great powers, a key player in international peace and security.

Three things have historically prevented India from realizing these grand strategic goals. First, the partition of the South Asian subcontinent along religious lines (first into India and Pakistan, in 1947, then into India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, in 1971) left India with a persistent conflict with Pakistan and an internal Hindu-Muslim divide. It also physically separated India from historically linked states such as Afghanistan, Iran, and the nations of Southeast Asia. The creation of an avowedly Islamic state in Pakistan caused especially profound problems for India's engagement with the Middle East. Such tensions intertwined with regional and global great-power rivalries to severely constrict India's room for maneuver in all three concentric circles.

The second obstacle was the Indian socialist system, which caused a steady relative economic decline and a consequent loss of influence in the years after independence. The state-socialist model led India to shun commercial engagement with the outside world. As a result, India was disconnected from its natural markets and culturally akin areas in the extended neighborhood.

Finally, the Cold War, the onset of which quickly followed India's independence, pushed India into the arms of the Soviet Union in response to Washington's support for Pakistan and China -- and thus put the country on the losing side of the great political contest of the second half of the twentieth century. Despite being the largest democracy in the world, India ended up siding with the opposite camp on most global issues.

The last decade of the twentieth century liberated India from at least two of these constraints; state socialism gave way to economic liberalization and openness to globalization, and the Cold War ended. Suddenly, New Delhi was free to reinvent its foreign policy -- positioning itself to face the rise of China, shifting its strategic approach to its other neighbors, and beginning to work closely with the world's existing great powers.

VARIETIES OF INFLUENCE

India's recent embrace of openness and globalization has had an especially dramatic effect on the country's role in the region. As the nations of the subcontinent jettison their old socialist agendas, India is well positioned to promote economic integration. Although the pace has been relatively slow, the process has begun to gain traction. The planned implementation of the South Asian Free Trade Agreement this summer signals the coming reintegration of the subcontinent's markets, which constituted a single economic space until 1947.

At the same time, optimism on the economic front must be tempered by an awareness of the problematic political developments in India's smaller neighbors. The struggle for democracy and social justice in Nepal, interminable political violence and the rise of Islamic extremism in Bangladesh, and the simmering civil war in Sri Lanka underscore the potential dangers of failing states on the subcontinent. There are also the uncertain futures of Pakistan and Afghanistan: defeating religious extremism and creating modern and moderate states in both countries is of paramount importance to India. A successful Indian strategy for promoting peace and prosperity within the region would require preventing internal conflicts from undermining regional security, as well as resolving India's own conflicts with its neighbors.

In the past, great-power rivalries, as well as India's own tensions with Pakistan and China, have complicated New Delhi's effort to maintain order in the region. Today, all of the great powers, including the United States and China, support the Indian objective of promoting regional economic integration. The Bush administration has also started to defer to Indian leadership on regional security issues. Given the new convergence of U.S. and Indian interests in promoting democracy and countering extremism and terrorism, New Delhi no longer suspects Washington of trying to undercut its influence in the region. As a result, it is more prepared than ever to work with the United States and other Western powers to pursue regional goals.

Meanwhile, the external environment has never been as conducive as it is today to the resolution of the Indo-Pakistani conflict over Kashmir. The conflict has become less and less relevant to India's relations with the great powers, which has meant a corresponding willingness on New Delhi's part to work toward a solution. Of particular importance has been the steady evolution of the U.S. position on Kashmir since the late 1990s. The support extended by President Bill Clinton to India in its limited war with Pakistan in 1999 removed the perception that Washington would inevitably align with Islamabad in regional conflicts. But India remained distrustful of the Clinton administration's hyperactive, prescriptive approach to Kashmir. It has been more comfortable with the low-key methods of the Bush administration, which has avoided injecting itself directly into the conflict. The Bush administration has also publicly held Pakistan responsible for cross-border terrorism and has extracted the first-ever assurances from Pakistan to put an end to the attacks. New Delhi does not entirely believe these promises, but it has nonetheless come to trust Washington as a source of positive of influence on Islamabad.

These developments have opened the way for a peace process between the two governments. With the growing awareness that the normalization of relations with Pakistan would end a debilitating conflict and help India's regional and global standing, New Delhi has begun to negotiate seriously for the first time in decades. Although the pace of talks has not satisfied Pakistan, the two sides have agreed on a range of confidence-building measures. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has rejected the idea of giving up territory, but he has often called for innovative solutions that would improve living conditions and for common institutions that would connect Kashmiris across the Line of Control. Singh has made clear that the Indian leadership is ready to risk political capital on finding a diplomatic solution to Kashmir.

India's recent effort to resolve its long-standing border dispute with China has been just as bold. New Delhi decided in 2003 to seek a settlement with Beijing on a political basis, rather than on the basis of legal or historical claims. As a result, during Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to New Delhi in April 2005, India and China agreed on a set of principles to guide the final settlement. The two governments are now exploring the contours of mutually satisfactory territorial compromises.

India's search for practical solutions to the disputes over Kashmir and its border with China suggests that the country has finally begun to overcome the obsession with territoriality that has consumed it since its formation. Ironically, the nuclearization of India and Pakistan in 1998 may have helped in this regard: although nuclearization initially sharpened New Delhi's conflicts with both Islamabad and Beijing, it also allowed India to approach its territorial problems with greater self-assurance and pragmatism.

INDIA UNBOUND

Progress on the resolution of either of these conflicts, especially the one over Kashmir, would liberate India's political and diplomatic energies so that the country could play a larger role in the world. It would also finally release India's armed forces from the constraining mission of territorial defense, allowing them to get more involved in peace and stability operations around the Indian Ocean. Even with all the tensions on the subcontinent, the armies of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh have been among the biggest contributors to UN peacekeeping operations. The normalization of Indo-Pakistani relations would further free up some of the best armed forces in the world for the promotion of the collective good in the greater Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

Even as the Kashmir and China questions have remained unsettled, India's profile in its extended neighborhood has grown considerably since the early 1990s. India's outward economic orientation has allowed it to reestablish trade and investment linkages with much of its near abroad. New Delhi is negotiating a slew of free- and preferential-trade agreements with individual countries as well as multilateral bodies including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and the Southern African Development Community. Just as China has become the motor of economic growth in East Asia, a rising India could become the engine of economic integration in the Indian Ocean region.

After decades of being marginalized from regional institutions in different parts of Asia, India is also now a preferred political partner for ASEAN, the East Asian Summit, the GCC, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and the African Union. Moreover, it has emerged as a major aid donor; having been an aid recipient for so long, India is now actively leveraging its own external assistance to promote trade as well as political objectives. For example, India has given $650 million in aid to Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban. Meanwhile, the search for oil has encouraged Indian energy companies to tail their Western and Chinese counterparts throughout the world, from Central Asia and Siberia and to western Africa and Venezuela.

On the security side, India has been actively engaged in defense diplomacy. Thanks to the strength of its armed forces, India is well positioned to assist in stabilizing the Indian Ocean region. It helps that there has been a convergence of U.S. and Indian political interests: countering terrorism, pacifying Islamic radicalism, promoting democracy, and ensuring the security of sea-lanes, to name a few. The Indian navy in particular has been at the cutting edge of India's engagement with the region -- as was evident from its ability to deploy quickly to areas hit by the tsunami at the end of 2004. The Indian navy today is also ready to participate in multinational military operations.

AXES AND ALLIES

The end of the Cold War freed India to pursue engagement with all the great powers -- but especially the United States. At the start of the 1990s, finding that its relations with the United States, China, Japan, and Europe were all underdeveloped, India moved quickly to repair the situation. Discarding old socialist shibboleths, it began to search for markets for its products and capital to fuel its long-constrained domestic growth. Economic partnerships were easy to construct, and increasing trade flows provided a new basis for stability in India's relations with other major powers. India's emergence as an outsourcing destination and its new prowess in information technology also give it a niche in the world economy -- along with the confidence that it can benefit from economic globalization.

Barely 15 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, India's omnidirectional engagement with the great powers has paid off handsomely. Never before has India had such expansive relations with all the major powers at the same time -- a result not only of India's increasing weight in the global economy and its growing power potential, but also of New Delhi's savvy and persistent diplomacy.

The evolution of Sino-Indian ties since the 1990s has been especially important and intriguing. Many see violent conflict between the two rising Asian powers as inevitable. But thanks to New Delhi's policy of actively engaging China since the late 1980s, the tensions that characterized relations between them from the late 1950s through the 1970s have become receding memories. Bilateral trade has boomed, growing from less than $200 million in the early 1990s to nearly $20 billion in 2005. In fact, China is set to overtake the European Union and the United States as India's largest trading partner within a few years. The 3,500-kilometer Sino-Indian border, over which the two countries fought a war in 1962, is now tranquil. And during Wen's visit to India in April 2005, India and China announced a "strategic partnership" -- even though just seven years earlier New Delhi had cited concerns over China as a reason for performing nuclear tests, prompting a vicious reaction from Beijing.

India has also cooperated with China in order to neutralize it in conflicts with Pakistan and other smaller neighbors. In the past, China tended to be a free rider on regional security issues, proclaiming noninterference in the internal affairs of other nations while opportunistically befriending regimes in pursuit of its long-term strategic interests. This allowed India's subcontinental neighbors to play the China card against New Delhi when they wanted to resist India's attempts to nudge them toward conflict resolution. But now, Beijing has increasingly avoided taking sides in India's disputes, even as its economic and security profile in the region has grown.

China is not the only Asian power that India is aiming to engage and befriend. Japan has also emerged as an important partner for India, especially since Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has transformed Japanese politics in the last few years. During a visit to New Delhi just a couple of weeks after Wen's in April 2005, Koizumi announced Japan's own "strategic partnership" with India. (This came despite Japan's harsh reaction to India's nuclear test in 1998, which prompted Japanese sanctions and an effort by Tokyo to censure India in the United Nations and other multilateral forums.) Amid growing fears of a rising China and the incipient U.S.-Indian alliance, Japan has elevated India to a key player in its long-term plans for Asian security.

Recognizing the need to diversify its Asian economic portfolio, Tokyo has also, for political reasons, begun to direct some of its foreign investment to India (which has overtaken China as the largest recipient of Japanese development assistance). Since the start of the Bush administration, Japan has also shown increasing interest in expanding military cooperation with India, especially in the maritime domain. India, too, has recognized that it shares with Japan an interest in energy security and in maintaining a stable balance of power in Asia. Japan actively supported India's participation in the inaugural East Asian Summit, in December 2005, despite China's reluctance to include New Delhi. Neither India nor Japan wants to base their political relationship exclusively on a potential threat from China, but both know that deepening their own security cooperation will open up new strategic options and that greater coordination between Asian democracies could limit China's impact.

India's relations with Europe have been limited by the fact that New Delhi is fairly unimpressed with Europe's role in global politics. It senses that Europe and India have traded places in terms of their attitudes toward the United States: while Europe seethes with resentment of U.S. policies, India is giving up on habitually being the first, and most trenchant, critic of Washington. As pessimism overtakes Europe, growing Indian optimism allows New Delhi to support unpopular U.S. policies. Indians consistently give both the United States and the Bush administration very favorable marks; according to a recent Pew Global Attitudes poll, for example, the percentage of Indians with a positive view of the United States rose from 54 percent in 2002 to 71 percent in 2005. And whereas a declining Europe has tended to be skeptical of India's rise, the Bush administration has been fully sympathetic to India's great-power aspirations.

Still, India does have growing economic and political ties with some European powers. Although many smaller European countries have been critical of the U.S.-Indian nuclear deal, the continent's two nuclear powers, France and the United Kingdom, have been supportive. Paris, in particular, bet long ago (well before Washington did, in fact) that a rising India would provide a good market for high-tech goods; with this in mind, it shielded New Delhi from the ire of the G-8 (the group of eight highly industrialized nations) after India tested nuclear weapons in May 1998. In the last several years, the United Kingdom has also started to seize economic opportunities in India and has been generally accommodating of New Delhi's regional and global aspirations.

In the wake of the Soviet Union's collapse, India also worked to maintain a relationship with Russia. The two states resolved residual issues relating to their old semi-barter rupee-ruble trading arrangements, recast their 1971 peace and friendship treaty, and maintained military cooperation. When President Vladimir Putin succeeded Boris Yeltsin, in 2000, India's waiting game paid off. A newly assertive Moscow was determined to revive and expand its strategic cooperation with India. New Delhi's only problems with Moscow today are the weakening bilateral trade relationship and the risk of Russia's doing too much to strengthen China's military capabilities.

CHARM OFFENSIVE

At the end of the Cold War, the prospect of India's building a new political relationship with the United States seemed remote. Washington had long favored Pakistan and China in the region, India had in turn aligned itself with the Soviet Union, and a number of global issues seemed to pit the two countries against each other. Yet after the Cold War, India set about wooing the United States. For most of the Clinton administration, this sweet-talking fell on deaf ears, in part because Clinton officials were so focused on the Kashmir dispute and nonproliferation. Clinton, driven by the unshakable assumption that Kashmir was one of the world's most dangerous "nuclear flashpoints" and so needed to be defused, emphasized "preventive diplomacy" and was determined to "cap, roll back, and eventually eliminate" India's nuclear capabilities. Of course, Clinton's approach ran headlong into India's core national security concerns -- territorial integrity and preserving its nuclear option. Pressed by Washington to circumscribe its strategic capabilities, New Delhi reacted by testing nuclear weapons.

But even as it faced U.S. sanctions, New Delhi also began to proclaim that India was a natural ally of the United States. Although the Clinton administration was not interested in an alliance, the nuclear tests forced the United States to engage India seriously for the first time in five decades. That engagement did not resolve the nuclear differences, but it did bring Clinton to India in March 2000 -- the first American presidential visit to India in 22 years. Clinton's personal charm, his genuine empathy for India, and his unexpected support of India in the 1999 war with Pakistan succeeded in improving the atmospherics of the relations and in putting New Delhi on Washington's radar screen in a new way.

It took Bush, however, to transform the strategic context of U.S.-Indian relations. Convinced that India's influence will stretch far beyond its immediate neighborhood, Bush has reconceived the framework of U.S. engagement with New Delhi. He has removed many of the sanctions, opened the door for high-tech cooperation, lent political support to India's own war on terrorism, ended the historical U.S. tilt toward Pakistan on Kashmir, and repositioned the United States in the Sino-Indian equation by drawing closer to New Delhi.

India has responded to these sweeping changes by backing the Bush administration on missile defense, the International Criminal Court, and finding alternative approaches to confronting global warming. It lent active support to Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan by protecting U.S. assets in transit through the Strait of Malacca in 2002, agreed to work with the United States on multinational military operations outside of the UN framework, and, in 2005 and 2006, voted twice with Washington against Iran -- an erstwhile Indian ally -- at the International Atomic Energy Agency. India also came close to sending a division of troops to Iraq in the summer of 2003 before pulling back at the last moment. Every one of these actions marked a big departure in Indian foreign policy. And although disappointed by India's decision to stay out of Iraq, the Bush administration recognized that India was in the midst of a historic transformation of its foreign policy -- and kept faith that India's own strategic interests would continue to lead it toward deeper political cooperation with Washington. New Delhi's persistence in reaching out to Washington since 1991 has been driven by the belief that only by fundamentally changing its relationship with the world's sole superpower could it achieve its larger strategic objectives: improving its global position and gaining leverage in its relations with other great powers.

But India's ability to engage everyone at the same time might soon come to an end. As U.S.-Chinese tensions grow and Washington looks for ways to manage China's influence, questions about India's attitude toward the new power politics will arise: Can India choose to remain "nonaligned" between the United States and China, or does India's current grand strategy show a clear bias toward the United States?

The nuclear pact unveiled by Bush and Singh in July 2005 -- and consolidated when Bush went to New Delhi in March 2006 -- was an effort by Washington to influence the ultimate answer to that question. Bush offered to modify U.S. nonproliferation laws (subject to approval by Congress, of course) and revise the global nuclear order to facilitate full cooperation with India on civilian nuclear energy. New Delhi, in return, has promised to separate its civilian and military nuclear programs, place its civilian nuclear plants under international safeguards, and abide by a range of nonproliferation obligations. India's interest in such a deal has been apparent for a long time. Having failed to test weapons before the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty was drafted, in 1968, India was trapped in an uncomfortable position vis-à-vis the nuclear order: it was not willing to give up the nuclear option, but it could not be formally accommodated by the nonproliferation regime as a nuclear weapons state.

India's motives for wanting a change in the nuclear regime are thus obvious. But for the Bush administration, the deal is less about nuclear issues than it is about creating the basis for a true alliance between the United States and India -- about encouraging India to work in the United States' favor as the global balance of power shifts. Ironically, it was the lack of a history of mutual trust and cooperation -- stemming in part from past nuclear disputes -- that convinced the Bush administration that a nuclear deal was necessary.

AN IMPOSSIBLE ALLY?

Many critics argue that the Bush administration's hopes for an alliance are misplaced. They insist that the traditionally nonaligned India will never be a true ally of the United States. But such critics misunderstand India's nonalignment, as well as the nature of its realpolitik over the past 60 years. Contrary to a belief that is especially pervasive in India itself, New Delhi has not had difficulty entering into alliances when its interests so demanded. Its relationship with the Soviet Union, built around a 1971 peace and friendship treaty, had many features of an alliance (notwithstanding India's claim that such ties were consistent with nonalignment); the compact was in many ways a classic response to the alignment of Washington, Beijing, and Islamabad. India has also had treaty-based security relationships with two of its smaller neighbors, Bhutan and Nepal, that date back to 1949-50 -- protectorate arrangements that were a reaction to China's entry into Tibet.

In fact, there is no contradiction between India's alleged preference for "moralpolitik" (in opposition to pure power politics, or Machtpolitik) and the Bush administration's expectation of an alliance with India. New Delhi is increasingly replacing the idea of "autonomy," so dear to Indian traditionalists, with the notion of India's becoming a "responsible power." (Autonomy is thought appropriate for weak states trying to protect themselves from great-power competition but not for a rising force such as India.) As India starts to recognize that its political choices have global consequences, it will become less averse to choosing sides on specific issues. Alliance formation and balancing are tools in the kits of all great powers -- and so they are likely to be in India's as well.

That India is capable of forming alliances does not, however, mean that it will necessarily form a long-term one with the United States. Whether it does will depend on the extent of the countries' shared interests and their political capacity to act on them together. The Bush administration expects that such shared interests -- for example, in balancing China and countering radical Islam in the Middle East -- will provide the basis for long-term strategic cooperation. This outcome is broadly credible, but it is by no means inevitable, especially given the United States' seeming inability to build partnerships based on equality.

When it comes to facing a rising China, India's tendency to engage in regional balancing with Beijing has not come to an end with the proclamation of a strategic partnership between the two nations. Indeed, preventing China from gaining excessive influence in India's immediate neighborhood and competing with Beijing in Southeast Asia are still among the more enduring elements of India's foreign policy. Despite Western concerns about the military regime in Myanmar, New Delhi has vigorously worked to prevent Yangon from falling completely under Beijing's influence, and India's military ties with the Southeast Asian nations are expanding rapidly. In 2005, when Pakistan pushed for giving China observer status in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, India acted quickly to bring Japan, South Korea, and the United States in as well. Given India's deep-seated reluctance to play second fiddle to China in Asia and the Indian Ocean region -- and the relative comfort of working with a distant superpower -- there is a structural reason for New Delhi to favor greater security cooperation with Washington.

In the Middle East, too, India has a common interest with the United States in preventing the rise of radical Islam, which poses an existential threat to India. Given its large Muslim population -- at nearly 150 million, the third largest in the world -- and the ongoing tensions stemming from the subcontinent's partition, India has in the past acted on its own to avert the spread of radical Islam. When Washington aligned with conservative Islamic forces in the Middle East during the Cold War, India's preference was for secular nationalist forces in the region. When the United States acted ambivalently toward the Taliban in the mid-1990s, India worked with Russia, Iran, and the Central Asian states to counter the Taliban by supporting the Northern Alliance. Now, although some in India are concerned that alignment with the United States might make India a prime target for Islamist extremists, there is no way India can compromise with radical Islam, which threatens its very unity.

But shared interests do not automatically produce alliances. The inequality of power between the two countries, the absence of a habit of political cooperation between them, and the remaining bureaucratic resistance to deeper engagement in both capitals will continue to limit the pace and the scope of strategic cooperation between India and the United States. Still, there is no denying that India will have more in common with the United States than with the other great powers for the foreseeable future.

While New Delhi has acknowledged that U.S. support is necessary for India's rise to be successful, Washington has recognized India's potentially critical role in managing emerging challenges to global order and security. As a major beneficiary of accelerating globalization, India could play a crucial role in ensuring that other developing countries manage their transitions as successfully as it has, that is, by taking advantage of opportunities while working to reduce the pain of disruption. Given the pace of its expansion and the scale of its economy, India will also become an important force in ensuring that the unfolding global redistribution of economic power occurs in an orderly fashion. Meanwhile, India could become a key player in the effort to modernize the politics of the Middle East. If nothing else, India's success in ensuring the rights and the integration of its own Muslim minority and in reaching peace with Pakistan would have a powerful demonstration effect.

To secure a long-term partnership with India, Washington must build on the argument of "Indian exceptionalism" that it has advanced in defense of the recent nuclear pact, devising a range of India-specific policies to deepen cooperation. India is unlikely, however, to become a mere subsidiary partner of the United States, ready to sign on to every U.S. adventure and misadventure around the world. It will never become another U.S. ally in the mold of the United Kingdom or Japan. But nor will it be an Asian France, seeking tactical independence within the framework of a formal alliance.

Given the magnitude of the global security challenges today, the United States needs more than meek allies. It should instead be looking to win capable and compatible partners. A rising India may be difficult at times, but it will act broadly to defend and promote the many interests it shares with Washington. Assisting India's rise, then, is in the United States' own long-term interest.


          FADA seeks rollback of decision to deny input tax credit on all stock   
Under GST, a government-appointed panel has made provisions for dealers to only claim 60% input tax credit on spares which have been in stock for less than a year.
          The Real Secret of Cambodia’s Mythic Warrior: Archaeological Insight   
By Kent Davis
Originally posted at http://www.devata.org/2012/03/the-real-secret-of-cambodias-mythic-warrior-archaeological-insight/

…like a good Indiana Jones movie, the real story of this lost treasure began with a flash of archaeological insight in a remote Asian jungle half a world away….

Koh Ker, Cambodia – Protests from the Kingdom of Cambodia recently halted the multi-million dollar Sotheby’s sale of an ancient stone statue with the support of the United States government. When the Cambodians sought help bringing the thousand-year-old Khmer statue back to their country the New York Times ran a detailed article entitled “Mythic Warrior Is Captive in Global Art Conflict.”

10th century Cambodian sculpture previously scheduled for a multi-million dollar Sotheby’s sale.
Their investigation reveals that the legal and moral issues surrounding the ownership and sale of ancient art are quite complex. In this case, one generous art collector may actually provide a positive solution. But like a good Indiana Jones movie, the real story of this lost treasure began with a flash of archaeological insight in a remote Asian jungle half a world away.

Mystery of the Missing Men of Koh Ker

One thousand years ago, the Khmer Empire ruled most of what is now Southeast Asia from its capital in Angkor. During their heyday, the architecturally and artistically sophisticated Khmer people created some of humanity’s most extraordinary stone temples and statues. Apart from a few stone inscriptions, however, no written records of the civilization survived. Out of necessity, archaeologists have had no alternative but to piece the story of the Khmer people together, clue by clue and stone by stone.

Rising above 30 meters in height, Koh Ker’s central temple-mountain of Prasat Thom was built 100 years before Angkor Wat. Photo: Khmersearch, Panoramio.
Early in the 10th century (for reasons that are still unclear), King Jayavarman IV and his son Harsavarman II relocated the empire’s capital from Angkor to an isolated plateau 100 km to the northeast. There they built the city of Koh Ker, a huge new complex of temples and shrines, where they established their throne for a brief 16 year period (928-944 AD). Like all great Khmer cities, Koh Ker was ultimately abandoned and swallowed up by the jungle. The rediscovery of the Khmer civilization by Westerners didn’t begin until French explorers arrived in the second half of the 19th century.

In 2007, stone conservator Simon Warrack was working with the German Apsara Conservation Project (GACP), a scientific organization that had been doing critical restoration on Angkor Wat temple for more than a decade. In May, Warrack took a side trip to the Koh Ker site (Google Map link) to consider future conservation needs there.

At Koh Ker, Warrack noticed two distinctive pedestal platforms in the first enclosure of Prasat Chen. There, by the west gopura (an entry structure), he saw the feet where two statues had clearly been broken off. But the gods that once stood there were nowhere to be found. The mystery sparked his imagination.

The two Koh Ker pedestals as Warrack found them at Prasat Chen in May 2007. The pedestal circled in red shows a fabric section still attached in the center.
Virtually Connecting Ancient Dots…and Stones


From my own research cataloging the devata of Angkor I can attest that field work is generally hot, uncomfortable and distracting. Almost all of my discoveries happen at my desk in Florida examining photos taken weeks or years before at remote locations. Warrack continued his search in similar fashion.

The Norton Simon dvarapala featured in “Adoration and Glory”, p. 149
He pondered the distinctive bases and began searching for photos in books and research archives. Finally, he found a possible solution. In “Adoration and Glory – The Golden Age of Khmer Art” by Emma Bunker and Douglas Latchford one image stood out. It showed a figure identified as a dvarapala (guardian) at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena California. That statue was missing its feet, but many are. The key to solving this puzzle was the unique tail at the bottom of its clothing element. After scanning images and digitally combining them Warrack confirmed the close match between the two fragments.

Warrack’s 2007 digital superimposition of the base and body of the Koh Ker statue.
Warrack immediately wrote a short paper to seek opinions from others in the field of Khmer studies. He forwarded copies to friends and associates as well as to key authorities including the APSARA Authority, which manages the Angkor region’s heritage assets; the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts in Phnom Penh; and the École française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO), a French organization dedicated to Asian studies that has been active in conservation efforts at Angkor since 1907. I met Simon in 2007 shortly after his find and the photos above come from the original article he shared with me.

Everyone who saw his image realized the importance of this observation. Determining the original location of displaced objects can be a huge help in interpreting their meaning and significance within the context of an ancient civilization. The record shows that the Norton Simon piece was acquired legitimately and is on public display for educational, artistic and cultural appreciation. But not all art ends up this way. Much of it disappears into private collections, out of view.

Such was the case of the complimentary statue that stood face to face with this one more than a thousand years ago at the Khmer capital of Koh Ker.

Sotheby's twin Khmer warrior. Note the unbroken base of the fabric tail.
The Long Lost Twin Reappears

In the summer of 2010, a “noble European lady” contacted Sotheby’s to discuss the sale of a “spectacular tenth-century Cambodian sculpture, 160 centimeters in height and exceptionally well carved.” Word got out quickly to the worlds of art and archaeology. When pictures began to circulate it was instantaneously clear that this was the long-lost companion to the statue Warrack had connected to the Norton Simon Museum three years earlier.

Meanwhile, in New York, the matching sculpture was estimated to sell for millions of dollars. According to the owner’s records, she legally acquired the piece in 1975 from the now-defunct London art dealer Spink & Son. The Norton Simon Museum also acquired their piece that year. Some evidence suggests that both statues left Cambodia in the late 1960s, but exactly when and how that happened, and who arranged it, is unknown.

Paraphrasing Sotheby’s Senior Vice President Jane A. Levine, the New York Times article stated “Ms. Levine countered that the statue could have been removed any time in its thousand-year history, and said the word ‘stolen’ was often ‘used loosely.’ ” Meanwhile, Christie’s auction house acquired Spinks in 1993 and claims that the 1975 records of the statue’s origin are “no longer available.”

Regardless of the lack of facts, the ownership of both statues seems quite legal under international laws. Which brings us to a question at the heart of this matter.

Who Should Own Historical Art?

An idealistic answer is “humanity” but even this dream can have unexpected consequences as we’ll discover below. My personal goal would be for historical assets to be accessible to everyone who wants to respect them, preserve them, appreciate them and learn from them. But this philosophy wouldn’t get me through the front door at most of the world’s public institutions holding these assets (let alone to private collections).

Most of us are fortunate enough to live in a free society. We can buy, sell and own personal property within the law. The laws protecting heritage assets have evolved considerably over the past few decades, and they continue to do so. But the fact remains that countless artifacts were legally acquired by collectors (“noble ladies” included) as well as public museums since the beginning of time. Isn’t it their right to display, use and sell their property as they see fit?

Let’s consider some difficult questions raised by recent news:

The taller Buddha of Bamiyan before and after destruction. Photo: Wikipedia.
1. Can a government or private entity decide to demolish old structures? This happens every day in every city around the world. Sometimes historical societies rally to save a site. Sometimes they can’t, as seen in the shocking annihilation of the Buddhas of Bamiyan. Was that government right? Were those people right? And who are you to judge? Do you live there?

In Sarasota Florida some local groups rallied to have this mural erased from a shop.
2. Can a government or private entity destroy something offensive or blasphemous to their values or religion? How far does freedom of expression go? This Yale article discusses the destruction of Buddha images in the Maldives. But it also mentions things like Henry VIII’s systematic destruction of all the monasteries in England, Wales and Ireland. Near my home in Sarasota Florida a debate has run for months about erasing a mural that may promote gangs. Acts of artistic control and destruction happen all the time.

Sunken treasure found by Odyssey Marine 1700 feet deep in the Atlantic Ociean.
3. Can a private group use its own funds to recover or preserve historical objects that were clearly abandoned by the original owners hundreds or even thousands of years earlier? In other words, does everything actually belong to some hypothetical “rightful owner”? And who owned these things before them? Odyssey Marine Exploration in Tampa Florida just got a harsh lesson in how arbitrarily this question can be answered. Odyssey spent years working to locate and salvage a ship in international waters off the coast of Portugal. It lay, unknown and untouched for two centuries in 1700 feet of water. US courts just ruled against Odyssey and returned all the artifacts to Spain.

Ironically, that silver and gold was mined in Peru by peasants working under slave-like conditions. Peru, of course, came under Spanish control in the 16th century when conquistadors brutally subjugated the Inca civilization in their quest for territory, power and treasure. But to the US courts, 200 years of ownership was enough to confiscate assets for an “original” owner…but not 400 years. Peru’s claim to the artifacts was ignored.

On the other side of the gold coin, salvage operations generally destroy much of the archaeological evidence that exists on a wreck site. I took an archaeological research diver workshop at a Florida galleon site, and I’ve also had the privilege of discussing this topic with the father of underwater archaeology, George Bass. I am quite opposed to the wholesale destruction of history to recover precious metals on land or at sea.

But in this case, Odyssey Marine consistently gathers a lot of archaeological data from their sites. And is it reasonable to ask when and how carefully archaeologists would be excavating this particular site more than half a kilometer deep? It seems we can all learn much from Odyssey’s digital photos, detailed site maps and the thousands of objects recovered. More than we would have known if the site was never found. Now the responsibility falls to Spain to educate and inspire us with their recovered objects. The world watches.

The “Angel of Beng Mealea” - March 5, 2006 and February 12, 2007.
4. Do poor people have the right to take abandoned objects from public places just to survive? I wrote about my own painful experience with this at Beng Mealea in this article “Death of an Angel.”

There are countless examples. There will be countless more. Each situation is different. Right and wrong are not always clear. And certainly never appear the same to opposing parties in a disagreement.

Back in 2008 I bought a used car legally. But what if the original owner (or the factory, or the country where it was built) tried to reclaim it because “I parked it too long” or “I wasn’t taking care of it” or “they want to study it” or “it belongs in the original place”? I can’t say I’d be too happy.

But there are solutions to these issues…as there are to most human conflicts: communication, empathy and diplomacy. Fortunately, a combination of these factors may lead to a resolution to the quandary of the Sotheby’s statue sale.

Collectors Who Share

Cultural sensitivity about who historical objects should belong to is a fairly new concept. As noted above people have the right to own private property. This has been going on for a long time. Humans are an acquisitive species by nature.

It’s worth noting that some of the most successful “acquirers” (Rockefeller, Carnegie, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates come to mind) have also proven themselves as some of our most generous givers. And some art collectors have proven themselves in this way, too. After a lifetime of actively hunting, obsessively gathering and painstakingly preserving the rare objects they crave…many end up donating their collections to public institutions.

In the world of Khmer art, Douglas Latchford, co-author of “Adoration and Glory” with art historian Emmy Bunker, is one example. He began collecting Khmer artifacts 56 years ago (1956). Over the years he and his friends have shared financial gifts with the National Museum of Cambodia. More significantly, he is the museum’s biggest contributor of artifacts (read more about Douglas Latchford on KI-Media).

Now another collector may assist with a solution to the thorny situation of the Koh Ker statue at Sotheby’s.

Dr. István Zelnik, founder of the Gold Museum in Budapest, Hungary.
During the 1970s, Dr. István Zelnik served as a Hungarian diplomat in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Like many passionate collectors he invested his money in rare books, antiques and works of art. Motivated by a love of art and curiosity about the objects he found, he became an increasingly sought after consulting expert for museums and archaeologists around the world. In 2011 his dreams culminated with his greatest achievement: founding the Zelnik István Southeast Asian Gold Museum in Budapest Hungary.

In a statement to the New York Times Dr. Zelnik expressed the possibility that he may purchase the statue for donation to the people of Cambodia. A generous, diplomatic and expedient solution in our complex world. The owner would be compensated for her private property, huge amounts of time and money would not be wasted on legal litigation, and the people who respect and admire the art of the Khmer people could once again see this expression of creativity in the land where it was born.

I wish him success and encourage him along with Mr. Latchford and other collectors to continue sharing the objects of their passion with the world.

The two mythic Cambodian warriors as they one faced each other at Koh Ker. Below, Simon Warrack asks if they can one day be reunited?
Could Two Ancient Brothers Meet Again?

To conclude this article I contacted Simon Warrack to ask his current ideas about the ownership of historic art. Here’s what he had to say:
“The concept of “ownership” may be the wrong place to start when considering important objects. It is the value and significance of an object that should be thought of first, rather than who it belongs to.

”The questions should really be about the object itself, not who it belongs to. Where is the object best valued? Where is it best appreciated? Where is it best understood? Where is it best conserved?

“Who an object belongs to should be secondary. As one of my colleagues observed ‘Objects are not important because they are in museums. They are in museums because they are important.’ The object itself is the important factor, not the museum that possesses it.

“After finding the empty pedestals seven years ago actually seeing both Koh Ker statues is remarkable. The possibility now exists that, one day, they may be reunited.

“Today, I called HE Hab Touch to ask his opinion on this matter. He is optimistic but noted that at this early stage no decisions or agreements are in place. However, Cambodia is ready and there are at least two suitable, secure locations where the pieces could be located for public appreciation. In the National Museum, of course, but plans are also being made for a museum at Preah Vihear, the same province where Koh Ker is located. There, the museum will become a gateway to the World Heritage Site and these figures could, once again, provide a wonderful center piece to welcome visitors from around the world.”
Simon closed by mentioning a concept from the book, Who Owns Antiquity by James Cuno. Cuno observes that national museums in wealthy nations host “encyclopedic” collections of objects from around the world, while national museums in less wealthy countries host indigenous local art relating to their own history.

He suggests that the global exchange of art would be a good direction to head in. Just as it is good for a child in Pasadena to experience the art of Cambodia, wouldn’t it also be wonderful for a child of Cambodia to see pieces of American history? Or the creations of Greece, Rome, Egypt, Mexico, etc.?

With communication, empathy and diplomacy we can all grow and learn.

          China may target slower economic growth: media   
This file photo shows a woman riding her tricycle, loaded with polystyrene boxes, in Shanghai. China might set an annual economic growth target below 8.0 percent for this year, state media said, as the leaders of the world's second largest economy acknowledge it is slowing.

03 March 2012
AFP News

China might set an annual economic growth target below 8.0 percent for this year, state media said, as the leaders of the world's second largest economy acknowledge it is slowing.

The report in the official Shanghai Securities News came before Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao delivers an annual policy address to lawmakers on Monday, when he is due to announce economic goals for the year.

China's economy expanded by 9.2 percent last year, slowing from 10.4 percent in 2010, as global turbulence and efforts to tame high inflation put the brakes on growth.

"An economic growth rate adjusted down to around 7.5 percent will not have any impact on economic development," the newspaper quoted Li Guozhang, an academic at Lanzhou University and member of an advisory body to the National People's Congress, or legislature, as saying.


China typically exceeds the annual growth target unveiled every March at the parliament session, and most economists are predicting GDP growth of 8.0-8.5 percent for China this year.

The 2011 increase in gross domestic product was well above the government's 8.0 percent target.

In a bid to counter slowing exports, the government has cut reserve requirements for banks twice in the last three months to increase lending and give the economy a boost.

Investment bank Goldman Sachs has forecast China will set a lower GDP growth target of 7.5 percent at the legislative meeting, but said that implied the government was willing to accept slower growth.

"A slightly lower GDP growth target rate is sensible given the fall in the level of potential GDP growth," Goldman said Friday in a research report.

"It can also be viewed as a gesture from the central government that local governments should not focus solely on the pace of GDP growth."

China has sought to prod local governments to focus on the quality of growth instead of its speed, while also seeking to shift away from dependence on exports to other engines such as domestic consumption.

China could target containing inflation to less than 4.0 percent this year at the upcoming congress, the Shanghai Securities News said, amid worries surging prices could spark social unrest.

For all of 2011, China's consumer price inflation was 5.4 percent, official figures showed, well above the government's full-year target of 4.0 percent and higher than the 2010 rate of 3.3 percent.

          Politics Aside, Counting Crowds Is Tricky   
Updated at 3 p.m. ET on Jan. 27 There has been a lot of arguing about the size of crowds in the past few days. Estimates for President Trump's inauguration and the Women's March a day later vary widely. And for crowd scientists, that's pretty normal. "I think this is expected," says Mubarak Shah , director of the Center for Research in Computer Vision at the University of Central Florida. Shah says he encountered something similar during mass protests in Barcelona, Spain a couple of years ago. "The government was claiming smaller number than the opposition was claiming," he says. Counting quarrels have popped up during previous events in the U.S. as well. During the Million Man March in 1995, the National Park Service estimated the crowd to be far smaller than the organizers claimed. The controversy led Congress to bar the Park Service from doing head counts on the National Mall. The reason that disagreements frequently arise is that there's no foolproof way to get an accurate head
          Warrant sought for shooter   
Thursday, 01 March 2012
May Titthara and David Boyle
The Phnom Penh Post

The Ministry of Interior has sought a warrant for the suspect who shot three people at a protest outside a shoe factory last week amid more allegations from government and police officials that the perpetrator was Bavet town governor Chhouk Bandith.

Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said yesterday that a complaint had been filed seeking an arrest warrant for the suspect.

The shooter was not police, he was a civil person,” he said, adding that the ministry would go ahead and arrest the suspect if the court decided to issue a warrant, before declining to provide further details.

The shootings took place outside the Kaoway Sports Ltd factory in Svay Rieng’s Bavet town on Monday.


A police officer who was an eyewitness at the scene of the shooting and asked not be named, said Chhouk Bandith became enraged after a worker threw a stone at his head while he tried to find a solution to the protest.

“So he took the gun from his waist to shoot three times into the sky to protect himself [and] get out of the crowd, but I don’t why the bullets hit the workers,” he said.

A senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also said the perpetrator was Chhouk Bandith, but declined to comment further.

Both of Chhouk Bandith’s phones have remained switched off since he told the Post on Tuesday that he was aware of rumours that he had shot the three workers, which he categorically denied.

But Keo Kong, Bavet municipal police chief, said his part of the investigation had now concluded and in his opinion, Chhouk Bandith was not the perpetrator.

“National police have got everything, but from my point of view, I don’t think that Mr Chhouk Bandith did it,” he said.

Eyewitness reports of the incident suggest a man dressed in a khaki police-style uniform flanked by a bodyguard and another man dressed in police clothing stepped out of a Lexus, fired into the crowd and ran to a nearby black Toyota Camry, which he fled in.

Rights groups and the opposition Sam Rainsy Party have attacked authorities for taking so long to arrest a suspect in a shooting that took place in front of police officers in a crowd of some 6,000 protesters.

They have also asked that security camera footage recorded during the incident, which has reportedly been viewed by MOI officials, be released to reassure the public the real perpetrator was being pursued.

Mathieu Pellerin, a monitoring consultant for the rights group Licadho, said testimony from eyewitnesses and the victims’ injuries suggested the shootings were intentional, but he stressed the most important thing was that a suspect be arrested and an impartial trial conducted.

“What matters is the evidence is brought forward to the court, and if the evidence is showing that there was attempted murder, then that person, however important they may be, should be charged with attempted murder,” he said.

The shooting put three women in hospital: 18-year-old Keo Neth, 23-year-old Nuth Sakhorn and 21-year-old Buot Chinda – who was left in critical condition after a bullet pierced her chest.

Buot Chinda’s older brother, Sam Sinat, said yesterday his sister continued to receive medical treatment, and labelled authorities “hopeless” for failing to arrest a perpetrator.

“I want the authorities to arrest the perpetrator and send them to jail to provide justice for the victim,” he said.

The Kaoway Sports factory supplies sportswear giant PUMA, which has previously said it was investigating the case.

          Can you beat that?   

A Cambodian woman rides on her motorbike loaded with vegetables for sale in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 01 March 2012.
A Cambodian motorized cart loaded with firewoods drives on a street in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 01 March 2012. Cambodia's economy is expected to grow 6.5 percent in 2012, up from 5.75 percent in the year 2011, the International Monetary Fund said in its annual review, adding that government policies to boost the investment climate were paying off. EPA/MAK REMISSA - 1 March, 2012

          Learn of the adapted strategies and Access SEO's Anatomy on their Campaigns   
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          Kingdom’s arable land all but gone   
A map created by the rights group Licadho shows economic land concessions and mining concessions in Cambodia. Map Supplied

Thursday, 01 March 2012
May Titthara and David Boyle
The Phnom Penh Post

If the government continues to grant economic land and mining concessions at the current rate, there will be no more arable land left in the country to give away within one year, a researcher from the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights said yesterday.

Pointing to the vast increase in economic land concessions granted last year alone, which rights group Adhoc places at about 800,000 hectares, Ouch Leng, the head of the CCHR’s land reform program, said only 300,000 hectares of unclaimed arable land remained.

“The government can grant licenses for one more year because the remaining arable land is only 386,294 hectares,” he said.


Exploratory mining concessions had been included in this calculation, he said, because while firms granted these rights did not technically own the land, they acted like it in practice by erecting fences and expelling villagers from the area.

Ouch Leng said increasing outbreaks of civil unrest across the country such as the protests in Kandal, Kratie and Ratanikkiri province were sounding a clear message that Prime Minister Hun Sen had begun to heed.

On Monday, the premier canceled all 35 commercial fishing lots on the Tonle Sap lake, leaving the country’s most fertile fishing ground entirely for small scale fishermen.

Beng Hong Socheat Khnmero, spokesman for the Ministry of Land Management, said ELCs were not the responsibility of his ministry and deferred questions to Ministry of Agriculture officials, who could not be reached for comment.

But figures released by the Ministry of Agriculture on Tuesday showed 1.19 million hectares had now been granted in ELCs, far below findings from rights groups Adhoc and Licadho released late last year, which put the number closer to 2 million.

A map from Licadho obtained by the Post shows that 54.90 per cent of all arable land in Cambodia had been absorbed by ELC’s alone up until November 2011.

Am Sam Ath, senior investigator at Licadho, said that the latest figures show two-thirds of all arable land in Cambodia has now been given away through ELCs.

“We [Cambodians] are dependent on agriculture, but two-thirds of arable land has been granted as economic land concessions,” he said.

“I don’t know if the government is worried, but NGOs are.”

Statistics released by Adhoc last year found that when all types of private concessions were added together, including forest concessions, about 39 per cent of Cambodia’s entire land mass has been granted to private firms.

          Case 004 investigation rolls on   
Thursday, 01 March 2012
Bridget Di Certo
The Phnom Penh Post

Reserve international Co-Investigating Judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet’s investigation into government-opposed Case 004 will continue after the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s Pre-Trial Chamber judges yesterday failed to agree on key issues that could have stopped it in its tracks.

The controversial case, which Prime Minister Hun Sen has said “will not be allowed”, involves the alleged crimes of three former Khmer Rouge cadre, including one current commune chief in Oddar Meanchey’s Anglong Veng district, a former Khmer Rouge stronghold.

Case 004 investigations cover a range of crime sites including former security centres and execution sites in Kampong Cham, Kampong Thom, Pursat, Battambang, Banteay Meanchey and Takeo provinces.


The three suspects are allegedly being investigated for their responsibility in the deaths of tens of thousands of individuals through executions, starvation, disease and genocidal massacres.

The UN-nominated Kasper-Ansermet has been at loggerheads with his Cambodian counterpart since he assumed office upon his predecessor’s resignation.

Cambodian Co-Investigating Judge You Bunleng has refused to recognise Kasper-Ansermet as his legitimate counterpart until the government’s Supreme Council of the Magistracy “approves” him, and has stonewalled all attempts by Kasper-Ansermet to perform judicial duties.

Kasper-Ansermet took two proposals to You Bunleng in December. One was to resume investigations in Case 003, which was closed by his predecessor and You Bunleng. The second was to continue investigations in Case 004.

The two international judges in the Chamber, Rowan Downing and Chang-Ho Chung, fully accept Laurent Kasper-Ansermet’s power to act, while the three Cambodian judges in the Chamber, like You Bunleng, refuse to acknowledge his authority.

          Judges remain at loggerheads; Theary Seng out as civil party   
Thursday, 01 March 2012
Bridget Di Certo
The Phnom Penh Post

Cambodian judges and officers at the Khmer Rouge tribunal are continuing to block civil party applicants from participating in the government-opposed cases 003 and 004, while international judges continue to base their decisions on civil party rights in spurring the two cases forward.

Outspoken Khmer Rouge victim advocate Theary Seng was yesterday rejected by default as a civil party in controversial cases 003 and 004 after Pre-Trial Chamber judges issued lengthy considerations but could not reach a consensus on her case.

Cambodian judges in the Pre-Trial Chamber said there were no relevant suspects in the cases as no one had been charged and so rejected Theary Seng’s appeal to be granted civil party status. “Errors committed” by then Co-Investigating Judge Siegfried Blunk and his Cambodian counterpart You Bunleng, whom rejected Theary Seng’s civil party application, were so grievous as to render any determination of the application “unfair”, they said.

Due to a failure to agree, the rejection of Theary Seng’s civil party application stood. Theary Seng has previously denounced the court as a “sham” and attempted to cease all participation in proceedings.


International judges Rowan Downing and Katinka Lahuis noted in their decision that the co-investigating judges still had discretion to grant Theary Seng civil party status, as UN-nominated reserve Co-Investigating Judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet had with New Zealand civil party Rob Hamill.

However, lawyers for Hamill said in a press release yesterday that despite Kasper-Ansermet granting their client civil party status, Cambodians court officials have blocked their access to the case file in Case 003 on the basis that the national side of the court does not recognise Kasper-Ansermet’s authority.

The lawyers called the action “a stealthy attempt to override the decision of Judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet” as there had been no public information released that the national side of the court would not recognise any decisions of Kasper-Ansermet.

          Thailand Pushes Xayaburi Dam   
Xayaburi work goes on (photo credit: Suthep Kritsanavarin)

Wednesday, 29 February 2012
Written by Our Correspondent
Asian Sentinel


Despite reservations from Mekong Basin countries, construction continues

Over the opposition of environmental groups and the governments of other countries in the Mekong Basin, the Thai government is pushing ahead with the construction of the controversial Xayaburi Dam, environmentalists say.

Although the Cambodian and Vietnamese governments have expressed concerns about the dam and work was supposed to stop until further study has been completed, preliminary construction on the giant dam deep inside Laos, is continuing, according to International Rivers, which opposes the structure.


Large numbers of workers have been on the job for two years to build access roads and facilities for the project, said Pianporn Deetes, Thailand Campaign Coordinator for International Rivers. Ch. Karnchang, Thailand’s largest construction company, has the contract to build the dam for the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, better known as EGAT, which has contracted to 95 percent of the energy from the dam.

“It doesn’t mean the dam can’t be stopped,” Deets told Asia Sentinel in a telephone interview. “We believe there are many channels that we can try to cancel the PPA (power purchase agreement).”

Thailand appears to be defying an agreement in early December by the Mekong River Commission Council, comprising water and environment ministers from Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, to seek international support to produce a more complete study of the dam, which is intended to produce 1,280 megawatts of power for the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand.

The Mekong supports the largest freshwater fishery in the world. The downstream governments are concerned that the Xayaburi and 10 other dams planned for the Mekong, which feeds a river basin populated by 60 million people, will do irreparable damage to the river’s habitat.

Environmentalists say anywhere between 23 and 100 fish species could be adversely affected.

The dam, 810 meters wide and 32 meters high, is opposed by 263 NGOs from 51 countries. Thousands of people in the region have urged that it be cancelled. Its primary objective is to generate, along with electricity, foreign exchange earnings for financing socio-economic development in Laos, a landlocked and obscure country of 6.8 million mostly poverty-stricken people. Laos is seeking to develop its way into prosperity through extensive investment in dams, mines and plantations, hoping for jobs, rising incomes and revenues to end poverty.

Wracked by incessant bombing and the dropping of tens of millions of antipersonnel mines by the Americans during the Vietnam War, Laos remains one of the world's poorest countries, ranking 135th in the world. Nearly 41 percent of the population are under the age of 14. It is one of the few remaining one-party Communist countries left on the planet. Subsistence agriculture accounts for as much as 30 percent of gross domestic product, according to the CIA Factbook, and provides 80 percent of total employment.

Ten dams are already in operation across the country, generating 669 megawatts of power. Another eight are expected to be operational by this year, generating an additional 2,531 megawatts. Nineteen more are planned and 42 more are the subject of feasibility studies, almost all of them financed and developed by foreign interests expecting to turn a profit from electricity generation. Thailand is to import up to 7,000 megawatts by 2015. Vietnam will take another 3,000 megawatts by 2015 possibly rising to 5,000 megawatts by 2020 in accordance with an understanding reached in December 2006, according to a 2010 study titled Development in LAO PDR: the Food Security Paradox, produced for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and written by researcher David Fullbrook.

In 2010, the Mekong River Commission commissioned a strategic environmental assessment that recommended all decisions on Mekong mainstream dams be deferred for a period of at least 10 years while further studies can be conducted.

“We are afraid the fish migration could be destroyed,” Deets said. “There are 60 million people in the basin who depend for their livelihood on the river.”

The Thai government, she said in a prepared statement, “has ignored the agreements made last year among the four regional governments and the concerns expressed by Cambodia and Vietnam. With more than eight provinces in Thailand at risk from the Xayaburi Dam’s transboundary impacts, the state has also disregarded its duty to protect its own people from harm. It’s irresponsible to push forward with this dam, when the project’s impacts on Thailand have yet to be adequately studied.”

“The Mekong River Commission governments have not yet reached agreement on the Xayaburi Dam nor have they closed the prior consultation process,” the press release quoted Lam Thi Thu Suu, Director of the Centre for Social Research and Development in Vietnam, as saying. “By committing to purchase power from the dam and moving forward with the project’s implementation, EGAT and Ch. Karnchang are violating the trust and goodwill of Thailand’s neighbors. No construction on the Xayaburi Dam should proceed while further study is underway.”

Four Thai banks have already provided financial support for the dam including the state-owned Krung Thai Bank. When the Commission asked about the steps they took to examine the project’s environmental and social impacts, however, the banks were not able to provide detailed information.

“It’s astonishing to think that the financiers of this project have not taken the dam’s significant environmental and social impacts more seriously. Even a five minute search on the internet would reveal numerous media reports that highlight the concerns of the Thai people,” Deets said. “The recklessness of EGAT’s and the Thai companies’ pursuit of the project is likely to become a catastrophe for our country’s reputation. We call on the Thai government to immediately cancel the power purchase agreement and for Thai banks to withdraw financing from the Xayaburi Dam.”

An independent study has already concluded that the Xayaburi Dam’s electricity is not needed to meet Thailand’s demand for energy in the coming decades.

          Cambodia to restrict fishing in Mekong River to save endangered dolphins   
March 1, 2012

PHNOM PENH (Kyodo) -- Cambodia has decided in principle to regulate fishing in a large stretch of the Mekong River in order to conserve endangered dolphins, a government official said Wednesday.

Touch Seang Tana, chairman of Cambodia's Commission for Conservation and Development of the Mekong River Dolphin Ecotourism Zone, told reporters a new sub-decree on protection of the dolphins has just been finalized and is expected to soon be approved by the Cabinet meeting.

He said the sub-decree covers a 180-kilometer stretch of the Mekong River -- from the border with Laos through Cambodia's two northeastern provinces of Stung Treng and Kratie -- considered to be a key dolphin habitat in need of protection.


He said villagers in the protected area will still be allowed to conduct fishing activities but only with cast nets, not gillnets and fish cages that can trap and drown dolphins. Floating houses will not be allowed in the zone since gillnets can be hidden underneath them.

"We are convinced that the measures will save dolphins from being trapped and drowned in gill nets or fish cages," he said.

The Mekong River subpopulation of the species, which is known as the Irrawaddy Dolphin, has been listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature since 2004. It has been declining since the mid-1970s.

Touch Seang Tana estimated there are more than 100 adult Irrawaddy dolphins left in the Mekong, while international wildlife conservation group WWF recently estimated the number is more like 85.

In January, the commission, the Cambodian government and the WWF signed a document in which they vowed to work together and with a sense of urgency to conserve this endangered species.

          Sotheby's trying to resolve Cambodia relic dispute   

Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Associated Press

Sotheby's is working to help return an ancient statue to Cambodia after the government claimed it had been illegally removed from the country decades ago.

The auction house said Wednesday it took the 1,000-year-old relic off the auction block a day before a sale scheduled for March 24, 2011, after Cambodia sent a letter asking Sotheby's to do so and arrange for its return.

The 5-foot-tall sandstone sculpture of a mythical warrior in an elaborate headdress had been estimated to sell for up to $3 million.

Sotheby's identified the seller as a European collector who purchased the work from a London dealer in 1975, almost two decades before a 1993 Cambodia law prohibited the removal of cultural artifacts without government permission.


The auction house said it informed Cambodia about the statue in writing 4 1/2 months before the sale, in November 2010.

Jane Levine, senior vice president and worldwide compliance director for Sotheby's, said the government did not respond until March 23, 2011, a day before the auction, when the United Nations cultural agency UNESCO contacted the auction house on Cambodia's behalf.

Cambodia "did not allege that the statue constituted stolen property, did not identify any basis to contest the owner's title to the property and did not allege that it would be unlawful for Sotheby's to sell the statue or that Cambodia owned the statue," said Levine.

The Associated Press was not immediately able to obtain the letter.

The story was first reported in New York Times on Wednesday.

The Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a statement that it was working closely with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan and the Cambodian government "to look into the matter and determine the proper course of action."

Spokeswoman Danielle Bennett declined on Wednesday to answer further questions, citing the ongoing investigation.

After the seller and Sotheby's voluntarily withdrew the statue from the sale, the auction house said it asked Cambodia to come up with a solution agreeable to both parties.

In May, Cambodia endorsed a plan to seek a buyer to purchase the statue and donate it to Cambodia. It subsequently identified a Hungarian antiquities collector as a potential buyer, with whom Sotheby's has been in talks, the auction house said.

"We are also very interested in hearing from anyone else who would be interested in participating in such a sale process," added Levine, a former Manhattan federal prosecutor who was appointed to President Barack Obama's Cultural Property Advisory Committee last year. "Sotheby's would like to find a solution that is fair to both Cambodia and to the owner who bought the sculpture in good faith almost 40 years ago."

Cambodian diplomatic officials in the United States were not immediately available for comment Wednesday. Anne LeMaistre, a Phnom Penh-based UNESCO representative who is involved in the talks, told The Times "buying back such items can seem distasteful, but sadly it is not unusual when the country's aim is return of the property."

The work is one of a pair of statues from a temple in Koh Ker, north of the famous Angkor Wat complex of temples.

Archeologists have matched the footless statue to a pedestal and feet at a Cambodian archaeological site. The other statue has been at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, Calif., since 1980, and also has been matched to its base at the site.

Many ancient artifacts were looted and damaged in the 1970s when the Khmer Rouge ruled the country.

Eric Bourdonneau, the archaeologist who matched both statues to their pedestals, told the Times the relics were looted in the early 1970s.

Levine said Sotheby's was aware before accepting the statue for sale that it had come from Koh Ker. But she said it did not know when and how it was removed "as the circumstances of that are to date unknown."

She said the statue was purchased in "good faith" and exported long before the 1993 Cambodian law was passed, "and Cambodia has not claimed otherwise."

Levine said a law dating to the 1920s may have provided certain export restrictions but did not nationalize ownership of Cambodian relics, and therefore could not retroactively "redefine clearly established legal title rights."

          China introduces a communist tablet: the Red Pad [... at a non-proletarian price of US$1,600]   
January 20, 2012
By Molly McHugh
Digital Trends

The extremely expensive tablet will marketed specifically towards party officials.

If you thought iPads were expensive, think again. A new Chinese tablet called the Red Pad will cost $1,600 dollars, but not just anyone can buy it, even if you do have the money.

After heavy criticism over its price from Chinese consumers, marketing and advertising featuring the Red Pad seemingly disappeared. Now, the Economic Times is saying that the manufacturer will only sell the tablet to bureaucrats and not the public. Originally the device was going to be available for anyone with the money (or the ability to subsidize the purchase), but the public backlash was so strong, the manufacturers decided to change its marketing tactics. It now looks like some back-pedaling occurred, and as a result the tablets availability will be limited to only Party officials.

But it’s not only the cost that will appeal to party members either. The Red Pad is specifically built to cater to their needs: the tablet from Red Pad Technology (which is supposedly in cahoots with the country’s Ministry of Information Industry) comes packaged with government database access and integration with the communist mouthpiece website, People’s Daily.

What’s possibly most amusing about the Red Pad is its operating system. The 9.7-inch Red Pad uses the Android OS, which is surprising considering China’s ongoing issues with Google. Aside from its ironic use of this platform and outrageous price, the Red Pad is similar to any other tablet: it features an A9 dual core processor, Wi-Fi and 3G support, 16GB of flash storage, with a sub 10-inch touchscreen display.


Last month we heard that a personalized iPad application was being developed for UK Prime Minister David Cameron. The supposed app would give him immediate access to government affairs and news. While the degree of this app has been questioned (it’s possible it’s merely a secure, Flipboard-like portal to this data), it’s clear that government leaders have become taken with tablets.

          UN protests after Cambodia blocks Khmer Rouge judge [-Does the UN have the gut to pull out of the KRT?]   
Judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet was appointed as Reserve Co-Investigating Judge on 1 December 2010. (Photo: Courtesy of ECCC)
Friday, January 20, 2012
AFP News

The United Nations on Friday protested at Cambodia's rejection of a Swiss judge to the international Khmer Rouge tribunal who has paralyzed probes into two cases opposed by the government.

Cambodia is in "breach" of an accord with the UN setting up the international tribunal into the Khmer Rouges crimes of the 1970s in which up to two million people died, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters.

"This is a matter of serious concern," stated Nesirky who said the Cambodian government had formally notified UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday of its refusal to name Laurent Kasper-Ansermet of Switzerland as co-investigating judge.

"The United Nations continues to support Judge Kasper-Ansermet and Cambodia should take immediate steps to appoint him as international co-investigating judge," the spokesman said.


The tribunal, officially known as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, was set up with one Cambodian investigating judge and one foreign judge. The previous German judge resigned in October following government opposition to further prosecutions linked to the 1975-1979 regime.

Kasper-Ansermet was the official reserve judge and Nesirky stressed that the 2003 accord setting up the court "states unequivocally" that if there is a vacancy the person appointed must be the reserve judge.

The Cambodian government "raised ethical concerns" about Kasper-Ansermet in November, said Nesirky.

"The United Nations thoroughly reviewed the concerns, determined that they were unfounded, and requested that the Supreme Council of the Magistracy proceed with his appointment."

David Scheffer, an American named as special expert on UN assistance to the Cambodia trials, is travelling to Phnom Penh for talks with the government and court officials, the spokesman added.

Kasper-Ansermet has been blocked since his arrival in Phnom Penh in December. The supreme council, the government body charged with rubber-stamping the nomination, has not met.

And the Cambodian co-judge You Bunleng has publicly refused to work with the Swiss. Kasper-Ansermet has in turn accused You Bunleng of blocking "important" information about the two new cases involving five ex-Khmer Rouge members accused of crimes against humanity.

The tribunal has so far completed just one trial. A second is underway but risks being overshadowed by the new controversy.

          Cambodia stands out among CLMV [... for Thai investments]   
January 20, 2012
The Nation

Among Cambodia, Laos, Burma and Vietnam, widely abbreviated as CLMV, Cambodia is the most outstanding investment destination for Thai companies thanks to the country's free-trade policy and abundant natural resources, according to the Trade Negotiations Department.

Srirat Rastapana, director-general of the department, said that though Cambodia was the last to join Asean in 2009, its trade policy is the most liberalised among the four countries under the government’s policy to draw foreign investment and reduce poverty.


"Cambodia sets its sight on infrastructure investment, particularly road connection with neighbouring countries and hydro power plants. Beside, it possesses a competitive edge, over natural resources. Offshore oil and gas reserves were discovered. This could help eradicate poverty, but it depends on the efficiency and transparency of revenue to be derived from the resources," she said.

In 2010, Cambodia attracted FDI worth US$782.6 million (including $349 million from other Asean countries), up 45.2 per cent from the previous year. Among 10 Asean nations, in terms of FDI, it was ranked the 7th. Cambodia is also a member of key international organisations like the World Trade Organisation, International Monetary Fund and Asian Development Bank.

Srirat noted that the Asean community paves way for Thai investment. Low labour cost would also be on the plus side. Attractive investment areas are in parawood processing, hotel, food and spa, aside from construction.

          Yingluck Shinawatra's Foreign Policy   
Thaksin's foreign policy

Friday, 20 January 2012
Written by Pavin Chachavalpongpun
Asia Sentinel

Taking over where Thaksin left off

It has been six months since the July election that brought the first woman into Thailand's top political position—Yingluck Shinawatra.

During this period, Prime Minister Yingluck has encountered several difficult issues, ranging from the devastating floods, the attempt to provide amnesty for her fugitive brother Thaksin, and the increasing cases of lèse-majesté.

But there is one area in which Yingluck has appeared to be doing well so far—foreign affairs. It is fair to say that since Thaksin’s downfall in 2006, Thailand has had no tangible foreign policy. The Samak Sundaravej and Somchai Wongsawat governments were short-lived. And the Abhisit Vejjajiva period was marked by conflicts with neighbouring countries, especially Cambodia.

It is therefore a real test for Yingluck to reinvent Thai diplomacy, the one that departs from antagonism toward neighbouring countries. In terms of Thai-Cambodian relations, Yingluck paid a high-profile visit to Cambodia, as the first country in her introductory tour. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen was gleeful to roll out a red carpet to receive the Thai female premier. For now, relationship between the two countries has returned to normalcy. And the secret to this success is that issues in this bilateral relationship have simply become less politicised, particularly on the Thai part.


Yingluck then went on to visit a number of countries which are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), including Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Laos, Myanmar and recently the Philippines. Symbolic as they were, these visits signalled Thailand’s recovery from political illness at home and its eagerness to take a role in ASEAN. But a question must be asked: How realistic is the Thai eagerness?

During her visit to Naypyidaw in December 2011, Yingluck demonstrated that her government wanted to diversify Thailand’s policy options towards Myanmar, by reaching out to both the government as well as the opposition. Yingluck held a discussion with President Thein Sein and also paid a visit to Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the opposition National League for Democracy. At the end of her tour, Yingluck offered her support for national reconciliation in Myanmar, wishing to see further political reforms in the country long governed by the military.

Can Thailand, despite these bold moves initiated by Yingluck, expect a shift in its foreign policy which was traditionally seeking to achieve national interests at the expense of promoting universal values, such as democracy and human rights protection? My answer is rather pessimistic.

Ultimately, both Yingluck and her foreign minister, Surapong Tovichakchaikul, have no experience in diplomacy. And one must not forget that Yingluck is indeed Thaksin in disguise. Accordingly, it is likely that she will restore the Thaksinized foreign policy which was essentially commerce-driven without any respect for principles.

From 2001-2006, Thailand under Thaksin was so ambitious that it thought it could conquer the world. Thaksin, a successful businessman himself, was confident that he could transform Thailand into a hegemon dominating smaller and weaker states in the region.

Thaksin then bypassed Asean, once a cornerstone of Thai foreign policy. He perceived Asean as a representation of an “old politics”—the kind of politics sullied by rigid bureaucratic processes. Instead, Thaksin invented a myriad of business-centric cooperative frameworks, including the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) and the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS). He also strengthened Thai economic cooperation with major trading partners through the conclusion of many free trade agreements. Undoubtedly, the Thaksin period witnessed the most colourful and innovative foreign policy Thailand ever had had in decades.

The remapping of Thailand in the age of globalisation put Thaksin’s foreign policy on the spotlight—he was tipped to become Asia’s next leader. Thaksin endorsed diplomatic activism; and in this, he wanted to place Thailand at the core of the regional order through which the Thai influence was wholly felt. In the latest reinvention of Thailand as a regional leader, Thaksin also turned the kingdom into a company, run by a CEO prime minister whose task was to evaluate economic costs and benefits in the conduct of diplomacy.

Not only did the content of foreign policy change. The operational mode within the foreign ministry also underwent an extreme makeover. Representatives of the nation and the monarch were now becoming CEO ambassadors who would visit their customer for products demonstrations. While CEO ambassadors were dressed with more power, the role of the Foreign Ministry in the formulation of foreign policy diminished.

The prime minister, his advisory team, and his chosen foreign ministers all sidelined the Foreign Ministry’s officials. And the House of Government became enormously influential in the making of foreign policy.

The radical transformation of the Foreign Ministry has left a deep scar of conflict between those who agreed and disagreed with Thaksin’s approach. And the immense polarization in politics in this post-coup period has further intensified such conflict within this state agency. Yingluck and Surapong must not attempt to politicise foreign policy issues, as seen in the previous administration.

If Thaksin is indeed behind the formulation of Thailand’s foreign policy in this Yingluck era, then he has to learn the mistakes he made while he served as prime minister. Thaksin’s past foreign policy initiatives might have provided his government with a channel to secure Thailand’s supposed national interests. But along the way, he and his family members were accused of stoking their wealth by using state mechanisms.

Yingluck needs to open up the foreign policy decision-making process, making it transparent to the public to avoid any controversy. More importantly, her foreign policy for the next few years, if she will ever serve the full four-year term, will have to be based proportionally on economic interests and good governance. This is because her government has received a popular mandate through democratic means and also because Thailand cannot run away from a new international environment that has become more democratic.

(Pavin Chachavalpongpun is a fellow at Singapore’s Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Pavin is the author of “Reinventing Thailand: Thaksin and His Foreign Policy” (2005). Follow him at www.facebook.com/pavinchachavalpongpun.)

          Bern gives transalpine rail cargo aid to offset high Swiss franc   

GenevaLunch News BERN, SWITZERLAND – Four rail groups are receiving CHF21 million in aid from the Swiss government to offset some of the losses they suffered in 2011 due to the rapid increase in the value of the Swiss franc during the year. All four provide transalpine shipping and use combined or piggyback cargo transport, carrying trucks […]

Bern gives transalpine rail cargo aid to offset high Swiss franc © GenevaLunch News, See license terms.


          Swiss condemn Israel for measures against Palestine   

GenevaLunch News BERN, SWITZERLAND – The Swiss government said Wednesday night 2 November that it condemns Israel for two new measures, voted by the Israeli cabinet Tuesday, shortly after Unesco admitted Palestine as a member. Bern stopped short of calling the measures retaliatory, but it notes that the decision by Tel Aviv to “speed up construction of […]

Swiss condemn Israel for measures against Palestine © GenevaLunch News, See license terms.


          Seco confirms CHF27m in Syrian assets frozen   

GenevaLunch News BERN, SWITZERLAND – The Swiss Secretariat for Economic Affairs confirmed to ATS and AP news agencies Sunday that the government has blocked more than CHF27 million in Syrian assets, although it has not confirmed if they belong to Bachar al-Assad, president. He and his brother are on a list of 23 persons whose assets were […]

Seco confirms CHF27m in Syrian assets frozen © GenevaLunch News, See license terms.


          Duvalier money goes to court after 25 years (update)   

GenevaLunch News Update 12:50  Bern / Zurich, Switzerland (GenevaLunch) – The argument over who gets the Duvalier millions, some CHF5.8 million of them, will finally be heard in court, with the Swiss government 2 May initiating forfeiture proceedings at the Swiss Administrative High Court. The proceedings are the first under a Swiss law that went into effect […]

Duvalier money goes to court after 25 years (update) © GenevaLunch News, See license terms.


          Satellite slots at risk in deadlock   
THAILAND may lose at least two of its satellite orbital slots if the government fails to resolve longstanding differences with Thaicom on proposed reforms for the satellite sector, the satellite operator’s chief executive, Paiboon Panuwattanawong warned yesterday.
          Jakarta to further cut dwell times    
THE INDONESIAN GOVERNMENT is working on two economic policy packages that it hopes will reduce average shipping dwell times at seaports by one day to 1.9 days.
          Govt queers Vedanta buy   
Vedanta's problems with the government show no signs of an early resolution.The mining ministry's inordinate delay in giving approval to group firm Hi...
          Does US Have Right To Data On Overseas Servers? We're About To Find Out   
Long-time Slashdot reader quotes Ars Technica:The Justice Department on Friday petitioned the US Supreme Court to step into an international legal thicket, one that asks whether US search warrants extend to data stored on foreign servers. The US government says it has the legal right, with a valid court warrant, to reach into the world's servers with the assistance of the tech sector, no matter where the data is stored. The request for Supreme Court intervention concerns a 4-year-old legal battl ...
          What Tony Cozier Meant To Us   
So, why didn’t the Government of Barbados confer our country’s highest national honour on Tony Cozier during his lifetime? Why wasn’t he “Sir Tony Cozier”? Similarly,
          We Saw a Vision   

On this day, September 18th, in 1914, the Government of Ireland Act had reached the statute books in Westminster. This act was set to give Ireland Home Rule; something that the Irish politicians and the Irish people had been aiming towards for decades. But, as is natural in Irish history, bad luck has to mock the wishes of the downtrodden Irish (as if Father Time and Mother Éire had had a very difficult divorce. This probably originated in the early Middle Ages when Ireland refused to experience the Dark Ages. )

World War I shook the Home Rule Bill off the table in Westminster. And it would only be back on the table after the conflict had ended.

“Hmmm, lunchtime, maybe? If not, then surely by Christmas?”

Eh, no.

And so, frustrated by this, the IRB (Irish Republican Brotherhood) met to decide the fate of Irish republicanism. The Easter Rising was the ultimate result of this meeting. In commemoration of the importance of the site (north Parnell Square), the Garden of Remembrance was opened in 1916, on the 50th anniversary of the 1916 Rising. 

For those who gave their lives in the fight for Irish freedom…




Incidentally, also on this day, in 1922, another bill rose to attention. This was the Constitution of Saorstát Éireann Bill, which W. T. Cosgrave (the first Taoiseach/Prime Minister/President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State) introduced to enable the implementation of the Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland.

And its successor is still on the table.

In Dublin, not Westminster.  

          El Primer Tren Ligero Electrico de Supercondensadores del Mundo SIN RIELES- China   
380 pasajeros de capacidad

70KMH de Velocidad









INTRODUCTION

How does China solve the country’s prevalent public transportation problems? By unveiling the world’s first autonomous train transit system that runs on a virtual track.
In this video we will know about China’s New Autonomous Train that Doesn’t Even Need Rails for its truck.

CHINA’S AUTONOMOUS TRAIN TRANSIT

The world’s first rail less train was revealed last week in Zhuzhou in central China’s Hunan province. China’s state-owned enterprise called CRRC began developing the Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit back in 2013, to provide a solution to the country’s transportation problems in congested urban areas.

The Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit in short ART is some kind of cross between a train and a bus or tram. The ART runs on roads like a bus, but only on designated paths like a tram. It's modular like a train, and carriages can be added or removed to accommodate different numbers of people. Each carriage can fit about 100 passengers.

ENVIRONMENT FRENDLY VEHICLE


It is considered to be a cheaper alternative to other commute networks as well as being sustainable and environmentally friendly. With a cross appearance between a bus and a train, the autonomous train is composed of three carriages and spans 30 meters long.

It’s part of the intelligent rail express system by CRRC, which operates on rubber tires as opposed to traditional rail tracks. Means, it runs on rubber tires and has sensors to read the dimensions of the road and plan its route.

A pair of dashed white painted lines acts as virtual tracks which the autonomous train follows. The idea is that the 'smart train' could travel without a driver or rails.

CAPACITY AND CAPABILITY 

This ART system can be driven up to a maximum speed of 70 km/h and can carry up to 300 passengers in three carriages at a time. Providing a new and smart method for solving urban transport pressures, the autonomous vehicle is powered by electricity, which can journey to a distance 40 km when fully charged. It uses a lithium titanate battery and can embark on a substantial journey with only 10 minutes of charging.

Equipped with sensors, the autonomous train can process and analyze road dimensions then plan its own course. Very much like a bus-train hybrid vehicle running on a virtual track. CRRC can also add more carriages to the transit system in order to increase the passenger capacity. Moreover, the newly developed ART system can be integrated fairly easily into existing road infrastructures as it doesn’t require heavy construction works compared to rail track systems.

COST SAVING EFFORTS

In general, most medium-sized and smaller cities in China doesn’t have the budget to build expensive subway systems, or most of the time, they take too long to build.
According to Xinhua, it costs up to $102 dollar to build a kilometer of a subway track, as compared to about $2 million for a standard length ART bus.
So, this solution proves to be ideal because of its multiple advantages over conditional transit systems. It’s cheap, sustainable, and is able to transport a large volume of people in a fast and reliable manner.

PLANNING

The current ART system is still in its prototype stage and is driven manually by a human driver. However, the Zhuzhou city government in the Hunan province is expected to build a 6.5-kilometer ART line throughout its downtown. Operations of the autonomous train within the city will begin in 2018.








          Human Resources/Industrial Relations Lead   
PA-Malvern, Leads the Industrial Relations function in all matters affecting the represented and unrepresented workforce in plant operations. Included are: labor relations, compensation, organization effectiveness, union organization prevention, and governmental compliance. Client Details A leading chemincal distribution company Description Develops corporate labor relations objectives in support of Company p
          Human Resources Administator   
MD-Laurel, Security Vault Works provides turnkey construction and installation services to financial institutions, large retailers, bank equipment manufacturers, and US Government agencies. Currently, we service local and national customers – coast to coast – from 10 Branch offices in 9 U.S. states. See our website at www.svwinc.com for more information about our Company and our projects. Our Corporate offic
          Domestic cricket in India   
The recent World Cup performance by the talented Indian team has stirred the hornet's nest. Heads are rolling in Pakistan and the blame game is just about to start in India. However, I doubt if anything meaningful would come out of it. Ramachandra Guha describes cricket as a "special game" in India in his outstanding book on Indian Cricket - A corner of a foreign field, and one has to agree. More than just another sport, it's now another icon of national pride. When tension mounted between India & Pakistan, Indian government was quick to snap all cricketing ties, however, the Pakistani hockey & TT teams were touring India, that too without a whimper from Thakre and likes. Every year the broadcasting rights for cricket in India are fought over intensely with the amounts going up astronomically. Every cricket match in any corner of India, featuring the Indian team, sometimes even without them, meets full-house with thousands turned down!

If such is the love for the game, how come no one cares a damn about the domestic cricket in India? Before delving deeper, let's see if it is really the "love" of the game or just fanatic following of the home team. The Indian crowd has given diametrically opposing impressions over time. Compare the standing ovation received by the Paki team in the Chennai test and the unruly crowd of Calcutta in the '96 WC Semifinal. So, do people want to see good cricket or they just care for their team's win? The truth lies somewhere between these two extremes. I think, people have some idea (almost fair) about the team's calibre and when they perform below there capability, they face the fan's ire. Indian team's ouster in the first round was definitely below their capabilities. It's not that the fans expected them to win the cup; they were hailed as heroes in the last WC when they played out of their skins to reach the finals, only to get hammered!

Coming back to domestic cricket, one most common argument is that the Ranji Trophy has too many teams, thus diluting the quality of cricket. I quote from the wikipedia page -
Up until the 2002-03 season, the teams were grouped into five zones - North, West, East, Central and South - and initial matches were played within the zones on a league basis. The top teams (two until 1991-92, three after that) from each zone played in a national knock-out competition, leading to a final which decided the winner of the tournament.

Kids playing cricket near Payakara Falls, Ooty



Starting with the 2002-03 season, the zonal system was abandoned and a two-division structure was adopted: the Elite Group and the Plate Group. For the 2006-07 season, the divisions were re-labelled the Super League and Plate League respectively.

The Super League is divided into two groups of eight and seven teams, while the Plate League is divided into two groups of six teams each. In both divisions, the top two teams from each group advance to the knock-out phase. The finalists from the Plate League are promoted to the Super League the next year while the two teams at the bottom of the Super League are relegated.
If this seems too many, we've got Duleep Trophy, with just 5 zonal teams. I quote -
Five Indian zonal teams regularly take part in the Duleep Trophy - North Zone, South Zone, East Zone, West Zone and Central Zone.

The original format was that the five teams played each other on a knock-out basis. From the 1993-94 season, the competition converted to a league format.

From the 2003-04 season onwards, the five original zonal teams competed along with a sixth guest team which was a touring foreign team. The first guest team was England A in 2003-04.
If you say the slow test cricket is the deterring factor, we've got Deodhar Trophy, 50-over one-day competition played on a league basis among the 5 zonal teams since 1973!

So there, we've got all flavors of cricket in the domestic competitions, yet it's not able to pull the apparently cricket crazy crowd of India. It has to do something with the quality of cricket played. The difference of quality between international fixtures & these domestic ones has to be huge, thus not attracting the attention of people. This again is a mind-boggler! Cricket is played almost everywhere in India and yet we can't produce ample number of quality competitors for the domestic cricket? This points towards the callous attitude of cricket governing body in India. We should do more to train & prepare cricketers from their younger days. There is another anamoly here, our under-19 team was among the strongest & in the final of last two U-19 World Cups! How do you explain this decline of form of the same players when they graduate to the big league? It's as if they stop adding value to their cricket while their peers from other countries move on.

There is another deterrent, parents skepticism towards career in professional sports. I don't know if we can tackle this problem in the short run in a third-world developing country like India. May be BCCI can announce some comprehensive scholarships, may be they have these even now. But the fact remains that the parents are scared to let their kids chase their cricketing dreams at the cost of sound academic background, thus increased probability of a decent career.

Another face of the problem is the media coverage of these games. I do get to read about them in the newspaper, however no channel is ready to air these games. We do get to see the NKP Salve Challenger Trophy, but not other games. This again depends on the fact that there aren't many buyers for these games, because these are low quality matches. Some vicious cycle we've got here! We can't relate with these matches, because we can't see them. They can't broadcast the matches, because no one sees them!

These definitely aren't the only problems with the Indian cricket. Still, I feel if we can address these one fast, the Indian cricket will be benefitted a lot and fast. Depleted bench strength & mediocre domestic cricket are holding back Indian cricket big time.
          Skeptic Youth vs Confident Veterans   
The panel discussion I mentioned in my last post turned out to be quite an interesting one. The topic of discussion was - "100 Indian MNCs by 2020." The panelists were -
Sandipan started with his views, which unfortunately didn't look very well prepared. However, he was lucid; talked much without saying much. Rest three had solid experience in industry, extending the operations at the world stage. They talked with more authority and shared their experiences. All of them were very sure that the dream of 100 Indian MNCs by 2020 is well within the reach and sort of underrated. It was quite inspiring hearing their first hand experiences.

Like all good panel discussions, this one too ended with a Q&A round by audience. Like all good audience, lots of questions came out after a little prodding. What was most interesting to note was that the crowd - comprising the leaders of tomorrow, yada yada yada - was quite skeptic about achieving the goal! There were questions about the government and its ineffectiveness, about sustaining the current wave of growth, about population & literacy, about infrastructure & investment - all of them showing how improbable this goal seems to be. On the contrary, the panel maintained its stand that India will have to do too bad to miss this one!

Their settling argument was that India has reached this stage even with the kind of government & stifling regulations we've had, so there is every chance that now that the condition have improved a lot, India will bloom even more. The post-lib generation hasn't seen those days, when Infosys almost died as an infant after frustrating experiences trying to work for global client, mainly due to the policies in 1989!

What will happen remains to be seen, but this skeptism in the youth of the nation, crème de la crème, worries me. Not like OMG-India-is-screwed-now worry, just a little concern.

PS: Just a small note, reply to Jeet's comment on my last post where he said, "I don't agree with Sandipan's only one answer theory.. I don't know about comp. sci and engg. but Civil Engineering was all about evaluating multiple correct answers and 'choosing' one of them." Still, you'll find the management education a whole lot different than engineering. CS is mainly about optimizing; space, speed, transfer, safety.. So in a way, you are confined in your pursuit of the answer. You can say that A is better than B and like that. Civil, as I understand, does have an element of subjectivity to it. In the managerial world, I'm told, there are many situation where nothing's universally better or worse. It all depends on what you decide.

          Director of Community & Government Relations (Year Round) - Whistler Blackcomb - Whistler, BC   
Responsible for creating and implementing political strategy for relevant electoral engagement. Start of the 2017 Winter Season (approx....
From Whistler Blackcomb - Sat, 03 Jun 2017 01:16:13 GMT - View all Whistler, BC jobs
          GIS Technician II - Thompson - Nicola Regional District - Kamloops, BC   
Headquartered in the City of Kamloops, the TNRD provides a wide range of local government services to a population of 130,000 located within its 11 diverse... $4,716 a month
From CivicInfo BC - Wed, 28 Jun 2017 01:46:14 GMT - View all Kamloops, BC jobs
          GIS Technician II - Thompson - Thompson-Nicola Regional District - Nicola, BC   
Headquartered in the City of Kamloops, the TNRD provides a wide range of local government services to a population of 130,000 located within its 11 diverse... $4,716 a month
From CivicJobs.ca - Wed, 28 Jun 2017 02:50:28 GMT - View all Nicola, BC jobs
          03/24/17: Design for Government course in Design Museum's exhibition Enter and Encounter   
The optimistic exhibition focuses on the future, asking how design challenges the present and shapes things to come.

Enter and Encounter is a joint exhibition produced by Design Museum Finland and the Finnish Association of Designers Ornamo, featuring contemporary design after Helsinki’s Design Capital Year of 2012. Aalto University's course Design for Government is nominated to take part in the exhibition!

The course 'Design for Government' is organised yearly at Aalto University since 2013, joining Finnish ministries together with multidisciplinary student teams to solve complex, policy-level challenges. The aim of the course is to introduce design as a strategic competence that can be applied in public sector decision-making. In the course, students apply empathic design approaches to identify stakeholder needs, systems approaches to analyze the wider context of policies, and behavioural insight to identify and design relevant solutions. Design for Government is at the frontier of design expansion into the public sector. It builds on a tradition of design ‘beyond the object’ – the design of processes, services, strategies and other immaterial products.

Design for Government has so far collaborated with 6 different ministries, and 70 alumni of the course span more than 11 disciplines and 4 universities. Ministry-commissioned projects range from addressing how building standards enable accessible and independent living and how the new national waste code should be enacted, to how agricultural production relates to the circular economy and nutrition at schools. Solutions created by students range from simplifying web services to rewriting policy documents. In the exhibition Enter and Encounter, the course and its objectives are displayed through a video documentary. The documentary depicts the various design activities in the course, student proposals and impacts from students’ and ministry perspectives.

Team: Taneli Heinonen, Seungho Lee, Hella Hernberg, Juha Kronqvist, Ramia Mazé; curatorial assistant Miina Pohjolainen and video documentary Roman Lihhavtshuk.

More info: http://www.designmuseum.fi/en/exhibitions/enter_and_encounter-2/


          President Trump Calls on Congress to Pass Bills Aimed at Undocumented Immigrants   
President Trump hosted the families of victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants at the White House on Wednesday as a part of an effort to put pressure on Republicans in the House to pass legislation targeting so-called sanctuary cities. “You lost the people that you love because our government refused to enforce our nation’s…
          Proposed Law Would Let Local Governments Legislate Drones   
To drone, or not to drone.
          Quantum Computing: Its Emergence and Implications on Information Security   

Mark Pecen is the Chairman, ETSITC Cyber Working Group for Quantum Safe Cryptography (QSC) (France), Chief Operating Officer, ISARA Corporation, and Board member, Institute for Quantum Computing (Canada). He is currently the CEO of Approach Infinity, Inc. and a member of the Safeguard advisory board. Leading governments around the globe, along with major corporations, including…

The post Quantum Computing: Its Emergence and Implications on Information Security appeared first on Safeguard Scientifics, Inc. - Experience Growth..


          Distributional aspects of the crisis in Greece   
The current policy debate on the debt crisis in Greece has so far focused mostly on macroeconomic aspects and on whether the Greek government has sufficient political capital to deliver the reforms agreed with the European Commission and the IMF for receipt of financial aid. The ETUI, at the September gathering of its Monthly Forum, will provide an alternative perspective on this issue by looking into some of the distributional implications of the fiscal austerity and deep recession currently experienced by the Greek economy.
          Uttarakhand PCS New Exam Pattern, Syllabus 2016, UKPSC 138 posts for Pre and Main   
UKPSC Uttarakhand Public Service Commission has letest published the Recruitment notification 2016 to fill up the empty post 138 vacancies of the various Officer Posts. It is a good news for the all candidates who are wetting or searching for the Government Jobs in Uttarakhand state. Applicants who are fulfill interested in Public Service Commission Jobs. they have […]
          The first commercial astronaut training center will be built in the UK   
The government’s mission to put the UK at the forefront of commercial spaceflight has been given a big boost after plans were announced to build the world’s first private space research centre in Bedfordshire. The £120 million Blue Abyss facility will be constructed at RAF Henlow, providing domestic and international companies with access to the […]
          Comment on Uber and Airbnb by alen   
That is why in some countries governments are trying to find ways to leave outside the law apps like Uber
          The Covenant and the Cargo Cult: Concluded   


PART ONE | PART TWO | PART THREE

Let's get this out of the way first - SPOILERS! Then this: Alien: Covenant is not a very good movie. 

It's not offensively terrible, in fact it goes out of its way to be as inoffensive as possible. Even the gore seems polite. 

I'd give you a synopsis but you can just as easily take all your favorite scenes from the Alien franchise, arrange them however you please, add in a cartoon villain whose motivations are entirely incomprehensible and then go fix yourself up some Jiffy Pop.

Alien: Covenant goes to great lengths to piss away the entire ontology proposed in the film it's meant to act as a sequel to, ostensibly annihilating the god-like Engineer race in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it CGI eruption that has all the heft and drama of a 80s video game. 

But at the same time it seems to tell a story beneath the surface narrative. And a lot of its riffs will be well familiar to anyone versed in Ancient Astronaut Theory. Which, let's face it, was arguably extraneous to the running plot of Prometheus (space mission finds remains of alien race mixed up with the xenomorph progenitors).

As Gordon and I discussed, it also feels like it meant to originally serve as the advance guard for a new AAT media blitz*, a plan that appears to have been scuttled in the wake of Hurricane Trump and the resultant cold (for the time being) civil war the country has been plunged into. 

I've never seen divide-and-rule politics as divisive as what we're seeing today, with the ostensible goal being to atomize the population into impotent, squabbling subsects in order to preempt any potential challenge to oligarchal rule, even if the oligarchy itself is itself carved up into mutually antagonistic camps. (I should mention here that this whole program seems to have fired up in the wake of the Occupy movements).

Of course there's also the fact that the easiest social grouping (tribe, country, empire, etc) to conquer is one that's divided against itself. 

Just saying.

But even this miserable turn of events seems to resonate with the AAT perspective as well, specifically the "gods at war" subplot running through Zecharia Sitchin's bibliography, as well as some of the theorizing emerging on the fringe science circuit.

Now, there's a strand of thinking among those who wrestle with the Fermi Paradox, essentially arguing that high technology is inherently anti-adaptive and inevitably leads to self-destruction. 

What this theory essentially proposes is that we've not had any (acknowledged) contact with extraterrestrial races because they've all been wiped out by their own advanced technology (read: 'weaponry'). This of course is a wildly egocentric assumption ("extraterrestrial races are all as savage and murderous as we are") and automatically presumes that our own high technology is not in fact some kind of alien intrusion, even if it behaves every bit like one.

I bring this up because there are two running themes in Alien: Covenant I do want to unpack, because they do (obliquely) reference some of the basic tenets of AAT (the film seems to keep a lot of its AAT on the DL).

First off is David's genocide of the Engineer planet. This was a fairly ridiculous subplot, essentially chucking everything we were told about these beings in the first film. This is a billions year-old race that seeded all life on Earth and yet they're all defeated by a lone android who had hijacked one of their spacecraft? Huh?

Wouldn't they naturally have some kind of defense infrastructure that would have intercepted this ship before it ever reached orbit? There's no attempt at following the story's own internal logic.

Now there are all kinds of ways you could have made sense of this. The Engineers had degenerated over the millennia and lost their high technology, that they'd become so drunk on their own power that they never expected any exterior challenge, etc etc etc. But the film makes absolutely no attempt to sell any of that.

But by the same token there's a fascinating allegory at work here, even if it's unintentional, and that ties back to the war of the gods theme running through a lot of AAT theorizing. 

Note that the Engineers aren't decked up in their Gigeresque finery in the apocalypse scene but look more like the kind of quasi-Medievals familiar to space fantasy fans. They also look pretty stupid gazing up at the approaching ship like the hapless New Agers in Mars Attacks. 



But were they in fact the Engineers? Some fans don't seem to think so.

A closer look at the (humanoid) aliens in the film may suggest that this in fact was another descendant race, the clue being the skintone (matte and pinkish as opposed to chalky white and moderately reflective). They also don't seem quite as black-eyed. Another clue is their reaction to the ship, arguably suggesting these people were expecting their gods to return.

MARS, ATTACKED

Is this a fakeout or a reference to another covert subplot altogether? It's possible there was a revelation that this was just a descendant race in the original script but that all got lost in the rewriting process. 

Perhaps David's apparent plan to kill off the human colonists- who are both his progenitors and another descendant race- are the clue here. Either way, the story (mankind's cousins wiped out by a space invader) ties in pretty neatly with the theories put forth by plasma physicist Dr. John Brandenburg:
"Dr. Brandenburg has previously theorized that the red color of Mars and the radioactive substances in its soil are the result of a thermonuclear explosion from natural causes. He now says that the “high concentration” of Xenon-129 in the Martian atmosphere and uranium and thorium on the surface are remnants of two unnatural nuclear explosions, most likely triggered by alien invaders. 
"Who were these aliens invading and eventually wiping out? Brandenburg believes Mars once had a climate like Earth and was inhabited by two civilizations – one in a region called Cydonia Mensa and another at Galaxias Chaos. Why these two regions? 
'Analysis of new images from Odyssey, MRO and Mars Express orbiters now show strong evidence of eroded archeological objects at these sites.'
According to Brandenburg, the Martians maintained a high civilization, albeit a non-technological one:
He says Mars once had an Earth-like climate home to animal and plant life, and any intelligent life would have been about as advanced as the ancient Egyptians on Earth.
There's also David's genetic tinkering with the xenomorph genome. As a self-styled god, David here is playing the part suggested by AATheorists, who postulate that the Anunaki went through a series of experiments in creating the modern human genome and eradicated unwanted models while they did so. 

Strangely enough, this also correlates to the AAT-friendly origin myth put forth by the ancient Greek writer Hesiod in his landmark Works and Days. Hesiod, significantly, was apparently deeply influenced by Babylonian literature, the Enuma Elish in particular

And the war of the gods certainly correlates to the Titanomachy, or the wars between the Olympians and their progenitors, the Titans.

So is there an unspoken inference that David is the titular Prometheus, defying the "gods" and shepherding the engineered development of the xenomorph race? In the context of the film itself it's really hard to care one way or the other but it does suggest that there was in fact a lot more meat on the bone in previous drafts of the script.

THEY'RE EVERYWHERE

But it's worth noting that the Alien franchise is not only another example of a major SF property that revolves around AAT it's also an example of a SF franchise onto which AAT was grafted midstream (at the same time it was grafted onto the Predator franchise). 

Some franchises have AAT baked into their genome at conception (Star Trek (more or less), the Space Odyssey series, Battlestar Galactica) but many more seem to have it implanted sometime into their runs (Quatermass, Doctor Who, X-Files, Indiana Jones, Transformers, Jonny Quest, Godzilla, Doom, Halo, Assassin's Creed). 


When the Olympics came to Hollywood

This raises a very simple question: why? Is there in fact a AAT cargo cult at work in the entertainment industry? I mean that sounds ridiculous, right? 

Well, maybe it seems a bit less so when you look at the influence the Nine had on the Star Trek franchise (relaunching on television this year) or the fact that one of the most powerful cults in Hollywood is explicitly AAT-oriented right down to its very core. There's also the Mormon Church, which is at the very least AAT-compatible.

On the other hand, there's also the Brookings Report. 
The report has become noted for one short section entitled "The implications of a discovery of extraterrestrial life", which examines the potential implications of such a discovery on public attitudes and values. The section briefly considers possible public reactions to some possible scenarios for the discovery of extraterrestrial life, stressing a need for further research in this area. It recommends continuing studies to determine the likely social impact of such a discovery and its effects on public attitudes…" 
One detail that caught the eye of researchers like Richard Hoagland is the mention of possible artifacts discovered on our neighbors, artifacts that might call our entire view of our planet and our very existence into question.
"While face-to-face meetings with it will not occur within the next twenty years (unless its technology is more advanced than ours, qualifying it to visit Earth), artifacts left at some point in time by these life forms might possibly be discovered through our space activities on the Moon, Mars, or Venus." 
And then there's this passage, which basically explains why so many STEM types are so deeply wounded by AAT:
"It has been speculated that, of all groups, scientists and engineers might be the most devastated by the discovery of relatively superior creatures, since these professions are most clearly associated with the mastery of nature, rather than with the understanding and expression of man. Advanced understanding of nature might vitiate all our theories at the very least, if not also require a culture and perhaps a brain inaccessible to Earth scientists."  
Huh.

And the money quote: suggestions for how that eventuality- or some kind of alien contact- might be managed by the Managers.
Continuing studies to determine emotional and intellectual understanding and attitudes -- and successive alterations of them if any -- regarding the possibility and consequences of discovering intelligent extraterrestrial life. 
Historical and empirical studies of the behavior of peoples and their leaders when confronted with dramatic and unfamiliar events or social pressures. Such studies might help to provide programs for meeting and adjusting to the implications of such a discovery. Questions one might wish to answer by such studies would include: How might such information, under what circumstances, be presented to or withheld from the public for what ends?  
And lo and behold, 57 years after the Brookings Report we get this:
The solar system that humanity calls home may have once been inhabited by an extinct species of spacefaring aliens, a top scientist has suggested. 
A space scientist has suggested ancient extraterrestrials could have lived on Mars, Venus or even Earth before disappearing without a trace. 
In a fascinating academic paper about “prior indigenous technological species,” Jason T. Wright from Pennsylvania State University raised the fascinating possibility that evidence of these extinct aliens could exist somewhere in the solar system. 
Wright is an astronomer who received global attention after suggesting an “alien megastructure” had been spotted in orbit around a distant star.Now the stargazer has said advanced aliens may have left behind “technosignatures” for us to find — if only we knew where to look for them.
Of course, this is exactly what Richard Hoagland has been talking about- and has been roundly attacked for doing so- for at least the past 40 years. But I suppose it's different when the very same theorizing comes from within the priesthood.



It's funny; last night I was cutting the grass and thinking about stuff. You know, like you do when you're cutting the grass. Then I started mulling over how simplistic and repetitive the Ancient Aliens show is and how quickly Giorgio Tsoukalos transformed himself into a cartoon character. 

But then I realized that's how educational indoctrination works in our culture. 

All kinds of teaching and training materials in public schools use cartoon characters, right? Walt Disney probably made a fortune licensing his characters for educational films. And it's through repetition that people really learn anything. 

So Ancient Aliens might chew over the same gristle year after year but that helps keep its messaging consistent as its audience ebbs and flows (read: enters/graduates high school). Love it or loathe it, you have to acknowledge that there's a cogent methodology at work there. 

Government-conditioning program or cult indoctrination, they all work out of the same toolbox.

Is it all leading up to some major revelation, the way 'Disclosure' advocates expect? Or is all leading up to some massive Project Blue Beam type of hoax? 

Well,  why would anyone expect it to? Why would anyone expect the skies to open- or not- as the climax of all this conditioning? 

The answer, of course, is Hollywood. Because that's the way it works in the movies. Real life doesn't usually work that way. 

However, no matter who or what is behind all this the fact remains that, like it or don't, AAT (and the UFO topic in general) have already dramatically changed our culture, our technology and our society. Certainly our popular culture. 

Being a bit long in the tooth it still boggles my mind how many younger people take the basic assumptions of AAT for granted, even if they haven't read a page of Sitchin or Von Daniken or even watched a single Ancient Aliens. They don't have to. So much of their favorite pop culture is neck deep in it.



*You can toss in the Sekret Machines project here, spearheaded by former Blink 182 guitarist Tom Delonge and Peter Levenda of Necronomicon and Sinister Forces fame, and involving all kinds of Deep State heavies such as John Podesta.


          The Cold War Kabuki   



Well, you all know what the big story was this past week. I wasn't going to post on it but enough people have asked and it seems germane to the ongoing Reality Show we're all unwitting (and unwilling) extras in. In case you've been on media blackout or a vision quest, here's a brief thumbnail sketch:
The United States launched a military strike Thursday on a Syrian government airbase in response to a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of civilians earlier in the week. 
On President Donald Trump's orders, US warships launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the airbase that was home to the warplanes that carried out the chemical attacks, US officials said.
As it happens, the airstrikes apparently didn't even seem to have the desired deterrent effect. The air base was up and running soon after the strikes:
Syrian warplanes took off from the air base hit by US cruise missiles yesterday to carry out bombing raids on rebel-held areas, in a defiant show of strength. 
Just hours after the al-Shayrat airfield was bombed with 59 US Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from warships in the Mediterranean, aircraft struck targets in the eastern Homs countryside, according to a monitoring group. 
The airstrikes were carried out on Khan Sheikhoun - the same town Bashar al-Assad’s regime is accused of attacking with chemicals - and seven other towns around eastern Homs, some of which controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).
This rebound seemed to catch the War Party off guard, since CNN reported on the same story but appeared to ascribe the airstrikes to phantom warplanes. I mean, it couldn't be the Syrians or the Russians, right?:
(CNN) New airstrikes targeted a town in Syria that was hit by a chemical attack earlier this week, activists said, less than a day after the US bombarded a Syrian air base to "send a message" to the Assad regime. 
It wasn't immediately clear who conducted the strikes on Khan Sheikhoun, which was hit on Friday and Saturday, though only Russian and Syrian regime aircraft have been bombing that area of rebel-held Idlib province.
CNN, who've been hammering Trump around the clock since he humiliated their network head in a post-election tantrum, suddenly changed their tune when he started raining bombs on Syria. Sam Kriss reports:
The media was kind to Trump’s attack on Syria. Every pompous outlet that has spent the last five months screaming incessantly about the threat to democracy, the inevitable deaths and the terror of wars, had nothing but applause as soon as the wars and the deaths actually got going. 
 A fleshy and dangerous idiot, a vulgarian, an imbecile – until those first perfect screaming shots of Tomahawk missiles being fired were broadcast – that’s our guy, you show them Donny! This is when, as Fareed Zakaria put it on CNN, Trump ‘became the president.’
The same mainstream media, which has become a hornet's hive of conspiracy theorizing since the election, was quick to shoot down any conspiracy theories about the Syria Bombshow.
A volley of US cruise missiles had barely been launched into Syria before the internet filled up with fact-free theories about the real reason for the international crisis.
A popular one on the right-most fringes: the US government actually carried out the chemical weapons massacre in Syria last week - a "false flag" to trick President Donald Trump into retaliating, thus entangling himself in a foreign war. 
A slightly more convoluted strain on the left: Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the chemical weapons massacre to help Trump - distracting Americans from an investigation into Trump's campaign ties to Russia by provoking the missile strike.
Alt-left conspiracy theorists prefer the idea that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the chemical weapons massacre to help Trump - distracting Americans from an investigation into Trump's campaign ties to Russia.
Ron Paul, whose son Rand is now a rising star in the Senate, was perhaps the most prominent public figure to cast shade on the Syria op:
“Before this episode of possible gas exposure and who did what, things were going along reasonably well for the conditions,” the former Texas congressman stated. “Trump said let the Syrians decide who should run their country, and peace talks were making out, and Al Qaeda and ISIS were on the run.” 
“It looks like, maybe, somebody didn’t like that so there had to be an episode, and the blame now is we can’t let that happen because it looks like it might benefit Assad.”
For his part, Doctor Bones speculates that the real mark for a possible elaborate sting wasn't Assad or Putin, but in fact another player altogether. The timing seems hard to argue with:
A gas attack launched by the fleeing Syrian rebels, a side quickly losing it’s CIA-sponsorship and well aware it’s continued health depends on American funds, sure has a shit-ton more to gain from wide swathes of civilians dying on camera. Even better if they die particularly gruesomely and in a way the rebels claim they couldn’t be responsible for despite being photographed with all the tech to do so. 
How does Trump’s seemingly pointless explosion-show play into this? The answer: perfectly...
Consider also that the Chinese President was in Mar-a-Largo when the strike was underway, that Trump not only told him it was going to happen but actually ate dinner with him as it went on and the event spirals into even greater significance. A show of force full of technical prowess in a contested warzone while the Russians stood back and watched sends a powerful message to a foreign leader currently dining in enemy territory.
Is this just swivel-eyed speculation? Is there any reason to believe this wasn't all some improbable coincidence, that Xi Jinping was indeed dining with Trump while the Bombshow began? Because if it's not a coincidence then it's one hell of a psyop; running a mindfuck on your most dangerous frenemy during a state visit. What's this all about then? Joseph Farrell reports:
While there have been a spate of articles recently about growing Russo-Chinese defense and security ties, matching their growing financial and economic ties, this one left me stunned, for there was a statement within it that caught my eye, and Mr. B's as well, and I'm sure the reader saw it as well. As one can imagine, this one fueled my "high octane speculation" mode to the nth degree. Here's the statement, and a bit of surrounding context:
Russia and China are tired of Washington's "defensive" military installations in their backyards — and they're already taking action. 
According to the Atlantic Council and other responsible thinkers, the Untied States reserves the right to park its missile shields anywhere it wants, whether it be in Europe, East Asia, or the dark side of the Moon.  
I guess we should have seen all this coming, no? Shortly before the Bombshow, Trump's top Praetorian removed Trump's assumed consigliere from the NSC:
President Trump on Wednesday removed controversial White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon from the National Security Council, part of a sweeping staff reshuffling that elevated military, intelligence and Cabinet officials to greater roles on the council and left Bannon less directly involved in shaping the administration’s day-to-day national security policy. 
The restructuring reflects the growing influence of national security adviser H.R. McMaster, an Army three-star general who took over the post after retired general Michael Flynn was ousted in February and who is increasingly asserting himself over the flow of national security information in the White House. 
Do yourself a favor and set a news alert for "McMaster." That's a name you're going to be hearing more of in the days ahead. Or you won't. Which is probably the more troubling scenario.

And with Bannon off the NSC there's apparently an effort to shuffle him off to some fat-salaried thinktank glue factory.  The not-news of Bannon's interest in The Fourth Coming was dragged out yet again, this time by The New York Times. But the article planted a helpful hint of why Bannon is on the elbow list and might be giving us a grim preview of the year ahead:
Bannon’s Views Can Be Traced to a Book That Warns, ‘Winter Is Coming’

WASHINGTON — Stephen K. Bannon has read the book three times. He still keeps a copy of it — one that’s creased and copiously underlined — in a library with the rest of his favorites at his father’s house in Richmond, Va. 
The book, “The Fourth Turning,” a 1997 work by two amateur historians, Neil Howe and William Strauss, lays out a theory that American history unfurls in predictable, 80-year cycles of prosperity and catastrophe. And it foresees catastrophe right around the corner. 
It also leads to unavoidable questions about war and whether Mr. Bannon, who has recommended the book to countless friends and made a film about it in 2010, is resigned to catastrophic global conflict. He says he is not. 
And he remains unconvinced that the United States can effectively intervene in overseas conflicts like the one unfolding in Syria. As one of the voices in the administration who expressed skepticism about a military strike in response to the Assad regime’s chemical attack on its own citizens, Mr. Bannon insists he is no warmonger.
Well, there you have it.

Is the Syria proxy war threatening to heat up again, or is this all just another dance in the Cold War Kabuki? Have actions like the Bombshow  become like sacrificial actions in ongoing magical actions? Or is the real war is for your mind and is playing out in thousands of manufactured headlines, blizzards of 30 second videos with deceptive text crawls and the endless babbling of overpaid talking heads?

I feel stupid even asking the question.

Just in case you're worried that this is all leading to nukes raining down on American cities,  the cognitive warriors seem to be trying to defuse any expectations of impending Armageddon: 
White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster says that while the U.S. would push for regime change in Syria, “We’re not the ones who are going to effect that change.” 
“What we’re saying is, other countries have to ask themselves some hard questions,” McMaster said in an interview on "Fox News Sunday." “Russia should ask themselves, ‘What are we doing here?’ Why are we supporting this murderous regime that is committing mass murder of its own population and using the most heinous weapons available?’”
Translation: No way in Hell we have the readiness needed for a hot war with a military superpower.

And since the mindfuck is the mother's milk of Cog-War, the careful inoculation of mixed messages into the mediafeed becomes just as vital a weapon as a cruise missile. Scratch that- much, much more so.
Trump Administration Is Contradicting Itself On Regime Change In Syria 
The Trump administration appears divided on whether the U.S. is pursuing a policy of regime change in Syria, days after the first direct American military attack against the Syrian government. 
Thursday’s strike “was related solely to the most recent horrific use of chemical weapons,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on Sunday. The goal of the attack was to send a message to Syrian President Bashar Assad and its ally Russia that the U.S. wouldn’t tolerate the use of chemical weapons, he continued. “Other than that, there is no change to our military posture.”
But United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley said there can be no peace in Syria with Assad in power. “There’s not any sort of option where a political solution is going to happen with Assad at the head of the regime,” she told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday. “Regime change is something that we think is going to happen because all of the parties are going to see that Assad is not the leader that needs to be taking place for Syria.​”​
Though Haley stopped short of indicating the U.S. would take military action to overthrow the Syrian dictator, her comments reflect a sharp change from the administration’s previous position.
The difference here, of course, is that Tillerson sets and executes policy and Haley sits in a glorified debating society and blows smoke and fairy dust for a bunch of bored bureaucrats wishing they had their real government jobs back, the ones they enjoyed before being pushed upstairs to their present posts. The media only pays attention when bombs are falling.

It's all black magic, make no mistake about it. There are different terms and epithets for it all now,  but when you strip all the twenty-dollar words and the credentials and the technology away the intent and the effect is no different than a witch doctor's curse. 

William S. Burroughs understood this, since his uncle Ivy Lee was the creator of one of these modern strains of black magic, so-called "public relations." Burroughs considered his uncle a bonafide "evil genius." And Lee was a piker compared to the algorithm-fired masters of the dark arts striding the globe today.

Here's a story that probably won't pop up on your Facebook feed. Anyone paying attention to the Russia hacking story probably knows how incredibly weak the hacking evidence actually is,* but now Wikileaks is teasing out the Seth Rich mystery again.
‘Guccifer 2.0’ Chat With Nude Model Sparks New Conspiracy Theories About Murder of DNC’s Seth Rich 
New chat logs between alleged Democratic National Committee hacker Guccifer 2.0 and a Playboy centerfold model surfaced today via Wikileaks on Twitter, throwing more fuel on the conspiracy theories surrounding murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich. The Twitter conversation, conducted via direct messages, purports to reveal Rich as the primary leaker of the DNC e-mails that proved highly disruptive during the 2016 presidential election. 
In direct messages dated August 25, 2016, Guccifer 2.0 mentioned having a whistleblower at the DNC, and said he was looking for a “person of trust who can be a guarantee in case anything happens.”
When Young suggested trusting Julian Assange, Guccifer 2.0 called him “unsafe” and that he “may be connected with Russians” despite being his hero. 
“I’d like to find a journalist who can do an investigation and teel [sic] the real story of his life and death,” he said, and revealed that the whistleblower he was referring to was none other than a person named “Seth.” 
“I suppose u know who I’m talking about,” he said, adding that he felt sorry about the murdered DNC staffer’s parents and that he wished for journalists to uncover the truth of his murder.
  
Seth Rich, a 27-year-old mid-level DNC staffer, was shot and killed in the early morning of July 2016 in Washington DC, while he was walking home from a bar and talking with his girlfriend on his mobile phone. Rich’s killers left his watch and wallet untouched on his body. 
This wasn't floated by Alex Jones or David Icke, it popped up on Heat Street, which is owned by the Dow Jones Company and Rupert Murdoch's NewsCorp. This story looks like it's going to grow some legs yet.

So are you sick of the Cog-War and the Cold War Kabuki yet? Tired of your social media hijacked by proxy warriors fighting battles for cliques within the Intelligence community? Burnt out on the whole Reality Show Presidency and its discontents altogether?

Start looking into ashrams in Sri Lanka, then. This machine is just getting warmed up. 




*Maybe some bright young spark should see if maybe the hacking an inside job by intel people who correctly judged a Trump White House would be easier to dominate than a bloated, top-heavy Clinton one. Just throwing that out there for giggles and grins.


          Spy vs Spy: Stuck in the Funhouse   

Funhouses are only fun when you can leave them. When the distorting mirror images become your new, day-to-day reality construct, then it's not so much fun anymore. 

I dreaded the 2016 Election because I had a very strong feeling that no matter who won we'd be plunged into a dystopian paradigm in which major power blocs would erupt into all-out warfare. And I sensed that neither Trump nor Clinton possessed the political skills or the communicative powers to keep the carnage fully out of our view. Or our path.


And I was right.


Trump's only been in office for a little over two months and I'm exhausted already. I'm certainly not alone in this. It all feels like a TV sitcom in its seventh season, well after the writers ran out of story ideas. The shark has been good and jumped. And the ratings (the approval ratings, in this case) are plunging too.


What is truly demoralizing though is the utter transparency of the secret war playing out, the seemingly endless spy vs spy thrust and counter-thrust, and the obvious deceptions. Even more so is the Animal Farm-like metamorphosis of the Democratic Party into a full-blown, funhouse mirror of McCarthy-era Republicans, but with Glenn Beck-worthy conspiracy theories thrown in for good measure.


I don't know about you but all of a sudden the world seems especially cold, hard, gray, harsh. Masks are coming off, velvet gloves tossed into wastebins. It doesn't seem to matter who wins the scorpion fight, you're still stuck with a scorpion.  

We can't call out the play-by-play because it's largely being acted out behind closed doors. But we can look at the collateral damage and make certain speculations. There's no doubt that it would all be just as bad-- probably worse-- if Hillary won. Even so, this all feels especially grating.

You've probably seen this story:
Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on Friday apologized to the owner of a Washington pizzeria that became the subject of a conspiracy theory about human trafficking last year. 
Pizza shop Comet Ping Pong was thrust into the spotlight last year after a gunman allegedly fired a shot inside the restaurant. The suspect said he was investigating the unsubstantiated conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton and her campaign chairman, John Podesta, were operating a child sex trafficking ring out of the restaurant. 
The theory, which became known as Pizzagate, had circulated among far-right conspiracy theory websites and social media accounts. 
“In our commentary about what had become known as Pizzagate, I made comments about Mr. Alefantis that in hindsight I regret, and for which I apologize to him,” Jones, who runs Infowars, said in a video. James Alefantis is the owner of Comet Ping Pong. 
Jones said his website relied on reporters who are no longer employed by Infowars and that video reports about Pizzagate were removed from the website. He also invited Alefantis onto the show to discuss the incident.
It was preceded by this story:
FBI’S RUSSIA PROBE EXPANDS TO INCLUDE ‘PIZZAGATE’ THREATS 
According to McClatchy News, the FBI’s Russian-influence probe agents are exploring whether far-right news operations, including the pro-Donald Trump sites Breitbart News and Infowars, “took any actions to assist Russia’s operatives.”  Trump’s ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn and his son, a member of the Trump transition team, were among those who boosted the so-called “PizzaGate” pedophile conspiracy theory.
I doubt this will quell the fervor among the Pizzagaters on sites like 4chan and Voat. Given the suspicion many on the fringes regard Jones with it may in fact give the flagging movement a fresh jolt. Jones' apology may also have to do with the drive to purge YouTube of "extremist" content and the controversy over the use of advertising on videos corporate clients find objectionable. A World without Sin, as our Gordon might put it. 


Washington Post headline, pre-election.

So much for theories that the FBI was ready to make mass arrests of prominent Washington figures related to Pizzagate.  Has any "mass arrest" Internet story ever panned out?  

Maybe it has:
Donald Trump became president on Jan. 20. And in one short month, there were more than 1,500 arrests for sex crimes ranging from trafficking to pedophilia.  
Big deal? You bet. In all of 2014, there were fewer than 400 sex trafficking-related arrests, according to FBI crime statistics. Liz Crokin at TownHall.com has put together a great piece on the push by the Trump administration to crack down on sex crimes. And she notes that while "this should be one of the biggest stories in the national news... the mainstream media has barely, if at all, covered any of these mass pedophile arrests. This begs the question – why?
This may have nothing to do with Trump-- in fact, it's likely it doesn't-- since these kinds of actions are planned out months in advance. The arrests continue, in case you were wondering, with major busts going down on a near-weekly basis. Someone's cleaning house. 

For what it's worth, I always reckoned that Pizzagate was in fact cover/distraction for a more hidden struggle, one that would take place under the radar*. As I noted back in November:

No one is saying as much but this very much feels connected to a deeper, more covert war. 
Why would I say such a thing? Because at the same time the Pizzagate story went dark we've seen major strikes taken against international pedophilia, which actually is a global conspiracy, with its own networks, secret codes and moles within established centers of power such as schools, police departments and governments.  
With such combustible accusations-- and such potential for a scandal that could quickly spread out of control (ie., involve political figures you're not trying to destroy)-- you'd naturally expect the action to go dark and the fall guys to be placed pretty far down the foodchain. (Remember that a prior investigation bagged one of the most powerful people in Washington at one time, former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert).†


"EVER WONDER WHAT IT'D BE LIKE TO DIE IN A PLANE CRASH?" 



It may be sheer coincidence, but James Alefantis' former partner suffered a major heart attack this week
Media Matters for America founder David Brock was rushed to a hospital on Tuesday after suffering a heart attack. 
According to a press release from MMA, the founder of the liberal media watchdog and analysis website was rushed to the hospital early Tuesday afternoon and received treatment.
Sure, it may be coincidence. But I couldn't help but remember this story, published soon after the election
Dems to David Brock: Stop Helping, You Are Killing Us 
Democrats know they need someone to lead them out of the wilderness. But, they say, that someone is not David Brock.

As David Brock attempts to position himself as a leader in rebuilding ademoralized Democratic Party in the age of Trump, many leading Democratic organizers and operatives are wishing the man would simply disappear.
 
"Disappear." Huh. 
Many in the party—Clinton loyalists, Obama veterans, and Bernie supporters alike—talk about the man not as a sought-after ally in the fight against Trumpism, but as a nuisance and a hanger-on, overseeing a colossal waste of cash. And former employees say that he has hurt the cause.
It's worth remembering that Breitbart.com Andrew Breitbart died of a heart attack at the age of 43. A year before he'd posted a cryptic tweet that some have since linked to the Pizzagate imbroglio.  Just before his death he hyped some revelation about Barack Obama's past. 

A coroner in the office handling Breitbart's body subsequently died of arsenic poisoning. The day Breitbart's autopsy results were revealed, in fact.

COME BACK ROY COHN, ALL IS FORGIVEN


We also saw James Comey revive Russiagate, which had been flatlining after Vault 7. Any illusions among Trump fans that the FBI was secretly on their side were ground into powder, between this revelation and the Pizzagate conspiracy investigations. 

One can't help but wonder if the New Praetorians (I've noticed that the Praetorian meme has been picked up by more prominent commentators, but you heard it here first) are losing their last shred of patience with Donald Trump's shenanigans and are planning imminent regime change: 
WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI is investigating whether Donald Trump’s associates coordinated with Russian officials in an effort to sway the 2016 presidential election, Director James Comey said Monday in an extraordinary public confirmation of a probe the president has refused to acknowledge, dismissed as fake news and blamed on Democrats. 
In a bruising five-hour session, the FBI director also knocked down Trump’s claim that his predecessor had wiretapped his New York skyscraper, an assertion that has distracted White House officials and frustrated fellow Republicans who acknowledge they’ve seen no evidence to support it.
How surreal is the world in which you know live in? So much so that mainstream political site The Hill is comparing the action in Washington to a Stanley Kubrick film, one which has become notorious for the conspiracy theories that have been projected onto it (and is well familiar to Synchronauts):
On the 40th anniversary of the publication of The Shining, Stephen King must be wondering if Washington is working on its own sequel. For the last couple months, Washington has been on edge, like we are all trapped in Overlook Hotel with every day bringing a new “jump scare,” often preceded by a telltale tweet. Indeed, a Twitter whistle has replaced suspenseful music to put the entire city on the edge of their seats. 
In this Shining sequel, however, people are sharply divided on who is the deranged ax-wielding villain in this lodge, the president or the press. Ironically, with the recent disclosure that some of the Trump campaign may indeed have been subject to surveillance, the president is looking more like Danny Torrence, a character dismissed for constantly muttering “redrum, redrum” until someone finally looked in a mirror at the reverse image to see the true message.
Yeah, I'm not really feeling that metaphor there, but whatever. It's been that kind of year.

Now the Internet is burning up with theories that disgraced National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has "turned" and is going to testify against the Trump Administration, or at least figures attached to it. 


It's hard to imagine a three-star general can be stupid enough to be guilty of things Flynn's been accused of but that may speak to a culture of impunity in Washington, in which your misdeeds are only punished if you get on the wrong side of the wrong people.

LIKE A BAD CYBERPUNK NOVEL


One wonders if the secret war has spread outside Washington. Car service giant Uber seems to be having a major run of rotten luck lately: 
Uber Technologies Inc. is suspending its self-driving car program after one of its autonomous vehicles was involved in a high-impact crash in Tempe, Arizona, the latest incident for a company reeling from multiple crises. 
In a photo posted on Twitter, one of Uber’s Volvo self-driving SUVs is pictured on its side next to another car with dents and smashed windows. An Uber spokeswoman confirmed the incident, and the veracity of the photo, and added that the ride-hailing company is suspending its autonomous tests in Arizona until it completes its investigation and pausing its Pittsburgh operations.

The incident also comes as Uber, and Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick, are currently under scrutiny because of a series of scandals. The ride-hailing company has been accused of operating a sexist workplace. This month, the New York Times reported that Uber used a tool called Greyball to help drivers evade government regulators and enforcement officials. Kalanick said he needed "leadership help" after Bloomberg published a video showing him arguing with an Uber driver.
So who did Kalanick piss off? 

Coincidentally- there's that word again- the crash comes soon after Wikileaks revealed that CIA hackers had the ability to override the computer systems in automobiles. From Mashable:

WikiLeaks has published a trove of files it says are linked to the CIA's hacking operations — which apparently includes efforts to hack into cars.  
The first in a series called "Vault 7," "Year Zero" supposedly comprises 8,761 documents and files from an isolated, high-security network situated inside the CIA's Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virginia.  
"Year Zero" details the CIA's malware arsenal and "zero day" exploits against Apple iPhones, Google's Android operating system, Microsoft Windows and even Samsung TVs.  
 According to a document from 2014, the CIA was also looking at infecting the vehicle control systems used by modern cars and trucks. 
Oh, that's reassuring. Speaking of control systems, apparently pimps are controlling prostitutes with RFID chips:
It turns out this 20-something woman was being pimped out by her boyfriend, forced to sell herself for sex and hand him the money. 
 “It was a small glass capsule with a little almost like a circuit board inside of it,” he said. “It's an RFID chip. It's used to tag cats and dogs. And someone had tagged her like an animal, like she was somebody's pet that they owned.” 
This is human trafficking. It’s a marginal issue here in the U.S. for most of us. Part of that is because the average person isn’t sure what human trafficking – or modern day slavery – actually means.
Technology is our friend, right? And now this: 
Turkish Hackers Threaten To Wipe Millions Of iPhones; Demand Ransom From Apple 
Today, courtesy of CIO, we learn that a group of hackers referring to themselves as the "Turkish Crime Family", has been in direct contact with Apple and is demanding a $150,000 ransom by April 7th or they will proceed to wipe as many as 600 million apple devices for which they allegedly have passwords. 
The group said via email that it has had a database of about 519 million iCloud credentials for some time, but did not attempt to sell it until now. The interest for such accounts on the black market has been low due to security measures Apple has put in place in recent years, it said.

Since announcing its plan to wipe devices associated with iCloud accounts, the group claimed that other hackers have stepped forward and shared additional account credentials with them, putting the current number it holds at over 627 million.

According to the hackers, over 220 million of these credentials have been verified to work and provide access to iCloud accounts that don't have security measures like two-factor authentication turned on.
 
Of course, if credible, with an ask of just $150k, this is the most modest group of hackers we've ever come across.
Given the war that's erupted between the increasingly aggressive Turkish government and the EU, money may clearly not be the object here. Turkish PM Erdogan is clearly set on reconstructing the old Ottoman Empire and shivving Apple might just be part of the march.

Besides, Turkey is taking that recent coup attempt-- which is almost universally blamed on the CIA-- very personally.


Speaking of the EU, we've seen stories that Trump advisor Steve Bannon wants to dissolve the union. Which may be why Trump-adversary John McCain announced his unalloyed support for it- and the "New World Order" (his words, not mine):
The world "cries out for American and European leadership" through the EU and Nato, US senator John McCain said on Friday (24 March). 
In a "new world order under enormous strain" and in "the titanic struggle with forces of radicalism … we can't stand by and lament, we've got to be involved," said McCain, a former Republican presidential candidate who is now chairman of the armed services committee in the US Senate. 
Speaking at the Brussels Forum, a conference organised by the German Marshall Fund, a transatlantic think tank, he said that the EU and the US needed to develop "more cooperation, more connectivity". 
"I trust the EU," he said, defending an opposite view from that of US president Donald Trump, who said in January that the UK "was so smart in getting out" of the EU and that Nato was "obsolete". 
He said that the EU was "one of the most important alliances" for the US and that the EU and Nato were "the best two sums in history", which have maintained peace for the last 70 years. "We need to rely on Nato and have a Nato that adjusts to new challenges," he said.
Would McCain speak this way to a domestic audience? Of course not. Or maybe he would- I can't tell which way is up anymore. But either way it's good to know where he really stands.

Like McCain, China continues to sound a similar note of support for globalization, on which its very economic survival so desperately depends:
Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli told a gathering of Asian leaders that the world must commit to multilateral free trade under the World Trade Organization and needs to reform global economic governance. 
“The river of globalization and free trade will always move forward with unstoppable momentum to the vast ocean of the global economy,” Zhang said. China will remain a strong force in the world economy and for peace and stability, he said, adding that countries must respect one another’s core interests and refrain from undermining regional stability. 
I suppose this is why China is off the target list for our new Cold (?) Warriors.

I've resisted posting on all this because it's all so depressing. I've actually written a few pieces on this chicanery that I ended up roundfiling. But I suppose I just wanted to go on the record about all this skullduggery, for posterity's sake.



UPDATE: Sex trafficking arrests and trials continue to proliferate. Most recent bust, an international ring in Minnesota. There is way too much activity going down in too short a time for this to be spontaneous.


* Which is exactly why I refrained from commenting on it here for the most part, instead noting that it had become a kind of memetic virus in much the same way that the Franklin/Boy's Town scandal had in the 90s. (Note that prior to the election-- and Pizzagate-- Trump nemesis the Washington Post was all over the issue of sex trafficking in the nation's capital). 

† The ongoing legal and police actions coinciding with the moves to shut down the Pizzagate fringes on the Web seem like the exact kind of action one would expect if there were a serious operation at work. Shutting down the Internet chatter makes perfect sense in this context because it can only complicate cases made by prosecutors. 
          The Present Can Only Be Viewed from the Past   


2017 might seem like the hangover after a particularly-nasty meth, glue and Thunderbird bender, but it's actually a year of major anniversaries. We're coming up on the 70th Anniversary of Kenneth Arnold and Roswell (as well as the National Security Act), the 50th Anniversary of Sgt. Pepper and the Summer of Love and the centennial of the Russian Revolution. But there are a lot more observances, all kinds of 'ennials to observe. 

I thought I'd dig into a few anniversaries germane to The Secret Sun and the topics we look at here. Readers are encouraged to weigh in with their own (observations that can be counted in multiples of five and ten, that is) in the comments.

December will see the fifth anniversary of the 2012 apocalypse/ascension/ absurdity (depending on your point of view). Needless to say, most of us are still here and the skies didn't open and Nibiru didn't come crashing into the moon. So there goes another apocalypse. 

I can't help but wonder about the 2012 meme, though. As I wrote a couple years back, it certainly seems like something changed that year, that the bottom fell out somewhere but no one seemed to notice it at the time. 

I mean, Donald Trump is sitting in the White House, isn't he? If even you're a Trump supporter you have to admit this would have seemed impossible five years ago.

Maybe the Apocalypse works on a different timeline than it does in the movies. Maybe we're living in one only we can't see the forest fire for the burning trees. History can only be written from a distance.

2007 was the year Our Gods Wear Spandex was published and the year I began actively blogging on this site, so Happy Ten Year Anniversary to me. It's also the year that a newly-elected Senator - with a weird, oblique connection to the Council of Nine - announced his candidacy for President.


This week marks the 20th anniversary of the Heaven's Gate suicides, an event I've gone into some detail on this blog. Whatever the media might have you believe the Gate were a bonafide modern Gnostic sect, were serious and rigorous about their work and were deeply troubled by the emergence of the techno-surveillance state they saw emerging at the time. 

This week also marks the 20th anniversary of the last of the Order of the Solar Temple "suicides" ( rendered in quotes since many investigators suspect foul play by outside parties with the OST mass deaths). I wrote in some detail about the OST and their influence on pop culture here (the X-Files writers seemed especially fascinated with the OST and their unique status and history and the lingering questions over their deaths).

Postmortem reports claimed that the OST committed ritual suicide in order to spiritually ascend to Sirius, where they believe their souls originated from. If this is true this is another troubling link to the "Walk-Ins from Sirius" theme from Ruth Montgomery's seminal Aliens Among Us, which has also been linked to the Heaven's Gate suicides.

Last week marked the 20th anniversary of the Phoenix Lights flap, a controversial UFO sighting that caused a major media meltdown and has been the focus of a growing mythology ever since. What is particularly interesting about the Phoenix episode- however you view it-- is that it took place right down the highway from the Heaven's Gate compound in Rancho Santa Fe, CA. 

It may have been seen as the final sign that their ride was here, seeing as how the web-savvy cult was monitoring all kinds of infostreams for omens and portents. 

Next week also marks the 20th anniversary of the Outer Limits episode "Double Helix," which plays out like an idealized fantasy world version of Marshall Applewhite's most cherished beliefs. 

Seeing as how the suicides were discovered before its airing it plays like an elegy, a bizarre epitaph for the cult, its leader and their beliefs. How the hell that happened is anyone's guess.

Speaking of double helixes, 1997 saw the announcement that the first major cloning had been done, of "Dolly" the sheep. The news was broken in Roslin, Scotland, of all places (Dan Brown fans take note). More ominously it was also the year IBM's Deep Blue beat Garry Kasparov in chess. 

Coincidentally or not, Steve Jobs returned to Apple a few months later and changed the world as we knew it. One of his last projects was designing the Apple HQ, which looks like a friggin' flying saucer.

Why do all those events feel so closely entwined? We can't say we weren't warned.



1987 is the 30th anniversary of the publication of Whitley Strieber's seminal autobiography Communion, which brought the concept of alien abduction out of the fringes and into book store in America and other parts of the world. 

It's hard to explain to younger people what a phenomenon this book was, the controversy it engendered, and the effect it had on the culture. Strieber was a well-known author of best-selling horror novels, a couple of which had been adapted into movies (Wolfen and The Hunger) but never enjoyed a success like Communion, which stayed on the New York Times best-sellers list for months and sold millions worldwide.

Daytime talkshows were suddenly fora for abductees, whether real or imagined, as were popular tabloid TV shows like Unsolved Mysteries. The craze made celebrities out of Strieber, abduction researchers like Budd Hopkins and David Jacobs and later, Harvard psychologist John Mack. 

Oldline UFO researchers stewed on the sidelines, having traditionally regarded abduction reports with suspicion, if not contempt. Communion would lead to other projects, the Travis Walton biopic Fire in the Sky, The X-Files (which became an even greater phenomenon than Strieber's book), and the Steven Spielberg maxi-series Taken (which would be the SciFi Channel's most-watched series at the time of its airing).



1987 was also the year New Age seeped into the mainstream and has been insidiously rewriting its host body like a computer virus ever since. Pop culture was the medium yet again- a miniseries based on Shirley MacLaine's "spiritual authobiography" Out On a Limb was aired on ABC and planted the seeds for the Me Generation's catch-as-catch-can Theosophy 2.0. 

1987 saw "Ramtha" go wide with the publication of JZ Knight's autobiography, A State of Mind. Channeling soon became a multimiilion dollar industry, with hundreds of mini-Ramtha's popping out of the woodwork dispensing greeting card homilies for a spiritually-indiscriminate polity.

All you needed to do was squint, loll your head around meaningfully, adopt a weird quasi-British accent and learn to spout pseudo-profoundities and you were in clover.

Again, the New Age craze is hard to explain today, though in large part because the New Age is so ubiquitous today it's woven into the cultural fabric of most Western- and many non-Western- cultures. 

Yoga studios can be found in every sizable American town. Acupuncture and other "alternative" modalities are often covered by health insurance programs. Health food stores are slowly displacing conventional supermarkets and many more traditional houses of worship offer New Age programs (meditation, yoga, self-actualization) to their congregants.

1987 also saw the Harmonic Convergence (aka the "New Age Woodstock"), meant to act as the movement's big hop over the cultural fence. But its organizers (which included the original 2012 guru, Jose Arguelles) deeply misjudged the true nature of the movement and how it actually existed in the ideational biosphere. 

This wasn't a revolution, it was a slow-moving insurrection, one that subverted culture from within, all the while denying its very existence (the hallmark of a true New Ager is that they deny actually being a New Ager). Big, showy events weren't going to do the work. Tenacious, relentless but quieter actions were going to insinuate New Age into the mainstream.



1987 saw the Iran-Contra Affair- in which arms were sold to Iran in exchange for American hostages held by Iran-controlled radicals and the profits then diverted to anti-Sandinista militants in Nicaragua- become the major news story, dominating the headlines and Sunday talk shows for the entire year and into the next. 

Iran-Contra is also arguably the impetus for the true mainstreaming of conspiracy theory (just in time for the dawning of the Internet Era). Conspiracy research wasn't a fringe hobby then, it was front page news all across the world. It's just that the virus escaped from the lab and filtered down into places the mainstream media would have rather it hadn't.

But the real groundwork for the rise of conspiracy culture would be laid ten years earlier when the first fully-functional home computer, the Commodore PET was debuted at a trade show. 

Conspiracy theory may have thrived on talk radio (and short wave and ham radio, not to mention mail order) but it would explode on the Internet, even in the crudest venues of the BBS dial-in days.

At the same time the Commodore was unveiled, a new President from Plains, Georgia took office who swore to tear the lid off government corruption (and significantly, UFO secrecy) in Washington. 

Things, predictably, wouldn't work out so well for him.

1977 saw the commoditization of the modern Hollywood blockbuster-- already having birthed itself in 1975 with Steven Spielberg's Jaws. 

George Lucas' spiritual SF epic Star Wars and Spielberg's UFO fantasia Close Encounters of the Third Kind changed the rules forever (you can throw in Saturday Night Fever if you like, as it spawned the rise of the blockbuster soundtrack as well) and, as many would argue, planted the seeds for the eventual creation empoverishment of the Hollywood they created.

In today's market, doubles and triples are no longer be enough, you need to either write a movie off as a tax loss or score a grand slam blockbuster, complete with merchandising and ancillary rights.

But Star Wars and Close Encounters were such monsters because they filled a genuine void in the culture, a need for miracle and transcendence in a rapidly-secularlizing culture. In their wake the movies would become the dream theater of the masses, in the same way the great cathedrals were to the peasants of the Middle Ages.

Both films struck at the right time- NASA tested its first space shuttle at the beginning of the year, promising a new era in space exploration. One that has yet to come to pass, 40 years later. Even so the mood was right at the time.

On the other end of the ritual spectrum 1977 also saw the arrest of David Berkowitz, whom the media named as the sole "Son of Sam" killer despite the fact that witnesses had cogently and explicitly described other shooters not matching his description. 

Berkowitz himself would later claim he was a member of a sect of the Process Church of the Final Judgement, he was not the only shooter and that the killings were human sacrifices. And as fate would have it two of the men he claimed as his accomplices would die under mysterious circumstances not long after Berkowitz was arrested. 

And their father was named Sam.

Also in the summer of 1977, Elvis Presley died after a long struggle with obesity and prescription drug abuse. 

It was poetic in a Greek tragedy kind of fashion since '77 not only saw the precipitous rise of Disco as an all-consuming craze (Donna Summer had the first hit with a totally-synthesized record, "I Feel Love," that year) but also the breakthrough of punk rock and first-wave New Wave (the Sex Pistols, the Clash, Elvis Costello and Talking Heads all released their debuts), which took the basic, four to the floor rock 'n' roll Presley cut his teeth on and wed it to postmodernism, Dada and other weird, Continental theories that old-timers like the King would never have anything to do with.

Not that most of America even noticed. The Eagles' Hotel California, Pink Floyd's Animals and Fleetwood Mac's Rumors were albums most of the public were actually buying. Punk bombed bad in its first assault on American record stores and most of the first wave bands would soon break up or radically water down their styles in a bid to make it to the US Top 40. 

New Wave, which began as a marketing ploy to ease punk into the American market, would become the musical equivalent of New Age, a contagion that would insinuate itself into the host and rewrite the matrix from within. 

40 years later New Wave concepts are so dominant (irony and sarcasm not the least among them) in pop they're no longer recognized as distinct or unique. But that process began in earnest over 35 years ago, when MTV began beaming art school weirdos from England into a growing number of American living rooms. 

In short order even Jethro Tull and Bob Dylan- the onetime crunchiest of the crunchy- were recording with drum machines and sequencers.

There's more to come. 




          Frank Lloyd Wright: American Architect   
 By the dawn of the 20thcentury, architect Frank Lloyd Wright had discovered something I didn’t learn until the 21st century — that kleptocapitalism must finally and necessarily destroy the standards of every profession with which it comes into contact.
In his 1900 speech to the Architectural League of America in Chicago, titled The Architect, Wright “…reminded his colleagues that in this country commerce had triumphed over art,” wrote Robert C. Twombly in his book Frank Lloyd Wright: His Life and His Architecture. “The lust for money had reduced the architect to a servant of the business community.”
Wright charged that the American architect “…panders to silly women his silly artistic sweets,” trading experimentation and individuality for financial security. Wright called typical turn-of-the-century Chicago homes for the well-to-do “fantastic abortions” and said they “lied about everything.”
“(The architect) now modeled commercial buildings after Greek temples and luxury homes after Louis XIV palaces, all because the businessman and his wife ‘knew what they wanted,’” Twombly wrote. “No longer an independent spirit, the architect had become a salesman, peddling prepackaged ‘styles’ from the files of huge ‘plan-factories.’
“At the height of the industrial revolution in America, Wright was painfully aware that the new corporate elite had usurped the status of the professional, reducing him to an employee at its beck and call.”
In 21st century capitalism-gone-wild America, that sad state of professional degradation applies not just to architects but to physicians, professors, military officers, police officers, attorneys, journalists, you name it.
For pity’s sake, judges have been caught framing innocent American children because they’ve been bribed by private prison corporations to provide warm bodies in order to increase the corporation’s lucrative taxpayer subsidy.
---
Wright employed stylistic innovations to achieve an inobvious family privacy in his prairie houses. The windows were easy to see out of but, because of overhanging features, difficult to see into. Shielded by broad eaves, windows could stay open even in rain. Exterior doorways were hidden in recesses, behind walls or around corners.
“A house that has character stands a good chance of growing more valuable as it grows older, while a house in the prevailing mode, whatever that mode may be, is soon out of fashion, stale and unprofitable,” Wright said.
The McMansions that now litter our landscape, with their bludging, tumorous protrusions, are an example of the latter.
Twombly noted that with five children by 1901, Wright, in his home designs, “…took greater pains to provide for group solidarity than for individual interests. Whether it was a symbolic inglenook, a formal entryway, a playroom for his children or his many exquisite dining and living rooms, his most elaborate efforts were areas of group activity.”
“Wright understood the family to be a tightly knit group within a larger community from which it withdrew occasionally (but did not reject) for its own sustenance. More concerned at this stage of his life with family unity than personal freedom, he assumed the former made the latter possible.”
Twombly suggests that Wright’s turn-of-the-century prairie houses offered a combination of innovation and protection that appealed to their forward-looking but finally insecure upper middle class owners.
“As independent businessmen likely to own their own moderate-sized manufacturing concerns, and as conservative Protestant Republicans, they frowned on eccentric social behavior, liberal causes and protest literature,” he wrote. “In a period of ‘progressive’ reform, they clung to 19th century values and like others in the rapidly growing metropolis felt themselves engulfed by sweeping changes not entirely to their liking…
“Wright’s designs satisfied needs and wishes murkily understood but deeply felt by large numbers of city dwellers and satisfied them more fully, in fact, than conventional styles. The prairie house appealed to an apprehensive upper middle class by emphasizing in literal and symbolic ways the security, privacy, shelter, family mutuality and other values people found increasingly important in a period of urban dislocation and conflict.
“Rapid industrialization and urbanization in late 19th century America created a disorienting situation. Armies of working class immigrants from Europe and from American farms and small towns helped escalate social tensions and instabilities in the cities. Newcomers of all classes, having lost their roots, found their places of residence determined not by family tradition or landholding but by unpredictable and insecure market situations. Vast impersonal corporations assumed control over the lives of laboring people, over white collar workers and executives, and over self-employed businessmen and professionals whose livelihoods depended upon the whims of an incomprehensible and seemingly capricious economic system. The depression of the 1890s, the most devastating in American history to that point, exacerbated the general uneasiness as even more people began to sense their helplessness.
“Few individuals could count on uninterrupted upward mobility, permanent employment or a secure future for their children. Even the upper middle class, especially people like Wright’s clients who did not possess inherited wealth, faced the specter of possible downward mobility and the loss of everything.”
---
As an inspiration for Ayn Rand’s architect hero Howard Roark in The Fountainhead, Frank Lloyd Wright had, in a sense, helped her write her fiction by overdramatizing his career.
In a 1914 Architectural Record article, Wright presented “…his first proclamation of the ‘persecuted genius’ legend, an interpretation of his life as a continuous battle against overwhelming odds, as a struggle for principle despite social ostracism, personal indifference, financial hardship, public ridicule and personal rejection,” Twombly wrote.
“Publicly begun by Wright in 1914 and perpetuated by his closest admirers until the present day, the ‘persecuted genius’ legend became a major component of his self-image.”
In fact, Wright had notable professional support and public acclaim at the beginning of his career.
“Even Hollywood paid its respects,” Twombly noted. “Warner Brothers asked him to design sets for The Fountainhead (1949), based on Ayn Rand’s novel by the same name, but when Wright demanded $250,000 for the job — he did not want it — negotiations ended.”
---
Wright died in 1959, just before his 92nd birthday, a venerable, outspoken sage whom some called a crackpot. But we’d have recognized many of his concerns easily enough.
“Continued growth of the military establishment and the mushrooming of governmental bureaucracy and of corporate hegemony made him despair for the future of democracy,” Twombly noted. “Fearing that centralized authority manipulating a mass society would crush individual liberties, he interpreted American foreign policy as a cover to advance overseas corporate interests and attacked internal anticommunism as a ‘smoke screen’ for political consolidation to further selfish partisan gain.”

Too bad we didn’t listen to the architect. We might have built something better than the shabby, ramshackle structure this country has become.


          Helen Gahagan Douglas: She Who Must Be Waylaid   
“Helen Gahagan Douglas … had not the slightest interest in politics until the late 1930s. Her conversion was as dramatic as a first-act curtain in the theater.”
  Eleanor Roosevelt

Congresswoman Helen Gahagan Douglas, a former movie star and opera singer, was a principled beacon of liberal light following the death of FDR.
She had once played She Who Must Be Obeyed, and when she ran for Senate in California, Congressman Richard Nixon regarded her as She Who Must Be Waylaid.
---
Helen Gahagan Douglas
“While sitting in a Viennese coffeehouse with an English music critic who was a friend of several colleagues, the two discussed her new contract,” wrote Sally Denton in The Pink Lady: The Many Lives of Helen Gahagan Douglas. “Suddenly, the man leaned in conspiratorially and whispered, ‘Of course, Miss Gahagan, you are pure Aryan?’
“Helen felt sick to her stomach as the man attempted to recruit her to the Nazi cause. ‘Aryans such as we,’ he told her, ‘(have) a duty to defend the superior race against Jews.’ At first she couldn’t speak. Until that moment the perspective of Jews in the world was a purely abstract notion. Now, as the Englishman spouted the familiar rantings of Hitler and Goebbels while asking her to enlist the support of fellow Nazi sympathizers in America, she felt forever changed. Her ‘Irish blood at the boiling point,’ she tore up the contract and left for home.”
It didn’t help the English critic’s case that her husband, the film actor Melvyn Douglas, was a Jew.
---
But it was the Dust Bowl that really blew Helen Gahagan Douglas into politics.
Once upon a time, specifically in California during the Dust Bowl 1930s, those much-despised “illegal aliens” were American citizens who’d fled West.
“Confined to filthy camps, thousands of starving families were ‘herded about like animals,’ living without toilet or showers, while local officials and growers fought to keep the federal government from supplying the migrants with food and medical supplies, fearing that they would form permanent communities, join unions and, most significant, interfere with the cheap Mexican laborers they were shuttling across the border and paying slave wages,” wrote Denton.
 “Importing labor was far cheaper than establishing schools and health-care clinics for American migrant workers, so the growers used every method possible, including force, to get the migrants to move on.
“Helen and Melvyn had attended dinner parties at which the subject of the ‘Okies’ was raised and they were frequently appalled at the lack of compassion shown by many of their peers. They ‘listened with astonishment to people making comfortable statements about how the situation was exaggerated or that the migrants should stop being so lazy and dirty.’”
---
Guided by Eleanor Roosevelt, she became more involved in politics even as she became less involved in her marriage. After Melvyn started a serious affair with a co-star, they separated, but would never divorce.
“I suppose it is commonplace that most long-time couples divide areas of emotional response, even as they share responsibilities and material goods,” Melvyn said years later. “Certainly our friends, the Roosevelts, had done something like that.”
Rising in politics, Helen had few illusions about it. “I was raised in a household of dominating men, and I learned early that men guard their authority over women jealously,” Helen said. “As for politics, they sincerely believe public life to be a male bailiwick. They reason that men have been running the country for the past two hundred years and are meant to do so for centuries to come. In short, men would never share power with women willingly. If we wanted it, we would have to take it.”
---
Fighting a conservative tide to keep the liberal Henry Wallace vice president in 1944, Douglas gave an eloquent speech at the Democratic National Convention.
“The Democratic party is the true conservative party,” she said. “We have conserved hope and ambition in the hearts of our people. We are the conservative party. We have conserved the skills of their hands. We have husbanded our natural resources. We have saved millions of homes and farms from foreclosure and conserved the family stake in democracy.
“We have rescued banks and trust companies, insured crops and people's savings. We have built schools. We have checked the flooding rivers and turned them into power.
“We have begun a program to free men and women from the constant nagging fear of unemployment, sickness, accident—and the dread of insecure old age. We have turned a once isolated, flood-ravished, poverty-stricken valley, the home of four and a half million people, into what is now a productive, happy place to live—the Tennessee River Valley. We have replanted the forest, re-fertilized the soil. Ours is the conservative party.
“We have guarded children, protected them by labor laws, planned school-lunch programs, provided clinics. Ours is the conservative party. Ours is the party that has created laws which have given dignity and protection to the working men and women of this country. Ours is the party that has made the individual aware of the need for his participation in a true democracy. We are the conservative party.
“We have conserved the people's faith in a people's government—democracy.”
---
Elected to Congress in 1944, Douglas was often compared to her glamorous right-wing counterpart there, Clare Booth Luce, the playwright and wife of Time Inc. founder Henry Luce.
“Driving cross-country with her secretary Evie Chavoor, and a friend, Jarmila Marton, having decided to make the move to Washington by automobile, the women tuned the radio to a morning news broadcast,” Denton wrote. “They listened with amusement to the announcement that Helen had defeated Luce as one of the 10 best-dressed women in public life.
“The rookie congresswoman had broken a cap on her front tooth, leaving a gap and stump when she opened her mouth to smile. Evie ‘turned around and looked at Helen, and there she was in the back seat with her terrible sloppy pants on … huddled in a blanket, her hair all streaming down.’ The women howled with laughter, wishing a photographer could see her in such a state.”
Douglas understood, though, that the trivial focus on women’s looks was a means of undermining their power. “Congresswomen’s ideas should rate above their clothes and looks,” she said. “Why this emphasis on the sexes anyway, in a serious thing like government?”
“I never felt I left the stage,” Douglas said, and her clipped, powerful, theatrically trained voice was a great asset in politics.
But there was nothing phony about her, nothing fake. She was a proponent of what philosophers call “virtue ethics,” giving a fair summary of it in this quote: “Character isn’t inherited. One builds it daily by the way one thinks and acts, thought by thought, action by action. If one lets fear or hate or anger take possession of the mind, they become self-forged chains.”
---
The liberal and idealistic Douglas was waylaid by the rising, conniving and unprincipled Nixon, sounding an ugly theme that has echoed in American politics right into the 21stcentury.
Nixon’s dirty tactics — among them smearing Douglas as a Communist and sponsoring calls to ask voters if they were aware that her movie star husband was “a Jew” — earned him the apt, lifelong nickname Tricky Dick. But Douglas was also hampered by her own lofty idealism and California’s Chinatown-like civic corruption. And the times were against her, the 1950 election coinciding with both the rise of McCarthyism and the height of the Korean war.
“There was the United States fighting communism and I was the person who said we should limit the power of the military and try to disarm the world and get along with Russia,” Douglas said.
“The worst moment, a sight I couldn’t shake, was when children picked up rocks and threw them at my car, at me. I knew that in order to survive I would have to accept the rocks and the Nixon campaign, shrug them off and move on. I wondered if I would be able to do it.”
She was, finding herself exhausted but strangely calm after Nixon’s huge victory. “I was so pleased that I had escaped the terrible burden of hating Richard Nixon that I was almost elated,” she said.
Nixon, in later years, at least feigned regret over his behavior in the campaign. “Years later, asked by British publisher David Astor to explain his campaign tactics, Nixon reportedly ‘cast down his eyes with a look of modest contrition’ and explained, ‘I want you to remember that I was a very young man,’” wrote Anthony Summers in The Arrogance of Power: The Secret World of Richard Nixon. “In 1950, (Nixon) was 37 and a veteran of four years in the House of Representatives.”
Douglas summed it up simply: “There’s not much to say about the 1950 campaign, except that a man ran for Senate who wanted to get there, and didn’t care how he did it.”
After Nixon revealed his true character to the world in Watergate, and was driven from office in shame, Douglas had the last laugh. But she didn’t laugh. She mourned.
“If the national security is involved, anything goes,” she said in 1973. “There are no rules. There are people so lacking in roots about what is proper and improper that they don’t know there’s anything wrong in breaking into the headquarters of the opposition party.”
After Nixon’s resignation, a bumper sticker started appearing on vehicles throughout California: “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted for Helen Gahagan Douglas.”
Her secretary Nan Stevens said, “People rather expected that she would be gloating over Richard Nixon finally being found out, but she was only said. She thought it terrible for the country and for America’s reputation abroad. I know that makes her sound almost too good to be true, but she was good. I’m not saying Helen didn’t have feet of clay. But you had to look awfully hard to find her tiny clay feet.”
---
Douglas and her husband often led separate lives. She had an affair with, among others, Lyndon Baines Johnson, but became estranged from with him during his presidency over her support for disarmament and opposition to the escalating Vietnam War.
But Douglas and Melvyn were always good friends, and he made an impassioned radio speech for her during her doomed Senate campaign. “It is easier — as a matter of fact it is the easiest thing in the world — to call people of good will dirty names, to call them Communists,” he said.

Melvyn was at her side when she died of cancer in 1980, and he wrote, “She was entranced always by the light. In every house we ever occupied, she wanted the windows to be wider. She always thought no room could have too many windows … She was always saying, ‘Look at the light! Isn’t it beautiful? Shewas the light. And she was beautiful.’”

          Jean-Paul Sartre: Visionary of Violence   
Jean-Paul Sartre

Existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre wrote about learning to love music in the child’s dark refuge of the silent cinema during the 20th century’s second decade.
“Above all, I liked the incurable muteness of my heroes,” he wrote in his memoir The Words. “But no, they weren’t mute, since they knew how to make themselves understood.
“We communicated by means of music; it was the sound of their inner life. Persecuted innocence did better than merely show or speak of suffering: it permeated me with its pain by means of the melody that issued from it.
“I would read the conversation, but I heard the hope and bitterness; I would perceive by ear the proud grief that remains silent.
“I was compromised; the young widow who wept on the screen was not I, and yet she and I had only one soul: Chopin’s funeral march; no more was needed for her tears to wet my eyes. I felt I was a prophet without being able to foresee anything: even before the traitor betrayed, his crime entered me; when all seemed peaceful in the castle, sinister chords exposed the murderer’s presence.
“How happy were those cowboys, those musketeers, those detectives: their future was there, in that premonitory music, and governed the present. An unbroken song blended with their lives, led them on to victory or death by moving toward its own end. They were expected: by the girl in danger, by the general, by the traitor lurking in the forest, by the friend who was tied up near a powder-keg and who sadly watched the flame run along the fuse.
“The course of that flame, the virgin’s desperate struggle against her abductor, the hero’s gallop across the plain, the interlacing of all those images, of all those speeds, and, beneath it all, the demonic movement of the “Race to the Abyss,” an orchestral selection taken from The Damnation of Faust and adapted for the piano, all of this was one and the same: it was Destiny.
“The hero dismounted, put out the fuse, the traitor sprang at him, a duel with knives began: but the accidents of the duel likewise partook of the rigor of the musical development; they were fake accidents which ill concealed the universal order. What joy when the last knife stork coincided with the last chord! I was utterly content, I had found the world in which I wanted to live, I touched the absolute. What an uneasy feeling when the lights went on: I had been wracked with love for the characters and they had disappeared, carrying their world with them. I had felt their victory in my bones; yet it was theirs and not mine. In the street I found myself superfluous.”
---
“Assured of living in the best of all possible worlds, I made it my business to purge it of its monsters,” wrote Sartre, recalling his childhood fantasies in The Words.
“As cop and lyncher, I sacrificed a gang of bandits every evening. I killed without pleasure or anger, in order to save young ladies from death. Those frail creatures were indispensable to me; they called out for me. Obviously they could not have counted on my help since they did not know me. But I thrust them into such great perils that nobody could have rescued them unless he were I.
“When the janissaries brandished their curved scimitars, a moan went through the desert and the rocks said in the sand: ‘Someone’s missing here. It’s Sartre.’ At that very moment I pushed aside the screen. I struck out with my sabre and sent heads flying. I was being born in a river of blood. Oh, blessed steel. I was where I belonged…
“I would hurry to bed, reel off my prayers and slip between the sheets. I was eager to get back to my mad recklessness. I grew older in the darkness, I became a lonely adult, without father or mother, without home or hearth, almost without a name.
“I would walk on a flaming roof, carrying in my arms an unconscious woman. The crowd was screaming below me.  At that moment, I would utter the fateful words: ‘Continued in the next installment.’
“‘What did you say?’ my mother would ask. I would answer cautiously: ‘I’m leaving myself in suspense.’ And the fact is that I would fall asleep, amidst those perils, in a state of thrilling insecurity.”
---
As Sartre matured, his fantasies of violence were replaced by an analysis of the realities of violence.
In the 1940s, the conquered French were tortured by their German occupiers. By the 1950s, the freed French were torturing the Arab natives in colonized Algeria. That irony was not lost on philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre.
“Sartre wrote a sensational review, published in L’Express, of Henri Alleg’s book The Question, an account of being tortured by paratroopers in Algiers,” wrote Ronald Aronson in his book Camus & Sartre.
“Beginning with the memory of the Germans torturing the French at Gestapo headquarters in 1943, Sartre recalled that the French had declared it to be impossible that ‘one day men should be made to scream by those acting in our name. There is no such word as impossible: in 1958, in Algiers, people are tortured regularly and systematically… Appalled, the French are discovering this terrible truth: that if nothing can protect a nation against itself, neither its traditions nor its loyalties nor its laws, and if 15 years are enough to transform victims into executioners, then its behavior is no more than a matter of opportunity and occasion. Anybody, at any time, may equally find himself victim or executioner.’”
The French government inadvertently underlined the truth of Sartre’s words by immediately trying to censor them.
“His powerful denunciation caused L’Express to be confiscated by the authorities on March 6, 1959, and during the next several weeks the article became famous by being published in a pamphlet, confiscated, then appearing in a scroll that could only be read with a magnifying glass, and finally being published in Switzerland,” Aronson noted.
Writing in 1961, Sartre eloquently examined the full extent of what the tortured felt prepared to do once they turned torturer.
“Violence in the colonies does not only have for its aim the keeping of these enslaved men at arm’s length; it seeks to dehumanize them,” Sartre wrote. “Everything will be done to wipe out their traditions, to substitute our language for theirs and to destroy their culture without giving them ours. Sheer physical fatigue will stupefy them. Starved and ill, if they have any spirit left, fear will finish the job; guns are leveled at the peasant; civilians come to take over his land and force him by dint of flogging to till the land for them. If he shows fight, the soldiers fire and he’s a dead man; if he gives in, he degrades himself and he is no longer a man at all; shame and fear will split up his character and make his inmost self fall to pieces.”
Before Bush and Cheney’s regime, I too thought it impossible that men should be made to scream by those who were acting in the name of my nation. During and since Bush and Cheney’s regime, I too discovered that nothing can protect a nation against itself, least of all rebranding it a “homeland” to justify the use of torture.
Sartre wrote, “We are living at the moment when the match is put to the fuse.” And I know just how he felt.

          Life as a VCHS Club President   
Jessica Reid is a senior who has been going to VCS for six years.  In September of 2017, Reid will be attending the University of California Los Angeles.  She will join her older sister Katelyn there. Reid participates in four AP classes (5 if you separate Economics and Government) while balancing being a part of four clubs […]
          Your rental property can be seized as Proceeds of Drug Money Laundering   
Here is the situation;

Couple owns a few rental properties that they rent to [second chance] ex cons, people down on their luck, homeless people trying to re establish themselves, low income housing.

Police decide that rent payments made to the Landlord in cash must be the proceeds of crime since the only form of income for the tenant is dealing drugs.

This very scenario is playing out right now in the Ontario Courts under the Civil Forfeiture Act.  

Here are the details in Broad strokes;

Margaret and Terry Reilly are from Orillia, Ontario. The Reilly's own several rental properties, some of which are former single-family homes that they have converted into rooming houses for low-income tenants. Margaret has been involved in alleviating poverty and homelessness since her father became the priest at an inner-city Anglican church in Toronto and opened a youth hostel there, while Terry has served on the City of Orillia Homeless Committee. Providing housing to marginalized members of society has always been a deliberate choice for the Reilly's.In 2008, after police surveillance confirmed drug activity at two of the Reilly's rental properties, a branch of the government called the Director of Asset Management took control of them. Since then, the properties have languished largely unoccupied, falling into progressively worse repair. Stripped of their rights as landlords, the Reillys had no choice but to watch their properties deteriorate physically and depreciate in value. Then, in 2012, the Government of Ontario brought a motion to permanently seize and sell the properties on the grounds that some of the tenants’ rents may have been paid, in part, with the proceeds of their drug activity. There is no evidence that any funds paid by tenants was derived from drug money; the state merely assumed that cash payments must have come from the proceeds of illegal activity. http://theccf.ca/r-v-reilly-civil-forfeiture/ 

This property(S) were seized under the Forfeiture Act without anyone being charged.
This family has NEVER had their day in court but had their property taken away.

The lesson here is monitor your tenant activity; visit twice of more time per year to ascertain the activity in YOUR PROPERTY.   Be more diligent in your tenant screening. Bad things can happen to good people. 

#ASKPYLYP

Use a realtor to screen tenants in your rental condos.

Ready to invest?   If  I haven't scared you call me at 647 218 2414
http://Davidpylyp.com 
          INSIGHTS to the condo market - Toronto 2017    
Urbanation recently polled Builders to ascertain the level of FOREIGN OWNERSHIP in the Toronto Condominium Market


The results of a survey conducted by Urbanation Inc. indicate that the majority (52%) of buyers of new condominium units in the Greater Toronto Area are being purchased by investors who do not intend to occupy their units and that only about 5% of new units are being purchased by foreign buyers (i.e. buyers whose primary residence is outside of Canada). The survey was conducted among developers of condominium projects being developed in the 3rd quarter of 2016 (projects in the pre-construction and construction stages and recently completed projects). Urbanation Inc. is a research company that has been analyzing the Toronto condominium market since 1981.The results of the Urbanation survey are consistent with the findings set out in the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (“CMHC”) November, 2016 report, Housing Market Insight Canada – Foreign Ownership. The CMHC reportindicates that foreign ownership of condominiums in the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area in 2016 was 2.3%, with the greatest concentration of foreign ownership in new condominiums and condominiums with more than 500 units.There has been considerable speculation as to whether the Government of Ontario will introduce a tax on foreign buyers, as was done in British Columbia. Since the results of the surveys conducted by both Urbanation and CMHC indicate that only a small percentage of units are being purchased by foreign buyers, this would seem to suggest that there is no need for a foreign buyers tax.Another survey conducted by Urbanation indicated that the supply of condominium units in the Greater Toronto Area listed as available for rent dropped by 13% in the 3rd quarter of 2016.“Market conditions became very tight in the third quarter with the average condo rental spanning only 12 days on the market and the number of units renting for above asking price more than doubling from a year ago.”These findings are consistent with recent findings of the Toronto Real Estate Board, which indicated that rental rates for condominium units had escalated considerably due to the fact that there were fewer new condominium projects being completed in the third quarter.With the hot real estate market in the GTA it will be interesting to see what happens in 2017.

Many are looking at these results in light of BC's additional tax of $150,000 per property in Vancouver and Toronto's eyeing Revenue Tools ( additional Taxes )

Do you think we need a Toronto Condo Tax on Foreign Owners?

How do we decide who is a foreigner?
Are they a Student?

Are the Landed Immigrant or Permanent Resident?

What's the best way to see a condo unit?

Matterport of course


http://Bit.ly/CondoTour


List your condo?







          One in 10 could be behind with their mortgage   
The high level of debt carried by Home Owners in Toronto is exceeding their capacity to safe for their rainy day fund.   One singular event, a car accident or if one wage earner is laid off can have serious consequences.

We may qualify at the posted rates and take a mortgage at the variable rates; additional expenses make it harder to save for retirement or that annual vacation.

Who says so?   CD Howe Institute.  December of 2015

 The portion of mortgage indebted households with a primary mortgage debt-to-disposable income ratio in excess of 500 percent has climbed from 3 percent in 1999 to 11 percent in 2012.December 9, 2015 – The federal government should pay close attention to several pockets of risk in the Canadian housing market, according to a new C.D. Howe Institute report. In “Mortgaged to the Hilt: Risks From The Distribution of Household Mortgage Debt,” authors Craig Alexander and Paul Jacobson expose pockets of vulnerability by going beyond national averages and focusing on the distribution of house mortgage debt by income, age and region, all of which matter most when assessing risk.
“Household mortgage debt has risen dramatically and traditional economy-wide averages understate the degree of financial risk for those that carried mortgages because they typically divide the value of mortgages across the income of households with and without mortgages”, remarks Alexander.
Using the data from the Survey of Financial Security, the authors find that the ratio of the value of mortgages on primary dwellings have jumped from 144 percent of after-tax income in 1999 to 204 percent in 2012.  However, this also understates the degree of financial risk for a significant minority of households.
The author’s analysis suggests that a significant minority of Canadians having taken on a high degree of financial risk. The portion of mortgage indebted households with a primary mortgage debt-to-disposable income ratio in excess of 500 percent has climbed from 3 percent in 1999 to 11 percent in 2012. Their analysis of the distribution of mortgage debt is as follows:
  1. Income: The increase in highly mortgage-indebted households has been in all income groups, but more so in lower-income quintiles.
  1. Age: The increase in financial risk is also evident across all age groups, but more so for younger Canadians who have entered the market most recently.
  1. Region: As one might expect, there has been greater concentration of mortgage debt in the provinces with the strongest housing booms.
Additionally, the authors find that roughly 1-in-5 of mortgage indebted households have less than $5,000 in financial assets to draw upon in response to a loss of income or to higher debt service costs. 1-in-10 mortgage-indebted households have less than $1,500 in financial assets to address any shock. This represents an inadequate financial buffer, as average mortgage payments are more than $1,000 a month, before taxes and operating costs.
The federal government may want to consider further policy actions to lean against the shift towards significantly higher mortgage burdens. However, such policy measures should not be unduly heavy handed and should be targeted to address the distributional nature of the risks.
For example, potential targeted measures would be to tighten underwriting requirements by lifting required credit scores, capping total debt-service ratios at lower levels, lifting qualifying interest rates when doing income testing, or varying the minimum downpayment by the size of mortgage to target higher-priced markets. Such measures would build on the regulatory tightening already done to date without posing a material threat to Canadian real estate markets. https://www.cdhowe.org/sites/default/files/attachments/research_papers/mixed/Commentary_441_0.pdf    Click here for the full report

Getting the correct Mortgage Advice; living with your means and eliminating HIGH Interest rate credit card debt all count towards securing your long term comfort.  I recommend a debt check up with http://RenewyourMortgage.ca

Because the best mortgage is NO mortgage at all.

David Pylyp

TXT 647 218 2414 or Email
          Taxing the Land Transfer Tax in Toronto   
Instead of curbing spending Toronto City Councillor pitches extra tax on Home and condo purchasers. 


Toronto Canada has the highest Tax to purchase a home based on the sales price of the transaction.

The Ontario Government imposes a Land Transfer Tax
The City of Toronto imposes their own Land Transfer tax

Check what a sale a $750,000 would cost you.
http://www.trebhome.com/buying/ltt_calculator/ltt_calculator.htm

Now they want you to pay a NEW tax on the tax

At the city of Toronto's budget committee meeting on Tuesday, they'll be discussing a proposed $75 administration fee. Torontonians will have to pay the fee in order to process a Municipal Land Transfer Tax payment.

It was put forward by Toronto City Councillor Gary Crawford

If passed, the fee would be imposed as of April 1st and would reportedly save the city $5 million a year.

For more details about the proposal visit http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2016.BU18.1

- See more at: http://www.newstalk1010.com/news/2016/01/24/toronto-budget-committee-proposal-looks-to-add-processing-fee-to-municipal-land-transfer-tax-payments#sthash.uqUAa89l.dpuf

   

          NEW Improved Protecting Condominium Owners Act now in place    
With almost 600,000 condominium units in the Province of Ontario and more coming; the Condominium Act was slated for review.

I disagree with an additional layer of government that is ruled by Tribunals that require paralegal representation and will require funding [ we pay ] as compared to legal redress. This also will cure many self managed Condo buildings that run rogue over residents.

However the Top Talking points are;

A new Condominium Authority will be established in 2015 to prevent common disputes and serve as a cheaper alternative than the court system to resolve problems. It will be an independent, not-for-profit corporation self-funded by a $1-per-unit monthly fee and will fall under the oversight of the provincial auditor general.

There will be mandatory licensing and education requirements for condominium managers. The new administrative authority is designed to regulate condo managers and property management companies through a compulsory licensing system and a code of ethics.

Governance requirements for those on condo boards will include training of directors. Boards would no longer have to pass a by-law in order to hold a conference call or virtual meeting online. And they would be required to update owners regularly on insurance and any legal proceedings.

There will be clearer rules to protect owners from sticker-shock costs after purchasing newly built units. Developers will be required give buyers a guide to condominium living at the time of sale and the Ontario new home warranty will soon also apply to some condo conversion projects in older buildings.

Improved regulation for condo corporations should help curb financial mismanagement and organizational bungling and reduce fraud. It would forbid condo corporations from finalizing some maintenance contracts unless they have sought competing bids for work and give owners more information about their corporation’s finances and clarify rules about reserve funds.



The Protecting Condominium Owners Act 2015  Bill 106 
is available here
http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/bills/bills_detail.do?locale=en&BillID=3399

Better or Worse Its here

What do you think?



          Smoke Smoke Smokin' in my condo   
UMMMmmm

Trudeau...   The Past Prime Minister said it best when he said the "Government has no business in your bedroom"

What would he say about this?


Section 2(1) of the Human Rights Code provides that:
2.  (1)  Every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to the occupancy of accommodation, without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, family status, disability or the receipt of public assistance.
For the purposes of section 2(1) “occupancy of accommodation” has been interpreted to include living in a condominium corporation and “disability” includes a medical condition which may be irritated by the presence of smoke.
It is crucial to note that the Human Rights Code takes precedence over all other Ontario provincial laws, including the Condominium Act.
http://www.millerthomson.com/en/publications/newsletters/mtcondolaw-ontario/june-2014/the-smoker-next-door-responding-to-smoke

Meanwhile, those who smoke on balconies and carelessly flick their butts away are responsible for fires.   Who says so?    The Fire Department.

In the last five years, cigarettes sparked 97 fires on condo and apartment balconies, tallying $45M in damage, said fire chief Ken Block.
That includes the Clareview condo complex fire in May sparked by cigarette butt discarded into a diaper pail, which left more than 300 people without a home.
"Fires caused by the improper disposal of smoking material are completely preventable, and yet are the cause of some of our city's most dangerous and devastating fires, http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/cigarette-butt-receptacles-ordered-for-condo-apartment-balconies-1.3114066

So where will we go for a cigarette?

What about marijuana?   Legal Medical use...  I have a permit / script for that...   right?

What are your thoughts?










          BP Gets Biggest Criminal Fine After Biggest U.S. Oil Spill   

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- BP will pay the U.S. government $4.5 billion over a span of years to settle criminal claims against the British oil giant resulting from its April 2010 Macondo well oil spill, called the largest manmade environmental disaster in U.S. history.

In addition to what amounts to the largest-ever criminal settlement with federal authorities, BP said it will plead guilty to 11 felony counts and two of its employees will face criminal manslaughter charges for their role in the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

"All of us at BP deeply regret the tragic loss of life caused by the Deepwater Horizon accident as well as the impact of the spill on the Gulf coast region," Bob Dudley, BP's chief executive, said in a statement. " We apologize for our role in the accident, and as today's resolution with the U.S. government further reflects, we have accepted responsibility for our actions," he added. ...

Click to view a price quote on BP.

Click to research the Energy industry.


          Comment on Domestic Militarization Comes to San Bernardino County by U.S. Government Gears Up To Release Bio-Weapon On Civilian Populace As Doomsday Event Looms? :   
[...] numerous domestic policing activities in close to a dozen states including Florida, Tennessee, California, Alabama, [...]
          Unstoppable Petya Ransomware CyberAttack Hits Networks and Computers in Over 65 Countries   
Yesterday saw the second major ransomware outbreak in a matter of less than two months. Countless big and small organizations including financial and government institutions, media, Russia’s Central Bank, Airports in Kiev, the shipping giant Maersk, and a number of other companies working in a variety of industries had their computer systems locked. Microsoft says […]
          Probation Officer / Community Youth Worker - Government of Saskatchewan - Creighton, SK   
As part of the Risk-Need-Responsivity model, you will conduct validated generalized and specialized assessments that are evidence based, prepare court reports,... $29.06 - $36.42 an hour
From Government of Saskatchewan - Tue, 27 Jun 2017 22:25:39 GMT - View all Creighton, SK jobs
          Israel’s Government Crashes into the Wall   
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not our elected leader. The government of Israel is not our elected government. But, as members of the Jewish people, the Land of Israel is our ancestral birthplace, and its holy places are our holy places. And a deal is a deal. By virtue of our birthright, we have... Read More
          NEW JEWISH LEADERS   
The Baltimore Jewish Council recently graduated a new class from its Leadership Development Program, where participants interested in pursuing leadership positions in the Jewish community learn about government relations, community relations and public affairs through a Jewish lens.
          Ebook Download A Very Courageous Decision: The Inside Story of Yes Minister Free PDF Online   

0 - Download A Very Courageous Decision: The Inside Story of Yes Minister Ebook Free Online





Alternative Download Link - A Very Courageous Decision: The Inside Story of Yes Minister


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          Ebook Download More Money Than Brains: Why School Sucks, College is Crap, Idiot Think They're Right (Globe and Mail Notable... Free PDF Online   

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          What's in a two letter abbreviation (CA)?   
I just ran across this tweet from Jim Weirich:

reading the tracking info from UPS and suddenly realized that there is a big difference between "Ontario, CA" and "Ontario, CA, US"

A Google search of the words "ontario ca" yields a hodgepodge of results:



As you can see, Google shows a link to the Google Map for Ontario, Canada; the official website for the city of Ontario, California; a Wikipedia entry for Ontario, California; and the home page for the Government of Ontario, Canada.

The confusion is the result of two competing standards: the official state abbreviations as maintained by the US Postal Service (in which "CA" stands for California), and the list of top-level domains as maintained by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (in which "CA" stands for Canada). And, of course, there's the underlying fact that the California city was named after the home of the Chaffey brothers who founded the place. (Not sure where they got the "Mildura" name from when they went to Australia, but did you know that there is a Chaffey Secondary College down under?)

But despite this confusion, Canada and California have learned to work together. The Canada-California Strategic Innovation Partnership does a lot of things that I'm sure are strategic and innovative.

Just don't refer to the organization as CACA. That's a Japanese seminar devoted to the categorical aspects of constructive algorithmics. It ended up changing its name to TOPS (The Tokyo Programming Seminar).
          Broken Genome Tracks Girl Scouts; Live!!   

Recorded in front of a live audience and benefitting Part Hall and KBCZ 90.1 FM, Boulder Creek, CA, we covered broken internet, vegetarianism permanently reshaping the human genome, Amazon buying Whole Foods, new browser tech, Meditation changing your DNA, court protecting your online social rights, and much more geek news of the week including questions form our live audience.


          South Africa approves export of 800 lion skeletons this year   
JOHANNESBURG (AP) -- Some 800 skeletons of captive-bred lions can be legally exported from South Africa this year, the government said Wednesday, meeting demand for the bones in parts of Asia while alarming critics who believe the policy threatens Africa's wild lions....
          Melbourne Chamber To Host ‘State of the State’ Government Affairs Breakfast June 29   
The Melbourne Regional Chamber of Commerce will host a government affairs "State of the State" breakfast on Thursday, June 26 at the Hilton Melbourne Rialto Place, located at 200 Rialto Place.
          Paris, part I    
I have been procrastinating the difficult chore of writing on here that Paris isn't appealing to me, but I can't longer postpone it. 

Yes, Paris is a difficult city to live in. First and most importantly, because finding an apartment is a terrible nightmare and even worse if you are going to stay for a short period as it's my case. Second, because everything is expensive. I had been to Paris before, but the longer period was a month, so I really didn't get to see or analyze how expensive the daily spending was.




Then it's the clochard distress. It is really sad to see that many people living on the streets. Yeah, big cities gather all sorts of people, of course. But in the last couple of years I have been to different cities such as Budapest, Havana or Oslo and lived in London and Madrid and I haven't seen so much misery on their streets. Seriously. You get to see people sleeping on the tube platforms, on little streets, on big avenues, you get to see mothers breastfeeding their babies while begging for money at the busy Quarter Latin... I know you can't make the problem disappear and it is a difficult one, I have no idea and I just wonder if the government has any sort of plan or deal or allowance or something, something to cut poverty on the streets of Paris. But if they do have one, it's definitely not going well at all.


I must admit this impression could be that I am just going to the wrong places, but Parisians aren't that fashionable -but they are rude enough-. Of course there are well-dressed people, cool people, but just like in Milan or London or any other big city. That allure you can almost smell when you like fashion and you imagine Paris seems to be no longer available. I'd rather not talk about rudeness, but if you are coming over, just think rudeness will find you.

I will be back soon with a more positive post!


          April 17th with guest Frank Feschino Jr. with the Flatwoods Monster   
Shaun and Nathan start looking into the mystery of the Flatwoods Monster with Frank Feschino, Jr. www.flatwoodsmonster.com Five years after the 1947 Roswell, New Mexico crash story, the most terrifying UFO encounter in history occurred. On September 12, 1952 the United States Government was shocked when a damaged UFO penetrated this country’s airspace and crash-landed […]
          A Valentine's Treat   

Ask any race organizer and he will most likely agree with me. While a runner’s day starts a few hours prior to a race, a race organizer’s starts on the day he said yes. 

How long does it take to get a race organized? The difference between this race and my first (hospital activity) and second (school activity) race directing duties was on the level of participation. This was an open run on a provincial scale.


My day started about 2 weeks prior when my proposal last year for a quarterly run was approved by the Provincial Government of Agusan del Sur.

Dubbed Valentine’s 8k and 5k Fun Run, my proposed race was unique in itself. Agusan del Sur divided into 2 Congressional districts since the latest elections will have 2 starting points but one finish line, the Governor’s residence.





This race will also usher in the 80th birthday celebration of the province's matriarch considered "Ang Inahan sa Agusan del Sur", former Governor Valentina Galido Plaza.

District 1 will have a hilly 8k from Prosperidad Municipal Hall with the gun being fired by none other than former Governor now Congresswoman Tina Plaza. Running the 8 on this one with its unforgiving elevations will feel like 10.  


Newly formed District 2 will have a flat 5k from neighboring San Francisco town, its gun start fired by Congresswoman Bebs Mellana. 

All runners will converge at Governor Eddie Bong Plaza’s residence in Patin-ay where Certificates and snacks await the finishers, as well as, prizes for the Top 3 finishers.





With the support of the Provincial Government of Agusan del Sur, anchored by the Regional Trial Court Branch 6, Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Agusan del Sur Chapter and the D.O.  Plaza Memorial Hospital Medics, the race started amidst foggy and cloudy conditions, perfect climate for runners.

And with over 300 registrants for the 5k division and more than 50 runners for the 8k, the race saw running enthusiasts as young as 10 to as old as 67, this despite the lack of full information dissemination through radio, print and broadcast media as the organizers were keeping the numbers down for safety reasons.

Special thanks to the following:

   -Former Governor Valentina Galido Plaza
   -Office of the Provincial Governor, Hon. Adolph Edward G. Plaza
   -Office of the Provincial Administrator
   -Office of the Provincial Sports Coordinator
   -Regional Trial Court Branch 6
   -IBP Agusan del Sur
   -Philippine National Police and Highway Patrol Group
   -Search and Rescue Agusan del Sur (SARAS)
   -Medical First Responders (MFR) 
   -Patin-ay National High School
   -Office of the Vice Mayor Frederick Mark Mellana, Prosperidad
   -Office of the Mayor of San Francisco
   -Office of House Representative Hon. Valentina "Tina" G. Plaza
   -Office of House Respresentative Hon. Evelyn "Bebs" Mellana
   -Edward P. Mellana

 
  -and the D.O. Plaza Memorial Hospital Medics composed of our tireless doctors (Lor, Marge, Erryll, Elmore, Susan, Mama Bau, Viern, Richard, Rhadz, Alain and the rest) and nurses (Kat, Alvin, Ed, Luchie, Bepven, Daryl and the rest) for making this event a success.

Mandated by the Governor himself who is an active outdoorsman, a planned 10 miler to a half marathon distance (21k) is in the works to herald the celebration of the Naliyagan Festival in June. The race will involve neighboring towns and NGOs so the number of registrants will be higher. 

This is probably one of those times when I want 3 of me, 1 to run the race, 1 to take photos, and the other to supervise.

Watch out for it!

Until then, see you on the road runners!

Photos at our fan page. Facebook: DOPMH Medics

          The 1646 LBCF on Civil Government   
A new MP3 sermon from New Covenant Baptist Church is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: The 1646 LBCF on Civil Government
Speaker: Pastor Joseph Jaco
Broadcaster: New Covenant Baptist Church
Event: Sunday Service
Date: 1/22/2017
Bible: Romans 13:1-7
Length: 58 min. (64kbps)
          Melding science and tradition to tackle climate change   

In the latest of several partnerships between tradition and modern science aimed at improving resilience to climate change, pastoralists and meteorologists in Tanzania are working together to produce weather forecasts better suited to farmers.

The hope is that by drawing from both indigenous knowledge and contemporary weather forecasting techniques, crop yields could be increased.

“We wanted to see if the two can complement or supplement each other,” Isaac Yonah, a senior officer coordinating community meetings employed by the Tanzania Meteorological Agency (TMA), told IRIN by phone.

Using traditional indicators such as the movement of red ants, the flowering of mango and other trees, the migration of termites and patterns and colours in the sky, farmers in Sakala village of Ngorongoro District compare their two-weekly forecasts with those released by the TMA.

“This is done… to validate how accurate their forecast is and to come up with a consensus [forecast]. In the last three seasons, more than 80 percent accuracy in the findings has been witnessed,” said Yonah.

The project is a partnership between TMA, Hakikazi Catalyst (a non-profit organization), and the UK-based International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).

“Strengthening such practices could enhance the resilience of communities which are most vulnerable to climate change. Upscaling the projects will see the knowledge gap between traditional and scientific bridged,” said Yonah.

Research published in Uganda in 2013 detailed 23 different indicators used by traditional forecasters to predict weather.

“Farmers would profit from weather forecasts provided by governmental institutions. This [marriage of the old and new] will enable farmers to make sound decisions on how to fully exploit the seasonal distribution of rainfall to improve and stabilize crop yields,” said Joshua Okonyo, author of the study Indigenous Knowledge of Seasonal Weather Forecasting.

The indicators cited included wind direction, cuckoo calls, and the timing of winged termites’ departure from their nests.

Working with the Nganyi community in Kenya

For the past five years in Kenya, government meteorologists have worked with the Nganyi community in the west of the country in a project carried out in collaboration with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Climate Prediction and Application Centre (ICPAC).

The Nganyi observe bird migrations and other animal behaviour in their forecasts.

“After thorough research, we have noticed that these traditional indicators have a high scientific value that could be integrated with the local climate information,” said Laban Ogallo, the project’s coordinator.

“Since predicting weather within the tropics is a challenge to scientists, we wanted to learn how the [Nganyi] community has been doing it over the years. Their knowledge will be helpful,” Abraham Changara, chief meteorologist at the Kenya Meteorological Department, told IRIN.

As meteorologists are waking up to the value of traditional forecasting methods in adapting to climate change, it seems climate change itself poses a threat to the sustainability of these methods.

''There is rapid disappearance of plants and animals due to climate variability and human activities,” according to Weather Forecasting and Indigenous Knowledge Systems, published by Great Zimbabwe University.

“There are few elders aware of traditional methods of weather forecasting. This makes traditional weather forecast less reliable,'' the study added.

ho/am/cb

100125 201405231354240096.jpg Analysis Food Climate change Environment and Disasters Climate change, science and tradition IRIN KISUMU Angola Burkina Faso Burundi Benin Botswana DRC Congo, Republic of Côte d’Ivoire Cameroon Colombia Cape Verde Djibouti Eritrea Ethiopia Gabon Ghana Gambia Guinea Equatorial Guinea Guinea-Bissau Kenya Liberia Lesotho Morocco Madagascar Mali Mauritania Mauritius Malawi Mozambique Namibia Niger Nigeria Rwanda Seychelles Sudan Sierra Leone Senegal Somalia Sao Tome and Principe Swaziland Chad Togo Tanzania Uganda Samoa South Africa Zambia Zimbabwe
          March 9th with Stanton Friedman   
G&D 03-09-08 G&D talk with Stanton Friedman – Often referred to as the “Father of Roswell,” Stan was the first to investigate the incident beginning in 1978. He is the man who brought the story to the public’s attention, and out from under the government’s lid of secrecy. Stan has been investigating UFO incidents and […]
          Arthur I. Cyr: North Korea killing of Otto Warmbier — and how to respond    
The tragic death of Otto Warmbier, the young American imprisoned and tormented by the nightmare North Korea regime, is a poignant as well as horrific event. The death of a young person is particularly tragic, under any circumstances. The undeniable evidence of brutal treatment of this young man, who was in a coma when released by the government in Pyongyang, is profoundly disturbing.Warmbier was accused by the regime of stealing a communist propaganda poster from a restricted staff area in [...]
          Write Legal Document / Lawsuit by Caesarae   
I need Legal Document written to submit to a Organization * You need to have U.S Government knowledge * Civil Right Laws knowledge * Up to speed with President media publishing and topics (Budget: $30 - $250 USD, Jobs: Legal, Legal Research, Legal Writing)
          JDM Associates Awarded $20 Million U.S.D.O.E. Better Buildings Initiative Contract   

Better Buildings is a broad, multi-strategy initiative aiming to improve the energy efficiency of the nation’s buildings by 20% over ten years. JDM will provide the leadership role in working with corporate leaders, utilities, universities, states, municipalities, government officials, commercial real estate investors and others to meet this ambitious goal; estimated savings in energy bills of more than $80 billion per year will be used to create jobs, hire more workers, invent new products and create additional shareholder and asset value.

(PRWeb June 05, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/06/prweb12767767.htm


          Aliens Attack And Congress Goes Extreme In CBS' Political Satire 'BrainDead'   
Remember that meteorite that smashed into Russia a few years ago, with enough people filming it as it came to Earth to cause a brief Internet sensation? Robert and Michelle King certainly do. The creators of The Good Wife use some of those images in the opening moments of their new CBS series, BrainDead, to set up a bizarre but very enjoyable hypothetical scenario. Here's the weird what-if: What if a meteorite like that one is recovered by Russians and forwarded to the United States for further study and eventual display in the Smithsonian? And what if that happens right at the start of a government shutdown, allowing the outer-space rock to burst open undetected, spilling out a veritable army of ant-like space bugs? And what if those bugs have the power, and the inclination, to creep around inside the Beltway and into the ears of politicians and their staffers, eating and mutating their brains? And what if those brain mutations result in politicians who are partisan in the extreme —
          The Entire Trump Agenda Is Now at Risk   

Ryan Lizza: “The GOP has adopted a major—even radical—agenda: transforming a massive sector of the economy, slashing taxes and rewriting the entire tax code, passing a budget that would dramatically reduce the size of government, and, in the middle of all of that, raising the debt limit. They have a plan to accomplish almost all…

link: The Entire Trump Agenda Is Now at Risk


          Judge Takes a Chisel to the Ten Commandments   
God Almighty needs an editor, according to a judge in Virginia. At least, when the Ten Commandments are on government property.
          Chen Guangcheng's Extraordinary Escape   
Chen's remarkable escape from abusive house arrest made headlines throughout the world, while baffling the Chinese government.
          Warehouse Manager - CP Lab Safety - Novato, CA   
Our customers include Merck, Pfizer, Bristol Meyers Squibb, the US Government:. Warehouse, and Shipping and Assembly*.... $35,360 a year
From Indeed - Tue, 27 Jun 2017 21:55:35 GMT - View all Novato, CA jobs
          Opposition to GOP Health Bill Spurring Support for Single-Payer Plan   
The Republicans' push to reduce government's role in healthcare by repealing and replacing Obamacare has emboldened progressive politicians and activists to promote the exact opposite, a single-payer system in which the government would completely run a health system which...
          Showdown Over State Versus Local Control Rages On In Texas   
What do annexation, short-term rentals, revenue caps and texting-while-driving have in common? They are all exemplifying issues of the ongoing tug-of-war between the state of Texas and the interests of its counties and local governments.
          Indian Oil Producers Face New Scrutiny From Modi Government As 2020 Target Nears   
Indian state producers face increased scrutiny from the energy ministry to make sure the Asian giant meets its import dependency reduction goals, according to Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Wednesday. “We have now started monitoring those fields and have given new benchmarks to the National Oil Companies to increase production," Pradhan said at an industry event, according to Reuters. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s target is to import 67 percent of oil needs by 2020 – down from the 80 percent rate maintained currently. As…
          Washington: State Auditor Is Accused of Stealing From Business Clients    
State Auditor Troy Kelley, the elected official tasked with rooting out government fraud and waste, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of fraud....
          Pit Crew (Pump Attendant) - Yearnings Outsourcing Cooperative - Taguig   
*QUALIFICATIONS* * Male * At least College level * With or without experience * With excellent customer service *Benefits: * * Job Security * Government...
From Indeed - Thu, 22 Jun 2017 04:04:03 GMT - View all Taguig jobs
             
Mother of all Establishments

The ruling class, the creme de la creme, the establishment - the mother of all establishments in fact - what is it like? Its wit tends to be both dry and acerbic. Its city is New York. Its profession is attorney. Its manner cool. Its clothes black. Its heroes Kennedys. Its music is mostly jazz standards I think. Its passion is film, or maybe dating. (Though I doubt their self-conscious coupling deserves the name of passion.) Its ethnicity is mixed, but the Anglo-Saxon and Jewish elements predominate. Its politics are moderate but liberal on certain social issues like abortion.

Many minor-league establishments send their best players to the big leagues. The ultimate establishment draws from corporate CEO's; judges; college presidents; the highest ranks of the military; union bosses; partners in prestigious law firms; titans of finance; media royalty; upper echelons of the ever-spreading government bureaucracies; nabobs from the political world - governors, senators, etc.; successful entertainers of all kinds- talk show hosts, rap artists, journalists. Powers from other nations are included: prime ministers, despots, treasury secretaries, generals, top smugglers and rights activists. The distillation of all these subsidiary elites, everyone from bankers to performance artists, physicists and film stars, mayors who've clawed their way up from the streets alongside the residue of the most aristocratic families - are all blended together to create the mother of all establishments.

Don't confuse the ultimate establishment with the penultimate establishment. The penultimate establishment consists of conservative Republicans picked to play the role of the ultimate establishment. They are the designated target, the Simon Legree at whom we are directed to hiss. They, very visibly, perform the disagreeable but necessary tasks of Power. They are the millionaires who keep the economy moving, the generals who keep the armies moving. They are the father figures who can, eventually, be safely discarded.

If you think these Republicans are in fact the ultimate establishment they are supposed to be you are wrong: 1) Conservative Republicans always lose the bitter battles over social policy - the struggles over segregation, abortion, feminism, gay rights, etc. 2) The supreme establishment would never, at least visibly, ally itself with the rich or the military. The rich are wildly unpopular (They like escaping their tax obligation as much as cutting badly-needed services to working people.) The military commanders may be popular domestically, but they are hated abroad. The supreme establishment instead derives power from pretending to battle these dangerous forces. 3) Businessmen are ruled by the market, by the desires of consumers. The government, in contrast, can do whatever it wants - it can arrest you; jail you; take your house, your children, all your money.

What are the beliefs of the mother of all establishments? While hostile to the world's religions, especially those denigrated as "fundamentalist", the ultimate establishment does possess a faith. They hate any restrictions placed on individuals by churches or clan patriarchs or rural communities - any restrictions placed on individuals by Tradition.

The era of this ultimate establishment is nearly over. Soon they and their urbane vanities will disappear. Then I think people will wonder how so few ruled over so many for so long.
             
Disinterested

Earlier attempts to build a better world have collapsed. The record is muddy at best - mired in ambiguity: Christians - They have founded schools and hospitals, helped abolish slavery and gladitorial games. Unfortunately they have also fought cruel religious wars. Democrats - The people have established governments, but unfortunately these governments have invaded, massacred, stolen, enslaved (see Andrew Jackson). Liberals - What if we are wicked and foolish? What worth is our freedom then? Scientists - Scientific discoveries have improved our lives, but we have a tendency to employ these discoveries to make weapons. Even medical discoveries, though they have benefited millions, have caused some of our worst problems - like overpopulation. I am afraid neither our godliness nor our goodness can save us.

But eugenics can save us. Lead us to Eden, Arcadia, Shangri-La, The Blessed Isles. The silicon revolution changed the world, but the DNA revolution will remake the world entirely. More can be done in this century to improve the lot of mankind than in all previous centuries combined. This generation, if virtuous enough and if far-sighted enough, can do more to benefit mankind than any other generation.

George Washington resisted the temptation to seize power in a military coup d'etat. Americans look back at him with gratitude and awe. Future generations (how many?) will look back on us with gratitude and awe if we can be as noble, as disinterested.
          Super council row ‘could slow growth in the county’   
TENSIONS over the restructuring of local government must not slow progress on developments to bring thousands of new homes and jobs to the county, a business leader has warned.
          Sex and the City   
A movie with the same title of this post was made a couple of years ago in which our favorite "Carousing  Cougars", Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha decided to wing their way to Abu Dhabi and relieve a few wealthy Sheiks of their dish-dash-ah's and dignity.


          The time limit for receipt of 7thcpc anomalies is extended by three months- Railways   

7th Pay Commission Anomalies – Railway Board Circular on Extension of time limit for forwarding of 7th CPC Anomalies for consideration

Ministry of Railways has issued a circular regarding Extension of time limit for forwarding of 7th CPC Anomalies

GOVERNMENT OF INDIA

MINISTRY OF RAILWAYS

(Railway BOARD)

No. PC-VII/2016/DAC/1

New Delhi, dated 25/05/2017

 

The General Secretary,

All India Railwaymen’s Federation

4, State Entry Road,

New Delhi – 110055.

 

The General Secretary

National Federation of
Indian Railwaymen,

3 Chemsford Road,

New Delhi – 110055

 

Dear Sirs,

Sub:- Extension of time limit for forwarding of 7th CPC Anomalies for consideration in the Departmental Anomaly Committee – regarding.

The undersigned is directed to say that in partial modification of this Ministry’s letter of even no. dated 05.10.2016, the time limits for receipt and disposal of anomalies, as mentioned in paragraph 4 of the letter are amended as under

(i) The time limit for receipt of anomalies is extended by three months from the date of expiry of receiving anomalies: i.e. from 04.04.2017 to 04.07.2017; and

(ii) The time limit for disposal of anomalies is extended by three months from the date of expiry of one year for the date of expiry of one year from the date of its constitution i.e. from 04.10.2017 to 04.01.2018.

Yours faithfully,

For Secretary, Railway Board

Source : NFIR


          Railways set up Departmental Anomaly Committee to settle the anomalies of 7thCPC   

Railway Board constitution of Departmental Anomaly Committee – Modification in the definition of anomaly

Ministry of Railways letter regarding Departmental Anomaly Committee

GOVERNMENT OF INDIA

MINISTRY OF RAILWAYS

(RAILWAYS BOARD)

No. PC-VII/2016/DAC/I

New Delhi, dated 29.03.2017

The General Secretary,

All India Railwaymen’s Federation

4, State Entry Road,

New Delhi – 110055.

 

The General Secretary

National Federation of Indian Railwaymen,

3 Chemsford Road

New Delhi – 110055

 

Dear Sirs,

Sub :- Setting up of Departmental Anomaly Committee to settle the anomalies arising out of the implementation of 7th Pay Commission’s recommendations.

The undersigned is directed to refer Board’s letter of even number dated 05.10.2016 and to incorporate the following modification in the definition of anomaly:

“Where the Official Side and the Staff Side are of the opinion that the vertical and horizontal relativities have been disturbed as a result of the 7th Central Pay Commission to give rise to anomalous situation.”

2.With the incorporation of the above para, the definition of anomaly will read as follows:

(1) Definition of Anomaly

Anomaly will include the following cases:

(a) Where the official Side and Staff Side are of the opinion that any recommendation is in contravention of the principle or the policy enunciated by the Seventh Central Pay Commission itself without the Commission assigning any reason;

(b) Where the maximum of the Level in the Pay Matrix corresponding to the applicable Grade Fay in the Pay Band under pre-revised structure, as notified vide RS(RP) Rules, 2016, is less than the amount an employee is entitled to be fixed at, as per the formula for fixation of pay contained in the Said Rules;

(c) Where the Official Side and the Staff Side are of the opinion that the vertical and horizontal relativities have been disturbed as a result of the 7th Central Pay Commission to give rise to anomalous situation.

3. The rest of the content of the letter dated 05.10.2016 shall remain unchanged.

Yours faithfully,

For Secretary, Railway Board


          Ex-Servicemen reemployed in Railways – Treatment of Military Service Pay   

Ex-Servicemen reemployed in Railways – Treatment of Military Service Pay – Applicability of Railway Services (Revised Pay) Rules, 2008 for persons re-employed in Railway service after retirement from Defence Forces

Railway Board letter about Treatment of Military Service Pay(