POLITICS - CULTURE - TECHNOLOGY
For decades now I have published records, CDs, movies, books and articles. If you read through the bio on this site, you will find more information on all of this than most sane people would find interesting. Many have commented that I seem to spread myself thin across a wide, even scattered, range of activities. But for me, all these things are just different ways of approaching the intersection of art, politics, culture, nature and technology. I hope the threads leading to this intersection will be clear from the postings on this blog. Thanks for visiting.
Thoughtful, passionate, and incredibly thorough blog on the Middle East. My favorite way to follow the ongoing catastrophe.
Web site to support US troops who refuse to fight in Iraq. For a detailed argument why the most important factor in ending the Vietnam war was the refusal of American troops to fight it, see the relevant chapter of my book People's Movements, People's Press.
(more links to come)
I now do all of my blogging at the Huffington Post.
Below you can find the archive of this site's old blog. It will no longer be updated.
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America’s Debt Mercenaries
How is it that the US military can still find people willing to go be cannon fodder for George W. Bush in Iraq? One answer is contemporary debt peonage.
Take Nick Sloan, 26, an Air Force captain stationed in Colorado Springs, and $68,021.35 in debt.
“I came to the realization that I was so far over my head, I had to do something drastic to increase my cash flow,” Captain Sloan said. “Iraq did that.” He is now in the Green Zone in Baghdad.
A Defense Department survey of active-duty service members found that in 2006, 11 percent reported failing to make a minimum payment on a credit card or military credit account in the preceding year; 11 percent said they had been put under pressure to pay bills by a store, creditor or bill collector; and 7 percent had bounced two or more checks. This debt often begins with low interest loans from the military itself – in the case of Captain Sloan, a loan of $25,000 from the Air Force, and ends with “payday loans” en excess of 36% from loan sharks that descend like vultures on relatively uneducated soldiers and are part and parcel of the military debt peonage system.
Everyone around Sloan seems to have been in agreement that the only way out was for him to head to Iraq except his fiancée. “She took decision the hardest of anyone,” he said. “Initially she was against it. I think I won her over eventually. It was a matter of looking at the numbers… The numbers were very telling. Drastic measures are required.”Story here.
Posted on 06 Sep 2007
China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission. According to a statement issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the law, which goes into effect next month and strictly stipulates the procedures by which one is to reincarnate, is "an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation."
Really there is nothing to add to this. It is a perfect expression.
But we should note that the point, as MSNBC points out, is “to cut off the influence of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual and political leader, and to quell the region's Buddhist religious establishment more than 50 years after China invaded the small Himalayan country. By barring any Buddhist monk living outside China from seeking reincarnation, the law effectively gives Chinese authorities the power to choose the next Dalai Lama, whose soul, by tradition, is reborn as a new human to continue the work of relieving suffering.”
While you are laughing (or crying) over this, note that a 2005 Gallup poll found that 20 percent of all U.S. adults believe in reincarnation.
Posted on 02 Sep 2007
The only officer charged with a crime in the Abu Ghraib prison torture scandal was acquitted today. That's it. Game Over. Only the poor people at the bottom of the heap go to jail for this.
You may want to remind yourself of just how hideous these crimes were by doing a Google search for Abu Ghraib photos, but be forewarned: the pics that made it into the press were not the worst ones.
It is instructive to compare this outcome to the trials that followed the My Lai massacre in Vietnam. Though no higher officers were convicted, a Lieutenant, William Calley was convicted of premeditated murder. No one of his rank was charged in Abu Ghraib.
There was ample evidence already in the public sphere to charge Rumsfeld himself but that was of course, never even considered.
One final note: one of those accused of whitewashing the My Lai massacre at the time was Colin Powell, then a 31-year-old US Army Major.
Posted on 29 Aug 2007
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