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14 December 2007

Orson Welles Interview, 1960, CBC, Paris

Unseen Orson Welles: An Interview with Film Critic Jonathan Rosenbaum on Welles' Career

Meet Marlon Brando: A Rare Documentary, circa 1965

Vertigo, Hitchcock, 1958

My favorite Hitchcock film, and one of the best films ever made, IM-not so-HO.

Rope, Hitchcock, 1948

One of the all-time greats...

Hillary Clinton on International Law, Stephen Zunes, Foreign Policy in Focus

It ain't pretty. Bush-Lite, and the "lite" is a hope, not a fact.

She does make nice cookies, though.

One thing: Zunes is out of his mind if he thinks that "Senator Clinton’s notions of what constitutes the legitimate use of force by the United States are so extreme, she would – if elected – likely become the most aggressive-minded Democratic president since James K. Polk." Has he forgotten about Kennedy and LBJ's little war in Southeast Asia? Or the multiple coups and attempted coups engineered by the CIA under those two? Has he forgotten about Hillary's husband's totally illegal war in Kosovo? The genocidal sanctions regime in Iraq that killed a million people, half of them children, forcing two successive UN chairs of the program to quit, claiming genocide? I mean, I could go on and on.

However, Zunes' historical lacunae do not detract from his accurate warning about Hillary. I just don't know whether Obama or Edwards would be much different.

Al Gore in Bali on US Obstructionism

Sign a petition that's already gotten 164,000+ signatures; let's try to force some change today and tomorrow!

Kucinich on the Issues

If you must have the sound bites, here they are:

For more in-depth descriptions of his plans, go here (even though that's not in-depth enough for my taste). To find out what he's done in the past, go here. To find out who funds him, go here, here and here.

Sean Penn Endorses Kucinich

Docs: Israel Demanded 80% of Settlements in 2000-01 Peace Talks

From Democracy Now, with links by yours truly. I'm sure this new information won't change official Washington's mind (both the Democratic and Republican lobes) about who scuttled the Camp David/Taba talks, but it's useful for the people to know the truth.

The talks come as new details have been released on the breakdown of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks nearly seven years ago. Israel and the U.S. have long blamed Palestinians for rejecting what they called a generous offer to return most of the Occupied Territories. But new internal Israeli government documents reported by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz confirm several key Palestinian claims. The documents show Israel insisted on retaining the major West Bank settlement blocs home to 80% of the more than 220,000 settlers. The figure does not include settlements in East Jerusalem, which Israel also insisted on keeping. The documents also show Palestinians proposed an equal land swap if Israel wanted to hold onto land outside of its internationally-recognized borders.
There are plenty of other interesting things reported about this document, "The Status of the Diplomatic Process with the Palestinians Points to Update the Incoming Prime Minister," which I'm trying to find online.

13 December 2007

2007 Annual Survey of American Jewish Opinion

From the American Jewish Committee, for whatever that's worth. Interesting:

Survey Results
A. International Affairs
B. Israel
C. National Affairs
D. Anti-Semitism
E. Jewish Identity

Note both what was asked and what wasn't asked. Glenn Greenwald on this survey.

Here's an interesting response:

7. Would you support or oppose the United States taking military action against Iran to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons?
Support 35
Oppose 57
Not Sure 8

The 401(k) Myth, By Marie Cocco

Or: don't think that this privatized version of social security -- known as a "benefit" (for whom?) -- will either be there when you need it or forms a good model for the total privatization of all social security.

401(k)s are there to enrich Wall Street investment banks. If you are enriched, eventually, that's a side benefit. You won't get bailed out; they will. Evidence? Look around you; look at recent history. Wealth takes care of wealth.

Billionaire Bailout: Central Bank Socialism and America's True Values, Written by Chris Floyd

From the great Chris Floyd's blog, Empire Burlesque; link in title above.

Kucinich Barred from Democratic Debate in Iowa

Oh, yeah: this is a democratic process. No one's being excluded unfairly -- and why, I ask you? Lack of popularity in polls doesn't cut it, as you can see below. Home office -- i.e., lack of money -- doesn't cut it. So, what possible explanation are we left with? I leave it to you to figure out. From Democracy Now, linked in the title above (my emphases):

In campaign news, Congressmember and Democratic hopeful Dennis Kucinich has been excluded from today’s Democratic presidential debate in Iowa. Debate sponsor the Des Moines Register told Kucinich he isn’t eligible because he doesn’t meet local requirements on a local campaign office and paid staff. Kucinich’s Iowa field director works out of a home office. The most recent poll of likely Democratic voters shows Kucinich has one percent support in Iowa—the same as Senator Chris Dodd. Nationally, Kucinich has two percent support—the same as Bill Richardson and Senator Joe Biden. Dodd, Richardson and Biden are all taking part in today’s debate. In a statement, the Kuncinich campaign called the exclusion “arbitrary and unreasonable”, saying: “[If] the Register has decided to use hair-splitting technicalities to exclude the leading voice of the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party, the entire process is suspect.”
A response from the Kucinich campaign.

Kucinich has indeed won polls in all the major, grass-roots, progressive Democratic organizations -- Progressive Democrats of America, Democracy for America, and the Nation magazine's poll. As the Kucinich campaign put it:
Democratic Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich has won another major poll among grassroots Party activists most likely to vote in caucuses and primaries, capturing 41% of the vote from Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), which has more than 80,000 members across the nation.

In the field of eight candidates, the Ohio Congressman was the overwhelming winner, easily out-pacing second-place finisher former Senator John Edwards, who received 26% of the vote. Senator Barack Obama came in third with 13%, followed by Senator Hillary Clinton with 9%, and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson with 5%. The other Democratic candidates were in the low single digits. Kucinich was also the top vote-getter among PDA members in the early-voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

It is the third exceptionally strong finish by Kucinich in polls among active, grassroots Democrats. Last month, he topped all other candidates in 47 of 50 states in a poll sponsored by Democracy for America (DFA). Also, a poll conducted by the progressive The Nation magazine showed Kucinich with 35% of the vote, Obama second with 24% and Edwards third with 13%.

In last month’s DFA poll, Kucinich received almost 32% of the 150,000-plus votes cast, more than Edwards and Obama combined. There, too, he won both Iowa and New Hampshire.

In announcing today’s results, PDA said, “The Congressman's showing indicates that Progressive Democrats are still in sync with the Kucinich agenda: Out of Iraq; no attack on Iran, single-payer healthcare, fair trade, etc.” The poll was open only to PDA members, and the organization said it added “extra layers of security” to protect the integrity of the survey.

In an analysis of the recent polls in The Nation today, Washington correspondent John Nichols wrote that Kucinich’s “pointed opposition to the war in Iraq and outspoken advocacy of impeachment of Vice President Cheney has echoed the sentiments of the Democratic base” and “party activists who do the heavy lifting.”

Nichols also noted, “The DFA and PDA poll results give Kucinich an additional measure of credibility as he reaches out to key activists, including Democrats who are currently leaning toward other contenders...”

Kucinich’s national and state-by-state poll numbers have risen noticeably in the past several weeks. Not only is he the only Democratic candidate who voted against the Iraq war authorization in 2002 and every supplemental funding measure since, he also is the only Democratic candidate who voted against the Patriot Act. And, his early opposition to hostile moves by the Administration towards Iran was validated earlier this week when the National Intelligence Estimate revealed that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program four years ago.

Kucinich, sponsor of a resolution calling for impeachment proceedings against Cheney, has called for a Congressional investigation of the handling of the NIE findings by the Administration. He said that such an investigation “will further build the case for the impeachment of both the President and the Vice President.”

12 December 2007

Max Roach 1924-2007: Thousands Pay Tribute to the Legendary Jazz Drummer, Educator, Activist

I somehow missed this back in August. Dig it: a man who knew his drums -- and his country.

Click on the image on the left to read his famous contractual stipulation.

From Drummerworld: Max Roach in action:

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, F. W. Murnau, 1927

10 December 2007

Sick of the Dem Congress Funding the War? Join the Democratic Donor Strike against the DCCC and DSCC

From Democrats.com: a great idea. I might add that you'll want to add that you're also boycotting any company or other organization that donates to the Democrats, and that you will not lift a finger to help any Democrat win office who doesn't support an immediate funding cut-off for all operations in Iraq not related to withdrawal.

Join the Democratic Donor Strike against the DCCC and DSCC

Once again our Democratic "leaders" are betraying our troops by keeping them in Iraq forever to be murdered or maimed for no reason except the insatiable greed of Bush-Cheney's oil cronies.

On Tuesday, House Democrats plan to approve $30 billion more for Afghanistan. Then Senate Democrats plan to approve $70 billion to cover Iraq as well. Then House Democrats plan to approve the full $70 billion.

Why are our Democratic "leaders" betraying us? Because they want Bush to sign -- not veto -- the $522 billion omnibus spending bill to fund the government this year. We have no Democratic "leaders" -- we have utterly incompetent negotiators who lose 100% of their battles, no matter how much public support they have.

Our Democrats in Congress clearly do not care about the voters who elect them, whether Democrats or Independents, virtually all of whom want them to end the disastrous occupation of Iraq now. Our Democrats in Congress do not care about the troops fighting in Iraq and their families, who oppose the occupation even more than the rest of us, by 69% to 64%. The only support for the occupation of Iraq comes from hard-core Bush Republican voters who never vote for Democrats.

Who do Democrats in Congress actually care about? The donors who fund them -- period. So call your Representatives and Senators with a simple message:

Not one more penny for Iraq -- or not one more penny for your campaign.
If you have ever contributed to your Representatives or Senators or to any Democratic committee, be sure to tell them how much you will not give them.

Let's all call Monday and Tuesday (between 9-5 ET) and shut down the Congressional phone system .

More from United for Peace and Justice:

It looks like the Senate leadership is ready to make a deal with the devil: If Bush funds their domestic programs, they will fund his illegal, destructive occupation of Iraq. Recognizing weakness, Bush appears ready to hold out and demand no increases to vital domestic programs, along with a $70 billion blank check for Iraq. The vote may come as early as tomorrow, Tuesday.

Clearly, the Iraqi people and the people of this country will be the losers in this deal.

On the House side, the signals are still mixed. On Friday, the chairs of the Progressive and Out-Of-Iraq Caucuses, Lynn Woolsey, Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters, wrote the Democratic leadership, saying that they will oppose any legislation that does not "strictly limit funding" to the protection of the troops and for their complete redeployment out of Iraq.

We have called, emailed, visited, occupied offices and refused to leave. Many members of Congress have gotten the message, but they need to be reminded, and those who haven't gotten the message need to hear it again.

This funding fight is prolonged and frustrating, but it is also urgently important. We ask you to take time today to send a message to your senators and representative.

Choose the method that feels right for you:

  • We know it's short notice, but try to gather some friends together and pay a visit to one or more of your legislators' local or DC offices today or tomorrow. (Click here to find their office locations.) Emphatically demand an end to the occupation. Your peaceful visit can be brief, or last long enough for you to read the names of civilians and soldiers killed in Iraq, or it can last until the member of Congress agrees to oppose all funding that is not tied to the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops and contractors.

    If you are able to organize a visit, post the details on our calendar, so others can join you. Check to see if others in your area are planning a visit here.

  • If you can't put together a visit, flood your legislators' offices with phone calls. You can reach both of your senators and your representative through the Capitol Hill switchboard: 202-224-3121.

    Tell them: Vote NO on any funding for the occupation of Iraq that does not require the rapid withdrawal of all U.S. troops and contractors.

Congress has not passed most of the Appropriations Bills necessary to fund the government and government services. The stop-gap funding measure ("Continuing Resolution") they passed last month expires on December 14, so they have to pass something before then in order to prevent a government shutdown. Pro-war legislators see this as an opportunity to force a vote on Iraq funding without any conditions. We are getting conflicting reports from staff and the media about what is happening behind the scenes -- but it looks likely that Congress will consider some Iraq funding measure -- for as much as $70 billion, along with an omnibus spending bill (that rolls all the appropriations bills for all departments into one giant spending bill). In the House, Democratic leadership had been promising that they would not take up anymore Iraq funding bills until next year -- but there are alarming indications they might renege on that promise.

Yours, for peace and justice,

Sue Udry
Legislative Coordinator, UFPJ

Analysis: Big Oil to sign Iraq deals soon

Mission (almost) accomplished. Don't like it? Then read this:

One year ago, peace voters were celebrating the election of a new Congress that promised an end to the US occupation of Iraq. Since then, Congress has done little to bring US troops home from Iraq while the Bush administration has pushed ahead with the same war agenda. Peace voters have been left with few victories-- until now.

Two months after the benchmark deadline for the Iraq oil law, the law has so far been successfully resisted. The Bush administration tried to bully their way into Iraq's oil riches by pressuring Parliament to pass a law in favor of foreign oil companies but the oil workers union protested it, international media criticized it, Iraqi Parliament refused to debate it, and Americans such as yourself denounced it.

While we should be encouraged by this success, the fight is far from over. Even as Al-Sharistani concedes that the current law will not pass anytime soon, the Iraqi Parliament expects to face yet another round of pressure to pass a national oil law. Soaring oil prices and Kurdistan's signing of 15 new oil contracts are sure to increase that pressure.

As long as US troops are in Iraq, the Bush administration will do all it can to influence Iraq's oil industry. Some influence is obvious, such as the Commerce Department's hiring of an advisor for Iraq's oil industry, while other forms of influence come straight from the industry itself. Please contact Congress today to demand they continue investigations into US interference with the oil law and cease supporting a war that is illegal, immoral and unjust.

Please take action today. We have succeeded in the first phase of this fight-- let's not give up now.


Kevin Zeese, Executive Director

Bush's (Very) Selective DisARMament Plan

Economist Dean Baker breaks it down: click the title to this post to see how well Daddy Bush takes care of his flock.

I assume that the newly homeless will be Raptured up to that Big Condo in the Sky (or Giant Gitmo Underground) soon enough, so why take any real action?

In any event, as Andrew Carnegie is said to have said, "During a depression, assets return to their rightful owners." Let the fire sale begin!

Top Democrats Were Fine with Waterboarding...Supposedly

If the neocon WaPo's "official sources" are accurate, then those Democrats are scumbags. I don't see how the executive-branch sources can leak this stuff without breaking laws; now the Democrats' staffers, if any were present, or the lawmakers themselves, can risk prosecution by counterleaking.

So, it smells fishy, although it would be in keeping with the general acquiescence of the Democrats in 2002 to just about anything the Junta wanted.

The Blackwater Praetorian Guard Continues its Ascent

These kind of businesses should be outlawed or nationalized into the existing military or intelligence bureaus to have at least a hope of oversight and command-and-control. Banned would be better, of course.

Watch this company, and those like it, very closely.

Climate Change Performance Index 2008

A comparison of the 56 top CO2 emitting nations

Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI): Overview
Figures and Tables Related topics: Previous CCPI editions

>> German version

For further information please contact:

Jan Burck
mobile: +62 817 08 19572 (during climate summit in Bali)

Anika Busch
Press and PR officer
Tel.: +49 (0)228 / 60 492 -23

The CCPI was developed with financial support from the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development

2007 Nobel Peace Prize Lectures

Videos not yet up, but on the way. You can read the transcripts now, if you like. The title of this post has the presentation ceremony and both lectures. If you want to watch individual acceptance lectures, click the links below.

Here's the ceremony on CSPAN. There's a killer Indo-European jam (guitar and tabla), by the way.

Here (and here) are the relevant posts on this blog on the IPCC's work this past year.

09 December 2007

The Story of Stuff

Click the title of this post to see a great 20-minute film on stuff: where it comes from, what it costs (those pesky "externalities"), and what it does to people and to the earth.

It's great, uh, stuff.

PS: Download the movie (50 MB) by right-clicking on the image below and saving the link (not the image) to your computer (i.e., desktop):

Download Movie (.mov)

Scott Ritter on the NIE, Anti-War Radio, KAOS, Texas, 12/6/07

Good point, if true: the sneaky, little point that Iran "used to have" a nuclear weapons program up to 2003 is apparently also untrue. This leaves the door open for the current propaganda. Cause and effect is difficult to divine in propaganda -- the admin may simply be making the best of the NIE by claiming that Iran could restart its alleged program -- but it's worth noting that the one laptop from which the notion of a weapons program arose is apparently a sole source. Curveball, the laptop version, in other words.

Look, it's pretty clear that the US wants to hit Iran. Not because of Iran, of course. We didn't drop atomic bombs on Japan because of Japan (yes, dear, I know it's amazing to contemplate). Hitting Iran is yet another shot across the bow against the EU, Russia, China, and India (and anyone else): we, the US, are the top military dog, and we can not only hit anyone at any time, but we will also continue to aim at unilateral domination over the foundation of the world economy for as long as oil remains foundational. Period.

All other "justifications" of specific acts, etc., is simply window dressing for the American public. No one else is fooled, that's for sure.