Friday, April 27, 2007

From The Road To Serfdom To The Lanes Of Liberation

>Professor Wole Soyinka, the Nobel laureate, presents Prof. Pat Utomi as the presidential candidate of his party, Africa Renaissance Party (ARP)

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As we reflect on dozens of lives lost in protest of election rigging, billions of Naira expended on campaigns even as many of our compatriots are dehumanized by dreadful poverty, it is important to extend gratitude, and commit afresh to the struggle on the long road to freedom for Nigeria.

When about a year ago I gave up all income, stepped down from boards and committed to seeking votes for the presidency many thought it was a three month quest to prove a point. It turned out to be a grueling venture that involved at least three near death experiences, thousands of miles of road and air travel and a discovery of a country I thought I knew well.

I learnt a long time a go that I grow from acknowledging that I have made mistakes in the past. Traversing this country deepened my recognition that I could do many things that I had done in the past differently. This Return on Experience (ROE) was more valuable than any investments I had ever made. For this immeasurable gain I will never be able to say thank you enough.

I set out to run a campaign on issues, avoid casting aspersions that take away from the dignity of any person. I am pleased that I was significantly able to stay the chosen course. But this happened with the help of friends, staff persons and men of goodwill at home and in the Diaspora. My debt of gratitude can only be paid through continuous sacrificial service to Nigerians, especially those less fortunate than I.

To say that politics, especially in the kind of presidential system we run, cost a lot of money, is to state the obvious. While we push for reform that should place a cap that is measurable on campaign finance, I want to thank immensely friends and well wishers who sent generous cheques, particularly the poor woman who truly gave a widow’s mite of N500. I know it is more generous than the N5, 000,000 cheques from some more endowed compatriots.

Crisscrossing Nigeria put my conscience to the test regarding what must be done to rescue our country. After some challenging reflections I have had to conclude that the rest of my life will have to be dedicated to directing Nigeria away from the road to serfdom that we currently travel unto navigating the lanes to liberation.

* * * * * * * * * *

The core purpose of the ADC is to engineer a social and economic revolution that will bring about a transformation of the Nigerian condition by growing wealth at the bottom of the pyramid and shaping values that will make progress sustainable. We have called this the Green and White revolution taking us from Pain and Poverty to Peace and Prosperity.

Public service culture will have to shift to one in which the public servant is a champion who is passionate about top performance and driven by patriotic zeal of self giving for the advance of the common good. Disposition to transparency over the culture of secrecy in the public service and of vertical accountability in which key stakeholder groups monitor and hold government accountable is to be institutionalized. This culture will require critical path analysis of budget implementation processes to be discussed with stakeholder groups, made public, and then reviewed in open town hall meetings on a monthly basis.

* * * * * *

ADC Presidential candidate Prof. Pat Utomi expresses concern and surprise at the serious health situation of his PDP counterpart, Umaru Musa Yar ‘adua, which resulted in his being flown abroad for medical care after collapsing on the campaign trail.

Prof. Utomi wishes him speedy recovery. Utomi hopes hat he will quickly recover from the potentially life threatening condition, and return to give full value to the electioneering process.

In regret at the poor state of our healthcare which made it necessary for Yar ‘adua to be flown abroad, Prof. Utomi says “while the elite can afford to avoid the consequence of a failure in leadership, such as seeking aid at foreign hospitals, those we aspire to lead must each day endure the consequences of incompetence and corruption of the governing elite”.

* * * * * * *

Nigerians, just a simple plea, put me beside them. Put the commitment I have shown throughout my life to service. Put the ones they’ve shown throughout their lives to public service. Put my competence in terms of education and all of that in front of them. Put the ones they have shown. Put down my team spirit, put down theirs and compare it. Put my character and their values down. If you put all of this one against the other and theirs appears higher than mine, please, vote for them. But if mine is higher than theirs, do your conscience a duty.

I say for me, my primary goal in getting involved is to help build a visible political opposition. So, we started out wanting on the one hand to build something that is new and therefore able to allow you certain values at least. ADC provided that platform for a new organisation where you can bring in the right people, where you can establish the fundamental values of service to the Nigerian people, fundamental values of ethical conduct in government, fundamental values of accountability in the Nigerian people. The people must matter.

* * * * * * *

What do you think of the attempt by President Olusegun Obasanjo to sack Vice President Atiku Abubakar for defecting to AC?

The easy way to deal with this matter is to say that it is a constitutional, a legal issue. Let’s get the court and the National Assembly to sort it out. But the truth is that I feel so sorry for a Presidency that does not think about history. It thinks only of its own immediate, arbitrary view of anything to suit it. It is a tragedy for Nigeria. This is what we have. I expect that it would play itself out. I find it remarkable though that for a General like Obasanjo, who ordinarily prides himself as a great strategist, an ordinary Customs man has been one step ahead of him throughout this whole game; always one step ahead of him. If I were he, I would be quite ashamed of myself.

* * * * * * *

Professor Pat Utomi needs no introduction. He has been known for several years as a political economist, journalist, public affairs commentator and businessman. He cut his teeth in politics as Special Assistant to the President in the Second Republic. He later became the acting Managing Director of Volkswagen Nigeria Limited. He was also Chairman of Platinum Bank prior to its merger with the former Habib Bank to form what is now Bank PHB. Utomi is Director of the Lagos Business School and presidential candidate of African Democratic Congress (ADC), one of the newly registered political parties.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please meet our very own Prof... Pat 'the Great' Utomi, as we very fondly call him... erudite scholar and gentleman extraordinaire

Come and get introduced

Jihadist Video Shows Boy Beheading Man

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Videos: The Beheading of Musil, American contractors et al

... when madness begets madness!

Can Nigeria go Orange?

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After European Union and other monitors condemn Nigeria's landmark elections as seriously flawed, we ask if "People Power" or outside pressure could force a re-run.

Nigerian opposition politicians have been looking abroad for inspiration in their battle to have the presidential and state elections repeated.

As a legal challenge was being mooted, one spokesman called for replicating the kind of revolutions seen in Ukraine and the Philippines.

Mass protests at the rigging of Ukraine's November 2004 presidential election sparked the Orange Revolution which did indeed produce a re-run, won by charismatic opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko.

In the first place, there is no obvious Yushchenko figure for the whole of the country, Nigerian newspaper commentator Tunde Fagbenle points out.

"None of the opposition candidates can be said to command enough national support to dominate," he told the BBC News website.

"I don't think anybody is ready to go on the street and die for any politician at this point," he says, though he notes that at the level of the individual states, things are different, because people there feel the elections affected them personally.

There may be a gentle rap over the knuckles but forget sanctions
Patrick Smith
editor of UK-based Africa Confidential magazine.

"The capital, Abuja, is new and not very heavily populated," notes Richard Dowden, executive director of the Royal African Society.

"You can't bring it to a standstill. The only place where that could be effective is Lagos and it would not have any impact on the people in Abuja."

"Yes, people do feel robbed of their vote but there is a stronger feeling of weariness that no politician is different from any other," he says.

"Five days later people want to get on with their lives."

With the White House calling the elections "deeply flawed" and the EU pronouncing them "not credible", could foreign pressure on the government produce a repeat ballot where popular pressure fails?

Mr Fagbenle says the Commonwealth and other institutions defer to outgoing Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo because of his peacekeeping work and he will stay in the wings for "his man", President-elect Umaru Yar'Adua.

"If America dares to play a strong hand, you can bet it will be reminded of its own recent electoral history with Bush and Gore [the "hanging chad" scandal in the 2000 presidential election]," he adds.

Mr Dowden also doubts there will be any sanctions, simply because it is difficult to hurt Nigeria.

"It is not Malawi," he says.

"You can't take their aid away because there isn't any. It's such a huge, powerful country that there is very little leverage that either the Commonwealth or Britain could deploy against Nigeria, and Nigeria is too powerful for other Africans to criticise.

"Nor do I think the Americans will make too much fuss about this because of the oil and Nigeria's strategic significance."

Certainly, Tunde Fagbenle can only express disgust with the "national shame" they brought.

The example of Madagascar shows it is possible for Africa to stand up against flawed elections
Jude Kirkham
BBC News website reader, Vancouver, Canada

"It is like every election is trying to outdo the last one in depravity and corruption so I don't see any redeeming value at all," he says.

Mr Smith nonetheless detects "high hopes that the new administration will be a much more conciliatory one than its predecessor".

Both he and Richard Dowden predict a period of horse-trading between the official winners and losers.

They are members of an elite, Mr Dowden says, who "shout at each other quite a lot but in fact never push it to extremes... because they have too much to lose".

In Nigeria, he adds, "the ordinary people don't matter and are all but completely ignored during the election - there is no reason why that voice should be heard so they don't have much leverage".

But it may not always be so, the Royal African Society director adds, because in the 2007 elections Nigeria's professional middle classes "came and voted for the first time".

In polls to come, he says, "they won't side with the elite but with the people".

You would be mighty surprised, good buddy, at how much things and times have changed in Nigeria... I can only hope that for you it would be quite a pleasant surprise.

Hot and spicy

Nigeria's president-elect faces discontent

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"The just-ended elections in Nigeria, while they produced a new government, also produced a highly questionable democracy," said Sebastian Spio-Garbrah, an analyst with New York-based Eurasia group.

"We call on the international community not to recognise these discredited elections and not to confer legitimacy on any government that emerges therefrom," said Innocent Chukwuma, head of the Nigerian monitors.

The United States said it was "deeply troubled" by the violence and voting irregularities and the European Union said the vote was "not credible" and fell short of international democratic standards.

Former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright, in Nigeria as the head of an observer team, said the handling of the election had marked "a step backward", but voiced hope that voter frustrations would be resolved peacefully.

Well, what did he expect? He only better heed Wole Soyinka's advice and not put himself in the position of "a receiver of stolen goods..."

All the juice

Nigeria's Vice President evicted from official mansion

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Nigerian Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has been asked to leave his official residence ahead of planned renovations.

Mr Abubakar will not return to the residence after the repairs as it is to be occupied by Nigeria's chief justice.

Evil as evil does...

More juice here

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Bush Utility@Baghdad

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Bush Utility@Baghdad

One perfect aim!!! The joke is on you Mr Perle... Ha!

You Can't Go To Texas Riding Backwards

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My best of friends are
Americans, all good people. I have family who had elected to make America home,
business investments that are dollar-wrapped and an American/British
indoctrination that pursues the suspicious with hard questions and reprimand. I
was raised that way and set in it by virtue of that indoctrination. I look at
things and ask why? I see their remedies and wonder why not?

You know, somehow and in so
many ways America
is plugged into all of us. We are all, quite some, American nationals, by
affiliation, exposure, business, choice, marriage, accident, history,
conscription and abduction. From another perspective, it is also true for the
U.K and France,
societies and systems, some say, looked forward to the breaking of the African
spirit and family, to take away our capacity for civil dissemination and the
legitimate. But that is another story. Yes America
may be plugged into all of us but this is not to say we are all plugged into America. We are
not. I find studying American foreign policies fascinating, not for its
political double-speak and dexterity but the pressures and stresses it brings
to bear on its home society. I have often, also, wondered why this is.

I think what is truly
confounding about the American society is how unlike it its leadership has
become. The warmth and liveliness found in the American persona does shine
through in its leaders and that pursuit of liberty is all but near-absent today.
There is a disconnect, between its people and their leaders, most recently,
that projects to the outer world a cold and merciless persona and its bears a
face chiseled out of granite. Clearly, American foreign policies, these days,
cannot be American nor does it add up as such and it would be really absurd to
say it was borne out of the cradle of its founding fathers.

There are reasons why America is
plugged into all of us. To start with, a little bit of everybody lives in America and a little bit of America lives
in all of us, somewhat. Through what we read and watch, how we dress, think and
even eat. We read America
to find out how loved ones who have decided to call it home cope. And this
interest and concern are universal. We eat and think American, mainly because
of aggressive corporate mercantilism or big business and a tingling urge to get
a ‘feel’ of it. From ‘I love New York’
T-shirts to home-made burgers, all are expressions of global fondness. You find
all peoples of the world reaching out to loved ones in America. From China
to the Korean peninsula. Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Somalia, Libya, Sudan, Iran,
Indonesia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and everywhere you care to turn, people are
shouting out to loved ones resident in America and associating with it. America
belongs to the world, just ask a pair of Wrangler jeans!

So, in some very peculiar way
we are all connected to the American enterprise and one is not more impacted by
the conducts of that nation-state merely because he was born in it or dwells in
it. We all do have a say in its affairs by virtue of its global connect,
investments and by democratic affiliation. And even by proxies that reside
within. This is why its foreign and domestic policies cause such uproar and
outrage when they are skewed. That’s why there is so much revulsion at home and
abroad when expeditionary presidents go on rampage without realizing that those
brutal incursions are in actuality, an assault on a section of the American
society itself. By this, these political leaders fracture social cohesion to
emit upheavals that weigh the country down. The question is; why would any
right-thinking president want to retire or discharge such goodwill and global
bonding? Yes, I am scared by the monster America is becoming and the fact
that our oil endangers my nation to it. I know it is only a question of time
before she comes calling.

The democracy it professes
and proffers is in serious jeopardy and ill-regarded. The American constitution
is under assault and the very gifts served on it by its founding fathers are
ridiculed by inordinate ambition and corporate lust. Leaders no longer pay
attention to the led or have their fingers on the national pulse. Things really
have changed for Americans and America.

But why are American leaders
so unlike the real American? I think there are some concerns which pressure a
somewhat wrong attitude. The fear of losing the good life appears to be the
dread that informs domestic quest for a strong leader and whereas this may not
necessarily be the good leader. The uniting concern is for a leadership that is
strong enough to guarantee internal security and make the right of passage safe
for American families. But this worthy concern ignores the causative factors
that bring this unwholesome condition into effect. It is, consequently,
preventive and not the cure. My feeling is that the group most responsible for
these situations is America’s
corporate bodies. They are the ones who seek out new frontiers and show America’s
granite face to the world. In truth, what they bring is the face of corporate America masked with Hollywood
cosmetics as the American face. They come telling us; this is what we do and
eat, what we drink and how we live; this is what makes us American. But it
isn’t always true. They come preaching the American dream, searching out our
vulnerabilities and then they extort our livelihoods in the name of America. But
just like anyone else, the ordinary American only aspires to be himself and get
on with his life. He is not always the cowboy on the Marlboro pack or the guy
in the White House.

“Last time I heard, it was a farmer
killing the slave of another farmer… it was a property issue”

I believe that the only thing
different from the above quote, today, is that the entire world to an
insignificant few, is a property issue. The world as we know it today, is owned by
this lingering minority through their control of banks, media,
telecommunications and technology; instruments that are, in fact, political
devices for the attainment of a unique economic prosperity for them and their families.
Devices rigged against the much larger part of humanity in the name of its
emancipation, to bring about the greater disillusionment and discontent of
global society that would excuse the rule of force, emergency powers and
tyranny. All the muscle the devil ever needed to become and excel.

Fact is, it is America’s multicultural content
that binds it to the greater global society and not democracy. It is also this
consideration that makes it so appealing and desirous. Democracy was not
synonymous with the American state and is originally a Greek word. It is a
societal system of government that has endured longer than the American state
and which had managed to stay politically contemporary. Its conception and
evolution have had to endure even longer. But here today, it is a political
contraption that mirrors the chameleon. It has been abused, battered, faked,
stretched and remodeled to fit personal and corporate interests as well as
western objectives. You do not impose democracy on anyone, as the Bush
administration appears to be doing in Iraq, because that imposition in
itself orders the absence of choice, freewill and individual freedom. It is, to
say the very least, wickedly undemocratic.

It is therefore, indeed
ironic, that America
should be seen as stemming the natural flow of democracy, or more precisely,
that the Bush administration should. It is a historically deadly blow that
George Walker Bush Jr has dealt to democracy. It is an almost irreparable
damage that he has inflicted on our democratic culture and model which may yet
deny it of useful universal political resuscitation. This deadly crunch on
democracy was bred from a conspiracy of convenience between eager jurists,
politicians and crooks in government. In fact, they are all crooks, in their
naked essence, answering to some other name. All are, by virtue of this
conspiracy and conduct, political confidence tricksters that look to abridge,
and when they can, annul all our personal freedoms. Democratic ambiguities
fixated on power who stretch civil vocabulary to the fringes of primitive
vernacular and they all are, nothing American.

On the pages of history, America is starting to bear some resemblance to Rome of old. Rome at some point in
history was the premier civilization and keeper of the universe. It only sought
to conquer far away lands for their spoils and treasures; it was a ruthless and
oppressive empire. It had the greatest imbecilic tyrant that ever answered to
the name of Emperor. Nero is a four-lettered name and the man loved his wine
and the sound of his own voice. He was at it, fiddling, when Rome burnt and if ever there was an example
of the failings of womanhood, he was it. Perhaps too, like Nero, Bush fiddles
while America
and the rest of the world smolder.

The Splendor of Cosmic Diamonds

The Red Square Nebula: in near-perfect symmetry

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The splendor of cosmic diamonds...

"If symmetry is a sign of splendor, then the newly discovered Red Square nebula is one of the most beautiful objects in the universe."

Almost perfect

What is particularly astonishing about the Red
Square, the researchers say, is the degree of symmetry seen in lines,
or “rungs,” that bisect its surface. The rungs appear as shadows, and
their makeup is uncertain.

“The high degree of regularity in this case may point
to the intriguing possibility that these bands are shadows cast by
periodic ripples or waves on the surface of an inner disk close to the
star at the heart of the system," Lloyd said.

The Red Square ranks among the most symmetrical
objects ever observed by scientists. “If you fold things across the
principle diagonal axis, you get an almost perfect reflection
symmetry,” said study leader Peter Tuthill from the University of
Sydney in Australia. “This makes the Red Square nebula the most
symmetrical object of comparable complexity ever imaged.”

The Red Square’s extreme symmetry suggests the star’s
surroundings are extremely still and not buffeted by external stellar
winds or other turbulence.

Nigeria Polls; the truth begins to unravel (Update)

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The following are excerpts from the South African Mail and Guardian published today.

Nigeria poll fiasco's SA
by Stefaans Brümmer and Tumi Makgetla@The Mail and Guardian 26/4/07

Observers have highlighted the late delivery -- and sometimes non-delivery -- of voting material as one of the central failings in elections some have branded a "charade". Nigerian observers and opposition parties have demanded a rerun.

Many claim the distribution of ballot papers was deliberately skewed to disenfranchise opposition voters. One monitor told the BBC of his experience in Nassarawa state: "We noticed that ballot papers were available in [ruling People's Democratic Party] PDP strongholds in the state and voting started in those areas on time. But, in places where the PDP wasn't in control, voting was delayed."

The opposition Action Congress of outgoing Vice-President Atiku Abubakar claimed that in all its strongholds, the Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec) "deliberately ensured inadequate supply of voting materials … If this is not rigging, we don't know what else to call it."

Exporting Democracy To The Third World

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To politicians like Bush, democracy is some modern-day pagan idol that deserves limitless quantities of blood sacrifice. World War One butchered millions of young men for the sake of democracy. Who knows how many inventors and how many great discoveries never happened because of this carnage due to the arrogance and pride of politician?

Nigeria Polls: The truth begins to unravel

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There are still around 70% of the ballot papers left at the Johannesburg warehouse.

This was no accident. This was not poor planning. It was a concerted decision of the Nigerian electoral officials with Bidvest and the South African authorities to follow this plan; to starve the voting booths of valid voting papers. INEC and Aso Rock have convinced the world's media that this was the result of Atiku's late re-entry to the Presidential race which delayed the printing of the ballots.This is pure, unadulterated horseshit.

Sauce and Juice to Go

Opposition Wants Nigerian Vote Annulled

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Local media described ruling party thugs running off with ballot boxes or driving away voters with guns and knives.

At one polling center in southern Nigeria, electoral workers could be heard shouting for the ballots to be hidden as an AP reporter approached. A week earlier, in the same area, workers could be seen affixing their own thumbprints on stacks of ballots and stuffing them into the boxes.

Presidential ballots distributed Saturday in many parts of the country lacked serial numbers that would guard against fraud by allowing officials to track the papers from ballot boxes through collation centers.

All the Juice

Jesus ‘Love Bombs’ You

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The new convert is gradually drawn into a host of church activities by his or her new friends, leaving little time for outside socializing. But the warmth and embrace soon bring new rules. When you violate the rules, you sin, you flirt with rebellion, with becoming a “backslider,” someone who was converted but has fallen and is once again on the wrong side of God. And as the new converts are increasingly invested in the church community, as they cut ties with their old community, it is harder to dismiss the demands of the “discipler” and church leaders. The only proper relationship is submission to those above you, the abandonment of critical thought and the mouthing of thought-terminating clichés that are morally charged. “Jesus is my personal Lord and Savior” or “the wages of sin are death” is used to end all discussion.

Rules are incorporated slowly and deliberately into the convert’s belief system. These include blind obedience to church leaders, the teaching of an exclusive, spiritual elitism that demonizes all other ways of being and believing, and a persecution complex that keeps followers mobilized and distrustful of outsiders. The rules create a system of total submission to church doctrine. They discourage independent thought and action. And the result is the destruction of old communities and old friendships. Believers are soon enclosed in the church community. They are taught to place an emphasis on personal experience rather than reasoning, and to reject the rational, reality-based world. For those who defy the system, who walk away, there is a collective banishment.

There is a gradual establishment of new standards for every aspect of life. Those who choose spouses must choose Christian spouses. Families and friends are divided into groups of “saved” and “unsaved.” The movement, while it purports to be about families, is in practice the great divider of families, friends and communities. It competes with the family for loyalty. It seeks to place itself above the family, either drawing all family members into its embrace or pushing aside those who resist conversion. There were frequent prayers during the seminar I attended for relatives who were “unsaved,” those who remained beyond the control of the movement. Many of these prayers, including one by a woman for her unsaved grandchildren, were deeply emotional. It was not unusual to see these saved Christians sobbing over the damnation of those they loved.

The new ideology gives the believers a cause, a sense of purpose, meaning, feelings of superiority and a way to justify and sanctify their hatreds. For many, the rewards of cleaning up their lives, of repairing their damaged self-esteem, of joining an elite and blessed group are worth the cost of submission. They now know how to define and identify themselves. They do not have to make moral choice. It is made for them. They submerge their individual personas into the single persona of the Christian crowd. Their hope lies not in the real world, but in this new world of magic and miracles. For most, the conformity, the flight away from themselves, the dismissal of facts and logic, the destruction of personal autonomy, even with its latent totalitarianism, cause a welcome and joyous relief. The flight into the arms of the religious right, into blind acceptance of a holy cause, compensates for the convert’s despair and lack of faith in himself or herself. And the more corrupted and soiled the converts feel—the more profound the despair—the more militant they become, shouting, organizing and agitating to create a pure and sanctified Christian nation, a purity they believe will offset their own feelings of shame and guilt. Many want to be deceived and directed. It makes life easier to bear.

Freedom from fear, especially the fear of death, is what is being sold. It is a lie, as everyone who works to write and rewrite his or her testimony in the seminar—all corrected and handed back to us by our instructors—has to know on some level. But admitting this in front of other believers is impossible. Such an admission is interpreted as a lack of faith. And this too is part of the process, for it fosters internally a dread of being found out, a morbid guilt that one is not as good or as Christian as those all around. The estrangement does not go away with conversion or blind obedience or submission. Belief systems that preach a utopian and unachievable ideal drive this angst underground, forcing the convert to measure himself or herself against an impossible end.

With All The Sauce

Not moral but an immoral equivalent

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US occupying troops secure suspected Iraq resistance members during an operation in Mosul.

A US military interrogator convicted of killing an Iraqi general by stuffing his head into a sleeping bag was sentenced to a reprimand and fine, but no jail time.
"You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil ... you know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them."
~ Lt. Gen. James Mattis, U.S.M.C

Warm stew

Nigeria Polls: a democratic illusion

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It was a bright and lovely day, a bit humid but quite
the usual Nigerian weather. All my friends and well-wishers came to escort me
to the polling station to cast my vote and them theirs. As I made to get into
the car, my daughter came running out of the house to throw herself at me with
a warm hug as she whispered in my ears “Here’s another hug for you Pops… and an
extra peck to seal your victory”. All I could do was just hold her in that
embrace and tell her how so very much I loved her. She is my greatest fan and she
never stopped telling me so. I turned to take a backward glance at her and wave
as we drove out of my country home to the polling station. It was quite a long
convoy and as we crawled along I stopped to chat and wave at my home folks,
most of who were on their way to the polling station too. I decided to get out
of my jeep and join them in the somewhat long trek to the polling station. As
we walked, the train grew longer. Folks were flowing out of their homes to say
hello in that traditional Ibo manner; with a hug and firm handshake and their
prayers and blessings. I was so overwhelmed.

It took us about twenty to thirty minutes to get to
the polling station and the heat was sweltering. Half my village was already
there with my banners and I think the other quarter right behind me. There was
the most colorful array of women folks on display, jigging to traditional Obiligbo
music. Their ambiance was overpowering, mothers and damsels immaculately turned
out. It was the youths, those able bodied young men that came to lift me
shoulder high upon some makeshift podium, from where I addressed and thanked
them for coming. I also informed them that we may have to wait a little longer
for ballot papers to arrive and that I was ready to wait for as long as it took
for them to get here. I explained to them as best I could the reasons for the
delay and how new ballot papers had to get printed because INEC had unlawfully excluded
people from the elections. That done, I left the podium for an interactive
session with them. It had just gone past the hour of ten in the fore noon. After my “meet the people session” the dancing
and singing continued.

It was just coming on 3pm when the first INEC team
arrived to set up chairs and tables. At 3:35pm still no ballot papers. At 4pm
the incumbent senator went to fetch the press and by 4:40pm he was back at the
polling station admonishing INEC and the ruling party in front of the cameras. He
left at 5:00pm saying it was too dangerous for him to hang around as anything
could happen. I watched him leave. At 5:33pm I mounted the improvised podium to
ask my people what they felt I should do. I also told them that INEC officials
had confided in me that they didn’t think election materials were going to be
made available to my ward. When I said this the crowd very nearly went berserk.
I told them to calm down and that I anticipated this all along and as if on cue,
I got the phone call I was waiting for. The press corps was less than a kilometer
away and as I learnt this news I informed my folks of the development and advised
them to feel free to vent their frustrations for the world to see on camera but

The very first thing I learnt when the press corps
arrived was that Mr. Peter Obi, the incumbent governor of the state, did not
vote because INEC officials did not show up at his ward. It was the same story
for him last week Saturday during the gubernatorial elections. I was also told
that Senator Ben Obi, who is the vice presidential running mate to Atiku Abubakar,
did not get to vote also because voting materials were not supplied to his ward.
I simply could not resist the grin. In a very weird sense, everything was working
out according to plan. President Obasanjo and his favorite Labrador,
Andy Uba, had shot themselves in the foot. When my people saw me grin, the
murmur started until some fellow screamed on the top of his voice in my native
dialect “Fa makwa no Ochiagha ka fa na kpasu?!” It was my traditional title of
grand commander of the warriors that he referred to. And his question was “Do
they know that it is the Grand Commander of the Warriors that they are messing
with?” I don’t think I was feeling messed with, no, just spoiling for a really
good fight.

Then it happened. As I saw my lawyers off and handed
over the signed INEC documents to them, I walked towards my makeshift podium to
brief and thank my folks once again then bid them goodbye. I was being helped
onto the podium when gunshots rang out, I saw one man a few feet away from me
drop. Then a loud explosion was heard and more gunshots. My driver sped to the
podium and next thing I knew I was thrown into the back of my jeep by a bunch
of youths and driven away. I was at home, sitting with my political team and
kid when my driver asked to see me. He told me the jeep had been shot up, we
went out to examine it and sure enough it was riddled with bullet holes. I was
livid, everybody was. That was the first time in my life I heard my daughter
curse and that was when I felt messed with. We are not second-guessing who the
culprit is, we know and I would like him to know that we do.

We are waiting on INEC to cough out the dictates that
our extremely corrupt ruling party, the PDP, would have commanded it to release
to the public in justification of its conduct. My team of lawyers, amongst who
are some of my very good friends and the best brains in the profession, has
departed for Lagos
to perfect my brief. INEC officials, with a little conviction from my home
folks, have issued signed statements to the fact that no elections were
conducted in my ward as no voting materials were delivered to it. I intend to
see them off to a place where it hurts most.

U.S Debt equals 90% networth of all American families

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The National Debt increased $2.46 billion per day since 2005!

The portion of the U.S. debt privately held by non-U.S. citizens has risen to 45%.

Foreign debt holdings have continued to increase in 2006 and 2007

The trade deficit is on track to set a record for a sixth consecutive year, running at an annual rate of $780 billion. 2006 was almost 10% percent higher than the 2005 $700+ billion record.

Government debt has increased 25% in less than four years.

In four years, U.S. debt has increased more than two trillion U.S. dollars — $2,000,000,000,000.00

The estimated population of the United States 2006 is around 300,000,000 people. The government's obligations, current liabilities and unfunded commitments are more than $43 trillion and rising. As the Government Accountability Office suggests, the estimated net worth of all American families is about $47 trillion, and 90 percent of that would be required to cover current obligations.

US Income Gap Widening Significantly, Data

Main course

Man Cuts Off Penis At Restaurant

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A man cut off his penis with a knife in a packed London restaurant.

Hot stuff

The Link Between Osama and the Bush Family

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It’s Time for Congress to Investigate the Ties Between the Bush Family and Osama bin Laden

How the Bush family's private connection to a dirty offshore bank is
the only link between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.

The following is taken from a chapter, "The BCCI Game: Banking on
America, Banking on Jihad," by investigative journalist Lucy Komisar in
the new book "A Game as Old as Empire," just published by
Berrett-Koehler (San Francisco).

Now that the U.S. Congress
is investigating the truth of President George W. Bush's statements
about the Iraq war, they might look into one of his most startling
assertions: that there was a link between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin

Critics dismissed that as an invention. They were wrong.
There was a link, but not the one Bush was selling. The link between
Hussein and Bin Laden was their banker, BCCI. But the link went beyond
the dictator and the jihadist -- it passed through Saudi Arabia and
stretched all the way to George W. Bush and his father.

BCCI was
the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, a dirty offshore bank
that then-President Ronald Reagan's Central Intelligence Agency used to
run guns to Hussein, finance Osama bin Laden, move money in the illegal
Iran-Contra operation and carry out other "agency" black ops. The
Bushes also benefited privately; one of the bank's largest Saudi
investors helped bail out George W. Bush's troubled oil investments.

was founded in 1972 by a Pakistani banker, Agha Hasan Abedi, with the
support of Sheik Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan, ruler of Abu Dhabi and
head of the United Arab Emirates. Its corporate strategy was money
laundering. It became the banker for drug and arms traffickers, corrupt
officials, financial fraudsters, dictators and terrorists.

CIA used BCCI Islamabad and other branches in Pakistan to funnel some
of the $2 billion that Washington sent to Osama bin Laden's Mujahadeen
to help fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. It moved the cash the
Pakistani military and government officials skimmed from U.S. aid to
the Mujahadeen. It also moved money as required by the Saudi
intelligence services.

The BCCI operation gave Osama bin Laden an
education in offshore black finance, which he would put to use when he
organized the jihad against the United States. He would move money
through the Al-Taqwa Bank, operating in offshore Nassau and Switzerland
with two Osama siblings as shareholders.

At the same time, BCCI
helped Saddam Hussein, funneling millions of dollars to the Atlanta
branch of the Italian government-owned Banca Nazionale del Lavoro
(BNL), Baghdad's U.S. banker, so that from 1985 to 1989 it could make
$4 billion in secret loans to Iraq to help it buy arms.

congressman Henry Gonzalez held a hearing on BNL in 1992 during which
he quoted from a confidential CIA document that said the agency had
long been aware that the bank's headquarters was involved in the U.S.
branch's Iraqi loans.

Kickbacks from 15 percent commissions on
BNL-sponsored loans were channeled into bank accounts held for Iraqi
leaders via BCCI offices in the Caymans as well as in offshore
Luxembourg and Switzerland. BNL was a client of Kissinger Associates,
and Henry Kissinger was on the bank's international advisory board,
along with Brent Scowcroft, who would become George Bush Sr.'s national
security advisor. That connection makes the Bush administration's
surprise and indignation at "oil for food" payoffs in Iraq seem

Important Saudis were influential in the bank.
Sheik Kamal Adham, brother-in-law of the late Saudi King Faisal, head
of Saudi intelligence from 1963 to 1979, and the CIA's liaison in the
area, became one of BCCI's largest shareholders. George Bush Sr. knew
Adham from his time running the CIA in 1975.

Another investor was
Prince Turki bin Faisal al-Saud, who succeeded Adham as Saudi
intelligence chief. The family of Khalid Salem bin Mahfouz, owner of
the National Commercial Bank, the largest bank in Saudi Arabia, banker
to King Fahd and other members of the ruling family, bought 20 percent
to 30 percent of the stock for nearly $1 billion. Bin Mahfouz was put
on the board of directors.

The Arabs' interest in the bank was
more than financial. A classified CIA memo on BCCI in the mid-1980s
said that "its principal shareholders are among the power elite of the
Middle East, including the rulers of Dubai and the United Arab
Emirates, and several influential Saudi Arabians. They are less
interested in profitability than in promoting the Muslim cause."

Bushes' private links to the bank passed to Bin Mahfouz through Texas
businessman James R. Bath, who invested money in the United States on
behalf of the Saudi. In 1976, when Bush was the head of the CIA, the
agency sold some of the planes of Air America, a secret "proprietary"
airline it used during the Vietnam War, to Skyway, a company owned by
Bath and Bin Mahfouz. Bath then helped finance George W. Bush's oil
company, Arbusto Energy Inc., in 1979 and 1980.

When Harken
Energy Corp., which had absorbed Arbusto (by then merged with Spectrum
7 Energy), got into financial trouble in 1987, Jackson Stephens of the
powerful, politically connected Arkansas investment firm helped it
secure $25 million in financing from the Union Bank of Switzerland. As
part of that deal, a place on the board was given to Harken shareholder
Sheik Abdullah Taha Bakhsh, whose chief banker was BCCI shareholder Bin

Then, in 1988, George Bush Sr. was elected president.
Harken benefited by getting some new investors, including Salem bin
Laden, Osama bin Laden's half brother, and Khalid bin Mahfouz. Osama
bin Laden himself was busy elsewhere at the time -- organizing al Qaeda.

money BCCI stole before it was shut down in 1991 -- somewhere between
$9.5 billion and $15 billion -- made its 20-year heist the biggest bank
fraud in history. Most of it was never recovered. International banks'
complicity in the offshore secrecy system effectively covered up the
money trail.

But in the years after the collapse of BCCI, Khalid
bin Mahfouz was still flush with cash. In 1992, he established the
Muwafaq ("blessed relief") Foundation in the offshore Channel Islands.
The U.S. Treasury Department called it "an al Qaeda front that receives
funding from wealthy Saudi businessmen."

When the BCCI scandal
began to break in the late 1980s, the Sr. Bush administration did what
it could to sit on it. The Justice Department went after the culprits
-- was virtually forced to -- only after New York District Attorney
Robert Morgenthau did. But evidence about BCCI's broader links exist in
numerous U.S. and international investigations. Now could be a good
time to take another look at the BCCI-Osama-Saddam-Saudi-Bush

Lucy Komisar is a New York-based journalist and author of "A Game as
Old as Empire," published by Berrett-Koehler (San Francisco).

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Jesus has a penis! Oh my!

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Jesus has a penis! Oh my!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

As a mom, it is my duty to protect my children from danger. I try to protect them from running out in the street in traffic, from choking on bites too big, from predators and pedophiles. I hope to keep them safe from hurt and heartbreak (though we know that's a losing battle). I also want to keep them safe from ignorance. It seems as our country becomes more and more fundamentally oriented, more and more ignorance rises to power. Or rather, rises to voice in the media, which in the USA seems to equate with power.

Take a gander at this video

Which person would you rather have dictating the curriculum at your child's school, teaching your child's Sunday school class, or running the media - the artist or the "Christian?"

I have chosen to teach my children that bodies are beautiful. My son is no stranger to the tasteful naked image, they are strewn about our home in art and books. Though I keep him sheltered from pornopgraphy and distasteful sexual images, human anatomy and artisitc renderings of the human form are not something I have ever chosen to shield him from. I think if he were to see Jesus naked, the last part he would even notice would be the penis. That is, until someone yelled out "Oh my God, Jesus has a penis!"

I plan that our daughter feel the same way about bodies. The human body is a natural entity. We each were born NAKED from a woman's VAGINA. And then, many of us were fed from her BREASTS. Completely natural acts of biology, and yet people like the fellow in the video are prepared to make a stir over that same anatomy. I quite like when my son talks about breastfeeding or uses the proper names for his body parts. Recently, I was cooking dinner and I ran out of milk. I was fretting about how I was going to finish cooking and muttered, "What am I going to do?"
"Just use the milk from your breasts," came a seven-year-old's reply from the other room.

Why does our society create such shame and embarrassment in regards to our bodies? Why do we sexualize everything? Breastfeeding of course being one area that always causes an uproar. I can honestly say that feeding my daughter from my breast is quite animal, not sexual. More than once I have waved to my husband from the bed where I lie feeding our daughter and felt exaclty like a sow feeding a piglet in the barn, not an odalesque basking in all her sexual glory. Yet when this mainstream magazine hit the newstands with this cover:

women were up in arms. One woman wrote a commentary about the fact that her thriteen year old son did NOT need to see that image. gag. I am sure he was traumatized. Of course, it is this sentiment that is teaching that thirteen year old boy to blush and snicker when he does see a woman breastfeed. Perhaps then he'll someday deter his own wife from breastfeeding. It becomes a nasty cycle of destroying beliefs in the natural wonders of the human form. I am so glad that my eleven year old step son has been exposed to a breastfeeding mother and that my son has promised me that his own wife will breastfeed his children when he has them.

It is why in our home we prefer to read this magazine:

I can happily say that in 6 months of breastfeeding, often in public, I have not yet run into any foul commetns or lewd stares. I don't cover up when I breastfeed (do you want to eat your dinner with a blanket over your head?) and I don't leave where I am to nurse in a restroom (ick) or the car. So far my daughter has dined in several nice restaurants, at basketball games, in Lowes, at the public library, in Victoria's Secret and even at a concert. We aren't done yet. I look forward to breastfeeding at the beach this summmer, maybe at an amusmeent park or a baseball game. Why shouldn't the baby enjoy a snack while watching her White Sox play as I would have a nice hot pretzel with cheese?

So in continuing with protecting my children from ignorance, I would be happy to let them taste of a chocolate Jesus with a penis during holy week. The point, of course, would be in the sweetness of the idea of Easter. The fact that Jesus
(a man) had a penis is a given and would be ignored.

Empower your breasts

Posted by Shannon at 5:01 AM