Sunday, June 28, 2009

Obama: not my celebrity

Barack Obama's arrogance of power, in Honduras, is tacky, tacky, tacky. A huge ugly cliché for our superficially, sartorially, stylish, celebrity prez. Someone should call Thomas Pink, the exclusive British shirt brand, which commissioned a poll of 3,000 guys and then declared Obama more stylish than Brad Pitt. Call and point out that Obama just generated another wornout, neocolonial, yesterday's headline:

Obama Calls for Order as Honduran Military Arrests President

An American Prez who uses a School of the Americas graduate, in this case Honduran General Romeo Velazquez, to covertly overthrow a Central American prez, in this case Honduran Prez Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales, and then, calls for order, as though he himself were the Central American Prez, might as well drive a Cadillac, smoke cigarettes, fart at the dinner table, slap his wife and kids around, hawk clean coal, and, span the globe with military bases, toxic military waste, and a grossly bloated, lethal Armed Forces, while his own people suffer.

Not my president, not my celebrity, not my style.

'Did you want John McCain?' someone's sure to ask.

(Yawn.) Don't be uber-ridiculous.

Or: 'Are you a racist?'

(Snoozzzzzzzzzzz.) Don't be tedious-oroso. I wanted Cynthia McKinney in 2008; I want Huey Freeman, in 2012, to retrieve America's global image from the torture chamber of history, and close both the School of the Americas and the Africa Cener for Strategic Studies , a "Department of Defense Initiative. . . affiliated with the National Defense University" in Washington D.C., a.k.a., the School of the Americas' sister school for teaching assassination, torture, police statesmanship, imperial puppetry, and, coup d'etat management, to Africans.

Why Wouter Bos didn't vote for Thijs Berman

Wouter Bos said, after the loss of the Dutch Labour Party, that he had voted for a more Eurosceptic candidate at the elections for the European parliament. This revelation is not some accident, as Wouter Bos would like us to believe, but a strategic choice.

Jacques Monash, a former campaign strategist for the Dutch Labour Party (PvdA) wanted to become the number one on the electoral list for the European parliamentary election. The party didn't want him. The party elected Thijs Berman, a former Dutch journalist who has been a member of the European parliament for 4 years allready.

Jacques Monash has been visible in Dutch media over the last couple of years claiming that the Dutch Labour Party should move in the direction of Geert Wilders. This week he wrote an article that circled around this same simple theme that low educated immigrants are somehow similar to"rotten apples" .

However the Dutch Labour Party's loss at the elections for the European Parliament was caused by the fact that a large crowd defected in the direction of D66 (a liberal party that gained 3 seats in the EP, previously 1) and GroenLinks (also a liberal green party that gained 3 seats in the EP, previously 2). The loss was apparently not caused by defectors in the direction of the PVV, Geert Wilders.

Just after the elections Wouter Bos said that he had voted for a more Eurosceptic candidate (no. 5 Cuperus). Apparently Wouter Bos wants to accomodate those in his party who, like Jacques Monash, think the Dutch Labour Party should work on getting those PVV voters back inside the ranks so that together they can work on a plan to, as Jacques Monash puts it, get rid of the "rotten appels".

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Should the Dutch government avoid the word "allochtoon"?

Noulo writes on his blog "10 reasons why being Allochtoon is cool", apparently even the immigrant blogosphere in the Netherlands has started discussing this "hot topic".

As Pieter Verbeek, a journalist for the government magazine "Re Public" noticed, Dutch government officials increasinly avoid using the word "allochtoon" in government documents and press releases.

The term "allochtoon" has a clear definition: Every person that has at least one parent that was born outside of the country (Netherlands).

Pieter Verbeek states the example of department of internal affairs spokesperson Vincent van Steen, who explained that "The word allochtoon is excluding too many people. It suggest that it is about people from outside, while usually its just people that are born in the Netherlands". Vincent van Steen replaced the word "allochtoon" by the word "people with a multicultural background".

This discussion among government officials is symptomatic of the Dutch discours on immigrants. In stead of tackling serious issues of social exclusion and xenophobia, this hotshot wants to replace a word while it excludes "TOO MANY" people. In other words, Vincent van Steen has no problem excluding "CERTAIN" people, but just not "too many".

The reason for this discussions is the fact that the debate on integration has become totally poisoned with anti-immigration sentiments within the Dutch Labour Party. Wouter Bos and Eberhard van der Laan, after losing the European elections, have decided to work harder on "fighting Moroccan importbrides". Instead of explaining and defending the concept of European citizenship and it's consequences.

The message is clear, the current Labour Party is refusing to work on a comprehensive policy on diversity just as it is unwilling to explain and defend European citizenship. They want immigrants to just become "Dutch", whatever that may be. And this government official is part of this consensus. He thinks it's "OK" to exclude "certain people", but just not "too many". I would call that a policy of "divide and conquer". It shows lack of creativity and leadership. Or as Jesus Christ said in one of the parabels: this is the guy that received a talent, but was affraid to use it, so he hid it. The Dutch Labour Party is affraid to use the mandate that it has received by it's voters.

As W. Shadid, Professor of intercultural communication at the Katholic University Tilburg, predicted in january in the article
Ethnic division and populism of the Dutch Labour Party
on the Dutch Labour Party's policy report “Divided past, Shared future”:

"Immigrants who continue to identify themselves with this political party (PvdA) will sooner or later be disappointed. A socially divided society in the past, and an even wider social division in the future would have been a more suitable title for the integration note of the Dutch Labour Party (PvdA)."
So we cannot say we have not been warned.

Two sociologists, Dick Houtman en Peter Achterberg, predict (june 25th in a publication of the scientific institute of the Dutch Labour Party (PvdA)) that the "Dutch Labour Party will fall apart". If nothing changes the Dutch Labour Party is heading for the "humpty dumpty" scenario.

So far the only answer from the leader of the Dutch Labour Party (Wouter Bos who recently declared a pair of RayBan sunglasses, 113 euros) came today in a speech to it's members: LOL.

A very insightfull article directly related to the problems the Dutch Labour Party is currently facing was published on the blog "The Brussels Journal" in march 2006 by Paul Belien: "Dutch Socialist Leader in Fear of Muslim Party Members Just after the municipal elections in 2006"

Friday, June 26, 2009

California budget bulldog Arnold Schwarzenegger

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is so determined to shred the state's social safety net, and, privatize everything existing, that he's standing bulldoggedly in the way of any revenue hikes, including oil and gas severance taxes that would raise $1 billion this year. And, insisting on $1 billion in budget cuts that will cost the state $5 billion in federal funds.

Cross post from

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Gavin Newsom to the right of Sarah Palin?

Alaska Governor and 2008 Republican vice
presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

Alaska Governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin increased the severance tax on oil and natural gas in the State of Alaska to 25% in 2007. California's Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and California Republicans, however, stand steadfast against an oil and natural gas severance tax, even as California teeters on the verge of bankruptcy. And, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who would be governor, and president, remains silent. Full text at,

Should Kagame's RPF face justice?

yesterday Marcia Luyten wrote an article in a leading Dutch newspaper in which she writes that "France and the Tutsi have to face justice in Rwanda too". She obviously writes this in a reply to the open letter by 70 African scolars that was published June 1st:
"More than 70 scholars and human rights advocates issued a joint letter today calling on the United Nations Secretary General, the US President, and the UK Prime Minister to ensure that the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) fulfils its mandate by prosecuting soldiers of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) who committed crimes against humanity and war crimes in Rwanda in 1994."

To which Jeroen Corduwener, a Dutch journalist living in Rwanda, responded that justice should not be a goal and that stability of the region is at stake if RPF crimes are investigated.

Both agree on the fact that the RPF has committed crimes. That is what I learn from these two journalists. A year ago a respected newspaper in The Netherlands would never have written such stuff. Apparently Paul Kagame is now considered by mainstream media to be the mass murderer that many fringe journalists online have been claiming for years.

The question wether the RPF should face justice and how is apparently now the subject of debate. Paul Rusesabagina and Robert Krueger have been thinking about this subject too. They have proposed the South African model of "Justice and reconciliation". That model has been advocated, correct me if I am wrong, by the main opposition leader of Rwanda, Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, who lives in The Netherlands as well.

I am looking forward to hearing her point of view on this.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Flashpoints Radio: oil wars, oil taxes, and California Assembly Bill 656

Flashpoints Investigative Radio, on KPFA Berkeley 94.1 FM, and webstreaming, on oil wars, oil taxes, and California Asssembly Bill 656. Cross post from

Thursday, June 18, 2009

California needs a Sarah Palin Empowerment Act

The State of Alaska, famously said to favor the oil and gas industries, drives the world's hardest bargain with its oil and gas companies; they charge a 25% tax at the wellhead. California charges 0%.
California refineries buy crude oil, and natural gas at market price, from drillers in both Alaska and California.
California refineries buy crude oil, and natural gas at market price, from drillers in both Alaska and California. Alaska charges a 25% oil and gas severance tax; California charges none.

Cross post from

The Dutch Labour Party and Geert Wilders

Just after having lost the European elections, Eberhard van der Laan (PvdA) stated in a interview that "we should stop the importbrides". In this interview the minister of integration falsely and eronously accuses maroccons of circumventing Dutch immigration laws. Apparently he thinks there is truth to Geert Wilders claims on foreigners and integration. He shows clearly that he, Eberhard van der Laan has to integrate himself, he doesn't even know the nature of EU-law.

His characterisation of the "Belgiumroute" as a way to circumvent Dutch laws is a symptom of Xenophobic politics in the Netherlands. The Labour party has been characterised over the years as the party for immigrants. But this comment brings the Dutch Labour Party, PvdA, and it's use of xenophobic and anti-european discourse to a new level. As I said before, Geert Wilders is a total nobody, the problem is with people like Eberhard van der Laan and the Dutch Labour Parties leader Wouter Bos.

The socalled "Belgiumroute" is based on solid European laws on family-reunification. There are now numerous cases in which the IND, Dutch immigration services, is refusing European citizens their legal rights inside the Netherlands.

The PvdA is speaking with a double tongue when it attacks Geert Wilders. They are pretending they attack Geert Wilders, while at the same time refusing to abide by solid European jurisprudence on family reunification. Personally I don't have any respect for politicians like Wouter Bos and Eberhard van der Laan, with their hypocritical approach.

Immigrants within the ranks of the PvdA are used by Wouter Bos. In 2006 he called immigrants inside the party ranks "incompetent". Now this PvdA minister, Eberhard van der Laan, knowingly misinforms the public on the real issue, which is clear: The Netherlands is refusing to respect European values on family-reunification. And off course they claim that the Netherlands has the right to discriminate against it's own citizens. And even that is false, the IND is also refusing Dutch citizens with a passport of another European country their legal rights. The Dutch government knows they will lose these judicial cases in the end, but they just want to continue with the anti-immigrant politics, because they think they will win elections like that.

Immigrants are being used by the PvdA, that's the clear message we got once again from Eberhard van der Laan. I hope politicians like Wouter Bos and Eberhard van der Laan will get what they worked for, total defeat at the polls in municipal elections.

Last year Wouter Bos still thought Hillary Clinton had the best chances of winning the Presidential elections. Wouter represents the ruling class in the Netherlands. This class still sees immigrants as the "weak in society". That is illustrated by his remarks on Obama's chances. If you see the total lack of vision at the top of such a party, I don't think predicting defeat in 2010 is unrealistic.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Gavin Newsom on Current TV: silent on offshore drilling, oil severance tax, nuclear power, and war

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is now running for Governor of California, with obvious aspirations to proceed from there to the White House. Though he claims to be running as an passionate environmentalist, Newsom remains silent on California's largest environmental issues, including offshore oil and gas drilling, an oil and gas severance tax, nuclear power, and California's pollution exports to surrounding states and nations, and the environmentally destructive War on Terror.

Cross-post from

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who now
aspires to be Governor of California, and beyond.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Taxing fossils, to educate for renewables

Some Californians think the state should reclaim public assets, rather than selling them off, to solve the state's pending bankruptcy. Assembly Bill 656 would finally impose a severance tax on oil and gas, to fund higher education, especially in renewable energy tech.

Cross post from

California Assembly Member Alberto Torrico proposed California Assembly Bill 656.

Friday, June 12, 2009

California's gifts to Big Oil

California contributes its oil and gas reserves to the oil industry, with no oil extraction tax, even as the state verges on bankruptcy, and reports of oil violence pour in from all over the Global South and the indigenous world. Cross post from

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Geert Wilders and the Murder of Theo van Gogh

A ZDF journalist apparently linked the murder of Theo van Gogh to the influence of Geert Wilders in Dutch politics. This leads, predictably to outrage on weblogs that are against Islam or, to use their favorite phrase, in favor of "free speech".

And I disagree with the ZDF journalist on this too. Because in my perception Geert Wilders is a symptom of a larger problem. A problem that European politicians refuse to tackle. European politicians apparently lack backbone and vision.

I still think Mike Huckabee, during his campaign to win the nomination last year, in his speech "paths and priorities in the war on terror" had the best explanation for the murder of Theo van Gogh:

"It is also difficult for us to understand that life for European Muslims is different from life for American Muslims. Muslims in Britain or the Netherlands or Germany are second-class citizens because those countries have more homogenous populations that don’t readily integrate outsiders. Instead of melting pots, Europe has separate pots boiling over with alienation and despair. In some countries, like France, it is more a lack of economic integration, while in others, like Britain, it is more a lack of cultural integration, but whatever the reason, Europe is a much more fertile breeding ground for terror than the United States. Unintentionally, some of our closest allies are producing some of our clearest threats. Because of our special relationship with Britain and all our similarities with them, most Americans don’t realize that it is very different to be a Muslim citizen of Britain than a Muslim citizen of the United States, so we have trouble accepting that doctors in Britain become terrorists. We have to understand that while educated Muslims in Europe may not be materially deprived, many of them feel socially and emotionally deprived by a lack of acceptance. Earlier this month we saw the arrest of German citizens plotting a terror attack against American targets there. Also this month we saw Danish citizens arrested for plotting an imminent bombing. Both plots had links to Al Qaeda. "

Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee flanked by Jennifer Beal, left, and Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King, takes part in a ceremony honoring Martin Luther King, Monday, Jan. 21, 2008, at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

School closures loom, as California donates its oil and gas to the cash rich oil industry

Offshore oil drilling rig, California Coast.

California is the only state in the U.S. that donates its oil and natural gas reserves to the private oil and gas industry, untaxed. Were it a nation, it would be the only nation in the world.

Last year, on March 14th, 2008, the California State Legislature, faced with school closures, teacher layoffs, and, radical cuts in all things pubic, finally considered a 9.9% oil extraction tax that would have raised $1.2 billion.

Now, in June 2009, as school closures loom, the California State Legislature considers the oil tax, and the extension of oil and gas drilling leases off the coast of Santa Barbara proposed by Governor Arnold Schwarzegger.

Cross post, full text at

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Minorities in Dutch Municipal election 2010?

The President of minority organisations in the Netherlands, former under minister Gabor (CDA) of Hungarian origin, has written a letter to all political parties. The minority organisations are worried that the Dutch political parties are affraid to put migrants on their lists.

Gabor in his letter insists that their is still a lot of work for political parties, because migrants are underrepresented in Dutch parties.

On the website of the minority organisations the reason for this is explained. Information has reached the national council of minorities that migrants who want to become candidate face resistance from political parties because the parties consider minority candidates a risk. Gabor insists in his letter to the political parties, that these fears find no ground in actual fact.

So far to my knowledge no Dutch newspaper or television program has reported on this issue.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Bill Maher interviews Jeremy Scahill on the U.S. War in Afghanistan

It should also be clear that, no matter what other psychological, political, or institutional pressure now upon him, President and Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama has the Constitutional and military executive authority to end the U.S. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at any time. As Commander-in-Chief, he is first in command of the entire U.S. Armed Forces and could order them all home as soon as ships and planes could carry them. Any U.S. military personnel who disobeyed would be subject to court martial, according to military law. The only possible defense would be that Commander-in-Chief Obama had ordered them to commit a war crime.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Re-inventing Journalism

Steve McGookin, a journalist who lost his job a year ago, writes
on his blog about the enormous changes that are taking place in the media industry:

"I’ve been freelancing a bit, and doing some editorial consulting, but I haven’t had what used to be considered a ‘real’ job for a while. And I’m coming to the conclusion, like the increasing number of folks in a similar boat, that I’ll probably never work in a traditional newsroom again. Or perhaps even for a traditional news organization.

But you know what? That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Every industry needs a regular infusion of new blood and there are lots of enthusiastic and talented young people out there who – while they’ll undoubtedly face challenges – will find new opportunities as we go through this economic shakeout and media companies re-organize themselves."

Media as we have known it is rapidly changing. Blogs and bloggers are gaining growned at a dazzling speed. Blogs of people like Jeff Jarvis and Adam Singer have gained soo much authority, it's hard for newspapers to compete.

The air is filled with symbolism when Jeff Jarvis on his blog soo kindly stretches out his helping hand to Steve McGookin. New Media stretches out a helping hand to Old Media. Steve McGookin makes me think of the few people on the Titanic that knew the boat was going to go down while everybody is still dancing.

I regularly ask what others think of this grim image, will old media survive, but in general I get the answer that it's not that bad, newspapers will allways continue to exist. Myself, since I started blogging several years ago, I can allmost feel how immense the impact of the blogosphere is and how fast it's gaining ground. Just look at the success of platforms like examiner where Ann Garrison writes as Energy Policy Examiner.

Steve McGookin is now blogging on streetmusicians on the subway in New York. He is re-inventing his career as a journalist. A great adventure? What are your thoughts on the survival of old media? How will journalism re-invent itself?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Egypt, a U.S. client state, an unlikely venue for U.S./Muslim reconciliation

by Ann Garrison

On 06.03.2009, Barack Obama announced a new era of U.S./Moslem relations, in Egypt, one of the top three recipients of U.S. military aid, receiving about $1.3 billion annually. In October 2008, the World Tribune reported that Egypt will receive $1.5 billion this year, 2009, in military and civilian aid, down from $1.71 billion in 2008, until they more fully cooperate with Israeli security, and address Egyptian human rights issues.

Obama's address might have had credibility, and marked a new beginning, if he had delivered it, not in a U.S. client state, but in one of the Islamic nations actually harmed or constantly threatened by the U.S.---in Palestine, Iran, Somalia, Sudan---or, Iraq or Afghanistan, as U.S. troops depart.

In Egypt, a brutally repressive U.S. client state, it seemed more likely that the real purpose of President Obama's visit was negotiating Egypt's greater cooperation with Israeli security, to be rewarded with the restoration of last year's $200 million in cuts to annual U.S. aid to Egypt.

At the time of the cuts, in October 2008, Condoleeza Rice said: "The progress has not been everything in Egypt that we would have hoped for. . . We have had setbacks there, we have had disappointments there."

How much George Bush's cultural offenses had to do with these setbacks in Egyptian Israeli security cooperation, and how much Obama's relative charm and cultural sensitivity can do to repair them, will be at least partially revealed by future U.S. aid allocations to Egypt.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Yes we can burn coal

"This is America!  We figured out how to put a man on the moon in ten years. You can't tell me we can't figure out how to burn coal, that we mine right here in the United States of America, and make it work!"   --Barack Obama, on the campaign trail, 2008

Cross post from

Judith Sargentini on greetings in Europe

I have not been terribly enthousiastic about the coherence of the debate in the run up to the European parliamentary elections. Most politicians are just wasting their time when they get the chance to say something on tv. Judith Sargentini stood out in the tv debate on the Dutch popular TV show "Pauw & Witteman" when she said the first thing Dutch politicians will learn when they become member of the European parliament is the fact that there will be 27 different ways of greeting. Will you just shake hands, will you kiss? This remark is off course aimed at the debate surrounding immigrants in the Netherlands. Everyone who follows Dutch politics remembers the Imam that refused to shake hands with the Dutch minister of immigration and integration, Rita Verdonk. Rita Verdonk then made out of this a big fuss and journalists made handshaking to be the shiboleth of integration. It is clear that Judith Sargentini knows what the debate in the Netherlands is about these days and makes it clear that Dutch politicians have been disregarding the international context in which they are operating.