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Daily Archives: 2011-11-06

U Raise ‘Em, We Cage ‘Em


Not in the least bit funny.

From: http://www.sacbee.com/2011/11/01/4020655/twin-rivers-police-association.html

” T-shirts sold by the Twin Rivers Police Officers Association have this message: “U raise ’em, we cage ’em,” surrounding a picture of a young child behind bars.

On Monday, community leaders and child advocates said the T-shirts are highly offensive and could validate feelings of mistrust for the Twin Rivers’ school police force. The agency has been under intense scrutiny over complaints it has overstepped its authority.

“There is nowhere on the planet where it is OK to wear a shirt like this,” said Ed Howard, senior counsel for the University of San Diego’s Children’s Advocacy Institute, after seeing the image of the shirt. …”

 

Exiled Tibetans hold memorial for self-immolators protesting Chinese military rule


From: http://boingboing.net/2011/11/02/exiled-tibetans.html (2011-11-02)

Photo: David Huang

This morning, a demonstration took place in McLeod Ganj, a quiet Northern Indian village adjacent to the home of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile. In this town on the southern end of the Himalayas, young Tibetan exiles staged a memorial for Tibetans inside China-controlled Tibet who have burned themselves alive in recent months.

11 have self-immolated since February 2009. Most are teenagers or in their early twenties. The youngest was 17. It is an expression of despair, and an act of protest against increasingly harsh Chinese military crackdown on ethnic Tibetan cultural, religious, and social systems. For a list of the names, dates, and locations, read on (and there is more background at standupfortibet.org).

The demonstration was organized by Students for a Free Tibet and Regional Tibetan Youth Congress, Dharamsala.

Oxblood Ruffin was at the demonstration. He tells Boing Boing,

It was a very moving demonstration. Young monks carried a graphic banner with flames in the background and the text, Tibetans are dying for freedom. They were accompanied by demonstrators wearing masks of world leaders.

It would be a little dramatic to say things have come to a head. But there’s a definite shift, and I suspect that the recent spate of self-immolations will continue. The desperation is palpable, and there seems to be a sense of, “What have we got to lose?”

The Chinese are playing this off as though the Dalai Lama is running around with a lighter and inciting the monks to kill themselves. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Tibetans are very depressed about what’s going on. But their is a quiet respect for what the monks have done. It’s viewed as the supreme sacrifice for the Tibetan people.

Below, photos, and a press release issued today by organizers.

Photo: David Huang

Photo: David Huang

[DHARAMSHALA] Celebrities, politicians and other prominent individuals, including Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu and musicians Radiohead have joined over 20,000 people in supporting a new campaign calling for coordinated global action to resolve the escalating crisis in Tibet, where ten young Tibetans have self-immolated since March 2011.

On the eve of the G20 Summit, Tibetans and their supporters are joining a Global Day of Action to highlight a Campaign for Global Intervention, an urgent call to world leaders to exert multilateral pressure on Chinese President Hu Jintao to ease tensions in Tibet.

Statements of concern following the self-immolations in Tibet have been issued by a number of governments, such as the United States, Germany and also the European Parliament. Campaigners are calling for a more coordinated, multilateral approach, including a joint demarche and the urgent creation of an appropriate and effective multi-lateral mechanism through which future diplomatic measures concerning Tibet can be agreed. Lobbying efforts have won the support of parliamentarians around the world, see www.StandupforTibet.org.

“Today, in 60 cities around the world, Tibetans and supporters are saying Enough! Enough to China’s violent, military rule over Tibet, and Enough to world leaders for failing to hold Beijing accountable for its atrocities in Tibet. Inaction now will only lead to the tragic loss of countless more Tibetan lives, and we cannot stand by and let that happen,” said Dorjee Tseten, National Director of Students for a Free Tibet India.

The harsh reaction of the Chinese government authorities to the 2008 protests across Tibet and the follow-on compulsory “patriotic reeducation” or “legal education” at Tibetan monasteries. Although protests in Tibet have been initiated and joined by all sectors of the society, including students, monks and nuns are frequent targets of repression given that religious practice connected to the Dalai Lama is viewed as subversive by the Chinese government. Elements of the security crackdown in Tibet that began as a reaction to the 2008 protests are ongoing with tightened control all around the country.

Our Demands:

The People’s Republic of China must:

1. Immediately remove security personnel from the Ngaba (Ch: Aba) and Kardze (Ch: Ganzi) regions and from individual monasteries. All monks must be allowed to return unconditionally to their respective monasteries in the Ngaba and Kardze regions.

2. Release all those detained in connection to the 10 self-immolations since 16 March 2011 and account for the whereabouts and well-being of all those who have self-immolated since February 2009.

3. Allow foreign diplomats and independent foreign media unfettered access to all Tibetan areas, especially the regions of Ngaba and Kardze.

4. Immediately suspend the implementation of religious and security policies in Ngaba.

We call on G20 Leaders and other Governments to:

1. In partnership with other concerned governments, insist that the People’s Republic of China accede to the above demands, including allowing diplomats and media access to Tibetan areas.

2. Express their concern about the situation in Ngaba directly to Hu Jintao in the fringes of the G20 summit in Cannes, France.

3. Jointly démarche (officially reprimand)China concerning the situation in Ngaba, seeking a full accounting for the removal of monks from Kirti Monastery, including an explanation of the pretext or conditions under which monks were removed and their current whereabouts.

4. Urgently establish, with other concerned governments, an appropriate and effective multi-lateral mechanism through which future diplomatic measures concerning Tibet can be agreed.

NOTES TO EDITOR:

List of Self-Immolations in Tibet (11 to date; 10 in 2011 and one in 2009)

27 February 2009, Ngaba: Tapey, mid-20s, of Kirti Monastery. Whereabouts unknown.

16 March 2011, Ngaba: Lobsang Phuntsok, 20, of Kirti Monastery. Died 17 March 2011.

15 August 2011, Kardze: Tsewang Norbu, 29, monk of Nyitso Monastery. Died at the scene, 15 August 2011.

26 September 2011, Ngaba: Lobsang Kelsang, 18, monk of Kirti Monastery. In hospital. Lobsang Kunchok, 19 , a monk of Kirti Monastery. In a different hospital to Lobsang Kelsang.

3 October 2011, Ngaba: Kelsang Wangchuk, 17, monk of Kirti Monastery. In hospital.

7 October 2011, Ngaba: Choephel, 19 former monk of Kirti Monastery. Died 11 October 2011. Khaying, 18, former monk of Kirti Monastery. Died 8 October 2011.

15 October 2011, Ngaba: Norbu Dramdul, 19, former monk of Kirti Monastery. Taken away, whereabouts unknown.

17 October 2011, Ngaba: Tenzin Wangmo, 20, nun of Ngaba Mamae Choekorling Nunnery. Died at the scene, 17 October 2011.

25 October 2011, Kardze: Dawa Tsering, 38, monk of Kardze Monastery. Status unknown, possibly being cared for in Kardze Monastery after refusing hospital treatment.

Organized by Students for a Free Tibet and RTYC- Dharamsala: www.studentsforafreetibet.org www.sftindia.org

 

Anti-nonviolence leaflet


From: https://twitter.com/#!/susie_c/status/131210601161695233/photo/1

 

Unaccountable Corporation of London


From: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/oct/31/corporation-london-city-medieval (2011-10-31)

Emphasis in red are mine.

 

” Working beyond the authority of parliament, the Corporation of London undermines all attempts to curb the excesses of finance

It’s the dark heart of Britain, the place where democracy goes to die, immensely powerful, equally unaccountable. But I doubt that one in 10 British people has any idea of what the Corporation of the City of London is and how it works. This could be about to change. Alongside the Church of England, the Corporation is seeking to evict the protesters camped outside St Paul’s cathedral. The protesters, in turn, have demanded that it submit to national oversight and control.

What is this thing? Ostensibly it’s the equivalent of a local council, responsible for a small area of London known as the Square Mile. But, as its website boasts, “among local authorities the City of London is unique”. You bet it is. There are 25 electoral wards in the Square Mile. In four of them, the 9,000 people who live within its boundaries are permitted to vote. In the remaining 21, the votes are controlled by corporations, mostly banks and other financial companies. The bigger the business, the bigger the vote: a company with 10 workers gets two votes, the biggest employers, 79. It’s not the workers who decide how the votes are cast, but the bosses, who “appoint” the voters. Plutocracy, pure and simple.

There are four layers of elected representatives in the Corporation: common councilmen, aldermen, sheriffs and the Lord Mayor. To qualify for any of these offices, you must be a freeman of the City of London. To become a freeman you must be approved by the aldermen. You’re most likely to qualify if you belong to one of the City livery companies: medieval guilds such as the worshipful company of costermongers, cutpurses and safecrackers. To become a sheriff, you must be elected from among the aldermen by the Livery. How do you join a livery company? Don’t even ask.

To become Lord Mayor you must first have served as an alderman and sheriff, and you “must command the support of, and have the endorsement of, the Court of Aldermen and the Livery”. You should also be stinking rich, as the Lord Mayor is expected to make a “contribution from his/her private resources towards the costs of the mayoral year.” This is, in other words, an official old boys’ network. Think of all that Tory huffing and puffing about democratic failings within the trade unions. Then think of their resounding silence about democracy within the City of London.

The current Lord Mayor, Michael Bear, came to prominence within the City as chief executive of the Spitalfields development group, which oversaw a controversial business venture in which the Corporation had a major stake, even though the project lies outside the boundaries of its authority. This illustrates another of the Corporation’s unique features. It possesses a vast pool of cash, which it can spend as it wishes, without democratic oversight. As well as expanding its enormous property portfolio, it uses this money to lobby on behalf of the banks.

The Lord Mayor’s role, the Corporation’s website tells us, is to “open doors at the highest levels” for business, in the course of which he “expounds the values of liberalisation”. Liberalisation is what bankers call deregulation: the process that caused the financial crash. The Corporation boasts that it “handle[s] issues in Parliament of specific interest to the City”, such as banking reform and financial services regulation. It also conducts “extensive partnership work with think tanks … vigorously promoting the views and needs of financial services.” But this isn’t the half of it.

As Nicholas Shaxson explains in his fascinating book Treasure Islands, the Corporation exists outside many of the laws and democratic controls which govern the rest of the United Kingdom. The City of London is the only part of Britain over which parliament has no authority. In one respect at least the Corporation acts as the superior body: it imposes on the House of Commons a figure called the remembrancer: an official lobbyist who sits behind the Speaker’s chair and ensures that, whatever our elected representatives might think, the City’s rights and privileges are protected. The mayor of London’s mandate stops at the boundaries of the Square Mile. There are, as if in a novel by China Miéville, two cities, one of which must unsee the other.

Several governments have tried to democratise the City of London but all, threatened by its financial might, have failed. As Clement Attlee lamented, “over and over again we have seen that there is in this country another power than that which has its seat at Westminster.” The City has exploited this remarkable position to establish itself as a kind of offshore state, a secrecy jurisdiction which controls the network of tax havens housed in the UK’s crown dependencies and overseas territories. This autonomous state within our borders is in a position to launder the ill-gotten cash of oligarchs, kleptocrats, gangsters and drug barons. As the French investigating magistrate Eva Joly remarked, it “has never transmitted even the smallest piece of usable evidence to a foreign magistrate”. It deprives the United Kingdom and other nations of their rightful tax receipts.

It has also made the effective regulation of global finance almost impossible. Shaxson shows how the absence of proper regulation in London allowed American banks to evade the rules set by their own government. AIG’s wild trading might have taken place in the US, but the unit responsible was regulated in the City. Lehman Brothers couldn’t get legal approval for its off-balance sheet transactions in Wall Street, so it used a London law firm instead. No wonder priests are resigning over the plans to evict the campers. The Church of England is not just working with Mammon; it’s colluding with Babylon.

If you’ve ever dithered over the question of whether the UK needs a written constitution, dither no longer. Imagine the clauses required to preserve the status of the Corporation. “The City of London will remain outside the authority of parliament. Domestic and foreign banks will be permitted to vote as if they were human beings, and their votes will outnumber those cast by real people. Its elected officials will be chosen from people deemed acceptable by a group of medieval guilds …”.

The Corporation’s privileges could not withstand such public scrutiny. This, perhaps, is one of the reasons why a written constitution in the United Kingdom remains a distant dream. Its power also helps to explain why regulation of the banks is scarcely better than it was before the crash, why there are no effective curbs on executive pay and bonuses and why successive governments fail to act against the UK’s dependent tax havens.

But now at last we begin to see it. It happens that the Lord Mayor’s Show, in which the Corporation flaunts its ancient wealth and power, takes place on 12 November. If ever there were a pageant that cries out for peaceful protest and dissent, here it is. Expect fireworks – and not just those laid on by the Lord Mayor. ”

 

Corporation of London alone in its mission to evict OccupyLondon


From: http://boingboing.net/2011/11/01/st-pauls-cathedral-drops-eviction-effort-against-occupylondon-almighty-corporation-of-london-plows-ahead.html (2011-11-01)

Emphasis in red are mine.

” Following an earlier signal from the Bishop of London, as well as the resignations of three prominent clerics, St Paul’s cathedral has withdrawn from its legal action against the OccupyLondon demonstrators camped around its grounds.

A member of the group responsible for liaison with the cathedral said they had met the Chapter of St Paul’s, the church’s governing body, at 11am: “We were informed that they will no longer be proceeding with legal action against us.” Cue loud cheers and applause.

Another activist then read out the full St Paul’s statement to the assembly, which was punctuated with cheers – notably, when Giles Fraser’s name was mentioned. News of Ken Costa’s involvement was greeted with silence, apart from one man just behind me who muttered: “Yeah, great.”

The church liaison committee will meet the St Paul’s Chapter again tomorrow, with issues to be discussed including access to the cathedral during busy upcoming events such as Remembrance Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

That leaves the Corporation of London alone in its mission to evict OccupyLondon. The Corporation is a sinister and eccentric body that runs the “Square Mile” — the headquarters of Britain’s financial industry — with near-total autonomy, as a kind of special economic zone or a country-within-a-country. Seriously, they make conspiracy nuts look reasonable:

What is this thing? Ostensibly it’s the equivalent of a local council, responsible for a small area of London known as the Square Mile. But, as its website boasts, “among local authorities the City of London is unique”. You bet it is. There are 25 electoral wards in the Square Mile. In four of them, the 9,000 people who live within its boundaries are permitted to vote. In the remaining 21, the votes are controlled by corporations, mostly banks and other financial companies. The bigger the business, the bigger the vote: a company with 10 workers gets two votes, the biggest employers, 79. It’s not the workers who decide how the votes are cast, but the bosses, who “appoint” the voters. Plutocracy, pure and simple…

The City has exploited this remarkable position to establish itself as a kind of offshore state, a secrecy jurisdiction which controls the network of tax havens housed in the UK’s crown dependencies and overseas territories. This autonomous state within our borders is in a position to launder the ill-gotten cash of oligarchs, kleptocrats, gangsters and drug barons. As the French investigating magistrate Eva Joly remarked, it “has never transmitted even the smallest piece of usable evidence to a foreign magistrate”. It deprives the United Kingdom and other nations of their rightful tax receipts.

It has also made the effective regulation of global finance almost impossible. Shaxson shows how the absence of proper regulation in London allowed American banks to evade the rules set by their own government. AIG’s wild trading might have taken place in the US, but the unit responsible was regulated in the City. Lehman Brothers couldn’t get legal approval for its off-balance sheet transactions in Wall Street, so it used a London law firm instead. No wonder priests are resigning over the plans to evict the campers. The Church of England is not just working with Mammon; it’s colluding with Babylon.

 

White House required by law to oppose marijuana legalization


From: http://www.reddit.com/r/trees/comments/lu3ei/want_to_know_why_the_white_house_petition_got_the/

” The petition was turfed to the White House Drug Czar, Mr. Gil Kerlikowske. I wrote a reply to his office and in the midst of trying to figure out where I needed to send it, I came across this little nugget:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Office_of_National_Drug_Control_Policy#Anti-legalization_Policy

Anti-legalization Policy

By law, the drug czar must oppose any attempt to legalize the use (in any form) of illicit drugs.[12] According to the “Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act of 1998”

This man is BOUND BY LAW TO OPPOSE ANY EFFORTS TO LEGALIZE MARIJUANA!!! That’s right, our president just took a petition signed by 74,169 people to address the possibility of even merely discussing the legalization of the use of marijuana and handed it over to a man who would be breaking the law by discussing doing anything other than advocating for it’s continued criminalization.

I do not use weed and I have not for almost 30 years. But I 100% support the legalization of that drug and I respect everyone who is working towards that goal. ”

 

VAT is inherently regressive


From: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-15519727

Poorest spend higher proportion on VAT than richest

The poorest 20% of UK households spend a higher proportion of their disposable income on VAT than the richest 20%, the Office for National Statistics said.

Its research covered 2009/10, which was before the increase in VAT from 17.5% to 20% in January 2011.

When Chancellor George Osborne announced the increase in his 2010 Emergency Budget, the government said that VAT was a progressive tax.

But the ONS research suggested that is not the case.

It said that the poorest fifth spent 9.8% of their disposable income on goods attracting VAT in 2009/10, while the richest fifth spent 5.3%.

That figure for the poorest fifth showed a considerable fall from the figure of 10.7% in 2008/9 and 12.1% in 2007/8.

It is sometimes argued that the poorest households are not hit as hard by rises in VAT, because the tax is not charged on essential items such as food and non-alcoholic drinks.

The ONS research also found that the poorest households spent 58% of their expenditure on goods on which VAT was charged in 2009/10, much higher than the 45% they had allocated to VAT-charged items in 1986.

“This latest piece of research reinforces what is widely perceived to be the fundamental inequality at the heart of VAT: the poorer pay more of it relative to their incomes than the wealthy,” said David Breger of HW Fisher & Company chartered accountants.

“It’s clear that the Government needs to reconsider the full effect of VAT, which is inherently regressive.

Proportion of disposable income spent on VAT

  • Poorest – 9.8%
  • 2 – 7.4%
  • 3 – 6.9%
  • 4 – 6.3%
  • Richest – 5.3%

Source: ONS

 
 
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