Monday, December 21, 2009

Barack Obama: The Looks That Kill

Insightful piece by Mary Rizzo in The Palestine Chronicle on the triumph of style over substance in the career of Barack Obama:

“In Afghanistan at least one hundred innocent civilians were killed by a few men flying US Air Force planes, and this was not an isolated attack, it is simply one that had been reported. This act, when done by the Republicans, was immediately condemned by those who consider themselves to be “anti-war”. The complaints never seemed to last longer than a few days and they had no practical efficacy whatsoever, but the feeling was that it was wrong, it was putting America in a worse position and that one should protest, not really for the Afghanis or Iraqis, but for the sake of the image of the USA. All of this has simply faded out because their man, the charming and attractive Obama is doing it, and his narrative of the Good War, they believe, is going to be enough to do the trick.

Certainly, there is nothing new about the utilisation of rhetoric and image to make effective propaganda. What would really be sad is if those who identify with Obama because of his attractive image identified with all the hypocrisy he represents, and the lack of awareness that he is as imperialistic and as warmongering as any president before him, none excluded. If looks could kill, they probably will.”

Call for Issue 2 Content Artists!!

The year and decade are coming to a close and we here at The Arts Politic are working hard to bring our second issue to a close. Before doing so, we are putting out a call for magazine artists to create art to accompany essays, poetry and other Issue 2 content. Any interested artists should email to get more details.

We thank you for your interest and wish you and yours HAPPY HOLIDAYS and HAPPY NEW YEAR!! Enjoy some of our best art from 2009.

"Pray" by The Love Movement

And Now The Cupboard Is Bare by Nat Soti

"And Now The Cupboard Is Bare" by Nat Soti

Boys by Erin McElroy

"Boys" by Erin McElroy

New turmoil in Pakistan threatens to stall Obama’s Afghan strategy

Less than a month after he unveiled it, President Barack Obama’s Afghanistan strategy is in trouble, overtaken by new political turmoil in Pakistan that threatens to distract its bickering leaders from the fight against al-Qaida and its Afghan and Pakistani allies.

Obamacare Looms Because Alinskyite Obama Has Not Been Exposed

The political correctness forces sold the American people a bill of goods on both Tiger Woods and Barack Obama, because it fit their secular extremist political agenda. Yes, Tiger is great with golf clubs, Barack is great with a tele-prompter and both can act and perform under pressure. But neither was scutinized by the liberal media, because that did not fit their political correctness agenda. Tiger as great husband and father was a pretense. So was the notion that Obama favored bipartisanship and would govern from the center. NOW the American people see though Tiger's image, thanks to his one-car accident and that car window smashed with a gold club by his wife. Unfortunately, many still don't realize that the radical Obama's bipartisan/moderate clothes are like the new clothes of the Emperor in the childhood fable: imaginary. But the scurrilous tactics being used to impose Obamacare on America is opening many eyes.

Congressman Steve King, Republican of Iowa, on Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska announcing his support for Obamacare: “Ben Nelson has traded innocent unborn human lives, a fundamental moral principle, for a monetary concession – set aside exclusively for Nebraska.”

That's true.

Publius (pseudonym for the editorial board) admittedly put it plainer:

"We’ll be blunt. The ‘health care reform’ legislation under consideration in the Senate is the most corrupt piece of legislation in our nation’s history. Yes, we understand that is a strong statement and there have been other abominations throughout our nation’s life. But never before did corrupt legislation threaten to radically and forever change the live’s of every American.

"Exhibit A is the outright bribe extracted by Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Corn Huckster State) from Sen. Harry Reid. As a result of Nelson’s performance in his role of Hamlet in the health care deliberations, we will have two health care systems in this country; one for Nebraska and one for the other 49 states."

Wordier, but true too.

The passage of Obamacare looming now that Senator Nelson has been "bribed."


The answer is that the liberal media establishment wants it to be so and therefore has not reported the really "inconvenient truth" and the so-called conservative media, which should have focused on that, instead focused on the "Pimp and Pro" ACORN story, which does not involve Obama, and failed to focus America on the reality that Obama is really a well-trained radical community organizer tightly tied to ACORN, SEIU and La Raza and determined to implement their radical agenda as fast and fully as politically possible, regardless of the views of most Americans.

Michael Walsh wrote a two-part piece on the top ten underreported stories of 2009 but omitted the most important one: this year, like last year, the most important underreported story is that President Obama blatantly lied about his relationship with subversive, corrupt, criminal ACORN in order to fool the voters and win the presidency, ACORN had an illicit relationship with the Obama presidential campaign, The New York Times killed a pre-election Obama/ACORN expose on October 21, 2008 and the mainstream media either willfully or obliviously did not scrutinize Obama and instead whitewashed his ugly ACORN connections.

Walsh, in "Clueless’ Clark Alert: The Top Ten Undernews Stories of the Year, Part II" (December 18, 2009), listing ACORN as the second most underreported story of the year and explained why the mainstream media "ignored" the story: "Because 25-year old James O’Keefe and 20-year old Hannah Giles acted on a hunch, took a risk, sought the truth and shone a giant light on corruption. If it weren’t for media daredevil Andrew Breitbart their story would have never caused the shockwaves it did. The MSM is afraid of stories like Giles’s and O’Keefe’s because: 1) it makes them look useless; why aren’t the professionals breaking stories like this? How dare the tykes take the initiative? 2) The release method and style of the videos was intended to resonate with everyday Americans, not gain the approval of the media elites 3) The story had everything to do with a corrupt entity. And unfortunately, rather than exposing corruption the MSM has itself adopted a questionable and shady lifestyle."

Tragically, (1) Walsh is right about the mainstream media and (2) the "Pimp and Pro" ACORN story allowed Obama and Congressional Democrats to distance themselves in the public perception from ACORN. ACORN was dropped as a partner in the next census and a bill passed overwhelmingly by the Democrat-controlled Congress and signed by President Obama cut some funding to ACORN until a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against de-funding ACORN as a violation of the constitutional ban on bills ofattainder.

Fittingly (for an article posted at Andrew Breitbart's, Walsh chose "the end of the media as we know it" as the most underreported story of the year and quoted Breitbart's explanation as to its importance: "The absolute admission by the reigning media class that they are not objective journalists and earnest gumshoe reporters is cause for celebration. The cabal that made sure George W. Bush became a toxic name to the body politic had even greater plans in 2008 when it offered up one-term senator and former Punahou School benchwarmer, Barack Obama, as the candidate of the millennium. Now that the deed is done, multiple scandals that would have felled mere-mortal presidents have gone completely unreported. Who needs Teflon when it’s not you who’s frying in the pan?"

Breitbart is right about the mainstream media not being objective (and admittedly not objective himself). But Breitbart and the "Pimp and Pro" ACORN story he masterminded did NOT put Obama in the frying pan (or on the griddle) and thus did not thwart Obama personally or the passage of Obamacare, a key part of the ACORN/SEIU/LaRaza political agenda.

For Obama to be thwarted, he must be exposed as a lying community organizer in the radical tradition of Saul Alinsky who considers himself above the "rules."

That's BAD.

How radical was Alinsky?

In Alinsky's Rules for Radicals, published in 1971, Alinsky quoted himself as follows: "Lest we forget at least an over-the nshoulder acknowledgement to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins--or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom--Lucifer."

Alinksy and his ilk belong in Lucifer's 'kingdom," and none of Alinsky's faithful followers is fit to serve in a nation based on a belief in the God-given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Alinsky wrote (p. xviii): "First, there are no rules for revolution..., but there are rules for radicals who want to change their world....To know these is basic to a pragmatic attack on the system. These rules make the difference between being a realistic radical and being a rhetorical one who uses tired old words and slogan...and has so stereotyped himself that others react by saying, 'Oh, he's one of those,' and then promptly turn off."

Obviously Obama learned the art of communication well.

Alinsky: "The failure of many of our younger activists to understand the art of communication has been disastrous. Even the most elementary grasp of the fundamental idea that one communicates within the experience of his audience--and gives full respect to the other's values--would have ruled out attacks on the American flag. The responsible organizer would have known that it is the establishment that has betrayed the flag while the flag, itself, remains the glorious symbol of America's hopes and aspirtations, and he would have conveyed this message to his audience."

To win the presidency, Obama wore an American flag lapel pin. (It calls to mind the comment of a king of France, Henry of Navarre, that "Paris is worth a Mass".)

To win passage of Obamacare, Obama cleverly put up the traditional White House creche after all and finally ordered a surge in Afghanistan. (First things first. Obama can't afford yet to show how radical he really is.)

Alinsky explained (p. xix): "AQs an organizer I start from where the world is, as it is, not as I would like it to be. That we accept the world as it is does not in any sense weaken our desire to change it into what we believe it should be--it is necessary to begin where the world is if we are going to change it to what we think it should be. That means working in the system."

Obama understands!

That means "bribes" for Senators Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Ben Nelson of Nebraska, in order to bring about the maximum "fundamental change" currently politically possible in what remains a center-right country.

Alinsky (pp. xxi-xxii):

"We will start with the system because there is no other place to start except political lunacy. It is most important for those of us who want revolutionary change to understand that revolution must be proceeded by reformation. To assume that a political revolution can survive without the supporting base of a popular reformation is to ask for the impossible in politics.

"Men don't like to step abruptly out of the security of familiar experience; they need a bridge to cross from their own experience to a new way. A revolutionary organizer must shake up the prevailing patterns of their lives--agitate, create, disenchantment and discontent with the current values, to produce, if not a passion for change, at least a passive, affirmative, non-challenging climate."

Obama understands.

Alinsky (pp. 78-79): "...the organizer must be able to split himself into two parts--one part in the arena of action where he polarizes the issue to 100 to nothing, and helps to lead his forces into conflict, while the other part knows that the time comes for negotiations that it really is only a 10 per cent difference--and yet both parts have to live comfortably with each other. Only a well-organized person can split and yet stay together. But this is what the organizer must do."

Obama understand that too. But he's going for "fundamental change," not "a 10 per cent difference," with Obamacare and planning to come back for the rest, even though the now aware American people prefer no change to Obamacare by a substantial majority.

If the truth about Obama and ACORN was generally known, Senators Nelson and Landrieu would not dare to back Obamacare.

But it is not. Instead, Breitbart, BigGovernment and Fox News focused on ACORN's penchant for facilitating crimes NOT involving Obama and Fox reached a detente with the Obama administration than secured Bill O'Reilly an invitation to a White House Christmas party (and maybe an ACORN cookie).

Michael J. Gaynor

Iran's Jalili meets Japanese FM in Tokyo

ISNA - Tehran
Service: Foreign Policy

TEHRAN (ISNA)-Iran’s Secretary of Supreme National Security Council Saeed Jalili and Japan’s Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada met Monday morning in Tokyo.

Okada emphasized the significance of ties with Iran for Tokyo and invited Jalili to pay a visit to Japan’s nuclear power plants during the trip.

There are broad domains for bilateral relations, he said and added the two countries have good and close cooperation in reconstruction of Afghanistan and it can be extended to other domains.

Jalili, for his part, welcomed promotion of Iran and Japan ties in deferent domains and noted Tehran and Tokyo have good capacities in politic and economic fields and can make good cooperation in global and regional scene.

Jalili arrived in Tokyo on Sunday for a four-day visit.

End Item

Politic is the second half of my real life movie : Chiru

Addressing a huge gathering of students and youths in a programme organised by the Mission for Elimination of Poverty in Municipal Areas (MEPMA) in Tirupathi on Thursday to mark the World Disabled Day, mega star-turned politician Chiranjeevi described his present political stint as the second half in the movie of his ‘real life’. "In the first half of my life’s movie, I donned enough roles and won the hearts of all. I am now in the second half," he said.

The actor alleged that the State Government failed to safeguard the interests of the disabled. He said not even 3% of the budget outlay was allocated for the disabled welfare. There was a huge backlog of posts reserved for the disabled in various government departments.

"The ruling Congress, which is claiming credit for increasing the pension for the disabled from Rs. 200 to Rs. 500, seems to be unaware of the disabled welfare programmes being implemented in other States. Puducherry is paying a monthly pension of Rs. 1,250 to the disabled. The Congress Government has limited itself to comparing its welfare initiatives with the TDP regime," the PRP president said.

Danquah Institute calls on ECOWAS, AU to show concern over Nigeria

The Danquah Institute, an Accra-based policy think tank, has called on the collective leadership of the Economic Community of West African States and the African Union to actively show, with urgency, leadership and concern in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“Such a priority engagement could boost ongoing domestic efforts at finding a democratic solution to the pending constitutional crisis in the biggest black nation in the world,” the think tank argues, adding that the situation is threatening Nigeria’s democracy and the stability of the region.

After a longer history of instability, coups, military dictatorship and controversial elections, Africa’s most populous nation is struggling to contain the ramifications of a seriously ill, and absent, president.

In a statement released on Sunday, December 20, the Executive Director of the Danquah Institute, Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, says “Nigeria, a nation hosting half of the population of our region and Africa’s biggest energy producer, is facing a period of grave uncertainty. Our fear is that the apparent passive posture of the two transnational bodies (AU and ECOWAS) in the face of such fundamental constitutional crisis in Nigeria, smacks of the kind of irresponsibility that usually leads to fire-fighting after the harm is done.”

The Danquah Institute is particularly calling on the President of the Republic of Ghana, the second most populous nation in the West African region, “to take the initiative and get the AU and ECOWAS to act. This can start by the two bodies agreeing to send a high powered monitoring team to Nigeria.”

DI feels “very little is being done or shown in the spirit and letter of both the AU and ECOWAS by the rest of Africa to show how seriously the continent views the ensuing sense of paralysis and crisis in Nigeria. The Federal government, security forces and civil society in Nigeria must be made to appreciate how crucial the country’s stability is to the rest of the continent. We must begin to show more concern and support.”

The DI statement explains, “The mandate of the delegation must include engaging various local stakeholders to ensure that the democratic institutions in the federal republic are protected and allowed to endure in these trying times and guide the nation through the crisis. They can do so without interfering in the process.”

The AU Constitutive Act declares a commitment “to consolidate democratic institutions and culture, and to ensure good governance and the rule of law.” Mr Otchere-Darko sees this as an opportunity for the AU to demonstrate commitment.

“We believe President John Evans Atta Mills should impress on other African leaders about the urgency and importance of this mission to help ensure that the future of multi-party democracy in Nigeria is secured. If Nigeria fails we all fail,” the statement warns.

On November 24, President Musa Yar’Adua checked into a Saudi Arabian hospital with a serious heart condition and has not been heard or seen since. This has prompted calls for his resignation. Earlier this month, 56 prominent Nigerians called for President Yar'Adua to hand power to his vice-president.

But that call has also raised another controversy, bordering on ethno-religious lines and constitutional conventions.

Since Mr Yar-Adua’s hospitalisation, Nigeria has had nobody acting as President. “Unlike Ghana, for instance, where the vice-president automatically acts whenever the president leaves the shores of the country, the Nigerian constitution is more stringent on this issue,” says Mr Otchere-Darko.

Section 145 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic stipulates: “Whenever the President transmits to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives a written declaration that he is proceeding on vacation or that he is otherwise unable to discharge the functions of his office,… until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary such functions shall be discharged by the Vice-President as Acting President.”

No such letter was written by the president, formally handing power to Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan, before he left the country for treatment. Also the constitution is almost silent on the exclusive powers of the vice-president when a substantive president is in office, Mr Otchere-Darko says, further incapacitating the president’s deputy under the circumstances.

The failure to hand over to the vice-president has created a serious power vacuum. This has led to a constitutional crisis where legislative bills cannot receive presidential assents.

“A typical case in point is the 2009 Supplementary Appropriation Bill. Both the Senate and House of Representative passed the N352.5billion supplementary budget bill in November. It has to receive presidential assent in 30 days. Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan admits he cannot sign the budget without being cloaked with Section 145 powers,” Mr Otchere-Darko points out.

“Another constitutional crisis may hit the judiciary in a few days time,” he warns. Last week, the Senate approved the nomination of Justice Aloysius Iyorgyer Katsina-Alu as Chief Justice of Nigeria. He is to take over from Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi, who retires on December 31. However, the head of the third arm of government must be sworn in on January 1, 2010 by the President of the Federal Republic.

“Thus, Africa is looking at a very likely scenario where the most populous nation on the continent would have a headless executive and a headless judiciary,” Mr Otchere-Darko predicts.

As one Nigerian newspaper puts it, “We are 150 million sheep without a shepherd.”

There are also serious issues in the event that the vice president is made to act under Section 146 (1) of the constitution. The provision reads: “The Vice-President shall hold the office of President if the office of President becomes vacant by reason of death or resignation, impeachment, permanent incapacity or the removal of the President from office for any other reason in accordance with section 143 of this Constitution.”

A convention that has supported the stability of the Fourth Republic Constitution dictates that power rotates between the predominantly Muslim north and Christian south and former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s tenure effectively defined that rotational period to be every two presidential terms in office.

The current vice president is a Christian from the south. This has led to loud calls for him to resign if the option of acting president becomes available, for fear that his ascendancy would upset the north-south rotation convention. Mr. Yar’Adua has two years of his first term left.

The Danquah Institute is worried about the prospect of the constitutional crisis being exploited by some military adventurists.

“The Nigerian armed forces have shown tremendous professionalism in recent years. The Nigerian political elite has also shown tact and maturity in resolving peacefully previous crisis. Moreover, the Nigerian people have been patient and resilient. But, we can’t afford the luxury of complacency and rule out anything, especially, when these crisis are coming on top of long held perception by the masses of massive corruption and the tolerance of that anti-development culture in the body politic,” Mr Otchere-Darko cautions.

He recollects that “since the Togolese coup d’├ętat of January 1963, West Africa built a reputation as the military takeover belt of Africa. By the early 1990s, West Africa was leading the continent towards a period of multi-party democracy. We need to maintain our eternal vigilance and build public confidence in the concept that we can indeed develop in freedom here in Africa. It is that which we fear is perilously at stake in Nigeria today.”

The Danquah Institute cites the recent statement by the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, describing Nigeria as an example of governments “able but unwilling to make the changes their citizens deserve.” Mr Otchere-Darko throws back a rhetorical question, “So has multi-party democracy brought about the change that citizens of Nigeria deserve?”

This widespread perception of corruption was not helped when on December 17 a federal judge threw out a $60 million corruption case against a former governor which many Nigerians believed was an opportunity to finally bring to book big politicians who allegedly steal millions of dollars from government coffers.

Justice Marcel Awokulehin dismissed the 170-count case against former Delta state governor James Ibori and a close associate of President Yar’Adua for lack of evidence. The case is seen as a big blow against democracy.

Mr. Ibori, who as governor received an official salary of about $25,000, was indicted by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) in December 2007, which resulted in a UK court freezing his assets in that country worth $35m. The head of the EFCC at the time, Nuhu Ribadu, was shortly after fired and eventually forced to flee the country.

“Another blow against democracy is the perception that the fight against corruption is only ‘stage-managed’ when the accused person is an ‘enemy’ of the powers that may be,” Mr. Otchere-Darko says.

On December 9, a presidential candidate in 2007, Attahiru Bafaraw, was picked up on corruption charges in the course of a meeting by opposition forces aimed at forming a formidable united front against the ruling party for the 2011 elections.

The country’s security has been further compromised by the president’s absence. Ripples of the vacuum created by President Yar’ Adua’s ailment were felt in the troubled Delta State last weekend when Nigerian militants reportedly carried out their first attack on an oil pipeline since an amnesty offer. They said the attack was prompted by the absence of President Yar’Adua, which was delaying peace talks.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, the main militant group in the region, held formal peace talks with the president only two weeks before he left for treatment in Saudi Arabia. The unconditional cease-fire declared on October 25 appears to have been broken now.

Again, there are reports that the absence of President Umaru Yar’Adua from the country may be sparking off supremacy battle among his cabinet members and close aides.

The Danquah Institute points out that Article 3 of the AU Constitutive Act states its objectives as including the achievement of greater unity and solidarity between the African countries and the peoples of Africa; the promotion of peace, security, and stability on the continent; the promotion of democratic principles and institutions, popular participation and good governance.

“When these objectives are juxtaposed to the objective of defending the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of its Member States and the Article 4 principles of non-interference by any Member State in the internal affairs of another, it is our submission that the case for a pro-active diplomatic engagement to help Nigeria resolve the crisis is very strong.”

DI argues further that per its fundamental principles as enshrined in Article 4 of its treaty, ECOWAS has a duty to assist Nigeria promote and consolidate its democratic system of governance, thereby, helping to maintain regional peace, stability and security.

Human Security and Extremism in Sri Lanka:

Synergy and Conflict - IV
International Conference on Human Security Approaches to Counter Extremism in South Asia 24-25 November 2009, BIISS, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Continued from Saturday

Synergy and Conflict

The rise and fall of the LTTE is a unique phenomenon in the post-colonial history of Sri Lanka. The emergence of the LTTE is closely related to the structural crisis of the post-colonial state which exploded at its weakest point, i.e., the state-nation relationship. The socio-political forces who took the reins of power since independence failed to integrate all the ethno-national identities in the country into the decision-making process. All attempts taken earlier by the ruling parties to restructure the state were abandoned in the implementation stage, even after the signing of agreements with Tamil parties, in the face of political pressure from a small section of Sinhala Buddhist extremist in society. There were stages in the course of alienation of Tamils from mainstream politics and from the state. The political leadership of the main parties who were in power alternatively failed to grasp and respond positively to the many early warning signals. It must be emphasized that recognition of the fact that there is an unresolved ethnic problem that gave birth to an organization such as the LTTE, does not justify all the extremism and violence perpetrated by the LTTE. The modus operandi of the LTTE presents a clear example of the extremism and terrorism associated with ethnic conflicts and ethno-political mobilizations in South Asia.

In the common sense of the word, extremism is a relative condition as well as a loaded term. Therefore, this term should be understood in a structural sense in relation to the given concrete socio-political situation. In the present South Asian historical and political context, it is not difficult to identify key properties of the phenomenon of extremism. In view of South Asia’s central location in the Indian Ocean and its age-old historical intercourse with a wider geographic area in Asia, a multi-ethnic, multi linguistic and multi-religious complexion constituted the fundamental character of entire South Asia. The acceptance and recognition of this fundamental feature is a sine qua non for co-existence, stability and peace in South Asia. The importance of notions and respect for plurality, tolerance, coexistence and accommodation of mutual interests in the political and social spaces needs to be understood in this context. Any violation of these fundamental features either in theory or practice generates a chain reaction and destabilizes the entire society. Extremism is manifested not only in ideology but also in political practice and behavior. It is not definitely a one-way process. Extremisms, though takes different stances, ideologically sustain each other in the long run and provide mutual justification for each others behavior. The dialectics of Sinhala and Tamil extremisms can be cited as a case in point. The extremist social and political ideologies and practices are a manifestation of a broader socio-political crisis. In Gramasci’s words, when the body politic is in crisis, morbid symptoms appear every where. Indeed, extremism represents one of such morbid symptoms in our body politics.

Many properties of extremism and its accompanying violence are well manifested in the political agenda, strategy, behavior and organizational structure of the LTTE. Its political alternative to the structural crisis of the state and to the failure to accommodate the multi-ethnic social order in the system of power and governance is a mono-ethnic state for Tamil people. The stark reality is that the majority of Tamil people in Sri Lanka live outside the proposed political space of Tamil Eelam. In the multi-ethnic context, many non-Tamils also live within the territory demarcated for Tamil Eelam. The attack on the ‘outsiders in the homeland’ and irredentist flushing out attacks on others to demarcate the traditional homeland created a serious human security crisis. In 1990 the Muslims who had lived in the north for generations were given only 24 hours to leave. The self-righteousness associated with ethnic zeal sets no limits to violence.

The strategy that the LTTE adopted to achieve its political objective was overwhelmingly based on terror and violence. Suicidal missions and ‘cyanide capsules became the hallmark of the political culture of the LTTE .The political assignations using suicidal attackers constituted a main element of its strategy. On the one hand it targeted political leaders such as heads of states, presidential candidates, ministers and other political personalities. On the other hand, the LTTE conducted systematic assassinations of other viable Tamil political leaders to don the mantle of the sole representative of the Tamils. Bomb attacks on economic and civilian targets in the south remained another aspect of its strategy. By conducting such attacks, the LTTE wanted to take the entire community in the south as ransom and to pressurize the state to yield to its demands.

The overtly militaristic behavior of the LTTE had not changed in accordance with the global politico-strategic environment. The LTTE originated as a war-machine and it remained so throughout. There was a political section but it was always an appendage to the military section. In politics, after a careful analysis of possible opportunities, it is necessary to compromise and bargain. There is no room for that in extremism. The LTTE failed to grab many opportunities offered by the Sri Lankan government because of over-reliance on its military strength. The authoritarian character of the organization and its leadership cult deprived it of the means of hearing the true pulse of the Tamil people living under its control. The LTTE was of the wrong perception that the Tamil people would be behind them under any situation because it was fighting for the Tamil cause.

The misperception of the LTTE about the allegiance of the Tamil people paved the way for its final debacle. In order to understand the modus operandi of the LTTE in its last phase, it is necessary to read its strategy correctly. The LTTE was very well aware of the fact that it was not possible to have its Eelam by military means only. The recognition of a new state is very restricted according to prevailing international conventions and practices. During the ceasefire environment the LTTE tried to have a transitional arrangement by presenting a proposal for an Interim Self-Governing Authority (ISGA) in November 2003. If it had been implemented, there would have been only one or two steps to cross the Rubicon after five years. The plan failed due to the intervention of President Kumaratunga. The LTTE has realized by then that even a vey long period of military tenacity over a tract of land does not politically baptize a separate state. The Bangladesh case of genocide and oppression on ethnic grounds could be a valid reason for secession. After the failed attempt of establishing the ISGA, the LTTE hoped to create conditions for a ‘grave humanitarian crisis’ that warranted international intervention, a subsequent transitional authority under UN supervision and a plebiscite after a certain time frame. The LTTE was planning for these three steps to achieve its political objective of Eelam. The LTTE systematically planned this scenario by taking over two hundred and fifty thousand ordinary people with them and hoped to keep them till such an eventuality took place The LTTE firmly believed till the last minute that these Tamil people would remain with them. But, as soon as the GOSL forces broke the siege, the people deserted the LTTE leaving them vulnerable to attack.

The collapse of the LTTE cannot be adequately explained only in terms of the factors and conditions operating on the military strategic plain. The defeat of the LTTE was possible due to its own political collapse. Terrorism has a limit as a political tool. The relentless killing of Tamil political opponents and its failure to utilize the space opened up by the ceasefire to change its image politically weakened the LTTE. The terrorist face of the LTTE, rather than of the liberation fighters, was illustrated more and more by nihilistic-type assassinations. The extortions and other forms of intimidation of the people in the North and the East by the LTTE became more intolerable during the ceasefire. At the same time the validity of the political alternative of the LTTE to the structural crisis of the Sri Lankan state has been questioned more and more in the light of global socio-political trends and geo-political realities in South Asia. Disillusionment with the LTTE goal of a separate sovereign state for Tamil people and the enormous destruction and severe pain caused by war eroded the earlier support base. War-weariness of the people in the war-torn area was reflected in every nook and corner of society. Over-reliance on arms and military strategy rather than on social forces and political strategy, and the ruthless suppression of ‘other’ voices in Tamil society dissipated the moral justification of their struggle. The continuous displacement and destruction of livelihood denied the Tamil people the bare minimum of civilized life. The culture of violence and the creation of a garrison community destroyed the human dignity and spirit of the people who once laid claim to a rich and dignified culture and instilled a feeling of pervasive helplessness.

The human insecurity that prevailed in Sri Lanka in the last five decades brought into focus the synergy and chain reaction of violence and extremism that undermined basic human values and democratic practices necessary for peace, stability and collective coexistence. The security of the state should organically be linked with the security of all collective identities, communities and the individual as a member of civil society. In a context where the authority of the state is challenged on ethnic lines, the entire ethnic collectivity would be treated as a security problem by the state. When the state treats a section of its own citizenry as a national security threat, the very foundation of the security of the state is shaken. The use of terror and violence against the state provides a convenient rationale for the state to employ violence against all other political opponents curtailing the democratic space of the country further. It would exacerbate the insecurity of the individual, as well as the ethnic collectivity as a whole. The concept of Human Security which emphasizes the importance of multiple references of security and diverse aspects of security essential for human life, provide a possible way out of this vicious cycle. The military collapse of the LTTE offers Sri Lanka an opportunity to move from conflict to post-conflict society. In order to go forward in that direction Sri Lanka needs a new security agenda. The evolving concept of Human Security could provide the necessary guideline for a new security agenda.

1 Commission on Human Security, Human Security Now, New York: Commission on Human Security, 2003, P.4

2 Antonio Gramsci, Selection from the Prison Notebooks, Quitnin Hoare and Geoffrey, Nowell Smith, eds. And tr. New York: International Publishers, 1992, p.210.

3 I.D.S. Weerawardena, "The Minorities and the Citizenship Act", The Ceylon Historical Journal, 1:3, 1951, p.242.

4 For answers to these questions See G.B. Keerawella, "The 1971 uprising and the Janatha Vimukti Peramuna," Social Science Review (Colombo) 1:2 (1980): 01-55

5 See. G.B. Keerawella, "Political Anatomy of Southern Militancy: The Insurrection of the Janatha Vimukti Peramuna," in Security Dilemma of a Small state: Internal Crisis and External Intervention in Sri Lanka, K.M.M. Werake & P.V.J. Jayasekara, eds., (New Delhi: South Asia Publishers, 1995), 147-175.

6 See. G.B. Keerawella, "Crisis of the Post-Colonial State, Political Process and Political Violence in Sri Lanka," in Indian Ocean Issues for Peace, Rama S. Melkote, ed., (New Delhi: Manohar,1995), 71-92

7 People identified the alternative authority as ‘punchi ?nduwa’ (small government) which was sometimes influential than the state.

8 Quoted in A. Sivarajah, "Indo-Sri Lanka Relations and Sri Lanka’s Ethnic Crisis: The Tamil Nadu Factor", in Selton Kodikara, ed., South Asian Strategic Issues -Sri Lankan Perspective, (New Delhi: Sage Publications ), p.142.

9 India Today, in MARCH 1984, presented a vivid picture of the activities of Tamil militant groups in operation in Tamil Nadu. In mid-1980s, it is reported, Tamil Nadu harbored 39 military training camps in which 3,00 Tamil guerillas were undergoing training.

10 On 3 May 1986, a LTTE bomb exploded an Air Lanka jetliner killing 14 passengers. Four days later a bomb near the Central Telegraph Office (CTO) in Colombo killing 14 people and wounding more than 100. Anti-state violence has come to the heart of Colombo.

11 All together, six rounds of talks were held until 11 April 1995. During these negotiations and also in the exchange of letters, the LTTE carefully avoided discussing any political issues directly related to a sustainable solution to the ethnic problem. The LTTE demand during this period of dialogue that the Sri Lankan army should vacate key military positions indicated that they were not yet ready to think of a negotiated settlement.

12 This military operation, code-named ‘Riviresa’, was carried out at a heavy price—600-700 soldiers were killed and 3000 wounded.

13 The strategy of the PA government seemed to be two-pronged: military and political. In July 1995 the concept paper on constitutional reforms which was identified as the devolution package was published. The government initiated a dialogue with the main opposition party on the devolution package and started the legislative process to have a new constitution to give political expression to multi-ethnicity13. The new constitution initiative of the PA government saw a dismal end when ‘A Bill to repeal and replace the Constitution’ was finally rejected by the opposition in August 2000.

14 The second round was held at Rose Garden in Thailand from 31Oct.-November 2002, the third one was in Oslo, Norway in 2-5, December 2002, the fourth round was held again in Thailand during 6-9 January 2003. The fifth one was in Berlin during 7-8 February, 2003 and the sixth one was held in Hakone, Japan, during 18-21 March 2003.

15 It began after the LTTE closed the sluice gate of the Mavil Aru reservoir on July 21and cut the water supply to 15,000 villages in government controlled areas. Initial negotiations and efforts by the SLMM to open the gates failed. The GOSL Air Force attacked LTTE positions on July 26 as ground troops began an operation to open the gate.

SEC’s Own Accounting Is Deficient

Apparently, the SEC, top regulator of financial fraud, isn’t up to snuff keeping its own financial books…
We don’t say it’s cooking its books, but it sure looks like if someone wanted, they could cook them quite easily, according to this report at

“The GAO found that the SEC “did not have effective internal control over its financial reporting as of Sept. 30, 2009.”
As part of its mission, the SEC is charged with enforcing strict financial disclosure rules for public companies. Apparently, it is less adept at policing itself.
For example, the GAO reported that SEC’s general ledger system allows unauthorized personnel to view, manipulate or destroy data, and that “serious unauthorized activity” may remain undetected.
Until the SEC fixes these problems, the GAO found, the SEC can’t be sure “1) its financial statements, taken as a whole, are fairly stated; 2) the information the SEC relies on to make decisions on a daily basis is accurate, complete, and timely; and 3) sensitive data and financial information are appropriately safeguarded.”
Nor could the SEC “provide evidence that it monitored controls over its payroll exception reports to ensure payroll transactions were recorded accurately and timely.”
While the GAO did credit the SEC with producing statements that were “fairly stated in all material respects,” it flagged
“six significant deficiencies” for FY 2008 and 2009.

The six areas are:

• information security;
• financial reporting process;
• fund balance with Treasury;
• registrant deposits;
• budgetary resources;

Stuart Spencer: Republicans’ war within

THE recent unsuccessful effort in Orange County to recall a California Republican lawmaker is yet another micro example of efforts by hardcore conservative activists to obstruct the legislative process now on display by the “Party of No” in Congress.

Despite Secretary of State Debra Bowen’s announcement the recall effort against Assemblyman Anthony Adams was dead last month because of insufficient valid signatures recall leaders launched a still unsuccessful effort to land the issue on the ballot.

Adams’ political sin was that he was one of six state legislators who joined Democrats in approving a February budget update that included tax hikes although recall advocates say he betrayed his signed pledge not to support more taxes.

Similar ongoing divisions, as The Washington Post pointed out last week, have troubled longtime GOP members who are old enough to have served during the party’s glory days. Stuart Spencer, the key political strategist in electing Ronald Reagan as both California governor and president, told the Post that he’s not sure how well Reagan would have fared in a California election today.

Reagan, he said, was about putting together a “big tent for Republicans, “wanting to leave room for moderates who strayed from absolute fealty to conservative ideals. He added that now, “If the far right here doesn’t like the way somebody has voted on one or two issues, on taxes, they’re against them.”

Here’s my question: Is the Republican Party’s ideologically pure right-wing even listening any more?

Lowkey @ Gaza demo in London 10 Jan 2009

It can be said that the English language is a living language. This is because as time goes on the language changes. Words come to mean different things. Sometimes the same word can mean one thing to some people and quite another to a different group. This is especially true of legalese, but I won’t go into that now. As a student of the English language, this facet of its growth often fascinates me. It’s amazing how the meanings of words mutate over time. I can think of several words whose meanings are wholly different than they were about fifty years ago. Gay is a prime example, but there are others.

Most recently the word crazy seems to have seriously changed its meaning. It used to mean insanity, but to many political pundits it seems to mean anyone who disagrees with their political ideology. Now, I realize there are many other definitions for crazy, some which are positive, but when these talking heads on TV or these political pundits writing for major newspapers and magazines use this word, it seldom seems to connote a positive meaning in context. No, when these people use this word they most often seem to mean insane, not enthusiastic, devoted or excited. If confronted, they would probably claim to mean these things, but we know different. Who do they think they’re fooling? Well, they’re fooling the few who are still trapped watching TV news and reading corporate newspapers, those who are unable or unwilling to seek alternative sources to get another point of view, and those who are unable or unwilling to digest an alternative point of view and use critical thinking to come to their own conclusions. There are some people out there who continue to believe that all Ron Paul supporters are insane. A good way to combat this phenomenon is to tell people who know you are sane that you are a Ron Paul supporter. In fact, the more Ron Paul supporters one meets, the more one realizes the vast majority of them are some of the sanest people on the face of the planet. In this way, those on the fence will come to realize the propaganda being spread by some in the “mainstream” media for what it is.

Yet as if this wasn’t enough, now Ron Paul supporters have been called terrorists by some media personalities. Terrorist is not a word that has changed its meaning, but it is a word that is often misused. A terrorist is someone who engages in terrorism. Terrorism is the use or threatened use of violence with the intention of coercing or intimidating societies or governments, often for political purposes. To this point, I am unaware of any use or threatened use of violence from any Ron Paul supporter as an attempt to get Ron Paul elected. I would venture a guess that 99.999999% of all Ron Paul supporters realize how futile such a gesture would be. I have seen, however, the threat of the use of force leveled against Ron Paul supporters, dissenters, anti-war protestors, and other activists. There are a few commentators on some “mainstream” media venues that repeatedly call for the force of the state to be brought against these people. There have been many calls for violence to be used against such civil disobedience. They often do this as they advocate nationalism and adherence to the latest mantra of the state. This has been particularly true lately as more and more people find the message of freedom and gravitate toward agreement with those who have in the past been labeled “fringe.” It seems that perhaps the “mainstream” media is not so mainstream anymore. It’s almost as if these commentators can see their audience exiting the theater to check out some different act and so they start shouting and name calling in an attempt to keep the audience placated. They also seem to believe that demanding the government adhere to the mandates spelled out in the constitution is somehow threatening behavior.

We might all do well to remember the reason our country’s founders penned the constitution in the first place. Its purpose was to protect the people from the government. The people who came to America were people trying to escape tyranny. They were tired of innocent people being lumped together and punished alongside those who may have advocated violence against the government. They were tired of innocents being tortured because of their religious or political views and being forced into false confessions. They were tired of being told what to think. They were tired of being told to shut up, that the king or others in power knew better than they did. They were tired of not having a voice in government. They were pretty much sick and tired of the corrupt governments that had metastasized upon the European continent. The failings of monarchal rule were fresh in the minds of the founding fathers when they wrote the constitution. This more than likely weighed in when they decided to include the bill of rights. It seems we have come full circle. As laws are passed to try to circumvent articles of the bill of rights our very own government begins to look more and more like the tyrannical monarchies our ancestors fled. If some emergency befalls our great nation and the constitutional system collapses, we will not have a new world to flee to. It behooves us, therefore, to do our best to shore up our constitution as best we can, to make certain that power does not get too centralized to the point where a very few can do whatever they please without being held accountable. I don’t believe we’ve reached that point yet, though we are close.

Supporters of Ron Paul are excited because they believe they can realize a peaceful path to change and a way to restore faith in the constitution and balance to the nation. They realize that violence and force are part of the problem, not the solution. The Ron Paul revolution catch phrase emphasizes love found in the word rEVOLution. It is disingenuous to call his supporters crazy. It is unfair to label them as terrorists. I would never stoop to calling those in the media names or suggesting that they don’t know what they’re talking about. In fact, I believe just the opposite. I believe those in the media who are trying to discredit Ron Paul and his supporters are quite intelligent and well informed. I know they are quite well paid, unlike folks like me, and it is their job (or at least is should be) to make themselves informed. This makes their motives seem quite nefarious when they decide to engage in activities such as name calling and shouting out for state sanctioned violence against Ron Paul supporters and others.

Watch the video related to politic is crazy

difficulties due to the toxic dust that they breathed in trying to help their country during the weeks after this tragic event. Told with a personal hands on approach that avoids advancing any one position, the film asks the question: are these crazy conspiracy theorists? Or is 9/11 Truth a credible political movement? … elephant in the room trailer 9/11 truth john feal william rodriguez cynthia mckinney Richard Gage documentary grassroots outreach news political commercial We Are Change UK …

Sunday, December 20, 2009

England lose two wickets before lunch

AFP - England lost two wickets before lunch as they battled to avoid defeat on the fifth and final day of the first Test against South Africa at SuperSport Park on Sunday.

The Crematory Of Capitalism

Independent traders know as a fact that Humungous Bank & Broker (HB&B) research analysts are biased and unaccountable. We also know they give short-term tips to their firm’s proprietary traders and sales people that are at odds with their longer-term published opinions. These unfair practices are permitted because the fundamental conflict of interest structure of the securities industry is permitted.

Today the Wall St Journal has reported that FINRA (the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) has launched a broad inquiry into how up to a dozen Wall Street firms disseminate stock ratings and research. Important questions are being asked.

On August 24 this year, WSJ informed the public of how Goldman Sachs analysts were tipping their traders with info that differed from published reports. These regular meetings were called “trading huddles”. At the time, I called it insider trading, which is criminal.”

My Comment:

A reader commented earlier that “insider trading” is a big yawn as a story (for the latest insider trading arrest, see this case, of an ex-banker from Lazard, a relatively small case, admittedly)

Someone might come to that conclusion only if their knowledge of the practice were abstract and based on theoretical debate on the subject. But anyone who knows the history of the capital markets over the last 30 years or so knows that a big part of the story is that investment (merchant) banks turned into traders by the end of the century and that their proprietary trading became more important to them than their retail clients or customers. I’ve written about this in relation to Goldman Sachs, which was the most egregious (because it was the most powerful) of the lot.

Insider trading is essentially a failure of banking as a profession, with professional ethics. There is a fiduciary responsibility to shareholders (in the case of a company) and of clients (in the case of banks). Conflict-of-interest is a problem in every other work place. Why not here?

Besides conflict-of-interest, insider trading involves an explicit fraud on the client.

That’s in addition to the crime of fractional brokering, as someone cleverly puts it. (This is quite different from fractional banking. Due to the confusion of language that lets banks perform both safe holding and investing functions at once, fractional banking is legal). On the other hand, “fractional brokering,” which is what naked shorting and “fails-to-delivered” amount to, is illegal.

Unfortunately, the professional financial reporters seem too myopic to understand the gravity of the problem, our self-involved “gonzo” journalists (yes you, Matt Taibbi) are too politically-driven to explain it correctly, and right now I’m too disgusted by the intellectual dishonesty of the media to take the trouble to make the argument on the web and see it lifted by all and sundry with nary a link or footnote, let alone verbal acknowledgment.

As Cara points out correctly (and safely, since he’s in Canada), Wall Street and the American capital markets have become a joke, and a substantial part of the financial media still doesn’t seem to realize it’s the punchline.

That gives me no pleasure to say. For years, I defended American business to my foreign friends, claiming that Americans at least held to standards, regulations, and transparency requirements higher than theirs (meaning, Indian and non-Western).

Behind all the glitz “America” still operated somewhere, I argued.

The Marxists and communists who called the whole thing a charade and a lie didn’t quite get it, I was sure. The values of the American republic would prevail. Once most money-managers and businessmen were alerted to what was going on in the markets, I fully expected that their outrage would be enough to stem the rot. I saw CEOs stepping up to the plate and doing their duty, when the future of their own (rather than someone else’s) children was at stake.
That was four and a half years ago, when I first began researching the markets.

In retrospect, I see I was incredibly naive.The rot goes deep.

Those are somber thoughts to have around Christmas time. But perhaps not inappropriate. If you recall, in the Christmas story, gold (or should I say, gld?)and frankincense were only two-thirds of the offering. The other third was myrrh. Myrrh is a resin whose oil, I read here, is used for embalming and whose incense is used by penitents at funerals and cremations.

That must be the bitter scent I smell rising from the capital markets.

don’t fret, there’s still time yet!

This post is dedicated to all the lovely boyfriends and husbands who might be a tiny bit behind in their holiday shopping. It happens! No judgement.

We think we can steer you in the right direction choosing a gift, but if you’re just not sure then a body politic gift card can come to the rescue. If you love her style, why not let her choose?!

The gift card can be made for any denomination and never expires. She’ll be happy and your shoulders will relax. All good!

We will be closed on Monday as usual BUT online orders may be placed and picked up in the store anytime before 4PM on December 24th! We will be available to answer questions via email on Monday so contact us if you need assistance.

Harvard Paper Suggests SEC Favors Big Firms

Now I’m waiting for the Harvard Law paper that says that if you jump off a cliff, you tend to fall downward not up…

August 11, 2009

Harvard Law and Economics Discussion Paper No. 27

Recent financial collapses have focused policymakers’ attention on the financial industry. To date, empirical studies have concentrated on corporate issuer activity, such as securities offerings and class actions. This paper makes a first step in studying SEC enforcement against investment banks and brokerage houses. This study suggests that the SEC favors defendants associated with big firms compared to defendants associated with smaller firms in three ways. First, SEC actions against big firms are more likely to involve exclusively corporate liability, with no individuals subject to any regulatory action. Second, the SEC is more likely to choose administrative rather than court proceedings for big-firm defendants, controlling for types of violation and levels of harm to investors. Third, within administrative proceedings, big-firm employees are likely to receive lower sanctions, notably temporary or permanent bars from the industry. To explain this gap, the paper first investigates whether big-firm violations are qualitatively different from small firms’ violations, but finds no support for this. This paper next explores two hypotheses that could explain a systematic bias in enforcement patterns: that constraints in bureaucratic resources weaken the SEC’s negotiating position towards big firms, and that SEC officials favor prospective employers.”

Googling Santa

This is the most wonderful time of the year for those of us who toil in the vineyards of the editorial pages. Somebody always trots out Francis Pharcellus Church's 1897 "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" editorial in the New York Sun, and for a brief shining moment, people think hey, maybe editorialists aren't creeps after all.

In my experience, these sentiments do not last very long.

Church wrote anonymously, in the witness protection program tradition of most editorial pages. He didn't get credit for the Santa Claus piece until after his death in 1906, perhaps because his sense of timing wasn't that great. The "Yes Virginia" editorial was published on Sept. 21, suggesting that Sept. 20, 1897, was a very slow news day.

I got to wondering what would happen today if some 8-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon asked her papa if there were a Santa Claus. He would have said, "I dunno. Google it."

Little Virginia would type "Santa Claus" and "exist" into the search engine. Among the first things that pop up is an old Spy Magazine article that explains that the laws of physics would cause reindeer to vaporize if they attempted to fly fast enough to visit all the children in the world. Santa would be crushed by the G-forces. Virginia would be crushed at the news.

Or maybe little Virginia would have posed the question not in a letter to the editor, but on a newspaper blog. Within minutes, anonymous comments would appear ripping Barack Obama for thinking he was Santa Claus, or ripping Virginia for being a greedy welfare princess, or inviting her to meet the "real" Santa Claus, who is in fact a 38-year-old prevert living in his mother's basement.

This is yet another reason why newspaper editorials are so much more reliable than the Internet. But I digress.

Virginia might find herself visiting, a project of the KRS Media Group of Orlando, Fla., which promises to send 10 percent of its net proceeds to help orphans and children around the world. Virginia might think, "Ten percent? Santa's a cheapskate."

If little Virginia was like most people, eventually she would gravitate to websites that confirm her own suspicions. Harvard law professor Cass Sunstein, in a new book called "Rumors," suggests that's why so many people today believe patently absurd things: Because they seek out other people who believe the same things.

"Rumors spread through two different but overlapping processes: social cascades and group polarization," Sunstein contends. "Cascades occur because each of us tends to rely on what other people think and do. If most of the people we know believe a rumor, we tend to believe it, too. Lacking information of our own, we accept the views of others. When the rumor involves a topic on which we know nothing, we are especially likely to believe it."

This may always have been true, Sunstein writes, but the Internet has helped spread the ignorance virus throughout the body politic. People who believe, for example, that President Obama is a Kenyan can find lots of validation for those beliefs by visiting sites that trade in rumors. You can discover that the Holocaust was a hoax and that AIDS was a government plot to destroy the African-American population.

Sunstein says research shows that the more you tell people that the facts do not back up their beliefs, the more strongly they cling to them. This is dangerous for the body politic, in that decisions are not made on facts: "To the extent that the Internet enables people to live in information cocoons, or echo chambers of their own design, different rumors will become entrenched in different communities."

Naturally, those who trade in rumors are worried about this, mainly because President Obama named Sunstein as head of the White Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. They envision a world of "truth squads" in which Glenn Beck, for example, would be held accountable for some of the stupid thing he says. His stupid opinions would be protected, but outright falsehoods would not.

Sunstein also has expressed the idea that animals may have legal rights that can enforced by the courts, which made him a target of pro-hunting and farm organizations. He's also written that environmental regulations should be subject to cost-benefit calculations, which made him suspect to a lot of environmental groups. The same cost-benefit calculations might be applied to end-of-life care, he's argued, which make some people worry that he supports euthanasia.

Indeed, there's almost as much about Cass Sunstein on the Internet as there is about Santa Claus, most of it inconclusive and subject to personal bias.

So if you're out there, Virginia O'Hanlon, I would recommend that you e-mail the letters editor. She would tell you that people believe in things a lot weirder than Santa Claus.

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