Tuesday, January 01, 2008

And Shall it be the Law of the Town? Arresting George W. Bush

And Shall it be the Law of the Town? Arresting George W. Bush
by C. L. Cook

What if it's as easy as that; what if stopping the horrors we, the whole of humanity have witnessed in the person of George W. Bush and his extra-legal operatives these past seven years could be as simple as that?

Kurt Daims

Seven long years; is that not enough suffering endured to atone any sin; long enough to have an end to torment? Kurt Daims of Brattleboro, Vermont thinks so, so he's taking the notion of a war crimes indictment, to be sworn out against Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney should they happen by the township.

Daims sums it up neatly:

* "There's a fundamental question here. If Congress doesn't do this, shouldn't it be done anyway?"

That is the nub of the issue upon which, more than any other single one, hangs our modern dilemma: How do we, the people, administer the law when the administrators abrogate their duty? Don't ask the town attorney. Bob Fisher doubts putting such an article in the town charter would make a difference. According to Fisher:

* "It is an absolutely unenforceable type of question. The people in Brattleboro do not have authority to impeach. I don't have the authority to indict the president, nor do the police have the ability to arrest him based on such a vote."

It's remarkable, given the gravity of the question, an American lawyer, and one in public service too, would consider the American Declaration of Independence not weighty enough an instrument to address tyranny. More than two hundred and thirty years ago, Thomas Jefferson put forward a few lines for the consideration of the framers of the constitution that addressed a similar occasion when a government failed to represent the best interests and aspirations of the people it "served."

I'm certain lawyer Fisher is familiar with at least a line or two of Jefferson's efforts. It starts like this:

* "When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."

Thomas Jefferson, later a president unlike the current incarnation, he being freely and fairly elected (albeit from "caged" voter lists), knew the potential damage a future president could do should the checks and balances on absolute power be weakened, or removed altogether. Jefferson, a curious scholar, scientist, and philosopher, product of the enlightenment that is the foundation of modern western civilization, was also a prolific reader, and writer. He chose his words carefully, and we can assume the order of his complaints against the injustices suffered the American colonists at the hands of the British occupation were reflected in the Declaration.

Jefferson based much of his essay on the writings of the English philosopher John Locke, who maintained "man" was possessed of "natural" rights; that is, he believed the individual embodies a representation of the whole. Therefore, injustice done to one was also done to all. He called these rights "unalienable," which means they cannot be separated from the individual.

He also argued that it was the government's duty to protect said individual rights, and that a government could only gain power through the free consent of the citizenry, who forever hold the right to abolish any government deemed unjust. These principles are inherent to the Declaration of Independence and integral to the just functioning of a democratic America.

Following two hundred and thirty-one years enjoying the fruits of freedom and liberty within the walls of the world's longest-lived democracy, lawyer Fisher responds to T. Jefferson's call for universal justice thus:

* "My response is if you can get me appointed to the U.S. Senate, I would be very grateful and then I would actually have standing to do something about this."

Getting elected to the senate is not necessary, the house of representatives would do. The democrats have the majority in congress. The representatives can table motions to impeach, as Dennis Kucinich tabled not so long ago, and they will go through committee, and perhaps a vote in the house. Then the senate can weigh the issue.

But both houses refuse to recognize the criminality this regime has employed from day one; (before day one if you consider jerry mandering the Florida voting rolls, and other pre-2000 election hanky panky).

David Swanson took on the Herculean task of enumerating the known crimes against the constitution, and international law commited by the George W. Bush administrations, and it's longer than your arm. Any one of these transgressions, many openly acknowledged, would be enough in saner times to bring down any government, yet they remain.

They remain, though George W. Bush now touts the lowest approval ratings of any president. His vice president is even less popular. Americans, most disagreeing, if not outright despising their president, have watched the Bush wrecking crew carry on a seven year looting spree, a dismantling of the nation, while dragging the flag too through the mire, making of the country a pariah in the eyes of the world.

It is the time for the winter patriots Jefferson hoped would sustain the nation to take the mantle, and remember the second paragraph of his great Declaration:

* We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

For Kurt Daims and his Brattleboro, Vermont confederates, the declaration of Vermont as a no-go state for profligate legislators on pain of the law could be the first shots of the next American revolution. Their first paragraph reads:

* "Shall the Selectboard instruct the Town Attorney to draft indictments against President Bush and Vice President Cheney for crimes against our Constitution, and publish said indictment for consideration by other municipalities? And shall it be the law of the Town of Brattleboro that the Brattleboro Police, pursuant to the above-mentioned indictment, arrest and detain George Bush and Richard Cheney in Brattleboro and extradite them to other authorities that may reasonably contend to prosecute them."

Shall it be the law of the town? Could deliverance be that simple?

Activists in Vermont town want Bush, Cheney subject to arrestStory Highlights
Group in Brattleboro petitioning to put item on town meeting agenda in March

Activists allege war crimes; item would subject Bush, Cheney to arrest if they visit

White House hasn't responded to requests for comment

Vermont AG says move is "of very dubious legality"


MONTPELIER, Vermont (AP) -- President Bush may soon have a new reason to avoid left-leaning Vermont: In one town, activists want him subject to arrest for war crimes.

Kurt Daims of Brattleboro, Vermont, speaks Friday about his movement against Bush and Cheney.

A group in Brattleboro is petitioning to put an item on a town meeting agenda in March that would make Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney subject to arrest and indictment if they visit the southeastern Vermont community.

"This petition is as radical as the Declaration of Independence, and it draws on that tradition in claiming a universal jurisdiction when governments fail to do what they're supposed to do," said Kurt Daims, 54, a retired machinist leading the drive.

As president, Bush has visited every state except Vermont.

The town meeting, an annual exercise in which residents gather to vote on everything from fire department budgets to municipal policy, requires about 1,000 signatures to place a binding item on the agenda.

The measure asks: "Shall the Selectboard instruct the Town Attorney to draft indictments against President Bush and Vice President Cheney for crimes against our Constitution, and publish said indictment for consideration by other municipalities?"

The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday. The press office did not immediately respond to an e-mail.

Support for the measure is far from universal, even in Vermont, where the state Senate voted earlier this year to support impeaching the president. Anti-war rallies are regular occurrences here, and "Impeach Bush" bumper stickers are common.

"I would not be supportive of it," said Stephen Steidle, a member of the town's Selectboard, which oversees its government.

"It's well outside of our ability. From my perspective, the Brattleboro Selectboard needs to focus on the town and the things that need to be done here."

Daims has been circulating documents that claim the community acquires a "universal jurisdiction" to take such steps "when governments breach their highest duties."

"We have the full power to issue indictments, conduct trials, incarcerate offenders and do all other acts which Independent jurisdictions may of right do," the statement says.

Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell, a Democrat whose office has repeatedly sued the Bush administration over environmental issues, said the move was "of very dubious legality."

"I have not seen the proposal, and I've done no legal research on any of the issues," Sorrell said. "But at first blush, if this passed, they'd have really uphill sledding trying to have it be legal and enforceable." E-mail to a friend

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Panel Breakthroughs Start Solar Power 'Revolution'

Solar energy 'revolution' brings green power closer

John Vidal, environment editor The Guardian,
Saturday December 29 2007

The holy grail of renewable energy came a step closer yesterday as thousands of mass-produced wafer-thin solar cells printed on aluminium film rolled off a production line in California, heralding what British scientists called "a revolution" in generating electricity.

The solar panels produced by a Silicon Valley start-up company, Nanosolar, are radically different from the kind that European consumers are increasingly buying to generate power from their own roofs. Printed like a newspaper directly on to aluminium foil, they are flexible, light and, if you believe the company, expected to make it as cheap to produce electricity from sunlight as from coal.

Yesterday Nanosolar said its order books were full until mid-2009 and that a second factory would soon open in Germany where demand for solar power has rocketed. Britain was unlikely to benefit from the technology for some years because other countries paid better money for renewable electricity, it added.

"Our first solar panels will be used in a solar power station in Germany," said Erik Oldekop, Nanosolar's manager in Switzerland. "We aim to produce the panels for 99 cents [50p] a watt, which is comparable to the price of electricity generated from coal. We cannot disclose our exact figures yet as we are a private company but we can bring it down to that level. That is the vision we are aiming at."

He added that the first panels the company was producing were aimed for large- scale power plants rather than for homeowners, and that the cost benefits would be in the speed that the technology could be deployed. "We are aiming to make solar power stations up to 10MW in size. They can be up and running in six to nine months compared to 10 years or more for coal-powered stations and 15 years for nuclear plants. Solar can be deployed very quickly," said Oldekop.

Nanosolar is one of several companies in Japan, Europe, China and the US racing to develop different versions of "thin film" solar technology. It is owned by internet entrepreneur Martin Roscheisen who sold his company to Yahoo for $450m and, with the help of the founders of Google, the US government and other entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, has invested nearly $300m in commercialising the technology.

At the moment solar electricity costs nearly three times as much as conventional electricity to generate, but Nanosolar's developments are thought to have halved the price of producing conventional solar cells at a stroke.

"This is the world's lowest-cost solar panel, which we believe will make us the first solar manufacturer capable of profitably selling solar panels at as little as 99 cents a watt," said Roscheisen yesterday.

However, the company, which claims to lead the "third wave" of solar electricity, is notoriously secretive and has not answered questions about its panels' efficiency or their durability. It is quite open about wanting to restrict access to the technology to give it a market advantage.

Jeremy Leggett, chief executive of Britain's leading solar energy company, Solar Century, said that it would be "breathtaking" if the technology proved as efficient as projected by the company. "This is a revolution. But people are going to be amazed at other developments taking place in solar technologies. We will be thrilled if this technology is as efficient as the company says. It will not change the direction of solar power in itself. Spectacular improvements are also being made in other parts of the industry," he said.

Figures released yesterday by the Earth Policy Institute in Washington showed that solar electricity generation was now the fastest-growing electricity source, doubling its output every two years. It is now attracting government and venture capital money on an unprecedented scale.

The technology is particularly exciting because it can be used nearly everywhere. "You are talking about printing rolls of the stuff, printing it on garages, anywhere you want it. It really is a big deal in terms of altering the way we think about solar," said Dan Kamman, director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley.

"The next industrial revolution will be based on these clean green technologies," said Tony Juniper, director of Friends of the Earth. "If the UK wants to be part of it, as Gordon Brown says it does, then it needs to rethink its strategies. Ministers have so far shown a distinct lack of vision."

Power from light

Photovoltaic (PV) devices convert light into electrical energy. PV cells are made of semiconductor materials such as silicon. When light shines on a PV cell, the energy is transferred to electrons in the atoms of the PV cell. These electrons become part of the electrical flow, or current, in an electrical circuit. First wave photovoltaic cell used thick silicon-wafer cells but were cumbersome and costly. The second generation of photovoltaic materials were developed about 10 years ago and use very thin silicon layers. These brought the price down dramatically but still need expensive vacuum processes in their construction. The third wave of PV, now being developed by firms such as Nanosolar, can print directly on to other materials and does not use silicon.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

No Surrender: The Unrepentant Tales of John Bolton

Surrender is Not an Option – Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad. John Bolton. Simon & Schuster, Threshold Editions, New York. 2007.

It is an interesting perspective, that of America needing ‘defending’, but it is one that John Bolton holds to thoroughly in “Surrender is Not an Option.” Surrounded by terrorists, ‘Islamofascists’, the old guard complacency of the “EUroids”, a resurgent Russian Empire, a belligerent if not hostile China, and almost above all else the two largest threats of Iran and North Korea, the United States certainly finds itself in a hostile world. Internally the “liberals”, the left, the “High Minded” are all appeasing fifth columnists who do not know how to defend America properly against these external threats. Bolton’s focus is trying to promote this perspective as U.S. Ambassador at the United Nations headquarters in New York, a building as such that he is oft quoted as saying would not be affected if the top ten floors disappeared.

For Bolton, finally, the UN could up and disappear for all he is concerned unless he can make it useful to U.S. purposes. In an all too brief summary of American views he holds that “the UN was widely viewed in America as ineffective at best, and adverse to U.S. interests and deeply corrupt at worst.” The audience he is hoping to reach “is not only these disillusioned Americans, but those who think glowingly of the UN as they had imagined it on Halloweens long ago.” I fit both categories – okay, I am not American, but a resident of the nearest and weakest full on ally – as one who is constantly reminded of the peacekeeping promise of Nobel Peace Prize winner Lester B. Pearson’s resolution to form “"an emergency international United Nations force to secure and supervise the cessation of hostilities," now witnessing Canadian foreign policy (and indeed domestic policy) falling in line with the military-corporate line of the United States. For once I agreed with Bolton, that the UN needs serious reforming, but assuredly with strongly different ideas as to how to do so.

I had hoped when purchasing this book that I could delve into the workings of Bolton’s mind, be able to examine his reasoning, be challenged and angered and affronted (something Bolton takes personal pride in towards the liberal, left, High minded folks), to check my knee jerk reactions to examine them for reasoned support or erroneous pre-conceptions. Usually when I read books on economics, politics, militarism, history et al, they are filled with margin notes, question marks, cross page referencing of both supporting and contradictory messages, and quick comments that I qualify and perhaps quantify later on. While expecting a good combative read from Bolton’s philosophy and perspective of his own story, I unfortunately was, in Bolton’s words, disillusioned.

This is not quintessential Bolton: it is not “A fascinating chronicle of his career,” it is not a “revealing memoir,” nor is it “a more realistic global security arrangement for the twenty first century” (jacket cover descriptions). For the latter, global security for Bolton can be summed up with the idea that the world needs to operate as the U.S. sees it, as the U.S. requires for its own security and strategic interests and the rest of the world be damned. For the former, the revelations and fascination were regularly overcome by the somniferous effect of this essentially meaningless work. If you already are familiar with John Bolton, this offers no new insights (although I was briefly hopeful when he began with the first chapter that actually showed some character development with his father, Jack Bolton). If you are not familiar with John Bolton, this work offers very few insights, and without providing background reasoning or underpinning philosophical ideas, there is little to clue the reader in to Bolton’s deeper thoughts, unless….

There were no knee jerk reactions to this ‘chronicle’ of Bolton’s life. Where was the great arguer? The great antagonizer? Where were his argumentative positions on all that was wrong with the world outside the United States and justification for its god-given right to world supremacy? At times, just when I thought he might be getting into something more meaty, such as “How and why the promise of the UN Peacekeeping was blunted in the post-Cold War era,” he signs it off saying “it is beyond what I can treat here.” He leaves all his positions as supposedly self-evident, as though his deeper thoughts….

So what does he “treat here”?

The treatment here is a long diary of whom he met with, when he met them, where he met them, who manipulated whom, with the main ‘character’ development being the frequent, short, sarcastic Coulterisms used to describe those personalities and ideas he did not like. As for actual personality, not much comes through. For all his encounters with Rice, Cheney, Powell, Rumsfeld, Bush at home and with all the other UN representatives, there is little if anything in the way of character development that could draw the reader into the dialogue and diary much more intently. All the characters are bland, all they seem to do is meet, talk, vote, fly around, meet, talk, and vote some more. So what is Bush really like, other than “the guy who got elected?” Does he really speak in full complex sentence structures as you quote, or is he really the speech challenged individual evident on the news sound bites? What is it really like to work with Cheney? Is he the genial grandfatherly type as his wife indicated on John Stewart? Is Rumsfield truly a sneering sarcastic manipulator for the American cause as media sound bites show? There is no sense of character even for himself other than the endless righteous minded servant serving “the guy who got elected.”

And then, what of the ideas, the political perspectives – other than the so narrowly defined good-guys bad-guys black and white world of us and them? Every now and then a brief hiccup of an idea comes through, such as the one mentioned on Africa above. Very briefly unconditional support for Israel is touched upon without any reasoning or thought applied to tell the “audience” why it should be that way, leaving the reader to know that the fall back position is always America first, foremost, and always and anything along the way that promotes their strategic global control.

One of Bolton’s final statements is “Disagreement reveals underlying issues that should be resolved consistently with our own interests, and it is those interests that should determine how we proceed.”[emphasis added] Great, tell us about those underlying issues, tell us about what really interests the U.S. and why, get back to the old antagonizing zealous self and put your reasons forward. No more of this brief idea, no development, and then off into the world of who met whom, who voted for what, when, and where, but never reasoned why.

Unless…unless that is all there is? Bland personalities. Shallow thinkers. Sarcastic adjectives posing as intelligent thought. Where is the fiery guy of whom Jesse Helms said “"John Bolton is the kind of man with whom I would want to stand at Armageddon, or what the Bible describes as the final battle between good and evil." John, is that bland fellow really you? I hardly think so…yet from your writing here, it is a highly plausible conclusion.

Hopefully Mr. Bolton, your next work – and there should be another one as your final lines indicate that you will “keep moving. And keep firing” – will present more self, more argument, more analysis from your perspective. Something to really dig into and be aggravated by. As it stands, “Surrender is Not an Option” is mostly a diary of what, where, when, and who, perhaps an accurate historical record, but certainly not something that will achieve lasting status as a work of critical thought.

Jim Miles
is a Canadian educator and a regular contributor/columnist of opinion pieces and book reviews for The Palestine Chronicle. His interest in this topic stems originally from an environmental perspective, which encompasses the militarization and economic subjugation of the global community and its commodification by corporate governance and by the American government. Miles’ work is also presented globally through other alternative websites and news publications.