Political Notes from 2000

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30 December 2000
Deportees being flown from Europe to other countries have been tortured by border guards while on the plane. A number of the victims have died before getting off the plane. Some European airlines are now refusing to carry such "passengers", but Lufthansa continues to seek this lucrative business.

28 December 2000
NAFTA has been so successful at cutting wages in the US, and destroying working conditions in Mexico, that politicians are aiming to extend NAFTA to South America if we don't stop them.

17 December 2000
Here is an explanation of the Supreme Court decision that ruled against counting the votes in Florida, with a suggestion for what to do about it.

12 December 2000
Billionaires for Bush (or Gore) urged people to vote for either George Bush or Al Gore. "We don't care which, we already bought both of them."

13 December 2000
Do politician's comments refer to a reality? Do they "mean" anything? Nowadays, some politicians don't see a need for that.

18 November 2000
In November 2000, Democracy Now! -- Pacifica Radio's national news magazine and an important source of alternative news and views on many issues -- was under threat from Pacifica's management. Learn more at http://www.fair.org/activism/democracy-now.html.

16 November 2000
The Free Burma Coalition asking Americans in Nov 2000 to write to President Clinton asking him to ban imports of garments from Burma. These garments Burma exports are made in factories run by the military dictatorship, using effectively slave labor.

19 November 2000
In late 2000 I learned that a leading Pakistani rationalist, Dr. Younus Shaikh, is being prosecuted for blasphemy, a crime that carries a death sentence in Pakistan. The hysteria was such that for a long time he could not find a lawyer willing to defend him.

This case is likely to continue for a long time. Please help Dr. Shaikh by writing to the government of Pakistan to express your concern about the case.

3 November 2000
The Korean government is proposing a law to regulate the Internet in Korea, which would impose censorship rules and is bad for citizens' privacy.

8 October 2000
The DEA is planning to prohibit hemp-based products such as soap, which are not drugs at all, on the grounds that they interfere with drug tests for marijuana. This shows how sick and twisted the war on drugs is making the US: even the tools of enforcement are now considered more important than mere daily life. (Whatever drugs that war is on must be very dangerous.)

Please visit the site for the campaign to block these regulations, www.SaveHemp.org, and please help and inform others.

(I received an interesting letter in response to this issue.)

The Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility is having its annual conference in Pennsylvania, Oct 14-15. Its theme is ``Reconstructing Privacy in the Information Age''.

2 September 2000
Americans United for the Separation of Church and State has chided Senator Lieberman, the Democratic candidate for vice president, for extremely religious campaign rhetoric, injecting religion into the campaign in a way we would normally expect only from right-wing fundamentalists.

Americans United sent Lieberman an open letter asking him to ask voters to consider his record, not his religion.

I've been a member of Americans United for several years.

15 August 2000
In 1999 the US Congress proposed a law requiring every bank to establish a ``know your customer'' program to report all unusual deposits to the government--in effect, snooping on the customer. When combined with the practice known as ``civil forfeiture'', which means that the government can seize ``suspicious'' assets without even having a trial, these programs actually threaten to take away your bank account.

Strong public opposition blocked that bill, and ``know your customer'' programs did not become mandatory. But over 80 percent of US banks have them voluntarily. That is better than 100 percent, but not good.

I have an idea for how to bring about some change in this. It involves setting up a web site where people can record which banks have these programs and which do not. People can ask their own banks, and then record the answers.

Then people who don't want the extra risk of civil forfeiture, or object to big-brotherism, can use the data base to find a local bank which doesn't squeal on its law-abiding customers--and move their deposits to that bank.

I don't have time to set this up, and I don't know how either. But I hope I can get someone else interested. If you are interested in setting this up, and you know how, please send me mail. (People are working on this now, so if you want to help, please contact me rather than starting on your own.)

25 July 2000
The Consumer Project on Technology is organizing an Open Access protest in Washington DC, Thursday July 27. The issue will surely continue to be important past that date.

19 July 2000
Alongside the Republican and Democratic political conventions in 2000, there were "shadow conventions" sponsored by the Marijuana Policy Project, calling for an end to the War on Drugs.

If you think a drug is dangerous, you can avoid the risk by not using it. But you cannot avoid the many dangers of the War on Drugs--a million Americans in prison (largely for nonviolent "possession of drugs" crimes), no money for education because prison comes first, our police corrupted, and our civil liberties undermined.

25 June 2000
A Korean protest parody site has been shut down as a copyright violation. The site was set up by workers who were fired, and then not rehired despite a court order to rehire them. Eventually they set up a protest parody site criticizing the employer, POSCO. POSCO sued them for copyright infringement and succeeded, forcing their site to be taken down. Now there is a world-wide campaign to set up mirrors of the site. I have set up a mirror as part of this campaign.

22 June 2000
You might enjoy Ask Dr Laura that is floating around on the net.

13 May 2000
On April 25, 2000, the Marijuana Policy Project reported that Hawaii has enacted a law removing criminal penalties for medical use of marijuana (which can help cancer patients tolerate the harsh side effects of many cancer treatments).

For some 20 years the U.S. has been the target of a crazed War on Drugs. Around a million people are in prison in the U.S. today for drug-related "crimes". Often the crime was simply to sell or use drugs--activities that would not be crimes at all if we end this war. Sometimes the crime was an act of violence--which should be a crime, but typically would not have happened if prohibition did not drive the drug trade into the hands of gangsters. (In the 1920s, the illegal sellers of alcohol committed many notorious violent crimes--but today's brewers, distilleries and liquor stores are law-abiding.) Our civil liberties are constantly threatened by plans to make this war "more effective".

When a war is on drugs, it tends to forget who the enemy is, and attack citizens indiscriminately. Let's get the war off drugs.

28 April 2000
If you work for the corporate world, you may be interested in celebrating Phone In Sick Day on May 1.

RTMark explains the holiday this way:

  1. To bring an important American holiday back home.

    Mayday commemorates ten Americans who lost their lives fighting for the eight-hour [work] day, and their sacrifice has been celebrated since 1889 nearly everywhere in the world *except* America.

  2. To call attention to the loss of the eight-hour day and other quality-of-life indices in America.

    Mayday heralds the approach of summer, a time that still means "vacation" to those in most First-World nations. But substantial vacations, like the eight-hour day, have passed into American leisure history. While the average number of hours worked per year has gone down throughout the First World, it has gone up in America, with Americans now working six weeks more per year than they did in 1973 to achieve the same standard of living. Phoning in sick en masse will function as a "mayday" distress call by increasingly harried Americans. (Visit http://rtmark.com/sickday.html to see Andrei Codrescu explain this most eloquently.)

    [rms note: We used to expect technology to provide increased leisure time. I believe it could, if society were not dominated by business and business owners.]

  3. To call attention to the dwindling quality of life everywhere.

    The erosion of leisure is no longer limited to America. As European countries are increasingly forced to dismantle social programs and adopt American-style measures to benefit corporate health, we can be sure that they will all go the way of the United States: two-month vacations will shrink to two weeks, maternity leave will go from six months to five days, etc. Therefore RTMark encourages Europeans, and other First Worlders for whom May 1 is already a holiday, to phone in sick on May 2. (In the Third World, of course, the effects of neoliberalism are unspeakably worse than a mere erosion of leisure; it would be tasteless to suggest that phoning in sick might accomplish anything there.)

Taslima Nasrin, a Humanist from Bangladesh, was threatened with religious murder for criticizing such things as persecution of Hindus and the injustice of Islamic law. She was officially charged with the crime of ``blasphemy''. She is now in exile.

The right to criticize, or even ridicule, any religion or religion in general is part of human rights. No religion or church is entitled to suppress criticism--not Islam, not the Church of Scientology, not even the Church of Emacs.

31 Dec 2000
powerful companies and institutions are grabbing domain names from their satirists, from their fans, and from people who coincidentally use the same name.
31 Dec 2000
The explanation of the Supreme Court ruling against counting the votes in Florida has been updated.
30 Dec 2000
Deportees have been tortured, even killed, on Lufthansa flights, by the police in whose custody they were being deported.
28 Dec 2000
Politicians, ever the servant of business, are trying to extend NAFTA to South America.
28 Dec 2000
There is now a jokes page.
17 Dec 2000
See explanation of the Supreme Court decision against Gore (updated Dec 31).
13 Dec 2000
Politicians' statements can become so childish that they don't have "meanings".
12 Dec 2000
Added a link to Billionaires for Bush (or Gore).
19 Nov 2000
Help save Younus Shaikh from being prosecuted and possibly executed for "blasphemy".
18 Nov 2000
Pacifica Radio is threatening to censor and perhaps eliminate the program Democracy Now.
16 Nov 2000
Help the Free Burma Coalition establish trade sanctions on the Burmese military regime.

3 Nov 2000
Korea proposes regulation of the Internet and does it badly.
31 Oct 2000
Increase Nader's vote without helping Bush. See www.nadertrader.org.
31 Oct 2000
The US Constitution is illegal!
8 Oct 2000
Prohibit hemp products just to make drug tests reliable? See www.savehemp.org.
8 Oct 2000
Added another filksong, Bardic Circle.
2 Sep 2000
Americans United for the Separation of Church and State chided Senator Lieberman, the Democratic candidate for vice president, for extremely religious campaign rhetoric.
27 Aug 2000
Could the attack on Pearl Harbor have been predicted the previous day?
15 Aug 2000
I have endorsed Ralph Nader for President of the US.
15 Aug 2000
An idea for how to eliminate bank surveillance of depositors in the US.
25 July 2000
There will be an Open Access protest in Washington DC, Thursday July 27.
19 July 2000
The Marijuana Policy Project is organizing shadow conventions calling for an end to the War on Drugs.
10 July 2000
Another song parody.
9 July 2000
China photos from May/June 2000.
30 June 2000
Funny poems and song parodies.
25 June 2000
An Anti-POSCO mirror.
22 June 2000
Ask Dr Laura.
13 May 2000
The Marijuana Policy Project has a success in Hawaii.
13 May 2000
Photos of my visit to Brazil (travel)
28 April 2000
Phone-In Sick day (political notes)
22 April 2000
Waiting for the Knock

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