Israel denies entry to high-profile critic Norman Finkelstein (updated)

Dandelion Salad

Updated: May 30, 2008 added Democracy Now video.

By Yossi Melman, Haaretz Correspondent

The Shin Bet security service detained and deported an American Jewish professor who is a prominent critic of the Israeli occupation when he landed at Ben-Gurion International Airport on Friday.

Professor Norman Finkelstein was interrogated for several hours and held in an airport cell before being put on a plane back to Amsterdam, his point of departure. Finkelstein said he was told he could not return to Israel for 10 years.

The Shin Bet said Finkelstein “is not permitted to enter Israel because of suspicions involving hostile elements in Lebanon,” and because he “did not give a full accounting to interrogators with regard to these suspicions.”




Norman Finkelstein deported from Israel

by Eli Senyor and Adva Naftali

Controversial US academic held overnight at Ben Gurion airport for questioning, denied entry due to ‘security considerations’

Israel deported Jewish-American Professor Norman Finkelstein to the United States on Friday after questioning him at Ben Gurion airport. Finkelstein was denied entry due to “security concerns,” authorities said.

Finkelstein was detained immediately after landing in Israel late Thursday night and was questioned at the airport before being told he could not enter Israel.

“Finkelstein was boarded onto a plane back the United States before dawn. When he arrived we will decide whether to appeal this decision,” his attorney, Michael Sfard, told Ynet. Sfard said the entry ban could last 10 years.

“A country that starts to fear what its harshest critics write about it is a country that is already behaving in a manner reminiscent of the darkest days of the communist regime,” said Sfard.

Finkelstein, the son of a Holocaust survivor, has written extensively regarding Israel’s policies in the territories and accuses Israel of manipulating the memory of the Holocaust and present-day anti-Semitism to justify illegitimate policies.





Israel bans Norman Finkelstein for 10 years from Israel


Added: May 30, 2008
Israel Bars One of its Most Prominent Critics, Norman Finkelstein, for Ten Years

Norman Finkelstein was arrested and deported from Israel last week and told he’s barred for ten years. Finkelstein is known as one of the most prominent academic critics of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. We speak to Finkelstein and the human rights worker he was on his way to visit, Musa Abu Hashhash.


Nakba: Debate with Benny Morris, Saree Makdisi and Norman Finkelstein

The Greatest Story Never Told by Stephen Lendman

McCarthyism Comes to Europe and the Levant By Franklin Lamb & Ann El Khoury

Tomgram: Tony Karon: Growing Dissent among American Jews by Tom Engelhardt

Beating Israel’s activist deportation system, this time March 2005 h/t:

Target of a Witch Hunt By KATHRYN WEBER (Finkelstein)

Socialism is the future – build it now by Michael Lebowitz

Dandelion Salad

Posted with permission by Green Left Weekly

by Michael Lebowitz
Green Left Weekly
23 May 2008

Ideas become a material force when they grasp the minds of masses.

This is true not only of ideas that can support revolutionary change. It is also true of those ideas that prevent change. An obvious example is the concept of TINA — the idea that “there is no alternative”, no alternative to neoliberalism, no alternative to capitalism.

Certainly we know that there have been significant changes in the terrain upon which the working class must struggle — changes that are a challenge because of a new international division of labour and because of the role of states in delivering a passive, docile working class to international capital.

It is not only changing material circumstances that affects the working class, however. It is also the loss of confidence of the working class that makes these material changes a deadly blow. Even the Korean working class, which has demonstrated so clearly in the past its militancy in the struggle against capital, has been affected.

But it does not have to be that way — because things are changing.

Look at Latin America, where the effects of global restructuring and neoliberalism took a very heavy toll. People said ultimately — enough! And they have said this not only to neoliberalism but, increasingly, they have moved further and say no to capitalism.

For many, it came as a great shock when Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, said at the World Social Forum in January of 2005 in Brazil that “we have to reinvent socialism”.

Capitalism, he stressed, has to be transcended if we are ever going to end the poverty of the majority of the world. “We must reclaim socialism as a thesis, a project and a path, but a new type of socialism, a humanist one, that puts humans and not machines or the state ahead of everything.”

That statement, however, did not drop from the sky. It was the product of a spontaneous rejection of neoliberalism by masses in 1989, the election of Chavez with a promise to change things in 1998 and the response to the combination of the domestic oligarchy and imperialism in their attempt to overthrow Chavez in 2002 and 2003.

The embrace of this new socialism, in short, was the product of struggle.

The struggle continues. And we can see that out of struggle comes creativity. In particular, the struggle in Venezuela has stressed the importance of a revolutionary democracy — a process in which people transform themselves as they directly transform circumstances.

Through the development of communal councils representing 200 to 400 families in urban areas and as few as 20 in the rural areas, people have begun to identify their needs and their capacities and to transform the very character of the state into one which does not stand over and above civil society but rather becomes the agency for working people themselves.

“All power to the communal councils” has been the call of Chavez. “The communal councils must become the cell of the new socialist state.”

Ideas can become a material force when they grasp the minds of masses.

In Latin America, the idea of a socialism for the 21st Century is beginning to move the masses, with its emphasis upon Karl Marx’s concept of revolutionary practice — the simultaneous changing of circumstances and self-change.

At its core is the concept of revolutionary democracy. In contrast to the hierarchical capitalist state and to the despotism of the capitalist workplace, the concept is one of democracy in practice, democracy as practice, democracy as protagonism.

Democracy in this sense — protagonistic democracy in the workplace, neighbourhoods, communities, communes — is the democracy of people who are transforming themselves into revolutionary subjects.

Here is an alternative to capitalism — the concept of socialism for the 21st Century with its emphasis upon struggle from below, upon solidarity and upon building the capacities of working people through their own activities. It is an idea that a working class with a tradition of struggle against capital should have no difficulty in grasping.

Socialism is the future — build it now.

[This the preface to the forthcoming Korean edition of Michael Lebowitz’s Build It Now: Socialism for the 21st century, which as available through Monthly Review. Lebowitz is professor emeritus of economics at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. He is also a member of the Miranda International Centre (CIM), a left-wing Venezuelan institute. Green Left Weekly journalist based in Caracas, Federico Fuentes, who also works for the CIM, will be a special guest at the national Resistance conference in Sydney, June 27-29, to discuss the struggle for socialism in revolutionary Venezuela. Visit]


We Must Democratize Our Economic Institutions by Manila Ryce

How To Achieve Socialism

Could we organise things without money? (2005)

Counterfeit capitalism – death at discount rates

Dandelion Salad

Posted with permission by Green Left Weekly

by Barry Healy
Green Left Weekly
23 May 2008

According to the World Health Organisation, 50% of the drugs sold online are fakes.

Moreover, the WHO reported in November 2006 that 10% of medicines in Russia were phoney, 25% in India, 35% in Lebanon, 40% in Peru, 48% in Nigeria and 70% in Angola.

WHO estimates that of the approximately one million people who die of malaria every year, 200,000 could be saved if authentic drugs were distributed.

Dodgy medicines are just one part of a massive global trade in counterfeit goods that has developed as capitalists in marginalised countries scramble to catch up with their First World counterparts.

In a February 1 announcement that Australia will join negotiations for a new international Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, trade minister Simon Crean noted a recent OECD report that international trade in counterfeit and pirated goods is worth approximately US$200 billion annually.

Discounted death

Whether it be fake condoms, adulterated alcohol, car or aircraft spare parts or copies of drugs, the rise of “counterfeit” capitalism poses a grave danger to ordinary people. It marks a return to the wild days of capitalist fakery that Marx observed in England in the 1860s.

Nineteen people died in Turkey in March 2005 after drinking impure raki (an alcoholic beverage). In Russia, 53,000 people have died from poisonous liquor. According to the OECD, the proportion of phoney spare parts in world trade rose from 5% in 2000 to 10% in 2005.

The range of counterfeits is expanding, including: toys, textiles, software, books, musical and film piracy, bank notes, food products (mineral water, apple juice, tea, alcohol), toothpaste, various perfumes and cosmetics, electrical goods and their spare parts and cigarettes.

Examples of counterfeit “intellectual property” include fake Chinese-made Yamaha motor scooters, complete with the Yamaha logo and a fake “BP” service station that the World Customs Organisation discovered in the Caucasus selling contraband fuel.

The huge trade calls into question the entire structure of ownership and control maintained by capitalist states. It is also likely that a certain amount of fakery is tolerated in order to keep the cost of living bearable.

Fake medicines carry multiple dangers. They may contain harmful or even fatal ingredients, or not an effective amount of the correct ingredient.

Interpol believes that the trade in counterfeits has grown eight times faster than world trade since the early ’90s. The US reported an 83% increase in seizures in fiscal year 2006 — a record for US customs. The European Commission reported a 330% increase in seizures in the EU between 2005 and ’06. As only between 3-5% of goods entering the EU are subject to control, clearly fakes are flooding in.

Patents and black markets

Giant pharmaceutical companies justify the high prices of their brand name products by citing development costs. The gigantic profit premiums secured through their patent rights are referred to as “technological rent”. That is, price gouging made possible by restricting access to the technology.

However, in the internet age, characterised by globalisation and complex logistical networks it is easy to get around these patent barriers. If drugs are not paid for through a form of social security coverage then patent barriers artificially create a demand and then a black market to serve it.

For example, Acomplia (rimonabant) — an anti-obesity drug produced by Sanofi Aventis — cost 800 million euros and took 10 years of research. It was copied before it was put on the market! Fake Viagra can be sold at prices 70% below that of the real thing.

A kilo of heroin produces a 200% profit in Europe, but a kilo of Viagra’s active ingredient from India creates a profit of more than 2000%, according to a former Scotland Yard detective quoted by the May 26, 2007 Le Monde.

According to the European Commission, there is less than 2000 euros profit in 1 kilogram of cannabis sold in Europe, while 1 kilo of pirated CDs produces 3000 euros profit.

Five cases of fake medicines bought in pharmacies have been identified in Britain between 2005 and 2007. In France, one case occurred in 2004 involving false contact lenses, similar to the original but not sterilised. The proposed EU liberalisation of pharmacies will further weaken protection against these scams.

The criminal gangs involved can easily sell small amounts safely on the internet, which is legal in the US and Canada. The approximately 40 million US citizens not covered by health insurance are ready targets.

Legal and illegal capitalists

But the counterfeiters can only move big-profit, wholesale amounts of product by breaking into legal distribution channels through deception. To confuse detection counterfeit goods usually pass through several countries before arriving at their final destination.

Often fake “spare parts” are transported, partially assembled in one country and then completed in another. Major ports and international airports then handle them as legitimate cargo. Fakes are sometimes mixed with authentic products in the same consignment.

Logically, trade on this scale could not occur without the collaboration of transport companies and other “legitimate” capitalists turning a blind eye, at least. The line between legitimate and illegitimate capital is very blurred.

Asia is the main production source of counterfeits. On May 23, 2007, Le Figaro reported that 86% of 2006 EU seizures of counterfeits originated in China. Counterfeiting employs 3-5 million Chinese workers and accounts for 8% of GDP. Russia, South American, African and some European countries are also producers.

In Buenos Aires, the huge Salada market, covering 20 hectares with 15,000 stands, sells 100 million garments per year — 50% are said to be fake, according to an EU report.

Given the scale of counterfeiting, the legal response from major states has been quite meagre. This raises the question of whether a certain amount of counterfeiting is tolerable to keep a lid on monopoly price power wielded by the big business patent holders.

Mercenary police forces

Unhappy with state responses, the major corporations are banding together to develop their own private intelligence forces to trace and stifle counterfeiters. Major players are the Business Software Alliance (BSA); the Union of Manufacturers; the Motion Picture Association of America; and the International Federation of Phonographic Industries. The BSA pays for investigators and participates in raids along with police against illicit software manufacturers.

They have head-hunted police operatives from various countries to conduct field investigations and provide evidence to authorities. These mercenary police forces work closely with state authorities, providing logistical support such as vehicles and analytical laboratories where countries have limited financial resources. The BSA also recruits expert witness for court cases or parliamentary commissions involved in drafting international treaties.

Fakery has always been a feature of capitalism. In Capital, Karl Marx wrote about the 1860 British law preventing the adulteration of food and drink. It was “an inoperative law, as it naturally shows the tenderest consideration for every Free-trader who determines by the buying or selling of adulterated commodities ‘to turn an honest penny’. The
[parliamentary] Committee itself formulated more or less naively its conviction that Free-trade meant essentially trade with adulterated, or as the English ingeniously put it, ‘sophisticated’ goods.”

The new rise in piracy reflects the earlier era of capitalist accumulation when English sea captains like Drake, Grenville, Raleigh and Morgan brought home Spanish gold for Queen Elizabeth I. They are heroes in establishment history books, however they were never anything more than thieves. But the bulging Spanish galleons they plundered were also owned by thieves.

The situation is similar today where mafia smugglers and brutal sweatshop operators producing modern day “sophisticated” goods are carving from the flesh of workers their own primitive accumulation of capital in competition with bloated multinational corporations.

If patents simply did not exist, then goods could be produced as cheaply as possibly and distributed to those needing them. In such a world, profit would be impossible. However, it would mean that the world’s productive capacity, currently distorted and degraded by patent laws and customs barriers, would be freed to serve the needs of all humanity.


4 clever ideas that will change society for the better

Memorial Day by Cindy Sheehan

The Real Cindy Sheehan

by Cindy Sheehan
Dandelion Salad
featured writer
Cindy Sheehan for Congress

May 24, 2008

Memorial Day is a double-whammy for me.

You see, my son Casey was born on Memorial Day 29 years ago.

When he was growing up, we would gather dozens of our friends and relatives to celebrate his birthday.

Now a few of us gather at his grave in Vacaville, California, to mourn his death and cry for his life that was stolen from him by George W. Bush.

Casey is not buried in a military cemetery, but there are many veterans of other wars buried in his cemetery.

The flags flutter on Memorial Day as living vets from many past wars salute the flags and their fallen comrades.

Seeing all the flags and the battered vets paying homage makes my stomach turn and my heart break for all the broken families that have had to pay needlessly high prices for this war, and other imperial wars, like Vietnam.

In Vacaville, there are many mothers whose sons were killed in Vietnam. I remember seeing them the first Memorial Day after Casey was killed. I sat with them at a ceremony and saw my future in their faces lined from years of grief and longing for the voice or the touch of a son that will never come.

On this Memorial Day, I would like you to take a few moments from your day off and stare into the faces of grief.

Go to a nearby military cemetery and look at the American flags stuck on each grave and think of the person buried there who was killed for the greed of empire or for the blunders, greed and hubris of a nation.

And remember, for every person buried there, at least ten more loved that person and were shattered by the loss. Instead of saluting, softly say: “I’m sorry.”

On this Memorial Day, remember, too, to look at the pictures of Iraqi children being lifted out of rubble after their homes have been bombed by U.S. jets.

Please say, “I’m sorry,” for them, also.

And let us not be fooled.

With a presidential election season upon us, we need to recognize the militarism of each candidate and realize that their positions on war and empire are not so different from each other.

We need to rededicate our lives to opposing empire, war and unbridled presidential power so that Memorial Day is not grief-soaked for thousands more families to come.

I know I will never experience Memorial Day as a holiday again.

For me, this is not a day to kick off the beginning of the summer season, or to have a leisurely cookout or to watch the Indy 500. And it’s no longer a day to have a birthday party for Casey.

For me and for thousands of families devastated by Bush’s wars, this is a day to solemnly reflect upon our personal loss — and on how our nation has lost its way.

Instead of resorting to violence and war, we need to honor life and to solve global problems peacefully.

We need to make Memorial Day a relic of the past.

Then I will celebrate.


The Uphill Battle by Cindy Sheehan

Gore Vidal on McCain, Obama, Clinton (videos)

Dandelion Salad


May 23, 2008
Gore Vidal speaks candidly about the 2008 candidates, raw interview footage from UK Channel 4.


h/t: After Downing Street


Frost over the World: Gore Vidal

Gore Vidal on Bush, History & the “United States of Amnesia”

Rice’s Lies About Torture by Dave Lindorff

Dandelion Salad

by Dave Lindorff
The Smirking Chimp
May 23, 2008

Is anyone surprised that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says that the Bush/Cheney administration’s authorization of torture of captives has been consistently legal and in compliance with all treaties the US has signed, including the Geneva Conventions?

After all, she was at the meetings in the White House in 2001 at which various acts of torture, ranging from waterboarding to exposure to extreme heat and cold, to enforced long periods in stress positions, and to treatments which have not been disclosed (no doubt because they are so outrageous and offensive to common decency)were imagined, proposed and approved for use–meetings that were manifestly criminal in nature and in violation of international and US law.

The US was “a different place” in the wake of the 9-11 attacks, Rice told a group of people at a town hall meeting in Mountain View, Calif. on Thursday. But even though the administration’s “top priority” at the time was allegedly “preventing new attacks and not necessarily observing fine legal points,” the woman who at that time was Bush’s National Security Advisor, says “President Bush made clear that we were going to live up to our obligations at home and to our treaty obligations abroad.”

Well of course she’d say that. But in fact, let’s look at those “fine legal points.” The Third Geneva Convention Relating to the Treatment of Prisoners of War defines prohibited torture as follows:

“No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to any unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind.”

It’s kind of hard to see how that rather thorough definition of torture–which as a treaty signatory is the definition by which the US is supposed to live–can accommodate the waterboarding, sexual humiliation, months in solitary confinement, faked executions, days in stress positions, etc. which were approved by Rice and her fellow inquisitors and the nation’s commander in chief.

But no matter. Rice says that even if things were kind of harsh back in 201 and 2002, today “the ground is different.” She says soothingly, “We now have in place a law that was not there in 2002 and 2003.”

Well, actually no. Because when that new law was put in place by Congress, the president issued a signing statement saying that he would not be bound by it. Asserting a claim of “unitary executive,” created out of thin air by Deputy Assistant Attorney General John You and Assistant Attorney General (and now federal appeals court judge) Jay Bybee, Bush has claimed that for the duration of the so-called “War on Terror” he has all the powers of the executive, legislative and judicial branches rolled into his own hands, and as such is not bound by acts of Congress, or by orders of the court. (Yoo and Bybee are also the mob attorneys who advised Bush that any interrogation methods that fell short of causing death or “pain equivalent to death or organ failure” would not be torture.)

The truth is that the Bush/Cheney administration, with the clear knowledge and authority of the president and vice president and of Rice herself, went on to torture captives in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Guantanamo Bay, and in countless “black sites” around the globe, well into 2006 at least, and continues to torture captives now. Those tortured have even included children.

Condi Rice seems to be hoping to return to Stanford University after she leaves office at the end of this benighted and criminal administration this coming January. If she does, she will, I am sure, have to at some point confront my colleague Barbara Olshansky, who has just spent her first year there at the Stanford Law School as a professor of international human rights. Barbara, who co-authored “The Case for Impeachment” with me (St. Martin’s Press, 2006), was for several years the lead attorney for several hundred of the detainees at Guantanamo, and has also looked into the conditions under which US prisoners are being held at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan–another torture center that got its start down that road with the capture and torture of John Lindh back in October, 2001–the first documented case of such abuse.

One would hope that the students of Stanford would raise such a stink about having a war criminal like Rice running their school that they would either prevent her from getting the job, or drive her from the campus.

Meanwhile, we might also ask the three candidates running for the presidency (four counting Ron Paul), why not one of them has called for Rice’s resignation and indictment.
DAVE LINDORFF is a Philadelphia-based journalist. His latest book is “The Case for Impeachment” (St. Martin’s Press, 2006 and now in paperback), and he is working on a book making the case for Bush’s indictment on war crimes charges after he leaves office. His work is available at

Dave Lindorff is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of columns titled “This Can’t be Happening!” is published by Common Courage Press. Lindorff’s new book is “The Case for Impeachment,” co-authored by Barbara Olshansky.

He can be reached at:

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Nader Calls for Bush-Cheney Resignation + videos

For His Treatment of Children in the ‘War on Terror,’ Bush Is a War Criminal

Snakes and Superdelegates By Lori Price

Convenient Crises by Jennifer

Jennifer Wants Justice and Peace

by Jennifer
featured writer
Dandelion Salad

Jennifer’s blog post
Justice and Peace
May 24, 2008

Think of it as the true test of the Western humanitarian impulse: The international effort that went into coordinating relief after the 2004 tsunami has to be repeated, but in much harsher, trickier, uglier political circumstances. Yes, we should help the Burmese, even against the will of their irrational leaders. Yes, we should think hard about the right way to do it. And, yes, there isn’t much time to ruminate about any of this.

~ Anne Applebaum

The situation facing the Burmese and the Chinese in the face of natural disaster is in dire need of attention. Some reports and media outlets are offering figures as high as 125,000 dead and 2.4 million at risk due to starvation and disease. The numbers in Burma alone are staggering. In fact, the amount of suffering civilians has led lawmakers including President George Bush to respond swiftly.

In response to these combined natural disasters, the United States has come forward with close to 20 million dollars in aid and the international community has “responded by offering over 100 million

It seems as if the United States and indeed the world at large has taken the advice of Applebaum. Swift action in the face of “irrational leaders” will save lives and reduce the suffering of victims.

Sadly, Western media outlets fail to compare this humanitarian crisis to the US created crisis taking place daily in the Middle East, namely in Iraq, where over 4 million have been displaced and are living in squalid conditions. This humanitarian crisis has been named the largest humanitarian and displacement crisis in the world, and goes on largely unnoticed.

In a recently released report published by Refugees International, (Uprooted and Unstable, 2008) “the needs of the displaced are not adequately addressed by the Government of Iraq or the international community.”

Indeed, when compared to the billions of dollars (most recently 165 billion) President George Bush requests from US taxpayers to pay for the continued military presence in Iraq annually, a mere 35 million in humanitarian aid was requested for the fiscal year 2008. The report goes on to note, “This vacuum is quickly being filled by militias and other armed groups, who engage in hearts and minds campaigns and provide assistance as a means of building support for their political and military goals.”

The Iraqi government fragmented and corrupt has done little to assist their own people in providing basic services and aid, according to Refugees International, “It is unable and unwilling to use its important resources to respond appropriately to the humanitarian crisis.” However, in sharp contrast, as reported by Democracy Now! the Iraqi government “has now become one of the largest purchasers of US arms” worldwide.

Yet, in spite of the dire humanitarian situation in Iraq, the continued hypocrisies and politicization of convenient crisis’s, and the obvious blunder of pushing Iraqi civilians towards militias and radical groups, Western media and politicians will continue to distract voters from the real issues underlying continued destabilization of Iraq…the deliberate denial of Iraq’s humanitarian crisis.

One can easily take the words of Applebaum and make them apply to Iraq, “Yes, we should help the Iraqis, even against the will of irrational leaders like George Bush. Yes, we should think hard about the right way to do it. And, yes, there isn’t much time to ruminate about any of this.

You can do something…here.

Nader Calls for Bush-Cheney Resignation

Dandelion Salad

Originally posted May 22, 2008

Updated: May 24, 2008 added video. Added the full coverage video. ~ Lo

Ralph Nader for President 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008

Contact Chris Driscoll, 202-360-3273, Continue reading

US to import Great Wall of China to use on Mexican border (satire)


by R J Shulman
Dandelion Salad
featured writer

Robert’s blog post
May 24, 2008

WASHINGTON – As further evidence that American manufacturing and construction jobs are headed overseas, the Bush administration announced today that the wall between the United States and Mexico will be imported from China. “Having Mexicans build a wall to keep themselves out made no sense,” said Will Graybar, an Administration spokesman, “so we jumped at the offer of the Chinese who’ve integrated all peoples into their society and have no need for a wall to separate folks like we do here in the US.”

The placement of the 1,969 mile section of the Great Wall between Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California and Mexico should be completed by August 2010. “The Chinese are sensitive to our budgetary problems,” said Gord Wilkins of the General Accounting Office, “so they are supplying cheap Chinese prison labor and will freshen up the wall with a new coat of lead paint.”

“Even the enviro-fascist tree hugging killers should love this wall,” said President Bush, “as we are using recycled materials.” “It’s too bad we didn’t act in time to grab the iron curtain before that fell,” said Vice President Dick Cheney, “as we could really use it now to separate dastardly domestic terrorists and homegrown enemy combatants from the rest of us hard working white Americans.”

Inside Iraq: Shia political power (Tony Benn)

Dandelion Salad


With its Sunni-dominated political elite, Iraq was regarded as the regional counterweight to Iran’s Shia influence. But the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s regime and the renewed political influence of Iraq’s Shia community has changed that regional balance of power. Inside Iraq examines this fragile balance of power.


Meet Tony Benn (video)

Frost over the World: Gore Vidal

Dandelion Salad


Author Gore Vidal tells Sir David Frost why he believes Hillary Clinton has lost the battle to become the Democratic presidential candidate and why, if Barack Obama were elected president, it would be a sign of progress for the US. Also, Jihad Makdissi, a Syrian embassy spokesman in London, discusses the peace talks between Israel and Syria.

Continue reading

4 clever ideas that will change society for the better


by Rich
Featured writer
Dandelion Salad
Rich’s blog post
Thumb Jig
May 24, 2008

Open Source Movement: Typically referring to software, the online open source movement has brought us such gargantuan successes as Linux, Firefox, Gimp, Audacity and much more. In fact, open source software has achieved such a level of popularity that most programs offered by for-profit companies can be substituted with free (often improved) open source versions of the same applications. As impressive as open source software is on its own, it has been suggested that the concept can be extended to other features of society. Government policy can be shaped directly, allowing citizens to introduce and vote on legislation, teachers can share on an international level what has been effective in their profession and fashion curriculum accordingly, journalists and ordinary citizens can share information both nationally and locally while keeping each other honest, and copyrights and patents could be freed letting people improve and manufacture products of every sort in their own communities. This open source mentality has kept the scientific community active and would promote a thriving, nimble culture.

List of Open Source Software
The Open Source Movement
The Free Software Story

Microfinancing: The problem with the old way of supporting the third world is that money was used to buy supplies for the poor without promoting survival skills. Microfinancing relies on the “teach a man to fish” principle where donors give money, usually as little as $25, to entrepreneurs in developing countries through a proxy such as Kiva. People from these countries raise grants through this program, start local businesses such as grocery stores, repair shops and construction companies, and are then given an opportunity to generate enough money to pay back their loans. As proof of the effectiveness of this credit system the rate of repayment had just dropped from 100% to 99% only because of internal political conflicts preventing some business owners from paying back their loans. Anyone who says “if it’s too good to be true then it probably is” hasn’t heard of Microfinancing.

Here On Earth: Gumball Capital

Biomimicry: When it comes down to it Biomimicry steals from Mother Nature’s design and imitates her for a more sustainable society. For example, in nature structures like coral reefs commonly assemble themselves. If we could find a way to duplicate this design technique we could take the components of a solar panel and coat our rooftops with it, allowing these pieces to self-assemble. Janine Benyus is one of the most visible and articulate spokespeople of the movement. According to her, nature accomplishes everything with only a small portion of the periodic table while human beings utilize the entire chart, including toxic chemicals. The trick is to see how we can narrow the kinds of chemicals we use to just those friendly to life. Boat manufacturers can replicate the design of a shark’s skin to clean the bottom of boats and give them better maneuverability and auto manufacturers can use a locust’s internal sensor to prevent collisions. The earth has had hundreds of millions of years to find solutions to some of the most daunting challenges of our age while humanity is only a flash in the pan. Biomimicry is just another humble reminder that nature is the ultimate engineer.


Janine Benyus: 12 sustainable design ideas from nature (video)
Biomimcry: Nature as Model, Measure and Mentor
Biomimicry Institute

Sustainable Communities: The power of a small cluster of people determined to change the world should never be undervalued, and sustainable communities are the expression of just that — people who want to reduce their harmful impact on their environment, devising ways to live happily with each other and the earth. Sustainable communities often maintain large gardens which provide for all of its residents so importing fruits and vegetables from large agribusinesses is needless. The commercial district only includes small, locally owned businesses and many people are encouraged to telecommute or work at home. Buildings are powered by solar energy, driving is discouraged, and sewage and rain water are recycled into fertilizer and irrigation respectively. Residents practice cohousing where each member of the community owns a house but also share a “common house” with their neighbors. Here tools and supplies are stored, meals can be cooked and social interaction occurs. These villages already exist (over 400 worldwide) in areas as diverse as Georgia, California and New Zealand. Some of them, like the one in New Zealand, have their own currency. Clean, friendly and environmentally responsible, hopefully it won’t be long before this idea catches fire.

How Stuff Works: “How Sustainable Communities Work”
Earthsong Eco-Neighborhood


Really Really Free Market – Pasadena, CA (video)

So what is The Freeconomy Community about?