Mountain Views News Saturday, December 11, 2010
11 OPINION Mountain Views-News Saturday, December 11, 2010 STUART Tolchin..........On LIFE HAIL Hamilton My Turn Mountain Views News Publisher/ Editor Susan Henderson City Editor Dean Lee Sales Patricia Colonello 626-355-2737 626-818-2698 Art Director Allison Kirkham Production Assistant Richard Garcia Photography Jacqueline Truong Lina Johnson Contributors Teresa Baxter Pat Birdsall Bob Eklund Howard Hays Paul Carpenter Stuart Tolchin Kim Clymer-Kelley Christopher Nyerges Peter Dills Hail Hamilton Rich Johnson Chris Bertrand Mary Carney La Quetta Shamblee Glenn Lambdin Greg Wellborn Ralph McKnight Trish Collins Pat Ostrye Editorial Cartoonist Ann Cleaves Webmaster John Aveny A DYSFUNCTIONAL SOCIETY More Revelations from WikiLeaks Julian Paul Assange founded the controversial WikiLeaks website in 2006, and has been involved in the publication of documents about extrajudicial killings in Kenya, a report of toxic waste dumping on Africa's Ivory Coast, Church of Scientology manuals, Guantanamo Bay procedures, and material involving the shenanigans of large European banks such as Kaupthing and Julius Baer. He recently received widespread public attention for his November 28 publication of classified United States diplomatic cables documenting details about the U.S. involvement in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Recent WikiLeaks revelations: o We've been secretly bombing Yemen. The U.S. has been bombing suspected terrorists in Yemen, but Yemen's government is taking responsibility. Last December, three separate strikes were played out, but weren't very successful-out of 55 people killed in one instance, 21 were children. o U.S. uses diplomats as spies. Speaking of Secretary Clinton... she ordered diplomats to spy on government officials at the UN, gathering such info as credit card and frequent flyer numbers, computer passwords...and DNA. A reporter at the press conference asked if she was embarrassed by any of the information leaked in the cables and her answer was a stern no, but I'm betting she'll have an awkward time at the next diplomatic dinner with Ban Ki-Moon. o U.S. uses Guantanamo Bay prisoners as bargaining chips. And human dignity takes another nice punch to the gut. In efforts to resettle Guantanamo detainees, the U.S. has been using them as trump cards when dealing with other countries, even going so far to offer cash to unload prisoners. In perhaps the most disgraceful instance, Slovenia had to take a detainee if it wanted a meeting with President Obama. o China's been hacking our systems since 2002. One Wikileak cable states that the Chinese Politburo hacked into Google last year -- no huge surprise there, other than the fact that they cracked the company's sophisticated system of firewalls. But apparently China's an old pro at this -- it has allegedly been hacking into the systems of Western governments -- and, of course, its own national human rights activists, including the Dalai Lama -- for nearly a decade. o Afghanistan is corruption paradise. OK, no big surprise there, but it is interesting that in 2007 Afghani Vice President Ahmad Zia Massoud was caught traveling through Dubai with $52 million in cash. After being questioned by authorities, he was "allowed to keep [the money] without revealing the money's origin or destination." Meanwhile, President Karzai's brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, was accused of orchestrating widespread voter fraud in the 2009 election and of being a drug kingpin, claims he fiercely denies. oIran might have long-range missiles. Practically the entire Middle East has urged the U.S. to act against Iran, according to the Wikileaks cables, including the kings of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Perhaps they'll reconsider if they know North Korea is said to have sold them 12 missiles with enough range to hit Russia and cities in Western Europe. As for other weapons, Iran appears to be acquiring them piecemeal from different countries -- including Turkey, China and Germany -- under the guise of front companies, and is using the Red Crescent as a front to smuggle weaponry to various terrorist organizations worldwide. o Putin and Berlusconi's close relationship causes alarm. "Alpha dog" Vladimir Putin and Italian partier/prime-minister Silvio Berlusconi have forged a close relationship, potentially involving shady business deals. Cables detail allegations of "lavish gifts," lucrative energy contracts and the use by Berlusconi of a "shadowy" Russian- speaking Italian go-between. In an obvious attempt to silence WikiLeaks, the United States recently launched a criminal investigation of Assange for the publication of classified information under the Espionage Act. Swiss authorities have also weighed in against WikiLeaks. Last week they closed a Swiss bank account tied to Assange, freezing tens of thousands of dollars used to fund the Wikileaks operation. Assange, meanwhile, is fighting extradition to Sweden to face rape charges. Apparently having consensual sex in Sweden without a condom is considered rape and is punishable by a minimum sentence of two years imprisonment. Did you see the Sunrise on Monday morning? It was glorious! As I walked around the canyon I felt myself so privileged to be free enough to experience this beauty. My only question was, and is, why are so few people out here viewing this incredible wonder? It is true that a surprising number of people awaken early to run or go to the gym or to do something else that is considered productive. This need to be productive, it seems to me, frequently overshadows the ability to appreciate the world around us .Almost the hardest part of my work is fighting the rush hour traffic. Why do I do it? Because it feels like I have to. That’s just the way the world is. Really though that’s not the way the world is; it’s just what most of us have been deluded into believing. From the time we were very young we have been conditioned to do what society and our parents tell us we have to do. We have learned to suppress our own inclinations to become responsible citizens and have become soldiers in the service our country. We work hard to pay our bills, raise our families, and often have little time to notice very much about our own lives. Probably certain kinds of people escape this kind of cultural enslavement. I heard this morning on NPR (as I fought the traffic on the way to work) that the artist David Hockney uses his I-pad every morning to draw the sunrise. Unfortunately, the rest of us are simply not that free. In the modern world most of us do the bidding of the rulers of our respective nation-states. We struggle to get into schools that are designed to make us good citizens. By good citizens I mean becoming individuals who almost unknowingly sacrifice our individual selves to do what we are told to do. Most of us learn to be malleable, to be conformists, to sit idly by and allow ourselves to be manipulated by the very small groups that determine the policy of a country. We pay our taxes, we fight their wars and send our children to fight and die. Here in the United States is all sorts of lip service is given to our precious democracy and our sacred first amendment freedoms of speech and religion and of the press. Well folks, it has become increasingly clear that the only real freedom that exists today is the freedom of the extremely wealthy to utilize that wealth for whatever purpose they choose. To my mind the decision of President Obama to yield to the wishes of the Rich and to preserve the tax cuts for the millionaires and billionaires is a complete betrayal of the electorate that voted for him. The President portrays himself as powerless. If he did not yield we are told it would have been impossible to extend unemployment benefits and millions of poor and middle class people would be harmed. Look, there are millions more of us than there are of them. If the rich are indifferent to the needs of the rest of us we have the numbers and the power to strike back. We can take to the streets and withdraw our moneys from their banks and utilize community banks. We can boycott the huge corporate retail outlets and utilize independent stores. We can demonstrate in front of their businesses and homes and yachts. We can even start campaigns to let their children know about the evil-doings of their parents. Yes we can take to the streets and demonstrate—it’s been done before and victories have been won. But it’s true we probably won’t do much of anything— we’ll just go wherever we are directed. We are too benumbed to even look at sunsets or notice that both of the parties in the United States are simply instruments of the rich which contribute to both sides. Is it too late for us to notice what is happening? The United States is being held hostage by the rich who will do nothing unless they can make a profit from it and we are just pawns in their game. It’s odd, isn’t it, that the unenlightened Tea Party folk seem more able to express this resentment than the rest of us? Sure their goals seem wrong and generally they don’t know what they are talking about, but their resentment is real. I think the Tea Party’s energy is more threatening to the entrenched powers than are the impotent Democrats on the other side of the aisle. We need not be ruled by Ivy League elitists to look at sunrises. We all need to work together to recognize that the survival of the planet and the survival of a real democracy is more important than whatever else it is that we all think we are doing. Mountain Views News has been adjudicated as a newspaper of General Circulation for the County of Los Angeles in Court Case number GS004724: for the City of Sierra Madre; in Court Case GS005940 and for the City of Monrovia in Court Case No. GS006989 and is published every Saturday at 55 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., No. 302, Sierra Madre, California, 91024. All contents are copyrighted and may not be reproduced without the express written consent of the publisher. All rights reserved. All submissions to this newspaper become the property of the Mountain Views News and may be published in part or whole. Opinions and views expressed by the writers printed in this paper do not necessarily express the views and opinions of the publisher or staff of the Mountain Views News. Mountain Views News is wholly owned by Grace Lorraine Publications, Inc. and reserves the right to refuse publication of advertisements and other materials submitted for publication. Letters to the editor and correspondence should be sent to: Mountain Views News 80 W. Sierra Madre Bl. #327 Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024 Phone: 626-355-2737 Fax: 626-609-3285 email: firstname.lastname@example.org RICH Johnson Important Stuff Recently I was accused of not writing about important stuff. Actually I took that as a compliment. Everyone else writes about important stuff so I think there is a niche for less than important stuff. There, have I said important stuff enough? Actually I will regale you with great truths learned at various stages in life. Important? You decide. Great truths little children have learned: When your mom is mad, don’t let her brush your hair. You can’t trust your dog to watch your food. Never hold a dust-buster and a cat at the same time. You can’t hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk. Great truths adults have learned: Raising teens is like nailing jelly to a tree. Wrinkles don’t hurt Families are like fudge…mostly sweet, but a few nuts. Laughing is good exercise. It’s like jogging on the inside. You learn to choose your cereal for the fiber and not the toy. Great truths senior citizens have learned: Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional. You now know all the answers but nobody asks you the questions. Time is a great healer, but a lousy beautician. Sierra Madre Intelligence Test What major world war followed World War I? What month has 28 days in it? What animal was Chief Sitting Bull named after? In the 1830s, the Reverend Sylvester Graham invented what kind of cracker? Who was the host of the “Ed Sullivan Show?” What major border lies between the United States and Canada? The last names of the two inventors of M&M’s began with what letters? What color is the White House? What president was the city Washington D.C. named after? Grandpa's Christmas Fruitcake Recipe (This recipe is to be recited out loud at dinner parties. Read it exactly as it is written) You'll need the following: a cup of water, a cup of sugar, four large brown eggs, two cups of dried fruit, a teaspoon of salt, a cup of brown sugar, lemon juice, nuts, and a bottle of whiskey. Sample the whiskey to check for quality. Take a large bowl. Check the whiskey again. To be sure it's the highest quality, pour one level cup and drink. Repeat. Turn on the electric mixer, beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl. Add one teaspoon of sugar and beat again. Make sure the whiskey is still okay. Cry another tup. Turn off the mixer. Beat two leggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit. Mix on the tuner. If the fired druit gets stuck in the beaterers, pry it loose with a drewscriver. Sample the whiskey to check for tonsisticity. Next, sift two cups of salt. Or something. Who cares? Check the whiskey. Now sift the lemon juice and strain your nuts. Add one table. Spoon. Of sugar or something. Whatever you can find. Grease the oven. Turn the cake tin to 350 degrees. Don't forget to beat off the turner. Throw the bowl out the window. Check the whiskey again and go to bed. Mountain Views News Mission Statement The traditions of the community newspaper and the concerns of our readers are this newspaper’s top priorities. We support a prosperous community of well- informed citizens. We hold in high regard the values of the exceptional quality of life in our community, including the magnificence of our natural resources. Integrity will be our guide.