Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Instructions for Submitting WikiLeaks Video Clip

Hello World-Wide Wiki Citizens!

The following is a brief description of this project with instructions on how to participate and submit your video clips. Julian Assange’s extradition hearing date is set to occur on either Feb 7th or 8th, 2011. Our goal is to release this video is the day of his hearing. With your help it will be a very powerful message that will be heard by many people around the world. Due to our very tight deadline we ask that you submit video clips back to us by February 1st.

Project Overview
This is a simple and direct open letter to the US government about Wikileaks and Julian Assange spoken on video by people from around the world. We presently have approximately 25 countries and 60-70 people on board. The video will include your voices as part of a collective message as well as other relevant imagery and quotes that provide a full picture to help us meet our objective. The goal is for this video to be powerful, intelligent, moving and straightforward.

The objective of this project is two-fold. First, it is to interrupt the US government’s attempts to villainize and prosecute Julian Assange and bring down Wikileaks. Second, it is to assist in shifting public opinion in the US by strategically highlighting the potential loss of key freedoms including free speech and a free press and the implications this could have on open societies everywhere. The end of our video will direct viewers to sign on to this letter. The goal is to collect as many signatures as possible.

Video Clip Participation Instructions
1. Each participant is asked to read three paragraphs of this letter that we have selected for you. So, if your last name begins with:

A-H: Read paragraphs 1-3
I-P: Read paragraphs 3-5
Q-Z: Read paragraphs 5-7

First state your name and the country in which you reside, then “speak” your portion of the letter.

Tips for being on video:

  • Make sure you are looking directly at the camera. You can put the words behind the camera to make this easier.
  • Try to speak (not read) the letter. You can break it down into sentence by sentence. Remember, we can edit, so pauses are fine! Take your time!

  • Put your heart into this! This is OUR message about OUR rights and freedoms.

  • Just be you. You are great just the way you areJ. You are so brave!!!!

2. You are also welcome to submit a brief general message to our potential audiences (US government, US media, US public, global public). Or, you may wish to cite a specific fact that you think is relevant to this open letter and our overall objective. For example, you may wish to offer facts about the Iraq or Afghanistan war, powerful quotes about freedom, democracy, truth, or government, a personal statement about protecting our rights, about misuse of information to set policy agendas, or about our need as citizens to have access to accurate information. If you or someone you know has been personally affected by these two wars, you may wish to say something brief about this. As long as your message is respectful, factual, relevant, and brief, it may be included in this video project.

The goal here is to function as a powerful reminder of the critical need for governments to do the RIGHT thing. While we realize we will all have our own thoughts, feelings and ideas on this complex situation, we have come together over a common understanding: citizens need access to accurate, truthful information.

Submission Instructions
Video Clip Format: Quicktime.mov
Deadline for Submission: Feb 1, 2011 (sooner if possible)

1. Name your video file first name, last name, country (ie, Tangerine Bolen USA)

2. Go to www.dropbox.com and download the free drop box software for uploading your video clips. Dropbox.com will send you an email with instructions guiding you on how to share a folder with others.

3. Follow the instructions for uploading your video clips and then for sharing your new folder. Upon doing so, please add Cliff Sargent and Tangerine Bolen to the shared folder using the email addresses below:
Cliff: refractingfolds@gmail.com       Tangerine:        tangerinebolen@gmail.com

Note: Upon uploading your video clips into Dropbox, you are agreeing to release your clips into the public domain.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me (Tangerine) at my email address.

I can’t thank you all enough for your support, your participation, and your willingness to come together to do this. We all know how critical it is we get this message across. So…let’s do it! Let’s change our world!



Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Defend Your Democratic Rights - Join our Open Letter-Video to US Gov

Open Letter to the United States Government Regarding WikiLeaks, Julian Assange and the Fundamental Tenets of Democracy and Open Societies

To President Obama, US Senators and Congressmen and women, Attorney General Eric Holder, the Department of Justice, and all of those involved in the attempt to prosecute Julian Assange, founder of the nonprofit news organization WikiLeaks.org:

“We are a diverse group of people from around the world who have come together for a common purpose: to defend WikiLeaks, to ask the United States to cease its attempts to manufacture a case against Julian Assange, and to defend democratic principles and our fundamental rights guaranteed therein. We are professionals, homemakers, activists, students, and others who believe that government derives its power from the consent of the governed, as stipulated in the Declaration of Independence, but that citizens can only give meaningful consent if they are fully informed about their government’s actions. Nothing more violates American principles, which inspire both those of us who are and are not American citizens, than the idea that "government knows best" and has the right to deceive its own people.

The Wikileaks documents have revealed that the U.S. government has been keeping enormously important information secret from the American people, such as the fact that the U.S. government knew of the mass murder of civilians in Iraq even though it claimed it did not; that the U.S. government failed its legal responsibility as an occupying power by handing civilians over to Iraqi police units knowing they would be tortured and killed, even though it claimed it did not; that U.S. officials believe the Afghan government is corrupt and unpopular, even as they falsely claim to be fighting for democracy in Afghanistan; and that U.S. officials are extremely worried about the safety of Pakistan's nuclear stockpile, a potential matter of life and death that they have kept from the people of the world.

When the N.Y. Times released the Wikileaks “Afghan Logs” on July 25, its headline read: "View Is Bleaker than Official Portrayal of War in Afghanistan." This revealed, according to America’s “newspaper of record,” that the U.S. Government was hiding the truth from its own people. Is it really right that the proud citizens of America should need Wikileaks to discover vital truths denied them by their own government?

U.S. officials claim they have a right to deceive the American people, and prosecute WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, on the grounds of “national security”. But this information is clearly known to America’s enemies. It is the American people who have been denied it, information critical to their ability to make an informed decision as to whether or not to support their government's war-making, including putting their sons and daughters at grave risk of death or crippling injuries.

The U.S. Government claim that Wikileaks has endangered national security has been invalidated by its own Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, who has stated "is this embarrassing? Yes. Is it awkward? Yes. Consequences for U.S. foreign policy? I think fairly modest." The German Interior Minister has stated that "WikiLeaks is annoying, but not a threat”, and the Guardian has reported that “Wikileaks: US allies unruffled by embassy cable leaks.”
The result of any U.S. government prosecution of Wikileaks and Julian Assange will be to restrict the truthful information American citizens receive about their government's foreign policy. But the U.S. cannot promote democracy abroad by limiting it at home.

We urge you to halt your undemocratic prosecution of Wikileaks; and to instead learn from it by providing the public with the honest and truthful information upon which democracy depends.”

Go to www.support-julian-assange.com for more information on this open letter and to join our video message to the US government.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Clarion Call on the Morning After

To all of those who wish to paint what occurred in Arizona as an isolated incident - this is our clarian call.

Responding to this issue with a clear-eyed view of how increasingly toxic, ugly and utterly broken politics and civil discourse has become in the US in the last two years is not - in and of itself - politicizing this tragedy. In fact, to reflexively turn a blind eye to the consequences of our actions, our (yes OUR) failure to do better, to stop the rising tide of hatred and the breakdown between people on different sides of the line -IS to politicize this. Moreover, the reflexive but understandable need to do this in this climate is actually a devastating abrogation of the opportunity for ALL of us to begin to healing.

There is a critical difference in the two primary ways we may respond to this. One path leads us through the wounds we've collectively incurred, through our being able to admit our own ugliness or weakness, to a place where we might begin to heal. This path feels very vulnerable in a climate of blame and lack of self-reflection or accountability on BOTH sides.

The other path leads us more deeply into denial and will leave us even more susceptible to a total breakdown in our society if we cannot stop deluding ourselves about what we've done and what we have become. Our national identity is sick and broken. To ignore this lumbering wounded elephant/donkey in the room and attempt to frame this as an "isolated" event - just the result of an isolated, sick mind - is to dig our heels deeper into the mud and this devastating divide - and perhance to unthinkable consequences.

I am not interested in laying the mantle of blame for the deaths of these innocent Americans - Americans who were practicing democracy in the highest, best sense possible (a casual meet and great with their rep, face to face - doesn't get better than that!) - on one half of this country. That one-half would include my father, my uncle, my cousins, my neighbors, and my friends.

In fact, I am not interested in deepening the disgusting stereotypes that have been worming their way into the public consciousness and poisoning our ability to think - much less communicate. Stereotypes that are easily conjured and offer some modicum of angry comfort in these dark and exhausting times - but that inevtiably lead to schoolyard taunts (saliant ones that come to mind are "libtards" or "repugnikans", oft found on Yahoo news threads) derailing decency and distorting our perceptions.

However - some people who have the megaphone and the ear of the nation ARE interested in precisely such things. In fact, they have gone to great lengths to exploit our divide, to rankle the scared and the wounded, to tap into the fears we all share, and, instead of calling upon our higher natures, they have strategically (or for their own sick greed) incited our basest instincts - instincts that are primed and rumbling just under the surface, as the world appears to fall apart around us.

Because YES - America is in crisis. We are in survival mode - a kind of collective fight or flight syndrome in the aftermath of too many traumas. Moreover, we do not have effective leaders in front of us, and if we did, then we totally failed to understand that we HAD to take the higher road, together (we, and our leaders) in order to climb out of these difficult times and co-create a more hopeful path ahead.

Critical to the functioning of our society is a civilized political process. Civil discourse - and every single one of us insisting upon it from our leaders - is the ONLY way we will ever solve complex and very scary problems. Civil discourse was used exhaustively (and yes, with plenty of rancor) by our founding fathers to ensure the creation of the most robust and successful rule of law document in human history - the US Constitution. Our founding fathers knew full well that complexity, and paradox, and deep philosophical divides HAD to be bravely tackled together - no matter how much you hated your oppenent in the moment - if we were to succeed as a fledgling nation and be able to guarantee that success, and our liberty, over time. These men understood that our higher natures HAD to take precedence. We HAD to find adequate and lasting compromise, through rigorous, frustrating, yet civil discourse.

We all know how our Congress performs in this regard now. I am ashamed for my country and my people that we have let it sink to this.

But the "WE" here is critical. Sarah Palin, and her keen ability to capitalize on our woundedness for her own gain, is a product of our times. Her exploitative nature and savvy political charm are, to some extent, to be expected. But the US media, and the US public, should know better. WE should be able to see through this fraud of a person and recognize, viscerally, the damage she and other political exploiters are causing to this nation. That so many in the country don't see this is a disturbing sign of just how deeply we have begun to delude ourselves in our surface-obsessed, "reality" TV, soundbite, spin-dominated times.

So - no - facing the fact that the way public figures have behaved in the US in the last few years can and does impact our collective psyche, or at least, our collective willingness to tackle things with integrity, is NOT politicizing. It is taking the humble, if uncertain road (one littered with landmines to be sure) toward our own healing. Toward the healing of this divide. I don't blame Republicans. That would be me defeating the purpose of everything I've just written.

But I want you to stand with me and denounce the ugliness we have all participated in. NOW. Before this reflexive defense is solidified in one half of the nation and we totally lose our opportunity to turn in a better direction. Before more of our neighbors and friends, and daughters and fathers die. We will never stop truly isolated incidents. But together, and only together, we can try to stop this tide.

Restoring our country and our political process is up to each of us. It starts with a hard look in the individual and aggregate mirror. It starts with facing each other without pointing fingers, no matter how mad we are. And it starts with dropping the insane perceptions we've formed of our fellow Americans - and - with a whole lot of humility and courage so we can find our way forward.

But that starts when we stop deluding ourselves with the idea what we don't have a great impact on one another - that what we do here doesn't really matter. Clearly, we do - and clearly - it does. And I am asking you to take this moment to extend your hearts and hands and meet me in the middle, ALL of us - politics, defensive masks and armor aside, to grieve together, over the horror that happened in Arizona yesterday. We must grieve, but we also honestly face the fact that it is no suprise that the cauldron boiled over in a sick mind, in our littered battlefield.

The future of our country and our children depends on our ability to do this.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Citizens United

Nearly a year ago last January, in an astonishing turnabout from its decades-long stance on corporations and campaign financing, the Supreme Court abolished 103 years of settled law and handed the keys of our government to multinational corporations. Although the repercussions of this decision are unthinkable, the ripple outward effect began with a bang in this past November's midterm elections.

In a 5-4 decision split along bitter, partisan lines, Justice Roberts and his colleagues let their free-market, right-wing ideology blur their thinking on the necessities of a democracy, profoundly turning their backs on our founders’ attempts to build a successful and lasting representative form of governance. The founding fathers went to great lengths to protect citizens and the government through creating a Republic designed to prevent both minority and majority tyranny. Yet Justices Roberts, Alito, Kennedy, Scalia and Thomas sounded the death knell for any semblance we have of a representative democracy, blatantly tilting the playing field in the favor of big business and minority tyranny. In response to this madness, President Obama stated:

"The Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics. It is a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans."

The Obama administration's response was the "Disclose Act", last June. But although the Act passed in the House, it stalled in the Senate this past fall, and is not likely to see the light of day any time soon.

So what did this SCOTUS decision mean for the midterm congressional elections this past November? An election spending goldrush, where Republicans outspent Democrats 5 to 1. Sweeping election victories, where 1/4 of the funding sources were not required to be disclosed.

And what does it mean for the future, as strategists get their wits about them and learn how to fully leverage these anonymous monies? It means that Sarah Palin has a real shot at the US presidency. Why? Because any politicians who dare to campaign on a platform that threatens the interests of big business -- such as banking regulations and credit card company reforms, health care reform, clean energy or environmental standards -- can look forward to an unstoppable juggernaut of ads designed to smear and defeat newcomers and incumbents alike.

Moreover, since multinational corporations do not have to be American "citizens" (just corporate persons endowed with the right to free speech), these conservative Supreme Court justices have opened the door to foreign interests having the ability to influence the outcomes of US political campaigns. In the face of the implications this activist move, it is difficult to know whether to feel dumbfounded or terrified.

Last January, SCOTUS settled on a singularly anti-democratic decision, and the entire playing field of politics has been transformed. There is no limit on the ante that can be set, for this new game. And only those with billions of dollars in resources can hope to compete at all in an attempt to level the playing field.

When the Supreme Court abolished a set of rules designed to help ensure that regular Americans have a say in who their representatives will be, it transformed the Amerian landscape. It is now most assurredly business, not citizens, who have the power to create the conversation, control the conversation, and shape its outcome. Get ready for a kind of minority, corporate tyranny that has thus far been fettered by at least some attempt at maintaining fairness and access in our democracy.

"The court’s ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions around the nation,” Justice John Paul Stevens lamented after the Citizens United decision.

November's midterm elections function as a stark reminder of the power to influence our political process for ill. Now, with enough money, you can create reality, override rationality, evoke goblins, and own our democracy.