Subject: ON BOTTOM
LINES AND FRONT LINES BEFORE CHRISTMAS 2004: FROM THE CENTER FOR THE ADVANCED
STUDY OF AMERICAN INSTITUTIONS AND SOCIAL MOVEMENTS,
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
The holiday season is upon us and death is in the air, as the "clash of civilizations" rings from the belfries of neo-conservative think tanks. We have much to regret. . . .
As a child, brought up in a Protestant culture, I remember attending church (usually very reluctantly) and growing absolutely turned off by hymns such as "Onward Christian Soldiers". I smelled something dangerous in the church when songs like this filled the air, a psychological goose step of sorts that both frightened and repulsed me. Somehow, my mother could never give me a satisfactory explanation for this occasional militancy on Sunday mornings. . . .
Our research center, CEIMSA-IN-EXILE, continues to receive much
mail on the contemporary history of
In item A. we have a commercial advertisement from Noreply Corp. which is a veritable museum piece representing Christmas season 2004 in capitalist
In item B. Pennsylvania professor Richard Du Boff has sent us barometer to measure economic success in the
Item C. is a report from the New York Times by Scott Shane. This article represents one of those radical reality checks which appears occasionally in the mainstream media. Traditionally, such reporting becomes lost almost immediately in a quagmire of fluff, and it represents no significant risk to
In item D. Professor Du Boff has again shared with us useful information on the social class conflicts that seem to follow inevitably in the wake of imperialist wars. The working class in
Finally, item E. is a report on the
The articles below, which were sent to us by our research associates, constitute a significant selection of original documents for scientific research. We invite our students and colleagues to spend time reading these documents from contemporary history, and your responses are always welcome at CEIMSA.
In addition, we highly recommend readers to visit the on-line publication of The NewStandard (TNS) at : (http://newstandardnews.net/) for a reliable alternative view of current events and excellent coverage of American political culture in the making.
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Director of Research
from firstname.lastname@example.org :
Honor Americas Troops this Holiday Season with the Patriotic Holiday Ornament!! See Here
from Richard Du Boff :
Subject: The ownership society is here!
Wall Street Journal,
copyright December 14, 2004 (A1)
Making Waves. New Luxury Goods Set Super-WealthyApart From Pack.
Rising Riches Stir Rivalry For Ever-Bigger Yachts; Waiting for a Maybach; An Echo of Louis XIV's Court
By ROBERT FRANK
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Don Weston used to feel special cruising the world in his 100-foot yacht. Yet on a recent morning at the International Boat Show here, the retired
Next door was the Corrie Lynn, a 130-foot cruiser with a king-sized Jacuzzi, five cabins, retractable plasma TV screens and twin jet skis. Down the dock was the 197-foot Alfa Four, with an indoor gym, swimming pool and helicopter pad. The talk of the show was billionaire Paul Allen's new pleasure boat, Octopus, which extends over 400 feet and has a basketball court, music studio and personal submarine. That's about to be topped by a yacht under construction in
"I used to think I had a good-sized boat," sighs Mr. Weston. "Now it's like a dinghy compared to these others. How big are they going to get?"
The yacht business reflects a new arms race breaking out among the wealthy. With the population of millionaires soaring to more than two million in the
Megayachts have grown in size from a typical length of 80 feet to 110 feet in the mid-1990s to well over 150 feet today. The market for luxury yachts has more than tripled since 1997, with some boats costing well over $100 million. Dozens of boats longer than 200 feet are now under construction.
The most expensive Mercedes used to be the CL600, which cost about $100,000 in the late 1990s. Last year, the Mercedes group, part of DaimlerChrysler, introduced the Maybach 62, which sells for more than $350,000. This year, it started selling the SLR, which is priced at over $450,000 and has a long waiting list. Not to be outdone, Volkswagen Bugatti unit is about to introduce a sports car priced at more than $1 million.
Watch makers Patek Philippe, Rolex and Breguet are selling watches priced at more than $200,000, and limited-edition watches can now run in the millions.
The inflation rate for luxury goods reached 7% last year, more than twice the overall
Vacation-home prices in
Sotheby's and Christie's both topped $90 million in sales at their postwar and contemporary art auctions this month, with only a handful of works selling for less than $1 million. Racehorses are hitting prices not seen since the mid-1980s, with one yearling recently selling at auction for more than $8 million.
The luxury boom stems from a huge increase in personal fortunes. The wealth held by millionaires world-wide rose to $28.8 trillion as of the end of 2003, according to a separate Capgemini-Merrill study, up 11% from $26 trillion in 2001. That's more than the annual gross domestic products of the
A generally rising stock market over the past decade, soaring executive compensation, higher real-estate values and lower taxes on the wealthy are all cited as explanations for the rising wealth. Also, more and more entrepreneurs who started family businesses after World War II are cashing out because of industry consolidation, creating what private bankers like to call "major liquidity events." Today's instant multimillionaires tend to be younger than the rich of the past, and more likely to splurge on lifestyle goods to differentiate themselves from hoi polloi affluent people.
Edward N. Wolff, a professor of economics at
Today, Mr. Wolff says, it's the wealthy themselves who are bidding up the price of being on top. "For the wealthy to keep their status, they have to compete in terms of luxury consumption," Mr. Wolff says. "The mere fact that this group can pay these prices becomes an indicator of social standing."
Of all the unnecessary purchases, yachts are among the hardest to justify. Owners of a yacht -- generally defined as a vessel longer than 85 feet registered for private use -- rarely use their boats more than a month or two a year. Upkeep can cost millions of dollars a year, and yachts typically fall in value after three or four years. A new paint job alone can cost more than $100,000. What's more, international maritime law generally prohibits yacht owners from carrying more than 12 guests, excluding crew members, although some big boats can get permission for 36 guests. That means a yacht can't host large parties while cruising offshore.
Yachts do give their owners one important value: exclusivity. Norberto Ferretti, chairman of the Ferretti Group, one the world's top yacht builders, says his customers like the privacy and freedom that comes with cruising on a yacht. Entertaining guests on a yacht is "much more special than just bringing them to your villa," he says. Best of all, yachts separate the seriously rich from the merely well-off.
"Rich people can go to a beautiful hotel and pay $3,000 a night for a suite," he says. "The trouble is, when you go down the elevator, you're in the lobby with people who paid twenty times less. My clients don't like that."
Yet even yachts are becoming more mass-market. With cheaper, composite-material hulls and mass-production techniques seeping into the yachting world, yacht builders can now crank out larger volumes. There are 257 orders for "starter" yachts -- between 80 feet and 100 feet -- scheduled for 2005, up from 139 in 2001, according to ShowBoats International, a magazine for yacht owners.
For yacht owners to feel special at the marina, they now have to have boats of at least 200 feet, builders say. As of July 2004 there were 35 boats under construction of over 200 feet, including five measuring 295 feet or more, according to the magazine Yachts International.
Today's biggest yachts are loaded with new technology and toys. Computer-controlled stabilizers -- which anticipate the rocking movements of a boat and offset them with underwater fins or gyroscopes -- make megayachts perfectly still even when anchored. High-tech security systems, stereos, theaters and swimming pools have become standard. Most come with garages, to house jet skis, motorcycles, small motorboats and other vehicles.
Shortly after, Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen bought the 354-foot Le Grand Bleu, which has its own 72-foot sailboat on board. Then he commissioned Lürssen, the German builder of the world's largest yachts, to produce the 414-foot Octopus. It was planned to be the biggest yacht in the world. Delivered last year, Octopus has a 59-foot speedboat, personal submarine, swimming pool and music studio, according to builders. The helicopter pad on the main aft deck doubles as a basketball court. People familiar with the boat say it cost more than $250 million to build and will cost more than $10 million a year to run.
While Octopus was under construction, Larry Ellison, the hypercompetitive Oracle Corp. chief who's also an avid boater, was building his own superboat. It was originally slated to be 393 feet. As the building of Octopus proceeded, Mr. Ellison expanded the size of his boat. The result, a 452-foot colossus called Rising Sun, was launched this fall, making Mr. Ellison king of the heap at least temporarily. The price tag was more than $200 million, people familiar with the project say. Neither Mr. Allen nor Mr. Ellison will comment on their yachts.
Now, a Saudi family is building an even larger ship, according to yacht builders and brokers. The boat, called Platinum, is expected to be about 525 feet long. It's scheduled for launch next spring.
Yachts are even outgrowing the yacht builders. Until recently Azimut-Benetti SpA, the world's top yacht builder, could build yachts up to only 230 feet. With demand for larger boats so strong, the company last month announced a joint venture with Fincantieri SpA, a cruise-ship builder, to meet the demand for the new breed of megayachts.
Paolo Vitelli, Azimut-Benetti's chairman, says one of his clients ordered a yacht and saw one of his business competitors with a larger boat. "He asked us to make his one meter larger than his competitor's," Mr. Vitelli says.
Demand is so strong that some custom-ship builders are booked until 2006. Since construction takes two or three years, a boat ordered today might not be delivered until 2008 or 2009. Buyers who want a boat right away must pay a steep premium for a finished new boat.
On a recent morning at the
The grand stairway, sculpted from wrought iron and wood, spans three flights. Retractable plasma television screens adorn almost every room, along with surround-sound speakers, audio players and amplifiers. Mr. Davis designed the boat's X-shaped logo, which adorns the dining-room carpet and the formal
Mr. Davis, a
The size competition may be reaching its limits. The sudden proliferation of big boats has led to a world-wide shortage of berths, or yacht parking spots. Boats over 300 feet are too big for most marinas and have to anchor far from shore or at cruise-ship terminals. Many of the supersized boats have been dogged by cost overruns and quality troubles, builders say.
"One owner came to me just after buying a huge boat and wanted to sell it," says Henk de Vries, managing director of Feadship, a Dutch yacht builder. "He said that when he stood on the deck, he felt too far from the water."
from Scott Shane :
Subject: A Flood of Troubled Soldiers Is in the Offing, Experts Predict
The New York Times
A Flood of Troubled Soldiers Is in the Offing, Experts Predict
by SCOTT SHANE
thousands of soldiers returning from
An Army study shows that about one in six soldiers in
"There's a train coming that's packed with people who are going to need help for the next 35 years," said Stephen L. Robinson, a 20-year Army veteran who is now the executive director of the
advocacy group. Mr. Robinson wrote a report in September on the psychological toll of the war for the Center for
American Progress, a
"I have a very strong sense that the mental health consequences are going to be the medical story of this war," said Dr. Stephen C. Joseph, who served as the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs from 1994 to 1997.
What was planned as a short and decisive intervention in
And in no recent conflict have so many soldiers faced such uncertainty about how long they will be deployed. Veterans say the repeated extensions of duty in
Military and Department of Veterans Affairs officials say most military personnel will survive the war without serious mental issues and note that the one million troops include many who have not participated in ground combat, including sailors on ships. By comparison with troops in
But the duration and intensity of the war have doctors at veterans hospitals across the country worried about the coming caseload.
"We're seeing an increasing number of guys with classic post-traumatic stress symptoms," said Dr. Evan Kanter, a psychiatrist at the
A September report by the Government Accountability Office found that officials at six of seven Veterans Affairs medical facilities surveyed said they "may not be able to meet" increased demand for treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. Officers who served in
"In the urban terrain, the enemy is everywhere, across the street, in that window, up that alley," said Paul Rieckhoff, who served as a platoon leader with the Florida Army National Guard for 10 months, going on hundreds of combat patrols around
In his platoon of 38 people, 8 were divorced while in
man in his 120-person company killed himself after coming home.
"Too many guys are drinking," said Mr. Rieckhoff, who started the group Operation Truth to support the troops. "A lot have a hard time finding a job. I think the system is vastly under-prepared for the flood of mental health problems."
Capt. Tim Wilson, an Army chaplain serving outside
"There are usually two things they are dealing with," said Captain Wilson, a Southern Baptist from
When all goes as it should, the life-saving medical services available to combat units like Captain Wilson's may actually swell the ranks of psychological casualties. Of wounded soldiers who are alive when medics arrive, 98 percent now survive, said Dr. Michael E. Kilpatrick, the Pentagon's deputy director of deployment health support. But they must come to terms not only with emotional scars but the literal scars of amputated limbs and disfiguring injuries.
Through the end of September, the Army had evacuated 885 troops from
"During the war, they don't have the leisure to focus on how they're feeling," said Sonja Batten, a psychologist at the
Robert E. Brown was proud to be in the first wave of Marines invading
He served for six months as a Marine chaplain's assistant, counseling wounded soldiers, organizing makeshift memorial services and filling in on raids. He knew he was in trouble by the time he was on a ship home, when the sound of a hatch slamming would send him diving to the floor.
After he came home, he began drinking heavily and saw his marriage fall apart, Mr. Brown said. He was discharged and returned to his hometown,
"I just couldn't stand to be with anybody," said Mr. Brown, 35, sitting at his father's kitchen table.
Dr. Batten started him on the
road to recovery by giving his torment a name, an explanation and a treatment
plan. But 18 months after leaving
The scenes repeat in ghastly alternation, he says: the Iraqi girl, 3 or 4 years old, her skull torn open by a stray round; the Kuwaiti man imprisoned for 13 years by Saddam Hussein, cowering in madness and covered in waste; the young American soldier, desperate to escape the fighting, who sat in the latrine and fired his M-16 through his arm; the Iraqi missile speeding in as troops scramble in the dark for cover.
"That's the one that just stops my heart," said Mr. Brown. "I'm in my rack sleeping and there's a school bus full of
explosives coming down at me and there's nowhere to go."
Such costs of war, personal and financial, are not revealed by official casualty counts. "People see the figure of
1,200 dead," said Dr. Kanter, of
they see the number of seriously wounded. And almost never do they hear anything at all about the psychiatric
As of Wednesday 5,229 Americans have been seriously wounded in
Iraqi Freedom had applied for disability benefits for injuries or psychological ailments, according to the Department Veterans Affairs.
Every war produces its medical signature, said Dr. Kenneth Craig Hyams, a former Navy physician now at the Department
of Veterans Affairs. Soldiers came back from the Civil War with "irritable heart." In World War I there was "shell shock." World War II vets had "battle fatigue." The troubles of
In combat, the fight-or-flight reflex floods the body with adrenaline, permitting impressive feats of speed and endurance. But after spending weeks or months in this altered state, some soldiers cannot adjust to a peaceful setting. Like Mr. Brown, for whom a visit to a crowded bank at lunch became an ordeal, they display what doctors call "hypervigilance." They sit in restaurants with their backs to a wall; a car's backfire can transport them back to
To prevent such damage, the Army has deployed "combat stress control units" in
"We've found through long experience that this is best treated with sleep, rest, food, showers and a clean uniform, if that is possible," said Dr. Thomas J. Burke, an Army psychiatrist who oversees mental health policy at the Department of Defense. "If they get counseling to tell them they are not crazy, they will often get better rapidly."
To detect signs of trouble, the Department of Defense gives soldiers pre-deployment and post-deployment health questionnaires. Seven of 17 questions to soldiers leaving
But some reports suggest that such well-intentioned policies falter in the field. During his time as a platoon leader in
And the health screens have run up against an old enemy of military medicine: soldiers who cover up their symptoms. In
July 2003, as Jeffrey Lucey, a Marine reservist from
At home, he spiraled downhill, haunted by what he had seen and began to have delusions about having killed unarmed
Iraqis. In June, at 23, he hanged himself with a hose in the basement of the family home.
"Other marines have verified to us that it is a subtle understanding which exists that if you want to go home you do not report any problems," Mr. Lucey's parents wrote in an e-mail message. "Jeff's perception, which is shared by others, is that to seek help is to admit that you are weak."
Dr. Kilpatrick, of the Pentagon, acknowledges the problem, saying that National Guardsmen and Reservists in particular
have shown an "abysmal" level of candor in the screenings. "We still have a long ways to go," he said. "The warrior
ethos is that there are no imperfections."
Richard A. Oppel Jr. contributed reporting from
from Richard Du Boff :
Subject: DU: Dirty bombs, dirty missiles, dirty bullets
The Middle East in Election 2004 available on DVD
The role of the
You may preorder your own copy of the DVD "The Middle East in Election 2004: The CNI Capitol Hill Public Hearings" by sending in a donation of $35, or you may download it from www.archive.org by clicking here.
Three of the hearings were broadcast by C-SPAN and seen by millions of viewers in the
The list of the hearings is as follows:
January 27: "The
February 12: Hanan Ashrawi, Palestinian Legislator: "The US Role in the Middle East Peace Process"
March 15: "The Accountability Acts: Implications for US Policy," with Ambassador Imad Moustapha, Prof. Stephen Zunes, Ambassador Robert Keeley, Grant Smith, Executive Director of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy, and Eugene Bird
April 14: "The Gaza Withdrawal: Implications for US Policy," with Hasan Abdel Rahman, PLO Representative, Eugene Bird, cosponsored by Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy. The hearing took place the day that President Bush announced his endorsement of the Sharon "Withdrawal Plan" and was broadcast on C-SPAN
May 26: "The Armageddon Vote in Election 2004," with Dr. John Hubers, Prof. Don Wagner, E. Faye Williams, and Eugene Bird
June 29: "The Muslim Vote in Election 2004," with Ralph Nader, Nihad Awad (Executive Director, CAIR), Imad ad-Deen Ahmad (for the Libertarian candidate), Eugene Bird
July 21: "The Democratic Plank on the Middle East: politics or Peace?" with Jim Mullins, Bart Dame, Ed McCarthy, Raeed Tayeh (American Muslims for Jerusalem), Charles Lenchner (formerly with the Kucinich for President Campaign), E. Faye Williams (moderator)
August 26: "The Republican Plank on the Middle East: How Bush can Win," with Ed Peck, Charles Howell, Pete McCloskey, Eugene Bird, and E. Faye Williams. Broadcast on C-SPAN.
September 10: "Making the Link:
The DVD includes remarks by Hanan Ashrawi, Edward Peck, Paul Findley, Pete McCloskey, Ralph Nader, Eugene Bird, Don Wagner, John Hubers, and other prominent speakers who participated in the year-long hearings.
CNI friends will also be interested in another DVD produced by our video producer, Chris Belcher of Alchymedia. It is a talk delivered by Seymour Hersh, the New Yorker writer who broke the story of Abu Ghraib, which was given at the
You are encouraged to write review of the video, or to comment on it so that more people will be encouraged to download it.
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