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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 10/19/2008 - 10/26/2008
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I'm heading to Kabul on Thursday


and the news from there isn't particularly cheery...
A gunfire attack killed two Western employees of the international shipping firm DHL in Afghanistan's capital on Saturday, police said. An Afghan was also killed.

The shooting took place in front of the DHL office in downtown Kabul. The city's deputy police chief said the two slain foreigners were German, but another police official, Abdul Raouf, later identified them as a Briton and a South African. Two Afghans were wounded.

The slain employees were the director and deputy director for DHL in Afghanistan, said Zemeri Bashary, the Interior Ministry spokesman.


The attack follows the slaying in Kabul of a dual South African-British citizen by gunmen earlier in the week. The Taliban immediately claimed responsibility for that shooting, saying the woman had been proselytizing.

Security has deteriorated around Afghanistan in the last two years, although violence against Westerners in the capital has been relatively rare.

Also Saturday, international security companies warned their clients in Kabul about intelligence indicating that militants were planning a large-scale attack on a restaurant frequented by Westerners.

to top it off, i'm going to be staying at the hotel that was the target of a suicide bomb attack last january...

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What's this crap about "taking an ownership stake"...? It's nationalization, fercryinoutloud...

no matter how much you polish a turd (see previous post)...
The Treasury Department is dramatically expanding the scope of its bailout of the financial system with a plan to take ownership stakes in the nation's insurance companies, signaling new concerns about a sector of the economy whose troubles until now have been overshadowed by the banking industry, government and industry sources said.

Insurers, including The Hartford, Prudential and MetLife, have pushed the Bush administration to include them in the plan. Many firms have taken losses from mortgage-related securities and other investments and are struggling to replenish their coffers.

Government officials worry that the collapse of a major insurer could further destabilize the financial system because of the crucial role the companies play in backstopping a wide range of financial transactions, although the direct impact on holders of car, life and other insurance policies would be modest, industry officials said.

The new initiative underscores the growing range of problems that Treasury is scrambling to address with the $700 billion allocated by Congress this month. The shape of the plan has changed repeatedly since Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. introduced it last month as an effort to rescue banks by buying their troubled mortgage-related assets. That original mandate has now been pushed aside by a plan to take equity stakes in banks and insurance companies, and other businesses are lobbying to be included.

The government has been forced to expand the plan partly because the federal guarantees previously given some institutions, such as banks, have put other companies and financial sectors at a disadvantage, making them less attractive to uneasy investors.

The government's power to choose winners and losers in the crisis was illustrated yesterday when the Cleveland-based bank National City was forced to sell itself when regulators turned down its request for a Treasury investment after deciding the firm was too weak to save, according to people familiar with the matter. Instead, the Treasury gave $7.7 billion to PNC Financial Services Group to help buy National City. It did not require that the money be used for new lending, the stated purpose of the government plan. PNC, which has a major presence in the Washington region, would become the fifth-largest bank in the country by deposits.

the size of the bailout seems to grow exponentially minute-by-minute... pretty soon, pharmacy chains are going to be included because people are cutting down on refilling their prescriptions...
With the economy in crisis, people are cutting back on their prescriptions because they can't afford them.

A recent study says the number of prescriptions filled through August of this year is down compared to the same time period last year.

and then we'll bail out the restaurants because people can't afford to eat out as much...

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Argentina nationalizes its pension fund and its biggest airline


not to be outdone by george bush, argentina announced two major nationalizations in the past week, altho' argentina, unlike the u.s., doesn't shy away from calling them "nationalizations" rather than characterizing them as "taking an ownership stake," the propaganda spin served up by the white house...

first the pension story...

Argentina's President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner on Tuesday (Oct 21) announced
The measure would force the country's 10 AFJPs to transfer the 94.4bn pesos (US$29.3bn) in assets they held as of end-September to social security agency ANSES.

Speaking before an audience at the ANSES headquarters on Tuesday afternoon, Fernández said the measure was a "strategic decision" taken to preserve Argentine retirees' savings. The new system will be called SIPA (Sistema Integrado Previsional Argentino).

On Monday, local daily Clarín broke the news, citing a document from ANSES that said recent losses in AFJP funds prompted by market volatility are evidence the system is "conceptually inadequate".

then the airline...
Argentina's government has decided to seize the country's biggest airline, Aerolineas Argentinas, because talks with the current owners over a price have broken down, a local newspaper reported.

Private Spanish travel group Marsans agreed in July to sell faltering Aerolineas Argentinas and its Austral unit to the government.

The two companies employ some 9,000 workers and operate about 80 percent of domestic flights. They also have debt worth an estimated USD$890 million.

Newspaper La Nacion said the government would soon announce its decision to expropriate the airlines, citing sources in the government, trade unions and the company.

"The agreement with Marsans got exhausted with time," an unnamed government official was quoted as saying.

just another example of the ripple effect of the collapse of the global financial markets...

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

You tell me - does picturing Obama surrounded by ribs, fried chicken, and watermelon have a racist feel to it?

one of the very worst aspects of the nearly eight years we have endured of the bush administration is the implicit sanctioning of intolerance, racism and hate... it started the day bush took office and has continued unabated, but never has it been more intense than in the current presidential campaign environment...

i'm still gagging on the jaw-dropping talking-point meme that colin powell's endorsement of obama was made solely on the basis of race... the stuffed monkeys representing obama that have been a feature of mccain rallies are equally despicable, but implying that eating ribs, fried chicken and watermelon, staples of every american's diet, is somehow the unique province of blacks and therefore a subject for ridicule, is simply nauseating...

"Good American" Holds Racist Obama/
Monkey Doll At Palin Rally

cultural, ethnic and geographic stereotypes are a feature of every society in the world... believe it or not, they tell "kandahar jokes" in afghanistan, and there isn't an american who hasn't been exposed to polish jokes, irish jokes, italian jokes, mexican jokes, redneck jokes, and, yes, black jokes... and certainly every canadian can tell a "newfie" joke at the drop of a maple leaf... but, for god's sake, nobody in their right mind, certainly not anyone with two brain cells to rub together and the sensitivity of a toilet seat uses ethnic, cultural or racial stereotypes in


check out this woman's sad, utterly pathetic rationalization...

The president of a San Bernardino County Republican women's club that published an illustration of Barack Obama surrounded by ribs, fried chicken and watermelon resigned Wednesday, saying she demonstrated "poor judgment" and a lack of sensitivity.

Diane Fedele faced intense pressure from state GOP leaders who called the drawing racist and Democrats who demanded she quit as head of the Upland-based Chaffey Community Republican Women, Federated.

In a sometimes combative apology sent to club members, Fedele said she received the illustration through a chain e-mail and used it for a "satiric" attack on what she sees as Obama's "socialist" agenda of government giveaways. When confronted by an African American club member, she said she apologized for the cartoon but the woman took the story to the media.

"For many it may be hard to believe, but some people do not associate certain foods with particular groups," Fedele said. "I do not think like a bigot, and because of that fact I did not view this as racial, because I do not have a racially discriminating point of view."

She accused the media of branding Republicans racist whenever they criticize the Democratic presidential nominee.

give me strength...

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

For those who believe "the worst is over," check the 514-point Dow drop today

at the close today, 22 october...
Dow Jones Industrial Average 8,519.21 -514.45

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Domestic military deployments

although i've been following this story for the past few weeks, i've avoided posting on it primarily because it's so goddam depressing... i guess i find it preferable to pretend it isn't happening... unfortunately, like the dead skunk under the back porch, it's damn near impossible to ignore...
Following reports that US troops will be permanently on call to work inside the United States handling "civil unrest," "crowd control" and other functions traditionally carried out by civilian law enforcement agencies, activists are demanding to know why the Pentagon is reversing a longstanding prohibition on domestic deployment of the military.

The Department of Defense for the first time is assigning a full-time Army unit to be on call with Northern Command, which was created after Sept. 11 to facilitate military cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security in the event of another terrorist attack.

The American Civil Liberties Union is demanding more details on the domestic deployments, which appear to violate the Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits use of the military to direct internal affairs of the US. The ACLU warns that without fully knowing the reasoning and justifications behind the Army's plan, the domestic deployments could be used to expand a militarized surveillance apparatus that already includes the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretapping program and DHS's plans to turn military spy satellites inside US borders.

do you ever get the feeling that we're fighting a rear guard action against an enemy that already has us inescapably boxed in...?

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Well, I'll be dipped...! Colin's decided it's redemption time...!

son-of-a-gun... i'd heard it was a distinct possibility, but, as with most "distinct possibilities" these days, whether it actually happens is a whole 'nother question...

October 19, 2008, 9:21 am

Powell Endorses Obama

Updated WASHINGTON—Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell endorsed Senator Barack Obama for president on Sunday morning as a candidate who was reaching out in a “more diverse and inclusive way across our society” and offering a “calm, patient, intellectual, steady approach” to the nation’s problems.

The endorsement, on the NBC public affairs program “Meet the Press,” was a major blow to Senator John McCain, who has been a good friend of Mr. Powell for decades. Mr. Powell, a Republican, has advised Mr. McCain in the past on foreign policy.

listen, colin... the memory of you sitting in front of the united nations brandishing a vial of saddam's supposed anthrax is indelibly burned into my mental landscape, but this latest move of yours does mitigate that somewhat...

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"Failed authoritarian movements needs scapegoats the way fecal coliform bacteria need a steady supply of raw sewage"

i'm not even going to supply any context for the above quote... if you want context, you can go find it here... i simply fell in love with the phraseology... and, ok, yes, i'm twisted... deal with it...

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