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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 02/01/2009 - 02/08/2009
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Saturday, February 07, 2009

U.S. airlines January traffic data

ain't 'zactly a pretty picture...

The following table lists January mainline operational data for the 10 largest US airlines by passenger traffic, compared with the same month a year earlier:

              --Traffic--   --Capacity--  --Load factor--

RPMs % chg ASMs % chg % Change
American 9.64 -11.7 13.07 -8.3 73.8 -2.8 pts
Delta* 8.87 -2.2 11.81 -1.9 75.1 -0.3 pts
United 7.65 -12.4 10.06 -12.0 76.0 -0.4 pts
Continental 5.78 -10.8 7.81 -6.7 74.0 -3.4 pts
Southwest 5.14 -9.7 8.17 -4.4 62.2 -1.4 pts
Northwest* 5.65 -8.2 7.27 -6.4 77.8 -1.5 pts
US Airways 4.35 -6.2 5.74 -6.9 75.8 +0.6 pts
JetBlue 1.93 -7.1 2.61 -5.1 74.0 -1.6 pts
Alaska** 1.35 -4.7 1.88 -8.4 71.7 +2.9 pts
AirTran 1.27 +4.5 1.74 -3.8 73.2 +5.8 pts

NOTES: Traffic is measured in billions of revenue passenger miles, the distance travelled by paying passengers.

Capacity is measured in billions of available seat miles, reflecting the number of seats available for sale and the length of the flights.

Load factor is the percentage of seats occupied by paying passengers and change is in percentage points.

*Figures for Delta and Northwest include data for regional affiliates.

**Alaska Airlines doesn't include unit Horizon Air.

prediction: more layoffs...

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Ray McGovern on Panetta, the CIA, torture and the rule of law

some interesting background...
Afshin Rattansi talks to former CIA official Ray McGovern about the consequences for the new head of the CIA and for the United States after Leon Panetta condemns torture, extraordinary rendition and those that were involved in it all. Also, will Cheney go to jail and what about David Milliband who denies that the UK secret services do not engage in torture despite evidence to the contrary for decades of British illegal activity, from Ireland to Gibraltar?

Hours later and after this interview, Leon Panetta retracted statements about extraordinary rendition or kidnapping and said that the Obama administration will still engage in the practice.

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"What orifice, Mr. Cheney, did you pull those numbers out of?"

olbermann thinks the big dick should put his tail between his legs and quit the country... i couldn't agree more...

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Friday, February 06, 2009

Two uninterrupted years of job losses, 58K more than projected in January, 3.2M overall

aggregate figures like this are pretty stunning...
The country moved into its second year of uninterrupted job losses last month, with companies shedding another 598,000 jobs and the unemployment rate moving up to 7.6 percent, the Labor Department reported on Friday.

Economists had forecast a loss of 540,000 jobs and a unemployment rate of 7.5 percent.

Job losses were once again spread across both manufacturing and service industries, reinforcing the picture of an economy that is contracting at its fastest pace in decades.

Employers in the United States have shed jobs every month since January 2008, for an aggregate decline in payroll employment of 3.2 million.

if you've got a source of steady income, get down on your knees and thank whatever powers you acknowledge, and then offer up a silent prayer for those poor bastards getting tossed out on the streets day after day after day...

and just hope you don't work for toyota, one of the supposed "success" stories in a brutal industry...

Less than two months after forecasting its first ever full-year operating loss, Toyota Motor said on Friday that it now expected that loss to be three times larger than originally expected as global auto sales continued to plunge.

Toyota said it expected to lose 450 billion yen, or $5 billion, in the fiscal year through March 31 in its vehicle-making operations.


A loss this year would be the Toyota’s first full-year loss since its founding in 1937 as the subsidiary of an automated loom company. The company also said Friday it expects a net loss of 350 billion yen, or $3.9 billion, for its entire group, which includes Hino, a truck maker, and Daihatsu, which builds compact cars.

In December, Toyota stunned many here by originally forecasting a 150 billion yen, or $1.6 billion, operating loss — a huge reversal from its record $28 billion operating profit just last year. Friday’s new larger loss forecast reflected how quickly the global auto market has continued to worsen during the current economic crisis, analysts said.

On Friday, Toyota also posted a net loss of 164.7 billion yen, or $1.8 billion, in the three months ended Dec. 31, offering the first glimpse of how last autumn’s global economic downturn affected the once robust automaker. In the same quarter last year, the company posted a 458.6 billion yen, or $5 billion, net profit.

The company said it was particularly hard hit in North America, traditionally its most profitable market. Toyota said vehicle sales in North America dropped 31 percent during the quarter from the same period last year to 521,000 units. The sales decline and losses on interest-rate swaps pushed the company to a 247.4 billion yen, or $2.7 billion, operating loss in North America.

the impact on the global auto industry is also being felt right here in argentina, a country that can ill afford more unemployed people on the streets...
Argentina’s car production plunged 54.6% in January compared to the same month last year, the Automakers’ Chamber (ADEFA) reported yesterday

The number of cars manufactured in the country totalled 18,720, down from 41,228 in January 2008.

Exports in January meanwhile fell 60% from the same month of 2008, (20.476 and 8.190) while sales of cars by manufacturers to dealerships ? which include imported vehicles ? dropped 38.9% (33,699 vehicles).

ADEFA said the sales of locally manufactured cars increased 8.5% in January, compared to December, although production is expected to decline in the near future as a result of dropping sales.

In 2008, car production in the country set a record, with 597,086 cars coming off the assembly lines.

i keep comparing what's happening to a slow-mo train wreck but i guess it takes a while for all the tentacles of the global system of financial servitude to finally untangle... it can't happen soon enough for me...

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¡Que se vayan todos!

¡Que se vayan todos! (All of them must go!)

naomi klein opines that the disgust with capitalism that toppled four presidents in succession here in argentina may at last be spilling over to the rest of the world...
The stoic Icelandic matriarchs beating their pots flat even as their kids ransack the fridge for projectiles (eggs, sure, but yogurt?) echo the tactics made famous in Buenos Aires. So does the collective rage at elites who trashed a once thriving country and thought they could get away with it. As Gudrun Jonsdottir, a 36-year-old Icelandic office worker, put it: "I've just had enough of this whole thing. I don't trust the government, I don't trust the banks, I don't trust the political parties and I don't trust the IMF. We had a good country, and they ruined it."


Similar demands can be heard these days in Latvia, whose economy has contracted more sharply than any country in the EU, and where the government is teetering on the brink. For weeks the capital has been rocked by protests, including a full-blown, cobblestone-hurling riot on January 13. As in Iceland, Latvians are appalled by their leaders' refusal to take any responsibility for the mess. Asked by Bloomberg TV what caused the crisis, Latvia's finance minister shrugged: "Nothing special."

But Latvia's troubles are indeed special: the very policies that allowed the "Baltic Tiger" to grow at a rate of 12 percent in 2006 are also causing it to contract violently by a projected 10 percent this year: money, freed of all barriers, flows out as quickly as it flows in, with plenty being diverted to political pockets. (It is no coincidence that many of today's basket cases are yesterday's "miracles": Ireland, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia.)

Something else Argentina-esque is in the air. In 2001 Argentina's leaders responded to the crisis with a brutal International Monetary Fund-prescribed austerity package: $9 billion in spending cuts, much of it hitting health and education. This proved to be a fatal mistake. Unions staged a general strike, teachers moved their classes to the streets and the protests never stopped.


The pattern is clear: governments that respond to a crisis created by free-market ideology with an acceleration of that same discredited agenda will not survive to tell the tale. As Italy's students have taken to shouting in the streets: "We won't pay for your crisis!"

unfortunately, argentina's outburst only produced a temporary stay of execution... today, you can find the same elites, dressed in their faux populist finery, still lining their pockets and feeding from every available trough... the good news is that it's happening without imf and world bank debt... the bad news is that the poor are still poor and getting massively poorer by the day...

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

"Once the bubble was over, was the time coming when we, too, would be “de-modernized?"

an extremely important read... don't pass it up...

from catherine austin fitts* via cryptogon...

Financial Coup d’Etat

In the fall of 2001 I attended a private investment conference in London to give a paper, The Myth of the Rule of Law or How the Money Works: The Destruction of Hamilton Securities Group.

The presentation documented my experience with a Washington-Wall Street partnership that had:

  • Engineered a fraudulent housing and debt bubble;
  • Illegally shifted vast amounts of capital out of the U.S.;
  • Used “privatization” as form or piracy - a pretext to move government assets to private investors at below-market prices and then shift private liabilities back to government at no cost to the private liability holder.
Other presenters at the conference included distinguished reporters covering privatization in Eastern Europe and Russia. As the portraits of British ancestors stared down upon us, we listened to story after story of global privatization throughout the 1990s in the Americas, Europe, and Asia.

Slowly, as the pieces fit together, we shared a horrifying epiphany: the banks, corporations and investors acting in each global region were the exact same players. They were a relatively small group that reappeared again and again in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Asia accompanied by the same well-known accounting firms and law firms.

Clearly, there was a global financial coup d’etat underway.

The magnitude of what was happening was overwhelming. In the 1990’s, millions of people in Russia had woken up to find their bank accounts and pension funds simply gone – eradicated by a falling currency or stolen by mobsters who laundered money back into big New York Fed member banks for reinvestment to fuel the debt bubble.

Reports of politicians, government officials, academics, and intelligence agencies facilitating the racketeering and theft were compelling. One lawyer in Russia, living without electricity and growing food to prevent starvation, was quoted as saying, “We are being de-modernized.”

Several years earlier, I listened to three peasant women describe the War on Drugs in their respective countries: Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia. I asked them, “After they sweep you into camps, who gets your land and at what price?” My question opened a magic door. They poured out how the real economics worked on the War on Drugs, including the stealing of land and government contracts to build housing for the people who are displaced.

At one point, suspicious of my understanding of how this game worked, one of the women said, “You say you have never been to our countries, yet you understand exactly how the money works. How is this so?” I replied that I had served as Assistant Secretary of Housing at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in the United States where I oversaw billions of government investment in US communities. Apparently, it worked the same way in their countries as it worked in mine.

I later found out that the government contractor leading the War on Drugs strategy for U.S. aid to Peru, Colombia and Bolivia was the same contractor in charge of knowledge management for HUD enforcement. This Washington-Wall Street game was a global game. The peasant women of Latin America were up against the same financial pirates and business model as the people in South Central Los Angeles, West Philadelphia, Baltimore and the South Bronx.

Later, courageous reporting by Naomi Klein and Greg Palast confirmed in detail that the privitization and economic warfare model I discussed in London had deep roots in Latin America.

We were experiencing a global “heist”: capital was being sucked out of country after country. The presentation I gave in London revealed a piece of the puzzle that was difficult for the audience to fathom. This was not simply happening in the emerging markets. It was happening in America, too.

I described a meeting that had occurred in April 1997, more than four years before that day in London. I had given a presentation to a distinguished group of U.S. pension fund leaders on the extraordinary opportunity to reengineer the U.S. federal budget. I presented our estimate that the prior year’s federal investment in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area had a negative return on investment.

We presented that it was possible to finance places with private equity and reengineer the government investment to a positive return and, as a result, generate significant capital gains. Hence, it was possible to use U.S. pension funds to significantly increase retirees’ retirement security by successfully investing in American communities, small business and farms — all in a manner that would reduce debt, improve skills, and create jobs.

The response from the pension fund investors to this analysis was quite positive until the President of the CalPERS pension fund — the largest in the country — said, “You don’t understand. It’s too late. They have given up on the country. They are moving all the money out in the fall [of 1997]. They are moving it to Asia.”

Sure enough, that fall, significant amounts of moneys started leaving the US, including illegally. Over $4 trillion went missing from the US government. No one seemed to notice. Misled into thinking we were in a boom economy by a fraudulent debt bubble engineered with force and intention from the highest levels of the financial system, Americans were engaging in an orgy of consumption that was liquidating the real financial equity we needed urgently to reposition ourselves for the times ahead.

The mood that afternoon in London was quite sober. The question hung in the air, unspoken: once the bubble was over, was the time coming when we, too, would be “de-modernized?”

In 2009 — more than seven years later — this is a question that many of us are asking ourselves.

no surprises here, at least not for anyone who pays attention... it's always good, however, to see someone with intelligence and the credentials to back it up put the cards on the table...
* Catherine Austin Fitts ... background includes:

* Investment Advisor: Founder and managing member of Solari Investment Advisory Services, LLC.
* Entrepreneur: President of The Hamilton Securities Group, investment bank and financial software developer.
* Government Official: Assistant Secretary of Housing - Federal Housing Commissioner, Bush I.
* Investment Banker: Managing Director and member of the board of Wall Street firm Dillon, Read & Co. Inc.

Catherine has designed and closed over $25 billion of transactions and investments to-date and has led portfolio strategy for $300 billion of financial assets and liabilities.

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The U.S. threatens to withhold intelligence from the UK if Guantánamo torture info is revealed [UPDATE] [UPDATE II]


we must be hiding some fairly inflammatory and incriminating stuff...
Evidence of how a British resident held in the Guantánamo Bay detention camp was tortured, and what MI5 knew about it, must remain secret because of serious threats the US has made against the UK, the high court ruled today.

The judges made clear they were deeply unhappy with their decision, but said they had no alternative as a result of a statement by David Miliband, the foreign secretary, that if the evidence was disclosed the US would stop sharing intelligence with Britain. That would directly threaten the UK's national security, Miliband had told the court.



this story is evidently not going to go quietly into that good night and it damn well shouldn't either...
In a scathing judgment, Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Lloyd Jones said the evidence, and what MI5 knew about it, must remain secret because according to Miliband, the American threats meant "the public of the United Kingdom would be put at risk".

The judges made clear they were unhappy with their decision, but said they had no alternative as a result of Miliband's claim. Their ruling revealed that Miliband stuck to his position about the threat to the UK even after Barack Obama signed orders two weeks ago banning torture and announcing the closure of the Guantánamo Bay prison camp.

Last night Miliband seemingly backtracked on his office's submission, saying there had been no threat by the US to break off intelligence co-operation. "It's American information and it is for the Americans to decide whether to publish their information," Miliband told Channel 4 television.

Clive Stafford Smith, director of Reprieve, the legal charity and human rights group which acted for Mohamed, said last night: "The US is under a legal duty to investigate the crime of torture, not to suppress evidence that it happened ... For the foreign secretary to give in to these illegal demands by the Bush administration is capitulation to blackmail, pure and simple."


the aclu weighs in (and they ain't happy)...
The American Civil Liberties Union, which has generally been harshly critical of President George W. Bush and praiseworthy of President Barack Obama, has fired a torpedo across the Obama bow.

After the British High Court ruled that evidence of a British resident's rendition and harsh interrogation at the Pentagon's Guantanamo Bay prison must remain secret because of threats made by the Bush administration to halt intelligence sharing, the Obama Administration offered a terse statement seemingly expressing support to the BBC.

"The United States thanks the UK government for its continued commitment to protect sensitive national security information and preserve the long-standing intelligence sharing relationship that enables both countries to protect their citizens," a spokesman said.

In response, the ACLU's executive director, Anthony Romero, shot off a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asking the Obama Administration to clarify their position. Romero also issued a sharply-worded three sentence statement to the press, saying Obama has now offered "more of the same."

"Hope is flickering," Romero said in a statement. "The Obama administration's position is not change. It is more of the same. This represents a complete turn-around and undermining of the restoration of the rule of law. The new American administration shouldn't be complicit in hiding the abuses of its predecessors."

if this stands, my already-wavering hopes for the obama presidency are poised to go up in smoke...

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And now, for something COMPLETELY different * - Titanoboa

great jumping jehoshophat...

A python creeps over a vertebra of a Titanoboa cerrejonensis,
the fossil remains of which were discovered in Colombia.

It was the mother of all snakes, a nightmarish behemoth as long as a school bus and as heavy as a Volkswagen Beetle that ruled the ancient Amazonian rain forest for 2 million years before slithering into nonexistence.

Now this monster, which weighed in at 2,500 pounds, has resurfaced in fossils taken from an open-pit coal mine in Colombia, a startling example of growth gone wild.

Modern boas and anacondas, which average less than 20 feet in length and reach a maximum of 30 feet, have been known to swallow Chihuahuas, cats and other small pets, but this prehistoric monster snacked on giant turtles and primitive crocodiles.

"This is amazing. It challenges everything we know about how big a snake can be," said herpetologist Jack Conrad of the American Museum of Natural History in New York, who was not involved in the research.

The snake's estimated length, 43 feet, "is the same as the largest Tyrannosaurus rex that we know of, although it only weighs one-sixth as much," he said.

* one of my favorite expressions, with thanks to monty python...

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Here's some job loss figures to choke on

if this doesn't make you snort coffee out your nose, i don't know what will...
Job cut announcements by U.S. employers soared to 241,749 in January, up 45% from December's 166,348 cuts, according to Challenger. That was the highest number of job cuts since January 2002.

Layoffs rose 222% - more than triple - from January 2008, when 74,986 job cuts were announced.

and here's the most deeply ironic part of this horrible news that they have the absolute gall to label a "bright spot"...
"If there is any bright spot in the latest job-cut data, it is the fact that financial firms announced only 1,458 job cuts in January. That is the lowest one-month total for that industry since 2005," said [John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas].

do ya s'pose that just MIGHT be due to the trillions of dollars being thrown at the financial services industry by us, the poor bastards whose pockets it's coming out of...?

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Sunday photoblogging on Tuesday (special for mettle)


i was un-jetlagged enough on sunday to happily accept an invite from friends to meet them in plaza de mayo for a walk down calle defensa through the sunday market vendors and swarming turistas... we shared some great appetizer trays at a patagonian restaurant off the main drag and, all in all, had a great time...

the top photo below was taken in one of the cars of the first buenos aires subway line... note the tulip light fixtures and the polished wood seats and interior... the second is of a famous church and museum on defensa just off the plaza de mayo...

Coach interior, Subte, Línea A, Buenos Aires

Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Rosario, Calle Defensa, Buenos Aires

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The Bush administration memos behind torture, detention and warrantless wiretapping

from raw story...
Details about more than three dozen secret memoranda written by Bush Administration officials now sit atop a chart created by public interest reporting group. The memos track new details about dozens of secret Bush Administration legal positions on torture, detention and warrantless wiretapping.

Meanwhile, Obama's freshly-confirmed Attorney General Eric Holder told senators that he was open to declassifying White House legal memos if no support for their original classification could be found, signaling a likely showdown with former President George W. Bush over executive privilege.

from propublica...
The Missing Memos
by Dan Nguyen and Christopher Weaver, ProPublica - January 28, 2009

The Bush administration’s controversial policies on detentions, interrogations and warrantless wiretapping were underpinned by legal memoranda. While some of those memos have been released (primarily as a result of ACLU lawsuits), the former administration kept far more memos secret than has been previously understood. At least three dozen by our count.

The decision to release them now lies with President Obama. To help inform the debate—and inject an extra dose of accountability—we’re posting the first comprehensive list of the secret memos. (The ACLU first compiled a list, which ProPublica verified and expanded on.)

Note: Our list is quite inclusive, but we have chosen to leave off some documents, such as early drafts of later memos.

Click here for more

can we PLEASE get rolling on PROVING we are a nation governed by a constitution and the rule of law...? PLEASE...?

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Some food for thought about 9/11

one of these days - and i fervently hope it's sooner rather than later - we're going to know the truth...
The Elephant in the Room

The Elephant in the Room is a documentary following British filmmaker Dean Puckett through his journey into the 9/11 Truth Movement: a global movement of ‘conspiracy theorists’ who believe that the official explanation about what happened on 9/11 is totally or partially inaccurate.

The filmmakers travel from middle England, across Europe and to New York for the six year anniversary of the attacks, where the film takes one final twist as we are introduced to the 9/11 first responders who are suffering from various grave health difficulties due to the toxic dust that they breathed in trying to help their country during the weeks after this tragic event.

Told with a personal hands on approach that avoids advancing any one position, the film asks the question: are these crazy conspiracy theorists? Or is 9/11 Truth a credible political movement? You decide...

and, speaking for myself, i'm deathly tired of people who insist on labeling those who dare to advance an explanation of historical events that diverges from the pre-digested, pre-approved propaganda promulgated by our elite-controlled media as "conspiracy theorists," a term that has become universally accepted code for fools, imbeciles and ignoramuses... and, just so i leave no doubt as to where i'm coming from, i'm equally tired of those who swallow such theories whole and make it their life's work to try to shove it down the throats of everyone else, when what we so desperately need is a full, reasonable, public exploration of the truth based on proven facts... do you suppose we can do that any time soon...?

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It may turn out the new president's ... a Democrat!

holy crap...! who woulda thunk it...?

greg palast in truthout...

Frankly, I was worried about this guy. Obama's appointing Clinton-droids to the Cabinet, bloated incompetents like Larry Summers as "Economics Czar," made me fear for my country, that we'd gotten another Democrat who wished he were a Republican.

Then came Obama's money bomb. The House bill included $125 billion for schools (TRIPLING federal spending on education), expanding insurance coverage to the unemployed, making the most progressive change in the tax code in four decades by creating a $500 credit against social security payroll deductions, and so on.

It's as if Obama dug up Ronald Reagan's carcass and put a stake through The Gipper's anti-government heart. Aw-RIGHT!

About the only concession Obama threw to the right-wing trogs was to remove the subsidy for condoms, leaving hooker-happy GOP Senators, like David Vitter, to pay for their own protection. S'OK with me.

And here's the proof that Bam is The Man: Not one single Republican congressman voted for the bill. And that means that Obama didn't compromise, the way Clinton and Carter would have, to win the love of these condom-less jerks.

And we didn't need'm. Nyah! Nyah! Nyah!

Now I understand Obama's weird moves: dinner with those creepy conservative columnists, earnest meetings at the White House with the Republican leaders, a dramatic begging foray into Senate offices. Just as the Republicans say, it was all a fraud. Obama was pure Chicago, Boss Daley in a slim skin, putting his arms around his enemies, pretending to listen and care and compromise, then slowly, quietly, slipping in the knife. All while the media praises Obama's "post-partisanship." Heh heh heh.

Love it. Now we know why Obama picked that vindictive little viper Rahm Emanuel as staff chief: everyone visiting the Oval office will be greeted by the Windy City hit man who would hack up your grandma if you mess with the Godfather-in-Chief.

I don't know about you, but THIS is the change I've been waiting for.

Will it last? We'll see if Obama caves in to more tax cuts to investment bankers. We'll see if he stops the sub-prime scum-bags from foreclosing on frightened families. We'll see if he stands up to the whining, gormless generals who don't know how to get our troops out of Iraq. (In SHIPS, you doofuses!)

Look, don't get your hopes up. But it may turn out the new president's ... a Democrat!


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