Blog Flux Directory Subscribe in NewsGator Online Subscribe with Bloglines Blog directory
And, yes, I DO take it personally: 03/08/2009 - 03/15/2009
Mandy: Great blog!
Mark: Thanks to all the contributors on this blog. When I want to get information on the events that really matter, I come here.
Penny: I'm glad I found your blog (from a comment on Think Progress), it's comprehensive and very insightful.
Eric: Nice site....I enjoyed it and will be back.
nora kelly: I enjoy your site. Keep it up! I particularly like your insights on Latin America.
Alison: Loquacious as ever with a touch of elegance -- & right on target as usual!
"Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it."
- Noam Chomsky
Send tips and other comments to:

And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Bailouts to pay AIG bonuses...? This shit must cease...!

"...the firm is contractually obligated to pay them..."

hello...? a case can be made under legal precedent that the conditions that necessitated an unprecedented $170B bailout in the first place also create the conditions under which such contracts can be voided...

A.I.G. Planning Huge Bonuses After $170 Billion Bailout

The American International Group, which has received more than $170 billion in taxpayer bailout money from the Treasury and Federal Reserve, plans to pay about $165 million in bonuses by Sunday to executives in the same business unit that brought the company to the brink of collapse last year.

Word of the bonuses last week stirred such deep consternation inside the Obama administration that Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner told the firm they were unacceptable and demanded they be renegotiated, a senior administration official said. But the bonuses will go forward because lawyers said the firm was contractually obligated to pay them.

The payments to A.I.G.’s financial products unit are in addition to $121 million in previously scheduled bonuses for the company’s senior executives and 6,400 employees across the sprawling corporation. Mr. Geithner last week pressured A.I.G. to cut the $9.6 million going to the top 50 executives in half and tie the rest to performance.

what a bunch of crap...

Labels: , , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

A military coup in Guinea that exposes the truth and opts for exposing a drug-dealing government...? Wow...!


who woulda thunk it...?
For years, the drug trade was an open secret in Guinea. The inner circle of former dictator Lansana Conte, who ruled Guinea for 24 years until his death, was deeply corrupt, with officials driving opulent SUVs in a capital where most people live without electricity.

Conte died in December. A day later, Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara, a junior army officer, grabbed power in a coup and promised to crack down on corruption, including on the flagrant drug trade. So far, more than a dozen people have been arrested, but Dadis has failed to arrest well-known members of his own military junta who are believed to deal in drugs.

The confessions began two weeks ago on state television in what is now known in Guinea as "The Dadis Show," broadcasts that have caused a spike in TV viewership and are the constant topic at lunch and over coffee.

First up was Ousmane Conte, the feared eldest son of the deceased dictator, who was untouchable under the previous regime. He admitted what everyone in Guinea knew but did not dare say.

"I acknowledge that I was in the drug business — and I regret it," said Conte, whose confession was taped inside his detention cell.


As the cocaine market in the United States matured, drug traffickers turned to Europe instead, according to a U.N. report released in October. Over the past decade, cocaine use in Spain and the United Kingdom has grown three and four-fold. One kilogram of cocaine in Europe now sells for twice as much as in the United States, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime.

To get the cocaine to Europe, traffickers first smuggle it to Africa's west coast, located directly across the ocean from Colombia, Peru and Bolivia, home to the world's entire crop of coca leaves. They bring it in freighter ships and in small, two-engine planes that land at night on deserted air strips. Once ashore, it is parceled out to hundreds of drug dealers, who smuggle it north on boats, in planes and in their own intestines.

In a report earlier this month, the U.S. State Department said cocaine smuggling through Venezuela alone has shot up fivefold since 2002, from 50 metric tons to an estimated 250 metric tons in 2007. It said a rapidly increasing percentage of the flow has begun to be shipped and flown to West Africa, notably to Guinea and Guinea Bissau, and then on toward Europe.

now, when will the u.s. government's involvement in drug trafficking be similarly exposed...?

Labels: , , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

Friday, March 13, 2009

Boot, Kagan, and Kagan - the neocon dogs of war attempt to justify more troops and more war in Afghanistan


why in god's name are these discredited, blood-thirsty hacks still getting prime op-ed space in the new york times...?
In addition to sending more soldiers, we must also increase our efforts to expand the Afghan security forces. It may be impossible to speed up the pace of building the Afghan National Army, but the current proposed end-strength of 134,000 troops is far too low. We should immediately commit to a goal of 250,000 troops for the army, and a substantial increase in the national police as well. Afghan troops also need lots of better equipment — everything from armored vehicles to night-vision goggles.


The key question for those who advocate pulling back is this: Where will we get the intelligence to direct the raids? If we have few troops on the ground, we will have to rely on intercepted communications. But seven years into the fight, the terrorists have learned a thing or two about keeping their communications secret. The only way to get the intelligence we need is from the residents, and they won’t provide it unless our troops stay in their villages to provide protection from Taliban retribution.

This struggle is not just about Afghanistan. It is also about tracking and effecting what is going on in Pakistan’s tribal areas. That is where the global Qaeda leadership is. It is the nexus of terrorist groups including the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is implicated in the Mumbai, India, attacks last November; the Tehreek Nifaz-e-Shariat Mohammadi, which now has control of the Swat region in Pakistan; and Baitullah Mehsud’s Pakistani Taliban, which are said to have plotted the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the former Pakistani prime minister.

From their positions across the border in Afghanistan, American forces can literally see these areas. They can also gather invaluable intelligence from, and spread our influence to, the tribes that straddle the frontier. But we get that vantage point only as long as we have something to offer the Afghans — security, improved quality of life, hope for a better government. If we abandon them, we will become blind to one of the most dangerous threats to our security, and also hand our most determined enemies an enormous propaganda victory — their biggest since 9/11.

Make no mistake: there is hard, costly fighting ahead in Afghanistan. But the fight is worth pursuing, and the odds of success are much better than they were in Iraq when we launched the forlorn hope known as the surge.

Max Boot is a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Frederick Kagan is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Kimberly Kagan is the president of the Institute for the Study of War.

good lord, please spare me... (special note to the nyt: please keep this crew the hell away from the op-ed page...)

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

Jon Stewart is spot on

jon stewart tells cnbc's cramer how it should have been...

spot on...

(thanks to daily kos...)

Labels: , , , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Nationalizing the Federal Reserve - an idea whose time has come

actually, the goddam institution should have never been created in the form it now exists and we've now been handed the perfect opportunity to make things right...
Ellen Hodgson Brown has a solution for you.

Nationalize the Federal Reserve.

The lawyer and author of The Web of Debt: The Shocking Truth About Our Money System And How We Can Break Free told the Lone Star Iconoclast that the idea is more American than apple pie, mom, and baseball.

"The government used to create the money in the 18th century before the American Revolution. It was a brilliant system. The American colonists printed their own money, and the people think it is the government that creates the money, but it’s not. Today, it’s banks," she explained.

Right now, the Federal Reserve is a corporate institution owned and controlled by private banks chartered to create money through a process of fractional reserve lending to themselves. Money is created when these private banks lend up to 10 times their debt deposits from the Federal Reserve to public and private institutions plus interest. This money (aka debt) is, therefore, created out of thin air.

By "nationalization," Brown means having Congress turn the Federal Reserve into the acting central bank of the United States that prints money interest free.


"They’re never going to change the system when everybody is doing well," she said. "Everybody is ready for change, so we have to scramble in and make sure that change turns out the right way and doesn’t go into fascism and police state."


Labels: , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

More troops to Afghanistan...? Nonsense...!


i'm about ready to make a fourth extended visit to afghanistan as part of my work as an organization development consultant working with business and professional organizations in that country... i just concluded a very successful intervention here in jordan where my colleagues and i assisted the leading members of the community and the local government in establishing the foundation for productive and on-going dialogue...

here's my point...

going in with a mindset that categorizes one set of people as "the enemy," an "enemy" that must be destroyed, is bound to fail... that very mindset contains the seeds of its own defeat... why...? because when one group is treated as a dangerous "enemy," it is only natural that they will rise to that expectation...

if you go in with the mindset that all stakeholders are human beings who only want what we all want - safety, security, a roof over their heads, food on the table, and the opportunity to live dignified lives together with their families in peace, it's absolutely amazing what can be accomplished...

the taliban may have, to our way of thinking, a too-rigid interpretation of their religious beliefs, but that doesn't mean they should be treated as some kind of diabolical force... i've had dealings with mujahedin and taliban commanders and they feel just as trapped as we do... they're sick and tired of the never-ending killing and destruction and they're just as much at a loss about how to break the cycle as we are... relying on military force as a solution will definitely NOT break the cycle...

i can guarantee you this... if the u.s. announced that it was committing to talking, to engaging in a serious dialogue to explore ways to bring all the parties together to bring peace in afghanistan, and that the afghans would be the ones who would take the lead in that process, there would be celebrations on the streets of kabul...

i'm glad to see that i'm not the only one thinking this way...

The administration won't be able to give a negotiated reconciliation real credence until it gets away from the perverse foreign policy thinking that couples diplomacy with military escalation. Stop listening to the same military experts who have cost our country hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of lives, and stop giving them promotion after promotion. Tom Engelhardt gets to the heart of this today in his discussion about the pervasive hawkishness in Washington. As it becomes clearer the crisis in Afghanistan cannot be solved militarily, then for God's sake, quit trying to solve it militarily! No one wants to eat a carrot after they've been beaten and bloodied by a big stick.


here's a video clip that essentially makes the same points...

Labels: , , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Charles Freeman withdraws his name because "the tactics of the Israel Lobby plumb the depths of dishonor and indecency"

juan cole posts charles freeman's entire withdrawal statement here...

a few of the more pungent passages...

I agreed to chair the NIC [National Intelligence Council] to strengthen it and protect it against politicization, not to introduce it to efforts by a special interest group to assert control over it through a protracted political campaign.


It is apparent that we Americans cannot any longer conduct a serious public discussion or exercise independent judgment about matters of great importance to our country as well as to our allies and friends.


The tactics of the Israel Lobby plumb the depths of dishonor and indecency and include character assassination, selective misquotation, the willful distortion of the record, the fabrication of falsehoods, and an utter disregard for the truth. The aim of this Lobby is control of the policy process through the exercise of a veto over the appointment of people who dispute the wisdom of its views, the substitution of political correctness for analysis, and the exclusion of any and all options for decision by Americans and our government other than those that it favors.

There is a special irony in having been accused of improper regard for the opinions of foreign governments and societies by a group so clearly intent on enforcing adherence to the policies of a foreign government – in this case, the government of Israel.


I regret that my willingness to serve the new administration has ended by casting doubt on its ability to consider, let alone decide what policies might best serve the interests of the United States rather than those of a Lobby intent on enforcing the will and interests of a foreign government.

unless and until the united states summons the political will and collective huevos to shake off the choke hold israel has on its foreign policy, there is precious little hope for mideast peace... it is truly shameful what we have allowed to be carried out with the help of our seemingly bottomless well of money and political support... the recent carnage in gaza is as much a litany of war crimes for the united states as it is for israel...

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

Change I can believe in: "I’m just not seeking happiness from material things anymore"

if this is where things are headed, i say woo-hoo... it's about goddam time...
“I think this economy was a good way to cure my compulsive shopping habit,” Maxine Frankel, 59, a high school teacher from Skokie, Ill., said as she longingly stroked a diaphanous black shawl at a shop in the nearby Chicago suburb of Glenview. “It’s kind of funny, but I feel much more satisfied with the things money can’t buy, like the well-being of my family. I’m just not seeking happiness from material things anymore.”

To many, the adjustment feels less like a temporary, emergency response than a permanent recalibration, one they view in terms of ethics rather than expediency.

“It’s kind of like we all went overboard,” said Sacha Taylor, a fixture on the charity circuit in [Atlanta], 33. “And we’re trying to get back to where we should have been.”

i can't tell you how long i've been waiting to see things like this in print...

Labels: , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

Monday, March 09, 2009

Here's some eye-popping home price data

courtesy of mish's global economic trend analysis...

first, the median house price decline over the past 12-41 months (depending on area) from the california association of realtors...

Click on image for larger version

now, the national picture covering 20 cities from case-shiller...

Click on image for larger version

wow...! (and that's all i've got to say...)

Labels: , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments