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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 08/16/2009 - 08/23/2009
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Friday, August 21, 2009

Lede to Krugman in the NYT: "There’s a growing sense among progressives that they have been duped by President Obama"

duped by obama...? uh, no shit... bait and switch is more like it... torture, indefinite detention, bailouts, toadying to republicans, obsessive dedication to bipartisanship when the opposition party is doing nothing but crapping down your throat... so far, obama is definitely the biggest disappointment in my soon-to-be 61 years...

paul krugman...

According to news reports, the Obama administration — which seemed, over the weekend, to be backing away from the “public option” for health insurance — is shocked and surprised at the furious reaction from progressives.

Well, I’m shocked and surprised at their shock and surprise.

A backlash in the progressive base — which pushed President Obama over the top in the Democratic primary and played a major role in his general election victory — has been building for months. The fight over the public option involves real policy substance, but it’s also a proxy for broader questions about the president’s priorities and overall approach.

[...]

[O]n such fraught questions as torture and indefinite detention, the president has dismayed progressives with his reluctance to challenge or change Bush administration policy.

And then there’s the matter of the banks.

I don’t know if administration officials realize just how much damage they’ve done themselves with their kid-gloves treatment of the financial industry, just how badly the spectacle of government supported institutions paying giant bonuses is playing. But I’ve had many conversations with people who voted for Mr. Obama, yet dismiss the stimulus as a total waste of money. When I press them, it turns out that they’re really angry about the bailouts rather than the stimulus — but that’s a distinction lost on most voters.

So there’s a growing sense among progressives that they have, as my colleague Frank Rich suggests, been punked. And that’s why the mixed signals on the public option created such an uproar.

[...]

But there’s a point at which realism shades over into weakness, and progressives increasingly feel that the administration is on the wrong side of that line. It seems as if there is nothing Republicans can do that will draw an administration rebuke: Senator Charles E. Grassley feeds the death panel smear, warning that reform will “pull the plug on grandma,” and two days later the White House declares that it’s still committed to working with him.

It’s hard to avoid the sense that Mr. Obama has wasted months trying to appease people who can’t be appeased, and who take every concession as a sign that he can be rolled.

it's official... i've just checked out of the hope hotel...

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Falsely raising security alert levels for political gain

from paul bedard's blog at u.s. news and world report via marcy -emptywheel - wheeler at firedoglake...

tom ridge, the first head of homeland security, has a book coming out september 1, The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege...and How We can be Safe Again...

he says...

...never invited to sit in on National Security Council meetings; was "blindsided" by the FBI in morning Oval Office meetings because the agency withheld critical information from him; found his urgings to block Michael Brown from being named head of the emergency agency blamed for the Hurricane Katrina disaster ignored; and was pushed to raise the security alert on the eve of President Bush's re-election, something he saw as politically motivated and worth resigning over.

once again, no surprises here...

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dribble,dribble, dribble... Slowly, very slowly, the truth trickles out...

and absolutely none of it in the least bit surprising...
C.I.A. Sought Blackwater’s Help in Plan to Kill Jihadists

The Central Intelligence Agency in 2004 hired outside
contractors from the private security contractor Blackwater
USA as part of a secret program to locate and assassinate top
operatives of Al Qaeda, according to current and former
government officials.

Executives from Blackwater, which has generated controversy
because of its aggressive tactics in Iraq, helped the spy
agency with planning, training and surveillance. The C.I.A.
spent several millions dollars on the program, which did not
capture or kill any terrorist suspects.

hey...! let's PRIVATIZE the assassination programs of our intelligence service... whaddaya say...?

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Great googley-moogley...! Are the Dems finally getting the message...?

the message that, given the maniacal, obsessed, scorched earth crowd that dares to call itself the party of abraham lincoln, "bipartisanship" is a praiseworthy but totally empty concept...? after eight years of the bush administration where the dems rolled over and exposed their vulnerable bellies and jugular veins to the rabid, frothing repub attack dogs, even with a democratic congressional majority since 2006, followed by a disgusting encore of the same pathetic behavior since january, behavior encouraged and, in fact, championed by none less than a democratic president, do ya s'pose our dems are FINALLY getting tired of being patsies in the repub puppet theater...?

from raw story...

The White House and congressional Democrats, fed up with a failed effort to woo Republican support, may proceed without the opposition party in passing comprehensive healthcare reform, reports signaled Wednesday.

Speaking to the New York Times, White House powerbroker and chief of staff Rahm Emanuel declared that the Republican party was standing in the way of progress. His remarks seem to mark a shift from more conciliatory language previously being used by the White House.

“The Republican leadership,” Emanuel quipped, “has made a strategic decision that defeating President Obama’s health care proposal is more important for their political goals than solving the health insurance problems that Americans face every day.”

Democrats can pass healthcare reform without Republicans using a rule that allows them to pass a measure with a simple majority, or 50 votes. This method was used to pass President George W. Bush’s tax cuts.

republicans...? fuck 'em, i say... let's try working for the common good of the american people... whaddaya say...?

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

50 top U.S. war criminals

from after downing street via david swanson at antemedius...

Compiled below, in hopes that it may be of some assistance to Eric Holder, John Conyers, Patrick Leahy, active citizens, foreign courts, the International Criminal Court, law firms preparing civil suits, and local or state prosecutors with decency and nerve is a list of 50 top living U.S. war criminals. These are men and women who helped to launch wars of aggression or who have been complicit in lesser war crimes. These are not the lowest-ranking employees or troops who managed to stray from official criminal policies. These are the makers of those policies.

The occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan have seen the United States target civilians, journalists, hospitals, and ambulances, use antipersonnel weapons including cluster bombs in densely settled urban areas, use white phosphorous as a weapon, use depleted uranium weapons, employ a new version of napalm found in Mark 77 firebombs, engage in collective punishment of Iraqi civilian populations -- including by blocking roads, cutting electricity and water, destroying fuel stations, planting bombs in farm fields, demolishing houses, and plowing down orchards -- detain people without charge or legal process without the rights of prisoners of war, imprison children, torture, and murder.

The list below does not include those responsible for war crimes prior to 2001. Nor does it include those currently in power who are making themselves complicit by failing to prosecute or cease commission of these crimes. The list could be greatly expanded. It could also be narrowed. I would argue, however, that it presents a more reasonable starting place than Holder's reported proposal to investigate only CIA employees who failed to comply with criminal torture policies, of whom there are no doubt more than 50.

Because each of the people on this list should be nonviolently protested everywhere they go (more on that below), I have organized them by location. Please post updates on where they are as comments at http://afterdowningstreet.org/warcriminals

CALIFORNIA

1. John Yoo: Professor of Law at Boalt Hall School of Law in Berkeley, California, with house at 1241 Grizzly Peak Blvd., Berkeley, (but a lawyer with the Pennsylvania bar from which he should be disbarred and would be if enough people demanded it) counseled the White House on how to get away with war crimes, wrote this memo promoting presidential power to launch aggressive war, and claimed the power to decree that the federal statutes against torture, assault, maiming, and stalking do not apply to the military in the conduct of the war, and to announce a new definition of torture limiting it to acts causing intense pain or suffering equivalent to pain associated with serious physical injury so severe that death, organ failure or permanent damage resulting in loss of significant body functions will likely result. Yoo claimed in 2005 that a president has the right to enhance an interrogation by crushing the testicles of someone's child. Yoo has been confronted in his classroom: video, and defended by the Washington Post, and again confronted in the classroom.

Additional collaborators:

2. Robert J. Delahunty, Yoo colleague, should be disbarred in NY

3. Patrick F. Philbin, Yoo colleague, Deputy, should be disbarred in D.C. and MA

4. Jay Bybee: federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, headquartered in San Francisco, California (but Bybee based in Las Vegas), counseled the White House on how to get away with war crimes, including by helping Yoo draft the memo linked above. He signed not only torture memos but also a memo purporting to legalize illegal and unconstitutional wars. BYBEE SHOULD BE IMPEACHED. He works, among other places, at the James R. Browning Courthouse, 95 7th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103, -- This is a giant marble building in the center of the city represented in Congress by the Speaker of the House.

5. William J. "Jim" Haynes, II: was General Counsel to the Department of War ("Defense"). He is now Chief Corporate Counsel at the Chevron Corporate Office in San Ramon, California. He counseled the White House on how to get away with war crimes, including by drafting memos for Yoo. Works at Chevron Headquarters, 6001 Bollinger Canyon Road, San Ramon, CA 94583. Member of bar in GA, NC, DC.

More collaborators:

6. Major General (Ret.) Michael E. Dunlavey, (now Judge, Erie County Court, Common Pleas, Erie, PA

7. Diane Beaver, top military lawyer at Gitmo

8. Jack Landman Goldsmith, III, [the illegal transfer memo in March 2004], DoD General Counsel's Office at Pentagon

9. Ms. Eliana Davidson, International Law Division, Office of the General Counsel, Office of the Secretary of "Defense"

10. Colin Powell: strategic limited partner with Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm, appears as a speaker in a series of motivational events called Get Motivated, board member of Revolution Health and of the Council on Foreign Relations, took part in White House meetings personally overseeing and approving torture by authorizing the use of specific torture techniques including waterboarding on specific people, lied to the United Nations about the grounds for war in a failed attempt to legalize a war of aggression, and was in fact a leading liar in making the false case for an illegal war of aggression.

Remember: Not every man in a dark suit is a war criminal. Check for blood under their fingernails to confirm identification.

NEW YORK

11. Henry Kissinger: lives in Kent, Connecticut, and works at Kissinger Associates, 350 Park Avenue, New York, N.Y., had a resume envied by other war criminals long before he advised George W. Bush to commit war crimes. Here's a partial list of his crimes.

12. Nicholas E. Calio: Citigroup's Executive Vice-President for Global Government Affairs served as a member of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) which planned the marketing of an illegal war of aggression on the basis of lies.

13. Michael Mukasey: works in New York, N.Y. Some of his crimes are detailed at DisbarTortureLawyers.com.

TEXAS

14. George W. Bush: lives at 10141 Daria Place, Dallas, Texas. His crimes are described at http://afterdowningstreet.org/bush and at War Criminals Watch and at The 13 people who made torture possible.

15. Karen Hughes: lives in Austin, Texas, served as a member of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) which planned the marketing of an illegal war of aggression on the basis of lies.

16. Paul Bremmer lives in Chester, Vermont, and also works in Austin, Texas. His crimes are listed at War Criminals Watch.

Yes, a woman can be a war criminal. What? Did you think any of the men above ever risked personally breaking a fingernail?

WASHINGTON, D.C.

17. Dick Cheney: The former vice president lives nextdoor to CIA headquarters at 1126 Chain Bridge Road, McLean, Va. His crimes are documented at http://impeachcheney.org and at The 13 people who made torture possible and at War Criminals Watch.

18. John Rizzo: The General Counsel for the CIA (then and now) works nextdoor to Dick Cheney's house at the headquarters of the CIA in McLean, Va. His crimes are described in The 13 people who made torture possible.

More collaborators:

19. Robert Eatinger, CIA lawyer

20. Steven Hermes, CIA's National Clandestine Service (NCS)

21. Paul Kelbaugh, Deputy Legal Counsel, CTC, CIA

22. Steven Bradbury: also of McLean, Va., is described along with his crimes at SourceWatch, DisbarTortureLawyers.com, and The 13 people who made torture possible.

23. David Addington: was chief of staff to Dick Cheney in Washington, D.C., counseled the White House on how to get away with war crimes, including by helping Yoo draft the memo linked above, and drafted signing statements for Bush declaring the right to violate laws redundantly banning war crimes including torture and the construction of permanent bases in Iraq and efforts to control Iraq's oil. Lives at 103 W Maple Street, Alexandria, VA 22301-2605 -- This is a few blocks from the King Street Metro Stop.

24. Condoleezza Rice: served as Secretary of State in Washington, D.C., and can be found frequenting shoe stores, served as a member of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) which planned the marketing of an illegal war of aggression on the basis of lies, took part in White House meetings personally overseeing and approving torture by authorizing the use of specific torture techniques including waterboarding on specific people, lied about mushroom clouds, and was in fact a leading liar in making the false case for an illegal war of aggression.

25. Donald Rumsfeld: lives in Washington, D.C., and at former slave-beating plantation "Mount Misery" on Maryland's Eastern Shore near St. Michael's and a home belonging to Dick Cheney, as well as at an estate outside Taos, New Mexico. He took part in White House meetings personally overseeing and approving torture by authorizing the use of specific torture techniques including waterboarding on specific people, and was in fact a leading liar in making the false case for an illegal war of aggression, and pushed for wars of aggression for years as a participant in the Project for the New American Century.

26. George Tenet: Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., took part in White House meetings personally overseeing and approving torture by authorizing the use of specific torture techniques including waterboarding on specific people, oversaw the Central Intelligence Agency as it engaged in illegal renditions, detentions, torture, murder, and coverups of crimes, as well as helping to build a false case for an illegal war of aggression.

27. John Ashcroft: has his own lobbying company through which to profit from his government connections: The Ashcroft Group, LLC, 1399 New York Avenue, N.W., Suite 950, Washington, DC 20005, Phone: 202.942.0202, Fax: 202.942.0216, info@ashcroftgroupllc.com took part in White House meetings personally overseeing and approving torture by authorizing the use of specific torture techniques including waterboarding on specific people.

28. Alberto Gonzales: has hired a criminal-defense lawyer George Terwilliger, partner at White & Case, to defend him, while others have created a trust fund to help pay for his legal expenses, meanwhile Gonzales has been unable to find work as a lawyer himself, so his income comes from speaking engagements, then White House counsel, wrote a memo on January 25, 2002. It explained that under the 1996 War Crimes Act, U.S. officials might be prosecuted for violating the Geneva Conventions for actions in Afghanistan (and future parts of the "war on terror"), with penalties up to and including death. He suggested that Bush declare that the Taliban and Al Qaeda weren't covered by Geneva, to be on the safe side. Bush did so. Gonzo now has a job at Texas Tech, but not teaching law. Help this effort to boot him! Remember that we drove him out of office by almost impeaching him.

29. Paul Wolfowitz: lives in Chevey Chase, Maryland, and is a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., advocated illegal war of aggression, and pushed for wars of aggression for years as a participant in the Project for a New American Century.

30. Doug Feith: serves on the faculty of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., as a Professor and Distinguished Practitioner in National Security Policy, manufactured, cherry picked, and distorted information, and pressured others to do the same, to help build a false case for an illegal war of aggression, and advocated early and openly for an illegal war of aggression against a "non-al qaeda target." Also works at Hudson Institute, 1015 15th Street, N.W., 6th Floor, Washington, DC 20005, three blocks from the White House.

31. Elliot Abrams: served as Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy in Washington, D.C., and wherever he can do the most damage around the world, was a well-established war criminal even before he pushed for wars of aggression for years as a participant in the Project for a New American Century, helped to build a false case for attacking Iraq, and supported a failed coup attempt in Venezuela.

32. Karl Rove: owns million dollar houses in Washington, D.C., and Florida, and works for Fox News, Newsweek, and the Wall Street Journal when not testifying to congressional committees or federal prosecutors about his numerous unindicted non-war crimes. He served as a member of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) which planned the marketing of an illegal war of aggression on the basis of lies, and took part in exposing an undercover agent as retribution for exposing one of WHIG's lies.

(According to Star80 at DemocraticUnderground, Rove "can be found stuffing his fat pasty little face with crab meat at Cafe 30A in Santa Rosa Beach FL: http://www.cafethirtya.com - 3899 East County Highway 30A Santa Rosa Beach FL 32459.")

(Citizens arrest of Rove attempted in Iowa, and in California, and in New York.)

33. I. Lewis Libby: lives in McLean, Virginia, and has been disbarred in Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania, served as a member of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) which planned the marketing of an illegal war of aggression on the basis of lies, took part in exposing an undercover agent as retribution for exposing one of WHIG's lies, has already been convicted of obstruction of justice for interfering with investigation, and pushed for wars of aggression for years as a participant in the Project for a New American Century.

34. Mary Matalin: married to James Carville, both of them addicted to Washington, D.C., served as a member of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) which planned the marketing of an illegal war of aggression on the basis of lies.

35. Stephen Hadley: served as National Security Advisor to the President in Washington, D.C., served as a member of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) which planned the marketing of an illegal war of aggression on the basis of lies, and took part in exposing an undercover agent as retribution for exposing one of WHIG's lies.

36. James R. Wilkinson: worked for Bush as Deputy National Security Advisor for Communications in Washington, D.C., served as a member of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) which planned the marketing of an illegal war of aggression on the basis of lies.

37. John Bolton: lives in Bethesda, Maryland, is a member of a Lutheran Church, works for the law firm Kirkland and Ellis LLP, 655 Fifteenth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005-5793, T: +1 202-879-5000, F: +1 202-879-5200, is associated with the American Enterprise Institute, Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, Institute of East-West Dynamics, National Rifle Association, US Commission on International Religious Freedom, and the Council for National Policy, helped to launch an illegal war of aggression by disseminating false claims through the State Department while he was under-secretary of state for arms control, and pushed for wars of aggression for years as a participant in the Project for a New American Century.

38. Michael Chertoff: works in Washington, D.C. Some of his crimes are detailed at DisbarTortureLawyers.com.

39. Timothy Flanigan: works in Washington, D.C. Some of his crimes are detailed at DisbarTortureLawyers.com.

40. Alice Fisher: works in Washington, D.C. Some of her crimes are detailed at DisbarTortureLawyers.com.

41. John Bellinger works in Washington, D.C. His crimes are listed at War Criminals Watch.

42. John Negroponte works in Washington, D.C. His crimes are listed at War Criminals Watch.

43. Jonathan Fredman was a top torture lawyer under John Rizzo at the CIA: details.

44. Scott Muller was general counsel at the CIA: details.

45. Kyle D. "Dusty" Foggo was instrumental in setting up illegal secret prisons.

NEBRASKA:

46. Andrew Card works in Omaha, NE. His crimes are listed at War Criminals Watch.

AFGHANISTAN:

47. Stanley McChrystal has been promoted as reward for his war crimes.

UNKNOWN LOCATION:

48. James Mitchell:

From The 13 people who made torture possible:

Even while Addington, Gonzales and the lawyers were beginning to build the legal framework for torture, a couple of military psychologists were laying out the techniques the military would use. James Mitchell, a retired military psychologist, had been a leading expert in the military's SERE program. In December 2001, with his partner, Bruce Jessen, Mitchell reverse-engineered SERE techniques to be used to interrogate detainees. Then, in the spring of 2002, before OLC gave official legal approval to torture, Mitchell oversaw Abu Zubaydah's interrogation. An FBI agent on the scene describes Mitchell overseeing the use of "borderline torture." And after OLC approved waterboarding, Mitchell oversaw its use in ways that exceeded the guidelines in the OLC memo. Under Mitchell's guidance, interrogators used the waterboard with "far greater frequency than initially indicated" -- a total of 183 times in a month for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and 83 times in a month for Abu Zubaydah.

More on Mitchell and Jessen.

49. Tommy Franks: His crimes are listed at War Criminals Watch.

50. Michael Hayden: His crimes are listed at War Criminals Watch.

Heck, let's make it a full deck of 52, by including Bruce Jessen mentioned above and Erik Prince of Blackwater.


it's a start...

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Let's make our troops into cyborgs that can shake off that annoying malaise after killing people

ya know, sometimes i read stuff that just makes my head explode...

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The Army plans to require that all 1.1 million of its soldiers take intensive training in emotional resiliency, military officials say.

The training, the first of its kind in the military, is meant to improve performance in combat and head off the mental health problems, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide, that plague about one-fifth of troops returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.

didja ever think that maybe mental health problems, depression, ptsd and suicide are nature's way of telling us that maybe we shouldn't engage in destruction, war and socially sanctioned mass slaughter...?

oh, and what the hell does "emotional resilience" mean anyway...? being able to take in the sight of a child's body dismembered by a bomb blast and then have a heart-warming conversation with the wife and kids back home that evening...? witnessing physical and emotional carnage for 15 months and going back to the states and coaching the little league baseball team...?

i think what we're trying for here are cyborgs not human beings...

A cyborg is a cybernetic organism (i.e., an organism that has both artificial and natural systems).

[...]

Real (as opposed to fictional) cyborgs are more frequently people who use cybernetic technology to repair or overcome the physical and mental constraints of their bodies.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Barack Obama is merely upholding tradition

john pilger speaking on the 4th of july in san francisco...

from axis of logic via antemedius...

Since 1945, by deed and by example, the US has overthrown 50 governments, including democracies, crushed some 30 liberation movements and supported tyrannies from Egypt to Guatemala (see William Blum's histories). Bombing is apple pie. Having stacked his government with warmongers, Wall Street cronies and polluters from the Bush and Clinton eras, the 45th president is merely upholding tradition. The hearts and minds farce I witnessed in Vietnam is today repeated in villages in Afghanistan and, by proxy, Pakistan, which are Obama's wars.

In his acceptance speech for the 2005 Nobel Prize for Literature, Harold Pinter noted that "everyone knew that terrible crimes had been committed by the Soviet Union in the postwar period, but "US crimes in the same period have been only superficially recorded, let alone documented, let alone acknowledged, let alone recognised as crimes at all". It is as if "It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening, it wasn't happening . . . You have to hand it to America . . . masquerading as a force for universal good. It's a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis."

so...? what's to be done...?

again, john pilger...

I once asked a friend, the great American war correspondent and humanitarian Martha Gellhorn, to explain the term to me. "I'll tell you what 'anti-American' is," she said. "It's what governments and their vested interests call those who honour America by objecting to war and the theft of resources and believing in all of humanity. There are millions of these anti-Americans in the United States. They are ordinary people who belong to no elite and who judge their government in moral terms, though they would call it common decency. They are not vain. They are the people with a wakeful conscience, the best of America's citizens. They can be counted on. They were in the South with the civil rights movement, ending slavery. They were in the streets, demanding an end to the wars in Asia. Sure, they disappear from view now and then, but they are like seeds beneath the snow. I would say they are truly exceptional."

here's a 32-minute video clip of pilger that tells most of the story...

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People who live in glass houses...

do you suppose a statement that israel is a secular state will be forthcoming...?

israeli ambassador to the u.s. michael oren on cnn via think progress:

The Iranian regime is not a secular regime. The Iranian regime is carrying out what they believe to be a divinely ordained task on the planet, and that is the conduct of a holy war.

hasn't israel's position all along been that it wants recognition from other countries as a "jewish" state...? hmmmmmmm...?

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

The rich are different from you and me

no kidding... they have a TON more money, like HALF of all of it...

from raw story...

The wealthiest 10 percent of Americans now have a larger share of total income than they ever have in records going back nearly a century — an even larger amount than during the Roaring Twenties, the last time the US saw such similar disparities in wealth.

In recent years, the fact that differences between rich and poor are the greatest they’ve been since the Great Depression has become a popular talking point among liberal-leaning economists.

But an updated study (PDF) from University of California-Berkeley economist Emanuel Saez shows that, in 2007, the wealth disparity grew to its highest number on record, based on US tax data going back to 1917.

According to Saez’s study, which Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman drew attention to at his New York Times blog, the top 10 percent of earners in America now receive nearly 50 percent of all the income earned in the United States, a higher percentage than they did during the 1920s.

and ya know what...? the recession hasn't disturbed this trend one tiny bit...

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Worker-owned and operated factories score a victory in ... ARGENTINA!

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after cranking out the previous pretty uniformly gloomy post about argentina, i just so happened to run across the following, an article about a notable victory in the on-going battle of argentina workers for some justice and a bit of self-determination in the face of the horrendous abuses of the wave of privatization and summary firings that took place in the late 90s and early 00s...

The workers at Argentina's occupied ceramics factory, FASINPAT (Factory Without a Boss), won a major victory this week: the factory now definitively belongs to the people in legal terms. The provincial legislature voted in favor of expropriating the ceramics factory and handing it over to the workers cooperative to manage legally and indefinitely. Since 2001, the workers at Zanon have fought for legal recognition of worker control at Latin America's largest ceramics factory which has created jobs, spearheaded community projects, supported social movements world-wide and shown the world that workers don't need bosses.

[...]

FASINPAT has operated under worker control since 2001 when Zanon's owners decided to close its doors and fire the workers without paying months of back pay or severance pay. Leading up to the massive layoffs and plant's closure, workers went on strike in 2000. The owner, Luis Zanon, with over 75 million dollars in debt to public and private creditors (including the World Bank for over 20 million dollars), fired en masse most of the workers and closed the factory in 2001-a bosses' lockout. In October 2001, workers declared the plant under worker control. The workers subsequently camped outside the factory for four months, pamphleteering and partially blocking a highway leading to the capital city of Neuquén. While the workers were camping outside the factory, a court ruled that the employees could sell off remaining stock. After the stock ran out, on March 2, 2002, the workers' assembly voted to start up production without a boss. Since the occupation, the workers renamed the factory FASINPAT (Factory without a Boss).

i tried to figure out the acronym FASINPAT and could only come up with "fabrica" (factory) "sin" (without) "patron" (patron?)...

when i was the general manager for the operations of an airline at a small airport, i used to tell the 34 folks who worked for me that they were perfectly capable of running things without a manager, ergo without me... steeped as they were in the u.s. form of patriarchal, authoritarian management, they simply couldn't imagine NOT having a manager... sigh...

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Stubborn Argentina continues to shoot itself in the foot

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honest to god... i LOVE that country but, fercryinoutloud, they desperately need to figure out how to get their ducks in a row... argentina has about as much potential both people and natural resource-wise as any country in the world but they also have this unparalleled ability to screw things up for themselves... here's a few samples of recent mostly unpleasant news... (yes, the post is a bit long but i'm making up for lost time... HA...!)

one year ago, the argentine government decided to re-nationalize the national airline, aerolíneas argentinas... it had been sold a number of years ago to the spanish firm, marsans, which, in typical privatization fashion, had operated it as a cash cow while letting everything deteriorate to unacceptable standards without investing a single peso in modernization, leaving a once proud carrier to become the butt of airline industry jokes...

and now...?

Argentina’s re-nationalized flag air carrier Aerolíneas Argentinas lost in July 48 million US dollars which is “a little bit more” than the same month a year ago when the company belonged to the Spanish tourism group Marsans, according to the company’s current CEO Mariano Recalde.

[...]

“In June 2008 revenue was 90 million US dollars and this year 50 million USD”, said Recalde adding that “June and July are the worst months for airlines in the southern hemisphere”, plus the fact that this year “we had a dramatic drop in winter tourism because of the A/H1N1 virus flu”.

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The July loss “just above 48 million USD” and an average red of “33 million USD” admitted by CEO Recalde, with average revenue of 50 million USD in June, are indicating that income is only covering between 50 and 60% of costs.

Nevertheless Recalde insisted in his optimism in the future of the company since “under government management all indicators of Aerolíneas have improved significantly”. He added that when the crisis “which is hitting all airlines of the world is over, revenue is going to increase considerably”
.
yeah, well, of course the airline was hit by the global economic downturn and the swine flu panic, but let's hope one of these days soon it can at least recover some of its dignity...

another big dynamic in argentina is that people simply do not trust their government... in fact, they don't even trust each other which, in my view, is simply an extension of the former... and is it any wonder...?

Workers at the government's National Institute of Statistics call it crass manipulation: Their agency, under pressure from above, altered socioeconomic data to reflect numbers palatable to the presidency. Inflation and poverty miraculously dropped, they said in interviews, and the economy boomed.

At least officially.

"They just erased the real numbers," said Luciano Belforte, an 18-year veteran at the institute. "Reality did not matter."

The alleged manipulation, which is under investigation by anti-corruption prosecutors, has angered Argentines. But in a globalized world, where a pensioner in Italy might be as likely to invest in Argentina as in Fiat, the suspected modifications are being felt far beyond this city.

[...]

Economists say the official inflation rate of 8.5 percent in 2007 was really about 25 percent. In the 12 months ended this June, the INDEC put the rate at 5.3 percent, but economists say it might be three times higher. Argentina's vaunted economic growth this decade might have been exaggerated, too. Credit Suisse said the 7 percent expansion the government reported last year is likely 2 to 3 percent lower.

[...]

The controversy has raised questions about the government's official poverty figure. The INDEC's calculation is 15.3 percent; the Catholic Church says it is closer to 40 percent. After Pope Benedict XVI called poverty in Argentina a "scandal" this month, the government acknowledged that as many as 23 percent of Argentines might be poor.

so, guess what that massive lack of people's trust in their government has led to... check this out...
Argentina’s flight of capital remains steady having reached 5.5 billion US dollars in the second quarter of the year, 11.2 billion in the first half and 43.1 billion US dollars since the second quarter of 2007, when the first signs of the global crisis, according to the latest data from the Argentine Central Bank.

However it has been below the peaks of the second quarter of 2008, when the farmers’ conflict with the Argentine government was at its highest point and at the end of last year when the Kirchner administration took over the private pensions’ savings funds.

The Central Bank also points out that some of the flight has been into hard currency deposits and “local corporations are using those funds to pay for the running of their businesses but from foreign accounts”.

Local economists point out that the deterioration of fiscal accounts, particularly the budget, and the possibility of a faster devaluation to help compensate the lack of revenue is making savers and companies put their monies in hard currency.

[...]

[E]conomics analyst centre Prefinex also believes that people fear the government will begin printing money to cover the fiscal deficit, which leads to a devaluation of the Peso and capital flight.

Econviews points out that the link between capital flight and a poor fiscal situation also worked inversely: lack of confidence encouraged capital flight which then generated less activity, less revenue and less fiscal abundance.

and it ain't only money that's leaving the country... here's some amazing statistics...
Over 800.000 Argentines left the country following the 2001 economic debacle, according to the latest report from the International Organization for Migration, which in the last decade represents 2.1% of total population.

[...]

Reference data shows that at the beginning of the XXth century an estimated 4.2 million immigrants from Italy, Spain, France and other European countries reached Argentina, but following a few years half of them returned. This means 2.2 million effectively remained in Argentina, which means that the exodus of the beginning of this century is equivalent to almost a third of that early last century massive influx.

However the latest data does not include the Argentines that have been forced to return because of the latest global economic crisis which has hit particularly hard Italy, Spain and the United States.

[...]

The local impact of this qualified emigration has been suffered by the Argentine private sector which has been forced to capacitate personnel and contract staff that can be reconverted.

how sad...

at least there's one bright spot...

Argentina paid creditors a total of 2.25 billion dollars on government-issued debt Monday, as it sought to shed the last vestiges of its 2001 default and return to the financial mainstream. Economy Minister Amado Boudou said the payment, or coupon, had been made to holders of dollar-denominated Boden 2012 bonds—meeting a debt obligation that aims to boost confidence.

"The coupon corresponding to Boden 2012 has been paid," said Boudou, adding that the country would now seek a return to global capital markets before the end of the year.

Argentina has been excluded from these markets since December 2001, when the country suffered an economic collapse wiping out personal savings, shredding government finances and prompting Buenos Aires to default on its debt.

In 2005 Argentina restructured its defaulted debt but there are still an estimated 20 billion dollars in holdouts plus a pending debt to the Paris Club of lenders of 6.5 billion. The country’s debt currently stands at 145 billion US dollars, plus the standing demands.

The Boden 2012 bond was issued in 2002 to compensate creditors who found access to their capital blocked during the 2001 freeze on bank withdrawals. It is estimated 65% of the bond issue is held outside Argentina and 35% locally.

i've been back in the u.s. since the end of may - too long... i'm getting itchy feet and my compass needle is pointing right at buenos aires where there will be signs of spring a'springin' within the next few weeks... unfortunately, it's likely i will be heading east to the balkans and back to afghanistan before i can once again enjoy the company of porteños...

like i say, i love argentina and the argentines but i sure wish they could figure out how to get their act together...

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