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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 10/18/2009 - 10/25/2009
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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Billionaires for Wealthcare - Public Option Annie

great stuff...

AHIP is the powerful insurance lobby that spends 5 million dollars a week trying to kill health care reform. Billionaires for Wealthcare is a grassroots network looking to stop them - with song.

• AHIP and other insurance and HMO interests spend nearly $5 million per week undermining real health care reform, including a public option.

• AHIP has resorted to out-right lying and scare tactics to block health care reform. They sent letters that lie to seniors about what health care reform means for Medicare, and they issued a report on the costs of health care reform legislation that is so misleading even the reports embarrassed authors distanced themselves from the way AHIP used their work.

• Every year, 45,000 people die because they cant get access to the health care they need. Yet AHIP continues to stand in the way of health care reform that would provide coverage to millions of Americans because the industry is more concerned with protecting profits than saving lives.

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Grayson tells a bit of Dick Cheney truth

grayson only says what i have been saying for a long, long time... dick cheney is devil spawn...
Speaking on Hardball, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) denounced Cheney's attacks on President Barack Obama, who posited that Obama was "dithering" in failing to endorse a troop surge.

"I have trouble listening to what he says sometimes, because of the blood that drips from his teeth while he's talking," Grayson quipped. "But my response is this: He's just angry because the president doesn't shoot old men in the face. But by the way, when he was done speaking, did he just then turn into a bat and fly away?"

Matthews, somewhat aghast, replied: "Oh God -- we gotta keep a level here. Let me ask you this: Don't you have any Republican friends?"

Grayson laughed.

if grayson was referring to anyone else, such a statement could possibly have been construed as an insult... with cheney, however...

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Afghanistan earthquake


i went to a going-away party on thursday night and, as is my wont, came back early to hit the sack... i was awakened by the entire guesthouse shaking which was then followed by a heavy jolt... it was clear just from the feel of it that, had it been a few notches stronger, there would have very likely been structural damage... i heard my colleagues buzzing about in the hall but, as is also my wont, when i didn't feel any more temblors, just rolled over and went back to sleep... i don't mean to appear blasé, but i guess i am, so much so, in fact, that i didn't even think to look up the news story until this morning...
A strong earthquake centered in the towering Hindu Kush mountains shook a wide area of eastern Afghanistan and Pakistan early Friday, swaying buildings in the Afghan and Pakistani capitals.

There were no initial reports of damage or casualties from the quake, which struck about 12:21 a.m. Afghan time (3:51 p.m. EDT Thursday). However, the temblor was centered in a remote mountain area where communications are poor and reports of casualties would take time to reach the capital.

The earthquake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.2 and was centered in the mountains about 167 miles northeast of Kabul and 140 miles west of Mingaora, Pakistan, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Buildings shook in the Pakistani cities of Peshawar and Islamabad, the capital, and the quake was felt as far east as Lahore near the Indian border, Pakistani television stations reported.

The Afghan Interior Ministry said it had no immediate reports of deaths or damage.

the epicenter was supposedly in the afghanistan province of badakshan near the city of faisabad...

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Abu Ghraib - truth-telling and its consequences

courtesy of consortium news...
Editor’s Note: On Thursday night, former Army Sgt. Sam Provance received a letter of commendation from Common Cause – signed by former President Jimmy Carter and 15,000 others – for his “uncommon courage in defending the rule of law and standing up against torture.”

In 2004, Provance was the only uniformed military intelligence officer at Abu Ghraib who broke the code of silence and challenged the Bush administration’s insistence that the grotesque prison abuses were simply the work of a few “bad apples.”

After military policeman Joseph Darby turned over the infamous Abu Ghraib photographs to investigators, Provance spoke out about the role of intelligence officers and other higher-ups in encouraging the humiliation and torture of prisoners. He gave statements to the Army’s internal investigation, at a congressional hearing and to the press.

For his brave integrity, Provance was punished, threatened with a court martial and pushed out of the military. Since then, Provance has faced severe financial and family pressures, struggling to find work that pays enough for him to meet child support obligations and other basic needs.

So, when Provance accepted Common Cause’s commendation, it was a bittersweet moment that illuminated the grim reality of trying to tell important truths in this American era:

I wish I could share with you a “success” story as a result of my being a “whistle-blower,” but the reality of things simply do not presently allow it.

I admit to you that at one time I did believe that my life would eventually turn for the better, in spite of it all, especially fighting under the banners of “doing right,” “standing up for others” and “speaking the truth.”

But it has been a very long and arduous path I have found myself upon with no end in sight. Rather than a karmic “good” winning in the end over “the forces of evil,” I have experienced what I feel like is a slow and intimate wrath in response to my actions.

However, I have sometimes thought perhaps it has been best. Perhaps I might have grown enthralled with the ensuing drama or seduced by the attention garnered. But I have been humbled many times and kept humble nonetheless.

Others I have seen in this and other scandals took the bribes of some media or gave in to others' insinuations that they embellish their testimony for a better “copy.” Still others got lost in drugs or, more tragically, had mental breakdowns under the unique stress.

Their efforts in this regard were effectively sabotaged, losing their credibility, if not their lives.

Perhaps I could have much to gain from indulging in the spotlight or kill a lot of the pain in the fantasies of inebriation, but I know that if what I have said or done is to maintain its meaning – what I have been sacrificing so much for – I have to stay true. I have to stay the course.

I realized that one cannot allow others to take away their credibility or the integrity of the act itself, otherwise, all will be for naught. Sometimes, as in my case, my credibility is all I have left.

i don't think it takes being a whistleblower to fully appreciate what provance is experiencing... a lot of us have been working for many years to tell the truth - at least the truth as we see it - and have felt like voices crying in the wilderness... all we can do is keep on keepin' on...

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You have accepted things you would not have accepted five years ago, a year ago, things your father . . . could never have imagined

i've posted this before but somehow, today, reading it again at information clearing house, it seems pertinent once again...
"What no one seemed to notice. . . was the ever widening gap. . .between the government and the people. . . And it became always wider. . . the whole process of its coming into being, was above all diverting, it provided an excuse not to think for people who did not want to think anyway . . . (it) gave us some dreadful, fundamental things to think about . . .and kept us so busy with continuous changes and 'crises' and so fascinated . . . by the machinations of the 'national enemies,' without and within, that we had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us. . .

Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, 'regretted,' that unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these 'little measures'. . . must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. . . .Each act. . . is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join you in resisting somehow.

You don't want to act, or even talk, alone. . . you don't want to 'go out of your way to make trouble.' . . .But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That's the difficulty. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves, when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. . . .You have accepted things you would not have accepted five years ago, a year ago, things your father. . . could never have imagined." :

Milton Mayer, They Thought They Were Free, The Germans, 1938-45 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1955)

i'm not posting this because it's how i see the whole of our current reality... i think the direction mayer describes is very much the world our handlers are trying very hard to create, but i also think there's a countervailing trend that, bit by bit, is banishing such darkness, and it's that trend that i choose to spend my active energy on... that doesn't mean, however, that we should adopt a pollyanna viewpoint or put our heads in the sand, but it does mean that, in continuing to be aware of the dark, we don't spend our time reinforcing it by succumbing to fear and hate...

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Sibel Edmonds story picked up by

besides the articles from last year in the uk times (i've posted extensively on sibel - see here for the full list), this is some of the first exposure edmonds has gotten in the u.s. from other than weblogs and alternative news media, altho' i'm not sure exactly qualifies as "traditional" news media...


In sworn testimony to attorneys on Aug. 8, Sibel Edmonds described a Pentagon where key personnel helped pass defense secrets to foreign agents or provided them names of knowledgeable officials who were vulnerable to blackmail or co-option.

And firmly rooted in this espionage program in the 1990s, according to Edmonds’ deposition, were two men who, with the election of George W. Bush as president in 2000, found themselves in the Pentagon: Douglas Feith, who would head the Office of Special Plans, and Richard Perle, who would become chairman of the Defense Advisory Board.

"They were 100 percent directly involved," Edmonds told "They were not in the Pentagon [in the late 1990s] but they had their people inside the Pentagon." One of those people, she said, was Larry Franklin, an Air Force officer assigned to the Office of Special Plans who, in 2003, passed classified information to representatives of the American Israel Public Affairs Office, or AIPAC. By then Feith was leading the OSP.

Edmonds cautioned that she does not know if these practices are continuing, since she was fired by the FBI in April 2002 after pressing for an investigation into an attempt by a colleague to recruit her for an organization that was itself a target of FBI surveillance.

Perle, today a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and board member for or adviser to other think tanks, including the National Institute for Neareast Affairs and the Center for Security Policy, emphatically denied Edmonds’ claims in an interview with

“This woman is a nutcase. Certifiable,” Perle said. “She makes wild accusations. She was fired from her job, and has been on a vendetta against … imagined demons ever since.”

Feith, in an email to, said: “What I’ve read on the Internet about Ms. Edmonds’s claims about me is wildly false and bizarre.”

"wild accusations"...
"imagined demons"...
"wildly false"...

interesting terms from two of the most vicious neocon nuts to ever fall from the wingnut tree...

edmonds obviously knows something of value or she wouldn't have been slapped with a "state secrets" gag order after her firing... she also has a very credible corroborator who is still working in the system...

One of Edmonds’ believers is John M. Cole, a former FBI counterintelligence analyst and author of “While America Sleeps: An FBI Whistleblower's Story.” Cole, who worked for the bureau 18 years and now works for the Defense Intelligence Agency at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., said the pattern of espionage described by Edmonds is familiar to him.

“In the 1990s I was responsible for Western Europe and Israel [counterintelligence cases],” Cole told “We did have ongoing investigations of officials in the State Department and also the Department of Defense.” And he said cases did extend outside the Pentagon, to various Air Force Bases and the RAND Corp. – something Edmonds also stated in her testimony.

one of these days, this is going to pop open like the festering sore it is, preferably sooner than later...

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Michael Moore's call to action

not bad...


It's the #1 question I'm constantly asked after people see my movie: "OK -- so NOW what can I DO?!"

You want something to do? Well, you've come to the right place! 'Cause I got 15 things you and I can do right now to fight back and try to fix this very broken system.

Here they are:


1. Declare a moratorium on all home evictions. Not one more family should be thrown out of their home. The banks must adjust their monthly mortgage payments to be in line with what people's homes are now truly worth -- and what they can afford. Also, it must be stated by law: If you lose your job, you cannot be tossed out of your home.

2. Congress must join the civilized world and expand Medicare For All Americans. A single, nonprofit source must run a universal health care system that covers everyone. Medical bills are now the #1 cause of bankruptcies and evictions in this country. Medicare For All will end this misery. The bill to make this happen is called H.R. 3200. You must call AND write your members of Congress and demand its passage, no compromises allowed.

3. Demand publicly-funded elections and a prohibition on elected officials leaving office and becoming lobbyists. Yes, those very members of Congress who solicit and receive millions of dollars from wealthy interests must vote to remove ALL money from our electoral and legislative process. Tell your members of Congress they must support campaign finance bill H.R.1826.

4. Each of the 50 states must create a state-owned public bank like they have in North Dakota. Then congress MUST reinstate all the strict pre-Reagan regulations on all commercial banks, investment firms, insurance companies -- and all the other industries that have been savaged by deregulation: Airlines, the food industry, pharmaceutical companies -- you name it. If a company's primary motive to exist is to make a profit, then it needs a set of stringent rules to live by -- and the first rule is "Do no harm." The second rule: The question must always be asked -- "Is this for the common good?" (Click here for some info about the state-owned Bank of North Dakota.)

5. Save this fragile planet and declare that all the energy resources above and beneath the ground are owned collectively by all of us. Just like they do it in Sarah Palin's socialist Alaska. We only have a few decades of oil left. The public must be the owners and landlords of the natural resources and energy that exists within our borders or we will descend further into corporate anarchy. And when it comes to burning fossil fuels to transport ourselves, we must cease using the internal combustion engine and instruct our auto/transportation companies to rehire our skilled workforce and build mass transit (clean buses, light rail, subways, bullet trains, etc.) and new cars that don't contribute to climate change. (For more on this, here's a proposal I wrote in December.) Demand that General Motors' de facto chairman, Barack Obama, issue a JFK man-on-the-moon-style challenge to turn our country into a nation of trains and buses and subways. For Pete's sake, people, we were the ones who invented (or perfected) these damn things in the first place!!


1. Each of us must get into the daily habit of taking 5 minutes to make four brief calls: One to the President (202-456-1414), one to your Congressperson (202-224-3121) and one to each of your two Senators (202-224-3121). To find out who represents you, click here. Take just one minute on each of these calls to let them know how you expect them to vote on a particular issue. Let them know you will have no hesitation voting for a primary opponent -- or even a candidate from another party -- if they don't do our bidding. Trust me, they will listen. If you have another five minutes, click here to send them each an email. And if you really want to drop an anvil on them, send them a snail mail letter!

2. Take over your local Democratic Party. Remember how much fun you had with all those friends and neighbors working together to get Barack Obama elected? YOU DID THE IMPOSSIBLE. It's time to re-up! Get everyone back together and go to the monthly meeting of your town or county Democratic Party -- and become the majority that runs it! There will not be many in attendance and they will either be happy or in shock that you and the Obama Revolution have entered the room looking like you mean business. President Obama's agenda will never happen without mass grass roots action -- and he won't feel encouraged to do the right thing if no one has his back, whether it's to stand with him, or push him in the right direction. When you all become the local Democratic Party, send me a photo of the group and I'll post it on my website.

3. Recruit someone to run for office who can win in your local elections next year -- or, better yet, consider running for office yourself! You don't have to settle for the incumbent who always expects to win. You can be our next representative! Don't believe it can happen? Check out these examples of regular citizens who got elected: State Senator Deb Simpson, California State Assemblyman Isadore Hall, Tempe, Arizona City Councilman Corey Woods, Wisconsin State Assemblyman Chris Danou, and Washington State Representative Larry Seaquist. The list goes on and on -- and you should be on it!

4. Show up. Picket the local branch of a big bank that took the bailout money. Hold vigils and marches. Consider civil disobedience. Those town hall meetings are open to you, too (and there's more of us than there are of them!). Make some noise, have some fun, get on the local news. Place "Capitalism Did This" signs on empty foreclosed homes, closed down businesses, crumbling schools and infrastructure. (You can download them from my website.)

5. Start your own media. You. Just you (or you and a couple friends). The mainstream media is owned by corporate America and, with few exceptions, it will never tell the whole truth -- so you have to do it! Start a blog! Start a website of real local news (here's an example: The Michigan Messenger). Tweet your friends and use Facebook to let them know what they need to do politically. The daily papers are dying. If you don't fill that void, who will?


1. Take your money out of your bank if it took bailout money and place it in a locally-owned bank or, preferably, a credit union.

2. Get rid of all your credit cards but one -- the kind where you have to pay up at the end of the month or you lose your card.

3. Do not invest in the stock market. If you have any extra cash, put it away in a savings account or, if you can, pay down on your mortgage so you can own your home as soon as possible. You can also buy very safe government savings bonds or T-bills. Or just buy your mother some flowers.

4. Unionize your workplace so that you and your coworkers have a say in how your business is run. Here's how to do it (more info here). Nothing is more American than democracy, and democracy shouldn't be checked at the door when you enter your workplace. Another way to Americanize your workplace is to turn your business into a worker-owned cooperative. You are not a wage slave. You are a free person, and you giving up eight hours of your life every day to someone else is to be properly compensated and respected.

5. Take care of yourself and your family. Sorry to go all Oprah on you, but she's right: Find a place of peace in your life and make the choice to be around people who are not full of negativity and cynicism. Look for those who nurture and love. Turn off the TV and the Blackberry and go for a 30-minute walk every day. Eat fruits and vegetables and cut down on anything that has sugar, high fructose corn syrup, white flour or too much sodium (salt) in it (and, as Michael Pollan says, "Eat (real) food, not too much, mostly plants"). Get seven hours of sleep each night and take the time to read a book a month. I know this sounds like I've turned into your grandma, but, dammit, take a good hard look at Granny -- she's fit, she's rested and she knows the names of both of her U.S. Senators without having to Google them. We might do well to listen to her. If we don't put our own "oxygen mask" on first (as they say on the airplane), we will be of no use to the rest of the nation in enacting any of this action plan!

I'm sure there are many other ideas you can come up with on how we can build this movement. Get creative. Think outside the politics-as-usual box. BE SUBVERSIVE! Think of that local action no one else has tried. Behave as if your life depended on it. Be bold! Try doing something with reckless abandon. It may just liberate you and your community and your nation.

And when you act, send me your stories, your photos and your video -- and be sure to post your ideas in the comments beneath this letter on my site so they can be shared with millions.

C'mon people -- we can do this! I expect nothing less of all of you, my true and trusted fellow travelers!

i think he's absolutely right... if we all did at least HALF of these things diligently and regularly, we would indeed produce some significant changes not only in our country but also in the world... as i set here at my window in kabul looking out on the incredible flaming orange sunset over the hindu kush, i can't help but feel uplifted, like maybe there's really a possibility for making some good things happen...

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You KNOW something's wrong

very, very wrong...

from paul farrell at marketwatch...

You know something's very wrong: A year ago "too-greedy-to-fail" banks were insolvent, in a near-death experience. Now, magically they're back to business as usual, arrogant, pocketing outrageous bonuses while Main Street sacrifices, and unemployment and foreclosures continue rising as tight credit, inflation and skyrocketing Federal debt are killing taxpayers.

Yes, Wall Street has lost its moral compass. They created the mess, now, like vultures, they're capitalizing on the carcass. They have lost all sense of fiduciary duty, ethical responsibility and public obligation.

Here are the Top 20 reasons American capitalism has lost its soul:

1. Collapse is now inevitable

Capitalism has been the engine driving America and the global economies for over two centuries. Faber predicts its collapse will trigger global "wars, massive government-debt defaults, and the impoverishment of large segments of Western society." Faber knows that capitalism is not working, capitalism has peaked, and the collapse of capitalism is "inevitable."

When? He hesitates: "But what I don't know is whether this final collapse, which is inevitable, will occur tomorrow, or in five or 10 years, and whether it will occur with the Dow at 100,000 and gold at $50,000 per ounce or even confiscated, or with the Dow at 3,000 and gold at $1,000." But the end is inevitable, a historical imperative.

2. Nobody's planning for a 'Black Swan'

While the timing may be uncertain, the trigger is certain. Societies collapse because they fail to plan ahead, cannot act fast enough when a catastrophic crisis hits. Think "Black Swan" and read evolutionary biologist Jared Diamond's "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed."

A crisis hits. We act surprised. Shouldn't. But it's too late: "Civilizations share a sharp curve of decline. Indeed, a society's demise may begin only a decade or two after it reaches its peak population, wealth and power."

Warnings are everywhere. Why not prepare? Why sabotage our power, our future? Why set up an entire nation to fail? Diamond says: Unfortunately "one of the choices has depended on the courage to practice long-term thinking, and to make bold, courageous, anticipatory decisions at a time when problems have become perceptible but before they reach crisis proportions."

Sound familiar? "This type of decision-making is the opposite of the short-term reactive decision-making that too often characterizes our elected politicians," thus setting up the "inevitable" collapse. Remember, Greenspan, Bernanke, Bush, Paulson all missed the 2007-8 meltdown: It will happen again, in a bigger crisis.

3. Wall Street sacked Washington

Bogle warned of a growing three-part threat -- a "happy conspiracy" -- in "The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism:" "The business and ethical standards of corporate America, of investment America, and of mutual fund America have been gravely compromised."

But since his book, "Wall Street America" went over to the dark side, got mega-greedy and took control of "Washington America." Their spoils of war included bailouts, bankruptcies, stimulus, nationalizations and $23.7 trillion new debt off-loaded to the Treasury, Fed and American people.

Who's in power? Irrelevant. The "happy conspiracy" controls both parties, writes the laws to suit its needs, with absolute control of America's fiscal and monetary policies. Sorry Jack, but the "Battle for the Soul of Capitalism" really was lost.

4. When greed was legalized

Go see Michael Moore's documentary, "Capitalism: A Love Story." "Disaster Capitalism" author Naomi Klein recently interviewed Moore in The Nation magazine: "Capitalism is the legalization of this greed. Greed has been with human beings forever. We have a number of things in our species that you would call the dark side, and greed is one of them. If you don't put certain structures in place or restrictions on those parts of our being that come from that dark place, then it gets out of control."

Greed's OK, within limits, like the 10 Commandments. Yes, the soul can thrive around greed, if there are structures and restrictions to keep it from going out of control. But Moore warns: "Capitalism does the opposite of that. It not only doesn't really put any structure or restrictions on it. It encourages it, it rewards" greed, creating bigger, more frequent bubble/bust cycles.

It happens because capitalism is now in "the hands of people whose only concern is their fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders or to their own pockets." Yes, greed was legalized in America, with Wall Street running Washington.

5. Triggering the end of our 'life cycle'

Like Diamond, Faber also sees the historical imperative: "Every successful society" grows "out of some kind of challenge." Today, the "life cycle" of capitalism is on the decline.

He asks himself: "How are you so sure about this final collapse?" The answer: "Of all the questions I have about the future, this is the easiest one to answer. Once a society becomes successful it becomes arrogant, righteous, overconfident, corrupt, and decadent ... overspends ... costly wars ... wealth inequity and social tensions increase; and society enters a secular decline." Success makes us our own worst enemy.

Quoting 18th century Scottish historian Alexander Fraser Tytler: "The average life span of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years" progressing from "bondage to spiritual faith ... to great courage ... to liberty ... to abundance ... to selfishness ... to complacency ... to apathy ... to dependence and ... back into bondage!"

Where is America in the cycle? "It is most unlikely that Western societies, and especially the U.S., will be an exception to this typical 'society cycle.' ... The U.S. is somewhere between the phase where it moves 'from complacency to apathy' and 'from apathy to dependence.'"

In short, America is a grumpy old man with hardening of the arteries. Our capitalism is near the tipping point, unprepared for a catastrophe, set up for collapse and rapid decline.

Much more evidence litters the battlefield:

1. Wall Street wealth now calls the shots in Congress, the White House
2. America's top 1% own more than 90% of America's wealth
3. The average worker's income has declined in three decades while CEO compensation exploded over ten times
4. The Fed is now the 'fourth branch of government' operating autonomously, secretly printing money at will
5. Since Goldman and Morgan became bank holding companies, all banks are back gambling with taxpayer bailout money plus retail customer deposits
6. Bill Gross warns of a "new normal" with slow growth, low earnings and stock prices
7. While the White House's chief economist retorts with hype of a recovery unimpeded by the "new normal"
8. Wall Street's high-frequency junkies make billions trading zombie stocks like AIG, FNMA, FMAC that have no fundamental value beyond a Treasury guarantee
9. 401(k)s have lost 26.7% of their value in the past decade
10. Oil and energy costs will skyrocket
11. Foreign nations and sovereign funds have started dumping dollars, signaling the end of the dollar as the world's reserve currency
12. In two years federal debt exploded from $11.2 to $23.7 trillion
13. New financial reforms will do little to prevent the next meltdown
14. The "forever war" between Western and Islamic fundamentalists will widen
15. As will environmental threats and unfunded entitlements

"America Capitalism" is a "Lost Soul" ... we've lost our moral compass ... the coming collapse is the end of an "inevitable" historical cycle stalking all great empires to their graves. Downsize your lifestyle expectations, trust no one, not even media.

Faber is uncertain about timing, we are not. There is a high probability of a crisis and collapse by 2012. The "Great Depression 2" is dead ahead. Unfortunately, there's absolutely nothing you can do to hide from this unfolding reality or prevent the rush of the historical imperative.

and there ya have it...

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Speaking of unparalleled arrogance...

but whaddaya expect from a guy like pickens...?
Oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens told Congress on Wednesday that U.S. energy companies are "entitled" to some of Iraq's crude because of the large number of American troops that lost their lives fighting in the country and the U.S. taxpayer money spent in Iraq.

Boone, speaking to the newly formed Congressional Natural Gas Caucus, complained that the Iraqi government has awarded contracts to foreign companies, particularly Chinese firms, to develop Iraq's vast reserves while American companies have mostly been shut out.

"They're opening them (oil fields) up to other companies all over the world ... We're entitled to it," Pickens said of Iraq's oil. "Heck, we even lost 5,000 of our people, 65,000 injured and a trillion, five hundred billion dollars."

yeah, he's a corporate raider, takeover artist, and the 117th richest man in the world, like that gives him any right to be a world-class asshole... bite me, t. boone...

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Afghanistan truth-telling: putting opium "in the bank"


f. william engdahl via information clearing house...
The US military is in Afghanistan for two reasons. First to restore and control the world’s largest supply of opium for the world heroin markets and to use the drugs as a geopolitical weapon against opponents, especially Russia. That control of the Afghan drug market is essential for the liquidity of the bankrupt and corrupt Wall Street financial mafia.

According even to an official UN report, opium production in Afghanistan has risen dramatically since the downfall of the Taliban in 2001. UNODC data shows more opium poppy cultivation in each of the past four growing seasons (2004-2007), than in any one year during Taliban rule. More land is now used for opium in Afghanistan, than for coca cultivation in Latin America. In 2007, 93% of the opiates on the world market originated in Afghanistan. This is no accident.

It has been documented that Washington hand-picked the controversial Hamid Karzai, a Pashtun warlord from the Popalzai tribe, long in the CIA’s service, brought him back from exile in the USA, created a Hollywood mythology around his “courageous leadership of his people.” According to Afghan sources, Karzai is the Opium “Godfather” of Afghanistan today. There is apparently no accident that he was and is today still Washington’s preferred man in Kabul. Yet even with massive vote buying and fraud and intimidation, Karzai’s days could be ending as President.

The second reason the US military remains in Afghanistan long after the world has forgotten even who the mysterious Osama bin Laden and his alleged Al Qaeda terrorist organization is or even if they exist, is as a pretext to build a permanent US military strike force with a series of permanent US airbases across Afghanistan. The aim of those bases is not to eradicate any Al Qaeda cells that may have survived in the caves of Tora Bora, or to eradicate a mythical “Taliban” which at this point according to eyewitness reports is made up overwhelmingly of local ordinary Afghans fighting to rid their land once more of occupier armies as they did in the 1980’s against the Russians.

The aim of the US bases in Afghanistan is to target and be able to strike at the two nations which today represent the only combined threat in the world today to an American global imperium, to America’s Full Spectrum Dominance as the Pentagon terms it.

ok... now let's look at the drug story a little more closely...

this story from the bbc a year ago poses a conundrum... 3500 tons of heroin is more than enough to satisfy every heroin user on the planet... but, get this... for the past three years, production in afghanistan has been running at twice the level of global demand...

here's the graph from the united nations office on drugs and crime (UNODC)...


the bbc story poses two theories...
Theory 1: A large and undocumented market has opened up in countries which don't want to admit the problem. Russia has long been in denial over the scale of its heroin problem and the same may be true in emerging drug markets like Iran, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan.

The Iranians are certainly increasingly anxious about the opium fields on their doorstep. Border guards and police have been involved in deadly shoot-outs with smugglers with experts suggesting that there are now a million heroin users in Iran.

But the over-supply is so great that it is hard to conceive of it all disappearing in to the blood-streams of new addicts in Tehran and Ashgabat.

Theory 2: Vast quantities of heroin and morphine are being stockpiled.
Antonio Maria Costa, head of the UNODC is convinced that is the only explanation. In a recent bulletin he issues an urgent order: 'Find the missing opium.' "As a priority, intelligence services need to examine who holds this surplus, where it may go, and for what purpose" he says. "We know little about these stockpiles of drugs, besides that they are not in the hands of farmers."

Further credibility is given to the stockpiling theory in that 'farm-gate' prices for opium remain pretty stable at about $70 per kilo.

interestingly, the "missing opium" story reappeared just last month...

from cnn...

Enough Afghan opium to supply world demand for two years has effectively gone missing, with the Taliban suspected of stockpiling supplies in a bid to corner the market, the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has revealed.


"We figure the world needs around 4,000 tons of opium a year for licit and illicit purposes," Walter Kemp of the UNODC told CNN.

"But this year around 6,900 tons was produced, with 7,700 tons delivered last year and more than 8,500 the year before that. Map showing where Afghan opium is going »

"So if the world only needs around 4,000 tons of opium and a further 1,000 is seized, where is the rest of it going?"

According to Kemp, world demand for opium remains stable yet prices are not crashing, which suggests a large amount of opium is being withheld from the market.

"Our guess is that around 12,000 tons of opium has been stockpiled somewhere -- not all in one place but in and around Afghanistan," he added. "So while production might be coming down -- mostly because of market reasons -- there's still a lot of product around to satisfy demand for about two years."

It is unclear exactly who is responsible for this but there's growing evidence, according to the U.N., that the Taliban are becoming increasingly involved in the industry and could be sitting on huge stockpiles of opium to use as credit for financing their activities.

my take...? the "stockpiling by the taliban" line is disinformation, pure and simple... the damn stuff is being stockpiled by the super-rich elites as a hedge against the ugliness of the world economy that they're principally responsible for creating...

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In the steaming pile of shit dept: Public must learn to 'tolerate the inequality' of bonuses, says Goldman Sachs vice-chairman

what unparalleled arrogance...! what unadulterated crap...! this guy is obviously completely detached from the real world, that messy, not always soft and cushy place where most of us hang out...
One of the City's leading figures has suggested that inequality created by bankers' huge salaries is a price worth paying for greater prosperity.

In remarks that will fuel the row around excessive pay, Lord Griffiths, vice-chairman of Goldman Sachs International and a former adviser to Margaret Thatcher, said banks should not be ashamed of rewarding their staff.

Speaking to an audience at St Paul's Cathedral in London about morality in the marketplace last night, Griffiths said the British public should "tolerate the inequality as a way to achieve greater prosperity for all".

how's that trickle-down theory workin' for ya, eh...? you feeling "greater prosperity"...? me neither...

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The UN wants Afghan election officials booted before a runoff, a runoff which may not be necessary


hmmmmm... the thick plottens...
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said the UN wants more than half the top officials involved in Afghanistan's election replaced.

Mr Ban told the BBC that 200 officials who had been complicit in fraud should go, to ensure a run-off vote due next month was "transparent and credible".

yeah, it's probably not a bad idea to dump the afghan election officials that were complicit in vote fraud but i have just one question... what makes the un so sure they know who those officials ARE...?

in any case, it looks like developments over the past few days have forced abdullah and karzai to start some serious talk about a coalition government... abdullah had said all along that he wouldn't be willing to talk about a coalition unless and until karzai accepted that there had been election fraud... guess he's a man of his word...

Meanwhile the BBC's Andrew North in Kabul says there are indications that President Karzai and Mr Abdullah may reach some kind of deal, meaning that the run-off may not be required.

Mr Abdullah said he had spoken to Mr Karzai by phone, in what is said to be their first confirmed contact since the first round in August.


Speaking on the BBC's Newsnight programme on Tuesday, Mr Abdullah said a coalition government was unlikely, but if elections proved impossible for "practical reasons" the two rivals needed to talk to find an alternative solution.

There are concerns that holding a second round of voting in November could lead to a repeat of August's massive fraud, as well as logistical problems caused by winter weather, which could leave much of the north of the country inaccessible.

i'm in favor of a coalition simply because i don't see afghans trudging out for another vote when most of them didn't vote the first time around... add to that the possibility of snow and getting fingers cut off and it seems to me like it would be much better to forgo a runoff if they can agree on a coalition government...

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Steve Bell's depiction of Karzai

it's been absolutely forever since i've posted a steve bell cartoon but i simply couldn't resist his rendering of karzai in today's guardian...


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It looks like a runoff...


still no official announcement from either the afghan iec or karzai's office...

from the uk guardian

Fears of an impasse rose when an Afghan body packed with Karzai's appointees, the Independent Election Commission (IEC), said yesterday that it, not the ECC, had the right to decide whether to hold a run-off.

Kerry, who had been in Kabul over the weekend to press the case with Karzai, flew back to the Afghan capital yesterday for a final round of talks.

At a late meeting last night at the presidential palace, attended by Kerry as well as the British and French ambassadors and the UN special representative, Kai Eide, a deal was struck whereby Karzai will be lauded by other world leaders as a "statesman", even though many observers in Kabul say he has no other choice.

Karzai's recent threats not to accept the results of the official investigation by the ECC, which found that almost one in every three of his votes was fraudulent, has shocked his western allies who believe he has engaged in dangerous brinkmanship.

A senior diplomatic source said Karzai had been talked round by ultimatums from world leaders, including Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, Gordon Brown and Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general who made clear that if he did not back down he would "be working outside the constitution and would no longer be a partner of the west".

Only two members of Karzai's cabinet voted to reject the deal.

so far today, kabul has been quiet, altho' we're still on red alert... stay tuned...

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Monday, October 19, 2009

The EEC says the Karzai vote count didn't top 50% [UPDATES l & II]


after just reading this on the bbc news site, i got a text message from our security people here in kabul saying that our alert level was now "red"... we've been repeatedly told that would happen as a precaution against any civil unrest or potential violence related to the announcement of the election results...
A panel probing fraud claims in the Afghan election has found Hamid Karzai did not gain enough valid votes for an outright win, the BBC understands.

Preliminary results from August's first round had placed Mr Karzai comfortably over the 50% plus one vote threshold needed to avoid a run-off.

But officials have told the BBC the Electoral Complaints Commission (EEC) says Mr Karzai did not win above 50%.

Mr Karzai could now face a second round against main rival Abdullah Abdullah.


The ECC reports to the Independent Election Commission (IEC), which will make the final announcement on the election's outcome.

The IEC is widely regarded as pro-Karzai, but analysts say it is legally bound to accept the ECC's findings.

i still think a runoff, given the timing and the security situation, makes no sense... maybe this will force a coalition government with abdullah... stay tuned...


we're sitting here waiting for karzai's response... word on the street is that he is NOT a happy camper which this snippet from the bbc seems to corroborate...
One source warned of a possible "train crash". Others are still hoping a compromise can emerge at this critical 11th hour.

President Karzai has repeatedly warned foreign countries not to interfere in the election process.

Sources say he firmly believes Western countries, in particular the United States and Britain, are conspiring to rob him of victory.

well, let's face it, the guy has a lot to lose, not the least of which is the torrent of cash that flows to his two brothers, mahmoud and wali...


from al jazeera via juan cole...

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Mish Shedlock is outraged

it's kind of hard to get any more outraged than i already am when i look out the window here in kabul and see the unbelievable fucking mess we've made out of things in this country, but... yes, i'm outraged at the in-your-face looting of the world economy by the already super-rich and then reading about how billions of people across the world are starving to death... yes, i'm OUTRAGED...
Where's The Outrage?

I don't know about you, but I am outraged.

I am outraged and not just about Goldman Sachs, but about a process that allows, even encourages political pandering, by time and time again rewarding leveraged riverboat gamblers and failed institutions and at taxpayer expense.

I am outraged that real people are suffering massively while the influence peddlers have stolen the country for their own personal benefit.

I am outraged at a political system that is totally unresponsive to the American people.

I am outraged by campaign contribution and lobbying processes that allows corporations to buy votes with donations.

I am outraged how legislators ignored the wishes of the people who clearly did not want these bailouts in the first place.

I am outraged that very little of this is in mainstream media. Why is this stuff not on the frontpage of every newspaper in the country or at least in the editorial pages?

I am outraged that the average US citizen is not aware of any of this, instead depending on CNBC, or "The View" for their interpretation of the world.

I am outraged how special interest groups have exercised their power to monopolize the economy for the benefit of themselves, US citizens be damned.

I am outraged that all these bailout programs are doing nothing to alleviate the massive consumer debt problems. Every program, virtually every program was designed to bailout lending institutions, not consumers.

I am outraged at fees charged by banks receiving bailouts.

I am outraged over government pension plans and government pay scales massively out of line with the private sector.

I am outraged that Congress and this administration thinks the solution to massive budget deficits are still higher budget deficits in excess of a trillion dollars.

I am outraged about indictments. Paulson Admitted Coercion to force a shotgun wedding between Bank of America and Merrill Lynch yet no indictments were handed out. Let the Criminal Indictments Begin: Paulson, Bernanke, Lewis.

I am outraged that US citizens are not concerned enough and not educated enough to demand change.

I am outraged that the two party system has failed. Neither party has delivered meaningful change on budgets, on taxes, on social security, on deficit spending, on the size of government, on military spending, or fighting needless wars.

I am outraged that the Obama Administration promised changed and did not deliver. "Yes We Can" was a lie. The reality is "It's Business As Usual, Only Worse, With Higher Deficits".

I am outraged there is not enough outrage over this.

Where the hell is the outrage?

here's a comment thread from my saturday post that addresses the "outrage" factor...

Am I alone in thinking that this is going to get incredibly ugly when the American people finally manage to pull their heads out of their fat asses, turn off the TV, get off the couch, and do something about this mess?

I've been wondering who will have a civil war first, China or the USA. Either one would almost certainly trigger WW-III.

Gravatar the average american is still too comfortable in everyday life to bestir themselves... as long as there's beer in the refrig, cable tv with the nfl and american idol, and enough money to shop at walmart for groceries and the usual unnecessaries, the asses are going to remain firmly planted on the couch... the sad truth is that robbery on such a massive scale has become part of the american scenery... over-the-top greed and obscene wealth is now de rigueur in american economic life, never mind that it's coming out of our pockets, just so long as our comfort level can be maintained... nobody really gets it yet that we're witnessing the largest wealth grab in the history of the world and that billions are being left to die as a result...

Gravatar I have a bad feeling that things will go from "too comfortable" to "torches and pitch forks" quickly. The transition will be awhile yet but when it happens, it will happen over night and no one will be ready for it.

Gravatar perhaps i'm a bit too cynical but i half suspect that an uprising is what our handlers are hoping for so that they can pull out all the stops with martial law and slap our annoying,cheeky selves down once and for all...

Gravatar I don't think they're nearly that competent. There is a vast global conspiracy but no one knows they're in it, the (Subgenius style) Con is just the emergent behavior of a planet full of mostly stupid partially domesticated mostly bald apes.

And you thought you were a cynic

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

I'm an Afghan... I'd need a visa to get in to HELL...!

the above was passed along to me as a comment from an afghan friend...

i was chatting with her on skype and asking when she would be leaving on a planned business trip to morocco... she said that she didn't have a visa... i asked her how long it would take to get one... she replied that she could get one at the airport on entry to morocco... i said i thought that maybe she had meant that she didn't NEED a visa... the above was her response and i laughed long and loud when i read it...

the poor afghans have almost impossible obstacles to overcome to get visas to ANYWHERE... the typical wait for a u.s. visa is 4-8 months and that's with the sponsorship of the u.s. firm they're working for plus the concurrence of usaid... the uae won't even let them out of the dubai airport when they've got hours and hours to kill between flights...

the visual image of a poor afghan standing at the gates of hell, handing his afghan passport to the devil who then says, "oh, i see you're from afghanistan... do you have a visa?" is just too funny...


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