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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 11/21/2010 - 11/28/2010
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A message to the Irish people: "The ultimate aim is to gut our country of everything of value" [UPDATE]

listen carefully... the man speaks the truth...

thanks to kevin at cryptogon...


in the video above, jim corr called for people in ireland to take to the streets... evidently, his call - among others - was heard...
Tens of thousands of people have marched through Dublin in protest at the government's austerity programme.

Protest leaders said it was the first of many demonstrations over plans to raise taxes and cut public spending.

The austerity programme is designed to cut the Irish Republic's massive government deficit, exacerbated by the rescue of the country's banks.

The march came as officials met to hammer out the final details of a financial bail-out for the country.

The EU and the IMF are set to lend the country more than 85bn euros ($113bn; £72bn), with the terms of the deal expected to be announced on Sunday ahead of the markets re-opening on Monday.

State broadcaster RTE has reported that the interest rate to be paid on part of the loan could be as much as 6.7%, higher than the rate charged to Greece for its bail-out, which has raised concerns from opposition parties.


Organisers said more than 100,000 people took part in Saturday's protest, while the Irish police (Gardai) estimated that "in the region of 50,000" people marched to Dublin's General Post Office, site of the nationalist uprising against British rule in 1916.

A spokesman for the Irish Congress of Trade Unions president, Macdara Doyle, told the BBC that the protest was designed to send out a clear message: "We're trying to convince government and show government that there's no support for their plan amongst civic society and that every measure they have taken to date has been exactly the opposite of what they need to do.

"Our fears about the new budget is that it's deflationary multiplied by ten. It's taking far too much money out of the economy and whatever possible chance there is of, some sort of growth taking hold in the economy will be killed by this proposed budget."

corr's take - and mine as well - is that the whole greece-ireland and soon-to-be spain-italy-portugal "crisis" has been well-engineered by our super-rich elites as simply one more way to divert whatever money and power they don't already have into their greedy, gaping maws...

i had a brief conversation with an immigration and customs enforcement agent last evening (i had been selected for a bag screening on arrival in the u.s.)... he, as so many others i've talked to, fully recognizes that we are under the control of our super-rich elites and the banksters that serve as their front line... maybe one of these days, the american people will find the backbone to do what the irish and greeks are already doing, stand up and fight back...

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Friday, November 26, 2010

Something to ponder on Black Friday, the day after we stuffed our faces

from al jazeera...
With more than one billion people around the world considered overweight, why are so many others still starving and struggling to fill their plates?

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Redefining the term "long day" [UPDATE]

it's almost 3 p.m. and i'm sitting here in the frankfurt airport waiting for a flight to d.c... i've been up since 3:30 this morning to catch an early flight from prishtina to vienna where the frankfurt flight was delayed... no biggie since i had almost 5 hours of layover in frankfurt anyway... i get to d.c. at 8 p.m. local time and two hours later board on a flight to buenos aires where i will arrive at about 11 a.m. local time on saturday... i already feel like something the cat dragged in but i guess i'll be able to stumble on through to tomorrow... if you never see any more posts here, you'll know i've succumbed to terminal jet lag...


an hour before departure time, frankfurt got about a half inch of snow meaning that the plane had to be de-iced before we could leave... it took them an hour and a half to do which wiped out whatever respect i had for german efficiency... we rolled in to the gate in d.c. at 9:20, not quite an hour and a half late which gave me a little more than half an hour to clear immigration and customs, re-check my bags and get to the gate... tight but within the bounds of possibility...

but...! guess what...? the immigration and customs area in the midfield concourse was C. L. O. S. E. D. so they had used the once-upon-a-time-in-the-distant-past very innovative but now hopelessly antiquated dulles people-mover thing to get everybody, terminating and connecting passengers both, over to immigration and customs in the main terminal, guaranteeing a big slowdown... to top it off, i was selected for screening at customs, so by the time they finished poking through my bags, i would have had to teleport across the field to the gate and even then, they probably would have already closed the door...


i'm at a hotel for the night and am re-booked for tomorrow night which means i will miss the baptism and family celebration for a friend's twin daughters in buenos aires on sunday...

bah... sometimes travel is SUCH a pain...

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Now, THIS is Thanksgiving...!

more like this...

juan cole...
[O]ne of the things we should be giving thanks for on this day is that we live in a society where, ideally, it should make no difference if you are Christian or Muslim, Jewish or Buddhist, agnostic or Hindu. You can build your place of worship anywhere you like, within the boundaries of civic zoning laws, no matter which path you follow. The liberties of the US Constitution require no religious test before they can be enjoyed. They are universal. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that ALL men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men…” Americans are not Americans because they are white, or Christian. Everyone born here or naturalized is an American. Muslim-Americans are Americans.

very cool...

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Happy Thanksgiving!

if kosovars celebrated thanksgiving, i imagine it would look a little bit like this...


i'm working today although i'd rather be back in reno sharing thanksgiving dinner with the family... oh, well... i fly out tomorrow and will be glad to be out of this cold rain/snow mix and back in the warm springtime of argentina... unfortunately, that will only be a week and a half stint before i will indeed be back in the high desert winter...

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Q3 2010 saw the largest corporate profits in recorded US history

as a follow-on to the previous post, we offer this...
Even amid the most turbulent economic conditions since the Great Depression, US corporate profits are at an all time high, according to a Tuesday report [PDF link] by the US Bureau of Economic Analysis.

At the same time, America's poor and middle classes are under siege, with a mostly stagnant job market that has shown only marginal signs of improvement.

In spite of meager growth in some sectors, the real unemployment rate remains high, at approximately 1 in 5 Americans.

Yet for seven fiscal quarters running -- since President Obama's election -- American corporate profits have shown strong growth.

According to a New York Times analysis, Q3 2010 saw the largest corporate profits in recorded US history, at $1.66 trillion.

this is so wrong on so many levels...

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Our super-rich elites - enough to gag a maggot

i don't know how reading a story like this makes YOU feel, but i know it makes ME want to scream, jump up and down and run gagging to the bathroom to toss my cookies...
Signs of Swagger, Wallets Out, Wall St. Dares to Indulge

Exuberance made a comeback this year at Josh Koplewicz’s annual Halloween party. More than 1,000 people packed into a 6,000-square-foot space at the Good Units night club in Manhattan, a substantially larger crowd than in the last several years. The open bar was sponsored by Russian Standard vodka, and Mr. Koplewicz, an investment analyst at Goldman Sachs, was able to snag a big headliner: the hip-hop star Lil’ Kim, who performed dressed in a black cat costume.

The scene was more extravagant in September, at a 50th birthday party in Hong Kong for Brian Brille, the head of Bank of America Asia Pacific. Mr. Brille, who is well known on the New York social scene, wore a gray Hugh Hefner-esque jacket. Women dressed like Playmates, with feather boas and satin ears, danced behind a pink silk screen.

Two years after the onset of the financial crisis, the stock market is recovering and Wall Street’s moneyed elite are breathing easier again. And this means in some cases they are spending again — at times cautiously, but sometimes with a familiar swagger.

"official" u.s. unemployment continues to hover above 9% while our congress fails to approve an extension of unemployment benefits, millions are subsisting on food stamps, millions more are being tossed out of their homes, the entire financial services industry continues to run out of control, and accountability for the rich and powerful has all but disappeared, but wall street is back to its old ways... as crude as it may sound to say it, they can all go fuck themselves...

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Manufacturing consent - this is how it's done

ever since i started this blog, i've been saying that the plan was to run government into the ground which would then serve as the pretext for destroying whatever is left of any existing or implied social contract... our super-rich elites can't stand the thought that ALL money, resources and power might not be in their control so they're going to stop at nothing to make sure nothing escapes their grasp...
The Shock Doctrine Push to Gut Social Security and Middle Class

Today's Washington Post was punch two of a one-two punch. Punch one was the Simpson/Bowles "plan" to cut Social Security, cut middle-class tax breaks and programs (and dramatically cut taxes on the rich.) Punch two is pushing this plan hard with headlines claiming this solution is actually popular, while shutting out voices who explain why we shouldn't do this. This is full-on Shock Doctrine: Wait for an emergency like the terrible recession so people are in shock and want solutions, and then change everything so fast they can't respond while telling them how this is good for them.

This is how they do it, folks, demonstrated by this story in today's Washington Post: Consensus is forming on what steps to take in cutting the deficit,

After an election dominated by vague demands for less debt and smaller government, the sacrifices necessary to achieve those goals are coming into sharp focus. ... Smaller Social Security checks and higher Medicare premiums. ... the plan unveiled this month by co-chairmen Erskine B. Bowles ... and Alan K. Simpson ... has been respectfully received with a few exceptions by both parties. Its major elements are also winning support from a striking line-up of commentators. ... The strange bedfellows are a "testament to the moderate nature" of the ideas under discussion.

Consensus? Sharp focus? Here's your "sharp focus": The public hates this!

That headline is the manufactured reality. The real reality is that the public just hates this, and has voted against and will vote against politicians who push it.

Last month you saw campaign ad after ad hitting Democrats who "cut $500 billion from Medicare," and Democrats lost the senior vote and the midterms. The public hates this.

A recent Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research report showed that an overwhelming 69% of voters agreed that "politicians should keep their hands off Social Security and Medicare" when they address the deficit. The public hates this.

Only 6% of the public says the government's priority should be deficits now. The public hates this.

An AARP poll finds that 90% of people aged 18 to 29 say Social Security is important. The public hates this.

An NBC/WSJ poll finds that 57% are against cutting Social Security no matter how bad the deficit is. The public hates this.

A USA Today poll finds that the public by 66/31 says don't cut benefits to fix the deficit. The public hates this.

I can continue citing poll after poll; there are no polls that show the public is in any way behind this.

It's clear: The public hates this and will vote out any politician who does this. If you think the public didn't like the bailouts and the politicians who voted for them, this "Deficit Commission" plan to cut Social Security is the other shoe dropping. Bailouts helped Wall Street and not Main Street and people certainly didn't like that. But this is paying for bailing out Wall Street by hitting Main Street in the gut. And the public understands this.

But here is today's reality: the public hates this, and the corporate media tells you how much you love it. This is how it's done. You have heard the stories of FDR and LBJ saying "make me do it," meaning create the public pressure that forces politicians to do act. This is a story of manufacturing consent where the elites, the Peterson Foundation, the president and the corporate right are setting up an appearance of making them do it.

sit back and watch how it's all coming down...

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Remove your money from the "too big to fail," already failed big banks

as i mentioned in a previous post, i closed my wells fargo and hsbc accounts last month and consolidated them in the credit union account i've maintained since 1995... i see now, the idea is catching on...

in the u.s...

Stop the Global Banking Cartel

Are you fed up with the unchecked fraud, greed and seemingly-unlimited power of the major banks?

You are not alone! Citizens from across the globe are infuriated by the corrupt banking system.

On December 7, 2010 the PEOPLE take back their power!

Join the millions of banking customers around the world who will be peacefully withdrawing their money from major banks in a coordinated, global effort.

If you do your banking with BANK OF AMERICA, CHASE, WACHOVIA, WELLS FARGO, CITIBANK, US BANK, SUNTRUST BANK, NATIONAL CITY BANK, MORGAN STANLEY, UNION BANK, UBS, MORGAN STANLEY, GOLDMAN SACHS, BRANCH BANKING & TRUST, REGIONS BANK, COMERICA, PNC BANKS or any of these other major banks -- pull your money out and put it with a local, regional bank or a community credit union instead.

and in europe...
Bankrun 2010

from common dreams...
The US movement is calling on people not to take their money out as cash, but to close their accounts at major regional or national banks and to move the money on Dec. 7 to independent community banks or--better yet--to credit unions.


Could a major run on the big banks seriously damage them? It depends on how seriously people take the idea. Let's imagine 10 million Americans pulling their worldly savings out of the banks--not just household accounts but funds invested in CDs too. We could quickly be talking about upwards of $50 billion.

Maybe not enough to bring down a Bank of America or a Goldman Sachs, but then, what if the process started to snowball, continuing on beyond Dec. 7? There's no reason why it would have to stop at one day. If people decided they were no longer going to bank at big institutions, then those banks' days would be numbered. They all depend upon the money of the so-called "small people" to give them the cash to play with in their hedging games, their structured derivative plays, etc.

It could all be a fantasy, the idea of taking down the big banks, but then, it's really a cost-free thing to attempt, and besides, as I've written earlier, everyone would be better off taking their banking business away from the greedy big banks and shifting it into credit unions. You get better service, fewer fees, lower loan interest rates, higher interest rates on your deposits, and many of the lobbies even have customer restrooms! So what are you waiting for? Get your papers in order and prepare to march down to your big bank and tell them, on December 7, "I want to close my account!"

i like it - a LOT...!

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Monday, November 22, 2010

In memoriam - Chalmers Johnson

Speaking Freely - Chalmers Johnson on American Hegemony from Ice Goldberg on Vimeo.

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It's our business to touch yours

snl strikes again...

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Obama has been discarded - rapacious greed fuels the plunge of tens of millions of Americans into abject poverty and misery

reading a chris hedges column is like coming face-to-face with the nine circles of dante's hell...
The tragedy—if tragedy is the right word—is that Obama, after selling his soul to corporations, has been discarded. Corporate power doesn’t need brand Obama anymore. They have found new brands in the tea party, Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck. Obama has been abandoned by those who once bundled contributions for him by the millions of dollars.


We have reached a point where stunted and deformed individuals, whose rapacious greed fuels the plunge of tens of millions of Americans into abject poverty and misery, determine the moral fiber of the nation. It is no more morally justifiable to kill someone for profit than it is to kill that person for religious fanaticism. And yet, from health companies to the oil and natural gas industry to private weapons contractors, individual death and the wholesale death of the ecosystem have become acceptable corporate business. The mounting human misery in the United States, which could lead to the sporadic bursts of anger we have seen on the streets of France, will be met with severe repression from the security and surveillance state, which always accompanies the rise of the corporate state. The one method left open by which we can respond—massive street protests, the destruction of corporate property and violence—will become the excuse to impose total tyranny. The intrusive pat-downs at airports may soon become a fond memory of what it was like when we still had a little freedom left.

All reform movements, from the battle for universal health care to the struggle for alternative energy and sane environmental controls to financial regulation to an end to our permanent war economy, have run into this new, terrifying configuration of power. They have confronted an awful truth. We do not count. And they have been helpless to respond as those who are most skilled in the manipulation of hate lead a confused populace to call for their own enslavement.

ready to jump off a tall building...? me too... in fact, i've BEEN ready for several years now, minus the small detour into self-delusion i took when supporting obama's election... so, what DO we do...? basically, what i've been doing all along...

again, chris hedges...

It is time to think of resistance in a new way, something that is no longer carried out to reform a system but as an end in itself. African-Americans understood this during the long night of slavery. German opposition leaders understood it under the Nazis. Dissidents in the former Soviet Union knew this during the nightmare of communism. Resistance in these closed systems was local and often solitary. It was done with the understanding that evil must always be defied. The tiny acts of rebellion—day after day, month after month, year after year and decade after decade—exposed to everyone who witnessed them the heartlessness, cruelty and inhumanity of the oppressor. They were acts of truth and beauty. We must take to the street. We must jam as many wrenches into the corporate system as we can. We must not make it easy for them. But we also must no longer live in self-delusion. This is a battle that will outlive us. And if we fight, even with this tragic vision, we will lead lives worth living and keep alive another way of being.

i did what i was threatening to do... i closed my accounts with wells fargo and hsbc and consolidated them into my credit union account making loud noises in the process about not wanting to do any more business with "too big to fail" failed banks...

i've been debt-free for over ten years...

i live simply... my needs are very small... (i'm not into survivalism nor will i ever be, but i think i could make do reasonably well even if most of our infrastructure was to collapse...)

i publish this blog... (yeah, i know... woo-hoo...)

i try to be a role model for what i believe and what i teach...

i honestly don't know what more i can do although i'm certainly open to ideas...

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Precisely the reason why the rest of the world no longer pays any attention to the U.S.

when the u.s. righteously huffs and puffs about equal justice and the rule of law - in this instance via an nyt editorial - all the rest of the world can do is roll its collective eyes...

as usual in our context-free journalism, the nyt totally fails to mention that, even though khodorkovsky might be a victim of an unfair justice system, he nevertheless is a case study in oligarchy... in the u.s.-championed rush to privatization during the alcoholic rule of boris yeltsin following the fall of the former soviet union, opportunistic and criminal types like mikhail khodorkovsky managed to grab staggering amounts of former state resources - money, enterprises, natural resources, basically anything that wasn't nailed down (and even a lot that was) - for their own personal treasuries, most of the proceeds of which got safely tucked away in the u.s., switzerland and other financial havens... there was an understandable surge of outrage among ordinary russians and, when putin came to power, he was able to use the bare knuckle style he learned in the kgb to go after some of the more egregious examples and earn himself some points with the russian people... needless to say, the u.s. has been cluck-clucking ever since... i'm no putin fan, to be sure, and his methods definitely deserve criticism, but...

the other thing that the nyt totally fails to mention is that the u.s. has absolutely no room to talk... the only ones that seem to have the ability to gain any advantage of the current u.s. "justice" system are those who have the enormous sums of money and reservoirs of power to buy it... accountability and rule of law in the united states today seem to be a quaint notion left over from a dream of what the u.s. once was and still could be if we only bothered to walk our talk...

Russia's Dictatorship of Law

Russia's newly outrageous legal treatment of the former owner of the country's largest oil company is a reminder that it has yet to grasp the idea of equal justice under law.

Russia’s newly outrageous legal treatment of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former owner of the country’s largest oil company, is a reminder that Russia has yet to grasp the idea of equal justice under law — especially when the Kremlin decides someone is in the way.

Mr. Khodorkovsky was convicted in 2005 on trumped-up charges of fraud and disobeying a court order and lost his company to Kremlin loyalists. Russians call his sort of case “telephone law,” imposed by the politically powerful through a call to the courthouse. With his sentence almost up, he was just tried again on suspect charges of embezzling and money-laundering. The judge is expected to reach a decision in December.

Two decades ago, the United States State Department urged the new Russia to resurrect the jury system, as The Times described this week, to put the law in the hands of the Russian people. Juries had been abolished after the Soviet revolution, along with anything recognizable as courts and lawyers. They were reborn in 1993.

glenn greenwald is turning in the final portion of his book - With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful - to his publisher tomorrow... i'm looking forward to reading it...

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