Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Wages, It All Gets Down To Wages

A strong economy must be built on a solid foundation of steadily rising wages. If wages don't keep pace with production, the only way the economy can grow is through the expansion of debt, which leads to disaster.

Consider this: the US economy is 72 percent consumer spending. That means the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) cannot grow if salaries don't keep up with the price of living. Low Income Families (LOF)--that is, any couple making less than $80,000--represent 50 percent of all consumer spending. These LOF's spend everything they earn just to maintain their present standard of living. So, how can these families help to grow the economy if they're already spending every last farthing they earn?

They can't! Which is why wages have to go up. The cost to short-term profits is miniscule compared to the turmoil of a deep recession which is what the world is facing right now. The present crisis could have been avoided if there was a better balance between management and labor. But the unions are weak, so salaries have languished while Wall Street has grown more powerful, stretching its tentacles into the government and spreading its anti-labor dogma wherever it goes.

The investor class has rejiggered the system to meet their particular needs. Financial wizardry has replaced factories, capital formation and hard assets while real wealth has been replaced by chopped up bits of mortgage paper, stitched together by Ivy League MBAs, and sold to investors as priceless gemstones. This is the system that Bernanke is trying to resuscitate with his multi-trillion dollar injections; a system that shifts a larger and larger amount of the nation's wealth to a smaller and smaller group of elites.

When Alan Greenspan appeared before Congress a few months ago, he admitted that he had discovered a "flaw" in his theory of how markets operate. The former Fed chief was referring to his belief that investment bankers could be trusted to regulate themselves. Whether one believes Greenspan was telling the truth or not is irrelevant. What really matters is that the wily Maestro managed to skirt the larger issues and stick to his script. Congress never challenged Greenspan's discredited, trickle-down economic theories which guided his policymaking from the get-go. Nor was he asked to explain how a consumer-driven economy can thrive when salaries stay flat for 30 years. An answer to that question might have exposed Greenspan's penchant for low interest rates and deregulation, the two fuel-sources for the massive speculative bubbles which emerged on Greenspan's watch. These are the tools the Fed chief used for 18 years to enrich his buddies at the big brokerage houses while workers slipped further and further into debt.

Keep Reading ...

Punditman says ...

As usual, Mike Whitney cuts through all the doublespeak about what is wrong with the economy, who caused it and what to do about it. He notes that salaries (thus wages) have basically stayed flat for 30 years. Punditman has noticed that the cost of living hasn't. I am assuming Whitney is excluding the parasitic financial sector from his generalization—the geniuses who got us into this mess—as well as professional athletes and a few other obscenely paid "employees" such as lying media anchorpersons and loud-mouthed blithering sportscasters—but I digress.

To stimulate the economy, the answer is not to keep the average worker one paycheck away from the homeless shelter by allowing them to accumulate more and more unsupportable debt. The answer is (wait for it) ... more income at the bottom end of the economy! Imagine that. To get out of this mess, all households that make under 80 K need a raise. I find this oddly optimistic (now: how do you un-brainwash and politicize this huge constituency?).

Monday, December 29, 2008

Leaders Lie, Civilians Die, And Lessons Of History Are Ignored

We've got so used to the carnage of the Middle East that we don't care any more – providing we don't offend the Israelis. It's not clear how many of the Gaza dead are civilians, but the response of the Bush administration, not to mention the pusillanimous reaction of Gordon Brown, reaffirm for Arabs what they have known for decades: however they struggle against their antagonists, the West will take Israel's side. As usual, the bloodbath was the fault of the Arabs – who, as we all know, only understand force.

Ever since 1948, we've been hearing this balderdash from the Israelis – just as Arab nationalists and then Arab Islamists have been peddling their own lies: that the Zionist "death wagon" will be overthrown, that all Jerusalem will be "liberated". And always Mr Bush Snr or Mr Clinton or Mr Bush Jnr or Mr Blair or Mr Brown have called upon both sides to exercise "restraint" – as if the Palestinians and the Israelis both have F-18s and Merkava tanks and field artillery. Hamas's home-made rockets have killed just 20 Israelis in eight years, but a day-long blitz by Israeli aircraft that kills almost 300 Palestinians is just par for the course.

The blood-splattering has its own routine. Yes, Hamas provoked Israel's anger, just as Israel provoked Hamas's anger, which was provoked by Israel, which was provoked by Hamas, which ... See what I mean? Hamas fires rockets at Israel, Israel bombs Hamas, Hamas fires more rockets and Israel bombs again and ... Got it? And we demand security for Israel – rightly – but overlook this massive and utterly disproportionate slaughter by Israel. It was Madeleine Albright who once said that Israel was "under siege" – as if Palestinian tanks were in the streets of Tel Aviv.

By last night, the exchange rate stood at 296 Palestinians dead for one dead Israeli. Back in 2006, it was 10 Lebanese dead for one Israeli dead. This weekend was the most inflationary exchange rate in a single day since – the 1973 Middle East War? The 1967 Six Day War? The 1956 Suez War? The 1948 Independence/Nakba War? It's obscene, a gruesome game – which Ehud Barak, the Israeli Defence Minister, unconsciously admitted when he spoke this weekend to Fox TV. "Our intention is to totally change the rules of the game," Barak said.

Keep Reading ...

punditman says ...
If there is one debate that trumps all others in terms of mainstream media bias, it is the question of Israel and Palestine. This article by Robert Fisk in Britain's Independent is the exception by a wide margin in that is strives for balance and objectivity.

Put simply, in the eyes of Western media, the Israelis can do no wrong; they merely act in self defence. The Palestinian leadership (and by implication, all Palestinians, are always the instigators); Israel acts 'humanely,' Arabs have no respect for human life, etc., etc. We hear this ad nasuem in each round of this tragic conflict. This is the narrative at work throughout the 'liberal media,' and it is has become a sick joke to try to find some balanced reporting each time this prolonged clash flares up.

Given the power of the Israeli lobby (see AIPAC), this should come us no surprise. Even Jimmy Carter can't criticize Israel without encountering the establishment's wrath while being shunned by his own party's orthodoxy. Thank God for Mr. Fisk who at least attempts to give us a proportioned perspective.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to find some links for the above comment, but what the hell is wrong with the internet? Who cut the damn underwater cables this time?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Shoe Journalist Says He Was Tortured After Arrest

"Apology" Letter was Written Against His Will

Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zeidi became an international celebrity when eight days ago he hurled his shoes at President Bush during a press conference. The move has had a myriad of surprising effects, from a huge financial boost for a Turkish shoe company to potentially ending the British military presence in Iraq.

One other thing it did was put renewed scrutiny on the Iraqi justice system and how it treats its detainees. That scrutiny is likely to be increasingly uncomfortable as Zeidi’s brother, the first family member permitted to see the journalist in jail, reports of his torture in the hours after his arrest.

The report also throws into doubt last week’s “apology” letter, which brother Uday al-Zeidi insists Muntadar wrote against his will after his torture. Prime Minister Maliki’s subsequent claim that Zeidi “confessed” that the mastermind behind the intricate plot (the sum total of which consist of removing his shoes and throwing them as hard as he could at the President’s head) was an unnamed militant known for slitting throats is likely to also face further doubts amid the allegations.

punditman says ...

Here is the follow-up confirmation to what punditman hinted would happen to this fella back here. So here's the size of it: you throw a shoe at the world's number war criminal and you get tortured by a puppet regime supported by the war criminal regime who happens to have authorized torture. This of course is all masquerading under the banner of democratic reform in an oil-rich country. What kind of upside down world is this?

The shoe-man has caused quite a stir. Rick Salutin of the Globe and Mail notes that this should be viewed as a Christmas present for all of us who seek non-violent (well, almost ;-) ways to react to injustice. His article, Peace on Earth, good shoes toward men can be read over at rabble

Monday, December 22, 2008

Advanced Missiles To Iran? Russia Says No

Iran MP Insists Deliveries Already Started

The potential sale of Russia’s S-300 air defense system to Iran has caused Israeli officials no end of concern, but as Major General Amos Gilad wrapped up his visit to Russia that nation’s intentions with respect to the system depend largely on whom you believe.

Pyotr Stegny, Russia’s ambassador to Israel, says there is no question of such a sale, adding the Russia is adhering to agreements reached during Israeli Prime Minister Olmert’s visit to Moscow. Beyond that, the ambassador insists, Israel “will be the first to know about any progress or change in the matter of the missiles.”

But Esmail Kosari, member of Iranian parliament and Deputy Head of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, says today that Iran and Russia have reached an agreement on the delivery of the system after years of negotiations.

The S-300 series of surface to air missiles are the backbone of Russia’s air defense system, and their acquisition by Iran would make Israel’s long threatened attack on Iran considerably more difficult. Israel previously claimed to be developing an “electronic warfare device” which would neutralize the S-300 both in Iran and in Russia but has since claimed that the acquisition of the defensive missiles by Iran could lead to the destruction of Israel.

punditman says ...
All this talk of the economy, who Obama has chosen, who he has not or what Stephen Harper will do next--can lead you, dear reader, astray. Let's not forget about a bigger and potentially deadlier picture. As usual, it is difficult to know who to believe, at first glance, when it comes to the Middle East. But with the global focus on jobs, the region's sabre rattling keeps apace with the military industrial complex and the complex alliances that feed it. Stay tuned ...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Return Of The Blogger ...

... not quite yet, folks (sigh)

Looks like I won't have my machine until around the time of the New Year - I'm facing backorder problems and all these sort of things (I am posting this entry from my office - on a very, very, very snowy late afternoon).

So, I'm wishing all of you some very merry holidays, and a happy New Year in advance!

The return of this blogger won't be until next year indeed (re-sigh).

Enjoy yourselves responsibly, eh? ;-)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Just How Rightwing Is Stephen Harper?

punditman says ...

Prime Minister Stephen Harper appears to have finally 'got religion' when it comes to the economy:

"The truth is, I've never seen such uncertainty in terms of looking forward to the future," the Prime Minister told CTV News in Halifax. "I'm very worried about the Canadian economy."

Perhaps he is. Of course he's finally figured out what to do, not because he wants to do it, but because his political survival is at stake. A substantive economic stimulus package goes against every bone in his rigid ideological frame, so it is no wonder he has been dragged kicking and whining in the direction of John Maynard Keynes.

What Punditman finds interesting is that even some of the Prime Minister's allies and supporters have been very critical of him and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty when it comes to the economy.

The ill-fated fiscal update of Nov. 27— which has caused so much hubbub in the country— has led many to call for Mr. Flaherty's resignation. Let us recall exactly what was in the original package: plans to cut government spending; suspension of the right to strike for civil servants until 2011 and of the right for women to seek legal recourse for pay equity issues; the selling off of some Crown assets to raise capital; elimination of the existing political party subsidies of $1.95 for each vote a party receives; and, no stimulus package (the government claimed they had already done that).

That's about as far-right as you can go without becoming Genghis Kahn.

The two political volcanoes, namely the move to discard per-vote subsidies for political parties and to ban public-sector workers from striking, struck a sour note with University of Western Ontario economics professor emeritus David Laidler, quoted thusly in today's Globe and Mail, "It was just outrageous and absolutely improper," said the member of the righwing C.D. Howe Institute's monetary policy council.

"I was frankly very surprised because I thought Flaherty was a pretty competent guy."

Sensing that Harper had gone too far in his partisanship and in his failure to act on the economy before the planned budget in January, it's no wonder the opposition perceived a chink in the Tory armour and formed a coalition. They were hoping public opinion would follow. Thus far, they have won no popularity contests, the country remains in a divisive condition and it is anyone's guess how this "prorogued parliament" will play out now that the Liberals have dumped Stephan Dion and coronated Michael Ignatieff.

But one thing is clear: it seems that even Harper's fellow travelers can only stomach so much of his nasty partisanship and far-right fetishism, which should give big pause to those who voted for him.

Hey! That is a point worth repeating when you are forced to discuss Canadian politics over turkey with some of your Harper-ite relatives.

So just how rightwing is Stephen Harper? Recent events tell the tale.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Afghanistan: Anger And Grief Over War Dead

With a nephew killed in Afghanistan and a son headed for the same war zone, a grieving and frustrated Russell Higgins says Canadian soldiers are being wasted on a foolish mission.

Reached at his home yesterday in Upper Musquodoboit, N.S., Higgins said, "I don't figure our boys should be over there to start with. It's a fight that can't be won. They have been doing the same thing over there since the Crusades. You can't win a war against people that don't mind dying."

Higgins' nephew Cpl. Thomas James Hamilton, 26, was one of three Canadian soldiers killed Saturday by a roadside bomb. Pte. John Michael Roy Curwin and Pte. Justin Peter Jones, 21, also died.

Keep Reading ...

punditman says ... I wonder how many relatives of soldiers killed or wounded in Afghanistan feel the same way but are afraid to express themselves? I wonder how many Canadians are weary of watching Don Cherry's jingoism on display on Saturday nights as he shows the faces of the fallen on Hockey Night in Canada? There is now a pullout date of 2011 for this combat mission--contingent on another NATO country putting more than 1,000 soldiers into the southern province of Kandahar, by no means a guarantee.

Nevertheless, one gets the feeling from those who support the mission that they inhabit a certain obedient personality type; they will support the war from now until hell freezes over, or at least until the government tells them it is over. Call it deference to authority in the face of a very authoritarian Prime Minister.

Speaking of whom, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, "This tragic incident demonstrates the considerable risk faced by the exceptional men and women of the Canadian Forces as they work to promote freedom, security and democracy in Afghanistan."

Glowing words of liberty from the man who just prorogued Parliament.

(Mentarch here, barging in: Canada's war indeed ... and let's not forget that (Barack Obama's) Defense Secretary Robert Gates has already stated that he wants Canada to remain fully active in Afghanistan beyond 2011 ... this may have been rejected for the time being, but who can trust Harper and Co. to be competent with regards to the reality of the situation in Afghanistan - not unlike Bush and Co. as this recent example clearly illustrates?)

Do The Math #4

*Warning, this post contains racially charged language, not as a reflection of my views, but to expose the ugliness and hatred of racism for the horrifying thing that it is.

Part 2 reflected, in part, on where your jobs went; the fact that "Free Trade" had little to do with anything other than being able to enter other countries and exploit their workers at a cheaper rate.

That shouldn't be so hard to do the Math on, since the template for it exists right in your own backyards. American companies have been exploiting a segment of your fellow workers for years, and have taught you to HATE those exploited peoples by playing off of human's innate fear of different appearances.

They told you the biggest lie of all, and many of you believe it.

"Its the niggers and wetbacks taking your jobs."

I cannot cure this racist bullshit in one post, but maybe I can show you the Math on why racism is just a tool they use to fuck workers into less wages, and more profit for themselves. I can show how ultimately this is bad for EVERYONE.

This first formula is so simple, no one can disagree!

1. You take the best job you can get.

Everyone wants a job they love, a job they are well treated in, a job that pays good money. You with me so far?

No one takes a job that is hard and very physical for as little pay as possible.

Does anyone willingly choose to clean toilets for $5 an hour, all day every day? Would you want to work digging foundations and laying block in the Arizona heat for 12 hours a day for $8 bucks an hour? Would either of those jobs allow you a single family dwelling in the suburb in which you work?

I do some housecleaning, my best friend does it as her exclusive means of income. We are both paid well for it. We like our clients and are well treated, we don't mind the work. We are both lucky enough to be born into the white privilege that allows this to be true. So, there is nothing INNATELY wrong with any job. Often, your choice of job is influenced by both the respect with which you are treated, and the livable wages which you receive.

Let me take you the next step into racist, divisionary think.

2. We'll start with the White version of the Lie.

If niggers and wetbacks didn't do those kind of jobs, and wanted OUR jobs, we would have no jobs left!

Besides that, nothing could get built, because white people won't do those jobs, and if you paid Union Scale, no one would be able to afford housing.

Ok, do any of you remember the term "Skilled Trade"? Do you have an Uncle or Grandfather that was a Carpenter, a Journeyman Carpenter or Plumber?

At one time, white America did build things, and at that time, since everyone made equitable pay, everyone could afford housing.

At that time, a family could buy a house with a single income, and feed and clothe said family.

What changed?

It wasn't that blacks and immigrants came and stole his job.

It wasn't that niggers and wetbacks worked for way less to steal that job. If that was true, wouldn't housing be even CHEAPER????


A builder somewhere decided that paying less, and raising the pricing of housing made for...

can you guess it?


...and now neither your grandfather or uncle, nor the men of color who built the houses can afford one.

2.5 The sub-lie to this lie is the Black version:

"We were already getting shit jobs, and now the Mexicans and Eastern Europeans have come and stole them all. Damned illegal immigrants. We deserve better, because we didn't come here by choice, they snuck in illegally by choice."

This goes back to the first point.

You take the job you can get.

Do you think anyone who wasn't grossly oppressed or starvingly poor would chance illegal immigration, work for slave wages, and choose to share a dwelling with other families in the same situation?

This takes the Caste system of Class warfare up a notch, and plays directly into the hands of the exploiters.

Classic warfare:

Divide and Conquer.


They didn't steal your jobs, the sweat shop factory owners found someone in more dire circumstances to exploit.

Which brings us around to those who claim to oppose Mexican immigration solely on LEGAL grounds.

(and I will leave the missives about how we are all here illegally from a Native American standpoint on the sidelines for now... and the fact that generations of people from Europe are here as result of illegal immigration as well... remember that the term "WOP" for Italian Americans meant "With Out Papers"...)

3. The next lie is about Immigration, and I will use Mexican immigration as my example.

Illegal Immigration has drained our economy. Those wetbacks don't pay anything in, and expect everything for free.

Lets start with the OBVIOUS.

You claim they steal your job, yet do nothing for the system. They are WORKING. Many, if not MOST, pay taxes under some fake Social Security number to not get caught and deported. Money they will never see a return on.

Now, the LESS OBVIOUS question is this?

Why do they have to come here illegally?

It is because the US has set a wildly low bar on the number of Mexican people who can enter legally.

Why would they do that?


Because ILLEGAL labor is cheaper.


How many times have you read that some government official gets caught with their tits in the wringer for having an illegal work at/on/in their homes?

These are the Lawmakers themselves. The big money Lobbyists don't EVER push for more LEGAL immigration, for a LEGAL laborer can demand more money. (at least in States that still have minimum wage laws)

Now, as to draining resources, as in Social Security?

Were they allowed to become citizens, pay into social security, we would be close to solvent in that department.

Add a gazillion now-legal immigrants to the coffers and WOW!


The drain on medical care would be resolved if all of us ACTUALLY HAD medical care that was based on Heath, not PROFITEERING, anyway.

Even a DUMBASS could get that MATH.

I want to keep this simple, really, I do.

Right now, the traditionally multi-tiered Caste system is being compressed.

It scares the fuck out of white people, who suddenly are being as poorly compensated in an ever increasing cost of living world as their Black and Mexican counterparts.

Right now?

It is becoming the poor (read workers) and the wealthy (read owners) with little in between.

Here is the MONEY EQUATION for ya folks. read it twice if you have to.





Instead, hate crimes between us are rising, and we are all losing ground in the ability to survive.

Whites blame "niggers" and Blacks blame "wetbacks" and the Christinazis blame "faggots" and so on and so on....


They have exploited what we perceive as DIFFERENCES amoung ourselves to keep us from remembering the most basic fact of all.

1. You take the best job you can get.

Now, they have us fighting for less jobs, poorer pay and basic survival. They like racism as a means to this end:


The Profiteers, man.


Or, cling to your ugly racism while we all starve.

Your choice.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Iraqi Reporter Throws Shoes At Bush, Calls Him Dog

An Iraqi reporter called visiting U.S. President George W. Bush a "dog" in Arabic on Sunday and threw his shoes at him during a news conference in Baghdad.

Iraqi security officers and U.S. secret service agents leapt at the man and dragged him struggling and screaming out of the room where Bush was giving a news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

The shoes missed their target about 15 feet (4.5 metres) away. One sailed over Bush's head as he stood next to Maliki and smacked into the wall behind him. Bush smiled uncomfortably and Maliki looked strained.

Keep Reading ...

punditman says ... I second that emotion. But I would like to see the follow-up story as to what happens to the Iraqi journalist.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Do The Math #3



Ok, today's Math may need a little brain power.


* There are actual numbers to back me up on this, but you know, in the interest of keeping it simple, and the fact that I, as a middle aged housewife with no education typing away with my first cup of coffee, have no interest in googling numbers AT ALL, am going to suggest if you don't get the overall premise, Google may or may not be able to help you anyway. So have at it. I have run-on sentences to write.

Fear reflex is a good thing. It makes you duck when your kid hits a good hard fastball right back at your head when you pitch to him, and you only catch it peripherally too late because you are looking at your flowerbed over his shoulder thinking you should be weeding.

That's what the lower function in your brains are for. They are NOT meant to be your primary data functioning unit.

So, using your cerebral cortex, the best reaction in such a case would be to realize you are becoming as ADD as the rest of America, choose to focus on your kid and the game, rationalize that your child is only young once, think, "FUCK THOSE WEEDS" and PLAY WITH HIM.

Were you to process this, keeping that REPTILIAN BRAIN to the forefront, you would instead think baseball evil, and your child under suspicion of trying to kill you. You would tell your husband for your own safety to ground him to his room forever, and watch his every word and move. Then you would start being suspicious of every one of those Motherfucking OUT TO GET you little bastards in America wearing baseball hats.

Lets Do The Math on THE WAR ON TERROR, shall we?

Here's some MATH. Read the * NUMBERS.( * disclaimered above, but close enough for horseshoes and hand grenades)

You are more likely to have a SATELLITE fall on your HOUSE TWICE on the same day than be the victim of domestic terrorism, no matter how long you live.


I'm not going to even baffle you with bullshit about "unnamed sources" and conflicting evidence about terrorist groups.

Think of everyone you know. How many Terrorists have they known, or been victimized by?


I will get into 9/11, and a friend of your aunt's sister knew a girl in the buildings, and the horrible tragedy that was, later when we get to the Limbic brain. That's the one we called the Horsey Brain as children, the one capable of emotion as well as reflex.

But for now, here's your next * NUMBERS.

You are a hundred thousand times more likely to be at the least roughed up, and the worst unfairly kidnapped by your local POLICE than by a TERRORIST.

Think of everyone you know. Who has not had a story about being arrested, and being pushed around by some jack-booted young thug with a badge? Do you know anyone who doesn't know someone with a horror story of being arrested on a bullshit charge, then having to put out a shit-load of money to buy their freedom back?

Police Officers used to be called Officers of the Peace, live IN a COMMUNITY, as part of said community. "The Policeman is Your Friend" has gone by and by in a World of Reptilian Brained SIEGE MENTALITY.

They have come out with combat ready POLICE CARS to use as a means of introducing the "Homeland Security" mentality to your local Law Enforcement, replete with HOSEABLE BACK SEATS and BOMB SNIFFERS. Holy Shit. They HOPE you think its cool.

If you light up the acres of convoluted cortex, you can see which one you should rationally fear. Your inattention, or the kid with the baseball. Cops & the Government or boogeymen under the bed?


You are a gazillion to the tenth power more likely to be spied on by your own Government, than a Terrorist Spy.

Its called the PAT ACT.

The Russkies don't care what Porn you surf, the Pakistani's aren't reading your CREDIT REPORTS and BANK ACCOUNTS, the Iraqi's could give a flying FUCK which POLITICIAN here you criticize... the only TERRORISM being perpetrated on you is by the GUYS YOU VOTED for to do so.


Now lets go back to 9/11 and delve into your EMOTIONAL reflex center.

Lie NUMERO UNO on that, created to hot wire right into your LIMBIC Brain?

"We have kept you safe since 9/11, trust us, what we are doing MUST be working."

Wow. Doesn't that make you feel all safe and confident? Like you can grab your Teddy Bear and snuggle under the covers, cuz Daddy just looked under the bed, and there was no monsters there? We loves us some Daddy. He and Mommy make everything safe.

Except Daddy ignored the BRINKS™ alarm system and LET THEM IN IN THE FIRST PLACE!

If NOT having a TERRORIST attack was measure of a Good President, Bush would come in as number 43 on a list of 43 Presidents. Dead FUCKING LAST.


Lets make it Mommy Math simple.

1. You have nothing to fear from Terrorists.

So shut that Reptilian Brain up.

2. The government isn't making you safer, it is making you less SAFE from IT, ITSELF.

So shut up that warm and fuzzy Limbic function falling for the false security.

3. Engage your Cerebral Cortex, assess the situation and DO THE MATH about who represents the biggest THREAT to you. IT'S YOUR OWN GOVERNMENT.

They are the ones spying, taking away your FREEDOMS, your RIGHT TO HABEAS CORPUS, TORTURING and GENERALLY TREATING YOU LIKE A SUSPECT; they have made you an "potential enemy" in your own HOME. YOUR COUNTRY.

4. Focus on the Game.

Go play baseball with your kid. Be totally in the moment and CATCH the fastball coming at your head. Then take him and his whole baseball team to Washington to PROTEST.



If your really managing the higher thinking at this point, realize that this is related to Essay #1 and #2. Gee. Why would they want to take our jobs, take away our workers rights, take away our privacy and civil rights, make us live in FEAR, and trust ONLY THEM to protect us?

What purpose would THAT possibly serve?


Its called Class Warfare.

Last MATH for now?

We are about 6 billion to their 2,000.

That is all for today.

Do The Math #2

In #1, I explained the Math of why Unions (read YOUR rights as a Worker) are a good thing.

Now, lets talk about "Why the Jobs went away" and disperse the clouds of disinformation about "Global Economies". Lets talk about TRADE.

I am not an economist, in fact my eyes roll back in my head at the dry numbers and endless spin economists like to put on things.

I am however not STUPID, and can bring this down to a few simple truths.

Truth number one? The next statement is a lie.

"Things are different now, because we have to compete in a Global Economy."

Things aren't so different. From the 1st tribal peoples to the East India Trading Company, trade has rarely been confined within borders.

"Have to?" We don't HAVE to do anything. We have CHOSEN to. Period.

Lets make it simple, how many of you even know the currency in Bolivia, let alone what a loaf of bread costs there? How about what you use and how much to pay for a pound of rice in Indonesia?

"Global Economy" is what the Owners of Megacorporations use as a code word for "Colonialism".

"Colonialism" is code talk for coming into someone else's backyard and taking their best shit. Otherwise known as Larceny. Was that too big a word, America? Try THEFT.

The idea of "Hey, they grow great tomatoes, and we can't, but we grow great corn and they can't; lets swap" is not inherently evil.

So lets talk about what Fair Trade really is and is not.

If we can only sell China 10 cars and they can sell us 100, its not fair. Most of you get that part. I've heard you bitch about it. Why would our government, our Corporations have agreed to this in the first place?

IT WAS NEVER ABOUT FAIR TRADE IN THE FIRST PLACE. It was never really about trying to sell them our shit. We know they couldn't afford it.





Lets see... if we only have to pay some grunt in Vietnam an American dollar a day, why pay our guys a hundred?

Lets see... if getting rid of toxic waste byproduct costs a thousand dollars here, and we can dump it there anywhere free, why not? Its not in OUR backyards.

Lets see... We just saved 1,099 dollars right there. No one will notice. The car still costs 50,000.

When we started noticing, they had to direct the blame elsewhere.

They babble a mile a minute about trading and trends, about how a "Global Economy" will bring workers elsewhere up to an equitable income, and they will become consumers of our shit.





The jobs went away so THEY could make more money. Period.

Trickle down never happens. The rich hoard their wealth, and have no intention of not making RECORD PROFITS, no matter where they have to move their businesses to.

This statement, if they ever spoke plainly, would be true.

"Unless you are a member of our Caste, which you will NEVER be, get used to the idea that in pursuit of our PROFITS, you are interchangeable with any third world person anywhere. You will work for us, at whatever we want you to, or we will find someone else who will. You can all eat grass for all we care. Stupid Cattle."

The ONLY way to stop this permanent exploitation is to either close our borders, and make it illegal to sell anything made, even in PART, outside our borders in the US, or for workers WORLDWIDE to unite and refuse to make anything they cannot afford.


Think about it.

They have convinced you you are powerless. They have all the assets. They have all the riches.


They have paper, not goods. They have desks, not skills. They have fancy houses that are nothing but buildings we built on land that is permanent, owned only by the construct of said paper.

They have nothing without us.

We grow the food, build the skyscrapers, run their telephone companies, service their limos.



Who can own the land on which a man walks, the air that he breathes? It sounds like such a simplistic comment. It is not. It is truth.

They don't you want to remember you are free men.

Trade? Is entirely dependent on us, so we must DEMAND Trade that is in our interests.

The only FAIR TRADE AGREEMENT for American Workers, and Workers Worldwide is that there MUST be a cap on how the Elite can profit from us, or the elites themselves have to be eliminated.

We are the wealth. They are just Paper Dolls.

That concludes Math Lesson Number Two.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Do The Math #1

Thanks for giving me this opportunity to speak directly to America. I have a question that has burned my very soul in its need to be asked.


I don't mean to be insulting. Really I don't. I've met many of you in my 45 and 10/12ths years functioning as an American Citizen. Individually, I have yet to meet one person in my years on this planet that doesn't at least have a functioning clue what is in THEIR OWN INTERESTS yet, collectively you don't seem to have a clue.

This isn't being condescending. I am painfully aware of my lack of education, my inferior societal position as a middle aged, overweight housewife keying away on a minuscule lefty blog.

This is just utter confusion at how
COLLECTIVELY you do everything in your power to act directly against your own interests.

I'm sorry. I asked it badly before. What I really should have said is this:


Maybe I can help you out a little here. Let me help you do some very simplistic MATH!

Number ONE:


Fair Pay=Good.
Safe working conditions=Good.
Reasonable working hours=Good.

How in the HOLY FUCKING HELL did you allow yourselves to be convinced that YOU, the WORKER are at fault for HIGH PRICES and LACK OF JOBS?????


The old math was:

You made shit, worked hard to do so for fair pay.

You could afford to buy the shit you made.

You had employee Health Care.

The owner of the company made profit enough to be richer than you.

That was ok, for the relationship of job provider to worker/consumer was balanced somewhat.

You carried usually ONE man you KNEW, who usually worked with you to make his company a success.

The math you have bought into:

You make shit, work for less.

You cannot afford the shit you make.

You have no employee Health Care.

The owner of the company decided to sell little slips of paper representing a "piece" of his company called a share.

The owner of the company, and all the thousands of shareholders make enough profit to be richer than you.

The relationship between job provider to worker/NON-consumer skewed wildly.

You carry hundreds, if not thousands of people on the back of your work, all who DEMAND to make a HUGE PROFIT from your job.


The thousands of faceless rich people want YOU to work like third world nations, so they can each make a BIGGER PROFIT on the sweat of YOUR BROW.

They don't care if you can AFFORD your own well made product.

They make money off IMPORTING cheap-ass SHIT made by Chinese prison labor, and selling it to you at a MARK UP.

Then they blame YOU for not being Chinese Prison labor and making it cheaper for them to make shit, and make HUGER profits off of it.



Do you really want America to be like Third World workers with no rights?



You say you don't want anyone else, let alone a government controlling your life, yet you want to give up all rights to a bunch of RICH MEN WHO ARE FUCKING YOU?

You are not too EXPENSIVE, they are too GREEDY.

They want to own you.

After all, they can afford to buy the shit you make.

They can buy the good SHIT and sell you UTTER CRAP.

Go ahead, make them richer, make yourselves poorer, work two jobs at 5$ an hour.

They are LYING to you.






There. I said it.

I have never met one of you who wanted to be fucked over at your jobs. I have never met ONE of you who didn't bitch when you were fucked over at your jobs. You hate mandatory overtime, hate not getting a raise when the cost of living has skyrocketed. You wish your family had medical coverage.

I have never met ONE of YOU who would go to their boss and ask for a pay cut, so your boss can take a million dollar bonus.

You are smart. Hell, most of you are smarter than me.

COLLECTIVELY , as every year of my 45 has passed, I see you allowing more and more concessions. I see you not stand up for yourselves. I see you vote for the very people FUCKING you.

What gives?

I'm here to help. I will be doing a little MATH series for you to help you see whats happening to you. You won't even have to get out your calculator.


Dedicated to Washington Union Busters fucking 1 in 10 of us out of jobs, while we do nothing about it. Bye-bye Big 3.

Human Rights: What Lies Ahead ... If Anything?

Last Wednesday was the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In the meantime, torture, indefinite detentions and renditions are still happening - not only perpetrated by "rogue" dictators/regimes, but also by so-called "civilized" states like the U.S. of A.

In these days when torturing is conveniently justified as a matter of necessity, when debate about torture is more than ever about the effectiveness of torture versus the "ineffectiveness" in following the rule of Law, when torture is apparently no more a cause for tarnishing reputations of countries and governments, when military commissions rule at whim (one more example here) over the rule of civil and human rights, when prosecuting torturers and torture promulgators becomes something to be actually requiring debate, when promulgating/instituting torture is no more a criminal matter but rather one of "good faith" but "misguided/wrong" policy-making, or misguided interpretation of laws or merely a matter of proper "spin", when black holes of human decency and justice have become acceptable, when torture has become nothing more than a "mere legal term" and something done casually that is not to be feared or condemned, but in fact to be made money from, trivialized or joked about ...

Then more than ever, we have lost any semblance of human rationality and grace - consequently rendering the Universal Declaration of Human Rights naught but empty words to make us feel noble, good, principled and civilized - allowing us to conveniently forget however much the deluded, hypocritical, savages and barbarians that we truly are.

Yes, President-elect Barack Obama recently renewed his pledge to end the practice of torture - and yet, what are we to make of calls for him to keep pro-torture Bush appointees in his administration-to-be, of those potential alternatives floated around and those other "torture-is-necessary" elected representatives (like this fatuously-reasoning barbarian) so far?

In other words: it remains to be seen whether hypocritical, quaint rationalizations (like this, or that, or this, or that) to justify torture will be at last dumped in the trash bin of history of savagery, so that the barbarian practice of violating human and civil rights will be abandoned once and for all ...

So here we are 60 years later ... and we have quite a long way to go in order to finally make the Universal Declaration of Human Rights not only a reality, but an absolute, unalienable standard of what it means to be human and civilized.

Here are two more large portions of food for thought on the matter, for your consumption:

Happy Birthday, Human Rights
At 60, the history and future of a powerful idea.

By Michael Byers

Today, we celebrate with cautious optimism the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

International human rights have steadily gained ground and are now codified in dozens of treaties. Enforced by national courts and international councils, they have saved countless lives. Yet they have also suffered setbacks, such as George Bush’s decision to "take the gloves off" after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

What will the next six decades bring?

Will Barack Obama succeed in repairing the United States’ reputation as an international human rights leader? Will new treaties protect individuals who are still woefully exposed, such as aboriginals, gays, lesbians and transsexuals? Will our grandchildren -- as our grandparents did in the wake of the Holocaust -- reaffirm their "faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small?"

I believe that all these things will happen, for international human rights have displayed a remarkable resilience; they hold an intrinsic power enabling them to withstand the most egregious assaults on their precepts, returning to the centre of geopolitics time after time.

A defining moment

The international human rights movement has its roots in the 19th century. Slavery was abolished throughout the British Empire in 1807; many other countries joined the abolitionist movement in the following decades and, in 1926, the Slavery Convention was adopted by the League of Nations.

In 1859, Henri Dunant witnessed the aftermath of the Battle of Solferino, where 40,000 men died, many as the result of untreated wounds. When the young Swiss businessman returned to Geneva, he and some friends initiated a movement that became the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights took things to a new level. Drafted by Canadian law professor John Humphrey and U.S. first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, it constituted the first internationally agreed affirmation of a multitude of rights, including the rights to free expression, assembly, asylum, and the right not to be tortured.

Individual human beings went from being chattels of sovereign governments to autonomous agents with inalienable protections.

Next steps

The Universal Declaration was not a binding treaty. That step was accomplished in 1966 with the adoption of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. These two treaties, which affirm and elaborate the rights set out in the Declaration, have since been ratified by more than three-quarters of all countries.

Another step was taken in 1973 after Salvador Allende, the democratically-elected president of Chile, was overthrown by General Augusto Pinochet. A small, London-based human rights group called Amnesty International campaigned vigorously against the regime of torture that followed, in the process transforming itself into the first mass membership, multinational non-governmental organization with real clout in international affairs. That clout soon delivered a UN Declaration on Torture (1975) and Convention against Torture (1984).

Cold War struggles

During the Cold War, human rights were used as political and ideological weapons, with Washington criticizing Moscow for failing to respect civil and political rights, and Moscow condemning Washington over economic, social and cultural rights.

It is important to understand that context when reading President Ronald Reagan’s comments on the 40th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

"For people of good will around the world, that document is more than just words: It’s a global testament of humanity, a standard by which any humble person on Earth can stand in judgement of any government on Earth."

The Cold War struggles prompted some to argue that human rights are culturally relative; that they are a peculiarly Western concept that should not be forced upon nation-states with different social, cultural, ideological and religious traditions. Ten years ago, Kofi Annan, the then-Secretary General of the United Nations, put that argument to rest:

"Do not African mothers weep when their sons and daughters are killed or tortured by agents of oppressive rule? Do not African fathers suffer when their children are unjustly sent to jail? Is not Africa as a whole the poorer when just one of its voices is silenced?"

For better, for worse

In addition to being universal, human rights are meant to apply in the bad times as well as the good. Indeed, human rights are especially needed when the going gets rough -- as it has since Sept. 11, 2001 -- in order to protect against excessive and arbitrary state action.

Just six days after 9-11, President Bush signed a "presidential finding" that provided the CIA with broad authorization to disrupt terrorist activity, including by killing, capturing or detaining Al-Qaeda members anywhere in the world. On this basis, the agency began secretly transferring suspects -- like Canadian Maher Arar -- either to the intelligence services of countries notorious for torture or to clandestine prisons located outside the United States.

Four months later, the Bush administration began sending some suspected Taliban and Al-Qaeda members to the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Ignoring public criticism from a number of allied leaders, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and even the Red Cross, then-secretary of defence Donald Rumsfeld insisted the detainees could not be prisoners of war.

Mr. Rumsfeld refused to convene the tribunals required under the Geneva Conventions to determine their status, instead assigning them to a new category of "enemy combatants" that was recognized nowhere in international law. In November 2002, the English Court of Appeal opined that it was as if the detainees were in a "legal black hole."

The situation at Abu Ghraib Prison was worse. The image of a hooded man standing on a box, with electrical wires dangling from his outstretched hands, remains seared into our collective memory.

Finally, in December 2005, developments like these prompted Louise Arbour, the then-UN high commissioner for human rights, to issue the following public warning: "The absolute ban on torture, a cornerstone of the international human rights edifice, is under attack. The principle we once believed to be unassailable -- the inherent right to physical integrity and dignity of the person -- is becoming a casualty of the so-called war on terror."

Human rights return

In 2003, Maher Arar was returned from Syria. In 2006, George Bush admitted Abu Ghraib was a "mistake" and that "We’ve been paying for that for a long time." During the 2008 president election campaign, both candidates promised to close Guantanamo Bay. The ability of the United States to "win hearts and minds" had been severely compromised. The power of human rights -- expressed in part through international public opinion -- was beginning to be felt again.

(Keep reading ...)


The Human Rights Declaration at 60
by Daniele Archibugi

As the time comes to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the West has lost its moral authority and seems incapable of offering any hope of future dignity to the rest of the world. Guantanamo, 'extraordinary rendition' and Abu Ghraib will be just some of the words launched in the face of the West to deny its self-assigned role as the champion of human rights. Many despotic regimes, previously so used to being the accused, are now careful not to miss an opportunity to point out the fact that, when the circumstances are exceptional, all countries, whether they are run as democracies or not, are quite prepared to set aside human rights when it suits them.

It is obviously not true that human rights are violated with the same frequency in North America and in Asia, in Europe and in Africa - but a clear conscience is not just a luxury for those who hold close to their hearts the defence of human rights. Having turned sixty, the danger now is that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights can actually take early retirement as the nations that have sponsored it have shown themselves incapable of respecting it.

This discredit is commonly associated with the Presidency of George W. Bush and a well-grounded promise has been made that a radical change of direction will occur with Barack Obama. However, the degeneration under the Bush administration is in truth simply evidence of a much deeper western problem that involves Europe and the United States, both progressives and conservatives. The West believed that, since it had considered itself the bearer of the values stated in the Universal Declaration, it didn't really need to consider itself to be subject to it and consequently approached the problem of human rights as an exclusively foreign policy issue. In a large part of the world this meant that human rights rhetoric was perceived as a new form of colonial domination by the West rather than an instrument of emancipation available to peoples against their home-grown despots.

It is still not clear in what direction the United States will move as far as human rights are concerned. The closure of Guantanamo and the abolishing of extraordinary rendition will be viewed as fundamental signals indicating that the change promised by Obama will also include human rights. And yet the main lesson to be drawn is that the cause of human rights can never again be entrusted to the hands of a single country - however efficient its internal system of democratic checks and balances. On the contrary, some external control must be added, which is exercised by impartial institutions that are independent of the ruling governments.

It is certainly encouraging that a vast majority of the world population endorses the idea that the UN should take an active role in the protection of human rights (see the poll by "World Public Opinion"), but any UN action will become more authoritative if it is supported by citizens and their representatives rather than just by government's ambassadors. If, on this anniversary, western governments aim to regain the high ground, they must have the courage to go beyond the essentially inter-governmental logic that has dominated the human rights regime to date and actively promote global checks and balances which are based on a greater degree of participation.

What does this mean in practice?

ICC: bring the US back in; define state aggression

First of all, the International Criminal Court, established five years ago for the purpose of prosecuting those responsible for the more serious violations of human rights, must be strengthened (a periodic assessment is carried out by the Global Policy Forum). The Court has neither the remit nor the resources to concern itself with everything, although it does have a great advantage over other inter-governmental agencies: it has the formal independence that is enjoyed by the judiciary. While the European Union recognizes the Court, the United States (under Bush) has withdrawn from it, undoing the progress made under the preceding administration. Even during the Clinton administration, the European countries had to sweat blood to persuade the United States to join. And even then it was not possible to get it ratified by the Senate. If the United States is really serious about adopting a status of equality with the other countries, it should accept the Court fully with all that this entails.

(Keep reading ...)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Something Different: Breaking Free From Sexual Stereotypes

The following is an interesting take (on a fiction book) concerning the sexual/body/look stereotyping of women and how such pressure to conform impacts women and, especially, teenage girls - however, I would like to point out an obvious omission in such a debate: men, and teenage boys, are likewise pressured to conform to specific sexual/body/look stereotypes nowadays ... and I dare say as much as women and teenage girls.

Where sex and selling sexual stereotypes are concerned, let us never forget that there are always two sides to this equation - female and male.

Breaking free
Cleavage tackles a variety of topics, from love and sex, to body image and even discovering that your mother is completely waxed bare 'down there'

By Katie O'Connor

It is increasingly difficult to find fiction for young girls which does not promote a material lifestyle, such as getting the latest designer bag or the newest beauty product to help your lips look plumper and eyes look bigger. In a world dominated by waif-like women and the need for more, more, more, Cleavage: Breakaway Fiction for Real Girls is a refreshing compilation of 15 new short stories. Each story revolves on strong, young females who yearn to break away from the arbitrary beauty ideals imposed upon them. Cleavage tackles a variety of topics, from love and sex, to body image and even discovering that your mother is completely waxed bare 'down there.'

In today's society, our senses have become dulled to the amount of advertising we are exposed to each and every day. Young women are being sent mixed messages from every angle, from the media to their very own mothers. Teenage girls are particularly open to these messages because they are in the process of developing and discovering who they are. As a young woman, it can sometimes feel like you are in the middle of a tug of war between parental or other influences, peers, and advertising. When you are unsure of yourself, you are increasingly susceptible to these influences.

Cleavage showcases this tug of war that occurs while growing up. One short story, in particular, uniquely demonstrates the way media and teen magazines can have an influence on young girls. 'Faceless on the Farm,' by Ann Sutherland takes the form of several letters written back and forth between a teen magazine editor and a young girl who lives on a rural farm. 'Faceless' captures the way teen magazines encourage young girls to use makeup as a placebo to aid self-esteem. It creates a snapshot of the pressure girls feel to 'uncover their beauty' through make-up and various products, while ignoring their true beauty.

(Keep reading ...)

This Is Why I Will Not Rejoin The LPC

Just as I was about to (finally) rejoin the LPC, with the primary motivation of contributing as much as I could in deciding who was going to be the next LPC leader, as well as in helping as much as I could in establishing a clearly defined platform, the party pulls off something like this.

If members of a party are prevented from deciding who is to be their party leader, and/or if a majority of party members accept such undemocratic crowning exclusively pronounced by party insiders, then said party is definitely not for me.

That is why I will not rejoin the LPC.

Wanna bet that when Harper meets with Ignatieff, the former will convince the latter of the "necessary pragmatism" in not voting out his sorry excuse for a (minority) government for at least a year, because this "would give time" to both parties before having to return to elections?

More triangulation on the part of the LPC while Harper rules like a majority government - that is what is in the works, folks ... just like before, complete with empty, boastful threats like this.

"A coalition if necessary, but not necessarily a coalition", indeed.

And that is why I do not forsee at this time any kind of bright future whatsoever for the LPC (I echo PSA's feelings in this).

What a shame.

What a damn shame.

The Case Of The Telltale Hoax

Who was behind the Mumbai massacre?

The idea that a nuclear war could be started by a hoax caller may seem too Bizarro Worldish, even for the post-9/11 era, but there you have it:

"A hoax caller claiming to be India's foreign minister threatened Pakistan's president with war during the final hours of the Mumbai attacks, prompting Islamabad to put its air force on its highest alert for nearly 24 hours, a news report said Saturday."

How did the Mumbai prankster get through to the president of Pakistan? Simple: caller ID! Naturally, these things can be faked, but what do they know in Pakistan? (Although I'll bet the caller wouldn't have gotten through to Gen. Pervez "No Nonsense" Musharraf, the previous "president"-cum-dictator.)

What this underscores – apart from the tenuous character of human existence and the utter absurdity of life – is how delicate the balance of terror is these days. One false move and – ka-boom! – the world (or a good chunk of it) goes up in a puff of smoke. If you like your humor dark and unsweetened, then this is mordantly funny. What's not so funny, however, is the probable answer to the obvious question: who made the call?

Keep Reading ...

punditman says ... This is a bit of a meandering column but well worth the read. It underscores the utter futlility of waging war in a region known for its byzantine politics and religious fanaticism. In other words, good luck trying to wade through the region by declaring as your objective the destruction of the abstract noun known as terrorism.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

BushCo And Torture: To Prosecute, Or Not To Prosecute?

One of Barack Obama’s first acts as president should be to instruct his attorney general to appoint an independent prosecutor to initiate a criminal investigation of former Bush Administration officials who gave the green light to torture.

At Obama’s press conference on Dec. 1, he spoke of upholding America’s highest values as he introduced Eric Holder as his choice for attorney general. Holder insisted there was no tension between protecting the people of the United States and adhering to our Constitution.

A few months ago, Holder was even more explicit. “Our government authorized the use of torture, approved of secret electronic surveillance against American citizens, secretly detained American citizens without due process of law, denied the writ of habeas corpus to hundreds of accused enemy combatants and authorized the use of procedures that violate both international law and the United States Constitution,” he said. “We owe the American people a reckoning.”

The day of reckoning is fast upon us.

Keep Reading ...

punditman says ... But will it happen? I'd say don't hold your breath.

Science And Religion: Two Short Answers To Two (Stupid) Questions

First question:
Is there such a thing as a "clean-cut" division between religion and science?
Answer: Can you properly add 1 and 1 together, you pretentious IDiot?

Second question:
Is the creation of the world "so mysterious" that it requires something as large as an Almighty to explain it, and yet remaining compatible with the scientific proof that there is evolution?
Answer: Oops - looks like you can't properly add 1 and 1 together, you fatuous ignoramus.

Bonus answer to both questions: what's next - a full blown philosophical and theological discussion on the sex and gender of angels, actually supported by scientific evidence?

Sorry folks - I just don't have any patience or sympathy today for primitive mind-thinking, intellectual sloth-driven incompetent morons.

After all, a spade is a spade and has to be called for what it is, eh?

In These Times Of Merry This And Merry That ...

... just another little reminder of what is basically at stake, above and beyond everything else:

World’s hungry ‘close to one billion’

The food crisis has pushed the number of hungry people in the world to almost 1bn, in what the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation described on Tuesday as a “serious setback” to global efforts to reduce mass starvation.

“The ongoing financial and economic crisis could tip even more people into hunger and poverty,” the FAO added.

The Rome-based organisation said that a preliminary estimate showed the number of undernourished people rose this year by 40m to about 963m people, after rising 75m in 2007. Before the food crisis, there were about 848m chronically hungry people in 2003-05.

“High food prices are driving millions of people into food insecurity, worsening conditions for many who were already food-insecure, and threatening long-term global food security,” the FAO said in its report The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2008.

Prices of agricultural commodities such as wheat, corn and rice jumped to record levels earlier this year, triggering food riots in countries ranging from Haiti to Egypt to Bangladesh and prompting appeals for food aid for more than 30 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Although food commodity prices have fallen about 50 per cent from this summer’s all-time highs, they remain well above pre-crisis levels. The cost of rice, for example, has halved since July, but it still trades at prices that are 95 per cent above 2005 levels.

In addition, the weakening of some emerging countries’ currencies against the US dollar has partially erased gains from the drop in commodity prices.

The new FAO estimates also show the food crisis has thrown into reverse a decline over a quarter-century in the proportion of undernourished people as a percentage of the world’s population. The percentage has risen now to about 17 per cent, up from a record low of 16 per cent in 2003-05 period, but still below the 20 per cent of 1990-92.

“Soaring food prices have reversed some of the gain and successes in hunger reduction, making the mission of achieving the internationally agreed goal on hunger reduction more difficult,” the FAO said.

Now, here is the total population of the World, projected to 12/10/08 at 15:36 GMT (EST+5):
So, this means roughly that for every seven human beings on our homeworld, one is malnourished or starving ...

It says a lot about modern Humanity, no?

Food for thought indeed ...

Harper Checkmated?

At the Prime Minister’s request, the newly minted 40th parliament of Canada has been prorogued, closed until January 26th, creating a situation unprecedented in Canadian history — a government has avoided defeat by dismissing the nation’s lawmakers.

Over the next seven weeks, we will see a wave of propaganda and mobilization, amply funded, from the Conservative Party attacking the opposition leaders. This spending will take place outside the election writ period and thus, like the attacks on Liberal leader Stéphane Dion over the past two years, will be subject to no spending limits whatsoever.

At the end of January, on the date that he has chosen, Mr. Harper will meet Parliament and present a budget.

If his budget and/or throne speech fail to pass the House, Mr. Harper will seek — perhaps successfully — to dissolve parliament and go to a general election. He will have the momentum of seven weeks of wall-to-wall campaigning, without bothersome election spending restrictions, at his back.

If the Conservatives receive a couple of percentage points more of the vote (or if, for example, the Green Party takes one or two percentage points more), Mr. Harper may well receive the majority he has been desperately seeking.

With a majority, Mr. Harper will be able to move rapidly to do many of the things he has been restrained from doing so far — whether this means emasculating the opposition parties by removing democratic, proportional, public funding, completing the destruction of the Canadian Wheat Board, or undermining Aboriginal and women’s rights.

If the Liberals and the NDP enter the next election competing against each other as usual — something Mr. Harper is counting on — they will divide once again the votes of progressive Canadians (the majority) and may well leave themselves, and our democracy, badly damaged.

One thing Mr. Harper may not have counted on is that, instead of falling apart, the coalition may solidify and take the initiative.

This could happen if the NDP and the Liberals (and, hopefully, the Greens as well) make a concrete agreement not to run against each other in any riding in the country.

Keep Reading ...

Punditman says ...
Perhaps Stephen Harper is checkmated or perhaps not. But the only real hope for Canadian progressives is a functional coalition of fellow travelers who can actually challenge the right-wing in Canada on the same playing field. Not the current namby pamby effort.

Unfortunately, it seems Michael ("Invade Iraq") Ignatieff looks as though he will gain control of the Liberals, at least for now. We are either back to square one and the Left will once again split into more pieces than a toxic derivative, or it is time to start to build a real coalition that can actually defeat Harper in the soon-to-be next election.
Why not take it one step further and form a new party if necessary? Whaddya think, comrades?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Revenge Of Teh Machine

Sunday after lunch, my PC decided to refuse to work properly - in fact, it is plainly refusing to work, period.

I will endeavor this week to remedy the problem - most likely by buying a new machine.

In the meantime, what little blogging I can do while I'm at the office, I will continue to do (usually, I blog in the evening, including writing posts scheduled to be published at specific times the next day, and so on). Hence, blogging on my part will be quite light and erratic for this week at the very least (i.e. until I get my new machine - keeping my fingers crossed that this happens sooner than later).

I apologize for the inconvenience.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

On Harper: Two Short Answers To Two Quick Questions

First question:
Has Harper Hurt National Unity?
Answer: you bet, he did. Because he ever uses the Rovian playbook of fearmongering and creating divisiveness among the electorate in order to assure his stay in power.

Second question:
Is it Harper's nature to only feel truly alive when voicing hostility and contempt for his "enemies"?
Answer: of course, because that is what primitive mind-thinking incompetents do. That is all they do, that is all they can do.

Bonus answer to both questions: Chassez le naturel et il revient vite au gallop.

Any other questions?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

NATO Backs Missile Shield Over Russian Protest

NATO foreign ministers today praised America’s planned missile defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic as making a “substantial contribution” to protecting Europe from long-range ballistic missiles.

The United States insists that the shield is primarily directed at the threat of long-range Iranian missiles, though both the missile base and the radar station are well outside the range of Iran’s most advanced missile. Rather, Russia sees the bases and the 10 interceptor missiles to be placed there sometime in the next few years as an effort to slightly degrade their retaliatory capability.

President-elect Barack Obama has not yet committed to completing the base, saying he would do so only if the technology is proven workable. Russia has responded to the plan by threatening to place Iskander missiles and jamming equipment in the exclave of Kaliningrad to counter the shield. President Medvedev says his government is willing to reverse the decision to place the missiles in Kaliningrad if Obama cancels construction of the missile defense.

punditman says ...

As senior citizens' savings evaporate into a firepit of financial ruin, as the credit crisis deepens and unemployment creeps upwards, why this is just what we need: another arms race based on a massively expensive technology that doesn't work and serves only to increase tensions with the Kremlin. How does the US/NATO expect the Russians to react? Just sit there and take it on the chin?

It kind of reminds me of the Canadian Parliament. What did Harper expect the opposition to do after he tried to cut them off at the knees? The art of compromise seems to have been expunged from political discourse.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Pakistan's Crossroads

Following up on the previous post - when one talks about Afghanistan, one must also talk about Pakistan.

Truth be told - it was always this way from the beginning, except in the minds of those incompetents who devised the Global War on Terror(TM) and the Afghanistan war itself, as well as in the minds of those MSM/traditional media stenographers.

Nevertheless - the fate of Pakistan and its apparent slow destabilization does not bode well at all - especially when taking into consideration that this nation is one of the few "nuclear powers" on the planet ...

Fair warning?

Sure sounds like one ...

Pakistan Nears the Breaking Point
Meltdown for U.S. South Asia Policy?

By Peter Lee

After the initial shock of the Mumbai attack wore off in Pakistan—and the international consensus that the attackers were Pakistani coalesced -- there was an immediate and emotional rejection of the idea that long-suffering Pakistan should be further destabilized under U.S. and Indian insistence that the miscreants be pursued inside Pakistan’s borders.

A common theme in Pakistan’s media is that the Mumbai attack was carried out by Hindu extremists, or even was a false flag operation carried out by India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) to provoke a conflict with Pakistan.

One commenter opined, Maybe this wasn’t India’s 9/11. Maybe it was India’s Oklahoma City.

That’s very bad news for the United States and its covert struggle inside Pakistan against government and public apathy concerning the Western struggle to stabilize Afghanistan, and to neutralize pro-Taliban and pro-al Qaeda elements in the Inter Services Intelligence directorate (ISI).

Pakistan’s Zardari government, which is almost doglike in its desire to please the United States, is nervously playing word games about cooperating with India as the United States demands, while it drags its feet in order to keep in step with its domestic constituency.

The U.S. is fully aware of the fragility of the Zardari government, and popular resistance to U.S. aims in the region, and is trying to tread carefully, eschewing the rhetoric of the war on terror.

However, by the momentum of its policies, the desperate need to keep Afghanistan from going down the tubes, its pro-India tilt in South Asia, and the discovery of another lever to compel Pakistan’s cooperation, the United States appears determined to disregard or steamroll over Pakistan’s obvious anxieties.

Seemingly eager to demonstrate that he possesses an invincible tin ear when it comes to Pakistani politics, Admiral Mullen took advantage of his meeting with Zardari to press Pakistan’s participation in what is possibly the only initiative less popular than assisting the Indians in a murder investigation—America’s bloody counterinsurgency campaign against the Taliban and al Qaeda in eastern Afghanistan and western Pakistan.

Trouble is, the War on Terror dog doesn’t hunt anymore where it matters most—Pakistan.

Today the rhetoric of the war on terror is irretrievably linked to the United States, its failed strategy, its dubious objectives…and Islamabad’s coerced participation in a U.S.-orchestrated military, political, economic, and security drama that threatens to rip Pakistan apart.

The result is skewed narratives, distorted policies, an unavoidable but counter-productive American reliance on arm-twisting instead of persuasion, and a visceral Pakistan opposition to U.S. policies that is reaching the point of desperate revulsion.

And, triumphant Democrats be warned, it doesn’t look like things will improve in an Obama administration.

But to me the Mumbai attack looks a lot like blowback from the U.S. campaign to rein in Pakistan’s Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) apparatus and orchestrate an anti-Taliban/anti-al Qaeda united front of democracies stretching from Kabul to Islamabad to New Delhi.

Any proven involvement by Pakistani state institutions in the Mumbai attack would be a catastrophe for Pakistan-India relations.

It would immediately provoke the shift of Pakistan’s military focus and resources away from a conflict it detests—the U.S. imposed counterinsurgency in west Pakistan’s Frontier and Tribal Areas (FATA)--to an arrangement much more comfortable for Pakistan’s army: the familiar display of ritualized hostility and the deployment of a conventional order of battle on the eastern border with India.

Therefore, despite some hard-to-explain anomalies, there is a determined effort by the United States, with the obliging assistance of the media, to squeeze the Mumbai outrage into a conventional South Asian tale: a brutal episode in the proxy war between Pakistan and India over Kashmir, with militants of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) Kashmir independence organization nurtured by Pakistan’s ISI serving as shock troops in the struggle.

The Mumbai operation was carefully planned over an extended period—perhaps a year—apparently in Pakistan.

The terrorists had an entire merchant ship at their disposal, as well as an arsenal of weapons. Their complex plan to evade detection by the Indian military involved locating and hijacking a suitable vessel. They got their vessel, executed the hapless captain (and apparently his crew), and continued on their mission.

Further reports indicate that the attackers left timed explosive charges in the two taxis they took to reach their targets, in order to kill the drivers and further cover their tracks.

The subsequent assault culminated in near simultaneous attacks on multiple targets and a protracted siege at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel where the attackers held off Indian commandoes for sixty hours.

No wonder that people are thinking that al Qaeda or Pakistan’s ISI are the only two organizations that could have carried out such a massive, well-planned assault.

Efforts to paint the attack as a LeT initiative are less convincing.

Clearly, the elephant in the room is Pakistan’s ISI, which has supported LeT as a proxy in its struggle with India.

The ISI, which nurtured the anti-Soviet mujahideen in Afghanistan (with U.S. aid) and supported the Taliban government is not sympathetic to America’s faltering effort to create an anti-Taliban bulwark in Kabul.

It is especially unhappy that the United States has abandoned any pretense of even-handedness in the Pakistan-India relationship.Washington has overtly tilted toward New Delhi.

An eyebrow-raising nuclear giveaway negotiated bilaterally between the U.S. and India allowed India to normalize its relationship with the international nuclear and non-proliferation community even while the Bush administration denied the same facility to Pakistan.

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