Saturday, March 30, 2013

President Bush uses library to try to rewrite history — MSNBC

Omission accomplished: President Bush uses library to try to rewrite history — MSNBC

Bernie Sanders - Too Big to Jail

By Bernie Sanders
Too Big to Jail?
We are supposed to be a country of laws. The laws should apply to Wall Street as well as everybody else. So I was stunned when our country's top law enforcement official recently suggested it might be difficult to prosecute financial institutions that commit crimes because it may destabilize the financial system of our country and the world.

jennifer lawrence

So wrong on an open thread - Atlas Shrugs

So wrong on a Friday night open thread with the greatest country singer ever, Patsy Cline. Patsy, Patsy, Patsy. Pure vocal emotion. This one is for those of you who have ever been wrong and didn't get it back.

21st Century Exodus - Alexandria to Jerusalem

PASSOVER INTERVIEW: Dina Ovadia has come a long way from her childhood in an Arab country, with no knowledge of her Jewish heritage. Today, she serves in the IDF. There are Cinderella stories and there’s the Passover Haggadah – but Dina’s story is a bit of both.
Florit Shoihet, IDF Website
IMG-20130320-WA0001This isn’t Cpl. Dina Ovadia’s first Passover in Israel. Slowly, slowly she seems to be moving away from her Egyptian past and becoming further ingrained in her Israeli present. Instead of thinking about her bittersweet childhood in the Egyptian city of Alexandria, Cpl. Ovadia fills her time with her army service and in preparing her home in Rimonim for the Passover holiday. Today it is possible to say that she is far more Dina Ovadia than she is Rolin Abdallah – the name her family gave her as a security measure for a Jew living in an Arab country. But Dina herself grew up totally unaware of her Jewish heritage.
Dina is telling her winding, unbelievable story for the umpteenth time, but her eyes still well up with tears. Ovadia, now 22, left her family home in Alexandria for the last time as a young and curious 15-year-old girl. All she wanted was to fit in. “Everyone always looked at me as though I was something different, the ugly duckling in the class. They asked me why I dressed the way I did, and why I spoke with my parents during the breaks, and why this and why that. I myself didn’t understand where it all came from. But I always had friends,” she says in impeccable Hebrew with a slight Arabic lilt. “I didn’t have a religious background in Christianity or in Islam. I never knew what I truly was. My parents didn’t keep the [Jewish] traditions and I always assumed that we were secular Christians.”
Dina’s childhood detachment from her heritage gives unique meaning to every Shabbat candle she lights now, to every Jewish holiday that she did not know. And Cpl. Ovadia’s story is the Passover story, thousands of years old, expressing itself again in the 21st century.

“I have surely seen the affliction of My people that are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their pains”
- Exodus 3:7

Rolin in Arabic means gentleness, but Dina was first and foremost a curious and rebellious child. She felt she had a right to belong, but she didn’t know where. “I studied in a Muslim school. I started to grow up and learn the Koran, and then I already started to ask myself: ‘why am I learning this?’ I reached a stage where I got really into it, studying for tests, memorizing passages. At school they asked me to start wearing a veil to my Koran lessons. I didn’t like the idea – as a girl it seemed ugly to me,” she smiles. The disagreement led to her parents enrolling Dina in a private Christian school, where she was more at ease. “It was really fun and I felt freer,” she says.
Dina recalls how she tried to find herself among the troubling mix of religions. “We had a mosque next to the school, and the girls would go there to pray. I told this to my mother, slightly anxiously, and she was very angry. They forbade me from doing it again. I remember that I was hurt, and I started to tell them that because of that they won’t like us, and that I wouldn’t have any friends. It was the anger of a child. During Ramadan I would escape to my friends houses, and I even fasted on one of the days, because I always wanted to belong to something and I didn’t have a clear answer for what I was,” Dina explains. When she told her parents that she had tried praying in a church, that didn’t make them any happier. They distanced her from every religion, without giving an explanation as to why.

Home Invasion

The turning point occurred on a day like any other. Dina was studying for a history test, her brother and cousin were playing on the computer upstairs, and her mother, aunt and sister were also at home. Suddenly the sounds of shouting and shattering glass cut through the calm routine. “I really panicked, and immediately I thought that because we were different they had come to our house. I went outside and saw five masked faces – they were Salafists.” Five bearded men in robes, with clubs in their hands and rifles slung over their shoulders, broke through the electric iron gate at the entrance to the grand family home and demanded to know where the men of the house were. Their explanation was as simple as it was incomprehensible: “A’lit el’Yahud” – a Jewish family.
“I thought, ‘what the hell!?’ I didn’t understand why they were saying that we were a Jewish family. Anyone who was different, the stranger, was always called ‘the Jew’. I was certain that they were mistaken. They entered the house. My mother said that the men weren’t there, and they threw her into the corridor, she slammed into the pillars, and she fainted. I started to scream – I was sure that they had killed her. And then I saw two of them going up the stairs. I heard shots. I was sure that they had murdered both my brother and my cousin.”
The Salafists went down the stairs and told the Abdallah family that they had a few days to get out of the country, and that in the meantime they could not leave their home. They threatened that if the children went to school, they would be kidnapped. Only then did they leave.
Luckily, the whole family escaped. The armed men shot at the boys’ heads, missing deliberately in order to scare them. “I think that today they would have just killed us all,” she says. From the moment of that home invasion, Dina’s life became entangled in a complex loop, while the two irreconcilable edges of her life began to unravel. “The Salafists would encircle the house in their vehicles, shooting into the air. That month even the school didn’t call. I slept with my mother – I was terribly afraid. My father told me that they are just thieves despite the fact that they didn’t take anything. ‘Jew’ was really a kind of swear word, he said; but I couldn’t believe him.”
A few days later, her grandfather gathered all of his family together and he revealed the truth. “He explained why he kept us from other religions and told us that we were Jewish, and we that we had little time to leave Egypt. He told us we were going to Israel. I remember the little ones at home were excited about it, but I wasn’t. I started crying and was so disappointed. I told him I did not want to move to that bad country. I rebelled against it.”

Mixed Messages

Dina knew very little about Jews as a child. “In school they always taught us to hate Jews and Israelis,” she says. “Let’s take Koran class for example. I would be sitting, taking a test, and would read a verse that said you need to kill Jews. I also remember during the Second Intifada all the TV programs I watched that always said that Israelis are bad. I cried over the story of Mohammed al-Dura. My grandfather did his best to explain to us that they’re not bad, that we have to understand that in war, that’s what happens. At home we were always taught that all human beings are equal and you have to respect them for who they are, no matter what their background. In school they taught us that Israel is the enemy. They would say when I grew up that I would understand. During the Intifada I was even at demonstration, waving the Palestinian flag. It never even occurred to me that I was Jewish.”
The Jewish stereotype present in Egypt was similar to what was taught in the darker racial theories of the early 20th Century. “I knew that Jews were scary, were murderers, had big noses, ears and had beards. On television you would always see babies burning in Gaza, things I’ve never seen in Israel, but that’s what we thought.”

Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which I gave to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give unto them and to their childen after them.’
- Deuteronomy 1:8

Before this dramatic turn of events, Dina tried to understand where all her friends had disappeared to. They hadn’t even called to say hi throughout the whole month. “I had a really good group of friends,” Dina says. “We lived really close to one another, and we used to sleep over at each other’s houses. I begged my mother to go and see one of them, and in the end she let me go. I knocked on her door. She opened it, made a face and slammed the door on me. What my grandfather told me passed through my head at exactly that moment: we grew up together and just because she heard that I was Jewish she doesn’t accept me anymore? That really hit me. I said: I know that the Jews are bad, but look; I’m not bad. By this time I had totally broken down. Right then I realised that this wasn’t the right place for me. They couldn’t accept me for who I was.”


The day of Dina’s aliyah was tinged with the sadness of leaving her house and turning her back on where she grew up. “The whole situation had made me feel a lot of hatred, and I realized that I had nothing there,” she says. “It turned out that my uncle, who I thought had run away to France, had actually made aliyah to Israel and had enlisted in the IDF. In Egypt there is a mandatory conscription law, and when the authorities began to investigate, they found out the truth, and my family bore the consequences. But this moment was about to come regardless of any connection to my uncle. My parents understood that their children were all growing up, and that they no longer had answers to our questions. We didn’t take anything with us except our clothes. We just left our house exactly as it was. On that same day I saw how my friends were looking at us while we were packing our things, so I just closed the blinds. I finally understood that this wasn’t my home. It was as if Egypt itself was closing the blinds on me.”
After a brief flight to Istanbul and then on to Tel Aviv, Dina suddenly found herself in a land that just a month ago she had felt so far away from, mentally if not physically. “I was scared,” she says. “Who was going to welcome us? What if they didn’t like me? When I got off the plane all I saw was people smiling at us, and that made me so happy. My uncle, his family and the rabbi were waiting for us and smiling. It was weird – I didn’t understand the language, but I felt at peace, and from somewhere my friends’ rejection of me gave me strength – the strength to change myself.”
The family settled in Jerusalem, and Dina and her relatives joined a religious school. “I so badly wanted to fit in, but the first time I read the siddur I was holding it upside down,” she laughs. Dina’s new beginning wasn’t free of difficulties. “One day I was was walking down the corridor at school, and one of the girls said, “hey, Arab girl!” and she and her friends started a fight with my cousin and me. Not a very nice welcome.”
After high school, Dina began her military service as an assistant Army Radio reporter on Arab affairs. She then moved to the military police for a short period, and finally joined the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, where she helps run new media in Arabic on a variety of platforms, including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Her sister Sima is set to join her in the Spokesperson’s Unit, and her brother is currently doing a selective Air Force course.



To some extent, Dina’s job in the Spokesperson’s Unit is about getting the Arab world to truly accept her. “When I got to the Spokesperson’s Unit and realised what the work involved, I was really happy,” she says. “It’s a lot of fun to be able to show the positive side of the IDF, and to tell the world what’s really happening. The best example is Operation Pillar of Defense, where we really had a big impact. When wrote on the various platforms that the IDF doesn’t want to harm civilians, there were people in the Arab world who listened and were convinced. Sometimes they even tell us so in private messages, which is fantastic. We get comments and messages from across the Arab world; from Saudi Arabia, from Egypt, and from further afield.
While the whole Arab world has yet to accept Dina, the most important person has already accepted her – herself. “In truth, I don’t say that I’m from Egypt,” she says. “It’s behind me already. I was angry when the Rabbi changed my name for me, but now I realise how great the name ‘Dina’ is. I have no desire to live in Egypt, and I don’t think I could forgive those people for what they did. But there’s something I’ve never told anyone before,” she smiles. “I want to go back and visit, and to see my house. I want to go and look that friend of mine in the eye and tell her: I am a Jew – and I’m proud and happy. I want to go back to Egypt in uniform, to show them that we’re not murderers, that we’re not actually bad people. I’d like to go back to my school, and to the morning assembly we had at the beginning of every day. I want to explain to them that all we’re doing is defending our country.”

SB 1070 Hurts Communities

 3 Years After Passing Its 'Papers, Please' Law, Arizona Is Divided by Distrust and Fear

This week, a state civil rights board heard tales of increased racial profiling and police mistrust.
Photo Credit: Katrina Brown /
 by Valerina Fernandez, AlterNet
 PHOENIX, Ariz. -- Police pulling people over for minor infractions and asking for documents, rape victims too afraid to call the police, children living in fear of having their parents taken away. 
These were some of the stories shared by community members and immigrant advocates in Arizona, who testified before a state civil rights board this week on the enforcement of a state immigration law they say has increased racial profiling and police mistrust.
“SB 1070 is being used as a tool to intimidate and hurt communities."

Do Libertarians Hate Women?

Libertarians' Idea of the "Most Free" State Is One of America's Most Woman-Hating

Sorry, women! Your "freedoms" aren't as important as freedom from excessive taxation.
Photo Credit: Mercatus Institute
The Mercatus Institute, a libertarian-oriented — and Koch brothers-affiliated — think tank based out of George Mason University (a public university, for whatever that’s worth), regularly releases its ranking of American states in terms of “Freedom.” Their definition of “freedom” largely adheres to the standard American libertarian conception of “liberty,” which is to say it is oriented almost entirely around private property ownership and low taxation. As a result,  America’s freest state this year turns out to be North Dakota.
North Dakota has also been in the news for another reason recently. What was it, again? Oh, right,  it passed the most restrictive antiabortion laws in the country. Including a law specifically aimed at shutting down the state’s lone abortion provider. It passed this law knowing it was unconstitutional.
The data Mercatus used, as far as I can tell, are largely from 2011. But these laws wouldn’t do a thing to change’s North Dakota’s ranking, because  Mercatus doesn’t take reproductive rights into account at all. In fact, no issues specifically related to women’s rights are taken into account. Same-sex marriage is included, but not housing employment anti-discrimination rules. They do weigh “‘smoker protection’ in employment,” though. (I think they are in favor of laws barring companies from firing smokers. Isn’t that the government interfering with the employer’s Freedoms?) There is also a list ranking the states in terms of friendliness to Bachelor Parties.

Does FB Impersonalize Society?

The neoliberal experiment in the US has helped mold a society disconnected from the human condition, where oppression of the individual has aimed to thwart popular solidarity that might threaten the experiment. What should be a universal right to health care, for example, is instead wielded punitively against the population, and, as acclaimed journalist and radio host Doug Henwood points out, “Obamacare” will presumably result in a situation in which “scores of millions are thrown onto the private individual insurance market and forced to pay $1,000 a month for crappy coverage”.
Henwood hopes that “this could vastly increase the constituency for a single-payer scheme, such as Medicare for All—assuming our rulers don’t destroy Medicare first”.
In the end, perhaps Facebook and similar phenomena have already contributed to solidarity on the health care front: in the very least, we’re united in mass attention deficit disorder.
 -Belen Fernandez, Al Jazeera

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Economist on Brussels destroying Cyprus savers + economy (25Mar13) - YouTube

Economist on Brussels destroying Cyprus savers + economy (25Mar13) - YouTube

Cyprus: Another Crisis Caused By Deregulated Banks...What Say You, Libertarians? - YouTube

Cyprus: Another Crisis Caused By Deregulated Banks...What Say You, Libertarians? - YouTube

Tea Party Patriots Take Charge - A Movement On Fire! - YouTube

Tea Party Patriots - A Movement On Fire! - YouTube

Alternative Power Structure to the American Empire Keeps Growing Stronger

Western corporate media is flooded with stories about the weakening of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, but these are defensive measures.
Reports on the premature death of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) have been greatly exaggerated. Western corporate media is flooded with such nonsense, perpetrated in this particular case by the head of Morgan Stanley Investment Management.
Reality spells otherwise. The BRICS meet in Durban, South Africa, this Tuesday to, among other steps, create their own credit rating agency, sidelining the dictatorship - or at least "biased agendas", in New Delhi's diplomatic take - of the Moody's/Standard & Poor's variety. They will also further advancethe idea of the BRICS Development Bank, with a seed capital of US$50 billion (only structural details need to be finalized), helping infrastructure and sustainable development projects.

Crucially, the US and the European Union won't have stakes in this Bank of the South - a concrete alternative, pushed especially by India and Brazil, to the Western-dominated World Bank and the Bretton Woods system.

As former Indian finance minister Jaswant Singh has observed, such a development bank could, for instance, channel Beijing's know-how to help finance India's massive infrastructure needs.

The huge political and economic differences among BRICS members are self-evident. But as they evolve as a group, the point is not whether they should be protecting the global economy from the now non-stop crisis of advanced casino capitalism.

The point is that, beyond measures to facilitate mutual trade, their actions are indeed becoming increasingly political - as the BRICS not only deploy their economic clout but also take concrete steps leading towards a multipolar world. Brazil is particularly active in this regard.

Inevitably, the usual Atlanticist, Washington consensus fanatics - myopically - can see nothing else besides the BRICS "demanding more recognition from Western powers".

Of course there are problems. Brazil, China and India's growth slowed down. As China, for instance, became Brazil's top trading partner - ahead of the US - whole sectors of Brazilian industry have suffered from the competition of cheap Chinese manufacturing.

But some long-term prospects are inevitable. BRICS will eventually become more forceful at the International Monetary Fund. Crucially, BRICS will be trading in their own currencies, including a globally convertible yuan, further away from the US dollar and the petrodollar.

That Chinese slowdown
It was Goldman Sachs' Jim O'Neill who coined the term BRIC (no South Africa then) in 2001. It's enlightening to check what hethinks about it now.

O'Neill points out that China, even growing by a "mere" 7.7% in 2012, "created the equivalent of another Greek economy every 11-and-a-half weeks". China's slowdown was "structural and cyclical" - a "planned downturn" to control overheating and inflation.

The BRICS push is part of an irresistible global trend. Most of it is decoded here, in a new United Nations Development Programme report. The bottom line; the North is being overtaken in the economic race by the global South at a dizzying speed.

According to the report, "for the first time in 150 years, the combined output of the developing world's three leading economies - Brazil, China and India - is about equal to the combined GDP of the long-standing industrial powers of the North".

The obvious conclusion is that, "the rise of the South is radically reshaping the world of the 21st century, with developing nations driving economic growth, lifting hundreds of millions of people from poverty, and propelling billions more into a new global middle class."

And bang in the middle of this process, we find an Eurasian epic; the development of the Russia-China strategic relationship.

It's always about Pipelineistan
Russian President Vladimir Putin is taking no prisoners; he wants to steer the BRICS towards "a full-scale strategic cooperation mechanism that will allow us to look for solutions to key issues of global politics together".

This will imply a common BRICS foreign policy - and not only selective coordination on some themes. It will take time. It will be hard. Putin is very much aware of it.

What makes it even more fascinating is that Putin advanced his ideas during last week's three-day visit to Moscow by new Chinese President Xi Jinping. He went out of his way to stress Russian-Chinese relations now are "the best in their centuries-long history".

That's not exactly what hegemonic Atlanticists want to hear - still eager to frame the relationship in Cold War terms.

Xi retributed in style; "We did not come to see you for nothing" - as is partially detailed here. And wait till China's creative drive starts yielding dividends.

Inevitably, Pipelineistan is at the heart of the ultimate BRICS complementary relationship.

China's need of Russia's oil and gas is a matter of national security. Russia wants to sell more and more of it, diversifying away from the West; moreover, Russia would more than welcome Chinese investment in its Far East - the immense Trans-Baikal region.

And by the way, the "yellow peril" is not taking over Siberia - as the West would have it. There are only 300,000 Chinese living in Russia.

A direct consequence of the Putin-Xi summit is that from now on Beijing will pay in advance for Russian oil - in exchange for a share in a number of projects, for instance as in CNPC and Rosneft jointly exploring offshore blocks in the Barents Sea and other blocks onshore Russia.

Gazprom, for its part, clinched a long awaited gas deal with CNPC; 38 billion cubic meters a year delivered by the ESPO pipeline from Siberia starting in 2018. And by the end of 2013, a new Chinese contract with Gazprom will be finalized, involving gas supply for the next 30 years.

The geopolitical ramifications are immense; importing more gas from Russia helps Beijing to gradually escape its Malacca and Hormuz dilemma - not to mention industrialize the immense, highly populated and heavily dependent on agriculture interior provinces left behind in the economic boom.

That's how Russian gas fits into the Chinese Communist Party's master plan; configuring the internal provinces as a supply base for the increasingly wealthy, urban, based in the east coast, 400 million-strong Chinese middle class.

When Putin stressed that he does not see the BRICS as a "geopolitical competitor" to the West, it was the clincher; the official denial that confirms it's true. Durban may be solidifying just the beginning of such a competition. It goes without saying that Western elites - even mired in stagnation and bankruptcy - won't let any of their privileges go without a fierce fight.
Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times

Even a Dead Fish Can Go with the Flow

Corporate Kangaroo Courts Supplant Our Seventh Amendment Rights

Being wronged by a corporation is painful enough, but just try getting your day in court. Most Americans don't realize it, but our Seventh Amendment right to a fair jury trial against corporate wrongdoers has quietly been stripped from us. Instead, we are now shunted into a stacked-deck game called "Binding Mandatory Arbitration." Proponents of the process hail it as superior to the courts — "faster, cheaper and more efficient!" they exclaim.
But does it deliver justice? It could, for the original concept of voluntary, face-to-face resolution of conflict by a neutral third party makes sense in many cases. But remember what Mae West said of her own virtue: "I used to be Snow White, then I drifted." Today's practice of arbitration has drifted far away from the purity of the concept.
All you really need to know about today's process is that it's the product of years of conceptual monkey-wrenching by corporate lobbyists, Congress, the Supreme Court and hired-gun lobbying firms looking to milk the system for steady profits. First and foremost, these fixers have turned a voluntary process into the exact opposite: mandatory. Let's look at this mess.
— Unlike courts, arbitration is not a public system, but a private business.
— Far from being neutral, "the third-party" arbitration firms are — get this! — usually hand-picked by the corporation involved in the case, chosen specifically because they have proven records of favoring the corporation.
— The corporation also gets to choose the city or town where the case is heard, allowing it to make the case inconvenient, expensive and unfair to individuals bringing a complaint.
— Arbitrators are not required to know the law relevant to the cases they judge or follow legal precedents.
— Normal procedural rules for gathering and sharing evidence and safeguarding fairness to both parties do not apply in arbitration cases.
— Arbitration proceedings are closed to the media and the public.
— Arbitrators need not reveal the reasons for their decisions, so they are not legally accountable for errors, and the decisions set no legal precedents for guiding future corporate conduct.
— Even if an arbitrator's decision is legally incorrect, it still is enforceable, carrying the full weight of the law.
— There is virtually no right to appeal an arbitrator's ruling.
That adds up to a kangaroo court! Who would choose such a rigged system? No one. Which is why corporate America has resorted to brute force and skullduggery to drag you into their arbitration wringer.
By "force," I mean practically every business relationship you have with a corporation (customer, employee, supplier, etc.) begins with you blindly signing away your right to go to court. Written in indecipherable legalese, these sneaky provisos are usually secluded in the tiny-type of pre-printed, take-it-or-leave-it, non-negotiable contracts.
By "you," I mean everyone one of us who: takes a job, gets a credit card, subscribes to cable TV, buys an insurance policy, rents an apartment, purchases nearly any new product (from cellphone to house), has a home remodeled or car repaired, enters a nursing home, becomes a franchisee or corporate supplier or signs up with a landscaping service.
If you seek justice because you've been gouged by your bank, discriminated against, sexually harassed, unfairly fired, cheated on wages, sold a shoddy product, denied health care coverage or otherwise harmed by a corporation, you'll most likely find that you're barred from the courthouse door. That document you unwittingly signed has shackled you to the corporation's own privatized court.
Since binding mandatory arbitration "agreements" are written by corporate lawyers, it's no surprise that they stack the deck in favor of corporations. But — wow! — the percentage of rigged wins is disgusting.
For example, Public Citizen found that one giant firm, the National Arbitration Forum, heard over 34,000 consumer-versus-bank cases in California. It sided with financial giants 95 percent of the time. Even more astonishing, the city of San Francisco found that of the 18,045 cases brought by banks and other powers against overmatched California consumers, NAF's private judges sided with the corporations 100 percent of the time.
To learn more about this rigged system, and to get involved with fighting against forced arbitration, check out Citizen Works at

Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Cyprus push back

Kuttner wrote:
It’s time for the peripheral European countries—Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, and now Cyprus—to push back. Only a unified threat to quit the euro might get the attention of Brussels and Berlin.
What would happen if one or more countries actually reverted to their own currencies? Financial elites around the world say that would be catastrophic, but for Europe’s small nations, the catastrophe is now.
If Cyprus or Greece or Spain or Portugal (or better yet, all of them en bloc) decided to quit the euro and revert to drachmas and pesetas, they would need to block bank accounts, impose currency and capital controls, and default on some of all of their foreign debts, which would be re-denominated in the new local currency. There would be lawsuits up the gazork, but the IMF and ECB would have to step in to limit the broader damage even if they disapproved.
However, based on comments by Cyprus leaders, Krugman's advice (as he well understands) is not likely to be followed.
''An exit from the eurozone, which could also mean an exit from the European Union, would be disastrous both politically and economically,'' said Cypriot Finance Minister Michalis Sarris on Tuesday. ''It is a hypothesis we do not even wish to contemplate."
But as the global financial community responds to the realities of the Cyprus situation, some market analysts are saying that Cyprus will not have to "exit" the Eurozoneas it appears likely the Euro in many ways will simply evaporate from Cyprus.
"Cyprus is effectively no longer a full member of the eurozone," declared an analysis from Morgan Stanley on Wednesday morning.
As the Digital Journal reports:
The EU bailout deal ensures Cyprus remains a member of the eurozone, avoiding a disorderly default and return to the Cypriot pound. However, its banking sector has been decimated and its reputation as a safe refuge for foreign deposits destroyed. Capital flight will bolster and benefit banks in northern Europe, notably Luxembourg and Germany. The rift between northern EU members and the Mediterranean nations grows.
Cypriots face an uncertain future with inevitable job losses and business closures, while waiting to hear the terms of German dictated austerity they must now knuckle under.
As Cypriot banks remain closed and bank officials attempt to make sense of the restrictions which capital controls will place on funds when banks reopen, the flaws of a single eurozone currency are exposed.
And reporting from public protests in the capital of Nicosia on Tuesday, Reuters adds:
"They've just got rid of all our dreams, everything we've worked for, everything we've achieved up until now, what our parents have achieved," said one student, named Thomas.
Outside the central bank, about 200 employees of the country's biggest commercial lender, the Bank of Cyprus, demanded the resignation of the central bank governor, Panicos Demetriades, chanting "Hands off Cyprus" and "Disgrace".
Dimos Dimosthenous, who has worked at the Bank of Cyprus for over 30 years, said: "The bank is being driven to closure.
"That will be the end. Our jobs, our rights, our welfare funds will be lost and Cyprus will be destroyed.

"Leave the Euro. Now." Krugman advises

Krugman's Advice to Cyprus: 'Leave the Euro. Now.'

Economist says best thing nation coud do is save itself the pain by making immediate exit from the Eurozone

- Jon Queally, staff writer
Asked to put aside the obstacles of political reality or feasibility and simply offer his unadulterated advice to the nation of Cyprus, Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman spoke bluntly and plainly by agreeing to say what he would do if it was up to him.
Students take part in an anti-Troika protest outside the Presidential palace in Nicosia March 26, 2013. (Photo: Reuters/Yorgos Karahalis) "Cyprus should leave the euro. Now," Krugman said on Tuesday.
As the banks in Cyprus remain closed and public opposition to the bailout deal being orchestrated grows, Krugman explained why he (and many others) support the idea of an exit.
"The reason is straightforward," He continued. "Staying in the euro means an incredibly severe depression, which will last for many years while Cyprus tries to build a new export sector. Leaving the euro, and letting the new currency fall sharply, would greatly accelerate that rebuilding."
The exit plan itself would be murky, admits Krugman—acknowledging "it all sounds kind of desperate and improvised"—but such actions would be appropriate given the situation.
"We’re talking about Greek-level austerity or worse in an economy whose fundamentals, thanks to the implosion of offshore banking, are much worse than Greece’s ever were," he said.
And Krugman's not alone in his assessment. As the crises unfolded last week, economist Robert Kuttner, writing at the American Prospect, suggested that Cyprus (and other countries as well) should also leave the Eurozone—or at least make serious threats to do so—as a way to put pressure on the Troika (the EU, ECB, and the IMF) to bend in the severity of their demands.
Common Dreams

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

FB photos used by NYPD to track criminals

High-Tech NYPD Unit Tracks Criminals Through Facebook and Instagram Photos

March 26, 2013
Socializing online is landing criminals in custody.
Police are searching for suspects’ photos on Instagram and Facebook, then running them through the NYPD’s new Facial Recognition Unit to put a face to a name, DNAinfo New York has learned.
Detectives are now breaking cases across the city thanks to the futuristic technology that marries mug shots of known criminals with pictures gleaned from social media, surveillance cameras and anywhere else cops can find images.
“It is the one time something you see on a television show is actually working in the real world,” said one top police official who went from a tech skeptic to a fan.

Does Austerity Include Crushing Bank Depositors?

Is This The Diabolical "Master Plan" Behind Crushing Europe's Depositors

March 26, 2013

Source: Zero Hedge

Last week, when we commented on the absolutely idiotic Eurogroup proposal (now voted down and replaced by an equally idiotic "bank resolution" proposal which will see uninsured deposits virtually wiped out) to tax uninsured and insured deposits, we jokingly suggested that this may be merely the latest ploy by the legacy status quo to achieve one simple thing: force depositors across the continent (and soon, world) to pull their money out of a malevolent, hostile banking system and push that money into stocks, or simply to spend it. This would help finally defeat the biggest bogeyman of the centrally-planned reflation attempt in the past 4 years - the absolutely dismal velocity of money which drops every time the G-7 central planners inject liquidity into stocks.
We were joking, because it would be beyond conspiratorial to suggest that a central bank could go as far as wiping out the wealth and savings of an entire nation in order to promote broken monetary policy. It would be outright idiotic and not to mention criminal. Why purposefully endanger depositors, and thus an entire financial system, just to spook them and their money? Or so we thought until we read the following just as "conspiratorial" take from Deutsche Bank's Jim Reid:
Maybe the lesson from all of this is that if you are fortunate enough to have a fair degree of money you might be better off spending it! Maybe that’s the master plan here? Boosting activity by forcing people to use their money rather than deposit it! Indeed I wonder how long it’ll be before an equity strategist suggests that this is bullish as money might now leave deposit accounts and go into equities!
Sarcastic humor or sad, insolvent reality... You decide.

EU may confiscate funds of foreign depositors

EU to Bank Depositors in Other Member States: You Could Be Next

March 26, 2013

Source: Telegraph
Savings accounts in Spain, Italy and other European countries will be raided if needed to preserve Europe’s single currency by propping up failing banks, a senior eurozone official has announced.
The new policy will alarm hundreds of thousands of British expatriates who live and have transferred their savings, proceeds from house sales and other assets to eurozone bank accounts in countries such as France, Spain and Italy.
The euro fell on global markets after Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch chairman of the eurozone, announced that the heavy losses inflicted on depositors in Cyprus would be the template for future banking crises across Europe.
“If there is a risk in a bank, our first question should be ‘Okay, what are you in the bank going to do about that? What can you do to recapitalise yourself?’,” he said.
“If the bank can’t do it, then we’ll talk to the shareholders and the bondholders, we’ll ask them to contribute in recapitalising the bank, and if necessary the uninsured deposit holders.”

The Last Word: Rewriting 21st Century McCarthyism

The Last Word: Rewriting 21st Century McCarthyism

Wine: Global Warming's Latest Casualty

- Lauren McCauley, staff writer
Move over polar bears. Yet another of mankind's most beloved gifts of nature is now reportedly a casualty of human-caused global warming.
(Photo: tribp via Flickr) According to Agence France Presse, the effects of global warming are wreaking havoc on wine-producing grapes as higher temperatures and widespread drought are drastically altering the once "ideal climactic conditions" of those Mediterranean hills.
"The consequences of global warming are already being felt. Harvests are already coming 10 days earlier than before in almost all wine-growing regions," said Bernard Seguin, the head of climate studies at France's INRA agricultural research institute, speaking at the Second International Congress on Wine and Climate Change on Friday.
"If the temperature rises two or three degrees (centigrade), we could manage to see Bordeaux remain as Bordeaux, Rioja as Rioja, Burgundy as Burgundy," he added. "But if it goes up five or six degrees, we must face up to huge problems, and the changes will be hard."
Common Dreams

Cyprus: demands Troika Hands Off

Plans to open banks in Cyprus Tuesday morning were cancelled late Monday night as the firestorm surrounding the island nation's economy continued to grow and protesters amassed on the streets to vent their growing anger with a bailout agreement that they fear will plunge their economy into deeper crisis.
Large crowds—mostly students and young people—marched in the nation's capital of Nicosia, denouncing the deal which critics and experts say will cause 'years of suffering' for ordinary Cypriots.
As Al-Jazeera reports:
The protesters, many of them students who organised the event online, were cheered on by government workers as they marched past the labour ministry.
"Troika out of Cyprus," said banners held by the angry students, in reference to the three creditors.
"Hands off Cyprus," and "Those who stole our money should go to jail and pay," chanted the demonstrators.
Meanwhile, fears grew throughout the Eurozone and beyond following comments by the Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who heads the Eurogroup, said that the controversial levy on deposits proposed for Cyprus should be the model for future bailouts. He later amended his comments.
Common Dreams

The Morality Brigade by Robert Reich

The Morality Brigade

We’re still legislating and regulating private morality, while at the same time ignoring the much larger crisis of public morality in America.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My Children Have No Future

Dahr Jamail

Today, not to put too fine a point on it, Iraq is a failed state, teetering on the brink of another sectarian bloodbath, and beset by chronic political deadlock and economic disaster.  Its social fabric has been all but shredded by nearly a decade of brutal occupation by the U.S. military and now by the rule of an Iraqi government rife with sectarian infighting.
Every Friday, for 13 weeks now, hundreds of thousands have demonstrated and prayed on the main highway linking Baghdad and Amman, Jordan, which runs just past the outskirts of this city.
Sunnis in Fallujah and the rest of Iraq’s vast Anbar Province are enraged at the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki because his security forces, still heavily staffed by members of various Shia militias, have been killing or detaining their compatriots from this region, as well as across much of Baghdad.  Fallujah’s residents now refer to that city as a “big prison,” just as they did when it was surrounded and strictly controlled by the Americans.
Angry protesters have taken to the streets. “We demand an end to checkpoints surrounding Fallujah.  We demand they allow in the press.  We demand they end their unlawful home raids and detentions.  We demand an end to federalism and gangsters and secret prisons!” So Sheikh Khaled Hamoud Al-Jumaili, a leader of the demonstrations, tells me just prior to one of the daily protests. “Losing our history and dividing Iraqis is wrong, but that, and kidnapping and conspiracies and displacing people, is what Maliki is doing.”
The sheikh went on to assure me that millions of people in Anbar province had stopped demanding changes in the Maliki government because, after years of waiting, no such demands were ever met.   “Now, we demand a change in the regime instead and a change in the constitution,” he says. “We will not stop these demonstrations. This one we have labeled ‘last chance Friday’ because it is the government’s last chance to listen to us.”
“What comes next,” I ask him, “if they don’t listen to you?”
“Maybe armed struggle comes next,” he replies without pause

Did Iraq War Lead to a Better Future?

Tom Dispatch

In the lead-up to the war in Iraq, President George W. Bush made a promise. “The Iraqi people can be certain of this,” he said. “The United States is committed to helping them build a better future.” A decade later, his successor, Barack Obama, seemed to suggest the U.S. had kept its end of the bargain. On the 10th anniversary of the invasion, he lauded U.S. troops who, he insisted, gave the Iraqi people "an opportunity to forge their own future after many years of hardship."

A promise made, a promised kept. Mission accomplished, right?

Brazil Ousts Indigenous Before World Cup

Brazilian riot police violently evicted a group of indigenous people from a former museum they had occupied in Rio de Janeiro to make way for 2014 World Cup construction. Maracanã Village is the latest in a series of such evictions that have drawn criticism from human rights defenders.
Read more on Global Voices »

American Exceptionalism - 4th in Inequality

. The U.S. is nearly the most wealth-unequal country in the entire world Out of 141 countries, the U.S. has the 4th-highest degree of wealth inequality in the world, trailing only Russia, Ukraine, and Lebanon.
Yet the financial industry keeps creating new wealth for its millionaires. According to the authors of the Global Wealth Report, the world's wealth has doubled in ten years, from $113 trillion to $223 trillion, and is expected to reach $330 trillion by 2017.
Common Dreams

A can of soup for a black or Hispanic woman, a mansion and yacht for the businessman

That's literally true. For every one dollar of assets owned by a single black or Hispanic woman, a member of the Forbes 400 has over forty million dollars.
Minority families once had substantial equity in their homes, but after Wall Street caused the housing crash, median wealth fell 66% for Hispanic households and 53% for black households. Now the average single black or Hispanic woman has about $100 in net worth.

Ugly Extremes in America - Common Dreams

For CEOs and minimum-wage workers, the difference is $5,000.00 per hour vs. $7.25 per hour.

A single top income could buy housing for every homeless person in the U.S.
On a winter day in 2012 over 633,000 people were homeless in the United States. Based on an annual single room occupancy (SRO) cost of $558 per month, any ONE of the ten richest Americans would have enough with his 2012 income to pay for a room for every homeless person in the U.S. for the entire year. These ten rich men together made more than our entire housing budget.
For anyone still believing "they earned it," it should be noted that most of the Forbes 400 earnings came from minimally-taxed, non-job-creating capital gains.

The poorest 47% of Americans have no wealth
In 1983 the poorest 47% of America had $15,000 per family, 2.5 percent of the nation's wealth.
In 2009 the poorest 47% of America owned ZERO PERCENT of the nation's wealth (their debt exceeded their assets).
At the other extreme, the 400 wealthiest Americans own as much wealth as 80 million families -- 62% of America. The reason, once again, is the stock market. Since 1980 the American GDP has approximately doubled. Inflation-adjusted wages have gone down. But the stock market has increased by over ten times, and the richest quintile of Americans owns 93% of it.

The U.S. is nearly the most wealth-unequal country in the entire world
Out of 141 countries, the U.S. has the 4th-highest degree of wealth inequality in the world, trailing only Russia, Ukraine, and Lebanon.
Yet the financial industry keeps creating new wealth for its millionaires. According to the authors of the Global Wealth Report, the world's wealth has doubled in ten years, from $113 trillion to $223 trillion, and is expected to reach $330 trillion by 2017.

A can of soup for a black or Hispanic woman, a mansion and yacht for the businessman
That's literally true. For every one dollar of assets owned by a single black or Hispanic woman, a member of the Forbes 400 has over forty million dollars.
Minority families once had substantial equity in their homes, but after Wall Street caused the housing crash, median wealth fell 66% for Hispanic households and 53% for black households. Now the average single black or Hispanic woman has about $100 in net worth.

No Prizes for Being Right - Truthout


It might be fun for some people to say "I told you so." But it's little consolation to those of us who opposed the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, or who knew it was a bad idea to bail out big banks instead of breaking them up.

The consequences of these indefensible policy decisions, in terms of human misery, are too real and ongoing to make it worth giving ourselves a self-satisfied pat on the back.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Iraq - Review on the 10th Anniversary

Last week marked a decade since the then George W. Bush administration declared the war against Iraq, as part as his fight against terrorism. A handful of journalists, social media users, and experts analyzed the consequences of this conflict, which ended officially on December 18, 2011.
Read more on Global Voices »

The Day TV News Died - Chris Hedges

Common Dreams
I am not sure exactly when the death of television news took place. The descent was gradual—a slide into the tawdry, the trivial and the inane, into the charade on cable news channels such as Fox and MSNBC in which hosts hold up corporate political puppets to laud or ridicule, and treat celebrity foibles as legitimate news. But if I had to pick a date when commercial television decided amassing corporate money and providing entertainment were its central mission, when it consciously chose to become a carnival act, it would probably be Feb. 25, 2003, when MSNBC took Phil Donahue off the air because of his opposition to the calls for war in Iraq.
Donahue and Bill Moyers, the last honest men on national television, were the only two major TV news personalities who presented the viewpoints of those of us who challenged the rush to war in Iraq. General Electric and Microsoft—MSNBC’s founders and defense contractors that went on to make tremendous profits from the war—were not about to tolerate a dissenting voice. Donahue was fired, and at PBS Moyers was subjected to tremendous pressure. An internal MSNBC memo leaked to the press stated that Donahue was hurting the image of the network. He would be a “difficult public face for NBC in a time of war,” the memo read. Donahue never returned to the airwaves.
The celebrity trolls who currently reign on commercial television, who bill themselves as liberal or conservative, read from the same corporate script. They spin the same court gossip. They ignore what the corporate state wants ignored. They champion what the corporate state wants championed. They do not challenge or acknowledge the structures of corporate power. Their role is to funnel viewer energy back into our dead political system—to make us believe that Democrats or Republicans are not corporate pawns. The cable shows, whose hyperbolic hosts work to make us afraid self-identified liberals or self-identified conservatives, are part of a rigged political system, one in which it is impossible to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, General Electric or ExxonMobil. These corporations, in return for the fear-based propaganda, pay the lavish salaries of celebrity news people, usually in the millions of dollars. They make their shows profitable. And when there is war these news personalities assume their “patriotic” roles as cheerleaders, as Chris Matthews—who makes an estimated $5 million a year—did, along with the other MSNBC and Fox hosts.
It does not matter that these celebrities and their guests, usually retired generals or government officials, got the war terribly wrong. Just as it does not matter that Francis Fukuyama and Thomas Friedman were wrong on the wonders of unfettered corporate capitalism and globalization. What mattered then and what matters now is likability—known in television and advertising as the Q score—not honesty and truth. Television news celebrities are in the business of sales, not journalism. They peddle the ideology of the corporate state. And too many of us are buying.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

GOP plans to take the nation hostage next summer

Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. Republicans are already hatching their next plot to take our nation hostage. At his weekly press conference, John Boehner said the GOP will refuse to raise the debt ceiling in May, unless the president agrees to more spending cuts.

The curse of unwise budget cuts

In the Bible, the book of Proverbs opens with these words: "The proverbs of Solomon, David's son who was king of Israel, given to grasp wisdom and discipline, to understand deep thoughts, to acquire the discipline of wise behavior - righteousness and justice and fairness - to give insight to gullible people, to give knowledge and foresight to the young." Any parenting book will tell you that the best way to teach plan-fulness or foresight to young people is to model it. Someone should tell Congress.

Passover Matzot from Wal*Mart Pass Over

Real Jews don't eat Wal*Mart Passover Matzot
Hunger Strike: Remember those passages in the haggadah about the bread of affliction? When workers stop eating to protest conditions, you know things are really bad. That’s what happened in Cambodia earlier this month, when workers who sew clothes sold at Walmart staged  a hunger strike because they weren’t being paid the extremely meager wages they were owed.
2)  Forced Labor: If this doesn’t hit close to home, you really need to brush up on your Passover narrative. Last summer Walmart suspended one of its  seafood suppliers after an investigation discovered that workers were being forced to work up to 24 hours consecutively and had been locked in the plant. The same team found workplace violations at a dozen other Walmart food suppliers. Many of the aggrieved employees were foreign workers – strangers in a strange land indeed.
3)  Fatal Factory Fire: Last November, in a tragedy eerily reminiscent of the Shirtwaist Triangle Factory Fire of 1911, 112 workers died in a blaze at an Indonesian factory that supplied clothes to Walmart. The  New York Times discovered soon after that Walmart had played  a leading role in blocking efforts to address safety concerns at Bangladeshi factories.
4)  Quashing Freedom of Speech: As you prepare your Passover meditation on the meaning of freedom, keep in mind that among the most basic of liberties is the right to speak freely. This is not a right enjoyed by Walmart employees, which is why last December Walmart workers in 10 countries participated in a  global protest against the company’s use of intimidation and firings to silence disgruntled workers.
5)  Bribery Scandal: Last April, the  New York Times broke the story that Walmart had allegedly covered up  a bribery scandal in Mexico. The corporation’s Mexican subsidiary reportedly gave tens of millions of dollars to government officials to grease the wheels for store development there, and Walmart’s head honchos back home in Bentonville turned a blind eye. What’s the connection to Passover? We’re not sure, but we know your bubbi would not approve.
Danny Feingold is communications director at LAANE and the editor-at-large of Frying Pan News

How Iceland recovered from recession so quickly

Why Iceland did well while USA and Europe failed? - BlacklistedNewsRadio

If Cyprus wants to be the next Iceland...

They should take a gander at the Icelandic playbook

Saturday, March 23, 2013

US Senate Bribed $8 millions to Cut the USA in Half

(Washington, DC 3/22) Today the United States Senate passed the Hoeven amendment 62 to 37, a non-binding amendment that expresses support for building the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
That’s the U.S. Senate, the chamber of Congress with a Democratic majority.
The planned Keystone XL pipeline would bring tarsands oil from its source in Canada to refineries in Texas.
Tarsands oil represents a whole new source of fossil fuel at a time when we need to be moving in the opposite direction, burning less fossil fuel and desisting from pumping planet-warming carbon dioxide into our atmosphere.   Before the tasands effort,  it was  just starting to look like oil supplies were dwindling and nature, by removing carbon sources, would force on us the much-needed changes we could not force on ourselves.

But today’s Senate action could have been much worse. The action is a non-binding amendment, toothless perhaps because so many prevailed on their senators to vote against the thing Big Oil had asked for: fast-track, Congressional approval of the pipeline.  Fast track approval would override the process that’s already in place: an environmental impact statement (currently being overseen by the Department of State) to be followed by a national interest determination by the Department of State, and then permit issuance or denial.
Still, why would the Senate give big oil even this amendment, this “March is climate-destroying, land-confiscating, spill-threatening pipeline month” amendment?  tarsandsvote
Payback to their donors maybe? As Oil Change International reports, “the ten original co-sponsors of the Hoeven amendment received an average of $807,517 from the fossil fuel industry, 254% more than the average non-sponsoring senator, for a total of $8 million dollars from the industry.” Further, “those voting for the amendment received $499,648 from fossil fuel interests, on average, and nearly $31 million in total over their careers. Meanwhile, those voting against the amendment received $143,372 on average.”
The Department of State issued a draft supplemental environmental impact statement earlier this month. Astonishingly, that study finds that the pipeline won’t contribute to climate change because if it isn’t built the fossil fuel companies will find some other way to transport the tarsands oil.  As Assistant Secretary of State Kerri-Ann Jones said in a teleconference on March 1, the day the draft was issued, “we find in this draft that the approval or denial of any one crude oil transport project, including this proposed project, really remains unlikely to significantly impact the rate of development of the oil sands, or the continued demand for heavy crude oil in the U.S.”
It’s a draft. It’s open to public comment until April 22. To tell State what you think, send them a comment at - OEN

Why do One Million Extremists Pass Gun Laws?

Like William Spengler, the convicted felon who killed firefighters on Christmas Eve in Webster, NY with a weapon bought by a straw purchaser, Kurt Myers also set his home ablaze and began a killing spree last week in Herkimer County, New York . Like Spengler, Myers was a loner who acted strangely and whose only motive for the murders seems to be being armed-while-angry.
49-year-old Jacqueline Bouvier Hardy was pulled off a city bus in Northern Indiana this week by a former boyfriend and shot   to death in front of horrified bystanders, including children. Hardy had filed an order of protection against the shooter, Kenneth Knight, to no avail.   Nearly half the women killed every year are murdered by intimate partners, most with a firearm, reports the New York Times. Gun rights activists fight successfully to allow those, like Knight, who are under orders of protections to keep their guns. Thank you NRA.
This week 18-year-old T.J. Lane was sentenced to life in prison for the Chardon high school cafeteria shooting in Ohio a year ago which left three dead and three injured. Remorseless and wearing an undershirt emblazoned with the word "killer," Lane hurled obscenities and sexual insults at the families of victims in the courtroom.   Like Jeffrey Weise of the Red Moon Indian reservation massacre and Adam Lanza of Sandy Hook, Lane obtained his lethal weapon from a family member.
The only thing more predictable than gun murders committed by disturbed loners, enraged boyfriends and disaffected high school students who easily got guns, is lawmakers' ability to look past them to their toady ties to the NRA . Neither a congressman shot in the head or a bloodbath of four-foot-tall first-graders just learning to print, will pry our politicians out of the NRA's trigger-happy hands. (Nor will the gun lobby acknowledge how many--maybe most-- shootings are not by "outlaws" at all but formerly "law-abiding" people who become angry-while-armed)   Is anyone surprised the assault weapon ban was dropped from the pending gun bill? Did anyone think laws will change?
The NRA is like the Mafia during its heyday.

Why Tea Partiers Are Boycotting FOX

Particularly after the election, Fox keeps turning to the left,” said Stan Hjerlied, 75, of Fort Collins, Colo., and a participant in the boycott. He pointed to an interview Fox News CEO Roger Ailes gave after the election in which he said that the Republican Party and Fox News need to modernize, especially around immigration. “So we are really losing our only conservative network.”
The three-day boycott lasted Thursday morning through Sunday morning, and is the second time this group of activists have gone Fox-free in an effort to steer the coverage. Organizers say a two-day boycott earlier this month knocked 20 percent off of the network’s regular viewership. (A Daily Beast analysis of the same data showed that the boycott had little effect.)
A spokeswoman for Fox News did not respond to a request for comment.
A leader of the boycott, Kathy Amidon, of Nashville, declined an interview, instead directing The Daily Beast to a website, Benghazi-Truth. The website, a single-page, 23,000-word manifesto complete with multicolored fonts, supposedly incriminating videos of Fox News’s complicity in a coverup, and communist propaganda
Daily Beast

Friday, March 22, 2013

Miss Israel will Ask for Jonathan Pollard's Release

Miss Israel to Ask for Jonathan Pollard’s Release

Signs, hecklers, and protests urging the spy’s release continue

Leading up to and now carrying through President Obama’s visit, one inescapable name has been that of convicted American spy Jonathan Pollard. American and Israeli politicians have filed pleas asking for his release, a petition has garnered 175,000 signatures in Israel, Gilad Shalit has spoken out along with several members of the Knesset.
With Obama in Israel, an array of signs, protests, and other forms of public notice have cropped up to bring Pollard’s cause to the forefront, even as Obama has issued a statement saying that he has no immediately plans to release him. Today, during the President’s speech in Jerusalem, a heckler added his voice to the chorus:

The most sensational expression of the dual loyalty issue in America in recent years was the 1987 case of Jonathan Pollard, an American-born Jew who worked in a sensitive position in the U.S. Navy. Pollard became a spy for the Israeli government and passed along more than 800 "top secret" documents to his "first loyalty," the Jewish State. For seventeen months he had been in daily contact with Israeli co-conspirators, two of whom were later given military promotions in Israel. The government prosecutor in the case, Joseph di Genova, has stated that Pollard's spying "was the largest physical compromise of United States classified information in the twentieth century." The Defense Secretary at the time of Pollard's arrest, Caspar Weinberger, wrote a 46-page document to the Federal Court stating that he "could not conceive of greater harm to national security" than Pollard's spying. [Image: Jonathan Pollard.]

Run, Ashley, Run

Hannity: Run, Ashley, Run!
Run, Ashley! Run!Sean Hannity has a message for Hollywood starlet-turned-would-be senatorial candidate

Cyprus cuts access to banks during bailout crisis

Cypriots' life savings hang in the balance, as the government deliberates a controversial bailout agreement with the Eurogroup that puts the country's savings deposits down as collateral. Negotiations continue, and banks remain in lockdown, after massive protests prompted the parliament to reject the plan.
Read more on Global Voices »

Violence Accomplishes Nothing

'I held her head in my hands in said Shma Yisrael'

I'm sure you all remember little Adele bat Adva, who was critically injured last week when 'Palestinian' terrorists threw stones at her mother's car, causing the car to crash into a truck.

Was the Cyprus Crisis a Mistake?

Thursday, March 21, 2013 – By Staff Repor, Daily Bell
Daylight robbery in Cyprus will come to haunt EMU ... One's first reflex is to gasp at the stupidity of the EU policy elites, but truth is that most EU officials handling the Cyprus crisis know perfectly well that their masters have just set the slow fuse on a powder keg – and they can only pray that it is slow. The decision to expropriate Cypriot savers – even the poorest – was imposed by Germany, Holland, Finland, Austria, and Slovakia, whose only care at this stage is to assuage bail-out fatigue at home and avoid their own political crises. – UK Telegraph
Dominant Social Theme: This Cyprus thing was a terrible mistake.
Free-Market Analysis: Did the Eurocrats miscalculate? This is the message now being sent by a number of respectable mainstream columnists as well as alternative journos.
There is perhaps some truth to it. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard – who wrote the above excerpted article – points out that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is facing both bailout fatigue at home and an upcoming national election.

Globalization: Random or Directed?

Thursday, March 21, 2013 – By Staff Repor, Daily Bell
How Globalization Went Pop and What It Means for Workers ... How do you measure how fast the world economy has "globalized"? Borrow a concept from physics. Call it global economic entropy. Global trade is old -- really, really old. But something new is happening to the world economy as software and container trade shrink the globe -- the rate of "globalization" is increasing, allowing developing countries to hitch a ride on the capital of advanced economies and race forward. But how do you measure how fast the world economy has "globalized" in one figure? Perhaps, by borrowing a concept originally developed by physicists known as entropy. – The Atlantic
Dominant Social Theme: Globalism is irreversible.
Free-Market Analysis: This article in The Atlantic explains that globalism is an irreversible process because of a certain kind of entropy. The kind of entropy in question is called "information entropy."
The Atlantic article explains that it is "an abstract measure of diffusion. It tells you how spread out any distribution is, whether it's a distribution of people's heights or particles in a room." Here's more from the article:

Was EU austerity on the Path to EU Fascism?

The so-called debt crisis and the accompanying  unemployment and austerity scares were a massive hoax in the USA and EU. The perpetrators brought social turmoil, which in the past led to Fascism.
Europe, Unemployment and Instability ... The global financial crisis of 2008 has slowly yielded to a global unemployment crisis. This unemployment crisis will, fairly quickly, give way to a political crisis. The crisis involves all three of the major pillars of the global system -- Europe, China and the United States. The level of intensity differs, the political response differs and the relationship to the financial crisis differs. But there is a common element, which is that unemployment is increasingly replacing finance as the central problem of the financial system. – Stratfor, Daily Bell
Dominant Social Theme: Unemployment will be the next great crisis for Europe to overcome. Fascism may be the result.
Free-Market Analysis: We generally distrust Stratfor analyses because over the years it's become fairly obvious that they have an agenda beyond their stated goal – or so we have decided, anyway. But this particular publicly available analysis is a pretty good one ... though with a major caveat that we will discuss below.
The thrust of the analysis (see excerpt above) is that a debt crisis is giving way to an unemployment crisis. This may seem obvious but nonetheless is likely a valid "big picture" explanation of what is going on.
For investors in various European ventures, the lagging economies of Southern Europe and the inability of Brussels to create economic progress must be both noticeable and worrisome. Here's more from the article:
Europe is the focal point of this crisis. Last week Italy held elections, and the party that won the most votes − with about a quarter of the total − was a brand-new group called the Five Star Movement that is led by a professional comedian. Two things are of interest about this movement. First, one of its central pillars is the call for defaulting on a part of Italy's debt as the lesser of evils. The second is that Italy, with 11.2 percent unemployment, is far from the worst case of unemployment in the European Union. Nevertheless, Italy is breeding radical parties deeply opposed to the austerity policies currently in place.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Human Stupidity is Destroying the World

Six percent of Americans believe in unicorns. Thirty-six percent believe in UFOs. A whopping 24 percent believe dinosaurs and man hung out together. Eighteen percent still believe the sun revolves around the Earth. Nearly 30 percent believe cloud computing involves… actual clouds. A shockingly sad 18 percent, to this very day, believe the president is a Muslim. Aren’t they cute? And Floridian?
Do you believe in angels? Forty-five percent of Americans do. In fact, roughly 48 percent – Republicans and Democrats alike – believe in some form of creationism. A hilariously large percent of terrified right-wingers are convinced Obama is soon going to take away all their guns, so when the Newtown shooting happened and 20 young children were massacred due to America’s fetish for, obsession with and addiction to firearms, violence and fear, they bought more bullets. Because obviously.
In sum and all averaged out, it’s safe to say about 37 percent of Americans are just are not very bright. Or rather, quite shockingly dumb. Perhaps beyond reach. Perhaps beyond hope or redemption. Perhaps beyond caring about anything they have to say in the public sphere ever again. Sorry, Kansas.
Did you frown at that last paragraph? Was it a terribly elitist and unkind thing to say? Sort of. Probably. But I’m not sure it matters, because none of those people are reading this column right now, or any column for that matter, because reading anything even remotely complex or analytical is something only 42 percent of the population enjoy doing on a regular basis, which is why most TV shows, all reality shows, many major media blogs and all of Fox News is scripted for a 5th-grade education/attention span. OMG LOL kittens! 19 babies having a worse day than you. WTF is up with Justin Timberlake’s hair?!?
It is this bizarre, circular, catch-22 kind of question, asked almost exclusively by intellectual liberals because intellectual conservatives don’t actually exist, given how higher education leads to more developed critical thinking (you already know the vast majority of university professors and scientists identify as Democrat/progressive, right?) which leads straight to a more nimble, open-minded perspective. In short: The smarter you are, the less rigid/more liberal you become.
Until you get old. Or rich. And scared. And you forget. And you clamp down, seize up, fossilize. And the GOP grabs you like a mold.
Oh right! The question: How to reach the not-very-bright hordes, when they simply refuse to be reached by logic, fact, or modern mode? How to communicate obvious and vital truths (conservation, global warming, public health, sexuality, basic nutrition, religion as parable/myth, the general awfulness of Mumford & Sons) the lack of understanding of which keep the country straggling and embarrassing, the laughingstock of the civilized world?
And who are these people, exactly? And are they all really in Kentucky and Florida and Mississippi? Are they all in the Tea Party? Is failing education to blame? A dumbed-down media? Reality TV? In the wealthiest and most egomaniacal superpower in the world, why is the chasm so wide?
There is no easy answer, but there is a great deal of irony. It is a wicked conundrum that you and I can debate the definition of elitism, whether or not it’s fair to criticize those who believe that, say, gay marriage means kids will be indoctrinated into homosexuality, or that evolution is still a theory, or that Jesus literally flew up out of a cave and into the sky, when the discussion itself is, by nature, elitist, exclusionary, requiring fluid, abstract thinking the very people we’re discussing simply do not possess, and therefore cannot participate in.
Discussion of elitism is elitist. Intelligence can talk itself blue about what to do about all the dumb; the dumb will never hear it.
It’s a fact even recognized by Louisiana’s own Gov. Bobby Jindal, who had the nerve to defy his own state’s (and his own party’s) famously low IQ by saying, after the last election, “The GOP must stop being the stupid party. It’s time for a new Republican Party that talks like adults.”
Of course he’s right. But where would that leave their base? And who will tell the megachurches? And does Jindal not know Louisiana is where they teach that the existence of the Loch Ness monster is evidence that evolution is a lie?
Brings to mind a stunning study about facts and truths. Have you ever heard it? It goes something like: Here is hard evidence, scientific evidence, irrefutable proof that something is or is not true. Here is dinosaur bone, for example, which we know beyond a doubt is between 60 and 70 million years old. Amazing! Obviously!
But then comes the impossible snag: If you are hard-coded to believe otherwise, if your TV network or your ideology, your pastor or your lack of education tell you differently, you will still not believe it. No matter what. No matter how many facts, figures, common senses slap you upside the obvious. You will think there is conspiracy, collusion, trickery afoot. The Bible says that bone is only eight thousand years old. Science is elitist. Liberals hate God.The end.
It is not enough to say people believe what they want to believe. They will also believe it in the face of irrefutable counter-evidence and millennia of fundamental proof.
This! This is what stuns and stupefies liberals and progressives of every intellectual stripe. We cannot understand. We cannot compute. We think, “Well, if more people just had the facts, just heard a reasonable and cogent argument or read up on the real science, surely they would change their minds? Surely they would see the error in their thinking?”
Oh, liberals. All those smarts, and still so naïve.
Here is the body of Jesus! We found it! In a cave in a hole deep in an iron-gated alcove beneath the Vatican! Turns out he is not the Messiah after all! Turns out – look at those tribal tattoos! Those mala beads! That blond hair! – he’s a wild non-dualist guru from parts unknown. Christianity is a total fabrication! Always has been, always will be.
Here is hard evidence coupled with an ocean of common sense that more guns equal only more violence and death! Stat after stat, mass shooting after mass shooting proving we have it all wrong about protection and fear. Also! At least 2,605 people have died by gun violence in America since the Newtown shooting. Can we ban them now? No?
Here is overwhelming evidence that global warming is ravaging us like a furious god, and not only are we complicit, not only have we blindly raced forth into the abyss, we are, if all goes according to current trends and speeds and attitudes, totally f–king doomed.
Ah, unicorns. You look better every day.
© 2013 The San Francisco Chronicle
Mark Morford's new book, 'The Daring Spectacle: Adventures in Deviant Journalism,' is now available at, and beyond. Join Mark on Facebook and Twitter, or email him. His website is Mark's column appears every Wednesday on SFGate.