Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Peak Oil and Not Enough Water

One of the most pernicious of all the privatization programs have been the corporatizing of the commons.

Oil and gas companies among others may well own the rights to various resources that are under your property and as rich pigs they have the right to destroy your property and health to get it.

Corrupt government officials (and I apologize for the redundancy but it has come to pass that corruption is part of the job description) work hand in glove with the corporate masters.

I have written about the problems with Fracking polluting the ground water with the chemicals they use to free the natural gas.  I should add that this process requires a great deal of water.

The same is true of the extraction of oil from oil sands.

It is also true of mountain topping for the extraction of coal.  They destroy the environment and the water supply.

So the gas and petroleum corporations destroy people's access to clean drinkable water.  But never fear companies like Fuji will bring you water from far away at an exorbitant price.

Fiji Water Shuts Down
Fiji Water announced today that it will close its operations in Fiji in response to a water extraction tax hike proposed by the Fijian government, to take effect in 2011. The abrupt shutdown comes just three days after the government announced the 2011 budget, which proposes increasing Fiji Water's "extraction tax" to 15 cents a liter up from one-third of a cent.
It looks like there days of profiting off water in a country where many of the locals don't even have access to clean water may really be over. As Lenzer writes:

Climate change could cut clean water to three billion people: report

By Nathan Diebenow
Sunday, November 28th, 2010 -- 9:28 pm
Almost half of humanity could lose clean water access due to climate change, according to a British report to be released tomorrow ahead of an international climate change conference in Mexico.
"The main message is that the closer we get to a four-degree rise, the harder it will be to deal with the consequences," Dr. Mark New, a climate expert at Oxford University, told The Observer.
The report will assume that global temperatures will rise 2 degree Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit)  this century even if nations agree to curb carbon emissions this year.
Climate change scientists believe that a mass global movement to "decarbonize" human activity in order to stay below this temperature is virtually impossible, especially after the UN climate talks in Copenhagen failed last December.

Climate change will cost a billion people their homes, says report

British scientists will warn Cancún summit that entire nations could be flooded

Robin McKie
The Observer, Sunday 28 November 2010
Devastating changes to sea levels, rainfall, water supplies, weather systems and crop yields are increasingly likely before the end of the century, scientists will warn tomorrow.
A special report, to be released at the start of climate negotiations in Cancún, Mexico, will reveal that up to a billion people face losing their homes in the next 90 years because of failures to agree curbs on carbon emissions.
Up to three billion people could lose access to clean water supplies because global temperatures cannot now be stopped from rising by 4C.

I feel very safe in predicting that the two classes of people The Greed Pigs and the rest of us will not suffer equally as we enter the era of population crash that will accompany the end of peak oil and adequate supplies of clean water.

Those with money will continue to thrive while whole lots of disposable people will not.

Julian, Julian I admire Your Courage in Speaking Truth to Power

It isn't just the corruption of the governments whose secrets are being exposed, if you can really call the petty school boy/girl sniping and bitchy cattiness secrets.

We learned that even the US will serve its masters the Saudis by providing the money, bodies and blood to act as the Hessians  of the people we gave all that oil money to in order to tool around in gas guzzling SUVs.
And we thought we went into Iraq because Saddam Hussein was a nasty man.

But the fun doesn't stop when you have a Danial Ellsberg or Julian Assange spilling the nasty thoughts of the powerful like Cassandra in truth telling mode.

The powerful use the governments but the real power is located on Wall Street and in the financial centers around the world.

The rich own the governments and working people are their slaves

WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange Wants To Spill Your Corporate Secrets

Nov. 29 2010
Early next year, Julian Assange says, a major American bank will suddenly find itself turned inside out. Tens of thousands of its internal documents will be exposed on Wikileaks.org with no polite requests for executives’ response or other forewarnings. The data dump will lay bare the finance firm’s secrets on the Web for every customer, every competitor, every regulator to examine and pass judgment on.

(For the full transcript of Forbes’ interview with Assange click here.) 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Wall Street quietly seeks to undo new financial rules

By Kevin G. Hall
McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — The heavy hitters of finance lost big battles earlier this year during the overhaul of financial regulation, but they're working hard to win the war. They're quietly trying to soften, if not kill, some of the more controversial provisions.

Lobbyists for Big Finance are working hardest to neutralize the so-called Volcker Rule, which would force big banks to spin off their lucrative proprietary trading operations, in which they invest their own capital in speculative deals.

The measure — named after its proponent, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker — seeks to prevent big banks from betting against trades they made on behalf of their customers, a popular practice until the financial crisis exploded in 2008.

For example, big investment banks such as Goldman Sachs sold customers overvalued mortgage bonds even as they bet secretly that those bonds would default.

Republicans to Unemployed, "Let Them Eat Cake."

Arthur Delaney
11-29-10 01:21 PM

WASHINGTON — Food banks across the country are watching for the end of federally-funded extended unemployment insurance.

“We are bracing for it,” said Vicki Escarra, CEO of Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief charity, in an interview with HuffPost. Escarra said that Feeding America’s 200 member food banks across the country feed nearly six million people every week.

“I can assure you, if these unemployment insurance benefits are not reinstated we’ll see these numbers go way up,” Escarra said.

Two federal programs — Emergency Unemployment Compensation and Extended Benefits, which together provide up to 73 weeks of jobless aid on top of 26 weeks of state aid — are set to begin to expire this week because Congress has not reauthorized them. According to the Labor Department, two million long-term unemployed will be dropped from the programs by the end of December if Congress does not act.

GOP Sen. Mark Kirk: Extending jobless benefits ‘misguided,’ but tax cuts for the rich necessary

By Eric W. Dolan
Monday, November 29th, 2010

Republican Mark Kirk, hours away from being sworn in as a US senator, said Monday that efforts to extend jobless benefits are misguided but argued it is imperative to extend Bush’s tax cuts for wealthy Americans.

On MSNBC’s Morning Joe Monday, Kirk said current proposals to extend unemployment benefits “take us into the direction of Greece and Ireland that are now imploding as economies.”

“We see overseas what happens when governments spend money they don’t have,” he added. “Proposals to extend unemployment insurance by just adding it to the deficit are misguided.”

The temporary extension of unemployment benefits are set to expire November 30th and nearly two million job-seeking Americans are expected to lose their benefits in December.

If no benefit extension is passed, an additional several hundred thousand unemployed workers are expected to lose their benefits every month thereafter.

Video courtesy of You Tube:

US embassy cables leak sparks global diplomatic crisis

David Leigh
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 28 November 2010 18.13 GMT

The United States was catapulted into a worldwide diplomatic crisis today, with the leaking to the Guardian and other international media of more than 250,000 classified cables from its embassies, many sent as recently as February this year.

At the start of a series of daily extracts from the US embassy cables – many designated "secret" – the Guardian can disclose that Arab leaders are privately urging an air strike on Iran and that US officials have been instructed to spy on the UN leadership.

These two revelations alone would be likely to reverberate around the world. But the secret dispatches, which were obtained by WikiLeaks, the whistleblowers' website, also reveal Washington's evaluation of many other highly sensitive international issues.

These include a shift in relations between China and North Korea, high-level concerns over Pakistan's growing instability, and details of clandestine US efforts to combat al-Qaida in Yemen.

Among scores of disclosures that are likely to cause uproar, the cables detail:

Tens of thousands protest EU-IMF bank bailout in Ireland

From World Socialist Web Site:  http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/nov2010/irel-n29.shtml
By Chris Marsden
29 November 2010
Saturday’s demonstration by between 50,000 and 100,000 in Dublin against the bailout of banks was massive by Irish standards and in relation to its workforce of 2 million. It was a powerful expression of the determination of workers, young people and students to resist the savage austerity measures being imposed by the Fianna Fail-Green Party coalition as a precondition for an €85 billion package of loans and guarantees from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

The pain involved only gets worse. The deal reached with the EU finance ministers late Sunday means Ireland will have to pay a staggering 5.8 percent interest rate on its loan, compared with 5.2 percent for Greece. The Irish State will also funnel €17.5 billion into the coffers of the banks from the National Pension Reserve Fund and other sources. It has been estimated that by 2014 interest payments on the loan will have increased from €2.5 billion to over €8 billion per annum, around one fifth of all tax revenue.

Yet there is a fundamental political dilemma facing those looking to defend themselves from a further 10 percent cut in wages, tens of thousands of job losses, tax hikes and the elimination of social provisions—set to cost families that have already suffered an average €4,000 loss in income an additional €4,000 a year. It found symbolic expression at the rally at the end of the march, where the two main representatives of its organisers, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, were subjected to catcalls and booing that on occasion drowned out their speeches, even over the PA system.

The reaction to David Begg, the ICTU’s general secretary, and Jack O’Connor, the leader of Ireland’s largest union, SIPTU, was manifestly hostile. But this solicited precious little comment in the mainstream media. The Irish Sunday Times noted, “Jack O’Connor, the ICTU president, and David Begg, its General Secretary, were loudly heckled. Angry marchers shouted at O’Connor ‘to get off the stage’.

Continue reading at:  http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/nov2010/irel-n29.shtml

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Streisand: Why Heart Disease Is Treated Like a Boys' Club

By Barbra Streisand, Huffington Post
Posted on November 23, 2010, Printed on November 27, 2010
 Women have broken through some of the hardest glass ceilings. We've had women explore the depths of outer space, a woman run for President of the United States, and we've had a woman serving as Speaker of the House, a position that is just two heartbeats away from the Presidency. Many consider politics as one of the last bastions of the boys club and thankfully -- although slowly -- women are finally making real inroads.

But there is another boys club that until recently many people either didn't know about or talk about. It came as a big shock to me to discover that gender inequality still prevails in the medical sciences when it comes to research and treatment of some illnesses. I consider myself a well-informed person, but I only became aware of this fact when learning about women and heart disease, and I was stunned.

Heart disease is the number one killer of women in our country, more than all cancers combined. Today, heart disease kills more women than men. When I started to think about this, it was not surprising. More women are taking on the stresses of juggling household demands, of being wife, mother and breadwinner. All of these modern day strains add to higher blood pressure, lack of physical activity, quick and unhealthy food choices, and weight gain -- all major contributors to heart disease.

Despite the statistics, for years, most of the medical community has been treating our mothers, wives, daughters, sisters and friends inadequately because they based their treatment protocols on research outcomes done mostly on male patients. Cardiologists treating women certainly intended to provide their patients with quality care, but they could only depend on the research that was available and known to them.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/story/148937/streisand%3A_why_heart_disease_is_treated_like_a_boys%27_club/

The Korean crisis and the threat of a wider war

From World Socialist Web Site:  http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/nov2010/pers-n27.shtml
27 November 2010
This week marks the 60th anniversary of China’s entry in force into the Korean War. The attack carried out by some 300,000 Chinese troops resulted in one of the most stunning defeats suffered by the US military in its entire history.

What followed was a protracted and bloody stalemate that ended only with the armistice declared in July 1953. The war had claimed the lives of more than four million people, the vast majority of them Korean civilians.

Six decades after US and Chinese troops waged bitter hand-to-hand combat south of the Yalu River, tensions on the Korean peninsula are arguably at their highest since the end of the Korean War. They are being fed by and are in turn exacerbating great power conflicts between Washington and Beijing.

The arrival in the Yellow Sea this weekend of a naval battle group led by the US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the USS George Washington, signals another escalation in the current crisis.

Continue reading at:   http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/nov2010/pers-n27.shtml

Firms See Long-Sought Goal in Sight: Major Pay Cuts Through Two Tiers

By Roger Bybee
The outlines of a massive new structural downshift in wages are emerging more and more clearly.

The largest wage-cutting wave since the Great Depression has already been sweeping the United States for the last couple years in response to the Great Recession. At small firms, many of these pay cuts have been viewed as a temporary means of reducing costs until the recession is fully ended.

The pervasiveness of this trend leads much of the public  to assume large corporations are merely seeking the same temporary relief as small firms when they demand concessions in high-profile negotiations. The workers' pay will surely rise back to previous levels when the situation improves for the company, as occurred during the 1980s, right?

Not this time around.The recession camouflages a far more insidious and long-lasting corporate strategy: Instead of temporary pay cuts to get through a few tough months, major corporations have something very, very different in mind.

Friday, November 26, 2010

High court handling of Wal-Mart appeal will have wider implications

Remember misogynistic right wing radical judicial activists like Scalia interpret the 14th amendment of the constitution to only protect men.

Right wing activist judges also want to eliminate class action law suits  eliminating the ability of common people to band together and have the same sort of legal muscle as the corporations.

Time to impeach the Supreme Court Justices who represent the corporations instead of people.

Time to end corporate personhood.

By David G. Savage, Tribune Washington Bureau November 26, 2010
Reporting from Washington —

The fate of the largest job bias lawsuit in the nation's history — a claim that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. shortchanged women in pay and promotions for many years — hinges on whether the Supreme Court will let the class-action case go to trial.

The court is likely to announce as soon as Monday whether it will hear the retail giant's appeal asserting that a single lawsuit cannot speak for more than 1.5 million employees.

Business lawyers and civil rights advocates are closely following the Wal-Mart case for its implications for class-action litigation.

"This may sound like just a technical, procedural issue, but because of the economics of it, class-action certification is often the most important issue to be decided," said Washington lawyer Roy T. Englert Jr.

North Korea Warns: 'Brink Of War'

JIN-MAN LEE and FOSTER KLUG | 11/26/10 02:26 AM |

YEONPYEONG ISLAND, South Korea — Fresh artillery shots were heard Friday on the tense South Korean island of Yeonpyeong, three days after it was devastated by a North Korean attack and hours after Pyongyang warned that the peninsula was on the brink of war.

The blasts happened just after the top U.S. commander in South Korea, Gen. Walter Sharp, toured Yeonpyeong Island in a show of solidarity with Seoul and to survey damage from Tuesday's hail of North Korean artillery fire that killed four people.

An official at the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said several new rounds of artillery fire were heard Friday on Yeonpyeong, which is just 7 miles (11 kilometers) south of the North Korean mainland. The military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said several distant explosive sounds came from the direction of North Korea.

There were no immediate reports of damage.

AP photographers at an observation point on the northwest side of Yeonpyeong heard about four explosions, and said they witnessed at least one flash of light on the North Korean mainland.

2010 on course to be joint hottest year since 1850

This year likely to match 1998 temperatures as UN scientists predict more floods, heatwaves and rising sea levels

guardian.co.uk, Thursday 25 November 2010 11.28 GMT

This year is so far tied for the hottest year in a record dating back to 1850 in a new sign of a warming trend, the three major institutes which calculate global warming estimates told Reuters.

UN climate talks resume next week in Cancún, Mexico, where expectations are no longer for a comprehensive deal to slow warming, but smaller progress for example to curb deforestation, in a bid to agree a pact next year or later.

The previous conference in Copenhagen last year fell short of hopes, but about 140 countries have agreed a non-binding deal to try to limit warming to less than 2C above pre-industrial levels.

Temperatures are now about 0.8C above pre-industrial levels, and 2010 is about 0.5C above the 1961-1990 average, near the record, with two months' data still to collect.

Even with a possible cool end to the year, 2010 is expected to be no lower than third in a record where 1998 and 2005 are warmest. The UN panel of climate scientists says higher temperatures mean more floods, heatwaves and rising sea levels.

Global poverty doubled since 1970s: UN

By Agence France-Presse
Thursday, November 25th, 2010 -- 9:39 pm

GENEVA — The number of very poor countries has doubled in the last 30 to 40 years, while the number of people living in extreme poverty has also grown two-fold, a UN think-tank warned Thursday.

In its annual report on the 49 least developed countries (LDCs) in the world, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said that the model of development that has prevailed to date for these countries has failed and should be re-assessed.

"The traditional models that have been applied to LDCs that tend to move the LDCs in the direction of trade-related growth seem not to have done very well," said Supachai Panitchpakdi, secretary general of UNCTAD.

"What happened is that in the past 30-40 years, the number of LDCs have doubled so it has actually deteriorated, the number of people living under the poverty line has doubled from the 1980s."

Thursday, November 25, 2010

UN Issues Severe Climate Warning Ahead Of Summit

By Michael McCarthy
25 November, 2010
The Independent
The world is now firmly on the path for dangerous climate change in the coming century, a major new assessment reveals today on the eve of the forthcoming UN climate conference which opens next week in Mexico.

All the pledges of the nations which have agreed to cut or limit their emissions of greenhouse gases, when added together, still leave the world far short of what is needed to halt the coming rise in global average temperatures to 2C, generally regarded as the danger threshold, according to the study from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The study sets a gloomy context for the international climate meeting opening on Monday in the Mexican resort of Cancun, which is the successor meeting to the abortive Copenhagen climate conference of last year.

Copenhagen dashed many hopes when the countries of the world failed to agree new legally binding targets to cut their emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases in an attempt to keep global warming under control. However, a last-minute agreement was patched up, known as the Copenhagen Accord, under which nations could voluntarily pledge targets or other actions to get their emissions down.

Think Before You Spend on Black Friday

In the US and apparently much of Europe working people don't really make many things but rather work for giant retailers who sell cheap crap made by workers who earn next to nothing.

This has resulted in a tiny super rich class that "earns" (a particularly dubious claim) vast wealth by selling smoke and mirrors derivatives and other scams to unsuspecting investors.

At the same time the working class people who were sold the delusion that they were really middle class and shared nothing in common with actual working class people are increasingly discovering they too are working selling crap whether investments of a dubious nature or stuff made elsewhere by labor paid next to nothing.

It is all a freaking delusion, a game that allows us to pretend that Global Warming/Climate Change doesn't mean we have to radically alter our behavior.  That having gone past the point of peak oil doesn't mean the end to suburban sprawl and hours of commuting in a low efficiency automobile.

By the way, how many of you have seen the ship that carry the containers of cheap crap from elsewhere, where the people make next to nothing that allows the delusion of material prosperity for people who have seen their real income decrease over the last 30-40 years.

We have been subjected to endless sales pitches urging us to buy.  Television has created an illusion that the common people live lives in homes and apartments far beyond our means while credit card companies and mortgage scam artists told us that we too could afford to live this way.  After all in the words of so many ads, "We are worth it." or "We deserve this".

It is like Stuart Smiley and positive affirmations not only run amok but turned to evil purposes.  Dangle stuff in front of us using every single possible tool to make that object desirable, attack our self esteem if we do not buy it and convince us that it is affordable by selling it at a price that is so low we can't resist.  Except the price isn't anywhere near that low if one uses a credit card.

Because the one thing that the rich excel at is loan sharking.

But there are other reasons to think before planning to hit the stores "Black Friday".

These bastards have gutted out a perfectly nice holiday.  One that could easily be distanced from any other purpose except gathering with family and friends for feasting in what is the kick off of  European end of the harvest, onset of winter feasting.  One of the main reasons for these feasts was to consume food that would otherwise spoil.  But it was also a way of taking stock of the harvest and seeing to it that family and friends had enough to make it through the winter.

This week we learned that for many people working in Big Box stores the people with McJobs are not going to be celebrating much of anything today or this weekend.  The stores are open until about six then the doors close for a few hours while employees frantically stock for the middle of the night opening.

Then in the middle of the night the stores open to frantic hordes of people, all looking for the lowest price possible on cheap crap made elsewhere by nearly slave labor.

If the retail workers are fortunate the only thing they will suffer is verbal abuse from those frantic shoppers and fatigue.  Hopefully the "shoppers" hyped to a frenzy by corporations hungry to transfer even more wealth upwards, won't trample any workers to death when the doors open.

As working people we are blamed for being suckered into buying the very things we are told we must have to feel complete.  If we don't buy something whose sales message is "You deserve this" doen't that mean we are not deserving or unworthy?

Mostly though what we are being sold is debt and debt slavery which is how the wealthy elite makes itself richer in an economy that manufactures next to nothing and that is dependent upon people with ever shrinking incomes continuing to buy stuff that is sold at such low prices as to make a profit  on the surplus value pretty minimal.

We are told we are irresponsible if we succumb to the sales pitches that are honed and perfected by experts.
Yet at the same time we are told that if we do not shop and buy we will never get out of the depression we are in.

What to do? What to do?

Avoid the Black Friday hysteria.

Many of the items have fine print that will tell you your chances of actually getting the product even if you were to start standing at the door at noon on Thanksgiving Day are minimal.

Don't go shopping at 3:00am.  You are not in the best shape mentally to judge the value/price/quality of much of anything at that time of day, especially in an environment of mass hysteria.

The stores are desperate and there will be sales from now until late January.

Don't over spend.  Get things you need or others need or will use not expensive trivial items that will wind up in the land fill or thrift store in six months.

Durables and tools, things that are usable for a long time or that might lower the carbon foot print of the recipient.

If you are working Black Friday, my heart goes out to you.

But the best suggestion enjoy Thanksgiving and don't even think about leaving your house after midnight tonight.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Scalia: Women's Rights Not In Constitution

Know the Enemy: 18 Anti-Gay Groups and Their Propaganda

I suggest everyone go to the SPLC site and print the following out or bookmark it for future reference.
These groups are to LGBT/TQ people what the KKK is to African-Americans.

By Evelyn Schlatter
Even as some well-known anti-gay groups like Focus on the Family moderate their views, a hard core of smaller groups, most of them religiously motivated, have continued to pump out demonizing propaganda aimed at homosexuals and other sexual minorities. These groups’ influence reaches far beyond what their size would suggest, because the “facts” they disseminate about homosexuality are often amplified by certain politicians, other groups and even news organizations. Of the 18 groups profiled below, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) will be listing 13 next year as hate groups (eight were previously listed), reflecting further research into their views; those are each marked with an asterisk. Generally, the SPLC’s listings of these groups is based on their propagation of known falsehoods — claims about LGBT people that have been thoroughly discredited by scientific authorities — and repeated, groundless name-calling. Viewing homosexuality as unbiblical does not qualify organizations for listing as hate groups.

*Abiding Truth Ministries
Springfield, Mass.

Abiding Truth Ministries serves mainly as a launching pad for an international anti-gay campaign. Its founder, Scott Lively, is also responsible for a book, widely cited by gay-bashers, accusing homosexuals of running the Nazi Party.

Lively first emerged as an anti-gay activist when he became communications director for the Oregon Citizens Alliance, which was backing that state’s notorious Measure 9 vote in 1992. The measure, which failed, would have added language to the state constitution listing homosexuality, along with pedophilia and masochism, as “abnormal behavior.” Lively later served as California director of the American Family Association, another particularly hard-line anti-gay group (see below).

Lively is best known for co-authoring, with Kevin Abrams, The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party. The book makes a series of claims that virtually no serious historian agrees with: that Hitler was gay, that “the Nazi Party was entirely controlled by militaristic homosexuals,” and that gays were especially selected for the SS because of their innate brutality. The claims are entirely false; in fact, the Nazis murdered significant numbers of gays and made homosexuality a death penalty offense in 1942. In the foreword, Abrams adds that homosexuality is “primarily a predatory addiction striving to take the weak and unsuspecting down with it. … They have no idea of how to act in the best interests of their country… . Their intention is to serve none but themselves.”

DeLay convicted of money laundering charges

Time for Tommy Corruption to go to prison.

Nov. 24, 2010, 5:26PM

AUSTIN – After almost 19 hours of deliberations, a Travis County jury today convicted former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on felony charges of political money laundering.

DeLay faces two to 20 years in prison on a conspiracy charge and five to 99 years or life on a money laundering charge. DeLay remains free on bail, with sentencing tentatively set for Dec. 20.

DeLay and his family did not react when the verdict was read. But after the court was dismissed, DeLay received a hug and a kiss from his wife. Then, his adult daughter, Dani, buried her face into DeLay's shoulder and began sobbing. DeLay's face turned red as he fought back tears.

DeLay's defense lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, who has claimed no money laundering actually occurred, decried the verdict.

"This is a terrible miscarriage of justice," DeGuerin said. "We will appeal. I'm very, very disappointed. This will never stand up on appeal."

DeLay, as he has from the beginning, said the case was all politics, but said his religious faith is getting him through.

Man up Hammer.  Stop your sniveling and show some personal responsibility.

GOP lawmaker handcuffed for lurking with gun near abortion clinic

By Daniel Tencer
Wednesday, November 24th, 2010 -- 9:36 pm

A Minnesota Republican lawmaker who was handcuffed and questioned by police after loitering with a gun near a Planned Parenthood clinic has been stripped of his leadership roles in the Minnesota House.

Security cameras recorded State House Rep. Tom Hackbarth as he was stopped by police last week after a security guard at a Planned Parenthood location in St. Paul called to report a man loitering with a handgun visible at his side.

Hackbarth, who was not arrested and has a concealed-carry permit, says it was all a big misunderstanding. He told police he was looking for a woman he met online.

"Officers at the scene, however, suspected him of 'stalking-like behavior' and borderline 'harassment or terroristic threats,' so they hung on to his weapon," the St. Paul Pioneer-Press reports.

Is it just me? Or does claiming you aren't lurking outside the Planned Parenthood Clinic with a gun because you are threatening to harm the people there but are instead stalking a woman you met on line seem like a pretty sketchy alibi?

I'm a gun owner.  One of the questions you have to answer if you want to legally buy a gun asks if you have ever been treated for mental illness.

I some how think Republican Tom Hackbrath is a big FAIL on that one.

Happy Thanksgiving Day

Portugal grounds to a halt in general strike protesting austerity measures

Telegraph UK:

Portugal was crippled on Wednesday as workers staged a 24-hour strike causing travel chaos and closing schools and hospitals to protest against tough austerity measures designed to tackle the debt crisis. 

5:34PM GMT 24 Nov 2010

The stoppage, the first since 1988 to involve Portugal’s two main unions, the UGT and CGTP, grounded flights, disrupted ports, train and bus services and shut down schools and factories to protest against proposed wage cuts and tax increases.
The Portuguese strike comes ahead of a vote in Parliament on Friday when the Socialist government hopes to push through unpopular austerity measures designed to quell rising speculation that Portugal will be the next in Europe to require a bail-out after Ireland and Greece.
Prime Minister Jose Socrates insisted this week that “Portugal doesn’t need anyone’s help” and will not request a financial rescue by the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

Full article at:

Portugal Goes Pop? 'Euro burning, people pay, bankers get away'

Protesters Scuffle With Police At UK Student Demonstration


Published: November 24, 2010

LONDON (Reuters) - Demonstrators scuffled with police in central London Wednesday when thousands of students and school pupils protested across Britain against government plans to raise university tuition fees.

Small groups of protesters hurled placards at officers and others attacked a police van as they massed near parliament in central London. Police said three people had been arrested in the capital for violent disorder, which many students condemned as undermining their cause.

Young people staged walkouts at universities, schools and colleges in a national day of action at the Conservative-led coalition government proposals to almost triple tuition charges to up to 9,000 pounds ($14,500) a year.

"I feel very strongly about the fees. I want to go to university and can't afford to. I'm not rich and that's I'm here," said London student Ben Batten, 15.

"Don't mourn -- organize!"

From Pride At Work

"Don't mourn -- organize!"
Member & Friends,
Holidays can be both wonderful and bittersweet.  While festive messages abound, these are deeply challenging times.  On November 30, 800,000 workers looking for jobs for more than six months will lose unemployment insurance—2 million by December 31st.  With five job hunters for every one opening, long-term jobless workers have nowhere else to turn.  This is going to be a hard Thanksgiving for many folks.
Adding to the current economy, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers can still be legally fired or discriminated against in a majority of states (unless they have a union contract.)  LGBTQ seniors are at higher risk for isolation, poverty, and homelessness. Transgender people of color are four times as likely to live in poverty. One in five transgender people have experienced homelessness. Transgender people have double the rate of unemployment as the general population and experience near universal harassment on the job. Lesbian couples and their families are significantly more likely to live in poverty than straight couples. African-Americans in same-sex relationships have dramatically higher rates of poverty than all heterosexual couples, and three times higher poverty rates than white people in same-sex relationships.
In spite of that painful reality, what I am so grateful for in these times is that we have each other.  We have the labor movement, the progressive movement.  We have the spirit and passion of activists fighting for social and economic justice for all people.  We have solidarity across our shared struggles.
I am grateful for the spirit of the labor movement, that simply asks us each to stand "one day longer", united under the motto that "An Injury to One is an Injury to All."  Your fight is our fight.  Our fight is your fight.  Whether you will spend Thanksgiving with your biological family, your "chosen family",  or simply a friend, please know that you are not alone.  Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender labor and our allies are standing with you in spirit.
Thank you, thank you, thank you to our brothers and sisters across the labor movement, whether LGBT union members or our straight allies, standing up for all working families -- including the far-too-many who are currently jobless.  Thank you to our LGBT community allies of labor.
You all are the salt of the earth.  We have hard work in front of us as a movement - and together, we will find a way to meet the challenges ahead.  Solidarity, and wishing you a safe and peaceful Thanksgiving.
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience,
but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."  ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

Pride At Work, AFL-CIO, 815 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006.
Phone: 202.637.5014.  Fax: 202-639-6264  E:Mail:
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Stop Gas Drilling -- Sue Your Neighbor

Andrew Reinbach 

Posted: November 24, 2010 10:21 AM

Basic real estate law could stop gas drilling in the Northeast.

Here's the idea. When you bought your house you didn't buy just dirt and bricks; you bought what your lawyer calls a bundle of rights. That includes what he or she calls the right of quiet enjoyment.

Quiet enjoyment means more than the right to sit on your porch and watch the sunset; it includes the right to enjoy the value of your property. If your neighbor does something to hurt this right, he has to pay you the before-and-after difference -- to make you whole, as they say.

It's called nuisance law, and means everybody has the right to do what they want with their property -- as long and they don't hurt anybody else. If they do, they have to pay.

So, since banks won't lend on a house near a gas well unless the owner can prove their water supply will always be safe, and that can't be done -- i.e.: where there's gas drilling, property values collapse -- it follows as the night the day that if your neighbor leases his land for gas drilling, you can sue said boneheaded neighbor to make you whole.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What the TSA Patdown Searches Are Really About

Reposted with Permission


by Robert Freeman

You can hardly watch a TV news show, listen to a radio broadcast, pick up a newspaper, or read the Internet without hearing about the aggressive Transportation Security Agency patdown searches at airports.

The TSA and all relevant officials tell us that they’re really for our own protection.  But are they?  In truth, the searches have virtually nothing to do with increased airport security.

Several years ago, my four year-old daughter was pulled aside in one such screening because she happened to be the Nth person in the line to go through security. Though she was traveling with me, her mother, and sister, she was subjected to 40 minutes of terrifying interrogations and inspections of all her personal effects, though not a bodily patdown.

The startling part of it was the mindlessness of it all.  The guards were simply being good Nazis.  Today, it is no longer mindless.  It is part of a sustained campaign to condition the American public to being humiliated by government officials in the name of national security.

Physical humiliation of the subject is the first act that an interrogator performs on a victim.  You can see this in the pictures from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.  The prisoners were made to perform all manner of humiliating acts:  wear women’s underwear on their heads; masturbate in front of female guards; pile onto one another naked; submit to rape by their guards; etc.

The humiliation destroys a prisoner’s dignity.  It is from his innate sense of dignity that a person finds the indignation, and therefore the capacity, to resist abuse.  It is our dignity that the TSA and the government must strip from us if they wish to reduce our capacity to resist their aggressive encroachments on our civil liberties.  And it’s working.

It’s amazing how many people say that the searches are worth it—something upwards of 75% if the news reports can be believed.  They have already internalized the submission to authority that makes an authoritarian state so effective.  And they create the public pressure for others to submit as well.

These are the same people who tell questioners that they don’t mind if the government secretly reads their email because they have nothing to hide.  The suggestion is that those who do protest wholesale invasions of privacy, even for such quaint reasons of guarantees against such invasion rooted in the U.S. Constitution, must have something to hide.

This is what makes an effective authoritarian state self-policing, as was Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.  Resistance to abuse is a prima facia sign of guilt.

It is not an accident that the matter is saturating the media to the point of exhaustion.  The message is very straightforward and all reinforcing:  you need to be afraid; we’re doing this for your own good; and don’t resist for resistance is futile.

Not a day goes by any more that some incident, somewhere, by somebody is portrayed as a threat to U.S. national security and, therefore, a reason why civil liberties must be reduced even more.

The ultimate absurdity of this was seen in the summer of 2009 in the discussion about escalating the U.S. presence in Afghanistan.  The National Security Agency reported that there were “at most 100” Al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan.

So, on the basis of this existential threat, the U.S. sent in another 100,000 soldiers and civilian support personnel.  That’s 1,000 soldiers at a million dollars a year apiece for each cave dweller posing mortal threats to the U.S. way of life 11 time zones and a 6,000 mile ocean away.

The absurdity has become palpable.  The government doesn’t even try to hide that it reads our email and listens to our phone calls, that it has suspended habeas corpus, the longest standing protection of a people against the abuses of a rogue government.  It no longer denies that the president claims the right to murder Americans for any pretext, without due process of law, so long as he deems that person a threat to national security.

The truth is that the government is not fighting wars against terrorists any more.  It is creating, provoking, escalating wars and then using the resistance as the pretext to create a police state capable of conducting a war against its own people.

Of course, it will be so much easier if it can convince the people to surrender their rights willingly, voluntarily, to submit as the cattle that must be their ultimate, inescapable fate.  Public, inescapable, physical humiliation is just one of the ways to condition people to that subservience.

It’s working.
Robert Freeman writes on economics, history and education.
He can reached at robertfreeman10@yahoo.com.

Countrywide's Mortgage Document Errors May Doom Bank of America

I don't know how many times the Beckholes and Tea Bagger Kool Aid chugging Dittoheads have told me the financial meltdown was cause by working people buying homes they couldn't afford.

They sputter when I point out how the working people only bought into something there was a massive sales effort to con them into.  But then right wingers are big on the personal responsibility of those victimized. When it comes to those who did the victimization and their personal responsibility it is a case of not so much.

I wonder who the Beckholes and Dittoheads will blame for one group of con artists running a scam on another group of con artists?

Oh I forgot.  Don't call it a scam.  Call it errors.  Mistakes occurred.  

Could we make those Golden Parachutes out of real gold and toss these bastards out of real planes?

Posted 1:30 PM 11/22/10

Testimony in a New Jersey foreclosure case decided last week may spell big trouble for Bank of America (BAC). If what one bank employee said on the stand proves to be accurate, paperwork problems it acquired when it purchased the failing mortgage provider Countrywide in 2008 could leave BofA on the hook for billions of dollars.

As first reported by Kate Berry for American Banker, Linda DiMartini, a supervisor and operational team leader for the Litigation Management Department of BAC Home Loans Servicing, testified in the foreclosure case of John T. Kemp that it was "customary for Countrywide to maintain possession of the original note and related documents."

If that's true, then Bank of America may discover that it has millions of loans on its books that it thought it had transferred to trusts that issued mortgage backed securities, because 96% of Countrywide loans were ostensibly securitized. As the Congressional Oversight Panel explained, that outcome alone could cause massive damage to a bank's balance sheet. And as bad as that would be, it isn't the only problem that could result from Countrywide hanging on to the notes.

If the mortgage-backed securities aren't in fact "mortgage-backed," investors who bought them could be able to force BofA to buy the securities back. A significant number of buybacks could on its own destroy BofA's balance sheet. Nor could BofA stave off either outcome retroactively by delivering those notes today. First, the contracts that created the trusts would typically forbid transferring the loans into the trusts now. Second, even if somehow that could happen, such a transfer would destroy the special tax status the mortgage backed securities enjoy and give the investors a different reason to put back the securities or sue over them.

See full article from DailyFinance: http://srph.it/ar7Mlc