Sunday Roast: June 16, 2013 – Where’s the outrage?

I don’t get it. Seriously.

The news about the extensive data gathering by the NSA through Verizon‘s mobile phone records being outshone only a few days later with news about PRISM should have people out in the streets. Seriously.

I am not and have never been overly shy about internet use. I follow the usual dos and don’ts, but I am aware of the fact, that whatever you put out there is in everybody’s domain. If you shout it out on Times Square you have a smaller audience than when you put it on facebook, twitter, you name it. I know that by using it I have, sort of, agreed whatever I’m writing will be no longer private. Fair enough.

I’m fine that every time I read a New York Times article I will see in a sidebar which of my friends have read which article. It shows I have smart friends, not that I haven’t known that before, but still. I am even fine with the fact that for me all websites, be it news or other, which have commercial pop-ups are advising me how to get a flat stomach or how to ward off ageing. I take  the pop-ups as an punishment for having googled about weight-loss and heat-flashes and I stick out my tongue to them and just don’t buy whatever is advertised through them.

What I do not approve of, and I am royally pissed about that, is that a government, any government, is prying inside my personal communications. So I would, of course, go and vote accordingly. No party or candidate ever gets my vote, who supports this degree of spying into the personal communications of ordinary citizens. Period.

Hah! And now, when we Europeans are mad as hell, and believe me, virtually everybody I talk to is spitting mad over here, we’ll just vote them all out of office!!!!!

Wait!

We can’t. We do not have, nor will we ever have any say in this.

This is our Open Thread. Don’t be shy. All yours.

Sunday Roast: March 3, 2013 – Govern and be Governed, but do it right!

Good Morning, I hope you slept well (and long because I’m late again ;)  ).

Government: You’re doing it right:

The Swiss are governing today and how. One reason for my being late here is the coverage of the latest polls on tv. Three major propositions have been voted on today and a number of regional ones. One was to amend the constitution to protect families’ rights to reconcile having a job and raising kids. It is a draw, more or less. While big cities have voted for it in big numbers and the overall popular vote is for it, the cantons are divided and as it is a constitutional amendment, it needs a majority of both popular votes and cantons. The more rural areas are, predictably against it, kicking women in the teeth once again. (Sound familiar?)

Second vote is on getting land out of the building code, so the environment can be protected from uncontrolled and uncontrolleable building for profit. It got a majority. Easily, too.

The third and most internationally acclaimed vote is on the so-called “fat-cat” initiative. A whopping 68% of voters have voted for it. This after the initiative has been blocked and fought against for seven years.

Under the proposal, shareholders will be given the right to hold a binding vote on executive remuneration. Companies would also no longer be able to pay so-called “golden hellos” and “golden parachutes”, whereby senior managers receive a one-time cash lump sum, often running into millions of pounds, when joining or leaving a company. Polls show the majority of Swiss plan to vote “yes” in the referendum, despite businesses warning it will drive out companies from the country.(read more)

Add to that the cap on manager salaries imposed by the surrounding EU countries and you see things are moving in the right direction over here.

Government: You’re doing it wrong:

You think the Tea Party is  the most proficient government obstructionist of all times? They are not. They’re outright amateurs compared to the Italians: Our southern neighbors are blocking government right at the source. All Europe is frustratedly looking at what voters there did to their country. Outright distrust of government and politicians is in the Italian genetic code and not surprisingly so, given the corruption that is rampant in the country, but now they overreached.

IT IS hard now to recall that just three months ago the big threat Italy posed was of becoming boring. Its technocratic government, under Mario Monti, had regained the markets’ confidence. The spread of Italian government bonds over German ones was dwindling. The troublesome Silvio Berlusconi no longer led his fast-disintegrating party, and it seemed certain that the centre-left would win the next election. Mr Monti might then have become an economic super-minister—if he had not taken over the right with a mandate to make it more soberly European. (read more)

Let me add, Italy, unlike the US for instance has a fairly low constitutional threshold for new elections. They’ll be at it again in a few months, everybody agrees.

I wish you all a Happy and Relaxing (yes caps) Sunday. Enjoy some reading and our discussion. It is an Open Thread so join in.

 

R.I.P. Stéphane Hessel

Stéphane Hessel has passed away during the night. The Holocaust survivor, member of the French Résistance, diplomat and author inspired the “Occupy” movement with his pamphlet “Time for Outrage” in his later years. I saw numerous interviews with him and greatly admired his intelligence, sense of humor and humanity. May he rest in peace.

EV

The Watering Hole, Monday, February 11th, 2013: Fugitive From and/or For Justice?

On Sunday, February 3rd, Monica Quan and Keith Lawrence were found shot to death in a parking garage in Irvine, California. Thus began the now nationally-covered, still-ongoing saga of former LAPD officer Christopher Jordan Dorner vs the LAPD. The Los Angeles Times provides a timeline of this saga through last night, February 10th.

Christoper Jordan Dorner with Chief William Bratton (formerly NYC Police Chief)

Christoper Jordan Dorner with Chief William Bratton (formerly NYC Police Chief)


In the course of the LAPD’s “manhunt”, they have now shot or injured two white women and one white man, purportedly because they drove vehicles which “matched the description of” Dorner’s pickup truck. From the LA Times on the two women:
“As the vehicle approached the house ["of a high-ranking Los Angeles police official, which was being guarded by a group of LAPD officers"], officers opened fire, unloading a barrage of bullets into the back of the truck. When the shooting stopped, they quickly realized their mistake. The truck was not a Nissan Titan, but a Toyota Tacoma. The color wasn’t gray, but aqua blue. And it wasn’t Dorner inside the truck, but a woman and her mother delivering copies of the Los Angeles Times.”

Regarding the man who was “mistakenly” injured, the LAT says:

“David Perdue was on his way to sneak in some surfing before work Thursday morning when police flagged him down. They asked who he was and where he was headed, then sent him on his way. Seconds later, Perdue’s attorney said, a Torrance police cruiser slammed into his pickup and officers opened fire; none of the bullets struck Perdue.

His pickup, police later explained, matched the description of the one belonging to Christopher Jordan Dorner — the ex-cop who has evaded authorities after allegedly killing three and wounding two more. But the pickups were different makes and colors. And Perdue looks nothing like Dorner: He’s several inches shorter and about a hundred pounds lighter. And Perdue is white; Dorner is black.”

These stories alone make one wonder about LAPD’s “finest.” But, Christopher Jordan Dorner’s story tells a lot more.

On February 7th, Dorner published a lengthy “manifesto”, recounting several incidents where he, as an LAPD Officer, tried to report unethical behavior by other LAPD officers. In it, Dorner named names, cited BOR (Board of Review) results in which the named officers were officially “cleared”, and provided additional information regarding LAPD personnel, lawyers, etc., who he believes are involved in the cover-up and whose actions eventually led to Dorner’s termination.

Amidst Dorner’s accusations and subsequent threats against the lives of the named officers and their families, Dorner describes himself, his career, and his own personal ethics. And while the murderous tactics which he is now employing to bring attention to the corruption within the LAPD are deplorable and inexcusable, his words depict a formerly ethical patriot who, at the end of his rope, believes he has been forced to take these tactics. Here are a few excerpts:

“I’m not an aspiring rapper, I’m not a gang member, I’m not a dope dealer, I don’t have multiple babies momma’s. I am an American by choice, I am a son, I am a brother, I am a military service member, I am a man who has lost complete faith in the system, when the system betrayed, slandered, and libeled me. I lived a good life and though not a religious man I always stuck to my own personal code of ethics, ethos and always stuck to my shoreline and true North. I didn’t need the US Navy to instill Honor, Courage, and Commitment in me but I thank them for re-enforcing it. It’s in my DNA.”

“From 2/05 to 1/09 I saw some of the most vile things humans can inflict on others as a police officer in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, it wasn’t in the streets of LA. It was in the confounds of LAPD police stations and shops (cruisers). The enemy combatants in LA are not the citizens and suspects, it’s the police officers.”

“People who live in glass houses should not throw stones. How ironic that you utilize a fixed glass structure as your command HQ. You use as a luminous building to symbolize that you are transparent, have nothing to hide, or suppress when in essence, concealing, omitting, and obscuring is your forte.”

LAPD Headquarters

LAPD Headquarters

Chief Beck, this is when you need to have that come to Jesus talk with Sgt. Teresa Evans and everyone else who was involved in the conspiracy to have me terminated for doing the right thing. you also need to speak with her attorney, Rico, and his conversation with the BOR members and her confession of guilt in kicking Mr. Gettler. I’ll be waiting for a PUBLIC response at a press conference. When the truth comes out, the killing stops.

At one point, Dorner admits to severe depression, but describes it as a means for future scientific study:

“If possible, I want my brain preserved for science/research to study the effects of severe depression on an individual’s brain. Since 6/26/08 when I was relieved of duty and 1/2/09 when I was terminated I have been afflicted with severe depression. I’ve had two CT scans during my lifetime that are in my medical record at Kaiser Permanente. Both are from concussions resulting from playing football…These two CT scans should give a good baseline for my brain activity before severe depression began in late 2008.”

Dorner also has a lot to say about gun control:

“If you had a well regulated AWB [Assault Weapons Ban], this would not happen. The time is now to reinstitute a ban that will save lives. Why does any sportsman need a 30 round magazine for hunting? Why does anyone need a suppressor? Why does anyone need a AR15 rifle? This is the same small arms weapons system utilized in eradicating Al Qaeda, Taliban, and every enemy combatant since the Vietnam war. Don’t give me that crap that its not a select fire or full auto rifle like the DoD uses. That’s bullshit because troops who carry the M-4/M-16 weapon system for combat ops outside the wire rarely utilize the select fire function when in contact with enemy combatants. The use of select fire probably isn’t even 1% in combat. So in essence, the AR-15 semiautomatic rifle is the same as the M-4/M-16.”

“I can buy any firearm I want, but should I be able to purchase these class III weapons (SBR’s, and suppressors) without a background check and just a $10 notary signature on a quicken will maker program? The answer is NO. I’m not even a resident of the state i purchased them in. Lock n Load just wanted money so they allow you to purchase class III weapons with just a notarized trust, military ID. Shame on you, Lock n Load. NFA and ATF need new laws and policies that do not allow loopholes such as this. In the end, I hope that you will realize that the small arms I utilize should not be accessed with the ease that I obtained them. Who in there right mind needs a fucking silencer!!! who needs a freaking SBR AR15? No one. No more Virginia Tech, Columbine HS, Wisconsin temple, Aurora theatre, Portland malls, Tucson rally, Newtown Sandy Hook. Whether by executive order or thru a bi-partisan congress an assault weapons ban needs to be re-instituted. Period!!! Mia Farrow said it best. “Gun control is no longer debatable, it’s not a conversation, its a moral mandate.”

Personally, I cannot disagree with that. In addition, I cannot disagree with most of Dorner’s political likes and dislikes. After berating the LAPD’s lack of respect and outright racism towards President Obama, Dorner states the following (some of which has since been redacted in many media venues):

“Wayne LaPierre, President of the NRA, you’re a vile and inhumane piece of shit. You never even showed 30 seconds of empathy for the children, teachers, and families of Sandy Hook. You deflected any type of blame/responsibility and directed it toward the influence of movies and the media. You are a failure of a human being. May all of your immediate and distant family die horrific deaths in front of you.

Chris Matthews, Joe Scarborough, Pat Harvey, Brian Williams, Soledad Obrien, Wolf Blitzer, Meredith Viera, Tavis Smiley, and Anderson Cooper, keep up the great work and follow Cronkite’s lead. I hold many of you in the same regard as Tom Brokaw and the late Peter Jennings. Cooper, stop nagging and berating your guest, they’re your (guest).”

“Ellen Degeneres, continue your excellent contribution to entertaining America and bringing the human factor to entertainment. You changed the perception of your gay community and how we as Americans view the LGBT community. I congratulate you on your success and opening my eyes as a young adult, and my generation to the fact that you are know different from us other than who you choose to love. Oh, and you Prop 8 supporters, why the fuck do you care who your neighbor marries. Hypocritical pieces of shit.

Westboro Baptist Church, may you all burn slowly in a fire, not from smoke inhalation, but from the flames and only the flames.”

While any civilized person deplores Dorner’s decision to take the law into his own hands and use cold-blooded murder to make his point, I personally believe that he DOES have a point. It would be nice to think that he may surrender to authorities without further bloodshed, but I fear that those authorities would not hesitate to kill him on sight; not to mention that Dorner himself, throughout his “manifesto”, not only promises more killings, but also admits many times that he will likely not live through this ordeal.

One line in particular in Dorner’s writing struck a chord with me, that should reverberate throughout this rotting country:

“Sometimes humans feel a need to prove they are the dominant race of a species and they inadvertently take kindness for weakness from another individual. You chose wrong.”

This is our Open Thread. Your thoughts?

The Watering Hole: Tuesday May 15th – Europe

A Storm is brewing over Europe in more than one sense…

There is the unsolved, so called debt crisis, which entangles Spain and Italy now and has, by all accounts all but devoured Greece already. 

The second one is a political storm. In France it has swept Sarkozy out of office, in the UK the Tories got to feel quite a blustery breeze. In Germany last weekend and the one before voters were giving Merkel’s austerity politics quite strong headwinds. Again, Greece is at the center of the disturbance. The last election brought a stiff breeze from the left, but some serious gusts from the right as well. The Captains of the coffin ship contemplate to test the waters again and that should bring a solid gale from the left and swipe them off board.

Then there’s the weather. It’s really gusty and nasty outside, so much for spring. Ugh.

No matter how it eventually ends, there is some turbulence ahead for sure.

This is our Open Thread. Talk about the Weather?

UPDATE JUST IN: GREECE TALKS BROKE UP – NEW ELECTIONS DUE.

The Watering Hole, Thursday, April 26th, 2012: Odds & Ends, From Local to National

Let’s start off local and go on from there:

First: A follow-up to my recent mention of the local lack of enthusiasm for (or knowledge about) Tuesday’s New York Republican Primary. In Putnam County, just to the south of us, about 1500 people did their civic duty, a third of the number who turned out in 2008. Surprisingly, some voters cast their ballots for both Rick Santorum and New Gingrich. All in all, about 30% chose “Not Mitt RMoney.”

Second: Fanning outward a tad, five Democrats are now vying for the opportunity to unseat U.S. Representative Nan Hayworth (R-NY19.) Although this article from the Southeast-Brewster Patch is a few months old, it’s a very informative rundown on four of the five campaigners, who had participated in a forum back in January. The issues discussed (as seen in the article), all reflect concerns that are national in scope. (Note: Wayne and I met one of the candidates, Matt Alexander, at the local Dems holiday party back in December, and had a good chat with him. Nice guy, well-spoken without being ‘slick.’)

Third: Still focused on New York State, but, again, with national implications: For at least the 5th time, a medical marijuana bill should be introduced shortly in Albany. Apparently, this particular bill, at this particular time, may have a ghost of a chance; even the Wall Street Journal seems to believe there’s a glimmer of a possiblity. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that New York becomes the 17th State (plus the District of Columbia) to legalize medical marijuana.

Next: A Newsmax.com article regarding former President Jimmy Carter’s comments about Mitt Rmoney; in another Newsmax article, Reince Priebus tries to wax enthusiastic about Mitt RMoney and the Republican chances in November.

Finally, just for laughs: a link from Newsmax led me to this too-funny-to-be-taken-seriously video. I could only watch about five minutes of it, but I found it pretty goofy – hope you do, too.

This is our daily open thread — What’s on your mind today?

The Watering Hole: Tuesday April 3, What to watch out for..

…tonight:

As Romney seems to be The Inevitable one now, there are a few things that we still can watch out for in the primaries.

Turnout. If I am correct turnout will be low. As in: Really Low. Mitt Romney is not an inspiring candidate at all, not for the Republican base. Nor for anybody, except maybe for those making 200’000 plus, I dare say.

Santorum is just running his mouth now, but not much else. I can’t see any indication that the Santorum supporters are fighting back, I cannot see much trace of them anymore in the comments sections where they used to hang around.

Paul? Well, nuff said.

Gingrich? Well, nuff said indeed.

Watch out for other races, too. Incumbicide is rampant right now. There may be a few surprises coming on this side.

…in November:

That no Republican gets the White House for a while. Honestly, if it is only to avoid further activist Supreme Court judges.

A whole set of polls can be found as usual here at realclearpolitics. Nevermind they are really conservatives, when it comes to politics I want to see what the other side is thinking and be prepared for the worst case.

This is our Open Thread. What do you think?

The Watering Hole: January 10 – Popcorn

Popcorn is many things to many people.

For some it is a magazine for teen people.

For some it is software.

For some it is a place to go.

For some it is .. well.. pick your favourite.

For me it is the irreplaceable ingredient for having to watch the GOP Presidential nomination unfold. As there is still some time to go for the New Hampshire results, you can have fun making your own predictions here, or right here at The Zoo voting at the polls.

 

For more on Romney solid positioning in politics read this.

This is our daily Open Thread. Actually it is YOUR daily Open Thread. So use it if you feel like it.

The Watering Hole: December 27th – Headlines

Some headlines for today:

Hope: The tanks are being withdrawn, relief for the people of Homs.

No Surprise: Vladimir Putin rejects scrutiny into last elections 

Kill the Poor: Britain’s poorest hit by Stealth Tax

Critters and such: Confusing Weather Patterns for Britain’s Wildlife

Nature Victimized and her victims: Rising Seal Levels and Erosion leave landmark crumbling.

Romney: Inevitable? Well…

Not Romney: The Molotov Party

Cute Overdose: Red Panda

This is our daily Open Thread, what’s your news?

The Watering Hole December 13th, 2011 Vulnerability

Breaking News:

A gun and grenade attack in the centre of the Belgian city of Liege has killed at least two people and wounded 47 including a toddler, media say.

Witnesses say a man in his 40s threw grenades at a bus stop in Place Saint Lambert, a busy square. At least two other men are thought to be involved.

Reports say one of the attackers is among the dead. Local media say another has been detained, while a third is involved in a stand-off with police. (more)

Lately:

An unidentified Scrooge poisoned visitors to two of Berlin’s popular Christmas markets with an offer of tiny bottles of liquor that were laced with vomit-inducing chemicals, police said Friday.

The suspect, who was in his mid-40s, hit two of the traditional holiday fairs Thursday and at the first, spoke to two foreign students, a man and a woman in their mid-20s, in English.(more)

No so recent:

At 9.15am on Friday 4 November, two men stormed into a building society in the east German town of Eisenach. One was wearing a black balaclava, the other a gorilla mask. Both had guns. They demanded money, punching a bank teller before grabbing €70,000 (£60,000) from the safe and hopping on to bicycles they had propped up outside. They knew what they were doing – it was their 14th bank robbery in 12 years.(more)

In a Democracy a lunatics like the Norway killer Breivik and the perps in the first story today will always find an opportunity to do damage, as will the psycho cowards like in case two.

Case three, however, shows some significant difference. The victims of the neonazis were law-abiding, hard working small business owners. As they were of Turkish and Greek descent, police immediately took decisive steps to solve the crimes. All the victim’s family members were thoroughly interrogated and checked for any criminal or drug contacts in their past, family feuds were on top of the list as well. “You know how they are, don’t you”. “All criminals”.”Not like us.” “They kill off each other”. The killings were dubbed “Doner killings” named after the popular Turkish fast food.

Well it wasn’t “Doners” that were murdered, it was fellow human beings. And they were murdered by some of “us”. “You know how we are”. “All Nazis”. “We kill those who are different”. This time we thoroughly earn the badge. Alas, again.

This the Daily Open Thread. Really.

Picture of The Day – Queue

Women queueing to vote in Egypt

Source: http://www.thestar.com.my

The writing on the wall says “We build Egypt together” They had to act twice, once to get rid of Mubarak and now again, when the military tried to introduce their concept of Democracy. I am afraid their struggle is not over yet. Democracy is hard to come by, let’s not ours go to waste.

The Watering Hole: Tuesday, November 15 – The Battle of Morgarten

In 1315 the Morgarten Battle took place close to the Aegeri Lake in Switzerland. Every year on the day of the Battle November 15th, a shooting competition takes place in the fields there. This is where I spent today’s morning. I scored 34 out of 50 shooting a rifle at 300 yds, 51 out of 60, shooting a Pistol at 50 yards. Currently I eat  Zuger Kirschtorte which is soaked full of Cherry schnapps. I’m fine. Or was. Now I read about the Occupy Wall Street raid and my mood sinks in a hurry.

This is our Open Thread. Ups and/or Downs? How is your day?

The Watering Hole: Tuesday, September 20th – Outside..

.. the US there’s politics, too.

Germany: Chancellor Merkel’s coalition Government is in hot water. The junior partner FDP, a strictly neoliberal party, has received the fifth and, if you ask me, final blow at last Sunday’s elections in Berlin, when they were down to 1.8% of votes. This bodes ill for the ruling coalition.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel dislikes putting her foot down to solve government disputes. She associates that form of exercising authority with ill-tempered men who use arrogance to make up for their lack of competence. And she thinks people who keep banging their fist on the table end up getting ignored in the long run. (read more)

I beg to differ with some of the article, however. The SPD (Social Democrats) would be ill advised to enter a coalition government in times of really unpleasant decisions about the future of the Euro. They’ll tolerate a minority rule and ask for new elections, is my guess.

Italy: S&P has now downgraded Italy. Italy, is one of the more important economies in Europe, so I expect the stock markets to go down significantly again today. (Update: With markets you never kow. The indices are up right now. Markets always know best. What do I know? :roll: )

S&P’s downgraded its unsolicited ratings on Italy to A/A-1 from A+/A-1+ and kept its outlook on negative, sending the euro more than half a cent lower against the dollar.

The agency, which put Italy on review for downgrade in May, said that the outlook for growth was worsening and there was little sign that Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s fractious center-right government could respond effectively. (read more)

But Berlusconi is dealing with more pressing problems:

The conversations, wire-tapped as part of a probe into an alleged prostitution ring surrounding Berlusconi, also suggested for the first time that he gave money to the women he allegedly slept with, contradicting his repeated insistence that he never paid for sex, ‘The Daily Telegraph’ reported.

The taped conversations revealed in extraordinary detail how parties involving dozens of young starlets and escort girls were organised for the Italian PM by a 36-year-old middleman, Gianpaolo Tarantini, a convicted cocaine dealer. (read more)

United Kingdom: Blair’s back, or did he ever go away? Cameron is taking advice from Tony Blair? Well here’s an expert. Watch out, you may end up with another war on your hands! The question is, how much are they paying for his consulting prowess? He likes the cash.

David Cameron is secretly receiving political advice on foreign affairs from Tony Blair – most recently on how to resolve the international deadlock over Palestinian statehood, The Independent has learnt.

Mr Cameron has buried party political loyalties and privately invited the former Labour Prime Minister to Chequers to discuss the impasse, according to Foreign Office sources. (read more)

Hey Tony, there’s a warm cell in The Hague waiting for you (I hope)!

This is our Open Thread. This is my part of the world. What’s up in yours?

Heavy Flooding Forecast for Harrisburg PA. As in “Three Mile Island” Harrisburg?

Flooding in 1972 from Hurricane "Agnes" (source: United States Coastguard)

Rampaging rivers, rock slides, torrents of rain and mass evacuations. The generation that grew up on tales of eastern Pennsylvania’s Agnes catastrophe of 1972 is getting its own story now, with rain-weary cities and towns along the Susquehanna and Delaware rivers hunkered down in anticipation of record-threatening crests.

The remnants of Tropical Storm Lee led to what one AccuWeather meteorologist called a “fire hose” of tropical downpours falling on land and water already overcharged by August’s record soaking. (read more)

This scares me quite a bit. I wonder what the Three Mile Island safety measures are for flooding. They are not worried, however. It is not as if the rains will stop any time soon. La Nina conditions are forecast, which will make extreme weather conditions more likely and there is TS Maria out there, which is about to come up on a very similar track as Irene did.

Stay safe and monitor what is going on closely, all you who are close to the area.

The Watering Hole: Tuesday August 9th – What goes down outside the economy

FUKUSHIMA, Japan — The day after a giant tsunami set off the continuing disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, thousands of residents at the nearby town of Namie gathered to evacuate. (read full story at the NYT)

This comes as no surprise at all. While we have lost track of the story during the turbulent times of non-existing governmental due diligence and the ensuing market meltdown, this story will stick with us. For hundreds, if not thousands of years. What really happened comes to light in bits and pieces now. Radiation is sky high, high enough to be lethal in the broken reactors. The goal is: Avoid making the Headline. Fact is: Great parts of Japan, including the Tokyo area have become hazardous to live in. Psssht just don’t tell the people.

If you have the time, just listen into this: There is no safe level of radiation.

This is our open thread. What’s on your mind outside of the markets today?

Get Your Act Together! Now!

The Economist:

TODAY is July 19th. Two weeks from today, it will be August 2nd. On that day, or very soon thereafter, the Treasury will run out of room to use extraordinary measures to keep meeting its obligations without issuing any new debt. To avoid a default at that point, which most economists agree would be catastrophic, the Treasury will then need to slash spending immediately and precipitously—by about 44%. The process won’t be tidy; depending on what bills are coming due on a particular day, the shortfall will affect payments to state governments, public employees (including soldiers), payouts to entitlement beneficiaries, and so on. Absent an agreement to raise the debt ceiling, spending would be slashed by $134 billion over the month of August. That would represent a sudden fiscal consolidation of over 10% of GDP—enough, in all likelihood, to tip the economy into recession. And at some point, if no agreement were reached, default would become inevitable. (read all)

Anybody home in Republicanland? Are you sure you know what you’re doing? I am pissed. So, setting the economy on fire wasn’t enough in 2008? Want to blow it up one more time? A really spectacular blowup this time that destroys government, so Grover Norquist will love you all and rapture you into everlasting economic bliss, as promised for his true believers?

You know what? YOU ARE THE PITS!

Greek people go hungry, because your rating agencies saw fit to play monopoly with their assessments and caused the worst currency crisis ever. Hey, just a hint. If the agencies and banks thought Greece’s debt was a problem, why not stop lending before? Maybe because you could get top interest and then socialised your losses to a point where the beast you so busily starved can’t do anything to relieve you anymore? Now it’s time for bilking, eh?

Being able to eat to sustain yourself is by now considered an entitlement obviously in the US. We don’t want that over here, we don’t think like you do, we actually practise a Democracy on Christian principles of caring for our neighbour! Now you are about to present us with another economic crash three years after the last one, which we, using our socialist methods, mostly rode out fairly well. But we won’t be able to just right now. We can’t breathe anymore.

Corporate greed Republican-style caused the stock market crash in 1929 and gave the Fascists here the final push into government. With the most terrible consequences imaginable. In 1945 Europe was reduced to rubble.

This time around fascism rears it’s head on your side of the pond, the consequences may well play out on your soil. So be careful what you wish for. And don’t expect any help. We can’t, your style of capitalism has already stripped us clean.

You’re on your own.

The Watering Hole: Tuesday July 12, 2011 – Media Moguls

This has not been a good week for media moguls. On a small scale Silvio Berlusconi had to suffer a defeat if you can call EUR 530 million small scale. Anyhow it is the first time in years he wasn’t able to ward off the consequences of his doings. He announced by the way, he won’t run for another four years when the next elections come up in 2013. I wish, however, there’s more than only four years in store for him, though not in office, but in jail. He’s done enough damage as it is.

Much worse, and I am grinning here, is the fate of Rupert Murdoch. He seems to have helped himself to a corporate meltdown. Just have a look at the latest revelations on how his media empire acts:

Gordon Brown
9/11 victims
Royalty
Crime Victims
War casualties
And look who was in bed with them 

It would be totally naive to think Murdoch’s US flagship FOX wasn’t using the same tactics of intimidation and blackmail. So lets keep the stories coming in, FOX News may be in the news before long and ultimately damaged enough, so their influence on your politics will be greatly diminished, too. Wishful thinking?

This is our Open Thread. What do you wish for? And go see, there may be new stories coming up during the day below this and we don’t do hacking just thinking.

The Watering Hole: Tuesday June 14th – Basta!

“Basta!” means “Enough!” in Italian. And basta the Italians said yesterday. In four referendi they dealt a huge blow to Italian Prime Minster Silvio Berlusconi. They said: “Enough!” To the privatization of their water supply. “Enough!” to the guaranteed profits of same privatization. “Enough!” to the plans to build new nuclear power plants. And, finally: “Enough!” to the tailor made legislation, that was meant to let Berlusconi off the hook in his legal troubles. They even managed to get over the quorum of minimum 50% of voters (57%) even though the government had picked a bank holiday weekend for the vote and tried to discourage the people from voting. You can find two excellent background articles on Berlusconi’s Italy here and here.

Basta Cavaliere! Vattene!

The Italians could do it. The Spanish can do it, the Greek can do it, the Syrians do it at a cruel price, the Libyans do it, Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan so many people are now standing up for their rights against their corrupt elites. When will we?

This is our Open Thread. Speak Up!

The Watering Hole: February 1, The March of Millions

Nefertiti

It is still early in the day, but hundreds of thousands Egyptians have already taken to the street. Let us hope the protests will be peaceful. For live updates on the situation, you can go to the following sites:

The BBC

The Guardian

Meet Mohamed El Baradei at The Independent. Remember, this was the man who couldn’t be pressured, nor bribed into supporting Bush’s Iraq war reasoning. And he couldn’t be pressured, nor bribed into saying Iran’s nuclear program was entirely peaceful. I, for my part, would be happy for the Egyptians, if he was too be Mubarak’s successor.

This is, however, our open thread, so don’t hesitate to change the topic!

Across the Pond – Europe’s News

What’s in the news? Egypt again, of course. The situation has not dramatically changed. Mubarak still tries to smother the unrest the only way he knows, by banning the TV and the internet.

Mr. Mubarak, I have news for you: Your people is out in the streets protesting you and not sitting in front of the TV set or computer. There is no way back. There is a plane waiting for you somewhere. Your cronies have already seen the light, many rich families have fled the country and are sipping their tea in Dubai now.

What violence occurs now, is mostly looting and criminally motivated. Prison breaks are rampant and add to the confusion.

Here’s what we find on the news sites  in Europe:

The Independent:

In the pantomime world of Mubarak himself – and of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in Washington – the man who still claims to be president of Egypt swore in the most preposterous choice of vice-president in an attempt to soften the fury of the protesters – Omar Suleiman, Egypt’s chief negotiator with Israel and his senior intelligence officer, a 75-year-old with years of visits to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and four heart attacks to his credit. How this elderly apparatchik might be expected to deal with the anger and joy of liberation of 80 million Egyptians is beyond imagination. When I told the demonstrators on the tank around me the news of Suleiman’s appointment, they burst into laughter. (read more)

The Guardian:

And Arabs from the Mashreq to the Maghreb are watching, egging on those protesters to topple Hosni Mubarak who has ruled Egypt for 30 years, because they know if he goes, all the other old men will follow, those who have smothered their countries with one hand and robbed them blind with the other. Mubarak is the Berlin Wall. “Down, down with Hosni Mubarak,” resonates through the whole region. (read more)

Der Tagesanzeiger

Die Aufstände in Tunesien und Ägypten beseelen den Westen mit neuer Hoffnung auf eine demokratischere Welt. Doch das Beispiel der ehemaligen Sowjetunion zeigt deutlich: Demokratie ist nicht ansteckend. Und selbst wenn es zum Aufstand kommt: Dass dabei ein demokratischer Staat entsteht, ist die Ausnahme und keinesfalls die Regel.

The uprising in Tunisia and Egypt instill new hopes in the west for a more democratic world order. But the developments in the former Soviet Union show clearly: Democracy is not contagious. And even if there is a general uprising: The creation of a democratic state is the exception not the rule.  (full story)

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:

Würde Ägypten in einem revolutionären Strudel versinken, fiele ein wesentlicher Akteur des nahöstlichen Friedensprozesses für geraume Zeit aus. Überdies gibt es in Ägypten im Unterschied zu Tunesien eine starke islamistische Bewegung, die von Mubaraks Regime unterdrückten Muslimbrüder.

If Egypt went down in revolutionary turmoil, an important actor in the Middle East peace process would drop out for a considerable time. Moreover, there is a strong islamist movement in Egypt, the oppressed Muslim Brotherhood. (full story)

Der Spiegel:

In the wake of the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia, the Egyptians are now revolting against the regime of President Hosni Mubarak. The country feels as if it were waking up from a bad dream, but the West stands to lose a reliable partner — and Israel one of its few Arab friends. (read all)

The Jerusalem Post:

The fear and trembling is that what happened in France in 1789, in Russia in 1917 and in Iran in 1979 will repeat itself in Egypt and the Arab world in 2011. After the old was thumped out by the new in those countries, there was a brief moment when democratic forces arose – be it the National Constituent Assembly and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in France, Alexander Kerensky in Russia, or Shapour Bakhtiar in Iran – only to be swept away by the radicals: Robespierre in Paris, the Bolsheviks in Moscow, Ayatollah Khomeini in Teheran.

In Egypt, too, democratic forces are on the march, but the radical extremists are lurking in the shadows, ready to pounce. (read more)

Enjoy your reading. The situation will further unfold today and, if necessary I’ll update this post accordingly.

Unrest in the Middle East

Picture Source: harleyk.com

We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.

[...]

The leaders of governments with long habits of control need to know: To serve your people you must learn to trust them.

George W. Bush: Second Inaugural Address 2005

Nice.

Now the people in the Maghreb and the Middle East are demanding their liberty. Is George W. Bush’s professed agenda for bringing democracy to the region working out after all?

Tunisia:

For decades, Tunisia has promoted itself as an Arab world success story, a place where the economy is stronger than in neighboring countries, women’s rights are respected, unrest is rare and European tourists can take stress-free vacations at beach resorts.

But the recent protests have exposed a side of Tunisia that the country has long tried to hide: the poverty of the countryside, poor job prospects for youths and seething resentment at the government of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who has ruled Tunisia with an iron fist since 1987. (read more)

Egypt:

Weeks of unrest in Tunisia eventually toppled President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali earlier this month.

Egypt has many of the same social and political problems that brought about the unrest in Tunisia – rising food prices, high unemployment and anger at official corruption. (read more)

Yemen:

“We will not accept anything less than the president leaving,” said independent parliamentarian Ahmed Hashid. “We’ll only be happy when we hear the words ‘I understand you’ from the president,” invoking a statement issued by Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali before he fled the country.

Nearly half of Yemen’s population lives below the poverty line of $2 a day and doesn’t have access to proper sanitation. Less than a tenth of the roads are paved. Tens of thousands have been displaced from their homes by conflict, flooding the cities. (read more)

Algeria:

The riots are widely seen as drawing on deep frustrations with the ruling elite and a lack of political freedom, as well as more immediate concerns about the cost of living, housing, and jobs.

The prices of flour, cooking oil and sugar have doubled in the past few months.
(read more)

Jordan:

Demonstrators in Jordan say they are preparing for more protests. Massive demonstrations inspired by unrest in Tunisia have shaken what historically has been one of the most stable nations in the Middle East and raised questions about the future role of the country’s popular monarch.

Some protesters in last Friday’s demonstration waved pieces of bread. (read more)

Oman, has had some bouts of protestestation, really unusual for the country. The Saudi King has issued a statement today about the situation in Egypt:

“No Arab or Muslim can tolerate any meddling in the security and stability of Arab and Muslim Egypt by those who infiltrated the people in the name of freedom of expression, exploiting it to inject their destructive hatred.”[...]
“As they condemn this, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its people and government declares it stands with all its resources with the government of Egypt and its people,”

The Saudis and most of our other “friends” in the region are none too happy, of course, to see what was basically widespread food revolts turn into a movement for democracy across the region.  The words of G.W. Bush may have inadvertently come true. Not as a result of  his  “Freedom Agenda”, but because his administration’s disastrous economic policies, which have triggered the latest economic crisis, which has triggered the social unrest and which may well trigger the fall of the former President’s Middle East pet despots.

But will they really be replaced by democratic  governments? I have my doubts. The Middle East is not a monolithic cultural area. Yemen and Tunisia are worlds apart. There  are marked differences in the societies of Egypt and Algeria. Just look at the pictures in the news. While in Tunisia you could see many young women joining in the protests, you see mostly men in Egypt and a still more marked difference in Yemen. In the end there may be just more bloodshed and instability in the region and no marked improvement for the people of the countries involved.

Want to read more on this? See:

Rupert Cornwell

Robert Fisk

Soumaya Ghanousshi

The Guardian: Live Updates on Egypt

 

The Watering Hole: November 23, War Games

North Korea shot dozens of rounds of artillery onto a populated South Korean island near their disputed western border today, military officials said, setting buildings on fire and prompting South Korea to return fire and scramble fighter jets. (read more)

It is more or less business as usual up to now, WW3 is not yet around the corner. The trouble seems obvious: The US are backing the South, China is backing the North and both China and the US are economically far too interdependent to really make a move there. I don’t believe for a minute there is real danger from the alleged NK nuke program. But we all know the Koreans in the North are suffering badly under whichever Kim is currently munching popcorn and watching porn as their beloved “leader”. Again, for the sake of economic interests millions are suffering.

(You can tell I’m seething, can’t you?)

The second bit of not so new, but new to me news that got my goat this morning was Murdoch’s plans to get out a cheap iPAD newspaper:

Rupert Murdoch is a professed believer in the healing power of the iPad. “We’ll have young people reading newspapers,” Rupert Murdoch said during a recent earnings call. “It’s a real game changer in the presentation of news.” The paper will be available only as paid content, at an as yet undetermined price. ( source: Newser)

Now the deal is all but fixed. The publication will be called “The Daily” and cost 99¢ per week. I consider shelving my decision to buy an iPAD indefinitely. But, honestly, why are progressive media always coming in second when it comes to get out the message? We all know the manipulative ways of Murdoch “news”-media, why hand the field to him? I do think progressive media are far too complacent and too busy feeling superior to the great unwashed. This brand of intellectual arrogance has caused trouble before.

This is our Open Thread. Feel free to comment on this, or anything else that’s on your mind.

Former Senator Ted Stevens dies in plane crash

Former Alaskan Senator Ted Steven has died today in a plane crash in Alaska, has been confirmed.

Former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, 86, has died in a plane crash in Alaska, according to his former chief of staff Mitch Rose.

Former Nasa chief Sean O’Keefe was confirmed also to have been aboard the small plane, officials say.

The aircraft is believed to have been carrying nine people.

The National Transportation Safety Board says five people were killed and four survived, with two badly hurt. It remains unclear who the survivors are. (read all)

Also on board was the current director of EADS America O’Keefe. Allegedly Mr O’Keefe and his son have survived the accident. Former Senator Stevens leaves a wife and six children. I am truly sorry for his family as well as for the families of the passengers and crew on board of that plane, who all suffered a terrible loss.