October 10, 2008 archive

Four at Four

  1. Here is some of that Good News from Iraq™ that Laura Bush talked about. The NY Times reports As Fears Ease, Baghdad Sees Walls Tumble.

    Market by market, square by square, the walls are beginning to come down. The miles of hulking blast walls, ugly but effective, were installed as a central feature of the surge of American troops to stop neighbors from killing one another.

    They protected against car bombs and drive-by attacks,” said Adnan, 39, a vegetable seller in the once violent neighborhood of Dora, who argues that the walls now block the markets and the commerce that Baghdad needs to thrive. “Now it is safe.”

    The slow dismantling of the concrete walls is the most visible sign of a fundamental change here in the Iraqi capital.

    Except that’s not the whole story. McClatchy Newspapers explained Assassinations are replacing car bombs in Iraq.

    U.S. and Iraqi officials are seeing a shift in violence in Iraq from mass car bombings to assassinations using magnetic bombs, weapons with silencers and bicycle bombs. As provincial elections approach, some officials worry that assassinations will increase as political parties try to eradicate their competitors.

    “Some of the organizations that are seeking political power are resorting to intimidation and violence,” said Maj. Gen. Michael L. Oates, the commander of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division, whose area of command includes most of southern Iraq. “So you’ll see individual bombs used against a prominent member of a party. I personally think we will see an uptick of that type of violence as we go into the election cycle because . . . the way some people deal with political tension here is to eliminate the other parties by using violence.”

    And sure enough, the NY Times reports a day earlier that a Roadside bomb in Baghdad killed a Shiite legislator. “The legislator, Saleh al-Ugaili, had just left his home in Sadr City and was on the way to Parliament inside the fortified Green Zone when his unarmored sport utility vehicle hit the bomb, according to several witnesses. Mr. Ugaili suffered severe head injuries and died at the hospital. A passer-by on a motorbike was also killed, and two of the official’s companions were wounded. The attack happened near a busy traffic circle known to locals as Al Hamza, almost 200 yards from an Iraqi Army checkpoint.”

    As a result of the assasination, the LA Times reports Shiite fighters clash with Iraqi, U.S. troops in Baghdad.

    Clashes between Shiite Muslim militants and U.S. and Iraqi troops erupted in east Baghdad on Thursday night when groups loyal to anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada Sadr accused Washington of orchestrating the assassination of a popular lawmaker…

    Baha Araji, a lawmaker with Sadr’s bloc, accused the Iraqi military of lapses in security and suggested two reasons that the assassins may have targeted Uqaili’s convoy: as punishment for the Sadr bloc’s opposition to renewing a security agreement extending the U.S. troop presence in the country, and to weaken the bloc’s representation in parliament in the upcoming elections…

    In other developments Thursday, a bomb exploded near a minibus in Baqubah, about 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, killing a Sunni Arab fighter with the Awakening movement that has worked with U.S. troops against Islamic militants. His wife, daughter and son were also killed.

    A bomb detonated near a restaurant in Tall Afar, killing two people, including a police officer.

    Sorry Laura. I still think you’re full of crap subprime mortgage backed derivatives.

Four at Four continues with tribal wind power efforts, oysters in New York City waterways, and an agreement to protect Sumatra’s rainforest.

US told to increase nuclear arsenal as China threat looms

The US must increase its nuclear arsenal in response to China’s growing military might, according to a State Department report.


The ABC’s to Blocking the Future

The various fossil fuel industries have been spending hundreds of millions (if not billions) of dollars to influence the national discussion this year, from campaign contributions to Santa Claus giving out ‘clean coal’ at the Metro exits closest to Congressional offices to sponsoring presidential debates throughout the election cycle.  This fossil foolish promotion of a carbon-heavy, civilization-unfriendly seems to be putting money in many pockets, including public communications companies and broadcast companies.  

For example,  CNN has been earned much from coal industry sponsoring of debates, CBS from ExxonMobil, and ABC has aired Chevron greenwashing Human Energy ads just after debates.

One has to wonder whether this funding has affected ABC’s decision to deny the We Campaign’s Repower America advertisment that criticizes the money that big oil and lobbyists are spending to insure that Americans reman “stuck with dirty and expensive media”.  

An Indulgence

Indulge me, while I ramble on about religion. I will say in advance that what I know of Christianity is….not much. What I do know is from the point of view of an outsider and subjective (I am not a fan of organized religion and its role in humanity’s history) and mostly from sources somewhat hostile towards it.

The Myth Of American Exceptionalism is tied directly to Christianity. From Jefferson and many of the Founding Fathers grounding in the Enlightenment and the rejection of theocratic governments to the concept of Manifest Destiny that lead to the genocide of Native Americans to the current expression of that line of thought…American Exceptionalism.

The birth of Protestantism by Luther was based in part on the selling of indulgences, the concept that one could, by bribing the Church, buy ones way into heaven. This lead eventually to the Puritans, who according to American Myth, ‘founded America’ when they landed on Plymouth Rock. Then they bought Manhattan for $24 and started killing Injuns to steal more land from them. Somehow, this was a good thing. Because they were Christians and the Injuns weren’t.

I have heard that Calvinism includes the concept that if you are rich, that means that God has blessed you. Therefore, the richer you are the more God loves and thus the holier you are. Therefore if you are poor, God doesn’t like you. Ipso facto, God hates poor people so to be truly holy, you have to be rich.

According to Manifest Destiny, God loved American Protestants so much he granted them the right to kill anyone they wanted and steal their land.

So, just as when a touchdown is scored the credit goes to Jesus, God has been responsible for the greatness of America.

But when somebody fumbles in the end zone and the other team wins, you never hear them blame Jesus. When times are good, it is because God is smiling on America. Just ask Sarah, America is exceptional…it gets exceptions because God loves ‘us.’ (Well some of us, he also destroyed New Orleans cause of teh gays.) As long as America worships their God in the Right(‘s) way, we can do no wrong. Kill, torture, steal, hate…it is all good, God has said so.

So what does that mean when times are bad? Like….now.

Fundamental Christianity reached a zenith under Bush. Bush has said in effect God wanted him to be President. So after 8 years of Fundamentalist ascendancy and a President personally appointed by God….we are losing two wars and are quickly going broke. By the means God uses to judge us…granting us victory in war and making us rich…well, um….

What does this mean? Sarah? Can you help me out here? Is God telling us something? Again, excuse my ignorance on this subject, please indulge me and explain how this all works.

Make Banking A Public Utility?

Professor Leo Panitch, Canada Research Chair in Comparative Political Economy and a Distinguished Research Professor of Political Science at York University in Toronto, talks with Paul Jay of The Real News, and describes the various decisions on the part of the US government which led to the financial crisis.

Panitch says that the roots of the crisis go all the way back to the 1960’s and that the effort to house the poor without mobilizing large public expenditure is what created the conditions for the crisis. As a result, the only way to resolve the situation is to return this role to the state itself, as funded by progressive taxation and a sharp decline in military spending, and to remove greed and the profit motive from the equation by making banking a public utility.

October 10, 2008 – 8 min 34 sec

Leo Panitch: The roots and remedies of the financial crisis

Capitalism Just Can’t Stop Showing Its Ass These Days

I hadn’t been to an AIDS demonstration so far this year (my bad) but the prerecorded announcement from the ACT-UP phone tree Wednesday night haunted my sleep and got me out of bed and headed for midtown Thursday morning. The demo here in NYC was part of an international week of actions (including Arizona, Thailand, France, Switzerland and more) targeting pharmaceutical giant Roche. The demand was simple: Roche must negotiate with the South Korean government to lower prices on bulk orders of lifesaving AIDS drug Fuzeon for its national healthcare system.

What got me going was hearing the quote from Urs Fluekiger, marketing director for Roche Korea, who explained the company’s refusal to budge on their $22,000 price tag for one patient/year of this vital medication:

We do not do business for saving lives but for making money. Saving lives is none of our business.

ACT-UP Roche demo 1

I thought to myself, okay, that tears it. It’s getting harder and harder to find anyone saying a kind word about good old freemarket capitalism, what with the mounting wreckage that is the global economy these days and the hurt that will be put on everyday working people here in the US and around the world in order to rescue the bloodsuckers who have benefited from this system.

There’s every reason we should make a point of kicking ’em while they’re down.

So I did my little bit yesterday, leafleting at a characteristically lively and imaginative action by ACT-UP’s New York and Philly locals and other AIDS groups. Scores of people grabbed fliers as they rushed to work in the skyscraper housing LifeBrands, Inc., the ad agency that Roche employs to promote Fuzeon.

There’s plenty more detail to deepen your rage at Roche–how they bought out the company that was given the rights to this drug by the governmen (which sponsored the original research), how their executives have shut down all AIDS and HIV research, how their profits last year exceeded 30%. But that one quote tells the story, about Roche and about the whole system they have made themselves such a success in.

We do not do business for saving lives but for making money. Saving lives is none of our business.

ACT-UP Roche demo 2

(photos: Kaytee Riek)

Crossposted from Fire on the Mountain, where there are other photos of the demo.

Palin pre-empts state report, clears self

That’s right ladies and gentlemen Sarah Palin and the  McCain campaign have “cleared” her of any wrong doing in this matter. Praise be to sushi and udon.  Who else could have cleared the Wasila moose hunter and secessionists Governor of Alaska of any wrong doing.  

Palin pre-empts state report, clears self

Alaska lawmakers expected to release ethics probe findings Friday

Associated Press

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Trying to head off a potentially embarrassing state ethics report on GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, campaign officials released their own report Thursday that clears her of any wrongdoing.

Sen. John McCain’s running mate is the subject of a legislative investigation into whether she abused her power as governor by firing her public safety commissioner. The commissioner, Walter Monegan, says he was dismissed in July for resisting pressure from Palin’s husband, Todd Palin, and numerous top aides to fire state trooper Mike Wooten, Palin’s former brother-in-law.


Open Thread


Threadgate. Ya betcha!

Docudharma Times Friday October 10

We Only Listen To Terrorist Phone Calls

That’s Why We Listened To The Phone Calls

Of Americans Living Overseas

Friday’s Headlines:

Children of Vietnam War servicemen seek U.S. citizenship

Pakistanis unite to fight extremism

The Bruce Lee legend

Turkish air force chief attacked for directing anti-insurgency operation from golf course

Romanian actress battles racism in Italy

Corruption blamed as cholera rips through Iraq

DiCaprio film glamorizes Jordan’s feared spy agency

Migrant vessel sinks off Morocco  

Out Of Africa

On the Sunny Beaches of Brazil, A Perplexing Inrush of Penguins

Markets in Europe and Asia Plunge  



Published: October 10, 2008  

PARIS — Global stocks plummeted Friday, with selling momentum accelerating after a Japanese insurance company was driven out of business by failed investments.

European markets fell sharply at the opening, with the FTSE 100 index in London falling 10 percent, the CAC-40 in Paris fell down more than 9 percent, and the DAX in Frankfurt down 10 percent.

Shares in Asia plunged after the rout Thursday on Wall Street, where the Dow Jones industrial average plummeted 7.3 percent, or 678 points, closing below the 9,000-mark for the first time since 2003.

U.S. tapped intimate calls from Americans overseas, 2 eavesdroppers say

 They say government monitors transcribed and passed around embarrassing information for their own enjoyment.

 By Greg Miller, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

October 10, 2008  

WASHINGTON — U.S. intelligence analysts eavesdropped on personal calls between Americans overseas and their families back home and monitored the communications of workers with the Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations, according to two military linguists involved in U.S. surveillance programs.

The accounts are the most detailed to date to challenge the assertions of President Bush, CIA Director Michael V. Hayden and other administration officials that the government’s controversial overseas wiretapping activities have been carefully monitored to prevent abuse and invasion of U.S. citizens’ privacy.

Describing the allegations as “extremely disturbing,” Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said the panel had launched an inquiry and requested records from the Bush administration.



Investor Confidence Dashed as Bailout Fails to Quickly Loosen Credit

  By Renae Merle, Michael A. Fletcher and Neil Irwin

Washington Post Staff Writers

Friday, October 10, 2008; Page A01  

Fear and foreboding took hold on Wall Street yesterday, as the stock market again plunged and investors became convinced that the nation is on the verge of a deep and prolonged recession. The rout continued in Japan, where stocks plummeted in early trading.

The government took steps toward an extraordinary public investment in U.S. banks and General Motors stock fell to its lowest price since 1950 on fears it will not be able to weather the downturn. Share prices fell across every industry and for each of the 30 stocks in the Dow Jones industrial average, which was down 679 points, or 7.3 percent, to 8579.19.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

A Transition through Poetry XXVII

Art Link


The Questions

When people ask me

“Who are you?”

I answer honestly

“I am me.”

When they ask

“What are you?”

I say “An individual, one,

And I am whole.”

When I’m asked

“Which are you?”

I know that others decide

that for themselves.

When I hear

“Why are you?”

The why is not important

“Because I am.”

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–February, 1995

Overnight Caption Contest (new)

What Are They Doing About All This?

cross posted from The Dream Antilles

The answer is Nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.  Zippo. Zero.  They haven’t got a clue.  They are going to let it all come down, however it comes.

Permit me some extreme grouchiness.  And anger.  And despair.

People I know were evicted today from their home in the wake of not being able to pay their mortgage.  A long legal battle ended.  They lost.  The Sheriffs were there.  There was the cliche, the spectacle of having the young children sit on the curb while the furniture was deposited on the lawn. I don’t have $30,000+ to loan them to stop it.  Nor do their friends or family.  And I don’t see Congress or anybody else stepping in to do anything about this.  Maybe later on, when they’ve moved out and lost their home and are living somewhere else.  Maybe then there will be some “relief.”  For somebody else. I wish they lived in Chicago, but they don’t.

And then there’s this:


One Year of the DJIA

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