January 1, 2009 archive

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Four at Four

  1. The Washington Post reports Obama and Pelosi to discuss scope of economic package. This Monday, President-elect Barack Obama and Speaker Nancy Pelosi will meet in person to “discuss the scope and timing of the economic recovery package, which Obama has said will be his first priority upon being sworn into office. Pelosi has said her goal is to have the legislation on the new president’s desk and ready to be signed on Jan. 20.”

    However after approving billions for unnecessary wars and favors for the wealthy that contributed to the downfall of the U.S. economy, now “Republicans and conservative Democrats are raising concerns about the impact on the federal deficit of spending hundreds of billions on an array of projects with little vetting by Congress. Lawmakers now expect a spending package of between $675 billion and $775 billion.”

  2. The LA Times asks Will the stocks’ slide get even worse?

    With the current recession already a year old, most economists expect a turnaround in the second half of 2009. If the market follows the usual script, stocks should show a significant pickup beginning in the first quarter of the new year…

    However, “some investment professionals caution against putting too much faith in historical trends. This recession has been different from most, rooted in the bursting of the housing bubble and magnified by a credit crunch unlike anything the world has experienced in modern times…

    One key issue is that there still is little confidence that the housing market is bottoming… Economists at Goldman Sachs & Co … [project] that U.S. home prices, on average, will drop 15% more over the next year…

    Demographics also may be a weight on the market: Many aging baby boomers are likely to be selling stocks to fund their retirement or to shift to less volatile investments such as bonds…

    With the dive in share prices in 2008, the bull market gains of this entire decade already are gone: The Dow is down 24% since Dec. 31, 1999.

  3. The NY Times reports Iraq plans to open more oil fields to bidding. “Iraq announced on Wednesday that it would begin a second round of bids to license international oil companies to develop 11 oil and gas fields or groups of fields. Iraq’s oil minister, Hussain al-Shahristani, said at a news conference that he hoped that these fields could be producing 2 to 2.5 million barrels of oil a day in three or four years. The goal, he said, is to produce 6 million barrels a day in four or five years, up from the current 2.4 million.”

  4. The Guardian reports NASA scientist James Hansen warns Obama that Climate change policies are failing. “Current approaches to deal with climate change are ineffectual, one of the world’s top climate scientists said today in a personal new year appeal to Barack Obama and his wife Michelle on the urgent need to tackle global warming.”

    Hansen wrote that there is a “profound disconnect” between public policy on climate change and the magnitude of the problem as described by the science. He praised Obama’s campaign rhetoric about “a planet in peril”, but said that how the new president responds in office will be crucial. The letter contains a wish list of three policy measures to tackle global warming.

    Hansen lambasts the current international approach of setting targets to be met through “cap and trade” schemes as not up to the task…

    First, he wants a moratorium and phase-out of coal-fired power stations – which he calls “factories of death” – that do not incorporate carbon capture and storage…

    Second, he proposes a “carbon tax and 100% dividend”: a mechanism for putting a price on carbon without raising money for government coffers…

    Finally, Hansen wants a renewed research effort into so-called fourth generation nuclear plants, which can use nuclear waste as fuel.

I HATE New Years Resolutions

Yeah, I said it. And I’ll say it again…I hate New Years resolutions!!!

Most of all, I hate what they’ve become in our culture. A way to mostly look at the superficial qualities of our lives and think that somehow we’ll be happier if we change them. Oh, and there are usually tons of products we can buy that will “help” us achieve them, so its now time to pony up.

Secondly, I don’t think anyone really changes as a result of resolving to do so – at least not in the long term. Most changes that last come about as a result of fearless introspection combined with time and lots of patience.

I’ve written before about the limits I see to willpower. But there is something even more insidious about how most people approach resolutions. For some people (not all), this becomes a time to unleash all of the “shoulds” that have been rolling around in our heads. Most often, these are the shoulds that others in our lives or culture have laid on us as baggage. To resolve to meet those shoulds is usually not only doomed to fail, but negates our own true desires for ourselves.  

On to 2009

And the Apocalyptic Horse Ride!

On Borrowed Time

On Borrowed Time is a 1939 film about the role death plays in life, and how we cannot live without it.  Set in a more innocent time in small-town America, the film stars Lionel Barrymore, Beulah Bondi and Cedric Hardwicke.

Lionel Barrymore plays Julian Northrup, a wheelchair-bound man, who with his wife Nellie, played by Beulah Bondi, are raising their orphaned grandson, Pud. Another central character is Gramps’s beloved old apple tree.  By making a wish, Gramps has made the tree able to hold anyone who climbs.

One day the fedora-wearing Mr. Brink (the personification of death, played by Cedric Hardwicke), who has recently taken Pud’s parents in an auto wreck, comes for Gramps. Not knowing who he’s talking to, a crotchety old Gramps orders Death off the property. Later, Mr. Brink takes Nellie, and then returns again for Gramps. Now realizing who Mr. Brink is and determined not to die, Gramps tricks Death up into the old apple tree where he must remain until Gramps lets him down. While stuck in the tree, he can’t take Gramps or anyone else, for that matter.

Meanwhile, Pud’s aunt (his mother’s sister), has designs on Pud and especially the money left him by his parents, and Gramps spends much time fighting off her efforts. Gramps is also fighting efforts to have him committed to the insane asylum for claiming that Death is trapped in his apple tree. He proves that no one can die until he allows Death down from the tree by shooting the man who has come to take him to the asylum – the man lives, when he should have died.

Gramps’s doctor is now a believer, but he tries to convince Gramps to let Death down so people who are suffering can find release. Gramps refuses – he has to remain alive to take care of Pud and keep the wicked aunt away from him. But Mr. Brink manages to coax Pud to climb the fence Gramps had built around the tree to protect people from Death – any person or animal who touches the tree dies. Pud balances on the top of the fence and then falls, crippling himself for life. Distraught, Gramps takes the boy out to the tree and begs Death to take them both, which he does – and both Gramps and Pud find they can walk again.

The final scene has them joyfully walking together up a beautiful country lane, listening to Grandma calling to them from beyond a brilliant light.


As a child, I saw this movie on TV sometime during the late 50s; and I have never forgotten it.


MEMO TO: Barack Obama

Nine Steps to Peace for Obama in the New Year

Deepak Chopra

Thursday, 01 January 2009

AlterNet via Truthout

   Steps the incoming president can take to build a peace-based economy.

   The following is a memo to Barack Obama from Deepak Chopra.

   You have been elected by the first anti-war constituency since 1952, when Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected after promising to end the Korean War. But ending a war isn’t the same as bringing peace. America has been on a war footing since the day after Pearl Harbor, 67 years ago. We spend more on our military than the next 16 countries combined. If you have a vision of change that goes to the heart of this country’s deep problems, ending our dependence on war is far more important than ending our dependency on foreign oil.

   The most immediate changes are economic. Unless it can make as much money as war, peace doesn’t stand a chance. Since aerospace and military technologies remain the United States’ most destructive export, fostering wars around the world, what steps can we take to reverse that trend and build a peace-based economy?

   1. Scale out arms dealing and make it illegal by the year 2020.

   2. Write into every defense contract a requirement for a peacetime project.

   3. Subsidize conversion of military companies to peaceful uses with tax incentives and direct funding.

   4. Convert military bases to housing for the poor.

   5. Phase out all foreign military bases.

   6. Require military personnel to devote part of their time to rebuilding infrastructure.

   7. Call a moratorium on future weapons technologies.

   8. Reduce armaments like destroyers and submarines that have no use against terrorism and were intended to defend against a superpower enemy that no longer exists.

   9. Fully fund social services and take the balance out of the defense and homeland security budgets.

   These are just the beginning. We don’t lack creativity in coping with change. Without a conversion of our present war economy to a peace economy, the high profits of the military-industrial complex ensures that it will never end.

   Do these nine steps seem unrealistic or fanciful? In various ways, other countries have adopted similar measures. The former Soviet army is occupied with farming and other peaceful work, for example. But comparisons are rather pointless, since only the United States is burdened with such a massive reliance on defense spending. Ultimately, empire follows the dollar. As a society, we want peace, and we want to be seen as a nation that promotes peace. For either ideal to come true, you as president must back up your vision of change with economic reality. So far, that hasn’t happened under any of your predecessors. All hopes are pinned on you.


   Deepak Chopra is acknowledged as one of the world’s greatest leaders in the field of mind-body medicine. He is the author of over 50 books, including “Buddha: A Story of Enlightenment” and “Ageless Body, Timeless Mind.”


2008: Goodbye to the abortion that lived.

A Rant…

Seriously, I cannot think of one think to be proud of in this year gone by on a National level, other than the fact we elected a Black American in our still deeply racist country.

Not that he is indicative of any Black person I know, and will do anything whatsofucking ever to help their plight.

The only remotely positive thing is “The End of an Error” and the fact that the ring may have been sliced, albeit briefly, from Gollums hand.

My son gave me the button he bought last year with his own money for Christmas in celebration. It was his favorite button.

But still, this year is a MONUMENT to monstrosity, man, with no end in sight….

David Walsh selects his favorite films of 2008

Original article, by David Walsh (duh!), via World Socialist Web Site:

2008 will be remembered as the year of a global economic crash and a turning point in modern history. It will not be recalled as a great year in filmmaking, despite a few bright spots. How, when and through whose efforts the consequences of the unfolding economic calamity for masses of people worldwide will find artistic expression is still impossible to say.


20 Days To The Bush Legacy

By David Horsey, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Docudharma Times Thursday January 1


Thursday’s Headlines:

Tough Calculus for Blagojevich on Senate Seat

Fears as Czech Republic takes over helm of EU

Russia to Cut Off Gas Supplies After Talks With Ukraine Fail

Activists accused of plotting Zimbabwe coup remain in jail

Zimbabwe’s money man plans to keep on printing

Fire at Thai nightclub kills 59 revellers

Sri Lanka captures key Tamil Tiger town

US hands over green zone in Baghdad as Iraq takes control

How Hamas is altering Israeli politics

As hard times bite, Cubans show little appetite for celebration

Israel rejects ceasefire move as divisions emerge in leadership

• More troops mass on border

• Hamas rockets land 25 miles into Israel

Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem

The Guardian, Thursday 1 January 2009

Israel rejected any temporary halt to its five-day bombing campaign in Gaza yesterday and continued to hit targets in the Palestinian territory amid the first signs of disagreement over strategy among Israel’s leaders.

Israeli troops and tank crews gathered in larger numbers on the Gaza border ready for a new stage in the fighting. A possible invasion by Israeli forces could range from limited ground incursions to a much larger land invasion of Gaza, home to 1.5 million Palestinians. Another call-up of reservists has been approved, bringing the total to 9,000.

Israel widened its buffer zone under military authority around Gaza to a radius of 25 miles after the reach of Hamas rockets extended to the town of Be’er Sheva

Britain ready to take in Guantánamo prisoners

Deal will help Obama to close down terror jail

From The Times

January 1, 2009

Sam Coates, Tim Reid and Richard Ford

Britain is preparing to receive foreign terror suspects from Guantánamo Bay so that Barack Obama can shut it down, The Times has learnt.

Government sources say that Britain now supports moves to rehouse the detainees, despite previous refusals to help President Bush.

A Downing Street official said that a process to deal with the detainees was being put in place and that decisions “would be for the Home Secretary to decide on a case-by-case basis”.

The issue is the subject of intense negotiations within Whitehall. The Foreign Office appears much keener on the idea than other departments, which will have to deal with the suspects’ immigration status and whether they will need special housing and cash benefits. Having foreign terror suspects with no links to the UK housed here inevitably will provoke controversy.



New Sentencing Guidelines For Crack, New Challenges

By Del Quentin Wilber

Washington Post Staff Writer

Thursday, January 1, 2009; Page A01

Michael D. Thompson, a former crack cocaine dealer, thought he deserved a break.

Sentenced in 2000 to 15 years and eight months in prison, Thompson asked a federal judge in the District to release him, arguing that he had received an unfair sentence and has turned his life around behind bars, earning a general equivalency diploma and completing a commercial driving course.

Federal prosecutors said that was a terrible idea. Citing Thompson’s criminal past and prison disciplinary record, which includes threatening a prison official with a knife, prosecutors argued in court papers that the 37-year-old poses a danger to the community and should complete his sentence.

Pretty Paltry New Year


Where are the Mummers?  Wasn’t there some kind of Orange Bowl Parade?

The Rose Bowl Parade is at 11 am on NBC, ABC, and HGTV (which does by far the best job).


Outback Bowl 11 am (supposedly on ESPN).

  • South Carolina
  • Iowa

Capital One Bowl 1 pm ABC

  • Georgia
  • Michigan State

Gator Bowl 1 pm CBS

  • Nebraska
  • Clemson

Rose Bowl 5 pm ABC

  • Penn St.
  • USC

Orange Bowl 8:30 pm Faux

  • Cincinnati
  • Virginia Tech

I have to say this is a completely substandard performance.  I should be able to hangover hazed glut myself on sex, violence, and consumption through a dimly remembered bacon and eggs benedict, pancake, bloody mary, mimosa binge for a solid 24 hours.

I am expecting you to provide substitute amusement.

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