The year 2009 marks the 85th anniversary of the death of the man who, together with Leon Trotsky, made a decisive contribution to the cause of socialism and the working class in this century, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. To mark the occasion, we are republishing this article which was originally written to commemorate the Lenin centenary in 1970.
January 25, 2009 archive
Jan 25 2009
Jan 25 2009
Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread
|From Yahoo News Top Stories|
1 AP IMPACT: Lobbyists skirt Obama’s earmark ban
By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, Associated Press Writer
19 mins ago
|WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama’s ban on earmarks in the $825 billion economic stimulus bill doesn’t mean interest groups, lobbyists and lawmakers won’t be able to funnel money to pet projects.
They’re just working around it – and perhaps inadvertently making the process more secretive.
The projects run the gamut: a Metrolink station that needs building in Placentia, Calif.; a stretch of beach in Sandy Hook, N.J., that could really use some more sand; a water park in Miami.
Jan 25 2009
Earlier this month Debbie and I trekked to the Bronx on a very cold day, to the New York Botanical Garden, in order to see the Holiday Train Show.
I’ve got to say up front that we went because Debbie is a train fan and has a small collection of models. We were extremely disappointed in the train portion of the train show. But the buildings were magnificent!
Mostly, if not all organic, the historical models of New York’s architectural past were well worth the visit.
Up today are some of the public spaces. Coming in the future will be the private dwellings, commercial enterprises, bridges, trains, and churches included in the exhibit of more than 140 models.
Clicking on the graphics will often reward you with a larger view.
Jan 25 2009
Jan 25 2009
cross-posted from The Dream Antilles
I live in NY-20, the district allegedly represented by Kirsten Gillibrand, and have lived here in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains for more than 22 years. Maybe that has made me cynical. It means I lived here when it was part of militaristic Gerry Solomon’s conservative fiefdom. You remember his most memorable contribution to the nation: a law that if you plead guilty to a non-criminal possession of marijuana for personal use, you lose your federal financial aid for a year. Great policy, Gerry! Salute! And then it was represented by his hand picked, militaristic successor, John Sweeney, him with the DWI arrest with a woman, not his wife, allegedly sitting on his lap. When he ran against Gillibrand it was in the wake of allegations that he (still) beat his wife. Great politics, John. Salute!
Jan 25 2009
Note: This diary relies heavily on three brilliant videos from the TED conferences. They’re a little longer than your average music video but they present what I consider to be some very important ideas as well as being very interesting and entertaining. I urge you to watch them all in their entirety. I think you’ll be pleased that you did. Gracias.
Our entire improbable existence is the outcome of a long chain of bizarre circumstances, happenstances, accidents and experiments. Human society has never been anything more than a jackleg improvised house of cards – the rise and fall of civilizations themselves something of a mirage in motion, houses of smoke and mirrors, patchwork quilts comprised of dreams, hallucinations, insight and insanity, traditions and superstitions. We’ve been making it up as we went all along. Human society is an organism unto itself and subject with any certainty only to natural laws. It is understood poorly at best and nothing at all about it has ever been guaranteed. As Lithium Cola says, “what made you think any of this was ever going to work out anyway?”
Jan 25 2009
Ilona Meagher, of PTSD Combat: Winning the War Within, shares with us, from her Blogspot, the writings of another blogger, a Combat Veteran, Scott Lee, a Gulf War I Veteran , who writes about his experiances with PTS and returning to civilian life after the military and combat experiances and more.
Jan 25 2009
Obama Tells Them: I Won
Obama Plans Fast Action to Tighten Financial Rules
By STEPHEN LABATON
Published: January 24, 2009
WASHINGTON – The Obama administration plans to move quickly to tighten the nation’s financial regulatory system.
Officials say they will make wide-ranging changes, including stricter federal rules for hedge funds, credit rating agencies and mortgage brokers, and greater oversight of the complex financial instruments that contributed to the economic crisis.
Broad new outlines of the administration’s agenda have begun to emerge in recent interviews with officials, in confirmation proceedings of senior appointees and in a recent report by an international committee led by Paul A. Volcker, a senior member of President Obama’s economic team.
Third World gold mines spawn a global mercury threat
The toxic metal used at thousands of remote mining sites travels through the atmosphere and contaminates fish worldwide. It harms not only local workers, but people around the globe.
January 25, 2009
KERENGPANGI, INDONESIA — A gold miner stands waist-deep in a polluted pond, dumps a capful of mercury into a bucket of ore and mixes it in with his bare hands.
The darting liquid metal wraps itself around the gold to form a silver pellet the size of a marble.
The use of mercury in gold mining is illegal in Indonesia because the metal is toxic to humans and the environment. But the price of gold has tripled since 2001, and mercury is the easiest way to extract it.
“Of course I’m worried,” said miner Handoko, 23, a grim man in a baseball hat who goes by one name. “But this is the job.”
Tens of thousands of remote mining sites have sprung up mostly in Asia, Latin America and Africa, using as much as 1,000 tons of mercury each year. The mercury ravages the nervous system of miners and their families. It also travels thousands of miles in the atmosphere, settling in oceans and riverbeds in Europe and North America and contaminating fish.
To Combat Obama, Al-Qaeda Hurls Insults
Effort Hints at Group’s Consternation
By Joby Warrick
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 25, 2009; Page A01
Soon after the November election, al-Qaeda’s No. 2 leader took stock of America’s new president-elect and dismissed him with an insulting epithet. “A house Negro,” Ayman al-Zawahiri said.
That was just a warm-up. In the weeks since, the terrorist group has unleashed a stream of verbal tirades against Barack Obama, each more venomous than the last. Obama has been called a “hypocrite,” a “killer” of innocents, an “enemy of Muslims.” He was even blamed for the Israeli military assault on Gaza, which began and ended before he took office.
Jan 25 2009
Crossposted from Fire on the Mountain
1. Who won? In an immediate military sense, Israel. What do you expect? The Israeli Defense Forces made 2,500 plus F-16 and ‘copter air sorties against a densely populated urban area where the only opposing armed forces possessed no anti-aircraft guns, no surface to air missiles and no planes. It is estimated that repairing the damage suffered by the already desperate inhabitants of this colossal open air prison, the ones who survived, will run over $2 billion. 80% of the agricultural infrastructure of Gaza is reported to have been been destroyed.
Beyond the horrific destruction visited to the Palestinian people, though, the Israelis appear to have picked up a stone only to drop it on their own feet. They will have an uphill slog in the battle for summation, with direct political consequences in increased isolation as sympathy and even material support from people around the world flow to Gaza.
2. Despite careful timing–to take advantage of reduced attention to news during the Christian holiday season and to finish before administration change in the US–Israeli aggression caught world attention. Some analysts have pointed out that Israel dominated the “war of words,” banning foreign journalists from Gaza and working to see that discourse was laced with terms like terrorism, Islamic fundamentalists, security and the like. However, it decisively lost “the war of images” as photos and video provided by the Palestinian news agency Ramattan appeared on al-Jazeera and other news outlets, even CNN. This showed the people of the world the carnage, and the agony of those still living, and it documented IDF attacks on homes, schools, hospitals, mosques and UN facilities.
3. At the level of international government, Israel pretty much got a free ride at first, due in part to splits among Palestinians and between Arab states, and in part to US intransigence in blocking meaningful action in the UN Security Council. But while governments started out largely sitting on their hands, an unprecedented outpouring of mass anger and protest in country after country forced institutions like the news media and the international Red Cross and then governments to speak up in criticism of Israel. (Still, only Venezuela and Bolivia broke ties with Israel over the attack).
Three choice examples of the popular struggle, from Europe alone:
Norway, where over 85 pro-Palestinian protests and broader peace marches took place in 59 towns (in a country of 4.5 million!), saw the most intense rioting in recent memory in central Oslo as police tried to repress militant young protestors. (See the nifty interactive map–in English–from Frontlinjer magazine here.)
In the United Kingdom, even after the truce/ceasefire, students at sixteen (16, count ’em, 16) universities seized campus buildings around a series of anti-Israel and pro-Palestine demands. Most are still on. Students at the London School of Economics and Oxford report victories in negotiations with administrators.
In Greece, a January 9 news story from Reuters sent Greek activists and bloggers into research mode. They were able to identify a contracted shipment of GBU-39 bunker buster bombs scheduled to go from Sunny Point, NC through the port of Astakos en route to Israel. They started organizing for an embargo of US and Israeli shipping including outreach to dockworkers. By the 16th, one week later, the contract was cancelled!
4. In the United States, the astonishing power of the Israel lobby once again gave it unchallenged sway in the media and government. The Senate passed by unanimous voice vote and the House with a total of 5 courageous Nays (Dennis Kucinich, Gwen Moore, Maxine Waters, Nick Rahall and Ron Paul) a resolution hailing the aggression and blaming Hamas for all the Palestinian deaths. Candidate Obama last July signaled his stance, saying, “If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that. I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.” (No one in the media asked him about whether he had stolen his house at gunpoint and was keeping the former residents and their children in a concentration camp in his back yard.)
Considering the propaganda barrage and the “conventional wisdom” in the very air we breathe here, the fact that Americans generally (according to a Rasmussen poll) “are closely divided over whether the Jewish state should be taking military action against militants in the Gaza Strip” (44-41%, with 15% undecided) and that non-Republicans oppose it solidly is a remarkable development.