January 28, 2009 archive

Four at Four

  1. The Washington Post reports the Long decline in union memberships reverses. The “first statistically significant increase” in union membership for American workers came last year. “In 2008, union members represented 12.4 percent of employed workers, up from 12.1 percent a year earlier, according to a report from Bureau of Labor Statistics issued this morning.” Union membership had been declining since the 1950s.

  2. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports the FBI saw mortgage fraud early, but Bush administration didn’t provide resources to pursue it. “The FBI was aware for years of “pervasive and growing” fraud in the mortgage industry that eventually contributed to America’s financial meltdown, but did not take definitive action to stop it.”

    “Retired FBI officials asserted that the Bush administration was thoroughly briefed on the mortgage fraud crisis and its potential to cascade out of control with devastating financial consequences, but made the decision not to give back to the FBI the agents it needed to address the problem. After the terrorist attacks of 2001, about 2,400 agents were reassigned to counterterrorism duties.”

  3. The Economists fear a U.S. deflation economy, reports the CS Monitor. “In a deflationary climate, the predisposition is to postpone economic activity, because things are expected to become even cheaper… The risk is if a deflationary psychology takes root. Consumers and business would defer decisions, which could deepen the recession and push prices down further… Deflation hits debtors especially hard. The burden of their debts is rising relative to a decline in the overall consumer price level.”

  4. Wall Street bonuses down only 44% for 2008, reports Reuters. “Bonuses fell to $18.4 billion from $32.9 billion in 2007… Losses from traditional broker-dealer operations of New York Stock Exchange member firms topped $35 billion in 2008.”

    “Meanwhile, Wall Street shed 19,200 jobs, or 10.2 percent, in New York City over the last 14 months, ending the year with 168,600 workers… The average Wall Street bonus fell 36.7 percent to $112,000 in 2008. The average decline was smaller than the drop in the overall bonus pool, … because the pool was shared among fewer workers as jobs were cut.”

  5. The Guardian reports Pier-munching gribble may provide breakthrough for biofuels. “A wood-boring crustacean that spends much of its time munching through the wooden supports that hold up piers could help provide the next breakthrough in green energy. The gribble uses enzymes in its gut to break down wood and scientists want to employ it to produce climate-friendly biofuels from natural products such as willow and straw.” Research has begun on the gribble project in the U.K.

Big business loots carbon trading scheme

Original article, by Fred McDowell, via Socialist Appeal (UK):

The European Union set up an Emissions Trading Scheme as a market solution to deal with pollution. Pollution is of course, overwhelmingly generated by big business (‘market’) activities. Now the scheme has turned around to bite them.

What We Need Are More Hippies

This diary grew out of a comment in The Dream Before the Awakening.  The comment was:

Do we really need more hippies?

You can shut out the world for the sake of achieving inner peace or whatever. It’s crazy to pretend, though, that if you get others to join you, the fundamental problems facing our future will go away.

I want to ask people to get engineering degrees, to become doctors, to learn the law, to learn about climate science – and to use this information to do good. Iin this world we need more Jane Goodalls and Barack Obamas, not George Harrisons.

Ask Holder, Did You Pre-Cave On Torture? Sen. Bond Says Yes

Is this true Mr. Holder? Did you just commit to not prosecuting War Crimes….or is Sen. Kit Bond(R) lying about you?

From the deeply un-credible Washington Times, H/t Raw Story…

Sen. Christopher “Kit” Bond, a Republican from Missouri and the vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in an interview with The Washington Times that he will support Eric H. Holder Jr.’s nomination for Attorney General because Mr. Holder assured him privately that Mr. Obama’s Justice Department will not prosecute former Bush officials involved in the interrogations program.

….

Sen. Bond also said that Mr. Holder told him in a private meeting Tuesday that he will not strip the telecommunications companies that cooperated with the National Security Agency after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks of retroactive legal immunity from civil lawsuits–removing another potential sticking point among GOP senators.

In the interview Wednesday, Mr. Bond said, “I made it clear that trying to prosecute political leaders would generate a political firestorm the Obama administration doesn’t need.”

He added, “I was concerned about previous statements he made and others had made. He gave me assurances that he would not take those steps that would cause major disruptions in our intelligence system or cause political warfare. We don’t need that kind of political warfare. He gave me assurances he is looking forward.”

Is this true Mr. Holder? Did you just sell the American Justice system down the river in a backroom deal? Or is Kit Bond a liar? You owe the American people an answer. You owe us the transparency President Obama has promised.

Did you cave to Republican demands? Or are you letting Kit Bond play you and besmirch your reputation as an honest man? We need a statement.

You have stated that waterboarding is torture. Torture is a crime. Your job is to prosecute crimes, not make backroom deals to ignore them. If you did NOT make this deal, you need to shoot Kit Bonds’ lies down publicly, IF you want the American people to trust you. And IF you want the American people to trust the Department of Justice, and the American Justice System again. I would like to believe you Mr. Holder, but this is ALL too plausible, given the politics involved. Please take a few minutes out of your day to reassure us.

If you want to ask Mr. Holder this question, you can e-mail him at eholder@cov.com. Please include a link to the WaTimes story, if you do mail him.

You can ask Sen. Bond if he is lying here.

UN’s Nowak, Evidence There to Charge Rumsfeld.

Via Raw Story:



UN official: Enough evidence to prosecute Rumsfeld for war crimes


David Edwards and Stephen C. Webster

Monday, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak told CNN’s Rick Sanchez that the US has an “obligation” to investigate whether Bush administration officials ordered torture, adding that he believes that there is already enough evidence to prosecute former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

“We have clear evidence,” he said. “In our report that we sent to the United Nations, we made it clear that former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld clearly authorized torture methods and he was told at that time by Alberto Mora, the legal council of the Navy, ‘Mr. Secretary, what you are actual ordering here amounts to torture.’ So, there we have the clear evidence that Mr. Rumsfeld knew what he was doing but, nevertheless, he ordered torture.”

And in either a delightful dig at Nancy ….or a delicious coincidence…


Asked during an interview with Germany’s ZDF television on Jan. 20, Nowak said: “I think the evidence is on the table.”

Seventy Years Ago Today …

..  the great Irish poet William Butler Yeats went down into the hollow hills to rest with his ancestors.

Can anyone read those last two ineffable lines from his most famous poem without getting a cold chill? I’ve never been able to. Hell, I’m reading them right this second and they’re totally freaking me out.

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

….

The darkness drops again; but now I know

That twenty centuries of stony sleep

Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,

Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Bush Denied Peltier’s Clemency

Photobucket

Blog Talk Radio: “Clemency for Political Prisoner Leonard Peltier”

“Press, public need to keep Obama open”



President Barack Obama is seen in a White House photo as he spends his first full day on the job in the Oval Office of the White House on Wednesday, Jan. 21.

Courtesy of Pete Souza/White House.
from Ari Melber at Politico this morning, January 28, 2009, 4:31 AM EST

After running a campaign with Bush-like discipline in press relations, President Barack Obama promised a “new standard of openness” on his first day in office. His administration is rolling out regulations to ensure a more transparent government. His aides have been addressing citizens online, bypassing reporters to reach the public directly. All this makes the Washington press corps, already struggling with low approval ratings and low profits, potentially less relevant.  

If Obama’s administration operates anything like his campaign, it will both sideline and compete with the media as a news source.

The transition team provided a great range of video, official documents, e-mail bulletins and other content for interested citizens. Then, last week, Obama’s aides clearly entered the White House with disintermediation on their minds. Scrapping the traditional wire photo shoot of the new president at his desk, Obama’s aides simply published their own.

Ditto for Round Two of the swearing-in, which was largely closed to the press. “The same day that the president is talking about transparency, we were not let in,” reporter Ed Henry declared on CNN.

Several news agencies, to their credit, refused to circulate those government photos. As one AP official explained, their duty is to document news about the administration – not regurgitate “visual press releases” produced by the administration.

It is great, of course, for the White House to release photos or documents or any other material. Obama’s openness is a welcome change from his predecessor, who went all the way to the Supreme Court to hide the RSVP list for a single policy meeting. And transparency is intrinsically good, since in a democracy, very little government activity is legitimately secret.

Transparency reform and government information, however, are no substitutes for journalistic access and original reporting.

In fact, the administration’s new openness might even function as little more than another unfiltered route to disseminate its view. If the information is offered to supplant independent reporting – as in the photo disputes – and only flows in one direction, then the government simply amplifies its already sizable megaphone. A louder government with less journalism does not enrich our democratic process.

Discretion is the better part of valor

We built yellow into our traffic lights because if they went right from red to green with no warning it would be too late to stop in time. Strangely, in matters of personal behavior, people seem to treat yellow lights like they do when they’re driving, they hit the gas.

This is a blog. We sit behind our keyboards and “converse” (you could say banter, or joust, or bitch) with other people who are similarly distant and anonymous. And lately it’s fascinating how much the anger back and forth has become so perverted; the people who claim they are the level-headed intellectuals have found some malicious form of enjoyment in carrying on disagreements to the point they seem to hope the other party has either smashed the computer, shot themselves through the temple, or blown up the building to take as many others with them as possible.

More evidence of unabomber anger below.

This is a long diary. Don’t read it if you’re in a hurry.

According to the Gospel of Jesus

BREAKING:

AP, UPI: 27, January, 2009

Vatican Moles Break Silence on Hidden Gospels by Jesus of Nazareth.

An international group of theologians have been copying and removing long hidden documents from the Vatican and other undisclosed locations that the Catholic Church had repressed.

The Vatican has broadly condemned their actions, and refute the documents validity.

These false documents are too dangerous to ever see the light of day.

“There would be widespread societal breakdown, chaos, riots should these criminals ever publish these documents. There is no evidence these are authentic documents, and to quote from them would be possibly end society as we know it.

We condemn them.

Our sources say, these are gospels written by Jesus of Nazareth himself, who not only studied under the rabbis of his day, but traveled extensively during his “missing” years, and continued to do so into his 90’s.

They contend Jesus was a scholar, and left writings quite contrary to the Biblical Texts we have come to accept, in fact in most cases, contradict them entirely.

More importantly, they claim the largest volume of these writings, in ancient Aramaic, were written when Jesus himself was quite elderly, exposing that he continued to live and travel after 30 AD. His “Symbolic Death and Resurrection,” he claimed, was necessary to leave Israel and continue teaching elsewhere. Jesus’ claim that His Resurrection was symbolic has shaken the very foundation of Christianity.

His response to where his “Christian” followers were heading was not kind.

The volumes have been under study for years by this group of theologians, and the Vatican has threatened excommunication of anyone who reads the texts they have decided to publish. They have condemned these Gospels, and fear reprisals from people who may believe in them, and will be angered that they have been intentionally suppressed.

These are the words they consider most damning:

Let no man speak for God.

Let no man raise himself to a position to speak for God, nor intercede on your behalf.

Following priests, rabbis or holy men is as repulsive to God as idol worship.

Further reading exposes Jesus’ love of studying under other scholars, but only as a tool to find ones own truth, including accepting atheism as valid.

The controversy surrounding the publication of these Scriptures has Global implications.

The bottom line of a free market

There are many things to talk about, but, the economy has got to be at the front of any discussion.  The reason for this is clear; those in power who have money want even more money no matter how they get it.  That is the bottom line of the free market; make money.

It shouldn’t surprise people then, how they manage to make that bottom line…

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

Loose Thread

Clarity

Peace

without Justice

is just another name

for War

War

is only defeated

when its offspring

are not born

The spread of Justice

is the nutrient

for Peace

and the abortifacient

for War

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–July 25, 2008

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