March 4, 2011 archive

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The Stars Hollow Gazette

No Change in Unemployment

For some strange reason, Dean Baker decided to paint a smiley-face on the news about unemployment, but there’s really LITTLE OR NO CHANGE in the same grim outlook for millions of Americans, and that isn’t just some amateur interpretation, it’s a phrase that the Bureau of Labor Statistics repeats over and over and over at…

“The number of unemployed persons (13.7 million) and the unemployment rate (8.9 percent) CHANGED LITTLE in February.”

“Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (8.7 percent), adult women (8.0 percent), teenagers (23.9 percent), whites (8.0 percent), blacks (15.3 percent), and Hispanics (11.6 percent) showed LITTLE OR NO CHANGE in February.”

“Both the civilian labor force participation rate, at 64.2 percent, and the employ-ment-population ratio, at 58.4 percent, were UNCHANGED in February.”

“The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was essentially UNCHANGED at 8.3 million in February.”

A very few numbers got a little worse, and a very few numbers got a little better, so Democrats and Republicans can spin the news up or down,  but it’s not much more than statistical noise or artefacts of the government’s Byzantine arithmetic for counting the unemployed, and the real news right from the source is CHANGED LITTLE, LITTLE OR NO CHANGE, UNCHANGED, and UNCHANGED.  


by Kathy Kelly

Recent polls suggest that while a majority of U.S. people disapprove of the war in Afghanistan, many on grounds of its horrible economic cost, only 3% took the war into account when voting in the 2010 midterm elections.  The issue of the economy weighed heavily on voters, but the war and its cost, though clear to them and clearly related to the economy in their thinking, was a far less pressing concern.  

U.S. people, if they do read or hear of it, may be shocked at the apparent unconcern of the crews of two U.S. helicopter gunships, which attacked and killed nine children on a mountainside in Afghanistan’s Kumar province, shooting them “one after another” this past Tuesday March 1st.  (“The helicopters hovered over us, scanned us and we saw a green flash from the helicopters. Then they flew back high up, and in a second round they hovered over us and started shooting.” (NYT 3/2/11)).

Four of the boys were seven years old; three were eight, one was nine and the oldest was twelve.  “The children were gathering wood under a tree in the mountains near a village in the district,” said Noorullah Noori, a member of the local development council in Manogai district. “I myself was involved in the burial,” Noori said. “Yesterday we buried them.” (AP, March 2, 2011)  General Petraeus has acknowledged, and apologized for, the tragedy.  

He has had many tragedies to apologize for, just counting Kunar province alone.  

No WWL Radio Tonight

Updated: We canceled the brain scan appt due to the weather, and Mike opted out of a reschedule. We agreed that if the lung cancer is killing him this fast, the brain cancer, if its in there? Redundant test and pointless 30k out of pocket. Sigh.

Of COURSE, every time we have had a Doctors appointment this past month, there has been weather; today is no exception. We had an freezing rain overnight and everything is glare ice.

By 6;30 am I was tied to the local news, amazed that there were no school closings. Nearly every major freeway around here had been closed due to accidents. They finally, about 15 minutes before Jake’s bus put his school on a 2 hour delay.

Last night was already tough. Our first truly frightening day. I didn’t expect it because he had a fairly good day. I think because his friend came over, and the oxygen tech, he didn’t get his day-sleep in and over exhausted himself. Or maybe it grew just enough to finally collapse that airway enough that even coughing can’t get air into the collapsed right lung. I dunno.

He struggled to breathe all evening. Gasping, breathing too fast… I had to keep talking him through trying to slow it down. I spent four hours watching his every breath. I finally got him to sleep and it normalized. Part of it I think is that he took his Ty 3 too late. The other is he panic attacked about it. But the obstructed airways sound worse by the day. Its like it went from not-good to “I didn’t expect this for months” in a few days. On oxygen no less. “In through your nose slow, babe, don’t try and make it too deep or you’ll cough… then out through your mouth like a straw.” A few times when it got too fast and I could see his chest and stomach almost convulse, I resorted to having him “sssss” it in through clenched teeth with a wide mouth barely parted, and blow out just to control the spasm. Almost like childbirth breathing. Neither one worked too well. He couldn’t lay down, or he started coughing uncontrollably, felt like he was choking/drowning. “I can’t get air!” is the most he could muster to speak the whole time.

So all he could do is sit up. He was hunched, weak, so I sat behind him and supported him against my body, holding his shoulders back trying to open the chest cavity more, so he wasn’t crunching it more by bending that far up. I kept being afraid he would just stop last night, or pass out. He has asked me for a DNR and no life support under any circumstances. So, am I supposed to just let him stop breathing already, or call an ambulance if it gets worse? I realized I will have to watch him die at some point, but last night shoved it home. Its horrifying to stand watch for hours doing nothing but watching someone breathe. I even watched for hours after he fell asleep.

He’s sleeping, and breathing ok now, ok being relative. It still sounds like a death rattle and is shallow and quick, but its even at least.

I am seriously worried about getting him in the car, let alone the drive.  I am loathe to wake him, afraid it will start another attack. But they want the brain scan. Not gonna make much difference if he can’t breathe though.

I have been dreaming that I cannot sleep and am trying to get to sleep in the dream itself, exhausted and unable to get rest. Don’t need Freud to figure out what that means. But last night, thankfully, I slept sound until the alarm. The first time in a week I got more than 4 fitful hours. Then I felt bad because I should have checked on him. Yeah, I know, I ain’t superwoman.

Gah. I’m off today, at least. Though I have no idea what I will do with myself w/o the show and him catching up his rest.  Linda has plans, so no yahtzee distraction. Maybe he will let me give him a sponge bath.

Maybe I’ll be able to write something of Political substance today. That would be nice. My brain gets too full if I can’t purge it on paper.  

Six In The Morning

‘Gaddafi’s men had heavier weapons but we had more to fight for’

Rebel forces have repelled attacks by troops.

By Kim Sengupta on the front line of a civil war, and Catrina Stewart in Brega  Friday, 4 March 2011

Rebels pursuing the retreating troops of Muammar Gaddafi have set up a new frontline in regime-held territory in preparation for an offensive which they claim will significantly change the course of the conflict.

After repulsing an attack on Brega, a strategic town and oil production centre, the revolutionary forces have moved on to Agheila, 40 miles further west towards Sirte, Colonel Gaddafi’s birthplace and a loyalist stronghold.

Although the outcome of what is now a civil war is far from certain, the failure of the regime to take Brega and push on to Benghazi, the capital of “Free Libya”, has provided a great boost to the morale of the dissident movement.


Yes – I was a Hillary supporter for the Presidential election.  Yes – I think she is smart and competent.  She would have made a better president domestically – foreign policy – questionable; perhaps the same as Obama and his advisors. She’s tied herself to this administration.  Still, because I like and admire her – I give her slack.  She is working in the world muck – we are sitting outside in the clearer air.  But, as I said she’s tied herself to Obama Brand policies.

No matter that (and please don’t make this a flame diary about Hillary) – she gets what’s going on as to the foreign tv presence in our midst.  Thank God say I – though I suppose most politicians and American pundits haven’t recognized yet that we are falling behind in newsgathering and televising points of view, and we are eating oil soaked dust.

I watch RT News every day for at least l/2 hour and often more – I go to Max Keiser’s televised spots at least twice a week on my computer.  More importantly, more and more people (not even mildly left) are watching.  I recently had a conversation at the train stop with a nice, nonpolitical woman who is avidly watching RT.  (I didn’t know this stuff, says she.)  I have given up on non-cable news channels.  I won’t go to NPR since they hired several military officers in the ramp up of the Iraqi invasion – no.  Not too much on the other side as I recall – the rational side.  Frontline does good work – and of course, I miss Mr. Moyers.  MSNBC is a distracting noise – giving us the false impression that one of media MOTU is listening to us.  Really, that was only an executive corporate decision “Let’s give them this so they’ll be quiet.”  (This is how cynical I’ve become.)

But Hillary understands more and more Americans and other Westeners are watching the foreign news channels.  RT is where a viewer could learn, for instance, that homeless people in New York have a lottery at shelters to see who gets in for the cold nights.  And right now an enlightening program is up on the Chicago Grain Exchange and world hunger. They have well put-together slices of Russian life as well – travelling all over Russia, focusing on the best of Russia’s culture and cottage industries – no doubt fostering travel.  I want to go to St. Petersburg next year (though because of Tolstoy, not RT.)   During the ramp up to the Iraqi War, BBC and the Canadian Public radio stations were a balm making that horror more bearable, and for that there is gratitude.  But BBC is not as sharp as it once was – sounds tired and trying to please the MOTU (only with a British accent which is always a plus).

So when Hillary says in a congressional hearing that we are falling behind and specifically mentions RT News, she is right.  She has watched it and said it was “instructive.”  In other words, she gets it.  It is instructive.  Now does the government want the populace here to get it – nope.  What she wants is a superduper American channel like these foreign outlets to get the American point of view out.  As long as we continue to send the marines and ships out to oil rich countries – well, let’s say it’s gonna be a hard sell.    

Question:  How do we hide invasions, torture, whistleblower hunting season, drones, the death of the middle class and the rise of a corporate and slave society?  Answer – we can’t hide all of it of course. And why would they put it out there for all to see? (See Julian Assange and Bradley Manning) Thank God there are still good, honest journalists here.  But those journalists won’t be on the news outlet she is proposing.  Nay – but it gives me a bit of pleasure.  At least Hillary gets it.

And here’s a thought:  Michael Moore, Matt Tabbai, Chris Hayes, Glenn Greenwald won’t be getting spots on that news outlet.  Ya think.


Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

Time for a break from poetry…in order to create some art.

I like him. I have a weakness for losers. Invalids, foreigners, the fat boy of the class, the ones nobody ever wants to dance with. My heart beats for them. Maybe because I’ve always known that in some way I will forever be one of them.

–Peter H√łeg

Shades of Blue

Late Night Karaoke

Go to Wisconsin, President Obama

Dear President Obama,

I’m glad you’ve opposed the attacks on Wisconsin’s public workers, but you need to do more. You need to go there and speak out, or at least speak out again and more strongly, because Americans need to understand what’s at stake, and those who are standing up there and elsewhere need to see you standing beside them. If you speak out powerfully enough, you might not only help stop Scott Walker’s raw power grab and the similar actions of Walker’s compatriots in other states. You might even help revive the long-demoralized spirits of those whose volunteer efforts carried you to the presidency.

You could talk, if you went, about the value to America of the teachers, nurses, firefighters, crisis counselors, and other public sector workers who are under attack, and of the hypocrisy of a governor whose corporate tax breaks launched this supposed fiscal crisis to begin with. You could make clear the stakes for all of us–that if Walker or other Republican governors can end the ability of public workers to join together for a common voice, ordinary citizens will end up with far less power to shape the course of our democracy, and predatory corporate interests will have even more.  You can talk in your in style. You can be calm and reflective. You don’t have to scream. But you have to show the American public and your discouraged supporters just how high the stakes are.  You have to do your best to draw the line.  

Sunrise: A Global Moment Unlike Any In Memory

All-American Decline in a New World: Wars, Vampires, Burned Children, and Indelicate Imbalances

by Tom Engelhardt

This is a global moment unlike any in memory, perhaps in history.  Yes, comparisons can be made to the wave of people power that swept Eastern Europe as the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989-91.  For those with longer memories, perhaps 1968 might come to mind, that abortive moment when, in the United States, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Brazil, and elsewhere, including Eastern Europe, masses of people mysteriously inspired by each other took to the streets of global cities to proclaim that change was on the way.

For those searching the history books, perhaps you’ve focused on the year 1848 when, in a time that also mixed economic gloom with novel means of disseminating the news, the winds of freedom seemed briefly to sweep across Europe.  And, of course, if enough regimes fall and the turmoil goes deep enough, there’s always 1776, the American Revolution, or 1789, the French one, to consider.  Both shook up the world for decades after.

But here’s the truth of it: you have to strain to fit this Middle Eastern moment into any previous paradigm, even as — from Wisconsin to China — it already threatens to break out of the Arab world and spread like a fever across the planet.  Never in memory have so many unjust or simply despicable rulers felt quite so nervous — or possibly quite so helpless (despite being armed to the teeth) — in the presence of unarmed humanity.  And there has to be joy and hope in that alone.

Even now, without understanding what it is we face, watching staggering numbers of people, many young and dissatisfied, take to the streets in Morocco, Mauritania, Djibouti, Oman, Algeria, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Yemen, and Libya, not to mention Bahrain, Tunisia, and Egypt, would be inspirational.  Watching them face security forces using batons, tear gas, rubber bullets, and in all too many cases, real bullets (in Libya, even helicopters and planes) and somehow grow stronger is little short of unbelievable.  Seeing Arabs demanding something we were convinced was the birthright and property of the West, of the United States in particular, has to send a shiver down anyone’s spine.