Mai Khalifa is just one of the royal family members who control all major roles in the Bahrain government. Apparently, this anti-democratic arrangement is just fine with the Obama administration. After all, they have now resumed arms shipments to the Bahrain monarchy at the very moment when Al Khalifa announced an even sharper crackdown on pro-democracy protestors.
The Obama administration had put a hold on arms sales while Bahrain investigated itself on human rights violations. That report included clear accounts of severe torture and brutality including the details of the torture of Human Rights Defender Al Khawaja last summer and fall. Now Obama is approving arms sales even as Al Khawaja is on his death bed as he continues his hunger strike for freedom.
While the torture and killing of Bahraini protestors continues, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was entertaining Crown Prince Al Khalifa. Some see the arms sale as a gesture of support for the Crown Prince who has consistently been promoted as a more reform minded royal even though, as Foreign Policy reports from an administration conference call briefing on the sale:
On the conference call, administration officials could not name one concession or deliverable the crown prince gave or promised in exchange for the goodies he is bringing home with him.
This … video is an episode of Julian Assange’s new program in which he interviews Nabeel Rajab & Alaa Abd. Right after the interview was taped, Rajab was arrested on his return to Bahrain for “insulting tweets” and he remains in jail today.
Want a flutter on Greece leaving the euro zone? It may already be too late. A surge in bets has forced Britain’s biggest bookmakers William Hill Plc and Ladbrokes Plc to suspend betting on the odds of Greece dropping out.
“It is safer for us to suspend betting than to keep cutting the odds,” a spokesman for Ladbrokes said. “We have been slashing the odds repeatedly over the last few days.”
Ladbrokes is still taking bets on the Greek stock market losing more than 25 percent of its value in a single day’s trading by the end of 2012.
And if you fear Greece is just the beginning of the end for the European single currency, Ladbrokes is offering odds on the euro ceasing to exist by the end of 2012, which would make punters 33 times their original stake.
Ladbrokes is offering odds of 5/6 that the euro will cease to exist by the end of 2015 and 4/1 on two or more states to leave the euro by the end of the year.
William Hill, however, has closed betting on the euro still being in existence by the end of 2015 – a possibility it sees as closely linked to what is happening in Greece – with the latest odds before suspension at 4/6 in favour and 11/10 against.
This incident is certain to reignite the debate about Dodd-Frank and may undermine the broad effort to roll back the bill, which we wrote about in the latest issue of the magazine. Staffers on the Hill started mobilizing the instant the Chase news hit the airwaves yesterday, and you can bet we’ll hear more debate in the next few months about not only the Volcker Rule but the Lincoln Rule, which was designed to wall off risky swaps from the federally-insured side of these banks. I’ve heard from all sides today, with some thinking the Chase trade was Dodd-Frank compliant, and others saying it probably violated both the Volcker and the Lincoln rules.
Either way, the incident underscored the basic problem. If J.P. Morgan Chase wants to act like a crazed cowboy hedge fund and make wild exacta bets on the derivatives market, they should be welcome to do so. But they shouldn’t get to do it with cheap cash from the Fed’s discount window, and they shouldn’t get to do it with money from the federally-insured bank accounts of teachers, firemen and other such real people. It’s a simple concept: you either get to be a bank, or you get to be a casino. But you can’t be both. If we don’t have rules to enforce that concept, we ought to get some.
After spending time combing through the financial reports of China’s biggest publicly traded, state- owned banks, I now understand what Jim Chanos, the famous short- seller, means when he keeps saying they are “built on quicksand.” He’s definitely on to something.
In a Bloomberg Television interview last week, Chanos said “the Chinese banks ought to be sending a thank-you note to Greece and Spain every month for keeping them out of the limelight.” It’s anyone’s guess how long they will stay this way.
On this day in 1937, George Denis Patrick Carlin was born in the Bronx. He was raised by his mother in Morningside Heights which he and his friends called “White Harlem” because it sounded tougher. He was raised Irish Catholic and educated in Catholic schools. He often ran away from home. After joining the Air Force while stationed in Louisiana, Carlin became a DJ in Shreveport starting on his long career in entertainment. Carlin rose to fame during the 60’s and 70’s, generating the most controversy with his famous “Seven Dirty Words”:
Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, Cocksucker, Motherfucker, and Tits. Those are the heavy seven. Those are the ones that’ll infect your soul, curve your spine and keep the country from winning the war.
His arrest and the subsequent FCC rulings ended up in the Supreme Court which upheld the right of the FCC to regulate the public airways. In the ruling it called the routine “indecent but not obscene”.
In 1961, Carlin was also present in the audience the night that Lenny Bruce was arrested in San Fransisco for obscenity. He was arrested, as well, after the police, who were questioning the audience, asked Carlin for ID. He said he didn’t have any because he didn’t believe in government-issued ID’s.
We all know the rest. His popularity as a comic and “commentarian” on politics, religion and social issues made him a popular guest on late night talk shows. His death in June 22, 2008 saddened many. He left behind his second wife, Sally Wade, whom he married after his first wife Brenda died of liver cancer in 1997. He left a daughter by his first marriage, Kelly.
I was going to take a break from this series and write about the 1969 TeeVee show Turn-On. It aired only one episode, and some stations cut the feed during the show, and some Mountain and Pacific Time Zone stations never aired it at all. If anyone knows where there are links to content, please let me know. I am one of the few people to have seen the entire first (and only) episode ever to be aired.
Last time we finished up about The Moody Blues third album, In Search of the Lost Chord. I really thought that this was a fine piece of music. Their next album, released on 19690425 on Deram Records, it charted at #1 in the UK and at #20 in the US. This record was really the one that locked their commercial (and artistic) success.
Whilst not as complex and the previous album (the five played only 12 instruments rather than the more than 30, although Hayward played both 6 and 12 string guitar, so the total really should be 13), it is very charming. Whilst not a single song stands out as extraordinary, as a whole it is a marvelous piece. Have you heard?
Scanning the news in transgender America lately, it has been impossible to avoid the story of punk artist Tom Gabel coming out…not that I know who Tom Gabel is.
Let’s face it, I’m an old fogey now. At 64 years of age, punk was never something on my radar.
Apparently Gabel is lead singer for a band called Against Me!. The punctuation is apparently part of the name (which makes the punctuation at the end of the previous sentence questionable).
The following is an acoustic version of the band’s song, The Ocean:
And if I could have chosen, I would have been born a woman
My mother once told me she would have named me Laura
I’d grow up to be strong and beautiful like her
Gabel has chosen to come out very publicly, in the next edition of Rolling Stone magazine, which came out today (May 11). Gabel plans to begin living as a woman and will eventually take the name Laura Jane Grace. She plans to begin hormone therapy and electrolysis soon.
She also plans to remain married to her wife, Heather. That would, of course, depend upon the state in which they live and whether they would try to intervene…and whether Heather still feels like that after going through transition with Laura.