October 2008 Archives
"n.: - A government of the masses. - Authority derived through mass meeting or any other form of direct expression. - Results in mobocracy.- Attitude toward property is communistic... negating property rights.- Attitude toward law is that the will of the majority shall regulate, whether it is based upon deliberation or overned by passion, prejudice, and impulse, without restraint or regard to consequences. Result is demagogism, license, agitation, discontent, [chaos]."
-- U. S. Army Training Manual No. 2000-25 (1928-1932) - Source: published by the US War Department, Washington, D.C., November 30, 1928
The Most Important Presidential Election Ever. Really.
by BAR Managing Editor Bruce Dixon
First check out this exclusive 60 Minutes interview with brother Billy of SleptOn.com.
Every four years we hear that the current presidential election is undoubtedly the most important one in our lifetimes, perhaps the most significant in all the long history of the republic. We heard it (and some of us said it) four years ago and will say it four years from now. And two years hence we will entertain each other with that famous blast from the past about how the current midterm elections are the most key and crucial midterm contests ever. Bet on it. Everybody says it, every two and four years, so it must be at least a little but true, right?
The idea of the vote is a potent and powerful idea, one that has seized hold of human political imaginations worldwide. All over this planet, ordinary people will work and organize and suffer and fight and die for the right to vote. At the dawn of the 21st century it's rare to find anybody, anyplace on earth who would suggest that people should not have the right to vote in elections that freely choose their rulers. Even the most despotic and least democratic ruling elites are forced to conduct sham elections to bolster their own legitimacy. Thus battle for the idea of the vote has been one.
The struggles now are over whether ordinary people will be able to exercise their right to vote, and whether their choices in elections will have any meaning. These battles are far from won. The Indian killers, the northern slave traders and the southern slave masters who wrote the US Constitution restricted the vote to white males with property, and didn't trust even this group. Originally they elected state legislators and those legislators elected senators and presidents. Ordinary people pushed back, and in the two centuries since women, the descendants of slaves and remaining Native Americans and others are now permitted to vote.
For their part, our American elites have fight back on multiple fronts, first to restrict who can vote, and to limit which candidates under what circumstances can run for office and whether their messages are allowed to reach the public. The wave of spurious voter purges, new restrictions on voter registration drives, ballot access laws that bar any candidates apart from Republicans and Democrats, and a privately owned public media system that only allows candidates with loads of money to get their messages out all operate to limit, frustrate and make our votes irrelevant.
For a long time too, our American elites have worked to take more and more matters that affect our daily lives outside the realm where elections and the vote can affect them all. Although the airwaves, along with the cable, internet and phone rights of way are owned by the public in the US, all these are in private hands. You can't vote your phone or cable bill down, and you can't vote to extend free internet access to schools and colleges in your town or city. The federal government charges broadcast TV station licensees in big markets like New York and Los Angeles nothing for their licenses worth billions of dollars, enforces no meaningful public services obligations upon them, and without public knowledge or approval has granted them $80 billion worth of new digital TV channels. Port and airport authorities and other unelected public bodies are brought into existence to levy taxes and spend public money with little accountability, and in the last two decades hundreds of government functions, from child support enforcement to fleet management to conduct of the elections, prisons and the military itself have been placed in the hands of unaccountable private corporations --- privatized.
So the terrain of the struggle for real democracy has indeed shifted. It goes far beyond the vote. But still, the vote matters.
Like the last several US presidential elections, this is one in which the idea of the vote, the idea that people do still have the right to determine our collective destiny, is more important than the choices we actually have. Four years ago more than sixty percent of the American people favored a speedy withdrawal from the war in Iraq, a national health care system and more funding for public education. Thanks to ballot access and campaign finance laws, and a privately owned media system that restricts the messages which reach voters, Americans were forced to choose between a pro-war Republican and a pro-war Democrat, both of whom favored letting private insurance companies run our health care system, and both of whom supported the cynically misnamed "No Child Left Behind" legislation facilitating the de-funding and privatization of public education.
Thanks to a privately owned media system that prevents campaign messages dissenting from the corporate status quo from reaching more than a tiny fraction of voters, neither Nader nor McKinney will be contenders. All the available polling indicates that Obama will win the election, even though McKinney and Nader are far closer to the actual opinions of voters on issues ranging from health care to foreign policy and education, and economic policy. The election, if it isn't stolen, will do what elections do, and confer legitimacy upon the administration in power.
...and the American mindset definitely needs to be changed. The conservative propaganda which has had Americans voting against their own best interests for at least 30 years may finally be about to be end. This is not only a good thing, its a great and necessary thing if the country is to survive at all.
How Universal Care Changes Everything:
The Canadian Example
By Sara Robinson
I've seen this happen, at very close range. Over the course of nearly five years living in Canada, I've been continually impressed by the durable, far-reaching role universal health care plays in expressing and reinforcing the entire country's political philosophy. It's probably not overstating things to say that the health care system is at the very core of the Canadian sense of national identity, right up there with the Mounties and the Hudson's Bay Company and well above the Queen. Every time my neighbors go to the doctor, the experience reaffirms a set of cultural assumptions that, over time, have made and kept the country unwaveringly progressive.
A civilized country does not turn any of its citizens away from the table. And that idea, once set, opens up a broader sense of what we owe each other.
First, they're reminded that taking care of each other is a core Canadian value--a cherished piece of who they are. In the Harper era, the conservatives up here have tried hard to sell American-style rugged individualism and the belief that "you're on your own" (or should be), beholden to no one, needing no one. Most Canadians reject this as a peculiar form of insanity: Their interdependence is so patently obvious to them that it's like denying the existence of gravity. They're so proud of their health care system--and what it says about them as a nation--that, when asked to name the greatest Canadian in history a few years ago, they chose Tommy Douglas, the provincial premier (governor) from Saskatchewan who was the father of the first single-payer plan.
Second, they're reminded that their government does useful and important things that add immensely to their quality of life, and thus deserves their ongoing support. And their high hopes also lead to high expectations. They not only expect a lot from their health care system; they also expect that their police will be respectful and law-abiding, their city parks will be well-tended; and their public buildings will be beautiful. If it takes money to make that happen, they'll spend it--but those who've been trusted with it had better be damned careful. Where Americans believe in "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," the Canadian Constitution calls for "peace, order, and good government." And that set of aspirations is reinforced every time they walk into a doctor's office and get the treatment they need.
Third, they're reminded that certain rights are inalienable, and certain levels of inequality are intolerable--and that every Canadian has an intrinsic and equal entitlement to shelter, food, education, and health care. In the conservative era, America's hypercompetitive society has been very quick to throw away people who haven't made the cut in some way--people without money, connections, or education; people with disabilities that make them economically less viable; people who come from the wrong racial or religious group or the wrong part of the country. You only deserve what you, personally, are capable of earning. If you're badly equipped to do that, it's your own damned fault. If you can't afford health care, you deserve to die. In no case is it the taxpayers' job to step in and make it right.
That attitude is completely foreign up here. It's notoriously hard for immigrants to find good jobs here, but even immigrants get health care. There's a heroin problem in downtown Vancouver, but even junkies get health care. You don't lose your insurance just because you got sick, or got disabled, or had to quit your job; even the unemployed get health care.
As Krugman points out below, the world wide financial situation continues to founder and worsen day by day. Part of the blame for this in the US at least is the inability of the people who should be in control being themselves controlled by their dread of abandoning their cherished myths about the market being able to regulate itself. Just as Greenspan declared his (hard to believe) "shock" that his faith in such self-regulation was wrong for all these years, people like Paulson just can't bring themselves to do what is necessary. Hedges was right, these people are eff-ing idiots and should be removed before the whole thing goes to hell and remedies get permanently out of reach.
The Widening Gyre
by Paul Krugman
Economic data rarely inspire poetic thoughts. But as I was contemplating the latest set of numbers, I realized that I had William Butler Yeats running through my head: "Turning and turning in the widening gyre / The falcon cannot hear the falconer; / Things fall apart; the center cannot hold."
The widening gyre, in this case, would be the feedback loops (so much for poetry) causing the financial crisis to spin ever further out of control. The hapless falconer would, I guess, be Henry Paulson, the Treasury secretary.
And the gyre continues to widen in new and scary ways. Even as Mr. Paulson and his counterparts in other countries moved to rescue the banks, fresh disasters mounted on other fronts.
Some of these disasters were more or less anticipated. Economists have wondered for some time why hedge funds weren't suffering more amid the financial carnage. They need wonder no longer: investors are pulling their money out of these funds, forcing fund managers to raise cash with fire sales of stocks and other assets.
The really shocking thing, however, is the way the crisis is spreading to emerging markets -- countries like Russia, Korea and Brazil.
Bill Moyers' Journal has 3 excellent segments this week, all of which I highly suggest taking in. The last one is about a group of people led by Mark Johnson who have made a film about using music to bring caring people worldwide together to create a better world. Please watch the Moyers segment called Playing For Change and see if it brings some hopeful tears.
from Mark Johnson:
A movement uniting people all over the world through music and inspiration. It all began about seven years ago as my producing partner, Whitney Kroenke Burditt, and I assembled a group of like-minded people with cameras and a mobile recording studio. We embarked on a journey across the globe in search of music and human connections.
We started the journey with the idea that with an open mind and positive intentions we can find ways of uniting people as the human race. Music has always been the universal language and we followed its path from city streets to Native Indian reservations, African villages and the Himalayan Mountains. I could never have imagined that we would discover a world with so much love, hope and inspiration. In a world with so much focus on our differences I am proud to have discovered that people everywhere believe in creating a better world together.
Throughout our travels we created songs around the world such as "Stand By Me" and "One Love." These songs and videos offer musicians who have never met in person the ability to collaborate and unite through the power of music. We also interviewed all of the musicians and learned stories of how music has helped to persevere through struggles all over the world. These collections of songs and interviews serve as a reminder of the power of the human spirit as well as a means of further illustrating our global collective conscience. We live in a world with way too many starving children and way too many warring nations. As a human race we come together for birth, and we come together for death, what brings us together in between is up to us. Stop and listen to the universal language of music and bring that positive energy with you everywhere we go.
The vision of PLAYING FOR CHANGE extends far beyond just music and film. We have established the Playing For Change Foundation to build music and art schools for kids around the world. We have recently returned from Gugulethu, South Africa where we constructed the first Playing For Change Music School. We plan to build many more schools, each equipped with cameras and a recording studio so supporters all over the world can watch recitals and performances in the schools we are building together. We can use these schools as sources of inspiration and a means of breaking down negative stereotypes among people everywhere. In the words of one of the artists featured in PLAYING FOR CHANGE, Vusi Mahlasela, "The world is immigrating into a global village, the question is how much do you want to belong." Learn more about PLAYING FOR CHANGE, and together we can accomplish much more than we ever can apart.
and saw the face of his god.
Diet Special takes on a whole new dimension.
Its the only way. Ok, maybe we could just re-institute a heavy tax of say 99% on the upper 1% to even things out and a super strong levee on inheritances...but I wanna see some rich fat fucks "bleed" in some manner for the damage they have caused us. They are parasites. Just check the assumptions they operate by in the article below.
So When Will Banks Give Loans?
By Joe Nocera
"Chase recently received $25 billion in federal funding. What effect will that have on the business side and will it change our strategic lending policy?"
It was Oct. 17, just four days after JPMorgan Chase's chief executive, Jamie Dimon, agreed to take a $25 billion capital injection courtesy of the United States government, when a JPMorgan employee asked that question. It came toward the end of an employee-only conference call that had been largely devoted to meshing certain divisions of JPMorgan with its new acquisition, Washington Mutual.
Which, of course, it also got thanks to the federal government. Christmas came early at JPMorgan Chase.
The JPMorgan executive who was moderating the employee conference call didn't hesitate to answer a question that was pretty politically sensitive given the events of the previous few weeks.
Given the way, that is, that Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. had decided to use the first installment of the $700 billion bailout money to recapitalize banks instead of buying up their toxic securities, which he had then sold to Congress and the American people as the best and fastest way to get the banks to start making loans again, and help prevent this recession from getting much, much worse.
In point of fact, the dirty little secret of the banking industry is that it has no intention of using the money to make new loans. But this executive was the first insider who's been indiscreet enough to say it within earshot of a journalist.
(He didn't mean to, of course, but I obtained the call-in number and listened to a recording.)
"Twenty-five billion dollars is obviously going to help the folks who are struggling more than Chase," he began. "What we do think it will help us do is perhaps be a little bit more active on the acquisition side or opportunistic side for some banks who are still struggling. And I would not assume that we are done on the acquisition side just because of the Washington Mutual and Bear Stearns mergers. I think there are going to be some great opportunities for us to grow in this environment, and I think we have an opportunity to use that $25 billion in that way and obviously depending on whether recession turns into depression or what happens in the future, you know, we have that as a backstop."
Read that answer as many times as you want -- you are not going to find a single word in there about making loans to help the American economy. On the contrary: at another point in the conference call, the same executive (who I'm not naming because he didn't know I would be listening in) explained that "loan dollars are down significantly." He added, "We would think that loan volume will continue to go down as we continue to tighten credit to fully reflect the high cost of pricing on the loan side." In other words JPMorgan has no intention of turning on the lending spigot.
A telling trait of the weakness of the GOP is its constant battle to disenfranchise voters...if you can't win on your policies, then beat 'em anyway you can.
The Truth About ACORN
by Cynthia Gordy
For the past year and a half, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now-the national community organizing group better known as ACORN-coordinated a massive voter registration campaign. The group enrolled 1.3 million mostly young, mostly poor voters around the country. But when some voter registration cards were reportedly found to be signed by Mickey Mouse and members of the Dallas Cowboys, among other suspicious names, John McCain and other Republicans accused ACORN of padding the rolls with thousands of phony voters. ACORN is now reportedly under investigation for "voter fraud" in at least 12 states, including the battleground state of Ohio and Nevada, where the organization's Las Vegas office was raided by state authorities earlier this month. ESSENCE.com asked Bertha Lewis, national chief organizer for ACORN, about these charges and why the organization says the accusations are unfounded and overblown.
ESSENCE.COM: ACORN's voter registration campaign turned in applications signed by phony names or multiple applications for the same person. How did this happen?
BERTHA LEWIS: I think it's important for people to know exactly what is happening. We do massive voter registration to low- and moderate-income folks. The Right Wing and Republicans, specifically, have been coming for us since the 2000 and 2004 elections. Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales sent U.S. attorneys after us to investigate and try to find a prosecutable action. In 2006, the reason he stepped down is that he fired eight attorneys because they kept coming back to him saying, "There's no evidence; ACORN is clean." They constantly tried to come after us and attack us, and not once anywhere has it been proven that we systematically engage in this activity.[Editor's Note: Gonzales resigned as attorney general in 2007 amid controversy over his handling of the firings of several U.S. attorneys, which members of Congress alleged were politically motivated. He also faced allegations that he had lied to Congress under oath.]
ESSENCE.COM: Okay, but how do you explain these latest charges?
LEWIS: All we have are unfounded allegations and exaggerations. We find it peculiar that two weeks before the election, all of a sudden they find a few thousand suspicious cards. This was an 18-month effort by 13,000 workers. So naturally, less than 1 percent of our cards may be suspicious. But all of this so-called evidence they have against us-we're the ones that said, "Look at these cards and investigate." We flagged any suspicious cards because when you do voter registration you have to turn in every card, even if it has Mickey Mouse on it. We have to turn it in. We're the ones that fired workers for turning in suspicious cards. We believe this is really about the Republicans' attempt, once again, to suppress the vote. We believe the reason behind it is because we've registered 100 percent low- and moderate-income people. Seventy percent of those folks are Black and Brown and half of them are under the age of 30. So at the very least, you will have over a million new Black and Brown lower- and moderate-income young voters coming out to the polls. They historically have been disenfranchised, and now you have this enormous turnout, and most of them arguably are Democratic.
ESSENCE.COM: How did the fraudulent registration cards come about? Are you saying they were all accidental?
LEWIS: For those who are actually serving time right now, they have said on television and in the press, "Hey, I wanted to get paid. Why should I stand in the hot sun, why should I stand in the freezing cold, why should I walk block after block? I can just sit down, make up these names, and get paid." They've confessed to this. So if anyone has been defrauded, it's ACORN. We had 13,000 workers for over 18 months. We know a couple bad apples may defraud us. We were paying them by the hour; they came back with suspicious cards just to get a paycheck. If we think they're doing this, we fire them immediately and turn in their personnel records to law enforcement. Every ACORN worker over the past eight years who's been convicted-guess who turned them in? ACORN did.
of where we are at regarding the oligarchic ineptness at running the country can be found below. If you've had the uneasy feeling that that the place is being run by morons, you are correct, Alex. Wealthy idiots abound and the only way out of the morass they have created for us is to revolt against everything these sociopaths represent and to dismiss them from the public discourse.
The Idiots Who Rule America
by Chris Hedges
Our oligarchic class is incompetent at governing, managing the economy, coping with natural disasters, educating our young, handling foreign affairs, providing basic services like health care and safeguarding individual rights. That it is still in power, and will remain in power after this election, is a testament to our inability to separate illusion from reality. We still believe in "the experts." They still believe in themselves. They are clustered like flies swarming around John McCain and Barack Obama. It is only when these elites are exposed as incompetent parasites and dethroned that we will have any hope of restoring social, economic and political order.
"Their inability to see the human as anything more than interest driven made it impossible for them to imagine an actively organized pool of disinterest called the public good," said the Canadian philosopher John Ralston Saul, whose books "The Unconscious Civilization" and "Voltaire's Bastards" excoriates our oligarchic elites. "It is as if the Industrial Revolution had caused a severe mental trauma, one that still reaches out and extinguishes the memory of certain people. For them, modern history begins from a big explosion--the Industrial Revolution. This is a standard ideological approach: a star crosses the sky, a meteor explodes, and history begins anew."
Our elites--the ones in Congress, the ones on Wall Street and the ones being produced at prestigious universities and business schools--do not have the capacity to fix our financial mess. Indeed, they will make it worse. They have no concept, thanks to the educations they have received, of the common good. They are stunted, timid and uncreative bureaucrats who are trained to carry out systems management. They see only piecemeal solutions which will satisfy the corporate structure. They are about numbers, profits and personal advancement. They are as able to deny gravely ill people medical coverage to increase company profits as they are able to use taxpayer dollars to peddle costly weapons systems to blood-soaked dictatorships. The human consequences never figure into their balance sheets. The democratic system, they think, is a secondary product of the free market. And they slavishly serve the market.
Andrew Lahde, the Santa Monica, Calif., hedge fund manager who made an 870 percent gain last year by betting on the subprime mortgage collapse, has abruptly shut down his fund, citing the risk of trading with faltering banks. In his farewell letter to his investors he excoriated the elites who run our investment houses, banks and government.
"The low-hanging fruit, i.e. idiots whose parents paid for prep school, Yale, and then the Harvard MBA, was there for the taking," he said of our oligarchic class. "These people who were (often) truly not worthy of the education they received (or supposedly received) rose to the top of companies such as AIG, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers and all levels of our government. All of this behavior supporting the Aristocracy only ended up making it easier for me to find people stupid enough to take the other side of my trades. God bless America."
For the greedy elite, a Democratic super majority ("filibuster proof" control of both houses and the presidency) is a nightmare indeed. For the rest of us it represents a chance to regain some semblance of a sane future for the country and a return to the concept of "for the people". But don't suppose that the present oligarchy that is running the show will entirely disappear or not put up a serious fight. I am seriously fearful right now that plans are being put in place to assassinate Obama before sometime during his first term or even before the election. And you know that I'm not nuts to say something like that...moreover it indicates just how deeply screwed up this country is.
As you check the list of fears below, consider that each item seen as anti-business or anti-oligarchic control would be a benefit to the majority of the rest of us.
A Liberal Supermajority
Get ready for 'change' we haven't seen since 1965, or 1933.
If the current polls hold, Barack Obama will win the White House on November 4 and Democrats will consolidate their Congressional majorities, probably with a filibuster-proof Senate or very close to it. Without the ability to filibuster, the Senate would become like the House, able to pass whatever the majority wants.
Though we doubt most Americans realize it, this would be one of the most profound political and ideological shifts in U.S. history. Liberals would dominate the entire government in a way they haven't since 1965, or 1933. In other words, the election would mark the restoration of the activist government that fell out of public favor in the 1970s. If the U.S. really is entering a period of unchecked left-wing ascendancy, Americans at least ought to understand what they will be getting, especially with the media cheering it all on.
The nearby table shows the major bills that passed the House this year or last before being stopped by the Senate minority. Keep in mind that the most important power of the filibuster is to shape legislation, not merely to block it. The threat of 41 committed Senators can cause the House to modify its desires even before legislation comes to a vote. Without that restraining power, all of the following have very good chances of becoming law in 2009 or 2010.
- Medicare for all. When HillaryCare cratered in 1994, the Democrats concluded they had overreached, so they carved up the old agenda into smaller incremental steps, such as Schip for children. A strongly Democratic Congress is now likely to lay the final flagstones on the path to government-run health insurance from cradle to grave.
Mr. Obama wants to build a public insurance program, modeled after Medicare and open to everyone of any income. According to the Lewin Group, the gold standard of health policy analysis, the Obama plan would shift between 32 million and 52 million from private coverage to the huge new entitlement. Like Medicare or the Canadian system, this would never be repealed.
The commitments would start slow, so as not to cause immediate alarm. But as U.S. health-care spending flowed into the default government options, taxes would have to rise or services would be rationed, or both. Single payer is the inevitable next step, as Mr. Obama has already said is his ultimate ideal.
- The business climate. "We have some harsh decisions to make," Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned recently, speaking about retribution for the financial panic. Look for a replay of the Pecora hearings of the 1930s, with Henry Waxman, John Conyers and Ed Markey sponsoring ritual hangings to further their agenda to control more of the private economy. The financial industry will get an overhaul in any case, but telecom, biotech and drug makers, among many others, can expect to be investigated and face new, more onerous rules. See the "Issues and Legislation" tab on Mr. Waxman's Web site for a not-so-brief target list.
The danger is that Democrats could cause the economic downturn to last longer than it otherwise will by enacting regulatory overkill like Sarbanes-Oxley. Something more punitive is likely as well, for instance a windfall profits tax on oil, and maybe other industries.
- Union supremacy. One program certain to be given right of way is "card check." Unions have been in decline for decades, now claiming only 7.4% of the private-sector work force, so Big Labor wants to trash the secret-ballot elections that have been in place since the 1930s. The "Employee Free Choice Act" would convert workplaces into union shops merely by gathering signatures from a majority of employees, which means organizers could strongarm those who opposed such a petition.
Its hard to believe that 25 years after science proved how wrong-headed the fear and stigmatizing of HIV is that people are still capable of kneejerk reactions like that described below.
Midwest high school copes with HIV scare
NORMANDY, Missouri (AP) -- Students at a suburban St. Louis high school headed to the gymnasium for HIV testing this week after an infected person told health officials as many as 50 teenagers might have been exposed to the virus that causes AIDS.
Officials refused to give details on who the person was or how the students at Normandy High School might have been exposed, but the district is consulting with national AIDS organizations as it tries to minimize the fallout and prevent the infection -- and misinformation -- from spreading.
"There's potential for stigma for all students regardless of whether they're positive or negative," Normandy School District spokesman Doug Hochstedler said Thursday. "The board wants to be sure all children are fully educated."
A teacher in a neighboring district singled out a girl who dates someone at Normandy High and instructed her to get tested, Hochstedler said. A competing school's football team initially balked at playing Normandy's 8-0 team.
Jasmine Lane, a 16-year-old sophomore, said her boyfriend from a neighboring high school broke up with her on learning of the news -- after she bought them tickets to homecoming.
"I cried so hard," she said.
Hochstedler said that as far as he knows, no other district has had to handle a similar situation. Students at the school of 1,300 are being tested, and the district is getting advice on the best ways to support kids in crisis.
I went down to today and did my early vote on paper ballot #337. I didn't encounter any problems except for the hour long wait in line due to the massive turnout. Everyone around me was as surprised as I was that the line and wait was so long. If this is any indication of the general turnout, its going to be massive. The most common reason I heard among those within earshot for voting early was to avoid having their votes manipulated on the general election day castings.
Q: Know what you got if you get 32 Polk County residents in a room?
A: A full set of teeth.
Here in the Christian God's slow Polk county, the Sheriff's department is busting people for answering Craiglist ads for sex set up by the Sheriff's dept in the first place.
Entrapment anyone? And this waste of resources is helping who exactly? Are you telling me that there isn't enough street prostitution to keep the Sheriff and his deputies busy that they have to go online to bait adults wanting to have consensual sex?
Good grief, this place is morally screwed up. It must be the church density.
13 Men Nabbed In Online Sex Sting
One teacher included in those who answered phony Craigslist ad.
By Eric Pera THE LEDGER
WINTER HAVEN | They went looking for sex on the popular Web site Craigslist.org and wound up in the Polk County jail, charged with soliciting prostitution, according to the Sheriff's Office.
Thirteen men in all, including nine from Polk County and a Hillsborough middle school teacher, were nabbed over the past few days in a reverse prostitution sting conducted by the Polk Sheriff's Office.
The men were arrested between Thursday and Saturday after answering a phony classified advertisement placed by detectives at the free, online marketplace. The ad directed the men to a Winter Haven address where detectives working undercover posed as prostitutes, officials said.
Sheriff's officials did not release details of how the sting was conducted or how the ad was worded.
However, Sheriff Grady Judd said Sunday that his office will continue to pursue criminals through the Internet and other means to safeguard Polk's quality of life.
It wasn't the first time his detectives have used Craigslist for undercover stings and it won't be the last, he said.
"Prostitutes are known to be habitually infected with HIV and hepatitis," Judd said. "A percentage of these people (who were arrested over the weekend) were married. Had it been a real prostitute, what are the chances they could have taken a communicable disease back to the family?"
Judd said detectives also are looking into what, if any, civil criminal charges might be brought against Craigslist for posting sex-for-hire content.
"There's all kinds of nasty stuff on there," he said.
Among those arrested in the sting was Richard Paul Kemper, 50, of Lithia, a teacher at Randall Middle School in Hillsborough County, who offered an undercover detective $150 in exchange for sex, the Sheriff's Office said.
All of the men were charged with soliciting another to commit lewdness and prostitution, a misdemeanor. Several also were charged with misdemeanor battery for having touched or kissed undercover detectives, sheriff's officials said.
(AP) Mich. | Police say a Michigan man has been arrested after "receiving sexual favors from a vacuum" at a car wash.
The Saginaw News reports the 29-year-old Swan Creek Township man was arrested Thursday in Saginaw County's Thomas Township, about 90 miles northwest of Detroit.
Police Sgt. Gary Breidinger says a resident called to report suspicious activity at the car wash about 6:45 a.m. An officer approached on foot and caught the man in the act.
The suspect, whose name wasn't immediately released, is being held in the Saginaw County Jail.
Arrogant prick and Lehman Brothers C.E.O., Richard Fuld got knocked out cold at a gym after testifying at a congressional hearing on excessive CEO earnings by a disgruntled person who had watched the announcement that the firm was going bust. Just deserts I'd say.
Mr Fuld, who has been testifying on the financial crisis before the US House Oversight Committee, was attacked on a Sunday shortly after it was announced that the banking giant was bankrupt.
Following rumours that the incident had occurred, Vicki Ward, a US journalist, said "two very senior sources - one incredibly senior source" had confirmed it to her. "He went to the gym after ... Lehman was announced as going under," she told CNBC. "He was on a treadmill with a heart monitor on. Someone was in the corner, pumping iron and he walked over and he knocked him out cold.
"And frankly after having watched [Mr Fuld's testimony to the committee], I'd have done the same too."
"I thought he was shameless ... I thought it was appalling. He blamed everyone ... He blamed everybody but himself."
Lehman Brothers, which was particularly badly hit by "toxic" mortgage debt, filed for bankruptcy last month. Its assets were later bought up by Barclays.
In a robust performance in front of the committee, Mr Fuld said that he would wonder "until they put me in the ground" why the US government had not rescued the 158-year-old firm. He said that regulators were fully aware of its plight well before its collapse.
Mr Fuld said: "I want to be very clear. I take full responsibility for the decisions that I made and for the actions that I took based on the information that we had at the time."
However he faced angry questioning from the committee's members. Henry Waxman, a Democrat, asked: "Your company is now bankrupt, our economy is in crisis, but you get to keep $480 million (£276 million). I have a very basic question for you, is this fair?"
Mr Fuld said that he had in fact taken about $300 million (£173 million) in pay and bonuses over the past eight years.
Any port in a storm.
As John McCain and GOP operatives rattle their sabers about ACORN's alleged "voter fraud" tactics, tag-team investigators Greg Palast and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. have released some truly scary findings, in the latest Rolling Stone, from their investigation into Republican efforts to steal the 2008 presidential election.
However, the news isn't all bad: Palast and Kennedy have put together a nonpartisan site, StealBackYourVote.org, to help counter voter fraud.
- Republican Secretaries of State of swing-state Colorado have quietly purged one in six names from their voter rolls.
Over several months, the GOP politicos in Colorado stonewalled every attempt by Rolling Stone to get an answer to the massive purge--ten times the average state's rate of removal.
- While Obama dreams of riding to the White House on a wave of new voters, more then 2.7 million have had their registrations REJECTED under new procedures signed into law by George Bush. Kennedy, a voting rights lawyer, charges this is a resurgence of 'Jim Crow' tactics to wrongly block Black and Hispanic voters.
- A fired US prosecutor levels new charges--accusing leaders of his own party, Republicans, with criminal acts in an attempt to block legal voters as "fraudulent."
Also see : Supremes back Ohio gov't in voter dispute
As a species dogs appear to be mere pups. What were dogs before they were dogs? Got to look that up.
Discovery could push back the date for the earliest dog by 17,700 years
By Jennifer Viegas
An international team of scientists has just identified what they believe is the world's first known dog, which was a large and toothy canine that lived 31,700 years ago and subsisted on a diet of horse, musk ox and reindeer, according to a new study.
The discovery could push back the date for the earliest dog by 17,700 years, since the second oldest known dog, found in Russia, dates to 14,000 years ago.
Remains for the older prehistoric dog, which were excavated at Goyet Cave in Belgium, suggest to the researchers that the Aurignacian people of Europe from the Upper Paleolithic period first domesticated dogs. Fine jewelry and tools, often decorated with depictions of big game animals, characterize this culture.
David slings his sadly defeated Conservative shots and Rachel bristling bops him back, making for a very good interview indeed - far above the usual servings.
21-year-old finishes meal in less than 5 hours, wins $400 and 3 T-shirts
(AP) - It took Brad Sciullo 4 hours and 39 minutes to finish a marathon. A meat marathon, that is.
The 5-foot-11, 180-pound western Pennsylvania chef is the first person to eat a monstrosity called the Beer Barrel Belly Bruiser: a 15-pound burger with toppings and a bun that brought the total weight to 20.2 pounds. The mountain of beef is the product of Denny's Beer Barrel Pub, about 100 miles northeast of Pittsburgh in Clearfield.
Sciullo, 21, of Uniontown, said he was surprised he finished the sandwich Monday. "About three hours into it, things got tough," he said.
When asked what possessed him to eat a burger that big, Sciullo said: "I wanted to see if I could."
Some good news but we need far more of it.
AIG cuts outgoing executive's golden parachute
Company cooperating with New York investigation over compensation
(AP) - American International Group said it has canceled a multimillion dollar severance package for its departing chief financial officer and will cooperate in a New York state review of other executive pay deals.
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and AIG issued a joint statement Thursday announcing that the company had stopped making payments to outgoing CFO Steven Bensinger, whose departure has been planned since May.
Cuomo said Bensinger's golden parachute had been worth about $10 million. Neither he nor the company would say how much of that had already been paid or how much was outstanding.
The announcement came a day after Cuomo began pressuring AIG to slash pay and perks for high-level executives and said he would investigate whether any of the company's compensation deals were improper.
Cuomo said he met Thursday with AIG's new chairman, Edward Liddy. During the meeting, AIG agreed to cooperate with the investigation and join with the state in attempting to recover any illegal expenditures.
"He understands the need for reform," Cuomo said of Liddy. "He understands the new culture that must be brought to AIG."
Pay and perks at AIG have been under scrutiny since the Federal Reserve began propping up the huge insurer with almost $123 billion in loans in effort to avoid a liquidity crisis that could have put it out of business. In return, the government received warrants to acquire a 79.9 percent ownership stake in AIG.
Cuomo declined to say exactly how many pay deals were being reviewed, but said the inquiry will include compensation paid to Martin Sullivan, the former chief executive, and Joseph Cassano, the former head of AIG's financial products unit.
Under state law, the attorney general has the power to seek a refund of performance bonuses awarded unjustly by an undercapitalized company, Cuomo said. He said investigators haven't determined yet whether anything improper occurred, but suggested that common sense told him that at least some bonuses had been problematic.
"You had senior management who were rewarded with multimillion dollar bonuses for good performance. How could you reward anyone for good performance, when their performance was anything but?" he asked.
AIG also affirmed Thursday in the meeting that it was calling off 160 conferences and events it had planned in the coming months for employees and clients, some in pricey vacation destinations, saving about $8 million.
Liddy said in a written statement that the company was grateful for Cuomo's "guidance," and would address his concerns "expeditiously."
Should we bring greater consistency to our electoral system by mandating a uniform federal ballot to be used in all 50 states and uniform rules for voter eligibility in federal elections?
I'm all for this, but there's a state rights constitutional question to be be answered regarding this idea.
Mark's a bit optimistic, me thinks...but hey what a wonderful thought it is that the conservative era has finally self-destructed and that while the pieces are still falling to the ground, a new America capable of dumping its puritanical bigotry is already shining through.
Licking the Zeitgeist
Go ahead, let the Obamafied optimism wash over you. For now.
By Mark Morford, SF Gate
You might think it's all said and done. You might think the economic crisis and the nonstop war and the mandatory belt-tightening means that, despite the Obama-led overhaul about to happen in Washington, it's still locked down and certain that you have far less mobility, elasticity, karmic wiggle room than you had hoped.
You would be wrong.
I say go ahead. You can still do it. You can still allow a rush of progressive confidence -- and even a crazy hint of liberal complacency -- begin to wash over you like a warm breeze, like a mad shot of unbridled potential. Despite the housing crisis and the fiscal firebombs and the ugly talk of those enormous, untapped strongholds of racism that won't truly emerge until Election Day, optimism is still allowed. Required, even.
And that nagging thought that, no matter how glorious an Obama win might be, the stunning all-American hole Bush has dug for us is simply far too deep to emerge from unscathed? Let it go.
Just for now. Just for the moment, as you stare in joyous wonder at all the state and national polls that are increasingly leaning Obama's way, if not fallen over completely. Plenty of time in the coming few weeks to imagine the uglier possibilities, America's darker demons, late October surprises. Save that for the final week.
Because the truth is, the notion of an Obama presidency yields many gifts. Foremost: a refreshed intellectual climate, a far higher quality of basic discourse. Squinting and bumbling and "is our children learning" are out, articulation and oratory nuance are in. Out: aw-shucks "go with my gut" Joe Six-pack pseudo-cowboy Jesus-says. In: thoughtfulness, polysyllabic words, sentences with complicated construction and meaning.
The bar has been raised. Or rather, the bar has been lifted out of the cave where it was dumped eight years ago; it's been polished up, reinstalled.
(CNN) -- Public school officials in Chicago, Illinois, are recommending approval of a "gay-friendly" high school because harassment and violence are causing gay students to skip class and drop out at alarming rates.
School officials say the proposed school would offer a welcoming, harassment-free environment for gay students.
School officials say the proposed school would offer a welcoming, harassment-free environment for gay students.
The School for Social Justice Pride Campus, which officials say will not be exclusive to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, is aimed at being safe and welcoming for any student looking for another school option, said Josh Edelman, executive officer in the Chicago Public Schools' Office of New Schools.
"It is not going to be a 'gay high school,' but yes, in a way, it is meant to target kids who feel they have been victims of bullying for their sexual orientation or perceived orientation," Edelman said.
Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan announced his recommendation Wednesday. Officials said Pride Campus would be separate physically but be attached administratively to the School for Social Justice.
School officials said the standards and curriculum for the school would be in line with other schools in the district. The school would also offer counseling for students, though because of federal laws, officials cannot ask students about their sexual orientation. The curriculum would not rely on, but would incorporate lessons about, sexual identity in history and literature classes, officials said.
"It's about creating another option for kids," Edelman said. "When it comes down to it, though, it is all about having a choice and providing high-quality options for students, whether they are gay or not."
The school could be a lifeline for students who are struggling for academic success. Video Is this school the best way to combat bullying? »
Well done, Mr Krugman! Bravo!
I have admired his work for years. He is a solid treasure painted with a wonderful eccentricity of character - half humble, half wise and taken in all as genius.
The New York Times columnist, Princeton professor and Bush administration critic awarded for theory on free trade and globalization.
STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) -- Paul Krugman, the Princeton University scholar and The New York Times columnist, won the Nobel prize in economics Monday for his analysis of how economies of scale can affect trade patterns and the location of economic activity.
Krugman has been a harsh critic of the Bush administration and the Republican Party in The New York Times, where he writes a regular column and has a blog called "Conscience of a Liberal."
He has come out forcefully against John McCain during the economic meltdown, saying the Republican candidate is "more frightening now than he was a few weeks ago" and earlier that the GOP has become "the party of stupid."
"Krugman is not only a scientist but also an opinion maker," economics prize committee member Tore Ellingsen said. He added that Krugman's analyses tend to back free trade and his research gives no "support for protectionism."
The 55-year-old American economist was the lone winner of the 10 million kronor ($1.4 million) award and the latest in a string of American researchers to be honored. It was only the second time since 2000 that a single laureate won the prize, which is typically shared by two or three researchers.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences praised Krugman for formulating a new theory to answer questions about free trade and said his theory has inspired an enormous field of research.
"What are the effects of free trade and globalization? What are the driving forces behind worldwide urbanization? Paul Krugman has formulated a new theory to answer these questions," the academy said in its citation.
"He has thereby integrated the previously disparate research fields of international trade and economic geography," it said.
The award, known as the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, is the last of the six Nobel prizes announced this year and is not one of the original Nobels. It was created in 1968 by the Swedish central bank in Alfred Nobel's memory.
Besides his work as an economist at Princeton University in New Jersey, where he has been since 2000, Krugman has written for publications including Foreign Affairs, the Harvard Business Review and Scientific American.
By Uri Avnery / Media Monitors Network / 7 October 2008
[Avnery: "Recently I was asked by the German
Else-Laker-Schueler-Gesellschaft, which commemorates the
German-Jewish-Israeli poetess, to describe how peace would look like.
On the eve of Yom Kippur, the day of reconciliation, I would like to
distribute it instead of my weekly article." Uri Avnery is a
journalist, peace activist, former member of the Knesset, and leader
of Gush Shalom. He is a regular contributor to Media Monitors Network
"If you want, it is no fairy tale!" -- Theodor Herzl, founder of Zionism
"You don't want? Forget it!"
-- Hebrew graffiti with Herzl's picture in Tel Aviv
SEPTEMBER 10, 2015.
It has happened.
In a solemn ceremony, on a stage bedecked with Israeli and Palestinian
flags, the peace treaty between Israel and Palestine has been signed.
Negotiations did not take long. The essential elements of the treaty
had been known for a long time. The document held no real surprises.
Israel agreed to recognize the State of Palestine. The border between
the two states was based on the so-called Green Line (the pre-1967
line), but both parties agreed on a limited exchange of territory.
About 5% of the West Bank, including several "settlement blocs", were
joined to Israel, in exchange for an equivalent area alongside the
Gaza Strip. Both sides expressed the wish to keep the border open for
the movement of people and goods.
In Jerusalem, the Arab neighborhoods, including al-Haram al-Sharif
(the Temple Mount) became part of Palestine, while Jewish
neighborhoods and the Western Wall stayed in Israel. The two halves of
Jerusalem remained physically united under a joint municipal
authority, with equal representation.
Israel agreed to remove all settlements from the territory of Palestine.
This Week: "The Choice 2008" (120 minutes),
October 14th at 9pm on PBS (Check local listings)
Just a few weeks before the presidential election, with the economy in historic freefall, Americans are taking a last hard look at the men who would be president, and they are asking some tough questions: Who can be trusted to lead the country through the current gloom? Which candidate--the "Maverick" or the man who insists, "Yes we can" --might actually deliver on the promise of real change in Washington?
For months, veteran FRONTLINE producer/director Michael Kirk has talked to the people closest to Barack Obama and John McCain, and gone deep inside their extended primary campaigns for the nomination. And he has come back with some provocative answers to the questions that we will all soon need to answer. The result is this season's premier, The Choice 2008, which airs Tuesday night.
"This primary, more than any in recent memory, severely tested the candidates," says Kirk. "Watching how Obama and McCain won reveals much about the men, their ideas, the kind of organizations they have built, and the way they face adversity."
How exactly did Barack Obama and John McCain arrive at this moment on the national stage -- merely promising change or delivering it? Defying party orthodoxy or pandering to it? And what does that say about how they will lead the country through continued tough times at home and abroad? We hope you'll watch a preview online ( http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/choice2008/ ), then tune in Tuesday for the full program.
Also online: Check out a preview of HEAT, our upcoming global investigation into the response of business and government to climate change. And from our Flashback files, watch video from an old FRONTLINE report that is painfully familiar today: Ten years ago the DOW dramatically plunged as a financial panic roared through the global economy and a massive bailout followed. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/story/2008/10/flashback.html
Let us now turn to our NY Times op ed pages to audience Frank Rich's The Terrorist Barack Hussein Obama
The McCain campaign has crossed the line between tough negative campaigning and inciting vigilantism, and each day the mob howls louder.
A Reader comment
Vote suppression takes many forms. It is not just about ballot tricks or under counting the vote, although those things have been part of it.
Making the election about personalities is a tactic of vote suppression. Attack ads and Swift Boating are about vote suppression. Tactics that turn off voter enthusiasm are tactics of vote suppression.
The Brennan Center for Justice is fighting to limit the vote suppression that will result from the mis-named Help America Vote Act of 2002. The Brennan Center lists its goals as: expand the franchise, assure that all those eligible can vote, and assure every vote cast is accurately recorded and counted. It is telling that a University program staffed with volunteers must undertake this effort in the face of conservative agitation about ineligible voters. Claiming high ground on ineligible voters is simply a way of putting a pretty face on vote suppression.
Vote suppression is the whole point of racial politics. Racial politics kept slavery alive until Lincoln, Jim Crow alive until Martin Luther King, Jr, and now it is being used to suppress support for Barack Obama by emphasizing tangental personal issues that give cover for those whose conscious or unconscious motivation is race driven.
The phenomenon of Sarah Palin reminds us of why liberalism is a philosophy of limited government. Liberty, the basis of liberalism, requires that government must not be used as a vehicle for personal power or wealth. That is why the Bush years, and histories of favoritism given to or purchased by the wealthy elite, and Palins religiosity, and Troopergate, and the McCain-Palin rallies scare liberals and progressives alike.
Palin fear may motivate some of us, but her campaigning reduces politics to a level that invites cynicism and failure to participate. We must reject this play for vote suppression.
We must overcome our righteous cynicism and the internal and external barriers and join together to exercise the power of the vote to change our government and the disastrous course it has taken.
We are the majority. We can take back this country if we stick together.
-- dairubo, minneapolis
In India's eastern Orissa State, Christian families say
they are being forced to abandon their faith in exchange
for safety. Below, a Christian woman in her burned home.
JFK, RFK and MLK
Speaking of the climate of hate being generated from the bowels of GOP bitter desperation
Somebody out of Herdon, Va hacked my site and deleted around 50 of the latest posts and left a note saying:
"nobody's safe - the nigger is dead"
I took umbrage and spent the morning tracking the person down and sent that info to the FBI. I included info on which posts he targeted, as well as who I am and in which directions these postings have always flowed.
Then I went to my post activity log and copied titles of the deleted posts into a Google search and using their cache of my pages was able to reconstruct a majority of them.
I will reconstruct the comments sometime this week- but right now I need this
Having to turn to socialism as a savior must just rot these guys socks off. Get ready for big helpings of Swedish meatballs.
By EDMUND L. ANDREWS and MARK LANDLER
Having tried without success to unlock frozen credit markets, the Treasury Department is considering taking ownership stakes in many United States banks to try to restore confidence in the financial system, according to government officials.
Treasury officials say the just-passed $700 billion bailout bill gives them the authority to inject cash directly into banks that request it. Such a move would quickly strengthen banks' balance sheets and, officials hope, persuade them to resume lending. In return, the law gives the Treasury the right to take ownership positions in banks, including healthy ones.
The Treasury plan was still preliminary and it was unclear how the process would work, but it appeared that it would be voluntary for banks.
The proposal resembles one announced on Wednesday in Britain. Under that plan, the British government would offer banks like the Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays and HSBC Holdings up to $87 billion to shore up their capital in exchange for preference shares. It also would provide a guarantee of about $430 billion to help banks refinance debt.
The American recapitalization plan, officials say, has emerged as one of the most favored new options being discussed in Washington and on Wall Street. The appeal is that it would directly address the worries that banks have about lending to one another and to other customers.
This new interest in direct investment in banks comes after yet another tumultuous day in which the Federal Reserve and five other central banks marshaled their combined firepower to cut interest rates but failed to stanch the global financial panic.
In a coordinated action, the central banks reduced their benchmark interest rates by one-half percentage point. On top of that, the Bank of England announced its plan to nationalize part of the British banking system and devote almost $500 billion to guarantee financial transactions between banks.....
Way more of this.
Illinois lawman too many innocent renters are being made homeless
CHICAGO - The sheriff here said Wednesday that he's ordering his deputies to stop evicting people from foreclosed properties because many people his office has helped throw out on the street are renters who did nothing wrong.
"We will no longer be a party to something that's so unjust," a visibly angry Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said at a news conference.
"We have to be sure that when we are doing this -- and we are destroying some people's lives -- we better be darned sure we're talking about the right people," Dart said.
This is a rare case of the US government granting asylum to a gay person because of the danger he faces in his home country for being gay.
By Kirk Semple and Lydia Polgreen
Pape Mbaye gets a lot of attention. Even in jaded New York, people watch the way he walks (his style defines the word sashay) and scrutinize his outfits, which on a recent afternoon featured white, low-slung capris, a black purse, eyeliner and diamond-studded jewelry.
And he likes it.
"I'm fabulous," he said. "I feel good."
Mr. Mbaye, 24, is an entertainer from Dakar, Senegal, known there for his dancing, singing and storytelling. But while his flamboyance may be celebrated in New York, he attracted the wrong kind of attention in West Africa this year, and it nearly cost him his life.
In February, a Senegalese magazine published photographs of what was reported to be an underground gay marriage and said that Mr. Mbaye, who appeared in the photos and is gay himself, had organized the event. In the ensuing six months, Mr. Mbaye said, he was harassed by the police, attacked by armed mobs, driven from his home, maligned in the national media and forced to live on the run across West Africa.
In July, the United States government gave him refugee status, one of the rare instances when such protection has been granted to a foreigner facing persecution based on sexual orientation. A month later, Mr. Mbaye arrived in New York, eventually moving into a small furnished room in the Bronx that rents for $150 per week. It has a bed, air-conditioner, television, cat and pink walls.
"There's security, there's independence, there's peace," he said of his new country.
But even as he has begun looking for work, with the help of a few Senegalese immigrants he knows from Dakar, Mr. Mbaye is largely avoiding the mainstream Senegalese community, fearing that the same prejudices that drove him out of Africa may dog him here.
One recent evening, while visiting close family friends from Dakar who live in Harlem, he recalled a shopping trip to 116th Street, where many Senegalese work and live. There, he said, he was harassed by a Senegalese man who ridiculed Mr. Mbaye's outfit and threatened him.
"He said, 'If you were in Senegal, I would kill you,' " Mr. Mbaye said, gesturing with his arms, his voice rising. "I have my freedom now, and that man wanted to take it."
The United States does not track how often it grants refuge to people fleeing anti-gay persecution. But Christopher Nugent, an immigration lawyer with Holland & Knight, a Washington law firm where he is a senior pro bono counsel specializing in refugee and asylum cases, said that in the past decade he has heard of only a handful.
Ladies and gentlemen a debate quote from your potential US President Palin:
"Say it ain't so, Joe! There you go pointing backwards again ... Now, doggone it, let's look ahead and tell Americans what we have to plan to do for them in the future. You mentioned education, and I'm glad you did. I know education you are passionate about with your wife being a teacher for 30 years, and God bless her. Her reward is in heaven, right?"
Now I ask you, is that a result of mere fatigue or religiously induced permanent brain damage or diversionary linguistic tactic? At first you chuckle and then comes the terror.