Monday, October 31, 2011

Let Them Eat Cake

[E]ven as the [OWS] protest was spreading in mid-October to hundreds of cities, executives at Bank of America announced three moves: one, to goose up their own extravagant pay, they're socking financially-stressed debit card users with a new $5 a month fee. Second, they're dumping 30,000 of the bank's workerbees onto America's already-swollen unemployment rolls – goodbye and good luck finding another job. Third, two top executives who're departing the bank are being handed golden parachutes totaling $11 million.

In the midst of this, Steve Bartlett opened his mouth. A former congress critter who's now Wall Street's top Washington lobbyist, he is a perfect symbol of the infuriating corrupt coziness between financial elites and lawmakers. Yet, Bartlett blithely says that "We [don't] see ourselves as the target [of the protests]. After all, he explains, Wall Street "has to be well capitalized and well financed for the economy to recover."

Golly, Steve, what part of the public's multitrillion-dollar bailout of the Street's elite did you not see? We the People see every glaring dime of it. And we also see that rather than helping our economy recover, you're now lobbying in Congress to kill Wall Street reforms so banksters can grab even more at our expense.

  Jim Hightower

And so who does Mr. Bartlett think is the target?

“I think they’re protesting about the economy.”


Publicly, bankers say they understand the anger at Wall Street — but believe they are misunderstood by the protesters camped on their doorstep.

But when they speak privately, it is often a different story.

“Most people view it as a ragtag group looking for sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll,” said one top hedge fund manager.

“It’s not a middle-class uprising,” adds another veteran bank executive. “It’s fringe groups. It’s people who have the time to do this.”


Without a coherent message, the crowds will ultimately thin out, Wall Street types insist — especially when the weather turns colder. They see the protesters as an entertaining sideshow, little more than flash mobs of slackers, seeking to lock arms with Kanye West or get a whiff of the antiestablishment politics that defined their parents’ generation.


A few even feel personally attacked, and say the Occupy Wall Street protesters who have been in Zuccotti Park for weeks are just bitter about their own economic fate and looking for an easy target. If anything, they say, people should show some gratitude.


[A longtime money manager said] that he was disappointed that members of Congress from New York, especially Senator Charles E. Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, had not come out swinging for an industry that donates heavily to their campaigns. “They need to understand who their constituency is,” he said.


How direct.

“When I tell people I went down to research the protests, they’re shocked, they literally laugh,” said Michael Mayo, a veteran bank analyst at Crédit Agricole Securities. “It’s just not a location they frequent.”

Heaven forbid.

But they’re not all too clueless to live.

Citigroup’s chief executive, Vikram S. Pandit, even said he would be happy to talk with the protesters any time they wanted to drop by.


“I would also corroborate that trust has been broken between financial institutions and the citizens of the U.S., and that it’s Wall Street’s job to reach out to Main Street and rebuild that trust,” Mr. Pandit said. The protesters should hold Citi and others “accountable for practicing responsible finance,” he said, “and keep asking us about how we’re doing.”

Mr. Pandit would like to keep his head.

It’s risky business, though. To a mob, all you banksters look alike.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.


I've been trying to give Michael Moore the benefit of the doubt about his appearances at Occupy Wall Street even though it went against my better judgment (since I'm well and truly tired of watching him try to position himself at the front of every movement). Maybe he just wanted to help by bringing out more media coverage with no thought for his own ego, right? C'mon, it was at least theoretically possible.

Chris Floyd

Theoretically, anything’s possible. But Moore not driven by his ego isn’t a theory worth floating.

Then on last night's local newscast I saw him say this after speaking at Occupy Oakland: "I made the movie. It was called 'Capitalism: A Love Story' and I called for this rebellion. And I'm just thrilled."

Good grief. Even when he's trying to help, Moore can't help but try to make it all about him.

Yeah, I’m not sure he’s trying to help. I think he’s just trying to make it all about him. Call me skeptical. I’m not saying he hasn’t done some good, but he’s truly obnoxious and overly self-important. Support, Michael, don’t usurp.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

It's Halloween

Choose your drugs.

I don't know....

I'm having a hard time imagining what a world of kids who were drugged with acid versus Ritalin would look like.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Petty Tyrants

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) voted on Monday to admit Palestine as a member, a move which will likely cause the US government to cut off tens of millions of dollars in annual funding.


The Palestinian bid received 107 "yes" votes during a UNESCO meeting in Paris, with 14 countries voting against and 52 abstaining. The decision grants full membership to Palestine.


What can I say? We can’t even allow them to be a part of UNESCO.

UNESCO's vote will almost certainly trigger a US law, passed in 1990, which bars the US from funding any United Nations agency "which accords the Palestine Liberation Organisation the same standing as member states." The US provides about $80 million per year, or 22 per cent of the agency's total budget.

The president can often override such laws with a so-called "national security waiver"; these waivers allow the PLO to maintain a mission in Washington, for example, despite a 1987 law barring it.


But the 1990 law on UN funding, and a similar measure passed in 1994, do not provide the option of a waiver.

Who is making these laws? Oh well. No matter. We no longer believe in science in this country and education and culture do not have favor.

The European Union tried to stop the PLO bid by offering them limited membership on UNESCO's executive committee, and funds to renovate the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, believed to be the birthplace of Jesus.

Which points out the huge difference between the Palestinians and the Great White West. What an insult.

And kudos to the 107 countries who voted in favor of the Palestinian bid.

It is a symbolic victory for the Palestine Liberation Organisation, which filed a bid last month for full membership at the United Nations. The bid has been stalled for weeks at the UN Security Council.

Yeah. By whom do you think?

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

I Don't Know What Drugs George W Was On....

....but they weren't as good as Rick Perry's.

Championing Human Rights

With the supply route to occupied Afghanistan via Pakistan increasingly problematic, the Americans are turning to what US officials have dubbed the “Northern distribution network” (NDN) to ensure the viability of their Central Asian outpost of empire. The key link in that network is Islam Karimov, the absolute ruler of the former Soviet republic [Uzbekistan], and a killer whose human rights record is on a par with Tamerlane’s – the Mongol conqueror whom Colin Wilson rightly called “the most spectacular sadist in world history.”


[T]here is documented evidence that prisoners have been boiled alive – climaxed by the slaughter of thousands of unarmed protesters in Andijan, in 2005, when Uzbek troops fired into a crowd.


The US reaction was muted, at first, but eventually even the Bush State Department was forced to acknowledge that something was rotten in the state of Uzbekistan, and recommended cutting-off military aid. That aid, however, continued in some form under the “anti-terrorist” rubric, no doubt, and now the Obama administration is successfully pressuring Congress to lift the sanctions and let the cash flow officially. The President recently placed a personal call to Karimov congratulating him on the anniversary of Uzbekistan’s independence – on the very day human rights groups sent a letter protesting his administration’s cozying up to Tashkent.


[The] Uzbek lobby has a lot of clout among Washington insiders, enough to pressure the Senate Appropriations committee to insert a human rights “waiver” into legislation authorizing overseas military aid to the Karimov regime.


“Over the last six years, things – I have a little different view. There are human rights abuses, but they’re wanting to be back into the world community. We need a northern transportation route. If this is pulled off and we can get a new agreement with the Uzbekistan government, we could reduce by 50 percent what flows through Pakistan. [...]So I am supportive of the waiver. I am not supportive of disengaging the monitoring. But to me this is a wise decision at an appropriate time.” [Senator Lindsey Graham]

Justin Raimondo

Yes, we can’t very well go all out against Pakistan until we get another supply route set up, now can we?

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Herman Cain Rising Too High

The story that Politico reported late last night about possible sexual harassment allegations being leveled against Herman Cain in the late 1990s absolutely could kill the GOP insurgent’s presidential campaign. But it doesn’t necessarily have to — and, in fact, it could even boost it, at least in the short term.


Well, the only way it will kill it is if he is deemed by the GOP to be the people’s choice for presidential candidate and they don’t want him to be (which I assume they don't). If the charges were that he was visiting prostitutes or having gay sex, that would be different. Sexual harassment? Not a problem.

And it's a two-fer. They get to blame the story's genesis on "liberal" dirty politics.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Occupier Tips

Protesters in Greece found that mixing a 50 percent solution of liquid antacid [eg Maalox] and water in spray bottles produces a soothing mist that cools the burning associated with tear gas and pepper spray.

Protesters are instructed by the flier, “When exposed spray your eyes and mouth, then swallow.” The document cites AFP journalists, a study by the University of California at San Francisco, and Wikipedia as sources for information on antacids and tear gas relief.

The flier recommends particle filters and dust masks for keeping tear gas out of the nose and mouth and safety goggles to protect the eyes. It also urges nonviolent protest, saying, “Peaceful protest is the only way to be taken seriously and to be truly heard.”

  Raw Story


Financial markets are cheering the deal that emerged from Brussels early Thursday morning.


But it’s worth stepping back to look at the larger picture, namely the abject failure of an economic doctrine — a doctrine that has inflicted huge damage both in Europe and in the United States.

The doctrine in question amounts to the assertion that, in the aftermath of a financial crisis, banks must be bailed out but the general public must pay the price. So a crisis brought on by deregulation becomes a reason to move even further to the right; a time of mass unemployment, instead of spurring public efforts to create jobs, becomes an era of austerity, in which government spending and social programs are slashed.


Expansionary austerity, in particular, has been championed both by Republicans in Congress and by the European Central Bank, which last year urged all European governments — not just those in fiscal distress — to engage in “fiscal consolidation.”

And when David Cameron became Britain’s prime minster last year, he immediately embarked on a program of spending cuts in the belief that this would actually boost the economy — a decision that was greeted with fawning praise by many American pundits.


Some economists weren’t convinced. One caustic critic referred to claims about the expansionary effects of austerity as amounting to belief in the “confidence fairy.” O.K., that was me.


Now [...] the results are in, and the picture isn’t pretty. Greece has been pushed by its austerity measures into an ever-deepening slump — and that slump, not lack of effort on the part of the Greek government, was the reason a classified report to European leaders concluded last week that the existing program there was unworkable. Britain’s economy has stalled under the impact of austerity, and confidence from both businesses and consumers has slumped, not soared.


So bailing out the banks while punishing workers is not, in fact, a recipe for prosperity. But was there any alternative? Well, that’s why I’m in Iceland, attending a conference about the country that did something different.

…What’s that difference?

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

What Problem?

In the luxurious Hassler Hotel at the top of the Spanish Steps, Rome's fabled dolce vita is still going strong.

"There is an aesthetic of beauty and balance here that is not subject to the fluctuations around us," said owner Roberto Wirth, referring to the financial crisis now imperilling economies around the world.

Down the steps and along the prosperous Via del Babuino, art and antiques dealer Romolo Brandimarte proudly pointed to a Roman sarcophagus on display worth more than half a million euros. "Our customers, who are often industrialists, haven't gone away," he said.

A little further down, at the Hotel De Russie, where limos were lined up to take stars such as Richard Gere off to the red carpet at the Rome film festival, it was the same story. "We are an oasis; we are not suffering," a spokeswoman stressed, adding that the €11,000 a night rooftop suite is always fully booked.


Marching into the nearby Piazza del Popolo for a rally, waving flags and clutching sandwiches wrapped in foil, [Italy’s] pensioners were furious at Silvio Berlusconi plan to whittle away at pension rights to help reduce Italy's staggering €1.8tn debt and please the markets, which have seized on Italy as the next weak link in Europe after Greece.


Increasing the pension age from 65 to 67 was one of the measures offered last week by Berlusconi to placate European leaders worried that Italy is not doing enough to help save the eurozone.

  UK Guardian

Well, you know, everybody has to pitch in.

And speaking of Greece...

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

What Problem?

[Syrian President Bashar al-Assad] stressed Syria was key to keeping the peace in the region.

Assad has drawn repeated condemnation from the United Nations, Arab League and Western governments for the violent manner in which he has attempted to crush a seven-month uprising against his rule.


The UN estimates that more than 3,000 people, including nearly 200 children, have been killed in the unrest. Since the start of protests in March, Syrian authorities have blamed the violence on gunmen they say have killed 1,100 soldiers and police.

Syria has barred most international media, making it hard to verify accounts from activists and authorities.


Louay Safi, a member of the opposition Syrian National Council, said Assad has to understand that he is "inviting an intervention".


Assad said in the interview that Western countries "are going to ratchet up the pressure, definitely... but Syria is different in every respect from Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen", comparing his countries to others affected by 'Arab Spring' uprisings.

"The history is different. The politics is different. Syria is the hub now in this region. It is the fault line, and if you play with the ground you will cause an earthquake," he said.

"Do you want to see another Afghanistan, or tens of Afghanistans? Any problem in Syria will burn the whole region.


I’m not advocating intervention, but isn’t there already a “problem in Syria?”

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Occupy Oakland

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, who was booed out of a public square by protesters against economic inequality on Thursday, apologized for a clash between police and demonstrators that badly injured an ex-Marine.

Raw Story

Although this post comes from Raw Story, it’s actually a Reuters report. I like how the protests have been termed to be “against economic inequality.” This is the light in which major media, politicians and right wing minds want to see the protests, and want you to see them. It’s false. I’m sure that plays a part in the protests, but that’s not what started them, and that ultimately is not what they’re about.

Economic inequality is embedded in human society and human nature. We have never had (nor will we) economic equality. People do not protest economic inequality for its own sake. There is a larger cause, an element that drives people to the streets, and that is injustice - as Glenn Greenwald has called it, “two-tiered justice.” OWS began as a protest against the idea that banksters and corporate criminals not only get away with fraud and crime, but that they also make the rules in this country. Even that would not have been enough to drive people into the streets, but when the situation has become so glaringly unjust and the people are required to pay for the banksters to defraud them, to pick up the tab completely for the criminal and fraudulent acts of the “1%” THEN they will protest. The tab includes loss of homes and jobs, and if the people had lost those due to their own negligence, they wouldn’t be in the streets until they were too hungry, at which point, they would be rioting, not protesting.

OWS is not about income inequality, no matter how much the MSM and politicians would like to couch it as such. It’s about legal inequality and being completely flattened by corporate criminals and having to pay THEM for flattening you. (See previous post about Goldman Sachs.)

I imagine the Iraqis are feeling somewhat the same about the US military.

“I am deeply saddened about the outcome on Tuesday,” Quan said in the statement, which she also delivered from her office in a videotaped posted online.


Quan, who has drawn withering criticism for her handling of a confrontation with so-called “Occupy Wall Street” protesters, said in a written statement that she had met with ex-Marine Scott Olsen and his parents and was concerned about his recovery.

Yes, well, all forgiven then.

Quan had paid a visit late Thursday night to a rally and speakers’ forum organized by protesters at Frank Ogawa Plaza, a public square adjacent to the mayor’s office that has been the fulcrum of demonstrations.

She was greeted with a hail of angry boos and catcalls and hastily retreated with her staff back to City Hall, followed by protesters shouting, “Get out, go home!” and “Resign!”


Quan pledged to work with the Occupy Oakland activists but said “we need to have direct communications between city staff and your representatives.”

Because, we really don’t know what you’re so upset about.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Kill the Messenger

An Israeli court has sentenced a former soldier to four and a half years in prison for leaking classified military documents to a newspaper, which later reported allegations of a policy to assassinate Palestinian fighters.


Avigdor Feldman, one of Kamm's lawyers, said at the time she was convicted that she had "believed she stumbled onto [evidence of] war crimes."


Tell it to Brad Manning.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

The Other Shoe

According to investigative reporter Greg Palast, however, the motivations go much deeper and may involve that Goldman Sachs is misusing TARP bailout funds as a “political weapon” to bully smaller banks.

Back in 2008, Goldman Sachs received $10 billion from the US Treasury under the TARP program that had been established to bail out failing commercial banks. The firm was neither failing nor a commercial bank, but the Secretary of the Treasury at that time, Henry Paulson, was a former Goldman Sachs chairman, and that was sufficient.

There was one catch, however, which was that “Goldman would have to return a chunk of the public’s billions in the form of loans for low-income customers and members of its ‘community’, as required by the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) of 1977. Problem: Goldman has, it seems, no low-income customers, nor a ‘community’. Goldman was directed to find poor people and a community and hand over some cash.”

Goldman complied in part by giving $5000 to the Lower East Side Peoples Federal Credit Union for its 25th anniversary.

Raw Story

Wow! Big spender. Can that even be considered to fulfill the requirement? And better yet - then they took that piddling sum away when the credit union advertised that it would honor OWS at the party. (Emphasis mine.)

Video report seemingly showing a woman being arrested in front of CitiBank when she tried to go in and close out her account to move it to a small bank, and claiming that Goldman Sachs threatened legal action against the credit union for honoring OWS before pulling their $5,000....

Black Like Me

California Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier has announced that for a week, she will attempt to live on the same amount of money allotted to recipients of SNAP, the California food stamp program. San Francisco’s Channel 7 news reports that SNAP (which stands for Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) provided $136.75 per person each month during fiscal year 2010, which breaks down to a food budget of $4.50 per day.

  Raw Story

So she’s going on a diet for a week.

Speier has assembled a group in the community to participate in the challenge, which will run for five days. Staff and students at California’s Occidental College have announced that they will also be adopting the same $4.50 per day budget for the week.

Oh, not even a week. Wouldn’t want to get in the way of the weekend parties and Sunday brunch.

Anyway, good for her. She’s at least smart enough to see which way the wind is blowing these days.

PS – the title of this post refers to a book/project taken by a man in 1959 who really was serious about seeing what it was like for “the others.” I read that book years ago. Very depressing.

Rotating Troops for Optical Illusions

You knew it wasn't real, so you won't be surprised.

The United States is planning to bolster its military presence in the Gulf after it pulls out its remaining troops from Iraq, the New York Times reported in its online edition on Sunday.

President Barack Obama said on October 21 that he had decided to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of the year and the paper said that U.S. military officers and diplomats worried that the withdrawal could bring instability to the region.

It said Washington was negotiating to maintain a combat presence on the ground in Kuwait and was considering deploying more warships in the area.

  Raw Story

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

It's Sunday

Pastor Paul Ade, of Calgary, Canada, has come up with the solution to those who are having too much fun on Halloween without thought of their eternal soul. Ade has created Jesus Ween, the rage with a growing number of Christians. [Instead] of costumes and candy, celebrants wear all white to remember Jesus and hand out Bibles. According to the website, “Pastor Paul [ordered] copies of New Testament pocket size Bibles from the Bible Society to use for personal evangelism. A few days before Halloween, a word came to him to give out bibles to everyone knocking at his door expecting candy.”

  Jonathan Turley

That’s going to get him a “trick” or two.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

PS...What is the matter with you people? Halloween is the most fun holiday for kids (and adults) anyone ever concocted. Get over yourselves.

Jesus Ween, indeed. The "Christians" usurped every joyful, richly natural, beautiful celebration of life the world has had and turned them into dour, guilt-ridden, and even horrifying (crucifixion fixation) commemorations of just how awful life - excuse me, humans are. They're a sick lot, those people. Don't let them take Halloween!

Thanks to Pastor Paul for not getting that Halloween is a contraction and leaving the "w" in. Now we can call him what he is. A Jesus Weener.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Meanwhile in Afghanistan

The 13 foreign troops killed in a suicide car bombing on Saturday in Kabul are Americans, a Pentagon spokesman said.

"The 13 were Americans," Pentagon spokesman Jim Gregory told Reuters.

Saturday's suicide bombing was the deadliest single ground attack on foreign forces in 10 years of war in Afghanistan.


I wonder if the troops who are serving now feel abandoned. Nobody is interested in filming the returning caskets these days.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Wait. It Gets Worse

A New York Times opinion column from Joe Nocera out on Saturday tells the story of last year’s Halloween Party at the law firm called Steven J. Baum, a practice outside Buffalo that the column refers to as a “foreclosure mill.” The firm thought that they would celebrate last Halloween by throwing a homeless-themed party, complete with the staff dressing costumes that made them look destitute and signs describing the various faux problems their characters had. One sign seems to read “Will Worke For Food [sic]”.


When we spoke later, she added that the snapshots are an accurate representation of the firm’s mind-set. “There is this really cavalier attitude,” she said. “It doesn’t matter that people are going to lose their homes.” Nor does the firm try to help people get mortgage modifications; the pressure, always, is to foreclose.


The firm denies everything.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Call In Winner

How Banks Work

He did leave out the part where he loans out 9 dollars he doesn't have in addition to that one dollar you gave him.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Add to the List

While the President’s campaign has kept one pledge to keep lobbyists out of campaign fundraisers with the President, the article details how the same individuals are often used as bundlers or invite to events immediately after the President’s appearance.


[A]nti-corruption and good government groups are denouncing him for his abandonment of pledges to not to take lobbyist money.

Obama ran on a pledge that assured voters that he would curtail the influence of lobbyists by refusing to take their money. As the New York Times discusses below, he has circumvented that promise by taking huge sums from lobbyists as “bundlers.”

The newspaper identifies at least “15 of Mr. Obama’s “bundlers” — supporters who contribute their own money to his campaign and solicit it from others — are involved in lobbying for Washington consulting shops or private companies. They have raised more than $5 million so far for the campaign.”


Public Citizen and other respected groups have condemned the practice and flagged how “the president is still relying on wealthy special interests and embracing those people in his campaign.” This includes people like Sally Susman, an executive at the drug-maker Pfizer, who has raised massive amounts of money for Obama while leading Pfizer’s all-powerful lobbying shop.

  Jonathan Turley

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Yeah, What Are the Facts?

For our corrupt financial markets, any news that can be spun as good news can send stocks up. But what are the facts?

For facts one has to turn to serious people, not to the presstitute media. Among those who give us real facts is John Williams of In his October 27 report, Williams exposes the happy second quarter 2011 economic growth figure of 2.5% as nonsense. Every other economic indicator contradicts the spin.

For example, personal consumption is reported to have increased 1.7%, but this surge in consumption took place despite a 1.7% collapse in consumer disposable income! In other words, if there was an increase in personal consumption, it come from drawing down savings or from incurring higher consumer debt.

A country’s consumers cannot forever draw down savings or go deeper into debt. For an economy to recover, there must be growth in consumer income. That growth is nowhere to be seen in the US. A large percentage of the goods and services sold to Americans by American corporations are now produced abroad by foreign labor. Thus, Americans no longer receive incomes from the production of the goods and services that they consume. The American consumer market is on its way out.


After two decades of exporting US manufacturing and middle class jobs, and after a decade of consumer debt growth that has resulted in millions of foreclosed homeowners and massive credit card and student loan debt that cannot be paid, consumers have no income growth or borrowing capacity with which to fuel an economy based on consumer demand.


The Dow Jones rose 339.51 points on the phony good news, but consumer sentiment is in the basement.


As an indication of the future, despite the positive spin on the news and the rise in US stocks, on October 27 the Japanese yen rose to a new high against the US dollar.

  Paul Craig Roberts

Gloomy Gus.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Wow, Ireland

I had no idea you had it in you to elect a peacenik lover of the arts and human rights advocate. In fact, I was under the impression that the Irish were resigned to living with corrupt politicians.

....but hey, way to go.

How Generous

[Financial strategist and radio host Peter Schiff] recently went down to Zuccotti Park in New York City to speak with protesters on camera, maintained that the economic problems faced by the U.S. are not driven by unmitigated greed on Wall Street, but the interference of government in its affairs.

  Raw Story

Well, that took some balls.

[He] pointed at the unions as causing problems for the free market, and insisted that the 1 percent “gave” the people child labor laws, weekends and other liberties that workers in the U.S. hold dear.

And that was just plain ignorant. Eugene Debs is rolling in his bloody grave.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

From Egypt, To Oakland

Photos from Raw Story

And on That Note

Update: I think there must be other Lego men, as LaBelle points out, it looks mighty cold in Florida from that last picture. The beach doesn't look right either, and other reports say the Sarasota Lego man was found by a man, not by kids.

The 100-pound, 8-foot-tall mysterious Lego man that was found on a Florida beach may soon be sprung from a holding room.

Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight said Thursday that Lego-man could be freed from the shed where he's been kept for two days.


That’s no way to treat a stranded man who washed up on your beach and is obviously dazed and cannot speak.

Looks like a bunch of kids "rescued" him and then turned him in.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

For the Anti-Abortion Crowd...

"The right to life ends at birth." (Tengrain)

“On occasion, scientists working on the nuclear program in Iran turn up dead,” [Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum] explained. “I think that’s a wonderful thing, candidly.”


“I think we should send a very clear message that if you are scientist from Russia or North Korea or from Iran, and you are going to work on a nuclear program to develop a nuclear bomb for Iran, you are not safe.”

  Raw Story

The guy deserves what you (still) get when you google “Santorum.”

....but hey, do what you will anyway.


Internal emails show that Wall Street firms told their investors to purchase stocks in certain companies, but not because those stocks had good potential. The stocks were owned by companies that were paying the firms giving the advice.

  Raw Story

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Marine Condition Update

Olsen “responded with a very large smile” to a visit from his parents, Highland General Hospital spokesman Warren Lyons said at a late-afternoon press conference on Thursday.

“He’s able to understand what’s going on. He’s able to write and hear but has a little difficulty with his speech,” Lyons said.

He said doctors had not operated on Olsen yet and were waiting to see if swelling in his brain eased.

  Raw Story

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Conditions for OWS

Today, it is glaringly obvious to a wide range of those in the US that the wealth of the top one per cent is the byproduct not of risk-taking entrepreneurship, but of corrupted control of our legal and political systems. Thanks to this control, they can write laws that have no purpose than to abolish the few limits that still constrain them, as happened during the Wall Street deregulation orgy of the 1990s. They can retroactively immunise themselves for crimes they deliberately committed for profit, as happened when the 2008 Congress shielded the nation’s telecom giants for their role in Bush’s domestic warrantless eavesdropping programme.

It is equally obvious that they are using that power not to lift the boats of ordinary Americans, but to sink them. In short, Americans are now well aware of what the second-highest-ranking Democrat in the Senate, Illinois’s Dick Durbin, blurted out in 2009 about the body in which he serves: the banks "frankly own the place".


The tide that was supposed to lift all ships has, in fact, left startling numbers of Americans underwater. In the process, we lost any sense that a common set of rules applies to everyone, and so there is no longer a legitimising anchor for the vast income and wealth inequalities that plague the nation.

That is what has changed, and a growing recognition of what it means is fuelling rising citizen anger and protest. The inequality under which so many suffer is not only vast, but illegitimate, rooted as it is in lawlessness and corruption. Obscuring that fact has long been the linchpin for inducing Americans to accept vast and growing inequalities. That fact is now too glaring to obscure any longer.

  Glenn Greenwald at alJazeera

Scary Perry

If you show badly in debates, what do you do? Skip 'em. Spend more money on scripted advertising.

....hey, do what you will anyway.

If Marie Antoinette Were a Trader

Someone in the Chicago Board of Trade dropped leaflets on top of “Occupy Chicago” protesters Wednesday afternoon as they rallied alongside unions in the city’s financial district.

“We are Wall Street,” the leaflet said. “It is our job to make money.”

“Go ahead and continue to take us down, but you’re only going to hurt yourselves,” it continued. “What’s going to happen when we can’t find jobs on the Street anymore? Guess what: We’re going to take yours.”

“Do you really think we are incapable of teaching 3rd graders and doing landscaping?” the leaflet asked. “We aren’t dinosaurs. We are smarter and more vicious than that, and we are going to survive.”


Previously, Chicago traders dropped flyers on the protesters that said, “We Are The 1 Percent Paying For This, You Are Paying For 1 Percent Of It.”

Raw Story

The vicious part I don't doubt, but I question the smarter part. And the landscaping.

Iraq Two-Tour Marine Vet Injured at Oakland OWS - Update


In a statement released yesterday, Oakland Police admitted to having used bean bag rounds, a controversial projectile that looks like a tiny bean bag but is filled with lead. It was once banned in policing after causing a fatal incident in 1971.


Adele Carpenter, who knows Olsen through his involvement with anti-war groups and is currently visiting him at the hospital, told The Guardian she was “absolutely devastated” that after doing two tours of Iraq and coming home safely, Olsen is now “lying in a U.S. hospital because of the domestic police force.”


Olsen was said to be in “critical condition” on Wednesday night as doctors worked to mitigate swelling on his brain. His condition was upgraded to “fair” by mid-Thursday, and later reports indicated that he’d begun breathing on his own, but still may need major surgery.

Raw Story

Olsen's friend Jordan [Towers] said he was at the march as well. Although he did not see his friend that night, he said the police were out of control. "It's been really disgusting to see them fire indiscriminately into a peaceful crowd," he said. "Being in the military, I know about escalation of force. The police started out at a higher rate of that escalation of force than what was necessary."

Huffington Post

In a video published early Thursday morning, ex-Marine Scott Olsen, the 24-year-old who suffered a fractured skull in Oakland on Tuesday night and is currently in “critical condition,” is seen standing peacefully in front of a police barricade next to a uniformed sailor just moments before officers deployed chemical agents to disperse the crowd.

While the video does not show what hit Olsen, it suggests that he was shot in the head by a tear gas canister at near point-blank range. Olsen did not appear to be provoking officers, who’d repeatedly announced their intent to disperse what they’d declared an “unlawful assembly.” Others speculated that he was hit by a beanbag round fired from a shotgun.

Raw Story

You can send cards and/or money to: U.S.M.C. Scott Olsen, Highland Hospital, 1411 East 31st Street, Oakland, CA 94602.


Rep. John Kline (R-MN), who chairs the House Education and Workforce Committee, isn’t happy with President Obama’s executive action aimed at helping students pay back college loans.

House Republicans, he said, believe the presidential push to scale back students’ monthly payments will only increase overall student debt and do nothing to curb unemployment.

“Sadly, the President has once again chosen to put politics before policy, touting a plan that will do nothing to help the nation’s unemployed workers,” Kline said.


I don’t know…It might keep some students IN college and prevent them becoming unemployed workers. Does that not count?

Also, he’d better speak to his bankster backers, because I’m sure they’d be very happy to extend those loans, resulting in more interest for them. Debt is how this country fuels its wars.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Shut 'Er Down

Surprise! The deficit Super Committee is gridlocked! Because Republicans don’t want to raise taxes revenues at all.

And with less than a month to go before the Committee’s statutory deadline, the GOP’s leading lights and the stars of the conservative movement aren’t relenting one bit, leaving the panel’s Republicans little room to maneuver.


....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Counter Occupation

We may soon see the American military regime occupying its own streets (which won’t be a first, but the timing would be poignant.)

A Marine veteran protesting with “Occupy Oakland” sustained a skull fracture Tuesday night after being shot in the head with appears to be a tear gas canister.

Scott Olsen, a two-time Iraq war veteran and member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, was at 14th Street and Broadway when he was struck in the head.


As Olsen was carried away, he appeared unconscious and bloody, unable to even respond when asked his name.

He is currently sedated at a local hospital awaiting examination by a neurosurgeon and is in a “critical condition” condition, according to The Guardian.


According to the San Francisco Chronicle, some protesters threw paint at the officers and chanted, “This is why we call you pigs.” Some also set trash cans on fire.

The back window of a California Highway Patrol cruiser was also smashed.

More than 100 were reportedly arrested Tuesday night. Two officers were reportedly injured.

Raw Story

An estimated 1,500 Occupy Oakland supporters regrouped in front of City Hall on Wednesday where they tore down police barricades that had been erected around the city's main plaza.

An activist, who asked not to be named, told Al Jazeera police told her earlier on Wednesday that they were preparing for "round two" of street battles.

After a "general assembly" process, in which decisions are made by consensus, the group announced it would call for a general strike in Oakland for November 2.

The group then began a peaceful march through Oakland's central business district.

"We were going to head to San Francisco because they were getting evicted, but we couldn't because they closed BART [the local metro station]," Patrick Knoll, a protester who has been involved in the organising process since the early planning phase, told Al Jazeera.

The BART station was closed due to "civil disturbance", according to its website.


Shut down the people’s systems. The 99%’s systems. The 1% don’t use BART. I guess they couldn’t get away with shutting down the cell phone service again, due to possible legal liability in the case of an emergency. If the general strike is successful on November 2 in Oakland, however, the 99% will effectively shut down the whole shebang. The 1% don't make money when none of the 99% are at work.

Receiving the most national coverage has been the police action in “Occupy Oakland,” where another slue of arrests were made for a second consecutive day. More than 100 protesters were handcuffed as cops once again used tear gas and weaponry, causing protesters to shout, “Who are you protecting?”

Raw Story

Cracking down on protesters. Isn’t that part of what got Qadafi blacklisted on the Hill?

Also popping up on the national scene was police action at “Occupy Atlanta,” where around 50 protesters were arrested after authorities warned the crowd at Woodruff Park to leave. Protesters sang “We Shall Overcome” as police walked or dragged them out of the park. Among the protestors arrested was State Sen. Vincent Fort (D), who called the police action “overkill.”

Color me jaded. Senator Fort knows how to campaign.

“It’s incredibly frustrating,” said Amy Ritter, an “Occupy Orlando” protester. “We’re obviously out here occupying for significant change, and it’s very important that we maintain a presence. Right now, every day, the rules change. Sometimes we’re allowed to keep materials here, and then all of a sudden, they come in and give us 20 minutes to move everything off property.”

Next will come the rubber bullets and the tear gas.

Seven progressive House candidates and Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) members delivered nearly 36,000 “We stand with the 99%” petitions directly to House Speaker John Boehner’s Capitol Hill office Wednesday afternoon.

The petitions stated: “We stand with the 99% — we need an economy that works for all of us, not just the richest 1%.”

They were received by Boehner’s press secretary after she refused entrance to the group, despite the “welcome” sign on Boehner’s office door.

Raw Story

Hey, at least they got to go inside. I attended a peaceful protest march in Columbia, Missouri, at the invasion of Iraq, and the GOP “representative” wouldn’t even let us inside the building. He sent his lackey down to the parking lot.

“I guess that should really read, ‘Welcome 1%, please come in,’” joked Marko Liias, a Democratic candidate in Washington’s First Congressional District.

The Republican Party doesn’t seem to mind branding itself as the party of the One Percent. The Grand One Percent.

A conservative blogger has been accused of trying to give out marijuana bongs and Che Guevara rolling papers in Zuccotti Park in order to make Occupy Wall Street protesters look criminal.

Raw Story

Surely they haven’t just now started infiltrating. But maybe so. The MSM reportedly hasn’t been quick to pick up on what’s going on, and the one percent have been seen to be pooh-poohing it. Maybe the Grand One Percent and their minions are just now getting a clue. Police action and riots sometimes has that effect on them.

Brazil joins the global protests…

Around 150 Brazilian activists held signs with angry slogans in downtown Rio de Janeiro in an “Occupy Rio” protest inspired by similar demonstrations in Spain and the United States.

“2012 Is the End of the Capitalist World,” read one sign. “Why is the world for everyone, but so many people are hungry?” asked another.

The activists, inspired by the “outrage” protests in Madrid and the “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrators in New York, moved into Rio over the weekend and are staying in tents pitched in the Cinelandia Plaza.

Raw Story

And an update in London…

A senior official at St Paul’s Cathedral in London said he had resigned on Thursday amid a dispute over the closure of the building due to anti-capitalist protesters camped outside.

Canon Giles Fraser, the chancellor of St Paul’s and the third most senior official at the landmark church in the British capital’s financial district, said he was quitting with “great regret and sadness”.

Reports said he was sympathetic to the protest camp and disagreed with a decision last week to close the cathedral over health and safety issues caused by the “Occupy London Stock Exchange” protest.

Raw Story

Good for you, padre.

On a related note...

Hundreds of Yemeni women set fire to veils on Wednesday in protest at the government's crackdown on demonstrators, after overnight clashes in the capital and another city left 25 people dead, officials said.

Women have taken a key role in the uprising against President Ali Abdullah Saleh's authoritarian rule. This month the Yemeni activist Tawakkul Karman was awarded the Nobel peace prize along with two Liberian women, for their struggle for women's rights.

UK Guardian

Like the '60s American women who burned their bras, eh?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"Friends of Libya"

Yes, they are actually called that. The countries who only want to help Libyans be free.

And while they are busy dividing up the spoils, NTC's Jalil would like to remind NATO that he still needs air power, Qadafi dead notwithstanding.

NATO, whose air attacks backed National Transitional Council (NTC) forces that overthrew Gaddafi in August, is to decide on Friday whether to end its mission after his death and burial in the past week and a liberation declaration by the NTC.


NATO should stay involved in Libya until the end of this year to help prevent loyalists of Muammar Gaddafi from leaving the country, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the interim leader, has said.


Ooops, wrong picture. Even then, he wasn't really part of the group, was he?

Okay, here we's Friends of Libya....

That group includes Bahrain, a country whose ruler, while wanting Libyans to be free (and being a "friend of the US, to boot") is busy beating back his own protesters longing to be free.

I did see a picture that included some grinning American military people, but I can't find it now. This is a good substitute, though, don't you think?

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

You Don't Occupy Oakland

Not if the police can help it. And they can.

Police fired tear gas at “Occupy Oakland” protesters on Tuesday night as a group of hundreds assembled outside City Hall. Early Tuesday morning, hundreds of police surrounded protesters at their small tent city in Frank H. Ogawa Plaza. The police firing tear gas and beanbag rounds to clear the protesters and arrested 85 people.

Raw Story

This isn’t the Oakland Police Department’s first dance with protesters. They do not intend to have any more riots. Peaceful or not, you don’t protest in Oakland without serious consequences. (Same goes for Seattle and Miami, so watch yourselves.)

Obama addressed the issue of unrest during a television appearance on Tuesday night.

"Look, people are frustrated," he told Jay Leno. "And that frustration expresses itself in a lot of different ways. It expressed itself in the Tea party, it's expressing itself in Occupy Wall Street … Everybody needs to understand that the American people feel that no one is looking out for them right now."

UK Guardian

Where on earth would they get an idea like that?

And speaking of police…

Eight New York City policemen were charged on Tuesday with helping run a gun-smuggling ring in a city whose mayor, Michael Bloomberg, is leading a national campaign against illegal guns.

The men were accused of exploiting their experience and credentials to take part in schemes to illegally transport guns, slot machines, cigarettes and counterfeit goods across state lines, a criminal complaint released by the U.S. District Attorney’s Office said.

Raw Story

Have to supplement that measly income somehow. Pay for that health care post 9/11.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Timing Is Everything

If Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell doesn’t want to be portrayed as a “villain,” he should stop acting like one. On Sunday, McConnell complained about President Obama’s efforts to make Republicans the bad guys for blocking his jobs bill. Now Obama’s taking the fight directly to McConnell, and it’s about time.

  Joan Walsh

No, dear. It’s campaign time.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

"Pardon My Position; I Believe It Is Way Above Yours"

It is now perfectly common, and perfectly acceptable, to openly advocate elite immunity. And this advocacy has had its intended effect: the United States has become a nation that does not apply the rule of law to its elite class, which is another way of saying that the United States does not apply the rule of law.


Although there have been episodes of unpunished elite malfeasance throughout American history, the explicit, systematic embrace of the notion that such malfeasance should be shielded from legal consequences begins with the Watergate scandal— one of the clearest cases of widespread, deliberate criminality at the highest level of the U.S. government.

By the scandal’s conclusion, few contested that not only Nixon’s top aides but Nixon himself had committed serious felonies— either in authorizing the break-in and related illegalities, or in obstructing the ensuing investigation.


[Gerald] Ford first explained his decision to pardon Nixon in a speech to the nation on September 8, 1974. The new president began by paying lip service to the rule of law: “I deeply believe in equal justice for all Americans, what ever their station or former station. The law, whether human or divine, is no respecter of persons; but”— and here he tacked on a newly concocted amendment designed to gut that phrase’s meaning—“the law is a respecter of reality.” Ford then proceeded to recite what have by now become the standard clichés our political class uses to justify immunity.


The Nixon pardon, and the way it was sold to the country, became the template for justifying elite immunity. Nowadays, with only rare exceptions, each time top members of the nation’s political class are caught committing a crime, the same reasons are hauled out to get them off the hook. Prosecuting public officials mires us in a “divisive” past when we should be looking forward. It is wrong to “criminalize policy disputes”— meaning crimes committed with the use of political power. Political elites who commit crimes in carrying out their duties are “well-intentioned” and so do not deserve to be treated as if they were common criminals; moreover, politicians who are forced out of office and have their reputations damaged already “suffer enough.” To prosecute them would only engender a cycle of retribution. Political harmony thus trumps the need to enforce the rule of law.


The actual beneficiary of the pardon, of course, was not “Americans” but Richard Nixon. Thanks to Ford’s act, Nixon himself was shielded from the kind of punishment that, as a “law-and-order” Republican, he had devoted his career to imposing on ordinary Americans when they broke the law.


It is in the interest of every member of the privileged political and financial class, regardless of role or position, to maintain the vitality of this immunity. And what we have seen over the last decade is the inevitable by-product of elite immunity: pervasive, limitless elite corruption and criminality.

  Glenn Greenwald

I’ll have to agree with Greenwald, with the caveat that it didn’t start with Nixon. There has long been something as ridiculous as “diplomatic immunity” in place, and prior to Nixon, presidents were better shielded from their crimes – perhaps Nixon was unique in that he was such a mental case that he didn’t allow himself to be better shielded. At any rate, elite immunity has also always been a part of our legal system, it just hasn’t been so well used in politics until Bush II. Other presidents could be accused and justly charged with war crimes, they just weren’t accompanied by systematic torture and they were generally more limited in geographical scope at least. Mark Twain railed about the issue quite often, and since then, the Spanish American War, both world wars and frankly, every war since has come with political aspirations and designs on Empire that included faked or manipulated acts by “the enemy.” Acts of military aggression are war crimes. When was the last time a foreign army invaded and we put our military to use to defend ourselves? Nevertheless, we have kept it busy.

At any rate, the Greenwald quote is from his new book, should you wish to investigate further: With Liberty and Justice for Some. You can just read the cited article if you’d like to have the exact - disgusting - words that Gerald Ford used to “justify” his pardon of Nixon. Words which were praised by Dick Cheney, of course, and parroted by many, including President #Compromise, since then in defense of the continued policy of “looking forward.”

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

President Suave and Nonchalant

President #Compromise told Jay Leno what he thought about the capture and killing of Muammar Qadafi: “he had an opportunity during the Arab Spring to finally let loose of his grip on power and peacefully transition to democracy. “We gave him ample opportunity, and he wouldn’t do it.” And “it sends a strong message around the world to dictators.” (Except the ones we support, of course.) And what is that message? My guess is that you can never know just when we'll turn on you. One day we're propping you up, playing along, the next, we're taking you out. You might want to see if you can acquire some nuclear weapons as a precaution.

Leno also asked him if he watched the GOP debates, and his smarmy reply was that he was waiting for everybody to be “voted off the island.” “Once they narrow it down to one or two, I’ll start paying attention.”

What a funny guy.

He’s not worried. He hasn’t even started paying attention.

Barack Obama’s aides and advisers are preparing to center the president’s reelection campaign on a ferocious personal assault on Mitt Romney’s character and business background, a strategy grounded in the early-stage expectation that the former Massachusetts governor is the likely GOP nominee.


....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Libya has bowed to international pressure and announced it will investigate last week's killing of Muammar Gaddafi.


Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, head of the ruling National Transitional Council (NTC), said it had set up a committee to look into the circumstances of the deaths of Gaddafi and his son Mutassim in Sirte.

  UK Guardian

And I’m sure you can expect them to be completely honest and transparent.

"All Libyans wanted to prosecute him over what he did to them, from executions to imprisonment, corruption, wasting their money. Those who have an interest in killing him before prosecuting him are those who had an active role with him."

See? Nothing to worry about. It was his co-devils who killed him. But we already knew that. It was early reported that one of his own shot him in the chest. The guy caught on camera shoving a shiv up his ass while he’s being marched away will be harder to explain. And the bullet in his head after his capture….I’m sure Jalil will figure it all out. If not, we have plenty of advisers who know how to make these reports. We are old hands at that.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.


Your window for capturing an Israeli citizen and having him traded for your citizens imprisoned in Israel is open.

Israel will release 25 Egyptian prisoners in exchange for a man with dual US-Israeli nationality who was imprisoned in Egypt on espionage suspicions, the Israeli prime minister's office has said in a statement.

Ilan Grapel was arrested in Cairo on June 12 and has been held without charge since. Egypt's state TV confirmed that a deal was made and said the swap would be carried out on Thursday.


Israeli officials said Grapel's release is not connected to the Palestinian prisoner swap. They were speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.


Sure, no connection at all. Just a coincidence.

I suppose they could hardly leave Grapel there considering the big deal just made for Gilad Shalit. I wonder if Grapel feels the sting of being worth only 25 prisoners, as opposed to Shalit’s thousand.

The [Israeli] statement said there are no "security prisoners" on the list, Israeli shorthand for fighters.

Not exactly shorthand, is it? I mean, it’s about twice as long as the word “fighters.”

Anyway, so if they are Egyptian and not “security prisoners” what are they doing in Israeli jails, and why does Egypt want them back?

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

The Joys of Flying

A TSA "agent" thought it was his (probably a fair assumption it was a "he") right not only to look through an airline passenger's belongings, but to leave her a little personal note as well.

The TSA’s security process has grown tremendously since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Gone are the days of quick security checkpoints and simple metal detectors, and in their place, invasive searches, a lengthy list of prohibited people and items items, and even machines that can see beneath people’s clothing, have become the new norms at virtually every U.S. airport.


A feminist blogger traveling to Dublin, Ireland recently made an unsettling discovery in her luggage: a U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent had searched the bag and found her vibrator, and apparently felt inspired enough to leave a handwritten note.


”[The] fact that a TSA agent would leave a note like that is pretty offensive; it’s definitely inappropriate and unprofessional.”

  Raw Story

Unprofessional? Hourly wage snoops are unprofessional? What’s this world coming too?

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Operation Fox Hunt

In a video statement carried recently by several official channels maintained by members of the hacker activist group “Anonymous,” a digitally generated voice explains that the online collective has decided to take down the Fox News website on Nov. 5th of this year.


“Fox News, your time has come,” it concludes. “Operation Fox Hunt. November 5th. May the hunt begin.”

  Raw Story

Warning AND a huge magnet to attract viewers to Fox. What’s to be unhappy about? Fox will get a lot of mileage out of this.

The date, Nov. 5, is significant for its dramatic placement in the film and comic book “V for Vendetta,” about a freedom-loving terrorist who destroys an authoritarian government that’s come to power in the U.K. “Remember, remember the 5th of November,” is his saying, hearkening back to the “Gunpowder plot” of 1604, in which the terrorist Guy Fawkes was captured and executed for his attempt to blow up Parliament.

So now you know.

The fifth of November is significant for me, too. The Lone Star Motorcycle Rally is scheduled for that weekend here on the island, and my street corner is a high traffic area (with a light - think idling, revving, roaring off). There will be no sleep for me.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

More Than One Way to Skin a Cat

Facing stubborn opposition from Republicans, Obama now plans to unveil economic initiatives that can be issued through executive orders, completely bypassing Congress.

  Raw Story

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

And you thought democracy was dead in this country.