Archive for March, 2010

Shades of the language used in 1776

(Chris Hedges, Truthdig, March 31, 2010)
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Lately I’ve been reading Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States and am finding it interesting to see how close some of the essayists of our day are beginning to sound like those from 1776. … Here’s a brief sample. The link above will take you to the full article.

The Democrats and their liberal apologists are so oblivious to the profound personal and economic despair sweeping through this country that they think offering unemployed people the right to keep their unemployed children on their nonexistent health care policies is a step forward. They think that passing a jobs bill that will give tax credits to corporations is a rational response to an unemployment rate that is, in real terms, close to 20 percent. They think that making ordinary Americans, one in eight of whom depends on food stamps to eat, fork over trillions in taxpayer dollars to pay for the crimes of Wall Street and war is acceptable. They think that the refusal to save the estimated 2.4 million people who will be forced out of their homes by foreclosure this year is justified by the bloodless language of fiscal austerity. The message is clear. Laws do not apply to the power elite. Our government does not work. And the longer we stand by and do nothing, the longer we refuse to embrace and recognize the legitimate rage of the working class, the faster we will see our anemic democracy die.

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Pentagon Planning to Stay at War for the Next 80 Years

(Tom Hayden, LA Times, March 31, 2010)
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Without public debate and without congressional hearings, a segment of the Pentagon and fellow travelers have embraced a doctrine known as the Long War, which projects an “arc of instability” caused by insurgent groups from Europe to South Asia that will last between 50 and 80 years. According to one of its architects, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan are just “small wars in the midst of a big one.” . . . Consider the audacity of such an idea. An 80-year undeclared war would entangle 20 future presidential terms stretching far into the future of voters not yet born. The American death toll in Iraq and Afghanistan now approaches 5,000, with the number of wounded a multiple many times greater. Including the American dead from 9/11, that’s 8,000 dead so far in the first decade of the Long War. And if the American armed forces are stretched thin today, try to conceive of seven more decades of combat. . . . the concept was polished in “a series of windowless offices deep inside the Pentagon” by a small team that successfully lobbied to incorporate the term into the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review, the nation’s long-term military blueprint. President George W. Bush declared in his 2006 State of the Union message that “our own generation is in a long war against a determined enemy.” . . . Among defense analysts, Andrew J. Bacevich, a Vietnam veteran who teaches at Boston University, is the leading critic of the Long War doctrine, criticizing its origins among a “small, self-perpetuating, self-anointed group of specialists” who view public opinion “as something to manipulate” if they take it into consideration at all. . . . It’s time the Long War strategy was put under a microscope and made the focus of congressional hearings and media scrutiny. The American people deserve a voice in the strategizing that will affect their future and that of their grandchildren.  . . . Who exactly is the enemy in a Long War? Is Al Qaeda (or “Islamic fundamentalism”) considered to be a unitary enemy like the “international communist conspiracy” was supposed to be? Can a Long War be waged with only a blanket authorization against every decentralized group lodged in countries from Europe to South Asia? . . . The underlying issues should be debated now, before the future itself has been drafted for war.

Ruling elites seem to have learned through the generations –consciously or not– that war makes them more secure against internal trouble. —Howard Zinn
(from A People’s History of the United States)

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Déjà vu all over again

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Junk food ‘as addictive as heroin and smoking’

(Andrew Hough, The Telegraph, 29 Mar 2010)
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Bingeing on junk food is as addictive as smoking or taking drugs and could cause compulsive eating and obesity, a study has found.

American researchers found burgers, chips and sausages programmed a human brain into craving even more sugar, salt and fat laden food. . . . Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute in Florida found laboratory rats became addicted on a bad diet just like people who became dependent on cocaine and heroin. . . . the study, published online in Nature Neuroscience, suggests for the first time that our brains may react in the same way to junk food as it does to drugs. . . . “The new study explains what happens in the brain of these animals when they have easy access to high-calorie, high-fat food.” . . . He added: “It presents the most thorough and compelling evidence that drug addiction and obesity are based on the same underlying neurobiological mechanisms.” . . . The very same changes occur in the brains of rats that over consume cocaine or heroin, and are thought to play an important role in the development of compulsive drug use. . . . The scientists fed the rats a diet modelled after the type that contributes to human obesity easy to obtain high-calorie, high-fat foods. Soon after the experiments began, the animals began to bloat. . . . Latest figures show that one in four people in Britain are obese with married people twice as likely to become obese than their single counterparts. . . . Eight in 10 men and almost 7 in 10 women will be overweight or obese by 2020. . . . Cases of devastating health conditions like heart disease, diabetes and stroke will increase with the nation’s waistlines, the recent Government-commissioned Foresight report warned.

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How Lehman’s Hidden Inner Circle Robbed You

(Vicky Ward, Vanity Fair, March 28, 2010)
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Senator Spencer Bacchus, the top Republican on the House Financial Services Committee, wrote that Lehman “used accounting gimmicks to hide its debt and mask its insolvency…More disturbing, the examiner’s report also describes what appear to be significant failings on the part of officials” at the SEC and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. . . . The SEC and FED, after all, were inside Lehman Brothers for the last six months of its life. How did they miss all this? . . . Sen. Chris Dodd, the Senate banking chair has asked former Lehman chief Dick Fuld to return to testify exactly how Lehman misled so many people. . . . an email I received today from one of Lehman’s most senior employees — someone who worked there for 17 years. He wrote to me off the record so I am not at liberty to disclose his identity, but he was very senior and widely respected. . . . He is not the only Lehmanite to have responded to my new book, The Devil’s Casino (Wiley). Many have thanked me for exposing a culture led (and ruined) by a tiny leadership that was egregious, isolated and mendacious. Without exception, Lehman readers have told me I got it absolutely right — and — in particular they have agreed with today’s New York Post‘s article which noted that the book maintains that Lehman’s president Joe Gregory was actually the chief villain at the firm, responsible for much of the over-risky leverage, and not so much Dick Fuld. (Incidentally all the e-mailers and callers have agreed that their wives loathed being “married to Lehman” as the book points out in one chapter.) . . . So, here we have Lehman:  “An inner circle” at the top cut off from the rest. It fires people for telling the truth, and fails to promote the most competent executive until too late…. This culture didn’t spring up in its last few months…it festered for years. Whatever the SEC and FED missed in the bank’s final six months, the cabal at the top was already set in its ways and adept at hiding what it was really doing from not just the SEC, Fed and market — but its own senior management. That really is a horrifying culture, and one I am delighted to have exposed.

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Felony Marijuana Cases Getting Tossed Out Of Court

(PAUL ELIAS, Huffington Post, 03/28/10)
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[C]ases were tossed out along with many other marijuana possession cases in recent weeks because of a California Supreme Court ruling that has police, prosecutors and defense attorneys scrambling to make sense of a gray legal area: What is the maximum amount of cannabis a medical marijuana patient can possess? . . . No one can say for sure how many dismissals and acquittals have been prompted by the ruling, but the numbers are stacking up since the Supreme Court on Jan. 21 tossed out Patrick Kelly’s marijuana possession conviction. . . . The high court struck down a 7-year-old state law that imposed an 8-ounce limit on the amount of pot medical users of marijuana could possess. The court said patients are entitled to a “reasonable” amount of the drug to treat their ailments. . . . Law enforcement officials say the ruling has made the murky legal landscape of marijuana policy in California even more challenging to enforce. . . . Prosecutors are backing away from some cases filed before the court ruling. . . . A closely-watched Sacramento case was expected to help clarify what a reasonable amount of medical marijuana is. But it further muddied the question. . . . The jury acquitted Matthew Zugsberger of a felony possession charge but convicted him of a felony charge of marijuana transportation for trying to take three pounds of marijuana from the Sacramento airport to New Orleans in 2008. The jury, which deliberated for more than three days, also convicted Zugsberger of a misdemeanor possession charge. In the end, nothing was solved. . . . “The jury was absolutely confused,” said his attorney Grant Pegg. “What is reasonable is an absolutely gray area.” . . . Despite the confusion, there does not appear to be a political push to develop guidelines, which the Supreme Court said must be done by voters. . . . Law enforcement lobbying arms, such as the California District Attorney Association, steer clear of most medical marijuana issues because of the wide variety of views of the law. . . . “It is different than a lot of areas in criminal law where there is a consensus,”

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A Mountain Bike Run To Remember

I could watch these guys all day … what an incredible mountain bike run this is.

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Sinead O’Connor: ‘There should be a full criminal investigation of the pope’

(Henry Chu, LA Times, March 24, 2010)
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She shot to fame 20 years ago with her shaved head, chiseled cheeks and haunting rendition of the song “Nothing Compares 2 U.” Then she gained notoriety when she tore up a photo of Pope John Paul II on American TV, calling him “the enemy” and urging people to fight child abuse. . . . Sinead O’Connor is still singing. And she’s still speaking out against abuse — only now her 1992 stunt on “Saturday Night Live” almost seems prescient as the Roman Catholic Church faces a growing catalog of complaints about child sexual and physical assault by priests in her Irish homeland and across Europe. . . . Such mistreatment was rampant here in Ireland, going back decades. By 1987, the Irish church was alarmed enough that it took out an insurance policy against future lawsuits and claims for compensation stemming from sexual-abuse allegations. . . . O’Connor, now 43 and a mother of four, spoke to The Times on Tuesday at her seaside home in Bray, south of Dublin, about the abuse scandal. . . . Do you feel the pope’s letter was enough? . . . It’s a study in the fine art of lying and actually betraying your own people. . . . He starts by saying that he’s writing with great concern for the people of Ireland. If he was that concerned, why has it taken him 23 years to write a letter, and why did he or the last pope never get on an airplane and come to meet the victims in any of these countries and apologize? . . . The letter sells the Irish [church] hierarchy downriver by stating again and again that the Irish hierarchy has somehow acted independently of the Vatican. . . . The documents are there to prove that that’s a lie. . . . .If you were the boss of a company and some of the employees of your company were known to sexually abuse children, you would fire them instantly. You would also go instantly to meet the people who had been abused and profusely apologize and offer your help in any way whatsoever to deal with this. . . . That has never happened.

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Little Bush wipes his hands on Blowjob Bill Clinton

(VICTORIA CAVALIERE, NBCNewYork.com, Mar 24, 2010)
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Former Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton clasped hands with residents of one of Haiti‘s massive tent cities yesterday on a tour of its quake-devastated capital — and BBC footage of the meet-and-greet seems to catch Mr. Bush wiping his sweaty hand on Clinton’s back. . . . The move came right after Bush shook hands with an unidentified Haitian man. . . . While many of the homeless welcomed the presidents visit as a sign that the U.S. would continue to supply aid, some said they were disappointed the presidents did not bring anything more tangible. . . . “The visit is like no visit at all. They walked inside, it’s to show off,” said Rene Pierre, a 35-year-old homeless man.

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The Ultimate Statement About Western “Civilization”

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