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Gender: Female
Hometown: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Home country: USA
Member since: Thu Sep 25, 2003, 01:04 PM
Number of posts: 85,373

Journal Archives

Judges to Review Constitutionality of NDAA Military Detention Legislation


Chris Hedges, whose column is published Mondays on Truthdig, spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. His book War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (2003) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction. Here he’s interviewed by Paul Jay of the Real News Network.


YVES SMITH: A note on what we still classify as legalities. From the transcript:

HEDGES: In September, Judge Forrest ruled that Section 1021 of the NDAA was in fact unconstitutional, and she issued a permanent injunction. During the trial, she had issued a temporary injunction against that law while it was being challenged in court.

The Obama administration, which had appealed the temporary injunction, filed an emergency appeal against the permanent injunction. ….

I think this has to do with internal dissent. I think that, you know, both the lawyers and myself feel that because they issued an emergency appeal, they reacted so aggressively once Judge Forrest declared this section unconstitutional, they are probably already using the NDAA. This is supposition, but probably they are holding dual Pakistan-U.S. nationals in military facilities like Bagram, because if they weren’t using it, they could have just filed an appeal.

The problem is that once the judge declared the law unconstitutional, if they continue to hold American citizens and deny them access to due process, then they would be in contempt of court. And so the rapid response, the—and it was interesting that it was the Pentagon lawyers that filed this emergency appeal. And the issuance of an emergency stay or temporary stay until the appeal is heard I think essentially is to cover them legally for already putting the NDAA into use. Internally, I really think it has less to do with Iran and a lot more to do with controlling the American public.

YVES: It’s hard to for me to see how the “lesser evil” crowd can sleep at night. The NDAA is an enabling act. What Obama’s doing with it is far worse than anything Bush ever did (granted, that we know of).

Weekend Economists Take a Shot in the Dark, September 28-30, 2012

We lost a treasure this week, Herbert Lom, an actor in several languages, who created and immortalized the role of Chief Inspector Dreyfus in the comedy series "Pink Panther".

Herbert Lom, left, appears with Peter Sellers in "The Pink Panther Strikes Again." Lom's first time out as the long-suffering Charles Dreyfus was in “A Shot in the Dark,” the 1964 follow-up to “The Pink Panther,” writer-director Blake Edwards’ 1963 hit that introduced Sellers as Jacques Clouseau. (Keystone / Getty Images)

Herbert Lom dies at 95; played Chief Inspector Dreyfus in 'Pink Panther' movies


Herbert Lom's memorable character was reduced to eye-twitching madness opposite Peter Sellers' bumbling Inspector Clouseau. The Czech native appeared in scores of films. He was 95. Lom died Thursday in his sleep at his London home, said the actor's son Alec. A Czech native who immigrated to England just before the start of World War II, Lom carved out a prolific career that included a starring role as the King of Siam in the original 1953 London production of "The King and I."

He also appeared in scores of films over more than 60 years, including playing a crime-gang member in "The Ladykillers" (1955), Napoleon in "War and Peace" (1956), a pirate chieftain in "Spartacus" (1960) and the title role in the Hammer Films production of "The Phantom of the Opera" (1962). But he was "badly typecast in British films," Lom told Australia's Daily Telegraph in 1999, "and it needed an American, Blake Edwards, to take me away from endless villainous roles and into the comedy of the Pink Panther films." Lom's first time out as the long-suffering Charles Dreyfus was in "A Shot in the Dark," the 1964 follow-up to "The Pink Panther," writer-director Edwards' 1963 hit that introduced Sellers as Jacques Clouseau. "I was invited to have lunch at the Dorchester with Blake Edwards," Lom told the Edinburgh Evening News in 2002. "He told me he had seen me playing heavy villains and thought I was funny.

"At first I didn't take it as a compliment. But then he explained that he did not want a comic actor who would play Dreyfus for laughs." Lom viewed his involvement in the Pink Panther films playing "a blithering idiot named Inspector Dreyfus," as a highlight of his career. "I loved playing the part of a blabbering lunatic of a police inspector," he said. "I think people like to see the police in such trouble; they enjoy seeing the inspector reduced to an utter, twitching wreck." The twitch was Lom's idea. "I had a scene with Peter in my office," he told the (London) Independent in 2004. "He said something like, 'Don't worry chief, I'll settle it,' and gave me an encouraging wink. So I started winking out of nervousness and couldn't stop." It wasn't in the script, he said, but Edwards loved it.

"But it became a problem," Lom said. "I made those films for 20 years, and after 10 years they ran out of good scripts. They used to say to me, 'Herbert, wink here, wink.' And I said, 'I'm not going to wink. You write a good scene and I won't have to wink.'"

Born Herbert Charles Angelo Kuchacevich ze Schluderpacheru in Prague on Sept. 11, 1917, Lom attended Prague University and studied acting at the Prague School of Acting. He already had been in a couple of films before leaving Czechoslovakia for England in early 1939. After launching his career in England and serving as a radio announcer for the BBC's Czech-language section during the war, he became a British citizen. Lom, who had signed a seven-year-contract with 20th Century Fox in the in the early '50s, was refused an entry visa by the U.S. government, he told Australia's Daily Telegraph in 1999.

"No reason was given," he said. "It was clearly political. I was judged to be a 'fellow traveler' and a victim of the anti-Communist fever at that time in America. My political inclinations were certainly leftish, but I had never been a member of the Communist Party."

A big acting break came in 1953 when he was offered the part of the King of Siam in the West End production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "The King and I." He played the king for two years and received rave reviews, including one from critic Kenneth Tynan, who wrote, "The show took Drury Lane by typhoon last night and Mr. Lom is practically an act of God."

Among Lom's later credits are the 1970s horror films "Asylum," "And Now the Screaming Starts!" and "Count Dracula" (opposite Christopher Lee) and the 1983 film "The Dead Zone."

He also wrote two novels, "Enter a Spy: The Double Life of Christopher Marlowe" (1978) and "Dr. Guillotine: The Eccentric Exploits of an Early Scientist" (1992).

Besides his son Alec, Lom is survived by another son, Nicholas; a daughter, Josephine; and seven grandchildren.

...Mr. Lom’s first major Hollywood successes were “The Seventh Veil” (1945), with James Mason, in which he played a psychiatrist treating a suicidal musician, and Jules Dassin’s noir masterpiece “Night and the City” (1950), in which he played a chilling but remorseful gangster.

But he flourished in comedy as well, notably alongside Sellers and Alec Guinness in “The Ladykillers” (1955) and later as the twitchy, long-suffering Chief Inspector Dreyfus, who is eventually driven insane by Sellers’s bumbling Inspector Clouseau. He played Dreyfus in seven Pink Panther movies, from “A Shot in the Dark” (1964) to “Son of the Pink Panther” (1993), which was made 13 years after Sellers’s death and starred Roberto Benigni as Clouseau’s son...


Lom was born Herbert Karel Angelo Kuchačevič ze Schluderpacheru in Prague to Karl Kuchačevič ze Schluderpacheru, and his spouse, the former Olga Gottlieb.[3][4] Lom himself claimed that his family had been ennobled and the family title dated from 1601.[1] Lom's film debut was in the Czech film Žena pod křížem ("A Woman Under Cross" followed by the Boží mlýny ("Mills of God".

His early film appearances were mainly supporting roles, with the occasional top billing. At this time he also changed his impractically long surname to Lom ("a quarry" in Czech) – because it was the shortest he found in local phone book.

Lom escaped to England in January 1939 because of the impending Nazi occupation of the rest of Czechoslovakia. He made numerous appearances in British films throughout the 1940s, usually in villainous roles, although he later appeared in comedies as well. He managed to escape being typecast as a European heavy by securing a diverse range of castings, including as Napoleon Bonaparte in The Young Mr. Pitt (1942), and again in the 1956 version of War and Peace. He secured a seven-picture Hollywood contract after World War II but was unable to obtain an American visa for "political reasons".[5] In a rare starring role, Lom played twin trapeze artists in Dual Alibi (1946)...--wikipedia

RIP, Chief Inspector.

This Presidential Race Should Never Have Been This Close MATT TAIBBI

...The mere fact that Mitt Romney is even within striking distance of winning this election is an incredible testament to two things: a) the rank incompetence of the Democratic Party, which would have this and every other election for the next half century sewn up if they were a little less money-hungry and tried just a little harder to represent their ostensible constituents, and b) the power of our propaganda machine, which has conditioned all of us to accept the idea that the American population, ideologically speaking, is naturally split down the middle, whereas the real fault lines are a lot closer to the 99-1 ratio the Occupy movement has been talking about since last year.

Think about it. Four years ago, we had an economic crash that wiped out somewhere between a quarter to 40% of the world's wealth, depending on whom you believe. The crash was caused by an utterly disgusting and irresponsible class of Wall Street paper-pushers who loaded the world up with deadly leverage in pursuit of their own bonuses, then ran screaming to the government for a handout (and got it) the instant it all went south.

These people represent everything that ordinarily repels the American voter. They mostly come from privileged backgrounds. Few of them have ever worked with their hands, or done anything like hard work. They not only don't oppose the offshoring of American manufacturing jobs, they enthusiastically support it, financing the construction of new factories in places like China and India. They've relentlessly lobbied the government to give themselves tax holidays and shelters, and have succeeded at turning the graduated income tax idea on its head by getting the IRS to accept a sprawling buffet of absurd semantic precepts, like the notions that "capital gains" and "carried interest" are somehow not the same as "income."

The people in this group inevitably support every war that America has even the slimmest chance of involving itself in, but neither they nor their children ever fight in these conflicts. They are largely irreligious and incidentally they do massive amounts of drugs, from cocaine on down, but almost never suffer any kind of criminal penalty for their behavior.

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/this-presidential-race-should-never-have-been-this-close-20120925#ixzz27cUfvOyk

Feast of Fools How US Democracy Became the Property of a Commercial Oligarchy By Lewis H. Lapham


The ritual performance of the legend of democracy in the autumn of 2012 promises the conspicuous consumption of $5.8 billion, enough money, thank God, to prove that our flag is still there. Forbidden the use of words apt to depress a Q Score or disturb a Gallup poll, the candidates stand as product placements meant to be seen instead of heard, their quality to be inferred from the cost of their manufacture. The sponsors of the event, generous to a fault but careful to remain anonymous, dress it up with the bursting in air of star-spangled photo ops, abundant assortments of multiflavored sound bites, and the candidates so well-contrived that they can be played for jokes, presented as game-show contestants, or posed as noble knights-at-arms setting forth on vision quests, enduring the trials by klieg light, until on election night they come to judgment before the throne of cameras by whom and for whom they were produced.

Best of all, at least from the point of view of the commercial oligarchy paying for both the politicians and the press coverage, the issue is never about the why of who owes what to whom, only about the how much and when, or if, the check is in the mail. No loose talk about what is meant by the word democracy or in what ways it refers to the cherished hope of liberty embodied in the history of a courageous people.

The campaigns don’t favor the voters with the gratitude and respect owed to their standing as valuable citizens participant in the making of such a thing as a common good. They stay on message with their parsing of democracy as the ancient Greek name for the American Express card, picturing the great, good American place as a Florida resort hotel wherein all present receive the privileges and comforts owed to their status as valued customers, invited to convert the practice of citizenship into the art of shopping, to select wisely from the campaign advertisements, texting A for Yes, B for No.

The sales pitch bends down to the electorate as if to a crowd of restless children, deems the body politic incapable of generous impulse, selfless motive, or creative thought, delivers the insult with a headwaiter’s condescending smile. How then expect the people to trust a government that invests no trust in them? Why the surprise that over the last 30 years the voting public has been giving ever-louder voice to its contempt for any and all politicians, no matter what their color, creed, prior arrest record, or sexual affiliation? The congressional disapproval rating (78% earlier this year) correlates with the estimates of low attendance among young voters (down 20% from 2008) at the November polls.

If democracy means anything at all (if it isn’t what the late Gore Vidal called “the national nonsense-word”), it is the holding of one’s fellow citizens in thoughtful regard, not because they are beautiful or rich or famous, but because they are one’s fellow citizens....


Weekend Economists' Harvest Ball September 21-23, 2012

That's a nice, ambiguous title, don't you think?

It could be a typo, and the proper spelling is "bawl", for example. When I contemplate the fact that this week I worked outside of the home 16 extra hours (meaning a corresponding 16 hours' loss for home, condo work, SMW, and WEE), plus it was board meeting Tuesday, I would be bawling if I weren't so tired and monumentally confused.

Or it could be "brawl", as in goings on in the financial world. Oh, they haven't broken out the artillery (yet), but the central bankers are printing as if their lives depended on it, while the banksters are frantically searching for something that isn't going down the minute the sovereigns let up on the gas.

Or we could just go with the given, and celebrate the end of 100+ temps and perhaps the end of the drought, in spots at least, and probably only temporarily, but we'll take what we can get.


Let us know your thoughts, post music, art, and scandal, economic or not...

“Bad banks” seldom turn a profit but are still useful


“IT WILL be viable and will not post losses,” promised Luis de Guindos, Spain’s finance minister, on August 31st, as he unveiled plans for a “bad bank” to take over the dud property assets of Spain’s troubled lenders. Experience suggests that such pledges are not easily kept.

  • America’s Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC), for instance, was set up in 1989 to clean up savings-and-loans institutions with $394 billion in assets. The process cost taxpayers almost $76 billion.

  • The example of Sweden’s widely admired bad bank in the 1990s is even less encouraging. Sweden’s bank regulators vigorously marked down souring assets, forced banks to recapitalise (or be nationalised) and moved dud loans into specialised asset-management companies. This was to allow cleaned-up lenders to operate as “good banks” that lent to the real economy. Judged by its overall impact the Swedish bad bank was a success: growth bounced back quite quickly. But the cost to taxpayers was high. Sweden paid about 4% of its GDP to bail out its financial system, yet got back only about half of that from selling off loans and stakes in banks.

  • More reassuring to Spanish taxpayers is Maiden Lane, a vehicle created by the New York Federal Reserve to house assets owned by Bear Stearns and AIG that have turned out to be less toxic than expected. In June this year Maiden Lane repaid in full (and with interest) the money it had borrowed to fund its purchases. It still has some assets left to sell, so the government will probably turn a profit on the deal, in contrast to earlier estimates that it might lose as much as $6 billion on its $29 billion in assets from Bear Stearns alone.

  • Another relative success may be found in Britain’s bad bank, which took over some of the loans issued by Northern Rock, and all of the ones held by Bradford & Bingley. By the end of June 2012 it had £90 billion ($141 billion) on its books, on which it seems to be turning a profit thanks to cheap funding from the government. British taxpayers have fared rather worse with nominally good banks: the government’s equity stakes in Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland have fallen in value by over £30 billion.

  • Ireland’s bad bank, the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA), also seems to be doing fairly well in managing the €74 billion ($93 billion) in loans it took over, mainly because it bought the assets from Irish banks for just €32 billion. Yet it is now in the invidious position of being a long-term manager of a large portfolio of state-owned properties with all the risks of political interference that this entails.

    These precedents suggest a few lessons for Spain’s bad bank. The first is to be conservative when valuing the assets that will go into the bad bank, even if this imposes steeper losses on the banks handing them over. Cautious valuations will help set a floor for property markets and make it easier for the bad bank to sell assets quickly.

    A second lesson is that borrowing costs matter. Bad banks in Britain and America turned good because they could borrow cheaply. Unless Spain’s borrowing costs fall sharply, the government will be hard-pressed to make a turn on even deeply discounted banking assets. Last is the lesson from Sweden and the RTC, that bad banks may be judged successful even if they incur large losses. Rather than promising profits, Mr de Guindos might do well to start reminding people of that.
  • The Next Industrial Revolution Starts in this 20-foot Shipping Container


    The guys at Re-Char, a small startup that makes carbon-negative products, were faced with a problem. They wanted to ship products to Kenya, but the options available were wasteful, costly, and not nearly as efficient as simply manufacturing near to the customers. To do it, in a place with little industry or infrastructure, Re-Char designed something new—a fully functioning, off-the-grid factory inside a shipping container. It worked. It worked so well, in fact, that Re-Char will now send the self-sufficient, open-source Shop-in-a Box anywhere in the world. It's hard to exaggerate how significantly life can change for a community once one of these shipping containers shows up.

    (Brent reported live from Burning Man, in a possibly fruitless attempt to convince Joe that this trip should not come out of his vacation time.)

    Like the gang from ReAllocate, Re-Char came to Burning Man to prove a product could work in a harsh environment. In this example, the Shop-in-a-Box performed rapid fabrication, using software to make quick designs, and then turned to a CNC plasma torch to cut the pattern out of a sheet of steel. The two-foot long demo, a Gizmodo logo, was cut out in about a minute. It was damned impressive, but what was the point? From Re-Char's perspective, the shop was a means to make the Climate Kiln, a specialized lid and chimney that adapts a 55-gallon drum so it can make the soil amendment biochar. (Quick background: In Kenya, farmers typically burn sugarcane debris in an open field, releasing tons of carbon. A Climate Kiln controls the burn to produce biochar, a carbon-rich charcoal that, mixed into soil, lets farmers use half the fertilizer they'd normally need to make crops thrive. In fact, crops grow even better with it.)

    "To make these kilns, we needed to precision-cut 18-gauge metal in western Kenya," recalled Re-Char's CTO Luke Iseman. "The two main options we had were local labor—a guy with an oxy-acetylene torch literally on the side of the highway—or full-production runs out of China, a shipping container at a time." The team realized that for $30,000, including transportation, Re-Char could create a metal cutting and joining setup that could make about 600 of lids a month. A staff of two could run the factory. "It ended up being the right way to do production, even if you only look at the financial end of it," he said. Beyond being the most cost-effective, it was also the greenest—both from a manufacturing and shipping standpoint. "This is actually taking the factory to where the demand exists," Re-Char's CEO, Jason Aramburu, said. "You greatly reduce transportation. You shrink it down. It's possible to run it off of renewables and/or totally off-grid. It's a fully-integrated manufacturing center inside of a 20-foot shipping container."

    Once the factory was set up, it became a center of innovation. Re-Char was able to continue honing the kiln design even as it was in production. The facility could make new products to meet the needs of the locals, and they could do it extremely quickly. "This kind of capacity doesn't really exist in East Africa," Aramburu said. "There are maybe two CNC plasmas in East Africa right now, and we're one of them." Their group's ultimate goal is to become a global network of Shop-in-a-Box factories. The design is open-source, and you can build one yourself from Re-Char's list of components. Or, for $50,000, you can buy one directly from the designers. Compared to the cost of owning a full-sized factory with the same capabilities, that's a bargain. Here's what a nascent company buying a Shop-In-a-Box can currently expect to receive:

  • A CNC table, working envelope 4'x4'x6", capable of running a plasma torch or wood-cutting router.

  • Solar panels plus batteries and inverters, adequate to power the shop's computers and hand tools.

  • A generator adequate to power the shop while the welders and plasma CNC do production work.

  • Transformers, capable of scrubbing irregular grid power so it's safe for use in the shop.

  • 2 plasma torches—one for CNC use, one for hand operation. Each can sever metal up to 3/4″ and sustain cutting in any thickness metal from 1/2″ to 22-gauge.

  • Full MIG, TIG, and oxyacetylene welders, to join a wide variety of metals.

  • Electronics prototyping, focused on through-hole components and arduino microcontrollers.

  • Desktop 3D printer.

  • A desktop, aluminum-capable CNC router.

  • A wide variety of small hand and power tools—everything you'd expect in a well-outfitted garage.

  • DVR with 4 cameras, mounted to easily capture and share all details of project builds.

  • Computers and software necessary to support the shop.

  • OCCUPY Weekend Economists! September 14-16, 2012

    I'm glad to note that both SMW and WEE predate the Occupy Movement, even if we had nothing to do with its formation. We are fellow travelers, after all, of the 99%. and if that means opposing the 1%---oh, well!

    The Occupy movement is an international protest movement against social and economic inequality, its primary goal being to make the economic structure and power relations in society more fair. Different local groups have different foci, but among the prime concerns is the claim that large corporations and the global financial system control the world in a way that disproportionately benefits a minority, undermines democracy and is unstable.

    Occupy Wall Street (OWS) was initiated by the Canadian activist group Adbusters and partly inspired by the Arab Spring, especially Cairo's Tahrir Square protests, and the Spanish Indignants. The movement commonly uses the slogan We are the 99%, the #Occupy hashtag format, and organizes through websites such as Occupy Together. http://occupytogether.org/ According to The Washington Post, the movement, which has been described as a "democratic awakening" by Cornel West, is difficult to distill to a few demands. In fact, in a teaser poster for the beginning of Occupy Wall Street, the tagline is: What Is Our One Demand? On October 12, 2011, the Los Angeles City Council became one of the first governmental bodies in the United States to adopt a resolution stating its informal support of the Occupy movement.

    The first Occupy protest to receive wide coverage was Occupy Wall Street in New York City's Zuccotti Park, which began on September 17, 2011. By October 9, Occupy protests had taken place or were ongoing in over 95 cities across 82 countries, and over 600 communities in the United States. Although most popular in the United States, Occupy has seen protests and occupations in dozens of other countries and on every continent except Antarctica. For the first two months of the protest, authorities largely adopted a tolerant approach towards the movement, though this began to change in mid November with over a dozen camps being cleared in both the US and Europe. By the end of 2011 authorities had cleared out most of the major camps. The last remaining high profile camps - at Washington DC and at St Paul's Cathedral in London - were cleared by February 2012.---wikipedia


    Well, It is true. Jesus was not 1%er. Buddha, but gave it up...

    It's Another Victimless Crime

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