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Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
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Journal Archives

The October Surprise Mysteries

from Consortium News:

The October Surprise Mysteries
October 22, 2012

With hopes brightening that President Obama is close to a negotiated settlement of the Iran nuclear dispute, Mitt Romney’s campaign is eager to counter any positive news. The moment is reminiscent of past October Surprise moments, says Robert Parry in this article adapted from America’s Stolen Narrative.

By Robert Parry

The phrase “October Surprise” is now part of the American political lexicon, referring to some last-minute event that might change the course of a U.S. presidential election. But the two prototypical “October Surprise” cases, in 1968 and 1980, have never earned a place in mainstream American history.

The October Surprise allegations of 1968 and 1980 also were something of a misnomer since they centered on Republican efforts to block an October Surprise by sabotaging game-changing diplomatic successes by incumbent Democratic presidents. In 1968, it was Lyndon Johnson achieving a breakthrough in the Vietnam War peace talks. In 1980, it was Jimmy Carter securing the release of 52 American hostages held in Iran.

In both cases, the Democratic presidents failed to accomplish their goals and the Republican candidates, Richard Nixon in 1968 and Ronald Reagan in 1980, went on to victories. Yet, these important October Surprise mysteries have remained largely unsolved: Did Republican sabotage actually play a role in the Democratic failures?

Recent disclosures from the National Archives as well as statements from participants have shed new light on these dark chapters of U.S. history – and revealed previously unknown links between the 1968 case and the Watergate scandal of 1972 and between the 1980 Iran-hostage case and the Iran-Contra Affair of 1985-86. The new evidence suggests a more continuous narrative connecting these scandals and thus represents a powerful challenge to the established history. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://consortiumnews.com/2012/10/22/the-october-surprise-mysteries/

Social Policy and Poverty: Don't Fear Europe!

from Dissent magazine:

Social Policy and Poverty: Don't Fear Europe!
Janet Gornick - October 12, 2012

The following is adapted from a talk delivered at the fiftieth anniversary celebration of Michael Harrington’s The Other America, held on September 10, 2012 at the CUNY Graduate Center, and from a Graduate Center Commencement Address, which was delivered on May 24, 2012.

This event caused me to think back to earlier years. My own education in American social policy began intensively in 1980. That year, three events cemented my interest in American poverty and the U.S. public response to it.

First—if you’ll indulge me in a moment of autobiography—I began a job as a social policy researcher at the Urban Institute, a policy research center in Washington. Second, eight weeks after I arrived in D.C., Ronald Reagan was elected president. Shocking as that moment was—for those of us in D.C., and everyone around the world—we didn’t realize then that he would launch a redefinition of America’s poor and a recasting of anti-poverty policy that would affect the United States for decades. And third, that fall I read The Other America. (That was the same year that Michael Harrington added his second epilogue.)

Like so many, I was electrified by The Other America. I reread it again this past weekend, probably for the fourth time, and I still find it electrifying. That said, I think it’s important to acknowledge that elements of the book are clearly dated.

First of all, the face of poverty has changed markedly, in ways that require us to think about needed social policy reforms somewhat differently than Harrington did in 1962. Probably the most dramatic change since 1962 relates to age. When The Other America was written, relative to the whole population, the elderly were much more likely to be poor and children much less so. Today that pattern has reversed. In 2010, nearly 15 percent of Americans were poor (based on the U.S. definition); that number was 9 percent for the elderly and a stunning 22 percent for children. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://dissentmagazine.org/online.php?id=634

Pope Ratz Is No Fan of Russian Punk Rockers (Pussy Riot)

MOSCOW – The Pussy Riot trial last summer captured worldwide attention and support from cultural icons like Madonna, Sting, and Paul McCartney. Now the case has attracted attention from a higher power: the pope. But unlike those musical superstars, Pope Benedict XVI has reportedly backed their condemnation.

The pope’s stance was revealed in comments posted on the website of Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, following the pontiff’s meeting at the Vatican on Tuesday with the patriarch’s external affairs representative.

“Also discussed was the desecration of Christian holy sites in different countries and the act of vandalism at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in particular. Pope Benedict XVI expressed solidarity with the position of the Russian Orthodox Church and also his bewilderment over the reaction of the certain mass media to the events,” the statement on Patriarch Kirill’s website said.

Last month the Russian Orthodox Church urged the women to repent. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/10/pope-is-no-fan-of-russian-punk-rockers/

Billionaires Are Busy Subverting California's Once-Great System of Direct Democracy

AlterNet / By Roy Ulrich

Billionaires Are Busy Subverting California's Once-Great System of Direct Democracy
The public has lost all control of the initiative process in the Golden State.

October 22, 2012 |

A few months ago, I attended a large political gathering where a gentleman was handing out flyers which read, “Abolish the Congress and replace it with direct citizen voting by phone or television.”

A few days later, a newly-arrived transplant to Southern California wrote a letter to The Los Angeles Times . He said he was mystified by California’s method of writing and enacting laws by ballot initiative. He wondered what happened to the concept of laws being written by elected legislators.

The flyer and the letter represent polar opposite views about direct versus representative democracy.

The major complaint I hear about the initiative process is that it is dominated by those very interests it was originally designed to overcome. For one thing, proponents write them as a wish list. Unlike the legislative process, which involves hearings, debates and compromise, drafters of initiatives often write extreme measures representing their own agenda in the hopes of boosting profits, raising their own political profile, or for simple ego gratification. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.alternet.org/election-2012/billionaires-are-busy-subverting-californias-once-great-system-direct-democracy

Keiser Report: David Cameron, King of Chavs & Yobs

Published on Oct 22, 2012 by RussiaToday

In this episode, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert discuss mugging hoodies and asphyxiating economies with cynical bank fiddles and institutionalized fraud. They also review the past 18 months in which "Barclays has been exposed for ripping off the elderly, avoiding £500million in tax, mis-selling payment protection insurance to the tune of £1.5billion, manipulating crucial interest rates and now mis-selling loans to small firms."

THE END IS EXTREMELY F**KING NIGH because of birth control, according to one Ohio order of nuns.....


from CommonDreams:

Birth Control Causes Gay Men, Undesirability, Black Babies, Bestiality, Death and More Gay Men, Say Nuns
by Abby Zimet

An Ohio order of Catholic nuns called the Children Of Mary - "There is so much work to do!" - has released an astonishing video showing that we are all doomed due to the 99% of sexually active women who are contracepting, which actually isn't even a word, but anyway. And more gay men too.

"What is a man to do when the majority of women are contracepting and he no longer finds them desirable?"

Of Course Monsanto Says It’s Safe

Published on Monday, October 22, 2012 by Food & Water Watch Blog
Of Course Monsanto Says It’s Safe

by Tim Schwab

If you’ve been paying attention to the news about food lately, you’ve probably read about the now infamous “Seralini study,” in which University of Caen (France) molecular biologist Gilles-Eric Seralini demonstrated major health issues associated with eating Monsanto’s genetically engineered (GE) corn and the herbicide used in conjunction with it, RoundUp.

Widely covered by the media, most reports have tried to portray Seralini as a strident, ideologically driven researcher who willfully designed a study to produce a result showing that GE food is bad. Many science journalists criticized Seralini for having an anti-GE bias, for taking research money from a foundation that is anti-GE, and for not disclosing every piece of data to the public.

But this attack coverage seems grossly disproportionate given the realities around funding and bias in agricultural research. Science journalists seldom, if ever, cover the opposite angle: that industry has funded much of the scientific literature we have about the safety of GE foods. These industry-funded studies aren’t science as much as they are public relations, always concluding that GE is safe and good. And in our broken regulatory system for these controversial new foods, these industry studies are also what regulators use to approve new genetically engineered crops for our food supply.

Indeed, the strain of corn that Seralini studied, NK603, has been shown in the scientific literature to be safe—in studies done by Monsanto. The company has produced at least seven studies about NK603 – all of them positive – in four peer-reviewed journals. More shocking, at least three of these peer-reviewed journals openly advertise their corporate sponsors from the food industry, like Archer Daniel Midlands and Pioneer. One of these, the Journal of Animal Science is run by the American Society of Animal Science, which counts biotech companies BASF and Monsanto, as gold and silver sponsors. Most of the Monsanto studies include co-authors from public universities, whose names add credibility. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/10/22-2

Experts: Attacking Iran Would Open Global "Pandora's Box"

Published on Monday, October 22, 2012 by LobeLog.com
Oil, Geo-Political Experts Say Attacking Iran Poses Huge Risks

by Jim Lobe

As a bastion of foreign-policy realism, the Center for the National Interest (CNI), formerly the Nixon Center, is known around Washington for hosting very lively discussions among experts, and Friday’s session, entitled “War With Iran: Economic and Military Considerations”, was particularly engaging, and virtually unanimous — and almost unanimously scary — in its conclusions.

The three presenters were Adm. Mark Fitzgerald, who served as deputy commander of U.S. Naval Forces, Central Command and commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe, among many other posts; Geoffrey Kemp, a CNI fellow who served as a Gulf expert on Reagan’s National Security Council; and J. Robinson West, the chairman and founder of PFC Energy who has also held senior positions in the White House, the Energy Department, and the Pentagon under various Republican administrations. Kemp, it should be noted, is working on a major study, due to be released in January, on the issue that was under discussion.

Of the three, West’s assessment was particularly grim. He asserted that Iran, with its arsenal of ballistic and shorter-range missiles and the Revolutionary Guards’ (IRGC) elite Qods Force, could without much difficulty take more than eight million barrels of oil a day off the market — specifically 5 million barrels from Saudi Aramco’s Abqaiq facility and the pipelines that run to the Ras Tannurah terminal on the Gulf just across from Iran (the missiles, he said, may not be too accurate, but “something is going to hit something); another 2.5 million barrels that run through southern Iraq where “the Iranians have a lot of agents” who could presumably wreak havoc on the pipelines; and as much as another one million more barrels that are pumped from the Caspian Sea to Ceyhan, Turkey, on the Mediterranean. (“If Iranians have agents on the ground, these pipelines are very vulnerable,” he said.)

“You could lose eight million barrels a day of production, and it would not come back quickly,” according to West. “We believe the price of oil will go above $200 a barrel,” he said. (Brent crude is currently selling at about $112/barrel.) Moreover, he added, that conclusion does not take account of any Iranian effort to block the Strait of Hormuz (an eventuality which, he said, he believed the US Navy could clean up quite quickly) or the possibility that Tehran may also use its missiles to strike the huge LNG facilities in Qatar. If they did, “the lights go out in South Korea and Japan,” he said. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/10/22

NYT: Lance Armstrong’s Wall of Silence Fell Rider by Rider

Published: October 20, 2012

Floyd Landis, the cyclist who had denied doping for years despite being stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title for failing a drug test, went to a lunch meeting in April 2010 with the director of the Tour of California cycling race.

As they sat down at a table at the Farm of Beverly Hills restaurant in Los Angeles, Landis placed a tape recorder between them and pressed record.

Landis finally wanted to tell the truth: He had doped through most of his professional career. He was recording his confessions so he would later have proof that he had blown the whistle on the sport.

“How do you expect people to believe you when you lied for so long?” Andrew Messick, the race director, asked Landis. “Have you told your mother? Have you told Travis Tygart?” ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/21/sports/how-armstrongs-wall-fell-one-rider-at-a-time.html?ref=sports&_r=0

Frances Fox Piven: The Left needs to proudly support social welfare

from In These Times:

For the Welfare of All
The Left needs to proudly support social welfare.

BY Frances Fox Piven

In this month’s cover story, “The Welfare State of America,” Peter Frase and Bhaskar Sunkara propose that the Left inaugurate an anti-austerity campaign that focuses on the expansion of government social welfare programs. I agree.

The Left should fight for programs that provide health services, educate children, bolster the income of the less-well-off and subsidize housing. The reasons are obvious. The first is a simple moral imperative: A good society strives to meet the basic needs of all its people. The second is that government programs that protect people from the exigencies of labor markets, or of old age, or orphanhood, or disability, make people more secure. A sense of security, the reduction of fear, is a good thing in itself. But it also empowers people, and for that reason is essential to a more democratic society. Workers are far more likely to stand up to their bosses when they know they can fall back on decent unemployment benefits, just as women are more likely to stand up to abusive husbands when they know that they and their children can rely on government income supports.

Frase and Sunkara rightly insist that welfare programs should be centralized. They emphasize the legal constraints that force states and municipalities to balance their budgets, no matter the state of the economy, and that justify the right-wing push for austerity. But there are even more powerful political constraints on welfare-state spending at the sub-national level. Because corporations can pick and choose among locales for investment, they have enormous power over state and local governments. They can demand a “good business climate” of low taxes and low welfare spending, and also extort unseemly subsidies, in exchange for promises of investment.

Americans have a romance with decentralization that the Right encourages. But a government geographically closer to the people is not necessarily more responsive. As Frase and Sunkara demonstrate, a federal system that assigns welfare-state spending to the state and local level is fundamentally biased against the program and its constituents. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/14035/for_the_welfare_of_all

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