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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 74,622

Journal Archives

Max Keiser: Honey, I Shrunk The Brokers

Snakes on a Plane.....Almost

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Surprised airport workers in Argentina found hundreds of wriggling poisonous snakes and endangered reptiles inside the baggage of a Czech man who was about to board a flight to Spain.

Karel Abelovsky, 51, was made to open his baggage at Buenos Aires' international airport after police spotted reptiles in the X-ray scanner. They found 247 exotic and endangered species in all, packed inside plastic containers, bags and even socks, each labeled in Latin with their scientific names.

"The airport workers couldn't believe it when they saw the movement inside the suitcase. It was like an animated cartoon," a source in the office of Judge Marcelo Aguinsky said Tuesday. The source spoke on condition of anonymity because the judge's investigation isn't complete.

Abelovsky was released on about $2,500 bail after surrendering his passport and is refusing to talk even though he faces up to 10 years in prison. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/27/snakes-on-plane-argentina_n_1171601.html?ref=world

Thomas Frank: The Tea Party’s “utopian market populism”

from Salon.com:


Early in the book, you describe the moment in the spring of 2009 when free-market economics had been so thoroughly discredited that Newsweek could run a cover story proclaiming, “We’re all socialists now.” What happened? Why did that moment dissipate?

I saw that cover so many times [at Tea Party events]. For these people, that rang the alarm bell. I think the AIG moment [when the bailed-out insurance behemoth used taxpayer relief to dole out huge bonuses to its executives] was in some ways the high point of the crisis, when [the politics] could have gone either way. There was this amazing public outrage, and that for me was the turning point. Newsweek had another cover, “Thinking Man’s Guide to Populism,” and I remember this feeling around the country, that people were just furious. Somehow the right captured the sense of anger. They completely captured it. You could say they had no right to it, but they did. And one of the reasons they were able to do it was because the liberals were not interested in that anger.

I’m speaking here of the liberal culture in Washington, D.C. There was no Occupy Wall Street movement [at that time] and there was only people like me on the fringes talking about it. The liberals had their leader in Barack Obama … they had their various people in Congress. But these people are completely unfamiliar with populist anger. It’s an alien thing to them. They don’t trust it, and they have trouble speaking to it. I like Barack Obama, but at the end of the day he’s a very professorial kind of guy. The liberals totally missed the opportunity, and the right was able to grab it.

Looking back on it, I feel like people like myself were part of the problem. We sort of assumed with the Democrats in power, the system would correct itself.

One of the problems with liberalism in this country is that it’s headquartered in Washington and its leaders are a very comfortable class of people. Washington is one of the richest cities in the country, maybe the richest. It’s not a place that feels the crisis, that feels the economic downturn. By and large, the real estate market stayed OK. The city continued to boom. The contracts continued to flow. What we’re talking about here is the failure of modern liberalism. At one time it was a movement of working-class people. The idea that liberals wouldn’t feel economic pain was ridiculous. That’s who liberals were. No more. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.salon.com/2011/12/28/the_rise_of_utopian_market_populism/

Big Ten, Pac-12 form an alliance, in lieu of expansion

The Big Ten and Pac-12 are extending their partnership well beyond the Rose Bowl, announcing today that they'll step up interconference scheduling, cross-promote on their respective television networks and even set up academic and cultural exchanges.

Without formally expanding either 12-team league, officials say they expect many of the same benefits from collaboration. Each league will extend its reach. There'll be more to sell to TV. Revenues should rise accordingly.

"It's sort of in lieu of what some other people are doing (with expansion)," Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said.

"Our idea is you can't stand still. You have to build in an environment where people are competing for attention, where they're competing to have the best competitive assets and to present themselves in the best way. I think both of us believe … this is the most constructive way for us to do that." ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.freep.com/article/20111228/SPORTS08/111228019/big-ten-pac-12-agreement?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

The FDA's Christmas Present for Factory Farms

from Mother Jones:

On Dec. 22, while even the nerdiest observers were thinking more about Christmas plans than food-safety policy, the FDA snuck a holiday gift to the meat industry into the Federal Register. The agency announced it had essentially given up any pretense of regulating antibiotic abuse on factory farms, at least for the time being.

Wired's diligent Maryn McKenna has the background. She reports that way back in 1977—when livestock farming was much less industrialized than it is today—the FDA announced its intention to limit use of key antibiotics on animal farms. The reason: By that time, it was already obvious that routine use of these drugs would generate antibiotic-resistant pathogens that endanger humans.

In the decades since, the agency has ruminated and mulled, appointed committees and consulted experts, all the while delaying making a final decision on the matter. Meanwhile, the meat industry built a multibillion-dollar business based on stuffing animals by the thousands into tight spaces amid their own waste. To keep them alive and growing to slaughter amid such conditions, feedlot operators give their animals daily doses of antibiotics. The FDA recently revealed that factory animal farms now burn through fully 80 percent of all antibiotics consumed in the United States.

With the stealthy holiday surprise it dropped last week (full text here), the agency declared it would forgo actual regulatory action and instead "focus its efforts for now on the potential for voluntary reform and the promotion of the judicious use of antimicrobials in the interest of public health." ..............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2011/12/fda-quietly-delivers-christmas-present-meat-industry

An Economy of Generosity: For a multitude of reasons, we need to need each other

from YES! Magazine:

To Build Community, an Economy of Gifts
For a multitude of reasons, we need to need each other.

by Charles Eisenstein
posted Dec 27, 2011

Wherever I go and ask people what is missing from their lives, the most common answer (if they are not impoverished or seriously ill) is "community." What happened to community, and why don't we have it any more? There are many reasons—the layout of suburbia, the disappearance of public space, the automobile and the television, the high mobility of people and jobs—and, if you trace the "whys" a few levels down, they all implicate the money system.

More directly posed: community is nearly impossible in a highly monetized society like our own. That is because community is woven from gifts, which is ultimately why poor people often have stronger communities than rich people. If you are financially independent, then you really don't depend on your neighbors—or indeed on any specific person—for anything. You can just pay someone to do it, or pay someone else to do it.

In former times, people depended for all of life's necessities and pleasures on people they knew personally. If you alienated the local blacksmith, brewer, or doctor, there was no replacement. Your quality of life would be much lower. If you alienated your neighbors then you might not have help if you sprained your ankle during harvest season, or if your barn burnt down. Community was not an add-on to life, it was a way of life. Today, with only slight exaggeration, we could say we don't need anyone. I don't need the farmer who grew my food—I can pay someone else to do it. I don't need the mechanic who fixed my car. I don't need the trucker who brought my shoes to the store. I don't need any of the people who produced any of the things I use. I need someone to do their jobs, but not the unique individual people. They are replaceable and, by the same token, so am I.

That is one reason for the universally recognized superficiality of most social gatherings. How authentic can it be, when the unconscious knowledge, "I don't need you," lurks under the surface? When we get together to consume—food, drink, or entertainment—do we really draw on the gifts of anyone present? Anyone can consume. Intimacy comes from co-creation, not co-consumption, as anyone in a band can tell you, and it is different from liking or disliking someone. But in a monetized society, our creativity happens in specialized domains, for money. ..............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.yesmagazine.org/happiness/to-build-community-an-economy-of-gifts

Amy Goodman: If You Can’t Beat Them, Enjoin Them (From Voting)

from truthdig:

If You Can’t Beat Them, Enjoin Them (From Voting)

Posted on Dec 27, 2011
By Amy Goodman

All eyes are on Iowa this week, as the hodgepodge field of Republican contenders gallivants across that farm state seeking a win, or at least “momentum,” in the campaign for the party’s presidential nomination. But behind the scenes, a battle is being waged by Republicans—not against each other, but against American voters. Across the country, state legislatures and governors are pushing laws that seek to restrict access to the voting booth, laws that will disproportionately harm people of color, low-income people, and young and elderly voters.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund have just released a comprehensive report on the crisis, “Defending Democracy: Confronting Modern Barriers to Voting Rights in America.” In it, they write: “The heart of the modern block the vote campaign is a wave of restrictive government-issued photo identification requirements. In a coordinated effort, legislators in thirty-four states introduced bills imposing such requirements. Many of these bills were modeled on legislation drafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)—a conservative advocacy group whose founder explained: ‘Our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.’”

It is interesting that the right wing, long an opponent of any type of national identification card, is very keen to impose photo-identification requirements at the state level. Why? Ben Jealous, president of the NAACP, calls the voter ID laws “a solution without a problem. ... It’s not going to make the vote more secure. What it is going to do is put the first financial barrier between people and their ballot box since we got rid of the poll tax.”

You don’t have to look far for people impacted by this new wave of voter-purging laws. Darwin Spinks, an 86-year-old World War II veteran from Murfreesboro, Tenn., went to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get a photo ID for voting purposes, since drivers over 60 there are issued driver’s licenses without photos. After waiting in two lines, he was told he had to pay $8. Requiring a voter to pay a fee to vote has been unconstitutional since the poll tax was outlawed in 1964. Over in Nashville, 93-year-old Thelma Mitchell had a state-issued ID—the one she used as a cleaner at the state Capitol building for more than 30 years. The ID had granted her access to the governor’s office for decades, but now, she was told, it wasn’t good enough to get her into the voting booth. She and her family are considering a lawsuit, an unfortunate turn of events for a woman who is older than the right of women to vote in this country. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/if_you_cant_beat_them_enjoin_them_from_voting_20111227/

Why Equality is Better for Everyone

from YES! Magazine:

Why Equality is Better for Everyone
Book Review: Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett's "The Spirit Level" shows how inequality—and misery—trickle up.

by Kristy Leissle
posted Dec 27, 2011

A recent report using income data from the 2010 Census drew attention to a harsh aspect of wealth inequality in the United States, already among the highest in the world. The number of Americans living in poverty increased to 46.2 million, and 6.7 percent crossed the threshold into “deep poverty.” Without food stamps and unemployment insurance, an additional 6.8 million would have fallen below the poverty line. Meanwhile, the top 1 percent continue to command a fifth of the nation’s income, and for an increasing number of Americans, the dream of middle-class security is ever more elusive.

The Spirit Level, by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, which has sold more than 100,000 copies since its 2009 publication in Britain, offers insight beyond the bare facts of the census income data. Our national response to the hardships caused by the market crisis of 2008 has been to apply more of the same economic system—subsidize the banks in the hope this gets the economy growing again. But as Wilkinson and Pickett argue from their opening pages, “Economic growth, for so long the great engine of progress, has, in the rich countries, largely finished its work.” Once wealth rises past a certain level, the benefits to life expectancy, health, and happiness stabilize, and then stagnate.

The crux of The Spirit Level is that the best measure of a country’s well-being is not GDP or wealth overall, but its distribution of wealth. Of the developed countries (the focus of the book), those with highest income inequality—the United States, Britain, and Portugal—have the lowest levels of social “goods” such as educational achievement, long life expectancy, gender parity, and trust among neighbors. They have the highest rates of mental illness, obesity, violent crime, teen pregnancy, and incarceration. When the lion’s share is captured by a few, and the rest divide the remainder into increasingly tiny slivers—the “deep poverty” of more than 20 million Americans—social ills rise. Take the statistics on violence: along with the Scandinavian countries, Japan ranks highest on income equality; it also has the lowest homicide rate in the developed world. By contrast, the United States suffers from the highest murder rate, 64 people per million annually. ..............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/the-yes-breakthrough-15/why-equality-is-better-for-everyone

Catholic School Fires Teacher, Five Months Pregnant, for Choosing Artificial Insemination

Outrageous: Catholic School Fires Teacher, Five Months Pregnant, for Choosing Artificial Insemination

Christa Dias was a teacher at Archdiocese of Cincinnati schools for nearly two years before, at five months pregnant, the thirty-one-year-old asked about maternity leave. But rather than grant Dias some well-deserved time off, the schools fired her because her baby was conceived by artificial insemination, Cincinnati.com reports.

From Jezebel:

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati requires all employees to sign contracts stating that they'll adhere to Catholic social teachings, including the assertion that being pregnant sans husband is a gravely immoral act. Someone tell that to the Virgin Mary.

The school originally said it fired her for being single and pregnant, but they were informed that that's not technically legal, so they changed their tune to say they fired her for becoming pregnant via artificial insemination.

Dias was fired from Archdiocese of Cincinnati, where she was making $36,000 a year, in October 2010. Now the mother of a of an 11-month-old daughter, she is still unemployed. .............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/755105/outrageous%3A_catholic_school_fires_teacher%2C_five_months_pregnant%2C_for_choosing_artificial_insemination/

Grist: Pepsi spends $3 million a year so laws don’t come between corn syrup and your kids

Pepsi spends $3 million a year so laws don’t come between corn syrup and your kids

by Christopher Mims
27 Dec 2011 12:19 PM

Ironically-named food hero Marion Nestle just calculated that PepsiCo, which pumps enough high fructose corn syrup into the American public to turn out one Ghostbusters-size Stay Puft marshmallow man every 18 hours (I made that up; you get the idea), spends $3 million a year lobbying Congress.

So what is Pepsi doing dumping all that loot on 1-percenters who supposedly represent the American public on Capital Hill?

One motivation, according to the Sunlight Foundation, is the company's effort to stop the government's Interagency Working Group from proposing guidelines on food marketing aimed at kids. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.grist.org/list/2011-12-27-pepsi-spends-3-billion-a-year-so-laws-dont-come-between-corn-syr

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