Monthly Archives: October 2012

Argentine Ship Taken by Billionaire Hedgefunder for Debts Unpaid

ap la libertad jef 121026 wblog Billionaire Holds Navy Ship Hostage

So for those who laugh and scoff at the idea that the plutocrat class could/would actually hold a country hostage for repayment of debt, look at the case involving Argentina and a hedge-fund billionaire who lent them a bit.

Unlike when governments lend to other governments and have their citizenry to hold them accountable, plutocrats have no responsibility to any citizenry, no promise of the public or national welfare to uphold, no balance of global power to consider.  Nope, its all about the dollar.

We can have no doubt that chief and probably only motivator behind the billionaire’s personal loan was the prospect of making a buck.  Problems coming rushing into the minds of those concerned with democratic representation.  First off, the question rises, who let the dogs out? What country has allowed the privileged to amass so much money, at such little cost to hold that they now have enough to hold countries and their assets ransom for the sake of profit.

This is the ultimate nightmare unfolding; plutocrats running local, national and international policy and framing the paradigms that we all exist within, to their liking.  This is the monster that unfettered capitalism has unleashed and this is the proof to the argument that arises time and time again that money knows no ethics, no love, no boundaries, no humanity.  It is up to governments, run by the people to act as the counter balance to human greed and avarice, something is obviously seriously broken in this country.

More at ABC News

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Update: Support Grows for CLF’s Fight to Secure a Fair Review of Northern Pass

From the Conversation Law Fund site regarding the DOE and its corrupt decision making process involved in approving the Northern Pass project.

Update: Support Grows for CLF’s Fight to Secure a Fair Review of Northern Pass

Two weeks ago, CLF exposed and brought to the public’s attention internal government documents showing that the Department of Energy (DOE) has illegally allowed the developer of the Northern Pass transmission project, Northern Pass Transmission LLC (NPT) to have significant and improper influence over the ongoing permitting process and environmental review of the project. After filing its concerns about the information with DOE, CLF issued a call to action, urging the public to join CLF in demanding that DOE replace the contractor team charged with preparing the crucial Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which was handpicked by NPT, with a new, unbiased contractor or internal team with no conflict of interest.

We’re pleased to report that the responses – your responses – to the revelations and our call to action has been remarkable.

In the past two weeks, more than 300 members of the public (and counting) filed comments with DOE demanding replacement of the contractor team and a new commitment to a fair and open permitting process for Northern Pass. (You can take action yourself and file your own comment via this link.)

Yesterday, in a joint letter to DOE, a group of nine organizations representing New Hampshire’s conservation community and the grassroots opposition to Northern Pass, along with more than 60 individuals, expressed their deep concerns about the information exposed by CLF and called for a new EIS contractor with no conflict of interest. (Coverage on NHPR here.)

Read more on the CLF blog.

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Brubeck on a Friday – Take Five like You Mean It

Everyone no matter how much we disagree, we really do love and appreciate all the visitors here and hope you have a good and restful weekend.  The blog will be unmanned until Monday; we’re taking time off.  We recommend that you check out our extensive blog-roll for your always progressive leaning, educational and of course entertainment experience.

If you have to work this weekend, keep your chin up and take a day off as soon as you can.  If your boss won’t let you, quit and Take Five.

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Uh-Oh, Mega-Corporations Intimidating Voters? Isn’t Capitalism Democracy?

Oh noes! Say it isn’t so! Wealthy mega-corporations get caught enabling racist, Republican wingnuts who apparently for some reason feel compelled to stir fear and loathing for voting in the hearts of poor people in particularly contentious regions of the country.  No way! Isn’t capitalism like totally made to work with democracy? Read on my child.

The national move by Republicans all across the country on voter ID laws, efforts by the hapless James O’Keefe and company to prove something that doesn’t exist, just apparently isn’t enough to keep the hordes of unwashed home.  In two Midwestern states of Ohio and Wisconsin, according to Huffington Post, a local Ohio television news station and The Inquisitor,  low income and mostly minority occupied neighborhoods in Cleveland, Columbus and Milwaukee.

Pressured by local news organizations and a Cleveland Democratic politician to reveal who hired Clea Channel Outdoors to put up the billboards, Clear Channel instead decided to immediately remove the advertisements and put in their place conciliatory signs reading, “Voting is a Right not a Crime”.  Apparently the funding for the original advertisements came from a family owned trust account.

So let’s make this clear; it was so important for Clear Channel to leave the individual or group responsible for financing what they do not dispute was a clear attempt to intimidate poor and minority voters, in the ‘clear’ that they jumped up to literally cover their tracks by making nice, removing the offending speech and replacing it with a more positive message.

Nothing screams guilt more than furtive and quick efforts to hide from the light.  In a display of frighteningly obvious racism and classism, one can pretty much assume that Clear Channel and the geniuses who devised the signage scheme, figured no one would notice.   Because of course, in their racist minds, no one in minority and poor communities have the smarts to speak up or even notice when the dominant social group attempts to intimidate them.

From the gangland stereotypes of vicious thugs (black men in white middle class parlance) roaming the streets of poor neighborhoods selling crack to sex-hungry welfare cheating ‘hoes’ (any poor woman but usually targeting black women) to the picture cast constantly by conservative groups of vicious ballot busting gangster roaming around in low income neighborhoods rounding up mysterious political groupies paid to repeatedly enter their names on registration lists — so they can get Democrats in power to increase their welfare dependency…

What?  Yeah and if you, kind reader require ‘proof’ or exact quotes of the above, then you first should get out in the sun because living under rock not only is dangerous for your physical health, but ignorance doesn’t do much for your brain cells either.  Then proceed to get over your stupid self and get in the community because nothing cures ignorance better than some exposure to the light of truth.

Fantasies that could only be dreamed up in the heads of people who have no more familiarity with inner city neighborhoods than they do the surface of the moon. Fantasies dreamed up in the racist and classist minds of middle class white folks living in cul-de-sac neighborhoods stuffed with angry little white boys bouncing to rap music and dreaming of being the mean, overly virile black man of their racist imaginations.  Until they grow up a little more and learn to abandon their rebel ways and get ready for college, where they can then make sure everything stays in the lines and the vicious black and brown folks remain where they belong.  Hence the insightful, well heeled garbage that funded these billboards and the media giant that is more than happy to oblige the funder’s wishes.

What none of the articles bother to mention, is that this Outdoor Clear Channel is but just one portion of the media giant Clear Channel which owns nearly the entire US radio market and related concert/advertising venue interests and uses its behemoth power to bully its broadcasters and of course, also fool the public into believing that local radio stations really still exist.

So once again, with these billboards, the invisible wealthy trust that paid for the intimidating ads and the advertising agency more than happy to offer their services, we have proof positive that plutocracy does not equal democracy.  But yes, as Clear Channel and other media conglomerates would say, why look here, nothing to see.  Look! Look! Its Beyonce fighting with Jay-Z, its Brad Pitt walking with Angelina Jolie! Isn’t that far more interesting?  Yes, don’t you feel better now?

If Three High School Students Can Shut Down a Bank…

As one commenter on Facebook says, “Seriously, 3 high school students shut down a bank? Imagine what 5 college grads could do? Or 6 artists? A couple of comedians? What havoc might a thespian wreck?”
Seriously indeed.  Three high schoolers demand accountability from a bank and in response the bank shuts down its offices and has the kids arrested.  Facebook activists everywhere yawn.

Just imagine what a general strike would do.

From Salon.com:

NYPD Block off whole JP Morgan Building to Arrest Three Teens

High school students staged a small sit-in to demand the bank reveal political expenditures

The entire 60 floors of JPMorgan Chase’s downtown New York office building were temporarily blocked off Wednesday so that three high-schoolers could be arrested, according to a news release from anti-corruption activists.

The students were staging a sit-in protest at the bank headquarters, “demanding full disclosure of the bank’s anonymous political expenditures,” reported an announcement from 99Rise, the anti-corruption group of which the three young people are members. “The students, who delivered a petition to the bank over three weeks ago articulating their demand, refused to leave the bank’s premises until the requested information was handed over to the public.  The bank instead chose to shut down the entire 60 floor building have them arrested,” the release read. A live Twitter feed from the group reporting on the  small sit-in noted that police set up barricades around the building, closing entrances to the public.

99 Rise describes itself as “a new anti-corruption movement to get Big Money out of American politics.” The three students have reportedly been taken to a police station in the Bronx.

Oh the Webs we Weave…the Romney Family and Voter Fraud

Just one lost vote away from divine actualization.

By now most people have heard of the wide-spread news that Romney’s eldest heir, Tagg Romney has possible, albeit, distance on paper, ties to a voter machine company that will supply electronic voting machines in Ohio.

Reports have come in from the establishment media and some other surprising sources, discounting the concern about this possibly serious conflict of interest.  The conservative Weekly Standard online goes out of its way to quote a Solamare spokesperson (Solamare is the funds investment firm that Tagg Romney founded) which can be read at snopes .com where also exists a very good breakdown of the relationship and the web of ties between Solamare, H.I.G. and the number of Romney campaign donors among the leadership of the firms mentioned.

But the snopes article, the Weekly Standard article (predictably) and the usually conspiracy probing left leaning Think Progress seem to be telling the children to quiet down and not worry.  Why must we not worry? Well, because the investors and Tagg Romney himself have told us not to that’s why. Don’t you feel better now?  Slightly better coverage was offered at Huffington Post, linked in the first paragraph where at the last portions of the article, experts name numerous concerns they have with electronic voting machines, in addition to the odd relationship and its creation at such an inappropriate time.

Yet as some mentioned in the Huffington Post article, its awfully odd that this relationship is allowed to persist even when given such attention.  Well, that attention, as many journalists are quick to point out comes from the wide, weird world of the “blogoshere” as if within one dismissive swoop of the hand, the illegitimacy of such sources is reduced to zero.  Romney and co.’s assurance to voters that he’ll play nice is good enough for major media outlets, why not the plebians?  The rabble may please sit down and shut up now.  Romney offers no explanation to the public, no money moves or relationships severed.  In fact the quiet of the Romney’s on this issue illustrates how quickly they want it to go away.  But as Brad says on BRADBLOG, problems naturally arise when a the most important public act is handed over to a private company that may have a distinct interest in seeing the elections go a certain way.

The people aren’t stupid, but apparently Romney and his media whore friends would like you to think so.  Brad takes the time and trouble to list some of the more egregious crimes and errors of the private vote machine industry and calls for national attention and immediate action on this issue.   We suggest that voting machines in every district in every state be challenged from now until they are removed and we return to an open more accountable, albeit slower old fashioned hand counting.  Yes, it takes longer, but sometimes speed isn’t as important as proper and honest.

Brad rails at the lastest TeeVee moron to parrot someone’s line, for who maybe we’ll never know, but it sure isn’t Lady Justice or Truth.

NBC News Election Expert Chuck Todd: Voting Machine Concerns are ‘Conspiracy Garbage

A few questions for the popular pundit that may help better educate both him and the nation’s electorate…
By Brad Friedman on 10/21/2012, 12:56pm PT

The voting machine conspiracies belong in same category as the Trump birther garbage.

Todd was responding, no doubt, to the many folks who have been justifiably concerned of late, since it was discovered that a bunch of Bain Capital investors, led by Mitt Romney’s son Tagg, via a company called H.I.G. Capital (believed to stand for Hart Intercivic Group) took over control of Hart Intercivic, the nation’s third largest voting machine company, in 2011.

The Austin-based Hart company, according to VerifiedVoting.org’s database, supplies electronic voting machines and paper ballot tabulators that will be used to tally votes in the Presidential Election this year in all or parts of California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

I offered my point of view about those concerns earlier this month, explaining that it was not just the private ownership of Hart’s machines by Romney backers which voters should be concerned about, but the private ownership of the similar systems in all fifty states that will once again be used to tabulate the results of this year’s Presidential Election with little — and very often zero — possibility of oversight by the public or even by election officials.

Read the rest on BRADBLOG

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Romney revelers gather to celebrate how the evil government didn’t build it at place that the evil government did in fact build. Thanks Sam!

The Daily Dickpunch

Sometimes, you just need a government program to accomplish something which otherwise never would have happened.

Do you see that statue? That’s called “The CCC Worker,” and it’s stationed near the upper lot of the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, Colorado. It’s a beautiful piece of bronze, overlooking the park, famous concert venue and, further east, the city of Denver. And it represents an idea. An idea that when we need it the most, great things can be built at the behest of our government that improve life, not just for the citizens of a given city, but also for the lives of the workers who get jobs for a long-term project.

The plaque which adorns the statue says this:
“CCC Worker”
Erected in 2004 by Chapter 7, NACCCA
in cooperation with the City and County of Denver.
Dedicated in honor of the 3 million workers
who served in the…

View original post 664 more words

Yes, Boycotting Amounts to Voter Suppression

Ukranian boycotters, seems at least they are honest.

Yes,the left’s boycotting the election does indeed amount to voter suppression. A personal letter from Rebecca Sohin couldn’t say it better: there exists a smug elitism running through the far left these days, as has always every election season, in the call for those on the left to ‘boycott the ballot box’ by not voting.

A smugness exists in the fact that while the Republican party has clearly stated over and over again that it wishes to return America back a couple of centuries, or at least about half a century is part and parcel of their social agenda.  They can’t wait to get a crack at it and many on the left seem all too eager to give them a chance.  Not surprisingly, this call to allow the foxes to run into the hen house and take as they please, seems driven by those who don’t often sleep to close to the coop door.

Many in this country can testify to their personal suffering at the hands of Republican policy; from the decision to allow student loans under the control of private lenders, leading to crippling interest rates and predatory collection practices, to collapses in the social safety net which have left many elderly people impoverished.  Day laborers toil on wages that cannot get them out of the homeless shelter or off the park bench, millions sold on home ownership have found themselves on the bottom of a giant billion dollar fraud for which not one architect has been called to account.

Since Ronald Reagan came to power women have increasing lost their ability to choose when they will get pregnant and as usual, the ones most effected are the poor and the socially alienated.  As a result, even though births to women have reduced significantly, when cut across class lines, its very obvious that poor and underserved women end up having children more often and at a younger age. This puts them at a distinct and often permanent economic disadvantage and places more children in the clutches of long term poverty as socio-economic factors come more into play.

Welfare reform has nearly all but destroyed access to flexible and affordable child care for poor women, access to food assistance has been trimmed down so that it is further unreachable by more impoverished persons, leading to further destitution and borderline homelessness (often couch surfing and substandard housing situations).  Housing programs have shrunk to the point where now Section 8 requires as much as an eight year waiting list for even the most needy families.

These policy changes cause real suffering among those affected by them.  Possibly the most critical aspect of the far left, especially among the academic and middle class far left is the removal from any tangible awareness of the effects of Republican policies throughout the last three decades in particular.  Since voting is as far as many known the only way that any society that seeks to have a participatory and truly representative decision making process, boycotting the vote begs the question, if not voting what?  Sharpening pitchforks? Donning bandanas?  Even after the strife and the burning, there will come a time when people must begin to construct something out of the ashes they have left.  Funny, some of us would rather not burn the entire house down when all it needed was a serious gutting and remodel.

As I have said repeatedly to activists who propose to sit out the election, what is your plan? What is it that you wish to do after you’ve convinced everyone you can to not participate in the electoral process? Do you have a plan to overtake it? Do you have a plan to dismantle it?

And most importantly, do you have a plan to deal with the impending day when your rights become even more compressed for the sake of a dollar? Are you willing to allow more plutocrats in faster to privatize more prisons under your nose, prisons and jails which you will could end up sitting in when cops are allowed to break up protests and arrest with even more impunity than now?

I ask this because one thing is abundantly clear; the Republicans represent the elites, the plutocrats and time and time again, this has been made clear to the public, with only Facebook fashioned outrage.   The same for the endless evidence of voter fraud in electronic voting machines, the now exposed slimy relationship between the Romney family’s investment holdings and ownership of H.I.G.  Its obvious that the vote may be rigged, if you stay home and sit on your hands and expect a bad outcome, then if such is rigged, we can assume that you won’t be in the streets with your outrage, but you will be smugly sitting at home, sipping a brew and announcing that you knew better — you stayed home, so it really has nothing to do with you.

Which really is the crux of the problem isn’t it? When opting out to vote, one opts out of paying attention and giving a damn and when that happens, nothing happens.  Those of us who want something to happen will have our ears to the ground, our eyes open and be fully engaged, participating and will be there to call account when the system completely fails and have people on the ready, on the ground, to take action.  Opting out is not action.

Snagged from TomDispatch, a letter to activists written by author Rebecca Solnit:

The Rain on Our Parade
A Letter to My Dismal Allies
By Rebecca Solnit

Dear Allies,

Forgive me if I briefly take my eyes off the prize to brush away some flies, but the buzzing has gone on for some time. I have a grand goal, and that is to counter the Republican right with its deep desire to annihilate everything I love and to move toward far more radical goals than the Democrats ever truly support. In the course of pursuing that, however, I’ve come up against the habits of my presumed allies again and again.

O rancid sector of the far left, please stop your grousing! Compared to you, Eeyore sounds like a Teletubby. If I gave you a pony, you would not only be furious that not everyone has a pony, but you would pick on the pony for not being radical enough until it wept big, sad, hot pony tears. Because what we’re talking about here is not an analysis, a strategy, or a cosmology, but an attitude, and one that is poisoning us. Not just me, but you, us, and our possibilities.

Leftists Explain Things to Me

The poison often emerges around electoral politics. Look, Obama does bad things and I deplore them, though not with a lot of fuss, since they’re hardly a surprise. He sometimes also does not-bad things, and I sometimes mention them in passing, and mentioning them does not negate the reality of the bad things.

The same has been true of other politicians: the recent governor of my state, Arnold Schwarzenegger, was in some respects quite good on climate change. Yet it was impossible for me to say so to a radical without receiving an earful about all the other ways in which Schwarzenegger was terrible, as if the speaker had a news scoop, as if he or she thought I had been living under a rock, as if the presence of bad things made the existence of good ones irrelevant. As a result, it was impossible to discuss what Schwarzenegger was doing on climate change (and unnecessary for my interlocutors to know about it, no less figure out how to use it).

Read the rest of this excellent letter here: Tomgram: Rebecca Solnit, We Could be Heroes

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British Unions Shut Down London With Strikes – Over 700,000 March

Image from Washington Post online slideshow

Nearly 800,000 union workers in Britain converged in London on yesterday to demand that the government end its austerity measures.  Similar to other unrest in Spain, Portugal and Greece and across the Atlantic in the US last year, Britian’s workers demand an end to the distribution re arrangement policies dubbed “austerity measures” by the press and politicians.

In favor of the conglomeration of capital among elite global finance and banking interests worldwide, government worldwide have proposed cutting public social safety nets.  The obvious effort to turn the world’s workers into pools of low-wage labor has met with resistance across America and Europe and now Brit workers take their turn to be heard.  In the rally labor leaders call for a general strike.  In addition, as Real News reports, London and other EU countries have November 14th in their sights for a continent wide day of action against austerity.

The Real News has posted a video and report:

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China Caught Using Child Labor in FoxConn Ipod Factory

From the Guardian: Foxconn workers at a rally in the southern Chinese township of Longhau following a series of suicides among employees in 2010. Photograph: Bobby Yip/Reuters

In yet another exposure of the abuses of labor by Chinese plants owned by Taiwanese FoxConn company, this time in the use of students as young as fourteen duped into an ‘intern’ program.  Apparently the company had partnered with schools to provide child labor to the plants disguised as ‘interns’ but who were in fact laboring to produce widely popular Ipod products.

This proves once again that with the uncontrolled capitalist the past has no lessons to teach it, that the ethical barriers of humanity come crashing down in the face of profit.

From the Guardian:

Taiwan‘s Foxconn, the world’s largest contract electronics maker, has admitted using student interns as young as 14 in a Chinese factory.

The case is in breach of national law and raises further questions about its intern programme.

Employment rights activists in China have accused Foxconn and other big employers in the country of using young student interns as a cheap source of labour for production lines, where it is difficult to attract adult workers to lower-paid jobs.

Foxconn, the trading name of Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry, said it had found that some interns at a factory in Yantai, in the north-eastern Shandong province, were under the legal working age of 16. It did not say how many were underage.

“Our investigation has shown that the interns in question, who ranged in age from 14 to 16, had worked in that campus for approximately three weeks,” the company said.

Read the rest of the story in The Guardian.