Sunday, November 30, 2008

First Dog

Barry Blitt, New Yorker

Britain Bankrupt

Republican Apocalypse

GOP Horsemen of the Apocalypse

In 2004 almost 60 millions of Americans voted for war, famine, pestilence and disease. In 2008 this platform received 55% of the white vote. Apparently, many people have a death wish.
If the GOP exists in 2048, its notions may again become fashionable.

Slaughtering Jews in Mumbai

'Israel: Updates on the Chabad Home Hostage Operation in Mumbai'by Gilad LotanAs the commando operation at the Chabad Jewish Center of Mumbai unfolded, very little was known about the state of the hostages. Chabad is one of the largest Hasidic movements in Orthodox Judaism. It runs thousands of centers around the world, providing Jewish community centers, synagogues and schools - providing educational activities for Jews worldwide. They are very popular among Israeli backpackers, who frequent the centers while on their post-military travels.The Chabad website is currently blocked due to their implementation of the Saturday Guard software which prohibits users from accessing the site during Sabbath. However, a constant stream of updates is located on a sister site. The most current update states that the five Jewish hostages held inside the building were found dead:update 06:22 - a commando unit penetrated adjacent to the Chabad home. One terrorist killed.update 07:01 - Chabad home still under seige.update 07:17 - CNN reports that a mother and child were released from the Chabad home as they were weeping. It is unclear if this is the Rabbi Holtzberg's family.update 07:43 - security forces report that at least five terrorists are inside the Chabad home.update 08:05 - Chabad spokesperson, rabbi Menahem Brod: the emissary and her son escaped from Habad homeupdate 08:19 - The woman who escaped from Chabad home is a nanny who escaped with the son of the emissaries. They are still captured.update 08:24 - Chabad Hassids are asked to pray for the wellbeing of the emissaries at the wailing wall in Jerusalemupdate 08:34 - witnesses claim that the kidnappers released the emissary's son and his nanny. They are still held inside the building.update 08:36 - Israeli radio: the nanny who was released from Chabad home reports that the emissary and his wife were unconscious.update 08:55 - Israeli radio: the emissary's son who was released, was taken to the police station with the nanny. His parent's status is still unclear.update 09:03 - the emissary's mother on ynet: "I heard they are alive"update 09:23 - Indian security forces: it is possible that the terrorists ammunition has been exhausted.update 11:23 - a series of explosions are heard minutes ago from Chabad home. It is estimated that the security forces are breaking into the building.update 12:03 - a massive prayer session is being organized in the Wailing Wall at 15:00 in the afternoon, for the wellbeing of the hostages.update 13:51 - the educational Chabad youth center calls for immediate prayers across Israel.update 14:31 - kidnappers ask to open negotiations over the release of the hostages in Chabad home.update 17:31 - Israeli foreign ministry: there is great concern for the lives of those held in Chabad home.update 19:44 - press sources unofficially report that some of the hostages from the Chabad home were released.update 20:11 - Israeli foreign minister: "there is no basis to the claims that Israelis were release from Chabad home. We have little information which is troubling"update 21:41 - the nanny who escaped with the emissary's son in a special interview: "he is constantly asking for his mom and dad"update 23:00 - CNN-IBN: large explosion heard from Chabad home in Mumbai.update 23:51 - the Israeli foreign ministry states that despite the multiple reports, no hostages were released from the Chabad home in Mumbai. The office is checking with the Mumbai police forces the report on a large explosion heard from the building. Earlier reports claimed that eight people were seen walking out of Chabad home, however a diplomatic source stated they left from an adjacent building.update 01:35 - rabbi Nachman Holzberg and his wife left their home in Crown Heights enroute to Israel. The family: we keep receiving contradicting information.update 02:44 - CNN: third explosion heard tonight from Chabad home when a hand grenade was thrown from the building onto the Indian security forces surrounding the structure from the outside.update 02:46 - an Israeli delegation is making its way to help with the recue of the hostages in the Chabad home.update 03:47 - Indian security forces opened fire at Chabad home. It is unclear if they will break into the building.update 03:50 - political correspondant: four dead in Chabad home; Livni: the situation looks grim.update 04:20 - heavy gunfire in the Chabad home.update 05:05 - a white flag is raised from a window on the fourth floor of the Chabad building.update 06:46 - NDTV reporter located at the front of the Chabad home: the rescue operation is taking longer than expected because the rabbi and his wife are held alive.update 07:12 - rabbi Grossman to Israeli TV channel 2: the emissary's parents arrived in Mumbai and took custody of their grandson who is celebrating his 2nd birthday today.update 08:05 - police officer to Sky News: there are five or six live hostages inside Chabad home.update 08:41 - heavy fighting in the Chabad home. Commando forces break into the building from the air.update 08:52 - report from Mumbai: 3 explosions heard in the vicinity of the Chabad homeupdate 09:25 - high ranked officer estimates: the operation will end within several hours.update 10:25 - Israeli security officer: commando forces are on their way to the floor where the emissaries are held.update 10:51 - the British Sky network: explosions and gunfire heard in the vicinity of the Chabad home in Mumbai.update 10:52 - CNN India reports that the fourth and fifth floors in the Chabad building were evacuated.update 11:33 - commando force took control over most of the building floors. Echoes of bomb explosions are constantly heard.update 12:10 - Israeli radio: Indian media claims the Chabad emissaries are held alive, hence the commando forces are extremely careful.update 14:01 - rabbi says to volunteers: you are allowed to work on this Sabbath, which begins in India within 15 minutes.update 14:44 - great explosion in the Chabad home ruined part of the structure. Police: three terrorists are still inside.update 14:55 - cheerful calls next to Chabad home. CNN: the commando forces overpowered the terrorists. The emissary and his wife's status is still unknown.updateupdate 15:48 - five Jews found dead in Chabad home.You may view the latest post at

Blame Games Mumbai

'Pakistan: Blame Game On Mumbai Terror - The Blogosphere Speaks'by Muhammad Farhan JanjuaRecent terror attacks in Mumbai have seriously disturbed and complicated the on-going peace dialogues between India and Pakistan. Where Indian officials are not hesitating to point fingers to Pakistan, the Pakistani officials have been denying Pakistan's involvement the attacks. Pakistan authorities have further requested not to play the blame game and have offered their full support in the investigation. While all these are happening the Pakistani Blogosphere has a lot of important things to say:Dr. Awab Alvi at Teeth Maestro says:What has also sadly transpired within the following day is that the ‘official’ blame game circus is in full swing, contrary to my initial message where I expressed my relief that Pakistan was not being blamed since Deccan Mujahideen were taking the blame, but much to my dismay the good news [?] was short lived and very soon the Indian government was livid at the Pakistani intelligence agencies for having masterminded this attack, in all honesty it might even had been the ISI [ironically we cant trust them either] but whosoever created the mess, Indian or Pakistanis it must be condemned at all costs.M Junaid Khan at Pro-Pakistan publishes a newsletter that was being distributed publicly:Even when the shootings were going on in hotels, Indian media and army were blaming 'Pakistan' for the attacks. The game is clear and sinister. The Indian Intelligence have diverted the global attention towards another issue where they would blame Pakistan for this slaughter and use Barack Obama’s doctrine of attacks on Pakistan to encircle Pakistan from both sides. It is such a shame that Pakistani media is not highlighting this issue and is only repeating what Indians want the world to see and believe.tperacha at Lahore Metblogs writes his reservations:Times of India is already reporting that Pakistani militants have been captured and that this whole incident could not have happened without support from across the border. Now I am sure that similar to 2001 Indian Parliament Attack, NADRA issued ID cards will be found in possession of all these terrorists and then it requires not much wit to figure it out! The western media are also jumping on the bandwagon and trying their best to portray this as another al-qaeda attack.Maybe we should also borrow a page from our neighbor’s book and God forbid, next time when we have a terrorist attack in Pakistan, simply blame it on RAW and get on with our lives. In fact a lot of analysts believe that foreign elements have played part in the recent attacks in Pakistan, but unlike the Indian government, our government doesn’t have the balls to blame any external element.Adil Najam at Pakistaniat shows his solidarity with Indians in these words:I, too, am a Mumbaikar today.I wish I could reach out and for just one moment hold the hands of the woman in this AP photograph. Maybe shed some tears on her shoulder. But I do not know what I would say to her. I do not think she would want me to say much. The expression on her face matches the feeling I have at the pit of my stomach and in the depth of my heart. I think - I hope - that she would understand how I feel. I can only imagine what she is going through.Rana at The Pakistani Spectator tries to unfold the facts in his opinion:1. They came on speed boats from Pakistan. WOW :). Indian coastguards intercept fisherman that cross the maritime borders into Indian waters everyday. Thousands rot in Indian jails and here we have guys with sophisticated weapons entering India and their coast gaurds were fast asleep…….hmmmm fishy.2. Mumbai police intercepted calls made to/from Pakistan….what idiot would do that?? maybe the Mumbai police. Hey there is my number…come get me. 3. They had the “footprints” of the ISI…..did the ISI leave behind its footprints….hmmmJokes apart…so who were behind the attacks?Where all these rumors were flying around, the Indian mainstream media has nonetheless been irresponsible with the blame game. At my blog I have posted a video of a sensationalist reporting by the Indian media speculating about accents of the terrorists. On a request of the Prime Minister of India a representative of ISI is to visit India for sharing of intelligence. The Prime Minister of Pakistan has promised his country's full support in the investigation. But still fingers are being pointed out towards Pakistan and the blame game continues. A portion of Pakistani media is playing along with the game inciting rumors.You may view the latest post at

Rape in Iraq

Rape’s vast toll in Iraq war remains largely ignored
Author: Wameeth (Iraq), Mideast Youth
This is a report by Anna Badkhen, a correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor, who highlights the sort of news that has too often gone unreported. I felt it was important to also share here for the sake of awareness:
Many rape victims have escaped to Jordan but still don’t have access to treatment and counseling.
AMMAN, JORDAN - As though recoiling from her own memories, Khalida shrank deeper into her faded armchair with each sentence she told: of how gunmen apparently working for Iraq’s Interior Ministry kidnapped her, beat and raped her; of how they discarded her on a Baghdad sidewalk.
But her suffering did not end when she fled Iraq and became a refugee in Jordan’s capital, Amman. When Khalida’s husband learned that she had been raped, he abandoned her and their two young sons.
Rumors spread fast in Amman; soon, everyone on her block knew that she was without a man in the house. Last month, her Jordanian neighbor barged into her apartment and attempted to rape her.
Khalida never reported the incident. Like tens of thousands of Iraqi refugees in Jordan, she does not have a permit to live or work here, and she is afraid that if she turns to authorities for help she will get deported. So instead of seeking punishment for her assailant, she latched the flimsy metal door of her apartment and stopped going outside.
Her story sheds light on a problem that is little researched, poorly understood, and largely ignored: Iraqi rape victims who now live in Jordan illegally and without protection. Sexual assault is heavily stigmatized in the Middle East, and victims are often afraid to talk about it to anyone, fearing that their families will abandon them. And their shaky status in Jordan leaves them afraid to seek help and vulnerable to new assaults and abuse. They fear persecution by Jordanian immigration authorities almost as much as they fear returning to Iraq.
“The lack of legal status does lead to these sorts of protection issues [and] puts them in very exploitative situations,” says Imran Riza, who heads the mission in Jordan of the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the main international agency that assists Iraqis in Jordan. Women like Khalida, he says, “are certainly vulnerable, and much more vulnerable than others.”
Rape is a common weapon of any war; no one knows how many Iraqi women have been raped since the war began in 2003. Most crimes against women “are not reported because of stigma, fear of retaliation, or lack of confidence in the police,” MADRE, an international women’s rights group, wrote in its 2007 report about violence against women in Iraq. Some women, like Khalida, are raped by Iraqi security forces. A 2005 report published by the Iraqi National Association for Human Rights found that women held in Interior Ministry detention centers endure “systematic rape by the investigators.”
A handful of organizations are working to help rape victims in Iraq. MADRE, together with the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, operates several shelters and safe houses in Baghdad for Iraqi rape victims, where the women have access to healthcare and counseling.
But militias often target women’s rights advocates in Iraq, so these facilities are “a clandestine network,” operated by “mostly somebody who at a great risk to themselves has opened a room for these victims,” says Yifat Susskind, MADRE’s communications director. The shelters have helped several thousand Iraqi women since 2003. Most rape victims learn about the shelters from other women.
Documenting sexual assault in Iraq by international researchers remains complicated because of widespread violence. “There’s been a security issue, so we haven’t been able to get people on the ground to look at the issue for a long time,” says Marianne Mollmann, who leads women’s rights advocacy at the New York-based Human Rights Watch, which published its last report about rape in Iraq in 2003.
Similarly, no one has tried to estimate how many Iraqi refugees have been raped while in Iraq or in Jordan, says Mohamad Habashneh, a Jordanian psychiatrist who works with Iraqi rape victims.
Mr. Habashneh has treated approximately 40 Iraqi rape victims for clinical depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. But he estimates that they are just a fraction of Iraqi refugees who had been raped.
Psychiatrists like Habashneh charge between $25 and $40 per visit, too expensive for most Iraqi refugees, who, like Khalida, live hand-to-mouth on monthly handouts of about $100 from international agencies.
Many victims are afraid to go outside or travel to a clinic out of fear of being detained by Jordanian authorities.
To help these women, women’s rights organizations in Jordan must coordinate with larger agencies, such as UNHCR, to provide care and programs that would help the victims earn money “because rape survivors are alienated from their family and therefore have no way to sustain themselves,” Ms. Susskind says.
But so far, these resources are not available for most Iraqi rape victims in Jordan. There are no support groups, no counselors, no hot lines, an no one to soothe Khalida when she has flashbacks that make her relive the day when assailants dressed in police uniforms arrived at the Oil Ministry where she worked and said they were taking her in for questioning.
She did not tell her husband that she had been raped but he figured it out. Now, Khalida does not blame him for going away, or for leaving her so vulnerable to men who wish to prey on her.
“I have his phone number,” she says, sobbing quietly. “I dial it sometimes for the kids to talk to their father. Sometimes, because I love him, I like to hear his voice. But when I say ‘hello’ he hangs up.”

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Ocean Currents Can Power the World

Ocean currents can power the world, say scientists
A revolutionary device that can harness energy from slow-moving rivers and ocean currents could provide enough power for the entire world, scientists claim.

By Jasper Copping,
Existing technologies require an average current of five or six knots to operate efficiently, while most of the earth's currents are slower than three knots Photo: AP

The technology can generate electricity in water flowing at a rate of less than one knot - about one mile an hour - meaning it could operate on most waterways and sea beds around the globe.
Existing technologies which use water power, relying on the action of waves, tides or faster currents created by dams, are far more limited in where they can be used, and also cause greater obstructions when they are built in rivers or the sea. Turbines and water mills need an average current of five or six knots to operate efficiently, while most of the earth's currents are slower than three knots.
The new device, which has been inspired by the way fish swim, consists of a system of cylinders positioned horizontal to the water flow and attached to springs.
As water flows past, the cylinder creates vortices, which push and pull the cylinder up and down. The mechanical energy in the vibrations is then converted into electricity.
Cylinders arranged over a cubic metre of the sea or river bed in a flow of three knots can produce 51 watts. This is more efficient than similar-sized turbines or wave generators, and the amount of power produced can increase sharply if the flow is faster or if more cylinders are added.
A "field" of cylinders built on the sea bed over a 1km by 1.5km area, and the height of a two-storey house, with a flow of just three knots, could generate enough power for around 100,000 homes. Just a few of the cylinders, stacked in a short ladder, could power an anchored ship or a lighthouse.
Systems could be sited on river beds or suspended in the ocean. The scientists behind the technology, which has been developed in research funded by the US government, say that generating power in this way would potentially cost only around 3.5p per kilowatt hour, compared to about 4.5p for wind energy and between 10p and 31p for solar power. They say the technology would require up to 50 times less ocean acreage than wave power generation.
The system, conceived by scientists at the University of Michigan, is called Vivace, or "vortex-induced vibrations for aquatic clean energy".
Michael Bernitsas, a professor of naval architecture at the university, said it was based on the changes in water speed that are caused when a current flows past an obstruction. Eddies or vortices, formed in the water flow, can move objects up and down or left and right.
"This is a totally new method of extracting energy from water flow," said Mr Bernitsas. "Fish curve their bodies to glide between the vortices shed by the bodies of the fish in front of them. Their muscle power alone could not propel them through the water at the speed they go, so they ride in each other's wake."
Such vibrations, which were first observed 500 years ago by Leonardo DaVinci in the form of "Aeolian Tones", can cause damage to structures built in water, like docks and oil rigs. But Mr Bernitsas added: "We enhance the vibrations and harness this powerful and destructive force in nature.
"If we could harness 0.1 per cent of the energy in the ocean, we could support the energy needs of 15 billion people. In the English Channel, for example, there is a very strong current, so you produce a lot of power."
Because the parts only oscillate slowly, the technology is likely to be less harmful to aquatic wildlife than dams or water turbines. And as the installations can be positioned far below the surface of the sea, there would be less interference with shipping, recreational boat users, fishing and tourism.
The engineers are now deploying a prototype device in the Detroit River, which has a flow of less than two knots. Their work, funded by the US Department of Energy and the US Office of Naval Research, is published in the current issue of the quarterly Journal of Offshore Mechanics and Arctic Engineering.

Keep Prosecutions Local

Keep Prosecutions Local

Each one of us has two Senators and one representative. Is bringing down three evil-doers too much to ask? Funding preemptive war and torture constitutes crimes against humanity and murder. If we can't catch them taking bribes, they will fall to a morals charge. To facilitate arrests, the FBI should open its investigative files for public perusal.
So long as sexual deviants don't open themselves to Federal blackmail, I have no quarrel with them.
These measures would work almost everywhere not just the USA.

US Media Retains Delusions About Venezuela

Allies of President Hugo Chavez's won a strong majority in Venezuela's local elections on Sunday, winning 17 of 22 state governorships and 265 of 327 mayoral races. The opposition made important gains, capturing the Caracas mayor's office and two of the most populous states. Meanwhile Russian President Dmitry Medvedev arrived in Caracas on Monday to meet with Hugo Chavez, just one day after a Russian fleet docked in the Venezuelan port of La Guaira. The Russian navy will be conducting joint naval maneuvers with Venezuela in the Carribean. The maneuvers are scheduled to begin on December first. In Caracas, Russian and Venezuelan officials signed a series of accords, including one pledging cooperation in nuclear energy for peaceful uses. The Real News Network spoke to Latin American Studies Professor Miguel Tinker Salas who says, the fact that the opposition was able to make modest gains means it's a victory for Venezuelan democracy, and the Venezuelan political process, and the maturity of the Venezuelan population who participated—over 65 percent in this regional election process.
Although the Chavez party won 55% of the vote, the US reports Venezuela is a one-party dictatorial system.
The Real News Network

Free Trade Deregulators and War Criminals

The free trade deregulators and war criminals who populate the Cabinet know how Bushco despoiled the country. Clintonistas, they recognize the FBI has a dossier on every one of them. BHO could put almost every one of them into Gitmo as enemy combatants.That goes for the Congress too. GWB did not gain lopsided votes for the Patriot and Military Commissions Acts by his winning personality.Obama could have lost the election promising to nationalize health care and financial institutions. He suffered some heat by suggesting a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. Now, most Americans accept the need for restructuring.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Seeking Empire

Seeking empire or even hegemony in Asia is a poor idea for Americans. The continent is littered with the bones of would-be conquerors.Why do you think the Chinese fund our wars in Asia? Do they have a death wish buying up our toxic financial paper or soon-to-be-worthless treasuries?We invaded and occupied two sovereign nations to settle the 9/11 account. To this day we are not sure who did what to whom.Our world view is faulty. From the cradle we learn we are superior to other races and nationalities. Ridding our hearts of these hatreds is a monumental task maybe impossible. However, it is possible to put our demons on the back burner.As for the Mumbai tragedy, we might think before we rush to judgment. Who seeks to benefit from the atrocity?

Asking for a Dictator

Mr Bush has costructed an excellent foundation for a dictatorship. A less benign President than Obama could turn the thumbscrews on the population. His controlled media would convince ordinary citizens of his good will. Who would notice the FEMA concentration camps bulging with malcontents? Who would care if Iran, North Korea or Pakistan became water vapor? Who would object to turning in dollars for Ameros? Who would report Guantanamo Bay filling up with Congressmen, stock brokers, bankers, CEO's, civil servants and bureaucrats?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Crime Without Punishment

My lady friend was a deeply religious Jewess. There was a scandal concerning a local Rabbi and his eleven-year-old daughter. My friend refused to believe the evidence or the Court verdicts.Somewhere in the human psyche lies the ability to complain about our leaders without a corresponding urge to punish them for criminal doings. It's considered bad form.The current Administration has carried this to the logical conclusion. Forgiven of preemptive war, rendition, torture and crimes against humanity, the perpetrators conduct fraudulent bailouts without any attempt at concealment. They are confident neither the public or the Democrats will do anything about the situation.

Redemption and Regret

Typical is the CIA Agent who took part in the slaughter of 7.4 millions innocents over 40 years of excess. He managed this with the belief of sure Redemption at the end of the trail.
Every perpetrator regrets his evil deeds after he has been caught. The only Christians I ever heard of who were truly penitent were Bobby Seales and Chuck Colson.
I am sure God sees through the others. I could discuss the Jewish evil-doers as well, but that would be off the subject.

Empty Foreclosed Homes are Worthless

Cash in on the Depression

Vermin and junkies quickly trash the deserted homes. The banks eager to unload the properties will offer them for $1000 or $2000 in bulk, say 100 for $150,000 cash.The new owner can rent them at a most affordable rate of $200 to $300 monthly. The main object is to keep the houses habitable. If the tenant still can't afford it, he can do fix-up labor on his dwelling.Adventurous souls can buy an assault rifle and squat on an abandoned property.The main idea is never again to allow the government to get its greedy hands on you.The $400k/year mugs who surround Obama can't cope with a Depression.

A Mumbai Terrorist

Generally, I try to get into another man's shoes to gain his viewpoint. I imagined the terrorist was watching the same NDTV coverage I was. He could make good use of some of the information passing over the airwaves.

Human Rights Rare in Middle East

Human Rights Laws Not Enforced for Anybody in Israel
Israel ratified the 1948 UN Declaration of Human Rights, but implementation of it is rare for Jew or Gentile. Over 60 years of warfare Israel became a Police State, and the authorities work with judges to discourage dissent. After three devastating attacks on our homeless shelter, a sweet young Judge advised me to go to European Courts to press for human rights. She lost her job for saying that.
We may agree that Palestinians have a right to eat and to heat their homes. The Israeli authorities maintain the Palestinian loses these rights when he lobs mortar rounds over the wall. Indeed, most Jews do not wish any contact with Arabs and the wall is emblematic of that.
Both peoples could stay at home and tend to their own business.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Obama Should Prosecute War Criminals

After WWII, the Allies allowed 153,000 concentration camp workers to go home without penalty. Since then Germany leads Europe in human rights abuses.Similarly, Obama ignores the tens of thousands of American war criminals. Rendition, torture and murder assume the back burner.The perpetrators may return to power. They won't forget the Patriot and Military Commissions Acts. One million undesirables remain on the no fly list as targets the biggest being Obama himself.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Human Rights Beg for Enforcement

Human Rights Already Ratified
The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights is law in all UN member states. They had to ratify it before they became members.
We don't need a new standard. Read the Declaration's 30 Articles. Rigid enforcement of these principles already on the books would end many of our afflictions.
If you enter this title on your browser, you can download a copy of the Declaration in your language of choice.

A Hostile Federal Government

Government Officials Are Enemy Combatants
The latest trick is to print 'Monopoly' money at $800 billions a clip. The Bushco is digging a big hole for the country. So far, the citizens have jumped into the hole and have pulled the dirt in after them.
Will the newly elected officials address the perceived needs of the ordinary people? Will the Progressives monitor and review policies in terms of relevance to these needs? Will they lapse into useless ideological ranting? Time will tell.

It Takes a Thief to Catch One

As many in the CIA, John Brennan has blood on his hands. It takes a thief to catch a thief. Brennan knows the organization inside-out. His work with Obama indicates he has had a change of heart.
Tim Geithner has ruined millions of widows and orphans. Importantly, he knows how the Federal Reserve did it. How many liberals with untainted credentials could make a dent in the Fed?

Bad Actors in the Automotive Drama

Bad Actors in the Automotive Drama

There are too many bad actors in the automotive drama. Corrupt managers control the Big3. In the late 1990's they sank $1 billion into the development and testing of the EV. They delivered prototypes in California to upscale consumers and trend setters. The EV cars proved superior in every way to gasoline models.
The new autos were pricey primarily because GM included the anticipated fuel savings into the price of the car. It was very unpopular with big oil, as it would have cut the demand for petroleum products. When an alternative comes along, the cost at the pump 'magically' drops. When the Administration suffered from high gas prices, big oil answered the challenge with price reductions. If the Obama Administration seriously pursues alternative power sources, gas and heating oil costs will plummet.
The $700 billions bail out did not encourage the banks to extend credit to consumers and to small businesses. Thus, consumer durable goods markets declined. The drop in demand coupled with a dry up in working capital has led to big lay-offs, a higher unemployment rate and a marked increase in pessimism among consumers and producers.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Repair the Congress? Good Luck to You

The Congress is a money making club. Why on earth would any member follow his conscience, or listen to the people? They can't possibly pay the bribes and graft available from the special interests.
If the opposition makes waves, the incumbent runs a smear campaign documented by co-operative media lackeys. If the opponent gets too close to the truth, a call to the FBI will release damaging evidence on him videotapes of his sexual adventures, the slaves he keeps in his attic, the nuclear secrets he sold to the Pakistanis etc.
The recent lootings by venal officials have been so flagrant as to give every voter a swift kick in the teeth. The outgoing administration doesn't bother to make the usual excuses. They stuff their trunks and suitcases with newly printed greenbacks as they retreat to friendly tax havens.
Mr Obama can deliver all the flowery speeches he wants, but they are meaningless if the vast majority of his colleagues are not incarcerated.

Herbert Hoover Haunts Us

Herbert Hoover 1931

Citigroup Nears Doom

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fishermen Lose Human Rights and Boats


On the evening of Tuesday 18 November Khalid al-Habeel sat surrounded by his wife, family, and other concerned fishermen. Until the early hours of the following day, they had no idea what charges were being laid against 15 fishermen, including two of al-Habeel's sons, Adham (21) and Mohammed (20), after they were nabbed from Gaza's territorial waters earlier that morning and taken to an Israeli interrogation center at Ashdod port. Nor did they know when or if their boats -- their livelihoods -- would be returned.Khaled Al-Habeel, or Abu Adham (father of Adham) explained the events leading up to the fishermen's arrest. "Shortly after 10am, I got a panicked call from Adham, who was captain today, saying their boat was surrounded by Israeli naval boats.""There are many ships around us; there's no way to leave," said Adham to his father. Their boat was approximately seven miles out from Deir al-Balah, in the center of the Gaza Strip.Although Palestinian fishermen have the right to fish up to 20 nautical miles from Gaza's coast, as laid-out in the 1994 Interim Agreement signed by Israel, since 1996 Israel has downsized this distance in stages, documented by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR). Imposing a sea blockade on Gaza in 1996, Israel illegally reduced the allowable fishing zone to 12 nautical miles. From 2002 to 2003 this was further reduced to six miles from Gaza's shore.While Adham and the more than 3,500 professional fishermen that scour Gaza's waters for needed sustenance and sources of income are accustomed to Israeli navy harassment, Tuesday's encounter was different, heightened."We're used to facing Israeli attacks in the sea, but we've never seen anything like what happened today. Usually, the Israeli soldiers surround us with a large ship and a smaller gunboat. They shoot at and around our boat with automatic rifles, and they water cannon the boat. When they arrest us, they make us strip down to our underwear, jump into the water, and swim to their ship where we are then hauled up, handcuffed, and taken away to an Israeli interrogation center and even arrest. Today was very different. It's the first time they've actually boarded our boats," al-Habeel explained.Khaled's brother, Abed al-Habeel, and the father of another of the arrested fishermen, Rami (30), corroborated the testimony, adding that their greatest worry was the boats right now: "In the past, I've had my boat confiscated. It was three years ago, and the Israeli soldiers arrested Rami, who was fishing four miles off the coast. They held him for four months, and kept our boat for 70 days. This was a huge loss to us, and when it was finally returned to us it had been seriously damaged by the soldiers' shooting. The nets, the motor, everything was destroyed or stolen," he said, adding that the total losses and damages amounted to US $40,000."We've done nothing wrong. We are innocent, just trying to earn our living. Our boats are our only source of income," said Abu Adham. "But what can we do?" he asked.A crisis createdThe two al-Habeel fishing trawlers and equipment together amount to approximately US $280,000. With the entire family being either fishermen or dependent on the livelihood and food source fishing provides, the confiscation of their boats is a severe blow to the family. In an area which has already been devastated a siege on the economy, exports, health sector, education, and basic existence of Gaza's 1.5 million Palestinians, the fishing sector is one of the few reliable sources of income and food.According to Abu Adham, it is not only his immediate family which is punished by the boats' confiscation. "Our boats are like a company," he said. Around 300 people in total are affected by the loss of their two trawlers: other workers employed on the boats, at the docks, in the fish market, transporting fish goods, as well as the buyers themselves who have come to rely heavily on the sea's offerings as a source of protein and nutrition at a time when red meat is scarce and very expensive.Since September 2008, after the arrival of the Free Gaza boats, human rights observers with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) have been traveling with Gaza's fishermen, into waters further out than the arbitrarily-imposed six-mile limit. The observers have documented numerous instances of attack at the hands of the Israeli army, from as little as three miles from shore, including being shot at with live ammunition and shelling, being water cannoned -- during which soldiers specifically target the boats structural components, particularly breakables like glass, glass panels and machinery -- and more recently being doused with a foul, sewage-smelling water shot from the water cannon. The Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem has documented testimonies of fishermen who suffered harassment and arrest, had their nets cut, and boats and equipment confiscated, often returned with broken and missing equipment, and costly damages to key boat structures.Behind the kidnappingIn the early hours of Wednesday, 19 November, all 15 arrested fishermen were released to the Erez crossing into Gaza. Their boats, along with the three internationals, are still being held by Israeli authorities. Nidal, a 23 year old father of one child, was among the arrested fishermen."We were just over seven miles out off the shore from Deir al-Balah and we saw two Israeli gunboats approach our fishing vessel. Five smaller boats surrounded Abed Almoati al-Habeel's boat," the boat that Scottish volunteer Andrew Muncie (34) was on, Nidal explained. "We began quickly pulling our nets in," he continued. "When they had arrested people on that boat, one of the gunboats came and ordered us to turn our motor off. They ordered us to come to the front of our boat, threatening to shoot to kill."Italian volunteer Vittorio Arrigoni ("Vik") (33) on the 2nd boat to be surrounded, continued filming as Israeli soldiers boarded the boat. Colleague Darlene Wallach (57) was on the third boat and related via phone what happened next. "They used a taser on Vik while he was still on the boat, then tried to push him backwards onto a sharp piece of wood. He jumped into the sea to avoid being hurt more than he already was, and was in the water for quite a while," Nidal said."Almost 20 soldiers had boarded the boat, pointing their guns in our faces and ordering us not to move. They left the captain, Mohammed, on the boat and forced us off and onto the smaller boat, which transferred us to the larger gunship."Mohammed confirmed this account, adding, "This was the first time we weren't forced to strip and jump into the water." Three soldiers remained on Mohammed's boat and, after the operation was repeated on the third boat, ordered Mohammed to head towards Ashdod, the first Israeli port, along with the other two fishing vessels.Wallach by phone said this of her arrest: "I was told 'You are in Israeli territory.' even though it was obvious that all three boats were in Palestinian territory," she said. "They kidnapped me and Andrew and Vik, and all of the Palestinian fishermen."Later, at the Ashdod port, during their interrogation, the fishermen were questioned specifically on the international observers. "Why did you have internationals on your boat?" they were asked. "Who is responsible for sending the internationals? Who pays them? Where do they live? Do you get a good catch when the internationals are on board?" the questioning continued, with a very specific and evident interest, including a non-veiled threat: "You think that you have protection because you have internationals on your boat? Let's see what these international can do for you now," one fisherman said soldiers threatened.After their half-day detention, the fishermen were released without any charges, although their boats remain confiscated.Abu Rami feels the kidnapping of the 15 fishermen and three international observers was a clear message: "It's a message to internationals in Gaza to not accompany fishermen. It's also a message to fishermen not to go far out in our own waters, although we need to because that is where the fish are."Steadfast against the siegePrison time has not broken the spirits of the three human rights activists, who are all being held in Israel's Maasiyahu prison, near Lydd. Rather, they are determined to protest what they say is the "stealing" of Palestinian fishing boats, as well as their kidnapping from Gaza's waters. Wallach maintains that "at no point, before we were transported by the Israeli navy into Israel, did we enter internationally-recognized Israeli waters."Arrigoni commented via phone on Thursday: "A few days ago I was in a big prison with no electricity and little running water. Now I'm in a smaller prison with electricity and clean, running water."On 21 November, the three began a hunger strike, calling foremost for the return of the fishing boats, and further calling for their own return to Gaza.The incident comes just a week after a delegation of 11 European Members of Parliament, all denied entry through Egypt's Rafah crossing, visited the Gaza Strip, arriving via the third Free Gaza voyage. Amongst the delegation were: former UK Secretary of State for International Development Clare Short, Lord Ahmed Nazir, and Baroness Jenny Tonge. Tonge condemned the arrests."The time has come for the international community, and especially the European Union to take action against Israel's consistent breaking of international law. The EU-Israel Association Agreement should be suspended until Israel complies with this law. It was only last week that I personally met with the fishermen whose boats are illegally water-cannoned and fired upon by Israeli gunboats as they peacefully fish in Gaza waters."Clare Short's comments addressed not only the recent arrests, but the devastating siege which has been imposed on Gaza for 18 months now. "I am pleased that the fishermen have been released because they should never have been arrested. But their boats must immediately be returned to them, otherwise their livelihoods are lost and the wrong has not been righted. The siege of Gaza must be lifted and the UK must insist that these illegal attacks by the Israeli navy on Gazans, fishing peacefully within their own water must cease," Short remarked.Indeed, while the arrest of the 15 fishermen and three internationals highlights the continual and systematic injustice fishermen face, over 11,000 Palestinian political prisoners remain incarcerated in Israeli prisons and the siege on Gaza's 1.5 million civilians worsens ever still.While Israel is seemingly trying to conceal the alarming deterioration of humanitarian conditions in Gaza by preventing journalists from entering Gaza for over 13 days now, pressure is growing, from European parliamentarians to UN officials, for Israel to end its siege."By function of this blockade, 1.5 million Palestinian men, women and children have been forcibly deprived of their most basic human rights for months," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in a statement. Pillay continued, stating: "Only a full lifting of the blockade followed by a strong humanitarian response will be adequate to relieve the massive humanitarian suffering evident in Gaza today."Eva Bartlett is a Canadian human rights advocate and freelancer who spent eight months in 2007 living in West Bank communities and four months in Cairo and at the Rafah crossing. She is currently based in Gaza, after the third successful voyage of the Free Gaza movement to break the siege on Gaza.
Electronic Intifada

Fighting Depression

I remind that many government, corporate and government decision makers have put us into the downward spiral. Most of them deserve to sit in prison on criminal charges. Crimes against humanity, fraud and murder will do for a start.The first task is to clear the economy of the deadwood so we can begin the restructuring in a democratic setting. A few opportunities present themselves. Dumping the IRS would ramp up consumer spending. Hate agencies such as Homeland Security, the Justice Department, the FBI and the CIA must be dissolved. The Federal Reserve, the fuel and food industries should be nationalized. If the workers of the Big3 can produce a competitively priced [EV], ownership of the companies should go to them.If the resident rents a property or is paying a mortgage on one, it should be his.If a municipality obeys fair hiring laws etc, it should receive Federal aid to pay police, firemen and teachers.Students should receive a subsidy to permit them to continue as high as they can go.A vital element is state supported health care based on the ability to pay. Doctors who refuse to see non-paying patients at least four hours per day should migrate abroad.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wall Street Lays Egg

Romance without finance is no chance. The Dow Jones industrial average is what economists call a leading indicator. It reflects investor confidence in future economic activity.

The reigning emotions are greed on the upside and fear on the downside.

Words are important. I used the courteous term "lays egg" to title this article. The creator of the graph calls what happened to the market this year a slump. In baseball terms, the market's batting average dropped from .280 [14] to .160 [8]. This is not a slump, but a one way ticket to the minor leagues.

The savvy investor at the end of 2007 could have purchased a put option, which would have allowed him to sell his stock at the high 2007 price to a loser in 2008. The investor was betting the price of the stock would fall in 2008, so he could buy it at the low 2008 price and sell it at the much higher 2008 price. In the Wall Street parlance, he was taking a short position.

After the 1999 deregulation, investment bankers pushed subprime mortgages to home owners who did not qualify for normal lending. The bankers anticipated a time when housing prices would fall, the owners unable to resist foreclosure. In effect, the lenders were shorting the housing market the borrowers losing their home equity and the roof over their heads.

After the government loaned the banking industry $trillion to ease the credit situation, the banks have effectively stopped making loans to individuals and to small businesses. Foreclosures and unemployment have increased. Consumer spending has decreased accordingly. These ailments have spread to the world economy.

The 'slump' is the worst decline since the Great Depression and there is little likelihood it will abate. After three generations of trickle down economics and supply side thinking, we have little ability to define the situation and even less acumen to solve it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Proper Handling of Torturers

Many Americans easily forget that torture is outlawed by all UN member nations. The Administration went to great lengths to hide and then to excuse its acts of torture. The US officials issued orders to shield government workers from prosecution for crimes against humanity.
Article 4 of the 1948 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights forbids torture in all its forms. To gain admission to the UN, the US Congress had to ratify the Declaration. This made the Articles a part of the US body of law.
There is no need for an investigation of the atrocities committed. The new President has the authority under NSPD51 to incarcerate anyone for taking part in the torture as an enemy combatant. This should include judges, bureaucrats, Administration officials and Congressmen who served during the torture era. They should co-operate with the prosecution of their cohorts in torture.
These same culprits developed no fly lists that included over one million Americans also slated for imprisonment and torture.After WWII the Allies freed 153,000 thugs who had operated the Nazi death camps. The murderers went home their vile ideology intact. This is one of the reasons Germany leads Europe in human rights violations.

Using Executive Orders to Good Purpose

There are many unresolved questions involved with the Bush Administration. They range from who took out the World Trade Center through the current bail out of the banking industry. Our history is cover-up rather than disclosure.
The recent public vote indicated we are unhappy with governmental ineptitude and criminality. We realize few, if any, evil-doers will ever sit in prison. Newcomers to politics will learn crime pays handsomely with little chance at prosecution.
Why can't we imprison suspects as enemy combatants? They could earn a pardon by informing on their cohorts. Our nuclear secrets passed through the FBI and the State Department. The Turks sold them to Pakistan. Somewhere, somebody knows something.
Hiding worthless subprime mortgages in piles of collateralized debt obligations is a crime. Bribing the rating firms to upgrade these instruments from BBB to AAA is also criminal. The bankers who bought them knew better. Any legislator who voted to bail out the banks should also sit in prison.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Glenn Beck Trashed at Wendy's

It happened to me at Wendy's Saturday night. We are on the bus and we stop to get fuel and I said, I'm going to go in, I'm treating. Everybody wants a Frosty. I'm going to go get Frosties. And one of the security guys, said, No, you're not. I said, Yeah, I am. I mean, it's a truck stop. How much trouble am I going to get in in a truck stop? Everybody here you can trust. You're not going in. I went in, but I had to bring the swat team with me and so I'm just, I just want to Frosty, please, the guy standing next to me, who, by the way, I may point out. Had food in his hair, is a truck driver and he turned around. He looked at me and the recognition was immediate and he said, You racist bigot! And I just said -- I wanted to say, I think you have me mistaken for someone else, but I knew he knew who I was and he just hated me for who I was. You conservatives that have destroyed this country! And the hatred was so deep, it was breath taking. Luckily the swat team was there and I just separated myself from him and he just shouted through other people and there were children in the restaurant and he blamed me for everything, I believe including the Holocaust, and the hatred was palpable. The guy screamed at the restaurant, you better not let me see you in the parking lot because I've got a truck and I'll run your ass over! Wow. Is this who we've become? Is this who we've become?
Quote from Huffington Post

How Did GWB Get Away with It?

So far, the comments ignore how GWB did his mischief. His father silenced the mass media by drowning unruly journalists in bathtubs. GWB rigged two Presidential elections. The WTC disaster was a false flag event. Geared to secure Arab oil, the US invaded and occupied two countries.After the public ignored the Patriot Act, he attacked the rule of law through directives and shoddy court rulings by his cronies. He used the FBI to dig up damaging information on his opponents to silence them as well.He and his cronies robbed the public of their ability to question a dictator.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Collateralized Debt Obligations

Collateralized Debt Obligations

Let's talk about Collateralized Debt Obligations. A criminalized financial tool to collect subprime mortgages, the gangster bankers took the worthless papers to the corrupt bond raters who marked them triple AAA. This forgery enabled the brokers to sell them to investment banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions.The effort is similar to a Ponzi scheme, which lasts until the suckers stop investing at the bottom of the pyramid. The subprime scam continued until housing prices started to fall. This ate into the homeowner's equity and raised his mortgage payments. Soon, the sale price was lower than the debt on the house.Although the corrupt government bailed out some financial institutions, they refused loans to small business and to potential home buyers. This has led to increased bankruptcies and unemployment.. After consumer spending hit a downward spiral, massive lay-offs have occurred persuading job holders to tighten their belts.The coming depression is likely to be greater than the 1930's version. FDR assembled a new crew that improvised attacks on the real problems of the people. Obama is staffing with many of the crooks who put the financial scheme together or those who ignored it.They detest the ordinary citizens who suffer. The Homeland Security will punish anyone who objects to the rape of our country.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Ron Paul to the Rescue

To me, Ron Paul presented a coherent and far-reaching agenda. We rejected it as being too radical and unrealistic. Freedom, justice and the rule of law require hard work and some thought. Tasks clearly beyond our capabilities, we are unlikely to climb out of the grave we have dug for ourselves.Yet, we have the Constitution and the 1948 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If enforced, they would serve as guides for a better future.The population sat on its hands during the passing of the Patriot and Military Commissions Acts. We allowed our military to stumble into two Asian land wars they can not win. The politicians and the bankers have picked our carcass clean. One might infer we are not ready for self-government.Ron Paul suggested we leave Asia immediately. He urged us to scrap the IRS and all the other alphabet soup agencies.Why not?

McCain Never Knew Us

Many commentators forget Mr. McCain received 55% of the white vote. The tactic to trash and to defame people of color was a great success. The winning Republican strategy would have been simply to get more white people out to vote.Instead, they relied on fear-mongering great stuff for paranoids and racists, but poor coin for a person who has lost his job and his home.The final blow came from the fall of Lehman Brothers. This catastrophe for the rich inspired McCain to suspend his campaign. He did not understand the 98% of us who lack a substantial stake in the system.