November 16, 2011 archive

Nov 16

Kathy Kelly: Overcoming contradictions

Overcoming Contradictions

by Kathy Kelly and Hakim

November 16, 2011

Adelaide, Australia -At Tabor House Technical College, 21 young people sit in a semicircle looking curiously at Hakim and me. We’ve been invited to speak with them about the practice of justice.  Hakim, who has lived among Afghans for the past nine years, begins by describing how an Afghan youth, Zekerullah, would greet them.  “Salam,” he says to all. With his hand over his heart, Hakim makes eye contact with each student, and then nods in silent greeting. I smile, having watched Zekerullah do just this, whenever he entered a room. The students are interested.

“You can’t listen only to leaders,” Hakim tells them. “We must put our ears close to the hearts of ordinary people and listen to them.”  Hakim is often poetic, but he’s also a trained physician, prone toward assembling data and seeking careful diagnosis.

Rising early this morning, he prepared for today’s presentation by collecting statistics about government responses, in various parts of the world, to massive manifestations of public opinion.  As expected, the short survey showed that leaders aren’t listening well to ordinary people, that ‘national interests’ routinely overrule the people’s interests:

72% of Australians want their troops to be withdrawn from Afghanistan.

But Prime Minister Julia Gillard insists that Australian troops will remain “till the end of the decade, at least.”

63% of Americans oppose the Afghan war.

But the US is about to sign a US-Afghan Strategic Partnership Agreement that will allow joint military bases in Afghanistan beyond 2024.

80% of the Spanish population support the estimated 6.5 to 8 million Spanish Indignados protesting unemployment.

But the Spanish government has been repressing the protesters since their police cleared out Puerta del Sol Square in Madrid on 17th May 2011.

89% of Chileans support the student protests for free public education.

But Chilean police used water cannons and tear gas to break up a student march on October 6th 2011.

US National polls over October and November 2011 were mixed, with agreement/approval ratings for Occupy Wall Street varying from 59% to 22%, but, generally, approval was larger than disapproval.

Yesterday, New York police cleared out the protesters from Zuccotti Park in New York.

“Do governments hate their people?” Hakim asks, “Or do they simply treat their general public as stupid belligerents?”

He encourages students to recognize the wisdom ordinary people hold, offering as an example Afghan villagers who became his teachers. He thought he had come to assist people in the Afghan village because he had ‘knowledge’ to offer them. He instead found that they changed his life completely.  They taught him about love and community.  

Nov 16

Tales from The Edge of a Revolution #3: The Goddess of Travel

The hotel shuttle pulls up to San Francisco’s airport half an hour late. I push a dollar into the driver’s hand and grab my bag. Less than an hour remains to negotiate San Francisco’s ever present chaos to make my flight. I join the line snaking back and forth through an infinite channel of nylon belts and down the backs of airline ticket booths, tapping my finger impatiently on the handle of my bag. There are no other flights to Albuquerque until late tonight and that would mean missing work.

I make it past the first ID screening and still the line crisscrosses for a mile in front of me. Then, the Goddess of Travel intercedes. Right in front of me, a TSA officer unclips the nylon belt holding us at bay and announces they are opening a new screening area. I thank the Goddess, and follow the woman beckoning with her hand.



Like a pied piper she leads us past the rows of ticketing desks and into a lonely corridor. We walk forever and I wonder if I actually saved any time.

“Can we get to United’s gates from back here?” a man asks, mirroring my own growing unease as we travel well past the last ticketing booth.

“Yes, all gates from here,” our guide replies with confidence.

Finally, we round a bend in the deserted hall and stop. I suck my breath in and curse the Goddess of Travel.  That witch, she’s tricked me again. The Rape-U scans have finally come to San Francisco.

Nov 16

Occupy Wall St. Livestream: Day 61 We’re Stilll Standing

Watch live streaming video from globalrevolution at livestream.com

OccupyWallStreet

The resistance continues at Liberty Square, with free pizza ­čśë

“I don’t know how to fix this but I know it’s wrong.” ~ Unknown Author

Occupy Wall Street NYC now has a web site for its General Assembly  with up dates and information. Very informative and user friendly. It has information about events, a bulletin board, groups and minutes of the GA meetings.

NYC General Assembly #OccupyWallStreet

Keith’s Special Comment: Why Occupy Wall Street needs Michael Bloomberg

In a Special Comment, Keith contextualizes Mayor Bloomberg’s actions against Occupy Wall Street at Zuccotti Park and how they have – unintentionally – vaulted the movement from a local nuisance to a global platform for the disenfranchised.

Keith isn’t the only one who thinks that Bloomberg did the #OWS movement a favor, so do the #OWS leaders

Occupy Wall Street Leaders: “Bloomberg May Have Done Us A Great Favor”

by David Dayen at FDL

Members of the Occupy Wall Street movement said today on a conference call that the police action to evict protesters from Zuccotti Park will only amplify future efforts, starting on Thursday with a planned day of action that will occur at sites across the country.

“We’re going to get in the streets by the tens of thousands on Thursday,” said a member of the Occupy Wall Street movement, who requested that names not be used. “The energy that has erupted is just being amplified right now … Thursday will be even more militant and defiant than it was planned to be.”

November 17th will be unstoppable

by Sandra

Today, on November 15th, Mayor Bloomberg and the NYPD made a cowardly attempt to stomp out the spirited movement that sparked in Zuccotti Park two months ago, only to find the flame has spread too far and wide to be stifled. Hundreds have been arrested in New York City defending the birthplace of the Occupy movement, but what Bloomberg fails to understand is that the movement extends beyond the perimeters of Zuccotti Park. As the Occupy alert from last night reads, “You can’t evict an idea whose time has come.”

The country has woken up – we will no longer tolerate a political system ruled by the interests of the 1% at the expense of the rest of us.

That’s why on Thursday, November 17th, thousands of Americans in every corner of the country are pushing back against Wall Street corruption and greed in their communities. We will do all we can to assert our rights as the 99% and reclaim the American Dream.

Join the 99% on November 17th as we fight for accountability, justice, and democracy. Gather with your friends, family and neighbors to highlight work that needs doing in your community – whether a crumbling school building, deteriorating bridge, or a foreclosed home – and demand an economy that works for all.

This is a pivotal moment in history. Our actions have won national attention and the world is watching – let’s make our message loud and clear.

                 

Obama: Each city must decide how to handle Occupy Wall Street demonstrations

Sure, with just a little direction from Homeland Security and the FBI. Yes, Barack, the whole world is watching.

On Behalf of Occupy Boston Participants Who Fear Second Raid, ACLU of Massachusetts & NLG Attorneys File Suit

by Kevin Gosztola at FDL

The National Lawyers Guild and the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts have filed a suit to protect the Occupy Boston encampment in Dewey Square from the kind of militarized police operation that has been carried out against occupations in New York, Portland, Oregon, and Oakland, California, in recent days. [..]

Tomorrow, the ACLU of Massachusetts and the National Lawyers Guild will be part of a hearing before Judge McIntyre at 10 am in Room 1008 in the Suffolk County Superior Court (3 Pemberton Square, near State House and Boston City Hall). Members of Occupy Boston are encouraging anyone in the regional area to come to the courthouse to show solidarity with the occupation.

The Disturbing Silencing of the Press in Last Night’s OWS Raid

by David Dayen at FDL

I’ve heard legal theories that the city of New York has the right to impose restrictions on the time, place and manner of the exercise of free speech. This will obviously play out in a court of law. I don’t know how anyone can reasonably look at the laws and say that the wholesale shutdown of the press, not only from the ground but from the air, is in any way a legal exercise. [..]

When you hear about police state crackdowns in the developing world, you typically hear that they go to knock out the communications first, so that nobody can bear witness to the ensuing repression. Michael Bloomberg learned this lesson well.

Nov 16

Cartnoon

Crusader Rabbit, Crusader vs. the State of Texas- Episode 5 of 15

Nov 16

On this Day In History November 16

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

November 16 is the 320th day of the year (321st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 45 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1959, the musical, “The Sound of Music” opened on Broadway.

Did the young Austrian nun named Maria really take to the hills surrounding Salzburg to sing spontaneously of her love of music? Did she comfort herself with thoughts of copper kettles, and did she swoon to her future husband’s song about an alpine flower while the creeping menace of Nazism spread across central Europe? No, the real-life Maria von Trapp did none of those things. She was indeed a former nun, and she did indeed marry Count Georg von Trapp and become stepmother to his large brood of children, but nearly all of the particulars she related in her 1949 book, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, were ignored by the creators of the Broadway musical her memoir inspired. And while the liberties taken by the show’s writers, Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, and by its composer and lyricist, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, caused some consternation to the real Maria von Trapp and to her stepchildren, according to many later reports, those liberties made The Sound of Music a smash success from the very night of its Broadway opening on this day in 1959.

The Sound of Music opened on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on November 16, 1959, moved to the Mark Hellinger Theatre on November 6, 1962 and closed on June 15, 1963 after 1,443 performances. The director was Vincent J. Donehue, and the choreographer was Joe Layton. The original cast included Mary Martin (at age 46) as Maria, Theodore Bikel as Captain Georg von Trapp, Patricia Neway as Mother Abbess, Kurt Kasznar as Max Detweiler, Marion Marlowe as Elsa Schraeder, Brian Davies as Rolf and Lauri Peters as Liesl. Soprano June Card was one of the ensemble members in the original production. The show tied for the Tony Award for Best Musical with Fiorello!. Other awards included Martin for Best Actress in a Musical, Neway for Best Featured Actress, Best Scenic Design (Oliver Smith) and Best Musical Direction (Frederick Dvonch). Bikel and Kaznar were nominated for acting awards, and Donehue was nominated for his direction. The entire children’s cast was nominated for Best Featured Actress category as a single nominee, even though two children were boys.

The Sound of Music was the final musical written by Rodgers and Hammerstein; Hammerstein died of cancer nine months after the Broadway premiere.

Rebecca Luker leads the 1998 Broadway revival cast in a performance of ‘Climb Every Mountain,’ ‘Do Re Mi’ and ‘The Sound of Music’ at the Tony Awards.

Nov 16

The Just Anger of the People

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

I am the anger, the just anger of the people, and that is why they listen to me and believe in me.

Why Tents Have Little to Do with Reason Behind Occupy Wall Street Eviction

By: Kevin Gosztola, Firedog Lake

Tuesday November 15, 2011 11:01 am

Bloomberg’s statement on the major police operation that resulted in hundreds of arrests, including the arrest of a reporter and city councilman, who was injured, shows once again the contempt and scorn the power elite have for democracy. He claimed, “The law that created [Liberty Square] required that it be open for the public to enjoy for passive recreation 24 hours a day. Ever since the occupation began, that law has not been complied with, as the park has been taken over by protestors, making it unavailable to anyone else.”

Essentially, Bloomberg is saying it had become nearly impossible for someone to go down to the park and be apathetic and ignore the critique of corporate greed and impunity for Wall Street criminals, which the occupation has been making since its first days. He is suggesting that if one cannot go down to the park for their lunch break and eat in peace, without having to hear about issues of unemployment, poverty or debt, then the city has to intervene on behalf of New Yorkers that want to be able to tune out.

This is similar to Oakland Mayor Jean Quan’s argument against Occupy Oakland camping. “Camping is a tactic,” she stated after the second raid of Occupy Oakland on November 14. “It is one that has divided Oakland, a city of the 99 percent. It’s time to work together on the issues of unemployment, foreclosures and education cuts. While the camping must end, the movement continues.”

The notion that camping should not be allowed because it presumably “divides” the 99 percent or that it should not be allowed because it does not allow for “passive recreation” all stems from the ideology of politicians like Bloomberg or Quan. They see themselves as democracy managers. As Sheldon Wolin writes in Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism, they find that one of their main functions is “to foresee the unexpected, eliminate or cope effectively with the unforeseen (“risk management,” “crisis management”); to exploit or contain change insofar as it affects his or her enterprise; and to seize opportunities and aggressively use them to advance the power advantage of the firm – and of him- or herself.”



(I)t is all too clear why the encampment had to go today, Tuesday, November 15. It has less to do with the presence of tents and more to do with the growing power of Occupy Wall Street.

On November 17, occupiers had planned a massive day of action to mark their two-month anniversary. They planned to hold a massive demonstration at 7 am in front of the New York Stock Exchange. They were preparing a “block party the 1 percent” would “never forget.” They said they would “shut down Wall Street.” After that, they would get on subway trains to tell the “stories of disenfranchised Americans.” The occupiers planned to march across the Brooklyn Bridge and even hold a demonstration in Foley Square at 5 pm.

The massive day of action scared Bloomberg, the NYPD and city officials. It frightened the 1%, comrades of Bloomberg. They did not want to see what would happen on November 17 because they have already suffered from this movement. They have already seen it stop banks from slapping fees on debit cards and push hundreds of thousands of people to move their money from Big Banks into credit unions. They have been paying attention to how the people are building up organization to prevent banks from foreclosing on homes. And, those on Wall Street, more than anything, tremble at the movement’s momentum because it could produce investigations that would strip them of the immunity from prosecutions that they have enjoyed since contributing to the collapse of the economy in 2008.

The day of action is tomorrow, starting at 7 am.

Nov 16

A Red Neck Test

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

There are a lot of reasons to hate on Nancy Pelosi, but corrupt profiteering isn’t one of them.

Being an un-democratic sell out to the Corporatist Third Way is.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

If you can’t tell the difference between left and right criticisms of the Democratic Party and our elected “Representatives”…

Why, you might just be a ‘bot.

Nov 16

Inflation

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

lambert has posted an interesting email from Warren Mosler, one of the advocates of Modern Monetary Theory.

It must be impossibile for the Fed to create inflation

lambert, Corrente

Sun, 11/13/2011 – 3:33pm

Hardly an hour goes by without some pundit pushing the possibility of some kind of run away inflation, with Zimbabwe and Wiemar rolling off the tongues of ordinary Americans everywhere. And Congressman and candidates of all persuasions continuously lambaste the Fed for debasing the currency.



For all practical purposes the Fed has done it all. And yet unemployment remains at depression levels of over 9% (and over 16% the way it used to be calculated not long ago) and the only thing keeping what’s called ‘inflation’ over 1% is a foreign monopolist supporting the price of crude oil.

So if inflation is this ominously lurking around every corner that requires eternal vigilance to keep from suddenly rearing it’s ugly head, why have all the Fed’s horses and all the Fed’s men not be able to inflate again? And why would anyone still think they can? I mean, we’re talking about college graduates with advance degrees and resources and power up the gazoo doing everything they can to reflate, and still failing after 3 long years? Not to mention the same in Japan for going on 20 years, where they have college grads with advanced degrees as well (though pretty much from the same schools).

Maybe this inflation thing is harder to get going than it looks? And what did go on in the German Wiemar republic, where if you parked a wheelbarrow full of money thieves would take the wheelbarrow and leave the money? Turns out it was those pesky war reparations that caused govt. deficit spending to soar to something like 50% of GDP annually, with most of that whopping deficit spending used to sell the German currency and buy foreign currency to pay their war reparations. As expected, that drove their currency down the rat hole in short order, and kept driving it down, causing that famous bout of hyper inflation that didn’t end until that policy ended. And when all that ended and policy changed the inflation stopped dead in its tracks. In one day. So how about Zimbabwe? Turns out they had a tad of civil unrest that dropped their productive capacity by about 80%, but govt. spending stayed high and too much spending power with too few goods and services for sale drove prices through the roof. Not to mention rumors of insiders using the local currency to buy foreign currencies for personal gain (sound familiar).

Applying this to the US to replicate the Wiemar inflation Congress would have to increase the deficit to about $8 trillion a year and then sell those dollars continuously in the market place, using them to buy the likes of yen, euro, and pounds. And replicating Zimbabwe would mean some kind of disaster that wiped out 80% of our real productive capacity and then continuing to spend federal dollars as if that never happened.



What all this tells me is that run away inflation, whatever that might mean, isn’t something hiding around every corner waiting to pounce. In fact, it takes a lot of work to get there, and not from the Fed, but from Congress. And not just what we’d call high levels of deficit spending, but ultra high levels of deficit spending.

I have no fear whatsoever of the Fed causing inflation. In fact, theory and evidence tells me their tools more likely work in reverse, due to the interest income channels. That’s because when they lower rates, they are working to remove net interest income from the private sector, and when they buy US Treasury securities (aka QE/ quantitative easing) they remove even more interest income from the economy. Remember that $79 billion in QE portfolio profits the Fed turned over to the Treasury last year? Those dollars would have otherwise remained in the economy.

So what’s the fundamental difference between what the Fed and can do and what Congress can do? The Fed can’t create net financial assets because they only buy, loan, and otherwise traffic in financial assets. Buying a bond or any other security only exchanges one financial asset for another and therefore doesn’t change the nominal (dollar) wealth of the economy. When the Fed buys a security, that security is no longer held by the economy. The Fed gets the security and the economy gets an equal dollar balance in a Fed account. The exchange is done at market prices so for all practical purposes it’s a equal exchange.

When Congress spends, however, it usually buys real goods and services, and not securities and other financial assets. So when the exchange takes place, Congress gets the real goods and services, which are not financial assets, and the economy gets dollar balances at the Fed, which are financial assets. So spending by Congress adds financial assets to the economy, to the penny, making it very different from what the Fed does.

And note that when the economy buys Treasury securities, all that happens is that the dollar balances the economy has at the Fed in what are called ‘reserve accounts’ get move to dollar balances in what are called ‘securities accounts’ at the Fed. Dollars in securities accounts and reserve accounts are all dollar financial assets. So shifting back and forth doesn’t change the dollar nominal wealth of the economy.

Nov 16

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

Time for a break from poetry…in order to create some art.

So then, the relationship of self to other is the complete realization that loving yourself is impossible without loving everything defined as other than yourself.

–Alan Watts



Water Colors 3

Nov 16

What’s Cooking: Sweet Potato Mash

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Republished from April 24, 2011 for obvious timely reasons.

I love sweet potatoes and not just at Thanksgiving. I like them baked, boiled and mashed and dipped in tempura batter and fried. They are great in breads and baked desserts. They are very nutritional, an excellent source of vitamin A and a good source of potassium and vitamin C, B6, riboflavin, copper, pantothetic acid and folic acid. Sweet potatoes are native to Central America, grown in the Southern US states since the 16th century and are in the same family of plants as Morning Glories. The plant is a trailing vine with a large tuberous root.

Sweet Potatoes are often confused with yams which are native to Africa and relate to lilies and grasses. Even though they are both flowering plants, botanically they are different.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture requires labels with the term ‘yam’ to be accompanied by the term ‘sweet potato.’ Unless you specifically search for yams, which are usually found in an international market, you are probably eating sweet potatoes!

A couple of Thanksgivings ago, my daughter decided to ditch the “traditional” candied version topped with marshmallow that would put a normal person into a diabetic coma and went “surfing” for something different. The recipe she found now makes it to our table more often than once a year. It is still sweet but not overwhelming. It’s great served as a side with pork or ham, as well as turkey. Nummy as a midnight snack with a little whipped cream, too.

Bourbon-Walnut Sweet Potato Mash

Ingredients:

   4 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes

   1/2 cup whipping cream

   6 tablespoons (3/4 cup) butter

   1/4 cup pure maple syrup

   2 tablespoons bourbon

   1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

   1 teaspoon ground allspice

   3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

   1 cup walnuts, toasted, chopped

Preparaton:

Preheat oven to 350┬░F. Roast potatoes on rimmed baking sheet until tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Cool slightly. Scoop flesh into large bowl; discard skins. Mash hot potatoes until coarse puree forms.

Heat cream and butter in heavy small saucepan over low heat until butter melts, stirring occasionally. Gradually stir hot cream mixture into hot potatoes. Stir in syrup, bourbon, and all spices. Season with salt and pepper.

DO AHEAD: Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Rewarm in microwave. Sprinkle nuts over and serve.

Nov 16

OWS Evictions Coordinated by Federal Agencies

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

As suspected and alluded to by Oakland Mayor Jean Quan in an interview with the BBC, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI coordinated with mayors throughout the country on tactics to out Occupy Wall Street protesters from city parks. The heavy handed tactics has lead to police abuse, destruction of private property, illegal searches, injuries and arrests.

The official, who spoke on background to me late Monday evening, said that while local police agencies had received tactical and planning advice from national agencies, the ultimate decision on how each jurisdiction handles the Occupy protests ultimately rests with local law enforcement.

According to this official, in several recent conference calls and briefings, local police agencies were advised to seek a legal reason to evict residents of tent cities, focusing on zoning laws and existing curfew rules. Agencies were also advised to demonstrate a massive show of police force, including large numbers in riot gear. In particular, the FBI reportedly advised on press relations, with one presentation suggesting that any moves to evict protesters be coordinated for a time when the press was the least likely to be present.

(emphasis mine)

The raid on NYC’s Zuccotti Park happened just one day after the last raid on Oakland’s #OWS protest that precipitated the resignations of Mayor Quan’s legal advisor and friend, Dan Seigel and Deputy Mayor Sharon Cornu.

On her blog, Rachel Maddow makes the point that these raids, especially the police violence, only steels the protests resolve to continue:

{..} Greg Sargent argues that Occupy Wall Street accomplished something important today, despite the eviction. Ezra Klein asks whether or not Mayor Bloomberg, Brookfield and the NYPD have actually done the movement a favor. And my friends Allison Kilkenny and Amanda Marcotte both criticize the justification used not only for the city to clear the park, but to infringe upon First Amendment Rights.

Glenn Greenwald argues that the only laws being broken are by Mayor Bloomberg:

To justify his raid, Mayor Bloomberg said: “We must never be afraid to insist on compliance with our laws.” Leaving aside the fact that torturers, illegal eavesdroppers, wagers of aggressive war, Wall Streets defrauders, and mortgage thieves are some of his best friends who thrive and profit rather than sit in a jail cell, this is the same Mayor Bloomberg who, now beyond all dispute, is knowingly and deliberately breaking the law by violating a Court Order of which he is well aware. He’d be arrested for that if he weren’t a billionaire Mayor (and indeed, having seen that bevvy of political and financial elites break the law in the most egregious ways with total impunity over the last decade, why would Bloomberg be afraid of simply ignoring the law?).

Nov 16

The Saddam Hussein Memorial Crapper

Photobucket

Some Assembly Required:

Symbol: As the last Americans slunk out the gates of Camp Victory as it was turned over to the Iraqis, they took Saddam’s toilet with them. Victory, with a 27 mile perimeter, was the largest of the 505 bases the US military had contractors build for them. The toilet is made of stainless steel and cost the US about a trillion dollars all told. So now you know what we got out of the war.

“I’d like to thank the American elites, the entire neoconservative movement, The New York Times, especially Tom Friedman, David Brooks and Judith Fucking Miller, …[music starts]…wait, wait!  I was just getting started. I have so many people yet to thank…”

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