February 22, 2011 archive

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from firefly-dreaming 22.2.11

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Making Sense of Revolutions

We are witnessing what may be the birth pangs of nascent democracy in the Middle East.  Or, we may be witnessing something else entirely.  A region which has long trailed the rest of the Western world in basic freedoms for its citizens is in the process of long-needed transition.  What it will be and what form it will eventually take has yet to be established.  This doesn’t mean, of course, that we won’t try to transpose our own understanding upon the scene that lies before us.  Especially when we contemplate the unknown, we can fall so easily into dichotomies.  When comparing two things simultaneously, it is easy to believe that everything must belong to one part or the other, or, failing that, nothing can belong simultaneously to both parts. Egypt is not Libya, nor is Tunisia exactly like Egypt.

America’s Mubarak Moment

You know, when Wikileaks let the cat out of the bag on just how rich and greedy Mubarak was, the people got royally pissed.

Now, Matt Taibbi let the whole litter of the critters out off the bag, in “Why Isn’t Wall Street in Jail?” and we need to get royally pissed too.

I mean, some of us knew already. The same people investigating Wall Street spin in and out of working for Wall Street. Its the fox guarding the fox, and they both get more chicken than Jim Morrison ever dreamed. Talk about back door men?



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Six In The Morning

‘We may be witnessing New Zealand’s darkest day’: PM says 65 killed in quake

 




February 22, 2011  

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key says 65 people died in the earthquake that devastated Christchurch today.

”The death toll I have at the moment is 65 and that may rise. So it’s an absolute tragedy for this city, for New Zealand, for the people that we care so much about,” Mr Key told TVNZ. ”It’s a terrifying time for the people of Canterbury.”

He said: “We may be witnessing New Zealand’s darkest day.”

As thousands of shocked people wandered the rubble-strewn streets of Christchurch after today’s devastating and deadly earthquake, emergency workers were searching for survivors.

Late Night Karaoke

My Little Town 20110221: Gene and Katy

This is an installment of an extremely irregular series that I write when I begin to remember people from my childhood.  I grew up, for the most part, in Hackett, Arkansas, just about nine miles south of Fort Smith, Arkansas, almost on the border with Oklahoma.  This was quite the “redneck” part of the nation.

Hackett, when I was little, still had a prednisone 80 mg daily sunset law on the books.  Those of you not from the South may not be familiar with such a law, but they were real (and likely still are on many books, but obviously not enforceable any more).  Essentially, a sunset law dictated that any black person (NOT the term used at the time) could not remain in the town after sunset, to prevent black families from moving into the town.

The penalty was, at least in my town, that being black and there after sunset was not just an offense, but a shooting cause, both by citizens and law enforcement.  I report this not to titillate, but just to illustrate how many southern jurisdictions were run until recently, and some still are.

On the Ground in Ohio

cross-posted from Sum of Change

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COLUMBUS, OH: I am on the ground in Ohio, here to cover the protests for the couple days that I can afford to be away from DC. Today, despite a persistent rain, demonstrators lined the sidewalk outside of the Capitol Building in Columbus to voice their opposition to Senate Bill 5 which threatens state employees’ bargaining rights. Today’s protest was a lead up to tomorrow, when thousands are expected to descend on Columbus.

Feed The Wisconsin Demonstrators Pizza!!

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I just ordered 2 pizzas to be delivered to demonstrators in Madison, Wisconsin.  Rachel Maddow has the story:


You’re probably already familiar with ordering take-out food online. Some restaurants let you do it directly and others use a middle man service, but the idea is that you log on, place your order, plug in your credit card info and tell it where to deliver the food. But there’s nothing that says you have to have the food delivered to yourself. In fact, there’s nothing that says you have to even be in the same country as the food you’ve just ordered.

And so we arrive at Ian’s Pizza by the Slice where donations literally from around the world are coming into their State Street store in the form of online pizza orders to feed Wisconsin protesters. As Politico reports, “On Saturday alone, Ian’s gave away 1,057 free slices in their store and delivered more than 300 pizzas to the Capitol itself.”

You get it.  I got it.  I sent 2 20″ 3 topping pizzas to the assembled democracy demonstrators.  Join me.  It’s easy.  You go to badgerbites.com and order a pie for the demonstrators.  You know how to order for yourself.  It’s just as easy to order for others.  Go for it.  It will make you smile.

And by the way.  This does not mean that my allegiance to Pizza Bob’s in Ann Arbor has been violated in any regard.  The way I see it, when in Madison, you do like the Badgers.

simulposted at The Dream Antilles

The plutocrats could use a good knee-capping.

Charles Blow of the New York Times has noticed that great sucking sound of our decadent empire in decline, and says, “It’s time for us to stop lying to ourselves about this country,” because among industrialized countries “we are among the worst of the worst.”  

Zoinks, Scoob!  It used to be that Americans didn’t want to know the truth, and the media had the courtesy not to tell us.

As for the cause of this decline to this “worst of the worst” status, Blow references “an increasingly cut-throat global economy” and shows an IMF chart indicating that the US has one of the highest Gini indices (i.e., measures of inequality) amongst industrial nations, just behind Hong Kong and Singapore.

I give Blow credit for his candor, as far as it goes, but let’s go ahead an nail that thesis to the door of the Church: Everything is going to shit because capitalism is an inherently psychopathic and monomaniacal drive for profits, all else be damned, and the plutocrats are taking increasingly large everything! for themselves.

State of Working America has some interactive graphs showing average incomes of the top 10% (in red hues) and bottom 90% (in blue) of wage earners between 1917 and 2008.  Moving the vertical bars in their graphs allows the user to select and summarize intervals of interest.  Data were compiled by economist Emmanuel Saez at UC Berkeley.

From 1917 to 1970 the bottom 90% of wage earners took home 72% of income growth, whereas the top 10% earners took home 28%.  The top 1% (light pink) took the smallest proportion of growth, whereas the next two largest income earners (rose and maroon)took the largest shares of the 28% cut.

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Over the past forty years or so, income inequality has ballooned.  Specifically, from 1970 to 2008, the top 10% wage earners took home all the growth in incomes.  The top 1% took the majority of that growth.  The bottom 90% got nothing.  For the past 40 years, the vast majority and poorest Americans have gotten nothing.  Bupkis.  Goose eggs. Zilch.  All the money has gone to the very top, the worst of the worst, for forty fucking years.

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