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Gender: Female
Hometown: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Home country: USA
Member since: Thu Sep 25, 2003, 02:04 PM
Number of posts: 75,304

Journal Archives

Venezuela seizes warehouses packed with medical goods, food


President Nicolas Maduro's government said on Thursday it had taken over warehouses around Venezuela crammed with medical goods and food that "bourgeois criminals" were hoarding for speculation and contraband. The socialist government says businessmen and wealthy opponents are trying to sabotage the economy to bring Maduro down, while also seeking to make profits from hoarding, price-gouging and smuggling across the border to Colombia...Maduro gave a live address to the nation from one of two warehouses seized in central Aragua state, where he said 14 million syringes and 2 million surgical gloves were among a massive hoard of medical equipment bound for Colombia.

"There's enough medical equipment here to cover Aragua's needs for a year. This is the criminal bourgeoisie. They are going to pay with jail, I swear it," Maduro said, standing in front of piles of boxes and wheelchairs.

"The bourgeois parasites are hurting the people's health."

Maduro, the 51-year-old successor to the late Hugo Chavez who died of cancer last year, said the goods had been bought with dollars obtained from the state's foreign exchange board and were due to be sold across the border in Colombia. The government has in recent months undertaken a huge crackdown on smuggling, including closing the border at night and arresting 1,266 people.

Critics say Venezuela's security forces have been at the heart of the trade for years, and contend contraband will not go away as long as state subsidies and exchange controls create price disparities offering tempting opportunities.


Poached Eggs And The New Corporate Toast



Why the U.S. Is Building a High-Tech Bubonic Plague Lab in Kazakhstan


...When it opens in September 2015, the $102-million project laboratory is meant to serve as a Central Asian way station for a global war on dangerous disease. And as a project under that Pentagon program, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the lab will be built, and some of its early operation funded, by American taxpayers.

The far-flung biological threat reduction lab may look like a strange idea at a time of various sequester outbreaks, but officials say it's an important anti-terror investment, a much-needed upgrade to a facility that has been described as an aging, un-secure relic of the 1950's, and one that the Defense Dept. fears can't keep pace in an era of WMD.

It's also an investment, they add, in a country where scientists are hungry for more international participation and better facilities—and where the U.S. is keen to keep sensitive materials and knowledge in the right hands and brains....

Mother Ruins Harry Potter To Indoctrinate Her Kids Into Conservative Christianity


Fan-fiction is a fun activity which allows fans of literary works to keep the adventures of their favorite characters alive. In the wrong hands, however, a good work of fiction can turn into a fictional abomination.

That’s what a woman did when she completely re-wrote Harry Potter by turning it into a conservative Christian-obsessed world where the main characters are fighting against the evil forces of Congress — led by Voldemort — who are allegedly trying to destroy their Christian beliefs. She did this because she thinks her kids will turn into witches if she allows them to read the books as written by author JK Rowling...Even beloved character, Professor Dumbledore, didn’t escape getting a complete makeover. He’s been turned into a southern preacher at the re-christened Hogwarts School of Prayer and Miracles.

So far, six chapters have been written. Here are a few examples of the content you’ll find via Tickld. Just be warned, if you’re a fan of Harry Potter, prepare yourselves for quite a shock.

Reverend Dumbledore beamed. “Why thank you, little one!” His voice had a distinctive southern twang to it that made Harry feel so safe and welcome. He knew in that moment that the Reverend was a man of God.

“My father says that dark times are coming,” Hermione spoke worriedly. “There is a man named Voldomort who wants to destroy all that we stand for. He is pushing an agenda in congress which will stop us from practicing our faith freely.”

“But that is what our founding fathers built this nation for!” Harry cried indignantly. “The freedom of religion!”

Hagrid beamed widely. He had been praying so hard to save a soul today; and he was so happy to have saved the soul of such a sweet, earnest little one. The poor boy, being raised by two parents who were not Christian; and who both went to work and left him with a babysitter all day long. It was a good thing Hagrid had got here in time. Five years down the road, Harry might have been a fornicating, drug addicted Evolutionist!

A smug-looking young man about Harry’s age with slicked-back hair even paler blond than Luna’s and wearing a sweater vest and khakis strolled languidly down between the rows of tables.

“Please, ignore this fool,” Draco drawled smugly. “Luna here thinks she can have a career even though she’s a woman; and women are stupid.”

Harry gaped at this horrible person. What a mean thing to say!

“Women shouldn’t not have careers because women are stupid!” Harry shouted indignantly. “Women are not stupid at all! Women should not have careers because women are nurturing and loving and their gifts serve them best in the home!”

Yeah, someone seriously wrote this. If you can stomach reading more, just click here: https://m.fanfiction.net/s/10644439

As you can probably tell, this fictional re-write is clearly the work of a conservative “Christian.” The passages include intolerance toward people of other faiths, a hatred of sex before marriage, and a general frowning down upon women not staying in the home to raise children. It also strongly suggests that evolution is evil and that Voldomort is basically President Obama. The author herself even reveals her paranoia by stating her fears that her children will be led into a life of witchcraft if she lets them reads the actual books....


Weekend Economists Go for Broke October 17-19, 2014

I keep my promises (when the gods let me) so here it is, the WEE on time! Thank you, thank you very much!

Well, this was a week that was. Let's see what issues came into prominence:

1. Global Economic and Market Collapse

2. Ebola and at least 3 strains of influenza

3. Midterm Elections Too Close to Call...if we are lucky

4. Racism fades to back burner

5. Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Russia, Venezuela, Brazil, fade out momentarily

6. The Ghost of Euros Past Rises Again

That's enough to begin with. Also, I have started medicating with a nice fruity Moscato, because the chocolate was in the freezer and will need to defrost, first. I defy anyone who isn't in a coma or brain dead to get through this weekend without aid of some kind.

So, the theme is healing...whatever that means. And I offer the first selection:

That's an amusing (but totally BS) Chart

EVERY economy with the possible exception of Russia and Iceland is contracting because they are all following neoliberal economics principles, which is basically: roll over and die, you peasants!

The corruption of cronyism has become global again. The US provides no counter-example, any more.

It's gonna take fire to cleanse the continents of greed and hoarding by the 1% because democracy and noblese oblige are both dead, as well as unions and "christian" charity, not to mention the Rule of Law, fairness and justice. The Enlightenment is dead, as well as Common Sense. (both Thomas Paine's and the garden variety). There is nothing left but to refight the battles of the 18th century so that certain lessons can be relearned.

For this Baby Boomer, raised in the assumption that all the BIG problems of the world had been solved and there was only mopping up (and spreading equality) left to do, this century has been a big shock.

I forgot Latin America....there's so much variation, and too much US policy bleeding over for them to stand independently, but they are trying, when our "special" forces aren't killing them.

VENEZUELA Settlement Denies Exxon Mobil's Excessive Claim


Venezuela comes out on top in long-standing dispute over nationalization of energy resources.

The International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) has ruled unanimously in favor of Venezuela. It stated on Thursday that the money owed to the transnational oil company Exxon Mobil for the nationalization of its assets in 2007 — in the Orinoco oil belt — is USD$1.6 billion, a far cry from the USD$12 billion Exxon Mobil had originally claimed it was owed.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Rafael Ramirez, who previously served as Energy Minister, greeted the news from the ICSID by stating, “A long process has concluded, where our country, our republic, has defended the sovereign management of our resources, we have defended the decision to nationalize the belt in a way that will remembered in history.”

In 1997, during a period where oil exploration in Venezuela was opened up to foreign investment, Mobil signed a deal with the state-owned oil company PDVSA. The terms of the deal were unfavorable to the state and relinquished the sovereign control of energy resources in the country. With the arrival of Chavez to the presidency in Venezuela, the need to reassert control over natural resources became a priority. In 2007 Chavez decreed the nationalization of the oil sector in order to facilitate the social redistribution of income generated by the oil sector to the people. In effect PDVSA would control these cooperative ventures by owning at very least 60 percent of the shares.

According to a statement released by the Venezuelan government, throughout this process Exxon Mobil consistently tried to undermine Venezuelan sovereignty. When the nationalization was announced, all oil companies involved accepted the terms, except for Exxon Mobil and Conoco Phillips. The oil giant then tried to sue the government in various arbitration venues. The statement by the government concluded by saying “Once more the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, its government, institutions, and workers come out ahead and we have succeeded in defeating the aggression of these powerful transnational interests and their national agents in this country who shamelessly back them. We reiterate that Venezuela must be respected, we are committed to the defense of our independence and sovereignty in any scenario.”


Weekend Economists Host a Moveable Feast October 10-12, 2014

Well, I came home early from the vet's. My old kitty (19 or so) has some kind of tumor which has cost her all the teeth on one side of her upper jaw. Since I think taking her to an oncologist would be the height of cruelty, she's on palliative care. But she's eating! So it can't be too dire just yet.

Some people eat to live, others live to eat. Me, I go both ways. Share your favorite recipes (if you are in the mood) and we can talk food. It's the staff of life, not the stock market, after all!

And what a week it's been! Stocks on a roller-coaster, peace elusive as ever, and the election barreling down on us while who knows what lurks in the health of humankind...

I think I'll have some more chocolate, thank you!

This kitty looks a lot like mine (only bigger)!

The Ten Commandments of Ebola - Where the Choices Can Be Life or Death


The 10 Commandments of Ebola can be found on signs posted in poor communities such as West Point in Monrovia. The commandments have a medieval tone:

1. Thou shalt not HIDE ANY SICK person even family member or friend;

2. Thou shalt not SHAKE HAND or TOUCH someone with high fever who is very sick;

3. Thou shalt not TOUCH DEAD BODY even if it is your family member or friend who has died;

4. Thou shalt not PUT MAT DOWN for dead people not even your family member;

5. Thou shalt not EAT or DRINK from the same pan, place or cup with family member, friend or anybody.

6. Thou shalt not allow anybody even family friend to spend time (with the infected).

7. Thou shalt not HAVE SEX with strangers; be very careful of the person you have sex with, they could have the EBOLA virus -- no sleeping around. Stick with the person you know very well.

8. Thou shalt not PEE PEE OUTSIDE, use a plastic bottle and wash your hands;

9. Thou shalt not TOILET OUTSIDE; use a plastic bag and wash your hands.

10. Thou shalt call this Telephone Number 4455 for Response Centre #1 right away when you have a sick person or a dead body in your house.

Weekend Economists Celebrate Chinese Birthdays October 3-5, 2014

There are TWO historical events concerning China, this month.

The earlier one is that 65 years ago Wednesday the Chinese Communist Party took over the reins of government on the mainland, with the exception of Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao...

China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a sovereign state located in East Asia. It is the world's most populous country, with a population of over 1.35 billion. The PRC is a single-party state governed by the Communist Party, with its seat of government in the capital city of Beijing. It exercises jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities (Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Chongqing), and two mostly self-governing special administrative regions (Hong Kong and Macau). The PRC also claims the territories governed by Taiwan, a separate political entity officially known as the Republic of China (ROC), as its 23rd province, a claim which is controversial due to the complex political status of Taiwan.

Covering approximately 9.6 million square kilometers, China is the world's second-largest country by land area, and either the third or fourth-largest by total area, depending on the method of measurement. China's landscape is vast and diverse, ranging from forest steppes and the Gobi and Taklamakan deserts in the arid north to subtropical forests in the wetter south. The Himalaya, Karakoram, Pamir and Tian Shan mountain ranges separate China from South and Central Asia. The Yangtze and Yellow Rivers, the third- and sixth-longest in the world, run from the Tibetan Plateau to the densely populated eastern seaboard. China's coastline along the Pacific Ocean is 14,500 kilometres (9,000 mi) long, and is bounded by the Bohai, Yellow, East and South China Seas.

The history of China goes back to the ancient civilization – one of the world's earliest – that flourished in the fertile basin of the Yellow River in the North China Plain. For millennia, China's political system was based on hereditary monarchies, known as dynasties, beginning with the semi-mythological Xia of the Yellow River basin (c. 2000 BCE). Since 221 BCE, when the Qin Dynasty first conquered several states to form a Chinese empire, the country has expanded, fractured and been reformed numerous times. The Republic of China (ROC) overthrew the last dynasty in 1911, and ruled the Chinese mainland until 1949. After the defeat of the Empire of Japan in World War II, the Communist Party defeated the nationalist Kuomintang in mainland China and established the People's Republic of China in Beijing on 1 October 1949, while the Kuomintang relocated the ROC government to its present capital of Taipei.

China had the largest and most complex economy in the world for most of the past two thousand years, during which it has seen cycles of prosperity and decline. Since the introduction of economic reforms in 1978, China has become one of the world's fastest-growing major economies. As of 2013, it is the world's second-largest economy by both nominal total GDP and purchasing power parity (PPP), and is also the world's largest exporter and importer of goods. China is a recognized nuclear weapons state and has the world's largest standing army, with the second-largest defence budget. The PRC has been a United Nations member since 1971, when it replaced the ROC as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. China is also a member of numerous formal and informal multilateral organizations, including the WTO, APEC, BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the BCIM and the G-20. China is a regional power within Asia and has been characterized as a potential superpower by a number of commentators....wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China

The SECOND Chinese birthday is the nascent democratic movement of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong (香港; "Fragrant harbour"), officially known as Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, is an autonomous region on the southern coast of China geographically enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea. Hong Kong is known for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour, and with a land mass of 1,104 km2 (426 sq mi) and a population of over seven million people, is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Hong Kong's population is 93.6% ethnic Chinese and 6.4% from other groups. Hong Kong's Cantonese-speaking majority originate mainly from the neighbouring Guangdong province, from which many of them fled to escape wars and communist rule in mainland China from the 1930s to 1960s.

The idea and reality emerged during the 155-year British rule. Hong Kong became a colony of the British Empire after the First Opium War (1839–42). Hong Kong Island was first ceded to Great Britain in perpetuity, followed by Kowloon Peninsula in 1860 and then the New Territories was put under lease in 1898. It was occupied by Japan during The Second World War (1941–45), after which the British resumed control until 1997. The amalgam of British and Chinese culture during the colonial era shaped the current culture of Hong Kong. For example, the educational system followed the British English model until 2009.

As a result of the negotiations and the 1984 agreement between China and Britain, Hong Kong was handed over to the People's Republic of China and became its first Special Administrative Region on 1 July 1997, under the principle of "one country, two systems" (the other special region, Macau, attained that status when Portugal handed it over in December 1999). Hong Kong has a different political system from mainland China. Hong Kong's independent judiciary functions under the common law framework. The Hong Kong Basic Law, the constitutional document drafted by the Chinese side before the handover based on the terms enshrined in the Joint Declaration, governs its political system, and stipulates that Hong Kong shall have a high degree of autonomy in all matters except foreign relations and military defence. Although it has a multi-party system, a small-circle electorate controls 30 out of 70 seats of its legislature, which was classified as flawed democracy with the lowest score in political rights among advanced economies.

Hong Kong is a world city and is one of the Al­pha+ cities. As Hong Kong ranks the third most important leading international financial centre, after London and New York City, Hong Kong has a major capitalist service economy characterised by low taxation and free trade, and the currency, Hong Kong dollar, is the eighth most traded currency in the world. The lack of space caused demand for denser constructions, which developed the city to a centre for modern architecture and the world's most vertical city. Hong Kong has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world but also the highest income inequality among advanced economies. The dense space has also led to a highly developed transportation network with the public transport travelling rate exceeding 90 percent, the highest in the world. Hong Kong has numerous high international rankings in various aspects, such as its economic freedom, financial and economic competitiveness, Human Development Index are all ranked highly. However, air pollution and smog is a serious problem with loose emission standards and high level of carcinogenic PM2.5 compared to other advanced economies...wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hong_Kong

Two very different places, both economic rivals for the USA. Let's follow the example of Marco Polo, and see what we can learn about the Inscrutable East.
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