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Member since: Sun Jul 11, 2004, 07:58 PM
Number of posts: 35,731

Journal Archives

Iceland Has Hired An Ex-Cop To Hunt Down The Bankers That Wrecked Its Economy (US?)

Maybe it's time to put up a clock from the time of the housing bubble bursting or Hank Paulson's blackmail demand of $700 billion until a CEO of one of the top banks that wrecked our economy and the WORLD'S is indicted, convicted, and imprisoned.

We don't even have to hunt them down. They're hiding in plain sight. Maybe the problem is some of our politicians might be jostled during the arrest raids or these guys might not have signed the campaign contribution checks before they are cuffed.

At the very least, these guys should be treated as a greater threat to America and the world than Bradley Manning.

If you were involved in Icelandic high finance in the runup to the recession, you might want to start watching your back.

That's because the government has appointed a white collar crime bounty hunter who wants to haul your behind in (alive, to be sure).

LeMonde reporter Charlotte Chabas has a profile of Ólafur Þór Hauksson, a former local police lieutenant whom the Iceland government appointed to track down individuals likely to have helped sink the country's banking sector during the credit crunch.


Hauksson oversees a posse of 100 researchers to help track down outlaws. He's netted some major convictions since starting in 2009, including the former chief of staff of the country's finance minister on insider trading charges. Many others await their day in court, Chabas writes.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/iceland-has-hired-an-ex-cop-bounty-hunter-to-go-after-the-bankers-that-wrecked-its-economy-2012-7#ixzz20c79wWXH

Exposing How Donald Trump Really Made His Fortune: Inheritance from Dad and the Gov't's Protection

This reminds me of what Molly Ivins used to say about Baby Bush, "He was born on third base and thought he hit a triple."

Trump inherited money that his dad made largely through gov't contracts and programs, and took advantage of laws like imminent domain to make himself richer.

No one makes it on their own. They build on what was given to them and using the structures the greater society provides. Those who say otherwise simply want to burn the bridges they crossed and ladders they climbed, so they don't have to pay to maintain them, and so they can enjoy their success more because so few can do the same.

In March 2011 Forbes estimated Donald Trump's net worth to be $2.7 billion, with a $60 million salary. Many praise and analyze his “success” as if it were self-made, and they fail to attribute the proper credit to others in society where it is deserved. Despite what Trump may espouse, his success would have been in no way possible without his father, the general public, and the US government. Unfortunately, Trump decided to forget or selectively ignore these truths while forming his political philosophy, a sentiment made particularly clear during his brief bid for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

Trump was born in New York City in 1946, the son of real estate tycoon Fred Trump. Fred Trump’s business success not only provided Donald Trump with a posh youth of private schools and economic security but eventually blessed him with an inheritance worth an estimated $40 million to $200 million. It is critical to note, however, that his father’s success, which granted Donald Trump such a great advantage, was enabled and buffered by governmental financing programs. In 1934, while struggling during the Great Depression, financing from the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) allowed Fred Trump to revive his business and begin building a multitude of homes in Brooklyn, selling at $6,000 apiece. Furthermore, throughout World War II, Fred Trump constructed FHA-backed housing for US naval personnel near major shipyards along the East Coast.


When Romney says or does something stupid, we should say, "What did that MITTWIT do this time?"

He's not as breathtakingly stupid as Bush, but this is a political tone deafness that deserves special recognition of its own, and calling him a nit wit would be an insult to nits.

It would probably just take a couple of times to stick.

And unlike other insults like "Willard" and "Rmoney," this makes him look less qualified to be president since some people like money and rats.

PIC: Gandhi's 1939 letter to Adolf Hitler

It didn't work, but it is a reminder of who the winner was in the long game: the violent guy lost everything and the non-violent guy wearing a bedsheet won everything.

We aren't beat yet, and the more hysterical and violent the right gets, the more likely they are to be history's losers.

Syria, Libya, & Wes Clark on neocons list of countries to overthrow

Whenever the shit hits the fan in the Middle East, I think of this story Wes Clark has told a number of times over the years, especially when we suddenly become concerned about human rights in one of the countries on the list or their microscopic military is declared a threat to the most powerful military in the history of the world.

It seems like the means of our foreign policy have changed under Obama, but not the ends.

In October, 2007, Gen. Wesley Clark gave a speech to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco (seven-minute excerpt in the video below) in which he denounced what he called “a policy coup” engineered by neocons in the wake of 9/11. After recounting how a Pentagon source had told him weeks after 9/11 of the Pentagon’s plan to attack Iraq notwithstanding its non-involvement in 9/11, this is how Clark described the aspirations of the “coup” being plotted by Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and what he called “a half dozen other collaborators from the Project for the New American Century”:

Six weeks later, I saw the same officer, and asked: “Why haven’t we attacked Iraq? Are we still going to attack Iraq?”

He said: “Sir, it’s worse than that. He said – he pulled up a piece of paper off his desk – he said: “I just got this memo from the Secretary of Defense’s office. It says we’re going to attack and destroy the governments in 7 countries in five years – we’re going to start with Iraq, and then we’re going to move to Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran.”


Libya? CHECK
Lebanon? I DON'T KNOW
Somalia & Sudan: HARD TO TELL

Ed Sec Arne Duncan says use more than test scores to eval teachers

Oddly, what he says here is roughly what happened before corporate education reform and NCLB.

I wonder if this is meant as a sop to teachers to kill any demands for policy change before the election, and then they can go back to teacher bashing after the election.

Mr. Starr said he believed that education reform should focus on incentives to help teachers collaborate and help students learn skills that could not simply be measured by tests.

“It is another example to me of how we’re not focused on the right things in the American education conversation today,” Mr. Starr said. “I have a lot of respect for Arne Duncan,” he added, referring to the secretary of education, “but it’s just sort of moving around the chairs on the Titanic.”

Mr. Duncan, in a telephone interview on Thursday, said states that had received waivers, including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, would also use a mix of other indicators to evaluate teachers and schools, like how many students actually enrolled in college or took Advanced Placement exams, as well as reviews of teachers by their peers, their students and their principals.


PA City Defies Court Order; Reduces Police Officers, Firefighters’ Pay To Minimum Wage

Two thoughts on this:

If this is how austerity plays out, who do the assholes carrying water for the wealthy think is going to protect them? For minimum wage, I think I'd let the protesters slip by, or accidentally use the pepper spray and truncheon on the politicians I'm supposed to protect.

Second thought: how much more evidence do people need that the GOP mantra of tax cuts and no new taxes hurt the middle and working class as much if not more than the mythical welfare queens, and infinitely more than the corporate welfare queens?

Ignoring a federal judge’s injunction, Scranton, Pennsylvania moved ahead with its plan to reduce the pay of city workers to the federal minimum wage starting Friday. Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty claims the city is broke and that the minimum wage payments are all it can possibly pay, the Scranton Times Tribune reports:

Amid Scranton’s ever-deepening financial crisis, Mayor Chris Doherty said his administration is going forward with a plan to unilaterally slash the pay of 398 workers to the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour with today’s payroll, insisting it is all the city can afford.

That will likely earn administration officials an appointment with Judge Michael Barrasse, who granted the city’s police, fire and public works unions a special injunction temporarily barring the administration from imposing the pay cuts after a brief hearing Thursday.

Many of those workers are police officers, firefighters, and other public safety workers, industries that have been slammed by contractions in state and local budgets since the Great Recession. Congressional Republicans repeatedly blocked efforts to extend aid to the states that would have helped shore up their budgets and keep these workers on payroll. In the case of Scranton, such aid may have helped the city actually pay its workers a living wage instead of a federal minimum that hasn’t been raised since 2006 and has less buying power than it had in 1968.


PIC: In Ukraine, protestors mace police

I'm not advocating this for here, but it's funny how much more shocking it is to see the role reversal.

RAVITCH: The Economist calls charter schools "Privatization"

Diane Ravitch worked on education issues in both the Bush Sr. and Clinton administrations and supported corporate education "reform" until she realized it didn't work except to funnel money meant for educating our kids into the pockets of for profit companies.

I can recall many times advocates of corporate education reform claimed here that charters are "public" schools, which is only true in the sense that they siphon money and the kids easy to teach from the public system.

The Economist magazine has two articles (here and here) about the “success” of charter schools in the U.S., which they admiringly refer to as privatization.

Charter advocates here might be embarrassed by the praise, as they prefer to call themselves “public schools.”

The Economist recognizes that charter schools are experiments in privatization, not simply another form of public school.


The Economist articles do not acknowledge that charter schools typically serve fewer children with disabilities, and fewer children who are English language learners. They also exercise the right to remove students who don’t comply with their strict disciplinary code and return them to public schools.


RAVITCH: Does Gates Foundation or the Gates family puts profits before kids' education?

Sometimes, asking the right questions can be more devastating than the most in depth investigative reporting.

If every politician who backed repetitive standardized testing to prove schools were failing so they could be handed over to private, for profit education management companies and charter schools with no track record of producing better results than public schools were asked some of the questions here on camera and their reactions posted online, it wouldn't take too long for this movement to go the way of privatizing Social Security.

If you don't know who Diane Ravitch is, she is a former Assistant Secretary of Education, who worked with conservatives on education reform issues until she realized they were doing far more harm than good and were motivated by profit more than the best interests of kids. Unfortunately, too many elected Democrats have bought into the agenda she and many of us are fighting.

Worse, this "reform" agenda that has done so much damage to K-12, is increasingly being pushed for public colleges and universities, who have already been starved of funding in hopes that it would make the claims of failure look more credible.

educators from pre-school to grad level need to stand together to protect our kids' education from becoming the next bubble that hedge funds inflate and then burst, leaving us intellectually living under a bridge the way they did literally with the housing bubble.

I Am Puzzled by the Gates Foundation

Diane Ravitch

The Gates Foundation has more than $30 billion, and when Warren Buffet’s gift of another $30 billion is added to the Gates fund, the Gates Foundation will have the power to direct global policy on almost any issue of its choosing.


I am puzzled by what I read in the column cited here. I am also puzzled by the Gates Foundation’s persistent funding of groups that want to privatize public education. I am puzzled by their funding of “astroturf” groups of young teachers who insist that they don’t want any job protections, don’t want to be rewarded for their experience (of which they have little) or for any additional degrees, and certainly don’t want to be represented by a collective bargaining unit.


When Bill or Melinda Gates is asked whether it is democratic for one foundation, their foundation, to shape a nation’s education policy, they don a mask of false modesty. Who, little old us? They disingenuously reply that the nation spends more than $600 billion on education, which makes their own contribution small by comparison. Puny, by comparison. Anyone with any sense knows that their discretionary spending has had a powerful effect on the policies of the U.S. Department of Education, on the media, on states and on districts. When Bill Gates speaks, the National Governors Association snaps to attention, awed by his wealth. They are pulling the strings, and they prefer to pretend they aren’t.


But their disclaimers do not change the fact that they have power without accountability. They want accountability for teachers, but who holds them accountable?

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