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Member since: Fri Sep 17, 2004, 03:59 PM
Number of posts: 67,630

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War vets invade an urban village (in Baltimore)

By Luke Broadwater, The Baltimore Sun
December 25, 2011

Earl Johnson, who served in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq, is a board member for Operation Oliver, a campaign to clean up Baltimore's run-down Oliver neighborhood. (Algernia Perna, Baltimore Sun / December 5, 2011)


They've come to this neighborhood once synonymous with the worst of Baltimore to help it become something better. They call this mission Operation Oliver.

As the men walk, they pick up empty Seagram's gin and Bacardi rum bottles. They point to progress — refurbished homes, a painted playground — and to vacant houses and trash-filled alleys that still need work.

"A lot of the conditions from places we're deployed to, Iraq and Afghanistan, are not that much different from the conditions here in Oliver," says Blake, executive director of the 6th Branch, one of several nonprofit groups involved in Operation Oliver.


Operation Oliver, which began in July, is a one-year commitment to the neighborhood, the veterans say. It involves cleaning up alleys, rehabilitating homes, organizing volunteers and notifying police about illegal dumping sites and drug dealing.


so cute!

President Obama nibbles on baby’s hand during visit to Marines


Newt-FORGOT(?) To BUY His OWN Domain Name!

Book Sales, However, Are Looking Up
by Geov Parrish
Fri Dec 23rd, 2011 at 03:18:29 PM EST

One more piece of evidence, in case you needed any, that Newt Gingrich's campaign was never intended to be serious: he forgot to buy his own domain name.

Go ahead. Click on NewtGingrich.com. http://www.newtgingrich.com/ Do it again. Try it a couple more times. I'll wait.

That, ladies and gentleman, is not the campaign of your next President of the United States. Or even the next nominee of the lunatic-run asylum that is the Republican Party.


Romney wins by virtue of having the fewest people who despise him ("only" about two-thirds of the party) and by having the party elite and its money firmly in his pocket. There may be a year, very soon, when the party base is strong enough to overthrow the choice of its leadership, but that requires a candidate for it to rally behind. That hasn't happened so far in this race, and it's not going to.


The 1%'s-3rd Party: This isn't a political movement-It's a collection of walking dress codes

The 1 Percent's Front Behind a 3rd-Party Candidate
By Charles P. Pierce
Here's a holiday tip for you all in case the subject comes up over the Christmas goose. Sooner or later, one of the cousins is going to suggest the need for a third (or fourth, or 290th) political party in this country. If you are very lucky, the rest of the people at the table will have drunk deeply of the wassail and be so completely Boehnered that they can no longer speak.


Americans Elect is a front for a bunch of Wall Street types and hedge-fund cowboys, many of whom to be completely fair about it, may well still have a tiny, vestigial conscience tingling deep in what passes for their hearts. Nevertheless, the group's entire raison d'etre is to defuse the anger that has arisen generally in the country over the fact that many of their regular dinner partners tried to steal the entire world, only to drop it and smash it to smithereens, in 2008. People have been saying unkind things about them ever since. Americans Elect finds this disconcerting. It would like some warm milk, a cookie, and some centrism, please, preferably knitted, with feet.


But what makes the whole thing so much more noxious is the fact that these people not only people believe the primary issue in American politics is how Americans speak to each other. (It's not. What is? All together now: Fk The Deficit. People Got No Jobs. People Got No Money.) They believe it so firmly that they have given themselves a hall pass from the hurly-burly, and they expect the rest of us to honor it, because we're so hungry for the principled, moderate leadership of the likes of Evan Bayh — who swore he'd never become a lobbyist when he left the Senate, and then promptly became one — or, worse, Michael Bloomberg, the pinstriped Pinochet of Zuccotti Park. They simply will not have any of this ruffianism. This isn't a political movement. It's a collection of walking dress codes. Sack up or take a walk, boys.

Attacked and insulted? In American politics? Tell you what. Ask Lani Guinier what that really means. I'm sure Vaclav Havel, who died this past week, would have told you that, while he was dodging the secret police for 20 goddamn years, what really concerned him was that he might be "mischaracterized in the press," perhaps even "frequently."

Oh, my stars. Time to bring out the old girl again.

Read more: http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/americans-elect-third-party-candidate-2012-6623083#ixzz1hStk5olJ

Flier: TSA Said My Cupcake Was a Security Threat

Flier: TSA Said My Cupcake Was a Security Threat

(NEWSER) – One sign the TSA has officially gone overboard: One of its agents deemed a Massachusetts woman's cupcake a security threat. Rebecca Hains says she was moving through security at a Las Vegas airport on Wednesday when a TSA agent took her aside and explained that the cupcake's frosting was "gel-like," violating the TSA's restrictions on liquids and gels and making it a security risk.

Hains, apparently a lover of traveling with cupcakes, explained that she was able to pass through Boston's Logan International Airport with two cupcakes in tow earlier in the week. She had apparently decided to save one for the ride home, but ultimately surrendered it. "In general, cakes and pies are allowed in carry-on luggage," explained a TSA rep, who noted that the agency was looking into the dessert debacle; a second spokesman told the AP that cakes and cupcakes are allowed to pass through security checkpoints. The maker of the cupcake, the appropriately named Wicked Good Cupcakes, told WCVB Boston, "Apparently we're a tasty, terrorist threat."


...look NO tears

Taibbi: A Christmas Message From America's Rich

A Christmas Message From America's Rich
POSTED: December 22, 9:05 AM ET


People like Dimon, and Schwarzman, and John Paulson, and all of the rest of them who think the “imbeciles” on the streets are simply full of reasonless class anger, they don’t get it. Nobody hates them for being successful. And not that this needs repeating, but nobody even minds that they are rich.

What makes people furious is that they have stopped being citizens.

Most of us 99-percenters couldn’t even let our dogs leave a dump on the sidewalk without feeling ashamed before our neighbors. It's called having a conscience: even though there are plenty of things most of us could get away with doing, we just don’t do them, because, well, we live here. Most of us wouldn’t take a million dollars to swindle the local school system, or put our next door neighbors out on the street with a robosigned foreclosure, or steal the life’s savings of some old pensioner down the block by selling him a bunch of worthless securities.

But our Too-Big-To-Fail banks unhesitatingly take billions in bailout money and then turn right around and finance the export of jobs to new locations in China and India. They defraud the pension funds of state workers into buying billions of their crap mortgage assets. They take zero-interest loans from the state and then lend that same money back to us at interest. Or, like Chase, they bribe the politicians serving countries and states and cities and even school boards to take on crippling debt deals.


Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/a-christmas-message-from-americas-rich-20111222#ixzz1hSjfZx2f

One Photograph Showing Why Big Banks Should Disappear Forever

FRI DEC 23, 2011 AT 08:47 PM PST
One Photograph Showing Why Big Banks Should Disappear Forever
byThe TroubadourFollowforWriting by David Harris Gershon

When an image strikes a chord so loudly that its reverberations spread quickly in our culture – as the one below is currently doing – it's instructive to take notice.

Allow me to offer the photograph in question, taken by gerryduggan:

What you see above is a notice from Wells Fargo having to do with a small trust owned by a relative of the "photographer" – specifically, it's a notice about actions the bank will be taking on the trust's principal given changing market conditions.

While this may be a notice informing the owner of changes that will benefit him/her, that's not the point. Instead, the point is to note the obviously concerning detail: the trust's owner was given until December 18, 2011 to object to the bank's action, when the notice wasn't mailed until December 19.

Much More:


Germany Explodes Republican Myth

How Germany Builds Twice as Many Cars as the U.S. While Paying Its Workers Twice as Much

In 2010, Germany produced more than 5.5 million automobiles; the U.S produced 2.7 million. At the same time, the average auto worker in Germany made $67.14 per hour in salary in benefits; the average one in the U.S. made $33.77 per hour. Yet Germany’s big three car companies—BMW, Daimler (Mercedes-Benz), and Volkswagen—are very profitable.

How can that be? The question is explored in a new article from Remapping Debate, a public policy e-journal. Its author, Kevin C. Brown, writes that “the salient difference is that, in Germany, the automakers operate within an environment that precludes a race to the bottom; in the U.S., they operate within an environment that encourages such a race.”

There are “two overlapping sets of institutions” in Germany that guarantee high wages and good working conditions for autoworkers. The first is IG Metall, the country’s equivalent of the United Automobile Workers. Virtually all Germany’s car workers are members, and though they have the right to strike, they “hardly use it, because there is an elaborate system of conflict resolution that regularly is used to come to some sort of compromise that is acceptable to all parties,” according to Horst Mund, an IG Metall executive. The second institution is the German constitution, which allows for “works councils” in every factory, where management and employees work together on matters like shop floor conditions and work life. Mund says this guarantees cooperation, “where you don’t always wear your management pin or your union pin.”

Mund points out that this goes

against all mainstream wisdom of the neo-liberals. We have strong unions, we have strong social security systems, we have high wages. So, if I believed what the neo-liberals are arguing, we would have to be bankrupt, but apparently this is not the case. Despite high wages . . . despite our possibility to influence companies, the economy is working well in Germany.

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