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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 73,161

Journal Archives

Triangulations of Christopher Hitchens

from Consortium News:

Triangulations of Christopher Hitchens
January 2, 2012

The death of author Christopher Hitchens from cancer at 62 brought forth a flood of flattering remembrances about his wit and style, but largely missing was the other side of Hitchens, the ruthless opportunist who sold out to the neocons, betrayed friends and bullied the weak, as media critic Sam Husseini recalls.

By Sam Husseini

“Have you stopped vomiting yet, Christopher?” were the first words I ever said to Christopher Hitchens face-to-face. I’d bumped into him at some DC shindig, the type of thing I rarely went to and what he seemed at times to live off.

It was just after the deaths of both Princess Diana and Mother Teresa, and Hitchens seemed to be on Cloud 9. My comment stemmed from a recent quote of his on a chat show — I think “Meet the Press” — that the commemorations around Diana’s death were such that he “couldn’t stop vomiting.”

The adulation that followed Hitchens to his grave would be enough to induce serious regurgitation from the better demons of Hitchens’ past self, if that still exists somewhere, if it ever really did. As gushing flattery poured out from writer after writer who recounting with swagger their interactions with Hitchens — I’ve been left to figuring how to account for mine.

There have been a few serious pieces noting his stark contradictions, but they didn’t seem to account for how he was trusted by many who should have known better, and I certainly count myself among the guilty on this count, though with reason. ........(more)

The complete piece is at: http://consortiumnews.com/2012/01/02/triangulations-of-christopher-hitchens/

Break Up Bank of America Before it Breaks Us

from BanksterUSA:

Break Up Bank of America Before it Breaks Us
Submitted by Mary Bottari on December 21, 2011 - 09:47

On Monday, Bank of America (BofA) stocks briefly traded for under $5. Yes, you could buy a share of BofA for less than the noxious debit card fee they tried to force down your throat.

BofA is massive, with assets equivalent to 15 percent of U.S. GDP. So why is it trading for the price of a latte?

Because Wall Street’s dirty little secret is that BofA is a zombie bank. Now the reek is getting too strong to ignore.

The Most Dangerous Bank In America?

In 2008-2009, BofA publicly took $45 billion in TARP bailout funds and secretly took another $91 billion in emergency Federal Reserve loans. According to Bloomberg News, it made $1.5 billion in profits off of those loans. Yet, several analysts predict that BofA is woefully short of capital reserves. .............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.banksterusa.org/content/break-bank-america-it-breaks-us

With enemies like these, does the President need friends?

from the Independent UK:

With enemies like these, does the President need friends?
The Republican nomination race started like a train – but became a train wreck. As the primaries loom, David Usborne charts how the GOP became the gaffes and 'oops' party

David Usborne
Monday 02 January 2012

The experience was probably the same whether you were in the "spin-room" adjacent to the university auditorium in Michigan where the rivals were debating or watching on television. It was agonising. For myself, I just knew, even as Rick Perry started his sentence, that the tail-end of it was going to elude him.

Of all the clangers and boobs of the pre-, pre- presidential campaign that has brought us to the eve of the first actual voting in the Republican nomination derby, the failure of Governor Perry to identify the third of the three federal agencies he was vowing to shut down was the most astonishing. It lasted 53 seconds. You can hang yourself comprehensively in 53 seconds.

The remarkable thing is, in spite of the comedy and the errors, nearly all the Republicans who started on this slog for the right to challenge Barack Obama this November, are still standing. True, Tim Pawlenty, former Governor of Minnesota, threw in the towel in August but because of problems with money. Get ready to see others stop in the pits and not reappear.

Credibility did not seem like it would be an issue for Mr Perry. The serving Governor of Texas plunged in late – two days before Mr Pawlenty quit – and seemed to be the most potent challenger to Mitt Romney, the ex-Governor of Massachusetts, who is smoother than an anaesthetist's lance and about as numbing. But it quickly became so. The reviews for his debating skills were bad enough before Michigan. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/with-enemies-like-these-does-the-president-need-friends-6284011.html

New Year's Eve - Bad for Birds

LITTLE ROCK, ARK.—Thousands of dead blackbirds rained down on a town in central Arkansas last New Year’s Eve after revelers set off fireworks that spooked them from their roost, and officials were reporting a similar occurrence Saturday as 2012 approached.

Police in Beebe said dozens of blackbirds had fallen dead, prompting officers to ban residents from shooting fireworks Saturday night. It wasn’t immediately clear if fireworks were again to blame, but authorities weren’t taking a chance.

Officer John Weeks said the first reports of “birds on the streets” came around 7 p.m. as residents celebrated the year’s end with fireworks in their neighbourhoods.

“We started shutting down fireworks,” he said. “We’re working on cleaning up the birds now.” ............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/1109332--dead-blackbirds-fall-in-arkansas-again?bn=1

Der Spiegel: Germany and Europe Expect a Tough 2012

The year 2011 was a bad one for Europe. But 2012, Angela Merkel believes, could even be worse -- for her country at least. Both the German chancellor and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble believe the euro crisis will finally make itself felt in Germany. The outlook isn't any rosier elsewhere on the Continent.

It seemed like hardly a week went by in the latter half of 2011 without a counterintuitive story about how well the German economy was doing despite the euro crisis raging around it. Growth continued, private consumption was up and exports were strong.

2012 has started with another eyebrow raiser. On average in 2011, 41.04 million people in Germany were employed, the most ever since the country's reunification in 1990. It was an increase of 1.3 percent over 2010.

That, though, might be the end of the good news for a while. It would appear that most in the country, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, believe that 2012 will be the year when Germany finally begins to feel the effects of the euro-zone crisis which chewed its way through much of the 17-member currency union in 2011. ..............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,806700,00.html

Authorities struggle against wave of L.A. arson fires

from LA Times:

Authorities struggle against wave of L.A. arson fires
January 1, 2012 | 9:38 am

Investigators were combing for clues from 39 separate fires as they struggled to halt a string of three days of arson blazes that has rattled Los Angeles.

At a news conference Sunday morning, L.A. fire and police officials said they had scores of investigators on the case and urged the public to remain vigilant and report suspicious activity.

"We have our best detectives on this," said LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith.

Officials did not provide details about how the fires started. But they said many of the fires start in cars and in some cases spread to carports, garages and apartments. They declined to talk about any evidence they found at the scenes of the arson fires. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/01/authorities-struggle-to-end-series-of-la-arson-fires.html

The Progressive: U.S. Should Stop Pushing Weapons Sales

U.S. Should Stop Pushing Weapons Sales
By Amitabh Pal, December 31, 2011

The United States is happy to hawk its weapons to any willing customer.

The U.S. government has approved a $11 billion weapons deal to Iraq, in spite of the regime’s growing authoritarian and sectarian tendencies.

“The Obama administration is moving ahead with the sale of nearly $11 billion worth of arms and training for the Iraqi military despite concerns that Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is seeking to consolidate authority, create a one-party Shiite-dominated state and abandon the American-backed power-sharing government,” the New York Times reports.

The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad is unabashedly acting as a middleman between the Iraqi government and arms merchants like Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. On the shopping list are knickknacks like F-16 planes and M1A1 Abrams tanks. ............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.progressive.org/u_s_should_stop_pushing_weapons_sales.html

Heads-up.......Chris Hedges on CSPAN 2 In-Depth, 12-3 EST


Hollywood’s Fraud-Free Fantasies: Entertainment industry fails to explain why the economy collapsed

from In These Times:

Hollywood’s Fraud-Free Fantasies
On the big and small screens, the entertainment industry fails to explain why the U.S. economy collapsed.

BY Chris Lehmann

As protesters continue to provoke fresh real-life confrontations with our financial oligarchy, the American culture industry has followed its own instinctive path, forging heroic narratives about the nation’s financial woes that gravitate into a Neverland of angst-ridden comeuppance and consensus.

This fall’s Serious Hollywood Statement on the 2008 crisis, Margin Call, deployed an armada of scowling method actors to erect a mythical tale of a frenzied market dump of toxic debt. The central action in the film was meant to echo the downfall of Lehman Brothers–itself an abject retreat into Tinseltown fantasy since Lehman was the outlier bank in the great mortgage conflagration–the one investment shop that regulators did not treat as too big to fail.

And this, evidently, is why Margin Call is so afraid to conclude anything about anything–even as it tries to lay out the backdrop to the great financial crime of our century. The film’s final incoherent gesture belongs to Kevin Spacey–whose wounded sense of pride in his vocation resolves ludicrously into elaborate devotions over a dead family pet. Unable to bring this plot to rest on any human-based catharsis or approximation of justice, the movie’s screenwriters reached for the manipulative tear-jerking gambit known in Hollywood as “shooting the puppy.”

Last spring, HBO aired a faux-Homeric account of the global mortgage collapse with Too Big To Fail, a fable about the wholesome protective urges of federal regulators based on the fanciful book of the same name by New York Times financial reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/12411/hollywoods_fraud_free_fantasies

Science taboo for Republicans seeking White House

(AFP) Many of the Republican candidates vying for their party's nod to take on President Barack Obama, dismiss science in favor of strong evangelical faith, playing to a hardline conservative electorate.

Only one of the White House contenders, former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, has come out with force to proclaim a belief in man-made climate change, as he condemned his party's hostility to science.

"To be clear, I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy," he wrote in an August post on micro-blogging site Twitter.

"The minute that the Republican Party becomes the anti-science party -- we have a huge problem," the former US ambassador to China later told ABC television's "This Week." ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://news.yahoo.com/science-taboo-republicans-seeking-white-house-192057100.html