Friday, January 30, 2009

P. Krugman - Health care now!

Published: January 29, 2009

"The whole world is in recession. But the United States is the only wealthy country in which the economic catastrophe will also be a health care catastrophe — in which millions of people will lose their health insurance along with their jobs, and therefore lose access to essential care"..............follow link and read this -- it's a must.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Friend Died Today

I just got an e-mail telling me a friend was found read in her apartment. I do not know the cause of death, nor do I know the time, or reason.

I want to know these things. I want to make sense of this. It just does not make sense to me.

Now, I'll mention meither her name, nor the place of her death -- she is entitled to her privacy.

I will mention that I found her alive, cute, appealing, and sweet. There was this touch of woodland sprite about her. At the same time she was scary smart and successful in a rather esoteric field of both pure and applied science.

This was a young person, one who had many years, many experiences before her. The "mommy" part of me wishes she had come to our home for a long visit. At times I still have the arrogance, the ego, to think we (Suzy and I) could have helped, could have made her "all better" --- even though I know that is not true.

So, it's farewell to someone I hoped to know better. Someone I was proud to call a friend, and who was connected to my past in a strange way -- one I did not imagine, until I met her.

I will have to cry now.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Thank You President Obama

"The way to make government responsible is to hold it accountable. And the way
to make government accountable is to make it transparent so that the American
people can know exactly what decisions are being made, how they're being made,
and whether their interests are being well served.

The directives I am
giving my administration today on how to interpret the Freedom of Information
Act will do just that. For a long time now, there's been too much secrecy in
this city. The old rules said that if there was a defensible argument for not
disclosing something to the American people then, it should not be disclosed.

That era is now over. Starting today, every agency and department should
know that this administration stands on the side not of those who seek to
withhold information but those who seek to make it known."

Barack H. Obama "

Drug Money Keeping Banks Afloat

What more can I say? Heck, enough Wall Street types put millions up their nose -- it's the least the dealers can do.

"U.N. crime chief says drug money flowed into banks
Published: January 25, 2009

VIENNA: The United Nations' crime and drug watchdog has indications that money made in illicit drug trade has been used to keep banks afloat in the global financial crisis, its head was quoted as saying on Sunday.

Vienna-based UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa said in an interview released by Austrian weekly Profil that drug money often became the only available capital when the crisis spiralled out of control last year.

"In many instances, drug money is currently the only liquid investment capital," Costa was quoted as saying by Profil. "In the second half of 2008, liquidity was the banking system's main problem and hence liquid capital became an important factor."

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime had found evidence that "interbank loans were funded by money that originated from drug trade and other illegal activities," Costa was quoted as saying. There were "signs that some banks were rescued in that way."

Profil said Costa declined to identify countries or banks which may have received drug money and gave no indication how much cash might be involved. He only said Austria was not on top of his list, Profil said.

(Reporting by Boris Groendahl; Editing by Charles Dick)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Layoffs Galore

Look through all the papers, newsreports, economic blogs and all you see are reports of LAYOFFS. Not just one or two -- but all over. Lots in retail, tech, Home Depot, Hertz, etc., etc., etc.

Right now, the market is up.

I think this is just an early round of job loss. More firms will be going bankrupt. Some will be liquidated. There will be permanent job loss -- at least until we have a real recovery.

Now, there's an interesting concept, a "real recovery" -- as opposed to another bubble. That is all we really had during the Bush years -- a bubble. Even as the bubble bursts, and TRILLIONS are lost, the "conservatives" do not want to accept the facts before their eyes. Former "middle class" folks are losing homes, hopes, dreams, futures -- and moving forward as best they can, while the wealthy, and formerly wealthy ALL want a bailout. In fact they seem to think they DESERVE a bailout. They can't seem to admit it was all air.

There are times I think our real Oligarchs promote these recessions, simply to teach some of the upstarts where they really belong in the scheme of things. Take the "new rich" down a peg or three -- show them where they really belong.

I've been told that's not so. My friends may well be right. I may well be wrong, but it just seems every new wealth "superstar" gets smacked down after a while.

Be that as it may (hows that for a mealy-mouthed phrase?), I think we are going to see some more really serious job losses -- with a sharp fall of the various stock markets -- until, eventually, the Republicans realize THEIR future might well be in jeopardy -- then we will see public works, infrastructure renewal, of a scale not currently imagined.

Either that, or they do not give a damn about the country.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Criminals in our midst.

Of course, this should be front page news. They think they have the right to rape us -- and expect us to say, "thank you".

ABC News, New York
Government regulators aided IndyMac coverup, maybe others
By Brian Ross, Justin Rood, and Joseph Rhee
Friday, January 16, 2009

A brewing fraud scandal at the Treasury Department may be worse than officials originally thought.

Investigators probing how Treasury regulators allowed a bank to falsify financial records hiding its ill health have found at least three other instances of similar apparent fraud, sources tell ABC News.

In at least one instance, investigators say, banking regulators actually approached the bank with the suggestion of falsifying deposit dates to satisfy banking rules -- even if it disguised the bank's health to the public.

Treasury Department Inspector General Eric Thorson announced in November his office would probe how a Savings and Loan overseer allowed the IndyMac bank to essentially cook its books, making it appear in government filings that the bank had more deposits than it really did. But Thorson's aides now say IndyMac wasn't the only institution to get such cozy assistance from the official who should have been the cop on the beat.

The federal government took over IndyMac in July, after the bank's stock price plummeted to just pennies a share when it was revealed the bank had financial troubles due to defaulted mortgages and subprime loans, costing taxpayers over $9 billion.

Darrel Dochow, the West Coast regional director at the Office of Thrift Supervision who allowed IndyMac to backdate its deposits, has been removed from his position but he remains on the government payroll while the Inspector General's Office investigates the allegations against him. Investigators say Dochow, who reportedly earns $230,000 a year, allowed IndyMac to register an $18 million capital injection it received in May in a report describing the bank's financial condition in the end of March.

"They [IndyMac] were able to maintain their well-capitalized threshold and continue to use broker deposits to make loans," said Marla Freedman, an assistant inspector general at Treasury. "Basically, while the institution was having financial difficulty, it kept the public from knowing earlier than it otherwise should have or would have."

In order to backdate the filings, IndyMac sought and received permission from Dochow, according to Freedman.

"That struck us as very unusual," said Freedman. "Typically transactions are to be recorded in the period in which they occur, not afterwards. So it was very unusual."

One former regulator says Dochow's actions illustrate the cozy relationship between banks and government regulators.

"He did nothing to protect taxpayers in losses," former federal bank regulator William Black told ABC News. "Instead of correcting it [Dochow] made it worse by increasing the accounting fraud."

Meanwhile, IndyMac customers who lost their savings are demanding answers and are further infuriated after learning Dochow was also the regulator in 1989 who oversaw the failed Lincoln Savings and Loan, a scandal that sent its CEO Charles Keating to prison.

"He's the person who claimed that he looked into Charles Keating's eyes and knew that Keating was a good guy and therefore ignored all of the professional staff that told him that Keating was a fraud, and he produced the worst failure of the Savings and Loan Crisis at $3.4 billion. Now he's managed more than triple that," said Black, now an economics professor at the University of Missouri in Kansas City, Missouri.

Following the Lincoln scandal, Dochow was demoted and placed into a relatively obscure office, but later, inexplicably was brought back into the Office of Thrift Supervision.

Dochow declined to answer questions from ABC News.

After Ronnie Lopez was killed in Iraq, his mother Elaine invested the life insurance proceeds at IndyMac. She lost $37,000 of it.

"I was hysterical," she told ABC News. "I literally thought I was going to kill myself that day, because I felt so bad that I had let him down. I remember going to his grave and telling him "don't worry, I'm going to get that money back,' and I feel like he was saying, 'Hey, Mom, don't let them take that. I did the ultimate for that.'"

A group of angry investors has started a website, demanding answers on the extent of Dochow's actions.

"It's just the strife and anger," said IndyMac customer Lisa Marshall. "That this Dochow person is still employed. It's unbelievable, it's shocking."

While Dochow could end up losing his job, neither he nor his colleagues are expected to go to prison.

"This is criminal with the small 'c,'" said Black. "No one within the regulatory ranks may go to jail, but they have done the worst possible disservice to the taxpayers of America.

Things we never hear about - things many do not want to hear about

Plight of Greece's migrants worsens
By Danylo Hawaleshka in Greece

The Patras camp in Greece houses about 1,200 illegal migrants
Ramzan can not say exactly how old he is. He figures he is about 23. As an illegal migrant from Afghanistan trying to live under the radar in Greece, celebrating birthdays takes a backseat to simply surviving another day.

On Wednesday, Ramzan's already difficult life took a marked turn for the worse.

Shortly after 7pm local time, he and a friend were talking within the confines of a shantytown in the Greek port city of Patras, situated in the northwest of the Peloponnese, when his friend suddenly said: "Hey, yo, yo, look down there! The tent is burning!"

The tent in question was actually more of a hut. Regardless, Ramzan's house was on fire and there was little he could do to save it. He had a small glass container to ferry water, but the fire was too big to contain.

The fire razed 65 huts in the sprawling settlement of rudimentary homes of corrugated cardboard, plastic sheeting and scrap wood, that has for more than a decade sheltered countless illegal migrants fleeing the Middle East and central Asia for Europe.

While no one was injured, more than 400 illegal migrants lost the roof over their heads right in the middle of Greece's cold, wet winter.

"There is absolutely nothing left of my house," Ramzan says. "We have nothing to eat, nothing to wear, and nothing to put on when we sleep."

For the past four months, Ramzan had been in the Patras camp, biding his time.

Like most of those living there, he is waiting for an opportune moment to stowaway on one of the many transport trucks which daily board the ferries plying the Ionian Sea bound for the Adriatic and various Italian ports.

Ramzan had previously made it as far as England, where he lived for four years before being deported to Afghanistan.

Heavy burden

Almost 48 hours after the devastation, aid workers and illegal migrants told Al Jazeera that Greek government officials had yet to respond to the practical needs of those left homeless.

"Last night I slept on the road; tonight I will sleep on the road," says Irfan, a 14-year-old Afghan who has lived in the camp for one month. "I need a home."

The Greek government generally takes a dim view of illegal migrants.

As one of the handful of nations on the European Union's periphery, Greece shoulders a disproportionately heavy burden when it comes to coping with the constant influx of refugees.

Still, the Hellenic nation has done little to change the fact that it has an abysmal record for granting migrants asylum, typically offering it to less than one per cent of those who seek it.

So when disaster strikes, it is often aid agencies like the Greek chapter of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and the Hellenic Red Cross that are forced to respond to the urgent need with what limited resources they can muster.

Seeking shelter

After Wednesday's fire MSF, with the help of the Red Cross and other volunteers, says it handed out 450 sleeping bags.

The agency, whose makeshift medical clinic was razed by the fire, also set up a tent to meet the medical and psycho-social needs of the camp's inhabitants.

"The fire was a big disaster," says Yorgos Karagiannis, MSF's head of mission in Patras.

Karagiannis says there are two theories behind what caused the fire: either a gas canister used for cooking exploded, or it was an electrical short-circuit caused by the haphazard wiring the camp's inhabitants rig to steal electricity from the surrounding apartment buildings.

Whatever the cause, the blaze led desperate migrants to seek shelter in half-completed apartment buildings currently under construction around the camp.

Others crowded into the already-crowded huts that were still standing.

"They are really packed in, but they could not do it any other way," Christos Karapiperis, a social worker with the Hellenic Red Cross, says.

Local anger

It took 18 firefighters and seven fire trucks two hours to douse the blaze, which destroyed between one-quarter and one-third of the camp.

Efforts to bring the fire under control were marred by a few local residents who taunted firefighters by shouting that they should allow the camp to burn to the ground.

"It was quite shocking to hear," Karagiannis says.

Many local residents are concerned that the camp serves as a magnet for crime.

"People are tired and angry by this situation with the immigrants," Karagiannis says.

"They have their reasons, which most of the time are not connected with reality that these people are dirty, that they bring diseases, those kinds of stereotypes."

Karagiannis says that as the neighbourhood watched the camp grow over the years, locals have worried that "these people pose a threat to their families" and the fire provided "a good opportunity to yell at them".

Underage migrants

Since July, the camp's population has swelled by more than 50 per cent, and now totals about 1,200 predominately Afghan males, many no more than boys, according to MSF.

Many illegal migrants from Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan end up in Greece [EPA]
According to Unicef, more than half of the 27 million inhabitants of Afghanistan are under 18.

Last July, Radhika Coomaraswamy, a special representative of the UN secretary-general for children and armed conflict, said that the children of Afghanistan are increasingly used by "armed groups, including the Taliban, as combatants, porters of munitions, informants and in some cases as carriers of improvised explosive devices".

Coomaraswamy also spoke of the "worrisome allegations about sexual violence against boys by armed actors" within the war-torn nation.

Little wonder then that on Friday, many of the 50 or so homeless Afghans standing around shivering in the drizzling rain were, like Irfan, underage.

"I need the help of the government," the boy said, struggling with his rudimentary English.

Asked how he felt, he replied: "I don't feel any good things."

'Just another obstacle'

Last summer, migrants were able to quickly bring under control a similar blaze with fire extinguishers that MSF says it had placed at strategic points throughout the camp. This time they were not so lucky.

"For the refugees, it's just another obstacle" says the Red Cross's Karapiperis.

On the day after the fire, the municipality of Patras pledged 20,000 Euros to the relief effort, to be administered by the Red Cross and earmarked for tents, clothes and medical supplies, Zois Marinos, a spokesman for the city, said.

Karagiannis says he heard that the Greek government plans to find a place nearby to relocate the refugees.

"But under what status, how and when, we do not have this information," he says.

A source requesting anonymity confirmed that this was indeed the case, saying that the Greek interior ministry intends to move the inhabitants of the camp to an abandoned sports complex to the south of the port.

Asked what would happen if the illegal migrants should refuse to move, the source said: "I am afraid they do not have any other choice. Their camp has been destroyed."

Government inaction

Almost 24 hours after the blaze had broken out, and with darkness at hand, no government help was apparent in the camp, Karagiannis said.

"We do not know what to expect, but right now the situation is the same as one hour after the fire," he said, standing amid blackened ruins.

"Nothing has changed here. Maybe we will see something more practical in the coming hours, but so far nothing."

It seems as if government officials prefer to ignore migrants, afraid that offering assistance could somehow be construed as legitimising their legal status within Greece, Karapiperis says.

"If the local authorities provided the refugees with tents, they would in a way be officially recognising the situation," he says.

More than 48 hours after the fire, the air was still thick with the reek of charred wood. An acrid stench, perhaps caused by melted plastic, irritated the throats of those standing around.

A bulldozer had earlier plowed debris from the fire to the side of the camp, where the homeless now scoured for anything useful that had somehow survived the conflagration.

Someone nearby hammered away at a singed hut, trying to repair the damage before it rained any harder.

Water from fire hoses had turned the camp's ground to mud, a problem only exacerbated by the heavy rain that followed.

The day after the fire, Ramzan says a policeman he asked for help, had told him that someone would provide him with clothes and a blanket.

"And I said, 'but the blanket doesn't stop the rain.' The police said he can not do anything."

Now, feeling "very cold and very wet" and with only six Euros in his pocket, Ramzan is still waiting for answers.
Source: Al Jazeera

Go for "the baths" -- cure EVERYTHING!!

World's highest drug levels entering India stream

Jan 25, 10:54 PM (ET)


PATANCHERU, India (AP) - When researchers analyzed vials of treated wastewater taken from a plant where about 90 Indian drug factories dump their residues, they were shocked. Enough of a single, powerful antibiotic was being spewed into one stream each day to treat every person in a city of 90,000.

And it wasn't just ciprofloxacin being detected. The supposedly cleaned water was a floating medicine cabinet - a soup of 21 different active pharmaceutical ingredients, used in generics for treatment of hypertension, heart disease, chronic liver ailments, depression, gonorrhea, ulcers and other ailments. Half of the drugs measured at the highest levels of pharmaceuticals ever detected in the environment, researchers say.

Those Indian factories produce drugs for much of the world, including many Americans. The result: Some of India's poor are unwittingly consuming an array of chemicals that may be harmful, and could lead to the proliferation of drug-resistant bacteria.

"If you take a bath there, then you have all the antibiotics you need for treatment," said chemist Klaus Kuemmerer at the University of Freiburg Medical Center in Germany, an expert on drug resistance in the environment who did not participate in the research. "If you just swallow a few gasps of water, you're treated for everything. The question is for how long?"

Last year, The Associated Press reported that trace concentrations of pharmaceuticals had been found in drinking water provided to at least 46 million Americans. But the wastewater downstream from the Indian plants contained 150 times the highest levels detected in the U.S.

At first, Joakim Larsson, an environmental scientist at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, questioned whether 100 pounds a day of ciprofloxacin could really be running into the stream. The researcher was so baffled by the unprecedented results he sent the samples to a second lab for independent analysis.

When those reports came back with similarly record-high levels, Larsson knew he was looking at a potentially serious situation. After all, some villagers fish in the stream's tributaries, while others drink from wells nearby. Livestock also depend on these watering holes.

Some locals long believed drugs were seeping into their drinking water, and new data from Larsson's study presented at a U.S. scientific conference in November confirmed their suspicions. Ciprofloxacin, the antibiotic, and the popular antihistamine cetirizine had the highest levels in the wells of six villages tested. Both drugs measured far below a human dose, but the results were still alarming.

"We don't have any other source, so we're drinking it," said R. Durgamma, a mother of four, sitting on the steps of her crude mud home in a bright flowered sari a few miles downstream from the treatment plant. High drug concentrations were recently found in her well water. "When the local leaders come, we offer them water and they won't take it."

(AP) Linda Svensson, from a Swedish research team, collects mud samples from Iska Vagu stream in...
Full Image
Pharmaceutical contamination is an emerging concern worldwide. In its series of articles, AP documented the commonplace presence of minute concentrations of pharmaceuticals in U.S. drinking water supplies. The AP also found that trace concentrations of pharmaceuticals were almost ubiquitous in rivers, lakes and streams.

The medicines are excreted without being fully metabolized by people who take them, while hospitals and long-term care facilities annually flush millions of pounds of unused pills down the drain. Until Larsson's research, there had been widespread consensus among researchers that drug makers were not a source.

The consequences of the India studies are worrisome.

As the AP reported last year, researchers are finding that human cells fail to grow normally in the laboratory when exposed to trace concentrations of certain pharmaceuticals. Some waterborne drugs also promote antibiotic-resistant germs, especially when - as in India - they are mixed with bacteria in human sewage. Even extremely diluted concentrations of drug residues harm the reproductive systems of fish, frogs and other aquatic species in the wild.

In the India research, tadpoles exposed to water from the treatment plant that had been diluted 500 times were nonetheless 40 percent smaller than those growing in clean water.

The discovery of this contamination raises two key issues for researchers and policy makers: the amount of pollution and its source. Experts say one of the biggest concerns for humans is whether the discharge from the wastewater treatment facility is spawning drug resistance.

"Not only is there the danger of antibiotic-resistant bacteria evolving; the entire biological food web could be affected," said Stan Cox, senior scientist at the Land Institute, a nonprofit agriculture research center in Salina, Kan. Cox has studied and written about pharmaceutical pollution in Patancheru. "If Cipro is so widespread, it is likely that other drugs are out in the environment and getting into people's bodies."

Before Larsson's team tested the water at Patancheru Enviro Tech Ltd. plant, researchers largely attributed the source of drugs in water to their use, rather than their manufacture.

In the U.S., the EPA says there are "well defined and controlled" limits to the amount of pharmaceutical waste emitted by drug makers.

India's environmental protections are being met at Patancheru, says Rajeshwar Tiwari, who heads the area's pollution control board. And while he says regulations have tightened since Larsson's initial research, screening for pharmaceutical residue at the end of the treatment process is not required.

Factories in the U.S. report on releases of 22 active pharmaceutical ingredients, the AP found by analyzing EPA data. But many more drugs have been discovered in domestic drinking water.

Possibly complicating the situation, Larsson's team also found high drug concentration levels in lakes upstream from the treatment plant, indicating potential illegal dumping - an issue both Indian pollution officials and the drug industry acknowledge has been a past problem, but one they say is practiced much less now.

In addition, before Larsson's study detected such large concentrations of ciprofloxacin and other drugs in the treated wastewater, levels of pharmaceuticals detected in the environment and drinking water worldwide were minute, well below a human dose.

"I'll tell you, I've never seen concentrations this high before. And they definitely ... are having some biological impact, at least in the effluent," said Dan Schlenk, an ecotoxicologist from the University of California, Riverside, who was not involved in the India research.

And even though the levels recently found in Indian village wells were much lower than the wastewater readings, someone drinking regularly from the worst-affected reservoirs would receive more than two full doses of an antihistamine in a year.

"Who has a responsibility for a polluted environment when the Third World produces drugs for our well being?" Larsson asked scientists at a recent environmental research conference.

M. Narayana Reddy, president of India's Bulk Drug Manufacturers Association, disputes Larsson's initial results: "I have challenged it," he said. "It is the wrong information provided by some research person."

Reddy acknowledged the region is polluted, but said that the contamination came from untreated human excrement and past industry abuses. He and pollution control officials also say villagers are supposed to drink clean water piped in from the city or hauled in by tankers - water a court ordered industry to provide. But locals complain of insufficient supplies and some say they are forced to use wells.

Larsson's research has created a stir among environmental experts, and his findings are widely accepted in the scientific community.

"That's really quite an incredible and disturbing level," said Renee Sharp, senior analyst at the Washington-based Environmental Working Group. "It's absolutely the last thing you would ever want to see when you're talking about the rise of antibiotic bacterial resistance in the world."

The more bacteria is exposed to a drug, the more likely that bacteria will mutate in a way that renders the drug ineffective. Such resistant bacteria can then possibly infect others who spread the bugs as they travel. Ciprofloxacin was once considered a powerful antibiotic of last resort, used to treat especially tenacious infections. But in recent years many bacteria have developed resistance to the drug, leaving it significantly less effective.

"We are using these drugs, and the disease is not being cured - there is resistance going on there," said Dr. A. Kishan Rao, a medical doctor and environmental activist who has treated people for more than 30 years near the drug factories. He says he worries most about the long-term effects on his patients potentially being exposed to constant low levels of drugs. And then there's the variety, the mixture of drugs that aren't supposed to interact. No one knows what effects that could cause.

"It's a global concern," he said. "European countries and the U.S. are protecting their environment and importing the drugs at the cost of the people in developing countries."

While the human risks are disconcerting, Sharp said the environmental damage is potentially even worse.

"People might say, 'Oh sure, that's just a dirty river in India,' but we live on a small planet, everything is connected. The water in a river in India could be the rain coming down in your town in a few weeks," she said.

Patancheru became a hub for largely unregulated chemical and drug factories in the 1980s, creating what one local newspaper has termed an "ecological sacrifice zone" with its waste. Since then, India has become one of the world's leading exporters of pharmaceuticals, and the U.S. - which spent $1.4 billion on Indian-made drugs in 2007 - is its largest customer.

A spokesman for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, representing major U.S. drugmakers, said they could not comment about the Indian pollution because the Patancheru plants are making generic drugs and their members are branded. A spokesman for the Generic Pharmaceutical Association said the issues of Indian factory pollution are "not within the scope of the activities" of their group.

Drug factories in the U.S. and Europe have strictly enforced waste treatment processes. At the Patancheru water treatment plant, the process is outdated, with wastewater from the 90 bulk drug makers trucked to the plant and poured into a cistern. Solids are filtered out, then raw sewage is added to biologically break down the chemicals. The wastewater, which has been clarified but is still contaminated, is dumped into the Isakavagu stream that runs into the Nakkavagu and Manjira, and eventually into the Godawari River.

In India, villagers near this treatment plant have a long history of fighting pollution from various industries and allege their air, water and crops have been poisoned for decades by factories making everything from tires to paints and textiles. Some lakes brim with filmy, acrid water that burns the nostrils when inhaled and causes the eyes to tear.

"I'm frustrated. We have told them so many times about this problem, but nobody does anything," said Syed Bashir Ahmed, 80, casting a makeshift fishing pole while crouched in tall grass along the river bank near the bulk drug factories. "The poor are helpless. What can we do?"."

Friday, January 23, 2009

From The Sofia Echo

Villagers with pitchforks, etc., etc., etc.


My Bulgaria: Gays on TV
10:00 Fri 23 Jan 2009 - Petar Kostadinov

Waking up a few days ago, the TV on as usual, I was going through the Bulgarian television morning shows when I heard something that grabbed my attention. The studio presenter said: “And now we go to our correspondent in the village of X to tell us the story of how a gay couple who decided to settle there was chased away by the villagers who did not want to have gay people there.”

Hey, I thought, this is something new. It got even better: “The partners are a Bulgarian and an Icelandic national.” Hmm, a foreigner involved, I thought, what could be more interesting. I immediately started drawing pictures in my head of how the gay couple arrived in the remote village and started scandalising the locals, only to get a fist in the face and a kick in the back. There have been plenty of movies with such a plot.

The TV presenter obviously had the same idea, because she was very eager to get to the angry villagers and ask them questions about the “gay couple”.
So was the correspondent sent to investigate this case of intolerance. TV cameras showed the correspondent surrounded by a group of people, mostly young, quietly standing there, not holding any swastikas or pitchforks.

The TV presenter asked the first question: “Are these the first gay people in your village?”
The answer was simple. “Yes, we have never had gays before, but we have nothing against them and we don’t mind if they stay because I don’t care what they want to do or how.”

The presenter was obviously disappointed, because this answer did not fit the way the story had been presented.
“But have you had problems with the gay couple?” she said. “No, not a single problem,” came the reply. “We think that the golf course will be good for the village.”

Golf course? What golf course, I thought.
It turns out that the couple had bought a house in the village a few years ago and this past summer decided to explore opportunities for building a golf course in the area and advertising it in Iceland. The Bulgarian partner was on the phone from Iceland, confirming the information and saying that the couple was, in fact, living in Iceland full-time and that they simply had property in the village and did not really live there.

"We have never been called names by the villagers,” he said, disappointing the TV presenter even more. The correspondent in the village, however, decided to justify the expenses of being sent there and turned to a young girl. “So, how did you live with the gay couple? Were you friends?”
“No, we weren’t. We actually had problems and did not understand each other well.”

This certainly grabbed the correspondent’s attention. “What do you mean, you did not have a good understanding with the couple?”
“Well, I don’t speak English and that’s why I could not talk to the foreign guy,” the girl said.
The correspondent would not give up. “But if you had to vote for the Bulgarian partner in the gay couple as mayor, would you choose him? “Yes, sure, why not?”
The TV presenter then ran out of time and terminated the live broadcast.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

3 fish -- all the same

Three very different fish -- all the same. Specialized males, females, and juveniles. I sometimes wonder how the anti-evolution-right-wing-religious-radicals handle stuff like this.

Some fish change sex as they grow. Witness the Black Sea Bass: "The black sea bass has an unusual life cycle: most individuals are hermaphroditic, reproducing both as female and a male at some time in their lives. Although some fish are males from the time they reach sexual maturity, most produce eggs when they first mature. At some subsequent point the ovary tissues in these fish become non-functional, while at the same time testes commence production of sperm. The age at which individuals "switch" from female to male is variable, although most fish have done so before they are 6 years old. In heavily exploited populations in which larger, older males are selectively harvested, the resulting death of males causes females to change sex at a younger age and smaller size than would be the case in populations less depleted by fishing. The effects of reduced abundance of males and reduced average size of females on the reproductive capacity of sea bass populations is not fully understood." (from Mass. Division of Marine Fisheries)

So, if you don't believe in evolution, do you think your God has a sense of humor? Since they reproduce as both females and males, is it possible that your God is saying, "stop sweating the small stuff -- there is more out here than you can imagine"? Anyway, that's about Sea Bass. This new fish was known as three related fish -- it has now been shown they are one. The females have huge mouths -- and the males jaws are fused -- they have no mouth.

Scientists solve mystery: 3 fish are all the same

Jan 22, 6:17 PM (ET)


WASHINGTON (AP) - Researchers believe they have solved the puzzle of three seemingly different fish, one all males, one all females and one all juveniles. They're the same fish, and undergo remarkable changes as they mature. "You can imagine it was a pretty exciting discovery," said G. David Johnson, an ichthyologist at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. "The pieces kept falling into place."

"And it tells you how little we know about the deep sea, Johnson said in a telephone interview.

The fish live in the sparsely populated deep water thousands of feet below the surface, though as youngsters they rise to shallower levels where there is more to eat.

Cetomimidae, a type of whalefish, had been known since the 19th century, but only females had been found.

Seemingly related species called Mirapinnidae, or tapetails, and Megalomycteridae, or bignose fish, were identified in the 1950s and 1960s. Tapetails were only found as juveniles and bignoses only as males.

Although their skeletons indicated the three were related, there were so many differences no one could believe they were the same fish at different sexes or stages in life, Johnson said.

But it turns out that is the case, Johnson and colleagues report this week in Biology Letters, a journal of Britain's Royal Society.

All three will now be classified as Cetomimidae, he said.

Johnson said the researchers were able to link the fish through comparative anatomical study and, once they obtained fresh samples, by their DNA.

The larvae are called tapetails because they grow long streamers, he said. The purpose of the streamer remains unknown, but several fish larvae develop similar appendages, so it must have some value, he said. They reside within 600 feet of the surface, a region well stocked with food.

As adults, however, these fish descend thousands of feet down into the dark ocean.

There is scarce food there and the females cope by developing a large mouth - a common trait among fish living in the deepest waters - and they even develop teeth in their gill area that can serve as an additional mouth.

Even stranger, males who reach adulthood don't eat at all. Having gorged as larvae, their jaw fuses and they develop a vestigial gut that only stores shells from previous meals. That's an advantage, Johnson said, because in the deep ocean "there's not a lot of food, you're better off taking your lunch with you." The males gorge as larvae and grow a giant liver, storing energy there to live on.

"This thing was basically a set of testes looking for the female," Johnson said.

The males also develop a large nose to sense smells in the dark water.

Meanwhile, researchers had noted that females have some unusual tissue, separate from the skin, on their body. It's not luminous, so Johnson speculated that this tissue may produce a pheromone that the big-nosed male can home in on.

Co-authors of the paper were John R. Paxton of the Australian Museum, Sydney; Tracey T. Sutton of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Takashi P. Satoh and Mutsumi Nishida of the University of Tokyo and Tetsuya Sado and Masaki Miya of the Natural History Museum, Chiba, Japan.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

More "Brilliance" from evolutionary psychologists

This from : I Blame The Patriarchy

I'm so happy these pigs publish, and believe, such rubbish. They absolutely prove that men are almost always assholes. Total insanity.

New study explains women!
Published January 21st, 2009 in Junk Studies. 19 Comments

You sexually unfulfilled girls will be happy to know that your problem has been analyzed by brilliant evolutionary psychologists at the University of Newcastle who have been working round the clock to unlock the unknowable mysteries of women’s orgasmicality.

Their conclusion: You have not been boning wealthy men.

Rich dudes, quoth the sexperts, are able capitalize on women’s hardwired predisposition to be physically gratified by money, causing their partners to sexplode with greater frequency than they do when putting out for mere Joe Sixpacks.

Because the brilliant evolutionary psychologists grasp the little-known fact that all women are straight, there is no word on whether wads of cash influence the number of orgasms “gay” girls experience. Thus it is my conjecture, based on this exciting new research, that “lesbians” only exist because they were, in their formative years, unable to find rich enough guys, thus giving them the erroneous impression that sex with men was kind of gross.

[Gracias, Deana]

This from Whitehouse.Gov

If I'm going to complain, I'd better post the good stuff too:

Support for the LGBT Community

"While we have come a long way since the Stonewall riots in 1969, we still have a lot of work to do. Too often, the issue of LGBT rights is exploited by those seeking to divide us. But at its core, this issue is about who we are as Americans. It's about whether this nation is going to live up to its founding promise of equality by treating all its citizens with dignity and respect."

-- Barack Obama, June 1, 2007

* Expand Hate Crimes Statutes: In 2004, crimes against LGBT Americans constituted the third-highest category of hate crime reported and made up more than 15 percent of such crimes. President Obama cosponsored legislation that would expand federal jurisdiction to include violent hate crimes perpetrated because of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or physical disability. As a state senator, President Obama passed tough legislation that made hate crimes and conspiracy to commit them against the law.
* Fight Workplace Discrimination: President Obama supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and believes that our anti-discrimination employment laws should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity. While an increasing number of employers have extended benefits to their employees' domestic partners, discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace occurs with no federal legal remedy. The President also sponsored legislation in the Illinois State Senate that would ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
* Support Full Civil Unions and Federal Rights for LGBT Couples: President Obama supports full civil unions that give same-sex couples legal rights and privileges equal to those of married couples. Obama also believes we need to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally-recognized unions. These rights and benefits include the right to assist a loved one in times of emergency, the right to equal health insurance and other employment benefits, and property rights.
* Oppose a Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriage: President Obama voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2006 which would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman and prevented judicial extension of marriage-like rights to same-sex or other unmarried couples.
* Repeal Don't Ask-Don't Tell: President Obama agrees with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili and other military experts that we need to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The key test for military service should be patriotism, a sense of duty, and a willingness to serve. Discrimination should be prohibited. The U.S. government has spent millions of dollars replacing troops kicked out of the military because of their sexual orientation. Additionally, more than 300 language experts have been fired under this policy, including more than 50 who are fluent in Arabic. The President will work with military leaders to repeal the current policy and ensure it helps accomplish our national defense goals.
* Expand Adoption Rights: President Obama believes that we must ensure adoption rights for all couples and individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation. He thinks that a child will benefit from a healthy and loving home, whether the parents are gay or not.
* Promote AIDS Prevention: In the first year of his presidency, President Obama will develop and begin to implement a comprehensive national HIV/AIDS strategy that includes all federal agencies. The strategy will be designed to reduce HIV infections, increase access to care and reduce HIV-related health disparities. The President will support common sense approaches including age-appropriate sex education that includes information about contraception, combating infection within our prison population through education and contraception, and distributing contraceptives through our public health system. The President also supports lifting the federal ban on needle exchange, which could dramatically reduce rates of infection among drug users. President Obama has also been willing to confront the stigma -- too often tied to homophobia -- that continues to surround HIV/AIDS.
* Empower Women to Prevent HIV/AIDS: In the United States, the percentage of women diagnosed with AIDS has quadrupled over the last 20 years. Today, women account for more than one quarter of all new HIV/AIDS diagnoses. President Obama introduced the Microbicide Development Act, which will accelerate the development of products that empower women in the battle against AIDS. Microbicides are a class of products currently under development that women apply topically to prevent transmission of HIV and other infections.

You are Here: Home > The Agenda > Civil Rights

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Meanwhile, back at the economy

Layoffs continue

Bank of America may slash as much as 4,000 jobs as it absorbs Merrill Lynch, the Financial Times reported Tuesday.

The DOW closed at 7949 -- down 4%

California is in "crisis".

Citi has become worthless -- it's just a matter of time before it's allowed to die.

Banks tied to Commercial Real Estate are being choked. It's just a matter of time with some of them.

Banks dropping like stones: Citigroup (C) off 20%

JPMorgan (JPM) off 21%

Goldman Sachs (GS) off 19%

Wells Fargo (WFC) off 24%

Morgan Stanley (MS) off 16%

Some malls will begin to look like parts of Detroit -- where you can buy houses for ZERO (plus taxes and closing costs). Someone called it "urban prairie.

Let us hope there are some smart people out there. I do not want to spend my "twilight years" in a large carton

Jan.20th 2009

Here we go! I hope he knows what he's doing. It's interesting that both Byrd and Kennedy took sick at the luncheon. It really is a changing of the guard. Out with the old -- in with the new.

It's a post-boomer era, folks to whom the New Deal, or the Great Society are just words on a page. Folks who know the 60's and 70's through books and music, losing the flavor and fervor of the era. Reading revisionist histories that ignore the real achievements, and the promise of that era.

We've lost a major part of our history. Let us hope the "kids" can move this great experiment forward.

"Freedom and justice for all" would be a nice thing.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Fix It Again Tony (Fiat)

The Wall Street Journal reports that Fiat may take control of Chrysler.

What could be better?

This from The WSJ:

JANUARY 20, 2009

Fiat Nears Stake in Chrysler That Could Lead to Takeover

By STACY MEICHTRY in Rome and JOHN STOLL in Detroit

In an attempt to revive two of the world's storied auto makers, Italy's Fiat SpA and Chrysler LLC are poised to announce a partnership as soon as today in which Fiat could take control of the U.S. company's operations, people familiar with the matter said.

Under terms of a pact that is being hammered out, Fiat is likely to take a 35% stake in Chrysler by the middle of this year. It would have the option of increasing that to as much as 55%, these people said.

Fiat, the stronger of the two, wouldn't immediately put cash into Chrysler. Instead it would obtain its stake mainly in exchange for covering the cost of retooling a Chrysler plant to produce one or more Fiat models to be sold in the U.S., these people said. Fiat would also provide engine and transmission technology to help Chrysler introduce new, fuel-efficient small cars, they said.

The deal is the latest maneuver by Fiat's chief, Sergio Marchionne, who has pulled the Italian company back from the brink collapse since taking over in 2004.

The partnership would provide each company with economies of scale and geographical reach at a time when both are struggling to compete with larger and more global rivals like Toyota Motor Corp., Volkswagen AG and the alliance of Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co.

Chrysler last year sold two million cars and trucks world-wide, with almost all of its sales in North America. Fiat sold 2.5 million vehicles and is heavily dependent on Europe -- particularly its home market in Italy.

While Fiat has a wider global reach than Chrysler, the two auto makers are smaller players compared to their global rivals. Toyota and General Motors, for instance, each have sold more than nine million vehicles annually.

Chrysler spokeswoman Lori McTavish said, "In today's economic environment, talks are going on between companies in all industries -- ours is no different."

The pact with Fiat could give Chrysler a stronger case as it seeks more loans from the U.S. government. Chrysler nearly ran out of money late last year, before the Treasury Department provided $4 billion in emergency loans, and has suffered a steep drop in sales in the past three months. The auto maker needs to show it can remain a viable business by March to keep those loans and to qualify for the $3 billion in additional government aid it says it needs.

Last week, a vocal critic of Chrysler, Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) said the company needs to "merge or go away." A Chrysler official declined to comment on Sen. Corker's remark.

Kimberly Rodriquez, an automotive consultant at Detroit-based advisory firm Grant Thornton, said Chrysler has little choice but to find an alliance. "Without further funding, they don't survive with the level of sales and cash they have right now," she said in a telephone interview.

Working with Fiat could complicate a separate partnership Chrysler arranged last year with Nissan. Chrysler is supposed to start making pickup trucks in a few years that Nissan would sell in the U.S., and Nissan has agreed to make compact cars for Chrysler -- vehicles that potentially could compete with any small cars Fiat provides to Chrysler.

Chrysler and Nissan have discussed joining in a broader alliance, and top executives of the two companies spoke as recently as last week, a person familiar with the matter said. But Carlos Ghosn, chief executive of Nissan and Renault, is wary of any deal that would require Nissan to put money into Chrysler, a person familiar with Mr. Ghosn's thinking said.

A Nissan spokesman said the company intends to maintain its supply relationship with Chrysler "in the same spirit we do with the many other automakers we have similar arrangements with."

* Fiat CEO Builds Record Of Bold Strategic Moves

The tentative terms Fiat and Chrysler have worked out would call for Chrysler's owners, Cerberus Capital Management LP and Daimler AG, to retain stakes in the U.S. car maker, people familiar with the discussions said. Cerberus will see its 80.1% stake diluted. It is unclear whether Daimler will want to keep its entire 19.9% stake.

A Daimler spokesman said he couldn't immediately comment on the matter.

News of the partnership was previously reported by Automotive News, a trade publication.

The potential alliance will need the blessing of Fiat's founding family, the Agnellis. The family, which holds a 30% controlling stake in Fiat, has said in the past that to stay competitive, Fiat needed to link up with a larger rival.

Fiat's board is likely to discuss the potential deal with Chrysler when it meets Thursday to approve third-quarter results, one person familiar with the matter said.

The Fiat deal would effectively end an attempt by Cerberus to resurrect the troubled U.S. auto maker that began in 2007. Chrysler merged with Daimler in 1998 to form DaimlerChrysler AG, but the marriage ended in part amid concerns that the U.S. arm was a drag on earnings.

Cerberus snapped up Chrysler with the promise it could speed product development and other decisions thanks to its status as a private company. To come up with cash to fund its ambitions, Cerberus had Chrysler mortgage almost all of its plants and other assets to raise $12 billion in loans from a group of banks led by J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup.

Then, in the spring of 2008, gasoline prices soared to $4 a gallon and sales of Chrysler's most profitable trucks and SUVs plunged.

Scrambling to save cash, Chrysler slowed development of new vehicles. At the North American International Auto Show, which opened last week in Detroit, Chrysler didn't show a single vehicle that will be launched in 2009.

Chrysler's troubles worsened last fall when the meltdown on Wall Street hit. In the second half of 2008, the company used up $10 billion in cash, forcing it to seek help from the U.S. government. As part of the deal with Fiat, Chrysler is supposed to restructure the $9 billion in debt it still has on its books, people familiar with the matter said.

While the private-equity firm and its investors likely will lose billions on the Chrysler deal, Cerberus would possibly face an even bigger hit if forced to put Chrysler in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection or continue running the auto maker amid the deep slump in the U.S. auto industry.

It is Cerberus's latest investment to be crushed by the auto-industry slowdown. In 2006, Cerberus paid billions for a controlling stake in GMAC LLC, the finance arm for GM. But Cerberus eventually had to agree to unload much of its stake in order to receive a bailout for the troubled lender late last year.

Fiat is also facing challenges. Analysts have long doubted whether it has the scale to survive as an independent manufacturer of small cars. Small vehicles have relatively thin profit margins.

Fiat has for months been exploring ways to gain a foothold in North America, hunting for a partner that could manufacture its Fiat 500 mini model and re-launch its high-end Alfa Romeo brand in the U.S.

Most analysts say Chrysler has little hope of surviving as a standalone company. Amid a rash of mergers in recent decades, and the rise of well-funded newcomers in China and India, the auto industry is dominated by multinational players that can quickly move production and engineering from region to region.
—Jeff Bennett and Jeff McCracken contributed to this article.

Write to Stacy Meichtry at and John Stoll at

What Promise?

The "promise" of Obama does not seem to include the LGBTQ, etc., etc. communities.

We are not included as a part of anyone's agenda. Fend for ourselves is what we must do. As always, we only get movement when we make a pain in the ass of ourselves.

Obama neither respects nor understands us -- nor does he seem to want to.

Once again, we will have to demonstrate, make pests of ourselves, boycott, act up, act out.

Look at what folks do -- and -- what they say.

They are already killing us. Comb the news reports, LGBT folks are being killed at what appears to be an ever increasing rate. It's time to think of self defense. It's time to understand things are getting worse -- and with the economic downturn, they will get worse yet.

Act as if your life and future are at stake -- remember: "Silence = Death"

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Gene Robinson WHO??

I watched the Pre-Inaugural-Bash on HBO today. You know, the one where The Good-Gay-Bishop (who seemed to designate himself a spokesperson for the entire LGBT community by his comments) was going to do the "really important invocation".

Only one little problem -- HBO did not broadcast any of it. Nor, it appears, did anyone else.

So, the "really-important-invocation" was not seen by many folks --- and, according to reports, there seem to have been some "sound problems", cause folks said they couldn't hear him either.

Nor was the lovely gay-men's-chorus ID'ed. Thank @#$ they wore their red ribbons.

Is this considered "backing up the bus", like that woman in Houston did to her husband -- "accidentally" running him over three times?

Violence due to economic crisis

This from "Common Sense Forecaster". I find the response to protests rather interesting. Can you imagine such a response here -- in the "Home Of The Free (TM)"?

Violence Due to the Economic Crisis

In December the head of the IMF warned about widespread civil unrest due to the deteriorating economic situation across the globe. There have already been problems in Greece, Russia, and China in the last several months. Now there are problems in Latvia and Bulgaria. I am no expert on the politics of these countries and I certainly do not profess any special knowledge about this situation, but the civil unrest in certain countries is just part of the unfolding tapestry of the economic crisis. We'll see how things go. Text in bold is my emphasis. From the NY Times:

Violent protests over political grievances and mounting economic woes shook the Latvian capital, Riga, late Tuesday, leaving around 25 people injured and leading to 106 arrests.

Officers cleared demonstrators on Wednesday in Sofia, Bulgaria. Several countries have faced protests over economic issues.

A protester faced riot police officers on Tuesday in Riga, Latvia. About 25 people were injured when the rally turned violent.

In the wake of the demonstrations, President Valdis Zatlers threatened Wednesday to call for a referendum that would allow voters to dissolve Parliament, saying trust in the government, including in its ability to deal with growing economic problems, had “collapsed catastrophically.”

For years, Latvia boasted of double-digit economic growth rates, but it has been shaken by the global economic downturn. Its central bank has spent a fifth of its reserves to guard against a steep devaluation of its currency, the lat, and experts expect a 5 percent contraction of the country’s gross domestic product in 2009. Salaries are expected to fall substantially, and unemployment is expected to rise.

The violence followed days of clashes in Greece last month over a number of issues, including economic stagnation and rising poverty as well as widespread corruption and a troubled education system. In Bulgaria on Wednesday, separate riots broke out in the capital, Sofia, after more than 2,000 people — including students, farmers and environmental activists — demonstrated in front of Parliament over economic conditions, Reuters reported.

Mr. Zatlers has long been aligned with the governing coalition, so his threat to dissolve Parliament came as a surprise — and was testament to nervousness about how economic troubles in the region could intersect with simmering political grievances.

The rioting broke out Tuesday after around 10,000 people protested in historic Dome Square over the economic troubles and grievances involving corruption and competence of the government.

Several hundred protesters lingered after most of the crowd had left and started throwing snowballs and cobblestones at government buildings.

Several demonstrators also threw Molotov cocktails, according to Mareks Mattisons, a spokesman for Latvia’s Interior Ministry. In a public statement on Wednesday, President Zatlers denounced the violence, but said it was more important to ask “why people gathered in Dome Square.”

“We must not face further confrontation, we must do the things that are demanded by the public,” he said. “I refer to constitutional amendments, a plan to stimulate the economy, and reform of the national system of governance.”

Krisjanis Karins, a member of Parliament and former leader of the opposition New Era party, said the violence showed that financial woes had injected a new vehemence into old political complaints.

Protests in Latvia, he said, tended to follow a pattern of “standing, singing and just going home,” but the young protesters who showed up on Tuesday evening “seem to think the Greek or French way of expressing anger is better,” he said.

“In our neck of the woods, this just doesn’t happen,” he said. “But it did this time. Everyone is trying to figure out how much of this was provoked. Who are these people? Where did they come from?”

Whatever the answer, he said, Tuesday’s protests seem likely to force political change.

“In six months, we’re going to look back and yesterday will be a watershed,” he said. “I would be deeply surprised if it were not.”

President Zatlers made a series of strict demands of the Parliament, including a constitutional amendment that would allow voters to dismiss Parliament, and a new supervisory council to oversee economic development and the state’s use of loans.

He called for “new faces in the government,” chosen for competence rather than “their influence in the relevant party.” He said the changes must be made by March 31, or else he would propose a referendum that could dissolve Parliament.

“Only with such specific work can we calm the public down and offer at least a bit of hope that the process in this country will develop in a favorable direction,” he said

Saturday, January 17, 2009


My profile says I have "varied interests" -- yet, it seems all I blog about is the economy, or my anger toward the current regime.

Did I ever mention we have Cats?

Of course we have Cats.

Are you surprised?

Every one has been rescued from a shelter. Every one has had "issues". Every one is happier now than they were when we adopted them. I guess "three hots and a cot" along with feline friends, lots of pettage, and good medical care will do that.

Some are "special needs" cats.

I'll tell you one story.

We saw Mitzie online at the Siamese rescue site. She was from a cattery (I think "kitten mill") in Montreal, Canada. She is a very pretty Black Oriental Shorthair -- her health papers were in french, and she was / is very skittish. In fact she will not allow you to approach her -- look at her and she runs away. It seems she was never socialized. It appears she was kept in a cage, and her only function was to have kittens. I guess her only contact with bipeds were very frightening. She was not feral, she was a prisoner - used to make money for others. She gets along with the other Cats, has close cat friends -- and, after four years seems to understand we will not harm her.

Every so often her need for pettage is so great she wakes one of us up in the middle of the night and DEMANDS to be petted. She hurls her body against you until you respond. Gets petted , scratched, and cuddled until we both fall asleep -- but -- if you sit up in bed -- she's gone.

Mitzie (actual name Mitsuko) walks like a supermodel, is sleek and graceful. Most Cats lie down very gracefully. They seem to flow -- Mitzie plops. It's as if she falls over, yet she does everything else so smoothly. I wonder if it's connected to living in a cage for so long?

She never comes to us, never sat in a lap, never wants our attention.

She does have friends -- at the same time she does not like Lily -- our Senior Lilac Point Siamese who has health issues. It seems that Lily really might have been a cat "supermodel" in her youth. She is still very slender, well formed. Mitz has put on a couple of pounds, and is no longer in "catwalk" shape. They have "issues" with each other. Of late they have avoided contact. That's a good thing.

We think another four or five years and she might just let us touch her. She is getting more accustomed to having us in her home, and we are happy to have given her some stability in her life.

It's a good thing.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Some more news for "The Bulls"

Circuit City Stores, the nation's second-biggest consumer electronics retailer, reached an agreement with liquidators on Friday to sell the merchandise in its 567 U.S. stores after failing to find a buyer or a refinancing deal.

Circuit City
Mel Evans / AP

The company, which employs more than 30,000 employees, said in court papers it has appointed Great American Group, Hudson Capital Partners, SB Capital Group and Tiger Capital Group as liquidators.

Calls to the Richmond, Va.-based company and the liquidators were not immediately returned.

Circuit City [CCTYQ 0.038 -0.112 (-74.67%) ] filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November as vendors started to restrict the flow of merchandise ahead of the busy holiday shopping season.

* CNBC's Margaret Brennan breaks news of the pending liquidation.

It had been exploring strategic alternatives since May, when it opened its books to Blockbuster. The Dallas-based movie-rental chain made a takeover bid of more than $1 billion with plans to create a 9,300-store chain to sell electronic gadgets and rent movies and games. Blockbuster withdrew the bid in July because of market conditions.

More recently, it was suspected that Golden Gate Capital, a San Francisco private equity firm, may have purchased the retailer, but it was unable to raise funds for the purchase, sources told CNBC.

Circuit City, which said it had $3.4 billion in assets and $2.32 billion in liabilities as of Aug. 31, said in its initial filings that it planned to emerge from court protection in the first half of this year.

Under court protection, Circuit City has broken 150 leases at locations where it no longer operates stores. The company already closed 155 stores in the U.S. in November and December.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Huennekens had given the company permission to liquidate if a buyout was not achieved.

-CNBC's Margaret Brennan contributed to this report

Rick Warren - Frightening video

Thursday, January 15, 2009


It appears most of our leaders -- including most Democrats -- are in a state of denial about the problems facing our economy.

I'm afraid our "leaders" are far too insulated from the problems facing what's left of "The Middle Class", and "The New Poor" (former middle class).

The need to tap credit sources just to stay even in the face of raising costs and falling wages is being characterized as "sinful", "irresponsible", or "stupid" -- in the parlance of those still doing well, it is "loser behavior".

I find it interesting how many former "winners" have become "losers". Many of "The New Losers" are such true believers they buy into the entire concept. They don't seem capable of understanding that they are being affected by economic realities totally out of their control. They are still anti-union, anti universal health care, anti bailouts for the middle class, anti almost any government action that would benefit them. Many still demonize "the immigrants" -- esp Mexican and Central American -- with little concern over H1B Visas and just some grumbling about outsourcing.

As early as 2003, folks on H1B Visas have taken about 60,000 American jobs -- replacing scads of network engineers, etc. -- the very jobs folks were told to train for in the "new" economy.

Lack of power, lack of collective action, left these folks truly powerless. Many thought they were above the very IDEA of unionization -- and so were totally powerless against the power of our corporations.

The very idea of "the commons", "the common good", of people working together to improve life for everyone has been lost. Even the proper function of government has been corrupted (in every way possible).

For us to have a true recovery our entire population would have to be re-educated. Quite a few folks today do not even see infrastructure - public roads, bridges, etc. as a proper function of the "gubmint". They believe the lie that private enterprise is "more efficient" -- even though the experience folks have with HMO's should have proved that to be a lie. For us to have a real recovery, we need an overhaul of our values and basic premises.


This from Reuters:

Societe Generale said on Thursday that the United States' economy looks likely to enter a depression and China's could implode.

In a highly bearish note, veteran cross asset strategist Albert Edwards said investors should now cut equity exposure after a turn-of-the-year rally and prepare for a rout.
"While economic data in developed economies increasingly reflects depression rather than a deep recession, the real surprise in 2009 may lie elsewhere," Edwards wrote.

"It is becoming clear that the Chinese economy is imploding and this raises the possibility of regime change. To prevent this, the authorities would likely devalue the yuan. A subsequent trade war could see a re-run of the Great Depression."

Edwards has long been one of the most bearish analysts in London, first with Dresdner Kleinwort and then with SocGen.

But he called in October for clients to increase their exposure to equities, which he said were due a rebound.

A target of 500 for the S&P 500 was cited - this represents a decline of another 40 percent from current levels, down almost 70 percent from the 2007 highs.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

This From "When Giants Fall"

January 13, 2009
Sign of the Times

Not long ago, it would have been career suicide for a Wall Street operator to publicly admit that he (or she) was hunkering down for a Mad Max kind of future.

What a difference a year makes.

Nowadays, as the following New York magazine report, entitled "The New Paranoia: Hedge-Funders Are Bullish on Gold, Guns, and Inflatable Lifeboats," seems to suggest, it's a sign of the times.

During the final months of 2008, as the financial markets imploded, talk on trading desks turned to food and water stockpiles, generators, guns, and high-speed inflatable boats. “The system really was about six hours from failing,” says Gene Lange, a manager at a midtown hedge fund, referring to the week in September when Lehman went bust and AIG had to be bailed out. “When you think about how close we were to the precipice, I don’t think it necessarily makes a guy crazy to prepare for the potential worst-case scenario.”

Preparations, in Lange’s case, include a storeroom in his basement in New Jersey stacked high with enough food, water, diapers, and other necessities to last his family six months; a biometric safe to hold his guns; and a 1985 ex-military Chevy K5 Blazer that runs on diesel and is currently being retrofitted for off-road travel. He has also entertained the idea of putting an inflatable speedboat in a storage unit on the West Side, so he could get off the island quickly, and is currently considering purchasing a remote farm where he could hunker down. “If there’s a financial-system breakdown, it could take a year to reset the system, and in that time, what’s going to happen?” asks Lange. If New York turns into a scene out of I Am Legend, he wants to be ready.

He’s not the only one. In his book Wealth, War, published last year, former Morgan Stanley chief global strategist Barton Biggs advised people to prepare for the possibility of a total breakdown of civil society. A senior analyst whose reports are read at hedge funds all over the city wrote just before Christmas that some of his clients are “so bearish they’ve purchased firearms and safes and are stocking their pantries with soups and canned foods.” This fear is very much reflected in the market—prices of corporate bonds have been so beaten down at various points that they suggest a higher default rate than during the Great Depression. Meanwhile, while the overall gold market has fluctuated, the premium for quarter-ounce gold coins—meaning the difference between the rice for gold you can hold in your hand and that for “paper gold,” such as exchange-traded funds—rose to an all-time high of 20 percent. “Gold is transportable, it’s 100 percent liquid, and it’s perfectly divisible in the context of ounces, bars, or coins,” says the head of a California research firm who keeps a supply of it, along with food, water, and guns, on hand. “And most important, there’s no counterparty”—i.e., it’s an investment beholden to no one, and perhaps one of the few assets that will retain value if the financial system collapses.

While it may look like these Wall Streeters are betting on such a collapse, their embrace of survivalism is an outgrowth of their professional habits of mind: Having observed the economy’s shaky high-wire act from their ringside seats, they are trying to manage their risk and “hedge” against a potential fall. “It’s like insurance,” says an investor who has stockpiled MREs and a hand-cranked radio. “And by the time you need it, it’s way too late.” Leave it for others to weep for the collapse of the social order. These guys would prefer to be in a high-speed boat or ex-military vehicle, heading off toward their fully provisioned compounds in pursuit of the ultimate goal: to win the chaos.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Bishop Robinson

This in from the AP:

My first reaction is, Who gives a damn? It was the lack of thought, inviting Warren that counts. That invitation, as with his appearance with McClurkin, shows Obama doesn't have a clue. McClurkin compares gay folks with "drug dealers and gang members" -- this in Barbados. Warren is tied in with folks in Africa who burn condoms. I honestly do not see that as being "pro-active" about AIDS. This Robinson thing is too little, too late. It's like building the Memorial after the homophobes kill you -- again, "too little, too late".

Gay NH Bishop to Offer Prayer at Inaugural Event

Monday 12 January 2009

by: The Associated Press

Concord, New Hampshire - The first openly gay Episcopal bishop will offer a prayer at the Lincoln Memorial at an inaugural event for President-elect Barack Obama.

The selection of New Hampshire Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson for Sunday's event follows weeks of criticism from gay-rights groups over Obama's decision to have the Rev. Rick Warren give the invocation at his Jan. 20 inauguration.

Warren backed the ban on same-sex marriage that passed in his home state of California on the November ballot.

Robinson said last month the choice of Warren was like a slap in the face. In an interview with the Concord Monitor, he said he doesn't believe Obama invited him in response to the Warren criticism but said his inclusion won't go unnoticed by the gay and lesbian community.

"It's important for any minority to see themselves represented in some way," Robinson told the newspaper for a story in Monday's editions. "Whether it be a racial minority, an ethnic minority, or in our case, a sexual minority. Just seeing someone like you up front matters."

Clark Stevens, a spokesman for the inaugural committee, said Robinson was invited because he had offered his advice to Obama during the campaign and because of his church work. When asked whether Robinson was included to calm the Warren complaints, he said Robinson is "an important figure in the religious community. We are excited that he will be involved."

Robinson, 61, said both Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden will attend the event, and Obama is expected to speak. As for himself, Robinson said he doesn't yet know what he'll say, but he knows he won't use a Bible.

"While that is a holy and sacred text to me, it is not for many Americans," Robinson said. "I will be careful not to be especially Christian in my prayer. This is a prayer for the whole nation."

Robinson said his prayer will be reflective of the times.

"I think these are sober and difficult times that we are facing," he said. "It won't be a happy, clappy prayer."

Robinson's 2003 consecration has divided the church in the United States and abroad. Last month, theological conservatives upset by liberal views of U.S. Episcopalians and Canadian Anglicans formed a rival North American province.

"Pirates Not What They Seem To Be

This from Discovery News -- Earth Impacts

Pirates & Radioactive Waste

Here's a revealing article that rings true to me. The infamous Somalian pirates are not what they seem and the genuine criminals are not who you'd expect. Bottom line: Somalia's anarchy is being exploited not by the pirates but by other nations. The Somalian waters, coastal areas, people and wildlife are paying a horrible price as organized crime, to name just one exploiter, dumps radioactive waste from Europe in the lawless Somalian seas. Seems the mainstream media has missed this bigger story entirely.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Republicans Hate America

Isn't it time to ask why the Republicans Hate America?

That's exactly what they did the moment any Democrat criticized Bush.

We were called "Traitors", and every name under the Sun.

Now that their policies have brought us to the brink of full fledged Depression they're trying to sabotage every attempt to bring us back to financial health.

I guess they really do Hate America.

At, Nate Silver has a post titled, "Intellectual Dishonesty (Gasp!) from a Conservative Economist".

He goes on to -- well, let me quote the opening paragraph: "I've referred you guys to Greg Mankiw on a couple of different occasions. He is a highly-respected economist at Harvard University who was the head of the outgoing President Bush's Council of Economic Advisers. Mankiw is a pretty good benchmark for "smart" conservative economic thought -- which, being a University of Chicago economics grad, I have a healthy degree of respect for. If Mankiw's article in today's New York Times is any indication, however, the conservatives are out of good reasons for opposing Barack Obama's stimulus."

For the rest, just go to the source and read the article.

Good stuff.

As one commentor said, "Ideology can drive an otherwise rational person to destroy the very thing he supposedly loves... some conservatives would rather see the country suffer than let people see someone else help it....".

So, Conservatives hate any vision of America that does not jibe with their "vision" -- even if it works.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

This from AMERICAblog

" Saturday, January 10, 2009
Robert Rubin resigns from Citigroup

Please tell me this doesn't mean he's lining himself up to join the already right wing economic team of the Obama administration. It already looks as though Obama has hired everyone who used to work for Rubin (including Summers and Geithner) so nothing would be a shock at this point. Rubin's best Bart Simpson "I didn't do it" shtick was wearing thin as Citi's fortunes crumbled and he claimed to have no idea what was going on despite sitting on its board. We really could have used a fresh new team to deal with this economy but apparently change will have to wait for another administration."

Why has "change" turned into more "same old, same old"?

After supporting Hillary I got on the Obama bandwagon, hoping it wasn't just talk. Right now, I'm afraid it was just talk. I also think Mr. Obama has gotten to a point where he actually believes his own hype.

Can you say HUBRIS??

good day

I've been a bit depressed for the last few days. I'm really disappointed in the "Obama Team" -- Homophobe Kaine as DNC Chair, retreads in treasury -- and running most of the bailout plans. The "bailout" itself, which seems to have been developed by conservative Republicans. Add to that Gupta and his anti-single-payer-stance (or so it seems). I'm amazed the MD's don't realize they would have been better off working for the government than the current system where they are just minor cogs in the huge machinery of the insurance companies. Today it's NOT about health care -- it's about PROFIT.

The MURDER of Oscar Grant. The shooting of a young man in Houston, Robbie Tolan -- IN HIS OWN DRIVEWAY (it seems he was living in a WHITE neighborhood, so the SUV he was driving MUST have been stolen) -- The "friendly neighborhood police" also pinned his mom up against the garage door.

All stuff to bring good cheer this new year.

Anyway, yesterday, Suzy and I went to the Arlington Outdoor Show. Lots of fishing tackle, boats, etc. Spent a long time chatting with some folks local to our home area, laughed, had fun.

They had a display of Raptors there -- amazing BIG (and small) birds of prey. The guy running it was originally from Long Island -- so we chatted a bit. When he did his show, I got to hold an African Tiger Owl (I think it's the largest Owl), and Suzy took our picture. It was amazing.

So far a good day.

After the show, we went to a little Pizza Place (Campania) down in an area they call "West Village" -- Sort of an "Urban Lifestyle" area -- without the URBAN.

It's clean and neat, with lots of young people, trendy restaurants, an "artsy" Cinema, cute shops, etc., etc., etc. I know it sounds horrible -- but it's not that different from the N.Y. Eastside scene of years past. Lot's of young folks mingling, some dating -- it's not that different from a dog park -- except there is less overt butt sniffing - otherwise, pretty much the same.

After Pizza, we went for some awesome (first time I've used THAT word on this blog) gelato. Just wonderful -- and it was warm enough to eat that wonderful Gelato outdoors.

We went fishing the day before, caught our dinner, had lots of fun.

These last two days have pretty much snapped me out of my doldrums.

I know Obama will be a horrible disappointment. I'm beginning to think he is part of a plan to continue the destruction of our Constitution -- Ronnie Raygun did his part, as has every President that followed him.

One major minority group will support Obama to the end. After all, he is one of theirs. It is a truly historic Presidency, a long overdue breakthrough. The African-American HAVE to support him. They have to wish him the very best, hold out hope for his success. LGBT folks can continue to be scapegoated, the huge financial inequality we have developed can continue. Socialism for the rich can be continued, and our dive into "Third World Nationhood" can gain momentum.

In spite of all this stuff -- I had a good two days -- watched young folks playing, had some good food, great conversation, met some unique creatures.

Anyway, I'll be 70 in April -- most of the crap you will go through will not affect me.

Perhaps you guys should be concerned -- as for me, I have to stop taking this stuff so seriously -- after all, it's just life and death.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Killing of Oscar Grant

He was shot and killed on New Years Day. He was restrained, on his stomach, when a BART cop shot him in the back.

Where is the "Main Stream Media"?

"India's Enron"

Some are calling the accounting scandal in India, "India's Enron". Satyam Computer Services falsely inflated profits for years. Today their shares tumbled 80%.

I guess we taught them well.

Soon they might well be outsourcing work to the USA - an emerging third world country.


# Specialty chains see dismal December: SpendingPulse "- 1 hour ago"U.S. retailers experienced a dismal December, as a year-long recession and winter storms kept many potential shoppers at home, according to data released on Wednesday by SpendingPulse.

# Food stamp outlays $50 billion due to recession: CBO "- 1 hour ago"The U.S. recession will drive the cost of the food stamp program, which helps poor people buy food, to $50 billion this year, up 27 percent from 2008, congressional forecasters said on Wednesday.

# Apartment rents show first decline in over 5 years "- 13 hours ago"Average rents for U.S. apartments fell in the fourth quarter, as a sharp economic downturn and rising unemployment left Americans unwilling to pay higher prices, according to data released on Wednesda...

# Vacancies at regional malls rise as economy reels "- 10 hours ago"Vacancies at regional malls in the United States rose in the fourth quarter to their highest levels of the decade, according to data released on Wednesday by real estate research firm Reis Inc.

# $1.2 Trillion Deficit Forecast as Obama Weighs Options "- 38 minutes ago"Barack Obama said that changes in Social Security and Medicare will be central to efforts to bring federal spending in line.
# Stocks Slide on Earnings Gloom "- 33 minutes ago"The Dow fell 2.7 percent as reports from Time Warner, Intel and Alcoa foreshadowed a bleak season for fourth-quarter earnings.

# Court Filing Details Items Madoff Sent "- 1 hour ago"Bernard L. Madoff violated his bail agreement by sending jewelry to his friends and family, prosecutors argued.

# Satyam Chief Admits Huge Fraud "- 1 hour ago"

Now, how many think 2009 will be a "rosy" year of strong recovery?

All the economic news sucks -- and, we haven't yet seen the full extent of the commercial real estate crash.

By the way, how many major retail chains will restructure in 2009?

How many will liquidate?

I Had A Dream

No, not the MLK one. Not even a positive one. My dream was of a dystopia -- a "hell on earth" -- except for the very rich.

It was of a "post industrial age". A time when we proles won't be needed by the wealthy.

All the pots, pans, widgets that will ever be needed are already made. There will be some LIMITED basic research, manufacturing, for the wealthy -- the rest of us will make do with what is still around. As you can tell -- this was a dream -- so a lot of the stuff is not well thought out. At the same time, depression, starvation, wars (limited, of course), could cut population by some billions. If worked correctly, most of the religious fanatics - east, west, north, and south could be killed off. With this plan, they might not need religion to control the masses -- it really has gotten a bit unwieldy -- don't you think?

Looking around at the world today -- the lack of education that seems purposeful, the total lack of critical thinking, the real dumbing down of mass culture -- the "master plan" seems to be in full swing.

Huge urban areas will no longer be needed -- anyway they are just a huge bother, what with the freedom that is usually found in cities, the lack of strict social control found in villages and small towns (why do you think the trend has been to demonize urban areas -- people get some "strange ideas" there -- so, starve them, let them rot, destroy their education system, let them sink into the earth}.

They are "evil". "Those" people live there. People in cities are too "independent". Let them self destroy.

Small towns, villages are places where "anti-social" behavior can be picked out, and "nipped in the bud".

Welcome to the "new serfdom". They've already convinced folks unions are "bad". Some folks know they are being screwed -- yet, they cannot even imagine any way to get out from under. They claim to be "rugged individuals" -- while they do what they're told, cannot imagine a way to break free, and live in self imposed misery. The time to assert their rights against the power of the wealthy is fast coming to an end.

The joke is that the wealthy act collectively -- while we proles are taught to be "rugged individuals" -- IE: POWERLESS.

Anyway, it was just a stupid dream.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


A little something from Reuters:

European data grim

By Will Waterman – 1 hr 17 mins ago

LONDON (Reuters) – Dire economic data underlined the severity of recession in Europe on Tuesday, while Toyota Motor Corp said it would halt all production in Japan in response to plunging demand.

With the global downturn hitting automakers particularly hard, Toyota, the world's biggest, said it would shut all its factories in Japan for 11 days over February and March.

And as a further indication of how the crisis that began with bad housing loans in the U.S. has reached all parts of the world, a state-run Chinese magazine warned that rising social unrest would follow.

In Europe a sharper than expected fall in euro zone inflation to a 26-month low of 1.6 percent in December knocked back the euro and further supported expectations for a European Central Bank (ECB) rate cut next week.

ECB rate cut expectations were also boosted by data showing the euro zone private sector services economy shrank sharply in December and firms cut more jobs than expected, pointing to a deep recession lasting for a good part of 2009.

The Markit Eurozone Purchasing Managers' Index of about 2,000 services companies, from banks to retailers, fell to 42.1 in December from 42.5 a month ago, a new low in the survey's 10-year history.

"Sharply contracting new orders, backlogs of work and employment reinforce belief that the euro zone faces an extremely difficult start to 2009," said Howard Archer, economist at IHS Global Insight.

The euro plunged against the dollar to $1.3347 from $1.3440 in response to the data.

A services sector survey for the UK also showed an eighth month of contraction, with the employment component dropping to a record low, while UK retailers warned that rising job losses and plunging house prices would blight trading for months.

Adding to Europe's economic woes, a gas pricing dispute between Moscow and Kiev threatened supplies to the continent as Russian gas via Ukraine to southeast Europe and Turkey was halted, pushing U.S. crude oil prices up $1.50 to $50.33 a barrel, and British gas market prices up more than 10 percent.

Flows were cut to Bulgaria, Turkey, Macedonia, Greece and Croatia, while Italy, Austria and the Czech Republic reported sharp falls. European energy firms receive about a fifth of their gas via pipelines through Ukraine.


But European and Asian shares rose for their sixth and seventh straight sessions respectively, and the dollar climbed as investors anticipated an economic stimulus package of up to 50 billion euros ($67.4 billion) in Germany and an expected $775 billion bill from U.S. President-elect Barack Obama.

The South Korean government also said on Tuesday it aimed to create almost 142,000 jobs this year through infrastructure and environmental projects, part of a five-year, $38 billion plan to generate almost 1 million jobs.

"Growing expectations for the administration of Obama are making investors that much more willing to take risks, and I think we're also seeing more buying by foreign investors," said Hideyuki Ishiguro, supervisor at the investment advisory department of Okasan Securities in Tokyo.

MSCI's All-Country World stock index has jumped 25 percent since a five-year low in late November.


Market optimism is running ahead of economic indicators, however, which remain poor.

Britain's Nationwide Building Society said house prices in the world's fifth-biggest economy fell another 2.5 percent in December, making 2008 the worst year on record.

Consumer morale slumped in December in both Britain and France on fears of rising unemployment, which along with tight credit have particularly hit car sales across the globe.

Figures on Monday showed that auto sales in the U.S. fell 36 percent in December, closing out the weakest year since 1992 in the world's biggest market, where Toyota saw its worst monthly sales decline since at least 1980.

The company, having already announced a three-day suspension at domestic plants this month and warned of its first-ever annual operating loss, said it would halt output at 12 vehicle and parts plants in Japan for six days next month and five in March.

In China, which relies on strong growth to create jobs for its millions of migrant workers and graduates, state-run Outlook (Liaowang) Magazine said on Tuesday that rising unemployment in 2009 threatened an upsurge in protests and riots.

"Without doubt, now we're entering a peak period for mass incidents," Huang Ho, a reporter from state news agency Xinhua, told the magazine.

Though researchers at the country's central bank forecast China's economy would grow 8 percent this year, many independent analysts' predictions are substantially lower.

(Additional reporting by Reuters bureaux worldwide; Editing by Richard Hubbard)

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Ponzi Scheme Presidency

TomDispatch has posted "The Ponzi Scheme Presidency" by Tom Engelhardt:

He describes the "War on Terror" as a "Ponzi Scheme". It's just another indictment of the Bush Administration.

at wits end

I'm almost unable to write anything right now. I've been reading various op-eds and editorials where it seems as if they've taken up Phil Gramm's cry of "whiners". Then there are others who seem to think we've hit "bottom", and everything is on the way up.

In addition, it appears that Obama is going to use 300 billion in tax cuts as a part of his "stimulus program" -- and all the while I thought his "middle class tax cuts" were an issue in themselves. I thought the vaunted "stimulus package" was in addition to needed middle class cuts -- as an answer to the recession.

Then again, there are still Republicans who deny there really is a recession.

These little tid-bits are followed by news like this from The Wall Street Journal:

"US Auto Sales Continue To Skid

Ford Motor Co. posted a 32% drop in U.S. light-vehicle sales for December while Toyota Motor Co. reported a 37% fall and Honda Motor Co. had a 35% decline, closing out the auto industry's worst year in more than 15 years."

In addition GM's light vehicle sales are down 31% from last December.

Does that look like we've "turned the corner"?

The Hotel Industry looks like it's going bust: LA Times "Hoteliers see too much room at the inn".

In addition, Commercial Real Estate appears to be crashing: N.Y.Times: "As Vacant Office Space Grows, So Does Lenders’ Crisis."

The Wall Street Journal is calling for a loooong recession. At the same time, Republicans are saying we do not need any stimulus - except for banks and brokers (the folks who got us in trouble in the first place.

Even Paul Krugman appears to be suffering from "post-partisan-depression". Obama's lack of experience, and his hubris seem to be leading him down a "neo-lib" path. In other words it looks like "more of the same" -- and, when you utter those words after a regime like Chimpy's -- that ain't good.

By the way, doesn't it seem strange that not one of the folks who say our "slump" is over gives any credit to the TARP? We spend 700 BILLION $$$ bailing out the banks who got us in this mess, and not one person seems to think it had any effect. Those who supported it think we need some "real" stimulus". Those who opposed it are saying the crisis is over -- and, having opposed it, cannot give it any credit.

Does anyone else think it's ALL a con-game? Does anyone else think our economy has just been a Ponzi scheme?

I'm beginning to believe just those things. I also believe the collapse of this pyramid scheme will leave what is left of the middle class totally bankrupt. Then the corporate media, along with our rulers, and their wealthy overlords will convince us it is ALL our fault.

when are those of the far right wake up? When is the left going to wake up?

It isn't the immigrants. It isn't the "libtards". It isn't all about "guns", or "abortion" -- those are just things used to keep us all apart. Nothing changes -- if it isn't "the blacks", it's "teh gays". The right-wing-religious folks are being controlled by their leaders, controlled to the point they approve of stuff that is against their best interests. Too many on the left know NOTHING about so many of their natural allies in the "red states".

Classism still separates people who have more in common than they are willing to admit.

All in all, it looks good for our corporate masters.