Saturday, March 30, 2013

Wisconsin And Work

Here's a post from "Echidne Of The Snakes" giving us all some updates on how successful Gov. Walker of Wisconsin has been.  Please follow link to original
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http://echidneofthesnakes.blogspot.com/

Wisconsin And Work


Interesting news about the Ringwraith realm (with governor Scott Walker) of Wisconsin.  He ran on the topic of job creation but achieved a large amount of other stuff* instead:

New quarterly figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Thursday showed Wisconsin has dropped to 44th in the nation for creating private sector jobs, a ranking Republicans lawmakers say is deceiving and Democrats contend is the result of Gov. Walker’s failed economic strategy.
The data covered the year that ended in September, and reflected a recent steady decline. Wisconsin ranked 42nd for the year that ended in June, and 37th for the year that ended in March 2012.

The report, based on a survey of 96 percent of all public and private American non-farm employers, said other Midwestern states are performing better than Wisconsin. Indiana ranked 11th, Michigan 13th and Ohio 24th.
Walker, a Republican, promised in the 2010 campaign, and has reiterated since, that he will create 250,000 private sector jobs by the end of 2014. He was about 212,500 jobs short of meeting that target at the end of 2012.

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*I wanted to link here to my myriad of earlier posts on Scott Walker, but found out, to my horror, that my blog is suffering from linkrot in the permalinks.  Only one of the many, many Walker posts seem to have a functioning permalink right now.  Which limits me to quoting from my May 2, 2012 post here:

And he has carried his assigned tasks out extremely well!  The great state of Wisconsin has almost been demolished!  In the good news, angry drivers can now have guns in their cars, there's no longer any of that gender-equality crap in state-based equal pay laws,  and the state ranked the first in increased unemployment and job loss misery last year!  

Poncho Sanchez and Terence Blanchard - Groovin High (Live at Amoeba)


Wynton Marsalis - Buddy Bolden's Blues



Wynton Marsalis - Trumpet
Jon Erik Kellso - Trumpet
Victor Goines - Clarinet, Soprano Saxophone
Andy Stein - Alto Saxophone, Violin
Chris Crenshaw - Trombone, Vocals
Vince Giordano - Bass Saxophone, Tuba, Tenor Guitar, Vocals
Ken Salvo - Banjo, Tenor Guitar
Dan Nimmer - Piano
Carlos Henriquez - Bass
Ali Jackson - Drums
Ricky "Dirty Red" Gordon - Washboard, Percussion

Oscar Peterson & Count Basie - Exactly Like You


Sonny Rollins Quintet - Don't Stop the Carnival | Cascais Jazz 76 - 13 de Novembro


Sonny Rollins - Oleo (1959)


Friday, March 29, 2013

Banks

once again -- no banks killed today

Thursday, March 28, 2013

More on "Old" and my anger

Years ago I asked someone how you know when you're old   ---   he answered, "you know you're old when it hurts more to stay in bed than to get up".

I've finally discovered the truth of his words.

Another fact is the extended recovery time after doing what were once "normal" things.

I think my anger at the antics of all our political "leaders", at the way they ALL seem to dismiss the needs of all our "common folk"  --  also known as CITIZENS, is also partially caused by my historical perspective.  I know what worked in our past - I was there.  I also do not have the romantic view of my individual prowess so many old folks seem to have.  Part of that romantic vision is due to the fact there were more OPPORTUNITIES back "in the day".  There were also fewer people, and many of those opportunities were not available to black and brown folks.

If we all do not open up our society, invest in ALL the people, attempt to institute a REAL meritocracy, our great country will fail, exactly the way Austria-Hungary, The Ottoman Empire, and Czarist Russia did.

That would be a disaster for ALL the people  --  including the undeserving rich.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Sam Harris simply destroys catholicism


Linda chicana - Cal Tjader


Keith Jarret - Poinciana

I need something to soothe.  All the many distractions have me so frustrated I can't speak  --  never mind write.  So, here's a bit of music  --  familiar but different.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Why Does No One Speak of America’s Oligarchs?

The following i an excerpt from a post on "Naked Capitalism".  Please follow link to read the rest.
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http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/03/why-does-no-one-speak-of-americas-oligarchs.html

One of the striking elements of the demonization of Cyprus was how it was depicted as a willing tool of Russian money launderers and oligarchs. Never mind the fact, as we pointed out, that Cyprus is not a tax haven but a low-tax jurisdiction, and in stark contrast with the Caymans and Malta, has double-taxation treaties signed with 46 nations and has (now more likely had) with six more being ratified. Nor is it much of a tax secrecy jurisdiction, according to the Financial Secrecy Index. Confusingly, in the overall ranking, lower numbers are worse (Switzerland as number 1 is the baaadest) but in the secrecy score used to derive the rankings, higher is worse, with 100 being utterly opaque. The total rank is a function of “badness” (secrecy score) and weight (amount of business done). You’ll notice that all the countries ranked as worse than Cyprus have secrecy scores more unfavorable than it, with the exception of Germany, which is a mere 1 point out of 100 less bad, and the UK, which scores considerably lower (Nicholas Shaxson, author of Treasure Islands, would take issue with that reading, but he takes a more inclusive view of the boundaries of a financial services industry. For the UK, thus he not only includes the “state within a state” of the City of London, but also the UK’s secrecy jurisdictions, such as the Isle of Man, in his dim view of the UK as well as the US on secrecy). And even so, its greater volume of hidden activity gives it a much worse overall ranking. Of countries 21 tp 30, only 3 rank as less bad on secrecy: Canada, India, and South Korea.
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Go there  --  read the rest. It's an interesting read, and says what I suspect we have all been thinking.

Hot Money Blues By PAUL KRUGMAN

Prof. Krugman's latest column - follow link to original
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http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/25/opinion/krugman-hot-money-blues.html?ref=paulkrugman&_r=0

Whatever the final outcome in the Cyprus crisis — we know it’s going to be ugly; we just don’t know exactly what form the ugliness will take — one thing seems certain: for the time being, and probably for years to come, the island nation will have to maintain fairly draconian controls on the movement of capital in and out of the country. In fact, controls may well be in place by the time you read this. And that’s not all: Depending on exactly how this plays out, Cypriot capital controls may well have the blessing of the International Monetary Fund, which has already supported such controls in Iceland.
That’s quite a remarkable development. It will mark the end of an era for Cyprus, which has in effect spent the past decade advertising itself as a place where wealthy individuals who want to avoid taxes and scrutiny can safely park their money, no questions asked. But it may also mark at least the beginning of the end for something much bigger: the era when unrestricted movement of capital was taken as a desirable norm around the world.
It wasn’t always thus. In the first couple of decades after World War II, limits on cross-border money flows were widely considered good policy; they were more or less universal in poorer nations, and present in a majority of richer countries too. Britain, for example, limited overseas investments by its residents until 1979; other advanced countries maintained restrictions into the 1980s. Even the United States briefly limited capital outflows during the 1960s.
Over time, however, these restrictions fell out of fashion. To some extent this reflected the fact that capital controls have potential costs: they impose extra burdens of paperwork, they make business operations more difficult, and conventional economic analysis says that they should have a negative impact on growth (although this effect is hard to find in the numbers). But it also reflected the rise of free-market ideology, the assumption that if financial markets want to move money across borders, there must be a good reason, and bureaucrats shouldn’t stand in their way.
As a result, countries that did step in to limit capital flows — like Malaysia, which imposed what amounted to a curfew on capital flight in 1998 — were treated almost as pariahs. Surely they would be punished for defying the gods of the market!
But the truth, hard as it may be for ideologues to accept, is that unrestricted movement of capital is looking more and more like a failed experiment.
It’s hard to imagine now, but for more than three decades after World War II financial crises of the kind we’ve lately become so familiar with hardly ever happened. Since 1980, however, the roster has been impressive: Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Chile in 1982. Sweden and Finland in 1991. Mexico again in 1995. Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Korea in 1998. Argentina again in 2002. And, of course, the more recent run of disasters: Iceland, Ireland, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Cyprus.
What’s the common theme in these episodes? Conventional wisdom blames fiscal profligacy — but in this whole list, that story fits only one country, Greece. Runaway bankers are a better story; they played a role in a number of these crises, from Chile to Sweden to Cyprus. But the best predictor of crisis is large inflows of foreign money: in all but a couple of the cases I just mentioned, the foundation for crisis was laid by a rush of foreign investors into a country, followed by a sudden rush out.
I am, of course, not the first person to notice the correlation between the freeing up of global capital and the proliferation of financial crises; Harvard’s Dani Rodrik began banging this drum back in the 1990s. Until recently, however, it was possible to argue that the crisis problem was restricted to poorer nations, that wealthy economies were somehow immune to being whipsawed by love-’em-and-leave-’em global investors. That was a comforting thought — but Europe’s travails demonstrate that it was wishful thinking.
And it’s not just Europe. In the last decade America, too, experienced a huge housing bubble fed by foreign money, followed by a nasty hangover after the bubble burst. The damage was mitigated by the fact that we borrowed in our own currency, but it’s still our worst crisis since the 1930s.
Now what? I don’t expect to see a wholesale, sudden rejection of the idea that money should be free to go wherever it wants, whenever it wants. There may well, however, be a process of erosion, as governments intervene to limit both the pace at which money comes in and the rate at which it goes out. Global capitalism is, arguably, on track to become substantially less global.
And that’s O.K. Right now, the bad old days when it wasn’t that easy to move lots of money across borders are looking pretty good.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Bishops Behaving Badly, Joliet Edition

This from "FireDogLake"  --  follow link to original.

The Most Holy Roman Catholic Church is a dying institution  --  it should be a totally dead one.  Rotten to its core, corrupt, and so self satisfied.  they truly believe it will always be "business as usual"  --  I hope they are wrong.  All this crap is shameful.
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http://firedoglake.com/2013/03/23/bishops-behaving-badly-joliet-edition/

If confession is good for the soul, then another group of bishops may be in better shape now than they were last week. Except for one thing: they didn’t want to confess. Thus, instead of healing their souls, the most recent court-ordered document dump detailing how bishops protected priests who raped and abused children will feel to them like torture.
Once upon a time, the victims of priestly sexual abuse simply wanted their pain to stop, so the bishop would remove the priest from that parish. Later, victims pressed for compensation to cover counseling and therapy, as well as punitive financial compensation. Now, the battle has shifted from financial to something that scares the bishops to death: confession. Not a statement saying “we admit that what happened in the past was wrong” and expressing sorrow, but opening up the files that show the wrongness, with all the gory details.
Meet the latest bringer of nightmares to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, David Rudofski:
The Joliet Diocese readily admitted that David Rudofski was sexually abused during his first confession at St. Mary Catholic Church in Mokena. It offered him an in-person apology from the bishop and more than six times his annual salary in the hope of putting a quick, quiet end to yet another ugly incident involving a priest.
But Rudofski wanted more than money.
The south suburban electrician wanted the diocese to truly pay for its repeated and, oftentimes, willful mishandling of sexual abuse cases involving clergy — and he insisted on a currency far more precious to the church than money. He demanded that the diocese settle its debt by turning over the secret archives it maintained on abusive priests and making them available for public consumption.
And earlier this week, after a seven year battle, he got 7000 records released. “Money, he says, was not an issue. At one point he filed a settlement offer requesting no monetary award, only the unlocking of the priests’ files. That offer was rejected by the diocese.”
Back in 2004, the head of the USCCB at that time, Bishop Wilton Gregory, received two major reports on the handling of priests who raped the children in their care, and declared that all of this is in the past:
Just after the release on Friday of two long-awaited studies on the sexual abuse of children by more than 4,000 priests, the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops declared with emphatic finality in a news conference that the bishops had faced the problem, come clean and swept the church of abusers.
”I assure you that known offenders are not in ministry,” the leader, Bishop Wilton D. Gregory of Belleville, Ill., said as he punched out his words. ”The terrible history recorded here today is history.”
Uh, no. It’s not over-and-done-with. Abuse continues, and because the bishops continue to try to fight the disclosure of their sins, the pain of past abuse continues to fester. Here in Kansas City, Bishop Robert Finn was convicted last September of failing to report his knowledge of a priest who had child pornography on his computer.
And he’s still the bishop here.
If you want a picture of the pain caused by the legal battles like these, read Thomas Doyle’s devastating account of the battles in Los Angeles, where Cardinal Mahoney fought disclosure even after agreeing to it as part of a settlement. Victims continued to be lied to by their church. Family members suffered, as did the lawyers with whom they worked:
They worked far above and beyond what was required for what they earned. Some were so disgusted with the never-ending antics of the church in court and at the mediation table that they left the practice of law when it was all over. A number who had at one time been practicing Catholics lost all respect and trust in the institutional church. One lawyer spoke up at a gathering after the settlement and said, “I don’t believe in God anymore.” This man had not only represented victims in Los Angeles and elsewhere for years, but he had provided for many the emotional and spiritual support so essential after their experiences with the church. He told me once that he had to make 70 cross-country plane trips to Los Angeles for the case.
And then there are the parishes served by these priests, and the unknown numbers of victims who have not come forward. In Joliet, those numbers are staggering:
“There are over 91 separate places were [sic; should be "where"] these sexual predators served in the Diocese of Joliet. According to our experts, that is at least 75% of the parishes the Joliet Diocese had a sexual predator priest serving in,” said Terry Johnson, Rudofski’s attorney.
[snip]
The Diocese of Joliet currently lists 34 priests with credible sex abuse allegations against them, made by more than 100 victims. Some say there are many more.
“According to our experts who reviewed this, there are probably somewhere between 600 to 1,000 victims who need help and have not come forward. Some of the victims of the priests from the Joliet Diocese have committed suicide so these are real issues,” said Johnson.
75%. That’s three out of every four parishes in the diocese, which were served by priests who abused children sexually, and violated the trust placed in them by everyone else.
How would you like to be the next priest to come to one of those parishes? The terrible history recorded in the files released in Joliet may be in the past, but it continues to gnaw at the church today.
The bishop who comes off worst in the Joliet saga is Joseph Imesch, who isn’t exactly happy to have this all come out:
Reached at his home in New Lenox, retired Bishop Joseph Imesch, 81, said he didn’t want to discuss details of the revelations in the documents.
“I’m not going to rehash all of this. I know what I did; I know what I should have done,” he said, expressing frustration with the way news reports portrayed his conduct.
When a reporter informed him that a Tribune story was being prepared to report on the newly released documents, Imesch said, “Sure. Sex and the priests, let’s blast it all over the place. Never let it go.”
On that, I agree with the bishop, though not with the snark that he no doubt expressed.
But the bishop who is perhaps most nervous about all this is Imesch’s successor in Joliet — J. Peter Sartain, who came to Joliet in 2006 as bishop, went to Seattle to be their new archbishop, and who serves currently as the Secretary of the USCCB.
In 2011, also in Joliet, a priest attempted to commit suicide prior to meeting with police, over charges of child abuse. A Chicago Tribune account at the time noted that while bishop in Joliet, Sartain ignored repeated complaints and concerns from family members, parishioners, and supervisors about Alejandro Flores, both while Flores was a seminarian and later a priest:
A Tribune examination found that at least three supervisors said they saw Flores alone with either one or both of the woman’s sons several times before his June 2009 ordination, including once while the younger boy changed clothes in Flores’ presence and was overheard calling him “Daddy,” according to police reports, court records and interviews.Parishioners say they complained and that Flores ignored warnings that such contact wasn’t appropriate.
The newspaper also learned Flores was sent for psychological evaluation and treatment at least twice, including three months before his ordination when he admitted viewing pornography on a parish computer, records show. Authorities said diocese officials later told them the images appeared to show young males engaged in sex acts.
Police said the diocese didn’t report the questionable images, and that the computer’s hard drive had disappeared when they sought it months later.
One priest who had supervised Flores was so frustrated that the seminarian was ordained despite repeated warnings that he wrote to Sartain asking why his complaints fell on deaf ears.
“Why have I not heard anything from you as my bishop?” the Rev. William Conway asked in the confidential letter obtained by the Tribune.
“Why was my input ignored…?” he wrote.
That’s a very good question.
This wasn’t decades ago. This was recent, and the bishop who failed to intervene continues to avoid any consequences. He’s on the committee that is patrolling the work of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, to see to it that they are not drifting too far from theological orthodoxy, for example. He’s been a leading voice against marriage equality, and is on the inside of a lot of the work by the USCCB. He may not be in Joliet anymore, but he’s a part of what the church there has gone through and continues to go through, because of his failures to act.
This isn’t about priests anymore. It’s about bishops, archbishops, and cardinals. And the only thing that will curb their conduct is putting it on public display for all the world to see. See “Law, Bernard, Cardinal Archbishop Emeritus of Boston.”
Today is the 29th anniversary of Cardinal Law’s installation as Archbishop of Boston, and I can’t think of a nicer way to commemorate the occasion than to thank David Rudofski for his efforts to get these records released.

Europe’s Cyprus Blunder and Its Consequences By Nicolas VĂ©ron on 21st March 2013

This from "breugel"  --  please follow link to original
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http://www.bruegel.org/nc/blog/detail/article/1048-europes-cyprus-blunder-and-its-consequences/#.UU4xG1ckRwB

The late Mike Mussa, a former Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund, noted about some episodes of the late-1990s Asian financial turmoil that “there are three types of financial crises: crises of liquidity, crises of solvency, and crises of stupidity.” This quip comes to mind when considering the developments of the past few days around Cyprus.
The announcement on Saturday morning, March 16, of an agreement backed by most European leaders and institutions as well as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which would impose a tax (or possibly an unfavorable cash-for-equity swap) on holders of bank deposits no matter how small, was a remarkable policy blunder that will carry consequences for the EU.
The sequence that led to this “Saturday-morning plan” is well known. Greece’s sovereign debt restructuring a year ago hit Cypriot banks that had bought Greek bonds and raised question about the Cypriot government’s own solvency. Negotiations on a possible bailout by the European Union were seen as inevitable as early as mid-2012, but were frozen until a general election in Cyprus last month. Unfortunately, this shifted the timetable of negotiation into German election cycle territory, and thus the position of the Eurogroup, in which Germany is now the unquestioned central actor, has been even more severely constrained by the domestic German political debate than in past euro-crisis episodes. This interaction, on which more below, has led many negotiators to the conclusion that forcing losses on large (read Russia-linked) Cypriot deposits should be an indispensable component of the package.
To the surprise of many, recently-elected Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades added a further twist to the tangled situation by suggesting a hit to small deposit as well, as a desperate way to limit the losses imposed on large depositors and thus, it is claimed, preserve the island’s future as an international financial center. All negotiators seem to have accepted this offer before realizing, too late, how damaging it might be to trust in the safety of bank deposits well beyond Cyprus.
No easy or painless option was available for Cyprus. However, some of the Saturday-morning plan’s flaws were avoidable.
First, the plan displayed a remarkable disregard for the lessons of financial history about the high importance of deposit safety, particularly for middle-class households (which is why there usually is an upper limit for explicit deposit insurance, harmonized at € 100,000 in the EU since 2009). Based on the experience of the early 1930s, the fact that a breach of deposit insurance will primarily hurt the “little guys” is virtually undisputed in America. For example, it has been forcefully expressed with reference to Cyprus by Sheila Bair, the well-respected former Chairman of the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Similar lessons arise from even a rapid review of many recent emerging-market crises.
The fact that the hit on small depositors was allegedly suggested by Mr Anastasiades does not justify its acceptance by the European negotiators. After all, in November 2010 the Troika refused proposals by the Irish authorities to “burn” the holders of senior unsecured debt in failed banks, in order to prevent damaging contagion in the rest of Europe (or so the thinking was). The rationale for the Troika to refuse hitting small depositors in Cyprus was more straightforward than the one for protecting senior bank bondholders in the Irish case. The Troika could and should have acted accordingly.
Second, it is plain from the current pervasive finger-pointing in Brussels and across the EU that the negotiators had no “plan B” in case the plan would not be swiftly endorsed by the Cypriot Parliament. In particular, it remains to be seen how the complex Russian side of the Cypriot equation will be handled, and whether the EU is ready, as it should be for wider geopolitical reasons, to avoid being dependent on Russian goodwill for the handling of the Cyprus situation.
Third, the Saturday-morning plan raised awkward questions about the democratic nature of EU decision-making. The problem is not really that hard measures are imposed on the Cypriot population. This, alas, is the inevitable consequence of the Cypriot state’s inability to meet all its commitments on its own, which was acknowledged in no ambiguous terms by Mr Anastasiades in his statement to the nation on March 16. Moreover, Cyprus has earned no sympathy by rejecting the UN plan for the island’s reunification ahead of its entry into the EU in 2004, and for harboring financial activities by Russian and Russian-linked entities that many Europeans suspect to be partly associated with money-laundering. The problem, rather, lies in the extent to which the European crisis management is held hostage by German electoral politics. This dynamic is not new in the euro-crisis, but has reached new heights as Chancellor Merkel’s main opposition, the SPD, has identified the Cypriot issue earlier this year as a “wedge issue” on which it could destabilize her. The SPD calculation was to paint Ms Merkel as too lenient with shady Russian oligarchs and their “black money” held in Cypriot banks, while she would be prevented from responding because this would be too destabilizing for Europe’s financial system. In effect, Ms Merkel called the SPD’s bluff by risking the Eurozone’s first bank run. No wonder that placards on Nicosia’s streets carry slogans such as “Europe is for its people and not for Germany,” or that Athanasios Orphanides, until recently the governor of the Cypriot central bank and a member of the European Central Bank (ECB)’s Governing Council, complains that “some European governments are essentially taking actions that are telling citizens of other member states that they are not equal under the law.”
It is too early to evaluate the lasting damage, but it is likely to be significant. The Saturday-morning decision-making process leaves an impression of incompetence and groupthink, in which all participating actors including all Eurozone finance ministers, the European Commission, ECB, and IMF are tainted. The sense of purpose that the EU had displayed, particularly by committing to a banking union in June 2012 and delivering on its first step (the Single Supervisory Mechanism) in December, has been eroded. So has been the aura of statesmanship and control that Ms Merkel and the ECB, in particular, had gained in 2012. Possibly most damaging, the Saturday announced of the tax on small deposits, even if it is reversed in the next iterations, will probably have dented middle-class households’ trust in deposit safety throughout the Eurozone: hopefully this will not lead to immediate deposit flight outside of Cyprus, but, unless a credible European-level deposit insurance is established, it is likely to affect households’ behavior in future crisis episodes in a destabilizing way. There is an apt parallel with the expectations-shifting impact of the Deauville declaration by Ms Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy in October 2010.
What now? A week ago, the challenge in Cyprus was to close the fiscal gap with a bailout package. Now it is to close the fiscal gap, and to restore a minimal level of trust in the banking system, without which the economy cannot operate. This raises the bar. The obvious risk is of massive deposit withdrawals whenever the Cypriot banks reopen: now that the seal on deposit safety has been broken, depositors will do their best to avoid falling victims of additional taxation or any other form of part-expropriation in a few weeks’ or months’ time, no matter how many promises are made that this is a unique and once-and-for-all occurence. Cypriot authorities are likely to address this with a mix of capital controls and deposit freeze, perhaps in the form of conversion to interest-bearing certificates of deposits in the form recently proposed by Lee Buchheit and Mitu Gulati. However, “financial repression” or even incarceration can only last for a limited period of time given the freedoms enshrined in the EU treaty.
Unlike in previous euro-crisis episodes, there is little the ECB can do alone. The problem is fiscal at the core and must be addressed by elected leaders. They may conclude that it is best to let Cyprus default, impose capital controls and leave the Eurozone, an option that is being reported as explicitly considered in European policy circles. This would unambiguously violate the oft-made promise of European leaders to ensure the integrity of the Eurozone no matter what. The most immediately relevant question in that case is about the chain reaction, including possible bank runs, that this violation might trigger in other Eurozone member states, starting with now-fragile ones such as Slovenia and, of course, Greece, and possibly extending to other economies closer to the Eurozone “core.”
It is difficult to see how the risky scenario of Cyprus exit could be avoided without further fiscal commitments by Eurozone partners including Germany, either of additional direct transfers to Cyprus to plug the fiscal gap, or of some form of guarantee of deposits that would come from the European rather than the national level. A quick but very imperfect way to achieve the latter would be for a European entity, possibly the European Stability Mechanism, to provide an unconditional guarantee for a limited but sufficient period of time (say, 18 months) to all national deposit guarantee schemes in the Eurozone, up to the € 100,000 European limit. Such “deposit reinsurance” has been considered an absolute no-go by European policymakers so far. It would constitute a major contingent financial commitment, even though the trust-enhancing effect would arguably result in an eventual net fiscal benefit for all. But it would be a powerful preemptive tool to make sure a scenario of retail bank run contagion does not materialize, and might also become the only option available if such a scenario were to become reality.
Assuming that the current situation is somehow brought under control, longer-term questions beckon, even leaving aside relevant geopolitical considerations regarding Cyprus and its neighborhood. The breach of the deposit guarantee, materialization of the bank run threat, and probable consideration of capital controls will cast the Eurozone debate on banking union in a new and starker light. Since mid-2012 and until now, the policy consensus in Europe had been to pretend that the question of supranational deposit insurance, with its direct links to the currently-frozen issue of fiscal union, was important but not urgent, and should be left out of the explicit banking union agenda. This convenient stance will be harder to hold given the Cypriot experience. More broadly, the episode will feed an overdue debate about the democratic (or otherwise) nature of European decision-making and the effectiveness of its crisis management, two challenges that are more tightly connected than many observers seem to have realized. A first step might be to acknowledge the Saturday-morning plan of March 16 for what it was, a policy mistake, and to have an honest debate about how it could have been avoided.
Many commentators have declared themselves puzzled over the past few days by the general lack of negative financial market reaction to the fast-unfolding events in Cyprus. The most likely reason, which may be tested in the next few days, is that investors have been sufficiently impressed by last year’s whatever-it-takes commitments, particularly those by Ms Merkel and ECB President Mario Draghi, so that their baseline scenario remains that a last-minute solution will be found after all the brinkmanship. Longstanding observers of the Eastern Mediterranean tend to project a darker mood, as they recall that this is a region in which individuals, groups and nations do not always act in their best self-interest. One can only hope that the market’s assessment is the correct one.

Attacking Success

This from Dr. Krugman's blog.  He puts it much better than my rage, anger, and intense feelings about the right wing allow me to.

Please follow link to original
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http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/

Attacking Success

OK, this is rich. Or actually, it’s anti-rich. Or anti-rich liberal. Or something.
Anyway, Jonathan Chait informs us that the right-wing blogosphere is all-aTwitter over the fact that Matthew Yglesias just bought a nice condo. Apparently this is hypocritical because you can’t be a liberal and own private property, or something. Chait has a lot of fun with the whole thing, and its notion that a liberal supporter of mild redistribution is the same thing as a Communist; check out his picture caption.
But I think there are two more things to be said here.
First, you should bracket this with the Rob Portman/gay marriage story as an example of the perversion of the ideas of civic virtue and sincerity. On today’s right, not only is civic virtue, nay patriotism, associated with narrow defense of your own self-interest, any deviation from that standard — like being an affluent person who nonetheless supports aid to the poor paid for by progressive taxation — is considered prima facie hypocritical. Somehow, though, this never gets to the obvious conclusion: that defending your nation is obviously hypocritical unless a member of your own family has been killed by terrorists …
But second, notice how quickly a staple of right-wing outrage goes out the window if there’s possible political gains to be made by violating a supposed principle. All through the 2012 campaign we were lectured about the evils of “attacking success“, which was defined as any criticism of how a wealthy individual got that way. But as soon as they think they spot an opening, right-wingers go ahead and … attack success. And unlike Romney, who was criticized for his business practices rather than his wealth per se, Yglesias is under attack simply for doing well.
But this is nothing new. Remember the pure envy-based attacks on John Kerry in 2004?
The lesson here is never to take right-wing huffiness about the process of politics and political debate seriously. These guys don’t actually believe in any rules at all; whatever rule they may lay down in one case, they’ll break in an instant if they think they see an advantage.

Friday, March 22, 2013

A little music for a Friday night

Let's have some oldies











Fletcher Henderson And His Orchestra
Rex Stewart (cnt) Russell Smith Bobby Stark (tp)
Sandy Williams J.C. Higginbotham (tb) Hilton Jefferson (as)
Russell Procope (as cl) Coleman Hawkins (ts cl) Fletcher Henderson (p)
Freddy White (g) John Kirby (tu b) Walter Johnson (d)






Sick: Teachers and Students Called 16-Year-Old Girl “Freak,” “Alien,” and “He-She"

From Alternet.  Good old Mississippi.  Still one of the major armpits of The USA.  Evil, irrational, cruel  --  what's not to like??
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http://www.alternet.org/gender/sick-teachers-and-students-called-16-year-old-girl-freak-alien-and-he-she

Within the first three days of enrolling in Magnolia Junior High School in Mississippi,  Destin Holmes, a 16-year-old lesbian, said that teachers called her a “he” instead of “she” which Holmes requested.
But that was just the beginning.
The bullying ensued with students and teachers referring to Holmes as an “it,” “queer,” “freak,” “alien,” “dyke,” and “he-she.” Holmes was also denied access to the girls’ bathroom. 
In one of the most shocking incidents, Holmes’ teacher degraded her in front of the entire class when she divided it up into boys vs. girls for a trivia game, but left Holmes in the middle.
“She told me since she didn’t know what I was, I should be on a team of my own,” Holmes said at a Southern Poverty Law Center press conference on Thursday.
Holmes said that when she went to the principal to complain about the harassment, the principal allegedly replied, “I don’t want a dyke in this school.”
Ultimately, Holmes left the junior high after one semester last year and is now being home-schooled.
"I loved being with friends and going to school before I was being bullied," she said at the conference.
After an investigation that revealed pervasive harassment at the school, the SPLC issued a letter Thursday to the Moss Point School District demanding that the anti-gay bullying come to an end. The letter stated that the school officials “routinely ignore severe and pervasive anti-LGBT harassment,” telling students to “suck it up.”
SPLC attorney Sam Wolfe said at the press conference:
Students face enough obstacles in school without also enduring violence and abuse for simply being different … They are entitled by law to attend school in an environment where they are not singled out and tormented because of their sexual orientation or gender nonconformity.
Wolfe warned that if the district doesn’t create a plan to address the issue, they will face a federal lawsuit.

Sly and the Family Stone - Everyday People

A message we ALL seem to have forgotten


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Day Off

Not feeling too good today  --  taking a day off.  See y'all tomorrow

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Texas tea party leader promotes Fascist Party as ‘pro-Constitution, pro-America’

From "Raw Story"  --  follow link to original.

As a resident of Texas, I admit we have some dumb shits here in Texas.  A real"murican".
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http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/03/19/texas-tea-party-leader-promotes-fascist-party-as-pro-constitution-pro-america/

A tea party leader in Texas is defending his promotion of the American Fascist Party as something he thought was “pro-Constitution, pro-America.”
James Ives, who was listed as the president of the Greater Fort Bend County Tea Party in 2011, confirmed to The Texas Tribune on Monday that he had made a promotional video for the American Fascist Party and advocated tea party principles on a Fascist Party message board.
In the video, a man who looks like Ives sits in front of a Fascist Party logo wearing a uniform with yellow shoulder patches. Another photo shows a uniformed man sitting in front of a fascist cross. The blog that inspired Norwegian mass shooter Anders Behring Breivik describes fascist solar crosses as “symbolic representations buried deep in the regions of the brain where the primal responses to stimuli are rage, awe, and fear.”
But Ives says that he was simply curious when he came to the Fascist Party as an “amateur political science student and frustrated novelist” in the early 2000s.
“From my point of view, it was all pro-Constitution, pro-America,” Ives explained to the Tribune. “I never did anything… There really weren’t enough people involved to be a gathering, let alone a rally. It was basically a scattering of people across the continent just complaining.”
The tea party leader claimed that he his participation in the Fascist Party was part of an effort to write a novel about what he thought was a cabal. But instead of writing that novel, Ives wrote on the message board about how building the Fascist Party in America was “our spirit, our calling.”
“It will be our greatest challenge, and our sweetest victory, to finally surpass this dark menace, this numbing threat from the shadows, and replace it with the pure sunbeam that is our Fascist Faith, our Fascist Truth,” Ives wrote.
Republican state Sen. Dan Patrick pledged not to host Ives on his radio show in the future if the links to the Fascist Party proved to be true.
Patrick called the tea party leader’s involvement with the fascist movement “very disturbing, no matter how far in the past it is.” The state senator insisted that Ives had “never been on our payroll, never been an employee.

RAPE CULTURE!

Found this on "Echidne Of The Snakes" - please follow link to original
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http://echidneofthesnakes.blogspot.com/



TEN years of WAR in Iraq - with NOTHING GAINED - except the destruction of the USA. Thank you G.W. BUSH!






Dave Zirin reacts to Steubenville rape trial verdict: 'The heroes in this story are the hackers'


Monday, March 18, 2013

Weather

The very next time you hear some friend, enemy, pundit, elected official say, "there's no sich thin' like 'gobal wargning'", or for that matter, global warming or man made climate change  --  just say five words   ----   "go watch the weather channel".

I've never seen so many "warnings" of so many different kinds, day after day.  Blizzards followed by severe thunder storms, tornado warnings, and the ever present drought.

Hey Inhofe, what do you have to say now?

Marches of Folly

Dr. Krugman's latest column  --  follow link to original
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http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/18/opinion/krugman-marches-of-folly.html?ref=paulkrugman&_r=0

Ten years ago, America invaded Iraq; somehow, our political class decided that we should respond to a terrorist attack by making war on a regime that, however vile, had nothing to do with that attack
Some voices warned that we were making a terrible mistake — that the case for war was weak and possibly fraudulent, and that far from yielding the promised easy victory, the venture was all too likely to end in costly grief. And those warnings were, of course, right.
There were, it turned out, no weapons of mass destruction; it was obvious in retrospect that the Bush administration deliberately misled the nation into war. And the war — having cost thousands of American lives and scores of thousands of Iraqi lives, having imposed financial costs vastly higher than the war’s boosters predicted — left America weaker, not stronger, and ended up creating an Iraqi regime that is closer to Tehran than it is to Washington.
So did our political elite and our news media learn from this experience? It sure doesn’t look like it.
The really striking thing, during the run-up to the war, was the illusion of consensus. To this day, pundits who got it wrong excuse themselves on the grounds that “everyone” thought that there was a solid case for war. Of course, they acknowledge, there were war opponents — but they were out of the mainstream.
The trouble with this argument is that it was and is circular: support for the war became part of the definition of what it meant to hold a mainstream opinion. Anyone who dissented, no matter how qualified, was ipso facto labeled as unworthy of consideration. This was true in political circles; it was equally true of much of the press, which effectively took sides and joined the war party.
CNN’s Howard Kurtz, who was at The Washington Post at the time, recently wrote about how this process worked, how skeptical reporting, no matter how solid, was discouraged and rejected. “Pieces questioning the evidence or rationale for war,” he wrote, “were frequently buried, minimized or spiked.”
Closely associated with this taking of sides was an exaggerated and inappropriate reverence for authority. Only people in positions of power were considered worthy of respect. Mr. Kurtz tells us, for example, that The Post killed a piece on war doubts by its own senior defense reporter on the grounds that it relied on retired military officials and outside experts — “in other words, those with sufficient independence to question the rationale for war.”
All in all, it was an object lesson in the dangers of groupthink, a demonstration of how important it is to listen to skeptical voices and separate reporting from advocacy. But as I said, it’s a lesson that doesn’t seem to have been learned. Consider, as evidence, the deficit obsession that has dominated our political scene for the past three years.
Now, I don’t want to push the analogy too far. Bad economic policy isn’t the moral equivalent of a war fought on false pretenses, and while the predictions of deficit scolds have been wrong time and again, there hasn’t been any development either as decisive or as shocking as the complete failure to find weapons of mass destruction. Best of all, these days dissenters don’t operate in the atmosphere of menace, the sense that raising doubts could have devastating personal and career consequences, that was so pervasive in 2002 and 2003. (Remember the hate campaign against the Dixie Chicks?)
But now as then we have the illusion of consensus, an illusion based on a process in which anyone questioning the preferred narrative is immediately marginalized, no matter how strong his or her credentials. And now as then the press often seems to have taken sides. It has been especially striking how often questionable assertions are reported as fact. How many times, for example, have you seen news articles simply asserting that the United States has a “debt crisis,” even though many economists would argue that it faces no such thing?
In fact, in some ways the line between news and opinion has been even more blurred on fiscal issues than it was in the march to war. As The Post’s Ezra Klein noted last month, it seems that “the rules of reportorial neutrality don’t apply when it comes to the deficit.”
What we should have learned from the Iraq debacle was that you should always be skeptical and that you should never rely on supposed authority. If you hear that “everyone” supports a policy, whether it’s a war of choice or fiscal austerity, you should ask whether “everyone” has been defined to exclude anyone expressing a different opinion. And policy arguments should be evaluated on the merits, not by who expresses them; remember when Colin Powell assured us about those Iraqi W.M.D.’s?
Unfortunately, as I said, we don’t seem to have learned those lessons. Will we ever?

Power matters, Cyprus edition

This from "Stumbling and Mumbling" - please follow link to original
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http://stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com/stumbling_and_mumbling/

It's widely agreed that the EU's plan to penalize smaller depositors in Cyprus's banks is a terrible idea, because as Paul Krugman says:
It’s as if the Europeans are holding up a neon sign, written in Greek and Italian, saying “time to stage a run on your banks!”
But if it's such a bad idea, why do it? The answer lies in something known by Marxists and heterodox economists, but which orthdox economics still has trouble acknowledging. Quite simply, the allocation of wealth, or costs, depends upon power.
Let's put it this way. Who could pay for Cyprus's insolvent banks? The answer isn't their bond-holders, because these are almost non-existent, and nor is it shareholders, as even a 100% loss for them doesn't cover the banks' liabilities.
In principle, Cyprus's government could have bailed out the banks. But this would have left it insolvent, requiring a bail-out itself. That would have imposed losses on holders of Cypriot government debt, such as European banks and hedge funds. But such holders had the power to resist this - in part because of the credibleish threat that such losses would have weakened confidence in the general European financial system, and as Kalecki said, "confidence" is one of the tools whereby capitalists retain power over the economy and governments.Pawelmorski says:
The hedge funds win again. A favourite trade for speculators has been Cypriot government debt. And it’s done very nicely. Mayfair sends its thanks.
This leaves only two possible payers. One is German tax-payers. But these have the obvious bargaining power of having little to lose if no agreement is reached.
The other possibility is that larger depositors in Cyprus's banks pay more - these being Russian gangsters legitimate businessmen and Greek tax-dodgers. But naturally, the rich have the power; the joke that Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades "has only rich friends" gains power from its plausibility.
As a matter of elimination, therefore, smaller depositors - those who supposedly had a "guarantee" must pay. They do so not because of any principle of fairness or efficiency, but because they lack the power to protect their interests. What we're seeing here, says Pawelmorski, is "a cruel piece of realpolitik."
One quirk here is that its possible that these haircuts are a backdoor way of channeling Cyprus's large gas reserves into Russian hands. This, of course, in no way undermines my point, which is that economic allocations are determined by power.
My point here is not just about Cyprus. It's about economics generally. If we cannot understand Cyprus's situation without thinking about power relationships, why should we assume that we can ignore power in other aspects of economics, such as the everyday transactions that have led to rising inequality?
The answer, of course, is that we can't. Power matters more than fairness or efficiency. It's about time conventional economics cottoned onto this. 

Cop Fractures Woman’s Face, Says “I’m Going to Push Your Nose Through Your Brain” Chicago police officer, who has been sued five times in past, stands trial for his most recent abuse.

This from "Alternet"  --  anyone who thinks cops are not out of control has their eyes closed and is screaming "nyuh, nyuh, nyuh" at the VERY top of their lungs.  Just another sign of the total deterioration of American "society".

Please follow link to original
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http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/cop-fractures-womans-face-says-im-going-push-your-nose-through-your-brain

On Wednesday, a victim of police brutality filed a lawsuit against a Chicago police officer as well as the city of Chicago. According to Courthouse News Service, in Apr. 2011, Chicago police appeared at Rita King’s door after a domestic disturbance complaint. King was approached by a police officer with a taser, arrested and then taken to the police station. She remained handcuffed to a table while she was questioned. Then, allegedly, she refused to be fingerprinted until someone explained why she was under arrest. A police officer responded: “We know somebody who can get your fingerprints.”
In entered police commander Glenn Evans who pressed his fist into King’s nose for three to five minutes, repeatedly saying, “I’m going to push your nose through your brain.” King bled profusely, was fingerprinted and was finally released from the station. She attempted to walk home, but lost consciousness after one block. When she woke up 30 minutes later, she managed to call a friend who brought her to the hospital where it was determined she suffered a facial fracture.
Evans has faced at least five other lawsuits as a Chicago police officer in the past. According to SJ&A attorneys, in 2006, an employee of Chicago’s Water Department named Rennie Simmons knocked on Evans door to deliver a notice for an overdue bill. Evans beat up Simmons, and preceded to choke him. Evans relented only after Simmons screamed that he was a stroke patient. Simmons went back to his car, called 911 and was shocked when he was arrested, not Evans.
In 2008, a college student named Cordell Simmons was brought into the station for a drug-related arrest. When Evans felt he wasn’t cooperating with police, he had Cordell stripped and held down while he tasered his groin. 
Both of these lawsuits settled before reaching trial.
Despite all this, Evans was promoted to from lieutenant to commander in August 2012.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, King states in the lawsuit that the Chicago police carry on a “code of silence” in which the officers’ loyalty to each other hinders them from revealing misconduct.
In the suit King states, “This de facto policy encourages Chicago Police officers to engage in misconduct with impunity and without fear of official consequences.”

Fox News Airs Name of 16-Year-Old Steubenville Rape Victim Fox News’ America’s Newsroom aired the name of the underage victim in the Steubenville rape case.

FOX "News" has no integrity, no shame, no ethics   ---   PERIOD!  They should lose their license to broadcast  --  they have already lost their "license" to be considered HUMAN!!

Please follow link to original.
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http://www.alternet.org/media/fox-news-airs-name-16-year-old-steubenville-rape-victim

During a report by correspondent Mike Tobin, the station aired a clip of 17-year-old Trent Mays, one of the rapists, apologizing in the courtroom on Sunday.
In the clip, Mays states: “I would truly like to apologize to [redacted], her family, my family and the community.”
But unlike CNN, which aired the same clip on Monday, Fox failed to redact the victim’s first name when airing the clip.
In an editor’s note in an Associated Press piece published on Fox’s website Sunday, the news organization stated they were going to refrain from listing the names of the minors in this case.
The note stated:
Editors’ Note: The Associated Press named the minors charged due to the fact they have been identified in other news coverage and their names were used in open court. FoxNews.com will not name the defendants.
However, Fox News broke this promise on Monday, revealing the name of the rape victim that news organizations have collectively abstained from reporting.
According to Raw Story, who first published the news, the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence has encouraged media outlets to “not to publish the names of minors who come forward with allegations of sexual abuse or rape and to avoid reporting stories in such a way that these minors are identifiable.”
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By the way, both FOX "News", and all the "newscasters" who supported the rapists, while blaming the victim (esp. CNN) are SCUM!  They should ALL be ashamed of their actions.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Anti-Pot GOP Rep Busted For Pot

This from Joe.My.God.  --  do you even wonder why i'm so disgusted with all aspects of our Government  --  from local on up?

Please follow link to original.
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http://joemygod.blogspot.com/

New York GOP Assemblyman Steve Katz, who is mostly known for his loud opposition to medical marijuana, has had a little run-in with the cops.

In a mailing to constituents, the Yorktown Republican, who serves on the Assembly Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Committee, warned: “Our community has been stricken with an increase in drug use and drunk driving by our youngest citizens.”  On Thursday morning, Katz was ticketed near Albany, accused of speeding and marijuana possession, state police said Friday. Katz, 59, who was first elected to the Assembly in 2010, was pulled over on the northbound Thruway in Coeymans for driving 80 mph in a 65 mph zone, police said. The state trooper noted the smell of marijuana when he approached Katz’s car, police said. Katz turned over a small bag of what appeared to be marijuana, state police spokeswoman Darcy Wells said.

The Beatles - Blackbird (lyrics)


LIAM McNALLY STUNS THE AUDIENCE ON BRITAIN'S GOT TALENT SINGING DANNY BOY


come out ya black an tans


I.R.A Wolfe Tones - The Men Behind The Wire


The Wolfe Tones - The Boys of the Old Brigade


Dropkick Murphys - Kiss Me, I'm Shitfaced


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Jon Faddis - All Blues


Jon Faddis W/Diz Moody, Henricks


Dizzy Gillespie Big Band - Oo Bop Sh' Bam! 1947


Chega de Saudade Dizzy Gillespie


Muslim Brotherhood’s Statement on Women Stirs Liberals’ Fears

Here's some stuff from "The Muslim Brotherhood"  --  their misogyny is as bad as, perhaps even worse than that of our Rabid-Right-Wing-KKKonservative-Kristians.  ALL the "Sons of Abraham" absolutely HATE women.  By the way, the treatment of women by Muslims should stir all liberals fears.  So to the treatment of women by our right wing KKKonservatives

Please follow link to original
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 http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/15/world/middleeast/muslim-brotherhoods-words-on-women-stir-liberal-fears.html

During its decades as an underground Islamist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood has long preached that Islam required women to obey their husbands in all matters.
“A woman needs to be confined within a framework that is controlled by the man of the house,” Osama Yehia Abu Salama, a Brotherhood family expert, said of the group’s general approach, speaking in a recent seminar for women training to become marriage counselors. Even if a wife were beaten by her husband, he advised, “Show her how she had a role in what happened to her.”
“If he is to blame,” Mr. Abu Salama added, “she shares 30 percent or 40 percent of the fault.”
Now, with a leader of the Brotherhood’s political arm in Egypt’s presidential palace and its members dominating Parliament, some deeply patriarchal views the organization has long taught its members are spilling into public view. The Brotherhood’s strident statements are reinforcing fears among many Egyptian liberals about the potential consequences of the group’s rise to power and creating new awkwardness for President Mohamed Morsi as he presents himself as a new kind of moderate, Western-friendly Islamist.
In a statement Wednesday on a proposed United Nations declaration to condemn violence against women, the Brotherhood issued a list of objections, which formally laid out its views on women for the first time since it came to power.
In its statement, the Brotherhood said that wives should not have the right to file legal complaints against their husbands for rape, and husbands should not be subject to the punishments meted out for the rape of a stranger.
A husband must have “guardianship” over his wife, not an equal “partnership” with her, the group declared. Daughters should not have the same inheritance rights as sons. Nor should the law cancel “the need for a husband’s consent in matters like travel, work or use of contraception” — a reform in traditional Islamic family law that was enacted under former President Hosni Mubarak and credited to his wife, Suzanne.
The statement appeared in many ways to reflect the Brotherhood’s longstanding doctrine, still discussed in classes like Mr. Abu Salama’s and in the group’s women’s forums. Feminists said its statement also may reflect the views of most women in Egypt’s conservative, traditionalist culture.
In an interview on Thursday, Pakinam El-Sharkawy, President Morsi’s political adviser and Egypt’s representative last week at the United Nations commission, sought to distance the Morsi administration from the Brotherhood’s statement.
The Brotherhood, she emphasized, does not speak for the president; he has resigned from the Brotherhood but remains a member of its political party. “Does any statement issued by any political party or group represent the presidency?” she asked. “It’s not the presidency’s institution, and it’s not an official entity.”
The Egyptian government, she said, “is working with all its powers and policies to stop all forms of violence against women.”
The government objected to the United Nations declaration condemning violence against women, she said, only over issues like whether to describe restrictions on abortion as an act of violence against women. That offended the cultural norms in many Arab and African countries, she said.
Asked about the statement’s apparent attempt to shield marital rape from legal prosecution, Ms. Sharkawy brushed off the issue as an irrelevant foreign concern.
“Marital rape? Is this a big problem that we have?” she said, suggesting that it might be a Western phenomenon, while sexual harassment in the streets was a far greater concern in Egypt.
“Should we import their concerns and problems and adopt them as ours?” she asked. “We’re talking about things that aren’t widely agreed upon, like abortion. We can’t give women the freedom to have abortions whenever they want.”
Do not pick issues not pressing in Egypt, she said, “and then tell me that I’m in a conflict with the international community.”
Some Egyptian feminists, though, called the statement a vindication of their warnings that the Brotherhood might lead Egypt in a more conservative and patriarchal direction.
“They do not believe that when domestic violence is present, the women should resort to the justice system or the legal process,” said Ghada Shahbandar of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights. “It should be kept at home and under the protection of the family — that is their claim. And there is no such thing as marital rape because a husband is entitled to have sex with his wife any time that he wants.”
“This is the first time we have heard it said publicly on the world stage,” she said, “but this has been in their rhetoric for ages.”
In his seminar for prospective Islamist marriage counselors, Mr. Abu Salama justified the group’s approach to marriage by explaining that Islam also required husbands to be compassionate, just as it required women to be obedient.
Quoting Muhammad’s injunction that a man “must not fall on his wife like an animal,” a textbook in Mr. Abu Salama’s class said Islam instructed men to engage in foreplay before sex and attend to their partner’s satisfaction. As for inheritance, Islamic scholars have argued that a son should have a greater share, but also an obligation to look after the financial well-being of a sister.
But Mr. Abu Salama also argued that husbands should keep their wives under tight control. “It’s the nature of the weak to overstep the required framework if she is given the space and the freedom, like children,” he said in the seminar. Most of the women nodded in agreement.
Closing its statement on the proposed United Nations declaration, the Brotherhood appeared to go even further. The provisions discussed are “destructive tools meant to undermine the family as an important institution,” the statement concluded, and “would drag society back to pre-Islamic ignorance.”

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Crime Lab Scandal Leaves Mass. Legal System In Turmoil


this from NPR  --  relates to the next post I've put up.  Please follow link to original
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http://www.npr.org/2013/03/14/174269211/mass-crime-lab-scandal-reverberates-across-state

A scandal in a Massachusetts crime lab continues to reverberate throughout the state's legal system. Several months ago, Annie Dookhan, a former chemist in a state crime lab, told police that she messed up big time. Dookhan now stands accused of falsifying test results in as many as 34,000 cases.
As a result, lawyers, prosecutors and judges used to operating in a world of "beyond a reasonable doubt" now have nothing but doubt.
Already, hundreds of convicts and defendants have been released because of the scandal. Now, the state's highest court may weigh in on how these cases should be handled.
"I don't think anyone ever perceived that one person was capable of causing this much chaos," says Norfolk County District Attorney Michael Morrisey, one of many DAs now digging through old drug cases, trying to sort out how many should now be considered tainted.
"You can see the entire walls full of boxes," Morrissey says, gesturing at dusty files piled six feet high in a conference room near his office. "In one of these cardboard boxes, there could be hundreds of cases ... in each box."
The cases represent nearly a decade's worth of work that could take years and tens of millions of dollars to review.
For Prosecutors, 'Unsettling And Maddening'
In Massachusetts, special courts have already heard hundreds of cases of convicts and defendants arguing they were denied due process. Their evidence, they argue, was handled — or mishandled — by Annie Dookhan.
In a recent hearing, public defender Julieann Hernon is arguing for release of a man charged with selling cocaine and heroin in a school-zone to an undercover officer. Hernon recites a list of alleged misconduct by Dookhan.
"It was, we now know, mistesting evidence, drylabbing evidence, saying she had conducted tests when she had not, deliberately tainting drugs," she says.
Hernon's client had pleaded guilty, but now, Hernon says, he should be allowed to take it back.
"Certainly, I think, we have to presume a taint here when Annie Dookhan was the chemist in the case," Hernon tells the judge.
The whole dynamic in court has now flipped in Massachusetts. Defendants tend to smile while prosecutors watch their cases crumble. Today, Norfolk County Assistant District Attorney Tom Finigan tells the court that the Commonwealth will not oppose Hernon's motion.
"It's unsettling and maddening, because you're now going to have a lot of people get released to the street prematurely," says Middlesex County District attorney Gerry Leone, one of many hoping the state supreme court will curb the releases.
While some defendants could still be on the hook for gun or assault charges, for example, he says most drug cases where Dookhan was the primary chemist will be impossible to re-prove beyond a reasonable doubt.
But Leone says it's unclear where to draw the line. Some offenders, he says, are just trying to jump on the bandwagon, arguing that every test from that lab should be considered tainted.
"If someone's in jail, they're doing downtime," Leone says. "So there's no reason to try to file something that gets you back before the court."
In another recent case, defense attorney William Sullivan successfully argued to withdraw a client's guilty plea in a case where Dookhan was a secondary chemist.
"This is a lab that was pretty much wholly and fully contaminated by Ms. Annie Dookhan," Sullivan told the judge. "She had full access to everyone's drugs."
While the judge decided in his client's favor, Sullivan is quick to add that clients like his also have plenty of reason to be bitter.
"The tragedy is that he's already did four years on this," Sullivan says. "I mean, that is disturbing in itself."
Other defendants have lost jobs, driver's licenses, kids and marriages, and many have been deported. And in federal court, many defendants received stiffer sentences, because of prior state convictions based on evidence from Annie Dookhan.
With Hundreds Now Free, Police On High Alert
Defense attorneys say it's taking too long to handle these cases individually. They want the state's highest court to order that Dookhan cases should be presumed to be tainted and automatically put on hold.
It may look like defendants are getting a "get out of jail free" card, Sullivan says, but the focus must be on whether they got a fair trial.
"I think we put on blinders when we're doing these cases," Sullivan says. "You try to do the right thing for your client to make sure that they get proper representation. And if that means it gets them off, it gets them off."
With hundreds of former defendants already off and out on city streets, police remain on high alert.
"These people are not first time offenders or small time drug dealers," says Boston police sergeant James Machado. "I know there will be consequence[s] of this. And unfortunately, innocent people will be killed."
Already, about 20 of those released have been re-arrested for new crimes. Boston police commissioner Edward Davis says Boston hasn't seen the surge in violence that some feared, but he — and his officers — worry it's yet to come.
"They shake their heads. You know, they're disgusted by what's happened," Davis says. "We have to start from zero again."
Davis says he's been sending an officer to meet with each defendant or convict just before release to offer services like job training — and to issue a warning.
"We tell them, 'Listen, we know what you were doing before and we're watching you. And if you go back into the life, that Dookhan's not there anymore. So when you go [back] in on this charge, it's gonna stick,'" Davis says.
Annie Dookhan is currently facing charges of her own: 27 counts of perjury, tampering with evidence and obstructing justice.
At the same time, civil suits are also starting to pile up, as those accused of crimes based on Dookhan's evidence now accuse Dookhan of violating their right to a fair trial.

"27 counts of altering drug evidence" -- right now, 30,000 cases are in question. This has thrown the Mass. justice system in total confusion.

I just had to put this up  --  it shows what a travesty our "Justice System" has become. 

Please follow link to original
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http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/2012/12/20/indicted-drug-analyst-annie-dookhan-mails-reveal-her-close-personal-ties-prosecutors/A37GaatHLKfW1kphDjxLXJ/story.html

 Annie Dookhan was supposed to be an independent witness, a state chemist coolly analyzing drug evidence for the court. But her e-mails over the last nine years, obtained by the Globe, vividly detail her close relationship with prosecutors, including a man to whom she poured her heart out, and her strong desire to put suspects behind bars.
Dookhan, arraigned Thursday on 27 counts of altering drug evidence and obstructing justice, viewed herself as part of the prosecution team, the ­e-mails show. She coached ­assistant district attorneys on trial strategy and told one that her goal was “getting [drug dealers] off the streets.” When Dookhan told a prosecutor that she could not testify in her case, the woman replied with an anguished: “No no no!!! I need you!!!”
The e-mails show that her close relationships extended beyond Norfolk Assistant ­District Attorney George ­Papachristos, who resigned in October after the Globe disclosed his flirtatious friendship with Dookhan. But Dookhan appeared to have a special fondness for Papachristos, even sending him copies of an e-mail in which she said she needed a man “to love me and make me laugh.”
The collection of more than 1,000 e-mails could raise new questions about the reliability of any of Dookhan’s work in the 34,000 drug cases she handled since 2003 at the state drug lab in Jamaica Plain. Dookhan’s admitted altering of test results and mishandling of evidence has already led to the release from jail of 159 drug case ­defendants, with many more expected to be freed.
The e-mails show Dookhan was prone to fabrications, repeat­edly making up grandiose job titles for herself, such as “special agent of operations” for the FBI and other federal agencies.
She was also far from the impartial analyst her job description demanded, regularly doing favors for prosecutors while treating defense attor­neys warily, asking prosecutors if she should even ­respond to their requests.
The correspondence also raises questions about what role prosecutors may have played in encouraging Dookhan’s ­alleged misconduct.
The married, 35-year-old chemist’s friendly relationship with Papachristos, 37, finally went over the line for Dookhan’s husband in 2009. Having apparently discovered the exchanges between his wife and the prosecutor, he contacted Papachristos using his wife’s phone.
“I got 8 text messages on my work cellphone from your cell, and they (sic) according to the messages, they were from your husband. He said a few things that didn’t make any sense to me,” wrote Papachristos to Dookhan on August 12, 2009. “I have to tell my bosses ­because it was on my work cell and he made several accusations that have no basis.”
Papachristos has denied that the two had an affair. The e-mails show they worked closely — “Glad we are on the same team,” he once wrote Dookhan — including one day in May 2010 when he told her he needed a marijuana sample to weigh at least 50 pounds so that he could charge the owners with drug trafficking.
“Any help would be greatly appreciated!” he wrote, punctuating each sentence with a long string of exclamation points. “Thank you!”
Two hours later, Dookhan responded: “OK . . . definitely Trafficking, over 80 lbs.” ­Papachristos thanked her profusely.
Papachristos may only have been asking for clarification and not asking Dookhan to ­offer an inflated weight, but inves­tigators have charged that Dookhan was more than willing to alter drug test results to find a defendant guilty. In fact, Dookhan is facing charges that she fabricated test results for another case that Papachristos prosecuted.
Both Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey and ­Papachristos’s lawyer, Daniel W. O’Malley, said the prosecutor did nothing wrong and has already been cleared by the ­attorney general.
“George Papachristos was a dedicated and seasoned prosecutor who voluntarily met with two assistant attorneys general and two Massachusetts state troopers regarding Annie Dookhan, and he answered all of their questions,” O’Malley said. “He engaged in no wrongdoing, and he is not accused of engaging in any wrongdoing.”
Dookhan’s e-mails make it clear she was highly regarded, both by prosecutors and people inside the state drug lab in ­Jamaica Plain where she processed more than twice as many drug cases as anyone else.
“Some of the senior chemists are becoming full of themselves and using my name and reputation for their own advance­ment,” Dookhan complained in March 2011 to ­Debra Payton, a Norfolk County assistant district attorney.  Dookhan’s direct supervisors did little to prohibit her continued involvement in drug cases even after she was caught improperly removing drugs from the evidence storage area for 60 Norfolk County cases in June 2011.
Just before she ­resigned under pressure in March 2012, Dookhan was preparing to testify in upcoming drug trials, and even though she was not allowed to do any more drug tests, she still had free run of the lab.
“I have full access to anything and everything, one of the advantages, so some of the other chemists are resentful of me,” she wrote to ­Papachristos in November 2011.
Dookhan pleaded not guilty to 26 felony charges in Suffolk Superior Court Thursday in a case that has mushroomed into the biggest law enforcement scandal in recent Massachusetts history. The State Police have closed the lab altogether, and at least five officials respon­sible for oversight of the lab have resigned or been fired.
Meanwhile, the cost of the scandal threatens to top $100 million, and public safety officials fear a crime wave as one convicted drug offender after another is released. Eight have already been rearrested on new charges.
Dookhan’s attorney, Nicolas Gordon, declined to comment because he has not seen the ­e-mails, but he said he thinks the correspondence will prove critical in her defense. He did not elaborate.
Dookhan allegedly said to State ­Police last summer, “I screwed up big time.”
In e-mails, Dookhan portrayed herself as a woman proud of her extraordinary work ethic. She described taking drug analysis work with her on a family vacation to Spain in 2010 and boasted that she was usually at work long before the rest of the staff.
“I believe you are the hardest working drug chemist I have worked with,” Papachristos told her in March 2011.
Dookhan also exaggerated her credentials; she is facing one criminal charge for falsely claiming to have a master’s in chemistry in court testimony. In e-mails, Dookhan identified herself by a variety of titles, includ­ing “on-call terrorism super­visor,” for jobs authorities say she did not have.
Several prosecutors seemed to take particular delight in working with Dookhan, especially in Norfolk County. ­Payton called herself an Annie Dookhan “hog” because she was so eager to get Dookhan’s help analyzing drug samples. Payton addressed Dookhan and one other chemist as her “dream team!”
Allison Callahan, a Suffolk assistant district attorney, was so happy with Dookhan’s help on a big marijuana case that she promised to take her to an upscale bar to celebrate after the defendant pleaded guilty.
“Hey, Annie, you’re the best!” Callahan wrote in July 2011. “The ton of weed case pled after your testimony. I think the defense was ­impressed that a tiny woman could lift those bails [sic] of marijuana. I owe you drinks, Gypsy Bar:)”
But it was Dookhan’s relationship with Papachristos that proved most friendly and most problematic. From an initial e-mail meeting over a case in March 2009 — she called him Mr. Papachristos, and he asked if it was “OK if I call you ­Annie?” — their online friendship graduated to cards of encouragement from Dookhan and swapping stories of their shared Greek heritage.
“When you get upset and frustrated, there’s always M&Ms; at least my cure all is chocolate,” Dookhan wrote to Papachristos in June 2009. “But just know you have a friend if you need to talk or anything.”
“My problems are far less important than yours, believe me,” Papachristos wrote in ­August 2009 after she apparently told him about her marital problems. “Mine revolve around meeting the right girl, which up to this point hasn’t happened, and it is very frustrating.”
The e-mails suggest that the pair met in person only a handful of times, but their correspondence continued to be ­unusually personal long after Papachristos received threatening text messages from Dookhan’s husband, Surren Dookhan in August 2009.
They called each other nicknames — she was “kiddo,” he was “old man” — and shared dreams: Papachristos desperately wanted to be a federal agent for the FBI or the Drug Enforcement Agency and Dookhan tried to help him, to no avail.
By late 2009, Dookhan was using her maiden name, Khan, and saying she was divorced, though it is unclear if that was true. In 2012, she told State ­Police she was still going through a long divorce and her husband was in the house when they interviewed her.
In December 2009, Dookhan appeared to create fictitious e-mails purportedly from an assistant US attorney in which she discussed her lonely romantic life and sent copies to Papachristos. The US attorney’s name was misspelled and federal officials said the e-mails were never sent
“We have all decided that you need a boyfriend,” read the fictitious e-mail signed by ­“Susanne Sullivan,” who spells her first name with a Z. “It’s been three months since your divorce.”
“Boyfriend!” shot back Dookhan, in an e-mail that ­included photos and was copied to Papachristos. “I just want someone to love me and make me laugh and smile.”
The following April, ­Papachristos received an ominous message, this one from Annie Dookhan’s e-mail ­account, though not necessarily written by her:
“Everything that you know about me and my personal life is a lie,” the brief e-mail read. “I have lied to you about my marriage and my husband. I will have no contact with you in the future.”
Papachristos wrote back unusually formally, seemingly aware that Annie Dookhan’s husband might be reading:
“I am not sure, nor do I want to know, why I was sent this e-mail or whether I am in the middle of possible marital discourse, but I do not want to be,” he wrote in March 2010, “I do not get involved personally with any potential or actual witnesses.”
Annie Dookhan responded stiffly, writing back that her ­relationship was strictly professional, as Papachristos had requested.
But exactly 44 minutes after that, Papachristos ­resumed his familiar tone, address­ing Dookhan as ­“Annie!” in his next message.
Dookhan and Papachristos stayed in contact for months after she was banned from ­doing more drug tests, with Dookhan giving no hint of mounting trouble.