What Madoff Really Needs is Company, and Lots of It

Peacenik doesn't have any sympathy for Bernie Madoff. And Peacenik doesnt' have any sympathy for some of the people who lost money with Bernie. Investments too good to be true, probably aren't true.

Peacenik has said it before. Wall St. is a casino. Any money anyone invests in Wall St. is gambling money. The laws governing Wall St. are not being enforced. The game is rigged. It is laughable that this huge Ponzi scheme has resulted in only one prosecution. Why aren't the laws and regulations being enforced? Because the guilty have bribed and bought the regulators. And also because the whole of Wall St. has become a Ponzi scheme. To regulate it is to blow down the house of cards. But the house of cards is coming down anyways. Peacenik says cash out and hunker down.

Don't get Madoff, get even: Bernie Madoff may deserve his 150-year jail sentence – but he wasn't the biggest crook on Wall Street

by Richard Adams

Everyone knew that Bernie Madoff was going down – since he had already pleaded guilty to running a fake investment scheme worth between $65bn and $171bn. So there was none of the drama that accompanied fraud trials like that of Jeffrey Skilling, who maintained his innocence even after he was convicted for his part in the collapse of Enron. The only question today was how long inside Madoff would get. His lawyers suggested – in a spirit of optimism only paid advocates could muster – that Madoff deserved just 12 years in jail. The judge gave him the maximum 150. So, with time off for good behaviour, Bernie will be out in time to celebrate his 146th birthday in 2084.

In other words, barring a judicial miracle, the 71-year-old Madoff will spend the rest of his life behind bars. In terms of discouraging others from selling their souls in return for enjoying 20 years of wealth and prestige, Madoff's sentence is a good thing. And it is tempting to indulge in schadenfreude at Madoff's expense, after he had indulged in riches and privilege at the expense of others. But the worst result of Madoff's life sentence is that he becomes the face of the circa-2008 financial tsunami – and that he doesn't deserve, even if he deserves to rot behind bars.

Read on...

Must Read from Bob Herbert - How Long Is Long Enough?

The other day Peacenik read about how the Obama administration was preparing an executive order to allow indefinite detention. Today we find out that torture is ongoing. That justice continues to be denied at Guantanamo.

Peacenik is having a hard time understanding Obama's positions on justice and torture. It was a slippery slope that George Bush led the country down. Now the concept of torture is enshrined in the American psyche. They support it. They like it. They want to torture people. And the rule of law? Its seems to Peacenik that a big chunk of the American public could care less. The drumbeat of neo con propaganda has brutalized a nation. And now Obama can't seem to turn the clock back. Even if he wanted to.

by teacherken

Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 09:07:21 PM PDT

It begins like this

No one seems to know how old Mohammed Jawad was when he was seized by Afghan forces in Kabul six and a half years ago and turned over to American custody. Some reports say he was 14. Some say 16. The Afghan government believes he was 12.

The penultimate paragraph

There is no credible evidence against Jawad, and his torture-induced confession has rightly been ruled inadmissible by a military judge. But the Obama administration does not feel that he has suffered enough. Not only have administration lawyers opposed defense efforts to secure Jawad’s freedom, but they are using, as the primary basis for their opposition, the fruits of the confession that was obtained through torture and has already been deemed inadmissible — without merit, of no value.

Read on...


Mini Holiday

Punditman says...Gone for a couple of days. You are in Peacenik's hands, dear readers. Happy reading. I think.

The Man in the Mirror

Peacenik talked to several people about the death of Michael Jackson. Both at the pub on Thursday and at a barbecue on Saturday. The reactions were mixed. Some people admitted to liking his music, his old music. Everyone agreed he was weird. But no one suggested he was a symbol of America's decline.

But Kunstler makes a pretty strong case that Jackson's decline...both financially and mentally and morally.....mirrors America's. And the fact that the similarities are so striking is very scary. America has become the nation equivalent of the person Michael Jackson was. What happens when a nation drops dead?

By James Howard Kunstler

As America entered the horse latitudes of summer, befogged in a muffling stillness on deceptively calm seas, we were distracted for a while by visions of a pale death angel moonwalking across the deck of collective consciousness. Eerie parallels resound between the sordid demise of pop singer Michael Jackson and the fate of the nation.

Like the United States, Michael Jackson was spectacularly bankrupt, reportedly in the range of $800-million, which is rather a lot for an individual. Had he lived on a few more years, he might have qualified for his own TARP program -- another piece of expensive dead-weight down in the economy's bilges -- since it is our established policy now to throw immense sums of so-called "money" at gigantic failing enterprises (while millions of ordinary citizens wash overboard, without so much as a life-preserver). Anyway, Michael Jackson was on the receiving end of one huge bank loan after another long after his pattern of profligacy was set and obvious. They threw money at him for the same reason that the federal government throws money at entities like CitiBank: the desperate hope that some miracle will allow debt servicing to resume. Michael could burn through $50-million in half a year. It didn't seem to affect his credibility as a borrower. When his heart stopped last week, he was living in a Hollywood mansion that rented for several hundred thousand dollars a month. You wonder how the landlord cashed those checks.

Read on...

Time to Take the Gloves off with Obama

Last week Peacenik was wondering if the staus quo could ever be re-established in Iran. Peacenik didn't think so.

This article in Culture Change raised the flip side of that question in the U.S. Can the status quo ever be overturned in the U.S? Yes the president who ran on change turns out to be a talented defender of the status quo. But Peacenik would argue that just like the status quo in Iran no longer exists, the same is true of the U.S. It is just taking a while for the reality of the new normal in the U.S. to take hold. And what is the new normal? Chaos and Collapse. All the politicking in the world won't change that.

by Jan Lundberg and Jeff Gerritsen
18 June 2009

ImageThe clock is ticking, and we are not building life boats. As the population's options close and a harder ecological and socioeconomic fall is assured more each day, Barack Obama is leading the thumb twiddlers, albeit with eloquence and charm. What passes for policy debate today seldom reckons with the life and death issues of climate extinction, petrocollapse, and the social chaos ahead.

Obama is dealing with a heck of a lot, granted. This alone is supposed to quiet the people quite a bit, and despite the Depression, ecocide and unending war, it has worked rather well. With his likability and intelligence – after the "Führer Bushler" -- Obama is thus the perfect man for our times if you're basically clinging to the status quo.

Read on...

Key leaders of Honduras military coup trained in U.S.

punditman says...The headline does not surprise Punditman, considering the history of US involvement in the Central American region and its training of human rights violators and death squad leaders.

There has been a coup in Honduras. Leftish reformer President Manuel Zelaya has been removed from office and sent to Costa Rica. The Honduran armed forces have historic links with the US including during the brutal Contra War, in which the Reagan administration used the CIA to fund and train armed groups to attack the Leftish Sandinista regime of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, who is once again Nicaragua's president. They also directly funded and trained Honduran death squads that were responsible for thousands of disappeared and assassinated throughout the region. Honduras was a military dictatorship from 1956 to 1982. Apparently the days of Honduran army involvement in politics are far from over.

The Organization of American States has demanded Mr Zelaya's immediate reinstatement. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said the international community should teach the Honduran government "a lesson." US President Barack Obama has said that "any existing tensions and disputes must be resolved peacefully through dialogue free from any outside interference." People are out on the streets protesting and demanding their leader be returned. It remains to be seen what will transpire.

But Punditman wonders what kind of coverage this will get compared to Iran.

At least two leaders of the coup launched in Honduras today were apparently trained at a controversial Department of Defense school based at Fort Benning, Georgia infamous for producing graduates linked to torture, death squads and other human rights abuses.

Leftist President Manuel Zelaya was kidnapped and transported to Costa Rica this morning after a growing controversy over a vote concerning term limits. Over the last week, Zelaya clashed with and eventually dismissed General Romeo Vasquez -- who is now reportedly in charge of the armed forces that abducted the Honduran president.

According to the watchdog group School of Americas Watch, Gen. Vasquez trained at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation at least twice -- in 1976 and 1984 -- when it was still called School of Americas.

Keep Reading...


Congress Sides With The Military-Industrial Complex

Military spending that it can't afford. This is what helped bring about the collapse of the Soviet Union. And it will bring about the collapse of the US. The US Congress is full of crackpots and nutcases. And look at the the crazy ammendment that Coburn is adding: legalizing concealed weapons in public parks. Peacenik is dumbfounded.

It is laughable. It is crazy. But these are the leaders of the "free world." They don't even pretend to care about saving the social safety net. Healthcare? Deficits? What dat? It's time to feed the military industrial complex.

by dday


Lawmakers defy veto threat on F-22 fighter

Congress on Thursday moved forward with plans to build more Lockheed Martin F-22 fighter jets, disregarding a veto threat from the Obama administration.

Lawmakers also moved to authorize the funding for an alternative engine for the Joint Strike Fighter F-35.

Congress is setting the stage for a showdown over the 2010 defense authorization bill with the administration and in particular Defense Secretary Robert Gates, as the Office of Management and Budget issued a statement outlining the veto threat Wednesday over both issues.

Read on...


Froomkin's Last WaPo Stand

Before the weekend starts, in about an hour for Peacenik, Peacenik wants to salute Dan Froomkin who was recently fired from the Washington Post.

He was one of the few mainstream media types who weren't Bush/Cheney asskissers. Peacenik has been reading Froomkin for years. And now there are fewer and fewer reasons for Peacenik to even visit the Washington Post. If Froomkin doesn't get a new high profile job soon, it will tell you that the neo con war on the media is not only continuing but that the neo cons are winning it.

by mcjoan

Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 11:30:06 AM PDT

As Fred Hiatt retrenches ever deeper into his Village enclave, creating as Scott Horton says, "a Neocon remainder bin" on his opinion pages, Dan Froomkin bids farewell. And he demonstrates again why he's consistently been the main reason to visit WaPo's opinion page, and why it must have been so uncomfortable for Hiatt to keep him around.

When I look back on the Bush years, I think of the lies. There were so many. Lies about the war and lies to cover up the lies about the war. Lies about torture and surveillance. Lies about Valerie Plame. Vice President Dick Cheney's lies, criminally prosecutable but for his chief of staff Scooter Libby's lies. I also think about the extraordinary and fundamentally cancerous expansion of executive power that led to violations of our laws and our principles.

And while this wasn't as readily apparent until President Obama took office, it's now very clear that the Bush years were all about kicking the can down the road – either ignoring problems or, even worse, creating them and not solving them. This was true of a huge range of issues including the economy, energy, health care, global warming – and of course Iraq and Afghanistan.

Read on...

Iran Open Thread: Government Continues Brutal Crackdown

Peacenik thinks the only thing left to be decided in Iran is whether or not the status quo can be maintained. And Peacenik thinks the status quo has been shattered. Yes the government may be able to retain power. But the government's knowledge and the people's knowledge, and the world's knowledge that a huge groundswell of opposition to the present regime exists has forever changed the dynamics.

There will be repression, and murder, and mayhem, but the illusion of control is gone. The protesters have won. How their victory plays out though is still up in the air. But Peacenik thinks a majority of Iran is sick of living in a theocracy. The victory is that simple. Peacenik looks forward to the day when the majority of the U.S. is sick of living in a kleptocracy. It can happen.

by Zoltan

Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 09:46:26 PM PDT

Iran is rapidly fading from the public consciousness. Two high profile celebrity deaths, of course, will drown out all significant news in the corporate media for some time to come (and to some extent even on the blogs - three recommended diaries on the deaths in one day here, for example). The Irani government has been increasinlgy more successful in creating a media blackout, which is also contributing to the general loss of interest that seems to be taking place in the West.

But I would like to keep the discussion about Iran going. Please post news, thoughts, and analysis.

I have a few thoughts of my own below the fold.

Nico Pitney has changed his link:

Nico Pitney at the Huffington Post

And a link to Sullivan, who is still devoting a lot of his blog to Iran:

Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish

Read on...

Will America's Beseiged Middle Class Snap?

It looks like Peacenik isn't the only one wondering about how our dystopian present will play out. Yesterday Charles Hugh Smith was writing about a devolutionary spiral. Today Yves Lavinge is wondering when the middle class will snap. Peacenik is finding it curious and worrisome that more and more people are finding it difficult to understand how the sheeple are letting themselves be raped and pillaged....without objection.

It seems to Peacenik that the only thing holding society together right now is society's willful ignorance. The Oil Drum had this interesting post on this the other day, Does knowledge of the collapse contribute to the collapse? What will it take to get you off your ass and into the streets with a pitch fork? Hunger? Homelessness? Sickness? Revenge? Hopelessness? How much longer is society going to hold the illusion together that things are ok....or might be ok? Peacenik doesn't think much longer. Have a good weekend.

Naked Capitalism

A paradox arises to the extent that it is true that the market is dependent on normative underpinning (to provide the pre-contractural foundations such as trust, cooperation, and honesty) which all contractural relations require: The more people accept the neoclasical paradigm as a guide for their behavior, the more the ability to sustain a market economy is undermined. This holds for all those who engage in transactions without ever-present inspectors, auditors, lawyers, and police: if they do not limit themselves to legitimate (i.e. normative) means of competition out of internlized values, the system will collapse, because the transaction costs of a fully or even highly "policed" system are prohibitive. This holds even more so for the regulators that every market requires. If those whose duty it is to set and to enforce the rules of the game are out to maximize their own profits, a-la-Public Choice, there is no hope for the system

Amitai Etzioni, The Moral Dimension: Toward a New Economics

I’ve been amazed at the complacency of Americans in the face of rape and pillage by the moneyed classes. Of course, I underestimate the impact of overwork and media brainwashing. If you are a member of the dwindling middle class, you are probably devoting all your energies to hanging on to your job and trying to be a decent partner and for those with families, parent. Any kind of sustained political action (unless you grew up with it in a serious way) is unlikely to rate as high as a tertiary concern. In our total information society, protesting has high odds of getting one’s mug in a video that could come back to haunt you. An arrest would show up in a background check. What a great way to keep the peasantry in line.

Read on...

US, Israel, Russia absent at cluster bomb talks

punditman says...
Okay, eighty countries have cluster bomb arsenals. That fact alone is kind of depressing and makes you want to become a clown or something. Never mind. But look at the bright side: at least these nations went to the cluster bomb conference.

This insidious weapon,
known as the "cluster bomb," was first used by the German Luftwaffe on the English town of Grimsby in 1943. Unfortunately, it has been deployed many times since, in many wars, most recently by the US air force in Iraq.

These weapons keep killing and maiming children, even years after a conflict is over.
As the article notes, the usual suspect nations were absent from the conference. Are you surprised? Punditman is not surprised. Read on.

BERLIN (AFP) — Delegates from over 80 countries pledging to destroy their cluster bombs started a two-day conference in Berlin to assess progress since a 2008 agreement banning the weapons.

Absent however were the United States, Israel, Russia and Georgia -- countries which have used cluster bombs in recent years and which refuse to sign up the agreement. China, India and Pakistan also stayed away.

A cluster bomb is a weapon fired by artillery or dropped by aircraft that splits open and scatters multiple -- often hundreds -- of smaller submunitions, or bomblets, over a large area.

Keep Reading...


No option but to engage the Iranian regime

punditman says...
This is something Punditman has been saying for quite sometime: some of the very same people who are pretending to stand up for the Iranian protestors are often the same ones who would not want to take them in as political refugees and who would be the first to support initiating war against them. In other words, the very people they are pretending to defend are the ones that would be killed. Can you say hypocrites? Punditman can.

Given the unprecedented events of the last two weeks, what lies ahead for Iran – domestically and internationally?

Let's begin with ourselves. How many Iranian refugees are we willing to accept in Canada? After the 1956 Hungarian uprising, Canada took in 37,000 refugees. After the 1968 Prague spring, we took in 12,000. On a proportionate basis, we'd be taking between 78,000 and 240,000 Iranians.

How many hands do I see raised?

Keep Reading...

Devolution: 20 Predictions

Peacenik has posted a lot about societal collapse. And Peacenik has thought a lot about societal collapse. But Peacenik has had a hard time visualizing what societal collapse will look like.

Charles Hugh Smith in this post, posits a possible and plausible scenario. But Charles Hugh Smith sees a fairly benign response from the sheeple as their standard of living disappears. The sheeple have shown a great tolerance for the race to the bottom, many cheering it on as they themselves get sucked to the bottom. Devolution or revolution? Passive or violent? Peacenik still thinks it will be a revolution. And a violent one.

Devolution: 20 Predictions

As cities, counties and states default on their obligations and unemployment insurance runs out, devolution sets in.

While some see a collapse of society in our future, right now I see devolution, not revolution. Devolution is both the process of degeneration and the surrender of governmental powers from central authorities to local authorities.

Devolution will take many forms. The key driver behind devolution is simple: there's not enough money to fund the status quo, so something has to be cut, axed, trimmed or devolved. Examples already abound: the number of school days in the year are reduced to shave expenses, two-times-a-week trash pickup is cut to once a week, etc.

The key constraint on devolution is also simple: the status quo power structure must be left intact. Nobody will willingly surrender their power, so devolution means services and front-end expenses will be cut in order to protect back-end administrative powers.

Read on...


On Iran and the Media Double Standard

punditman says...

It is time for Punditman to weigh in on the Iranian election. First, there's always a reason to recount votes in all countries wherever discrepancies exist; that way votes actually count and the correct people get elected to represent the correct regions. And there are irregularities all over the world. Just ask Jimmy Carter. However, as Esam Al-Amin points out, in the Counterpunch piece, A Hard Look at the Numbers: What Actually Happened in the Iranian Presidential Election?, since 1980, Iran
...has conducted over thirty elections nationwide. Indeed, a tradition of election orderliness has been established, much like election precincts in the U.S. or boroughs in the U.K. The elections in Iran are organized, monitored and counted by teachers and professionals including civil servants and retirees (again much like the U.S.)

There has not been a tradition of election fraud in Iran. Say what you will about the system of the Islamic Republic, but its elected legislators have impeached ministers and “borked” nominees of several Presidents, including Ahmadinejad. Rubberstamps, they are not. In fact, former President Mohammad Khatami, considered one of the leading reformists in Iran, was elected president by the people, when the interior ministry was run by archconservatives. He won with over 70 percent of the vote, not once, but twice.

When it comes to elections, the real problem in Iran is not fraud but candidates’ access to the ballots (a problem not unique to the country, just ask Ralph Nader or any other third party candidate in the U.S.) It is highly unlikely that there was a huge conspiracy involving tens of thousands of teachers, professionals and civil servants that somehow remained totally hidden and unexposed.
Ask yourself: do we hear about these facts in our corporate media? Instead, it is all but assumed that the Iranian election was a fraud because Ahmadinejad is a thug and a buffoon who says nasty things about Israel. Oh, and the Iran nuclear question, including all the misinformation, covered extensively here at punditman. But imagine if things were reversed: if Ahmedinejad had lost and his supporters were out in the streets crying foul, what would be the reaction? Western governments and media, led by the US, would be saying the election was fair and would be calling Ahmedinejad a bratty loser. You better believe it.

On Monday, Iran's top electoral body, said in a rare acknowledgement that it found voting irregularities in 50 of 170 districts, including vote counts that exceeded the number of eligible voters but that the discrepancies, involving 3 million votes were not widespread enough to affect the outcome. Who knows? Punditman would not be surprised if hard evidence emerges of deliberate attempts to steal an election (echoes of the US in both 2000, and 2004). But he awaits proof.

Meanwhile, the Ahmedinejad forces claim Western interference. Writer and commentator Paul Craig Roberts agrees, which by the way does not make him a mullah-lover. Others on the anti-interventionist left and right disagree. Of interest here is the way Western corporate media covers that particular question because it involves avoiding or barely mentioning a history of unpleasant truths, thus eliminating the context in which the accusation is made. These include the CIA's overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh who had the nerve to stand up for his country's interests and nationalize the Iranian oil industry much to the displeasure of the US and Britain. The coup installed the Shaw who then ruled for 25 years in an increasingly brutal fashion, which in turn, led to Islamic revolution in 1979 and rule by fanatically anti-Western clerics. The rest is the recent history of US-Iranian relations, beginning with the hostage crisis and leading up the fact that the US is currently investing millions of dollars trying to destabilize Iran's government. Does this include interference in Iran's electoral process? It is hard to know but easy to presume.

What we mostly hear about right now is how bad the Iranian police and security forces are when faced with peaceful demonstrators—and they are no doubt a murderous bunch. But a rhetorical question is in order: are none of the demonstrators rock throwing rioters?—which of course does not mean they deserve to be killed or tortured in custody. Nobody does. But consider the reaction here when some people set fires in the streets and throw rocks at police. Do the media sympathize with them or consider them hooligans?

Undoubtedly, many millions of courageous Iranians would like nothing better than to overthrow this corrupt and brutal regime. But clearly there is a division amongst the population. Interestingly, when some people riot in this part of the world (as part of mainly peaceful demonstrations), the police are almost always portrayed as restrained, yet forced to go after bad apple anarchists. So they shoot rubber bullets and teargas into large crowds and use tasers to squelch free speech as they infiltrate crowds as agent provocateurs. Imagine what would have happened if millions of Americans had taken to the streets in 2000 not just to challenge the legitimacy of the Florida vote but to demand regime change in Washington? Or in 2004, where the crucial Ohio vote was widely reported to have been tampered with? Punditman says you better believe there would have been blood in the streets.

Punditman listened to a CBC radio interview the other morning conducted by Anna Maria Tremonti, with Queen Farah Pahlavi, widow of the Shaw of Iran. She talked about the good old days when her husband was in power and portrayed dissent against her husband's rule as being entirely the work of the clergy and fundamentalists even though anti-Shaw unity involved a plurality of forces. The blatant lie went uncontested; nor was there any mention of her husband's horrific human rights record or his crackdown on dissent. It was like he was fine fella until the wingnuts took over. Punditman was disappointed with the interview.

Punditman doesn't presume to know exactly what happened with Iran's election and neither should anyone else. Not at this point. But that doesn't stop the propagandists and laptop regime changers who inhabit our media, governments, think tanks and blogosphere.

All power to the Iranian people.

Public trashes strikers

Peacenik saw this jarring headline screaming from The Star newsboxes as Peacenik walked up University Avenue this morning. Yes 30 years of republican and conservative propaganda has really done wonders for society. It has brought society to a state of collapse and the public doesn't care. 30 years of anti-union, anti-worker, anti-healthcare, anti-pension, anti-community, anti-social propaganda has brought society to its knees.

Watch the oleaginous mouthpieces on tv trashing the unions. And remember this. The collapse has/is occurring. When you are in a disaster perception is distorted. Everything moves in slow motion. Much of society doesn't even realize, yet, that it is in a state of collapse. So just when society needs unions, it continues to vote for stuff like poor working conditions, no consumer protection, no universal health care, no pension reform, and no community action. Peacenik says good for the unions. Ah....the sweet smell of worker solidarity....garbage.

Nick Aveling
Staff Reporter

This is all the union's fault. Scrap the sick-bank system. End the strike.

The feeling among GTA residents is clear, according to an Angus Reid poll conducted for the Toronto Star. More than three in four, 76 per cent, oppose the strike. More than two-thirds, 71 per cent, think CUPE should drop demands for an agreement that allows workers to bank 18 sick days a year. And an overwhelming 81 per cent favour provincial back-to-work legislation.

Toronto is on Day 3 of a strike by 30,000 city workers.

Read on...



punditman says...Considering what is happening in Iran and all the kerfuffle
about the Iranian elections, the least that some of you wankers could do is VOTE in the flippin' punditman poll at the top of the page! That way punditman and peacenik can get a pulse from all of you as to where yer heads are at. Who knows, this could lead to a new blog or even a band called WHEREYERHEADSAREAT. Or both. Or neither. But since most of you trolls don't even bother to vote, much less take the time to make a freakin' comment on the many, many interesting posts contained herein, then punditman just may conclude that choice #4. What future? The sky is falling, Punditan! ...is how you all feel.

After all, as I write this, at least half the votes (7 out of 14!), are leaning in that direction already. Egads! If true, that would be really freakin' sad. Sad indeed. Or you are just messing with punditman's head.

On the other hand, if this is the way the wind is blowing, punditman says there is not much point in continuing this blog. After all, updating the punditman blog can take up to two mens' half days. Surely punditman's time can be put to better use? Like handing out Socialist Loafer or, if a Mad Max future is on the way (or even really grumpy Max), then becoming a survivalist or whatever it is that peacenik does on his weekend soirees up north* may be more prudent ways to spend punditman's time.

Some of you have voted, but our traffic stats indicate a much wider readership than just JohnnyAnon. So just vote on the damn question about how you feel about the future. Your future. Our future. You will feel better. Then think about stuff and comment once in awhile. We are not always right. We don't have all the answers. I think.

* this may include training for peacenik's militia.

California Collapsing

Peacenik has posted about the California situation before. It was bad then. It is worse now. And remember California is the future.

Peacenik tries to figure out why Ontario should be any different from California. Ontario's manufacturing is going the way of the dodo bird. Real estate is over priced. The TSX plunged almost 500 points yesterday. Unemployment is soaring. Pension plans are failing. Why should Ontario be any better off than California? Peacenik says it isn't. Cash out, Cash in, and prepare for collapse.

by Martin D. Weiss, Ph.D. 06-22-09

Washington and Wall Street seem to be treating California as if it were a sideshow in the financial circus of these turbulent times.

It’s not.

California is home to the largest manufacturing belt in the United States and to Silicon Valley, the nation’s largest high-tech center.

California is America’s most populous state with 38 million people. Its GDP of $1.8 trillion is the largest in the U.S. Its economy is bigger than those of Russia, Brazil, Canada, or India.
California's Mortgage Nightmare

And it’s collapsing.

Major California counties are ground zero in the continuing mortgage meltdown:

Read on...

Iraq: The final countdown

Peacenik thought this report by Patrick Cockburn was kind of benign. It documents the travails and travesties of the Iraq war but there doesn't seem to be a sense of outrage. Sort of, "oh well, that's done, on to the next adventure." Peacenik doesn't have the same sense that things are 'winding down".

What about all the war crimes, past present and future. And whose responsibility is it to help Iraq achieve some sort of functionality? Peacenik thinks any U.S. person in Iraq, or British, won't be feeling comfortable for a very long time. Peacenik doubts that the Sunnis won't be settling scores for a very long time. And Peacenik says again: Prosecute the war criminals.

Next week, US troops will begin to pull out of Iraq. Where does that leave the country's people, who are still reeling from decades of war? In Baghdad, Patrick Cockburn finds a nation facing drought, sectarian conflict and the scramble for oil riches.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

On 30 June the last US troops will pull out of the Iraqi cities. America's great adventure in Iraq is ending. Already there are few US military patrols in Baghdad. The American-held area of the Green Zone, for long a forbidden city in the middle of the capital, has been squeezed in size. The hotel that Baghdad taxi drivers fondly believed was the headquarters of the CIA has removed the concrete wall protecting it and reopened for public business. The knowledge that all US military forces will be out of Iraq by the end of 2011 immediately reduces American influence in Iraq. No Iraqi wants to nail his flag to the mast of a departing ship, which is one reason why Washington for so long resisted setting a timetable for a US troop withdrawal.

Read on...


Neocons Are Clueless About Iran

Peacenik hoped that by the time Peacenik got back from the wilderness Iran would have a new regime. But the situation is still muddled. The protests continue. And Peacenik continues to think there is a chance there will be a positive outcome. A new regime.

Peacenik sees Punditman has a new poll. Before Peacenik's trip to the wilderness Peacenik probably would have selected number two. Peacenik was feeling upbeat. But Peacenik discovered something frightening while Peacenik was harvesting mushrooms and leeks. The bottom of the food chain has disappeared. That's right there were no mosquitoes in the wilderness. Peacenik has rarely sensed a more ominous development. Peacenik never used to worry about the food chain. Now Peacenik is very worried and it feels this morning like number 4 is the only choice for Peacenik in Punditman's poll.

By Leslie Savan, The Nation. Posted June 22, 2009.

The Iran protests have thrown Republican ideologues into such a tizzy of circular logic that they're stepping on their own propaganda.

The democracy movement in Iran has thrown Republican ideologues into such a tizzy of circular logic that they're stepping on their own dicta.

Neocons and hardliners may be as eager as ever to bomb-bomb-bomb, bomb bomb Iran, but are restrained this time out by the feeling that they must support Iran's courageous protesters. After all, the Twittering Green Revolutionaries, as the rightwing brain sees it, are marching in the name of George W. Bush's own vision of a "democratic Middle East," the same vision that led him to occupy Iran's next-door neighbor. ("That's not meddling at all," says conservative conventional wisdom poobah Fred Barnes. "That's supporting the people who see America as a model that they like to emulate.") Yet at the same time, the GOP worries about the meaning of an eventual Mousavi victory in the streets -- neocons in particular have openly hoped for Ahmadinejad's survival, for fear that a more reasonable face on the Islamic Revolution might preclude future opportunities for either us or Israel to bomb Iran back to the 7th Century (where Ahmadinejad would like to take his country anyway).

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The War Between Civilizations That Never Was

punditman says...Here is a sane analysis of the historical dynamics of conflict and complexity between the West and Islam. The point is made that the war of religion thesis as sold by reactionary elements on both sides is simply wrong. Try explaining this to your average ill-informed lazy-minded person and watch as one of two things happens: 1) their eyes glaze over as they mentally switch off; 2) they foam at the mouth and call for nuking of the entire middle east. Believe itthese folks are everywhere.

By William Pfaff

PARIS — An important change is evident in what since Samuel Huntington’s time has been mistakenly identified and manipulated as a war between Muslim and Western civilizations.

I say mistakenly for several reasons, one of them being that Professor Huntington himself actually foresaw a war in which an alliance of Muslim and Chinese civilizations attacked the West, in an exaggerated cold war scenario. (The Chinese are now on the American side, where much of their fortune is tied up).

I say manipulatively because the Huntington thesis served the purpose of those Americans who believed in the inevitability of conflict with Islam as a whole — not just with individual states.

This was because 9/11 was not taken in the U.S. as an attack by a state, but as the action of a whole society "that hates Americans for their freedoms." Islamic radicalism was not understood as a politico-nationalist reaction to foreign intrusion, composed of collective Arab enmity toward Israel because of its creation on Arab territory, and fear of a Western strategic threat to the region’s strategic resources.

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June 17, 2009: 40 ways to lose your future

Peacenik wasn't going to take any recreational reading into the wilderness because Peacenik is going to be busy cutting firewood, harvesting leeks, picking mushrooms, and fishing. But this list from Stoneleigh is something that Peacenik can ponder while the mushrooms cook over an open fire. This is something everyone can ponder. If only some of Stoneliegh's 40 points are valid it is very bad news. Have a good weekend.

Stoneleigh: People have been asking how we see the future unfold. In case you wonder what we stand for, much of our view of what's to come can be found in the primers on the right-hand side bar. Here is an additional brief summary (in no particular order and not meant to be exhaustive) of the ground we have consistently covered here at TAE over the last year and a half, and before that elsewhere.

  1. Deflation is inevitable due to Ponzi dynamics (see From the Top of the Great Pyramid)
  2. The collapse of credit will crash the money supply as credit is the vast majority of the effective money supply
  3. Cash will be king for a long time
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Shame: The ‘Antiwar’ Democrats Who Sold Out

punditman says...This reminds punditman of an interview he once heard with Noam Chomsky, in which he said that in the 1960's, he often voted for the local Republican candidate who was against the Vietnam War. Shocking? Not at all. The Democratic Party as a whole is just as pro war as the Republicans. The Canadian Liberals are just as pro war as their Conservative counterparts, Britain's Labour Party is just as pro war as...do you catch punditman's drift? Yes, there are differences in style, but the substance is largely the same. So for those who mistakenly thought the Democrats were antiwar and would abruptly change course from the Bush administration when it comes to foreign policy, military spending, intervention, read on.

In a vote that should go down in recent histories as a day of shame for the Democrats, on Tuesday the House voted to approve another $106 billion dollars for the bloody wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (and increasingly Pakistan). To put a fine point on the interconnection of the iron fist of U.S. militarism and the hidden hand of free market neoliberal economics, the bill included a massive initiative to give the International Monetary Fund billions more in U.S. taxpayer funds.

What once Democrats could argue was "Bush’s war," they now officially own. In fact, only five Republicans voted for the supplemental (though overwhelmingly not on the issue of the war funding). Ron Paul, who made clear he was voting against the war, was a notable exception.

This vote has revealed a sobering statistic for the anti-war movement in this country and brought to the surface a broader issue that should give die-hard partisan Democrats who purport to be anti-war reason for serious pause about the actual state of their party. Only 30 Democrats voted against the war funding when it mattered. And these 30 did so in the face of significant threats to their political future from the White House and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. That means that only 30 out of 256 Democrats are willing to stand up to the war and the current president presiding over it. Their names are listed below; I would encourage people to call them and thank them for standing up and voting no when it counted.

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Iran Updates (VIDEO): Live-Blogging The Uprising

Peacenik thought Peacenik should post something up-to-date about the situation in Iran. Like what is happening right now. And Peacenik discovered it is hard to know what is happening right now. The New York Times stories datelined June 18 are really about what happened yesterday. Likewise some blogs seem to be behind the news curve. This analysis from Nation magazine could already be superceded by events.

Peacenik wonders if the protests will lead to regime change, or will the protests dwindle away. A revolutionary spark seems to have been ignited in Iran. Peacenik also wonders what would happen if Obama reached out to the protesters. Encouraged them. And Peacenik will continue to wonder because Peacenik is heading north into an information blackout. Peacenik hopes that when Peacenik fires up Peacenik's computer on Sunday there will be a new regime in Iran.

Iran Updates (VIDEO): Live-Blogging The Uprising

I'm liveblogging the latest Iran election fallout. Email me with any news or thoughts, scroll down for news related to the headlines on the front page.

1:56 AM ET -- Gruesome details from the Tehran University attacks emerge. The Wall Street Journal continues its stellar coverage:

At the same time, Iran's Interior Ministry ordered a probe into an attack late Sunday night on Tehran University students in a dormitory reported to have left several students dead and many more injured or arrested. Students say it was carried out by Islamic militia and police. Iran's English-language Press TV said the ministry urged Tehran's governor's office to identify those involved. Iran's influential speaker of parliament, Ali Larijani, condemned the attack.

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Why U.S. Neocons Want Ahmadinejad to Win

Peacenik doesn't need any reminders to remind Peacenik that the world is crazy. But this article hits the nail on the head. We live in a world were everyone seems to need someone to hate and fear. And it all plays out to control the sheeple. Boogey men are everywhere. And of course the disgusting main stream media is as sucked into this mindset as anyone.

Just as an exercise, try to imagine a news free environment. Peacenik needs a trip to the wilderness.

By Stephen Zunes, AlterNet. Posted June 17, 2009.

American conservatives and Iranian hard-liners need each other.

The only people happier than the Iranian elites over Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's apparently stolen election win Friday, were the neoconservatives and other hawks eager to block any efforts by the Obama administration to moderate U.S. policy toward the Islamic republic.

Since he was elected president in 2005, Ahmadinejad has filled a certain niche in the American psyche formerly filled by the likes of Saddam Hussein and Muammar Qaddafi as the Middle Eastern leader we most love to hate. It gives us a sense of righteous superiority to compare ourselves favorably to these seemingly irrational and fanatical foreign despots.

Better yet, if these despots can be inflated into far greater threats than they actually are, these supposed threats can be used to justify the enormous financial and human costs of maintaining American armed forces in that volatile region to protect ourselves and our allies, and even to make war against far-off nations in "self-defense."

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Bracing for New Protests, Iran Issues Media Warning

Does anyone think that world governments aren't watching and taking notes about how the Iranian protests play out. The Internet and cell phones are playing a huge role in keeping the protests going.

Peacenik thinks this bodes very badly for the future of an open Internet. Twitter has become a revolutionary tool. As has texting. Controlling and shutting down Twitter and texting will be part of supressing the protests. How free is the Internet? How easy would it be to shut it down? How secure is it? Peacenik thinks the days of access to things like Twitter and texting may be numbered. And not just in Iran. Peacenik is reading up on smoke signals and carrier pigeons.

Bracing for New Protests, Iran Issues Media Warning

Published: June 17, 2009

TEHRAN — In face of a growing official campaign to disrupt channels of dissent with arrests and restrictions, Tehran braced for a third day of defiance by opposition supporters on Wednesday after Iran’s leaders failed to halt huge demonstrations against last week’s disputed election results.

Placed on the defensive by the biggest demonstrations since the Islamic revolution in 1979, the authorities on Tuesday offered a concession to the sustained rage here, saying they would allow a limited recount of the vote — an offer that was resoundingly rejected.

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Iran Agrees to Partial Recount of Disputed Ballots

The Iranian election is a huge story. In the U.S. when an election was stolen the main stream media fell in line and the sheeple shrugged. In Iran the people are risking their lives to protest a million strong.

Are the protesters pro-western? Or do they simply want an honest election? Peacenik thinks there is a glimmer of hope here that the hardliners in Iran may lose something, maybe even some power. Certainly some of their authority. But the chance of a hard crackdown also exists. Peacenik thinks the battles on the streets of Iran foretells the future of corrupt governments everywhere. Even in the West.

Iran Agrees to Partial Recount of Disputed Ballots

by Nazila Fathi and Alan Cowell

TEHRAN - Thousands of people began massing in the streets here again on Tuesday to protest Iran's disputed presidential election, increasing tensions a day after clashes left at least seven people dead during the largest antigovernment demonstration since the Iranian revolution.

But in answer to the supreme leader's turnabout call for an examination of opposition charges of vote-rigging, the country's powerful Guardian Council said Tuesday it was prepared to order only a partial recount, and it ruled out an annulment of the vote, according to state television and news reports.

The concession was rejected by the main opposition candidate, Mir Hussein Moussavi, and other opponents of the declared winner, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The opponents demand that a new election be held.

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Part deux

Yes, as Peacenik drives, and walks, and jogs, and bikes around the streets of Guelph, Peacenik sees lots of sold signs on houses. Some houses seem to sell very fast. Is the real estate market in Guelph in good health? At a glance it appears to be. But what happens to all the happy homeowners when interest rates go up a percent or two? What happens if a two spouse income becomes a one spouse income? What happens when its time to renew your mortgage?

Garth think a new bubble is being pumped up. No document loans. 100% financing. The government is so desperate to avoid reality that they are encouraging the same reckless behaviour that got us to the edge of the finanical abyss. How are all the out of work auto supply employees, and out of work Chrysler and GM employees paying their mortgages? With unemployment insurance? With credit cards? Peacenik says this housing bubble is leaking air....at a terminal rate. phzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Part deux

by Garth Turner

Is this blog a fraud? A brave anonymous poster suggested as much a day or two ago. People were “duped” into coming, he said, expecting the dirt on a real estate crash that never came. Obviously the guy is a wannabe vulture, hot to pick on the bones of the previous greater fool.

So, what happened to the bust?

The latest realtor numbers, trumpeted from its deathbed by the MSM, are sizzling. May prices hit the highest point in history – an average of $319,700, which means prices have rebounded by 16% in the last five months. Of course, the average number is inflated by sales activity in some of the country’s pricier markets, including a big condo dump in the Lower Mainland. A more meaningful median price was not provided.

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Claims of student massacre in Tehran spread

punditman says...Post-election Iran: chaos, rioting, repression, instability, complexity. Thankfully, award-winnning journalist Robert Fisk always manages to be where the action is in the middle east. He points out that half of Iran's population is under 25 and 60 per cent of Iran's women have higher education and that much of the agitation for reform in Iran lately has been coming from youth and women.

Is this rigged election the spark that will create another Iranian revolution?
Millions are demonstrating against a fraudulent election. Yesterday Punditman made a comment that these are the very people that an Israel/US attack would be killing. This is a story that continues to unfold.

By Robert Fisk

Tehran University looked as calm as any summer campus. So much for the latest rumours of a bloodbath. Another piece of Iranian fiction, served up on YouTube. Scarved female students were moving through the university's great black iron gates. I asked my driver, Ali, to drop me off at the corner so I could prowl the college bookshops on Engelob Street, I was looking for a volume of modern Persian poetry for a friend. I did not at first hear the man at the cash desk, motioning out the door.

I peered out. The gates of the university were now shut. Behind them was a crowd of hundreds of young men and women, many wearing scarves over their mouths. I crossed the road. And the banners behind those forbidding gates told a frightening story. "Today is a day of mourning," one of them read. "Dignified students are mourners today." "Police, shame on you, shame on you." "Tell my mother – she doesn't have a son any more."

I walked up to the gate. Young female students were crying. So were some of the young men. "We don't want a government by coup," another poster read. "Tehran University dormitory has been coloured with students' blood," another said.

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Juan Cole: Iran Election Numbers Don't Add Up

Peacenik thinks there was something wrong with the Iranian election. But Peacnik also wonders why the U.S. media and the world media has already given more coverage to the flawed Iranian election than they gave to the recent flawed U.S. elections. The neo cons couldn't be happier. Nor could Israel. More reasons to demonize Iran. More reasons to justify an attack on Iran. Its a beautiful sunny, warm Monday morning. Peacenik doesn't want to think about Iran. Peacenik wants to enjoy the day. Instead Peacenik is checking his supplies, and looking for deals on duct tape and jerry cans.

Posted by Juan Cole, Informed Comment at 10:00 AM on June 14, 2009.

It looks like the election was stolen.

Top Pieces of Evidence that the Iranian Presidential Election Was Stolen

1. It is claimed that Ahmadinejad won the city of Tabriz with 57%. His main opponent, Mir Hossein Mousavi, is an Azeri from Azerbaijan province, of which Tabriz is the capital. Mousavi, according to such polls as exist in Iran and widespread anecdotal evidence, did better in cities and is popular in Azerbaijan. Certainly, his rallies there were very well attended. So for an Azeri urban center to go so heavily for Ahmadinejad just makes no sense. In past elections, Azeris voted disproportionately for even minor presidential candidates who hailed from that province.

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Should the US also Suppress Evidence of Civilian Deaths in Afghanistan?

The simple truth is the "allied forces" in Afghanistan don't care who they kill, or how many they kill. Watch the embedded video. Lieberman and Graham have been front and centre on the tv defending neo con policies, actions and consequences for more than a decade. Peacenik first heard of Lieberman when he criticized Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinski. WOW. Peacenik knows how these hypocrits keep getting elected, but Peacenik still can't believe it. Has anything changed? Did a Democrat get elected President? Do Democrats control both houses of congress? And lets not forget Canada's unfortunate role. How many Afghani "citizens" have been killed by Canadian troops? Peacenik says its time to exit Afghanistan. Bring the troops home now.

by Glenn Greenwald

Something that has happened repeatedly in Afghanistan over the last eight years happened yet again this week:

After U.S. Strike, Dispute Over Afghan Deaths

KABUL, Afghanistan - Sharply conflicting reports on an American airstrike this week continued to trickle out Friday from American military and Afghan officials as to whether the attack killed civilians.

The airstrike in Ghor Province in western Afghanistan Tuesday had targeted a local Taliban militant, Mullah Mustafa, but instead killed 10 civilians and 12 insurgents, according to Sayed Iqbal Munib, the governor of Ghor Province.

But American officials Friday said the strike killed up to 16 militants and no civilians.

I obviously don't know what the truth is about this latest incident, but let's assume just for the sake of argument that -- as has been true so many times before -- it is the claim of local Afghan officials, rather than the U.S. military, that is accurate, and Afghan civilians, once again, really were killed by our airstrike.

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Obama’s Wrong Turn on Detention

punditman says...Obama has proposed some changes to the Guantánamo detainee situation. But some criminal trials along with some kinder, gentler military commision trials, along with continuing the Bush/Cheney policy of imprisonment-without-trial (within the confines of the US instead of Guantánamo Bay, for what that's worth ), are not exactly the sort of reversals of the Bush disasters that those who voted for him wanted. I think. Then again, how many Obama fans look past his nice sounding speeches? Punditman tries to. Peacenik tries to. Do you?

By Robyn Blumner

As he was taking leave of Louis XIV, the French commander Marechal Villars is believed to have said: "Defend me from my friends; I can defend myself from my enemies." This is how I feel right now about President Barack Obama. As Obama tries to clean up the Bush administration mess surrounding the terror suspects housed in Guantánamo, he is flirting with cementing in law some of the worst excesses of the Bush/Cheney regime.

The thought of this makes me weep into my Yes We Can coffee mug.

The betrayal came in Obama’s speech last month at the National Archives, generally a superb speech that reaffirmed his understanding that the Constitution and Bill of Rights contain our "most cherished values" and must never be set aside "for expedience’s sake."

Then he set about explaining why he plans to set them aside for expedience’s sake.

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Peacenik has been writing about the black hole of debt for a while. Trillions upon trillions of dollars of debt that has to be dealt with. It can't be forgiven. It can't be forgotten. It can't be ignored. But that's what our leaders are doing. Why are governments and corporations and banks and Wall Street ignoring their debt? Because they have no solution....other than going further into debt. Can you ignore your debt? Peacenik can't ignore Peacenik's.

June 10 2009: One simple four letter word.

Ilargi: You can talk about the economy till you’re blue in the face, make a case for or against a possible recovery, bottoms and tops, green shoots, yellow weeds, whatever tickles your fancy and your preferred belief system. And you're sure to find at least a few handfuls of kindred souls and spirits while you’re at it. After all, with worsening data continuing to spout from the real economy, the one that pays your salary if you still have one, which pays your mortgage if you still have one and so on, while stock markets seem to be going up, there is enough confusion to go around for everyone.

But in the end, when all the convincing sounding arguments have been made in the heated discussions that fill hour after hour of street corners, TV screens, worried kitchen tables, barrooms and bordellos, day after confusing day, it all comes down to one simple four letter word. Debt.

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Lethality of H1N1 Influenza Virus Increasing According to Latest Analysis of Virus Peptide Genomic Data

My,my,my. What will be the consequences of WHO declaring a pandemic later today? Peacenik and many informed scientists have been calling it a pandemic for a while. And the lethality is apparently going up. Will you change your plans because of a swine flu pandemic? If you are travelling, do you have out-of-country health insurance? Can the world economy withstand the economic impact of a pandemic? Can someone make an effective vaccine? Will you take the vaccine? Peacenik says it is time to start really thinking seriously about the swine flu. And getting prepared. And hoping that is burns itself out. Soon.
Check out www.fluwikie.com.

Update: Here is a good link to a pandemic family preparedness site.

Lethality of H1N1 Influenza Virus Increasing According to Latest Analysis of Virus Peptide Genomic Data

Boston Biotech Firm Reports First Rise in 76 Years of Replikin Count* of H1N1 Lethality Gene

BOSTON, June 10 /PRNewswire/ -- An analysis of the latest peptide genomic data for the H1N1 influenza virus indicates that the current global outbreak of H1N1 is increasing in its capacity for lethality. The new sequence data on PubMed of the past two weeks through June 10, 2009 showed an increase in the Replikin Count* of the Replikin Lethality Gene in the pB1 genomic area from a mean of 2+/-0.2 in 2008 to a mean of 3.2+/-3.7 in 2009 (p<0.001).

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End badly

Peacenik is reading more and more articles that suggest the papering over of financial problems isn't working. Long term interest rates are rising. The price of oil is going up. The value of the U.S.dollar is falling, and as it falls the Canadian dollar approaches parity.

The consequences are confusing. Charles Hugh Smith has a nice readable article about interest rates going up and what might happen. Mish has something about the mortgage market freezing up. And Garth Turner's article below adds some local flavour. Peacenik guesses that the price of oil going up might goose the TSE, and strengthen the Canadian dollar. But it is all bad for the economy, which seems to Peacenik to be in some kind of death spiral. Even Canada's forest industry, a backbone of the economy, needs a billion dollar bailout. Is there any private sector economy left?

End Badly

by Garth Turner

Some days ago, I made three predictions. In a year…

* The prime rate will have doubled.
* Oil will be $100 a barrel.
* The dollar will be at par.

Since then, mortgage rates jumped for the second time in as many weeks. A lot, actually. Sixth-tenths of a point in a few days, taking a five-year closed term to 5.85%.

Oil closed Wednesday in excess of $71 US. This means the black stuff has risen 100% in price in the last three months. If these were normal times, that would be shocking and consequential news – especially since gas will again be $1 a litre in a few days.

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Fear Rules

punditman says...Don't succumb to the fear. So now Haliiburton is building detention centers in Florida with no one there and no signs? Punditman is emailing someone he knows in Tallahassee...

Who Spent All That Money For What?

The power of irrational fear in the US is extraordinary. It ranks up there with the Israel Lobby, the military/security complex, and the financial gangsters. Indeed, fear might be the most powerful force in America.

Americans are at ease with their country’s aggression against Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan, which has resulted in a million dead Muslim civilians and several million refugees, because the US government has filled Americans with fear of terrorists. “We have to kill them over there before they come over here.”

Fearful of American citizens, the US government is building concentration camps, apparently all over the country. According to news reports, a $385 million US government contract was given by the Bush/Cheney Regime to Cheney’s company, Halliburton, to build “detention centers” in the US. The corporate media never explained for whom the detention centers are intended.

Most Americans dismiss such reports. “It can’t happen here.” However, In northeastern Florida not far from Tallahassee, I have seen what might be one of these camps. There is a building inside a huge open area fenced with razor wire. There is no one there and no signs. The facility appears new and unused and does not look like an abandoned prisoner work camp.

What is it for?

Who spent all that money for what?

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Taking a Stand Against Hypocrisy and Grandstanding

What in the hell is IGGY doing? The economy is going down the tubes. GM is nationalized. The Middle East already inflamed. Unemployment soaring. Deficits through the roof. And the Liberal party is sponsoring an Iran Accountabilty Act. And Irwin cotler is co-blogging with goof ball torture defender Alan Dershowitz. By the way, Irwin Cotler is special counsel on human rights and international justice to the Liberal Party and MP for Mount Royal.

Peacenik thought the West was going to reach out to Iran. But it looks like pandering to the neo-cons is more important. Canada passing an Iran Accountability Act, it is absurd. Crazy. Peacenik thinks grandstanding on the International Stage only leads to trouble. Like Canada's pointless intervention in Afghanistan. Bring the troops home now. Now, here is Dershowitz/Cotler goofball article:

Double Standard Watch: Taking a stand against Iran

by Alan Dershowitz and Irwin Cotler

Irwin Cotler, the former minister of justice and attorney general of Canada, member of Canadian parliament and co-author of this piece, is introducing legislation in Canadian parliament today called the "Iran Accountability Act." While it expressly holds Iran to account - for its genocidal threats, nuclear ambitions and domestic repressions - it can also function to hold any signatory to the Genocide Convention to account. All signatories to the 1948 Genocide Convention (including the United States) have a responsibility to prevent genocide - and to punish incitement to genocide - that they have largely ignored in the case of the world’s greatest threat. The IAA, while a Canadian initiative, is a template model as to how to fulfill these responsibilities and take a stand against Iranian criminal actions.

We were in Geneva when the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, stepped to the podium at the United Nations and delivered an address at a conference ostensibly aimed at fighting racism. With that speech - fettered with anti-Semitic comments and rooted in the very intolerance the Durban Review Conference was supposed to be combating, the whole delivered on the day of Holocaust remembrance in Geneva - the use and abuse of the United Nations reached a new, shameful low.

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Do You Really Think Arabs in the Middle East Clapped for Obama's Speech?

Right wing pundits and politicians hated Obama's Cairo speech. That may be the only reason to recommend it. Peacenik thought Obama would wind down the Iraqi occupation. Peacenik thought Obama would wind down the Afghanistan occupation. Peacenik thought Obama would close Guantanamo. Peacenik thought Obama would stop torture by U.S. soldiers and agents. Was Peacenik naive. Did Peacenik forget a question mark there? Peacenik thinks Peacenik was optimistic. Overly optimistic. Now, Peacenik thinks Obama is going to change very little. The US is stuck in the Middle East. Inertia. Imperialism. Pride. Oil. Foolishness.

Just like the US couldn't imagine the consequences of not being in Vietnam, the U.S. is incapable of imagining not being in the Middle East. But the day will come. The empire is collapsing. The empire has collaspsed. You know it. Peacenik knows it. Obama will know it.

By Chris Hedges, Truthdig. Posted June 9, 2009.

What do words of peace and cooperation mean from us when we torture -- yes, we still torture -- Muslims?

Did they play Barack Obama’s speech to the Muslim world in the prison corridors of Abu Ghraib, Bagram air base, Guantanamo or the dozens of secret sites where we hold thousands of Muslims around the world? Did it echo off the walls of the crowded morgues filled with the mutilated bodies of the Muslim dead in Baghdad or Kabul? Was it broadcast from the tops of minarets in the villages and towns decimated by U.S. iron fragmentation bombs? Was it heard in the squalid refugee camps of Gaza, where 1.5 million Palestinians live in the world’s largest ghetto?

What do words of peace and cooperation mean from us when we torture—yes, we still torture—only Muslims? What do these words mean when we sanction Israel’s brutal air assaults on Lebanon and Gaza, assaults that demolished thousands of homes and left hundreds dead and injured? How does it look for Obama to call for democracy and human rights from Egypt, where we lavishly fund and support the despotic regime of Hosni Mubarak, one of the longest-reigning dictators in the Middle East?

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Former White House Lawyer Tells Senate that “Indefinite Detention” Without Trial Is Occurring In Afghanistan and Iraq, As Well As Guantanamo

punditman says...If torture is mainstream, then the law is a joke and we all live in banana republics with kangaroo courts. Think I'll donate to Amnesty International.

Richard Klingler, a lawyer in the Office of White House Counsel under former president George W. Bush, told senators today:

The "debate on indefinite detention often wrongly focuses on Guantanamo Bay," arguing the practice is "considerably more widespread."

It is a practice Obama "will continue to pursue," in Afghanistan, Iraq, and at Guantanamo, and he noted they have already followed in the Bush administration's footsteps by defending it repeatedly in court, added Klingler.

The "wartime framework underlying [these tactics] have settled well within the mainstream of the American tradition," he said.
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Sarkozy’s Secret Plan for Mandatory Swine Flu Vaccination

punditman says...There are those who post or comment here or who read this blog who may disagree with Punditman on this one. There are those who may disagree with Punditman for even posting this article. That is fine. Punditman invites lively discussion about things for which nobody really has a definitive answer. The motto of this blog is to cut through fog, expose lies and help unravel the Media-Industrial-Military-Financial Complex. Punditman would like to add to that, the medical -pharmaceutical complex.

The article below questions the orthodoxy of Big Pharma, along with vaccinations of both animals and people and the recent panics surrounding Mad Cow, Bird Flu, and yes, Swine Flu. Is swine flu really a pandemic? Punditman says No. Does Punditman think the author, F. William Engdahl, is a nutbar? No reason to think so. Are mandatory vaccinations a good idea? Are they safe? What do you think? Punditman doesn't feel safe.

by F. William Engdahl

The French Government is developing secret plans to impose mandatory vaccination of the entire French population, allegedly against possible Swine Flu disease according to reports leaked in a French newspaper. The plan is without precedent and even defies recommended public health advice. Pharmaceutical giants benefit from the move, as the Swine Flu increases the trend towards the militarization of public health and use of needless population panic to advance the agenda.

According to a report in the May 30 edition of the French newspaper, Le Journal du Dimanche, the Sarkozy government has authorized spending of an estimated €1 billion to buy vaccines allegedly to combat or protect against H1N1 Swine Flu virus. The only problem is that to date neither the WHO nor the US Government’s Center for Diseases Control (CDC) have succeeded to isolate, photograph with an electron microscope and chemically classify the H1N1 Influenza A virus. There is no scientifically published evidence that French virologists have done so either. To mandate drugs for a putative disease that has not even been characterized is dubious to say the least.

Even more bizarre is the admission by the US Government’s Food & Drug Administration, an agency responsible for health and safety of its citizens, that the ‘test’ is approved for premature release to test for H1N1 is not even a proven test. More to the point, there is no forensic evidence in any of the deaths reported to date that has been presented that proves scientifically that any single death being attributed to H1N1 Swine Flu virus was indeed caused by such a virus. European epidemiologists believe the deaths reported to date are ‘coincidental’ or what are called opportunistic infections.

What we know conclusively is that the people who died often had prior respiratory complications of an undisclosed nature. People die every day with respiratory diseases. In the USA alone some 36,000 flu-related deaths are recorded yearly with no undue panic or alarm. Most are elderly or patients with lung diseases. To date in all France, 24 people have been identified by health authorities as even having ‘symptoms’ of H1N1. It is worth noting that the WHO and CDC list the symptoms of H1N1: temperature, coughing, headache, runny nose. Hmmmmm. Do you know anyone with such Swine Flu symptoms? Also worth noting is that in the counting of the more than 15,000 ‘confirmed’ H1N1 Swine Flu cases worldwide the vast majority made miraculous recovery within three to seven days, just as in the case of a bad cold.

The goal: Militarization of Public Health

Increasingly it is becoming clear that the successive waves of mass panic created in recent years by CDC, WHO and leading government agencies has an ulterior motive. We have been hit with mass panic over eating beef when cattle in the UK and elsewhere developed fatal illness that was called BSE or ‘Mad Cow’ disease. Later evidence emerged that BSE was the result of vaccination of the cows to kill harmless insects that got under the animal’s skin. More recently, after reports of incidence of what is called ‘Blue Tongue’ disease in cows, sheep and goats in Belgium and Holland in 2006, animal veterinary authorities in Germany, Switzerland and Austria imposed mandatory vaccination or treatment with drugs allegedly to protect the animals from bites by insects allegedly carrying the usually harmless illness.

Keep Reading...

The Top 6 Ways to Convert Poop Into Electricity

One of the problems that will occur if the Swine Flu pandemic, (that's right Peacenik is calling it a pandemic), takes a more deadly turn, is that people are going to be afraid to go to work. The people who maintain electric and water systems will stay home, and your poop will stay in your toilet.

Peacenik is interested in how to handle poop on a local level. Peacenik wonders if there is a consumer friendly device for turning poop into barbecue brickets. Peacenik seems to recall that in many countries cow or camel poop is used for fuel. Peacenik will need to think about this. How would Peacenik's neighbours feel if Peacenik starts barbecuing with poop for brickets? How would Peacenik feel?

By Josh Harkinson | Fri May 22, 2009 12:32 PM PST

More than half of the 15 trillion gallons of sewage Americans flush annually is processed into sludge that gets spread on farmland, lawns, and home vegetable gardens. In theory, recycling poop is the perfect solution to the one truly unavoidable byproduct of human civilization. But sludge-based as fertilizer can contain anything that goes down the drain—from Prozac flushed down toilets to motor oil hosed from factory floors. That's why an increasing number of cities have begun to explore an alternative way to dispose of sludge: advanced poop-to-power plants. By one estimate, a single American's daily sludge output can generate enough electricity to light a 60-watt bulb for more than nine hours. Here are the six most innovative ways that human waste is being converted to watts:

Poop-Eating Bacteria
Digesters similar to brewery casks house anaerobic bacteria that eat sludge and belch out methane. This technology is the oldest, cheapest, and most proven poop-to-power method. Even so, fewer than 10 percent of the nation's 6,000 public wastewater plants have the digesters; of those, just 20 percent burn the methane gas for energy (the rest simply flare it off). Flint, Michigan, and several other cities use the methane gas to fuel fleets of city buses. The problem with anaerobic digesters is that they only reduce sludge's volume by half and capture a portion of its embedded energy.

Read on...

June 8 2009: Not by a longshot

Yes there is a stock market rally going on right now....as you read. But like the mad dentist in Marathon Man, Peacenik wonders: Is it safe? Is it safe? Ilargi doesn't seem to think so in his article below. There was an interesting comment to one of Ilargi's recent posts. Is it safe to buy an annuity or should one cash out an RRSP and pay the tax. Stoneleigh's answer was to cash out the RRSP. Thats right. Rather than trust Sun Life or Manulife will still be in business 5 or 10 years down the road Stoneleigh was saying take the cash. Is it safe?

Leo Kolovakis at the blog Pension Pulse notes some of the green shoots in his post Full Steam Ahead. The Baltic Dry Index is going up. The OECD sees some improvement in the world's economy. The markets are up. Is it safe? What do you think? Peacenik doesn't feel safe.

Ilargi: The financial mess has now gotten to a point where Wall Street veterans are starting to speak out and question why the Obama administration does what it does, and how much longer it thinks it can continue doing it.

Sandy B. Lewis and William D. Cohan make clear in the New York Times that they have no confidence in the policies conducted so far, since they are based on deeply flawed assumptions about what is wrong in the first place, and the loudly promised and much touted transparency Obama couldn't stop talking about not so long ago is nowhere to be found. Lewis and Cohan pose a series of queries. They start off addressing the part the public has unwittingly been cast in:

Why is so much effort being put into propping up those at the top of the economic pyramid — the money-center banks, the insurance companies, the hedge funds and so forth — when during a period of deflation like the one we are in, any recovery will come only by restoring the confidence of the people down at the bottom of the pyramid?

Read on...


Voters steer Europe to the right

Stories like this one worry Peacenik. Neo-liberal, neo-conservative, right wing economic policies have created the world financial crisis. These economic policies were put in place by so-called socialist and liberal governments and in some cases conservative governments. So as everything comes crashing down, who benefits at the polls? Who do the people turn to to fix the problems? Right wing politicians.

Anti-immigration policies are finding support. Racist policies are finding support. Blaming the victims is finding support. Sarah Palin drew a crowd of 20,000 to a speech in New York over the weekend. Dick Cheney's daughter is all over the TV. Joe the Plumber is viewed as a legitimate leader of the right wing. Peacenik has said it before. There is no solution. But voting fascist is not going to help anything. Peacenik has shelf-loaded some supplies. Peacenik hopes Peacenik doesn't need to shelf-load ammo too.

Centre-right parties have done well in elections to the European Parliament at the expense of the left.

Far-right and anti-immigration parties also made gains, as turnout figures plunged to 43% - the lowest since direct elections began 30 years ago.

The UK Labour Party, Germany's Social Democrats and France's Socialist Party were heading for historic defeats.

The centre-right European People's Party (EPP) looks set to continue to hold power in the parliament.

Read on...

Clinton Threatens to Attack Iran ‘The Way That We Did’ Iraq

punditman says...Thanks Hilary. Is this the new beginning with the Muslim world that your boss Obama was calling for last week? Can someone tell punditman exactly what is going on inside the Obama cabinet when it comes to the middle east? Given the facts as they are known, any first strike on Iran would be based on lies, half-truths and distortions.

by Jason Ditz

Citing the disastrous 2003 US invasion of Iraq as an example, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today warned that by continuing to refuse to abandon its civilian nuclear program, Iran was risking the possibility of an invasion by the US or “some other enemy that would do that to them.”

The comments came during an interview on ABC’s “This Week” program, and when asked by interviewer and former Clinton-era official George Stephanopoulus, Secretary Clinton reiterated “that’s right, as a first strike.”

The bulk of the interview emphasized US opposition to the Iranian program, along with unquestioned claims that the nation was pursuing nuclear weapons. Secretary Clinton also extended the American nuclear umbrella over Israel in the event that Iran attacked them.

Considering it was no more than 72 hours ago that President Obama made his historic call for a “new beginning” to US relations with the Muslim world, it seems incredible that his administration is already raising the prospect of an Iraq-style invasion of Iran.

Already six years in, the Iraq occupation has killed thousands of US soldiers, sucked trillions from the American economy, and is stretching the military to its limits. It is unfathomable that with this war still far from over, the Obama Administration is considering an Iraq redux in its larger neighbor to the east.


The Electronic Police State

punditman says...What governments in the world are "the best" at electronic eavesdropping and violating their own citizens' basic rights to privacy? Punditman emailed the publishers of this worthy study (a downloadable pdf) for permission to publish it here. Hopefully these folks are who they claim to be. Punditman never heard back and is not sure why. So punditman is boldly presenting the document in full, with due thanks to www.cryptohippie.com. I think.
Have a non-surveilling weekend.

The Electronic Police State
2008 National Rankings

Most of us are aware that our governments monitor nearly every form of electronic communication. We are also aware of private companies doing the same. This strikes most of us as slightly troubling, but very few of us say or do much about it. There are two primary reasons for this:
1. We really don’t see how it is going to hurt us. Mass surveillance is certainly a new, odd, and perhaps an ominous thing, but we just don’t see a complete picture or a smoking gun.
2. We are constantly surrounded with messages that say, “Only crazy people complain about the government.”

However, the biggest obstacle to our understanding is this:
The usual image of a “police state” includes secret police dragging people out of their homes at night, with scenes out of Nazi Germany or Stalin’s USSR. The problem with these images is that they are horribly outdated. That’s how things worked during your grandfather’s war – that is not how things work now.

An electronic police state is quiet, even unseen. All of its legal actions are supported by abundant evidence. It looks pristine.

An electronic police state is characterized by this:
State use of electronic technologies to record, organize, search and distribute forensic evidence against its citizens.

The two crucial facts about the information gathered under an electronic police state are these:
1. It is criminal evidence, ready for use in a trial.
2. It is gathered universally and silently, and only later organized for
use in prosecutions.

In an Electronic Police State, every surveillance camera recording, every email you send, every Internet site you surf, every post you make, every check you write, every credit card swipe, every cell phone ping… are all criminal evidence, and they are held in searchable databases, for a long, long time. Whoever holds this evidence can make you look very, very bad whenever they care enough to do so. You can be prosecuted whenever they feel like it – the evidence is already in their database.

Perhaps you trust that your ruler will only use his evidence archives to hurt bad people. Will you also trust his successor? Do you also trust all of his subordinates, every government worker and every policeman?

And, if some leader behaves badly, will you really stand up to oppose him or her? Would you still do it if he had all the emails you sent when you were depressed? Or if she has records of every porn site you’ve ever surfed? Or if he knows every phone call you’ve ever made? Or if she knows everyone you’ve ever sent money to? Such a person would have all of this and more – in the form of court-ready evidence – sitting in a database, waiting to be organized at the touch of a button.

This system hasn’t yet reached its full shape, but all of the basics are in place and it is not far from complete in some places. It is too late to prevent this – it is here. Our purpose in producing this report is to let people know that their liberty is in jeopardy and to help them understand how it is being undermined.


Firstly, we are not measuring government censorship of Internet traffic or police abuses, as legitimate as these issues may be. And, we are not including evidence gathering by traditional, honest police work in any of the categories below. (That is, searches pursuant to honestly obtained warrants – issued by an independent judge, and only after the careful examination of evidence.)

The seventeen factors we included in these rankings are:

Daily Documents
Requirement of state-issued identity documents and registration.
Border Issues
Inspections at borders, searching computers, demanding decryption of data.
Financial Tracking
State’s ability to search and record all financial transactions: Checks, credit card use, wires, etc.
Gag Orders
Criminal penalties if you tell someone the state is searching their records.
Anti-Crypto Laws
Outlawing or restricting cryptography.
Constitutional Protection
A lack of constitutional protections for the individual, or the overriding of such protections.
Data Storage Ability
The ability of the state to store the data they gather.
Data Search Ability
The ability to search the data they gather.
ISP Data Retention
States forcing Internet Service Providers to save detailed records of all their customers’ Internet usage.
Telephone Data Retention
States forcing telephone companies to record and save records of all their customers’
telephone usage.
Cell Phone Records
States forcing cellular telephone companies to record and save records of all their
customers’ usage.
Medical records
States demanding records from all medical service providers and retaining the same.
Enforcement Ability
The state’s ability to use overwhelming force (exemplified by SWAT Teams) to seize
anyone they want, whenever they want.
Habeus Corpus
Lack of habeus corpus – the right not to be held in jail without prompt due process. Or, the overriding of such protections.
Police-Intel Barrier
The lack of a barrier between police organizations and intelligence organizations. Or, the overriding of such barriers.
Covert Hacking
State operatives removing – or adding! – digital evidence to/from private computers
covertly. Covert hacking can make anyone appear as any kind of criminal desired.
Loose Warrants
Warrants issued without careful examination of police statements and other justifications by a truly independent judge.

For each of these, we assigned a value of between 1 and 5. A value of 1 indicates minimal development of electronic police state abilities in that area. 5 indicates a full operation.


Our rankings for the year of 2008 show China and North Korea occupying the top spots as the most complete Electronic Police States in the world, followed by Belarus and Russia. Next, however, we leave communist and recently-communist states, with the UK (England/Wales), the United States and Singapore following closely on their heels.

We ranked 52 major states. The map below displays their rankings:

Nations depicted in Red are the most advanced electronic police states,
with an average rank of 3.0 or greater.

Nations depicted in Orange are strongly developing electronic police
states, with an average rank of 2.5 or greater.

Nations depicted in Yellow are lagging (but still developing) electronic
police states, with an average rank of 2.0 or greater.

Nations depicted in green are states that seem to be going toward the
electronic police state model, but not as quickly.

Our raw data may be downloaded here.

Here are the 52 states and their rankings:
1. China
2. North Korea
3. Belarus
4. Russia
5. United Kingdom: England & Wales
6. United States of America
7. Singapore
8. Israel
9. France
13.United Kingdom: Scotland
15.South Korea
20.New Zealand
40.Czech Republic
42.South Africa


We will issue next year’s report toward the end of Q1. We welcome input from any and all reliable sources. (The information required to prepare such a report is not easy to obtain, and we’ll take whatever help we can get.)

We may be reached at: info@cryptohippie.com