Gore Vidal: ‘We’ll Have a Dictatorship Soon in the US’

Will the U.S. end up in dictatorship? Peacenik thinks the Bush era was already a dictatorship. Crime thoughout the government and none of it prosecuted. But a dictator without the trappings of a democracy? Newsmax featured an article calling for a military coup against Obama. A congressman called Obama an enemy of humanity. The rightwing in the U.S. is arming itself and re-arming itself. Factories cannot keep up with ammunition orders. (The only growth industry left in the U.S.) Gore Vidal thinks there will be a dictatorship. Peacenik will watch Seven Days in May tonight. Peacenik thinks it could happen.

The grand old man of letters Gore Vidal claims America is ‘rotting away’ — and don’t expect Barack Obama to save it

by Tim Teeman

[(The Times/UK)](The Times/UK)

A conversation with Gore Vidal unfolds at his pace. He answers questions imperiously, occasionally playfully, with a piercing, lethal dryness. He is 83 and in a wheelchair (a result of hypothermia suffered in the war, his left knee is made of titanium). But he can walk ("Of course I can") and after a recent performance of Mother Courage at London's National Theatre he stood to deliver an anti-war speech to the audience.

How was his friend Fiona Shaw in the title role? "Very good." Where did they meet? Silence. The US? "Well, it wasn't Russia." What's he writing at the moment? "It's a little boring to talk about. Most writers seem to do little else but talk about themselves and their work, in majestic terms." He means self-glorifying? "You've stumbled on the phrase," he says, regally enough. "Continue to use it."

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U.S. Story on Iran Nuke Facility Doesn't Add Up

punditman says...It goes without saying that things are not always as they appear to be, especially when it comes to the byzantine world of US-Iranian relations. But for those naive enough to think the Obama administration does not play loose with the truth just like the Bush administration, punditman said it anyway. Try weeding your way through the article below, dear readers. It's dense. Has peacenik found a used bomb shelter yet?

Analysis by Gareth Porter

WASHINGTON, Sep 29 (IPS) - The story line that dominated media coverage of the second Iranian uranium enrichment facility last week was the official assertion that U.S. intelligence had caught Iran trying to conceal a "secret" nuclear facility.

But an analysis of the transcript of that briefing by senior administration officials that was the sole basis for the news stories and other evidence reveals damaging admissions, conflicts with the facts and unanswered questions that undermine its credibility.

Iran's notification to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of the second enrichment facility in a letter on Sep. 21 was buried deep in most of the news stories and explained as a response to being detected by U.S. intelligence. In reporting the story in that way, journalists were relying entirely on the testimony of "senior administration officials" who briefed them at the G20 summit in Pittsburgh Friday.

U.S. intelligence had "learned that the Iranians learned that the secrecy of the facility was compromised", one of the officials said, according to the White House transcript. The Iranians had informed the IAEA, he asserted, because "they came to believe that the value of the facility as a secret facility was no longer valid..."

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The Shame in Breaking Records

Peacenik believes in universal health care. Does that make Peacenik a freak? Cause watching Kudlow tonight, talking about the public option, made Peacenik think he was on the fringes of social thought. Peacenik assumes the public option is a pathetic subset of universal health care. But an important one. Kudlow and guests are outraged that the public option may mean more taxes. Taxes that would be passed on the the taxpayer. Kudlow thought the bailouts of the banking industry and GM and Chrysler were just dandy. And the war in the middle east. No problem for the taxpayers there.

All the talk is about socialism, communism, choice, taxes, freedom, choice, taxes, freedom. Peacenik is having a hard time believing the insurance companies have managed to corrupt the debate again. But it looks like the public option is going to be very tough to pass. Never mind that 47 million American's don't have health care. Never mind that kids die of tooth abcesses within shouting distance to the Whitehouse. Choice. Taxes. Freedom. Choice. Taxes. Freedom. Wins every time.

Mehmet Oz, M.D.


As I listened to 14 month old Analeigha Rivera's tiny heart in the Reliant Center in Houston, I could hear the murmur interrupting her regular rhythm as blood swished through a hole between the main chambers of the heart. An echocardiogram confirmed the diagnosis, so I could show her mother Victoria exactly where the problem was and explained to her that if little Analeigha didn't get supervised care by a pediatric cardiologist, we might miss our window to prevent life-threatening damage. I looked in her mother's tear-stained eyes and heard the same story that hundreds of others have recounted to me -- Victoria had a job but had lost her insurance. So Analeigha had nowhere to go. After I explained to her that we had resources on-site to help plan the next steps, one of my staff took me aside and told me we had just broken the record for the most people seen in a free clinic in one day. That's when my spirit sank a little.

Is the Media Exaggerating the Iranian Nuke Threat?

Peacenik doesn't know what the extent of Iran's nuclear facilities are. Peacenik suspects the facilities are exaggerated by the media. The media wants war. The neo cons want war. What happens when and if Iran allows IAEA inspection of it facilities. U.N. inspectors were given free reign in Iraq prior to the invasion of Iraq. They didn't find anything. But the revision of history is complete. Neo cons and the media say Iraq wouldn't allow inspections. Will Obama accept the veracity of IAEA inspections of Iran's facilities? Will the media? Will the neo cons? Will Don Cherry?

If Iran is open to U.N. inspections, it's probably not constructing nuclear weapons

by Juan Cole

Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, reaffirmed Monday that a date would soon be set for the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect the planned nuclear enrichment facility near Qom about which the Iranian government informed the IAEA on Monday a week ago.

If Iran really does permit full, ongoing IAEA inspections of the facility, then it cannot be used for weapons production. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admitted Sunday that Iran cannot use the Natanz plant for bomb-making because it is being regularly inspected by the UN.

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Robocops Employ Scary Crowd-Stopping Technology at Pittsburgh Protests

Long range accoustic devices torture everyone's ears. I guess crowd control theory doesn't acknowledge "bystanders" anymore. Peacenik doesn't think this weapon has ever been used in Canada. But the G8 is coming to Huntsville next June. One of Peacenik's correspondents has already informed Peacenik that the police have rented a large empty building to be used as a prison in Muskoka during the G8 conference. Police are also going to be deploying razor wire to protect the G8 leaders.

That's right folks. Muskoka will be militarized so that Harper can hobnob with G8 leaders. Will long range accoustic devices be deployed? Peacenik thinks it may be time to start complaining now. And Peacenik is cheering for the black flies.

By Mike Ferner, After Downing Street. Posted September 28, 2009.

An arsenal of "crowd control munitions," was deployed with a massive, overpowering police presence in Pittsburgh during last week's G-20 protests.

No longer the stuff of disturbing futuristic fantasies, an arsenal of "crowd control munitions," including one that reportedly made its debut in the U.S., was deployed with a massive, overpowering police presence in Pittsburgh during last week's G-20 protests.

Nearly 200 arrests were made and civil liberties groups charged the many thousands of police (most transported on Port Authority buses displaying "PITTSBURGH WELCOMES THE WORLD"), from as far away as Arizona and Florida with overreactingand they had plenty of weaponry with which to do it.

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Keeping Iran honest

punditman says...
Is Iran close to having nukes? Are they the new Soviets? Is it time for Peacenik to start looking for an old bomb shelter on Kijiji? You may think so if you've been taken in by the media's hype and half-truths regarding the current state of Iran's nuclear energy program and the apparent "discovery" of the Qom nuclear plant. But punditman says not so fast, doomers.

First, get the facts. Former weapons inspector Scott Ritter knows a thing or two about inspections regimes, their legal rigamarole and the politics that can accompany them. He saw the lies coming out of the US and Britain before the Iraq War was launched under false pretenses, and he sees what is happening now with regard to Iran. Says Ritter, "Simply put, Iran is no closer to producing a hypothetical nuclear weapon today than it was prior to Obama's announcement concerning the Qom facility." For instance, how many people reading this post know that Iran declared the Qom nuclear facility to the IAEA several days before Obama's announcement last week?

Punditman says forget the corporate media. They distort, deceive, dumb-down and deflect. Read Scott Ritter instead. Wait, the Guardian is corporate...Well, read on anyway...

Iran's secret nuclear plant will spark a new round of IAEA inspections and lead to a period of even greater transparency

It was very much a moment of high drama. Barack Obama, fresh from his history-making stint hosting the UN security council, took a break from his duties at the G20 economic summit in Pittsburgh to announce the existence of a secret, undeclared nuclear facility in Iran which was inconsistent with a peaceful nuclear programme, underscoring the president's conclusion that "Iran is breaking rules that all nations must follow".

Obama, backed by Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy, threatened tough sanctions against Iran if it did not fully comply with its obligations concerning the international monitoring of its nuclear programme, which at the present time is being defined by the US, Britain and France as requiring an immediate suspension of all nuclear-enrichment activity.

The facility in question, said to be located on a secret Iranian military installation outside of the holy city of Qom and capable of housing up to 3,000 centrifuges used to enrich uranium, had been monitored by the intelligence services of the US and other nations for some time. But it wasn't until Monday that the IAEA found out about its existence, based not on any intelligence "scoop" provided by the US, but rather Iran's own voluntary declaration. Iran's actions forced the hand of the US, leading to Obama's hurried press conference Friday morning.

Beware politically motivated hype. While on the surface, Obama's dramatic intervention seemed sound, the devil is always in the details. The "rules" Iran is accused of breaking are not vague, but rather spelled out in clear terms. In accordance with Article 42 of Iran's Safeguards Agreement, and Code 3.1 of the General Part of the Subsidiary Arrangements (also known as the "additional protocol") to that agreement, Iran is obliged to inform the IAEA of any decision to construct a facility which would house operational centrifuges, and to provide preliminary design information about that facility, even if nuclear material had not been introduced. This would initiate a process of complementary access and design verification inspections by the IAEA.

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Can the US-Iran Talks Succeed?

Peacenik was working on a post about Iran this morning which concluded that a military strike against Iran was inevitable. Peacenik allowed the media hype to influence Peacenik. But Peacenik pressed a wrong key on Peacenik's keyboard and the post disappeared. This caused Peacenik to go back and read some more.

This Dreyfuss article seems to be a little more rational than the hysteria Peacenik was reading elsewhere. Nobody thinks a military strike is plausible except the neo cons in the U.S. and Israel. Supposedly the neo cons in the U.S. are in retreat after the Iraq and Ahghanistan fiasco. Or they should be. Do the neo cons have enough influence left to manipulate the U.S. into a shooting war with Iran? Peacenik doesn't think so. Peacenik hopes not. But they are trying hard. It's deja vu. The warmongers methods have worked before. Will they work again?

Posted by Robert Dreyfuss on 09/28/2009 @ 09:00am

The US-Iran talks start Thursday in Geneva and, while a lot of other countries will be there too -- the UK, France, Russia, China, and Germany are all part of the so-called P5 + 1 -- it's really the United States and Iran who will have to make a deal. Even the latest flareup over the secret Iranian enrichment facility doesn't change the basic fact: that Washington and Tehran, after three decades without diplomatic relations, will be talking. It's a startling and important reversal of US policy, as promised by candidate Barack Obama in 2008, abandoning the charged rhetoric of the Bush administration, which lumped Iran incongruously into the Axis of Evil in 2002 and looked aghast at the idea of negotiating with Iran.

Robert Gates, the secretary of defense, did his part yesterday to lower the temperature of the rhetoric by stating explicitly that the US does not have a military option to deal with Iran's nuclear program. He didn't exactly take the military option "off the table," as the unfortunate phrase goes, but he did say:

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Once more on the vaccine question

Peacenik found this post to be persuasive.

Posted on: September 25, 2009 6:56 AM, by revere

There's hopeful news about the possibility of an effective HIV/AIDS vaccine and a weird story from Canada about "preliminary results" saying that you are more at risk from swine flu if you get the seasonal flu vaccine. With flu, anything is possible, but that is more than a little counterintuitive and strikes me as unlikely. Nowhere else has reported a similar experience. Since we don't know the methods or the data or the limitations or much of anything else that could allow us to consider how much to weigh this as evidence I won't say any more about it.

While we do write about vaccines here because it's a topic in the flu world, vaccines are not one of our obsessions. We'd much rather see the hopes and efforts of managing the consequences of an influenza pandemic invested in public health's infrastructure, not redundant efforts to make a buck on a single target vaccine by multiple companies. Influenza vaccine is a public good and should not be in the market system. But that's another topic. Since all kinds of vaccines are the topic du jour, we will, for a change, muse a bit about vaccines ourselves. Because some of what we say might be interpreted as mixed or ambivalent and seized upon by a growing movement of poorly informed or misinformed anti-vaccination zealots, we should be clear at the outset about our convictions: we believe strongly that all children should be vaccinated against childhood diseases with the currently available recommended vaccines and that most adults should also be vaccinated with the currently available recommended vaccines. We believe this because it's the most rational choice given the evidence we have. I also believe it should be essentially mandatory for children and almost never mandatory for competent adults. We'll discuss the one exception we currently see, shortly.

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Banks Fight to Kill Proposed Consumer Protection Agency

Peacenik calls this shameless. Peacenik says to the bankers: "shut your pie holes." Ferchrissakes, bankers destroyed the global financial system. Crimes were committed. Not only should there be a Consumer Financial Protection Agency, but a lot of bankers should be in jail. Yet they have the nerve to lobby against regulation? Start investigating, start charging, start confiscating, and start imprisoning. Where in the hell is the media? Oh, Peacenik forgot. It is bought and paid for. It is part of the scam. Have a good weekend.

by Kevin G. Hall

[Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, center, talks with Congressional Oversight Panel Chair Elizabeth Warren before the start of a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2009. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)]Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, center, talks with Congressional Oversight Panel Chair Elizabeth Warren before the start of a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2009. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON — If you doubt that U.S. banks long to return to the days of impotent regulation, you need only look at one of the financial sector's top legislative priorities: killing a proposed new agency that would be dedicated solely to protecting consumers' financial interests.

The Obama administration is asking Congress to create a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency to regulate consumer financial products ranging from credit cards to mortgages, and to simplify disclosure about them all.

Though virtually every cause of the nation's recent financial crisis was rooted in weak consumer protection, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is leading the fight against the proposed agency on grounds that it would make credit less available and more costly. The American Bankers Association, the Independent Community Bankers of America, and the Financial Services Roundtable also oppose the measure.

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Iran Said to Have Covert Nuclear Facility

Peacenik just watched Obama and Brown and Sarkozy get their shirts in a knot over Iran's "secret" nuclear facility. Looking grim they promised sanctions if Iran didn't stop doing whatever they say Iran is doing. By the way, the U.S., France, and U.K. have known about this facility for years.

Peacenik fears that as western leaders lose legitimacy they would like nothing better than heightened tensions with Iran in order to keep the sheeple terrified, and distracted from their own malfeasance. Who knows, they may even convince themselves that another war might be just the ticket. The neo cons in the U.S., highly placed neo cons in government and the media, have been openly advocating attacking Iran for years. If you were Iran, what would you do?

Published: September 25, 2009

Richard Drew/Associated Press (left); Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

PITTSBURGH — President Obama and the leaders of Britain and France will accuse Iran Friday of building a secret underground plant to manufacture nuclear fuel, saying the country hid the covert operation from international weapons inspectors for years, according to senior administration officials.

The revelation, which the three leaders will make before the opening of the Group of 20 economic summit here, appears bound to add urgency to the diplomatic confrontation with Iran over its suspected ambitions to build a nuclear weapons capacity. Mr. Obama, along with Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, will demand that Iran allow the International Atomic Energy Agency to conduct an immediate inspection of the facility, which is said to be 100 miles southwest of Tehran.

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Flaherty set to extend mortgage backstop

Peacenik has been talking about the housing bubble in Guelph and Canada for a while and reading about it at www.greaterfool.ca. And Peacenik has been doubtful that Canada's banks are as strong as our leaders and the media have said they are. Now we find out that Flaherty is going to piss away billions more propping up the supposedly strong Canadian banks and the Canadian housing industry. Low downpayments, long amoritization periods, and peak prices for housing are the exact ingredients that led to the U.S. financial collapse.

Why have a financial crisis today if you can delay it till tomorrow.? Peacenik and Peacenik's fellow taxpayers will be only too happy to help out the current crop of house purchasers. Its not their fault they are getting sucked into buying at the peak. Its not their fault income to purchase price ratio is totally out of whack. Its not their fault the economy is a mirage. Yes Peacenik says bail out the banks and the homeowners. That's what taxes are for. Healthcare. Not so much. Education. What dat? Social justice. That's for wimps.

Tara Perkins

Globe and Mail Update Last updated on Thursday, Sep. 24, 2009 08:57AM EDT

Ottawa plans to extend the biggest emergency measure it created to help the banks weather the financial crisis, a sign that the government and the banking industry are not yet prepared to call an end to the economic upheaval.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has decided to keep in place the government's $125-billion program to buy mortgages from lenders, a program that had been slated to end next week.

The banking industry has been pressing the Finance Minister to extend the length of the program because they continue to benefit from it and because there is still the possibility that liquidity pressures could re-emerge.

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For Mexico and Canada, the 'War on Terror' Is Over

Peacenik wishes this headline was telling the truth. But Peacenik doesn't see it. Don Cherry, on Hockey Night in Canada, will still have cart blanche to promote the war. Canadians are still afraid to criticize the war without the perfunctory "we support the troops but". Public vehicles are still adorned with ribbons. The Canadian anti-war movement remains invisible. The war on terror has, like the war on drugs, morphed into something sick. Canada needs to bring the troops home now and re-think Canada's foreign policy. Peacenik doesn't see Stephen Harper doing that.

by Louis Nevaer

MEXICO CITY- On the eighth anniversary of the United States declaring a global "war on terror" this September, America's continental neighbors - Mexico and Canada - have had enough.

When President George W. Bush addressed a joint session of Congress on Sept. 20, 2001, the nation - and much of the world - was still in disbelief that Islamic terrorists had successfully carried out the greatest attack on U.S. soil since Japan's assault on Pearl Harbor.

That night Bush rallied the nation to support a "war on terror" that was "global" in nature, and which would lead to the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Police Harassment Greets G-20 Protesters

Peacenik expected and witnessed this type of harrasment during the Bush/Cheney presidency. But this is Obama's justice department. Seems like the police didn't get the memo about civil rights and the right to protest. Or maybe there was no memo. Maybe protest is no more welcome in Obamaland then it was in Bushland.

by Robert S. Eshelman

Pittsburgh plays host this week to the G-20 summit, a gathering of leaders of the world's largest national economies and the European Union. And, as with many past international summits, protest groups are embroiled in legal battles over their ability to voice opposition to international political and corporate elites.

On Tuesday morning, lawyers for the ACLU of Pennsylvania and the Center for Constitutional Rights presented arguments before US District Court Judge Gary Lancaster describing a pattern of unconstitutional searches and seizures on the part of local law enforcement against two protest groups--the Seeds of Peace Collective and the Three Rivers Climate Convergence (3RCC).

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Seasonal flu shot may increase H1N1 risk

punditman says...This is freaking hilarious. Run out and get your seasonal flu shot everyone! It's so good for you that it makes it more likely that you will get H1N1! So better run out and get that shot too! Undoubtedly, it's so good for you that it will make it more likely that you will get...bird flu (or some such malady). Watch Big Pharma/Big Gov't try to bury this one. There's too much $ involved.

Preliminary research suggests the seasonal flu shot may put people at greater risk for getting swine flu, CBC News has learned.

"This is some evidence that has been floated. It hasn't been validated yet, it's very preliminary," cautioned Dr. Don Low, microbiologist-in-chief at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto.

"This is obviously important data to help guide policy decisions. How can we best protect people against influenza?"

It's important to validate the information to make sure it's not just a fluke, and that the observation is confirmed elsewhere such as in the Southern Hemisphere, which just completed its seasonal flu season, Low added.

Four Canadian studies involved about 2,000 people in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta, sources told CBC News. Researchers found people who had received the seasonal flu vaccine in the past were more likely to get sick with the H1N1 virus.

Researchers know that, theoretically, when people are exposed to bacteria or a virus, it can stimulate the immune system to create antibodies that facilitate the entry of another strain of the virus. Dengue fever is one example, Low said.

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Chest deep in Afghan quagmire

The Afghan war was a mistake from the beginning. Its justification was flawed, its intent confused, its implementation half-hearted.

That's why the bleak picture painted by U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the man in charge of NATO forces in Afghanistan should come as no surprise.

In a report made public this week, McChrystal articulated the obvious: Things are getting worse; the war is going nowhere.

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Canada set to boycott Iran's UN speech

Peacenik says: Yawn....who cares?

Canada will boycott Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech at the United Nations today, saying his outbursts about the Holocaust and Israel are "shameful."

Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon will be at the world body to attend the opening of the UN General Assembly's annual debate, but officials signal he and other members of the Canadian delegation will vacate when the Islamic republic's president approaches the podium.

Walking out of the chamber is seen as a strong diplomatic show of disgust at the UN -- and since the 192-member chamber is generally packed on the first day of the annual summit, Canada's empty seats will not go unnoticed.

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With Global Capitalism Exposed as a Sham, All the Global Elite Have Left Is Pure Force

That's right folks. You can't even protest what has gone wrong in the global economy or what will go wrong. You have no say. "De facto martial law". A combat battalion from Iraq to protect the G20 leaders in Pittsburgh from having to witness any protest.

It will only get worse. The leaders of the global economy are completed detached from the people and reality. They are incapable of fixing anything. They caused the collapse. Read the financial news and you can see everything coming apart. Peacenik doesn't think one battalion is going to be enough.

By Chris Hedges, Truthdig. Posted September 22, 2009.

Delegates from the world's wealthiest nations gather this week for G-20, walled off from protesters by a National Guard combat battalion recently returned from Iraq.

The rage of the disposed is fracturing the country, dividing it into camps that are unmoored from the political mainstream. Movements are building on the ends of the political spectrum that have lost faith in the mechanisms of democratic change. You can't blame them. But unless we on the left move quickly this rage will be captured by a virulent and racist right wing, one that seeks a disturbing proto-fascism.

Every day counts. Every deferral of protest hurts. We should, if we have the time and the ability, make our way to Pittsburgh for the meeting of the G-20 this week rather than do what the power elite is hoping we will do-stay home. Complacency comes at a horrible price.

"The leaders of the G-20 are meeting to try and salvage their power and money after everything that has gone wrong," said Benedicto Martinez Orozco, co-president of the Mexican Frente Autentico del Trabajo (FAT), who is in Pittsburgh for the protests. "This is what this meeting is about."

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More government money for Linamar

Is there any economy left that doesn't only exist due to government bailouts. Peacenik is all in favour of government intervention in and support of the economy. But Peacenik thinks there is good intervention and bad intervention.

Banks and Wall St. who have committed fraud should have the proceeds of their fraud confiscated. All those big bonuses. Take them back. And the criminals should go to jail. But what about the autoparts industry. What about Linamar. After the cash for clunkers ended, auto sales have crashed to the lowest level since 1981. What autos is Linamar going to be making parts for? Who is supposed to buy those autos?

Linamar got $44.5 million in 2006. And yesterday Linamar got $54.8 million as part of Harper's re-election strategy. Maybe it is time to start planning a new economy. A no-growth economy. Maybe it is time to invest in the future, not in the modern equivalent of buggy whips. Peacenik sees this all ending badly. Very badly. When Linamar inevitably downsizes to match the size of the real auto industry, or what is left of it, what is going to happen to all the mortgages that former Linamar employees will no longer be able to afford. Peacenik can hear the air leaking out of Guelph's real estate bubble as Peacenik types.


GUELPH — Prime Minister Stephen Harper brought along quite the house warming gift Monday when he attended the grand opening of the Frank Hasenfratz Centre of Excellence in Manufacturing at Linamar Corporation.

Harper announced Linamar would receive from the government a $54.8 million repayable interest-free contribution to fund the development of the company’s green and fuel efficient powertrain projects.

The funding was made possible through the Automotive Initiative Fund, which will provide $250 million over five years to auto-related companies in support of strategic, large-scale research and development projects.

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Swine Flu: Behind the Hype

punditman says...

Punditman doesn't have time to go into exquisite detail about his concerns regarding the swine flu vaccine or the origins of the virus, (which he has done many times already in this space), so Punditman will be brief.

There is certainly a lot to be concerned about when it comes to Swine Flu. But not necessarily for the reasons that we are being told. Thankfully, not everyone is buying into all the fear and hype. Many healthcare workers are refusing the shot. According to Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, which represents 20,000 hospital workers,"If there is an attempt to make it mandatory, I think you would see civil disobedience." Good on them, and good for Hurley for standing up for the rights of his union members.

Punditman saw Hurley interviewed on the CBC on the weekend and was pleasantly surprised at his candid assessment of what is really wrong with this picture. I am not quoting him, but paraphrasing: namely, hospitals are underfunded, overcrowded and germ-infested and rather than government putting all their energies into a vaccine with dubious efficacy and possibly dangerous effects, (especially for pregnant women workers), they should fix the hospital crisis! That would be the best strategy to contain a pandemic.

Speaking of the vaccine, rather than lining up for a shot of GlaxoSmithKline's squalene-laced vaccine, (linked to Gulf War Syndrome), perhaps folks should redirect their concerns? A good place to start is here or here. Those links oughta scare you a helluva lot more than the virus itself.

McChrystal: More Forces or 'Mission Failure'

Talk about shaping the debate. There should be no debate. The Afghan war should be over. But, just like the surge in Iraq seemed ridiculous when it was first suggested, another surge, even more ridiculous, is now being suggested.

Of course with the appointment of General McChrystal, this recommendation became inevitable. McChrystal is an "expert" in counterinsurgency, a buddy of General Petraeus, and was involved in the Pat Tillman cover up. What else would you expect of him.

So now the media and neo cons will be debating more troops for Afghanistan. The debate will evolve into "how many more". The legitimacy of the war will be pushed into the background. Yes the U.S. has perfected the formula for never ending war. What will Canada do? Peacenik hopes Canada will say "enough is enough", and bring the troops home now.

Top U.S. Commander For Afghan War Calls Next 12 Months Decisive

By Bob Woodward
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 21, 2009

The top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan warns in an urgent, confidential assessment of the war that he needs more forces within the next year and bluntly states that without them, the eight-year conflict "will likely result in failure," according to a copy of the 66-page document obtained by The Washington Post.

Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal says emphatically: "Failure to gain the initiative and reverse insurgent momentum in the near-term (next 12 months) -- while Afghan security capacity matures -- risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible."

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Swine flu 'could kill millions unless rich nations give £900m'

Anarchy? For some weird reason this word jumps out at Peacenik. Peacenik can't ignore a story that includes anarchy. Peacenik thinks there is lots of anarchy on the way. A perfect storm of anarchy. The projections for the swine flu pandemic are getting scarier and scarier.

This story talks about supplying antiviral drugs, vaccines, etc. to poor countries. Peacenik is not even sure there is going to be enough vaccine even for a supposedly rich country like Canada. When Peacenik reads stories about actual survivors of swine flu, Peacenik is more and more inclined to line up for the vaccine when and if it becomes available. Will the line ups be orderly. Will there be anarchy. Will Don Cherry push his way in front of Peacenik? Peacenik will see.

Woman wearing mask to protect against swine flu, India

A woman wears a mask as preventive measure against swine flu, at Sassoon hospital in Pune, India, Aug 11, 2009. Photograph: Dhiraj Singh/AP

UN report says pandemic may result in anarchy unless western world pays for antiviral drugs and vaccines

Rajeev Syal

The swine flu pandemic could kill millions and cause anarchy in the world's poorest nations unless £900m can be raised from rich countries to pay for vaccines and antiviral medicines, says a UN report leaked to the Observer.

The disclosure will provoke concerns that health officials will not be able to stem the growth of the worldwide H1N1 pandemic in developing countries. If the virus takes hold in the poorest nations, millions could die and the economies of fragile countries could be destroyed.

Health ministers around the globe were sent the warning on Thursday in a report on the costs of averting a humanitarian disaster in the next few months. It comes as officials inside the World Health Organisation, the UN's public health body, said they feared they would not be able to raise half that amount because of the global downturn.

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Activists Protest War Simulator

Peacenik thinks this is sick. Just another way to brutalize society. War is fun. Violence is fun. Killing is fun. No doubt the Canadian military is viewing the war simulator with envy. How long before one comes to a mall near you.

Society already is too violent. Too well armed. To prone to rage. Society doesn't need war simulators recruiting kids into the army. Stop the war. Stop Don Cherry promoting war on Hockey Night in Canada. Stop glorifying death and destruction. Bring the troops home now.

by Jen DiMascio

[Teens "killing" at the Army Experience Center (photo: Counter-Recruitment.org)]Teens "killing" at the Army Experience Center (photo: Counter-Recruitment.org)

PHILADELPHIA - Located across from an indoor skateboarding park in a Northeast Philadelphia outlet mall, the Army Experience Center includes a computer lab that showcases careers as well as the kind of interactive simulators that are irresistible to its target market: the teenage boys recruiters hope will fuel the Army of the future.

One simulator is a model Humvee in which a handful of people can pick up model M-16 rifles and play an interactive video game that simulates a real battle in Iraq or rounding up illegal immigrants who have just crossed the border from Mexico. There's also a model Apache helicopter.

Read on...


Punditman and Bunnie go to U2

A little while ago, Punditman grabbed a book that had been sitting mostly unread on his shelf for 20 years, Unforgettable Fire: The Story of U2. Punditman has been pleasantly surprised at what an enjoyable and informative read it is.

Punditman always really liked U2, so there must be some cosmic reason why, through a stroke of karmic luck, Punditman was given two free tickets to last night's Toronto concert. The actual cost of the seats could provide five tons of food for hungry North Americans, or save the lives of five children from malnutrition in the Third World, or provide medical supplies and treatment to a village of 100 for one year. Punditman wondered what kind of rich nutter would pay the actual cost of these seats; the P-man loves U2 but not that much.

In order to cut down on our carbon footprint, we drove part way and then took the subway. It took 3.5 traffic-jammed, subway-scrunched hours to make what once was an hour-and-change trek to the Big Smoke, reminding Punditman of why he doesn't go into the City as often as he once did and why he would never move back to from whence Punditman once dwelled, albeit in the burbs. Punditman had never lined up at a subway stop for half an hour and he never plans to again. A free Leaf game and the TIFF didn't help with crowd numbers.

Admittedly, for a progressively minded bunch, U2's carbon footprint is a little higher than Punditman and Bunnie and Peacenik and Johnny Anon combined. But hey, bringing music to the people on a revolving stage with a wall of sound while shouting out the message of unity and making people aware of Burmese political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi, all the while rocking out, is probably hard to do on the cheap—if you want to have a big impact.

The concert was presented under a four-legged, 164 foot-tall canopy that resembled a Klingon Vor'cha-class attack cruiser already filed somewhere in Punditman's subconscious, under Scary Sci-Fi. Well, sorta. But more playful and majestic:

The giant beehive inside of "The Claw" projected all sorts of protechnics and images, duly impressing Bunnie and Punditman.

Punditman was reminded of his age and that the 70's are truly gone forever, when, instead of everyone turning on their lighters near the end, Bono requested that each take out their phone and let their light shine in a spacey future kind of way. Everywhere you looked, where once upon a time in a universe far away, there were bics, there were now blackberrys dotting the night time air. Welcome to the machine, the RIM machine, the tour's corporate sponsor. Punditman thought it was a bit weird, in a geeky corporate governance, future shock kind of way. (Note: on the way to the show, a dude from the 20th century mocked all the concert goers in the subway car who were texting on their cellphones. Said he, "Whatever happened to writing a letter"? Cell phones are fucking gay.") Punditman thought that was a bit weird too, in red neck, Luddite kind of way.

Even with free tix, Punditman still dropped a ton of coin. Let's see: gas, subway, $10.50 per beer, concert t-shirt for Bunnie, cheap knock-off t-shirt from a vender 3 streets away for Punditman, money to the homeless, Apache burgers after the show.

Who the heck can afford tickets? Punditman and Bunnie went to U2 last night.

Here's the setlist:
  1. Breathe
  2. No Line On The Horizon
  3. Get On Your Boots
  4. Magnificent
  5. Beautiful Day / Alison (snippet)
  6. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
  7. Elevation
  8. Your Blue Room
  9. Unknown Caller
  10. Until The End Of The World
  11. Stay (Faraway, So Close!)
  12. The Unforgettable Fire
  13. City Of Blinding Lights
  14. Vertigo / Pump It Up (snippet)
  15. I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight
  16. Sunday Bloody Sunday / Oliver's Army (snippet)
  17. MLK
  18. Walk On
  19. One / Amazing Grace (snippet)
  20. Where The Streets Have No Name

  21. encore(s):
  22. Ultra Violet (Light My Way)
  23. With Or Without You
  24. Moment of Surrender

Jimmy Carter: ‘Hamid Karzai Has Stolen the Election’

Eight years later and 130 dead Canadian servicemen later and the election in Afghanistan is a fraud. As predicted. Why is Canada fighting a war in Afghanistan and supporting a fraudulent government? What does Don Cherry think about Canadians dying in support of a fraudulent Afghanistan government? Nothing is being achieved in Afghanistan except death and destruction. Peacenik says bring the troops home now.

by Aaron Glantz

[Former US president Jimmy Carter pictured during a press conferance following his meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on June.  (AFP/File/Louai Beshara)]Former US president Jimmy Carter pictured during a press conferance following his meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on June. (AFP/File/Louai Beshara)

ATLANTA -- Former President Jimmy Carter, who has monitored elections in countries across the globe, called the elections in Afghanistan "despicable" Tuesday.

"Hamid Karzai has stolen the election," the former president told a small group of donors to his Carter Center in Atlanta. "Now the question is whether he gets away with it."

Official counts have given the Afghan president, who was installed after a U.S.-lead coalition toppled the Taliban in 2001, 54 percent of the vote. His main challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, alleged fraud and a recount is currently underway.

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Barack Obama Abandons Missile Defense Shield in Europe

Watch the neo cons go nuts. This move by Obama could be simple economics. Or it could recognize the reality that missile shields don't work, have never worked, and never will work. This article mentions the slow development of Iran's long range missile program as a possible reason. Why would Iran want to shoot a missile at Poland? Even when the U.S. makes the right decision the tortured logic illustrates how difficult it is for the U.S. to make any decisions that don't kowtow to the neo cons.

Peacenik awaits a Frank Gaffney article calling Obama a traitor. Peacenik awaits a Limbaugh report calling Obama an appeaser. Peacenik awaits a Glenn Beck editorial calling Obama a commie. Oh wait. Beck has already done that. Wonder what Henry, the war criminal, Kissinger will have to say.

Decision likely to delight Moscow, which saw itself as the target, but is met with dismay by Poland and Czech Republic

by Luke Harding in Moscow and Ian Traynor in Brussels

[A demonstrator puts on a hat with a picture of a missile during a demonstration outside the U.S. embassy in central Warsaw, March 24, 2007. (REUTERS/Katarina Stoltz)]A demonstrator puts on a hat with a picture of a missile during a demonstration outside the U.S. embassy in central Warsaw, March 24, 2007. (REUTERS/Katarina Stoltz)

Barack Obama has abandoned the controversial Pentagon plan to build a missile defence system in Europe. The move has prompted angry accusations of betrayal from Washington's eastern European allies but delighted the Kremlin.

In one of the sharpest breaks yet with the policies of the Bush administration, Obama phoned the leaders of Poland and the Czech Republic last night to tell them that he had dropped plans to site missile interceptors and a radar station in their respective countries. Russia had furiously opposed the project, claiming it targeted Moscow's nuclear arsenal.

Obama is to announce the reversal officially at a news conference today. This morning the Czech prime minister, Jan Fischer, revealed that Obama phoned him about it last night.

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Americans Have Been Taken Hostage

It looks like the "official" stats will show the recession in the U.S. is over. Peacenik doesn't believe it. The publicly funded stimulus has artificially inflated a few stats so that the pump and dump artists on Wall St. and Bay St. can keep the party going for a bit longer. The ghost fleet of tankers off of Malaysia and the Baltic Dry Index tell another story.

The economy will never recover. There will be no growth. Until the black hole of debt is filled in or defaulted on, the global economy will be a phony economy. And getting rid of that black hole of debt is going to change the global economy in ways not yet imaginable. Dylan Ratigan's article is a nice simple summary of some of the problems....that are unsolvable.

Dylan Ratigan

The American people have been taken hostage to a broken system.

It is a system that remains in place to this day.

A system where bank lobbyists have been spending in record numbers to make sure it stays that way.

A system that corrupts the most basic principles of competition and fair play, principles upon which this country was built.

It is a system that so far has forced the taxpayer to provide the banks with the use of $14 trillion from the Federal Reserve, much of the $7 trillion outstanding at the US Treasury and $2.3 trillion at the FDIC.

Read on...

A Recipe for Disaster: School Cops Are Being Armed with 50,000-Volt Tasers

Peacenik wonders what schools in Guelph have Tasers if any. Peacenik hopes it is none. The police and Taser International have been successful in persuading the authorities that tasers are needed in policing. Peacenik doesn't agree. Are they needed in schools? Are they in your kids school?

By Liliana Segura, AlterNet. Posted September 16, 2009.

Tasers aren't 'non-lethal'; they've killed hundreds. With younger people being especially vulnerable to the taser's shock, the risks could be very deadly.

One spring day this April, at the Franklin Correctional Institution on Florida's Highway 67, Sgt. Walter Schmidt pulled out his Electronic Immobilization Device -- EID in officer parlance -- and zapped two people, who immediately "yelped in pain, fell to the ground and grabbed red burn marks on their arms," according to the St. Petersburg Times.

The two were not inmates at the prison, however. They were students visiting the facility as part of "Take Our Daughters and Sons To Work Day."

The move cost Sgt. Schmidt his job, despite his claim that he merely intended to demonstrate how the devices worked. He even asked the children's parents (who were also employees at the prison) permission first. "When they said 'sure,' I went ahead and did it," he told the Times.

Read on...


Ronald Reagan's Torture

punditman says...The question that should be asked is: When has the US not been in the torture business? One could easily cite examples throughout American history. Yet there is an almost complete lack of historic memory in this regard.

The Reagan administration's dirty wars in Central America should be relatively fresh in people's minds, with the atrocities committed by the US/CIA-backed Contras and the Salvadorean and Guatemalan military/security forces as part and parcel of a record of brutality. But apparently not. It just didn't happen. Instead, Reagan is portrayed in popular culture as a kind of doddling old grandfatherly type, sort of a Dubya-lite without the evil sneer who valiantly defeated commies and leftists.

In fact, the story was quite different, especially for those struggling for basic human dignity but who happened to be on the receiving end of The Gipper's policies. But instead of facing up to the truth, Obama and the Democrats have signed a resolution to create a commission that will plan a centennial celebration in 2011 of Ronald Reagan’s birth. In other words, none of the facts matter. Can you think of another "open society" so thoroughly hypnotized by a hogwash history?
Punditman can't.

By Robert Parry

Lost amid the attention given George W. Bush’s “war on terror” torture policies was the CIA’s cryptic admission that it also engaged in interrogation abuses during Ronald Reagan’s anti-leftist wars in Central America, another era of torture and extra-judicial killings.

The 2004 CIA Inspector General’s report, released last month, referenced as “background” to the Bush-era abuses the spy agency’s “intermittent involvement in the interrogation of individuals whose interests are opposed to those of the United States.” The report noted “a resurgence in interest” in teaching those techniques in the early 1980s “to foster foreign liaison relationships.”

The report said, “because of political sensitivities,” the CIA’s top brass in the 1980s “forbade Agency officers from using the word ‘interrogation” and substituted the phrase “human resources exploitation” [HRE] in training programs for allied intelligence agencies.

The euphemism aside, the reality of these interrogation techniques remained brutal, with the CIA Inspector General conducting a 1984 investigation of alleged “misconduct on the part of two Agency officers who were involved in interrogations and the death of one individual,” the report said (although the details were redacted in the version released last month).

In 1984, the CIA also was hit with a scandal over what became known as an “assassination manual” prepared by agency personnel for the Nicaraguan contras, a rebel group sponsored by the Reagan administration with the goal of ousting Nicaragua’s leftist Sandinista government.

Despite those two problems, the questionable training programs apparently continued for another two years. The 2004 IG report states that “in 1986, the Agency ended the HRE training program because of allegations of human rights abuses in Latin America.”

While the report’s references to this earlier era of torture are brief – and the abuses are little-remembered features of Ronald Reagan’s glorified presidency – there have been other glimpses into how Reagan unleashed this earlier “dark side” on the peasants, workers and students of Central America.

Project X

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Hospitals ready for swine flu wave

As Peacenik sat on the inter-city bus on Peacenik's way to work this morning, cringingly listening to the quiet coughing of Peacenik's fellow passengers, Peacenik wondered about Peacenik's chances of catching the swine flu. Peacenik tried to only exhale for the hour long trip. Peacenik heard that a public service city employee in Guelph has the swine flu. Peacenik works in public service in Toronto. Why are Peacenik's eyelids so heavy? Does Peacenik have myasthenia gravis? Peacenik thinks that's the problem in a flu pandemic. Everyone begins to panic. Every ache and pain and heavy eyelid is a symptom.

It is the earliest days of the new flu season. The authorities have installed a Purell dispenser outside Peacenik's office. Instructions have been given. Plans have been made. Peacenik slathered Purell all over Peacenik's hands, right up to the elbow, when Peacenik got to work. Is it time to don the latex gloves and face masks? Is it time for social distancing? Is it possible to hide from a flu bug? Why are Peacenik's eyelids so heavy?

Last Updated: Tuesday, September 15, 2009 | 4:39 AM ET

At CHEO, volunteers have been screening visitors and directing them to a handwashing station.At CHEO, volunteers have been screening visitors and directing them to a handwashing station. (CBC)

To keep swine flu from spreading through Ottawa hospitals, medical staff are screening patients at hospital entrances and providing separate waiting rooms for those with flu symptoms.

The measures are part of plans to prepare for the next wave of swine flu or H1N1 virus this fall.

"Definitely anyone that comes to CHEO with even a thought that they might have swine flu or H1N1 will be cared for separately," said Dr. Lindy Sampson, chief of infectious diseases and head of pandemic planning at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario.

Read on...


The Zero Growth Mind

Yes the world is returning to a zero growth or negative growth future very soon. Agriculturally and financially. But it won't be idylic. All the projections for the present and the near future are based on growth. Economies can't survive with zero growth. Capitalism demands growth. Right now the bailouts and stimulus programs are creating an illusion of growth. But it is winding down in a hurry. Watch Obama's speech about the economy tonight. Peacenik will. Will Obama mention growth? Will he tell the truth? Will he tell people how to survive in a zero growth world? Can one survive in a zero growth world?

Posted by Ugo Bardi on September 14, 2009

Ancient peasants lived, mostly, in a "zero growth" world and, perhaps, in the future we'll return to a condition in which the finiteness of resources is an obvious fact of life. We see in this painting a group of 19th century Dutch peasants as painted by Vincent Van Gogh, who had an uncanny capability of showing not just the exterior aspect of things but also their inner reality ("The potato eaters", 1885, the Van Gogh museum, Amsterdam)

We often think that we have a problem of scarcity of resources. It is not so: scarcity is not absolute. Whether we have enough of something or not depends on our perception of what we need. And, because we seem to think that we never have enough, we tend to use what we have faster than it can be replaced. It is the phenomenon called "overexploitation" or "overshoot". It is the main problem that we are facing and it is all because of the way the human mind works. Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, overexploitation is all in the brain of the exploiter.

Nate Hagens has argued several times in "The Oil Drum" that the human mind is geared for growth (see, for instance here ). Apparently, we act on the basis of a series of neurotransmitters (e.g. dopamine) that make us search for continuously renewed stimulation. This way of functioning of the human mind is what generates our tendency of "discounting the future", that is of giving a lower value to the future than to the present. This rapidly declining discount function is the key of the mechanism of overexploitation.

Read on...

Iran War Drums Begin Beating in Washington

Peacenik must have missed the memo where the world agreed that Iran cannot have nuclear power, and the U.S. and or Israel have the responsibility to prevent Iran from having nuclear power. In fact Peacenik seems to recall the U.S. unilaterally disavowing the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

But the warmongers want their war and the fearmongering media is only too happy to play along. The U.S. has circled Iran. The U.S. has shown a willingness and desire to wage war. If you were Iran what would you do?

by Daniel Luban and Jim Lobe

WASHINGTON - As nuclear negotiations between Iran and the West continue to move slowly, U.S. President Barack Obama is coming under growing pressure from what appears to be a concerted lobbying and media campaign urging him to act more aggressively to stop Iran's nuclear program.

Obama has given Tehran an end-of-September deadline to respond substantively to his offer of diplomatic engagement. But already hawks in the U.S. – backed by hardline pro-Israel organizations – have pressed him to quickly impose "crippling" economic sanctions against Tehran, and some are arguing that he should make preparations for a military attack on Iranian nuclear facilities.

The pressure campaign kicked off in earnest this week. On Thursday, hundreds of leaders and activists from the U.S. Jewish community descended on Washington to lobby for harsher sanctions, while widely-publicised media reports suggested that Iran is already nearing the verge of a nuclear capability.

Read on...


A 9/11 Reality Check

punditman says...9-11. It is unlikely that this blog, and thousands like it, would even exist if not for that fateful day 8 years ago. Eight years ago, everyone was discussing what the Bush administration was going to do in the wake of the attacks on New York's Twin Towers. Anyone with a driblet of political instinct knew there would be war in Afghanistan. So how is that working out? If someone went to sleep eight years ago and woke up today, they may have trouble believing that the Afghan War is escalating as I write this.

Eight years ago, some of us predicted there would be an assualt on liberty and a crackdown on dissent. And excuses and lies for more war too, in Iraq, or anywhere deemed necessary to go after those "with global reach." 9-11 offered little Hitlers everywhere international carte blanche to forego civil rights in the name of security. It gave us a permanent warfare state that shows no signs of abating. It gave us torture without accountability. 9-11 dumbed us down so that those who never ask the right questions and always avoid the real issues were alloted permanent prime time coverage, while anyone with a lick of common sense went scrambling off to the blogosphere attempting to make sense of planet weird. 9-11 was the perfect gift to the forces of stupidity and reaction. Too perfect, almost.

by Robert Scheer

What if eight years ago the World Trade Center had been leveled by a small nuclear bomb that took out most of lower Manhattan as well? How many millions of innocent civilians would we have killed in retaliation? Would we still be a free society, or would Dick Cheney have attained the power of a demented king, having moved on from snooping on our phone calls and outing honest CIA agents to destroying the last vestiges of the rule of law?

As assaults on a society go, the 9/11 attacks, which left 3,000 dead and are sure to be described in this anniversary week as being among the greatest of historical outrages, were something less than that, given the world’s experience with the ravages of war. The countless Russians and the 6 million Jews killed by those so finely educated Germans come to mind. The 3.4 million Vietnamese, mostly rice farmers, whom Robert McNamara admitted to having helped kill with his carpet-bombing of their country, are a forgotten footnote. Yet we who have never experienced such carnage on our home front all too easily poke out tens of thousands of eyes for each lost one of our own.

Surely two planes crashing into office buildings and another hitting the Pentagon doesn’t compare to the leveling of every major city in Japan with conventional bombing, capped off by the mass murder of hundreds of thousands more at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Speaking of eyes lost, mark the words of Hiroshima’s mayor two years ago: “That fateful summer, 8:15 AM. The roar of a B-29 breaks the morning calm. A parachute opens in the blue sky. Then suddenly, a flash, an enormous blast—silence—hell on Earth. The eyes of young girls watching the parachute were melted.”

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Soon to Be Freed, Shoe-Throwing Iraqi Journalist Showered With Gifts: "I Feel Like Michael Jackson"

Peacenik salutes Muntazer al-Zaidi. Have a good weekend.


By Martin Chulov and Rory McCarthy, The Guardian.

Posted September 11, 2009.

Muntazer al-Zaidi has won the adulation of millions, who believe his act of defiance did what their leaders had been too cowed to do.

As his size 10s spun through the air towards George W Bush, Muntazer al-Zaidi -- the man the world now knows as the shoe-thrower -- was bracing for an American bullet.

"He thought the secret service was going to shoot him," says Zaidi's younger brother, Maitham. "He expected that, and he was not afraid to die."

Zaidi's actions during the former U.S. president's swansong visit to Iraq last December have not stopped reverberating in the nine months since.

Read on...

Obama's Quagmire Looks a Lot like Vietnam

Afghanistan. Iraq. Vietman. And on and on and on. The Taliban are not al Qaeda. Canada's security is not affected by Afghanistan. There is no longer any rational or valid reason for Canadian forces to be in Afghanistan. Canada's federal deficit just topped $50 billion. Canada cannot afford a costly misadventure in Afghanistan.

An election in Canada appears to be imminent. Where does each party stand on Canada's role in Afghanistan? Peacenik is afraid to find out. Peacenik is already demoralized by Canada's role in Afghanistan. Nothing good can come from Canada's continued participation in Afghanistan. Can't any politician stand up and convince an average Canadian voter that Canada should bring the troops home now? Is it that hard of an argument to make? Does Don Cherry make Canada's foreign policy?

By Robert Scheer, Truthdig. Posted September 11, 2009.


The way he's headed on Afghanistan, Barack Obama is threatened with a quagmire that could bog down his presidency

True, he doesn't seem a bit like Lyndon Johnson, but the way he's headed on Afghanistan, Barack Obama is threatened with a quagmire that could bog down his presidency. LBJ also had a progressive agenda in mind, beginning with his war on poverty, but it was soon overwhelmed by the cost and divisiveness engendered by a meaningless, and seemingly endless, war in Vietnam.

Meaningless is the right term for the Afghanistan war, too, because our bloody attempt to conquer this foreign land has nothing to do with its stated purpose of enhancing our national security. Just as the government of Vietnam was never a puppet of communist China or the Soviet Union, the Taliban is not a surrogate for al Qaeda. Involved in both instances was an American intrusion into a civil war whose passions and parameters we never fully have grasped and will always fail to control militarily.

Read on...


Omega 3, Brain Health, and Society

Reading this article prompted Peacenik to go to Peacenik's vitamin cabinet to check. Because Peacenik has not been taking any Omega 3 supplements. Now Peacenik is wondering if Peacenik's brain has been mis-firing because of a lack of Omega 3. Peacenik discovered this in Peacenik's vitamin cabinet: Omega-3 Salmon and Fish Oil, Halibut Liver Oil, Cold-FX (non drowsy), Centrum Chewables (multivitamin), vitamin E (400 iu). Is Peacenik taking enough vitamin supplements? Is Peacenik a victim of vitamin supplier marketing? Should Peacenik take something else? What do you take? What should Peacenik take?


Our distant paleolithic ancestors ate an omnivorous diet composed of wild plants, animal meat and fishes. About 10,000 years ago, domesticated animal meat, milk, eggs and cereals grains were gradually introduced in the human diet. During the 19th century, refined sugars, refined grains and hydrogenated vegetable fats became part of the human diet. Vegetable oils, high-fructose corn syrup and processed food became very popular in the 20th century. All these recent changes have altered our genetically determined biology. To function optimally, our body and especially our brain need to respect our evolutionary dietary history.

The fatty acids composition of modern diet plays an important role in brain function, and thus behavior. Modern diets have created a great imbalance between two important fatty acids nutrients. Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids are essential nutrients to human health and cannot be manufactured by the body itself. We must get them from food, the best source of omega 3 being fish while the main source of omega 6 being vegetable oils. Our distant ancestors ate a diet with a balanced ratio of omega 6 /omega 3 fatty acids of 1:1. The human brain evolved for hundreds of thousands of years fed with balanced portions of game meat, fish, fruits, vegetables and roots.

Read on...

Update: Peacenik just remembered why Peacenik wasn't taking the Omega 3 that is in Peacenik's cabinet. The fucking pill is big enough to choke a horse. Peacenik took one. It was hard to swallow. Peacenik needs to find smaller Omega 3 pill.

Tomgram: Measuring Success in Afghanistan

The futility of America's and Canada's military adventure in Afghanistan is palpable. There is no need for Canada to be involved in Afghanistan. Maybe the original reason for Canada to get involved was so that Canada would have an excuse for not getting involved in Iraq. And to curry favour with an neo con president of the U.S. Neither good reasons.

But nothing good is coming from Canada's involvement. Unless you think the militarization and brutalization of Canadian society is a good thing. Unless you think spending money on killing is better than spending money on healthcare. You like the militaristic patriotism of the U.S? It has taken root in Canada. Peacenik was proud of Canada's foreign policy when Canada was a peacemaker. Time to exit Afghanistan. Past time.

Measuring a War Gone to Hell
By Tom Engelhardt

Here may be the single strangest fact of our American world: that at least three administrations -- Ronald Reagan's, George W. Bush's, and now Barack Obama's -- drew the U.S. "defense" perimeter at the Hindu Kush; that is, in the rugged, mountainous lands of Afghanistan. Put another way, while Americans argue feverishly and angrily over what kind of money, if any, to put into health care, or decaying infrastructure, or other key places of need, until recently just about no one in the mainstream raised a peep about the fact that, for nearly eight years (not to say much of the last three decades), we've been pouring billions of dollars, American military know-how, and American lives into a black hole in Afghanistan that is, at least in significant part, of our own creation.

Imagine for a moment, as you read this post, what might have happened if Americans had decided to sink the same sort of money -- $228 billion and rising fast -- the same "civilian surges," the same planning, thought, and effort (but not the same staggering ineffectiveness) into reclaiming New Orleans or Detroit, or into planning an American future here at home. Imagine, for a moment, when you read about the multi-millions going into further construction at Bagram Air Base, or to the mercenary company that provides "Lord of the Flies" hire-a-gun guards for American diplomats in massive super-embassies, or about the half-a-billion dollars sunk into a corrupt and fraudulent Afghan election, what a similar investment in our own country might have meant.

Read on...

Chew It Up, Spit It Out, Then Brew. Cheers!

As part of Peacenik's ongoing series about the brewing industry, Peacenik offers this story about Latin American corn beer. Peacenik is a big fan of beer, but Peacenik thinks Peacenik will take a pass on trying Chicha beer.

Published: September 8, 2009
Rehoboth Beach, Del.

Ryan Collerd for The New York Times

SAM CALAGIONE, the founder of Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales, has a taste for exotic brews. There is Midas Touch, created from sediment found on drinking vessels in the tomb of King Midas in Turkey, and Chateau Jiahu, inspired by trace ingredients from a 9,000-year-old dig in China.

But his latest seemed extreme, even for an extreme brewer. He planned on making a batch of chicha, a traditional Latin American corn beer.

And in order to follow an authentic Peruvian method as closely as possible, the corn would be milled and moistened in the chicha maker’s mouth.

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The Labor Day Blues

Here is Jim Kunstler's take on the state of the media world: "Whatever the politics of the moment may be, national attitudes are surely changing. A psychology of hardship is overtaking even the bread-and-circus blandishments of the Cheez Doodle / infotainment / professional sports matrix of idiocy that the sociopathic corporate axis-of-evil operates to take advantage of ordinary human weakness."

Read his whole article. As usual it is entertaining. And kind of frightening. Meanwhile Obama gives a speech to school kids today. The media is painting it as wildly controversial. When George Bush went into classrooms to read his favorite book to the children, "The Hungry Caterpillar" it wasn't controversial. Peacenik says some things never change.

by Jim Kunstler

One national moment-of-nausea this Labor Day weekend struck Sunday morning, when CNN's John King led off his 10 a.m. State of the Union show with a valentine to ABC's Diane Sawyer, on her becoming anchor of that network's evening news. (This was the most important news of the week???) The old legacy networks have taken on the role of dishing out reassurance to an anxious and insecure public as job number one, and the subtext of the Sawyer lede was that a Mommy figure would soon be in place to soothe the multitudes even as the nation free-falls into bankruptcy and disorder. This is supposed to be a counterpoint to the chorus of smug, braying rabble-rousers who inflame the crowds on Fox News and MSNBC, and CNBC -- the Glen Becks and Keith Olbermans and Dennis Kneales -- who work the anger regions of the brain.

The inherent conflicts arise from a nation that simply cannot bring itself to try getting its house in order. Instead of adult leadership, we prefer good parent / bad parent therapy -- a psychodrama of alternating messages of reassurance and punishment that provides distraction from problems and conundrums too horrible to face. One unfortunate result is the evaporating legitimacy of anyone or anything in authority, and that is extremely dangerous at a time like this because it creates the perfect opportunity for the rise of a corn-pone Hitler who will beat a path straight into a national ordeal-by-fire, and make everybody feel better by telling them clearly what to do.

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Meet the Press's Idea of a 'Debate'

Here are two examples of why the mainstream media is broken. Could there be a more slanted, tired, irrelevant panel ever. Neo cons all. Peacenik is so tired of all the same pundits shaping policy debates in the U.S. that Peacenik may kick in Peacenik's tv screen. Do pundits have to die to get off Peacenik's tv screen? Do pundits never retire? Ever?

by Glenn Greenwald

On Sunday, Meet the Press hosted a panel discussion to debate two primary issues: (1) foreign policy -- specifically, the war in Afghanistan, and (2) health care. The panel: Rudy Giuliani,Tom Friedman, Harold Ford, Jr., and Tom Brokaw (as Jay Rosen often notes, Meet the Press is doing a fantastic job of fulfilling its pledge to present "fresh voices" in its discussions).

With regard to Afghanistan, there is a major debate currently taking place about whether we should stay in that country. A majority of Americans now opposes the war. But there was not a single participant there who shares that view. All of them believe that it is imperative we remain, and put on their little General hats to exchange deeply Serious analyses of how we need to adjust our strategy and tactics for greater mission success. Of course, all of three of those whose views were known about Iraq -- Friedman, Ford and Giuliani -- were vehement supporters of the invasion. As always, not only does support for that war not produce shame or even impair one's credibility and Seriousness, but the opposite is true: having supported it is a prerequisite for being considered credible and Serious, which is why those are the only people -- still -- from whom we hear when it's time to convene Serious discussions of foreign policy. What an odd filtering standard for The Liberal Media to use.

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