Fresh Protests Erupt in Egypt

Last week Peacenik suggested that the protests sweeping across North Africa just might inspire some protests in North America. But it is very difficult to sweep Charlie Sheen off the front pages. And did you know that Jeff Goldblum is dating Patty Hearst's 26 year old daughter. Where oh where is the Symbionese Liberation Army? But the rioting in North Africa must mean something. Peacenik doesn't think it is about freedom. Any African regimes that topple will probably be replaced by equally corrupt and authoritarian regimes. Peacenik senses a whiff of anarchy in the air. Just good old simple rioting. For the sake of rioting. And Peacenik has been googling "how to prepare for arnarchy." You know, Charlie Sheen seems to be a bit of an anarchist. Is Charlie's behaviour the beginning of something else? Is Jeff Goldblum's? Has it started? The breakdown of society? Is North America already further gone than Egypt but we just don't recognize it? Peacenik is going to read People Magazine. Maybe you should too.

Thousands stream out of mosques to protest against President Mubarak's 30-year rule, defying a government crackdown.

Protests have erupted in cities across Egypt following Friday midday prayers, with angry demonstrators demanding an end to Hosni Mubarak's 30-year presidency. Tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets across the country, witnesses have said.
[An Egyptian woman flees as Egyptian anti-riot policemen clash with protesters in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 28, 2011. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis) ]An Egyptian woman flees as Egyptian anti-riot policemen clash with protesters in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 28, 2011. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh, reporting from the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, said protesters streamed out of mosques shortly after prayers to chant slogans against Mubarak. Police responded immediately, firing tear gas to disperse the crowd.
Alexandria is a stronghold of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's technically banned but largest political opposition group, but Rageh said the crowds in the city predominantly consisted of "ordinary citizens".
"This is the same mosque where protests were held against police brutality in June after a 20-year-old man was beaten to death by police," she said. "It's very symbolic that the current protests are taking place at the same place all over again."
Read on...


What a difference a day makes!

punditman says...

Today is punditman's birthday, and it's a big one, just one day after that other Wayne's birthday: The Great One. Both of us were born in the same year, merely a day apart, and one thing in common is that both of us were destined to take up the good 'ole game of shinny (albeit with slightly different results).

Yeah, I remember the other Wayne. The kid from Brantford, who at age 10, scored 378 goals and 120 assists (still a record). For a few years, when I was but a child, I played in the MTHL "AA" in Toronto with and against many future pros, including some who eventually played with or against His Greatness. To my knowledge, I never faced the other Wayne but that's because he was soon playing way above his weight.

At age 12, the other Wayne was a celebrity, beleaguered by paparazzi every where he played. At age 12, I discovered that you could get the day off school by joining a walk-out student protest (and still make it to your hockey game that night). At age 14, the other Wayne played Tier II Junior; at age 14, I discovered Led Zeppelin, and other distractions. At age 15, the other Wayne played Major Junior A for the Soo Greyhounds; at 15, I discovered that I was a tennis player who could compete provincially, along with other distractions like water skiing, water pollution, and water pipes. At age 18, the other Wayne broke into the NHL; at age 18, I discovered the Grateful Dead.

The truth is, my competitive hockey (think contact hockey) ended in a nightmarish fiasco in which I hit the post on an open net while playing for my High School team in the final playoff game of the season. I can't recall who won; but the shame meant hanging up the skates for several years and deciding for a time that sports was nothing but a bourgeois distraction. Meanwhile the other Wayne began lighting up the NHL.

By then, I had long understood that the dream of taking over Sittler's Leaf captaincy had been nothing but childish delusion. The closest I would ever get to Bobby Orr was, when, as a 11-year-old, I got his autograph in the Boston Bruins dressing room. That was back in the day when they let kids into Maple Leaf Gardens before game time and when you and your buddy could take the subway downtown without parental overlords. The truth is my hockey dreams ended somewhere in puberty when the goalies got bigger, the defencemen meaner and the parents and coaches even more certifiably wacko (I recall one incident in which an opposing player from East York hurled his stick javelin-style over the boards at some parent. Maybe it was his Dad).

Thus as maturity took root (in some far off future, to be sure), I chose to temper my "jockness" with other interests and pursuits, not the least of which involved traipsing off to University in pursuit of co-educational distractions, beer, and...ahem...wisdom. Had I not done so, I would not have become the man of punditry that I am today.

So when you think about it, what a difference a day makes: A self-made multi-millionaire's remarkable talent and penchant for setting NHL scoring records wasted lining the pockets of the league's corporate fat cats when he could have hit 50 as an overly educated pond hockey and beer league enthusiast/tennis coach/blogger/editor/Deadhead/default entrepreneur with a much more rounded life.

It's a shame really, seeing "the best [talent] of my generation destroyed by madness..."* Then again, maybe the other Wayne has made peace with his misspent youth.

No regrets, eh.

* Allen Ginsberg: Ginsberg's epic poem "Howl", in which he celebrates his fellow "angel-headed hipsters" and excoriates what he saw as the destructive forces of capitalism and conformity in the United States, is one of the classic poems of the Beat Generation (Wikipedia).


Activism Is Not a Crime: Why I Will Not Testify Before This Federal Grand Jury

Peacenik will not be watching the State of the Union speech tonight. Peacenik doesn't want to puke. There seems to be little doubt that Obama is on board with the dismantling of Social Security and the last shreds of the social safety net. But he probably won't say anything tonight for or against. It should be astounding that the Tea Party is running the agenda. But it isn't. Meanwhile Obama's justice department continues to harass anti-war activists, just like George Bush's justice department harassed activists. Obama is not defending civil liberties, the poor, the unemployed or the sick. Peacenik doesn't care how eloquent Obama might be. The message is bad. No amount of eloquence will improve it.

by Maureen Murphy

I have been summoned to appear before a federal grand jury in Chicago on January 25. But I will not testify, even at the risk of being put in jail for contempt of court, because I believe that our most fundamental rights as citizens are at stake.

I am one of 23 anti-war, labor and solidarity activists in Chicago and throughout the Midwest who are facing a grand jury as part of an investigation into "material support for foreign terrorist organizations." No crime has been identified. No arrests have been made. And when it raided several prominent organizers' homes and offices on Sept. 24, the FBI acknowledged that there is no immediate threat to the American public. So what is this investigation really about?

The activists who have been ensnared in this fishing net work with different groups to end the US wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, to end US military aid for Israel's occupation of Palestinian land and US military aid to Colombia, which has a shocking record of repression and human rights abuses. All of us have publicly and peacefully dedicated our lives to social justice and advocating for more just and less deadly US foreign policy.

Read on...


Breaking: Keith Olbermann Announces Abrupt Departure From MSNBC; "Countdown" to End

Two years into Obama's presidency and the right wing is in total control of the media.
At the very least Obama should have stopped the dominance of the right wing media, and he should have helped reverse the trend. Instead he kowtowed, he wavered, he hummed and hawed, he kissed ass, and now the right is so firmly entrenched that progressive ideas are minimalized. Peacenik doesn't know why Olberman left MSNBC, but Peacenik suspects it was either a firing or a complete lack of support. The good news will be if Olberman reappears somewhere else with greater viewership. The bad new is that the progressive cause has lost one of its most effective voices and is on the run. Pretty sad when the voice of the left is led by a fuckin comedian....Jon Stewart.

MSNBC announced Friday night that its marquee "Countdown" anchor and talk show host Keith Olbermann was out. The network did not provide a reason for his abrupt departure.

"MSNBC and Keith Olbermann have ended their contract. The last broadcast of "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" will be this evening. MSNBC thanks Keith for his integral role in MSNBC's success and we wish him well in his future endeavors," NBC Universal said in a statement.

MSNBC announced Friday night that its marquee "Countdown" anchor and talk show host Keith Olbermann was out. The network did not provide a reason for his abrupt departure.

"MSNBC and Keith Olbermann have ended their contract. The last broadcast of "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" will be this evening. MSNBC thanks Keith for his integral role in MSNBC's success and we wish him well in his future endeavors," NBC Universal said in a statement.

Read on...

Feeding Cars instead of People: The Food Crisis Deconstructed

punditman says...
The question before The House is as follows: Should we feed cars or people? If the cars were in charge, we know what they would choose. I mean just look at how they behave.

As Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute points out in The Great Food Crisis of 2011, the US harvested 416 million tons of grain in 2009, 119 million tons of which went to grain ethanol distilleries to feed automobiles. That amount could have fed 350 million people for a whole year. But it didn't. Maybe the cars are in charge. This is insanity.

The issue of food security is real, and unless you think the human race is one big joke and deserves extinction, it's not exactly a laugh riot. Unless you're a car.

Brown explains that unless we change our priorities, increased food shortages and rising food prices will contribute to a rather dystopian future with unhappy results for billions. He lists a myriad of causes including the aforementioned use of grain to feed hungry cars, population growth, overgrazing, rising affluence, the demand for meat, soil erosion, aquifer depletion, loss of cropland to non-farm uses like suburban sprawl, the diversion of irrigation water to cities, shrinkage of irrigated area, and of course climate change—with its crop-withering heat waves and melting mountain glaciers and ice sheets. Sorry to spoil your Bagel B.E.L.T.

Brown says that governments need to "quickly redefine security and shift expenditures from military uses to investing in climate change mitigation, water efficiency, soil conservation, and population stabilization." This sounds long overdue. Punditman and Peacenik concurr. But will this be enough?

What are some other possible solutions? Punditman is starting to think that total veganism may be necessary. And a ban on internal combustion. We may end up vegans anyway once there are no more species to kill off. But these memes need to be marketed as cool and tough because love of cars and love of steak dinners seem to go together, even though they're so 20th century. Punditman would settle for a ban on beef production and mandatory solar powered cars. It would save on health care costs as well.

One commentor suggests "euthanasia for all persons over 60." Do I hear 50? Then we are really talking savings. Wait, punditman has a birthday coming up. Punditman is looking for answers. Are you?


Food Riots 2011

Garth Turner, in his blog www.greaterfool.ca, recommended that Peacenik stop reading doomer sites. Peacenik tried. But Peacenik's computer is infected with doomer links, google alerts, and Peacenik failed. Which brought Peacenik to this site. For two generations North American's have never really had to contend with shortages, other than of mood rings, and Wii games. But now there is a very real possibility that there will be food shortages. Nothing gets Peacenik's dander up quicker than being hungry or thirsty. 41 million people in the U.S. are on food stamps. When that number hits 44 million watch out. In Canada there is unprecedented demand from food banks. Will hunger be the black swan event that gets North American's off their arses? War hasn't. Bankruptcy hasn't. Unemployment hasn't. Racism hasn't. Will hunger?

The stunningly violent food riots in Tunisia and Algeria show just how quickly things can change. Just a few months ago, these two northern Africa nations were considered to be very stable, very peaceful and without any major problems. But now protesters are openly squaring off with police in the streets. Many of the protesters are throwing "fire bombs" or are shooting fireworks at the authorities, and the police are responding with a tremendous amount of violence themselves. In Algeria, several protesters have been killed by police and several others have actually set themselves on fire to protest the economic conditions. In Tunisia, more than 100 people have been killed and the president of that country actually had to flee for his life. But on a global scale, food shortages have not even gotten that bad yet. Yes, food prices are starting to go up and food supplies are a little bit tighter right now, but much worse times than these are coming. So what in the world are the cities of the world going to look like when we have a very serious food shortage? Just as we saw during the food riots of 2008, when people get to the point where they can't even feed themselves anymore, they tend to lose it. In the video posted below, you can really feel the desperation of these young Algerians as they riot in the streets...

Read on...


African Food Riots Spread To Persian Gulf As Oman Is Next; Adverse Implications For Oil Prices?

Is the world order unraveling? Had the fuse to world chaos been lit, as Peacenik speculated occurred in Tunisia last week? The world has now seen riots and self-immolations in Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Yemen and Egypt. And don't forget the riots in Greece and France. And the riots in England where his Royal Highness Prince Charles was almost assaulted over the rise in tuition costs. And with so much corn going into ethanol production, Mexico will probably soon see some very angry actors. Hungry, angry actors. And now Oman. And witness the speed with which these old sclerotic tyrannys fall. Prices continue to go up. Shortages are inevitable. Peacenik is cultivating Peaceniks' links to the Amish community. What are you doing?

While deadly protests in Africa have been largely ignored, because, well, they are in Africa, and they don't even have iPads there and Kindle WhisperNet coverage is spotty if any, the world may be forced to start paying just a little more attention as food riots get ever closer to the center of the oil extraction infrastructure in the Persian Gulf. From BBC Monitoring, which discusses the latest outbreak of protests sweeping Oman "Most participants in the protest were reluctant to be quoted as they were government employees. However, some said they protested against low salaries and soaring prices." Luckily, for now the protest is still peaceful. The thing about hunger is that it doesn't go away if you ignore it. And as Oman borders the UAE, all it takes is for the riots to jump one more border and then it gets interesting. And to all those observent enough to note that soaring prices continue to occur in countries with "growing unemployment" i.e., economic slack, and wonder how this is possible, after all the Fed said record slack can never lead to inflation, don't worry - you are certainly not alone.

Read on...


The Banality of American Violence

punditman says...

Here we are again. Another massacre in the US. In the name of free speech and truth-seeking, I disagree with those who say the Tuscon shooting is simply a case of an individual's mental illness. Everyone is subjected to certain cultural and social imprints that influence their views and actions, including sociopaths.

Yet every time these mass shootings occur, the right wing screams about how the Left gets all political about guns, violence and hate speech. Methinks the Right doth protest too much. However, even though the Right should surely answer for their vile speech, it is probably a mistake to assign undue influence to gun-loving, religion-abusing dummies like Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and the rest over in crackpot corner. Doing so only makes sane, reasonable, people like MSN's Keith Olbermann appear muddle headed. We don't know for sure what Jared Loughner thought of these blow-hards, do we?

On the other hand, it behooves us to at once mourn the victims of this senseless act while also trying to understand the social and political landscape in which such individual crimes of terror occur. All people, including the dangerously disturbed, are social beings who interact with others within a community and who are influenced by society at large.

So let's take an honest look at that society. Even those acts of mass murder that have not targeted politicians are nevertheless part of an alarming social malaise. As punditman pondered after 2007's Virginia Tech masacre:

Is there any correlation between the horrific events at Virginia Tech and the daily carnage unfolding in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world? There may be no direct link, but it has been shown that domestic violence does increase when nations go to war, as outlined by the landmark study, Violence and Crime in Cross-National Perspective, published in 1984 by Yale University Press. The hypothesis posits that when countries do violence to other human beings, this incites their citizens to perpetrate more violence than they would normally commit. So the phenomenon extends well beyond the returning war vet who becomes a ticking time bomb (although this is a huge problem as well).

Add to this, the plethora of television shows thematically constructed around murder and mayhem, news footage of the daily death toll in Baghdad, even the violence in professional sports--and you have to conclude that this deadly cocktail has an insidious, demonstrable affect on social consciousness, making rage an option for some, instilling fear among the many, and desensitizing us all.

In the documentary film, Restrepo, the soldiers at an Afghanistan remote outpost are a rather different ilk than those of the Vietnam era who mainly wanted to do their part and get the hell out of the of the army asap. By contrast, today's modern volunteer soldiers see themselves as professionals killers hired to do a job. A soldier may or may not believe in one's cause, but for them to consider their role in such historic undertakings in such mundane terms is unsettling. Today's soldiers do suffer the same post traumatic stress disorders that their counterparts did in the sixties and seventies, but there is not the same degree of self reflection that there was back then.This should worry us civilians.

In fact, the hackneyed phrase "banality of evil" comes to mind. The phrase posits that "the great evils in history generally, and the Holocaust in particular, were not executed by fanatics or sociopaths, but rather by ordinary people who accepted the premises of their state and therefore participated with the view that their actions were normal."

At this stage it is hard to detect any coherent political ideology that influenced Jared Loughner to carry out mass murder, although this guy thinks he's nailed his ideology as somewhere to the right of Sarah Palin. Perhaps. But Loughner's reading list apparently included big names in the Western canon and a discombobulated lot it is: Orwell's Animal Farm, Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, Marx's Communist Manifesto, Ayn Rand's We, the Living, Hitler's Mein Kampf, and others, but each is distinctive and unconnected.
Speaking of Nazism, the character of Walter, in The Big Lebowski (John Goodman) did not consider Nazis to be in quite the same category as nihilists when he said, "Say what you will about National Socialists, at least they had an ethos." Others may draw a direct line between German nihilsm and Nazism. We don't know if Loughner actually read or understood Mein Kampf or any of the books found in his house or that he had listed online, or even what kind of impact this had on his scrambled psyche. In any case, Loughner's heinous crime was one of extreme nihilsm (life has no meaning). One wonders why this young man arrived at this conclusion.

Loughner obviously suffered from a dangerous mental illness. But this does not mean that we should ignore the zeitgeist ("spirit of the age") in which he exists. Regardless of Loughner's motives, a society infused with so much violence at home and abroad is neither civil nor secure. And if it is at the point where such violence is considered the norm, even accepted, albeit with sad resignation, then that society will continue to produce more Jared Loughners, until the spirit of the times change. Perhaps that is the real issue here.


Clashes Rise in Tunisia as Protesters Are Tear-Gassed and Thousands Demand Resignation of President

Tunisia. Where dat? What does this mean to anybody? Peacenik's google alerts about food shortages are swamping Peacenik's inbox. What kind of match will it take to get food riots going in your neighbourhood. The cost of food is already skyrocketing. Unemployment is very high. Homelessness is growing. If you were sitting under some overpass, cold, hungry, with no money and no access to food, do you think you might be motivated to protest. Riots are like viruses. They are infectious. They can sweep across the globe in an eye blink. You think North America is immune? Peacenik doesn't.

Police have fired tear gas at protesters outside the interior ministry in the Tunisian capital, Tunis, activists say.

[Protesters chant slogans against President  Zine El Abidine Ben Aliin during a demonstration in Tunis, Friday, Jan.  14, 2011. Thousands of angry demonstrators marched through Tunisia's  capital Friday, demanding the resignation of the country's autocratic  leader a day after he appeared on TV to try to stop deadly riots that  have swept the North African nation. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena) ]Protesters chant slogans against President Zine El Abidine Ben Aliin during a demonstration in Tunis, Friday, Jan. 14, 2011. Thousands of angry demonstrators marched through Tunisia's capital Friday, demanding the resignation of the country's autocratic leader a day after he appeared on TV to try to stop deadly riots that have swept the North African nation. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
"We heard shots, I believe they were shooting in the air but for sure they were shooting [tear] gas bombs, and they are trying to disperse and spread people," Youssef Gaigi, an activist at the scene, told Al Jazeera.

"There were some clashes, police on their bikes and cars hitting people. Things quickly changed. Before, this morning things were totally peaceful, we had people from all social classes, we had people from everywhere come here to Tunis and now they just decided to use violence."

The protesters are seeking the immediate resignation of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the president, and are refusing to disperse until he steps down.

Read on...


Defense secretary Gates says North Korean ballistic missiles pose 'direct threat' to U.S.

Peacenik is sick and tired of U.S. sabre rattling. The North Koreans are coming. The North Koreans are coming. This has as much credibility as the infamous balsa wood toy planes that supposedly were able to deliver weapons of mass destruction from Iraq to the U.S.A. Why is the U.S. trying to keep everyone on edge. Should Peacenik be building a bomb shelter, or buying duct tape? The terrorists are coming. Financial collapse is coming. Bird Flu is coming. Food riots are coming? The U.S. and Canada are led by dolts, elected by dolts. Peacenik has a plan for dealing with all the nonsense. Do you?

BEIJING --U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates warned North Korea Tuesday that its nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile programs are "becoming a direct threat to the United States."

Gates, who is in China on the second leg of a four-country Asia tour, predicted that North Korea's reclusive government would succeed in developing an intercontinental ballistic missile within five years.

But, in a first for a U.S. senior official, Gates also gave North Korea some concrete suggestions about what the United States wants it to do in order to restart stalled talks over its nuclear weapons program: declare a moratorium on both missile and nuclear tests.

Read on...


How the Right's Rhetoric Fueled the Actions of Arizona's Mass Murderer

Peacenik has a feeling that the discussion about the attempted assassination of Gabriella Giffords won't have anything to do with the sentiment expressed in the above headline. Peacenik suspects that the media's frame will be that it would be mean to blame right wing rhetoric for inciting the shooter. Peacenik suspects the media will call for a mature bi-partisan response to the shooting. Right wingers are already saying it is McCarthyism to blame right wing rhetoric for the shooting. Expect the media to play along. The march to fascism continues.

It's too soon to say what motivated the man apprehended for the shooting. But the Tea Party culture of political intimidation affirmed his violent impulses.

Photo Credit: A.M. Stan
It's too soon to say what, exactly, motivated the man apprehended for the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and 18 others outside a Tucson supermarket on Saturday. All we really know about Jared Lee Loughner, the 22-year-old alleged shooter, is that he is apparently a profoundly disturbed young man whose paranoia involves some indecipherable notions about the U.S. Constitution.
Some say Loughner regards himself as a leftist, others chart him on the right. But the screen shots of his (now deleted) MySpace page and the incomprehensible videos he posted on YouTube -- as well as another video he named a "favorite" that shows a masked, hooded figure burning an American flag to a soundtrack of a chant, "Let the bodies hit the floor" -- seem short on coherent ideology and long on violent impulse.

So to those who would like to attribute Loughner's actions to the Tea Party, I say, hold up; take a breath. But to those on the far right, and to the more mainstream right-wingers who fail to condemn the poisonous claims of the far right, I say, you're hardly off the hook.


Needed: A 12-Step Program for the Warmongers -- The Pentagon Been Hooked on Empire for 30 Years

It is surreal to read some of the Soviet opinion about their Afghan war that ended in 1989. And don't forget the Brit Afghan war before that. How the U.S.A. and Canada allowed themselves to get into the same situation the Soviets were in, in the 80's, will be one of the great ironies of history. Peacenik would love to search the newspaper archives to read some of the contemporaneous U.S. and Canadian opinion about the Soviet attack on Afghanistan. The U.S. and Canada were so outraged that they did not compete in the Moscow Olympics. And now, like the Soviets, the U.S. and Canada are spending money they cannot afford on a war they cannot justify, while their social saftey nets are torn to shreds and eliminated. Bring the troops home now.

Washington, the Pentagon, and the U.S. military need to enter rehab for their addiction to waging war and empire across the planet.

If, as 2011 begins, you want to peer into the future, enter my time machine, strap yourself in, and head for the past, that laboratory for all developments of our moment and beyond.Just as 2010 ended, the American military’s urge to surge resurfaced in a significant way. It seems that “leaders” in the Obama administration and “senior American military commanders” in Afghanistan were acting as a veritable WikiLeaks machine. They slipped information to New York Times reporters Mark Mazzetti and Dexter Filkins about secret planning to increase pressure in the Pakistani tribal borderlands, possibly on the tinderbox province of Baluchistan, and undoubtedly on the Pakistani government and military via cross-border raids by U.S. Special Operations forces in the new year.

In the front-page story those two reporters produced, you could practically slice with a dull knife American military frustration over a war going terribly wrong, over an enemy (shades of Vietnam!) with “sanctuaries” for rest, recuperation, and rearming just over an ill-marked, half-existent border. You could practically taste the chagrin of the military that their war against... well you name it: terrorists, guerrillas, former Islamic fundamentalist allies, Afghan and Pakistani nationalists, and god knows who else... wasn’t proceeding exactly swimmingly. You could practically reach out and be seared by their anger at the Pakistanis for continuing to take American bucks by the billions while playing their own game, rather than an American one, in the region.

Read on...


Afghanistan: Landlocked, Mountainous, Geostrategic

punditman says...Peacenik seems to have lost his geographic bearings. Hopefully only temporarily. Afghanistan is bordered by Pakistan in the south and east, Iran in the west, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in the north, and China in the far northeast, thus connecting the Middle East with Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent. Hopefully the following detailed map showing Afghanistan's geostrategic position in the world will help. Is Peacenik experiencing early on-set dementia? Peacenik?...

Max Keiser having fun going crazy and telling it like it is!

punditman says... 
Punditman hopes all of you out there who happened to land on this post will take the time to watch this Keiser report, which includes an interview with James Howard Kunstler. There are so many subjects that are touched upon: Monsanto, Wikileaks, India, Afghanistan, inflation vs. deflation (both are bad by the way), peak oil, values, black swan events, the list goes on. So take the time to watch this podcast. Punditman also suggests purchasing Kunstler's latest book off to the right over there


Obama Should Read WikiLeaks on Afghanistan

When Peacenik reads this Peacenik can only shake Peacenik's head and wonder why is Canada mixed up in this. Why is NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organzation, involved in a war in god knows where.  

Where is Afghanistan anyways? 

Has Harper read the Wikileaks leaks? What does he think? Does anyone care? This is insane. Bring the troops home now.

by Ray McGovern
Perhaps President Barack Obama should give himself a waiver on the ban prohibiting U.S. government employees from downloading classified cables released by WikiLeaks, so he can better understand the futility of his Afghan War strategy.

For instance, if Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has hidden from him Ambassador Karl Eikenberry's cables from Kabul, he might wish to search out KABUL 001892 of July 13, 2009, in which Eikenberry reports that Afghan President Hamid Karzai is "unable to grasp the most rudimentary principles of state building."

And, while he's at it, he should dig out the September 2009 cable from the U.S. Ambassador in Pakistan, Anne Patterson, in which she warns: "There is no chance that Pakistan will view enhanced assistance ... as sufficient compensation for abandoning support to these [Taliban and similar] groups in Pakistan."


The Death of Shopping Malls?

punditman says... As we look ahead to a new year, this video provides some interesting insights as to what is happening with the US economy. This guy Howard Davidowitz seems to have a good handle on some core economic indicators. I'm not sure about his ideology; perhaps Peacenik can chime in here since I originally found this on the Automatic Earth website.

At any rate, it is true that retail sales were up this year at Christmas time. But why? Well, 30% of consumers are currently responsible for retail sales and these did much better this year because of the strength of capital markets. So this means the luxury retail area -- just lawyers, bankers and CEOs out having some fun holiday shopping. Meanwhile, unemployment went up! In fact there is 18.5% unemployment and underemployment in the US.

The fact is, consumers have no money and those that do are paying off debt more than they are spending. Yes, some folks are doing better (the rich).  But the commercial real estate crisis is not over;  in fact, unsurprisingly, the future in the retail sector is online. Malls are no longer being built. What are they going to do with all that space? The death of the shopping mall would not necessarily be a bad thing. That is, if you factor in the death of suburbia, peak oil, climate change...