Saturday, January 23, 2010
by: Ellen Hodgson Brown J.D., t r u t h o u t | Feature
The story goes that Churchill offered a woman 5 million pounds to sleep with him. She hedged and said they would have to discuss terms. Then he offered her 5 pounds. "Sir!" she said. "What sort of woman do you think I am?" "Madam," he replied, "we've already established that. Now we're just haggling over the price."
The same might be said of President Obama's health care bill, which was sold out to corporate interests early on. The insurance lobby had its way with the bill; after that they were just haggling over the price. The "public option" was so watered down in Congressional deal-making that it finally disappeared altogether.
By Mark Karlin
From the presidential election stolen in December of 2000 by a 5-4 vote to the 5-4 vote in January of 2010, the decade is bracketed with a partisan Republican High Court that twice shoved the basic underpinnings of democracy -- government of the people, by the people and for the people -- into a garbage compactor and crushed our electoral rights.
Friday, January 22, 2010
According to Venezuela president Hugo Chavez, it was the U.S. that totally wiped out Port Au Prince with its secret earthquake machine.
Citing an alleged report from Russia's Northern Fleet, the Venezuelan strongman's state mouthpiece ViVe TV shot out a press release saying the 7.0 magnitude Haiti quake was caused by a U.S. test of an experimental shockwave system that can also create "weather anomalies to cause floods, droughts and hurricanes." The station's Web site added that the U.S. government's HAARP program, an atmospheric research facility in Alaska (and frequent subject of conspiracy theories), was also to blame for a Jan. 9 quake in Eureka, Calif., and may have been behind the 7.8-magnitude quake in China that killed nearly 90,000 people in 2008. What's more, the site says, the cataclysmic ruin in Haiti was only a test run for much bigger game: the coming showdown with Iran. The ultimate goal of the test attack in Haiti, the report reads, is the United States' "planned destruction of Iran through a series of earthquakes designed to topple the current Islamic regime."Courtesy of JMG
Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), the best thing to hit Congress in a long time, has launched a campaign to tax corporate political ads at 500% of their value.
Fearing this decision before it became official, Grayson last week filed five campaign finance bills and a sixth one on Thursday. Grayson said the bills are important to securing the people's "right to clean government." The bills have names like the Business Should Mind Its Own Business Act and the Corporate Propaganda Sunshine Act. The first slaps a 500 percent excise tax on corporate spending on elections, and the second mandates businesses to disclose their attempts to influence elections. More details are available on the congressman's Web site.Grayson's petition has about 50,000 signatures already this morning.
"These bills will save us from drowning in corporate money and special interest money," Grayson said. "They should have been passed a long time ago but after the Supreme Court opened those floodgates, I think it's imperative we get these things done." Reforming campaign finance laws has been a daunting task, as senators Russ Feingold (D-WI) and John McCain (R-AZ) have made concerted attempts and failed. "I'm very optimistic," Grayson said. "I discussed the bills with the leadership when I filed them, which was a week ago in the case of the first five."
Eric Weiner, a former reporter for NPR, is author of 'The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World.'
The other day I was in a cafe when I noticed a woman reading on a Kindle, Amazon's clunky, oddly quaint e-reader. "Do you like it?" I asked. "Yes," she said, beaming. "It's great. I can travel with 200 books, a library at my fingertips." Being an insecure author (is there any other kind?), I asked if my book happened, just happened, to be among those lucky 200. She punched a few keys on her Kindle, and up popped my book. Well, not my book exactly, but the same words that appear in my book. There's a difference. The printed word has a permanence, a finality to it that digital "ink" lacks. Digital words are provisional, always subject to change. Call me Ishmael. No, call me … Brad. Yes, that's much better.
President Gonzalez on Thursday said to us: “Welcome Back.” Perhaps so…for those who remain. But there is no welcoming back the estimated 300 faculty this campus lost over the last year, many of them fired due to budgetary reasons between Fall grades being turned in and the start of classes this Spring. There is no welcoming back the 5000 students who disappeared from classrooms—either denied admission, kicked out for frivolous bureaucratic reasons, or coerced into leaving due to skyrocketing tuition. This was the substance that Gonzalez missed in his superficial Convocation Speech—most of which was dominated by comments from the Academic and Student Affairs administrators. These two spoke in percentages and numbers and dollar signs about declining enrollment and program elimination, which really is code for student ghosts and fired faculty. We must be wary of those who speak of people’s lives by using numbers and percentages.
The President did acknowledge the public outcry over UEI’s purchase of the CalSTRS building, but didn’t answer the most important question: In these worst of budget times why did the campus pay $5 Million to UEI when that money could have saved faculty jobs, kept classrooms open, and paid for classes needed by students in order to graduate? The California Attorney General has opened an audit on UEI, so the President had to say something. But what he said amounted to little more than superficialities. Faculty, Staff, and Students deserve an explanation.
And most importantly, the President did not acknowledge—in fact did not even seem to even be aware—that 10 brave students stood up with mouths gagged holding signs protesting the increased fees, their ghosted peers, and the lack of classes. These students are the ENTIRE reason we are all here. To ignore them is shameful. To not listen to them simply proves their point (the gagged mouths) that this administration does not listen, does not care, will not do what is right.
Now more than ever Faculty, Staff, and Students must stand together. We must resist those who would make this University into an exclusive, pale, rich institution. Make no mistake: that is what it means to raise tuition, to force out those who are less prepared or less able to navigate the bureaucracy. We must remain true to the CSU’s mission to be The People’s University.
Please join CFA in informational pickets on the first two days of classes Mon 1/25 and Tues 1/26 from 8am-10am at the J street entrance to campus.
President, CFA Capitol Chapter
Associate Prof. Dept. of Sociology
By Mark Karlin
Take a tip from Gandhi if you are feeling dismayed and helpless by the 5-4 Supreme Court decision to officially let corporations buy candidates and elections: We are the change.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
A new report released by the State Auditor’s office shows the CSU Chancellor’s Office has failed to implement six of the eight recommendations the auditor made in 2007 on how to reform the CSU’s executive compensation practices.
To view the audit, go to: http://www.bsa.ca.gov/pdfs/reports/2009-041.pdf
Former Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez called for the audit in July 2006, after the San Francisco Chronicle reported the CSU had handed out over $4 million to departing executives over the previous 10 years for doing little or no work. The report was requested by the Joint Legislative Audit Committee (JLAC) of the state legislature.
“By not implementing these much-needed reforms the Chancellor is sending a strong signal to the legislature and the public that paying executives is a higher priority in his mind than educating students,” said John Travis, Chair of CFA’s Political Action/Legislative Committee.
The original audit examined compensation for CSU executives including post-employment compensation, disclosure of special assignments, hiring practices, and employment lawsuit settlements over the past five years.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
New estimates put the death toll in Haiti at over 200,000. That number approaches the estimated 230,000 killed by 2004's Indian Ocean tsunami.
With thousands of bodies being shoveled into mass graves, there is no accurate tally of the casualty count. Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive said Tuesday that 72,000 bodies had been recovered by the government. The European Commission, citing Haitian government figures, estimated the death toll could reach 200,000. Amid the rising chorus of criticism about the lack of coordination, U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Merten told The Miami Herald that obstructed roads and collapsed buildings made aid delivery a logistical nightmare. "Would we like for there to be the possibility of getting more aid out to people faster? Of course,'' he said. "If people were to realize the challenges we were dealing with here, they would be completely understanding and realize this is an extraordinary operation.'' With hundreds of thousands left homeless and many more who have yet to see aid, Haitian first lady Elisabeth Delatour Préval acknowledged time is running out. "I am not worried today,'' she said. ``But if the relief is not provided soon enough to a population in despair, that might open the door to some violence.''As the international relief effort escalates, American conservatives are screaming that the Obama administration has achieved a defacto occupation of Haiti. That charge is being echoed by the French government.
United Nations officials must investigate and clarify the dominant US role in the earthquake-ravaged Haiti, Bernard Kouchnet, the French minister said. US forces last week turned back a French aid plane carrying a field hospital from the damaged, congested airport in the capital of Port-au-Prince, prompting a complaint from the French co-operation minister, Alain Joyandet. The plane landed safely the following day. Mr Kouchner warned governments and aid groups not to squabble as they try to get their aid into Haiti. "People always want it to be their plane ... that lands," Mr Kouchner said on Monday. "(But) what's important is the fate of the Haitians." Mr Joyandet persisted: "This is about helping Haiti, not about occupying Haiti."Secretary of State Clinton responded that American forces will only ever be there to help and have "no intention of supplanting" the Haitian government. What Haitian government? Another strong quake rocked Port Au Prince this morning, a 6.0 temblor that sent rescue workers scrambling.thanks for this JMG
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
They take a cut every time Americans use their credit card to make a charitable contribution. Isn't that outrageous?
I just signed a petition to the CEOs of all the big credit card companies telling them they need to refund this fee for all the donations to aid organizations working in Haiti and get rid of the fee for all charitable contributions going forward. Will you join me?
Monday, January 18, 2010
The ride to the airport entailed this time a few stops in BH, which always jars me. It is huge, skyscrapers, and traffic, and freeways, and modern this and that... I often have more of a shock in BH than going home to California.
Normally I take the Pássaro Verde to the rodoviário and then the airport bus to the airport. But the Santa Marger insisted that I ride with her as she needed to make a couple of stops in BH... so I got o serviço de primeira classe and here I am safely inside of Confins.
Um chopp, a cafe com leite and três pão de queijos the better...