Monday, January 31, 2011

The Egyptian Example

Whether inspired by the CIA and the neo-con globe kickers or not I can not imagine this what they wanted.  

Related: Globe Evasive on Egyptian Unrest  

I trust the Globe has cleared things up?

"Furor forces Mubarak’s hand; Egyptian leader says he will oust Cabinet; military deployed as curfew is defied" by David D. Kirkpatrick, New York Times / January 29, 2011

CAIRO — With police stations and the Egyptian governing party’s headquarters in flames, and much of this crucial Middle Eastern nation in open revolt, President Hosni Mubarak deployed the nation’s military and imposed a near-total blackout on communications to save his authoritarian government of nearly 30 years.

Protesters continued to defy a nationwide curfew early today, as Mubarak, 82, breaking days of silence, appeared on national television, promising to replace the ministers in his government, but calling popular protests “part of bigger plot to shake the stability’’ of Egypt. He refused calls for him to resign, shouted by angry crowds in the central squares of Cairo, the northern port of Alexandria and the canal city of Suez.  

Maybe, maybe not. 

Related: The World is Watching - Egypt and Beyond

“I will not shy away from taking any decision that maintains the security of every Egyptian,’’ he vowed, as gunfire rang out around Cairo.

Whether his infamously efficient security apparatus and well-financed but politicized military could enforce that order — and whether it would stay loyal to him even if it came to shedding blood — was the main question for many Egyptians.

It was also a pressing concern for the White House....

Whatever the fallout from the protests — be it change that comes suddenly or unfolds over years — the upheaval at the heart of the Arab world has vast repercussions for the status quo in the region, including tolerance for secular dictators by a new generation of frustrated youth, the viability of opposition that had been kept mute or locked up for years, and the orientation of regional governments toward the United States and Israel, which had long counted Egypt as its most important friend in the region.  

Yeah, Israel could soon find itself surrounded by enemies.

Many regional experts were still predicting that Mubarak, who has outmaneuvered domestic political rivals and Egypt’s Islamic movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, for decades, would find a way to suppress dissent and restore control. 

I'm sure these are the same experts that are consistently wrong in my paper.  I'm sure they saw this coming.

But the apparently spontaneous, nonideological and youthful protesters also posed a new kind of challenge to a state security system focused on more traditional threats from organized religious groups and terrorists.

Yesterday’s protests were the largest and most diverse yet, including young and old, women with Louis Vuitton bags and men in galabeyas, factory workers and film stars. All came surging out of mosques after midday prayers headed for Tahrir Square, and their clashes with the police left clouds of tear gas wafting through empty streets.

For the first time since the 1980s, Mubarak felt compelled to call the military into the streets of the major cities to restore order and enforce a national 6 p.m. curfew. He also ordered that Egypt be essentially severed from the global Internet and telecommunications systems. Even so, videos from Cairo and other major cities showed protesters openly defying the curfew and few efforts being made to enforce it.

Street battles unfolded throughout the day Friday, as hundreds of thousands of people streamed out of mosques after noon prayers on Friday in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and other cities around the country.

Mr. Mubarak, in his televised address, said he was working to open up democracy and to fight “corruption,” and he said he understood the hardships facing the Egyptian people.   

He had 30 F***ING YEARS to address those problems. 


But, he said, “a very thin line separates freedom from chaos.”

His offer to replace his cabinet is unlikely to be viewed as a major concession; Mr. Mubarak often changes ministers without undertaking fundamental reforms.

A crowd of young men who had gathered around car radios on a bridge in downtown Cairo to listen to the speech said they were enraged by it, saying that they had heard it before and wanted him to go.

The police appeared to have retreated from large parts of the city.

Protesters throughout the day spoke of the military’s eventual deployment as a foregone conclusion, given the scale of the uprising and Egyptian history. The military remains one of Egypt’s most esteemed institutions, a source of nationalist pride.

It was military officers who led the coup that toppled the British-backed monarch here in 1952, and all three Egypt’s presidents, including Mr. Mubarak, a former air force commander, have risen to power through the ranks of the military. It has historically been a decisive factor in Egyptian politics and has become a major player — a business owner — in the economy as well.

Some protesters seemed to welcome the soldiers, even expressing hopes that the military would somehow take over and potentially oust Mr. Mubarak. Others said they despaired that, unlike the relatively small and apolitical army in Tunisia, the Egyptian military was loyal first of all to its own institutions and alumni, including Mr. Mubarak.

“Will they stage a coup?” asked Hosam Sowilan, a retired general and a former director of a military research center here. “This will never happen.” He added: “The army in Tunisia put pressure on Ben Ali to leave. We are not going to do that here. The army here is loyal to this country and to the regime.”

One of the protesters leaving a mosque near Cairo was Mohamed ElBaradei, an Egyptian who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work with the International Atomic Energy Agency and has since emerged as a leading critic of the government.

“This is the work of a barbaric regime that is in my view doomed,” he said after being sprayed by a water cannon.

Now, he said, “it is the people versus the thugs.”  

Yes, Dr. ElBradei will soon be forgotten by the AmeriKan media.  

Update: Opposition in Egypt Begins to Unify Around ElBaradei

The Muslim Brotherhood, for decades Egypt’s only viable opposition movement, had taken a backseat to the youth protest on Tuesday. But, perhaps stunned at the scale of that uprising, it called its supporters to the streets in full force on Friday.

Oh, the MB FINALLY makes PRINT!

Many protesters shouted religious slogans that were absent on Tuesday, though not the Brotherhood’s trademark “Islam is the solution.” Instead, the crowds seemed so large and diverse that it was impossible to gauge what proportion might have subscribed to the Brotherhood’s Islamist ideology.


"This seems like a good place to respond to the spin campaign that claims that the events in Tunisia, Egypt, Albania, Yemen, etc. etc. etc. etc. are not genuine popular revolts against tyranny but a complex series of plots by CIA, Mossad, Elvis, Al Qaeda, Osama Bin Deadforawhile, or Andrew Lloyd Weber. 

Obviously, the government of the United States (and for that matter Great Britain) have an obvious motive for trying to obfuscate the real cause of the uprising. The FCIC report makes it clear that the economic hardship the American people have endured for almost ten years could have been avoided were it not for the greed of Wall Street and the corruption and ineptitude of the government. Economic inequality is actually greater in the US than in Egypt. Americans have as much if not more reason to be angry with their government than the Egyptians.  

Likewise, people in Britain, especially students, have come to understand that their loss of financial support for education serves no purpose but to prop up the banks and ensure their permanent debt-enslavement via the student loan usury. Again, their hardship only exists because of the greed of the bankers and the corruption and ineptitude of the government. 

As corrupt government after corrupt government falls to the rage of their people, propagandists in the US and other fascist plutocracies are scheming to prevent their own people from drawing inspiration from Egypt, as Egypt drew inspiration from Tunisia, which drew inspiration from Greece, Iceland, etc.

So the lie is a simple one. "Oh no" goes the official story, "These are not real revolutions, but merely staged set pieces we ourselves created to amuse and delight you on the evening news. They are but a magician's trick full of sparks and smoke and devoid of any meaning beyond the immediate spectacle. So take no notice, and learn no lessons, for all is illusion!" 

But use your common sense. Why would anyone deliberately trigger so many revolutions occurring so quickly and setting in effect a fashion trend of rebellion for the entire globe? To what purpose would such a risk be taken? Would it not make more sense to bide one's time and topple just one nation at a time, with a comfortable interval in between, as has been the historic pattern for the US for so many decades? 

Of course it would.   

The government is terrified that rebellion is becoming the new global fashion trend. And therein lies the motive to scream that the Egyptian/Tunisian/Yemeni/Albanian designer dress is really a cheap knock-off from Foggy Bottom!" -- Wake the Flock Up

Yes, even if initiated by western intelligence organizations they have stirred up a hornet's nest.

"Obama calls on Mubarak to refrain from violence" by Mark Landler, New York Times / January 29, 2011

WASHINGTON — President Obama put Egypt’s embattled leader, Hosni Mubarak, on notice yesterday that he should not use his soldiers and the police in a bloody crackdown on the protests in Egypt....

Addressing the nation from the White House after a day of rage across Egypt, Obama said he called Mubarak and told him “to refrain from any violence against peaceful protesters’’ and to turn a “moment of volatility’’ into a “moment of promise.’’ Declaring that the protesters have universal rights, he said, “The United States will continue to stand up for the rights of the Egyptian people.’’  

The missile-throwing asshole sure has a lot of nerve.

Obama’s brief remarks came as a blunt reply to Mubarak, who spoke to his own people just an hour before and mixed conciliation with defiance as he dismissed his government but vowed to stay in office to stabilize Egypt.

Faced with images of riot police officers using tear gas and water cannons against protesters, the Obama administration has moved from tentative support for Mubarak to distancing itself from its staunchest Arab ally, saying it would review $1.5 billion in US aid and warning Mubarak that he must confront the grievances of his people.... 

Obama called on Mubarak to open a dialogue with the demonstrators, although he did not go so far as to urge free and fair elections.... 

In the words of one senior US official, regardless of whether Mubarak survives the upheaval has transformed Egyptian politics and how the United States will handle a leader long seen as a stable anchor in a turbulent region.

The announcement that the administration would review its aid was the first tangible sign that the United States was keeping Mubarak at arm’s length....  

Time to go, Hosni.

The mushrooming protests confront the administration with one of the most nettlesome foreign policy dilemmas it has faced, forcing it to abandon the careful balance that Obama and his predecessors have struck between supporting the democratic aspirations of the Egyptian people while reaffirming ties with Mubarak. This same calculation has governed US dealings with other Arab allies led by entrenched autocratic rulers, notably Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

In each case, the overriding concern is that the same people who are clamoring for change could choose leaders who are hostile to the United States, perhaps even extremists.

Still, standing by Mubarak for fear of what could come after him could lead to “resentment towards the United States that could last another three decades, like Iran,’’ said Martin S. Indyk, a Middle East peace negotiator in the Clinton administration.

Laying out the US dilemma, Indyk said, “If we don’t back Mubarak and the regime falls, and the Muslim Brotherhood takes control of Egypt and breaks the peace treaty with Israel, then it could have dramatic negative ramifications for American interests in the Middle East.’’

The administration also reacted sharply to the Egyptian government’s extraordinary move to shut down the Internet, social networking websites, texting, and other communications.

Obama called on the government to reverse the steps, which Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton described as “unprecedented.’’   

That stinks of a coup attempt.  Remember Iran?

US officials tried to call the Egyptian Ministry of Communications for an explanation yesterday, but they were unable to reach anyone on a landline phone, said a senior administration official....

Senior Egyptian military commanders cut short a visit to the Pentagon yesterday and were headed to Cairo as the Egyptian Army was deployed to put down protests in the country’s streets, US military officials said.  



"Scores dead in Egypt as crisis spirals; Mubarak, clinging to power, names VP; army holds back against protesters" by New York Times / January 30, 2011

CAIRO — President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt struggled to maintain a tenuous hold on power yesterday as the police withdrew from the major cities and the military did nothing to hold back tens of thousands of demonstrators defying a curfew to call for an end to his nearly 30 years of authoritarian rule.  

The military has abandoned Mubarak.

As street protests flared for a fifth day, Mubarak fired his Cabinet and appointed Omar Suleiman, his right-hand man and the country’s intelligence chief, as vice president. Mubarak, who was vice president when he took power after the assassination of President Anwar Sadat, had steadfastly refused pressure to name any successor, so the move stirred speculation that he was planning to resign.  

The next leader of Egypt?  

And then the reedited rewrites began:

That, in turn, raised the prospect of an unpredictable handover of power in a country that is a pivotal American ally — a fear that administration officials say factored into President Obama’s calculus not to push for Mubarak’s resignation, at least for now.

Even though the military is widely popular with the public, there was no sign that the government shake-up would placate protesters.... 

Yesterday, Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel laureate and a leading critic of the government, told Al Jazeera that Mubarak should step down immediately so that a new “national unity government’’ could take over, though he offered no details about its makeup.

Not in my printed paper.

Control of the streets cycled through a dizzying succession of stages. After an all-out war against hundreds of thousands of protesters who flooded the streets Friday night, the legions of black-clad security police officers — a reviled paramilitary force focused on upholding the state — withdrew from the biggest cities.

Looters smashed store windows and ravaged shopping malls as police stations and the national party headquarters burned through the night.  

Word is that the Egyptian security services were behind that to discredit the protesters.

 Thousands of army troops stepped in late Friday to reinforce the police. By yesterday morning, a sense of celebration took over the central squares of the capital as at least some members of the military encouraged the protesters instead of cracking down on them.

It was unclear whether the soldiers in the streets were operating without orders or in defiance of them. But their displays of support for the protesters were conspicuous throughout the capital. In the most striking example, four armored military vehicles moved at the front of a crowd of thousands of protesters in a pitched battle against the Egyptian security police defending the Interior Ministry.

But the soldiers refused protesters’ pleas to open fire on the security police. And the police battered the protesters with tear gas, shotguns and rubber bullets. There were pools of blood in the streets, and protesters carried at least a dozen wounded from the front line of the clashes.

Everywhere in Cairo, soldiers and protesters hugged or snapped pictures together on top of military tanks. With the soldiers’ consent, protesters scrawled graffiti denouncing Mr. Mubarak on many of the tanks....  

NOT a GOOD SIGN for USrael!!

By Saturday night, informal brigades of mostly young men armed with bats, kitchen knives and other makeshift weapons had taken control, setting up checkpoints around the city.

Some speculated that the sudden withdrawal of the police from the cities — even some museums and embassies in Cairo were left unguarded — was intended to create chaos that could justify a crackdown. And reports of widespread looting and violence did return late Saturday night, dominating the state-controlled news media....

The Mubarak government may have considered its security police more reliable than the military, where service is compulsory for all Egyptian men. While soldiers occupied central squares, a heavy deployment of security police officers remained guarding several closed-off blocks around Mr. Mubarak’s presidential palace.

State television also announced the arrest of an unspecified number of members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the outlawed Islamist group long considered the largest and best organized political group in Egypt, for “acts of theft and terrorism.”

It was unclear, however, what role the Brotherhood played in the protests or might play if Mr. Mubarak were toppled. There have been many signs of Brotherhood members marching and chanting in the crowds. But the throngs —mostly spontaneous — were so large that the Brotherhood’s members seemed far from dominant. Questions about the Brotherhood elicited shouting matches among protesters, with some embracing it and others against it.

If Mr. Mubarak’s decision to pick a vice president aroused hopes of his exit, his choice of Mr. Suleiman did nothing to appease the crowds in the streets. Long trusted with most sensitive matters like the Israeli-Palestinian talks, Mr. Suleiman is well connected in both Washington and Tel Aviv. But he is also Mr. Mubarak’s closest aide, considered almost an alter ego, and the protesters’ negative reaction was immediate.

“Oh Mubarak, oh Suleiman, we have heard that before,” they chanted. “Neither Mubarak nor Suleiman — both are stooges of the Americans.”

Many of the protesters were critical of the United States and complained about American government support for Mr. Mubarak or expressed disappointment with President Obama.  

The entire world is disappointed in that guy.

But either because of Mr. Obama’s Muslim family history or because of his much-publicized speech here at the start of his presidency, many of the protesters expressed their criticism by telling American journalists that they had something to tell the president, directly.

“I want to send a message to President Obama,” said Mohamed el-Mesry, a middle-aged professional. “I call on President Obama, at least in his statements, to be in solidarity with the Egyptian people and freedom, truly like he says.”

The unrest continued in other areas of Egypt and reverberated across the broader region, where other autocratic leaders have long held on to power.

In Sinai, officials said that the security police had withdrawn from broad portions of the territory, leaving armed Bedouins in control. At least five members of the police, both law enforcement and state security, were killed, officials said.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia blamed unnamed agitators for the demonstrations in Egypt. The Saudi Press Agency quoted him saying: “No Arab or Muslim can tolerate any meddling in the security and stability of Arab and Muslim Egypt by those who infiltrated the people in the name of freedom of expression, exploiting it to inject their destructive hatred.”

And in Yemen, dozens of protesters took to the streets of Sana in solidarity with Egyptian demonstrators, local media reported. There were large antigovernment demonstrations in Yemen last week, as critics were inspired by the protests that forced the downfall of Tunisia’s president.

The Egyptian government restored cellphone connections, turned off Friday morning in an apparent effort to thwart protesters’ coordination. But Internet access remained shut off Saturday.

The army moved to secure Cairo International Airport on Saturday. The Associated Press reported that as many as 2,000 people had flocked there in a frantic attempt to leave the country. Flights were available, but often rescheduled or canceled later in the day.

As night fell, bursts of gunfire could be heard throughout the city and the suburbs. And the groups of armed young men stopped cars at checkpoints every few blocks throughout the city. Several were visibly coordinating with military officers, even setting up joint military-civilian checkpoints.

One group on the Nile island of Zamalek was ripping up sheets to make armbands that they said soldiers had instructed them to wear. A group at the base of a central bridge kept a case of beer nearby to cheer themselves. And many swelled with pride at their role defending their communities and, they said, their country.

“Who controls the street controls the country,” said Dr. Khaled Abdelfattah, 38, patrolling downtown. “We are in charge now.”


"Thousands in Cairo reclaim their lives; They direct traffic, distribute water" by Anthony Shadid,  New York Times / January 30, 2011

CAIRO — Liberation Square was liberated yesterday.

Shadowed by the landmarks of a government that turned promises of secular nationalism into a withering authoritarianism, thousands of young people did what the state of President Hosni Mubarak never allowed in 29 years. They seized control of their lives.

Through the day, past the smoldering headquarters of Mubarak’s party and beside the travel agents who catered to tourists his government seemed to favor, youths took it upon themselves to organize traffic, snarled by the withdrawal of the despised police from the streets.

Young boys cleaned incinerated refuse from a night of looting that left more than a few ashamed. Others dragged makeshift barricades before the Egyptian museum, the receptacle of a glorious culture whose more modern incarnation has stagnated for decades. A few sweaty young men, fired by the euphoria of what they called a revolutionary moment, even dispensed water to the thirsty.

“This is the people’s water,’’ Mustafa Mohammed shouted, as he filled protesters’ water bottles.

Even in Liberation Square, there was a current of anxiety over what the protests would lead to, and what the arson and looting of a night before portended. There were reports of lawlessness and a pronounced unease in Cairo’s wealthier neighborhoods and across the country. For now, though, fleeting as it may be, an ossified order breathed new life.

The streets of the Egyptian capital have seethed before — over the United States’ war in Iraq and Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands. But yesterday, America was mentioned more as a symbol of Mubarak’s subservience.

In interviews across Cairo, the rebellion of youth stood as an uprising of the dispossessed, if dispossessed is the word that captures all the petty humiliations, bribes and abbreviated lives once captured in an anthemic song by the Cairene band, Downtown....

Egypt is a far cry today from the country that unquestionably led the Arab world in the 1950s and 1960s, when it radiated culture and power....   

Yeah, it's not that important.


And look who is allegedly helping out the protesters:

"Foreign activists stay covered online; Mass. group’s software helps avoid censorship" by Farah Stockman, Globe Staff / January 30, 2011

Iranian activists downloaded its software en masse during the massive protests after the contested 2009 presidential elections, and China has repeatedly tried to block Tor downloads and denied visas to Tor’s activists, who have trained people from over 20 countries, including China, at workshops in Hong Kong and Europe....

The group, which employs about 10 people, runs a network of about 2,500 computers around the world manned by volunteers who help the anonymous network run. It registered as a nonprofit in 2006 and receives about 75 percent of its funding from the US government.

About a year ago, Tor set up a special system just for Tunisian activists to protect their identity. So when the Tunisian government began monitoring Facebook pages and Twitter accounts during the recent uprising in Tunisia, “those people were already protected,’’ said Andrew Lewman, executive director of Tor, which provides the software for free.

In December 2009, Jacob Appelbaum, one of Tor’s main software developers, traveled to Cairo and held workshops for human rights activists on how to use the software to avoid surveillance on the Internet.

The workshop appears to have paid off. As protests swelled in Egypt in recent days, so many people rushed to download Tor that one of its servers crashed on Thursday. They managed to keep their service up and running, but the downloads from Egypt plummeted Thursday night after the government apparently ordered a near-total block on Internet service.... 

Appelbaum also works with Wikileaks....


Looks like your CIA-inspired coups are spinning out of control!

"From afar, Egyptians watch with fear, pride" by Milton J. Valencia, Globe Staff / January 29, 2011

The images of violent confrontation worried Mohammed Morgan, but mostly what he and the others felt was pride: Their countrymen had finally taken on the fight for freedom....

As thousands of protesters in Egypt took to the streets yesterday to challenge authoritarian President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year reign, their cries were heard here and around the world.

An estimated 4,000 Egyptians live in Massachusetts, and many of them sat by television screens or surfed Internet sites, poring over every bit of news coming out of a country whose government had essentially cut off all communication with the outside.

Today, local supporters of the revolt plan to hold their own demonstration from noon to 4 p.m. in Harvard Square, hoping to send a message of solidarity back to their homeland.... 

The protests in Egypt are part of a broader outcry across the Middle East, challenging oppressive governments that have held power for decades....   

All U.S. allies.

Egypt’s middle class has been severely squeezed, leaving an economy built around the very well off and the very poor....

Sound familiar, 'murkn?

Ashraf Hegazy, who was born in Egypt and is now executive director of the Dubai Initiative at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, said the movement in Egypt is fueled by anger at an economy that has left millions without jobs and struggling for necessities, but it also grows out of concerns about corruption within government and in the police force.

Hegazy said that while older generations have become apathetic to the corruption, today’s protests are being led by what he called the “youth bulge,’’ the demographic of 18- to 30-year-olds who make up a significant portion of the country’s population and hold few of the jobs.... 


"Boston-area Egyptians show solidarity with protest march; Hundreds walk peacefully from Harvard Square" by Matt Byrne, Globe Correspondent / January 30, 2011

Some were angry; others fearful. Jubilant screams mixed with expressions of pain and worry. But the hundreds of demonstrators who marched from Cambridge to Boston were unified by a single sentiment: Egypt must be free.

“The United States is built around ideals and values. Your First Amendment freedom of speech, that’s what we want,’’ said Amr Ali, 31, a Cairo-born demonstrator who said he has lived in the United States for six years. “We’re asking for the US to stand by US values, and the Egyptian people.’’

That is a lot to ask of AmeriKa.

The demonstrators marched in a peaceful column down Massachusetts Avenue, stopping traffic and drawing stares from passersby, before turning onto Boylston Street on their way to Government Center. Cambridge police, and then a half-dozen Boston police cruisers, escorted the group as horns blasted in approval from passing cars, some adorned with Egyptian flags.

Many Egyptians said their excitement for a free and self-determined Egypt has mixed with fear for family members. The reports from relatives in Cairo, Alexandria, and other cities have darkened, they said.... 

While some have begun to look toward the United States government for a response, other protesters were critical of this country’s support of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt.

“There will be mistrust of anything that the American government does because they’ve been such strong supporters of Mubarak,’’ said Liz Ismail, who marched with her husband, Massar. “I’m not sure the government here should get involved.’’  

And well there should be.

Marihan Hashesh of Boston, 23, who organized the demonstration on Facebook, said that while the United States’ historic support of Egypt complicates the situation for American officials, a free and democratic process in the Middle Eastern country could produce just as much cooperation.

“Mubarak isn’t the only one who can keep peace with Israel,’’ said Hashesh, as she marched on Boylston Street. “He’s just one person.’’  

That's the most important thing to the Egyptian protesters here in AmeriKa, huh? 


Similar demonstrations in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and in front of the Egyptian Embassy in Washington were reported yesterday, as Egyptian-Americans banded together behind their countrymen overseas....     

All the people of the world are applauding the Egyptians.


Also see: Boston area natives cope amid turmoil in Egypt


"Pressure on Jordan’s king grows in third week of Friday protests" by Associated Press / January 29, 2011

AMMAN, Jordan — Unrest rippling across the Arab world is putting pressure on Jordan’s King Abdullah II, a key US ally who has been making promises of reform in recent days in an apparent attempt to quell domestic discontent over economic degradation and lack of political freedoms.

But his pledges did not satisfy thousands of angry Jordanian opposition protesters who took to the streets again yesterday....

More than 3,500 opposition activists from the main Islamist opposition group, trade unions, and leftist organizations gathered in the capital....

Abdullah has promised reforms in meetings with members of Parliament, former prime ministers, civil society institutions, and even Jordan’s largest opposition group, the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood Movement.

Prime Minister Samir Rifai announced a $550 million package of new subsidies in the past two weeks for fuel and staple products such as rice, livestock, and liquefied gas for heating and cooking. It also includes a raise for civil servants and an increase in pensions for retired military and civilian personnel.... 

Abdullah has been working to create a more open-market economy that would see a greater flow of foreign capital into a resource-barren country, heavily dependent on US and other foreign aid and whose debt is estimated at $15 billion, about double the amount reported three years ago.

“The government buys cars and spends lavishly on its parties and travel, while many Jordanians are jobless or can barely put food on their tables to feed their hungry children,’’ said civil servant Mahmoud Thiabat, 31, a father of three who earns $395 a month....  

Related: Jordan's King Losing His Grip

A monarch with deep support from the Bedouin-dominated military, Jordan’s ruler is not seen as vulnerable.... 

And two weeks ago neither was Mubarak.

In Tunis yesterday, police fired tear gas to clear about 1,000 protesters from a square where they have been camped for days, even as many Tunisians welcomed the new interim government that dropped most ministers from the former ruling party.

It was a sign that its concessions may calm down the daily demonstrations that have disrupted life for weeks. In a chaotic scene, police used tear gas to clear the protesters from the front of Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi’s office, and later from Bourguiba Avenue, the capital’s main thoroughfare.

The North African nation was celebrating a full two weeks free of the iron-fisted rule of its longtime strongman....   

Yes, I have noticed the Tunisian coverage getting buried. I guess the coup didn't go as planned.


"Albanians hold somber protest in capital" by Associated Press / January 29, 2011

TIRANA, Albania — Tens of thousands of Albanians holding flowers and candles marched silently through the capital yesterday in a peaceful antigovernment demonstration to honor three opposition supporters shot dead during a protest last week.

Hundreds of police guarded the main government building in the city center, fearing a repeat of the deadly clashes that injured more than 150 protesters and security officers. Authorities refused to guarantee protesters’ safety.

However, the march, led by opposition Socialist leader Edi Rama, members of his party, and relatives of the victims, appeared to be more of a funeral procession than a protest.

As loudspeakers played somber music, protesters laid flowers and lit candles under giant photos of the three dead men outside the government building.

After the march, Rama urged the international community to reconsider its relations with the government, pledging to organize more peaceful protests.

“I call on the United States and the European Union to no longer tolerate in this country what they do not tolerate in their own countries, that they do not choose stability without the rule of law at the expense of democracy,’’ he told a news conference.


"Youthful protests gain momentum in Mideast; Yemenis call for a change; Opposition grows in Egypt" by Anthony Shadid, Nada Bakri, and Kareem Fahim, New York Times / January 28, 2011

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Yemen, one of the Middle East’s most impoverished countries, yesterday and secular and Islamist Egyptian opposition leaders vowed to join large protests expected today as calls for change rang across the Arab world.

The Yemeni protests were another moment of tumult in a region whose aging order of US-backed governments appears to be staggering. In a span of just weeks, Tunisia’s government has fallen, Egypt’s appears shaken, and countries such as Jordan and Yemen are bracing against the demands of movements with divergent goals but similar means.

Protests led by young people entered a third day in Egypt, where Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel laureate who has become an outspoken opponent of President Hosni Mubarak, returned in hopes of galvanizing the campaign. The Muslim Brotherhood, long Egypt’s largest organized opposition, ended days of official inaction and said it would join the protests today, declaring “a day of rage for the Egyptian nation.’’

ElBaradei called on Mubarak to step down.

“He has served the country for 30 years, and it is about time for him to retire,’’ he told Reuters. “Tomorrow is going to be, I think, a major demonstration all over Egypt and I will be there with them.’’  

To get hosed down and put under house arrest.

Although a relative calm settled on Cairo, smoke rose over the city of Suez, as sometimes violent protests continued there.

In Yemen, organizers vowed to continue demonstrations today and for weeks to come until the 32-year-old US-backed government of Ali Abdullah Saleh either fell or consented to changes.  

After the U.S. poured loads of dough into his dictatorship?

At least visually, the scenes broadcast across the region from Yemen were reminiscent of the events in Egypt and the month of demonstrations that brought down the government in Tunisia. But as they climaxed by midday, they appeared to be carefully organized and mostly peaceful, save for some arrests. Pink — be it in the form of headbands, sashes, or banners — was the dominant color; organizers described it as the symbol of the day’s protests....  

Yemen's Pink Revolution?

Unlike in Egypt, the peaceful protests in Yemen were not led by young people but by the traditional opposition, largely Islamists. And the opposition remained divided over whether to topple the Saleh government or simply push for changes.

But the potential for strife in the country is difficult to overstate. Yemen is troubled by a rebellion in the north and a struggle for secession in the once independent, Marxist south. In recent years, an affiliate of Al Qaeda has turned parts of the country, a rugged, often lawless region on the southwestern corner of the Arabian Peninsula, into a refuge beyond the state’s reach.

Added to the mix is a remarkably high proportion of armed citizens, some of whom treat Kalashnikov assault rifles as a fashion accessory.

“The opposition is afraid of what would happen if the regime falls,’’ said Khaled Alanesi, who also works with the human rights group in Sana, Yemen’s capital. “Afraid of the militant groups, Al Qaeda, the tribes and all the arms here.’’

The government responded to the protests by sending a large number of security forces into the streets, said Nasser Arrabyee, a Yemeni journalist in Sana....

The protests sprang from political divisions that began building in the country in October, when a dialogue collapsed between the opposition and Saleh, a 64-year-old strongman who has ruled his fractured country for more than three decades and is a crucial US ally in the fight against the Yemeni branch of Al Qaeda. Although Saleh’s term is supposed to end in 2013, proposed amendments to the Constitution could allow him to remain in power for two additional terms of 10 years.


 And the "problem" is only going to get worse:

"Analysis says Muslim population growth will outpace others" by Michelle Boorstein, Washington Post / January 28, 2011

WASHINGTON — The world’s Muslim population will grow at double the rate of non-Muslims over the next 20 years, according to a broad new demographic analysis that is likely to spark controversy in Europe and the United States....   


The analysis could fuel critics of Islam in Europe and the United States, who argue that the religion is at odds with Western values and worry that the number of Muslim extremists is on the rise.  

What, wars and looting based on lies not a Muslim value? 

Or it could calm those fears by providing evidence that Muslim populations in the West will remain relatively tiny.  

And yet to listen to the Zionist War Media of AmeriKa the barbarians are at the gates.

The study — which uses a dizzying mix of public and private data sources — makes it clear that even rapid growth among Muslims will not produce dramatic demographic shifts in most parts of the world.

Eighty-two percent of the world’s Muslims live in Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa....

“This will provide a garbage filter for hysterical claims people make about the size and growth of the Muslim population,’’ said Philip Jenkins, a religious history scholar known for his books on Christianity and Islam.   

We call it a newspaper here in AmeriKa.


Related: The uncomfortable lesson of the Mideast uprisings

Yeah, the USraeli war masters have to be shitting their pants right about now. 


Factions unite in Egyptian uprising
Egypt’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood and the secular opposition banded together yesterday around a prominent government critic to negotiate for forces seeking the fall of President Hosni Mubarak. (By Anthony Shadid and David D. Kirkpatrick, New York Times)

The street revolt in Egypt has thrown the Israeli government and military into turmoil, with top officials closeted in round-the-clock strategy sessions aimed at rethinking their most significant regional relationship. Israel’s military planning relies on peace with Egypt. Nearly half the natural gas it uses is imported from Egypt.   
Yeah, someone is crapping bricks.
Giora Eiland, a former national security adviser and senior fellow at Tel Aviv University, said even if Egypt did not cancel its peace treaty with Israel, a government dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood would mean “you can’t exclude the possibility of a war with Egypt.   

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday Globe Special: All That Jazz

"New Orleans strikes wrong chord; Renewal razes jazz landmarks" by Cain Burdeau, Associated Press / January 30, 2011

NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans’s heritage as the cradle of jazz helps it draw millions of visitors each year. Yet numerous homes and music halls that incubated the art form have disappeared, with the city allowing the most recent of them to be razed late last year.

In the push to rebuild from Hurricane Katrina and eliminate eyesores, officials unwittingly approved the demolition of the childhood home of jazz saxophone great Sidney Bechet. While many landmarks still stand, the city lacks markers at many places where pioneers lived and learned how to play.

Other cities have razed jazz history, too, but the spate of New Orleans demolitions in recent years has alarmed enthusiasts.

“They took a backhoe and knocked it down and hauled it away in a trailer,’’ said Melvin Peterson, a 76-year-old minister who lives across the street from where Bechet’s home was wrecked in October.

“They pulled up and went about tearing it down,’’ added his friend, Charles Spencer, 42. “The roof had fallen down, but it could have been fixed.’’

And just like that, the simple shotgun-style house where Bechet learned to play music has been added to the growing list of missing pieces to the story of jazz, which was born and bred in working-class New Orleans neighborhoods that few tourists venture into.

Xavier University music professor and clarinetist Michael White said he is disillusioned by the lack of preservation efforts by the city. “These homes should stand as monuments of creativity and something positive in the neighborhood,’’ he said.

This lament is heard elsewhere, too.

“A lot of jazz locations were in poor areas to start with; they just haven’t made it,’’ said Esley Hamilton, the preservation historian for St. Louis County, Mo. In St. Louis, jazz-era buildings in Gaslight Square, along the Mississippi riverfront and the Mill Creek Valley area were bulldozed.  

Now they know how Palestinians feel.



Nursing homes face challenges as more young people move in

The same generational tensions that exist outside nursing homes are inside them as well.

Older residents complain about loud music and visitors, younger residents complain about living with someone with dementia or being served creamed spinach.

For young people who find themselves newly disabled, instead of bingo night, there are poker games. Pizza is offered in place of lasagna; Mountain Dew and Coke are poured instead of coffee and tea.

Religious hospitals spark controversy with limits on care

Such disputes between hospitals and church authorities appear to be arising because of a confluence of factors.

Mossad Mole to Become Mayor

I'd rather he run Chicago than the White House -- although one wonders if Chicago is now destined for a nuclear detonation that will top 9/11. 

Given what is happening to U.S. puppets in the Middle East, the potential false flag is not that far fetched.

"Ill. high court clears way for Emanuel’s mayoral run in Chicago" by Don Babwin and Deanna Bellandi, Associated Press / January 28, 2011

CHICAGO — The Illinois Supreme Court put Rahm Emanuel back on the ballot for Chicago mayor yesterday, reviving his campaign to lead the country’s third-largest city.

The former White House chief of staff was thrown off the Feb. 22 ballot by an Illinois appellate court for not meeting a residency requirement because he had not lived in Chicago for a year before the race. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in his favor.  

Yeah, some people are above the law.

Emanuel lived in Washington for nearly two years while working for President Obama, until he moved back to Chicago in October to run for mayor.

Emanuel, who has said he always intended to return to Chicago and was only living in Washington at the request of the president, had asked the Supreme Court to overturn the appeals court ruling. Within minutes of the ruling, Emanuel was at a downtown Chicago public transit station shaking hands with residents.

He never stopped campaigning as the controversy evolved. His spokesman said Emanuel was en route to the campaign appearance when he got word of the ruling.

In their appeal, Emanuel’s lawyers called the appeals court ruling “one of the most far-reaching election law rulings’’ ever issued in Illinois, because of its effect on the mayoral race and for “the unprecedented restriction’’ it puts on future candidates.

The lawyers raised several points, including that the appeals court applied a stricter definition of residency than the one used for voters. They said Illinois courts have never required candidates to be physically present in the state to seek office there.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court called the appeals court’s basis for deciding Emanuel could not be on the ballot “without any foundation in Illinois law.’’

The mayoral race and Emanuel’s campaign had been thrown into disarray after the appeals court ruling on Monday. The following day, the state Supreme Court ordered Chicago elections officials to stop printing ballots without Emanuel’s name on them. The election officials said they had printed nearly 300,000 ballots without Emanuel’s name before they abruptly stopped.

Emanuel has been the heavy favorite to win the election and has raised more money than any of the other candidates vying to replace Richard M. Daley, who announced he was retiring after more than two decades as mayor.

After the appeals court ruling, Emanuel had been pressing ahead with confidence and said was doubling his campaign by adding more stops to his schedule. The other main candidates in the race — former senator Carol Moseley Braun, city clerk Miguel del Valle, and former Chicago schools chief Gery Chico — moved quickly to try to win over Emanuel supporters.


Also seeIll. court tosses Emanuel off Chicago’s mayoral ballot

Illinois Supreme Court agrees to consider Emanuel ballot appeal

Pentagon Cries Poverty

What an outrageous and offensive insult.

"Pentagon faces spending crisis, Gates warns; Tells Congress to act soon on military budget" by Craig Whitlock, Washington Post / January 28, 2011

OTTAWA — Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the Pentagon is facing a spending crisis and could be forced to make immediate cuts in training and operations because Congress has failed to approve a final budget for the military this year.

Gates said the Defense Department might have to cut projected spending by as much as $23 billion this year unless Congress acts soon. The Obama administration submitted its annual budget proposal of $549 billion for the Pentagon 11 months ago, but lawmakers have not taken a final vote.

In the meantime, Congress has agreed to temporarily fund the military and other branches of the government based on spending levels in the 2010 federal budget. That provides for about $526 billion in defense spending, Pentagon officials said, excluding the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I have a crisis on my doorstep, and I want them to deal with the crisis on my doorstep,’’ Gates said in an interview aboard his military aircraft Wednesday as he flew to Ottawa for meetings with Canadian defense officials.

Although Gates said US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan will probably be pretty well protected from any potential cuts this year, he said domestic training and maintenance would have to be curtailed for the Army, Air Force, and Navy.

“Frankly, that’s how you hollow out a military, even in wartime,’’ Gates said.

For nearly a decade after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Pentagon has benefited from huge spending increases authorized by Congress. 


But with the war in Iraq winding down and the US government facing record deficits, some in Congress have said the Pentagon should not escape scrutiny. And Gates has increasingly had to fight to shield the military from budget cutters.

On Jan. 6, Gates announced that the Obama administration would cut $78 billion over the next five years from the Pentagon’s long-term spending plan. While the Defense Department’s budget would continue to grow during that time, it would do so at a much slower pace and would barely exceed inflation by 2016.... 

While Gates said the Pentagon could live with those trims, he warned lawmakers at the time not to go deeper, saying further reductions would be “risky at best and potentially calamitous.’’

The expense of fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is also expected to drop substantially in the coming years.

In the interview Wednesday, Gates said the Obama administration would ask Congress for $120 billion in supplemental funding for the wars in 2012, down from the $159 billion it sought for this year.

Remember back when Obama said he was going to put it all on budget and ask for no more supplementals? 

Although Obama has expanded the war in Afghanistan — about 97,000 troops are deployed there now, roughly triple the number when he took office two years ago — US involvement in Iraq is unwinding rapidly. All US troops are scheduled to return from Iraq by the end of the year.   

But we are in no hurry.

Even as Gates tries to fend off demands from deficit hawks to cut more, he is confronting concern from other lawmakers who argue that he has gone too far.

Representative Howard “Buck’’ McKeon, a California Republican who is the new chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has said he is not happy with the proposed $78 billion in long-term reductions, adding that it makes little sense to talk about shrinking the Army and Marine Corps while the nation is still fighting two wars....   

Then let's end them!

Some lawmakers, mindful of the economic benefits that defense contractors bring to their districts, questioned Gates’s decision to kill the Marines’ amphibious landing craft, known as the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. Still others criticized the Pentagon’s proposal to increase health care premiums for military retirees for the first time since 1995.... 

Gates’s battles with Congress come as his four-year tenure as defense secretary is nearing an end. He has said he hopes to retire this year.

In the interview, he would not answer when asked for specifics about his retirement plans.

“My lips are sealed,’’ he said, before adding, “I’m going to be around for a number of months.’’

Then Joe Lieberman will be taking over. 


Related: New policy on gays may start this year

Transgender veterans seek recognition

“This is not [just] an Army problem. This is a civilian problem that we’re receiving, and fixing.’’  

Yeah, the military is great at "fixing" things. 

Just look at the rebuilding jobs they have done in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Stinky Cover-Ups

Coal firm disputes US findings on W.Va. blast

Also see: Coal Miner's Slaughter 

Companies blame government, government blames the companies, and the regulators run through the revolving door.  

Related: Massey will merge with Alpha Natural

Utility can’t find key gas records, official says


Also see: San Bruno Suffers Indigestion

Sunday Globe Special: Clarridge's CIA

One might even say he is Eclipsing them:

"Ex-CIA agent runs his own spy network; Sends operatives to expose secrets of Afghan figures" by Mark Mazzetti, New York Times / January 23, 2011

WASHINGTON — Duane R. Clarridge parted company with the CIA more than two decades ago, but from poolside at his home near San Diego, he still runs a network of spies.  

Does one ever really leave the Agency?

Over the past two years, he has fielded operatives in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Since the US military cut off his funding in May, he has relied on like-minded private donors to pay his agents to continue gathering information about militant fighters, Taliban leaders, and the secrets of Kabul’s ruling class.

Hatching schemes that are something of a cross between a Graham Greene novel and Mad Magazine’s “Spy vs. Spy,’’ Clarridge has sought to discredit Ahmed Wali Karzai, the Kandahar power broker who has long been on the CIA payroll, and planned to set spies on his half brother, the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, in hopes of collecting beard trimmings or other DNA samples that might prove Clarridge’s suspicions that the Afghan leader was a heroin addict, associates say.

Clarridge, 78, who was indicted on charges of lying to Congress in the Iran-contra scandal and later pardoned, is described by those who have worked with him as driven by the conviction that Washington is bloated with bureaucrats and lawyers who impede American troops in fighting adversaries and that leaders are overly reliant on mercurial allies.

His dispatches have been sent to military officials who, until last spring at least, found some credible enough to be used in planning strikes against militants in Afghanistan. They are also fed to conservative commentators, including Oliver L. North, a compatriot from the Iran-contra days and now a Fox News analyst.

It shows how the outsourcing of military and intelligence operations has spawned legally murky clandestine operations that can be at cross-purposes with America’s foreign policy goals.... 

Gimme a break!!!

The private spying operation, which The New York Times disclosed last year, was tapped by a military desperate for information about its enemies and frustrated with the quality of intelligence from the CIA.... 

Clarridge declined to be interviewed, but issued a statement that likened his operation, called the Eclipse Group, to the Office of Strategic Services, the CIA’s World War II precursor.

“OSS was a success of the past,’’ he wrote. “Eclipse may possibly be an effective model for the future, providing information to officers and officials of the United States government who have the sole responsibility of acting on it or not.’’

From his days running secret wars for the CIA in Central America to his consulting work in the 1990s on a plan to insert Special Operations troops in Iraq to oust Saddam Hussein, Clarridge has been an unflinching cheerleader for US intervention overseas.  

Meaning he has blood all over his hands.

Clarridge was born into a staunchly Republican family in New Hampshire, attended Brown University, and joined the spy agency during its freewheeling early years. He eventually became head of the agency’s Latin America division in 1981 and helped found the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center.


Leaving Lockheed

"600 Lockheed executives will retire" Bloomberg News, by  September 9, 2010

WASHINGTON — Lockheed Martin Corp., the world’s largest defense company, said about 25 percent of its executives opted for a voluntary retirement program designed to cut costs as US defense spending slows.... 

“It’s a significant cut’’ at the executive management level, rather than the “C-suite level,’’ said Gail Meneley, a cofounder of executive transition firm Shields Meneley Partners in Chicago. C-suite refers to top managers with title acronyms that begin with the letter C, such as chief financial officer.

Lockheed is the second US defense contractor this week to announce cuts in its executive ranks. Boeing Co. said Tuesday it would reduce by 10 percent the managerial jobs at its military aircraft unit as part of a broader effort to eliminate 400 positions in the defense division.

Boeing’s defense unit, which makes F-15 and F/A-18 jet fighters, accounted for about 50 percent of its 2009 sales.

Lockheed’s profit this year, excluding some items, may be $7.15 to $7.35 a share on sales of $45.5 billion to $46.5 billion, the company said in July....


Geithner's Gibberish

And the Boston Globe's:

Treasury official says future bailouts won’t be needed

FDIC will spread losses in future bailouts


US near default, Geithner warns

“Failure to increase the limit would be deeply irresponsible,’’ Geithner wrote, and added: “It is important to emphasize that changing the debt limit does not alter or increase the obligations we have as a nation; it simply permits the Treasury to fund those obligations Congress has already established’’ — under presidents and Congresses of both parties.

A failure to increase the limit in time would force the Treasury to default on legal obligations and payments to bondholders here and abroad “causing catastrophic damage to the economy,’’ Geithner said, threatening the dollar and stopping payments for a range of federal benefits, including military salaries, Social Security, and Medicare.

RelatedFed continues to back $600b Treasury bond-buying program

Fed not ready to slow bond-buying program

Fed’s task now is to watch and wait

Higher rates a plus, Bernanke says

Talk about threatening the dollar!  

As long as he keeps that printing press rolling prices will keep going up! 

Also see:

"Last March, the Fed completed the purchase of $1.25 trillion in mortgage-backed securities, and in November, it began buying $600 billion in Treasury bonds. Interest income from its investment portfolio has produced record profits for the Fed for two consecutive years. But over time, when economic conditions improve, the portfolio could become a risk."

Yeah, somehow the Fed made a profit from repurchasing crap.  Amazing. 

I need to stop flushing and start selling!! 

Guarded praise for Citi bailout

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program Neil Barofsky, that creating measurements for systemic risk was impossible because firms would “migrate around’’ the criteria, according to report.

Geithner led the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in 2008 when regulators allowed Lehman Brothers Holdings to fail and then bailed out American International Group in the same week. “It depends too much on the state of the world at the time,’’ the report cited Geithner as saying. “You won’t be able to make a judgment about what’s systemic and what’s not until you know the nature of the shock’’ the economy is undergoing.

Then why are you guys in charge at all if you don;t know WTF you are doing?

Geithner said that “we may have to do exceptional things again’’ if the shock to the financial system is large enough, the report said....  

Meaning the "bailouts" to Wall Street will NEVER END!

Citigroup paid back $20 billion of its bailout funds and the Treasury converted the remaining $25 billion into a 27 percent stake in the bank, which it began selling last year. It sold the last of its investment in December, realizing an overall gain for taxpayers of about $12 billion....

And if you believe that I have a bridge to sell you, dear readers.

Citigroup may report on Jan. 18 net income of $11.5 billion for 2010, according to analysts’ estimates. The bank posted combined losses of $29.3 billion in 2008 and 2009.

Related: Citigroup posts a disappointing profit of $1.31b    

I'd be happy with it.

"Geithner reiterates unemployment concerns; Growth too weak to cut jobless rate, he says" b Simon Kennedy and Jana Randow, Bloomberg News / January 29, 2011

DAVOS, Switzerland — Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said yesterday that the US economic expansion is still too weak to slash unemployment or a budget deficit headed for $1.5 trillion.

“There’s much more confidence now that we’ve got a sustainable expansion,’’ Geithner told the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting here. “It’s not a boom. It’s not an expansion that’s going to offer a rapid decline in unemployment.’’

While the Dow Jones industrial average this week passed 12,000 in intraday trading for the first time since June 2008 and more data suggested the recovery is gathering momentum, the jobless rate remains above 9 percent. Such weak spots are tempering the optimism on display this week as 2,500 executives, economists, and lawmakers meet in the Swiss Alps.

“The good news is in the US we’re seeing renewed growth,’’ Joe Saddi, chairman of consulting firm Booz & Co., said. “There is still an unemployment situation and it remains to be seen if there is a credible strategy for dealing with the deficit.’’

Geithner, 49, is the first Treasury secretary to visit Davos in 11 years and the highest-ranking member of President Obama’s administration yet to attend the conference.  

Translation: The U.S. economy is in SERIOUS TROUBLE!

In an hourlong interview with broadcaster Charlie Rose, he said that while the budget deficit is “unsustainable,’’ it would be a mistake to threaten the recovery by cutting the shortfall prematurely. He also said pressure on US state budgets is “diminishing, not intensifying’’ and that he’ll soon outline a plan for the future of US-owned mortgage companies.  


"Growing deficits have states looking to curb labor unions’ power" by Steven Greenhouse, New York Times / January 4, 2011

NEW YORK — Faced with growing budget deficits and restive taxpayers, elected officials from Maine to Alabama, Ohio to Arizona, are pushing new legislation to limit the power of labor unions, particularly those representing government workers, in collective bargaining and politics.

State officials from both parties are wrestling with ways to curb the salaries and pensions of government employees, which typically make up a significant percentage of state budgets.... 

In some cases — mostly in states with Republican governors and Republican statehouse majorities — officials are seeking more far-reaching, structural changes that would weaken the bargaining power and political influence of unions, including private sector ones.... 

But it is not only Republicans who are seeking to rein in unions.... 

Many of the state officials pushing for union-related changes say they want to restore some balance, arguing unions have become too powerful, skewing political campaigns with their large war chests and throwing state budgets off kilter with their expensive pension plans.

But labor leaders view these efforts as political retaliation by Republicans upset unions recently spent more than $200 million to defeat Republican candidates.

“I see this as payback for the role we played in the 2010 elections,’’ said Gerald McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, the main union of state employees.

In October, McEntee’s union spent more than $90 million on the campaign to help Democrats.


"Public employees face wrath of strapped taxpayers; Union contracts criticized amid budget crisis" by Michael Powell, New York Times / January 2, 2011

FLEMINGTON, N.J. — Across the nation, a rising irritation with public employee unions is palpable as a wounded economy has blown gaping holes in state, city, and town budgets and revealed that some public pension funds dangle perilously close to bankruptcy. In California, New York, Michigan, and New Jersey, states where public unions wield much power and the culture historically tends to be prolabor, even longtime liberal political leaders have demanded concessions — wage freezes, benefit cuts, and tougher work rules.

It is an angry conversation. Union chiefs, who sometimes persuaded members to take pension sweeteners in lieu of raises, are loath to surrender ground. Taxpayers are split between those who want cuts and those who hope that rising tax receipts might bring easier choices.

And a growing cadre of political leaders and municipal finance experts argue that much of the edifice of municipal and state finance is jury-rigged and, without new revenue, perhaps unsustainable. Too many political leaders, they argue, acted too irresponsibly, failing to either raise taxes or cut spending.

A brutal reckoning awaits, they say.  

All so BANKERS and "investors" can get paid!

These battles play out in many corners, but few are more passionate than in New Jersey....

Assemblyman Paul D. Moriarty, a liberal Democrat, served four years as mayor of Washington Township. As the bill for pension and health benefits for town employees soared, he struggled to explain this to constituents.

“We really should not receive benefits any better than the people we serve,’’ he says. “It leads to a lot of resentment against public employees.’’

All of which can sound logical, except that, as Moriarty also acknowledges, such thinking also “leads to a race to the bottom.’’ That is, as businesses cut private sector benefits, pressure grows on government to cut pay and benefits for its employees.
But Wall Street had its best year ever.


Also see: Many states shun or delay major public works projects

States face big budget gaps, little chance of improvement

Sorry I didn't have the time (or will) to read those last two, readers; however, you get my point.

Back to the gibberish: 

Turning abroad, Geithner said some emerging nations could soften their links to the dollar and expressed confidence the euro will be “held together.’’ 

Related: Geithner warns Beijing on currency  

Yeah, it's all China's fault.

Asked if he will remain Treasury secretary in coming years, he said, “I’m tempted to say I hope not,’’ before retreating to his traditional stance that he will serve for as long as Obama wants.

Geithner met Thursday with chief executives of financial companies to discuss progress in implementing regulatory reforms. Attendees included JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Jamie Dimon, Bank of America’s Brian Moynihan, Standard Chartered’s Peter Sands, and Barclays’ Robert Diamond. Geithner agreed with their request for more clarity on regulation, UniCredit SpA CEO Federico Ghizzoni told reporters after the session.

Geithner must appear at such events to maintain foreign demand for US securities as the budget gap swells, said William Browder, chief executive officer of London-based Hermitage Capital Management. 

Translation: NO ONE WANTS TO BUY our WORTHLESS BONDS anymore, Americans!!

That is why the FED HAS to do it!

If Treasury secretaries “didn’t feel like coming to Davos before, they need to do so now to continue to sell their bonds,’’ said Browder.

The recovery in the world’s largest economy has picked up steam since the end of last year, with home sales, industrial production, and consumer spending rising.  

If you repeat a lie often enough.... 

Data released yesterday will show gross domestic product probably expanded at a 3.5 percent annual pace in the fourth quarter, up from 2.6 percent in the previous three months, according to the median estimate of 85 forecasts in a Bloomberg News survey.

The improved economic outlook is prompting global investors to increasingly favor the United States, with 37 percent of respondents to this month’s Bloomberg Global Poll naming it one of their preferred places to invest, up from 23 percent in November. More than half described the US economy as improving, up from a third. Almost two-thirds predicted the Standard & Poor’s 500 index will rise over the next six months.  

Yeah, unemployment is still increasing and foreclosures accelerating, but... sigh.


See why I'm sick of business BS from the bankster's paper?

Slow Saturday Special: Building a Business Insult

Just one of the reasons I so often skip the business section of the Boston Globe.

"State of Americans’ personal finances offers some reasons for optimism" by Dave Carpenter Associated Press / January 29, 2011

CHICAGO — Just as President Obama took a reassuring tone in the State of the Union address, there are reasons for optimism when it comes to our personal finances.

The stock market has come back, companies are starting to hire again, and economists are increasingly upbeat about the future. But unemployment remains stuck at more than 9 percent, home prices are falling, and the pace of foreclosures is accelerating.  


"A report from the Labor Department showed applications for jobless benefits increased by 51,000 to 454,000 in the week ended Jan. 22." 

I'm so tired of being lied to by s***-shoveling "reporters."

One positive dividend from the hard times: Many have learned to be more conservative in their money habits....
Unless you are part of the wealthy elite or the war-mongering U.S. government. 

From what I've heard bankers are buying $150 hamburgers and showing off their $100,000 watches.


Sunday Globe Special: Presidential Pssst

Isn't the front page a bit loud, Globe?? 


"Ron Paul: The Texan is entering his 11th term in Congress. He has twice run for president -- in 1988 as the Libertarian nominee and again in 2008 for the Republican nomination -- and attracted a devoted following. He consistently performs well in straw polls of the party faithful, including the Conservative Political Action Conference poll last year.   

Related: Sunday Globe Special: Ron Paul Places Second in New Hampshire Straw Poll  

Yeah, he had all those lawn signs up there last time and no votes(?). 

His son, Rand, just won a US Senate seat in Kentucky.  

Who just stepped in doo-doo by suggesting aid to Israel be eliminated.  

Welcome to Washington, Rand.  

He has said he would consider another presidential campaign, but he has also said he's mulling a US Senate bid in Texas.   

Oh, I LIKE THAT IDEA!  A father-and-son team in the Senate!


Ron didn't make the front-page piece, but why would that be surprising?

"Tea Party activists train to be candidates" by Michael Levenson, Globe Staff / January 30, 2011

WORCESTER — Among the key lessons for first-time Tea Party candidates: Talk about issues that “regular people’’ care about. That means candidates should not “geek out about the Fed,’’ and other pet issues debated within the movement, said Chris Faulkner, a direct-mail guru who helped lead the training.  

Yeah, don't talk about the real issues and ills of the society.

Faulkner organized the direct-mail campaign for Scott Brown’s Senate campaign last year.  

As if Brownie is the be-all and end-all of teabags. 

Turns out hardcore Tea Party is angry at him. 

WTF, Globe?

Instead, try talking about a $1 billion bond for a local sewer project, Faulkner said.

“I do believe in making things relevant,’’ he said. “Fundamentally, you know that protesting doesn’t change much. It’s what you do to follow through that matters.’’

Tell that to the masses rising up in Europe and the Arab world -- although it is certainly true about AmeriKa.  That's how I ended up here.