Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hugo Chavez wants Venezuela to build nuclear programme

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has announced he wants the country to develop a nuclear programme with the help of Russia. He insists, as do the Iranians, that it would be for purely peaceful purposes. ...

Plant slams door on Led Zep tour

Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant has scotched rumours that he is to tour with the band, describing speculation as "frustrating and ridiculous".

Last week, The Sun newspaper reported that he had agreed to a reunion tour.

But he has not and will not go on the road with anyone for at least two years after finishing US dates with Alison Krauss on 5 October, a statement said.

"Contrary to a spate of recent reports, Robert Plant will not be touring or recording with Led Zeppelin," it said.

"Anyone buying tickets online to any such event will be buying bogus tickets."

It's both frustrating and ridiculous for this story to continue to rear its head
Robert Plant

The rock legends got back together for a one-off concert, their first for 19 years, in London last December.

At the time, promoters said 20 million people tried to register for tickets as soon as they became available.

Speculation has since been rife that the surviving members of the band, with Jason Bonham, son of their late drummer John, would hit the road for a highly lucrative tour.

"It's both frustrating and ridiculous for this story to continue to rear its head when all the musicians that surround the story are keen to get on with their individual projects and move forward," Plant said.

"I wish Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham nothing but success with any future projects."


Monday, September 29, 2008

Nothing Goes Better With A Swift Screwing By The US Government than a Cute Kitten Picture

Chavez eyes Russia nuclear help

Hugo Chavez - 28/09/2008
Mr Chavez said he wanted nuclear power for energy and medical uses

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says he wants to develop a civilian nuclear power programme with Russia's help.

Mr Chavez emphasised that he wanted nuclear power only for peaceful ends, citing energy and medical purposes.

His remarks follow last week's comments by Russian PM Vladimir Putin that Moscow was ready to consider nuclear co-operation with Venezuela.

Such a move would be likely to increase US concerns at the growing ties between the two nations, correspondents say.

"We certainly are interested in developing nuclear energy, for peaceful ends of course, for medical purposes and to generate electricity," Mr Chavez told a political rally in Caracas.

"Brazil has various nuclear reactors, as does Argentina. We will have ours and Vladimir told the media: Russia is ready to help Venezuela develop nuclear energy for peaceful ends," he said, adding that a commission was already working on the issue.

Naval exercise

President Chavez was speaking after a global tour last week that included a stop in Russia.

During his visit, Mr Chavez signed accords on energy co-operation with his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev.

Mr Putin also indicated that Russia "was ready to consider the possibility" of working with Venezuela to build nuclear power facilities.

Russia and Venezuela have been increasing their ties in recent months. Russian warships are currently en route to the Caribbean Sea for joint exercises with the Venezuelan navy.

Venezuela is one of the best customers of the Russian defence industry, signing weapons contracts worth some $4.4bn (£2.39bn).

A staunch critic of the US, Mr Chavez backed Russian intervention in Georgia and has accused Washington of being scared of Moscow's "new world potential".

The Rich Are Staging a Coup This Morning ...a message from Michael Moore


Let me cut to the chase. The biggest robbery in the history of this country is taking place as you read this. Though no guns are being used, 300 million hostages are being taken. Make no mistake about it: After stealing a half trillion dollars to line the pockets of their war-profiteering backers for the past five years, after lining the pockets of their fellow oilmen to the tune of over a hundred billion dollars in just the last two years, Bush and his cronies -- who must soon vacate the White House -- are looting the U.S. Treasury of every dollar they can grab. They are swiping as much of the silverware as they can on their way out the door.

No matter what they say, no matter how many scare words they use, they are up to their old tricks of creating fear and confusion in order to make and keep themselves and the upper one percent filthy rich. Just read the first four paragraphs of the lead story in last Monday's New York Times and you can see what the real deal is:

"Even as policy makers worked on details of a $700 billion bailout of the financial industry, Wall Street began looking for ways to profit from it. "Financial firms were lobbying to have all manner of troubled investments covered, not just those related to mortgages. "At the same time, investment firms were jockeying to oversee all the assets that Treasury plans to take off the books of financial institutions, a role that could earn them hundreds of millions of dollars a year in fees. "Nobody wants to be left out of Treasury's proposal to buy up bad assets of financial institutions."

Unbelievable. Wall Street and its backers created this mess and now they are going to clean up like bandits. Even Rudy Giuliani is lobbying for his firm to be hired (and paid) to "consult" in the bailout.

The problem is, nobody truly knows what this "collapse" is all about. Even Treasury Secretary Paulson admitted he doesn't know the exact amount that is needed (he just picked the $700 billion number out of his head!). The head of the congressional budget office said he can't figure it out nor can he explain it to anyone.

And yet, they are screeching about how the end is near! Panic! Recession! The Great Depression! Y2K! Bird flu! Killer bees! We must pass the bailout bill today!! The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

Falling for whom? NOTHING in this "bailout" package will lower the price of the gas you have to put in your car to get to work. NOTHING in this bill will protect you from losing your home. NOTHING in this bill will give you health insurance.

Health insurance? Mike, why are you bringing this up? What's this got to do with the Wall Street collapse?

It has everything to do with it. This so-called "collapse" was triggered by the massive defaulting and foreclosures going on with people's home mortgages. Do you know why so many Americans are losing their homes? To hear the Republicans describe it, it's because too many working class idiots were given mortgages that they really couldn't afford. Here's the truth: The number one cause of people declaring bankruptcy is because of medical bills. Let me state this simply: If we had had universal health coverage, this mortgage "crisis" may never have happened.

This bailout's mission is to protect the obscene amount of wealth that has been accumulated in the last eight years. It's to protect the top shareholders who own and control corporate America. It's to make sure their yachts and mansions and "way of life" go uninterrupted while the rest of America suffers and struggles to pay the bills. Let the rich suffer for once. Let them pay for the bailout. We are spending 400 million dollars a day on the war in Iraq. Let them end the war immediately and save us all another half-trillion dollars!

I have to stop writing this and you have to stop reading it. They are staging a financial coup this morning in our country. They are hoping Congress will act fast before they stop to think, before we have a chance to stop them ourselves. So stop reading this and do something -- NOW! Here's what you can do immediately:

1. Call or e-mail Senator Obama. Tell him he does not need to be sitting there trying to help prop up Bush and Cheney and the mess they've made. Tell him we know he has the smarts to slow this thing down and figure out what's the best route to take. Tell him the rich have to pay for whatever help is offered. Use the leverage we have now to insist on a moratorium on home foreclosures, to insist on a move to universal health coverage, and tell him that we the people need to be in charge of the economic decisions that affect our lives, not the barons of Wall Street.

2. Take to the streets. Participate in one of the hundreds of quickly-called demonstrations that are taking place all over the country (especially those near Wall Street and DC).

3. Call your Representative in Congress and your Senators. (click here to find their phone numbers). Tell them what you told Senator Obama.

When you screw up in life, there is hell to pay. Each and every one of you reading this knows that basic lesson and has paid the consequences of your actions at some point. In this great democracy, we cannot let there be one set of rules for the vast majority of hard-working citizens, and another set of rules for the elite, who, when they screw up, are handed one more gift on a silver platter. No more! Not again!

Yours, Michael Moore MMFlint@aol.com MichaelMoore.com

P.S. Having read further the details of this bailout bill, you need to know you are being lied to. They talk about how they will prevent golden parachutes. It says NOTHING about what these executives and fat cats will make in SALARY. According to Rep. Brad Sherman of California, these top managers will continue to receive million-dollar-a-month paychecks under this new bill. There is no direct ownership given to the American people for the money being handed over. Foreign banks and investors will be allowed to receive billion-dollar handouts. A large chunk of this $700 billion is going to be given directly to Chinese and Middle Eastern banks. There is NO guarantee of ever seeing that money again.

P.P.S. From talking to people I know in DC, they say the reason so many Dems are behind this is because Wall Street this weekend put a gun to their heads and said either turn over the $700 billion or the first thing we'll start blowing up are the pension funds and 401(k)s of your middle class constituents. The Dems are scared they may make good on their threat. But this is not the time to back down or act like the typical Democrat we have witnessed for the last eight years. The Dems handed a stolen election over to Bush. The Dems gave Bush the votes he needed to invade a sovereign country. Once they took over Congress in 2007, they refused to pull the plug on the war. And now they have been cowered into being accomplices in the crime of the century. You have to call them now and say "NO!" If we let them do this, just imagine how hard it will be to get anything good done when President Obama is in the White House. THESE DEMOCRATS ARE ONLY AS STRONG AS THE BACKBONE WE GIVE THEM. CALL CONGRESS NOW.

Ecuador votes on new powers for Leftist President Rafael Correa

President Rafael Correa was expected to cement his Leftist rule for the next decade as Ecuadorians voted on Sunday on a new constitution that will dramatically expand his powers.

The rewritten constitution gives the 45-year-old US-educated economist, a key ally of socialist President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, more power to regulate the economy and increase spending on health and education.

"Ecuador needs a profound, radical and quick change, a citizens' revolution", said Mr Correa, insisting the new constitution is the only way to avoid further civil strife, political instability and inequality in a country that has had five presidents in the last decade, with none completing a full term in office.

The new constitution ensures that those who work in the home are eligible for social security, grants free healthcare to the elderly, gives fathers the right to paternity leave, ends military conscription, lowers the voting age to 16 and allows soldiers and police the right to vote for the first time.

"Now we are going to have a system that favours the poor, instead of stacking the cards against us and giving all the privileges to the rich," said student Amalia Torres, 23, as she queued to vote in the capital Quito.

However, President Correa has challenged the power of the Catholic Church by granting same-sex unions the same rights as heterosexual marriages and loosening laws on abortion. Senior clergy have cautioned against the reforms, prompting the government to demand that the Catholic Church stop interfering in politics.

The opposition insists that Mr Correa plans to suppress free speech and perpetuate himself in power.

The changes will radically strengthen the powers of the presidency, allowing Mr Correa to appoint senior members of the judiciary, supplant the central bank, expropriate assets "in the national interest" and stand for re-election, something previously banned, meaning he could govern until 2017.

"What is in play here is that presidential powers will be much wider," said analyst Jorge Leon Trujillo from Quito. "With the excuse of establishing order and stability, the constitution is giving great power to the Executive."

Polls suggest Ecuadorians are not overly alarmed by opposition accusations, however, and believe the new constitution will mark a positive step in one of the most politically unstable nations in the region. Surveys suggested that the changes will be approved by between 55 and 60 percent of voters. A simple majority is all that is needed to turn the new constitution into law.

Mr Correa is following a path pioneered by Mr Chavez, who introduced a new constitution in 1999. Another ally, President Evo Morales of Bolivia, is also seeking to so the same, although violence, widespread protests and fears of separatism are sabotaging his efforts to get radical reforms approved.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008

Click the following links to view documents:

Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008

Summary of Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008

Section-by-Section of Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008

From 3 pages - to 110 pages...

Published: September 20, 2008



Section 1. Short Title.

This Act may be cited as ____________________.

Sec. 2. Purchases of Mortgage-Related Assets.

(a) Authority to Purchase.--The Secretary is authorized to purchase, and to make and fund commitments to purchase, on such terms and conditions as determined by the Secretary, mortgage-related assets from any financial institution having its headquarters in the United States.

(b) Necessary Actions.--The Secretary is authorized to take such actions as the Secretary deems necessary to carry out the authorities in this Act, including, without limitation:

(1) appointing such employees as may be required to carry out the authorities in this Act and defining their duties;

(2) entering into contracts, including contracts for services authorized by section 3109 of title 5, United States Code, without regard to any other provision of law regarding public contracts;

(3) designating financial institutions as financial agents of the Government, and they shall perform all such reasonable duties related to this Act as financial agents of the Government as may be required of them;

(4) establishing vehicles that are authorized, subject to supervision by the Secretary, to purchase mortgage-related assets and issue obligations; and

(5) issuing such regulations and other guidance as may be necessary or appropriate to define terms or carry out the authorities of this Act.

Sec. 3. Considerations.

In exercising the authorities granted in this Act, the Secretary shall take into consideration means for--

(1) providing stability or preventing disruption to the financial markets or banking system; and

(2) protecting the taxpayer.

Sec. 4. Reports to Congress.

Within three months of the first exercise of the authority granted in section 2(a), and semiannually thereafter, the Secretary shall report to the Committees on the Budget, Financial Services, and Ways and Means of the House of Representatives and the Committees on the Budget, Finance, and Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs of the Senate with respect to the authorities exercised under this Act and the considerations required by section 3.

Sec. 5. Rights; Management; Sale of Mortgage-Related Assets.

(a) Exercise of Rights.--The Secretary may, at any time, exercise any rights received in connection with mortgage-related assets purchased under this Act.

(b) Management of Mortgage-Related Assets.--The Secretary shall have authority to manage mortgage-related assets purchased under this Act, including revenues and portfolio risks therefrom.

(c) Sale of Mortgage-Related Assets.--The Secretary may, at any time, upon terms and conditions and at prices determined by the Secretary, sell, or enter into securities loans, repurchase transactions or other financial transactions in regard to, any mortgage-related asset purchased under this Act.

(d) Application of Sunset to Mortgage-Related Assets.--The authority of the Secretary to hold any mortgage-related asset purchased under this Act before the termination date in section 9, or to purchase or fund the purchase of a mortgage-related asset under a commitment entered into before the termination date in section 9, is not subject to the provisions of section 9.

Sec. 6. Maximum Amount of Authorized Purchases.

The Secretary’s authority to purchase mortgage-related assets under this Act shall be limited to $700,000,000,000 outstanding at any one time

Sec. 7. Funding.

For the purpose of the authorities granted in this Act, and for the costs of administering those authorities, the Secretary may use the proceeds of the sale of any securities issued under chapter 31 of title 31, United States Code, and the purposes for which securities may be issued under chapter 31 of title 31, United States Code, are extended to include actions authorized by this Act, including the payment of administrative expenses. Any funds expended for actions authorized by this Act, including the payment of administrative expenses, shall be deemed appropriated at the time of such expenditure.

Sec. 8. Review.

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

Sec. 9. Termination of Authority.

The authorities under this Act, with the exception of authorities granted in sections 2(b)(5), 5 and 7, shall terminate two years from the date of enactment of this Act.

Sec. 10. Increase in Statutory Limit on the Public Debt.

Subsection (b) of section 3101 of title 31, United States Code, is amended by striking out the dollar limitation contained in such subsection and inserting in lieu thereof $11,315,000,000,000.

Sec. 11. Credit Reform.

The costs of purchases of mortgage-related assets made under section 2(a) of this Act shall be determined as provided under the Federal Credit Reform Act of 1990, as applicable.

Sec. 12. Definitions.

For purposes of this section, the following definitions shall apply:

(1) Mortgage-Related Assets.--The term “mortgage-related assets” means residential or commercial mortgages and any securities, obligations, or other instruments that are based on or related to such mortgages, that in each case was originated or issued on or before September 17, 2008.

(2) Secretary.--The term “Secretary” means the Secretary of the Treasury.

(3) United States.--The term “United States” means the States, territories, and possessions of the United States and the District of Columbia.

Bin Laden - The Wedding Poet

POETRY by Osama Bin Laden is to be published next week by an Oxford-educated academic, who has discovered that the world’s most hated terrorist was once in great demand as an after-dinner speaker.

Bin Laden’s recitals at wedding banquets and other feasts during the 1990s were recorded on tapes recovered from his compound in Afghanistan in 2001, after the September 11 attacks.

They have been studied by Professor Flagg Miller, who teaches Arabic poetry at the University of California, Davis. He said: “Bin Laden is a skilled poet with clever rhymes and meters, which was one reason why many people taped him and passed recordings around, like pop songs.”

The first lines of one poem read: “A youth who plunges into the smoke of war smiling stains the blades of lances red. May God not let my eye stray from the most eminent humans, lest they fall.”

The verse goes on to portray Bin Laden himself as a “warrior poet”, whose words will lead his followers to an idyllic refuge in the Hindu Kush mountains.

“He frequently uses mountains as metaphors,” Miller added. “As borders they separate Arabs from each other but mountains can also help them from the temptations of the secular world .”

Miller first heard the tapes four years ago when FBI translators were scrutinising them for coded messages to sleeper cells. He identified up to 20 featuring the “distinctive monotone ” of Bin Laden.

Extracts from the tapes will appear in the October issue of the journal Language and Communication.

“They reveal Osama Bin Laden as the performer, the entertainer with an agenda,” Miller said. “He told gory tales of dead mujaheddin from the villages where he was speaking, which was often the first time their families had learned of their fates. He mixed this news up with radical theology and his own verse based on the traditions of hamasa - a warlike poetic tradition from Oman calculated to capture the interest of young men.”

Miller said Bin Laden was calculating. “He crafts his words to excite the urban dissatisfied youth, offering them escape from their elders and villages. Instead, many just die in terrible ways.”

Other Arabic specialists are unhappy that the tapes have come to light. “They seem adolescent and brutal, like a video nasty, composed with minimal skill to win over the susceptible mind of the young and bloodthirsty male,” said one academic, who did not want to be named.“Whatever else Bin Laden is, he is now exposed as a disgrace to two millennia of Arabic culture.”

While Miller prepares to write a book analysing Bin Laden’s poetry and its role in jihad, the tapes are going to Yale University where they will be repaired and made available to scholars in 2010.

Click Here to Listen

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Art & Letters Daily

passiflora incarnata

On the RNC, Monica Bicking, Eryn Trimmer, and Protest

Wednesday Sep 3rd, 2008 8:18 AM
by Ian Bicking (repost)
Saturday morning my sister, Monica Bicking, and her boyfriend, Eryn Trimmer, were arrested in Minneapolis. Monica was released on Sunday, but Eryn and others are still in custody, and the police will try to keep them detained as long as possible.

They were arrested for "conspiracy to incite a riot". This is the same charge used against the Chicago 8 (or 7) at the 1968 Democratic Convention. Perhaps the police have a sense of tradition?

But more directly she and Eryn were arrested in an attempt to preemptively suppress the protests at the Republican National Convention. They were both very active with the RNC Welcoming Committee, which is a group coordinating and supporting some of the people coming to the Twin Cities for the convention.

Obviously I’m very concerned by the arrests and charges. But there’s been a huge outpouring of support from the community — both from activist in the Twin Cities, and from their neighbors. In Chicago I’m a little unsure about what to do.

Reading articles about the incidents (Glenn Greenwald’s post on Salon is a good one) I find myself mostly avoiding the comment sections. The comments fall into two categories: mean comments against the protesters, and reactionary comments with no real substance ("this is proof this country is a police state!") Activists generally understand what’s going on, and people of a right-wing/authoritarian bend are hardly going to be convinced of anything, but there’s a lot of progressive people out there who’ve never really been involved in any activism like this. There’s very little explaining the protests, the role of activists like my sister, and the philosophies they hold. Certainly the news makes no attempt, and unfortunately the activists themselves often speak from an unexplained perspective.

So I’d like to use this as an opportunity to explain my understanding of the role of protest, what’s going on at the RNC specifically, and what an "anarchist" really is. At the moment I can’t do a lot to help Eryn and Monica directly, but at least I can talk about her personally instead of another story about a named but otherwise anonymous "protester".

The Role Of Protest

It’s challenging to explain and justify protest, at least in this country and at this moment. Probably the biggest blow for protest as a useful form of political expression was the February 15, 2003 protests against the Iraq War. I say this because those were the largest protests the world has ever seen, estimated around 10 million people, and yet they did so little to stop the war.

That war is still with us, and is still the most significant motivation for the RNC protests. The war has gone through many phases since then — purported success, then clear failure by just about anyone’s definition, then ongoing failure labelled as success because of dramatically lowered expectations (the surge). Public opinion has moved several times, but is constrained by what is considered the reasonable options. These "reasonable" options are defined by the Democratic and Republican elite. Balance in news means inviting participation from partisans from those two parties. In this context the Democratic party had a practical landslide in 2006, driven primarily by anti-war sentiments, and then proceeded to do almost nothing to stop the war. If protest has failed, then so has electoral politics.

I don’t have any third path to offer, but I just want to make it clear: none of us know what is best to do, none of us have figured out the way to effect change. People complain protest doesn’t work. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t, but frankly most things don’t work. Doing nothing definitely doesn’t work, and frankly that’s what most of us are doing. It’s hard to take criticisms seriously when they are made from a stance of inaction.

What might the RNC protests accomplish?

First, it is an attempt to break out of a politics restricted to two perspectives. I believe, quite firmly, that "radical left" opinions are actually quite mainstream. This was also the goal of the DNC protests. This goal has become quite difficult to achieve. News stations generally ignore protest, and when they do cover protest they seldom talk about the actual issues.

Second, protests can attempt to disrupt normal activity. To be fair, this is probably better termed "civil disobedience", and I’m sure there will be civil disobedience in response to the RNC. One possible goal of civil disobedience is to make news — to be so disruptive that you simply can’t be ignored. And even if the news won’t say why you won’t be ignored, at least one message that can be made clear: everything is not okay. Another goals is simply to disrupt the RNC. This is a bringing together of many of the architects and profiteers of war. This is a convention that includes many people advocating torture.

It’s also a convention of people who buy the lines about the Republican party being "conservative" and supporting "family values" and whatever other bullshit. One argument goes: oh, these poor dullards and simpletons! Do not interrupt their harmless partying! Do not interrupt their absurd views! They deserve their delusions as much as anyone! I say: this stuff is too important to defer to the bullshit of this political grandstanding.

Are We In A Time Of War?

It is all too easy to fall into "protesting for the right to protest". Lest I fall into this, I want to make it clear: protest itself is not the goal. 600,000 Iraqis dead. And to what ends? No ends at all? Unlikely! There is a purpose. It is a purpose architected by people who would throw away hundreds of thousands of lives. People may argue about whether war is valid. I don’t believe it is, nor do Monica or Eryn, but whatever your feelings: this is not an abstract war. This is a specific war. And this specific war is a war made by liars, by people who treat human life lightly, by people whose primary ambition seems focused on power itself.

600,000 dead, and what’s so different in America? Do you feel this war? If you didn’t turn on the TV or listen to the news, what would remind you that we are at war? What would remind you of all that’s happened? We are a nation at war, and yet there is nothing to show us this, it has no presence. Our nation is so large, our institutions so abstracted, our military so partitioned from most of society… we are numb to war. Moving around while numbed is dangerous. You can’t feel what you are doing. A cut doesn’t hurt, a bruise is just a faint sensation. We are a numbed nation and this is dangerous.

If I was to give one reason for civil disobedience, it would be this: to acknowledge this war is real. This isn’t just a difference of opinion, this isn’t just a debate. This is about how we exercise our collective power, the power that is exercised in the form of the state. This is our war, whether we feel it or not.

One of the criticisms of civil disobedience is to say it deprives the Republicans of their free speech. First, this is absurd. No form of civil disobedience deprives them of free speech. No one is taping their mouths shut. No journalists are being detained by activists. No debate is stifled. The RNC’s request: we want to speak our lies without interruption, without distraction. The Republicans have through decades of whining managed to frame the debate, to redefine "common sense" and "conventional thinking", to move the Overton Window far to the right. Free speech does not mean they should not be challenged. Protest challenges the content of their speech, it doesn’t deny them of the ability to speak.

This is an aside, but for all the effort put into limiting the bounds of debate I don’t think the Republicans, or Bush, have really changed the country as much as they are given credit for. I don’t think people are as easily manipulated as that. I think our core values are not so easily affected. If we were not so numb I think it would all come rushing back.

On "Anarchism"

If you read the articles you will see Monica and Eryn called "self-described anarchists". This is true, they are anarchists. I will attempt, briefly and probably inaccurately, to describe what anarchism is.

Anarchism is, at it’s core, a belief in the individual, and a belief that good flows uniquely from the individual. Conversely, it believes that bad comes from institutions, from the abstractions we build between people. Anarchism is a belief in the power of empathy instead of laws. Instead of leading our lives according to principles that are passed down to us, anarchism says we should live our lives based on our personal reflections and decisions. We should be deliberate, we should not be obedient.

The RNC Welcoming Committee (the name is ironic) is a "anarchist/anti-authoritarian" organization. Ha ha you say, isn’t an anarchist organization an oxymoron? If you meet an anarchist this is the most tedious joke you could possibly make. Anarchism is, of course, a somewhat chaotic philosophy. And any anarchist should be a human first, and an anarchist second — anything else would be contrary to the very principles of anarchism! More practically, they form groups based on shared understandings and motivations, and there is nothing at all inconsistent about individuals working together — indeed it is interpersonal cooperation that is at the heart of anarchist traditions.

Do anarchists want to tear down all institutions? I guess some flavors of anarchist rhetoric make this claim. Looking in from the outside, it feels like some kind of phase adolescent male anarchists go through. There is an underlying lack of respect for institutions and authority, and this is genuine. But though they see nothing wrong with disrupting institutions, violence against people is not considered acceptable. Some would like to categorize property damage as violence, but I find this rather disrespectful of genuine violence. Things don’t feel pain or fear.

Discussions of anarchism tend to degrade very quickly because people are overly obsessed with self-consistency. For instance: how could an entire society run without laws, governments, police, taxes? There are answers and speculations, but we would all do better to make the world we want now and here. This is what actual anarchists do — running whole societies might be fun to theorize about, but building a community is actually attainable, and among progressive groups anarchists are probably the most enthusiastic community builders.

Lastly: why the term "anarchism"? It’s a scary term, though it’s derivation is simply from the term "without rulers". It’s been a term used to scare people for so long that it’s hard to separate the idea from the myth. People at time suggest alternative terms. But anarchism isn’t just a philosophy, it’s a tradition and culture and shared understanding, one that goes back over a hundred years. And anarchists don’t want to disassociate themselves from that tradition. And usually, what does it matter what other people think of the name? It is however awkward when the police are trying to label you as a dangerous extremist.


Reports have come out about violent protest. First, I want to talk about the facts related to this:

Actual incidents are often exaggerated or fabricated. For instance, in the case of the home raids things like paint, bottles, and rags were labeled as "the ingredients for making Molotov cocktails". I’m sure every reader of this post has sufficient ingredients to make a Molotov cocktail. Also, many people have hatchets, bricks, and other materials. Buckets of urine were particularly attention-grabbing, but the only reason for these was that one of the houses had a broken toilet. The police interpretation of the confiscated material is not credible.

There have also been reports of violence at the protests themselves. First it should be noted that there are no reports of police or by-standards being injured. I personally find it is hard to classify property damage as "violence". If you don’t include property damage then there doesn’t seem to be much evidence of violence.

Protest is confrontational. Some will suggest that protesters should obey police in all situations. They suggest that protesters should obey all laws and only protest where permitted. They suggest protesters should not be disruptive of anyone else. The result would not be protest. In cases like the RNC, where extensive planning was in place to counter protest, non-confrontational protest means protesting according to someone else’s plans, someone who has no desire for the protest to succeed in any way. Once you confront the police, there will be violence — usually by the police. And sure, you can stand with a flower in your hand and get a face full of pepper spray, and of course many people choose that course. It’s a noble choice, but I can’t fault people for making other tactical decisions.

Another protesting tactic is the "black bloq", typically a group of people who try to attract the attention of the police, often through property damage. If the police have nothing better to do, then why not pin down the peaceful protesters and direct them where they can make the least impact? People in the black bloq will try to keep this from happening. It’s unlikely they were at all successful at the RNC as it was so thoroughly militarized. You could debate whether this is a good strategy (and there is lots of debate about this), but probably few people outside activists have any idea that there even is any underlying strategy.

Also, if you wonder why protesters, especially the anarchists, dress the way they do, it is primarily defensive. If you are going to get teargassed and peppersprayed does wearing a handkerchief seem so odd? And if they are tracking people to preemptively arrest, all the more reason to be as anonymous as possible.

Monica and Eryn

I’d like to speak specifically of Monica and Eryn. Talking to Monica about the RNC protests, she was never actually that excited. The RNC isn’t what she wanted to focus on. Why focus on the thing you dislike? Why focus on a political process you don’t believe in? Why focus on the workings of institutions you wish didn’t exist? She would have preferred to work on the scale she felt was valid — to build a community of individuals. But of course events are larger than us, and by whatever coincidence the RNC was coming to the Twin Cities. This is not the sort of thing you can just ignore. And of course it wasn’t up to her whether there would be protests.

Monica and Eryn are competent and diligent, so of course they would become important to the organizing process. It seems that there were infiltrators in many of the organizations, so it’s unsurprising that the police knew who to find when they were getting ready to suppress the protests. The two of them had expected informants from early on. Monica herself worked for a year for the American Friends Service Committee (a Quaker charity and peace advocacy organization) at a time when they were being spied on because of purported fears of violent protest. If you are not aware of Quakerism, it is a quite strictly passivist faith, and the pretense for the spying was exceptionally absurd. So Monica was not particularly shocked that there would be spying in the lead up to the RNC.

The RNC Welcoming Committee is itself a coordinating organization. It was inevitable that many, many groups would want to protest at the RNC. There’s no lack of people who are angry. The Welcoming Committee served as a local resource for all those people — so visitors could find a place to stay in the city, so people could coordinate with each other, so people could perform their chosen form of protest in as well-informed a manner as possible. That it is being painted as an organization with criminal intent is a complete misrepresentation; the Welcoming Committee specifically has no intention of direction action.

The preemptive arrest was surprising to everyone. It is normal in the course of civil disobedience that some people expect to be arrested. Civil disobedience is confrontational. You have to go into it knowing that there will be certain consequences. Those are the consequences of the confrontation. They are not the consequences of the possibility might choose to be confrontational. As organizers I know Monica and Eryn weren’t planning on being arrested.

But I haven’t written this essay in anger over their arrest. Protest is conflict. The lines of conflict move, and I find this move to preemptive arrest quite troubling, but I’m also optimistic that they won’t ultimately be charged with anything. I also don’t want to slip into the protest-to-protest mode, more obsessed with the form of protest than the function of this protest. This is a frustrating turn of events, and I’m sure no one is more frustrated than the two of them — one sequestered in a jail, the other in legal limbo, at the culmination of all their work over the last year. But I didn’t write this essay out of anger but because I wanted to recognize what they’ve been doing and do my best to explain it to other people, because I’m proud of them. They are exactly the model of an engaged, ethically driven citizenry.

I see lots of comments like "this country is a fascist state!" and "this is just like Nazi Germany!" But of course this country is not those things. That’s what happens when the citizenry of a country stands down, when they look away from what’s happening right in front of them, when they ignore justice and discard empathy. This country is not those things because of Monica and Eryn and the thousands of people who will be present and paying attention when the RNC lands from on high.

A Few Words on Anarchy and America, by John Sussman

A spectre is haunting America – the spectre of the unreconstructed individual. He cannot, and will never be, a cog in the machine of other’s grand designs. The current electoral season, reported as a clash of worldviews, obscures the incredible consensus achieved by the ruling oligarchy: that the individual has no place outside of the system, no value unless validated by a popular ideology. Implicit in the nature of politics is the subjection of all that is unique and vibrant to an abstract, unaccountable, and utterly soulless machine.

This matrix of oppression is inimical to liberty, and therefore to life itself. The true individual, then, must stand against this, but her stance must be simultaneously outside of the simplistic and ultimately artificial categories that this system perpetuates. To choose one side or the other of a list of predetermined binaries is the illusion of choice; it presents no critical challenge to the prevailing order, and thus commits the double sin of inaction and intellectual sloth. The person who refuses either side of the coin is no partisan, nor an apathetic conformist, but is the true revolutionary.

If this is what I stand against – the endless navel-gazing and insufferable power-grabbing that defines government – than what do I stand for? This question is daunting at first, but upon reflection answers itself. In the truly anarchic environment, the individual is then – and only then – free to blossom into a fully-developed person, one who unfolds and matures along paths both of their own choosing and those dictated by chance, but never at the prescription of a Washington bureaucrat.

This spirit is at the heart of the American experience. Truly, American life is suffused with anarchism. And by anarchism I do not solely mean the wanton destruction of Seattle in 1999, or the ramblings of a college professor, or the doodling of a middle-school metalhead – I mean all of these and more, a burgeoning cornucopia of anarchisms. The peaceful exchange at a farmer’s market, the meeting of minds on a city street, and a contemplative sojourn through Appalachian forest – these are anarchisms as well, actualized boldly, free of the odious bonds of coercion. Some would consider this curiously rustic, but therein lies the charm and brilliance of American anarchism, in the heady combination of the radical and the reactionary – for how can one strike at the root without first clearing away the underbrush of accumulated assumptions? And how can one hope to undo the damage of arrogant, immoral institutions without first grasping at the heart of what it means to be human?

No one can seriously contend that those who vie for power can be trusted to curb themselves. Our leaders cry out for service, for money, for war; that is, they insist on our obedience, our labor, and our very lives. Submission, out of a sense of duty or out of fear, is the lowest form of cowardice. Active resistance is the only moral option. I beg of you: resist taxation! Refuse military enlistment! Smoke marijuana! Only in this way can we ward off the encroachments of elected tyrants. What is at stake is our freedom – and for that alone, no honest man gives up but with life itself.

Led Zeppelin finally agree to tour?

Reports state that the band - with Robert Plant in tow - will hit the road next year

  • Sep 26, 2008
Led Zeppelin are planning a full tour for next summer, with singer Robert Plant set to rejoin the band, according to reports in The Sun today (September 26). Despite their massively-successful reunion gig at London's O2 Arena last winter, the band have so far declined to confirm whether they will plan any more shows together. Initially, it was believed that singer Plant was against a full tour with the band. However, today's report claims that Plant is now ready to join guitarist Jimmy Page, bassist John Paul Jones and drummer Jason Bonham in rehearsals for a tour set to start next summer. An unnamed source told the newspaper: "He [Plant] realised he couldn't face the thought of not being involved. The band were over the moon when he told them the news."


Friday, September 26, 2008


A 26 Kaos

[22:25] A.: the way i'm going off on the blogosphere this evening ...it's very much like I haven't had my period for a year - like that SNL thing :) [22:25] Kaos: :) are you having your period? [22:26] A.: no. but it is due today [22:26] A.: or tomorrow. [22:27] A.: or the next day. [22:27] A.: according to my sources :) [22:27] A.: a bad day for a debate i would say :) [22:27] Kaos: so you're in bitch mode then :) [22:27] A.: well you can call it that [22:27] A.: but i call it intensification [22:27] A.: :) [22:28] A.: INTENSIFICATION [22:28] Kaos: HA ... I called it I am staying away from home days [22:28] A.: well you know me [22:28] A.: and you know those are my feelings [22:28] A.: everything i wrote is true [22:28] A.: but [22:29] A.: i could have spent my time more [22:29] A.: better [22:29] A.: in a better way than i did [22:29] A.: is all :) [22:29] Kaos: no regrets is the way to go at the blogosphere :) 22:30] A.: no wonder I love you :) [22:30] A.: i agree!

Paraguay's president says he turned down offer to meet Palin

[Thanks to ToniD for this link]
Apparently not everyone wants to have their photograph taken with Sarah Palin. Paraguay President Fernando Lugo, while attending both the UN General Assembly meetings and the Clinton Global Initiative, shared with friends over dinner some of the other meetings he had been having in New York. After enumerating the various heads of state he'd met with, the room went silent and then laughed a bit when he confided that he was approached about meeting with GOP Vice Presidential candidate and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. President Lugo said he turned the meeting down. The 57-year-old left-leaning former Catholic bishop known locally as "bishop of the poor," was elected to office in April. His swearing in marked the first time in Paraguay's history since the country gained independence that an opposition party turned over power peacefully to a candidate elected from the other party. Lugo has also refused his presidential salary, saying it "belongs to more humble people." He joined the priesthood in 1977 and was ordained a bishop in 1994 before resigning in 2006 to run for office. -- Steve Clemons publishes the popular political blog, The Washington Note, and writes frequently about foreign policy.

Nader to Discuss Political Platform

Five-time presidential candidate and political activist Ralph Nader will speak at Corwin Pavilion this Sunday.

Beginning at 3 p.m., Nader will discuss his political platform for the upcoming election, addressing issues such as national health insurance and renewable energies, and advocating for a quick withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Joined by running mate Matt Gonzalez, the Peace and Freedom party candidates will call upon Barack Obama and John McCain to open the presidential debate to other third party candidates.

The pair will take audience questions following Nader’s speech. ...

Dan Bartlett - The Magnetic Centre

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"Patriotism is not enough. But neither is anything else. Science is not enough, religion is not enough, art is not enough, politics and economics are not enough, nor is love, nor is duty, nor is action however disinterested, nor, however sublime, is contemplation. Nothing short of everything will really do."

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Ode to Awakening

1 Awareness contracts to focus, They say it's not hocus pocus, To them it is just a thought. Through invisible incantation, Matter dances to mentation, The conscious rewrites the Points. But quickly they lose their way, Emotion and thought carry them astray, While the birds scream Attention! Attention! They take note but never remember, "Stay strong and never surrender!" The fools never realise "I am."

2 Though their words sound the same, Each speaks from a different plane, They talk through entities. Symbolic in nature, But disloyal to creator, They have a life of their own. Gaze them at length, And territory looses strength, The entity is only the vessel. Choosing menu not meal, They all stand and squeal. Fighting for map over chest.

3 Aware and yet sleeping, No wonder they're weeping, They believe they are one and the same. Yet many possess them, Command and digest them!, 'Til all awareness is gone. They plot under clouds, Still "owner" stands proud, Fragmented, he is a legion. Hi-jacked he does not see, He believes them to be "me," Truly, a thief is at work.

4 Through all this toil and pain, Pray tell; where is the gain? A bucket of rotten fruit! Seek yoga not blame, They all say the same! Change is always the start. So come, transformation, From mere mentation, To the quality of a Willed Art. They stand struck by awe, The Law is for All, In lust, the magicians rejoice!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Chicago outreach effort builds mass opposition to Wall Street bailout

Thousands of leaflets distributed--and thousands more to go!

As the Treasury Department threatened to bail out the criminal banks to the tune of $700 billion, PSL members in Chicago hit the streets to promote resistance to Wall Street’s theft.

Fanning out over the city on Sept. 22 and 23, volunteers passed out thousands of PSL statements entitled, "Bail out workers, not Wall Street!"

The leaflets were exceptionally well-received at busy train stops and colleges, especially in working class neighborhoods. Even those who seemed uninterested at first were immediately attracted once they realized what the statements were about.

PSL members used slogans like: "Money for Jobs, Not for the Banks," "Last week there was no money for education, health care or housing. This week there’s $700 billion for the criminal bank CEOs" and "No more money for Wall Street crooks."

Those slogans are in sharp contrast with the praise sung by Wall Street for the bailout, yet they resonated with working people whose tax dollars are being stolen by a small elite of wealthy bankers.

Groups of workers and students stopped and read the leaflet immediately. People in cars and passersby requested additional leaflets to give to their family and friends. Dozens of people asked how they could get involved. The PSL also received unsolicited donations on the spot. Bus drivers and transit workers who heard the pitch and read the materials helped distribute leaflets. The materials distributed also advertised upcoming events, including the Saturday, Sept. 27, PSL campaign dinner in Chicago and the Saturday, Oct. 11, meeting in Chicago with PSL presidential candidate Gloria La Riva.

Anyone in the Chicago area interested in getting involved in the movement to stop the criminal banks should call the PSL at 773-920-7590. For other PSL branches around the country, click here.

Ralph Nader Asks, “Why Is There Need for a Bailout?”

JUAN GONZALEZ: The Bush administration is intensifying its pressure on Congress to quickly approve a $700 billion bailout of the financial industry, despite warnings from economists and some governmental officials that the bailout could worsen the financial crisis.

Last night, President Bush held a prime-time address to warn the nation’s entire economy is in danger if the bailout is not approved as soon as possible.

JUAN GONZALEZ: [Wednesday] night’s address was the first time in his presidency that Bush delivered a prime-time speech devoted exclusively to the economy. His dire scenario about the state of the economy stood in stark contrast to his comments at his last press conference two months ago.

AMY GOODMAN: Today, the President is holding an emergency summit at the White House with both John McCain and Barack Obama, as well as top leaders for Congress. The Wall Street Journal reports Democratic leaders are hoping to nail down details of the bailout measure early today.

On Wednesday, McCain said he would suspend his campaign to deal with the financial crisis. He called on Obama to postpone their debate Friday night, saying he would only attend if Congress approves a bailout package before then. Obama said the debate in Oxford, Mississippi at Ole Miss should go on as planned.

We’re joined on the phone right now by a presidential candidate who was not invited to Friday’s debate, Independent candidate Ralph Nader. The longtime consumer advocate has been a vocal critic of the Wall Street bailout.

Ralph Nader, welcome to Democracy Now! First, let’s start off with John McCain announcing that he is going to suspend his campaign and wants the debate cancelled.

RALPH NADER: Well, I think Senator McCain is showboating. I mean, what’s going on in Washington and Congress now is the Bush administration is trying to pull the Constitution out by its roots and demand that Congress give it a blank check, without any criteria, without any accountability, for $700 billion bailout of Wall Street. It’s not dependent on whether John McCain returns to Washington other than to vote. I think he’s turning his back on over 50 million American voters who expect him to show up in Ole Miss with Barack Obama and who have made arrangements to do so. He talks a lot about honor and commitment. I think he ought to change his mind and get down to Ole Miss.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Ralph, the Democrats are claiming that they’ve been able to get some key concessions from the administration on its original plan. They say now they’re going to be—they’re going to cap CEO pay for those who participate in this bailout and that they’re going to get some kind of government participation or investment in these firms, so that if they make profits later on, that—or these securities make profits later on, that the government will be able to participate. But your sense—are these real substantive changes, or is this basically cosmetics on a plan that shouldn’t be in place in the first place?

RALPH NADER: Well, so far, it’s wish fulfillment. If you watch what Barney Frank, the chairman of the House Banking Committee, said yesterday, nothing has really been decided.

And also, it’s not clear at all why a bailout is needed. That’s part of the stampede in the pack and the panic that Bush and Paulson and Bernanke are pushing Congress toward. You know, it’s eerily reminiscent, when you listen to Bush yesterday, of how he stampeded the Congress and the country into the criminal war invasion of Iraq in 2003. I mean, look at all his statements: this could do this, this would do that, farms failing, small business, tada, tada. The first question we have to ask as citizens is, why is there a need for a bailout?

The only conceivable purpose of Treasury intervention, said Roger Lowenstein in the New Republic recently, quote, "is to buoy the market using taxpayer funds by paying higher-than-market prices. After all, if the government merely intended to match the market, what would be the point?” end-quote. In other words, if these mortgage-backed securities are distressed, well, they’re going to fetch a lower price. There’s huge amount of money on the sidelines in Wall Street, everybody admits that. So, as a hedge fund manager basically said, look, if the price comes down lower than what the government is trying to keep elevated, we’ll buy this paper. Warren Buffett put $5 billion into Goldman Sachs this week. There’s a lot of money to go around.

It’s quite interesting how the Bush regime is creating its own panic. When the government keeps saying Chicken Little, Chicken Little, the market is going to react in a very nervous manner. It’s a reversal of what the government usually does, which is to counsel stability and patience, etc.

So, the first question Congress should ask in detailed hearings, which aren’t occurring, is simply, why is there need for a bailout? Second is, if there is a need for a bailout, why $700 billion? And third, if there is a need for a bailout, what kind of bailout? Taxpayer equity? So the taxpayer can recover if these companies make a profit, they can recover surplus, perhaps the way they did on the taxpayer bailout in 1979 with Chrysler, where Jimmy Carter demanded that Chrysler issue stock warrants to the Treasury, and Chrysler turned around, and the Treasury sold the warrants for a $400 million profit.

I don’t think the Democrats show any nerve that they are going to do anything but cave here. And the statements by Nancy Pelosi are not reassuring, which is, “Well, it’s the Republicans’ bill, you know. Let them take responsibility for it.” That doesn’t work. She’s the Speaker of the House. The Democrats have got to say, “Slow down. We’re not going to be stampeded into this bill by Friday or Saturday. We’re going to have very, very thorough hearings.” Otherwise, it’s another collapse, at constitutional levels, of the Congress before King George IV.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader. We’ll come back to this discussion. We’ll also be joined by Arun Gupta, who is the editor of The Indypendent and put out a letter on the internet that has just set the internet on fire, calling for a major protest today on Wall Street. It has gained steam. Many groups have signed on. Stay with us.


AMY GOODMAN: Our guest on the phone with us from Pittsburgh, where he’s campaigning, is Ralph Nader, Independent presidential candidate. Juan?

JUAN GONZALEZ: Ralph, you mention how the Democrats themselves are being stampeded at this point by the Bush administration. In my column in the Daily News yesterday, I raised how another Democratic leader and another Democratic Congress handled a situation, even a more dire situation, in 1933, on the two days after Franklin Delano Roosevelt was inaugurated as president, with thousands of banks crashing at that point, and he immediately shut down all the banks on his second day in office, called Congress into an emergency session and, over the next hundred days, adopted incredible legislation, including the Glass-Steagall Act, that we’ve mentioned quite often, on federal deposit insurance, aid to homeowners, farm subsidies, created the Tennessee Valley Authority, all in the midst of a crisis, probably the most progressive amount of legislation in the nation’s history, in any period. That’s a quite different approach. And he specifically criticized the banks and Wall Street as being at the root of the crisis.

RALPH NADER: That’s right. In those days, they had a serious solvency problem for these banks, which they don’t have, by and large, today. And that was admitted by Bernanke yesterday. Basically, Bernanke is saying, “Well, we’re doing this because the banks are contracting their credit, and this is affecting the economy.” Well, you can deal with that problem in a far better way than an ill-defined $700 billion bailout with total authority to the Treasury Secretary, with no judicial review, with no criteria and no reforms.

In other words, the Democrats should say, if they’re going to concede this bailout, is to say, “Well, we want comprehensive regulation and disclosure of the financial industry to make sure this doesn’t happen again. We want criminal prosecution of the crooks on Wall Street and disgorgement of their ill-gotten gains. We want a securities derivative tax and higher margin requirements to make speculators use their money, more of their money than other people’s money, like worker pension funds, to keep down speculation, as well as to produce revenues, which might lighten the tax load on working families. And we want to give shareholders control over the corporations they own.”

And they’re not even talking about these kinds of reforms. And this is the best time to get these reforms, because this is called a must bill on Congress—in Congress, and if Bush wants his package, he’s going to have to sign them. So, there’s no reciprocity here. It’s the usual fairly good questions by the Democrats at the hearings, but because they don’t follow through, they don’t have adequate leadership, it becomes a kind of posturing. It’s just maddening to watch how vague Bernanke and Paulson are in answering one question after another. It’s just an evasion, where they keep saying, “We need to do it. We need to do it.” And their Chicken Little material is conducted in closed session with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and the Republican leadership. It’s always in closed session.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Ralph Nader, something that isn’t vague are the emerging rallies against Wall Street bailout that are being held today in over a hundred cities. In Washington, protesters are gathering outside the Treasury Department at 4:00 p.m. Here in New York, a protest is set for 4:00 p.m., as well, in Bowling Green Park near Wall Street.

The day of action has been partly inspired by an email sent out Monday by New York journalist Arun Gupta. In the email, Gupta described the bailout as the biggest robbery in world history. Arun Gupta is a reporter and editor at The Indypendent newspaper here in New York. He joins us in the firehouse.

You’ve just been written up in BusinessWeek. Talk about this letter. Talk about what you are putting out there.

ARUN GUPTA: Well, I do a good bit of economic writing, and I was trying to decipher the plan this weekend, and it became quickly apparent to me that this is a financial September 11th, that the Bush administration was trying to use the shock of this crisis, the self-induced crisis in this case, to ram through legislation that was highly ill-considered in terms of the actual economic merits, on the one hand, and then, on the other hand, it was this extreme power grab that would give these huge sweeping new powers to the Treasury Department.

So I wrote up this email. I sat on it overnight, because I was hesitant to send it out. I’m a journalist, not an organizer. But after talking with a few people, they felt I should send it out, so I sent it out to about 150 activists, organizers and media folks that I know in New York City. And it just exploded. You know, I don’t take any special credit for it. I was just tapping into this huge amount of anger and resentment that was out there.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Now, when you say “exploded,” what was the response?

ARUN GUPTA: Well, I talked to people who, within one hour of me sending it out and then them—I encouraged people, “Please forward widely.” They told me that within less than an hour, they had received it back from five or six different people. By the end of the day, apparently, a lot of big groups started jumping on it, including unions. By the next day, it was being endorsed and variations were being forwarded by True Majority, Code Pink, United for Peace and Justice. And so, it was just—it really showed the power of the internet in a particular moment.

AMY GOODMAN: So, talk about these protests that are taking place around the country.

ARUN GUPTA: Well, it started, as you know—the idea is like gather in Wall Street, and I thought maybe it would be a dozen people, and we’d be standing on the sidewalk. But now it looks like there will be hundreds, even possibly thousands. And then, True Majority picked up the call, along with United for Peace and Justice, one of the main antiwar groups, and they said, you know, “Let’s have these day of actions around the country.”

So, all over the country now, there are going to be protests in various financial centers. I’ve been getting emails from people, you know, from every single corner of the United States, asking, you know, “What’s going on? How do we plug in?” And so, we’re just trying to point them to these websites. It’s like, look, here’s a list of the protests, or you can plan your own event. And this is really coming from across the political spectrum.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And as you said in your email, this is leaderless, and no main organization is in charge or no individual is in charge. Everyone is just participating themselves.

ARUN GUPTA: That’s what’s great about it. You know, when people say, “Who’s organizing this?” I say, “No one and everyone.” This was just a call to self-organize. And, you know, it’s like I’m just going to show up there as just one more person who’s against this ridiculous bailout, this giveaway to the rich.

AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader, who is Henry Paulson? I mean, we know he worked for Nixon, was the aide to John Ehrlichman, the ex-con, the man who went to jail; then went off to Goldman Sachs; he and Alan Greenspan still being considered the economic wise men, even though this all happened under their watch.

RALPH NADER: That’s when you know the system is decayed and corrupt, that the people who brought us this disaster—Robert Rubin, with Bill Clinton pushing through the financial deregulation monster in 1999, which we opposed, which opened the gates for this kind of wild speculation and this casino capitalism, is still an adviser. He’s an adviser to Barack Obama. He’s an adviser to members of Congress. Henry Paulson cashed out at Goldman Sachs in 2006 a half-a-billion dollars. And now he goes to Washington to bail out his buddies.

The public outrage out there is really enormous. The calls coming into C-SPAN yesterday were overwhelmingly against this bailout, this outrageous inequity, this double standard between the guys at the top and the people who are going to have to pay the bills under this bailout, the taxpayers and the consumers.

Mr. Gupta is right in the sense that this is leaderless, but it’s got to be more than just a rally of protests. It’s got to demand something. It’s got to be focused. Otherwise, it will fritter away. We’ve had rallies on Wall Street. It’s a great place to have rallies. You can really congregate a lot of people, and the Wall Street guys look out the window, and they can see the people are coming.

But the first step is to slow down Congress. Once this bill is passed—and it’s a blanket bill. It’s only four pages, Amy, four pages of a $700 billion blank check, transferring congressional authority wholesale, and I think unconstitutionally, to the White House, King George IV at work again. Once it passes, then the chance for comprehensive regulation and all the other changes to make Wall Street accountable, instead of allow Wall Street to create a corporate state or what Franklin Delano Roosevelt called fascism, which is government controlled by private economic power, represented by people like Henry Paulson—once this happens, it’s not going to be reversible.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And Ralph, what about the homeowners who were at the center of this crisis in foreclosure? A million Americans have lost their homes in recent years. There seems to be still no clear sense that any kind of bill will actually provide clear relief for people facing the loss of their homes.

RALPH NADER: You’re absolutely right, because Barney Frank was asked about that last night after the hearing, and he said, “This is a money proposition, if you’re going to deal with the homeowners. It’s not my Banking Committee; it’s Charlie Rangel’s House Ways and Means.” In other words, there’s nothing in this bill for homeowners. There’s everything in this bill to bail out the bankers who actually created this problem with these out-of-control speculative financial instruments.

AMY GOODMAN: Cynthia McKinney has offered to debate Barack Obama if he’s the only one who shows up at Ole Miss tomorrow. Are you also going to make that offer? And, Ralph Nader, would you consider, given the stakes of this election, encouraging your supporters in swing states to vote for Barack Obama?

RALPH NADER: Well, first, I’d be very happy to sit in the seat emptied by John McCain. But I think the stage can handle the only—only six presidential candidates. There aren’t enough electoral colleges to theoretically win the election. And second, I’m not at all impressed by Barack Obama’s positions on this so-called bailout. It’s just rhetoric. His Senate record has not reflected that at all.

As we campaign around the country—we’re now in forty-five states plus the District of Columbia, and we’re running five, six, seven percent in the polls, which is equivalent to nine, ten million eligible voters—we are going to try to rouse the public in a specific way: laser-beam focus on their senators and representatives. When these senators and representatives, if they allow this bailout deal in this general, vague manner to pass, when they go back home, they’re going to hit hornets’ nest. This is a situation where it doesn’t matter whether the people back home are Republicans, Democrats, Greens, Libertarians, Nader-Gonzalez supporters. There’s such a deep sense of betrayal, of panic, of stampede, of surrender, of cowardliness in Congress, that it’s going to affect the election and the turnout.

I’d like Barack Obama, actually, to support the Nader-Gonzalez ticket.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Arun Gupta, people are bringing old junk to the protest today—records, old clothes, things they don’t want— to symbolize…?

ARUN GUPTA: That’s one of the themes, cash for trash, which is how this bailout bill is being characterized—in other words, that the government is giving the taxpayers’ good money for these worthless securities. So, many protesters are saying, well, let’s bring our own trash to Wall Street. We’ll create a junk pile and then ask the government to bail us out.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to leave it there. Arun Gupta is the reporter and editor of The Indypendent newspaper here in New York, organizer of today’s protest on Wall Street. There will be more than a hundred other protests around the country. We’ll report on them tomorrow. Ralph Nader, Independent candidate for president, speaking to us on the campaign trail in Pittsburgh.

The Subprime Solution

From: http://www.oculture.com

In March 2000, Yale economist Robert Shiller published Irrational Exuberance and warned that the long-running parabolic stock market was a bubble. Weeks later, the market cracked and Shiller was the new guru. Fast forward a few years, Shiller released a second edition of the same book, this time arguing that the housing market was the latest and greatest bubble. And, we all know how that prediction played out.

Now, Shiller is back with a new book: The Subprime Solution: How Today’s Global Financial Crisis Happened, and What to Do about It. And given his track record, his understanding of the problem and solutions are worth listening to. Below, we have posted an interview with Shiller where he gets into all of this. The first part appears below. For the second part, click here (and here is where he particularly gets to talking about solutions).

P.S. If you’re wondering what Shiller thinks about more recent events, you can watch this new BusinessWeek video.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008


“I strongly condemn President Ahmadinejad’s outrageous remarks at the United Nations, and am disappointed that he had a platform to air his hateful and anti-Semitic views. The threat from Iran’s nuclear program is grave. Now is the time for Americans to unite on behalf of the strong sanctions that are needed to increase pressure on the Iranian regime. -Barack Obama * "The dignity, integrity, and rights of the American and European people are being played with by a small and deceitful number of people called Zionists. Although they are a minuscule minority, they have been dominating an important portion of the financial and monetary centers as well as the political decision-making centers of some European countries and the US in a deceitful, complex, and furtive manner. It is deeply disastrous to witness that some presidential or premiere nominees in some big countries have to visit these people, take part in their gatherings, swear their allegiance and commitment to their interests in order to attain financial or media support." -President Ahmadinejad

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