Period of Pain: Recessions Vital Part of Capitalist System

America Needs a Period of Pain: Recessions Vital Part of Capitalist System
by Eric Margolis
T
he shoes Iraqi journalist Muntader al-Zaidi threw at George W. Bush had more courage and truth in them than all of America's fawning media. Al-Zaidi reminded the world that Bush, Dick Cheney and their helpers have the blood of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis on their hands -- perhaps as many as one million.

In New York, fabled investment guru Bernie Madoff is accused of bilking clients of an astounding $50 billion while well-fed federal watchdogs snoozed. Thanks to Madoff and Wall Street bandits, tens of millions of people have lost their life savings and retirement funds, and the world financial system is on the rocks.

Wall Street's big money con men, hedge fund Houdinis, and casino capitalists made a staggering $33.3 US billion in bonuses in 2007 alone by shady financial engineering and hawking fraudulent securities. Yet they have so far escaped prosecution. They get to keep their swag and $30-million South Hampton beach houses.

Worse is coming. Chrysler and Ford will shut plants in January. GM is next. In spite of the $13.4-billion auto industry bailout announced by President Bush last Friday, many plants may never reopen.
 
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How a Program To Save The Economy Ended Up Enriching Big Banks

How a Program To Save The Economy Ended Up Enriching Big Banks
by Danny Schechter (Author of Plunder)
Talk about crazy making. How do we believe anything Hank Paulson says?

First, he needed $700 Billion, and fast, to buy up troubled assets or the skies would fall and we would be pressed to impose martial law. He found an appropriate acronym, TARP, to manage the money with a skeletal staff of 28 headed up by one of his former proteges at Goldman Sachs.

So Far, So Good,

But then he had himself a rethink, realizing that no one has a clue about how to price troubled assets considered practically worthless. So he had to a make a shift, “in the light of new facts,” even though Congress never authorized the shift.

So Far, So Good.  

He claimed this showed flexibility and a willingness to respond to new information. Never mind that that information was not new and kind of obvious to anyone paying close attention to the subprime fiasco.

So Far, So Good
 
 

Then Congress pumped, as a 3 page proposal turned into a four hundred page package. Once it was  “enhanced” will all kinds of pork and earmarks it was passed. Legislators screamed about the absolute necessity of oversight and transparency. After all, this is taxpayer’s money But then, they took a break to run for re-election without naming anyone to oversee Hank’s new TARP or the taxpayer money. There seems to have been an oversight of oversight?

So far, Less Good
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The Homicides You Didn't Hear About in Hurricane Katrina

The Grinning Skull: The Homicides You Didn't Hear About in Hurricane Katrina
by Rebecca Solnit
W
hat do you do when you notice that there seems to have been a killing spree? While the national and international media were working themselves and much of the public into a frenzy about imaginary hordes of murderers, rapists, snipers, marauders, and general rampagers among the stranded crowds of mostly poor, mostly black people in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, a group of white men went on a shooting spree across the river.

Their criminal acts were no secret but they never became part of the official story. The media demonized the city's black population for crimes that turned out not to have happened, and the retractions were, as always, too little too late. At one point FEMA sent a refrigerated 18-wheeler to pick up what a colonel in the National Guard expected to be 200 bodies in New Orleans's Superdome, only to find six, including four who died naturally and a suicide. Meanwhile, the media never paid attention to the real rampage that took place openly across the river, even though there were corpses lying in unflooded streets and testimony everywhere you looked -- or I looked, anyway.

The widely reported violent crimes in the Superdome turned out to be little more than hysterical rumor, but they painted African-Americans as out-of-control savages at a critical moment. The result was to shift institutional responses from disaster relief to law enforcement, a decision that resulted in further deaths among the thirsty, hot, stranded multitude. Governor Kathleen Blanco announced, "I have one message for these hoodlums: These troops know how to shoot and kill, and they are more than willing to do so if necessary, and I expect they will." So would the white vigilantes, and though their exact body count remains unknown, at least 11 black men were apparently shot, some fatally.
 
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Man Bites Dog: Bush Comparisons Offensive to Fido

A KISS GOODBYE: IRAQI JOURNALIST INSULTS DOGS
by Jack Random
W
hen I first heard the story of Iraqi journalist Muntathar al Zaidi yelling, “This is a goodbye kiss, you dog!” while throwing a pair of shoes at our beloved president I was incensed. I have lived long enough to know there are no bad dogs, only bad human masters.  Therefore, what was meant as a supreme insult to our lame duck president was in fact an insult against all members of the canine species. The more I considered it, however, the more I came to understand how appropriate the insult might have been.  It is a question for historians to decide:  Was George W. Bush truly responsible for the catastrophic policy blunders of his presidency or was he simply a victim of greedy and power hungry masters?
 
image

Muntathar al Zaidi did for the Iraqi people, particularly the dead and dispossessed, what rapper Kanye West did for the African American community and the people of New Orleans.  He spoke for those who cannot speak, who have no forum or cannot risk losing what little they have for themselves or their families. For those who say Zaidi’s impassioned protest was an act of cowardice, think again. 
 
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Vancouver Extreme Weather Shelter Info: Dec. 21, 2008

Vancouver BC
F.Y.I. If you can. get the word out on the street in Vancouver
 
Please help get this word out into the street for tonight.
 
As well First United Church 320 East Hastings and the newest shelter 1435 will be open tonight.
Both of these will be shopping cart friendly.
1435 Granville (almost under the bridge) will be dog friendly.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Saturday, December 20th

Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society (1607 E. Hastings St; #604-251-4844 – 7:00 pm)

Covenant House *** 16-22 yrs. *** (575 Drake St; #604-685-7474 – Intake: 9:00-11:00 pm)

Gathering Place (609 Helmken St; #604-665-2391 - midnight)

Powell Place *** Women Only*** (329a Powell St; #604-606-0403 - 11:30 pm)

Salvation Army Belkin House (555 Homer St; #604-681-3405 - 11:30 pm)

St. Mark’s Extreme Weather Shelter (1805 Larch St; #778-990-1401 - 9:30 pm

                                                        Intake closes at 11:00 pm)


Sunday, December 21st

10th Avenue Alliance Church  (10th & Ontario – 10:00 pm)

Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society (1607 E. Hastings St; #604-251-4844 – 7:00 pm)

Covenant House *** 16-22 yrs. *** (575 Drake St; #604-685-7474 – Intake: 9:00-11:00 pm)

Gathering Place (609 Helmken St; #604-665-2391 - midnight)

Powell Place *** Women Only*** (329a Powell St; #604-606-0403 - 11:30 pm)

Salvation Army Belkin House (555 Homer St; #604-681-3405 - 11:30 pm)

St. Mark’s Extreme Weather Shelter (1805 Larch St; #778-990-1401 - 9:30 pm

                                                        Intake closes at 11:00 pm)


Monday, December 22nd

10th Avenue Alliance Church  (10th & Ontario – 10:00 pm)

Covenant House *** 16-22 yrs. *** (575 Drake St; #604-685-7474 – Intake: 9:00-11:00 pm)

First Baptist Church (969 Burrard St – 10:00 pm)

Powell Place *** Women Only*** (329a Powell St; #604-606-0403 - 11:30 pm)

Salvation Army Belkin House (555 Homer St; #604-681-3405 - 11:30 pm)

Salvation Army Harbour Light (119 East Cordova St; #604-646-6800 – 11:30 pm)

St. Mark’s Extreme Weather Shelter (1805 Larch St; #778-990-1401 - 9:30 pm

                                                        Intake closes at 11:00 pm)



Thank you all, yet again, for your tremendous cooperation and all your hard work. Please read the message from BC Housing’s Michael Anhorn, which will be forwarded by separate e-mail.


Grant Gayman

Vancouver EWR Coordinator

604-250-3138
 
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Dear Georgia Straight: About that Haiti Article

Hello Georgia Straight Editor
by Haiti Solidarity BC
I congratulate you and your feature writer Roberta Staley for reporting on the deplorable conditions in Haiti today in this  week's issue ("Haiti's Road to Ruin").  I do wish the writer had probed more deeply her suggestion that foreign interference shares some blame for the situation.

Over the past thirty-two years, the Haitian people have fought courageously to establish progressive government that would tackle the country's poverty and underdevelopment. First they overthrew the U.S.-backed Duvalier family dictatorship in a popular uprising in 1986. Then they elected socially progressive governments three times--in 1990, 1995, and 2000. The 1990 and 2000 governments were overthrown by force and violence, with indispensable international backing and bankrolling.

Canada supported the second overthrow, in February 2004, contributing 800 soldiers to the dirty deed. It also joined in the ban on foreign aid that followed the second election to the presidency of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2000. That ban was accompanied by a fierce propaganda war falsely accusing Aristide's government of human rights violations. The true story was that Aristide was unwilling to sacrifice the population's urgent needs to the demands of the foreign financial institutions and agribusinesses that bleed Haiti dry.
 
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Selling In: The Great Green Cred War

Selling Out or Joining In: Survey Underscores NGO Ambivalence About Corporate Partnerships
by National Public Relations
While a majority of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) welcome collaboration with the private sector to achieve mutual objectives, most see such engagement as a less-than-ideal solution that could threaten their independence and legitimacy as ‘watchdogs’ of corporate performance on social and environmental issues.
 

This is one of the major findings of a survey of the NGO sector released today by NATIONAL Public Relations entitled Spanning the Great Divide: A Report on the Relationship Between Canadian NGOs and Corporations. 21 NGOs participated in the research.
 
As the social and environmental causes championed by NGOs emerge as mainstream public concerns, these groups have faced increased pressure to partner with corporations to meet their funding needs.

“There is a global trend towards more engagement between NGOs and corporations, which is being driven by public demand for action on such issues as climate change and pollution,” says John Crean, National Managing Partner, NATIONAL Public  Relations.
 
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Of Hope and Change

Waves of Hope and Change
by Mickey Z.
It’s holiday season in Manhattan and despite the economic downturn, there seems to be no shortage of well-dressed humans cavorting, laughing, and spending freely. Walking among them, a homeless man begs for money—shaking his tattered coffee cup (adorned with images of Greek architecture) to rattle the few coins therein. A veteran of the first Gulf War, this man is no longer concerned with yellow ribbons. Right now, he’d settle for a scrap of food and a dry pair of shoes.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimates that nearly 200,000 veterans are homeless on any given night and nearly 400,000 experience homelessness over the course of a year. Forty-five percent of America’s homeless veterans suffer from mental illness and half have substance abuse problems. According to the National Survey of Homeless Assistance Providers and Clients, veterans account for 23% of all homeless people in America.
 
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Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Lee Zaslofsky, Janine Bandcroft December 22, 2008

This Week on GR
by C. L. Cook
This year's Xmas celebration is unlike its predecessors in that I'll be joined by a guest in the first segment to discuss an issue too important to leave to the new year. Many Canadians are too young to remember a time when this country still retained a semblance of independence from the diktats of the United States, and possessed still an iota of dignity. Those days are sadly behind us now, and nowhere is that abrogation of national will more obvious than in the shameful desertion of the principles we pronounce as essential to our country: Peace and Justice.
 
 
While winter storms buffet Canada from coast to coast, and Canadians are caught up in the holiday season, Stephen Harper's shadow government, unchecked by parliamentary process or the press, conspires with the criminal regime south to evict the American men and women of conscience who refused orders they partake of the slaughter of innocents in Iraq and Afghanistan, seeking instead sanctuary in this "peace-loving" Canada. Even as the halls are decked in reverent remembrance of the 'Prince of Peace,' that man Stephen Harper and his evangelical fellows profess allegiance to, the true lambs of the global orgy of blood and violence are to be secreted out of the country and delivered to the altars of Babylon.

Lee Zaslofsky is the National Coordinator of the War Resisters Support Campaign in Canada. An American war deserter, Zaslofsky dodged the Vietnam War, coming to Canada with more than 50,000 of his compatriots in the 1960's and seventies. Lee Zaslofsky in the first segment.

And; Janine Bandcroft will join us at the bottom of the hour to bring us up to speed with some of the good goings-on this holiday week, and to keep us conscious of the ongoing shelter emergency in Victoria and beyond. All that, and some holiday year end musings by yours truly. But first, Lee Zaslofsky and stopping Canada's deplorable Christmas deportations.
 
Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Monday, 5-6pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, 104.3 cable, and on the internet at: http://cfuv.uvic.ca.  He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site, www.pacificfreepress.com. Check out the GR blog at: http://GorillaRadioBlog.blogspot.com
 
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Fighting Within: An Interview with Sid Shniad

Fighting Within: An Interview with Sid Shniad
by Gilad Atzmon
Recently I have been corresponding with Sid Shniad,1 a founding member of Canadian Independent Jewish Voice (Canadian IJV).2 Those who are familiar with my writing are well aware of the fact that I am highly critical of any form of Jewish political activism, for I consider it to be a racially orientated discourse.
 
Yet, as much as I am interested in elaboration on the issue, a true dialogue with Jewish political activists is pretty much impossible. Jewish political ethnic campaigners and political activists have much to lose. They are fully aware of the categorical contradiction between the aim for universal values and tribal activism. They have much incoherence and inconsistency to hide.

Sid, however, was different, though we do not agree on many things, we have managed to keep an open and fruitful dialogue. He was very helpful and addressed each issue in a very positive manner.
 
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German Spooks Seek to Plug Wikileaks Dike

Wikileaks Threatened with Criminal Prosecution by the BND
by Tom Burghardt
T
he global whistleblowing website Wikileaks has been threatened with criminal prosecution by the head of Germany's spy agency Ernst Uhrlau, President of the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), if they do not remove all "files or reports related to the BND". According to a Wikileaks press release, "the spy chief claims to have already engaged the BND's legal machinery."
 

Threats against the journalists were triggered according to Wikileaks, by the publication of my article, 'The End of the Affair? The BND, CIA and Kosovo's Deep State,' (Antifascist Calling, December 7, 2008) on their website. I did not seek to become part of the story, nevertheless Uhrlau's threats cannot go unchallenged. The censorship and prior restraint he demands are toxic to a free society.
 
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The Ignoble Ignatieff

Good Looks, Noble Lineage, Spineless: New Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff Seems to Lack Convictions
by Linda McQuaig
As a child, Michael Ignatieff probably wouldn't have sounded unreasonable saying he wanted to be prime minister when he grew up. The newly crowned Liberal leader has always had some impressive trappings: good looks, noble lineage, verbal dexterity, an air of gravitas and an impressive CV of teaching human rights at Harvard.

His self-imposed, decades-long exile from his native land might pose a problem in some countries. But here, where our elite instills in us a sense of inferiority to great powers like the US and Britain, Ignatieff has been forgiven for finding Canada a little confining.

Still, there are some problems.
 
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