In a Pig's Eye: Making Silk from an Economic Sow's Ear

The Sow’s Ear & the U.S.
by Diane Walsh and Tim Pheotist
Read the paper. Watch the news. A new, progressive, U.S. President brings his country and the World into the 21st century with pictures, ideas and rhetoric brilliantly matched to the moment. Yes, we live in interesting times.

Interesting Times? Doesn’t that phrase often signify less than generous intentions – as in 'curses?'

Inauguration week ran perfectly to script; parties and optimism tempered with diabolical warnings and reminders about the economic catastrophe we are enduring. Ever hopeful and newly energized we cheer on the new boss.
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"Bear Mountain" Expansion Goes to Langford Council

Two interesting events in Langford this week
by Zoe Blunt
Two interesting events in Langford this week; a public hearing, and the return of the free miners of Bare Mountain.
Mon, February 23, 7 pm: Greenbelt and native sites threatened. South Skirt Mountain Development Public Hearing at Langford City Hall, 877 Goldstream Ave. This latest proposal calls for 2800 condo units and unlimited height towers for the hillside from the Bear Mountain Interchange on Highway 1 up to Bear Mountain Resort.
Condo towers will rise from Florence Lake all the way to Goldstream Park, destroying a huge swath of Victoria's Greenbelt, wildlife habitat and native burial cairns. The development would wipe out half of the remaining "high-value" rare ecosystems on the mountain, like garry oak meadows and arbutus bluffs.
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Green Glow Renaissance: Global Nuclear Genocide

Global Nuclear Genocide of Indigenous - government liquidation strategy?  It won't work!
by MNN
A sickening picture is shaping up.  The evidence continues to mount like a smelly compost heap, except it has no organic value and it's a serious threat to the generations to come.  Who doesn't know that radiation is deadly?  Government and the nuclear industry keep lying to us!  They deny the grisly effects such as cancer, birth defects and many environmental illnesses caused by radioactive toxins in our air, land and water.

The nuclear industry seized on the "peak oil" and "global warming" crisis which they created and turned it to their advantage.  They call nuclear a "green", "clean", "renewable" resource because they can reuse the deadly waste to make nuclear weapons.  They lump it under with wind and solar.  The theme of the Canadian Nuclear Association CNA convention and trade show from February 25 to 27 at the Westin in Ottawa is "the reality of renaissance".  [Is that crazy or what?]  Yes, they rely on our ignorance and naivety. 
Their philosophy is, "There's a sucker born every minute" and let's melt them down!
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Organize! Employers Using Recession to Stick It to Workers

Organize! Many Employers Are Just Using the Recession to Stick it to Workers
by Dave Lindorff
Whatever the truth is about where this economy is heading, one thing is clear: employers are taking every opportunity to slash employment and, if they are unionized, to hammer unions for pay cuts, even when there is no justification for these actions.

Take Safeway Inc., a large national supermarket chain. The company, which had $44 billion in sales in 2007, and which, based upon third quarter figures for 2008 was well on the way to show record sales for 2008, appears to be using the economic downturn as a justification for laying off employees and making remaining employees work harder.

I can only give anecdotal information on this, but the Genuardi's Family Market store (a Safeway subsidiary) where I live, in Upper Dublin, PA, an upper middle-class suburb north of Philadelphia, according to its employees, has been laying off cashiers, and slashing its night work force; the people who restock the shelves and unload the delivery trucks when the store is closed.
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Reform? Revolution?

Reform or Revolution?
by William Bowles
In 1945, following the defeat of Fascism, the Labour Party was swept into power with a mandate to bring about radical change to British society. There followed the nationalization of transport, energy, communications, the establishment of the National Health System, an overhaul of education (actually done by the preceding Tory government), massive investment in public housing.

We were promised Socialism, what we got however was a ‘reformed’ capitalism, Keynesianism, and for domestic consumption only, elsewise it was ‘business as usual’, except that the state was broke and in debt up to its eyeballs to the US (a debt only recently paid off).

The reality however was that those changes were demanded by the organized working class through its trade unions and constituency (local) Labour Parties and of course supported by our minuscule left. In other words, it was propelled by grassroots activism and importantly, they were demands that could not be ignored. British capitalism was not only broke it was backward in a big way.
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Homeless in Baghdad

Still Homeless in Baghdad
by Dahr Jamail
We only want a normal life,” says Um Qasim, sitting in a bombed out building in Baghdad. She and others around have been saying that for years.

Um Qasim lives with 13 family members in a brick shanty on the edge of a former military intelligence building in the Mansoor district of Baghdad. Five of her children are girls. Homelessness is not easy for anyone, but it is particularly challenging for women and girls.

“Me and my girls have to be extra careful living this way,” Um Qasim told IPS. “We are tired of always being afraid, because any day, any time, strange men walk through our area, and there is no protection for us. Each day brings a new threat to us, and all the women here.”
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What Will Obama Do With KBR?

The Military's Expanding Waistline: What Will Obama Do With KBR?
by Pratap Chatterjee
President Obama will almost certainly touch down in Baghdad and Kabul in Air Force One sometime in the coming year to meet his counterparts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he will just as certainly pay a visit to a U.S. military base or two. Should he stay for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or midnight chow with the troops, he will no less certainly choose from a menu prepared by migrant Asian workers under contract to Houston-based KBR, the former subsidiary of Halliburton.

If Barack Obama takes the Rhino Runner armor-plated bus from Baghdad Airport to the Green Zone, or travels by Catfish Air's Blackhawk helicopters (the way mere mortals like diplomats and journalists do), instead of by presidential chopper, he will be assigned a seat by U.S. civilian workers easily identified by the red KBR lanyards they wear around their necks.

Even if Obama gets the ultra-red carpet treatment, he will still tread on walkways and enter buildings that have been constructed over the last six years by an army of some 50,000 workers in the employ of KBR. And should Obama chose to order the troops in Iraq home tomorrow, he will effectively sign a blank check for billions of dollars in withdrawal logistics contracts that will largely be carried out by a company once overseen by Dick Cheney.

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Obama Launches Afghan Surge

Operation Uptick: Obama Launches Afghan Surge
by Chris Floyd   
And so it begins: the great Obama "surge" in Afghanistan. Before withdrawing a single soldier from Iraq, Barack Obama is throwing 17,500 more troops into the boiling Afghan cauldron. The deployment is the first installment of what Obama aides affirm could be a much larger escalation down the road: as soon as the vaunted "strategic review" of Afghan policy – led by hawks like Joe Biden, Richard Holbrook and General David "Pre-President" Petraeus – is completed.

Most of the new troops are apparently going to be sent on a fool's errand to eradicate the only means of support of poor Afghans: the opium crop. Previous such efforts by American forces and their allies have produced nothing but more poverty, anger, extremism and support for the insurgency.
And whatever the mission, increased troop levels and military action have led invariably to steep rises in civilian casualties – which, in turn, produce more poverty, anger, extremism and support for the insurgency.

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Obama Batting for Bush: Belaying Subpoenas to Miers, Bolten and Rove

Obama Working to Strike a Deal Over Bush Advisers' Testimony
by Jason Leopold   
Hoping for a negotiated settlement, Barack Obama’s Justice Department has requested a two-week delay in a court deadline regarding enforcement of congressional subpoenas demanding the testimony of two Bush administration officials.

The Justice Department was scheduled to file a federal appeals court legal brief on the dispute by Wednesday, but instead sought a delay until March 4 because “negotiations are ongoing” between Congress and lawyers for former White House counsel Harriet Miers and ex-chief of staff Josh Bolten.

Democrats in Congress have been seeking testimony from Miers and Bolten about the Bush administration’s firing of nine U.S. Attorneys in 2006. To stymie the investigation, President George W. Bush barred the witnesses from cooperating and asserted a broad claim of executive privilege.
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Pakistan: Playing with Fire

Destabilizing Pakistan, America Plays with Fire
by Tom Burghardt
With the Obama administration preparing a major military escalation across South Asia, the corrupt ruling elites perched in their palaces in Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi have demonstrated their contempt for the Pakistani people.
Unable, and unwilling, to solve the deep-seated structural problems facing their nation--unemployment, lack of security, rampant crime and corruption, the lack of public education, the absence of health care, free expression and the right to be left alone to live in peace--like the Musharraf clique, the Zardari administration has cut a deal with the imperialist overlords who now threaten destruction on a planetary scale.
Caught between the jihadi Frankenstein and the American Draculas waiting in the wings, it is the people of South Asia who will pay a steep price as the Pentagon and their corporatist masters seek a "solution" to what Washington insiders have dubbed the "Af-Pak" problem.
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Minister: Time for Wild Fish Councils on the "Farms"

Local Salmon Management: How it Could Work
by Alexandra Morton
Dear Honourable Minister Shea: I am hoping the Fisheries and Oceans Canada will embrace the concept of the aquaculture industry as a fishery and take concrete steps to bring it in line with other Canadian fisheries.

According to Judge Hinkson net-pen salmon rearing is not legally "farming" but rather a fishery, because these artificial salmon populations occupy space otherwise utilized by wild fish and the ocean passes through the facilities. Thus wild fish enter the pens and waste leaves the pens. As such this fishery must be regulated similar to the other fisheries where issues such as by-catch are addressed.

Science can be an awkward tool, but even if you do not accept some of the sea lice science and its prediction of decline of wild salmon that migrate through the aquaculture fisheries, you could look at your department's own enumeration numbers and the global response to marine aquaculture.  I think that it is only reasonable to say there are serious problems that need concrete solutions. The time for splitting hairs is long past. We are in crisis here.
The DNA our salmon need to survive is running out.
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"We Come In Peace. We Will Not Be Stopped"

Gaza Convoy - A Movement Of The Streets: "We Come In Peace. We Will Not Be Stopped"
by George Galloway and Yvonne Ridley
A convoy of more than 110 vehicles has snaked its way out of London for Gaza to deliver more than £1m worth of aid, including ambulances and a fire engine.
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