Loyalty without truth
is a trail to tyranny.
|Tuesday, 7 June 2005 at 0h 8m 43s|
It does happen here
This is a story from the New York Times [LINK] written by Steven Greenhouse. It was brought
to my attention by Nathan Newman's blog.
For many workers in Bushwick, Brooklyn, the possibility of receiving the
legally required time and a half for overtime, even when they work 80-hour
weeks, seems as likely as winning the lottery.
"They always told us work faster, faster, and the money was really bad," said
Deisi Cortes, who worked as a stocker at Super Star 99 until April when she was
fired, she said, for being pregnant. "We'd ask for a raise, and all they'd say
is, 'Maybe later on.' "
'It's pretty stunning the extent to which stores here break wage and hour
laws," said Deborah Axt, a lawyer with Make the Road by Walking, an immigrant
advocacy group in Bushwick. "The violations seem epidemic."
Why should this be a surprise? Farm laborers have been experiencing wage
manipulation for at least as long as sharecropping. Sharecroppers got the right
to work a plot of the landowner for a small portion of the revenue, only to
fall into debt by the need to borrow before the sale of the harvest. Illegal
immigrant laborers were often allowed to work the fields, only to be turned in
when the 6 week labor was over and it was time for the employer to pay --
sometimes with a financial kickback to local legal authorities. Racism no
doubt justified(-ies) this greed.
Have you ever noticed that hate and selfishness have to have a scapegoat and an
excuse, whereas love and consideration need no justification at all.
For those with little to no experience or education, the vulnerability in the
labor market is very real. Intimidation is a constant factor, as common as
overbearing and mind-game playing mid-level managers, where the employee is
essential interchangeable with someone else who can do the same job.
And in a large market with plenty looking for work, there's no reason for any
employer to keep on an employee at higher cost unless experience matters, or
the employer is an individual who values devotion more than profit.
|Sunday, 5 June 2005 at 21h 34m 35s|
Tax rates and super wealth
The new york times had a story today [LINK] by David Kay Johnston -- one of my
favorite journalists. The story: the tax rate for the super wealthy is
signifigantly less than the moderately wealthy.
Specifically, the effective tax rate for those who make $100,000 to $10 million
is a higher portion of their income than those who earn more than 10
Those who earn $50,000 to $75,000 pay 17.4% of their income. The top 400 tax
payers pay 17.5% of their income.
Here is a helpful graphic.
Interestingly enough, the top tax rate during the 1950s was 90% for all income
over 1 million. If you made 10 million dollars, the first 1 million was taxed
at the lower rate. The remaining 9 million dollars was taxed at 90% -- 8.1
Extreme wealth does not necessarily get invested in ways that are beneficial to
the nation and the national well-being. This money goes abroad, gets
uselessly wasted on conspicuous consumption, or gets spent aggregating more
revenue sources -- not necessarily of benefit to the consumer or nation. Using
economic resources to accrue monopolistic control or external profit sources
(outside the U.S. -- like Walmart inporting Chinese manufactured goods) is
usually not in the long-term interest of the nation, although a small
assortment of wealthy individuals might make a lot of money.
Thus, the whole point of the extra taxation of extreme wealth ensures that this
money is invested in ways that are beneficial to the nation. In the 1950s,
that surplus tax money was invested in education and the interstate highway
The assumption of noblesse oblige by the wealthy is not credible.
Donations to charity and non-profits are not equivalent because they are too
narrow and diffused to have the desired effect. The history of the last 100
years shows this to be true.
The problem is not taxation. The problem is unfair taxation and wasteful
spending by the government. There are a plethora of potent government
investments. Such as ....
1.) Reduced class size for
all classes to 20 students per teacher, thereby employing more teachers, and
increasing the ability of each teacher to reach each student more effectively.
2.) subsidizing College
tuition expenses based upon income instead of student loans, or at least very
low (2 percent) interest-rate loans
3.) Metro rail systems for
urban areas of more than a million, reduces traffic congestion, and energy
4.) investment in solar
energy and wind stations across the country.
5.) pension fund for all
workers high and low, instead of burdening business with the costs of providing
pensions. No exceptions
6.) Month long paid
vacations for all workers, thereby increasing the number of possible employed.
7.) Government subsidized
minimum wage and cost-of-living supports for all workers who are at the
bottom. That way business is not the first front for maintaining a living wage
for all workers.
8.) One single insurance
plan for all citizens, and a central regulations board which oversees all state
regulations boards for doctors and hospitals. Multiple insurance companies are
the main source of cost overrun.
Would this be infinitely better than a presumption that our super-wealthy
individuals will invest in these large-scale benefits to society?
Discussion of what is in the national interest has been captured by multi-
national corporations, which are only the legal forms of the super-wealthy.
Not that this is entirely bad. Philosophical perspectives are not a function
of wealth or lack thereof. Enlightened ideas are not lacking from those with
large financial resources. However, only through diversity has the resemblance
of democracy and freedom been maintained. With each decrease in this
diversity, and with each concomitant increase in concentration of economic
power into smaller hands, the resemblance to democracy and freedom diminishes
|Sunday, 5 June 2005 at 19h 47m 18s|
In case you missed it ... Ohio coingate is really smelly.
This is from Americablog who discusses and article from the newspaper
Toledo Blade. A link for the story is provided below.
"Noe fallout taints early candidates to succeed Taft; Democrats take aim at
The main article in the Toledo Blade [LINK] gives the overview of
the scandal and how the GOP leaders are involved.
Here is a portion of the Blade article.
Tom Noe has outraged and angered the governor of Ohio, caused the President to
return his campaign contributions, and his $50 million state-coin funds are in
But the Maumee coin dealer's biggest political victims might be Attorney
General Jim Petro, Auditor Betty Montgomery, and Secretary of State J. Kenneth
Blackwell - who are competing to become Ohio's next governor.
The three Republican officeholders running for governor have all received
campaign cash from Mr. Noe and have been criticized for their slow reaction to
the growing coin scandal.
Now they find themselves on the defensive, quickly distancing themselves from
the prominent Republican campaign fund-raiser, who is facing multiple
investigations, including a probe into whether Mr. Noe violated campaign-
finance laws by laundering money into the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign. All
of the candidates say they have known Mr. Noe for years and they returned
thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from him and his wife,
Bernadette, last week.
That piece alone was a good read...but it gets better. In separate articles,
The Blade examines each of the three GOP candidates for Governor (Blackwell,
Montgomery and Petro) and their relationship to Noe and the scandal.
Secretary of State Ken Blackwell
Blackwell had few concerns at first:
In fact, Mr. Blackwell told The Blade on April 5 that "most people" wouldn't
find it "unreasonable" that the state had invested in rare coins with Tom Noe,
who has said through his attorneys that at least $10 million of the state's
assets are missing.
"When you run a fund the size of $18 billion and you're looking at $50 million,
beyond what one's disposition might be, is that an irresponsible amount of
risk? Most people would say no," Mr. Blackwell said on April 5 - two days after
The Blade's initial report on the coin investment.
State Auditor Betty Montgomery
Montgomery insists she didn't delay action on audit:
it took 43 days after The Blade's first story for Ms. Montgomery to announce
that her office would do a special audit of the rare-coin investment.
Democrats have charged that Ms. Montgomery, a former Wood County prosecutor and
state senator, didn't act sooner because she has known Mr. Noe for several
years and has received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from him
and his wife, Bernadette. She relinquished $8,150 in contributions last week.
Attorney General Jim Petro
Petro saw no 'sense of illegality' at first in coin scandal:
Attorney General Jim Petro waited more than a month to begin taking legal
action after learning that two state-owned coins worth $300,000 were reportedly
stolen from the suburban Denver office of Tom Noe's rare-coin venture with the
Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation.
But Mr. Petro, who first read about the bureau's $50 million investment with
Mr. Noe in The Blade on April 3, is adamant he took appropriate measures to
protect the bureau's assets as soon as there were questions of wrongdoing.
"The first story simply said he was an influential guy in the Republican Party
and he had a contract with BWC," Mr. Petro told The Blade last week. "I might
have looked at it that it's not the world's greatest investment from my
perspective, but that's not a cause of action."
A "breach" of contract, "possible misappropriation," or "misdeed" - would be
necessary to begin legal proceedings, but there "was not any sense of
illegality at that point," he said.
What a great way to spend a Sunday...reading about squirming, nasty Ohio
Republicans wrapped up in the biggest scandal to hit that state in decades.
And, they are all involved.
|Saturday, 4 June 2005 at 20h 27m 44s|
I couldn't have said it better myself
"We deal in illusions, man. None of it is true. But you
after day, night after night, all ages, colors, creeds. We're all you know.
You're beginning to believe the illusions we're spinning here. You're beginning
to think that the tube is reality and that your own lives are unreal. You do
whatever the tube tells you. You dress like the tube. You eat like the tube.
You even think like the tube. In God's name, you people are the real thing, WE
are the illusion."
|Friday, 3 June 2005 at 20h 38m 4s|
What did he say?
"In my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over
and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the
"Effective propaganda must limit its points of a few and these points must
repeated until the audience understands what is meant by them."
|Friday, 3 June 2005 at 20h 33m 43s|
Remember Pat Tillman
They will even lie about those who consider themselves patriotic. The spin
must not reveal the ugly truth.
From the NewYork Times [LINK]
Pat Tillman, for example, was a popular N.F.L. player who, in a burst of
patriotism after Sept. 11, gave up a $3.6 million contract with the Arizona
Cardinals to join the Army Rangers. He was sent first to Iraq, and then to
Afghanistan, where he was shot to death by members of his own unit who mistook
him for the enemy.
Instead of disclosing that Corporal Tillman had died tragically in a friendly
fire incident, the Army spun a phony tale of heroism for his family and the
nation. According to the Army, Corporal Tillman had been killed by enemy fire
as he stormed a hill. Soldiers who knew the truth were ordered to keep quiet
about the matter. Corporal Tillman's family was not told how he really died
until after a nationally televised memorial service that recruiters viewed as a
public relations bonanza.
Mary Tillman, Corporal Tillman's mother, told The Washington Post:
"The military let him down. The administration let him down. It was a sign of
disrespect. The fact that he was the ultimate team player and he watched his
own men kill him is absolutely heartbreaking and tragic. The fact that they
lied about it afterward is disgusting."
If the administration treats our patriots this way, how can we trust them on
|Friday, 20 May 2005 at 3h 44m 7s|
No way, not us, we are innocent
|Friday, 20 May 2005 at 3h 24m 23s|
Thanks to bartcop and E Boyd
A woman in a hot air balloon realized she was lost. She lowered her altitude
a man in a boat below. She shouted to him, "Excuse me, can you help me? I
friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."
The man consulted his portable GPS and replied, "You're 30 feet above sea
level. You are at
31 degrees, 14.97 minutes north latitude and 100 degrees, 49.09 minutes west
She rolled her eyes and said, "You must be a Democrat."
"I am," replied the man. "How did you know?"
"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is technically
correct, but I have no idea
what to do with your information, and I'm still lost. Frankly, you've not
been much help to me."
The man smiled and responded, "You must be a Republican."
"I am," replied the balloonist. "How did you know?"
"Well," said the man, "you don't know where you are or where you're going.
You've risen to where
you are, due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise that you have
no idea how to keep,
then you expect me to solve your problem. You're in exactly the same position
you were in before
we met but, somehow, now it's my fault."
|Friday, 20 May 2005 at 3h 11m 40s|
Newsweek retracts but the issue still stands
Thank you Juan Cole. Thank you.
Apparently, there is no background sourcing of the disrespecting of the Quran
at Guantanamo. Thus Newsweek is being heavily pressured to recant, and is then
being portray as the excuse for why the Afghani's are revolting. It's because
of the falsehoods written about by those bad ole liberal reporters at Newsweek.
Wait, stop the presses ...
This from a Lexis-Nexis search-
The Denver Post, January 9
HEADLINE: Nightmare of Guantanamo.... U.S. prison camp in Cuba has become legal
black hole, reporter says:
"They were punched, slapped, denied sleep, had seen other prisoners sexually
humiliated, hooded and forced to watch copies of the Koran being flushed down
toilets. Eventually the pressure proved too much - they gave false confessions
that the British intelligence service, MI5, later showed to be untrue. Upon
their return to the United Kingdom they were released without being charged."
Herald Sun (Melbourne, Australia), January 3, 2005
HEADLINE: Koran prayer torture claim
LONDON -- A British detainee claims he was tortured at Guantanamo Bay for
reciting the Koran when talking was banned.
Moazzam Begg told lawyers he was tortured using the strappado, in which a
prisoner is suspended from a bar with handcuffs, Britain's Observer newspaper
Mr Begg alleged he had been shaven several times against his will and a guard
had said on one such occasion: "This is the part that really gets to you
Muslims isn't it?""
Financial Times (London, England), Oct 28, 2004
HEADLINE: Four Britons held at Guantanamo sue US government
In August Mr Ahmed, Mr Rasul and Mr Iqbal issued a 115-page dossier accusing
the US of abuse, including allegations that they were beaten and had their
Korans thrown into toilets.
USA TODAY, October 18, 2004
HEADLINE: Spy case was a 'life-altering experience' for airman
Al Halabi says he did not witness any treatment of prisoners that has now been
called into question as abusive. But he says he saw things at Guantanamo that
disturbed him. He says guards would purposely mishandle the Koran "just to see
the detainees' reaction."
Daily News (New York), August 5, 2004
HEADLINE: ABUSED AT GITMO, FREED BRITS CHARGE
"They would kick the Koran, throw it into the toilet and generally disrespect
it," Asif Iqbal wrote.
The Independent (London), August 5, 2004
HEADLINE: FATHER CALLS FOR SON'S RELEASE AFTER CAMP DELTA TORTURE CLAIMS BEGG
DEMANDS SON'S RELEASE AFTER TORTURE CLAIMS AT CAMP DELTA TORTURE
In the report, released in New York, Asif Iqbal, Rhuhel Ahmed and Shafiq Rasul -
the so-called Tipton Three - said one inmate was threatened after being shown
a video in which hooded inmates were forced to sodomise each other. Guards
allegedly threw prisoners' Korans into toilets, while others were injected with
drugs, it was claimed.
The San Francisco Chronicle, JUNE 20, 2004
HEADLINE: THE FILE: PRISON ABUSE;
Prisoners have been forced to strip naked -- nudity is a violation of Muslim
principles; forced to commit actual or simulated sex acts; prevented from
sleeping; threatened with dogs; hooded; given electric shocks; beaten with
fists, chains, boots and other objects; forced to maintain painful positions
for hours; kept in frigid isolation rooms; subjected to loud music, strobe
lights and diets of bread and water; urinated on and prevented from praying or
reading the Koran.
The Observer, May 16, 2004
HEADLINE: Inside Guantanamo Bay
'THEY HAD already searched me and my cell twice that day, gone through my
stuff, touched my Koran, felt my body around my private parts. And now they
wanted to do it again, just to provoke me, but I said no, because if you submit
to everything you turn into a zombie.
The Guardian (London) - Final Edition, May 14, 2004
HEADLINE: Guantanamo abuse same as Abu Ghraib, say Britons
According to a source, who has interviewed them in secret since their release,
they were initially too ashamed to talk about it, and are only now starting to
give details. The source said: "They are embarrassed about talking about it
because they feel humiliated. We have had an account that their religion was
used against them, that a copy of the Koran was brought in front of them and
pages torn out."
The Observer, March 14, 2004
HEADLINE: World Exclusive: Inside Guantanamo: How we survived jail hell
As Muslims, they were shocked when in repeated 'shakedown' searches of the
sleeping tents, copies of the Koran would be trampled on by soldiers and, on
one occasion, thrown into a toilet bucket. Throughout their stay at Kandahar
the guards carried out head-counts every hour at night to keep the prisoners
The Washington Post, March 26, 2003
HEADLINE: Returning Afghans Talk of Guantanamo; Out of Legal Limbo, Some Tell
The men, the largest single group of Afghans to be released after months of
detainment at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, gave varying accounts of how American
forces treated them during interrogation and detainment. Some displayed medical
records showing extensive care by American military doctors, while others
complained that American soldiers insulted Islam by sitting on the Koran or
dumping their sacred text into a toilet to taunt them.
That's 11 sources and counting. Hello. Is there anybody out there?
|Friday, 20 May 2005 at 2h 47m 28s|
--by Ari Berman
map of Uzbekistan, and Central Asia
"Such people must be shot in the forehead," Uzbekistan dictator Islam Karimov
once said of political dissidents. "If necessary, I'll shoot them myself." When
not personally gunning down his opposition, Karimov keeps busy by instructing
his security forces to boil, rape or asphyxiate political prisoners.
Luckily for Karimov, he's a key US ally in the war on terror. The brutal events
of last week only confirmed that awful reality. For months the Uzbek government
had incarcerated 23 businessmen in the eastern city of Andijan on trumped-up
charges of supporting an obscure Islamist group. Last week, militants stormed
the prison and freed the prisoners. When thousands of demonstrators, emboldened
by the jail break, assembled in Andijan's town square to protest their
country's climate of repression, corruption and poverty, Karimov travelled to
the city and instructed his soldiers to open fire on the crowd. Violence soon
spread to the border with Kyrgyzstan, as soldiers allegedly targeted women and
children. Anywhere from a few hundred to 745 people are reported dead.
The Bush Administration's response to the butchery was both comical and
sad. "We have some concerns about human rights in Uzbekistan, but we are
concerned about the outbreak of violence, particularly by some members of a
terrorist group freed from prison," Scott McClellan said. "The people of
Uzbekistan want to see more representative and democratic government, but that
should come through peaceful means, not through violence."
How peaceful change will occur when the US has supplied Karimov with $500
million in military aid and waived human rights requirements for military and
non-proliferation assistance is anyone's guess. Shortly after 9/11, Uzbekistan
granted the US a crucial air base to use for the war in Afghanistan.
The Bush Administration then began funneling $79 in aid to Uzbek security
forces at the same time the State Department was condemning "torture as a
routine investigation technique." When Colin Powell tried to cut off $18
million in additional aid for the security forces, General Richard Myers
protested, and forced Powell to restore $7 million.
And just two weeks ago, the New York Times reported that the CIA had sent at
least a dozen suspected terrorists to Uzbekistan for interrogation via a secret
rendition program. "In my view, we shouldn't let any single issue drive a
relationship with any single county," Myers said, dismissing human rights
concerns. "It doesn't seem to be good policy to me."
Meanwhile, on a recent trip to Europe, Bush appeared even more divorced from
reality than usual. "We will not repeat the mistakes of other generations,
appeasing or excusing tyranny, and sacrificing freedom in the vain pursuit of
stability," he said in Latvia. Then again, this is the man who once told the
New Yorker, "No president has ever done more for human rights than I have."
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