Who knew?

April 28, 2010 at 1:36 am | Posted in God machine | Leave a comment
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View of the İstanbul wall from the Tekfur Sarayı (palace). Between 1880 and 1893. Lieutenant Colonel of the General Staff, Ali Rıza Bey, photographer. (Library of Congress)

(CDN) ISTANBUL, April 23 (CDN) — After a final court hearing in Israel last week, a church of Messianic Jews awaits a judge’s decision that could force an ultra-orthodox Jewish organization to publicly apologize to them for starting a riot and ransacking a baptismal service.

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Investment property in Oklahoma

April 27, 2010 at 5:39 pm | Posted in Historical, Reality Bites | Leave a comment
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Negro tenant farmer on his front porch. This farm is owned by an out-of-state woman and has been rented by this family of Negroes for eleven years. The Negro man says that the agent is changed so often that no one ever takes any interest in the condition of the land or buildings. South of Muskogee, Oklahoma. 1939 June. Russell Lee, photographer (Library of Congress)

The cost of babysitting the RNC

April 27, 2010 at 4:43 pm | Posted in politics straight up, Reality Bites | Leave a comment
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Part of an impoverished family of nine on a New Mexico highway. Depression refugees from Iowa. Left Iowa in 1932 because of father's ill health. Father an auto mechanic laborer, painter by trade, tubercular. Family has been on relief in Arizona but refused entry on relief roles in Iowa to which state they wish to return. Nine children including a sick four-month-old baby. No money at all. About to sell their belongings and trailer for money to buy food. "We don't want to go where we'll be a nuisance to anybody." 1936 August. Dorothea Lange, photographer. (Library of Congress)

For a political party that seems to have significant concerns about spending of taxpayer money, the GOP sure have a funny way of demonstrating it.

Four hundred and thirty-six members of the House of Representatives and 100 senators are each paid a base salary of $174,000 (don’t let’s even discuss their health care benefits). Additionally taxpayers pay staff salaries for each House member and senator well in excess of $500,000. It costs taxpayers well over two million dollars per day that Congress is in session.

Where is the outrage by Republicans at the astonishing waste of taxpayer money to have Congress spend yet more time writing and passing legislation because the Republican Party is unable to stop itself from deliberating misleading American voters?

Imagine

April 26, 2010 at 5:38 pm | Posted in Reality Bites | Leave a comment
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Negro Marines prepare for action. Breaking a tradition of 167 years, the U.S. Marine Corps started enlisting Negroes on June 1, 1942. The first class of 1,200 Negro volunteers began their training three months later as members of the 51st Composite Defense Battalion at Montford Point, a section of the 200-square mile Marine Base, Camp Lejeune, at New River, North Carolina. Photo shows latest type 90mm anti-aircraft gun mounted on tractor. 1943 March. (Library of Congress)

Imagine that hundreds of black protesters were to descend upon Washington DC and Northern Virginia, just a few miles from the Capitol and White House, armed with AK-47s, assorted handguns, and ammunition. And imagine that some of these protesters —the black protesters — spoke of the need for political revolution, and possibly even armed conflict in the event that laws they didn’t like were enforced by the government? Would these protester — these black protesters with guns — be seen as brave defenders of the Second Amendment, or would they be viewed by most whites as a danger to the republic? What if they were Arab-Americans? Because, after all, that’s what happened recently when white gun enthusiasts descended upon the nation’s capital, arms in hand, and verbally announced their readiness to make war on the country’s political leaders if the need arose.

Go read the rest.

Bringing the financial industry within bounds

April 26, 2010 at 11:33 am | Posted in Economy, politics straight up | Leave a comment
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Federal Reserve Building, Constitution Ave., Washington, DC (Library of Congress)

I have been having a bit of trouble ratcheting up any enthusiasm for the floridly named “Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010” (S.3217). There seems to me to be altogether too much vagueness and not enough actual regulation.

Numerian has an illuminating post suggesting the following points which are fleshed out in detail over at The Agonist:

  1. A bank license should be extended only to those financial institutions that are in the business of lending, not the business of broking or securities underwriting.
  2. A bank should not be allowed to engage in broking or securities underwriting.
  3. A bank may conduct trading only in the service of its clients, not as a stand-alone speculative venture or for the purpose of structuring complex deals.
  4. No bank should be too big to fail.
  5. All derivatives need to be traded on registered exchanges, with daily publication of marks and transparency of open interest.
  6. To be truly independent, the risk management function in financial institutions must report to the board of directors.
  7. Hedge funds and private equity businesses must be regulated by the government.
  8. The Federal Reserve regulatory function should be abolished.
  9. The revolving door between government and financial companies must be constrained.
  10. No financial company may lobby the Congress.

Apparently much could be accomplished simply by reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, which would prohibit banks from owning and trading risky securities, but last October the Obama administration put the kibosh to it, although they are now talking about “limiting” that kind of activity.

UPDATE: Yeah, what Ed said.

Back with Black

April 25, 2010 at 7:55 pm | Posted in Economy, journalism, politics straight up, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Last week William Black, author and professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri, testified before the House Financial Services Committee with regard to the financial industry. On April 23, 2010 he sat down with Bill Moyers:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The more I hear about the current “financial reform” legislation, the less I am convinced it is going to address any of the real problems.

Thank you, Bill Moyers. You will be missed.

Yeah, but it’s a dry racism.

April 24, 2010 at 10:09 pm | Posted in civil rights, politics straight up, public safety | Leave a comment
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Salinas Valley, California. Large scale, commercial agriculture. This single California County (Monterey) shipped 20,096 carlots of lettuce in 1934, or forty-five percent of all carlot shipments in the United States. In the same year 73.8 percent of all United States carlot shipments were made from Monterey County, Imperial Valley, California (7,797 carlots) and Maricopa County, Arizona (4,697). Production of lettuce is largely in the hands of a comparatively small number of grower-shippers, many of whom operate in two or all three of these Counties. Labor is principally Mexican and Filipino in the fields, and white American in the packing sheds. Many workers follow the harvests from one valley to the other, since plantings are staggered to maintain a fairly even flow of lettuce to the Eastern markey throughout the year. 1939 February. Dorothea Lange, photograher. (Library of Congress)

Effective in late July or August 2010, Arizona police will have the right to arrest anyone they suspect is not a citizen or legal immigrant. But the fine folks of the Arizona legislature aren’t satisfied with simply having police hassle anyone who doesn’t “look right.” They have made it a crime to leave home without proof of immigration status. The penalty is six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.

The first time it’s a misdemeanor but “repeat offenses would be a felony.”

Does anyone else get the feeling that some Arizonans want all non-Caucasians to permanently leave the state?

You can read the full text of the law here.

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UPDATE: This is what the people of Arizona have to look forward to:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Thanks, Crooks & Liars and 3TV for the video.

Forget about Arizona for a minute

April 24, 2010 at 2:31 am | Posted in civil rights, health, politics straight up, Reality Bites | Leave a comment
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Family living in Mays Avenue camp. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. This family had been farmers in Oklahoma until four years ago. Since then they have lived in community camp getting some food from the vegetable dumps, doing "trashing" and going on the road occasionally as migrant workers. They have been to Arizona several times to pick cotton. The man went there this fall. In this picture they are picking overipe fruit that they picked up at vegetable packing places. 1939 July. Russell Lee, photographer (Library of Congress)

What’s going on in Oklahoma is more hair-raising than the attempt by certain Arizonans to drive every non-Caucasian out of the state.

Last Monday the Oklahoma legislature passed five grossly punitive bills to punish and humiliate women who seek legal abortions.  The most outrageous requires the doctor to perform a procedure that is not medically necessary — the insertion of a vaginal probe to take pictures of the fetus to show the mother so she understands that she is a murderous bitch.

And of course, the cost of this rape is not paid for by the
State of Oklahoma. Oh, no. Women in Oklahoma would be forced to pay the expense of their own physical violation.

Another of the bills would make it legal for a doctor to withhold information from a pregnant woman about fetal abnormalities which might cause her to seek an abortion, and the woman would be barred from suing.

Fortunately the governor vetoed those two bills. The bills that he did sign require the posting of signs stating it is against the law for anyone to force a woman to have an abortion and that an abortion will not be performed until the woman gives her voluntary consent. Word is that the veto will likely be overridden.

There is no hell hot enough for the Oklahoma legislature.

The Other 95%

April 23, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Posted in politics straight up | Leave a comment
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I don’t know who the people are behind The Other 95 98% (not to be confused with a couple biologists who got to the domain name first and well worth a visit) but I appreciate the pushback.  It’s insane (what else is new?) that a fringe movement as full of hate and ignorance as the teabaggers (ahem) tea-partiers can so dominate the public conversation.

“Don’t ask, don’t tell”

April 22, 2010 at 1:30 am | Posted in Economy, House of Representatives, politics straight up, Reality Bites | 1 Comment
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The someone is William K. Black, Associate Professor of Economics and Law at the University of Missouri, Kansas City School of Law, a white-collar criminologist and former financial regulator. He told the House Financial Services Committee what few others are willing to say about the financial meltdown and the need for a serious change in attitude.

the lenders, the banks that created nonprime derivatives, the rating agencies, and the buyers all operated on a “don’t ask; don’t tell” policy

Thanks to Firedoglake for the video.

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