"Ground Control to Major Tom!"
Fare thee well, David Bowie, extraordinary man - of the stars - as are we all.
I'm really sad today as I can't help thinking about the pain he must have endured and in private. None of his millions of friends knew or could provide (or even try to provide) any comfort. As if one could in that situation at all. Overwhelming sadness.
You brought so much joy and fun into our lives with your artistic creativity, music innovation and revolutionary way of seeing our world and its possibilities. I feel those possibilities escaped gravity with you. The floodgates of praise for how you changed the lives of so many others will not soon close.
Cancer is rampant amongst us for very good reasons (and none of them good) and will claim far too many wonderful, indispensable people before it can be understood in all its complexity and contained.
Much too late for our stardust chameleon.
Go in peace.
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Don't forget the financial mayhem being documented at Max and Stacy's place. Something for everyone.
. . . Currently 59.5 million people - nearly 1 percent of the world's population - are refugees, asylum seekers or internally displaced. Half of them are children.
This crisis has everyone talking about the proper response, but very few are talking about who is profiting from this tragic situation.
The reality is that wars, including the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, fuel migration and extremism. Wars also fuel arms industry profits, which boost the industry's capacity to influence public policy and generate more sales. For example, the US Air Force has already fired so many (more than 20,000) missiles and bombs at ISIS positions that it is on the verge of running out, USA Today reported on December 3, 2015. That has to be good news for Lockheed Martin, which makes the Hellfire missile.
Today I watched "Ecological Collapse" on LINK TV (which will be on again tomorrow evening - Tuesday, January 11 - at 7:00 PM) from the "Earth at Risk 2014" event with Dahr Jamail and Diane Wilson, who were members of a panel speaking to what people can do to resist the business/government policies that will inevitably lead to further climate change.
I highly recommend that you watch it as soon as possible. It will inform you in ways you can't imagine. I know I couldn't, and I thought I had seen the worst after seeing Obama okay the arctic drilling by Royal Dutch Shell.
We know now it has to be a people's resistance movement, friends. So, let's get going! We have so little time to turn this boat around.
I also recommend Kima Cargill on "Culture of Consumerism" on "Pirate Television" as well as Bill McKibben on "Bioneers." Watch them. It'll be good for you. (And don't miss RT's "Redacted Tonight" with Lee Camp - maybe the most useful (and entertaining) real news show you'll ever see.)
ABC News severed the partnership it had with the "New Hampshire Union Leader," the state's largest newspaper, for its next Republican debate, a network spokesperson told "Politico" on Sunday.
The report did not specify exactly why the network severed its partnership, but an unnamed source told "Politico" that the relationship between the network and newspaper has been strained after the "Union Leader" participated in the Democratic debate last month and published editorials on its front page railing against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
The Republican primary debate is scheduled for Feb. 6.
"We are amused by ABC News apparently just discovering that we endorse candidates and write editorials. We have been doing both for many years and it has never been a problem with ABC or other debate sponsors," "Union Leader" publisher Joseph W. McQuaid told "TPM" in a statement.
"We consider ABC's actions to be spineless. Between bowing to the DNC and Trump, ABC is more concerned about appeasing the parties and candidates than informing voters," McQuaid said. "The "Union Leader" will continue to serve Granite Staters by being a reliable source of information about where candidates stand."
ABC didn't immediately respond to "TPM"'s request for comment.
Environmental and good-government advocates have long raised concerns about the unusually cozy relationship between Duke Energy and Gov. Pat McCrory (R), who worked for the Charlotte, North Carolina-based utility for 28 years and has received generous political support from the company.
Heightening those concerns, a WRAL News investigation this week revealed that last June, as the state was negotiating a settlement with Duke for the Dan River coal ash spill, Gov. Pat McCrory (R), Van der Vaart and other administration leaders met for a private dinner with Duke CEO Lynn Good and other company officials at the governor's mansion. Neither state officials nor a Duke spokesperson would provide any details about the discussion.
WRAL noted the unusual nature of the meeting and the inability of a McCrory spokesperson to cite examples of similar mealtime get-togethers.
"How in the world can the people of North Carolina believe their government is protecting their water from coal ash pollution when the governor and his secretary of the environment are hosting the polluter for a private dinner at the governor's mansion," SELC Senior Attorney Frank Holleman told WRAL.
By Diane Ravitch
January 10, 2016
This report on charter schools in North Carolina was written in 2015 by three members of the Duke faculty. It was cited in a summary written for the Legislature by the Department of Public Instruction. The DPI summary is being withheld by the Lt. Governor Dan Forest because it is too “negative.”
What it shows, among other things, is that charter schools are less diverse than public schools as a sector and are more segregated than public schools. Charter schools are facilitating the resegregation of the schools in North Carolina.
You can download the report here.
Sorry, Governor McCrory and Lt. Governor Forest: You may bully the DPI, but you can’t suppress the work of distinguished academics. They don’t work for you. They have tenure.
by Stephen Lendman
Drug lords come and go, El Chapo’s arrest of little consequence, doing nothing to stem the flow of illicit drugs. Business as usual continues._ _ _ _ _ _ _
His operation and others like his pale compared to CIA global drugs trafficking - a topic media scoundrels won’t touch.
Its involvement began in 1947, its first year of existence. In his book titled The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, Alfred McCoy documented CIA and US government complicity in drugs trafficking at the highest official levels.
It continues today in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, South and Central America, facilitating the global supply of illicit drugs.
Gary Webb’s expose of CIA involvement in Nicaraguan drugs trafficking, supporting the contras, dealing with Los Angeles crack dealers, made him a target for vicious vilification - hounding him out of journalism into deep depression, either committing suicide or succumbing to foul play.
He regularly received death threats. Credible sources believe he was murdered to silence him. Unidentified individuals were seen breaking into and leaving his residence before his demise.
In his books and other writings, Peter Dale Scott explained “(s)ince at least 1950 there has been a global CIA-drug connection operating more or less continuously” to this day.
“The global drug connection is not just a lateral connection between CIA field operatives and their drug-trafficking contacts.”
“It is more significantly a global financial complex of hot money uniting prominent business, financial and government, as well as underworld figures,” a sort of “indirect empire (operating alongside) existing government.”
Iran-Contra and Afghan opium cultivation for global heroin trafficking are two among numerous other examples.
Hundreds of billions of dollars of annual revenues are produced - a US government-supported bonanza for the CIA, organized crime and Western financial institutions, heavily involved in money laundering.
A 1996 Peter Dale Scott affidavit on CIA drugs trafficking explained his research into longstanding US government involvement.
“(G)overnments themselves, and the links they develop with major traffickers, are the key both to the drug-trafficking problem and to its solution,” he explained.
America is one of numerous governments involved, the most harmful and disturbing because of its imperial power and global reach, influencing or affecting virtually everything worldwide.
A 2013 UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC) World Drug Report called Israel a major international cocaine trafficking hub.
A 2012 State Department International Narcotics Control Strategy Report called “Israel’s illicit drug grade…regionally focused … more of a transit country than a stand-alone significant market.”
“The authorities continue to be concerned with illegal pharmaceutical sales, retail businesses which are suspected money-laundering enterprises, and corruption accusations against public officials.”
An earlier State Department report said “the Israeli drug market continued to be characterized by high demand in nearly all sectors of society and a high availability of drugs including cannabis, ecstasy, cocaine, heroin, hashish and LSD.”
Israel is heavily involved in money laundering. Both activities operate in tandem, involving hundreds of millions to billions of illicit dollars.
Headlines highlight Mexican drug lord El Chapo’s reported arrest after a gun battle near his Sinaloa home, according to Mexican officials, ignoring high-level ones complicit in drugs trafficking.
He escaped Mexican captivity twice before. Extradition to America may follow this time. His operations continue as usual, with or without his involvement.
Drugs trafficking is big business, corrupt governments like America and business interests heavily involved. The CIA relies on it for huge amounts of revenues.
It bears repeating. Drug lords come and go. Dirty business as usual continues unabated - unreported by presstitutes, ignoring what demands public exposure.
(Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His new book as editor and contributor is titled Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.)
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.
Paul Krugman had an interesting discussion today (in the NYT but you may read part of it free at the previous link) that garnered quite a few knowledgeable comments, which provide much more compelling reading than the original essay (some might say).
Not I, of course.
Downers Grove, Illinois
January 8, 2016
Once again, I think empirical evidence is pretty strong for a relatively simple, political answer.
The tea leaves are spread all over the place.
The first inkling that we were entering the second Gilded Age was the election of Ronald Reagan and his adoption of the idea that tax rates would somehow normalize.
That's like saying that, if George Steinbrenner had not died, the Yankees would have moderated their lust for world championships.
Reagan was sponsored by GE, backed by Bechtel. These are not charter founders of the Truman Library. These are arch-conservative corporations in which well-meaning men lose themselves in a blizzard of P & L statements.
I'm sure former caddie Jack Welch was a well meaning, foot-in-the-door salesman before he became a Fascist and Chairman of GE.
Once the CEOs of giant corporations and the oil billionaires got a toe-hold on the political system they expanded and expanded their influence until Halliburton picked Cheney for President, using Bush Jr. as a stooge.
That opened the door to the use of all kinds of political public relations firms and outright and propagandists like Limbaugh and Levin and Hannity. They earned tens of millions by promoting the value of great wealth to hicks living in shacks in Alabama and Mississippi, the solid stupid South.
That brought us Alito, Roberts and unlimited money in politics. And that brought the Kochs in and ALEX and, please, leave the rich alone.
Hitler should have had it so good.
January 8, 2016
The Powell Memo was the precipitating event for the swift rise and astounding success of big business and its control of the United States, starting in the early 1970s. The memo presented a bold strategy for how the corporate life form could take over the key portions of the system, without the other side knowing what was happening. Unless they have read the memo, they still don't.
It also should be mentioned that inequality will never be address until fraud is prosecuted. Bernie Sanders is the only person in senior levels of government talking about this; as he says regarding the financial crisis, "this crisis isn't just about greed it is also about fraud". He makes the point that to remedy it we have to deal with the fraud itself.
January 8, 2016
The problem with finding a model that explains large personal gains is that the fundamental reason for them is political power, not economics. The upper stratosphere of wealth is due to the ability of a small percentage of the population to award itself large rewards without restraint.
The only practical way to reduce that gross inequality (other than confiscating wealth) is by heavily taxing huge rewards and basically putting an upper limit on how much wealth any one individual can accumulate. It is a small number of boards dominated by CEO's and wealthy individuals that set the compensation for CEO's in a corporation, not those working for the corporation. Also by controlling huge sums in a few financial entities the upper management can skim a relatively small percentage and still award itself fabulous sums.