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Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 12:37 PM PDT

Hypocrisy

by lofatchow

Recently Secretary of State Clinton gave a speech to the "Community of Democracies" in which she excoriated "intolerant governments" for attacking activist and Advocacy groups.

The utter hypocrisy of attacking countries like Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Venezuela, China and Russia for the "steel vise" of repression that is "slowly crushing civil society and the human spirit," right after one attends a summit meeting such as the G20 in Canada in which social activist and advocacy groups were openly harassed, censored, arrested, and beaten is appalling.

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A recent article by Jeannine Aversa of Associated Press
outlines in clear black and white terms the reason the economy isn’t exactly bouncing back with alacrity.

Simply put, people aren’t buying stuff.

Roughly two-thirds of last quarter's GDP growth came from a burst of manufacturing — but not because consumer demand was especially strong. In fact, consumer spending weakened at the end of the year, even more than the government first thought.... They (consumers) increased their spending at a pace of just 1.7 percent. That was weaker than first thought and down from a 2.8 percent growth rate in the third quarter.

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Pity poor Mamadou Tandja. Ever since being ousted by a military coup on Thursday February 18, 2010 the former President of Niger hasn’t been getting a whole lotta love. Aside from a few un-named "supporters" Tandja has been almost universally excoriated in the press. I guess that’s what you get when you screw around with the Constitution, silence the media and refuse to leave office. (Amazing how despots and tyrants never seem to learn that when you try to stifle the press it always comes back to bite you in the end.)

So universally unlikeable was Tandja that even those who have opposed the methods employed by the army to oust him are forced to admit that the former leader was getting a bit too big for his Presidential boots. But while the military take over is being painted as everything from a popular insurgency to a benevolent rescue mission, the questions remains, was the army acting on their own, out of patriotic love for their nation? Or is there something more sinister afoot?

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Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 04:55 PM PST

Economics 101 - Please Educate Me

by lofatchow

I do my best to be an informed voter. I read copiously. I discuss issues with my friends and neighbors.

Lately, however, I find myself running up against the limits of my own ignorance. Particularly in the area of economics. Despite my best efforts I keep discovering chasm sized gaps in my knowledge that I can’t seem to cross.

I’m hoping that some knowledgeable "Kos-ian" out there can educate me.

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In the Saturday edition of Stars and Stripes General Stanley McChrystal proves once again that Afghanistan is less a theater of war and more a theater of the absurd:

McChrystal Sees Victory Ahead in Afghanistan

U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan "are not winning yet, but we are going to win," Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, told Stars and Stripes in an interview Friday.
But the general said it was not possible to say how long it will take to achieve victory, which he defined as a situation where "the insurgency is not an existential threat to the government or the people" of Afghanistan. (Italics mine)
By Drew Brown, Stars and StripesMideast edition, Saturday, January 2, 2010

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Thu Dec 17, 2009 at 03:42 PM PST

A Healthcare Offer We Can't Refuse?

by lofatchow

Imagine if Mobsters and Racketeers talked like Senators do. Their agreements might go something like this:

CHAPTER 48—MAINTENANCE OF MINIMUM ESSENTIAL COVERAGE
SEC. 5000A. REQUIREMENT TO MAINTAIN MINIMUM ESSENTIAL COVERAGE
.
a) REQUIREMENT TO MAINTAIN MINIMUM ESSENTIAL COVERAGE.
—All citizens of the United States shall for each month beginning after 2013 ensure that they and all of their dependants agree to pay protection money (hereinafter referred to as "health insurance") to the Genco Olive Oil Co. LLC.
b) SHARED RESPONSIBILITY PAYMENT.
(1) IN GENERAL.—If any citizen fails to meet the requirement of subsection (a) for 1 or more months during any calendar year beginning after 2013, then there is hereby imposed a penalty with respect to the individual in the amount determined under subsection (c).
c) PENALTIES.
(1) Penalties for failure to remit "health Insurance" shall include:  (a) a fine of not less than $750.00. (b) A stern warning not to let it happen again.
(2) Subsequent failures will result in a visit from Guido who shall break not less than one bone for every day of non-compliance.

Have a nice day.

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Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 03:25 PM PST

Unemployed?

by lofatchow

Are you out of work?

Do you want to know why you are out of work?

Walk around your house. Pick up anything that is manufactured in a factory. Turn it over, look at the label, and see where it was made. Chances are distressingly good that if you reach out and touch any manufactured item in your home, it was not made in the USA. Try it for yourself and see.

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The following article just caught my eye.

Seven men including six Americans were arrested Monday in the US state of North Carolina on charges they conspired to "engage in violent jihad," the Justice Department said.

The defendants, who include a father and his two sons, were formally indicted by a grand jury last Wednesday and were arrested by federal police on Monday morning, according to a statement from the department.

http://rawstory.com/...

Okay, I know about murder, intention to murder, conspiracy to murder. I even know about statutes against buying illegal weaponry and supporting terrorism. But "conspiracy to commit Jihad?" That’s a new one on me.

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Fri May 08, 2009 at 10:08 AM PDT

It's All About the Jobs, Stupid!

by lofatchow

Sometimes the irony contained in news headlines is so thick you need a machete to hack your way through it. Take the following two headlines gleaned from one news site this morning.

"Obama Vows to Retrain Unemployed."
"Under restructuring GM to build more cars overseas."

While the first headline displays a genuine concern for those who have lost their jobs in the recent economic downturn, when juxtaposed next to the second headline we get an economic policy that is practically surreal in its dysfuctionality.

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America has signalled a radical new initiative to bring the Taliban into the Afghan political process as part of growing efforts to achieve a peaceful resolution to the war in Afghanistan.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/...

I have been reading with some trepidation, reports on the "review" of USA Afghanistan/Pakistan policy that the Obama Administration has been conducting this week. Little snippets have been leaked to the press indicating everything from a massive surge of American forces, to 10 billion$ worth of aid to beef up the Afghan military and police forces. Each new speculation seemed to push us closer and closer to a Viet-Nam style quagmire, a quagmire that would de-rail Obama's domestic agenda as surely as Viet-Nam derailed Johnson's "Great Society." Now comes a report from the Guardian that in fact Obama may in fact be considering a solution to the Af-Pakistan mess that actually makes sense:
Give the Taliban back a share of the pie.

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Sun Mar 08, 2009 at 09:33 PM PDT

Carrots and Unmanned Killer Drones

by lofatchow

Obama is starting to show his shrewdness in international politics. On March 7, he talked to an assemblage of reporters on Air Force One:

Obama Ponders Outreach to Elements of Taliban

WASHINGTON — President Obama declared in an interview that the United States was not winning the war in Afghanistan and opened the door to a reconciliation process in which the American military would reach out to moderate elements of the Taliban, much as it did with Sunni militias in Iraq.

http://www.nytimes.com/...

The idea here is simple. Recognizing that the Taliban is far from united, why not try to increase our chances of victory in Afghanistan by negotiating with with moderate Taliban leaders to reduce the number of groups we have to fight in open warfare.

Pretty shrewd.

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Just now I read the following two news reports about incidents involving US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Together they illustrate, I think, the real reason why we will never "win" in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, or any of the other hot spots our soldiers find themselves in.

U.S. forces kill citizen, relatives say was executed
March 7, 2009 - 01:10:52

SALAH AL-DIN / Aswat al-Iraq: "U.S. forces handed over the body of a man who was shot dead to the Iraqi police in Baiji city, claiming that he was a gunman who attacked a U.S. patrol that killed him, a source from Salah al-Din police said on Saturday, while the dead man’s relatives said that the forces killed him in front of his family."

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