Sunday, 27 November 2011

Democracy - The pipe dream

I've been in an ongoing debate with my mother about the merits of "democracy" as we know it.

"Gogs in a wheel" OR "Jobs be damned...be a good person"

These are lessons that I've been taught over the years and ideals that I've taken to heart. I don't wanna be a cog in a wheel. Dammit, I am the freakin' wheel, not a cog !!

Free trade, global trade, global banking and all those other theories that are supposed to benefit us all have run amok. We, here in the west have lost our minds. Money has become the new god. Babylon has returned and it's a lot bigger now. We spend more on the military, against a threat that's amorphous, we've been duped into believing that civil liberty is exchangeable for security and we've been arrested for arguing against the bullshit of it all.

I'm a Canadian, a once proud Canadian. I am now left wondering where my country's leadership is steering me (and my fellow 30M compatriots). We kept out of Iraq because it wasn't "right" which turned out to be prudent. But we leapt in with both feet into Afghanistan which is now becoming our version of Vietnam (part deux). No win, no victory, only ongoing losses in lives, souls and yes...Money.

I'm rambling because I'm pissed off. I have so many things to scream about BUT, like a "nice" person, I've kept it under wraps. Today, no more. I'm tired of being nice. Tired of the system working me over.

Tired of watching those that don't care about me making decisions that will directly hurt me.

To the 99% I say I am with you. To the 1%, watch your back.

Revolution is coming and it ain't gonna be kind.

Capitalism was meant to offer each and every one of us a path to better ourselves but what it's become is a path for us all to better improve a few others. The media would have you believe that the beneficiaries of our current economic & political system are you & I.....Really?

Just out of curiosity, when was the last raise you got? Did you get a bonus last year? Are you improving the whole work/life balance thing? Answer NO. You're working longer, harder, for less and with less job security! But we're being told that if we run the wheel a little bit harder next month, things may improve...........Sure.....For the bottom line.

The Europeans took it too far to the "left" and we here in North America have taken it too far to the "right" but there is a workable middle ground. We don't need to bankrupt our society to achieve it either. Everyone can have a slice of cake and be happy. It's the greedy MotherFu##ers who need to be restrained.


Sunday, 13 November 2011

Silvio's finest...God I love democracy


ROME—Silvio Berlusconi, who resigned as prime minister on Saturday after dominating Italy for 17 years with a mix of political talent and brazen behaviour, has a sense of humour that often landed him in trouble.
Here are some of his memorable quotes:
Nov. 2011: Berlusconi comments on the state of Italy’s economy. “Life in Italy is life in a prosperous country. We see that on every occasion, consumption has not gone down, the restaurants are full, you have trouble booking seats on aeroplanes, holiday areas are totally booked out on long weekends. I don’t think that if you went to live in Italy that Italy is feeling anything that could resemble a serious crisis.”
Oct. 2011: In remarks to party deputies in parliament, Berlusconi suggests his ruling PDL party should rename itself “Forza Gnocca!” a play on the name of his original Forza Italia! (Go Italy!) party, using a slang term for female genitals.
Sept. 2011: In widely reported wiretapped conversations, Berlusconi brags of fending off a line of young women outside his door and “doing only eight girls, because I couldn’t do more.”
Nov. 2010: “As always, I work without interruption and if occasionally I happen to look a beautiful girl in the face, it’s better to like beautiful girls than to be gay,” he tells a meeting at a motorcycle industry show in Milan.
April 2009: During a visit to survivors of an earthquake in the central Abruzzo region, who were staying in emergency tents, Berlusconi says: “They should look at it as a weekend of camping.”
Nov. 2008: Berlusconi hails Barack Obama as “handsome, young and also suntanned”, after he was elected the United States’ first black president.
Feb. 2006: “I am the Jesus Christ of politics,” Italian media quote Berlusconi as telling supporters. “I am a patient victim, I put up with everyone, I sacrifice myself for everyone.”
Feb. 2006: “Only Napoleon did more than I have done,” he tells a TV talk show. “But I am definitely taller.”
Jan. 2006: Berlusconi promises to give up sex until the next election. “Thank you dear Father Massimiliano,” he tells a preacher who praised him for defending family values. “I’ll try not to let you down and I promise you two and a half months of complete sexual abstinence until April 9.”
June 2005: Berlusconi says he used his charms to persuade Finland’s president, Tarja Halonen, to give up her country’s claim to host the new European Food Safety Authority. “I had to use all my playboy tactics, even if they have not been used for some time,” he said. Finnish ambassador protests.
Sept. 2004: “Mussolini never killed anyone. Mussolini sent people on holiday in (internal) exile,” Berlusconi tells Britain’s Spectator magazine, replying “yes” when asked if he thought the World War II dictator was “benign”.
July 2003: “Mr. Schulz, I know there is in Italy a man producing a film on the Nazi concentration camps. I would like to suggest you for the role of Kapo. You’d be perfect,” Berlusconi told socialist German lawmaker Martin Schulz, who was heckling him during his debut at the European Parliament. A kapo was a concentration camp inmate who was given privileges for supervising prisoner work gangs.
June 2003: “One citizen is equal to another (in the eyes of the law) but perhaps this one is slightly more equal than the others, given that 50 percent of Italians have given him the responsibility of governing the country,” he says, referring to himself, during an appearance at his corruption trial in Milan.
Dec. 2002: “The most keen can certainly find a second job, maybe unofficial,” Berlusconi says, encouraging laid-off Fiat workers to seek employment on the black market.
Feb. 2002: During a group photograph at an informal EU summit in Spain, Berlusconi raises two fingers behind the head of the Spanish foreign minister, Josep Pique, in the traditional Latin gesture for a cuckold.
Oct. 2001: Berlusconi causes an outcry in the Muslim world when he says the West should be aware of its own “superiority”. “We should be conscious of the superiority of our civilisation, which consists of a value system that has given people widespread prosperity in those countries that embrace it, and guarantees respect for human rights and religion,” he said. “This respect certainly does not exist in the Islamic countries.”

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Wealthy, Un-Educated & Broke (but armed to the teeth...)

The USA is bemoaning it's lost status as a world power....and one of the reasons is


Saturday, 5 November 2011

Farewell to an old friend over the years. Andy Rooney

First off, I'd like to express how deeply & truly sad I am at the death of Andy Rooney from CBS' 60 Minutes.

I grew up watching that show every Sunday night. If you knew me as a kid, it was playing in my home every Sunday when you were over for some of my mom's barely edible steaks, if you knew me as a young adult then it was playing every Sunday over Chinese/Pizza takeout AND if you had known me on Oct 6, 2011 when he did his last broadcast, I was there watching as well.

Andy represented to me a kindly, grumpy, wise and yet childish grandfather. He said some pretty pertinent shit, called it like he saw it and for all his faults, he was at least honest with himself and his audience.

I will miss him and his bushy eyebrows every Sunday from now on.

RIP Andy, you will be missed in my household.



Some quotes stolen from CNN (don't worry...they can afford it)


(CNN) -- Andy Rooney, who died Saturday at the age of 92, had the last word each week on the CBS news magazine "60 Minutes." Here are some of his great lines from those essays, along with a few others, that reveal his talent as a writer and the dry wit that made him famous.

"I try to look nice. I comb my hair, I tie my tie, I put on a jacket, but I draw the line when it comes to trimming my eyebrows. You work with what you got." -- from an essay on his eyebrows, Nov. 24, 1996

"We need people who can actually do things. We have too many bosses and too few workers. More college graduates ought to become plumbers or electricians, then go home at night and read Shakespeare." -- from an essay on finding a good job, March 21, 2010

"We didn't shock them, and we didn't awe them in Baghdad. The phrase makes us look like foolish braggarts. The president ought to fire whoever wrote that for him." -- on the start of the war in Iraq in 2003

"I recently bought this new laptop to use when I travel. Look at that. Fits right into my briefcase. It weighs less than three pounds. I lose that much getting mad, waiting to get on the plane through security at the airport." -- from an essay on computers, Feb. 11, 2009

"We can all be prouder to be human beings, because that's what they were. They make up for a lot of liars, cheats, and terrorists among us." -- on the astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger after it exploded on takeoff in 1986

"Not many people in this world are as lucky as I've been. ... All this time I've been paid to say what is on my mind on television. You don't get any luckier in life than that." -- from Rooney's final "60 Minutes" essay, Oct. 2, 2011

"One of the things we can be sure of over the July 4th weekend is that news reports will keep telling us how many of us are going to die in automobile accidents." -- from Rooney's first "60 Minutes" essay, July 2, 1978

"The third rule of life is this: Everything you buy today is smaller, more expensive, and not as good as it was yesterday." -- from an essay on coffee cans, Oct. 23, 1988

"A lot of these products are actually pretty good. But why are they always trying to con us with the contrived pictures on the box that don't look anything like you get when you eat it?" -- from an essay on the pictures on food packages, Dec. 4, 1988

"I don't know anything offhand that mystifies Americans more than the cotton they put in pill bottles. Why do they do it? Are you supposed to put the cotton back in once you've taken a pill out?" -- from an essay on pill bottles, Oct. 12, 1986

"I understand shipping -- you have to expect to pay for the stamps or for the freight company -- but what's this handling they always have? How much does handling cost, anyway? I don't want a lot of people handling something I'm going to buy before I get it. How much would it cost if you didn't handle it before you sent it to me?" -- from an essay on fine print, March 12, 1989

"Dogs are nicer than people." -- from an essay on the true things in life, Dec. 5, 2007

"I did not believe in the war. I thought it was wrong to go into any war. And I got to the war, and saw the Germans, and I changed my mind. I decided we were right going into World War II." -- from a CBS interview with Morley Safer, Oct. 2, 2011

"I am interested in details. If you go into anything far enough, you get into the details of it, and people turn out to be interested in what makes things work." -- from a 2010 interview in The Colgate Scene

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Boggling, Beautiful & Insane !! Base Jumping & Flying Squirrels

Laws for 21st century: A guide to Canada’s proposed cyber investigation bills

Kathryn Blaze Carlson Oct 22, 2011 – 10:35 AM ET | Last Updated: Oct 23, 2011 11:01 AM ET


Canadians spend more time online than anyone else in the world — an average of 44 hours per month — and nearly a third of the population owns a smartphone, spending more than 17 hours on the device each week. So when the Conservative government reintroduces three pieces of lawful access legislation aimed at giving police greater powers and more tools to conduct investigations using new technologies, Canadians should have a clear understanding of what is on the table. However, much of the rhetoric circulating online about the legislation is patently untrue, distracting from the meat of the bills and the very real privacy implications at stake. Although it is unclear whether the bills will appear exactly as they did when they were first tabled in the spring, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said this month his government is committed to reintroducing the lawful access legislation. Post reporter Kathryn Blaze Carlson has studied the previous legislation and spoken to experts. Here, she offers up eight things it would do — and three it would not:

1. CREATING “BACK DOORS” FOR POLICE INTERCEPTION The Investigative Powers for the 21st Century Act would require telecommunications and Internet service providers to be capable of decrypting, decoding, and preserving historic and real-time online and telephone communications, essentially creating built-in “back doors” for police interception. Some providers already have this capability, but they preserve information on their servers for different lengths of time depending on company policy. Some smaller providers do not have this capability at all, particularly certain ones in northern Ontario and Quebec, said Christopher Parsons, a doctoral candidate at the University of Victoria studying digital surveillance. Tom Stamatakis, president of the Canadian Police Association, said it is “very frustrating from an investigative perspective” when police obtain a court order to intercept communications, only to learn the relevant Internet service provider is technically incapable of digging up the communications data. The act would also give the RCMP and CSIS the authority to conduct background security checks on any employees who are involved in intercepting communications. Mr. Parsons said it is unclear whether the legislation will target anything more than the “low-hanging fruit” because savvy criminals will be able to evade authorities by encrypting their messages and sending them through several network nodes.


2. OBTAINING BASIC CUSTOMER INFORMATION WITHOUT A WARRANT Police could demand that telecommunications and Internet service providers turn over a customer’s name, address, telephone number, email address, and Internet protocol address — and they could do so without a warrant under exceptional circumstances. “When Internet service providers hear ‘exceptional circumstances,’ they hear ‘whenever (police) want,’” Mr. Parsons said. Michael Geist, chair of Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, said that sort of customer information could be linked with other bits of information to build a detailed profile. It can also be used to “out” someone using a pseudonym in an online chat forum. “All of a sudden, you go from ‘HoneyBunny14’ or ‘BlackAnarchist’ to ‘John Smith’ living at a particular address with a particular phone number,” Mr. Parsons said, adding that social activists are concerned police will use the provision to monitor people organizing legal protests or expressing dissent online. Beyond that, the target is not necessarily the only person using a particular Internet protocol address, so others could be inadvertently monitored at a later stage in the investigation. Mr. Stamatakis said this sort of additional power would be exercised to investigate only the most serious crimes, including child pornography, organized crime and terrorism. “The legislation recognizes the technology criminals are using today,” he said, echoing Mr. Toews comments earlier this month that the Criminal Code contains out-of-date language such as the word “telegraph.”

3. CREATING NEW POLICE POWERS TO OBTAIN COMMUNICATIONS DATA Without a warrant, police could make a “preservation demand” requiring telecommunications and Internet service providers to single out a customer and preserve for 90 days what Dwayne Winseck, a Carleton University communications professor who has studied the Internet for two decades, called “meta data.” So-called meta data is communications information generated during the creation, transmission or reception of a communication including the type, time, duration, origin, and destination of the communication. Police would then have to ask a judge for a “production order” to actually obtain the preserved information. Once police get the court order, they could, for example, find out who a person called on their cell phone, the duration of the call, and when the call was placed. Importantly, the proposed legislation excludes the actual content of the conversation. Once police have a copy of what they want, the service providers must destroy the information. The warantless provision is a welcome one, Mr. Stamatakis said, because it acts as a stop-gap measure while police work to obtain a warrant — a lengthy, labour-intensive process at times.

4. CUSTOMERS MAY NEVER KNOW IF, OR WHY, THEY WERE TARGETED The proposed surveillance legislation says authorities could prohibit telecommunications and Internet service providers from telling a customer that he or she was the subject of information disclosures. The potential cumulative effect of all this legislation, said Mr. Geist, is self-censorship: “What we’re creating is nothing like the Chinese firewall … but I think it could have a chilling effect in terms of people’s willingness to express themselves online, even if they’re not doing anything illegal.”

5. POSSIBLY INCREASED COSTS FOR CELL PHONE AND INTERNET SERVICE If telecommunications and Internet service providers are forced to upgrade their technology and train their staff to use it, then their capital and operating costs will inevitably climb. “Customers might end up paying the added cost for something that could be used against them at any time,” Mr. Parsons said, adding the requirement could also squeeze out smaller, cash-strapped providers.

6. TRACKING DIALED NUMBERS WITHOUT A WARRANT The proposed legislation would allow police to install and use number recorders without a warrant in “exigent circumstances.” A number recorder, which records the telephone numbers associated with outgoing and incoming calls, would be installed remotely by a telecommunications provider at their call centre hub. The installation can last up to 60 days, but it could be extended to one year if a warrant is obtained and if the investigation involves organized crime or terrorism.

7. COVERTLY ACTIVATING DEVICES TO TRACK CELL PHONES AND VEHICLES The proposed legislation brings police powers into the 21st century by tacitly acknowledging that vehicles and mobile phones — and therefore the people using them — can be tracked using GPS or cell towers. The Criminal Code currently says police can, with a warrant or without one in an emergency, “install, maintain and remove a tracking device in or on any thing, including a thing carried, used or worn by any person.” The proposed bill would extend that list to include the power to “activate” a device, “including covertly.” Mr. Parsons said this allows police to “take advantage of existing technologies,” and said he would not object to the provision if it ensured there would be court oversight.

8. OPENING THE DOOR TO “FISHING EXPEDITIONS” The legislation surrounding preservation and production orders would allow police to get information from telecommunications and Internet service providers based on “reasonable grounds to suspect” the information would “assist an investigation.” The existing Criminal Code does not offer a similarly vague suspicion, but rather stipulates “reasonable grounds to believe” an offence “has been or is suspected to have been committed” or that the information will “afford evidence respecting the commission of the offence.” Mr. Winseck said this opens the door for police to go on “fishing expeditions” and potentially “turns the relationship between the cops and (Internet Service Providers) into a routine one.”

… AND THREE MISCONCEPTIONS

1. HYPERLINKING TO HATE PROPAGANDA WILL BE CRIMINALIZED When the legislative summary of one of the bills surfaced saying “the offences of public incitement of hatred and willful promotion of hatred may be committed… by creating a hyperlink that directs web surfers to a website where hate material is posted,” onlookers criticized the bill as overly far-reaching. However, the actual bill makes no explicit reference to hyperlinking, instead expanding the definition of “communicating” hate material to include “making available.” It is true the vague definition of “communicating” could capture posting a link to another website, but a recent Supreme Court libel decision will likely quiet that fear: The judges decided unanimously this week that a person cannot be held responsible for what appears on a hyperlinked site.

2. POLICE WILL GET NEW POWERS TO LISTEN IN ON PRIVATE COMMUNICATIONS
The legislation does not extend police powers to intercept the actual content of private communications, for example what was said in a telephone call or written in an email. Mr. Toews has said those claims — put forward by online privacy activists — are a “complete fabrication.” Also, the Criminal Code already allows police to intercept private communications without a warrant, so long as the situation is urgent and the interception could prevent serious harm to a person or property.

3. INTERNET PROVIDERS WILL MONITOR ALL CANADIANS, ALL THE TIME
The government has been accused of embarking on warrantless online wiretapping where Canadians will be constantly monitored, but Mr. Geist said on his blog these charges amount to “political softball.” Yes, telecommunications and Internet service providers will need the capability to preserve information on all users, regardless of whether or not they are subject to an investigation. But those providers must only preserve and produce information relating to users who are actually targeted by police.

National Post kcarlson@nationalpost.com

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Damn Straight Skippy !!


In an interview published Monday, taken in Times Square during Saturday’s global day of protests, Pulitzer-winning writer Chris Hedges explained his view of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement and why he’s supporting it.
“I spent 20 years overseas, I’m a war correspondent,” he said. “I came back and realized that corporations have carried out a coup d’état in my country.”
Hedges wrote for The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News and The Christian Science Monitor, and was part of the team that won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting, for a series of articles examining the terrorist attacks on the United States and profiling the al Qaeda network.
“I covered the street demonstrations that brought down Milošević, I’ve covered both of the Palestinian intifadas, and once movements like this start and articulate a fundamental truth about the society that they live in, and expose the repression, the mendacity, the corruption and the decay of structures of power, then they have a kind of centrifugal force, you never know where they’re going.”
He went on: “What happens, and it’s true in all of these movements as well, is the foot soldiers of the elite, the blue uniform police, the mechanisms of control, finally don’t want to impede the movement. At that point, the power elite is left defenseless. So, where’s it going? No one knows. Even the people most intimately involved in the organization don’t know. All of these movements take on a kind of life and color that in some ways is finally mysterious. The only thing I can say, having been in the middle of similar movements, is that this one is real … And this one could take ‘em all down.”
Hedges went on to say that large segments of the blue uniform police largely agree with the 99 Percent movement, and that many other police are frustrated because protesters aren’t breaking windows, which they “know how to handle.” He added that the protesters’ “non-hierarchical structure” for decision making is “brilliant,” and suggested that he had nothing he could possibly teach them.
Finally, addressing an individual standing off-camera, Hedges concluded: “For me, I got kids. It’s not about me anymore. It’s about my childrens’ generation. I think my passion for what you are doing — I would even use the word love — comes from the fact that I look as you as fighting on behalf of my little three-year-old, and when I … On Friday morning, of course I was up to find out what happened … And I did what I do now, which is to start crying. God bless you all.”

This video was published to YouTube on Monday, Oct. 17, 2011.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The Everest of Amateur Sailing ?!?

A friend of mine has lost his freakin' mind and is now trying to drag me into it.

Seriously though, what he's setting out to do IS for a good cause and looks like one hell of an adventure so I'm gong to chip in.

Have a look for yourself and see if it's something you can get behind, if only for a few bucks. I mean just the thought of him freezing cold in some open boat is worth the cost of admission!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Dali Llama - One of my heroes

Nuff Said.....


Slow the F*@K Down

Someone shared this with me today and I thought I'd pass it along.


Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Economist blasts GOP’s ‘seven biggest economic lies’

A really good primer on the economy by Mr. Riech. Former Labor Secretary Under President Clinton, now a Harvard Economist & Professor.

What I'm saying is this guy probably knows a LOT more about the economy and it's triggers than some politician who just got elected based on how many times he/she says "God Bless America" or how photogenic he/she is.
___________________________________________________________


By Robert Reich
The President’s Jobs Bill doesn’t have a chance in Congress — and the Occupiers on Wall Street and elsewhere can’t become a national movement for a more equitable society – unless more Americans know the truth about the economy.

Below is a short (2 minute 30 second) effort to rebut the seven biggest whoppers now being told by those who want to take America backwards. The major points:

1. Tax cuts for the rich trickle down to everyone else.
Baloney. Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush both sliced taxes on the rich and what happened? Most Americans’ wages (measured by the real median wage) began flattening under Reagan and has dropped since George W. Bush. Trickle-down economics is a cruel joke.

2. Higher taxes on the rich would hurt the economy and slow job growth.
False. From the end of World War II until 1981, the richest Americans faced a top marginal tax rate of 70 percent or above. Under Dwight Eisenhower it was 91 percent. Even after all deductions and credits, the top taxes on the very rich were far higher than they’ve been since. Yet the economy grew faster during those years than it has since. (Don’t believe small businesses would be hurt by a higher marginal tax; fewer than 2 percent of small business owners are in the highest tax bracket.)

3. Shrinking government generates more jobs.
Wrong again. It means fewer government workers – everyone from teachers, fire fighters, police officers, and social workers at the state and local levels to safety inspectors and military personnel at the federal. And fewer government contractors, who would employ fewer private-sector workers. According to Moody’s economist Mark Zandi (a campaign advisor to John McCain), the $61 billion in spending cuts proposed by the House GOP will cost the economy 700,000 jobs this year and next.

4. Cutting the budget deficit now is more important than boosting the economy.
Untrue. With so many Americans out of work, budget cuts now will shrink the economy. They’ll increase unemployment and reduce tax revenues. That will worsen the ratio of the debt to the total economy. The first priority must be getting jobs and growth back by boosting the economy. Only then, when jobs and growth are returning vigorously, should we turn to cutting the deficit.

5. Medicare and Medicaid are the major drivers of budget deficits.
Wrong. Medicare and Medicaid spending is rising quickly, to be sure. But that’s because the nation’s health-care costs are rising so fast. One of the best ways of slowing these costs is to use Medicare and Medicaid’s bargaining power over drug companies and hospitals to reduce costs, and to move from a fee-for-service system to a fee-for-healthy outcomes system. And since Medicare has far lower administrative costs than private health insurers, we should make Medicare available to everyone.

6. Social Security is a Ponzi scheme.
Don’t believe it. Social Security is solvent for the next 26 years. It could be solvent for the next century if we raised the ceiling on income subject to the Social Security payroll tax. That ceiling is now $106,800.

7. It’s unfair that lower-income Americans don’t pay income tax.
Wrong. There’s nothing unfair about it. Lower-income Americans pay out a larger share of their paychecks in payroll taxes, sales taxes, user fees, and tolls than everyone else.
Demagogues through history have known that big lies, repeated often enough,  start being believed unless they’re rebutted. These seven economic whoppers are just plain wrong. Make sure you know the truth – and spread it on.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Top Gear - For those that didn't know......

For all you Petrol-Heads.....This one's for you...Enjoy !!


Sunday, 9 October 2011

Occupy WallStreet - Their new champion ?

Alan Grayson, former representative from Florida just dished out a can of whoop-ass on the Bill Maher show. He got a standing ovation for explaining, in plain language just why the Occupy Wall Street movement is out there and just what they're about.

Kudos to Mr. Grayson !


Thursday, 6 October 2011

Steve Jobs (February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011)


Occupy Wall Street - A Primer for you

Some of you may be a bit hazy on just what all this Occupy Wall Street stuff is all about, so below are a few points to think over. There's plenty more but these should get you going.


________________________________________________________________

It's ok for you & I to worry about our job prospects or job security, our dwindling bank accounts, our non-existent or destroyed retirement savings, the future prospects for our kids, losing our homes, etc..etc..etc...

BUT


As of 2007, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 34.6% of all privately held wealth. The next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 50.5%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 85%. Only 15% of the wealth goes for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers).

The top one percent of households has 38.3% of all privately held stock, 60.6% of financial securities, and 62.4% of business equity. 

According to the Federal Reserve, U.S. corporations held a record $1.93 trillion in cash on their balance sheets in 2010. But they are not investing to expand their companies, grow the real economy or create good middle-class jobs. Corporate CEOs are literally hoarding their company's cash-except when it comes to their own paychecks. AFL-CIO

In 2010, Standard & Poor's 500 Index company CEOs received, on average, $11.4 million in total compensation- a 23 percent increase in one year. Based on 299 companies' most recent pay data for 2010, their combined total CEO pay of $3.4 billion could support 102,325 median workers' jobs. AFL-CIO 

________________________________________________________________

So now that you've been armed with some arguing points, why not print off a few of the posters below, hand them out to your friends and go protest in YOUR city / country.





Occupy Wall Street - Photos

A sampling of photos from around the inter-webs.
























Occupy Wall Street - And anywhere else you can

The New York City General Assembly — the decision-making body for the “Occupy Wall Street” protest in lower Manhattan — approved a statement of purpose on Friday amid concerns that the movement lacked a clear message.

As corporations enjoy near record profits and Americans face staggering unemployment, protesters have pledged to occupy Wall Street in lower Manhattan until something is done about corporate greed and the influence of the wealthy on American politics. The protesters have been camped out in New York’s old Liberty Plaza, now called Zuccotti Park, since September 17.


As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.
 
As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. 

We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. 

We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.
  • They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.
  • They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.
  • They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.
  • They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.
  • They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless animals, and actively hide these practices.
  • They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.
  • They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.
  • They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.
  • They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.
  • They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.
  • They have sold our privacy as a commodity.
  • They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press. They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.
  • They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.
  • They have donated large sums of money to politicians, who are responsible for regulating them.
  • They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.
  • They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives or provide relief in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantial profit.
  • They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.
  • They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.
  • They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.
  • They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad. They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.
  • They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts. *
To the people of the world, We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.

To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.

Join us and make your voices heard!

*These grievances are not all-inclusive.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Who's buying your elections ? (The Canadian Edition)

Election time in Ontario. That's in Canada in case you're not up on your geography. You know, the province where Toronto is....No ?

OK....the place where the CN Tower is ?

Anyways, in case you were interested, the following should give you some idea of just who is buying the vote in Ontario. Who the "special interests" are, which political party is "for sale" and at what price not to mention who's hoping that a few well placed donations will grow into political access, favoritism and beneficial legislation.

Lastly, consider the amounts below and then compare them with what's been raised historically in US State elections. We may have politicians as inept and corruptable as any other country but at least ours come cheap !!
 
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Graphic: The flow of political donations in Ontario


Unlike the federal government and some provincial governments, Ontario has not banned corporations or unions from donating to political parties. The province allows donors to give up to $9,300 to a party each year, well above the federal limit of $1,100 for individual donations. Companies can exceed the provincial contribution limits by donating through subsidiaries that are legally separate from their parent company, while unions can rack up significant spending by donating through their local bargaining units. Of the more than $14-million that Ontario’s three main parties have collected in pre-campaign donations of at least $100 this year alone, nearly $9-million came from corporations and unions. Here, the National Post’s Tamsin McMahon analyzes some of the biggest spenders:


Parties by the numbers
Despite two back-to-back majority governments, the Liberals trail the Conservatives in pre-campaign donations for 2011, collecting about $6-million to the Tories’ $7-million. The NDP had raised about $1.4-million before the start of the election on Sept. 7. Construction firms were the most generous donors, donating $1.5-million, with slightly more going to the Conservatives than the Liberals and just $29,000 to the NDP. Real Estate developers handed out more than $700,000, with most of it going to the Conservatives and just $215,000 to the Liberals. Banks, insurance companies and financial firms were also more generous when it came to the Tories, donating $500,000 compared with $285,000 to the Liberals. Health-care companies, including pharmacies and long-term care facilities and energy producers handed out their money equally to the two main parties. Green-energy firms favoured the Liberals, although nearly $100,000 of their $250,000 in donations went to the Conservatives.
Top donors:
Research in Motion and its executives
The Waterloo company might be taking a hit in the competitive smartphone and tablet market, but that didn’t stop the BlackBerry makers from being among the most generous donors when it comes to politics. The company and its two top executives donated a combined $55,000 to political parties, much of it to the Liberals. Research In Motion itself is listed as having donated $9,300 to the Conservatives and $9,500 to the Liberals, while founder Mike Lazaridis and his wife, Ophelia Tong, donated a combined $18,600; just $500 went to the Conservatives and the rest to the Liberals. RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie and wife Heidi together gave $18,600 to the Liberals.
Triple M Metal and its directors
The Brampton-based metal recycler, which also has business interests in real estate and construction, has given $48,000 to political parties this year, with most of it going to the Liberals. Directors Michele and Antonio Giampaolo have donated a combined $12,800 to the Liberals in 2011, while Triple M’s related businesses, which include an aluminum remelt company and a steel processor, have donated another $35,000. Of that, $9,300 went to the Conservatives and the rest to the Liberals. The government slapped the company with $250,000 in fines over the past two years for workplace safety and environmental violations.
Northland Power and its founder
The Toronto-based renewable energy company with nearly two dozen solar, hydro and thermal-energy projects under development around the province, has donated more than $40,000 to political parties, although half of that has come from company founder James Temerety. Northland itself donated $19,200 this year, with slightly more going to the Conservatives than the Liberals. Mr. Temerety and his wife, Louise, have personally donated another $13,000 to the Conservatives, a company controlled by Mr. Temerety donated another $9,000 to the Conservatives. Donating to both the Liberals and Conservatives “is the proper way to behave as an Ontario-based company to continue to help the political process along,” Northland president John Brace said.
Aecon
The Toronto-based public infrastructure construction giant has donated nearly $37,000 to political parties, almost all of it going to the Liberals. Its parent company handed the Liberals $9,300, while three of its subsidiaries donated another $23,000. The company, whose public-sector projects include roads, bridges, airport facilities and government facilities, donated another $5,000 to the Conservatives.
Unions
Public-sector unions were some of the biggest donors to political parties, with teachers’ unions among the most generous. Like corporations, unions are allowed to exceed the $9,300 limit by giving individual donations through their local bargaining units. That has allowed the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association to donate more than $64,000 — most of it going to the Liberals. Of that, the union’s Ottawa bargaining unit has been the most generous, donating $9,300 to each the Liberals and the NDP. Public elementary teachers have donated another $36,000 this year, mostly to the Liberals, while secondary teachers have given more than $50,000. District 12, the union’s Toronto bargaining unit, has donated the most, giving near the maximum to both the Liberals and the NDP. The district runs a separate political action committee working to “Keep Toronto Tory Free.”
Police officers have donated a total of $31,000 to political parties, with the OPP union donating slightly more to the Liberals than the Conservatives, while the Toronto Police union has given mostly to the Conservatives. The Police Association of Ontario has given evenly to both parties.
Private-sector unions also flexed their financial muscles, with workers in the construction trade donating more than $100,000 to political parties. Almost all of that came from the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and virtually all of it went to the Liberals.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Who here thinks YOU aren't being spied on ?

 Taken from WIRED
Which Telecoms Store Your Data the Longest? Secret Memo Tells All By David Kravets Email Author September 28, 2011 | 6:30 am |
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The nation’s major mobile-phone providers are keeping a treasure trove of sensitive data on their customers, according to newly-released Justice Department internal memo that for the first time reveals the data retention policies of America’s largest telecoms.

The single-page Department of Justice document, “Retention Periods of Major Cellular Service Providers,” is a guide for law enforcement agencies looking to get information — like customer IP addresses, call logs, text messages and web surfing habits – out of U.S. telecom companies, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon.

The document, marked “Law Enforcement Use Only” and dated August 2010, illustrates there are some significant differences in how long carriers retain your data.

Verizon, for example, keeps a list of everyone you’ve exchanged text messages with for the past year, according to the document. But T-Mobile stores the same data up to five years. It’s 18 months for Sprint, and seven years for AT&T.

That makes Verizon appear to have the most privacy-friendly policy. Except that Verizon is alone in retaining the actual contents of text messages. It allegedly stores the messages for five days, while T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint don’t store them at all.

The document was unearthed by the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina via a Freedom of Information Act claim. (After the group gave a copy to Wired.com, we also discovered it in two other places on the internet by searching its title.)

“People who are upset that Facebook is storing all their information should be really concerned that their cell phone is tracking them everywhere they’ve been,” said Catherine Crump, an ACLU staff attorney. “The government has this information because it wants to engage in surveillance.”

The biggest difference in retention surrounds so-called cell-site data.

That is information detailing a phone’s movement history via its connections to mobile phone towers while its traveling. Verizon keeps that data on a one-year rolling basis; T-Mobile for “a year or more;” Sprint up to two years, and AT&T indefinitely, from July 2008.

The document also includes retention policies for Nextel and Virgin Mobile. They have folded into the Sprint network.

The document release comes two months before the Supreme Court hears a case testing the government’s argument that it may use GPS devices to monitor a suspect’s every movement without a warrant. And the disclosure comes a month ahead of the 25th anniversary of the Electronic Privacy Communications Act, an outdated law that the government often invokes against targets to obtain, without a warrant, the data the Justice Department document describes.

“I don’t think there there is anything on this list the government would concede requires a warrant,” said Kevin Bankston, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “This brings cellular retention practices out of the shadows, so we can have a rational discussion about how the law needs to be changed when it comes to the privacy of our records.”

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) has proposed legislation to alter the Electronic Privacy Communications Act to protect Americans from warrantless intrusions. Debate on the issue is expected to heat up as the anniversary nears, and the Justice Department document likely will take center stage.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Motorcycling Landscapes

These are the types of scenes that you imagine you'll experience when you first buy a motorcycle. Stark, beautiful, inspiring and any other adjective you can think of......

Sadly, where I live, it's mostly traffic lights, congestion and steaming asphalt.

But hey, at least I can look at pics like these from time to time...



Her Eyes

Something about the sparkling eyes that caught my attention.


Sunday, 25 September 2011

How the EURO became broken

It's an interesting read and a primer if you (like me) want to make sure you've got your facts straight before you carry on condemning everything that's bad about Globalization, "Free Trade" and the power of money & greed. 

Also, as a side bar, it's interesting that CNN's web reporting is vastly better than the on-air crap that they feed the world. I wonder if they could learn a lesson from themselves but then again, that presupposes that their audience can actually read.  

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How the euro became a broken dream
By Irene Chapple, CNN
September 23, 2011 -- Updated 1544 GMT (2344 HKT)
The euro, a currency binding 17 European nations, is under pressure due to the eurozone's debt crisis.
The euro, a currency binding 17 European nations, is under pressure due to the eurozone's debt crisis.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Treaty of Maastricht which enabled the euro's creation was signed in 1992
  • The euro was available as cash by 2001
  • It is used over the eurozone's 17 countries
  • But it is under pressure due to the eurozone's debt crisis
London (CNN) -- Why was the euro created?
The euro, which created the world's largest trading power, was designed to link together the European nations for trade and political purposes. It was born amidst political and economic upheaval as Germany headed towards reunification - with the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 - and communism disintegrated in Eastern Europe. The European Union was put in place after World War II, but as the economic winds shifted the drive to create a single economic and political bloc intensified.
The Treaty on European Union, known as the Treaty of Maastricht, was signed in the Netherlands city of Maastricht on February 7, 1992, before entering into force in 1993. It created the structure for a single currency, later named the euro, to be born. The currency's symbol was inspired by the Greek letter epsilon, with the notes and coins available by 2001. They were issued by the European Central Bank, which was based in Frankfurt to placate Germany's loss of its beloved Deutschmark.
But now the European dream -- which has the euro at its centre -- has been hobbled. Eurozone members, led by Germany, are being forced to bail out the weaker economies in a financial crisis which is threatening to drag the bloc into a recession and is reverberating across the globe.

The rise and fall of the euro
How does the euro work?
Creating a currency which could be used across such disparate economies was always a difficult task. The idea for a single currency was promoted by Jacques Delors, a former French minister of finance, who held the European Commission presidency from 1985 to 1995.
The aim was to stamp a European identity in the markets, bringing, among other things, price stability, growth and trading benefits. The Delors report of 1989 defined a monetary union objective as being, in part, a "complete liberalisation of capital movements."
The final structure was a bloc in which political and fiscal integration was minimal; The euro was not designed to create a 'United States' of Europe. Instead the Maastricht Treaty created specific conditions for entry into the single currency. Among other criteria, member countries must not allow annual budget deficits to exceed 3% of gross domestic product, and public debt must be under 60%.
The bloc's monetary policy was to be controlled by the European Central Bank, which had a remit of setting interest rates and controlling inflation around 2% or below. However, each country would retain its own tax policies, budgets and banks and issue their own bonds - with prices varying depending on the risks investors associated with each country.
Who belongs to the eurozone?
Of the 27 countries in the European Union, 17 nations -- comprising almost 332 million people -- use the euro as their currency. The eurozone's biggest economy is Germany, followed by France.

Europe growing nervous over Greece
The weaker economies are Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain, a group which gained the unwanted acronym PIIGS as the crisis unfolded. Other members are Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Finland, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Slovenia with the most recent edition, Estonia, joining in January this year. Sweden does not belong to the eurozone but is obligated to do so in the future, according to the terms of the treaty.
Those who don't qualify for the euro, even though they are members of the EU, are Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania. In 2000 Denmark rejected the adoption of the euro in a referendum, while the UK also stayed out.
Why didn't the UK want to belong to the eurozone?
Debate over joining the single currency was fierce. Margaret Thatcher, Conservative prime minister from 1979 to 1990, was anti-euro. The Tories remained largely eurosceptic under Thatcher's successor, John Major.
Then came Black Wednesday, the day in 1992 on which Britain was forced to halt its membership of euro's precursor, the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. Black Wednesday was seen as proof a monetary union and European currency could not work, says Hans-Joachim Voth, research professor of economics at Barcelona's Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
Adding to the political humiliation, Black Wednesday is also remembered as the day which enabled investor George Soros to collect an estimated $1 billion in profits from betting against the pound.
Tony Blair's Labour government, which succeeded Major's Conservative government, was in favor of joining the euro, but only if certain economic tests were met. They weren't, and the UK stayed out. Blair reiterated his support of the euro in an interview with the BBC this year, but said the case for Britain was not compelling. Public opinion polls have showed opposition to adopting the currency at up to 75%.
According to Voth, Britain "has always had the problem of wanting to be a part of Europe, without really signing up for the European project."
What was the issue with Greece?
The Greek economy has been in trouble since the country joined the euro, due to a mix of overspending and inability to raise enough revenue. In 2004, it admitted that the country's financial position was worse than reported and had breached the eurozone entry requirements.
By 2008 the government had narrowly passed a belt-tightening budget, designed to trim its massive national debt burden, triggering massive protests. In 2009, Greece admitted its deficit would be more than 12% of gross domestic product -- far higher than previous estimates and more than four times the requirements of entry into the eurozone.
The country was hit with ratings downgrades, pushing its sovereign bonds into so-called 'junk' territory, and the damage continued to spiral. Despite the introduction of brutal austerity measures - which have prompted waves of violent protests - Greece has been unable to balance its books. It is currently negotiating for the release of €8 billion in funds which it needs to pay its public sector wages. Greece will be out of money by about mid-October should the funds not be released, and likely default on its debt.
While a default is now widely expected, the consequences are not yet clear. A disorderly default, which would be sudden and unexpected, would most likely trigger global panic. An orderly default, in which creditors have clarity about the losses they will take, may ease some pain. Creditors can expect to take losses of up to 70% on their investments, according to Standard & Poor's figures.
Why is the eurozone cracking?
Greece's shifting economic data created panic among investors, who stopped buying its bonds, making it impossible to fund itself. In May 2010, Greece received a €110 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund and its eurozone partners.
A European bail-out fund was then set up to enable a more organized response to subsequent emergencies. The fund was quickly tapped again as turmoil gripped the markets. Ireland's banks were revealed to be a black hole of cash and it was forced to tap the fund for cash. Portugal followed, then Greece returned for more financial help.
While the countries which have been bailed out have specific problems - Greece's lax tax collection, and Ireland's black hole of a banking system, for example - the problem has been exacerbated by a currency which shackles the weak to the strong, economists say. Political difficulties in driving through a decisive plan for reining in the crisis has fed the panic.
What happens if a member defaults?
Nobody really knows, and the uncertainty has fed massive volatility in both the credit and equity markets across the world, driving the costs of global stocks dramatically lower and pushing both Europe and the U.S. -- which is also facing massive financial problems -- toward recession. The return of a recession will likely create increased unemployment and lower wages.
A default by Greece, or its departure from the eurozone, also carries contagion risk. That means investors will worry about other nations in trouble -- such as Italy, which makes up 17% of the eurozone economy, nearly seven times bigger than the economy of Greece -- and further increase financial instability across the globe.
Politically, it will ignite the debate about whether the European dream, and the euro, can survive, and if it should have even been created in the first place.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Mid-East peace needs fresh US approach

Interesting Read......

Shamelessly nabbed from the BBC without their permission. Original site is here

Viewpoint: Mid-East peace needs fresh US approach

A girl waves a Palestinian flag during a rally in support of the Palestinian bid for statehood recognition at the UN, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Wednesday 21 September
Yezid Sayigh of the Carnegie Middle East Center argues that the hollowness of US-led diplomacy and the more and more deeply entrenched Israeli occupation have forced Palestinian leaders to resort to trying to gain full UN membership.
Whatever the outcome of the Palestinian bid for recognition at the United Nations, the Obama administration must confront the fact that its handling of the whole affair has been a mess.
A hard look at what went wrong in US diplomacy is essential if proposals by President Barack Obama and other leaders to launch new peace talks in the aftermath of the UN decision are to avoid the same fate.
The dispatch of veteran US negotiator Dennis Ross and Quartet Special Envoy Tony Blair to dissuade the Palestinians was virtually guaranteed to arouse distrust of the administration's motives and provoke an adverse reaction.
Mr Ross is universally regarded among the Palestinian political leadership and negotiating team as biased toward Israel, and as excessively inclined to browbeat his interlocutors.
As Mr Ross's former colleague Aaron David Miller admitted: "For far too long, many American officials involved in Arab-Israeli peacemaking, myself included, have acted as Israel's attorney, catering for and co-ordinating with the Israelis at the expense of successful peace negotiations."

Israeli viewpoint

Yossi Klein Halevi, an Israeli author and political commentator, argues that all the Palestinians need to do to get a state is to convince Israelis that this state does not represent a threat.
This week, according to Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz, Mr Ross used "undiplomatic language" in addressing the Palestinian leadership. One has to wonder what the Obama administration was thinking.
Tony Blair was, if anything, an even worse choice. The Palestinian leadership not only distrust him, they disrespect him. His accounts of supposed achievements on behalf of the Palestinian economy are deeply resented as overblown and self-promoting.
In my extensive encounters over the years with international officials in the Palestinian territories, this is a widely-held view of Mr Blair's work in the region.
According to a close aide, during his brief visits to Jerusalem, Mr Blair typically arrives late for meetings he has called with senior donor representatives, speaks without an agenda or action points, and then rushes away to catch a flight back to his other activities.
Quartet irrelevant The US attempt in July to circumvent the Palestinian UN bid by recruiting the Quartet, a group that also includes the European Union, Russia and the UN, to issue "quasi terms of reference" for new peace talks was deeply inadequate in terms of substance - the other three members rejected it outright.

Palestinian UN Statehood Bid

  • Palestinians currently have permanent observer entity status at the UN
  • They are represented by the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO)
  • Officials now want an upgrade so a state of Palestine has full member status at the UN
  • They seek recognition on 1967 borders - in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza
  • Enhanced observer member status could be an interim option
More importantly, however, it confirmed just how marginal the Quartet is.
For years, the Quartet has been used by the United States to safely sideline its supposed partners while America sets the agenda and timetable for action.
One glaring example of this occurred in spring 2003. The Quartet had agreed to establish a "monitoring mechanism" to verify Israeli, as well as Palestinian, implementation of the "Roadmap to Peace", but the United States came under Israeli pressure and unilaterally discarded the mechanism when it published the official version of the Roadmap, without consulting the other Quartet members.
The time to dismantle the Quartet has long passed, since it has failed to balance and constrain US bias.
All process, no peace US diplomacy has been characterised by a multiplicity of conflicting channels, leading to confused signals and a weakened impact.
Over the past four years, the US effort has been distributed among Special Envoy George Mitchell (representing the Department of State), US Security Coordinator Gen Keith Dayton (until 2010), the White House and National Security Council and the CIA, most of whom have strained and competitive relations with one another that end up being counterproductive.
After 20 years of an ultimately futile peace process... the Palestinian leadership has lost credibility with its own people over its dealings with Israel”
Of course, dysfunctional turf battles reflect the more fundamental problem of a policy vacuum towards the Israeli-Palestinian peace process that extends back to the start of George W Bush's administration in 2001.
After 20 years of an ultimately futile peace process, the facts on the ground of the Israeli occupation and settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have become more entrenched and the Palestinian leadership has lost credibility with its own people over its dealings with Israel.
A principal factor in this outcome is that US diplomacy in the Israeli-Palestinian context has been inept and badly misjudged.
If public statements about launching new peace talks are to be credible, then the Obama administration must engage in a thorough overhaul of how it conducts its diplomacy. This is no guarantee of success, but is nonetheless the minimum bar it must pass.
Replacing the present cast of envoys and mechanisms is necessary to reach the "legitimate and balanced framework" for negotiations called for by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
To retain the old is to maintain the US monopoly on the peace process - all process and no peace - and makes it difficult for the US to present itself as an honest, credible broker.
Ironically, now that the Obama administration appears finally to have woken up, focused and sharpened its skills - even if only to thwart the Palestinian bid - perhaps it can be persuaded to direct this new-found energy into a diplomatic framework that is international rather than unipolar, and not only in name.

Yezid Sayigh is a senior associate at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut.

Unfuckable Lard Ass ?!?

I just saw heard this on the Colbert Report and after Googling it I came across the following news article....

Italy, seriously folks, this guy's gotta go.

Don't you people have any shame, any self respect, any sense of morals ? How in the hell can you tolerate having this lecherous, narcissistic, foul-mouthed, elitist pig as your head of state ?

Isn't it bad enough that he's been banging 17yr old girls who're prostitutes (I know prostitution is legal in Italy but surely not underage ones). Isn't it bad enough that this moron is making comments about the head of state of THE country that could very well be your economic saviour (or not after this)

Original post is located here
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Berlusconi calls Merkel an "unfuckable lard-arse:" reports

Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi reportedly calls German Chancellor Angela Merkel an "unfuckable lard-arse."


Berlusconi july 11
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi inside the Parliament in Rome on July 15, 2011. (FILIPPO MONTEFORTE /AFP/Getty Images)
Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi reportedly called German Chancellor Angela Merkel an "unfuckable lard-arse" during a wiretapped conversation, the Independent of London reports.
Investigators overheard the remarks during a July phone conversation between Berlusconi and the man accused of supplying prostitutes to the prime minister's parties, the Independent states. Berlusconi used the Italian phrase, "culona inchiavabile," reports the Atlantic.
More from GlobalPost: Italian voters run out of sympathy for Berlusconi
Investigators were searching for evidence against the prime minister regarding a number of charges including corruption, Germany's The Local reports.
“If the rumors are true, which are not only circulating in journalist circles but also in parliament, that the Prime Minister has spoken about Merkel in an unspeakable, unpronounceable, unacceptable way, the situation would be dramatic. Someone who has reached out their hand to us would be spat at in the face," Italian MP Rocco Buttiglione told parliament, according to The Local.
Berlusconi, 74, has made a series of what many describe as outrageous gaffes during his tenure as prime minister. Three years ago, he described President Barack Obama as "suntanned."
The latest sexist remarks concerning Merkel came as German officials were pressuring Italy over its implementation of budget cuts.
During the call, Berlusconi also called Italy a "shitty" country.