Saturday, November 29, 2008

America's hidden hungry

America's hidden hungry by Nicole Colson on

The media almost never talk about a hunger problem in the U.S. But according to "Household Food Security in the United States 2007," a report released this month by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), 11.1 percent of U.S. households--including 28.3 million adults and 12.4 million children, or one in every eight Americans--were "food insecure" during last year.

"Food insecure" is the term the USDA uses to describe households that struggled to provide enough food for all their members due to a lack of food or money.

Of course, in America, its usually not a lack of food that is the problem.

'Food insecure' should be a nominee for an award for Orwellian euphemism of the year. Replace it with 'hungry', and the report hits you in the gut a little harder.

AND IF these are the statistics through the end of 2007, the hunger crisis is sure to be much worse now with a further downturn in the economy.

Across the country, food pantries are reporting a spike in the number of people seeking help.

More fundamentally, the scale of America's hidden hunger crisis should make everyone ask how it is that a government that can find billions of dollars each week to spend on the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and hundreds of billions more on a bailout for Wall Street can't afford to feed its own citizens.

Open Thread

I've been posting articles to what I've been reading. What else are people reading (or seeing or hearing)? Post links in this open thread.

The Election, Economy, War, and Peace

The Election, Economy, War, and Peace By Noam Chomsky on Znet

There were some surprises. One was that the election was not over after the Democratic convention. By usual indicators, the opposition party should have had a landslide victory during a severe economic crisis, after eight years of disastrous policies on all fronts including the worst record on job growth of any post-war president and a rare decline in median wealth, an incumbent so unpopular that his own party had to disavow him, and a dramatic collapse in US standing in world opinion. The Democrats did win, barely. If the financial crisis had been slightly delayed, they might not have.

A good question is why the margin of victory for the opposition party was so small, given the circumstances. One possibility is that neither party reflected public opinion at a time when 80% think the country is going in the wrong direction and that the government is run by "a few big interests looking out for themselves," not for the people, and a stunning 94% object that government does not attend to public opinion. As many studies show, both parties are well to the right of the population on many major issues, domestic and international.

A tribute to Prof. Chomsky on the occasion of his 80th birthday. Happy Birthday!

"This World Order is not just murderous, it is absurd"

"This World Order is not just murderous, it is absurd" an interview with Jean Ziegler on Znet

Jean Ziegler: The collective consciousness is about to begin a process of apprenticeship and analysis. The social counterattack is getting organized. We are currently experiencing a very favorable stage of this movement. France is certainly socially unjust, but it is a vibrant democracy. Information is circulating. The freedom of the press is guaranteed. Thus, it is time for analytical reasoning to begin. Outsourcing, for example, is rooted in the concept of social dumping. In response to this, the reactions of employees have often been resignation: "There is nothing we can do, it is the market that decides." There was a very profound alienation on the part of the working classes when faced with the "invisible hand" of the market. Many workers had come to believe that unemployment, deregulation and labor insecurity were inevitable. Meanwhile, over the past decade, social protection of employees has melted like snow in the sun. However, these lies have now collapsed. The invisible hand has finally became visible: it is the hand of the predators. How will the social counterattack be organized? We do not know yet, but that is the central issue.

In the Public Interest: Between Hope and Reality

In the Public Interest: Between Hope and Reality Posted by Ralph Nader on Saturday, November 8, 2008 at

Dear Senator Obama:

In your nearly two-year presidential campaign, the words "hope and change," "change and hope" have been your trademark declarations. Yet there is an asymmetry between those objectives and your political character that succumbs to contrary centers of power that want not "hope and change" but the continuation of the power-entrenched status quo.

Far more than Senator McCain, you have received enormous, unprecedented contributions from corporate interests, Wall Street interests and, most interestingly, big corporate law firm attorneys. Never before has a Democratic nominee for President achieved this supremacy over his Republican counterpart.

Anti-terror law requires God be acknowledged

Under state law, God is Kentucky's first line of defense against terrorism. on

The 2006 law organizing the state Office of Homeland Security lists its initial duty as "stressing the dependence on Almighty God as being vital to the security of the Commonwealth."

Specifically, Homeland Security is ordered to publicize God's benevolent protection in its reports, and it must post a plaque at the entrance to the state Emergency Operations Center with an 88-word statement that begins, "The safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God."

Hey, I'm originally from Kentucky. So, I just gotta laugh. :)

Actually, if they were taking the 'christian' point of view that promoted a policy that followed Christ's advice and turned out other cheek and loved our enemies as if they were our brothers and said that then we would be safer and more secure as a nation, then I probably wouldn't be laughing.

But no, this sounds more like God will appear with his gleaming sword and defend the commonwealth like a character in a comic book.

Uproar in Police-State Britain

Uproar in Police-State Britain By DEEPAK TRIPATHI on

The arrest and interrogation of Damian Green, one of Britain’s leading opposition politicians, by the counter-terrorism police (November 27, 2009) on ‘suspicion of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office’ is an extraordinary event. Counter-terrorism officers searched his homes and offices in London and his constituency. He was questioned for nine hours and released on bail without charge, but must return next February for further questioning. The police action happened when the world’s attention was focused on the terrorist attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai.

The Conservative Party, the main opposition in the British Parliament that has been leading in opinion polls this year, is furious at the treatment of one of its star performers. In all probability, Green, a former journalist on the London Times, would be a minister if the Conservatives won the next general election. He had raised some uncomfortable questions for the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, and his government in the past year.

The Obama "Dream Team" , Rubin Clones and Other Fakers

The Obama "Dream Team" , Rubin Clones and Other Fakers by Mike Whitney on

The truth is, Obama was shoehorned into the White House because the ruling elite saw that the country was slipping into a consumer-led depression. They needed a bright new face to restore confidence and spark optimism during the tough times ahead. But now that he's been elected, they've surrounded him with the very men who, to great extent, created the present crisis. Lawrence Summers pushed for the repeal of the laws which prevented commercial banks from merging with the Wall Street casinos and he also helped to deregulate derivatives trading which now threatens to bring down the entire financial system if a major player, like Citigroup, goes under.

Friday, November 28, 2008

There will be “multiple Republicans” in the administration

Citigroup Should Be Held Accountable, Obama Aide Podesta Says

Podesta, a former chief of staff in the Clinton White House, also said Obama would complete “virtually the whole Cabinet” by Christmas, and the new president’s team will reach beyond the Democratic Party.

There will be “multiple Republicans” in the administration,” Podesta said. “You’ll see them spread throughout the administration.”

Sure, there will be lots of Republicans in this administration. What seems to be incredibly rare in this administration is anyone from the left or who might be described as 'progressive'.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Key parts of US-Iraq pact could be lost in translation: officials

Key parts of US-Iraq pact could be lost in translation: officials AFP on YahooNews.

"There are a number of areas in here where they have agreement on the same wording but different understandings about what the words mean," said one US official.

In the event the SOFA is approved, the US could simply circumvent parts of the agreement, said officials.

The American Indians could probably warn the Iraqis about the worth of treaties with the US gov.

Holiday Rituals

Ah, there are always those wonderful holiday rituals that create such warm memories when looked back on. Thanksgiving with the family, watching the Lions lose, big turkey dinners, and threats that terrorists will cause mass mayhem.

We of course hear this every holiday travel season. And so far, none come true. That's a good thing of course. But it does make you wonder about these threats that always make big news for the holidays, but which never materialize. Here's the latest, and I hope its as bogus as its predecessors.

Al Qaeda's Goal: Cripple Amtrak's N'east Corridor

If Al Qaeda terrorists have their way there will be chaos and mayhem here this holiday season, a mass transit bomb plot that would probably affect all the subway and train lines at Penn and Grand Central stations.

I can't help laughing about the call back to the evil Al-Qaida secret command post buried deep in the Kush mountains.

Terrorist: "Obama, the plot is in place. We destroy Amtrak this week!"

Obama: "Amtrak? Why are we bombing Amtrak? If we just leave it alone it will go broke and destroy itself!"

Obama: (aside after putting down the cell phone), "Ah, its so hard to find good terrorists these days."

Bailout Turkey

Bailout Turkey a cartoon on

Who yelled 'tyrant' at AG Mukasey? A judge

Who yelled 'tyrant' at AG Mukasey? A judge on

Sanders said he "passionately" disagrees with those policies and felt compelled to say so. Sanders, who is a Federalist Society member, said that he wasn't heckling Mukasey, and left shortly after his outburst.

"I believe we must speak our conscience in moments that demand it, even if we are but one voice," he said in a statement Tuesday.

Delay May Lead to Iraq Referendum on US Troops

Delay May Lead to Iraq Referendum on US Troops on

The Iraqi government continues to scramble to get ready for tomorrow’s talks on the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and tentatively the vote (though it has already been delayed twice this week).

Does anyone notice that while the Iraqi parliment is going to vote on this, and apparently the Iraqi people might just get to vote in a referendum on the occupation continuing, here in the greatest democracy in the history of the universe, we are getting no such thing.

There is no vote in the US Congress about ending the occupation and the war. And there is certainly no referendum before the American people on the issue. Instead, we get an 'election' where one candidate pretends to be an 'anti-war' candidate while really intending to do nothing but continue pretty much the same policies as before.

Meanwhile ... Congress should vote on Iraq agreement

The Iraqi Parliament delayed to Thursday the long-awaited vote on a measure outlining the terms of a U.S. troop withdrawal. In an article in the Boston Globe Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Bill Delahunt, D-Mass., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, noted it was "sad" that lawmakers on Capitol Hill did not have a similar chance to weigh in on the agreement.

Back during the campaign, Obama apparently felt that it would gain him some votes to say he wanted to have this go to a congressional vote. on SOFA

Obama and Biden also believe that any security accord must be subject to Congressional approval. It is unacceptable that the Iraqi government will present the agreement to the Iraqi parliament for approval—yet the Bush administration will not do the same with the U.S. Congress.

Karsai and Obama

The Afghan President Karsai, who the US put into power, seems to be begging the Obama administration not to 'surge' in Afghanistan.

Karzai Wishes He Could Shoot Down US Planes on

But today the Afghan President took his complaints to a new level, publicly lamenting that he was unable to shoot down the US planes which have been bombarding Afghan villages. Karzai added that if he had a rock attached to a piece of string, he’d use it to try to down the planes, “but that’s not in my hands.”

Karzai says US, NATO created 'parallel' government on

"The problem here is, in a diverting play, the presence of the international community has created a parallel government to those such as of the Afghan government that are functioning. The PRTs in certain parts of the country have become a parallel structure to the governor of the province," he told the U.N. team.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Starving for Change

Starving for Change by Chris Hedges on

Elba Figueroa worked as a nurse’s aide until she got Parkinson’s disease. She lost her job. She lost her health care. She receives $703 a month in government assistance. Her rent alone costs $750. And so she borrows money from friends and neighbors every month to stay in her apartment. She laboriously negotiates her wheelchair up and down steps and along the frigid sidewalks of Trenton, N.J., to get to soup kitchens and food pantries to eat.

Trenton, a former manufacturing center that has a 20 percent unemployment rate and a median income of $33,000, is a window into our current unraveling. The financial meltdown is plunging the working class and the poor into levels of destitution unseen since the Depression. And as the government squanders taxpayer money in fruitless schemes to prop up insolvent banks and investment houses, citizens are callously thrown onto the street without work, a place to live or enough food.

Obama Chooses Wall Street Over Main Street

Obama Chooses Wall Street Over Main Street by Robert Scheer at

Maybe Ralph Nader was right in predicting that the same Wall Street hustlers would have a lock on our government no matter which major party won the election. I hate to admit it, since it wasn’t that long ago that I heatedly challenged Nader in a debate on this very point.

But how else is one to respond to Barack Obama’s picking the very folks who helped get us into this financial mess to now lead us out of it?

OK, any commentary starting with "Ralph Nader was right" is one I had to link to. :)

Of course he was. Of course he still is. I guess we are in that short window between elections when the Democrats can acknowledge this.

Weapons Come Second. Can Obama Take on the Pentagon?

Weapons Come Second
Can Obama Take on the Pentagon?
by Frida Berrigan on (full text in comments)

Meanwhile, the Democrats over at CommonDreams are still delusional. I like Frida Berrigan. But there is no sign at all that Obama is going to cut the defense budget. He actually promised to raise it during the campaign. His much repeated promise to expand the size of the Army and the Marines. And his campaign website had more promises to increase training and 'modernize' equipment. Both are promises to raise the defense budget.

And, just in case there was any doubt, he's now proposing Bill Gates to run the "Defense Dept".

When will the Democrats learn? Not any time soon judging from this article. They keep spinning delusions as to what Obama might do, while ignoring all that he really does. Which means, if you really want change, the Democrats are not the answer.

Obama's Odious Entourage

Obama's Odious Entourage by Eric Wahlberg on

He would never have made it past the first, obscure primary without his army of selfless, grassroots activists, and his coffers were first filled by millions of small, personal donations. Surely these are the people he should honour with at least a few names. Even Clinton had his Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala (at least until she was tarred and feathered by the right). Obama’s one token progressive appointment was Melody Barnes of the Center for American Progress, who was chief counsel to Senator Edward Kennedy, and will head the toothless Domestic Policy Council.

Not one of the 23 Senators and 133 House Representatives who voted against the war in Iraq are on his transitional team or even on a short-list for an important post in his Cabinet. The only promise that might be kept is to close Guantanamo, though he could hardly do less. The entire US legal establishment seems to be pushing to end this outrage.

I think I like Vincent Chase's entourage better. :)

Now It Can Be Told (Except in North Carolina)

Now It Can Be Told (Except in North Carolina) by Steve Conn on

Attention Progressives. It’s official: Now it can be told.

Three weeks after the Presidential vote. Now it can be told. Norm Chomsky says Joe Biden’s nomination by Obama was a slap in the face (he used stronger words) to Obama’s supporters because of Biden’s positions on foreign policy and his special job of destroying credit card debtors’ pathway of escape by means of loan-shark- friendly bankruptcy reform. Now it can be told. Rob Emanuel is Wall Street’s Guy and the ultimate hawk on the War in Iraq. (Israel? Forget about it.) Now it can be told. The line- up of economic advisors and hedge fund managers who Obama selected to get us out of the mess are the very ones who got us into the mess (along with other lovely kleptocracies like the former Soviet Union). They ought to be indicted, not nominated.

I think "Norm Chomsky" is Prof Noam Chomsky's brother who also lives in Boston and hangs out at the corner bar named "Cheers". :)

The Obama Letdown

The Obama Letdown by Michael Hudson on

Reality had to raise its ugly head. Barack Obama was elected with overwhelming approval to inaugurate an era of change. And at his November 25 press conference, he said that his decisive victory gave him a mandate to change the direction in which America is moving. But his recent economic and foreign policy appointments make it clear that when he chose “change” as his campaign slogan, he was NOT referring to the financial, insurance and real estate (FIRE) sectors, nor to foreign policy. These are where the vested interests concentrate their wealth and power.