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Fixit Plan for the Financial Markets: Less Regulation, More Power to the Fed

Paulson’s Fixit Plan for the Financial Markets: Less Regulation, More Power to the Fed
by Mike Whitney
It is being billed as a “massive shakeup of US financial market regulation,” but don’t be deceived. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s proposals for broad market reform are neither “timely” nor “thoughtful”. (Reuters)
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson 
In fact, it’s all just more of the same free market “we can police ourselves” mumbo jumbo that got us into this mess in the first place. The real objective of Paulson’s so-called reforms is to decapitate the SEC and increase the powers of the Federal Reserve.
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Economics 101: Planet Bail-Out

Trapped on Planet Bail-Out: Bad Science Fiction  
by William Bowles
The great Polish writer, Stanislaw Lem (he wrote the novel ‘Solaris’) developed a theory of fiction writing based upon the idea that no matter how far-fetched the story or how wild the setting, that it should nevertheless be internally consistent down to the tiniest detail. Then and only then, will the far-fetched or even the impossible not only become believable, but also make a world we could live in.

The same thing may well be said about corporate/state media coverage of events as the BBC quote below so amply illustrates and, as the oscillations of a broke-down capitalist system grow ever more extreme, so too does a compliant media strain credulity as it attempts to reconcile the ‘plot’ with the total lack of continuity (as they say in movie circles) between scenes. Thus as the Channel 4 News’ email notice demonstrates,

  • “Economy: age of easy regulation over: Mervyn King has made significant comments as governor of the Bank of England to the Treasury Select Committee — the age of easy regulation is over. The regulator, the FSA, has come in for significant criticism over Nothern Rock. Interest rates are up in Iceland to 15 per cent. Icelandic owned companies, many with significant Russian participation, own a significant slab of the commerce on the British high street. There’s lots more to throw into the financial cooking bowl. The mixer has churned and Faisal Islam has a considered account of where we are now. — Channel 4’s daily email, 26 March, 2008

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A Radical Unremembered

Rolling Thunder: A Radical Unremembered
by Chris Floyd
I. Paradigm Lost

Forty years ago today, the last public figure to pose a serious, fundamental threat to the power structure that sustains the American elite in unmerited wealth and privilege was shot down in Memphis, Tennessee. Martin Luther King Jr. had gone there to help garbage workers win a living wage. He saw their struggle as part of an emerging campaign to give birth to a new paradigm for American society; in effect, to form a new union, based on economic justice, social equality -- and an adamant repudiation of state violence and empire.

He was killed for this. And his murder sent a shuddering fear throughout American society. It was a message as loud as thunder, and it still echoes and reverberates in the firmament: This is what happens to those who really threaten the golden thrones of the elite.

And for forty years now -- forty years in the wilderness -- no public figure has come even remotely close to marshalling such a coalition, such a potential for genuine reform, genuine renewal, genuine transformation of American society.

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General Delusion: Petraeus Speaks

American Grand Delusions: Why the Testimony of General Petraeus Will Be Delusional
by Tom Engelhardt
Yes, their defensive zone is the planet and they patrol it regularly. As ever, their planes and drones have been in the skies these last weeks.
They struck a village in Somalia, tribal areas in Pakistan, rural areas in Afghanistan, and urban neighborhoods in Iraq. Their troops are training and advising the Iraqi army and police as well as the new Afghan army, while their Special Operations forces are planning to train Pakistan's paramilitary Frontier Corps in that country's wild, mountainous borderlands.

Their Vice President arrived in Baghdad not long before the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki launched its recent (failed) offensive against cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia in the southern oil city of Basra.
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Bad Samaritans: A Review

Bad Samaritans: A Review
by Jim Miles
Every now and then a ‘prize’ of a book comes along that includes all the elements of good writing.  Bad Samaritans is one of them. 
Using straightforward language that generally avoids using the lexicon of economists, and explains it well when it is used, Ha-Joon Chang writes a strong narrative about the ills of the capitalist world. 
It is a combination of anecdotal history and comparative history that uses many good statistical elements to support his common sense arguments. 
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Where are the Iraqis?

Where are the Iraqis in the Iraq War?
by Ramzy Baroud
Five years after the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, mainstream media is once more making the topic an object of intense scrutiny. The costs and implications of the war are endlessly covered from all possible angles, with one notable exception -- the cost to the Iraqi people themselves.

Through all the special coverage and exclusive reports, very little is said about Iraqi casualties, who are either completely overlooked or hastily mentioned and whose numbers can only be guesstimated. Also conveniently ignored are the millions injured, internally and externally displaced, the victims of rape and kidnappings who will carry physical and psychological scars for the rest of their lives.

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Punkz 4 A-Pin: Getting Down with the Dictatorz

Progressives for Pinochet
Mickey Z.
All American progressives should unite for Augusto Pinochet. Sure, I know so many of you incredibly busy with the urgent task of pretending that a certain multi-racial motivational speaker is Frederick Douglass reincarnated...but, trust me, Augusto Pinochet (a.k.a. "A-Pin") is the real deal.

*Barack Hussein Obama (BHO) sez: "It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get to where we are today."

  • A-Pin kicks BHO's ass with this: "Sometimes democracy must be bathed in blood."
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Tipped Scales: Finding Justice in the Siegelman Case

Siegelman and the Fairness Doctrine
by Scott Horton
When CBS News’s 60 Minutes put out its report “The Prosecution of Governor Siegelman” (for which I was repeatedly interviewed) one sole affiliate, the Northern Alabama station WHNT, suffered mysterious technical problems that blocked 12 minutes—virtually the whole Siegelman story, but nothing else in the program—on its initial airing. The Washington Independent weighs in today with a very solid exploration of the issue:

"WHNT first claimed the blackout was the result of a faulty feed originating with CBS in New York. A more thorough investigation, station officials later said, revealed that the trouble was a local equipment failure preventing WHNT from receiving the CBS signal–a situation remedied 12 minutes into the Siegelman segment. In response to local complaints, WHNT re-ran the segment four hours after it was initially scheduled, and again the following evening. But the re-runs did little to cool the suspicions of Democrats. FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, a Democrat, pushed hard for an official inquiry, which was initiated nine days following the blackout."

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Chief Donny Morris: Canada's Next Newest Political Prisoner

Canada’s Latest Political Prisoners
by Justin Podur
On March 18, 2008, the Ontario Superior Court’s Judge Patrick Smith sentenced Chief Donny Morris and six other council members from the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (or KI) First Nation, a community of about 1200 people in northern Ontario, Canada, to six months in jail for ‘contempt of court.’
They defied a court order to stay away from a part of their lands, slated for mining by the Platinex Corporation.
They were also fined an exorbitant sum, but the judge applied the jail terms because he knew that they could not pay – they were already bankrupt because of the $500,000 in court fees they had paid trying to defend themselves from Platinex before the court, over the past several years. 
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The Pentagon's Cyborg Insects

Weaponizing the Pentagon's Cyborg Insects:
A Futuristic Nightmare That Just Might Come True
by Nick Turse
Biological weapons delivered by cyborg insects. It sounds like a nightmare scenario straight out of the wilder realms of science fiction, but it could be a reality, if a current Pentagon project comes to fruition.

Right now, researchers are already growing insects with electronics inside them. They're creating cyborg moths and flying beetles that can be remotely controlled. One day, the U.S. military may field squadrons of winged insect/machine hybrids with on-board audio, video or chemical sensors. These cyborg insects could conduct surveillance and reconnaissance missions on distant battlefields, in far-off caves, or maybe even in cities closer to home, and transmit detailed data back to their handlers at U.S. military bases.

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What the Classroom Didn't Teach Me About the American Empire

Empire or Humanity?
What the Classroom Didn't Teach Me About the American Empire
by Howard Zinn
With an occupying army waging war in Iraq and Afghanistan, with military bases and corporate bullying in every part of the world, there is hardly a question any more of the existence of an American Empire. Indeed, the once fervent denials have turned into a boastful, unashamed embrace of the idea.

However, the very idea that the United States was an empire did not occur to me until after I finished my work as a bombardier with the Eighth Air Force in the Second World War, and came home. Even as I began to have second thoughts about the purity of the "Good War," even after being horrified by Hiroshima and Nagasaki, even after rethinking my own bombing of towns in Europe, I still did not put all that together in the context of an American "Empire."

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