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First there was the 'shoe bomber' incident, which resulted in us having to doff our footwear before boarding a plane. Then there was the 'underwear bomber,' who necessitated us subjecting ourselves to invasive body scans. So what do you suppose will happen after the next attack, by the 'butthole bomber'? And after the 'vagina bomber' strikes, will we see thousands of guys lined up the next day at the TSA employment office?
E of S Nation: This isn't about sports, but if you know my work, especially A People's History of Sports in the United States, then you know I am eternally indebted to the great historian Howard Zinn who died yesterday. Please read or ignore. In tribute to Howard who always stood with the underdog, I unabashedly pick the Saints to win the Super Bowl.
In struggle and sports,
Howard Zinn: The Historian Who Made History
By Dave Zirin
Howard Zinn, my hero, teacher, and friend died of a heart attack on Wednesday at the age of 87. With his death, we lose a man who did nothing less than rewrite the narrative of the United States. We lose a historian who also made history.
Anyone who believes that the United States is immune to radical politics never attended a lecture by Howard Zinn. The rooms would be packed to the rafters, as entire families, black, white and brown, would arrive to hear their own history made humorous as well as heroic. "What matters is not who's sitting in the White House. What matters is who's sitting in!" he would say with a mischievous grin. After this casual suggestion of civil disobedience, the crowd would burst into laughter and applause.
Only Howard could pull that off because he was entirely authentic. When he spoke against poverty it was from the perspective of someone who had to work in the shipyards during the Great Depression. When he spoke against war, it was from the perspective of someone who flew as a bombardier during World War II, and was forever changed by the experience. When he spoke against racism it was from the perspective of someone who taught at Spelman College during the civil rights movement and was arrested sitting in with his students.
And of course, when he spoke about history, it was from the perspective of having written A People's History of the United States, a book that has sold more than two million copies and changed the lives of countless people. Count me among them. When I was 17 and picked up a dog-eared copy of Zinn's book, I thought history was about learning that the Magna Carta was signed in 1215. I couldn't tell you what the Magna Carta was, but I knew it was signed in 1215. Howard took this history of great men in powdered wigs and turned it on its pompous head.
In Howard's book, the central actors were the runaway slaves, the labor radicals, the masses and the misfits. It was history writ by Robin Hood, speaking to a desire so many share: to actually make history instead of being history's victim. His book came alive in December with the debut of The People Speak on the History Channel as actors, musicians, and poets, brought Zinn's book alive.
Howard was asked once whether his praise of dissent and protest was divisive. He answered beautifully: "Yes, dissent and protest are divisive, but in a good way, because they represent accurately the real divisions in society. Those divisions exist - the rich, the poor - whether there is dissent or not, but when there is no dissent, there is no change. The dissent has the possibility not of ending the division in society, but of changing the reality of the division. Changing the balance of power on behalf of the poor and the oppressed."
Words like this made Howard my hero. I never thought we would also become friends. But through our mutual cohort, Anthony Arnove, Howard read my sports writing and then gave his blessing to a book project we called A People's History of Sports in the United States.
We also did a series of meetings together where I would interview Howard on stage. Even at 87, he still had his sharp wit, strong voice, and matinee-idol white hair. But his body had become frail. Despite this physical weakness, Howard would stay and sign hundreds of books until his hand would shake with the effort.
At our event in Madison, Wisconsin, Howard issued a challenge to the audience. He said, "Our job as citizens is to honestly assess what Obama is doing. Not measured just against Bush, because against Bush, everybody looks good. But look honestly at what Obama's doing and act as engaged and vigorous citizens."
He also had no fear to express his political convictions loudly and proudly. I asked him about the prospects today for radical politics and he said,
"Let's talk about socialism.
I think it's very important to bring back the idea of socialism into the national discussion to where it was at the turn of the [last] century before the Soviet Union gave it a bad name. Socialism had a good name in this country. Socialism had Eugene Debs. It had Clarence Darrow. It had Mother Jones. It had Emma Goldman. It had several million people reading socialist newspapers around the country
Socialism basically said, hey, let's have a kinder, gentler society. Let's share things. Let's have an economic system that produces things not because they're profitable for some corporation, but produces things that people need. People should not be retreating from the word socialism because you have to go beyond capitalism."
Howard Zinn taught millions of us a simple lesson: Agitate. Agitate. Agitate. But never lose your sense of humor in the process. It's a beautiful legacy and however much it hurts to lose him, we should strive to build on Howard's work and go out and make some history.
Landrieu phone plot: Men arrested have links to intelligence community
By Sahil Kapur
Wednesday, January 27th, 2010
WASHINGTON -- Two of the three men arrested on Monday along with "ACORN pimp" James O'Keefe for "maliciously tampering" with Sen. Mary Landrieu's (D-LA) phones in her New Orleans office have ties to the United States intelligence community.
The three accused by the FBI of "aiding and abetting" O'Keefe are Stan Dai, Robert Flanagan and Joseph Basel. O'Keefe is 25, and the other three are 24.
Dai's links to the intelligence community appear to be particularly strong. He was a speaker at Georgetown University's Central Intelligence Agency summer school program in June 2009, and is also listed as an Assistant Director at the Intelligence Community Center of Academic Excellence at Trinity in D.C.
The university's president Patricia McGuire told The Associated Press that it promoted careers in intelligence but denied that it trains students to be spies.
The Trinity program received a "$250,000 renewable grant from the U.S. Intelligence Community" upon launching in 2004, according to its Web site. The program's goals are stated:
The IC CAE in National Security Studies Program was established during 2005 in response to the nation's increasing need for IC professionals who are educated and trained with the unique knowledge, skills and capabilities to carry out America's national security objectives.
The CIA summer school packet also notes that Dai "served as the Operations Officer of a Department of Defense irregular warfare fellowship program."
Dai has been an undergraduate fellow with the Washington-based national security think tank Foundation for the Defense of the Democracies (FDD), according to his College Leadership Program award biography at the Phillips Foundation -- as Lindsay Beyerstein first reported.
FDD claims that it's partly funded by the US State Department. Its Leadership Council and Board of Advisers comprise many high-profile conservative politicians and public figures -- including former House speaker Newt Gingrich, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), Weekly Standard editor William Kristol, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), former Bush official Richard Perle and columnist Charles Krauthammer.
Dai traveled to Israel for two weeks in 2004 on an FDD-sponsored trip, the Daily Herald reported. "All expenses (room, board and travel) will be assumed by FDD," FDD's Web site said of its Israel program.
A host of FDD testimonials from Academic Fellows reveal that many fellows have traveled to Israel for training and field trips. The Foundation says the course includes "lectures by academics, diplomats, military and intelligence officials, and politicians from Israel, Jordan, India, Turkey and the United States."
FDD proclaims that "Like America, Israel is at the forefront in the war on terrorism." Further explaining its interest in Israel, FDD declares:
Both the United States and Israel are democracies, and both face the same enemy. It is this connection between Israel's experience and the future of the United States that is the essence of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
One FDD testimonial, by 2004-2005 fellow Dr. Cathal J. Nolan, highlighted the group's bond with high-level intelligence and government officials in Israel:
The access which FDD provided to top government officials--and to academic, police, security service, and intelligence experts at the highest levels--was truly remarkable. I know of no other foundation or fellowship program which is able to provide so much top-level access and first-hand intelligence and security service information in so compact a form, or in such an intellectually stimulating environment.
The CIA and Office of Director of National Intelligence have both told Politico that despite Dai's evident connections to the intelligence community, he never officially worked for them.
Dai's co-conspirator Robert Flanagan is currently seeking a Master of Science degree from the Missouri State University's (Fairfax, Virginia) Defense and Strategic Studies program, according to his LinkedIn profile (which was captured by Beyerstein before it was taken down Tuesday.)
The DSS Web site description affirms its connections to "the intelligence community":
The program's location also provides DSS with the opportunity to draw adjunct faculty members from the top ranks of government, the defense industry, and the intelligence community.
The program also appears to have a close relationship with the conservative establishment. Inside Higher Ed reported in 2007 that the program's "full-time faculty of three and its nine affiliated lecturers tend to come mainly from positions in Republican administrations and conservative-leaning institutions."
It appears to be an elite program and one Facebook group bills it as ardently conservative on national security and foreign policy issues. "We Do Defense (far) Right!" it proclaims:
Are you preparing for the inevitable U.S. v. ChiCom War? Are you praying every night for the employment of Ballistic Missile Defense? Do you think nuclear weapons are important for American security? Do you think MAD is a trashy liberal theory? Are you educated by great professors with real life experience?
Then this is the place for you.
Flanagan has also blogged for the conservative Pelican Institute until as recently as this month. In one post last month, he highlighted criticisms directed at Landrieu.
Flanagan's father, William Flanagan, is currently the acting US Attorney for Louisiana's western district. But because Flanagan was arrested in the state's eastern district, his father will not oversee his prosecution.
The New Orleans newspaper NOLA.com, which first broke the news, reported that "one of the four was arrested with a listening device in a car blocks from the senator's offices." The FBI's affidavit noted that Flanagan and Basel were in the building with O'Keefe, and a federal law enforcement official confirmed to AP that Dai was the one in the car.
The New York Times pointed out that "[t]he [FBI] affidavit did not accuse the men of trying to tap the phones, or describe in detail what they did to the equipment." But the optics of the situation have led to suspicions that bugging Landrieu's phones was their intention.
Although Robert Flanagan's Facebook page has been removed, the other three all list each other as "friends" on the social networking site.
All four of the men arrested in the plotMonday have well-documented conservative ties, The Associated Press revealed. Three of the suspects wrote for conservative publications while in college, and Flanagan has written for the national Pelican Institute.
Flanagan's blog, flanaganreport.com, has also been deleted, but some of its content can still be found in Google's archives. In one post, Flanagan criticized former vice president Dick Cheney.
Joseph Basel was listed by the University of Minnesota, Morris in 2005 as one of its fifteen "College Republicans."
The publications O'Keefe and Basel wrote for while in college allegedly received money from the nonprofit education foundation The Leadership Institute.
"Leadership Institute Vice President David Fenner said in a phone interview this morning that the group had 'informal, above-board relationships' with both James O'Keefe and Joseph Basel when they were college students," Talking Points Memo reported Wednesday.
Landrieu's office released the following statement on the incident, according to NPR:
Because the details of yesterday's incident are part of an ongoing investigation by federal authorities, our office cannot comment at this time.
The community activist group ACORN slammed O'Keefe, who angered them after unveiling their ostensibly dodgy practices. "Couldn't have happened to a more deserving soul," the group posted on its Twitter feed.
The incident "is further evidence of his disregard for the law in pursuit of his extremist agenda," ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis told AP in a statement.
Additional research provided by Ron Brynaert
Tom Degan's Daily Rant
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Are corporations really persons?
Do corporations think?
Do corporations weep?
Do corporations fall in love?
Do corporations grieve when a loved one dies as a result of a lack of adequate health care?
Do corporations have loved ones?
Are corporations even capable of loving?
Do corporations sometimes lose sleep at night worrying about disease, violence, destruction, and the suffering of their fellow human beings?
Do corporations feel your pain?
Can a corporation run for public office?
Is a corporation capable of having a sense of humor? Is it capable of laughing at itself? (EXAMPLE: "So these two corporations walk into a bar....")
If a corporation ever committed an unspeakable crime against the American people, could IT be sent to federal prison? (Note the operative word here: "It")
Has a corporation ever walked into a voting booth and cast a ballot for the candidate of its choice?
We all know that corporations have made an ocean of cash throughout our history by profiting on the unspeakable tragedy of war. But has a corporation ever given its life for its country?
Is a corporation capable of raising a child?
Does a corporation have a conscience? Does it feel remorse after it has done something really bad?
Has a corporation ever been killed in an accident as the result of a design flaw in the automobile it was driving?
Has a corporation ever written a novel or a dramatic play or a song that inspired millions?
Has a corporation ever risked its life by climbing a ladder to save a child from a burning house?
Has a corporation ever won an Oscar? Or an Emmy? Or a Tony? Or the Nobel Peace Prize? Or a Polk or Peabody Award? Or the Pulitzer Prize in Biography?
Has a corporation ever performed Schubert's Ave Maria?
Has a corporation ever been shot and killed by someone who was using an illegal and unregistered gun?
Has a corporation ever paused to reflect upon the simple beauty of an autumn sunset or a brilliant winter moon rising on the horizon?
If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a noise if there are no corporations there to hear it?
Should corporations kiss on the first date?
Could a corporation resolve to dedicate its life to being an artist? Or a musician? Or an opera singer? Or a Catholic priest? Or a Doctor? Or a Dentist? Or a sheet metal worker? Or a gourmet chef? Or a short-order cook? Or a magician? Or a nurse? Or a trapeze artist? Or an author? Or an editor? Or a Thrift Shop owner? Or a EMT worker? Or a book binder? Or a Hardware Store clerk? Or a funeral director? Or a sanitation worker? Or an actor? Or a comedian? Or a glass blower? Or a chamber maid? Or a film director? Or a newspaper reporter? Or a deep sea fisherman? Or a farmer? Or a piano tuner? Or a jeweler? Or a janitor? Or a nun? Or a Trappist Monk? Or a poet? Or a pilgrim? Or a bar tender? Or a used car salesman? Or a brick layer? Or a mayor? Or a soothsayer? Or a Hall-of-Fame football player? Or a soldier? Or a sailor? Or a butcher? Or a baker? Or a candlestick maker?
Could a corporation choose to opt out of all the above and merely become a bum? Living life on the road, hopping freight trains and roasting mickeys in the woods?
I realize that this is pure theological speculation on my part but the question is just screaming to be posed: When corporations die, do they go to Heaven?
Our lives - yours and mine - have more worth than any goddamned corporation. To say that the Supreme Court made a awful decision on Thursday is an understatement. Not only is it an obscene ruling, it is an insult to our humanity.
Bloomberg: Maybe A Secret Banking Cabal Does Run The World After All
AIG cover-up proof that "conspiracy theorists" aren't so crazy, writes columnist
Paul Joseph Watson
Friday, January 29, 2010
In another measure of how what the establishment labels "conspiracy theory" is quickly becoming mainstream, Bloomberg News carries a story today acknowledging that those derided as "crazy" for warning that the world is run by a secret banking cabal have largely been proven right in light of the AIG cover-up.
"The idea of secret banking cabals that control the country and global economy are a given among conspiracy theorists who stockpile ammo, bottled water and peanut butter. After this week's congressional hearing into the bailout of American International Group Inc., you have to wonder if those folks are crazy after all," writes Bloomberg's David Reilly today.
"Wednesday's hearing described a secretive group deploying billions of dollars to favored banks, operating with little oversight by the public or elected officials."
Reilly goes on to describe how the New York Fed conducted a backdoor bailout (or in plainer terms a wholesale looting of the taxpayer) of banks like Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Merrill Lynch & Co., Societe Generale and Deutsche Bank AG, and then sought to keep it secret from the public.
Reilly also highlights another telling quote by Representative Marcy Kaptur during the hearing on Wednesday, when she told Geithner, "A lot of people think that the president of the New York Fed works for the U.S. government. But in fact you work for the private banks that elected you."
Reilly savages Tim Geithner's denial of any involvement in the scandal and concludes with stating, "When unelected and unaccountable agencies pick banking winners while trying to end-run Congress, even as taxpayers are forced to lend, spend and guarantee about $8 trillion to prop up the financial system, our collective blood should boil."
As we have constantly emphasized, as the global government and the financial takeover accelerates, it's becoming harder and harder for the elite to hide the true intention of what they are doing, which is centralizing power into fewer hands, destroying sovereignty and creating a one world order run by an unelected, undemocratic authoritarian system.
So whereas "conspiracy theorists" were once sidelined as paranoid kooks, as more and more of what they warned about comes to fruition, they gain more credibility and the establishment finds it more difficult to neutralize what they are saying by means of character assassination.
The Bloomberg writer's admission that the "conspiracy theorists" were probably right reminds us of former Clinton advisor Dick Morris' appearance on Fox News last year, when he pointed out that people who have been sounding the alarm bells over a global government takeover for decades have also been vindicated.
"Those people who have been yelling `oh the UN's gonna take over, global government', they've been crazy but now they're right!," stated Morris on Sean Hannity's show.
Bailout cop: TARP's not working
By David Ellis, staff writer
January 31, 2010
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The watchdog charged with monitoring the government's $700 billion bailout unleashed one of his harshest criticisms of the program to date, questioning its overall effectiveness.
In his latest quarterly report to Congress, special inspector general Neil Barofsky said that the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, has failed to boost bank lending as well as halt the spread of foreclosures -- two key aims of the sprawling program.
"Whether these goals can effectively be met through existing TARP programs is very much an open question at this time," Barofsky said in the report.
When Congress enacted TARP, the hope was that injecting capital into hundreds of banks would spur lending and keep the economy from spiraling even deeper into recession.
But since then, lending to both consumers and businesses has continued to decline.
Earlier this month, the Treasury Department reported that the 22 banks that got the most aid from the government's various bailout programs have cut their small business loan balances by $12.5 billion since April.
The Obama administration did propose a joint program between the Treasury Department and the Small Business Administration in October to make capital cheaper for community banks that commit to increasing their small business lending.
Three months later however, the government is still drafting guidelines for that initiative.
Barofsky, whose office has been closely tracking the evolution of TARP, also criticized the Obama administration's Home Affordable Modification Program.
Even as Treasury allocated $35.5 billion towards that foreclosure-prevention program as of the end of last year, only 66,500 homeowners have received permanent modifications, with another 787,200 homeowners in trial modifications.
Under fire for the low number of people receiving long-term help, the Treasury Department in late November ramped up pressure on servicers to convert borrowers to permanent modifications.
Still, there is no sign that the rate of foreclosures is slowing down anytime soon. Earlier this month, RealtyTrac, the online marketer of foreclosed homes, reported that foreclosure filings surged to a record 3 million in 2009, up 21% from 2008.
There was at least one bit of good news from Barofsky's latest report however. He acknowledged that while the ultimate cost will still be "substantial" for American taxpayers, it will be less than originally estimated.
In December, the White House echoed those sentiments after it lowered its projections for the ultimate cost of TARP from $341 billion to $141 billion, as banks have raced to repay government aid. Embattled lenders Citigroup and Bank of America returned a combined $65 billion to government coffers in December.
However, the American public is still expected to incur a massive loss in the end -- the question is just how much it will be. A separate estimate issued earlier this year by the Congressional Budget Office warned that TARP will ultimately cost taxpayers approximately $159 billion.