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Editor, The Konformist
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Major League Baseball All-Star Ballot
The MLB All-Star Game ballot is out, sponsored by Sprint. (Old-timers like myself still link it to Gilette.) Here's the URL:
FYI, here are my first picks, based on stats as of 4-25-11:
AL: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers - .338, 5 HR, 15 RBI
NL: Prince Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers - .345, 3 HR, 22 RBI
AL: Robinson Cano, New York Yankees - .304, 4 HR, 14 RBI
NL: Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds - .364, 2 HR, 10 RBI
AL: Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland Indians - .253, 4 HR, 14 RBI
NL: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies - .317, 7 HR, 16 RBI
AL: Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees - .346, 5 HR, 17 RBI
NL: Chipper Jones, Atlanta Braves - .284, 2 HR, 16 RBI
AL: Russell Martin, New York Yankees - .311, 6 HR, 16 RBI
NL: Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants - .280, 4 HR, 16 RBI
AL: Travis Hafner, Cleveland Indians - .348, 4 HR, 10 RBI
AL: Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays - .364, 8 HR, 11 RBI
AL: Coco Crisp, Oakland Athletics - .281, 1 HR, 8 RBI
AL: Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners - .309, 0 HR, 9 RBI
NL: Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers - .378, 8 HR, 20 RBI
NL: Kosuke Fukudome, Chicago Cubs - .478, 0 HR, 2 RBI
NL: Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers - .396, 5 HR, 18 RBI
Prez Bowl 2012: Donald Trump, Charlie Sheen & Others
It will probably end up being a conventional campaign, but there are some signs of potential wackiness in 2012.
Leading the charge, of course, is Donald Trump, who is getting the lion's share of the news coverage. Oddly, the reality show host seems uninterested in running as a Republican, as he has quit the party and joined the Reform Party created by Ross Perot. Also officially joining the Reform Party is its former nominee Pat Buchanan...
Trump officially joins Reform Party
October 25, 1999
Another interesting entry in the field: former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, a Republican with an extreme Libertarian streak (and that is meant as a compliment.) Like Ron Paul, Johnson embraces real libertarianism (not the phony kind sold by the Astroturf Teabagger leaders) that would both be good for the GOP and have some strong Democratic and independent crossover. Unlike Paul, he has actually been a political executive before, and thus has shown how he could practically apply his philosophy in practice, and did so in a particularly effective fashion:
"Johnson, 58, said during two terms as New Mexico governor, he eliminated the state's budget deficit and cut the rate of state government growth in half while reducing the state workforce by more than 10 percent without laying off a single qualified state worker."
Gary Johnson announces presidential bid, plans to ski Tuckerman Ravine
Thursday, Apr. 21, 2011
Besides these two, there are some other possibilities: Ron Paul again, either as a Republican or as independent, Jesse Ventura as an independent, either alone or on a ticket with Paul, Michael Bloomberg as an independent, and perhaps the most entertaining choice of all, Charlie Sheen, who has hinted at a run based on outlawing the IRS and the Fed. No word yet from Lindsay Lohan, but she has our vote...
Democracy for EU Prez?
Prez election in Europe are getting interesting too:
The European Parliament took a first step on Tuesday towards half a billion Europeans directly electing the EU president, with a vote to introduce a second ballot from which the leader would emerge.
The parliament's constitutional affairs committee wants voters to pick 25 super MEPs from an EU-wide list of candidates
Come its next elections in 2014, the parliament's constitutional affairs committee wants voters across the 27 European Union states to pick 751 constituency MEPs in essentially national contests, but now also 25 super MEPs from an EU-wide list of candidates.
The bill's sponsor, Liberal Democrat MEP Andrew Duff, told AFP on Tuesday that his plans are based in no small part on experience in Scotland, where a second, regional list effectively decides the identity of its head of government...
First step towards 'directly elected EU president'
19 Apr 2011
Awesome Quotes: Paul Krugman
"I think what people like Paul Ryan are trying to do is set us on a glide path to a much harsher society. A country in which, step by step, more and more people are cast out into a situation of not having health insurance and poverty, and so we slide back to a Victorian notion that life is full of evils and that's too bad but that's the way that God made the world. That large numbers of the poor, large numbers of the elderly just live in dire poverty and don't have health care because life is tough."
Beltway austerity values
Thursday, Apr 21, 2011
The Washington Post Editorial Page for years has been the Beltway media leader in crusading for cuts to entitlements programs for ordinary Americans in the name of battling deficit spending and the debt. That this same Editorial Page has been the leading cheerleader for every debt-fueled American war over the last decade reveals how inauthentic are their purported fiscal concerns, but any doubt about that should be forever dispelled by its Editorial today, opposing meaningful cuts to America's bloated, debt-financed military budget:
Even with significant trims in those areas, however, reaching Mr. Obama's goal would probably require cuts in the size of the Army and Marines beyond the reduction of more than 40,000 troops already proposed by Mr. Gates. Defense analyst Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution thinks it could require the elimination of more command structures and another round of base closures. What will then happen if the United States is forced into more conflicts like those of the past decade if it must intervene to prevent Iran's acquisition of a nuclear weapon or respond to aggression by North Korea, for example?
Mr. Gates, who is expected to leave office this year, said that big defense cuts "would be disastrous in the world environment we see today." While some reductions in defense are inevitable, that is a warning that the administration and Congress cannot afford to disregard.
In other words: it's vital that we continue to splurge for military spending that is almost equal to what the entire rest of the world spends combined, and that we continue to spend 6 times more than the second-largest military spender (China). Why is that? Because we may need to fight our fourth, fifth and sixth wars (not counting the covert ones) and must remain ready to start those wars at a moment's notice. There are many things one can say about someone plagued by that warmongering mentality; that they are serious opponents of borrowed spending and debt financing is most assuredly not one of them. There are undoubtedly many motives driving the Post Editors to demand that ordinary Americans -- already under severe economic stress -- "sacrifice" the remaining aspects of their safety net, but concern over the debt is manifestly not among them.
To see what the Post Editors are really all about -- and they are worth examining because they are the ultimate establishment mouthpiece -- consider which military cuts they are affirmatively advocating (beyond the elimination of weapons systems which the Pentagon says it does not want):
Defense savings beyond those already achieved by Mr. Gates are certainly possible and even needed -- though by and large they lie in areas that Congress has been unwilling to touch. As we pointed out in a recent editorial, military health care now costs as much as the war in Iraq, in part because military families including working-age retirees pay one-tenth as much for their health plans as do civilian federal workers.
Think about how rancid that is. The Post Editors and their corporate bosses are people who have used their influence as much as possible not only to start multiple wars but to vehemently argue against their end. Those wars have not, of course, been fought by Post Editors; that's why they've so blithely cheered them on and demanded their continuation: because it isn't their lives endangered by them. Their pro-war advocacy has instead imposed extreme burdens on a tiny portion of the population -- members of the military and their families -- and yet when it comes time to cut the military budget, they refuse to consider limiting the number of new wars they might want to start. Instead, they demand that the people they send off to fight their wars and their families be forced to pay more for their health care.
That's a perfect microcosm of the deficit and austerity debate taking place in Washington. It consists of privileged elites demanding that ordinary, financially strapped Americans sacrifice what little is left of their First World living standard, while the policies that benefit those elites and which they love (especially the ones that explode the deficit and debt in whose name the "sacrifice" is justified) continue indefinitely (though even the much maligned Simpson-Bowles report called for relatively significant reductions in military spending). Shielding the military budget from meaningful cuts on the ground that America must fight still more wars -- while calling for reductions in the health care benefits of those who fight them -- is about as warped a value system as one can find.
That's well into Marie Antoinette territory, but so is most of our economic policy. This is the rotted mindset -- abolition of all societal opportunity and mass prosperity accompanied by endless militarization and a gorging oligarchical class -- that lies at the heart of most instances of imperial collapse. The Post Editors are worth scrutinizing not because they're aberrations, but because they're so representative of our political and media class.
Short Life Expectancy for BP Whistleblowers?
The investigation, if it can properly be so called, of the unsolved murder of the former high ranking Pentagon official and presidential advisor John P. Wheeler III, who was also an expert on chemical and biological weapons, may be taking a turn in the direction of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Wheeler, 67, a West Point grad, was beaten and thrown into a garbage dumpster. His body was discovered in a Wilmington, Del. landfill last New Year's weekend. Both police detectives and news commentators described it as "an apparent hit," but little else was ever learned, and no suspects have surfaced.
There was great speculation by many at the time that Wheeler had begun to blow the whistle on the mysterious bird and fish deaths in Arkansas and Texas, and was about to expose the facts tying this to the chemtrails seen in our skies over the past decade.
Now the speculation may be reverting to British Petroleum and the gulf spill because a number of other BP whistle blowing scientists, before and since the Wheeler murder, have also died mysteriously, been jailed on questionable charges or disappeared without a trace.
Matthew Simmons, 67, a former energy advisor to President George W. Bush and admired among survivalist groups for his dire warnings on the upcoming commodity and fuel shortages about to hit this nation, died in his hot tub in Maine last August. Simmons had been gaining popularity as a whistle blower for blaming BP for its covered-up responsibility in defacing and vandalizing the Gulf of Mexico while hiding the truth from the general public.
Only four days later, Ted Stevens, the 87-year-old defrocked senator from Alaska, said to have received communications regarding BP's faulty blowout preventer, perished in a plane crash. British Petroleum had donated $1 million to the University of Alaska to catalog the papers from Stevens's long political career.
Roger Grooters began a cross country bike ride in Oceanside, Calif. on Sept. 10 to draw attention to the Gulf Coast oil disaster. On Oct. 6, in front of the horrified eyes of his wife, who was trailing in a support vehicle, Grooters was struck by a truck and killed instantly in Panama City, Fla.
Only a month later, Dr. Geoffrey Gardner of Lakeland, Fla. disappeared. He was investigating the unexplained bird deaths near Sarasota that are suspected to have been caused by the BP oil disaster. No one has heard from or spoken with him since.
On Nov. 15, Chitra Chaunhan was found dead of cyanide poisoning in a Temple Terrace, Fla. hotel. It was officially ruled a suicide. She worked in the Center for Biological Defense and Global Health Infectious Disease Research and left behind a husband and five-year-old child.
The following week, James Patrick Black, director of operations for BP's restoration organization for the oil spill, died near Destin, Fla. in a small plane crash.
Dr. Thomas B. Manton was one of the first to warn the public that far more oil than what BP had reported was gushing into the gulf every day and that the massive, toxic oil and chemical plumes would travel up the eastern seaboard, contaminating beaches and wildlife all the way.
"Once the winds change, it will come eastward and pollute the beaches of the west coast of Florida, and the `loop current' could carry this oil spill right around Florida, through the Florida Keys and pollute the east coast of Florida as well," Manton wrote on May 28, 2010.
Dr. Tom Termotto, national coordinator of the Gulf Oil Spill Remediation Conference, says Manton was murdered in prison. Manton had been sentenced to 15 years last August on a phony child pornography charge. Termotto and others say evidence was planted on his computer.
It is not known whether or not Anthony Nicholas Tremonte, 31, posed any threat to BP, but he too was arrested in January and charged with one count of possession of child pornography. Was this charge also faked? As an officer with the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources on the Gulf Coast, he may have known enough to qualify him for membership in this exclusive series of coincidences. He faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted.
Pat Shannan is a contributing editor of American Free Press. He is also the author of several videos and books including One in a Million: An IRS Travesty, I Rode With Tupper and Everything They Ever Told Me Was a Lie. All of Pat's books are available from FIRST AMENDMENT BOOKS. Call 2025475585 for availability and pricing.
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(Issue # 17, April 25, 2011)
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(Melchizedek Communique, MC042211) Were you there when they crucified Rod Blagojevich?
Potential jurors are being questioned for the second trial of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, also known as "Blago." With unlimited funds, federal hounds have barked ceaselessly on the trail of the increasingly impoverished Blagojevich. No longer can Blago afford the legal fire-power he had at his first trial. The federal hounds and their allies in the news media sniff blood and are salivating in anticipation.
In the early morning of Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2008, Blago had been arrested. It had been only the day before that Blago had defied the Bank of America and championed the cause of workers at Republic Windows. The then-Governor had ordered that Illinois government cease doing business with Bank of America. It is unclear why the feds chose to stage a dramatic pre-dawn raid and arrest of the Illinois Governor: Why not just wait until Blago was at work? Why did the feds instead upset the two young daughters of Rod Blagojevich when they burst into his home with needless theatrics?
Among the names which won increased publicity in connection with the Blago case is John Harris, the Governor's chief of staff. Pressure was put on Harris to testify against Blago. A Sword of Damocles hangs over the head of Harris -- Cooperate, or else! Did that same sort of pressure have anything to do with the tragic death of Chris Kelly, adviser and fundraiser for Rod Blagojevich? "Christopher Kelly died after taking an overdose of pain medications, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office." 
Another name, that of State Senator Jimmy DeLeo, a personal friend of Blago, is a "power-behind-the-power" in Illinois, according to Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass. 
What does Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. know? He had met with Blago the day before the Governor's dramatic pre-dawn arrest. 
Chicago, notices Blago in his book, The Governor, is strangely organized as if it is a Catholic Archdiocese. The Mayor's office and City Hall are like the Cardinal's residence in this perception. But now, with Rahm Emanuel shoehorned in as the next Mayor of Chicago, what does this mean for the Chicago "Archdiocese"? (Nothing is meant here, per se, against Rahm Emanuel, who is Jewish. But rather unease about Emanuel's being selected mayor privately in the smoke-filled rooms instead of by the rough-and-tumble of the democratic process is here expressed.)
In the Archdiocesal politics of Chicago, Rod Blagojevich is of Serbian nationality, and is thereby linked to the Greek Orthodox Church. In both World War I and World War II Serbia was a staunch ally of the United States. Siding with the Nazis was Catholic Croatia. And yet, during the 1990s Yugoslavian wars, the Greek Orthodox Serbs were the "bad guys" and the Catholic Croatians were relatively condoned!
Chicago politics and its political organizations "are very much like old feudal organizations from medieval Europe." Among the feudal chieftains is Richard Mell, the father of Patti Blagojevich, wife of Blago. Richard Mell holds great power in Chicago as a "ward boss." 
Another Illinois chieftain is Michael Madigan, Illinois State House Speaker. All the other state representatives have tiny operating budgets and must come crawling to Madigan for funds. Sighs Madigan with a twinkle in his eye, "They are always after me lucky charms." And, in fact, Michael Madigan resembles the Lucky Charms leprechaun.
Before he was Governor, Blago ran for Congress. Back then, he was introduced to Tony Rezko. One day Tony Rezko took Blago to a law office and introduced him to a young lawyer named Barack Obama. David Axelrod, later a senior adviser in the Obama White House, helped Blago find a chief of staff when Blago was elected to Congress. "David [Axelrod] was my media consultant in that race for Congress," confides Blago in his book, The Governor. While in Congress, Blago had a close working relationship with Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. When Blago left Congress, Rahm Emanuel came in to fill the vacated congressional seat. Emanuel managed to raise "a boatload of money" for his congressional campaign, notes Blago. One wonders, since Rahm Emanuel is a dual citizen of Israel and the United States, whether any of the "boatload" came in via the Mossad.
These and other jellyfish swim just beneath the surface of "Rod Blagojevich Part 2" now beginning. But Blago is about tapped out of lawyer money, unlike the feds who can just print all they need. And so the odds do not favor the former Governor at this point. The news media have already long-since placed a crown of thorns on Blago's head. The judge, James B. Zagel, like Pontius Pilate, has washed his hands.
By the light of burning heretics Christ's bleeding feet I track,
Toiling up new Calvaries ever with the cross that turns not back..." 
But "where today the martyr stands,
On the morrow crouches Judas with the silver in his hands." 
------- Notes -------
 "Chris Kelly suicide: Medical examiner says former Blagojevich adviser overdosed on pain medications",Chicago Tribune archives, Nov. 10, 2009
 "Stage is set for heads to roll, cash to roll in", by John Kass. Chicago Tribune, Jan. 15, 2009
 The Governor, by Rod Blagojevich. Beverly Hills, CA: Phoenix Books, 2009
 "The Present Crisis", by James Russell Lowell
China Number One in 2016
According to the IMF's latest projections, china will overtake the US as the world's largest economy in 2016. Mark Weisbrot of the London Guardian has some interesting observations on this:
China has been the world's fastest growing economy for more than three decades, growing 17-fold in real (inflation-adjusted) terms since 1980. It is worth emphasising that most of this record growth took place (1980-2000) while the rest of the developing world was doing quite badly by implementing neoliberal policy changes indiscriminate opening to trade and capital flows, increasingly independent central banks, tighter (and often pro-cyclical) fiscal and monetary policies, and the abandonment of previously successful development strategies.
China clearly did not embrace these policy changes, which were promoted from Washington by institutions such as the IMF, World Bank, and later the WTO. (China did not even join the WTO until 2002.) It is true that China's growth acceleration included a rapid expansion of trade and foreign investment. But these were heavily managed by the state, to make sure that they fitted in with the government's development goals quite the opposite of what happened in most other developing countries. China's goals included producing for export markets, promoting higher levels of technology (with the goal of transferring technology from foreign enterprises to the domestic economy), hiring local residents for managerial and technical jobs, and not allowing foreign investments to compete with certain domestic industries.
China's economy is still very much state-led, with the government controlling most of the financial system, the exchange rate, and about 44% of the assets of major industrial enterprises. That is why China was able to plow through the world recession with GDP growth of 9.8%, despite losing about 3.7 percentage points of GDP due to falling net exports...
2016: when China overtakes the USA
Wednesday 27 April 2011