29 December 2006

The true costs of debts

The UK is finally repaying its final financial debts to the US for the loans we granted under the Lend Lease program in World War II. The total cost of the debt was a meager $4.33bn with a 2% APR, quite reasonable interest rates by any means. It only took 65 years and 3 generations to fulfill its obligations. A further cost to the British Empire was, well lets say, the loss of its empire, which evaporated after the war, costing the UK trillions of additional dollars.

The reason why I bring this up in the first place, is simply to remind everyone that the national debt of the US continues to rise at staggering rates. Even in a time of war, the ultimate costs must be measured before forces and policies are committed. In a time of peace, to allow the national debt to balloon in such an exponential rate is quite literally insane! The US debt is $ 8 , 6 1 6 , 5 6 2 , 3 0 3 , 8 8 2 . 8 7 !!! This is something I have reported on repeatedly, but it never seems to catch the attention of any national press.

I can tell you this, if my household expenditures exceeded my net income by this margin every year, my children would be living in trailer parks, if not taken away by social services before that for lack of food to eat. We live in a nation not unlike a family home, and this insane policy of giving us illusions of false prosperity by maxing out our credit cards is bankrupting everyone. How stupid can you be to not realize this?

Further, if it took the UK 65 years to pay off its $4.33bn debts, how long will it take the US to pay off its 8.6 trillion dollar debts? By that rate it will take is 1000 years to pay off our unnecessary peacetime debts (which are largely going to large corporations and the rich who send or reinvest their money overseas).

28 December 2006

Religious reciprocity

I am certainly no Catholic, but I have to agree with the Pope when he demands religious reciprocity from Muslim countries. We in the west are extremely tolerant when it comes down to it, accepting peoples of any faith. Try exercising your personal religious beliefs in regions dominated by Islam, and you will quickly see how intolerant of a religion it is.

Reciprocity means that "if Muslims want to enjoy religious freedom in the West, then Christians should have an equal right to follow their faith in Islamic states, without fear of persecution."

The double standards of muslims is apparent by the recent case of the cathedral in Córdoba, Spain. It was originally built as a testament to the greatness of Islam by the Moors during their occupation of the Iberian peninsula (it was the second largest mosque in the muslim world). Converted to a cathedral in the 1300s when the Moors finally got the boot, it remains a magnificent piece of architecture to this day.

"The Roman Catholic bishop of Cordoba in southern Spain has rejected an appeal from Muslims for the right to pray in the city's cathedral, a former mosque." according to the BBC online. Would a Hindu, Christian, pagan, etc. enter any mosque in the world and attempt to pray, they would likely be stoned to death.

This double standard is most notably evident in Jerusalem. The Temple Mount הַר הַבַּיִת (aka the Noble Sanctuary الحرم القدسي الشريف) is a similar place of dispute. It is the 3rd most holy site to muslims (depending on who you consult), but the most holy site to Jews. Yet, to avoid confrontation, Israel allows muslims to manage the site, and as a consequence nobody can pray here except muslims. Try it, I dare you. I was stopped at the door and not allowed to enter under threat of violence.

Somalia, Iraq, and the EU

Again, a post about 3 subjects. Let us start off with a huge victory in the war against terror. Ethiopia, Africas longest democracy, ardent supporter of the struggle against Islamic fundamentalism, and unfortunate victim of the Cold War (they were allies with the Communists, while the US supported Muslim terrorists as a counterbalance), has done the right thing, and sent in its armed forces to combat the takeover of Somalia by the United Islamic Clerics. The UIC, a radical Islamist group was headed toward taking over the entire country (with support by 2000 Eritrean troops), establishing Sharia (strict Islamic law, which includes beheadings, intolerance, and severe discrimination against the western values of freedom and equality), and creating a safe haven to Al Qaeda (al-Qā`ida) and other terrorist groups. Fortunately, despite the incompetent fools at the State Department, Ethiopia has supported the legimate transitional government, and intervened militarily. This has been such a stunning success, that the BBC reports that "Islamist fighters have left the Somali capital as government forces backed by Ethiopian troops advance on the city". Thank you Ethiopia for doing what is right.

Next, we head to Iraq. The nations highest (and clearly biased appointed) court ruled that Saddam Hussein must be executed within 30 days. This will likely result in a prompt execution in the within a week. Despite his heinous crimes and cruel nature (he is worse than George Bush), the kangaroo court that convicted him was clearly biased from the start and the verdict was determined long before the trial even began. This mockery to justice and clear violation to international standards can only serve to strengthen the hand of many groups. Primarily, the Baath Party (a secular Arab nationalist political party who have promised retaliation), Iraqi insurgents, and radical Islamists across the globe. If he is to be executed, let it be done in an impartial light, with just proceedings under the guidelines of an international tribunal empowered by the UN. This summary execution is just as much of mistake as the entire war and consequent occupation has been, something pushed forth by idiots with little education, wisdom, or foresight into the damage their seemingly bold actions cause. Fuel on the fire doused with more fuel. Sheer lunacy.

Finally, Gaelic (the celtic language of Ireland) has been set to get official status in the EU on the 1st of 2007. This is a huge step forward both for the respect of Ireland, linguistic diversity, and the potential strength of the Europen Union. As a union not only of nationalities, the EU could possibly become the liberator of regional independence within a united Europe, including voices for the Basques, Catalans, Corsicans, Tyrolians, Scotts, and all of the unique cultures on the subcontinent.

23 December 2006

Exxon being let off the hook

The Exxon Valdez. The world remembers this as the poster-child for the surging environmental movement. A ship runs aground, spilling at least 10 MILLION gallons of oil. Though not the largest spill of all time, the fragile ecosystem where it happened was devestated.

The BBC reports that "A US court has almost halved the damages oil giant Exxon Mobil must pay for a 1989 oil spill off Alaska". No doubt, one of the ultra conservative activist judges appointed by King George and the neocon assholes. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has a good scientific report on it.

I have a couple serious questions regarding this. One, why does ExxonMobile even need the financial penalties reduced after boasting record profits for the last 6 years in this Bush economy? I believe they posted a 10 BILLION dollar net profit last quarter alone. This is a drop in the bucket for them.

Second, and probably more importantly, why has it taken 18 years for Exxon to pay out anything for this environmental disaster? Some people who were not even born when this happened can now vote! Nearly 2 decades later.

Third, why isnt the media in the USA covering this story?

13 December 2006

Republicans trying to Steal the Senate, again

Democratic Senator Tim Johnson from South Dakota has just suffered a serious stroke, the BBC reports. Should this suspicious stroke turn out to be enough for him to resign, Republican Governor Marion Michael "Mike" Rounds has the power to appoint a replacement, who would serve until the next election (2008). Of course, as the man who signed the nations first anti-roe abortion bill (following the stuffing of the US Supreme Court with conservatives by King George), Mike Rounds would likely fill it with a republican, thereby shitting on the face of the voters of South Dakota, and worse yet, handing control of the US Senate back to the Republicans.

First off, let me state that the timing of this whole affair is extremely fishy, even suspiciously dubious. Just as suspicious as when Democratic US Senator Paul Wellstone mysteriously died in a plane crash 1 week before he was going to be re-elected in Minnesota. We have all seen the lengths the "neo-cons" will go to to silence opposition and keep their iron grip on power (irregularities in key voting districts, treasonous revealing of undercover CIA operatives when their spouses fail to tote the party line, calling democrats terrorist lovers, etc.). Is so far fetched to think there might be a conspiracy at work here?

Even if the Republicans or their evil cohorts are not responsible, would it not stand to reason that a Democrat should be appointed to fill the vacant seat? Of course, without a great degree of political pressure, including street protests, massive mailing campaigns, and the like, Republican Gov. "Mike" Rounds will surely play the final card in their strategy to steal the US Senate from the American people.

10 December 2006

Pinochet, Hastert, and Republican bullshit

General Augusto Pinochet "who terrorized his opponents for 17 years after taking power in a bloody coup, died Sunday, putting an end to a decade of intensifying efforts to bring him to trial for human rights abuses blamed on his regime. He was 91." according to Yahoo! News. Though his death may finally give thousands of people who he was responsible for repressing, torturing, and killing, it is nonetheless too bad that that he was never forced to stand trial for his crimes against humanity. This is direct relic of good old fashioned american gunboat diplomacy for those of you who dont recall, where the legimitally elected socialist president of Chile, Salvadore Allende was overthrown in a bloody coup orchestrated by the CIA. The following suppression led to the "dissappearance" (ie. abducted by the Chilean secret police and subsequent torturing, raping, and killing) of literally thousands of dissidents, intellectuals, protesters, and inconvenient bystanders.

Next, the US House Ethics "committee harshly criticized Speaker
Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., saying the evidence showed he was told of the [Foley] problem months before he acknowledged learning of Foley's questionable e-mails to a former Louisiana page. It rejected Hastert's contention that he couldn't recall separate warnings from two House Republican leaders.
", according to the AP. This is no surprise to those of us who have paid attention to the gross misconduct perpetrated by the Republicans over the last 6 years, where might made right, regardless of the price. Funny that the party that claims the moral high ground on family values issues keeps getting busted with shit like this. Paedophiles, drug use with gay prostitutes, outright lying and covering up, welcome to the GOP.

And finally, the dismal 109th Congress is finally over. But just to prove how pathetic they are, they rammed thru a decisive and moronic final bill which only approved a temporary government spending bill (a stop gap measure), renewed the Bush tax breaks for the rich (thereby increasing our 8.6 trillion dollar national debt to an ever deeper hole), and cut medicare by 5% (among many other draconian things). Yahoo! News covered the story fairly well.

05 December 2006

Wealth Inequity increasing

The World Institute for Development Economics Research just published a comprehensive report on the distribution of the worlds wealth. It found that "The richest 2% of adults in the world own more than half of all household wealth", and that "the poorer half of the world's population own barely 1% of global wealth". This comes as little surprise to us living in the United States, where the gulf between rich and poor people has been increasing exponentially since the conservatives began to take over in 1980.

Think about how unjust this situation is. Regardless of talent, skill, or hard work, generations of human beings are born into virtual slavery, condemned to a life of taking the bus to work 11 hours at 2 jobs for minimum wages just to barely squeek by. The wealth their hard work generates goes directly to the rich, who are born into a life of prestige, privilege, and comfort. These people don't understand hardship, misery, or chosing between food and gas. How fucked up is that?

Communism (the form it took in the former Soviet Union for instance) may not be the answer, but this Caveat emptor style of brutal capitalism that has been promoted by big business clearly is not the answer either. Are you a slave? Fuck that. Subvert that dominant paradigm and do not cooperate with their insideous plan. Dont buy into commercialism, dont buy a bunch of useless shit you dont need because its christmas or a birthday or some shit like that. Dont become another cog in the machine. Live free and proud.

04 December 2006

West Has Failed to Learn From 9/11

From Mosnews.com, a brilliant article and analysis on the struggle against international terrorism. Read it.