Sunday, January 30, 2011
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Justin Webb (journalist): Do you regard President Mubarak as an authoritarian ruler?
President Obama: No, I tend not to use labels for folks. I haven't met him. I've spoken to him on the phone. He has been a stalwart ally in many respects, to the United States. He has sustained peace with Israel, which is a very difficult thing to do in that region. But he has never resorted to, you know, unnecessary demagoging of the issue, and has tried to maintain that relationship. So I think he has been a force for stability. And good in the region. Obviously, there have been criticisms of the manner in which politics operates in Egypt. And, as I said before, the United States' job is not to lecture, but to encourage, to lift up what we consider to be the values that ultimately will work - not just for our country, but for the aspirations of a lot of people.(1)
1BBC interview regarding Cairo speech
Friday, January 28, 2011
Facing mounting public pressure and the demands of a powerful labor union, Tunisia's interim government named 12 new ministers to the Cabinet late Thursday and removed those with ties to ousted authoritarian President Zine el Abidine ben Ali.(1)
This shows control of the streets is absolutely decisive, as is working class power, when organized.
1'Tunisia names 12 new ministers to Cabinet' - LA Times
Thursday, January 27, 2011
In that case, business elites who had been shut out of power during the Marcos period were able to stage a counter-revolution, leaving the country miserably poor to this day. This is mostly because the Communist party - as the most visible representative of the Left - boycotted elections in 1986 which would have seen them probably gain a plurality of the vote. Keep in mind, the party's military wing controlled most of the countryside and had a strong presence in the slums of the major cities at that time. What exists now is less than a shadow. The US backed Marcos nearly until the end just as they are backing Mubarak now. The big question is whether factions of the business elite will be able to stage a counter-revolution when Mubarak steps down - as I believe he will have to. Or if the system is toppled and something much more humane put in its place.
“Mubarak has been an ally of ours in a number of things. And he’s been very responsible on, relative to geopolitical interest in the region, the Middle East peace efforts; the actions Egypt has taken relative to normalizing relationship with – with Israel. … I would not refer to him as a dictator.”
1'Joe Biden says Egypt's Mubarak no dictator, he shouldn't step down...'
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
But early Wednesday morning, firing rubber bullets, tear gas and concussion grenades, the police finally drove groups of demonstrators from the square, as the sit-in was transformed into a spreading battle involving thousands of people and little restraint. Plainclothes officers beat several demonstrators, and protesters flipped over a police car and set it on fire.
The notion that violence against humans is equivalent to burning up a car is part of the context of our society. Property of the wealthy and their hired thugs (police) is sacrosanct in advanced capitalist countries.
Monday, January 24, 2011
Musicians of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO), on strike since October 4, performed at another sold-out support concert Saturday in the Detroit suburb of Grosse Pointe Woods. The concert featured DSO Concertmaster Emmanuelle Boisvert performing two Beethoven romances for violin, No. 1 in G Major and No. 2 in F major. It concluded with Camille Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No. 3 in C minor, the “Organ Symphony.”
Kenneth Kiesler, director of orchestras at the University of Michigan, conducted. The concert was broadcast live from Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church via a webcast to audiences across the US and globally.
DSO Musicians have announced five support concerts for February. The first will take place February 5 at Kirk in the Hills Presbyterian Church in Bloomfield Hills. Another concert is set for February 8 in Clinton Township featuring the L’Anse Creuse High School Choir. A February 16 concert in the Detroit suburb of Birmingham will feature Groves High School student Margaret Starr as violin soloist. A February 20 concert in Bloomfield Hills will feature renowned pianist James Tocco. On February 26 the DSO ensembles Cut Time Players and Cut Time Symphonia will perform in Royal Oak.(1)
1'DSO support concert broadcast live via webcast' - WSWS
Friday, January 21, 2011
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Friday, January 14, 2011
But, it's not over. Reports on Twitter have insinuated that the prisons have been emptied and the security services are running wild tonight. This may be an unorganized fit of rage or an excuse to 'establish order' at a later time.
From the Financial Times:
Many Tunisians on Saturday said they suspected that gangs affiliated with Ben Ali were bent on sowing chaos and destabilising the transition to a new order.Angry Arab concurs about the security services:
It seems from live coverage that the secret militias of Bin Ali, along the lines of Fida'yyi Saddam, are terrorizing the population at night. The military-intelligence apparatus--with full US and French support--would not give up easily on power.
One scene of the looting, the van reads "Police".
1'Celebrations in Arab World After Tunisia Government Toppled' - National Journal
2Dima Khatib, Al Jazeera Latin American Correspondent
4'English Language Blog from Tunisia'
Thursday, January 13, 2011
The whole mainstream public debate is rather quixotic; on one hand teachers are overpaid and have too generous pensions (even if they don't pay into or receive Social Security) which are bankrupting the nation, and on the other, we need to improve our education system because we have mediocre teachers
How to get better teachers then, if that is the socially agreed upon supposition ? (Not mine.) By offering lower wages ? While it's true money isn't everything or a sole motivator (it's not all about Benjamins) one needs to have fixed teeth and a car than is newer than ten years old. And absent social respect and given constant social attack, money becomes even more important.
And it's true that a significant strategy of the ruling class is to offshore education costs to the developing world and then steal the best and brightest from, for instance, India and China. But this doesn't seem like a good long term solution, people generally want to stay close to home and many developing countries have rapidly improving living standards.
And recent OECD testing reveals that pay is a top factor in getting quality teachers, and that public schools do as well as private when factoring out other variables.
Even on the accepted construct of supply and demand, one can go to the national job search websites and find many hundreds of mid year openings for math and science teachers. Overpaid doesn't seem to quite fit.
It adds up to some deep ideological flaws in the US ruling class; an ideological bent that may have worked on its own inscrutable terms when there was a middle class to be strip mined - like in 1975, but not now.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
The first thing one should say is that our system does reward hard work, up to a point. Other things equal, those who put more in will earn more.Therefore: wealth is the ultimate arbiter of who is right and moral in our society. Our only current weakness is that there is not some measure of 'equality of opportunity' in determining that rightness.
There is something deeply disfunctional in this world view. It drains the concept of inspiration from all human activity.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard writes in : Deepening crisis traps America's have-nots
The US is drifting from a financial crisis to a deeper and more insidious social crisis. Self-congratulation by the US authorities that they have this time avoided a repeat of the 1930s is premature.
Extreme inequalities are toxic for societies, but there is also a body of scholarship suggesting that they cause depressions as well by upsetting the economic balance. They create a bias towards asset bubbles and overinvestment, while holding down consumption, until the system becomes top-heavy and tips over, as happened in the 1930s.
Monday, January 10, 2011
Since the 1960 election, states which are now categorized as 'open shop' states (i.e. right-to-work) have gained a net of 34 electoral votes. Open shop states are usually Republican dominated, they have to be to get that sort of legislation passed.
During that same time, the traditionally unionized and industrial states of of the upper Midwest: Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio - have lost 32 electoral votes.
Interestingly, the gains in open-shop states are concentrated in Texas, Florida and Arizona, and mostly because of Hispanic immigration, who have not yet translated population into electoral muscle at the state level.
1U.S. Electoral Map widget
Sunday, January 9, 2011
The Australian dollar, acting as the international currency best representing growth in Asia, went from 4.3 % to 7.6 %. The renminbi is at 1%.(1)
Given its internal poverty and disparate geography, the centralized control of currency value is a matter of survival for China from the perspective of the CCP. A currency float and a liberalized financial sector would probably break up the Chinese banking system and with it the power of the party.
As Kenneth Rogoff writes: "Clearly capital flows can be used as an excuse, as they are in China and India, for financial repression – to protect domestic financial services sectors from competition and retard their development".(2)
(i.e. let Goldman Sachs be free.)
How much longer effective capital controls can last given China's integration into the trade of goods and raw materials is an open question. Internal and external political pressures would seem to building in the other direction.
1'Triennial Central Bank Survey' - BIS
2'Tensions Rise in Currency Wars' - Financial Times
Note: Currency turnover percentages add up to 200.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
How to shape impressions (unions=corrupt and bad) by manipulating and standing meaning (elections=democracy and good) on its head.
But it is good the workers have the common sense to elect someone who is as despised by sports ownership as Fehr is. He must be doing something right.
1'Donald Fehr takes over as NHLPA boss' - ESPN
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Under Texas compensation laws for the wrongly imprisoned, Cornelius Dupree is eligible for $80,000 for each year he was behind bars, plus a lifetime annuity. He could receive $2.4 million in a lump sum that is not subject to federal income tax.
The compensation law, the nation's most generous, was passed in 2009 by the Texas Legislature after dozens of wrongly convicted men were released from prison. Texas has freed 41 wrongly convicted inmates through DNA since 2001 — more than any other state.
We all need to tighten the belt and make sacrifices with the deficit being what it is.