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Index April 2010

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Anger at Wall Street could force Republican retreat

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Published on People’s World, by John Wojcik, April 27 2010.

Angry senators grilling Goldman Sachs executives on Capitol Hill fueled a firestorm that could break the GOP’s latest filibuster. That storm will arrive on Wall Street’s doorstep on Thursday, with thousands preparing to take their demand for financial reform into the lion’s den itself.

After Republicans and one Democrat blocked consideration of Wall Street reform last night, senior Democratic aides said that Senate Majority leader Harry Reid will continue holding one cloture vote after another to pressure the GOP into ending its filibuster of the bill making its way towards the president’s desk … //  Continue Reading…

On the edge of the abyss

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Europe’s leaders must act fast to stop Greece’s market contagion spreading – Published on The Economist, April 28, 2010.

IF A sense of panic has started to grip Europe over the potential for Greece to default on its debts, and the contagion to spread rapidly to the continent’s other struggling economies, it has not yet struck Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council. He insisted on Wednesday April 28th that there was “no question” of Greece’s debts being restructured. He also said leaders of the euro-zone countries would meet next month to consider how to activate their proposed joint lending programme with the IMF to support Greece.  Continue Reading…

Big Bank spend aid billions but neglect poverty, warns report

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Published on Reuter’s AlertNet, by Rachel Baird of Christian Aid UK, 22 April 2010. – Linked with Christian Aid UK, with Thomson Reuters Foundation website, and with Reuter’s AlertNet.

Donors such as the World Bank are spending billions of dollars on projects whose effects on poverty and the environment are uncertain at best, warns a new report … //

… The new report criticises three main aspects of multilateral development banks’ (MDBs) operations:

  • Their approach is based on existing private finance approaches, emphasizing the importance of attracting foreign investment rather than developing the domestic economy.- Project selection, monitoring and evaluation techniques have tended to prioritise commercial rather than social or environmental returns. Internal evaluations have regularly found that MDBs have failed to demonstrate sufficient ‘additionality’ for their financing – meaning that they run the risk of merely replicating the activities of private lenders, rather than driving investment towards businesses or sectors that have the greatest sustainable development benefits. Multilateral lenders’ monitoring and evaluation methods have also been insufficiently focussed on poverty reduction, while their transparency and disclosure of information has been weak. Continue Reading…

Computerized Front Running and Financial Fraud

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How a Computer Program Designed to Save the Free Market Turned Into a Monster

Linked on our blogs with The Web of Dept, and with The Model Economy Community.- Published on Global Research.ca, by Ellen Brown, April 23, 2010.

While the SEC is busy investigating Goldman Sachs, it might want to look into another Goldman-dominated fraud: computerized front running using high-frequency trading programs. Market commentators are fond of talking about “free market capitalism,” but according to Wall Street commentator Max Keiser, it is no more.  It has morphed into what his TV co-host Stacy Herbert calls “rigged market capitalism”: all markets today are subject to manipulation for private gain. Continue Reading…

Bolivia hosts alternative summit on people and Mother Earth

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Published on People’s World, by W. T. Whitney Jr., April 22, 2010 – in spanish: Conferencia Mundial sobre Cambio Climático y defensa de la Pachamama, published on Mercosur Noticias.com.

The conference came about in reaction to last December’s failed UN Copenhagen Climate Conference. Dim prospects for a 17th UN Climate Conference in Mexico next December were confirmed at an interim UN climate conference in Bonn earlier this month … //

… The United Nations last year made good on his proposal to name April 22 the International Day of Mother Earth. According to Mercosurnoticias.com, “Climate change [for indigenous peoples] is a problem not only of atmosphere, technology, or financing, but one of the western model of life, of the ambition and greed of capitalism.” Some 7,500 indigenous people attended the Cochabamba conference.  Continue Reading…

On the capitalist crisis and the economic recovery

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Published on WSWS, by Joe Kishore, 23 April 2010.

This report was delivered by Socialist Equality Party National Secretary Joseph Kishore to introduce the SEP/WSWS Emergency Conference on the Social Crisis & War and the first resolution: For an emergency jobs program! For the nationalization of the banks and the redistribution of wealth!

Conditions for the majority of the population in the US are dire and getting worse. Mass unemployment is the most urgent social issue facing the working class. Some 20 million working people in the US are either unemployed or underemployed. Of those who are officially unemployed, 44 percent have been without a job for more than six months, the highest percentage since the Great Depression … //  Continue Reading…

Six Banks Control 60% of (US) Gross National Product

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Is the U.S. at the Mercy of an Unstoppable Oligarchy?

Linked with Project Syndicate – a world of ideas (via Baseline Scenario). – Published on AlterNet, by Bill Moyers, April 23, 2010.

Moyers and economists James Kwak and Simon Johnson wonder whether the financial powers are more profitable, and more resistant to regulation than ever. The following is a transcript taken from Bill Moyers’ recent interview with Simon Johnson and James Kwak on Bill Moyers Journal.

So even if the Tea Party folks saw the light, what can ordinary Americans do? That’s the question I want to put to my guests, Simon Johnson and James Kwak. They have written this new book, 13 Bankers: The Wall St. Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown. It’s a must read – already a best seller — and it couldn’t have come at a better time. This book could change the debate over financial reform by tipping it in favor of the public … //

… Bill Moyers: And you write that they control 60 percent of our (US) gross national product?  Continue Reading…

Britain’s leaders’ debate: A fraud in three acts

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Published on WSWS, by Chris Marsden, 24 April 2010.

… The dispute that did emerge between the three, over whether or not to replace the Trident submarine nuclear weapons system, was framed entirely as an issue of how best to pursue a militarist agenda.

Clegg has called for the issue of Trident’s replacement or otherwise to be made part of an upcoming Strategic Defence Review. But he did so only on the grounds of whether it was cost-effective, reaffirming his commitment to Britain’s retention of nuclear weapons.  Continue Reading…

Aid Beyond Prejudice and Pride

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Published on IndeptNews.net (IDN-InDepth NewsSpecial – Part 1), by Eckhard Deutscher, April 21, 2010.

PARIS (IDN) – Africa is drowning in aid money.

  • “Too much aid goes to the private pockets of corrupt regimes and towards a bloated development industry, when much more should be spent on the private sector.”
  • “Aid is a useless distraction given the impact of issues like trade, investment etc on development.”
  • “Aid is not nearly growing quickly enough.”

These are some examples of arguments put forward in a critical political and public debate of development co-operation that has intensified as we approach the reference date for substantial aid commitments and get closer to the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals in 2015.  Continue Reading…

Legal Frontiers Of Sustainability, Part Two

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Will Integrated Financial And Sustainability Reporting Become A Legal Mandate?

Linked with Corporate Social Responsibility Newswire CSRwire – Published on CRSwire, by Sanford Lewis, April 21, 2010.

Much of what we think of as corporate sustainability reporting is currently done on a voluntary basis.  But most observers believe it is only a matter of time until sustainability disclosure will be a legal requirement just as financial disclosure is today … //

… Shareholders monitoring the gas companies remain concerned about poor disclosure. New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli,  Green Century Funds and numerous other investors are attempting to fill the natural gas sector’s disclosure gap through a series of shareholder resolutions requesting reports on this issue by energy companies.  Continue Reading…

Fifteen years is enough

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Linked on our blogs with Halifax Initiative Coalition, and with IFIwatchnet.org. – Published on IFIwatchnet.org, by the Halifax Initiative, just launched.

Download a new publication: Fifteen Years is Enough: What’s changed in the international financial system and its institutions, what hasn’t and what needs to, 64 pdf-pages.

Annual Meetings CSO Activities: Launch of Fifteen Years is Enough:

About the publication Back in 1995, the G7 met in Halifax during a time of change and opportunity. A lot has changed since then, partly in response to the Halifax G7 Summit and subsequent G7 and G8 meetings. Too many of these improvements, however, exist only on paper. Continue Reading…

The Real Lehman Lesson: Break Up the Banks

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Published on AlterNet, by Zach Carter, April 20, 2010.

Tuesday’s hearing on Lehman Brothers’ now infamous Repo 105 scam was only tangentially related to the megabank’s accounting deceptions and subsequent collapse. That story is simple: Lehman almost certainly committed fraud, regulators failed to stop it, and many of the people who screwed up under President George W. Bush inexplicably remain in power under President Barack Obama.

But most of the hearing consisted of Republican members of Congress attempting to paint the failure of Republican regulators as proof that no regulator can ever regulate effectively ever, no matter what. After observers had been subjected to several hours of this argument, former bank regulator William Black took the stand and eviscerated it …  Continue Reading…

Happy Equal Pay Day, Women!

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Not That Your Pay is Equal Yet – Published on AlterNet, by Page Gardner, April 20, 2010.

Today is “Equal Pay Day,” the day that symbolizes how far into 2010 it takes for women to earn the same amount men made in 2009. Last year, men earned (PDF) an average of $46,200 over the year, but women had to work all of 2009 and 4 months into this year to reach that mark.

Despite the fact that women now make up half the nation’s workforce, the problem of unequal pay persists nearly 50 years after passage of the 1963 Equal Pay Act. Most women are in the workforce today, and most families rely on the earnings of women to get by — especially those headed by unmarried women. Unequal pay is not just a matter of equal rights it is a matter of basic economic survival. In fact, families headed by a single woman are twice as likely to be in poverty as families headed by a single man … //   Continue Reading…

The Populism of the Privileged

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Published on TruthDig, by E.J. Dionne, April 19, 2010.

The tea party is nothing new, it represents a relatively small minority of Americans on the right end of politics, and it will not determine the outcome of the 2010 elections.

In fact, both parties stand to lose if they accept the laughable notion that this media-created protest movement is the voice of true populism. Democrats will spend their time chasing votes that they will never win. Republicans will turn their party into an angry and narrow redoubt with no hope of building a durable majority … //

… Tea party enthusiasts also consistently side with the better-off against the poor, putting them at odds with most Americans. The poll found that while only 38 percent of all Americans said that “providing government benefits to poor people encourages them to remain poor,” 73 percent of tea party partisans believed this. Among all Americans, 50 percent agreed that “the federal government should spend money to create jobs, even if it means increasing the budget deficit.” Only 17 percent of tea party supporters took this view.  Continue Reading…

Innovation: the new masters of management

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Developing countries are competing on creativity as well as cost. That will change business everywhere

Published on The Economist, April 15, 2010.

THIRTY years ago the bosses of America’s car industry were shocked to learn that Japan had overtaken America to become the world’s leading car producer. They were even more shocked when they visited Japan to find out what was going on. They found that the secret of Japan’s success did not lie in cheap labour or government subsidies (their preferred explanations) but in what was rapidly dubbed “lean manufacturing”. While Detroit slept, Japan had transformed itself from a low-wage economy into a hotbed of business innovation. Soon every factory around the world was lean – or a ruin.  Continue Reading…

NATO: Pentagon’s Gateway Into Former Warsaw Pact, Soviet Nations

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Published on Global Research.ca, by Rick Rozoff, April 17, 2010.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (see the Homepage, and on wikipedia) NATO was founded in April of 1949 by a country not on the European continent, the United States, and eleven subordinates which had fought on both sides of the World War that had ended four years earlier: Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Portugal. Greece and Turkey were added in 1952 after their service in the Korean War and West Germany joined in 1955 … //

… During the recently-concluded Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, DC where a number of decidedly unrelated agreements were reached including one with which the U.S. secured the right for military overflights from Kazakhstan [12], Czech Defense Minister Martin Bartak disclosed that his meetings in the American capital included one with Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy and Under Secretary of State for Arms Control Ellen Tauscher, the latter a long-time advocate for and organizer of U.S. missile shield projects in Eastern Europe.  Continue Reading…

The Economic Crisis in the UK: Inflation and Debt Default Bankruptcy

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Published on Global Research.ca, by Nadeem Walayat (the Market Oracle), April 16, 2010.

Whilst politicians of all the major parties during the general election campaign continue to ignore the giant debt elephant in the room as the general public continue to prefer to be deluded into thinking that Britain can skip the debt crisis that faces the country as a consequence of Greecesk levels of annual deficits and foreign liabilities that have pushed Britain significantly along the path towards hyperinflation and bankruptcy (debt default to foreigners), as many of the trend projections concerning the looming debt mountain, banking and public sector’s liability expectations made in November 2008 (Bankrupt Britain Trending Towards Hyper-Inflation?) have come to pass, against which NOTHING has been done or stated will be done to prevent ultimate national bankruptcy as warned of in November 2008 … //

HOPE – Solving Britain’s Economic Crisis Through Micro Business Capital Investments and CreditContinue Reading…

Ukraine and a Tectonic Shift in Heartland Power

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Linked with Frederick William Engdahl – Germany and USA. – Published on Geopolitics-Geoeconomics, by F. William Engdahl, 22 March 2010, 23 pdf pages.
Part I: The Geopolitical significance of Ukraine today

A decisive vote against NATO:

On February 14 Ukraine’s Election Commission declared Viktor Yanukovych the winner in that embattled country’s Presidential runoff vote, defeating former Prime Minister and Orange Revolution instigator Yulia Tymoshenko. Contrary to the positive spin Washington is trying to put on the events, they mark the definitive death of Ukraine’s much-touted “Orange Revolution.“  Continue Reading…

Three signs of a coming equity market correction

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Published on MoneyControl.com/NewsCenter, Source: Reuters, April 15, 2010.

Signs are appearing, at least to those who like to study financial market runes, that equities could be in for a short-term fall.

Nothing is certain, of course, what with past performance being no guarantee of future returns as the standard disclaimer reads, but three different historical trends are suggesting equities could soon turn.

It all has to do with eight days in March, an aversion to cash and, contradictorily, falling equity market volatility.

First, the eight days …  Continue Reading…

Afghanistan: Malalai Joya is an angry woman

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Linked with Malalai Joya – Afghanistan. – Published on Voltairenet.org, by Dominique Bari, 9 April 2010.

The young Afghan deputy and women’s rights champion was thrown out of parliament for having exposed foreign interference in her country and the worsening violations against women fomented by the continued occupation …

… Malalai Joya: Millions of dollars have been promised to the Karzai regime so that insurgents will lay down their arms: at the same time millions of Afghans are dying in poverty. This will lead to the Taliban being rehabilitated, they will take control of the Loy Jirga, the meeting of the elders and the tribal leaders which is to be held soon. Can we really expect to establish democracy with such reactionaries? The Taliban aren’t the only fundamentalists.  Continue Reading…

Biggest Turn Around in Afghan Politics

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Published on Chowk, by mohammad gill April 6, 2010.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai threatened over the weekend to quit the political process and join the Taliban if he continued to come under outside pressure to reform, several members of parliament said Monday. (Lawmakers: Afghan leader threatens to join Taliban, by Amir Shah and Christopher Bodeen, Yahoo! News, April 5, 2010).

Recent news coming out of Afghanistan indicates that President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan is under great pressure from the USA, to go after the Taliban more vigorously. Evidently, the pressure had built to such an extent that Karzai felt he was pushed to the wall and could take it no longer. Continue Reading…

Analysis of the new START Treaty

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Linked with Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. – Published on Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, by John Isaacs and  Kingston Reif, not dated.

On March 26, President Obama announced that after nearly a year of tough negotiations, the U.S. and Russia have reached agreement on the Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures to Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (the “New START Treaty”). Presidents Obama and Medvedev will sign the new agreement on April 8 in Prague, Czech Republic.

New START is a modest but critically important and necessary step toward reducing the dangers posed by nuclear weapons. The treaty enhances U.S. security by verifiably reducing U.S. and Russian nuclear stockpiles and ensuring a stable and predictable U.S.-Russian nuclear relationship. Continue Reading…

Health Reform, a Working-class Victory

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Published on political affairs.net pa, by Joel Wendland, March 31, 2010.

President Obama’s major victory on health reform in March was a defining moment in his presidency. More importantly, the passage of the law stands as a significant victory for the working class and the American people. We join with the labor and people’s movements in celebrating this historic milestone.

A number of commentators have described the law as the biggest reversal of inequality in America since LBJ’s Great Society program. We agree with that assessment, and below are discussed some of the ways the law attacks inequality to provide healthcare to nearly every American with an improved system. There are some points, however, on the reform that need improvements and should lay the basis for future political struggle. In addition to this, the health reform victory has likely reshaped the terrain of political struggle and puts the labor and people’s coalition on an exciting new footing moving forward.   Continue Reading…

The Global Economic Crisis: Riots, Rebellion and Revolution

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When Empire Hits Home, Part 3: As nations of the world are thrown into a debt crisis, the likes of which have never been seen before, harsh fiscal ‘austerity’ measures will be undertaken in a flawed attempt to service the debts. The result will be the elimination of the middle class. When the middle class is absorbed into the labour class – the lower class – and lose their social, political, and economic foundations, they will riot, rebel, and revolt.

Published on Global Research.ca, by Andrew Gavin Marshall, April 7, 2010. See also:

… Is Revolution the Right Way Forward?  Continue Reading…

What is the role of government?

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Published on Peoples World, by John Bachtell, April 8 2010.

When Barack Obama was elected president, he stressed the history-making election victory was “not the change we seek but the opportunity to make that change.” Being elected, it turns out, is only half the battle.

Once elected, officials must legislate and then it’s up to the institutions of government to implement policy.

The role of government and its ability to make a difference in people’s daily lives is not a question the progressive or democratic movement can take lightly. This question was at the heart of the health care reform battle.

Government is not a classless concept. Under capitalism, monopoly corporations dominate government policy and its institutions. U.S. capitalism has developed to such a stage that corporations and finance capital and government are fully integrated into the state. Marxists call it state-monopoly capitalism.  Continue Reading…

China-based cyberspy group targeted India

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Published on News Center, India, Source: Reuters, April 6, 2010.

A cyber-espionage group based in southwest China stole documents from the Indian Defence Ministry and emails from the Dalai Lama’s office, a group of Canadian researchers said in a report released on Tuesday.

The cyberspies used popular online services, including Twitter, Google’s Google Groups and Yahoo mail, to access infected computers, ultimately directing them to communicate with command and control servers in China, according to the report, “Shadows in the Cloud”.

“We have no evidence in this report of the involvement of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) or any other government in the Shadow network,” wrote the authors, who are researchers based at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs.  Continue Reading…

Big Brother and the Hidden Hand of the Free Market

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Managing Data and Dissent in America – Published on Global Research.ca, by Tom Burghardt, April 5, 2010.

… Repression: A Game the Whole Corporate Family Can Play:

With their fingers into everything from missile design and satellite surveillance technology to domestic spying or that latest craze consuming Washington, “cybersecurity,” Lockheed Martin is, as they say, a “player.”

On the domestic spy game front, Lockheed Martin were one of the contractors who supplied intelligence analysts for the Counterintelligence Field Activity office (CIFA), the secretive Rumsfeld-era initiative that spied on antiwar activists and other Pentagon policy critics. Continue Reading…

Big Government, Deficits, Entitlements, and Centrists

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Published on Zmag, by Edward Herman, March 2010.

These are words that come into prominence whenever the right wing and business community go on the offensive. Big government was not featured by the right wing or business during the recent (2001-09) Bush years because, although the federal government and budget were growing, it was via an enlargement of the military and police budgets and an attack on the privacy and civil rights of ordinary citizens, in the alleged interest of “national security” … //

… Centrist:  Continue Reading…

An Economy run on Smoke and Mirrors

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Financial Manipulation on Wall Street – Published on Global Research.ca, by Bob Chapman, April 4, 2010.

Link: see also on YouTube: Bob Chapman: 2035 Banks in Serious Danger, FDIC to End, Dollar Devaluation by 2010, 7.54 min, Nov. 11, 2009.

We have an economy run on smoke and mirrors, based on the manipulation of markets. That was accomplished via the executive order signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 in the aftermath of the stock market collapse of October 19, 1987, known as the “President’s Working Group on Financial markets.” This order intended to be implemented during emergencies has been used to manipulate markets worldwide 24/7.

We experienced an example of this misuse of power when the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose from 6,500 to 10,900 over this past year. This rise was aided by TARP and a host of other programs that injected trillions of dollars into the economy, which, of course, the American citizen is responsible for. Continue Reading…

Proposal for a Participatory Socialist International

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Propuesta para una Quinta Internacional Socialista Participativa

Published on Zcommunications.org, by acollectif of endorsers, not dated.

We, the undersigned, endorse the idea of a new International and urge that its creation include assessing, refining, augmenting, and then implementing as many of the following points as the International’s participants themselves, after due deliberation, decide mutually agreeable:

1. A new International should be primarily concerned (at least) with:  Continue Reading…

Meeting at Children Ward

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Linked with The Institute for ECOSOC rights. – Published on Institute for Ecosoc Rights, by SRI MARYANTI, March 02, 2010.

When I looked at them, I immediately asked why their face looks so old. Though the two women’s age was not much different from mine. Even Mama Blandina’s face looked as if she was fifties while in fact she was 35 years old. There seemed to be a problem with these women. What I guessed was true, not long after talking with Ms. Blandina, her eyes became wet as soon as she told me her live. So it was with Mama Helena.

Holding her youngest child is two and a half years old, Blandina Mafani told her story. In a relatively young age, she had given birth six times. And six times did he give birth without medical help. Even more sad, for most pregnant women from the Tulleng village in Lembur subdistrict in Alor have never checked the baby to a health center or clinic. Fortunately, there were traditional midwives in the village who could be asked during childbirth. So she did not know her baby’s weight at birth. Thus she did not quite understand what normal and healthy child at birth.  Continue Reading…

Foresight and Fait Accompli

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Two Timelines for the Global Financial Collapse*

Published on Real-World Economics Review Blog, by Editor, March 31, 2010.

… (full long text … telling the collapse’s history from 2000 to 2009 … ).

* In compiling the Foresight Timeline, much use has been made of  Dirk Bezemer’s outstanding paper (2009):
No One Saw This Coming: Understanding Financial Crisis Through Accounting Models. Bibliographic details may be found therein.

Kick-Ass

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Don’t be fooled by the hype: This crime against cinema is twisted, cynical, and revels in the abuse of childhood

Published on Daily Mail.co.uk, by Christopher Tookey, Last updated at 11:32 PM on 01st April 2010.

Millions are being spent to persuade you that Kick-Ass is harmless, comic-book entertainment suitable for 15-year-olds.

Don’t let them fool you. Kick-Ass has been so hyped that it is certain to be a hit. It is also bound be among the most influential movies of 2010. And that should disturb us all.

It deliberately sells a perniciously sexualised view of children and glorifies violence, especially knife and gun crime, in a way that makes it one of the most deeply cynical, shamelessly irresponsible films ever …. //  Continue Reading…

Economic Policy and Unemployment: The Power of Stupidity

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Published on Real-World Economics Review Blog, by Dean Baker, March 3, 2010.

The housing bubble and subsequent crash were the result of extreme incompetence on the part of the country’s top economic policymakers. Somehow these people could not see, or did not care about, the dangers of an $8 trillion housing bubble.

Unfortunately, economic policymaking is not like most jobs where workers get fired when they make serious mistakes. In economics, they just keep getting promoted. Therefore, the people who sank the economy are for the most part the same group of people still designing policy today. Now this group of incompetent economists is telling the rest of us that we are going to have to endure five more years of high unemployment.  Continue Reading…

Sunshine and Shadows

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  • The Clear Obama Message for Freedom of Information Meets Mixed Results – National Security Archive FOIA Audit Finds Ancient Requests Still Pending (up to 18 Years); Only Four Federal Agencies with Releases Up and Denials Down from Last Year – 8th Government-Wide Survey Suggests Need for More Pressure and Leadership.
  • For more information contact: Tom Blanton, National Security Archive Director – 202/994-7000

Published on National Security Archive, March 15, 2010.

Washington, DC, March 15, 2010 – Despite President Barack Obama’s and Attorney General Eric Holder’s 2009 memoranda calling for reform in government agencies’ administration of the Freedom of Information Act FOIA, the latest government-wide FOIA Audit (28 pdf-pages) released today by the National Security Archive at George Washington University found:  Continue Reading…