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Pull Up a Chair: Awakenings

By: Elliott Saturday November 29, 2014 12:19 am

“There has been an awakening — have you felt it?”

Episode VII in the Star Wars Saga, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

So, what do you think? It opens December 18th, next year. Will you be in line? I confess the music gets me psyched. (How ’bout that new light saber?)

Episode IV: A New Hope
Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Jedi Kittens Strike Back


Price War: OPEC at Austria

By: KateCA Friday November 28, 2014 3:10 pm

What seems to have begun as a sudden turning on of oil faucets in Libya, Nigeria and Iraq just a few months ago, provided the opportunity for the Big Guns of OPEC to begin manipulating things.  And they have.

At their critical meeting on Thursday in Austria, OPEC decided to continue producing oil in the usual volume (30 million barrels a day) and let the price of oil do what it will.  Which it promptly did, dropping (using the Brent price) $2.80 today, down to $69.78/barrel, which hasn’t been seen in four years.

Saudi Arabia is the major component of OPEC and it’s refusal to curb production until things could settle down is quite significant.  Which countries get hit hardestwith this refusal?  Well, there’s Russia, for one, with OPEC’s announcement followed closely by the ruble hitting a new low.  Another possible outcome of OPEC’s refusal to halt oil flow to the market is decreased possibility of inflation.  Already, European investors are looking at the possibility of the European Central Bank advancing a debt purchasing program.  We’ll see.

The price a barrel of oil among must be for certain oil-producing countries indicates those which will be hit hardest:   Libya ($184), Iran ($131), Algeria ($131), Nigeria ($123) and Venezuela ($118).  Saudi Arabia needs $104, but have sufficient assets to ride out a loss for quite some time.

Not only are shares in big oil falling (ExxonMobile down 4.3%, Chevon 5.4% and Halliburton 11.1%), but the shale oil producers—frackers, as we call them—are also at risk.  Likewise, Canada’s Alberta tar-sands production.  And if you’ve been worrying about the polar bears and other Arctic fauna and flora as the industry has been gearing up to advance into the Far North, take heart that there may at least be a reprieve while this mess sorts itself out.

Much nearer to home, at the Bakken Deposit in ND and MT, two firms are already eyeing downsizing—KKR & Co. paid quite a price in buying up oil and gas acreage in 2011 and is now experiencing a “debt burden”.  Another, Samson Resources Corp, is trying to sell its Bakken interests while its bonds are trading at around 70%.   And then there’s an old favorite, the Carlyle Group which, along with a couple of others, has also invested in KKR.

Nonetheless, some are saying that the break-even point for many producers in the Bakken, TX and other shale deposits in the US is below $80/barrel.  Overall, it seems we lowly consumers will be paying less at the pump.  And, who knows, more rational policy-makers might seize upon the opportunity this plunge in oil prices offers, and put together a program of transition from subsidizing oil to encouraging development of alternative energy sources.

OPEC’s Secretary General Abdallah Salem el-Badri is quoted as saying  in Vienna yesterday, “We will watch how the market will behave” and “There’s a price decline.  That does not mean that we should really rush and do something.”  No indication he was munching on popcorn, but he sure was smiling.

Photo by Great Beyond under Creative Commons license

Obama’s Record on War is A Neo-con Dream

By: jbade Friday November 28, 2014 6:37 am

In keeping with his desire to fulfill his 2008 electoral mandate, Obama came to office promising that he would end the war and only engage  in war when it was necessary, smart.

Then he, unsuccessfully,  tried to break the agreement to leave that had been forced on the Bush administration by the Iraqi people.

He increased the use of Drones tenfold by some accounts.

He escalated from 30,000 to almost a 100,000 in Afghanistan.   At his best Bush had fielded 188,000 combat troops-  Obama 208,000.

He kept them there doing what? Then he advocated for then signed an obligation to stay there for ever.

Then he signed an order to continue the war in Afghanistan as being waged, unabated. This has got to be one of the most discrediting actions ever taken by a president. Americans did not want to escalate in Afghanistan. Obama promised the troops would be out in 2014. His authorization to continue combat operations despite his promise to the American people is disgusting enough, but even more profound, he has such disregard for the American People as to not think the issue worthy, no requirement on him  to address that issue with the american people. That makes him such a gross individual.

If you want to understand how the Republicans have a shred of legitimacy, that is how. How does he have an credibility on this issue?

On Iraq, he is back in and plans to keep us there. He is there to get Syria.

Look what he did to Libya? for humanitarian reasons- that country is destroyed

He called Russia one of the top 3 threats to world peace. he is going to arm the Ukrainians

He vilifies the Venezuelans

He supports the embargo on Cuba.

He is doing combat missions in Yemen

he is bombing Pakistan

He has escalated the Military in Africa dramatically

he is droning Somalia

He is advocating for the Saudis as the moderate force for a regional military power to intervene in the internal affairs of other countries

he is set us on a 20 year course of nuclear bomb building that will cost hundreds of billions

he has expanded the military in the South China Sea

Obama exceeded Bush in warmongering when he attacked Libya on a UN Security Council Resolution. He bombed that country into oblivion and then walked away. That was the most prosperous country with the highest of living. It was purely a civil conflict, at least Bush implied there was a threat. In Libya it was direct intervention in a civil conflict. Qaddafi had given up his WMD programs upon the request of the UN, after he did we attacked and destroyed his country. Why would the next despot not think twice about agreeing to voluntarily forgo WMD’s- it makes it less likely one would do so

Now he is getting rid of Hagel and replacing him with Joe Liberman, at some point those who voted for Obama, the Democrats who empower him/them, have to take some responsibility for what they are enabling. Each time I hear the assertion that Republicans are somehow worse  than Obama/Dems I am disheartened from the depth of “I dont get it” it entails. On every major issue Obama is a Blue Dog/Republican at best.

I have posted this before, it sits in my top ten politically clarifying videos. Glenn Ford from the Black Agenda Report does an excellent job of bringing forward the facts.

Also a couple of political moments I am giving thanks for this holiday season. Like Glen says ” our first obligation is to the truth”

At three minutes Weiner asks What value Health Insurance Companies add for their 30% cut? Priceless, they add costs, nobody ever asks that question-it is the seminal question.

Over Easy: Black Friday Edition, Shop ‘Til You Drop!

By: msmolly Friday November 28, 2014 5:00 am

Black Friday sign  at Kohls

Were you out early today?

Good morning, everyone! Did you all make your Black Friday rounds at O Dark Thirty and return with armloads of holiday goodies?

Based on data from previous Black Fridays, many Black Friday sales started on Thanksgiving evening, and will continue throughout the weekend and into Cyber Monday. This year saw opening hours creep increasingly back into Thanksgiving Day. K-Mart opened at 6:00 a.m. on Thanksgiving. Several retailers (Macy’s, Best Buy, Kohl’s, Sears, J.C. Penney) opened at 5:00 p.m. or 6:00 p.m. The way the trend is going, we’ll soon be calling Thanksgiving “Black Thursday.”

Some stores, like Costco, Home Depot and Nordstrom, are fighting this trend, trying to give employees time with families on Thanksgiving. Others (Target, I’m looking at you) threaten to fire employees who refuse to work on Thanksgiving. K-Mart made the same threat to an employee.

Kmart will open its doors at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day this year and remain open for 42 hours, meaning that many employees will have to come to work to staff shifts. While the company says it tries to fill the slots with volunteers or seasonal hires, workers are reporting that the reality on the ground is very different.

Some stores that did not open yesterday did not just announce that fact, but boasted, “We’re going to remain closed on Thanksgiving. It shows that we care about our workers. It shows that we care about the holiday. It shows we care about their families.” Three states — Massachusetts, Maine and Rhode Island — prohibit stores from opening on Thanksgiving.

You can always opt to wait to shop until Cyber Monday. If you missed out and weren’t at Target on Thanksgiving at 6:00 p.m., Cyber Monday arrives December 1st. You can shop online from the comfort of your own home instead of lining up in the cold dark to snag that 65″ Vizio TV.

According to Wikipedia,

Cyber Monday is a marketing term for the Monday after Thanksgiving in the United States. The term “Cyber Monday” was created by marketing companies to persuade people to shop online. The term made its debut on November 28, 2005, in a press release entitled Cyber Monday Quickly Becoming One of the Biggest Online Shopping Days of the Year

One of my pet peeves is the extension of the Christmas holidays into November and January. Stores have been playing Christmas music for a couple of weeks, and of course all of their holiday merchandise went on display around Halloween. My local classical music station begins playing Christmas music this week, and for about the two weeks before Christmas plays nothing else. They still play occasional Christmas music until New Years. And two of my neighbors put Christmas lights up last weekend when the temps weren’t so frigid, but they turned them on. There oughtta be a ban on turning Christmas lights on before Thanksgiving!

By the time the holiday arrives, all I want is for it to be over! *grump*

NOTE: I am spending this holiday weekend with family in Indianapolis, so I am unlikely to be around much this morning. Catch you on the flip side!

A Thank/sgiving Day Appreciation

By: patrick devlin Thursday November 27, 2014 9:48 pm

Thank you NSA, for deciding that I cannot have privacy…ever : your fascism is breathtaking.

Thank you oligarchs, for decimating the middle class and ending class mobility forever : your greed is stultifying.

Thank you industrial farmers, for killing the soil with chemicals : your destroying biodiversity is unceasing.

Thank you media moguls, for neutering necessary news and for creating ‘infotainment’ : your selling out democracy is complete.

Thank you Christian zealots, for excusing your bigotry by twisting theology : your interpretations justify child killing.

Thank you Republicans, for mixing class war, imperial war & religious war into a poisonous & deadly cocktail : your fascism is willing.

Thank you Democrats, for the unabashed sellout : your fealty to the rich exposes you as shameless lapdogs.

Thank you military, for policing streets in countries we’ve invaded : your providing muscle for corporate raiders was predicted.

Thank you police, for militarizing our cities : your shift from protecting people to protecting capital was expected.

Thank you free market maniacs : your commodification of our air, water & personal relationships has left our lives and loves bereft.

Thank you, the instigators, there’s Something in the Air
We’ve got to get together sooner or later – the revolution’s here.

And you know that it’s right.

The Last Waltz

By: Elliott Thursday November 27, 2014 7:52 pm

Another Thanksgiving holiday tradition is The Last Waltz. I was living in the Bay Area at the time and fantasized about winning tickets to the concert.

In his autobiography, concert promoter Bill Graham says that when the Band’s singer-guitarist Robbie Robertson told him that he wanted to do one final concert on Thanksgiving, he was the one who came up with the idea of serving dinner. Graham then goes on to list the evening’s menu: “Two hundred and twenty turkeys…five hundred extra turkey legs that weighed six hundred pounds. Stuffing…sautéed in one hundred pounds of butter…ninety gallons of sauce made from drippings. Forty crates of lettuce for the salad. Eighteen cases of cranberries. Two thousand pounds of peeled yams. Four hundred pounds of pumpkin pie. Rock and roll’s last supper.” Martin Scorsese’s documentary about this momentous occasion doesn’t dwell on the fact that Graham and Co. prepared a “buffet for fifty-four hundred people,” but you can sense that something special, both grand and intimate, is taking place. It’s the ultimate portrait of a band, a showman and a community giving thanks for what they had. You should play this movie loud, with family and friends present, and on a full stomach.

So without further ado, here are a few videos from that momentous evening, November 25, 1976.

The concert opens with Up on Cripple Creek

(Levon Helm *pitter pat*)

Followed by The Shape I’m In:

Don’t Do It:

The Weight with The Staples Sisters.:

God love ‘em, each and every one.

Beginning with a title card saying “This film should be played loud!” the concert documentary covers the Band’s influences and career. The group—Rick Danko on bass, violin and vocals; Levon Helmon drums, mandolin and vocals; Garth Hudson on keyboards and saxophone; songwriter Richard Manuel on keyboards, percussion and vocals; and guitarist, songwriter and occasional vocalistRobbie Robertson—started out in the late 1950s as a rock and roll band led by Ronnie Hawkins, and Hawkins himself appears as the first guest. The group backed Bob Dylan in the 1960s, and Dylan performs with the Band towards the end of the concert.

Various other artists perform with the Band: Muddy WatersPaul ButterfieldNeil YoungJoni MitchellVan MorrisonDr. JohnNeil Diamond and Eric Clapton. Genres covered include blues,rock and rollNew Orleans R&BTin Pan Alley popfolk and rock. Further genres are explored in segments filmed later on a sound stage with Emmylou Harris (country) and the Staple Singers (souland gospel).

The film begins with the Band performing the last song of the evening, their cover version of the Marvin Gaye hit “Don’t Do It“, as an encore. The film then flashes back to the beginning of the concert, and follows it more or less chronologically. The Band is backed by a large horn section and performs many of its hit songs, including “Up on Cripple Creek“, “Stage Fright” and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down“.

National Day of Indigenous Mourning as Folks in Ferguson and Elsewhere Remember Those Who Won’t Be at the Table

By: wendydavis Thursday November 27, 2014 4:46 pm

Most of us here have so many reasons to be thankful today, but for far too many, they are forced to look deeply into their hearts beyond their pain and rage, and just be grateful that they can imagine a better world, work toward it, while they consider their crucial activism and caring as…a blessing beyond measure.  And we must not look away from the fact that it’s all rooted in Love. I am grateful for their, and all of your…efforts. Beauty before, beauty behind, beauty above, beauty below, beauty all around…Love will lay hatred down… (adapted by Larry Long from the Diné Beauty Way chant).


“We call it a National Day of Mourning because when the Pilgrims and Columbus all landed over here, that was the end of our lives as we knew them – our land had been stolen,” says Moonanum James, son of Wamsutta. “It was like my father’s speech stated: They opened our graves and they grabbed as much as they could take back.”

Rather than dwell on the sins of the past, the UAINE hopes the National Day of Mourning brings more awarness to the problems facing Native Americans today.

DeRay McKesson in Ferguson: “They’re hitting ppl with barricades.  Watch this video of #StopThe Parade

Elon James White:

“If your Thanksgiving is ruined because of #StopTheParade imagine how Black folks feel when cops stop our lives? Literally.”

MENA Mashup: The I/P, Iran, ISIS, and Turkey

By: CTuttle Thursday November 27, 2014 2:24 pm

Bibi is merely pandering to his faltering hard-right base, meanwhile, it’s tearing Israel apart…!

From Reuters…

Jewish-nation bill frays Israel’s delicate social fabric

Israel is poised to pass one of the most divisive laws in its 66-year history, a bill that would declare it the homeland of the Jewish people only — and further alienate its Arab minority.

Political infighting over the measure is already threatening to tear apart Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition.

The legislation, which is seen as compromising equality by differentiating between Jewish and non-Jewish citizens in enshrining some symbolic rights to the Jewish people, could also have long-term practical ramifications for Israeli democracy and jurisprudence.

Netanyahu, along with other right-wing politicians pushing the law, say it is essential to protecting Israel’s identity against those questioning its right to exist.

Some commentators say Netanyahu is going ahead now to court a key constituency of right-wing voters he has been losing to far-right parties in his already shaky coalition, with an eye to a possible early election next year should cracks within the government widen.

Centrists in his government argue such legislation is unnecessary, noting the 1948 Declaration of Independence already proclaimed a Jewish state. They accuse him of pandering to hardliners in his Likud party.

“There are many who are challenging Israel’s character as the national state of the Jewish people,” Netanyahu said on Sunday at a cabinet meeting. “The Palestinians refuse to recognize this and there is also opposition from within.”

Palestinians say accepting Netanyahu’s call could deny Palestinian refugees of past wars any right of return.

“The discussion on the nation-state (bill) puts obstacles in the way of peace,” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday. “It has met fierce opposition inside the Israeli government, Knesset and among the Israeli people.”

From the JPost…