"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Groovin' on a Sunday afternoon & the Glorious People's Cinema Project

Yup, that's me - in the cartoon world of Second Life. As some of you already know, I do an internet radio show built around a weekly Second Life dance party know as "Groovin' on a Sunday Afternoon." You can join us "in-world" at the Red Zeppelin, headquarters of the Second Life Marxist-Lennonist Party (Groucho and John Factions United) or just click on the radio over there at the right to listen in on Sundays from 5:30 PST (8:30 EST). I know a few of you have been listening in, and I hope you've been enjoying it. Before the groovin' began, I started hosting Sunday night get-togethers on Second Life to watch movies on YouTube, which we still do starting from about 8 PST. But I figured, why leave you non-SL types out when it comes to the movies? So if you don't want to join us in SL, just tune in the music on the Internet via Radio Woodshed and join us on YouTube when the time comes.  

Thursday, March 12, 2009

No good deed goes unpunished

Yeah, this should be entertaining when and if it gets to court.
The short version of events is this: Sudanese Abousfian Abdelrazik fled civil war in his home country and was granted refugee status in Canada in 1990. He became a citizen in 1995. Six years ago he flew to Sudan to visit his ailing mother and was arrested at the request of the CSIS and U.S. security services who suspected him of links to Al-Qaida, imprisoned and tortured and abandoned by the Canadian government. As with Mahr Arar, it appears that they had the wrong man. Neither the Sudanese or our own RCMP have been able to build any kind of case against the man, but for the last six years he's been living in the exercise room of the Canadian embassy in Sudan because his Canadian passport has expired and the government refused to give him a new one until he bought a plane ticket home. He cannot legally work in Sudan and because he is still on a terrorist watch list, anyone who gives him money is considered to have aided a terrorist. 115 Canadians -- many of them bloggers -- have thumbed their nose at the government and ponied up the cash to fly their fellow citizen home.

Canada used to occupy the high ground on issues of human rights. Not anymore.

If the government had any shame at all, this would not have been necessary. But of course if the government and CSIS had any shame at all it would never have happened in the first place.

What next, will lawyers start making sense?

Change you can believe in

The Woodshed is now an affiliate of the Canadian Progressive Bloggers after long being a supporter. That means that we now have the nifty "Recommend this post" button down below. Go ahead and click it and vote to give the posting in question greater prominence on the `prog blogs' site. I will be editing the blogroll over the weekend too, so if you have any sites you'd like to recommend a link to, leave them in the comments.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A couple of messages from one of the neighbours

Billy Bob Neck speaks for the heartland of America.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Big darkness, soon come

About 1,500 people live in this shantytown, huddling in tents and makeshift shelters built of scrap lumber and plastic tarps, cooking meagre meals over communal fires less than a mile away from wealthy property owners who are barricaded in walled compounds protected by a private army of a hired security guards. The police, who have become increasingly violent in recent years, cruise the shantytown hoping to keep a lid on drugs, gangs and violence and to make sure the have-nots don't wander off to trouble the haves. The shantytown is growing by about 50 residents a week. It's not in some distant underdeveloped third world hellhole -- it's Sacramento, California.

The divide between rich and poor grew faster in the last 35 years than at any point in recorded economic history, certainly since the 1920s and probably since the industrial revolution - but we don't have the facts and figures for that. But we do know a lot of homes have been lost to foreclosure, a lot of people have lost their jobs (more than a million jobs lost this year so far) and the market crash has wiped out a lot of middle class portfolios intended to as retirement savings. People are ending up on the street while abandoned homes are left to rot. In Georgia alone, 1 in 8 mortgages are in foreclosure or 90 days past due in payments.

How bad is it? According to Consumer Reports, pretty bad:

The number of U.S. homeowners with mortgages whose homes are worth less than their loans is 8.3 million, according to an analysis by First American CoreLogic that was reported on by CNN. The number means that about 20 percent of mortgages are underwater.
Eight percent of all mortgages are delinquent, and 6,600 homes go into foreclosure each day, says the Center for Responsible Lending; foreclosures could total 8.1 million by 2012. Some banks suspended foreclosures, but the moratoriums are set to expire this month.

And while all this is going on, all we seem to hear about is Rush Limbaugh's takeover of the Republican party, whose economic policy at this point in time is damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead on tax cuts for the wealthy. I keep hearing the same old upper middle class spoiled white man's refrain: "I got mine Jack. If you make me pay another couple of percent in tax on the money I make over a quarter million dollars, me and the other five percent of Americans priviledged enough to be making the big money are gonna take out ball and move to Galt's Gultch."

More factual fun from the esteemed R.Porrofatto in comments at the Alicublog post linked above:

The total tax rate (including all federal, state and local taxes) for the top 80% of the country is essentially flat. According to the Tax Foundation, here is the effective total tax rate in the U.S. by income quintile:

Highest income quintile: 35%

Second-highest income quintile: 31%

Middle-income quintile: 28%

Second-lowest income quintile: 23%

Lowest income quintile: 13%

More fun:

- The average tax rate of the wealthiest 1% fell to its lowest level in at least 18 years.[IRS]

- The top 1% of wage earners have more wealth than the entire lowest 95% of wage-earners.

- The top 1 percent of households saw income gains of over 45% in the last eight years. The bottm 90% saw gains of less than 4%. Since 1976, average income of the top 1% grew by 232%, average income of bottom 90% grew by 10% [IRS]

- The share of the nation's income flowing to the top 1 percent has increased sharply, rising from 15.8 percent in 2002 to 22.1 percent of all adjusted gross income for 2006. Not since 1928, just before the Great Depression, has the top 1 percent held such a large share of the nation's income[IRS]

- The 400 U.S. taxpayers with the highest incomes pay income taxes worth only 18 percent of their income on average, compared to 25 percent for the typical American. Because of reduced capital gains taxes, the top 400 taxpayers cumulatively saved $10 billion between 1995 and 2005. [CBPP]

- The campaign to repeal the federal estate tax was financed by 18 of the richest
families in America-including 23 billionaires-who spent nearly $500 million on it.

According to a recent study 1 in 50 American kids experiences homelessness at some point. The study is based on figures from 2005 and 2006 - anyone want to bet that the situation has improved during the current crisis? I didn't think so.

In Japan, all of the senior excutives of these bank and financial institutions that are failing would have resigned in ignominous shame by now and several would have probably had the decency to hang themselves. Meanwhile at AIG et al, it's bonuses all around while the U.S. taxpayer is left holding the bag.

I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it again: The only surefire investments right now are in pitchforks, torches, tar and feathers.
Other Recommended Reading.