Monthly Archives: March 2009

Chicago Sun-Times Files for Chapter 11

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In this story , we learn about the latest chapter … chapter 11 that is … in the saga of the Conrad Black affair.

For those policy wonks in Ottawa who are even remotely thinking about extending a penny to the folks at CanWest, this should act as a reminder that this company (and other media companies in this country and the US) were having issues long before the "financial crisis" came along.

Cons Paying Defense Lobby to Lobby the Cons?

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I was a little confused by the links provided by this site when I first saw them:

http://coat.ncf.ca/ARMX/cansec/CADSI-DFAIT.htm

After seeing some of the details, it all clicked:  the Cons are paying the defense industry with Canadian tax dollars to finance groups that basically lobby the Cons (and other government stooges) to buy more stuff from the defense industry.

I have to admit:  it’s a nice racket if you can get in on it.  Unfortunately, I’m just some bonehead paying taxes and thinking everything’s hunky dory.

OK … really.  How do we stop this cycle?

That’s No Angry Mob … It’s a Movement

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More and more people are asking why we should be bailing out any corporation when we have legitimate processes for managing this:  Chapter 11 in the US and Insolvency in Canada .

This story identifies how people are starting to band together , organize proper protests and offer significant opposition to what is happening in the US (and what should start happening in Canada as well).

Here’s a quote:

In his new book, Come Home, America: The Rise and Fall (and Redeeming Promise) of Our Country, William Greider sees the public’s anger as good news for the country – "America the Possible," he calls it.

"We’re at a break point in our history," he said. "And it’s not just the financial system, although that’s front and center. It’s the deteriorated economy, it’s militarism looking out in the world, trying to find the next war. It’s a lot of things coming at us, all at once. I believe, on the other side of all of these adversities, we can become a better country.

But to make that happen, Greider thinks, "People at large, I don’t care whether they’re middle class or upper class or working poor or union, non-union, have to find ways to come together themselves, perhaps in very small groups at first, and talk about their own stuff. Their experiences, their ideas their convictions, their aspirations for the country, themselves, their families, and then broaden out a bit, laterally. And have more people in the discussion. They don’t have to become a giant organization, but they have to convince themselves that they’re citizens…

"That’s kind of the mystery of democracy. People get power if they believe they’re entitled to power."

So how about it Canada?  I propose ‘no bucket days’ (against bailouts), where people rally on a specific day of each month as long as it takes to send the message that we’re no longer interested in keeping close friends of politicians in business while the rest of us suffer.

From Avaaz: Save the CBC

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OK … let the petitioning and Facebook pages begin, but nothing’s going to change until we get rid of the Cons.

Amid several beefs about this situation is the simple fact that the Cons (with the support of the Liberals) are spending billions of OUR DOLLARS on tax cuts and enriching the upper class, but when they promise to create jobs, this is how they respond:  by cutting more jobs.

Here’s a copy/paste from the latest effort of Avaaz.  Please act.

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Dear friends,

Our government is forcing the CBC to drastically cut 800 staff and programming. We urgently need a massive public outcry to Save the CBC:

Sign the petition!

Canada’s media networks have all been slammed by the recession. But the government is reportedly considering bailouts for its friends at private companies CTV and CanWest, while forcing the CBC to drastically cut 800 staff and programming.

Our CBC is a national treasure , and a pillar of public-interest journalism in a country whose media is owned by a few large firms. We won’t hear an outcry from their media outlets, and the CBC is too principled to use its megaphone to make the case for itself. We are the only voice the CBC has.

We urgently need a massive public outcry to Save the CBC , click below to sign the petition and forward this email to everyone who might care about this:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/save_the_cbc

The petition will be delivered directly to the government , through Parliament, ads, and spectacular stunts such as an airplane pulling a giant Save the CBC banner over parliament. In each case the number of signatures on the petition will be crucial to the effectiveness of the campaign, so let’s get as many people as possible to sign.

The CBC is facing a budget shortfall that amounts to just $6 per Canadian , but its request to the government for a bridging loan to cover this was denied. The deep cuts the CBC is making will damage the organization across the board, and they will not be the last. If we don’t stand up for the CBC now, it stands to die a death by a thousand cuts. Harper’s minority government is politically vulnerable and falling in the polls – public outrage could turn the government around on this, but it has to happen now. Let’s move quickly.

With hope,

Ricken, Iain, Graziela, Paula, Brett, Alice, Paul, Ben, Milena, Veronique and the whole Avaaz team.

PS – here are some links for more info on this:

The Star reports on how opposition parties accuse Harper of using the recession as an excuse to gut the CBC:
http://www.thestar.com/News/Canada/article/608591

Union says Harper government strangling CBC:
http://www.cjad.com/news/565/899819

Ian Morrison: Stephen Harper’s hidden agenda for the CBC:
http://www.straight.com/article-206164/ian-morrison-stephen-harper%3F%3Fs-hidden-agenda-cbc

A crisis of identity – A reader letter to the Globe and Mail:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20090327.COLETTS27-1/TPStory/Comment


The Big Takeover

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I’ve been saying/thinking this for a bit, and I feel a little relief to see someone more ‘mainstream’ voice concerns about the level and intent of bailouts, the intended recipients and the ultimate point of capitalism.

Yes, we’re at that moment where it’s now time to wonder if we’re entering a game-changing period era (not month, year or couple of days like the Cons might want you to believe).

If that’s the case, why the f**k are we giving a penny to a group of companies and ‘captains of industry’ who don’t know their asses from a hole in my wallet unless, of course, it’s all intentional?

The Rolling Stone piece titled "The Big Takeover" is long, but well worth the read.  The conclusions helped me and my limited attention span:

As complex as all the finances are, the politics aren’t hard to follow. By creating an urgent crisis that can only be solved by those fluent in a language too complex for ordinary people to understand, the Wall Street crowd has turned the vast majority of Americans into non-participants in their own political future. There is a reason it used to be a crime in the Confederate states to teach a slave to read: Literacy is power. In the age of the CDS and CDO, most of us are financial illiterates. By making an already too-complex economy even more complex, Wall Street has used the crisis to effect a historic, revolutionary change in our political system — transforming a democracy into a two-tiered state, one with plugged-in financial bureaucrats above and clueless customers below.

The most galling thing about this financial crisis is that so many Wall Street types think they actually deserve not only their huge bonuses and lavish lifestyles but the awesome political power their own mistakes have left them in possession of. When challenged, they talk about how hard they work, the 90-hour weeks, the stress, the failed marriages, the hemorrhoids and gallstones they all get before they hit 40.

"But wait a minute," you say to them. "No one ever asked you to stay up all night eight days a week trying to get filthy rich shorting what’s left of the American auto industry or selling $600 billion in toxic, irredeemable mortgages to ex-strippers on work release and Taco Bell clerks. Actually, come to think of it, why are we even giving taxpayer money to you people? Why are we not throwing your ass in jail instead?" (ED Editor:  I added the bold)

But before you even finish saying that, they’re rolling their eyes, because You Don’t Get It. These people were never about anything except turning money into money, in order to get more money; valueswise they’re on par with crack addicts, or obsessive sexual deviants who burgle homes to steal panties. Yet these are the people in whose hands our entire political future now rests.

Good luck with that, America. And enjoy tax season.

If you’re into something a little shorter that has pretty much the same point, check out this piece from Salon .

A spin on what they advise: all the Facebook pages in the world won’t save us from this gluttony. It’s time for action.