It has been just over a month since the last time the Sri Lankan conflict was featured here. In that time, government forces have put further pressure on the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), and hundreds of thousands of civilians in the north of the country have been trapped in a war zone. Press coverage is still very limited, and conflicting stories are the norm, with LTTE representatives claiming the ethnic Tamil civilians are staying willingly, fearful of government forces, and the Sri Lankan government claiming the civilians are being held against their will by the LTTE. According to the UN, over 6,500 civilians have been killed, thousands more injured, and a stream of over 100,000 refugees has recently left the LTTE stronghold, and the Sri Lankan government has halted the use of heavy-caliber weaponry. (31 photos total)
This undated picture released on April 25, 2009 by pro-LTTE website Tamilnet shows civilians taking cover after what they say is an explosion caused by a goverment airstrike in the no-fire zone in Mullaitivu district. UN humanitarian chief John Holmes was to hold talks with the Sri Lankan government over the thousands of civilians caught in fighting between troops and Tamil rebels, officials said.The Sri Lankan government has resisted all calls to halt an offensive that is now on the brink of wiping out the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels, who have been fighting for an independent Tamil homeland since 1972. (AFP/Getty Images)
You know the American public discourse on Somali piracy has bottomed out when the animated show South Park features the most balanced treatment of piracy on TV. While supposedly legitimate pundits call for land invasions and summary executions to wipe out seaborne “terrorists,” in last Wednesday’s episode South Park called piracy for what it is: the result of two decades of humanitarian disaster.
Back during the debate for HR 1, I was amazed at how easily conservatives were willing to accept and repeat lies about spending in the stimulus package, even after those provisions had been debunked as fabrications. The $30 million for the salt marsh mouse is a perfect example, and Kagro X documented well over a dozen congressmen repeating the lie.
To test the limits of this phenomenon, I started a parody Twitter account last Thursday, which I called “InTheStimulus”, where all the tweets took the format “InTheStimulus is $x million for ______”. I went through the followers of Republican Twitter feeds and in turn followed them, all the way up to the limit of 2000. From people following me back, I was able to get 500 followers in less than a day, and 1000 by Sunday morning.
You can read through all the retweets and responses by looking at the Twitter search for “InTheStimulus”. For the most part, my first couple days of posts were believable, but unsourced lies:
* $3 million for replacement tires for 1992-1995 Geo Metros.
* $750,000 for an underground tunnel connecting a middle school and high school in North Carolina.
* $4.7 million for a program supplying public television to K-8 classrooms.
* $2.3 million for a museum dedicated to the electric bass guitar.
The responses, as you might imagine, were overwhelmingly positive.
All of 12 men arrested over a suspected bomb plot in the UK have now been released without charge by police.
Eleven of the men have been transferred to the custody of the UK Borders Agency and now face possible deportation.
Of course they will be deported – that way they won’t be able to embarrass the police… for example by giving interviews to the press…
Photographs of bankers who left Iceland after the financial crisis have a new use in the restroom of a bar in Reykjavik, the capital.
1. If you’re standing on the Moon holding a pen, and you let go, will it
a) float away,
b) float where it is,
or c) fall to the ground?
On July 15, 2007, The New York Times published an article with the headline “The Richest of the Rich, Proud of a New Gilded Age.” The most prominently featured of the “new titans” was Sanford Weill, the former chairman of Citigroup, who insisted that he and his peers in the financial sector had earned their immense wealth through their contributions to society.
Soon after that article was printed, the financial edifice Mr. Weill took credit for helping to build collapsed, inflicting immense collateral damage in the process. Even if we manage to avoid a repeat of the Great Depression, the world economy will take years to recover from this crisis.
All of which explains why we should be disturbed by an article in Sunday’s Times reporting that pay at investment banks, after dipping last year, is soaring again — right back up to 2007 levels.
So what’s going on here? Why are paychecks heading for the stratosphere again? Claims that firms have to pay these salaries to retain their best people aren’t plausible: with employment in the financial sector plunging, where are those people going to go?
No, the real reason financial firms are paying big again is simply because they can. They’re making money again (although not as much as they claim), and why not? After all, they can borrow cheaply, thanks to all those federal guarantees, and lend at much higher rates. So it’s eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you may be regulated.
When House Appropriations Committee chairman David Obey, the Wisconsin Democrat who has long championed investment in pandemic preparation, included roughly $900 million for that purpose in this year’s emergency stimulus bill, he was ridiculed by conservative operatives and congressional Republicans.
Enjoy your swine-flu, folks!
Oh, and for some excellent pig-flu based hate-mongering, check this