Friday, July 29, 2011

From Utoya Island to Capitol Hill

David Seaton's News Links
Definition of DECLASS
Transitive verb: to remove from a class; especially to assign to a lower social status
It is ridiculed by poets and libertines; idolized by moralists; the target of speeches by politicians, popes and all others who climb into the pulpit to recruit voters or followers; evasive of revolutions; the pillar of families and communities; the lifeblood of public treasuries and guarantor of the welfare state. The middle class is the true face of Western society. In a globalized world, where even in the poorest country you can always find someone with enough money to go for a ride in a space shuttle, only the pre-eminence of the middle classes distinguishes so-called developed nations from the rest. Countries cease to be poor not because of the positions their millionaires occupy on the ranking of the world's largest fortunes -if this were true, Mexico and India would be at the top of the list- but because of the size of their middle class. Ramón Muñoz - El País

The problem with US manufacturing is not that it has been shrinking – despite the “offshoring” of textile and electronics manufacturing to China, US manufacturing output rose by 3.9 per cent a year between 1997 and 2007. However productivity grew 6.8 per cent annually in the same period, so millions of jobs were lost. If manufacturing carries along the same path, McKinsey estimates that it could shed another 2.3m jobs by 2020, while the economy needs to create 21m more jobs to return to full employment. The mini-recovery in manufacturing jobs – 164,000 were added in the six months to April – recently stalled. John Gapper - Financial Times
Anders Behring Breivik has killed and maimed dozens of people and we have yet to see how many millions of Americans and others around the world will have their lives and futures mangled by the Tea Party, but be sure that they too will be legion.
At bottom, both the evil-hearted Norwegian massacre and the obstinate, nihilistic stupidity of America's congressional Tea Party, have the same origin: the crisis of the stagnating middle class in the industrialized countries. Their anger, paranoia and their resentment lie beneath the surface everywhere in the developed world, ready to erupt without warning like the magma of a volcano.
Why such hideous, stupid, selfish, mean-spirited, hatefulness and why so much of it?
You needn't go far to find the answer, it is all around you... if you are immune to it, count yourself as fortunate.
Millions of people in developed countries, people whose ancestors were always poor or who barely scraped by, began to live opulently after WWII; they were surfeited with full employment and a consumer cornucopia for several decades; in some countries this was accompanied by a generous social system. As we have seen, since the 1970s a placebo version of this lifestyle has only been maintained by easy credit both for individuals and for the governments themselves, and now this ease of financing has dried up.
Coming down in the world is always harder than going up... There always has to be someone to blame... The politicians and communicators and those who finance them, the ones who find a convenient "someone", are the only "winners" in times like these.
It is certainly easier and more convenient to blame Muslim or Mexican immigrants, climate science, homosexuals, multiculturalism, or George Soros for that matter, than to look under the hood of the economic system to see if something there is broken that could be fixed....
More regulations? More taxes? Better to blame the Koran or Barack Hussein Obama's "socialism" than to examine a system that can give so generously one moment and turn into a wicked old stepmother the next.
Utoya island and Capitol Hill are only stops on what promises to be a long journey. Read Breivik's "manifesto", read and listen to what the Tea Party have to say. Study them all with care and intent and if even the smallest thing in them resonates for you in any way, stop and study yourself carefully, knowing that you are a valuable "sample" of the zeitgeist yourself. We all live in the same world as these murderers and imbeciles and nobody, but nobody, is immune to what is coming down. DS

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Norway: a taste of the magma

David Seaton's News Links
Magma (from Greek μάγμα "paste") is a mixture of molten rock, volatiles and solids that is found beneath the surface of the Earth, and may also exist on other terrestrial planets. Wikipedia

The Norwegian right wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik, who killed at least 76 people in two terrorist attacks Jul. 22 Oslo and Utoya, is a member of a network of more than 10,000 neo-fascist groups spread across North America and Western and Northern Europe. Common to this informal North Atlantic neo-fascist coalition is the hatred of Islam, the radical opposition to immigration and to multicultural society, the belief in white racial supremacy and in Christian fundamentalism, the unconditional support of Israel, sympathies for the U.S. ‘Tea Party’ movement, and contempt for democratic institutions. Sympathetic to these neo-fascist groups are extreme right wing parties functioning in practically all European countries, from the Norwegian Progress Party, the Sweden Democrats, the True Fins, and the Danish People’s Party, to the French Front National (FN), and the Italian Lega Nord. The perpetrator of the massacre on Jul. 22 was a long-standing member of the Norwegian Progress Party. IPS

Interviewed on a popular radio show, Francesco Speroni, a leading member of the Northern League, the junior partner in Berlusconi's conservative coalition, said: "Breivik's ideas are in defence of western civilisation."(...) "If [Breivik's] ideas are that we are going towards Eurabia and those sorts of things, that western Christian civilisation needs to be defended, yes, I'm in agreement," he told Radio 24. In France, the National Front announced on Tuesday it had suspended a former local election candidate who made remarks on his blog that were interpreted as supportive of Breivik. Guardian

Glenn Beck spoke out about the mass killings in Norway on his Monday radio show. Beck said that he was troubled by the summer camp that was the site of the overwhelming majority of the carnage perpetrated by Anders Behring Breivik, the right-wing extremist who has admitted to the killings. The camp is run by Norway's leading center-left party, the Labor Party, and has long been a haven for young people looking to break into the political scene. Beck said the camp "sounds a little like the Hitler Youth. I mean, who does a camp for kids that's all about politics? Disturbing." He then went on to say that he had warned that there would be horrible consequences due to the rise of what he called the "evil" strain of Islam in Europe. Islam, he said, is "squeezing the neck" of the continent, and multiculturalism is "killing" it. Huffpost
Lone gunmen running amok killing numerous people is widely seen as an "only in America-mom and apple-pie", US specialty, so no American should feel smug for a moment about Anders Breivik's Norwegian shooting spree. Nor should anyone think that America's ultra-right is any less insane than Europe's or further away from power than Europe's... The Tea Party led debt negotiations are ample proof of that.
Given the access to guns and explosive that Americans have, and the training in using them that so many Americans have received and the general craziness of the American "conservatives", the world of Glenn Beck and his wannabes, I would be very surprised if somebody doesn't try to top the Norwegian massacre in America any day now.
What is very much needed at this precise moment is a rigorous cui bono analysis of the ultra-right, in Europe and America. Who profits from this insanity, what is in it for them? What economic or geopolitical interests activate or free ride on the milieu where Breivik was nourished?
This neo-fascist culture has to be explored in depth and the dots have to be connected. That should be the first task that progressive set themselves today. DS

Monday, July 25, 2011

A tribute to Amy Winehouse

This is a reprint of something I wrote in July of 2008, I don't see any reason to change a word of it:

I admit that I had thought that Amy Winehouse was just another one of the media grotesques, a sort of Paris Hilton with a beat.

I thought that her big hit "Rehab" was a catchy update of the Stax/Atlantic sound, sung in blackface. I sang it in the shower, hummed it in the metro.

This afternoon I was having coffee in my local, when the video shown above was played on some music channel and then, suddenly I discovered that I was listening to a very fine, an extraordinarily fine, potential saloon singer.

A saloon singer, by my definition, is someone that is able to take an ordinary, flat, tin pan alley lyric, and through what Noel Coward called "the power of cheap music", to mysteriously and effortlessly enter uninvited into some of the painful inner reaches that we, the most empathetic of anthropoids possess... as if they had been given a pass key.

A saloon singer is not a jazz singer. Billy Holiday was a saloon singer and Ella Fitzgerald was a jazz singer -- to name the two finest of their species. Someone said that when Billy Holiday sang, "my man is gone", your heart broke and when Ella sang the same line, it would be "my man is gone. He went out for cigarettes, he'll be back in ten minutes, can I take a message?"

You don't even have to understand the lyrics for this to work. Edith Piaf was perhaps, with Lady Day, the greatest saloon singer that ever lived and when I was a kid and didn't understand a word of French, I used to play her records over and over again. It's in the voice, not the lyrics.

There is one line in Amy Winehouse's song, "Back to Black", that goes, "I died a hundred times"... and bang there she is right into the special place that only saloon singers find, with nothing... and she does it every time she sings the line.

If this young lady doesn't die of a drug overdose, or ruin her voice, she could recreate saloon singing, be the female Sinatra.

If they finally do drag her off to those ten weeks of "rehab", she says she doesn't have time for, I suggest that she take some time and a piano player and go over the great American songbook. She could wash her face and shave her head, cut the stepin fetchit and live to be a hundred. It's there, she has it, I hope we don't lose it. DS

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Somalia Famine

David Seaton's News Links

According to the UN, more than six out of every 10,000 people are dying of hunger every day in some parts of the Bakool and Lower Shabelle regions of Somalia, with more than half the children there suffering from acute malnutrition. This is far above the normal famine threshold of two deaths per 10,000 people a day, and 30% malnutrition levels, UN agencies say. Guardian
Let's see what the "International Community" comes up with on this one. DS

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Murdoch Turkey Shoot

David Seaton's News Links
(Britain's politicians) had been pushed into taking a stand by the overwhelming public revulsion that greeted the discovery that the mobile telephone of Milly Dowler, the murdered Surrey schoolgirl, had been hacked. Even so, it was a dramatic show of political will. “The world has changed,” said Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, whose personal reputation has been enhanced through his crusade against the Murdoch empire. Financial Times
Repulsive as Murdoch is, the story of the Murdoch turkey shoot is not really about him. Much more importantly it is about public power finally standing up to immense and aggressive private power.
I cannot remember such a revolt against the corporate masters of the universe by the public's so called servants as we are watching these days in the the UK. Certainly I remember nothing like this at any time since well before the days when Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher first affirmed that government was the "problem" and not the solution to the world's affairs.
Now even such timid souls in the face of economic power as US senators are asking questions about Murdoch and all his works... where will it all end?
Has the worm finally begun to turn?
If so, about bloody time.
Let's see if, all pumped up on testosterone, the elected representatives of the people are manned up enough to take on the financial industry... beginning maybe with saving the Dodd-Frank bill from being neutered by the lobbies.
The crisis we are in is political-economic and economic-political. It begins as the income of the middle class began to stagnate in the '70  (economic) making it difficult for them or for those aspiring to enter the middle class to consume enough to float a consumer society or make a down payment on a home. This caused the politicians to water down moral hazard (political) and free up credit to encourage the people to spend money they didn't have. This in turn gave incentives to the financial sector to take huge risks (economic) in the knowledge that the tax payers would finally foot the bill and leave their bonuses untouched (political). Bubble followed bubble, with employment taking longer to recover from each bubble's burst... now we are looking at the bubble of bubbles: we are facing the specter of a chain of sovereign defaults, which would probably begin in Greece (where our civilization began) and end up... perhaps in Washington.
Who knows, perhaps we are watching the first faltering, toddler steps of the great capitalist Armageddon, the one that Marxists have been predicting for generations, where the contradictions of the system bring it tumbling down. Certainly I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for that to happen. But one thing is certain: this political-economic-economic-political merry-go-round, will only be brought under control (if it can be brought under control) by politicians taking charge of the situation... simply because the corporate interests are only able to measure profit and loss, that is their job, their role and it would be foolish to expect blood to flow from a stone: whereas politicians are required by the nature of their art, to measure intangibles, such as happiness and rage and to consider the pain and suffering of those they represent.
Will they be up to the job?
Probably not, but what is happening in London these days gives a tiny ray of hope that they might. DS

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Is the world run by Psychopaths?

Charming, materialistic, aggressive, self-centred, Machiavellian, thrill-seeking alpha males with little respect for rules who eat stress for breakfast – sound like a banker you know? If so, think again: it is a summary of the traits of psychopaths. Financial Times

There is a class of individuals who have been around forever and who are found in every race, culture, society and walk of life. Everybody has met these people, been deceived and manipulated by them, and forced to live with or repair the damage they have wrought. These often charming—but always deadly—individuals have a clinical name: psychopaths. Their hallmark is a stunning lack of conscience; their game is self-gratification at the other person's expense. Many spend time in prison, but many do not. All take far more than they give. Robert Hare (the acknowledged authority on psychopathy)
David Seaton's News Links
There is a quite plausible theory that the world is run by psychopaths: empathy-deficient, glib, manipulative, reckless swine... with apologies to our brother pig, who gives so much and gets so little in return.

I am very skeptical of pop psychology and psychobabble in general and totally against putting a creature as complex as the human one into neat little boxes, however, the autistic and unrepentant behavior of the lords of finance in provoking so much pain on so many millions; the reckless, Harpo-Marxian rutting of Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Rupert Murdoch's looting the telephones of the dead, has me wondering if there might be some truth in the idea that our destiny has been delivered unto the hands of the clinically insane.

The best, the most sensitive, video I have found on the subject features Frank Ochberg MD  one of the founding fathers of modern psychotraumatology who has helped to define and research Post-traumatic stress disorder. Doctor Ochberg's interest in psychopaths is directed toward helping their victims, which as far as the News Corporation, politicians or the financial sector is concerned, includes most of us.

Perhaps the deregulated environment of the post-Cold War world is to blame for all of this. For example, basketball is a recent invention and the NBA as a huge business, very, very recent. Before basketball, if you had a son who was 7ft tall, he was simply a freak: you had to buy him a special bed and try to find huge shoes for his enormous feet.... Now, you are thinking that he is going to play for the Lakers and guarantee your old age.... Maybe the same thing has happened to psychopaths... maybe deregulation has created an "NBA" for psychopaths. Maybe this explains the strangeness of the period we live in. DS

Monday, July 11, 2011

Murdoch... Beyond Parody

This misreading of the political mood has been the thread through News International’s bungled response to the phone-hacking affair. Odd really when one recalls that Rupert Murdoch was once the most politically-attuned and ruthless media proprietor in living memory. Phillip Stephens - Financial Times

The newspapers today are obsessed by the threat to the Murdoch empire. But I wonder whether the gloating over the sight of the media mogul laid low is slightly diverting attention from a potentially more dramatic angle to the phone-hacking story - the threat to the entire Cameron government. Gideon Rachman - Financial Times
David Seaton's News Links
Reading through all the articles about News International’s phone-hacking debacle, I find that I am not much shocked by the amorality and the immorality of Murdoch and his crew... been there, done that... I would have been surprised to learn something nice about him and his organization. No, what has me a little dazed, is how clumsily it is being handled, how fumblingly incompetent and tone-deaf they and the British government both are as they bumble through the whole disaster.. It is all part of this "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire", "tale told by and idiot", feeling I get from most of the political news I read nowadays.
Now, as the Financial Times chief foreign affairs commentator, Gideon Rachman points out, this business may even end up bringing down David Cameron's coalition government:
The arrest of Andy Coulson, the prime minister’s former press secretary, obviously takes the scandal right into Downing Street. I thought the statements of both Coulson and Cameron, in the aftermath of the Coulson arrest were fascinating – both for what they said and what they didn’t say.(...) As Coulson left the police station on Friday, he said – “There is an awful lot I would like to say, but I can’t at this time”. Was that just a brush-off to the waiting media. Or was it also a message to his old boss?
Spanish voters, for example, are telling pollsters that they rank the "political class" right behind unemployment as the major problem their country faces right now.... I think they are on to something universal. DS

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Marine Le Pen is no Sarah Palin

Marine Le Pen
David Seaton's News Links
Marine Le Pen is the leader of  France's National Front. Right now polls show her probably eliminating Nicholas Sarkozy in the first round of France's next presidential elections and facing a lackluster, Socialist, Martine Aubry, running as a hurried replacement for shop-soiled Dominique Strauss-Kahn  in the final runoff.

Le Pen probably wont win, but  before she loses, she is going to give a lot of people in power the fright of their lives.

Le Pen is a populist of the extreme right, someone who appeals to the disenchanted and stagnant middle classes and to working people struggling not to slide off into social exclusion in the present crisis. A glib American observer might be tempted to compare her with Sarah Palin or Michele Bachman, but, despite their having similar constituencies, in contrast with Palin and Bachman, this lady is nothing to laugh about.

The following snippet from Der Spiegel's English edition, will give you a taste of the style and the reality of Marine Le Pen:
Using her notes instead of a prepared speech, she speaks in short, hard-hitting sentences. She talks about issues like the loss of buying power, and about people who have no more than €50 or €100 ($71.50 or $143) left over at the end of each month. She warns against refugees from Tunisia, and against immigrants in general. She demands social welfare systems for the French instead of for immigrants. And then she finally gets to her central issue: the fight against globalization, which Le Pen says is destroying France. She wants to leave the euro, reintroduce customs borders and nationalize banks. Her vision is the antithesis of a Europe that hardly anyone, even in France, believes in anymore. "What are the others, the conservatives and the socialists, proposing? Nothing! They are busy fighting the National Front!" She rants and she is audacious, unlike the well-trained spin doctors normally seen on television, and she appeals to many people. "Elections are sexual affairs," the author Christine Angot wrote recently in the daily newspaper Libération. "Marine Le Pen appeals to 20 percent of us and fascinates 80 percent. A mannish woman, phallic, we like that. A woman who dominates her father and gets better results." Der Spiegel
Whew, now that is change you can believe in!

Marine Le Pen is a sinister lady for sure, but what you see is what you get... when you compare her to American politicians, even, or especially to a pair of clowns like Palin and Bachman, American politics seems like a Punch and Judy show, with one puppeteer doing all the voices and the same hands up all the puppet's bottoms. 

And it's not just Palin and Bachman, even president Obama, who was once sold as a sort of medicine show cure-all, about to re-found the Republic in progressive righteousness, has turned out to be a damp squib... to put it mildly.

Even the ballsiest lady in US politics, Hillary Clinton, is basically somebody's wife, with no fighting agenda anybody could locate in a dimly lit room. No, there is no American equivalent to Marine Le Pen. And despite this in-definition, the system seems paralyzed by partisan conflict... Most puzzling.

The question is really: is this all embracing, bland, gummed up, impassive, unmovable phoniness, where everything changes in order that things never change, finally the genius of our system or its ruin? DS

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Sign of the Times: Glenn Beck to address the Knesset

David Seaton's News Links
We do live in a society in which things have become almost inscrutably complex. (...) I think the rise in autism diagnosis has a lot to do with children coming into a society that no longer makes much sense socially and contains within all the incentives for behavioral meltdowns, social misunderstanding and anxiety. When you consider high unemployment, high divorce rates and general unhappiness in the culture, the complexity that we've accepted and nurtured as somehow being representative of a more advanced and healthy society seems much less so. Orion
“In the quest for growth, many countries have neglected to build a reliable system of social security that will help citizens buffer the market's volatility.(...) Democratic capitalism’s greatest problem is not that it will destroy itself economically, as Marx would have it — but that it may lose its political support.” Raghuram Rajan  
Despite so many ethnic, religious and social conflicts, over the years America has plowed on in reasonable harmony because the economy provided jobs and a reasonably predictable outcome for anyone willing to work hard... That has ground to a halt and now, in America, like at some family dinner from hell, when much too much has been drunk, all the built up spleen and resentment is spewing out and things are said that can never be taken back. 

With jobs disappearing for months beyond any unemployment coverage and with health insurance coverage dependent on having a job, out, Americans live with an intolerable level of anxiety, complicated, as Orion points out, by an enormous, tectonic shift of ever increasing social changes that shake up the familiar relationships of the generations, the ethnic groups and the sexes.

This is the perfect time for someone like Glenn Beck and he knows it... In a horrible sort of way he is a genius, someone who was just waiting to happen... he doesn't need Fox or any other network or master: all he needs is to channel America's mood and it to make it his bitch. 

To take the temperature of that mood, have a look at the following from the BBC:
The difficult truth for Spokane, for Washington State, for neighbouring Idaho and for all of the US, is that hate groups - anti-black, anti-Jew, neo-Nazi - are on the rise again. And nearly everyone, including members of those groups, agrees that the election of Barack Obama has been a catalyst for the increase in support. "I wouldn't say it surprises me," says Spokane's mayor Mary Verner, "though it is alarming to me". "We are seeing a resurgence in hate groups because we are seeing democratic activity and empowered citizens who are not Anglo-Saxon Protestants." There was the same sort of reaction from the local sheriff, Ozzie Knezovich, when he heard that a bomb had been left beside the route of the Martin Luther King Jr Day march. "Surprised? No," he says. "We live in a different world now - hate seems to be a widespread phenomenon right now." And there are ordinary citizens - and their children - who are at the receiving end of hate group activity in Washington and Idaho. A sign questioning the legitimacy of Barack Obama as president Barack Obama has faced repeated questions about his legitimacy as president Rachel Dolezal, who teaches art and African-American studies, has been repeatedly harassed since word got out about what she taught. Her homes - she has moved several times - have been broken into. Nooses have been left for her, and a swastika was left on the door of her workplace. And she has acted to protect her son. "I actually bought him a pair of earphones for the bus," she says, "because he hears the word 'nigger' every day. "It seems things were kind of hush and sanitised and cleaned up, or something, and then Barack Obama just brought things to the surface that were already existent within people."
Now one the most curious manifestations of Glenn Beck's peculiar genius is to appeal simultaneously to both antisemites and to the Zionist right. You may remember this news item from back in January:
Four hundred rabbis, including the leaders of all the main branches of Judaism in the US, have signed an open letter calling on Rupert Murdoch to sanction the head of Fox News and one of the channel's most famous hosts for frequent inappropriate references to the Nazis and the Holocaust.(...) In the letter, the Jewish coalition calls on Murdoch to take action against Roger Ailes, the bombastic president of Fox News, as well as against Glenn Beck, the channel's most notorious rightwing commentator. "We share a belief that the Holocaust, of course, can and should be discussed appropriately in the media. But that is not what we have seen at Fox News," the letter says. Guardian
And now, only a few months later, this:
News Item: Glenn Beck to address Knesset panel in July - Jerusalem Post
Conservative pundit Glenn Beck will advise MKs on fighting the delegitimization of Israel abroad during a trip to Israel in July. Knesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee chair MK Danny Danon (Likud) invited Beck, a Fox News and radio host and an outspoken supporter of Israel, to address the committee on how to recruit friends of Israel in the US to defend Israel’s right to exist. “When we face an international wave of hatred of Israel and Jews – which is expressed in Facebook pages and films calling for our destruction – it’s good that Israel has talented friends that can contribute to our public-relations efforts,” Danon said.
This is not quite so mysterious as it might first appear.  Glenn Beck is someone who spots all the fault lines in American society... even the Jewish ones.  Right wing Zionists are quite ambivalent about antisemitism, they always have been: obviously more antisemitism leads to more people emigrating to Israel.  Also, the Zionist right wing of Israel, would like to put pressure on progressive or liberal American Jews, who are getting rather lukewarm about Israel of late. Beck is a "wild card", the joker in the deck for them to play. Glenn Beck, knows what he is doing and so do they.

Really, Glenn Beck is nothing more than a symptom, like toadstools are a symptom of a wet spring. When the conditions are right both the Becks and the toadstools pop out of the ground overnight. The true dilemma is to face and  to overcome those conditions. DS

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

DSK: do you have to be nice person to get raped?

Portrait of a used Kleenex
Although the Manhattan district attorney’s office agreed last week to release Mr. Strauss-Kahn from house arrest, prosecutors said they still believed that there was evidence of a forcible sexual attack. Most of their problems with the case, they said, had to do not with the woman’s account of the attack, but rather with inconsistencies in her life story — lies she told on her asylum application and tax returns; deposits that were made to a bank account in her name; and a conversation she had with a man in federal custody in Arizona.  New York Times
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The question here seems to boil down to this: do only "nice" people get raped, while non-nice people merely get fucked, because that is what they are here on earth for?

Or is it OK to rape a poor African woman who told a lot of stories to get into the USA, and who has a boyfriend that sells dope, because nobody will ever believe her, even when all the objective evidence supports her version of events?

At this point it looks like ace-District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. is going to drop charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn because he is afraid to put the victim on the witness stand. Frankly it appears that he has lost his nerve.

I discovered, while reading Le Monde, that some of the best coverage of this case is from The Daily Beast

I followed a link in the French newspaper to the following article by Christopher Dickey in the Beast, and I have taken the liberty of putting a few phrases I find significant in bold type:
The prosecutors sought the additional hotel key records on Wednesday, informed defense lawyers about the victim's credibility problems on Thursday, then got the hotel security key logs for the other rooms the next day, one source said. Prosecutors “may have undercut the victim's story before fully checking it out,” the source said.

The logs, according to the source, appear to track the maid's original story. They show the maid entered room 2820 – around the corner from Strauss-Kahn's luxury suite – at around 10:30 a.m., then again at 11 a.m., and then at 11:30 a.m.

She then used her key to enter Strauss-Kahn's room around 12:06 p.m. A room service colleague has told authorities he went into Strauss-Kahn's suite at around noon to pick up dinner trays, saw no sign of Strauss-Kahn and then told the maid the room was empty and OK to be cleaned, sources told the Beast.

Other hotel witnesses said the woman told them she believed the room was empty and was even fearful she might lose her job for walking in on a VIP client, sources have previously said.

The maid alleged the sexual assault occurred between 12:06 p.m., when she entered the room to clean it, and 12:28 p.m., when Strauss-Kahn hurriedly left his room and checked out. Witnesses at the hotel checkout counter told investigators that the normally prim and proper Strauss-Kahn appeared so rushed to leave that he still had toothpaste foam around his mouth, one source said.

The maid has alleged that she managed to flee Strauss-Kahn's room shortly before he left and hid around the corner, right near room 2820 which she had been cleaning earlier, sources said.

A supervisor told prosecutors she found the upset maid near a linen closet outside room 2806, Strauss-Kahn's suite, shortly before 12:30 p.m. and that she took the alleged victim back to Strauss-Kahn's room to calm her and debrief her about the incident, sources have said. Hotel colleagues reported the woman spit on the floor and walls in front of them, and appeared so traumatized that she wanted to vomit.

The hotel key card records that prosecutors belatedly got from the Sofitel on Friday show the maid keyed room 2820, which she had cleaned hours earlier, at 12:26 p.m. and, during the same minute, also keyed room 2806 where Strauss-Kahn had stayed – which would support the assertion that her supervisor took her there, according to a source directly familiar with the evidence. Daily Beast
What more can be said for the moment, except that this is the most sordid political-money-sex case I can ever remember... and all I can say is that I hope that District Attorney Vance will finally man up and let this lady have her day in court. DS

Monday, July 04, 2011

Notes on a conversation

David Seaton's News Links
A couple of days ago I spent a hot Madrid summer evening sitting in a sidewalk café, chatting and reminiscing late into the night over tapas with a group of Americans from San Francisco, who you might say were a good cross section of modern progressive, middle class America with several different ethnic heritages represented. In common: education, income, residence and liberal tendencies.

The reason I am providing so much context is because, well into the evening, the talk turned to the Greek debt crisis, which led to Goldman Sachs' role in cooking Greece's books in order for them to enter the Euro, which is the origin of their problems today. At the mention of Goldman Sachs, there settled over the conversation a type of silent, ice-cold murderous hatred that I don't associate with middle class America. A very "un-American" type of hatred; as if you mentioned the Chinese to a Filipino or the Serbians to a Croatian or the Germans to an elderly Jewish person... not an outburst of eyeball-popping expletives, just something hard and cold and deadly, more like the Balkans or of people who fought the Spanish Civil War, than any educated, progressive, middle-America I have ever known.

Observing this change of mood... its depth and coldness, for the first time in many years I got the urge to return to the states and take a trans-continental bus ride, while I still can, and just listen to Americans talk, unfiltered by the media and the system. I got the feeling which I really cannot confirm from here, that the entire system, from the Wall Street encumbered, Obama administration to Michele Bachmann's clown-shop Tea Party are only acting out a farce to distract people from the whiff of cold hatred I picked up that night.

I don't know who would have the nerve to do it, but I got the feeling that the politician who promises to put Lloyd Blankfein and all who sail in him in jail with Bernie Madoff, for the rest of their lives, might sweep the polls in 2012. There is definitely the smell of blood in the air. DS

Saturday, July 02, 2011

DSK: New Developments

(S)upporters raised the prospect of Mr Strauss-Kahn’s return to French politics, while snap opinion polls found strong popular support for a presidential bid from the man once tipped as the candidate most likely to beat President Nicolas Sarkozy in next year’s election.   Financial Times
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As far as I can see the proposed scenario is the following: So relieved to discover that DSK is not a pathological sex criminal, but simply a seedy, sordid, old scumbag, -- the sort of person Andrew Weiner would like to be when he grows up (if he ever does) -- the French people go and elect Dominique Strauss-Kahn the president of France.

I think that would be the "coup de grace" to what is left of their tattered, tired and tatty "grandeur"... if you'll pardon my French. DS