Much ink and spit were spilled about the historical election that took place on November 4, 2008. It wasn’t just about the landslide that surrounded the Democratic Party’s victory, the biggest in decade, it wasn’t the celebration of a Bush era finally coming to an end. Barack Obama is black, forcing the United States to face its history with slavery. In truth, Barack Obama is half-black, and that noticeable half seems enough to proclaim the end of racism. One symbolic measure and all is healed forever: a new reconciliation technique, or the burial of centuries of segregation?

Nothing like a stark reminder to set the score. In case anyone thought that racism was dead and that Equality trampled the pathetic ghosts of division and white supremacy whilst riding the streets of New York on a glistening unicorns, Philadelphia is coming to the rescue by walking all over our beautiful new, post-race Utopia by throwing a 1950s theme party. Not the kind of bouffed-up hair and checkered shirts: the kind where black people are not invited. Allison Kilkenny reports that a Philadelphia-based private swim club has taken upon itself to kick out over sixty children from its pools, the reason being that they had apparently spent too much time in the sun. In the words of John Duesler, president of said club, “there was concern that a lot of kids would change the complexion… and the atmosphere of the club”.  Translation: if seen from the sky, the club would have looked like a melting pot of different races, instead of a homogenous white human sheet that would refract sunlight. John Duesler would have none of that.

The Valley Swim Club – let’s give names in case you want to know who you’re going to write an angry letter to – was kind enough to tell the black children, who had managed to come up with the inexplicable price of $1900 to use said pool, that the club “does not allow minorities” and that they were to “exit the pool immediately”. As a result of said black children goofing around in chlorine water like their civil and constitutional rights are supposed to allow them to, all the other little white kids, perfectly raised by their white parents in white schools with white teachers reading white books, all stormed off the pool, in the manner of an offended SS officer who just realised his right hand came in contact with that of a Jew. Such distinct and spontaneous behaviour coming from children is extremely suspicious when children are generally non-discriminative until they are told to be.

Obviously, one would expect that The Valley Swim Club would now be at the heart of a horrible Pennsylvania State Court controversy regarding their politics of segregation. Let it be known that in 2009, this is perfectly legal, and that John Duesler’s white supremacist pool is far from being the only one in the country. Kilkenny highlights that although some private clubs have been sued in the past for discrimination, their privacy – and the fact that their inner sanctum rules are therefore not part of public records – it is complex to stress the exact number of white-only private clubs, the secrecy surrounding enrollment policies being as thick as a toxic cloud.  This said, all-white golf tournaments do take place every year and are only spoken of when famous politicians participate in those shenanigans. From Bill Clinton to lawmaker Tom DeLay, The Valley Swim Club’s only mistake was to be a little more upfront about their policies than some other clubs claiming that “no black people have applied”.

Regardless of the pathetic excuses that The Valley Swim Club is attempting to put forward as some sort of exoneration for their obsolete and segregationist rules, discrimination against colored people or gay people needs to be highlighted and emphasized when it becomes so institutionalized. Telling children to not mix with other children because they are different is one horrid educative method. Having staff removing said children from the pool because of the same difference as it would allegedly cause other club members some distress is just as disgusting and backwards. Wear white cloth robes and burn crosses in your backyard if you believe it, but under no circumstances must a club, allowing other members and accepting outsiders under the paiement of a royal fee only to kick them out is the same principle than making them sit at the back of the bus. Money is no different regardless of the color of the hand it is coming from. Children’s innocence, however, is priceless.

From Allison Kilkenny’s Twitter, “Just received information that the law firm of Mildenberg and Stalbaum is filing a class action lawsuit against The Valley Club”.  Let’s hope that the price of progression and equality will finally reason John Duesler and his small-brained ways.


“Sarkozy, I see you!”

Those are four words that will bring a 47 years old teacher from Marseille in front of a court tomorrow. On February 27, said teacher witnessed a police patrol proceeding to an identity check in the city, in a way that was a little too violent and excessive in his taste. Yelling the sarcastic one-liner twice, in front of the policemen, he was arrested for “unruly daytime outrage”, and held in custody despite strong popular reaction. The story, that has made the rounds on the blogosphere before being quickly picked on by major news outlets, is just another proof that the Kingdom of Sarkozy is taking another step further in the suppression of civil liberties.

According to french law, noisy outrage consists in either extremely loud noise after 10pm, or injures/lewd insults to a public representative/official during the day, at a noise level high enough to encourage collective protest. The teacher in question yelled it in the middle of extremely busy southern train station Gare Saint Charles – train stations at rush hour probably being the place where most people come to quietly reflect on spiritual thoughts after work, in-between two commutes. Mr. Eolas, attorney at law, commented on his blog: “Showing off a giant sign obnoxiously and obviously criticizing the President is an offence. Yelling a critical comment regarding the highly violent profile of said President’s police techniques is an outrage. What is the next step: a slightly disapproving thought could become an attempt to destabilize the authority of the state?”

The ridiculousness of the incident hasn’t escaped general consciousness. This was an isolated incident, certainly nothing compared to anarchist collective hysteria. This was a 47 years old teacher, certainly not a hooded 17 year old dealing drugs and yelling for attention. The sentence, albeit clearly critical of the violence with which Sarkozy intends on bringing social peace, was in no way insulting nor offensive. Those four words could have been pronounced by anyone in any situation, but in the current french political climate, the effect was that of a bomb. The problem seems to reside in the fact that the unfortunate and spontaneous public speaker dared invoking the name of the President in public, without any sort of respectful prefix – an offense that is apparently punishable by immediate arrest. Nicolas Sarkozy could then be He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named?

Napakatbra, another politically savvy blogger, was prompt to notice that indeed, commentators hardly ever used the President’s name outside of the regular news enunciation. “at the Stade de France, during the soccer French Cup finale, never the speaker has ever spoken the name of the president, and would rather paraphrase, using ‘highest authority of the Republic’…. Ironically enough, a report published by the Human Rights League commented yesterday on the ‘bitter statement to be made about the decaying relationships between the state police and its citizens’. My point exactly.” Another detail to add on the Napoleon Complex diagnosis? Sarkozy, whose popularity rates are dunking lower in the polls than any sinking iceberg, would be so afraid of popular vindict he would submit any potential critic to the wrath of his judicial system? Said judicial system, however, tries to hold on tightly to the little remains of independance King Sarkozy was generous enough to let them keep, and the verdict is expected to be low, if not significantly symbolic. The French Attorney General, Rachida Dati, has been under the judges and attorneys’ fire for over two years, after the reform of the judicial system made them the puppets of this overwhelming state power. Dati went on to comment that said judges were “vicious”. Outrage to the court, maybe?

Criticize his policies and you might be outcasted. Dare speak his name in public and you might be arrested. Vote against the majority and you will be isolated. If Sarkozy’s insecurities, reinforced by a difficult and staunch international climate, can only find repression as an outlet, the country will soon be surrounded by a proverbial Iron Curtain, certainly sparking even more outbursts of rebellion than we have seen ever since the election in May 2007. As the “small man with big ideas” celebrates his second year in office under the boos of an unpleased, underwhelmed and dissatisfied audience, the violence keeps on rising, unemployement rates are peaking, and social unrest is palpable, in a country that had always taken pride in its realistic and philosophical approach to politics, prone to call for freedom and social equality, for economic  welfare and institutional independance. Has France become the shadow of its former self? Never his predecessor and lifetime enemy Jacques Chirac had stirred so much trouble. Controversy is not the only way forward, and we shall wait until Sarkozy sees it too.

When all else fails, try Texas.

See, I have been fighting hard for years against stereotypes, but Texas constantly fails to uphold my equality opportunities values and reaffirms its unique world view with such admirable persistance I can not help but put down the arms and declare myself won over.

Rick Perry is not just any governor. See, he’s the hands-on kind. He’s the one who firmly believe in the supremacy of his own state and its unprecedented ability to provide new rules to live by – and spawn specific rulers to create said rules. Rick Perry now has enough of Barack Obama, after three months, and is not afraid to say so. By “not afraid” I mean that Rick Perry has apparently released a call for secession.

In short: Rick Perry has decided to get on board with the Republican teabaggers and denounces the “oppression” of the current goverment, that he believes is “intrusive in the life of citizens” and “interferes” with the affairs of Texas (a federal government getting invested in the affairs of one of its states? say it ain’t so!) In words that he should have perhaps chosen a little more carefully, Governor Perry is basically accusing the Obama Administration to … stage a coup: “Texans need to ask themselves a question. Do they side with those in Washington who are pursuing this unprecendented expansion of power, or do they believe in individual rights and responsibilities laid down in our foundational documents.” Either Perry just woke up after a five-year nap, or it is simply a pot calling kettle situation of sheer, utter and unmatched absurd hilarity.

Perry continues in speaking up for what he believes is the majority of Texans:

We think it’s time to draw the line in the sand and tell Washington that no longer are we going to accept their oppressive hand in the state of Texas. That’s what this press conference, that’s what these Texans are standing up for. There is a point in time where you stand up and say enough is enough, and I think Americans, and Texans especially have reached that point.

Interesting how Perry says about Washington what most of us have always thought about Texas itself.

What’s even more interesting is that we have yet to know what Rick is going to do now they have “reached that point”, now he has claimed that “enough is enough”. Is he going to declare Texas’ independance? Is he going to petition Texas for a return to Mexico? Is he going to claim allegiance to the British Crown? Will he seek the restoration of the Confederate States? Tune in, because I believe Governor Rick Perry is definitely onto something.

The land of the free and home of the braves has been fighting a long-lasting war no one knows if they’re ever going to win: no, this is not about Iraq (for once), it’s about a stranger in a strange land. It’s about our God-protected, world infamous and almost-imperialistic-again American being awash in evil. Wow, and here I was thinking that Amazon was simply being stupid.

Happy Easter, James! Love, educated people.

Happy Easter, James! Love, educated people.

Now, if you focus a little more on such strong religious rhetoric, you do not have such a long list of suspects. It’s either Rick Warren, the AFA, or George W. Bush trying to be awash in ennui and confusing different speeches in different locals. But as it often appears to be the case when absurdity is meeting medieval times at a political crossroads, Focus on the Family’ former chairman James Dobson is responsible for this insult to our collective intelligence. Resigning from the position, Dobson claims that his organization has lost the “culture war” against the internet. Yes, in 2009, this is a discourse that is accepted as normal and regular in some circles, which probably says a lot about the level of education in North America. Dobson is however realistic when he confesses that “humanly speaking”, whatever this is referring to, “we have lost”.

Lost what against whom, you might ask? The culture war against us godless heathens is what. Focus on the Family reckons that the internet has managed to campaign against their morals and values in a way they couldn’t possibly match.  Dobson explains: “[W]e made a lot of progress through the Eighties but then we turned into the Nineties and the internet came along and a new president came along and all of that went away and now we are absolutely awash in evil. And we are right now in the most discouraging period of that long conflict. Humanly speaking, we can say that we have lost all those battles, but God is in control and we are not going to give up now, right?”

A more modern translation of this speech could go as follows: “we managed to rope modernity in throughout the 80s, but then we moved onto the 90s, the internet came along, people had access to information, a Democrat [Bill Clinton] came into office, and all of our hard work went away, and now we are buried deep under a foot-thick blanket of educated people trying to push us now. Humanly speaking, we are still the lowest of the low, but God is in control, so we can stick around for as long as our annual fundraisers allow us to, yes?”

Blaming their descent from respectable lobbying group into hardcore evangelistical doomsday preachers on Bill Clinton is a little far-fetched, but everyone will find a way to agree on the incredible role Google and political blogs have played in the downfall of right-wing fundamentalists. From a greater, easier and faster access to fact-checked information, to the role played by universities and schools into propagating their newfound knowledge on social networking sites, it becomes easily understandable that Dobson and his brethrens were outdone by a fair mile on that fight he believes is not over yet. Granted, we still have Disney and the Jonas Brothers to show us the right way, but at least, the current President in office has made sure we wouldn’t have to book a ticket to Romania in order to abort in peace. At least for the time being. Like any decimating pandemic in history, Focus on the Family might well rise again from its ashes, with another more internet-savvy leader, spreading creationist one-liners on Twitter and buying amazon.com stock.

Yes, humanly speaking, we may have pushed James Dobson out of his chair, but for as long as science, education and knowledge are on our side, we may have to continue fighting for our intelligence, rights, and open-mindedness to win this fight we had started a very long time ago – Enlightenement deserves its name. It’s time we claim it back.

Firstly, I want to see if K will swear at me for this. I honestly have no idea what to make of this article, other than the English really want to piss off the French.

To sum-up, a large amount of the bonuses AIG is paying out will be going to the people who caused the problem in the first place which does make sense if you think they probably contracted at higher rates because they were bringing in more money, previously, at higher rates due to a larger involved risk. I’m choosing to find humor in the situation ie, you can be rewarded for failure! instead of choosing to set something on fire.

In South Africa, where gay marriage is legal, lesbians are being targeted as part of a campaign to rape them straight. That society has two classes [Rich and/or well-educated – ones who legalized gay marriage as part of the equality stance and poor and/or uneducated- the ones who did not. Before I hear, no, the rich are the racist white people, most of them left and went to Texas. Trust me, I’ve met lots of them in awkward situations like Thanksgiving dinner where I try to sit as far away as possible while still being the room.] that are such diametric opposites of each other, I have no idea how it functions.

I’m also not clear who would take the idea that raping someone would make them want dick in the future and run with it. Real life isn’t Preacher. Maybe this is the same rumor mill that produced the sleeping with virgins cures AIDS wisdom.

[To be fair: I also have no idea how Uzbekistan functions either, since it’s my understanding the housing prices alone are equal to standard pay, so you have to live with someone else so the other person can buy the food. I think their economy must be some sort of prank. I was told Greece is similar. Ours is a better run prank I suppose. Larger prank?]

People who are aware of my survival paranoia can guess how thrilled I am to see this. I hope this trend continues in the future to help offset the loss of farm land we’ve caused in the past by converting it over to build McMansions that are being abandoned in huge numbers. As population grows in urban and the closely surrounding areas, personal gardens, and community growth projects, will be a fantastic way to help meet needs for fresh vegetables. No, I don’t work for a garden supply company, but if they want to hire me, I’d love it.

Looks like the military is still kicking people out for being gay, despite recent lowering of standards to maintain adequate recruitment levels. You don’t have to graduate high school, or have a GED any more! The Army will take you. Even in a failing economy, people still don’t want to be shot at, which is shocking, I admit. Lowering IQ and educational standards is the way to go!

Of course, it could also be the vast number of stories of soldiers coming back from Wars I & II crippled, maimed, or psychologically damaged, and being ignored by the VA and the military that is supposed to provide for them. In my case, I just don’t really like being shouted at by idiots, unless it’s on the internet. I don’t want to mix my hobby with my job. [Note: This is a reference to drill instructors. I am not calling everyone in the military an idiot.]

Now, I understand that the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy only applies to soldiers who either come out directly to their supervisors, or are caught having fun time, as I’ve seen individuals mention being in the military, even as part of a couple, with no repercussions, but continuing a policy that sets a soldier up for blackmail and a double life is still a failing policy.

Frankly, with all the other problems the military has, gay wo/men should be the least of their worries, especially considering the large number of Arab translators and intelligence officers they keep dumping. Honestly, I don’t think a dismissal of this policy will cause that many issues. There are already [and have always been] gay soldiers. Sure, some guys might feel a little comfortable in the showers, but maybe that will make them think twice before they attack female soldiers behind the latrines.

It’s time for this policy to be disbanded. The fact that we’ve been throwing out valuable soldiers for the past decade while conducting two wars, and various related skirmishes is incredibly ridiculous. This needs to be done now, before we have to lower the standards to include people who dropped out of junior high. We’re bribing immigrants with green cards already. Also, while I am on the subject – talk to the wo/men in the field about what kind of body armor they want, I bet you will learn a thing or two but wasteful spending. It’s not helping them much if they are taking half of it off because it gets in their way.

Reasonable policies oh government of mine. Try it out.

They say great crimes never stay unpunished. It is now hard to predict the sentence possibly faced by Bob Madoff right now, pleading guilty to eleven charges of fraud, in the biggest Ponzi scheme ever operated. The 70-year-old professional money launderer is now about to contemplate a possible 150 years sentence. Whatever the outcome, the brain behind the collapse of capitalism will end his life in jail.

Bob Madoff: he worked hard for the money.

Bob Madoff: he worked hard for the money.

Let’s face it, that life wasn’t too hard on Madoff, who managed to post a $1 million bail and closed on his $7 million Manhattan apartment when he heard justice was finally there to collect him. Showing a politically correct remorse, he seems to surrender to fate, or more likely, to the desperate and justifiably angry hands of his victims, whose lives he destroyed, sending them in a spiral of debt and corruption. “I thought it would end quickly, but it proved impossible”, he said,  as we can all imagine. Or maybe not, since hardly any of us could claim a six-digit monthly paycheck. “I am ashamed for these criminal acts. I always knew this day would come.”

A Ponzi scheme occurs when an investor pays the shareholders with the money other investors have just given him, instead of using benefits. It is unclear how much money Madoff has exactly managed to put aside for his own enjoyement, as “only” $650 million have been retrieved so far. The rest is supposed to be laying dormant in fiscal paradises all over the world – from Switzerland to Luxemburg, accused by the European Union today to refuse to comply with the new laws on bank transparency. Madoff could have become the biggest criminal of our time, the successor of legendary Capones, but his crime is coming at a time when regular investors and shareholders need support and reliability, as the world is crumbling under the weight of the subprime crisis. Madoff has run away from the nation’s money when the nation needed it the most. Friedman, an accountant who lost over $3 million to Maddoff, told CNN Money: “The crime is really unimaginable. It’s not just a typical Ponzi scheme. It affects society as a whole. You don’t just have to be a Madoff investor to be affected by this.”

However, putting Madoff on trial, as cathartic as it may be, is only going to open the heavy and controversial Pandora box that the financial system represented. Not only did Madoff not act alone, he also succeeded in doing so for so long because no security system ever detected the flaw in his transactions.  An investor, who lost $700,000 in the Ponzi scheme, is turning his head towards the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) for either being reckless or turning a blind eye on Madoff’s crazy cruise:  “We’re not just the victims of Madoff; we’re the victims of the incompetence and irresponsibility of the SEC!” Put it simply, it is not just a man facing charges of evasion, abuse, thievery, and other countless felony and abuses of trust – it is the entire banking system that failed to provide security and transparency to their clients, leaving them to either participate in fraud, or lose all their assets, including mortgages and life insurances, on which their entire lives are built. Madoff is not just one giant fraud covered in fake tan who got lucky for way too long – he also represents everything the system have been doing wrong for several decades, and is emblematic of the free pass many banks and insurance companies have been given in the name of free trade.

Harry Markopolos, the Boston accountant who first waved the red flag when checking out Madoff’s accounts, is also appalled and shocked by the SEC’s complete lack of reaction. “I gift-wrapped and delivered the largest Ponzi scheme in history to them and somehow they couldn’t be bothered to conduct a thorough and proper investigation”. Who’s the real culprit here? Who should be sitting in the defendant’s seat next to Madoff? Is there a government responsability to engage when one Commission charged with regulating people’s money is turning the other cheek to the biggest Italian job in history? The former SEC chair, Chris Cox, recently resigned under strong criticism – but it will take more than a new leader (Mary Shapiro) to take onto the complete overhaul necessary to rebuild the trust in investors and jumpstart trading again. Once trust has been violated – especially in the extent to which it was repeatedly abuse under Madoff’s omnipotent rule – it is hard to retrieve. This time, capitalism needs to learn its lesson, and it needs to do it fast. People are out for blood and won’t stop just because Madoff has been deprived of his liberty until he stops breathing.

Raise your minimum rage, as Markopolos has reportedly alerted Shapiro of two new fraud cases.

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