the internets at work

by twit

In Zimbabwe, most people cannot afford to buy a newspaper because of the hyperinflation and most people cannot afford an independent newspaper because of the “luxury tax” on the sale of imported newspapers, including The Zimbabwean, which is printed in South Africa for distribution in Zimbabwe.

according to the internets, this flickr stream is a response, and it includes at least one billboard

update:  from The Zimbabwean on March 31, 2009:

To call attention to thew deplorable situation in Zimbabwe, TBWA\HUNT\LASCARIS collected trillions of dollars worth of worthless Zimbabwe currency to create billboards, flyers and wallpaper. The purpose of the campaign is to support The Zimbabwean newspaper which has been slapped by the Mugabe regime with a 55% luxury duty tax making the paper unaffordable to most citizens.

The campaign is running in England and South Africa where it is hoped people will buy the newspaper to support its ongoing coverage of the country’s plight.

and TBWA\HUNT\LASCARIS is an ad agency

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Systemic risk in the American Dream

by lestro

Today, the NYT profiles a bank in Georgia that has been there for 104 years but went under last week.

Here is the key graph, in my opinion:

To Glascock residents, it now seems as if the crisis has extended a slimy tentacle from Atlanta to their quiet community of farms and sawmills 120 miles to the east, where “sprawl” is something one does in the den after work. “It wasn’t the loans at this bank,” said J.H. Usry, 74, a retired hairstylist. “But we’re part of it and that’s brought us down too.”

It was a small town bank;  real “It’s a Wonderful Life” type stuff.  According to the story, for a long time, people didn’t even have account numbers and folks just knew each other.  It’s all very quaint.  So what went wrong?

But in 2000, the Griffin heirs decided to sell the bank — a decision opposed by Lee Griffin and his brother, Skip (Erasmus Eggleston III), who worked at the bank. At the time, the bank had only about $11 million in assets, but it had a charter, and to lenders in a hurry to cash in on the expanding real estate market, that was its most attractive possession.

The bank was bought by an Atlanta-area mortgage lender, who changed the name to FirstCity and moved the headquarters to Stockbridge, an Atlanta suburb where 20 other banks have offices. FirstCity proceeded to focus on real estate, which ultimately made up more than 90 percent of its loans.

Most of the bank’s money came from “brokered deposits,” investments obtained from third parties that shop around for the highest rates, rather than more reliable “core deposits,” which come from local customers. Of the bank’s three branches, where core deposits are typically made, the one in Glascock had the most money.

When historians look back, it will be this era in which they determine America died.  This story is a fantastic metaphor about what we are losing in our small towns as giant corporations chew up and shit out what we used to refer to as “the American dream.”

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They’re kidding, right?

by lestro

So apparently, the Republicans today released their budget proposal, which is very funny.

Almost as funny as this:

“Two nights ago, the president said we haven’t seen a budget yet of the Republicans,” said House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio). “Well, it’s not true, because here it is Mr. President.” He waved a thin document called “The Republican Road to Recovery” that describes the GOP proposal.

That’s funny because Boehner is trying to do a bit of a Ha-Ha on the pres, making it out as though the president is out of touch and didn’t know the Republicans had a proposal, when the truth is, THEY DIDN’T WHEN HE SAID IT.

How dumb do these guys think we are? oh, right:

Republican lawmakers refused to offer details of how much their alternative budget proposal would cost or how much it would increase the deficit, saying they would release overall numbers next week. Instead, they provided a general outline of proposals that included cutting overall government spending except for defense, banning any additional spending for bailouts of financial companies and a huge income tax cut that would make the maximum tax rate 25% instead of 36% as under current law.

They’re joking, right?

First of all, to complain about the president’s budget and then provide no specifics in what you are touting as the Republican counter-proposal is just fucking dumb.

But beyond that, at a time when government revenues are dropping and spending is increasing to fix the fucking messes created over the past eight years by Boehner and his buddies (who had no problem running up huge deficits and borrowing, borrowing, borrowing when Bush (who never once saw a spending bill he didn’t like) was in office), their plan is to cut taxes for the wealthy AGAIN, putting even more of the tax burden on the backs of the middle class?

Even Michael “Humpty” Steele is more together and sane than this.

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Hey Paul Krugman, where the hell are you man?

by twit

Krugman recently wrote for the New York Times that “the zombie ideas have won,” which is unsettling, to say the least, considering he is talking about the Obama Administration’s plan to stabilize our economy.

Which brings us to the delightful way that our internets can manage to push the issue:

currently at #16 on the viral video chart

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because they’ve done such a good job

by twit

and they are “worried that the proposals distracting employees

Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., recipients of more than $100 billion in U.S. rescue funds, criticized congressional proposals to tax Wall Street bonuses.

Bank of America Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Lewis called the tax “unfair” in a memo to employees today, while Citigroup’s Vikram Pandit said his bank is “working in every appropriate way with policymakers.” JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon held a conference call with about 200 executives, saying the firm is concerned about retention and is working with lawmakers.

what are they going to do, move to a private island somewhere and live in a rich-people-only colony?

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Sarah Palin’s campaign against special needs children

by twit

So Sarah Palin is turning down a large chunk of the federal stimulus money for Alaska:

The biggest single chunk of money that Palin is turning down is about $170 million for education, including money that would go for programs to help economically disadvantaged and special needs students.

But this is Sarah Palin, who will always impress with her capacity to turn her particular brand of heartless politics into an immediately hypocritical statement:

Obama, who made the joke Thursday night on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” apologized. But the remark caused an immediate stir.

Republican Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said she was “shocked to learn” about Obama’s comment.

“This was a degrading remark about our world’s most precious and unique people, coming from the most powerful position in the world,” Palin said, whose son, Trig, was born with Down syndrome last year. “These athletes overcome more challenges, discrimination and adversity than most of us ever will.

and she should know!  since she is leading the fight to add more challenge and adversity to the lives of special needs children in Alaska…

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Making the case for newspapers

by lestro

Today, the Seattle Times reaffirms exactly why newspapers are important and necessary with an in-depth, investigative report of the city’s response to the snowpacalypse.

West Seattle, home to the mayor and transportation chief Grace Crunican, received an inordinate amount of attention right before Christmas, records show. Ten employees spent a total of 76 hours over two days clearing sidewalks, landings and bus stops in West Seattle, with the largest crew dispatched to the Admiral district where Mayor Greg Nickels and Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis live.

No such emphasis was accorded other neighborhoods, although special attention was given to the private Lakeside School in Northeast Seattle, where a truck sprayed de-icer around the grounds, and a loop of streets in Laurelhurst that were plowed even though they’re not among the city’s list of priorities for snow cleaning, according to department records…

Transportation crews described confusion and delays in dispatching plows when the snow first began falling, making it harder to stay on top of the game. Meanwhile, the records show trucks hopscotching around the city, attending to special requests or remaining idle while the city announced it was plowing “aggressively” and clearing main routes that residents swore had yet to see a plow.

The story is fantastic and complete and a serious indictment of the wastes, excesses and abuses of government that only a newspaper can provide.  Reporters reviewed more than 2,000 documents in order to put together this piece. Let’s see a blogger or TV station pull that off.

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