Archive of ‘stuff you should read’ category

The Bailout is Bullshit!

Ok, seriously now, y'all have to stop this Bailout from ever happening. This is the most ridiculous shit I've ever seen in my life. Let's review this for a second:

1) You have a consumer-based economy that relies totally on consumer's wealth, which means that it relies on home-ownership wealth, because that's where the american people have their wealth concentrated, in their homes.

2) You have a stagnating economy where everyone told you that the only safe bet is investing and flipping houses, and that one can make millions doing just that without much effort really. So many people start buying houses they can;t afford thinking that they will be able to flip them to other people and make a quick buck in the process, and they are aided in that with banks making mortgage taking very easy.

3) You have banks and lending institutions that wanted to raise their revenues, but no serious economic or manufacturing expansion was being sought out by the industry leaders (with industry moving to India and China and all) and thus no business loans, so they start focusing on giving out personal loans and mortgages. Realizing that there are so many real eligible homeowners out there, they start to give out mortgage loans to people they know can't afford it, hoping that most will eventually be able to afford them and that this will somehow diversify the risk and give them some method of hedging against any economic crisis that may occur if the bubble bursts. But just in case they can;t do that, they will lump a couple of those mortgages together, call them "financial instruments" or "derivatives", and then will sell them to Insurance companies, making the cash now, but with the gurantee that they will collect the money for them and cover the loans that fail to keep making payments. They figured, hey, how many of those could exist anyway? And then they took that money and gave it out as more bad loans, because, what's the worse that could happen?

4) The Insurance companies realize that they have a lot of money, and they need to invest it in order to be able to pay the insurance premiums for those customers who died, houses burned, whatever. So they take the cash they collect from their customers and decide that they need to invest it in something profitable, long-term and secure. Where to invest, where to invest? Oh boy, I know, the housing markets. And those Banks are offering to sell us those financial instruments comprised of hundreds of mortgages on a discount, and will promise to cover the loans if the customers failed to pay up. That sounds like a great deal, and a very secure one at that. And no, we won't check to see if those mortgages are good or bad, after all, the banks must've did their homework on this. They just don't dole out money to anybody who asks. Right?

5) And so far we have the making of the housing bubble: People who want to make a quick buck start buying houses they can't afford and sell them to other people for profit, who in turn buy them on mortgages they really can't afford, and take them and try to sell them to other people for profit, who in turn buy them on mortgages they really really really can't afford take them and try to sell them for profit, until that is no longer possible because the price has hit a ceiling and no one is willing to pay that much for that house anymore. So those plucky home investors find themselves facing one of two choices: 1) Either face foreclosure on the house, and thus lose whatever money you made on it, and the bank ends up with a piece of property that no one wants to buy at its current price anyway, and the investors's credit rating gets fucked and possibly affects all his other loans and mortgages, or 2) they sell the house at a loss, take a second mortgage on their own home, which they they really can't afford now, so they start getting behind on their payments, face foreclosure, lose their own house to the bank and become homeless. And when that happens, they will look at you with sad eyes and say "I don't know how this happened. They told me that house prices always go up".

6) And now the banks are freaking out, because they now have lots of overvalued property- thanks to all those bad loans- and little cash, so they start going after those who have been paying their mortgages on time and up their rates, cause, hey, we gotta make our money back one way or another. So those who have been financially responsible start getting fucked, many of them unable to make those payments now either, so they also lose their houses, and the bank ends up with more property no one wants to buy, and thus faces bankruptcy and possible shut down.

7) And now the insurance companies start to freak out because the banks are unable to collect the mortgage payments, and are unable to cover the price of the house and are entering the arena of going concern- i.e. they might just get bankrupt and shut down. So they start going through their books to see how many such bad mortgages they have bought in those financial instruments anyway, and low and behold, it's in the billions. They better start calling other financial institutions for help, quick. Wait, everyone did this? Fuck, I guess it's time to ask the government for help. They have money up the ass anyway.

8) The executive branch of the government realizes that the people paying their campaign contributions are about to go bankrupt, and shut down. So they freak out. They also freak out more when they are told that when this will happen, those companies will bring down the stock market, which will bring down the whole world economy, unemployment will rise and everyone will suffer. So those companies, regardless of their reckless behavior, need to get bailed out immediately. How much of a bailout you say? 700 billion dollars? That sounds about right to me. Send it to congress!

9) The nice people in congress are divided over the Bailout: Should they give it to the companies that were irresponsible in their lending, buying bad mortgages and not really checking them? Or should they bail out the people who knowingly took out mortgages they can't afford in order to make some quick profit and never saw this logical end coming? The question of the day becomes "Which irresponsible group should we help out?" , instead of "Why are we helping those irresponsible people anyway?" or "Ain't 700 billion dollars just a tad too much money to spend on failing irresponsible financial institutions, especially that this is the taxpayer's money we are talking about here?"

10) And finally, there is you, the good ole responsible working American, who didn't try to make a quick buck and who took only mortgages he/she could afford. Suddenly you find that the rates on your mortgage went up for no reason, so your house is in jeopardy, followed by an announcement by your bank that it is going bankrupt, and those savings you've put in there? Ehh, might not be there anymore dude. Oh, and the part of your savings you've put in the stock market or let those financial institutions invest for you in their mutual funds (part of which, naturally is invested in the housing market), well, that's going to shit as well. But don;t worry, the government will take the money you gave them, and give it to all of those people instead of spending it on government programs- such as education or road maintenance, or medicare- like they told you they would. And if they can;t afford to make such a payment, they will issue bonds to other countries which you later on will have to pay anyway. Don't you just feel blessed to live in the greatest country in the world now?

People, wake up. Fuck the financial institutions, let them fail. Fuck those people who gambled with your future, let them be homeless. And fuck the government that wants to bail them with YOUR MONEY, it's your money anyway, and having it used to reward stupidity and recklessness is surefire way to waste it. There is no averting this economic crisis, it's here to stay and it will be a while before it goes away. Deal with it, and move on, because all of this bailout talk is nothing but a short-term solution to a long-term problem. Just do nothing, and let the market correct itself.

Trust me, you will be better off, in the long run, that way!

Mahmoud Darwish dies, Hamas acts snooty

I have been at the beach for the majority of last week, so the news of Mahmoud Darwish's death didn't reach me until I arrived on monday. In case any of you are wondering who he is or what the big deal is, and it is a big deal, even for our fruity internet no-poetry-reading generation , well, his story is right here . Some of it anyway. Either way, our boy Darwish was an ardent communist, and god bless his heart, he wasn't like today's communists who cozy up to religious fundamentalists, so quite naturally Hamas hated his ass. They hated his ass even more after he published his recent poem lampooning them and Khaled Mesh3al, titled the Prophets of Gaza. Here is its text:

 أنبياء غزة

لولا الحياء والظلام، لزرت غزة، دون أن أعرف الطريق إلى بيت أبي سفيان الجديد، ولا اسم النبي الجديد
ولولا أن محمداً هو خاتم الأنبياء، لصار لكل عصابةٍ نبيّ، ولكل صحابيّ ميليشيا
أعجبنا حزيران في ذكراه الأربعين: إن لم نجد مَنْ يهزمنا ثانيةً هزمنا أنفسنا بأيدينا لئلا ننسى
مهما نظرتَ في عينيّ.. فلن تجد نظرتي هناك. خَطَفَتْها فضيحة
قلبي ليس لي… ولا لأحد. لقد استقلَّ عني، دون أن يصبح حجراً
هل يعرفُ مَنْ يهتفُ على جثة ضحيّته – أخيه: (الله أكبر) أنه كافر إذ يرى الله على صورته هو: أصغرَ من كائنٍ بشريٍّ سويِّ التكوين ؟
أخفى السجينُ، الطامحُ إلى وراثة السجن، ابتسامةَ النصر عن الكاميرا. لكنه لم يفلح في كبح السعادة السائلة من عينيه
رُبَّما لأن النصّ المتعجِّل كان أَقوى من المُمثِّل
ما حاجتنا للنرجس، ما دمنا فلسطينيين
وما دمنا لا نعرف الفرق بين الجامع والجامعة، لأنهما من جذر لغوي واحد، فما حاجتنا للدولة… ما دامت هي والأيام إلى مصير واحد ؟
لافتة كبيرة على باب نادٍ ليليٍّ: نرحب بالفلسطينيين العائدين من المعركة. الدخول مجاناً .. وخمرتنا لا تُسْكِر
لا أستطيع الدفاع عن حقي في العمل، ماسحَ أحذيةٍ على الأرصفة
لأن من حقّ زبائني أن يعتبروني لصَّ أحذية ـ هكذا قال لي أستاذ جامعة
أنا والغريب على ابن عمِّي. وأنا وابن عمِّي على أَخي. وأَنا وشيخي عليَّ
هذا هو الدرس الأول في التربية الوطنية الجديدة، في أقبية الظلام
من يدخل الجنة أولا ً؟ مَنْ مات برصاص العدو، أم مَنْ مات برصاص الأخ ؟
بعض الفقهاء يقول: رُبَّ عَدُوٍّ لك ولدته أمّك
لا يغيظني الأصوليون، فهم مؤمنون على طريقتهم الخاصة، ولكن، يغيظني
أنصارهم العلمانيون، وأَنصارهم الملحدون الذين لا يؤمنون إلاّ بدين وحيد:
صورهم في التلفزيون
سألني: هل يدافع حارس جائع عن دارٍ سافر صاحبها، لقضاء إجازته الصيفية في الريفيرا الفرنسية أو الايطالية.. لا فرق؟
قُلْتُ: لا يدافع
وسألني: هل أنا + أنا = اثنين ؟
قلت: أنت وأنت أقلُّ من واحد

Since I am not going to translate this poem (I don't possess the english proficiency or literary prowess to actually do that), Let me just assure you that it's ripping Hamas a new asshole and making fun of its supporters and leaders, calling Mesh3el "the prisoner whose ambition is to inherit the prison", Lamenting the fundies insistence that the Mosque and University are equal in terms of education (the two arabic words describing them come from the same root) and expresses his deep anger at the secular and atheist supporters of Hamas, whom he believes only care about getting their faces on Television. So, yeah, our boy is no fan of hamas, and Hamas knew it, but they also knew how popular he is amongst the palestinian population, so they couldn't really go out and insult him, so they did it underhandedly: Mesh3el came out and said that Darwish's loss is a serious one for the palestinian people, but palestine can give birth to 10 Mahmoud Darwish's . So, really, not a big deal his death. Move along people. Nothing to see here. Don't get on our forums though: we call him an apostate there.

Ahh, I love me an angry fundie, and especially those who anger him in style.

RIP Mahmoud Darwish! 

Shadowgames

On the History of Palestinian collaborators with Zionists:

In his groundbreaking book Army of Shadows, Hillel Cohen,
a research fellow at Hebrew University's Truman Institute for the
Advancement of Peace, exposes this particularly nefarious side of the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Cohen has spent years in numerous Israeli
and British archives gathering information that many would pre­fer
to forget, and in Army of Shadows he sum­mons his findings to
document the actions of a seemingly endless number of Palestinian
mukhtars (village leaders), land merchants, in­­formers,
weapons dealers, journalists, busi­nessmen, farmers and teachers who
collaborated with the Jews between 1917 and 1948. By focusing on them,
Army of Shadows chron­icles a tragic chapter in the people's
history of Palestine, one that many Arab scholars have refrained from
writing because it contradicts the dominant ethos of Palestinian
national unity. Zionists have ab­­stained from recording it as
well because it undermines their claim that the Palestinians were able
to unify and fight against the es­tablishment of a Jewish state
after the UN partition resolution of November 29, 1947. Cohen reveals
that many Palestinians signed pacts with the Zionists during the 1948
war and that some even fought with the Jews against the Arab armies.

Collaboration is a very thorny issue, primarily because of its
corrosive blend of betrayal, exploitation and deceit, so it's not
surprising that Army of Shadows created a stir when the Hebrew
edition was published in 2004. Both liberal Jews and Palestinians found
the book difficult to digest because each group found its side portrayed
in unflattering terms. Many Jewish readers were upset by Cohen's
revelation that the prestate Zionist intelligence agency, Shai, and the
Jewish Agency's Arab bureau exploited almost every honest Jewish and
Palestinian relationship to advance narrow Zionist interests. There
were, Cohen notes, many Jews who desired only friendship or good
business relations with Palestinians but were eventually identified by
the Shai, which used them to collect information and enlist Palestinian
collaborators. The Jewish Agency even helped establish and finance
Neighborly Relations Committees, which initiated mutual visits and
Jewish-Palestinian projects, ranging from pest control to the
sending of joint petitions to the Mandatory government. The rationale
for the creation of these committees was not only to enhance coexistence
but also to recruit informers.

[...]

Army of Shadows also disturbed Palestinian readers because
it reveals for the first time the extent of Palestinian collaboration
with the Jews during the Mandate period and the ensuing 1948 war. Some
Palestinians were opportunists who collaborated with the Zionists to
make money or advance their careers–these were primarily land brokers
and people seeking administrative jobs. Others were mukhtars who
wished to advance their regional or village interests or, in cases of
internal competition, to solidify their leadership with the Zionists.
Still others can be characterized as Palestinian patriots who simply
disagreed with the dominant national leadership. Finally, there were
those who had Jewish friends and did not view Zionist
immigration as a catastrophe. The problem, though, as Cohen
points out, is that regardless of the motivation, collaboration
contributed to the fragmentation of Palestinian society at a time when
its very fate was being determined.

Simultaneously, Cohen underscores the Palestinian leadership's
failure to cultivate a unified national ethos. While disunity among a
people is in no way unique, in this case, as Cohen shows, it was
aggravated in two ways. First, a totally different and competing
national movement was making claims on the same territory, and this
movement knew how to profit from splits within Palestinian society in
order to undermine national aspirations. Indeed, the Zionists exploited
the fissures to recruit and deploy collaborators, and this ultimately
served to deepen internal Palestinian discord and frustrate
Palestinian nation building.

Second, and more disturbing for a Palestinian readership, Cohen
stresses that instead of capitalizing on the fact that Palestinian Arabs
shared a national consciousness and were divided mostly on pragmatic
questions about how to achieve their goals, the dominant Palestinian
group, led by Hajj Amin al-Husseini and loosely organized under the
auspices of the Arab Party (established in 1935), defined all competing
nationalist views and actions as treasonous. Collaborators, accordingly,
were no longer just those who aided the Zionists' military efforts; they
were local and regional leaders, merchants who traded with Jews,
journalists who wrote in favor of the Zionist project and, most
important, land dealers who helped Jewish institutions locate and
purchase Palestinian land. 

H/T: arabist 

The Changing Tide

"It's like someone owns a house, and then his neighbours come with guns and try to take it over."

A Taxi Driver yesterday on the Gaza situation


"It's strange, everybody, besides the Islamists and the leftists, watching it had the same attitude, one of annoyance at the protesters and the Gaza situation. The general attitude was 'Those people received better treatment from the egyptian government then we ever did and they receive more money than us, why protest over their rights? Shouldn't our rights take precedent?' "

A journalist friend of mine covering a Pro-Gaza protest at the Book Fair


"So yeah, we received a high alert warning. The Police said that they are looking for about 30 hamas and islamic Jihad elements that made it through and they are looking for them all over Egypt. Great being me today, huh?"

A manager friend of mine who works at a prestigious 5 star hotel. 


"Raped!"

An egyptian, Christian and very patriotic female friend of mine's response when I asked her how she feels about the Gaza Border situation. 


"You know what's going to suck about all of this? You will turn out to be right about this all along and we will never hear the end of it."

A Pro-Gaza friend of mine, his support wavering of late. 


"We have long sufferd from Having Egypt play ' the Big Sister', and we are against this humiliating role that forces on Egypt obligations and sacrifises without any compensation in return. On the contrary, in the  countries of his alleged brothers, the egyptian received an almost racist treatment apart from all the other nationalities. And we are willing to give up the role of the 'Big Sister'- which has caused us great poverty- to anyone who wants it, and we hold on to one principle only: Egypt is for the Egyptians! "

Ahmed Ragab, Al Akhbar Newspaper, yesterday 

For some Perspective

Shamelessly stolen from here:

In other words, Palestinians are about in the mid-average range for
third-world countries, and rank almost the same as Mexico (the USA's
bordering country and trade ally) on the poverty index. Interesting.

For some perspective

Human Poverty Index (HPI-1) 2004
Palestinians have a better time than:

Syria, Egypt, Pakistan, Yemen, Morocco, Africa and most of South Africa, Central America and Asia

Probability of not surviving past age 40(%)2004
Palestinians have a better time than:

Syria, Egypt, Pakistan, Yemen, Morocco, Africa and most of South Africa, Central America and Asia

Adult illiteracy rate (%ages 15 and older)2004
Palestinians have a better time than:

Syria, Egypt, Pakistan, Yemen, Morocco, Africa and most of South Africa, Central America and Asia

People without access to an improved water source (%) 2004
Palestinians have a better time than:

Syria, Egypt, Pakistan, Yemen, Morocco, Africa and most of South Africa, Central America and Asia

Children underweight for age (% ages 0-5) 2004
Palestinians have a better time than:

Syria, Egypt, Pakistan, Yemen, Morocco, Africa and most of South Africa, Central America and Asia

Zionists! *shakes fist in the air*

Check it out yourself here! 

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