Michigan’s Hostile Takeover

(Mother Jones) —By Paul Abowd | Wed Feb. 15, 2012 3:00 AM PST

"We haven’t seen anything this severe anywhere else in the country," says Charles Monaco, a spokesman for the Progressive States Network, a New York-based advocacy group. "There’s been nothing in other states where a budget measure overturns the democratic vote." Williams says emergency managers are able to enact draconian policies that would cost most city officials their jobs: "They couldn’t get elected if they tried.”


With an indefinite term and a city salary of $150,000, Schimmel doesn’t answer to anyone but the governor, at whose pleasure he serves. The city council can no longer make decisions but still calls meetings, which are routinely packed with angry residents. Asked by radio station WJR if the emergency-manager law hands power over to a “dictator,” Schimmel sighed, “I guess I’m the tyrant in Pontiac, then, if that’s the way it is.”

Pontiac is not Schimmel’s first clean-up job. In 2000, he was named the emergency manager of Hamtramck, where he served for six years. In 1986, a judge appointed him to oversee Ecorse’s finances after the city landed in state receivership; he stepped in and privatized city services. Today, the city is back in debt, and back under state management. Schimmel concedes that the privatization strategy can backfire, but he blames inept local government. “If you don’t have an overseer of the contractor, privatization can be much more expensive than in-house services,” he explains.

latimes:

North Korean officials have announced the death of leader Kim Jong Il, according to Associated Press. More soon.

Hitch took the bastard with him.

(via letterstomycountry)

Chinese Prisoners Forced into MMO Gold Farming

It’s been revealed that many Chinese prisoners are being forced into online “hard labor” in titles such as World of Warcraft, because it’s more profitable than manual labor.

A report in UK newspaper The Guardian tells the story of Liu Dali (not his real name) — a 54-year old former prison guard who was jailed for three years in 2004 for “illegally petitioning” the central government about local corruption. Liu discovered during his time behind bars at the Jixi re-education-through-labor camp in Heilongjiang province that prisoners were not only being forced to do manual labor by day, but were also made to play online games and farm gold in MMOs such as World of Warcraft by night.

Pyongyang Monument to the Party Founding

shamelessly lifted from absurdlakefront.

“Meanwhile, Mr. Assange awaits a mid-July extradition hearing that will help decide whether he faces sexual assault charges in Sweden. Out of picture are his bright blue socks with a yellow crown design. “Crowns of Sweden,” he explained. “I walk on them every day.””

The most recent liberty-abridging, Terrorism-justified controversies have focused on diluting the legal rights of American citizens (in part because the rights of non-citizens are largely gone already and there are none left to attack).  A bipartisan group from Congress sponsors legislation to strip Americans of their citizenship based on Terrorism accusations.  Barack Obama claims the right to assassinate Americans far from any battlefield and with no due process of any kind.  The Obama administration begins covertly abandoning long-standing Mirandaprotections for American suspects by vastly expanding what had long been a very narrow “public safety” exception, and now Eric Holderexplicitly advocates legislation to codify that erosion.  John McCain and Joe Lieberman introduce legislation to bar all Terrorism suspects, including Americans arrested on U.S. soil, from being tried in civilian courts, and former Bush officials Bill Burck and Dana Perino — while noting (correctly) that Holder’s Miranda proposal constitutes a concession to the right-wing claim that Miranda is too restrictive —today demand that U.S. citizens accused of Terrorism and arrested on U.S. soil be treated as enemy combatants and thus denied even the most basic legal protections (including the right to be charged and have access to a lawyer).

It is not hyperbole to observe that all of the above-cited recent examples are designed to formally exempt a certain class of American citizens — those accused of being Terrorists and arrested on U.S. soil — from the most basic legal protections.  They’re all intended, in the name of Scary Terrorists, to rewrite the core rules of our justice system in order to increase the already-vast detention powers of the U.S. Government and further minimize the remaining safeguards against abuse.  The most disgraceful episodes in American history have been about exempting classes of Americans from core rights, and that is exactly what these recent, Terrorism-justified proposals do as well.  Anyone who believes that these sorts of abusive powers will be exercised only in narrow and magnanimous ways should just read a little bit of history, or just look at what has happened with the always-expanding police powers vested in the name of the never-ending War on Drugs, the precursor to the never-ending War on Terrorism in so many ways.

It really is the case that every new Terrorist incident reflexively produces a single-minded focus on one question:   which rights should we take away now/which new powers should we give the Government?

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”
— C. S. Lewis, 1953 (via unburyingthelead)

(via melodia)

visiting the Schönbrunn palace, near Vienna, was one of the most unreal experiences of my life.

it’s scale, magnificence and grandeur are without comparison.