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“The story of Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Tres was both simple and complicated. Simple in that things never change: people consistently jealous or secretive or brave-hearted. As for the rest, it all came down to a series of misunderstandings, the type that could happen to anyone, really. You assume that the sushi bucket is full of gold coins, but instead it's got Kokingo's head in it. You think you know everything about your faithful follower, but it turns out that he's actually an orphaned fox who can change his shape at will. It was he who spoke my favorite line of the evening, five words that perfectly conveyed just how enchanting and full of surprises this Kabuki play really is: 'That drum is my father.”

― David Sedaris






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Geithner was on all five Sunday news shows.  This is a collection of quotes from those shows.

"I can't tell you what they're likely to do. All I can tell you is what we think make, makes the most sense for the American country, American people. And you know, we spent a lot of time talking to the business community, small business, large business the last few weeks or so, the president has done that. And I think there's a very broad base of support for the type of framework we've laid out."
"If Republicans are not willing to let rates go back up -- and we think they should go back to the Clinton levels, a time when the American economy was doing exceptionally well -- then there will not be an agreement."
"The ball really is with them now. They're in a hard place. And they're having a tough time trying to figure out what they can do, what they can get support from their members for.  That's understandable. This is very difficult for them. And we might need to give them a little more time to figure out where they go next."
"What the president is willing to do is to work with Democrats and Republicans to strengthen Social Security for future generations so Americans can approach retirement with dignity and with the confidence they can retire with a modest guaranteed benefit. But we think you have to do that in a separate process so that our seniors aren't, don't face the concern that we're somehow going to find savings in Social Security benefits to help reduce the other deficits."
"I do think we’re going to get there because, you know, the only thing that stands in the way of an agreement that's good for the American economy is if a group of Republicans decide they're going to block any increase in tax rates on the wealthiest Americans. I think it’s very unlikely they choose to do that, of course, because there's so much at stake."
Tim Geithner's fiscal cliff plan leaves Boehner 'flabbergasted'
Treasury secretary joins House speaker in taking US economic debate to Sunday morning talk shows as sides struggle for agreement

Last week, Obama said he believed the two sides would reach an agreement before Christmas. "We're nowhere," Boehner said Sunday.
[...]
"I think we are going over the cliff. It's pretty clear to me they have made a political calculation," said Graham.

Geithner said he still believed a deal was possible and that the "political theatre" could be a sign of progress. "I actually think that we're gonna get there," he said on ABC's This Week. "I think we're actually making a little bit of progress, but we're still some distance apart."

No 'fiscal cliff' deal without higher rates, Geithner says

Graham has said he'd break Norquist's pledge if Democrats help pass spending reforms on government programs like Social Security and Medicare. But Rep. Keith Ellison, chairman of the House Progressive Caucus, said Obama "has the wind at his back" in the talks.

Decoding the fiscal cliff talk

Doom, cloaked in the sinister garb of economy killing tax hikes and spending cuts, will surely arrive with the New Year and drive the United States back into recession.
Only that is not what is happening. And the true insiders know it.
Both sides privately acknowledge that they are playing familiar roles in a largely choreographed drama whose precise end may not be known, but is likely to include a sizable tax hike on the order of $1 trillion, spending cuts that get somewhere close to that number and a pledge to come back next year and try really, really hard to do fundamental tax and entitlement reform. Administration officials say privately they were not really surprised at the GOP’s frosty reaction to their initial salvo.

UK summons Israeli ambassador over settlement plan
Israeli ambassadors to London and Paris summoned as diplomatic crisis grows over settlement expansion plans

Downing Street played down reports that Britain might withdraw its ambassador from Israel, but refused to completely rule it out as an option.
[...]
The development of E1 has been frozen for years under pressure from the US and EU. Western diplomats regard it as a "game-changer" as its development would close off East Jerusalem – the future capital of Palestine – from the West Bank.

Britain has demanded that Israel rescind the decision. The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, said the settlement expansion plans "would represent an almost fatal blow to the remaining chances of securing a two-state solution".
[...]
Other steps under consideration are sanctions against settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, including tougher measures on the labelling of settlement produce exported to Europe, and the suspension of strategic dialogue meetings.

NY Fed Mortgage Debt Data Says No US Recovery

Let me try to keep this short and still make the point I want to make. Lately, I've seen a huge amount of people talking about an economic recovery, certainly in the US, so much so that people who disagree with that assessment are labeled "doomer" or things like that. Again. It's an easy thing to do.

I'll start with a graph from this New York Fed report. It depicts the - almost - 10-year development of US household debt, which culminates in a total of $11.31 trillion at the end of Q3 2012.

Israel must explain targeting of journalists in Gaza
December 2, 2012

Hon. Benjamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister of Israel
3 Kaplan St.
P.O.B. 187
Kiryat Ben-Gurion
Jerusalem 91919
Israel

Via email: pm_eng@pmo.gov.il

Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu,

The Committee to Protect Journalists is gravely concerned that Israeli airstrikes targeted individual journalists and media facilities in the Gaza Strip between November 18 and 20. Journalists and media outlets are protected under international law in military conflict.

A series of Israeli airstrikes struck two buildings that house news media, resulting in injuries to nine journalists, while separate missile attacks resulted in the deaths of three journalists, according to news reports and CPJ research. Israeli officials have broadly asserted that the individuals and facilities had connections to terrorist activity but have disclosed no substantiation for these very serious allegations. CPJ has repeatedly sought, by email and phone, supporting details or evidence from the Israel Defense Forces spokesperson's office. We have yet to receive information from the spokesperson's office to substantiate its allegations.
[...]

U.S. overseeing mysterious construction project in Israel

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to supervise construction of a five-story underground facility for an Israel Defense Forces complex, oddly named “Site 911,” at an Israeli Air Force base near Tel Aviv.

Expected to take more than two years to build, at a cost of up to $100 million, the facility is to have classrooms on Level 1, an auditorium on Level 3, a laboratory, shock-resistant doors, protection from nonionizing radiation and very tight security. Clearances will be required for all construction workers, guards will be at the fence and barriers will separate it from the rest of the base.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership: What "Free Trade" Actually Means

The Trans-Pacific Partnership advances corporate monopolistic protections through intellectual property rights; undermines labor protections, putting the working class of 11 different nations in direct competition with one another; dismantles environmental protections and financial regulations; and expands corporate rights and privileges to allow undemocratic corporate institutions to challenge national laws through an unaccountable international tribunal of corporate lawyers who are given powers to overturn national laws or demand immense compensation from any nations that hinder those corporations' “potential profits,” thus further increasing the heavy cost of “free trade.”

Fossil Fuel Lobby in the Driver's Seat at Doha

The problem is no country is doing anywhere near enough to keep fossil fuels in the ground, according to the Climate Action Tracker released Friday on the sidelines of the U.N. climate change negotiations here in Doha, Qatar.
In fact, countries are going in the wrong direction, spending 523 billion dollars in 2011 in public tax money to subsidise the burning of fossil fuels, said Michiel Schaeffer, a scientist with Climate Analytics that produces the Climate Action Tracker (CAT) with Dutch energy consulting organisation Ecofys and Germany’s Pik Potsdam Institute.
“The 2011 subsidies for fossil fuels were a 30-percent increase over 2010, according to the IEA (International Energy Agency),” Schaeffer told IPS.

Kevin Gosztola really deserves a Pulitzer for the work he does.
Former guards of WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning deny abuse

But on the fifth day of a pre-trial hearing at Fort Meade military base near the US capital, the prosecution maintained the military acted appropriately, taking evidence by telephone from his former guards.

[...]

“Detainee Manning was instructed to spread his feet” while they shackled his hands, and then “turn around, while we put the belt, and kneel while we put the legs restraints,” Cline said, noting that the soldier had to be “corrected” because he was “moving his hands when we put on his restraints.

Tankersly said that when “we put him in restraints, he did not respond in a correct manner,” noting that he twice told Manning to “stop moving.”

When they took off the restraints, he began moving again.

“He fell down on his butt. We tried to catch him, he went hiding behind a weight machine and he began to cry,” Cline said.

“It happened really fast,” the former guard said, adding that he did not understand why he was subsequently suspended for having “intimidated” Manning.





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