Tuesday, October 30, 2012

5 scary stories to haunt this Halloween

On Halloween, departed souls come back to walk the earth among humans. Some will be out trick or treating. Once a year they get to reconnect with life. While we get to play out a goulish fantasy and allow ourselves to become scared. In that spirit, I have collected five stories that truly frighten me. 

5. Putin's Soviet gulags.
 Imagine being torn away from your child and family and sent thousands of miles away to a prison where there is no hot water or medicine. You are forced to work in the cold for meager rations. You are isolated and spied on every moment of the day and punished for every infraction. This is the life for two young women in a Soviet gulag because they dared to make a non-violent political statement. This is happening in 2012? It's too scary to contemplate.

4. John C. Textor.
An embezzler and private equity investor, who took millions from investors and friends and lost it. He now spends his days defending himself in civil court. He is a brazen defendant even with hundreds of law suits pouring in from hundreds more victims who have lost their jobs, fortunes and properties. Textor has shown no remorse. He doesn't feel he owes an apology. 

Textor says he's owed money from his own scam. He doesn't think he will ever serve a day in jail and could walk away with millions. Or his days are numbered like Tony Montana in this scene from Scarface
Prime Minister Harper makes deal with  the devil

3. Harper's secret resource colony takes effect on Halloween.
Working in secret for years on the innocent sounding Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (FIPAs), Canada's Conservatives will today ratify this so-called bi-lateral trade pact without a single day of debate in Commons. No details are known, except that the government of China will now have free rein to take over Canadian energy companies. Known for human rights abuses (Tibet) and numerous environmental disasters, China will be the single beneficiary of this one-way trade pact. It's scary enough that your own government is lying to you about domestic politics and keeping everything ultra secret until Halloween spells disaster.


Extermination of natives in the Amazon

2. Just like in Avatar.
While the rich get richer, the poor struggle to live another day. The planet is full of homeless, starving and neglected people with no rights. Everyday  native peoples in Matto Groso state in Brazil, the richest state in the country, are being methodically killed. They refuse to move from their sacred  homeland. The Guarni-Kaiowa refuses to surrender and have asked to be buried where they fall defending their homes. It's scary to think that the killers continue their slaughter while the western oil, gas, timber and hydro companies stand by waiting.

1. Mitt Romney could be the next American president. An amoral private equity fund manager with links to a cult-like religion, Romney has promised his neo-conservative backers a war on the poor. If he wins we are one step closer to becoming a Zombie America. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Two Young Mothers sent to Putin's Gulag for two years

Two of the women (left and middle) sentenced to two years.

I have a friend who loves reading Russian novels. I cannot bring myself to do the same, not even on the sunniest day. Life in Russian sucks, then it gets worse.

I cannot imagine how bad it will be for the two young women Vladimir Putin  is sending to a Russian gulag for two years of hard labor. They are both mothers.

What did they do? In an earlier post I wrote that all they did was conduct a peaceful protest at a Russian Orthodox Church. They picked the venue to exhibit how the church is turning a blind eye to Putin's crackdown on human rights in Russia.

Into this environment, three young woman decided to protest when no one else would. Their punk theatre ensemble was little more than a dance with their music and lyrics.

I have read Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and enough John LeCarre, however, to understand what horrors lie ahead of the women.

While one of the three girls was freed last week, she said that her release was part of a clever ploy to cause divisiveness among the three and dissuade other women from protesting.s

The harsh sentencing is but the beginning of two years at a "correctional penal colony", a phrase reminiscent of Stalin's brutal repression of dissidents in which some 12 million Russians disappeared into the gulags over several decades. 

The girls will be removed from Moscow and subjected to round-the-clock mental manipulation. Putin is familiar with the techniques, having carved his career in politics from years as a KGB thug. And now he's running the country -- again.

The Russian Orthodox Church appealed to the young women to recant. The women answered that they had committed no crime other than to protest the regime of Vladimir Putin.

What is more amazing is that Russia still holds a veto at the UN.

5 Reasons Moneyball Still Works in Oakland

In a previous post I wrote about the A's improbable and surprising Major League Baseball Divisional race. 

The A’s compete in a highly unbalanced system. The big clubs with unlimited budgets buy their way to the championships. I wondered if the A’s could compete against teams that had the best talent money could buy. 

While the A’s were no match in their final game against a superior team, it was fun to watch this collective of over-achievers delight their fans to the last out.  

In the final analysis, the A's Moneyball system still works. Here are five reasons why:

5. The A’s 2012 season was a game changer. The club won the most come-from-behind walk-off wins (15), more than any other club in MLB, doing it with cast-off-players, untested rookies, and bargain baseball rejects and rehab projects.

4. Moneyball leveled the playing field when the A's beat the heavily favored and well financed Texas Rangers for the division title, a team that had won the American League title the past two seasons.

3. The A’s matched or exceeded expectations. This is why there is still a MLB team in Oakland for fans to enjoy. Considering the club’s budget limitations, the A’s continue to deliver a competitive team and a good winning percentage in a small market.

2. The A’s very nearly beat the Detroit Tigers who were in the divisional race for the second straight year. The Tigers pay 1.5 million-plus per win, while the A's pay anywhere from $250,000 to $500,000 per win. In Moneyball, the A's win. Eventually Major League Baseball will figure out the math and re-structure the league. 

1. Soccernomics. Moneyball European-style has caught on in the English Premier League. I'm watching Arsenal, a team in which Billy Beane has some interest. Could be interesting. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Obama Knocked Out in the First Round

Obama takes the count in a first round knockout

I am sad. I was robbed of a good fight in the first presidential debate. 

Almost as soon as President Barak Obama stepped into the ring he walked into a flying windmill punch thrown by the challenger, The Mexican Wild Man Mormon Romney. Obama never saw it coming and never got a glove on Romney before he hit the canvas.
It was sickening to watch. Romney reminds me of Mike Tyson, the heavyweight, who took his opponents out in the first few minutes of a fight. Tyson didn't play by the rules and would do anything to win, even chewing an opponent’s ear off. Romney is a mauler and a brawler.

I won't watch a rematch. It will be an ugly fight and Obama has a glass jaw and no heart for the game.

Makes me wonder why.