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The REAL Hunger Games

Above, Hunger Games poster for the Roger Corman version

The REAL hunger games have begun in the Capitol: This week the House is voting on $36 billion in cuts to nutrition assistance, or SNAP, which would kick 2 million people off the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly food stamps), reduce benefits for 44 million more, and drop 280,000 low-income kids from school lunch.

Visit Half in Ten to learn more—and how you can stop the Capitol from winning.

An Austerity Backlash: From Sen. Bernie Sanders’s website, May 7, 2012

France handed the presidency on Sunday to François Hollande, who declared that “austerity can no longer be inevitable.”  In Greece, Germany and Italy, parliamentary and local elections Sunday were seen as setbacks for austerity measures. Sen. Bernie Sanders saw a lesson for the United States in the European elections.

“In the United States and around the world, the middle class is in steep decline while the wealthy and large corporations are doing phenomenally well. The message sent by voters in France and other European countries, which I believe will be echoed here in the United States, is that the wealthy and large corporations are going to have to experience some austerity also and that that burden cannot solely fall on working families. 

In the United States, where corporate profits are soaring and the gap between the rich and everybody else is growing wider, we must end corporate tax loopholes and start making the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes. At the same time, we must protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Austerity, yes, but for millionaires and billionaires, not the working families of this country.”


Via Think Progress

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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It’s time to put the boot in: Help Wisconsin ditch Scott Walker

So the recall race is on in Wisconsin, a match-up that once again pits wildly unpopular Republican governor Scott Walker against Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett, the Democrat who Walker beat by 125,000 votes in the 2010 election.

A lot has changed since then.

Like massive protests and an unprecedented grassroots organization to send a certain sleazy GOP shithead back to the rock he crawled out from under. What is currently transpiring in WI is one of the single most important things that has happened in American politics and the labor movement in many years, perhaps for a generation. The forces to oust Walker have much in common with the Occupy movement, but Occupy needs to watch what’s been happening in Wisconsin closely and learn a few lessons. Protest is one thing, but getting out the vote, to my mind, seems far, far more important. The progressives in Wisconsin have got it sussed.

Via Salon/AP:

The recall drive was sparked when Walker and Republicans passed a law that effectively ended collective bargaining rights for most public workers and forced them to pay more for health insurance and pension benefits. Walker contends the moves were necessary to help balance a state budget shortfall of $3.6 billion, while Democrats argue the law’s primary purpose was to eviscerate the unions, which tend to back their party.

It’s hard to find anyone in the state who doesn’t have an opinion on the matter, and that interest was underscored by Tuesday’s 30 percent turnout, which was the highest for a Wisconsin primary since 1952.

Barrett told supporters Tuesday night at a victory party in Milwaukee (attended by leaders of the AFL-CIO, the Service Employees Union and other union members) that:

“We will be united because we understand we cannot fix Wisconsin as long as Scott Walker is the governor of this state.”

He’s right, too. There’s no way that the state legislature is going to be able to get anything done with that goofy-faced clownboy in office. He’s gotta go for the good of the people of Wisconsin and he should have had the decency to fucking resign a long time ago. Walker is just too divisive of a figure. This seems obvious to everyone, but Walker himself doesn’t seem to have picked up on the hint: He can’t lead the state. It’s just not possible anymore.

It’s time to throw this Charlie Brown-looking motherfucker on the scrapheap of history and move on, in the process sending a powerful and LOUD message to the rest of the Reichwing Republicans: It could be your job next, asshole!.

And with ground forces like the recall movement has, why not make an effort to defeat Congressman Paul Ryan in the Fall?

Jon Dzurak, a 55-year-old assistant principal in Milwaukee, said he initially was leaning toward Democrat Kathleen Falk, but decided to vote for Barrett because he was up in the polls and projected to fare better against Walker.

“I just would like to see Scott Walker defeated. I’ve never seen a division in our state like this. I’m not talking to some of my friends right now because of it,” he said.

One woman even tried to run her own husband down with her SUV when he tried to prevent her from voting in the May 8th primary. That’s division!

Although Walker has raised $25 million so far, most of it from out of state, natch, I don’t think it’s going to help him all that much, but at least he’ll be spending that bloated Koch Brothers-funded war chest within Wisconsin, so perhaps the Walker camp can even create a few jobs, for once, before WI voters give him the boot.

Is that a fat lady I hear singing in the near distance?

Ask not for whom the fat lady sings, Scott Walker. She sings for thee!

Roll on June 5th general election!

If you’d like to contribute to ActBlue to get this powerful commercial shown on Wisconsin television stations, you can donate here. Watch it. If you agree with the message and support the cause, kick them a few dollars. Even $3 will help.

I’m With-consin, how about you?

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Credit where credit is due: Jon Stewart admires Mitt Romney’s bold political strategy

Available at Typotees

Too, too good.

In the last few sentences, Stewart connects the dots in a way that even logic-leaping Glenn Beck himself (remember him?) would admire… and perhaps wholeheartedly agree with!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Greek ‘Radical Left’ leader causes worldwide stock market turbulence

No one seems to be able to say with any real certainty whether or not Greece will stay in the EU, try to negotiate an orderly exit from the eurozone or be pushed out of the monetary union. Sunday’s unprecedented election saw the political establishment that has dominated the country for four decades nearly wiped out. No surprise, extreme volatility in the stock markets was one of the knock-on effects. Greek markets dropped 8% today.

37-year-old Greek politician, Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the socialist Coalition for the Radical Left (ΣΥΡΙΖΑ), who has been charged with forming a coalition government, is being blamed for much of today’s market selloff for some of his more incendiary remarks. Mr. Tsipras wasted no time announcing his opinion that the “barbarous” Greek bailout agreement is “null and void” and should be torn up and abandoned for the sake of the Greek working class. Global markets went on a roller coaster ride as Tsipras’s words threatened to cause a domino effect that could force the country to quit the euro. Besides his opposition to the terms of the bailout, Tsipras wants to nationalize the banks, restore all cut salaries and pensions to their former levels and to bring back union bargaining.

Bad idea from the point of view of the markets, true. The Germans will most certainly be pissed, as well. But it’s probably the best outcome for the lives of the citizens of Greece, who are feeling squeezed to pay off what is widely seen to be the mess caused by the elites. If the revolt against the EU-mandated austerity doesn’t come from the left, it will certainly come from the far right.

As Tsipras has repeatedly asked: “The main question is who will pay for the crisis? The rich or the poor?”

Last September in an interview with CNBC anchorwoman Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, Mr. Tsipras said that the austerity measures inflicted upon the Greek population via the “troika” of the IMF, the European Central Bank and the EU were counter-productive and couldn’t be allowed to stand:

“The solution is to be able to get out of the memorandum (the troika plan) and to be able to get rid of the destructive policy that is being implemented right now… I think the medicine they have given us is worse than the disease itself and I think it’s going to kill us.”

In order to receive more than 200 billion euros in long-term, low-interest loans, the troika has demanded that the Greece reduce its spending. The Greek government has responded by laying off thousands of government workers, cutting the salaries of those who are left, and cutting pensions to retirees. They’ve nullified collective bargaining agreements in an effort to get wages lower so that Greeks will be more competitive in the world economy.

Additionally they’ve raised taxes and fees on everything under the Greek sun. The moves have angered Greeks, and they demonstrated this in last weekend elections by punishing the parties that agreed to the troika’s requirements, and giving many more votes to Tsipra’s Coalition for the Radical Left.

Tsipra told CNBC: “I think this will totally destroy the middle class. So I think that what is really needed is a plan which involves growth and I think fiscal consolidation can be achieved through other means. I think the rich should pay and not just the poor and middle class.”

If Greece ditches the harsh bailout terms, the money flow will stop, so the country would probably be forced to “print money” to pay salaries, pensions and the military or else resort to massive layoffs. Bet on the former, not the latter.

Sensibly, Tsipras is calling for something like the New Deal’s WPA or the Marshall plan, governmental efforts, he says, “which would lead to investment opportunities in Greece and this of course would create jobs which are much needed in the country.” Additionally, Tsipras told CNBC last year that he was of the opinion that the financial sector should be placed under government control..

“Do you know what (Warren) Buffett said? He said come on, “let me pay.” Why did he say that? He said that because he could understand the danger, the danger for his class if everything is burned.”

Smart man. He obviously gets what’s at stake. Refreshing in a politician, isn’t it?

Many Greek and European political observers don’t think Mr. Tsipras will be able to form a coalition government in just three days (the time set by Greek law). A new round of elections seems likely in June, but for the next 48-hours, the financial world has its attention directed towards Greece and the rising political star of “Radical Leftist” leader Alexis Tsipras.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Is there a (really obvious) media conspiracy to silence Ron Paul?
11:43 am


Congressman Ron Paul

It’s been fascinating for me to watch the near complete media blackout that Congressman Ron Paul’s campaign’s been getting of late. He’s gotten short shrift this entire primary season, of course, but in recent weeks, it’s becoming more and more egregiously obvious just how far out of their way the media is going to ignore him. You’d be forgiven if you thought that, like Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, Ron Paul had already dropped out of the race. He hasn’t, but even before the other two actually did drop out, in a telling move, CNN had already bumped Congressman Paul from its Election Tracker.

Did you hear that he won both the Maine and Nevada GOP conventions this past weekend? No? Not to worry, no one else did either. Unless you checked reddit politics, or are a Paulbot yourself, it’s unlikely that you heard much of anything about it. CNN didn’t even mention it—not a peep!—until this morning.

All of this reminds me of what happened in 1991 when I was working on Jerry Brown’s presidential campaign in New York. Brown was running an insurrectionary populist campaign to secure the Democratic nomination and had improbably come from behind to kick Bill Clinton’s ass in the previous primary, held in Connecticut. The Brown campaign went from a few people—like ten—to a few hundred to a few thousand people in Manhattan within the space of a single week.

There was the feel of a “movement” happening for Brown’s candidacy in New York, but if you went to the Clinton headquarters, you were greeted by two nicely dressed yuppies, a male and a female who smiled, handed you some campaign literature and hit you up for a donation. Brown’s headquarters, by comparison was BUZZING with activity with hundreds of people coming in and out all day long grabbing stacks of flyers and then coming back when they had exhausted them. People from all walks of life. I recall painter Brice Marden working the phone bank with me and several members of the hospital worker’s union.

Nevertheless, as is happening with Ron Paul today, Jerry Brown was written off as a “fringe” candidate and largely ignored by the local media. It was frankly astonishing what I was seeing printed in the five major daily papers for sale in New York City at that (pre-Internet) time. Rallies where I’d see Broadway and 72nd Street CLOSED from overflow crowds of 10,000 people easily, got reported as a “small crowd” or as a fraction of how many people I’d seen with my own eyes. In the pages of the NY Post, NY Daily News, Newsday, The NY Times and the WSJ 10,000 people at the corner of 72nd and Broadway wouldn’t even merit a mention. Let alone a TV news crew (who were never around) being assigned to cover it. When they would write about Brown, the reports would always contradict not only each other, but what I’d witnessed myself.

Brown was a non-presence at the Democratic convention that nominated Bill Clinton, but don’t expect Ron Paul to go away so quietly. My friend Dr. Timothy Stanley, an Oxford University historian and author of the new book The Crusader: The Life and Tumultuous Times of Pat Buchanan wrote in a CNN opinion piece last week that:

Paul’s campaign represents a message that is bigger and perhaps more popular than the candidate himself. As it continues to collect small numbers of delegates and capture control of local GOPs, Paulism is proving itself to be in rude health. Long after Mitt Romney is nominated, feted at the convention, beaten by Obama and recycled as a question on Jeopardy (“In 2012, he lost every state but Utah.” “Who is ... Britt Gormley?”), Paul’s philosophy will still be a factor in national politics—something to be feared and courted in equal measure.

Team Paul has certainly made some big errors this year, such as exclusively focusing on Iowa and New Hampshire. Although he did well in both, only a first in either would have really justified the expense. Thereafter, the campaign unwisely ignored South Carolina and Florida, reasoning that their expensive media markets weren’t worth the effort. As a consequence, Paul was ignored for weeks until Nevada. I am informed by Paul sources that their campaign was counting on Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum to drop out after they realized they couldn’t win, which would have allowed Ron Paul to emerge as the only conservative challenger to Romney.

All weekend, the right-wing “news” machine harped over and over about how Obama failed to fill an auditorium in Ohio as he kicked off his campaign, but reports say that the President saw 14,000 people turn out in a 17,000 seat auditorium. Apparently Ron Paul has been getting well over 10,000 people showing up at his rallies all year long. Hell, Ron Paul drew 7000 people out to hear him speak in the liberal stronghold of Los Angeles and I live here and I heard nothing about this. And for a little perspective, Romney’s barely been able to draw 1000 people during his campaign stops (usually more like 100 people). Look at where the heat is. It’s not on Romney on a grassroots level. It’s just NOT. The momentum is still with Ron Paul, in many respects.

There’s virtually zero chance, of course, that Ron Paul will grab that golden ring that Mitt Romney has sought for so long, but expect his delegates to be rowdy and disruptive when the cameras are on them at this summer’s GOP convention. On Sunday, Ron Paul told thousands of supporters in his home state of Texas that they “have infiltrated the Republican Party” in the name of liberty. His supporters have a right to be angry, they’ve seen the GOP establishment try to thwart their man at every turn—just last week the RNC’s chief legal counsel, Michael McDonald, said if Ron Paul delegates in Nevada are allowed to take too many slots for the national convention, that the state’s entire contingent may not be seated at the Tampa national Republican convention. From The Hill:

The RNC is concerned that the Paul campaign will game the state-level convention this weekend that selects delegates to the national convention. While Mitt Romney should be awarded 20 of the state’s 28 delegates, based on his dominating win in the state’s primary, it’s possible that Paul supporters could exploit their strength in the Nevada GOP to get named to some of those delegate slots.

The national party is apparently concerned those delegates would then ignore party rules that would bind them to vote for Romney on the first round of balloting.

“If a prospective delegate’s name is certified to the RNC but has not been approved by an authorized representative of the candidate he or she professes to support, grounds for a contest may exist,” Phillippe wrote. “In any case, to the extent a prospective delegate is purportedly elected in excess of the number of slots allocated to his or her preferred candidate, such delegate will be bound to vote at the national convention for the candidate to whom that delegate was allocated.”

The national Republican organization is increasingly anxious over the ability of the Paul campaign to take over state-level organizations, especially in states like Iowa and Nevada that have outsized importance on the nominating process. National Republicans worry that if grassroots party loyalists aren’t supporting the presumptive nominee, the party could struggle against President Obama’s fundraising and organizational efforts. But Paul supporters say they should be credited for their ability to organize and win all-important delegates.

The congressman himself said Monday that his campaign was “doing very, very well” by exploiting some of the party’s more obscure delegate selection rules.

True, Paul’s strategy does seem to be to exploit certain idiosyncrasies in the nominating process for his own purposes, but nevertheless, rules are rules. It will be interesting to see what kind of infighting and dust-ups might occur in Tampa this year and why not? Romney’s going to lose anyway.

See several scenes of Ron Paul speaking in front of vast crowds between February and April, 2012 at Hang the Bankers.

Below, a local Nevada news report discusses some of the shenanigans of this weekend’s conclave:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Why does France’s new Socialist President strike fear into the hearts of the elites?

Hearty congratulations to the entire country of France for having the good sense to elect a Socialist president, François Hollande, and for kicking that pompous dickhead Sarkozy to the curb.

It’s not like the “Socialist” part—or even President-Elect François Hollande himself for that matter—got much play in the initial reports in the American media, although “Farewell Monsieur President!” and “Goodbye Sarkozy!” headlines were in abundance (I’d have gone with something like “France tells ‘President of the rich’ to piss off, elects Socialist”). Hollande will be the country’s first Socialist leader since François Mitterrand (the Republic’s longest-serving president) left office in 1995. It was Hollande’s ex-wife, Socialist politician Ségolène Royal, who was defeated by Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007.

MSNBC, not mentioning Hollande in the headline, and under a picture of a dejected looking Sarkozy, natch, called the President-Elect “unassumming.” When reporters did get around to mentioning Hollande by name, it was normally to mention that he was a “socialist lite” or a “moderate.”

By American political standards? That’s a pretty meaningless and worthless comparison, if you ask me.

To take the President-Elect at his own word, his win represents “a new departure for Europe and hope for the world” because “Europe is watching us, austerity can no longer be the only option.” I personally like the way that sounds, but Lynn Parramore, writing at AlterNet fears that Hollande will end up being a “marshmallow” who talks big and then lets monied interests walk all over him (where have we seen that happen before?). She also describes him as “more like an American centrist Democrat than a Bush-style right-winger,” but I’d take that with a grain of salt (see below).

Nabila Ramdani bucked the trend writing in The Independent, calling Hollande a “fiercely left-wing leader” who would “strike fear into the hearts of France’s rich” and who should not be written-off before he even takes office on May 17th.

The 57-year-old Socialist has openly admitted that he “does not like the rich” and declared that “my real enemy is the world of finance”. This means taxing the wealthy by up to 75 per cent, curtailing the activities of Paris as a centre for financial dealing, and ploughing millions into creating more civil service jobs.

Add an explicit threat to renegotiate the euro pact to replace austerity with “growth-creating” spending, and you have one of the most vehemently left-wing programmes in recent history.

BUT… There’s always a “but” isn’t there? France is broke and mired deeply in debt. Servicing the country’s outstanding debt is the second item of the government’s yearly budget, right below healthcare:

Caution is justified, though one thing Mr Hollande will not repeat is the disastrous tax-and-spend policies introduced by France’s last Socialist President, François Mitterrand, in 1981. He was soon forced into a humiliating U-turn, and into sharing power with the right as the Communists quit his cabinet in protest.

In contrast, Mr Hollande will focus on solving the euro crisis and reversing a Gallic economic decline widely blamed on a failed capitalist system, and particularly a rotten banking sector.

A summary of Holland’s policies and proposals, according to Wikipedia, demonstrates just how very little a President Hollande would have in common with “an American centrist Democrat” (no matter what Sean Hannity might think!)

Foreign policy: supports the withdrawal of French troops present in Afghanistan by the end of 2012.

European politics: aims to conclude a new contract of Franco-German partnership and he advocates the adoption of a Directive on the protection of public services. Proposes closer Franco-German partnership: “an acceleration of the establishment of a Franco-German civic service, the creation of a Franco-German research office, the creation of a Franco-German industrial fund to finance common competitiveness clusters (transport, energy or environment) and the establishment of a common military headquarters.”

Financial system: backs the creation of a European rating agency and the separation of lending and investment in banks.

Energy: endorses reducing the share of nuclear power in electricity generation from 75 to 50% in favor of renewable energy sources.

Taxation: supports the merger of income tax and the General Social Contribution (CSG), the creation of an additional 45% for additional income of 150,000 euros, capping tax loopholes at a maximum of €10,000 per year, and questioning the relief solidarity tax on wealth (ISF, Impôt de Solidarité sur la Fortune) measure that should bring €29 billion in additional revenue.

Education: supports the recruitment of 60,000 new teachers, the creation of a study allowance and means-tested training, setting up a mutually beneficial contract that would allow a generation of experienced employees and craftsmen to be the guardians and teachers of younger newly-hired employees, thereby creating a total of 150,000 subsidized jobs.

Aid to SME’s, with the creation of a public bank investment-oriented SME’s and reducing the corporate tax rate to 30% for medium corporations and 15% for small.

Recruitment of 5,000 judges, police officers and gendarmes.

Construction of 500,000 homes per year, including 150,000 social, funded by a doubling of the ceiling of the A passbook, the State making available its local government land within five years.

Restoration of retirement at age 60 for those who have contributed more than 41 years.

Hollande supported same-sex marriage and adoption for LGBT couples, and has plans to pursue the issue in early 2013.

The provision of development funds for deprived suburbs.

Return to a deficit of 0% of GDP in 2017.

This is “moderate”? Sounds pretty “sane” to moi.

Appropriately, Hollande’s jubilant left-wing supporters took their joyous celebrations to la Place de la Bastille where the Socialist President Elect spoke:

“I don’t know if you can hear me but I have heard you. I have heard your will for change. I have heard your strength, your hope and I want to express to you all of my gratitude. Thank you, thank you, thank you people of France, gathered here, to have allowed me to be your president of the republic.”

“I am the president of the youth of France! I am the president of all the collective pride of France! I am the president of Justice in France!

“Carry this message far! Remember for the rest of your life this great gathering at the Bastille because it must give a taste to other peoples, to the whole of Europe, of the change that is coming. In all the capitals, beyond government leaders and state leaders, there are people who, thanks to us, are hoping, are looking to us and want to put an end to austerity.”

Liberté, égalité, fraternité!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Words of wisdom from an anarchist elder

Labor activist and anarchist Irving Abrams is my hero. I love his words of wisdom in this short clip from the documentary The Free Voice of Labor: The Jewish Anarchists


The Free Voice of Labor: The Jewish Anarchists traces the history of a Yiddish anarchist newspaper (Fraye Arbeter Shtime - The Free Voice of Labor) publishing its final issue after 87 years. Narrated by anarchist historian Paul Avrich, the story is mostly told by the newspaper’s now elderly, but decidedly unbowed staff. It’s the story of one of the largest radical movements among Jewish immigrant workers in the 19th and 20th centuries, the conditions that led them to band together, their fight to build trade unions, their huge differences with the communists, their attitudes towards violence, Yiddish culture, and their loyalty to one another.”

Watch The Free Voice of Labor: The Jewish Anarchists in its entirety after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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Russian protester first to be convicted of ‘gay propaganda’

Nikolai Alekseev, a Russian gay rights activist arrested during a 2010 Moscow protest (picture above) has been convicted of spreading “gay propaganda” by a court in St Petersburg, making him the first to be convicted under the city’s new anti-homosexuality laws. From Pink News:

Mr Alekseev was said to have been fined 5,000 roubles, just over £100, by a court in Russia’s second city for the promotion of homosexuality among minors, AP reports.

The law was approved in February; this is the first time a citizen has been successfully prosecuted under it.

Mr Alekseev had held up a sign reading “Homosexuality is not a perversion” outside the Smolny Institute in April in public view.

A former journalist, Mr Alekseev turned his attention to full-time gay rights campaigning in 2005, setting up the gay rights advocacy group

He has appeared regularly on Russian television and has been honoured for his work by LGBT organisations worldwide.

He has been arrested on numerous occasions for holding illegal Pride marches and gay rights demonstrations and launched lawsuits against Moscow authorities for banning the events and had announced his intention to retire last year.



Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
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Major Republican donor arrested in $100 million veterans charity scam by US Marshals

It was announced in a press conference yesterday that US Marshals have crossed another name off the “America’s Most Wanted” list, a man known variously as “Bobby Thompson,” “Anderson Yazzie” and “Ronnie Brittain,” who is accused of creating a fake veterans charity that funneled money to state and national Republican candidates, including President George Bush, Senator John McCain and House Speaker John Boehner

U.S. Marshals captured “Thompson” late Monday evening in Portland, OR. outside of Biddy McGraw’s Irish Pub with a backpack full of cash and fake IDs. Authorities say that they still don’t know what their captive’s real name is—he signed the booking sheet at the jail with an “X”—and the former fugitive is refusing to talk. Investigators tracked “Thompson” across eight states before he was apprehended. 99% of the $100 million is unaccounted for.


Via Raw Story:

Between the early 2000s and 2010, a man using the alias “Bobby Thompson” collected millions from unsuspecting donors for the charity U.S. Navy Veterans Association (USNVA), which claimed to provide support for members of the U.S. Armed Forces. Officials believe that very little, if any, of the money was ever used as intended, according to the U.S. Marshal Service.

To help legitimize his charity, Thompson allegedly donated part of the ill-gotten funds to Republican candidates like former President George W. Bush, former Republican presidential candidate John McCain and House Speaker John Boehner.

Republican Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli reportedly personally pleaded with Thompson for donations and received $55,000 for his effort, making Thompson Cuccinelli’s second-largest donor. Cuccinelli was eventually forced to turn over the tainted money to veterans support groups.

Over the years, Thompson also attended the 2008 Republican National Convention and numerous fundraisers. The Roanoke Times obtained photos of Thompson posing with Bush, Boehner and McCain — as well as Rep. Adam Putnam (R-FL), former Bush adviser Karl Rove and former Republican New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Thompson fled in 2010 after learning of a criminal investigation in several states. He was later charged with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, identity theft, fraud and money laundering.

“Thompson” is currently being held in the Multnomah County Jail and is expected to be extradited shortly to Cuyahoga County, Ohio, where he was first indicted.

Below, an ABC News story about the scam from last Fall:

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Via Raw Story

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Real Cinema: An introduction to Italian Neo-Realism

This is where Anna Magnani broke away from 2 German soldiers, ran and threw herself down on the streets. The man is explaining the making of a film, rather than some historical event. It comes at the start of a short documentary on Italian Neo-Realism, from 1973.  She even hurt her knee, he adds almost proudly. A woman’s voice joins in, Aldo Fabrizi was there too. It’s almost religious, a celluloid Stations of the Cross, there should be nuns selling small statuettes of movie cameras, and T-shirts with Magnani’s face miraculously transposed onto 100% cotton.

The man and the woman were recalling scenes from Roberto Rosselini’s film Rome, Open City, when it was filmed in their neighborhood. Rossellini along with Vittorio De Sica were pioneers of Neo Realism. Their films brought a dynamism in form, that was countered by the self-reflection of their content that put Italian cinema at the center of the post-war world. Here was launched the careers of Rossellini, Fellini, Pasolini, Bertolucci, Visconti, Zavattini and De Sica, who described the post war years as a beautiful time - “Beautiful for artists, but ugly for Italians.”

Right after the war, passions were so strong right after the War that they really pushed us, they forced towards this kind of film truth. And this truth was transfigured by poetry, and lyricism. It was because of if its lyricism that Neo-Realism so captured the world. Because there was poetry in our reality.

Films like De Sica’s The Bicycle Thief, Rosselini’s Rome, Open City, and Visconti’s Ossessione presented a new and dynamic way of presenting the world, which went on to influence movements such as Nouvelle Vague and directors as different as Martin Scorsese and Derek Jarman. Neo Realist films dealt with difficulties faced everyday by the working class; stories were rooted in the reality of a war ruined Italy; there were no simplistic morality tales, issues were complex, and often open-ended; actors mixed with non-actors; stylistically the films were loose, fluid, often documentary-like. However, their content did not please some Italians, who thought Neo-Realism only highlighted the bad things about Italy, which they feared might make Italians seem to be just thieves and bums.

This was not how the directors like Bernardo Bertolucci saw it:

“Realism doesn’t mean showing real things, but showing how things really are. It was this definition by Brecht that critically challenged Italian Neo-Realism. Not Rossilini though. Rossilini is the only one in Neo-Realism who didn’t just show us things, didn’t just try to be a realist, but gave us an idea of things. He wasn’t interested in the appearance of things, but in the idea behind the things. Even the idea behind the idea.”

For Cesar Zavattini Neo-Realism was:

“The most important characteristic, and the most important innovation, of what is called neorealism, it seems to me, is to have realised that the necessity of the story was only an unconscious way of disguising a human defeat, and that the kind of imagination it involved was simply a technique of superimposing dead formulas over living social facts. Now it has been perceived that reality is hugely rich, that to be able to look directly at it is enough; and that the artist’s task is not to make people moved or indignant at metaphorical situations, but to make them reflect (and, if you like, to be moved and indignant too) on what they and others are doing, on the real things, exactly as they are.”

For Pier Paolo Pasolini Neo-Realism was intensely political:

“It stood for the first act of critical, political consciousness that Italy had experienced. Italy up to that point had no history, no unified history as a nation, only a history as many divided little peoples, divided little countries, and with a great gap between north and south. And then the last 20 years have been a history of Fascism - the history of an aberrational unity. It was only with the Resistance that Italian history began.

“First of all, Neo-Realism meant the rediscovery of Italy. A first look at Italy without rhetoric, without lies, and there was a sense of pleasure in the self-discovery, even pleasure in denouncing one’s own short-comings, this was common to everything.

“The other common quality was its Marxist character. All Neo-Realist works were founded on the idea that the future would be better, or else [there would be] revolution.”

These quotes are taken form the documentary Neo Realism (1973) which can be viewed here, and contains interviews with De Sica, Fellini, Pasolini, and Bertolucci, amongst others.

Trailers for Pasolini’s ‘Accattone’ and Rossellini’s ‘The Bicycle Thief’, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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