All the news and views fit to consume during your morning grumpy.
1. Ian Murphy of The Buffalo Beast has issued his annual list of The 50 Most Loathsome People in America. This eagerly anticipated feature is always one of the highlights of the winter season for me.
20) Steve Jobs
Crimes: Got rich lifting other people’s ideas; got richer by melding marketing with spirituality to sell environment-destroying status symbols made by Chinese children to oblivious, cultish prigs. He was a paranoid tyrant who abused his employees, exacted totalitarian control over iPhone apps under the puritanical guise of protecting kids from teh pr0n, and he even ruled over a private Apple security force — which has actually raided people’s houses. Jobs’s greatest offense was his hippie idiocy. He put off surgery for nearly a year, treating his cancer with fruit juice and acupuncture. And when he finally came to his senses, he used a pittance of his horded fortune — used only on black turtlenecks and dad jeans — to buy a house in Tennessee, skipping to the front of the liver donation line. And, yet, I totally want an iPad.
Smoking Gun: Siri’s a sexist asshole.
Sentence: “I don’t understand ‘sentence’. Would you like me to look that up for YOU?!”
Everyone loves lists, especially nasty ones.
2. Since it is Groundhog Day, here are all of the Ned Ryerson scenes from the classic movie…
3. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced yesterday that the U.S. and NATO plan to end the Afghanistan combat mission by the end of 2013.
“Our goal is to complete all of that transition in 2013 and then, hopefully, by mid- to the latter part of 2013, we’ll be able to make a transition from a combat role to a training, advise and assist role,” he told reporters traveling with him to Brussels, according to a transcript released by the Pentagon. The result will be that “2014 then becomes a year of consolidating the transition and making sure that those gains are in fact held, so that we can move towards a more enduring presence beyond 2014.”
That enduring presence will include “a large civilian presence” involved with development.
Not soon enough for many of us who want the “mission”, whatever it is, to end now. The most dangerous part of Panetta’s statement is the promise of an “enduring presence”, which should read as “our corporations mining Afghanistan for its precious metals. You see, as it turns out, there are roughly $1 trillion in reserves of precious metals in country, including “huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium.”
An internal Pentagon memo, for example, states that Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and (mobile devices).
While it could take many years to develop a mining industry, the potential is so great that officials and executives in the industry believe it could attract heavy investment even before mines are profitable, providing the possibility of jobs that could distract from generations of war.
So, our promise to commit to an enduring presence must be good news for somebody, eh?
4. President Obama unveiled his plan to help homeowners who are desperately underwater with their mortgages.
The $5 billion to $10 billion program, that would be funded by a tax on the nation’s largest banks, would allow homeowners to refinance at record low borrowing costs through government-backed loans. A senior administration official said it could reach 3.5 million Americans whose loans are not government-guaranteed. An additional 11 million homeowners whose loans are backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could also be eligible, the official said.
Obama’s plan would allow borrowers to refinance even if they owe far more than their homes are worth. Many homeowners have not been able take advantage of current record-low mortgage rates because the value of their homes has fallen and lending standards have tightened.
The White House said the program could save borrowers an average of $3,000 a year. It would be open to homeowners who have been current on their payments for the last six months and who have not missed more than one payment in the prior six months.
Since the plan will be paid for by a tax on large banks (currently reporting large profits), Republicans oppose the idea.
5. When you’re watching America’s biggest game this Sunday featuring one of its most successful corporations, remember that the entire thing is socialist, unionized, and taxpayer subsidized.
The players are unionized, the teams share revenues, and play in stadiums that we pay for. Yup, America’s greatest sports export is The National Socialism League.
Fact Of The Day: According to a story in the Chicago Tribune, outgoing 160-character text messages on a cell phone typically costs users 20 cents, while it only costs carriers three-tenths of a cent to process. That’s a 6,000 percent profit.
Quote Of The Day: “The laboring classes constitute the main part of our population. They should be protected in their efforts peaceably to assert their rights when endangered by aggregated capital, and all statutes on this subject should recognize the care of the State for honest toil, and be framed with a view of improving the condition of the workingman.” – Grover Cleveland
Song Of The Day: “Livin’ For You” – Al Green killing it with a broken arm on Soul Train. R.I.P. Don Cornelius.
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