Oh good

These guys are good, and hopefully will spot any right-wing nonsense. However, states get to decide whether to let them observe, so they may not get permission where they’re needed most — like Ohio:

United Nations-affiliated election monitors from Europe and central Asia will be at polling places around the U.S. looking for voter suppression activities by conservative groups, a concern raised by civil rights groups during a meeting this week. The intervention has drawn criticism from a prominent conservative-leaning group combating election fraud.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a United Nations partner on democratization and human rights projects, will deploy 44 observers from its human rights office around the country on Election Day to monitor an array of activities, including potential disputes at polling places. It’s part of a broader observation mission that will send out an additional 80 to 90 members of parliament from nearly 30 countries.

Liberal-leaning civil rights groups met with representatives from the OSCE this week to raise their fears about what they say are systematic efforts to suppress minority voters likely to vote for President Obama.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the NAACP and the ACLU, among other groups, warned this month in a letter to Daan Everts, a senior official with OSCE, of “a coordinated political effort to disenfranchise millions of Americans — particularly traditionally disenfranchised groups like minorities.”

The request for foreign monitoring of election sites drew a strong rebuke from Catherine Engelbrecht, founder and president of True the Vote, a conservative-leaning group seeking to crack down on election fraud.

You remember Catherine. One of her hand-picked candidates was registered and voting in Texas AND Pennsylvania!

This week for Libra


The ideal job is to have no job at all. That doesn’t mean sitting around all day smoking pot or eating sugar. It means having something to do that fills you with pleasure and dedication just to be privileged enough to be doing it, knowing that people benefit and enjoy the fruits of your labors. It’s the service aspect of what you are doing that can be so rewarding. You may not be raking in the big money right away as you’d like, but there is a fortune to be made in the blend of skill, talent and business acumen. Don’t rush it, though and don’t give up before you start.

Sheila Bair’s book

Boy, she’s really letting the Wall Street boys’ club aand the Obama administration have it:

Bair joined Neil Barofsky, the former inspector general of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, in portraying Geithner as being more concerned about the welfare of the biggest banks than that of homeowners. Geithner told him that the administration’s Home Affordable Modification Program was meant to “foam the runway” for lenders, or stretch out foreclosures so that the firms wouldn’t be overwhelmed, Barofsky wrote in his book.

“HAMP was a program designed to look good in a press release, not to fix the housing market,” Bair wrote. Geithner “didn’t seem to care about the political beating the president took on the hundreds of billions of dollars thrown at the big- bank bailouts and AIG (AIG) bonuses, but when it came to homeowners, it was a very different story.”

The government’s main program to prevent foreclosures was overly complicated and doomed to fail because it required too much paperwork and lacked oversight and enough financial incentives, Bair wrote. Geithner dismissed Bair’s housing relief plan and was determined to exclude her from helping administer assistance programs, she wrote.

Bair cringed at Obama’s “wildly inflated” goal of helping 3 million to 4 million borrowers through HAMP, she wrote. The program has resulted in 825,478 permanent modifications since 2009. Large banks were to blame for the results because they had half the response rate of smaller firms, according to a paper released last month by researchers from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

40 percent

I think it would be nice if both candidates for president acknowledged and addressed this serious economic situation with concrete plans instead of talking about the much-loved middle class, but they won’t. Unfortunately, the reluctance to do so may result in Obama losing:

According to a recent survey by the financial website CreditDonkey, more than 40 percent of Americans say that have less than $500 in savings. 54 percent of respondents said they have no savings plan in place. Other recent surveys have found similar numbers: the Consumer Federation of America and the Consumer Planner Board of Standards found that nearly 40 percent of American households live paycheck to paycheck.


My niece was showing this to everyone yesterday, and my brother (who is truly one of the most tasteless joke-tellers out there) thought it was tasteless. All I know is, it made me laugh out loud:


Ordinarily, I don’t pay much attention to stories like this, but it seems like it will continue to be a problem because I still haven’t heard a coherent AND complete narrative from the administration. Maybe we’ll hear one tonight.

The silly dilemma of Sunday night TV

Let me start off by saying yes, first world problem. Agreed.

But I love TV. I keep it on in the background while I work, and it’s a pleasant diversion from the stress of my daily routine. But now it’s just adding to the stress, because so many of the shows I watch are now on the same night: Once Upon A Time, The Good Wife, The Walking Dead, Homeland, Dexter, Treme, Boardwalk Empire, and Call The Midwife. Are these network programming heads sadists?

And no, I do not have a DVR. And yes, I know this is not a serious problem. It’s just annoying.

Gaza aid ship seized

In the latest horrors:

New York, October 21, 3pm EDT – More than 24 hours after their illegal detention in international waters at 10 AM local time Saturday, Israeli authorities are still holding 21 passengers who were on board the Estelle which was sailing to Gaza when intercepted by Israeli forces, of whom three are Israeli and eighteen are internationals. There were originally 30 on board the boat from eight countries: Israel, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Greece, and Spain. Six have been deported and at this writing three are in the process of being deported.

Passengers on the Estelle, including  Israeli combat veteran Yonatan Shapira, have reported that the passengers were tasered when Israeli forces commandeered the ship.

Israeli officials have claimed that there were no humanitarian goods onboard. In fact, the items in the cargo room of Estelle were: 2 olive trees; 41 tons of cement; wheelchairs; walkers; crutches; midwifery stethoscope; children’s books; toys; 300 footballs; musical instruments; theatrical equipment;  VHF radio (for a ship); 1 anchor (the last two items were for the Gaza’s Ark project.) The ship was inspected at many ports. A video of the cement being loaded onto the ship is here.

“We call on the U.S. to use its influence with the Israeli government to ensure the Estelle passengers and crew are treated with dignity, that their rights as non-violent protesters are respected and that they all be released immediately,” said Jane Hirschmann, organizer of the U.S. Boat to Gaza.

Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University, said today: “It’s striking that while the Swedish Foreign Affairs Ministry has the moral clarity to say that it agrees with the Ship to Gaza that the border crossings must be opened and that the ship should have been allowed through, the U.S. State Department is silent about this gross violation of human rights and international humanitarian law.”

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