The Places We Live

The Places We Live features panoramic photos of slums, narrated by the people who live there (through translators). Really really engrossing. To access the stories in the restricting Flash interface, skip the intro, click on a city, and then on one of the households in the upper left corner.

Berman Exposed

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Who is Richard Berman?

Richard Berman is a Washington, D.C.-based hired gun who uses front groups to defend his corporate clients against the public interest. Using his lobbying and consulting firm, Berman and Company, as a revenue vehicle for his activities, Berman runs at least 15 industry-funded projects, such as the Center for Union Facts, and holds 16 “positions” within these various entities.
Click here to find out more

Women Against Sarah

Two women in New York felt so strongly that Palin was the wrong choice they created a blog called “Women Against Sarah Palin” and are using the site to post emails from women who write in from all over the country about why they think Palin is the wrong choice as for Vice President and the wrong choice for American women.

“We felt as though McCain’s choice was this kind of way to automatically grab female voters and we found that assumption was very insulting to our intelligence as female voters in America,” said Lyra Kilston, a 31 year old art magazine editor in New York who helped create the blog.

A day of reckoning for Americans who lived beyond their means

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The pessimists who have long forecast that the US economy was in for trouble finally seem to be coming into their own. Of course, there is no glee in seeing stock prices tumble as a result of soaring mortgage defaults. But it was largely predictable, as are the likely consequences for both the millions of Americans who will be facing financial distress and the global economy.

The story goes back to the recession of 2001. With the support of former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, US President George W. Bush pushed through a tax cut designed to benefit the richest Americans but not to lift the economy out of the recession that followed the collapse of the Internet bubble.

Given that mistake, the Fed had little choice if it was to fulfill its mandate to maintain growth and employment. It had to lower interest rates, which it did in an unprecedented way — all the way down to 1 percent.

It worked, but in a way fundamentally different from how monetary policy normally works. Usually, low interest rates lead firms to borrow more to invest more, and greater indebtedness is matched by more productive assets.

But given that overinvestment in the 1990s was part of the problem underpinning the recession, lower interest rates did not stimulate much investment. The economy grew, but mainly because American families were persuaded to take on more debt, refinancing their mortgages and spending some of the proceeds. And, as long as housing prices rose as a result of lower interest rates, Americans could ignore their growing indebtedness.

Even this did not stimulate the economy enough. To get more people to borrow more money, credit standards were lowered, fueling growth in so-called “sub?prime” mortgages. Moreover, new products were invented, which lowered upfront payments, making it easier for individuals to take bigger mortgages.

Some mortgages even had negative amortization: payments did not cover the interest due, so every month the debt grew more. Fixed mortgages, with interest rates at 6 percent, were replaced with variable-rate mortgages, whose interest payments were tied to the lower short-term T-bill rates.

What were called “teaser rates” allowed even lower payments for the first few years. They were teasers because they played off the fact that many borrowers were not financially sophisticated and didn’t really understand what they were getting into.

And Greenspan egged them to pile on the risk by encouraging these variable-rate mortgages. On Feb. 23, 2004, he pointed out that “many homeowners might have saved tens of thousands of dollars had they held adjustable-rate mortgages rather than fixed-rate mortgages during the past decade.”


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Why should you join the protests against the American  Psychological Association?

A recently declassified August 2006 Department of Defense report confirms that psychologists were directly responsible for the development and use of techniques defined by the International Red Cross as “tantamount to torture.” These techniques continue to be employed against enemy combatants in Guantanamo and other military and CIA run facilities.

The current APA Ethics Code (Ethical Standards Section 1.02) allows psychologists to violate its principles, including that of  “do no harm,” in order to “follow orders.” Such a loophole in the ethics code permits unethical behavior, including torture, if orders so require. The APA Council of Representatives has requested that our ethics code be changed to ensure that any exceptions to the standard code are “in accordance with basic human rights.” No changes have been made.

The American Medical Association, The World  Medical Association, and the American Psychiatric Association have declared that there is no legitimate role for their members to consult in individual interrogations in unlawful detention sites such as Guantanamo. Yet the American Psychological Association condones the use of its members acting as consultants to coercive interrogations in Guantanamo and other detention centers, despite the fact that these camps hold detainees indefinitely without charges and deny them due process in clear violation of the Geneva Convention. In this way the American Psychological Association gives credibility to unacceptable detention and interrogation practices, and undermines the integrity of American psychologists throughout the world.


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The Political Compass

There’s abundant evidence for the need of it. The old one-dimensional categories of ‘right’ and ‘left’, established for the seating arrangement of the French National Assembly of 1789, are overly simplistic for today’s complex political landscape. For example, who are the ‘conservatives’ in today’s Russia? Are they the unreconstructed Stalinists, or the reformers who have adopted the right-wing views of conservatives like Margaret Thatcher ?

On the standard left-right scale, how do you distinguish leftists like Stalin and Gandhi? It’s not sufficient to say that Stalin was simply more left than Gandhi.

There are fundamental political differences between them that the old categories on their own can’t explain. Similarly, we generally describe social reactionaries as ‘right-wingers’, yet that leaves left-wing reactionaries like Robert Mugabe and Pol Pot off the hook.

That’s about as much as we should tell you for now. After you’ve responded to the following propositions during the next 3-5 minutes, all will be explained. In each instance, you’re asked to choose the response that best describes your feeling: Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Agree or Strongly Agree. At the end of the test, you’ll be given the compass, with your own special position on it.

The test is entirely anonymous. None of your personal details are required, and nothing about your result is recorded or logged in any way. The answers are only used to calculate your reading, and cannot be accessed by anyone, ever.

US Primaries Chart 2007


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I want Change

and other forms of brainwashing

Our dollars have power!

Each time we buy something we are  casting a vote. Gandhi brought down the  British Empire with strategic boycotts  and although our electoral system is faltering we still maintain power through our pocket books.

Let’s get together to Not Buy, to Not Support, to finally stop acting like victims and fight back with the only power we have – MONEY! Out of a vast array of companies that are guilty of the most egregious abuses of the environment, of human rights and of our democracy, plus are major contributors to global poverty, we, at I Want Change, have narrowed our field of companies to boycott to only four. ExxonMobil,Wal-Mart,Coca-Cola and McDonalds.


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“I sat in a taped up chair in the middle of the cobblestoned rocky street next to the pee wee soccer game in front of the fashionista art tourists of Dumbo and closed my eyes before he even took the tape to me because I was so excited for it. Covered in a makeshift sheet he commented that i would get the pretty pinkish orange tape and he went over my shoulders and legs and strapped me up and it was funny that the tape didn’t stick to my mouth because everyone would have to see how happy I was to get tied up in public and sonically hacked at as he cut inches off my hair. Like roller coasters that get nowhere I was fucking thrilled, and he cut me loose after the performance each strap of tape released and took the tape off of my eyes and I was smiling that stupid smile of mine where you see all of the gums in my mouth in the mirror at myself and he had made me pretty. I wonder if he thought I was pretty. Submissive girls are always pretty.”


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