Alexandra Leaving, Alexandria Lost

Suddenly the night has grown colder.
The God of love preparing to depart.
Alexandra hoisted on his shoulder,
They slip between the sentries of the heart.

… … …

Even though she sleeps upon your satin;
Even though she wakes you with a kiss.
Do not say the moment was imagined;
Do not stoop to strategies like this.

As someone long prepared for the occasion;
In full command of every plan you wrecked
Do not choose a coward’s explanation
That hides behind the cause and the effect.

And you who were bewildered by a meaning;
Whose code was broken, crucifix uncrossed
Say goodbye to alexandra leaving.
Then say goodbye to alexandra lost.

Say goodbye to alexandra leaving.
Then say goodbye to alexandra lost.

Today Financial Times publishes an article by Philippe Sands, “Leonard Cohen and Sharon Robinson: a special relationship”, that describes and explores the nature of the friendship between the poet/musician Leonard Cohen and the songwriter/vocalist Sharon Robinson. In it the process of creation of the song “Alexandra Leaving” is described. This song is based on a poem by Constantine Cavafy titled “The God Abandons Anthony”. Some excerpts:

“As we explore the lyrics of “Alexandra Leaving”, I ask whether she might sing the song. “Right here, in the bookshop?” Yes.”

“Downstairs, in the shop’s poetry corner, I come across a copy of C P Cavafy’s Collected Poems, translated by Daniel Mendelsohn, whose commentary on “The God Abandons Antony” explains that the title is taken from Plutarch’s Life of Antony. The poem describes the last night on earth of Mark AntonyCleopatra’s lover, as his troops desert him. As Mendelsohn notes, “All Alexandria knew that Antony’s cause was totally lost.” Subsequently defeated, and believing Cleopatra to be dead, Antony takes his own life. Plutarch’s account emphasises the importance of the act of hearing, a “vehicle for apprehending the true significance of what is taking place”. ”

“The connections between the song and the original poem are close. A beloved city (Alexandria, in Egypt) becomes a beloved woman (Alexandra), offering what Cohen has described as “a certain take on loss”. ”

Also today Monty Pelerin’s World publishes “Tyranny Rules”, where the unrelentless process by which the American Republic slides into tyranny is explained. Some Excerpts:

“The Founding Fathers knew the dangers of power and were especially concerned about preventing abuses. They established boundaries beyond which government and its agents were not to exceed. These constraints were codified by laws, a government made up of three equal branches and strong independent states. The Constitution provided the initial laws and defined allocation of power and responsibility among the branches of government and the federal and state governments.”

“Over the course of more than two centuries, these constraints have been under assault by those desiring more power. Time and opportunists have seriously eroded the original intentions and boundaries. “

“Historians in the future will use the concept of freedom to explain America’s decline. Just as increasing freedoms brought success, the diminution of this freedom (tyranny) will eventually be used to explain the downfall. The fall of freedom is the same as the rise of tyranny.”

“America is now run by political sociopaths, unrestricted by laws, ethics or tradition. That characterizes both political parties. It does not matter whether we elect a “good man” next. No country survives dependent on the masses electing the right man.”

“Countries survive with systems that protect them against the wrong man. We have lost that protection.”

Aware of this process it is difficult to avoid the feeling that what Cavafy’s poem and Cohen’s song both convey, of something valuable irretrievably lost, can also be applied to us, that our Alexandria, in western societies, is also lost, and that some of us, too, experience “a certain take on loss”.

TYReads “the capitalist network that runs the world”

The 1318 transnational corporations that form the core of the economy. Superconnected companies are red, very connected companies are yellow. The size of the dot represents revenue <i>(Image: </i>PLoS One<i>)</i>

Revealed – the capitalist network that runs the world @ New Scientist

An analysis of the relationships between 43,000 transnational corporations has identified a relatively small group of companies, mainly banks, with disproportionate power over the global economy.”

“The idea that a few bankers control a large chunk of the global economy might not seem like news to New York’s Occupy Wall Street movement and protesters elsewhere. But the study, by a trio of complex systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, is the first to go beyond ideology to empirically identify such a network of power. It combines the mathematics long used to model natural systems with comprehensive corporate data to map ownership among the world’s transnational corporations (TNCs).”

“From Orbis 2007, a database listing 37 million companies and investors worldwide, they pulled out all 43,060 TNCs and the share ownerships linking them. Then they constructed a model of which companies controlled others through shareholding networks, coupled with each company’s operating revenues, to map the structure of economic power.”

“The work, to be published in PLoS One, revealed a core of 1318 companies with interlocking ownerships (see image). Each of the 1318 had ties to two or more other companies, and on average they were connected to 20. What’s more, although they represented 20 per cent of global operating revenues, the 1318 appeared to collectively own through their shares the majority of the world’s large blue chip and manufacturing firms – the “real” economy – representing a further 60 per cent of global revenues.”

“When the team further untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a “super-entity” of 147 even more tightly knit companies – all of their ownership was held by other members of the super-entity – that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network. “In effect, less than 1 per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network,” says Glattfelder. Most were financial institutions. The top 20 included Barclays Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and The Goldman Sachs Group.”

The top 50 of the 147 superconnected companies

1. Barclays plc
2. Capital Group Companies Inc
3. FMR Corporation
4. AXA
5. State Street Corporation
6. JP Morgan Chase & Co
7. Legal & General Group plc
8. Vanguard Group Inc
9. UBS AG
10. Merrill Lynch & Co Inc
11. Wellington Management Co LLP
12. Deutsche Bank AG
13. Franklin Resources Inc
14. Credit Suisse Group
15. Walton Enterprises LLC
16. Bank of New York Mellon Corp
17. Natixis
18. Goldman Sachs Group Inc
19. T Rowe Price Group Inc
20. Legg Mason Inc
21. Morgan Stanley
22. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc
23. Northern Trust Corporation
24. Société Générale
25. Bank of America Corporation
26. Lloyds TSB Group plc
27. Invesco plc
28. Allianz SE 29. TIAA
30. Old Mutual Public Limited Company
31. Aviva plc
32. Schroders plc
33. Dodge & Cox
34. Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc*
35. Sun Life Financial Inc
36. Standard Life plc
37. CNCE
38. Nomura Holdings Inc
39. The Depository Trust Company
40. Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance
41. ING Groep NV
42. Brandes Investment Partners LP
43. Unicredito Italiano SPA
44. Deposit Insurance Corporation of Japan
45. Vereniging Aegon
46. BNP Paribas
47. Affiliated Managers Group Inc
48. Resona Holdings Inc
49. Capital Group International Inc
50. China Petrochemical Group Company

* Lehman still existed in the 2007 dataset used

TYR reads ” 5 Reasons…Mainstream Media…Pro-War”

5 Reasons that Both Mainstream Media – and Gatekeeper “Alternative” Websites – Are Pro-War @ Washington’s Blog  asks why there is so much Pro-War reporting, not only by mainstream media, but also by big “alternative” (blog) websites. Like all Washingtonsblog articles, this one is well researched, but perhaps an image, a chart, will go a long way in order to explain why free journalism barely exists anymore in the USA, although self-censorship also plays a big role in allowing this situation to persist. As Mark Twain once said, “We write frankly and freely but then we ‘modify’ before we print.” Why do we modify the free and frank expression of journalistic truth? We do it out of fear”.

TYR reads “A Mother, a Feminist, Aghast”

Judith Grossman: A Mother, a Feminist, Aghast @ The Wall Street Journal A feminist mother awakens to the consequences of our feminist era…only when it is her own son who is being denied the rights that the American Constitution was suppossed to protect for all americans regardless of gender. Probably too late to undo the damage caused by decades of feminist ideology.

Some excerpts:

“I am a feminist. I have marched at the barricades, subscribed to Ms. magazine, and knocked on many a door in support of progressive candidates committed to women’s rights. Until a month ago, I would have expressed unqualified support for Title IX and for the Violence Against Women Act.”

“It that was before my son, a senior at a small liberal-arts college in New England, was charged—by an ex-girlfriend—with alleged acts of “nonconsensual sex” that supposedly occurred during the course of their relationship a few years earlier.”

“What followed was a nightmare—a fall through Alice’s looking-glass into a world that I could not possibly have believed existed, least of all behind the ivy-covered walls thought to protect an ostensible dedication to enlightenment and intellectual betterment.”

“recent directive from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, has obliterated the presumption of innocence that is so foundational to our traditions of justice.”

“The frightening answer is that like the proverbial 800-pound gorilla, the tribunal does pretty much whatever it wants, showing scant regard for fundamental fairness, due process of law, and the well-established rules and procedures that have evolved under the Constitution for citizens’ protection. Who knew that American college students are required to surrender the Bill of Rights at the campus gates?”

“Across the country and with increasing frequency, innocent victims of impossible-to-substantiate charges are afforded scant rights to fundamental fairness and find themselves entrapped in a widening web of this latest surge in political correctness.”

“I fear that in the current climate the goal of “women’s rights,” with the compliance of politically motivated government policy and the tacit complicity of college administrators, runs the risk of grounding our most cherished institutions in a veritable snake pit of injustice”

TYR 10 January 2013 reads

Is American Justice Dead? @ Casey Research American justice on a slippery slope.

“Few recent cases make the contention clearer than the announcement last week by the US Justice Department that it had settled its case against HSBC for acting as the bag men for Colombian and Mexican drug cartels. The fine, $1.9 billion, amounts to about five weeks of revenue for the bank.”

“The basic setup is that for years, at the highest levels of HSBC, the bank worked hand in glove with the drug cartels to launder their money. So smooth was their relationship that the drug gangs used special cardboard boxes for them to fill with cash – boxes that were designed to fit easily through the teller windows of the HSBC branches in Mexico”

“the US has the highest prison population in the world, and by a wide margin: on a per-capita basis, it is 33% higher than the closest contender, Russia.”

“If you take into account everyone under “correctional supervision,” 3.1% of the US population is either in jail or on probation (for blacks, it’s a stunning 9.2%).”

“Yet, the money men for the murderous cartels that supply the stuff – the sort of fat-cat villains that serve as the centerpiece of every James Bond movie – get off with a hand slap.”

“How is this possible?”

“just like the much-maligned “banana republic,” the judicial system in the Anglo-Saxon world has been bifurcated into two systems – one for the politically favored and the other for the rest of us”

“Another recent case is that of the LIBOR fixing scandal.

“As you know, in this case a group of banks clearly conspired to rig the rates on the interest-rate index used to underpin over $300 trillion in loans. As the scandal was revealed, it was also revealed that top tax dodger and now US Treasury Secretary Tim “Timmy” Geithner was aware of the rigging as far back as at least 2007 when operating the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.”

“Yet Geithner’s elevated position in the Obama administration meant that this inconvenient revelation quietly faded into nothingness. As did the clear implication that if Geithner knew about it, so did untold scores of others at the Fed and other institutions at the time.”

“There is little question that the vast majority of the public is ignorant or apathetic, or both, to the pervasive corruption of the political classes and their financiers.”

America Meet Your New Slumlord: Wall Street @ A Lighting War for Liberty “because financiers are now the main players in the real estate market and are buying all the homes ordinary citizens were kicked out of over the past few years.  Yep, we bailed out the financial system so that financiers with access to cheap credit can buy up all of America’s real estate so that they can then rent it back to you later.”

Ron Paul bids farewell to the USA Congress & America loses a true hero

Perhaps the most outstanding USA political figure of the last  2 generations, certainly the most underappreciated & misunderstood, two days ago Ron Paul bid his farewell speech to the USA Congress after 23 years of service.

Notice the reluctant applause at the end of the speech, a reliable sign that some truths were uttered. Best of lucks Ron Paul.

Some excerpts:

“This may well be the last time I speak on the House Floor.  At the end of the year I’ll leave Congress after 23 years in office over a 36 year period.  My goals in 1976 were the same as they are today:  promote peace and prosperity by a strict adherence to the principles of individual liberty.”

“A grand, but never mentioned, bipartisan agreement allows for the well-kept secret that keeps the spending going.  One side doesn’t give up one penny on military spending, the other side doesn’t give up one penny on welfare spending, while both sides support the bailouts and subsidies for the banking and  corporate elite.”

“The major stumbling block to real change in Washington is the total resistance to admitting that the country is broke.”

“If authoritarianism leads to poverty and war and less freedom for all individuals and is controlled by rich special interests, the people should be begging for liberty.”

“During my time in Congress the appetite for liberty has been quite weak; the understanding of its significance negligible.”

“Freedom, private property, and enforceable voluntary contracts, generate wealth.  In our early history we were very much aware of this.  But in the early part of the 20th century our politicians promoted the notion that the tax and monetary systems had to change if we were to involve ourselves in excessive domestic and military spending. That is why Congress gave us the Federal Reserve and the income tax.”

“Most of our wealth today depends on debt.”

“Without an intellectual awakening, the turning point will be driven by economic law.  A dollar crisis will bring the current out-of-control system to its knees.”

“If the underlying cause of the crisis is not understood we cannot solve our problems. The issues of warfare, welfare, deficits, inflationism, corporatism, bailouts and authoritarianism cannot be ignored.  By only expanding these policies we cannot expect good results.”

“Economic ignorance is commonplace.  Keynesianism continues to thrive, although today it is facing healthy and enthusiastic rebuttals.  Believers in military Keynesianism and domestic Keynesianism continue to desperately promote their failed policies, as the economy languishes in a deep slumber.”

“The immoral use of force is the source of man’s political problems.  Sadly, many religious groups, secular organizations, and psychopathic authoritarians endorse government initiated force to change the world.”

“Restraining aggressive behavior is one thing, but legalizing a government monopoly for initiating aggression can only lead to exhausting liberty associated with chaos, anger and the breakdown of civil society.  Permitting such authority and expecting saintly behavior from the bureaucrats and the politicians is a pipe dream.  We now have a standing army of armed bureaucrats in the TSA, CIA, FBI, Fish and Wildlife, FEMA, IRS, Corp of Engineers, etc. numbering over 100,000.  Citizens are guilty until proven innocent in the unconstitutional administrative courts.”

“Government in a free society should have no authority to meddle in social activities or the economic transactions of individuals. Nor should government meddle in the affairs of other nations. All things peaceful, even when controversial, should be permitted.”

“American now suffers from a culture of violence.  It’s easy to reject the initiation of violence against one’s neighbor…”

“Because it’s the government that initiates force, most people accept it as being legitimate.”

“This attitude has given us a policy of initiating war to “do good,” as well. It is claimed that war, to prevent war for noble purposes, is justified.  This is similar to what we were once told that:  “destroying a village to save a village” was justified.  It was said by a US Secretary of State that the loss of 500,000 Iraqis, mostly children, in the 1990s, as a result of American bombs and sanctions, was “worth it” to achieve the “good” we brought to the Iraqi people.  And look at the mess that Iraq is in today.”

“When government officials wield power over others to bail out the special interests, even with disastrous results to the average citizen, they feel no guilt for the harm they do. Those who take us into undeclared wars with many casualties resulting, never lose sleep over the death and destruction their bad decisions caused.”

“When the street criminals do the same thing, they too have no remorse, believing they are only taking what is rightfully theirs.  All moral standards become relative.  Whether it’s bailouts, privileges, government subsidies or benefits for some from inflating a currency, it’s all part of a process justified by a philosophy of forced redistribution of wealth.”

“Some argue it’s only a matter of “fairness” that those in need are cared for. There are two problems with this. First, the principle is used to provide a greater amount of benefits to the rich than the poor. Second, no one seems to be concerned about whether or not it’s fair to those who end up paying for the benefits.”

“It is self-evident that our freedoms have been severely limited and the apparent prosperity we still have, is nothing more than leftover wealth from a previous time.”

“But that illusion is now ending.”

“Under the current circumstances the most we can hope to achieve in the political process is to use it as a podium to reach the people to alert them of the nature of the crisis and the importance of their need to assume responsibility for themselves, if it is liberty that they truly seek.  Without this, a constitutionally protected free society is impossible.”

“Productivity and creativity are the true source of personal satisfaction.”

“What are the greatest dangers that the American people face today and impede the goal of a free society? There are five.”

1. The continuous attack on our civil liberties which threatens the rule of law and our ability to resist the onrush of tyranny.               

2. Violent anti-Americanism that has engulfed the world. Because the phenomenon of “blow-back” is not understood or denied, our foreign policy is destined to keep us involved in many wars that we have no business being in. National bankruptcy and a greater threat to our national security will result.                                                         

3. The ease in which we go to war, without a declaration by Congress, but accepting international authority from the UN or NATO even for preemptive wars, otherwise known as aggression.                                        

4. A financial political crisis as a consequence of excessive debt, unfunded liabilities, spending, bailouts, and gross discrepancy in wealth distribution going from the middle class to the rich. The danger of central economic planning, by the Federal Reserve must be understood.                                               

 5. World government taking over  local and US sovereignty by getting involved in the issues of war, welfare, trade, banking,  a world currency, taxes, property ownership, and private ownership of guns.

“The idealism of non-aggression and rejecting all offensive use of force should be tried.”

“Today the principle of habeas corpus, established when King John signed the Magna Carta in 1215, is under attack.”

“The Founders were convinced that a free society could not exist without a moral people.”

“Benjamin Franklin claimed “only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.”  John Adams concurred:  “Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.””

“A society that boos or ridicules the Golden Rule is not a moral society.”

“The #1 responsibility for each of us is to change ourselves with hope that others will follow.”

“To achieve liberty and peace, two powerful human emotions have to be overcome.  Number one is “envy” which leads to hate and class warfare.  Number two is “intolerance” which leads to bigoted and judgmental policies.  These emotions must be replaced with a much better understanding of love, compassion, tolerance and free market economics. Freedom, when understood, brings people together. When tried, freedom is popular.”

“The problem we have faced over the years has been that economic interventionists are swayed by envy, whereas social interventionists are swayed by intolerance of habits and lifestyles.”

“I have come to one firm conviction after these many years of trying to figure out “the plain truth of things.”  The best chance for achieving peace and prosperity, for the maximum number of people world-wide, is to pursue the cause of LIBERTY.”

“If you find this to be a worthwhile message, spread it throughout the land.”