Just another Reality-based bubble in the foam of the multiverse.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Exactly how credulous can we be?

As credulous as we can get...

Excuse me for double posting but the Warren Commission?

Hell, even they disagreed after the fact. And they were hand picked.

And invoking the sanctity of the Authorities on the same thread that points out what Martin Luther King thought about Democratic Leadership.

Anyone remember his refusal to be co-opted by LBj. And what happened soon after?

Go read Shystee. Please.

It damn well ought to be taken as a property of psychohistory. Dr. Seldon, are you listening? Or is it only the NSA? Or am I worrying about conspiracies again?

You. Can. Not. Believe. the. Authorities.

The only One who really knows is the Perpetrator(s). Whether it's one Comedian or a host of Jokers in the deck.

It just amazes me that anyone who has witnessed even only the events since 2000 is willing to accept anything a government source tries to sell you. Any government source.

Be it Hillary. Or Barry O. Or Goldman-Sachs.

Woops- they're aren't the government now, are they?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

DINOcrat angst

Why the gall of 72% of the American public, dissing their Betters:

In the high-stakes battle over health care, a growing cadre of liberal activists is aiming its sharpest firepower against Democratic senators who they accuse of being insufficiently committed to the cause.

The attacks -- ranging from tart news releases to full-fledged advertising campaigns -- have elicited rebuttals from lawmakers and sparked a debate inside the party over the best strategy for achieving President Obama's top priority of a comprehensive health-system overhaul.

The rising tensions between Democratic legislators and constituencies that would typically be their natural allies underscore the high hurdles for Obama as he tries to hold together a diverse, fragile coalition. Activists say they are simply pressing for quick delivery of "true health reform," but the intraparty rift runs the risk of alienating centrist Democrats who will be needed to pass a bill...

Among the Democratic senators targeted by such liberal groups as MoveOn.org are, from left, Ben Nelson (Neb.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Ron Wyden (Ore.) and Arlen Specter (Pa.)...

You know. The Democrats In Name Only.

Please. Arlen Spector? Dianne Feinstein? Spare me.

More and better Demoncrats, not DINOcrats, in 2010 and 2012. Please.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Some scoff

...at the term "the Company".

Not Just Doublespeak, Doubletalk


...I thought Democrats (and Obama himself) believe that information obtained via "harsh interrogation" is unreliable. Isn't that supposed to be a core Democratic belief? If so, why would we want to imprison someone as "dangerous" based on unreliable information obtained using those methods? If the accusations against someone were drowned or beaten out of another person, shouldn't we consider those coerced accusations too unreliable to justify keeping the accused in a cage for years with no trial? And if they're willing to repeat the accusations in court now that they're not being tortured -- and if we have independent, non-coerced evidence to prove the accusations -- why would past abuse bar the use of their testimony (as Marcy Wheeler suggests, the real reason why we'd want to prevent witnesses who were tortured from testifying in a court seems to be "because we're covering up our own torture")?

More important, look at the mentality being expressed -- and about to be implemented -- here: there may be instances where we cannot get convictions because of witness unavailability or other logistical problems, so we'll just imprison them anyway. Does it really require any effort to demonstrate how dangerous that mentality is -- that the President will have the power to order people imprisoned wherever there are some logistical barriers to obtaining convictions? If there's one principle that can be described as fundamental to the American founding, it's that the state -- and certainly the President -- do not have the power to order people imprisoned without charges. Thomas Jefferson said that trials by jury is "the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution." Why is this painfully obvious proposition still necessary to defend after the November election?


...The irony, of course, is that the man who ran on transparency is actually turning out to be less transparent than the president he excoriated on the campaign trail for his secrecy. Bush and Cheney were pretty upfront about the fact that they believed they had the constitutional right to act in any way they saw fit, regardless of the accepted understanding of the constitution or congressional and judicial prerogatives. Bush declared "I'm the decider" and he meant it. This administration obviously believes it has that right as well --- it just pretends otherwise.

I suspect they understand that keeping the folks from losing that freedom loving, patriotic illusion of American exceptionalism is an important part of exercising American political power. And they're probably right. Bush and Cheney's biggest mistakes were in being honest about something nobody wants to know.

In the final analysis, this was why they- and the Republican cronies- were removed from power. Not because the Company didn't like the Endless War, not because the Company didn't like their economic polices- Obama even kept the Reptilican honchos that Bu$hCo had in charge of these. Gates and Bernanke. Goldman-Sachs and the Yale boys are still running the show. Hell, they've even figured out how to make money off of the environmental behemoth that just passed the House.

No, Darth Cheneyburton, like Darth Rumsfeld before him, was excommunicated from office for the high crime of being just too bloody transparent. Real Dark Lords like moves that most people can't see. It's part of their schtik.

There's a less polite word for it

Bob Herbert does not want to offend you, however.

How do you put together a consumer economy that works when the consumers are out of work?

One of the great stories you’ll be hearing over the next couple of years will be about the large number of Americans who were forced out of work in this recession and remained unable to find gainful employment after the recession ended. We’re basically in denial about this.

There are now more than five unemployed workers for every job opening in the United States. The ranks of the poor are growing, welfare rolls are rising and young American men on a broad front are falling into an abyss of joblessness.

Some months ago, the Obama administration and various mainstream economists forecast a peak unemployment rate of roughly 8 percent this year. It has already reached 9.4 percent, and most analysts now expect it to hit 10 percent or higher. Economists are currently spreading the word that the recession may end sometime this year, but the unemployment rate will continue to climb. That’s not a recovery. That’s mumbo jumbo.

The less polite term is, of course, Bullshit. But Bob Herbert seems to get that.

Why this rampant joblessness is not viewed as a crisis and approached with the sense of urgency and commitment that a crisis warrants, is beyond me. The Obama administration has committed a great deal of money to keep the economy from collapsing entirely, but that is not enough to cope with the scope of the jobless crisis.

There were roughly seven million people officially counted as unemployed in November 2007, a month before the recession began. Now there are about 14 million. If you add to these unemployed individuals those who are working part time but would like to work full time, and those who want jobs but have become discouraged and stopped looking, you get an underutilization rate that is truly alarming.

“By May 2009,” according to the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston, “the total number of underutilized workers had increased dramatically from 15.63 million to 29.37 million — a rise of 13.7 million, or 88 percent. Nearly 30 million working-age individuals were underutilized in May 2009, the largest number in our nation’s history. The overall labor underutilization rate in May 2009 had risen to 18.2 percent, its highest value in 26 years.”

If it were true that the recession is approaching its end and that these startlingly high numbers were about to begin a steady and substantial decline, there would be much less reason for alarm. But while there is evidence the recession is easing, hardly anyone believes a big-time employment turnaround is in the offing.

Three-quarters of the workers let go over the past year were permanently displaced, as opposed to temporarily laid off. They won’t be going back to their jobs when economic conditions improve. And many of those who were permanently displaced were in fields like construction and manufacturing in which the odds of finding work, even after a recovery takes hold, are not good.

Another startling aspect of this economic downturn is the toll it has taken on men, especially young men. Men accounted for nearly 80 percent of the loss in employment in this recession. As the labor market center reported, “The unemployment rate for males in April 2009 was 10 percent, versus only 7.2 percent for women, the largest absolute and relative gender gap in unemployment rates in the post-World War II period.”

Workers under 30 have sustained nearly half the net job losses since November 2007.

This is not a recipe for a strong economic recovery once the recession officially ends, or for a healthy society. Young males, especially, are being clobbered at an age when, typically, they would be thinking about getting married, setting up new households and starting families. Moreover, work habits and experience developed in one’s 20s often establish the foundation for decades of employment and earnings.

We’ve seen what happens when you rely on debt and inflated assets to keep the economy afloat. The economy can’t be re-established on a sound basis without aggressive efforts to put people back to work in jobs with decent wages.

We also need to consider the suffering that is being endured by these high levels of joblessness, including the profound negative effect on the families of the unemployed. Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute, warned about the consequences for children. “What does it mean,” he asked, “when kids are under stress because there is no money in the household, or people have to move more, or are combining households, or lose their health insurance? I believe this is going to leave a permanent scar on a generation of kids.”

The first step in dealing with a crisis is to recognize that it exists. This is not a problem that will evaporate when the gross domestic product finally begins to creep into positive territory.

It's worth noting that the "Bu$h Boom" years saw a supposed recovery without a return to normal levels of unemployment. That another bubble, fueled by assets gleaned from the United States Treasury is being blown to fuel the current "recovery", is accompanied by a worsening of unemployment should come as no surprise.

After all, the same banksters still own the Fed, and Washington.

Managing Wildlife by Killing It

Washington, DC — One-third of National Wildlife Refuges in the Southeast U.S. are growing genetically modified crops with approval from the official tapped by the Obama White House to head the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, according to agency records obtained today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Planting GM crops on a wildlife refuge is illegal without full prior environmental and public review under a federal court ruling won by PEER and allied groups last year, but none of the Southeastern refuges have undertaken the required reviews.

National wildlife refuges have allowed farming for decades in order to help prepare seed beds for native habitat such as grasslands and provide food for migratory birds and other wildlife. In recent years, refuge farming programs are being converted to GM crops because that is the seed that farmers can obtain or, in some case, prefer. Today, almost all the crops being grown on refuges are genetically modified.

By law and policy, these refuges are supposed to be administered to benefit wildlife, not local farmers. In fact, Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) policy explicitly forbids “genetically modified agricultural crops in refuge management unless we determine their use is essential to accomplishing refuge purpose(s)”. By contrast to this policy, in the Southeast Region, headed by Sam Hamilton, named by the Obama administration as its intended nominee to lead the entire FWS, records show –

* One in three (41 of 128 total refuges) are growing GM crops;
* No refuge has been denied permission for GM crops; and
* The basis for Hamilton’s Regional Office approval typically cites farmers’ profitability or their preference for GM crops.

“What is supposed to be a last resort exception has become common practice,” stated PEER Executive Direct Jeff Ruch, who obtained copies of all GM crop approvals from the FWS under the Freedom of Information Act. “Sam Hamilton seems to embrace genetically engineered refuge management with open arms.”

Allowing agribusiness to plow and plant wildlife refuges is another Bu$hism the Obrog seem perfectly willing to continue on with, GM crops aside. Once again, genetic manipulation of crops would not be a bad idea if the genetic manipulation actually just enhanced nutrient value. Instead, there are two major manipulations that are typically done: first, to introduce a bacterially derived insecticide into the plant genome. Second, to introduce herbicide resistance into the crop, which are then sprayed with RoundUp to get rid of the "weeds".

Thereby knocking off the base of the foodchain for any wildlife varmints that might actually live in the wildlife reserve.

But that's what the Free Market does best, right? Starve those it pretends to serve.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Not Meddling

Not fueling the Green revolution in Iran, either, one supposes.

Tehran’s demonstrators rose up by themselves. But the technology that helped them organize — and helped them connect with the rest of the planet — was funded in part by the U.S. government.

Early in the pro-democracy protests, everyone made a big deal out of the State Department’s call to Twitter, asking the short-messaging firm to reschedule maintenance so the Iranian opposition movement could keep communicating. In retrospect, that might have been one of least meaningful moves an American agency made on the activists’ behalf. More important, it now appears, are the millions of dollars invested over the years in technologies that could pry open the Iranian firewall — and avoid the Supreme Leader’s web censors.

“Our goal was to promote freedom of speech for Iranians to communicate with each other and the outside world. We funded and supported innovative technologies to allow them to do this via the Internet, cell phones and other media,” former State Department Iran democracy program coordinator David Denehy tells Eli Lake of the Washington Times.

Forget the driven-by-DC mock-populism and the all-too-clever schemes; this is how America should be promoting democracy abroad. Give activists the tools — and then let them decide how and when to use ‘em.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which oversees the Voice of America and the Farsi-language Radio Farda, has a three-person anti-censorship team that focuses on China and Iran. “Iran has a growing audience of young activist Internet users and we have repurposed our tools to work in Farsi and make it available to Iranians,” BBG’s Ken Berman says. “We open up the channels so the Iranian blogosphere is more accessible to Iranians in Iran.”

One of those projects: design the Firefox Web browser to embed the TOR network. That’s the “onion router” anonymous surfing service, which throws off the Supreme Leader’s online goons by “distributing your transactions over several places on the Internet, so no single point can link you to your destination,” the project’s site explains. “The idea is similar to using a twisty, hard-to-follow route in order to throw off somebody who is tailing you — and then periodically erasing your footprints. Instead of taking a direct route from source to destination, data packets on the Tor network take a random pathway through several relays that cover your tracks so no observer at any single point can tell where the data came from or where it’s going.”

“There are plenty of programs political dissidents can use to route their Internet traffic through third parties and escape censorship and avoid monitoring,” one know-it-all blogger tells Lake. “But TOR is different because it is an encrypted network of node after node, each one unlocking encryption to the next node. And because of this, it is all but impossible for governments to track Web sites a TOR user is visiting. TOR is a great way to give Ahmadinejad’s Web censors headaches.”

That onion routing approach was originally developed by the Naval Research Lab and by Darpa, the Pentagon’s leading science and technology arm...

Yes, one must remember not to laugh in the face of the next cyberchild who tells me how secure TOR is from the NSA when it was developed by the Pentagon.

It is amusing how Noah Shachtman prefaces the piece with "Tehran’s demonstrators rose up by themselves..."

Sure, they did.

As the Dark Wraith has some interesting things to say about this too.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

"If you've done nothing wrong, what's the worry?"

If there was any doubt the Company wants to know who you are, let them be laid to rest:

Senate Democrats outlined plans yesterday to overhaul the nation's immigration laws, including a requirement that all U.S. workers verify their identity through fingerprints or an eye scan.

Speaking on the eve of a White House summit with congressional leaders on immigration, Sen. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) said a national system to verify work documents is necessary because Congress has failed to crack down on unscrupulous employers and illegal immigrants with fake documents...

You heard that right campers. Everyone in Amerika will be fingerprinted if Chuckles has his way. Doubtless this will allow right thinking people to collate it with everything else they know about you, too.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The real question

Someone tell Bob Herbert that we know who we are- as he knows who he is:

Policies that were wrong under George W. Bush are no less wrong because Barack Obama is in the White House...

Read it all, he's figured it out.

So has Bill Maher:

...Each time President Obama tries to take on a progressive cause, Maher charged that there was "a major political party standing in his way: the Democrats.

But the solution is not a third political party, according to the self-described libertarian pundit: "We don't need a third party. We have a center right party, and a crazy party. Democrats have moved to the right, and the right has moved into a mental hospital."

Maher scoffs at the notion that Obama is a socialist: "He's not even a liberal."

Hammering in his point, Maher asks, "Shouldn't there be one party that unambiguously supports cutting military spending? Straight up in favor of gun control, gay marriage, higher taxes on the rich, universal healthcare, legalizing pot, and steep, direct taxing of polluters?"

"These aren't radical ideas," Maher stresses, "The majority of Americans are either already for them, or would be if they were properly argued and defended; and what we need is an actual progressive party to represent the millions of Americans who aren't being served by the Democrats."

"Because bottom line," he concludes "Democrats are the new Republicans."

[-via Avedon]

Now that's funny

Life is much simpler when you're not meddling, one supposes.
[tip o'teh tinfoil to b]

Short memories get short Changed

You encounter a lot of anguished fantasy in cyberspace, and none is more inane than the endless hand-wringing about how great it all would have been if Hillary Clinton had won the nomination.

This is sheer dementia. From Summers to Emmanuel, the worst NeoLiberals of the Oborg are Clintonista.

I'll let Robert Scheer handle this:

... It’s not working. The Bush-Obama strategy of throwing trillions at the banks to solve the mortgage crisis is a huge bust. The financial moguls, while tickled pink to have $1.25 trillion in toxic assets covered by the feds, along with hundreds of billions in direct handouts, are not using that money to turn around the free fall in housing foreclosures.

As The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, “The Mortgage Bankers Association cut its forecast of home-mortgage lending this year by 27% amid deflating hopes for a boom in refinancing.” The same association said that the total refinancing under the administration’s much ballyhooed Home Affordable Refinance Program is “very low.”

Aside from a tight mortgage market, the problem in preventing foreclosures has to do with homeowners losing their jobs. Here again the administration, continuing the Bush strategy, is working the wrong end of the problem. Although President Obama was wise enough to at least launch a job stimulus program, a far greater amount of federal funding benefits Wall Street as opposed to Main Street.

... Citigroup, the prime mover for ending the sensible restraints of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, is now a pathetic ward of the state. But back in the day President Clinton would tour the country with Citigroup founder Sandy Weill touting the wonderful work that Weill and other moguls were doing to invest in economically depressed communities. It wasn’t really happening then, and now millions of folks in those communities have seen their houses snatched from them as if they were just pieces in a game of Monopoly that Clinton and his fat-cat buddy were playing.

Once Weill got the radical deregulation law he wanted, he issued a statement giving credit: “In particular, we congratulate President Clinton, Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, NEC [National Economic Council] Chairman Gene Sperling, Under Secretary of the Treasury Gary Gensler, Assistant Treasury Secretaries Linda Robertson and Greg Baer.”

Summers is now Obama’s top economic adviser, Sperling has been appointed legal counselor at Treasury, and Gensler, a former partner in Goldman Sachs, is head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which he once attempted to prevent from regulating derivatives when it was run by Brooksley Born. Robertson worked for Summers in pushing through the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which freed the derivatives market from adult supervision and contained the “Enron Loophole,” permitting that company to go wild. Robertson then became the top Washington lobbyist for Enron and was recently appointed senior adviser to Fed Chair Ben S. Bernanke. Baer went to work as a corporate counsel for Bank of America, which announced his appointment with a press release crediting him with having “coordinated Treasury policy” during the Clinton years in getting Glass-Steagall repealed. As a result of deregulation, B of A too spiraled out of control and ended up as a beneficiary of the Treasury’s welfare program.

Why was I so naive as to have expected this Democratic president to not do the bidding of the banks when the last president from that party joined the Republicans in giving the moguls everything they wanted?

I dunno, because maybe you believed what he said until he brought the Clintonista and the banksters on board anyway.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Even a child could do it

...if they want to:

It's not your average science fair when the 16-year-old winner manages to solve a global waste crisis. But such was the case at last month's May's Canadian Science Fair in Waterloo, Ontario, where Daniel Burd, a high school student at Waterloo Collegiate Institute, presented his research on microorganisms that can rapidly biodegrade plastic.

NOTE: there are TWO high school students who discovered plastic-consuming microorganisms. The first was Daniel Burd (last year). The second was Tseng I-Ching (last month), a high school student in Taiwan.

Daniel had a thought it seems even the most esteemed PhDs hadn't considered. Plastic, one of the most indestructible of manufactured materials, does in fact eventually decompose. It takes 1,000 years but decompose it does, which means there must be microorganisms out there to do the decomposing.

Could those microorganisms be bred to do the job faster?

That was Daniel's question which he put to the test by a very simple and clever process of immersing ground plastic in a yeast solution that encourages microbial growth, and then isolating the most productive organisms.

The preliminary results were encouraging, so he kept at it, selecting out the most effective strains and interbreeding them. After several weeks of tweaking and optimizing temperatures Burd was achieved a 43 % degradation of plastic in six weeks, an almost inconceivable accomplishment.

With 500 billion plastic bags manufactured each year and a Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch that grows more expansive by the day, a low cost and nontoxic method for degrading plastic is the stuff of environmentalists' dreams and, I would hazard a guess, a pretty good start-up company as well...
[tip o'teh tinfoil to Cryptogon]

You would think. But if they can't engineer suicide genes into it and patent the process, biotech isn't interested. The best thing the kid could do it to grow it up and release it in his favorite neighborhood garbage dump.

Serially. Everyplace he goes. Of course, he might just have Homeland Security following him around- because chance are a bug that can oxidize polypropylene will be eating away at all those cameras keeping the Homeland Secure, too.

Now that's what I call Terra'ism.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Closing it down- or simply Classifying it?

One wonders if the satellites will simply shut their cybernetic eyes and go to sleep now.

The truth is this has been going on at the Fed level awhile- the 2007 Bu$hCo order simply established funding to an overt office in Homeland Security to co-ordinate it with domestic police.

The National Applications Office

... When most Americans were too busy enjoying the beach to notice, Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell announced that the powers of the Protect America Act, which had just been passed into law by Congress, would be used to redirect military spy satellites put into space to watch over the Soviet Union. Now, the satellites would be watching Americans, and sharing information about the activities of Americans with state and local law enforcement, to be used in investigations and prosecutions. The kicker: The spying would all take place without any search warrant to establish probable cause for suspicion.

In 2008, the FISA Amendments Act was passed, extending and expanding the unconstitutional powers of unreasonable search and seizure created under the Protect America Act. As a United States Senator, Barack Obama voted for the law, enabling satellite spying against Americans to continue. Now, with Obama as President, George W. Bush’s plans for the National Applications Office are going ahead at full pace. Obama seems rather fond of having a Big Brother eye in the sky, watching you. There are indications that satellite spying, through the National Applications Office and beyond, include massive warrantless wiretapping of Americans’ private emails and telephone calls.

Members of Congress who have been briefed on the activities of the National Applications Office have expressed grave concerns that it will be abused, and have voiced protests in the past, but Congress has provided enough funding to get the National Applications Office up and running anyway.

Thursday evening, that posture changed. Representative Jane Harman introduced H.R. 2703 and H.R. 2704, which would completely defund and stop the operations of the National Applications Office. Representative Harman is a particularly interesting person to sponsor this legislation, given that she has herself been the target of, and yet a defender of, warrantless surveillance by the Executive’s intelligence agencies.

There seems to be a lot more going on with this issue, and the personalities involved, than what we can see at first glance. I’ll be keeping an eye on both of Harman’s bills, and Harman herself, looking for the next move in this two-year struggle over satellite spying.

This was also spotted by Cryptogon.

I like this comment:

“It’s being shut down,” said a homeland security official.

Translation: The program is “going dark” so all the f**king questions and bureaucratic resistance will finally stop.

No matter the color

No Matter Who Is President of Iran, They Would Stone Me

by Lila Ghobady

Indeed. Me too, sweetie, for different reasons...

It's also nice to know not everyone's drinking the green Kool-Aid.

It's Not Fascism When We Do It

Greenwald hits again on a theme that may be the Achilles heel of the war machine:

...We don't really consider torture and mass pointless slaughter -- when we do it -- to be all that bad. Those who advocated, defended and ordered it are still highly respectable -- "honorable." Those who were so humiliatingly wrong that it cannot be adequately expressed in words still prance around, and are still treated as, wise experts, while those were right are naive and unSerious. The U.S stands for freedom, democracy and human rights -- even when we don't. People who advocate unprovoked wars of aggression, torture and mass violence are irredeemable monsters -- except when they're American or our allies...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Well, sure

Is our president learning?

As the commenters say, he's getting there:

What? Reaganesque ?

You mean secretly fund killers in Latin America ?

Sell arms to Iran to fund the effort ?

Backdoor negotiations to free hostages ?

Lie to the American people ?

Lead all Presidents with 32 convictions of his administration ?

Double the national debt ?

Check. The Middle East, too.
Not yet
Not yet
Getting there.

It all depends on what the definition of "fail" is

This is what is known in the legal vernacular as a leading question. It's a rhetorical point used to drive home the Faith among the Faithful.

...how big is too big to fail? And how would you measure it anyway? In the case of banks and giants like A.I.G. and Fannie Mae, policy makers argue that the interconnectedness of modern finance, as much as the size of the players, is the real issue. The collapse of one big financial company could cascade through the industry. In the case of General Motors and Chrysler, a failure could mean that thousands of jobs — not only at those companies, but at their suppliers as well — could evaporate.

The too-big-to-fail doctrine, sometimes called T.B.T.F., goes back at least as far as Brandeis’ time, when, in 1914, the Treasury stepped in to provide financial aid to New York City. In the 1980s, when the government rescued Continental Illinois Bank, Stewart B. McKinney, a Connecticut Congressman, declared that the government had created a new class of banks, those too big to fail. The phrase returned and stuck.

Ben S. Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, often uses a wonkish euphemism. He refers to Brobdingnagian banks as “systemically critical” institutions. The Obama administration rolled out another description last week: “Tier 1 Financial Holding Companies.”

What is remarkable is that, even now, the T.B.T.F. club and some of its members are actually growing, not shrinking. A decade-long run of mergers in the banking industry has concentrated power in fewer hands. Last autumn, when the financial crisis was at its height, policy makers pushed some banks to buy weaker ones to head off failures. (See Merrill Lynch, acquisition of, among others.)

Frederic S. Mishkin, a former Federal Reserve governor from 2006 to 2008, for one, said there could be no turning back on too big to fail. “You can’t put that genie in the bottle again,” he said. “We are going to have to deal with it.”

Especially when it's such a useful djinni. It enriches so many of the people with the right stuff. Every now and then it makes some embarrassing move like funding Adolf or Osama bin Laden, but all in all it certainly complements the tasteful among us. It is a pity it lives on human souls, but really, the ones with the beautiful minds never even notice, lacking much in this department anyway.

These djinn don't live in bottles, but on a Mobius strip:

Staff at Goldman Sachs staff can look forward to the biggest bonus payouts in the firm's 140-year history after a spectacular first half of the year, sparking concern that the big investment banks which survived the credit crunch will derail financial regulation reforms.

A lack of competition and a surge in revenues from trading foreign currency, bonds and fixed-income products has sent profits at Goldman Sachs soaring, according to insiders at the firm.

Staff in London were briefed last week on the banking and securities company's prospects and told they could look forward to bumper bonuses if, as predicted, it completed its most profitable year ever. Figures next month detailing the firm's second-quarter earnings are expected to show a further jump in profits. Warren Buffett, who bought $5bn of the company's shares in January, has already made a $1bn gain on his investment.

Goldman is expected to be the biggest winner in the race for revenues that, in 2006, reached £186bn across the entire industry. While this figure is expected to fall to £160bn in 2009, it will be split among a smaller number of firms.

Barclays Capital, Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank are among the European firms expected to register bumper profits, along with US banks JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley following the near collapse and government rescue of major trading houses including Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, UBS and Royal Bank of Scotland.

In April, Goldman said it would set aside half of its £1.2bn first-quarter profit to reward staff, much of it in bonuses. It is believed to have paid 973 bankers $1m or more last year, while this year's payouts are on track to be the highest for most of the bank's 28,000 staff, including about 5,400 in London.

Critics of the bonus culture in the City said the dominance of a few risk-taking investment banks is undermining the efforts of regulators to stabilise the financial system.

Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat treasury spokesman, said: "The investment banks more than any other institutions created the culture of excessive leverage, excessive risk and excessive bonuses that led to the downfall of the financial system. Now they are cashing in and the same bonus culture has returned. The result must be that we are being pushed to the edge of another crash."

Goldman Sachs said it reviewed its bonus scheme last year and switched from a system of guaranteed rewards that were paid over three years to variable payments that tied staff to the firm. It told employees last year that profit-related bonuses would be delayed by 12 months.

Until the release of its first quarter profits in April, it seemed inconceivable that a firm owing the US government $10bn would be looking to break all-time records in 2009.

David Williams, an investment banking analyst at Fox Pitt Kelton, said: "This year is shaping up to be the best year ever for investment banks, or at least those that have emerged relatively unscathed from the credit crisis.

"These banks are intermediaries in the bond markets where governments and companies are raising billions of pounds of new money. There is also a lack of competition that means they can charge huge sums for doing business."

Last week, the firm predicted that President Barack Obama's government could issue $3.25tn of debt before September, almost four times last year's sum. Goldman, a prime broker of US government bonds, is expected to make hundreds of millions of dollars in profits from selling and dealing in the bonds.

You read that last sentence right. Goldman-$acks Amerika is having a windfall year selling the U.S. government bonds financing the bailout of Goldman-$acks Amerika.
[tip o'teh tinfoil to Lambert]

Goldman-Sachs and friends fund the campaigns of Lyndon Baines Obama, the DINOcrats, and the Rethuglicans. They provide a friendly business environment, not only bailing out the Company, but ensuring its business selling the bonds that finance the cash flow for its bailout. The Company, in its gratitude, ensures the people with the Right $tuff get $elected again.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The unforgivable sin of being correct

More Greenwald and Krugman of note on the main$tream purges of Left leaning criticism of Lyndon Baines Obama and NeoConservatism wearing a NeoLiberal label.

First, Dr. Krugman:

...Here’s how I see things: many people in the news media, especially at the managerial level, decided a long time ago that movement conservatism was The Future — and that the sensible thing, whether or not you yourself were a conservative, was to go with the wave. That meant treating right-wing politicians and media figures with great respect, while ridiculing the opposition as the Incredible Shrinking Democrats...

And anyone who didn’t treat the right with great respect, who didn’t get with the program, was a flake, a moonbat. The way Iraq war skeptics were frozen out of the prewar discussion was only the most conspicuous example; pretty much the same thing happened in early 2005 to anyone questioning the push for Social Security privatization.

Now, you might think that the way things turned out — the total failure of movement conservatism in government, and the abrupt, humiliating end to the Permanent Republican Majority — would lead to some soul-searching. But that’s not how human nature works. Instead, it became more urgent than ever to assert that those who didn’t get with the program were flakes and moonbats, not worthy of being listened to, while those who believed in the right to the bitter end were “serious”.

Thus we still live in an era in which you have to have been wrong to be respectable. You’re not considered serious about national security unless you were for invading Iraq; you’re not considered a serious political analyst unless you spent the last 3 years of the Bush administration predicting a Republican comeback; you’re not considered a serious economic analyst unless you dismissed the idea that the Bush Boom, such as it was, rested on a housing bubble.

That’s why the firing of Dan Froomkin now makes a perverse sort of sense. As long as the right was in power, he was in effect the Post’s designated moonbat, someone who attracted readers but didn’t threaten the self-esteem of the self-perceived serious people at the paper. But now he looks like someone who was right when the serious people were wrong — and that means he has to go.

It’s even worse. Froomkin applies the same standards of critical thinking to the NeoLiberalism of the Obama administration. It’s not terribly surprising he (as Krugman) spotted the transformation of this faction- but awfully awkward.

Krugman's advantage being, of course, his day job and a Nobel Prize, too!

Greenwald has more to say, too:

...Along those lines, the Post today has an Editorial condemning the recent decision of a federal judge who is a Bush-43-appointee (a fact the Editorial omits) allowing a lawsuit brought by Jose Padilla against John Yoo to proceed (I wrote about that decision here -- see Item 5). As a result of memos written by Yoo, Padilla -- an American citizen -- was imprisoned for years without charges, without any access to the outside world (including a lawyer), and was brutally abused.

But to the Post, Yoo's authorizing that conduct was a mere good faith legal dispute for which (as always) there should be no accountability. That's one of the Post's primary goals in life: to defend Bush officials from any consequences of their actions, even when those actions violate core Constitutional guarantees and criminal statutes. Froomkin, a vigorous proponent of accountability (and vocal critic of Obama for blocking such accountability) was completely anathema to that mission.

...Along those lines, Andrew Sullivan -- who has been criticizing neoconservative dogma and the Post's allegiance to it for the role it played in Froomkin's firing -- is predictably being smeared as an "anti-semite" by the usual manipulators of that term. Andrew rightly notes that "these vile smears are designed to police the discourse some more," but it's so striking how nobody cares anymore about these smears because they've been so overused and are so transparently dumb (Andrew himself dismisses them as "tedious," and that's all they are).

Everyone knows what neocons are. Everyone knows that "neocons" are not tantamount to "Jews." Most Jews reject neoconservative ideology. Some of the leading and most scathing critics of neoconservatism are Jews. Many leading neocons -- Dick Cheney -- are not Jewish. Depicting criticisms of "neocons" as "anti-Semitism" is every bit as manipulative as applying that term to those who criticize Israel. Neoconservatism is a radical, deceitful and destructive ideology and nobody is going to be deterred from aggressively pointing that out because Weekly Standard, National Review, Commentary and The Washington Post Editorial Page casually toss around the word "anti-Semite" in order to intimidate people out of that criticism. Those people and that tactic are far too discredited for that to work with anyone. It doesn't inspire fear -- only pity and contempt. That The Post is a leading house organ for neoconservative opinion is an important fact and screeching "anti-Semitism" at anyone who points it out will achieve nothing.

... "Because nothing screams 'Anti-Semitism' like criticizing a newspaper for firing a Jewish journalist." They use the "anti-semitism" smear so constantly and reflexively that they no longer even bother to see if it makes basic logical sense.

Another factor that turns the main$tream against real analysis is the people that own it. When you've got big interest coming from the endless war you don't want to shut down the war machine. As long as companies like GE and private equity like Carlyle have a say in everything that is said, what is said will be pretty much smoke and mirrors.

“I do believe my president is a peacemaker”

...All of this sounds, frankly, corrupt. Instead of using cold hard cash, the White House threatens to pull the rug from under dissenting legislators and offers its support to those who cede their conscience to the president’s agenda. So much for change...

No, no, not peacemaker.


There's a difference.

another astute observation

...for the nameless man in the gray turtleneck

The last coalition of the willing helped cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people in a war based on lies.

Awesome branding, assholes. Surprisingly appropriate, however!

It (the coalition, that is) seems to be supported by the usual main$tream suspects, too.

Changing the Change

The more things stay the same.

Then there's Joe Galloway:

...he can still talk the talk and he does that incessantly. But he seemingly can't walk the walk. He may still sound like a revolutionary but more and more he looks and acts like George W. Bush, albeit a George W. Bush who can speak a complete sentence in the English language...

Friday, June 19, 2009

War. What is it good for?

Absolutely nothing.

Except for a shady corner or three

As one of the few Americans who's doubtless read the whole damned plan, Dr. Krugman's Out of the Shadows is something you might want to read. Especially since with Froomkin gone there's not too many mainStreamers willing to attack the One from the Left:

...Yes, the plan would plug some big holes in regulation. But as described, it wouldn’t end the skewed incentives that made the current crisis inevitable...

Which, like the economic fixes of the Reagan era, would pretty much make it inevitable the whole situation would reprecipitate itself later on... especially since even with the best of bankster fixes all hope for is Recovery Lite:

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The severe U.S. recession is likely to end by year-end but the recovery will be weak and leave the economy vulnerable to new shocks, according to some of Wall Streets top strategists.

Americans are trying to repair their household finances after losing trillions in home values and investments -- and as the savings rate goes up, spending will stay weak, strategists at the Reuters Investment Outlook Summit in New York said this week.

Several strategists said the economy would likely grow by only 1 to 2 percent in 2010 after exiting what has been the longest recession in decades in the third or fourth quarter of this year.

Dino Kos, a managing director of Portales Partners, said "2 percent would look really, really good" for 2010 given the economy's current profound weakness and the headwinds that still lie ahead.

Most agreed that consumer spending, long the engine of U.S. economic growth, could not be counted on -- especially as many expect the unemployment rate to continue to rise even after the recession ends.

The U.S. jobless rate could hit 11 percent before starting to recede, said Nouriel Roubini, chairman of economics research firm RGE Monitor. In May, unemployment hit a 26-year high of 9.4 percent...

A Recovery Lite, sort of like the non-recovery during the Bu$h Boom. Another bubble recovery, this time fueled by the Treasury and not your mortgage. It sort of makes you wonder when it pops, who will foreclose on whom, and what economic points of Lite will once again turn out to be the gleam in the eyes of the predators in the shadow.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dan Froomkin Fired from the Washington Pravda

...For daring to criticize Barry O. and the banksters from the Left. Glenn Greenwald.

One of the rarest commodities in the establishment media is someone who was a vehement critic of George Bush and who now, applying their principles consistently, has become a regular critic of Barack Obama -- i.e., someone who criticizes Obama from what is perceived as "the Left" rather than for being a Terrorist-Loving Socialist Muslim. It just got a lot rarer, as The Washington Post -- at least according to Politico's Patrick Gavin -- just fired WashingtonPost.com columnist, long-time Bush critic and Obama watchdog (i.e., a real journalist) Dan Froomkin.

What makes this firing so bizarre and worthy of inquiry is that, as Gavin notes, Froomkin was easily one of the most linked-to and cited Post columnists. At a time when newspapers are relying more and more on online traffic, the Post just fired the person who, in 2007, wrote 3 out of the top 10 most-trafficked columns. In publishing that data, Media Bistro used this headline: "The Post's Most Popular Opinions (Read: Froomkin)." Isn't that an odd person to choose to get rid of?

...All of this underscores a critical and oft-overlooked point: what one finds virtually nowhere in the establishment press are those who criticize Obama not in order to advance their tawdry right-wing agenda but because the principles that led them to criticize Bush compel similar criticism of Obama...

The Washington Post has been, since the days of Allen Dulles, a CIA rag. The tensions it wants to portray in American society are the Official Amerikan Issues of the Company. Obama, is officially a Liberal. It says so, right there on his label.

Froomkin dared analyze the contents of the package where the children could read it.

That's why he was fired.

Learn Something New Every Day

Who owned 30% of the shares of BCCI?

Why Bank of America, of course.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Strategery to Checkmate

Avedon on the Mahler monologue below:

... I wouldn't have minded if he'd acknowledged that who Obama is trying to be popular with is conservatives and plutocrats, and that getting re-elected has nothing to with us, but with his corporate sponsors - but he made it sound like pushing for healthcare and putting the banks in their place was something that might stop the rest of us from wanting to vote for him. Obama's problem isn't that he's not enough like Bush, it's that he's too much like Bush, but he's better at it. He's been playing N-Demensional Chess, all right - but with his supporters, not the Republicans.

I think the chess game goes into dimensions the One doesn't appreciate.

I think he's just another hyperpawn on another board.

Speaking of pawns in someone's game:

...in the three years since the Army raised its age limit for enlisting to 42, from 35, a steady stream of older recruits has joined the ranks, pushing creaky muscles through road training, learning to appreciate — or at least endure — Army chow and in some cases deploying to combat zones.

And while the number of such recruits, more than 3,800, is small by Army standards, the pace of over-35 enlistment jumped sharply in the first months of this year... rising unemployment is also a major reason, say Army officials, recruiters and training officers.

It looks like the pieces are being set.

The stakes are being wagered, but the United States isn't the only one at the table:

YEKATERINBURG, Russia — Leaders of the four largest emerging market economies discussed ways to reduce their reliance on the United States at their first formal summit meeting on Tuesday. But they concluded with only a cautious statement suggesting a move away from the dollar’s role in global commerce and a call for greater representation of developing countries in global financial institutions.

By some predictions, the four nations, Brazil, Russia, India and China, a group referred to as the BRIC group, will surpass the current leading economies by the middle of this century, a tectonic shift that by this reckoning will eventually nudge the United States and Western Europe away from the center of world productivity and power...

In a sign of regional economic integration, China’s president, Hu Jintao, pledged $10 billion in aid to Central Asian nations in the group, which consists of China, Russia and four former Soviet states: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Mr. Hu and Mr. Medvedev then met separately with India’s prime minister, Manmohan Singh, and the Brazilian president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Mr. Medvedev encouraged China, the world’s largest holder of dollar reserves, and other nations to put their money in some other currency or financial mechanism. He also urged members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to use their national currencies in conducting bilateral trade.

“There can be no successful currency system, and particularly a global system, if the financial instruments that are used are denominated in only one currency,” Mr. Medvedev said. “Today, this is the case and the currency is the dollar.”

The last time a global economic crisis of this magnitude engulfed the world, it didn't end until the world economic war turned into real World War. It is, after all, traditional. One wonders who really is playing whom.

You can count on the Village, even its Elders and Headman, to only have the vaguest idea of any games beyond their own.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Now that you ask...

Avedon : "Why is it so hard for Democratic leaders to question Dick Cheney's motives?"

Because they're afraid to get anthrax love letters?

"...Steve Clemons said a well-connected Iranian met up with him to say he sees political killings ahead, aimed pretty much at all of the candidates and the Supreme Leader."

If you had McChrystal's commandos leaking into both sides of your borders and egging on riots in your streets, you might find all your candidates in an unprotected car in Dallas or taking short rides in small airplanes, too.

Still in the Woods

Dr. Krugman:

The debate over economic policy has taken a predictable yet ominous turn: the crisis seems to be easing, and a chorus of critics is already demanding that the Federal Reserve and the Obama administration abandon their rescue efforts. For those who know their history, it’s déjà vu all over again — literally.

For this is the third time in history that a major economy has found itself in a liquidity trap, a situation in which interest-rate cuts, the conventional way to perk up the economy, have reached their limit. When this happens, unconventional measures are the only way to fight recession.

Yet such unconventional measures make the conventionally minded uncomfortable, and they keep pushing for a return to normalcy. In previous liquidity-trap episodes, policy makers gave in to these pressures far too soon, plunging the economy back into crisis. And if the critics have their way, we’ll do the same thing this time.

The first example of policy in a liquidity trap comes from the 1930s. The U.S. economy grew rapidly from 1933 to 1937, helped along by New Deal policies. America, however, remained well short of full employment.

Yet policy makers stopped worrying about depression and started worrying about inflation. The Federal Reserve tightened monetary policy, while F.D.R. tried to balance the federal budget. Sure enough, the economy slumped again, and full recovery had to wait for World War II.

The second example is Japan in the 1990s. After slumping early in the decade, Japan experienced a partial recovery, with the economy growing almost 3 percent in 1996. Policy makers responded by shifting their focus to the budget deficit, raising taxes and cutting spending. Japan proceeded to slide back into recession.

And here we go again.

On one side, the inflation worriers are harassing the Fed. The latest example: Arthur Laffer, he of the curve, warns that the Fed’s policies will cause devastating inflation. He recommends, among other things, possibly raising banks’ reserve requirements, which happens to be exactly what the Fed did in 1936 and 1937 — a move that none other than Milton Friedman condemned as helping to strangle economic recovery.

Meanwhile, there are demands from several directions that President Obama’s fiscal stimulus plan be canceled.

Some, especially in Europe, argue that stimulus isn’t needed, because the economy is already turning around.

Others claim that government borrowing is driving up interest rates, and that this will derail recovery.

And Republicans, providing a bit of comic relief, are saying that the stimulus has failed, because the enabling legislation was passed four months ago — wow, four whole months! — yet unemployment is still rising. This suggests an interesting comparison with the economic record of Ronald Reagan, whose 1981 tax cut was followed by no less than 16 months of rising unemployment.

O.K., time for some reality checks.

First of all, while stock markets have been celebrating the economy’s “green shoots,” the fact is that unemployment is very high and still rising. That is, we’re not even experiencing the kind of growth that led to the big mistakes of 1937 and 1997. It’s way too soon to declare victory.

What about the claim that the Fed is risking inflation? It isn’t. Mr. Laffer seems panicked by a rapid rise in the monetary base, the sum of currency in circulation and the reserves of banks. But a rising monetary base isn’t inflationary when you’re in a liquidity trap. America’s monetary base doubled between 1929 and 1939; prices fell 19 percent. Japan’s monetary base rose 85 percent between 1997 and 2003; deflation continued apace.

Well then, what about all that government borrowing? All it’s doing is offsetting a plunge in private borrowing — total borrowing is down, not up. Indeed, if the government weren’t running a big deficit right now, the economy would probably be well on its way to a full-fledged depression.

Oh, and investors’ growing confidence that we’ll manage to avoid a full-fledged depression — not the pressure of government borrowing — explains the recent rise in long-term interest rates. These rates, by the way, are still low by historical standards. They’re just not as low as they were at the peak of the panic, earlier this year.

To sum up: A few months ago the U.S. economy was in danger of falling into depression. Aggressive monetary policy and deficit spending have, for the time being, averted that danger. And suddenly critics are demanding that we call the whole thing off, and revert to business as usual.

Those demands should be ignored. It’s much too soon to give up on policies that have, at most, pulled us a few inches back from the edge of the abyss.

What Paul Krugman doesn't address are the well-heeled Borks in the wings and the wanna be NeoFeudalist overlords pulling the Free Market strings.

Global economic catastrophe provides just the kind of backdrop they think they need to ramrod their socio-economice crusade through.

That many in the Obama administration are, to put it mildly, weak minded enough to submit to Sith Lord mind tricks is evident. But it goes beyond just following the Bu$h template for bailing out banksters without seriously restructuring the way banks can do business. A bailout for anyone but the likes of Goldman-Sachs isn't even on their radar screen.

The Obama administration has turned back pleas for emergency aid from one of the biggest remaining threats to the economy -- the state of California.

Top state officials have gone hat in hand to the administration, armed with dire warnings of a fast-approaching "fiscal meltdown" caused by a budget shortfall. Concern has grown inside the White House in recent weeks as California's fiscal condition has worsened, leading to high-level administration meetings. But federal officials are worried that a bailout of California would set off a cascade of demands from other states.

With an economy larger than Canada's or Brazil's, the state is too big to fail, California officials urge.

"This matters for the U.S., not just for California," said U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, who chairs the state's Democratic congressional delegation. "I can't speak for the president, but when you've got the 8th biggest economy in the world sitting as one of your 50 states, it's hard to see how the country recovers if that state does not..."

Let it crash and burn, thinks little Timmy and his Kool Prime Unit. They're ruled by the Governator's machine, anyway, right? How much did they contribute to the Party in 2008?

The Oborg have assimilated the Village. The perception is the reality they think, just like the minions of Dubya. Rahm Emmanuel is a leaner version of Karl Rove.

But that's been evident all along from some of the One's very first appointments. Look who's in charge of the Pentagon. The same people are pulling the strings in the Obama administration as the Bu$h administration. The major difference is now the Family is spared the spectacle of Poppy spanking his errant sonuvaBu$h.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Fair and Balanced Information Source

No surprise here:

...There you have it. The GOP messaging expert is advising both parties. No wonder everyone is selling conservative tropes and propaganda and nobody even knows what liberalism really is...

Well, some of us know what it really isn't:

..."The Afghan people are in the centre of our mission. In reality, they are the mission. We must protect them from violence whatever its nature," General McChrystal said at the headquarters of NATO's International Security Assistance Force...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Because if you knew about it you might not let it kill you

Here's an interesting twist on National Security:

Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) is calling on U.S. EPA to reveal the confidential locations of dozens of coal ash impoundment sites considered dangerous.

Speaking with reporters this morning, Boxer said EPA has determined that at least 44 of the hundreds of coal ash piles identified across the country pose a "high hazard," meaning they could threaten human life if they fail -- like an impoundment that collapsed at a Tennessee Valley Authority facility late last year. The agency collected the information on the locations from the utility companies that operate the ash disposal sites.

...But Boxer said EPA told her the agency could not reveal the location of these 44 sites, due to concerns from the Department of Homeland Security and the Army Corps of Engineers about national security, a decision Boxer finds unsettling.

"If these sites are so hazardous, and if the neighborhoods nearby could be harmed irreparably, then I believe it is essential to let people know," she said. "I think secrecy might lead to inaction."

Boxer and her committee staff have been informed of the locations of the sites, and she was permitted to inform only the senators whose states have the high hazard sites about their locations, she said...

Oh yes, tell the other Senators about it.

One is sure they'll tell their constituents, kind of like the way Senators were told all about torture and told everyone.

But that Barbara Boxer sure knows how to tell a joke:

...Boxer dismissed suggestions that there may be a need for a bill to mandate tougher regulations on coal ash storage, because she was confident EPA would do it on its own.

"They don't need legislation if they do their job," she said.

"Right now, I'm hoping for a little more audacity..."


It was a very good year

What's all this Great Recession silliness to the Company?

In contrast with civilian aerospace and airlines, the defence industry remains healthy.

"The global financial crisis has yet to have an impact on major arms companies' revenues, profits and order backlogs," Sipri said.

Peace-keeping operations - which also benefit defence firms - rose 11%.

Missions were launched in trouble spots such as Darfur and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

"Another record was set, with the total of international peace operation personnel reaching 187,586," said Sipri, or Stockholm International Peace Research Institute...

...The top 10 global arms producers

Boeing $30.5bn
BAE Systems $29.9bn
Lockheed Martin $29.4bn
Northrop Grumman$24.6bn
General Dynamics $21.5bn
Raytheon $19.5bn
EADS (West Europe) $13.1bn
L-3 Communications $11.2bn
Finmeccanica $9.9bn
Thales $9.4bn

...The top 10 military spenders

USA $607bn
China $84.9bn
France $65.74bn
UK $65.35bn
Russia $58.6bn
Germany $46.87bn
Japan $46.38bn
Italy $40.69bn
Saudi Arabia $38.2bn
India $30.0bn

High levels of military spending can cause economic difficulties for even the wealthiest of nations, Sipri insisted.

"During the eight-year presidency of George W Bush, US military expenditure increased to the highest level in real terms since World War Two," Sipri said.

"This increase has contributed to soaring budget deficits," the yearbook states, pointing to how both the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts were funded "primarily through emergency supplemental appropriations outside the regular budgetary process", funded by borrowing.

"Arms companies may face reduced demand in the future if governments cut military spending in response to rising budget deficits," Sipri observed.

There's no worry about that. Lyndon Baines Obama never saw a campaign donor he couldn't Change for.

Drawing a blank

Over the past month the Sun's visible surface has been almost blank, just one or two sunspot groups the entire time (May 10 - June 10, 2009). The video clip, composed of about 4 images per day for the month, shows the rotating Sun as seen by SOHO's MDI instrument. Without sunspots, it is rather hard to see the rotation. The Sun has been quiet for almost two years, the longest period of solar minimum in about 100 years. Though there have been a few indications that activity is soon to pick up, the Sun is dawdling along in terms of solar activity: no sunspots for over 126 days this year.

Anthony Watts hosts an essay about this from William Livingston and M. Penn at the National Solar Observatory here.

The norm:

The best we've got now:

Let's suggest here we might be into some seriously cold summer if it wasn't for the dreaded greenhouse effect.


Surely, the banksters all say, Wall Street has recovered now that the Feds are bankrolling the high rolling speculators.

That's reason enough to think about ending the efforts at economic stimulation, says Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

In other words, the banksters all say: We've got ours, thank you very much.

Just a reminder you aren't the center of the galaxy

This, however, is.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

If the AEI backs it, you know it's a scam

It's not reassuring to see one of Al Gore's worst ideas to modify the climate taken up by the American Enterprise Institute.

And, alas the National Academy of Sciences.

The evidence for increased CO2 increasing the global temperature is solid enough. Complicating the picture is the other solid fact: we live under a highly variable star. Twenty thousand years ago a sheet of ice a mile thick covered North America north of the Ohio river.

There may be one thing keeping it from happening again: the greenhouse effect.

During the last thousand years there was an episode of massive global cooling: the Little Ice Age.

It ended at the onset of the industrial age. About the time CO2 emissions increased.

I don't know. But dimming the sun to control global warming is totally irrational, given the complexity of the problem and the clear lack of understanding anyone has about the issue.

And for the AEI to support geoengineering initiatives? That's a bad, bad sign.

Now it all makes sense

During the Bu$h years, many people said this:

..."I just wake up in the morning and tell myself, 'There's been a military coup,' and then it all makes sense," said one veteran foreign service officer.

But there's another explanation for things that might work better these days...

Destroying Liberty to Save It

Another balloon from the D.o'D. in The New York Pravda about how we're just going to have to get rid of all this Constitutional nonsense to be $ecure.

WASHINGTON — A plan to create a new Pentagon cybercommand is raising significant privacy and diplomatic concerns, as the Obama administration moves ahead on efforts to protect the nation from cyberattack and to prepare for possible offensive operations against adversaries’ computer networks.

...Much of the new military command’s work is expected to be carried out by the National Security Agency, whose role in intercepting the domestic end of international calls and e-mail messages after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, under secret orders issued by the Bush administration, has already generated intense controversy.

There is simply no way, the officials say, to effectively conduct computer operations without entering networks inside the United States, where the military is prohibited from operating, or traveling electronic paths through countries that are not themselves American targets.

The cybersecurity effort, Mr. Obama said at the White House last month, “will not — I repeat, will not — include monitoring private sector networks or Internet traffic.”

But foreign adversaries often mount their attacks through computer network hubs inside the United States, and military officials and outside experts say that threat confronts the Pentagon and the administration with difficult questions.

Military officials say there may be a need to intercept and examine some e-mail messages sent from other countries to guard against computer viruses or potential terrorist action. Advocates say the process could ultimately be accepted as the digital equivalent of customs inspections, in which passengers arriving from overseas consent to have their luggage opened for security, tax and health reasons.

“The government is in a quandary,” said Maren Leed, a defense expert at the bipartisan Center for Strategic and International Studies who was a Pentagon special assistant on cyberoperations from 2005 to 2008.

Ms. Leed said a broad debate was needed “about what constitutes an intrusion that violates privacy and, at the other extreme, what is an intrusion that may be acceptable in the face of an act of war.”

In a recent speech, Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a chief architect of the new cyberstrategy, acknowledged that a major unresolved issue was how the military — which would include the National Security Agency, where much of the cyberwar expertise resides — could legally set up an early warning system.

Unlike a missile attack, which would show up on the Pentagon’s screens long before reaching American territory, a cyberattack may be visible only after it has been launched in the United States.

“How do you understand sovereignty in the cyberdomain?” General Cartwright asked. “It doesn’t tend to pay a lot of attention to geographic boundaries.”

For example, the daily attacks on the Pentagon’s own computer systems, or probes sent from Russia, China and Eastern Europe seeking chinks in the computer systems of corporations and financial institutions, are rarely seen before their effect is felt inside the United States.

Some administration officials have begun to discuss whether laws or regulations must be changed to allow law enforcement, the military or intelligence agencies greater access to networks or Internet providers when significant evidence of a national security threat was found.

Ms. Leed said that while the Defense Department and related intelligence agencies were the only organizations that had the ability to protect against such cyberattacks, “they are not the best suited, from a civil liberties perspective, to take on that responsibility.”

Under plans being completed at the Pentagon, the new cybercommand will be run by a four-star general, much the way Gen. David H. Petraeus runs the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq from Central Command in Tampa, Fla. But the expectation is that whoever is in charge of the new command will also direct the National Security Agency, an effort to solve the turf war between the spy agency and the military over who is in charge of conducting offensive operations.

While the N.S.A.’s job is chiefly one of detection and monitoring, the agency also possesses what Michael D. McConnell, the former director of national intelligence, called “the critical skill set” to respond quickly to cyberattacks. Yet the Defense Department views cyberspace as its domain as well, a new battleground after land, sea, air and space.

The complications are not limited to privacy concerns. The Pentagon is increasingly worried about the diplomatic ramifications of being forced to use the computer networks of many other nations while carrying out digital missions — the computer equivalent of the Vietnam War’s spilling over the Cambodian border in the 1960s. To battle Russian hackers, for example, it might be necessary to act through the virtual cyberterritory of Britain or Germany or any country where the attack was routed.

General Cartwright said military planners were trying to write rules of engagement for scenarios in which a cyberattack was launched from a neutral country that might have no idea what was going on. But, with time of the essence, it may not be possible, the scenarios show, to ask other nations to act against an attack that is flowing through their computers in milliseconds.

Frida Berrigan, a longtime peace activist who is a senior program associate at the New America Foundation’s arms and security initiative, expressed concerns about whether the Obama administration would be able to balance its promise to respect privacy in cyberspace even as it appeared to be militarizing cybersecurity.

“Obama was very deliberate in saying that the U.S. military and the U.S. government would not be looking at our e-mail and not tracking what we do online,” Ms. Berrigan said. “This is not to say there is not a cyberthreat out there or that cyberterrorism is not a significant concern. We should be vigilant and creative. But once again we see the Pentagon being put at the heart of it and at front lines of offering a solution.”

Ms. Berrigan said that just as the counterinsurgency wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had proved that “there is no front line anymore, and no demilitarized zone anymore, then if the Pentagon and the military services see cyberspace as a battlefield domain, then the lines protecting privacy and our civil liberties get blurred very, very quickly.”

Under Dubya, the cowboys were always arrogant enough to give you something clear to argue about. Dubya or Rummy or Darth Cheney would make an obvious statement dismissive of civil liberties, and that would be that. Obama's full of Hope and Change, though. He says he'll close the Iraqi torture prisons shortly before someone sends an assassin to kill the Iraqi cleric trying to close them.

Not that he had anything to do with that.

He's says he'll end the War on Terror. He does this by renaming it and expanding troops in Afghanistan and Iraq to end the War on Terror. He does this by putting a man Rumsfeld appointed to conduct "targeted executions" in Iraq in charge of the Af-Pak theater.

Not that he can help that.

He'll close Gitmo, and avoid an ugly debate about Amerikan torture, by allowing the tortured to plead guilty and be executed before they can come to trial.

He's just protecting us.

In regards to privacy, one can't help but wonder just how much the Bu$h era NSA's information gathering had to do with the choice of Robert Gates for continued Secretary of Defense, or Petraeus Caesar for the head of CentCom, or Stanley McChrystal for control of the Af-Pak war.

Not that I'm saying anything here.

As usual, it depends on what the definition of "is" is.

The realistic solutions depend on how reality is defined and who's writing the dictionary.

Friday, June 12, 2009

You Might Be, In Such a Country

Arthur Silber:

...When Bush and the conservatives made these arguments, liberals and progressives couldn't condemn them quickly or harshly enough. But now that we have a Democratic president and Congress, the prospect of censorship is not only fine -- it is the goal. After all, if you "reject government authority entirely," or if you even "reject federal authority in favor of state or local authority," YOU MIGHT GET PEOPLE KILLED. You're obviously a terrorist, or at least a terrorist sympathizer -- even if you reject the initiation of violence by anyone in any circumstances...

...I'm on the road, in a strange country; by all appearances, a fragile, brittle, frightened land, where the natives must be told every day -- and preferably every hour -- by every means possible how wonderful they are, how good, how righteous, how deserving and important, how unquestionably, uncritically, purely and simply (oh so simply) special they are in every way.

A land where cleavage-popping babes adorn forty-foot billboards for bail bonding companies. Where pasty realtors and corn-starched pols gather to pledge allegiance to the Confederate flag, and cranky predestinarians sketch flowcharts of salvation on basement whiteboards in the wee hours of the night. A land where fine dining establishments politely ask patrons to check their weapons at the door, and thunka-thunka country hunks lob self-regarding bombast through the wastelands and broadbands of suburbia. A land scoop-gutted, a land of simulacra, of empty gesture and thin masquerade.

A land where only weather, only nature in its patches and adaptations, only the grass and earth that enclose the heartrendered dead can still convey the tang of deep reality that once flourished here. I am at present lost in such a country...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A need to know basis


For 15 years, scientists have benefited from data gleaned by U.S. classified satellites of natural fireball events in Earth's atmosphere – but no longer.

A recent U.S. military policy decision now explicitly states that observations by hush-hush government spacecraft of incoming bolides and fireballs are classified secret and are not to be released, SPACE.com has learned.

The satellites' main objectives include detecting nuclear bomb tests, and their characterizations of asteroids and lesser meteoroids as they crash through the atmosphere has been a byproduct data bonanza for scientists.

The upshot: Space rocks that explode in the atmosphere are now classified.

"It's baffling to us why this would suddenly change," said one scientist familiar with the work. "It's unfortunate because there was this great synergy...a very good cooperative arrangement. Systems were put into dual-use mode where a lot of science was getting done that couldn't be done any other way. It's a regrettable change in policy."

Scientists say not only will research into the threat from space be hampered, but public understanding of sometimes dramatic sky explosions will be diminished...

Why? If they told someone of your security clearance, they'd have to kill you. It's basically why there will never be a civilian space program as long as the D.o'D. and the Company run Amerika. Obviously, someone from the D.o'D. saw this pic

and got around to playing with this program to see what would have happened if it had actually hit.

No Public Option because the public wants it

Senator Grassley ... said that he was against the public option because a think tank study told him around a hundred and nineteen million people would opt out of private health insurance and join it.

In fact, we elected a President in 2008 who told his adoring assimilated "Everybody in, nobody out" .

Trillions for banksters, but not for the sick and the poor. That's Change and Change back again!

Oh, and things are looking up, except, you know for most of us lucky duckies.

The Genotype on the Label

It would be one thing to genetically modify food to increase its nutrient value. You can be sure this is the last thing on the Company's mind. When Monsanto's not trying to ensure sterility in their seed- in every seed sold, Monsanto's engineering in pesticides.

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine issued a paper recently that the main$tream pretty much buried:

According to the World Health Organization, Genetically Modified Organisms(GMOs) are "organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in such a way that does not occur naturally."1 This technology is also referred to as "genetic engineering", "biotechnology" or "recombinant DNA technology" and consists of randomly inserting genetic fragments of DNA from one organism to another, usually from a different species. For example, an artificial combination of genes that includes a gene to produce the pesticide Cry1Ab protein (commonly known as Bt toxin), originally found in Bacillus thuringiensis, is inserted in to the DNA of corn randomly. Both the location of the transferred gene sequence in the corn DNA and the consequences of the insertion differ with each insertion. The plant cells that have taken up the inserted gene are then grown in a lab using tissue culture and/or nutrient medium that allows them to develop into plants that are used to grow GM food crops.2

Natural breeding processes have been safely utilized for the past several thousand years. In contrast, "GE crop technology abrogates natural reproductive processes, selection occurs at the single cell level, the procedure is highly mutagenic and routinely breeches genera barriers, and the technique has only been used commercially for 10 years."3

Despite these differences, safety assessment of GM foods has been based on the idea of "substantial equivalence" such that "if a new food is found to be substantially equivalent in composition and nutritional characteristics to an existing food, it can be regarded as safe as the conventional food."4 However, several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food consumption including infertility, immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol synthesis, insulin regulation, cell signaling, and protein formation, and changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal system.

There is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects. There is causation as defined by Hill's Criteria in the areas of strength of association, consistency, specificity, biological gradient, and biological plausibility.5 The strength of association and consistency between GM foods and disease is confirmed in several animal studies.2,6,7,8,9,10,11

Specificity of the association of GM foods and specific disease processes is also supported. Multiple animal studies show significant immune dysregulation, including upregulation of cytokines associated with asthma, allergy, and inflammation. 6,11 Animal studies also show altered structure and function of the liver, including altered lipid and carbohydrate metabolism as well as cellular changes that could lead to accelerated aging and possibly lead to the accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). 7,8,10 Changes in the kidney, pancreas and spleen have also been documented. 6,8,10 A recent 2008 study links GM corn with infertility, showing a significant decrease in offspring over time and significantly lower litter weight in mice fed GM corn.8 This study also found that over 400 genes were found to be expressed differently in the mice fed GM corn. These are genes known to control protein synthesis and modification, cell signaling, cholesterol synthesis, and insulin regulation. Studies also show intestinal damage in animals fed GM foods, including proliferative cell growth9 and disruption of the intestinal immune system.6

Regarding biological gradient, one study, done by Kroghsbo, et al., has shown that rats fed transgenic Bt rice trended to a dose related response for Bt specific IgA. 11

Also, because of the mounting data, it is biologically plausible for Genetically Modified Foods to cause adverse health effects in humans.

In spite of this risk, the biotechnology industry claims that GM foods can feed the world through production of higher crop yields. However, a recent report by the Union of Concerned Scientists reviewed 12 academic studies and indicates otherwise: "The several thousand field trials over the last 20 years for genes aimed at increasing operational or intrinsic yield (of crops) indicate a significant undertaking. Yet none of these field trials have resulted in increased yield in commercialized major food/feed crops, with the exception of Bt corn."12 However, it was further stated that this increase is largely due to traditional breeding improvements.

Therefore, because GM foods pose a serious health risk in the areas of toxicology, allergy and immune function, reproductive health, and metabolic, physiologic and genetic health and are without benefit, the AAEM believes that it is imperative to adopt the precautionary principle, which is one of the main regulatory tools of the European Union environmental and health policy and serves as a foundation for several international agreements.13 The most commonly used definition is from the 1992 Rio Declaration that states: "In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation."13

Another often used definition originated from an environmental meeting in the United States in 1998 stating: "When an activity raises threats to the environment or human health, precautionary measures should be taken, even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically. In this context, the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof (of the safety of the activity)."13

With the precautionary principle in mind, because GM foods have not been properly tested for human consumption, and because there is ample evidence of probable harm, the AAEM asks:

* Physicians to educate their patients, the medical community, and the public to avoid GM foods when possible and provide educational materials concerning GM foods and health risks.

* Physicians to consider the possible role of GM foods in the disease processes of the patients they treat and to document any changes in patient health when changing from GM food to non-GM food.

* Our members, the medical community, and the independent scientific community to gather case studies potentially related to GM food consumption and health effects, begin epidemiological research to investigate the role of GM foods on human health, and conduct safe methods of determining the effect of GM foods on human health.

* For a moratorium on GM food, implementation of immediate long term independent safety testing, and labeling of GM foods, which is necessary for the health and safety of consumers.

(This statement was reviewed and approved by the Executive Committee of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine on May 8, 2009.)

Submitted by Amy Dean, D.O. and Jennifer Armstrong, M.D.

Bibliography: Genetically Modified Foods Position Paper AAEM

1. World Health Organization. (Internet).(2002). Foods derived from modern technology: 20 questions on genetically modified foods. Available from: http://www.who.int/foodsafety/publications/biotech/20questions/en/index.html

2. Smith, JM. Genetic Roulette. Fairfield: Yes Books.2007. p.10

3. Freese W, Schubert D. Safety testing and regulation of genetically engineered foods. Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering Reviews. Nov 2004. 21.

4. Society of Toxicology. The safety of genetically modified foods produced through biotechnology. Toxicol. Sci. 2003; 71:2-8.

5. Hill, AB. The environment and disease: association or causation? Proceeding of the Royal Society of Medicine 1965; 58:295-300.

6. Finamore A, Roselli M, Britti S, et al. Intestinal and peripheral immune response to MON 810 maize ingestion in weaning and old mice. J Agric. Food Chem. 2008; 56(23):11533-11539.

7. Malatesta M, Boraldi F, Annovi G, et al. A long-term study on female mice fed on a genetically modified soybean:effects on liver ageing. Histochem Cell Biol. 2008; 130:967-977.

8. Velimirov A, Binter C, Zentek J. Biological effects of transgenic maize NK603xMON810 fed in long term reproduction studies in mice. Report-Federal Ministry of Health, Family and Youth. 2008.

9. Ewen S, Pustzai A. Effects of diets containing genetically modified potatoes expressing Galanthus nivalis lectin on rat small intestine.Lancet. 354:1353-1354.

10. Kilic A, Aday M. A three generational study with genetically modified Bt corn in rats: biochemical and histopathological investigation. Food Chem. Toxicol. 2008; 46(3):1164-1170.

11. Kroghsbo S, Madsen C, Poulsen M, et al. Immunotoxicological studies of genetically modified rice expression PHA-E lectin or Bt toxin in Wistar rats. Toxicology. 2008; 245:24-34.

12. Gurain-Sherman,D. 2009. Failure to yield: evaluating the performance of genetically engineered crops. Cambridge (MA): Union of Concerned Scientists.

13. Lofstedt R. The precautionary principle: risk, regulation and politics. Merton College, Oxford. 2002.