Monday, December 31, 2007
December 31, 2007
Looking at America
There are too many moments these days when we cannot recognize our country. Sunday was one of them, as we read the account in The Times of how men in some of the most trusted posts in the nation plotted to cover up the torture of prisoners by Central Intelligence Agency interrogators by destroying videotapes of their sickening behavior. It was impossible to see the founding principles of the greatest democracy in the contempt these men and their bosses showed for the Constitution, the rule of law and human decency.
It was not the first time in recent years we’ve felt this horror, this sorrowful sense of estrangement, not nearly. This sort of lawless behavior has become standard practice since Sept. 11, 2001.
The country and much of the world was rightly and profoundly frightened by the single-minded hatred and ingenuity displayed by this new enemy. But there is no excuse for how President Bush and his advisers panicked — how they forgot that it is their responsibility to protect American lives and American ideals, that there really is no safety for Americans or their country when those ideals are sacrificed.
Out of panic and ideology, President Bush squandered America’s position of moral and political leadership, swept aside international institutions and treaties, sullied America’s global image, and trampled on the constitutional pillars that have supported our democracy through the most terrifying and challenging times. These policies have fed the world’s anger and alienation and have not made any of us safer.
In the years since 9/11, we have seen American soldiers abuse, sexually humiliate, torment and murder prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq. A few have been punished, but their leaders have never been called to account. We have seen mercenaries gun down Iraqi civilians with no fear of prosecution. We have seen the president, sworn to defend the Constitution, turn his powers on his own citizens, authorizing the intelligence agencies to spy on Americans, wiretapping phones and intercepting international e-mail messages without a warrant.
We have read accounts of how the government’s top lawyers huddled in secret after the attacks in New York and Washington and plotted ways to circumvent the Geneva Conventions — and both American and international law — to hold anyone the president chose indefinitely without charges or judicial review.
Those same lawyers then twisted other laws beyond recognition to allow Mr. Bush to turn intelligence agents into torturers, to force doctors to abdicate their professional oaths and responsibilities to prepare prisoners for abuse, and then to monitor the torment to make sure it didn’t go just a bit too far and actually kill them. @ TNYT
This editorial should be shown to every man and woman in the US!
Wake up America! You have been hijacked and are being flown on a one way trip to economic and social hell, it is too late to change anything, resistance is futile.
Or is it?
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Heaven help us if cats take over the world!
Time to switch browsers:
The browser that started it all is going the way of the dodo.
Tom Drapeau, AOL's director of the Netscape brand, announced in a blog post Friday that AOL will cease development on all Netscape web browsers on February 1, 2008. The company will continue to support the current version of the browser, Netscape 9, by releasing patches or security fixes until that date. After February 1, all development will stop.
Drapeau recommends that anyone running a Netscape-branded browser make the switch to Mozilla Firefox, the open-source browser upon which the last few versions of Netscape have been based.
"AOL's focus on transitioning to an ad-supported web business leaves little room for the size of investment needed to get the Netscape browser to a point many of its fans expect it to be," he writes. "Given AOL's current business focus and the success the Mozilla Foundation has had in developing critically-acclaimed products, we feel it's the right time to end development of Netscape branded browsers, hand the reigns fully to Mozilla and encourage Netscape users to adopt Firefox."
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Trust is dead.
To compensate, we have tried regulating the behavior of commerce, finance and nearly every aspect of life. Some on the religious right want to force married people to keep their vows and some on the secular left want to write enough laws that trust isn’t necessary because it is replaced by government control.
The followers of Milton Friedman would have us believe we can trust in the “market” to right all wrongs, despite the complete failure in each and every instance where this philosophy has been tried. Karl Marx would have had us trust in the communal conscience to deliver the ultimate good, but again, each and every instance in which it has been tried has failed.
Good essay from Phil Hoskins that sums up my thoughts exactly.
Liars cheats and thieves have gained way more control than they deserve and the rest of the honest folks get screwed. Whether it can be described as evil remains to be seen but meanwhile good takes a backseat to bad and there is no end in sight.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Carey and Brandon wish everyone Happy Holidays!!
I took a picture of myself but the camera broke so I took the hint instead and gave up.
Besides she is a lot cuter and he is more handsome anyway, maybe next year. Thanks Carey for sharing your holiday season with us all here at DWF!
5 days left in 2007 including what is left of this one, then the fine champagne will flow across the world, fireworks, and a ball drop in NYC will be signaling an end to 2007.
I would do a year in review but to me it is just too depressing to look back. Let it be said that 2007 was the year of people in charge of things that had no business being in charge of anything.
Finding a silver lining became more difficult for those seeking reassurance. Finding anything that made sense followed the same path.
Looking forward brings more hope for a real change with 2008 being an election year. Whether said election brings forward any representative government with the stones to correct 8 years of faulty rule by a tin-horn dictator remains to be seen. My hopes have been dashed on the rocks so many time already their barely recognizable anyway.
Hope for peace in the world among all it's inhabitants and hopefully we can stem the Global Warming tide.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Cheney Repeatedly Met With Auto Execs Before White House Killed California’s Emissions Law
Before EPA administrator Stephen L. Johnson “answered the pleas of industry executives” by announcing his “decision to deny California the right to regulate greenhouse gases from vehicles,” auto executives directly appealed to Vice President Cheney. EPA staffers told the LA Times that Johnson “made his decision” only after Cheney met with the executives.
On multiple occasions in October and November, Cheney and White House staff members met with industry executives, including the CEOs of Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler. At the meetings, the executives objected to California’s proposed fuel economy standards:
In meetings in October with Mr. Cheney and sessions with White House staff members, auto executives made clear that they were concerned not just about the fuel economy measures in the bill but also about the California proposal for stricter emissions standards.
Johnson explained his decision to thwart California by saying that the new energy bill, which the auto industry supported and President Bush signed into law on Wednesday, “made the proposed California standards unnecessary.” One EPA staffer says Johnson’s decision was part of Cheney’s deal with the industry execs brokered at the meetings:
“Clearly the White House said, ‘We’re going to get EPA out of the way and get California out of the way. If you give us this energy bill, then we’re done, the deal is done,’” said one staffer.
@ Think Progress
Now doesn't that just make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?
Fascism does funny things to people, letting them get away with otherwise illegal activities like circumventing States intentions to make the air cleaner. Serving ones fellow BIG OIL corporate cronies is far more important than say, clean air.
And you thought all those stories about 100mpg carburetor inventors being silenced were BS. Ah not so fast, we have BIG OIL in charge now and there WILL NOT be any interference with their BIG MONEY grubbing.
Deadeye Dick said so.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
I thought the other pic needed to go, it went.
Frenzied flurry of flying wrapping paper as new goodies make their way into the households of America.
For the folks stuck outside in the urban wilderness, hoping the holidays bring something good into your lives.
Enjoy the day because you will have to wait another year to do it all over again.
WISHING EVERYONE ON THE PLANET HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
Monday, December 24, 2007
Small Town Christmas
Once upon a time the world was a better place, a poorer but happier place.
The cold blustery winds of fall had turned into the winds of winter and small towns celebrated the upcoming season of Christmas. The time for thoughts of warmth and coziness, a time for gathering together families.
The vapors could be seen rising from every chimney, the trees bare branches clattered in the breeze. The night cold had settled upon the town like an blanket forcing all to succumb to the chill. It was Christmas Eve.
The night it would seem was magic alight,
for Santa was coming tonight.
For all the good children a reward would soon appear,
a jolly old man and nine tiny reindeer.
So into your beds and cover up tight,
for Santa to come, you must stay out of sight.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Months before I wrote my 1,000 dollar Christmas check to Ann and Alex, I spent most of my summer vacation on their land in the Chilcotin area of British Columbia. What an experience! My sister and I thought we had died and gone to heaven. We rode horseback everyday. We carded the wool to make horse blankets. We picked berries by the gallons. We went into the woods with Ann, who was a better hunter than her husband Alex, in search of enough meat to see them through the winter. Ann toted the gun, not us for god's sakes. We looked the other way and cringed when she raised the rifle to her shoulder. We knew what was coming, even though we had no clue there was a deer within sight. Ann knew.
Ann was from the Chilcotin tribe and Alex from the Bella Coola. Long before they met, maybe fell in love, and married, the Chilcotins and the Bella Coolas and the Shuswaps battled each other over -- what else? -- territory. But, that's not my story....
We learned a lot from Ann and Alex. I'll make this short. We adored them. They had really interesting friends. The game warden was all spit and polish. There was the guy who bought the bull for breeding that couldn't swim. The bull drowned before he got him to his ranch. There was Slim (yes, that was his name!) who bathed in Spain Lake, but not often we could tell when he'd come close. He rubbed his back on the tree trunks when he came out of the lake. We spied on him. There was the British fellow with the limp who ran the roadhouse at Alexis Creek. He put us up for couple of nights when Ann and Alex forgot they had a couple of charges to look after and went off to what they did in town when we had all gone into Williams Lake for supplies. The game warden took us to Jack-with-the-limp, and said "keep these girls until Ann and Alex come back through."
Jack said okay. The first night we were there while Jack was figuring out what to do with us, we were scared out of our minds. In the "licensed premises" (where legally, we weren't allowed), he told us to "sit over there and don't pay any attention to anyone." So, we did. After a while, we had to go to the bathroom. What we took to be the bathrooms said "Pointers" and "Setters" -- my sister, who was older, thought the pointers were the women because "they point out what has to be done." I wasn't sure about that. Finally, a guy got up from the bar and shuffled into the "pointers" and we knew the answer. What a relief!
We had many adventures. Too many to relate in this Christmas story.
Christmas, that year, I took a check from my mother's checkbook and wrote a $1,000 check to Ann and Alex. This was pre-electronic banking, bar codes, etc.
On the check, in that small but very consequential area stating the purpose of the check, I wrote, "1,000 CHRISTMAS WISHES AND 1,000 WISHES FOR A HAPPY NEW YEAR." Put it into an envelope, stamped it, and put it in the mail. Boy! Wouldn't they get a kick out of this, I thought. Pretty clever, Mick!
Well, they deposited the check into their account at the Royal Bank of Canada! I never thought they'd think a 12-YO would have the means to write a REAL $1,000 check! Some time later, after Ann and Alex had thought they had died and gone to heaven, my dad got a phone call from his bank. Stuff hit the fan, I'll tell you! I was in capital-T trouble.
That day our family got a Christmas card and a thank you note from Ann and Alex. Alex said the money made it possible for them to travel to see his mother for the first time in years. They just hadn't had the money. His mother was old and sick.
My dad softened and told me, "Well, you made them happy and gave them a great Christmas. Christmas is about giving. But, you are going to be working this off for months!"
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Zapatista Code Red
by Naomi Klein
December 20, 2007
Nativity scenes are plentiful in San Cristóbal de las Casas, a colonial city in the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico. But the one that greets visitors at the entrance to the TierrAdentro cultural center has a local twist: figurines on donkeys wear miniature ski masks and carry wooden guns.
It is high season for "Zapatourism," the industry of international travelers that has sprung up around the indigenous uprising here, and TierrAdentro is ground zero. Zapatista-made weavings, posters and jewelry are selling briskly. In the courtyard restaurant, where the mood at 10 pm is festive verging on fuzzy, college students drink Sol beer. A young man holds up a photograph of Subcomandante Marcos, as always in mask with pipe, and kisses it. His friends snap yet another picture of this most documented of movements.
I am taken through the revelers to a room in the back of the center, closed to the public. The somber mood here seems a world away. Ernesto Ledesma Arronte, a 40-year-old ponytailed researcher, is hunched over military maps and human rights incident reports. "Did you understand what Marcos said?" he asks me. "It was very strong. He hasn't said anything like that in many years."
Arronte is referring to a speech Marcos made the night before at a conference outside San Cristóbal. The speech was titled "Feeling Red: The Calendar and the Geography of War." Because it was Marcos, it was poetic and slightly elliptical. But to Arronte's ears, it was a code-red alert. "Those of us who have made war know how to recognize the paths by which it is prepared and brought near," Marcos said. "The signs of war on the horizon are clear. War, like fear, also has a smell. And now we are starting to breathe its fetid odor in our lands."
Marcos's assessment supports what Arronte and his fellow researchers at the Center of Political Analysis and Social and Economic Investigations have been tracking with their maps and charts. On the fifty-six permanent military bases that the Mexican state runs on indigenous land in Chiapas, there has been a marked increase in activity. Weapons and equipment are being dramatically upgraded, new battalions are moving in, including special forces--all signs of escalation.
As the Zapatistas became a global symbol for a new model of resistance, it was possible to forget that the war in Chiapas never actually ended. For his part, Marcos--despite his clandestine identity--has been playing a defiantly open role in Mexican politics, most notably during the fiercely contested 2006 presidential elections. Rather than endorsing the center-left candidate, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, he spearheaded a parallel "Other Campaign," holding rallies that called attention to issues ignored by the major candidates.
In this period, Marcos's role as military leader of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) seemed to fade into the background. He was Delegate Zero--the anti-candidate. Last night, Marcos had announced that the conference would be his last such appearance for some time. "Look, the EZLN is an army," he reminded his audience, and he is its "military chief."
That army faces a grave new threat--one that cuts to the heart of the Zapatistas' struggle. During the 1994 uprising, the EZLN claimed large stretches of land and collectivized them, its most tangible victory. In the San Andrés Accords, the right to territory was recognized, but the Mexican government has refused to fully ratify the accords. After failing to enshrine these rights, the Zapatistas decided to turn them into facts on the ground. They formed their own government structures--called good-government councils--and stepped up the building of autonomous schools and clinics. As the Zapatistas expand their role as the de facto government in large areas of Chiapas, the federal and state governments' determination to undermine them is intensifying.
"Now," says Arronte, "they have their method." The method is to use the deep desire for land among all peasants in Chiapas against the Zapatistas. Arronte's organization has documented that, in just one region, the government has spent approximately $16 million expropriating land and giving it to many families linked to the notoriously corrupt Institutional Revolutionary Party. Often, the land is already occupied by Zapatista families. Most ominously, many of the new "owners" are linked to thuggish paramilitary groups, which are trying to force the Zapatistas from the newly titled land. Since September there has been a marked escalation of violence: shots fired into the air, brutal beatings, Zapatista families reporting being threatened with death, rape and dismemberment. Soon the soldiers in their barracks may well have the excuse they need to descend: restoring "peace" among feuding indigenous groups. For months the Zapatistas have been resisting violence and trying to expose these provocations. But by choosing not to line up behind Obrador in the 2006 election, the movement made powerful enemies. And now, says Marcos, their calls for help are being met with a deafening silence.
Exactly ten years ago, on December 22, 1997, the Acteal massacre took place. As part of the anti-Zapatista campaign, a paramilitary gang opened fire in a small church in the village of Acteal, killing forty-five indigenous people, sixteen of them children and adolescents. Some bodies were hacked with machetes. The state police heard the gunfire and did nothing. For weeks now, Mexico's newspapers have been filled with articles marking the tragic ten-year anniversary of the massacre.
In Chiapas, however, many people point out that conditions today feel eerily familiar: the paramilitaries, the rising tensions, the mysterious activities of the soldiers, the renewed isolation from the rest of the country. And they have a plea to those who supported them in the past: don't just look back. Look forward, and prevent another Acteal massacre before it happens.
It seems there is no shortage of humans wanting to kill other humans for whatever reason they can come up with.
In this supposed season of peace the carnage continues among the members of the human race just as if the holiday season does not exist at all. These killing ways must cease and negotiation for peace must begin.
I guess I could pound the keyboard till my fingers bled to no avail. Humanity it appears is doomed to extinction unless there are changes made in the way we deal with those that disagree with us and those that seek to bring an end to our existence on Earth by producing massive amounts of suffocating toxins.
This holiday season brings us even closer to our own demise with a typical capitalistic, consumptive twist along with terror and death in our own neighborhoods.
So it is, we continue the denial of reality for a few short days and wish for a better world, if only it could be.
Friday, December 21, 2007
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Is Washington burning?
December 20, 2007 - 7:13am.
What did Cheney know and when did he burn the evidence?
By DOUG THOMPSON
The mysterious fire in the Old Executive Office Building on the White House grounds sent conspiracy theorists into overdrive Thursday. What, they wondered, went up in smoke in Vice President Dick Cheney's suite of offices in the OEOB?
Hey, we love a good conspiracy theory here at Capitol Hill Blue and we learned long ago that anything is possible from the Bush boys and girls at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue so we're happy to join in the latest guessing game of what did they know and when did they burn it?
Since the fire erupted in Cheney's offices, speculation deepens. Cheney is, after all, the Darth Vader of BushCo, the Black Knight most often accused of being behind all the nefarious actions of what many consider to be the most corrupt Presidential administration in American history.
So what did the fire reduce to ashes just as federal judges, Congress and even Bush's own Attorney General launches probes into the various high crimes and misdemeanors ?
If evidence was destroyed, the most obvious would be any memos relating to that meeting of White House lawyers, Cheney and God-knows-who-else to discuss what to do about those pesky CIA tapes that showed torture of detainees.
Or maybe, as some have speculated, those White House visitor logs that show just which holy rollers came to Chateau Bush to help the Prez commune with God and seek new justifications for killing people in Iraq.
The list continues @ Capitol Hill Blue
Funny stuff for sure, the fire actually started in a 'man size' safe.
Speaking of destroying stuff: Administration officials refuse to shed light on whether White House lawyers talked to the CIA about whether to destroy interrogation videotapes of two terrorism suspects but bristle at questions into the affair and complain about news coverage. That puts the White House in an awkward position. The very vision of White House officials sitting around a table talking about such an inflammatory course of action evokes echoes of Nixon and Watergate. Also @CHB
Th fun just keeps coming for the insane clown posse in the WH. Once emboldened with arrogance and ego they let go with some real doozies. I knew sooner or later they would shoot themselves in the ass. Now the question remains, how bad do they want to retain power and what will they do to make it so.
Should I build a fallout shelter yet?
Oh and there is this:
After the fire on February 28, 1933, president Hindenburg and Hitler invoked Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution, which permitted the suspension of civil liberties during national emergencies. Some examples of this Decree of the Reich President for the Protection of the People and State abrogated the following constitutional protections: Freedom of the press, free expression of opinion, individual property rights, right of assembly and association, right to privacy of postal and electronic communications, states´ rights of self-government, and protection against unlawful searches and seizures. This Decree enabled the Nazis to suppress the opposition in the elections on March 5. In addition, federal police agencies, the SS (Special Security) and SA (Storm Troops), were created. This enabled the Nazis to suppress all opponents. Consequently, communists were arrested although the communist party was not banned until after the elections, so that the left vote would remain split.
Well I guess the fire was not that big, yet.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
ROME - In an “unforeseen and unprecedented” shift, the world food supply is dwindling rapidly and food prices are soaring to historic levels, the top food and agriculture official of the United Nations warned Monday.
The changes created “a very serious risk that fewer people will be able to get food,” particularly in the developing world, said Jacques Diouf, head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
The agency’s food price index rose by more than 40 percent this year, compared with 9 percent the year before - a rate that was already unacceptable, he said. New figures show that the total cost of foodstuffs imported by the neediest countries rose 25 percent, to $107 million, in the last year.
At the same time, reserves of cereals are severely depleted, FAO records show. World wheat stores declined 11 percent this year, to the lowest level since 1980. That corresponds to 12 weeks of the world’s total consumption - much less than the average of 18 weeks consumption in storage during the period 2000-2005. There are only 8 weeks of corn left, down from 11 weeks in the earlier period.
Prices of wheat and oilseeds are at record highs, Diouf said Monday. Wheat prices have risen by $130 per ton, or 52 percent, since a year ago. U.S. wheat futures broke $10 a bushel for the first time Monday, the agricultural equivalent of $100 a barrel oil. (Page 16)
Diouf blamed a confluence of recent supply and demand factors for the crisis, and he predicted that those factors were here to stay. On the supply side, these include the early effects of global warming, which has decreased crop yields in some crucial places, and a shift away from farming for human consumption toward crops for biofuels and cattle feed. Demand for grain is increasing with the world population, and more is diverted to feed cattle as the population of upwardly mobile meat-eaters grows.“We’re concerned that we are facing the perfect storm for the world’s hungry,” said Josette Sheeran, executive director of the World Food Program, in a telephone interview. She said that her agency’s food procurement costs had gone up 50 percent in the past 5 years and that some poor people are being “priced out of the food market.”
@ Common Dreams
It appears there is more interest in pumping more oil than growing more food.
Strange being part of humanity. When it comes to money, it is king. Do not concern yourself with those starving masses, instead put a new Excesscalade in your driveway and a cabin in Tahoe for Christmas.
What will we ever do with all the emaciated corpses? Can we recover their oil?
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
FISA Press Coverage
posted by Matt Browner-Hamlin, Campaign Blogger on December 18, 2007 - 9:26am
Matt Browner-Hamlin's picture
There's been a great deal of press coverage of yesterday's FISA success. I wanted to share a few clips with you. The first thing I read this morning was in the New York Times. Eric Lichtblau begins his article:
In a setback for the White House, Senate Democrats on Monday put off until at least next month any decision on whether to give legal protection to the phone carriers that helped with the National Security Agency’s eavesdropping program.
The Bush administration had pushed for immediate passage of legislation to grant immunity to the phone companies as part of a broader expansion of the N.S.A.’s wiretapping authorities. But that will not happen now.
I had to read that again: "In a setback for the White House...The Bush administration had pushed for immediate passage...But that will not happen now." I think anyone reading this - from Senator Dodd to his staff on the Hill and his presidential campaign to all the bloggers and activists and organizations that were with us in this fight should read these words and feel tremendously proud of what was accomplished yesterday. The fight isn't over, but we should enjoy this victory.
Ryan Singel at Wired's Threat Level blog, which is a great source for coverage of everything related to domestic surveillance and the telecoms, describes how Senator Dodd was able to win a delay in FISA consideration:
Dodd showed his moxie and determination all day, as he held the floor for long stretches, railing against an administration-backed bill that would have freed telecoms from 40-odd lawsuits pending against them in federal court.
The presidential candidate threatened to filibuster and hold the Senate floor if the Senate shot down his amendment to strip immunity from the bill. That threat moved Reid to postpone a vote on the bill, so that the Senate could take up war funding bills, a massive domestic spending bill and changes to the Alternative Minimum Tax before the winter break.
At Ari Melber writes:
After waging an all-out battle against the Bush administration and leaders of his own party, Senator Chris Dodd achieved a legislative victory on Monday, halting President Bush's attempt to rush a Senate vote on a bill granting retroative amnesty to companies accused of illegally spying on American citizens.
Halting the amnesty bill was also a victory for the netroots, which ferociously backed Dodd's legislative strategy and pressed Harry Reid, who ultimately backed down by announcing he would delay the vote until January. Over half a million people lobbied against the bill via email, Democratic bloggers rallied support and pressed the presidential candidates, and MoveOn targetted specific Senators to back Dodd's efforts. "No president should be able to work with corporations to break the law and then use Congress to cover up the crimes," wrote MoveOn's Nita Chaudhary, urging web activists to lobby Congress on Monday morning. "Holding the phone companies accountable may be the only way that the American people find out the extent of the Bush administration's illegal actions," she added.
While Dodd's effort shows that a little leadership and backbone can get results, the battle is far from over. Bush is demanding that Reid get the spying bill passed -- with retroatctive amnesty -- in January, when the critical fight over accountability for spying could be overshadowed by a presidential campaign in full swing. The Constitution-netroots wing of the Democratic Party will keep fighting for accountability, thankfully, but it's up to the presidential candidates and the Senate leadership to ensure that Bush does not steamroll the rule of law once again.
There's obviously much more worth sharing, but I'll leave it here for now. Take a few minutes to poke around news articles about Chris Dodd's efforts to stop a bad FISA bill and the victory we all won yesterday.
Monday, December 17, 2007
by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
Ohio's Secretary of State announced this morning that a $1.9 million official study shows that "critical security failures" are embedded throughout the voting systems in the state that decided the 2004 election. Those failures, she says, "could impact the integrity of elections in the Buckeye State." They have rendered Ohio's vote counts "vulnerable" to manipulation and theft by "fairly simple techniques."
Indeed, she says, "the tools needed to compromise an accurate vote count could be as simple as tampering with the paper audit trail connector or using a magnet and a personal digital assistant."
In other words, Ohio's top election official has finally confirmed that the 2004 election could have been easily stolen.
Brunner's stunning findings apply to electronic voting machines used in 58 of Ohio's 88 counties, in addition to scanning devices and central tabulators used on paper ballots in much of the rest of the state.
Brunner is calling for widespread changes to the way Ohio casts and counts its ballots. Her announcement follows moves by California Secretary of State Deborah Bowen to disqualify electronic voting machines in the nation's biggest state.
In tandem, these two reports add a critical state-based dimension to the growing mountain of evidence that the US electoral system is rife with insecurities. Reports from the Brennan Center, the Carter-Baker Commission, the Government Accountability Office, the Conyers Committee Task Force Report, Princeton University and others have offered differing perspectives that add up to the same conclusion.
Coming in the state that decided the 2004 election for George W. Bush, Brunner's confirmation of the electoral system's vulnerabilities adds huge new weight to the charge that the Buckeye State's vote count was stolen.
@ Smirking Chimp
Too bad we did not have this info back then, none of the chimps BS would be happening. It just shows the extent of the interference put forth to ensure the fascist of choice got elected, not OUR choice of course. J. Kenneth Blackwell was the force behind the crimes and has been playing dodgeball ever since.
Geez I hate these people. Circumventing elections to place the Chimp into the highest office of the land should be a damn good reason to kick their butts to the curb, doncha think?
Sunday, December 16, 2007
MORE EVIL DOING BEING DONE AT OUR EXPENSE.
"WASHINGTON — For months, the Bush administration has waged a high-profile campaign, including personal lobbying by President Bush and closed-door briefings by top officials, to persuade Congress to pass legislation protecting companies from lawsuits for aiding the National Security Agency’s warrantless eavesdropping program.
But the battle is really about something much bigger. At stake is the federal government’s extensive but uneasy partnership with industry to conduct a wide range of secret surveillance operations in fighting terrorism and crime.
The N.S.A.’s reliance on telecommunications companies is broader and deeper than ever before, according to government and industry officials, yet that alliance is strained by legal worries and the fear of public exposure.
To detect narcotics trafficking, for example, the government has been collecting the phone records of thousands of Americans and others inside the United States who call people in Latin America, according to several government officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the program remains classified. But in 2004, one major phone carrier balked at turning over its customers’ records. Worried about possible privacy violations or public relations problems, company executives declined to help the operation, which has not been previously disclosed.
In a separate N.S.A. project, executives at a Denver phone carrier, Qwest, refused in early 2001 to give the agency access to their most localized communications switches, which primarily carry domestic calls, according to people aware of the request, which has not been previously reported. They say the arrangement could have permitted neighborhood-by-neighborhood surveillance of phone traffic without a court order, which alarmed them."
As well it should alarm everyone when the government takes the role of great overseer of all that is communicated.
The elimination of warrant requirements and subsequent 'trolling' for 'supposed crime' ought to scare the holy bejeezus right out of every American. The next step will be even more invasive, the entering of ones home to 'look around' for anything deemed suspicious. Far fetched? Nope, they are already doing that and it will not improve, rather with the Supreme Courts blessings it will happen. House to house searches for 'national security' are coming and just what are you going to do about it?
You personal privacy is going away fast, and legally.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Katrina vanden Heuvel
Michael Copps, a Commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), stops by The Nation offices every year to talk about what is happening to our media landscape. Invariably, he let's us know that no matter what a person considers his or her #1 issue – whether it be fighting poverty, ending the war, affordable health care, or anything else – the #2 issue better be media matters.
As he recently said in an interview with Salon: "Your No. 2 issue has to be this media issue, because all those other issues you care about… are funneled and filtered through big media, if they're lucky enough to get in that funnel at all…. Then they're covered with the slant of a few particular companies."
Copps is currently battling FCC Chairman Kevin Martin's attempt to circumvent public comment and rush through an anti-democratic plan that would make it easier for a single company to own multiple media outlets in a single market. Though Martin claims he would only allow companies in the top 20 markets to own both a daily newspaper and a broadcast outlet, Copps points out that that represents approximately 43 percent of US households, and there is a major loophole allowing companies to do the same in "just about any market on the basis of meeting a few loose criteria." Martin's consolidation not only would weaken an already lacking diversity of voices in the media as well as in media ownership, it would also deepen the political crisis of our time – our downsized politics of excluded alternatives.
@ The Nation
Bill Moyers has an excellent report on the FCC shenanigans as well as an excellent interview with Keith Olbermann today you do not want to miss.
Kevin Martin, the FCC chair is working for Bush/Cheney, from WIKI:
Before becoming a commissioner, Martin was a Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy. He has also served as the Deputy General Counsel to Bush-Cheney 2000, on the Bush-Cheney recount team in Florida, and on the Presidential Transition.
Before joining Bush-Cheney 2000, Martin served as legal advisor to FCC Commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth, in the Office of the Independent Counsel, and as an associate of Wiley Rein LLP.
Upon graduation from law school, Martin served as a judicial clerk for Judge William M. Hoeveler of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Miami.
Despite numerous town hall meetings where people rejected media consolidation overwhelmingly, this jerk puppet boy follows his masters voice.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Posted on Dec 11, 2007
By Amy Goodman
The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded this week, in Oslo, Norway. Al Gore shared the prize with the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which represents more than 2,500 scientists from 130 countries. The solemn ceremony took place as the United States is blocking meaningful progress at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia, and the Republicans in the U.S. Senate have derailed the energy bill passed by the House of Representatives, which would have accelerated the adoption of renewable energy sources at the expense of big-oil and coal corporations.
Gore set the stage: “So, today, we dumped another 70 million tons of global-warming pollution into the thin shell of atmosphere surrounding our planet, as if it were an open sewer. And tomorrow, we will dump a slightly larger amount, with the cumulative concentrations now trapping more and more heat from the sun.
“As a result, the Earth has a fever. And the fever is rising. The experts have told us it is not a passing affliction that will heal by itself. We asked for a second opinion. And a third. And a fourth. And the consistent conclusion, restated with increasing alarm, is that something basic is wrong. We are what is wrong, and we must make it right.”
He went on: “Last Sept. 21, as the Northern Hemisphere tilted away from the sun, scientists reported with unprecedented distress that the north polar ice cap is ‘falling off a cliff.’ One study estimated that it could be completely gone during summer in less than 22 years. Another new study, to be presented by U.S. Navy researchers later this week, warns it could happen in as little as seven years. Seven years from now.”
How will climate-change skeptics explain that one? (Already, big business is celebrating the break up of the polar ice cap, as a northern sea route from the Atlantic to the Pacific is opening, creating a cheaper route for more needless shipping.) It is hard to imagine the north pole, the storied, frozen expanse of ice and snow, completely gone in just a few years. Lost as well will be the vast store of archeological data trapped in the ice: thousands of years of the Earth’s climate history are told in the layers of ice that descend for miles there. Scientists are just now learning how to read and interpret the history. The great meltdown will surely have catastrophic effects on the ecosystem in the north, with species like the polar bear already edging toward extinction.
Rajendra Pachauri, an Indian scientist, accepted for the IPCC. He is a careful scientist with the political finesse to chair the work of the IPCC despite the enduring antagonism of the United States. He pointed to the disproportionate effect of climate change on the world’s poor:
“[T]he impacts of climate change on some of the poorest and the most vulnerable communities in the world could prove extremely unsettling ... in terms of: access to clean water, access to sufficient food, stable health conditions, ecosystem resources, security of settlements.”
Pachauri predicts water wars and mass migrations. “Migration, usually temporary and often from rural to urban areas, is a common response to calamities such as floods and famines.”
Dinosaurs lived here for 100 million years(approx. nobody really knows) and never endangered their surroundings, if not for meteorites slamming Earth they would probably still be here. But give humanity the industrial age of 200 and voila! We are the biggest destructive influence on this planet. Our devotion to fossil fuel combustion has earned us the reputation of planetary destructionists.
We will be the only creature to create it's own demise on this planet ever.
Quite an accomplishment.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
This so called CIA person Mike Kiriakou, that supposedly had some thing to do with waterboarding Abu Zubaydah suddenly playing the part of 'whistleblower' to inject an element of truth to an otherwise illegal torture scenario is a deliberate attempt by the Reich Wing of the White House to legitimize an crimminal offense, torture, by saying "it worked".
Combine this with the deliberate destruction of video of the offending action(torture) the resulting story, "we wanted to protect out agents identities" and you have a effort to deceive by the highest office in the land.
Listen to Jonathan Turley explain it:
These Fourth Reich Fascist assholes are pedaling as fast as they can to bury this to avoid prison for the charges that can be brought against them, the last straw has been broken, the end should be near for the Fourth Reich.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Reuters: Oprah tries to give Obama a lift with black voters
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The Oprah and Obama tour hit South Carolina Sunday, with the talk show host and medial mogul exhorting nearly 30,000 to ignore Barack Obama's detractors and help him capture the Democratic nomination and the presidency.
"South Carolina—January 26th is your moment," Winfrey said, referring to the state Democratic primary date during a campaign stop alongside the Illinois senator. "It's your time to seize the opportunity to support a man who, as the Bible says, loves mercy and does justly."
Obama's campaign said more than 29,000 attended the event at the University of South Carolina's football stadium. It had the feel of a rock concert, with bands playing for early arrivals and campaign supporters yelling "fire it up" to the crowd.
Winfrey, who also campaigned for Obama on Saturday in Iowa, offered a touch of talk show-like advice during a 17-minute speech. "There are those who say it's not his time, that he should wait his turn. Think about where you'd be in your life if you'd waited when people told you to," she said.
"I'm sick of politics as usual," Winfrey said. "We need Barack Obama."
A recent AP-Pew Research poll has New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton leading in South Carolina with 45 percent of likely Democratic primary voters, followed by Obama's 31 percent. The two candidates break even on the black vote here, and that's where Winfrey's appeal could become a factor—along with her pull among women.
Obama, during his address, criticized the Bush administration and took several veiled swipes at Clinton, though never referenced his rival by name.
"I'm tired of Democrats thinking the only way to look tough on national security is to act like George Bush," he said. "We need a bold Democratic Party that's going to stand for something, not just posture and pose."
She is the most popular Black female in America if you believe the Nielson ratings where she is #4 nationally.
Formidable force among the stay at home female voter crowd, not to mention the Black vote.
I don't believe there is any reason NOT to elect Obama, experience was not a decisive factor in the 2000 election otherwise the chimp would have been ridden out of town on a rail for the screwed up job he did as Governor of Texas, in his case experience did not mean anything rather 'hanging chads' and political dirty tricks shoehorned that worthless sot into office.
Obama, Edwards, Dodd, the three best choices for the future of our country.
If the election gets canceled and the fascists seize control there will be hell to pay.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Henry Paulson’s Priorities
By PAUL KRUGMAN
By Bush administration standards, Henry Paulson, the Treasury secretary, is a good guy. He isn’t conspicuously incompetent; and he isn’t trying to mislead us into war, justify torture or protect corrupt contractors.
But Mr. Paulson’s actions reflect the priorities of the administration he serves. And that, ultimately, is what’s wrong with the mortgage relief plan he unveiled last week.
The plan is, as a Times editorial put it yesterday, “too little, too late and too voluntary.” But from the administration’s point of view these failings aren’t bugs, they’re features.
In fact, there’s a growing consensus among financial observers that the Paulson plan isn’t mainly intended to achieve real results. The point is, instead, to create the appearance of action, thereby undercutting political support for actual attempts to help families in trouble.
In particular, the Paulson plan is probably an attempt to take the wind out of Barney Frank’s sails. Mr. Frank, the Democratic chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has sponsored legislation that would give judges in bankruptcy cases the ability to rewrite mortgage loan terms. But “Bankers Hope Bush Subprime Plan Will Scuttle House Bill,” as a headline in CongressDaily put it.
As Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard bankruptcy expert, puts it, “The administration’s subprime mortgage plan is the bank lobby’s dream.” Given the Bush record, that should come as no surprise.
More thoughtless confusion directed at the public meant to obscure the big payoff to the banking industry while most borrowers get shoved into the street.
P.T.Barnum was soooo right! We are all being played for suckers in the money games of the mortgage industry. The real savior here is the banks cannot prove they hold the mortgages so they cannot foreclose due to the mortgage money being spread around in other financials. Tsk, tsk.
Since 2000 and the election of the most worthless(to the American people) Administration has screwed with every aspect of everything that is money related.
And it continues unabated, Congress has lost their cahones to make them accountable.
Until that changes it will be one hell of a year ahead.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
By Joby Warrick and Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, December 9, 2007; A01
In September 2002, four members of Congress met in secret for a first look at a unique CIA program designed to wring vital information from reticent terrorism suspects in U.S. custody. For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was given a virtual tour of the CIA's overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk.
Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill. But on that day, no objections were raised. Instead, at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder, two U.S. officials said.
"The briefer was specifically asked if the methods were tough enough," said a U.S. official who witnessed the exchange.
Congressional leaders from both parties would later seize on waterboarding as a symbol of the worst excesses of the Bush administration's counterterrorism effort. The CIA last week admitted that videotape of an interrogation of one of the waterboarded detainees was destroyed in 2005 against the advice of Justice Department and White House officials, provoking allegations that its actions were illegal and the destruction was a coverup.
Yet long before "waterboarding" entered the public discourse, the CIA gave key legislative overseers about 30 private briefings, some of which included descriptions of that technique and other harsh interrogation methods, according to interviews with multiple U.S. officials with firsthand knowledge.
With one known exception, no formal objections were raised by the lawmakers briefed about the harsh methods during the two years in which waterboarding was employed, from 2002 to 2003, said Democrats and Republicans with direct knowledge of the matter. The lawmakers who held oversight roles during the period included Pelosi and Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) and Sens. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) and John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), as well as Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.) and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan).
Individual lawmakers' recollections of the early briefings varied dramatically, but officials present during the meetings described the reaction as mostly quiet acquiescence, if not outright support. "Among those being briefed, there was a pretty full understanding of what the CIA was doing," said Goss, who chaired the House intelligence committee from 1997 to 2004 and then served as CIA director from 2004 to 2006. "And the reaction in the room was not just approval, but encouragement."
Congressional officials say the groups' ability to challenge the practices was hampered by strict rules of secrecy that prohibited them from being able to take notes or consult legal experts or members of their own staffs. And while various officials have described the briefings as detailed and graphic, it is unclear precisely what members were told about waterboarding and how it is conducted. Several officials familiar with the briefings also recalled that the meetings were marked by an atmosphere of deep concern about the possibility of an imminent terrorist attack.
"In fairness, the environment was different then because we were closer to Sept. 11 and people were still in a panic," said one U.S. official present during the early briefings. "But there was no objecting, no hand-wringing. The attitude was, 'We don't care what you do to those guys as long as you get the information you need to protect the American people.' "
Only after information about the practice began to leak in news accounts in 2005 -- by which time the CIA had already abandoned waterboarding -- did doubts about its legality among individual lawmakers evolve into more widespread dissent. The opposition reached a boiling point this past October, when Democratic lawmakers condemned the practice during Michael B. Mukasey's confirmation hearings for attorney general.
Four words: They make me SICK!
Biggest bunch of phony hypocrites you would ever want to meet. The dems are a teensie bit better than the repugs but that is all. They are all complicit in dragging this country down the tubes along with the totally bogus administration and all need to be tarred and feathered and sent down the road.
Open revolution against the tyranny with all means possible is the only way to rid this once proud nation of the scourge that has ruined every single Constitutional element for personal gain and trashed the entire reputation of the USA in front of the entire world.
Fascism driven by authoritarianism has kept the sheeple in line so far but it will not hold them back forever. Sooner or later the 'Me firsts' will awaken to the crushing of their self involved worlds and then you better look out because they will want the heads of the people that disturbed their self absorbed existence.
Fascism will not last, history has proven time and time again it does not work long term. Sooner or later the controlled will rebel and much mayhem is the result. As far as I can see we are about halfway through the fascism stage and the second half will consist of rebellion against those that would imprison us in our own country.
I cannot wait.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
The findings, unveiled at a news conference, seem to contradict an earlier assessment by the federal government that deemed it impossible to measure contamination because it had been so long since the emissions ended.
Contrary to that 2004 assessment by the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the scientists from England and the University at Albany say they can now show that more than two decades later, people still carry the radioactive metal in their bodies.
The state shuttered the former NL Industries plant in 1984.
Because the contamination can still be detected, a study could be done to track down the thousands of people who could have been exposed, the researchers said. But additional financial resources are needed to pay for the pricey tests, they said.
“Our new work, using better methodology, shows that we can overcome this difficulty,” said Randall Parrish, a professor at the University of Leicester.
The findings will soon be published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.
Neighbors and former employees have demanded more detailed analysis of the cancers, immune disorders and other illnesses they say have plagued their families.
@ Common Dreams
Once again corporate needs outweigh the needs of the workers. To produce such a toxic substance without even a basic study as to any health issues involved is typical of the corporate greed mentality bringing the 'do first, worry later' policy to manufacturing.
For years and years it is the same old story, workers being the last to know what exactly they are exposed to daily on the job. In this case the DU munitions actually affected the surrounding community badly as well.
Asbestos had the same scenario, workers had asbestos filling their lungs until they got mesothelioma a deadly lung disease and the surrounding communities also bearing the scourge as well.
The recent fascist slant being brought about for the corporations, by the corporations will not improve workers health issues, rather it will gut the workers protections put in place through OSHA and remove any recourse for the workers when poisoned by slack corporate policy.
Profit is king, powered by high unemployment, workers fighting for jobs to feed their families will sacrifice their very lives to do so because of need, with slack regulation and lack of scientific study to determine any health related issues involved with manufacturing. This is a vile and ruthless policy put forth by the corporate bosses.
People have been set up in a world that demands that money is the main requirement to survive, without money you have nothing. Force work instead of work force.
Pride has left the building, it has been replaced by plunder.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Mesopotamian sculpture sells for record 57 million dollars
Wed Dec 5, 8:36 PM ET
A tiny and extremely rare 5,000-year-old white limestone sculpture from ancient Mesopotamia sold for 57.2 million dollars in New York on Wednesday, smashing records for both sculpture and antiquities.
The carved Guennol Lioness, measuring just over eight centimeters (3 1/4 inches) tall, was described by Sotheby's auction house as one of the last known masterworks from the dawn of civilization remaining in private hands.
"It was an honor for us to handle The Guennol Lioness, one of the greatest works of art of all time," Richard Keresey and Florent Heintz, the experts in charge of the sale, said in a joint statement.
"Before the sale, a great connoisseur of art commented to us that he always regarded the figure as the 'finest sculpture on earth' and it would appear that the market agreed with him," they said.
Five different bidders, three on the telephone and two in the room, competed for the sculpture. The successful buyer was identified only as an English buyer who wished to remain anonymous.
@ Yahoo News
57,200,000 BUCKS! That's a chunk of change!
Why would anyone want to pay that sum of money for a tiny sculpture from the cradle of civilization? How many lives could have been saved from starvation, how many schools could use more books? How much money does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Sorry off topic but the main point of amassing a fortune seems to be to enable the purchase of more 'priceless' antiquities and trinkets to show your financial prowess.
Hey pal, you cannot take it with you where you are going and 95% of the population does not care how much money you have, in fact there is much resentment(like mine) for the money grubbers and their amassed fortunes. So you have servants and personal slaves to wipe your nose when you sniffle? So what?
With the relentless pursuit of money comes a downside, thieves, blackmailers, kidnappers and all kinds of unscrupulous characters trying to take your money away from you.
More trouble than it is worth if you ask me. But then I'm just Po-Folk, and you know what?, as long as I can pay my bills, eat well, and have a few toys, I'm OK with that.
That way I don't have to trip over all my Ferrari's in the driveway.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
The Financial Tsunami: Sub-Prime Mortgage Debt is but the Tip of the Iceberg
by F. William Engdahl
Even experienced banker friends tell me that they think the worst of the US banking troubles are over and that things are slowly getting back to normal. What is lacking in their rosy optimism is the realization of the scale of the ongoing deterioration in credit markets globally, centered in the American asset-backed securities market, and especially in the market for CDO’s—Collateralized Debt Obligations and CMO’s—Collateralized Mortgage Obligations. By now every serious reader has heard the term “It’s a crisis in Sub-Prime US home mortgage debt.” What almost no one I know understands is that the Sub-Prime problem is but the tip of a colossal iceberg that is in a slow meltdown. I offer one recent example to illustrate my point that the “Financial Tsunami” is only beginning.
Deutsche Bank got a hard shock a few days ago when a judge in the state of Ohio in the USA made a ruling that the bank had no legal right to foreclose on 14 homes whose owners had failed to keep current in their monthly mortgage payments. Now this might sound like small beer for Deutsche Bank, one of the world’s largest banks with over €1.1 trillion (Billionen) in assets worldwide. As Hilmar Kopper used to say, “peanuts.” It’s not at all peanuts, however, for the Anglo-Saxon banking world and its European allies like Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas, Barclays Bank, HSBC or others. Why?
A US Federal Judge, C.A. Boyko in Federal District Court in Cleveland Ohio ruled to dismiss a claim by Deutsche Bank National Trust Company. DB’s US subsidiary was seeking to take possession of 14 homes from Cleveland residents living in them, in order to claim the assets.
Here comes the hair in the soup. The Judge asked DB to show documents proving legal title to the 14 homes. DB could not. All DB attorneys could show was a document showing only an “intent to convey the rights in the mortgages.” They could not produce the actual mortgage, the heart of Western property rights since the Magna Charta of not longer.
Again why could Deutsche Bank not show the 14 mortgages on the 14 homes? Because they live in the exotic new world of “global securitization”, where banks like DB or Citigroup buy tens of thousands of mortgages from small local lending banks, “bundle” them into Jumbo new securities which then are rated by Moody’s or Standard & Poors or Fitch, and sell them as bonds to pension funds or other banks or private investors who naively believed they were buying bonds rated AAA, the highest, and never realized that their “bundle” of say 1,000 different home mortgages, contained maybe 20% or 200 mortgages rated “sub-prime,” i.e. of dubious credit quality.
Indeed the profits being earned in the past seven years by the world’s largest financial players from Goldman Sachs to Morgan Stanley to HSBC, Chase, and yes, Deutsche Bank, were so staggering, few bothered to open the risk models used by the professionals who bundled the mortgages. Certainly not the Big Three rating companies who had a criminal conflict of interest in giving top debt ratings. That changed abruptly last August and since then the major banks have issued one after another report of disastrous “sub-prime” losses.
@ Global Research
This little nugget is bound to cause major waves for the lenders involved with the 'sub-prime' biz. If they cannot produce the mortgage, they cannot repo (foreclose) if they cannot show ownership. Oh what a tangled financial web they wove.
This court case will really shake up the money whores reeeeeel good and I am glad too. Most of the SP's (sub-primes) were in areas of lower income which took advantage of folks desire to own a home of their own, only to have it ripped from their hands with balloon like interest rate hikes.
So all of you out there with a home with a SP loan, have no fear, the banks lost your mortgage in a financial flurry of money making schemes, so sit tight, precedence has been set, unless they can prove they have the mortgage, you are not going to have to go anywhere just yet.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
DK sounding off at the Brown and Black debate
RP being RP.
Have Bible, will thump.
No wonder people don't pay attention to politics if they watch the repugs work.
What a bunch of flaming hypocrites! Appealing to the undereducated and misinformed.
Monday, December 03, 2007
Two nasty storms, one bound for the Northeast, the other for the Northwest, will intensify overnight.
The northeastern storm will strengthen rapidly over the next 24 hours. Sleet and freezing rain will increase in coverage and intensity from south-central New York and north-central Pennsylvania to southern New England. Snow will spread from eastern New York into Vermont, New Hampshire, and most of southern New England, turning quite heavy Monday.
In the Pacific, an unusually large and rapidly intensifying storm south of the Aleutian Islands will hurl hurricane-force winds and 40-foot seas toward the Oregon coast. Conditions will be at their worst--and most dangerous--through the afternoon.
Snow levels are on the rise as the storm center itself barrels toward the Queen Charlotte Islands, but in the meantime, winter storm warnings remain posted from the Cascades eastward to the mountains of Idaho and western Montana.
More details on these storms will be available in the National Forecast.
We bit of snowfall around the country, of course it IS winter and that is supposed to happen, along with freezing rain and generally inclement weather.
Of course this does not mean we are warming as one would think, but a trend toward more fierce storms further apart causing record breaking statistics.
This summer we will be begging for some of this cold stuff but will only roast in the blazing Sun instead. So grab your sleds, ski's and snow boards and head for the hills. Cardboard boxes of substantial size worked for us when we were kids sliding down the local hills.
Enjoy it while it lasts.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Actually Steven Van Zandt of the E-Street Band. He will be on Stephanopolis this AM.
Like C&L I do not know why, but someone will probably be 'whacked' Sopranos style.
Jim Webb is on Press the Meet, I have it on DVR to watch later, supposedly real good.
Meanwhile just a nice Sunday ahead, some of you are firing up your snow shovels, be careful, don't have a heart attack.
Saturday, December 01, 2007
Guns Beat Green: The Market Has Spoken
Anyone tired of lousy news from the markets should talk to Douglas Lloyd, director of Venture Business Research, a company that tracks trends in venture capitalism. "I expect investment activity in this sector to remain buoyant," he said recently. His bouncy mood was inspired by the money gushing into private security and defense companies. He added, "I also see this as a more attractive sector, as many do, than clean energy."
Got that? If you are looking for a sure bet in a new growth market, sell solar, buy surveillance; forget wind, buy weapons.
This observation--coming from an executive trusted by such clients as Goldman Sachs and Marsh & McLennan--deserves particular attention in the run-up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali at the beginning of December. There, world environment ministers are supposed to come up with the global pact that will replace Kyoto.
The Bush Administration, still roadblocking firm caps on emissions, wants to let the market solve the crisis. "We're on the threshold of dramatic technological breakthroughs," Bush assured the world last January, adding, "We'll leave it to the market to decide the mix of fuels that most effectively and efficiently meet this goal."
The idea that capitalism can save us from climate catastrophe has powerful appeal. It gives politicians an excuse to subsidize corporations rather than regulate them, and it neatly avoids a discussion about how the core market logic of endless growth landed us here in the first place.
The market, however, appears to have other ideas about how to meet the challenges of an increasingly disaster-prone world. According to Lloyd, despite all the government incentives, the really big money is turning away from clean energy technologies and banking instead on gadgets promising to seal wealthy countries and individuals into high-tech fortresses. Key growth areas in venture capitalism are private security firms selling surveillance gear and privatized emergency response. Put simply, in the world of venture capitalism, there has been a race going on between greens on the one hand and guns and garrisons on the other--and the guns are winning.
According to Venture Business Research, in 2006 North American and European companies developing green technology and those focused on "homeland security" and weaponry were neck and neck in the contest for new investment: green tech received $3.5 billion, and so did the guns and garrisons sector. But this year garrisons have suddenly leapt ahead. The greens have received $4.2 billion, while the garrisons have nearly doubled their money, collecting $6 billion in new investment funds. And 2007 isn't over yet.
This trend has nothing to do with real supply and demand, since the demand for clean energy technology could not be higher. With oil reaching $100 a barrel, it is clear that we badly need green alternatives, both as consumers and as a species. The latest report from the Nobel Prize-winning UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was characterized by Time magazine as "a final warning to humanity," while a new Oxfam report makes it clear that the recent wave of natural disasters is no fluke: over the past two decades, the number of extreme weather events has quadrupled. Conversely, 2007 has seen no major terrorist events in North America or Europe, there are hints of a US troop drawdown in Iraq and, despite the relentless propaganda, there is no imminent threat from Iran.
So why is "homeland security," not green energy, the hot new sector? Perhaps because there are two distinct business models that can respond to our climate and energy crisis. We can develop policies and technologies to get us off this disastrous course. Or we can develop policies and technologies to protect us from those we have enraged through resource wars and displaced through climate change, while simultaneously shielding ourselves from the worst of both war and weather. (The ultimate expression of this second option is Hummer's new TV ads: the gas-guzzler is seen carrying its cargo to safety in various disaster zones, followed by the slogan "HOPE: Hummer Owners Prepared for Emergencies." It's a bit like the Marlboro man doing grief counseling in a cancer ward.) In short, we can choose to fix, or we can choose to fortress. Environmental activists and scientists have been yelling for the fix. The homeland security sector, on the other hand, believes the future lies in fortresses.
Though 9/11 launched this new economy, many of the original counterterrorism technologies are being retrofitted as privatized emergency response during natural disasters--Blackwater pitching itself as the new Red Cross, firefighters working for insurance giants (see my last column, "Rapture Rescue 911"). By far the biggest market is the fortressing of Europe and North America--Halliburton's contract to build detention centers for an unspecified immigration influx, Boeing's "virtual" border fence, biometric ID cards. The primary target for these technologies is not terrorists but immigrants, an increasing number of whom have been displaced by extreme weather events like the recent floods in Tabasco, Mexico, or the cyclone in Bangladesh. As climate change creates more landlessness, the market in fortresses will increase dramatically.
Of course, there is still money to be made from going green; but there is much more green--at least in the short term--to be made from selling escape and protection. As Lloyd explains, "The failure rate of security businesses is much lower than clean-tech ones and, as important, the capital investment required to build a successful security business is also much lower." In other words, solving real problems is hard, but turning a profit from those problems is easy.
Bush wants to leave our climate crisis to the ingenuity of the market. Well, the market has spoken: it will not take us off this disastrous course. In fact, the smart money is betting that we will stay on it.
This column was first published in The Nation.