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Why the Global Warming Skeptics Are Wrong The threat of climate change is an increasingly important environmental issue for the globe. Because the economic questions involved have received relatively little attention, I have been writing a nontechnical book for people who would like to see how market-based approaches could be used to formulate policy on climate change. When I showed an early draft to colleagues, their response was that I had left out the arguments of skeptics about climate change, and I accordingly addressed this at length.
But one of the difficulties I found in examining the views of climate skeptics is that they are scattered widely in blogs, talks, and pamphlets. Then, I saw an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal of January 27, 2012, by a group of sixteen scientists, entitled “No Need to Panic About Global Warming.” This is useful because it contains many of the standard criticisms in a succinct statement. The basic message of the article is that the globe is not warming, that dissident voices are being suppressed, and that delaying policies to slow climate change for fifty years will have no serious economic or environment consequences.
My response is primarily designed to correct their misleading description of my own research; but it also is directed more broadly at their attempt to discredit scientists and scientific research on climate change.1 I have identified six key issues that are raised in the article, and I provide commentary about their substance and accuracy. They are:
• Is the planet in fact warming?
• Are human influences an important contributor to warming?
• Is carbon dioxide a pollutant?
• Are we seeing a regime of fear for skeptical climate scientists?
• Are the views of mainstream climate scientists driven primarily by the desire for financial gain?
• Is it true that more carbon dioxide and additional warming will be beneficial?
As I will indicate below, on each of these questions, the sixteen scientists provide incorrect or misleading answers. At a time when we need to clarify public confusions about the science and economics of climate change, they have muddied the waters. I will describe their mistakes and explain the findings of current climate science and economics. (The New York Review of Books)
The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say) The spring air in the small, sand-dusted town has a soft haze to it, and clumps of green-gray sagebrush rustle in the breeze. Bluffdale sits in a bowl-shaped valley in the shadow of Utah’s Wasatch Range to the east and the Oquirrh Mountains to the west. It’s the heart of Mormon country, where religious pioneers first arrived more than 160 years ago. They came to escape the rest of the world, to understand the mysterious words sent down from their god as revealed on buried golden plates, and to practice what has become known as “the principle,” marriage to multiple wives.
Today Bluffdale is home to one of the nation’s largest sects of polygamists, the Apostolic United Brethren, with upwards of 9,000 members. The brethren’s complex includes a chapel, a school, a sports field, and an archive. Membership has doubled since 1978—and the number of plural marriages has tripled—so the sect has recently been looking for ways to purchase more land and expand throughout the town.
But new pioneers have quietly begun moving into the area, secretive outsiders who say little and keep to themselves. Like the pious polygamists, they are focused on deciphering cryptic messages that only they have the power to understand. Just off Beef Hollow Road, less than a mile from brethren headquarters, thousands of hard-hatted construction workers in sweat-soaked T-shirts are laying the groundwork for the newcomers’ own temple and archive, a massive complex so large that it necessitated expanding the town’s boundaries. Once built, it will be more than five times the size of the US Capitol.
Rather than Bibles, prophets, and worshippers, this temple will be filled with servers, computer intelligence experts, and armed guards. And instead of listening for words flowing down from heaven, these newcomers will be secretly capturing, storing, and analyzing vast quantities of words and images hurtling through the world’s telecommunications networks. In the little town of Bluffdale, Big Love and Big Brother have become uneasy neighbors.
The NSA has become the largest, most covert, and potentially most intrusive intelligence agency ever. (Wired)
UC DAVIS NOVEMBER 18, 2011 "PEPPER SPRAY INCIDENT" TASK FORCE REPORT "THE REYNOSO TASK FORCE REPORT" Our overriding conclusion can be stated briefly and explicitly. The pepper spraying
incident that took place on November 18, 2011 should and could have been
On November 18, 2011, University of California, Davis, police officers used pepper spray
on students sitting in a line in the midst of a protest and “occupation” on the campus
quad. Viral images of the incident triggered immediate and widespread condemnation of
the police action.
To assist the Task Force with fact finding and the identification of best practices in
policing, the University engaged Kroll, Inc., an internationally known risk management
firm. Kroll completed the final draft of its report on Feb. 22, 2012 (the “Kroll Report”).
The Kroll Report describes at length the events leading up to this incident. In brief, at
approximately 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 17, 2011, tents were erected on the
Quad at the Davis campus. The Administration decided to remove the tents, instructing
police to do so at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, November 18, 2011. While attempting to remove
tents, the police arrested several individuals. Subsequently, in the midst of a growing
group of people, the police officers employed pepper spray to remove several students
linking arms in a line across a walkway in the Quad.
The UC Davis protest focused on and drew strength from widespread discontent among
students about the increase in tuition and fees at the University of California. The
incident also took place against the backdrop of worldwide student protests, including
demonstrations by the Occupy Wall Street movement, which triggered similar events
across the nation. These protests presented challenges for all affected universities and
municipalities in attempting to balance the goals of respecting freedom of speech,
maintaining the safety of both protesters and non-protesters, and protecting the
legitimate interests of government and the non-protesting public.
In the immediate aftermath of the UC Davis incident, University of California President
Mark G. Yudof announced the appointment of former California Supreme Court Justice
Cruz Reynoso to chair a Task Force to address the pepper spraying of UC Davis students.
This was a result of a request from Chancellor Katehi for an independent investigation to
review the incident and report findings and recommendations to enable peaceful and
nonviolent protests. All Task Force members are either currently or were once affiliated
with UC Davis and most were nominated by relevant campus organizations. (University of California)
Ron Paul 43%, Obama 41% For the first time ever, Ron Paul leads Barack Obama in a hypothetical 2012 matchup. In the latest Rasmussen poll, Paul earns 43% of the vote, while the current president attracts support from 41%.
Ten percent (10%) would vote for some other option, a figure that includes 17% of Republicans. Ron Paul leads by 13 among men and trails by eight among women. Paul also picks up 15% of the vote from self-identified liberals. (Ron Paul)
Davis votes to support repeal of Citizens United ruling Yesterday, the city of Davis voted unanimously to support Assembly Joint Resolution 22. The text of the resolution passed by the Davis city council can be found here. AJR 22 is working its way through California's state legislature; the bill would urge Congress to begin the process of a Constitutional Amendment in order to overturn the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling. The Citizens United Supreme Court decision is what allows Corporations and "Super PACS" to spend unlimited funds on any individual candidate or party they choose.
Davis joins New York City and Portland in calling on Congress to begin the process of a Constitutional Amendment for campaign finance reform. The effort in Davis, like in these other cities, was spearheaded by the Occupy Davis group. Occupy is developed growing momentum for repealing the Citizens United ruling that many see as swinging the door of corruption completely open. (Examiner)
Is This the End of Market Democracy? The 2012 election will offer voters a stark choice between right and left alternatives.
President Obama is calling for:
investing in things like education that gives everybody a chance to succeed. A tax code that makes sure everybody pays their fair share. And laws that make sure everybody follows the rules. That’s what will transform our economy. That’s what will grow our middle class again.
Republicans, in turn, are denouncing the expansion of a Democratic “entitlement society” and what they see as a trend toward European social democracy. They are calling for sharply reduced taxes, regulation and government spending to free market forces and revive private sector economic growth.
While Americans are going to be able to choose between two contrasting ideologies, what if both choices are off the mark? What if the legitimacy of free market capitalism in America is facing fundamental challenges that the candidates and their parties are not addressing?
Here are some of the issues that are making some politicians and political thinkers uneasy:
Are large segments of the American workforce — millions of people — at a structural disadvantage in the face of global competition, technological advance and ever more sophisticated forms of automation? Is this situation permanent?
Will the share of profits from improving corporate productivity flowing to capital and to high-earning C.E.O.s continue to grow, while the income of wage earners stagnates and their share of profits declines?
Has the surging wealth and income of the top one percent and of the top 0.1 percent reached a tipping point at which the political leverage of the very affluent decisively outweighs the influence of the electorate at large?
Is it possible that in the United States and Europe, democratic free market capitalism is no longer capable of providing broadly shared benefits to a solid majority of workers? (New York Times)
FBI foils alleged suicide bomb attack on U.S. Capitol The FBI has arrested a suspect who was en route to the U.S. Capitol allegedly to detonate a suicide bomb, USA TODAY's Kevin Johnson reports.
Update at 4:50 p.m. ET: A bail hearing has been set for 29-year-old Amine El Khalifi of Alexandria, Va., an unemployed Moroccan who authorities said is in the United States illegally. He arrived when he was 16 and overstayed his visitor's visa.
According to a counterterrorism official, El Khalifi "expressed interest in killing at least 30 people and considered targeting a building in Alexandria and a restaurant, synagogue and a place where military personnel gather in Washington before he settled on the Capitol after canvassing that area a couple of times," the Associated Press writes. During the year-long investigation, El Khalifi detonated explosives at a quarry in the capital region with undercover operatives. He is not believed to be affiliated with al-Qaeda, officials said. - According to a counterterrorism official, El Khalifi "expressed interest in killing at least 30 people and considered targeting a building in Alexandria and a restaurant, synagogue and a place where military personnel gather in Washington before he settled on the Capitol after canvassing that area a couple of times," the Associated Press writes. During the year-long investigation, El Khalifi detonated explosives at a quarry in the capital region with undercover operatives. He is not believed to be affiliated with al-Qaeda, officials said. (USA Today)
Newest anti-Keystone activists: Tea Partiers If there’s anything the Tea Party hates, it’s whatever the government is doing right now. Which means greens have picked up some unusual allies in the fight against the Keystone XL pipeline: Texas Tea Partiers who think the project violates property rights.
“Crippling someone’s water supply knows no party line,” said Rita Beving, consultant to the bipartisan East Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission. A Republican mayor and a Democratic city secretary lead the group’s fight against the pipeline.
TransCanada has shown itself willing to use eminent domain to acquire land to build the pipeline. The company says it prefers to come to “voluntary agreements” whereby landowners sell their land, but just on the off chance that you would rather not give up your land and instead keep your land, they’re prepared to take it. This sits about as well with Tea Partiers as a gay clinic escort melting down a gun and turning it into a hammer and sickle. (Grist)
Robots will steal your job, but that's okay: How to Survive the Coming Economic Collapse You are about to become obsolete. You think that you are special, unique, and that whatever it is that you are doing is impossible to replace. You are wrong.
As we speak, millions of algorithms created by computer scientists are frantically running on servers all over the world with one sole purpose: do whatever we used to do, but better. These algorithms are intelligent computer programs, permeating the substrateof our society. They make financial decisions, they predict the weather, they suggest which countries will wage war next. Soon, there will be little left for us to do: machines will take over.
Does that sound like a futuristic fantasy? Maybe so. This argument is proposed by a growing, yet still fringe, community of thinkers, scientists and academics, who see the advancement of technology as a disruptive force which will soon transform our entire socio-economic system, forever. According to them, the displacement of labour by machines and computer intelligence will increase dramatically over the next decades. Such changes will be so drastic and quick that the market will not be able to abide in creating new opportunities for workers who lost their job, making unemployment not just part of a cycle, but structural in nature and chronically irreversible. It will be the end of work as we now it. (io9)
Timeline of celebrities killed by Big Pharma: Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Heath Ledger, Farrah Fawcett, Elvis and more The recent death of pop icon Whitney Houston has once again sparked worldwide awareness of the fragility of human life, and how easily it can slip away in an instant. But what Houston's death has also brought to the forefront is the reality that, under the auspices of treating disease, FDA-approved pharmaceutical drugs are a primary cause of death in the U.S., as well as within the entertainment industry.
Over the years, NaturalNews has covered the deaths of numerous celebrities, singers, actors, and cultural icons that met their fates because of prescription drug overdoses. Some of these individuals died as a result of misusing pharmaceutical drugs, while others were literally out of their minds as a result of taking them, which made them particularly prone to the careless and even suicidal behaviors that ultimately led to their deaths.
Below we have put together a short timeline of celebrity deaths caused by pharmaceutical drugs. While we recognize that some of these individuals deliberately misused both prescription and illicit drugs, resulting in their deaths, some of them were arguably heavily influenced by these highly-addictive drugs in the first place, which caused them to further abuse dangerous, but legal, prescription drugs, and often under the guidance of their doctors. (Natural News)
Tony Bennett Is Right That Legalizing Drugs Would Save Lives "First it was Michael Jackson, then it was Amy Winehouse and now the magnificent Whitney Houston. I'd like to have every gentleman and lady in this room commit themselves to get our government to legalize drugs. So they have to get it through a doctor, not just some gangsters that sell it under the table."
That's what Tony Bennett said at a pre-Grammy Awards party on Saturday night, shortly after learning of the tragic death of Whitney Houston, and he's exactly right. One of us (Neill) is a former police officer who fought -- and lost friends -- on the front lines of the failed "war on drugs." One of us (Katharine) learned about the commonality of human pain in another difficult way, spending two years in a residential facility ("rehab"). She wasn't there for drugs, but many of those struggling alongside her were.
There has been some confusion and criticism over Bennett's remarks and, because of our experience dealing with the pain and heartbreak of drug abuse and harmful drug laws, we feel compelled to expand upon his heartfelt remarks in the hopes that we can help break through some of the misunderstanding underlying the reaction to what Bennett said. (Huffington Post)
The Top Twelve Reasons Why You Should Hate the Mortgage Settlement As readers may know by now, 49 of 50 states have agreed to join the so-called mortgage settlement, with Oklahoma the lone refusenik. Although the fine points are still being hammered out, various news outlets (New York Times, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal) have details, with Dave Dayen’s overview at Firedoglake the best thus far.
The Wall Street Journal is also reporting that the SEC is about to launch some securities litigation against major banks. Since the statue of limitations has already run out on securities filings more than five years old, this means they’ll clip the banks for some of the very last (and dreckiest) deals they shoved out the door before the subprime market gave up the ghost.
The various news services are touting this pact at the biggest multi-state settlement since the tobacco deal in 1998. While narrowly accurate, this deal is bush league by comparison even though the underlying abuses in both cases have had devastating consequences.
The tobacco agreement was pegged as being worth nearly $250 billion over the first 25 years. Adjust that for inflation, and the disparity is even bigger. That shows you the difference in outcomes between a case where the prosecutors have solid evidence backing their charges, versus one where everyone know a lot of bad stuff happened, but no one has come close to marshaling the evidence. (Naked Capitalism)
49-State Foreclosure Fraud Settlement Will Be Finalized Thursday Forty-nine states, every one but Oklahoma, as well as federal regulators will participate in a foreclosure fraud settlement that will release the five biggest banks (Wells Fargo, Citi, Ally/GMAC, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America) and their mortgage servicing units from liability for robo-signing and other forms of servicer abuse, in exchange for $25 billion in funding for legal aid, refinancing, short sales, restitution for wrongful foreclosures and principal reduction for underwater borrowers. The announcement will be made on Thursday.
This settlement arises from multiple abuses found in the servicing of loans and the foreclosure process over the past several years. At the height of the housing bubble, banks sliced and diced mortgages and traded them with little regard for the rules following land recording or securitization to such a sloppy extent that they lost track of the true owner on potentially millions of homes. To cover up for this massive failure, banks and their servicing units have been found to have routinely forged, back-dated and fabricated documents at county recorder offices and state courts across the country. Furthermore, they employed “robo-signers,” who signed hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of documents and affidavits without any knowledge of the underlying mortgages. In addition, investigations uncovered massive servicing abuses, including illegal fees charged to borrowers, putting borrowers into foreclosure at the same time as they were working out loan modifications, failing to honor previous settlements where promises were made on modifications, and countless other errors that maximized servicer profits and gouged homeowners. There are also cases of wrongful foreclosures where homeowners have been turned out of their homes without just cause, and servicer-driven foreclosures, where servicers illegally added late fees and applied payments inaccurately, pushing the homeowner into foreclosure. This is but a smattering of the examples of foreclosure fraud and servicer abuse found in a series of interlocking investigations, court depositions, reviews of documents in registers of deeds offices, and homeowner testimonials. (Fire Dog Lake)
Ron Paul Secretly Won the Caucuses They all laughed at Ron Paul. They all laughed when he took a stage in Minnesota, having come in a solid second place, and reminded the faithful of a "little thing called delegates!"
They were serious about it. Paul's people believe that they understand the delegate process, and that the media does not. There is truth here: The delegate process is confusing, and I assume that Paul supporters have used their four years of organizing and studying in a fruitful manner. In an e-mail to supporters, they try to get granular about what's occuring. (Slate)
Mindful Eating as Food for Thought TRY this: place a forkful of food in your mouth. It doesn’t matter what the food is, but make it something you love — let’s say it’s that first nibble from three hot, fragrant, perfectly cooked ravioli.
Now comes the hard part. Put the fork down. This could be a lot more challenging than you imagine, because that first bite was very good and another immediately beckons. You’re hungry.
Today’s experiment in eating, however, involves becoming aware of that reflexive urge to plow through your meal like Cookie Monster on a shortbread bender. Resist it. Leave the fork on the table. Chew slowly. Stop talking. Tune in to the texture of the pasta, the flavor of the cheese, the bright color of the sauce in the bowl, the aroma of the rising steam.
Continue this way throughout the course of a meal, and you’ll experience the third-eye-opening pleasures and frustrations of a practice known as mindful eating.
The concept has roots in Buddhist teachings. Just as there are forms of meditation that involve sitting, breathing, standing and walking, many Buddhist teachers encourage their students to meditate with food, expanding consciousness by paying close attention to the sensation and purpose of each morsel. In one common exercise, a student is given three raisins, or a tangerine, to spend 10 or 20 minutes gazing at, musing on, holding and patiently masticating. (New York Times)
Sacramento's Utilities Rates Advisory Commission approves water rate hikes Sacramento's Utilities Rates Advisory Commission voted 5-2 to raise water rates in the city by $19 a month over the next three years. The reason for the rate hike? It is to gain a loan from Goldman Sachs to renovate an aging water system. But that loan is going to raise water and sewer bills from $57 monthly to $350 a month in just 15 years.
The city council still must give its approval before the rate cuts are final. But officials seem more and more in support of this measure. City Council members must hear from their constituents that these rate hikes are unsustainable. In a city with near 11 percent unemployment, raising water and sewer bills will only put more financial strain upon the city's residents.
Also residents should be aware that this loan comes with a $10.8 million underwriting fee for Goldman Sachs. The loan itself would total $1.8 billion, and Goldman Sachs would also be making profit off that through interest. Sacramento is a city that is already struggling with painful budget cuts. Sacramento has had to lay off police and firefighters, as well as hundreds of teachers and other city employees. The city has closed libraries, and discontinued other public services. Can the city afford this loan? (Examiner)
INDISPUTABLE CORRUPTION IN NEVADA 2012 GOP CAUCUS! Follow up on the corrupt article I posted yesterday. The same Yahoo/AP article I showed you yesterday.... Guess what, someone else also saw something similar so I checked it out!! BUSTED!!!!!!!!!!!!! How can this same article run on Newsmax 2/2/2102 on Thursday before the caucus!! I want a time machine, too!!!!!
Seriously, please tell Judge Napolitano if I disappear G-d forbid...it won't be from a time machine!! Let Ron Paul WIN so we can get some CURES released!! Google: Dr. Burzinski Cancer ....Dr. Oz knows of him & interviewed at length, Suzanne Sommers also brags about him in her books. RON PAUL is the ONLY person brave enough to call the FDA out on the corrupt terrorists that THEY are!!
Fact Checking the Media During an interview last month on CBS' Face the Nation, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta set the record straight on Iran: "Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No." But if you read recent news reports lately, you'd think otherwise.
The media coverage on Iran is mirroring the coverage in the lead-up to the Iraq war: grand claims about a smoking gun that doesn't exist. For example, The New York Times incorrectly reported last month that the latest International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report on Iran concluded that their nuclear program had a military objective. The paper's public editor, Arthur Brisbane, was forced to acknowledge their mistake and wrote: "Some readers, mindful of the faulty intelligence and reporting about Saddam Hussein's weapons program, are watching the Iran nuclear coverage very closely." Other media outlets such as National Public Radio, PBS and The Washington Post have been challenged on their coverage too.
A recent publication from the Center for Strategic and International Studies titled "The IAEA's Iran Report and Misplaced Paranoia," noted that "With few exceptions, these revelations are not exactly new. More importantly, neither is the thrust of the report: that Iran is developing some capabilities that can only be understood as preliminaries to the development of nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, early coverage of the report's release gives the opposite impression."
Many have recognized that the media failed to do its job in the lead-up to the Iraq war. The potential consequences of treading on that same path with Iran are grave. The U.S. has thus far spent over $1.2 trillion of borrowed money on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Military action against Iran would be disastrous for the region and for U.S. moral standing. A serious diplomatic track based on mutual trust and respect is the only way to achieve increased transparency. (Dennis Kucinich)
125 MW solar power plant to land in Arizona by end of 2013 Maricopa County, Arizona is set to play host to a 125 MW photovoltaic solar power plant, according to an announcement on Tuesday from Fluor Corporation. The company has won the separate contracts to build and maintain the facility, which upon completion will fleetingly join the ranks of the the world's largest photovoltaic solar farms. The project, known as Arlington Valley Solar Energy II (AVSE II) will be built on 1.8 square miles (4.7 sq. km) near to the Arlington Valley Combined Cycle Facility, a 577 MW natural gas plant also designed and built by Fluor.
"The State of California will benefit from the green energy delivered from the project as well as the solar panel sales from a San Diego-based manufacturer for a portion of the project," said John King, executive vice president of LS Power, who awarded the contract. (Giz Mag)
America's Most Miserable Cities 1-10: Miami, Detroit, Flint, West Palm Beach, Sacramento, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Toledo, Rockford, Warren
Miami is a playground for the rich and famous. Celebrities flock to parties at South Beach clubs and then return to their $10 million mansions in Miami Beach and Key Biscayne. It’s a leading city in culture, finance and international trade. But away from the glitz and glamor, many ordinary Miamians are struggling.
A crippling housing crisis has cost multitudes of residents their homes and jobs. The metro area has one of the highest violent crime rates in the country and workers face lengthy daily commutes. Add it all up and Miami takes the top spot in our ranking of America’s Most Miserable Cities.
The most famous way to gauge misery is the Misery Index developed by economist Arthur Okun in the 1960s, which combines unemployment and inflation. Our take on misery is based on the things that people complain about on a regular basis.
We looked at 10 factors for the 200 largest metro areas and divisions in the U.S. Some are serious, like violent crime, unemployment rates, foreclosures, taxes (income and property), home prices and political corruption. Other factors we included are less weighty, like commute times, weather and how the area’s pro sports teams did. While sports, commuting and weather can be considered trivial by many, they can be the determining factor in the level of misery for a significant number of people. One tweak to this year’s list: we swapped out sales tax rates for property tax rates. Miami would have finished No. 1 under the old methodology as well (click here for more details about the criteria for the list). (Forbes)
Cancer drugs affect mouse genomes for generations: DNA mutations continue to accumulate in offspring of treated mice. Three common chemotherapy drugs cause DNA mutations not only in mice that receive treatment, but also in their offspring, according to a study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA1.
The results suggest that the genome in treated mice became destabilized yielding new mutations long after exposure to the drugs has ceased. A similar phenomenon has been observed in mice exposed to radiation.
Genomic damage can be seen in the offspring of mice who have received chemotherapy drugs. (Nature)
Study: Outside ad spending up 1,600% Outside group spending on political ads is up 1,600 percent in the Republican primary, compared to this point in the 2008 race, new research shows.
The surge in spending is in large part because of the rise of super PACs, the study from the Wesleyan Media Project found.
Nearly half of the ads on the airwaves were paid for by super PACs this cycle, while ads sponsored by candidates are down 40 percent. In all, the volume of ads aired has increased slightly, 2 percent, over the last cycle.
Romney’s campaign has spent about $7 million so far this cycle, compared to $28 million ahead of 2008. And though his overall number of ads has decreased, he’s dominating his competitors. In Florida, Romney and outside groups who support him had paid for almost 13,000 television ads, as of last week, most of them paid for by a pro-Romney super PAC, Restore Our Future. Newt Gingrich and affiliated outside groups had only aired about 200 spots. Rick Santorum and Ron Paul aren’t in the TV ad game at all in the Sunshine State. (Politico)
How I woke up to the untruths of Barack Obama: The President's State of the Union address was as weaselly as any politician's could be.
When I happened to wake up in the middle of the night last Wednesday and caught the BBC World Service’s live relay of President Obama’s State of the Union address to Congress, two passages had me rubbing my eyes in disbelief.
The first came when, to applause, the President spoke about the banking crash which coincided with his barnstorming 2008 election campaign. “The house of cards collapsed,” he recalled. “We learned that mortgages had been sold to people who couldn’t afford or understand them.” He excoriated the banks which had “made huge bets and bonuses with other people’s money”, while “regulators looked the other way and didn’t have the authority to stop the bad behaviour”. This, said Obama, “was wrong. It was irresponsible. And it plunged our economy into a crisis that put millions out of work.”
I recalled a piece I wrote in this column on January 29, 2009, just after Obama took office. It was headlined: “This is the sub-prime house that Barack Obama built”. As a rising young Chicago politician in 1995, no one campaigned more actively than Mr Obama for an amendment to the US Community Reinvestment Act, legally requiring banks to lend huge sums to millions of poor, mainly black Americans, guaranteed by the two giant mortgage associations, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
It was this Act, above all, which let the US housing bubble blow up, far beyond the point where it was obvious that hundreds of thousands of homeowners would be likely to default. Yet, in 2005, no one more actively opposed moves to halt these reckless guarantees than Senator Obama, who received more donations from Fannie Mae than any other US politician (although Senator Hillary Clinton ran him close). (London Telegraph)
No Need to Panic About Global Warming -- There's no compelling scientific argument for drastic action to 'decarbonize' the world's economy. Editor's Note: The following has been signed by the 16 scientists listed at the end of the article:
A candidate for public office in any contemporary democracy may have to consider what, if anything, to do about "global warming." Candidates should understand that the oft-repeated claim that nearly all scientists demand that something dramatic be done to stop global warming is not true. In fact, a large and growing number of distinguished scientists and engineers do not agree that drastic actions on global warming are needed.
In September, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Ivar Giaever, a supporter of President Obama in the last election, publicly resigned from the American Physical Society (APS) with a letter that begins: "I did not renew [my membership] because I cannot live with the [APS policy] statement: 'The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth's physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.' In the APS it is OK to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible?"
In spite of a multidecade international campaign to enforce the message that increasing amounts of the "pollutant" carbon dioxide will destroy civilization, large numbers of scientists, many very prominent, share the opinions of Dr. Giaever. And the number of scientific "heretics" is growing with each passing year. The reason is a collection of stubborn scientific facts. (Wall Street Journal)
Twitter adopts country-specific censorship regime how will that work? - As Xeni wrote, Twitter has adopted Google's tactics for coping with legally binding censorship demands: from now on, when it receives a legal demand to censor a tweet, it will only censor that tweet for users in the country from which the demand emanates. Other countries' users will still see it. Users in the censored country will see a notice that material has been censored. Additionally, all censorship demands will be archived at Chillngeffects.org, a clearinghouse that tracks Internet censorship.
In many ways, this is preferable to the existing system, whereby legally enforceable censorship orders would affect all Twitter users. And of course, Twitter only has to honor censorship demands in countries where it has offices and assets; Lower Pottsylvania can require removal of every mention of Glorious Leader, but unless Twitter has an office there, it can safely ignore the orders (JWZ points out that Twitter has opened offices in many cenorious countries and plans to open offices in more, because there's money to be had by setting up local operations there). (Boing Boing)
Sacramento County supervisor challengers adopt Occupy platform Two candidates announced Wednesday that they will run on "pro-Occupy" platforms as they seek to unseat Sacramento County Supervisors Roberta MacGlashan and Susan Peters.
Jeff Kravitz, who is challenging Peters in north-central District 3, has been a volunteer attorney for Occupy Sacramento, which has been protesting at Cesar Chavez Plaza downtown. He is a civil rights attorney and former law professor, according to his biography. (Sacramento Bee)
Has Ex Goldman Sachs Staff turned Democrat Campaigner Infiltrated Occupy? Through the revolving door from Goldman Sachs to the Democrat Party, an experienced campaigner has maneuvered themselves into a position of influence with the Occupation Movement in the nations capitol. Connections with MoveOn.org, and Van Jones’ Rebuild the Dream, seem to be only the tip of the iceberg. For a movement that considers itself not only non-partisan, but anti-partisan, and entirely anathema to the corporate owned political institutions that exist, this should come as a serious blow.
Ali Savino was the initiator of Occupy DC’s Research and Policy Development Committee (RPD). This committee is responsible for not only policy development within the Occupy community, but, through the Occupy 2.0 committee, a sub group of RPD, plays a key role in establishing the future direction of the movement.
Ms. Savino works for NGP VAN in Washington, DC. Her Linkedin profile states that she works in ‘product design’ at the firm. NGP VAN’s product is political campaigns. Their web site boasts deep ties with the Democrat Party. Their Clients Page states:
NGP VAN is honored to power the fundraising, field, and new media activities for many of the leading Democratic and progressive organizations. Our software powers the Obama campaign’s voter contact, volunteer, fundraising and compliance operations in all 50 states. Clients include: ... (News Junkie Post)
8 Precinct Vote Totals Missing From Iowa Caucuses The Iowa Republican Party has certified the results of its caucuses earlier this month. Rick Santorum is 34 votes ahead, but the party will not declare a winner because there are missing results in eight precincts. Before the certification process, Mitt Romney had been declared the winner. (National Public Radio)
2012 GOP caucus count unresolved THE RESULTS: Santorum finished ahead by 34 votes
MISSING DATA: 8 precincts’ numbers will never be certified
PARTY VERDICT: GOP official says, ‘It’s a split decision’
Rick Santorum – Final total: 29,839 Change: -168
Mitt Romney – Final total: 29,805 Change: -210
It’s a tie for the ages.
There are too many holes in the certified totals from the Iowa caucuses to know for certain who won, but Rick Santorum wound up with a 34-vote advantage.
Results from eight precincts are missing — any of which could hold an advantage for Mitt Romney — and will never be recovered and certified, Republican Party of Iowa officials told The Des Moines Register on Wednesday.
GOP officials discovered inaccuracies in 131 precincts, although not all the changes affected the two leaders. Changes in one precinct alone shifted the vote by 50 — a margin greater than the certified tally. (Desmoines Register)
Until 2009, the human clitoris was an absolute mystery Humans have been studying one another sexually for thousands upon thousands of years. Yet for all that time spent diligently exploring one another's anatomies, there remain many features of the human form that, until very recently, have gone uncharted — chief among them being the clitoris.
How recently are we talking? Try 2009. Yeah. Get ready, everybody — it's time you were brought up to speed on some important features of the female anatomy.
Picture a clitoris in your mind. Got it? Now, what if I told you that what you're imagining is just the tip of a much larger, internal clitoral iceberg — that the clitoris is actually much, much larger than what this sensitive bundle of nerve endings would lead you to believe? (io9)
Sacramento's City Manager is demanding city employees pay more for pensions Sacramento's City Manager, John Shirey, threatened that 100 city employees would be laid off, unless all city employees paid more money towards their pensions. Currently, most city employees pay four percent of their paycheck to their pension; Shirey wants that raised to seven percent. If Shirey's proposal is enacted it would save the city $14.2 million. Seems like a simple enough solution right?
But what Shirey is leaving out of the story is that raising pension contributions is another word for pay cuts. Years ago the city bargained with its employees to cover a portion of employee's pension contributions in exchange for receiving no pay increase. In essence, a pay raise would result from the city covering a portion of the employee's pension contribution. So to now go back on that promise, to force city employees to pay the full employee contribution, would be to reverse those pay raises. Reversing pay raises means city employee's pay will be cut. (Examiner)
Spraying San Francisco, exposing the geo-engineers. On a heavy spraying day, we talked to passers-by on what they made of the persistent contrails blanketing the city, often referred to as chemtrails. Video features congressional candidate John Fitzgerald confronting top geoengineer Ken Caldeira at San Francisco public library. We also illustrate the difference between water based contrails and persistent contrails when a regular plane (with a short lived contrail) crosses the path of a persistent contrail at a similar altitude. (John Fitzgerald)
Rest In Peace Brendan Mess (short tribute video) (Friend of who died in 2011 Waltham murders) Short clip I put together showing a just one of the many happy moments we all shared. One of the best days of my life. On the set of our "Cups in The Air" music video shoot summer 0f 2010. Friends, music, food, drinks and goodtimes. Everyone was happy. Especially B. miss you like crazy bro! RIP
Is internet access a human right? As family life migrates online and the web becomes the home of free expression, it's getting harder for courts to prevent individuals going online - A recent United Nations Human Rights Council report examined the important question of whether internet access is a human right.
While the Special Rapporteur's conclusions are nuanced in respect of blocking sites or providing limited access, he is clear that restricting access completely will always be a breach of article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the right to freedom of expression.
But not everyone agrees with the UN's conclusion. Vint Cerf, a so-called "father of the internet" and a vice-president at Google, argued in a New York Times editorial that internet access is not a human right:
The best way to characterise human rights is to identify the outcomes that we are trying to ensure. These include critical freedoms like freedom of speech and freedom of access to information — and those are not necessarily bound to any particular technology at any particular time. Indeed, even the United Nations report, which was widely hailed as declaring internet access a human right, acknowledged that the internet was valuable as a means to an end, not as an end in itself. (London Guardian)
Librarians, Researchers Concerned as U.S. Terminates Only National Biodiversity Network The National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) program and its website will be terminated on January 15. As a result, the United States will no longer have a single, integrated point of access to federal and non-federal biological and biodiversity information.
The NBII program is managed by the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Biological Informatics Office whose FY12 budget was zeroed out (down from $7 million in FY10 and $3.5 million in FY11).
The NBII integrates biological databases, analytic tools, and 259 applications via various partners in government agencies, academic institutions, non-government organizations and others. By 2010, the number of unique visitors to the NBII’s online sites exceeded 3 million, with users downloading an average of a terabyte of data per month on topics ranging from bald eagles to malformed amphibians and far more.
But the disposition of these resources and their future accessibility is now highly uncertain and a source of concern for researchers and librarians. (The Digital Shift)
Homeland Security Given Green Light to Monitor American Journalists Under the National Operations Center (NOC)’s Media Monitoring Initiative that emerged from the Department of Homeland Security in November, Washington has written permission to collect and retain personal information from journalists, news anchors, reporters or anyone who uses “traditional and/or social media in real time to keep their audience situationally aware and informed.”
According to DHS, the definition of personal identifiable information can consist of any intellect “that permits the identity of an individual to be directly or indirectly inferred, including any information which is linked or linkable to that individual.” (The Blaze)
NDAA Protests End In Ironic Swarm Of Arrests The absurdity of America today never ceases to amaze. In fact, it has become so elaborate that one might even suggest it has reached a kind of poetic symmetry. When a protest group is willing to stick their necks out to expose the horror of the National Defense Authorization Act and its open door strategy for unconstitutional arrest and indefinite detainment of American citizens, I have to stand up and applaud. This is the kind of protest we need to see all over the country. Of course, any establishment system which is willing to dissolve the inherent liberties of its citizens certainly isn't going to stand by quietly while they blatantly point out the injustice. The Grand Central Terminal action featured in the video below is a perfect example of the swift and immediate stifling of peaceful dissent by an increasingly totalitarian government:
Responses to the event vary. Most people who have actually been exposed to the facts on the NDAA have expressed utter disgust and fury. Rightly so. Some, however, have taken the old elitist mantra, perpetuated effectively by the Neo-Cons in their heyday, that if you are not for the system, then you are a danger to society. Not surprisingly, there are still plenty of useful idiots out there buzzing about like parasites in search of blood. (Alt Market)
Awakening to Ron Paul’s Crony Capitalism Ron Paul believes in the feudalism of the land barons and gold bankers of King George. Ron Paul believes land and money are capital. Land and money are not capital. They are the common wealth. To declare any free market currency to be legal tender is state intervention and a corruption of free markets. Title to land is state intervention and corruption of free markets. The Bible and the classical liberals understand this distinction. Ron Paul does not understand this distinction. Ron Paul wants government to allow the banks and land barons to steal the common wealth. Ron Paul does not distinguish between earned wealth and wealth stolen through economic rent and monetary interest.
My article exposing Ron Paul as a globalist seeking the old world’s one world currency is getting a lot of traffic. Unfortunately, it seems a lot of people on forums discussing the article still have not awakened to the importance of the Endgame Ron Paul represents on the Grand Chessboard of the Red Symphony.
The awakening to the crimes of the New World Order is being misdirected into the worship of one man, Ron Paul, and into a blind faith of a false economic paradigm of crony capitalism and corruption of free markets of the worst kind by government, the Austrian School of Economics, funded by the same people, the Rockefeller Foundation, who take an active part in the funding and control of the New World Order. What is really dangerous is that it is sold as the opposition to the New World Order and as the opposition to crony capitalism and corruption of free markets by the government when it was funded by the New World Order and when it is crony capitalism and corruption of free markets by the government. (Liberty Revival)
Grading the Republican Presidential Candidates Anyone who's following presidential politics has a general sense that some Republicans are okay on the marijuana issue, and most Republicans are terrible.
But don't take our word for it, see for yourself in this video. MPP has compiled a collection of videos from the Republican presidential candidates' views on marijuana, and graded them accordingly. See which candidates pass the test, and which ones clearly have some work to do. (Marijuana Policy Project)
Juicing medical marijuana the latest trend in amazing cures There have been a few articles written about the multitude of environmentally sustainable industrial applications of hemp. There have been perhaps many more written about the medical applications of cannabis. Now there is a formerly skeptical California doctor who has found the optimal method of using marijuana for health.
Unfortunately, the DEA, an arm of the U.S. Justice Department, has made sure marijuana remains as a Class I drug under federal law. This classification means that a drug can be easily abused without acceptable safety even under medical supervision and basically has no medicinal merit.
The DEA declared this despite the fact that 926 medical research studies on non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) and other cannabinoids recorded in PubMed on September 22, 2011 were mostly positive with their pharmacological findings. And another government agency, The Department of Health and Human Services has a U.S. research patent on CBD from 2003. (Natural News)
The Power of RAW Cannabis. This is a must-watch video featuring some of the top researchers on the healing effects of Cannabis (Marijuana) in it's raw form, eaten or juiced.
Eating raw cannabis as medicine, dietary essential: new research
Cannabis is a dietary essential that helps all cell types function more effectively.
Is a medicine: anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, probably has some direct activity against cancerous cells.
This plant can do phenomenal things, but not if [you aren't taking a high enough dose].
Cannabis is the most important vegetable in the world.
American Drug War II - "Fight for Your Life" - (Test Trailer Wide)
Sacred Cow Productions - http://www.sacredcow.com/ (Sacred Cow Productions)
If them neutrinos are faster than light, physicists have a lot of work to do The story of the faster-than-light neutrinos is a rather unusual one. The good folks at Gran Sasso seem embarrassed by their own results. They had checked, rechecked, and re-rechecked their data, and investigated all the sources of systematic error they could think of, eliminating them all. Yet those pesky neutrinos were still arriving 60ns too soon. You might think this would be a cause for celebration—after all, finding exciting new physics on the horizon is supposed to be every physicist's dream, right?
The truth is that they knew they were not just getting close to a fire, but standing in the flames while taking a gasoline shower. The literature was going to fill up with papers that, in one way or another, stated they were wrong—very wrong. Two such papers have now come out, and they show just how hot the fire is going to get.
It's important to understand why this result is going to be aggressively attacked but the data probably won't. I don't think anyone has said the data is wrong; rather, they've suggested that the data has an intrinsic, but unknown, systematic error in it. A naive approach, when confronted with data that disagrees with fundamental models of how the Universe works, would be to say that this result shows that our model is wrong. In this case, we must toss out the standard model and replace it with something new. (ARS)
Tallahassee settles suit over informant Rachel Hoffman's death Tallahassee city commissioners approved a $2.6 million settlement Friday in the wrongful-death suit of a police informant who was fatally shot during a 2008 drug sting.
The parents of Rachel Hoffman, 23, sued after her death, claiming police were negligent in setting up the Florida State graduate as an undercover informant after she was caught with marijuana and pills without a prescription.
Jury selection for the lawsuit began this week and the trial was scheduled to begin Monday.
After a closed door session with attorneys Friday, commissioners voted 3-2 to approve the settlement, the first $200,000 of which will be paid by the city in the next few weeks, City Attorney Jim English said.
The rest will be paid after the Florida Legislature passes what is known as a "claims bill," which could take years. (Associated Press)
Iran: a quickly evolving geopolitical imbroglio As the days go by, the situation with Iran just gets increasingly complex and worrisome given the egregious saber rattling coming from both the West and Iran alike.
As I outlined in my article entitled “Positioning for war with Iran?”, it has become clear that the West is either arming surrounding neighbors as a deterrent, preparation for an unprovoked strike, or perhaps even to goad Iran into attacking Western interest first, thus justifying brutal retaliation.
My fledgling series about the global growth of NATO and the Western empire also covers aspects of this greater trend and how these issues constantly evolve and how so many seemingly disconnected events are in fact inseparably linked.
While these issues may seem disconnected for some, I think it is quite important to point out that in fact they couldn’t be more closely related in that they are both symptoms of the cancerous war profiteering industry that is not only robbing the American people blind in the name of freedom but also eliminating our civil liberties and slaughtering innocent people around the globe. (End The Lie)
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