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North Korea Throws Down Missile Gauntlet North Korea's launch of a long-range Taepo Dong-2 missile is a direct challenge not just to the United States but to the international community's resolve to confront threats to regional stability. U.N. Resolutions 1695 and 1718 unambiguously prohibited Pyongyang from launching a missile or "satellite." (The Heritage Foundation)
Study claims 'highly engineered explosive' found in WTC rubble In a study published by the Open Chemical Physics Journal -- a peer-reviewed, scientific publication -- Steven E. Jones and Niels Harrit level a stark allegation: that within the dust and rubble of the World Trade Center towers lays evidence of "a highly engineered explosive," contrary to all federal studies of the collapses (The Raw Story)
Should Obama Control the Internet? A new bill would give the President emergency authority to halt web traffic and access private data (Bills 773 & 778) Should President Obama have the power to shut down domestic Internet traffic during a state of emergency?
Senators John Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) think so. On Wednesday they introduced a bill to establish the Office of the National Cybersecurity Advisor—an arm of the executive branch that would have vast power to monitor and control Internet traffic to protect against threats to critical cyber infrastructure. That broad power is rattling some civil libertarians.
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The Cybersecurity Act of 2009 (PDF) gives the president the ability to "declare a cybersecurity emergency" and shut down or limit Internet traffic in any "critical" information network "in the interest of national security." The bill does not define a critical information network or a cybersecurity emergency. That definition would be left to the president. (Mother Jones)
How the Nation's Only State-Owned Bank Became the Envy of Wall Street The Bank of North Dakota is the only state-owned bank in America—what Republicans might call an idiosyncratic bastion of socialism. It also earned a record profit last year even as its private-sector corollaries lost billions. To be sure, it owes some of its unusual success to North Dakota’s well-insulated economy, which is heavy on agricultural staples and light on housing speculation. But that hasn’t stopped out-of-state politicos from beating a path to chilly Bismarck in search of advice. Could opening state-owned banks across America get us out of the financial crisis? It certainly might help, says Ellen Brown, author of the book, Web of Debt, who writes that the Bank of North Dakota, with its $4 billion under management, has avoided the credit freeze by “creating its own credit, leading the nation in establishing state economic sovereignty.” Mother Jones spoke with the Bank of North Dakota’s president, Eric Hardmeyer. - MJ: Would states with your model have any new tools to get out of the credit crisis?
EH: Let me put it to you another way and tell you another thing that we do. We also provide a dividend back to the state. Probably this year we’ll make somewhere north of $60 million, and we will turn over about half of our profits back to the state general fund. And so over the last 10, 12 years, we’ve turned back a third of a billion dollars just to the general fund to offset taxes or to aid in funding public sector types of needs.
MJ: Not bad for a state with a population of 600,000.
EH: Right. And here’s another thing: Back in 2001, 2002, when we went through the dot com bust, all the states suffered some sort of budget shortfall, including the state of North Dakota. At that time our budget shortfall was fairly insignificant--$40 some million. And so it was quite easy to overcome that. The governor just simply said alright, we’re going to turn back 1 percent of all general fund agencies, and the Bank of North Dakota, you will declare another dividend to make up the balance. And so we did that. Our capital was in a fine position to go ahead and do that. So in some cases we’ve acted as a rainy day fund.
MJ: And now the current downturn seems to have bypassed you.
EH: The State of North Dakota does not have any funding issues at all. We in fact are dealing with the largest surplus we’ve ever had. So our concern is how do we spend it wisely and make sure we save it for the future. (Mother Jones)
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