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Democrats, don't insult the voters I have seen many campaigns in my four decades in politics, but this one is the strangest. With a little more than a month to go and many races still very close, the Democratic message to their faithful is mind-boggling.
Voters want to know what's going on, and Democrats in particular are unhappy and unenthusiastic. So what does the national leadership of the party say about the voters?
They have been called whiners by the vice president. President Obama, who led them to victory two short years ago with record turnouts, is calling them "irresponsible." They have even been called stupid by the party's former presidential nominee John Kerry.
Just last week, Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate, implied the voters were too stupid to know what they are doing. "We have an electorate that doesn't always pay that much attention to what's going on, so people are influenced by a simple slogan rather than the facts or the truth or what's happening." (CNN)
Sooner or later, marijuana will be legal It's as predictable as the sun rising and setting. Even though police made more than 850,000 marijuana arrests last year, a recent government report shows youth marijuana use increased by about 9 percent.
Supporters of the failed war on drugs will no doubt argue this increase means policymakers should spend more taxpayer money next year arresting and incarcerating a greater number of Americans. In other words, their solution to failure is to do more of the same. Fortunately, the "reform nothing" club is getting mighty lonely these days -- 76 percent of Americans recognize the drug war has failed; millions are demanding change. (CNN)
Mousepox 'Superbug' Test Riles: Some Say Fed-Backed Virus Research Could Aid Terrorists A research team backed by a federal grant has created a genetically engineered mousepox virus designed to evade vaccines, underscoring biotechnology's deadly potential and stirring debate over whether such research plays into the hands of terrorists.
The team at Saint Louis University, led by Mark Buller, created the superbug to figure out how to defeat it, a key goal of the government's anti-terrorism plan.
The researchers designed a two-drug cocktail that promises to defeat their exceptionally deadly virus. They hope to publish their work soon in a peer review journal.
“The whole focus was to contribute to the biodefense agenda of the country,” Buller said.
Buller spliced a gene known to suppress the immune system into the mousepox virus, then injected the combined strand into vaccinated mice. All of them died. (Associated Press)
Does Fluoridation Up Bone Cancer Risk? Study Examines Boyhood Drinking of Fluoridated Water and Possible Links to Osteosarcoma Boys who drink fluoridated water have an increased risk of a deadly bone cancer, a new study suggests.
Elise Bassin, DDS, completed the study in 2001 for her doctoral dissertation at Harvard, where she now is clinical instructor in oral health policy and epidemiology. The study finally was published in the May issue of Cancer Causes and Control.
Bassin and colleagues' major finding: Boys who grew up in communities that added at least moderate levels of fluoride to their water got bone cancer -- osteosarcoma -- more often than boys who drank water with little or no fluoride.
The risk peaked for boys who drank more highly fluoridated water between the ages of 6 and 8 years -- a time at which children undergo a major growth spurt. By the time they were 20, these boys got bone cancer 5.46 times more often than boys with the lowest consumption. No effect was seen for girls. (WebMD)
BP and MMS Agree: “Seals, Sea Otters, and Walruses” Live in Gulf of Mexico In its emergency plans in the event of an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, BP made clear it knows how to save "seals, sea otters, and walruses" in the Gulf waters. The only problem is, no such animals live in the Gulf.
Indeed, it appears BP literally copied and pasted emergency response plans to apply to any spill in the world, regardless of the reality of the local ecosystems. While "seals, sea otters, and walruses" are a concern for oil spills in colder waters, there are none of those animals in the Gulf. (Fire Dog Lake)
Web blocks remain one year on for China's Uighurs For Ruzmammat, the Internet is a crucial way of keeping in touch with his Uighur friends in China's Xinjiang region -- a lifeline that was denied to him for 10 months following deadly ethnic riots.
Authorities cut off the web in Xinjiang in the aftermath of violence that erupted a year ago in the regional capital Urumqi between mainly Muslim Uighurs and majority Han Chinese, leaving nearly 200 dead and 1,700 injured. (Agence France-Presse)
China tightens Web screws after Xinjiang riot China clamped down on the Internet in the capital of China's northwestern region of Xinjiang on Monday, in the hope of stemming the flow of information about ethnic unrest which left 140 people dead.
The government has blamed Sunday's riots in Urumqi -- the deadliest unrest since the 1989 military crackdown on the Tiananmen pro-democracy demonstrations -- on exiled Muslim separatists. (Reuters)
Is Homophobia Associated With Homosexual Arousal? by Henry E. Adams, Lester W. Wright, Jr., and Bethany A. Lohr, University of Georgia - The authors investigated the role of homosexual arousal in exclusively heterosexual men who admitted negative affect toward homosexual individuals. Participants consisted of a group of homophobic men (n = 35) and a group of nonhomophobic men (n = 29); they were assigned to groups on the basis of their scores on the Index of Homophobia. The men were exposed to sexually explicit erotic stimuli consisting of heterosexual, male homosexual, and lesbian videotapes, and changes in penile circumference were monitored. They also completed an Aggression Questionnaire. Both groups exhibited increases in penile circumference to the heterosexual and female homosexual videos. Only the homophobic men showed an increase in penile erection to male homosexual stimuli. The groups did not differ in aggression. Homophobia is apparently associated with homosexual arousal that the homophobic individual is either unaware of or denies. (Journal of Abnormal Psychology)
Virus Attacks Siemens Plant-Control Systems Computer hackers have designed a virus that targets industrial control systems built by German engineering giant Siemens AG, activating a kind of malicious software that analysts say represents a growing corporate-espionage threat.
The virus, dubbed Stuxnet, is spread by devices plugged into USB computer ports. It is programmed to try to steal data from computer systems that are used to monitor large automated plants built for anything from manufacturing to power generation to water treatment. Siemens is one of the world’s largest makers of such industrial automated systems, though it doesn’t break out its annual revenue from such sales. (Wall Street Journal)
Military's Cyber Commander Swears: "No Role" in Civilian Networks If your business gets hacked, don’t bother calling the U.S. military’s new Cyber Command. Sure, the unit has some of the government’s top geeks — and is oh-so-conveniently co-located with the network infiltration experts at the National Security Agency. But Cyber Command is too busy trying to shore up the Pentagon’s digital defenses. Plus, they’re not even sure helping your company out would be legal, yet.
“Right now, we do not have a role,” new Cyber Command chief Gen. Keith Alexander tells reporters in a rare on-the-record interview. “Within the United States, I do not believe that’s where Cyber Command should or will operate.”
Changing that, Alexander adds, “is a decision the White House needs to make.”
Of course, it’s often hard to define where one national border begins and another ends on-line. The White House and Congress are both working on legal and policy re-writes which could alter where and how Cyber Command’s forces could wage information combat. Besides, Alexander already has forces that are operating domestically. He’s also the head of the NSA, which today works with American companies to secure their networks. (Wired)
Cybersecurity bill on list for passage this year Capitol Hill staffers have made progress stitching together cybersecurity proposals into a huge bill, aides said, with Senate leadership putting it on their short list for passage this year.
But stiff industry opposition and partisan tensions still make it unlikely comprehensive legislation will pass in 2010.
The legislation would require companies who sell the government USD 80 billion in hardware and software each year to bake in a certain level of security -- a potentially expensive prospect.
Senate Majority Harry Reid has put the measure on his list of top-priority bills to get through the Senate this year, the sources said.
The bill is a priority because leaps in technology have increased industrial productivity, but also left businesses and the US government vulnerable to foreign spies, such as the 2008 breach of US military computers using a single compromised thumb drive and identity thieves who have stolen untold numbers of consumer credit card numbers. (Reuters)
DHS fails cyber-security audit The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has utterly failed an extensive cyber-security audit conducted by the agency's own Inspector General (IG).
Indeed, the DHS US-CERT office is currently plagued by at least 600 vulnerabilities that could compromise sensitive data, including 202 which have been classified as high-risk.
"Adequate security controls have not been implemented on the [Mission Operating Environment] to protect the data processed from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification, or destruction," the IG confirmed in a recently published report. - As such, the Inspector recommended that the DHS immediately patch and updated its systems - particularly the ones located in the department's Virginia HQ.
Meanwhile, DHS spokeswoman Amy Kudwa confirmed that the agency had already implemented "a software management tool [to] automatically deploy operating-system and application-security patches and updates to mitigate current and future vulnerabilities." (TG Daily)
Obama internet 'kill switch' bill approved The US senators pushing a controversial new bill that some fear would give President Barack Obama the powers to seize control of and even shut down the internet have rejected claims it would give Obama a net "kill switch".
The bill, titled Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, has been unanimously approved by the US Homeland Security committee and will be put to a vote on the Senate floor shortly.
Lobby groups and academics quickly rounded on the bill, which seeks to grant the President broad emergency powers over the internet in times of national emergency.
Any internet firms and providers must "immediately comply with any emergency measure or action developed" by a new section of the US Department of Homeland Security, dubbed the "National Centre for Cybersecurity and Communications". (Sydney Morning Herald)
PROTECTING CYBERSPACE AS A NATIONAL ASSET ACT OF 2010 Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Chairman Joe Lieberman, Ranking Member Susan Collins, Senator Carper - Section 101: This section establishes an Office of Cyberspace Policy within the Executive Office of the President (EOP). The Office will be responsible for developing a national strategy to increase the security and resiliency of cyberspace as well as oversee, coordinate, and integrate all policies and activities of the federal government related to ensuring the security and resiliency of cyberspace. - Section 242: This section establishes a National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications (NCCC or the Center) within the Department of Homeland Security. The Center will be headed by a Director appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The Director will report directly to the Secretary of Homeland Security and serve as the principal advisor to the Secretary on cybersecurity and communications matters. The Director will regularly advise the President on the enforcement of policies pertaining to the security of federal government networks. The Center will have at least two Deputy Directors: one responsible for coordination with the Office of Infrastructure Protection and one responsible for coordination with the Intelligence Community. The Center will also have detailees from the Departments of Defense, Justice, and Commerce as well as the intelligence community and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The Center will also benefit from a full-time Chief Privacy Officer who will report to the Director. (US Congress)
China's Nuclear Exports and Assistance to Iran Chinese nuclear exports and assistance to Iran have been a major issue of controversy in Sino-US relations. While Beijing regards its nuclear cooperation programs with Tehran as legitimate and in compliance with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards provisions, Washington has tended to view such activities as contributing to Iran's covert nuclear weapons program. The US considers Iran to be a rogue state and has used various incentives and pressure tactics to dissuade China from continuing its nuclear deals with Iran. The debates on this question raise serious question not only about the criteria for international nuclear nonproliferation enforcement but also the nature and extent of US unilateralism from many other countries, which want to maintain and develop peaceful nuclear cooperation programs with non-nuclear weapons states, including Iran, if the latter follow IAEA safeguards and other relevant norms and practices. The US positions differ.
Since the mid-1990s, China has suspended its pending nuclear deals with Iran, including the planned sale of two 300MW nuclear reactors. There have been various explanations. Some suggest that Beijing bent under US pressure while others argue the deals fell through due to disagreement between China and Iran over terms of payment. In any case, the cancellation of the nuclear deals to some extent met US demands. However, this by no means ends all aspects of Sino-Iranian nuclear cooperation. Indeed, if anything, assistance continues, which remains a serious concern for the United States. (NTI)
Stuxnet worm rampaging through Iran: IT official The Stuxnet worm is mutating and wreaking further havoc on computerised industrial equipment in Iran where about 30,000 IP addresses have already been infected, IRNA news agency reported on Monday.
"The attack is still ongoing and new versions of this virus are spreading," Hamid Alipour, deputy head of Iran's Information Technology Company, was quoted as saying by IRNA, Iran's official news agency.
Stuxnet, which was publicly identified in June, was tailored for Siemens supervisory control and data acquisition, or SCADA, systems commonly used to manage water supplies, oil rigs, power plants and other industrial facilities. (Agence France-Presse)
Security experts: Computer attacks linked to wealthy group or nation A powerful computer code attacking industrial facilities around the world, but mainly in Iran, probably was created by experts working for a country or a well-funded private group, according to an analysis by a leading computer security company.
The malicious code, called Stuxnet, was designed to go after several "high-value targets," said Liam O Murchu, manager of security response operations at Symantec Corp. But both O Murchu and U.S. government experts say there's no proof it was developed to target nuclear plants in Iran, despite recent speculation from some researchers.
- US officials said last month that the Stuxnet was the first malicious computer code specifically created to take over systems that control the inner workings of industrial plants. A number of governments with sophisticated computer skills would have the ability to create such a code. They include China, Russia, Israel, Britain, Germany and the United States. But O Murchu said no clues have been found within the code to point to a country of origin. - Symantec's analysis of the code, O Murchu said, shows that nearly 60 percent of the computers infected with Stuxnet are in Iran. An additional 18 percent are in Indonesia. Less than 2 percent are in the U.S.
The malware has infected as many as 45,000 computer systems around the world. Siemens AG, the company that designed the system targeted by the worm, said it has infected 15 of the industrial control plants it was apparently intended to infiltrate. It's not clear what sites were infected, but they could include water filtration, oil delivery, electrical and nuclear plants. None of those infections has adversely affected the industrial systems, according to Siemens. (Associated Press)
Chertoff Group: Israel Cyber-Attacks Iranian Nuke Plant With Stuxnet Computer Virus Richard Falkenrath, a principal at Chertoff Group and a Bloomberg Television contributing editor, discusses the Stuxnet computer virus. The worm targets Siemens AG software used to control industrial equipment and may be aimed at destroying Iran's controversial nuclear facility, according to Ralph Langner, a German industrial controls safety expert, the Financial Times reported. Falkenrath, speaking from Washington, talks with Deirdre Bolton on Bloomberg Television's "InsideTrack." (Bloomberg)
Really Can't See Myself Voting Republican I don't care how many Ken Mehlmans come out of the closet or how little gays and lesbians have to show for helping to elect Barack Obama: I can't see myself voting Republican. Because I'm not—despite what you may have read in Slog's comments threads—a single-issue voter.
But honestly... I am a lot less enthused about voting for, and giving money to, Democrats these days. Still going to vote for 'em, just not enthused. Feeling pretty tepid. And I suspect that I'm not alone. - If we get no progress under Democrats (just empty promises meant to excite their base), but no regress under Republicans (just empty threats meant to excite their base), why should we waste our time--and our money--worrying about who's in charge? - So here's where we're at: everyone who cares about gay issues is mad at the Democrats. The homophobes are angry because the Democrats suggested that they might do something about gay rights; gays and lesbians are furious with the Democrats for failing to do something—failing to do anything—about gay rights. Since doing nothing pisses off the gay haters just as much as doing something, perhaps the Dems should've have done something and won the enthusiastic support of someone. (The Stranger)
Building a Better America: One Wealth Quintile at a Time by Michael I Norton of Harvard Business School and Dan Ariely of Duke University - Disagreements about the optimal level of wealth inequality underlie policy debates
ranging from taxation to welfare. We attempt to insert the desires of “regular” Americans into these debates, by asking a nationally representative online panel to estimate the current distribution of wealth in the United States and to “build a better America” by constructing distributions with their ideal level of inequality. First, respondents dramatically underestimated the current level of wealth inequality. Second, respondents constructed ideal wealth distributions that were far more equitable than even their erroneously low estimates of the actual distribution. Most important from a policy perspective, we observed a surprising level of consensus: All demographic groups – even those not usually associated with wealth redistribution such as Republicans and the wealthy – desired a more equal distribution of wealth than the status quo. - Most scholars agree that wealth inequality in the United States is at historic highs, with some estimates suggesting that the top 1% of Americans hold nearly 50% of the wealth, topping even the levels seen just before the Great Depression in the 1920’s. - These results demonstrate two clear messages. First, respondents vastly underestimated the actual level of wealth inequality in the United States, believing that the wealthiest quintile held about 59% of the wealth when the actual number is closer to 84%. More interesting, respondents constructed ideal wealth distributions that were far more equitable than even their erroneously low estimates of the actual distribution, reporting a desire for the top quintile to own just 32% of the wealth. These desires for more equal distributions of wealth took the form of moving money from the top quintile to the bottom three quintiles, while leaving the second quintile unchanged, evidencing a greater concern for the less fortunate than the more fortunate. - Overall, these results demonstrate two primary messages. First, a large nationally representative sample of Americans seem to prefer to live in a country more like Sweden than like the United States. Americans also construct ideal distributions that are far more equal than they estimated the United States to be. – estimates which themselves were far more equal than the actual level of inequality. Second, across groups from different sides of the political spectrum, there was much more consensus than disagreement about this desire for a more equal distribution of wealth, suggesting that Americans may possess a commonly held “normative” standard for the distribution of wealth despite the many disagreements about policies that affect that distribution, such as taxation and welfare. We hasten to add, however, that our use of “normative” is in a descriptive sense -- reflecting the fact that Americans agree on the ideal distribution -- but not necessarily in a prescriptive sense. While some evidence suggests that economic inequality is associated with decreased well-being and health, creating a society with the precise level of inequality that our respondents report as ideal may not be optimal from an economic or public policy perspective. (Michael I Norton and Dan Ariely)
Americans Vastly Underestimate Wealth Inequality, Support 'More Equal Distribution Of Wealth': Study Americans vastly underestimate the degree of wealth inequality in America, and we believe that the distribution should be far more equitable than it actually is, according to a new study.
Or, as the study's authors put it: "All demographic groups -- even those not usually associated with wealth redistribution such as Republicans and the wealthy -- desired a more equal distribution of wealth than the status quo."
The report (pdf) "Building a Better America -- One Wealth Quintile At A Time" by Dan Ariely of Duke University and Michael I. Norton of Harvard Business School (hat tip to Paul Kedrosky), shows that across ideological, economic and gender groups, Americans thought the richest 20 percent of our society controlled about 59 percent of the wealth, while the real number is closer to 84 percent. (Huffington Post)
Saving Capitalism from Itself, Greener Pastures Edition The peasants were restive. Medievalism was breaking up. So some academic theorists came up with a great idea for propping up the British throne — a shiny new theory known as the "divine right of kings." People had no right to question the king's decisions, they argued, because his authority came directly from God. - But there is a third option to our economic future.
I'm going to let Bill Clark explain it. He's a lawyer with a big corporate firm, Drinker, Biddle and Reath, a business law expert who has written corporate laws for Pennsylvania and other states. For the last few years he's been working with a nonprofit called B Labs -- here's the background in my last posting -- to write a new law that allows companies to reorganize themselves as "benefit corporations," which means that instead of only focusing on profit, they are also legally allowed to consider the impact their decisions will have on their workers, their community, their country, and the earth. So far, the law has passed in Vermont and Maryland and one branch of New York State's legislature. It's also pending in New Jersey, Washington state, and North Carolina. Next month, it's going to be introduced in Pennsylvania.
"What Maryland and Vermont are doing is changing the basic rule by saying that you have an obligation to consider the interests of other constituencies," Clark says. (Esquire)
Making the economy more just by Katrina vanden Heuvel - Congress has passed the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, but the task of transforming our economy into one of shared and sustainable prosperity has only just begun. Structural reform will come not through the sweep of a single piece of legislation but with new, innovative economic models that better reflect the democratic values of this country.
The good news is that some of these transformative ideas are already taking root. Here are five ways to build a more just economy that Americans are experimenting with across the country.
The answer is 'B'
Corporations are compelled to pursue a single objective: maximize profit. In fact, a company can be sued for following goals that veer from that statutory obligation.
That's why Maryland State Sen. Jamie Raskin sponsored the Benefit Corporation legislation that was signed into law this spring. It gives businesses the option to register as a "B corporation," an entity legally obligated to maximize both shareholder value and advance a common public purpose such as cleaner air, open space or affordable housing. The B corporation's stated public goal is vigorously monitored by independent, third-party groups. It's a new business model with social consciousness in its DNA.
B corporation legislation has also been passed in Vermont, and it is being considered in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington and Colorado. (Washington Post)
Let's hear those ideas: In America and Britain governments hope that a partnership with “social entrepreneurs” can solve some of society’s most intractable problems POLICYMAKERS on both sides of the Atlantic are keen on a new approach to alleviating society’s troubles. On July 22nd Barack Obama’s administration listed the first 11 investments by its new Social Innovation Fund (SIF). About $50m of public money, more than matched by $74m from philanthropic foundations, will be given to some of America’s most successful non-profit organisations, in order to expand their work in health care, in creating jobs and in supporting young people (see table). - As well as the CEO, the fund chose Venture Philanthropy Partners and New Profit, two of the leading intermediaries created by a new generation of philanthropists. These people take a businesslike approach to giving that The Economist christened “philanthrocapitalism” in 2006. Both organisations invest donors’ money in a portfolio of non-profit groups. They take a close interest in the growth of these groups and measure their performance obsessively.
In building his Big Society, Mr Cameron also expects to rely on such intermediaries, of which the Big Society Bank is likely to be foremost. Indeed, in some respects Britain may be ahead of America in using public funds to drive social entrepreneurship and innovation. “Unlike America,” notes Mr Goldsmith, “Britain has benefited from a decade of deliberate thinking about how government should work with the social sector.” A new corporate form, the public-interest company, has given British social entrepreneurs greater flexibility in using the profit motive to scale up social innovations. America is starting to follow suit, with the B-corp, a hybrid of for-profit company and non-profit organisation. (The Economist)
This Year, Contractor Deaths Exceed Military Ones in Iraq and Afghanistan More private contractors than soldiers were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent months, the first time in history that corporate casualties have outweighed military losses on America’s battlefields.
More than 250 civilians working under U.S. contracts died in the war zones between January and June 2010, according to a ProPublica analysis of the most recent data available from the U.S. Department of Labor, which tracks contractor deaths. In the same period, 235 soldiers died, according to Pentagon figures.
This milestone in the privatization of modern U.S. warfare reflects both the drawdown in military forces in Iraq and the central role of contractors in providing logistics support to local armies and police forces, contracting and military experts said. (ProPublica)
Most firms pay no income taxes -Congress: Study finds that the majority of domestic and foreign corporations in the United States avoid paying federal income taxes. Nearly two-thirds of U.S. companies and 68% of foreign corporations do not pay federal income taxes, according to a congressional report released Tuesday.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) examined samples of corporate tax returns filed between 1998 and 2005. In that time period, an annual average of 1.3 million U.S. companies and 39,000 foreign companies doing business in the United States paid no income taxes - despite having a combined $2.5 trillion in revenue.
The study showed that 28% of foreign companies and 25% of U.S. corporations with more than $250 million in assets or $50 million in sales paid no federal income taxes in 2005. Those companies totaled a combined $372 billion in sales for the largest foreign companies and $1.1 trillion in revenue for the biggest U.S. companies. (CNN)
Microcredit is the extension of very small loans (microloans) to those in poverty designed to spur entrepreneurship. These individuals lack collateral, steady employment and a verifiable credit history and therefore cannot meet even the most minimal qualifications to gain access to traditional credit. Microcredit is a part of microfinance, which is the provision of a wider range of financial services to the very poor.
The modern invention of microloans is credited to St. Louis entrepreneur Menlo Smith who was struck by the abject poverty he saw in the Philippines.
Microcredit is a financial innovation that is generally considered to have originated with the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. In that country, it has successfully enabled extremely impoverished people to engage in self-employment projects that allow them to generate an income and, in many cases, begin to build wealth and exit poverty.
Due to the success of microcredit, many in the traditional banking industry have begun to realize that these microcredit borrowers should more correctly be categorized as pre-bankable; thus, microcredit is increasingly gaining credibility in the mainstream finance industry, and many traditional large finance organizations are contemplating microcredit projects as a source of future growth, even though almost everyone in larger development organizations discounted the likelihood of success of microcredit when it was begun.
The United Nations declared 2005 the International Year of Microcredit. (Wikipedia)
How to Incorporate Philanthropy Into Your Business: Giving back can creates advantages in the for-profit world Recently divorced Mike Hannigan was in a grocery store looking for spaghetti sauce when he came across Newman's Own for the first time. Discovering that all the profits of the competitively priced brand were donated to charity made something to click for the office products company manager.
"As a consumer I wasn't making any sacrifice," he says. "Use business as a tool to accomplish a community goal — it made perfect sense."
In 1991 Hannigan started the office products company Give Something Back and committed to earmarking the company's profits for nonprofit organizations instead of shareholders or investors. Since then, the Oakland-based company has become the largest independent office products supplier in California and its main competitor is Staples' commercial division. - "I really encourage businesses that are starting up to incorporate the triple bottom line approach," says Christopher Ellinger, co-founder of Bolder Giving Initiative, an organization based in Boston and New York that aims to inspire and support donors to give at their full potential. That approach should be written into a clear mission statement that serves as the business’s moral compass.
Ellinger also suggests tapping into networks for social responsibility to get guidance and support. Prominent networks include B Corp, corporations that use business to address social and environmental problems, and the Social Venture Network. Beyond formal networks, informal ones can be valuable resources. "Reach out to people who have done it before and find out what lessons they've learned," Hannigan recommends. (Inc.)
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE), also known as the Bureau of Ocean Energy (BOE), and formerly known as the Minerals Management Service (MMS), is an agency of the United States Department of the Interior that manages the nation's natural gas, oil and other mineral resources on the outer continental shelf (OCS). The Offshore program, which manages the mineral resources on the OCS, is divided into three regions: Alaska, Gulf of Mexico, and the Pacific Ocean.
Headquartered in Washington, DC, the agency receives most of its revenue from leasing federal lands and waters to oil and natural gas companies with a profit margin of 98%. It is one of the largest revenue sources to the federal government after the IRS. The BOEMRE is responsible for inspection and oversight of energy companies to ensure they are following the law and protecting the safety of their workers and the environment. (Wikipedia)
We ignore rise in drug abuse among kids By William J. Bennett, Alexandra Datig and Seth Leibsohn - Last week, the government released its National Survey on Drug Use and Health. It didn't make much of a news splash, but it should have -- and in years past, it would have.
When a serious war is taking place, officials throughout the administration hold press conferences and issue statements while print and televised media across the country report on it. Almost none of this happened, although the reasons for talking and reporting are greater than they have been in a very long time.
Here's the takeaway: Illicit drug abuse is seriously affecting our children, our schools, our workplaces and our society. And it is on the rise. In 2009, nearly 22 million Americans were regularly abusing illicit drugs: a rise of 1.5 million abusers of marijuana from 2008 and a rise of 2.3 million users from 2007, a rise of 205,000 abusers of Ecstasy from 2008, a rise of 188,000 abusers of methamphetamine from 2008 and a rise of 800,000 abusers of prescription drugs from 2008. (CNN)
iPhone app scans bar codes for health, enviro ratings Just in time for the crazed holiday shopping season, San Francisco-based GoodGuide releases the first iPhone app that lets you scan bar codes for what the guide calls "impartial" health, environmental, and social responsibility ratings of not only the products you are scanning but their companies, too.
As our Webware staff wrote in August, "GoodGuide is the reason we have awards for tech services and products: it's a small and relatively unknown service that demonstrates real leadership on the Web." And as we report in Health Tech just this week, GoodGuide is an invaluable resource when shopping for toys, as it provides the levels of lead, mercury, chlorine, etc., that might be in the toys.
But GoodGuide's newest app is quite possibly the group's pinnacle achievement thus far. Now, instead of having to be organized enough to do your research online before hitting the stores, or using the app's 2008 iteration, which involves entering a product into a GoodGuide database on your phone, now anyone with an iPhone can literally scan bar codes while shopping. (CNet News)
Internal Revenue Service is the revenue service of the United States federal government. The agency is a bureau of the Department of the Treasury, and is under the immediate direction of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue. The IRS is responsible for collecting taxes and the interpretation and enforcement of the IRC (Internal Revenue Code). (Wikipedia)
Income tax in the United States: Ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment In response, Congress proposed the Sixteenth Amendment (ratified by the requisite number of states in 1913), which states:
The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.
The Supreme Court in Brushaber v. Union Pacific Railroad, 240 U.S. 1 (1916), indicated that the amendment did not expand the federal government's existing power to tax income (meaning profit or gain from any source) but rather removed the possibility of classifying an income tax as a direct tax on the basis of the source of the income. The Amendment removed the need for the income tax to be apportioned among the states on the basis of population. Income taxes are required, however, to abide by the law of geographical uniformity.
Some tax protesters and others opposed to income taxes cite what they contend is evidence that the Sixteenth Amendment was never properly ratified, based in large part on materials sold by William J. Benson. In December 2007, Benson's "Defense Reliance Package" containing his non-ratification argument which he offered for sale on the Internet, was ruled by a federal court to be a "fraud perpetrated by Benson" that had "caused needless confusion and a waste of the customers' and the IRS' time and resources." The court stated: "Benson has failed to point to evidence that would create a genuinely disputed fact regarding whether the Sixteenth Amendment was properly ratified or whether United States Citizens are legally obligated to pay federal taxes." See also Tax protester Sixteenth Amendment arguments. (Wikipedia)
‘Ardent Sentry’ Tests U.S., Canadian Crisis Response Capabilities Thousands of active-duty and National Guard servicemembers will take part in a two-week, Defense Department-sponsored nationwide emergency preparedness and response exercise that kicks off April 30, a senior department official said here yesterday.
A major focus of Operation Ardent Sentry - Northern Edge 2007 will be to test crisis-response coordination between federally controlled military forces and National Guard units that come under the command of state governors, Peter F. Verga, acting assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense, told the Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service at the Pentagon.
The exercise, directed by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is slated to end May 18. It is co-sponsored by U.S. Northern Command and also includes participation by the U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command, the Department of Homeland Security and the Canadian armed forces, according to NORTHCOM documents. (US Department of Defense)
Peter Power admits simultaneous drill The President of Visor Management admits his company was running a simulation for a major London corporation that postulated bombs going off at the exact same time in the exact same places as the bombs actually went off on July 7, 2005. (ITV News)
Gay Rights Campaign Contributions Down in Contentious Year So far during the 2010 election cycle, people and political action committees associated with this special interest area have donated $744,040 to federal candidates, with 96 percent of funds going to Democrats. That’s compared to more than $2 million contributed to federal candidates during the 2006 congressional elections and $1.8 million contributed during the 2008 presidential election cycle. (OpenSecretsblog)
Brzezinski Suggests False Flag Event Could Kick-Start Iran War Top globalist warns Congress of provocation or terrorist attack inside U.S. - Former National Security Advisor and founding member of the Trilateral Commission Zbigniew Brzezinski tacitly warned a Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week that an attack on Iran could be launched following a staged provocation in Iraq or a false flag terror attack within the U.S.
Brzezinski alluded to the potential for the Bush administration to manufacture a false flag Gulf of Tonkin type incident in describing a "plausible scenario for a military collision with Iran," which would revolve around "some provocation in Iraq or a terrorist act in the US blamed on Iran, culminating in a ‘defensive’ US military action against Iran that plunges a lonely America into a spreading and deepening quagmire eventually ranging across Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.” (Prison Planet)
Fake Maritime Boundaries The British Government has published a map showing the coordinates of the incident, well within an Iran/Iraq maritime border. The mainstream media and even the blogosphere has bought this hook, line and sinker.
But there are two colossal problems. (Craig Murray)
U.S. to Suffer Losses Upon Attacking Iran -- Russian General According to the head of Moscow’s air defenses, General Yuri Solovyov, Iran’s air defense system is strong and the United States will suffer losses if they attack this Middle Eastern country. Solovyev conceded that the U.S. military greatly outweighs the Iranian one and that eventually that would ensure America’s air supremacy.
“Iran’s weapons, among others, include our anti-aircraft systems which allow them to fight all types of flying objects currently in service in the U.S. army ... Besides, we all remember our specialists have trained them since Soviet times,” Solovyov was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency. (MosNews)
Putin warns US policy creating new arms race Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Saturday that the United States' increased use of military force is creating a new arms race, with smaller nations turning toward developing nuclear weapons.
Speaking at a conference of the world's top security officials, including Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, Putin said nations "are witnessing an almost uncontained hyper use of force in international relations."
"One state, the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way," he told the 250 officials, including more than 40 defense and foreign ministers. (Associated Press)
The War on Iran The US has completed major military maneuvers in the Persian Gulf within a short distance of Iranian territorial waters. This naval deployment is meant to "send a warning to Tehran" following the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1747, which imposes major economic sanctions on Iran in retaliation for its non-compliance with US demands regarding its uranium enrichment program.
The US war games off the Iranian coastline involved the participation of two aircraft carriers, the USS John Stennis carrier group and the USS Eisenhower with some 10,000 navy personnel and more than 100 warplanes. The USS John C. Stennis aircraft carrier group, which is part of the US Fifth Fleet, entered the Persian Gulf on March 27, escorted by guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54). (Global Research)
ABC News Exclusive: The Secret War Against Iran A Pakistani tribal militant group responsible for a series of deadly guerrilla raids inside Iran has been secretly encouraged and advised by American officials since 2005, U.S. and Pakistani intelligence sources tell ABC News.
The group, called Jundullah, is made up of members of the Baluchi tribe and operates out of the Baluchistan province in Pakistan, just across the border from Iran.
It has taken responsibility for the deaths and kidnappings of more than a dozen Iranian soldiers and officials. - The Iranian TV broadcast is interspersed with the logo of the CIA, which the broadcast blamed for the plot.
A CIA spokesperson said "the account of alleged CIA action is false" and reiterated that the U.S. provides no funding of the Jundullah group.
Pakistani government sources say the secret campaign against Iran by Jundullah was on the agenda when Vice President Dick Cheney met with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in February.
A senior U.S. government official said groups such as Jundullah have been helpful in tracking al Qaeda figures and that it was appropriate for the U.S. to deal with such groups in that context.
Some former CIA officers say the arrangement is reminiscent of how the U.S. government used proxy armies, funded by other countries including Saudi Arabia, to destabilize the government of Nicaragua in the 1980s. (ABC)
Report: Saudis, US sponsoring covert action against Iran The governments of Saudi Arabia and the United States are working with other states in the Middle East to sponsor covert action against Iran, according to a report in this month's edition of The Atlantic. The report also suggests that covert attacks may occur against Iran's oil sector.
David Samuels, in a lengthy article on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's diplomatic initiatives in the Middle East, reports that the US is promoting a campaign against Iran that includes covert action.
Last fall, he writes, "Rice and her colleagues in the administration decided to embark on a daring and risky third course: a coordinated campaign, directed with the help of the intelligence services of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, and the United Arab Emirates....The bill for the covert part of this activity, which has involved funding sectarian political movements and paramilitary groups in Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, and the Palestinian territories, is said to amount to more than $300 million. It is being paid by Saudi Arabia and other concerned Gulf states, for whom the combination of a hasty American withdrawal from Iraq and a nuclear-armed Iran means trouble." (The Raw Story)
The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism? by Seymour M. Hersh - A STRATEGIC SHIFT - In the past few months, as the situation in Iraq has deteriorated, the Bush Administration, in both its public diplomacy and its covert operations, has significantly shifted its Middle East strategy. The “redirection,” as some inside the White House have called the new strategy, has brought the United States closer to an open confrontation with Iran and, in parts of the region, propelled it into a widening sectarian conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.
To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda. (The New Yorker)
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