You Decide

Always decide for yourself whether anything posted in my blog has any information you choose to keep.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

 

"A perfect storm is brewing for the IPCC

Follow the money trail in ever central planning mandate they attempt force through as law to bleed us dry.  Hope every one of them ends up exposed as (name the latest deception)-gate. 

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"A perfect storm is brewing for the IPCC

The emerging errors of the IPCC's 2007 report are not incidental but fundamental, says Christopher Booker

By Christopher Booker
Published: 7:49PM GMT 27 Feb 2010

Source Telegraph.co.uk

"The news from sunny Bali that there is to be an international investigation into the conduct of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and its chairman Dr Rajendra Pachauri would have made front-page headlines a few weeks back. But while Scotland and North America are still swept by blizzards, in their worst winter for decades, there has been something of a lull in the global warming storm – after three months when the IPCC and Dr Pachauri were themselves battered by almost daily blizzards of new scandals and revelations. And one reason for this lull is that the real message of all the scandals has been lost.

The chief defence offered by the warmists to all those revelations centred on the IPCC's last 2007 report is that they were only a few marginal mistakes scattered through a vast, 3,000-page document. OK, they say, it might have been wrong to predict that the Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035; that global warming was about to destroy 40 per cent of the Amazon rainforest and cut African crop yields by 50 per cent; that sea levels were rising dangerously; that hurricanes, droughts and other "extreme weather events" were getting worse. These were a handful of isolated errors in a massive report; behind them the mighty edifice of global warming orthodoxy remains unscathed. The "science is settled", the "consensus" is intact.

But this completely misses the point. Put the errors together and it can be seen that one after another they tick off all the central, iconic issues of the entire global warming saga. Apart from those non-vanishing polar bears, no fears of climate change have been played on more insistently than these: the destruction of Himalayan glaciers and Amazonian rainforest; famine in Africa; fast-rising sea levels; the threat of hurricanes, droughts, floods and heatwaves all becoming more frequent.

All these alarms were given special prominence in the IPCC's 2007 report and each of them has now been shown to be based, not on hard evidence, but on scare stories, derived not from proper scientists but from environmental activists. Those glaciers are not vanishing; the damage to the rainforest is not from climate change but logging and agriculture; African crop yields are more likely to increase than diminish; the modest rise in sea levels is slowing not accelerating; hurricane activity is lower than it was 60 years ago; droughts were more frequent in the past; there has been no increase in floods or heatwaves.

Furthermore, it has also emerged in almost every case that the decision to include these scare stories rather than hard scientific evidence was deliberate. As several IPCC scientists have pointed out about the scare over Himalayan glaciers, for instance, those responsible for including it were well aware that proper science said something quite different. But it was inserted nevertheless – because that was the story wanted by those in charge.

In addition, we can now read in shocking detail the truth of the outrageous efforts made to ensure that the same 2007 report was able to keep on board IPCC's most shameless stunt of all – the notorious "hockey stick" graph purporting to show that in the late 20th century, temperatures had been hurtling up to unprecedented levels. This was deemed necessary because, after the graph was made the centrepiece of the IPCC's 2001 report, it had been exposed as no more than a statistical illusion. (For a full account see Andrew Montford's The Hockey Stick Illusion, and also my own book The Real Global Warming Disaster.)

In other words, in crucial respects the IPCC's 2007 report was no more than reckless propaganda, designed to panic the world's politicians into agreeing at Copenhagen in 2009 that we should all pay by far the largest single bill ever presented to the human race, amounting to tens of trillions of dollars. And as we know, faced with the prospect of this financial and economic abyss, December's Copenhagen conference ended in shambles, with virtually nothing agreed.

What is staggering is the speed and the scale of the unravelling – assisted of course, just before Copenhagen, by "Climategate", the emails and computer codes leaked from East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit. Their significance was the light they shone on the activities of a small group of British and US scientists at the heart of the IPCC, as they discussed ways of manipulating data to show the world warming faster than the evidence justified; fighting off legitimate requests for data from outside experts to hide their manipulations; and conspiring to silence their critics by excluding their work from scientific journals and the IPCC's 2007 report itself. (Again, a devastating analysis of this story has just been published by Stephen Mosher and Tom Fuller in Climategate: The CRUtape Letters).

Almost as revealing as the leaked documents themselves, however, was the recent interview given to the BBC by the CRU's suspended director, Dr Phil Jones, who has played a central role in the global warming scare for 20 years, not least as custodian of the most prestigious of the four global temperature records relied on by the IPCC. In his interview Jones seemed to be chucking overboard one key prop of warmest faith after another, as he admitted that the world might have been hotter during the Medieval Warm Period 1,000 years ago than it is today, that before any rise in CO2 levels temperatures rose faster between 1860 and 1880 than they have done in the past 30 years, and that in the past decade their trend has been falling rather than rising.

The implications of all this for the warming scare, as it has been presented to us over the past two decades, can scarcely be overestimated. The reputation of the IPCC is in shreds. And this is to say nothing of the personal reputation of the man who was the mastermind of its 2007 report, its chairman, Dr Rajendra Pachauri.

It was in this newspaper that we first revealed how Pachauri has earned millions of pounds for his Delhi-based research institute Teri, and further details are still emerging of how he has parlayed his position into a worldwide business empire, including 17 lucrative contracts from the EU alone. But we should not expect the truth to break in too suddenly on this mass of vested interests. Too many people have too much at stake to allow the faith in man-made global warming, which has sustained them so long and which is today making so many of them rich, to be abandoned. The so-called investigations into Climategate and Dr Michael "Hockey Stick" Mann seem like no more than empty establishment whitewashes. There is little reason to expect that the inquiry into the record of the IPCC and Dr Pachauri that is now being set up by the UN Environment Programme and the world's politicians will be very different.

Since 1988, when the greatest scare the world has seen got under way, hundreds of billions of pounds have been poured into academic research projects designed not to test the CO2 warming thesis but to take it as a given fact, and to use computer models to make its impacts seem as scary as possible. The new global "carbon trading" market, already worth $126 billion a year, could soon be worth trillions. Governments, including our own, are calling for hundreds of billions more to be chucked into absurd "carbon-saving" energy schemes, with the cost to be met by all of us in soaring taxes and energy bills.

With all this mighty army of gullible politicians, dutiful officials, busy carbon traders, eager "renewables" developers and compliant, funding-hungry academics standing to benefit from the greatest perversion of the principles of true science the world has ever seen, who are we to protest that their emperor has no clothes? (How apt that that fairy tale should have been written in Copenhagen.) Let all that fluffy white "global warming" continue to fall from the skies, while people shiver in homes that, increasingly, they will find they can no longer afford to heat. We have called into being a true Frankenstein's monster. It will take a mighty long time to cut it down to size."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/7332803/A-perfect-storm-is-brewing-for-the-IPCC.html


Sunday, February 28, 2010

 

"Pelosi says GOP has hijacked 'tea party' movement

   

Poor Pelosi can't see beyond her power grabbing arrogance.

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"Pelosi says GOP has hijacked 'tea party' movement

WASHINGTON – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is questioning whether the conservative "tea party" coalition truly represents a grass-roots movement.

In a broadcast interview, Pelosi calls tea party voters the "astroturf" movement........"

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100228/ap_on_go_co/us_pelosi_tea_party


Sunday, February 28, 2010

 

"Debra Medina, new star of America's right, is firing up the race for Texas governor

Sad we have to depend on foreign press to let us know what's happening here.

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"Debra Medina, new star of America's right, is firing up the race for Texas governor

Debra Medina of the Tea Party movement is making a Sarah Palin-like impact with policies stressing property rights and gun ownership

Paul Harris in Lytle, Texas
The Observer, Sunday 28 February 2010
Source Guardian.co.uk
(photo) Texas Republican candidate Debra Medina at a press conference in Houston this month. Photograph: Pat Sullivan/AP

"Lytle is a blink-and-you'll-miss-it kind of town, one of hundreds that dot the vast flat ranchlands of southern Texas. A smear of houses by the main highway between San Antonio and Laredo. Population: 2,383. The first streets only got paved here in the years after the second world war. A sewage system took a little longer, not being built until the 1960s. In short, Lytle, Texas, has never been big enough to have much impact on the politics of the Lone Star state. And few Texas politicians have ever paid much attention to it.

Until Debra Medina, that is. When Medina breezed into Lytle's community hall the locals found themselves confronted with a Texan version of Sarah Palin. She wore a sharp scarlet skirt suit, librarian-style glasses and a puffed-up hairdo. More than 60 Lytle residents had gathered to meet her, a hefty turnout on a weekday at 11am for a Republican primary election in the race to be Texas governor. Medina has become a political phenomenon in Texas. Emerging as a genuine star of the rightwing populist Tea Party movement, she delivers a fiery message of slashing taxes and the abolition of almost all forms of federal government, and issues dire warnings that President Obama is taking America down a slippery slope to Soviet-style communism.

It's working. Previously unheard of by the vast majority of Texans, Medina has set the race for governor on fire, upsetting the primary contest between the incumbent, Rick Perry, and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Those gathered to see Medina in Lytle loved her. Young and old, men and women, Latino and white, listened with rapt attention as she outlined her agenda and asked them to back her in this week's first round of voting. If she can beat Hutchison into second place, she can secure a runoff against Perry. That would raise the possibility – distant but real – of a Tea Party activist capturing the government of the second biggest state in America. The Tea Party movement would have gone from being a bunch of ragtag protesters to heading one of the largest single economies in the world. "If we can change politics as usual in Texas, then we can change politics as usual across America. This is not just about Texas, but about changing the whole country," Medina told the Observer before addressing her supporters in Lytle.

She is not alone in that ambition. Across America other extreme candidates have emerged on the Republican right to challenge familiar party figures with a fiery mix of Tea Party-inspired populism. In Arizona, Senator John McCain is facing a tough re-election fight against a former congressman, JD Hayworth, who has expressed public doubts as to whether Obama was born a legitimate American citizen. In Florida the moderate Republican governor, Charlie Crist, is lagging badly in his own primary election to rightwing challenger Marco Rubio, who has the backing of local Tea Party groups.

On the right of US politics, this is big stuff. Instead of forcing mainstream Republicans to woo them for their votes, the rightwingers are now bidding for power. It is an attempt at revolution that could have huge meaning for America and the world, especially given the disastrous showing of Democrats in recent polls and elections. Medina knows this. After her speech she ended with a plea to her audience. "We can win this race," she said, then held up her hand and squeezed two fingers together. "It is this close."

Later that night, at a firemen's association hall in the much larger city of San Antonio, Medina's face stared down from a huge screen as she delivered a long policy monologue. To her audience she was the very antithesis of establishment power: a heroic revolutionary, out to destroy government and bring power to the people. "She is not a career politician. Everything she is saying will make Texas better than what it is," said Sergeant Shawn Mendoza, 30, a veteran of three tours to Iraq and Afghanistan. A few minutes later the flesh-and-blood version of Medina entered the hall. She got a standing ovation before she had said a word.

She began her stump speech again, still wearing the outfit she had in Lytle. But when it comes to speeches Medina is no Sarah Palin. She has no need to write on her hand to remember her talking points. Instead her speech was a complex walk through her extreme anti-government philosophy, citing sources as varied as the Austrian school of economics, St Augustine and modern French philosophers. She said she wanted to get rid of property taxes and allow Texans to do whatever they wanted with anything they owned, whether that was dig for oil or build an extension. There was, she said, no constitutional basis for a federal Department of Education or an Environmental Protection Agency or the Federal Reserve. Texas should assert its rights almost as a nation-state, controlling over its own National Guard units. The disdain for government was visceral. The American way, she said, was simple. "There are two rights essential to freedom: private property and gun ownership."

Such thoughts find fertile ground in Texas. This state has always had a swaggering, independent streak and a dislike for too many laws. Medina was born on a farm near the small town of Beeville in south Texas. She speaks with a homely Texas accent and worked as a nurse before entering politics at county level in the 1990s. Her bid for governor was largely ignored by the media as she crisscrossed the state for 13 months, visiting small town after small town. Gradually she crept up in the polls and forced her way into the televised debates, where she performed strongly. Campaign money began to pour in. One poll puts her as high as 24%, just behind Hutchison and within reach of catching her and forcing Perry into a runoff.

Medina believes she is not really in third place, citing the fact that the polls only telephone previous Republican primary voters, whereas she is bringing in thousands of new supporters. "I feel fantastic. I think we can win this," she said in Lytle.

Only once has Medina slipped up – in an interview she gave to the conservative radio host Glenn Beck. On his show Medina was asked if she thought the US government might have had a role in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. She replied: "I don't." She then went on to expand disastrously upon that answer. "I don't have all the evidence there… I think some very good questions have been raised in that regard. There are some very good arguments and I think the American people have not seen all the evidence there, so I have not taken a position on that," she said.

Those comments provided ample ammunition for her political rivals. Her march forward in the polls was halted and some of her advances chipped away. The only time Medina appeared unnerved in Lytle or San Antonio was when a woman in the audience mentioned the Beck interview and asked her if she was a "Truther", in reference to the conspiracy theory that the government planted bombs to blow up the World Trade Centre. Medina looked flustered and started to answer before saying suddenly: "No! No!" and moving on to a new question.

But such areas are the home ground of the Tea Party movement. At almost any Tea Party event it is easy to meet Truthers or Birthers or those who believe Obama is a closet Stalinist or a Nazi or a Muslim fundamentalist or indeed all three together, no matter how blindingly contradictory such beliefs are. In San Antonio one member of the audience wore an Oath Keepers T-shirt. Oath Keepers are a group of veterans, soldiers or police officers who fear their own government is about to attack the American people or round up conservatives into concentration camps. The oath they have sworn to keep is to refuse to obey such orders. That sort of thing remains a fundamental problem for the politicians from the Tea Party seeking high office.

Calvin Jillson, a political scientist at Dallas's Southern Methodist University, believes the Tea Party can be understood as the latest in a long line of explosions of political rage in America. They include the Populist party that won elections in several states during the 1890s recession and the millions who voted for Ross Perot's presidential candidacy in the 1980s. "These things happen but they burn out like a prairie fire. We are in the middle of it right now but when the economy picks up it will fade away," Jillson said.

Yet the crowd in Lytle could not see any sign of economic recovery. Their rage did not feel like it would fade away. "I'm so mad, it's like chewing nails," said Lytle businesswoman Priscilla Squires, 60. She saw this week's primary as the start of fundamental change in America, while the experts say Medina's Tea Party will crash against the barricades of the ballot box. They are probably right. Yet Texas has always been a little different. "I don't think a Medina win is likely," said Jillson "But nothing is impossible. This is Texas after all."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/feb/28/tea-party-debra-medina-texas


Saturday, February 27, 2010

 

"Bank of America Gaming Government Loan Guarantees

"Bank of America Gaming Government Loan Guarantees

Submitted by bmoreland on 02/26/2010 11:22 -0500

Source ZeroHedge.com

"I have long suspected that it was only a matter of time before banks began to adjust their Collection efforts to reflect Government Guarantees on their loan portfolios.

Simply put, imagine you are a bank with $100 billion in loans. Of this, $20 Billion is guaranteed by the government, $80 billion is your own money. If you managed the collection organization responsible for servicing this debt wouldn't you be just a wee bit tempted to make sure that your $80 billion was getting the priority?

The table below details the past 12 quarters of Total Loans for Bank of America along with the portion that is Noncurrent:

The Noncurrent percentage has jumped from 5.30% in Q3 to 6.75% in Q4. Quarter on Quarter there is another $12.44 Billion in Noncurrent loans.

The next table details the same 12 quarters and reviews what portion of the Noncurrent loans are guaranteed by the Government (er, you and me the taxpayer):

Bank of America has had a massive jump in the Noncurrent loans that are Governement Guaranteed. The Quarter on Quarter jump is... wait for it... $11.40 Billion.

So, magically, the incremental $12.44 Billion that has become Noncurrent Quarter on Quarter at Bank of America has a guarantee on $11.40 Billion. Nearly 92% of the jump in their Noncurrent loans are covered by us, the taxpayer.

This is no consipiracy theory discussion - these are cold hard facts supporting what any reasonable actor would do in the situtation. If the government is going to cover my losses on a portion of my loan portfolio I can well guarantee you I'd be moving my best collectors to the portfolio I'm responsible for. The government can have my new hires, my undesirables, my slow workers, etc...

I highly doubt that we'll ever hear about this, but this is yet another massive shift from the taxpayer to the banks."

http://www.zerohedge.com/article/bank-america-gaming-government-loan-guarantees


Saturday, February 27, 2010

 

"George Soros, 'at centre of hedge funds plot to cash in on fall of the euro'

"Man who broke the Bank of England, George Soros, 'at centre of hedge funds plot to cash in on fall of the euro'

By Karl West
Last updated at 8:52 AM on 27th February 2010

Source DailyMail.co.uk 

(photo)  "The man about to break the euro? George Soros is said to be placing large bearish bets against the single currency

"A secretive group of Wall Street hedge fund bosses are said to be behind a plot to cash in on the decline of the euro.

Representatives of George Soros's investment business were among an all-star line up of Wall Street investors at an 'ideas dinner' at a private townhouse in Manhattan, according to reports.

A spokesman for Soros Fund Management said the legendary investor did not attend the dinner on February 8, but did not deny that his firm was represented.

At the dinner, the speculators are said to have argued that the euro is likely to plunge in value to parity with the dollar.

The single currency has been under enormous pressure because of Greece's debt crisis, plus financial worries in Portugal, Italy, Spain and Ireland.

But, it has also struggled because hedge funds have been placing huge bets on the currency's decline, which could make the speculators hundreds of millions of pounds.

The euro traded at $1.51 in December, but has since fallen to $1.34. Details of the secretive dinner emerged days after Mr Soros, chairman of Soros

Fund Management, warned in a newspaper article that the euro could 'fall apart' even if the European Union can agree a deal to shore up support for stricken Greece.

Mr Soros, who made more than $1billion by currency speculation when the pound was ejected from the Exchange Rate Mechanism on Black Wednesday in 1992, believes the structure of the euro is 'patently flawed'.

(photo) Hitting back: Greek PM George Papandreou blames 'speculators' for preying on the country's troubles

He said: 'Makeshift assistance should be enough for Greece, but that leaves Spain, Italy, Portugal and Ireland.

'Together they constitute too large a portion of euroland to be helped in this way.'

He believes that unless the European Commission is given sweeping powers over taxation and spending, the single currency will always be vulnerable to financial turbulence in individual states.

'If member countries cannot take the next steps forward, the euro may fall apart,' he added.

Last night, Greek prime minister George Papandreou hit back at the 'speculators' who he blames for preying on the country's troubles.

Following a visit by EU economic inspectors and experts from the International Monetary Fund, he told the country's parliament that the worst fears about Greece's economy had been confirmed.

Greece is desperate to restore the confidence of investors in its debt after revealing that the previous government understated its budget deficit by half.

Outlining the precarious nature of Greece's finances, Mr Papandreou said: 'There is only one dilemma: Will we let the country go bankrupt or will we react?

'Will we let the speculators strangle us, or will we take our fate in our own hands?'

The Greek leader also called for more help from the EU with its debt crisis. Until now, the EU has offered political support but no bailout.

(photo) With friends like this: The cover of the German magazine 'Focus' this week, which shows the Venus de Milo giving the finger by a headline accusing Greece of swindling its way into the euro

(photo) Row: Greek daily Eleftheros Typos ran this depiction of the statue of the goddess Victoria, atop the Siegessaeule in Berlin, holding a swastika earlier this week in reaction to the Focus cover

But a row is still festering between Berlin and Athens over the crisis.

(photo) Tight spot: German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the situation was 'difficult'

A Greek consumer group called for a boycott of German goods today after a German magazine blasted the country as 'cheats.

The new trade war came as Angela Merkel admitted the euro is in 'a difficult situation' for the first time.

She spoke as German magazine Focus ran a cover image of the armless Venus de Milo somehow raising her middle finger under the headline 'Cheats in the euro family' to suggest that Greece deliberately misled EU peers to swindle its way into the euro.

The cover sparked outrage in Greece, prompting the demands for a boycott. A Greek newspaper has also hit back, running an image showing the statue of the goddess Victoria atop the Siegessaeule in Berlin holding a swastika.

'The falsification of a statue of Greek history, beauty and civilisation, from a time when there (in Germany) they were eating bananas on trees is impermissible and unforgivable,' a statement from the Consumer Institute (INKA) said.

'Greeks are no crooks, we want the German government to condemn this most improper publication,' said INKA president George Lakouritis.

'If you have such friends, what do you need enemies for?'

INKA distributed leaflets in central Athens and in front of German-owned consumer electronics store Media Markt, urging Greeks to heed the boycott.

Merkel's government has so far deflected appeals to promise aid to heavily indebted Greece. Opinion polls show that a majority of Germans oppose a bailout.

Germany's ambassador to Greece, Wolfgang Schultheiss, said yesterday he regretted that German press reports caused offence. 'Germany is firmly on Greece's side,' Schultheiss said after being summoned by Greece's parliament speaker Filippos Petsalnikos.

But it wasn't enough for Mr Lakouritis. 'The ambassador's statements were not satisfactory,' he said.

Yesterday Mrs Merkel admitted that Greece's debt crisis has plunged the euro into a ‘difficult situation'.

The admission from the leader of Europe's biggest economy prompted fresh fears about the collapse of the single currency.

In the gravest sign yet of the international threat posed by Greece’s crippling debt crisis, Mrs Merkel warned for the first time that the eurozone faces a ‘ dangerous’ period." 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1253791/Is-man-broke-Bank-England-George-Soros-centre-hedge-funds-betting-crisis-hit-euro.html


Saturday, February 27, 2010

 

"Fannie Taps Treasury for $15.3 Billion More After a 10th Loss

Would be nice to have stock in companies which make printing presses for the Fed.

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"Fannie Taps Treasury for $15.3 Billion More After a 10th Loss

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=alet_UTqF04M


Thursday, February 25, 2010

 

"Dropping the H-BombHow dangerous is a "herpes bomb"?

A friend sent this.  Mind boggling if it proves true.

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"Dropping the H-BombHow dangerous is a "herpes bomb"?

By Brian PalmerPosted Monday, Feb. 22, 2010, at 6:16 PM ET
Source Slate Magazine

Amy Bishop. Click image to expand.Amy Bishop

"News reports suggest that Amy Bishop, the biology professor who shot six of her colleagues at the University of Alabama-Huntsville on Feb. 12, may also have planted a "herpes bomb"

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/21/us/21bishop.html?ref=us

in the building where she worked. Bishop conducted research on the virus as a post-doctoral fellow. Would a herpes bomb be dangerous?

Probably not. The herpes virus is fragile, minimally transmissible, and rarely deadly, which is why no government or terrorist group has ever made a herpes-based device, as far as we know. Herpes virions can't survive the heat of an explosion, and they don't spread well through the air. (Varicella, or chicken pox, is the only common member of the herpes family that can go airborne, but most adults are immune to the disease, so it wouldn't make a good weapon.) In order for a herpes bomb to make anyone sick, the virus particles would first have to survive the explosion and then be thrown into direct contact with a victim's mucosal surface, like the insides of his mouth or genitals, or into his eyes. They could also land on a wound or open sore, and thus enter his bloodstream directly. Plus, if Bishop's bomb hasn't gone off yet, it probably expired several days ago. Herpes can't last more than a couple of days outside the body at room temperature, even in a pH-balanced saline solution.

A successful herpes attack isn't likely to cause much suffering, anyway. Ninety percent of adults over 50 have already been exposed to the oral form of herpes, and 22 percent have been exposed to the genital form. Many people experience no symptoms at all from these viruses, and most of the others only develop a few sores as a result of infection. The worst-case scenario is brain swelling, but that typically occurs in patients whose immune systems are compromised, like pregnant women, people with HIV/AIDS, and those undergoing cancer treatment. There are more deadly forms of herpes, like Herpes B, which is carried by macaques and kills more than 50 percent of the people who contract it. A successful attack with one of these strains could indeed be deadly, but there is no indication that Bishop had access to any of them.

It's not easy to build a biological weapon, even if you do have a big enough supply of virus particles. Soviet and American experts spent years developing a form of Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis virus that could be deployed in a military context. They first had to derive a particularly tough strain. Then they formulated a chemical shell to protect it from the hot and dry explosion required to disperse the virus, and also to give it some added bulk so the victim's breath wouldn't blow it right back out after it landed inside the mouth, throat, or lungs. (The ideal diameter is between one and three microns. Herpes, like many viruses, is around one-tenth that size.) It is unlikely that an assistant professor with no professional experience in biological weapons development would have the expertise to accomplish these steps.

The anthrax letters of 2001—which seem to have been the work of a sophisticated scientist—were among a very small number of terror attacks in which aerosolized pathogens were used to infect the intended victims. Those with less expertise are better off using food- or waterborne pathogens. The Rajneeshees, a religious cult in Oregon, managed to infect 751 people in 1984 with Salmonella by contaminating restaurant salad bars. In any event, Bishop seems to have had enough experience to know that a bomb would be an impractical method of infecting her colleagues. Instead, she might have tried contaminating their laboratory equipment or pouring a saline solution containing the virus into their water bottles."

Explainer thanks Bryan R. Cullen of Duke University, Nishal Mohan of the Federation of American Scientists, Patricia Spear of Northwestern University, and Raymond Zilinskas of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies."

http://www.slate.com/id/2245621/?GT1=38001


Thursday, February 25, 2010

 

"Annals of Government Medicine

"Annals of Government Medicine

February 24, 2010 Posted by John at 9:55 PM

Source Powerlineblog.com
 
The London Times reports on England's latest medical scandal:

Patients were routinely neglected or left "sobbing and humiliated" by staff at an NHS trust where at least 400 deaths have been linked to appalling care.

An independent inquiry found that managers at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust stopped providing safe care because they were preoccupied with government targets and cutting costs. ...

Staff shortages at Stafford Hospital meant that patients went unwashed for weeks, were left without food or drink and were even unable to get to the lavatory. Some lay in soiled sheets that relatives had to take home to wash, others developed infections or had falls, occasionally fatal. Many staff did their best but the attitude of some nurses "left a lot to be desired".

Attitudes under socialism generally leave a lot to be desired.

The report, which follows reviews by the Care Quality Commission and the Department of Health, said that "unimaginable" suffering had been caused.

Unimaginable suffering--that pretty much sums up government-controlled medicine. That's our future, though, if the Democrats get their way. They care only about their own power, not about the quality of your medical care."

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2010/02/025676.php


Thursday, February 25, 2010

 

"Beware of McCain's Freedom - Destroying Dietary Supplement Regulatory Bill

Is McCain the pharmaceutical conglomerate's latest sock puppet? 

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"CAFTA and Dietary Supplements
by Rep. Ron Paul, MD
Source LewRockwell.com
"The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the Central American Free Trade Agreement in the next two weeks, and one little-known provision of the agreement desperately needs to be exposed to public view. CAFTA, like the World Trade Organization, may serve as a forum for restricting or even banning dietary supplements in the U.S.

The Codex Alimentarius Commission, organized by the United Nations in the 1960s, is charged with “harmonizing” food and supplement rules between all nations of the world. Under Codex rules, even basic vitamins and minerals require a doctor’s prescription. The European Union already has adopted Codex-type regulations, regulations that will be in effect across Europe later this year. This raises concerns that the Europeans will challenge our relatively open market for health supplements in a WTO forum. This is hardly far-fetched, as Congress already has cravenly changed our tax laws to comply with a WTO order.

Like WTO, CAFTA increases the possibility that Codex regulations will be imposed on the American public. Section 6 of CAFTA discusses Codex as a regulatory standard for nations that join the agreement. If CAFTA has nothing to do with dietary supplements, as CAFTA supporters claim, why in the world does it specifically mention Codex?

Unquestionably there has been a slow but sustained effort to regulate dietary supplements on an international level. WTO and CAFTA are part of this effort. Passage of CAFTA does not mean your supplements will be outlawed immediately, but it will mean that another international trade body will have a say over whether American supplement regulations meet international standards. And make no mistake about it, those international standards are moving steadily toward the Codex regime and its draconian restrictions on health freedom. So the question is this: Does CAFTA, with its link to Codex, make it more likely or less likely that someday you will need a doctor’s prescription to buy even simple supplements like Vitamin C? The answer is clear. CAFTA means less freedom for you, and more control for bureaucrats who do not answer to American voters.

Pharmaceutical companies have spent billions of dollars trying to get Washington to regulate your dietary supplements like European governments do. So far, that effort has failed in America, in part because of a 1994 law called the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act. Big Pharma and the medical establishment hate this Act, because it allows consumers some measure of freedom to buy the supplements they want. Americans like this freedom, however – especially the health conscious Baby Boomers.

This is why the drug companies support WTO and CAFTA. They see international trade agreements as a way to do an end run around American law and restrict supplements through international regulations.

  The largely government-run health care establishment, including the nominally private pharmaceutical companies, want government to control the dietary supplement industry – so that only they can manufacture and distribute supplements. If that happens, as it already is happening in Europe, the supplements you now take will be available only by prescription and at a much higher cost – if they are available at all. This alone is sufficient reason for Congress to oppose the unconstitutional, sovereignty-destroying CAFTA bill."

July 19, 2005

Dr. Ron Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas.

http://www.lewrockwell.com/paul/paul261.html

_____________

"Beware of McCain's Freedom-Destroying Dietary Supplement Regulatory Bill     
 
Written by Ann Shibler   
Thursday, 11 February 2010 12:04
Source JBS.org

"Most are familiar with those commercials on television promoting prescription drugs that supposedly offer relief from a variety of ailments, if one would only pressure one’s doctor to obtain them. They have become a source of great entertainment and amusement to some, the kicker coming at the end of each commercial when the FDA-approved medication’s obligatory litany of warnings and dangerous side effects is recited: “Tell your doctor if....” and “Side effects may include.....” Some of the warnings are mild like diarrhea and constipation, some list serious effects like cancer or tuberculosis, and others admit that sometimes even death can result.

The point here is that these are all FDA-approved drugs being advertised and used extensively. Drugs that can cause serious diseases like lymphoma. Drugs that can kill. The FDA’s dismal safety record is well documented; even PBS ran a Frontline special that investigated and exposed the FDA’s unsafe drug record, the influence of Big Pharma inside the FDA, and lack of long-term testing and medical review of many, many dangerous drugs. The FDA seldom removes a drug from the market even after it proves to be harmful or deadly, however they do post quarterly reports with details of the latest potentially dangerous side effects of drugs currently under investigation.

Nonetheless, Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) wants this same FDA, with its dismal safety record, to regulate dietary supplements. The Dietary Supplement Safety Act (DSSA), S. 3002 (text of this bill posted on Senator McCain's website), that McCain has introduced with one cosponsor, would repeal key provisions of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) to “more effectively regulate dietary supplements that may pose safety risks unknown to consumers.”

Under attack by the DSSA is the once-protected field of supplements, as they have always been considered food. Potencies would have to be reduced to comply with what appears to be a plan modeled after the European Food Safety Authority. A new list of “Accepted Dietary Ingredients” would be “prepared, published, and maintained by the Secretary,” in the future. That’s a bit like being handed a blank check and told to fill it out later as one wishes. It could certainly be used to severely limit access to, and even production of, hundreds of life-sustaining and essential mineral, herb, and vitamin products.

All ingredients contained in each supplement would have to be disclosed at the time the company registers all of its “manufactured, packaged, held, distributed, labeled or licensed,” products with the FDA. An onerous burden would be placed on the shoulders of suppliers and retailers of dietary supplements, as they would have to “obtain written evidence” from the seller that the product is registered as required by law, and keep that documentation on file. Monetary penalties for non-compliance “may, in addition to other penalties imposed in this section, be fined not more than twice the gross profits or other proceeds derived from the manufacture, packaging, holding, distribution, labeling, or license of such dietary supplement.”  Those are very broad dictates and most likely subject to even broader interpretation.

The McCain bill would change existing mandatory serious adverse reporting regulations, requiring minor adverse effects to be reported as well so that the FDA could arbitrarily pull supplements off the shelves or reclassify them as drugs. This immediate recall authority would be granted to the “Secretary upon determination,” that there is a “reasonable probability”  that the product is “adulterated” or “misbranded.” Adulterated in this bill takes on a whole new expanded definition: “A dietary supplement which contains a new dietary ingredient shall be deemed adulterated under section 402(f) unless there is a history of use or other evidence of safety.”  The development of new products that contain newly discovered nutritional components may be entirely quashed.

The hypocritical contrast between the regulation of drugs that can kill and the proposed hyper-regulation for food products -- vitamins, minerals, herbs -- is as plain as the nose on everyone's face.

A Pandora’s box of intended and unintended legal complications and government harassment of nutritional supplement manufacturers and sellers could very well be unleashed if this bill is passed. There are already existing laws on the books that protect consumers from misbranded, fraudulent, or contaminated products. Granting the FDA additional regulatory authority over nutritional supplements seems a bit suspicious, especially considering the influence the enormous pharmaceutical industry has wielded over the research, development, and approval process inside the FDA. Let’s face it, the FDA has been no friend and often has been positively antagonistic toward the nutritional supplement industry. Therefore one wouldn’t set the wolf to guarding the sheep without dire consequences.

In this perverted overly-regulated country, food is now toxic, and drugs and chemicals are safe for ingestion, no matter the harm that results. This inversion should remind us that those who best have the consumers health and safety interests at heart are the consumers themselves. It is big government that has a proven track record of not protecting the public.  And it is big government that is seeking to take away yet another individual freedom, the right to choose one’s own treatment. (Where is the pro-choice crowd on this one; the ones that claim, “my body, my choice?”)

Contact your federal legislators and urge them not to cosponsor, support, or vote for such a power-grabbing, bill. Let them know Americans want unrestricted access to nutritional supplements, and the government out of their health choices.

Sen. McCain described his bill as a “no brainer.”  For constitutionalists it’s a “no brainer” that it should be rejected for the dictatorial, power-grabbing, choice-limiting attack on the nutritional marketplace and individual freedoms that it is."

http://www.jbs.org/health-care-freedom-blog/5957-proposed-dietary-supplement-regulatory-bill


Thursday, February 25, 2010

 

The Federal Reserve has the authority to buy the debt of any foreign government, essentially obligat

Heads up, pay close attention as to what we may be on the hook to bail out.  Yesterday I posted that AIG seems to be holding its hand out for another bail out due to guarantees written in Greece.  Now this.

2010 elections are going to be very interesting indeed.

_________________

Source The Market Ticker

Wednesday, February 24. 2010

Posted by Karl Denninger in Federal Reserve at 21:03

"Repeal Of Law Needed NOW

Watch this clip, right near the end.  4:30 into the clip onward.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urkJ2WCQ5R0

Yes, Ron Paul went off on quite the rant.

But that last minute......

The Federal Reserve has the authority to buy the debt of any foreign government, essentially obligating The US Taxpayer to bail them out!

Bernanke says he has no plans, but notice that he did not say they have never done such a thing.

Hmmm.... two-line bill to revoke that BS anyone?

Anyone?"

http://market-ticker.org/archives/2003-Repeal-Of-Law-Needed-NOW.html


Thursday, February 25, 2010

 

"The Ultimate Ponzi Scheme – FDIC is Backing $5.3 Trillion through the Deposit Insurance Fund that n

Another opinion about the econonomy with charts.  You decide.

_________

"The Ultimate Ponzi Scheme – FDIC is Backing $5.3 Trillion through the Deposit Insurance Fund that now has a Balance of -$20.8 Billion. FDIC has Cash and Marketable Securities of $66 Billion. Is that Really Enough to Back Every Account for $250,000?

Posted by mybudget360

http://www.mybudget360.com/the-ultimate-ponzi-scheme-fdic-is-backing-5-3-trillion-through-the-deposit-insurance-fund-that-now-has-a-balance-of-20-8-billion-fdic-has-cash-and-marketable-securities-of-66-billion-is-that/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+mybudget360%2FQePx+%28My+Budget+360%29


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

 

Remember the AIG bailout, well there seems to be more.

Greece is in severe financial trouble and if this information is correct our government has placed us on the hook to bail them out, along with other EU countries.

The entire article from Market Ticker deals with some metaphors which should not be taken out of context ..... therefore if you're a skim scanner with limited attention span don't bother.  Otherwise it's a very good read for fiscal conservatives worried about the economic future of this nation.

Hmmmm .... while we're worried about Obamacare being shoved down our throats we won't notice another AIG bailout to bail out Greece and other EU countries now will we???????????????  Interesting timing indeed.

__________

Excerpted from The Market Ticker

".........You haven't seen the half of what happened though - not yet.  It appears that AIG - the company we have bailed out (thus far) to the tune of some $100 billion plus, in fact isn't done.  It appears they may have written credit protection on Greece.  If this allegation by the German equivalent to The New York Times is true Americans are going to be asked to pay billions of dollars - or more likely, hundreds of billions (since Greece is almost certainly not the only place - try Spain, Portugal, Ireland, etc) to bail out a bunch of FOREIGN NATIONS.

Do you both think Americans can and will pay that bill?  A bill that has been forced on us, and yet benefits not The United States economy, but foreigners

Wars - big wars - start over much less, my friends.

Oh, and let's not forget - some 30% of Greece's workers went out on strike to protest their "austerity measures."  That's right - one in three.

The Fed and our fabulous Treasury Secretary already gave tens of billions of our hard-earned money to foreign banks to prop them up via AIG.  That was just a down payment; now we all get to - quite literally - buy all their houses over in Europe.  They get to keep living in them. ........"

http://market-ticker.org/archives/1993-How-Long-Before-You-Wake-Up,-Politicos.html

____________

Sunday, February 21, 2010

"German Paper Says AIG May Have Sold CDS on Greece

Source NakedCapitalism.com

From FAZ,. Note the text below, translated by EuroSavant, replaces an earlier GoogleTranslate version. You can read an English version of the entire article here.

http://www.eurosavant.com/2010/02/21/cds-just-another-evanescent-bubble/

In the larger scheme of things, this example shows how AIG could have, and probably did, serve to channel funds from the public at large to speculators.

London investment bankers name AIG as a further CDS-seller. That company had to be nationalized during the financial crisis due to its having written insolvency insurance on American mortgages. This debt-load would have led to the collapse of the world’s biggest insurer. Prior to the financial crisis AIG is said to have widely held State credit-risk. If yet-larger insurance positions on Greece exist, then the American government would have a strong interest in preventing that country’s insolvency.

Even if these are mere rumors about the Greek banks and AIG, this example makes clear the weakness of CDS markets. This protection is sold by banks or insurers who themselves have access only to limited capital resources. They have as a rule clearly lesser credit-worthiness than the states for which they are selling insolvency protection. Insurance by CDS could turn out to be just a bubble."

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2010/02/german-paper-says-aig-may-have-sold-cds-on-greece.html#comments


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

 

"Fritz Henderson is back at GM, for $3,000 an hour

"Fritz Henderson is back at GM, for $3,000 an hour

By Alex Taylor III, senior editor   February 23, 2010: 11:58 AM ET

"NEW YORK (Fortune) -- After resigning as president and CEO of General Motors in December, Fritz Henderson might have gone into hiding or decided to sit out the harsh Michigan winter on a Florida beach.

Instead, here he is popping up again, this time as a consultant to GM on international operations at the very fancy fee of $59,090 a month for 20 hours of work a month. That works out to almost $3,000 an hour for a CEO who was ousted after just eight months on the job.

Is this one of those phony retired CEO arrangements, where the outgoing guy gets a fancy advisory deal to pass on his accumulated knowledge and wisdom to his successor? The phone may never ring, but the retiree gets to pocket a nice piece of change and an opportunity to pretend that he's still in the game.

According to GM insiders, the Henderson deal is on the up-and-up. Nobody can quarrel with his knowledge of GM's global business. While he was still on the regular payroll, he ran Latin America and the Middle East, Asia Pacific, and Europe........"

http://money.cnn.com/2010/02/22/autos/gm_fritz_henderson.fortune/?section=magazines_fortune


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

 

"Speaking of reconciliation

A short trip on the not so far back wayback-machine.  All of them in the video whined like babies until they gained a super majority now they're behaving like two year olds who each ate a 5 lb bag of sugar, washing it down with an energy drink.  Tme for elections to send them all home to the 'no fun chair' where they can figure out what the heck happened.

________

"Speaking of reconciliation...

Source Powerlineblog.com

"Watching this video assembling the vehement pronouncements of prominent Democrats inveighing against circumvention of the filibuster, It would be easy for a citizen to become cynical about politics. It would be easy, but it would be right.

Naked Emperor News has compiled the wise words of Democratic worthies including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, Joe Biden, Dianne Feinstein, Christopher Dodd (who is in especially good form) and Max Baucus denouncing the threat that Senate Republicans might abolish the use of the filibuster to obstruct judicial nominations.

The video leads off with Barack Obama worrying about "majoritarian absolute power" -- you know, the kind the Founders warned against. And it continues with timely thoughts from relevant actors, most of whom have continued in the Senate and will have the opportunity to adapt their past wisdom to current needs. It's a living Constitution, after all!

This is an impressive and educational highlight reel."

Click link to watch video

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2010/02/025673.php


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

 

"A Third of All U.S. Casualties in Eight-Year Afghan War Have Occurred Since Obama Ordered Escalatio

Fact USSR (Russia) was bankrupted in Afghanistan.  It's recognized by financially savvy people our economy is being decimated by the current administration's financial irresponsibility ....... so are they willfully emulating what destroyed another super power to finish us off????  

The toll in human life can is incalculable.  Sincerest condolences to their families.  May the rest of the troops be brought home safely and sound in every respect very soon.

____________


Source CNSNews.com
"A Third of All U.S. Casualties in Eight-Year Afghan War Have Occurred Since Obama Ordered Escalation
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
By Edwin Mora

"A U.S. soldier returns fire as others run for cover during a firefight with insurgents in the Badula Qulp area, West of Lashkar Gah in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, on Sunday, Feb. 14, 2010. (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)
(CNSNews.com) -- More than 300 U.S. soldiers have died in  the war in Afghanistan since May 15, 2009, the day when the first major wave of new troops ordered by President Barack Obama arrived in the country.
 
The 308 U.S. casualties in Afghanistan since then account for about a third of the total of 920 U.S. casualties in the eight-year war.
 
Of the 308 soldiers who have died since mid-May 2009, 287 were killed by enemy action, according to a CNSNews.com database of all casualties in the Afghanistan theatre of war.
 
The southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar located along the Afghan border with Pakistan have been the deadliest regions for U.S. soldiers since President Obama's escalation in U.S. forces in the region began.  
 
Approximately 81 U.S. soldiers have died in combat in Helmand and 58 in Kandahar, for a total of 139 in those two provinces.  That is about 45 percent of the U.S. casualties in Afghanistan since May 15 of last year.
 
On Feb. 17, 2009, President Obama ordered the deployment of 17,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. The main body of those troops arrived in Kandahar on May 15, 2009.
 
In December 2009, Obama stepped up his surge with 30,000 more troops, bringing the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan to more than 100,000.
 
Last year was the deadliest for American soldiers since the U.S.-led military effort in Afghanistan began in October 2001.

President Obama and Vice President Biden at the White House on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2010. (AP Photo)
CNSNews.com’s database of Afghanistan war casualties is derived primarily from official U.S. Defense Department casualty reports, but also includes information gleaned from reports in the news media.
 
The database includes all U.S. military personnel who died or received a fatal wound in Afghanistan or Pakistan. It does not include U.S. miltary personnel who died outside of Afghanistan while supporting military efforts against terrorism under Operation Enduring Freedom.

On Feb.13, the United States started a major operation in central Helmand, a Taliban stronghold.  It is focused on the city of Marjah, which has about 80,000 inhabitants.

The operation, known as Mushtarak, which means "together" in Dari, involves 15,000 U.S.-led NATO and Afghan soldiers, with Afghan soldiers making up at least half of the offensive force.

In a Feb. 21 speech at Princeton University, Army Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. commander overseeing troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, predicted a “tough” casualty level resulting from the initiative.
 
"We've gotten the inputs right, now we are embarking on what's going to be the output," he said. "The reality is, it's going to be hard, it's going to be hard all the time. We're going to have tough losses."
 
So far, there have been 14 reported casualties from battles in Helmand since Operation Mushtarak started.
 
On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Gen. Petraeus indicated that the Marjah operation is the “initial salvo” of a bigger 12-to-18-month campaign.
 
Using the Marjah operation as an example, the general pointed out that the flow of the 30,000 troops that Obama ordered last December is beginning to produce “output.”
 
When announcing his troop surge last December, President Obama mentioned that troops will begin to draw down in July 2011. However, military officials have indicated that this will depend on conditions on the ground."

http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/61811


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

 

"US diplomats add a moat to their expenses at $1bn London embassy

While US citizens are losing jobs, becoming homeless from foreclosure ...... they want to build this.  Have they totally lost their minds????

________

"From The Times

February 24, 2010

"US diplomats add a moat to their expenses at $1bn London embassy

 

Design for the new US Embassy in London
A model of the US Embassy in Battersea, complete with moat 30m wide and rolling parkland
Catherine Philp, Diplomatic Correspondent 
 
Source Timesonline.co.uk

"The United States has unveiled plans for its new $1 billion high-security embassy in London — the most expensive it has ever built.

The proposals were met with relief from both the present embassy’s Mayfair neighbours and the residents and developers of the Battersea wasteland where the vast crystalline cube, surrounded by a moat, will be built.

The decision to abandon the former site in Grosvenor Square by 2016 came after a prolonged battle with residents angered by the security measures demanded after the September 11 attacks. More than a hundred residents took out a full-page advertisement in The Times to oppose tighter measures that they said would leave the area more vulnerable to attack.

The new embassy, on a former industrial site behind Battersea power station known for its gay clubs, will be designed by Kieran Timberlake, the Philadelphia architect.

A moat 30 metres (100ft) wide and rolling parkland will separate the building from the main road, protecting it from would-be bombers and removing the need for the blast barriers that so dismayed the people of Mayfair.

The State Department sought to play down the cost of security measures, noting the expense of London building work. But the price puts the London embassy above the US’s most fortified missions, including the Baghdad embassy, which cost $600 million (£390 million) but required a further $100 million of work on air conditioning, and the Islamabad embassy, still under construction, which has cost more than $850 million.

It also does not include the 17.5 per cent VAT demanded by the Treasury on all buildings in Britain and which the US has refused to pay.

Louis Susman, the US Ambassador, said: “We intend to do what’s appropriate and we are working with the Treasury on that.” He acknowleged past difficulties, pledging to be “a good neighbour in our new home” and said that the ecofriendly building would generate enough power to contribute to the national grid.

The new location will take the embassy out of the Central London congestion zone. US diplomats owe an estimated £32 million in congestion charges and fines, which they refuse to pay on the ground that they are exempt from taxes in Britain.

The unpaid dues led Ken Livingstone, as the Mayor of London, to call Robert Tuttle, the ambassador at the time, a “chiselling little crook”.

This discontent was almost equalled when the embassy learnt in November that its Grosvenor Square premises were to be given a Grade II listing. Despite the development limits imposed by the decision, the embassy was still sold for more than $1 billion to a Qatari company that plans to turn it into a luxury hotel.

The embassy said that a statue of Ronald Reagan soon to be put up in Grosvenor Square will not be part of the Battersea site. “It will absolutely not be moved,” an official said. “Nor will the Eisenhower.”

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article7038550.ece


Monday, February 22, 2010

 

"Are the Democrats Coming After Your Savings?

Excellent discussion from Powerlineblog.com.

_______

"Are the Democrats Coming After Your Savings?

Source Powerlineblog.com

February 20, 2010 Posted by John at 7:45 PM

"Beginning around 40 years ago, the federal government implemented one of the wisest domestic policy initiatives of modern times. In an effort to equalize the tax treatment of employees and self-employed individuals, a series of statutes permitted self-employed persons to save pre-tax money for retirement and to accumulate funds in retirement accounts that are not taxed until money is withdrawn post-retirement. Those programs have been broadened over the years to include employees, as well as the self-employed, in 401K accounts. Over the last four decades, Americans have saved hundreds of billions of dollars in such retirement accounts. I haven't seen figures lately, but the total of such savings is most likely in the trillions.

Now we have an improvident federal government that has spent itself into a state of near-bankruptcy. It can survive only by selling Treasury bills to Americans and foreigners, but as the government's debts accumulate, international demand for T-bills slackens. So the Democrats are looking for money. They can't help noticing that Americans have saved many billions of dollars--private property, theoretically, but under contemporary constitutional jurisprudence, subject to pretty much any whim that may come out of Washington.

Argentina showed the way in 2008, as we noted here, by nationalizing private retirement funds on the ground that "the private system never achieved what was needed."

Now, the Democrats may be poised to imitate Argentina's theft. Investor's Business Daily reports:

You did the responsible thing. You saved in your IRA or 401(k) to support your retirement, when you could have spent that money on another vacation, or an upscale car, or fancier clothes and jewelry. But now Washington is developing plans for your retirement savings.

BusinessWeek reports that the Treasury and Labor departments are asking for public comment on "the conversion of 401(k) savings and Individual Retirement Accounts into annuities or other steady payment streams."

In plain English, the idea is for the government to take your retirement savings in return for a promise to pay you some monthly benefit in your retirement years.

They will tell you that you are "investing" your money in U.S. Treasury bonds. But they will use your money immediately to pay for their unprecedented trillion-dollar budget deficits, leaving nothing to back up their political promises, just as they have raided the Social Security trust funds.

In other words, the government will allow you the "opportunity" to give Washington your savings, in return for which the government will give you unmarketable T-bills or other unreliable promises to pay some minimal rate of return. The program likely will be "voluntary" to begin with, but that makes no sense--you can buy T-bills in your retirement account any time you want. So the only possible point is to make the exchange mandatory. The government steals your savings in exchange for an IOU.

Will it happen? Clearly the Obama administration, inspired by Argentina, is exploring the option. Today, we have the first administration in American history that aspires to be a banana republic. But can they get away with confiscating millions of Americans' savings? I doubt it. Because first on the list of those who have accumulated wealth in reliance on the laws governing private savings accounts are lawyers. Most people don't realize it, but even lawyers of modest ability typically have, after three or four decades of diligent savings, seven-figure retirement accounts. (This is one reason why influential Democrats don't care whether Social Security goes bust. They wouldn't dream of depending on it.) Lawyers are the heart and soul of the Democratic Party; public employee unions are more important in some ways, but they are junior partners in the Dems' coalition.

If the Obama administration were to announce an intent to confiscate Americans' retirement savings, the howls that would arise from lawyers (and others, too, of course) would be deafening. I don't think the administration could get away with it. Which doesn't mean they won't try, as the current efforts by the Departments of the Treasury and Labor indicate.

Still, others disagree. Earlier today I learned that a relative on Wall Street has stopped accumulating funds in his retirement accounts precisely because he thinks they may be confiscated by the Obama administration. Instead, he is acquiring untraceable, tangible assets--gold and silver--that the government won't be able to steal without a physical search of his property.

That's not good for the economy, of course. When citizens who have the ability to invest in our economy don't dare do so, for fear that their savings will be stolen by the government, we are reverting to an earlier and far poorer economic era. But that, apparently, is what the Obama administration wants. Here, as in so many other ways, we are sailing in uncharted waters.

SCOTT adds: Among many other items available on the Web, this Fox Business story by Robert Powell provides additional information regarding the Treasury/Labor request for comments."

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2010/02/025646.php


Monday, February 22, 2010

 

"Obama's 'Chicago mafia' blamed for paralysis at the top

.... And liberals were worried how the world viewed us with Bush as President.  ROFL

______

From The Sunday Times

February 21, 2010

"Obama’s ‘Chicago mafia’ blamed for paralysis at the top

Christina Lamb in Washington
 
[photo]  Emanuel: abrasive manner

"WHEN President Barack Obama’s secret service codename was revealed as Renegade and his wife Michelle’s as Renaissance, the names seemed perfect for a first couple who had come to Washington to shake things up.

More than a year into the Obama administration, with healthcare yet to be reformed, Wall Street banks continuing to pay huge bonuses and Guantanamo Bay prison still open, that mood of hope has turned to disillusion. Obama’s policy of engagement has yielded no progress in the Middle East or Iran; the war in Afghanistan continues to exact a big toll in lives and dollars; while the heaviest snow in Washington for 90 years seems to have stymied any hope of climate change legislation.

The president and his team now find themselves under fire for mishandling Congress from everyone from senior Democrats to social columnists. Critics say that by failing to move on from the “us versus them” feeling of the Obama election campaign, they have united an opposition that was in disarray. The result is legislative paralysis despite the biggest Democratic majority in 30 years.

Last week a prominent Democratic senator resigned after criticising both government and Congress. Evan Bayh from Indiana, who had never lost a race and was expected to be re-elected in November, complained that the party’s recent loss of the Senate seat of the late Ted Kennedy should have been seen as a wake-up call.

“Moderates and independents even in a state as Democratic as Massachusetts just aren’t buying our message,” he said.

“They don’t believe the answers we are currently proposing are solving their problems.”

Even society writers are disenchanted. “The Obama White House has closed ranks. They were completely overwhelmed by the new office,” said Karen Sommer Shalett, editor-in-chief of DC magazine. “I haven’t heard of them going to any house parties or Georgetown row houses to be entertained.

“That’s important because if you’re social with someone over canapés and you know their wife and you know their children, you talk business in a friendlier way.”

When the Obamas do go to someone’s house for dinner, almost invariably it is to the home of Valerie Jarrett, their old friend from Chicago who serves as a political adviser.

The Wednesday evening White House <snip>tail parties which were launched with great fanfare as a way to reach out to Republicans, fizzled out last spring. The two parties seem more hostile than ever.

“This administration has managed to divide its friends and unite its enemies,” said Steve Clemons, director of the American Strategy Programme at the New America Foundation.

He and others lay the blame on the Chicago team, advisers from Obama’s adopted city. “Obama’s West Wing is filled with people who are in their jobs because of their Chicago connections or because they signed on early during his presidential campaign,” complained Doug Wilder, who in 1990s Virginia was America’s first elected black governor and was an early backer of Obama. “One problem is they do not have sufficient experience at governing at the executive branch level. The deeper problem is that they are not listening to the people.”

Obama relies on five people, four of whom are Chicagoans. They are Rahm Emanuel, his chief of staff, David Axelrod and Jarrett, his political advisers, and Michelle, while the fifth kitchen cabinet member is Robert Gibbs, his chief spokesman, who comes from Alabama.

The president consults them on everything. Military commanders were astounded when they participated in Afghanistan war councils and referred to them as the “Chicago mafia”. It was this group that inserted into Obama’s Afghan surge speech the deadline of July 2011 as a date to start withdrawing.

With Democrats fearing big losses in the mid-term elections in November, the knives are out for Emanuel, whose abrasive manner and use of profanities have won him few friends. Although his job is to deflect criticism from his boss, Rahmbo, as he is known, seems to have gone over the top.

The Wall Street Journal reported him losing his temper at a strategy session in August and referring to liberals as “f***ing retarded”. He is said to have sent dead fish to a pollster whose numbers he did not like.

Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, called on Obama to remove Emanuel, arguing that he needs someone who knows how to navigate Washington or will end up being no more than a speechmaker.

“No one I’ve talked to believes he [Emanuel] has the management skills and discipline to run the White House,” he wrote in The Daily Beast.

Among those touted as possible replacements are David Gergen, a political consultant brought in by President Bill Clinton, or John Podesta, a former Clinton chief of staff who now heads the Center for American Progress, a left-wing pressure group.

Emanuel would be unlikely to go without a fight. “Obama needs Emanuel at the top,” argued Dana Milbank in yesterday’s Washington Post, writing that the chief of staff was being unfairly blamed for the healthcare debacle.

“Where the president is airy and idealistic, Rahm is earthy and calculating. One thinks big; the other, a former House Democratic caucus chair, understands the congressional mind, in which small stuff counts for more than broad strokes.”

In Milbank’s view, Obama’s real problem is his other confidants, Jarrett, Gibbs and Axelrod, whom he describes as “part of the cult of Obama”, believing he is “a transformational figure who needn’t dirty his hands in politics”.

While Obama may have campaigned on a slogan of change, he has shown himself reluctant to sack people.

The problem may go deeper. Douglas Schoen, former pollster for Bill Clinton, believes the Obama team misinterpreted victory as an endorsement of his liberal agenda when it was really a reaction against George W Bush and the credit crisis. “They need to recognise there is only one fundamental issue in America: jobs,” he said.

What no one disputes is that Obama is extremely clever. Were it not for losing the Kennedy seat and with it the Democrats’ 60-seat super-majority in the Senate, Obama would probably have signed healthcare into law by now.

The president has not given up on the reform. He is expected to publish a revised bill today or Monday, just before a televised White House summit on Thursday with congressional Republicans. But they are calling on Democrats to start all over again with a far less sweeping proposal.

The biggest hurdle may be Obama’s own ambition combined with lack of experience. A leading Democratic supporter described his administration as “unfocused”, adding that he had counted 137 items on Obama’s agenda.

“He needs to realise that he’s running a huge operation and has to sequence priorities,” said Clemons. “He’s not thinking like the chief executive of a complex organisation.”

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article7034910.ece


Monday, February 22, 2010

 

"Napolitano Secretly Hosts Terrorist Groups In D.C.

"Napolitano Secretly Hosts Terrorist Groups In D.C.

Source Corruption Chronicles, a Judicial Watch Blog

Last Updated: Thu, 02/18/2010 - 3:41pm

"In the Obama Administration’s latest effort to befriend radical Muslims, the cabinet official in charge of protecting the country’s safety covertly met with a group of extremist Arab, Muslim and Sikh organizations to discuss national security matters. 

Briefing radical Islamists who want to murder Americans about homeland security measures may seem like a bizarre tactic to counter terrorism, but it’s the center of Obama’s famous change rhetoric. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, most concerned about a wave of anti-Muslim backlash after the Ft. Hood massacre, and her senior staff privately met in Washington D.C. with the groups. Among them was the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood, which is a sort of parent organization of Hamas and Al Qaeda. 

Not surprisingly, the mainstream media ignored the two-day event which was exclusively reported this week by an alternative internet news company that regularly breaks big stories. Napolitano actually spent and hour and a half briefing the Middle Easterners about the U.S. government’s new “counter-radicalization” and “anti-terrorist” programs largely aimed at their followers. 

The top-secret event was part of President Obama’s innovative program aimed at creating an information-sharing framework with Muslim organizations, even those with known extremist ties and terrorist connections. The idea, laughable as it may seem, is to win over Muslims and get them to collaborate with the U.S. government.  

Officially, the Department of Homeland Security billed the event as a low-key meeting with faith and community-based groups to brainstorm about ways to increase engagement, dialogue and information sharing. After all, the groups are key homeland security partners that contribute to American life and exemplify the diversity that is a hallmark of our country, the agency claimed in a press release

Strengthening partnerships with these groups will help the U.S. better prepare, assess and respond to threats, Napolitano assures. This is the same official whose biggest concern was preventing a wave of anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States after an Al Qaeda wannabe Army major went on a murderous rampage at the nation’s largest military base.

These are just some examples of the administration’s push to befriend the enemy. Last month Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed a special order—intended as a sign of respect to Muslims around the world—to allow the reentry of two radical Islamic academics whose terrorist ties have for years banned them from the U.S. Just this week Obama ordered the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to focus on Muslim outreach and diplomacy, a rather unusual mission for the space agency."  

http://www.judicialwatch.org/blog/2010/feb/napolitano-hosts-terrorist-groups-d-c


Sunday, February 21, 2010

 

Checking Accounts "Citi Warns of Withdrawal Gate -- Seeking Alpha

Suggest reading the top link first, as Denninger located a copy of Citi's disclosure statement and finds no wording where this is limited to Texas accounts only.

___________

"Citibank: No More DDA Accounts - The Market Ticker
http://market-ticker.org/archives/1985-Citibank-No-More-DDA-Accounts.html

______

"Citi Warns of Withdrawal Gate

by: Ira Stoll February 19, 2010
Source Seeking Alpha
 
Source SeekingAlpha.com
 
"Seen on a recent Citibank (C) statement: "Effective April 1, 2010, we reserve the right to require (7) days advance notice before permitting a withdrawal from all checking accounts. While we do not currently exercise this right and have not exercised it in the past, we are required by law to notify you of this change."

Whoa. Is this an April Fool's joke? A contingency plan to defend against the idea of what "would happen if thousands of [bank] customers pledge to withdraw their money from the bank on a certain day, unless the bonuses are capped?" A strategem cooked up by Citi's new shareholders from the hedge fund industry, an industry in which such withdrawal gates are common? An idea backed by Citi's big shareholder, Uncle Sam, or one of its regulators, Sheila Bair?

I called Citi about it and they said the warning applies only to customers in Texas and that the notification had been mistakenly included on statements nationwide. Whatever the explanation, it doesn't exactly inspire confidence in Citi. I've got nothing against Citi as a general matter -- I have friends who work there, and know some account holders who are generally satisfied customers. But it's hard to believe a bank would be sending out a notice like that on its statements.

http://stockwidget.seekingalpha.com/article/189605-citi-warns-of-withdrawal-gate


Sunday, February 21, 2010

 

"FBI Investigating Pa. School Webcam Spying Allegations

"FBI Investigating Pa. School Webcam Spying Allegations
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,587034,00.html?test=latestnews

Saturday, February 20, 2010

 

"The Economic Elite Have Engineered an Extraordinary Coup, Threatening the Very Existence of the Mid

By David DeGraw

"The Economic Elite Have Engineered an Extraordinary Coup, Threatening the Very Existence of the Middle Class

Source AlterNet.org

"The economic elite have robbed us all. The amount of suffering in the United States of America is literally a crime against humanity.

 

"The American oligarchy spares no pains in promoting the belief that it does not exist, but the success of its disappearing act depends on equally strenuous efforts on the part of an American public anxious to believe in egalitarian fictions and unwilling to see what is hidden in plain sight." -- Michael Lind, To Have and to Have Not

We all have very strong differences of opinion on many issues. However, like our founding fathers before us, we must put aside our differences and unite to fight a common enemy.

It has now become evident to a critical mass that the Republican and Democratic parties, along with all three branches of our government, have been bought off by a well-organized Economic Elite who are tactically destroying our way of life. The harsh truth is that 99 percent of the U.S. population no longer has political representation. The U.S. economy, government and tax system is now blatantly rigged against us.

Current statistical societal indicators clearly demonstrate that a strategic attack has been launched and an analysis of current governmental policies prove that conditions for 99 percent of Americans will continue to deteriorate. The Economic Elite have engineered a financial coup and have brought war to our doorstep...and make no mistake, they have launched a war to eliminate the U.S. middle class.

To those who feel I am using extreme rhetoric, I ask you to please take a few minutes of your time to hear me out and research the evidence put forth. The facts are there for the unprejudiced, rational and reasoned mind to absorb. It is the unfortunate reality of our current crisis.

Unless we all unite and organize on common ground, our very way of life and the ideals that our country was founded upon will continue to unravel.

Before exposing exactly who the Economic Elite are, and discussing common sense ways in which we can defeat them, let's take a look at how much damage they have already caused.

Casualties of Economic Terrorism, Surveying the Damage

The devastating numbers across-the-board on the economic front are staggering. I'll go through some of them here, many we have already become all too familiar with. We hear some of these numbers all the time, so much so that it appears as if we have already begun "to normalize the unthinkable." You may be sick of hearing them, but behind each number is an enormous amount of individual suffering, American lives and families who are struggling worse than they ever have.

America is the richest nation in history, yet we now have the highest poverty rate in the industrialized world with an unprecedented amount of Americans living in dire straights and over 50 million citizens already living in poverty.

The government has come up with clever ways to downplay all of these numbers, but we have over 50 million people who need to use food stamps to eat, and a stunning 50 percent of U.S. children will use food stamps to eat at some point in their childhoods. Approximately 20,000 people are added to this total every day. In 2009, one out of five U.S. households didn't have enough money to buy food. In households with children, this number rose to 24 percent, as the hunger rate among U.S. citizens has now reached an all-time high.

We also currently have over 50 million U.S. citizens without health care. 1.4 million Americans filed for bankruptcy in 2009, a 32 percent increase from 2008. As bankruptcies continue to skyrocket, medical bankruptcies are responsible for over 60 percent of them, and over 75 percent of the medical bankruptcies filed are from people who have health care insurance. We have the most expensive health care system in the world, we are forced to pay twice as much as other countries and the overall care we get in return ranks 37th in the world.

In total, Americans have lost $5 trillion from their pensions and savings since the economic crisis began and $13 trillion in the value of their homes. During the first full year of the crisis, workers between the age of 55 - 60, who have worked for 20 - 29 years, have lost an average of 25 percent off their 401k. "Personal debt has risen from 65 percent of income in 1980 to 125 percent today." Over five million U.S. families have already lost their homes, in total 13 million U.S. families are expected to lose their home by 2014, with 25 percent of current mortgages underwater. Deutsche Bank has an even grimmer prediction: "The percentage of 'underwater' loans may rise to 48 percent, or 25 million homes." Every day 10,000 U.S. homes enter foreclosure. Statistics show that an increasing number of these people are not finding shelter elsewhere, there are now over 3 million homeless Americans, the fastest-growing segment of the homeless population is single parents with children.

One place more and more Americans are finding a home is in prison. With a prison population of 2.3 million people, we now have more people incarcerated than any other nation in the world -- the per capita statistics are 700 per 100,000 citizens. In comparison, China has 110 per 100,000, France has 80 per 100,000, Saudi Arabia has 45 per 100,000. The prison industry is thriving and expecting major growth over the next few years. A recent report from the Hartford Advocate titled "Incarceration Nation" revealed that "a new prison opens every week somewhere in America."

Mass Unemployment

The government unemployment rate is deceptive on several levels. It doesn't count people who are "involuntary part-time workers," meaning workers who are working part-time but want to find full-time work. It also doesn't count "discouraged workers," meaning long-term unemployed people who have lost hope and don't consistently look for work. As time goes by, more and more people stop consistently looking for work and are discounted from the unemployment figure. For instance, in January, 1.1 million workers were eliminated from the unemployment total because they were "officially" labeled discouraged workers. So instead of the number rising, we will hear deceptive reports about unemployment leveling off.

On top of this, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recently discovered that 824,000 job losses were never accounted for due to a "modeling error" in their data. Even in their initial January data there appears to be a huge understating, with the newest report saying the economy lost 20,000 jobs. TrimTabs employment analysis, which has consistently provided more accurate data, "estimated that the U.S. economy shed 104,000 jobs in January."

When you factor in all these uncounted workers -- "involuntary part-time" and "discouraged workers" -- the unemployment rate rises from 9.7 percent to over 20 percent. In total, we now have over 30 million U.S. citizens who are unemployed or underemployed. The rarely cited "employment-participation" rate, which reveals the percentage of the population that is currently in the workforce, has now fallen to 64 percent.

Even based on the "official" unemployment rate, just to get back to the unemployment level of 4.6 percent that we had in 2007, we need to create over 10 million new jobs, and most every serious economist will tell you that these jobs are not coming back. In fact, we are still consistently shedding jobs, on just one day, January 27, several companies announced new cuts of more than 60,000 jobs.

Due to the length of this crisis already, millions of Americans are reaching a point where the unemployment benefits they have been living on are coming to an end. More workers have already been out of work longer than at any point since statistics have been recorded, with over six million now unemployed for over six months. A record 20 million Americans qualified for unemployment insurance benefits last year, causing 27 states to run out of funds, with seven more also expected to go into the red within the next few months. In total, 40 state programs are expected to go broke.

Most economists believe the unemployment rate will remain high for the foreseeable future. What will happen when we have millions of laid-off workers without any unemployment benefits to save them?

Working More for Less

The millions struggling to find work are just part of the story. Due to the fact that we now have a record high six people for every one job opening, companies have been able to further increase the workload on their remaining employees. They have been able to increase the amount of hours Americans are working, reduce wages and drastically cut back on benefits. Even though Americans were already the most productive workers in the world before the economic crisis, in the third quarter of 2009, average worker productivity increased by an annualized rate of 9.5 percent, at the same time unit labor cost decreased by 5.2 percent. This has led to record profits for many companies. Of the 220 companies in the S&P 500 who have reported fourth-quarter results thus far, 78 percent of them had "better-than-expected profits" with earnings 17 percent above expectations, "the highest for any quarter since Thomson Reuters began tracking data."

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national median wage was only $32,390 per year in 2008, and median household income fell by 3.6 percent while the unemployment rate was 5.8 percent. With the unemployment rate now at 10 percent, median income has been falling at a 5 percent rate and is expected to continue its decline. Not surprisingly, Americans' job satisfaction level is now at an all-time low.

There are also a growing number of employed people who, despite having a job, are still living in poverty. There are at least 15 million workers who now fall into this rapidly growing category. $32,390 a year is not going to get you far in today's economy, and half of the country is making less than that. This is why many Americans are now forced to work two jobs to provide for their family to hopefully make ends meet.

A Crime Against Humanity

The mainstream news media will numb us to this horrifying reality by endlessly talking about the latest numbers, but they never piece them together to show you the whole devastating picture, and they rarely show you all the immense individual suffering behind them. This is how they "normalize the unthinkable" and make us become passive in the face of such a high causality count.

Behind each of these numbers, is a tremendous amount of misery; the physical toll is only outdone by the severe psychological toll. Anyone who has had to put off medical care, or who couldn't get medical care for one of their family members due to financial circumstances, can tell you about the psychological toll that is on top of the physical suffering. Anyone who has felt the stress of wondering how they were going to get their child's next meal or their own, or the stress of not knowing how they are going to pay the mortgage, rent, electricity or heat bill, let alone the car payment, gas, phone, cable or Internet bill.

There are now well over 150 million Americans who feel stress over these things on a consistent basis. Over 60 percent of Americans now live paycheck to paycheck.

These are all basic things every person should be able to easily afford in a technologically advanced society such as ours. The reason we struggle with these things is because the Economic Elite have robbed us all. This amount of suffering in the United States of America is literally a crime against humanity."

This is Part I of David DeGraw's report, "The Economic Elite vs. People of the USA. " AlterNet will run Part II in the coming days.

http://www.alternet.org/economy/145667/the_economic_elite_have_engineered_an_extraordinary_coup,_threatening_the_very_existence_of_the_middle_class/?page=entire


Saturday, February 20, 2010

 

YouTube - George Will At CPAC 2010 pt.1 - 3

Great speech definitely worth the listen.

_____________


Friday, February 19, 2010

 

"Back From The Dead: Dems Vow To Rahm-Through Healthcare!

"BACK FROM THE DEAD: DEMS VOW TO RAHM-THROUGH HEALTHCARE!

"Obama to spell out new healthcare plan

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20100219/pl_nm/us_usa_healthcare1


Friday, February 19, 2010

 

"LOCAL Government WASTE: DDR Now A "School Function"

Real eye opener.

__________

"LOCAL Government WASTE: DDR Now A "School Function"
Wednesday, February 17. 2010Posted by Karl Denninger in Editorial at 10:19

Source MarketTicker.org 

"That's right.

I have learned that our local middle school just installed five large "plasma" (flat-screen) TVs, along with DDR machines.

In the gym.

"DDR", for those who are not aware, is a video game played with one's feet.  It's rather popular.  The "pedestrian" (civilian) version of the dance pads last about 5 minutes in "heavy" use (especially by kids who might have shoes on!) - the metal, heavy-duty versions that will stand up to the sort of abuse that would be found in a school gym are god-awful expensive (like $500+ each.)

This is what "belt-tightening" is all about folks.  Instead of a handful of soccer balls or utilization of the already existing track (to run on, natch) we now are installing flat-screen televisions hooked to video games in the local middle school gym.

Yes, you can get a "work out" playing such a game.  We have it here in our home and it's not a bad way to expend some calories.  It is, however, rather less fiscally responsible than the alternatives which produce even more caloric output per unit of funds consumed, with the track being the obvious one since it's already there and thus costs zero.

Believe me, Ms. "I know how to blow the taxpayer's money with wild abandon" Tidbits, the next time you come crying poverty and "fiscal responsibility" in this county you're going to face some rather strong opposition from this taxpayer.

When your local school boards tell you they need more money, while you are expected to tighten your belt and stop spending more than you make, tell them that they can begin their fiscal responsibility program by firing the superintendent!

A call to the middle school failed to reach someone who could tell me where the funds came from - but they did confirm the presence of the machines."

http://market-ticker.org/archives/1971-LOCAL-Government-WASTE-DDR-Now-A-School-Function.html


Friday, February 19, 2010

 

"Obama to tout housing help Friday in Las Vegas

Still in campaign mode  ..... pretty clear he's using these give away promises and pledges to buy approval his job performance certainly doesn't justify. 

___________

"Obama to tout housing help Friday in Las Vegas

Feb 19, 7:05 AM (ET)
By BEN FELLER
Source MyWay.com

"LAS VEGAS (AP) - President Barack Obama is unveiling $1.5 billion in housing help, a boost timed to his appearance in the city with the worst foreclosure crisis in the nation. ......."

"........Obama was to announce that housing finance agencies in the five hardest-hit states in the housing crisis will receive $1.5 billion to help spur local solutions to the problem. Those five are Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan and Nevada. ......"

".......The first day of the trip was all politics. Obama campaigned Thursday for Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado in Denver, then held a $1 million fundraiser for Democrats in Las Vegas. ........."

http://apnews.myway.com/article/20100219/D9DV7SS00.html


Thursday, February 18, 2010

 

"WHO: Add swine flu to regular flu vaccine

Quick read.  Guess major stock holders don't want to lose all that money.

_____________

"WHO: Add swine flu to regular flu vaccine
(AP) – 3 hours ago

 

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5i-Qd-q3ALSGUV0tZqwFVoy1GlGfQD9DUH8G80


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

 

"Obama's misleading jobs rhetoric

"Suburban homeless: Rising tide of women, families

Excerpt

"........ The federal government is again counting the nation's homeless and, by many accounts, the suburban numbers continue to rise, especially for families, women, children, Latinos and men seeking help for the first time. Some have to be turned away.

"Yes, there has definitely been an increased number of turnaways this year," said Jennifer Hill, executive director of the Alliance to End Homelessness in suburban Cook County, Illinois. "We're seeing increases in shelter use along the lines of 30 percent or more."

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's annual survey last year found homelessness remained steady at about 1.6 million people, but the percentage of rural or suburban homelessness rose from 23 percent to 32 percent. The 2009 HUD report, which reflected the 12 months ending Sept. 30, 2008, also found the number of sheltered homeless families grew from about 473,000 to 517,000. ........"

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100216/ap_on_re_us/us_suburban_homeless

____________

"Obama's misleading jobs rhetoric

Examiner Editorial
February 16, 2010
Source WashingtonExaminer.com
 
"There he goes again. In the latest Economic Report of the President, Obama repeats his claim that the $787 billion economic stimulus program "has saved or created roughly two million jobs so far." Administration officials stopped saying that last year after journalists and think tankers across the political spectrum examined the supporting data posted on the official recovery.gov Web site and found it full of factual holes.

Thousands of jobs were claimed to have been saved or created in phantom congressional districts and ZIP codes. Thousands of raises given to public employees were counted as jobs saved or created. The Examiner's David Freddoso and Mark Hemingway examined media investigations and found nearly 100,000 phony positions. In other words, the claim that 2 million jobs were saved or created by the Obama economic stimulus program was exposed as being about as trustworthy as the used car salesman's assurance that the clunker on his lot was owned by a little old lady who only drove it to church on Sunday.

The fiasco prompted Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag to issue new "simplified guidelines" for how to measure the effect of the stimulus program on employment. But, as Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., wrote in a Jan. 8 letter to recovery.gov's inspector general, the new guidelines actually raised additional credibility questions about White House assertions on the stimulus program's effectiveness.

Said Issa: "The new guidance counts every job that is funded using stimulus money -- even if it existed before the Recovery Act, and was not in any danger of being eliminated -- as 'created or saved.' This definition ignores the plain meanings of the words 'created' and 'saved,' and makes Recovery.gov's 'JOBS CREATED/SAVED' label a falsehood, further eroding the confidence of the American people in their government."

Some of the president's closest economic advisers also made some startling claims in connection with the new Economic Report. Council of Economic Advisers chairwoman Christina Romer, for example, said the economic stimulus program saved millions of Americans from "destitution." The dictionary defines destitution as "utter poverty" and the "lack of the means of subsistence." Who could have imagined that wasting money on fake jobs would yield such miraculous results?"

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/Obama_s-misleading-jobs-rhetoric-84422777.html


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

 

'Oddball' portrait of Amy Bishop emerges

Interesting insights from friends and associates.

____________

‘Oddball’ portrait of Amy Bishop emerges
Suspect’s family, pals offer clues

By Laurel J. Sweet, Jessica Van Sack, Jessica Fargen and Ira Kantor
Monday, February 15, 2010 - Updated 1d 1h ago
Source BostonHerald.com

"As authorities searched for clues into what could have sent a University of Alabama neurobiology professor on an alleged killing spree, friends and family yesterday described Braintree native Amy Bishop as an awkward introvert on the brink of losing her teaching job.

Bishop’s husband, James Anderson, told the Herald his wife had been fighting the university for over a year about a tenure denial, and several months ago received a final decision. She was upset, but not overly emotional, approaching her appeal “like a game of chess,” he said.

Police in Huntsville, Ala., charged Bishop, 44, with capital murder after she allegedly opened fire on six colleagues at a faculty meeting Friday, killing three. Afterward, she calmly called her husband and asked him to pick her up as if nothing had happened, said police Chief Henry Reyes.

“She was an oddball - just not very sociable,” said Sylvia Fluckiger, a former lab technician who worked with Bishop in 1993.

Bishop acknowledged at the time being questioned in the bombing attempt of a Harvard medical doctor evaluating her on doctorate work, a professor with whom Bishop was known to quarrel, Fluckiger said.

Reyes confirmed he is working with the FBI to learn more about why Bishop was a suspect in the attempted bombing of Dr. Paul Rosenberg, who received a double-pipe bomb in the mail on Dec. 19, 1993. He ran from his Newton home with his wife, escaping without injury. The bomb never exploded.

“She was quite cavalier about it,” Fluckiger said of Bishop’s description of her interview with police. She said Bishop “grinned” as she described being asked by cops whether she’d ever taken stamps off an envelope and fastened them onto something else. “I cannot tell you what the grin meant,” Fluckiger said.

Seven years prior, Bishop shot her brother to death in Braintree in an incident that was ruled an accident at the time.

But Braintree police Chief Paul Frazier has raised questions about the handling of the case, and officials are investigating missing records in the 1986 death of 18-year-old Seth Bishop.

A classmate of Seth Bishop’s recalled yesterday that the boy, who was “painfully shy,” never talked about his older, only sibling.

“It was as if he was a complete stranger in her life. It seemed like a dysfunctional family. We just accepted them as being odd,” said the classmate, who spoke to the Herald on condition of anonymity.

Amy Bishop, he said, “wasn’t mean because she wasn’t someone you could get close to. She wasn’t an attractive girl, she didn’t have friends. She didn’t work at having friends. I think people probably, over time, learned to leave her alone.”

The Bishop household, he said, “was anything but a home . . . It was just a really dreary, dark place where there wasn’t a lot of love.”

Meanwhile, in an interview with the Chronicle of Higher Education, Anderson said he was searching for the “trigger” to his wife’s breakdown, and that he wondered whether an e-mail message - potentially in the form of a final tenure denial - might have upset her, because university higher-ups were known to send “nastygrams” on Fridays.

A family source said Bishop, a mother of four children - the youngest a third-grade boy - was a far-left political extremist who was “obsessed” with President Obama to the point of being off-putting.

But Mercedes Paz, a Brookline biochemist who also oversaw Bishop’s work in 1993, described her as a friend and a likable woman.

“She was a very good person,” said Paz, 81. “She was respectful and she did what she was supposed to do. I never saw anything that could make me think she was violent.”

http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?&articleid=1232943&format=&page=1&listingType=Loc#articleFull


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

 

"'Warming' meltdown Climate 'consensus' cracks up

Fries with that crow????

_______________

" 'Warming' meltdown

"Climate 'consensus' cracks up

Last Updated: 11:59 AM, February 16, 2010Posted: 12:58 AM, February 16, 2010Rich Lowry
Source NYPOST.com

"Climate alarmists conjured a world where nothing was certain but death, taxes and catastrophic global warming. They used this presumed scientific certainty as a bludgeon against the skeptics they deemed "deniers" -- a word meant to have the noxious whiff of Holocaust denial.

All in the cause of hustling the world into a grand carbon-rationing scheme. Any questions about the evidence for the cataclysmic projections, any concerns about the costs and benefits were trumped by that fearsome scientific "consensus," which had "settled" the important questions.

A funny thing happened to this "consensus" on the way to its inevitable triumph, though: Its propagators have been forced to admit fallibility.

For the cause of genuine science, this is a small step forward; for the cause of climate alarmism, it's a giant leap backward. The rush to "save the planet" can't accommodate any doubt, or it loses the panicked momentum necessary for a retooling of modern economic life.

Phil Jones is the director of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, a key "consensus" institution that has recently been caught up in an e-mail scandal revealing a mind-set of global-warming advocacy rather than dispassionate inquiry.

Asked by the BBC what it means when scientists say "the debate on climate change is over," the keeper of the flame sounded chastened. "I don't believe the vast majority of climate scientists think this," Jones said. "This is not my view. There is still much that needs to be undertaken to reduce uncertainties, not just for the future, but for the . . . past as well."

Jones discussed the highly contentious "medieval warming period." If global temperatures were warmer than today back in 800-1300 AD -- about 1,000 years before Henry Ford's assembly lines began spitting out cars -- it suggests that natural factors have a large hand in climate change, a concession that climate alarmists are loath to make.

Jones said we don't know if the warming in this period was global in extent since paleoclimatic records are sketchy. If it was, and if temperatures were higher than now, "then obviously the late 20th century warmth would not be unprecedented."

Jones also noted that there's been no statistically significant warming since 1995, although the cooling since 2002 hasn't been statistically significant, either.

All of this is like a cardinal of the Catholic Church saying the evidence for apostolic succession is still open to debate.

The other main organ of the climate "consensus" is the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It won the Nobel Peace Prize for its 2007 report -- which turns out to have been so riddled with errors it could have been researched on Wikipedia.

It said Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035, warned that global warming could reduce crop yields in Africa by 50 percent by 2020, and linked warming to the increased economic cost of natural disasters -- all nonsense.

These aren't random errors. As former head of the IPCC, the British scientist Robert Watson notes, "The mistakes all appear to have gone in the direction of making it seem like climate change is more serious by overstating the impact."

Too many creators and guardians of the "consensus" desperately wanted to believe in it. As self-proclaimed defenders of science, they should have brushed up on their Enlightenment. "Doubt is not a pleasant mental state," said Voltaire, "but certainty is a ridiculous one."

The latest revelations don't disprove the warming of the 20th century or mean that carbon emissions played no role. But by highlighting the uncertainty of the paleoclimatic data and the models on which alarmism has been built, they constitute a shattering blow to the case for radical, immediate action.

In The Boston Globe, MIT climate scientist Kerry Emanuel marshals a new argument for fighting warming: "We do not have the luxury of waiting for scientific certainty, which will never come." Really? That's not what we were told even a few months ago -- before climate alarmism acknowledged doubt."

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/warming_meltdown_iD1hypJAstOrvovafbIbGK


Monday, February 15, 2010

 

"America Truly is the Greatest Country in the World. Don't Let Freedom Slip Away.

Her accounting of how Hitler was elected in Austria by 98% of the vote is very interesting.

____________

Kitty Werthmann
For the Argus Leader
published: 3/11/2003

Kitty Werthmann, 77, of Pierre, is president of the South Dakota Eagle Forum. She lobbies the state Legislature on family issues. She has lived in the United States since 1950 and has been a U.S. citizen since 1962.
http://www.eagleforum.org/misc/states/articles/2003/werthmann-3-11-03.shtml

________

"America Truly is the Greatest Country in the World. Don’t Let Freedom Slip Away.

November 29, 7:26 PM  Rene Girard

Source Examiner.com

"This article may be long, but it is worth it because if we won't learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it.  Praise God for those who are willing to teach us from their experiences.  This is a story by Kitty Werthmann, a woman from Austria who believes America is truly the greatest country in the world, and does not want us to lose our freedoms the way other people lost theirs.
 
"What I am about to tell you is something you’ve probably never heard or will ever read in history books.

I believe that I am an eyewitness to history. I cannot tell you that Hitler took Austria by tanks and guns; it would distort history. We elected him by a landslide – 98% of the vote. I’ve never read that in any American publications. Everyone thinks that Hitler just rolled in with his tanks and took Austria by force.  In 1938, Austria was in deep Depression. Nearly one-third of our workforce was unemployed. We had 25% inflation and 25% bank loan interest rates.

Farmers and business people were declaring bankruptcy daily. Young people were going from house to house begging for food. Not that they didn’t want to work; there simply weren’t any jobs. My mother was a Christian woman and believed in helping people in need. Every day we cooked a big kettle of soup and baked bread to feed those poor, hungry people – about 30 daily.

The Communist Party and the National Socialist Party were fighting each other. Blocks and blocks of cities like Vienna, Linz, and Graz were destroyed. The people became desperate and petitioned the government to let them decide what kind of government they wanted.

We looked to our neighbor on the north, Germany, where Hitler had been in power since 1933. We had been told that they didn’t have unemployment or crime, and they had a high standard of living. Nothing was ever said about persecution of any group -- Jewish or otherwise. We were led to believe that everyone was happy. We wanted the same way of life in Austria . We were promised that a vote for Hitler would mean the end of unemployment and help for the family. Hitler also said that businesses would be assisted, and farmers would get their farms back. Ninety-eight percent of the population voted to annex Austria to Germany and have Hitler for our ruler.

We were overjoyed, and for three days we danced in the streets and had candlelight parades. The new government opened up big field kitchens and everyone was fed.

After the election, German officials were appointed, and like a miracle, we suddenly had law and order. Three or four weeks later, everyone was employed. The government made sure that a lot of work was created through the Public Work Service.

Hitler decided we should have equal rights for women. Before this, it was a custom that married Austrian women did not work outside the home. An able-bodied husband would be looked down on if he couldn’t support his family. Many women in the teaching profession were elated that they could retain the jobs they previously had been required to give up for marriage.

Hitler Targets Education – Eliminates Religious Instruction for Children:

Our education was nationalized. I attended a very good public school. The population was predominantly Catholic, so we had religion in our schools. The day we elected Hitler (March 13, 1938), I walked into my schoolroom to find the crucifix replaced by Hitler’s picture hanging next to a Nazi flag. Our teacher, a very devout woman, stood up and told the class we wouldn’t pray or have religion anymore. Instead, we sang “Deutschland, Deutschland, Uber Alles,” and had physical education.

Sunday became National Youth Day with compulsory attendance. Parents were not pleased about the sudden change in curriculum. They were told that if they did not send us, they would receive a stiff letter of warning the first time. The second time they would be fined the equivalent of $300, and the third time they would be subject to jail. The first two hours consisted of political indoctrination. The rest of the day we had sports. As time went along, we loved it. Oh, we had so much fun and got our sports equipment free. We would go home and gleefully tell our parents about the wonderful time we had.

My mother was very unhappy. When the next term started, she took me out of public school and put me in a convent. I told her she couldn’t do that and she told me that someday when I grew up, I would be grateful. There was a very good curriculum, but hardly any fun – no sports, and no political indoctrination. I hated it at first but felt I could tolerate it. Every once in a while, on holidays, I went home. I would go back to my old friends and ask what was going on and what they were doing. Their loose lifestyle was very alarming to me. They lived without religion. By that time unwed mothers were glorified for having a baby for Hitler. It seemed strange to me that our society changed so suddenly. As time went along, I realized what a great deed my mother did so that I wasn’t exposed to that kind of humanistic philosophy.

Equal Rights Hits Home:

In 1939, the war started and a food bank was established. All food was rationed and could only be purchased using food stamps. At the same time, a full-employment law was passed which meant if you didn’t work, you didn’t get a ration card, and if you didn’t have a card, you starved to death. Women who stayed home to raise their families didn’t have any marketable skills and often had to take jobs more suited for men.

Soon after this, the draft was implemented. It was compulsory for young people, male and female, to give one year to the labor corps. During the day, the girls worked on the farms, and at night they returned to their barracks for military training just like the boys. They were trained to be anti-aircraft gunners and participated in the signal corps. After the labor corps, they were not discharged but were used in the front lines. When I go back to Austria to visit my family and friends, most of these women are emotional cripples because they just were not equipped to handle the horrors of combat. Three months before I turned 18, I was severely injured in an air raid attack. I nearly had a leg amputated, so I was spared having to go into the labor corps and into military service.

Hitler Restructured the Family Through Daycare:

When the mothers had to go out into the work force, the government immediately established child care centers. You could take your children ages 4 weeks to school age and leave them there around-the-clock, 7 days a week, under the total care of the government. The state raised a whole generation of children. There were no motherly women to take care of the children, just people highly trained in child psychology. By this time, no one talked about equal rights. We knew we had been had.
Health Care and Small Business Suffer Under Government Controls:

Before Hitler, we had very good medical care. Many American doctors trained at the University of Vienna . After Hitler, health care was socialized, free for everyone. Doctors were salaried by the government. The problem was, since it was free, the people were going to the doctors for everything. When the good doctor arrived at his office at 8 a.m., 40 people were already waiting and, at the same time, the hospitals were full. If you needed elective surgery, you had to wait a year or two for your turn. There was no money for research as it was poured into socialized medicine. Research at the medical schools literally stopped, so the best doctors left Austria and emigrated to other countries.

As for healthcare, our tax rates went up to 80% of our income. Newlyweds immediately received a $1,000 loan from the government to establish a household. We had big programs for families. All day care and education were free. High schools were taken over by the government and college tuition was subsidized. Everyone was entitled to free handouts, such as food stamps, clothing, and housing.
We had another agency designed to monitor business. My brother-in-law owned a restaurant that had square tables. Government officials told him he had to replace them with round tables because people might bump themselves on the corners. Then they said he had to have additional bathroom facilities. It was just a small dairy business with a snack bar. He couldn’t meet all the demands. Soon, he went out of business. If the government owned the large businesses and not many small ones existed, it could be in control.

We had consumer protection. We were told how to shop and what to buy. Free enterprise was essentially abolished. We had a planning agency specially designed for farmers. The agents would go to the farms, count the live-stock, then tell the farmers what to produce, and how to produce it.

“Mercy Killing” Redefined:

In 1944, I was a student teacher in a small village in the Alps . The villagers were surrounded by mountain passes which, in the winter, were closed off with snow, causing people to be isolated. So people intermarried and offspring were sometimes retarded. When I arrived, I was told there were 15 mentally retarded adults, but they were all useful and did good manual work. I knew one, named Vincent, very well. He was a janitor of the school. One day I looked out the window and saw Vincent and others getting into a van. I asked my superior where they were going. She said to an institution where the State Health Department would teach them a trade, and to read and write. The families were required to sign papers with a little clause that they could not visit for 6 months. They were told visits would interfere with the program and might cause homesickness.

As time passed, letters started to dribble back saying these people died a natural, merciful death. The villagers were not fooled. We suspected what was happening. Those people left in excellent physical health and all died within 6 months. We called this euthanasia.

The Final Steps - Gun Laws:

Next came gun registration. People were getting injured by guns. Hitler said that the real way to catch criminals (we still had a few) was by matching serial numbers on guns. Most citizens were law abiding and dutifully marched to the police station to register their firearms. Not long after-wards, the police said that it was best for everyone to turn in their guns. The authorities already knew who had them, so it was futile not to comply voluntarily.

No more freedom of speech. Anyone who said something against the government was taken away. We knew many people who were arrested, not only Jews, but also priests and ministers who spoke up.

Totalitarianism didn’t come quickly, it took 5 years from 1938 until 1943, to realize full dictatorship in Austria . Had it happened overnight, my countrymen would have fought to the last breath. Instead, we had creeping gradualism. Now, our only weapons were broom handles. The whole idea sounds almost unbelievable that the state, little by little eroded our freedom.

After World War II, Russian troops occupied Austria. Women were raped, preteen to elderly. The press never wrote about this either. When the Soviets left in 1955, they took everything that they could, dismantling whole factories in the process. They sawed down whole orchards of fruit, and what they couldn’t destroy, they burned. We called it The Burned Earth. Most of the population barricaded themselves in their houses. Women hid in their cellars for 6 weeks as the troops mobilized. Those who couldn’t, paid the price. There is a monument in Vienna today, dedicated to those women who were massacred by the Russians. This is an eye witness account.

It’s true….those of us who sailed past the Statue of Liberty came to a country of unbelievable freedom and opportunity.  America Truly is the Greatest Country in the World.  Don’t Let Freedom Slip Away.

After America, There is No Place to Run."

http://www.examiner.com/x-25060-Fort-Worth-Christianity--Culture-Examiner~y2009m11d29-America-Truly-is-the-Greatest-Country-in-the-World--Dont-Let-Freedom-Slip-Away


Monday, February 15, 2010

 

"Europe to Investigate the UN Over "Pandemic" Scam

Interesting opinion.  Decide for yourself.

_________

In addition to the "global warming" rip-off, you can add another huge international racketeering operation -- the H1N1 "pandemic" of 2009

"Europe to Investigate the UN Over “Pandemic” Scam

By Jim O'Neill     Saturday, January 2, 2010

Source Canada Free Press

“UN report says pandemic may result in anarchy—‘could kill millions’—unless western world pays for antiviral drugs and vaccines!” —From “The Guardian” September 20, 2009

"WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama has declared the swine flu outbreak a national emergency, giving his health chief the power to let hospitals move emergency rooms offsite to speed treatment and protect non-infected patients.Associated Press—October 25, 2009

In addition to the “global warming” rip-off, you can add another huge international racketeering operation—the H1N1 “pandemic” of 2009. 

Both of these ploys were designed to fleece the western nations of billions, possibly trillions, of dollars.  In the case of the H1N1 scam, the western governments have already coughed up billions of dollars for vaccines to prevent a bogus “pandemic.”  That means that we, the taxpayers, have been ripped-off yet again. 

If class action lawsuits aren’t on the way, then they darn well should be.

The European nations have apparently not been paid off to the extent of the U.S. Congress, and have decided to look into things. 

According to a report filed by F. William Engdahl, the Council of Europe Parliament has unanimously proposed to start an investigation this month into “the influence of the pharmaceutical companies on the global swine flu campaign.”

The purpose of the inquiry is to investigate collusion between the “Golden Triangle” of the UN’s WHO (World Health Organization), certain pharmaceutical companies, and academic scientists. 

That scenario should sound familiar, as it’s similar to “global warming’s” collusion between the UN’s IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), “green energy” corporations, and academic scientists.

Both scams were intended to “redistribute the wealth” globally, while making the Global Elite, very, very rich.  They get to wipe out the middle-class, destroy capitalism, install a UN-run global regime, and get exceedingly wealthy, all at the same time.  It’s a win/win situation all around, for Progressives at least.

The resolution just passed by the Council of Europe Parliament includes the charge that, “In order to promote their patented drugs and vaccines…pharmaceutical companies influenced scientists and official agencies…to alarm governments worldwide and make them squander tight health resources for inefficient vaccine strategies and needlessly expose millions of healthy people to the risk of an unknown amount of side-effects of insufficiently tested vaccines.”

The motion was introduced by Dr. Wolfgang Wodarg,  Chairman of the European Parliament Health Committee.  He stated that millions of healthy people were unnecessarily “exposed to the risk of poorly tested vaccines,” for no other reason than the purported threat of a flu strain that is “vastly less harmful” then previous flu strains. 

Dr. Wodarg’s talking about the Swine Flu, or H1N1, or “novel H1N1,” or “2009 H1N1,” or whatever they’re trying to pass it off as these days.  You remember—the national emergency?

You ought to remember—after all, you helped to pay for the billions spent on vaccinesBig Pharma thanks you, and so do their stockholders.  Speaking of which, do you think some of those stockholders just might be Global Elitists?  Just asking.

Dr. Wodarg suggested that, “The Council of Europe and its member-states should ask for immediate investigations and consequences, on their national levels, as well as on the international level.”  Consequences—hmmm, good suggestion.

Why isn’t the U.S. doing the same?  Too many bribes, too many “donations” made to too many politicians, too many deals made with Big Pharma to get Obama-Care passed?  That would be my guess.

Our renowned “people’s watchdog,” the Lame Stream Media, remains ever-vigilantly silent on the subject.  Although I must admit that CBS did, almost, nearly look into malfeasance on the part of the CDC (Center for Disease Control) regarding the Swine Flu scam.


I guess, once again, it’s up to “we the people” to straighten things out.  Anybody know some good class action lawsuit lawyers?

Laus Deo."

http://www.canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/18527


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

 

"Poll: 75% 'angry' at government

"Poll: 75% 'angry' at government

By ANDY BARR | 2/8/10 11:52 AM EST
Source Politico

"Three-quarters of the nation’s voters are “angry” at the federal government’s policies, according to a new Rasmussen Reports survey out Monday.

Of the 1,000 likely voters surveyed Feb. 5-6, 75 percent said they were either “very” or “somewhat” angry with the “current policies of the federal government.” Forty-five percent said they were “very” angry.

Only 19 percent said they were “not very” or “not at all” angry with the government, while 6 percent were not sure.

Nearly two-thirds, 60 percent, agreed with the statement that “neither Republican political leaders nor Democratic political leaders have a good understanding of what is needed today.”

The Republicans surveyed were angrier than Democrats, but both expressed frustration.

Eighty-nine percent of Republicans and 61 percent of Democrats said they were angry, while 78 percent of independent voters said they were.

More men were angry with the federal government than women, and voters who earned from $60,000 to $100,000 were found to be the angriest.

The percentage of those who said they were angry with the federal government has been on the rise.

In September, 66 percent of those surveyed said they were either “very” or “somewhat” angry, while in November 71 percent said they were.

The poll has a margin of error of plus- or minus-3 percentage points."

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0210/32680.html


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

 

"Stop selling unlicensed natural health remedies: pharmacy regulators

If memory serves me, believe something of this nature was included in an obscure provision of the CAFTA treaty which is feared will be implemented in the US.  Irony ..... medical marajuana legal, vitamins banned. 

__________

"Stop selling unlicensed natural health remedies: pharmacy regulators
 
Tom Blackwell, National Post  Published: Sunday, February 07, 2010
 
"National Post The National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities (NAPRA) says pharmacists cannot be assured the products are safe until they are granted a government licence
Makers of natural-health products say they are bracing for widespread layoffs and millions of dollars in losses after Canada's pharmacy regulators issued a surprise directive recently urging druggists to stop selling unlicensed natural remedies.
 
The order affects thousands of herbal treatments, multi-vitamins and other products, most of them waiting for approval from Health Canada under a backlogged, five-year-old program to regulate natural-health goods.
 
The National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities (NAPRA) says pharmacists cannot be assured the products are safe until they are granted a government licence, and should not sell them in those circumstances. "Pharmacists are obliged to hold the health and safety of the public or patient as their first and foremost consideration," said the association's recently issued position statement. ......"
 
http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=2534645

Monday, February 8, 2010

 

"Glenn Reynolds: Nashville Shows Tea Party Is America's Third Great Awakening

Big Grin

"Glenn Reynolds: Nashville Shows Tea Party Is America's Third Great Awakening

By: Glenn Harlan Reynolds
Examiner Contributor
February 7, 2010

Source Washington Examiner

"I attended this past weekend’s National Tea Party Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, and I came away feeling that I had seen something important.  The Tea Party movement is part of something bigger:  America’s Third Great Awakening.

America’s prior Great Awakenings, in the 18th and 19th Centuries, were religious in nature.  Unimpressed with self-serving, ossified, and often corrupt religious institutions, Americans responded with a bottom-up reassertion of faith, and independence.

This time, it’s different.  It’s not America’s churches and seminaries that are in trouble:  It’s America’s politicians and parties.  They’ve grown corrupt, venal, and out-of-touch with the values, and the people, that they’re supposed to represent.  So the people, once again, are reasserting themselves.

Most of the attention focused on this weekend’s convention seemed to involve the keynote speaker, Sarah Palin.  But though Palin wowed the crowd with red-meat attacks on overspending, weak national defense, and broken promises, the key phrase in her speech was this one: “All power is inherent in the people.”

And the biggest action item that she presented the crowd with wasn’t to support Sarah Palin, as most politicians would have asked, but to challenge incumbents in primary races.  Primary battles aren’t “civil war,” she said.  They’re the kind of competition that produces strength in the end.

This seemed to resonate with what I heard from conference attendees. Over and over again, I heard from Tea Party Activists that they were planning to take over their local Republican (and, sometimes Democratic) party apparatus starting at the precinct level and shake things up.

The sense was that party politics have been run for the benefit of the party insiders and hangers-on, not for the benefit of constituents and ideals.  And most of the conference, in fact, was addressed to doing something about that, not to worship of Sarah Palin, with sessions on organizing, media skills, and the like.

Even the much-hyped counter-Tea-Party protest, featuring three activists from the Tennessee Tea Party Coalition, underscores this point.  Despite their small numbers, they drew a large press gaggle hoping to get some negative energy going.

I watched as Knoxville Tea Party organizer Antonio Hinton -- who drew the largest crowd, perhaps because he is black, or perhaps because he’s an excellent speaker - was asked repeatedly by the press to say something negative about Sarah Palin or the National Tea Party Convention, but he called Palin
“a breath of fresh air.”

And he stressed that he and his cohorts - representing a collection of several dozen Tea Party groups around Tennessee - weren’t so much there to complain about the convention as to point out that there was a lot more to the Tea Party movement than that one meeting.

They were right.  The Tea Party movement is bottom up, not top down. Lots of Tea Party people think well of Sarah Palin, but I doubt that many, even among the attendees at this weekend’s convention, would do much of anything just on her say-so.  People I’ve talked to, both there and at other events, aren’t looking for a charismatic leader.

That’s the Barack Obama model, now somewhat tattered.  Instead, they’ve had enough and they’re taking the reins themselves. Over and over again, I heard people at this convention tell me that they had never been involved in politics before the Tea Party movement. And, having tried it, they’re finding that politics can be fun, and they’re encountering the joys of learning that they’re not alone.

Accustomed to major-media treatment that strongly implied that anyone favoring small government must be some kind of fringe wacko, they’re discovering that lots of people feel the way they do, and that they can wield a lot of power if they try.  I suspect the power-wielding part is just starting.

In less than a year, the Tea Party movement has gone from a few spontaneous protests against Obama’s stimulus bill to a nationwide phenomenon rating major media coverage, with several political scalps on its belt.  And these inexpert activists are getting better with practice at what they do, with a lot of room on the learning curve ahead.

It’s fun to put on a protest rally for the first time and have it work out, but it’s even more fun to elect -- or defeat -- a candidate.  Or, as Tea Party activists are beginning to do, to run for office yourself.

Over the next couple of years, these multitudes of virgin political operatives are going to acquire considerably more experience and self-assurance, which means they’re probably going to become considerably more effective, too.  Politics may not be the same when they’re done."

Examiner contributor Glenn Harlan Reynolds covered the National Tea Party Convention for PJTV.com.  He blogs at InstaPundit.com.

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columns/OpEd-Contributor/Glenn-Reynolds-Tea-Party-Nashville-was-Americas-Third-Great-Awakening--83762647.html


Monday, February 8, 2010

 

"You Betcha!... Palin Campaigns For Rick Perry– Writes "Hi Mom" On Her Hand

ROFL

"You Betcha!… Palin Campaigns For Rick Perry– Writes “Hi Mom” On Her Hand

by Jim Hoft      Source BigGovernment.com

"RIGHT ON— On Sunday the left went bonkers after they discovered that the TelePrompter-less former Governor Sarah Palin wrote notes on the palm of her left hand for her speech to the National Tea Party Convention in Nashville. The far left absolutely freaked over this non-issue rather than focus on her brilliant speech knocking the Obama Administration’s horrid record on economics and national defense.

Today Sarah fired back…

[photos]

She wrote “Hi Mom!” on her palm during her campaign stop with Governor Rick Perry of Texas.

Hah!

http://biggovernment.com/jhoft/2010/02/07/you-betcha-palin-campaigns-for-rick-perry-writes-hi-mom-on-her-hand/


Sunday, February 7, 2010

 

"School bombing exposes Obama's secret war inside Pakistan

-
Why isn't our press all over this?
______________________
From The Sunday Times

February 7, 2010

Source Times Online 

"School bombing exposes Obama’s secret war inside Pakistan

(photo) Victims trapped in the rubble after a suicide bombing at the opening of a school for girls in the northwestern Pakistani town of Dir last we

"THE discovery of three American soldiers among the dead in a suicide bombing at the opening of a girls’ school in the northwestern Pakistan town of Dir last week reignited the fears of many Pakistanis that Washington was set on invading their country.

Barack Obama has banned the Bush-era term “war on terror” and dithered about sending extra troops to Afghanistan, but across the border in Pakistan, the US president has dramatically stepped up the covert war against Islamic extremists.

US airstrikes in Pakistan, launched from unmanned drones, are now averaging three a week, triple the number last year. “We're quietly seeing a geographical shift,” an intelligence officer said.

For the past month drones have pounded the tribal region of North Waziristan in apparent retaliation for the murder of seven CIA officers in Afghanistan by a Jordanian suicide bomber working with the Pakistani Taliban.

Last week America launched its first multiple drone attack, according to Pakistani security officials. Eighteen missiles were fired from eight unmanned aircraft in Dattakhel village, killing 16 people.

The discovery of the dead US soldiers revealed that America’s shadowy war in Pakistan not only involves drones but also small cadres of special operations soldiers.

Pakistan’s foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, insisted that US troops were in Pakistan only to provide counter-insurgency training for the Frontier Corps, a paramilitary force operating in the tribal areas.

Other sources said there were about 200 US military inside the country. “I’m not sure you could just call it training,” one official said. “They are hardly behind the wire if they are on trips to schools in Dir.”

The three US soldiers, who have been described variously as special operations forces and civil affairs troops, were killed when their convoy was bombed as it travelled to the re-opening of the school. It had been rebuilt with US aid after being bombed by the Taliban last year.

Three schoolgirls, two villagers and a Pakistani soldier were also killed in the attack, for which the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility. More than 100 were wounded, mostly schoolgirls.

It was officially reported that the device was a remote-controlled bomb. It has now emerged that a suicide bomber rammed into the vehicle carrying the Americans. This suggests the bomber had inside information. “This attack was too perfect: they lay in wait for the convoy to pass and knew exactly which vehicle to hit,” a US military officer told the Long War Journal.

One of those killed was Sergeant Matthew Sluss-Tiller, 35, the father of a three-year-old daughter. His mother, Jane Blankenship, said her son had been in Pakistan on a civil affairs mission and had grown a beard for it.

One official suggested the “trainers” may be used to pick up intelligence on drone targets, particularly because the CIA did not trust its counterparts from the ISI, the Pakistani intelligence service that has close links to the Taliban.

The Americans insist the drone attacks have been a success, picking off the second and third tier of Al-Qaeda’s leadership. In August they killed Baitullah Mehsud, leader of the Pakistani Taliban. They recently claimed to have killed his successor, Hakimullah Mehsud, but Pakistan’s foreign minister said this had not been confirmed.

To the irritation of Washington, Islamabad has kept up a pretence that drone attacks are carried out without its approval, even though the aircraft are based in Pakistan.

Among the Pakistani public, there has been outcry at the attacks. Surveys constantly show that Pakistanis consider the US a greater threat than the Taliban, despite 3,021 Pakistani deaths in terrorist attacks last year.

If the drones are controversial, the presence of US soldiers on Pakistani soil is far more so. Despite a $1.5 billion (£959m) aid programme, Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, had to fly into Pakistan two weeks ago to reassure its military leadership. “Let me say definitively the US does not covet a single inch of Pakistani soil,” he told Pakistan’s National Defence University."

Additional reporting: Daud Khattak"

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article7017929.ece


Sunday, February 7, 2010

 

YouTube - Pigeon: Impossible

Came in email.  Awesome animation, best viewed on a large screen format.

_______________

YouTube - Pigeon: Impossible
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jEjUAnPc2VA

Saturday, February 6, 2010

 

"Pelosi: Where Are the Jobs, Mr. President?

-
Why isn't she asking the same question now, or would it show her direct contribution to the problem?  Note date on this press release.
_______________
From the Office of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi
"Pelosi: Where Are the Jobs, Mr. President?
August 1, 2003

"Washington, D.C. -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement today on the Bureau of Labor Statistics' announcement that 470,000 people abandoned their job searches in July and that 3.2 million private sector jobs have been lost since President Bush took office:

“The fact is that President Bush’s misguided economic policies have failed to create jobs. Since President Bush took office, the country has lost 3.2 million jobs, the worst record since President Hoover. And today we learned that in July nearly half a million people gave up looking for a job.

“Job losses are taking a real toll on the financial security of American families. While Democrats are fighting for opportunity, jobs, and economic security for working families, Republicans continue to focus on helping those who need help the least.

“According to today’s survey, while the national unemployment rate dropped slightly, it still stands at a near record high. In addition, the unemployment rate for African Americans was still over 11 percent in July, and the unemployment rate for Hispanics was 8.2 percent in July.

“It is time for President Bush and the Republicans to get to work for all Americans, not just the elite few.”

http://www.house.gov/pelosi/press/releases/Aug03/prWherearetheJobs080103.html


Friday, February 5, 2010

 

"India forms new climate change body

"India forms new climate change body

The Indian government has established its own body to monitor the effects of global warming because it “cannot rely” on the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the group headed by its own Nobel prize-winning scientist Dr R.K Pachauri.

By Dean Nelson in New Delhi
Published: 3:47PM GMT 04 Feb 2010
Source Telegraph.co.uk

"The move is a significant snub to both the IPCC and Dr Pachauri as he battles to defend his reputation following the revelation that his most recent climate change report included false claims that most of the Himalayan glaciers would melt away by 2035. Scientists believe it could take more than 300 years for the glaciers to disappear.

The body and its chairman have faced growing criticism ever since as questions have been raised on the credibility of their work and the rigour with which climate change claims are assessed.

In India the false claims have heightened tensions between Dr Pachauri and the government, which had earlier questioned his glacial melting claims. In Autumn, its environment minister Mr Jairam Ramesh said while glacial melting in the Himalayas was a real concern, there was evidence that some were actually advancing despite global warming.

Dr Pachauri had dismissed challenges like these as based on “voodoo science”, but last night Mr Ramesh effectively marginalized the IPC chairman even further.

He announced the Indian government will established a separate National Institute of Himalayan Glaciology to monitor the effects of climate change on the world’s ‘third ice cap’, and an ‘Indian IPCC’ to use ‘climate science’ to assess the impact of global warming throughout the country.

“There is a fine line between climate science and climate evangelism. I am for climate science. I think people misused [the] IPCC report, [the] IPCC doesn’t do the original research which is one of the weaknesses… they just take published literature and then they derive assessments, so we had goof-ups on Amazon forest, glaciers, snow peaks.

“I respect the IPCC but India is a very large country and cannot depend only on [the] IPCC and so we have launched the Indian Network on Comprehensive Climate Change Assessment (INCCA),” he said.

It will bring together 125 research institutions throughout India, work with international bodies and operate as a “sort of Indian IPCC,” he added.

The body, which he said will not rival the UN’s panel, will publish its own climate assessment in November this year, with reports on the Himalayas, India’s long coastline, the Western Ghat highlands and the north-eastern region close to the borders with Bangladesh, Burma, China and Nepal. “Through these we will demonstrate our commitment to climate science,” he said.

The UN panel’s claims of glcial meltdown by 2035 “was clearly out of place and didn’t have any scientific basis,” he said, while stressing the government remained concerned about the health of the Himalayan ice flows. “Most glaciers are melting, they are retreating, some glaciers, like the Siachen glacier, are advancing. But overall one can say incontrovertibly that the debris on our glaciers is very high the snow balance is very low. We have to be very cautious because of the water security particularly in north India which depends on the health of the Himalayan glaciers,” he added.

The new National Institute of Himalayan Glaciology will be based in Dehradun, in Uttarakhand, and will monitor glacial changes and compare results with those from glciers in Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/7157590/India-forms-new-climate-change-body.html


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

 

"Space UFO baffles boffins

Couple of amazing photos. 

________

"Space UFO baffles boffins 
 
The Sun

By VINCE SOODIN
Published: Today
THIS amazing UFO has left scientists baffled — after boffins claimed it was NOT a comet streaking through space.
It was first spotted early last month so astronomers turned the Hubble telescope on it last week to get these close up images.
The object — named P/2010 A2 — is of a type never before seen by stargazers and orbits in a satellite belt between Mars and Jupiter..........."
http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/2837262/Space-UFO-baffles-boffins.html

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

 

USA unemployment rates by county 2007 to date.

USA unemployment rates by county 2007 to date. 

http://cohort11.americanobserver.net/latoyaegwuekwe/multimediafinal.html


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

 

"Is There A Hidden Purpose To Victimhood?

Interesting article, came in email this morning.  Metaphysically I've read that we're all experiencing the "dispensation of responsibility" so this is likely one of many articles we'll see on the subject.  Hope you enjoy.

_____________

"Is There A Hidden Purpose To Victimhood?

By Julian Burke in Awareness on February 1st, 2010 
Source Dream Manifesto

"An attitude has swept across practically every person in every country on the globe over the course of the past few decades. This is the attitude of victimhood. Why has it become so popular for people to feel like they are victims and what purpose can this serve?

The Lack of Responsibility

Victims feel they can shirk responsibilities because those fall on the shoulders of the victimizers. Victims feel like they have no control over their own lives. Have a drug problem? It’s your parents’ faults. Uneducated? It’s not your fault. You had to take care of your kid. Single parent? That’s the fault of that no good boyfriend that hit the road as soon as you gave birth.

Paying alimony? Yeah, you decided to get married to that person, but you didn’t know they were going to divorce you and make you pay them. These excuses really do seem to make things easier. No reason to feel guilt or self-doubt. You did your best. Life happened to you.

Life happened to everyone. Your sister. Your friends. They all tell you the same thing. That no good mother is such you-know-what she wouldn’t let me keep living in her house, they say. Why do all of these various people do these horrible things to everyone? They’re just mean. They have grudges. They’re jealous. They are “haters.” They hate me because I’m beautiful. When viewed through an objective lens, most of these motives would seem flimsy, even silly, but through the eyes of a victim, these motivations seem to make perfect sense.

Victims Only Think About Themselves
When feel you are constantly being victimized in your life, you are actually being selfish. All you can think about is how terrible you’ve been wronged and how you are going to show those that victimized you.

Victim-hood leads to many negative emotions, pushing out any positive emotions that might have overtaken the victim. When you are so focused on yourself, you don’t think of other people and whether or not they are doing okay. You don’t think about how you can help them. Why would you? You’re the victim. You have problems. It slips your mind that everyone has problems. If you helped another person with their problems, it might actually cheer you up a little and give you some confidence. Can’t have that.

Helplessness Leads to Hopelessness
Victims are helpless. Someone that feels victimized typically feels no responsibility for the unpleasantness that has befallen them. With no responsibility in creating your own personal disaster, you were helpless to do anything to stop it. Therefore, you’re still helpless. You want, no, you need for someone to help you, to make everything better.

The longer this goes on, the less in control of your own life you feel. You’re completely helpless to do anything. There’s absolutely no hope for you, anymore. When there’s no hope, nothing matters. You get reckless. You do things just to make yourself happy for a few ephemeral moments. You spend money you don’t have. Your mind runs on and on with nonsense. You have nothing left. There’s no joy in your life. There’s no more reason to live. You have no future.

Why Has This Become Popular?
Victimhood has become the default state of a great many people around the globe. Why would so many choose a state of such utter sadness and disappointment? No one can say for sure. A popular view is that the the rise of the welfare state, shows like Jerry Springer, shifting cultural norms, and media in general are to blame.

Many victims would say it’s not a choice to be a victim. Once you are victimized, you have no choice, but to be a victim. That is the victim mentality in a nutshell. You have no choice. Anyone can, all of a sudden wrong you. Sure, this happens, but most of the time, you share some responsibility. If you were beaten and mugged, there’s no reason for that, but you were in that area at that time for a reason. You chose to be there. You didn’t know you’d be mugged, but you willfully decided to go to that place at that time.

Random bad things do, of course, happen, from time to time, where you don’t have much responsibility. But part of the responsibility of being alive is knowing that bad things are going to happen to you and that you are going to have to deal with them and move on. Say you’re laid off from a job do really well. Not fun, but there’s no reason to dwell on it. Yes, you were wronged by the company to which you contributed so much effort, but all you can do is move on and find another job.

If you can’t find another job, like so many Americans and others in today’s challenging times, take the opportunity to do your own thing and become one of the liberated self-employed. The freedom of never again answering to a condescending abusive boss is a blessing that is many times only facilitated when one loses the perceived safety and security of steady employment. Hardships are meant to provide the catalyst for positive change, but change scares most people. That’s why hardships are required to facilitate these changes.

Self-employment seems iffy to most people, but when you have no other choice, it’s a pretty good option. Once you’re confident in your ability to make money without depending on a boss, you’d be insane to ever want to go back to your old way of life. However, would you ever have really quit your well-paying job to strike out on your own? Probably not. Getting laid off, might have been the best thing that ever happened to you.

If you recede into victim-hood, asking why something so terrible ever happened to you and wondering why no one will help, you’re not going to realize the positive developments that will come from your trouble. Life isn’t an exciting challenge, anymore, it’s a monster springing out from behind a tree to slice you and dice you! You’re stuck. You’re a deer in the headlights. The car is going to kill you, and you can’t move a muscle. You aren’t going to figure out a way to become self-employed. You’ll get a minimum wage working for a boss who no one can stand.

You Have A Choice
Humans aren’t naturally victims for very long. Why is this such a pervasive attitude in today’s culture? People in power want you to feel helpless so they can control you. That’s why. Plain and simple. Who would work a low-paying, disrespectful service or outgoing call job, otherwise? But, have hope. No one can be a victim forever.

Keep Hope Alive
Sooner or later, everyone realizes they are the only ones with control over their own lives. Once you realize that you are never a victim, you can do incredible things. All of these people will have this epiphany after dealing with the bleak consequences of feeling helpless. They will take control of their own lives, and the world will be a wonderful place. A place full of confident, loving people doing everything they can to help other people to be as happy as they are."

http://www.dreammanifesto.com/hidden-purpose-victimhood.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=is-there-a-hidden-purpose-to-victimhood


Monday, February 1, 2010

 

"The Gang of Five, and How They Nearly Ruined Us

"The Gang of Five, and How They Nearly Ruined Us

The little-known reason why investment banks got too big, too greedy, too risky, and too powerful.

By Daniel Gross
Posted Friday, January 29, 2010 - 10:14am

From Slate

Source The Big Money

"The surviving investment banks are bristling at efforts aimed at recouping taxpayer losses and forestalling a repeat of the panic of 2008: congression­al proposals to tax bonuses, President Obama's planned tax on large banks' liabilities, and his suggestion that banks be prohibited from using taxpayer-insured funds for proprietary trading. That last proposal would "restrict lending, increase risk, decrease stability in the system, and limit our ability to help create jobs," says Steve Bartlett, CEO of the Financial Serv­ices Roundtable, the trade group for megabanks.

But if the banks want us out of their business, they should get out of our business first. We've (barely) lived through a 40-year period in which investment banks haven't imposed themselves on us. They effectively moved into our house, raided our fridge, and set the joint on fire. Now they're complaining that our renovation efforts are cramping their style.

The genesis of the problem was the transformation of investment banks from private partnerships into publicly held companies. The process began when Merrill Lynch went public in 1971. It was followed by the four other horsemen of the 2008 credit apocalypse: Morgan Stanley (MS) (1986), Bear Stearns (1985), Lehman Bros. (1994), and Goldman Sachs (GS) (1999). The Gang of Five went public so they could compete with the international banking giants that were encroaching on their core business of underwriting stock offerings and advising firms and so they could boost their activities in risky, capital-intensive businesses like proprietary trading. "In order to have a capital base that would support the funding they needed, they had to be public," says Roy Smith, a former Goldman Sachs partner and a professor of finance at New York University.

Going public allowed investment banks to get bigger, which then gave them the heft to mold the regulatory system to their liking. Perhaps the most disastrous decision of the past decade was the Securities and Exchange Commission's 2004 rule change allowing investment banks to increase the amount of debt they could take on their books—a move made at the request of the Gang of Five's CEOs. Before Lehman crashed, it had amassed more than $600 billion in debt. No partnership or private corporation could have accomplished that feat.

The shift to public ownership also replaced the accountability of partnerships—when there are no profits, there are no partner bonuses—with the dangerous fecklessness of public boards. In theory, boards are supposed to oversee the activities of CEOs. In practice, they act as expensive rubber stamps. "These companies had board members who either weren't paying attention or, at Lehman in particular, were deliberately selected because they were unqualified or out of it," says John Gillespie, a former investment banker at Lehman and Bear ­Stearns and co-author of the new book <snip> Gillespie notes that in 2008, Lehman's compensation committee included actress Dina Merrill, an heiress to the E.F. Hutton fortune who was 85 years old.

By the time Lehman ended its 14-year run as a public company with a "bagel" (a stock worth zero), some $45 billion in shareholder value had been destroyed. Shareholders didn't do much better with the other four. Bear ­Stearns was rescued from bageldom when JPMorgan (JPM) bought it at a fire-sale price with the help of the Federal Reserve. Morgan Stanley and Goldman managed to remain independent and solvent, but only because huge subsidies were made available to them. In late January, Morgan Stanley's stock stood where it did in early 1998.

Shareholders may have suffered, but employees and executives didn't. At investment-­banking partnerships, compensation is contentious—epic brawls would take place each December as partners argued over bonuses. But they would take place in private, and the process essentially involved rich people taking money out of one another's pockets. Now it's a zero-sum game, with executives and employees essentially taking billions from shareholders.

The public—as aggrieved owners, taxpayers, and savers—has every right to question the banks' methods and practices. If they don't want us poking around their businesses, they can shrink their balance sheets, replace government-subsidized debt with market-rate debt, stop relying on the Federal Reserve for funding, and get out of our index funds. As film mogul Samuel Goldwyn once said: "Include me out!"

Daniel Gross is the Moneybox columnist for Slate and the business columnist for Newsweek."

 http://www.thebigmoney.com/articles/moneybox/2010/01/29/gang-five-and-how-they-nearly-ruined-us?page=full


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