Friday, February 29, 2008

Juno

She wrote the screenplay for "Juno." She's great, Diablo Cody.

United Countries of America


The power elite have some radical plans in store for America. The concept is based in the desire to create an economic super free trade zone minus any of the costly and time consuming obstacles that national sovereignty, including cultural and personal sovereignty, demand.

The North American Union would be similar to the European Union. The entity would be the USA, Canada, and Mexico combined. The proposed currency is the Amero. The semi-governmental organization set up during the Bush administration to further the movement towards the North American Union is the Security and Prosperity Partnership Of North America or the SPP.

As you might suspect, the face of the SPP is security. Their alleged purpose is to help the security of the people, save us from the terrorists. The body of the SPP however, is economics, elite economics, exponential economic power for the few.

Most articles and statements on the SPP website begin with the allusion to security then continue into economics.
...on June 15, Ministers officially launched the North American Competitiveness Council (NACC) that you announced in Cancun. Our three governments recognize that private sector involvement is key to enhancing North America's competitive position in global markets and is the driving force behind innovation and growth.
The high notes are hit in this statement - an entity that is the North American alliance as if it were one total body up against the larger total bodies of the world. Already you see the changing of the words, the actual descriptions of the entity are renamed. This is the crafting of the language of the entity that becomes the common words heard through the media.

Also note that it is private business that is the "key" driving force.
Ongoing liberalization of rules of origin is helping to improve the competitiveness of our industries by reducing transaction costs, facilitating the cross-border trade of goods, and making it easier for exporters to qualify for duty free treatment. In May, our three countries agreed to a third round of changes affecting over $30 billion in trilateral trade with an implementation goal of 2007.
Here we see the changes made in national laws to facilitate the flow of goods and materials between countries. This is a type of homogenization of the borders, a reduction of restrictions, an easing of the sovereignty.

Some of the leaders from the USA, Canada, and Mexico involved in the SSP meetings have been and are:
-Michael Chertoff Secretary of Homeland Security
-Carlos Abascal Secretario de Gobernación
-Stockwell Day Minister of Public Safety
-Carlos Gutierrez Secretary of Commerce
-Sergio García de Alba Secretario de Economía
-Maxime Bernier Minister of Industry
-Condoleezza Rice Secretary of State
-Luis Ernesto Derbez Secretario de Relaciones Exteriores
-Peter G. MacKay Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

One aspect of the North American Union is the proposed 10 lane superhighway that may run right up through Texas. The idea here is to open up a super corridor between Mexico, the USA, and Canada facilitating the transport and distribution of goods, and more.

You can read about this on the Ron Paul wesite: The NAFTA Superhighway
This superhighway would connect Mexico, the United States, and Canada, cutting a wide swath through the middle of Texas and up through Kansas City. Offshoots would connect the main artery to the west coast, Florida, and northeast. Proponents envision a ten-lane colossus the width of several football fields, with freight and rail lines, fiber-optic cable lines, and oil and natural gas pipelines running alongside.

The SPP was not created by a treaty between the nations involved, nor was Congress involved in any way. Instead, the SPP is an unholy alliance of foreign consortiums and officials from several governments. One principal player is a Spanish construction company, which plans to build the highway and operate it as a toll road. But don’t be fooled: the superhighway proposal is not the result of free market demand, but rather an extension of government-managed trade schemes like NAFTA that benefit politically-connected interests.

The ultimate goal is not simply a superhighway, but an integrated North American Union--complete with a currency, a cross-national bureaucracy, and virtually borderless travel within the Union. Like the European Union, a North American Union would represent another step toward the abolition of national sovereignty altogether.
From the White House website: Statement on Second Report of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America
The "Report to Leaders," signed by the responsible coordinating government agencies of Canada, Mexico, and the United States, outlines progress on specific initiatives of the SPP. The report, which can be found on www.spp.gov, includes an updated version of the work plan reporting on the status of initiatives through mid-June 2006. The report highlights that the SPP constitutes a "comprehensive agenda for cooperation" while "respecting the sovereignty and unique cultural and legal heritage" of each country.
This is an interesting quote, "respecting the sovereignty and unique cultural and legal heritage."

Why would they mention that it is necessary to reaffirm the idea of cultural sovereignty unless its negation was a concern.

On Wikipedia: Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America

This is a tricky story to tell. It appears that it is somewhat underground, below the radar as it were, not in the forefront of the media, and that would be intentional. There are upcoming meetings for the SSP scheduled for this year.

There are websites up with interests in stopping the North American Union and there are videos at youtube which get into it as well.

My sense is that its a piece by piece type of effort undertaken by the power elite. One piece comes into play with each successive administration. Bush did a lot to ramp up the terrorism aspect which is the card that is most often played to instill fear and manipulate the public.

The SPP appears to be more of the economic strategies aspect of the agenda.

This is the privatization and homogenization of North America as a totality.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Double Take


Soon and Not Soon

CNN: McCain: 'The war will be over soon'
Republican presidential candidate John McCain defended his belief that U.S. troops will need to stay in Iraq for decades Monday but said the unpopular war will soon end "for all intents and purposes."
Finally a position all Americans can agree on!

The war will be over soon - Great, all lefties and progressives are happy to hear that this horrible occupation war will be over, never should have even started to begin with.

Yet, we will be in Iraq for maybe 100 years - The war party will be very pleased because even though the war will soon be over, we will be ready to fight them there, just in case, so we won't be fighting them here.

This is a remarkable statement from McCain. He is pursuing peace and war at the same time for the same place.

The marriage is over, no more love, no more reason to stay together, but I will be living with you for the rest of my life.

Your operation was successful! You are healed, you are well. However, we will be keeping you in the hospital for the rest of your life, anyhow.

Eggs - Act - Lee

Denver Post: Huckabee endorses 'egg as person' amendment
Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee on Monday endorsed a proposed Colorado Human Life Amendment that would define personhood as a fertilized egg.
Small little detail, but I'm presuming they mean a human fertilized egg otherwise we are going into some serious uncharted waters.

Not that this is not uncharted waters but at least there is a recognizable tangent taking place.

Look if this is going to be the law then lets take it to its next logical step. We are going to need refined surveillance monitors that fit into the uterus that will sound the alarm when fertilization occurs. How else will we know when a human being is present. It would be guesswork and after all, the law is the law.

We'll need new birth certificates. Hell, here I am thinking I'm 55 and really I'm 56. Crap. Hey, closer to SSI than I think - Wow! Alright, I like it!

We can not accuse Mike Huckabee of agism. Don't go there.

Inflation, inflation, inflation...

AP: Confidence Plunges, Inflation Rate Soars
No good news today on the economic front. Consumer confidence plunged, the wholesale inflation rate soared, the number of homes being foreclosed jumped, home prices fell sharply and a report predicts big increases in health care costs.

Consumer confidence weakened significantly as Americans worry about less-favorable business conditions and job prospects. The New York-based Conference Board says in a report released on Tuesday that its Consumer Confidence Index plunged in February to 75.0 from a revised 87.3 in January.
Big surge in US producer prices
Producer prices, sometime known as factory gate inflation, show the amount domestic producers receive for their products.

Inflationary pressures tend to show up earlier in producer prices than in consumer or retail prices figures.
Robust Ribald Dress

Live Science: Viking Women Dressed Provocatively
A runway fashion show in Viking times would have spotlighted women cloaked in imported colored-silk gowns adorned with metallic breast coverings and long trains.

The new finding reveals instead that a Viking woman's dress consisted of a single piece of fabric with an opening in the front. A pair of brooches, or clasps, was situated on top of the breasts to accentuate the wearer's figure.
The mind can only wonder what the Viking lingerie might have been.

Critiquing Obama

I have to admit it, I can relate to the following.

FT: Column: Obama and the art of empty rhetoric
...I have watched Mr Obama speak live; I have watched him speak on television; I have even watched his speeches set to music on a video made by celebrity supporters (www.dipdive.com). But I find myself strangely unmoved – and this is disconcerting. It feels like admitting to falling asleep during Winston Churchill’s “fight them on the beaches” speech.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Historic Speed


Attosecond

Live Science: Electron Filmed for First Time
Scientists have filmed an electron in motion for the first time, using a new technique that will allow researchers to study the tiny particle's movements directly.

"It takes about 150 attoseconds for an electron to circle the nucleus of an atom. An attosecond is 10^-18 seconds long, or, expressed in another way: an attosecond is related to a second as a second is related to the age of the universe..."
I love that relationship between the attosecond and the universe. Your dinner will be served in 2,000,345 attos.

Energy Package

Congress is about to vote on a new energy package that would favor green-energy minded citizens and then take away some tax breaks for big oil.

Oil companies would stand to lose 13.6 billion in tax breaks which resulted from 2004 legislation, the good old times of a Republican majority in both the house and senate and also with big oil practically slathered all over the White House.

With a narrow Democratic majority in the Senate, unfortunately, it aint gonna happen. When the country needs decisive and important change on energy issues, we are still stuck. Anybody willing to bet that the population centers of the Republican base, the states where our regressive senator politicos reside, is a fraction of that of liberal centers. Its two senators for every state, that's the rules.

CNNMoney: US House Set To Vote Next Week On Energy Tax Package
Congressional Democrats will try again next week to take away tax breaks for oil companies in order to finance renewable-energy and building efficiency projects, but success remains elusive amid a shortage of votes in the Senate.

The U.S. House of Representatives is tentatively set to vote on Wednesday on the bill, which would repeal more than $17.6 billion in tax breaks for oil and gas producers over 10 years. Consumers would gain new tax breaks for buying plug-in hybrid cars. Companies would be able to continue taking tax credits for wind, solar and other renewable-energy projects, extending breaks that expire at the end of 2008.
Debt Trend

We are starting to see articles that attempt to mollify our concerns about the economic conditions that are common. Credit card debt is the topic in the CNN article.

I maintain that credit cards rained down on people in a deliberate effort to move Americans into third world citizen economic status. They liked what they could do with debt in third world countries and thought, let's get her done here, its the American way.

Think about it. In the recent past you could get yourself a portfolio of credit cards based on the flimsiest of credit responsibility. I would get several mailing offers a day. Fortunately I threw them out, shredding them first.

CNN: When credit cards put you in jeopardy
Consumers have racked up more than $2.2 trillion in purchases and cash advances on major credit cards in just the last year...The overall credit card debt grew by 315 percent from 1989 to 2006...
Kosovo and Rambouillet

Jeremy Scahill has put together a nice article on Kosovo with plenty of historical information on the Clinton administration's bombing of Yugoslavia.

ZNET: The Real Story Behind Kosovo's Independence
On March 24, 1999, President Bill Clinton began an 11-week bombing campaign against Yugoslavia. Like Bush with Iraq, Clinton had no UN mandate (he used NATO) and his so-called "diplomacy" to avert the possibility of bombing leading up to the attacks was insincere and a set-up from the jump. Just like Bush with Iraq.


A month before the bombing began, the Clinton administration issued an ultimatum to President Slobodan Milosevic, which he had to either accept unconditionally or face bombing. Known as the Rambouillet accord, it was a document that no sovereign country would have accepted. It contained a provision that would have guaranteed US and NATO forces "free and unrestricted passage and unimpeded access throughout" all of Yugoslavia, not just Kosovo. It also sought to immunize those occupation forces "from any form of arrest, investigation, or detention by the authorities in [Yugoslavia]," as well as grant the occupiers "the use of airports, roads, rails and ports without payment." Additionally, Milosevic was told he would have to "grant all telecommunications services, including broadcast services, needed for the Operation, as determined by NATO." Similar to Bush's Iraq plan years later, Rambouillet mandated that the economy of Kosovo "shall function in accordance with free market principles."

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Apple You Know


Ralphed

In 2000, I was furious at Nader's run. In 2004 I was horrified and distressed that he would interfere with usurping the hideous neo-conservative administration of Bush, I cursed Nader as I held my nose and voted for Kerry. This year I may very well be voting for Nader regardless of the Democratic candidate, Clinton or Obama, and more than likely Obama. Time and reading progressive articles for the past several years has turned me into a complete shit head.

Will I be openly campaigning for Ralph and trying to convince you or anyone else to vote for him - oh god, hell no. I don't care if he ends up with .05% of the vote, and he very well might. You see, prior to Ralph's announcement, I was not planning to vote, at least for the presidency, and I always vote, I take it seriously.

I simply don't hear anybody saying the things I want to hear. I don't hear anybody rejecting the imperial presidency. I don't hear anybody wanting to drastically cut the grossly inflated military budget, its not even something that can be questioned let alone changed. I don't hear anybody talking about the miserable influence and control that corporations exert on our lives. I could change my mind, November is a ways off.

Breitbart: Nader Announces New Run for President
Ralph Nader said Sunday he will run for president as a third-party candidate, criticizing the top White House contenders as too close to big business and pledging to repeat a bid that will "shift the power from the few to the many."

Nader, 73, said most people are disenchanted with the Democratic and Republican parties due to a prolonged Iraq war and a shaky economy. The consumer advocate also blamed tax and other corporate-friendly policies under the Bush administration that he said have left many lower- and middle-class people in debt.
God help us.

Willow and Meadowsweet

Willow Meadowsweet compound is an effective analgesic i.e. pain reliever, without the effects of aspirin. Apparently it is similar to aspirin in chemical composition.

Its a mild pain reliever, I've tried it and it works. Fortunately I know some wise professional people that have knowledge of herbal remedies and can make appropriate recommendations.

WILLOW • MEADOWSWEET COMPOUND
Uses: This compound can give relief from many kinds of pain, and often is able to eliminate some pains completely. Indicated in neuralgia, myalgia, enteralgia and visceralgia, headache, toothache, arthritis, lumbago, sciatica, painful spasms, pain of physical injuries, painful hemorrhoids, tic-douloureux, dysmenorrhœa (painful menstruation), etc.

Although this compound often works well, it can only do so much with severe pain, and stronger analgesics may be necessary.

Disclaimer: This information is for educational and research purposes only. It is not intended to medically prescribe or promote the sale of any product, nor is it intended to replace qualified medical healthcare. If you have, or think you have a condition which requires medical attention, you should promptly seek qualified healthcare.
Agism, Sexism, Racism

MSNBC: McCain’s age part of choice of running mate?
When it comes to senators hoping to make history with their presidential bids, Hillary Rodham Clinton (who would be the first woman to be president) and Barack Obama (who would be the first black president) are not the only ones. John McCain, 71, is hoping to become the oldest candidate ever elected to a first term in the White House.

...who would be the best fit for the (McCain) ticket. Quite a few of the names being bandied about are those of politicians in their 40s and 50s, including Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, 47; Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida, 51, whose well-timed endorsement helped Mr. McCain win the crucial swing-state’s primary; Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina, 47; and Rob Portman, 52, a former Ohio congressman and director of the Office of Management and Budget.
What about Jeb Bush? As absurd as it sounds, I bet some conservative insider hack is chewing that one over.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Greed Spoils


Profit Only

As inviting and interesting as the Presidential campaign is, stories continue to emerge about the Iraq war and the disgraceful corruption surrounding its prosecution. To some, the latter remains the relevant and important news.

Chicago Tribune: Inside the world of war profiteers
From prostitutes to Super bowl tickets, a federal probe reveals how contractors in Iraq cheated the U.S. By David Jackson and Jason Grotto

Hundreds of pages of recently unsealed court records detail how kickbacks shaped the war's largest troop support contract months before the first wave of U.S. soldiers plunged their boots into Iraqi sand.

Federal prosecutors in Rock Island have indicted four former supervisors from KBR, the giant defense firm that holds the contract, along with a decorated Army officer and five executives from KBR subcontractors based in the U.S. or the Middle East. Those defendants, along with two other KBR employees who have pleaded guilty in Virginia, account for a third of the 36 people indicted to date on Iraq war-contract crimes, Justice Department records show.

A common thread runs through these cases and other KBR scandals in Iraq, from allegations the firm failed to protect employees sexually assaulted by co-workers to findings that it charged $45 per can of soda: The Pentagon has outsourced crucial troop support jobs while slashing the number of government contract watchdogs.
The full article is nauseating. KBR is a former subsidiary of Halliburton. Halliburton is now headquartered in the United Arab Emirites, where they pay $0. taxes back into the USA and we already know about Cheney's role with Halliburton.

As the Bush administration brought the screwiest form of Democracy any of us have ever seen to Iraq with "shock and awe", American tax dollars freely flowed bloating the pockets of those corporations that are intimately linked with the Bush/Cheney administration. This is a disgraceful insult to the American people now witnessing the devaluation of their assets with the most recent recession. This is the Bush/Cheney legacy. You will not hear a word of this corruption from the noise machine that rests its case on imaginary unfounded ideologies and completely unrealized policies.

Crack Pot Crock

Reuters: GM exec stands by calling global warming a 'crock'
General Motors Corp Vice Chairman Bob Lutz has defended remarks he made dismissing global warming as a "total crock of shit," saying his views had no bearing on GM's commitment to build environmentally friendly vehicles.

GM is racing against Toyota Motor Corp to be first to market a plug-in hybrid car that can be recharged at a standard electric outlet.
Recall the news from a few days ago - GM Posts Biggest Annual US Auto Loss. GM reported a $38.7 billion loss for 2007 and wants to replace 16,000 hourly workers making $28 per hour with workers making $14 per hour. Recall that Toyota is regarded as one of the 20 top innovative businesses in the world.

The price of gas continues to rise. The price of a barrel of oil tipped the $100 mark last week. The USA is beginning a recession accompanied by inflation. GM's interest in replacing 16,000 workers is emblematic of the recession. Unemployment is part of the recession as well. All this occurs within the larger issue of global warming and all of its implications.

Americans would overwhelmingly welcome innovations in the American auto manufacturing business that would boost the MPG's. Blaming a systemic inability to create innovative products on global warming seems like a mark of deep frustration and is not of any value.

Antarctic

Continuing with the evidence of global warming and its impact on the world's environmental systems -

BBC: Antarctic glaciers surge to ocean
UK scientists...have found some of the clearest evidence yet of instabilities in the ice of part of West Antarctica.

...it could lead to a significant rise in global sea level.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Samsara or Nirvana

Crash


Turn, Turn, Turn

Those wacky senators from Oklahoma are at it again.

Coburn declines to elaborate on Iraq War statement
U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn's comment that going to war in Iraq was "probably a mistake" represents a significant departure from where the Oklahoma Republican started out on the 5-year-old conflict.

Coburn...ran for the Senate in 2004.

During both the primary and the general election campaigns that year, he repeatedly expressed support for President Bush's decision to take the country to war in Iraq.
This is very surprising. We don't expect the hardcore element of the Conservative party to make statements that they support Al Qaeda, want to hand Osama bin Laden a victory along with the keys to the White House and your 401 K, and are surrender monkeys. Even I can see that.

Coburn's Oklahoma Republican Senator twin is none other than Jim Inhofe. Inhofe is famous for saying Al Gore is 'full of crap' and that people who believe that there is global warming are similar to the Third Reich.

$1.2 Billion Crash

Breitbart: US military investigates stealth bomber crash
The US military was investigating on Saturday after a B-2 stealth bomber crashed on take-off from the Pacific island of Guam, the first such incident involving the futuristic craft.

Both pilots on board ejected safely as the 1.2-billion-dollar radar-evading plane, with its distinctive triangular shape, went down at Andersen airbase...
The pilots are safe, that's good. This has got to be the most expensive vehicle crash in the history of humanity. This is the monetary equivalent to 50,000 cars crashing in a pile-up.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Hidden Value


Family Values

The values party takes another one on the nose and shoots itself in the foot.

When the Republicans talk about 'family' values, do they mean the crime family, is it the Gambino family?

CNN: Feds: Renzi made $700,000-plus in deal that led to indictment
U.S. Rep. Rick Renzi has been indicted on charges he promised to support legislation in exchange for a land deal that netted the Arizona Republican more than $700,000, the Justice Department said Friday.
The idea is that you actually embody moral virtue then you allow people to recognize it in you. It doesn't work the other way around.

MacMansions into MacSlums

The sub prime mortgage fiasco is literally changing the American landscape. Foreclosures and people simply abandoning a home that is beyond one's means are leading to suburban slums.

The Next Slum?
At Windy Ridge, a recently built starter-home development seven miles northwest of Charlotte, North Carolina, 81 of the community’s 132 small, vinyl-sided houses were in foreclosure as of late last year...

In the Franklin Reserve neighborhood of Elk Grove, California, south of Sacramento, the houses...once sold for well over $500,000—but the phenomenon is the same. At the height of the boom, 10,000 new homes were built there in just four years. Now many are empty...
Whenever there is tragedy an economic opportunity arises - bargain prices for your own MacMansion village, impressive solvency required.

Turkey into Iraq

Remember, nobody invades Iraq unless they have US approval.

BBC: Turkish troops enter north Iraq
Turkish ground forces have crossed the border into northern Iraq to target Kurdish rebels...

More than 30,000 (closer to 40,000) people have been killed since the PKK began fighting for a Kurdish homeland in south-eastern Turkey in 1984.
Who are the PKK?

BBC: Profile: The PKK
Formed in the late 1970s and launched an armed struggle against the Turkish government in 1984, calling for an independent Kurdish state within Turkey.

...allow more cultural rights for the country's estimated 15 million Kurds and release imprisoned PKK members.
See my article from December 20, 2007 - Turkey, Iraq, the PKK After you click it will appear under this article.

Sculptures by Arp

Friday, February 22, 2008

Unvarnished


At this time the number of American troops killed in Iraq stands at 3968. source

McCain voted to impeach Clinton. One of two impeachment charges dealt with Clinton using his influence to get Monica a better job. This is exactly what McCain is alleged to have done in his newly revealed peccadillo.

McCain's family values-affair-gate problems hide this much more important bit of news.

AP: McCain: Bush should veto torture bill
Republican presidential candidate John McCain said President Bush should veto a measure that would bar the CIA from using waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods on terror suspects.
This is also called adjusting to the Conservative base. Support torture and your peccadillo will be described as a left wing smear.

BBC: US 'confident' over satellite hit
The US is confident that its shooting down of a disabled spy satellite with a missile managed to destroy its potentially toxic fuel tank.

Marine Gen James Cartwright said there was a 80-90% chance that the satellite's tank had been destroyed.
That fact is immediately followed by -

The Guardian: China accuses US of double standards over satellite strike
Beijing - which was criticised by the US and others when it shot down one of its own satellites last year - turned the tables on the Bush administration after the satellite was shot down today.
The Chinese are clearly not familiar with the notion of 'American exceptional-ism.' There is no double standard.

How crazed is America's homophobic fringe, just as crazy as Israel's homophobic fringe.

BBC: Israeli MP blames quakes on gays
An Israeli MP has blamed parliament's tolerance of gays for earthquakes that have rocked the Holy Land recently.

He called on lawmakers to stop "passing legislation on how to encourage homosexual activity in the state of Israel, which anyway brings about earthquakes".
In this particular case, the Israeli MP appears to be making a Freudian cry for help. Reminds me of an old song, the lyrics go something like - "I feel the earth move under my feet.....when you're around."

Divide, Conquer, Plunder, Persevere



Picture is Lindsey Lohan as Marilyn Monroe

Pathetic news:
Among all Americans, 19% approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president and 77% disapprove. source
That's a record low. Its more than is deserved. 98% of that floundering 19% have lost out under Bush whether or not they would admit it or even understand it.

Gossip news: McCain had an affair! Vicki Iseman? Not something I want to think about, but it does make McCain seem more human. One would suspect that this information is being revealed now so that we all forget about it by November. Most will have forgotten by the end of the week.

Money news: The rising price of oil is a big part of our newest inflation. Its interesting to remember that a one part of our financial solvency is dependent on big oil companies. If the world's energy needs were met by renewable resources, how would that solvency and stability change. I don't have an answer but its a reasonable question.

Anyone else having trouble adjusting to the resale wonder bread and generic peanut butter and generic jelly diet.

BBC: US inflation may stall rate cuts
US consumer prices rose by 0.4% in January, official figures show, more than many analysts had forecast.

Separate data showed that the US housing market was still experiencing problems, with construction indicators hovering near their lowest levels since 1991.

Neil Mellor at Bank of New York Mellon said the inflation data could raise fresh fears of stagflation - rising prices and stagnant growth.
There is an emotional element in the mix. I would propose that it is the stagnation of the Bush administration that greatly affects the economy. When the dominant emotional theme of an administration is the enhancement of fear, how do people respond over a seven year period.

We need new terminology to describe when a president causes emotional stagnation in the citizens - executive stagmotion syndrome?

BBC: US economy at a glance
The US economy, a $15 trillion giant which makes up 25% of the world economy, is in trouble, and could drag down world growth.

The US economy is also facing significant inflationary pressures because of record oil prices...

...unemployment is higher than it was at the end of the last boom in the l990s.

In the longer term, costs will rise as more people claim social security and Medicare payments as the Baby Boomer generation reaches retirement.
Will I ever see a dime in social security? This is a big concern especially since I began contributing to SS since way back in 1967, meaning I have contributed for over forty years and still have 8 or 11 years to go.

Regaring the inflationary aspect of the price of oil, the news tells the story.

MSNBC: Crude oil prices retreat after record close - After spike to a close above $100, crude may continue to climb
Oil prices pulled back a bit Wednesday after finishing above $100 a barrel for the first time a day earlier as investors seized on a refinery explosion and the possibility that OPEC may cut its output.
Yes the elusive $100 mark was fondled. Its only a matter of time before foreplay leads to unmitigated uncontrollable rapture.

AP: Fed forecasts inflation, unemployment
The Federal Reserve on Wednesday lowered its projection for economic growth this year, citing damage from the double blows of a housing slump and credit crunch. It said it also expects higher unemployment and inflation.

Oil prices on Tuesday jumped to a new record — topping $100 a barrel. Consumer prices, meanwhile, rose by a bigger-than-expected 0.4 percent in January, according to new government figures released Wednesday
The following tragic article should be read with great caution and care. People place great amounts of their well being on money, its simple. The article points to drug use as the reason for suicide but what is behind the drug use. I would suggest that it is a gnawing sense of sinking in an economic anxiety ocean. In spite of the economic difficulty, our value as people goes way beyond money, regardless of how much you have or do not have. This is too sad.

NYT: Midlife Suicide Rises, Puzzling Researchers
A new five-year analysis of the nation’s death rates recently released...found that the suicide rate among 45-to-54-year-olds increased nearly 20 percent from 1999 to 2004, the latest year studied, far outpacing changes in nearly every other age group.

For women 45 to 54, the rate leapt 31 percent.

At the moment, the prime suspect is the skyrocketing use — and abuse — of prescription drugs.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Portugal is Green


Obama is looking like a sure thing from the Democrats. We are into what I call the ultra snippy phase of the presidential campaign. The snipping and allegations are coming from all sides and going in all directions. Does anyone actually care?

Regardless, I am thinking about Portugal. Is this the country to move to in the event of a McCain presidency.

BBC: Green energy wins over Portugal
Glittering panels are being mounted on frames the size of tennis courts, then planted in lines facing the sun.

...Portugal has embraced renewable energy, pushing it near the top of the European league. The UK only gets 5% of its electricity from renewables, while Portugal already gets 39%.

The Portuguese government is relying on the new dams to keep supply and demand in balance. Hydro-electric capacity will be boosted by 50%.
Right now, 39% of their power comes from renewable sources, that is what you read.

Their goal is to get to 45% by 2010.

Portugal's green energy revolution has also created thousands of jobs. What other country could use that. Must be one someplace.

Portugal's use of green energy has paid dividends to American companies.
Energy Photovoltaics, Inc. (EPV), a solar energy manufacturer in New Jersey, has joined in the creation of a new joint venture company, Solar Plus, S.A. of Lisbon, Portugal. The joint venture, which has a value in excess of $20 Million (17 Million Euros), has executed a contract with EPV that starts the first phase of development of a 5.5 megawatt (MW) thin-film photovoltaic module manufacturing facility near Aveiro in the central coast of Portugal. This will more than triple current photovoltaic production capacity in Portugal with operations starting in early 2007. source
Portugal will be in the forefront of using a 'wave farm' as an energy source. This particular technology is being developed by Portugal, they are in the vanguard.
Atlantic Ocean waves are to light up 1,500 homes in the north of Portugal. The first 2.25 megawatts of electricity produced from wave power will be brought ashore at Aguçadoura, on the northern coast, as of October.

A submarine cable will bring the electrical energy ashore, and will feed directly into the national distribution grid controlled by the state-run Energias de Portugal (EDP) company.

It is a modest quantity, but it is the first stage of "the first power plant in the world to use waves as a source of renewable energy..." source

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Kosovo


You can locate Kosovo in the southern part of Serbia. Click on the map for a larger image.

Kosovo has declared that it is an independent nation. Kosovo has broken away from Serbia. 90% of the Kosovo's population are Albanians.

Bush is wildly popular in Kosovo and among Albanians for supporting their independence.

The move for Kosovo's independence is supported by a long list of America's ruling elite from both sides of the aisle including the ever present neocon Frank Carlucci and Richard Holbrooke.

Serbia, Russia, China, and Spain are among the countries opposed to Kosovo's independence.

The movement towards Kosovo's independence has been in the works for several years.

A detailed article found over at 'counterpunch' unmasks this issue.

The Absurdity of "Independent" Kosovo By GEORGE SZAMUELY
To be sure, land would be taken away from Serbia, and the Kosovo's Serbs, Turks, Roma and other minorities would be booted out, even as NATO/EU officials will doubtless go on avowing their commitment to a multicultural, multiethnic, multi-whatever Kosovo.

However, there is no plan to permit Kosovo's Albanians to run their own affairs. First of all, as in Bosnia, ultimate power will reside with an internationally-appointed bureaucrat. This position of colonial viceroy known as the International Civilian Representative (ICR), will be held by one of the West's innumerable, interchangeable has-been politicians moving from one sinecure to another.

There is also to be an International Military Presence (IMP) established by NATO; it is to "operate under the authority, and be subject to the direction and political control of the North Atlantic Council through the NATO chain of command.
The name of the American military base for Kosovo - Camp Bondsteel
The United States agreed to provide a force of approximately 7,000 US personnel as part of the NATO KFOR to help maintain a capable military force in Kosovo and to ensure the safe return of Kosovar refugees. The US supports KFOR by providing the headquarters and troops for one of the four NATO sectors. The US also provides personnel, units and equipment to other components of the KFOR organization.

Camp Bondsteel [CBS] is quite large: 955 acres or 360,000 square meters. If you were to run the outer perimeter, it is about 7 miles. Bondsteel is located on rolling hills and farmland near the city of Ferizaj/Urosevac. There are two dining facilities at Camp Bondsteel: one in North town and one in South town. The food is very well prepared and there are always a variety of main and side dishes to choose from. There are also salad bars, potato bars and multiple dessert offerings. Due to General Order #1, only alcohol-free beer is served, but it is better than nothing! There are set hours for meals, but each dining facility also has a 24-hour section for sandwiches, coffee, fruit, and continental breakfast items.
source
From the CIA website on the economy of Kosovo:
Kosovo's economy continues to transition to a market-based system and is largely dependent on the international community and the diaspora for financial and technical assistance. The euro and the Serbian dinar are both accepted currencies in Kosovo. While maintaining ultimate oversight, UNMIK continues to work with the EU and Kosovo's local provisional government to accelerate economic growth, lower unemployment, and attract foreign investment to help Kosovo integrate into regional economic structures. The complexity of Serbia and Kosovo's political and legal relationships has created uncertainty over property rights and hindered the privatization of state-owned assets in Kosovo. Most of Kosovo's population lives in rural towns outside of the largest city, Pristina. Inefficient, near-subsistence farming is common.source

Africom


Africom is the relatively new United States Africa Command.

You might ask what is this? Recall that the US military is ultra-global. I suspect that most Americans don't know this. On the other hand, if they did, would it matter.
The forces of the United States military are located in nearly 130 countries around the world performing a variety of duties from combat operations, to peacekeeping, to training with foreign militaries. Some of these deployments have existed for nearly 50 years, as in Japan, Germany, and South Korea, while other deployments have more recent origins such as the current occupation of Iraq.
130 nations. I thought it was more.

BBC: US drops Africa military HQ plan
The US military has decided to keep the headquarters of its new Africa Command in Germany, after only one African nation, Liberia, offered to host it.

There has been concern that Africom is really an attempt to protect US oil and mineral interests in Africa, amid growing competition for resources from Asian economies
More on Africom from the military home website: AFRICOM FAQs
On February 6, 2007, President Bush directed the creation of U.S. Africa Command. The decision was the culmination of a 10-year thought process within the Department of Defense (DOD) acknowledging the emerging strategic importance of Africa, and recognizing that peace and stability on the continent impacts not only Africans, but the interests of the U.S. and international community as well.
Criticism of Africom from the Nation: Say No to Africom by Danny Glover & Nicole C. Lee
In truth Africom is a dangerous continuation of US military expansion around the globe. Such foreign-policy priorities, as well as the use of weapons of war to combat terrorist threats on the African continent, will not achieve national security. Africom will only inflame threats against the United States, make Africa even more dependent on external powers and delay responsible African solutions to continental security issues.
Also: Rumble in the Jungle: The AFRICOM Boondoggle by Werther
AFRICOM also represents a God-sent opportunity for both our major political parties to find new worlds to conquer. The GOP, being a subsidiary of Big Oil, is fairly licking its chops at West African oil...
We live in an empire nation. Its important to keep track of the empire's boundaries.

Pi

From: Rocketboom

I love this.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Cell Phone Info


From a deep operative:
How to disable a STOLEN mobile phone?

To check your Mobile phone's serial number, key in the following digits on your phone: * # 0 6 #. A 15-digit code will appear on the screen.


(This does work, I did it on my cingular nokia.)

This number is unique to your handset. Write it down and keep it somewhere safe. When your phone get stolen, you can phone your service provider and give them this code. They will then be able to block your handset so even if the thief changes the SIM card, your phone will be totally useless. You probably won't get your phone back, but at least you know that whoever stole it can't use/sell it either. If everybody does this, there would be no point in people stealing mobile phones.

US Constitution Article 6

"The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."
Its the last sentence that is so profoundly relevant.

"..no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

Bardo Thodul


Periodically I re-read the 'Tibetan Book of the Dead.'

It helps me to reflect on my mortality, my impermanence, and mortality in general.

The book is essentially in three parts.

The first part discusses the period directly after death.

The second part discusses the opportunities that occur in the following period, called the 'Bardo of the Dharmata.'

The third part discusses the period of attractions which cause rebirth, rebirth being a central concept in Tibetan Buddhism.

To the beginner the book seems mysterious and filled with unusual terminology. However many recent teachers have written explanations that reveal the meaning of the brilliant symbolism.

In short, the book is about liberation, absolute freedom.

At one point I read through works by Carl Jung. I found this quote in one of his books on East West Religion. The words seem like an enticement.
...."Apart, however, from the Masses said for the soul in the Catholic Church, the provisions we make for the dead are rudimentary and on the lowest level, not because we cannot convince ourselves of the soul's immortality, but because we have rationalized the above-mentioned psychological need out of existence. We behave as if we did not have this need, and because we cannot believe in a life after death we prefer to do nothing about it. Simpler-minded people follow their own feelings, and, as in Italy, build themselves funeral monuments of gruesome beauty. The Catholic Masses for the soul are on a level considerably above this, because they are expressly intended for the psychic welfare of the deceased and are not a mere gratification of lachrymose sentiments. But the highest application of spiritual effort on behalf of the departed is surely to be found in the instructions of the "Bardo Thodul" (The Tibetan Book of the Dead). They are so detailed and thoroughly adapted to the apparent changes in the dead man's condition that every serious-minded reader must ask himself whether these wise old lamas might not, after all, have caught a glimpse of the fourth dimension and twitched the veil from the greatest of life's secrets."

Bush - Putin on Kosovo

Opposing interests on Kosovo's newly declared independence.

Independence Is Proclaimed By Kosovo
The move was immediately condemned by Serbia and its ally Russia.

"For as long as the Serbian nation exists, Kosovo will remain Serbia.."

Russia also says that recognition of the province's independence could spark violent separatism elsewhere in the world...

Ethnic Albanians make up 90 percent of Kosovo's population.
BBC: Press cheers Bush over Kosovo
Newspapers in the Serbian province of Kosovo are delighted at President George W Bush's backing for the Kosovo Albanian independence bid, calling it an "historic moment".
Albanians love Bush.

Iraq Reality

Reuters: Al Qaeda sows fear after sunset in Iraq's north
In northern Iraq, cities remain virtual ghost towns after dark as al Qaeda militants stalk the streets and fearful residents huddle indoors.

The U.S. military and Iraqi officials have hailed vastly better security in Baghdad, western Anbar province and areas south of the capital, which has allowed people to venture out at night to shop at markets and eat at restaurants.

But in the cities of Samarra, Baquba and Mosul, the militants still sow fear.

37 in Afghanistan

Breitbart: Car Bomb Kills 37 Afghan Civilians
A suicide car bomber targeting a Canadian military convoy killed 37 civilians at a busy market in southern Afghanistan on Monday, officials said.

It was the second major attack in as many days in Kandahar province, the former stronghold of the hardline Taliban.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Squat


AP: Some Homeless Squat in Foreclosed Houses
The nation's foreclosure crisis has led to a painful irony for homeless people: On any given night they are outnumbered in some cities by vacant houses. Some street people are taking advantage of the opportunity by becoming squatters.

Foreclosed homes often have an advantage over boarded-up and dilapidated houses abandoned because of rundown conditions: Sometimes the heat, lights and water are still working.
Let's see - empty houses.... homeless people... There must be a solution. I just can't put my finger on it.

Empty houses... then homeless people. I give up. Its way too complex.

Bio-Fuels Update


Breitbart: Biofuel: Gene scientists find secret to oil yield from corn
Agricultural scientists in the United States have identified a key gene that determines oil yield in a corn, a finding that could have repercussions for the fast-expanding biofuels industry.

In addition, a tiny amino acid variant within this gene can boost the yield of oil and oleic acid -- the sought-after edible fat in corn -- by up to 41 percent and 107 percent respectively.
Like it or not, ready or not, big business is working on beautifying bio-fuels.

Bio-fuels are coming to you.

Although ethanol is not specifically mentioned in this article, ethanol is derived from corn.

The negatives are many.
The impacts include higher prices in the global food market as more fields are devoted to growing fuel rather than food, and the destruction of forests in Brazil and Indonesia as land is cleared for fuel crops.

Balance


From the book 'Psyche and Matter' by Marie-Louise von Franz
....In Kiaochou came a great drought so that men and animals died in the hundreds. In despair, the citizens called for an old rainmaker who lived in the mountains nearby.

....the rainmaker was brought into town in a sedan chair, a tiny little gray-bearded man. He asked to be left alone outside the town in a little hut, and after three days it rained, and even snowed!

....the old man (was) asked..how he made the rain. But he answered, "I haven't made the rain, of course not." And then, after a pause, he added, "You see it was like this-throughout the drought the whole of nature and all the men and women here were deeply disturbed. They were no longer in Tao. When I arrived here I became also disturbed. It was so bad that it took me three days to bring myself again into order." And then he added, with a smile, "Then naturally it rained."

Strange Love

An excerpt from one of the most darkly hilarious films ever - Kubrick's 'Dr. Strangelove.'

The story revolves around a deranged American military base commander who flips out and sends the bases' aircraft off to nuke the USSR.

In this scene, Peter Sellers plays the US President. He has to call his Russian counterpart and tell him what is occurring. He must tell him he has an hour before the USSR is destroyed.

Sellers is outrageous in this movie playing three roles including one very very reminiscent of Henry Kissinger.

80 in Afghanistan

BBC: 'Deadliest' attack in Afghanistan
At least 80 people have been killed in a suicide bombing in the Afghan city of Kandahar - in what appears to be the deadliest attack since 2001.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Jean Arp 1886-1966


Stunning work, exceptional artist
Jean Arp was born Hans Arp on September 16, 1886, in Strasbourg. In 1904, after leaving the Ecole des Arts et Métiers, Strasbourg, he visited Paris and published his poetry for the first time. From 1905 to 1907, Arp studied at the Kunstschule, Weimar, and in 1908 went to Paris, where he attended the Académie Julian. In 1909, he moved to Switzerland and in 1911 was a founder of the Moderner Bund group there. The following year, he met Robert and Sonia Delaunay in Paris and Vasily Kandinsky in Munich. Arp participated in the Erste deutsche Herbstsalon in 1913 at the gallery Der Sturm, Berlin. After returning to Paris in 1914, he became acquainted with Guillaume Apollinaire, Max Jacob, Amadeo Modigliani, and Pablo Picasso. In 1915, he moved to Zurich, where he executed collages and tapestries, often in collaboration with his future wife Sophie Taeuber (who became known as Sophie Taeuber-Arp after they married in 1922).
Unusual Arp inspired flash animation: Arp Flash

Instruction on making plaster sculpture: Plaster Lesson

Antarctic - Global Warming


The impact of global warming on the various eco-bio-systems is slowly coming forward. The rising of the temperatures of the oceans is causing a shift in the habitat patterns of many sea creatures.

This article explores the impact that rising water temperatures will have on the Antarctic.

BBC: Warming risks Antarctic sea life
Bony fish and sharks would move in if waters warm further, threatening species with extinction, they say.

In the last 50 years, sea surface temperatures around Antarctica have risen by 1 to 2C, which is more than twice the global average.

Animals that live on the seafloor of Antarctica are some of the strangest creatures on Earth.
Photo: Antarctic deep sea crustacean

Flowers and Trees

A pastoral ambient cartoon from Disney circa 1932.

Iraq Perceptions


Most MSM news on Iraq will often support the idea that peace is on the way, Baghdad is now safe, and progress is at hand. This is what Americans are hearing.

For example: Iraqi PM: al-Qaida Chased From Baghdad
Iraq's prime minister said Friday that U.S. and Iraqi troops have chased al-Qaida in Iraq out of Baghdad in the year since a security crackdown began, and he promised to pursue insurgents who have fled northward.
John McCain is more or less basing his campaign on the continuation of the Iraq occupation. He is confident that a 'victory' is at hand, and that the surge is a success. He is the heir to the Bush legacy in Iraq and will continue with the policy.

His campaign will work to convince the American people of the occupation's value. Until November, the media will report on all stump speeches by McCain on this approach.

Patrick Cockburn's new article on Iraq challenges with very specific first hand information the notion that the surge is working.

Is the US Really Bringing Stability to Baghdad?
The "surge"--the 30,000 extra US troops implementing a new security plan in Baghdad--has helped to make Baghdad safer. In effect, they have frozen into place the Shia victory of 2006. The city is broken up into enclaves sealed off by concrete walls with only one entrance and exit.

Areas that were once mixed are not being reoccupied by whichever community was driven out... The US military and the Iraqi government are wary of even trying to reverse sectarian cleansing because this might break the present fragile truce.
Regardless, bombings and attacks on US troops continue.

For example: Iraqi PM: al-Qaida Chased From Baghdad
Bombings and rocket and mortar attacks attributed to Shiite militia "are not only continuing, they have significantly increased over the past six weeks..."

He singled out attacks on U.S. and British bases in oil-rich southern Iraq, particularly the city of Basra, where Shiite factions are engaged in a violent power struggle
In addition Sunni dominated areas of Iraq are also not at peace.

For example: Iraq Sunni insurgents turn to armor-piercing bombs
Sunni Arab insurgents in Iraq have developed their own crude versions of the Iran-originated armor-piercing munitions that have been a hallmark of Shi'ite militant roadside attacks on U.S. troops, U.S. defense officials say.

But officials are concerned that Sunni EFPs could become more deadly if they follow the same path toward sophistication as the most common roadside bombs, known as improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, used throughout Iraq against U.S. forces for much of the war..
Regarding the news that we hear on Iraq, we need to dig a little bit deeper and not allow our understanding to devolve into simplistic two word slogans like "surge success" that freeze and limit our understanding of complex issues and also hide the gross totality of the Iraq occupation.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Saudi Allegations

First off, a little background on BAE.

BAE is the 'third largest global defense company.'
BAE Systems is a global company engaged in the development, delivery and support of advanced defence and aerospace systems in the air, on land and at sea.
Move onto this article from The Guardian: BAE: secret papers reveal threats from Saudi prince
Saudi Arabia's rulers threatened to make it easier for terrorists to attack London unless corruption investigations into their arms deals were halted, according to court documents revealed yesterday.

Previously secret files describe how investigators were told they faced "another 7/7" and the loss of "British lives on British streets" if they pressed on with their inquiries and the Saudis carried out their threat to cut off intelligence.

Prince Bandar, the head of the Saudi national security council, and son of the crown prince, was alleged in court to be the man behind the threats to hold back information about suicide bombers and terrorists. He faces accusations that he himself took more than £1bn in secret payments from the arms company BAE.
Recall Prince Bandar is also affectionately known as 'Bandar Bush' by the President's family. He showed up on TV numerous times to calm fears about Saudi Arabia after the attacks on 9-11. He was the Saudi voice of reason/damage control as it were.

Recapping:
-BAE is a weapons manufacturer. BAE is based in the UK.
-An investigation alleges that Prince Bandar took kickbacks from BAE on military weapons contracts with the Saudis.
-Bandar is the head of the Saudi national security council
-The plot thickens when a new allegation arises that Bandar threatened to withhold from British authorities new information on terrorists unless the investigation into his kickbacks stopped.


More on the BAE/Bandar connection: DoJ Opens Investigation Into Bandar Payments, Others

Bush and Predatory Lending

Eliot Spitzer links Bush to the banking industry's predatory lending practices.

WaPo: Predatory Lenders' Partner in Crime - How the Bush Administration Stopped the States From Stepping In to Help Consumers
Even though predatory lending was becoming a national problem, the Bush administration looked the other way and did nothing to protect American homeowners. In fact, the government chose instead to align itself with the banks that were victimizing consumers.

Wind Power

Check out the part where he talks about the 280% return on his investment over 20 years.

Wexler Grills Rice

What I like about Wexler here is that he states the obvious clearly and without ornamentation.

Mayor Bloomberg on 3rd World America

Bloomberg Rips Government Over Failing Economy
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has unleashed another flurry of jabs on Washington, ridiculing the federal government's rebate checks as being "like giving a drink to an alcoholic" on Thursday, and said the presidential candidates are looking for easy solutions to complex economic problems.

The billionaire and potential independent presidential candidate also said the nation "has a balance sheet that's starting to look more and more like a third-world country."
The third world analogy extends beyond the balance sheet.

Banks use the same predatory lending techniques, that corporations use in 3rd world countries, on American citizens. My sense of it was that banks decided they could turn American citizens into third world citizens when the threshold for obtaining credit cards was drastically lowered in the 90s.

One very simple experience that proved the Americans as third world citizens model for me happened about 3 years ago.

I went to look over a property that a friend was considering buying. This was a two family house on the cheaper side, maybe built around 1930 or so. The exterior was in fair condition. We went to look it over at noon time on a weekday.

On the first floor all roommates were at home, some were sleeping, some were lounging in the kitchen. The overall impression was one of utter chaos, clothes strewn everywhere, dirty, noisy TV on some laugh track based show, no cultural artifacts that lift the soul AKA artwork, etc. etc. There was a palpable impoverishment of the soul evident, and clearly no one was working a regular job. It was eye opening to say the least.

You could say I'm making a value judgment, but this was different. This was poverty, deep poverty.

Some people in third world countries can live with a simplicity that does not erase the soul. There is at the least a cultural connection between people.

What I witnessed was a vacancy of the soul, literally like watching death. In retrospect perhaps it is the result of generations of drug use, and generations of little education. I can't explain it completely, but its there, and its much closer than you think. I suspect the same scene is in every city, every minor city, every town, and outlying areas, millions of times.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Which

BBC: Pleas for condemned Saudi 'witch'
Human Rights Watch has appealed to Saudi Arabia to halt the execution of a woman convicted of witchcraft.

The illiterate woman was detained by religious police in 2005 and allegedly beaten and forced to fingerprint a confession that she could not read.

Among her accusers was a man who alleged she made him impotent.
Saudi Arabia is a trusted ally in the 'War on Terror' and great friend of the Bush administration and family.

Whatever happened to 'Operation Saudi Arabia Freedom?'

Another College Shooter

CNN: 5 shot dead, including gunman, at Northern Illinois University
A gunman dressed in black walked from behind a curtain at the front of a large lecture hall Thursday at Northern Illinois University and shot 22 people, four fatally, then killed himself, authorities said.

Stench


A Thursday email from Congressman Wexler announced:

"House Democrats Hold Bush Officials in Criminal Contempt"

I found the announcement to be old news. Most of us have not only held but also completely regard the entire Bush administration as contemptuous. Congress is merely playing catch up.

The letter went on:
In a vote on the House floor, we acted to enforce the law and our Constitution, and hold former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten in Contempt of Congress.

Bolten and Miers have ignored congressional subpoenas for nine months and thumbed their noses at Congress and the American people.
Great, now what. What if anything does this mean. I know right off that no particular justice has been served. Isn't this a demerit.

The letter continued:
Now, these two renegade officials must face up to their blatant disregard of the law and constitution.
Sounds like a peacock feather was gently laid upon the protected foot of the alleged corrupt officials.

After retroactively giving Bush a green light and a free pass on warrant-free illegal wiretapping, this get tough act seems like a political stunt.

Space Mess


BBC: US plans to shoot down satellite
The US military is planning to shoot down a broken spy satellite...

President George W Bush approved the option to fire a missile from a US Navy ship to destroy the satellite...

They say the satellite contains a hazardous material which could be fatal if inhaled by humans.

...the satellite upon descent to the Earth's surface could release much of its 1,000lb plus (454 kg) of its hydrazine fuel as a toxic gas...
Besides containing a liquid fuel that is toxic to people, the satellite contains secret technology.

Watch out for the space pollution, its deadly.

Wonder if anyone thought of crashing the satellite onto a superfund site.

Valentines


Its the day of love.

In a Buddhist prayer the first line reads:

"May all sentient being have happiness and the cause of happiness."

The line refers to love, as something that you wish for everyone, consequently for everyone to wish for everyone else, and for yourself.

This is my wish for you.

On Valentine's Day consider buying Free Trade Chocolate.

Basically that would be chocolate that actually pays the farmers, generally small farmers in Africa's Ivory Coast, a reasonable wage. Free trade chocolate is a little more expensive but the benefits are great. Its pretty good stuff, it will take care of your chocolate fix very well.

And here is my Valentine's Day present for you. Its a free Computer Screen Cleaner.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Sorry - More Recession News


Reuters: Slumping stock market may crack consumer
The stock market may be the deciding factor in whether the U.S. economy tips into a consumer-driven recession this year.

With U.S. stock markets off to their worst start in history this year and a growing number of economists predicting a recession, households may begin worrying about their nest eggs and do something they haven't done much of for years -- spend less than they earn.
I've been following several stocks this year. The bottom so far was around January 22. For example Precision Castparts Corp. went from $124 per share to $106 per share. Now its up to $118 per share.

I follow this stock in particular because they manufacture parts for weapons, one of America's bread and butter businesses.

1,000 More

AFP: Morgan Stanley to shed 1,000 jobs in mortgage downsizing
Wall Street investment giant Morgan Stanley said Wednesday it would eliminate 1,000 jobs as it scales back residential mortgage operations in response to the US housing slump.

The move affects 1,000 jobs in the United States and Britain...
Not to worry, the Bush administration says there is no recession. Nothing to see here, just move along.

Off the top of my head though, isn't a 'financial Wall Street giant' more or less at the center of the whole financial panorama. Must just be a little blip in the radar.

Obama Express

BBC: Is Obama's momentum unstoppable?
Has Barack Obama won the Democratic presidential nomination?

But the short answer to the question has to be no.

Clinton is formidable.

She is after all a Clinton - she and her husband are popular, dogged, able campaigners.

So the nomination battle is far from over.

But - at least for now - Obama has truly taken his campaign much further than his opponents ever believed possible.
The article come from John Zogby. His reputation as a pollster is outstanding.

Personally, I'm thinking its Obama's to lose. Will he make the misstep and/or will Clinton recover as the underdog. America likes the underdog.

Joy Less


Clinton apparently does not congratulate Obama on his great wins in the Potomac region. Certainly this is a lead in to this short essay.

Periodically we reflect on impoverishment and how it is epidemic in our society and our behaviors.

We think about it when we don't even want to. We might think we are lacking in material wealth, and from a certain point of view that would be the point of living in a materialistic society - how else to create an atmosphere in which the acquisition of stuff is paramount. Creating artificial material longing is the point of advertising. We all know this.

Radically altered behaviors on all levels occur with impoverishment. Banks have lost large masses of dollars due to the sub prime interest debacle, they will try all types of strategies to gather in your dollars. They are impoverished and need wealth fast and dirty. Watch interest rates get jacked on credit cards and many other little quick tricks.

Jealousy is a type of impoverishment. What else can it be. You want somebody else's stuff, because you are impoverished. Greed is the same thing.

I think whenever emotions go into the negative, there is a type of impoverishment present.

Excessive anger and violence are impoverishment. I know this first hand now. Having been assaulted by a gang a few months ago, I now can smell and literally feel the incredible impoverished mentality of my assailants.

If most of our behavior is a projection of our mental state then violence is an expression of the depth of our impoverishment. Specifically it is living without a sense of value or joy concerning one's own being.

If you value your own being, I am willing to bet you value someone else's. Screw conservative compassion, this is the real thing.

This is one of my ongoing contemplations. Everybody has that kind of thing, ongoing contemplations. It helps me to understand life in America. Its a challenge.

What is even more important is trying to change this societal ingraining of our psyche. That would be moving out of impoverishment into a prosperous frame of mind. One aspect of that might be to live without a single doubt that life itself is most important and always affords us good opportunities.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Looking Saintly Good


BBC: 'Jesus' cosmetic row in Singapore
A leading retailer in Singapore has withdrawn a cosmetics range with a Jesus theme...

The range, named Lookin' Good for Jesus, was on sale at three Topshop outlets...

...marketing was disrespectful, full of sexual innuendo and trivialised Christianity.

Amy - Back

Nina Simone meets Billy Holiday

Spy Away


NYT: Senate Passes Bill to Expand U.S. Spying Powers
After more than a year of heated political wrangling, the Senate handed the White House a major victory Tuesday by voting to broaden the government’s spy powers after giving legal protection to phone companies that cooperated in President Bush’s warrantless eavesdropping program.
Why bother with a new election. Let's just make it a permanent Bush Presidency.

3rd World America


AP: GM Posts Biggest Annual US Auto Loss
General Motors Corp. reported a $38.7 billion loss for 2007 on Tuesday, the largest annual loss ever for an automotive company, and said it is making a new round of buyout offers to U.S. hourly workers in hopes of replacing some of them with lower-paid help.

...it will be able to replace up to 16,000 workers doing non-assembly jobs with new employees who will be paid half the old wage of $28 per hour.
This article is literally packed with information and correctly parsing it is the work of an economic analyst.

It indicates that the recession, which the Bush administration claims does not or will not exist, is deepening.

'Consumers' are not buying. On the other hand the products that GM produces do not reflect the needs of the 'consumer' from the point of view that they are not fuel efficient. Only the Prius and the Honda hybrid get over 35 mpg's, the only two cars to achieve that level of efficiency now sold in the USA.

Inflation and specifically the price of fuel makes efficiency a top priority.

Notice that Toyota is doing fairly well on the New York Stock Exchange: Toyota

Then there is more unemployment, along with reducing the wage for future hourly employees. How will those worker's making $14 per hour instead of $28 fair with rising prices in fuel. On the other hand if you read about the economic condition of the State of Michigan, you will see that unemployment and recession are common. Housing prices in Flint are around $105 grand on the average, way below the countries' average.

Cuban Twist


Here's a fork in the road that was unanticipated.

Turns out McCain wooed lots of Florida's Cuban population to vote for him by using tough on Castro rhetoric. He will get Castro.

That's not so unusual but the story gets deeper. McCain alleges that Cuba was responsible for the torture techniques that he personally witnessed as a POW in North Vietnam from 1967 to 1972.

McCain states that the Cubans were directly involved in the torture.

Castro is writing that McCain's statements are not true.

BBC: Castro and McCain in Vietnam spat
Cuban leader Fidel Castro says claims by US presidential hopeful John McCain that Cubans helped the North Vietnamese torture US POWs in the 1960s are lies.

Senator McCain retorted by saying to respond to one of world's "most brutal dictators" would be beneath him.
Its an interesting allegation from McCain at this particular time.

Six men are facing the death penalty in a military court of justice for plotting the 9-11 attacks.

It is also alleged that all 6 were tortured in order to reveal self incriminating evidence.

Evidence obtained through torture is considered unreliable along with the illegality of torture itself.

The alleged torturer in this case is the US government, that same entity to which McCain aspires to head.