Sep 24 2011
The issue of today is US drones.
The situation is, that via attack (and ‘surveillance’ too ultimately) drones, the US thinks it can wage undeclared wars in half a dozen countries with impunity. Today, the US employs cowards, who sit in Nevada, VA, or New Jersey, and kill people for money–then go off to little league.
CREECH AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. – From his apartment in Las Vegas, Sam Nelson drove to work through the desert along wind-whipped Highway 95 toward Indian Springs. Along the way, he tuned in to XM radio and tried to put aside the distractions of daily life – bills, rent, laundry – and get ready for work.
Nelson, an Air Force captain, was heading for his day shift on a new kind of job, one that could require him to kill another human being 7,500 miles away.
Seated in a padded chair inside a low, tan building, he controlled a heavily armed drone aircraft soaring over Afghanistan. When his shift ended, he drove 40 minutes back through the desert to the hustle and neon of Las Vegas.
Drone pilots and crews are the vanguards of a revolution in warfare, one the U.S. military and intelligence agencies have bet on heavily. The first Predator carrying weapons was rushed to Afghanistan just four days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Today, the Air Force is spending nearly $3 billion a year buying and operating drones, and is training pilots to fly more unmanned than manned aircraft. Demand is so strong even non-pilots such as civil engineers and military police are being trained.
More than 7,000 drones of all types are in use over Iraq and Afghanistan. The planes have played an integral part in the offensive now being carried out in Marjah, Afghanistan, by Marines, British and Afghan troops.
The Pentagon has adapted consumer-driven technology such as satellite television and digital video to give pilots, combat troops and commanders at headquarters a real-time look at the enemy on computer screens. For the first time in warfare, troops on the ground can see the enemy miles away on live video feeds.
Drone strikes in Pakistan are part of a separate CIA program that has killed more than two dozen senior al-Qaida and Taliban figures, including two leaders of the Pakistani Taliban in the last six months.
But the attacks also kill civilians, inflaming the sentiment the United States is fighting an undeclared, illegal war from the skies over that country. Some critics say the problems are so serious the entire program is counterproductive and should be shut down.
Sep 19 2011
Iceland survived by taking over the domestic units of its banks and leaving the foreign creditors to bear losses. An 80 percent slump in the krona against the euro offshore in 2008 sent the trade deficit into surplus within months, while government spending cuts helped rein in the budget. Iceland will post a shortfall of 1.4 percent of gross domestic product next year after 2011’s 2.7 percent deficit, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said on May 25.
Instead of bailing out its banks using taxpayer funds like the United States did, Iceland let its bank default.
Some economists, such as Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman, now think that letting the banks default was the right thing to do for Iceland’s economy, and some see it as a model for other debt-stricken European nations.
Here’s the 5 year view of it’s currency vs the USD:
Pretty good, huh? It’s more or less doubled.
Of course, that’s the key difference, the 500,000 Icelanders have their own currency, the 11, 283,000 million Greeks no longer do. (nor do the 60 million Italians, 46 million in Spain, etc etc) So, with Germany and France controlling the currency, they can’t follow that route.
And, there’s no painless way for these countries to go back to their own currencies–really there may be no way at all to go back, painful or otherwise; they’re probably stuck in the zone, if they were ever to go back to their own currencies, it would only be after the Germans have carried off everything that wasn’t tied down, and most stuff that was too. How would the Parthenon look on the Rhine?
When all is said and done, what we’re watching play out is a bloodless war- perhaps planned a decade or decades ago.
Where the economic powers of France and Germany, etc. (and likely also the UK and maybe US to some extent) will take the actual assets of the south, leaving those countries poor, with no assets, and in perpetual debt. I suspect that then we’ll see a two tier euro zone-where the borders are no longer so open, but ‘guest worker’ programs will return as the broke and out of work of the south, compete for subsistence wage jobs in the northern zone, or maybe no wages at home. More or less, then, a return to the 1980s.
Sep 11 2011
You know, for the first time ever, while I’ve usually supported third parties, or not voted, I don’t care one bit which party wins the white house, Senate, house in an election. Always before, well at least in the back of my mind somewhere, I’ve at least thought things might be a little better if the Democrats won. This time I don’t. It’s a one party system.
Now, the other day, I posted this:
Democrats will lose, b/c they just proved (again) (4.00 / 1)
that there is no difference between either party.
1,2, maybe even 3 election cycles away, given how bad the latest debacle is-republicans will lose, b/c of the same fact.
And Banger responded with:
Let’s not exaggerate–there are differences between (4.00 / 1)
the two parties but not on the major issues. I think the majority of “progressives” are quite thrilled with the smaller issues.
Point taken. Yes there are differences- but ‘not on major issues’. Actually, I’d go a step farther in my semi-retraction- there may be difference even on major issues.
But the Democrats (especially in the White House and Senate) today may even be worse than the other republicans. On both major and minor issues. It’s certainly arguable either way, and it’s really un-knowable. But I think it’s clear that certain things could not have happened under Geo W, that have happened under Obama (W). Such as SS and medicare, which are toast. That’s been written.
On the flip side, some will say-a Republican administration is what we need- it’ll get so bad that the American people will finally wake up. I don’t buy that either. If the American people really do get mad enough to move away from football or ‘legion of honor’ for ten minutes; they’ll just vote some democrats back in some years or decades down the road. Which will change nothing. Just like it always has done.
The failure of the democrats is by design. It’s not wimpism. It’s not because those wonderful dudes want to ‘the right thing’ but fear to.
They’re the Washington Generals. Their purpose is to show that leftist populism doesn’t work– that’s why they’re there. Obama gave lip service to this, but that was all.
That’s why the mantra has been to call Obama a socialist.
Obama = Fail
Obama = Socialist
Socialism = Fail
That’s the plan.
See, there really is no alternative, other than some form of real socialism. There is nothing else on the left. It’s either that, or nothing. That’s what the left is about-socialism. In some flavour.
So, if you discredit that in the eyes of a public that knows very little about anything, then you’ve already won. That’s why we have the
Washington Generals Democrats- to pretend to be ‘socialists’.
So, I don’t who wins. Because they’ve already won, either way.
Sep 09 2011
Kill Off Social Security.
Yeah, that ought to work.
(From the links. ek)
Plan’s Focus on Social Security Taxes Reflects Its Modest Ambitions
By BINYAMIN APPELBAUM, The New York Times
Published: September 8, 2011
WASHINGTON – The centerpiece of President Obama’s job-creation plan, a proposal to further reduce Social Security taxes, is emblematic of a package of modest measures that some economists describe as helpful but not sufficient to lift the economy from its malaise.
The cuts, which would deprive the government of about $240 billion in revenues next year, are the largest items in the president’s $447 billion job-creation plan, which includes payments to unemployed workers, incentives for companies that hire workers and increased federal spending on infrastructure. All of the measures will require the support of Congressional Republicans.
But some advocates, noting that temporary tax cuts have a history of becoming permanent, worry that reducing direct Social Security revenues could undermine political support for the program by making it seem more like a form of welfare.
Obama Pushes Medicare Cuts In Jobs Speech
Zach Carter, Huffington Post
9/8/11 10:53 PM ET
WASHINGTON — In his jobs speech before Congress Thursday night, President Barack Obama appeared to call on congressional Democrats to cut Medicare, a politically toxic proposal that undercuts a previous Democratic campaign strategy.
As Ezra Klein reported for the Washington Post on Wednesday, Obama is planning a separate deficit reduction package that liberal groups expect to include raising the eligibility age. Making this change for both Medicare and Social Security hits poorer participants in the programs hardest, since they are more likely to die at a younger age.
Aug 13 2011
As Britain begins to weigh the costs of the rioting of recent days and ponder measures to prevent a recurrence, the government of Prime Minister David Cameron put forward on Friday a new way of punishing the looters and vandals who rampaged through many of the country’s cities and towns: kick them and their families out of their government-subsidized homes.
1/6 of Britons live in such housing.
This is a cool idea.
Let’s punish the families of every one who breaks a law/ voted against us/ or riots in the streets.
That ought to scare a lot of people into submission, right?
But sorry, Davy, lots of petty (and not so petty) tyrants have had the idea of punishing families before/ so you get no kudos at all on the originality thing.
Asked whether that would render them homeless, he replied, “They should have thought of that before they started burgling.”
But Davy-boy, maybe you shouldn’t have offshored their jobs, and introduced austerity.
By the way, the Brit courts are convicting ‘rioters’ 24 hours a day. Now that’s efficient ‘justice’.
Full disclaimer: my grandfather was a devout Tottenham Hotspurs fan from Enfield. Perhaps I should be afraid in some roundabout way? Eviction or incarceration because of familial football fandom, from a downtrodden place?
Aug 04 2011
A few months back this site was awash in pro-libertarian sentiment, but since the Paul boys have been a big part of the successful “Attack on America’s Poor and Middle Act, Pt 1,” we’ve heard crickets about them.
Ron Paul (who voted for the original and totally crazy house bill) has criticized this act, because it didn’t hurt the poor enough:
According to the non-partisan CATO Institute, this bill merely commits Congress to spending less than it otherwise would
(yes, sure Ronny, CATO is non-partison)
Well, in fairness, he did criticize the “Super Congress”.
But, um… why?
The rich might get taxed a little bit:
This guarantees that Members will face tremendous pressure to vote for whatever comes out of this commission- even if it includes tax increases.
Sen. Paul and Rep. Paul were both signatories to the Cut, Cap and Balance Pledge on the debt ceiling. The debt ceiling pledge required its signatories to pressure lawmakers to cut federal spending, cap federal spending and pass a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution as preconditions to a “yes” vote on the debt ceiling.
So, the ‘libertarians’ want to amend the constitution? Nice.
Meanwhile, Rand has been babbling about
runaway entitlement spending
When exactly did the ever falling bit of money the richest country in the world spends on the same people whose money it actually is in the first place become “runaway” ?
Who exactly pays for Social Security anyway? You congress perps?
The rich people you want to ‘liberate’?
maximum wage base for social security tax is $106,800
Meaning that for every millionaire or billionaire, the max they pay is based on $106,800.
Workers pay either 6.2%, or 12.4% if self employed. For employers, this 6.2% is basically tax deductible, so in many cases, they don’t pay it either.
Jul 12 2011
1. Because I like cheese.
I suspect Democrats eat more cheese than republicans do. Republicans probably prefer chicken fried steak (whatever that is) , and they came up with the phrase ‘cheese eating surrender monkey’ –besmirching cheese by association with the socialist French.
2. Because it feels better somehow, when Democrats kill off social security, and medicare, and through us all in jail for not paying our mandated insurance premiums, than when Republicans do it.
3. Because I like Ronald Reagan a whole bunch, and Obama likes him too, so it’s all good. I especially liked the bit where Reagans’ goons raped and killed nuns in Central America–I’m sure glad Obama is funding lots of School Of The America’s goons to do the same thing all over. (why limit the fun to Central America?)
4. Trickle down economics: Love It ! (See #3 above)
5. Endless wars? I’ve come to love these now. (Not so much in 2008)
6. Nuclear Power: Safe, clean, energy. (what I can’t see, can’t kill me, or anyone else)
7. Drone Attacks against anyone muslim!! In any country. Anywhere. Take that you f’ing f*ckers !!
And THAT !! And THAT !!!!!
8. JOBS! Lots of ’em. If you’re a banker, stock trader, a military contractor, a drone pilot, or an undertaker in another country (now that’s some REAL foreign aid–get rid of those damn foreigners before they can even think about coming here and taking MY damn job at Burger King! Yeah!)
9. The TSA. Luv gettin’ groped. Luv getting nuked too. (see #6 above)
10. Offshore oil drilling. Good stuff, that. And putting BP in total charge of the GOM (that’s military speak for ‘Gulf of Oil’) , and of the EPA, Coast Guard, and a whole bunch of other agencies I can’t remember the names of, was DAMN brilliant.
Jun 29 2011
Today Greece passed the ‘Austerity’ measure forced on it by the EU – tax hikes, benefit reductions, layoffs, and a sell off of 72 Billion dollars worth of public assets.
Before the vote, one protester said on Wednesday that Greeks’ lives “are going to change forever” if the measures were approved. “If you belong to the middle class, that doesn’t exist anymore. There’s only rich and poor.”
Another protester, Anastasia Arvanitiki, 57, a pharmacist, said, “What they’re voting on is exactly the opposite of what they were elected to do.”
“They’ll be the worst criminals in history” if the vote goes through, she said. “We want to see them hanged.”
Oh, those radical pharmacists. Rabble rousers, that lot.
Outside Parliament, protesters had massed for a second day in Syntagma Square, shouting, “Traitors, traitors!” and the police repeatedly fired tear gas to maintain control after the vote. The demonstrators, the majority of whom were peaceful, came prepared with surgical masks to protect against the gas.
People have to wake up. The corporations are coming for every damn thing you have.
California will close up to 70 of its 278 parks to help narrow its budget gap, officials said on Friday
But, back to Greece.
Greece funnels billions of euros (dollars) into its military, spending more of its gross domestic product – 2.8 percent in 2008 – on it than any other European Union country, and second only in NATO to the United States.
“For the past three months, there were several billions in arms contracts that we forced Greece to confirm: French frigates … helicopters, airplanes, German submarines. It’s hypocrisy,” Cohn-Bendit said at a news conference in Paris earlier this month.
“We want to make money … on the backs of the Greeks,” he said.
“I honestly feel national shame each time I am forced to buy weapons we do not need – based on an objective and correct estimate of the dangers the world as it is holds for Greece,” Deputy Prime Minister Theodore Pangalos said earlier this month…
From here: http://turkeymacedonia.wordpre…
May 27 2011
During the debate, Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat and a member of the Intelligence Committee, said that the executive branch had come up with a secret legal theory about what it could collect under a provision of the Patriot Act that did not seem to dovetail with a plain reading of the text. “I want to deliver a warning this afternoon: When the American people find out how their government has secretly interpreted the Patriot Act, they will be stunned and they will be angry,” Mr. Wyden said. He invoked the public’s reaction to the illegal domestic spying that came to light in the mid-1970s, the Iran-contra affair, and the Bush administration’s program of surveillance without warrants.
Another member of the Intelligence Committee, Senator Mark Udall, Democrat of Colorado, backed Mr. Wyden’s account, saying, “Americans would be alarmed if they knew how this law is being carried out.”
The Obama administration declined to explain what the senators were talking about. Dean Boyd, a Justice Department spokesman, said that Congressional oversight committees and a special panel of national security judges – known as the FISA Court – were aware of how the executive branch was interpreting and using surveillance laws.
“These authorities are also subject to extensive oversight from the FISA Court, from Congress, from the executive branch,” Mr. Boyd said.
Mr. Wyden has long denounced the idea of “secret law” – classified memorandums and rulings about the meaning of surveillance law developed by executive branch officials and the FISA Court. He and Mr. Udall had proposed requiring the Justice Department to make public its official interpretation of what the Patriot Act means. The chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, agreed to hold a hearing on their concerns next month.
Of course, this information comes from
Oh wait, it doesn’t.
May 16 2011
The rape allegations against Strauss-Kahn, seemed pretty cut and dried at first. Personally, I was even enjoying (to an extent) a prominent person in the IMF being brought down so low.
I mean it could be a still right out of Law And Order, right?
But then I found out about how this will likely turn France’s next election to the far right, & I got to thinking about the allegations attempting to bring down Assange, which are totally nonsense & a setup, and even the (true) allegations against the former governor of NY having sex (not rape) with a prostitute.
And then I read this:
Well before Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s arrest there had been reports that Mr. Sarkozy was gathering information to discredit Mr. Strauss-Kahn should he run for president. In a famous incident, reported by the news magazine Le Point, Mr. Strauss-Kahn confronted Mr. Sarkozy in the men’s room at the Group of 20 summit meeting in Pittsburgh in September 2009, saying: “I’ve had more than enough of this continued gossip about my private life and about supposed dossiers and photos that could come out against me. I know that this is coming from the Élysée. Tell your guys to stop or I’ll go to the courts.”
Before this, the Times had all sorts of innuendo in there about Strauss-Kahn’s dealing’s with women, none verifiable, and much more to the point — true or not, none that amounted to rape.
Now, I have no idea what happened in that hotel room, but it certainly is bizarre– I mean a guy that could be the next president of France, and who already knows that Sarkozy / right wing is after him using sexual innuendo, rapes an African immigrant maid in New York? And then runs to the airport– leaving his phone behind.
Who knows for sure.
But, I think we should be very wary of the right wing finding / setting up ways of using our innate wish to champion women, blacks-any underdog really, against , well whoever they want to.
May 09 2011
I received the following email a few days ago from a Russian nuclear physicist friend who is an expert on the kinds of gases being released at Fukushima. Here is what he wrote:
“About Japan: the problem is that the reactor uses “dirty” fuel. It is a combination of plutonium and uranium (MOX).
I suspect that the old fuel rods have bean spread out due to the explosion and the surrounding area is contaminated with plutonium which means you can never return to this place again.
It is like a new Tchernobyl. Personally, I am not surprised that the authority has not informed people about this”.
I have been following the Fukushima story very closely since the earthquake and devastating tsunami. I have asked scientists I know, nuclear physicists and others about where they find real information. I have also watched as the news has virtually disappeared. There is something extremely disturbing going on and having lived through the media blackout in France back in April and early May 1986, and speaking to doctors who are deeply concerned by the dramatic increase in cancers appearing at very young ages, it is obvious that information is being held back. We are still told not to eat mushrooms and truffles from parts of Europe, not wild boar and reindeer from Germany and Finland 25 years later.
Vivian NorrisPhd, Based in Paris-Globalization Studies, via huffpo
Read the rest at:
Hopefully, this gets posted a bunch of places…