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Member since: Fri Sep 17, 2004, 03:59 PM
Number of posts: 47,701

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Fukushima: “Usual suspects in Japan are getting richer… at the expense of public safety”

After the tsunami, and the resulting shutdown (meltdown) of the plant, the widely respected technology writer Robert X. Cringely made TEPCO, the Tokyo power company that still controls the site, a water-treatment technology that was known to work. They rejected it for a technology costing 20 times more (that’s two orders of magnitude) that failed in less than one day.


Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and the Japanese government have done a spectacularly bad job of managing this accident. In large part they haven’t managed it. Rather they’ve extended the Japanese patronage system to benefit from the disaster at the expense of public health, public safety, and the Japanese economy. As a result, the usual suspects in Japan are getting richer than ever while the real problems not only haven’t been fixed, for the most part they haven’t even been addressed. …

Let me tell you how I know this. For the past couple of years I have been advising an environmental remediation startup that has excellent water treatment technology. Yes, I own three percent of the company.

Understand that I did business in Japan on almost a daily basis for more than 20 years. I have deep contacts there and know how business is done. Why is it that a guy like me can’t even get a reply?

Because Japanese industry is too busy making money at the country’s expense.


High praise: Republican Senator calls Harry Reid an 'absolute asshole'

Report: Tom Coburn called Harry Reid an 'absolute a--hole'

Sen. Tom Coburn was clear Monday about certain Democrats he doesn’t get along with, calling Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid an “absoulte a—hole,” according to a report.

“I have great relationships with Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). I don’t say that in Oklahoma,” Coburn (R-Okla.) said at a gala at the New York Young Republican Club, the New York Daily News reported.

“There’s no comity with Harry Reid (D-Nev.). I think he’s an absolute a—hole,” he said.

The name-calling came after Coburn was asked about working across party lines. The Oklahoma senator reportedly listed a few other Democrats in addition to Schumer that he works well with.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/10/tom-coburn-harry-reid-99009.html#ixzz2j7XzadHj

Yeah! "All Hail Unregulated Poultry"

GOP, after closing down War Memorials in Shutdown now kick 170,000 vets off of food stamps

Jeff Gauvin
Republican House bill kicks 170,000 American veterans off of food stamps. Sickening. Happy Thankgiving. pic.twitter.com/YcTjdNdRRA


Senator Bernie Sanders: "We cannot balance the budget on backs of people who have virtually nothing"

For a Budget That Is Both Morally and Economically Sound
by Senator Bernie Sanders


Where do we go from here? How do we now draft a federal budget which creates jobs, makes our country more productive, protects working families and lowers the deficit?

For a start, we have to understand that, from both a moral and economic perspective, we cannot impose more austerity on the people of our country who are already suffering. The time is now for the wealthy and multi-national corporations who are doing phenomenally well to help us rebuild America and lower our deficit.

At a time when the richest 1 percent own 38 percent of the financial wealth of America, while the bottom 60 percent own a mere 2.3 percent -- we cannot balance the budget on the backs of people who have virtually nothing. When 95 percent of all new income during 2009 through 2012 went to the top 1 percent, while tens of millions of working Americans saw a decline in their income, we cannot cut programs that these workers depend upon.

Instead of talking about cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, we must end the absurdity of one out of four corporations in America not paying a nickel in federal income taxes. At a time when multi-national corporations and the wealthy are avoiding more than $100 billion a year in taxes by stashing money in tax havens like the Cayman Islands and Bermuda, we need to make them pay taxes just like middle-class Americans. The truth of the matter is that according to the most recent information available profitable corporations are only paying 13 percent of their income in federal taxes which is near a 40-year low.

the rest:

"No Women, No Drive" (Saudi Arabian Satire)

Al Arabiya:

The recent campaign by women in Saudi Arabia to be allowed to drive and society’s divided reaction has led a group of Saudi satirists to resort to a famous Bob Marley song to explain the situation. The resulting YouTube video has gone viral with over one million views in less than 24 hours and has been featured on international media outlets such as EuroNews and CNN.

With a unique twist on the popular reggae song “No Woman No Cry,” comedian and social activist Hisham Fageeh, along with Saudi YouTube sensation Fahad Albutairi and Iranian, Riyadh born-bred musician Alaa Wardi , sang a cheeky a capella version titled “No Woman No Drive.”

In the four-minute video Fageeh is seen clapping, whistling and singing his way through the altered lyrics which say: “Ova-ovaries all safe and well”- instead of “Oba, ob-serving the hypocrites”-making fun of a recent statement by a Saudi cleric who claimed that driving affects woman ovaries.

The video was released on Saturday in line with the “October 26 driving” campaign, which urged Saudis to put its logo on their cars and called upon women with international driving licenses to get behind the wheel in the kingdom on that day.


Pennies From Heaven-Giving no-strings-attached $ to world's poorest produces remarkably good results

Giving no-strings-attached money to the world's poorest produces remarkably good results
Cory Doctorow at 11:56 am Mon, Oct 28, 2013

The Economist details outcomes from Give Directly, an organization that analyzes satellite photos to identify the poorest places in the world and then hands over no-strings-attached cash grants to the people who live there. It's a contrast to other programs, where donations are funneled into school construction or funding planned-out businesses. Give Directly has produced remarkably good results: "In randomly selected poor households in 63 villages that have received the windfalls, they say, the number of children going without food for a day has fallen by over a third and livestock holdings have risen by half. A year after the scheme began, incomes have gone up by a quarter and recipients seem less stressed, according to tests of their cortisol levels."

For decades, it was thought that the poor needed almost everything done for them and that experts knew best what this was. Few people would trust anyone to spend $1,000 responsibly. Instead, governments, charities and development banks built schools and hospitals, roads and ports, irrigation pipes and electric cables. And they set up big bureaucracies to run it all.

Still, this is not the only cash giveaway. A trial in Vietnam in 2006 gave one-off handouts to 550 households; two years later, local poverty rates had fallen by 20 percentage points. The scheme was dubbed “cash for coffins” after elderly recipients spent the money on their funeral arrangements to save their children the expense.

A different scheme has been running in northern Uganda for four years. The government gives lump sums of around $10,000 to groups of 20 or so young people who club together to apply. Chris Blattman of Columbia University, New York, who has studied the programme, calls it “wildly successful”. Recipients spent a third of the money learning a trade (such as metalworking or tailoring) and much of the rest on tools and stock. They set up enterprises and work longer hours in their new trades. Average earnings rose by almost 50% in four years.

This scheme has a condition: applicants must submit a business plan. But it highlights the virtues of no-strings grants (UCTs). They work when lack of money is the main problem. The people who do best are those with the least to start with (in Uganda, that especially means poor women). In such conditions, the schemes provide better returns than job-training programmes that mainstream aid agencies favour. Remarkably, they even do better than secondary education, which pushes up wages in poor countries by 10-15% for each extra year of schooling. This may be because recipients know what they need better than donors do—a core advantage of no-strings schemes. They also outscore conditional transfers, because some families eligible for these fail to meet the conditions through no fault of their own (if they live too far from a school, for instance).


Are you listening GOP?

What Happens When You Just Give Money To Poor People?

The idea behind this is simple. Poor people know what they need, and if you give them money they can buy it.


The results from the study are encouraging, says Johannes Haushofer, an economist at MIT's Poverty Action Lab who was one of the study's co-authors.

"We don't see people spending money on alcohol and tobacco," he says. "Instead we see them investing in their kids' education, we see them investing in health care. They buy more and better food."

People used the money to buy cows and start businesses. Their kids went hungry less often.



"The wrong problem is the deficit. The right problem is sluggish growth and persistent unemployment.

E.J. Dionne:

Here's the mistake made by President Obama and the Democrats that nobody is talking about:

They have been too fearful of confronting our country's three-year obsession with the wrong problem.

And here is the tea party's greatest victory: It has made the wrong problem the center of policymaking.

The wrong problem is the deficit. The right problem is sluggish growth and persistent unemployment.

the rest:


Cheney's Dream Come True?

Cheney Defends Spying on Allies:
‘Never Know What You’re Going to Need When You Need It’

He added: “We do collect a lot of intelligence, without speaking about any particular target or group of targets. That intelligence capability is enormously important to the United States, to our conduct of foreign policy, to the defense matters, to economic matters. And I’m a strong supporter of it.”

"Rule & Ruin"



Like a guerrilla army, the Tea Party is learning how to influence public opinion even when it loses a conventional battle. The budget caps that Obama conceded in 2011 have already enshrined in law a portion of the movement’s draconian fiscal agenda. And although Cruz and his allies in the House won no additional cuts this time, they managed to spread magical thinking among their followers about a possible future debt default. (The next debt-ceiling deadline arrives early next year.) Cruz and the others systematically promoted the idea—the fantasy—that, if the Treasury Department were prohibited from issuing any new debt to finance interest payments and government operations, the country would do just fine. The global economy, this story goes, far from collapsing into crisis, would prove resilient, and, while some nonessential federal departments might wither for lack of funds, that would only demonstrate how Americans could get by with a much smaller government.

This campaign has been dismissed by some Wall Street analysts as just a form of coercive bargaining. Washington is a grand opera of phony crises. Congress has raised the debt ceiling more than seventy times since 1960 without forcing an actual default. It’s tempting to believe that even a diva like Cruz, who, after all, holds a law degree from Harvard and evidently aspires to higher office, would never countenance a final default. Yet history is rife with political radicals who have shocked the world by doing just what they always said they would: Confederate secessionists, for example, who seem to inspire so many Tea Partiers today.

The Tea Party’s anti-intellectualism reflects a longer, deeper decline in the Republican Party’s ability to tolerate a diversity of ideas and public-policy strategies, and to adapt to American multiculturalism. Mitt Romney’s poor showing among Latino voters in 2012 helped insure Barack Obama’s reëlection. Republican leaders, chastened and without any other obvious way to increase their vote base before 2016, pledged earlier this year to revive a comprehensive immigration-reform bill. Yet party leaders, in part because they have been tied down since July by the debt confrontation, haven’t found a way to move legislation past the nativist caucus in the House.

As recently as 2007, when the Bush Administration almost passed a similar bill, it still seemed possible that a modernizing Republican Party might build a formidable political coalition of Latinos, evangelicals, disaffected Catholic Democrats, high-tech entrepreneurs, libertarians, social and educational reformers, and eclectic independents. Instead, as Geoffrey Kabaservice puts it in his history of the Republican decline, “Rule and Ruin,” movement conservatives have “succeeded in silencing, co-opting, repelling, or expelling nearly every competing strain of Republicanism from the party.” Political purges have no logical end point; each newly drawn inner circle of orthodoxy leaves a former respected acolyte suddenly on the outside. That a Tea Party-influenced purification drive now threatens such a loyal opportunist and boardroom favorite as Mitch McConnell seems a marker of the times.


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