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Since Medicare is covered under the FICA taxes, the funds would still be available and the R's would not be able to pull this stunt.
The increasingly likely shutdown of the US government could have far-reaching effects throughout the US. If Congress fails to reach an agreement to avert a shutdown by midnight ET Monday, some services – mail delivery, Social Security and Medicare benefits – would not be affected.
Yet another reason for Medicare for All, now, seems to me.
Posted by grahamhgreen | Mon Sep 30, 2013, 01:01 PM (29 replies)
Today saw good news for solar power, as Bloomberg's New Energy Finance group predicted 2013 would be the first year in which the world adds more solar power capacity than wind. The service predicted that 36.7 gigawatts of new solar power capacity would be added in 2013, up 20% from 2012, compared to 35.5 gigawatts of new wind power. The service credited the speed-up to new incentives in Japan and China, combined with a dramatic reduction in the cost of solar panels.
Wind installations still contribute more than twice as much power as solar, representing 5% of global power supply compared to solar's 2%, but new installations are slowing as Chinese and American incentives lapse and windmills face greater competition from newly cheap solar panels. Bloomberg predicts the coming years will see the technologies even out, respectively contributing 17% and 16% of global power supply by 2030.
Posted by grahamhgreen | Fri Sep 27, 2013, 03:00 PM (2 replies)
12. Let go of all external validations. You know yourself better than anyone else. You also know, both instinctively and intellectually, what’s best for you. That doesn’t mean there’s any shortage of people in the world who would love nothing more than to tell you what to do. Don’t listen to them.
What the superior man seeks is in himself; what the small man seeks is in others. – Confucius
Posted by grahamhgreen | Wed Sep 25, 2013, 02:08 AM (3 replies)
A reminder from David__77
Posted by grahamhgreen | Sun Sep 22, 2013, 04:39 PM (5 replies)
A new study has found that just 50 corporations are responsible for 73% of the 3.6 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emitted by the world’s 500 largest companies. Of the carbon-polluting corporations the most egregious offenders are, perhaps unsurprisingly, to be found within the energy sector, and as a whole, these companies are doing little to change their ways; the CDP Global 500 Climate Change Report 2013 found that the 50 giants have become even greater polluters in the last four years.
The CDP Global 500 Climate Change Report is published by PricewaterhouseCoopers, and calculates and analyzes the emissions and disclosures of the Global 500 companies by industry (403 of the companies took part in this year’s study). A number of the findings are largely unsurprising: Wal Mart is the greatest offender within the ‘Consumer Staples’ category and ExxonMobil in the Energy sector. Interestingly, Bank of America has the greatest emissions per unit of revenue in the Financial sector, Bayer in Healthcare, Samsung in Information Technology and Verizon in Telecommunications.
While GHG emissions from the Global 500 fell overall in recent years—from 4.2 to 3.6 billion metric tons—the top 50 corporations have managed to increase their emissions by 1.65% since 2009. This represents, the report states “a disparity between the companies’ strategies, targets and the emissions reductions that are required to limit global warming to 2 degrees C.”
Posted by grahamhgreen | Tue Sep 17, 2013, 12:51 PM (5 replies)
Let Iraq serve as an example. Hate begets hate, only love conqors hate.
We heard the same story about Iraq, how we would make things better, how we would be greeted with flowers. We planted violence, and our harvest is more blood.
Now, what are the humanitarian war-hawks suggesting we do about the dead Iraqis? Why the complete lack of concern for them? In my view, it's because the war with Syria is not about humanitarian concerns, it's about empire.
BAGHDAD -- More than 1,000 people were killed in Iraq in July, the highest monthly death toll in five years, the U.N. said Thursday, a grim figure that shows rapidly deteriorating security as sectarian tensions soar nearly two years after U.S. troops withdrew from the country.
Violence has been on the rise all year, but the number of attacks against civilians and security forces has spiked during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which began early last month. The increased bloodshed has intensified fears that Iraq is on a path back to the widespread chaos that nearly tore the country apart in the aftermath of the U.S.-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Months of rallies by Iraq's minority Sunnis against the Shiite-led government over what they contend is second-class treatment and the unfair use of tough anti-terrorism measures against their sect set the stage for the violence.
The killings significantly picked up after Iraqi security forces launched a heavy-handed crackdown on a Sunni protest camp in the northern town of Hawija on April 23. A ferocious backlash followed the raid, with deadly bomb attacks and sporadic gunbattles between insurgents and soldiers – this time members of the Iraqi security forces rather than U.S. troops.
The U.N. Mission in Iraq said 1,057 Iraqis were killed and 2,326 wounded in July, the highest toll since June 2008 when 975 people were killed.
Posted by grahamhgreen | Thu Sep 12, 2013, 01:18 PM (19 replies)
The piece urges against a strike in Syria, saying that an attack would only escalate the situation, and that the world is against it.
He also says he believes the gas attack was not done by Assad, but by rebels hoping to provoke an intervention.
No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria. But there is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists. Reports that militants are preparing another attack — this time against Israel — cannot be ignored.
The final paragraph of the op-ed is actually the most intense, as it directly responds to Obama's Tuesday night speech, and really one of America's core beliefs:
My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American Exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/vladimir-putin-nyt-op-ed-2013-9#ixzz2eddoXDcL
Posted by grahamhgreen | Wed Sep 11, 2013, 09:41 PM (83 replies)
If Obama actually cared about human rights, he would prosecute the known war criminals we have right
I'm not buying it. How can a person ignore, and by ignoring therefore condone, torture in his own country, and then be taken seriously when he complains about human rights abuses elsewhere?
There has been some talk about the fact that HRW has come out with a report where it's preliminary findings are that the Assad regime is responsible for the attacks. If true, these attacks are an atrocity, but the USA needs to operate within the legal framework of international law if it wants to prosecute Assad. An unprovoked attack without UN approval means the US is committing a war crime itself. Advocating for such an attack is advocating for a war crime.
But I digress. If Obama's motivations were to stop war crimes, then he could easily, without international conflict, prosecute war criminals here at home, as suggested by HRW:
The New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a report released on Tuesday that the US authorities were legally obliged to investigate the top echelons of the Bush administration over crimes such as torture, abduction and other mistreatment of prisoners. It says that the former administration's legal team was part of the conspiracy in preparing opinions authorising abuses that they knew to have no standing in US or international law.
Besides Bush, HRW names his vice-president, Dick Cheney, the former defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, and the ex-CIA director, George Tenet, as likely to be guilty of authorising torture and other crimes.
The group says that the investigation and prosecutions are required "if the US hopes to wipe away the stain of Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo and reaffirm the primacy of the rule of law".
HRW acknowledges the broad allegations are not new but says they should be given fresh attention because of growing documentary evidence with the release of previously classified papers, admissions made in books by Bush and others, and from a leaked International Committee of the Red Cross report that details illegal practices by the former administration.
The author of the HRW report, Reed Brody, says the issue also deserves renewed scrutiny because the Obama administration has all but abandoned its obligations. "It's become abundantly clear that there is no longer any movement on the part of the Obama administration to live up to its responsibilities to investigate these cases when the evidence just keeps piling up. Just this year we have the different admissions by President Bush that he authorised waterboarding," he said.
HRW says Bush and his senior officials are open to prosecution under the 1996 War Crimes Act as well as for criminal conspiracy under federal law.
"There is enough strong evidence from the information made public over the past five years to not only suggest these officials authorised and oversaw widespread and serious violations of US and international law, but that they failed to act to stop mistreatment, or punish those responsible after they became aware of serious abuses," it said.
Among the accusations in the report are that Bush approved waterboarding, ordered the CIA secret detention programme and approved illegal abductions of individuals delivered to foreign countries for torture, known as renditions.
So, sorry Charlie, I'm not buying it. In my view, the administration is using the gas attacks as a pretext for war. Basically, a continuation of the neocon policies for transforming (or stealing oil in) the Middle East that started with Iraq.
Posted by grahamhgreen | Wed Sep 11, 2013, 01:17 PM (43 replies)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: My fellow Americans, tonight I want to talk to you about Syria, why it matters and where we go from here. Over the past two years, what began as a series of peaceful protests against the repressive regime of Bashar al-Assad has turned into a brutal civil war. Over a hundred thousand people have been killed. Millions have fled the country. In that time, America has worked with allies to provide humanitarian support, to help the moderate opposition and to shape a political settlement.
But I have resisted calls for military action because we cannot resolve someone else’s civil war through force, particularly after a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The situation profoundly changed, though, on August 21st, when Assad’s government gassed to death over a thousand people, including hundreds of children. The images from this massacre are sickening, men, women, children lying in rows, killed by poison gas, others foaming at the mouth, gasping for breath, a father clutching his dead children, imploring them to get up and walk. On that terrible night, the world saw in gruesome detail the terrible nature of chemical weapons and why the overwhelming majority of humanity has declared them off limits, a crime against humanity and a violation of the laws of war.
This was not always the case. In World War I, American GIs were among the many thousands killed by deadly gas in the trenches of Europe. In World War II, the Nazis used gas to inflict the horror of the Holocaust. Because these weapons can kill on a mass scale, with no distinction between soldier and infant, the civilized world has spent a century working to ban them. And in 1997, the United States Senate overwhelmingly approved an international agreement prohibiting the use of chemical weapons, now joined by 189 government that represent 98 percent of humanity.
On August 21st, these basic rules were violated, along with our sense of common humanity.
No one disputes that chemical weapons were used in Syria. The world saw thousands of videos, cellphone pictures and social media accounts from the attack. And humanitarian organizations told stories of hospitals packed with people who had symptoms of poison gas.
Moreover, we know the Assad regime was responsible. In the days leading up to August 21st, we know that Assad’s chemical weapons personnel prepared for an attack near an area they where they mix sarin gas. They distributed gas masks to their troops. Then they fired rockets from a regime-controlled area into 11 neighborhoods that the regime has been trying to wipe clear of opposition forces.
Shortly after those rockets landed, the gas spread, and hospitals filled with the dying and the wounded. We know senior figures in Assad’s military machine reviewed the results of the attack. And the regime increased their shelling of the same neighborhoods in the days that followed. We’ve also studied samples of blood and hair from people at the site that tested positive for sarin.
When dictators commit atrocities, they depend upon the world to look the other day until those horrifying pictures fade from memory. But these things happened. The facts cannot be denied.
The question now is what the United States of America and the international community is prepared to do about it, because what happened to those people, to those children, is not only a violation of international law, it’s also a danger to our security.
Let me explain why. If we fail to act, the Assad regime will see no reason to stop using chemical weapons.
As the ban against these weapons erodes, other tyrants will have no reason to think twice about acquiring poison gas and using them. Over time our troops would again face the prospect of chemical warfare on the battlefield, and it could be easier for terrorist organizations to obtain these weapons and to use them to attack civilians.
If fighting spills beyond Syria's borders, these weapons could threaten allies like Turkey, Jordan and Israel.
And a failure to stand against the use of chemical weapons would weaken prohibitions against other weapons of mass destruction and embolden Assad's ally, Iran, which must decide whether to ignore international law by building a nuclear weapon or to take a more peaceful path.
This is not a world we should accept. This is what's at stake. And that is why, after careful deliberation, I determined that it is in the national security interests of the United States to respond to the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons through a targeted military strike. The purpose of this strike would be to deter Assad from using chemical weapons, to degrade his regime's ability to use them and to make clear to the world that we will not tolerate their use. That's my judgment as commander in chief.
But I'm also the president of the world's oldest constitutional democracy. So even though I possessed the authority to order military strikes, I believed it was right, in the absence of a direct or imminent threat to our security, to take this debate to Congress. I believe our democracy is stronger when the president acts with the support of Congress, and I believe that America acts more effectively abroad when we stand together.
This is especially true after a decade that put more and more war-making power in the hands of the president, and more and more burdens on the shoulders of our troops, while sidelining the people's representatives from the critical decisions about when we use force.
Now, I know that after the terrible toll of Iraq and Afghanistan, the idea of any military action, no matter how limited, is not going to be popular. After all, I've spent four and a half years working to end wars, not to start them. Our troops are out of Iraq, our troops are coming home from Afghanistan, and I know Americans want all of us in Washington, especially me, to concentrate on the task of building our nation here at home, putting people back to work, educating our kids, growing our middle class. It's no wonder, then, that you're asking hard questions. So let me answer some of the most important questions that I've heard from members of Congress and that I've read in letters that you've sent to me.
First, many of you have asked: Won't this put us on a slippery slope to another war? One man wrote to me that we are still recovering from our involvement in Iraq. A veteran put it more bluntly: This nation is sick and tired of war.
My answer is simple. I will not put American boots on the ground in Syria. I will not pursue an open-ended action like Iraq or Afghanistan. I will not pursue a prolonged air campaign like Libya or Kosovo. This would be a targeted strike to achieve a clear objective: deterring the use of chemical weapons and degrading Assad's capabilities.
Even a limited strike will send a message to Assad that no other nation can deliver. I don't think we should remove another dictator with force. We learned from Iraq that doing so makes us responsible for all that comes next. But a targeted strike can make Assad or any other dictator think twice before using chemical weapons.
Other questions involve the dangers of retaliation. We don't dismiss any threats, but the Assad regime does not have the ability to seriously threaten our military. Any other -- any other retaliation they might seek is in line with threats that we face every day. Neither Assad nor his allies have any interest in escalation that would lead to his demise. And our ally Israel can defend itself with overwhelming force, as well as the unshakable support of the United States of America.
Many of you have asked a broader question: Why should we get involved at all in a place that's so complicated and where, as one person wrote to me, those who come after Assad may be enemies of human rights? It's true that some of Assad's opponents are extremists. But al-Qaida will only draw strength in a more chaotic Syria if people there see the world doing nothing to prevent innocent civilians from being gassed to death. The majority of the Syrian people and the Syrian opposition we work with just want to live in peace, with dignity and freedom. And the day after any military action, we would redouble our efforts to achieve a political solution that strengthens those who reject the forces of tyranny and extremism.
Finally, many of you have asked, why not leave this to other countries or seek solutions short of force?
And several people wrote to me, we should not be the world's policeman. I agree. And I have a deeply held preference for peaceful solutions. Over the last two years my administration has tried diplomacy and sanctions, warnings and negotiations. But chemical weapons were still used by the Assad regime.
However, over the last few days we've seen some encouraging signs in part because of the credible threat of U.S. military action as well as constructive talks that I had with President Putin. The Russian government has indicated a willingness to join with the international community in pushing Assad to give up his chemical weapons. The Assad regime has now admitted that it has these weapons and even said they'd join the chemical weapons convention, which prohibits their use.
It's too early to tell whether this offer will succeed, and any agreement must verify that the Assad regime keeps its commitments. But this initiative has the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of force, particularly because Russia is one of Assad's strongest allies.
I have therefore asked the leaders of Congress to postpone a vote to authorize the use of force while we pursue this diplomatic path. I'm sending Secretary of State John Kerry to met his Russian counterpart on Thursday, and I will continue my own discussions with President Putin. I've spoken to the leaders of two of our closet allies, France and the United Kingdom. And we will work together in consultation with Russia and China to put forward a resolution at the U.N. Security Council requiring Assad to give up his chemical weapons and to ultimately destroy them under international control.
We'll also give U.N. inspectors the opportunity to report their findings about what happened on August 21st. And we will continue to rally support from allies, from Europe to the Americas, from Asia to the Middle East who agree on the need for action.
Meanwhile, I’ve ordered our military to maintain their current posture to keep the pressure on Assad and to be in a position to respond if diplomacy fails. And tonight I give thanks, again, to our military and their families for their incredible strength and sacrifices.
My fellow Americans, for nearly seven decades, the United States has been the anchor of global security. This has meant doing more than forging international agreements; it has meant enforcing them. The burdens of leadership are often heavy, but the world’s a better place because we have borne them.
And so to my friends on the right, I ask you to reconcile your commitment to America’s military might with the failure to act when a cause is so plainly just.
To my friends on the left, I ask you to reconcile your belief in freedom and dignity for all people with those images of children writhing in pain and going still on a cold hospital floor, for sometimes resolutions and statements of condemnation are simply not enough.
Indeed, I’d ask every member of Congress and those of you watching at home tonight to view those videos of the attack, and then ask, what kind of world will we live in if the United States of America sees a dictator brazenly violate international law with poison gas and we choose to look the other way?
Franklin Roosevelt once said, “Our national determination to keep free of foreign wars and foreign entanglements cannot prevent us from feeling deep concern when ideas and principles that we have cherished are challenged.”
Our ideals and principles, as well as our national security, are at stake in Syria, along with our leadership of a world where we seek to ensure that the worst weapons will never be used.
America is not the world’s policeman. Terrible things happen across the globe, and it is beyond our means to right every wrong, but when with modest effort and risk we can stop children from being gassed to death and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act.
That’s what makes America different. That’s what makes us exceptional. With humility, but with resolve, let us never lose sight of that essential truth.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.
Posted by grahamhgreen | Tue Sep 10, 2013, 09:37 PM (3 replies)
Sept. 10 (Bloomberg) — A congressional committee’s effective blacklisting of Huawei Technologies Co.’s products from the U.S. telecommunications market over allegations they can enable Chinese spying may come back to bite Silicon Valley.
Reports that the National Security Agency persuaded some U.S. technology companies to build so-called backdoors into security products, networks and devices to allow easier surveillance are similar to how the House Intelligence Committee described the threat posed by China through Huawei.
Just as the Shenzhen, China-based Huawei lost business after the report urged U.S. companies not to use its equipment, the NSA disclosures may reduce U.S. technology sales overseas by as much as $180 billion, or 25 percent of information technology services, by 2016, according to Forrester Research Inc., a research group in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
“The National Security Agency will kill the U.S. technology industry singlehandedly,” Rob Enderle, a technology analyst in San Jose, California, said in an interview. “These companies may be just dealing with the difficulty in meeting our numbers through the end of the decade.”
Posted by grahamhgreen | Tue Sep 10, 2013, 09:17 PM (1 replies)