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Gender: Male
Current location: Potlandia
Member since: Fri Sep 28, 2007, 04:39 PM
Number of posts: 11,376

Journal Archives

Weather Weaponry: As if we needed one more reason to dismantle the CIA, NSA, et. al.

Spy agencies fund climate research in hunt for weather weapon, scientist fears
US expert Alan Robock raises concern over who would control climate-altering technologies if research is paid for by intelligence agencies
by Ian Sample * The Guardian * Feb. 15, 2015

A senior US scientist has expressed concern that the intelligence services are funding climate change research to learn if new technologies could be used as potential weapons. Alan Robock, a climate scientist at Rutgers University in New Jersey, has called on secretive government agencies to be open about their interest in radical work that explores how to alter the world’s climate.

Robock, who has contributed to reports for the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC), uses computer models to study how stratospheric aerosols could cool the planet in the way massive volcanic eruptions do. But he was worried about who would control such climate-altering technologies should they prove effective, he told the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Jose.

Last week, the National Academy of Sciences published a two-volume report on different approaches to tackling climate change. One focused on means to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, the other on ways to change clouds or the Earth’s surface to make them reflect more sunlight out to space.

The report concluded that while small-scale research projects were needed, the technologies were so far from being ready that reducing carbon emissions remained the most viable approach to curbing the worst extremes of climate change. A report by the Royal Society in 2009 made similar recommendations.

The $600,000 report was part-funded by the US intelligence services, but Robock said the CIA and other agencies had not fully explained their interest in the work. “The CIA was a major funder of the National Academies report so that makes me really worried who is going to be in control,” he said. Other funders included Nasa, the US Department of Energy, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.


Rand Paul caught lying re: his college record? How about 6 mo. suspension from Congress w/no pay?

If it's good for Brian Williams, why not for Rand Paul?

Rand Paul caught lying about his college record
Senator's office forced to admit that he never graduated from Baylor University
by LUKE BRINKER * Salon * FRIDAY, FEB 13, 2015 01:15 PM PST

Ophthalmologist-turned-politician Rand Paul may have a medical degree from Duke University, but the Kentucky senator and likely 2016 presidential candidate never completed his undergraduate education at Baylor University. So why did Paul assert twice yesterday that he holds two bachelor’s degrees from the institution?

The senator embellished his record during an appearance at the Lincoln Labs “Reboot Congress” event Thursday. In two instances highlighted by Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler, Paul falsely suggested that he had obtained undergraduate degrees. First came this exchange between Paul and TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington:

ARRINGTON: Let’s talk about economics because maybe you can actually explain this to me. I have an econ degree which means I know just enough not to understand any of what our government is …

PAUL: Mine’s in biology and English so this is going to be a great conversation.

Later on, during a discussion of the virtual currency Bitcoin, Paul said, “This is just me. I have a biology degree, okay? But with Bitcoin my concern always was whether or not something has real value. So I could imagine a kind of coin that was exchangeable. This gets back to the whole idea, does money have to be exchangeable for something to be of value?”


5 Amazing New Discoveries About the Potential of Marijuana

I had surgery for bladder cancer over a year ago, which has not returned; so
this first one was of particular interest to me. Fortunately I live in Oregon,
where we just legalized weed.

* Men Who Smoke Pot Possess a Reduced Risk of Bladder Cancer
* Long-Term Pot Exposure Isn't Damaging to Lung Health
* Alcohol, Not Pot, Alters the Brain
* Marijuana Use Doesn’t Lead to Depression
* Marijuana Possesses a Unique Margin of Safety Compared to Other legal and Illegal Drugs


Jeb’s quiet wingnutty past: Why he has to distance himself from… himself

Jeb’s quiet wingnutty past: Why he has to distance himself from… himself
All the geniuses calling Jeb Bush the "moderate" candidate in the GOP primary are missing one thing: his history

One of the more amusing aspects of he Republican establishment’s quest to anoint Jeb Bush as the “moderate” candidate who can bring all sides together is that the poor man is going to have to walk a tightrope made of dental floss over the next year or so — as he attempts to obscure his wingnutty past from the donor class, without alienating the right wingers he needs to vote for him. Managing these two competing constituencies is a difficult task for all the GOP presidential hopefuls, but Bush’s is perhaps the toughest.

There has been a lot of talk about how he will have to find a way to adequately explain his support for immigration reform and the Common Core education curriculum to the base, which loathes those two programs with a fervor they usually reserve for gay marriage and arugula. He seems to be picking his way through that and we’ll see soon enough if he still has the political chops he developed as Governor of Florida to successfully dogwhistle the base while offering a sheen of “reasonableness” that will keep the political press onboard the establishment train. Those issues will be in contrast with his almost maniacal adherence to the social conservative agenda in the Schiavo case and if he plays his cards right it’s possible he could neutralize his heresies. It will take skill and cunning he hasn’t heretofore demonstrated but you never know.

Where Bush has a more serious problem is in foreign policy and national security. Some of the reasons for that are more obvious than others. The most glaring, of course, is the fact that he’s George W. Bush’s brother. Despite what people say, W never lost the base of the party — that 28% approval rating he had at the end were the bitter-enders who loved him for his big swinging swagger. But he was unpopular with the very people the Big Money Boyz are banking on getting behind Jeb: independents and moderate Republicans. Aside from the obvious fact that Jeb doesn’t want to run against his own brother’s policies, he will have a big problem with the base if he strays too far from the right’s blood-thirsty foreign policy orthodoxy. But if he tacks too close a whole lot of normal Americans will instinctively recoil.

Luckily for Jeb, W isn’t the only Bush he can emulate. There’s his Dad, another “wartime” president whose war was substantially more popular and widely assumed to be successful even among Democrats and independents. Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal reported that in the Dialing for Donor Dollars primary Jeb is signaling that he’s going to follow in his daddy’s footsteps rather than W’s:

Jeb Bush seemed to grapple with what course he should take on foreign policy last week at the Detroit Economic Club. He responded to a question about terrorist threats by linking the rise of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria to the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. “We have to be engaged, and that doesn’t necessarily mean boots on the ground in every occurrence,” he said. Resisting a label for his outlook, he added: “I don’t know what that makes me—everyone has to have a type.”


Along with worker owned co-ops, public banks point the way

to a much economic future for all Americans.

I just posted this other OP today on worker-owned co-ops, here:

Publicly owned banks are a perfect corollary to worker-owned co-ops and they
are "tried & true" .. see the Bank of North Dakota.

Why Public Banks Outperform Private Banks: Unfair Competition or a Better Mousetrap?
Wednesday, 11 February 2015 * By Ellen Brown * Truth Out dot com

In November 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Bank of North Dakota (BND), the nation’s only state-owned bank, “is more profitable than Goldman Sachs Group Inc., has a better credit rating than J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and hasn’t seen profit growth drop since 2003.” The article credited the shale oil boom; but as discussed earlier here, North Dakota was already reporting record profits in the spring of 2009, when every other state was in the red and the oil boom had not yet hit. The later increase in state deposits cannot explain the bank’s stellar record either.

Then what does explain it? The BND turns a tidy profit year after year because it has substantially lower costs and risks then private commercial banks. It has no exorbitantly-paid executives; pays no bonuses, fees, or commissions; has no private shareholders; and has low borrowing costs. It does not need to advertise for depositors (it has a captive deposit base in the state itself) or for borrowers (it is a wholesome wholesale bank that partners with local banks that have located borrowers). The BND also has no losses from derivative trades gone wrong. It engages in old-fashioned conservative banking and does not speculate in derivatives.

Lest there be any doubt about the greater profitability of the public banking model, however, this conclusion was confirmed in January 2015 in a report by the Savings Banks Foundation for International Cooperation (SBFIC) (the Sparkassenstiftung für internationale Kooperation), a non-profit organization founded by the the Sparkassen Finance Group (Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe) in Germany. The SBFIC was formed in 1992 to make the experience of the German Sparkassen – municipally-owned savings banks – accessible in other countries.

The Sparkassen were instituted in the late 18th century as nonprofit organizations to aid the poor. The intent was to help people with low incomes save small sums of money, and to support business start-ups. Today, about half the total assets of the German banking system are in the public sector. (Another substantial chunk is in cooperative savings banks.) Local public banks are key tools of German industrial policy, specializing in loans to the Mittelstand, the small-to-medium size businesses that are at the core of that country’s export engine. The savings banks operate a network of over 15,600 branches and offices and employ over 250,000 people, and they have a strong record of investing wisely in local businesses.

In January 2015, the SPFIC published a report drawn from Bundesbank data, showing that the Sparkassen not only have a return on capital that is several times greater than for the German private banking sector, but that they pay substantially more to local and federal governments in taxes. That makes them triply profitable: as revenue-generating assets for their government owners, as lucrative sources of taxes, and as a stable funding mechanism for small and medium-sized businesses (a funding mechanism sorely lacking in the US today). Three charts from the SBFIC report are reproduced in English below. (Sparkassen results are in orange. Private commercial banks are in light blue.)

Very Cool graphs at link:

Democratizing Our Economy, One Worker-Owned Co-op At a Time (22 minute video)

Widespread formation of Worker Co-ops IMHO is a very practical grass-roots way to 'become the change we want to see' in the workplace and to humanize capitalism.

What Does It Take to Start a Worker Co-Op? A Practical Video Guide to Democratizing Our Economy
A new film asks whether practicing workplace democracy would be easier if our media gave us as many visions of collaboration as they do of competition?
by Laura Flanders * Common Dreams * Thursday, February 12, 2015

As Sarah van Gelder pointed out recently, 2014 research by the Pew Center found that 78 percent of Americans believe that too much power is concentrated in the hands of a few huge companies. More than half—62 percent—believe our current economic system is rigged in favor of those with the most power.

That belief, backed by the reality of gaping inequality and downward pressure on most Americans’ wealth and wages has led many people to look for ways, not only to ameliorate the pain and pressures of business-as-usual, but to find new ways of doing business. Worker-owned cooperatives, where workers are offered a share in the company and a say in decision-making, are one way to make the workplace more democratic. The most successful cooperatives have a good record of reducing inequality and building local assets, but co-ops aren’t easy, and they aren’t for everybody.

A year ago, GRITtv and TESA the Toolbox for Education and Social Action teamed up to look more closely at what it takes for a worker-owned cooperative to get started, and to succeed. The result is Own the Change: Building Economic Democracy One Worker Co-op at a Time.

Would practicing workplace democracy and working together be easier if our media and our education system gave us as many visions of collaboration as they do of competition? What if we were encouraged to participate in our communities as much as we are pushed to purchase stuff? If we measured prosperity not by how high we could pile up resources, but how widely we could spread them out, would our heroes, not to mention our economy look different?

We believe so. Own the Change: Building Economic Democracy One Worker Co-op at a Time is one contribution to a broader vision.

22 minute video

House GOP Wants Poor to Eat Cat Food

Republicans Eye Changes to Food-Stamp Program
House Lawmakers Want Revision After Plan’s Sharp Expansion During Recession
By TENNILLE TRACY * Feb. 11, 2015 5:28 p.m. ET * Wall St. Journal

House Republicans are laying the groundwork for a revision of the food-stamps program after its sharp expansion during the recession.

The effort kicks off Feb. 25 when the House Agriculture Committee holds the first of several hearings scheduled this year on food stamps, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R., Texas), who is leading the charge, said he wants to stay away from the type of party politics that can doom reforms before they are proposed. But as the son of a roughneck on oil rigs, he said he favors the kind of hard work that “built America,” suggesting any changes will lead to a smaller program and fewer recipients.

“A family that depends on their own work is more secure,” he said in an interview. “There’s a dignity in taking care of yourself.”

Some 46.5 million people—about 15% of the U.S. population—receive benefits, double the number from a decade ago. The costs, meanwhile, have nearly tripled in that time, going from $27 billion in fiscal year 2004 to $74 billion in 2014.

Creating fake 'enemies' in order to dominate the planet: U.S. trained ISIS at secret Jordan base

Creating fake 'enemies' in order to dominate the planet: U.S. trained ISIS at secret Jordan base
Aaron Klein - WND.com - Tue, 17 Jun 2014

Members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIS, were trained in 2012 by U.S. instructors working at a secret base in Jordan, according to informed Jordanian officials.

The officials said dozens of ISIS members were trained at the time as part of covert aid to the insurgents targeting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. The officials said the training was not meant to be used for any future campaign in Iraq.

The Jordanian officials said all ISIS members who received U.S. training to fight in Syria were first vetted for any links to extremist groups like al-Qaida.

In February 2012, WND was first to report the U.S., Turkey and Jordan were running a training base for the Syrian rebels in the Jordanian town of Safawi in the country's northern desert region.

That report has since been corroborated by numerous other media accounts.

Last March, the German weekly Der Spiegel reported Americans were training Syrian rebels in Jordan.

Quoting what it said were training participants and organizers, Der Spiegel reported it was not clear whether the Americans worked for private firms or were with the U.S. Army, but the magazine said some organizers wore uniforms. The training in Jordan reportedly focused on use of anti-tank weaponry.

The German magazine reported some 200 men received the training over the previous three months amid U.S. plans to train a total of 1,200 members of the Free Syrian Army in two camps in the south and the east of Jordan.

Britain's Guardian newspaper also reported last March that U.S. trainers were aiding Syrian rebels in Jordan along with British and French instructors. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/mar/08/west-training-syrian-rebels-jordan

Reuters reported a spokesman for the U.S. Defense Department declined immediate comment on the German magazine's report. The French foreign ministry and Britain's foreign and defense ministries also would not comment to Reuters.

The Jordanian officials spoke to WND amid concern the sectarian violence in Iraq will spill over into their own country as well as into Syria.

ISIS previously posted a video on YouTube threatening to move on Jordan and "slaughter" King Abdullah, whom they view as an enemy of Islam.

WND reported last week that, according to Jordanian and Syrian regime sources, Saudi Arabia has been arming the ISIS and that the Saudis are a driving force in supporting the al-Qaida-linked group.

WND further reported that, according to a Shiite source in contact with a high official in the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the Obama administration has been aware for two months that the al-Qaida-inspired group that has taken over two Iraqi cities and now is threatening Baghdad also was training fighters in Turkey.

The source told WND that at least one of the training camps of the group Iraq of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Syria, the ISIS, is in the vicinity of Incirlik Air Base near Adana, Turkey, where American personnel and equipment are located.

He called Obama "an accomplice" in the attacks that are threatening the Maliki government the U.S. helped establish through the Iraq war.

The source said that after training in Turkey, thousands of ISIS fighters went to Iraq by way of Syria to join the effort to establish an Islamic caliphate subject to strict Islamic law, or Shariah.

Police State Alert: Tarsands protesters are being harassed by the FBI

Tar Sands Activists Being Targeted by FBI
The agents 'appear to be interested in actions around the tar sands
and the Keystone XL pipeline,' said a lawyer working with the protesters
February 09, 2015 * Common Dreams * by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer

FBI investigators with nebulous intentions have attempted to question anti-tar sands activists in several states, the Canadian Press reported over the weekend.

While the dozen or so protesters who have been contacted hail from different organizations, they have one thing in common: mutual participate so-called "megaload protests"—intermittent highway blockades set up the last few years to complicate the enormous, football-field-sized shipments of processing equipment up to Canadian tar sands mining operations.

Larry Hildes, a lawyer working with the protesters, said the phone calls and visits have been happening the last few months in the northwestern states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.

"They appear to be interested in actions around the tarsands and the Keystone XL pipeline," Hildes told the Canadian Press. "It’s always the same line: 'We’re not doing criminal investigations, you’re not accused of any crime. But we’re trying to learn more about the movement'."

"It’s actually pretty spooky to have the FBI show up at your door, ask one question and leave. I think they were there to put me on notice that I was being watched."
—Herb Goodwin, eco-activist


If you don't think we're already living in a police state, consider this.

In the USA, over the past 35-40 years, we've seen the steady (albeit gradual) criminalization of things that were once considered tolerable, normative or even admirable: I'm thinking of behavior or states of being that were once tolerated by authorities are now increasingly being criminalized to eliminate, by a thousand cuts, those deemed mostly likely to resist or become embarrassing or inconvenient for an emergent totalitarian regime. Here I'm thinking of homeless people and those in extreme poverty, whistle-blowers and investigative journalists (see Assange, Greenwald, Aaron Swartz), people of color & protesters (see Ferguson, Occupy Wall St.).

Conversely, alongside this criminalization of resistance, the PTB are busily "legalizing" -- and thereby normalizing -- the 24/7 surveillance of all citizens (once considered unconstitutional) , overt bribery & corruption of public officials (see Citizens United), rampant police violence & brutality towards unarmed innocents, secret international courts and tribunals (see the TPP), refusal to prosecute known torturers and war criminals (see Cheney, GWBush, John Yoo, et. al.).

When I add all this up, and look at it in once place, I'm finding it difficult to escape the conclusion that we are ALREADY there, sadly. Stick a fork in us. We're done, well done proverbial frogs in a boiling cauldron of corporate-driven fascism, aka a full-blown Corporate Oligarchy.

While the Koch Bros gleefully drive the last few nails in the coffin of our constitutional democracy in America, progressives are still looking for our car keys. There is no turning this around, not anymore. We're about 10 years too late. Obama really was our last best hope for turning all this around, and we've seen how well that's gone. I'm not anti-Obama. I suspect that Obama really tried, did his best, but was stymied at every crucial turn by dark forces fully capable of assassination at-will.

OK. Now. I'd love to be completely wrong about what I've written above, so please talk me down or prove me wrong if you can.
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