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CSPAN Video: ‘War Is Making You Poor Act’ highlights cost of ongoing wars

May 21, 2010

Today, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) introduced bipartisan legislation called the “War Is Making You Poor Act,” which aims to call attention to a) how much money is being spent to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and b) how budget gimmicks are used to pay for them. Grayson’s legislation would slash the $159 billion request for supplemental war funding and use that money to deliver a tax break for all Americans. Grayson demands the Pentagon use its currently existing $549 billion defense budget to fight the wars and uses the money saved to eliminate federal income taxes on every American’s first $35,000 of income and reduce government borrowing. Cosponsors of this bill include Ron Paul, Walter Jones, John Conyers, Lynn Woolsey, and Dennis Kucinich. Speaking on the House floor today, Grayson underscored that the point of his legislation is to highlight the costs of the wars.

May 23, 2010 Posted by | Economics, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Video | Comments Off on CSPAN Video: ‘War Is Making You Poor Act’ highlights cost of ongoing wars

The Unbelievably Rampant Corruption On Wall Street

The Economic Collapse | May 20, 2010

In order for a financial system to be able to function properly, it is absolutely essential that the general population has faith in it.  After all, who is going to want to invest in the stock market or entrust their money to big financial institutions if there is not at least the perception of honesty and fairness in the financial marketplace?  For decades, the American people did have faith in Wall Street.  But now that faith is being shattered by a string of recent revelations.  It seems as though the rampant corruption on Wall Street is seeping up almost everywhere now.  In fact, some of the things that have come out recently have been absolutely jaw-dropping.  The truth is that the corruption on Wall Street is much deeper and much more systemic than most of us ever dared to imagine.  As the general public digests these recent scandals, it is going to result in a tremendous loss of faith in the U.S. financial system.  Once faith in a financial system is lost, it can take years or even decades to get back.  So how is the U.S. financial system supposed to work properly when large numbers of people simply do not believe in it anymore?

Just consider some of the recent revelations of Wall Street corruption that have come out recently….

*Bloomberg is reporting that a massive network of big banks and financial institutions have been involved in blatant bid-rigging fraud that cost taxpayers across the U.S. billions of dollars.  The U.S. Justice Department is charging that financial advisers to municipalities colluded with Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Lehman Brothers, Wachovia and 11 other banks in a conspiracy to rig bids on municipal financial instruments.  Apparently what was going on was that it was decided in advance who would win the auctions of guaranteed investment contracts, which public entities purchase with the proceeds from municipal bond sales, and then other intentionally losing bids were submitted in order to make the process look competitive.  The U.S. Justice Department claims that this fraud has been industry-wide and has been going on for years.  In fact, at least four financial professionals have already pleaded guilty in this case.

*An industry insider has come forward with “smoking gun” evidence that some of the biggest banks have been openly and blatantly manipulating the price of gold and silver.  For a time it looked like the federal government was just going to ignore all of this fraud, but after substantial public uproar some action is indeed being taken.  In fact, it has been reported that federal agents have launched parallel criminal and civil probes of JPMorgan Chase and its trading activity in the precious metals markets.

*Goldman Sachs is getting most of the press about fraud in the mortgage-backed securities market these days.  Of course Goldman is strenuously denying that it “bet against its clients” when it changed its position in the housing market in 2007.  But we all know the truth at this point.  The truth is that Goldman Sachs clearly bet against its clients and was involved in a whole lot of things that were even worse than that.  Many did not think the U.S. government would dare go after Goldman, but that is what we are starting to see.  U.S. federal prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into whether Goldman Sachs or its employees committed securities fraud in connection with its trading of mortgage-backed securities, and it will be very interesting to see if anything comes of that investigation.

*But not everyone is being held accountable for their actions.  The guy who helped bring down AIG is going to get off scott-free and is going to be able to keep the millions in profits that he made in the process.

*Entire U.S. cities have been victims of this rampant Wall Street fraud.  In fact, it is now being alleged that the biggest banks on Wall Street are ripping off some of the largest American cities with the same kind of predatory deals that brought down the financial system in Greece.

*The really sad thing is that fraud is very, very lucrative.  Executives at many of the big banks that received large amounts of money during the Wall Street bailouts are being lavished with record bonuses as millions of other average Americans continue to suffer economically.  Even the CEOs of bailed-out regional banks are getting big raises.  It must be really nice to be them.

So does all of this make you more likely or less likely to invest in the stock market?

Do you think that the American people can see all of this and still believe that the financial system is “fair” and “honest”?

The truth is that Wall Street is full of rip-off artists and fraudsters who don’t even try to hide their greed anymore.

It is as if a thousand junior Gordon Gekkos have been unleashed and they are all trying to be masters of the universe at any cost.

But what they are doing is ripping the heart out of the U.S. financial system.

If people lose faith in the system the system will ultimately fail.

A financial system that allows open fraud and manipulation is operating on borrowed time.

So will the rampant corruption on Wall Street now be cleaned up?

Only time will tell.

But one thing is for certain.

The American people will be watching.

May 23, 2010 Posted by | Corruption, Economics | Comments Off on The Unbelievably Rampant Corruption On Wall Street

Video: Palestinians treated like rats

91177info — May 20, 2010

This video reminds me of what a FEMA camp would be like. In order to get to work inside Israel Palestinians from the West Bank have to cross several checkpoints. Eyal Checkpoint is the last one. Long lines form in front of the checkpoint from around midnight of workers wishing to get to work on time in the morning.

Filmed by Merav Amir
Edited by Hadass Shuve

May 23, 2010 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, Video | 3 Comments

RT Video: Benny Morris suggests Israel had a military aim in destruction of 31,000 Gaza chickens

By Philip Weiss on May 22, 2010

A battle between Norman Finkelstein and Benny Morris on Russian television, I wish we could see it here. “Dr. Morris, you’re wearing many different hats,” Finkelstein says and Morris comes off as a propagandist more than a scholar, damaging himself at the end by stating that Israel did not attack “any hospital” in Gaza. And as for the chicken farm that Israel destroyed with tanks, we don’t know if there were “Hamas gunmen” inside the chicken coop, Morris says in a mocking tone. As if it’s funny. The Goldstone Report demonstrates that Israel attacked two hospitals, al-Quds and al-Wafa Hospitals. And as for the Sawafeary chicken farm, Israel wantonly destroyed 31,000 chickens and many coops when its army controlled the farm, and doing so served no military purpose.

Finkelstein takes the appropriate tone about the Gaza horrors, describing white phosphorus that burns at 1500 degrees. And he stands up for the right of return at minute 15:00 or so, says that all the world is for it except for the US, Australia, Israel and some banana republics.

May 23, 2010 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | 2 Comments

On Being the Wrong Size

By Willis Eschenbach | May 23, 2010

This topic is a particular peeve of mine, so I hope I will be forgiven if I wax wroth.

There is a most marvelous piece of technology called the GRACE satellites, which stands for the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment. It is composed of two satellites flying in formation. Measuring the distance between the two satellites to the nearest micron (a hundredth of the width of a hair) allows us to calculate the weight of things on the earth very accurately.

One of the things that the GRACE satellites have allowed us to calculate is the ice loss from the Greenland Ice Cap. There is a new article about the Greenland results called Weighing Greenland.

Figure 1. The two GRACE satellites flying in tandem, and constantly measuring the distance between them.

So, what’s not to like about the article?

Well, the article opens by saying:

Scott Luthcke weighs Greenland — every 10 days. And the island has been losing weight, an average of 183 gigatons (or 200 cubic kilometers) — in ice — annually during the past six years. That’s one third the volume of water in Lake Erie every year. Greenland’s shrinking ice sheet offers some of the most powerful evidence of global warming.

Now, that sounds pretty scary, it’s losing a third of the volume of Lake Erie every year. Can’t have that.

But what does that volume, a third of Lake Erie, really mean? We could also say that it’s 80 million Olympic swimming pools, or 400 times the volume of Sydney Harbor, or about the same volume as the known world oil reserves. Or we could say the ice loss is 550 times the weight of all humans on the Earth, or the weight of 31,000 Great Pyramids … but we’re getting no closer to understanding what that ice loss means.

To understand what it means, there is only one thing to which we should compare the ice loss, and that is the ice volume of the Greenland Ice Cap itself. So how many cubic kilometres of ice are sitting up there on Greenland?

My favorite reference for these kinds of questions is the Physics Factbook, because rather than give just one number, they give a variety of answers from different authors. In this case I went to the page on Polar Ice Caps. It gives the following answers:

Spaulding & Markowitz, Heath Earth Science. Heath, 1994: 195. says less than 5.1 million cubic kilometres (often written as “km^3″).

“Greenland.” World Book Encyclopedia. Chicago: World Book, 1999: 325 says 2.8 million km^3.

Satellite Image Atlas of Glaciers of the World. US Geological Survey (USGS) says 2.6 million km^3.

Schultz, Gwen. Ice Age Lost. 1974. 232, 75. also says 2.6 million km^3.

Denmark/Greenland. Greenland Tourism. Danish Tourist Board says less than 5.5 million km^3.

Which of these should we choose? Well, the two larger figures both say “less than”, so they are upper limits. The Physics Factbook says “From my research, I have found different values for the volume of the polar ice caps. … For Greenland, it is approximately 3,000,000 km^3.” Of course, we would have to say that there is an error in that figure, likely on the order of ± 0.4 million km^3 or so.

So now we have something to which we can compare our one-third of Lake Erie or 400 Sidney Harbors or 550 times the weight of the global population. And when we do so, we find that the annual loss is around 200 km^3 lost annually out of some 3,000,000 km^3 total. This means that Greenland is losing about 0.007% of its total mass every year … seven thousandths of one percent lost annually, be still, my beating heart …

And if that terrifying rate of loss continues unabated, of course, it will all be gone in a mere 15,000 years.

That’s my pet peeve, that numbers are being presented in the most frightening way possible. The loss of 200 km^3 of ice per year is not “some of the most powerful evidence of global warming”, that’s hyperbole. It is a trivial change in a huge block of ice.

And what about the errors in the measurements? We know that the error in the Greenland Ice Cap is on the order of 0.4 million km^3. How about the error in the GRACE measurements? This reference indicates that there is about a ± 10% error in the GRACE Greenland estimates. How does that affect our numbers?

Well, if we take the small estimate of ice cap volume, and the large estimate of loss, we get 220 km^3 lost annually / 2,600,000 km^3 total. This is an annual loss of 0.008%, and a time to total loss of 12,000 years.

Going the other way, we get 180 km^3 lost annually / 3,400,000 km^3 total. This is an annual loss of 0.005%, and a time to total loss of 19,000 years.

It is always important to include the errors in the calculation, to see if they make a significant difference in the result. In this case they happen to not make much difference, but each case is different.

That’s what angrifies my blood mightily, meaningless numbers with no errors presented for maximum shock value. Looking at the real measure, we find that Greenland is losing around 0.005% — 0.008% of its ice annually, and if that rate continues, since this is May 23rd, 2010, the Greenland Ice Cap will disappear entirely somewhere between the year 14010 and the year 21010 … on May 23rd …

So the next time you read something that breathlessly says …

“If this activity in northwest Greenland continues and really accelerates some of the major glaciers in the area — like the Humboldt Glacier and the Peterman Glacier — Greenland’s total ice loss could easily be increased by an additional 50 to 100 cubic kilometers (12 to 24 cubic miles) within a few years”

… you can say “Well, if it does increase by the larger estimate of 100 cubic km per year, and that’s a big if since the scientists are just guessing, that would increase the loss from 0.007% per year to around 0.010% per year, meaning that the Greenland Ice Cap would only last until May 23rd, 12010.”

Finally, the original article that got my blood boiling finishes as follows:

The good news for Luthcke is that a separate team using an entirely different method has come up with measurements of Greenland’s melting ice that, he says, are almost identical to his GRACE data. The bad news, of course, is that both sets of measurements make it all the more certain that Greenland’s ice is melting faster than anyone expected.

Oh, please, spare me. As the article points out, we’ve only been measuring Greenland ice using the GRACE satellites for six years now. How could anyone have “expected” anything? What, were they expecting a loss of 0.003% or something? And how is a Greenland ice loss of seven thousandths of one percent per year “bad news”? Grrrr …

I’ll stop here, as I can feel my blood pressure rising again. And as this is a family blog, I don’t want to revert to being the un-reformed cowboy I was in my youth, because if I did I’d start needlessly but imaginatively and loudly speculating on the ancestry, personal habits, and sexual malpractices of the author of said article … instead, I’m going to go drink a Corona beer and reflect on the strange vagaries of human beings, who always seem to want to read “bad news”.

May 23, 2010 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science | 1 Comment

Jewish Colonists Torch Palestinian Farmlands in Jordan Valley

By Saed Bannoura – IMEMC & Agencies – May 23, 2010

A group of fundamentalist settlers torched  several farms in Wad Al Maleh in the northern plains of the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank on Saturday. The torched lands were planted with wheat and barley.

Eyewitnesses reported that Palestinian firefighters arrived at the scene and prevented a bigger disaster.

The Popular Campaign in the Northern Plains reported that Israeli soldiers are aiding the settlers in their attacks instead of stopping them, and that the army obstructs firefighters and civil defense teams from reaching their destination.

The army did not evacuate the settlers and did not conduct any arrests. Yet, the soldiers [obstructed] several residents who rushed to the torched lands in order to extinguish the fire.

The attack came only two weeks after soldiers forced residents out of the Ein Al Hilwa area as the settlers are planning to install an illegal outpost there.

May 23, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | Comments Off on Jewish Colonists Torch Palestinian Farmlands in Jordan Valley