Saturday, November 3, 2012

Project Censored: Top 10 under reported stories from 2012

The expanding police state tops the annual list of stories underreported by the mainstream media
By Yael Chanoff

PCensored_art_1.jpg
People who get their information exclusively from mainstream media sources may be surprised at the lack of enthusiasm on the left for President Barack Obama in this crucial election. But that’s probably because they weren’t exposed to the full online furor sparked by Obama’s continuation of his predecessor’s overreaching approach to national security, such as signing the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, which allows the indefinite detention of those accused of supporting terrorism, even U.S. citizens.

We’ll never know how this year’s election would be different if the corporate media adequately covered the NDAA’s indefinite detention clause and many other recent attacks on civil liberties. What we can do is spread the word and support independent media sources that do cover these stories. That’s where Project Censored comes in.
Project Censored has been documenting inadequate media coverage of crucial stories since it began in 1967 at Sonoma State University. Each year, the group considers hundreds of news stories submitted by readers, evaluating their merits. Students search Lexis Nexis and other databases to see if the stories were underreported, and if so, the stories are fact-checked by professors and experts in relevant fields.

A panel of academics and journalists chooses the Top 25 stories and rates their significance. The project maintains a vast online database of underreported news stories that it has “validated” and publishes them in an annual book. Censored 2013: Dispatches from the Media Revolution will be released Oct. 30.

For the second year in row, Project Censored has grouped the Top 25 list into topical “clusters.” This year, categories include “Human cost of war and violence” and “Environment and health.” Project Censored Director Mickey Huff told us the idea was to show how various undercovered stories fit together into an alternative narrative, not to say that one story was more censored than another.

In May, while Project Censored was working on the list, another 2012 list was issued: the Fortune 500 list of the biggest corporations, whose influence peppers the Project Censored list in a variety of ways.

Consider this year’s top Fortune 500 company: ExxonMobil. The oil company pollutes everywhere it goes, yet most stories about its environmental devastation go underreported. Weapons manufacturers Lockheed Martin (58 on the Fortune list), General Dynamics (92), and Raytheon (117) are tied into stories about U.S. prisoners in slavery conditions manufacturing parts for their weapons and the underreported war crimes in Afghanistan and Libya.

These powerful corporations work together more than most people think. In the chapter exploring the “global 1 percent,” writers Peter Philips and Kimberly Soeiro explain how a small number of well-connected people control the majority of the world’s wealth. In it, they use Censored story number 6, “Small network of corporations run the global economy,” to describe how a network of transnational corporations are deeply interconnected, with 147 of them controlling 40 percent of the global economy’s total wealth.

For example, Philips and Soeiro write that in one such company, BlackRock Inc., “The 18 members of the board of directors are connected to a significant part of the world’s core financial assets. Their decisions can change empires, destroy currencies and impoverish millions.”

Another cluster of stories, “Women and Gender, Race and Ethnicity,” notes a pattern of underreporting stories that affect a range of marginalized groups. This broad category includes only three articles, and none are listed in the top 10. The stories reveal mistreatment of Palestinian women in Israeli prisons, including being denied medical care and shackled during childbirth, and the rape and sexual assault of women soldiers in the U.S. military. The third story in the category concerns an Alabama anti-immigration bill, H.B. 56, that caused immigrants to flee Alabama in such numbers that farmers felt a dire need to “help farms fill the gap and find sufficient labor.” So the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries approached the state’s Department of Corrections about making a deal where prisoners would replace the fleeing farm workers.

But with revolutionary unrest around the world, and the rise of a mass movement that connects disparate issues together into a simple, powerful class analysis — the 99 percent versus the 1 percent paradigm popularized by Occupy Wall Street — this year’s Project Censored offers an element of hope.

It’s not easy to succeed at projects that resist corporate dominance, and when it does happen, the corporate media is sometimes reluctant to cover it. Number seven on the Top 25 list is the story of how the United Nations designated 2012 the International Year of the Cooperative, recognizing the rapid growth of co-op businesses, organizations that are part-owned by all members and whose revenue is shared equitably among members. One billion people worldwide now work in co-ops.

The Year of the Cooperative is not the only good-news story discussed by Project Censored this year. In Chapter 4, Yes! Magazine’s Sarah Van Gelder lists “12 ways the Occupy movement and other major trends have offered a foundation for a transformative future.” They include a renewed sense of “political self-respect” and fervor to organize in the United States, debunking of economic myths such as the “American dream,” and the blossoming of economic alternatives such as community land trusts, time banking and micro-energy installations.

As Dr. Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed writes in the book’s foreword, “The majority of people now hold views about Western governments and the nature of power that would have made them social pariahs 10 or 20 years ago.”

Citing polls from the corporate media, Mosaddeq writes: “The majority are now skeptical of the Iraq War; the majority want an end to U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan; the majority resent the banks and financial sector, and blame them for the financial crisis; most people are now aware of environmental issues, more than ever before, and despite denialist confusion promulgated by fossil fuel industries, the majority in the United States and Britain are deeply concerned about global warming; most people are wary of conventional party politics and disillusioned with the mainstream parliamentary system.”

“In other words,” he writes, “there has been a massive popular shift in public opinion toward a progressive critique of the current political economic system.”

And ultimately, it’s the public — not the president and not the corporations—that will determine the future. There may be hope after all. Here’s Project Censored’s Top 10 list for 2013:

1. Signs of an emerging police state
President George W. Bush is remembered largely for his role in curbing civil liberties in the name of his “war on terror.” But it’s President Obama who signed the 2012 NDAA, including its clause allowing for indefinite detention without trial for terrorism suspects. Obama promised that “my administration will interpret them to avoid the constitutional conflict” — leaving us adrift if and when the next administration chooses to interpret them otherwise. Another law of concern is the National Defense Resources Preparedness Executive Order that Obama issued in March 2012. That order authorizes the president, “in the event of a potential threat to the security of the United States, to take actions necessary to ensure the availability of adequate resources and production capability, including services and critical technology, for national defense requirements.” The president is to be advised on this course of action by “the National Security Council and Homeland Security Council, in conjunction with the National Economic Council.” Journalist Chris Hedges, along with co-plaintiffs including Noam Chomsky and Daniel Ellsberg, won a case challenging the NDAA’s indefinite detention clause on Sept. 1, when a federal judge blocked its enforcement, but her ruling was overturned on Oct. 3, so the clause is back.


2. Oceans in peril
Big banks aren’t the only entities that our country has deemed “too big to fail.” But our oceans won’t be getting a bailout anytime soon, and their collapse could compromise life itself. In a haunting article highlighted by Project Censored, Mother Jones reporter Julia Whitty paints a tenuous seascape — overfished, acidified, warming — and describes how the destruction of the ocean’s complex ecosystems jeopardizes the entire planet, not just the 70 percent that is water. Whitty compares ocean acidification, caused by global warming, to acidification that was one of the causes of the “Great Dying,” a mass extinction 252 million years ago. Life on Earth took 30 million years to recover. In a more hopeful story, a study of 14 protected and 18 non-protected ecosystems in the Mediterranean Sea showed dangerous levels of biomass depletion. But it also showed that the marine reserves were well-enforced, with five to 10 times larger fish populations than in unprotected areas. This encourages establishment and maintenance of more reserves.

3. U.S. deaths from Fukushima
A plume of toxic fallout floated to the U.S. after Japan’s tragic Fukushima nuclear disaster on March 11, 2011. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found radiation levels in air, water and milk that were hundreds of times higher than normal across the United States. One month later, the EPA announced that radiation levels had declined, and they would cease testing. But after making a Freedom of Information Act request, journalist Lucas Hixson published emails revealing that on March 24, 2011, the task of collecting nuclear data had been handed off from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to the Nuclear Energy Institute, a nuclear industry lobbying group. And in one study that got little attention, scientists Joseph Mangano and Jeanette Sherman found that in the period following the Fukushima meltdowns, 14,000 more deaths than average were reported in the U.S., mostly among infants. Later, Mangono and Sherman updated the number to 22,000.

4. FBI agents responsible for terrorist plots
We know that FBI agents go into communities such as mosques, both undercover and in the guise of building relationships, quietly gathering information about individuals. This is part of an approach to finding what the FBI now considers the most likely kind of terrorists, “lone wolves.” Its strategy: “seeking to identify those disgruntled few who might participate in a plot given the means and the opportunity. And then, in case after case, the government provides the plot, the means, and the opportunity,” writes Mother Jones journalist Trevor Aaronsen. The publication, along with the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California-Berkeley, examined the results of this strategy, 508 cases classified as terrorism-related that have come before the U.S. Department of Justice since the 9/11 terrorist attacks of 2001. In 243 of these cases, an informant was involved; in 49 cases, an informant actually led the plot. And “with three exceptions, all of the high-profile domestic terror plots of the last decade were actually FBI stings.”


5. Federal Reserve loaned trillions to major banks
The Federal Reserve, the U.S.’s quasi-private central bank, was audited for the first time in its history this year. The audit report states, “From late 2007 through mid-2010, Reserve Banks provided more than a trillion dollars ... in emergency loans to the financial sector to address strains in credit markets and to avert failures of individual institutions believed to be a threat to the stability of the financial system.” These loans had significantly less interest and fewer conditions than the high-profile TARP bailouts, and were rife with conflicts of interest. Some examples: the CEO of JP Morgan Chase served as a board member of the New York Federal Reserve at the same time that his bank received more than $390 billion in financial assistance from the Fed. William Dudley, who is now the New York Federal Reserve president, was granted a conflict of interest waiver to let him keep investments in AIG and General Electric at the same time the companies were given bailout funds. The audit was restricted to Federal Reserve lending during the financial crisis. On July 25, 2012, a bill to audit the Fed again, with fewer limitations, authored by Rep. Ron Paul, passed the House of Representatives. H.R. 459 was expected to die in the Senate, but the movement behind Paul and his calls to hold the Fed accountable, or abolish it altogether, seem to be growing.


6. Small network of corporations run the global economy
Reporting on a study by researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute in Zurich didn’t make the rounds nearly enough, according to Censored 2013. They found that, of 43,060 transnational companies, 147 control 40 percent of total global wealth. The researchers also built a model visually demonstrating how the connections between companies — what it calls the “super entity” — works. Some have criticized the study, saying control of assets doesn’t equate to ownership. True, but as we clearly saw in the 2008 financial collapse, corporations are capable of mismanaging assets in their control to the detriment of their actual owners. And a largely unregulated super entity like this is vulnerable to global collapse.

7. The International Year of Cooperative
Can something really be censored when it’s straight from the United Nations? According to Project Censored evaluators, the corporate media underreported the U.N. declaring 2012 to be the International Year of the Cooperative, based on the co-op business model’s stunning growth. The U.N. found that, in 2012, 1 billion people worldwide are co-op member-owners, or one in five adults over age 15. The largest is Spain’s Mondragon Corporation, with more than 80,000 member-owners. The U.N. predicts that by 2025, worker-owned co-ops will be the world’s fastest growing business model. Worker-owned cooperatives provide for equitable distribution of wealth, genuine connection to the workplace, and, just maybe, a brighter future for our planet.

8. NATO war crimes in Libya
In January 2012, the BBC “revealed” how British Special Forces agents joined and “blended in” with rebels in Libya to help topple dictator Muammar Gadaffi, a story that alternative media sources had reported a year earlier. NATO admits to bombing a pipe factory in the Libyan city of Brega that was key to the water supply system that brought tap water to 70 percent of Libyans, saying that Gadaffi was storing weapons in the factory. In Censored 2013, writer James F. Tracy makes the point that historical relations between the U.S. and Libya were left out of mainstream news coverage of the NATO campaign; “background knowledge and historical context confirming Al-Qaeda and Western involvement in the destabilization of the Gadaffi regime are also essential for making sense of corporate news narratives depicting the Libyan operation as a popular ‘uprising.’”

9. Prison slavery in the U.S.
On its website, the UNICOR manufacturing corporation proudly proclaims that its products are “made in America.” That’s true, but they’re made in places in the U.S. where labor laws don’t apply, with workers often paid just 23 cents an hour to be exposed to toxic materials with no legal recourse. These places are U.S. prisons. Slavery conditions in prisons aren’t exactly news. It’s literally written into the Constitution; the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, outlaws “slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.” But the articles highlighted by Project Censored this year reveal the current state of prison slavery industries, and its ties to war. The majority of products manufactured by inmates are contracted to the Department of Defense. Inmates make complex parts for missile systems, battleship anti-aircraft guns and landmine sweepers, as well as night-vision goggles, body army and camouflage uniforms. Of course, this is happening in the context of record high imprisonment in the U.S., where grossly disproportionate numbers of African Americans and Latinos are imprisoned, and can’t vote even after they’re freed. As psychologist Elliot D. Cohen puts it in this year’s book: “This system of slavery, like that which existed in this country before the Civil War, is also racist, as more than 60 percent of U.S. prisoners are people of color.”


10. H.R. 347 criminalizes protest
H.R. 347, sometimes called the “criminalizing protest” or “anti-Occupy” bill, made some headlines. But concerned lawyers and other citizens worry that it could have disastrous effects for the First Amendment right to protest. Officially called the Federal Restricted Grounds Improvement Act, the law makes it a felony to “knowingly” enter a zone restricted under the law, or engage in “disorderly or disruptive” conduct in or near the zones. The restricted zones include anywhere the Secret Service may be — places such as the White House, areas hosting events deemed “National Special Security Events,” or anywhere visited by the president, vice president and their immediate families; former presidents, vice presidents and certain family members; certain foreign dignitaries; major presidential and vice presidential candidates (within 120 days of an election); and other individuals as designated by a presidential executive order. These people could be anywhere, and NSSEs have notoriously included the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, Super Bowls and the Academy Awards. So far, it seems the only time H.R. 347 has kicked in is with George Clooney’s high-profile arrest outside the Sudanese embassy. Clooney ultimately was not detained without trial — information that would be almost impossible to censor — but what about the rest of us who exist outside of the mainstream media’s spotlight?

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein arrested in Texas

She just became my hero...

Published: 31 October, 2012
Edited: 01 November, 2012
RT
Video
(36.9Mb) embed video

Jill Stein, a presidential candidate from the Green Party, has been arrested in Texas while attempting to resupply protesters camping out in trees to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline, according to anti-pipeline activists.

The Tar Sands Blockade activists said she was released soon after being taken to the Wood County jail in Quitman, TX.

Dr. Jill Stein has been released from Wood County Jail on a Class B Misdemeanor Criminal Trespass charge,” the group’s website stated.

Tar Sands has been protesting against the costruction of the Keystone XL pipeline for the last month. However,  a spokesperson for TransCanada, the company in charge of the pipeline project, confirmed they are preparing to build around the existing blockade.

Jill Stein and two other women came to resupply the tree-sitters in Winnsboro, Texas. Stein and a freelance journalist were subsequently detained by TransCanada security, and handed over to the police.

On her website, www.jillstein.org, the third-party candidate explains she went to the blockade to adress a very important national issue: climate change.

“Everyone needs to step up resistance to climate-killing emissions. Romney and Obama are only talking about the symptoms of climate change in terms of destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy; the blockaders are addressing the cause.” 

The Green Party's media coordinator, Scott McLarty, explained to RT that Jill Stein was focusing on the issue as both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have ignored climate change during the presidential debates that took place earlier in October at Hofstra University.

We find it reckless and irresponsible that both the Democratic and the Republican  candidates for president never once mentioned climate change at all during this debates.”

Earlier this month, police arrested Dr Stein and her running mate, Cheri Honkala, after they tried to enter the site of the second presidential debate at Hofstra University.

The two were protesting against the exclusion of all but the two major political parties from taking part in the debate.

RT has been broadcasting all third-party debates live and will host the third and final debate, which will take place on November 5, from its DC studios. Jill Stein is slated to participate, alongside Gary Johnson.

Amber Lyon reveals CNN lies and war propaganda



Amber Lyon Blows Whistle on CNN

CNN Exposed: Emmy Winning Former CNN Journalist, Amber Lyon Blows The Whistle that CNN is paid by the US government for reporting on some events, and not reporting on others.

The Obama Administration pays for CNN content

Former CNN reporter Amber Lyon is claiming she has proof the Obama administration paid CNN to run certain stories and delete certain stories, most notably an interview with Nick Robertson who interviewed Mohammed Al Zawahiri regarding the Egyptian uprising and it being a protest for the release of the Blind Shiek, NOT based on a youtube video.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Monsanto the devil’s Roundup (Glyphosate) Linked to Parkinson’s and Similar Diseases

Elizabeth Renter | Activist Post

We already know the links between herbicides and sterility in men, birth defects, mental illness, obesity and cancer—but now we have something new to add to the nasty effects of pesticides list — Parkinson’s disease and similar neurodegenerative conditions.

New research, published in the journal Neurotoxicology and Teratology, indicates a connection between a component in Monsanto the devil’s Roundup and Parkinson’s disease. Glyphosate is said to induce cell death, with frightening repercussions.

GreenMedInfo.com reports the study was investigating the links between herbicides (weed killers) and brain damage. These chemicals, the study’s authors say, “have been recognized as the main environmental factor associated with neurodegenerative disorders,” like Parkinson’s.

Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative nervous system disease. It slowly progresses as time goes on with common symptoms like tremors, rigidity, difficulty walking, poor posture, lack of movement, and slowness of movement, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

The CDC reports Parkinson’s as the 14th leading cause of death in the U.S. In 2010 (the last year for which data is available), there was 4.6% increase in the number of deaths attributed to this disease. One has to wonder if there is a connection between this jump and the ever-growing prevalence of herbicides like Roundup in our air, food, and water.

Studies indicate that glyphosate is toxic to human DNA “at concentrations diluted 450-fold lower than used in agricultural applications.” Worded differently—the levels considered safe by our government are 450 times the levels at which glyphosate has been found to damage and destroy human DNA. Yes, it’s that serious.

One case study found a woman who was exposed to glyphosate in the workplace for 3 years at a chemical factory. She wore gloves and a face mask. She was initially a healthy, middle-aged women. But, she developed “rigidity, slowness, and resting tremor in all four limbs.” She was also experiencing severe dizziness, weakness, and blurred vision. And hers isn’t the only such case.

What’s so scary about the growing body of research on Monsanto the devil’s Roundup, its components, and their presence in nearly everything around us, is that the federal government refuses to recognize the risk. Despite a growing concern on an international level, the powers-that-be are seemingly content to turn their eyes while the people demand accountability and safe food.

Until pesticides and herbicides are no longer used on a mass scale, the growth of these diseases will likely continue. Eat 100% organic produce whenever possible to bypass exposure to destructive pesticides and herbicides.

Additional Sources:

PubMed
GreenMedInfo
The Huffington Post

The Prison System Expands at Frightening Pace Following Declaration of War on Drugs

Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Sean Kerrigan, Contributor
Activist Post

In the early 1970s, the prison population in the United States was small and was steadily falling relative to the size of the population. Experts imagined that in a few decades, the prison system as we know it could be successfully dismantled, but that began to change after President Nixon began the War on Drugs in 1971, resulting in a huge influx of convicts.

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE
The massive increase in prisoners has given rise to what some call the Prison Industrial Complex. Like its cousin, the Corporate Military Industrial Complex, government policy and spending continues to make private involvement in the prison system very lucrative. Taxpayer money is transferred to corporations to satisfy the increasing number of prisoners as a result of the drug war.

As these corporations become bigger and more powerful, they can lobby for policies that will increase their business. Their business is to see you behind bars. More prisoners means more profit, which means more influence. It’s a continuing cycle that has reached a tipping point.

Like all big businesses, private prisons invest heavily in government lobbying to ensure an ever increasing supply of new customers, in this case prisoners. Currently, private prison companies are negotiating with states to buy and manage public prisons, if in exchange the state can promise occupancy rates remain above 90 percent for at least 20 years. This of course only adds to incentivize the states to prosecute more citizens for more crimes.

The Corrections Corporation of America’s annual filing even admits this is their goal:
The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by our criminal laws…For instance, any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them. (and this is why marijuana will never be totally decriminalized--jef)
In some cases, the private prison industry has even assisted in writing the laws designed to increase the prison population, as was the case with the controversial Arizona law SB 1070, which would inevitably jail foreign nationals suspected of being in the country illegally.

The US has 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. It’s incarceration rate is the highest in the world and has increased by 10 percent since 2000. The US incarceration rate is only slightly lower than in the Soviet Union at the height of the gulag system just before World War II. At current rates, the US will surpass the gulag system by 2018!

Financial writer Jeff Neilson has recently noted that while US new home inventory has been “plummeting straight down,” other reports indicate that construction of homes are up significantly, producing “50 to 100 percent more units than they sell.” Neilson’s conclusion?
Either the official U.S. housing numbers were total fabrications; or, more than half of these ‘housing starts’ were units which did not require a ‘sale’ to an individual owner in order for the builder to be paid (since no builder can stay in business building twice as many units as they sell).
In attempting to come up with an answer to the question ‘how could millions of new U.S. housing units not require sale to an owner?,’ I could only formulate one possibility. All of these phantom housing starts were in fact prison cells.
Slave Labor

The 13th Amendment to the Constitution specifically outlaws slavery “except as a punishment for crime,” meaning that convicted prisoners can be used as a source of forced servitude. During times of economic stress, demand for cheap prison labor increases.

With the expansion of the private prison system, we’re seeing new interest in the practice that goes way beyond making license plates.

While cheap sweatshop labor is becoming increasingly common across the country, no one takes better advantage of the system than prisons.

Alternet reports that almost 1 million prisoners are doing simple unskilled labor including “making office furniture, working in call centers, fabricating body armor, taking hotel reservations, working in slaughterhouses, or manufacturing textiles, shoes, and clothing, while getting paid somewhere between 93 cents and $4.73 per day.” They continue:
Rarely can you find workers so pliable, easy to control, stripped of political rights, and subject to martial discipline at the first sign of recalcitrance — unless, that is, you traveled back to the nineteenth century when convict labor was commonplace nationwide…It was one vital way the United States became a modern industrial capitalist economy — at a moment, eerily like our own, when the mechanisms of capital accumulation were in crisis.
Compare the cost of less than $5 a day with the cost of a minimum wage worker at $58 a day and you begin to see the perverse influence on the entire labor market.

CNN Money reports that prison inmates are now directly competing for jobs in the rest of the economy, and employers are finding it increasingly difficult to keep up. Lost jobs are the result. They cite one company, American Apparel Inc., which makes military uniforms. They write:
‘We pay employees $9 on average,’ [a company executive] said. ‘They get full medical insurance, 401(k) plans and paid vacation. Yet we’re competing against a federal program that doesn’t pay any of that.’
[The private prison] is not required to pay its workers minimum wage and instead pays inmates 23 cents to $1.15 an hour. It doesn’t have health insurance costs. It also doesn’t shell out federal, state or local taxes.
The new influx of cheap, domestic labor will inevitably drive down wages for both skilled and unskilled jobs.

Perverse Incentives

The profitability of privately run prison system has led to an increase in abuse within government positions. In 2009, two judges were convicted of fraud for accepting kickbacks from private prisons for sending juveniles to prison, even for minor offenses. In one instance, a 17-year-old student was sentenced to three months in prison for creating a fake MySpace page mocking an assistant principal.

The expansion of the American-style gulag will require the subversion of the jury trial (and jury nullification) or replaced all together with a system that provides fewer checks to protect the innocent. Misdemeanors will be reclassified as felonious. Decriminalization efforts that have succeeded will be reversed. People will be imprisoned for offenses not even considered crimes, or held without trial.

The financial justification for private prisons is in question as well. The New York Times, The Arizona Republic, and the Associated Press, have noted that governments save little if any money by privatizing the prison system. The Times notes that statistics are often manipulated since private prisons are more than willing to take healthy inmates, but tend to reject inmates with expensive health conditions, making the operation appear more cost effective than it is.

How Genetically Modified Cotton is Taking Over

Thursday, November 1, 2012
“Nice Shirt—Is that GM Cotton?”
Elizabeth Renter | Activist Post

There is a very good chance that if you’ve bought anything made of cotton within the last several years, you have indirectly, and most likely unknowingly, supported the GMO industry. That’s because it is estimated that 90 percent of cotton produced worldwide is now genetically modified. While GM cotton likely won’t hurt you, the concern is that we, as consumers, haven’t been kept informed of the presence of these crops and their byproducts in our lives.

GM Cotton is Taking Over

According to The Telegraph, British author Simon Ferringo says that only 12 countries in the world actually grow genetically modified cotton, but that their crops account for the majority produced in the world.

In the United States and elsewhere, the cotton is genetically modified to resist pests. The large prevalence of GM cotton means finding organic cotton is getting more and more difficult and is coming at a heftier price.

Some retailers have formed a “sustainable cotton consortium”. The companies, known as The Better Cotton Initiative, include Tesco, Sainsbury’s, H&M, Adidas, M&S, and Nike. While they currently have little control over whether or not they are using GM cotton, the companies are working towards more sustainable options.

“Larger brands tend to do a lot of ‘blending’ – using organic alongside non-organic. The issue is partly about shortage of supply of organic cotton, due to the dominance of the GM corporations. That is why the campaign is pressing big brands to sign up and drive the demand for organic, non-GM cotton,” said a spokesman for the group.


Cotton farming, in particular, is said to be a “toxic business” according to Amy leech of the Soil Association. “It uses a lot of pesticides—putting in peril the lives of women, men and children in cotton farming communities. 77 million cotton workers suffer poisonings from pesticides each year.”

By making the cotton crops resistant to pesticides, farmers are encouraged to use even more pesticides with little adverse effects to the crop. This makes an already “toxic business” potentially even more toxic.

As we reported earlier this year, GM cotton is having tragic effects in India. The suicide rate among Indian cotton farmers has skyrocketed since the introduction of Monsanto’s Bt cotton in 2002. Why? Because the price of seeds has skyrocketed, and with little alternate options, farmers are being stretched thin. About one Indian farmer killed himself every 30 minutes in 2009, for a grand total of 17,638 in that year alone. Their harvests are low and prices are high. The suicide phenomena has become known as “The GM Genocide.”

Farmers are killing themselves so that we can have our GM cotton t-shirts and socks. It’s difficult to truly grasp the gravity of this matter, but the fact is—it’s happening now and it’s happening, in a large part, due to the GMO industry.

Suspicious behavior at hotels is terrorism indicator; Hidden cameras used by Cops on Private Property w/o warrants

DHS-FBI bulletin on suspicious behavior at hotels adds to already long list of terrorism indicators

Madison Ruppert | Activist Post

According to the United States government, just about every single thing one can do is an indicator of terrorism. Everything from complaining about bias and believing in government conspiracies to ordinary bodily movements to bumper stickers to traveling long distances can be considered an indicator of terrorist activity.

That list can be expanded even further thanks to a joint Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) bulletin dated July 26, 2010 (PDF courtesy of Public Intelligence).

According to the bulletin, there are a wide range of activities and behaviors that can be construed to be an indicator of terrorist activity, many of which are completely innocuous.

Most of the supposedly suspicious behaviors surround privacy, such as “Not providing professional or personal details on hotel registrations—such as place of employment, contact information, or place of residence.”

According to the FBI and DHS, “Refusal of housekeeping services for extended periods” is suspicious, along with “extended stays with little baggage or unpacked luggage.”

In other words, if you’d rather not run the risk of having your personal belongings rifled through by housekeeping staff or if you travel light, you just might be a terrorist.

“Non-VIPs who request that their presence at a hotel not be divulged,” are also apparently suspicious, although one must wonder who makes the decision about who is a VIP and non-VIP.

Some of the points clearly involve a great deal of assumptions on the part of the observer.

“Using payphones for outgoing calls or making front desk requests in person to avoid using the room telephone,” is apparently suspicious as well, although it is unclear how someone working at a hotel would know why exactly someone chooses to make calls on one phone instead of another.

On that same note, “Interest in using Internet cafes, despite hotel Internet availability,” is seen as suspicious. This completely ignores the fact that some people might not actually have a computer with them on vacation, thus requiring the hardware provided at an Internet cafĂ©.

Apparently, choosing not to lug one’s computer around on vacation is a sign of “possible terrorist behaviors at hotels,” an assertion which is patently absurd.

Also suspicious, according to the FBI and DHS, is the “use of cash for large transactions or a credit card in someone else’s name.” This means that if you choose to use cash whenever possible, as many people do, you just might be a terrorist. On the other hand, if you use your spouse’s credit card to pay for your room, you also might be a terrorist.

“Requests for specific rooms, floors, or other locations in the hotel” is also seen as suspicious since apparently requesting to have a room that doesn’t overlook a parking lot means you might be a terrorist.

The FBI and DHS also seem to believe that using a travel agent could mean you’re a terrorist since “use of a third party to register” is listed as a potential indicator of terrorist activity.

Among other absurd indicators is, “Abandoning a room and leaving behind clothing, toiletries, or other items,” or in other words, forgetting something in your room.

That being said, some of the listed indicators could indeed be seen as suspicious, such as, “Unusual interest in hotel staff operating procedures, shift changes, closed-circuit TV systems, fire alarms, and security systems.”

Yet the sad reality is that the vast majority of the supposedly suspicious activities can hardly be characterized as such by any thinking person.

The truly suspicious activities are far outweighed by the completely laughable potential indicators listed in bulletins such as these, which is in no way constructive and just serves to create an irrational culture of paranoia.


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Federal court approves use of hidden surveillance cameras on private property without warrants
Madison Ruppert | Activist Post

Yet again, a federal judge undermined the Constitution in a wholly disturbing fashion, this time by allowing police to install hidden surveillance cameras on private property without obtaining a search warrant.

This is especially troubling since the federal government has conducted more warrantless surveillance over the past two years than the entire previous decade. This court decision can only be expected to increase that already troubling number.

Let us not forget that the Obama administration has fought vigorously to hold on to their ability to conduct warrantless wiretapping while also claiming that cell phone location data is not protected by the Constitution and the Supreme Court recently refused to review a lawsuit challenging the warrantless surveillance program of the National Security Agency (NSA).

According to CNET, U.S. District Judge William Griesbach ruled “that it was reasonable for Drug Enforcement Administration agents to enter rural property without permission — and without a warrant — to install multiple “covert digital surveillance cameras” in hopes of uncovering evidence that 30 to 40 marijuana [plants] were being grown.”

Griesbach’s decision was actually based on a recommendation issued by U.S. Magistrate Judge William Callahan on October 9.

Callahan’s recommendation claimed that the DEA actually did not violate the Fourth Amendment by conducting warrantless surveillance.

“The Supreme Court has upheld the use of technology as a substitute for ordinary police surveillance,” wrote Callahan in his recommendation.


The case surrounds Manuel Mendoza and Marco Magana of Green Bay, Wis. Both Mendoza and Magana have been charged with federal drug crimes that carry potential fines of up to $10 million along with life in prison.

Steven Curran, a DEA agent, claimed he discovered over 1,000 marijuana plants on a 22-acre heavily wooded property owned by Magana. The defendants called on Callahan to throw out the video evidence collected by the DEA based on the fact that there were “No Trespassing” signs posted throughout the property along with a locked gate, thus making the evidence collected a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Around four days after the DEA installed the surveillance cameras on Magana’s property without a warrant, a magistrate judge granted a warrant for surveillance. Mendoza and Magana’s attorneys rightfully pointed out that the surveillance took place long before the warrant was actually granted.

Callahan made his recommendation based on Oliver v. United States, a 1984 Supreme Court case in which the majority of justices ruled that “open fields” could indeed be searched without obtaining a warrant. They based this decision on their claim that open fields are not actually covered by the Fourth Amendment.

If the land is immediately surrounding a residence, on the other hand, it has greater privacy protections based on a legal concept known as curtilage.

“Placing a video camera in a location that allows law enforcement to record activities outside of a home and beyond protected curtilage does not violate the Fourth Amendment,” Department of Justice prosecutors James Santelle and William Lipscomb told Callahan.

“That one’s actions could be recorded on their own property, even if the property is not within the curtilage, is contrary to society’s concept of privacy,” argued Magana’s attorney Brett Reetz in a legal filing.

“The owner and his guest… had reason to believe that their activities on the property were not subject to video surveillance as it would constitute a violation of privacy,” Reetz added in last month’s legal filing.

Writing for CNET, Declan McCullagh paints a quite disturbing picture of where this precedent could lead.

“As digital sensors become cheaper and wireless connections become more powerful, the Justice Department’s argument would allow police to install cameras on private property without court oversight — subject only to budgetary limits and political pressure,” McCullagh writes.

The ugly reality is that legal precedents such as these serve to reinforce the constant erosion of our most essential rights. So long as judges continue to support the consistent undermining of our Constitutional rights, this disturbing trend will undoubtedly continue and will likely get significantly worse.

Warning: Anti-Depressants Causing Birth Defects, Miscarriages

Friday, November 2, 2012
Lisa Garber | Activist Post

Pharmaceutical companies regularly embellish the benefits and downplay the dangers of anti-depressants, and all medications for that matter—but this time, their profits could be inadvertently endangering and even killing unborn infants. Senior doctors know it and are finally raising their voices.

Tufts University School of Medicine’s Dr. Adam Urato decries the practice of prescribing SSRIs to pregnant women. “Study after study shows increased rates of newborn complications in those babies who were exposed to SSRIs in-utero,” he says. These complications include greater risk of autism, lung and bowel diseases, and more.

Doctors Failing to Properly Warn of Risks

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most common form of anti-depressants, many of which are prescribed to pregnant mothers by “general practitioners, not psychiatrists,” according to Dr. Alice Domar of Harvard Medical School. “You come in and you say I’m not feeling very well, I’m feeling lethargic so the physician writes a prescription.”

Urato says that although not proven, the outcomes of over 40 studies linking SSRIs to the endangerment of an unborn child are troubling enough to warrant further research. Family doctors must also properly caution pregnant women about the risks involved in taking SSRIs during pregnancy. (Many doctors prescribe them anyway because, if the SSRI works to improve the mother’s mood, it would lead to “a better pregnancy result.”)

Urato says “there really is not a shred of evidence” supporting the benefits of anti-depressants for pregnant women.

Big Pharma Just Wants to Get Paid

Urato unapologetically points to Big Pharma. “It is a fact that these antidepressants have been very lucrative for the pharmaceutical industry…. It stands to reason to me that the drug makers would rather that the risks of these agents in pregnancy not receive widespread attention as that would be a reason for many women to not take the drugs in the first place or to stop taking them—both of which are not good for sales of the product.”

Downplaying the risks of drugs is hardly a new game for Big Pharma. In the name of profit, GlaxoSmithKline paid celebrity doctors—like Dr. Drew—to push and make off-label claims of drugs. It’s also been found that 70 percent of advisors to the newest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) have financial ties to pharmaceutical companies.

Not even the government is immune to funding. Although the Food and Drug Administration admits that antidepressants can worsen depression and increase risk of suicide, the public and private sectors alike push ineffective and harmful antidepressants on patients. This will likely continue despite an increasing number of studies linking SSRIs to pulmonary hypertension and cardiovascular malformations in newborns.

Be wary of taking medication during pregnancy, especially anti-depressants. “If you add up all the potential risks,” Domar says, “a lot of people would say they are unacceptable.”

Additional Sources:
The Telegraph
PubMed

How Mormon Doctrine Shapes Romney’s World View

by KIRK ROBINSON
As Mormon missionaries in the 1960s, Mitt Romney and I were required to present six “discussions” to “investigators” before baptizing them – he in France and I in northern California. Central to those discussions was the “Plan of Salvation” (POS); and central to it, the “Doctrine of Eternal Progression.” These doctrines are also the essence of the Mormon temple “endowment ceremony” in which covenants of allegiance to God and the Church are made, accompanied by oaths of secrecy.

The doctrines are unique to Mormonism and absolutely central to it. There is no way that Mitt Romney’s view of the world cannot have been shaped by them, especially given the rather cloistered life he has lived. Together with passages of Mormon scripture, they imply several disturbingly retrograde political views that define the Republican-Tea Party:
  • Women are subordinate to men.
  • People of color are, or were, morally underdeveloped compared to white people.
  • Gays cannot become gods, i.e., will be damned.
  • The correct political philosophy is libertarianism.
  • The best form of government fosters free-market capitalism with minimal regulatory oversight of business and industry.
  • Earth is only a temporary home to be used as a stepping stone, not necessarily to be preserved or conserved.
  • War in the Middle East is inevitable as part of God’s plan for “the last days.”
  • Lying for the cause of righteousness, such as winning the election, is morally acceptable.

The Plan of Salvation

This takes us back to before the creation of Earth, when we were spirit beings living in a “spirit world.” We were created out of “spirit matter” through a process of conception, gestation and birth involving a heavenly father (God) and mother on the planet Kolob. The firstborn spirit of our heavenly parents was Jesus, the second was Satan, and other notables included early Mormon leaders Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. They were especially “righteous” beings who were “fore-ordained” to play important roles in the historical unfolding of Mormon eschatology.

God eventually decided there were enough spirit children and it was time to start sending them away to college (my metaphor). So He created Earth and its myriad creatures for the college campus and solicited plans for a curriculum, graduation requirements, and future career tracks. Jesus and Satan each submitted a plan.

Jesus’s Plan

According to Jesus’s plan, the spirits who would decide to go to Earth would receive a mortal body, suffer and die, then be resurrected in a perfect union of spirit and body that would never suffer or die. A “veil of ignorance” would be placed across their minds so that they would not remember their pre-existence, and God’s commandments would be revealed to them through prophets. Importantly, they would have “free agency” to choose to obey them or not and would be responsible for their choices and actions.

Eternal Progression

All spirits who agreed to go along with Jesus’s plan will eventually receive resurrection as a graduation diploma and will be exalted to a level of glory commensurate with their earthly grades. The most righteous ones will receive the highest degree of eternal glory: the Celestial Kingdom. Others will go to the Terrestrial (middle) Kingdom or to the Telestial (lower) Kingdom. Each of these kingdoms is better than mortal existence, which is better than the spirit pre-existence. The three estates and the three kingdoms of glory represent a continuum of moral and material progress: an increase in righteousness leads to an increase in mastery and dominion over creation.

Satan’s Plan

Satan had a different plan. He knew that many spirits would be unable to resist temptations. He empathized with them and thought a much more compassionate plan would be to “force” them to live God’s commandments, so they could go to the Celestial Kingdom. The catch here is that they would have to be deprived of their free agency through dictatorial force. And this would be very bad because then they would not earn, and would therefore not merit, their eternal rewards.

There was another important difference between the two plans. Jesus told God that even though he would suffer for the sins of the world, he would give all glory for the salvation of mankind to God; while Satan said that since he devised the plan and would be doing all the work to ensure salvation for mankind, he would accept the glory for himself – and he wouldn’t have to suffer for people’s sins either, because they wouldn’t be allowed to sin.

War in Heaven

A “Council in Heaven” was held in which Jesus and Satan each pitched his plan. God liked Jesus’s plan best and gave the spirits an ultimatum, which was essentially this: “Follow Jesus or follow Satan of your own free agency. But if you follow Satan, you will be barred from eternal progression.” This fomented a “War in Heaven” in which one third of the spirits took sides with Satan and rejected Jesus’s plan, apparently out of sheer orneriness for they had nothing to gain thereby; and so they, along with Satan, were banished from the divine presence for all eternity.

The rest of us were eventually born into mortal bodies on Earth (with an untold number still waiting to be born), while Satan and his minions now occupy a kind of shadow Earth where they are constantly scheming and working to thwart Jesus’s plan.

The Status of Women

There was a rank order among all the spirits with respect to their degrees of righteousness. Jesus was the highest ranking spirit. Satan was second until his “fall.” The Biblical patriarchs and prophets were high achievers too, and so were “fore-ordained” to play a big role in the unfolding of the divine plan here on Earth. The rest of us were less stellar.

Because of the natural ranking of the spirits, there will be a roughly corresponding ranking among them as mortal beings too. Eternal progression can be compared to a foot race in which the starting points in the pre-existence were staggered according to the degrees of righteousness of the spirits, with the most righteous ones having a head start. Because of their superiority, they will tend to pull further ahead on Earth. The most righteous of all will naturally be great leaders and empire builders and the like. But for some inexplicable reason, the spiritual leaders will all be males. Women cannot hold the priesthood or become prophets in the Mormon Church, and they enjoy no ultimate decision-making authority. Their primary job is to serve men, which above all means homemaking, child bearing, and child rearing.

The Status of Blacks and American Indians

The more inferior spirits on Earth start at the back of the pack and tend to fall behind even while progressing. They are the descendants of Cain (Negroes) (here the race analogy tends to break down – pun intended) and the descendants of rebellious Laman and Lemuel in the Book of Mormon (Native Americans). God “marked” or “cursed” them with a dark skin to distinguish them. But because they have their free agency, through extra diligence they might eventually overcome their poor starts to join God’s elite. A 1978 “revelation” to then-Mormon prophet Spencer W. Kimball allowed blacks to hold the Mormon priesthood for the first time, presumably because they had then progressed sufficiently. There was once a passage in the Book of Mormon (it has been excised) that said the descendants of Laman and Lemuel would one day become “white and delightsome.”

Polygamy and the Status of Gays

The people who earn the best grades on Earth will get the best jobs upon graduation from Earth. They will be the most god-like beings and accordingly will receive Celestial glory. They will become gods, endlessly creating and ruling over their own cosmic empires. Also, despite the Mormon Church’s official repudiation of polygamy, which was a precondition for Utah statehood, it is still generally accepted that achieving godhood will require the institution of polygamy in the Hereafter, with husbands being “sealed” to multiple wives. Needless to say, gay people won’t participate in this, so they can’t become gods; which is to say that they will be damned in the sense of not continuing to progress for eternity.

Cosmic Pyramid Schemes

 It is a kind of axiom of Mormon doctrine that to be righteous is to follow “correct principles” that tend to produce successful and happy lives, conceived in both spiritual and material terms. Achieving godhood status is believed to be the highest possible source of happiness and joy. And presumably this grand POS will be repeated over and over for eternity, with new gods creating new worlds ad infinitum in a cosmic pyramid scheme. (This may go some distance in explaining why Utah is plagued to an unusual degree with earthly pyramid schemes in which trusting Mormons are bilked out of their life savings by trusted Mormons.)

The Status of Earth

 From the point of view of the POS, Earth and its myriad creatures exist primarily for the benefit of mankind, and thereby to glorify God. They are like a pair of shoes: It is prudent to take good care of your shoes, but their primary purpose is to help you get where you want to go, in the course of which wear and tear will be unavoidable. So don’t worry too much about global climate change or species extinctions. Yikes!

Free Agency vs. Compassion, Brotherly Love, and Cooperation

The POS illustrates the relative importance of two Mormon moral ideals: free agency, which entails taking responsibility for one’s choices and actions; and compassion, brotherly love, and cooperation, which require helping those in need. Each is in its own way commendable, but combining them in a way that is responsive to real circumstances can be challenging: Concerning people ostensibly in need, when is compassion the right response and when is demanding that they take responsibility for themselves the right response?

Of the two, free agency is in an important way more fundamental than compassion, as shown by the fact that God preferred a plan that emphasized the one over the other. It is more important than doing good deeds because only good that is done freely merits moral approbation and reward. Free agency is therefore a necessary condition for individual moral progress – and ultimately also for material progress as represented by gods creating worlds and exercising dominion over them. So far, so good, but . . .

The Right Form of Government and Economic System

The POS pretty clearly supports a libertarian political philosophy, including free market capitalism with minimal regulatory oversight of business and industry. Anything less would necessitate a sacrifice of free agency.

In this connection, it is interesting that in the early days of Mormons in Utah, Brigham Young attempted to establish a very pure socialistic system, the “United Order,” that would have made Karl Marx envious. In doing so, he was clearly giving precedence to compassion, brotherly love, and cooperation over competition. Why? One can presumably imagine a morally perfect being, such as Jesus, who always chooses and does what is right without being forced to; and Brigham Young thought the Saints ought to give it a try. Unfortunately, the experiment failed. Too many of the Saints gave in to avarice when they saw a chance to make money selling stuff to overland travelers. And they weren’t anxious to share their lucre either.

The Best of  All Possible Worlds? 

In Mormon terms, the best of all possible worlds will be one in which all people freely live God’s commandments. If compassion is called for, like the “good Samaritan” they will show compassion even at the expense of personal inconvenience. And they will share their talents and possessions freely to advance the greater good – as was supposed to happen with the United Order experiment. However, real people and the real world being what they are, an astonishing amount of human suffering goes unalleviated – suffering that might be prevented or relieved to a considerable extent through the institution of government programs designed to promote the general welfare, e.g., Social Security and universal health care. Yet paradoxically, given the ethical primacy of respect for free agency over the duty of compassion, from the point of view of the POS such a world must be reckoned morally inferior to one in which there is more human suffering, perhaps much more, but less state coercion. This fact doesn’t fit comfortably with Jesus’s message of love and compassion in the New Testament. Ouch!

Mormon Exceptionalism

A person who has been indoctrinated with Mormon dogma, especially if he is also a male born into a privileged social and economic position, is physically attractive, intelligent, and charismatic, might easily come to believe that he is one of the fore-ordained or “chosen ones” of God who will play a critical role in the events of the last days, including perhaps saving the United States Constitution when it is “hanging by a thread,” as predicted in the uncanonized “White Horse Prophecy” that was reputedly delivered by the Mormon Church’s founder Joseph Smith in 1843. It is known that Mitt Romney had such delusions of grandeur when he was younger. Does he still?

Sinning for the Lord

Because Mormon eschatology views human history, from the War in Heaven through Armageddon, as a continuing war between the two great forces of good and evil , sinning for the Lord” might at times be a moral necessity. Indeed, in the opening pages of the Book of Mormon, the most prominent hero of the book, a revered Mormon prophet named Nephi, murdered a man named Laban in order to steal a genealogical record of his people to take with his family to the Americas. This act was ethically justified as follows: “And it came to pass that the Spirit said unto me again: Slay him, for the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands; Behold the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes. It is better that one man should perish than a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief.” (1 Nephi 4:12-13) (One can’t help but think of Romney’s shameless shape-shifting and etch-a-sketching.)

Armageddon

According to Mormon eschatology, we are now in the “last days” of our earthly estate, which explains the official name of the Mormon Church: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Surely Armageddon is not far off, when the forces of righteousness will permanently conquer and subdue the forces of evil. This will usher in a millennium of peace in which Jesus will return to Earth to rule, assisted by the most worthy of God’s children, a good many of whom will of course be Mormons. These elite will include men who are leaders of men and empire builders the likes of Mitt Romney. They will also be members of the “House of Israel,” which consists both of the descendants of the Biblical patriarch Jacob and people who are “adopted” into the House of Israel by being baptized Mormons. From the Mormon perspective, this implies a special affinity between Mormons and Jews that is reinforced by a common history of persecution. It’s an obvious step from this to the conclusion that ineluctable Armageddon will involve a war between the righteous nation of Israel and its supporters on the one side, and its enemies on the other. As things presently stand, we are talking here about a war to end all wars between Israel and Iran and their respective allies. Just what we don’t need!

Tipping point

Our nation has reached a point of extreme political and moral polarization, with the Republican-Tea Party on one side and the Democrat Party on the other, each vying for command of our future. One can say, accurately enough, that the one side fervently embraces the propositions listed at the beginning of this essay, while the other side vehemently rejects them. It is to be expected, therefore, that the views of the respective presidential nominees reflect this same stark opposition. While it is hardly likely that the upcoming election will resolve this clash of values for once and for all, all the indications are that it will mark a singular, momentous, and irreversible turning point in our nation’s history.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Mitt Romney reveals a bit too much about his Mormon faith

The more people who see this, the bigger the bullet to the head of Romney's campaign. He has been actively denying some of the things he says he believes in on this video.  It's very damning in that it's more proof that Romney WILL say ANYTHING to get elected. Even the major players of the GOP can't stand him--one of the FOX News spinners even says Romney seems like he was built in a lab by German scientists. Even though there are stacks of proof (like the following videos) showing him outright LYING, he still denies it, over and over. Is he being told to do that? Or is it his own idea to just deny everything he says if it contradicts what he's saying today? In one case, he says the opposite of what he had just said 2 minutes prior. It's unreal that this is all the Republicans could come up with. It's a joke!

Israel to stay on its own if Iran is attacked, US warns

Published: 01 November, 2012 | RT


A military strike on Iran by way of Israel could still occur at a moment’s notice, but the US is now warning its allies that any action overseas would jeopardize America’s ability to assist in a Middle East war.
Although US President Barack Obama and his challenger Mitt Romney both say the next administration will be aligned with any Israeli efforts to prevent Iran from procuring a nuclear weapon, any unilateral strike on the Islamic Republic could prevent America from offering its service in the event of a war.

The United States currently has military bases across much of the world, including key stations in Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Oman. Should Israel decide to strike Iran, instability in the region is expected to become rampant and American officials fear they won’t be able to rely on troops stationed overseas to come to their ally’s aid.

“The Gulf states’ one great fear is Iran going nuclear. The other is a regional war that would destabilize them,” a source in the region tells the UK’s Guardian. “They might support a massive war against Iran, but they know they are not going to get that, and they know a limited strike is not worth it, as it will not destroy the program and only make Iran angrier.”

A war overseas is less hypothetical than officials have let on, though, and could be a very likely reality. Earlier this week, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told London's Daily Telegraph that his nation all but launched an assault on Iran only eight months ago when the country was thought to be close to going nuclear. At the last moment, though, Iran apparently diverted part of its enriched uranium to civilian programs, prompting Israel to pull the plug on a planned preemptive aerial assault.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, recently went on the record with the French magazine Paris Match to say he thinks any strike to stop a nuclear Iran would be well received, despite warnings from others that the Middle East would erupt instantly, especially given the rampant disruptions spurred in recent months through the Arab Spring.

"Five minutes after [an attack], contrary to what the skeptics say, I think a feeling of relief would spread across the region," Netanyahu said. "Iran is not popular in the Arab world, far from it, and some governments in the region, as well as their citizens, have understood that a nuclear-armed Iran would be dangerous for them, not just for Israel."

Emile Hokayem, a senior fellow of the International Institute for Strategic Studies office in Bahrain, tells the Guardian, "I don't believe the Gulf states are praying for an Israeli attack.”

"An attack would create difficult problems for them on the political level. They will be called on to denounce Israel, and they will want to stay out of it. The risk of regional war to them is huge," he said.

On their part, Iran has vowed to attack America if Israel decides to strike first — regardless of whether or not there is any military action from the US.

“We will enter a confrontation with both parties and will definitely be at war with American bases should a war break out,” Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said in a statement this past September.

Congressional Research Service Report On Tax Cuts For Wealthy Suppressed By GOP

Ryan Grim  | Huffington Post

The New York Times reported on Thursday that Senate Republicans applied pressure to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) in September, successfully persuading it to withdraw a report finding that lowering marginal tax rates for the wealthiest Americans had no effect on economic growth or job creation.

"The pressure applied to the research service comes amid a broader Republican effort to raise questions about research and statistics that were once trusted as nonpartisan and apolitical," the Times reported. Democrats in Congress, however, have resurfaced the report and published it in full. It can be read below.

Republicans told the Times they had issues with the tone, wording and scope of the report, but they clearly objected most strongly to its findings, which undermine the governing fiscal philosophy of the party, that tax cuts for the wealthy will spur growth and benefit everybody.

GOP officials told The Times that the decision by the CRS came after a cooperative discussion, but Democrats have suggested that the move is part of a broader effort by Republicans to squelch legitimate research that runs counter to their economic principles.

The CRS report, by researcher Thomas Hungerford, concluded:
The results of the analysis suggest that changes over the past 65 years in the top marginal tax rate and the top capital gains tax rate do not appear correlated with economic growth. The reduction in the top tax rates appears to be uncorrelated with saving, investment, and productivity growth. The top tax rates appear to have little or no relation to the size of the economic pie. 
However, the top tax rate reductions appear to be associated with the increasing concentration of income at the top of the income distribution. As measured by IRS data, the share of income accruing to the top 0.1% of U.S. families increased from 4.2% in 1945 to 12.3% by 2007 before falling to 9.2% due to the 2007-2009 recession. At the same time, the average tax rate paid by the top 0.1% fell from over 50% in 1945 to about 25% in 2009. Tax policy could have a relation to how the economic pie is sliced—lower top tax rates may be associated with greater income disparities.
Rep. Sandy Levin of Michigan, the top Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, demanded the CRS explain its decision. "The impartial research and advice provided by CRS experts informs and strengthens the work of Congress. However, this valuable role hinges on the impartiality of CRS analysts and their freedom from political pressure. As with other non-partisan institutions, subjecting CRS analysts to political considerations undermines the legislative process and the American people’s trust in it," Levin wrote in a letter to CRS. "Therefore I was deeply disturbed to hear that Mr. Hungerford’s report was taken down in response to political pressure from Congressional Republicans who had ideological objections to the report’s factual findings and conclusion."

(Scroll down for Hungerford's response in the UPDATE.)

The report is extensive, but the reasoning behind its conclusion is fairly straightforward. The richest Americans are the least likely to spend extra money they get as a result of a tax cut, and are more likely to save it or invest it offshore. Those on the lower end of the economic spectrum, meanwhile, are the most likely to spend transfer payments they receive from the government.

A release by the Democratic Policy & Communications Center on Wednesday accused Republicans of attempting to bury the report because its "findings undermine a central tenet of Republican party orthodoxy on taxes." They included a copy of the original report, which is available below:

 
 

UPDATE: 5:45 p.m. -- Thomas Hungerford, the CRS researcher who produced the report, told HuffPost that he stands by it. "Basically, the decision to take it down, I think The New York Times article basically got it right, that it was pressure from the Senate minority to take it down," Hungerford said. "CRS reports go through many layers of review before they're issued and as far as the tone and the conclusions go, people who specifically look at the writing and the tone said it was okay. So it's not going to be that and as I can tell you outright, I stand by the report and the analysis in the report." Hungerford said that he had never experienced suppression like this before, and he pushed back on the GOP argument that he had only looked at the effect of tax cuts in the year immediately following enactment. Regardless, he said, Republicans argue that tax breaks for the rich will bring an immediate benefit to the economy, so their criticism is inconsistent. "I checked out three years and then five years and found that no, it doesn't change the results or the conclusion of my paper. So in a way, I find it interesting that they keep talking about the need to lower the top tax rate in order to stimulate the economy now," he said. 'It sounds like they're being a little inconsistent here." Despite the pressure, Hungerford said he'll continue doing his job in a nonpartisan way. "I'm not going to change. My job is to do economic analysis on issues that the Congress is comparing and quite frankly, I'm going to continue doing that. That's my job," he said. The Times reported that Hungerford has given $5,000 this election cycle to Democrats. HuffPost asked if that biased his report in any way. "I leave any political baggage at the door when I walk into my office and pick it up on my way out. I'm there to provide help to members of both parties, which I do," Hungerford said.

The Simpsons' Mr Burns Endorses Romney

Kinda funny...

The Great Regression



Illustrated by Robert Reich, Labor Secretary under Clinton, for his book BEYOND OUTRAGE.