Saturday, October 13, 2012

History of the United States public debt

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In the United States, national debt is money borrowed by the federal government of the United States. Debt burden is usually measured as a ratio of public debt to gross domestic product.
Debt as a share of the US economy reached a maximum during Harry Truman's first presidential term. Public debt as a percentage of GDP fell rapidly in the post-World War II period, and reached a low in 1973 under President Richard Nixon. The debt burden has consistently increased since then, except during the presidencies of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. In recent years sharp increases in deficits and the resulting increases in debt have led to heightened concern about the long-term sustainability of the federal government's fiscal policies.[1] READ MORE

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Fact-Checkers Stymied as Romney and Ryan Recall Their Seafaring Days

Now that a half-dozen independent fact-checking organizations have cited candidates Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan for repeatedly lying about Obama’s record, Messrs. Romney and Ryan have begun telling whoppers that have nothing to do with their quest to hold the most powerful offices in the world.

Both candidates have stated that Obama ended the work requirement under welfare; that Obama closed a GM factory in Janesville, WI, when it was actually closed before he took office; and that his Affordable Care Act cuts $716 billion from Medicare benefits.

Fresh out of political falsehoods, but seemingly pathological fabulists, Romney and Ryan spun unverifiable yarns about their exploits at sea.

“Ahoy me fine reporters,” Ryan began the press conference. “If ye be lookin’ for gripping adventure on the high seas, Mitt Romney be the man for ye,” he said, gesturing to the Republican presidential hopeful.

Romney chortled and said, “Of course, Paul is only kidding. But he hoisted me mizzenmast and shivered me timbers, yar!”

At that, the two men laughed hysterically. When Ryan pulled himself together, he added, “No, no, really. As crewmembers aboard the Farley Mowat, we spent months hunting down the Japanese whaling fleet near Antarctica. Isn’t that right, Mitt?” READ MORE


The Conservative Psyche: How Ordinary People Come to Embrace Paul Ryan's Cruelty

Scientific research into the way we think explains the reasons decent people wind up supporting horrific policies.
August 19, 2012

Earlier this year, Democratic operatives looking for the best way to define Mitt Romney discovered something interesting about Paul Ryan's budget. The New York Times reported that when the details of his proposals were run past focus groups, they found that the plan is so cruel that voters simply refused to believe any politician would do such a thing.”

In addition to phasing out the Earned Income Tax Credit that keeps millions of American families above the poverty line and cutting funding for children's healthcare in half, Jonathan Cohn described the “America that Paul Ryan envisions” like this:
Many millions of working-age Americans would lose health insurance. Senior citizens would anguish over whether to pay their rent or their medical bills, in a way they haven’t since the 1960s. Government would be so starved of resources that, by 2050, it wouldn’t have enough money for core functions like food inspections and highway maintenance.READ MORE

Chemist in drug lab scandal posts $10,000 bail

Annie Dookhan  Finally Arrested
By Erin Smith, Joe Dwinell And O’ryan Johnson
Friday, September 28, 2012 -

Annie Dookhan, the former state chemist at the center of a massive lab scandal which may jeopardize thousands of drug cases, could face decades behind bars if convicted, said Attorney General Martha Coakley.

Dookhan, 34, pleaded not guilty this afternoon in Boston Municipal Court to two counts of obstruction of justice and falsely pretending to hold a degree from a college or university. She posted $10,000 bail late this afternoon.

Prosecutors said today Dookhan would sprinkle cocaine on negative test results, test them again, and report the positive finding; and test a few samples out of a batch of 25 and list them all as positive.

Coakley added Dookhan could face more charges as the investigation continues. Each obstruction charge carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

“This is not the end of the charging,” Coakley vowed.

State police arrested Dookhan this morning at her home in Franklin, leading her out of her modest split-level after handcuffing her inside shortly before noon. She did not speak and kept her head down as she was led down her walkway in front of reporters to one unmarked police car, then again to a cruiser which sped away up the suburban street not far from Interstate 495 with the rogue chemist inside.  READ MORE

‘Frightening’ influx of criminals feared

Eyed as fallout from drug lab scandal

By Dave Wedge


Coming to the night sky, the comet fifteen times brighter than the moon

Comet ISON is so named because it was first spotted on
photos taken by Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok
from Russia using the International Scientific Optical
Network telescope Photo: E. Guido, G. Sostero and
N. Howes
September 26, 2012, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)

Astronomers have discovered a new supercomet that will be fifteen times brighter than the moon when it crosses the night sky next year. 

Calculations show that the celestial visitor could be dazzlingly bright in November 2013 and be easily visible in broad daylight as it rounds the Sun. 

Comet ISON is so named because it was first spotted on photos taken by Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok from Russia using the International Scientific Optical Network telescope. 

It is currently very faint because it is out in the depths of space near Jupiter's orbit. But it will steadily brighten over the coming months until it passes less than two million km from the Sun on November 28. 

That makes it a type of comet called a sungrazer, and there is a risk that the comet - essentially a giant ball of rock and ice, will break up when it makes that close approach. Comet ISON, which has the official label C/2012 S1, appears to be on a nearly parabolic orbit which leads scientists to believe that it is making its first trip through the Solar System. 

This means it may have been dislodged from a vast reservoir of icy debris surrounding the Sun far beyond the planets, called the Oort Cloud. It is a giant ball of rock and ice that is likely to be packed with volatiles including water ice that will erupt as brilliant jets of gas and dust when it is at its best. READ MORE

Why the US demonises Venezuela's democracy

October 3, 2012, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)

On 30 May, Dan Rather, one of America's best-known journalists, referred to [Venezuelan president Hugo] Chávez as "the dictator" – a term that few, if any, political scientists familiar with the country would countenance. 
Here is what Jimmy Carter said about Venezuela's "dictatorship" a few weeks ago: "As a matter of fact, of the 92 elections that we've monitored, I would say that the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world." Carter won a Nobel prize for his work through the election-monitoring Carter Center, which has observed and certified past Venezuelan elections. The opposition will probably lose this election ... because the living standards of the majority of Venezuelans have dramatically improved under Chávez. 
Since 2004, when the government gained control over the oil industry and the economy had recovered from the devastating, extra-legal attempts to overthrow it (including the 2002 US-backed military coup), poverty has been cut in half and extreme poverty by 70%. And this measures only cash income. 
 Millions have access to healthcare for the first time, and college enrolment has doubled, with free tuition for many students. Inequality has also been considerably reduced. By contrast, the two decades that preceded Chávez amount to one of the worst economic failures in Latin America, with real income per person actually falling by 14% between 1980 and 1998. 
In Washington, democracy has a simple definition: does a government do what the state department wants it to do?
Note: For a powerful movie which shows how much our media distorts our perception of global events, watch "The Revolution Will Not be Televised" about Venezuela and Hugo Chavez at this link
For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on mass media corruption, click here.

Billionaire Koch brothers try to buy state’s court

Koch Brothers
September 29, 2012, Miami Herald

The new stealth campaign against three Florida Supreme Court justices is being backed by those meddling right-wing billionaires from Wichita, Charles and David Koch. 
 Last week they uncorked the first of a series of commercials from their political action committee, Americans for Prosperity. The targets are Justices R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince. They were three of the five-vote majority that in 2010 knocked down a half-baked amendment slapped together by state lawmakers seeking to nullify the federal Affordable Health Care Act. 
The Florida Supreme Court upheld lower court decisions in finding that the proposed amendment contained “misleading and ambiguous language,” the hallmark of practically everything produced by this Legislature. 
On the November ballot, Lewis, Pariente and Quince are up for merit retention, meaning voters can choose to retain them or not. This simple system was put in place to keep the state’s high court above the sleaze of political races.  
The mission of the Kochs, hiding as always behind their super PAC, is to get the three justices dumped at the polls so that Gov. Rick Scott can appoint replacements. 
The last thing these guys want is fair judges who know the law; they want partisan judges who’ll obediently support their political agenda. It’s worse than just trying to buy an election. It’s trying to hijack Florida’s justice system at the highest levels.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the control of elections by corporations and rich individuals, click here.

Study: Scientific research fraud on the rise

Fraud in scientific research, while still rare, is growing at a troubling pace, a new study finds. A review of retractions in medical and biological peer-reviewed journals finds the percentage of studies withdrawn because of fraud or suspected fraud has jumped substantially since the mid-1970s. 
In 1976, there were fewer than 10 fraud retractions for every 1 million studies published, compared with 96 retractions per million in 2007. The study authors aren't quite sure why this is happening. But they and outside experts point to pressure to hit it big in science, both for funding and attention, and to what seems to be a subtle increase in deception in overall society that science may simply be mirroring. 
Fraud in life sciences research is still minuscule and committed by only a few dozen scientific scofflaws. However, it causes big problems, said Arturo Casadevall, a professor of microbiology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. 
Casadevall is the lead author of the study which looked at the reasons for 2,047 retractions among many millions of studies published in journals and kept in a government database. Fraud was the No. 1 cause of retractions, accounting for 43 percent of them. 
When fraud was combined with other areas of misconduct, such as plagiarism, it explained about 2 out of 3 retractions, the study found. "Very few people are doing it, but when they do it, they are doing it in areas that are very important," Casadevall said. "And when these things come out, society loses faith in science."
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on corruption in science, click here.

How lawmakers and lobbyists keep a lock on the private prison business

The three largest private prison companies in the US
spent $45m on lobbying over the last decade.
Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters
Private prison corporations say they don't lobby on custodial policy. They seem to find legislators with views aligne

America's three largest private prison companies ... spent in the region of $45m over the past 10 years in lobbying state and federal governments. During the same period, these companies saw their profits soar as they scored more government contracts. [Also] during the same period, various pieces of legislation got passed ensuring that immigrant detention, in particular, would remain a lucrative growth market.

Thanks to mandatory sentencing laws and the "war on drugs", the prison population has exploded over the past 30 years – to the point where it has become an untenable burden on state budgets. The private prison business [is] reliant on state and federal governments to provide them with their customer base: that is, bodies to fill their cells.

The companies maintain that their lobbying efforts have nothing to do with this expansion and insist that it is their policy to "expressly prohibit their lobbyists from working to pass or oppose immigration legislation", such as the Arizona immigration bill SB1070, which provides for the mandatory detention of immigrants who cannot produce papers on request. [Then] where are the private prison firms spending those millions of lobbying dollars?

A report compiled by the Justice Policy Institute issued in 2011 and using data from the National Institute on Money in State Politics found that between 2003 and 2010, the [Corrections Corporation of America] contributed a total of $1,552,350 to state election campaigns.

Approximately half was to candidates, more than a third was to party committees and around one tenth was spent on ballot measures. Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on corruption in the prison/industrial complex, click here.

Intelligence Effort Named Citizens, Not Terrorists

This Aug. 25, 2004 file photo shows unidentified analysts
at the Combined Intelligence and Fusion Center for
NORAD/Northcom in Colorado Springs, Colo. A
multibillion-dollar information-sharing program that was
created in the aftermath of 9/11 has improperly collected
information about innocent Americans and produced no
valuable intelligence on terrorism, according to a Senate
report that describes an effort that ballooned far beyond
anyone’s ability to control. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski/File)
A multibillion-dollar information-sharing program created in the aftermath of 9/11 has improperly collected information about innocent Americans and produced little valuable intelligence on terrorism, a Senate report concludes. 
It portrays an effort that ballooned far beyond anyone's ability to control. What began as an attempt to put local, state and federal officials in the same room analyzing the same intelligence has instead cost huge amounts of money for data-mining software, flat screen televisions and, in Arizona, two fully equipped Chevrolet Tahoes that are used for commuting, investigators found. 
 The report underscores a reality of post-9/11 Washington: National security programs tend to grow, never shrink, even when their money and manpower far surpass the actual subject of terrorism. 
When fusion centers did address terrorism, they sometimes did so in ways that infringed on civil liberties. The centers have made headlines for circulating information about Ron Paul supporters, the ACLU, activists on both sides of the abortion debate, war protesters and advocates of gun rights. 
One fusion center cited in the Senate investigation wrote a report about a Muslim community group's list of book recommendations. Others discussed American citizens speaking at mosques or talking to Muslim groups about parenting. No evidence of criminal activity was contained in those reports. The government did not circulate them, but it kept them on government computers. The federal government is prohibited from storing information about First Amendment activities not related to crimes.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on civil liberties, click here.

Energy firm uses 'land grabs' to secure fracking rights from reluctant landowners

Ranjana Bhandari and her husband, Kaushik De,
stand near a Chesapeake Energy gas well in Arlington,
Texas, on Sept. 16, 2012.
October 2, 2012, NBC News

Ranjana Bhandari and her husband knew the natural gas beneath their ranch-style home in Arlington, Texas, could be worth a lot - especially when they got offer after offer from Chesapeake Energy Corp. 
Their repeated refusals didn't stop Chesapeake, the second-largest natural gas producer in the United States. 
This June, after petitioning a Texas state agency for an exception to a 93-year-old statute, the company effectively secured the ability to drain the gas from beneath the Bhandari property anyway -- without having to pay the couple a penny. 
In fact, since January 2005, the Texas agency has rejected just five of Chesapeake's 1,628 requests for such exceptions. Chesapeake's use of the Texas law is among the latest examples of how the company executes what it calls a "land grab" -- an aggressive leasing strategy intended to lock up prospective drilling sites and lock out competitors.  
Chesapeake has become the principal player in the largest land boom in America since the California Gold Rush of the late 1840s and ‘50s, amassing drilling rights on more land than almost any U.S. energy company. After years of leasing tracts from New York to Wyoming, the company now controls the right to drill for oil and gas on about 15 million acres -- roughly the size of West Virginia.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on corporate corruption, click here.

Pesticide use ramping up as GMO crop technology backfires: study

U.S. farmers are using more hazardous pesticides to fight weeds and insects due largely to heavy adoption of genetically modified crop technologies that are sparking a rise of "superweeds" and hard-to-kill insects, according to a newly released study. 
Genetically engineered crops have led to an increase in overall pesticide use, by 404 million pounds from the time they were introduced in 1996 through 2011, according to the report by Charles Benbrook, a research professor at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University.
Of that total, herbicide use increased over the 16-year period by 527 million pounds while insecticide use decreased by 123 million pounds. 
Herbicide-tolerant crops were the first genetically modified crops introduced to world, rolled out by Monsanto Co. in 1996, first in "Roundup Ready" soybeans and then in corn, cotton and other crops. Roundup Ready crops are engineered through transgenic modification to tolerate dousings of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide. 
In recent years, more than two dozen weed species have become resistant to Roundup's chief ingredient glyphosate, causing farmers to use increasing amounts both of glyphosate and other weedkilling chemicals to try to control the so-called "superweeds. Resistant weeds have become a major problem for many farmers reliant on GE crops, and are now driving up the volume of herbicide needed each year by about 25 percent," Benbrook said.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the environmental and health risks posed by GMO foods, click here.

Letters by Sandusky, wife blame everyone else

Jerry Sandusky
By Ann O'Neill, CNN
updated 12:52 AM EDT,
Thu October 11, 2012

Bellefonte, Pennsylvania (CNN) -- When all was said and done, Jerry and Dottie Sandusky did not ask the judge for mercy. They did not try to extol Jerry's virtues, list good deeds or express regret. Instead, they depicted the boys he sexually assaulted as ungrateful and called them liars.

They blamed the young men -- including their own adopted son, Matt, who now claims he, too, was molested -- for their downfall.

In letters to the judge who would sentence the former coach, the Sanduskys portrayed themselves as virtuous victims of a vast conspiracy. They blamed powerful, image-conscious forces at Penn State University, lying cops, ambitious prosecutors and a scandal-hungry news media.

The couple's letters were mentioned in court on Tuesday but not read aloud. Judge John Cleland and the Centre County courts made them public, and CNN obtained copies.  In them, Jerry Sandusky expressed little sympathy for the 10 boys he was convicted of molesting. As he wrote about their families, he tried to shift the blame, pointing out that the boys came from unstable homes.

"Nobody mentioned the impact of abandonment, neglect, abuse, insecurity and conflicting messages that the biological parents might have had in this," he wrote. He said nothing about the damaged lives and institutions his molestation case left in its wake.  READ MORE