Saturday, January 7, 2012

Why Abstinence-Only Sex Ed Makes Kids Into Bullies

Abstinence-only programs, with their emphasis on purity, marriage, and heterosexuality, create hostile environments.
January 6, 2012

Abstinence-only education creates a petri dish for bullying in schools. There is always a lot of back and forth about the efficacy of these programs, and I fall on the side that they demonstrably fail to reduce teen pregnancy, the rate of incidence of teen sex, or the transmission of sexutally transmitted infections (STIs) (all you have to do is look at Texas). In addition, however, I believe that the heyday of our federal investment in abstinence-only programs had a terrible collateral effect -- namely, kids who were "educated" in this way were more likely to bully and harass because they learned, in ways integral to abstinence provisions, outdated "traditional" ideas about gender and sexuality. Even kids whose parents talked to them at home, about contraception or healthy sex, were taught gendered rules and more and more of them appear to have enforced those rules to great harm.

To be clear, I am not saying teaching abstinence is the problem. But, teaching abstinence in the context of fully comprehensive, age-appropriate sex ed is qualitatively different from teaching abstinence-only. This is the problem. I am saying that there is something inherently harmful about cultures that insist on abstinence-only teaching.

From 1982 until 2010 funding for abstinence-only programs grew exponentially, from $4 million dollars in 1982 to $176 million in 2007. According to The Department of Health and Human Services, during almost the exact same period, 2001-2008, there was a steady rise of bullying at schools. Fourteen percent of students, ages 12 through 18 reported being bullied during school in 2001, a proportion thatmore than doubled, to 32 percent, in 2007. Some of the bullying increase might be attributable to better recognition and reporting, but I think that the almost straight line correlation in growth trends during that same period is interesting. A correlation is not necessarily a causation, but here is why I think that there is an intimate dynamic between the two trends:  READ MORE

Fraud and Folly: The Untold Story of General Electric's Subprime Debacle

The industrial giant jumped into the subprime business in 2004, lending blue-chip respectability to the market for risky home loans.

January 6, 2012

The following story was first published by The Center for Public Integrity. 

For General Electric Co., hawking subprime mortgages was a long way from making light bulbs and jet engines.

That didn't stop the industrial giant from jumping into the subprime business in 2004, lending blue-chip respectability to the market for risky home loans by paying roughly half a billion dollars to buy California-based WMC Mortgage Corp.

What GE got in the bargain, former WMC employees say, was a place where erstwhile shoe salesmen, ex-strippers and even a former porn actress could sign on as sales reps and make big money pushing home loans. WMC's top salespeople earned a million dollars a year or more and lived fast, swigging $1,000 bottles of Cristal and wheeling around in $100,000 Ferraris and Bentleys.  READ MORE

(I welcome comments for additions and remarks about this list
including any discoveries that need to be dramatized.) Thank you.

The Devil and Rick Santorum: Dilemmas of a Holy Owned Subsidiary

The father of the Investment Theory of Politics reveals what pundits are missing in the GOP's failure to lead its own electorate.

January 6, 2012

Election night in Iowa was a heavenly moment for Rick Santorum. As he marveled over the late breaking tidal wave of support that in just weeks had swept him from nowhere into a virtual tie with Mitt Romney for first place in the state’s Republican caucuses, the former Pennsylvania Senator gushed to supporters about the secret of his campaign’s success: “I’ve survived the challenges so far by the daily grace that comes from God. . . . I offer a public thanks to God.’’ 

But it was not God who saved Rick Santorum. He survived Iowa rather like a blind mole rat might someday outlive a nuclear exchange – by simply burrowing underground while Romney’s Super Pac incinerated Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry, and while Perry tried to demolish Ron Paul, whom he considered a more dangerous rival. In a state where 60% of those attending the 2008 GOP caucuses described themselves as “born again” or evangelicals, Santorum was the only ultra-conservative left for resigned evangelical leaders to swing behind.

Now, as the wall of Super Money comes down on him like a ton of gold bricks, Santorum is likely fated, like Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, and Perry himself, to flame out after a brief moment of glory and go back to working with the energy and health care enterprises that helped make him a millionaire after leaving the Senate.   READ MORE

Go Away, Daddy! The Revolting Bob Parsons and His Toxic Internet Empire

Bob Parsons of Go Daddy
If unbridled capitalism is the plague, Go Daddy Founder Bob Parsons and his horrible company are the infected boils on the body politic.

January 3, 2012

In late December, domain registrar Go Daddy spat on the notion of the open society by announcing support for the widely-denounced Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Technology firms and human rights activists quickly cried foul, revealing that the “copyright-enforcing” bill, with its overly broad definitions, was less about stopping piracy and more about restricting the flow of information to citizens. The firm caved to public pressure and withdrew support for the bill, which the US House Judiciary Committee will be voting on soon. The furore caused many Web sites (including AlterNet) to decide to pull their registrations from Go Daddy. And it shined a light on the notorious Go Daddy founder, cheekily and rather fondly profiled just days ago in the New York Times Magazine.

I refer to the Big Daddy himself, Bob Parsons.

Recently, Parsons sold 65 percent of Go Daddy to a private group led by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (well-known GOP supporters) for $2.25 billion – a move that will expand Go Daddy’s resources, products and global growth. Parsons will now step down as CEO, but states that his job "will pretty much continue as it has been" with a focus on the company's marketing strategy.

Parsons is one part P.T. Barnum and one part Howard Stern, so vulgar he makes Donald Trump seem refined by comparison. He first achieved notoriety with his Hooters approach to the erstwhile boring business of selling domain names. He threw taste to the wind and hired a porn actress as the first “Go Daddy Girl,” running ads featuring her "wardrobe malfunction" during the Super Bowl. Feminists howled; Parsons crowed. His business went gangbusters.  READ MORE

10 Ways Right-Wing Christian Groups Will Likely Shove Religion Down Your Throat This Year

A surging religious right means daunting challenges for keeping Church and State separate.

January 4, 2012

The following piece comes from Church and State Magazine, published by Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

You don’t have to look far or wide to see signs that the Religious Right was resurgent in 2011.
From the halls of Congress, where the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly urged public schools to post “In God We Trust” displays in classrooms, to the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., that was attended by 3,000 fundamentalist Christian activists, the Religious Right’s influence loomed large.

Since 2012 is an election year, we expect the Religious Right to use this growing influence to wage an all-out war to shape the U.S. government into a body that will do its bidding.
With that in mind, here are 10 of the biggest challenges, issues and concerns that Americans United expects to confront in the coming twelve months.
  • Improper Involvement of Religion in the 2012 Elections
  • School Voucher Onslaught in the States and Congress
  • The Catholic Bishops’ Crusade for ‘Religious Liberty’
  • Improper Religious Proselytizing in Public Schools
  • Faith-Based’ Funding and Hiring Bias
  • Government Promotion of Religious Symbols
  • Attacks on Religious Minorities
  • The Marriage War
  • Personhood’ Amendments Here, There and Everywhere
  • Religiously Based Censorship

Not an Employee? Herman Cain Had Mailing and Email Addresses at Koch's Americans For Prosperity HQ

Cain's campaign staff say he wasn't an employee of the Tea Party group founded by David Koch. But he did have a desk and an email address at its headquarters.

October 21, 2011

As the New Yorker's Jane Mayer wrote earlier this week, members of Herman Cain's campaign staff are loath to discuss his longstanding ties to Americans for Prosperity and the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, the organizing groups founded by billionaire David Koch, about whom Mayer famously wrote a comprehensive profile last year. AlterNet, which began reporting on Cain's ties to Koch last June, has learned that Cain's work for AFP at one time had all the appearances of a staff position.

In Mayer's 2010 exposé, "Covert Operations," she detailed the network of right-wing think tanks and organizations funded by David Koch and his brother Charles, principals in Koch Industries, the second-largest privately held company in the United States, according to Forbes.
Now, Mayer has turned her gaze to the ties between Koch and Cain, seeking to find out how much Cain earned from Americans for Prosperity and its foundation, and whether or not Cain has ever been considered an employee of either entity. She writesREAD MORE

The Grotesque Corporate Monstrosity Unleashed By Citizens United

Citizens United invites the worst corruption our democracy has witnessed since the Gilded Age. Mitt Romney is one of its biggest beneficiaries.

January 5, 2012

If Mitt Romney becomes president I’m to blame. Ten years ago I ran for the Democratic nomination for governor of Massachusetts — which would have given me the opportunity to whip Mitt Romney’s ass in the general election.

I blew it. In the final week of the primary I was neck and neck with the state treasurer, but then my money ran out, which meant my TV ads stopped. Declining the suggestion of my campaign manager to take out a second mortgage on my home, I frantically phoned anyone I could find who hadn’t yet contributed $500, the maximum state law allowed. I didn’t raise beans. In the end, the treasurer won the primary, Romney won the general election and became governor, and I went back to being a professor.

But my fantasy of beating Romney may be nothing more than a fantasy because Romney had — and still has — something I never did, and I’m not referring to his gleaming white teeth, carefully-coiffed hairline, or height. He has money, and he has connections to much more money.
Mitt Romney was and is the candidate of big money.  READ MORE

Why Obama May Be About to Give a Giant Handout Out to the Billionaire Koch Brothers

The Koch Brothers
The brothers control nearly 25% of the tar sands crude that is imported into the US and own mining companies, oil terminals, and refineries all along the Keystone XL route.

October 20, 2011

Here's a unique political strategy for you: in the lead up to a crucial election, as anti-corporate sentiment is sweeping the nation, consider giving a huge handout to a major corporation that happens to be your biggest political enemy and is already spending hundreds of millions to defeat you and your agenda.

If that seems too crazy to believe, welcome to the Obama 2012 campaign.
Right now, President Obama is faced with the most crucial environmental decisions he is going to face before the 2012 election: whether or not to approve the permit for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, a 1,700 mile fuse to the largest carbon bomb on the continent, the Canadian tar sands.
The Keystone XL isn't just an XL environmental disaster -- the nation's top climate scientists say that fully exploiting the tar sands could mean "essentially game over" for the climate -- it also happens to be an XL sized handout to Big Oil and, you guessed it, the Brothers Koch. You want fries with that?  READ MORE

The Patriot Act, Cyber-Edition

Lockheed Martin employees at work in the company's NexGen Cyber Innovation and Technology Center, which monitors internet threats, in Gaithersburg, Maryland. (photo: Eric Schulzinger/Lockheed Martin Corp.)
By Zachary Katznelson, American Civil Liberties Union
24 October 11

Cybersecurity is the new buzzword in Washington, capturing a wide range of potential responses to internet-related threats both real and imagined. Congress is starting to play a role, considering legislation that purports to make cyberspace more secure. But many of the solutions being offered echo those of the deeply flawed Patriot Act, enacted ten years ago this month.
Just as the Patriot Act swept aside long-standing constitutional protections against government prying into private lives, current cybersecurity proposals threaten to expand the government's ability to collect personal information - even when there is no indication that the people targeted have been involved in any wrongdoing.

Over the past decade, we have learned that such policies fail on two fronts: they are largely ineffective and they violate civil liberties.

The Patriot Act presumes that if the government could know more of what we do with our daily lives by monitoring our e-mails and phone calls, downloading our financial transactions, and tracking our locations, it could spot patterns and find terrorists. The Fourth Amendment's prohibition against unreasonable searches have mattered little as claims of national security swept such concerns aside.

Real-estate market again ripe for fraud

(Source: By Kenneth R. Harney, Boston Herald)

WASHINGTON — Could today’s seductive conditions in the housing market — severely marked-down prices, record low interest rates and hundreds of thousands of foreclosures waiting to be resold — be breeding new generations of the very practices that led to the crash?

In an ironic twist, there are signs that the wreckage left over from the housing bust may be reigniting dubious real-estate schemes and fraud. According to researchers:
–Property flippers are back in action in places like South Florida and Las Vegas, where condo prices crashed but are now seeing appreciation again in some areas.

–So-called “floppers” are defrauding banks by hijacking short sales at prices below what legitimate purchasers are willing to pay. In these schemes, realty agents obtain fraudulent appraisals to persuade banks to sell houses at below-market prices to investor groups. The investors then flip the houses at fair market prices to ordinary homebuyers and split the quick profits. –Creative “credit enhancement” companies are “renting” investors the bank-account balances they need to demonstrate to lenders that they have the financial wherewithal to qualify for a mortgage. The accounts are for real, but they don’t belong to the loan applicants who claim them. READ MORE

Jerry Sandusky grand jury report 12/7

  • Return to Early Lead post about the allegations

  • Friday, January 6, 2012

    The King of All Vegas Real Estate Scams


    A twisted tale of how homeowners were bilked by those they least suspected: their neighbors


    Before the market crashed and home prices tumbled, before federal investigators showed up and hauled away the community records, before her property managers pled guilty for conspiring to rig neighborhood elections, and before her real estate lawyer allegedly tried to commit suicide by overdosing on drugs and setting fire to her home, Wanda Murray thought that buying a condominium in Las Vegas was a pretty good idea.

    At first glance, Murray doesn’t look much like the type of person who would arrive in Las Vegas only to get tangled up in and eventually help unravel a complex criminal conspiracy. At 65, she stares out at the world through thick glasses. She is legally blind. Her eyes never quite seem to focus on any one thing. On a recent Friday morning, she sits at her dining room table wearing a zip-up leopard-print sweatshirt and recounts how she helped to foil a group of lawyers and contractors running amok in Sin City. “They didn’t think there would be four old ladies who wouldn’t put up with their stuff,” says Murray. “They really pissed me off.”  READ MORE

    Wednesday, January 4, 2012

    BofA Initiates New Loan Sharking Program - Excuse Me, Rate Hikes - For Small Business

    Posted: 03 Jan 2012 07:00 AM PST

    Remember when we floated banks all that money so they could lend to small businesses, and instead they used it to pay bonuses and shore up their profits? Ah, good times! Now Bank of America has decided to jack up small business owners by boosting their interest rates to payday-loan-type levels in order to build their "core" business:

    Bank of America Corp., under pressure to raise capital and cut risks, is severing lines of credit to some small-business owners who have used them to stay afloat.

    The Charlotte, N.C., bank is demanding that these customers pay off their credit line balances all at once instead of making monthly payments. If they can't pay in full, they are being offered new repayment plans for as long as five years, but with far higher interest rates than their original credit lines had.

    Business owners complain that BofA's credit squeeze is abrupt and could strain their small companies and even put them out of business. The credit cutoff is coming at a time when the California economy can't seem to catch a break, and bucks what the financial industry says is a new trend of easing standards on business loans.  READ MORE

    GOP Forces Country to Electronic Ballots... So Why Does Iowa Get Hand-Counted Paper Ones?

    On Iowa Caucus day 2012, Brad Friedman makes the salient point that while the GOP has pressured the country into using electronic ballots, they're maintaining the more reliable, accountable hand-counted method for today:

    In other words, Republicans will be relying on"Democracy's Gold Standard" when it comes to casting and counting ballots in their own election, in which they setall of the rules, even if they will not allow the same standards to be applied to elections in which Democrats will take part.    Read more

    Watch: Dash Cam Catches Cop Apparently Planting Evidence on Black Man

    The Utica Phoenix has obtained a video that shows two police officers making a traffic stop. During this stop, the dash camera on the squad car catches one officer suspiciously pull something out of his back pocket before placing it inside the car he had been searching. The cop emerges shortly after, holding and slickly shining a flash light on the same object, as if he had just seen it for the first time. It  looks a lot like a bag of drugs.

    It appears as though the officer is planting drugs on the man, who just as much appears to be black. The video is said to have been widely distributed around Utica's black community, where this sort of thing may not be as unlikely as one would hope. 
    The Utica Phoenix spoke to a black woman with a similar story:
    A recent Phoenix interview of a Black female resident of Utica charges that police kicked in the front door of her home without a warrant. Inside, the woman’s 83 year old handicapped mother was subject to police swarming through her house while they, ‘waited for a warrant.’
    The interviewed subject went on to explain that though she was allowed to enter when she returned home, to care for her terrified mother, police entered with a drug sniffing dog, once they were issued the warrant.  READ MORE

    Why 'Corporate Psychopaths' May Really be to Blame for the Recession

    Looks like the soulless SOBs who wrecked our economy may really be "corporate psychopaths," and yep, they are still in control of our financial institutions. 

    According to Bloomberg News:

    Clive R. Boddy, most recently a professor at the Nottingham Business School at Nottingham Trent University, says psychopaths are the 1 percent of "people who, perhaps due to physical factors to do with abnormal brain connectivity and chemistry" lack a "conscience, have few emotions and display an inability to have any feelings, sympathy or empathy for other people."

    As a result, Boddy argues in a recent issue of the Journal of Business Ethics, such people are "extraordinarily cold, much more calculating and ruthless towards others than most people are and therefore a menace to the companies they work for and to society."

    How do people with such obvious personality flaws make it to the top of seemingly successful corporations? Boddy says psychopaths take advantage of the "relative chaotic nature of the modern corporation," including "rapid change, constant renewal" and high turnover of "key personnel." Such circumstances allow them to ascend through a combination of "charm" and "charisma," which makes "their behaviour invisible" and "makes them appear normal and even to be ideal leaders."

    Will Fossil Fuel Companies Face Liability for Climate Change?

    It is one thing to do your own research, but it is another to deliberately deceive people, contributing to widespread harm primarily to retain profits.

    January 2, 2012

    In a recent article in National Journal, Americans for Prosperity (AFP) President Tim Phillips said there is no question that AFP and others like it have been instrumental in the rise of Republican candidates who question or deny climate science: “We’ve made great headway. What it means for candidates on the Republican side is, if you … buy into green energy or you play footsie on this issue, you do so at your political peril.”
    AFP is a section 501(c)(4) organization, meaning it does not have to disclose its donors, but has been tied to significant funding from the Koch Family Foundations - founded by the billionaire Koch brothers of Koch Industries – as well as smaller donations from companies like ExxonMobil. Koch Industries and ExxonMobil are among the largest funders of studies questioning climate change science, often drawn upon by conservative politicians to legitimize their view that regulation of greenhouse gases (GHGs) is not needed because the science is still under debate.
    These organizations and their supporters say they are just funding their own independent studies of climate change science. Yet these studies almost all go against observable scientific data to question global warming – so much so that one study funded in part by the Kochs that confirmed a rise in average world land temperature was regarded as an anomaly. Which raises the question: if these studies are largely designed not to shed light on climate change, but to create doubt and confusion to delay greenhouse gas regulations, why is it legal, and do those deliberately spreading misinformation face liability?  READ MORE

    Screwing Over Urban America: Why the GOP's Top Contenders Hate Cities

    For the Republican contenders, urban areas are out of sight and out of mind.

    January 3, 2012

    The Republican presidential primary has covered significant ground. Against a backdrop of Iowan cornfields, candidates have debated socialism, capitalism, immigration and American exceptionalism, and have even touched on the finer points of Shariah law and the Federalist Papers. One thing you don’t hear about is America’s cities and the ongoing, and growing, urban crisis.
    There are some oblique references, like Newt Gingrich’s suggestion that child labor laws be modified so that poor children can work as school janitors. “Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods,” mused Gingrich, “have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works … They have no habit of ‘I do this and you give me cash,’ unless it’s illegal.”
    Gingrich’s comment is a surviving dog-whistle politics that include new state laws to drug-test those on public assistance and the ongoing effort to cut food stamps (and Gingrich did call Obama the “food stamp president”). The specter of the black ghetto still scripts urban dwellers as villains (often as thieves robbing the citizen either directly, or as in this Rick Santorum comment, indirectly: “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them other people’s money”). But unlike the era of Ronald Reagan’s welfare queen, today cities are more ignored than attacked. And this goes well beyond Iowa.

    Thanks to Our Military Debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan, America's 'Superpower' Status Has Officially Ended

    The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have not only drained American treasure, but exposed the relative helplessness of the "sole superpower."

    January 3, 2012

    To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from here.  

    It was to be the war that would establish empire as an American fact.  It would result in a thousand-year Pax Americana.  It was to be “mission accomplished” all the way.  And then, of course, it wasn’t.  And then, almost nine dismal years later, it was over (sorta).

    It was the Iraq War, and we were the uninvited guests who didn’t want to go home.  To the last second, despite President Obama’s repeated promise that all American troops were leaving, despite an agreement the Iraqi government had signed with George W. Bush’s administration in 2008, America’s military commanders continued to lobby and Washington continued to negotiate for 10,000 to 20,000 U.S. troops to remain in-country as advisors and trainers.
    Only when the Iraqis simply refused to guarantee those troops immunity from local law did the last Americans begin to cross the border into Kuwait.  It was only then that our top officials began to hail the thing they had never wanted, the end of the American military presence in Iraq, as marking an era of “accomplishment.”  They also began praising their own “decision” to leave as a triumph, and proclaimed that the troops were departing with -- as the president put it -- “their heads held high.”

    'Citizens United' Unleashed a Monster: Why the Real Winner In the Iowa Caucuses Is the Big-Money Super PAC

    They can spend unlimited amounts of money. They don't disclose donors until after the votes are counted. They deluged Iowa with millions of dollars of harsh negative ads.

    January 4, 2012

    The real winner of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses may not be any of the Republican candidates, but a new political animal that is ugly, loud, anti-democratic and coming to your state in the upcoming primaries and caucuses: the super PAC. 
    These creatures—unleashed by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling allowing direct corporate funding for “electioneering ads”—are satellite political campaigns that supposedly act independently of the candidates.

    They can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money. They don't disclose donors until after the votes are counted. And they have been deluging Iowa with millions of dollars of harsh negative TV ads, from groups that are run by political consultants who have previously worked for the candidates.

    Tuesday, January 3, 2012

    Sentenced to Serving the Good Life in Norway

    Bastoy Prison in Norway. (Photo Courtesy of

    July 12, 2010, Time Magazine

    On Bastoy, an island 46 miles south of Oslo, [125] residents live in brightly colored wooden chalets, spread over one square mile of forest and gently sloping hills. They go horseback riding and throw barbecues, and have access to a movie theater, tanning bed and, during winter, two ski jumps. Despite all its trappings, Bastoy island isn't an exclusive resort: it's a prison.

    Bastoy's governor ... describes it as the world's first human-ecological prison — a place where inmates learn to take responsibility for their actions by caring for the environment. Prisoners grow their own organic vegetables, turn their garbage into compost and tend to chickens, cows, horses and sheep. The prison generally emphasizes trust and self-regulation: Bastoy has no fences, the windows have no bars, and only five guards remain on the island after 3 p.m. In an age when countries from Britain to the U.S. cope with exploding prison populations by building ever larger — and, many would say, ever harsher — prisons, Bastoy seems like an unorthodox, even bizarre, departure. But Norwegians see the island as the embodiment of their country's long-standing penal philosophy: that traditional, repressive prisons do not work, and that treating prisoners humanely boosts their chances of reintegrating into society. 

    Norway's system produces overwhelmingly positive results. Within two years of their release, 20% of Norway's prisoners end up back in jail. In the U.K. and the U.S., the figure hovers between 50% and 60%. Of course, Norway's ... prison roll lists a mere 3,300 inmates, a rate of 70 per 100,000 people, compared with 2.3 million in the U.S., or 753 per 100,000 — the highest rate in the world.

    Note: Why aren't other countries taking heed of Norway's excellent example? Part of the reason is that some companies make massive profits from the prison system. For more on this, click here.

    Duke, Google turn hog waste into clean energy

    December 26, 2011, San Francisco Chronicle/Los Angeles Times

    Loyd Bryant used to pump manure from his 8,640 hogs into a fetid lagoon, where it raised an unholy stink and released methane and ammonia into the air. The tons of manure excreted daily couldn't be used as fertilizer because of high nitrogen content. The solution to Bryant's hog waste problem was right under his nose - in the manure itself.  

    A new waste-processing system - essentially a small power plant - installed on his 154-acre farm uses bacteria to digest the waste and burns methane to produce electricity. It also converts toxic ammonia into forms of nitrogen that can be used as fertilizer for more profitable crops

    Waste-to-energy systems have been around for at least 15 years. But Duke University, which helped develop and pay for Bryant's system, says this one is the cleanest in existence - and virtually the only one that tackles all of the environmental problems created by animal waste. The system was built with off-the-shelf parts and simple design plans that are free for the asking. It's poised to become the standard for a cleaner waste-to-energy model that brings together farmers, utilities and private companies in an environmentally friendly effort. Bryant saves money on electricity and gets a cleaner farm. Improved air quality in his hog barns also means his pigs will have lower mortality rates and convert feed more efficiently, fattening Bryant's profits.
    Note: For reports from reliable sources on exciting new energy developments, click here.

    Decades later, a Cold War secret is revealed

    The KH-9 Hexagon, or Big Bird was considered the most successful space spy programs

    December 25, 2011, Boston Globe/Associated Press

    At one point in the 1970s there were more than 1,000 people in the Danbury area working on The Secret. And though they worked long hours under intense deadlines, sometimes missing family holidays and anniversaries, they could tell no one — not even their wives and children — what they did. They were engineers, scientists, draftsmen and inventors. It was dubbed “Big Bird’’ and it was considered the most successful space spy satellite program of the Cold War era. From 1971 to 1986 a total of 20 satellites were launched, each containing 60 miles of film and sophisticated cameras that orbited the earth snapping vast, panoramic photographs of the Soviet Union, China and other potential foes. 

    The film was shot back through the earth’s atmosphere in buckets that parachuted over the Pacific Ocean, where C-130 Air Force planes snagged them with grappling hooks. The scale, ambition and sheer ingenuity of Hexagon KH-9 was breathtaking. So too is the human tale of the 45-year-old secret that many took to their graves. Hexagon was declassified in September. “The question became, how do you hide an elephant?’’ a National Reconnaissance Office report stated at the time. It decided on a simple response: “What elephant?’’ Employees were told to ignore any questions from the media, and never confirm the slightest detail about what they worked on.

    Note: This is another excellent example of how government is able to keep huge projects secret, and how top secret military technology is often decades ahead of anything which has been publicly revealed. Note that even the existence of the National Reconnaissance Office, founded in 1960, was completely denied until it's existence was declassified in 1992. Does government lie to us? Without a doubt.

    Wall Street - a raw deal for the 100 percent

    December 29, 2011, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)

    Jon Corzine (center), a former governor of New Jersey and Goldman Sachs chairman, destroyed MF Global.

    The stunning reality is that five years into the financial meltdown, it's business as usual on Wall Street - outlandish rewards for insiders with downside for almost everyone else. Occupy Wall Street protesters are right - something is wrong - but they're not sure what. Let's revisit the latest debacle - the implosion of yet another Wall Street darling, MF Global. The fallout of its bad bets on European bonds is hitting home hard, even in rural America, where many of its agricultural customers work. As the eighth-largest bankruptcy filing in U.S. history, MF Global represents just about everything that is wrong on Wall Street. 

    1. The cult of a Wall Street superstar. 
    2. Gambling disguised as investing. 
    3. The bail-me-out syndrome. 
    4. Enormous conflicts of interest. 
    5. Leverage on a grand scale. 
    6. Failure of regulators and the reform law. 
    7. Misappropriation of client funds. 
    8. Worthless rating agencies. 
    9. Golden parachutes soaring high. 
    10. Breakdown of morality.  

    Wall Street will keep sucking huge sums out of our economy and putting 100 percent of us at risk unless the rules change. Most important, we must stop gambling and start investing again to build valuable companies. The next crisis will make 2008 look like a warm-up. Imagine how big the Occupy camps will be if that happens.

    Note: For a treasure trove of reports from reliable sources which provide detailed information on all the problematic dimensions of Wall Street's operations described in the article above, click here.

    Oil is more toxic than previously thought, study finds

    Photos from a UC Davis / NOAA study show the effects of phototoxicity in Pacific herring embryos. Embryos on the left are unexposed to oil; those on the right have been in oil and then exposed to sunlight and show cells destroyed. (Dr. Carol Vines, UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory)  

    Bad news for the Gulf of Mexico: a study released this week sheds new light on the toxicity of oil in aquatic environments, and shows that environmental impact studies currently in use may be inadequate. The report is to be published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
    The study, spearheaded by the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory in collaboration with NOAA, looked into the aftermath of the 2007 Cusco Busan spill, when that tanker hit the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and spilled 54,000 gallons of bunker fuel into the bay.

    The key finding involved the embryos of Pacific herring that spawn in the bay. The fish embryos absorbed the oil and then, when exposed to UV rays in sunlight, physically disintegrated. This is called phototoxicity, and has not previously been taken into account when talking about oil spills.

    US fights EU on airline carbon emissions
    EPA issues strong limits on mercury emissions from smokestacks
    Lawsuit challenges animal enterprise terror law as unconstitutional
    -- Dean Kuipers

    Photos: Alberta tar sands expanding rapidly

    A series of photos presented by National Geographic shows the rapid expansion of the oil sand mines around Fort McMurray, Alberta. (National Geographic)

    The tar sand mines in Alberta, source of the oil that may one day flow all the way from Canada to Texas through the Keystone XL Pipeline, are growing by enormous leaps and bounds. This superb series of satellite pictures, brought to you by National Geographic, tells the whole story.

    When the first mine opened alongside the pristine Athabasca River in 1967, oil extracted from oil sands (also known as tar sands) was too expensive to compete with liquid crude. But now, with oil prices hovering at about $100 US per barrel, the costly and environmentally taxing process of pulling bitumen out of the clay mixture makes it economically feasible.

    Processing, transporting and refining the oil is very energy intensive, however, producing 15% to 80% more carbon emissions than average petroleum products over their life cycle. The photos show the growth of huge piles of tailings leaching all manner of goo into the Athabasca River.

    The sands hold an estimated 1.75 trillion barrels of oil, the second-largest known deposit of oil in the world after the deposits in Saudi Arabia. The Alberta deposit is being developed by a host of international oil companies, though ConocoPhillips holds the largest stake.  FROM THE SITE: CLICK HERE

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    FBI tracking videotapers as terrorists?

    Video provided by the United States Humane Society shows a Chino, Calif., slaughterhouse worker prodding a downer cow with a forklift, an act that helped spur an overhaul of the state's animal welfare laws. Animal rights groups are under attack for using such images as part of their investigations into alleged animal abuse. New documents suggest that some such investigations may violate animal enterprise terrorism laws. (AP/Humane Society of the United States)

    The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force has recommended for many years that animal activists who carry out undercover investigations on farms could be prosecuted as domestic terrorists.

    New documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by activist Ryan Shapiro show the FBI advising that activists – including Shapiro – who walked onto a farm, videotaped animals there and “rescued” an animal had violated terrorism statutes.

    The documents, which were first published on Will Potter’s website, Green Is the New Red, were issued by the Joint Terrorism Task Force in 2003 in response to an article in an animal rights publication in which Shapiro and two other activists (whose names were redacted from the document), openly claimed responsibility for shooting video and taking animals from a farm.

    The FBI notes discuss the videotaping, illegal entry and the removal of animals, then concludes with “there is a reasonable indication that [Subject 1] and other members of the [redacted] have violated the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, 18 USC Section 43 (a).”  READ MORE