Saturday, January 14, 2012

Maher: Santorum thinks about gay sex more than a dildo salesman

By David Edwards
Friday, January 13, 2012

Bill Maher on Thursday said that there was a connection between Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum’s sexual frustration and his desire to bomb Iran.
In an interview with Chelsea Handler, Maher explained that former candidate Herman Cain was scheduled to appear on an upcoming episode of his HBO show.
“I like Herman Cain,” Maher admitted. “You know, I said to him, I said, “Look, I don’t like hate your fucking guts like I hate Newt Gingrich.’ I mean, I really don’t like him.”

“No, I hate Newt Gingrich,” Handler agreed. “And everyone watching also hates them, OK?”
Mayer said, however, that former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum was the most ridiculous candidate because of his views on gay rights.  READ MORE

The video:

Do You Know Where Your Medicine Came From? Over 40% of Pills Made Overseas -- Many in Unregulated Factories

Here's a look a look at where the stuff in your medicine cabinet comes from.

January 9, 2012

Headaches. Insomnia. Anxiety. American medicine cabinets are packed with remedies for these common maladies. And up to 40 percent of them are manufactured overseas (along with 80 percent of active ingredients for pharmaceuticals). But a recent report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office estimated that in fiscal year 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration visited just 11 percent of the 3,765 foreign factories it is responsible for inspecting — compared to 40 percent of domestic factories. In 2008, the GAO found that the FDA took two to five years to follow up with foreign plants it cited for safety issues — if it followed up at all. 

In 2008, 30 products made by a single Indian company were banned by the FDA, and a tainted batch of the blood thinner heparin from one of many hundreds of Chinese pharmaceutical plants was linked to 81 U.S. deaths.   READ MORE

Don't Be Fooled -- Why the Tea Party Is More Powerful Than Ever

The Tea Party has proved itself spectacularly adept at two tasks: exacting promises and submission from presidential candidates and setting the Republican policy agenda.

January 9, 2012

Go to the panels with the boring names. That’s the secret to any political conference. Flashy names are candy floss meant to tempt you into meetings that at best will tell you what you already know, and at worst will bore you mindless.

That’s the approach I take, anyway, at the 2011 Defending the American Dream Summit, the annual megaconfab put on by Americans for Prosperity. This is the Tea Party group chaired by the billionaire industrialist David Koch with a budget, at last measure, of more than $40 million. Herman Cain, Mitt Romney, and Rudy Giuliani are all here to address thousands of Tea Partiers. But the actual planning is happening in small rooms, under titles like “Property Rights in Peril.” I head inside to find AFP’s petite Oregon director, Karla Kay Edwards, clicking “Play” on a PowerPoint. We see a map of the United States with public lands marked in red.
“Dead capital is property that has no possibility of securing property rights on it,” says Edwards. “Folks, I submit to you that everything in red has no possibility of securing property rights on it.”

A few dozen Tea Party activists take it in, scribble down notes. They’re spending two days in Washington, D.C., on heavily discounted tickets. If they live close by—Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina—odds are that they took a chartered bus here with fellow Tea Partiers. They’re the vanguard of the movement, Republican precinct chairs and campaign volunteers, and they are learning that the 2012 elections won’t count for much unless victory results in a huge sell-off of public lands.  READ MORE

Romney Screams "Pampered Elite": How Toxic Will His 1% Image Be in the Election?

Romney's nomination could be problematic for the GOP for a very unique reason that is now coming into focus: He exudes top 1 percent-ness.

January 13, 2012

Among those who have put themselves forward, Mitt Romney remains the Republican Party’s best bet to reclaim the White House this year – by far.
This is partly by default, a product of the almost comical deficiencies of his opponents, but Romney does deserve credit for assembling the most professional campaign organization on the GOP side and for stepping up his game compared to four years ago and turning in a series of impressively punchy and agile debate performances. As he showed with his New Hampshire victory speech this week, Romney is capable of delivering a forceful indictment of the Obama presidency that (however misleading it is) could resonate with swing voters this fall if they are looking for a reason to fire the incumbent.
Still, his nomination could be problematic for the GOP for a very unique reason that is now coming into focus: He exudes top 1 percent-ness.  READ MORE

How Genetically Modified Foods Could Affect Our Health in Unexpected Ways

Yet another reason to test GMOs for safety.

January 11, 2012

Chinese researchers have found small pieces of rice ribonucleic acid (RNA) in the blood and organs of humans who eat rice. The Nanjing University-based team showed that this genetic material will bind to receptors in human liver cells and influence the uptake of cholesterol from the blood.

The type of RNA in question is called microRNA (abbreviated to miRNA) due to its small size. MiRNAs have been studied extensively since their discovery ten years ago, and have been implicated as players in several human diseases including cancer, Alzheimer's, and diabetes. They usually function by turning down or shutting down certain genes. The Chinese research provides the first in vivo example of ingested plant miRNA surviving digestion and influencing human cell function in this way.  READ MORE

Confiscating Condoms? The Dumbfounding Ways Police Deal With Prostitution

Photo Credit: coreyann on Flickr
Each year, scores of new laws are proposed to make prostitution somehow even more illegal than it already is.

January 13, 2012

It's not enough for some lawmakers that for the better part of a century, selling and buying sex has been illegal in every state of the union. (The exception is the system of legalized brothels dotting a handful of low-population counties in Nevada, the existence of which has done little to deter an underground, illegal sex trade.) Each year, scores of new laws are proposed to make prostitution somehow even more illegal than it already is.  

These laws against prostitution don't simply increase penalties for buying or selling sex; they extend to creating criminal consequences for every aspect of sex workers' lives. After just one prostitution arrest, a person can be denied a job, an apartment, or the right to parent her children. She could find herself followed by police just for leaving her home.

Though it's now fashionable for some anti-prostitution activists and lawmakers to position these laws as being of aid to prostitutes, there is absolutely no moral or legal basis for arresting and jailing a person “for her own good.” Yet this is what we have been told about sex workers: that the conditions of prostitution are so horrific that a jail cell is preferable. For sex workers who escape that cell, they still must face the consequences of their prostitution arrest, and in some cases, for the rest of their lives. Today's new anti-prostitution laws don't stop anyone from buying or selling sex – instead, they serve as tools for chipping away at people's rights through profiling and surveillance, a 21st-century continuation of the Scarlet Letter, establishing an entire underclass of people.  READ MORE

Report: US, Afghan Troops Forced Locals to Walk Mined Road

Villagers in Afghanistan say they were forced to walk ahead of Afghan and U.S. Soldiers along roads in areas believed to be mined by the Taliban.

National Public Radio reports villagers said the Afghan and U.S. troops pulled them from their homes one evening in early September and forced them to walk in front of the troops for more than a mile in the Panjwai district, southwest of Kandahar city.

No one was injured, but if the incident happened, it would appear to violate the Geneva Conventions governing treatment of civilians, NPR said.

The Afghan general in charge of Afghan troops in the Panjwai district and Panjwai's district governor denied the villagers' accounts, while a spokesman for NATO's joint command said the incident was under investigation.   READ MORE

John Bolton Admits All of These Wars Are for Oil

During an interview on Fox News, John Bolton let it slip that we have been fighting wars for oil. (photo: EPA) 
By SaveOurSovereignty3

25 October 11

Selling the Right to Live in America

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

25 October 11

Why we shouldn't be selling the right to live in America.

merica is having a fire sale. Why not sell wealthy foreigners the right to live here, too?

That's the notion behind a bill introduced last week by Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah and Democrat Senator Charles Schumer of New York: Stoke demand for American homes by allowing foreign nationals to buy them. In return, give foreigners the right to live here (although not work here).

The price? At least $500,000 cash. It could be one piece of real estate costing $500,000 or more, or several - one would have to be worth at least $250,000.

Presumably, this would help homeowners by boosting demand. "This is a way to create more demand without costing the federal government a nickel," Schumer told the Wall Street Journal.
And it would help the Street. Rather than have the big banks carry all those non-performing mortgage loans on their books or be forced to write them down, we'll just goose the housing market by selling off the right to live in America.  READ MORE

East Bay firm keeps log of private cars' locations

Sacramento's Arden Fair mall uses eight license plate scanners. The mall's security chief says the scanners have led to dozens of arrests and a significant decrease in car thefts.

Capitalizing on one of the fastest-growing trends in law enforcement, a private company in Livermore has compiled a database bulging with more than 550 million bits of information that let police know when and where specific license plates of both innocent and criminal drivers were spotted.
The technology has raised alarms among civil libertarians, who say it threatens the privacy of drivers. It's also evidence that 21st century technology may be evolving too quickly for the courts and public opinion to keep up. The U.S. Supreme Court is only now addressing whether investigators can secretly attach a GPS monitoring device to cars without a warrant.
A ruling in that case has yet to be handed down, but a telling exchange occurred during oral arguments. Chief Justice John Roberts asked lawyers for the government if even he and other members of the court could feasibly be tracked by GPS without a warrant. Yes, came the answer.

Glenn Greenwald: The Real Reason the GOP Primary Is a Pathetic, Incompetent Clown Show

Because Barack Obama has adopted so many core Republican beliefs -- particularly in the realm of foreign policy -- the Republican race is a shambles.
December 27, 2011  |

American presidential elections are increasingly indistinguishable from the reality TV competitions drowning the nation's airwaves. Both are vapid, personality-driven and painfully protracted affairs, with the winners crowned by virtue of their ability to appear slightly more tolerable than the cast of annoying rejects whom the public eliminates one by one. When, earlier this year, America's tawdriest (and one of its most-watched) reality TV show hosts, Donald Trump, inserted himself into the campaign circus as a threatened contestant, he fitted right in, immediately catapulting to the top of audience polls before announcing he would not join the show.

The Republican presidential primaries – shortly to determine who will be the finalist to face off, and likely lose, against Barack Obama next November – has been a particularly base spectacle. That the contest has devolved into an embarrassing clown show has many causes, beginning with the fact that GOP voters loathe Mitt Romney, their belief-free, anointed-by-Wall-Street frontrunner who clearly has the best chance of defeating the president.

In a desperate attempt to find someone less slithery and soulless (not to mention less Mormon), party members have lurched manically from one ludicrous candidate to the next, only to watch in horror as each wilted the moment they were subjected to scrutiny. Incessant pleas to the party's ostensibly more respectable conservatives to enter the race have been repeatedly rebuffed. Now, only Romney remains viable. Republican voters are thus slowly resigning themselves to marching behind a vacant, supremely malleable technocrat whom they plainly detest.

In fairness to the much-maligned GOP field, they face a formidable hurdle: how to credibly attack Obama when he has adopted so many of their party's defining beliefs.   READ MORE

Bernanke's Obfuscation Continues: The Fed's $29 Trillion Bail-Out Of Wall Street

Posted: 12/14/11 09:07 AM ET

Since the global financial crisis began in 2007, Chairman Bernanke has striven to save Wall Street's biggest banks while concealing his actions from Congress by a thick veil of secrecy. It literally took an act of Congress plus a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by Bloomberg to get him to finally release much of the information surrounding the Fed's actions. Since that release, there have been several reports that tallied up the Fed's largess. Most recently, Bloomberg provided an in-depth analysis of Fed lending to the biggest banks, reporting a sum of $7.77 trillion. On December 8, Bernanke struck back with a highly misleading and factually incorrect memo countering Bloomberg's report. Bloomberg has largely vindicated its analysis.

Any fair-minded reader would conclude that Bernanke's memo to Senators Johnson and Shelby and Representatives Bachus and Frank is misleading. One could even conclude that it is not just a veil of secrecy, but rather a fog of deceit that the Fed is trying to throw over Congress.

Google For It

The G.O.P.’s ‘Black People’ Platform

Damon Winter/The New York Times
Charles M. Blow

As we’ve gotten around to casting votes to select a Republican presidential nominee, the antiblack rhetoric has taken center stage.
You just have to love (and despise) this kind of predictability.

On Sunday, Rick “The Rooster” Santorum, campaigning in Iowa, said what sounded like “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.” At first, he offered a nondenial that suggested that the comment might have been out of context. Now he’s saying that he didn’t say “black people” at all but that he “started to say a word” and then “sort of mumbled it and changed my thought.”

(Pause as I look askance and hum an incredulous, “Uh huh.”)  READ MORE

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Say What? Company Off the Hook on Providing Clean Water to Residents Screwed by Gas Drilling

Rick Perry recently made the ludicrous statement that there is not “a single incident of unsafe hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.”  Tell that to the residents of Dimock, Pennsylvania who are finally settling a case around methane leaks in local water supplies.

After finding Cabot Oil & Gas Company responsible for the methane contamination of 18 domestic water wells in northeast Pennsylvania, state regulators now say the company can discontinue providing water to affected residents because it has met the terms of a legal settlement with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
Next up is a decision by regulators on Cabot’s request to resume drilling for natural gas in Dimock, PA, where the methane contamination incidents – featured in the movie “Gasland” – have given the town a central role in the ongoing controversy over drilling for shale gas using hydraulic fracturing. Dimock is in the heart of the Marcellus Shale formation that stretches from southwestern New York State to western Virginia.
Residents of Dimock began complaining of exploding water wells and discolored, foul-smelling water shortly after Cabot began drilling in August, 2008.  READ MORE

Will Obama Issue an Order Exposing Big Corporate Political Spenders in Citizens United Era?

Like it or not, many of America's biggest corporations may be forced to disclose their political spending. 
January 10, 2012

A executive order requiring that federal contractors disclose their electoral spending—by top officers and as corporations—is being reconsidered by the White House despite stiff opposition from the business lobby after it was first proposed last spring, according to civil rights attorneys working on the issue.

“There’s a lot of movement at the White House,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen. “I just had a meeting at the White House counsel’s office, trying to encourage them to move forward with the executive order. They have the perfect window of opportunity to get the executive order done.”

“It’s simple—any company that is paid with taxpayer dollars should be required to disclose political contributions,” said Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., who has pushed for the White House to issue the order. “With public dollars come public responsibilities, and I hope President Obama will issue his executive order right away.”   READ MORE

Meet the Man Behind "Citizens United": What Does the Ultra-Conservative Lawyer Have Planned Next?

James Bopp is already well into the next phase of his crusade to topple as many of the limits on the role of money in politics as can be done in one man’s lifetime. 
January 8, 2012

Wedged up against the Illinois border on the banks of the Wabash River, Terre Haute, Indiana, has seen better days. Many factories have closed, and downtown has too many vacant storefronts. But there are signs of activity: Indiana State University has grown, the federal prison still provides reliable jobs—and the ten-lawyer litigation machine that occupies the offices of attorney James Bopp Jr. at the corner of 6th and Wabash is going full tilt. 

Bopp is best known as the lawyer behind a case involving a 90-minute film made in 2008 attacking then–presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Bopp’s suit ultimately resulted in the landmark 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, in which the Supreme Court held that corporate funding of independent political broadcasts such as the movie and its promotional ads were legitimate expressions of free speech and couldn’t be limited by campaign-finance laws. The ruling overturned key restrictions on the use of corporate and union money in politics. 

Bopp is already well into the next phase of his crusade to topple as many of the state and federal limits on the role of money in politics as can be done in one man’s lifetime. READ MORE

Marines to probe video of soldiers urinating on corpses

By Stephen C. Webster
Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Military officials said Wednesday that they’re investigating a video published online showing four men in U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) uniforms urinating on several lifeless bodies purported to be dead Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.
“While we have not yet verified the origin or authenticity of this video, the actions portrayed are not consistent with our core values and are not indicative of the character of the Marines in our Corps,” a USMC spokeswoman told celebrity gossip website TMZ. ”This matter will be fully investigated and those responsible will be held accountable for their actions.”

The video was published by an unknown person with a caption that reads, “scout sniper team 4 with 3rd battalion 2nd marines out of camp lejeune peeing on dead talibans.”

The men pictured have not been positively identified and it was not clear when the video was shot.
An uncensored version of the footage was available via YouTube.
 From the site click here

Huge Blow to Science Deniers: Koch Funded Researchers Confirm Global Warming

The report is purely an estimate of planetary warming, and it makes no estimate of how much this warming is due to human activity, which is another issue for deniers.

October 25, 2011

Physicists are notorious for believing that other scientists are mathematically incompetent. And University of California-Berkeley physicist Richard Muller is notorious for believing that conventional wisdom is often wrong. For example, the conventional wisdom about climate change. Muller has criticized Al Gore in the past as an "exaggerator," has spoken warmly of climate skeptic Anthony Watts, and has said that Steve McIntyre's famous takedown of the "hockey stick" climate graph made him "uncomfortable" with the paper the hockey stick was originally based on.

So in 2010 he started up the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project (BEST) to show the world how to do climate analysis right. Who better, after all? "Muller's views on climate have made him a darling of skeptics," said Scientific American, "and newly elected Republicans in the House of Representatives, who invited him to testify to the Committee on Science, Space and Technology about his preliminary results." The Koch Foundation, founded by the billionaire oil brothers who have been major funders of the climate-denial machine, gave BEST a $150,000 grant.   READ MORE

Nuclear Disaster in the US: How Bechtel Is Botching the World's Costliest Environmental Cleanup

Department of Energy scientists are alleging catastrophic mismanagement of massive cleanup efforts at Hanford, the former nuclear weapons outpost.

October 21, 2011

Razor wire surrounds Hanford’s makeshift borders while tattered signs warn of potential contamination and fines for those daring enough to trespass. This vast stretch of eastern Washington, covering more than 580 square miles of high desert plains, is rural Washington at its most serene. But it’s inaccessible for good reason: It is, by all accounts, a nuclear wasteland.

During World War II, the Hanford Reservation was chosen by the federal government as a location to carry out the covert Manhattan Project. Later, plutonium produced at Hanford provided fuel for the "Fat Man" bomb that President Truman ordered to be dropped on Nagasaki in 1945, killing upward of 80,000 Japanese. In all, nine nuclear reactors were built at Hanford, the last of which ceased operation in 1987. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency now estimates that as a result of the nuclear work done at Hanford's facilities, 43 million cubic yards of radioactive waste were produced and more than 130 million cubic yards of soil ultimately were contaminated.

During Hanford's lifespan, 475 billion gallons of radioactive wastewater were released into the ground. Radioactive isotopes have made their way up the food chain in the Hanford ecosystem at an alarming rate. Coyote excrement frequently lights up Geigers, as these scavengers feast on varmints that live beneath the earth's surface. READ MORE

Pat Robertson: GOP Base Is Becoming Too Extreme

By Alex Alvarez, Mediaite
25 October 11

This is no joke. The granddaddy of extreme GOP views has warned the current crop of candidates against adopting extreme GOP views. -- JPS/RSN

Televangelist and mogul Pat Robertson - a man whose name is practically synonymous with the Religious Right - likely took 700 Club viewers by surprise today when he opined that the Republican base is losing support by "pushing" what he described as "an extreme position."
Robertson expressed worry that Republican front runners are going to alienate voters during the general election by catering to a narrow base:

I believe it was Lyndon Johnson that said, "I doubt these people realize if they push me over to an extreme position that I'll lose the election. And I'm the one who will be supporting what they want, but they're going to make it so I can't win."

Those people in the Republican primary have got to lay off of this stuff. They're forcing their leaders, the front runners, into positions that will mean they lose the general election. Now whether this did it to Cain, I don't know, but nevertheless, you know, you appeal to the narrow base and they'll applaud the daylights out of what you're saying, and then you hit the general election and they say "no way" and then the Democrat, whoever it is, is going to just play these statements to the hilt. They've got to stop this! It's just so counterproductive!  READ MORE

Greed is good? Not a chance!!!

Ayn Rand wants you to believe that it's people being greedy that gets the market going and keeps it rolling along.  But nothing could be further from the truth.   Think about it;  if you were to bet 5 dollars at roulette,  on number 22,  and someone next to you bet 100,  would that be greed?  Of course not,  it's simply called "taking a chance".  Wagering more on an uncertain outcome,  is taking risk,  not being greedy.

One can only be "greedy"  when,  knowing the outcome already,  they place a "wager" -- which is really no wager at all -- of such size that they risk giving away the fact that they have advanced knowledge.  So,  in short,  greed is parasitism carried to ridiculous heights.  Heights,  such that,  the fraud being perpetrated,  is placed at risk of being revealed,  simply because the actors acquisitiveness can't be contained.

In the marketplace,  investors use various strategies to contain and/or offset the risk they must take to make money.  While the greedy,  merely work to gain foreknowledge of already known outcomes,  and seek to take full advantage of that knowledge.  This actually introduces a cost to the market,  rather than doing anyone but the perp,  any good.  Therefore greed does nothing good for the market at all!  In fact it is a negative that destroys trust and does damage to the market.  Ayn would have you believe that people,  taking advantage of unfair and likely prohibited situations,  are to be lauded and held in high esteem,  when,  in fact,  they should be scorned, castigated and shunned,  if indeed not punished.

Since it is her central theme,  this attempt to turn bad into good,  that underlay all her thoughts on matters,  she totally fails.  People who follow her missives advice are either twisted themselves,  or hopelessly unable to think clearly enough,  to see that she is ultimately wrong.  By her metrics Bonny and Clyde are to be lauded for how,  their efforts and greed,  inspired the banking security industry,  rather than opposed for the crimes they committed.

Real investors are risk takers,  they do not know the outcome of what they've wagered on.  They have only certain,  perhaps educated,  guesses about what kind of outcome to expect,  but beyond that they can't know anything for certain,   because they're not using knowledge certain,  of things already done and decided.  After the coin lands heads up,  any wager made then is not a bet but trickery.  Ayn Rand would have you believe otherwise!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Confiscated bushmeat 'poses virus threat'

Much of the trade in wildlife meat, or bushmeat, has its origin in Africa

Scientists have documented potentially dangerous viruses entering the US through illegally imported wildlife products.

Testing of meats confiscated at American airports has revealed the presence of several pathogens that could pose a risk to human health.

Retroviruses and herpesviruses were identified, some of them isolated from remains of endangered monkey species.

The research study is reported in the journal PLoS One.

Its authors say better surveillance measures are needed to ensure this trade does not result in the emergence of new disease outbreaks in humans.

"Although the findings to date are from a small pilot study, they remind us of the potential public health risk posed by illegal importation of wildlife products - a risk we hope to better characterize through expanded surveillance at ports of entry around the country," said Dr Kristine Smith, from EcoHealth Alliance, who led the investigation team.

Scientists estimate that some 75% of emerging infectious diseases affecting people have come from contact with wildlife.

Some of this is the result of animals biting humans, but the handling and consumption of infected meats is also considered a significant route of transmission.

Classic examples of infections that have jumped across the species include HIV/Aids, which is thought to have originated in primates, and Sars, an infection that caused global concern in 2003.
Follow-up work traced its beginnings to Chinese restaurant workers butchering the cat-like Asian palm civet.   READ MORE

This is where giving money to "Job Creators" goes wrong!

This is where we go wrong.  Believing that the industrial age brought goods and services.  It didn't!  What goods and services could any industry bring anyone,  if no one could afford them?  Henry Ford made cars because he hoped he could find a market for them,  not just by selling them to people who could afford them,  but by making the cars cheaply enough so that more people could afford them.

Before Henry Ford set up his assembly line production methods,  people were making cars,  but since only the wealthy could afford them,  they would not make very many.  Part of the high cost of owning a car was,  because there were so many "proprietary" models,  you could only get parts from your cars maker,  who owned the specifications and knowledge needed to make repairs to their product.  So they could charge whatever they wanted and you had no choice but to pay.  Henry Ford,  not only standardized the parts,  he also raised his employee's wages,  to make them his customers and a sales force of sorts as well.

Republicans want you to think that someone,  anyone,  can simply create a new product and presto the jobs appear.  How many new products,  over the years,  have been created,  for which no market could be found?  Or which no market would support?  Scads!  The products either cost too much to find a wide enough market,  or ran up against competition from people who were able to produce it cheaply enough,  to find wide market acceptance. 

Betamax was superior to VHS,  but the makers refused to lower their prices,  to where the average person could afford it.  So,  the lesser VHS,  came in cheaper and was snapped up by the masses.  The producers of movies and shows saw the VHS market swelling,  while the Betamax market was slow and stagnant,  so they began producing movies and shows in VHS format.   By the time Betamax decided to lower their prices,  few if any users owned any of their machines.  So there was less produced to play on that format.  Mostly they'd sold Betamax to producers who needed their higher quality for production.   Unfortunately these "rich" consumers,  weren't enough to support mass marketing of the Betamax machines,  so they went out of business,  creating no new jobs,  and in fact costing many people their jobs.

This is where we are today with our entire market.  New products are few,  because consumers who can afford them are few.  In fact,  many products that already had a wide market,  are too expensive now that so many people have lost their jobs,  so the products have lost their market.   When you have to front millions of dollars to bring a new product to market,  you'd better be sure that there are millions of consumers clamoring for it.  If not,  you'll soon be bankrupt,  even while millions of people stand,  looking in store windows,  wishing they had the bucks to buy it if they could.  If these big mfg's lose money they've borrowed from banks,  then the banks must tighten their lending.  That means more lost jobs all around.

So,  as you can see,  new products alone don't create new jobs and may take jobs away!  Keep giving money to "job creators" who have no market and you're just wasting your money!  Sure,  they'll bring new products to market,  but with only the 1% able to afford them,  they'll soon be filing for bankruptcy,  costing their bankers and investors money and forcing them to tighten up on new lending.  Which puts existing jobs at risk.

Analysis: Human genome hype or reality?

One day will all children have their genes mapped at birth?

It seems a long time since Tony Blair and Bill Clinton announced the first draft of the human genome had been completed.

Knowing the "genetic blueprint" of human beings promised to usher in a new era of molecular medicine, bringing new ways to diagnose and treat disease, they promised.

Almost 12 years on, you could perhaps be forgiven for thinking it's been a long time coming.   Here's one of the big dreams. One day every newborn will have their entire genetic code mapped.  Then, if a doctor ever needs that information, they can check for secrets to molecular diseases buried in our DNA.

Here's another. A patient is diagnosed with cancer. During their biopsy, a tiny sample of the tissue sent to pathology is used to read all the billions of the genetic letters in the human genome.  A clinician can then use that information to prescribe the right drugs.

The first scenario is a long way off. And it won't mean much unless mass decoding efforts create a database of genomes - a kind of catalogue of human genes - as a reference library.

The second is already happening. But it will be a while before the advances filter through to the majority of NHS cancer patients.  READ MORE

Skyscrapers 'linked with impending financial crashes'

Burj Khalifa Dubai and other tall buildings

There is an "unhealthy correlation" between the building of skyscrapers and subsequent financial crashes, according to Barclays Capital.

Examples include the Empire State building, built as the Great Depression was under way, and the current world's tallest, the Burj Khalifa, built just before Dubai almost went bust.

China is currently the biggest builder of skyscrapers, the bank said.

India also has 14 skyscrapers under construction.

"Often the world's tallest buildings are simply the edifice of a broader skyscraper building boom, reflecting a widespread misallocation of capital and an impending economic correction," Barclays Capital analysts said.  READ MORE

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Immunity and Impunity in Elite America

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, and JP Morgan Chase CEO James Dimon, center, leave the White House, 03/28/09. (photo: Getty Images)
By Glenn Greenwald, TomDispatch

25 October 11

As intense protests spawned by Occupy Wall Street continue to grow, it is worth asking: Why now? The answer is not obvious. After all, severe income and wealth inequality have long plagued the United States. In fact, it could reasonably be claimed that this form of inequality is part of the design of the American founding - indeed, an integral part of it.
Income inequality has worsened over the past several years and is at its highest level since the Great Depression. This is not, however, a new trend. Income inequality has been growing at rapid rates for three decades. As journalist Tim Noah described the process:

"During the late 1980s and the late 1990s, the United States experienced two unprecedentedly long periods of sustained economic growth - the ‘seven fat years' and the ‘long boom.' Yet from 1980 to 2005, more than 80% of total increase in Americans' income went to the top 1%. Economic growth was more sluggish in the aughts, but the decade saw productivity increase by about 20%. Yet virtually none of the increase translated into wage growth at middle and lower incomes, an outcome that left many economists scratching their heads."

The 2008 financial crisis exacerbated the trend, but not radically: the top 1% of earners in America have been feeding ever more greedily at the trough for decades. READ MORE

Surprise! Pat Buchanan's Book Is Riddled With Racism

Not Everyone is a racist Pat!
Quick hit: Talking Points Memo's Jillian Rayfield read Pat Buchanan's new book so you don't have to, and found--guess what?--tons of racism, dubious thinking, and paranoia about the death of white America, all glazed over with a huge amount  of rainbow-err, white--colored nostalgia for the days of yore.
You know, because to Uncle Pat, things were so much better in the glory old era of segregation:
Back then, black and white lived apart, went to different schools and churches, played on different playgrounds, and went to different restaurants, bars, theaters, and soda fountains. But we shared a country and a culture. We were one nation. We were Americans.
Also, this little gem:

Before the 1960s, equality meant every citizen enjoyed the same constitutional rights and the equal protection of existing laws. Nothing in the Constitution or federal law mandated social, racial, or gender equality. 
Read all Rayfield's findings here, and an earlier AlterNet story wondering why this bigoted man is still given a position of influence at MSNBC and elsewhere.
By Sarah Seltzer | Sourced from AlterNet

Judges Lock-Up Kids For Cash

A former juvenile court judge in Pennsylvania was sentenced  to 28 years in prison for his part in an alleged "kids for cash" scam considered one of the worst judicial scandals in US history.

 Mark Ciavarella Jr., 61, a former judge in Luzerne County, was also ordered to pay $1.17 million in restitution.

Mr. Ciavarella was convicted in federal court in Scranton, Pa., in February on charges that he and a second judge, Michael Conahan, ran the local court system as a racketeering enterprise.

Scientology Targeted "South Park" Creators After Spoof Episode

Long before Trey Parker and Matt Stone were Tony Award winners for skewering Mormonism lovingly, they were causing controversy within Scientology. Specifically, a 2005 episode of South Park which poked fun at Scientologist beliefs along with many of its practitioners (Tom Cruise, obviously, and John Travolta, to name two). 

The airing prompted Isaac Hayes, a Scientologist who had voiced the role of the Chef for many years, to quit his role. Cruise threatened to stymie publicity efforts for Paramount Pictures' Mission Impossible III if the episode was re-aired on Comedy Central (both were Viacom holdings; it was not rerun).

But that wasn't the only backlash. Today the Village Voice points out that Marty Rathbun, defected Scientologist, has published an alleged internal memo that says Parker and Stone were targeted for their humorous critique of the famously insular religion:  READ MORE

Manliness in a Can? Dr. Pepper's New Soda Is a Laugh

If you worry that American corporations have lost the innovative, can-do edge necessary to compete in today's global economy, you need to spend some time with Dr Pepper.
I don't mean a shrink, but the soft-drink. It's a brand that, let's face it, has seemed a bit stodgy. But — Pow! — no more. Meet Dr Pepper Ten, a brand-new concoction that promises to deliver the impossible: a macho diet soda. How's that for innovation?
It seems that the honchos over at the Dr Pepper Snapple Group have done intensive market analysis and found that men think of diet drinks as...well, girly. So they flinch at buying them.
No sweat, said the corporate alchemists, we'll make a manned-up soda that has only 10 calories, but still contains a manly dose of real sugar and other stuff. It's low-cal, but none may dare call it "diet."
Corporate officials won't disclose what's in the formula that supposedly will make men salivate for a can of Ten, but the key ingredient seems to be raw hucksterism. The pepped-up Dr Pepper is being launched with a massive, testosterone-infused ad campaign that bluntly proclaims: "It's not for women."
Be the first on your block to turn your manhood into something no woman would go near! HA!

The 147 Banks and Super-Companies that Run The Entire World Economy

The 1% indeed: a new study of the global economy and wealth concentration has identified a complex system of only 147 banks and corporations around the world which share in the largest chunk of the change. While that number might not seem too shocking to those of us paying attention, this study, "by a trio of complex systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, is the first to go beyond ideology to empirically identify such a network of power," writes New Scientist.

In other words: valuable data which will not only strengthen OWS' political arguments but will help us identify whether, and how, the global economy is unstable.  READ MORE

Read the full summary and list at New Scientist.

Republican Jobs Plan: An Economy for the 1%

Go back, the Republicans are saying. Reprise unfettered, irresponsible Wall Street, the Republicans demand.

October 24, 2011

Republicans jammed together a mess of old, failed and vague schemes and called it a jobs bill. Sen. John McCain conceded the reason for the rehash: “Part of it is in response to the president saying we don’t have a proposal.”

They still don’t. This despite the fact that they promised voters during their campaign to take control of the U.S. House one year ago that they’d create jobs. That they’d focus on jobs. That nothing was more important to them than jobs.

Now, what they’ve offered instead of actual jobs is a polyglot of GOP talking points. It’s certainly no vision to move the country forward. It’s a plot to set the country back – to repeal the health care law that will soon help provide coverage for the nearly 50 million Americans without insurance, to rescind the Wall Street reform law designed to prevent another financial sector-caused meltdown, and to thwart regulations, like those that stopped distribution of listeria-infected cantaloupe that killed 25.

GOP Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio called the Republican polyglot a “pro-growth proposal to create the environment for jobs.” It is, in fact, a pro-business proposal to permit corporations to destroy the environment for humans.   READ MORE

4 Polls That Show Occupy Wall Street is Just Getting Started

Is the increasingly popular movement poised to turn the tide of American history?

October 24, 2011

After over a month of demonstrations, numerous dismissals, and thousands of arrests, Occupy Wall Street is gaining momentum. Over the last two weeks, polls have poured in revealing that Americans familiar with the protests largely support them. And since that familiarity will continue to increase, we can only conclude that the country's support for the movement will keep on growing. When you've got NYT pundit Charles Blow unfurling his hipster flag comparing OWS to legendary 90s band Nirvana, you know a tipping point has been reached!

Recent polls prove that when Americans hear this band, they dig it. 

Here’s a round-up:

Worst Food Additive Ever? It's in Half of All Foods We Eat and Its Production Destroys Rainforests and Enslaves Children

Palm Oil Plantation
The production of this ingredient causes jaw-dropping amounts of deforestation (and with it, carbon emissions) and human rights abuses.

October 24, 2011

On August 10, police and security for the massive palm oil corporation Wilmar International (of which Archer Daniels Midland is the second largest shareholder) stormed a small, indigenous village on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. They came with bulldozers and guns, destroying up to 70 homes, evicting 82 families, and arresting 18 people. Then they blockaded the village, keeping the villagers in -- and journalists out. (Wilmar claims it has done no wrong.)

The village, Suku Anak Dalam, was home to an indigenous group that observes their own traditional system of land rights on their ancestral land and, thus, lacks official legal titles to the land. This is common among indigenous peoples around the world -- so common, in fact, that it is protected by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Rafflesia arnoldii
Indonesia, for the record, voted in favor of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007. Yet the government routinely sells indigenous peoples' ancestral land to corporations. Often the land sold is Indonesia's lowland rainforest, a biologically rich area home to endangered species like the orangutan, Asian elephant, Sumatran rhinoceros, Sumatran tiger, and the plant Rafflesia arnoldii, which produces the world's largest flower.  READ MORE

Racial Profiling on an “Industrial Scale”: FBI Using Census Data to Map and Police Communities By Race

The ACLU uncovers an FBI program that pairs Census data with "crude stereotypes" to map ethnic communities. 
October 24, 2011

This story originally appeared at Salon.

New documents obtained by the ACLU show that the FBI has for years been using Census data to “map” ethnic and religious groups suspected of being likely to commit certain types of crimes.
Much is still not known about the apparent large-scale effort in racial profiling, partly because the documents the ACLU obtained through public records requests are heavily redacted.
The FBI maintains that the mapping program is designed to “better understand the communities that are potential victims of the threats,” but the ACLU says it is plainly unconstitutional.
To learn more about the FBI program, its implications for civil liberties and the questions that remain unanswered, I spoke to Michael German, policy counsel at the ACLU’s Washington office and a former FBI agent.

What is the new information that has come to light here?  READ MORE

Monday, January 9, 2012

How to fight liberals: Imitate them

Impressed by the effectiveness of the liberal Center for American Progress, a group of conservative journalists and operatives are preparing to engage in their own sincerest form of flattery — launching an advocacy group with a similar name and mission but very different target.
Part assault on CAP and part homage, the Center for American Freedom’s goal is to wage a well-funded assault on the Obama White House and the liberal domination of partisan online media.

Based in Washington, it will have an annual budget of “several million dollars,” according to its chairman, Michael Goldfarb, and will house a new conservative online news outlet, the Washington Free Beacon, edited by former Weekly Standard writer Matthew Continetti. It will also include a campaign-style war room led by two former chiefs of the Republican National Committee’s vaunted research operation, and a media-monitoring shop that aims to do to MSNBC what Media Matters has done to Fox News.
“This is a fairly modest start-up that really hopes to combat the Center for American Progress and create something that in the not-so-distant future can be competitive,” said Goldfarb, 31, a former Weekly Standard writer who is now a partner in the lobbying firm Orion Strategies, where his clients include Charles and David Koch — liberal bugaboos and dominant funders of a range of conservative causes and politicians.

Preppy protester: The moment a 19-year-old Mitt Romney demonstrated in favour of Vietnam War draft

Fortunate son: Mr Romney's status as a 'Mormon missionary' meant he was exempt from the Vietnam War draft
  • Teenage Romney takes unpopular stance in favour of south-east Asian war
  • But his status as 'Mormon missionary' exempted him from the draft
  • Future GOP presidential candidate dressed in smart, preppy clothes
  • Romney's father George was the Governor of Michigan at the time
By Graham Smith

Last updated at 1:06 PM on 6th January 2012

They say every picture tells a story.
A newly-unearthed photograph showing Mitt Romney demonstrating in favour of the Vietnam War draft might leave the presidential candidate feeling somewhat embarrassed.

The veteran Republican, then 19, can be seen picketing an anti-war sit-in at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, in 1966.

Mr Romney will no doubt be proud of his younger self taking what was at the time a very unpopular stance.  However, he might grimace at his clean-cut appearance and preppy wardrobe.

Taken at the height of the swinging Sixties, Mr Romney holds a sign declaring 'Speak Out, Don't Sit In' as, alongside like-minded individuals, he proclaims his support for Lyndon Johnson's ever-expanding draft.  But, in a marked contrast to the relaxed  dress sense associated with that decade's youth movement, he is wearing smart white slacks, a white buttoned-up shirt and a dark blazer. READ MORE

Private Sector Gets Job Skills; Public Gets Bill

The primary beneficiary is undoubtedly Caterpillar, a maker of industrial equipment with rising profits that has a new plant about 10 miles away in Winston-Salem.
Yet North Carolina is picking up much of the cost. It is paying about $1 million to help nearly 400 workers acquire these skills, and a community college has committed to develop a custom curriculum that Caterpillar has valued at about $4.3 million.  READ MORE

There Are 5,000 Janitors in the U.S. with PhDs

There are 18,000 parking lot attendants in the U.S. with college degrees. There are 5,000 janitors in the U.S. with PhDs. In all, some 17 million college-educated Americans have jobs that don't require their level of education. Why?

The data comes from a the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and can be seen here in handy, depressing chart form:

At the Chronicle, where the above chart was posted, Richard Vedder argues that maybe we place too much importance on higher education, citing a new study by the National Bureau of Economic Research:

The Bush Administration's Own Fast and Furious

File photo: Alleged drug traffickers of the Sinaloa Cartel are presented to the press in Mexico City after their arrest, 11/14/10. (photo: Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images)
By Tim Mak, Politico
08 January 12

The Justice Department released documents Thursday on the Bush-era Wide Receiver gun-walking operation that suggest the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was aware that guns were likely flowing into Mexico but allowed it to continue in the hopes of penetrating deeply into U.S.-Mexico gun trafficking networks.  READ MORE

Gingrich Declares Gay Rights Questions Are 'Anti-Christian Bigotry'

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich blasted moderators at a debate in New Hampshire Saturday for "anti-Christian bigotry" after they asked several of the GOP hopefuls about gay rights.
"I just want to raise a point about the news media bias," the former House Speaker complained to ABC's Diane Sawyer. "You don't hear the opposite question asked."
"Should the Catholic Church be forced to close its adoption services in Massachusetts because it won't accept gay couples, which is exactly what the state has done? Should the Catholic Church be driven out of providing charitable services in the District of Columbia because it won't give in to secular bigotry? Should the Catholic Church find itself discriminated against by the Obama administration on key delivery of services because the bias and bigotry of the administration?"   READ MORE