Saturday, January 28, 2012

Super PACs Are Making Their Rich Presence Felt in 2012 Campaigns

by: David Goldstein, McClatchy Newspapers | Report
Washington - Super PACs are living up to their early billing as potential game-changers in the 2012 elections.

Free to flood a campaign with as much money as they can, these souped-up political action committees have already impacted the Republican presidential contest.

Newt Gingrich saw his sudden surge in Iowa squashed when super PAC allies of Mitt Romney spent millions on negative ads against the former speaker of the House of Representatives. Gingrich finished fourth in both the Iowa caucuses and in the New Hampshire primary.

But a $5 million pledge from a Las Vegas casino mogul and friend of Gingrich to a super PAC run by his supporters could help him make a stand in South Carolina's Republican primary on Jan. 21.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Robert Greenwald and Reporter Michael Hastings Take on the Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America's War Machine

Hastings, in his hard-hitting new book, discusses "politically correct imperialism," why the military is obsessed with its legacy, and why we're stuck in post-9/11 thinking.

January 25, 2012

Not many journalists can say they had a hand in getting a commanding general relieved of duty in the middle of a war. But Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings did just that when his 2010 story on Stanley McChrystal, then the commander of NATO troops in Afghanistan, sent shockwaves through Washington and resulted in McChrystal being recalled to DC and uneremoniously fired by Barack Obama.

Hastings' report, “The Runaway General,” detailed how McChrystal and his top officers spoke of their civilian superiors with sneering condescension, and revealed that they didn't genuinely embrace the counterinsurgency strategy being sold to the public at home. The piece was a result of fortuitous circumstances. Hastings had at first been allowed only controlled access to McCrystal, but when European air-traffic was grounded following the eruption of the Eyjafj√∂ll volcano in Iceland, Hastings ended up catching a bus to Berlin with McChrystal and his staff, who let down their guard during the extended ride.  READ MORE

Why We Should Thank Stephen Colbert: 3 Ways the Culture-Jammer Exposes Our Rotten Corporate State

Colbert educates viewers on America's arcane political machinery, while schooling mainstream journalists on how to properly inform the citizenry.
January 26, 2012

He may no longer be running for president of the United States of South Carolina, but The Colbert Report'hyperreal satirist (and genuine nice guy) Stephen Colbert is still educating viewers on America's arcane political machinery, while schooling mainstream journalists on how to properly inform the citizenry. He's participated in the democratic process by recently launching the super PAC, Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow, and campaigning for office in both 2008 and 2012. And he's amassed a well-funded war chest of still-unknown size, with which he plans on creating more attack ads to monkeywrench the electoral status quo, and perhaps more.   READ MORE

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Why Is Type 1 Diabetes Rising Worldwide?

Why Is Type 1 Diabetes Rising Worldwide?

We’ve gotten sadly accustomed by now to warnings about obesity and its effect on health: joint damage, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and its complications such as blindness and amputation. We almost take for granted that as obesity increases worldwide, diabetes will also, and it is. That is, type 2 diabetes — the kind that is linked to obesity and used to be called adult-onset diabetes — is rising as obesity does.

But here’s a puzzle: Type 1 diabetes — the autoimmune disease that begins in childhood and used to be called juvenile-onset diabetes — is rising too, around the globe, at 3 percent to 5 percent per year. And at this point, no one can quite say why.

I have a column in the February Scientific American, on newsstands now and live on the web, exploring this conundrum. There is a raft of researchers exploring the issue, but so far there is only one thing they can say for sure: The increase, which began in the 1950s and accelerated in about the 1980s, is happening too fast to be due solely to genetic change. Something in the environment is driving the increase. But what?   READ MORE

Invisibility’s Next Frontier: Scientists Cloak 3-D Objects

After five years of steady progress, scientists are now edging closer and closer to mastering real-world invisibility.

Sure, researchers have already made marked strides toward making objects unseeable. But much of the work was more like mimicry: Meta-materials that bent light around an object to conceal it, but only worked in two dimensions. Or a device that played tricks on the eye, by harnessing the mirage effect to make objects behind it “disappear.”

Now, a team of researchers have taken an incredible leap forward. They’ve successfully made a 3-D object disappear.

A group of scientists at the University of Texas at Austin have figured out how to “cloak a three-dimensional object standing in free space.” That means the object is invisible, from any angle of observation.

“This object’s invisibility is independent of where the observer is,” Professor Andrea Alu, the study’s co-author, tells Danger Room. “So you’d walk right around it, and never see it.”

Watch: ‘Invisibility Cloak’ Uses Mirages to Make Objects Vanish 


Oil-for-gold: Iran to dodge US ban with metal shield?

Uploaded by on Jan 24, 2012
The EU has delivered on its threat to ban the import of crude oil from Iran, in response to its nuclear programme. The latest round of sanctions prohibits any new oil contracts, while allowing for existing deals to run until July. But Tehran is apparently finding ways to keep business pumping. Reports say Iran will keep supplying one of its biggest customers - India - but will get payment in gold instead of dollars.

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Are the Koch brothers teaching you?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A 51st State for Armed Robotic Drones

An armed unmanned US drone aircraft being serviced. (photo: AP)
By David Swanson, Reader Supported News
29 October 11

eaponized UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), also known as drones, have their own caucus in Congress, and the Pentagon's plan is to give them their own state as well.

Under this plan, 7 million acres (or 11,000 square miles) of land in the southeast corner of Colorado, and 60 million acres of air space (or 94,000 square miles) over Colorado and New Mexico would be given over to special forces testing and training in the use of remote-controlled flying murder machines. 

The full state of Colorado is itself 104,000 square miles. Rhode Island is 1,000 square miles. Virginia, where I live, is 43,000 square miles.

The US military (including Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines) is proceeding with this plan in violation of the public will, new state legislation on private property rights, an exceptionally strong federal court order, and a funding ban passed by the United States Congress, and in the absence of any approved Environmental Impact Statement. Public pressure has successfully put the law on the right side of this issue, and the military is disregarding the law.

I spoke with Jean Aguerre, whose organization "Not 1 More Acre" is leading the pushback against this madness.  READ MORE

5 Biggest Lies About the Right-Wing Corporate-Backed War on Our Schools

Though National School Choice Week has some liberal support, its primary backers are deeply conservative activists whose goal is to dissolve public education in the US.
January 23, 2012

National School Choice Week, a pet project of big corporations and conservative billionaires like the Koch brothers, kicked off Monday with celebratory forums throughout the country. Billing itself as a social justice movement committed to “ensuring effective education options for every child,” “school choice” has actually become a deeply divisive wedge issue for the right. But the folks at School Choice Week would prefer that you didn’t know that. 

On their website, you can find photographs and videos of shiny happy children of all races and ethnicities. And you’ll see that Bill Cosby is a major supporter. And since he has a doctorate in education and has acted as a philanthropist on behalf of many African-American schools, many will see his endorsement as an important mark of legitimacy.

But there are a few serious problems with the school choice movement. READ MORE

While Republicans Play Politics Over Food Stamps, New Film Focuses on Hunger in America

Amy Goodman and Raj Patel discuss the 49 million people who are struggling to get enough to eat in America, and why GOP candidates' posturing isn't helping.
January 23, 2012

The new documentary "Finding North" premiering here at the Sundance Film Festival exposes how one in every four American children suffers from hunger, despite living in the wealthiest nation in the world, and nearly 30 percent of American families, more than 49 million people, often go without meals. 

While Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich decries President Obama as "the food stamp president," author Raj Patel says what is really needed is a conversation about poverty and why the need for food stamps is so high. "It’s true that disproportionately people of color are affected by food insecurity. 

But what Gingrich is doing, of course, is racially coding poverty by calling President Obama 'the food stamp president,'" Patel said. "He’s invoking these ideas of racialized poverty. Of course, if you look at the people who are on the food stamp program, you see that the majority of them are white and poor." Patel is author of the popular book, "Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System." 

AMY GOODMAN: We’re broadcasting from Park City, Utah, home of the Sundance Film Festival, the nation’s largest festival for independent cinema. I’m Amy Goodman. Continuing with our South Carolina Republican primary coverage, we turn now from the wealthy, whose influence on elections has been multiplied by Citizens United, to the poor, who could be greatly impacted by this influence.

Jobs Won't Come Back to America Until the Government Pushes Greedy Corporate Executives to Invest at Home

Without bold government action on behalf of our workforce, good American jobs will continue to disappear January 23, 2012 Who should have the primary strategic responsibility for making American workers globally competitive – the private sector or government? This will be a defining issue in the 2012 campaign.
In his State of the Union address, President Obama will make the case that government has a vital role. His Republican rivals disagree. Mitt Romney charges the President is putting “free enterprise on trial,” while Newt Gingrich merely fulminates about “liberal elites.”

American business won’t and can’t lead the way to more and better jobs in the United States. First, the private sector is increasingly global, with less and less stake in America. Second, it’s driven by the necessity of creating profits, not better jobs.

The National Science Foundation has just released its biennial report on global investment in science, engineering and technology. The NSF warns that the United States is quickly losing ground to Asia, especially to China. America’s share of global R&D spending is tumbling. In the decade to 2009, it dropped from 38 percent to 31 percent, while Asia’s share rose from 24 to 35 percent.

One big reason: According to the NSF, American firms nearly doubled their R&D investment in Asia over these years, to over $7.5 billion.

Once Again, Believers Have it Wrong: Atheists Don't Just Want Sex, Drugs, and Lack of Morality

As much as religion's defenders would like us to believe otherwise, there is no non-human moral authority.
January 23, 2012

The death of Christopher Hitchens last month sparked an outpouring of tributes. Most of them praised his best qualities: his ferocious courage, his seemingly effortless erudition, and his crusading defense of free speech and rationalism. 

Of course, he had his faults as well -- most notably his support for the Iraq war -- and I was happy to see that relatively few of the eulogies, even those written by his personal friends, overlooked or excused this. Given how averse Hitchens himself was to whitewashing the lives of the deceased, I have no doubt that this is how he would have wanted it.

There was one item, however, that caught my attention -- this column in the New York Times, which had the following line: 

Of course, he took on God, a dangerous occupation in the United States, declaring him not great and religion the product of a time when nobody "had the smallest idea what was going on." Like Einstein, he viewed ethics as "an exclusively human concern with no superhuman authority behind it," a position that sparked conflict with his journalist brother, Peter, who has argued that, "For a moral code to be effective, it must be attributed to, and vested in, a nonhuman source. It must be beyond the power of humanity to change it to suit itself." READ MORE

Eyewitness Identification Has 50% Error Rate? How We Throw People in Prison Based on False ID

Debbie Peagler
Photo Credit:
From Sacco and Vanzetti to Troy Davis, witnesses to crime scenes get it wrong too often. So why did the Supreme Court just make it harder to challenge such evidence in court?

January 23, 2012

“We see what we want to see,” my grandmother used to say. This insight visited me recently after I ran across the mall chasing a woman I thought was my cousin. It wasn’t, as it turned out, but I didn’t realize that until after I had puffed up behind her, bopped her amiably on the shoulder and cried out, “Boo!”

 How was it possible, I thought in retrospective embarrassment, to so wrongly misidentify someone I know so well? Empirically my experience was all too common. I’d been thinking about my cousin a few moments before and saw the woman through the lens of those thoughts. We often project our life’s associations onto the faces of strangers. Constantly—if mostly unconsciously—we familiarize them with learned stereotypes. If we are wise, we learn to take caution with our assumptions. We recognize this innate fallibility, and most of the time it doesn’t matter very much.

Oddly enough, however, we reverse that supposition in the one context where fallibility matters most: in criminal cases, eyewitness testimony is viewed as the ne plus ultra for the prosecution, despite a century’s worth of psychological and sociological studies revealing that, from Sacco and Vanzetti to Troy Davis, witnesses misperceive a startling percentage of the time. 

“Human beings are not very good at identifying people they saw only once for a relatively short period of time,” writes Cornell law professor Michael Dorf. “The studies reveal error rates of as high as fifty percent—a frightening statistic given that many convictions may be based largely or solely on such testimony. These studies show further that the ability to identify a stranger is diminished by stress (and what crime situation is not intensely stressful?), that cross-racial identifications are especially unreliable, and that contrary to what one might think, those witnesses who claim to be ‘certain’ of their identifications are no better at it than everyone else, just more confident.” 

Palin: Gingrich’s ‘open marriage’ will help him ‘soar even more’

Always good for a laugh!
By Stephen C. Webster
Friday, January 20, 2012 

Americans love polyamory. Or not.

Speaking to Republican radio host Sean Hannity on Thursday, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (R) claimed that her favored candidate for president, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, somehow stands to benefit by his second wife claiming that he asked her for an “open marriage.”

“They, thinking that by trotting out this old Gingrich divorce interview that’s old news — and it does feature a disgruntled ex, claiming that it would destroy his campaign — all it does, Sean, is incentivize conservatives and independents who are so sick of the politics of personal destruction, because it’s played so selectively by media, that their target, in this case Newt, he’s now going to soar even more,” Palin said.

“Because we know the game now, and we just won’t put up with it. So, good call, media. Way to go to covertly hype this, even Gingrich opponents. For being so brilliant, they sure are dumb.” Palin, who often takes it upon herself to try and correct what she calls the “lamestream media,” said that ABC’s interview was “old,” when in fact it is the first interview ever conducted with Marianne Gingrich, who divorced the former House speaker in 1999 shortly after Gingrich and his fellow Republicans put to rest their years-long crusade against President Bill Clinton’s sexual infidelities. READ MORE

What’s Behind Transsexual Attraction?

Knowledge beats unreasoning fear!
A trans woman wants to know what kind of men watch "T-girl" porn. Are they the same ones who bash her in real life?
October 23, 2011

Salon / By Tracy Clark-Flory

This story originally appeared at Salon
I’m gender queer and was told by a friend that the porn shop she worked in carried a wide selection of magazines and films catering to an interest in trans women. That sort of implies it’s popular enough to support that much material on it — which is really interesting when you think of the way many straight males react to any other “male” behaving in a “female” way. I really wouldn’t be surprised to find out the guys who try to bash me are secretly turned on by my existence — although, I’d prefer they just send flowers or something. Is this becoming a more common attraction?

Seriously,! It isn’t that hard. Sure, flowers cost more and won’t last as long as self-hatred, but that’s a good thing.

Back to your question, though: I assume you’re talking about transsexual women who haven’t fully transitioned, since that’s the most popular type of gender queer porn. For uninitiated readers, that means people born with male bodies but who identify as female and have not had full sexual reassignment surgery, although breast implants are common. In the ever tasteful and humanizing world of porn, they are referred to as “she-males,” “chicks with dicks” or “lady boys.” In similar fashion, men who are attracted to trans women are colloquially called “tranny chasers” or “transfans” — sometimes affectionately, sometimes not. The technical, although still controversial, term for such attractions is gynandromorphophilia (the correct pronunciation of which is equivalent to stuffing your mouth with food and saying damn near anything).  

With that vocabulary lesson out of the way, we can move on to just how many men have these attractions, READ MORE

Ex-Goldman Sachs Director to Face Criminal Charges

Former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. director,
Rajat Gupta, 03/09/08. (photo: Reuters)
By Basil Katz and Moira Herbst, Reuters
26 October 11

Rajat Gupta will surrender to FBI Wednesday - was named an unindicted co-conspirator of Raj Rajaratnam. Gupta's lawyer has no comment on possible charges, reiterates that Gupta committed no wrongdoing.

A former Goldman Sachs director, who also was once the global head of elite consultancy McKinsey & Co, will surrender to the FBI on Wednesday to face criminal insider trading-related charges, a person familiar with the investigation said.

Rajat Gupta, one of the most prominent business executives to be caught up in the government's wide-ranging insider-trading probe, had been named by prosecutors as an unindicted co-conspirator in the criminal case against hedge fund tycoon Raj Rajaratnam earlier this year.

The person familiar with the investigation, who declined to be identified because the charges have not yet been made public, said Gupta had agreed to surrender to authorities.  READ MORE

Wall Street Isn't Winning - It's Cheating

Activists demonstrate outside of the New York
Stock Exchange against Wall Street bonuses,
12/15/10. (photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone
26 October 11

I was at an event on the Upper East Side last Friday night when I got to talking with a salesman in the media business. The subject turned to Zucotti Park and Occupy Wall Street, and he was chuckling about something he'd heard on the news.

"I hear [Occupy Wall Street] has a CFO" he said. "I think that's funny."

"Okay, I'll bite," I said. "Why is that funny?"

"Well, I heard they're trying to decide what bank to put their money in," he said, munching on hors d'oeuvres. "It's just kind of ironic."

Oh, Christ, I thought. He's saying the protesters are hypocrites because they're using banks. I sighed.

"Listen," I said, "where else are you going to put three hundred thousand dollars? A shopping bag?"

"Well," he said, "it's just, they're protests are all about ... You know ..."

"Dude," I said. "These people aren't protesting money. They're not protesting banking. They're protesting corruption on Wall Street."

"Whatever," he said, shrugging.

These nutty criticisms of the protests are spreading like cancer. Earlier that same day, I'd taped a TV segment on CNN with Will Cain from the National Review, and we got into an argument on the air. Cain and I agreed about a lot of the problems on Wall Street, but when it came to the protesters, we disagreed on one big thing.

Cain said he believed that the protesters are driven by envy of the rich.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Six-figure salaries, but homeless

October 26, 2011: 10:37 AM ET

WILLISTON, N.D. (CNNMoney) -- They're pulling in fat paychecks, but now they're also homeless.
In the town of Williston, N.D., America's newest oil boomtown, more than 6,000 job seekers have come from every corner of the country looking for work. Yet, oil companies and other developers haven't been able to build housing units fast enough.

In the past year, only about 2,000 new housing units have been built, leaving many workers out in the cold.  With dozens of job seekers arriving by the day and fewer and fewer spots for them to live in, people are taking some desperate measures.

Newer arrivals who can't find vacant hotel rooms or apartments sleep in their cars or in sleeping bags on spare patches of grass along the highway. The luckier ones nab a spot in one of the dozens of dorm-like facilities, known as "man camps," that the oil companies have built to house their workers.
The living conditions are far from ideal, but to some of these workers the lure of doubling or tripling their salaries far outweighs the physical and mental toll it can take.

My street address is the Walmart parking lot

WHAT WENT WRONG? -- The betrayal of the American Dream

As Apple grew, American workers left behind

Photo by Bobby Yip, Reuters--  Many of Foxconn's
factories, like this one in Longhua in southern China,
installed nets to discourage workers from jumping to
their deaths last year. Foxconn manufactures many
Apple products. June 2, 2010 file photo.

 By Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele

This story is being co-published with The Philadelphia Inquirer, which will host a live chat at 1 p.m. Monday. 

The death of Steve Jobs was followed by an avalanche of superlatives — brilliant, genius and visionary among the more common. He was likened to Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison.
But in the case of Edison, there was one significant difference that went unmentioned. For more than a century, just one of Edison’s inventions alone — the incandescent light bulb —was manufactured at numerous locations in the United States, providing employment for millions of Americans across family generations.

The Apple home computer not at all. After only one generation, all the Apple manufacturing jobs in America disappeared, as the work of building and assembling the machines was turned over to laborers in sweatshops in China and other countries. Jobs that should have provided employment for Americans for decades to come were terminated.

For Apple, the corporation, the system functioned beautifully. This year the company had more cash in its bank accounts than the U.S. Treasury. And for one day, Monday, Sept. 19, the company was the most valuable corporation on the planet, its stock worth $382 billion. It was a sum that exceeded even the worth of Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's largest international oil and gas company.

Needless to say, Apple proved a disaster for its onetime production workers. It turned out to be a classic bait-and-switch con for working folks. One day they held jobs that allowed them to do all the things people had come to expect from their employment. The next day the jobs were gone.

Gary Johnson "In 1997 Newt Gingrich Proposed The Death Penalty For Possession Of Marijuana"


Newt Gingrich - Philosopher Clown: Read more!

Sunday, January 22, 2012



- By Bev Harris

The genius of democracy is dispersed public control.

As we saw in Iowa when alert public citizens captured evidence of the actual vote count BEFORE it was reported by a centralized state committee, the state Republican Party and the news media initially claimed victory for the wrong winner. They only corrected this mis-call two weeks later, buying the favored candidate half a month of fund raising prowess and prestige.

In South Carolina, 100% of election results will be redirected through a private Barcelona, Spain-owned company, Scytl/SOE Software, before being reported to the public.

There is only one way to immediately find out whether Scytl/SOE reported the right results*, and that is for members of the public to capture evidence of reported precinct results when polls close tonight. Think of it as a giant neighborhood watch.

Precinct results should be posted at each polling site. In addition, during poll closing the public has a right to be in the polling place watching and videotaping what goes on.

Here is a four-minute video showing exactly what to do: 


Hacking Democracy