Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thursday 03-31-11

Cool Tool, doubt it is useful, but neat idea
Morning Note: Gold Replacing Dollar as World’s Reserve Currency? $105 per barrel oil. Cotton prices at record levels. Food prices at 2008 highs. Typically, such commodity price increases would send central banks running to the U.S. Dollar to secure the value of their savings. After all, the dollar has been the reserve currency since World War I. But not this time. Central banks are shedding dollars [DXC1 76.565 0.065 (+0.08%) ], reducing their holdings by about $9 billion in previous quarter, according to Nomura Securities’ Jens Nordvig, global head of G10 FX Strategy. What are they buying instead? Gold [GCCV1 1425.70 9.50 (+0.67%) ]. The yellow metal hit a fresh record high this morning, while the dollar index dropped to a 15-month low. The news had Fast Money’s Brian Kelly looking to add more gold and silver longs to his portfolio Thursday morning. “What is working is gold, silver [SICV1 37.575 0.588 (+1.59%) ] and oil [CLCV1 104.34 -0.45 (-0.43%) ],” said Kanundrum Capital’s Kelly. “I wish I had more.” Gold and silver have become the inflation hedges of choice for some investors. Gold hit an intra day high today of $1,448 per ounce. Silver is trading at 31-year highs, hitting an intra day high of $38 per ounce.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wednesday 03-30-11

Good News for New Yorkers (maybe) what a waste of money. New York State Rifle & Pistol Association: CoBIS Has Not Worked and Should be Abolished TROY, NY (03/28/2011)(readMedia)-- This month marks the 10th anniversary of New York's Combined Ballistic Identification System (CoBIS) program. Under this program, all new handguns sold in the state must be test fired and the shell casing imaged and entered into an electronic databank for possible crime scene identification. Since its inception in March 2001, a total 311,859 shell casings have been cataloged. At an estimated cost of $4 million dollars per year, $40 million dollars has been spent on CoBIS over the past decade. What have taxpayers received for this? Absolutely nothing. Not a single crime has been solved because of it. By any measure, CoBIS has been a total failure and a public policy disaster. Now, the same people who swore CoBIS would work are back pushing more of the same failed philosophy in the form of mandatory firearms microstamping, which is essentially another ballistic imaging scheme based upon unproven science fiction technology. The New York State Sheriffs' Association recognizes this nonsense and opposes the microstamping legislation. NYSRPA calls upon Governor Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and state legislative leaders to publicly recognize these boondoggles for what they are, defund the CoBIS program and stand up to the fringe special interests advocating microstamping.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday 03-28-11

Protect our traditional rights to farm

Subject: R-CALF USA Calls on All Producers to Help Stop USDA’s New Animal Identification Plan

Background: When you and other producers and organizations helped R-CALF USA successfully stop the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) in early 2010, we committed to work with USDA to use our preexisting brucellosis and bovine tuberculosis disease programs to enhance our nation’s ability to conduct disease tracebacks in breeding-age cattle that crossed state lines. For many months, we participated with USDA and many other groups to achieve this level of improvement.

But, that wasn’t enough for USDA and it now it wants to reinsert the unacceptable provisions of the defunct NAIS into its new proposal called the Animal Disease Traceability Framework (ADTF).

USDA is once again leveling a direct assault against the culture and heritage of our U.S. cattle industry through the guise of its new ADTF. USDA has done an about-face and is now proposing to delist the hot-iron brand and include feeder cattle under its new scheme.

We cannot wait for USDA’s proposed rule that will threaten the integrity of hot-iron branding, deprive producers of their personal property, and give even more control over our industry to corporate meatpackers and ear tag companies. Please read the R-CALF USA Fact Sheet copied below:

Why R-CALF USA Strenuously Opposes USDA’s New Animal ID Proposal to Delist Brands

The hot-iron brand is part-and-parcel to the culture and heritage of the U.S. cattle industry. In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has long recognized the importance of the brand as a permanent means of identifying livestock, not only for determining ownership, but also for conducting disease investigations. USDA regulations concerning interstate transportation of animals include the registered brand, when accompanied by a certificate of inspection (certificate) from a recognized brand authority, as an official identification device or method for use in existing disease programs. USDA regulations at 9 CFR § 71.1 state:

Official identification device or method. A means of officially identifying an animal or group of animals using devices or methods approved by the Administrator, including, but not limited to, official tags, tattoos, and registered brands when accompanied by a certificate of inspection from a recognized brand inspection authority (emphasis added).

Under USDA’s earlier proposed Animal Disease Traceability Framework (ADTF), breeding-aged cattle would bear an ear tag containing a number identifier (such as the low-cost metal “Brite” tag) as a condition for interstate transportation. This proposal would restore traceability to levels previously achieved when breeding females were ear tagged under the brucellosis program. Like the brucellosis tag, the new tag would augment other official devices such as brands or tattoos. This augmentation enhances traceability because while ear tags are prone to loss, brands remain permanent. Brands have facilitated disease investigations throughout history.

Under this breeding-age-cattle-only proposal, interstate transportation of branded feeder cattle accompanied with a certificate would continue as it has for decades. States that identify a disease suspect in branded feeder cattle, regardless of whether the states have their own brand programs, could continue to use the brand and certificates to contact the state where the certificates were issued to identify the herd of origin – just as they have for decades.

But, USDA has now changed its position and plans to delist the brand as an official animal identification device and include feeder cattle in the ADTF. This would discredit the brand as a means of identifying cattle in interstate transportation. Here’s why: 1) The brand and accompanying certificates would forever be delisted as an official animal identification device. 2) USDA may well be precluded from requiring permanent brands on imported cattle after brands are delisted. 3) When the trigger for feeder cattle is reached, the brand will already be delisted, so USDA will need to carve out an exception to allow states to use brands to identify cattle, causing the brand to be demoted to a secondary position in relation to USDA’s ear tag. 4) No longer will the ear tag augment the permanent brand, but instead, the ear tag will be deemed a substitute for brands, providing justification for brand opponents such as packers that believe hide values wo! uld increase, and tag companies that believe sales would increase, without brands. 5) USDA’s delisting of the brand will send an erroneous signal to the industry that brands are of limited use for disease traceback and likely will trigger a de-emphasis for brand programs operating in many states. 6) USDA’s delisting of the brand would be the first step toward the eventual elimination of hot-iron branding in the United States, which will result in the devaluation of U.S. ranchers’ private property, as brands are property that is bought and sold.

R-CALF USA urges every livestock producer to immediately fight against USDA’s new ADTF.

Action: Please begin contact your congressional delegations and USDA to tell them the new animal identification proposal is absolutely unacceptable and must be stopped. You can reach your congressional members by calling the capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and asking for your Senator and Representative by name. You can contact USDA by calling 202-720-3631. Letters to Congress and USDA will be extremely helpful. Please share the attached document widely.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday 03-27-11

New translation of Bible draws fire from conservative critics
Latest version aims for more gender-neutral language, though God decidedly remains a He.

In some common translations of the world's most popular Bible, John the Evangelist declares: "If anyone says, ‘I love God,' yet hates his brother, he is a liar." Make that "brother or sister" in a new translation that includes more gender-neutral language and is drawing criticism from some conservatives who argue the changes can alter the theological message.

The 2011 translation of the New International Version Bible, or NIV, doesn't change pronouns referring to God, who remains "He" and "the Father." But it does aim to avoid using "he" or "him" as the default reference to an unspecified person.

The NIV Bible is used by many of the largest Protestant denominations. The translation comes from the Committee on Bible Translation, an independent group of biblical scholars that has been meeting yearly since 1965 to discuss advances in biblical scholarship and changes in English usage.

Before the new translation hit stores, it drew opposition from the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, an organization that believes women should submit to their husbands in the home and that only men should hold some leadership roles in the church.

The council decided it would not endorse the new version because the changes alter "the theological direction and meaning of the text," according to a statement. Similar concerns led the Southern Baptist Convention to reject the NIV's previous translation in 2005.

At issue is how to translate pronouns that apply to both genders in the ancient Greek and Hebrew texts but have traditionally been translated using masculine forms in English.

An example from the translator's notes for Mark 4:25 show how the NIV's translation of these words has evolved over the past quarter-century.

The widely distributed 1984 version of the NIV quotes Jesus: "Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him."

The more recent incarnation of the NIV from 2005, called Today's New International Version, changed that to: "Those who have will be given more; as for those who do not have, even what they have will be taken from them."

The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood complained in 2005 that making the subject of a verse plural to convey that it could refer equally to a man or a woman "potentially obscured an important aspect of biblical thought — that of the personal relationship between an individual and God."

The NIV 2011 seems to have taken that criticism into account and come up with a compromise: "Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them."

Although the translators' former grammar teachers might not like it, the translators offer a strong justification for their choice of "they" (instead of the clunky "he or she") and "them" (instead of "him or her") to refer back to the singular "whoever."

The translators commissioned an extensive study of the way modern English writers and speakers convey gender inclusiveness. According to the translators' notes on the committee's website, "The gender-neutral pronoun ‘they' (‘them'/'their') is by far the most common way that English-language speakers and writers today refer back to singular antecedents such as ‘whoever,' ‘anyone,' ‘somebody,' ‘a person,' ‘no one,' and the like."

Randy Stinson, president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and dean of the School of Church Ministries at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said the changes are especially important to evangelicals.

"Evangelicals believe in the verbal plenary inspiration of scripture. We believe every word is inspired by God, not just 
the broad thought," he said.

So if the original text reads "brothers" — even if that word in the original language is known to mean "brothers and sisters" (such as the Hebrew "achim" or Spanish "hermanos") — many evangelicals believe the English translation should read "brothers."

Stinson said a notes section would be the best place to point out that the original word could be read to include men and women.

It's not yet known if the Southern Baptist Convention will reject the new translation the way it did the 2005 version. The nation's largest Protestant denomination still sells the 1984 translation in its stores. If it chooses to condemn the new version, that would happen at its national convention in June.

The publisher says the NIV 2011 will replace both the 1984 and 2005 versions.

Even while panning the new translation, the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood thanked the Committee on Bible Translation for being open about the process they used to develop it. That included taking comments from all 
sides of the gender debate.

And the new version doesn't always use gender neutral language. It takes reader sensibility into account by not using inclusive terms for some of the most familiar verses where that might sound jarring. For instance, Matthew 4:4 is rendered, "Man shall not live on bread alone."

That's a change from the 2005 version, where the same phase read, "People do not live on bread alone."

"I think that clause has entered into standard English," translator Douglas Moo explained. "People know it who don't know the Bible."

Moo said the translators hope that the phrasing of the new NIV is so natural that the average reader won't be aware of any of the gender language concerns debated by biblical scholars and linguists.

The group's website says its goal is "to articulate God's unchanging Word in the way the original authors might have said it if they had been speaking in English to the global English-speaking audience today."

Although the change to the generic "man" in some verses is applauded by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, linguist Joel Hoffman, author of "And God Said — How Translations Conceal the Bible's Original Meaning," said it is simply incorrect.

" ‘Anthropos' (the Greek word in the original text) means ‘person,' plain and simple," he said. "It's as much a mistake as translating ‘parent' as ‘father.' "

Changing verses

Some examples from changes to gender language between the New International Version Bible's 1984 translation and the 2011 translation:

Matthew 6:24

NIV 1984: No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

NIV 2011:No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Mark 1:17

NIV 1984: ‘Come, follow me,' Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.'

NIV 2011: ‘Come, follow me,' Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.'

Luke 21:16

NIV 1984: You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death.

NIV 2011:You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death.

John 3:5

NIV 1984:Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.'

NIV 2011:Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.'

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Saturday 03-26-11

Thanks to Survival Blog and it contributors for this one. Wow what an eye opener, but it will never happen, they will never do that. Then why make the law, in the first place.

Emergency plans in Louisville raise eyebrows Council members express concern over sanctity of private property rights

Language in Louisville's proposed emergency response plan, which would give the city the power to "commandeer private property" and "seize" buildings in a crisis, has given several of the city's elected leaders pause.

The emergency ordinance, which was supposed to have gotten an up or down vote earlier this month, was instead tabled until April so that the council can figure out how it wants to deal with what one member called the measure's "stark" language.

"I think any time you talk about government seizing private property -- that's not something I'm comfortable with," Councilman Bob Muckle said Tuesday.

Muckle said he understood that in extraordinary circumstances, extraordinary measures must be taken, but he said he wants to hear from the police chief and other city staff on exactly how they envision implementing Louisville's emergency measures.

The subject of municipal crisis management has taken on a special urgency in the wake of Japan's earthquake and tsunami and the resulting nuclear and humanitarian crises.

While Councilman Hank Dalton said it's unlikely Louisville will ever experience a crisis on the scale of what struck Japan or New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, it's important to enact policy that is crystal clear to the citizenry.

"It's just a sensitivity about what Louisville residents are going to see when they see it," he said. "If you just have the stark language without the context, you don't get that understanding."

In large part, the city's proposed ordinance is fairly straightforward.

It directs the mayor to declare a disaster emergency if the threat of severe damage, injury or loss of life is imminent as the result of a flood, fire, earthquake, storm, hazardous substance spill, civil disturbance, drought, blight or invasion -- among other calamities.

It lays out a line of succession in city government should anyone become incapacitated, allows the city to shut down roads, compel an evacuation and establish a curfew.

In fact, said Louisville Police Chief Bruce Goodman, much of the language was taken from ordinances in other places.

That includes Boulder, which updated its emergency response plan in 2009. Its protocols also give the city the power to "commandeer or use any private property," but doesn't assign it the right to seize anything.

Goodman, who has been pushing Louisville to adopt an emergency preparedness plan for several years, said he understands how some of the draconian language in the ordinance raises "red flags," including a section that empowers city officials to "seize any food, clothing, water or medical supplies necessary to sustain displaced disaster victims."

But he said the real life examples of a temporary takeover of property during an emergency are a lot milder than what the words connote.

"It can be as minor as using a piece of land to park emergency vehicles," Goodman said.

During forest fires, he said, helicopters have filled up buckets from private water sources. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the federal government commandeered buses to move victims out of the danger zone.

The ordinance calls for the city to reimburse anyone for property taken during a crisis.

"I think in those terms, people understand it," Goodman said.

Judd Golden, chairman of the Boulder chapter of the ACLU, said Louisville has the right and responsibility to prepare itself for a possible disaster. But the ordinance should be open to judicial review in case the city overreaches.

"The government needs to have power, but it doesn't need to have unchecked power," he said. "This can be done in a way that eliminates the potential for abuse."

Louisville Mayor Chuck Sisk agreed, saying that the language in the proposed ordinance caused him immediate concern. He said he will be asking questions of staff next month as to whether the city even needs an emergency preparedness plan or whether what's in place now is sufficient.

"Any time you do something like this, there has to be balancing involved," the mayor said. "I want to make sure we're proactive, but I also want to make sure we're being reasonable."

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday 03-25-11

This is a great idea until you are considered by the powers that be (now or in the future) a terrorist.

Rights Are Curtailed for Terror Suspects .

New rules allow investigators to hold domestic-terror suspects longer than others without giving them a Miranda warning, significantly expanding exceptions to the instructions that have governed the handling of criminal suspects for more than four decades.

Courtroom sketch of bombing suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.
.The move is one of the Obama administration's most significant revisions to rules governing the investigation of terror suspects in the U.S. And it potentially opens a new political tussle over national security policy, as the administration marks another step back from pre-election criticism of unorthodox counterterror methods.

The Supreme Court's 1966 Miranda ruling obligates law-enforcement officials to advise suspects of their rights to remain silent and to have an attorney present for questioning. A 1984 decision amended that by allowing the questioning of suspects for a limited time before issuing the warning in cases where public safety was at issue.

That exception was seen as a limited device to be used only in cases of an imminent safety threat, but the new rules give interrogators more latitude and flexibility to define what counts as an appropriate circumstance to waive Miranda rights.

A Federal Bureau of Investigation memorandum reviewed by The Wall Street Journal says the policy applies to "exceptional cases" where investigators "conclude that continued unwarned interrogation is necessary to collect valuable and timely intelligence not related to any immediate threat." Such action would need prior approval from FBI supervisors and Justice Department lawyers, according to the memo, which was issued in December but not made public.

Matthew Miller, a Justice Department spokesman, said the memo ensures that "law enforcement has the ability to question suspected terrorists without immediately providing Miranda warnings when the interrogation is reasonably prompted by immediate concern for the safety of the public or the agents." He said "the threat posed by terrorist organizations and the nature of their attacks—which can include multiple accomplices and interconnected plots—creates fundamentally different public safety concerns than traditional criminal cases."

Attorney General Eric Holder suggested changing the guidelines last year after dust-ups over Miranda's use in two major domestic-terror arrests. The suspect in the Christmas Day 2009 bombing, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was questioned by FBI agents for less than an hour before being read his rights. Times Square bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad was questioned for three hours.

In both cases, the administration said suspects provided valuable information to the FBI despite being advised of their rights. But the decision nonetheless provoked criticism from Republicans and some Democrats who said an opportunity to gain time-sensitive intelligence was lost.

The new guidelines could blunt criticism from Republicans, many of whom have pushed for terror suspects to be sent to military detention, where they argue that rigid Miranda restrictions don't apply. But many liberals will likely oppose the move, as might some conservatives who believe the administration doesn't have legal authority to rein in such rights.

The Justice Department believes it has the authority to tinker with Miranda procedures. Making the change administratively rather than through legislation in Congress, however, presents legal risks.

"I don't think the administration can accomplish what I think needs to be done by policy guidance alone," said California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. "It may not withstand the scrutiny of the courts in the absence of legislation."

New York Republican Peter King, chairman of the House homeland-security committee, is among the lawmakers who welcomed Mr. Holder's call to change Miranda. At a hearing last year, Mr. King said, "It's important that we ensure that the reforms do go forward and that at the very least the attorney general consults with everyone in the intelligence community before any Miranda warning is given."

The administration suggested legislation last year to alter Miranda but was rebuffed by Congress, administration officials said. Its proposals faltered due to objections from Democrats, who had no appetite for tinkering with Supreme Court precedent, and Republicans who aired civil-liberties concerns or rejected civilian custody for terror suspects.

The Miranda protocols have been controversial since the high court formalized a practice that was already in use by the FBI, albeit not uniformly. Conservatives have long argued that the warning impedes law enforcement's ability to protect the public.

President Barack Obama has grappled with a web of terrorism policies cobbled together since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Before becoming president, Mr. Obama had criticized the Bush administration for going outside traditional criminal procedures to deal with terror suspects, and for bypassing Congress in making rules to handle detainees after 9/11. He has since embraced many of the same policies while devising additional ones—to the disappointment of civil-liberties groups that championed his election. In recent weeks, the administration formalized procedures for indefinitely detaining some suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, allowing for periodic reviews of those deemed too dangerous to set free.

The Bush administration, in the aftermath of 9/11, chose to bypass the Miranda issue altogether as it crafted a military-detention system that fell outside the rules that govern civilians. Under Mr. Bush, the government used Miranda in multiple terror cases. But Mr. Bush also ordered the detention of two people in a military brig as "enemy combatants." The government eventually moved both suspects—Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen, and Ali al-Marri, a Qatari man—into the federal criminal-justice system after facing legal challenges. In other cases, it processed suspects through the civilian system.

An increase in the number of domestic-terror cases in recent years has made the issue more pressing.

The Miranda change leaves other key procedures in place, notably federal rules for speedy presentation of suspects before a magistrate, normally within 24 hours. Legal experts say those restrictions are bigger obstacles than Miranda to intelligence gathering. The FBI memo doesn't make clear whether investigators seeking exemptions would have to provide a Miranda warning at the time of such a hearing.

Also unchanged is the fact that any statements suspects give during such pre-Miranda questioning wouldn't be admissible in court, the memo says.


A Process for Questioning Detainees
From Miranda v. Arizona ruling: "Prior to any questioning, the person must be warned that he has a right to remain silent, that any statement he does make may be used as evidence against him, and that he has a right to the presence of an attorney, either retained or appointed. The defendant may waive effectuation of these rights, provided the waiver is made voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently."

—Chief Justice Earl Warren, 1966

Miranda v. Arizona (1966)

Landmark ruling, citing the Fifth Amendment, says suspects must be reminded of their right to avoid self incrimination.

Rhode Island v. Innis (1980)

Police can't perform questioning or its "functional equivalent" if a suspect requests an attorney.

New York v. Quarles (1984)

Police don't have to read Miranda rights if there are "overriding considerations of public safety."

Dickerson v. United States (2000)

Congress can't void Miranda rights through law.

Missouri v. Seibert (2004)

Police can't obtain a confession without a Miranda warning, then provide one and immediately obtain a second confession.

Berghuis v. Thompkins (2010)

Suspects don't have to explicitly waive their Miranda rights for a confession to be admissible.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thursday 03-24-11

Good news for once.

Couple recount fatal fray at their Tierra Verde home

Meghan Brown had fired her pink .38-caliber handgun only inside a shooting range. Even there, she said, she wasn't very good.

The 2009 Miss Tierra Verde, 25 and a slender brunet, had trouble pulling back the trigger. When she did manage, she said she almost never hit the target.

That Saturday was different.

A man barged into her home, attacking her and beating her fiance. Adrenaline pumping, she fetched the gun from her bedroom. She trained it on the man, following his movements as he tussled with her fiance.

She saw an opening. She pulled the trigger. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop.

Albert F. Hill, 42, never got up.

"I'm glad it was me," Brown said. "Not everybody else is that prepared, you know what I mean. Not everybody else is walking around with a loaded .38."


Tell us all your AR-15 purchasers
By: Joe Huffman

This is an interesting way to have your guns registered—the police just ask. What would the public response be if they were asking about Koran, “Heather Has Two Mommies”, or “Earth in the Balance” sales?

Update: Via Joe Waldron's GOAL Post 2011-11:

Earlier this week most, if not all, firearms dealers in Washington received a letter from the Washington State Patrol asking for data on ALL AR-15s (and clones) and AR-15 lower receivers sold or purchased by the dealers over the past nine months. The information sought was reportedly requested pursuant to an investigation of a stolen AR-15.

Apparently the ATF (who has jurisdiction over tracing stolen firearms) was not consulted by the WSP before they initiated their query. It would appear the WSP request FAR EXCEEDED their authority to seek such information. It typically would take a subpoena to gain access to such a broad sweep of transaction records. And that would have to be signed by a judge, after presentation of sufficient probable cause.

It is my understanding most dealers politely declined to comply, as was their right. The Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation jumped right into this issue. Meanwhile, in addition to ATF asking questions (of the WSP), several state legislators want to know what's going on.

BATFE has broad legal authority to examine firearm dealers' records.

Local law enforcement has much more limited authority in cases like this. I suspect this was simple overreach by an over-zealous and perhaps inexperienced WSP detective. At least I hope that's what it was. Eternal vigilance remains the price of liberty!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wednesday 03-23-11

Found this to be sad and true at the same time. What a shame

Same as the Old Boss

March 21, 2011, 10:47 am So, just to make sure I’m following this…

Extended “tax cuts for the rich”? Check.

Continued Drug War? Check.

Increased unemployment? Check.

Issuing executive orders and signing statements when Congress doesn’t do what he wants? Check.

Gitmo still open? Check.

Troops in Afghanistan? Check.

Troops in Iraq? Check.

And now, we have an unauthorized war against an Arab dictator to sorta-remove him from power? (Which, for the record, I support in principle, but I’m getting serious misgivings about the methods being employed)

We have to pay them why should not they?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tuesday 03-22-11

This to good to be true, if they will follow through. I'll take bets, lol

Legislator says the state needs its own currency

RALEIGH -- Cautioning that the federal dollars in your wallet could soon be little more than green paper backed by broken promises, state Rep. Glen Bradley wants North Carolina to issue its own legal tender backed by silver and gold.

The Republican from Youngsville has introduced a bill that would establish a legislative commission to study his plan for a state currency. He is also drafting a second bill that would require state government to accept gold and silver coins as payment for taxes and fees.

If the state treasurer starts accepting precious metals as payment, Bradley said that could prod the private sector to follow suit - potentially allowing residents to trade gold for groceries.

"I think we're in the process of inflating a dollar bubble that could be very devastating," said Bradley, a freshman legislator elected in November's GOP tide. "The idea is once the study commission finishes its work, then we could build on top of the hard-money currency with an actual State Tender Act that will basically [issue currency] in correspondence to precious metals stored in the state treasury."

Bradley's bill has yet to attract any co-sponsors among his fellow Republicans.

Mike Walden, an economics professor at N.C. State University, said the notion of North Carolina reverting to having its own currency is outlandish.

"We dealt with this issue about 100 years ago when the Federal Reserve was established," Walden said. "If North Carolina were to have its own currency, that would put us at an extreme competitive disadvantage vis-a-vis other parts of the country and other parts of the world."

State Treasurer Janet Cowell joked that Bradley's precious metals proposal could increase efficiency in state government by providing a good use for her department's old basement vault, which is currently used for storage.

"I look forward to engaging in an important public policy debate about whose face should be on the gold coin," quipped Cowell, a Democrat.

But Bradley predicts that world events could soon prove him prescient.

"I don't necessarily believe [the Federal Reserve] is about to collapse right now," said Bradley, 37. "There are still a few things they can do with qualitative easing to sort of extend their survival. It's just a question of how long. Right know we have a lot of sovereign debt going to China and Japan. When that debt stops being purchased by foreign countries, that currency is going to flood back onto American shores, potentially creating hyperinflation and bursting the currency bubble we have coming in Federal Reserve notes today."

The Austrian School

Bradley, a self-employed computer technician and former Marine, attended Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest until he could no longer afford tuition, he said. While he has not taken any in-depth classes in economics, Bradley described himself as a devotee of the Austrian School, a branch of economic thought that originated in Vienna and was influential before World War I.

Back then the value of most of the world's currencies were tied to the amount of the gold amassed in their national treasuries. The United States abandoned the gold standard in 1933, after it was blamed for worsening the Great Depression.

Though the ideas of the Austrian School have been rejected by mainstream economists for much of the last century, they are in vogue with Libertarians and some supporters of the tea party movement.

The language of Bradley's House Bill 301 predicts a dire future for the U.S. economy.

"Many widely recognized experts predict the inevitable destruction of the Federal Reserve System's currency through hyperinflation in the foreseeable future," the bill declares. "In the event of hyperinflation, depression, or other economic calamity related to the breakdown of the Federal Reserve System, for which the State is not prepared, the State's governmental finances and private economy will be thrown into chaos. ..."

Asked who are the "widely recognized experts" to which his bill refers, Bradley cited U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas and Peter Schiff, a precious-metals dealer and investor who regularly appears as a commentator on Fox News.

Walden, the economics professor, said the views espoused by adherents of the Austrian School are well outside the mainstream of modern economic thought.

Bradley's ideas for taking the state back to the Gilded Age don't end at economics.

About Commerce Clause

A strict Constitutionalist, he has also introduced bills to exempt North Carolina agricultural products and firearms manufactured in the state from federal regulation as long as they are not sold or exported across state lines, measures that fly in the face of more than a century of U.S. Supreme Court rulings interpreting the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

"They're wrong," Bradley said confidently of generations of justices. "The 10th Amendment is quite clear that those powers not reserved in the Constitution for the federal government are reserved to the states. It's doesn't take a high-priced lawyer to interpret the Constitution."

Rep. Becky Carney, a Charlotte Democrat, said she found Bradley's currency bill "perplexing."

"There has absolutely been no indication of the collapse of the Federal Reserve system," said Carney, who serves on the House banking committee. "It sounds like the Chicken Little story about 'the sky is falling.'"

The office of House Speaker Thom Tillis declined to say whether the GOP leadership supports Bradley's proposal to create a state currency. His bill has been referred to the House rules committee, where legislation is sometimes sent to die.

"There are a lot of diverse opinions and diverse views in our caucus," said Jordan Shaw, Tillis' spokesman. "I don't think we're going to forecast what will happen."

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday 03-21-11

Stealing your car through music

You can get in the mood for a road trip or wind down after a long day by listening to music while you're driving. But did you know music can also help a thief steal your car?

Most new cars have a computer system that controls many basic functions, and researchers working with the National Academy of Sciences have found they can change that computer to get access to your car. Someone could just add a virus to the music on a CD or an MP3 file you play in the car. They can also get control using your car's Bluetooth connection.

The researchers tell IDG News once control is taken, they can use the car's brakes, locks, and even modify the dashboard displays and trigger the GPS signal.

Researchers say the attack is very complicated, so you're probably safe for now, as long as car makers take the threat seriously and continue to upgrade their systems on new models.

The team didn't say what make they were working on, but did say it's a model year 2009.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Saturday 03-19-11

Two articles different in nature but worth looking at

I was always told that the laws should apply to everyone, equally

DOJ to white male bullying victims: Tough luck

The viral video sensation showing a bullying incident at an Australian school has brought the issue of bullying back into the spotlight. Here in the United States, the Obama administration has made school bullying a federal issue. Last week, President Barack Obama addressed an anti-bullying conference with First Lady Michelle Obama at his side. The administration's anti-bullying campaign has been ongoing since the beginning of Mr. Obama's term. The Department of Justice announced in December 2010 its intention to hold liable school districts that fail to protect students that are bullied.

DOJ’s website states:

The Civil Rights Division and the entire Justice Department are committed to ending bullying and harassment in schools, and the video highlights the Department’s authority to enforce federal laws that protect students from discrimination and harassment at school because of their race, national origin, disability, religion, and sex, including harassment based on nonconformity with gender stereotypes.

The statement later says:

The enforcement of the Equal Protection Clause, Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 in school districts is a top priority of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Additional information is available at the Civil Rights Division’s Educational Opportunities Section website at

Here is the catch. DOJ will only investigate bullying cases if the victim is considered protected under the 1964 Civil Rights legislation. In essence, only discrimination of the victim’s race, sex, national origin, disability, or religion will be considered by DOJ. The overweight straight white male who is verbally and/or physically harassed because of his size can consider himself invisible to the Justice Department.

Apparently, the Justice Department is going by George Orwell’s famous Animal Farm ending: “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.”

“We can only take action where we have legal authority,” wrote DOJ spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa in a December 2010 e-mail to The Washington Times Water Cooler. She continues:

“As stated in the website below, we are statutorily authorized to initiate suits under Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974, and under Title III of the American with Disabilities Act. More information on the Civil Rights Act, Equal Educational Opportunities Act, and the ADA can be found here: "

The Justice Department’s anti-bullying initiative is tantamount to bringing hate crime legislation to the public school system. Obviously, not only is the heterosexual white male student out of luck but inner city minority students lose out in this deal too.

If a schoolyard bully is a straight black male and his target is another straight black male where does that leave the victim in the eyes of Attorney General Eric Holder? What about two female students of the same sexual orientation and race? Is the victim in the latter situation considered to be less equal in the eyes of Obama’s Justice Department than a minority student who is picked on by a heterosexual white male student with no disabilities?

Unfortunately, the Justice Department is politicizing its priorities yet again. One must wonder why the administration believes it should be micro managing local school districts bullying problems. When the Justice Department is more interested in making ideological statements through seemingly sugar coated campaigns, no one should feel protected.

Why should it puzzle them, because we are being hypocritical (which is no surprise)

European governments “completely puzzled” about U.S. position on Libya

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's meetings in Paris with the G8 foreign ministers on Monday left her European interlocutors with more questions than answers about the Obama administration's stance on intervention in Libya.

Inside the foreign ministers' meeting, a loud and contentious debate erupted about whether to move forward with stronger action to halt Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi's campaign against the Libyan rebels and the violence being perpetrated against civilians. Britain and France argued for immediate action while Germany and Russia opposed such a move, according to two European diplomats who were briefed on the meeting.

Clinton stayed out of the fray, repeating the administration's position that all options are on the table but not specifically endorsing any particular step. She also did not voice support for stronger action in the near term, such as a no-fly zone or military aid to the rebels, both diplomats said.

"The way the U.S. acted was to let the Germans and the Russians block everything, which announced for us an alignment with the Germans as far as we are concerned," one of the diplomats told The Cable.

Clinton's unwillingness to commit the United States to a specific position led many in the room to wonder exactly where the administration stood on the situation in Libya.

"Frankly we are just completely puzzled," the diplomat said. "We are wondering if this is a priority for the United States."

On the same day, Clinton had a short meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, in which Sarkozy pressed Clinton to come out more forcefully in favor of action in Libya. She declined Sarkozy's request, according to a government source familiar with the meeting.

Sarkozy told Clinton that "we need action now" and she responded to him, "there are difficulties," the source said, explaining that Clinton was referring to China and Russia's opposition to intervention at the United Nations. Sarkozy replied that the United States should at least try to overcome the difficulties by leading a strong push at the U.N., but Clinton simply repeated, "There are difficulties."

One diplomat, who supports stronger action in Libya, contended that the United States' lack of clarity on this issue is only strengthening those who oppose action.

"The risk we run is to look weak because we've asked him to leave and we aren't taking any action to support our rhetoric and that has consequences on the ground and in the region," said the European diplomat.

British and French frustration with the lack of international will to intervene in Libya is growing. British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Tuesday that Arab sentiment was, "if you don't show your support for the Libyan people and for democracy at this time, you are saying you will intervene only when it's about your security, but you won't help when it's about our democracy."

France sent letters on Wednesday to all the members of the U.N. Security Council, which is discussing a Lebanon-sponsored resolution to implement a no-fly zone, calling on them to support the resolution, as has been requested by the Arab League.

"Together, we can save the martyred people of Libya. It is now a matter of days, if not hours. The worst would be that the appeal of the League of the Arab States and the Security Council decisions be overruled by the force of arms," the letter stated.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe wrote on his blog, "It is not enough to proclaim, as did almost all of the major democracies that ‘Qaddafi must go.' We must give ourselves the means to effectively assist those who took up arms against his dictatorship."

In an interview with the BBC on Wednesday in Cairo, Clinton pointed to the U.N. Security Council as the proper venue for any decision to be made and she pushed back at the contention by the British and the French that the U.S. was dragging its feet.

"I don't think that is fair. I think, based on my conversations in Paris with the G-8 ministers, which, of course, included those two countries, I think we all agree that given the Arab League statement, it was time to move to the Security Council to see what was possible," Clinton said. I don't want to prejudge it because countries are still very concerned about it. And I know how anxious the British and the French and the Lebanese are, and they have taken a big step in presenting something. But we want to get something that will do what needs to be done and can be passed."

"It won't do us any good to consult, negotiate, and then have something vetoed or not have enough votes to pass it," Clinton added.

Clinton met with Libyan opposition leader Mahmoud Jibril in Paris as well, but declined to make any promises on specific actions to support the Libyan opposition.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry (D-MA) also doubled down on his call for a no-fly zone over Libya in a speech on Wednesday at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

"The international community cannot simply watch from the sidelines as this quest for democracy is met with violence," he said. "The Arab League's call for a U.N. no-fly zone over Libya is an unprecedented signal that the old rules of impunity for autocratic leaders no longer stand... The world needs to respond immediately to avert a humanitarian disaster."

And Clinton's former top aide Anne-Marie Slaughter accused the Obama administration of prioritizing oil over the human rights of the people of Libya.

"U.S. is defining ‘vital strategic interest' in terms of oil and geography, not universal values. Wrong call that will come back to haunt us," she wrote on Wednesday on her Twitter page.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday 03/18/11

Why inflation hurts more than it did 30 years ago

WASHINGTON (AP) - Inflation spooked the nation in the early 1980s. It surged and kept rising until it topped 13 percent.

These days, inflation is much lower. Yet to many Americans, it feels worse now. And for a good reason: Their income has been even flatter than inflation.

Back in the '80's, the money people made typically more than made up for high inflation. In 1981, banks would pay nearly 16 percent on a six-month CD. And workers typically got pay raises to match their higher living costs.

No more.

Over the 12 months that ended in February, consumer prices increased just 2.1 percent. Yet wages for many people have risen even less _ if they're not actually frozen.

Social Security recipients have gone two straight years with no increase in benefits. Money market rates? You need a magnifying glass to find them.

That's why even moderate inflation hurts more now. And it's why if food and gas prices lift inflation even slightly above current rates, consumer spending could weaken and slow the economy.

"It feels far more painful now than in the '80s," says Judy Bates, who lives near Birmingham, Ala. "Money in the bank was growing like crazy because interest rates were high. My husband had a union job at a steel company and was getting cost-of-living raises and working overtime galore."

Bates, 58, makes her living writing and speaking about how people can stretch their dollars. Her husband, 61, is retired. They've paid off their mortgage and have no car payments. But they're facing higher prices for food, gas, utilities, insurance and health care, while fetching measly returns on their savings.

"You want to weep," Bates says.

Consumer inflation did pick up in February, rising 0.5 percent, because of costlier food and gas. Still, looked at over the past 12 months, price increases have remained low. Problem is, these days any inflation tends to hurt.

Not that everyone has been squeezed the same. It depends on personal circumstances. Some families with low expenses or generous pay increases have been little affected.

Others who are heavy users of items whose prices have jumped _ tuition, medical care, gasoline _ have been hurt badly. But almost everyone is being pinched because nationally, income has stagnated.

The median U.S. inflation-adjusted household income _ wages and investment income _ fell to $49,777 in 2009, the most recent year for which figures are available, the Census Bureau says. That was 0.7 percent less than in 2008.

Incomes probably dipped last year to $49,650, estimates Lynn Reaser, chief economist at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego and a board member of the National Association for Business Economics. That would mark a 0.3 percent drop from 2009. And incomes are likely to fall again this year _ to $49,300, she says.

Significant pay raises are rare during periods of high unemployment because workers have little bargaining power to demand them.

They surely aren't making it up at the bank. Last year, the average nationwide rate on a six-month CD was 0.44 percent. The rate on a money market account was even lower: 0.21 percent.

Now go back three decades, a time of galloping inflation, interest rates and bond yields. When Paul Volcker took over the Federal Reserve in 1979, consumer inflation was 13.3 percent, the highest since 1946. To shrink inflation, Volcker raised interest rates to levels not seen since the Civil War.

As interest rates soared, CD and money-market rates did, too. The average rate on money market accounts topped 9 percent. Treasury yields surged, pushing up rates on consumer and business loans. The 10-year Treasury note yielded more than 13 percent; today, it's 3.5 percent.

By 1984, consumers were enjoying a sweet spot: Lower prices but rising incomes and still-historically high rates on CDs and other savings investments. Consumer inflation had slid to 3.9 percent. Yet you could still get 10.7 percent on a six-month CD.

Even after accounting for inflation, the median income rose 3.1 percent from 1983 to 1984. At the time, workers were demanding _ and receiving _ higher wages.

More than 20 percent of U.S. workers belonged to a union in 1983. Labor contracts typically provided cost-of-living adjustments tied to inflation. And competition for workers meant those union pay increases helped push up income for non-union workers, too.

Last year, just 12 percent of U.S. workers belonged to unions. And among union members, a majority now work for the government, not private companies. Wages of government workers are under assault as state governments and the federal government seek to cut spending and narrow gaping budget deficits.

Workers' average weekly wages, adjusted for inflation, fell in February to $351.89. It was the third drop in four months.

The result is that even historically low inflation feels high. So "when you mention low inflation to real people on the street, they immediately roll their eyes," says Greg McBride, senior financial analyst at

Falling behind inflation is something many people hadn't experienced much in their working careers until now. In the 1990s and 2000s, for instance, most Americans kept ahead of rising prices. Inflation averaged under 3 percent.

And inflation-adjusted incomes rose steadily from 1994 to 1999. Once the 2001 recession hit, incomes did falter. But after that, they resumed their growth, rising each year until the most recent recession hit in December 2007.

Rates on six-month CDs were also much higher than they are now: They averaged 5.4 percent from 1990 to 1999 and 3.3 percent from 2000 to 2009.

These days, though, Americans face the certainty of higher prices ahead.

Whirlpool, Kraft, McDonald's, Clorox, Kellogg, and clothing companies such as Wrangler jeans maker VF Corp., J.C. Penney Co., and Nike say they plan to raise prices. Whirlpool, which makes Maytag and KitchenAid appliances, says it's raising prices in response to higher raw material costs.

Kellogg, which makes Frosted Flakes and Pop Tarts, is increasing prices on some products to offset costlier ingredients. Kellogg is responding to soaring costs for commodities including wheat, corn, sugar, cotton, beef and pork.

Vickens Moscova, a self-employed marketer in Elizabeth, N.J., says he's paying more for staples like cereal, bread, eggs and public transportation. Yet he's making little from his savings.

"It is a huge pinch," says Moscova, 25.

Though higher gasoline and food prices may lift the inflation rate in coming months, the Fed says it doesn't think inflation will pose a long-term threat to the economy. The central bank projects that inflation won't exceed 1.7 percent this year.

But if oil prices, now around $101 a barrel, were to go much higher, economists say heavier fuel bills would cause people and consumers to cut back spending on cars, appliances and other items.

Another recession would be possible if prices began to approach $150 a barrel. Back in 1983, a barrel of oil cost just $29.40 _ or $65 in today's prices, adjusted for inflation.

All that said, today's consumers are fortunate that today's lower rates mean one major household cost remains far lower than in the 1980s: a mortgage.

Thanks, in part, to the Fed's efforts to push down loan rates starting with the financial crisis, the average rate on a 30 year fixed mortgage is below 5 percent.

The comparable rate in 1981? 18 percent.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thursday 03-17-11

A felony?

White House wants new copyright law crackdown

The White House today proposed sweeping revisions to U.S. copyright law, including making "illegal streaming" of audio or video a federal felony and allowing FBI agents to wiretap suspected infringers.

In a 20-page white paper (PDF), the Obama administration called on the U.S. Congress to fix "deficiencies that could hinder enforcement" of intellectual property laws.

Victoria Espinel, the first Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, with Vice President Joe Biden during an event last year.

• The White House is concerned that "illegal streaming of content" may not be covered by criminal law, saying "questions have arisen about whether streaming constitutes the distribution of copyrighted works." To resolve that ambiguity, it wants a new law to "clarify that infringement by streaming, or by means of other similar new technology, is a felony in appropriate circumstances."

• Under federal law, wiretaps may only be conducted in investigations of serious crimes, a list that was expanded by the 2001 Patriot Act to include offenses such as material support of terrorism and use of weapons of mass destruction. The administration is proposing to add copyright and trademark infringement, arguing that move "would assist U.S. law enforcement agencies to effectively investigate those offenses."

• Under the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, it's generally illegal to distribute hardware or software--such as the DVD-decoding software Handbrake available from a server in France--that can "circumvent" copy protection technology. The administration is proposing that if Homeland Security seizes circumvention devices, it be permitted to "inform rightholders," "provide samples of such devices," and assist "them in bringing civil actions."

The term "fair use" does not appear anywhere in the report. But it does mention Web sites like The Pirate Bay, which is hosted in Sweden, when warning that "foreign-based and foreign-controlled Web sites and Web services raise particular concerns for U.S. enforcement efforts." (See previous coverage of a congressional hearing on overseas sites.)

The usual copyright hawks, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, applauded the paper, which grew out of a so-called joint strategic plan that Vice President Biden and Espinel announced in June 2010.

Rob Calia, a senior director at the Chamber's Global Intellectual Property Center, said we "strongly support the white paper's call for Congress to clarify that criminal copyright infringement through unauthorized streaming, is a felony. We know both the House and Senate are looking at this issue and encourage them to work closely with the administration and other stakeholders to combat this growing threat."

In October 2008, President Bush signed into law the so-called Pro IP ACT, which created Espinel's position and increased penalties for infringement, after expressing its opposition to an earlier version.

Unless legislative proposals--like one nearly a decade ago implanting strict copy controls in digital devices--go too far, digital copyright tends not to be a particularly partisan topic. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, near-universally disliked by programmers and engineers for its anti-circumvention section, was approved unanimously in the U.S. Senate.

At the same time, Democratic politicians tend to be a bit more enthusiastic about the topic. Biden was a close Senate ally of copyright holders, and President Obama picked top copyright industry lawyers for Justice Department posts. Last year, Biden warned that "piracy is theft."

No less than 78 percent of political contributions from Hollywood went to Democrats in 2008, which is broadly consistent with the trend for the last two decades, according to

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wednesday 03-16-11

Just a word to the wise,

How to prevent dangerous, easy GPS jamming
WASHINGTON -- It took engineers at Newark airport two months to figure out why a new navigation aid went on the blink twice a day. They eventually discovered the cause: a passing truck driver using a cheap GPS jammer to cheat tolls on the New Jersey Turnpike.

That was in 2009.

Two years earlier, the U.S. Navy jammed GPS reception as part of a military readiness exercise off the Southern California coast. describes the chaotic two hour disruption to air traffic controllers' monitors, failure of doctors' emergency pagers, ATMs refusing to dispense cash, confused maritime traffic management and a cell phone blackout.

GPS systems do more than tell us where to turn. That's why jamming them is so dangerous.

GPS signals are easy to jam because they are so weak. Satellites send the low-power, line-of-sight signals from more than 12,000 miles away. NASA calls them "equivalent to a Los Angeles user receiving the light from a 60 watt light bulb in New York."

NASA prepared a white paper last November, laying out its assessment of the threat along with recommendations for coping with it.

They include:

•A recommendation that the president formally declare GPS "critical infrastructure," and assign its management to the Department of Homeland Security.

•A national network for alerting and pinpointing interference.

•Congressional legislation addressing GPS interference "that provides substantial fines and jail time for both possession and use of GPS jammers."

•Hardening GPS receivers and antennas.

•Funding a back-up system capable that will "insure continuity" of GPS operations.
A back-up system does - or did - exist and was used before GPS became standard.

Before satellite navigation existed, e-Loran, a less fragile ground-based radio-navigation, was used extensively and successfully.

The cost of maintaining a ground-based system would be around $20 million a year, according to an Institute for Defense Analysis study.

Although the general public has had little awareness of GPS jamming, federal security agencies have been thinking about it long and hard.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has floated a plausible fix to the puzzle of how jammers could be located.

DARPA proposes creating free smart phone apps that can detect GPS jammers, and that the public be asked to download them and always leave them on, The Economist reports.

Widespread use of the app would create a high-density detection network that could pinpoint jammers quickly.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tuesday 03-15-11

Now this what happens in America, everytime it snows and a storm threatens. It is also what we have to look forward too in my opinion. Buy a little extra every week.

Japan's nuclear emergency prompts panic buying in Tokyo
Residents in the capital, 150 miles south of Fukushima, prepare for possible lockdown as embassies advise citizens to leave

News of a serious radiation leak at the Fukushima nuclear plant has sparked panic buying in Tokyo, as some residents started to leave the capital to escape potential contamination.

Several embassies advised their citizens to leave affected areas, including Tokyo, and some multinational companies either told staff to leave or were considering relocating outside the city.

As officials urged people living near the stricken plant to stay indoors, residents in the capital, 150 miles to the south, began preparing for the possibility of a similar lockdown.

Experts were keen to stress, however, that only "minute" levels of radiation had been detected in Tokyo.

Weather forecasters said winds near the atomic plant, which experienced a third explosion on Tuesday morning, were blowing in a south-westerly direction – towards Tokyo – but would move in a westerly direction later in the day.

People in the capital, home to 12 million, snapped up radios, torches, candles, fuel containers and sleeping bags, while for the fourth day there was a run on bread, canned goods, instant noodles, bottled water and other foodstuffs at supermarkets.

Retailers said the panic buying was reminiscent of the oil crisis in the 1970s.

The electronics firm Panasonic said it was increasing production of batteries, which were being bought in large quantities as far away as Hiroshima in the south-west.

Fears are rising that if the hoarding frenzy continues it will affect the ability to deliver emergency supplies to the disaster zone. "The situation is hysterical," said Tomonao Matsuo, a spokesman for the instant noodle maker Nissin Foods. "People feel safer just by buying Cup Noodles."

Foreign journalists covering the nuclear crisis, including reporters from the BBC and CNN, withdrew from the Fukushima area. On Monday, the German magazine Der Spiegel said its veteran war correspondent was being pulled out of Tokyo.

Tourists cut short holidays and descended on international airports in Tokyo and Osaka, seeking flights home. They included about 200 South Koreans who have now arrived back in Seoul.

Liezel Strauss, a South African, said on Twitter on Tuesday morning: "I just woke up to several calls & emails, family & husband freaking out, it's time to go, flight booked to singapore this pm."

She added: "Realised no use staying stressing + freaking my family out if i'm not helping and physically contributing, I want to but reality is I'm not."

The number of people stranded at Narita airport, near Tokyo, rose after airlines cancelled flights but officials said there had been no surge in passenger numbers.

Air China cancelled flights to Tokyo from Beijing and Shanghai. Other airlines in the region said they were monitoring the situation but had no immediate plans to cancel services.

South Korea has urged its nationals in Japan to stay away from the quake zone while Germany advised its citizens to consider leaving the country.

The French embassy warned that a radioactive wind could reach Tokyo on Tuesday evening and advised its citizens to leave.

Britain's Foreign Office advised against all non-essential travel to Tokyo and north-eastern Japan. "Our advice is people should take their lead from the Japanese authorities," the Foreign Office minister Jeremy Browne told Sky News.

The US state department urged its citizens to avoid tourism and non-essential travel to Japan. "[Our] travel advice is not to go to that part of Japan in any case unless you have an extremely compelling reason for doing so," it said.

Japan's government has ordered people within 12 miles of the Fukushima No 1 plant, about 150 miles north-east of Tokyo, to evacuate. Those living between 12 and 19 miles from the plant were told to stay indoors due to fears of exposure to radiation.

In Saitama, a prefecture north of Tokyo where safe but higher radiation levels have been detected, residents struggled to secure food. Yoshiyuki Sakuma was one of many who could not find a single bag of rice. "I couldn't find any anywhere," he said, adding he was now searching for bread.

"If you lose electricity, water and gas, at least you can still eat bread."

Here is a neat website and is worth watching for a few weeks especailly for the few that live on the West Coast.

Welcome to, home of the National Radiation Map, depicting environmental radiation levels across the USA, updated in real time every minute. This is the first web site where the average citizen (or anyone in the world) can see what radiation levels are anywhere in the USA at any time

Monday, March 14, 2011

Monday 03-14-11

I wish this were true about American society

Why is there no looting in Japan?
By Ed West World Last updated: March 14th, 2011

The landscape of parts of Japan looks like the aftermath of World War Two; no industrialised country since then has suffered such a death toll. The one tiny, tiny consolation is the extent to which it shows how humanity can rally round in times of adversity, with heroic British rescue teams joining colleagues from the US and elsewhere to fly out.

And solidarity seems especially strong in Japan itself. Perhaps even more impressive than Japan’s technological power is its social strength, with supermarkets cutting prices and vending machine owners giving out free drinks as people work together to survive. Most noticeably of all, there has been no looting, and I’m not the only one curious about this.

This is quite unusual among human cultures, and it’s unlikely it would be the case in Britain. During the 2007 floods in the West Country abandoned cars were broken into and free packs of bottled water were stolen. There was looting in Chile after the earthquake last year – so much so that troops were sent in; in New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina saw looting on a shocking scale.

Why do some cultures react to disaster by reverting to everyone for himself, but others – especially the Japanese – display altruism even in adversity?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday 03-11-11

It is just one of those days, i hope these guys fry. I will pay for the electric bill if they let me pull the switch.

Affidavit: Texas girl's assault recorded on cell phones

An alleged sexual assault of a Texas girl involving nearly 20 people was recorded on cell phones, and a video of the alleged incident was circulating among students in her school district, according to court documents obtained Tuesday.

As of Monday, 13 adults and five juveniles had been arrested as part of the investigation, authorities said. A defense attorney for one of the suspects told CNN affiliate KPRC that the number of suspects could increase.

"I don't know the exact number of people involved," James Evans said. "I've heard as many as 28 or more."

The case has sharply divided the community, according to CNN affiliate KHOU, which reported the girl was 11 years old.

Darrel Broussard, assistant police chief for the Cleveland, Texas, Police Department, said Monday that the investigation into the incident "is continuous," with more significant developments possible. Cleveland is about 50 miles northeast of Houston.

"There have been leads during our investigation that have alerted us to other possible persons of interest," Broussard told CNN. "The investigation is ongoing."

The 18 individuals charged thus far are between 14 and 27 years old, he said. Those who are adults were indicted last month on a charge of aggravated sexual assault of a child.

On Friday, the Cleveland Police Department announced that four students in the Cleveland Independent School District had been arrested on charges of aggravated sexual assault of a child under 14. The juveniles appeared Monday in a Liberty County court in the town of Liberty.

Police noted that some but not all suspects are students at Cleveland High School.

Mike Little, the district attorney in Liberty County, said police would likely decide whether more people would be charged. He offered few other details, saying Monday, "We are very careful about pretrial publicity."

The incident allegedly happened November 28 at two residences in Cleveland, according to a search warrant affidavit obtained by CNN on Tuesday.

The girl told a school district police chief about the incident, who notified Cleveland police on December 3, the affidavit said. The chief then interviewed employees of the Cleveland Independent School District who had heard of the incident, according to the documents. One employee spoke with several students "who had seen the cell phone videos or heard of the incident," according to the affidavit.

The girl told a forensic interviewer from a child advocacy center that one suspect called her "and asked if she wanted to ride around" on that day, the affidavit said. Three of the suspects picked her up and took her to one residence where a fourth suspect lived. The fourth suspect told her to take her clothes off, she said, adding that "he would have some girls 'beat her up' or she would not be taken back to her residence if she did not comply." the affidavit said.

The girl said she engaged in sexual acts in the bedroom and bathroom of the residence. While in the bathroom, she said, she heard one suspect on the phone inviting other people over to have sex with her, and said when she came out of the bathroom four men she did not know were there, the affidavit said.

The aunt of the suspect arrived home, however, and "the victim and the other individuals left the residence in haste through the rear window of the house," according to the affidavit. After leaving, the girl said she and the others went to an abandoned trailer where the sexual acts continued, the affidavit said.

"Victim stated that digital still images and digital video images of the sex acts were recorded by one or more individuals using cellular telephones," according to the affidavit.

Broussard told CNN on Tuesday that it took authorities months to investigate the incident and obtain indictments and arrest warrants. "To put together the case, it takes time to do that," he said.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thursday 03-10-11

What in the world are we thinking?

Welfare State: Handouts Make Up One-Third of U.S. Wages

Government payouts—including Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance—make up more than a third of total wages and salaries of the U.S. population, a record figure that will only increase if action isn’t taken before the majority of Baby Boomers enter retirement.

Even as the economy has recovered, social welfare benefits make up 35 percent of wages and salaries this year, up from 21 percent in 2000 and 10 percent in 1960, according to TrimTabs Investment Research using Bureau of Economic Analysis data.

“The U.S. economy has become alarmingly dependent on government stimulus,” said Madeline Schnapp, director of Macroeconomic Research at TrimTabs, in a note to clients. “Consumption supported by wages and salaries is a much stronger foundation for economic growth than consumption based on social welfare benefits.”

The economist gives the country two stark choices. In order to get welfare back to its pre-recession ratio of 26 percent of pay, “either wages and salaries would have to increase $2.3 trillion, or 35 percent, to $8.8 trillion, or social welfare benefits would have to decline $500 billion, or 23 percent, to $1.7 trillion,” she said.

Last month, the Republican-led House of Representatives passed a $61 billion federal spending cut, but Senate Democratic leaders and the White House made it clear that had no chance of becoming law. Short-term resolutions passed have averted a government shutdown that could have occurred this month, as Vice President Biden leads negotiations with Republican leaders on some sort of long-term compromise.

“You’ve got to cut back government spending and the Republicans will run on this platform leading up to next year’s election,” said Joe Terranova, Chief Market Strategist for Virtus Investment Partners and a “Fast Money” trader.

Terranova noted some sort of opt out for social security or even raising the retirement age.

But the country may not be ready for these tough choices, even though economists like Schnapp say something will have to be done to avoid a significant economic crisis.

A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released last week showed that less than a quarter of Americans supported making cuts to Social Security or Medicare in order to reign in the mounting budget deficit.

Those poll numbers may be skewed by a demographic shift the likes of which the nation has never seen. Only this year has the first round of baby boomers begun collecting Medicare benefits—and here comes 78 million more.

Social welfare benefits have increased by $514 billion over the last two years, according to TrimTabs figures, in part because of measures implemented to fight the financial crisis. Government spending normally takes on a larger part of the spending pie during economic calamities but how can the country change this make-up with the root of the crisis (housing) still on shaky ground, benchmark interest rates already cut to zero, and a demographic shift that calls for an increase in subsidies?

At the very least, we can take solace in the fact that we’re not quite at the state welfare levels of Europe. In the U.K., social welfare benefits make up 44 percent of wages and salaries, according to TrimTabs’ Schnapp.

“No matter how bad the situation is in the US, we stand far better on these issues (debt, demographics, entrepreneurship) than other countries,” said Steve Cortes of Veracruz Research. “On a relative basis, America remains the world leader and, as such, will also remain the world's reserve currency.”

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wednesday 03-09-11

It is amazing how asking a question can get you threatened.

In Wake Of Muslim Hearings, Rep. King Gets Security Upgrade

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Long Island Congressman Peter King is facing threats — and getting extra security.

But he vowed Monday to forge ahead with controversial hearings on radicalization in the Muslim-American community, reports CBS 2’s Tony Aiello.

King was heavily criticized at a weekend rally in Times Square.

“American Muslims are part of the American family and are Americans, too!” Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf said.

But the congressman was strongly supported at a smaller rally nearby.

“Imam Rauf and his friends are trying to create a phony trumped-up civil rights movement,” one King supporter said.

The wedge issue is Chairman King’s decision to call a Homeland Security Committee hearing Thursday titled “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community — and that Community’s Response.”

“I want to show the extent of that radicalization, how it happens. Also whether or not the Muslim community is fully cooperating,” Rep. King said.

Every Homeland Security chair gets protection, but King’s has been stepped up in the wake of threats — some generated by the controversy over the hearings.

“I’m getting a lot of hostile phone calls now, but the main threats I’m getting are from overseas,” Rep. King said.

King said he views his effort in the same vein as 1995 Senate hearings into the white militia movement, which took place right after the Oklahoma City terror bombing.

“And they were gathering support, and I thought it was important to investigate them,” King said.

King also said he promises to hear from a wide-range of voices, including Muslims that oppose the hearings, but intend to participate.

Among the figures invited to testify by Democrats is the sheriff of Los Angeles County, who is seen as a close ally of the Muslim community.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tuesday 03-08-11

TRAINS exclusive: Amtrak police chief bars Transportation Security Administration from some security operations
By Don Phillips
Published: March 3, 2011
WASHINGTON — In late February, the Transportation Security Administration took over the Amtrak station in Savannah, Ga., and thoroughly searched every person who entered. None of the passengers got into trouble, but the TSA certainly did — big time.

Amtrak Police Chief John O’Connor said he first thought a blog posting about the incident was a joke. When he discovered that the TSA’s VIPR team did at least some of what the blog said, he was livid. He ordered the VIPR teams off Amtrak property, at least until a firm agreement can be drawn up to prevent the TSA from taking actions that the chief said were illegal and clearly contrary to Amtrak policy.

“When I saw it, I didn’t believe it was real,” O’Connor said. When it developed that the posting on an anti-TSA blog was not a joke, “I hit the ceiling.”

Video of the screening is available at:

O’Connor said the TSA VIPR teams have no right to do more than what Amtrak police do occasionally, which has produced few if any protests and which O’Connor said is clearly within the law and the Constitution. More than a thousand times, Amtrak teams (sometimes including VIPR) have performed security screenings at Amtrak stations. These screenings are only occasional and random, and inspect the bags of only about one in 10 passengers. There is no wanding of passengers and no sterile area. O’Connor said the TSA violated every one of these rules.

A posting in late February to the Transportation Security Administration’s blog, which serves as a public relations tool of the TSA, tried to explain why TSA agents took over the Amtrak station in Savannah. But O’Connor said the “facts” as posted on the TSA blog were incorrect. He said the blog indicated that Amtrak had approved of the operation, but it had not. He called the TSA’s posting on “inaccurate and insensitive.” As of the time this story was filed, the same posting remained on the blog.

A TSA spokesman said he could not elaborate on the blog posting.

O’Connor said he must take some of the blame because he did not more carefully observe what the VIPR teams were doing. He said the TSA had apologized repeatedly to him, but they must agree to firm restrictions before he will consider allowing them back on Amtrak property.

The search was first revealed on the blog

However, that blog got it at least half wrong. The TSA did not, as the blog said, funnel people who arrived by train into the station for a search. Instead, the TSA took over the station and posted notes outside saying that anyone who entered would be “subject to mandatory screening.” Those who know the Savannah station realize that it generally is not necessary for anyone arriving or departing by train to go into the station. It is much easier to park the car or be dropped off near the platform.

Therefore, why was the TSA searching only anyone entering the station? It might even be easier to explain why they might have searched everyone. For instance, such questions as, did they have a tip someone was carrying a small atomic bomb? In the end, it is not even possible to discern a reason for what they actually did. Why search only people unfortunate enough to need to enter the station – people who needed to buy tickets, an elderly person who was dropped off and needed a place to sit while waiting, a mom whose infant badly needed a diaper change?

The group involved is TSA’s VIPR operation, which deals with surface transportation. VIPR is short for “visible intermodal protection and response.” It turns out that VIPR has been far more active than imagined. Teams have searched bus passengers all over the country, have done similar things at train stations, and have even blocked traffic on bridges to search trucks and cars. That even included the busy Chesapeake Bay Bridge near Washington.

The VIPR teams were rolled out on Dec. 12, 2005, then promptly pulled back two days later when it turned out that no one had informed numerous local governments. It was a fiasco. Several local jurisdictions said they had no interest and opted out, including the Washington Metro system. But teams, moving slowly, have apparently re-infiltrated surface transportation facilities. Unlike the TSA at airports, these teams have access to firepower. Although the TSA is not allowed to carry weapons, some armed Federal Air Marshals have been switched to ground duty.

One major unanswered question is: why? What purpose is being served other than to justify employment? You will certainly hear more about this in Trains.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Monday 03-07-11

And so it continues

Homeland Security seizes domain names
By Sara Jerome - 11/26/10 04:25 PM ET

The investigative arm of the Homeland Security Department appears to be shutting down websites that facilitate copyright infringement.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has seized dozens of domain names over the past few days, according to TorrentFreak.

ICE appears to be targeting sites that help Internet users download copyrighted music, as well as sites that sell bootleg goods, such as fake designer handbags.

The sites are replaced with a note from the government: "This domain named has been seized by ICE, Homeland Security Investigations."

For instance,,, and have each been seized.

One of the site owners told TorrentFreak that his site was shut down without any notice or warning.

The effort comes as Congress considers the Combatting Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA). Critics, including Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) say it is too heavy-handed. He has vowed to put a formal hold on the bill.

A few months ago there were several article in the blog about this, here is a update

TSA, DHS plan massive rollout of mobile surveillance vans with long-distance X-ray capability, eye movement tracking and more
Newly-released documents obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) reveal that the US Depart of Homeland Security has been working on plans to roll out a new wave of mobile surveillance technologies at train stations, stadiums and streets. These new technologies will track your eye movements, capture and record your facial dimensions for face-recognition processing, bathe you in X-rays to look under your clothes, and even image your naked body using whole-body infrared images that were banned from consumer video cameras because they allowed the camera owners to take "nude" videos of people at the beach.

Most importantly, many of these technologies are designed to be completely hidden, allowing the government to implement "covert inspection of moving subjects." You could be walking down a hallway at a sports stadium, in other words, never knowing that you're being bathed in X-rays from the Department of Homeland Security, whose operators are covertly looking under your clothes to see if you're carrying any weapons.

Roving vans to "track eye movements"
According to a article (, one project pursued by DHS using technology from Siemens would "mount backscatter x-ray scanners and video cameras on roving vans, along with other cameras on buildings and utility poles, to monitor groups of pedestrians, assess what they carried, and even track their eye movements."

Another project involved developing "a system of long range x-ray scanning to determine what metal objects an individual might have on his or her body at distances up to thirty feet."

We already know that the U.S. government has purchased 500 vans using covert backscatter technology to covertly scan people on the streets ( They're called "Z Backscatter Vans, or ZBVs."

This is all part of the U.S. government's new wave of police state surveillance that aims to track and irradiate innocent civilians who have committed no crime. Under the new Janet Napolitano regime, all Americans are now considered potential terrorists, and anyone can be subjected to government-sanctioned radiation scanning at any time, without their knowledge or approval.

And don't think these efforts will be limited merely to backscatter technology: The TSA is now testing full-power, deep-penetrating X-ray machines (like the ones that deliver chest X-rays in hospitals) in order to check people for bombs they may have swallowed. Yes, Janet Napolitano now wants to look inside your colon! And they're willing to X-ray everyone -- without their consent -- in order to do that.

Read the documents yourself
If you have trouble believing the U.S. government is unleashing a new wave of police state covert scanning vans on to the streets of America, you can read the documents yourself -- all 173 pages. They're available on the EPIC website at:

EPIC calls these vans "mobile strip search devices" because they give the federal government technology to look under your clothes without your permission or consent. It's also being done without probable cause, so it's a violation of the Fourth Amendment protections that are guaranteed to Americans under the Bill of Rights.

"It's a clear violation of the fourth amendment that's very invasive, not necessarily effective, and poses all the same radiation risks as the airport scans," said EPIC attorney Ginger McCall, in the Forbes article (above).

Huge health risks to the population
It's not just the privacy issues that raise red flags here, of course: It's also the fact that the U.S. government has no respect whatsoever for the health of its citizens who are being subjected to these radiation emitting devices. Even while the TSA refuses to release testing results from its own naked body scanners, DHS keeps buying more machines (and more powerful machines) that will only subject travelers to yet more radiation.

As we've already reported here on, numerous scientists are already on the record warning that the TSA's backscatter "naked body scanners" could cause breast cancer, sperm mutation and other health problems (

But the U.S. government doesn't seem to care what happens to your health. Their position is that their "right" to know what you're carrying under your clothes or inside your body overrides your right to privacy or personal health. All they have to do is float a couple of fabricated terrorism scare stories every few months, and then use those "threats" as justification for violating the Constitutional rights of U.S. citizens are very turn.

The real question in all this, of course, is how far will this go? The TSA is already reaching down your pants and feeling up peoples' genitals as part of the "security" measures. Will DHS soon just start subjecting people to body cavity searches as a necessary security requirement before entering a football stadium, for example? Will Americans now be X-rayed with cancer-causing ionizing radiation -- without their awareness or consent -- merely because they are walking down the street or boarding a train?

That seems to be the case. And as you can readily tell from all this, it's getting harder and harder for the fast-dwindling group of deniers to claim America isn't already a police state. The USA is fast becoming a high-tech version of the very worst police state tyrannies witnessed throughout human history. The only difference is that now they have "science" on their side with the coolest new technology that can violate your rights and irradiate your body in a hundred different ways, with high-resolution images and digital storage devices.

I suppose if all this were being done to really stop international terrorists, that might be one thing. But what has become increasingly clear in observing the government's behavior in this realm is that the U.S. government now considers Americans to be the enemy -- especially those who have the gall to defend their Constitutionally-protected freedoms or question the unjustified centralization of power taking place right now in Washington.

The DHS is America's new secret police. And their cameras are pointing inward, into the everyday lives of Americans; not outward, aimed at international terrorists.

When the price of security becomes forfeiting your liberty, the source of the "terror" is no longer the terrorists but your own government. Isn't this the lesson that history has taught us well?

Watch the talk by Naomi Wolf, who explains all this extremely well:

Part 1:

Part 2:

This video will open your eyes to what's really happening today. It has all happened before in recent history, and the patterns are undeniable. Watch the videos to learn more.