Sunday, November 30, 2008
The findings, which come from a series of published papers by a researcher at Sweden's Karolinska Institutet, show how a diet rich in fat, sugar and cholesterol could increase the risk of the most common type of dementia.
"On examining the brains of these mice, we found a chemical change not unlike that found in the Alzheimer brain," Susanne Akterin, a researcher at the Karolinska Institutet's Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, who led the study, said in a statement.
"We now suspect that a high intake of fat and cholesterol in combination with genetic factors ... can adversely affect several brain substances, which can be a contributory factor in the development of Alzheimer's."
Alzheimer's disease is incurable and is the most common form of dementia among older people. It affects the regions of the brain involving thought, memory and language.
While the most advanced drugs have focused on removing clumps of beta amyloid protein that forms plaques in the brain, researchers are also now looking at therapies to address the toxic tangles caused by an abnormal build-up of the protein tau.
In her research, Akterin focused on a gene variant called apoE4, found in 15 to 20 percent of people and which is a known risk factor for Alzheimer's. The gene is involved in the transport of cholesterol.
She studied mice genetically engineered to mimic the effect of the variant gene in humans, and which were fed a diet rich in fat, sugar and cholesterol for nine months -- meals representing the nutritional content of fast food.
These mice showed chemical changes in their brains, indicating an abnormal build-up of the protein tau as well as signs that cholesterol in food reduced levels of another protein called Arc involved in memory storage, Akterin said.
"All in all, the results give some indication of how Alzheimer's can be prevented, but more research in this field needs to be done before proper advice can be passed on to the general public," she said.
Kentucky’s Homeland Security office must publicize God’s benevolent protection of the state in its reports under the 2006 law that organized the department.
Under the law, Homeland Security’s religious duties come before anything else the department does, including distribution of millions of dollars in federal grants and analyzing possible threats.
The law lists the office’s initial duty as “stressing the dependence on Almighty God as being vital to the security of the Commonwealth.”
State Rep. Tom Riner of Louisville, who pushed for the religious requirement, told The Lexington Herald-Leader it was appropriate because government alone cannot protect the state.
State Sen. Kathy Stein of Lexington said the religious requirement takes away from the department’s mission.
The individuals developed agranulocytosis, a condition that makes the immune system incapable of fighting off infections.
It makes common infections become serious, even fatal, quite quickly.
"We are advising anyone who develops a fever or other signs of infection and has used cocaine to seek medical attention quickly," Dr. Gerry Predy, Alberta's Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health, said in a news release.
"Any skin abscess or lung infection that develops rapidly should also be treated immediately."
Officials have linked the cases to cocaine laced with levamisole, a chemical compound developed to treat intestinal worms in humans and animals.
The cases were reported in Edmonton, Red Deer, and in undisclosed locations in southern and northern Alberta.
Doctors in Alberta have been advised they should test and treat patients for this condition if they complain of a fever or other signs of infection after using cocaine.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Scientists from Ohio State University report that marijuana, contrary to the conventional wisdom, may help ward off Alzheimer's and keep recall sharp. Their findings, released today at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Washington D.C.: chemical components of marijuana reduce inflammation and stimulate the production of new brain cells, thereby enhancing memory.
The team suggested that a drug could be formulated that would resemble tetrahydroannibol, or THC, the psychoactive ingredient in pot sans making the user high. But the research may ultimately drive those who fear impending dementia to roll their own solution to the problem.
Study co-author Gary Wenk, a professor of psychology, had already devised a preliminary version of a THC-like synthetic drug that improves memory in lab animals. His team at the meeting said that it works by activating at least three receptors in the brain targeted by THC—proteins on the surface of nerve cells that then trigger cellular processes resulting in reduced inflammation and production of new brain cells that can boost recall. Understanding how the compounds work may pave the way for a pharmaceutical company to prepare its own med for human clinical trials.
The researchers ducked the obvious question of whether it might be simpler, faster and cheaper to simply light up a joint. “Could people smoke marijuana to prevent Alzheimer’s disease if the disease is in their family?" Wenk said in a statement. "We’re not saying that, but it might actually work.”
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Ted Stevens, an Alaskan Senator , has been convicted of 7 Felony counts. He will lose no rights. As a matter of fact, the Government will pay him 150 thousand dollars a year for his pension.
The best part, the longer he is alive, the more the pension will grow.
So if you are rich and a politician, you can be convicted of multiple felonies and still collect from tax payers? If you are a regular person like me and get caught with 2 oz of pot, they lock you up and take your rights.....
This disgusts me beyond belief. How is this even possible in a free country where all of us are to be treated equal? How is this equal at all? It is clearly one rule for one kind and another rule for others! How is this "justice"? This teaches if you truly want to be a criminal and get away with it, to become a politician or civil servant that has money & power.
The ethnics reform that has been passed recently has many loop holes and does not bring any true reform. It is mind blowing to me how the rich & powerful are treated different than those without money & power.
Then we wonder why this nation is failing?
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Away from the spotlight, many local newspapers around the country have covered recent incidents of racially motivated reactions to last week's election, from flags hung upside-down to the dangling of nooses and cross burnings. As we noted last week, a couple in northern New Jersey who had an Obama sign on their front lawn woke up to find the charred remains of a cross. Local residents today announced a "unity march" to protest the still-unsolved incident.
In Midland, Mich., a man dressed in full Ku Klux Klan regalia walked around toting a handgun and waving an American flag. Initially denying it, the man eventually admitted to police that the display was a reaction to the Obama victory. “[The man] had a concealed weapon permit and was walking up and down the sidewalk in front of a vehicle dealership while some motorists shouted obscenities at him and others shouted accolades," police told The Saginaw News.
Parents in Rexburg, Idaho, contacted school officials this week after they learned that 2nd and 3rd graders on a school bus were chanting, "Assasssinate Obama!"
The Associated Press revealed on Wednesday, "Police on eastern Long Island are investigating reports that more than a dozen cars were spray painted with racist graffiti, reportedly including a message targeting President-elect Barack Obama. The graffiti included racist slurs and sexually graphic references. At least one resident in the quiet Mastic neighborhood told Newsday her son's car was scribbled with a message threatening to kill Obama."
From the Staten Island Advance this week: "The NYPD yesterday confirmed they are treating the Election night beating of a black Stapleton teen by a group of whites as a hate crime. Ali Kamara, 17, a black Muslim and immigrant from Liberia, said he was beaten with a baseball bat Tuesday night by four white men who shouted 'Obama,' before beginning the attack."
From The Republican in Springfield, Mass.: "Community leaders including area clergy gathered Wednesday to show support and offer help to congregation members whose new church on Tinkham Road was destroyed last week by arson....The predominantly black congregation's new church was under construction in the Sixteen Acres neighborhood when it was consumed in an early morning blaze on Nov. 5, a few hours after the election of Barack Obama as the nation's first black president. The timing prompted the church pastor, Bishop Bryant Robinson Jr., to question whether the fire was set and a hate crime."
Employees at Hampel's Key and Lockshop in Traverse City, Michigan, flew an American flag upside down last Wednesday protesting of the new president-elect, the Traverse City Record-Eagle reported. One worker used a racial slur during an interview with the Record-Eagle: "(The inverted flag is) an international signal for distress and we feel our country is in distress because the n----- got in," said Hampel’s employee Rod Nyland, who later apologized for the comment, according to the Record-Eagle.
One North Carolina man who flew his flag upside-down claimed that voters were racist, electing Obama because of his skin color, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. “The flag is stretched upside-down between two poles in a field, with a black X running from end to end. The X is a reference to the Confederate flag, said flag-owner Tony Heath. It reflects his belief that the Confederate flag has been unfairly targeted for protest by people trying to be politically correct,” the Journal reported.
In Pennsylvania, an interracial couple in Apolacon Township discovered the remains of a burned cross in their front yard. “The couple discovered the remnants of the cross about 8:15 a.m. Wednesday (Nov. 5) when a man knocked at their door. Johnson looked out the front window and noticed charring on the utility pole, then discovered two charred 1-by-3-inch planks, each about 4 feet in length, beneath it,” according to the Star-Gazette. The woman, who is Jewish, lives with her husband, who is black. "The Little Meadows area was the site of KKK rallies several decades ago, and a local woman who worked on Obama's campaign said Wednesday she heard tales of racist remarks directed at supporters," the story concludes.
Just today, two men were arrested there: 19-year-old Forrest Ashcraft and 22-yearold Stephen Barret of Friendsville. They're charged with ethnic intimidation and trespassing.
Authorities in Temecula, Calif., found spray-painted graffiti on a city sidewalk containing a swastika and anti-Obama slogan.
From today's Los Angeles Times: "Vandals spray-painted swastikas and racial slurs on a house and several cars in Torrance that displayed campaign signs or bumper stickers for President-elect Barack Obama, authorities said Tuesday. The incidents occurred Saturday night in the Hollywood Riviera section of the city, said Sgt. Bernard Anderson. Four separate incidents were reported the next day, he said. No arrests have been made.
"At one house, the phrase 'Go Back to Africa' was spray-painted across the wall, in addition to a racial epithet on the garage door, Anderson said. Several parked vehicles on the streets were spray-painted with racial slurs, he said."
Today, the NAACP called on North Carolina State University to expel four students who spray painted racist messages about Obama. Two of the messages said: "Let's shoot that (N-word) in the head" and "Hang Obama by a noose."
Students at Baylor University woke up on Election Day to a rope tied like a noose hanging from a tree outside of Morrison Hall, according to college newspaper The Lariat: “Later, verbal altercations occurred outside of Penland Residence Hall. A group of Obama supporters were walking around shouting 'Obama' and then passed a group of white men outside who made threatening and racist remarks, said Emmanuel Orupabo, Arlington senior,” according to the Lariat.
Another post-election noose incident happened in Maine. “More than 75 people rallied Sunday against an incident last week in which black figures were hanged by nooses from trees on Mount Desert Island the day after Barack Obama won the presidential election,” according to the Bangor Daily News. At a high school in Gray, a student was suspended after standing up in class, making a racist comment, and saying Obama should not be president, the News reported. Later that day, graffiti making a similar statement was found in a boys’ restroom.
In Allison Park, Pa., a student claimed that a teacher's aide went on a rant attacking the Obama victory on two occasions, one time in front of another teacher. According to the eleventh-grader's mother, the aide told the biracial student that Obama was going to be shot and killed, the U.S. flag would be changed to the KFC flag, and the national anthem would be changed to "Movin' On Up," the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. The teacher's aide has been suspended while the school investigates.
At the University of Alabama, The Tuscaloosa News reported, "a political candidate's poster" on a faculty member's office door was defaced Monday evening. A university spokeswoman interviewed by the News withheld which candidate was on the poster and what was written on it, but WVUA-TV -- a Tuscaloosa station owned by the university -- reported today that the poster featured a picture of President-elect Barack Obama. The TV station also reported that message said "He'll be shot..." followed by the "N" word. The university provost and vice president of student affairs wrote to students, faculty, and staff, calling the incident "totally unacceptable," according to the News.
"If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos."
Edward O. Wilson, The world's leading authority on Biodiversity, Emeritus Professor of Biology at Harvard and author of "The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth."
There is little doubt left in the minds of professional biologists that Earth is currently faced with a mounting loss of species that threatens to rival the five great mass extinctions of the geological past, the most devasting being the Third major Extinction (c. 245 mya), the Permian, where 54% of the planet's species families lost. As long ago as 1993, Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson estimated that Earth is currently losing something on the order of 30,000 species per year -- which breaks down to the even more daunting statistic of some three species per hour. Some biologists have begun to feel that this biodiversity crisis -- this "Sixth Extinction" -- is even more severe, and more imminent, than Wilson had supposed.
With the human population expected to reach 9-10 billion by the end of the century and the planet in the middle of its sixth mass extinction — this time due to human activity — the next few years are critical in conserving Earth’s precious biodiversity. The cause of the Sixth Extinction, Homo sapiens, means we can continue on the path to our own extinction, or, preferably, we modify our behavior toward the global ecosystem of which we are still very much a part.
At a casual glance, the physically caused extinction events of the past might seem to have little or nothing to tell us about the current Sixth Extinction, which is a human-caused event. For there is little doubt that humans are the direct cause of ecosystem stress and species destruction in the modern world through transformation of the landscape, overexploitation of species, pollution, and the introduction of alien species
The Sixth Extinction can be characterized as the first recorded global extinction event that has a biotic, rather than a physical, cause, due to massive asteroid impact, volcanic eruptions. Yet, looking deeper, human impact on the planet is a similar to the Cretaceous cometary collision. Sixty-five million years ago that extraterrestrial impact -- through its sheer explosive power, followed immediately by its injections of so much debris into the upper reaches of the atmosphere that global temperatures plummeted and, most critically, photosynthesis was severely inhibited -- wreaked havoc on the living systems of Earth, which is precisely what we are doing to the planet right now.
Phase two of the Sixth Extinction began around 10,000 years ago with the invention of agriculture-perhaps first in the Natufian culture of the Middle East. Agriculture appears to have been invented several different times in various different places, and has, in the intervening years, spread around the entire globe.
Agriculture, which began around 10,000 years ago in the Natufian culture of the Middle East, is a major engine driving the Sixth Extinction, represents the single most profound ecological change in the entire 3.5 billion-year history of life. With its invention humans did not have to interact with other species for survival, and so could manipulate other species for their own use nor did humans have to adhere to the ecosystem's carrying capacity, and so could overpopulate
Homo sapiens became the first species to stop living inside local ecosystems. All other species, including our ancestral hominid ancestors, all pre-agricultural humans, and remnant hunter-gatherer societies still extant exist as semi-isolated populations playing specific roles (i.e., have "niches") in local ecosystems. This is not so with post-agricultural revolution humans, who in effect have stepped outside local ecosystems. Indeed, to develop agriculture is essentially to declare war on ecosystems - converting land to produce one or two food crops, with all other native plant species all now classified as unwanted "weeds" -- and all but a few domesticated species of animals now considered as pests.
Yet, upon further reflection, human impact on the planet is a direct analogue of the Cretaceous cometary collision. Sixty-five million years ago that extraterrestrial impact -- through its sheer explosive power, followed immediately by its injections of so much debris into the upper reaches of the atmosphere that global temperatures plummeted and, most critically, photosynthesis was severely inhibited -- wreaked havoc on the living systems of Earth. That is precisely what human beings are doing to the planet right now: humans are causing vast physical changes on the planet.
"The comparison I make between these big extinction events, prehistoric meteorite-caused or natural event-caused extinctions and the present one," says E.O. Wilson, "is parallel to the difference between a heart attack and cancer. We understand that what we are doing is a slow but insidious, and only can be seen when you lay it out over the whole world over a period of decades. The hopeful thing about it is that this cancer can be treated. A lot of damage has been done, and it can be dangerous to us if we really just go on until half the species of organisms are extinct forever. Or we can halt the hemorrhaging.
"In terms of scale, it’s hard to put a figure on it," Wilson adds: "We’re in a pronounced early stage of an extinction event that would probably be, by the end of this century if human activities continue unabated, right up to the Cretaceous level. We’re part way there. Whether you can say its 10 percent there or 25 percent there, a lot of it depends on the organisms you’re talking about. One estimate has it that, particularly when you throw in the mass extinction of the Pacific Island birds, which are the most vulnerable on Earth, something like 20 percent of bird species has been extinguished by human activities."
Biocide is occurring at an alarming rate. Experts say that at least half of the world’s current species will be completely gone by the end of the century. Wild plant-life is also disappearing. Most biologists say that we are in the midst of an anthropogenic mass extinction. Numerous scientific studies confirm that this phenomenon is real and happening right now. Should anyone really care? Will it impact individuals on a personal level? Scientists say, “Yes!”
Critics argue that species disappear and new ones emerge all the time. That’s true, if you’re speaking in terms of millennia. Scientists acknowledge that species disappear at an estimated rate of one species per million per year, with new species replacing the lost ones at around the same rate. Recently humans have accelerated the extinction rate to where several entire species are annihilated every single day. The death toll artificially caused by humans is mind-boggling. Nature will take millions of years to repair what we destroy in just a few decades.
A recent analysis, published in the journal Nature, shows that it takes 10 million years before biological diversity even begins to approach what existed before a die-off. Over 10,000 scientists in the World Conservation Union have compiled data showing that currently 51 per cent of known reptiles, 52 per cent of known insects, and 73 per cent of known flowering plants are in danger along with many mammals, birds and amphibians. It is likely that some species will become extinct before they are even discovered, before any medicinal use or other important features can be assessed. The cliché movie plot where the cure for cancer is about to be annihilated is more real than anyone would like to imagine.
Research done by the American Museum of Natural History found that the vast majority of biologists believe that mass extinction poses a colossal threat to human existence, and is even more serious of an environmental problem than one of its contributors- global warming. The research also found that the average person woefully underestimates the dangers of mass extinction. Powerful industrial lobbies would like people to believe that we can survive while other species are quickly and quietly dying off. Irresponsible governments and businesses would have people believe that we don’t need a healthy planet to survive- even while human cancer rates are tripling every decade.
A lot of us heard about the recent extinction of the Yangtze river dolphin. It was publicized because dolphins are cute and smart, and we like dolphins. We were sort of sad that we humans were single-handedly responsible for destroying the entire millions-of-years-old species in just a few years through rampant pollution. Unfortunately the real death toll is so much higher than we hear on the news. Only a few endangered “celebrity favorites” get any notice at all.
Since animals and plants exist in symbiotic relationships to one another, extinction of one species is likely to cause ”co-extinctions”. Some species directly affect the health of hundreds of other species. There is always some kind of domino effect. This compounding process occurs with frightening speed. That makes rampant extinction similar too disease in the way that it spreads. Sooner or later- if gone unchecked- humans may catch it too.
Amphibians are a prime example at how tinkering with the environment can cause rapid animal death. For over 300 million years frogs, salamanders, newts and toads were hardy enough to precede and outlive the dinosaurs up until the present time. Now, within just two decades many amphibians are disappearing. Scientists are alarmed at how one seemingly robust species of amphibians will suddenly disappear within a few months.
The causes of biocide are a hodge-podge of human environmental “poisons” which often work synergistically, including a vast array of pollutants, pesticides, a thinning ozone layer which increases ultra-violet radiation, human induced climate change, habitat loss from agriculture and urban sprawl, invasions of exotic species introduced by humans, illegal and legal wildlife trade, light pollution, and man-made borders among other many other causes.
Is there a way out? The answer is yes and no. We’ll never regain the lost biodiversity-at least not within a fathomable time period, but there are ways to prevent a worldwide bio collapse, but they all require immediate action. Wilson, and other scientists point out that the world needs international cooperation in order to sustain ecosystems, since nature is unaware of artificially drawn borders. Humans love to fence off space they’ve claimed as their own. Sadly, a border fence often has terrible ecological consequences. One fence between India and Pakistan cuts off bears and leopards from their feeding habitats, which is causing them to starve to death. Starvation leads to attacks on villagers, and more slaughtering of the animals.
Some of the most endangered wildlife species live right in between the borderland area of the US and Mexico. These indigenous animals don’t know that they now live between two countries. They were here long before the people came and nations divided, but they will not survive if we cut them off from their habitat. The Sky Islands is one of many areas smack in the middle of this boundary where some of North America's most threatened wildlife is found. Jaguars, bison, and Wolves have to cross through international terrain in the course of their life's travels in order to survive. Unfortunately, illegal Mexican workers cross here too. People who know nothing of the wildlife’s biological needs want to create a large fence to keep out Mexicans, regardless of the fact that a fence would devastate these already fragile animal populations.
Wilson says the time has come to start calling the "environmentalist view" the "real-world view". We can’t ignore reality simply because it doesn’t conform nicely within convenient boundaries and moneymaking strategies. What good will all of our money and conveniences do for us, if we collectively destroy the necessities of life?
There is hope, but it requires radical changes. Many organizations are lobbying for that change. One group trying to salvage ecosystems is called The Wildlands Project, a conservation group spearheading the drive to reconnect the remaining wildernesses. The immediate goal is to reconnect wild North America in four broad "mega-linkages". Within each mega-linkage, mosaics of public and private lands, which would provide safe migrations for wildlife, would connect core areas. Broad, vegetated overpasses would link wilderness areas normally split by roads. They will need cooperation from local landowners and government agencies.
It is a radical vision to many people, and the Wildlands Project expects that it will take at least 100 years to complete. Even so, projects like this, on a worldwide basis, may be humanity’s best chance of saving what’s left of the planets eco-system, and the human race along with it.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
In an interview with French daily newspaper Le Figaro published on Thursday, Medvedev said Moscow had no choice but to react to U.S. plans to set up a network of missiles and radar systems near its own frontiers.
"But we are ready to abandon this decision to deploy the missiles in Kaliningrad if the new American administration, after analyzing the real usefulness of a system to respond to 'rogue states', decides to abandon its anti-missile system," he said.
"We are ready to negotiate a 'zero option'. We are ready to reflect on a system of global security with the United States, the countries of the European Union and the Russian Federation."
Washington says the missile defense system it plans to set up in Poland and the Czech Republic is needed to protect the United States against missile strikes from what it calls rogue states, notably Iran.
Russia believes the system poses a threat to its security and last week announced plans to deploy Iskander tactical missiles in the Kaliningrad region bordering Poland in response.
Medvedev said he had spoken with Obama by telephone and hoped to meet him in person soon.
"We hope to create frank and honest relations with the new administration and resolve problems that we were not able to resolve with the current administration," he said.
Asked about his response to the global financial crisis, which has hit the Russian banking sector hard, Medvedev said there had been a flight of capital out of Russia and moves to protect key banks and private savings were necessary.
He said the government might take stakes in certain banks, as had been done in the United States and Britain but he said "nationalization is not the solution" and added that any government stakes would be sold as soon as possible.
Friday, November 14, 2008
The Rev. Jay Scott Newman said in a letter distributed Sunday to parishioners at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Greenville that they are putting their souls at risk if they take Holy Communion before doing penance for their vote.
"Our nation has chosen for its chief executive the most radical pro-abortion politician ever to serve in the United States Senate or to run for president," Newman wrote, referring to Obama by his full name, including his middle name of Hussein.
"Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exists constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil, and those Catholics who do so place themselves outside of the full communion of Christ's Church and under the judgment of divine law. Persons in this condition should not receive Holy Communion until and unless they are reconciled to God in the Sacrament of Penance, lest they eat and drink their own condemnation."
During the 2008 presidential campaign, many bishops spoke out on abortion more boldly than four years earlier, telling Catholic politicians and voters that the issue should be the most important consideration in setting policy and deciding which candidate to back. A few church leaders said parishioners risked their immortal soul by voting for candidates who support abortion rights.
But bishops differ on whether Catholic lawmakers — and voters — should refrain from receiving Communion if they diverge from church teaching on abortion. Each bishop sets policy in his own diocese. In their annual fall meeting, the nation's Catholic bishops vowed Tuesday to forcefully confront the Obama administration over its support for abortion rights.
According to national exit polls, 54 percent of Catholics chose Obama, who is Protestant. In South Carolina, which McCain carried, voters in Greenville County — traditionally seen as among the state's most conservative areas — went 61 percent for the Republican, and 37 percent for Obama.
"It was not an attempt to make a partisan point," Newman said in a telephone interview Thursday. "In fact, in this election, for the sake of argument, if the Republican candidate had been pro-abortion, and the Democratic candidate had been pro-life, everything that I wrote would have been exactly the same."
Conservative Catholics criticized Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry in 2004 for supporting abortion rights, with a few Catholic bishops saying Kerry should refrain from receiving Holy Communion because his views were contrary to church teachings.
Sister Mary Ann Walsh, spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said she had not heard of other churches taking this position in reaction to Obama's win. A Boston-based group that supports Catholic Democrats questioned the move, saying it was too extreme.
"Father Newman is off base," said Steve Krueger, national director of Catholic Democrats. "He is acting beyond the authority of a parish priest to say what he did. ... Unfortunately, he is doing so in a manner that will be of great cost to those parishioners who did vote for Sens. Obama and Biden. There will be a spiritual cost to them for his words."
A man who has attended St. Mary's for 18 years said he welcomed Newman's message and anticipated it would inspire further discussion at the church.
"I don't understand anyone who would call themselves a Christian, let alone a Catholic, and could vote for someone who's a pro-abortion candidate," said Ted Kelly, 64, who volunteers his time as lector for the church. "You're talking about the murder of innocent beings."
Although many of the regulations have to do with energy and the environment, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow noted on Tuesday that there's also "one that'll kick opponents of the Patriot Act right in the teeth."
The proposed regulation "would allow state and local law enforcement agencies to collect intelligence on individuals and organizations even if the information is unrelated to any criminal matter," Maddow explained. She added, "Even if they weren't already watching you -- they soon could be."
Maddow was joined by the Nation's sports correspondent, Dave Zirin, who began by complaining about Bush, "Hemorrhoids are more popular than this man. Why is he making laws?"
Zirin described how he had been involved in an episode where "the Maryland State Police sent people to infiltrate meetings I was in -- a very seditious organization called the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, where we planned such horrifying acts like tabling at the local farmer's market or planning rallies."
"Why were they spying on us?" Zirin continued. "Because the governor at the time, Bob Ehrlich -- a right-wing Republican who makes Sarah Palin look like Emma Goldman -- I mean, he's somebody who saw us as political opponents. He was for the death penalty, we were against the death penalty, therefore in his mind we deserved to be spied upon."
"We were entered into a database the heading of which was 'Terrorists/Anti-Government,'" Zirin noted angrily. "The person who organized all of this, the head of the Maryland State Police ... called us 'fringe people' in the hearings. He said we deserved it because we were fringe people.'"
Zirin pointed out that the final report which exposed the state's anti-constitutional behavior recommended future safeguards but held no one accountable. "We either have a Constitution or we don't," he stated. "Either our rights were violated or they weren't."
"They're talking about expanding this nationwide," Maddow commented, "and what they will say in order to argue for it is, 'Oh, what's the harm done?'"
"Here's the harm," Zirin replied. "It has a chilling effect on the Constitution. It has a chilling effect on our ability to assemble. ... We need to be welcoming new people into community activism, welcoming new people into struggle. And what you have instead is people looking at each other in Maryland as if, 'Is that person an enemy? Is this person a plant?'"
"And it has a horrible effect," concluded Zirin, "right at a time where in the wake of the Obama victory we should be talking about solidarity, we should be talking about expanding our forces, we should be talking about fighting for the change that we all waited on line to vote for."
Thursday, November 13, 2008
The researchers believe that the drug could help people open up in therapy and express deep fears and painful memories.
If the study is successful the scientists hope that the drug MDMA will eventually be made available on prescription.
Dr Rick Doblin, president of the Florida-based Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, said the US Food and Drug Administration had already approved the trial.
He said that the feelings of self-acceptance and closeness to others reported by recreational ecstasy users suggested that the drug would work in a counselling environment.
“In a therapy setting it’s not that you take MDMA and feel ecstasy and happy and your problems go away,” Dr Doblin said.
“But it helps you go deeper into the problems and work through them.
“We anticipate that people who have had traumatic experiences but haven’t been able to really move past them, because they are too scary, will be able to really open up.
“They will be able to go through really deep emotions of fear, anger, pain, sadness, and let it go,” he said.
The test subjects would be patients who have already failed to overcome post-traumatic stress disorder with the therapy and drugs currently available.
The volunteers would include victims of violent crime, including rape.
Cancer sufferers in the end stages of terminal illness would be studied to see if the drug aids them in coming to terms with the prospect of death.
A parallel study, to be conducted in Israel, would include victims of terrorism and political violence which have dogged the region for many years, Dr Doblin said.
He went on: “There’s often a lot of shame and self-blame when people are attacked that’s really unnecessary and problematic.
“MDMA has this fundamental ability to help people with self-acceptance.”
The study could begin as early as January as long as the US Drug Enforcement Administration gives clearance for the researchers to handle the illegal drug.
Initially 20 victims will be studied. Each will be given a pill either a placebo or 125mg dose of MDMA before undergoing therapy sessions.
Neither the patients or therapists will know who has been given the drug and who has been given the placebo.
Even if the trial goes ahead without scientific or political disruption it could be at least five years before MDMA is available on prescription, Dr Doblin predicted.
Studies would have to be conducted on a much wider scale before Government agencies could be convinced of the benefits of making the drug legally available, he said.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
The Texas Freedom Network, a watchdog group that monitors the board, released a public statement on Monday asking Dunbar to retract the statement.
"I don't have anything in there that would be retractable," said Dunbar, R-Richmond. "Those are my personal opinions and I don't think the language is questionable."
In a column posted on the Christian Worldview Network Web site, Dunbar wrote that a terrorist attack on America during the first six months of an Obama administration "will be a planned effort by those with whom Obama truly sympathizes to take down the America that is threat to tyranny."
She also suggests Obama would seek to expand his power by declaring martial law throughout the country.
"No matter who you support for president, we should all be able to agree that Ms. Dunbar's disgusting attack is a shocking example of the extremism that has infected the state board," TFN President Kathy Miller said.
"It's stunning that a board member who helps decide what Texas children learn in their public schools would say something so disgusting and reprehensible. She should be taking refresher courses in civics and good citizenship, not deciding what Texas kids learn."
The State Board of Education will begin revising public school social studies curriculum standards after adopting rules for science next year. Those standards will determine the content in new public school textbooks.
"Right now, we're still in America and we still have freedom of speech," Dunbar said. "And unless that's changed, I'm not aware of it."
On Tuesday, largely under the radar of the pundits and political chattering classes, voters dealt what may be a fatal blow to America's longest-running and least-discussed war -- the war on marijuana.
Michigan voters made their state the 13th to allow the medical use of marijuana by a whopping 63 percent to 37 percent, the largest margin ever for a medical marijuana initiative. And by 65 percent to 35 percent, Massachusetts voters decriminalized the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, replacing arrests, legal fees, court appearances, the possibility of jail and a lifelong criminal record with a $100 fine, much like a traffic ticket, that can be paid through the mail.
What makes these results so amazing is that they followed the most intensive anti-marijuana campaign by federal officials since the days of "Reefer Madness." Marijuana arrests have been setting all-time records year after year, reaching the point where one American is arrested on marijuana charges every 36 seconds. More Americans are arrested each year for marijuana possession -- not sales or trafficking, just possession -- than for all violent crimes combined.
And the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, with “drug czar” John Walters at the helm, has led a hysterical anti-marijuana propaganda campaign. During Walters' tenure, ONDCP has released at least 127 separate anti-marijuana TV, radio and print ads, at a cost of hundreds of millions of tax dollars, plus 34 press releases focused mainly on marijuana, while no fewer than 50 reports from ONDCP and other federal agencies focused on the alleged evils of marijuana or touted anti-marijuana campaigns.
Walters himself campaigned personally in Michigan against the medical marijuana initiative, calling it an "abomination" and claiming yet again that there is no evidence that marijuana has medical value -- an assertion flatly contradicted by at least four published clinical trials in just the last two years.
In Massachusetts, the state's political and law enforcement establishment lined up solidly against the marijuana decriminalization initiative, including both Republican and Democratic politicians and all 11 district attorneys -- several of whom actually admitted to having smoked marijuana. They warned of rampant drug abuse and crime should the measure pass, simply ignoring the fact that no such thing has happened in the 11 other states (including California, Ohio and New York) that have had similar laws for years.
Voters were having none of it, giving a thumping rejection to government officials’ lies and hysteria in both states. Americans have taken a hard look at our national war on marijuana and rejected it for the cruel, counterproductive disaster that it is.
The voters are right. Of over 872,000 arrests in one year, 89 percent are for possession only.
What has this gotten us? Not much. Marijuana arrests weren't the only thing that set a record last year. So did the number of Americans who have tried marijuana. Usage rates came down marginally in the last few years but are still higher than in the early 1990s. Marijuana is our nation's number one cash crop.
The one thing our costly and futile efforts to "eradicate" marijuana have accomplished is to create a boom for criminal gangs, to whom we've handed a monopoly on production and distribution. Unlike producers of legal drugs like beer, wine or tobacco, these criminals pay no taxes and obey no rules. Their illicit efforts despoil our national forests and bring violence and destabilization to Mexico.
For years, politicians who know our current marijuana laws make no sense have been afraid to change them for fear of political retribution. The voters' thundering rejection of our misguided war on marijuana shows that those fears are misplaced.
It's time for Congress and the new administration -- not to mention state governments around the country -- to listen to the public. It's time for a new approach.
"We don't know of anything out of the ordinary with them," said Stokes. "They are pleasant people and we have never had problems with them or their children."
The news left Stokes, and the Bogalusa community, speechless that his neighbor Raymond "Chuck" Foster, and seven others--including Foster's son, Shane Foster--were arrested in the murder of a woman during a Ku Klux Klan initiation.
"We have not seen anything in the town that would suggest anything going on that is racial in nature or anything," Stokes said.
The Bogalusa mayor and police chief said that the last allegations of Klan activity were from two years ago. The police, along with the FBI, investigated that incident, but did not find any evidence of Klan activity then, nor have they in decades.
"It is really disappointing to know you could have someone in your community that could do that, it looks like he (Raymond Foster) has only been here a couple of years," said James "Mack" McGehee, the Bogalusa mayor.
But the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office said the Dixie Brotherhood of the KKK was based in Bogalusa. Sheriff Jack Strain said the Oklahoma woman who was murdered was recruited and brought to Sun, La., just outside of Bogalusa, for an initiation ceremony.
"From there part of the ritual was to go on a camping trip off of Lock 3 Road," said Sheriff Strain.
It was during that trip, authorities believe sometime on Sunday, the woman and the group's leader, Raymond "Chuck" Foster, argued--perhaps because the woman wanted to leave the ceremony--and Foster shot and killed her.
Strain said the group then tried to sanitize the area and conceal the crime, burning the woman's belongings at the campsite. Authorities said an employee at a nearby Circle K helped police make arrests when some Klan members stopped in and asked how they could get blood out of their clothes.
"It is a situation that defies logic, when you think you've seen it all something like this happens," said Sheriff Strain. "This was a case where, in the woods, during some sordid ritual event, things went terribly wrong."
Sheriff Strain said the Klan leader, Raymond Foster, has a long criminal history in St. Tammany Parish and in Washington Parish. He is charged with second-degree murder. The seven other suspects are charged with obstruction of justice.
Government Aid to GM, Ford, Chrysler Could Preserve Old Way of Building and Selling Cars
Last Friday, November 7, 2008, GM announced that unless its financial performance improves, there is a substantial risk of the company collapsing by the middle of next year.
Discussions abound about the current “credit freeze”, economic turndown, etc ….. a discussion of current economic trends is misplaced …. a broader historical perspective is needed. A perspective that looks ahead and not just back at GM’s and the rest of the Detroit 3’s historical importance to the Country.
I believe the term is “throwing good money after bad”.
The value of GM did not suddenly decline. In 2007 GM lost 38.7 Billion Dollars. It has been a five year slide for GM stock from $60 a share to today’s $3.00 and change per share.
Also see: http://money.cnn.com/2008/06/24/markets/thebuzz/index.htm?eref=aol
GM’s solution, “reduce costs by offering buyouts to more of its union employees. It’s astonishing how lavish these buyout packages can be, and yet still save the company money–early retirement plus $45,000 is apparently cheaper than keeping them on the line. It’s a sign of something deeply out of whack in the labor market when companies are consistently this desperate to shed workers–how can the UAW swing enough clout to keep the automakers tottering in and out of unprofitability?”
Critics say leaders over the years at Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp. and what is now Chrysler LLC were slow to take on unions, failed to invest enough in new products, ceded the car market to the Japanese and were ill-prepared for the inevitable rise in gas prices that would make their trucks and SUVs obsolete.
“There’s been 30 years of denial,” said Noel Tichy, a University of Michigan business professor and author who ran General Electric Co.’s leadership program from 1985-87 and once worked as a consultant for Ford. “They did not make themselves competitive. They didn’t deal with the union issues, the cost structures long ago, everything that makes a successful company.”
Whatever the reasons, the Detroit Three are closer to collapse than ever, and likely won’t make it without billions in government loans.
On Friday, GM posted a $2.5 billion third-quarter loss and ominously said it could run out of money before the end of the year. The company spent $6.9 billion more than it took in for the quarter and reported that it had $16.2 billion in cash available at the end of September.
Ford reported a $129 million loss but said it burned up $7.7 billion in cash for the period. It had $18.9 billion on hand as of Sept. 30. Its chief financial officer says he’s confident Ford will make it through 2009, but that’s because the company took out a huge loan last year.
Industry analysts believe Chrysler, now a private company that does not have to open its books, is as bad off as GM as U.S. sales continue to plummet because of tight credit and lack of consumer confidence due to the economy.
The Detroit 3 failed to challange the Union, the companies say the UAW drove up their labor costs to $30 per hour more than Japanese companies paid their workers. When the Detroit 3 have pushed for change the Union has simply called for strikes, strikes which cost the companies 10’s of billions in lost profits. The last strikes came just this past summer, in the midst of the current economic turmoil.
America has two auto industries. The “Old Auto Industry” the one represented by GM, Ford and Chrysler is Midwestern, unionized, burdened with massive obligations to retirees, and shackled to marketing and product strategies that have roots reaching back to the early 1900s.
The other American auto industry, the “New Auto Industry” is largely Southern and non-union, owes relatively little to the few retirees it has, and enjoys a variety of advantages because its Japanese, European and Korean owners launched operations in this country relatively recently. Their factories are newer, their brand images and marketing strategies are more coherent – Toyota uses three brands in the U.S. to GM’s eight — and they have cars designed for the competitive global market that exists today.
Despite the economic turmoil, they are all profitable.
The New Industry has controlled costs, developed superior products and marketing. In fact the “New Industry”can’t produce some vehicles (Toyota Prius) fast enough to meet consumer demand.
The Old American auto industry is represented by the “Big Three” of Detroit. The “Detroit Three” employ approximately 200,000 people.
The New American Auto industry employs approximately 113,000 people, this is according to a recent study by the Center for Automotive Research.
This bailout debate is strictly about the Old American Auto Industry.
At present, the “Detroit 3″ are talking about a preliminary bailout number of an additional $50 Billion dollars. This would bring the total to $75 Billion Dollars for the “Old Auto Industry”.
The original $25 Billion has already been approved but is currently tied up in the Energy Committee of Congress.
A $75 Billion dollar bailout for the “Detroit 3″. $75 Billion Dollars!
$75 Billion for an industry that has 200,000 direct employees?
That comes out to $375,000 per direct employee. I kid you not, $375,000 per direct employee.
You try the math, $75,000,000,000 divided by 200,000. ($750,000 / 2 = $375,000).
You’ve got to be kidding me.
It just isn’t worth the gamble. Over the last 30 years the Detroit 3 has failed to demonstrate it can complete globally. How will throwing more money at their problem help. Throwing money at the Detroit 3 won’t solve their problems and they seem incapable of solving them on their own.
At Ford Motor Co. they called it “Blue,” a team set up around the year 2000 to design an array of small, fuel-efficient cars to compete with the Japanese. It didn’t get far because no one could figure out how to make money on low-priced compacts with Ford’s high labor costs. The same thing happened at GM & Chrysler. The Detroit 3 concentrated on trucks and SUV’s, markets that the New Auto Industry nearly conceeded, because focusing on that market (SUVs & Trucks) was just too short sighted for ongoing business success.
Now the Government is considering buying the Old American Auto Industry. That is essentially what a bailout would mean. The Government buying the Detroit 3.
“We are lowering our target on GM equity to zero dollars,” the Deutsche Bank report said. “Even if GM succeeds in averting a bankruptcy, we believe that the company’s future path is likely to be bankruptcy-like,” it said. “While we believe that GM’s secured creditors may get a par recovery, unsecured creditors may get very low recovery. Equity shareholders are unlikely to get anything.”
Duetsche Bank’s assessment, the bailout isn’t likely to work. Duetsche bank noted, “even if there is a government bailout of the auto giant, shareholders would not benefit.”
The US Government should not be in the business of buying private businesses, especially not businesses that will still be bankrupt after a $75 Billion cash investment at taxpayer expense.
Throwing good money after bad? Absolutely!
In a Capitalist economy, poorly run companies that can’t control costs, successfully plan future product or get desired products to market in a timely manner, fail. Simple enough, bad companies fail. They are not rewarded for inefficency. Successful companies are rewarded.
The current proposal to bailout 1/2 of the US Auto Industry does so at the expense of the other successful half and at tremendous costs to the American taxpayer.
Further bailouts are a bad idea. Its time to let the chips fall where they may.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
"It may sound a bit crazy and off base, but the thing is, he's the one who proposed this national security force," Rep. Paul Broun said of Obama in an interview Monday with The Associated Press. "I'm just trying to bring attention to the fact that we may—may not, I hope not—but we may have a problem with that type of philosophy of radical socialism or Marxism."
Broun cited a July speech by Obama that has circulated on the Internet in which the then-Democratic presidential candidate called for a civilian force to take some of the national security burden off the military.
"That's exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it's exactly what the Soviet Union did," Broun said. "When he's proposing to have a national security force that's answering to him, that is as strong as the U.S. military, he's showing me signs of being Marxist."
Obama's comments about a national security force came during a speech in Colorado in which he called for expanding the nation's foreign service.
"We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we've set," Obama said in July. "We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded."
The Obama transition team declined to comment on Broun's remarks. But spokesman Tommy Vietor said Obama was referring in the speech to a proposal for a civilian reserve corps that could handle postwar reconstruction efforts such as rebuilding infrastructure—an idea endorsed by the Bush administration.
Broun said he believes Obama would move to ban gun ownership if he does build a national security force.
Obama has said he respects the Second Amendment right to bear arms and favors "common sense" gun laws. Gun rights advocates interpret that as meaning he'll at least enact curbs on ownership of assault weapons and concealed weapons. As an Illinois state lawmaker, Obama supported a ban on semiautomatic weapons and tighter restrictions on firearms generally.
"We can't be lulled into complacency," Broun said. "You have to remember that Adolf Hitler was elected in a democratic Germany. I'm not comparing him to Adolf Hitler. What I'm saying is there is the potential of going down that road."
Sunday, November 09, 2008
The Intelligence and Security Committee, the parliamentary watchdog of the intelligence and security agencies which has a cross-party membership from both Houses, wants to press ministers to introduce legislation that would prevent news outlets from reporting stories deemed by the Government to be against the interests of national security.
The committee also wants to censor reporting of police operations that are deemed to have implications for national security. The ISC is to recommend in its next report, out at the end of the year, that a commission be set up to look into its plans, according to senior Whitehall sources.
The ISC holds huge clout within Whitehall. It receives secret briefings from MI5, MI6 and GCHQ and is highly influential in forming government policy. Kim Howells, a respected former Foreign Office minister, was recently appointed its chairman. Under the existing voluntary code of conduct, known as the DA-Notice system, the Government can request that the media does not report a story. However, the committee's members are particularly worried about leaks, which, they believe, could derail investigations and the reporting of which needs to be banned by legislation.
Civil liberties groups say these restrictions would be "very dangerous" and "damaging for public accountability". They also point out that censoring journalists when the leaks come from officials is unjustified.
But the committee, in its last annual report, has already signalled its intention to press for changes. It states: "The current system for handling national security information through DA-Notices and the [intelligence and security] Agencies' relationship with the media more generally, is not working as effectively as it might and this is putting lives at risk." According to senior Whitehall sources the ISC is likely to advocate tighter controls on the DA-Notice system – formerly known as D-Notice – which operates in co-operation and consultation between the Government and the media.
The committee has focused on one particular case to highlight its concern: an Islamist plot to kidnap and murder a British serviceman in 2007, during which reporters were tipped off about the imminent arrest of suspects in Birmingham, a security operation known as "Gamble". The staff in the office of the then home secretary, John Reid, and the local police were among those accused of being responsible – charges they denied. An investigation by Scotland Yard failed to find the source of the leak.
The then director general of MI5, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, was among those who complained to the ISC. "We were very angry, but it is not clear who we should be angry with, that most of the story of the arrests in Op Gamble were in the media very, very fast ... So the case was potentially jeopardised by the exposure of what the story was. My officers and the police were jeopardised by them being on operations when the story broke. The strategy of the police for interrogating those arrested was blown out of the water, and my staff felt pretty depressed ... that this has happened."
The ISC report said the DA-Notice system "provides advice and guidance to the media about defence and counter-terrorism information, whilst the system is voluntary, has no legal authority, and the final responsibility for deciding whether or not to publish rests solely with the editor or publisher concerned. The system has been effective in the past. However, the Cabinet Secretary told us ... this is no longer the case: 'I think we have problems now.'"
The human rights lawyer Louise Christian said: "This would be a very dangerous development. We need media scrutiny for public accountability. We can see this from the example, for instance, of the PhD student in Nottingham who was banged up for six days without charge because he downloaded something from the internet for his thesis. The only reason this came to light was because of the media attention to the case."
A spokesman for the human rights group Liberty said: "There is a difficult balance between protecting integrity and keeping the public properly informed. Any extension of the DA-Notice scheme requires a more open parliamentary debate."
In his annual speech at the Lord Mayor's Banquet, Brown -- who has spearheaded calls for the reform of international financial institutions -- will say Britain, the United States and Europe are key to forging a new world order.
"The alliance between Britain and the U.S. -- and more broadly between Europe and the U.S. -- can and must provide leadership, not in order to make the rules ourselves, but to lead the global effort to build a stronger and more just international order," an excerpt from the speech says.
Brown and other leaders meet in Washington next weekend to discuss longer term solutions for dealing with economic issues following a series of coordinated moves on interest rates and to recapitalize banks in the wake of the financial crisis.
"Uniquely in this global age, it is now in our power to come together so that 2008 is remembered not just for the failure of a financial crash that engulfed the world but for the resilience and optimism with which we faced the storm, endured it and prevailed," Brown will say in his speech on Monday evening.
"...And if we learn from our experience of turning unity of purpose into unity of action, we can together seize this moment of change in our world to create a truly global society."
According to a summary of the speech released by his office, Brown will set out five great challenges the world faces.
These are: terrorism and extremism and the need to reassert faith in democracy; the global economy; climate change; conflict and mechanisms for rebuilding states after conflict; and meeting goals on tackling poverty and disease.
Brown will also identify five stages for tackling the economy, starting with recapitalizing banks so they can resume lending to families and businesses, and better international co-ordination of fiscal and monetary policy.
He also wants immediate action to stop the spread of the financial crisis to middle-income countries, with a new facility for the International Monetary Fund, and agreement on a global trade deal, as well as reform of the global financial system.
"My message is that we must be: internationalist not protectionist; interventionist not neutral; progressive not reactive; and forward looking not frozen by events. We can seize the moment and in doing so build a truly global society."
The miniature reactors will be factory-sealed, contain no weapons-grade material, have no moving parts and will be nearly impossible to steal because they will be encased in concrete and buried underground.
The US government has licensed the technology to Hyperion, a New Mexico-based company which said last week that it has taken its first firm orders and plans to start mass production within five years. 'Our goal is to generate electricity for 10 cents a watt anywhere in the world,' said John Deal, chief executive of Hyperion. 'They will cost approximately $25m [£13m] each. For a community with 10,000 households, that is a very affordable $250 per home.'
Deal claims to have more than 100 firm orders, largely from the oil and electricity industries, but says the company is also targeting developing countries and isolated communities. 'It's leapfrog technology,' he said.
The company plans to set up three factories to produce 4,000 plants between 2013 and 2023. 'We already have a pipeline for 100 reactors, and we are taking our time to tool up to mass-produce this reactor.'
The first confirmed order came from TES, a Czech infrastructure company specialising in water plants and power plants. 'They ordered six units and optioned a further 12. We are very sure of their capability to purchase,' said Deal. The first one, he said, would be installed in Romania. 'We now have a six-year waiting list. We are in talks with developers in the Cayman Islands, Panama and the Bahamas.'
The reactors, only a few metres in diameter, will be delivered on the back of a lorry to be buried underground. They must be refuelled every 7 to 10 years. Because the reactor is based on a 50-year-old design that has proved safe for students to use, few countries are expected to object to plants on their territory. An application to build the plants will be submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission next year.
'You could never have a Chernobyl-type event - there are no moving parts,' said Deal. 'You would need nation-state resources in order to enrich our uranium. Temperature-wise it's too hot to handle. It would be like stealing a barbecue with your bare hands.'
Other companies are known to be designing micro-reactors. Toshiba has been testing 200KW reactors measuring roughly six metres by two metres. Designed to fuel smaller numbers of homes for longer, they could power a single building for up to 40 years.
Saturday, November 08, 2008
The site — a down payment on Obama's pledge to create a more "transparent and connected government" — still has lots of white spaces and promises of future features.
But it gives viewers lots more details about the government's workings and more opportunities for input than the Bush administration's site, dominated by first dog Barney.
"It's a site in its infancy, but it's a nice start," said Alan Rosenblatt, an online advocacy specialist at the Center for American Progress Action Fund in Washington.
A video of Obama's victory speech is the home page's dominant feature. Inside are a promised new blog and lots of Obama issue positions.
"He plainly wants to reach out to people directly, and this technology allows him to bypass the press and reach them," said Darrell West, director of Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, a center-left Washington think tank.
This is the newest claim coming from the ones who claim that all Americans will end up in FEMA concentration camps where we will be gassed and put to death.
With the election of Obama, the whole conspiracy theory about the Bush family turning America into a police state for their own NWO agenda, now has many holes in it. The democracy of America worked. Something the theorists were not counting on. So they have now made this wild claim, that a man shaped by the ideals of the 60's, is going to go against everything he believes in for the agenda of the white man of world domination.
What a bunch of fuckin' morons.....
I do admit, the Bush administration had me wondering if they had an agenda, but I knew it was only about profit. That is all it ever is about in this country...
I find it amazing these CTer's just can't realize that maybe they are nothing more than paranoid freaks who need a hobby or maybe medication.
I have said it before, Alex Jones is a snake oil salesman and if you follow him or others like him, they may end up getting you in trouble over nothing.
I just wanted to share this info I stumbled upon. I thought it was pretty funny how now that Bush is on the way out, that the CTer's story had to so vastly change that now it don't even make any sense.
Our Government ain't perfect and it fucks up a lot! Big business is allowed to guide our law makers into making laws that benefit them. Yes, we do have major issues we must address. But this country has one thing no other does....freedom.
It is why these people are allowed to spread such bs. They have freedom of speech. It is ironic that the same rights they claim we do not have, they abuse to spread their own agenda. Which for me, I cannot figure out. The only conclusion I can come up with is........profit of course! Alex Jones don't give his DVD's of "truth" away. He sells them babies. He is also paid by a broadcasting company to do his radio show.
Freedom.....it has great many benefits but also many distractions. As with all things, it is up to you to use discernment and find the correct balance.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Revelation (the final book of the New Testament) and Nostradamus' Prophecies are two all-purpose befuddling works. If you want to sow fear, uncertainty, and doubt (or simply yank people's chains), simply claim that some prominent person or recent event corresponds to descriptions that presage the end of the world, as elaborated by Revelation or Nostradamus. After all, comparatively few people have read either of those works; most people just have some vague idea that they describe, in detail, a coming apocalypse and the signs that will herald its imminent arrival. So pick your target, make up a list of reasons to explain how it supposedly matches up with end-of-the-world predictions, and watch the process of bewilderment begin. (We saw this happen in spades with bogus Nostradamus prophecies immediately after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.)
According to the Book of Revelations the anti-christ is: The anti-christ will be a man, in his 40s, of MUSLIM descent, who will deceive the nations with persuasive language, and have a MASSIVE Christ-like appeal.... the prophecy says that people will flock to him and he will promise false hope and world peace, and when he is in power, will destroy everything. Is it OBAMA??
The item quoted above, linking presidential candidate Barack Obama with the figure of the anti-Christ, is more of the same type of denigrative fiction. Contrary to popular belief, the New Testament book of Revelation (not "Revelations," as it is commonly rendered) does not provide a laundry list of signs for identifying the appearance of an anti-Christ. In fact, it neither uses the term "anti-Christ" nor describes such a figure — Chapter 13 of that book merely recounts the appearance of "beasts," who are depicted in animalistic terms (as rendered in the King James version of the Bible):
The term "anti-Christ" is mentioned several times in the first and second letters of John, but none of those passages specifically describes or identifies the anti-Christ figure (other than as a denier of the divinity of Jesus):
And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.
And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.
And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.
And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?
And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.
And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.
And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
If any man have an ear, let him hear.
He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.
And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.
And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,
And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.
And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.
Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.
Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.
For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
Nothing in the Bible — in Revelation or elsewhere — describes the anti-Christ as being "a man, in his 40s, of Muslim descent." In fact, since the book of Revelation was complete by the end of the second century, but the religion of Islam wasn't founded until about four hundred years later, the notion that Revelation would have mentioned a "Muslim" at all is rather far-fetched. (And even if it did, it couldn't be construed as a reference to Barack Obama, since Senator Obama isn't a Muslim.)
The Biblical citation most relevant to this issue might not be one from Revelation, but rather this passage from the Gospel of Matthew:
Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
And even this is such a broad statement. My mother is a christian and told me, if Obama is the anti Christ, there is nothing anyone can do about it. According to the teachings in the religion, he will come and no one, repeat key words, no one will know who it is because he will be so convincing other wise. Everyone will fall for it. There will be no one claiming they know who this person is.
To just show you how crazy this is, in my research I found an article about how the president of France, Sarkozy is the anti Christ. This proves that it is just rumors from paranoid people who think they know it all.
What I find amazing is how actual self proclaimed Christians do not know their bible. Even though they cling to it, they misquote it constantly. How is that even possible? It is because most religious people are sheep and follow. They do not research the information for themselves. They accept it from their pastor as truth.
I hope this opened someones eyes. Read your bible if you really believe that book was written by God. Study it and stop misquoting it!
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was appointed receiver of Franklin Bank, which had $5.1 billion in assets and $3.7 billion in deposits as of Sept. 30, and of Security Pacific Bank, with $561.1 million in assets and $450.1 million in deposits as of Oct. 17.
The co-founder and chairman of parent Franklin Bank Corp. (FBTX) (FBTX), Lewis Ranieri, is credited with inventing mortgage-backed securities two decades ago, but apparently was unable to save his own company from getting ensnared in the home-loan bust.
The bank's failure is a bitter irony because it is the mortgage securitization business of which Ranieri is known as a pioneer - the repackaging of home loans as bonds that are sold to investors - that was at the heart of the mortgage and credit crises. Last spring, the audit committee of the company's board found in an investigation certain weaknesses in accounting, disclosure and other issues relating to residential real estate loans.
Franklin Bank Corp. just Sunday said it had received proposals for transactions to strengthen Franklin Bank's capital position and was keeping regulators informed of the talks' progress.
The FDIC said all of Franklin Bank's deposits will be assumed by Prosperity Bank of El Campo, Texas. Its 46 offices will reopen as branches of Prosperity Bank with their normal business hours, including those that open on Saturday. In addition to assuming Franklin Bank's deposits, Prosperity Bank also will acquire about $850 million of the failed bank's assets.
Parent company Franklin Bank Corp. just Sunday said it had received proposals for transactions to strengthen Franklin Bank's capital position and was keeping regulators informed of the talks' progress.
Meanwhile, all of Security Pacific's deposits will be assumed by Pacific Western Bank of Los Angeles. Its four offices will reopen Monday as branches of Pacific Western, a unit of PacWest Bancorp. (PACW) (PACW) In addition, Pacific Western will purchase around $51.8 million of Security Pacific's assets.
The FDIC will retain the remaining assets of the two banks for eventual sale.
The agency said depositors of Franklin Bank and Security Pacific Bank will continue to have full access to their deposits, which will continue to be insured by the FDIC.
The FDIC estimated that the resolution of Franklin Bank will cost the federal deposit insurance fund between $1.4 billion and $1.6 billion, while that of Security Pacific Bank will cost the fund $210 million.
Regular deposit accounts are now insured up to $250,000 as part of the new financial rescue law enacted in early October. The limit on individual retirement accounts held in banks remains at $250,000.
The 19 bank failures so far this year compare with three for all of 2007 and are more than in the previous five years combined. It's expected that many more banks won't survive the next year of economic tumult. The pressures of tumbling home prices, rising mortgage foreclosures and tighter credit have been battering many banks, large and small, across the nation.
The failures this year include that of Seattle-based thrift Washington Mutual Inc. in late September, the biggest bank collapse in history. It had $307 billion in assets. In July another big savings and loan, IndyMac Bank based in Pasadena, Calif., failed and was seized by regulators with about $32 billion in assets.
The FDIC estimates that through 2013 there will be about $40 billion in losses to the deposit insurance fund, including an $8.9 billion loss from the failure of IndyMac Bank. The FDIC is raising insurance premiums paid by banks and thrifts to replenish its fund, which now stands at around $45.2 billion, below the minimum target level set by Congress and the lowest level since 2003.
In addition, the FDIC may guarantee nearly $2 trillion in U.S. banks' debt and deposit accounts in an effort to break the crippling logjam in bank-to-bank lending.
Well over half of the roughly 8,500 federally-insured banks and savings and loans are expected to tap the FDIC's temporary guarantees. The agency will provide as much as $1.4 trillion in insurance for more than three years for loans between banks, guaranteeing the new debt in the event the issuing bank fails or its holding company files for bankruptcy.
Of the 8,500 FDIC-insured banks, 117 were considered to be in trouble in the second quarter - the highest level in about five years and up from 90 in the first quarter. The agency doesn't disclose the banks' names.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
For eons, Christians have believed the world is hurling toward oblivion. But with the current economic downturn, the war in Iraq and the likely election of Barack Obama, many think it has picked up speed.
"Economic hardship is the mother's milk of prophetic progression," said Todd Strandberg of Bellevue, Neb. "It always brings about change, and it's what is helping Obama get elected."
Strandberg, founder and editor of raptureready.com, the largest Christian prophecy site on the Internet, spends his days linking current events with biblical passages. He created a Rapture Index, modeled after the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which consists of 45 categories of prophetic indicators from the occult to inflation and the crime rate. Each is assigned a value of one to five depending on the level of activity in that category. The numbers are adjusted weekly, and the higher the number, the faster the world is moving toward its end. Just before the time known as the Great Tributional, some believe there will be a "Rapture," where Christ takes the righteous to heaven without their tasting death.
"Any time there are disturbances whether they are natural phenomena like earthquakes or signs in the sky or social and political disasters this is manna from heaven for apocalyptic preachers," says Richard A. Landes, director of Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University. "That's how you get people worked up."
The Bible's Book of Revelations is the roadmap for Christian belief about the end-of-the-world and Second Coming of Jesus Christ. In several metaphor-laden chapters, the book describes horrific events that will befall the Earth: deception by a false Messiah, global war, hunger, famine, and disease, earthquakes, the persecution of true believers, and death by the millions.
Believers also will be warned of Christ's imminent return by physical signs, such as the sky turning black, so it's worth watching what's happening in the natural world.
In many eras, Christians have believed they were living in the last days.
One leader around 200 A.D. predicted Jesus was coming the next year so his followers halted all planting, Landes says. About 16 centuries later, a similar prediction meant the Millerites didn't harvest their crops.
Both groups starved, says Landes, editor of The Encyclopedia of Millennialism and Millennial Movements. "It was by and large self-destructive."
Today's presidential season is once again awash in global anxiety.
Some Web sites and conservative Christians have tried to argue that Obama could be the foretold Antichrist. In August, John McCain seemed to tap into evangelical anxiety with his ad, "The One," in which he mocked those who use messianic language to describe Obama.
The Rev. Tim LaHaye, co-author of the millennial Left Behind series, told the Wall Street Journal that he recognized allusions to his work in the ad but comparisons between Obama and the Antichrist were incorrect.
"The Antichrist isn't going to be an American, so it can't possibly be Obama. The Bible makes it clear he will be from an obscure place, like Romania," the 82-year-old author told the paper.
And the Rev. John Cowan, associate pastor at Salt Lake City's Calvary Chapel, likewise scoffed at the suggestion.
"I believe there is and will be an antichrist world leader who is probably alive today, but it's just silly to think Obama is that person," Cowan says. "I have a strong, literal understanding of end times, but that doesn't mean we name someone an antichrist every time we see someone whose stands we don't like."
In his 22 years working on Rapture Ready, Strandberg has seen an "avalanche" of anti-Christ suggestions, including Tony Blair and Bill Clinton. Obama doesn't fit the bill, he says, but he could be a type of "anti-Christ," which simply means too many people see him as a replacement for Jesus.
Still, Strandberg believes the end is at hand and Jesus' Second Coming will surprise everyone, coming as "a thief in the night," according to the Bible, but close observers will at least know "the season."
He points to tensions between Israel and Iran, Russia's invasion of Georgia, and the possibility of global depression as some of the top indicators.
"We are one big event from triggering a cascade that will not stop," he says. "There are so many indicators that are active. It's like an overhang of snow on a mountain top. Cracks are forming on the ridge and once the ridge breaks free, it will tumble down the mountain and nothing can stop it."
Monday, November 03, 2008
Bolivia's first indigenous president once served as the leader of the country's union of coca-growers. Relations between Bolivia and the US have been strained since Evo Morales won presidential elections in January 2006.
Coca is the raw material used in the production of cocaine and is widely grown in Bolivia. The country is a major producer of cocaine, but millions of Bolivians poorest people also chew coca leaves as part of their daily routine. Many believe the leaf offers health benefits.
"From today all the activities of the US DEA are suspended indefinitely," the Bolivian leader said in the coca-growing region of Chimore, in the central province of Chapare. "Personnel from the DEA supported activities of the unsuccessful coup d'etat in Bolivia," he added, referring to the unrest in September which left 19 people dead. "We have the obligation to defend the dignity and sovereignty of the Bolivian people."
US officials have denied any wrong doing.
In recent months, a string of tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats and agencies increased tensions between both countries, the BBC's Andres Schipani reports from Bolivia. Bolivia's government expelled the US international development agency and the US ambassador to La Paz.
Washington retaliated by expelling its Bolivian counterpart, while last month President George W Bush himself put the Andean country on an anti-narcotics blacklist that cuts trade preferences. Making his announcement, Mr Morales also declared that his government had eradicated more than 5,000 hectares (12,300 acres) of illegally planted coca.