PM Netanyahu’s address to Congress: Mar. 3rd, 2015

The complete transcript of Netanyahu’s address to Congress

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is addressing a joint meeting of Congress; here is a complete transcript of his remarks.

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NETANYAHU: Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you…

I want to thank you all for being here today. I know that my speech has been the subject of much controversy. I deeply regret that some perceive my being here as political. That was never my intention. I want to thank you, Democrats and Republicans, for your common support for Israel, year after year, decade after decade.

(APPLAUSE)

I know that no matter on which side of the aisle you sit, you stand with Israel. The remarkable alliance between Israel and the United States has always been above politics. It must always remain above politics. We appreciate all that President Obama has done for Israel. Now, some of that is widely known.

(APPLAUSE)

Some of that is widely known, like strengthening security cooperation and intelligence sharing, opposing anti-Israel resolutions at the U.N. Some of what the president has done for Israel is less well- known.

I called him in 2010 when we had the Carmel forest fire, and he immediately agreed to respond to my request for urgent aid. In 2011, we had our embassy in Cairo under siege, and again, he provided vital assistance at the crucial moment. Or his support for more missile interceptors during our operation last summer when we took on Hamas terrorists.

(APPLAUSE)

In each of those moments, I called the president, and he was there. And some of what the president has done for Israel might never be known, because it touches on some of the most sensitive and strategic issues that arise between an American president and an Israeli prime minister. And Israel is grateful to you, the American Congress, for your support, for supporting us in so many ways, especially in generous military assistance and missile defense, including Iron Dome.

(APPLAUSE)

Last summer, millions of Israelis were protected from thousands of Hamas rockets because this capital dome helped build our Iron Dome. Thank you, America. Thank you for everything you’ve done for Israel. My friends, I’ve come here today because, as prime minister of Israel, I feel a profound obligation to speak to you about an issue that could well threaten the survival of my country and the future of my people: Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons.

We’re an ancient people. In our nearly 4,000 years of history, many have tried repeatedly to destroy the Jewish people. Tomorrow night, on the Jewish holiday of Purim, we’ll read the Book of Esther. We’ll read of a powerful Persian viceroy named Haman, who plotted to destroy the Jewish people some 2,500 years ago. But a courageous Jewish woman, Queen Esther, exposed the plot and gave for the Jewish people the right to defend themselves against their enemies.

The plot was foiled. Our people were saved.

(APPLAUSE)

Today the Jewish people face another attempt by yet another Persian potentate to destroy us. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei spews the oldest hatred, the oldest hatred of anti-Semitism with the newest technology. He tweets that Israel must be annihilated — he tweets. You know, in Iran, there isn’t exactly free Internet. But he tweets in English that Israel must be destroyed.

For those who believe that Iran threatens the Jewish state, but not the Jewish people, listen to Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, Iran’s chief terrorist proxy. He said: If all the Jews gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of chasing them down around the world.

But Iran’s regime is not merely a Jewish problem, any more than the Nazi regime was merely a Jewish problem. The 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis were but a fraction of the 60 million people killed in World War II. So, too, Iran’s regime poses a grave threat, not only to Israel, but also the peace of the entire world. To understand just how dangerous Iran would be with nuclear weapons, we must fully understand the nature of the regime.

The people of Iran are very talented people. They’re heirs to one of the world’s great civilizations. But in 1979, they were hijacked by religious zealots — religious zealots who imposed on them immediately a dark and brutal dictatorship.

That year, the zealots drafted a constitution, a new one for Iran. It directed the revolutionary guards not only to protect Iran’s borders, but also to fulfill the ideological mission of jihad. The regime’s founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, exhorted his followers to “export the revolution throughout the world.”

I’m standing here in Washington, D.C. and the difference is so stark. America’s founding document promises life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Iran’s founding document pledges death, tyranny, and the pursuit of jihad. And as states are collapsing across the Middle East, Iran is charging into the void to do just that.

Iran’s goons in Gaza, its lackeys in Lebanon, its revolutionary guards on the Golan Heights are clutching Israel with three tentacles of terror. Backed by Iran, Assad is slaughtering Syrians. Backed by Iran, Shiite militias are rampaging through Iraq. Backed by Iran, Houthis are seizing control of Yemen, threatening the strategic straits at the mouth of the Red Sea. Along with the Straits of Hormuz, that would give Iran a second choke-point on the world’s oil supply.

Just last week, near Hormuz, Iran carried out a military exercise blowing up a mock U.S. aircraft carrier. That’s just last week, while they’re having nuclear talks with the United States. But unfortunately, for the last 36 years, Iran’s attacks against the United States have been anything but mock. And the targets have been all too real.

Iran took dozens of Americans hostage in Tehran, murdered hundreds of American soldiers, Marines, in Beirut, and was responsible for killing and maiming thousands of American service men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Beyond the Middle East, Iran attacks America and its allies through its global terror network. It blew up the Jewish community center and the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires. It helped Al Qaida bomb U.S. embassies in Africa. It even attempted to assassinate the Saudi ambassador, right here in Washington, D.C.

In the Middle East, Iran now dominates four Arab capitals, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa. And if Iran’s aggression is left unchecked, more will surely follow.

So, at a time when many hope that Iran will join the community of nations, Iran is busy gobbling up the nations.

(APPLAUSE)

We must all stand together to stop Iran’s march of conquest, subjugation and terror.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, two years ago, we were told to give President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif a chance to bring change and moderation to Iran. Some change! Some moderation!

Rouhani’s government hangs gays, persecutes Christians, jails journalists and executes even more prisoners than before.

Last year, the same Zarif who charms Western diplomats laid a wreath at the grave of Imad Mughniyeh. Imad Mughniyeh is the terrorist mastermind who spilled more American blood than any other terrorist besides Osama bin Laden. I’d like to see someone ask him a question about that.

Iran’s regime is as radical as ever, its cries of “Death to America,” that same America that it calls the “Great Satan,” as loud as ever.

Now, this shouldn’t be surprising, because the ideology of Iran’s revolutionary regime is deeply rooted in militant Islam, and that’s why this regime will always be an enemy of America.

Don’t be fooled. The battle between Iran and ISIS doesn’t turn Iran into a friend of America.

Iran and ISIS are competing for the crown of militant Islam. One calls itself the Islamic Republic. The other calls itself the Islamic State. Both want to impose a militant Islamic empire first on the region and then on the entire world. They just disagree among themselves who will be the ruler of that empire.

In this deadly game of thrones, there’s no place for America or for Israel, no peace for Christians, Jews or Muslims who don’t share the Islamist medieval creed, no rights for women, no freedom for anyone.

So when it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is your enemy.

(APPLAUSE)

The difference is that ISIS is armed with butcher knives, captured weapons and YouTube, whereas Iran could soon be armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs. We must always remember — I’ll say it one more time — the greatest dangers facing our world is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons. To defeat ISIS and let Iran get nuclear weapons would be to win the battle, but lose the war. We can’t let that happen.

(APPLAUSE)

But that, my friends, is exactly what could happen, if the deal now being negotiated is accepted by Iran. That deal will not prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. It would all but guarantee that Iran gets those weapons, lots of them.

Let me explain why. While the final deal has not yet been signed, certain elements of any potential deal are now a matter of public record. You don’t need intelligence agencies and secret information to know this. You can Google it.

Absent a dramatic change, we know for sure that any deal with Iran will include two major concessions to Iran.

The first major concession would leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure, providing it with a short break-out time to the bomb. Break-out time is the time it takes to amass enough weapons-grade uranium or plutonium for a nuclear bomb.

According to the deal, not a single nuclear facility would be demolished. Thousands of centrifuges used to enrich uranium would be left spinning. Thousands more would be temporarily disconnected, but not destroyed.

Because Iran’s nuclear program would be left largely intact, Iran’s break-out time would be very short — about a year by U.S. assessment, even shorter by Israel’s.

And if — if Iran’s work on advanced centrifuges, faster and faster centrifuges, is not stopped, that break-out time could still be shorter, a lot shorter.

True, certain restrictions would be imposed on Iran’s nuclear program and Iran’s adherence to those restrictions would be supervised by international inspectors. But here’s the problem. You see, inspectors document violations; they don’t stop them.

Inspectors knew when North Korea broke to the bomb, but that didn’t stop anything. North Korea turned off the cameras, kicked out the inspectors. Within a few years, it got the bomb.

Now, we’re warned that within five years North Korea could have an arsenal of 100 nuclear bombs.

Like North Korea, Iran, too, has defied international inspectors. It’s done that on at least three separate occasions — 2005, 2006, 2010. Like North Korea, Iran broke the locks, shut off the cameras.

Now, I know this is not gonna come as a shock — as a shock to any of you, but Iran not only defies inspectors, it also plays a pretty good game of hide-and-cheat with them.

The U.N.’s nuclear watchdog agency, the IAEA, said again yesterday that Iran still refuses to come clean about its military nuclear program. Iran was also caught — caught twice, not once, twice — operating secret nuclear facilities in Natanz and Qom, facilities that inspectors didn’t even know existed.

Right now, Iran could be hiding nuclear facilities that we don’t know about, the U.S. and Israel. As the former head of inspections for the IAEA said in 2013, he said, “If there’s no undeclared installation today in Iran, it will be the first time in 20 years that it doesn’t have one.” Iran has proven time and again that it cannot be trusted. And that’s why the first major concession is a source of great concern. It leaves Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure and relies on inspectors to prevent a breakout. That concession creates a real danger that Iran could get to the bomb by violating the deal.

But the second major concession creates an even greater danger that Iran could get to the bomb by keeping the deal. Because virtually all the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program will automatically expire in about a decade.

Now, a decade may seem like a long time in political life, but it’s the blink of an eye in the life of a nation. It’s a blink of an eye in the life of our children. We all have a responsibility to consider what will happen when Iran’s nuclear capabilities are virtually unrestricted and all the sanctions will have been lifted. Iran would then be free to build a huge nuclear capacity that could product many, many nuclear bombs.

Iran’s Supreme Leader says that openly. He says, Iran plans to have 190,000 centrifuges, not 6,000 or even the 19,000 that Iran has today, but 10 times that amount — 190,000 centrifuges enriching uranium. With this massive capacity, Iran could make the fuel for an entire nuclear arsenal and this in a matter of weeks, once it makes that decision.

My long-time friend, John Kerry, Secretary of State, confirmed last week that Iran could legitimately possess that massive centrifuge capacity when the deal expires.

Now I want you to think about that. The foremost sponsor of global terrorism could be weeks away from having enough enriched uranium for an entire arsenal of nuclear weapons and this with full international legitimacy.

And by the way, if Iran’s Intercontinental Ballistic Missile program is not part of the deal, and so far, Iran refuses to even put it on the negotiating table. Well, Iran could have the means to deliver that nuclear arsenal to the far-reach corners of the earth, including to every part of the United States.

So you see, my friends, this deal has two major concessions: one, leaving Iran with a vast nuclear program and two, lifting the restrictions on that program in about a decade. That’s why this deal is so bad. It doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb; it paves Iran’s path to the bomb.

So why would anyone make this deal? Because they hope that Iran will change for the better in the coming years, or they believe that the alternative to this deal is worse?

Well, I disagree. I don’t believe that Iran’s radical regime will change for the better after this deal. This regime has been in power for 36 years, and its voracious appetite for aggression grows with each passing year. This deal would wet appetite — would only wet Iran’s appetite for more.

Would Iran be less aggressive when sanctions are removed and its economy is stronger? If Iran is gobbling up four countries right now while it’s under sanctions, how many more countries will Iran devour when sanctions are lifted? Would Iran fund less terrorism when it has mountains of cash with which to fund more terrorism?

Why should Iran’s radical regime change for the better when it can enjoy the best of both world’s: aggression abroad, prosperity at home?

This is a question that everyone asks in our region. Israel’s neighbors — Iran’s neighbors know that Iran will become even more aggressive and sponsor even more terrorism when its economy is unshackled and it’s been given a clear path to the bomb.

And many of these neighbors say they’ll respond by racing to get nuclear weapons of their own. So this deal won’t change Iran for the better; it will only change the Middle East for the worse. A deal that’s supposed to prevent nuclear proliferation would instead spark a nuclear arms race in the most dangerous part of the planet.

This deal won’t be a farewell to arms. It would be a farewell to arms control. And the Middle East would soon be crisscrossed by nuclear tripwires. A region where small skirmishes can trigger big wars would turn into a nuclear tinderbox.

If anyone thinks — if anyone thinks this deal kicks the can down the road, think again. When we get down that road, we’ll face a much more dangerous Iran, a Middle East littered with nuclear bombs and a countdown to a potential nuclear nightmare.

Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve come here today to tell you we don’t have to bet the security of the world on the hope that Iran will change for the better. We don’t have to gamble with our future and with our children’s future.

We can insist that restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program not be lifted for as long as Iran continues its aggression in the region and in the world.

(APPLAUSE)

Before lifting those restrictions, the world should demand that Iran do three things. First, stop its aggression against its neighbors in the Middle East. Second…

(APPLAUSE)

Second, stop supporting terrorism around the world.

(APPLAUSE)

And third, stop threatening to annihilate my country, Israel, the one and only Jewish state.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you.

If the world powers are not prepared to insist that Iran change its behavior before a deal is signed, at the very least they should insist that Iran change its behavior before a deal expires.

(APPLAUSE)

If Iran changes its behavior, the restrictions would be lifted. If Iran doesn’t change its behavior, the restrictions should not be lifted.

(APPLAUSE)

If Iran wants to be treated like a normal country, let it act like a normal country.

(APPLAUSE)

My friends, what about the argument that there’s no alternative to this deal, that Iran’s nuclear know-how cannot be erased, that its nuclear program is so advanced that the best we can do is delay the inevitable, which is essentially what the proposed deal seeks to do?

Well, nuclear know-how without nuclear infrastructure doesn’t get you very much. A racecar driver without a car can’t drive. A pilot without a plan can’t fly. Without thousands of centrifuges, tons of enriched uranium or heavy water facilities, Iran can’t make nuclear weapons.

(APPLAUSE)

Iran’s nuclear program can be rolled back well-beyond the current proposal by insisting on a better deal and keeping up the pressure on a very vulnerable regime, especially given the recent collapse in the price of oil.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, if Iran threatens to walk away from the table — and this often happens in a Persian bazaar — call their bluff. They’ll be back, because they need the deal a lot more than you do.

(APPLAUSE)

And by maintaining the pressure on Iran and on those who do business with Iran, you have the power to make them need it even more.

My friends, for over a year, we’ve been told that no deal is better than a bad deal. Well, this is a bad deal. It’s a very bad deal. We’re better off without it.

(APPLAUSE)

Now we’re being told that the only alternative to this bad deal is war. That’s just not true.

The alternative to this bad deal is a much better deal.

(APPLAUSE)

A better deal that doesn’t leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure and such a short break-out time. A better deal that keeps the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in place until Iran’s aggression ends.

(APPLAUSE)

A better deal that won’t give Iran an easy path to the bomb. A better deal that Israel and its neighbors may not like, but with which we could live, literally. And no country…

(APPLAUSE)

… no country has a greater stake — no country has a greater stake than Israel in a good deal that peacefully removes this threat.

Ladies and gentlemen, history has placed us at a fateful crossroads. We must now choose between two paths. One path leads to a bad deal that will at best curtail Iran’s nuclear ambitions for a while, but it will inexorably lead to a nuclear-armed Iran whose unbridled aggression will inevitably lead to war.

The second path, however difficult, could lead to a much better deal, that would prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, a nuclearized Middle East and the horrific consequences of both to all of humanity.

You don’t have to read Robert Frost to know. You have to live life to know that the difficult path is usually the one less traveled, but it will make all the difference for the future of my country, the security of the Middle East and the peace of the world, the peace, we all desire.

(APPLAUSE)

My friend, standing up to Iran is not easy. Standing up to dark and murderous regimes never is. With us today is Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel.

(APPLAUSE)

Elie, your life and work inspires to give meaning to the words, “never again.”

(APPLAUSE)

And I wish I could promise you, Elie, that the lessons of history have been learned. I can only urge the leaders of the world not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

(APPLAUSE)

Not to sacrifice the future for the present; not to ignore aggression in the hopes of gaining an illusory peace.

But I can guarantee you this, the days when the Jewish people remained passive in the face of genocidal enemies, those days are over.

(APPLAUSE)

We are no longer scattered among the nations, powerless to defend ourselves. We restored our sovereignty in our ancient home. And the soldiers who defend our home have boundless courage. For the first time in 100 generations, we, the Jewish people, can defend ourselves.

(APPLAUSE)

This is why — this is why, as a prime minister of Israel, I can promise you one more thing: Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand.

(APPLAUSE)

But I know that Israel does not stand alone. I know that America stands with Israel.

(APPLAUSE)

I know that you stand with Israel.

(APPLAUSE)

You stand with Israel, because you know that the story of Israel is not only the story of the Jewish people but of the human spirit that refuses again and again to succumb to history’s horrors.

(APPLAUSE)

Facing me right up there in the gallery, overlooking all of us in this (inaudible) chamber is the image of Moses. Moses led our people from slavery to the gates of the Promised Land.

And before the people of Israel entered the land of Israel, Moses gave us a message that has steeled our resolve for thousands of years. I leave you with his message today, (SPEAKING IN HEBREW), “Be strong and resolute, neither fear nor dread them.”

My friends, may Israel and America always stand together, strong and resolute. May we neither fear nor dread the challenges ahead. May we face the future with confidence, strength and hope.

May God bless the state of Israel and may God bless the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you all.

You’re wonderful.

Thank you, America. Thank you.

Thank you.

 

Anti-vaxers are incredibly egotistical – and anti-social

Note: The following are some posts I placed on an anti-vax website

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  • Richard Pressl How many cases of polio occurred on average in America before Jonas Salk made the vaccine available? What was the average ten years later? Vaccines work {period}. If one in a million develops complications, that’s the price of admission to civilized society. Millions die every year from accidents, bad luck, mayhem, and stupidity – there are no vaccines available to prevent any of these – but if there were – would you opt out of getting your kid vaccinated? If you say yes, you are either a liar, or incredibly stupid!
  • Richard Pressl I want my kid to be able to carry a gun to school to protect himself. Do you anti-vaxers think this is a good idea? If not, why not?
  • Richard Pressl No, and Hell No ! Those that put others at risk for serious diseases for preventable diseases should not get to chose what level of risk the rest of society must endure so these anti-vaxers can have some bogus notion of personal freedom. Get yer ass off to a deserted island somewhere where the rest of us don’t have to come in contact with you ! If you want to remain in civilized society, don’t put others at risk for your “choices”.
  • Richard Pressl When an anti-vaxer sends their kid to play at the home of a kid with one of these diseases, then and only then will I consider their argument…but THIS WILL NEVER HAPPEN ! They want their kid to be exceptional, and they are…in a hazardous manner for the rest of society. And BTW: Make sure the anti-vaxers do not give their kids vaccinations against polio, smallpox, or any other preventable disease ! These asshats don’t get to decide if they pay taxes, drive on the right side of the road, obey the laws, etc, etc – THIS IS THE PRICE WE ALL PAY TO LIVE IN A CIVILIZED SOCIETY ! Don’t put others at risk based on your biases ! Pick some other anti-government meme !

Rough guide: Historical Periods

eras

9,000 – 4,000 BCE – Pre-History

3,000 – 400 BCE – Mesopotamian

400 BCE – 450 AD  –  Greco-Roman

450 AD – 1300 AD  – Middle/Dark Ages

1300 – 1650  –  Renaissance

1650 – 1780  – Age of Enlightenment

1780 – 1900 – Industrial Age

1890 – 1970 – Progressive Age

1970 – 1990 – Space Age

1990 – Present – Information Age

Present – Future  – Age of Bots  – (Biological robots)

 

Mesh WiFi for Community

Sick of government spying, corporate monitoring, and overpriced ISPs? There’s a cure for that.

Note: The recent FCC ruling, (Feb. 2015), will finally make the community based mesh WiFi possible in America !

JOSEPH BONICIOLI mostly uses the same internet you and I do. He pays a service provider a monthly fee to get him online. But to talk to his friends and neighbors in Athens, Greece, he’s also got something much weirder and more interesting: a private, parallel internet.

He and his fellow Athenians built it. They did so by linking up a set of rooftop wifi antennas to create a “mesh,” a sort of bucket brigade that can pass along data and signals. It’s actually faster than the Net we pay for: Data travels through the mesh at no less than 14 megabits a second, and up to 150 Mbs a second, about 30 times faster than the commercial pipeline I get at home. Bonicioli and the others can send messages, video chat, and trade huge files without ever appearing on the regular internet. And it’s a pretty big group of people: Their Athens Wireless Metropolitan Network has more than 1,000 members, from Athens proper to nearby islands. Anyone can join for free by installing some equipment. “It’s like a whole other web,” Bonicioli told me recently. “It’s our network, but it’s also a playground.”

Indeed, the mesh has become a major social hub. There are blogs, discussion forums, a Craigslist knockoff; they’ve held movie nights where one member streams a flick and hundreds tune in to watch. There’s so much local culture that they even programmed their own mini-Google to help meshers find stuff. “It changes attitudes,” Bonicioli says. “People start sharing a lot. They start getting to know someone next door—they find the same interests; they find someone to go out and talk with.” People have fallen in love after meeting on the mesh.

The Athenians aren’t alone. Scores of communities worldwide have been building these roll-your-own networks—often because a mesh can also be used as a cheap way to access the regular internet. But along the way people are discovering an intriguing upside: Their new digital spaces are autonomous and relatively safe from outside meddling. In an era when governments and corporations are increasingly tracking our online movements, the user-controlled networks are emerging as an almost subversive concept. “When you run your own network,” Bonicioli explains, “nobody can shut it down.”
Continue reading Mesh WiFi for Community

This what it is about Boehner!

Boehner-LegacyThe noted conservative website Forbes.com  published a scathing indictment of Speaker John Boehner in the wake of the growing scandal surrounding his invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to speak before Congress.The article, entitled Bibi Netanyahu — aka ‘The Republican Senator From Israel’ — May Have Made A Fatal Political Mistake offers an in-depth analysis of fallout in Israel over the controversy, predicting the Netanyahu may very well lose his long-standing control of Israel as a result of the fallout from his diplomatic FUBAR.

The article begins by accusing Speaker Boehner of attempting “to create two conflicting foreign policies for the United States—one pursued by the President and the other pursued by the House of Representatives.”

After explaining concerns for Netanyahu at home and the possibility that “Netanyahu’s desire to interfere with American policy while seeking to bolster his re-election campaign, may turn out to be the very political screw-up that will allow the joint ticket forged by the Labor-Hatnuah political parties to bring an end to Netanyahu’s long reign atop the Israeli government,” the article goes on to consider Boehner’s actions.

In a rare attack of this magnitude on the controversial Speaker of the House, Forbes author Rick Ungar offers the following analysis:

I get that the Speaker doesn’t like the President or his policies. I get that many readers of this piece will have snarky responses about how this President already embarrasses himself and our nation, etc., etc., etc. But what neither the Speaker, nor those who cannot manage to think beyond their distaste for this president understand, is the truly unprecedented step Boehner has taken by joining with the leader of a foreign nation against his own president.

Presidents come and go. However, respect for the office of the presidency, particularly on the part of the man who is third in the line of succession to the presidency, should not. Through his actions, Boehner may have scored some points for his party and for his preferred policy option vis-à-vis the Iranian nuclear negotiations. But in the process, the Speaker of the American House of Representatives has succeeded in embarrassing the Office of the President.

Considering that Speaker Boehner has failed to accomplish anything of note during his Speakership, I can only wonder how it must feel to have his legacy be his effort to disgrace the American President in the effort to bolster the political chances of a foreign leader.

Ungar concludes, noting:

While I have often disagreed with Speaker Boehner, I have always kind of liked him in the belief that, while our solutions might be at odds, he wanted to do what he believes is best for America. It would be a struggle for me to harbor such positive feelings going forward. Seeking to damage any American President by helping a foreign leader embarrass our own leader can never be considered something that is best for the nation. And that is simply the truth no matter what your political persuasion or your feelings about the current occupant of the Oval Office.

CHRs continue their rampage

Tell Congress: Stop the attack on women’s health!

Birth control. Cancer screening. STD testing. Prenatal care. GONE.

Extreme Republicans are moving quickly to pass bills eliminating Planned Parenthood funding permanently–ending all of these vital services for the 5 million women and men nationwide who depend on public family planning providers every year. It’s especially heinous considering Planned Parenthood health centers are often the last resort for women seeking healthcare in low-income communities.

This ruthless effort is not about taking down “the big abortion industry.” What it really does is diminish women’s access to quality healthcare:

  • One in five women in the U.S. has visited a Planned Parenthood health center at least once in her life–often a last line of defense for women in low-income communities who can’t afford to see a private doctor.
  • Abortion only makes up about 3% of the extensive services offered by Planned Parenthood. By taking away these vital resources, women would lose access to simple services like birth control, yearly check-ups, STD testing, and prenatal care. 
  • And family planning providers like Planned Parenthood actually prevent more than 406,000 abortions each year.

But we can win this. Despite the GOP’s takeover of Congress, together we can take a stand against these outrageous attacks and send a message that the people won’t back down when it comes to women’s rights.

“Women deserve access to quality healthcare!  –  Don’t defund Planned Parenthood.”

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House Passes Bill that Prohibits Expert Scientific Advice to the EPA

EPA bills 2

While everyone’s attention was focused on the Senate and the Keystone XL decision on Tuesday, some pretty shocking stuff was quietly going on in the House of Representatives. The GOP-dominated House passed a bill that effectively prevents scientists who are peer-reviewed experts in their field from providing advice — directly or indirectly — to the EPA, while at the same time allowing industry representatives with financial interests in fossil fuels to have their say. Perversely, all this is being done in the name of “transparency.”

Bill H.R. 1422, also known as the Science Advisory Board Reform Act, passed 229-191. It was sponsored by Representative Chris Stewart (R-UT). The bill changes the rules for appointing members to the Science Advisory Board (SAB), which provides scientific advice to the EPA Administrator. Among many other things, it states: “Board members may not participate in advisory activities that directly or indirectly involve review or evaluation of their own work.”

Taken at face value this doesn’t appear problematic; but what this does in practice is prohibit a scientist who had published a peer-reviewed paper on a particular topic to advise the EPA on the findings contained within that paper. That is, the very scientists who know the subject matter best would not be allowed to discuss it; but perversely corporate experts, even those with direct financial interests in the findings, would be allowed.
Continue reading House Passes Bill that Prohibits Expert Scientific Advice to the EPA

Politics in Palestine

via The New Republic by

If you were to pinpoint one moment when it looked as if things just might work out for Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister, it would probably be February 2, 2010. That day, Fayyad addressed the annual Herzliya Conference, a sort of Israeli version of Davos featuring high-powered policymakers and intellectuals. It is not a typical speaking venue for Palestinians; yet Fayyad was warmly received. He sat in the front row next to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, whojust before Fayyad ascended the stagewhispered into his ear and grasped his hand in what appeared to be a show of genuine affection. When Fayyad reached the blue and white podium, he garnered an enthusiastic round of applause from the hundreds in attendance.

Standing five feet five in a charcoal suit with glasses, frog-like features, and thinning salt-and-pepper hair, Fayyad didn’t appear all that charismaticand he didn’t sound charismatic, either. He spoke in jargon-laced English with a deep nasal monotone. But what he had to say was dramaticeven revolutionary.
Continue reading Politics in Palestine

Hehehehe FB Post

NoneOfThatShitWorked

Question: Two British planes shot down in Iraq?

Re: “Two British planes shot down in Iraq delivering weapons to ISIS” – via FARS News – Tue. Feb. 24th, 2015

* * * * * Info from Reddit & Others* * * * * *

For the lazy that don’t want to search for themselves:

http://www.iraqinews.com/iraq-war/american-aircraft-airdropped-weapons-to-isis-says-mp/

http://rt.com/news/198388-weapons-islamic-kurdish-us/

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/22/isis-us-airdrop-weapons-pentagon

http://www.military.com/video/operations-and-strategy/air-drop-operations/us-air-drops-weapons-in-area-held-by-isis/3966416782001/

I don’t think it’s completely indiscriminate since ISIS attacks various towns, areas, and even military bases, captures and holds areas that they administer. It’s hard to imagine they could capture a base that has a fleet of Abrams tanks without some military discipline, unless these huge turnovers of U.S. military equipment are really just giveaways.

 …this could just be propaganda, but think about who benefits from a longer war. The military industrial complex is incentivized to do whatever it takes to have an enemy strong enough to keep the government motivated to spend billions of dollars on weapons and operations. They’ve done plenty of sneaky stuff like this before, why is this so far fetched?

This is a bit far fetched. Basis is probably the odd drop gone astray and some mistrusting the west I suppose

There are no reports in the Western mainstream media pertaining to this issue. This report is based on statements emanating from the Iraq parliament, with photographic evidence. We have not been in a position to corroborate this report by FARS  News.

‘Pornography Is What the End of the World Looks Like’

via TruthDig – posted on Feb 15, 2015 – by Chris Hedges

A scene from “Fifty Shades of Grey.” (YouTube)

BOSTON—“Fifty Shades of Grey,” the book and the movie, is a celebration of the sadism that dominates nearly every aspect of American culture and lies at the core of pornography and global capitalism. It glorifies our dehumanization of women. It champions a world devoid of compassion, empathy and love. It eroticizes hypermasculine power that carries out the abuse, degradation, humiliation and torture of women whose personalities have been removed, whose only desire is to debase themselves in the service of male lust. The film, like “American Sniper,” unquestioningly accepts a predatory world where the weak and the vulnerable are objects to exploit while the powerful are narcissistic and violent demigods. It blesses this capitalist hell as natural and good.

“Pornography,” Robert Jensen writes, “is what the end of the world looks like.”

We are blinded by self-destructive fantasy. An array of amusements and spectacles, including TV “reality” shows, huge sporting events, social media, porn (which earns at least twice what Hollywood movies generate), alluring luxury products, drugs, alcohol and magic Jesus, offers enticing exit doors from reality. We yearn to be rich, powerful and celebrities. And those we must trample to build our pathetic little empires are seen as deserving their fate. That nearly all of us will never attain these ambitions is emblematic of our collective self-delusion and the effectiveness of a culture awash in manipulation and lies.

Porn seeks to eroticize this sadism. In porn women are paid to repeat the mantra “I am a cunt. I am a bitch. I am a whore. I am a slut. Fuck me hard with your big cock.”They plead to be physically abused. Porn caters to degrading racist stereotypes. Black men are sexually potent beasts stalking white women. Black women have a raw, primitive lust. Latin women are sultry and hotblooded. Asian women are meek, sexually submissive geishas. In porn, human imperfections do not exist. The oversized silicone breasts, the pouting, gel-inflated lips, the bodies sculpted by plastic surgeons, the drug-induced erections that never subside and the shaved pubic regions—which cater to porn’s pedophilia—turn performers into pieces of plastic. Smell, sweat, breath, heartbeats and touch are erased along with tenderness. Women in porn are packaged commodities. They are pleasure dolls and sexual puppets. They are stripped of true emotions. Porn is not about sex, if one defines sex as a mutual act between two partners, but about masturbation, a solitary auto-arousal devoid of intimacy and love. The cult of the self—that is the essence of porn—lies at the core of corporate culture. Porn, like global capitalism, is where human beings are sent to die.

There are few people on the left who grasp the immense danger of allowing pornography to replace intimacy, sex and love. Much of the left believes that pornography is about free speech, as if it is unacceptable to financially exploit and physically abuse a woman in a sweatshop in China but acceptable to do so on the set of a porn film, as if torture is wrong in Abu Ghraib, where prisoners were sexually humiliated and abused as if they were on a porn set, but permissible on commercial porn sites.

A new wave of feminists, who have betrayed the iconic work of radicals such as Andrea Dworkin, defends porn as a form of sexual liberation and self-empowerment. These “feminists,” grounded in Michel Foucault and Judith Butler, are stunted products of neoliberalism and postmodernism. Feminism, for them, is no longer about the liberation of women who are oppressed; it is defined by a handful of women who are successful, powerful and wealthy—or, as in the case of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” able to snag a rich and powerful man. A woman wrote the “Fifty Shades” book, as well as the screenplay. A woman directed the film. A woman studio head bought the movie. This collusion by women is part of the internalization of oppression and sexual violence that have their roots in porn. Dworkin understood. She wrote that “the new pornography is a vast graveyard where the Left has gone to die. The Left cannot have its whores and its politics too.”
Continue reading ‘Pornography Is What the End of the World Looks Like’

Elites Will Make Gazans of Us All

Note: For a recent indication consider this: “Israel turns off power to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the dead of winter – Feb. 2015
See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2015/02/hundreds-thousands-palestinians#sthash.XFPdKkPm.dpuf

* * * * * * * *

via TruthDig – Posted on Nov 19, 2012 – by Chris Hedges

Gaza is a window on our coming dystopia. The growing divide between the world’s elite and its miserable masses of humanity is maintained through spiraling violence. Many impoverished regions of the world, which have fallen off the economic cliff, are beginning to resemble Gaza, where 1.6 million Palestinians live in the planet’s largest internment camp. These sacrifice zones, filled with seas of pitifully poor people trapped in squalid slums or mud-walled villages, are increasingly hemmed in by electronic fences, monitored by surveillance cameras and drones and surrounded by border guards or military units that shoot to kill. These nightmarish dystopias extend from sub-Saharan Africa to Pakistan to China. They are places where targeted assassinations are carried out, where brutal military assaults are pressed against peoples left defenseless, without an army, navy or air force. All attempts at resistance, however ineffective, are met with the indiscriminate slaughter that characterizes modern industrial warfare.

In the new global landscape, as in Israel’s occupied territories and the United States’ own imperial projects in Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and Afghanistan, massacres of thousands of defenseless innocents are labeled wars. Resistance is called a provocation, terrorism or a crime against humanity. The rule of law, as well as respect for the most basic civil liberties and the right of self-determination, is a public relations fiction used to placate the consciences of those who live in the zones of privilege. Prisoners are routinely tortured and “disappeared.” The severance of food and medical supplies is an accepted tactic of control. Lies permeate the airwaves. Religious, racial and ethnic groups are demonized. Missiles rain down on concrete hovels, mechanized units fire on unarmed villagers, gunboats pound refugee camps with heavy shells, and the dead, including children, line the corridors of hospitals that lack electricity and medicine.

The impending collapse of the international economy, the assaults on the climate, the resulting droughts, flooding, precipitous decline in crop yields and rising food prices are creating a universe where power is divided between the narrow elites, who hold in their hands sophisticated instruments of death, and the enraged masses. The crises are fostering a class war that will dwarf anything imagined by Karl Marx. They are establishing a world where most will be hungry and live in fear, while a few will gorge themselves on delicacies in protected compounds. And more and more people will have to be sacrificed to keep this imbalance in place.

Because it has the power to do so, Israel—as does the United States—flouts international law to keep a subject population in misery. The continued presence of Israeli occupation forces defies nearly a hundred U.N. Security Council resolutions calling for them to withdraw. The Israeli blockade of Gaza, established in June 2007, is a brutal form of collective punishment that violates Article 33 of the Fourth 1949 Geneva Convention, which set up rules for the “Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.” The blockade has turned Gaza into a sliver of hell, an Israeli-administered ghetto where thousands have died, including the 1,400 civilians killed in the Israeli incursion of 2008. With 95 percent of factories shut down, Palestinian industry has virtually ceased functioning. The remaining 5 percent operate at 25 to 50 percent capacity. Even the fishing industry is moribund. Israel refuses to let fishermen travel more than three miles from the coastline, and within the fishing zone boats frequently come under Israeli fire.

The Israeli border patrols have seized 35 percent of the agricultural land in Gaza for a buffer zone. The collapsing infrastructure and Israeli seizure of aquifers mean that in many refugee camps, such as Khan Yunis, there is no running water. UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) estimates that 80 percent of all Gazans now rely on food aid. And the claim of Israeli self-defense belies the fact that it is Israel that maintains an illegal occupation and violates international law by carrying out collective punishment of Palestinians. It is Israel that chose to escalate the violence when during an incursion into Gaza earlier this month its forces fatally shot a 13-year-old boy. As the world breaks down, this becomes the new paradigm—modern warlords awash in terrifying technologies and weapons murdering whole peoples. We do the same in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

Market forces and the military mechanisms that protect these forces are the sole ideology that governs industrial states and humans’ relationship to the natural world. It is an ideology that results in millions of dead and millions more displaced from their homes in the developing world. And the awful algebra of this ideology means that these forces will eventually be unleashed on us, too. Those who cannot be of use to market forces are considered expendable. They have no rights and legitimacy. Their existence, whether in Gaza or blighted postindustrial cities such as Camden, N.J., is considered a drain on efficiency and progress. They are viewed as refuse. And as refuse they not only have no voice and no freedom; they can be and are extinguished or imprisoned at will. This is a world where only corporate power and profit are sacred. It is a world of barbarism.
Continue reading Elites Will Make Gazans of Us All

What the opposition is all about re: Pres. Obama’s Address on Immigration

Note: Here is Thursday night’s speech from the White House: (video and transcript) – Nov. 10th, 2014

“My fellow Americans, tonight, I’d like to talk with you about immigration.For more than 200 years, our tradition of welcoming immigrants from around the world has given us a tremendous advantage over other nations. It’s kept us youthful, dynamic, and entrepreneurial. It has shaped our character as a people with limitless possibilities –- people not trapped by our past, but able to remake ourselves as we choose.

But today, our immigration system is broken — and everybody knows it.

Families who enter our country the right way and play by the rules watch others flout the rules. Business owners who offer their workers good wages and benefits see the competition exploit undocumented immigrants by paying them far less. All of us take offense to anyone who reaps the rewards of living in America without taking on the responsibilities of living in America. And undocumented immigrants who desperately want to embrace those responsibilities see little option but to remain in the shadows, or risk their families being torn apart.

It’s been this way for decades. And for decades, we haven’t done much about it.

When I took office, I committed to fixing this broken immigration system.

And I began by doing what I could to secure our borders. Today, we have more agents and technology deployed to secure our southern border than at any time in our history. And over the past six years, illegal border crossings have been cut by more than half. Although this summer, there was a brief spike in unaccompanied children being apprehended at our border, the number of such children is now actually lower than it’s been in nearly two years. Overall, the number of people trying to cross our border illegally is at its lowest level since the 1970s. Those are the facts.Meanwhile, I worked with Congress on a comprehensive fix, and last year, 68 Democrats, Republicans, and independents came together to pass a bipartisan bill in the Senate. It wasn’t perfect. It was a compromise. But it reflected common sense. It would have doubled the number of border patrol agents while giving undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship if they paid a fine, started paying their taxes, and went to the back of the line. And independent experts said that it would help grow our economy and shrink our deficits.

Had the House of Representatives allowed that kind of bill a simple yes-or-no vote, it would have passed with support from both parties, and today it would be the law. But for a year and a half now, Republican leaders in the House have refused to allow that simple vote.Now, I continue to believe that the best way to solve this problem is by working together to pass that kind of common sense law. But until that happens, there are actions I have the legal authority to take as President –- the same kinds of actions taken by Democratic and Republican presidents before me -– that will help make our immigration system more fair and more just.

Tonight, I am announcing those actions.
Continue reading What the opposition is all about re: Pres. Obama’s Address on Immigration

Attention spooks!

DHS 2015 Funding Bill

TDHS_Seal_Hi-Resopic: Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2015

 

 

 

U.S. House of Representatives Bill HR-240 is listed as containing 592 words while the full text of the legislation is 19,868 words. The issue in Congress as of Feb. 20th is over a provision of the bill which attempts to limit Executive Office jurisdiction over certain immigration issues, not over appropriations for the Immigration & Naturalization Service or DHS.

Even more importantly – there appears to have been no serious attention given, by anyone, as to whether the DHS entity has proven useful, fiscally responsible, efficient, or effective; or if instead, DHS is just a massive catch-all agency with several dozens layers of departmental level and middle management that detract from the business world efficiency of scale motif, which was originally defined as a primary objective for the creation of DHS. Just adding up the apparent portions of the funding provided for senior management functions, it appears that just over $2 billion goes to that segment alone.

The following are selected levels of appropriations in the bill:
* * * * * * * *
$132,573,000 – Office of the Secretary of DHS
$187,503,000 – Office of the under Secretary for Management
$52,020,000 – Office of the Chief Financial Officer
$288,122,000 – Office of the Chief Information Officer
$129,358,000 – Office of Health Affairs
$118,617,000 – Office of Inspector General
$1,500,000,000 – Office of Health Affairs Contracts
$7,033,464,494 – DHS Security Office
$255,804,000 – HSA Intelligence Analysis & Operations
$8,459,657,000 – U.S. Customs & Border Protection
$5,932,756,999 – Immigration & Customs Enforcement
$5,639,095,000 – Transportation Security Administration
$219,166,000 – TSA Intelligence & Vetting Activities
$31,000,000 – Coast Guard Equipment & Facilities
$7,043,318,000 – Coast Guard Recreation & Welfare
$1,615,860,000 – U.S. Secret Service
$100,000,000 – Port Security Grants
$680,000,000 – Federal Fire Prevention and Control
$124,435,000 – For the E-Verify Program
$230,497,000 – Federal Law Enforcement Training
$973,915,000 – Science & Technology Research
$197,900,000 – Radiologic and Nuclear Research
$72,603,000 – Nuclear Detection Office Acquisition & Research
* * * * * * * *
$41.017,664,493 – Sub-Total
$60,900,000,999 – Estimated Total DHS Budget for 2015
$575,200,000,000 – Estimated DoD Discretionary Budget f2015

* * * * * Updates on DHS Funding* * * * *
Feb. 24th: “Senate Republicans Offer Deal on DHS Funding”

Feb. 25th: “Senate Democrats Agree to GOP plan for DHS Funding”

Feb: 27th: “House Republicans try to bypass Senate DHS proposed bill – with stopgap funding

 

eWaste blizzard

Recycling Used Electronics Our Only Hope

Dear EarthTalk: The collective impact of all the iPhones and other devices we buy, use and then discard must be mind-boggling at this point. Has anyone quantified this and what can we do to start reducing waste from such items?  — Jacques Chevalier, Boston, MA

With a record four million pre-orders for Apple’s best-selling iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, it’s more evident than ever that consumers want the latest in smartphone technology at their fingertips. A new report by analysts at German market research firm GfK determined that global smartphone sales exceeded 1.2 billion units in 2014 — a 23 percent increase over2013.

Old cell phones can be recycled to cut down on e-waste.

With so many new smartphones and electronics being purchased, are users disposing of their older devices properly? According to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data, approximately 2,440,000 tons of electronics, such as computers, mobile devices and televisions, were disposed of in 2010. Twenty-seven percent, or 649,000 tons, of that “e-waste” was recycled. Because some materials in electronics, such as lead, nickel, cadmium and mercury, could pose risks to human health or the environment, the EPA “strongly supports” keeping used electronics out of landfills.

“Recycling electronic equipment isn’t quite as easy as leaving it in a bin in your front yard, as we’ve learned to do with paper and plastics, but the health and environmental benefits of recycling e-scrap are tremendous,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator Mary A. Gade. “Also, we know that half of the devices thrown away still work.”

If Americans recycled the approximately 130 million cell phones that are disposed of annually, enough energy would be saved to power more than 24,000 homes in a year. If we went ahead and recycled one million laptops, too, we would save the energy equivalent to the electricity used by 3,657 U.S. homes in a year. Furthermore, for every million cell phones we recycle, 35,274 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered. Recovering these valuable metals through recycling precludes the need for mining and processing that much new material from the Earth, thus not only conserving natural resources but preventing air and water pollution as well.

Thankfully, recycling old smartphones and other electronic devices is an easy, typically cost-free process for consumers. Electronics retailer Best Buy offers the most comprehensive appliance and electronics recycling program in the United States, with more than 400 pounds of product collected for recycling each minute the stores are open. Best Buy offers free recycling for most electronics and large appliances, regardless of where they were purchased, allowing the company to achieve its ambitious goal of recycling one billion pounds of electronics and appliances by the end of 2014. (

Editors Note: This is a commendable service for items that have no salvage value; but many electronics products do, so a wise consumer should evaluate the recycling/resale industry offerings before providing EOL equipment to Best Buy Corp. with no benefit, savings, or discount on other items. Furthermore, one should stay abreast of news reports to determine as well as possible, just what Best Buy is doing with this equipment. Currently this information is not readily available. Similar corporate programs are in force by Dell, and HP; however they require items be shipped to the OEM at owner expense, and many items are not accepted, or require time-consuming itemizing and online forms.   

Some charitable organizations, like Cell Phones for Soldiers, also offer free cell phone recycling. Since 2004, the non-profit has prevented more than 11.6 million cell phones from ending up in landfills. All cell phones donated to Cell Phones for Soldiers are sold either to electronic restorers or a recyclers, depending on the phone’s condition. The proceeds from the phones are used to purchase prepaid international calling cards for troops and provide emergency financial assistance to veterans. “Cell Phones for Soldiers truly is a lifeline,” says Robbie Bergquist, co-founder of the non-profit. “To withstand time apart and the pressure of serving our country, the family connection is a critical piece to survival.” To see the ranking, objective analysis, and reviews of this military non-profit check out the findings of Charity Navigator Ratings service.

Law & Disorder: Suffolk County, New York

Law & Disorder: Court Systems

(info from Wikipedia)

Suffolk County is a suburban county located in the state of New York. As of the 2010 census, the population was 1,493,350, making it the fourth-most populous county in New York.

In 2006 Forbes Magazine ranked six Suffolk County zip codes as among the top 110 most expensive in the United States. Sagaponack was ranked the most expensive zip code in the nation with a median home sale price in 2005 of $2,787,500. As of 2008, the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office employs 275 Deputy Sheriffs, 850 Correction Officers and about 200 civilian staff. Most non-criminal moving violation tickets issued are handled by the Traffic Violations Bureau, which is part of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, not the court system. Currently, Suffolk County has an 8.625% sales tax, compared to an overall New York State sales tax of 4%

Compare these rates with Cobb County, Georgia, which has less than half the population; but has 600 Police Officers, and 150 civilian employees. Georgia operates the fifth-largest prison system in the nation but with 10 million residents is eighth in population, at a referenced cost of $1 billion a year. The job of overseeing 60,000 inmates and 150,000 felons on probation consumes 1 of every 17 state dollars. As is common in Georgia, each municipality also has several layers of law enforcement: City, County, Sheriff, and State police, plus corrections officers, plus the Court System. The big “money maker” for Cobb County is the Traffic Court segment, consisting of seven courts, which handle 200+ cases per day, most of which are augmented by fines of several hundred dollars each.

* * * * * * * *

Over Law-ed? This is a listing for the – 68 – Courts in Suffolk County, New York
Continue reading Law & Disorder: Suffolk County, New York

A Soldier’s legacy

THE KINKS LYRICS

grief

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Some Mother’s Son”
Continue reading A Soldier’s legacy

$50 Million Down The Tubes – giving to the wrong PAC’s

How 17 Conservative PACs Are Spending Their Money

 

The late, great Eric Hoffer once said that, “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.”

Some people have started to wonder whether that’s happened to groups in the conservative movement – and that’s understandable. Reports about sleazy activities by conservative groups have not exactly been in short supply over the last couple of years. Damaging stories have popped up on the Daily Beast, Mother Jones, Washington Post, the Politico and at theDaily Caller among other outlets. Additionally, for those of us who have a lot of friends in the Tea Party and among grassroots conservatives, stories of abuse have become rampant. That may be why you’ve heard people like Ann Coulter and Dana Loesch publicly suggesting that there are groups out there ripping people off. However, the problem with the articles that have come out so far is that most of them have come from liberal outlets and have only discussed limited aspects of a few organizations. That naturally led people to wonder if they were reading hit pieces. As to the rumors, there are always two sides to every story and it’s difficult to know how much weight to place on anecdotal stories.

Feedme
How We Chose Which Groups To Research

So, I decided to find out once and for all what’s really happening with these conservative groups. Towards that end, I hired an experienced researcher, Jay Batman, to do an in-depth 170 page report on 21 big name conservative groups that we selected. We focused on big name organizations along with other groups that had been targeted in reports by other media outlets. Eventually, after finding that the money issues all seemed to center around the PACs, we decided to drop four (501(c)(3)s and (501(c)(4)s and focus where we were finding the problems. After the research was done, my partner Tiffiny Ruegner and I reached out to all of these groups to give them a chance to respond. A little less than half of the PACs replied, but we did want to get their side of what was happening because the ultimate goal was to compare all these groups in as neutral a fashion as possible so conservatives can decide whether their money was well spent.

That was not as easy as it sounds.

Very few people are capable of adequately researching this information, some of these groups are quite adept at hiding what they’re doing and there are gaps in the law that potentially allow for some very shady activities to occur under the radar.
Continue reading $50 Million Down The Tubes – giving to the wrong PAC’s

Pres. Obama’s speech at the Summit on Countering Violent Extremism

Remarks by the President at the Summit on Countering Violent Extremism | February 19, 2015

State Department – Washington, D.C. – 10:33 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)  Thank you, John.  Good morning, everyone.  I want to thank John Kerry, not only for his introduction, but for the outstanding leadership of American diplomacy.  John is tireless.  If he has not visited your country yet, he will soon.  And I want to thank you and everybody here at the State Department for organizing and hosting this ministerial today.

Mr. Secretary General, distinguished guests, we are joined by representatives from governments, because we all have a responsibility to ensure the security, the prosperity and the human rights of our citizens.  And we’re joined by leaders of civil society, including many faith leaders, because civil society — reflecting the views and the voices of citizens — is vital to the success of any country.  I thank all of you and I welcome all of you.

We come together from more than 60 countries from every continent.  We speak different languages, born of different races and ethnic groups, belong to different religions.  We are here today because we are united against the scourge of violent extremism and terrorism.

As we speak, ISIL is terrorizing the people of Syria and Iraq and engaging in unspeakable cruelty.  The wanton murder of children, the enslavement and rape of women, threatening religious minorities with genocide, beheading hostages.  ISIL-linked terrorists murdered Egyptians in the Sinai Peninsula, and their slaughter of Egyptian Christians in Libya has shocked the world.   Beyond the region, we’ve seen deadly attacks in Ottawa, Sydney, Paris, and now Copenhagen.

Elsewhere, Israelis have endured the tragedy of terrorism for decades.  Pakistan’s Taliban has mounted a long campaign of violence against the Pakistani people that now tragically includes the massacre of more than 100 schoolchildren and their teachers.  From Somalia, al-Shabaab terrorists have launched attacks across East Africa.  In Nigeria and neighboring countries, Boko Haram kills and kidnaps men, women and children.

At the United Nations in September, I called on the international community to come together and eradicate violent extremism.  And I challenged countries to come to the General Assembly this fall with concrete steps we can take together.  And I’m grateful for all of you for answering this call.

Yesterday at the White House, we welcomed community groups from the United States, and some from your countries, to focus on how we can empower communities to protect their families and friends and neighbors from violent ideologies and recruitment.  And over the coming months, many of your countries will host summits to build on the work here and to prepare for the General Assembly.  Today, I want to suggest some areas where I believe we can focus on as governments.
Continue reading Pres. Obama’s speech at the Summit on Countering Violent Extremism

What we need…

motivator382bdd73dd4edc3b6a2821d016ae84ab80e685a9

A plain-spoken statement of “where we are”

(by Barb Lee on Facebook: Feb. 18th, 2015)

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The way some of the world perceives the violent, horrible, evil ISIS terrorist extremists as representing all Muslims, is wrong. The great and vast majority of Muslims are good, decent and compassionate people, and those horrible ISIS terrorists are a minuscule fraction. It is the same mistake the world could make about Americans, thinking us all a country of greed-driven extremist conservative republicans. What else can they think? They see the republican majority in both houses. They see there are money-backed movements here to privatize water, education, health, the Post Office, sell our environment to the highest bidder, and a host of other greed-driven goals that exploit the middle class and poor in the process.

They see how so many extremist conservative republicans are anti-women, anti-poor, anti-union, anti-education, anti-science, and anti-environmental protection. They see prisons for profit and an increasing number of people incarcerated for minor infractions. They see special needs children on the Lakota Indian reservation for example, being taken from their families and put into foster homes and over-medicated, because each child is valued at $79,000 annually to the South Dakota foster-homes-for-profit industry if the child is designated as “special needs”, and the pharmaceutical companies further abuse these children and the Federal processes through payoffs back to the foster-home industry.

They see us exploiting our own people repeatedly, especially those who do not have a powerful political voice in our country. We could be judged by our elected extremist conservative republican congress and their hateful bigoted laws, their associations with white supremacist and hate groups, their sold-out ethics to big corporations, their voting habits to deprive children & the poor of food and health care, their obstruction of President Obama’s every effort to help the people.

Our racist, greedy & hateful conservative republican congress/politicians do not represent all Americans. They are an extreme political group that the rest of us are ashamed of.  Just as the terrorist, extremist and violent ISIS is a religious-political group that the great and vast majority of Muslims are ashamed of.

ISIS does not represent them, and ours do not represent us.

On how to interview effectively

Anderson Cooper Takes Down Dan Burton

Published by under Skepticism – Feb. 17th, 2015
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I criticize bad, biased, and or just lazy science journalism frequently, and so it’s a pleasure to occasionally have the opportunity to praise good journalism. This recent interview of Dan Burton by Anderson Cooper could be a template for how to conduct an interview over a scientific issue.

Dan Burton is a former Republican Congressman who has a long history of being anti-vaccine. He likes to repeat anti-vaccine tropes, and does so with the clueless persistence of a seasoned politician with an agenda.

Anderson Cooper is one of the few American journalists who has demonstrated his ability to do a tough and probing interview – you know, actual journalism. He demonstrated his chops again here. Specifically:

He was clearly prepped for the interview. He did his research, understood the issues, and was able to challenge Burton on specific points. You can’t go into an interview like this cold, or with only a superficial understanding of the issue. You have to know what the other person is going to say and how to respond.

Proper research will set you up for the next critical aspect of a proper interview, challenging your subject when they make statements that are wrong or misleading. Cooper did this well, and pressed Burton when he tried to wiggle out of his blatant errors.

Cooper pressed Burton enough that he exposed Burton’s position for the house of cards that it is, and that’s the point. Until you get to the point where the interviewee’s position is exposed as the sham that it is, you haven’t done your job.

To give what is perhaps the most dramatic example from the interview, Burton claims that mercury in vaccines is linked to autism, citing his three years of research on a House committee as authority for this statement. Cooper pointed out that in 2001 mercury was removed from all vaccines, except for some flu vaccines.

Burton simply kept responding with his talking points: autism rates have risen from 1/10,000 to 1/80. (As an aside, Cooper could have challenged him on this point also, those numbers clearly being an artifact of diagnosis and definition.) Burton also kept saying that mercury is a proven toxin and should not be in any vaccines.

This is a great example of how politicians and those with an agenda deceive. You make  statements that in isolation may be superficially correct, and weave them together to suggest a desired narrative. Cooper’s job was to deconstruct that narrative by exploring those facts further.
Continue reading On how to interview effectively

Seven simple steps to lower your risk of dementia

7 Ways to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease {actually ‘lower your risk’ – none of these will prevent it} 

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“You may be able to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease by a whopping 70 to 80 percent,” says Dr. Neal Barnard, president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, the non-profit organizations that sponsored the first annual International Conference on Nutrition and the Brain in Washington DC.

Sixteen researchers presented compelling evidence about why the following seven habits could help warn off many neurological disorders, not just Alzheimer’s, that steal our mind.

Minimize your intake saturated and trans fats

These “bad” fats tend to increase blood cholesterol levels, which encourage the production of dangerous beta-amyloid plaques in the brain—a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. In the Chicago Health and Aging Study, people consuming the most saturated fat had triple the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Do you know that the average person eats 580 calories a day in snacks? Click here for 16 Ways To Curb Mindless Munching.

Vegetables, legumes, fruits, and whole grains should be staples in your diet

These foods are rich in vitamins and minerals that protect the brain such as vitamin B6 and folate. The Chicago Health and Aging Study found that a high intake of fruits and vegetables was associated with a reduced risk of cognitive decline. A plant-rich diet also reduces your risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes, both of which can play a role in Alzheimer’s disease.

Get about 5 mg of vitamin E daily

This antioxidant has been linked to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease and can easily be consumed by eating small handful of nuts or seeds or munching on mangoes, papayas, avocadoes, tomatoes, red bell peppers, spinach, and fortified breads and cereals. But stick to food sources, says Dr. Barnard. Taking a supplement doesn’t seem offer the same benefit.

Pop a B12 supplement

Getting adequate amounts of this B vitamin (about 2.4 mcg per day), found in animal products and fortified foods, helps reduce levels of homocysteine, an amino acid linked to cognitive impairment. In an Oxford University study of older adults with elevated homocysteine levels and memory problems, B vitamin supplementation improved memory and reduced brain atrophy. If you’re over 50 or follow a plant-based diet, taking a supplement is extra important.

Avoid multivitamins with iron and copper unless otherwise directed by your doctor

Most people get adequate levels of these metals through their diet, and ingesting them in excess has been linked to cognitive problems.

Avoid cooking with aluminum pots and pans

Instead, opt for stainless steel or cast iron cookware. While aluminum’s role in brain functioning is still under investigation, preliminary data suggests that it may contribute to cognitive problems.

Walk briskly three times a week for at least 40 minutes

Research suggests that regular aerobic exercise can reduce your risk for dementia by 40 to 50 percent.

By adopting all of the above habits you may be setting your brain up to be around for the long haul.

The health of your brain, like the health of your body, depends on many factors.

6 Pillars of Brain Health

While some factors, such as your genes, are out of your control, many powerful lifestyle factors are within your sphere of influence.

The six pillars of a brain-healthy lifestyle are:

  1. Regular exercise
  2. Healthy diet
  3. Mental stimulation
  4. Quality sleep
  5. Stress management
  6. An active social life

The more you strengthen each of the six pillars in your daily life, the healthier and hardier your brain will be. When you lead a brain-healthy lifestyle, your brain will stay working stronger…longer.

Economic Disequilibrium

(by R. W. Pressl – Feb. 18th, 2015)

The David H. Koch Fund for Science is a financial contributor to National Public Radio’s program NOVA. Some time during the NOVA broadcasts the phrase will be provided: “Funding for NOVA is provided by the Davd H. Koch Fund for Science, supporting NOVA and promoting public understanding of science”.

Of the two Koch brothers David engages in a wider realm of philanthropic giving than Charles, the latter donating much more to political entities and think tanks. David’s website states that his foundation has donated over $1.2Bn to organizations in his lifetime. Which seems like a lot; but it’s not. According to Forbes Magazine, David’s net worth is put at $43Bn, putting him as #24th in the World as most powerful person. Number one in the World on that list is Vladimir Putin

Of the top 100 U.S. Foundations by asset size as detailed in a 2012 report by Foundation Center, the David H. Koch Fund doesn’t even show up. The largest foundation is the Bill & Melinda Gates fund with assets of $37.2Bn, and in the 100th position is the Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation with $728M in assets.  Thus unless there is some other explanation, the David H. Koch Fund must have assets of less than $728 million. Incidentally, the total asset value of the 100 Foundations is $267Bn.

What do the Koch brothers get for thei financial support of NOVA, Arts Institutions, and NPR? In a word: Legitimacy. It provides a backdrop for Koch Industries, where the public philanthropic activities with donations to a variety of educational and research institutions provides social protection for what the Koch’s do behind the curtain. Koch Industries employs 50,000 people in the United States and another 20,000 in 59 other countries. In 2013, Forbes called it the second largest privately held company in the United States with annual revenue of $115Bn.

Such cover as for their lobbying efforts on behalf of the Keystone XL pipeline. Or for their participation in companies involved in hydralic fracturing in the Great Plains, Oklahoma, and the Northeast, as well as the Tar Sands development teams in Alberta, Canada. Their Minnesota refinery alone can process 320,000 barrels of crude oil per day, most of which now comes from Alberta, Canada. Their Flint Hillls Resources group operates refineries in six States, and has 13 asphalt terminals in North America. Flint Hills also has major refining and production facilities that produce gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, ethanol, polymers, asphalt, and intermediate chemicals.

Koch Industries has spent more than $50 million to lobby in Washington between 2006 and October 2011, according to the Center for Responsible Politics. In 2000, a federal grand jury returned a 97-count indictment against Koch Industries and its individual employees for environmental crimes relating to excess emissios of 85 metric tons of benzene, a know carcinogen. In 2001, Koch Industries was fined $20 million, of which $10M was a criminal fine, and $10M to clean up the environment from the release.

Also in 2000, for its 300 reported oil spills which had taken place across six states, Koch paid the largest civil fine ever imposed on a company under any Federal enviromental law for the illegal dischage of crude oil and petroleum products into the environment. The preceding year, a Texas jury found that company negligence had led to the rupture of  a pipeline near Lively, Texas which killed two, and awarded the victims families $296M, the largest compensatory damages judgement in a wrongful death case against a corporation in U.S. history.

While the Koch brothers are very active in opposing regulations of greenhouse gases, climate change, and financial reforms, they have come under increased scrutiny for their political activism. As former candidates of the Libertarian Party, both David, but most especially Charles, have exerted an undue influence on Government policy, as typified by their support for former Speaker Gingrich, and Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin, and the estimated $1Bn they, and the PACs they control, spent in the last General Election, almost exclusively to support Republican candidates.

But it would be unwise to single out the Koch brothers as the only negative influence in civil society in America. One must also consider the damage done by other entities, such as Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, who in the period November 1976 thru February 2014 oversaw the extraction of several hundred billion dollars from the commons to himself, Microsoft Corp, and affiliates, in the process killing off numerous other companies in the march toward hegemony over the software computer industry. Gates used the principles of FUD, {fear, uncertainty, and doubt},  EULA’s, bundling, restrict/envelope/extend, OEM licensing, capture of programming tools and APIs to prevent competition, and hinder innovation.
Continue reading Economic Disequilibrium

The Legal Disorder: Part II

gavelLaw as a Business

(by R.W. Pressl – Feb. 17th, 2015)

As anyone with a modicum of observational skill can attest, our municipal, county, and State Governments depend on laws for their existence; but also for their economic value, social standing, funding, and administrative tasking. While traveling throughout the South I have encountered numerous towns where the premier building in the community is the Courthouse, which in most cases is more resplendent than any other. Many States in the “Old South” such as Georgia are well known for this propensity, as in Henry County, and Long County, for their immaculate Courthouses, built and supported primarily by traffic fines, by a legal mechanism which has been described quite accurately as “speed traps”. Long County, whose main site in this regard, Ludowici, a town of 1,400 citizens,  was according to a 1970 TIME article, “one of the last remaining speed traps in the country.” But this was only after their Courthouse was rebuilt, and furnished. The Municipal Courthouse in McDonough, a town in Henry County with 23,000 residents, off Interstate I-75 is even more well-endowed; but it is dwarfed by the State Court Building nearby.

A disinterested party might ask how and why these edifices grew to the magnitude they have. The simple answer is that Law in America has become primarily a business, with any other conception being ancillary, unintended, or even an unwelcome side effect. The most typical avenue a citizen interacts with the Law in America is via Traffic Court, which generates more revenue for the Criminal Justice System than any other segment. Typical fines are approx $400, and a considerable number of cases are defended by paid lawyers who charge approx $800-1,000 for their services. The infractions include a multitude of what a normal driver, and some States, would consider to be minor transgressions not worthy of prosecution in court. However with the attendant risk of fines, suspension of driving privileges, and incarceration the CJS can extract “filthy lucre” at will from citizens without challenge.

Differential prosecution and subjugation

The

The Traffic Court Hustle

The

(to be continued…)

Should the Ten Commandments be posted in public places?

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I’m confused – even if it were not specifically disallowed by the First Amendment to any element of the State or Federal Government, what is the basis for suggesting this would make any difference whatsoever?

In addition, the Code of Hammurabi, also inscribed on a stele or stone tablet has a much fuller set of laws and served as the basis for the Ten Commandments of both Christianity and Islam…and was created at least four hundred years before Exodus, and 1800 years before the Islamic version.

Thus if we mount the later Christian issue, we should also mount the earlier stele of Hammurabi. And lets keep it somewhat authentic: inscribed in Hebrew for the Christian “TC” version, and Akkadian for the original Hittite “Stele” version.

* * * * A slightly different take on the issue is provided by George Carlin***

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The Legal Disorder

gavel

On Civil Society & Law

(by R.W. Pressl – Feb 15th, 2015) -amended

One of the most oft stated principles of America’s heritage is that of being “a Nation of Laws not Men”;  but the reality is we are a Nation which has allowed the legal, political, and social communities to create laws that do not serve the best interests of its citizens, nor the wider World community.

As a country, America has twice the number of lawyers per capita as the U.K, three times as many as Germany, seven times as many as France, ten times as many as Canada, and seventeen times as many as Japan. The only country in the World, as of 2009, with a greater proportion of lawyers to citizens is Israel, while our closest cohort nation, Canada, has a lawyer per capita rate of 26 per 100k citizens, while the USA has 391.

But the bad news doesn’t stop there, according to an article in the National Post by F.H. Buckley, a professor of law at George Mason School of Law in Arlington, Virginia:

Notwithstanding puffery about the United States being “the greatest country on earth,” Canadians actually rank higher than Americans on most objective measures of the goods of this world, including longevity, wealth and income mobility. Canadians also have fewer of the bad things: government deficits, income inequality and murders. In addition, Canadians have more political freedom than Americans, according to think tanks that measure such things. As for personal freedom, there’s the fact that, with 5% of the world’s population, America has nearly 25% of its prisoners, four times more per capita than Canada.

Thus it is clear that countries with a greater number of lawyers per capita does not automatically mean greater justice can be found there. In fact, America has both more litigators, more litigation, and heavier regulations on personal, professional, business, and State’s affairs than almost all others.

Another element mentioned in Buckley’s article is the comment: ” Subsidize something and you get more of it; penalize it and get less of it”. which points directly at one of the key concerns of this article: namely, the inordinate reliance on lawyers to address issues of justice, fairness, civility, and social order among all segments of society.
Continue reading The Legal Disorder

Marketing: From Sales To Sociology

via The Ad Contrarian by Bob Hoffman – Feb. 5th, 2015

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Now that the U.S. educational system is unable to educate our children, they have redefined their mission. They are no longer in the business of teaching readin’, writin’, and ‘rithmetic. Instead, they are in the business of instilling values, and fostering expression. In other words, their mission has evolved from education to sociology. The marketing world is headed in the same direction. This is why reading essays about marketing in business journals or attending marketing conferences is such an exasperating experience.The marketing chatterers no longer seem terribly concerned about the selling of goods and services. Instead, they are obsessed with relationships. We are flooded with nattering about conversations and engagement, co-creation and “dialogues.” It is the rare marketing article or talk that even mentions the words “product” or “selling” anymore.

The reason for this transformation is that it helps us avoid the one thing we hate most — accountability. It is far more dangerous to measure sales than to measure the effect of “conversations.” We can hide behind “likes” and “followers” as indications of achievement even though it is pretty clear that the relationship between these “metrics” and customer acquisition is substantially nonexistent.

According to Mark Ritson, Assoc. Professor of Marketing at Melbourne Business School, the prevalence of articles about social media is 10 times out of proportion to its actual business importance.

I am pretty certain that an understanding of sociology is useful in marketing. But I am equally certain that its prevalence in business media is, likewise, about 10 times out of proportion to its value.

GMO: The results are in

gmo