March 14, 2012
By Ramesh Ponnuru
Last week’s release of the February employment report set off the predictable partisan squabbling, with Democrats emphasizing the positive (227,000 new jobs) and Republicans the negative (the still-shrunken labor force and still-high unemployment rate).
Democrats say the economic recovery shows that the stimulus bill that President Barack Obama signed in 2009 worked. Republicans deny it. Although we can’t know how the economy would be faring if Congress hadn’t passed a stimulus, we have good reason to doubt that it did much good.
Media fact-check organizations have no such doubts. Factcheck.org says it’s “just false” to deny that the stimulus has created jobs. It cites the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate that the stimulus had saved or created millions of jobs. But the CBO, as its director has explained, hasn’t really checked the effect of the stimulus. It has merely reported what the results of additional federal spending and tax credits would be if you assume that spending and tax credits are stimulative.
In other words: If you assume that stimulus works, it must have worked. This circularity doesn’t bother PolitiFact, a group that seeks to elevate the tone of our political debates but usually lowers it. Relying on the CBO and other groups that use similar methods, it says people who deny the effectiveness of the stimulus have their “pants on fire.”
March 14, 2012
By Mark Motive
Gold is once again above $1,700 and eyeing its all-time high. Yet, the same two camps are saying the same things they have since the yellow metal was at $600: either this is a bubble, or it’s headed much higher. While the gold bulls have clearly been right for over ten years, that doesn’t mean they will always be right. There are many ways to determine whether gold will continue its historic climb. In the past, I have looked at gold fundamentals – such as monetary inflation, increasing government deficits, and an unsustainable debt – all which indicate a bullish future. Today, I am examining a technical bellwether which has been used for decades to analyze the relative performance of stocks vs. gold.
The S&P 500-to-gold ratio measures the value of the stock market relative to gold. When the ratio is high, stocks are considered expensive relative to gold, and vice versa. This is used as an “adjustment factor” that isolates stock market performance from the effects of monetary expansion. In other words, if the S&P 500 were rising in nominal terms but the ratio to gold were falling, investors holding the S&P 500 would be losing wealth in real terms.
As you can see in the chart below, between 1980 and 2000, the S&P 500-to-gold ratio rose from 0.17 (stocks cheap) to 5.46 (stocks expensive). This rise in stocks vs. gold was led by an American business renaissance and real wealth creation, fueled by deregulation, technological progress, and globalization. Unfortunately, the US government chose to squander this progress with massive printing, borrowing, and bailouts.
March 14, 2012
Silver Bear Cafe
By Bonnie Faulkner
On banks’ traditional role as middleman: Some banks do very useful things for the world. According to economic theory, banks act as a middleman. Banks take savings, accumulate money, make loans to companies to invest productively… Middlemen serve a very useful purpose, but should not be very big and should not make a lot of money… based on the efficiency principal.
On what has happened to our elite financial institutions: In the world we live in, finance has become the dog instead of the tail. In the USA, 30% to 40% of all profits in business come from the financial sector. They have become a parasite… They weaken the economy. Overall, finance has lost its way – in an immensely destructive way. Why is it that our most elite institutions are our worst institutions? Why are our most elite institutions the ones that time after time violate the law and cause recurrent intensifying crises?
Why the crisis has not abated in Europe: Europe does not have its own currency. It makes the crisis far worse for them. In Europe it has become a core vs. periphery issue. The core is becoming increasingly furious with the periphery. But the core largely caused the crisis. The victims are being blamed.
On the natural tendency of unregulated capitalism to evolve into crony capitalism: Pure capitalist systems do not exist anywhere – for very good reason; they throw lots of humanity into the ditch, and they produce elite criminals. Unregulated capitalism tends to evolve into crony capitalism. Conservative economists like Adam Smith have recognized this from the beginning. They always emphasize that government must be there. And they always emphasize one key role for government: Enforcing the law against fraud. Even Ayn Rand emphasized that the government is essential to stop businesses from using fraud.
How economics has lost its way: Over the past 30 years in the US and Europe, we have witnessed a new breed of economist – the theoclassical economist – as in economists who maintain views akin to religious dogma. Theoclassical economists believe that government must be removed from everything. The leading theoclassical scholars in economic law have now taught a generation of lawyers that a rule against fraud is not necessary or important. Their position is that markets automatically make fraud disappear. Unfortunately, that is a view that has no basis in reality or in any sound economic theory. It is contradicted by all human experience.
March 14, 2012
By Paul Joseph Watson
“It looks like the US is going to invade yet another country over a thirty minute propaganda film.” –KTRN
Two House lawmakers have introduced a resolution that seeks to deepen US Military involvement in Africa on the back of the Kony 2012 hoax, despite the fact that Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army have been virtually inactive for six years.
“The resolution, introduced by Reps. Jim McGovern, D-Mass. and Ed Royce, R-Calif., calls for, among other things, expanding the number of regional forces in Africa to protect civilians and placing restrictions on individuals or governments found to be supporting Kony,” reports CBS News.
As we have seen from US involvement in Libya and its attempts to destabilize Syria, the “humanitarian” justification is merely an excuse for expanding US hegemony into Africa where China has aggressively staked its claim.
As we highlighted on Monday, the establishment-manufactured hype surrounding Kony 2012 is nothing more than a cynical ruse designed to manipulate naive do-gooders into legitimizing another US-backed “humanitarian” assault aimed at swallowing up Africa’s resources and land under Africom.
While Joseph Kony and his army disappeared six years ago, Ugandans are being killed and evicted in their thousands by western entities right now – but nobody is making ‘viral’ films about the crisis and no celebrities are tweeting their displeasure.
Invisible Children, the group behind Kony 2012 has created a groundswell of support for Uganda’s dictator Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, a man who has been in control of the country for 30 years and was returned to power in an election last year that was rife with fraud according to European Union observers.
Museveni has been implicated in genocide after ordering his guards to shoot and kill civilians. He is also notorious for bumping off his political enemies.
March 14, 2012
End The Lie
By Madison Ruppert
“We’ve seen this type of thing before. It’s very similar to a former pharmaceutical big wig joining the FDA.” –KTRN
Regina Dugan, the director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), will be leaving the Pentagon’s mad scientist research agency for the corporate Big Brother known as Google.
Dugan has only been at DARPA for less than three years and was “offered and accepted [a] senior executive position” with Google, according to Eric Mazzacone, a spokesperson with DARPA.
Mazzacone added that Dugan felt she could not refuse such an offer with an “innovative company” like Google, which also has a close relationship with the American intelligence community.
Dugan has been a relatively popular director because of her emphasis on cybersecurity matters and next-generation manufacturing, which has garnered significant support from the Obama administration, which allowed DARPA to dodge the bullet of budget cuts that have hit the Pentagon as of late, according to Danger Room.
Dugan also is lauded by Danger Room for her push into “crowdsourcing” and her increasing outreach to the hacker community, which has resulted in some quite astounding technology like the miniature, inexpensive, and easily concealed spy computer known as the F-BOMB.
During Dugan’s tenure she also has diverted some of the quite substantial research funds devoted to long-term projects (some of which are a long way off from being used in the field) to more short-term operational projects.
“There is a time and a place for daydreaming. But it is not at Darpa,” she told a congressional panel in March of 2011. “Darpa is not the place of dreamlike musings or fantasies, not a place for self-indulging in wishes and hopes. Darpa is a place of doing.”
March 14, 2012
By Eric Blair
“Perhaps it’s time the US stop policing the world. In case they haven’t noticed, things are pretty messed up at home.” –KTRN
In the string of military conflicts that the United States and NATO have been involved in since the second world war they have always attempted to maintain the high road by claiming that they were responding to some kind of threat, and apparently helping the people that they were bombing.
This approach is largely accepted by the general public who is either too afraid or unable to suspect malicious intentions on the part of their masters. In helping themselves to rationalize the nonsensical things that are happening in their name many people are firm believers in the idea that their government is doing good “policing the world”.
We hear this phrase all of the time, even among people who generally disagree with wars and government policy. People say that “NATO has no right to police the world as they do!”, and those people would be right. However, that statement is overlooking one fundamental premise, that being the fact that NATO’s goals and ambitions have nothing to do with “policing the world”. Just as ancient Rome’s government could care less about “bringing civilization to the savages”, today’s Western governments are not interested in “spreading democracy” or “policing the world”.
This is an extremely important point to make because this idea that they are trying to police the world perpetuates the myth of the fair and benevolent state, and downplays the significant damage that they are doing to people’s lives around the world. If we were being honest with ourselves, we would say that they are trying to take over the world’s governments and plunder their natural resources, because that’s what we can see happening around us. War is, and always has been, about conquest for plunder and power. And the many wars that we see taking place around the world today are no different.
Sure, nowadays, the cover story may be that they are “policing the world”, but there is now a mountain of evidence showing that the primary goal of these military actions are to secure natural resources, hijack the local political and financial systems, and establish more military bases to assist in future conquests.
Time after time Western imperial powers vilify foreign dictators who, in many cases, have been directly funded and supported by those same imperial powers in the past. For at least the past century the UK, US and their allies have been shipping billions of dollars worth of weapons to foreign dictators under the guise of “foreign aid”. As a side note, “foreign aid” is another one of those terms that imply a fair and benevolent state, when the reality is far more destructive than the choice of words would lead one to believe.
March 14, 2012
By Madison Ruppert
“Here is yet another article that demonstrates that the police are out of control. If they aren’t doing anything wrong, why are they afraid to be filmed?” –KTRN
Over a month ago, Steve Horrigan, a Florida resident, was arrested on charges of felony wiretapping for the high crime of recording video of police in public with his cell phone.
The Sarasota County, Florida State Attorney’s Office has yet to even formally file charges against Horrigan, and the North Port Police Department has not yet returned his cell phone.
Unfortunately, Horrigan’s case is not some isolated anomaly, but instead part of a much larger war on citizens who attempt to hold police accountable for their activities and do so in a wholly legal manner.
The state of Horrigan’s case has him in legal limbo wherein he cannot move forward with his lawsuit, and the state attorney has even more time before they have to file charges.
On top of the felony wiretapping, Horrigan is facing a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest without violence, something which Carlos Miller characterizes as “the usual tack-on charge in Florida when you’ve pissed off the cops.”
Under state law in Florida, an individual who was arrested for a misdemeanor must be tried within 90 days of the arrest, while a felony arrest gives a period of 175 days.
Horrigan was arrested on January 25 of this year, so the state attorney has more time to make him squirm before they have to bring him to trial.
Thankfully, Horrigan’s case is getting some attention, at least amongst the local media like the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
Recently they ran an in-depth piece not only about Horrigan’s case, but the nationwide struggle between citizens who want to hold police accountable and those individuals who refuse to allow citizens to exercise this right.
Unfortunately, the author of the piece failed to point out the fact that there is absolutely no legal basis upon which an officer can arrest an individual for filming them in public carrying out their public duties where they have no reasonable expectation of privacy.
March 14, 2012
By David Martin
“This is pretty much common sense. Change your unhealthy lifestyle and get healthy. Duh!” –KTRN
Late-life dementia has a lot in common with heart disease – and many of the same causes, according to an article published Tuesday in Nature Reviews Neurology.
Like heart disease, the cognitive impairment that accompanies aging is usually the result of a combination of lifestyle and other factors, the article says. Diabetes, obesity, untreated hypertension, sedentary lifestyle and stress are all linked to both heart disease and dementia.
Other factors linked to dementia: untreated obstructive sleep apnea, clinical depression, bipolar disorder, vitamin B12 deficiency, post traumatic stress disorder, head trauma, brain injury caused by a lack of oxygen, and the ApoE, or Alzheimer’s, gene.
Lead author Dr. Majd Fotuhi says the latest research shows dementia can be delayed, stopped and sometimes even reversed with lifestyle changes.
Fotuhi, an assistant professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, says this is empowering news for anyone worried about dementia or confronting mental decline.
“All of a sudden you can be in charge,” says Fotuhi, who is also chairman of the Neurology Institute for Brain Research and Fitness. He estimates only a fifth of late-life dementia is Alzheimer’s.
Fotuhi and his colleagues reviewed factors that alter the size of the hippocampus. The hippocampus, a pair of almost thumb-sized structures on either side of the brain, is critical for the formation of new memories.
March 14, 2012
By Anthony Gucciardi
“People are waking up to the food industry thanks to people like KT and films like Food Inc. As more and more people refuse to buy corporate food products, the quicker the industry will have to change.” –KTRN
The foundation of the international food industry, monopolized by large corporations that hold zero regard for your health, is cracking. As more and more individuals begin to realize that they are eating their way to disease through the consumption of these products, they become outraged at the companies peddling their latest toxic food product. The result? Companies are now being forced to either answer to the consumer demands (removing the toxic substances from the food supply and adapting legitimate environmental manufacturing practices) , or lose their customers.
Increasingly, we see this happening on a larger scale. Major companies like Campbell’s have begun abandoning bisphenol A (BPA), the cancer-linked chemical found in can linings and plastic containers. The change comes after even the FDA was forced to re-evaluate the safety of BPA, potentially issuing a ban by the end of this month. Linked to cancer, diabetes, and much more, consumers have become fully aware of the dangers that BPA presents — and they aren’t handing over their hard-earned dollars to companies that refuse to remove BPA from their products.
March 14, 2012
By Jason Leopold
“Someone should give Bradley Manning a medal of courage. Instead, he gets tortured by the United States.” –KTRN
The United States government subjected Bradley Manning to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment following his arrest in May 2010 in Iraq on suspicion of leaking hundreds of thousands of secret State Department cables and other documents to WikiLeaks, the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Torture concluded in a long-awaited report.
In an addendum to a report presented to the UN General Assembly on the protection of human rights, Juan Méndez wrote that “imposing seriously punitive conditions of detention on someone who has not been found guilty of any crime is a violation of his right to a physical and psychological integrity as well as his presumption of innocence.”
Méndez told The Guardian UK Monday, “If the effects in regards to pain and suffering inflicted on Manning were more severe, they could constitute torture.”
Spokespeople for the State Department and Department of Defense did not return calls seeking comment. Last year, PJ Crowley was forced to resign from his position as a State Department spokesman for publicly condemning Manning’s treatment, which he characterized as “ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid.”
Méndez said during a Firedoglake book salon I hosted last year he became concerned about Manning when he started to hear reports about that the Army intelligence officer was being held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day for nearly a year at the brig at Marine Corps Base Quantico and forced to strip naked.
Méndez, who spent 14 months investigating Manning’s treatment, accused US government officials of using harsh tactics, such as solitary confinement, to punish Manning “in an effort to coerce him into ‘co-operation’ with the authorities for, allegedly for the purpose of persuading [Manning] to implicate others.”
Méndez stressed in his report that “solitary confinement is a harsh measure which may cause serious psychological and physiological adverse effects on individuals regardless of their specific conditions.”
“To the Special Rapporteur’s request for information on the authority to impose and the purpose of the isolation regime, the [US] government responded that the prison rules authorized the brig commander to impose it on account of the seriousness of the offense for which [Manning] would eventually be charged,” Méndez’s report says.