Tuesday, December 31, 2013

To die for a nuke

The prospect of terror organisations getting their hands on a nuclear device has long concerned both security agencies and thriller writers. Now, it seems Indian Mujahideen India chief Ahmad Zarar Siddibappa alias Yasin Bhatkal too was thinking along similar lines. Bhatkal recently told interrogators that he was planning to set off a nuclear bomb in Surat, according to sources.

Bhatkal was arrested on August 27 in Pokhra, Nepal and has been constantly questioned by the NIA, Intelligence Bureau and police of several states. TOI has accessed the interrogation report.

Bhatkal told the interrogators that he had asked his Pakistan-based boss, Riyaz Bhatkal, over phone whether the latter could arrange a small "nuclear bomb". According to him, Riyaz responded, "Anything can be arranged in Pakistan".

"Riyaz told me that attacks can be done with nuclear bombs. I requested him to look for one nuclear bomb for Surat," Yasin told the officials.

"Riyaz told me Muslims would also die in that (nuclear bomb blast), to which I said that we would paste posters in mosques asking every Muslim to quietly evacuate their families from the city," Yasin said, according to the report.

More here

Britain's doctors emigrating

The pressures of working in overcrowded A&E units have led hundreds of doctors to quit the NHS for Australia, according to research that underlines how a medical brain-drain is exacerbating the struggle to retain emergency department staff.

The number of young doctors trained in the UK or Ireland but now working in Australian A&E departments has soared by 69% from 285 in 2008 to 481 last year, the study shows.

Dr Cliff Mann, president of the College of Emergency Medicine, which represents A&E doctors, said the growing exodus of registrars represented "a colossal loss of talent by A&E units which cannot afford to lose them" at a time when demand from patients has reached unprecedented levels.

He said the trend was "an unacceptable waste of taxpayers' money, because each of these UK-trained registrars has cost about £610,000 over the five years of their medical degree and subsequent five years as a junior NHS doctor".

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Nancy Pelosi, fail

A little humor from 2010 that illustrates how Liberals think....

Unemployment benefits are creating jobs faster than practically any other program, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday.

Talking to reporters, the House speaker was defending a jobless benefits extension against those who say it gives recipients little incentive to work. By her reasoning, those checks are helping give somebody a job.

"It injects demand into the economy," Pelosi said, arguing that when families have money to spend it keeps the economy churning. "It creates jobs faster than almost any other initiative you can name."

Pelosi said the aid has the "double benefit" of helping those who lost their jobs and acting as a "job creator" on the side.

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Another big lie exposed

Passive smoking doesn't give you lung cancer. So says a new report publicised by the American Cancer Institute which will come as no surprise whatsoever to anyone with a shred of integrity who has looked into the origins of the great "environmental tobacco smoke" meme.

It was, after all, a decade ago that the British Medical Journal, published the results of a massive, long-term survey into the effects of second-hand tobacco smoke. Between 1959 and 1989 two American researchers named James Enstrom and Geoffrey Kabat surveyed no few than 118,094 Californians. Fierce anti-smoking campaigners themselves, they began the research because they wanted to prove once and for all what a pernicious, socially damaging habit smoking was. Their research was initiated by the American Cancer Society and supported by the anti-smoking Tobacco Related Disease Research Program.

At least it was at first. But then something rather embarrassing happened. Much to their surprise, Kabat and Enstrom discovered that exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ie passive smoking), no matter how intense or prolonged, creates no significantly increased risk of heart disease or lung cancer.

More here

Monday, December 30, 2013

Junk science, taxpayers paid for it

An Iowa State University professor was forced to resign from his post this week after he fudged a clinical trial to make rabbit blood appear to neutralize HIV, with millions in federal research dollars at stake.

The subterfuge by assistant professor of biomedical sciences Dr. Dong-Pyou Han came to light after a joint investigation by the university and the Department of Health and Human Services. That investigation came about because Han's researchbankrolled with part of $19 million in grants from the National Institutes of Healthshowed some promise in ending the global AIDS epidemic, according to the Ames Tribune:
Dr. James Bradac, who oversees AIDS research for the National Institutes of Health, said Han's initial findings, developed with support from the first two grants, were a "unique discovery."
"The serum from the rabbits made neutralizing antibodies that could neutralize HIV," Bradac said.

He said the NIH sent the serum to another lab which confirmed the findings...
"It was during their quality control that they did some tests and determined the rabbit serum contained human antibodies," Bradac said.

That healthy human blood had falsely made the rabbit blood appear to be effective in fighting AIDS. "This doesn't happen very often," Bradac told the Trib. "I've been with the NIH for 24 years and it's the first case I've seen in the AIDS research field."

More here

So how's the end of Apartheid working out?

In all, South Africa has now been racially desegregated for almost 28 years.

Documented in the same book are these immutable facts: "Twelve years into the Nationalist government’s rule, the rate of literacy among the Bantu of South Africa was already higher than that of any other state in Africa, or that of India. From the 8.6 million recorded in the 1946 census, the black population rose to 17.4 million in 1974 and 28.3 million by 1991. [In-migration from the north was just about non-existent.] From the 1940s to the 1990s, life expectancy for blacks soared from thirty-eight to sixty-one years!" (P. 178.)

"Since the dawn of democracy in 1994, life expectancy has plummeted by nine years. Crime has reached crippling levels … and is certainly much higher than in the Old South Africa. … unemployment had jumped from 19 percent in 1994 (before ‘freedom’) to 31 percent in 2003 (after ‘freedom’), steadily rising until, in 2005, it stood at 38.8 percent. The trend is consistent and persistent." (P. 178)

These stubborn facts collapse the politically pleasing but reductive theory, promulgated by libertarian know-nothings, that holds Apartheid to be the sole cause of black South Africa’s dysfunction, economic and other.

As the pesky facts attest, black dysfunction in racially desegregated South Africa is way worse than it was during state-enforced segregation. In fact, it now resembles that of the rest of Africa.

Apartheid was reprehensible. But dogma denuded of data does nothing to bolster this uncontested, incontrovertible position.

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Setback for climate science

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) set climate research back thirty years, mostly by focusing world attention on CO2 and higher temperature. It was a classic misdirection that required planning. The IPCC was created for this purpose and pursued it relentlessly. Through the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) they controlled national weather offices so global climate policies and research funding were similarly directed.

IPCC’s definition of climate change narrowed the focus to human causes, but they exacerbated it by ignoring, downgrading or misusing variables. Most important and critical was water in all its forms and functions. The obsession restricted focus to higher temperatures and increased CO2, which directed funding of impact analyses, whether economic or environmental to cost only, instead of cost/benefit. Climate studies only considered temperature, usually and incorrectly attributing changes caused by precipitation to temperature. This practice was most evident in paleoclimate reconstructions, either done by IPCC participants or chosen for inclusion in the IPCC Reports.

It is almost a maxim that if the people at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU), who effectively controlled IPCC science, were looking at a topic it was because it posed a threat to their predetermined hypothesis.

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Global cooling is coming

Two German scientists, Horst-Joachin Luedecke and Carl-Otto Weiss of the European Institute for Climate and Energy, say that "two naturally occurring climate cycles will combine to lower global temperatures during the next century."

They added, "by the year 2100, temperatures on this planet will plunge to levels seen at the end of the 'Little Ice Age' in 1870."

These researchers used historical data detailing temperatures as well as cave stalagmites to show a recurring 200-year solar cycle called the DeVries Cycle.

They likewise featured into their studies a well-established 65-year Atlantic and Pacific Ocean oscillation cycle of warming that has occurred since 1870 and will soon shift to a much cooler cycle of sea-surface temperatures, in other words, more chilly 'La Ninas' and less warm 'El Ninos.'

Solar activity is one area of evidence that scientists have used for decades in predicting both global warming and global cooling. Low sunspot activity has been linked to the 'Little Ice Age' between 1350 and 1870. The recent warmer periods have been associated with much higher than normal solar activity.

But, despite the current sunspot 'maxima' phase, which has been weaker than normal, we've seen a series of very harsh winter seasons in both hemispheres in the past several years, especially in Europe and Asia.

More here

Darwin awards

Yes, it’s that magical time of year again when the Darwin Awards are bestowed, honoring the least evolved among us.

Here Is The Glorious Winner:

1. When his .38 caliber revolver failed to fire at his intended victim during a hold-up in Long Beach, California would-be robber James Elliot did something that can only inspire wonder. He peered down the barrel and tried the trigger again. This time it worked.

And Now, The Honorable Mentions:

2. The chef at a hotel in Switzerland lost a finger in a meat cutting machine and after a little shopping around, submitted a claim to his insurance company. The company expecting negligence sent out one of its men to have a look for himself. He tried the machine and he also lost a finger. The chef’s claim was approved.

3. A man who shoveled snow for an hour to clear a space for his car during a blizzard in Chicago returned with his vehicle to find a woman had taken the space. Understandably, he shot her.

More here

Monday, December 23, 2013

Out of Africa?

Scientific evidence refuting the theory of modern humanity’s African genesis is common knowledge among those familiar with the most recent scientific papers on the human Genome, Mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosomes. Regrettably, within mainstream press and academia circles, there seems to be a conspicuous and dare we say it deliberate vacuum when it comes to reporting news of these recent studies and their obvious implications.

This article was inspired by a comment made recently by Australian historian Greg Jefferys. So before continuing a scientific assessment of DNA evidence, I will first open this discussion by outlining Greg Jefferys’ comments.
The whole ‘Out of Africa’ myth has its roots in the mainstream academic campaign in the 1990s to remove the concept of Race. When I did my degree they all spent a lot of time on the ‘Out of Africa’ thing but it’s been completely disproved by genetics. Mainstream still hold on to it. It did begin the early 90’s. And the academics most responsible for cementing both the Out-of Africa theory and the complementary common ancestral African mother given the name of "Eve" in the public arena and nearly every curriculum, were Professors Alan C. Wilson and Rebecca L. Cann. In their defense, the authors of this paper were fully aware that genealogy is not in any way linked to geography, and that their placement of Eve in Africa was an assumption, never an assertion. In their seminal paper The Recent African Genesis of Humans, they even stipulated "that all humans today can be traced along maternal lines of descent to a woman who lived about 200,000 years ago, probably in Africa."

So how is it that their "probably" has morphed into our collective "definitely"?

More here

Sen.Landrieu is indispensable, according to her

Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu rolled out her pitch for a fourth term in an interview with the Times-Picayune in April. "I'm indispensable," she told the New Orleans newspaper, noting that her pull in the Senate would "secure for Louisiana a significant and reliable string of revenue."

As usual, Ms. Landrieu was talking about her efforts on behalf of Louisiana's oil and gas sector, the bedrock of the state's economy. She claims to be her party's fiercest advocate for that industry, and she talks extensively about her support for the Keystone XL pipeline, her opposition to industry taxes and her desire to rein in EPA regulations.

In the Times-Picayune interview, Ms. Landrieu emphasized her intentions to expand oil and gas production and speed up royalty payments to her state, hinting at greater influence in 2015 as potential chairwoman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Behind the scenes, however, Ms. Landrieu has been working just as hard to make sure she's irrelevant. Through the auspices of JAZZ PAC, her leadership political action committee, she has from 2006 to 2012 contributed some $380,000 to re-elect some of the most ardent Senate opponents of the oil and gas industry. One result is a bloc of liberal members who easily cancel out Ms. Landrieu's votes and guarantee the defeat of legislation designed to help Louisiana.

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Climategate criminals

Many of us believe the fraud and crimes revealed by the Climategate and Climategate Il should have sunk the man-made global warming scam, but biased media and corrupt figures in universities and government worked to ignore and hide the truth. The Fakegate scandal of 2012 further demonstrated the depths of corruption within the ranks of the global warming movement and the lengths it would go to protect its own from prosecution.

Now we learn that John Beale, one of the highest ranking figures in the Environmental Protection Agency, was also a criminal, recently sentenced to 32 months in federal prison. His own attorney says his client "has come to recognize that, beyond the motive of greed, his theft and deception were animated by a highly self-destructive and dysfunctional need to engage in excessively reckless, risky behavior" and Beale was motivated "to manipulate those around him through the fabrication of grandiose narratives" because of "his insecurities."

You have to search long and hard to find a better description of the individuals at the top of the global warming movement. Again and again we have seen these are men and women lie to the public and to their own friends and colleagues, forge data, conceal evidence, and use the power of their offices to shut down dissent and demonize those who sought to expose their fraud.

More here

Obamacare falling apart?

The wrecking ball swung again toward the crumbling Obamacare edifice yesterday. Ironically, it continues to be the Obama administration that is operating the heavy machinery.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced, in the form of a letter to Democratic senators, that Obamacare’s individual mandate tax will be waived in 2014 for persons who had their policies canceled in 2013 due to Obamacare.

At this point, after months of on-the-fly pronouncements, delays, and exemptions (often announced, not coincidentally, in the days just before a major national holiday), perhaps nothing should surprise us anymore about Obamacare’s disastrous rollout. But yesterday’s announcement is still startling because of what it says about the state of the president’s signature domestic legislation. The law is falling apart before our eyes.

No doubt the administration’s defenders will argue that this is simply a tactical retreat, executed with surgical precision, and intended to protect the law from more serious legislative threats in 2014. Better to give a little by executive action now than to invite an impossible-to-control revolt by Democrats in the Senate later, the thinking goes. And by orchestrating the tactical retreat in conjunction with political allies (the Sebelius letter followed by one day a letter requesting the change from six Senate Democrats), the administration is hoping its party will get credit with voters for "smoothing the transition" to Obamacare.

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Laws, what laws?

A federal judge in Texas late last week accused the Obama administration of aiding drug cartels, saying that instead of enforcing immigration laws, agents knowingly helped smuggle an illegal immigrant girl into the U.S. to live with her mother, also an illegal immigrant, in Virginia.

In a 10-page order, Judge Andrew S. Hanen said the case was the fourth such case he’s seen over the last month, and in each instance Customs and Border Protection agents have helped to locate and deliver the children to their illegal immigrant parents.

The judge said in each case, the taxpayers footed the bill for flights including flights to multiple locations in different parts of the U.S. that it took to find one of the children’s parents.

"The DHS is rewarding criminal conduct instead of enforcing the current laws. More troubling, the DHS is encouraging parents to seriously jeopardize the safety of their children," the judge said, adding that some of the children have been made to swim the Rio Grande River or traverse remote areas as part of the smuggling.

In the case before the judge last week, a 10-year-old girl whose mother, Patricia Elizabeth Salmeron Santos, paid a smuggler to get the daughter from El Salvador across the border and to Virginia.

The agents apprehended the smuggler and the young girl, and prosecuted the smuggler, but delivered the daughter to Ms. Salmeron Santos in Virginia, even though agents were aware she was in the country illegally

More here

Saturday, December 21, 2013

High IQ people reduced to stealing

Six Chinese nationals have been charged with conspiring to steal US trade secrets in an alleged plot to obtain bioengineered corn seed from American seed companies and send it to their own company in China.

The case was revealed in a one-count, 21-page indictment unsealed Thursday in Des Moines, Iowa.

According to documents filed in federal court, the Chinese company officials allegedly drove through rural areas of Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana to dig up freshly planted seeds or collect samples of grown corn to obtain specimens of the valuable engineered seed stock.

The seeds represent years of work by American companies and millions of dollars in research and development. One affected company estimated that the loss of an inbred line of seed would wipe out 5 to 8 years of research and cost the company $30 to $40 million.

More here

Split California into 6 states

Technology investor Tim Draper is trying to drum up support to split California into six states, one of them being Silicon Valley.

His argument for redrawing the California map: The state is underrepresented in Washington. He's looking to get an initiative on the California ballot.

He told TechCrunch: "It is about time California was properly represented with senators in Washington. Now our number of senators per person will be about average."

In October at Y Combinator Startup School, one tech entrepreneur called for Silicon Valley to secede from the United States altogether.

Balaji Srinivasan, co-founder of San Franciscobased genetics company Counsyl, gave a talk to aspiring entrepreneurs about "Silicon Valley's ultimate exit," which outlined his vision of a tech world free of the constraints of government.

"We need to build opt-in society, outside the U.S., run by technology," Srinivasan said.

This techno-utopian vision of a world insulated from big-government intrusion is not new to Silicon Valley, which has some deep libertarian roots.

Google CEO Larry Page, during his Google I/O keynote in May, spoke of his desire to set aside a place in the world where technological experimentation can be conducted unfettered by regulation. ("There are many exciting things you could do that are illegal or not allowed by regulation," Page said.)

More here

Lying is okay for Democrats

On March 16, 2007 while testifying to the Congressional Oversight Committee, Valerie Plame lied under oath. And Chairman Henry Waxman was fully aware of the act of perjury being committed by Plame.

Long before Congressman Waxman heard sworn testimony from Valerie Plame at a House Oversight Committee hearing, Congressman Waxman was briefed by former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds.

In addition to being briefed by Edmonds...

Congressman Waxman was provided Inspector General Glenn Fine's classified report that contained the fact that Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA operative was exposed in 2001 when Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman was secretly recorded warning Turkish nationals to stay away from Brewster Jennings & Associates because it was a CIA front.

And as Chairman Waxman was well aware, Brewster Jennings & Associates was the CIA front that Plame claims gave her covert status.

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Reagan sailors suing TEPCO

Crew members in their mid-20's from the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan are coming down with all sorts of radiation-related illnesses after being deployed less than 3 years ago to assist with earthquake rescue operations off the coast of Japan in 2011. It looks as though the onboard desalinization systems that take salt out of seawater to make it drinkable, were taking-in radioactive water from the ocean for the crew to drink, cook with and bath-in, before anyone realized there was a massive radiation spill into the ocean.

Charles Bonner, attorney representing sailors from the USS Ronald Reagan said "the crew members were not only going to the rescue by jumping into the water and rescuing people out of the water, but they were drinking desalinated sea water, bathing in it, until finally the captain of the USS Ronald Reagan alarmed people that they were encountering high levels of radiation."

Bonner says that as a result of this exposure, the 51 sailors have come down with a host of medical problems, "They have testicular cancer, they have thyroid cancers, they have leukemias, they have rectal and gynecological bleeding, a host of problems that they did not have before ... people are going blind, pilots who had perfect eyesight but now have tumors on the brain. And it’s only been 3 years since they went in." Bonner pointed out that these service men and women are young people, ages 21, 22, 23 years old and no one in their family had ever suffered any of these kinds of illnesses before.

At present, 51 sailors from the USS Ronald Reagan are named as Plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and Bonner says he anticipates adding twenty additional Sailors soon, bringing the total to 70 to 75 because "The Japanese government is in a major conspiracy with TEPCO to hide and conceal the true facts."

More here

Here's your future...

Want a preview of what Obamacare has in store for Americans? Check out the latest news on Britain's National Health Service.

In the words of the Daily Mail newspaper, the NHS is a "shambles." Here's how the Daily Mail described the findings of three recent official investigations:
"One investigation revealed that a quarter of new mothers were abandoned by their midwives during labour, with some left to give birth on the floor or in corridors.

"The second found that mistakes deemed so serious they should never happen are being made in hospitals five times a week.

"And the third survey said thousands of patients have all but given up trying to secure appointments with their family doctor.

"The reports come only a day after the NHS watchdog detailed a catalogue of failings at GP surgeries, including consulting rooms infested with maggots and patients being given dangerous, out-of-date drugs."

The popularity of Britain's NHS has long put it beyond public criticism but that silence is disappearing as government-run health care's failures can no longer be ignored.

"In the past there has been a systematic cover-up and a desire for issues not to blow up on your watch," Tory MP Steve Barclay told the Daily Mail.

More here

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Regulations do not trump the Constitution

In yet another legal blow to the president's signature law, a federal judge rules that its contraceptive mandate does not trump Catholic groups' right to exercise their religious liberty and conscience.

Religious liberty advocates and First Amendment defenders are cheering the stunning decision by U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan in New York that promises to speed up the unraveling of ObamaCare. Cogan not only found that the Health and Human Services (HHS) regulation that requires health insurance to include contraceptive coverage was constitutionally questionable, he actually forbade HHS from enforcing it.

As the New York Post details, in ruling on the lawsuit, Cogan decided that the plaintiffs "demonstrated that the mandate, despite accommodation, compels them to perform acts that are contrary to their religion. And there can be no doubt that the coercive pressure here is substantial."

Most prior lawsuits have focused on the law's constitutionality. Cogan's ruling deals with its regulatory enforcement based on the phrase "the secretary shall determine" that appears in the Affordable Care Act no fewer than 1,005 times. This ruling essentially says that HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius cannot enforce a mandate that Congress did not approve and that she cannot unilaterally decide what the First Amendment means or whether it is rendered irrelevant by her edicts.

In other words, regulations do not trump the Constitution.

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Indoctrination, and not too subtle either

Fifth grade students at Fremont Elementary School in Colorado were assigned a reading passage that describes global warming as a dangerous, man-made phenomenon that will destroy civilization in a few hundred years.

The reading assignment was found inside a workbook aligned with the controversial national Common Core curriculum guidelines, and was titled "Homework from the Future." It tells the fictional story of a visitor to the year 2512 who discovers that the eastern United States is under water and the country’s population greatly reduced, all thanks to man-made global warming:
By the early 21st century, people knew that the massive use of fossil fuels was heating up the planet. But people didn’t stop their destructive lifestyles. They just kept using up Earth’s resources. The ice sheets melted, and Earth’s crust shifted. ..

In 2130. the oceans began to rise over farmland and cities. In 300 years, most of the eastern United States was covered with water.

After reading the text, students were expected to answer several questions, including: "What caused all the problems on Earth?" and "How could the problems have been avoided?"

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The 300 million yen robbery

On the morning of December 10, 1968, four Kokubunji branch employees of the Nihon Shintaku Ginko (bank) transported 294,307,500 yen (about $817,520 US Dollars at 1968 exchange rates) in the trunk of a company car. The metal boxes contained bonuses for the employees of Toshiba's Fuchu factory. They were stopped in the street next to Tokyo Fuchu prison by a young uniformed officer on a police motorcycle. The police officer informed them that their branch manager's house had been blown up, and they had received a warning that dynamite had been planted in the transport car. The four employees exited the vehicle while the officer crawled under the car to locate the bomb. Moments later, the employees noticed smoke and flames under the car as the officer rolled out, shouting that it was about to explode. When the employees retreated to the prison walls, the police officer got into the car and drove away.

The bank employees believed the thief was a police officer, and accepted his story about the bomb because threatening letters had been sent to the bank manager beforehand. The smoke and flames turned out to be the result of a warning flare he had ignited while under the car. At some point, the thief abandoned the bank's car and transferred the metal boxes to another car, stolen beforehand. That car too was abandoned, and the boxes transferred once again to another previously stolen vehicle.

There were 120 pieces of evidence left at the scene of the crime, including the "police" motorcycle, which had been painted white. However, the evidence was primarily common everyday items, scattered on purpose to confuse the police investigation.

A 19-year-old man, the son of a police officer, was suspected just after the robbery. He died of potassium cyanide poisoning on December 15, 1968. He had no alibi but knew nothing about police procedure. However, the money was not found at the time of his death. His death was deemed a suicide and he was considered not guilty, according to official record.

A massive police investigation was launched, posting 780,000 montage pictures throughout Japan. The list of suspects included 110,000 names, and 170,000 policemen participated in the investigation the largest investigation in Japanese history.

On December 12, 1969, a 26-year-old man was suspected by the Mainichi Shimbun. He was arrested on an unrelated charge, but he had an alibi; the robbery occurred on the day he was taking a proctored examination. As the arrest was made based on false pretenses, the arresting police officer, Mitsuo Muto, was accused of abuse of power.

A friend of the 19-year-old suspect was arrested on an unrelated charge on November 15, 1975 just before the statute of limitations. He had a large amount of money and was suspected of the robbery. He was 18 years old when the robbery occurred. The police asked him for an explanation for the large amount of money, but he did not say and they were not able to prove that his money had come from the robbery.

The seven year investigation offered few answers, and in December 1975, the statute of limitations on the crime passed without an arrest. As of 1988, the thief has also been relieved of any civil liabilities, allowing him to tell his story without fear of legal repercussions. He has yet to come forward.


Drug marketing

Almost 14 years ago, the inaugural issue of Policy Review under newly appointed editor Tod Lindberg ran an essay of mine called "Why Ritalin Rules." It observed that American children were taking psychotropic drugs at (then-) record rates; that some doctors and other experts believed methylphenidate (the generic name for Ritalin) was being over-prescribed; that the disorder for which it and related stimulants were given Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder included a uniquely protean symptoms checklist; and that the line between science and advocacy was hard to find in the bustling pediatric zone of the psychotropic universe.

Alongside praise, the piece also drew flak lots of it. Brickbats crossed the political aisle. From left to right, some readers hated it. At the time, that reaction seemed surprising. After all, unlike many pieces penned in those days about children and psychiatric drugs, "Why Ritalin Rules" rounded up some ten years’ worth of medical and other specialized literature. It wasn’t written to inflame, but to try and understand a potent and obvious development. Regardless, the conclusion drawn from all the emotional static was that the moment to have a reasonable conversation hadn’t yet arrived.

That was then. What a difference a decade-plus and millions more prescriptions can make.

Sunday, on the front and center of page one of the New York Times, author Alan Schwarz thoroughly if inadvertently ratifies the argument of "Why Ritalin Rules" in a long and absorbing story called "The Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder: The Number of Diagnoses Soared Amid a 20-Year Drug Marketing Campaign."

More here

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Cuts to military pensions

A final effort by Senate Republicans to halt cuts to pensions of military retirees failed late Tuesday, after Democrats blocked an amendment to the controversial budget bill.

The two-year budget agreement, which cleared a key test vote earlier in the day, was expected to get a final vote no later than Wednesday.

Ahead of the final vote, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., tried unsuccessfully to use a parliamentary tactic to force a vote on the amendment, which he wrote to undo the cuts for military retirees.

A provision in the already House-passed bill would cut retirement benefits for military retirees by $6 billion over 10 years.

More here

Lobbyists support the War on the Tea Party

Lobbyists are reportedly "pumping their fists" over House Speaker John Boehner's declaration of war against the Tea Party last week.

According to The Hill, lobbyists were "pleasantly surprised by" Boehner's "strident remarks" last week in which he said Tea Party groups have lost "all credibility" after they opposed the budget compromise that increased taxes. Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin said Boehner's words were a declaration of war on grassroots conservatives.

The budget deal was brokered by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA). Amnesty supporters, including big-business lobbyists, wanted the deal so it could clear the legislative calendar for comprehensive immigration reform, which the Congressional Budget Office determined would lower the wages of working-class Americans.

The budget deal passed the House on Thursday, and the Senate will take up the measure this week.

"You didn't hear all the applause across downtown?" Dirk Van Dongen, president and CEO of the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors (NAW), told The Hill. "Folks were absolutely pleased that he said it... It needed to be said."

The Chamber of Commerce said it will target conservatives in the 2014 midterm election, especially those who oppose amnesty. Grassroots conservative groups have fired back. Club for Growth has responded by pointing out, "Corporations are some of the biggest seekers of welfare in this country." Heritage Action for America, meanwhile, has commented, "The fact that K Street is applauding confirms that the deal was bad, and Speaker Boehner's comments confirm conservatives' worst suspicions about Washington -- that the game is rigged."

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Armed uprising?

There are few things that scare the citizen control movement more than those individuals that dare remind the citizenry that the primary purpose of the Second Amendment isn’t about hunting or even defending your home from criminals, but defending your community against tyrants, both foreign and domestic… even if that comment is made in passing.

Think Progress’s Ian Millhiser is the latest dainty progressive to take to his fainting couch over someone stating the obvious:
During an interview with a conservative podcast, New Hampshire state Rep. JR Hoell (R) predicted that a day may soon come when conservatives need to rise up in armed resistance to their elected government.
If you listen to the actual audio Hoell doesn’t mention anything at all about "conservatives" rising up in armed resistance to the government at all. Millhiser is being purposefully dishonest.

The audio comes from interview about a coalition of hunting and outdoors groups who were going to be protesting at a GOP fundraiser. One of the men interviewing Hoell asked if protestors would be open carrying slung rifles and shotguns, which has happened at protests in the past.

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NSA spying unconstitutional

In a stunning decision, a DC-based federal judge has ruled that the National Security Agency spying revealed this summer violates the constitution.

The opinion (PDF) published today by US District Judge Richard Leon is in response to a lawsuit filed by Larry Klayman, a longtime conservative activist. Klayman was fast on the draw, filing his lawsuit on June 6, one day after widespread NSA surveillance was revealed in June.

Leon's order grants an injunction that will shut down the NSA's Bulk Telephony Metadata Program, and it requires the government to destroy the metadata collected on the plaintiffs' accounts. The shutdown will only happen if an appeals court agrees with Leon, who has stayed the injunction pending appeal, "in light of the significant national security issues at stake in this case and the novelty of the constitutional issues."

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Fake signing

Jantjie's performance was not meaningless precisely because it delivered no particular meaning (the gestures were meaningless), it directly rendered meaning as such the pretence of meaning. Those of us who hear well and do not understand sign language assumed that his gestures had meaning, although we were not able to understand them. And this brings us to the crux of the matter: are sign language translators for the deaf really meant for those who cannot hear the spoken word? Are they not much more intended for us it makes us (who can hear) feel good to see the interpreter, giving us a satisfaction that we are doing the right thing, taking care of the underprivileged and hindered.

I remember how, in the first "free" elections in Slovenia in 1990, in a TV broadcast by one of the leftist parties, the politician delivering the message was accompanied by a sign language interpreter (a gentle young woman). We all knew that the true addressees of her translation were not the deaf but we, the ordinary voters: the true message was that the party stood for the marginalised and handicapped.

It was like great charity spectacles which are not really about children with cancer or flood victims, but about making us, the public, aware that we are doing something great, displaying solidarity.

Now we can see why Jantjie's gesticulations generated such an uncanny effect once it became clear that they were meaningless: what he confronted us with was the truth about sign language translations for the deaf it doesn't really matter if there are any deaf people among the public who need the translation; the translator is there to make us, who do not understand sign language, feel good.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Chelsea Clinton's in-laws

Chelsea Clinton’s mother-in-law is drawing unwanted attention now that Hillary Clinton is gearing up to run for president.

Marjorie Margolies a former Pennsylvania congresswoman and the mother of Chelsea’s investment-banker husband, Marc Mezvinsky has been running Women’s Campaign International (WCI) since 1998. The charity aims to help women win elections in Third World countries.

Now that Margolies is campaigning to win back her old congressional seat, Philadelaphia blogger Laura Goldman scoured public financial filings and discovered Margolies paid herself an unusually large salary, part of which came from taxpayer dollars.

Some Democrats in the Keystone State are surprised Margolies is running at all, given that her husband, politician Edward Mezvinsky, was indicted in 2001 and later pleaded guilty to 31 of 69 fraud charges. Nearly $10 million was involved in the crimes. The couple divorced in 2007 while he was still in prison. (Both remain unmarried.) "It would be like Ruth Madoff running for office," Goldman said.

More here

War on the Tea Party

The Republican establishment is fed up with the "outside groups" the conservative lobbying shops and super PACs that have pulled the party Rightward in recent years and this time, it’s the establishment that is uninterested in compromise.

House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are playing to win. But here's the problem: Directly fighting the insurgent groups only makes them stronger.

In a span of 48 hours, the party leadership took two direct shots at the conservative insurgents. Boehner attacked the outside groups on camera, singling out Heritage Action. Also, Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., fired Republican Study Committee Executive Director Paul Teller, the universally liked longtime leader of the conservative wing on Capitol Hill. The occasion was a dispute over the budget, but it sure looks like a broad effort to bring the insurgency to heel.

Heritage Action, the Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund all came out against the budget resolution that Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., crafted with Democrats. The agreement neuters the automatic spending cuts known as the sequester, and conservatives argued that the budget's "fee increases" are really tax hikes.

Party leadership regularly knocks the outside groups for fighting too nasty. When Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., rejected the tactic of trying to defund Obamacare by threating a government shutdown, SCF ran an ad saying "Jeff Flake used to be one of us, but now he has become one of them."

More here

Legalized theft

More than eight years after homeowners in the Fort Trumbull neighborhood of New London, Conn., were abandoned by the U.S. Supreme Court in the historic and controversial "Kelo decision" and watched as their modest homes on small residential lots were razed, a plan may finally be in the works to redevelop the area.

Ironically, tiny houses on micro-lots and a parking garage for a nearby office building is the recommendation of Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio.

The widely criticized 5-4 Supreme Court decision in 2005 employed a broad definition of "public use" that includes the government taking the property of citizens to turn over to private developers.

The New London Development Corp. wanted to clear the site to attract large corporate development and expand the city’s tax base. The high court’s decision in Kelo v. City of New London opened the door for Pfizer to expand in New London, but the pharmaceutical giant left town in 2010 along with 1,000 jobs.

The New London newspaper The Day reported Fort Trumbull has seen no new construction since bulldozers flattened the neighborhood and said the mayor’s new vision lacks "any clear path to achieve it."

More here

Snow will become very rare and exciting

Recall global warming hysteria’s halcyon days? Just 13 years ago, Dr. David Viner, senior scientist at Britain’s University of East Anglia’s climatic research unit, confidently predicted that, within a few years, winter snowfall will become "a very rare and exciting event."

"Children just aren’t going to know what snow is," he said.

Of course, that doesn’t mesh with what happened. This past October, the UK Express headlined, "Worst winter for decades: Record-breaking snow predicted for November."

By the end of November, Brits were shivering, "as Britain faces snow, ice and plummeting temperatures," reported the Mirror newspaper. "Most of Scotland has been issued severe weather warnings for ice, and temperatures are expected to remain low, causing problems with snow and ice across the country." Winter yet lay ahead.

We shouldn’t pick on Great Britain. There is plenty of global warming foolishness here at home. Recall James Hansen, global warming guru whose alarmist campaign was underwritten by his NASA paycheck. By the 2020s, Hansen predicted in 1986, the U.S. average annual temperature would rise 9 degrees Fahrenheit, or more, and up to 3 degrees by the 2010s.

A funny thing happened on the way to the 2010s and 2020s. It didn’t get so hot. In fact, depending on which data set you use, it probably has cooled down for 17 years.

More here

Monday, December 16, 2013

Al Qaeda acted alone on 9/11?

After the 9/11 attacks, the public was told al Qaeda acted alone, with no state sponsors.

But the White House never let it see an entire section of Congress’ investigative report on 9/11 dealing with "specific sources of foreign support" for the 19 hijackers, 15 of whom were Saudi nationals.

It was kept secret and remains so today.

President Bush inexplicably censored 28 full pages of the 800-page report. Text isn’t just blacked-out here and there in this critical-yet-missing middle section. The pages are completely blank, except for dotted lines where an estimated 7,200 words once stood (this story by comparison is about 1,000 words).

A pair of lawmakers who recently read the redacted portion say they are "absolutely shocked" at the level of foreign state involvement in the attacks.

Reps. Walter Jones (R-NC) and Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) can’t reveal the nation identified by it without violating federal law. So they’ve proposed Congress pass a resolution asking President Obama to declassify the entire 2002 report, "Joint Inquiry Into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001."

More here

Camden, fail

The first thing you notice about Camden, New Jersey, is that pretty much everyone you talk to has just gotten his or her ass kicked.

Instead of shaking hands, people here are always lifting hats, sleeves, pant legs and shirttails to show you wounds or scars, then pointing in the direction of where the bad thing just happened.

"I been shot six times," says Raymond, a self-described gangster I meet standing on a downtown corner. He pulls up his pant leg. "The last time I got shot was three years ago, twice in the femur." He gives an intellectual nod. "The femur, you know, that's the largest bone in the leg."

"First they hit me in the head," says Dwayne "The Wiz" Charbonneau, a junkie who had been robbed the night before. He lifts his wool cap to expose a still-oozing red strawberry and pulls his sweatpants down at the waist, drawing a few passing glances. "After that, they ripped my pockets out. You can see right here...."

Even the cops have their stories: "You can see right here, that's where he bit me," says one police officer, lifting his pant leg. "And I'm thinking to myself, 'I'm going to have to shoot this dog.'"

"I've seen people shot and gotten blood on me," says Thomas Bayard Townsend III, a friendly convicted murderer with a tear tattoo under his eye. "If you turn around here, and your curiosity gets the best of you, it can cost you your life."

Camden is just across the Delaware River from the brick and polished cobblestone streets of downtown Philadelphia, where oblivious tourists pour in every year, gobbling cheese steaks and gazing at the Liberty Bell, having no idea that they're a short walk over the Ben Franklin Bridge from a full-blown sovereignty crisis an un-Fantasy Island of extreme poverty and violence where the police just a few years ago essentially surrendered a city of 77,000.

All over America, communities are failing. Once-mighty Rust Belt capitals that made steel or cars are now wastelands. Elsewhere, struggling white rural America is stocking up on canned goods and embracing the politics of chaos, sending pols to Washington ready to hit the default button and start the whole national experiment all over again.

But in Camden, chaos is already here. In September, its last supermarket closed, and the city has been declared a "food desert" by the USDA. The place is literally dying, its population having plummeted from above 120,000 in the Fifties to less than 80,000 today. Thirty percent of the remaining population is under 18, an astonishing number that's 10 to 15 percent higher than any other "very challenged" city, to use the police euphemism. Their home is a city with thousands of abandoned houses but no money to demolish them, leaving whole blocks full of Ninth Ward-style wreckage to gather waste and rats.

More here

Cutting off hands from a thief

"Infidels," or non-Muslims, or the wrong kinds of Muslims (Alawites and Shia for example) are often seen as the natural recipients of Islamic violence, or jihad, as prescribed by Islamic law, the Sharia.

Few, however, are aware exactly how Sharia can cause individual Muslims to do violence upon themselves.

Last week, December 5, Arabic news website Masrawy published a full report and interview with Ali Afifi, an Egyptian man who did just thatviolently cut off both his hands to punish himself for, and prevent himself from, stealing, "according to Islamic Sharia." A summary of the report follows:

Four years ago, in Elgharbeya province, Egypt, 28-year-old Ali Afifi placed his left hand on the train tracks to be amputated by the wheels of a running train without using any anesthetics.

Upon reviving, he went to the townspeople to show the stump of his bloodied arm while yelling at the top of his lungs, "People, I was a thief, and praise Allah, he has forgiven me." He repeated this multiple times, while passersby looked shocked.

Normative Islamic law calls for the amputation of the hands of thieves, per Koran 5:38.

Story and photo here

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Obstruction of justice is okay if Democrats do it

Slowly but surely the truth is coming out on the many measures taken by the Obama administration to suppress information about the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Documents recently obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by Judicial Watch reveal that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s minions told a British firm under contract to provide security to the Benghazi facility to say nothing to the news media.

State Department contracting officer Jan Visintainer told the firm that "the best way to deal with the inquiries is to either be silent or provide no comments." This is yet another illustration that President Obama’s promise that his would be the "most transparent administration ever" was no better than the one about being able to keep your health insurance plan and your doctor under Obamacare.

The fact that a State Department official counseled a government contractor not to provide information the public has a right to know under the FOIA highlights that vital law’s biggest flaw: Nobody in government fears the consequences of breaking it. The FOIA requires government officials to do many things to insure that Americans can obtain copies of public documents (subject only to nine exemptions, the most important of which are national security and personal privacy). But there is nothing about going to jail or paying heavy fines for violating the FOIA.

Most civil servants in the federal government are dedicated professionals who work hard to fulfill the millions of requests departments and agencies receive every year. Most of those requests are routine, having to do with things like a family member’s military service records or how a benefits claim was processed. The problem is that higher-ups in government, including political appointees and senior career executives, often are able to exert great influence on how FOIA requests are handled. Whether it’s out of partisan loyalty to a Democratic or Republican president or a career executive seeking to prevent exposure of corruption or incompetence in the bowels of government, such officials can and do bottle up vitally important information and documents about the daily operations of government.

More here

Military lobotomies

As World War II raged, two Veterans Administration doctors reported witnessing something extraordinary: An eminent neurologist, Walter J. Freeman, and his partner treating a mentally ill patient by cutting open the skull and slicing through neural fibers in the brain.

It was an operation Dr. Freeman called a lobotomy.

Their report landed on the desk of VA chief Frank Hines on July 26, 1943, in the form of a memo recommending lobotomies for veterans with intractable mental illnesses. The operation "may be done, in suitable cases, under local anesthesia," the memo said. It "does not demand a high degree of surgical skill."

The next day Mr. Hines stamped the memo in purple ink: APPROVED.

Over the next dozen or so years, the U.S. government would lobotomize roughly 2,000 American veterans, according to a cache of forgotten VA documents unearthed by The Wall Street Journal, including the memo approved by Mr. Hines. It was a decision made "in accord with our desire to keep abreast of all advances in treatment," the memo said.

The 1943 decision gave birth to an alliance between the VA and lobotomy’s most dogged salesman, Dr. Freeman, a man famous in his day and notorious in retrospect. His prolificsome critics say recklessuse of brain surgery to treat mental illness places him today among the most controversial figures in American medical history.

At the VA, Dr. Freeman pushed the frontiers of ethically acceptable medicine. He said VA psychiatrists, untrained in surgery, should be allowed to perform lobotomies by hammering ice-pick-like tools through patients’ eye sockets. And he argued that, while their patients’ skulls were open anyway, VA surgeons should be permitted to remove samples of living brain for research purposes.

More here

Who knows how much it costs?

President Obama’s brain trust on Afghanistan does not know much the U.S. spends on the war each year or the American cost in lost lives on the battlefield.

This embarrassing lack of basic knowledge from State Department and Pentagon experts on Afghanistan at a House hearing Wednesday prompted even a Democrat to say he was stunned.

The setting was the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The Issue: Afghanistan and the transition to fewer U.S. troops post-2014.

The witnesses: James F. Dobbins, State’s special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan; Donald Sampler, assistant to the administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development, which provides civilian foreign aid; and Michael Dumont, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia.

When it came time for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican, to quiz the witnesses, he asked what he thought was a simple question:

"How much are we spending annually in Afghanistan? How much is the cost to the American taxpayer?"

He was met with stone silence from the witness panel. Mr. Dobbins gestured to the other witnesses for the answer. They, too, came up empty.

More here

A few odds and ends

Best news paragraph ever....Former Chicago Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Al Sanchez, convicted on federal charges of rigging hiring to benefit political foot soldiers, filed Monday to run for the Cook County Board seat previously held by William Beavers who is headed for prison. Story

Lots of fake hate crimes lately, here's another....Investigators say the mother of a Lunenburg teen whose home had racist graffiti sprayed on it last month is a "strong suspect" in the case. According to the search warrant, Isaac Phillip's mother, Andrea Brazier, replied "OK" when an FBI agent said she was the one who spray painted graffiti on the house. Story

And here's another....False rape charges...guy serves 10 years.

In regards to Obamacare, the columnist Peggy Noonan says Obama is either "smart and dishonest" or "sincere but stupid." (I'd pick the second one)

Severe weather in Britain.

Nelson Mandela quote...."Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it'll kill your enemies."

Rush Limbaugh says Mandela would have been released 10 or15 years sooner had it not been for Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. Everyone was afraid that Mandela would follow in Mugabe's footsteps by unleashing an anti-white pogrom.

Comparing dogs from a century ago to today's breeds.

The Washington Post reports that the FBI has had the ability to secretly activate a computer’s camera "without triggering the light that lets users know it is recording" for years now....

Rush Limbaugh on Nelson Mandela..... Yes, he was in prison 27 years. Do you know he was offered countless opportunities for release? He only had to do one thing: He had to renounce terrorism. That's all. Over the 27 years, if he would have renounced terrorism, they woulda let him out of prison. He didn't do it. He would not renounce terrorism.

Australia's conservative Government intends to dump laws that ban hate speech on the grounds that they inhibit free speech. Story

Well, this participant of the knockout game probably will reconsider future engagements after being beatdown by the woman he punched. The video shows the assailant targeting the woman, who doesn't go down after he lands his punch. She turns around and starts punching him repeatedly in the head - but, only after the man next to her delivers an epic kick to the face. Story

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is sending Canadians a message: calling 911 or seeking help for a mental health or substance problem may result in being targeted. In short, Canadians may be denied entry into the US due to their medical records. A recent incident makes it clear that Canada is sharing private medical information with the DHS. Once entered into a DHS computer, of course, the information can spread to every other US government database. Story

The nation’s new health-care law says insurers can’t turn anyone away, even people who are sick. But some companies, patient advocates say, have found a way to discourage the chronically ill from enrolling in their plans: offer drug coverage too skimpy for those with expensive conditions. Story

On Nov. 20, the 82-year-old Executive Chairman of News Corp Rupert Murdoch and 44-year-old Wendi Deng officially divorced in New York. Following this, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) official media spread that the divorce stems from an intimate relationship between Deng and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. More reliable evidence indicates that it is due to Deng’s identity as a CCP spy being exposed. Story

MSNBC’s Chris Matthews...."I have a sense talking to people, not just from the South but from New York State for example, the Tea Party’s still growing… We here at MSNBC may offer a different point of view some, most of the time. But I gotta tell you I sense it’s still out there and festering. I don’t think the center in the Republican party that survives these years has the strength to take it on!"

Okay, it's been 5 years since Al Gore predicted that the Arctic would be ice-free in 5 years. What now, Al?

Cairo has gotten snow this winter for the first time in over 100 years.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Criminal obstruction

The lead congressman investigating HealthCare.gov’s dismal performance during its first two months online ratcheted up the executive-congressional conflict on Wednesday, accusing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of criminal obstruction of his investigation.

The dispute centers around a letter the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services sent to a contractor that worked on the online health insurance marketplace, directing it not to turn over correspondence and other documents to congressional investigators and stating CMS would manage any congressional inquiries.

That letter amounted to "criminal obstruction" of a congressional investigation," according to House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif.

"Obstructing a congressional investigation is a crime," Issa said in a statement. "The federal obstruction laws reflect the fact that Congress’ right of access to information is constitutionally based and critical to the integrity and effectiveness of our oversight and investigative activities."

More here

Free phones for everyone

More fines issued for those involved in a government- funded "free phone" fiasco following a News 4 Investigation.

Two companies accused of fraud first played off the allegations to News 4’s Chris Nagus but now face more trouble with the Federal Communication Commission with tens of millions in total fines.

People who weren’t low income were being targeted with an opportunity to sign up for a government-funded cell phone. It came from Cintex Wireless, based in Maryland.

The company collected millions off the federal program. A man claiming to be a warehouse manager seemed clueless about the offers arriving in Missouri.

More here

You only thought it was anonymous

Disqus is updating its widely-used comments platform after a Swedish tabloid exposed politicians and other public figures for allegedly making highly offensive comments on right-wing websites.

The Swedish daily Expressen, working with an investigative journalism group, said it uncovered the identity of hundreds of people who left offensive comments at four right-wing websites through their email addresses. It then confronted the authors of the comments, many of whom freely admitted to writing them.

Later on Tuesday, Disqus said its network had not been breached and that it did not leak email addresses. The journalists appeared to have abused a feature it used for a third-party service, it said.

More here

Faulty reactors at Fukushima

5 of the 6 nuclear reactors at Fukushima are General Electric Mark 1 reactors.

GE knew decades ago that the design was faulty.

ABC News reported in 2011:
Thirty-five years ago, Dale G. Bridenbaugh and two of his colleagues at General Electric resigned from their jobs after becoming increasingly convinced that the nuclear reactor design they were reviewing the Mark 1 was so flawed it could lead to a devastating accident.

Questions persisted for decades about the ability of the Mark 1 to handle the immense pressures that would result if the reactor lost cooling power, and today that design is being put to the ultimate test in Japan. Five of the six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, which has been wracked since Friday’s earthquake with explosions and radiation leaks, are Mark 1s.

"The problems we identified in 1975 were that, in doing the design of the containment, they did not take into account the dynamic loads that could be experienced with a loss of coolant," Bridenbaugh told ABC News in an interview. "The impact loads the containment would receive by this very rapid release of energy could tear the containment apart and create an uncontrolled release."

More here

Doctor rebellions

Just as cars can’t go anywhere without drivers and employees can’t work without bosses, health care doesn’t happen when there are no doctors around. And when an estimated 70 percent of the doctors in the nation’s deepest-blue state are rebelling against Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act is forcing a critical decision: America will have to junk Obamacare and go back to square one on health insurance reform, or trash the last vestige of private health care in this country by forcing doctors to do the government’s bidding.

The rebellion among California physicians was detailed earlier this week by Washington Examiner senior investigative reporter Richard Pollock. "Independent insurance brokers who work with both insurance companies and doctor networks estimate that about 70 percent of California's 104,000 licensed doctors are boycotting the exchange," Pollock wrote. The president and speaker of the legislative body of the California Medical Association -- the Golden State chapter of the Obamacare-endorsing American Medical Association -- both confirmed to Pollock that the rebellion is widespread and intensely felt.

California's doctor rebellion isn't unique. Pollock previously reported comparable situations at 15 other locations around the country. Not only are thousands of doctors saying no to Obamacare, so are major health insurance providers, including United Healthcare, Aetna and Cigna, as well as some of the nation's most famous hospitals. Among the latter group are Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, Memorial Sloan-Kettering and NewYork-Presbyterian in New York, and the Physicians Regional Hospital in Naples, Florida, which was formerly associated with the Cleveland Clinic.

These developments herald an approaching crisis for Obamacare that will dwarf the present confusion and political damage caused by disastrous launch of healthcare.gov. The coming crisis will force the hands of President Obama and the program’s main congressional advocates, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. If just half to say nothing of 70 percent of America’s doctors refuse to treat Obamacare patients, Obama, Reid and Pelosi will have to decide whether to throw in the towel or to ramrod through Congress legislation to force doctors to do their bidding.

More here

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Quakers getting anti-semitic?

The religious group known as the Quakers has sacrificed its founding religious principles at the altar of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.

In the summer of 2013 an unusual gathering of students took place in an undisclosed location in upstate New York. Sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) along with Jewish Voice for Peace, the "We Divest Campaign Student Leadership Team Summer Training Institute" offered a five-day program to trains campus activists and organizers in the "Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions" (BDS) movement, a loose coalition of anti-Israel groups seeking to cripple the Israeli economy. Promising "fun in a summer-camp like environment" for only a $100 registration feethe rest is subsidized by the sponsorsAFSC’s program included "extensive campaign development coaching," "grassroots organizing skill building," "media and messaging trainings," "anti-oppression analysis workshops," "relationship building with activists on campuses nationwide," "strategy sessions with BDS movement leaders," and more. Participants represented some of America’s best-known elite universities, including the University of Pennsylvania, Brown, Brandeis, Loyola, Oberlin and Georgetown.

The conclave did not go unnoticed among critics of BDS concerned at the prospect of teens and young adults being taught the tactics of harming the Jewish state. The Anti-Defamation League stated that such camps would "indoctrinate the next generation of activists with biased messages intended to single out Israel." Shurat HaDin, an Israeli nonprofit that helps terror victims navigate the legal systems of countries around the world, announced that it was investigating whether the camp violated federal and New York state anti-boycott laws.

But there is a bigger reason to be concerned. The camp’s main sponsor, the Quaker-affiliated and well-funded AFSC, has in recent years propelled itself to the forefront of the BDS campaign. This once-venerable group, a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and an influential member of the anti-war, pro-disarmament, and social justice movements, has become a leading proponent of anti-Israel activism. Their chosen method is to "support [BDS] campaigns which aim to end corporate support for Israel’s settlement policy and thereby contribute to ending settlement growth and construction."

More here

Free preschool

It’s elementary: When Democrats find themselves in political trouble, they reach for your wallets. After squandering billions on an ineffectual stimulus, failed green energy boondoggles and the disastrous Unaffordable Care Act, the Obama White House wants to dump $75 billion more into "free" preschool for all. That’ll solve everything.

Government-funded universal pre-K is a moldy oldie of the progressive left, recycled perennially by Democratic presidential speechwriters in need of State of the Union address padding. But this time, the Fed Ed crowd is redoubling its efforts with support from big-business statists and academic shills.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, once a bitter campaign target of the White House, is now Team Obama’s biggest cheerleader on expanding preschool funding. And Austan Goolsbee, a former top Obama economic adviser and University of Chicago prof, took to the pages of The Wall Street Journal this week to crusade for more public "investments" in early childhood education. At "$10,000 per child," Goolsbee argued, universal pre-K is a "bargain."

Why anyone would take the financial advice of Austan Goolsbee is beyond me. I’ll remind you that this is the same Austan Goolsbee who vigorously championed extending credit to the uncreditworthy. In a 2007 op-ed for The New York Times, he derided prescient critics who called subprime mortgages "irresponsible." Goolsbee instead preferred to describe the doomed financial instruments as "innovations in the mortgage market" to expand the pool of homebuyers. We don’t need economics Ph.D.’s to see how that worked out.

More here

Polarizer in Chief

On November 25th, New York Post columinist Michael Goodwin, an Obama backer turned critic, published "Obama's Failed Promise to Heal a Polarized Nation." Goodwin wrote that, "Obama's promise to heal a polarized nation has proven to be as big a lie as his promise that you can keep your health insurance."

He added that, "America is now so divided and demoralized that there is no hope Obama can fix it." Moreover, "[a]s last week proved, he doesn't even pretend to try any more."

The last reference was to Obama's complicity in Harry Reid's coup in the Senate that severely curtailed the filibuster, thus seriously weakening the Republican minority's ability to thwart Obama's increasingly tyrannical tendencies.

Once upon a time, Obama promised to close America's partisan, ideological, racial, etc. divisions. Proving that the will-to-believe is powerful, some conservative pundits wanted to cut Obama some slack after he was elected in 2008. (For Peggy Noonan, this continued until only a few months ago.)

Obama governed as a leftist during his first term in office. He has ruled as a hard leftist since being re-elected. On December 3rd, he launched a campaign intended to last until Christmas that began by blaming the Republicans for "sabotaging" Obamacare. He followed the next day with another of his patented "class warfare" battle cries. One is hard-pressed to see how such a crusade could have any other outcome than further polarization.

More here

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


On March 11th, 2011 the Tōhoku earthquake and resulting tsunami wreaked havoc on Japan. It also resulted in the largest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl when the tsunami damaged the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Radioactive particles were released into the atmosphere and ocean, contaminating groundwater, soil and seawater which effectively closed local Japanese fisheries.

Rather unfortunately, it has also led to some wild speculation on the widespread dangers of Fukushima radiation on the internet. Posts with titles like "Holy Fukushima - Radiation From Japan Is Already Killing North Americans" and "28 Signs That The West Coast Is Being Absolutely Fried With Nuclear Radiation From Fukushima" (which Southern Fried Science has already thoroughly debunked) keep popping up on my facebook feed from well-meaning friends.

I’m here to tell you that these posts are just plain garbage. While there are terrible things that happened around the Fukushima Power Plant in Japan; Alaska, Hawaii and the West Coast aren’t in any danger. These posts were meant to scare people (and possibly written by terrified authors). They did just that, but there is a severe lack of facts in these posts. Which is why I am here to give you the facts, and nothing but the facts.

The radioactive rods in the Fukushima power plant are usually cooled by seawater [CORRECTION: they are usually cooled by freshwater. As a last ditch emergency effort at Fukushima seawater was used as a coolant.]. The double whammy of an earthquake and a tsunami pretty much released a s**tstorm of badness: the power went out, meltdown started and eventually the radioactive cooling seawater started leaking (and was also intentionally released) into the ocean. Radioactive isotopes were also released into the air and were absorbed by the ocean when they rained down upon it. These two pathways introduced mostly Iodine-131, Cesium-137, and Cesium-134, but also a sprinkling of Tellurium, Uranium and Strontium to the area surrounding the power plant.

More here

Paying more for drugs too

The President famously promised that you could keep your health plan and doctor. For many people, both of those pledges are turning out to be false. And now, you might not be able to keep your medicine, either.

There are two reasons why. The first has to do with the higher out of pocket costs patients will face. The second issue may be even more significant.

Simply put, many drugs may not be covered at all, and the costs patients incur by buying them with cash won’t count against out of pocket caps. This has repercussions for drug makers with big portfolios of specialty and primary care drugs (more on that later). But most of all, it has implications for patients.

Drugs on your health plan’s formulary will typically have fixed co-pays. These costs usually count toward your deductible and the out of pocket and lifetime limits on the total amount of money that your health plan can ask you to spend.

As the Wall Street Journal recently reported, these co-pays can already be substantial, pushing people quickly to their annual out-of-pocket limits $6,350 for individuals and $12,700 for families (after which insurers pay the full tab).

More here

Healthcare karma

Some of the states that most enthusiastically embraced President Obama’s health care law are now encountering some of the biggest glitches and organizational failures as the health insurance exchanges roll out.

Glitches that hindered HealthCare.gov, shorthand for the federal exchange system that serves 36 states, have grabbed the biggest headlines since the exchanges went live in October and were supposed to let consumers shop for private health plans and apply for government subsidies.

But as the Obama administration patches up its balky website and states like California, New York and Kentucky win praise for their in-house efforts, a handful of states that embraced the president’s reforms from the start may be faring the worst of all.

Cover Oregon started off with a bang a fancy website, ads with customized folk songs but at last count it had failed to enroll anyone through the Internet. In Hawaii, its director apologized for implementation delays in October before stepping down this month. And in Maryland, state lawmakers and officials are starting to point fingers over a health exchange that one insurance co-op executive termed "inexcusable."

"Honestly, we are more than frustrated," Peter Beilenson, president and CEO of the Evergreen Health Co-op that is offering plans on the Maryland exchange alongside much larger insurers.

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Nature or nurture?

No single factor, genetic or otherwise, can explain why one young Norwegian becomes world master in chess, whereas another becomes a mass murderer. But perhaps a combination of factors can.

Why are human beings geniuses, while others end up as sadistic murderers? Were they born that way, or were they shaped that way through their social environment and upbringing?

This is the age-old debate of nature vs. nurture. My personal view on this is that biology matters a great deal. People can be born with a specific genetic profile and brain that will make them predisposed towards a certain type of mentality and behavior. However, while you can be born with a certain potential, to what extent that potential is realized depends upon your social environment. There are plenty of people throughout history whose talent was either never recognized or in some ways wasted.

It is instructive to look at this debate of nature vs. nurture through the cases of two young Norwegian men who have both made international headlines in recent years. One is Magnus Carlsen, currently the reigning World Chess Champion. The other is the mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik.

Magnus Carlsen became a chess grandmaster at the age of 13, one of the youngest players ever to do so. In November 2013, he beat Viswanathan Anand in India in the World Chess Championship. At the time of writing, Carlsen is the number one ranked chess player in the world, having achieved the highest peak rating in history and beaten the previous record set by the great Russian chess player Garry Kasparov.

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Nothing moved in three weeks

Growing impatient with the federal government’s reluctance to do anything to stem the tide of illegal immigration, human trafficking and drug smuggling, Texas officials took matters into their own hands, bringing all of it to a screeching halt along the Rio Grande section of the U.S./Mexican border.

"In the Rio Grande Valley sector, nearly nothing moved in those three weeks," Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said in an exclusive interview with Breitbart News. "We shut it down. We had teams of Texas law enforcement in the brush, high-altitude aircraft, gun boats and more. Our intel revealed that the Gulf cartel was growing frustrated with our three-week effort."

Dewhurst told Breitbart that it all comes down to resolve and a willingness to spend the money necessary to get the job done.

"The border issue is just about dollars and cents," the lieutenant governor said. "This proves Texas can do the job the federal government has refused to do to invest in the border and shut it down from illegal activities that are hurting Texans and other Americans. Texas will protect our own citizens and other Americans from the criminal gangs that are destabilizing our state and our nation."

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Masochistic personality disorder

Allen Frances, the psychiatrist who edited the fourth edition (1994) of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (commonly known as the DSM-IV), once tried to insinuate a new diagnosismasochistic personality disorderinto the third edition (1980). Frances, a vocal critic of the new DSM-5, released this year, now believes that no such condition exists and is glad that he failedthough he failed for reasons other than the manual’s scientific integrity.

Masochistic personality disorder, as Frances then conceived it, "diagnosed" those whose typical behavior brought them unhappiness, principally by "self-sacrifice in the service of maintaining relationships or self-esteem." He was thinking ofor many took him to be thinking ofwomen who put up with violently abusive lovers or husbands, or repeatedly chose such men as sexual partners, despite previous bad experience. Feminists attacked the proposed diagnosis, arguing that it blamed women for their own abuse. And it was on those grounds, not scientific ones, that the 1980 DSM excluded the diagnosis.

In fact, the pattern of behavior that Frances’s disorder sought to categorize is commonI encountered it often in my clinical practice. "His eyes suddenly go funny," a patient would say of a violent boyfriend, "like he’s having a fit. He stares, he doesn’t blink, and then he starts to strangle me. I don’t think he knows what he’s doing." "Would he do it in front of me, then?," I would ask, and the scales would fall, at least temporarily, from her eyes. But the willingness to excuse abusive behavior was often astonishing. I recall one patient with an arm and a jaw broken by a man just out of prison after a long sentence for killing another woman. She rejected our warning that she was in imminent danger and walked out of the hospital arm in arm with her abuser, proclaiming her love for him. And, in fact, no convicted serial killer fails to receive written declarations of love and offers of immediate marriage from women outside the prison walls.

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