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Topics - JoeP

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The Diner Pantry / Gourmet Movies
« on: January 10, 2016, 02:53:11 PM »
Hey folks, I watched a fantastic food-related movie last night - The Hundred-Foot Journey. I highly recommend this movie for anyone that cooks and takes pride in the end result.   

On a related note, if you have not tried much Indian cuisine, you should try it out IMO.  I didn't like it when I was a teen, but things change. Most Indian restaurants are family-owned and they typically make great take-out. Many also let you specify mild, medium, or hot for the spice factor.  My wife is not a big fan of Indian food so I don't get to eat it very often.  My opportunity to eat Indian usually comes when she gets a hankering for a philly cheesesteak sub - on the way to the sub joint is a really good Indian restaurant (Betel Indian Kitchen).  So I just make two stops to pick up dinner on that night.    :icon_sunny:

Economics / Will The Grinch will steal Christmas this year?
« on: November 25, 2015, 03:35:03 PM »
Do you think The Grinch will steal Christmas this year?  I suppose economics is the DRIVER to obtain the answer to this question?   :laugh:

Connecting the Dots: Kiss Christmas and Retail Stocks Goodbye

November 25, 2015
In my article from November 17, I touched on the growing number of retailers that report shrinking traffic and disappointing sales:

Our consumer-driven economy is not getting any help from suddenly sober shopaholics. In the most recent report, the Commerce Department reported that retail sales rose by a measly 0.1% in September. And it didn’t matter where you wear Gucci loafers or Red Wing work boots.

Since then, the retail landscape has gotten even muddier.

The Commerce Department reported that retail sales increased by a miserly +0.1% in October, below the +0.3% Wall Street was expecting. Additionally, sales for the month of September were revised downward from +0.1% to 0.0%.

So this is what the last three months look like:

 August 0.0%
 September 0.0%
 October 0.1%

You should pay careful attention to retail sales because there is a strong correlation between plunging retail sales and plunging stock prices!

Walmart, Macy’s, and Nordstrom are the three high-profile retailers to disappoint Wall Street, but they have lots of company.

•Shoe retailer DSW, Inc. lowered its full-year earnings forecast from $1.80 – $1.90 per share to $1.40 – $1.50 per share. The problem? Slow customer traffic.

•The Gap reported that its October same-store sales dropped by 15% at Banana Republic and by 4% at Gap stores. Additionally, the company warned that it would miss Q3 expectations.

•Urban Outfitters reported Q3 sales of $825.3 million, well below the Wall Street pipe dream of $868.9 million. Urban Outfitters’ shares closed down 7.4% to a four-year low after spitting up that revenue hairball.

The biggest confirmation of the retailing woes came from the Port of Long Beach, the second-busiest US port.

The Port of Long Beach handled 307,995 containers in October, down from 310,482 and 0.8% less from the same month last year. More troublesome is the 14% plunge in imported containers since August.

That tells me retailers are cutting back their pre-Christmas orders in anticipation of disappointing holiday sales and due to already bulging inventories.

Speaking of bulging inventories, I want to point out two retailers with ballooning inventories that I think are profit time bombs just waiting to kill investors.

•Lululemon Athletica (LULU): Yoga-pants maker Lululemon has been suffering from an inventory bulge. Inventory hit $280 million, a 55% year-over-year increase.

•Under Armour (UA): Inventory ballooned to $867 million at the end of Q3, a 36% increase.

I’m not suggesting that you rush out, sell all your retail stocks, or short Lululemon and Under Armour tomorrow morning. As always, timing is everything. However, it is crystal clear to me that the Grinch is definitely going to steal Christmas… and that retail stocks are one of the worst places to invest your money.

Find out what other stocks are in peril—and how to make money from the demise of the losers.

Tony Sagami

30-year market expert Tony Sagami leads the Yield Shark and Rational Bear advisories at Mauldin Economics. To learn more about Yield Shark and how it helps you maximize dividend income, click here. To learn more about Rational Bear and how you can use it to benefit from falling stocks and sectors, click here.

Doomsteading / Tell Me Your Doomstead Toilet Maintenance Storiez
« on: May 04, 2014, 05:02:39 PM »
I did not know where to post this so I just did the easy thing and created a new Topic. I'm sure toilet maintenance is at least somewhat related to "Doomsteading"?  I have no problem with Admin moving this post if I have overstepped any bounds.  Today, I had to look into the poor performance of one of the toilets under my roof.  You had to hold down the flush lever an extra three seconds to make sure the toilet completely flushed.  This "project" sucked out about 2-3 hours out of my afternoon.  To diagnose the problem, I referred to the overly complex installation instructions:

Korky Installation Instructions

and eventually discovered the slack in ONE of the chains(plastic) had stretched a bit. 

After solving this problem, I went down to the local hardware store and bought a "back-up" replacement kit.  It was "old style" and the installation instructions were about eight simple steps.  It did cost about $5 more than the newer models, but I think it's worth a few extra bucks.

Nuke Puke / Six Hanford Nuclear Tanks Leaking
« on: February 23, 2013, 07:17:35 AM »
6 underground Hanford nuclear tanks leaking, Washington governor says

Published February 23, 2013
Associated Press

YAKIMA, Wash. –  Federal and state officials say six underground tanks holding a brew of radioactive and toxic waste are leaking at the country's most contaminated nuclear site in south-central Washington, raising concerns about delays for emptying the aging tanks.

The leaking materials at Hanford Nuclear Reservation pose no immediate risk to public safety or the environment because it would take perhaps years for the chemicals to reach groundwater, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said Friday.

But the news has renewed discussion over delays for emptying the tanks, which were installed decades ago and are long past their intended 20-year life span.

"None of these tanks would be acceptable for use today. They are all beyond their design life. None of them should be in service," said Tom Carpenter of Hanford Challenge, a Hanford watchdog group. "And yet, they're holding two-thirds of the nation's high-level nuclear waste."

Just last week, state officials announced that one of Hanford's 177 tanks was leaking 150 to 300 gallons a year, posing a risk to groundwater and rivers. So far, nearby monitoring wells haven't detected higher radioactivity levels.

Inslee then traveled to Washington, D.C., to discuss the problem with federal officials, learning in meetings Friday that six tanks are leaking.

The declining waste levels in the six tanks were missed because only a narrow band of measurements was evaluated, rather than a wider band that would have shown the levels changing over time, Inslee said.

"It's like if you're trying to determine if climate change is happening, only looking at the data for today," he said. "Perhaps human error, the protocol did not call for it. But that's not the most important thing at the moment. The important thing now is to find and address the leakers."

Department of Energy spokeswoman Lindsey Geisler said there was no immediate health risk and that federal officials would work with Washington state to address the matter.

Regardless, Sen. Ron Wyden, the new chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, will ask the Government Accountability Office to investigate Hanford's tank monitoring and maintenance program, said his spokesman, Tom Towslee.

The federal government built the Hanford facility at the height of World War II as part of the Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb. The remote site produced plutonium for the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, and continued supporting the nation's nuclear weapons arsenal for years.

Today, it is the most contaminated nuclear site in the country, still surrounded by sagebrush but with Washington's Tri-Cities of Richland, Kennewick and Pasco several miles downriver.

Several years ago, workers at Hanford completed two of three projects deemed urgent risks to the public and the environment, removing all weapons-grade plutonium from the site and emptying leaky pools that held spent nuclear fuel just 400 yards from the river.

But successes at the site often are overshadowed by delays, budget overruns and technological challenges. Nowhere have those challenges been more apparent than in Hanford's central plateau, home to the site's third most urgent project: emptying the tanks.

Hanford's tanks hold some 53 million gallons of highly radioactive waste -- enough to fill dozens of Olympic-size swimming pools -- and many of those tanks are known to have leaked in the past. An estimated 1 million gallons of radioactive liquid has already leaked there.

The cornerstone of emptying the tanks is a treatment plant that will convert the waste into glasslike logs for safe, secure storage. The plant, last estimated to cost more than $12.3 billion, is billions of dollars over budget and behind schedule. It isn't expected to being operating until at least 2019.

Washington state is imposing a "zero-tolerance" policy on radioactive waste leaking into the soil, Inslee said. So given those delays and the apparent deterioration of some of the tanks, the federal government will have to show that there is adequate storage for the waste in the meantime, he said.

"We are not convinced of this," he said. "There will be a robust exchange of information in the coming weeks to get to the bottom of this."

Inslee and Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, both Democrats, have championed building additional tanks to ensure safe storage of the waste until the plant is completed.

Wyden, D-Ore., toured the site earlier this week. He said he shares the governors' concerns about the integrity of the tanks but he wants more scientific information to determine it's the correct way to spend scarce money.

Wyden noted the nation's most contaminated nuclear site -- and the challenges associated with ridding it of its toxic legacy -- will be a subject of upcoming hearings and a higher priority in Washington, D.C.

The federal government already spends $2 billion each year on Hanford cleanup -- one-third of its entire budget for nuclear cleanup nationally. The Energy Department has said it expects funding levels to remain the same for the foreseeable future, but a new Energy Department report released this week calls for annual budgets of as much as $3.5 billion during some years of the cleanup effort.

There are legal, moral and ethical considerations to cleaning up the Hanford site at the national level, Inslee said, adding that he will continue to insist that the Energy Department completely clean up the site.

Population Overshoot / SHADE™ the Motion Picture
« on: August 07, 2012, 04:28:46 PM »
SHADE™ the Motion Picture

About the Film

Full-scale depopulation procedures have been implemented as Population Reduction, Geoengineering, Land Grabs, and Criminal Banking Scams rule the populace.

All human activity will soon be under surveillance and the remaining world population of 1 Billion will exist in Mega-Cities controlled by oligarchs tracking the RFID Chipped Population – the “Useless Eaters” as the elite have termed us.

The future of humanity will be a world in which oligarchs decide who lives and who dies.

Webster Tarpley, Alex Jones, Dan Dicks, Shepard Ambellas, Jason Bermas, and Mark Dice set the tone of this ominous presentation.

Shot from multiple locations such as Maui Hawaii, Chantilly Virginia, numerous Locations in Arizona, Texas, and more, the filmmakers stop at nothing to bring you the compelling details of an overarching diabolic agenda.

This agenda – Does not involve you, or your family.

In fact, it involves the systematic extermination of 90% of the earths population.

The “Useless Eaters”

The movie also talks solutions and boasts an all Original Motion Picture Soundtrack featuring Global Resistance, Chronic Vibe, and more.


<a href="" target="_blank" class="new_win"></a>
Might have to drag wifey (kicking and screaming) to the big screen for this  :icon_mrgreen:

Environment / Nature = Natural Capital......WTF?
« on: August 07, 2012, 06:53:29 AM »
New piece from controversial? George Monbiot – isn’t he the guy that recently wrote “we were wrong about Peak Oil”?  Anyway, he’s warning about a push to “commodify” natural resources courtesy of the UK Natural Capital Committee and Ecosystem Markets Task Force.  “nature” = "natural capital” WTF?

Quote from:  huggahoodie (comments)
Why not put a price on the brains of the people who would own us? Then decide they are worth less than shit and replace them with same substance to see if it would make a difference? Worth a try.

Putting a price on the rivers and rain diminishes us all
Payments for 'ecosystem services' look like the prelude to the greatest privatisation since enclosure
George Monbiot, Monday 6 August 2012 15.30 EDT

Our rivers and natural resources are to be valued and commodified, a move that will benefit only the rich, argues George Monbiot. Photograph: Alamy

'The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself of saying 'This is mine', and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not anyone have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows, 'Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody'."

Jean Jacques Rousseau would recognise this moment. Now it is not the land his impostors are enclosing, but the rest of the natural world. In many countries, especially the United Kingdom, nature is being valued and commodified so that it can be exchanged for cash.

The effort began in earnest under the last government. At a cost of £100,000, it commissioned a research company to produce a total annual price for England's ecosystems. After taking the money, the company reported – with a certain understatement – that this exercise was "theoretically challenging to complete, and considered by some not to be a theoretically sound endeavour". Some of the services provided by England's ecosystems, it pointed out, "may in fact be infinite in value".

This rare flash of common sense did nothing to discourage the current government from seeking first to put a price on nature, then to create a market in its disposal. The UK now has a natural capital committee, an Ecosystem Markets Task Force and an inspiring new lexicon. We don't call it nature any more: now the proper term is "natural capital". Natural processes have become "ecosystem services", as they exist only to serve us. Hills, forests and river catchments are now "green infrastructure", while biodiversity and habitats are "asset classes" within an "ecosystem market". All of them will be assigned a price, all of them will become exchangeable.

The argument in favour of this approach is coherent and plausible. Business currently treats the natural world as if it is worth nothing. Pricing nature and incorporating that price into the cost of goods and services creates an economic incentive for its protection. It certainly appeals to both business and the self-hating state. The Ecosystem Markets Task Force speaks of "substantial potential growth in nature-related markets – in the order of billions of pounds globally".

Commodification, economic growth, financial abstractions, corporate power: aren't these the processes driving the world's environmental crisis? Now we are told that to save the biosphere we need more of them.

Payments for ecosystem services look to me like the prelude to the greatest privatisation since Rousseau's encloser first made an exclusive claim to the land. The government has already begun describing land owners as the "providers" of ecosystem services, as if they had created the rain and the hills and the rivers and the wildlife that inhabits them. They are to be paid for these services, either by the government or by "users". It sounds like the plan for the NHS.

Land ownership since the time of the first impostor has involved the gradual accumulation of exclusive rights, which were seized from commoners. Payments for ecosystem services extend this encroachment by appointing the landlord as the owner and instigator of the wildlife, the water flow, the carbon cycle, the natural processes that were previously deemed to belong to everyone and no one.

But it doesn't end there. Once a resource has been commodified, speculators and traders step in. The Ecosystem Markets Task Force now talks of "harnessing City financial expertise to assess the ways that these blended revenue streams and securitisations enhance the ROI [return on investment] of an environmental bond". This gives you an idea of how far this process has gone – and of the gobbledegook it has begun to generate.

Already the government is developing the market for trading wildlife, by experimenting with what it calls biodiversity offsets. If a quarry company wants to destroy a rare meadow, for example, it can buy absolution by paying someone to create another somewhere else. The government warns that these offsets should be used only to compensate for "genuinely unavoidable damage" and "must not become a licence to destroy". But once the principle is established and the market is functioning, for how long do you reckon that line will hold? Nature, under this system, will become as fungible as everything else.

Like other aspects of neoliberalism, the commodification of nature forestalls democratic choice. No longer will we be able to argue that an ecosystem or a landscape should be protected because it affords us wonder and delight; we'll be told that its intrinsic value has already been calculated and, doubtless, that it turns out to be worth less than the other uses to which the land could be put. The market has spoken: end of debate.

All those messy, subjective matters, the motivating forces of democracy, will be resolved in a column of figures. Governments won't need to regulate; the market will make the decisions that politicians have ducked. But trade is a fickle master, and unresponsive to anyone except those with the money. The costing and sale of nature represents another transfer of power to corporations and the very rich.

It diminishes us, it diminishes nature. By turning the natural world into a subsidiary of the corporate economy, it reasserts the biblical doctrine of dominion. It slices the biosphere into component commodities: already the government's task force is talking of "unbundling" ecosystem services, a term borrowed from previous privatisations. This might make financial sense; it makes no ecological sense. The more we learn about the natural world, the more we discover that its functions cannot be safely disaggregated.

Rarely will the money to be made by protecting nature match the money to be made by destroying it. Nature offers low rates of return by comparison to other investments. If we allow the discussion to shift from values to value – from love to greed – we cede the natural world to the forces wrecking it. Pull up the stakes, fill in the ditch, we're being conned again.

Diner Newz & Multimedia / Joe's Newz Channel
« on: August 03, 2012, 05:31:42 PM »
...for awhile I guess.  Surly was on the right track with this the first time around.

Vacant Detroit becomes dumping ground for the dead

Associated Press
DETROIT (AP) -- From the street, the two decomposing bodies were nearly invisible, concealed in an overgrown lot alongside worn-out car tires and a moldy sofa. The teenagers had been shot, stripped to their underwear and left on a deserted block.

They were just the latest victims of foul play whose remains went undiscovered for days after being hidden deep inside Detroit's vast urban wilderness - a crumbling wasteland rarely visited by outsiders and infrequently patrolled by police.

Abandoned and neglected parts of the city are quickly becoming dumping grounds for the dead - at least a dozen bodies in 12 months' time. And authorities acknowledge there's little they can do.

"You can shoot a person, dump a body and it may just go unsolved" because of the time it may take for the corpse to be found, officer John Garner said.

The bodies have been purposely hidden or discarded in alleys, fields, vacant houses, abandoned garages and even a canal. Seven of the victims are believed to have been slain outside Detroit and then dumped within the city.

It's a pattern made possible by more than four decades of urban decay and suburban flight. White residents started moving to burgeoning suburbs in the 1950s, then stepped up their exodus after a deadly 1967 race riot. Detroit's black middle class followed over the next two decades, leaving block after block of empty homes.

Over time, tens of thousands of houses deteriorated. Some collapsed, others were demolished. Empty lots gave way to block-long fields.

Jacob Kudla and Jourdan Bobbish were found July 27 in a field off Lyford Street, a lonely road that borders an industrial area and a small municipal airport. The teens from suburban Westland, 18 and 17, respectively, had been visiting Kudla's uncle in Detroit when they disappeared July 22.

Their corpses were found by someone walking along the desolate block. The closest house, about 100 yards away, belongs to 74-year-old Ella Dunn.

Over the last 24 years, she has watched nearly all her neighbors move out. Now she constantly hears people dumping tires, furniture and trash.

"They drive down and push stuff out," she said.

A nearby parking lot resembles a small landfill for junk - a coloring book based on Bible characters, a yellow toilet, furniture, shoes and five boats.

"Detroit is a dumping ground for a lot of stuff," said Margaret Dewar, professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Michigan. "There is no one to watch. There is no capacity to enforce laws about dumping. There is a perception you can dump and no one will report it."

In mid-July, the decapitated bodies of a couple were pulled from the Detroit River and a nearby canal. Authorities say they were shot and dismembered in their home in suburban Allen Park, then driven to a little-used Detroit park and dumped in the water. A man who lived with them is charged in the slayings.

The bodies of two Hamtramck women were discovered in March buried in a neglected Detroit park. Five men are accused in the murders.

Back in December, the bodies of two women were found in a car parked near a vacant house. Six days later, the badly burned remains of two other women turned up in a car trunk. Police believe all were killed elsewhere and dumped in Detroit. A man from suburban Sterling Heights has been charged.

Detroit has more than 30,000 vacant houses, and the deficit-strangled city has no resources of its own to level them. Mayor Dave Bing is promoting a plan to tear down as many as possible using federal money. The state is also contributing to the effort.

But it's hard to keep up. About a quarter-million people moved out of Detroit between 2000 and 2010, leaving just over 700,000 residents in a city built for 2 million.

Census figures from two years ago show 793 people living on Lyford and the other 20 or so streets near the Coleman A. Young airport. Two decades earlier, about 2,900 people lived there.

Dunn's modest home is one of only three on the block that are still occupied.

"I couldn't move if I wanted to," she said. "They don't want to give you any money for your house."

On Tuesday, a patrol car slowly rolled by. Officers are more visible after the teens' bodies were found, Dunn added.

A larger police presence is needed across the city, but Detroit can't afford to hire more. The city recently cut police pay by 10 percent.

When he joined the department 13 years ago, Garner patrolled a 3.6-square-mile area in the tough 3rd Precinct, bumping into another officer every 20 minutes. Now he covers 22 square miles and crosses paths with other officers "maybe once every two hours."

"If we know this, the criminals know this," Garner said.

Sparse patrols and slow response times make it less likely that someone will be seen dumping a body.

"Years back, people would go to rural areas" to dump bodies, said Daniel Kennedy, a Michigan-based forensic criminologist. "Now we have rural areas in urban areas."

Detroit's reputation as a violent city with one of the highest crime rates in the country also works against it.

The body of a woman from wealthy Grosse Pointe Park was found in January in her Mercedes-Benz SUV in a Detroit alley. The marketing executive was apparently killed in the garage of her upscale suburban home, but left in the city. A family handyman has been charged.

If a body shows up in Grosse Pointe, Kennedy said, "those officers are sitting around waiting for something to happen, and they are all over it."

CFS tells me drones might be a heavily used tool to make sure the masses obediently board The Train to San Antonio. 
Grand Forks, North Dakota, to become a Predator hotbed for drone-fired lasers
Richard Clements for

The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) has finally given the go ahead for the use of remotely-piloted Predator drones in the airspace above 10,000 acres in North Dakota.

According to an article published on, Starting in October Grand Forks will see a domestic training facility for military unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) with the trainee pilots flying the drones several times a week using lasers to paint ground targets.

In an interview with the Grand Forks Herald, Col. Rick Gibney, commander of the 119th Wing of the North Dakota Air National Guard said: “People may hear airplanes flying above, but there will be no visible lights and no explosions.”

Gibney added that the site at CampGrafton will allow pilots to train in real world conditions rather than heavily relying on simulators to learn the basics of flying drones. There will not be huge number of flights initially but would gradually build up.

The FAA says that traditional aircraft will continue to fly through the airspace, with what amounts to four flights daily; Gibney cannot see that as a problem, and backed up these views by pointing out that in drone-licensed part of Nevada and California “There’s a lot of other aircraft in those areas, and a lot of commercial aircraft around those areas.”

Not everyone has welcomed the news.

Opponents of the UAV training ground have asked for more oversight to how the UAV’s will behave, and more specifically, some have raised concerns about the dangers that could come from the use of the lasers that will be used by the Predator pilots.

The latest FAA regulations state: “Since the MQ-1 Predator (UAV) laser is non-eye safe and will be used during training sorties flown by the military, its use constitutes a hazardous activity that must be confined within restricted area airspace to protect non-participating aircraft.”

According to the latest estimates the number of domestic drones operating in the U.S. airspace will number 30,000 by the end of the decade: one of the reasons why many people are becoming increasingly concerned over safety and privacy of stateside drone ops.

I noticed the TSA seemed a bit more militant this week when I was travelling to/from Michigan.  No scrotum grabs, but they asked LOTS of questions.  It just seemed a little different than the last time I flew - about a year ago.

The Rise of the Police State and the Absence of Mass Opposition
James Petras and Robin Eastman Abaya


One of the most significant political developments in recent US history has been the virtually unchallenged rise of the police state. Despite the vast expansion of the police powers of the Executive Branch of government, the extraordinary growth of an entire panoply of repressive agencies, with hundreds of thousands of personnel, and enormous public and secret budgets and the vast scope of police state surveillance, including the acknowledged monitoring of over 40 million US citizens and residents, no mass pro-democracy movement has emerged to confront the powers and prerogatives or even protest the investigations of the police state.

In the early fifties, when the McCarthyite purges were accompanied by restrictions on free speech, compulsory loyalty oaths and congressional ‘witch hunt’ investigations of public officials, cultural figures , intellectuals, academics and trade unionists, such police state measures provoked widespread public debate and protests and even institutional resistance. By the end of the 1950’s mass demonstrations were held at the sites of the public hearings of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in San Francisco (1960) and elsewhere and major civil rights movements arose to challenge the racially segregated South, the compliant Federal government and the terrorist racist death squads of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). The Free Speech Movement in Berkeley (1964) ignited nationwide mass demonstrations against the authoritarian-style university governance.

The police state incubated during the first years of the Cold War was challenged by mass movements pledged to retain or regain democratic freedoms and civil rights.

Key to understanding the rise of mass movements for democratic freedoms was their fusion with broader social and cultural movements: democratic freedoms were linked to the struggle for racial equality; free speech was necessary in order to organize a mass movement against the imperial US Indo-Chinese wars and widespread racial segregation; the shutting down of Congressional ‘witch hunts’ and purges opened up the cultural sphere to new and critical voices and revitalized the trade unions and professional associations. All were seen as critical to protecting hard-won workers’ rights and social advances.

In the face of mass opposition, many of the overt police state tactics of the 1950’s went ‘underground’ and were replaced by covert operations; selective state violence against individuals replaced mass purges. The popular pro-democracy movements strengthened civil society and public hearings exposed and weakened the police state apparatus, but it did not go away. However, from the early 1980’s to the present, especially over the past 20 years, the police state has expanded dramatically, penetrating all aspects of civil society while arousing no sustained or even sporadic mass opposition.

The question is why has the police state grown and even exceeded the boundaries of previous periods of repression and yet not provoked any sustained mass opposition? This is in contrast to the broad-based pro-democracy movements of the mid to late 20th century. That a massive and growing police state apparatus exists is beyond doubt: one simply has to look up the published records of personnel (both public agents and private contractors), the huge budgets and scores of agencies involved in internal spying on tens of millions of American citizens and residents. The scope and depth of arbitrary police state measures taken include arbitrary detention and interrogations, entrapment and the blacklisting of hundreds of thousands of US citizens. Presidential fiats have established the framework for the assassination of US citizens and residents, military tribunals, detention camps and the seizure of private property.

Yet as these gross violations of the constitutional order have taken place and as each police state agency has further eroded our democratic freedoms, there have been no massive “anti-Homeland Security” movements, no campus ‘Free Speech movements'. There are only the isolated and courageous voices of specialized ‘civil liberties’ and constitutional freedoms activists and organizations, which speak out and raise legal challenges to the abuse, but have virtually no mass base and no objective coverage in the mass media.

To address this issue of mass inactivity before the rise of the police state, we will approach the topic from two angles.

We will describe how the organizers and operatives have structured the police state and how that has neutralized mass responses.

We will then discuss the ‘meaning’ of non-activity, setting out several hypotheses about the underlying motives and behavior of the ‘passive mass’ of citizens.

The Concentric Circles of the Police State

While the potential reach of the police state agencies covers the entire US population, in fact, it operates on the basis of ‘concentric circles’. The police state is perceived and experienced by the US population according to the degree of their involvement in critical opposition to state policies. While the police state theoretically affects ‘everyone’, in practice it operates through a series of concentric circles. The ‘inner core’, of approximately several million citizens, is the sector of the population experiencing the brunt of the police state persecution. They include the most critical, active citizens, especially those identified by the police state as sharing religious and ethnic identities with declared foreign enemies, critics or alleged ‘terrorists’. These include immigrants and citizens of Arab, Persian, Pakistani, Afghan and Somali descent, as well as American converts to Islam.

Ethnic and religious “profiling” is rife in all transport centers (airports, bus and train stations and on the highways). Mosques, Islamic charities and foundations are under constant surveillance and subject to raids, entrapment, arrests, and even Israeli-style ‘targeted’ assassinations.

The second core group, targeted by the police state, includes African Americans, Hispanics and immigration rights activists (numbering in the millions). They are subject to massive arbitrary sweeps, round-ups and unlimited detention without trial as well as mass indiscriminate deportations.

After the ‘core groups’ is the ‘inner circle’ which includes millions of US citizens and residents, who have written or spoken critically of US and Israeli policy in the Middle East, expressed solidarity with the suffering of the Palestinian people, opposed US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan or have visited countries or regions opposed to US empire building (Venezuela, Iran, South Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza, etc.). Hundreds of thousands of these citizens have their telephone, e-mail and internet communications under surveillance; they have been targeted in airports, denied passports, subject to ‘visits’ and to covert and overt blacklisting at their schools and workplaces.

Activists engaged in civil liberties groups, lawyers, and professionals, leftists engaged in anti-Imperialist, pro-democracy and anti-police state activities and their publications are on ‘file’ in the massive police state labyrinth of data collecting on ‘political terrorists’. Environmental movements and their activists have been treated as potential terrorists – with their own family members subjected to police harassment and ominous ‘visits’.

The ‘outer circle’ includes, community, civic, religious and trade union leaders and activists who, in the course of their activity interact with or even express support for core and inner circle critics and victims of police state violations of due process . The ‘outer circle’ numbering a few million citizens are ‘on file’ as ‘persons of interest’, which may involve monitoring their e-mail and periodic ‘checks’ on their petition signing and defense appeals.

These ‘three circles’ are the central targets of the police state, numbering upward of 40 million US citizens and immigrants - who have not committed any crime. For having exercised their constitutional rights, they have been subjected to various degrees of police state repression and harassment.

The police state, however, has ‘fluid boundaries’ about whom to spy on, whom to arrest and when - depending on whatever arouses the apparatchiks ‘suspicion’ or desire to exercise power or please their superiors at any given moment.

The key to the police state operations of the US in the 21st century is to repress pro-democracy citizens and pre-empt any mass movement without undermining the electoral system, which provides political theater and legitimacy. A police state ‘boundary’ is constructed to ensure that citizens will have little option but to vote for the two pro-police state parties, legislatures and executives without reference to the conduct, conditions and demands of the core, inner and outer circle of victims, critics and activists. Frequent raids, harsh public ‘exemplary’ punishment and mass media stigmatization transmit a message to the passive mass of voters and non-voters that the victims of repression ‘must have been doing something wrong’ or else they would not be under police state repression.

The key to the police state strategy is to not allow its critics to gain a mass base, popular legitimacy or public acceptance. The state and the media constantly drum the message that the activists’ ‘causes’ are not our (American, patriotic) ‘causes’; that ‘their’ pro-democracy activities impede ‘our’ electoral activities; their lives, wisdom and experiences do not touch our workplaces, neighborhoods, sports, religious and civic associations. To the degree that the police-state has ‘fenced in’ the inner circles of the pro-democracy activists, they have attained a free hand and uncontested reach in deepening and extending the boundaries of the authoritarian state. To the degree that the police state rationale or presence has penetrated the consciousness of the mass of the US population, it has created a mighty barrier to the linking of private discontent with public action.

Hypothesis on Mass Complicity and Acquiescence with the Police State

If the police-state is now the dominant reality of US political life, why isn’t it at the center of citizen concern? Why are there no pro-democracy popular movements? How has the police state been so successful in ‘fencing off’ the activists from the vast majority of US citizens? After all, other countries at other times have faced even more repressive regimes and yet the citizens rebelled. In the past, despite the so-called ‘Soviet threat’, pro-democracy movements emerged in the US and even rolled back a burgeoning police state. Why does the evocation of an outside ‘Islamic terrorist threat’ seem to incapacitate our citizens today? Or does it?

There is no simple, single explanation for the passivity of the US citizens faced with a rising omnipotent police state. Their motives are complex and changing and it is best to examine them in some detail.

One explanation for passivity is that precisely the power and pervasiveness of the police state has created deep fear, especially among people with family obligations, vulnerable employment and with moderate commitments to democratic freedoms. This group of citizens is aware of cases where police powers have affected other citizens who were involved in critical activities, causing job loss and broad suffering and are not willing to sacrifice their security and the welfare of their families for what they believe is a ‘losing cause’ – a movement lacking a strong popular base and with little institutional support. Only when the protest against the Wall Street bailout and the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movements against the ‘1%’ gained momentum, did this sector express transitory support. But as the Office of the President consummated the bailout and the police-state crushed the ‘Occupy’ encampments, fear and caution led many sympathizers to withdraw timidly back into passivity.

The second motive for ‘acquiescence’ among a substantial public is because they tend to support the police state, based on their acceptance of the anti-terror ideology and its virulent anti-Muslim-anti-Arab racism, driven in large part by influential sectors of pro-Israel opinion makers. The fear and loathing of Muslims, cultivated by the police state and mass media, was central to the post-9/11 build-up of Homeland Security and the serial wars against Israel’s adversaries, including Iraq, Lebanon, Libya and now Syria with plans for Iran. Active support for the police state peaked during the first 5 years post- 9/11 and subsequently ebbed as the Wall Street-induced economic crisis, loss of employment and the failures of government policy propelled concerns about the economy far ahead of support for the police state. Nevertheless, at least one-third of the electorate still supports the police state, ‘right or wrong’. They firmly believe that the police state protects their ‘security’; that suspects, arrestees, and others under watch ‘must have been doing something illegal’. The most ardent backers of the police state are found among the rabid anti-immigrant groups who support arbitrary round-ups, mass deportations and the expansion of police powers at the expense of constitutional guarantees.

The third possible motive for acquiescence in the police state is ignorance: those millions of US citizens who are not aware of the size, scope and activities of the police state. Their practical behavior speaks to the notion that ‘since I am not directly affected it must not exist’. Embedded in everyday life, making a living, enjoying leisure time, entertainment, sports, family, neighborhoods and concerned only about household budgets … This mass is so embedded in their personal ‘micro-world’ that it considers the macro-economic and political issues raised by the police state as ‘distant’, outside of their experience or interest: ‘I don’t have time’, ‘I don’t know enough’, ‘It’s all ‘politics’ … The widespread apoliticism of the US public plays into its ignoring the monster that has grown in its midst.

Paradoxically as some peoples’ concerns and passive discontent over the economy has grown, it has lessened support for the police state as well as having lessened opposition to it. In other words the police state flourishes while public discontent is focused more on the economic institutions of the state and society. Few, if any, contemporary political leaders educate their constituency by connecting the rise of the police state, imperial wars and Wall Street to the everyday economic issues concerning most US citizens. The fragmentation of issues, the separation of the economic from the political and the divorce of political concerns from individual ones, allow the police state to stand ‘above and outside’ of the popular consciousness , concerns and activities.

State-sponsored fear mongering on behalf of the police state is amplified and popularized by the mass media on a daily basis via propagandistic-‘news’, ‘anti-terrorist’ detective programs, Hollywood’s decades of crass anti-Arab, Islamophobic films. The mass media portrayal of the police state’s naked violations of democratic rights as normal and necessary in a milieu infiltrated by ‘Muslim terrorists’, where feckless ‘liberals’(defenders of due process and the Bill of Rights) threaten national security, has been effective.

Ideologically, the police state depends on identifying the expansion of police powers with ‘national security’ of the passive ‘silent’ majority, even as it creates profound insecurity for an active, critical minority. The self-serving identification of the ‘nation’ and the ‘flag’ with the police state apparatus is especially prominent during ‘mass spectacles’ where ‘rock’, schlock and ‘sports’ infuse mass entertainment with solemn Pledges of Allegiance to uphold and respect the police state and busty be-wigged young women wail nasally versions of the national anthem to thunderous applause. Wounded ‘warriors’ are trotted out and soldiers rigid in their dress uniforms salute enormous flags, while the message transmitted is that police state at home works hand in hand with our ‘men and women in uniform’ abroad. The police state is presented as a patriotic extension of the wars abroad and as such both impose ‘necessary’ constraints on citizen opposition, public criticism and any real forthright defense of freedom.

Conclusion: What is to be done?

The ascendancy of the police state has benefited enormously from the phony bi-partisan de-politicization of repressive legislation, and the fragmentation of socio-economic struggles from democratic dissent. The mass anti-war movements of the early 1990’s and 2001-2003 were undermined (sold-out) by the defection of its leaders to the Democratic Party machine and its electoral agenda. The massive popular immigration movement was taken over by Mexican-American political opportunists from the Democratic Party and decimated while the same Democratic Party, under President Barack Obama, has escalated police state repression against immigrants, expelling millions of Latino immigrant workers and their families.

Historical experience teaches us that a successful struggle against an emerging police state depends on the linking of the socio-economic struggles that engage the attention of the masses of citizens with the pro-democracy, pro-civil liberty, ‘free speech’ movements of the middle classes. The deepening economic crisis, the savage cuts in living standards and working conditions and the fight to save ‘sacred’ social programs (like Social Security and Medicare) have to be tied in with the expansion of the police state. A mass social justice movement, which brings together thousands of anti-Wall Streeters, millions of pro-Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid recipients with hundreds of thousands of immigrant workers will inevitably clash with the bloated police-state apparatus. Freedom is essential to the struggle for social justice and the mass struggle for social justice is the only basis for rolling back the police state. The hope is that mass economic pain will ignite mass activity, which, in turn, will make people aware of the dangerous growth of the police state. A mass understanding of this link will be essential to any advance in the movement for democracy and people’s welfare at home and peace abroad.

The Kitchen Sink / New House Flipping Shows Coming to CNBC
« on: July 26, 2012, 07:12:21 AM »
This caused me to spit my coffee out and LOL - from Forbes, "CNBC to Promote House Flipping":

Market Flambe / Another MFing Global Cockroach
« on: July 09, 2012, 02:17:34 PM »
I suppose there will be many more roaches to come...

NFA shuts PFG down, puts it in liquidation only status, founder attempted a suicide
Jul 9 2012
Posted by Michael Greenberg in Brokers

Another MF Global incident may be looming in the horizon. PFG Best just released this dramatic statement to its clients:

“Due to a recent emergency involving Russell R. Wasendorf, Sr., a suicide attempt, some accounting irregularities are being investigated regarding company accounts. PFGBEST is wholly owned by Mr. Wasendorf. Therefore, the NFA and other officials have put all funds on hold, and PFGBEST is in liquidation-only status with our clearing FCM. What this means is no customers are able to trade except to liquidate positions. Until further notice, PFGBEST is not authorized to release any funds. We will update you as any new procedures are stipulated and with any further information as it becomes available.”

Apparently NFA and CFTC just walked into PFG’s offices and shut the broker down. According to our sources its Founder Russell Wasendorf attempted a suicide last night and some money may be missing from PFG’s accounts.

We’ll continue updating once new information flows in.

Geopolitics / SCO as a counter to NATO?
« on: May 19, 2012, 07:32:43 AM »
Interesting timing for the SCO's launch of their "new mechanism"...surely just a coincidence ;D
Russia and China are currently members with India and Pakistan joining the party soon.  That's a lotta nukes.

SCO as a counter to NATO?
May 16, 2012
Andrei Ilyashenko, RIR

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is in for major changes, judging by the outcomes of the meeting of SCO foreign ministers in China’s capital ahead of the SCO summit scheduled to be held in Beijing on June 6-7.

The SCO was designed in the 1990s as an institution to build up confidence between Russia, China and four Central Asian countries – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – primarily in the military sector. The SCO member states were united by the common threat of Islamic fundamentalism, kindled by the dominance of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Shanghai Cooperation Organization trapped in identity searches
However, in the early 2000s, the SCO shifted its focus to combating international terrorism and drug trafficking, as well as cooperation in economic and humanitarian areas. The organization held reasonable, well-balanced positions on international issues and pursued a very cautious policy, never giving analysts reasons to treat it as a serious political, let alone military alliance. India, Pakistan, Iran and Mongolia joined the SCO as observers, while Belarus and Sri Lanka became “dialogue partners.”

But times have changed, and the SCO has changed along with them. The crises in the Middle East, including those triggered by the Arab Spring, the role that Western countries played there, and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, and more importantly, from Afghanistan, called for a major revision to the SCO’s approaches and prompted the organization to step up its foreign policy efforts.

As it appears from the speech Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov delivered at the recent Shanghai meeting, from now on, the SCO will formulate a common policy for all its participants if crises should emerge in the region. It appears that the new mechanism will be launched as early as next month, on the eve of an international conference on Afghanistan, slated for June 14 in Kabul.

“The situation in Afghanistan and around it raises major concerns. We should actively participate in all international discussions on Afghanistan-related problems, coordinating our positions,” Lavrov said. The SCO will obviously take into consideration the decisions of the NATO summit in Chicago, which will take place during the final week of May and address the situation in that country.

Previous statements by the Russian Foreign Ministry made it clear that the nature of the U.S. and NATO military presence in Afghanistan will top the agenda. Moscow and Beijing argue against the continued presence of foreign troops, whose functions go well beyond mere policing there. Moscow would also like to hear a report on the implementation of the UN resolution that served as the basis for carrying out the military campaign in Afghanistan. The SCO’s consolidated position will substantially support the efforts of Russia and China in this area.

Moscow and Beijing’s demands will be backed even more strongly if the number of SCO member states or associated countries grows. During the recent meeting, Lavrov called for approving the SCO membership requests filed by India and Pakistan. Furthermore, the organization is close to deciding in favor of giving Afghanistan observer status and making Turkey a dialogue partner.

It’s impossible not to notice that the SCO has gone beyond the scope of regional problems.

At the meeting in Beijing, the draft final declaration of the SCO member states was adopted. According to RIA Novosti sources in the Russian delegation, the document condemns the U.S. anti-ballistic missile program. RIA Novosti quotes a part of the document, which reads that unilateral unlimited expansion of the anti-ballistic missile system may damage international security and strategic stability. This statement clearly supports Moscow’s efforts to deter the U.S. anti-ballistic missile plans, which, if implemented, may devalue Russia’s strategic potential. However, China is also interested in deterring the U.S., as its nuclear forces are even more vulnerable.

A consolidated SCO position on anti-ballistic missile systems has the potential to become a significant counterweight to NATO’s plans in this area.

However, judging by the published documents and statements, there are no plans to give the SCO military and defence functions. It is possible, though, as the newspaper Kommersant reported, that some additional instruments are contained in the strategy for further development of the organization, which will have to be approved by the heads of the SCO states. The essence of the strategy remains undisclosed, since it is still under negotiation.

Geopolitics / The Energy Wars Heat Up
« on: May 12, 2012, 08:37:47 AM »
From the Frosbite Falls Insider "i remember long ago another starry night like this" thread:
Quote from: nobody
I've been thinking about war.  Does anyone want to talk about it?  I believe everyone even looking at this site is in agreement about the high likelihood of war now.

Don't know if you were serious - if yes, I thought I'd post the article below as it appears to have a few potential "discussion starters".  I personally think there is as likely a chance of conflict breaking out over water resources as oil resources...but this article is on the oil perspective:

The Energy Wars Heat Up
By Michael T Klare

Conflict and intrigue over valuable energy supplies have been features of the international landscape for a long time. Major wars over oil have been fought every decade or so since World War I, and smaller engagements have erupted every few years; a flare-up or two in 2012, then, would be part of the normal scheme of things.

Instead, what we are now seeing is a whole cluster of oil-related clashes stretching across the globe, involving a dozen or so countries, with more popping up all the time. Consider these flash-points as signals that we are entering an era of intensified conflict over energy.

From the Atlantic to the Pacific, Argentina to the Philippines, here are the six areas of conflict - all tied to energy supplies - that have made news in just the first few months of 2012.

complete article here

Geopolitics / Water Wars
« on: May 04, 2012, 06:28:50 AM »
IMHO, I think water issues are as likely as any other issue to spark conflict between countries in the near future…

Solve Water Problems Or Forget Growth, India Told

Author: Catherine Hornby

India's economic growth and political stability are at stake in coming years if it does not change its approach to water management, a member of its natural resources planning commission told Reuters on Monday.

Mihir Shah, who has been asked by India's government to come up with a new water resource strategy, said the sector needed to become more sustainable, efficient and focused on how water is used and how it reaches people.

"If this is not attended to, India's growth story will completely go off the rails," Shah said during an interview at the Global Water Summit 2012 conference in Rome.

"There will be water conflicts, conflicts between users, across regions, they will become very serious and a threat to the democratic fabric itself," he said, adding that neighboring Pakistan and Bangladesh faced similar challenges.

Water limits are close to being breached in several countries, while food output has to increase by up to 100 percent by 2050 to sustain a growing world population, according to the United Nations.

India's economy is seen growing about 7 percent in 2012 and 2013, down from the 8.4 percent levels of the last two years, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said this month.

It is one of the world's fastest growing economies, but development is uneven and millions still live in poverty in rural areas and urban slums with limited access to clean water and sanitation facilities.

The World Bank says key problems in India's water sector include data secrecy, competition for resources, too much focus on increasing supply and not enough on management.

Shah said India had reached a plateau in terms of water resource exploitation, with few options for the construction of new dams, and ground water also depleting.

"We can't expand in a quantitative sense so we have to expand by using our water more carefully," he said.

His plans include improving data collection on the location and types of water resources, promoting water-saving farming technologies, developing sewage treatment facilities alongside water projects, and establishing a national monitoring body and a new legal framework for the sector.

"The overexploitation of aquifers has gone beyond anything imaginable and we need a new ground water law," he said, adding that it would discourage water use deemed detrimental to the public interest.

The proposals are part of a five-year plan but he expected it would take up to 20 years for the changes to become fully entrenched.

Shah said the reform of the sector presented many opportunities for private investors, particularly in new irrigation technology and in urban sewage projects to meet the needs of expanding populations in small towns.

Conspiracy / Shock Doctrine in Libya?
« on: April 20, 2012, 03:31:37 PM »
'Huge' water resource exists under Africa

So this should be good news for the 300 million people in Africa that currently do not have access to safe drinking water.

Maybe not:

<a href=";feature=player_detailpage" target="_blank" class="new_win">;feature=player_detailpage</a>

From the BBC article:

"Where there's greatest ground water storage is in northern Africa, in the large sedimentary basins, in Libya, Algeria and Chad,"

Looks like Libya is sitting on top of a lot of “blue gold” as well as “black gold”…and chaos has been forced upon the people in this country. 

Why does this make me think of Shock Doctrine when I haven’t even read the book (yet)?   I’ve only read the description and a couple of reviews.   Could this (Libya) be Shock Doctrine in practice?

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