AuthorTopic: The Surlynewz Channel  (Read 521671 times)

Offline Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 14504
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
Tide Thefts, Cargo Hijacking And Cattle Rustling: Why Is An Epidemic Of Thievery
« Reply #480 on: November 05, 2013, 03:20:41 AM »
In my neighborhood, small gaggles of neighbors discuss a recent rash of burglaries and robberies in hushed tones. They share "Did you hear about..." stories.

It never occurs to them that the policies that they so vociferously support may have a hand in their discomfort.

Tide Thefts, Cargo Hijacking And Cattle Rustling: Why Is An Epidemic Of Thievery Sweeping America?
 By Michael Snyder, on November 3rd, 2013
     

Desperate people do desperate things, and it appears that Americans are rapidly becoming a lot more desperate.  An epidemic of thievery is sweeping across America, and authorities are not quite sure what to make of it.  Down in Texas, cattle thieves can get up to $1,500 per head of cattle, and cattle rustling was up nearly 40 percent last year.  As you will read about below, cargo hijacking is becoming much more sophisticated, and it is being estimated that losses from cargo thefts will total about $216 million this year alone.  And for some reason, Tide laundry detergent has become a very hot commodity among common criminals all across America.  In fact, it is being reported that some grocery stores are "losing $10,000 to $15,000 a month" as a result of Tide thefts.  So why is all of this happening?  Well, as I have written about previously, crime is on the rise in the United States, and poverty is absolutely exploding.  In fact, according to the latest numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, 49.2 percent of all Americans are receiving benefits from at least one government program each month.  Over the past five years, we have seen an unprecedented rise in the number of people that cannot take care of themselves without help from the government.  Millions upon millions of Americans that have been forced into poverty are becoming increasingly angry, frustrated and desperate.  And what we are watching right now is only just the beginning - all of this is going to get a whole lot worse.

When people think of the "social decay" that is happening to America, most of the time Texas and Oklahoma would not be the first places that come to mind.  But according to NPR, there was nearly a 40 percent rise in the theft of cows and horses down in that area of the country last year...

Ranchers saw a sharp jump in cattle rustling last year in Texas and Oklahoma. Over 10,000 cows and horses were reported missing or stolen. That’s an almost 40 percent increase from the year before. It’s a trend that’s surprised some in law enforcement.

And this is happening even though the penalties for cattle rustling have gotten much stronger...

Penalties against rustlers were toughened by Texas lawmakers in 2009. Now, the crime could put you in prison for up to 10 years. But ironically more and more cattle have gone missing or stolen since that law was passed.

Another trend that is baffling law enforcement authorities is the huge wave of cargo hijackings that they have been seeing.  According to a recent CBS News article, cargo thefts are becoming a lot more elaborate these days...

To steal huge shipments of valuable cargo, thieves are turning to a deceptively simple tactic: They pose as truckers, load the freight onto their own tractor-trailers and drive away with it.

It’s an increasingly common form of commercial identity theft that has allowed con men to make off each year with millions of dollars in merchandise, often food and beverages. And experts say the practice is growing so rapidly that it will soon become the most common way to steal freight.

You may not think that stealing truckloads of walnuts or cheese is a big deal, but the truth is that the dollar values of some of these thefts are absolutely staggering...

News reports from across the country recount just a few of the thefts: 80,000 pounds of walnuts worth $300,000 in California, $200,000 of Muenster cheese in Wisconsin, rib-eye steaks valued at $82,000 in Texas, $25,000 pounds of king crab worth $400,000 in California.

And this is not just happening in a few isolated locations.  We are literally seeing an epidemic of cargo theft that stretches from coast to coast...

Although cargo thieves prey on companies across the nation, the hot spots are places with shipping ports or rail hubs. California leads the nation. Large numbers of thefts have also been reported in Texas, Florida, New Jersey, Michigan, Illinois, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

Perhaps most fascinating of all is the wave of Tide thefts that is sweeping the nation.  The following is an excerpt from a New York Magazine article from earlier this year...

The call that came in from a local Safeway one day in March 2011 was unlike any the Organized Retail Crime Unit of the Prince George’s County Police Department had fielded before. The grocery store, located in suburban Bowie, Maryland, had been robbed repeatedly. But in every incident the only products taken were bottles—many, many bottles—of the liquid laundry detergent Tide. “They were losing $10,000 to $15,000 a month, with people just taking it off the shelves,” recalls Sergeant Aubrey Thompson, who heads the team. When Thompson and his officers arrived to investigate, they stumbled onto another apparent Tide theft in progress and busted two men who’d piled 100 or so of the bright-orange jugs into their Honda. The next day, Thompson returned to the store’s parking lot to tape a television interview about the crimes. A different robber took advantage of the distraction to make off with twenty more bottles.

So why are criminals so interested in Tide detergent?

Well, apparently it is heavily used as currency in the drug trade...

Southern California authorities say it’s a dirty business and a bizarre trend – drug users trading Tide detergent for crack.

The Riverside Press-Enterprise says it’s a nationwide problem – people are stealing the popular but expensive detergent and trading it for marijuana and crack cocaine.

San Bernardino police Sgt. Travis Walker says detectives raiding dope houses in recent years were puzzled when they found lots of Tide. Turns out it wasn’t being used to make drugs but to buy them.

We live at a time when an increasing number of Americans will do just about anything for money.

Down in Florida, one mother was so desperate for money that she was actually prostituting her three teenage daughters.  Two of them were under the age of 18...

A St. Cloud mother was picked up Thursday on charges of serving as her three teenage daughters' madam in a West U.S. Highway 192 prostitution ring, according to the Osceola County Sheriff's Office.

At 2:30 p.m., Paula Howard flagged down an undercover detective acting as a "John" in front of a bus stop and arranged for him to have sex with one of her girls, ages 16, 17, and 18, an arrest record states.

The daughter agreed to perform the act for $20 and hopped into the car, telling the detective, "Oh yea. That's my family, but don't even worry about it. They know what I do," the report states.

But haven't you heard?

Everything is just fine in America.  Barack Obama and the mainstream media keep telling us that over and over, so it must be true.

Right?

I think that we got a glimpse into the true condition of America last month when a "technical glitch" caused the system that processes food stamp card payments to malfunction for a couple of hours.  A Time Magazine article described what happened at one Wal-Mart in Louisiana...

Customers cleared shelves and police were called in to control crowds taking advantage of suddenly unlimited spending allowed on their Electronic Benefits Transfer cards, which are issued to recipients of government food stamps. Spending limits on the cards were reportedly disabled for about two hours.

When a store in Springhill, La., announced over the loudspeaker that the glitch was fixed, shoppers simply abandoned loaded carts, according to Springhill Police Chief Will Lynd.

And similar "mini-riots" happened in a bunch of other locations as well.

For example, customers at one Wal-Mart in Mississippi just started taking groceries out of the store that they hadn't paid for when their food stamp cards were not accepted...

Customers staged a disturbance then walked out of a Mississippi Walmart store with groceries that hadn’t been paid for Saturday night after a computer glitch left them unable to use their food stamp cards.

People in 17 states found themselves unable to buy groceries with their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program cards after a routine check by vendor Xerox Corp. resulted in a temporary system failure.

Shortly after the mini-riot, managers decided to temporarily close the store, citing customer safety.

Keep in mind that all of this was caused by a "technical glitch" that only lasted for a few hours.

What would happen if there was a problem that lasted for much longer?

That is a sobering thing to think about.

And as I wrote about recently, all 47 million Americans on food stamps just had their benefits reduced on November 1st.  This is causing food banks all across the country to brace for a huge influx of needy people...

Food banks across the country, stretched thin in the aftermath of the recession, are bracing for more people coming through their doors in the wake of cuts to the federal food stamp program.

Food stamp benefits to 47 million Americans were cut starting Friday as a temporary boost to the federal program comes to an end without new funding from a deadlocked Congress.

Under the program, known formally as the Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program, or SNAP, a family of four that gets $668 per month in benefits will find that amount cut by $36.

In fact, the president of the Food Bank for New York City says that members of her organization "are panicking"...

As president of the Food Bank for New York City, Margaret Purvis expects those cuts will draw even more people to organizations that already provide 400,000 meals a day to hungry city folks.

"Our members are panicking," she said as time wound down before the benefit decreases go into effect. "We're telling everyone to make sure that you are prepared for longer lines."

Purvis also told Salon.com that "when people cannot afford to eat food" it has the potential to start "riots"...

“If you look across the world, riots always begin typically the same way: when people cannot afford to eat food,” Margarette Purvis, the president and CEO of the Food Bank for New York City, told Salon Monday. Purvis said that the looming cut would mean about 76 million meals “that will no longer be on the plates of the poorest families” in NYC alone – a figure that outstrips the total number of meals distributed each year by the Food Bank for New York City, the largest food bank in the country. “There will be an immediate impact,” she said.

So will we see riots as a result of these food stamp cuts?

No, I do not believe that we will see riots yet.

But the volcano of anger, frustration and desperation that is simmering just below the surface of this country continues to get hotter.

Someday it will explode.

What will you do when that happens?
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 14504
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
Tepco Tore Down the Natural Seawall Which Would Have Protected Fukushima
« Reply #481 on: November 05, 2013, 03:32:29 AM »
Tepco Tore Down the Natural Seawall Which Would Have Protected Fukushima from the Tsunami--

Tsunami Wouldn’t Have Taken Out the Reactors If Tepco Had Left the Natural Seawall In Place.
http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/11/tepco-destroyed-the-natural-seawall-which-would-have-protected-fukushima-from-the-tsunami.html

[Go to original to follow the many embedded links.]

The Wall Street Journal noted in 2011:

 

When Tokyo Electric Power Co. broke ground on the now defunct Fukushima Daiichi nuclear-power station 44 years ago, the utility made a fateful construction decision that raised the plant’s vulnerability to the tsunami that ultimately crippled its reactors.

In 1967, Tepco chopped 25 meters off the 35-meter natural seawall where the reactors were to be located, according to documents filed at the time with Japanese authorities. That little-noticed action was taken to make it easier to ferry equipment to the site and pump seawater to the reactors. It was also seen as an efficient way to build the complex atop the solid base of bedrock needed to better protect the plant from earthquakes.

But the razing of the cliff also placed the reactors five meters below the level of 14- to 15-meter tsunami hitting the plant March 11, triggering a major nuclear disaster resulting in the meltdown of three reactor cores.

***

At the time, a 35-meter seaside cliff running the length of the property was a prominent feature of the site.

But Tepco outlined its intention to clear away about two-thirds of the bluff in its official request for permission from the government to build its first nuclear plant, according to a copy of the application reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

“While the tsunami countermeasures at Fukushima Daiichi were considered sufficient when the plant was constructed, the fact that those defenses were overwhelmed is something that we take very seriously,” said Kouichi Shiraga, a public-affairs official at Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.

***

The destruction of that natural tsunami barrier at the Fukushima Daiichi site contrasts starkly with later decisions in the 1970s to build the nearby Fukushima Daini and Onagawa nuclear-power plants at higher elevations. Despite being rocked by the massive March earthquake, both of those plants’ reactors achieved “cold shutdowns” shortly after the tsunami struck and thereby avoided the damage wreaked upon the crippled Daiichi plant.

Both of those plants, located along the same coastline as Daiichi, survived primarily because they were built at higher elevations, on top of floodwalls that came with the landscape. As a result, the tsunami didn’t result in an extended loss of power at those plants, allowing their operators to quickly cool active reactors and avoid meltdowns.

Tepco’s 1966 application for permission to start construction at Daiichi … did review tsunami history in a three-page list of seismic activity dating from 1273. In that chart, Tepco does reference a tsunami of unspecified height that struck the immediate area of Daiichi in 1677. It destroyed 1,000 homes and killed 300 people.

The application cites typhoons as the bigger threat, noting an 8-meter-tall wave generated in 1960. “Most large waves in this coastal area are the product of strong winds and low pressure weather patterns, such as Typhoon No. 28 in February of 1960, which produced peak waves measured at 7.94 meters,” it stated.

A former senior Tepco executive involved in the decision-making says there were two main reasons for removing the cliff. First, a lower escarpment made it easier to deliver heavy equipment used in the plant, such as the reactor vessels, turbines and diesel generators, all of which were transported to the site by sea. Second, the design of the plant required seawater to keep the reactor cool, which was facilitated by a shorter distance to the ocean.

“It would have been a very difficult and major engineering task to lift all that equipment up over the cliff,” says Masatoshi Toyota, 88 years old, the former top Tepco executive who helped oversee the building of the reactors at Fukushima Daiichi. “For similar reasons, we figured it would have been a major endeavor to pump up seawater from a plateau 35 meters above sea level,” he said in a telephone interview.

***

“Of course there is no record of big tsunami damage there because there was a high cliff at the very same spot” to prevent it, said Mr. Oike, the seismologist on the investigation committee.

And Daiichi’s lower elevation contrasted with plants that were built in the following years along the same coast.

***

The Onagawa site, 60 miles north of Daiichi, was selected in large part because of its height beyond the reach of any recorded tsunami, according to a former executive at a Japanese manufacturer involved in the work.

Many Other Negligent Or Criminal Errors

Tepco has made many other negligent or criminal errors:

Engineers warned Tepco and the Japanese government many years before the accident that the reactors were seismically unsafe … and that an earthquake could wipe them out.  For example, the team of engineers sent in to inspect found that most of these components could “completely and utterly fail” during an earthquake. But Tepco covered this up
The Fukushima reactors were fatally damaged before the tsunami hit … the earthquake took them out even before the tidal wave hit
Tepco admitted to repeatedly falsifying safety tests. Tepco covered up cracked reactor core containment vessel and other serious problems for decades
An official Japanese government investigation concluded that the Fukushima accident was a “man-made” disaster, caused by “collusion” between government and Tepco and bad reactor design
Tepco knew right after the 2011 accident that 3 nuclear reactors had lost containment, that the nuclear fuel had “gone missing”, and that there was in fact no real containment at all. Tepco has desperately been trying to cover this up for 2 and a half years … instead pretending that the reactors were in “cold shutdown”
Tepco just admitted that it’s known for 2 years that massive amounts of radioactive water are leaking into the groundwater and Pacific Ocean
Tepco – with no financial incentive to actually fix things – has only been pretending to clean it up. And see this
Tepco has been directly hiring Yakuza gang members from criminal shell companies as a regular, ongoing practice
Tepco’s recent attempts to solidify the ground under the reactors using chemicals has backfired horribly. And NBC News notes: “[Tepco] is considering freezing the ground around the plant. Essentially building a mile-long ice wall underground, something that’s never been tried before to keep the water out. One scientist I spoke to dismissed this idea as grasping at straws, just more evidence that the power company failed to anticipate this problem … and now cannot solve it.”
Letting Tepco remove the fuel rods is like letting a convicted murderer perform delicate brain surgery on a VIP.

Top scientists and government officials say that Tepco should be removed from all efforts to stabilize Fukushima. An international team of the smartest engineers and scientists should handle this difficult “surgery”.

Paul Gunter of Beyond Nuclear (who sent us the Wall Street Journal article) sums it up pretty well:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/5XD3EuTKzcQ?feature=player_embedded" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/5XD3EuTKzcQ?feature=player_embedded</a>
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 14504
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
A contemporary rewrite of Pastor Niemöller's poem
« Reply #482 on: November 05, 2013, 03:46:10 AM »
Stand Together Now Or You Will End Up Facing the Police State Alone …
Posted on November 4, 2013 by WashingtonsBlog
Hiding Your Head In the Sand Doesn’t Work …

[click link to go to original, for embedded links]


Preface: German pastor Martin Niemöller initially supported Hitler. But he later opposed him, and was imprisoned in the Dachau concentration camp for years.

Niemöller learned the hard way that keep your head down doesn’t keep one out of trouble … in the long run, it increases the danger to all of us.

Niemöller wrote a brilliant poem – First They Came – about the manner in which Germans allowed Nazi abuses by failing to protest the abuse of “others” … first gypsies, gays, communists, and Jews, then Catholics … and eventually everyone.

This is my modern interpretation of Niemöller’s poem …

 

First they tortured a U.S. citizen and gang member …
I remained silent;
I wasn’t a criminal

Then they tortured a U.S. citizen, whistleblower and navy veteran …
I remained silent;
I wasn’t a whistleblower

Then they locked up an attorney for representing accused criminals …
I remained silent;
I wasn’t a defense attorney

Then they arrested a young father walking with his son simply because he told Dick Cheney that he disagreed with his policies …
I remained silent;
I’ve never talked to an important politician

Then they said an entertainer should be killed because she questioned the government’s version of an important historical event …
I remained silent;
I wasn’t an entertainer

Then they arrested people for demanding that Congress hold the President to the Constitution …
I did not speak out;
I’ve never protested in Washington

Then they arrested a man for holding a sign …
I held my tongue;
I’ve never held that kind of sign

Then they broke a minister’s leg because he wanted to speak at a public event …
I said nothing;
I wasn’t a religious leader

Then they shot a student with a taser gun and arrested him for asking a question of a politician at a public event …
I remained silent;
I wasn’t a student

Then they started labeling virtually every innocent and normal behavior as marking Americans as “potential terrorists” …
I remained silent;
I didn’t want to be called a terrorist

Then they threw political dissenters in psychiatric wards …
I remained silent;
I didn’t want to be seen as crazy

Then they declared that they could label U.S. citizens living on U.S. soil as “unlawful enemy combatants” and imprison them indefinitely without access to any attorney …
I remained silent;
I didn’t want to be labeled an enemy

Then they assassinated an American citizen without any court trial
And they killed his son because he should have had a “far more responsible father” …
I remained silent;
I live on American soil

Then they declared that they could assassinate U.S. citizens living on U.S. soil without any due process of law (update) …
I remained silent;
I didn’t want to be on the list

Then they forced down the airplane carrying the president of a sovereign nation, because they were looking for a whistleblower
I remained silent;
I’m not a foreign leader

Then they called for the founder of an independent publisher to be killed by drone
I remained silent;
I don’t want to worry about drone strikes against me

Then they started spying on all Americans, even though top experts say that doesn’t protect us from terrorism
I remained silent;
I didn’t want to call even more attention to myself from the spies

Then they charged the partner of an investigative journalist with terrorism for transporting whistleblowing documents to the journalist regarding illegal NSA spying
I remained silent;
My wife isn’t a journalist

When they came for me,
Everyone was silent;
there was no one left to speak out.

Postscript: I originally wrote this poem in 2007. I have updated it with additional verses as current events have unfolded.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

nobody

  • Guest
Re: The Week that Was in Doom- The Surlynewz Column
« Reply #483 on: November 05, 2013, 06:06:21 AM »
I like your poem, Surly, because I like you.  What's not to like?  Smart as hell, all sorts of historical recall, a great friend, a good citizen now when a good citizen has to be redefined; a fine and beloved man.  It's a privilege to talk occsionally with you and others here.  It's great.

I never get tired of being reminded of the greatness you remind me of.  You still embody the best of the sixties and there's been so much fog generated since then.  I listen to you.  I remember what you say and I remember too, the way we felt back then.  We will stand up and we are not silent here.  We will be heard.  But it's time.  I hear you.

Offline Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 14504
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
Re: The Week that Was in Doom- The Surlynewz Column
« Reply #484 on: November 05, 2013, 06:28:26 AM »
I like your poem, Surly, because I like you.  What's not to like?  Smart as hell, all sorts of historical recall, a great friend, a good citizen now when a good citizen has to be redefined; a fine and beloved man.  It's a privilege to talk occasionally with you and others here.  It's great.

I never get tired of being reminded of the greatness you remind me of.  You still embody the best of the sixties and there's been so much fog generated since then.  I listen to you.  I remember what you say and I remember too, the way we felt back then.  We will stand up and we are not silent here.  We will be heard.  But it's time.  I hear you.

Dear friend, I need to hasten to point out that I did not write them poem-- I found it on Washington's Blog.

It resonated with me because Niemoller has been cited so many times in the past few years as we slide into corporo-state fascism and man made destruction of the ecology.

Our grandchildren will curse our selfishness. But it is not too late to take small, reasonable steps toward creating another world. Those discussions we enjoy here by JD, Eddie and others regarding permaculture are but one such. The SUN project another.

If we abandon hope, and faith, we become victims. Don't know about you, but I'm going down swinging.



"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 14504
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
Where were you when they told us the world as we know it is over?
« Reply #485 on: November 05, 2013, 08:24:42 AM »
This one is a must read, respectfully submitted.

Read this when climate change denialists and drill-baby-drill energy cornucopianists make their case for "don't worry, be happy," and accuse you of replacing the end times eschatology of a Marshall Applewhite with one from Guy McPherson.

Refer to this when "some say" the "jury is still out..."

Visit the respective sites for the IPCC and, say, CO2Science and determine for yourself the level of science behind their work. Do your own homework and investigate the funding for the respective sites.

And remember that, by its own admission, the IPCC's own estimates are conservative.
Quote
Why are the IPCC estimates so important?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was formed by the United Nations Environment Programme and the  the World Meteorological Organization.  It operates as a consensus panel of scientists from around the world.  They assess and apply huge volumes of research on climate change.  By its structure, the requirement for consensus translates into mid range rather than leading edge analysis.

One of the raps on IPCC is that its reports tend to underestimate dangers, understate risks, and report only the "lowest common denominator" findings, largely due to the need to seek the aforementioned consensus.

Thus when the IPCC says, in effect, "the world as we know it is over," you'd think maybe we ought to listen, rather than distort, or dissemble.


Where were you when they told us the world as we know it is over?

By Michael Collins, on November 5th, 2013


According to a leaked draft of the upcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC), the world as we know it is over.  The report presents substantial and well documented predictions of global suffering and massive social disruption resulting from the impact climate change on the water supply, food, and natural resources, and successively mounting human loss.  (Image 11/2013 eclipse)

Oddly enough, the recipient of the leak, the New York Times, acted like it was a story about the “food supply.”  In fact, the totality of the draft  makes it clear that we’ve gone too far for too long to avoid the dire consequences of man made climate change.

The documented risks presented include (Climate Change 2014:  Impacts, Adaptations, Vulnerability, IPCC, here or here, pp. 6 & 7):

✓ Food insecurity linked to warming, drought, and precipitation variability;

✓ Death injury and disrupted livelihoods in low-lying coastal zones … due to sea level rise, coastal flooding and storm surges;

✓ Severe harm for large urban populations due to inland flooding;

✓ Systemic risk due to extreme events leading to break down of infrastructure networks and critical services;

✓ Loss of rural livelihoods and income due to insufficient drinking and irrigation water and lower agricultural productivity particularly in poorer regions; and,

✓ Loss of marine and terrestrial ecosystems and the services and livelihoods that they provide

What’s left?

Why are the IPCC estimates so important?

IPCC was formed by the United Nations Environment Programme and the  the World Meteorological Organization.  It operates as a consensus panel of scientists from around the world.  They assess and apply huge volumes of research on climate change.  By its structure, the requirement for consensus translates into mid range rather than leading edge analysis.

Leading scientists warned of a tipping point previously and developed scenarios more intense than offered by IPCC.

Since IPCC concludes that the impact on natural and social systems will be world changing, we can assume that the evidence is overwhelming and the conclusions largely unavoidable (as the draft shows).  The report anticipates criticism by noting that IPCC’s database is substantially larger than that of previous reports.

The Times headlined the IPCC leak with, Climate Change Seen Posing Risk to Food Supplies,  Nov 1 .  The food supply is one among many dire threats outlined in the report.  Food production will be flat or reduced by 2% every ten years through 2100 while the demand for food is projected to increase by 14% a decade until 2050.   Reduced food supply results from degradation of productive land and a lack of water to irrigate crops.  Those factors flow directly from increased average temperatures and extreme weather conditions.

The association between food deprivation and social instability has been demonstrated again and again in recent history.  Food riots are typically based on shortages due to price spikes, poor planning, or temporary crop shortages.

Imagine food riots in response to a permanent reduction in food production.

Further, imagine that there are no outside resources for relief.

The driving force behind the worldwide change comes from increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere due to coal and oil based products.  Once in the atmosphere, the majority of CO2 lingers for 20 to 200 years with the remainder sticking around for hundreds of thousands of years.

Foregone conclusion?

The IPCC report is a matter of scientific consensus.  In as much as possible, the report mentions the likelihood of significant harm reduction as a result of a coordinated effort to reduce the rate of climate change and plan for the levels of disruption already written into the history of the remainder of the century.

The responsibility for the calamities awaiting us needs to be clearly assigned.  When you hear pundits talk about how we’re all responsible,  that represents a misinformed opinion or propaganda by the elites that enabled this most dismal future.

The failure to reach consensus until the apparent point of no return required deliberate denial of the facts as they emerged.  The climate change deniers who argue from no scientific basis other than the title of scientist somewhere receive vast support from those who have no desire to clean up cars, factories, toxic waste production, etc.  The media that claims that there are two sides to every issue are in the service of the financial and political elite that can only imagine a world with shrinking resources and wealth.  Through their lack of imagination, denial, and negligence, they’ve made their vision come true.

It’s their fault.
- See more at: http://agonist.org/told-us-world-know/#sthash.moFRQPYa.dpuf
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Eddie

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 16292
    • View Profile
Re:Where were you?
« Reply #486 on: November 05, 2013, 09:14:36 AM »
You can't help but wonder when the reality will begin to sink in for the general public. And if it does, what will be the reaction? Will there be instant social unrest? Will more people unplug from the matrix and try to build sustainable communities?

Will there be crazy people going postal all over the place? More than there are already, I mean.

I can't help but think that all those bad scenarios could still be mitigated or at least delayed if everyone in the country planted a food garden instead of a lawn. That water shortages could be handled to some degree by collecting more of the rain that does fall.

If the ocean life all  dies, as McPherson believes, I accept that mankind is most likely gonna be toast. But how long will it take to toast those of us who are somewhat prepared? Five months or  five years? Fifty years?

We live in interesting times, that's for sure.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 14504
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
Apropos McPherson, and the oceans dying...



Starfish Along West Coast Are Dying, ‘Star Wasting Disease’ Turns Fish Into ‘Goo’

By Zoe Mintz
on November 04 2013 10:23 AM




Starfish along the West Coast are dying, and marine scientists are struggling to figure out why.

The starfish are stricken with “sea star-wasting disease” that has killed up to 95 percent of the star populations from Alaska to Orange County, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports.

"Their flesh deteriorates and there’s nothing to hold them together," Donna Gibbs, diver and taxonomist at the Vancouver Aquarium, told NBC News. "That’s as technical as it gets right now."

The disease, causes lesions on starfish skin that eventually decay, causing them to lose their arms until they disintegrate and become “goo.” Divers began to notice the starfish deaths off Seattle’s Puget Sound in September.  Starfish in an aquarium at the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary in San Francisco also fell sick.

In 1983-84, the disease hit Southern California, but it wasn’t as widespread as it is now, Pete Raimondi, chairman of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at University of California, Santa Cruz's Long Marine Lab, said.

“We've never seen it at this scale up and down the coast,” Raimondi said.

A team of scientists along with researchers from University of California, Santa Cruz plan on taking samples along the West Coast to qualify the outbreak of the disease over the next three to five months. While the cause remains unknown, the disease typically affects one species of starfish, Pisaster ochraceus, and occurs in warmer waters.

Gary Wessel, a professor at Brown University who's investigating the disease, told NBC News that the disease could be caused by a bacterium or virus rather than a chemical or an environmental factor. While the disease can be contagious between animals, it’s unlikely it would affect humans.

Marine scientists agree that identifying the cause of the devastating disease is hard work.

“When these plagues have occurred in the past, identifying an unknown microorganism -- to say, ‘This is what did it’ -- this is hard work. It’s difficult science,” University of Washington marine ecologist Robert Paine told KUOW Puget Sound Public Radio. “We know there are a gazillion kinds of bacteria and viruses in the ocean.”

Joe Gaydos, a veterinarian from the SeaDoc Society, a wildlife protection program at the University of California, Davis, adds that the disease may be a sign of a larger problem.

“Every population has sick animals,” Gaydos said. “Are we just seeing sick animals because we’re looking for it, or is it an early sign of a large epidemic that may come through and wipe out a lot of animals?”
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Golden Oxen

  • Golden Oxen
  • Contrarian
  • Master Chef
  • *
  • Posts: 12086
    • View Profile
Re:Where were you?
« Reply #488 on: November 05, 2013, 09:55:48 AM »
You can't help but wonder when the reality will begin to sink in for the general public. And if it does, what will be the reaction? Will there be instant social unrest? Will more people unplug from the matrix and try to build sustainable communities?

Will there be crazy people going postal all over the place? More than there are already, I mean.

I can't help but think that all those bad scenarios could still be mitigated or at least delayed if everyone in the country planted a food garden instead of a lawn. That water shortages could be handled to some degree by collecting more of the rain that does fall.

If the ocean life all  dies, as McPherson believes, I accept that mankind is most likely gonna be toast. But how long will it take to toast those of us who are somewhat prepared? Five months or  five years? Fifty years?

We live in interesting times, that's for sure.

Assuming we are correct Eddie.

While on your side of the fence, there is still a sizable body of people, actually a great majority, that think we are as soft as grapes.

Just saying.  :-\

Offline Eddie

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 16292
    • View Profile
Re:Where were you?
« Reply #489 on: November 05, 2013, 11:13:28 AM »
You can't help but wonder when the reality will begin to sink in for the general public. And if it does, what will be the reaction? Will there be instant social unrest? Will more people unplug from the matrix and try to build sustainable communities?

Will there be crazy people going postal all over the place? More than there are already, I mean.

I can't help but think that all those bad scenarios could still be mitigated or at least delayed if everyone in the country planted a food garden instead of a lawn. That water shortages could be handled to some degree by collecting more of the rain that does fall.

If the ocean life all  dies, as McPherson believes, I accept that mankind is most likely gonna be toast. But how long will it take to toast those of us who are somewhat prepared? Five months or  five years? Fifty years?

We live in interesting times, that's for sure.

Assuming we are correct Eddie.

While on your side of the fence, there is still a sizable body of people, actually a great majority, that think we are as soft as grapes.

Just saying.  :-\

The evidence is overwhelming. People don't WANT to believe it. It's completely overwhelming. And the dying hasn't really gotten started good. When it does, everyone is all-of-a-sudden gonna be panicked, and looking for a way to do anything they can to change.

Nothing I'd rather be than wrong on this one. But Guy McPherson is the kind of guy I tend to listen to, not the Koch bros.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline agelbert

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 11653
    • View Profile
    • Renewable Rervolution
Re: The Week that Was in Doom- The Surlynewz Column
« Reply #490 on: November 05, 2013, 08:30:47 PM »
Quote
“Every population has sick animals,” Gaydos said. “Are we just seeing sick animals because we’re looking for it, or is it an early sign of a large epidemic that may come through and wipe out a lot of animals?”

Surly, Thank you for this article. This is FAR more serious than meets the eye.

Quote

WHAT EATS A STARFISH?

What Eats A Starfish? What eats starfish?

What do starfish eat?


To us humans, starfish look like they’d be a bit too hard and crunchy to make a good meal. But starfish do have a few predators, or natural enemies.

Manta rays, some sharks and other large, bony fishes like to pick starfish off the bottom of the ocean, crunch them up and eat them.

In addition, small starfish need to be on the lookout for larger starfish, which will sometimes attack, kill and eat them.

What do starfish eat? Most species eat mussels and other mollusks, or shellfish.
http://www.whateats.com/what-eats-a-starfish


The reason this is so serious is because the mollusks that starfish eat are mainly FILTER FEEDERS. Why is this important (as in OH SHIT! :P)? Because filter feeders are THE life form that concentrates radioactive cesium (taking it up into their muscle tissue). I'll bet you dollars to donuts this is a sign of the Fukushima radioisotopes concentrating in mussels starting to move up the chain of sea life that eats them.

It has begun. The BULLSHIT the nuke pukes were always putting out that the "solution to pollution is dilution" DOES NOT WORK with living sea life that sucks in the radioisotopes and concentrates them because, in nature, the non radioactive elements and the elements these God Damned radioisotopes mimic ARE ESSENTIAL NUTRIENTS! Radioinuclides are the ULTIMATE poison pill disguised as an attractive natural important nutrient. Another "minor detail" the IDIOTS that back nuclear power never have gotten through their greedy skulls. 

"Since caesium does not volatilise from water, transport of caesium from water to the atmosphere is not considered likely,except by windblown sea sprays. Most of the caesium released to water will adsorb to suspended solids in the water column and ultimately be deposited in the sediment core. Caesium can also bioconcentrate and has been shown to bioaccumulate in both terrestrial and aquatic food chains. Mean bioconcentration factors (BCF) for 137Cs of 146, 124, and 63 were reported for fish, brown macroalgae, and molluscs, respectively." :P

http://datasheets.scbt.com/sc-203876.pdf

And radioactive cesium is just ONE of the 57 or so radioinuclides STILL getting pumped into the Pacific ocean. UGH! :emthdown: :emthdown: :emthdown: :'(
« Last Edit: November 05, 2013, 08:36:56 PM by agelbert »
Leges         Sine    Moribus      Vanae   
Faith,
if it has not works, is dead, being alone.

Offline Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 14504
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
Cryptolocker Computer assaults
« Reply #491 on: November 06, 2013, 09:53:16 AM »
Some words about your computer's health-- and yours.

Some of you know that I work for a technology company, with elaborate security precautions for networks, data, and the physical plant. But for all that, some interesting spam has been making the rounds and through our firewalls. Today it was the ‘Payroll Reports’ email.  Yesterday it was an email about an incoming Fax.  The day before, some revenue reports. Last week, an unsolicited resume package . . . It all looks official . . .


As you surely know, never open anything that has a *.zip or *.exe file attached unless you’re absolutely sure it’s from someone you trust....and, more importantly, is something you’re expecting.  In fact, you really shouldn’t open any attachment unless you know the source.  Below is a story regarding malware wreaking havoc on computers around the globe that was sent as both *.zip and *.pdf attachments.  Beware.

http://www.today.com/money/nasty-new-malware-locks-your-files-forever-unless-you-pay-8C11511655

Remember, if it’s really important there’s always a phone or other email follow-up.  So if you delete something by mistake, you can always get it resent.  But if you click on a malicious attachment, as the story outlines, there may be no turning back.

*               *                *

Nasty new malware locks your files forever, unless you pay ransom
Herb Weisbaum NBC News contributor Facebook


Sophos
The criminals behind CryptoLocker deliver their digital ransom note on the victim's computer screen. The typical demand is for $300 or two Bitcoins. Note the yellow countdown clock at the bottom left. It gives the time remaining until the unique decryption key is destroyed and the encrypted files are inaccessible forever. CryptoLocker, a new and nasty piece of malicious software is infecting computers around the world – encrypting important files and demanding a ransom to unlock them.

According to Sophos, the worldwide digital security company, it’s been hitting pretty hard for the past six weeks or so.


“It systematically hunts down every one of your personal files – documents, databases, spreadsheets, photos, videos and music collections – and encrypts them with military-grade encryption and only the crooks can open it,” said Chester Wisniewski, a senior security advisor at Sophos.

Even though it’s infected, your computer keeps working normally; you just can’t access any of your personal files. It’s scary, especially if you haven’t backed-up your data.

“Cybercrime is evolving, as the bad guys get smarter and use newer technologies,” noted Michael Kaiser, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance. “They’re always looking for new ways to steal your money.”

CyrptoLocker is different from other types of “ransomware” that have been around for many years now that freeze your computer and demand payment. They can usually be removed which restores access to your files and documents.

Not CryptoLocker – it encrypts your files. There’s only one decryption key and the bad guys have that on their server. Unless you pay the ransom – within three days, that key will be destroyed. And as the message from the extorters says” “After that, nobody and never will be able to restore files…”

The typical extortion payment is $300 USD or 300 EUR paid by Green Dot MoneyPak, or for the more tech savvy, two Bitcoins, currently worth about $400.

To instill a sense of urgency, a digital clock on the screen counts down from 72 hours to show much time is left before that unique decryption key is destroyed.

One victim described his anguish in an online post: “The virus cleverly targeted …all of our family photos, including all photos of my children growing up over the last 8 years. I have a distraught wife who blames me!”

This sophisticated malware is delivered the old-fashioned way – an executable file hidden inside an attachment that looks like an ordinary ZIP file or PDF. One small business reports being compromised after clicking on an email attachment that was designed to look like a shipping invoice from the U.S. Postal Service.

Open that file and bad things start to happen, although it may take several days for the ransom demand to pop up on your screen after the machine is infected.

“The author or this (malware) is a genius. Evil genius, but genius none the less,” an IT professional commented in an online tech forum. Another wrote, “This thing is nasty and has the potential to do enormous amounts of damage worldwide.”

Good anti-virus software can remove the CryptoLocker malware from your computer, but it cannot undo the damage – the encryption is that good.

“It’s the same type of encryption used in the commercial sector that’s approved by the federal government,” Wisniewski told me. “If the crooks delete that encryption key, your files are gone forever – even the NSA can’t bring them back.”

Victims large and small

The cyber-crooks are targeting both businesses and individual computer users – anyone who will pay to regain access to their files.

The CryptoLocker forum on BleepingComputer.com is filled with page after page of horror stories. Here is a small sample:

“When we discovered the infection from a user’s workstation on the network, this program had encrypted over 180,000 files through the network shares in a period of 6 days. I pretty much shut down the business for 2 days after we realized what was happening.”

“Our company was infected this morning. The virus hit a machine 4 days ago and today we got the pop up about the ransom. All files on the network drive the user had access to are now encrypted.”

“We had a workstation get infected yesterday that encrypted everything on our network share drive. We had backups, although they weren’t recent enough, so despite all feelings against it, we paid the ransom and everything started to decrypt overnight.”

Of course, there’s no guarantee there will be a happy ending if you pay the ransom. And then there’s the bigger issue – by doing this, you’re helping fund a criminal operation.

“It encourages them to continue this bad behavior,” said Howard Schmidt, former White House Cyber Security Advisor and a co-founder of Ridge-Schmidt Cyber. “As people pay the ransom, the bad guys have the money to reinvest in create research that are more virulent and hide better from detection.”

How to protect yourself

Go on the Internet and there’s no way to guarantee malware won’t make it onto your computer – even if you follow all the rules of safe computing. So you need to act defensively, and that means regular backups.

“Backup, back, up, back up,” said Schmidt. “That’s the only way to reduce the risk of losing your files forever.”

If you have a recent backup, you can recover from CryptoLocker and other malware with no serious consequences. That backup should be a snapshot of everything on the system and not a simple synchronization, as happens with most automated external hard drives and many cloud-based services.

With these synchronized backups, stored files that have changed on the master drive are overwritten with the new ones. If a malicious program encrypts your master files, those backups would also be encrypted – and useless. Your backup should be disconnected from your computer until the next time you need to access it.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 14504
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
The Real Lone Ranger
« Reply #492 on: November 07, 2013, 03:45:10 AM »
Just for fun: "The Lone Ranger wasn’t just a legend perpetuated by books, radio shows, television series and movies; he was a real man, a crimefighter who lived with Native Americans in what would become Oklahoma—and he was black."
http://thislandpress.com/roundups/bass-reeves-the-real-lone-ranger/#sthash.yeJp6roN.dpuf



The Lone Ranger wasn’t just a legend perpetuated by books, radio shows, television series and movies; he was a real man, a crimefighter who lived with Native Americans in what would become Oklahoma—and he was black.

“The real ‘Lone Ranger,’ it turns out, was an African American man named Bass Reeves, who the legend was based upon,” Political Blind Spot reported. “Perhaps not surprisingly, many aspects of his life were written out of the story, including his ethnicity. The basics remained the same: a lawman hunting bad guys, accompanied by a Native American, riding on a white horse, and with a silver trademark.”

Born a slave, Bass Reeves escaped during the Civil War, fleeing to what was then Indian Territory to live “harmoniously” among the Seminole and Creek Indians.

“After the Civil War finally concluded, he married and eventually fathered ten children, making his living as a Deputy U.S. Marshal in Arkansas and the Indian Territory,” Political Blind Spot reported. “If this surprises you, it should, as Reeves was the first African American to ever hold such a position.”

Like the legendary Lone Ranger, Reeves handed out pieces of silver—coins, though, not bullets—that would become his trademark. He was a master of disguise, an expert marksman, and he even, for a time, rode a silver horse.
“Like the famed Lone Ranger legend, Reeves had his own close friend like Tonto,” Political Blind Spot reported. “Reeves’ companion was a Native American posse man and tracker who he often rode with, when he was out capturing bad guys. In all, there were close to 3000 of such criminals they apprehended, making them a legendary duo in many regions.”

More from the site:
The final proof that this legend of Bass Reeves directly inspired into the story of the Lone Ranger can be found in the fact that a large number of those criminals were sent to federal prison in Detroit. The Lone Ranger radio show originated and was broadcast to the public in 1933 on WXYZ in Detroit where the legend of Reeves was famous only two years earlier.

A couple of books have been written about Reeves’ life: Vaunda Michaux Nelson won the 2010 Coretta Scott King Award for best author for her book, Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal. Arthur Burton published Black Gun, Silver Star: The Life and Legend of Frontier Marshal Bass Reeves.

This Land has covered Reeves, too, in an excerpt from Michael Wallis’ book Wild West 365.  Wallis wrote:
Quote
Bass Reeves was born a slave and died a hero. … Reeves became fluent in Creek and several other Indian languages and was a master of disguise, a talent he often employed when pursuing criminals.  He also was ambidextrous and could shoot a pistol with great accuracy using either hand.  At a time when unconcealed racism was widespread, the physically imposing Reeves won the respect of his fellow deputies and even some of the outlaws he tracked down and brought to justice.
Read more about Bass Reeves:
Badass of the Week: Bass Reeves
The Life and Times of Deputy U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves at Mental Floss
Bass Reeves: The Real Lone Ranger? at CrimeMuseum.org
Editor’s note: We originally and mistakenly published a photo of James Beckwourth with this story. We regret the error and have corrected it.
- See more at: http://thislandpress.com/roundups/bass-reeves-the-real-lone-ranger/#sthash.yeJp6roN.dpuf
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 14504
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
Selling Corporate Ideology as the 'New American Center'
« Reply #493 on: November 07, 2013, 04:00:32 AM »
Beware: Huge Media Companies Are Selling Corporate Ideology as the 'New American Center'

Esquire and NBC News are pushing a new political demographic that just so happens to be in sync with the priorities of the 1 percent.
November 4, 2013  |     
 

 
 
“IT’S OFFICIAL,” the box on my screen announced in capital letters. “YOU’RE ONE OF THE BLEEDING HEARTS.”

To examine the Esquire/NBC News “New American Center” is to enter a Beltway consultants’ dreamscape, a perceptual interspace where real Americans’ opinions dissolve and are replaced by a chimerical creature whose secret language is only understood by certain insider politicians, corporations and consultants.

That creature’s name is “The Center.”

The survey commissioned by these two news organizations tells us very little about American public opinion. But it tells us a great deal about the insular worlds in which certain journalists and consultants reside.

Pop Quiz

Although there were some interesting nuggets of data in the study, overall it was an ill-conceived venture whose main purpose seemed to be reinforcing a prevailing article of faith inside the Beltway: that there is an undiscovered “center” to American politics, and that finding it will spell success for savvy corporations, candidates and consultants.

I tried to review the poll’s methodology with an open mind. But we’re not told how the study identified the “American Center,” and its architects at the Benenson Strategy Group failed to respond to requests for information.

That organization’s founder, Joel Benenson, became something of a polling legend when he defied the hackneyed pseudo-wisdom of his former mentor Mark Penn and helped guide Barack Obama to an upset victory over Penn’s client in the 2008 primaries. It’s unfortunate, then, that this particular study is packed with the kind of zingy and vacant language for which Penn became notorious. It labels Americans on a left/right axis of Bleeding Hearts, Gospel Left, Minivan Mods, MBA Middle, Pickup Populists, #whateverman, Righteous Right, and Talk Radio Heads. 

By comparison, Penn’s “soccer mom” lingo seems almost profound.

Reviewing the raw data only added to the confusion. Why, for example, did many of the raw-data entries list the leftmost category as “Young Libs” rather than “Bleeding Hearts”? We don’t know—and they’re not saying.

The Unhidden Persuaders

Esquire and NBC News don’t report this study so much as hype it. Disturbingly, these journalists use the same marketing language employed by the consultants who wrote the report. Esquire tells its readers that the “New American Center” is “passionate, persuadable, and very real.” NBC News informs visitors to its website that “the center is real, passionate and persuadable.” (The NBC News piece carries the byline of a “senior staff writer.” The Esquire piece is credited to “The Editors.”)

Meanwhile, over at the Benenson Strategy Group website, project leader Daniel Franklin is quoted as saying that “the Center is dynamic and persuadable”—there’s that word again—“creating an opportunity for politicians and businesses alike to reevaluate how they communicate and connect with the American public.” That sounds like a pitch for corporate clients. Benenson’s past and present clients include Toyota, major drug companies, Shell Oil, and Verizon.

Esquire, in particular, crosses the line into naked huckstering for both this survey and centrist ideology. All the “centrist” buzzwords and catchphrases are there: We're told we must get past the “meaningless labels,” transcend our obsolete “culture war,” conquer the “extreme partisanship of Washington” (no particular party’s held responsible for that), and reconnect with “the actual national mood and values.”

The editors sneer at what they call the “hoary conventional wisdom” that “we as a people are now hopelessly polarized in our culture, our values, and our politics”—an odd stance when promoting a study which slices the public into separate (and rather clichéd) social divisions.

That, too, comes straight from the corporate-centrism playbook: before idealizing your mythical “center,” you must first compartmentalize and trivialize people of both the left and the right. Esquire even offers a “Warren/Cruz scale,” as if popular Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, whose opinions on banking regulation and economic justice poll well with the general public, were somehow comparable to the far-right senator from Texas whose government shutdown crusade has caused a disastrous plunge in his party’s popularity. That isn’t social science or journalism, it’s propaganda.

The sense of marketing hype and political spin is only heightened by the fact we’re told that the Center is allegedly “persuadable,” but is also a majority. That’s right: we’re told that the “New American Center” constitutes 51% of the electorate. That sounds like a corporate-funded centrist’s dream—and a consultant’s meal ticket.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Sometimes the trick is in what you don’t ask.

We’re told that “a majority of those in the center agree with a mix of Republican and Democratic ideas.” But this survey’s respondents were only asked about Republican and Democratic ideas. Pollsters excluded a number of popular, nonpartisan ideas not yet embraced by either party.

A case in point: a recent poll from Lake Research reaffirmed numerous previous studies which found that a vast majority of Americans oppose cuts to Social Security and Medicare. The numbers were overwhelming: 82% of Republicans. 83% of Democrats. 78% of independents. Another survey by the National Academy of Social Insurance found that strong majorities of Americans, across the political spectrum want Social Security benefits increased, and would accept an increase in payroll taxes for themselves as well as the wealthy to pay for it.

But that idea isn’t supported by “centrist” leaders in either party right now, perhaps because it might require higher rates of taxation for the wealthy. Its absence from the public debate is a rebuke to our democratic process, and a sign of big-money corruption.

In short, there’s no basis for claiming that voters want the kind of “Republican/Democratic” hybrid the survey is pushing. The survey attempts to spin dissatisfaction with both parties into a yearning for a hybrid of both parties. Beltway insiders have made that leap of faith before, to disastrous effect. Republican Senator Alan Simpson and Democratic hedge funder Erskine Bowles were paired up to pitch budget cuts to the American people. But their proposal only won the support of a whopping 6% of the electorate when it was introduced. Other such “ecumenical” attempts met with similar failure.

Esquire’s War

The absence of entitlement questions is especially surprising considering Esquire’s long record of concern-trolling on the subject. First there was its hokey “Esquire Deficit Commission,” which the magazine put together under centrist MSNBC Democrat Lawrence O’Donnell. Then there was the magazine’s widely discredited claim to have discovered “the real war on American youth.” (We reviewed both here.)

Esquire’s long-standing intergenerational hostility was evident in 2007, when consultant Heather Smith wrote in the magazine about her experience getting out the youth vote. Smith wrote that young voters “want to see campaigns and politicians or government address … jobs and the economy, health care, affording college, economic issues —things that Washington thinks of as the concerns of the middle-aged middle class.”

That’s a useful insight into the interests and goals which Americans share across the generations. But this was the subheading chosen by Esquire’s editors: “Stop pandering to the geezers and stop ignoring young voters.”

Yet, for all its expressed concern about rapacious geezers, Esquire didn’t request a single question about Social Security. Maybe that’s because Esquire already knows what it thinks.

And maybe that’s why Esquire, in particular, went so far over the top in pushing style “centrism”—a push which begins with the editors’ first sentence and its sneering reference to Jim Hightower as “the legendary hellion populist out of Texas,” adding, in parentheses, “yes, such a beast once roamed the earth.”

In fact, the economic populism represented by Hightower (who is very much alive) can be partially found in a cohort the Esquire study labels “Pickup Populists.” But it’s de rigueur when giving a “centrist” pitch to contemptuously dismiss all that might be considered “left.”

Esquire’s editors overhyped the study, too, making claims even the consultants don’t dare to assert. They even claim that studying their conception of the "Center” provide previously unseen insights about public opinion, adding that this is “precisely what we mean when we talk about the Center: what most Americans actually believe.”

What most Americans actually believe.

That’s quite a claim. And it’s presumably purely coincidental that this undiscovered majority is so sympathetic to the Esquireagenda.

Both Sides Now

The false ideology of Beltway-insiderism can also be found in this Esquire paragraph:

“To be sure that its findings were as far removed from the prevailing political interests as possible, the poll was designed and conducted in ecumenical fashion, by both the Benenson Strategy Group, President Obama's pollster, and Neil Newhouse of Public Opinion Strategies, who conducted the polls for Governor Romney.”

The impartial observer might be more likely to conclude that hiring not one, but two pollsters for mainstream political candidates might be a way to ensure that its findings reflected “the prevailing political interests.”

But that’s corporate-centrist ideology in a nutshell: One politician is a partisan. Two politicians are the American people incarnate.

Neil Newhouse, the Romney pollster who seems to have been something of a silent partner in this enterprise, became known for two things during the 2012 election. He insisted that the Romney campaign “would not be dictated by fact-checkers” after it was criticized for deceptive advertising. He also insisted that Romney would win.

Newhouse is a top Republican consultant. Benenson has been described by GQ as is one of “the fifty most powerful people in DC,” a fact his company website proudly proclaims, alongside a similar accolade—if that’s the right word—from Newsweek. So this piece may merely reflect the biases of longtime insiders. The Benenson Group has done excellent work in the past. We certainly hope this doesn’t reflect its acquisitionby a multinational named WPP, whose websitesays that “WPP companies exist to help their clients compete successfully: in marketing strategy, advertising, every form of marketing communication and in monitoring progress.”

After all, polling is not advertising or “marketing communication.”

Raw

The raw data don’t easily lend themselves to this centrist interpretation. There’s no space here to go through all the issues, so let’s take just one: government regulation. Most Americans are ambivalent about it. The conservative American Enterprise Institute think-tank captured that ambivalence effectively in its 2011 reviewof public opinion on the subject.

The Pew Research Center found in 2012 that most Americans (63%) agree with the statement that “a free-market economy needs government regulation in order to best serve the public interest,” a figure that was essentially unchanged from its 62% level in 2009. But Pew also found that solid majorities believe that government regulation of business“usually does more harm than good” (a finding we would argue is the result of decades’ worth of marketing).

The Esquire/NBC News poll shows that 42% of respondents said they agreed with the statement that “financial reform should only be used to curb abuses, and shouldn’t interfere with banks’ and investors’ ability to make profits.”

That’s a slanted question. A “yes” does not necessarily mean Americans think the government is doing too much regulation, although there are times when Americans do think that. The operative word is still “ambivalence.” But Esquire’s editors nevertheless state unequivocally that the “Center wants the Federal government…to go easy on regulation.”

Other phraseology is equally dicey. Esquiretells us, for example, that “the Center believes that the government should help only those who really need help.” What does that even mean? Who supports helping people who don’t need help? It’s like the old Henny Youngman joke about the Boy Scout who helped old ladies across the street “whether they wanted to cross the street or not.”

Even a “bleeding heart” like me wouldn’t go for that.

The Center and I

Which brings us back to my experience with the online test. Was I reallyon the leftmost periphery of American public opinion. And “un-persuadable” not worthy of attention? I have no problem being on the leftist vanguard, but in this case it seemed hard to believe. After all, those Lake Research findings showed that 82% of Republicans agreed with me on Social Security, just one of many policy areas in which my own economic views seem to reflect the mainstream. Others include taxing the wealthy, doing more to fight poverty, repairing our crumbling infrastructure, taxing corporations at a higher rate, and having the government do more to create jobs.

We don’t seem that different, the Center and I. “The Center doesn’t think of itself as the ‘center,’” we’re told. Same here.

“The Center doesn’t much like how things are going,” say the editors at Esquire. Well, I’m not too thrilled either.

The chimerical “Center” and I would both like to see guns brought under control, and neither of us is thrilled about the role religious institutions are playing in politics. When it comes to the right to choose, the right to choose partners, or the right to burn one down at the end of a hard work day, we pretty much feel the same way: it’s none of our business.

Off-Center

More credible polls suggest that a new economic consensus is forming in this country, one that isn’t very accommodating toward the ideology reflected in this survey. But this new “center” has been divided by social issues. It has been excluded from political decision-making by a Beltway worldview that ignores their needs and their preferences. It’s been stymied by the kind of clichéd thinking which slices up the American people into demographic groups like “Bleeding Hearts” or “Pickup Populists.”

There are nuggets of good data here. It’s helpful to be reminded that Americans are increasingly pessimistic about the future, although that’s not a new finding. It was interesting to see confirmation of a growing populism in the white working-class, and to be reminded that it has stayed aloof from Democrats over social issues. That’s not new information either, but it’s useful for activists and politicians.

It’s time to stop searching for a nonexistent center and start reflecting the needs of a very real majority instead. That majority is inadequately represented in Washington, which is a failure of our democracy. Rather than spin or justify that failure, it’s time for even the most insider-ish analysts and journalists to report the unvarnished truth. Even their clients will eventually thank them for it.

In the words of Esquire’s editors, journalists and advisors “better be substantive” and “leave their hobbyhorses at home.” Sorry to say, this study fails on both counts.

If a “bleeding heart” won’t tell you, who will?

RJ Eskow is a writer, business person, and songwriter/musician. He has worked as a consultant in public policy, technology, and finance, specializing in healthcare issues.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 14504
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
Top Pols say NSA Spying Is Destroying the Constitution
« Reply #494 on: November 08, 2013, 07:24:09 AM »
No news here for Diners. And timely given the thread started by illdill.

BTW, welcome and well done!

***

Former American President and Vice President: NSA Spying Is Destroying the Constitution
Posted on November 7, 2013 by WashingtonsBlog
Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, Supreme Court Justices and Other Top U.S. Officials Warn that America Is Losing Its Democracy

Former President Jimmy Carter [urlhttp://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/07/former-president-and-commander-in-chief-america-is-no-longer-a-democracy.html]said [/url]in July that NSA spying on Americans meant that “America has no functioning democracy”.

Former Vice President Al Gore agreed this week:

    I say that as someone who was a member of the National Security Council working in the White House and getting daily briefings from the CIA.

    ***

    “[Snowden] has revealed evidence of what appears to be crimes against the Constitution of the United States“….

Many other high-level U.S. officials – including Supreme Court justices – have also warned that the U.S. is no longer a functioning democracy. A detailed analysis shows that they are correct.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
68 Replies
19361 Views
Last post November 09, 2017, 09:37:32 AM
by azozeo
1 Replies
1111 Views
Last post June 12, 2015, 10:34:49 AM
by Eddie
0 Replies
224 Views
Last post July 01, 2018, 08:07:18 PM
by Palloy2