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Thu, 27 Jul 2017
The World for People who Think

Bug

Patriot Act author: Obama's intel czar should be prosecuted

© Greg Nash
James Clapper
Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr., the original author of the Patriot Act, says Director of National Intelligence James Clapper should be prosecuted for lying to Congress.

"Lying to Congress is a federal offense, and Clapper ought to be fired and prosecuted for it," the Wisconsin Republican said in an interview with The Hill.

He said the Justice Department should prosecute Clapper for giving false testimony during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in March.

During that hearing, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) asked Clapper whether the National Security Agency (NSA) collects data on millions of Americans. Clapper insisted that the NSA does not - or at least does "not wittingly" - collect information on Americans in bulk.

Light Saber

Conspiracy theorists sane and government dupes crazy, hostile according to recent studies

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Is this building falling or exploding? If you say “falling” you need to take your meds
Recent studies by psychologists and social scientists in the US and UK suggest that contrary to mainstream media stereotypes, those labeled "conspiracy theorists" appear to be saner than those who accept the official versions of contested events.

The most recent study was published on July 8th by psychologists Michael J. Wood and Karen M. Douglas of the University of Kent (UK). Entitled "What about Building 7? A social psychological study of online discussion of 9/11 conspiracy theories," the study compared "conspiracist" (pro-conspiracy theory) and "conventionalist" (anti-conspiracy) comments at news websites.

The authors were surprised to discover that it is now more conventional to leave so-called conspiracist comments than conventionalist ones: "Of the 2174 comments collected, 1459 were coded as conspiracist and 715 as conventionalist." In other words, among people who comment on news articles, those who disbelieve government accounts of such events as 9/11 and the JFK assassination outnumber believers by more than two to one. That means it is the pro-conspiracy commenters who are expressing what is now the conventional wisdom, while the anti-conspiracy commenters are becoming a small, beleaguered minority.

Perhaps because their supposedly mainstream views no longer represent the majority, the anti-conspiracy commenters often displayed anger and hostility: "The research... showed that people who favoured the official account of 9/11 were generally more hostile when trying to persuade their rivals."

Dollar Gold

The Economic Apartheid that replaced Racial Apartheid was WORSE for Black South Africans

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On Saturday night, I found myself at a party honouring Nelson Mandela and raising money for his children's fund (I'm still trying to figure out how I ended there). It was a lovely affair and only a very rude person would have pointed out that the party was packed with many of the banking and mining executives who refused to pull their investments out of apartheid-run South Africa for decades.

Mr. Mandela was in Canada this week to receive the highest honour my country has to offer: he was the second person in our history to be made an honorary citizen. So only someone with no sense of timing would have mentioned that, as the Liberal government was honouring Mr. Mandela, it is ramming through an anti-terrorism bill that would have sabotaged the anti-apartheid movement on several fronts had it been in place at the time. (Many other countries are passing similar laws.)

The anti-apartheid movement here in Canada and elsewhere actively raised money for the African National Congress, which would easily have fit most anti-terrorism bills' sloppy definitions of a terrorist organization. Furthermore, anti-apartheid activists deliberately caused "serious disruption" to the activities of companies invested in South Africa, eventually forcing many to pull out. These disruptions would also have been illegal under most proposed anti-terrorism laws.

Megaphone

7 things Nelson Mandela believed that most people won't talk about

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© AP
In the desire to celebrate Nelson Mandela's life - an iconic figure who triumphed over South Africa's brutal apartheid regime - it's tempting to homogenize his views into something everyone can support. This is not, however, an accurate representation of the man.

Mandela was a political activist and agitator. He did not shy away from controversy and he did not seek - or obtain - universal approval. Before and after his release from prison, he embraced an unabashedly progressive and provocative platform. As one commentator put it shortly after the announcement of the freedom fighter's death, "Mandela will never, ever be your minstrel. Over the next few days you will try so, so hard to make him something he was not, and you will fail. You will try to smooth him, to sandblast him, to take away his Malcolm X. You will try to hide his anger from view."

Dollars

Another batch of Wall Street villains freed on technicality

© Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images
General Electric's corporate headquarters.

I love covering trials, which is one reason I've been a little sad since switching over to the Wall Street beat: Few of the bad guys in this world ever even get interviewed by the authorities, much less indicted, so trials are comically rare.

But we did have one last year, a big one, and though it was boring and jargon-laden enough on the surface that at least one juror fought sleep in its opening days, I thought it was fascinating. In a story about the Justice Department's Spring 2012 prosecution of a wide-raging municipal bond bid-rigging case, I called it the "first trial of the modern American mafia":

"Of course, you won't hear about the recent financial corruption case, United States of America v. Carollo, Goldberg and Grimm, called anything like that . . . But this just completed trial in downtown New York . . . allowed federal prosecutors to make public for the first time the astonishing inner workings of the reigning American crime syndicate, which now operates not out of Little Italy and Las Vegas, but out of Wall Street."

Dominick Carollo, Steven Goldberg and Peter Grimm were mid-level players who worked for GE Capital. They were involved in a wide-ranging scheme (one that also involved most of America's biggest banks, from Chase to BOA to Wachovia) to skim billions of dollars from America's cities and towns by rigging the auctions banks set up to help towns earn the highest returns on the management of municipal bond issues.

The case was over 10 years in the making and involved offenses that took place long before the 2008 crash. All three defendants were convicted in May 2012, with Goldberg ultimately getting four years and the other two getting three.

Now, they're all free. A New York federal judge last week ordered their convictions overturned in a quiet Thanksgiving-week transaction.

Health

Epidemic of dementia looms with 135 million sufferers seen by 2050

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Many governments are woefully unprepared for an epidemic of dementia currently affecting 44 million people worldwide and set to more than treble to 135 million people by 2050, health experts and campaigners said on Thursday.

Fresh estimates from the advocacy group Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI) showed a 17 percent increase in the number of people with the incurable mind-robbing condition compared with 2010, and warned that by 2050 more than 70 percent of dementia sufferers will be living in poorer countries.

"It's a global epidemic and it is only getting worse," said ADI's executive director Marc Wortmann.

"If we look into the future the numbers of elderly people will rise dramatically. It's vital that the World Health Organization makes dementia a priority, so the world is ready to face this condition."

Comment: Alzheimer's is often referred to as type 3 diabetes because it results from insulin resistance in the brain. And like type 2 diabetes, it is entirely preventable and usually curable by following the ketogenic diet.

The Ketogenic Diet - An Overview
Beyond weight loss: a review of the therapeutic uses of very-low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diets
Ketogenic Diet Reduces Symptoms of Alzheimer's
Ketogenic Diet (high-fat, low-carb) Has Neuroprotective and Disease-modifying Effects
The fat-fueled brain: unnatural or advantageous?
Solve Your Health Issues with a Ketogenic Diet


Stock Down

New low for Congress: Just 6 percent approve, finally lower than car salespeople

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The public's approval rating for Congress has finally hit rock bottom: For the first time, America has a higher opinion of car salespeople.

A new Economist/YouGov.com poll put the approval rating of Congress at a historic low of 6 percent. A December 2012 Gallup poll comparing Congress' approval ratings to other occupations had car salespeople at the bottom at 8 percent and Congress at 10 percent. Now Congress is the cellar dweller.

The nation's bad opinion of Congress, impacted by inaction, budget fights and the battle over the filibuster, has also spread to Senate leaders. Just 19 percent approve of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell while 54 percent disapprove. Democratic leader Sen. Harry Reid's ratings are 52 percent unfavorable, 25 percent favorable.

Ambulance

Obama agent foresees 'health-care apocalypse'

© WND
Dan Bongino
President 'doesn't seem to be limited at all by the constraints of our system'

Because President Obama and his staff seem to care more about "good intentions" and political posturing than sound policy and have little respect for the constraints of executive power, the Obamacare disaster is about to get much worse for Americans, a former Secret Service agent who once protected Obama believes.

Dan Bongino, who resigned from the elite Presidential Protective Division in 2011 and now is running for Congress, told WND in an interview that Obama doesn't seem to understand the level of outrage among the populace toward his health care law.

"It's obvious right now to just about all of America that this thing has been an abysmal failure," he said of Obamacare. But Obama "cares more about political successes than he does policy successes."

Bongino, author of the newly released book Life Inside the Bubble: Why a Top-Ranked Secret Service Agent Walked Away from It All, learned first-hand how Obamacare is affecting the nation when he lost his own health insurance plan and was faced with a premium spike along with worse coverage, as WND reported.

"For as bad as you think this is, we haven't even seen the health-care apocalypse coming once the employer mandate kicks in and that website actually works, and people start to see the pricing for real," he said.

Magic Wand

Welcome to the Memory Hole: Disappearing Edward Snowden

© n/a
What if Edward Snowden was made to disappear? No, I'm not suggesting some future CIA rendition effort or a who-killed-Snowden conspiracy theory of a disappearance, but a more ominous kind.

What if everything a whistleblower had ever exposed could simply be made to go away? What if every National Security Agency (NSA) document Snowden released, every interview he gave, every documented trace of a national security state careening out of control could be made to disappear in real-time? What if the very posting of such revelations could be turned into a fruitless, record-less endeavor?

Am I suggesting the plot for a novel by some twenty-first century George Orwell? Hardly. As we edge toward a fully digital world, such things may soon be possible, not in science fiction but in our world -- and at the push of a button. In fact, the earliest prototypes of a new kind of "disappearance" are already being tested. We are closer to a shocking, dystopian reality that might once have been the stuff of futuristic novels than we imagine. Welcome to the memory hole.

Ice Cube

The Ice Age Cometh: Scientists increasingly moving to global cooling consensus

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Critics of those who claim that man-made global warming is a serious threat to the planet and settled science frequently point to the fickleness of scientists on the issue, noting that in the 60s and 70s scientists were warning of just the opposite. It now appears the critic's claims may have merit as a new consensus is beginning to once again return to the global cooling model.

Adherents of man-made global warming have supported the issue in a way akin to that of religious zealots, even to the point of attempting to cover up evidence that runs contrary to their beliefs or portrays it in a negative light.

Comment: New Ice Age 'to begin in 2014'
The coming of a new Ice Age
What's Happening to the Sun? Could its unusual behavior herald a new ice age?