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Fri, 07 Oct 2022
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US: Rick Santorum Sings The Praises Of Income Inequality

© unk
Rick Santorum has said a lot of dumb things in his feeble existence. He has pushed extreme religious views, accused President Obama of wanting to exterminate religious people and he has made many hateful statements about women and the LGBT community. Santorum has largely avoided making as many gaffes about the economy which may be one reason why Romney is falling in the polls, but Santorum decided to talk about the auto industry bailout during a speech at the Detroit Economic Club on Thursday, and made some stunningly stupid comments about income inequality.
There is income inequality in America. There always has been and hopefully, and I do say that, there always will be. Why? Because people rise to different levels of success based on what they contribute to society and to the marketplace and that's as it should be. We shouldn't have a society that has a President who envies or creates class warfare or envy between one group of people and another. We should celebrate like we do in the small towns all across American as you do here in Detroit. You celebrate success. You build statues and monuments. Buildings, you name after them. Why? Because in their greatness and innovation, yes, they created wealth, but they created wealth for everybody else, and that's a good thing, not something to be condemned in America.


US: Senators Ramp Up Fear Mongering To Try To Rush Through Cybersecurity Bill

cybersecurity graphic
© n/a
We're still waiting for any actual evidence that this new cybersecurity bill is really necessary. An actual description of the real problem being dealt with would be a good start. Instead, we just get pure fear mongering. While some Senators are asking supporters of the bill to slow down and carefully consider the issue, the bill's backers, led by Senator Lieberman seem to be on "full speed ahead" mode -- trying to skip hearings and markups to take the bill straight to the Senate floor for a vote.

In this case, Senator John McCain is urging caution, and pushing back at claims that because totally different cybersecurity bills have been introduced in the past, this one can be rushed:
To suggest that this bill should move directly to the Senate Floor because it has 'been around' since 2009 is outrageous," McCain said. "First, the bill was introduced two days ago. Secondly, where do Senate Rules state that a bill's progress in a previous congress can supplant the necessary work on that bill in the present one?"
Of course, it isn't that McCain is "the voice of reason" here. He's actually pushing for a different bill that will give NSA broad spying powers over the internet. The dispute between McCain and Lieberman is really a long-running territorial dispute -- concerning whether Homeland Security or the Defense Department get to control the "cybersecurity" budget. The Lieberman bill gives the power to Homeland Security. McCain wants to give it to the DoD. Neither seem to want to bother with evidence of the actual need here.

Light Sabers

Santorum uses Hitler analogy to describe Obama

santorum hitler
© Screenshot via CBS
Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Sunday likened the upcoming U.S. election to World War II.

While the candidate's comments to a packed First Redeemer Church in Cumming, Georgia were somewhat vague, NBC news noted that he "seemed to compare President [Barack] Obama to [Adolph] Hitler."

The former Pennsylvania senator told his supporters that this election was like World War II, "where our closest ally, Britain, was being bombed and leveled."

"And America sat from 1940 when France fell to December of '41 and did almost nothing," he explained. "Why? Because we're a hopeful people. We think, 'You know it will get better. Yeah, I mean, he's a nice guy. It won't be near as bad as what we think. You know, this will be OK. You know, maybe he's not the best guy.' After a while, you found out some things about this guy over in Europe and maybe he's not so good of a guy after all. But you know what? 'Why do we need to be involved? We'll just take care of our own problems, just get our families off to work and our kids off to school and we'll be OK.'"

Bad Guys

GMO Crops Remain a Global Failure

© Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images
Kenya has approved the cultivation of GM crops but critics say there is strong grassroots opposition to this in Africa.

Wednesday 8 February 2012, Sydney: Greenpeace responded today to a report on the perceived success of genetically modified (GM) crops around the world, which was published by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), a bio-tech industry lobby organization.

Contrary to claims in the report, GM crops remain a global failure with only about 1% of global farmers cultivating GM crops.[i]" said Greenpeace campaigner Éric Darrier.
"There are so many oversights and exaggerations in this report that is hard to know where to start," said Mr Darrier.
For example, the 'acreage' of GM crops is completely exaggerated in the report through the presentation of acreage by 'trait' rather than the actual acreage of a crop. If a particular plant is cultivated on 100 hectares, ISAAA does not calculate its acreage as 100 hectares; they consider how many traits (characteristics) have been inserted into the ground. In the case of a crop that is stacked with three traits (e.g. pesticide producing + tolerance to 2 herbicides), the acreage is presented as 3 times 100 hectares = 300 hectares, wrongly tripling the acreage and misleading alike.

Eye 1

UK government to demand access to all phone and internet user data

CCTV camera
© Colin Babb
The British government is in the process of developing a scheme whereby all phone companies and broadband internet providers will be required to store customer transaction data for a year and hand it over to security services upon request.

The databases would also include Facebook communications, Twitter posts - including direct messages between subscribers - and even communications between players in online video games.


Banking's SWIFT Says Ready to Block Iran Transactions

Moving money around the world
Belgium-based SWIFT, which provides banks with a system for moving funds around the world, bowed to international pressure on Friday and said it was ready to block Iranian banks from using its network to transfer money.

Expelling Iranian banks from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication would shut down Tehran's main avenue to doing business with the rest of the world - an outcome the West believes is crucial to curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions.

SWIFT, which has never cut off a country before, has been closely following efforts in the United States and the European Union to develop new sanctions targeting Iran that would directly affect EU-based financial institutions.

The United States and EU have already moved to sanction Iran's central bank.

"SWIFT stands ready to act and discontinue its services to sanctioned Iranian financial institutions as soon as it has clarity on EU legislation currently being drafted," the company said in an emailed statement.

The United States has been pushing the European Union to force SWIFT to evict the Iranian firms but it was unclear whether the EU would reach an agreement.

Comment: This is the first time a such technique is used. Even during WWI & WWII Germany was able to trade. Another way to push Iran to the war.


New York State inundated with public comments on fracking

© Stephen D. Cannerelli / The Post-Standard
John and Margaret Sutton wrote letters to the DEC protesting hydrofracking. The Suttons are shown at their business, West Lake Conservators, in Skaneateles.
From Upstate nuns to downstate doctors, from Jews Against Hydrofracking to the Gases for God Coalition, tens of thousands of New Yorkers have told the state what they think about hydrofracking.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has received more than 61,000 comments, from one-paragraph, hand-written notes to 85-page technical dissertations, all in response to an environmental report released in September. And now the DEC must review those comments - plus the 13,000 comments submitted on the 2009 draft report - and respond to them.

"It's a massive undertaking," said Gregory Sovas, a former DEC official who now works for mining companies and landowners.

Bad Guys

Greece Throws in the Towel, Bows to German Jackboot


The European Central Bank
Greeks expect to agree a deal with the Eurozone leaders today, Monday, that will cede much of their country's independence. Greece will become an economic - and to a large extent a political - colony of Germany and its allies. Berlin will have a say in everything from the choice of prime minister to the types of medicines dispensed by pharmacies.

In return for €230bn, made up of €130bn in fresh loans and €100bn in write-downs on privately held Greek government bonds, Greece is relieved from its immediate debt burden. But the money does not go to the Greek government, still less to the Greek people. It simply leaves them to live off the money they earn.

For all the television pictures of rioting protesters, clouds of tear gas and burning buildings in central Athens over the last week, a striking feature of the political landscape is the lack of resistance to the German terms. The Greek political elite sound and look stunned, grudgingly surrendering to the demands of the Troika (EU, IMF and European Central Bank), but bereft of ideas about what else to do.

Bad Guys

Capitol Hill terror suspect ensnared by US intelligence agencies

El Khalifi

Courtroom sketch of Amine El Khalifi
On Friday Amine El Khalifi was arrested on charges of attempting to carry out a suicide bombing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The circumstances of his arrest immediately raise suspicions that he was the target of entrapment by US intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

El Khalifi was arrested in a parking lot near Capitol Hill with what he believed were an explosive vest and a submachine gun. Both items, which were actually inoperable dummies, had just been given to him by undercover government agents who had driven him to the scene and given him instructions. El Khalifi apparently believed he was part of an Al Qaeda terrorist cell, but the individuals he thought were his Al Qaeda companions were in fact working for the US government.

Because the explosive vest was a fake, El Khalifi "posed no threat to the public," Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said Friday. Nevertheless, the Obama administration went out of its way to characterize the arrest as a "foiled terror plot" and a national victory in the "war on terror."


U.N. Inspectors to Press Iran Over Nuclear Concerns

U.N. nuclear inspectors headed to Iran on Sunday for talks aimed at getting Tehran to start addressing their mounting concerns that it may be seeking to develop atomic bombs.

"We hope to have a couple of good and constructive days in Tehran," Herman Nackaerts, deputy director general of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said at Vienna airport as the five-member team prepared to depart.

"The highest priority remains of course the possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear programme," he told reporters, making clear he wanted to see concrete results in the discussions with Iranian officials.

Western diplomats have played down any hopes of a major breakthrough in the February 20-21 meeting, even though it comes just a few days after signs of a possible opening for diplomacy in the long-running nuclear dispute.

"I'm still pessimistic that Iran will demonstrate the substantive cooperation necessary," one envoy said.

The outcome, after an inconclusive first round of discussions last month, could determine whether the international stand-off over Iran's uranium enrichment programme escalates further or offers scope to reduce tensions.