Welcome to Sott.net
Sun, 03 Dec 2023
The World for People who Think

Puppet Masters

Bad Guys

The Dangerously Deranged Ethics of Biotech Agriculture

© layogamagazine.com
My unease about genetically engineered crops and animals dates back to the beginning. I had immediate concerns in the late 1980s and early 90s as I began to learn about the technology and associated marketplace machinations. Over the following decades as more and more facts emerged my concerns deepened.

Then just a couple of weeks ago my misgivings were rudely provoked to the forefront when I read an op-ed column by Nina Federoff, published in The New York Times. Her column amounted to a fact-deficient apologia for the GMO industry, and an exhortation to charge heedlessly forward with genetically engineered food. For me, and for millions of other people, this is a massively deranged and dangerous proposition.

So many factors are coming to a head now. Widespread famine, a global land grab, soaring food prices, a horde of profit-mad speculators, drought on the scale of the Dust Bowl, a host of other wildly wobbling environmental events, and a huge, well-organized, well-funded propaganda push by corporate industrial agriculture to claim that the only sensible way forward is with genetic engineering and its allied cauldron of petrochemical-based herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides. But it's not the only way forward. It is, instead, a profoundly perilous pathway encouraged by what I regard as dangerously deranged ethics.

Eye 2

US: Obama to seek a new tax rate for wealthy

obama tax rich
© Larry Downing/Reuters
U.S. President Barack Obama rolled out part of his budget plan Monday, which includes more taxes on the wealthy.
President Barack Obama is expected to seek a new base tax rate for the wealthy to ensure that millionaires pay at least at the same percentage as middle income taxpayers.

A White House official said the proposal would be included in the president's proposal for long term deficit reduction that he will announce Monday. The official spoke anonymously because the plan has not been officially announced.

Obama is going to call it the "Buffett Rule" for Warren Buffett, the billionaire investor who has complained that rich people like him pay a smaller share of their income in federal taxes than middle-class taxpayers.

Comment: Don't hold your breath. Whatever legislation might get passed, you can bet there will be plenty of loopholes in the fine print.

Bad Guys

Obama's Economic Quagmire

© Alex Wong/Getty Images
Frank Rich and Adam Moss Talk About What's Really in Ron Suskind's Revealing New Book About the White House

Adam: Hi, Frank. So there's a little commotion about this new book Confidence Men, by Ron Suskind, which is being published on Tuesday. And as it happens, you and I have actually read it! So let's talk about that this week. To give readers a super-fast overview, it's a book, essentially, about Obama's economic team during his first two years in office. The news of the book, according to some reports, is that Tim Geithner was insubordinate to the president, pursuing his own pro-banker agenda. Or, according to other reports, that Larry Summers was insubordinate to the president, pursuing his own - well, monomaniacal agenda. I'd add that it's also about Rahm Emanuel being insubordinate to the president, just because. Basically, it's about the presidency being hijacked by these three guys. And the guys thing is important because they're pretty awful to women. Anyway, they're the villains. Paul Volcker, Christina Romer, and Elizabeth Warren are the heroes. Bankers win, America loses. Did I get that right?

Frank: Hi, Adam, and yes, you did! I would point out that among the other heroes are more women (Sheila Bair, Brooksley Born, Maria Cantwell) and at least one man, the Princeton economist Alan Krueger, who also seems to be a serious Suskind source and who has now returned to the White House to succeed Austan Goolsbee and Romer as head of the Council of Economic Advisers. Not that that will do any good. I think the portrait of Geithner is devastating - his countermanding of the president's wishes to make a Wall Street object lesson of Citigroup, his nasty "Elizabeth Warren strategy" to silence and neuter the administration's rare genuine reformer. And yet Geithner is the only member of the original economic team still standing in the White House, poised to countermand any other rare independent voice that might yet speak up, like Krueger's.


Geithner Ignored Obama Order to Plan for Citigroup Wind Down

Timothy Geithner

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner ignored an order in 2009 from President Barack Obama to prepare a plan to "wind down" Citigroup Inc., once the biggest bank in the world, according to a book to be released next week.

Geithner didn't proceed with Obama's order to develop a plan to dissolve New York-based Citigroup in March 2009, several months after the bank had received a $45 billion taxpayer bailout, according to Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington and the Education of a President by Ron Suskind, a former Wall Street Journal reporter. Bloomberg News obtained a copy of the book's manuscript. The book, published by New York-based HarperCollins, is to be released Sept. 20.

Citigroup, led by Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit, posted $29.3 billion in combined losses for 2008 and 2009, much of them tied to subprime mortgages. U.S. taxpayers also guaranteed more than $300 billion of the lender's riskiest assets to prop up the company as it neared collapse. Obama wanted to consider restructuring the bank while Geithner would also proceed with stress tests of the country's lenders, according to the book.

Bad Guys

Europe Rejects US Rebuke Over Debt

geithner hypocrisy
European Central Bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet says the financial position of the 17-member euro zone is better than that of other major economies.

Trichet spoke Saturday at the end of a two-day meeting of European Union finance ministers in Wroclaw, Poland. He described the medium-term prospects for euro zone countries as "quite encouraging."

His remarks follow comments Friday by U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who urged the EU to take quick action on its financial crisis. Geithner also said political wrangling in Europe is making the situation worse.

Geithner's appearance at the Poland meeting signaled growing American concern that Europe's financial crisis may threaten the U.S. economic recovery.

Bad Guys

US: 30,000 Children Face Destitution from Welfare Cut in Michigan

Governor Rick Snyder.

Governor Rick Snyder.
On September 6, Republican Governor Rick Snyder signed into law a new lifetime limit of 48 months for receiving cash welfare benefits in the state of Michigan.

It is estimated that 12,600 families, including 11,188 adults and 29,707 children, will be affected immediately. These families will lose an average of $515 a month beginning October 1.

"Since cash assistance is the source of income for some families and is how they pay for rent, they will have to find a different place to live," Judy Putnam, communications director for the Michigan League for Human Services, told the media. "We're very fearful that many families will be left homeless."

Bad Guys

Thought Crime: London Orchestra Suspends Four Musicians Who Opposed Israeli Musicians' Concert

London Philharmonic Orchestra punishes cellist and violinists who wanted Proms appearance by Israeli players cancelled

Tim Walker
© Martin Godwin/Guardian
Tim Walker of the London Philharmonic Orchestra said the suspensions sent 'a strong and clear message' - For those with eyes to see, it certainly does.
The London Philharmonic Orchestra has suspended four musicians for nine months for using its name when they called unsuccessfully for the cancellation of a concert by an Israeli orchestra at the Proms.

The move follows the indefinite suspension of an unnamed LPO violinist after she allegedly launched an anti-Israel "rant" when Israeli musicians appeared at the Royal College of Music before the concert at the Royal Albert Hall earlier this month.

In a statement, Tim Walker, the LPO's chief executive, and Martin Hohmann, its chairman, said the suspensions sent "a strong and clear message that their actions will not be tolerated ... the orchestra would never restrict the right of its players to express themselves freely, however such expression has to be independent of the LPO itself.


Surprise! Canada's PM Harper Rejects Palestinian Statehood Bid

Harper Israel Flag
© unknown
The intractable Middle East conflict threatens to overshadow Prime Minister Stephen Harper's trip to the United Nations next week. Harper is travelling to the large General Assembly gathering ostensibly for meetings on Libya and child and maternal health. On Friday, the Prime Minister was drawn into the brewing showdown over the Palestinian bid for statehood recognition at the UN. "We view this unilateral action on behalf of the Palestinian Authority to be not helpful," Harper said during a stop in Saskatoon.

"No unilateral actions like this are helpful in terms of establishing a long-run peace in the Middle East. Canada views the action as very regrettable and we will be opposing it at the United Nations."

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, who will be accompanying Harper to New York, has already expressed Canada's opposition to the Palestinian plan. Canada supports a two-state solution to the conflict but only after a negotiated settlement between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

The Prime Minister is not expected to address the General Assembly, and will leave that duty to Baird the following week.

Star of David

Israel - Negev's Bedouins: A New Nakba in the Making

demolished bedouin home Israel
© Agence France Presse/Hazem Bader
A Palestinian Bedouin looks for belongings after Israeli army bulldozers destroyed their shacks and tents near the Jewish settlements of Maaon and Karmel, south of the West Bank.
Bedouins in the Negev continue to be targeted by Israeli efforts to displace them. The Israeli government has now approved a plan that would uproot 30,000 Palestinians and place them in "recognized villages."

The situation of Palestinians inside the green line is bleak, especially when compared to the hopeful atmosphere sparked throughout the region by the Arab Spring. Plans are underway to forcibly relocate tens of thousands of Palestinian Bedouins to designated towns that are in a deplorable condition.

The relocation scheme was among the recommendations of the Prawer Report, which called for relocating more than 30,000 Arab Bedouins in the Siaj section of the Negev to housing compounds elsewhere in the desert region south of the country.

Star of David

Palestinians left homeless as Israel demolishes West Bank houses

israel home demolition
© Amnesty International
Palestinian children in 'Aqaba on a road demolished this morning
Israeli military bulldozers demolished three homes and water cisterns in 'Aqaba village in the northern West Bank on Thursday morning, leaving 22 people, including 12 children, homeless.

Since the beginning of the year, over 750 Palestinians in the West Bank have been displaced after their homes were demolished by the Israeli military, nearly five times more than in the same period last year, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The bulldozers destroyed the homes of Khaled Sbeih, Basem Sbeih and Abdel Nasser Sbeih, leaving the three families with a few salvaged belongings on the street.

"This happened without warning. We had received a letter informing us that we had no permit to build, but there was no date for a demolition or anything like that," Khaled Sbeih told Amnesty International.

"We woke up in the morning and the children went to school. When they came back we had no home. I don't know how to explain it to them," he said.

Israeli army bulldozers also dug up more than two kilometres of main road in the area of the village.