Welcome to Sott.net
Sun, 20 Sep 2020
The World for People who Think

Society's Child
Map

Arrow Down

American Eulogy

The Founding Fathers described the kind of country they were shaping on July 4, 1776 with the most well known sentence in the English language:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - Declaration of Independence
In 1776, America was an idea born of noble intentions. An idea that every citizen had the opportunity to succeed, prosper and achieve based upon their hard work and abilities. The government did not provide advantages or a safety net for its citizens. People were free to succeed or fail based upon their own merits. America had a frontier spirit because it was still a frontier. Individual effort, intellect and willingness to sweat allowed you to move up the socio-economic ladder. The government provided a National Defense, and very little else. In 1794, the country had a population of 4.4 million and a GDP of $310 million. Government spending totaled $7.1 million, or 2.3% of GDP, and was split between Defense and interest on the Revolutionary War debt. Today, Federal Government spending totals $3.7 trillion, or 25% of GDP.
Image
James Truslow Adams in his 1931 Epic of America described the America that once existed in reality, but only exists as a phantom today:
"The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, also too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position."

"The American Dream that has lured tens of millions of all nations to our shores in the past century has not been a dream of material plenty, though that has doubtlessly counted heavily. It has been a dream of being able to grow to fullest development as a man and woman, unhampered by the barriers which had slowly been erected in the older civilizations, unrepressed by social orders which had developed for the benefit of classes rather than for the simple human being of any and every class." - James Truslow Adams - Epic of America

Padlock

US: Vending Machines Try Electronic Self-Defense

Image
© Agence France-Presse / Getty Images
Students at McLean High School in McLean, Va., purchased snacks at a vending machine on school property in 2005.
Tough economic times have spurred a rash of vending-machine thefts, prompting operators to fight back with sales-tracking devices and automated text-message alerts.

Theft rings have sprung up in Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi and New York, among other states. More schools, hospitals and other big vending customers are complaining of such break-ins, especially with outdoor vending machines, according to loss consultants and machine operators.

While no one closely tracks the exact number of such thefts, these experts report a proliferation of websites and YouTube videos with instructions on how to break into the machines.

"My sense is that theft is on the rise as there are so many people in desperate times," said Mark Manney, chief executive of Loss Prevention Results Inc., a Wake Forest, N.C., vending-theft consultant.

The industry already is struggling. U.S. sales fell 10% in 2009 to $19.85 billion, the latest data available, from $22.05 billion the year before, according to Automatic Merchandiser, a trade magazine. With profit margins as thin as 1%, losses from theft have an impact.

Police rarely get involved, operators say, because each theft seldom amounts to much money. Sometimes operators call the police but they usually arrive too late.

Others like Jodi Glimpse are cracking down on their own. "I'm starting to feel like my own personal detective service," said Ms. Glimpse, owner of Camelback Vending Services LLC, which operates hundreds of vending machines in the Phoenix area.

Bizarro Earth

More Than 102 Dead and Thousands of Prisoners on the Loose in Egypt as 30,000 Stranded Britons Struggle to Leave the Country


  • Cameron and Obama hold crisis talks, both calling for 'political reform'
  • Death toll reaches 102 and at least 2,000 have been injured
  • Thousands of prisoners escape from jails as riots go into sixth day
Around 30,000 British tourists were stranded in Egypt today as army planes buzzed low over Cairo on the sixth day of uprisings.

At least 102 people have been killed, more than 2,000 are injured and there were calls for a multi-party democracy to emerge as President Hosni Mubarack's grip on power loosens.

Gangs of armed men attacked at least four jails across Egypt before dawn today, helping to free hundreds of Muslim militants and thousands of other inmates as police vanished from the streets of Cairo and other cities.

Egypt protesters
© EPA
Show of strength: Egyptians surround an army tank during protests in central Cairo on the sixth day of action
Last night a handful Brits that managed to board flights returning back from Cairo described their relief at escaping the riot-torn country.

They told how vigilantes were protecting neighbourhoods at night after police withdrew from the streets.

Several Britons arrived home on an Egyptair flight at London's Heathrow Airport.

Brendan Keating, 49, an oil worker from Purley, Surrey, who lives in Maadi, in southern Cairo, said: 'Last night the local people organised themselves into groups to protect property because there's no police.

'This morning I had to break the curfew to get to the airport, and had to go through about a dozen roadblocks set up by these people.'

Geoff and Heather Booth, from Dronfield, Derbyshire, whose planned near two-week holiday was cut to just four days because of the chaos.

Mr Booth, 74, said: 'We weren't in the worst part but it was still quite bad. The main thing is that we are home safe.

'We were there for four days, but most of it was spent in the hotel under strict instructions not to go out.

'The holiday company has brought us home and frankly we just wanted to get back.'
Egypt looters
© Agence France-Presse / Getty Images
Looters stand outside Abu Zaabel prison in thLooters stand outside Abu Zaabel prison in the Egyptian capital Cairo after a mass breakout by convicts amid a nationwide revolt

Helicopters were yesterday hovering over Cairo and trucks appeared in a central square where protesters were gathered.

It was the latest show of military might on Sunday in an apparent effort to send protesters back to their homes before a 4pm curfew.

The warplanes flew over the city several times. At least a dozen troop trucks and extra tanks drove towards the square as more protesters gathered in defiance of the curfew.

'The planes are out there to scare the people. It's time for the curfew and no one is going home," a 45-year-old engineer who was protesting in the main Tahrir square said.

'It's clear to me that the army is here to protect Mubarak.'

Amr Moussa, the head of the Arab League, said on Sunday he wanted to see a multi-party democracy emerge in Egypt but could not say how soon that might happen.

Meanwhile David Cameron and US President Barack Obama called for an 'orderly transition' to a democratic government in Egypt.

As the crisis threatening to unseat Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak escalated, the two leaders held talks and agreed that a 'comprehensive process of political reform' was needed.

Dollar

Food Riots, Tax Rebellions By 2012...Trend Forecaster, Renowned for Being Accurate in the Past, Says

The man who predicted the 1987 stock market crash and the fall of the Soviet Union is now forecasting revolution in America, food riots and tax rebellions - all within four years, while cautioning that putting food on the table will be a more pressing concern than buying Christmas gifts by 2012.

Gerald Celente, the CEO of Trends Research Institute, is renowned for his accuracy in predicting future world and economic events, which will send a chill down your spine considering what he told Fox News this week.

Celente says that by 2012 America will become an undeveloped nation, that there will be a revolution marked by food riots, squatter rebellions, tax revolts and job marches, and that holidays will be more about obtaining food, not gifts.

"We're going to see the end of the retail Christmas....we're going to see a fundamental shift take place....putting food on the table is going to be more important that putting gifts under the Christmas tree," said Celente, adding that the situation would be "worse than the great depression".

"America's going to go through a transition the likes of which no one is prepared for," said Celente, noting that people's refusal to acknowledge that America was even in a recession highlights how big a problem denial is in being ready for the true scale of the crisis.

Celente, who successfully predicted the 1997 Asian Currency Crisis, the subprime mortgage collapse and the massive devaluation of the U.S. dollar, told UPI in November last year that the following year would be known as "The Panic of 2008," adding that "giants (would) tumble to their deaths," which is exactly what we have witnessed with the collapse of Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns and others. He also said that the dollar would eventually be devalued by as much as 90 per cent.

Che Guevara

Egypt and Tunisia Usher in the New Era of Global Food Revolutions

Image
© Reuters
As we sit glued to Al-Jazeera watching authority crumble in the cultural and political capital of the Arab world, exhilaration can turn quickly to foreboding.
Political risk has returned with a vengeance. The first food revolutions of our Malthusian era have exposed the weak grip of authoritarian regimes in poor countries that import grain, whether in North Africa today or parts of Asia tomorrow.

If you insist on joining the emerging market party at this stage of the agflation blow-off, avoid countries with an accelerating gap between rich and poor. Cairo's EGX stock index has dropped 20pc in nine trading sessions.

Events have moved briskly since a Tunisian fruit vendor with a handcart set fire to himself six weeks ago, and in doing so lit the fuse that has detonated Egypt and threatens to topple the political order of the Maghreb, Yemen, and beyond.

As we sit glued to Al-Jazeera watching authority crumble in the cultural and political capital of the Arab world, exhilaration can turn quickly to foreboding.

This is nothing like the fall of the Berlin Wall. The triumph of secular democracy was hardly in doubt in central Europe. Whatever the mix of aspirations of those on the streets of Cairo, such uprisings are easy prey for tight-knit organizations - known in the revolutionary lexicon as Leninist vanguard parties.

In Egypt this means the Muslim Brotherhood, whether or not Nobel laureate Mohammed El Baradei ever served as figleaf. The Brotherhood is of course a different kettle of fish from Iran's Ayatollahs; and Turkey shows that an 'Islamic leaning' government can be part of the liberal world - though Turkish premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan once let slip that democracy was a tram "you ride until you arrive at your destination, then you step off."

Eye 1

US: TSA Shuts Door on Private Airport Screening Program

TSA airport security
© Agence France-Presse / Getty Images
Travelers go through a security checkpoint at Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia.
A program that allows airports to replace government screeners with private screeners is being brought to a standstill, just a month after the Transportation Security Administration said it was "neutral" on the program.

TSA chief John Pistole said Friday he has decided not to expand the program beyond the current 16 airports, saying he does not see any advantage to it.

Though little known, the Screening Partnership Program allowed airports to replace government screeners with private contractors who wear TSA-like uniforms, meet TSA standards and work under TSA oversight. Among the airports that have "opted out" of government screening are San Francisco and Kansas City.

The push to "opt out" gained attention in December amid the fury over the TSA's enhanced pat downs, which some travelers called intrusive.

Rep. John Mica, a Republican from Florida, wrote a letter encouraging airports to privatize their airport screeners, saying they would be more responsive to the public.

At that time, the TSA said it neither endorsed nor opposed private screening.

"If airports chose this route, we are going to work with them to do it," a TSA spokesman said in late December.

But on Friday, the TSA denied an application by Springfield-Branson Airport in Missouri to privatize its checkpoint workforce, and in a statement, Pistole indicated other applications likewise will be denied.

"I examined the contractor screening program and decided not to expand the program beyond the current 16 airports as I do not see any clear or substantial advantage to do so at this time," Pistole said.

He said airports that currently use contractor screening will continue to be allowed to.

Pistole said he has been reviewing TSA policies with the goal of helping the agency "evolve into a more agile, high-performance organization."

Told of the change Friday night, Mica said he intends to launch an investigation and review the matter.

John Pistole
© Reuters / Jonathan Ernst
Transportation Security Administration Administrator John Pistole delivers his testimony at a hearing of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 17, 2010.
"It's unimaginable that TSA would suspend the most successfully performing passenger screening program we've had over the last decade," Mica said Friday night. "The agency should concentrate on cutting some of the more than 3,700 administrative personnel in Washington who concocted this decision, and reduce the army of TSA employees that has ballooned to more than 62,000."

"Nearly every positive security innovation since the beginning of TSA has come from the contractor screening program," Mica said.

Bad Guys

The coming US Depression has an added dimension:

"...a huge underclass of very desperate people with their minds chemically blown beyond anybody's comprehension" which may fuel unprecedented unrest. Tom Dennen

Money talks and here is what it is saying: Here are the current account balances of 163 countries in the world compared with levels of street violence (Egypt is high on the positive side of the debt list unlike Spain, the UK and the others at the bottom, and is not likely rioting over austerities):

Notice the amazing entry at the bottom of this list (scroll down) taken from Gerald Celentes' Trends Journal, the full report, 2011.

The current acount balance records a country's net trade in goods and services, plus net earnings from rents, interest, profits, and dividends, and net transfer payments (such as pension funds and worker remittances) to and from the rest of the world during the period specified. These figures are calculated on an exchange rate basis, i.e., not in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms.

Laptop

Iran Condemns Two to Death Over Porn Sites

Image
© Agence France-Presse
A judicial official prepares ropes before a public execution in Tehran in 2002. Iranian courts on Sunday sentenced two people to death for running porn sites.
Iranian courts on Sunday sentenced two people to death for running porn sites, prosecutor general Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said, quoted on the Islamic republic's official IRNA news agency.

"Two administrators of porn sites have been sentenced to death in two different (court) branches and (the verdicts) have been sent to the supreme court for confirmation," Dolatabadi said, without naming the two convicts.

Last December, Canada expressed concern over the reported death sentence handed down to an Iranian-born Canadian resident for allegedly designing an adult website.

Saeed Malekpour, 35, was convicted of "designing and moderating adult content websites," "agitation against the regime" in Tehran, and "insulting the sanctity of Islam," according to an online campaign calling for his release.

Health

Tawdry Details of Obamacare: White House Quietly Exempts Pampered Politicos

Image
© Alexander Hunter / Washington Times
Illustration: Obamacare
If you would like to know what the White House really thinks of Obamacare, there's an easy way. Look past its press releases. Ignore its promises. Forget its talking points. Instead, simply witness for yourself the outrageous way the White House protects its best friends from Obamacare.

Last year, we learned that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) had granted 111 waivers to protect a lucky few from the onerous regulations of the new national health care overhaul. That number quickly and quietly climbed to 222, and last week we learned that the number of Obamacare privileged escapes has skyrocketed to 733.

Among the fortunate is a who's who list of unions, businesses and even several cities and four states (Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio and Tennessee) but none of the friends of Barack feature as prominently as the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

How can you get your own free pass from Obamacare? Maybe you can just donate $27 million to President Obama's campaign efforts. That's what Andy Stern did as president of SEIU in 2008. He has been the most frequent guest at Mr. Obama's White House.

Backroom deals have become par for the course for proponents of Obamacare. Senators were greased with special favors, like Nebraska Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson and his Cornhusker Kickback and Louisiana Democrat Sen. Mary L. Landrieu and her Louisiana Purchase. Even the American Medical Association was brought in line under threat of losing its exclusive and lucrative medical coding contracts with the government.

Not only are the payoffs an affront to our democracy and an outright assault on our taxpayers, the timing itself of the latest release makes a mockery of this administration's transparency promises. More than 500 of the 733 waivers, we now know, were granted in December but kept conveniently under wraps until the day after the president's State of the Union address. HHS is no stranger to covering up bad news; in fact, this is becoming a disturbing pattern. Last year, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius hid from Congress until after the Obamacare vote a damning report from the Medicare and Medicaid Office of the Actuary showing Obamacare would cost $311 billion more than promised and would displace 14 million Americans from their current insurance.

MIB

'Mysterious death' of colonel in Russian spy service

Image
© Getty Images
The SVR deals with intelligence-gathering abroad
Russian security officials are investigating the death of a colonel in Russian foreign intelligence, who apparently fell from the window of his 14th floor flat, media reports say.

The body of Col Gennady Ambarnov, 46, was found by passers-by hours later.

The colonel had been arguing with his wife and son, media reports say.

The Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) is one of the organisations that succeeded the Soviet KGB. It deals with intelligence gathering abroad.

The website Lifenews.ru said Col Ambarnov's 20-year-old son Andrey was suspected of being behind his death on the night of 29-30 January.

A blood-stained jacket was found in the flat, the website added.