Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The next time you hear some politician claim that by bringing the Olympics to some American city it will stimulate the local business community, read this...

The overhyped Olympics: London visitor levels fall by two-thirds over fears of traffic chaos and high prices in massive blow to recession-hit economy

Games have pulled 100,000 foreign tourists into the capital, much lower than the 300,000 expected in a typical summer
Leading London attractions see visitor numbers fall by 35 per cent
Hotel bookings in London 'very substantially down'
Businesses near sailing venues in Weymouth and Portland say this year's summer tourist season is the worst in half a century

By Rob Preece

The number of foreign tourists visiting London has fallen by two-thirds during the Olympics in a trend businesses are blaming on warnings of traffic chaos and overpriced accommodation.

The Games have helped pull some 100,000 visitors into the capital from overseas, with sports fans eager to watch global superstars such as sprinter Usain Bolt and basketball player LeBron James in action.

But this figure is well below the 300,000 tourists who would be expected to visit the city in a typical summer, and the Government was today facing accusations that it had 'overhyped' the benefits of the Games.

Businesses based near the Olympic sailing venues of Weymouth and Portland, in Dorset, have seen a similar trend, with some claiming the current summer tourist season is the worst in half a century.

Parts of west and central London have been likened to a ‘ghost town’ by a businesses who fear the stay-away factor could be damaging to the economy.

Hotel provider JacTravel, which books more than 500,000 bookings a year in London, said numbers were 'very substantially down' compared with the same period last year.

Shops, museums and theatres have also seen their takings hit, with trade down by as much as 35 per cent.

David Tarsh, of JacTravel, said: 'The Olympics, whilst they have attracted a lot of people for the sport, have created an environment in which regular leisure tourists are put off.

'People believe that, if the Olympics are on, the place will be extortionately expensive, overcrowded and hard to get around, and so they don't come.

'In addition, regular tour operators who do bring tourists in all the time can't negotiate rooms on the terms that they normally can, which makes it effectively uneconomical to offer breaks in a host city.'

Mr Tarsh said the Government and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) should shoulder some of the blame for the fall in visitor numbers.

He added: 'During the Olympics hotels offer completely different terms to the terms they offer during the regular leisure tourism season.

'They want the money up front, you have to pay them more and the tour operators have said, "well, on that basis, we're not going to come."

'If they can't get enough people to fill all the rooms they have reserved, they lose their deposit.

'It is easy to blame the hotels for asking extortionate rates, but they deserve a little sympathy because, in most cases, they haven't catered for Olympic tourists before.

'You can definitely blame the Government and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), who have overhyped the event and have claimed it brings more benefits in terms of tourism than are realistic.

'The consequence of that is, because they're the Government and the IOC and they're the people who ought to know, hotels have been suckered into taking their word.'

The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA), which represents 42 popular venues including the British Museum and London Zoo, said visitor numbers had fallen by between 30 and 35 per cent in the last two weeks.

The body's chief executive, Bernard Donoghue, said: 'For some of our members, it was the wettest spring and early summer that they could ever expect and those attractions that depend on the weather were severely affected.

'But the other factor that has affected visitor numbers is something they did expect - every Olympic host city has seen its overseas visitors go down during the period of the Olympics.

'Many Olympic visitors think it is going to be crowded and potentially too pricey.

'The type of overseas visitors who normally come are staying away and the visitors who do come tend to be Olympics-focused and may not go to galleries, cathedrals and museums.'

Mr Donoghue added that the drop in foreign visitors could benefit Britons who want to see attractions which are normally busier.

'The good news for Brits is there has never has been a better time to visit an attraction in London,' he said.

'There are fewer queues, tickets are guaranteed and many of the attractions have longer opening hours.'

Despite the fall in visitor numbers, Mr Donoghue said attraction bosses believed they would eventually see a tourism boost as a result of London's staging of the Games.

He said: 'All of the visitor attractions are taking the long-term view, which is that the Olympics is good for London and good for Britain because it is showing Britain off to the world's biggest-ever television audience.

'We would assume we will get the most benefit from hosting the Olympics not now but next year and the year after.'

The number of shoppers visiting the West End on Saturday was down nearly 12 per cent compared to last year.

Smaller vendors on Oxford Street reported a 30 per cent drop in sales.

The Earl of Bradford, owner of Porters restaurant in Covent Garden, said takings had been only £1,600 last Friday, down by more than £4,000, or 72 per cent, on the same day last year.

'This is nothing short of disastrous at Porters,' he told the Evening Standard. 'We have been concerned about the Olympics for some time but the reality is even worse than we thought - the whole Covent Garden area is so quiet, when it is normally humming with activity.'

Theatres have also seen a significant decline in ticket sales.

Nimax Theatres, which runs six venues in the West End, reported that last week was its worst this year.

It has forecast that sales will be down 30 per cent over the summer.

The company's chief executive, Nica Burns, said: 'We're bleeding. For my six theatres, last week was the worst this year. I think the Olympics are great, but I feel like I've been the bullseye for the archery competition.'

Hotels began cutting their prices in June in an effort to fill empty rooms.

The website said the average room price in London was slashed by a quarter after it was warned there was a 30 per cent drop in bookings during the Games.

Joel Brandon-Bravo, UK managing director of the travel website Travelzoo, said: 'As with the royal wedding, it does look like many hoteliers overestimated demand and are now left with empty rooms to fill.'

David Cameron, who took the Tube to the Aquatics Centre to watch British diver Tom Daley compete yesterday, had pledged that the Games would bring £13billion of economic investment over four years.

But critics have complained that there are few short-term benefits.

Mark Field, a London Tory MP, said: ‘The message has been going out for months that London would be packed to the rafters – and the transport system would be under pressure – and that has put a lot of people off.

‘The high-end hoteliers are fine because of all the official Olympic guests, but many others have not benefited so much.’

Business leaders in Weymouth and Portland, where the Olympic sailing venues are located, told a similar story today as they hailed this summer’s tourist season as the worst for half a century.

Visitors’ concerns over traffic congestion and inflated prices appear to have sent them elsewhere.

John Pearce, owner of award-winning Alf’s Traditional Fish and Chip Shop in Weymouth, said this summer’s trade had been down by 30 per cent on last summer.

He said: 'We haven’t known anything like it. This business has been here since 1955, and this is the worst summer season of the lot.

'We were hoping for a bumper summer but a lot of our regular holiday makers have said they thought Weymouth would be extremely busy, so they have gone elsewhere.

'Customers say signs on the M3 (the main route from Greater London towards Dorset) with an advanced notice of heavy traffic into Weymouth have made them think about going elsewhere.'

Bob D’Agostino, proprietor of the Riverhouse Inn in Weymouth, said his business did not have a single booking during the next fortnight, during what is traditionally a lucrative and crucial time for accommodation providers in the area.

He said: 'There were a lot of roadworks in the months leading up to the Games, which affected trade, but we accepted it because we were told we would reap the rewards.

'But that couldn’t be further from the truth. We are normally booked one month in advance during this time, but there has been so much talk about traffic that people just haven’t turned up.'

Weymouth and Portland mayor Margaret Leicester admitted local traders had been hugely disappointed with what was anticipated as an excellent fillip for waning businesses.

She said: 'A lot of work has been done to improve access, and a lot of money spent.

'But I know much of the trade has been in the beach area, and not spread out to the shops and businesses elsewhere in Weymouth and Portland.

'A lot of the cab drivers are complaining, shops are saying trade is down. It might be that those visitors who are coming just want to enjoy the Olympics, and are not the traditional-style holiday makers we are used to.'

The mayor said the full extent of the summer trade would be debated at the end of the season.

In London, Mayor Boris Johnson has been warning travellers for months to avoid the centre of the capital if possible.

Yesterday usually jammed roads such as The Embankment and London Bridge were completely clear of traffic.

The surprising turn of events was credited to staff being allowed to work from home and the decision to open some of the Olympic carriageways to other drivers.

The Games Lanes, which are generally reserved for Olympic athletes and VIPs, were at times turned off because they were not being used by officials.

Mr Johnson revealed International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge travelled on the Docklands Light Railway yesterday.

He said: ‘We’re pleased with the way it’s working so far, everybody at London Bridge was working well, the Tube is working well.

‘We’ve been able to turn off a lot of the Games Lanes because so many people are going by public transport. Jacques Rogge himself today took the DLR, I’m proud to say, and was conveyed in stately style and comfort.’

Read more:

Ron Paul Asks Tim Geithner: 'Why Doesn't The Fed Eliminate The Middleman And Just Buy Debt Directly From The Treasury?"

Germany admits NATO favoring Al Qaeda in Syria...

This guy is a flaming idiot...

The US is the greatest coal producing nation on the earth so let's stop using it and make us more dependent on foreign oil and nuclear power plants. Do you understand how the fraud of man-made global warming is going to destroy us economically and most likely physically? How about a few warm-mongers who have become skeptics Rachel?

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

I'm sure glad we have these elitists around to tell us how to live our lives....

After Soda, Bloomberg Sets His Sights on Baby Formula

Isn’t it curious that while the UN and Bloomberg are both, as they would have it, in favor of a woman’s right to choose whether to give birth or to kill her baby in utero, once that baby exits the womb alive these same people would deny the woman the right to choose what to feed her child? Talk about misplaced priorities.

Written by Michael Tennant

First he tried to take super-sized sodas out of the mouths of adults. Now New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to take formula out of the mouths of babies. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, with the enthusiastic backing of the mayor, is strongly encouraging — though not yet requiring — city hospitals to lock down all infant formula in an effort to convince new mothers to breastfeed their babies.

“Starting Sept. 3,” reports the New York Post, “the city will keep tabs on the number of bottles that participating hospitals stock and use — the most restrictive pro-breast-milk program in the nation.” Formula will be kept “in out-of-the-way secure storerooms or in locked boxes like those used to dispense and track medications,” and a nurse will have to “sign out the formula like any other medication,” documenting a medical reason for supplying it. In addition, any mother asking for formula for her baby will get a side order: a lecture on the benefits of breastfeeding.

It’s all part of the city’s “Latch On NYC” initiative, designed, according to a Health Department press release, “to support a mother’s choice to breastfeed.” A mother’s choice not to breastfeed, on the other hand, will not be supported.

In fact, the Health Department is so intent on preventing babies from ingesting formula that it is also asking participating hospitals — 27 of 40 city hospitals have already signed on — to stop giving out free samples or promotional items from formula manufacturers.

“The promotion and marketing of infant formula often interferes with breastfeeding,” says the press release. “Breastfeeding mothers report that receiving free formula at hospital discharge can make them feel like their breast milk is not enough to satisfy their babies.”

Medical research overwhelmingly demonstrates that breastfeeding is superior to formula feeding. Breast milk supplies antibodies that build up an infant’s immune system, and it helps a newborn’s digestive system develop. Breastfeeding even has benefits for the mother, helping her to recover from childbirth more quickly.

The question, then, is not whether breastfeeding is a good idea but whether it should, for all intents and purposes, be forced on new mothers. “The key to getting more moms to breast-feed,” Lisa Paladino of Staten Island University Hospital told the Post, “is making the formula less accessible.” In Bloomberg’s Big Apple, adults cannot be trusted to make wise decisions; the government must do that for them.

While the program is voluntary for the time being, there is a good chance that it will become mandatory in the future. Already Bloomberg’s breastfeeding campaign has progressed from a merely informational approach, in which the city put up pro-breastfeeding posters, to one in which new mothers will have to plead for formula for their babies — and endure a dressing-down over their choice. Should enough New Yorkers insist on feeding their infants anything other than mother’s milk, who doubts that formula will be banned in hospitals and — like large sodas — in stores?

A near ban on infant formula is, it seems, the ultimate objective of the United Nations. Its World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) launched a program called the Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) in 1991 with the express purpose of getting governments the world over to promote heavily, if not mandate, “exclusive breastfeeding from birth for 6 months, and continued breastfeeding with timely and appropriate complementary feeding for two years or longer.”

WHO and UNICEF actually have a “Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding” — nothing must be left to the chance decisions of individuals — that calls for, in each country, “appointing a national breastfeeding coordinator” and a “national breastfeeding committee”; “ensuring that every facility providing maternity services” strongly encourages breastfeeding, including by withholding formula “unless medically indicated”; enforcing the “International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes,” which demands that hospitals not promote or even display formula; and “enacting imaginative legislation protecting the breastfeeding rights of working women.” The 80-page BFHI suggests numerous ways that governments can implement the global strategy; Bloomberg’s program — which, according to the Huffington Post, is “sponsored by” the WHO — represents just the tip of the iceberg.

Isn’t it curious that while the UN and Bloomberg are both, as they would have it, in favor of a woman’s right to choose whether to give birth or to kill her baby in utero, once that baby exits the womb alive these same people would deny the woman the right to choose what to feed her child? Talk about misplaced priorities.


“Fuel economy standards can’t just be some number picked out of thin air. They have to be based on consumer demand,” NADA's Bailey Wood said in a statement earlier this year. “If dealers can’t sell these vehicles, then you defeat any other benefits you were seeking.”

Obama Fuel Economy Standards to Boost Vehicle Prices

Written by Brian Koenig

Moving forward with President Obama’s environmental agenda, the White House is expected to authorize new federal auto standards in the coming weeks that will nearly double fuel economy requirements for vehicles by 2025. The regulations require a “fleet wide” gas mileage, or the average fuel economy for all cars, vans, trucks, and other vehicles, of 54.4 miles per gallon.

“This agreement on fuel standards represents the single most important step we’ve ever taken as a nation to reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” Obama said in July 2011 when he unveiled the standards. “Using less oil also means our cars will produce fewer emissions. So when your kids are biking around the neighborhood, they’ll be breathing less pollution and fewer toxins.”

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) filed their 2017-2025 fuel-efficiency proposal in July with the Office of Management and Budget, and a final decision is expected sometime in August. While higher fuel economy will save drivers money on gasoline, new vehicles could cost them as much as $3,000 more, according to government estimates. However, as The New American reported in February, that number could be a whole lot more:

“That figure combines the administration’s cost estimate for fuel economy standards from 2012–2025,” [Fox News’ Judson] Berger writes. “The NADA [National Automobile Dealers Association], though, says that estimate doesn’t factor in certain elements like advertising, and pegged the actual increase at more like $5,000.”

A study by the Center for Automotive Research last year indicates that the cost of meeting the new standards is approximately $10,000 extra per new vehicle, an estimate the Center has admitted to be low.

Critics have voiced an array of concerns about the new standards, including one that may hinder buyers from securing loans for new vehicles, which would weigh down on U.S. automakers such as Chrysler and General Motors, which received billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded bailouts to avoid bankruptcy during the recession.

“Dealers support fuel economy increases,” said Bailey Wood, a spokesman for the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA). “But if dealers cannot put vehicles on the road, we cannot reduce greenhouse gases or our dependence on foreign oil.”

A February 2012 study commissioned by NADA reported that millions of potential car buyers, including college students and working families, will be ousted from the new-vehicle market, as they will no longer qualify for loans:

Based on the NHTSA $2,937 cost estimate, the proposal will increase the minimum cost of a new vehicle to approximately $15,700 in 2010 dollars and remove 3.1-4.2 million households or 5.8-6.8 million licensed drivers from the new vehicle market by 2025, assuming incomes, non-vehicle debt burdens and the 40% maximum debt to income ratio standard remain constant. A $4,803 cost increase would remove 5.4-5.9 million households or 10.0-11.0 million licensed drivers from the new vehicle market by 2025. Lastly, a $12,349 cost increase would remove 14.9 million households or approximately 27.7 million licensed drivers from the new vehicle market by 2025.

Another major concern is that Obama’s plan, which pushes heavily for the use of expensive hybrid and electric cars, will force drivers to hold on to their existing vehicles or nudge them to purchase used vehicles with lower gas mileage. Regardless of market demand, the administration unveiled a $5-million initiative in May “to help expand the use of alternative-fuel vehicles, including electric vehicles (EVs), in cities and towns across the country.”

Of course, the sticker prices for these vehicles are astronomical — so high that car buyers would actually save money purchasing a Mercedes-Benz C350 over the administration’s oft-touted Chevy Volt. Simply put, consumers are not ready to pay $40,000 for a smaller, slower, and less attractive vehicle.

The 55 miles per gallon standard, which many leaders in the auto industry claim is far too high, is leaving automakers in a position where they will have to pour billions of dollars more into research and development. In fact, the government reports that the mandate will cost automakers $8.5 billion per year to comply. After factoring in these added costs, the Wall Street Journal previously noted, “Vehicles that currently cost $15,000 or less will effectively be regulated out of existence.”

In an effort to meet Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) mandates, Sam Kazman of the Competitive Enterprise Institute asserts that some automakers are actually removing spare tires in order to scrap excess car weight:

But the fact that spares are being eliminated in the name of fuel economy, rather than market demand, demolishes one of the chief claims of CAFE's advocates. For several decades, the need to reduce vehicle size and weight in order to raise mileage has been CAFE's Achilles' heel. Smaller, lighter cars not only hold fewer passengers and less baggage; they're also less crashworthy. CAFE-induced downsizing causes several thousand additional traffic deaths per year.

Furthermore, CNN reported that the Obama administration’s standards could be devastating to smaller automakers:

Stricter fuel economy requirements could spell trouble for smaller automakers that lack the research and engineering staffs to come up with new fuel-saving technologies, said industry analyst Dave Sullivan of Autopacific.

Also, smaller automakers don't have as broad a range of models to work with. Their larger competitors can improve their average fuel economy simply by incentivizing sales of smaller cars at the expense of larger ones.

The underlying factor is consumer demand, and whether Americans will be able, or willing, to pay a much higher cost for a new vehicle — even if it gets better gas mileage. “Fuel economy standards can’t just be some number picked out of thin air. They have to be based on consumer demand,” NADA's Bailey Wood said in a statement earlier this year. “If dealers can’t sell these vehicles, then you defeat any other benefits you were seeking.”


In the Minds of Drone Murderers...

Mothers, don't let your sons grow up to be drone operators....

Portrait of a Drone Killer: ‘I Have a Duty, and I Execute My Duty’

Posted by William Grigg

One wonders if drone pilot Col. D. Scott Brenton listens to Louis Armstrong in the suburban Air National Guard Base in Syracuse from which he murders people 7,000 miles away.

“I see mothers with children, I see fathers with children, I see fathers with mothers, I see kids playing soccer,” Brenton tells the New York Times. Drone operators see their intended targets “wake up in the morning, do their work, go to sleep at night,” explains Dave, another high-tech murderer who killed from an office cockpit at Nevada’s Creech Air Force Base and who now trains new recruits to the cyber-killer corps at New Mexico’s Holloman Air Force Base.

When instructed to kill someone he has stalked from the air for a prolonged period, “I feel no emotional attachment to the enemy,” Brenton insists. I have a duty, and I execute my duty.” When the deed is done, he points out, nobody “in my immediate environment is aware of anything that has occurred.”

“There was a good reason for killing the people that I did, and I go through it in my head over and over and over,” insists another drone operator named Will, who — like Dave — served a deskbound “combat” tour at Creech and now trains others to do likewise at Holloman Air Base.

Like the soldier Bates in Henry V, it’s sufficient for Will — and others of his ilk — to render obedience to their Leader, confident that “if his cause be wrong, our obedience to the king wipes the crime of it out of us.” The more concise and notorious formula, of course, is: We are only obeying orders. Besides, drone operators (who insist on being called “combat pilots”) are carrying out an indispensable function by picking off Afghan “militants” — or at least those “suspected” of such tendencies — who unreasonably resent the presence of foreign military personnel in their country.

The New York Times profile is part of a campaign by the state-aligned media to “humanize” the state functionaries who murder by remote control — and to normalize this mode of mass murder as drones become part of the domestic apparatus of surveillance, regimentation, and repression. Readers are invited to share the anguish of these conflicted people, who for reasons of duty have to do terrible but necessary things.

In her book Eichmann in Jerusalem, Hannah Arendt offered a glimpse into the mindset of SS personnel who were given a somewhat similar assignment. To carry out their killing errand, she explained, something had to be done "to overcome not so much their conscience as the animal pity by which all normal men are affected in the presence of physical suffering."

"The trick used by Himmler ... was very simple and probably very effective; it consisted in turning these instincts around, as it were, in directing them toward the self," Arendt recounted. "So that instead of saying: What horrible things I did to people!, the murderers would be able to say: What horrible things I had to watch in the pursuance of my duties, how heavily the task weighed upon my shoulders!"

Not everybody attached to the Regime’s Cyber-Killing Corps is haunted by the horrors he has inflicted on defenseless people halfway around the world. In a 2009 U.S. Naval Academy lecture, Dr. P.W. Singer of the Brookings Institution made reference to what he called "predator porn" — footage of drone attacks proudly circulated by the people who committed those acts. In a typical offering, Dr. Singer relates, "A Hellfire missile drops, goes in, and hits the target, followed by an explosion and bodies tossed into the air." Singer described one clip of that kind, sent to him by a joystick-wielding assassin, that "was set to music, the pop song 'I Just Want to Fly' by the band Sugar Ray.”

"It's like a videogame," one deskbound drone jockey told Singer. "It can get a little bloodthirsty. But it's f****g cool."

Singer describes asking a drone pilot "what it was like to fight insurgents in Iraq while based in Nevada. He said, 'You are going to war for 12 hours, shooting weapons at targets, directing kills on enemy combatants, and then you get in the car and you drive home. And within 20 minutes, you're sitting at the dinner table talking to your kids about their homework." Meanwhile, somewhere in Iraq (or Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, or another country yet to be identified), other families are desperately looking through the rubble of their own homes in search of survivors.

Although drone strikes occur daily, most Americans pay little heed to them — beyond occasionally taking inconsolable offense when a dissident publicly describes them as acts of murder, and insults the Dear Leader by daring to compare him to less prolific killers.

This may change soon: As the Times points out, the Pentagon — driven by “a near insatiable demand for drones” — is training hundreds of operators to join the corps of more than 1,300 currently stationed at more than a dozen bases across the country. Surveillance drones operated by domestic police agencies are already plying the skies above us. Those robot aircraft can be upgraded to airborne weapons platforms, and they soon will. The people being trained to feel “no emotional attachment” to foreigners designated enemies of the state will feel no particular burden when ordered to kill fellow Americans on that list. I’m sure that the “combat pilots” who murdered U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son Abdulrahman would testify to that fact — that is, if the “heroes” who committed those acts were man enough to acknowledge their deeds in public.


What Do We Get For A Trillion U.S. Dollars Spent On Iraq?

The 2 Party System Must Go! Jesse Ventura speaks with Coast to Coast's George Noory...

"...if we are going to go to war again, this time with Iran, the decision should be made in America, according to our Constitution, not by any other country."

Is Mitt Being Neoconned Into War?

by Patrick J. Buchanan

Has Mitt Romney given Israel a blank check for war?

So it seemed from the declaration in Jerusalem by his adviser Dan Senor, who all but flashed Israel a green light for war, signaling the Israelis that, if you go, Mitt's got your back:

"If Israel has to take action on its own in order to stop Iran from developing that capability, the governor would respect that decision."

"No option would be excluded. Gov. Romney recognizes Israel's right to defend itself and that it is right for America to stand with it."

What does "stand with" Israel, if she launches a surprise attack on Iran, mean? Does it mean the United States will guide Israeli planes to their targets and provide bases on their return? Does it mean U.S. air cover while Israeli planes strike Iran?

This would make America complicit in a pre-emptive strike and a co-belligerent in the war to follow.

What Senor said comes close to being a U.S. war guarantee for Israel, while leaving the decision as to when the war begins to them.

This country has never done that before.

And what does Senor mean by Israel's need to act "to stop Iran from developing (the) capability" to acquire nuclear weapons?

The collective decision of 16 U.S. intelligence agencies in 2007 – that Iran is not pursuing a nuclear weapon – reportedly reaffirmed in 2011 – has never been rescinded. Nor has the White House produced any hard evidence Iran is building a bomb.

Moreover, Iran's known nuclear facilities are under inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Does the government know something the American people are not being told?

Undeniably, Iran, by enriching uranium to 3.5 percent, then up to 20 percent, has a greater "capability" than five years ago of building a nuclear weapon. But Japan, South Korea and Brazil also have that capability – and none has decided to build a nuclear weapon.

Gov. Romney did not go as far as Senor, but he, too, seems to be saying that not only is Iran's possession of a nuclear weapon a casus belli for the United States, even an Iran that is capable of building such a weapon is intolerable.

"The regime in Iran is five years closer to developing nuclear weapons capability," said Romney. "Preventing that outcome must be our highest national security priority."

Preventing what outcome is "our highest national security priority"?

Stopping Iran from building a bomb? Or stopping Iran from being able to build a bomb years from now?

The governor seems to be aligning himself with Israel's hawks who are demanding that not only must Iran swear off nuclear weapons forever, Iran must cease all enrichment of uranium, and dismantle the facilities at Natanz and Fordow.

Romney's policy is zero enrichment, said Senor. Tehran must understand that "the alternative to zero enrichment is severe, and that's why the threat of military force has to be critical."

This is tantamount to an ultimatum to Tehran: Either give up all enrichment of uranium and any right to enrich, or face war.

Here we come to the heart of the issue, which may be impossible to resolve short of war.

Unlike its neighbors Israel and Pakistan, Iran has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has no nuclear weapons. The ayatollah has said they are immoral and Iran will not acquire them.

But under the NPT, Iran claims the right to enrich uranium and seek the benefits of nuclear technology. And in that decision, the people of Iran stand behind their government.

Is denying Iran the right to enrich uranium a reason for America to plunge into its fifth war in that region in a generation?

That appears where we are headed. Reportedly, Obama's national security adviser recently briefed Bibi Netanyahu on the specifics of U.S. contingency plans to attack Iran.

Has Congress been briefed? Have the American people been consulted? Or are we simply irrelevant?

A decade ago, this country sent an army up to Baghdad to overthrow Saddam and strip Iraq of a vast arsenal of chemical and biological weapons we were told it had and was preparing to use.

We were misled; we were deceived; we were lied to.

Before we outsource to Bibi and Ehud Barak the decision to take us to war with a country three times the size of Iraq, we need to know:

Was the U.S. intelligence community wrong in 2007 and 2011? Is Iran hell-bent on building nuclear weapons? If so, where are they constructing and testing these weapons?

Finally, if Iran is willing to permit intrusive inspections of its actual and suspected nuclear sites, but insists on its right to enrich uranium, should we go to war to deny them that right?

But if we are going to go to war again, this time with Iran, the decision should be made in America, according to our Constitution, not by any other country.

CIA bagman and Bush pal is presumed dead...

Unofficial Reports: Al-Qaeda’s Chief Financier Bandar Bush Is Dead

Saman Mohammadi

On Sunday, July 29, Voltaire Network reported that Prince Bandar bin Sultan is dead. He served as Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Washington from 1983 to 2005, and was just recently promoted to the head of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence agency. Apparently, he was killed from injuries suffered in a bomb blast on July 26.

Voltaire Network explains that the attack was orchestrated by the government of Syria as an act of retaliation for the bombing of high-level Syrian generals in Damascus on July 18 that was overseen directly by Prince Bandar, who is also known as Bandar Bush.

Here is an excerpt from Voltaire Network’s article called, “Syria reportedly eliminated Bandar bin Sultan in retaliation for Damascus bombing”:

“Though not yet announced by the Saudi authorities, the death of Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has been confirmed to Voltaire Network by unofficial souces.

Prince Bandar had just been appointed head of Saudi intelligence on July 24: a promotion which was interpreted as a reward for having organized the attack in Damascus on July 18. The Saudi services, with logistical support from the CIA, had managed to blow up the headquarters of the Syrian National Security during a Crisis Cell meeting: Generals Assef Chaoukat, Daoud Rajha and Hassan Tourkmani were killed instantly. General Amin Hicham Ikhtiar died soon after from his wounds. This operation, called “Damascus Volcano” was the signal for the attack on the capital by a swarm of mercenaries, mainly coming from Jordan.

Prince Bandar was himself the target of a bomb attack on July 26, and subsequently succumbed to his injuries.” [1].

If the unofficial reports are true then Bandar Bush’s absence from the region in this volatile period will be missed by the CIA. Who will steady the ship in Saudi Arabia now that the CIA’s safe pair of hands is gone?

The significance of Bandar Bush’s death cannot be overstated. It marks the end of an era in U.S.-Saudi relations, and in the history of the Middle East as a whole.

Bandar Bush was credited as Al-Qaeda’s chief financier, although the details of his links to the false flag September 11 events have been suppressed in the mainstream press, for obvious reasons.

In the weeks and months ahead the situation in Syria and the Middle East could unravel at an even greater speed and turn catastrophic. Heads of states, intelligence chiefs, and high-level generals are being targeted for assassination. Everybody is fair game.

II. The Death of The Prince of Darkness

“Swift death rushes upon us.” – Horace.

On Monday, July 30, Voltaire Network confirmed its report that Bandar Bush is dead and added that the Saudi leadership has not answered questions from the international media about whether Bandar Bush is dead or alive.

It is highly suspicious that the Saudi government is not setting the record straight about the status of Bandar Bush. His sudden death, coming just days after he was hailed as the new leader of Saudi intelligence, is an incredibly important and shocking development that has major political and military ramifications.

Here is an excerpt from Voltaire Net’s second article on this developing story called, “Riyad neither confirms nor denies Prince Bandar’s death”:

“All through the day, numerous media have tried to ascertain whether or not Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has been the victim of a deadly attack on July 26, as announced by Voltaire Network citing a non official-source.

Strangely, Saudi authorities have not responded to inquiries by the media, refusing to confirm or deny the death of their newly appointed chief of the intelligence services.” [2].

It appears that Syria has inflicted a severe loss on the Saudi and American leadership, and they do not want to admit it because it is humiliating. If this analysis is not right, then why else are they silent about his death?

The editors of Voltaire Network write that, “regardless of whether the Prince is dead or alive, such muteness denotes a serious disarray within the Saudi royal family.”

Silence in this situation is a sign of weakness. Only admitting the full truth would minimize the damage that has already been caused. Such damage cannot be undone. It would be a serious mistake if the Saudis invented a cover story to make it appear that Bandar Bush was killed for reasons other than a successful Syrian counter-attack.

Concealing a security failure does not erase it from the record of history.


‘Panetta has blood on his hands for supporting Syria rebels’...

"Our problem is not that there is not enough money floating around. Our problem is that there is way, way too much debt."

11 Signs That Time Is Quickly Running Out For The Global Financial System

Michael Snyder

Are we rapidly approaching a moment of reckoning for the global financial system? August is likely to be a relatively slow month as most of Europe is on vacation, but after that we will be moving into a “danger zone” where just about anything could happen. Historically, a financial crisis has been more likely to happen in the fall than during any other time, and this fall is shaping up to be a doozy. Much of the focus of the financial world is on whether or not the euro is going to break up, but even if the authorities in Europe are able to keep the euro together we are still facing massive problems. Countries such as Greece and Spain are already experiencing depression-like conditions, and much of the rest of the globe is sliding into recession. Unemployment has already risen to record levels in some parts of Europe, major banks all over Europe are teetering on the brink of insolvency, and the flow of credit is freezing up all over the planet. If things take a really bad turn, this crisis could become much worse than the financial crisis of 2008 very quickly.

All over the world people are starting to write about the possibility of a major economic crisis starting this fall.

For example, a recent article in the International Business Times discussed how some economists around the globe are fearing the worst for the coming months….

The consensus? The world economy has entered a final countdown with three months left, and investors should pencil in a collapse in either August or September.

Citing a theory he has been espousing since 2010 that predicts “a future lack of policy flexibility from the monetary and fiscal side,” Jim Reid, a strategist at Deutsche Bank, wrote a note Tuesday that gloated “it feels like Europe has proved us right.”

“The U.S. has the ability to disprove the universal nature of our theory,” Reid wrote, but “if this U.S. cycle is of completely average length as seen using the last 158 years of history (33 cycles), then the next recession should start by the end of August.”

The global financial system is so complex and there are so many thousands of moving parts that it is always difficult to put an exact date on anything. In fact, history is littered with economists that have ended up looking rather foolish by putting a particular date on a prediction.

But without a doubt we are starting to see storm clouds gather for this fall.

The following are 11 more signs that time is quickly running out for the global financial system….

#1 A number of very important events regarding the financial future of Europe are going to happen in the month of September. The following is from a recent Reuters article that detailed many of the key things that are currently slated to occur during that month….

In that month a German court makes a ruling that could neuter the new euro zone rescue fund, the anti-bailout Dutch vote in elections just as Greece tries to renegotiate its financial lifeline, and decisions need to be made on whether taxpayers suffer huge losses on state loans to Athens.

On top of that, the euro zone has to figure out how to help its next wobbling dominoes, Spain and Italy – or what do if one or both were to topple.

#2 Reuters is reporting that Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos has suggested that Spain may need a 300 billion euro bailout.

#3 Spain continues to slide deeper into recession. The Spanish economy contracted 0.4 percent during the second quarter of 2012 after contracting 0.3 percent during the first quarter.

#4 The unemployment rate in Spain is now up to 24.6 percent.

#5 According to the Wall Street Journal, a new 30 billion euro hole has been discovered in the financial rescue plan for Greece.

#6 Morgan Stanley is projecting that the unemployment rate in Greece will exceed 25 percent in 2013.

#7 It is now being projected that the Greek economy will shrink by a total of 7 percent during 2012.

#8 German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble says that the rest of Europe will not be making any more concessionsfor Greece.

#9 The UK economy has now plunged into a deep recession. During the second quarter of 2012 alone, the UK economy contracted by 0.7 percent.

#10 The Dallas Fed index of general business activity fell dramatically to -13.2 in July. This was a huge surprise and it is yet another indication that the U.S. economy is rapidly heading into a recession.

#11 As I have written about previously, a banking crisis is more likely to happen in the fall than at any other time during the year. The global financial system will enter a “danger zone” starting in September, and none of us need to be reminded that the crashes of 1929, 1987 and 2008 all happened during the second half of the year.

So is there any hope on the horizon?

European leaders have tried short-term solution after short-term solution and none of them have worked.

Now countries all over Europe are sliding into depression and the authorities in Europe seem to be all out of answers. The following is what one eurozone diplomat said recently….

“For two years we’ve been pumping up the life raft, taking decisions that fill it with just enough air to keep it afloat even though it has a leak,” the diplomat said. “But now the leak has got so big that we can’t pump air into the raft quickly enough to keep it afloat.”

The boat is filling up with water faster than they can bail it out.

So what is the solution?

Well, some of the top names in economics on both sides of the Atlantic are urging authorities to keep the debt bubble pumped up by printing lots and lots more money.

For example, even though the U.S. government is already running trillion dollar deficits New York Times “economist” Paul Krugman is boldly proclaiming that now is the time to print and borrow even more money. He is proud to be a Keynesian, and he says that “you should be a Keynesian, too.”

Across the pond, the International Business Editor of the Telegraph, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, is strongly urging the ECB to print more money….

Needless to say, I will be advocating 1933 monetary stimulus à l’outrance, or trillions of asset purchases through old fashioned open-market operations through the quantity of money effect (NOT INTEREST RATE ‘CREDITISM’) to avert deflation – and continue doing so until nominal GDP is restored to its trend line, at which point the stimulus can be withdrawn again.

But is more money and more debt really the solution to anything?

In the United States, M2 recent surpassed the 10 trillion dollar mark for the first time ever. It has increased in size by more than 5 times over the past 30 years.

Unfortunately, our debt has been growing much faster than GDP has over that time period.

For example, during the second quarter of 2012 U.S. government debt grew by 274.3 billion dollars but U.S. GDP only grew by 117.6 billion dollars.

Our problem is not that there is not enough money floating around.

Our problem is that there is way, way too much debt.

But this is how things always go with fiat currencies.

There is always the temptation to print more.

That is one of the big reasons why every single fiat currency in history has eventually collapsed.

Printing more money will not solve our problems. It will just cause our problems to take a different form.

In the end, nothing that the authorities can do will be able to avert the crisis that is coming.

A lot of people are starting to realize this, and that is one reason why we are seeing so much economic pessimism right now.

For example, according to a new Rasmussen poll only 14 percent of all Americans believe that children in America today will be “better off” than their parents.

That is an absolutely stunning figure, but it just shows us where we are at.

Our economy has been in decline for a long time, and now we are rapidly approaching another major downturn.

You better buckle up, because this downturn is not going to be pleasant at all.


Monday, July 30, 2012

Sign the petition...

In the second season the stars will have arms and legs amputated so they can compete with wounded vets...

NBC Invents War-o-tainment

Demand a more accurate picture of war by signing the petition to NBC below.

NBC has created an entertainment show that breaks new ground. "Stars Earn Stripes" will be co-hosted by retired U.S. general Wesley Clark. NBC is promoting the show during its Summer Olympics telecast as the next big sporting event. But the sport it's exhibiting is war.

On "Stars Earn Stripes," celebrities will pair-up with members of the U.S. military to compete at war-like tasks, including "long-range weapons fire." Only there won't be any of the killing or dying.

Our wars kill huge numbers of people, primarily civilians, and often children and the elderly. NBC is not showing this reality on its war-o-tainment show any more than on its news programs. Other nations' media show the face of war, giving people a very different view of war-making.

In the United States, our tax dollars are spent by the billions each year marketing the idea that war is a sport and associating the military with sporting events. Media companies like NBC are complicit in the propaganda.

While 57% of federal discretionary spending goes to the military, weapons makers can't seem to get enough of our tax dollars. In the spirit of transferring veterans' care to the realm of private charity, "Stars Earn Stripes" will give prize money each week to "military-based charities" in order to "send a message." We have our own message that we will be delivering to NBC: Dont lie to us.

One of NBC’s corporate parents, General Electric, takes war very seriously, but not as human tragedy -- rather, as financial profit. (GE is a big weapons manufacturer.) A retired general hosting a war-o-tainment show is another step in the normalization of permanent war.

Please sign this short petition to NBC:

Dear NBC,
Your entertainment show "Stars Earn Stripes" treats war as sport. This does us all a disservice. We ask that you air an in-depth segment showing the reality of civilian victims of recent U.S. wars, on any program, any time in the coming months. ( has provided a few resources to help you with your research.)

Sign the petition here:

Why we don't need more government. CPSC out to destroy a $50 million dollar company as well as jobs...

Buy them while you still can...

Facing Extinction at Bureaucrats’ Hands, Desk Toy Maker Fights Back

Written by Michael Tennant

Maxfield and Oberton, manufacturer and distributor of the popular Buckyballs desk toys, has a message for the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC): “Thank you for trying to drive a $50 million New York-based consumer product company out of business.”

A look at the CPSC’s recent actions bears out the company’s contention. On Wednesday the agency filed suit to force Maxfield’s Buckyballs, Buckycubes, and other similar products off the market because children occasionally ingest the small, BB-sized magnets that make up the products and become ill, some requiring hospitalization and even surgery as a result.

“Before filing the lawsuit and giving Maxfield and Oberton the opportunity to defend itself and its products, CPSC systematically began contacting its retailers giving them 48 hours to tell the government that they would stop selling Buckyballs and Buckycubes,” the company explained on its website. “Some retailers capitulated to this so-called voluntary request for fear of retribution if they did not acquiesce.”

According to the Washington Post, Amazon and Brookstone, among others, caved in to government pressure to stop selling the products, and eBay “agreed to take steps to remove listings of these items.”

There is little question that swallowing these small magnets can do harm. Multiple magnets can attach to each other, tearing holes in the stomach and intestines or causing other injuries. The CPSC says it “has learned of more than two dozen ingestion incidents, with at least one dozen involving Buckyballs.” As unfortunate as such incidents are, they are still relatively rare: Over two million Buckyball sets and 200,000 Buckycubes — each set containing either 125 or 216 balls or cubes — have been sold since 2009.

“Obviously the bureaucrats see danger everywhere, and those responsible people — like our company who have vigorously promoted safety and appropriate use of our products — gets put out of business by an unfair and arbitrary process,” said Craig Zucker, founder and CEO of Maxfield and Oberton. “I don’t understand how and why they did this without following their own rules before allowing us to make our case. It almost seems like they simply wanted to put our products and industry out of business.”

It is not as if Maxfield has been unwilling to work with the CPSC, unconstitutional and high-handed though it may be, in the past. Writes the Post:

In May 2010, the company voluntarily recalled 175,000 Buckyball sets at the commission’s request because their labels said products were intended for ages 13 and older. Federal rules prohibit such loose magnets from being sold to kids younger than 14.

Since the recall, the company has changed its labeling to reflect the older demographic. The company has put warnings in five places on its packaging to notify consumers that its products are not intended for children. And it has set up a Web site devoted to educating doctors, parents and retailers about safe use of its magnets.

Apparently that wasn’t good enough for the CPSC, and so it is taking Maxfield to court to force its products off the market. The last time the agency tried this approach was in 2001, when it went after BB guns made by Daisy Manufacturing; it settled for more prominent safety warnings and an educational campaign by the company. Since Maxfield has already done about all it can with warnings and education, it’s not farfetched to believe that the agency’s latest move is aimed at putting the company out of business.

As should be obvious from the previous quotations from the company’s website, Maxfield — unlike the other companies contacted by the CPSC in recent days — isn’t taking this lying down. Zucker said the company finds the CPSC’s tactics “unfair, unjust and un-American” and “will vigorously fight this action taken by President Obama’s hand picked agency.” The company asks fans of their products to “comment on Facebook; send a tweet; tell your friends; complain loudly; or just buy a set to stick it to the CPSC.”

Maxfield has even seized on an obvious contradiction in the agency’s logic. In its lawsuit, the CPSC declares that misuse of the company’s products is “inevitable,” despite the multiple warnings on the packaging and the company’s safety website. “By doing so,” says the company, “CPSC has called into question the efficacy of all of the warnings the agency relies upon.” It points out that the agency has seen fit to permit products that have caused not just injuries but deaths when misused to remain on the market as long as they have appropriate warning messages. “But for some reason when it comes to an American company that sells Buckyballs exclusively to adults, the CPSC takes a different approach and decides that warnings don’t work. The Company believes the CPSC can’t have it both ways.”

None of this is likely to sway the safety czars at the CPSC, who have nothing to lose by digging Maxfield’s grave; but it may help the company immensely in the court of public opinion. Americans who are fed up with officious bureaucrats — and who, along with Zucker, are asking, “How can this happen in America?” — will hopefully rally to the side of a company that refuses to kowtow to the D.C. desk jockeys.


War Under Table: Ex-Blackwater mercs in Syria 'backed by US' ...

From the Washington Post no less...

Let’s shatter the myth on Glass-Steagall

Steven Pearlstein

You can blame Aaron Sorkin for this column.

I was watching “The Newsroom” last week, the latest hit show by the producer and screenwriter, when the brainy-but-beautiful economics correspondent for the fictional cable news network was explaining to her gutsy-but-impulsive executive producer how the world’s financial system recently came to the brink of collapse.

“So after the Great Depression, Congress wanted to put a firewall between the [banks and the] investment banks. They wanted to make sure that Wall Street could melt to the ground and the commercial banks wouldn’t be touched. They passed a law, the Glass-Steagall Act. Now you could be Gordon Gekko [tycoon in the movie “Wall Street] or George Bailey [small-town banker in the movie classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life”], but you couldn’t be both.”

Then, explains the brainy-but-beautiful correspondent, Ronald Reagan launched a two-decade push toward deregulation, which culminates in the repeal of Glass-Steagall in 1999. Suddenly, Gordon Gekko could make risky bets with George Bailey’s deposits, and the rest, as they say, is history.

It was vintage Sorkin: eloquent, fast-paced dialogue that perfectly channels the liberal political/cultural zeitgeist, transforming what appears to be a complex story into a simple morality play.

The only thing is, it’s not true — not even close. Yet it has been repeated so many times — on PBS and NPR, in the liberal blogosphere, on very-serious Op-Ed pages, in an Oscar-winning documentary — that whenever I give a talk to a group of college students about the financial crisis, the first question predictably is, “Yeah, isn’t it all really about the repeal of Glass-Steagall.”

It’s not just students, however. Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, surely helped to validate the Glass-Steagall fable with his fixation on a new rule barring banks from using their own capital to speculate in securities. And British regulators are considering a proposal to put a fence around their banks. Then, just last week Sandy Weill — who flouted Glass-Steagall in creating today’s Citigroup before Congress finally repealed it — even the wily Weill said the old law should now be reinstated.

Repeal of Glass-Steagall has become for the Democratic left what Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are for the Republican right — a simple and facially plausible conspiracy theory about the crisis that reinforces what they already believed about financial markets and economic policy.

But why let facts get in the way of a good screenplay?

Facts such as that Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch — three institutions at the heart of the crisis — were pure investment banks that had never crossed the old line into commercial banking. The same goes for Goldman Sachs, another favorite villain of the left.

The infamous AIG? An insurance firm. New Century Financial? A real estate investment trust. No Glass-Steagall there.

Two of the biggest banks that went under, Wachovia and Washington Mutual, got into trouble the old-fashioned way – largely by making risky loans to homeowners. Bank of America nearly met the same fate, not because it had bought an investment bank but because it had bought Countrywide Financial, a vanilla-variety mortgage lender.

Meanwhile, J.P. Morgan and Wells Fargo — two large banks with big investment banking arms — resisted taking government capital and arguably could have weathered the crisis without it.

Did U.S. investment banks create a shadow banking system and derivatives market outside the normal regulatory framework that encouraged sloppy lending and created what turned out to be toxic securities? You betcha.

And did regular banks make some of those bad loans and buy up some of those toxic securities? Yes, they did.

But that was as much a problem at the banks and investment banks that combined as those that remained independent. More significantly, the bulk of the money that flowed through the shadow banking system didn’t come from government-insured bank deposits. It came from money market funds, hedge funds, pension funds, insurance companies, foreign banks and foreign central banks.

Confronted with these inconvenient facts, the conspiracists like to double-down and argue that the real damage caused by repeal of Glass-Steagall is that it triggered a wave of bank consolidation — which has now left more than half of the country’s banking assets under the control of a handful of institutions that are so big that the government has no choice but to bail them out if they risk a meltdown of the financial system.

No doubt about it — too-big-to-fail is a problem. It turns out, however, that it was also a problem in 1984, when Continental Illinois, the seventh-largest U.S. bank with a whopping $40 billion in assets, had to be rescued. It was a problem a few years later when the Fed quietly rescued Citicorp because of mountains of loans to Latin American governments that turned sour. It was a problem in 1998 when the Fed had to orchestrate the rescue of Long-Term Capital Management, a hedge fund with less than $5 billion in capital. And it was the reason behind the Fed’s 2007 rescue of Bear Stearns, with less than a quarter the size of its biggest Wall Street rivals.

A bank doesn’t have to have $1 trillion in assets to be too big to fail. Context matters. It depends on how much it has borrowed from, or lent to, other financial institutions. And it depends on the degree to which the banks are a counterparty on futures, credit-default swaps and other derivatives contracts.

The decision of whether an institution needs to be rescued also depends on the overall state of the market. When markets are strong, the failure of even a highly visible institution might be dismissed as a one-off event. But when markets are nervous, even the failure of a second-tier institution can spook investors and lenders to begin pulling back from all similar institutions, creating a contagion effect that can send global markets crashing.

Don’t infer that I think bank consolidation has been a good thing. There aren’t many who have railed against it in print for as long, or as consistently, as I have — to no particular effect, I might add. But repeal of Glass-Steagall has not been the key driver of this consolidation, which began long before 1999...

Read the rest here:

Let's give him another Peace Prize...

Obama, NATO To Blame For Murder Of 1000s Of Civilians In Syria

Another reason not to watch the Olympics...

Critic of NBC has Twitter account suspended after network complains

Dan Wetzel

Guy Adams works as a writer for The Independent, a national newspaper in Great Britain. He lives in Los Angeles. Throughout the Olympics, he's taken to Twitter and ripped NBC repeatedly for its coverage of the Games in America.

Namely, he's criticized the network's reliance on using tape delays, a frustration shared by millions of viewers.

Only in a marriage of old media and social media, Guy Adams no longer has a Twitter account. It was suspended Tuesday, and both NBC and Twitter ought to be humiliated by their thin-skinned, heavy-handed, and essentially pointless behavior.

Adams was no doubt relentless in his tweets.

"Am I alone in wondering why NBColympics think its [sic] acceptable to pretend this road race is being broadcast live?" he wrote in one.

"Matt Lauer: ‘Madagascar, a location indelibly associated with a couple of recent animated movies,'" he mocked on another.

Adams encouraged Lauer "to shut up" and called out Gary Zenkel, the president of NBC Olympics, as the "moronic exec behind the time delay." And he said Zenkel should be fired...

Read more here:

Do you still believe what the corporate media is telling you about Syria???

Newspaper Uses Photoshop To Make Syria Look Even Worse Somehow

Brian Barrett

The Kronen Zeitung is Austria's largest newspaper, with a daily readership of around three million people. Yesterday, those readers were treated to the image on the left of war-torn Aleppo, bombed out and desperate. Except, as one sharp-eyed Redditor points out, that wasn't the scene at all. It was just another Photoshop job.

Just to be clear, the family in the photograph is, in fact, in Syria; the original photo (on the right) came from the European Pressphoto Agency. But merely fleeing a city ravaged by guns and mortars apparently isn't quite dramatic enough on its own. The editors of the Krone—as it's commonly called—needed this baby to sing.

Using Photoshop to make actresses and models look unrealistically attractive is bad enough. Using it to make a part of the world that has enough problems as it is look even more apocalyptic? That's just disgraceful.


Ain't no difference twixt the two...

A Philosophical Divide between Obama and Romney?
by Jacob G. Hornberger

Earlier this month, the New York Times published a hilarious article. It was entitled, “Philosophic Clash Over Government’s Role Highlights Parties’ Divide” by Peter Baker.

The article revolves around President Obama’s suggestion that people don’t really start their own businesses all by themselves. He pointed out that they actually have received the benefit of many other factors, for example schoolteachers and government infrastructure. Presumed GOP nominee Mitt Romney ridiculed this notion, suggesting that when people start their own businesses, that choice is entirely their own.

What a ridiculous debate, one that actually sheds no light whatsoever on the so-called philosophical divide between Obama and Romney. Of course people are the products of their knowledge and experiences. And of course they make their choices and are responsible for them.

But what does that “debate” have to do with the following philosophical issue: What should be the role of government in a free society? That’s the question that Baker should present to the Times’ readers and then show what differences there are, if any, between Obama and Romney.

Why wouldn’t Baker and the Times address the issue at that fundamental philosophical level? Well, perhaps because that would reveal that there isn’t any difference at all between conservatives and liberals when it comes to the role of government in a free society. They stand for the same philosophy and, consequently, the same programs.

Consider the following domestic programs: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schooling, farm subsidies, paper money, central banking (i.e., the Federal Reserve), FDIC, SBA, economic regulation, the drug war, minimum-wage laws, and income taxation.

Now, ask yourself: Which of those programs do Barack Obama and other liberals support?

Answer: All of them!

Now, ask yourself: Which of those programs do Mitt Romney and other conservatives support?

Answer: All of them!

So, if there was a big philosophical divide between Obama and Romney, wouldn’t there be a divergence when it comes to at least a few of those programs?

Why do Obama and Romney support those programs? Because philosophically they, like most other conservatives and liberals, believe that it is the role of government in a free society to take care of people and to manage the economy. The last thing in the world they want to do, despite their professed allegiance to “free enterprise” is to leave such decisions to the private, free-market sector.

Oh sure, they might disagree on the particular ways to reform or improve the welfare-state, planned-economy way of life but the fact is that they both embrace this way of life.

What about foreign-policy programs, such as hundreds of overseas military bases, foreign interventions, invasions, occupations, foreign aid, torture, assassinations, regime-change operations, the war on terrorism, influencing foreign elections, drones, the CIA, the military-industrial complex, Guantanamo Bay, and the enormous domestic military?

Both of them ardently support all of it! Why? Because they believe it is the role of government in a free society to be a military empire, one in which a “national-security state” plays a permanent and dominant role in the world and in the economy.

What about civil liberties? They both believe in the traditional emergency powers that dictatorships embrace during times of “crisis,” such as the power of the military to arrest citizens and cart them away to concentration camps or military dungeons for indefinite incarceration, torture, and perhaps even execution after some sort of kangaroo military tribunal.

Why do they favor such things? Because they believe it is rightful role of government to assume dictatorial powers in times of “crisis” in order to protect the people from such dangers as communism, terrorism, drug dealers, and the like.

So, given all that, where’s that big “philosophical divide” that Baker and the Times’ refer to?

It doesn’t exist! It just part of the mythology that conservatives and liberals, as well as the mainstream press, have long sold the American people, from the first grade on up. Enter the libertarians. Now, you’re talking about a genuine philosophical divide! But that’s precisely why conservatives and liberals wish that libertarians had never come into existence: We expose their mythology, their deception, and their delusion. We cause them and others to confront the reality — that there isn’t any philosophical difference between conservatives and liberals despite all the mainstream rhetoric to the contrary. Instead, the philosophical divide occurs between statists (which consist of conservatives and liberals) and libertarians.

Where do libertarians stand on all those above-listed domestic and foreign programs and infringements on civil liberties? We oppose them all. We would repeal them all. We would ditch immediately.

Why? Because we believe that it is not the role of government in a free society to take care of people or to be a military empire or to suspend freedoms for any reason including so-called crises. In fact, unlike statists we understand that such programs and infringements are directly antithetical to a free society. That is, any society that has such programs cannot truly be considered a free society.

We believe in the right of people to keep everything they earn and to decide for themselves what to do with it: spend, invest, save, hoard, donate, or whatever. We believe in the sanctity of private property and in the free market. We believe in the right of people to engage in any behavior whatsoever, so long as it is peaceful. We believe in a limited-government, constitutional republic.

For the next several months, the American people are going to be treated to the same standard bromides to which they have been treated since elementary school (and to which children in such schools are still treated). We’re going to be told ad infinitum, ad nauseum how Americans have a philosophical choice between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

Hopefully, increasing numbers of Americans will recognize the inanity for what it is.


"It’s ironic that while many conservative and Republican icons have joined the political left in exploiting the Colorado massacre to rhetorically ambush the second amendment, the federal government under the Obama administration is simultaneously arming itself to the teeth as part of preparations to deal with unruly Americans in the event of civil unrest."

Why Are Republicans Calling To Disarm The American People?

While the federal government is arming itself to the teeth against conservatives

Paul Joseph Watson

The recent deluge of attacks against the second amendment were completely predictable in the aftermath of the Colorado massacre, but what perhaps wasn’t so expected was the fact that a lot of them have come from so-called Republicans.

Although normally aligned with the right to keep and bear arms, over the last week numerous self-proclaimed conservatives have proven themselves to be wolves in sheep’s clothing.

The most recent rhetorical assault on gun rights came yesterday courtesy of Reagan appointee and so-called intellectual anchor of the Supreme Court’s conservative wing, Justice Antonin Scalia.

Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Scalia said that the second amendment leaves rooms for certain types of weapons to be regulated.

“It will have to be decided in future cases,” Scalia told host Chris Wallace, adding that “They had some limitations on the nature of arms that could be borne,” when the Constitution was signed.

Scalia’s remarks prompted outrage from conservatives, who accused him of selling out to the political left.

Other luminaries on the political right did not wait long before joining their contemporaries on the left to call for gun rights to be restricted.

Within 48 hours of the ‘Batman’ shooting, media mogul Rupert Murdoch, labeled a “GOP kingmaker” in the United States, voiced his support for restricting the second amendment, tweeting, “We have to do something about gun controls.”

Why Are Republicans Calling To Disarm The American People?

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While the federal government is arming itself to the teeth against conservatives

Paul Joseph Watson
Monday, July 30, 2012

The recent deluge of attacks against the second amendment were completely predictable in the aftermath of the Colorado massacre, but what perhaps wasn’t so expected was the fact that a lot of them have come from so-called Republicans.

Although normally aligned with the right to keep and bear arms, over the last week numerous self-proclaimed conservatives have proven themselves to be wolves in sheep’s clothing.

The most recent rhetorical assault on gun rights came yesterday courtesy of Reagan appointee and so-called intellectual anchor of the Supreme Court’s conservative wing, Justice Antonin Scalia.

Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Scalia said that the second amendment leaves rooms for certain types of weapons to be regulated.

“It will have to be decided in future cases,” Scalia told host Chris Wallace, adding that “They had some limitations on the nature of arms that could be borne,” when the Constitution was signed.

Scalia’s remarks prompted outrage from conservatives, who accused him of selling out to the political left.

Other luminaries on the political right did not wait long before joining their contemporaries on the left to call for gun rights to be restricted.

Within 48 hours of the ‘Batman’ shooting, media mogul Rupert Murdoch, labeled a “GOP kingmaker” in the United States, voiced his support for restricting the second amendment, tweeting, “We have to do something about gun controls.”

Similarly, in several shows broadcast in the days following the Colorado massacre, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly has repeatedly advocated the creation of a national database of gun owners, currently prohibited by federal law, joining the likes of Piers Morgan, Michael Moore and Michael Bloomberg in savaging the second amendment.

Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol also reacted to the Aurora shooting by calling for a reinstatement of the assault weapons ban. He was joined by talk radio host Michael Savage, who despite modeling himself as one of the Obama administration’s most ardent critics also advocated reintroducing the ban.

With so-called “conservatives” like this, who needs liberals?

Given the fact that virtually all of the names mentioned above are ardent supporters of Mitt Romney, who signed into law an assault weapons ban while Governor of Massachussets, in addition to making repeated public statementsabout supporting strict gun control laws in order to “provide for our safety,” whoever wins the presidential election, the next four years are going to be a battle for gun rights activists.

It’s ironic that while many conservative and Republican icons have joined the political left in exploiting the Colorado massacre to rhetorically ambush the second amendment, the federal government under the Obama administration is simultaneously arming itself to the teeth as part of preparations to deal with unruly Americans in the event of civil unrest.

While the Department of Homeland Security puts out requests for “riot gear” to deal with civil unrest during the upcoming RNC, DNC and presidential inauguration, the federal agency also recently awarded defense contractor ATK a deal to provide the DHS with 450 million rounds of bullets over a five year period.

The DHS has also recently purchased a number of bullet-proof checkpoint booths that include ‘stop and go’ lights.

Leading conservatives don’t seem too fussed at the fact that the federal government is gearing up for violence as it targets politically active conservatives as domestic extremists.

However, when it comes to calling for Americans to be disarmed and the second amendment to be eviscerated, the Republican establishment shows equal if not greater zeal than the left in rushing to blame tragedies such as the Aurora shooting on God-given rights enshrined in the very same Constitution that conservatives are supposed to uphold and cherish.


Whistleblocking: Obama pays billions to keep secrets out...

"Holmes, 24, appeared just as dazed as he did in his first court appearance last week..." He can't speak in a court room and seems drugged up but yet he was able to pull off the massacre without a hitch all by his lonesome? Yeah, sure...

James Eagan Holmes charged with murder, attempted murder from Colo. rampage

CENTENNIAL, Colo. - Colorado prosecutors filed 24 counts of murder charges Monday against James Eagan Holmes, the former neuroscience student accused of killing 12 people and injuring 58 others at an Aurora movie theater.

Prosecutors also filed 116 counts of attempted murder against Holmes, who Aurora police said booby trapped his apartment with the intent to kill any officers responding there the night of the theater attack. Among the charges Monday was one count of possession of explosives and one count of committing a crime of violence.

The breakdown of the charges was not immediately clear.

Holmes, 24, appeared just as dazed as he did in his first court appearance last week, but at one point exchanged a few words with one of his attorneys in the packed courtroom. He was not expected to enter pleas on Monday. He ultimately could verbally enter a plea, or his attorneys could enter it for him.


They should take the students and their teachers to the VA hospitals to visit the soldiers without arms and legs as a follow up...

Marines aim to counter teachers' opposition to recruiting students

Educators visit Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego to watch exercises, gain a more nuanced view of the military and maybe recommend it to students.

By Tony Perry and Howard Blume

The bellowing from the drill instructors began as soon as the newcomers arrived.

"GET OFF THE BUS!" barked one D.I.

It's a ritual reenacted countless times since 1923, when young men first began coming to boot camp to see if they were tough enough to be Marines.

But last week's group was not composed of frightened young recruits.

Instead they were high school teachers, guidance counselors and administrators from school districts in the Los Angeles and Sacramento areas. All had accepted the Marine Corps' invitation to spend four days at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, watching the training and talking to recruits, enlisted Marines and senior officers.

While some areas of the state embrace the military, the Los Angeles Unified School District, second largest in the country, has been more reticent. It gives recruiters no more access to students or their information than is granted to any other potential employer. Parents and older students also are allowed to restrict the release of personal information to military recruiters.

Some teachers in the district have launched "counter recruiting" efforts, warning students of physical danger, regimentation and loss of privacy and individuality that come with military service. Others put students on "don't call" lists.

"The U.S. continues to fight in wars that are opposed by the public, and yet the military can recruit with little opposition because working-class kids have few job options," said Joshua Pechthalt, president of the California Federation of Teachers and a critic of the Marine Corps program.

The Marine Corps hopes to counterbalance such hostility by inviting educators to what is called an "educator workshop."

A dozen times a year, the Marines welcome groups of about 80 educators to the San Diego boot camp. Most come from schools west of the Mississippi, the San Diego boot camp's recruiting region.

The Marine Corps picks up the tab for travel, lodging and incidentals, about $800,000 a year. The Marine Corps' other boot camp, in Parris Island, S.C., has a similar program.

"Please ask a lot of questions," Col. Michael Lee, commanding officer of the recruit training regiment in San Diego, told the group once the drill instructors stopped screaming. "The best thing you can do is gain knowledge and go back and share it with people who do not have it."

An early question from one teacher was whether recruits may someday go to war.

The answer from Col. Robert Gates, chief of staff for the boot camp and the western recruiting region, was direct: "The Marine Corps is primarily a combat-arms organization, that's what we do," he said. But he noted that U.S. involvement in Afghanistan is waning.

One teacher asked whether the Marine Corps is a refuge for young men who would otherwise be sent to jail. Maybe long ago, but not today, Gates said.

"Military service is not an alternative to incarceration or paying a debt to society," he said.

Is all the yelling, marching and physical strain really necessary? asked another. Yes, said Lee, because it pushes recruits to their limits and teaches them not to quit.

"There's a method to the madness," he said.

Can high school dropouts enlist in the Marines? Only under extraordinary circumstances: 99.7% of last year's recruits were high school graduates.

The educators watched recruits at the obstacle courses, rifle ranges, bayonet-training area and the swimming pool, where they learn to tread water while wearing combat gear. There were side trips to Miramar Marine Corps Air Station and Camp Pendleton.


Picture caption of the day...


No matter who wins, we lose...

Romney's Dangerous Conspiracy Theories

Posted by Daniel McAdams

Asked earlier in his ongoing grand tour about his foreign policy views, "Romney declined to answer reporters’ questions about his foreign policy positions, saying he will avoid talking about any policy specifics while he is on foreign soil."

Yet spending a very profitable weekend raising money in Israel, Romney made these very specific foreign policy points as reported by the LA Times:

"Flanked by several dozen Israeli and American flags, with the last glimmers of sunlight illuminating the walls of Jerusalem's Old City behind him, Romney argued in a speech that Tehran's ayatollahs "are testing our moral defenses" and monitoring 'who will object' and 'who will look the other way.'

"Accusing Iran of having a 'bloody and brutal record,' the unofficial Republican presidential nominee said, 'We have a solemn duty and a moral imperative to deny Iran's leaders the means to follow through on their malevolent intentions.'

"The conduct of Iran's leaders 'gives us no reason to trust them with nuclear material,' he said. As they edge toward developing nuclear weapons capability, 'preventing that outcome must be our highest national security priority.'

This can only mean one of two things: either he does not view specific threats to deny Iran nuclear material — to which they have every legal right under the Non-Proliferation Treaty — to be "policy specifics," or he does not view Israel as foreign soil. Hmmm.


What happened to the Wilco forum at Via Chicago???

UPDATE: Try this link, it works for me now...

Is it down for good or is it a temporary server problem? If anyone knows, post a comment. Thanks

Here's what come up when you click on the link:

Are you a member of the Olympic cult???

Join the Smiley Cult of the Five Circles? Sorry, but I Have a Democratic Right To Be Bored (and I'm Exercising It While I Still Can)

by Peter Hitchens

Enthusiasm is compulsory only in totalitarian dictatorships. Anywhere else, we are free to be keen if we want to, and bored if we want to.

So I wish people would stop telling me that I should enjoy the Olympics, or be proud of them, or think that they will in some way benefit this country.

But they won’t stop telling me. Hardly a day goes by without another previously independent mind surrendering to this pseudo-religion of obligatory smiles.

And that makes me suspicious. What is this strange cult? In the end, the Olympics is nothing more than a large athletics meeting.

Before Hitler and Dr Goebbels made it into a torch-lit and grandiose spectacle, you could be in the same city as the Games and barely notice.

Are we really that interested? And if we are, are we interested for good reasons? Personally, I find it very odd that large crowds have turned out in the street to see a glorified pilot light carried about in a large cheese-grater.

Even odder is the fact that there has been no fuss at all about the appalling treatment of a boy on a bicycle who had the temerity to ride alongside the procession in Haverhill, Essex, on Saturday, July 7.

It is hard to see from the film, but he looks about 12 to me. As he comes level with the portly torch-bearer, he is seized by a baseball-capped ‘Torch Guard’, spun round, clasped by the neck, thrown to the ground, almost in front of a moving car in the procession, which visibly brakes hard, pinned down on the road and finally hustled on to the pavement.

You’d think he’d tried to assassinate the Monarch, not ridden his bike too close to the Goebbels flame.

I can’t see much difference between the behaviour of the ‘Torch Guard’ and that of the menacing Chinese goons we all disliked so much four years ago when they escorted Dr Goebbels’s candle round the world.

The event happens so quickly that most of the crowd barely notice. But I have now watched it several times, and it makes me angrier every time I do so.

This is supposed to be a light-hearted, generous-spirited event. But it isn’t really. It’s an overbearing, officious, self-important celebration of corporate greed, unpunished corruption, tolerated cheating and multiculturalism.

As for it being a demonstration of the greatness of Britain, what can I say? If they gave out Olympic medals for fatherless families, deindustrialisation, graffiti, violent disorder, traffic congestion, illiteracy, swearing or really high train and bus fares, we’d be going for gold in a big way.

I suspect these are features of our country we want to hide from potential investors – in which case, why is the stadium adorned by a structure that looks like an abandoned and vandalised blast-furnace?

And then there are the alleged economic benefits. Ho, ho, ho. No doubt these will be calculated according to the Martian mathematics under which something we were told would cost £2.3 billion actually cost £9.4 billion – and this was announced as an ‘underspend’.

Will the world be impressed? Well, would you be impressed if a family in your street, who were jobless, undischarged bankrupts with delinquent children, whose roof leaked, whose wiring was dangerous, whose garden fence was rotten and whose unmown lawn was full of weeds, suddenly hired a marquee and a brigade of maids and waiters, and invited everyone to a noisy champagne party?

Count me out of the compulsory joy. It reminds me all too much of May Day in Soviet Moscow. I once thought that was all over, but now I realise that it’s coming here.