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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pakistan Gets Ugly



Pakistan bans NATO supply convoys after troop deaths
From Frederik Pleitgen and Barbara Starr, CNN
September 30, 2010 -- Updated 1340 GMT (2140 HKT)

Three soldiers were killed when NATO helicopters crossed the Afghanistan Pakistan border, Pakistani security officials said.

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- Pakistan has banned NATO supply convoys from entering Afghanistan after fighting between NATO troops and militants led to the killing of three Pakistani soldiers, according to a military official from the NATO-led command in Afghanistan.

The troops were killed when three NATO helicopters crossed from Afghanistan into Pakistani airspace early Thursday and attacked a military outpost, Pakistani security officials said. Three troops were wounded as well, the officials said.

Supply convoys are all-important for the Afghan war effort, and officials from NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) were trying to persuade Pakistan to lift the ban. Coalition forces rely heavily on convoys from Pakistan to bring in supplies and gear.

ISAF said in a statement Thursday that its forces saw what they thought were insurgents trying to fire mortars at a coalition base in the Dand Patan District of Afghanistan's Paktiya province, near the Pakistani border.

An air weapons team targeted the suspected insurgents' firing position, located inside Afghanistan along the border area, and the aircraft entered Pakistani airspace briefly "as they engaged this initial target," the ISAF statement said.

After this strike, the "aircraft received what the crews assessed as effective small arms fire from individuals just across the border in Pakistan" and the ISAF aircraft, operating in self-defense, entered into Pakistani airspace and killed "several armed individuals."

Later, Pakistani military officials told ISAF that coalition aircraft struck its border forces.

"ISAF and Pakistani forces are reviewing the operational reporting to verify the exact location of the two engagements and the facts in this case, and we will work together to fully investigate this incident.

"Both sides have in mind that it is the insurgents, operating on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan and violating the territorial sovereignty of both countries, that we are focused on fighting," the ISAF statement said.

ISAF issued "sincere condolences to the Pakistani military and the families of those who were killed or injured."
Three Pakistani security officials said the helicopters attacked the Mandato Kandaho outpost, which is 5 km (about 3 miles) inside Pakistani territory. The area targeted lies in the Kurram Agency, one of seven districts in the Pakistani tribal region.

The dead Pakistani soldiers are members of the Frontier Corps, according to the officials.

A senior administration official in the tribal region's Khyber Agency told CNN Thursday that Pakistan had temporarily stopped NATO supplies from entering Afghanistan in the area of Takhta Baig, which is located about 45 km (28 miles) from the border with Afghanistan.

The official asked to not be named because he was not authorized to talk to the media
.


Irish Deficit to hit 32% of GDP

The current US deficit is 9.1% of GDP.
____________

Cost of Ireland's bank bail-out to hit €40 bn

The cost of Ireland's banking bail-out will rise to €40 billion (£34bn), the authorities have announced, placing an unprecedented strain on the nation's finances.

10:00AM BST 30 Sep 2010
Telegraph

The increase in the bill to bail out Anglo-Irish bank and other stricken lenders will push the country's budget deficit up to 32 per cent of GDP, more than ten times the limit imposed on eurozone economies by Brussels.

Worries over the costs of rescuing the financial sector has lead to sharp rises in the premium Dublin must pay to borrow on international markets.

The Government is now hoping its strategy of transparency over the bail-out bill – which amounts to a fifth of the total wealth generated by the entire economy in a year – will win back investors and restore the flow of credit through the economy.

Exposed as among Europe's most overstretched by the credit crisis, Anglo Irish has aroused widespread anger throughout the country. The bank lent heavily during a decade-long property boom in the so-called Celtic Tiger economy but found many of its loans worthless as the bubble burst.

However the Treasury insists that bailing out the lender is the only option because its collapse would "bring down" the whole country.

So far ploughed €29.5bn has been ploughed into Anglo Irish, and the authorities warn that it could need an additional $5bn under a worst-case scenario.

In addition, Allied Irish Banks will need to raise an additional €3bn by the end of the year. Support for Irish Nationwide will rise to €5.4bn from €2.7 bn.

"This is the only course to follow if we are to ensure the future economic wellbeing of our society," Brian Lenihan, the Finance Minister, said today.

"We have to bring closure to this matter and that is what we have done.

"Of course these figures are horrendous but they can be managed over a 10-year period and they will be managed in that way."

Ireland's central bank said the extra cost of bailing out the banks would force the government to make further budget cuts.

Mr Lenihan said Dublin would aim to slice more than an existing target of €3bn off its 2011 budget.

He said he would also outline a four-year plan in November to get its shortfall to below 3pc of GDP by 2014.

European Union officials had pressed Dublin to come up with a detailed plan for getting its fiscal gap – the worst in the bloc – under control within five years.



Wednesday, September 29, 2010

50 Colombian Police Killed This Month



Successor To Killed FARC Leader Named
9/28/2010 4:55 AM ET

(RTTNews) -
Colombia's Leftist guerrilla group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has named a successor to one of its top military commanders who was killed in a military air strike five days ago.

Víctor Julio Suarez Rojas, also known as Jorge Briceno Suarez, was killed in an operation by government forces last week in the Macarena region of FARC stronghold.

A FARC executive committee meeting on Monday decided to replace him with 51-year-old Felix Munoz, alias Pastor Alapa.

In an online statement, the guerrilla group vowed to intensify its fight to topple the Colombian government.

President Jose Manuel Santos, who took over the Presidential reigns and fight against rebels from his predecessor Alvaro Uribe last month, described the key FARC leader's death as "the hardest blow" in the nearly half-a-century-old history of the rebel movement.

Wanted by the U.S. for killing three of its citizens, terrorism and narcotics trafficking activities, Rojas was heading FARC's strongest fighting division, the Eastern Bloc.

Colombian security forces had been on the look out for him for almost ten years. Fondly called by his followers as Mono Jojoy, the FARC leader carried a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to his arrest or conviction.

The Colombian military had killed 22 FARC guerrillas by bombing a jungle rebel camp near the Ecuadorean border last Sunday. It was the result of an operation targeting FARC rebels who killed eight policemen in an ambush earlier this month in the town of San Miguel in Putumayo province.

Around 50 policemen and soldiers were killed this month in a series of attacks by the outlawed extremists.

Founded 46 years ago, FARC is the largest Leftist guerrilla group of the South American country with an estimated cadre-strength of 17,000.

Meanwhile, Senator Piedad Cordoba, a known mediator in the conflict, was stripped of her Congressional membership for her alleged links with FARC.

Colombia's Attorney-General Alejandro Ordonez also banned her from holding public office for 18 years.


by RTT Staff Writer



Tuesday, September 28, 2010

(HOROSCOPE – LIBRA (September 23 – October 22)





said...





(HOROSCOPE – LIBRA (September 23 – October 22)

Origin – Libra represents the transition from light to dark, from spring and summer to fall and winter. It comes at the time of the Autumnal Equinox when the lengths of day and night are equal. The scales represent balance not only in the seasons but in individuals. With Libra, the ‘night force’ begins to increase and symbolizes a growing awareness of the needs of others.

Controlling Body – Venus
Lucky Day – Friday
Color – Blue
Element – Air
Symbol – Scales
Lucky Number - Six

Compatible Signs – Gemini, Aquarius
Incompatible Signs – Scorpio, Capricorn

Famous Libras – Bob Geldolf, Eugene O’Neill, Friedrich Nietzsche, William Faulkner, Heinrich Himmler, David Ben-Gurion, Johnny Carson, Margot Fontaine, Dwight Eisenhower, Eleanor Roosevelt, Mahatma Ghandi, Eddie Rickenbacker, Lillie Langtry, Desmond Tutu

Libra Quote (Male) – Michael Crichton: “We are all assumed, these days, to reside at one extreme of the opinion spectrum, or another. We are pro-abortion or anti-abortion. We are free traders or protectionist. We are pro-private sector or pro-big government. We are feminists or chauvinists. But in the real world, few of us hold these extreme views. There is instead a spectrum of opinion.”

Libra Quote (Male) – William O Douglas: “No patent medicine was ever put to wider and more varied use than the Fourteenth Amendment.”

Libra Quote (Male) – Oscar Wilde: “The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.”

Libra Quote (Male) – Gore Vidal: “The four most beautiful words in our common language: I told you so. “


Libra Quote (Female) – Katherine Mansfield: “Make it a rule of life never to regret and never to look back. Regret is an appalling waste of energy, you can't build on it it's only good for wallowing in.”

Libra Quote (Female) – Deborah Kerr: “Personally, I think if a woman hasn't met the right man by the time she's 24, she may be lucky.”

Libra Quote (Female) – Margaret Thatcher: “I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.”

Attributes – Diplomatic, urbane, romantic, charming, easygoing, sociable, idealistic, peaceable, graceful, poised, generous, loving, affectionate, indecisive, changeable, gullible, flirtatious, self-indulgent, at times selfish and self-willed.

An ancient Irish/Italian seeress and astrologer has been quoted as saying: “While Librans are charming and elegant and captivating no one is that perfect. They are unreliable and not trustworthy. They will break your heart in second. They are also fickle. They are self-centered and only think of themselves.” (One has to question whether she was speaking from an astrological or a personal perspective.)

At any rate, while all that may be true, you also have the other side of the Libra, the idealistic side, the romantic side, the side that loves society, beauty, and other people, the side that wants to avoid confrontation, the side that is always looking for the compromise that will make everyone happy. However, the Libra does not like criticism in any form and the compromise they seek and will ultimately accept will have to reflect the Libra’s own enlightened thinking on the subject.

Most Libras tend to be progressives. Many are Democrats. The entire population of Canadian consists primarily of Libras. Because of their liberal tendencies, many Libras are into wife swapping.

Libras are tolerant and strong supporters of equality. Most are PC and practice moral relativism. They abhor conflict of any kind. Libras tend to be sissies.

In truth, the Libra is often loved for his gentleness, consideration, intellect, poise, and graciousness right up to the point that he is hated for his indecision, self-centeredness, and shallowness.
Most Libras also tend to be bi-polar.

In most relationships, the Libra is a diplomat. He tries to find something to like in everybody. As noted above, he hates conflict and tries avoiding arguments at all cost. For this reason, he is generally well-liked and has a lot of friends. However, taking diplomacy to the extremes can oft times turn people off as in the following exchange:

You: “Waiter, could we have separate checks please?”
Libra: “No. No. I’ve got it.”
You: “I can’t let you do that.”
Libra: “You got it last time. It’s my turn.”
You: “No I didn’t.”
Libra: “I insist.”
You: “Very well. Thank you very much.”
Libra: “Not at all. Now, you’re sure you don’t mind?’
You: “No, that’s fine.”
Libra: “OK. Cause I don’t want it to look like I’m forcing you into this.”
You: “I’m fine with…”
Libra: “I mean, you did say we should…”
You: “Look why don’t we just split the bill?’
Libra: “Oh. Well sure, if you insist on it.”
Libra: “Waiter could we get separate checks please?”

The Libra is usually considered one of the most attractive signs of the Zodiac and is generally blessed with stunning good looks. This combined with their natural propensity to flatter and cajole makes them popular. They love the “better things in life.” When it comes to love they are in love with the idea of love. They like to discuss every aspect of love and are truly romantic. With the Libra, it is always the right setting, the right words, the right music, and the right flowers. There is no sweaty love making with the Libra.

Montgomery Clift, Michael Douglas, and Marcello Mastroianni are all Libras. Brigitte Bardot, Melina Mercouri, and Cheryl Tiegs are all Libras. Moammar Khadafy, Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, and Septimius Severus are all Libyans; however, one or more of them could possibly be a Libra too.

Libras usually follow one of two paths when deciding upon an occupation. They can either fall back on their good looks, taste, and pleasant personalities to enter fields like acting, modeling, decorating, or designing. Or they can they can pursue occupations that take advantage of their diplomacy, idealism, and tendency to be fair and balanced. Many are judges, diplomats, concierges, and Fox News contributors. Mahatma Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt, Judge Crater, and King Solomon were all Libras.

Appropriate Libra Pets – Libra pets should reflect the personality of their owner. They should be outgoing, fun-loving, and gregarious. Otters, dolphins, and Irish Setters are appropriate pets for Libras.

-Your 2010-2011 Horoscope (Libra)–

This year is expected to offer a mixed bag for the typical Libra.

• Sparks will fly when in an attempt to impress you commission a well known cartoonist to draw a caricature of the Prophet Mohammad to pass out as gifts to your Muslim friends.

• People always seem to fall in love with the wrong person, a fact that will work to your advantage this year.

• Once again, you will be called out on your misuse of the words tortuous and torturous. Remember, a winding road is tortuous while a painful ordeal is torturous.

• Your skill as seer and trendsetter is highlighted when early on you are the first to recognize the commercial promise in linking the simple vuvuzela with the manic crowds that attend World Cup soccer events. Unfortunately, due to your own indecisiveness, you will delay acting on this insight until well after the point when the phenomena has become a past fad and merely another answer in a future game of Trivial Pursuit.

• The new pet you get next month will bring you immense satisfaction, a fact that will be highlighted in the SPCA’s lawsuit against you.

Next Month: Scorpio (monthly personalized horoscopes available by request)

Other Services

We are approaching Halloween, one of the key merchandising periods for Souls-R-Us; and this year our staff has come up with a whole series of specials designed to make this year’s holiday season one you will long remember.

MONTHLY SPECIALS:

• Numerology: The isopsephy experts at Souls-R-Us include many of the world’s great idiot savants, real numbers guys. Need an answer? Come to us. We have answers pre-packaged and ready to ship. Be among the first 1000 to order these services and receive a FREE randomly generated “Lucky Number”.

Send requests to:

We’ve Got Your Number
P.O. Box 867-5309
Ishpeming, MI 48123

• Halloween Specials: Halloween is coming and everyone is excited. Souls-R-Us has everything you need to make your Halloween party a success. Need mediums, clairvoyants, magicians, mystics? No problem. We’ve got em. Need the perfect costume. No problem. We have past-life channellers available waiting to assist you. You may even be able to use a costume you've used before. Also note that in conjunction with Aardvark Al’s Party Time Promos and Monkey Dick’s Twisted Pleasures we can also offer moon bounces, inflatables, tube dancers, scary clowns, and balloon twisters all at reasonable prices. Excellent for corporate team building.

[The first 1000 customers will receive an autographed copy of Mungo Jerry’s classic hit “In The Summertime” in 45 rpm format.]

Send requests to:

Hellzapoppin
P.O. Box 666
Hell, MI 48666

Aromatherapy: It’s time to begin enjoying the therapeutic benefits of distilled essential oils. The benefits of Aromatherapy have been recognized for over a century. We at Souls-R-Us are now prepared to stake our reputation on the efficacy of this olphactory science. Got a problem? We’ve got and answer and a scent. Our new Give Us A Whiff catalogue includes the following scents and many more:

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Why work for success when you can just rub it on? All scents available for aerial diffusion, direct inhalation, or topical application.

[The first 1000 customers will receive an autographed 'scratch-n-sniff' photo of Paris Hilton.]


Send requests to:

Quirk
P.O. Box 1212
Rochester, MI 48308

[Note: When using the P.O. Boxes noted above, please send your phone number and for your convenience a specific time and date when you can be reached so that one of our qualified sales representatives can contact you regarding your order.]



• As always, discounts on our full range of services are available to the Rosicrucian brotherhood (secret handshake required).

.


We ain't talkin' about no Chinese philosophy, here.

Ambrose-Pierce may be given to drama but he does it so well.

Shut Down the Fed (Part II) Ambrose Evans Pierce - Telegraph

The dangers of tipping into a debt compound trap – as described by Irving Fisher in Debt-Deflation Theory of Great Depresssions in 1933 – outweigh the risk of an expanded money stock catching fire and setting off an inflation surge later. Debt deflation is a toxic process that can and does destroy societies as well as economies. You do not trifle with it.

But deliberately creating inflation “consistent” with the Fed’s mandate – implicitly to erode debt – is another matter. Nor can this be justified at this particular juncture. M3 has been leveling out. M2 has begun to rise briskly. The velocity of money has picked up. The M1 monetary mulitplier has jumped.

We have a very odd world. The IMF has doubled its global growth forecast to 4.5pc this year, and authorities everywhere have ruled out a serious risk of a double dip recession.

Yet at the same time the Bank of Japan has embarked on unsterilised currency intervention, which amounts to stimulus, and both the Fed and the Bank of England are signalling fresh QE.

You can’t have it both ways. If the US is not in deep trouble, the Fed should not be thinking of extra QE. It should step back and let the economy heal itself, if necessary enduring several years of poor growth to purge excess leverage.

People want to know - Are we worried about deflation and if not and things aren't "all that bad", is Bernanke thinking of in effect, monetizing the debt?  Personally, I think we could pour money into the economy for a long time before we get back to appreciable inflation.  We have underlying structural problems - like consumer debt out the ying yang.  Of course, that is just my opinion which we all know is like a ying-yang.


 

Uncle Sam suffers COPD -"Balloon too big."

Job Loss Looms as Part of Stimulus Act Expires
By MICHAEL COOPER
Published: September 25, 2010

Tens of thousands of people will lose their jobs within weeks unless Congress extends one of the more effective job-creating programs in the $787 billion stimulus act: a $1 billion New Deal-style program that directly paid the salaries of unemployed people so they could get jobs in government, at nonprofit organizations and at many small businesses.


Monday, September 27, 2010

China has cost US 3.5 million jobs




Does anyone think that ignoring the obvious will make things better? Trade with China, subordinating our interests to theirs, has been a disaster for the US. We never needed anything from China. From stink bugs to stinky drywall the net effect of our trade with China is negative.

The trade deficit financed the Wall Street engineered mortgage disaster and the profligate deficit of the US government. Both groups should be relieved that Robespierre so discredited himself. It is well past time to scrap an economic model that does not work for the US.

If the extraction economies want free trade with China, good for them. Let them trade. We should opt out.

_______________________________


September 27, 2010
A Trade War With China?
By Robert Samuelson RCP

WASHINGTON-- No one familiar with the Smoot-Hawley tariff of 1930 should relish the prospect of a trade war with China -- but that seems to be where we're headed and is probably where we should be headed. Although the Smoot-Hawley tariff did not cause the Great Depression, it contributed to its severity by provoking widespread retaliation. Confronting China's export subsidies risks a similar tit-for-tat cycle at a time when the global economic recovery is weak. This is a risk, unfortunately, we need to take.

In a decade, China has gone from a huge, poor nation to an economic colossus. Although its per capita income ($6,600 in 2009) is only one-seventh that of the United States ($46,400), the sheer size of its economy gives it a growing global influence. China passed Japan this year as the second-largest national economy. In 2009, it displaced Germany as the biggest exporter and also became the world's largest energy user.

The trouble is that China has never genuinely accepted the basic rules governing the world economy. China follows those rules when they suit its interests and rejects, modifies or ignores them when they don't. Every nation, including the United States, would like to do the same, and most have tried. What's different is that most other countries support the legitimacy of the rules -- often requiring the sacrifice of immediate economic self-interest -- and none is as big as China. Their departures from norms don't threaten the entire system.

China's worst abuse involves its undervalued currency and its promotion of export-led economic growth. The United States isn't the only victim. China's underpricing of exports and overpricing of imports hurt most trading nations, from Brazil to India. From 2006 to 2010, China's share of world exports jumped from 7 percent to 10 percent.

One remedy would be for China to revalue its currency, reducing the competitiveness of its exports. American presidents have urged this for years. The Chinese acknowledge that they need stronger domestic spending but seem willing to let the renminbi (RMB) appreciate only if it doesn't really hurt their exports. Thus, the appreciation of about 20 percent permitted from mid-2005 to mid-2008 was largely offset by higher productivity (aka, more efficiency) that lowered costs. China halted even this when the global economy crashed and has only recently permitted the currency to rise. In practice, the RMB has barely budged.

How much the RMB is undervalued and how many U.S. jobs have been lost are unclear. The Peterson Institute, a research group, says a revaluation of 20 percent would create 300,000 to 700,000 U.S. jobs over two to three years. Economist Robert Scott of the liberal Economic Policy Institute estimates that trade with China has cost 3.5 million jobs. This may be high, because it assumes that imports from China displace U.S. production when many may displace imports from other countries. But all estimates are large, though well short of the recession's total employment decline of 8.4 million.

If China won't revalue, the alternative is retaliation. This might start a trade war, because China might respond in kind, perhaps buying fewer Boeings and more Airbuses and substituting Brazilian soybeans for American. One proposal by Reps. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, and Tim Murphy, R-Penn., would classify currency manipulation -- which China clearly practices -- as an export subsidy eligible for "countervailing duties" (tariffs offsetting the subsidy). This makes economic sense but might be ruled illegal by the World Trade Organization. A House committee last week approved this approach; the full House could pass it this week. Ideally, congressional action would convince China to negotiate a significant RMB revaluation.

Less ideally and more realistically would be a replay of Smoot-Hawley, just when the wobbly world economy doesn't need a fight between its two largest members. Economic nationalism, once unleashed here and there, might prove hard to control. But there's a big difference between then and now. Smoot-Hawley was blatantly protectionist. Dozens of tariffs increased; many countries retaliated. By contrast, American action today would aim at curbing Chinese protectionism.

The post-World War II trading system was built on the principle of mutual advantage, and that principle -- though often compromised -- has endured. China wants a trading system subordinated to its needs: ample export markets to support the jobs necessary to keep the Communist Party in power; captive sources for oil, foodstuffs and other essential raw materials; and technological superiority. Other countries win or lose depending on how well they serve China's interests.

The collision is between two concepts of the world order. As the old order's main architect and guardian, the United States faces a dreadful choice: resist Chinese ambitions and risk a trade war in which everyone loses; or do nothing and let China remake the trading system. The first would be dangerous; the second, potentially disastrous.




Sunday, September 26, 2010

While the US Government Destroys Capital, China Builds the Electric Car




Their Moon Shot and Ours
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
NY Times
Published: September 25, 2010

China is doing moon shots. Yes, that’s plural. When I say “moon shots” I mean big, multibillion-dollar, 25-year-horizon, game-changing investments. China has at least four going now: one is building a network of ultramodern airports; another is building a web of high-speed trains connecting major cities; a third is in bioscience, where the Beijing Genomics Institute this year ordered 128 DNA sequencers — from America — giving China the largest number in the world in one institute to launch its own stem cell/genetic engineering industry; and, finally, Beijing just announced that it was providing $15 billion in seed money for the country’s leading auto and battery companies to create an electric car industry, starting in 20 pilot cities. In essence, China Inc. just named its dream team of 16-state-owned enterprises to move China off oil and into the next industrial growth engine: electric cars.

Not to worry. America today also has its own multibillion-dollar, 25-year-horizon, game-changing moon shot: fixing Afghanistan.

This contrast is not good. I was recently at a Washington Nationals baseball game. While waiting for a hot dog, I overheard the conversation behind me. A management consultant for a big national firm was telling his colleagues that his job was to “market products to the Department of Homeland Security.” I thought to myself: “Oh, my! Inventing studies about terrorist threats and selling them to the U.S. government, is that an industry now?”

We’re out of balance — the balance between security and prosperity. We need to be in a race with China, not just Al Qaeda. Let’s start with electric cars.

The electric car industry is pivotal for three reasons, argues Shai Agassi, the C.E.O. of Better Place, a global electric car company that next year will begin operating national electric car networks in Israel and Denmark. First, the auto industry was the foundation for America’s manufacturing middle class. Second, the country that replaces gasoline-powered vehicles with electric-powered vehicles — in an age of steadily rising oil prices and steadily falling battery prices — will have a huge cost advantage and independence from imported oil. Third, electric cars are full of power electronics and software. “Think of the applications industry that will be spun out from electric cars,” says Agassi. It will be the iPhone on steroids.

Europe is using $7-a-gallon gasoline to stimulate the market for electric cars; China is using $5-a-gallon and naming electric cars as one of the industrial pillars for its five-year growth plan. And America? President Obama has directed stimulus money at electric cars, but he is unwilling to do the one thing that would create the sustained consumer pull required to grow an electric car industry here: raise taxes on gasoline. Price matters. Sure, the Moore’s Law of electric cars — “the cost per mile of the electric car battery will be cut in half every 18 months” — will steadily drive the cost down, says Agassi, but only once we get scale production going. U.S. companies can do that on their own or in collaboration with Chinese ones. But God save us if we don’t do it at all.

Two weeks ago, I visited the Coda Automotive battery facility in Tianjin, China — a joint venture between U.S. innovators and investors, China’s Lishen battery company and China National Offshore Oil Company. Yes, China’s oil company is using profits to develop batteries.

Kevin Czinger, Coda’s C.E.O., who drove me around Manhattan in his company’s soon-to-be-in-production electric car last week, laid out what is going on. The backbone of the modern U.S. economy was locally made cars powered by locally produced oil. It started us on a huge growth spurt. In recent decades, though, that industry was supplanted by foreign-made cars run on foreign oil, so “now every time we buy a car we’re exporting $15,000 of capital, paying for it with borrowed money and running it on foreign energy sources,” says Czinger. “We’ve gone from autos being a middle-class-making-machine to a middle-class-destroying-machine.” A U.S. electric car/battery industry would reverse that.

The Coda, 14,000 of which will be on the road in California over the next year and can travel 100 miles on one overnight charge, is a combination of Chinese-made batteries and complex American-system electronics — all final-assembled in Oakland (price: $37,000). It is a win-win start-up for both countries.

If we both now create the market incentives for consumers to buy electric cars, and the plug-in infrastructure for people to drive them everywhere, it will be a win-win moon shot for both countries. The electric car industry will flourish in the U.S. and China, and together we’ll tackle the next challenge: using auto battery innovations to build big storage batteries for wind and solar. However, if only China puts the gasoline prices and infrastructure in place, the industry will gravitate there. It will be a moon shot for them, a hobby for us, and you’ll import your new electric car from China just like you’re now importing your oil from Saudi Arabia.



Saturday, September 25, 2010

¿Dónde está la república bananera?

This is what Paul Krugman, NYTimes, says about the Republican's "Pledge to America":
True, the document talks about the need to cut spending. But as far as I can see, there’s only one specific cut proposed — canceling the rest of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which Republicans claim (implausibly) would save $16 billion. That’s less than half of 1 percent of the budget cost of those tax cuts. As for the rest, everything must be cut, in ways not specified — “except for common-sense exceptions for seniors, veterans, and our troops.” In other words, Social Security, Medicare and the defense budget are off-limits.

So what’s left? Howard Gleckman of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has done the math. As he points out, the only way to balance the budget by 2020, while simultaneously (a) making the Bush tax cuts permanent and (b) protecting all the programs Republicans say they won’t cut, is to completely abolish the rest of the federal government: “No more national parks, no more Small Business Administration loans, no more export subsidies, no more N.I.H. No more Medicaid (one-third of its budget pays for long-term care for our parents and others with disabilities). No more child health or child nutrition programs. No more highway construction. No more homeland security. Oh, and no more Congress.”

From the right, this is what Andrew McCarthy thinks of the "Pledge to America" (ht: Tiger @ the Observer)

Empty Promise - When it gets down to brass tacks, the GOP has no brass.

McCarthy argues that the Pledge is nothing more than "big wind, no rain". He says that the GOP is, like the Democrats, a big government, nanny state party that refuses to recognize that Social Security and Medicare are massive, unfunded entitlements which will saddle future generations with crippling taxes and worthless  currency.

There are only three ways to deal with entitlements: default on promised benefits, turn the currency into Monopoly money, or figure out a way to pay them honestly, no doubt by tax levies that dwarf today’s rising tab. That is cruel reality, and it will saddle not only the young people currently paying into the system who won’t see a dime, but their children and grandchildren who for generations will be left holding the bag for the Baby Boom’s utopia. No one in his right mind, understanding these consequences, would ever adopt such a Ponzi scheme in the first place. So, since we understand the consequences in a way the nation did not in the 1930s, how can we in good conscience continue it?
Yet that is exactly what the pledge does. For all the preamble pizzazz about freedom and responsibility, when it gets down to brass tacks, the GOP has no brass: It assumes Americans are junkies hooked on entitlement smack, incapable of going cold turkey and insensitive to the fact that we’ve run out of other people’s money. Republicans obliquely promise to “make the decisions necessary to protect our entitlement programs for today’s seniors and future generations.”

Let's See Where This Goes

An interesting story is developing:
NYTimes - F.B.I. Searches Antiwar Activists’ Homes


Steve Warfield, a spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Minneapolis, said the agents executed six warrants in Minneapolis and two in Chicago.

“They were seeking evidence related to an ongoing Joint Terrorism Task Force investigation,” Mr. Warfield said. “They are looking at activities connected to the material support of terrorism.”

He said no one in Minneapolis had been arrested while the warrants were executed. He added that agents in Michigan and North Carolina had also questioned people in connection with the investigation.

Mr. Dooley said the F.B.I. broke down Mr. Kelly’s door around 7 a.m. and gave a search warrant to his companion. The warrant said agents were gathering evidence related to people “providing, attempting and conspiring to provide material support” to terrorist organizations, and listed Hezbollah, the Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

The warrant also authorized the agents to look for information connected to the Freedom Road Socialist Organization and to unnamed “co-conspirators” and allowed them to seize items including electronics, photographs, address books and letters.

Mr. Kelly is known in Minnesota as a prominent organizer of the Anti-War Committee, a group that has protested United States military aid to Colombia and called for the removal of American soldiers from Afghanistan.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Night at the EB






If I have to hear that Telegraph video one more time....

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's 9/11 rant sparks US walkout from UN


Can we get a list of those applauding?

____________________

Applause for Ahmadinejad
September 23, 2010 - 5:39 PM | by: Eric Shawn Liveshots

He was greeted by applause when he walked into the United Nations General Assembly, and applauded again, even after questioning 9/11 and claiming that the American government may have been behind the attack.

That’s right, applauded after questioning the motivation for the terrorist attacks, who was responsible for them, and essentially suggesting they were a U.S. plot.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has made a variety of claims over the years during his appearances here, but he never has gone this far when talking about 9/11.

During his General Assembly address, the Iranian President called for a “U.N. fact finding group” to investigate 9/11.

He also said that ”the majority of the American people as well as most nations and politicians around the world” believe that “some segments within the U.S. government orchestrated the attack to reverse the declining of the American economy and its grips on the Middle East in order to save the Zionist regime.”

Before his speech, the Obama administration must have had high hopes that Ahmadinejad would have listened to the offers of diplomacy as presented by the administration and its allies on the Security Council. Members of the U.S. delegation remained in their seats. In years past, only what is called a “low-level note taker” has often been posted behind the little plastic “United States” sign, when Ahmadinejad took the stage.

On Tuesday, when Ahmadinejad spoke during the global summit on poverty, the American delegation remained even as he predicted the defeat of capitalism.

But true to form, he quickly went over the line with his 9/11 remarks and that prompted the U.S. diplomats, and others, to get up and walk out.

“ It’s outrageous,” said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley. “a short distance from here, nine years ago, three-thousand people were killed in an attack perpetrated by nineteen people, and an attack that was orchestrated by Al Qaeda. We know exactly who did it, they’ve admitted it, the facts are not in dispute, so for the President of Iran to come here and make the suggestion that somehow this was an American plot, is simply outrageous.”

But as Ahmadinejad walked from the podium, he did so rewarded by applause in the august chamber of the world body.



Read more: http://liveshots.blogs.foxnews.com/2010/09/23/applause-for-ahmadinejad/#ixzz10QoDEcWx


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Keeping it Real

Steam clouds over Turrialba

Although it is rainy season, the mornings in and around the Central Valley in Costa Rica can start with clear blue skies. On my way to Cartago on Tuesday, I noticed the steam clouds rising from the Turrialba Volcano, something so primeval yet current. Volcanos have been around four and one half billion years. A human life seems to last about four and a half minutes. Turrialba spoke to me and said, "keep it real."

(My photo did come out as good as this one.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Carl Paladino: Still "Not Intimidatable", In striking distance of Cuomo



Poll shows a surprisingly tight race for Governor between Cuomo and Paladino
By Dave Bullard/WRVO (2010-09-22)

WRVO (WRVO) - Surprising. Shocking. Amazing.

Those were the reactions to Wednesday's Quinnipiac University poll that shows Democrat Andrew Cuomo holding only a six point lead over Republican Carl Paladino.

In fact, those were the reactions of the pollster.

Quinipiac's Mickey Carroll told reporters that when he first saw the numbers, he asked the staff to check them again.

The poll shows each man carrying his party's voters easily, but showed Paladino doing better than Cuomo with independent voters.

"People might have sort of inferentially thought, 'Hey, he's the incumbent'", Carroll said. "They know he's not but he had the aura of an incumbent. And the one thing you do't want to be in a throw-the-bums-out year is an incumbent"

Carroll believes Paladino will keep on trying to get under Cuomo's skin with intentionally provocative remarks and insults and thinks Cuomo is smart enough to figure out how not to fall into a trap.

Siena College's Polling Institute issues its poll on the Governor's race tomorrow. Marist College is also preparing a poll.


“If you are a person who is drowning, you put all your efforts into trying to swim.”

LONDON — After she died earlier this month, a frail 89-year-old alone in a flat in the British seaside town of Torquay, Eileen Nearne, her body undiscovered for several days, was listed by local officials as a candidate for what is known in Britain as a council burial, or what in the past was known as a pauper’s grave.

After World War II, Eileen Nearne, here in a photo from that era, faded into obscurity.
But after the police looked through her possessions, including a Croix de Guerre medal awarded to her by the French government after World War II, the obscurity Ms. Nearne had cultivated for decades began to slip away.


Asked by her postwar debriefers how she kept up hope, she replied: “The will to live. Willpower. That’s the most important. You should not let yourself go. It seemed that the end would never come, but I always believed in destiny, and I had a hope.”

“If you are a person who is drowning, you put all your efforts into trying to swim.”

Read the rest

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Left Brain / Right Brain Bunk?



Willingham: Left/right brain theory is bunk


By Daniel Willingham
Washington Post

An article was published this week in the venerable (and reliable) psychology journal Psychological Bulletin, which synthesized 67 brain imaging studies of creativity. Among other things, it showed that creativity is not especially a right-brain function. In fact, two of three broad classes of creative thought that have been studied seem not to depend on a single set of brain structures.

What we call “creativity” is so diverse that it can’t be localized in the brain very well.

One might think that this study would put to rest at least part of the left brain/right brain mythology, namely, that the right hemisphere of the brain is more responsible for creative thought than the left.

One would think so, but I wouldn’t count on it.

In the usual mythology, the left hemisphere of the brain is logical, ordered, and analytic, and it supports reading, speech, math, and reasoning. The right hemisphere is more oriented towards feelings and emotions, spatial perception, and the arts, and is said to be more creative.

We have known for at least 30 years that this characterization is incorrect.

The language we find useful to discuss mental functions is, for the neuroscientist, a rather high level of description. That is, for a function like “reading” or “music” much of the brain gets into the act. Each is not supported by a single hemisphere.

For example, even a seemingly simple function like “learning a sequence” depends on numerous brain areas. In this brain imaging study some colleagues and I found that 14 brain areas contribute to the sequencing task we examined. “Sequential thought” is supposed to be a left brain function, but we observed five areas in the left hemisphere, five in the right, and four bilateral. (That is, the activity was in corresponding areas of both the left and right hemispheres.)

This doesn’t mean that the two hemispheres of the brain don’t sometimes (or often) do different things. It means that the language we find useful in talking about thinking is too coarse to capture these differences.

I say “sequencing” and that corresponds to 14 different brain areas! So thinking that we can identify an array of these tasks--logical thinking, language, math, and others--that all depend mostly on one hemisphere seems a little far-fetched. More to the point, we know it’s inaccurate.

Okay, inaccurate. But harmful?

Not always. Sometimes I hear hear the terms “left-brain thinkers” or “right brain thinkers” as a shorthand to describe people who are drawn to more logical, ordered ways of thinking, in contrast to more “artsy” types. It’s understood that there is not meant to be any scientific weight to the labels. They are just a convenience.

An astronomer may use the term “sunrise” without worrying that he’s being a bad scientist because he knows that the sun doesn’t really rise over the earth. It’s understood to be a figure of speech.

Unfortunately, left brain/right brain is sometimes taken more seriously.

This idea is used in education in two ways. Sometimes the left brain/right brain distinction is offered as an account of differences in ability, much as in the casual (and harmless) way I described.

But when offered as a more scientifically weighty theory, people start to call for school to be more right brain oriented.

Sometimes this call is pitched in terms of fairness; the right-brain kids seem to be at unfair disadvantage. Sometimes it’s pitched as common sense; we’re ignoring half of kid’s brains!

Other people treat the left brain/right brain distinction not as a distinction of abiity (what kids are good at) but as a learning style (how kids prefer to learn). Left-brain kids will understand a concept best by talking about it, for example, but right brain kids will want to draw a diagram.

Teachers might be urged to engage in whole-brain teaching by including different ways of understanding a concept that honor left brain and right brain differences.

In both cases, prescriptions are given greater weight because of the apparent neuroscientific basis of the recommendations. “Kids who have trouble with reading, math and science are at a disadvantage at school,” sounds obvious and unimpressive when compared to “right brain dominant children are at a disadvantage at school.”

But if the distinction as usually described is inaccurate, there is no scientific weight behind the prescriptions.

Still, I’m not counting on the latest article on creativity to quell enthusiasm for inaccurate left brain/right brain science.

Mike Gazzaniga, one of the pioneers of the modern study of brain hemispheric differences, tried to put a damper on the craziness in a book chapter titled “Left brain, right brain: A debunking.”

That was 25 years ago and there is still plenty of bunk.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Chasing Returns



"This is the crap I have to hear." NJ Gov, Chris Christie



Wall Street Journal 20, 2010

The Christie Example
New Jersey government workers should have 401(k) plans instead of pensions.


New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has become the national pacesetter in state fiscal reform, and he's once again lighting up Youtube with his defense of taxpayers against the appetites of government-employee unions. The plan he announced last week to reform public pensions is crucial to saving the Garden State from economic calamity, but it falls short on one crucial part of long-term reform.

New Jersey has officially run up unfunded liabilities of $46 billion in its pension plan and $67 billion in its medical plan, though some estimates put the shortfalls much higher. Absent reform, the Republican Governor says the unfunded pension liabilities alone will explode to more than $180 billion over the next 30 years.

Most notably Mr. Christie's plan includes a rollback of the fraudulent 9% pension increase that triggered recent civil charges brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Without the money to pay for enhanced benefits, and unwilling to suggest even higher tax rates, legislators cooked the books in 2001 by pretending that the pension funds had more assets than they actually did, and therefore could cover larger payments. The fraud was repeated in various state bond offerings. Unions like to cast benefit hikes as sacred promises on the part of taxpayers. But in this case they are more accurately viewed as offenses that would draw prison terms if committed by anyone in private business.

Mr. Christie's plan would eliminate automatic cost of living adjustment (COLA) increases for both current and future retirees. And he'd raise employee contribution levels to the retirement plans and make it harder to get disability benefits, which have become a cottage industry of fraud. Other proposals include lowering the expected returns in the pension funds from 8.25% annually to a somewhat more realistic 7.5%.

When it comes to medical benefits, the Governor would provide state workers with a plan similar to what federal employees enjoy now—more options, but also more responsibility for paying the bills. State workers would pay 30% of health costs, up from an average of 8% now. Retirees wouldn't have to pay higher premiums but would accept higher co-pays.

Far from being onerous, these changes are consistent with current standards across private industry. The Christie plan would eliminate a major chunk of the state's unfunded liabilities, and for that he deserves kudos. And if he can convince today's legislators (most of them Democrats) to right the wrongs of their predecessors, he will justly earn the cheers of Garden State taxpayers.

But missing from the Christie proposal is the most important reform for the long-term: shifting government workers from pensions to 401(k)-style plans that have become the norm among private workers. This type of structural reform would prevent future politicians from simply repeating the mistakes of the past and returning to padding pensions when taxpayers are paying less attention.

Government pension systems are inherently flawed because the politicians who bestow benefits upon state workers are the same politicians who seek votes and campaign contributions from the unions representing these workers. When it's time to negotiate the benefits, the politicians and unions are often sitting on the same side of the table, facing no one representing the taxpayers.

As large pools of money controlled by politicians or their agents, pension funds are also magnets for corruption, with a history of pay-to-play scandals in various states. They allow ambitious politicians to use pension holdings in public companies not as levers to demand better returns, but as weapons to force shareholder money to serve political agendas.

Defined-contribution systems such as 401(k) plans create healthier incentives all around. Accounts are controlled by the individual workers, not pension fund bosses. Relying on the growth of their investment accounts to fund retirement, government workers have their interests aligned with those of private workers: Everyone wants a thriving economy.

Governor Christie has previously promoted the use of 401(k)-style plans for government workers, but Democrats resisted and he apparently concluded the cause is hopeless. But other states have introduced such programs in gradual fashion, say, for new hires, or perhaps offering a hybrid plan of a limited pension combined with a 401(k). By dropping the issue without a fight, Mr. Christie has given away too much even before the unions get to the table.





Sunday, September 19, 2010

Obama Plays the Race Card, Again- (CNN Reports)



Obama polishing up his Negro dialect


Obama urges black lawmakers to rally voters

Now imagine this and the reaction:
Bush urges white lawmakers to rally voters


By the CNN Wire Staff
September 19, 2010 4:12 a.m. EDT

President Obama told members of the Congressional Black Caucus to rally their constituents and tell them that "the time for action is now."

Now imagine:
President Bush told members of the Congressional White Caucus to rally their constituents and tell them that "the time for action is now."

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
He says his win "wasn't just about electing a black (WHITE) president"

Obama touts his administration's accomplishments
He also takes a swipe at Republicans
RELATED TOPICS
Barack Obama
U.S. Congressional Black(WHITE) Caucus
(CNN) -- President Obama urged Congressional Black (WHITE)Caucus members to help rally their constituents and remind them that more work must be done to move the country forward.
The nation's first (thirty something) black(WHITE) president addressed the group at its annual awards gala on Saturday night. He touched on race issues and his win to office, saying it "wasn't just about electing a black(WHITE) president."
"It was about giving every hardworking American a chance to join a growing middle class," he said. "It was about putting the American dream within reach for all Americans, no matter who you are, what you look like, or where you come from."
Obama told lawmakers that he needed their (WHITE)help to invigorate others to act.
"I need everybody here(WHITE) to go back to your neighborhoods and your workplaces, to your churches and barbershops, and beauty shops," Obama said. "Tell them we(WHITE) have more work to do. Tell them(WHITE) we (WHITE)can't wait to organize. Tell them (WHITE)that the time for action is now."
Obama talked about his administration's accomplishments, including passing the health care and Wall Street reform bills, ending the combat mission in Iraq and bolstering U.S. operations in Afghanistan.
"When I took office, our economy was on the brink of collapse. So, we acted immediately and took some steps to stop our economic free-fall," he said. " And now, our economy is growing. We're adding private sector jobs, instead of losing them. We're in a different place than we were one year ago."
He said the end of the combat mission has brought nearly 100,000 troops home from Iraq.
"In Afghanistan, we're breaking the momentum of the Taliban and training Afghan forces so that, next summer, we can begin the transition to Afghan responsibility."
The president also took a swipe at Republicans, whom he referred to as the "other side."(WHITE)
"Of course, the other side(WHITE) has a plan too. It's a plan to turn back the clock on all the progress we've made."
He said the last election was a "changing of the guard(WHITE) -- now we need to guard the change," he said.
The Congressional Black (WHITE)Caucus is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group that serves African-Americans (WHITE)and other under-served communities.



Obama edited one of the most important of the founding documents: "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.". Obama said and you can play again that we were "endowed with "certain unalienable rights". Obama edited out the words "by their creator".


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Video Ground Zero Mosque downfall

Christine O'Donnell and the Ruling Elite



The scorched earth policy against her has begun. Can she win? I believe that the contempt for the establishment that rules is broad and deep. The left will not attack her ideas, they will try and destroy her and the harder they attack, the more sympathy will come her way. There are enough people disgusted with the status quo. If they vote, they win. Will they?


Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Night Schimmel



Bunny Wunny Jimmy Carter Goes After Dead Ted Kennedy




We have learned from a reliable source that any day now, we can expect Jimmy Carter to attack the late Shah of Iran for getting cancer and losing control of Iran and dying. The selfish act by the Shah caused Jimmy pain and grief and cost him to be denied his second term to the rascally rabbit and coincidentally dead Ronald Reagan.

Carter, the decisive, a peanut of a president, rabbit fighter and large thinker that he is will soon be going on a book tour. The gift that keeps on giving.

_______________



SEPTEMBER 16, 2010, 7:08 PM ET
Carter Criticizes Kennedy Over Health Care

By Mary Lu Carnevale WSJ

Former President Jimmy Carter sharply criticized the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, saying the Democratic icon, lionized for his career-long advocacy of health care for all Americans, actually delayed that goal by 30 years.

In an interview to be aired on CBS’s “60 Minutes, Carter tells reporter Leslie Stahl that “we would have had comprehensive health care now, had it not been for Ted Kennedy’s deliberately blocking the legislation that I proposed. It was his fault. Ted Kennedy killed the bill,” according to CBS.

He goes on to say Kennedy then challenged him in his 1980 re-election bid because, “He did not want to see me have a major success in that realm of life.”

Kennedy, one of the leading advocates for this year’s health care bill, died of a brain tumor before the sweeping overhaul was enacted in March. As he signed the bill, President Barack Obama honored Kennedy by wearing a blue “TedStrong” wristband. The new law, with a big price tag and requirement that most people must have insurance coverage, has now become an issue in the midterm elections.

Carter is getting ready to launch a new book, “White House Diary,” which is being released Monday by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. In an excerpt provided CBS, Carter writes: “Kennedy continuing his irresponsible and abusive attitude, immediately condemning our health plan. He couldn’t get five votes for his plan.”

Kennedy, too, had written about the clash with Carter – but saw it quite differently. In a July 18, 2009 article in Newsweek, Kennedy blamed Carter. “I tried to negotiate an agreement with President Carter but became frustrated when he decided that he’d rather take a piecemeal approach,” Kennedy wrote. “I ran against Carter, a sitting president from my own party, in large part because of this disagreement. Health reform became central to my 1980 presidential campaign: I argued then that the issue wasn’t just coverage but also out-of-control costs that would ultimately break both family and federal budgets, and increasingly burden the national economy.”



Thursday, September 16, 2010

Who has been Looking in Your Files?



The internet is spying on you

Every time you go online, sophisticated data miners are tracking your every move. What do they know about you?

POSTED ON SEPTEMBER 10, 2010, The Week

How frequently am I followed online?

Constantly. Your computer leaves a unique digital trail every time you visit a website, post a comment on a blog, or add a photo to your Facebook wall. A growing number of companies follow that trail to assemble a profile of you and your affinities. These profiles can contain shocking levels of detail—including your age, income, shopping habits, health problems, sexual proclivities, and ZIP code—right down to the number of rooms in your house and the number of people in your family. Although trackers don’t identify their subjects by name, the data they compile is so extensive that “you can find out who an individual is without it,” says Maneesha Mithal of the Federal Trade Commission.

How does the technology work?

The moment you land on a website, it installs a unique electronic code on your hard drive. Owners of websites originally placed “cookies,” the simplest such codes, on computers for users’ convenience, in order to remember things like the contents of online shopping carts. But a cookie placed by one site can also serve as a tracking device that allows marketers to identify an individual computer and follow its path on every Web visit. It’s like a clerk who sells you a pair of jeans at one store, then trails you around the mall, recording every store you visit and every item of clothing you try on. “Beacons” are super-cookies that record even computer keystrokes and mouse movements, providing another layer of detail. “Flash cookies” are installed when a computer user activates Flash technology, such as a YouTube video, embedded on a site. They can also reinstall cookies that have been removed. Such “persistent cookies,” says Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, make it “virtually impossible for users to go online without being tracked and profiled.”

Who’s doing the spying?

Marketers, advertisers, and those whose businesses depend on them. Most websites install their own cookies and beacons, both to make site navigation easier and to gather user information. (Wikipedia is a rare exception.) But third parties—advertisers and the networks that place online ads, such as Google and iAds—frequently pay site hosts to install their own tracking technology. Beacons are even sometimes planted without the knowledge of the host site. Comcast, for example, installed Flash cookies on computers visiting its website after it accepted Clearspring Technologies’ free software for displaying slide shows. Visitors who clicked on a slide show at Comcast.com wound up loading Clearspring’s Flash cookies onto their hard drives, which Comcast said it had never authorized.

How is personal data used?

It’s collected and sold by companies like Clearspring. Such information can be sold in large chunks—for example, an advertiser might pay $1 for 1,000 profiles of movie lovers—or in customized segments. An apparel retailer might buy access to 18-year-old female fans of the Twilight movie series who reside in the Sunbelt. “We can segment it all the way down to one person,” says Eric Porres of Lotame, which sells these profiles. Advertisers use the profiles to deliver individualized ads that follow users to every site they visit. Julia Preston, a 32-year-old software designer from Austin, recently saw how this works firsthand when she started seeing lots of Web ads for fertility treatments. She had recently researched uterine disorders online. “It’s unnerving,” she says.

Is all this snooping legal?

So far, yes. While an e-commerce site can’t sell to third parties the credit card numbers it acquires in the course of its business, the legality of various tracking technologies—and the sale of the personal profiles that result—has never been tested in court. Privacy advocates say that’s not because there aren’t abundant abuses, but because the law hasn’t kept pace with advancing technology. “The relevant laws,” says Lauren Weinstein of People for Internet Responsibility, an advocacy group, “are generally so weak—if they exist at all—that it’s difficult to file complaints.”

Can you avoid revealing yourself online?

Aside from abandoning the Internet altogether, there’s virtually no way to evade prying eyes. Take the case of Ashley Hayes-Beaty, who learned just how exposed she was when The Wall Street Journal shared what it had learned about her from a data miner. Hayes-Beaty’s computer use identified her as a 26-year-old female Nashville resident who counts The Princess Bride and 50 First Dates among her favorite movies, regularly watches Sex and the City, keeps current on entertainment news, and enjoys taking pop-culture quizzes. That litany, which advertisers can buy for about one-tenth of a cent, constitutes what Hayes-Beaty calls an “eerily precise” consumer profile. “I like to think I have some mystery left to me,” says Hayes-Beaty, “but apparently not.”

How to fight back against data miners

There are ways to minimize your exposure to data miners. One of the most effective is to disrupt profile-building by clearing your computer browser’s cache and deleting all cookies at least once a week. In addition, turning on the “private browsing” feature included in most popular Web browsers will block tracking technologies from installing themselves on your machine. For fees ranging from $9.95 to $10,000, companies like ReputationDefender can remove your personal information from up to 90 percent of commercial websites. But it’s basically impossible to eradicate personal information, such as property records and police files, from government databases. “There’s really no solution now, except abstinence” from the Internet, says Lt. Col. Greg Conti, a computer science professor at West Point. “And if you choose not to use online tools, you’re really not a member of the 21st century.”




Heidi Montag, another reason to go to Costa Rica





hat tip: Daily Mail

I actually saw the story on Drudge of the lovely Michelle hating her job as first lady. That does not surprise me. However I did get diverted by a real lovely, Heidi Montag. She has very lovely hands, does she not?

Carl Paladino: "Not Intimidatable"



Watch this guy, Carl Paladino. He is up against one of the sons of America's ruling class, Andrew Cuomo, and he will draw blood. He is talking about bringing New York governmental spending down by 20%, and I don't think he is kidding. This will be good!


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The F Bomb



F-Bombs Heard On NFL Game On CBS TV
Jaguars Fans Watching Texans-Colts Game During Delay Caught Snafu
News4jax


A string of F-bombs by Texans safety Bernard Pollard to Colts receiver Reggie Wayne were heard on live TV.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It wasn't a play that caused heads to turn Sunday during an NFL game featuring Houston and Indianapolis, but what came out of one player's mouth.

Texans safety Bernard Pollard said the F-word to Colts receiver Reggie Wayne -- probably not something that's newsworthy, except for the fact that TV viewers heard it several times live
.
CBS Sports analysts didn't mention the microphone mistake. They went on with their regular broadcasts.

Many people in northeast Florida caught the snafu because the game was shown on CBS during the Jaguars game weather delay.
Dubose doesn't allow her 9-year-old son to say curse words, and she was upset he had to hear them on national TV.

"I guess maybe I expect them to keep in mind that these children do look up to them," NFL fan Angela Dubose said. "My son was absolutely watching, and you know as parents, we're left to kind of explain."

Jimmy Kelly is a huge football fan and expects some harsh words, but he and his football friends were still surprised.
"We just looked at each other, and I said, 'Yeah, that's exactly what he said,' and we just sort of laughed, but it was like, 'Wow!'" Kelly said.

It wasn't just the Colts-Texans game. Some watching the Jaguars-Broncos game said they could tell some explicit language was being used by looking at the lips of Denver head coach Josh McDaniels.

That's not the first time. Last year, the coach and the NFL Network took heat for airing a cursing-filled rant on live TV.
"They need to watch themselves because you never know when you're going to be on TV and what they're picking up and what you're saying," Kelly said.

"If they would remember that there are children and families getting together to watch these games, especially on a Sunday afternoon," Dubose said.