April 2012 -

Apr 12

Coca-Cola Caught With High Levels Of Chlorine In China’s Soda Supply

(Agence France-Presse)  Coca-Cola has been ordered to temporarily halt production at a bottling plant in northern China, after media reports of chlorine in its products, according to a government statement.

Shanxi province ordered an investigation after reports that a batch of drinks contained water with chlorine, the province’s quality bureau said in a statement at the weekend.

“An on-site inspection, product testing, consultation of records, interviewing workers and other methods confirmed media reports about the situation were fact,” it said.

But a spokesperson for Coca-Cola said Monday that the production suspension, which was temporary, was unrelated to food safety orchlorine levels, and arose from other issues found by the government inspection.

“The chlorine levels are well below the WHO (World Health Organization), EU, North American and China standards for drinking water,” she said.

Chlorine is commonly used in water treatment to kill bacteria, but high levels can be hazardous to human health.

In a statement, Coca-Cola said it was moving to address the issues related to quality and production but gave no details.

“The quality and production issues being addressed at our bottling plant in Shanxi, China, are isolated to that one location, and the company is moving quickly to resolve them,” said the statement provided to AFP.

“At no time did these issues affect the safety of our products in the market.”

A receptionist at Coca-Cola Shanxi Beverages Co. on Monday confirmed to AFP that the plant had already stopped production.

 The contamination occurred in February when water with small amounts of chlorine accidentally flowed into water used for drinks during maintenance work, the official Xinhua news agency said late Sunday.

An anonymous company whistle-blower told local media that nine batches of products were contaminated, it said.

China has experienced several scares over food safety in recent years, many blamed on lax supervision or producers deliberately cutting corners and deceiving consumers in search of profits.

China is one of Coca-Cola’s most important growth markets, accounting for around seven percent of its global volume last year, according to the US company.

Coca-Cola has said it plans to invest more than $4 billion in China over the next three years starting from 2012.

The company has more than 40 bottling plants in China, where it cooperates with Chinese food giant COFCO and Hong Kong conglomerate Swire Pacific.


Apr 12

Chicago To Welcome Militarized May Day?

(Yana Kunichoff)  If there is going to be a dress rehearsal for the coming NATO summit in Chicago, May Day is it. The first major mobilization of the 99 percent the month of the summit will take place on Tuesday, May 1. It will also, coincidentally or not, be the first day that police in “battle” dress hit the streets to prepare for the summit.

Operation Red Zone, a security perimeter around McCormick Place where the summits will be held and a “vast” area in downtown Chicago where federal and local government offices are located, according to the Sun-Times, will be patrolled by federal law enforcement carrying “non-lethal” guns beginning Tuesday.

The placement of the “red zone” may overlap with the planned route of the May Day march, which will go from Union Park, on Chicago’s near southwest side, to Federal Plaza downtown.

The police force will be “highly visible,” according to Cleophas Bradley, deputy regional director with the Federal Protective Service, “but we will not be preventing anyone from entering the red zone.”

“This is the city showing us their cards,” said Crystal Vance-Guerra, an organizer with Occupy el Barrio, which operates in Chicago’s immigrant neighborhood of Pilsen. “This is how they are going to play it.”

Groups including labor unions, immigrant rights groups and Occupiers are marching under the slogan:

We are Workers. We are Students. We are Documented. We are Undocumented. We are Occupiers.

They are Detaining Us. They are Shutting Down our Clinics. They are Closing our Schools. They are Taking our Wealth. They are Busting our Unions.

Come May 1st, we are on the March! Join Us!

Andy Manos, with Occupy Chicago, told Truthout that organizers hope to have as large and peaceful of a march as possible, despite the expected police presence.

“May Day is the day to celebrate working class consciousness, to demand greater control over the means of production,” said Manos, and they want all members of the working class to be able to participate equally.

May Day, international workers’ day, has an illustrious history in Chicago. It was started in the windy city by immigrants agitating for the eight-hour day against work conditions in which workers with minimal protections worked ten or 11 hours straight.

Then in 2006, half a million immigrants flooded into the streets of Chicago as part of a work strike and economic boycott to protest anti-immigrant legislation that was being considered by Congress.

“The immigrant rights movement of 2006 actually brought back May Day in the United States as a day for workers to express their concerns and their needs within the larger society,” said Democracy Now! journalist Juan Gonzalez in a 2011 interview. “In that sense they had an important impact, as immigrant workers have always had in the United States, in pushing the labor movement forward.”

“The fact that this day is being met with the beginnings of a force that is going to be used in NATO,” said Vance-Guerra, shows an extension of the “extreme militarization of the border, and the huge fear that was created and enforced after the 2006 marches.”

What followed the years since the 2006 marches has been an increase in the militarization of immigration enforcement coupled with an increasing crackdown on immigrants. Programs like Secure Communities and E-Verify used technology to track undocumented immigrants and deport even those who did not have a criminal record, while immigration detention centers became increasingly punitive with the rise of companies like the Corrections Corporation of America.

The lack of immigration legislation on the national front- the much-vaunted DREAM Act died an untimely death in the Senate in December 2010 – and a record number of deportations under President Obama was coupled with a spike in state-level punitive immigration legislation.

Some of the technology and force deployment used in the immigration crackdown will be making their way to Chicago for the NATO summit, reports show.

State troopers are used on the border with Mexico to bolster the presence of the Border Patrol; Chicago is expected to see about 500 state troopers and 600 National Guardsmendeployed for the summit.

The Illinois State Crime Commission also said that it is looking for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans to be hired for extra security, Truthout has reported. The US Customs and Border Protection also runs a Veterans Outreach Program, for which they “actively recruit eligible veterans.”

The money pumped into high-tech border protection – including dronesBlackhawk helicopters  and surveillance cameras – lines up eerily with leaked reports of aerial surveillance devicessnipersBlackhawks and sound cannons that the city of Chicago is expected to bring for NATO.

Whether a militarized May Day will dissuade people, or bring more out onto the streets for NATO, is unknown, said Eric Ruder, an organizer with CANG8.

But “if it is militarized, things will become more concrete for a lot of people,” said Ruder. “And it’s “not entirely clear that intimidation and restrictions work,” by keeping people out of the street as the city hopes they will.

The wild card in this year’s May Day is Occupy.

“The first May Day with Occupy brings all of these issues to the fore in a way that it hasn’t been for a long time,” said Manos, with Occupy Chicago. “We are not planning large arrestful direct actions, because of the kind of intensity of Rahm Emanuel’s crackdown that is going to happen during NATO.”

But the space that Occupy opened has allowed labor rank-and-filers to come together with Occupy activists. Manos expects this to bring out a wide layer of people of May Day, regardless of how big the crowd is.

“Occupy allows people to sit in the same room,” said Manos, a member of the Occupy Chicago Labor Working Group. “The greatest thing about the work that I do is the ability to create coalitions and solidarity, and help radicalize the actions.”

“When you look at who have been the major players in the May Day Committee, we have several rank-and-filers. Not just organizers organizing, but rank-and-filers as well,” stressed Manos.

In Occupy Chicago, some people expect “that Rahm will see it [May Day] as an opportunity to try out for the next few weeks.”

The largest Occupy mobilization of 2012 so far, the April 7th Chicago Spring, which brought out between 500 and 700 participants, had a more aggressive police presence than usual, said Ruder.

“At the beginning of April 7 there were police helicopters,” said Ruder, “which struck me as sort of an aggressive move.”

Vance-Guerra, who works regularly with immigrant communities, says that activist concern should be not only on what will happen on May Day or during the NATO summit, but how this will change “the whole strategy of how to deal with protesters and organizers and marches.”

Already the “Shut Up and Sit Down” ordinance changes passed by Emanuel in January, originally sold as only for the NATO summit until the mayor admitted under pressure that they were permanent, have changed the landscape of dissent in Chicago.

“I don’t think we are going to have the number of 2006, but I think we are going to see some growth from last year. The focus of the May Day organizing group and all of those who are participating is to be as open as we can be,” said Vance-Guerra.

“If it’s a day for the 99 percent, we all need to be there. As power and wealth become concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer, and the response against organizing become more and more militarized, we need to see really clearly the connections between all of our struggles.”


Apr 12

Official List Of Words Feds Monitor On Social Networking Sites

(Alexander Higgins)  The Feds have been forced to release their social network monitoring manual, which contains the list of words the government watches on social media and news sites.
Earlier the Huffington Post reported on the Feds have been forced to give up their list of words they monitor on Facebook, Twitter, and comments being posted on news articles so I compiled that list below.
Homeland Security Manual Lists Government Key Words For Monitoring Social Media, News
Ever complain on Facebook that you were feeling “sick?” Told your friends to “watch” a certain TV show? Left a comment on a media website about government “pork?”

If you did any of those things, or tweeted about your recent vacation in “Mexico” or a shopping trip to “Target,” the Department of Homeland Security may have noticed.

In the latest revelation of how the federal government is monitoring social media and online news outlets, the Electronic Privacy Information Center has posted online a 2011 Department of Homeland Security manual that includes hundreds of key words (such as those above) and search terms used to detect possible terrorism, unfolding natural disasters and public health threats. The center, a privacy watchdog group, filed a Freedom of Information Act request and then sued to obtain the release of the documents.

The 39-page “Analyst’s Desktop Binder” used by the department’s National Operations Center includes no-brainer words like “”attack,” “epidemic” and “Al Qaeda” (with various spellings). But the list also includes words that can be interpreted as either menacing or innocent depending on the context, such as “exercise,” “drill,” “wave,” “initiative,” “relief” and “organization.”

These terms and others are “broad, vague and ambiguous” and include “vast amounts of First Amendment protected speech that is entirely unrelated to the Department of Homeland Security mission to protect the public against terrorism and disasters,” stated the Electronic Privacy Information Center in letter to the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence.

The manual was released by the center a week after Homeland Security officials were grilled at a House hearing over other documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit that revealed analysts were scrutinizing online comments that “reflect adversely” on the federal government. Mary Ellen Callahan, the chief privacy officer for the Department of Homeland Security, and Richard Chavez, director for the National Operations Center, testified that the released documents were outdated and that social media was monitored strictly to provide situational awareness and not to police disparaging opinions about the federal government. On Friday, Homeland Security officials stuck by that testimony.

A senior Homeland Security official who spoke to The Huffington Post on Friday on condition of anonymity said the testimony of agency officials last week remains “accurate” and the manual “is a starting point, not the endgame” in maintaining situational awareness of natural and man-made threats. The official denied Electronic Privacy Information Center’s charge that the government is monitoring dissent. The manual’s instruction that analysts should identify “media reports that reflect adversely on DHS and response activities” was not aimed at silencing criticism but at spotting and addressing problems, she added.


Source: The Huffington Post

The Official List – Using these words online will put you in the crosshairs of Big Brother’s multi-billion dollar spy machine

Domestic Security

Domestic security
Law enforcement
Disaster assistance
Disaster management
DNDO (Domestic Nuclear
Detection Office)
National preparedness
Dirty bomb
Domestic nuclear detection
Emergency management
Emergency response
First responder
Homeland security
Maritime domain awareness
National preparedness
Shots fired
Explosion (explosive)
Disaster medical assistance
team (DMAT)
Organized crime
National security
State of emergency
Bomb (squad or threat)
Emergency Landing
Pipe bomb

HAZMAT & Nuclear

Chemical spill
Suspicious package/device
National laboratory
Nuclear facility
Nuclear threat
Biological infection (or
Chemical burn
Hazardous material incident
Industrial spill
Powder (white)
Blister agent
Chemical agent
Nerve agent
North Korea

Health Concern + H1N1

Food Poisoning
Foot and Mouth (FMD)
Small Pox
Human to human
Human to Animal
Center for Disease Control
Drug Administration (FDA)
Public Health
Agro Terror
Tuberculosis (TB)
Norvo Virus
Water/air borne
Pork World Health Organization
(WHO) (and components)
Viral Hemorrhagic Fever
E. Coli

Infrastructure Security

Infrastructure security
CIKR (Critical Infrastructure
& Key Resources)
Computer infrastructure
Critical infrastructure
National infrastructure
Airplane (and derivatives)
Chemical fire
Port Authority
NBIC (National
Biosurveillance Integration
Transportation security
Body scanner
Failure or outage
Black out
Brown out
Service disruption
Power lines

Southwest Border Violence

Drug cartel
U.S. Consulate
El Paso
Fort Hancock
San Diego
Ciudad Juarez
Mara salvatrucha
MS13 or MS-13
Drug war
Mexican army
Cartel de Golfo
Gulf Cartel
La Familia
Nuevo Leon
Narco banners (Spanish
Los Zetas
Meth Lab
Drug trade
Illegal immigrants
Smuggling (smugglers)
Barrio Azteca
Artistic Assassins
New Federation


Al Qaeda (all spellings)
Environmental terrorist
Eco terrorism
Conventional weapon
Weapons grade
Dirty bomb
Chemical weapon
Biological weapon
Ammonium nitrate
Improvised explosive device
IED (Improvised Explosive
Abu Sayyaf
FARC (Armed Revolutionary
Forces Colombia)
IRA (Irish Republican Army)
ETA (Euskadi ta Askatasuna)
Basque Separatists
Tamil Tigers
PLF (Palestine Liberation
PLO (Palestine Liberation
Car bomb
Weapons cache
Suicide bomber
Suicide attack
Suspicious substance
AQAP (AL Qaeda Arabian
AQIM (Al Qaeda in the
Islamic Maghreb)
TTP (Tehrik-i-Taliban
Home grown


Extreme weather
Forest fire
Brush fire
Tsunami Warning Center
Mud slide or Mudslide
Power outage
Brown out
Emergency Broadcast System

Cyber Security

Cyber security
DDOS (dedicated denial of
Denial of service
Cyber Command
Cain and abel
Brute forcing
Mysql injection
Cyber attack
Cyber terror
Social media

Read the Deparment of Homeland Security Media Monitoring Desktop Reference

Analyst Desktop Binder_REDACTED


Watch: Congressional Hearing Department of Homeland Security’s monitoring of social media


Video of Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.), chairing a hearing of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence about the Department of Homeland Security’s monitoring of social media.


Apr 12

May Day-Occupy Plans Global Disruption

(Henry Goldman)  Occupy Wall Street demonstrators, whose anti-greed message spread worldwide during an eight-week encampment in Lower Manhattan last year, plan marches across the globe tomorrow calling attention to what they say are abuses of power and wealth.

Organizers say they hope the coordinated events will mark a spring resurgence of the movement after a quiet winter. Calls for a general strike with no work, no school, no banking and no shopping have sprung up on websites in Toronto, BarcelonaLondonKuala Lumpur andSydney, among hundreds of cities in North America, Europe and Asia.

In New York, Occupy Wall Street will join scores of labor organizations observing May 1, traditionally recognized as International Workers’ Day. They plan marches from Union Square to Lower Manhattan and a “pop-up occupation” of Bryant Park on Sixth Avenue, across the street from Bank of America’s Corp.’s 55-story tower.

“We call upon people to refrain from shopping, walk out of class, take the day off of work and other creative forms of resistance disrupting the status quo,” organizers said in an April 26 e-mail.

Occupy groups across the U.S. have protested economic disparity, decrying high foreclosure and unemployment rates that hurt average Americans while bankers and financial executives received bonuses and taxpayer-funded bailouts. In the past six months, similar groups, using social media and other tools, have sprung up in Europe, Asia and Latin America.

Pooling Resources

The Occupy movement in New York has relied on demonstrations and marches around the city since Nov. 15, when police ousted hundreds of protesters from their headquarters in Zuccotti Park near Wall Street, where they had camped since Sept. 17.

Banks have pooled resources and cooperated to gather intelligence after learning of plans to picket 99 institutions and companies, followed by what organizers have described as an 8 p.m. “radical after-party” in an undetermined Financial District location.

“If the banks anticipate outrage from everyday citizens, it’s revealing of their own guilt,” said Shane Patrick, a member of the Occupy Wall Street press team. “If they hadn’t been participating in maneuvers that sent the economy into the ditch, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.”

Police Prepared

New York police can handle picketers, according to Paul Browne, the department’s chief spokesman.

“We’re experienced at accommodating lawful protests and responding appropriately to anyone who engages in unlawful activity, and we’re prepared to do both,” he said in an interview.

About 2,100 Occupy Wall Street protesters in New York have been arrested since the demonstrations began, said Bill Dobbs, a member of the group’s media-relations team.

Organizers describe the May Day events as a coming together of the Occupy movement, with activists also calling for more open immigration laws, expanded labor rights and cheaper financing for higher education. Financial institutions remain a primary target of the protests.

“Four years after the financial crisis, not a single of the too-big-to-fail banks is smaller; in fact, they all continue to grow in size and risk,” the group’s press office said in an April 26 e-mail.

Planning Since January

Five banks — JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), Bank of America, Citigroup Inc. (C)Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) together held $8.5 trillion in assets at the end of 2011, equal to 56 percent of the U.S. economy, compared with 43 percent in 2006, according to central bankers at the Federal Reserve.

Occupy Wall Street began planning for May Day in January, meeting in churches and union halls with a decision-making system that avoids a single leader. Instead, participants rely on group “break-out” sessions in which clusters discuss such tasks as crowd-building, logistics and communications.

About 150 attended an April 25 meeting at the Greenwich Village headquarters of the Amalgamated Clothing & Textile Workers Union, making last-minute preparations for how to deploy legal and medical help; site selection for picketing; purchasing, production and distribution of protest signs; and how to talk to reporters.

The meeting convened inside the union hall basement, where attendees arranged chairs in a circle as three facilitators asked each of the assembled to identify themselves by first name and gender — he, she or they. Most appeared under age 30, though gray-haired baby boomers also participated. One of the older attendees pulled a ski mask over his head to protest the presence of a photographer from Tokyo.

Raging Musicians

Tomorrow, beginning at 8 a.m. in Bryant Parkscheduled events include teach-ins, art performances and a staging area for “direct action and civil disobedience,” such as bank blockades.

Tom Morello of the Grammy Award-winning rock band Rage Against the Machine along with 1,000 other guitar-playing musicians will accompany a march to Union Square at 2 p.m., according to the maydaynyc.org website. That will be followed by a “unity rally” at Union Square at 4 p.m.; a march from there to Wall Street at 5:30 p.m.; and a walk to a staging area for “evening actions,” which organizers at the April 25 meeting said would be the so-called after-party.

Golden Gate Bridge

Occupy-related events are planned in 115 cities throughout the U.S., from college towns such as Amherst, Massachusetts, and Ann Arbor, Michigan, to Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago and Philadelphia.

In San Francisco, demonstrators intend to hold a rally at the toll plaza of the Golden Gate Bridge from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. local time that “will result in the shutdown,” according to their website.

Across the bay in Oakland, protesters said they intend morning marches on banks and the Chamber of Commerce, followed by an afternoon rally and a march downtown.

“We’re looking forward to vigorously asserting our constitutional right to protest and giving a loud outcry about Wall Street and greed,” Dobbs said. “We’re hoping this will make a splash. We hope it will bring a lot of more people into the Occupy movement.”


Apr 12

Stephen King Warns Of A Kingsian Apocalyptic Scenario

(Stephen King)  Chris Christie may be fat, but he ain’t Santa Claus. In fact, he seems unable to decide if he is New Jersey’s governor or its caporegime, and it may be a comment on the coarsening of American discourse that his brash rudeness is often taken for charm.

In February, while discussing New Jersey’s newly amended income-tax law, which allows the rich to pay less (proportionally) than the middle class, Christie was asked about Warren Buffett’s observation that he paid less federal income taxes than his personal secretary, and that wasn’t fair. “He should just write a check and shut up,” Christie responded, with his typical verve. “I’m tired of hearing about it. If he wants to give the government more money, he’s got the ability to write a check—go ahead and write it.”

Heard it all before. At a rally in Florida (to support collective bargaining and to express the socialist view that firing teachers with experience was sort of a bad idea), I pointed out that I was paying taxes of roughly 28 percent on my income. My question was, “How come I’m not paying 50?” The governor of New Jersey did not respond to this radical idea, possibly being too busy at the all-you-can-eat cheese buffet at Applebee’s in Jersey City, but plenty of other people of the Christie persuasion did. Cut a check and shut up, they said. If you want to pay more, pay more, they said.Tired of hearing about it, they said.

Tough shit for you guys, because I’m not tired of talking about it. I’ve known rich people, and why not, since I’m one of them? The majority would rather douse their dicks with lighter fluid, strike a match, and dance around singing “Disco Inferno” than pay one more cent in taxes to Uncle Sugar.

It’s true that some rich folks put at least some of their tax savings into charitable contributions. My wife and I give away roughly $4 million a year to libraries, local fire departments that need updated lifesaving equipment (jaws of life are always a popular request), schools, and a scattering of organizations that underwrite the arts. Warren Buffett does the same; so does Bill Gates; so does Steven Spielberg; so do the Koch brothers; so did the late Steve Jobs. All fine as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go far enough.

What charitable 1-percenters can’t do is assume responsibility—America’s national responsibilities: the care of its sick and its poor, the education of its young, the repair of its failing infrastructure, the repayment of its staggering war debts. Charity from the rich can’t fix global warming or lower the price of gasoline by one single red penny. That kind of salvation does not come from Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Ballmer saying, “Okay, I’ll write a $2 million bonus check to the IRS.” That annoying responsibility stuff comes from three words that are anathema to the Tea Partiers: United American citizenry.




And hey, why don’t we get real about this? Most rich folks paying 28 percent taxes do not give out another 28 percent of their income to charity. Most rich folks like to keep their dough.

They don’t strip their bank accounts and investment portfolios, they keep them and then pass them on to their children, their children’s children. And what they do give away is—like the monies my wife and I donate—totally at their own discretion. That’s the rich-guy philosophy in a nutshell: Don’t tell us how to use our money; we’ll tell you.

The Koch brothers are right-wing creepazoids, but they’re giving right-wing creepazoids. Here’s an example: 68 million fine American dollars to Deerfield Academy. Which is great for Deerfield Academy. But it won’t do squat for cleaning up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, where food fish are now showing up with black lesions.

It won’t pay for stronger regulations to keep BP (or some other bunch of dipshit oil drillers) from doing it again. It won’t repair the levees surrounding New Orleans. It won’t improve education in Mississippi or Alabama. But what the hell—them li’l crackers ain’t never going to go to Deerfield Academy anyway. F–k em if they can’t take a joke.

Here’s another crock of fresh bullshit delivered by the right wing of the Republican Party (which has become, so far as I can see, the only wing of the Republican Party): the richer rich people get, the more jobs they create. Really? I have a total payroll of about 60 people, most of them working for the two radio stations I own in Bangor, Maine.

If I hit the movie jackpot—as I have, from time to time—and own a piece of a film that grosses $200 million, what am I going to do with it? Buy another radio station? I don’t think so, since I’m losing my shirt on the ones I own already. But suppose I did, and hired on an additional dozen folks. Good for them. Whoopee-ding for the rest of the economy.

Tired of hearing about it, they said. Tough shit for you guys, because I’m not tired of talking about it. I’ve known rich people, and why not, since I’m one ofthem?

At the risk of repeating myself, here’s what rich folks do when they get richer:they invest. A lot of those investments are overseas, thanks to the anti-American business policies of the last four administrations. Don’t think so? Check the tag on that T-shirt or gimme cap you’re wearing.

If it says MADE IN AMERICA, I’ll…well, I won’t say I’ll eat your shorts, because some of that stuff ismade here, but not much of it. And what does get made here doesn’t get made by America’s small cadre of pluted bloatocrats; it’s made, for the most part, in barely-gittin’-by factories in the Deep South, where the only unions people believe in are those solemnized at the altar of the local church (as long as they’re from different sexes, that is).

The U.S. senators and representatives who refuse even to consider raising taxes on the rich—they squall like scalded babies (usually on Fox News) every time the subject comes up—are not, by and large, superrich themselves, although many are millionaires and all have had the equivalent of Obamacare for years.

They simply idolize the rich. Don’t ask me why; I don’t get it either, since most rich people are as boring as old dead dogshit. The Mitch McConnells and John Boehners and Eric Cantors just can’t seem to help themselves. These guys and their right-wing supporters regard deep pockets like Christy Walton and Sheldon Adelson the way the little girls regard Justin Bieber…which is to say, with wide eyes, slack jaws, and the drool of adoration dripping from their chins.

I’ve gotten the same reaction myself, even though I’m only “baby rich” compared to some of these guys, who float serenely over the lives of the struggling middle class like blimps made of thousand-dollar bills.

In America, the rich are hallowed. Even Warren Buffett, who has largely been drummed out of the club for his radical ideas about putting his money where his mouth is when it comes to patriotism, made the front pages when he announced that he had stage 1 prostate cancer. Stage 1, for God’s sake! A hundred clinics can fix him up, and he can put the bill on his American Express black card! But the press made it sound like the pope’s balls had just dropped off and shattered! Because it was cancer? No! Because it was Warren Buffett, he of Berkshire-Hathaway!

I guess some of this mad right-wing love comes from the idea that in America, anyone can become a Rich Guy if he just works hard and saves his pennies.Mitt Romney has said, in effect, “I’m rich and I don’t apologize for it.” Nobody wants you to, Mitt. What some of us want—those who aren’t blinded by a lot of bullshit persiflage thrown up to mask the idea that rich folks want to keep their damn money—is for you to acknowledge that you couldn’t have made it in America without America.

That you were fortunate enough to be born in a country where upward mobility is possible (a subject upon which Barack Obama can speak with the authority of experience), but where the channels making such upward mobility possible are being increasingly clogged. That it’s not fair to ask the middle class to assume a disproportionate amount of the tax burden.

Not fair? It’s un-f–king-American, is what it is. I don’t want you to apologize for being rich; I want you to acknowledge that in America, we all should have to pay our fair share. That our civics classes never taught us that being American means that—sorry, kiddies—you’re on your own.

That those who have received much must be obligated to pay—not to give, not to “cut a check and shut up,” in Gov. Christie’s words, but to pay—in the same proportion. That’s called stepping up and not whining about it. That’s called patriotism, a word the Tea Partiers love to throw around as long as it doesn’t cost their beloved rich folks any money.

This has to happen if America is to remain strong and true to its ideals. It’s a practical necessity and a moral imperative. Last year, during the Occupy movement, the conservatives who oppose tax equality saw the first real ripples of discontent. Their response was either Marie Antoinette (“Let them eat cake”) or Ebeneezer Scrooge (“Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?”). Short-sighted, gentlemen. Very short-sighted. If this situation isn’t fairly addressed, last year’s protests will just be the beginning. Scrooge changed his tune after the ghosts visited him. Marie Antoinette, on the other hand, lost her head.

Think about it.

Apr 12

Milwaukee Red Cross Told To Prep For Chicago Evacuation During NATO Summit

(CBS)   Is there a secret plan to evacuate some residents of Chicago in the event of major trouble during the NATO summit next month? CBS 2 has uncovered some evidence that there is. It comes from the Milwaukee area branch of the American Red Cross.

CBS 2 News has obtained a copy of a Red Cross e-mail sent to volunteers in the Milwaukee area.

It said the NATO summit “may create unrest or another national security incident. The American Red Cross in southeastern Wisconsin has been asked to place a number of shelters on standby in the event of evacuation of Chicago.”

According to a chapter spokesperson, the evacuation plan is not theirs alone.

“Our direction has come from the City of Chicago and the Secret Service,” she said.

Officials at Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communication said the directive did not come from them.

The U.S. Secret Service did not return calls for comment.

Some downtown residents told CBS 2’s Mike Parker that the news has them on edge.

Brad Klein said it is “very unnerving. I feel a little bit unsafe, just a bit more than a little bit. It doesn’t make me feel like I want to be in the city during the NATO conference.”

An executive with the Service Employees International Union, who trains members in preparation for the summit, thinks such a plan might be “over the top.”

SEIU Local 1 training director Tom Dobry said, “This could be a lot like Y2K – a lot of hype and buildup. People will say, ‘that was it?’ Not a big deal.”


Apr 12

The Top 10 Events Leading To Humanity’s Demise

(Activist Post)  Misdirected environmentalism continues to paint humanity as the enemy of itself simply through the natural exhalation of carbon dioxide.  However, there are many other more demonstrable ways indicating that humanity is not heading toward a flourishing, healthy future.

While we believe in the inherent goodness of the vast majority of people, as well as the unlimited potential of each and every individual to bring light into a dark world, we also can’t ignore some very disturbing facts.

We previously have pointed to earth changes as being valid existential threats, while pointing out that some man-made activities such as fracking and HAARP certainly could further exacerbate some of them.

However, any one of the following human creations may send us into an irrevocable tailspin that could wipe us out before any asteroid or mega volcano arrives.  We can also speculate about whether any or all of the below are the work of elite eugenicists, as some of them have indicated such intentions openly.  Regardless, the fact remains that unless we can elevate our mindset to how we can more properly utilize our technological evolution instead of permit developments that threaten our survival whether mistaken or intended, we will continue careening down a very destructive current path.

10. Vaccines — At first it might not seem like vaccines could actually cause the extinction of our entire species, but there are some troubling indicators. The link between vaccines and autism is such that rates have risen to 1 in every 88 children in the U.S. having the disorder, up 2,700 percent in the past 20 years.  Children under the age of 3 are being exposed to 30+ vaccines before their immune systems have even developed. Vaccine horror stories appear across all age groups, as the mounting effects of mercuryaluminum, adjuvants and other hidden surprises build within an ever-greater number of human beings.  The result is neurological disorders, birth defects, and death.  Instead of reversing vaccination policies, despite a mountain of evidence and public outcry, the pharmaceutical industry in tandem with admitted eugenicist, Bill Gates, seeks only to increase the exposure.  In the Third World, villages have been held up literally at gun point, whereas in the First World U.S. the gun is regulatory as children are being given vaccines without their parents’ consent (including outright sterilization in Australia), religious exemptions are under attack, anddoor-to-door vaccine armies are on the move.  Some would still suggest that vaccines can ultimately be avoided based on location and creative resistance. Bill Gates and company have a solution for that as well — a flying vaccine solution — mosquitoes. They already have been released.

9. Chemical additives — The range and volume of chemical additives in our food, air and water is staggering.  Substances like high-fructose corn syrup which contains mercury; sodium fluoride (literally a hazardous waste linked to the #1 cause of death); Aspartame; the excitotoxin monosodium glutamate; BPA; aluminum and other geoengineering fallout, as well as a mountain of chemicals within personal care and cleaning products are leading to everything from increased cancers and debilitating syndromes to sterility. While many of these chemicals can be eradicated through education and better consumer choice, the ubiquitous nature of the poisoning (and sometimes secret nature) is nearly overwhelming . . . and cumulative.

8. Genetic Engineering — GM seeds themselves do not represent life, but actual death, as they are programmed to be “terminator seeds.”  This terminator capability now extends across the spectrum as GMOs interact with human genetics. The interaction already has been linked to weight gain, organ failure, and the negative effects of higher levels of plant estrogens coming from the use of glyphosate found in air, rain and rivers in the United States.  Sterility by the third generation has been shown in a Russian study of GMO-soy-fed hamsters. And this is only the tip of the iceberg in genetic modification, as Dr. Moreau-type experimentation of human/animal hybrids all over the world threatens to completely de-humanize our species. Genetic engineering has so many variables, and has been so thoroughly untested over the long term, that we can only conclude that it holds the potential for extreme lethality.

7. War — War has been a recurring theme for as long as man has been around, and an unfortunate means of wiping out certain populations. With the advent of nuclear weapons, we are theoretically always just one stroke away from total annihilation. War also has been an insidious instrument for slow-kill weapons such as depleted uranium which already has entered the jet stream, affecting people far removed from any actual battlefield. The sad fact is that the weapons and methods of war have only become more widespread and more violent as our history has unfolded. A side effect is that the governments who wage war and impose the control mechanisms to maintain and justify their actions of political repression and genocide have become the #1 cause of unnatural death — the current toll is well over 262 million people. These are the same power-mad people who have enough nuclear warheads at their disposal to destroy the planet many times over.

6. Robotic Replacements — Mankind’s acumen for technological advancement has created new weapons and systems of war which previously only had been imagined in works of science fiction.  Well, that science fiction story is now part of the daily news cycle.  Machine warfare has arrived with drone bombings taking place around the globe.  Beyond simple remote-controlled war,autonomous systems have been developed that are capable of unilateral decision making based on computerized threat assessments.  And they can self-replicate.  What role is there for human beings once robotic systems have either gone awry through malfunction … or have “decided” that humanity is the real threat after all.

5. Runaway Nanotech — The ability to self-replicate takes on even more potentially disastrous consequences in the area of nanotech.  There has been a full commitment given by the U.S. government to fund all areas of nanotech including surveillance and security, which has given birth to micro drones that mimic the insect world, as well as “smart dust” in agriculture and beyond. Nanoparticles have already entered our food, appliances and clothing – again without proper long-term testing, oversight, or consumer knowledge.  Since nanoparticles have been proven to have caused brain damage in aquatic species, and nanotech has the capability to rewire the brain and permit “smart” devices to rewire themselves, we have to wonder what happens when this technology goes rogue.

4. Super Virus — Inexplicably, scientists have reconstructed the genetic code of The Black Plague. This is just one possibility among a host of bioweapons (including mosquitoes) within labs around the planet that could unleash a civilization-ending super virus. Currently, there are over 1360 BSL-3’s (biosafety labs) in the US, and while the CDC insists there are only 6 BSL-4’s, the actual number appears far higher (Source). The BSLs are coded by their containment levels. BSL-4’s handle the most dangerous bugs known to man; those for which there is no known cure. The BSL-3’s deal with slightly less deadly germs, such as anthrax and plague. According to a report tendered by Edward Hammond, director of the now defunct Sunshine Project, there is no one providing oversight as to the type of research going on in these labs (Source). In tandem with antibiotic-resistant bacteria and all manner of fortified diseases, without proper controls — and a whole lot of luck — this could end life as we know it.

3. Bee Colony Collapse — Anything that centrally affects the global food chain has the ability to cascade across all species, rapidly collapsing the dominoes until it reaches the species sitting at the top.  Also known as Colony Collapse Disorder, an increasing body of evidence points to the effects of pesticides as a main culprit leading to bees evacuating their colonies, while genetic engineering also has raised concern among experts such as Jeffrey Smith. In fact, Monsanto has been implicated, and perhaps as a hedge Monsanto has bought one of the leading bee research firms.  However, buying “experts” to deny what is happening is not going to change reality.  The excellent report below summarizes where we stand: 76% of all food production and 84% of plant species rely on bees for pollination to nourish the “food circle of life.”  And it turns out there is a smoking gun:

2. Oil Spills — We have just reached the two-year anniversary of the BP oil disaster and all evidence points to a worsening situation: mutated fish, and a wide range of effects across the ecosystem of the Gulf.  We would do well to remember that although this oil spill is the worst, therehave been others around the world, and there surely will be more.  The global interdependence of the food supply will lead to widespread contamination across the planet.  How much can the environment take of corporate greed that sees true safety measures as being a threat to their bottom line, rather than a threat to all of humanity?

1. Fukushima — This appears to be our most pressing threat, since it is not only far from over, but reactor 4, which has been weakened to a point of near collapse, contains over 1500 fuel rods, any one of which could kill billions if its plutonium is released.  Independent experts are telling us that this will most assuredly lead to a near-extinction event for humanity.  Meanwhile, the amount of radiation that already has been released — on top of what is in our environment due to weapons of war and other reactor leaks — is beginning to lead to physical signs across North America.   Alaskan wildlife is showing signs of radiation poisoning, despite official denial; human cancer rates are spiking, and plant mutations are being recorded in Michigan.  After governments have largely downplayed the situation by ignoring readings and raising radiation safety limits for food, a few are beginning to raise their voices in earnest to tell the world of a coming mass extinction event.  To keep up with the latest about the unfolding Fukushima nightmare, please click here and here.

This is no time to be timid. The above scenarios are grim, but it is imperative that we face these very real threats and learn as much as we can so that we can avert disaster.  Unfortunately, these human-created possibilities are too easily open for denial and self-delusion due to their largely hidden and silent nature, whereas a volcano, meteor, or pole shift cannot be actively ignored.  The good news is that we can minimize or even reverse each and every one of these manufactured threats simply by becoming educated and sharing with others a message of courage, ingenuity and hope that is innate within our species.


Apr 12

U.S.D.A. Owns The Word “Organic”

(Thomas Dishaw) Usually the news I read doesn’t surprise me. I read about 100 articles per day ranging from economics, politics,health  and corruption. So not a lot of things get by me. But this story did and it blew my mind.  The U.S.D.A. owns the word “organic” Let me say that again, the U.S.D.A. owns the word “organic” . This is the same U.S.D.A. that wanted to feed your kids “pink slime” in the school lunch program. But quickly backed away after public outcry.

There also instrumental in helping their little brother Monsanto  by approving G.M.O. crops before they are legitimately evaluate for public consumption.  With trust of government and their agencies at an all time low, I surely don’t trust them with the word organic. Some things are sacred , and the U.S.D.A. owning the word is part of their plan to destroying the meaning.

Over time organic will lose its value ,eventually being  defined as something that was grown naturally. What I mean by naturally is,something grown by a tree, plant or a vine. In the not so distant future labs will be growing our foods. The family farm will be extinct and the government will have control of the food supply.

Corporation Grow will have major food hubs in every state. They won’t need sunlight,soil or clean air this will all be done in under the roof  of  huge grow domes that mass produce chemically designed food that will be cost efficient for the corporations.

We need to make sure this future scenario doesn’t take place. All of us need to step up our fight in protecting  the word organic and fight for G.M.O. labeling. If we don’t, we will see something that was so healthy become destroyed in less than a generation.

Apr 12

Police Departments Wait Anxiously To Fly Drones Over U.S. Cities

(Brian Bennett)  Police departments across the country have bought inexpensive small drone aircraft with cameras to help track drug dealers, find missing children and locate wandering Alzheimer’s patients, but federal rules designed to protect the nation’s airspace have kept them grounded. That is about to change in a dramatic way.

Under a law President Obama signed in February, the Federal Aviation Administration must write rules by May 14 on how it will license police, fire department and other public safety agencies eager to fly lightweight drones at low altitudes.

The FAA also is supposed to develop plans by this year to integrate drones operated by individuals or corporations into U.S. airspace by 2015.

The bottom line: Thousands of remotely piloted aircraft of various shapes, sizes and speeds — at least some carrying high-resolution cameras and sophisticated sensors — may soon be buzzing overhead.

FAA officials have long worried that ground-based pilots of drone aircraft can’t always see or avoid commercial and other aircraft. And civil liberties groups warn that Americans could face unprecedented surveillance from above in violation of privacy rights.

But members of Congress, backed by drone manufacturers, inserted language in the FAA reauthorization bill that requires the agency to move swiftly to license drones. The new rules are supposed to help determine who can fly a drone — and how high and far — without posing a threat.

Advocates say the unmanned planes could be deployed for uses as diverse as dusting crops, selling real estate, giving real-time traffic reports and helping with disaster relief. Some can stay aloft at a fraction of the cost of helicopters and manned aircraft.

Next month’s set of FAA rules will apply only to police and other first-responder drones smaller than 4.4 pounds that are flown in daylight below 400 feet, and that stay within a pilot’s line of sight. They resemble large model planes.


“We want [police] to be able to use the aircraft sooner because there is a public interest,” said Ben Gielow, government relations manager for the Assn. for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, an industry organization that helped draft some of the language in the new law.
Critics say the FAA is moving too quickly to secure privacy and safety.

“I think it is a very quick timeline,” said Jennifer Lynch, a lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based advocacy group that has sued to compel the FAA to release more information about its plans.

“Rushing to push through applications to fly drones doesn’t seem like a good idea,” she said.

At least a dozen police departments have asked the FAA for permission to fly drones.

Police in Gadsden, Ala., used a $150,000 federal grant two years ago to buy a lightweight drone called a WASP III to help in drug investigations. But officers have yet to fly the drone, said Capt. Regina May, a department spokeswoman.

“We’re going to be keeping an eye on what happens” on May 14, she said.


Apr 12

How To Hide From Face-Detection Technology

(John D. Sutter)  If you take Adam Harvey’s advice, here’s what you might wanna wear to a party this weekend: A funny hat, asymmetrical glasses, a tuft of hair that dangles off your nose bridge and, most likely, a black-and-white triangle taped to your cheekbone. Optional: Cubic makeup patterns all around your eyes.

All of these otherworldly fashion accessories – which could leave a person looking kind of like an opulent villain from “The Hunger Games” – have a singular goal: to stop your face from being detected by cameras and computers. Called CV Dazzle (short for “computer vision dazzle;” more on the name later), Harvey’s project is a provocative and largely theoretical response to the rise of surveillance cameras on street corners and face-detecting technology that’s been incorporated into social networking sites like Facebook and Flickr.

If you employ these techniques, Harvey, 30, hopes computers won’t even know you have a face:

I don’t want to be unrealistic about it. It’s a pretty conceptual project but it seems to touch on a subject that people are still trying to figure out, which is how to adapt to living in surveillance societies, where not only are you being watched by government surveillance but by citizen surveillance and social-media-type surveillance.

The face appendages aim to trick face detection software by obscuring computer-readable parts of your face. According to Harvey, the key part of the face that computers can read is the “nose bridge,” or the area between the eyes. If you can obscure that, you have a good chance of tricking computers into thinking you don’t have a face, he said. Another technique is to create an “anit-face,” which is less terrifying than it sounds since it just means inverting your face’s color scheme. So the black-and-white triangles on the cheeks aim to achieve this effect.

Face detection prevention fashion.

Or, you could just sport a popped collar or a hoodie. More from Harvey:

One idea I’m working on is a double flip-up collar. It’s not much different from a hoodie except that you can fold it down and it’s a new style. The hoodie works great, but of course it’s kind of suspicious.

Asymmetry also fools computers, he said, since software first looks for symmetry in a face.

Harvey developed this concept as a grad-student project at New York University starting in 2010. He hopes to soon put out a fashion guide to avoiding face detection and wants to work with fashion designers to create accessories that trick peeping cameras. He’s also working on a computer program that would allow people to draw their own anti-detection fashion, then test it virtually to see if it actually works before they go wandering out of the house with bangs hanging over their noses.

Oh, and the name: “Dazzle” refers to a particular type of camouflage that was used by ships in World War I. The cubist-style pattern on the boats wasn’t meant to blend into the surroundings, exactly, but it did have a confusing effect, he said. “Zebras use dazzle camouflage,” he said. “If they’re all running around it’s increasingly difficult to se how many there are. That’s the advantage to them.”


Harvey said he’s not completely against face detection in all cases, but he thinks the technology “oscillates between cool and freaky.” The public thinking on privacy, has “really turned upside down,” he said. “Anything you do in favor of privacy can raise a lot of suspicion now.”
He doesn’t take things so seriously that he actually wears this stuff to parties, however. He’s actually never tried that himself, he said, but is trying to come up with a hat that will look cool and still could conceal his identity – at least from the computers.


Apr 12

22 Signs That The Collapsing Spanish Economy Is Heading Into A Great Depression

(Economic Collapse)  What happens when debt-fueled false prosperity disappears?  Just look at Spain.  The 4th largest economy in Europe was riding high during the boom years, but now the Spanish economy is collapsing with no end in sight.

When a debt bubble gets interrupted, the consequences can be rather chaotic.  Just like we saw in Greece, austerity is causing the economy to slow down in Spain.  But when the economy slows down, tax revenues fall and that makes it even more difficult to meet budget targets.

So even more austerity measures are needed to keep debt under control and the cycle just keeps going.  Unfortunately, even with all of the recently implemented austerity measures the Spanish government is still not even close to a balanced budget.  Meanwhile, the housing market in Spain is crashing and unemployment is already above 24 percent.

The Spanish banking system is a giant, unregulated mess that is on the verge of a massive implosion, and the Spanish stock market has been declining rapidly.

The Spanish government is going to need a massive bailout and so will the entire Spanish banking system.  But that is going to be a huge problem, because the Spanish economy is almost 5 times as large as the Greek economy.  When the Spanish financial system collapses, the entire globe is going to feel the pain and there will be no easy solution.

So just how bad are things in Spain at this point?

The following are 22 signs that the collapsing Spanish economy is heading into a great depression….

#1 The unemployment rate in Spain has reached 24.4 percent – a new all-time record high.  Back in April 2007, the unemployment rate in Spain was only 7.9 percent.

#2 The unemployment rate in Spain is now higher than the U.S. unemployment rate was during any point during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

#3 According to CNBC, some analysts are projecting that the unemployment rate in Spain is going to go above 30 percent.

#4 The unemployment rate for those under the age of 25 in Spain is now a whopping 52 percent.

#5 There are more than 47 million people living in Spain today.  Only about 17 million of them have jobs.

#6 Retail sales in Spain have declined for 21 months in a row.

#7 The Bank of Spain has officially confirmed that Spain has already entered another recession.

#8 Last week, Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services slashed Spain’s credit ratingfrom A to BBB+.

#9 The yield on 10-year Spanish bonds is up around 6 percent again.  That is considered to be very dangerous territory.

#10 Two of Spain’s biggest banks have announced that they are going to stop increasing their holdings of Spanish government debt.

#11 Of all the loans held by Spanish banks, 8.15 percent are considered to be “bad loans”.

#12 The total value of all bad loans in Spain is equivalent to approximately 13 percent of Spanish GDP.

#13 Of all real estate assets held by Spanish banks, more than 50 percent of them are considered to be “troubled” by the Spanish government.

#14 That total amount of money loaned out by Spanish banks is equivalent toapproximately 170 percent of Spanish GDP.

#15 Home prices in Spain fell by 11.2 percent last year, and the number of property repossessions in Spain rose by a staggering 32 percent during 2011.

#16 Spanish housing prices are now down 25 percent from the peak of the housing market and Citibank’s Willem Buiter expects the eventual decline to be somewhere around 60 percent.


#17 It is being projected the the economy of Spain will shrink by 1.7 percentthis year, although there are some analysts that feel that projection is way too optimistic.
#18 The Spanish government has announced a ban on all cash transactionslarger than 2,500 euros.

#19 One key Spanish stock index has already fallen by more than 19 percentso far this year.

#20 The Spanish government recently admitted that its 2011 budget deficit wasmuch larger than originally projected and that it probably will not meet its budget targets for 2012 either.

#21 Spain’s debt to GDP ratio is projected to rise by more than 11 percentduring 2012.

#22 Worldwide exposure to Spanish debt is estimated to be well over a trillion euros.

Spain is going down the exact same road that Greece went down.

Greece is already suffering through a great depression and now Spain is joining them.  The following is from a recent BBC article….

“In Spain today, a cycle similar to Greece is starting to develop,” said HSBC chief economist Stephen King.

“The recession is so deep that when you take one step forward on austerity, it takes you two steps back.”

In Spain right now there is a lot of fear and panic about the economy.  In many areas, it seems like absolutely nobody is hiring right now.  The following is from a recent USA Today article….

“The situation is very bad. There’s no work,” said Enrique Sebastian, a 48-year-old unemployed surgery room assistant as he left one of Madrid’s unemployment offices. “The only future I see is one with wages of €400 ($530) a month for eight-hour days. And that’s if you can find it.”

But Spain is just at the beginning of a downward spiral.  Just wait until they have been through a few years of economic depression.  Once that happens, millions of people begin to lose all hope.  A recent Reuters article discussed the epidemic of suicides that is happening in Greece right now….

On Monday, a 38-year-old geology lecturer hanged himself from a lamp post in Athens and on the same day a 35-year-old priest jumped to his death off his balcony in northern Greece. On Wednesday, a 23-year-old student shot himself in the head.

In a country that has had one of the lowest suicide rates in the world, a surge in the number of suicides in the wake of an economic crisis has shocked and gripped the Mediterranean nation – and its media – before a May 6 election.

And you know what?

The nightmares that we are seeing unfold in Spain and Greece right now are just a preview of what is coming to most of the rest of the world.

The next wave of the economic crisis will soon envelop the United States, Japan and the rest of Europe.

When it strikes, the pain will be immense.

But it won’t be the end – it will only be just the beginning.

The global financial system is starting to crumble.

You better get ready.


Apr 12

Rape Away The Gay-Cleveland D.J. Tells Father “Get One Of Your Friends To Screw Her Straight”

)  A radio personality in Cleveland is facing tremendous backlash after telling a father that he should get one of his male friends to rape his daughter to force her to turn straight.

In response to an email from a father who suspected his daughter was gay after discovering her kissing another girl, DJ Dominic Deiter declared on the air that “You should get one of your friends to screw your daughter straight.”

You read that correctly. An apparently anti-gay radio personality told a father that he should arrange for his daughter to be raped repeatedly until she magically turns straight.

After the disgusting remark, GLAAD received multiple reports about the incident, which was said during ‘Rover’s Morning Glory’ radio program that airs on WWMS 100.7 FM radio station on Clear Channel Communications, which includes radio shows hosted by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and several other right-wing radio shows. Clear Channel is also owned primarily by Bain Capital, the company that Mitt Romney began and is still involved with.

GLAAD’s Director of News & Field Media Aaron McQuade says “It was appalling and dangerous for this show to tell a father that he should have one of his friends rape his daughter.

That’s essentially how Dieter responded to this listener, and this is no laughing matter in a world where people are too often the victims of violence and sexual assault based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation.

And Dieter gave this vile advice to everyone who was listening, including educators, parents and children – sending the message that it’s okay to physically or sexually abuse people who are perceived to be gay.”

Clearly, this disc jockey needs to be fired immediately for his comment. Advocating for rape to change homosexuals into heterosexuals is egregiously wrong on so many levels. Rape is a violent act against women, and to say that a father should have his own daughter raped for any reason is flat out evil.

If Republicans needed a reason why the Violence Against Women Act and the update to include gays and lesbians should be passed, this is precisely why. Without this Act and the crucial updates, measures would not be in place to prevent the kind of violence Deiter is suggesting be used to curb homosexuality. Furthermore, members of the LGBT are human beings who have rights. Nobody deserves to be raped because of who they are.

Unfortunately, many people heard Deiter’s remark. And undoubtedly, many anti-gay activists may indeed harbor similar feelings. Could they switch their strategy from ‘pray away the gay’ to ‘rape away the gay’? I wonder how many of these anti-gay activists will be courageous enough to condemn Deiter’s response. Probably none of them.


Apr 12

Pirate Party Taking Prisoners In German Parliament

(Juergen  Baetz)  Pirates are capturing Germany’s political system.  The party with the outlaw name started as a marginal club of computer nerds and hackers demanding online freedom, but its appeal as an antiestablishment movement has lured many young voters to the ballot boxes, catapulting it into two state parliaments in less than a year.

The all-volunteer Pirates offer little ideology and focus on promoting their flagship policies of near-total transparency and an unrestricted Internet. But polls show them as the country’s third-strongest political force, leapfrogging over more establishedparties.

The tremendous success has doubled the Pirates’ membership to 25,000, but it also has handed them a crucial challenge set to dominate its convention starting Saturday: A party founded as a rebellious upstart must reckon with its new political power and its promise of a voice for all its members.

About 1,500 members gathered in the northern Germany city of Neumuenster to discuss the group’s growth. New polls predicted it would win seats in two more state legislatures in May, with forecasters expecting it to secure about 9 percent of the vote in both states.

“Many vote for the Pirates as a sign of protest. It is not directed against democracy, but it’s based on the unhappiness with the functioning of the established parties,” said Alexander Hensel, a political scientist who studies the Pirates at the Goettingen Institute for Democracy Research.

Analysts say that despite the nation’s robust economy and low unemployment, many Germans are disenchanted with the established parties, fueled by outrage over seeing the government bailing out banks and businesses to save the economy from collapsing in the wake of the financial crisis.

Thousands in Germany took to the streets last year in rallies during the worldwide Occupy movement, but it has now all but fizzled out — with the Pirates appearing to inherit the votes of the disenchanted.

While the mainstream parties in Europe’s biggest economy are struggling to come up with a response to the continent’s debt crisis, the Pirates cheerfully admit they have no answers. Nor do they have a stance on whether German troops should continue to fight in Afghanistan.

But many voters welcome their blunt acknowledgment as a sign of honesty in the political arena. Instead of taking a stand on the pressing issues that more mainstream parties are forced to address, the Pirates speak up against copyright laws, demand free public transportation, and say every citizen should be paid a basic income without having to work.

“The Pirates are elected less because of what they stand for than by disappointment with the established parties and for their unconventional methods,” Hensel said.

The party’s core pledge of transparency and participation — live transmission of all meetings and the online involvement of all party members in its decisions, countless Twitter debates and email chains — is reaching the limit of feasibility as the number of party members has mushroomed.

The question is: Will the Pirates change Germany’s political system, or will the system crack the Pirates?

Hensel said the growing volunteer party will be challenged in its organization and leadership.

Its outgoing managing director, Marina Weisband, 24, collapsed last week between two TV appearances. She was briefly hospitalized, saying she was just heavily overworked. She and other Pirates now advocate having professional party leaders with more say in policy decisions.

But to grassroots Pirates, those calls amount to mutiny.

“The Pirates’ opinion is created by the party members, not dictated by the chairman,” outgoing party leader Sebastian Nerz said. “The individual’s freedom stands at the top.”

Nerz, 28, favored expanding the board from seven to nine members to give it a more professional structure, but wasn’t re-elected Saturday, losing to his deputy, Bernd Schloemer, 41.

Recently the party has been marred by a scandal over how to handle the far-right past of some of its members, with many Pirates refusing to exclude anyone from membership. But on Saturday, party members overwhelmingly approved a motion saying that any effort to deny or minimize the Holocaust would be against the party’s fundamental values, German news agency dapd reported.

Soon the party will need more professional politicians, if pollsters are right: In North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state with 18 million inhabitants, the Pirates can expect to get 9 percent of the vote in mid-May, according to Emnid, which surveyed 1,001 people for Focus magazine this week.

Another poll for public broadcaster ARD published Friday also found the party securing about 9 percent of the vote in Schleswig-Hollstein state’s May 7 election.

Pirate parties are now present in several European countries, but only in Germany have they skyrocketed to such success. In Sweden, where the movement originated, the party won 7 percent of the vote in European Parliament elections in 2009 but less than 1 percent in national elections the next year, making it a marginal party, albeit with a strong voice on cyber issues.

Germany’s political establishment now sees the Pirates as poised to be in four of the country’s 16 state legislatures within a month.

“They are an interesting appearance. And we don’t know yet how that will develop,” conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel told Saturday’s edition of the daily Leipziger Volkszeitung.


Apr 12

Navy Nears Deal To Help Avoid Cal Power Shortages

(AP)   The Navy is nearing a first-time agreement to reduce electricity use at its sprawling San Diego-area bases, if power runs short in Southern California this summer.

The Navy is San Diego Gas & Electric’s largest customer, and the deal is intended to diminish the threat of blackouts while the San Onofre nuclear plant remains offline.

Under the agreement, the Navy would temporarily reduce its energy consumption if supplies get scarce, in exchange for savings on rates. The utility has similar agreements with large industrial customers that can slash demand for power at critical times.

State officials have warned of rotating blackouts this summer in Southern California if a heat wave hits while the ailing reactors remain dark, though activists say adequate reserves are on hand.


Apr 12

Canadian Police Declare Student Protest Illegal

(Mathaba)  Police in Canada declared a students’ mass demonstration illegal, saying they were bringing in the riot squad because projectiles had been thrown at them and they were asking everyone to leave, but students did not obey their orders.

Students say that it appears that the state security forces have been inserting masked agent-provocateurs into the demonstrations to take violent actions so that the police would have an excuse to crack down on the demonstrations which have brought tens of thousands of young Canadians onto the streets.

Québec Solidaire spokespeople Amir Khadir and Françoise David,  showed their support by marching with them.

Frustrated students didn’t show any signs of fatigue or wavering their resolve as they plowed through downtown on a soggy night to denounce the ongoing battle over tuition hikes and demanding their stake in the future. Over 300,000 students have taken part in protest actions and boycotted classes.

Students may not be solving their immediate tuition crisis with their daily demonstrations, but they are thinking of the future and are determined to keep driving home the message about how unhappy they are with the government’s plan to increase tuition fees by $1,625 over five years, and even more unhappy about how attempts at negotiation have recently collapsed.

They also want to know why it is that in Libya, Africa, students could receive free education with handsome allowances to study abroad, and also how it is that students in Cuba study free of charge without incurring any debt.

They point out that capitalist elites dictating to government demand that they start life in debt, in order to perpetually control them, instead ofseeing education as a national asset and investment in the nation’s future.

They say mobilization is their only weapon in their battle to keep tuition fees frozen.

Students were rebuffed yet again by the government dictatorship’s Education Minister Line Beauchamp on Thursday when she rejected their proposal to resume talks with representatives of the controversial CLASSE – Coalition large de l’association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante “Mass Coalition of the Association for a Syndicate Student Solidarity” – at the table as part of the delegation.

An unknown number of students are reported to have been arrested by the forces of the state.

CLASSE, considered the most radical of the major student associations by the government dictatorship, denounced violence carried out during the 10-week-old student strike, but refused to condemn civil disobedience or acts of self-defence.

Quebec student demonstrations have been linked to vandalism. However, it is possible that there are police operatives acting as agent provocateurs of violence in the student crowd toward the demonization of student protests. Indeed, the police had been linked to such activitiesduring the G-20 summit which had been held in Toronto in late-June 2010.

More than 5,000 protesters gathered at Place Émilie-Gamelin at around 8:30 p.m. on Thursday before marching through the streets of downtown Montreal. The demonstration remained calm until protesters reached the intersection of Ste. Catherine and Guy. Demonstrators or agent-provocateurs planted in their midst by state security forces overturned garbage bins, smashed bank windows, and hurled rocks at police cars. Riot police intervened at around 10:30 p.m.

This police contingent then assaulted protesters with concussion grenades and tear gas canisters. The protesters were charged by police at the intersection of Ste. Catherine and Metcalfe. CLASSE has publicly stated that it would not look to negotiate with the Quebec government regarding tuition fee increases unless the dictatorship regime’s Minister of Education Line Beauchamp agreed to discuss tuition freezes.

CLASSE has a long term goal for the abolition of tuition fees altogether, in line with natural law as advocated by The Green Book.

Unlike what subservient media report that Quebec students are simply protesting a significant rise in student tuition fees, the students have much greater demands, including real democracy and not the absence of it, which results in dictatorship of a small elite in power.

The students also seek to defend social contract ideas between government and people as members of communities, as a first step toward democracy.

Quebec students through student groups seek to affirm a culture of economic democracy from further assault by capitalism. CLASSE has been the principle champion of this campaign. The ‘Civil Code’ has been instrumental in fostering a context of social responsibility and economic democracy in Quebec which student protesters and organizers seek to defend and re-affirm.

There have been 160 protests in the 11 weeks since students walked out of classes.

The government dictatorship claims one of the student groups, C.L.A.S.S.E., broke the truce by protesting Tuesday and “condoning violence on its website” and booted it from talks Wednesday. Refusing to condemn self-defence of the masses against state violence, is seen as “condoning violence” by the neo-liberal fascist state.

“You can’t play both sides,” the dictatorship regime’s “Education Minister” Line Beauchamp said. “I regret that this (group) has chosen its camp.”

That prompted two other students groups to walk out in solidarity with C.L.A.S.S.E. leading to the street demonstrations and subsequent riot.

The leader of one student group said the talks are suspended until the banned group is invited back to sit at the table again. Young Canadians with their future ahead of them have seen through the divide-and-rule tactics of capitalist stooges and are not fooled, observers note.


Apr 12

Top 10 Recent Conservative Congressmen

(Mike Holme)  In a time in which both Democrats and Republicans are busy condemning each other as radicals, I think it is true that neither parties know what constitutes radical in the grand scale of US politics. I think this list provides some perspective. The ten listed are based on a study conducted by Professors Howard Rosenthal and Keith Poole, titled “Is John Kerry a Liberal?” which lists all Congressmen, Senators, and Presidents that served from 1937 to 2002, from most liberal to most conservative.


Wes Cooley
(1932- ), Republican, Oregon, 1995-97.


Wes Cooley was elected to Oregon’s 2nd Congressional district in the Republican Revolution of 1994 and proved to be its second most conservative freshman. He stood out as a private property rights activist and an advocate of tort reform but got a distinction in US history that no other has attained.

Cooley is the only Congressman to ever be convicted of lying to voters. He lied in a 1994 voter pamphlet that he served in the Korean War. It is a felony in Oregon to lie on a voter pamphlet. He was fined and sentenced to two years probation. Cooley had other issues with the truth as well. According to the Portland Oregonian, Cooley lied about his residency in central Oregon, lied about his marriage (apparently so his wife could keep collecting widow’s benefits from a previous marriage), lied about having been elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and lied about having a law degree. He decided not to run for reelection in 1996. In 2005, Cooley was convicted of bilking investors of more than $2 million in an internet auction company scheme.


Virgil H. Goode Jr.
(1946- ), Republican, Virginia, 1997-2009.

Goode Gives Support To Hurt

At one time a Virginia State Senator who had kicked off his career with support for the Equal Rights Amendment, Virgil Goode went from conservative Democrat to Independent to ultra-conservative Republican. Goode stood out in his advocacy for reducing immigration and building a border fence. He was also critical of Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison taking the oath of office on a Koran rather than a Bible. Goode was defeated for reelection in 2008. He is now running for President as the Constitution Party’s candidate.


Bob Schaffer
(1962- ), Republican, Colorado, 1997-2003.


This three-term Congressman from Colorado did what few Congressmen do – keep their term limits promise. Schaffer’s Congressional term was marked by his intense social conservatism and often taking the lead in conservative one minute debates in Congress. He was also a staunch advocate of democracy in Ukraine, and publicly supported Viktor Yushchenko’s election in 2004. Schaffer ran for the Senate in 2008, but lost by 10 points in what was a terrible election year for Republicans.


William P. Elmer
(1871-1956), Republican, Missouri, 1943-45.


William P. Elmer was a one-hit wonder from Missouri. This Republican’s strong conservatism occasionally resulted in him voting with liberal Democrats for conservative reasons. The greatest example of this was his opposition to the Smith-Connally Act in 1943, which allowed the President to take control of industries vital to national defense in the event of a strike. Elmer was also one of the most extreme isolationists, even going as far as to vote against continuing Lend Lease aid to Britain during World War II. Elmer narrowly lost his bid for reelection in 1944.


Frederick C. Smith
(1884-1956), Republican, Ohio, 1939-51.


Frederick C. Smith was elected to Congress in the anti-Roosevelt backlash of 1938. Smith, an osteopathic doctor, was essentially the Ron Paul of his day. Smith was a staunch opponent of internationalist politics, voted against Lend Lease aid before and during World War II and did not support any foreign aid legislation after the war. Smith was also immovable in his opposition to New Deal programs. Economist Murray Rothbard, an advocate of the Austrian School of Economics, considered Smith to be one of his favorite Congressmen for his adherence to limited government and non-interventionism. However, Smith never achieved the notoriety Ron Paul has and remains an obscure figure in history. Speaker of the House John Boehner currently holds Smith’s old seat in Congress.


Steve Stockman
(1956- ), Republican, Texas, 1995-97.


Steve Stockman was another one-hit wonder Congressman. Hailing from Texas, Stockman had an epic beginning in national politics by defeating 40-year Democratic incumbent Jack Brooks largely due to backlash from the enactment of the Brady Bill. He was the most conservative freshman of the 1994 Republican Revolution and co-sponsored two notable pieces of legislation during his term from 1995 to 1997, the Defense of Marriage Act and Megan’s Law.

Stockman’s term was even more notable for being mired in the bizarre. He penned an article (likely with a lot of influence from the NRA) in Guns & Ammo in which he suggested the Clinton Administration’s 1993 raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, was to justify the Administration’s ban on assault weapons. Only 50 minutes after the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995, his office received a cryptic fax from someone in the militia movement that was turned over to the FBI. His admission of his past as a hobo who had a run-in with the law involving a controlled substance hidden in his underwear did not help his political career. Stockman lost re-election in 1996, and he has since unsuccessfully attempted a number of political comebacks.


Jeff Flake
(1962- ), Republican, Arizona, 2001-present.

Flake Jeff

Jeff Flake is currently serving in Congress and has been notable for his libertarian leaning conservatism. He was one of less than a handful of Congressmen to vote against the Sarbanes-Oxley Act passed in the wake of the Enron scandal. Flake has been widely praised as a principled Congressman and did not hesitate to disagree with Republican leadership and the Bush Administration on matters he viewed as a betrayal of conservatism, such as Medicare Part D. He is also fairly pro-gay rights, a very unusual position for someone so far on the right end of the political scale. Naturally, Flake has been a consistent opponent of President Obama’s policies. He is currently running for the Senate. If he wins, this may make him the most conservative Senator in modern history (Kentucky’s Rand Paul, who was not included in the 1937-2002 conservative-liberal study, may be more conservative).


John G. Schmitz
(1930-2001), Republican, California, 1970-73.


After a stint as a State Senator from Orange County, Schmitz was elected to Congress in 1970. There he became notorious for his sometimes witty quotes, his propensity to offend whenever he opened his mouth, his antisemitism, and his extreme (even by Orange County standards) conservatism. He was one of only seven votes in the House against the ABM Treaty in 1972, opposed sex education, viewed Joseph McCarthy as a hero, and strongly opposed the Equal Rights Amendment before abortion was an issue linked to the Amendment.

The one of his many quotes that really got him in political trouble was when he stated that “I have no objection to President Nixon going to China. I just object to his coming back.” This enraged Nixon, whose official residence was in Schmitz’s district. Nixon recruited Orange County tax assessor Andrew Hinshaw to run against Schmitz in the primary and defeated him. Schmitz, angered at his loss, ran on the Independent Party ticket for the Presidency against Nixon, and lost by “a mere 44 million votes.” However, Schmitz had the last laugh, with Nixon’s resigning in shame over the Watergate scandal and Hinshaw being convicted of accepting bribes as tax assessor.

Schmitz returned to the California State Senate in 1978, but soon got into trouble with his pro-life committee hearings that resulted in a costly feud between him and feminist attorney Gloria Allred. In 1982, Schmitz was hit with the ultimate career breaker for Mr. Family Values, the revelation that he had fathered two children with his German mistress. At around this time, he was also kicked out of the ultra-conservative John Birch Society for being too extreme. Schmitz is also the father of Mary Kay Letourneau, who gained infamy for the statutory rape of one of her students.


Larry McDonald
(1935-1983), Democrat, Georgia, 1975-83.

220Px-Larry Mcdonald

Wait… what? A Democrat at #2! Say it isn’t so! Elected in the aftermath of Watergate, McDonald’s conservatism went far beyond anything average Southern Democrats were willing to support, or for that matter the Republican Party was willing to support.

McDonald was notable for proposing anti-homosexual amendments to legislation, and even attempting to nominate Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s former deputy and convicted Nazi war criminal, for the Nobel Peace Prize on the grounds “that even a Nazi war criminal was a useful asset in the struggle against Communism.”

He was also an adamant opponent of making Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a holiday based on his belief that King collaborated with communists and was manipulated by them.

McDonald’s extremism made him for the most part an isolated figure in Congress and was one of the most ineffective legislators in history. McDonald didn’t view this as a bad thing, just a sign of his commitment against big government. In 1983, he was named the new Chairman of the ultra-conservative John Birch Society.

However, his time as Chairman was short. On September 1, 1983, McDonald was on flight KAL 007, headed to Seoul for a World Anti-Communist League meeting. This flight was shot down by the Soviets for going over Russian airspace.

The Russians were unaware the flight was a civilian airliner. This means that McDonald, a man who idolized Joseph McCarthy, was the only Congressman to have ever been killed by the Soviets. While many had negative things to say about McDonald, one Congressman had something positive to say about him: Ron Paul stated he was the “most principled member of Congress.”


Ron Paul
(1935- ), Republican, Texas, 1976-77, 1979-85, 1997-2013.


Yep… Ron Paul is #1! Some of you may be scratching your heads on this one. Isn’t this the guy who voted against the Patriot Act and the Iraq War? Yes he is! Although these votes may detract from his conservative image, in truth, his votes on so many other matters over-weigh the impact of those votes.

His votes against the Patriot Act and the Iraq War have conservative justifications to them and score him points among the paleo-conservative crowd. Ron Paul’s start in Congress was in a special election for Texas’s 22nd district in 1976. As a new Congressman, Paul was one of the first to support Ronald Reagan for the Republican nomination for President. Paul lost his bid for reelection in 1976 but came back in the 1978 midterm elections.

Paul was critical of the expansion of government as well as the military-industrial complex and has always voted against expansions of federal government power.

Contrary to Paul’s insistence that he was a loyalist to Reagan, he temporarily left the Republican Party in 1988 to run for President on the Libertarian Party ticket and apologized to libertarians for supporting Reagan. Since his failure to gain traction in the 1988 election, he learned it was best to operate within one of the major parties.

Thus he rejoined the Republicans and returned to Congress in 1997. As we all know, Paul is an internet sensation as a man of conviction who supports peace and legalizing marijuana. He is without a doubt the most ideologically consistent and conservative man to have served in Congress since 1937, if not in the entire history of the United States.


Apr 12

U.S. City Shuts Off Your Sewer And Water For Unpaid Red Light Tickets

(The Newspaper)  With more and more vehicle owners simply deciding refuse to pay red light camera and speed camera tickets, private, for-profit companies and municipalities are growing increasingly desperate. America’s second-largest city shut down its photo ticketing program last year largely because residents who could not afford the $500 citations did not pay them. On Monday, Las Cruces, New Mexico announced it would shut off the utilities of city residents who refused to pay Redflex Traffic Systems, the Australian company that owns and operates the cameras.

“The city is notifying offenders by mail that they have until the due date stated in the letter to pay the fines or make satisfactory payment arrangements,” a Las Cruces press release warned. “Failure to comply will result in termination of utilities services.”

Las Cruces claims vehicle owners owe $2 million. To encourage payment of the $100 photo fines, the city says it will employ an ordinance the council adopted in 1988 giving itself the right to shut off utility service to residents declared delinquent for any reason.

“The city may decline, fail or cease to furnish utility service to any person who may be in debt to the city for any reason, except ad valorem taxes and special assessments,” city code Section 28-10 states.

The city provides gas, water, sewer and trash services. Ordinarily, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission prevents shutting off the utilities of low-income residents from November 15 to March 15. This is primarily a safety issue as lack of heating during a cold snap — Las Cruces recorded a -10 degree temperature in 1962 — could endanger the elderly. The commission also protects the seriously ill and customers on Medicaid or on assistance from a charitable organization. A spokesman for the commission, however, told TheNewspaper that no such protections apply to utilities run by a municipality. To have service restored, Las Cruces and its private vendor will charge a $48 re-connection fee on top of $125 per ticket.


Las Cruces gave Redflex approval to issue speeding and red light tickets three years ago. In January, a local university was unable to prove the program delivered a substantial safety benefit. Last year, a majority of voters in Albuquerque voted for the removal of red light cameras.


Apr 12

Top 10 Worst Moments In Human History

(Flame Horse)  So often we publish lists that praise events in human history – tales of victory over diseases, disastrous situations, and the like. But alas, history is also replete with events that we must remember so as to not repeat them, but we wish had never happened.

This list looks at ten of the worst moments in history when man showed that he can act with utter contempt for the rest of man.


Roman-Catholic Sex Abuse


Sexual abuse of the naive and innocent by authority figures is nothing new to human history, but what makes this example of it especially heinous is that it has taken place under the unwatchful eye of the most powerful Christian organization in the world. Child rape and molestation are, in the common view, possibly the vilest, most despicable sin (and felonies) a person can commit, precisely because there can be no excuse for it. Add to that the sin of homosexuality (we speak here in terms of Christianity), and it seems an impossible situation for a child ever to be found in.

Priests ought to understand these sins better than most people, and in Roman-Catholic cultures all over the world, parents highly revere priests as authority figures, second fathers to their children, and excellent teachers of morality. Hence, the question everyone has asked, “How in God’s name could this have happened?”

It’s not just a matter of well kept personal secrets among the guilty parties. The Catholic Church held meetings in the 1950s concerning sexual abuse of minors by priests, and yet, apparently nothing was done to prevent the growing disaster. Those people known to have a history of committing sexual abuse against others were knowingly ordained and sent to priestly duties all over the world, not just in the United States, but in England, Ireland, Canada, Belgium, the Philippines, and many other nations.

The scandal didn’t hit the mainstream media until the 1980s, raising suspicion of Papal cover-ups to protect the image of Christianity. Fortunately, Christianity’s image has not suffered a fraction of the fall-out that the Catholic hierarchy has. Christ will never be torn down because of man’s sin, or it would certainly have happened by now. The priests are, as of this list, still being hunted down, investigated, and dealt with according to man’s law. God’s law will deal with the guilt of every sinner involved, if you believe in Him, but in the meantime, the Roman-Catholic denomination of the man many hold as the absolute greatest good in history has suffered severe damage to its reputation. Whether it is irreparable depends on how long a consecutive series of superlative Popes the Catholic Church can elect, beginning with John Paul II.


Great Chinese Famine

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From 1958 to 1962, China experienced a monumental famine that killed at least 45 million people. There are generally two causes blamed for it: natural disasters and the communist policies of Mao Zedong. Chairman Mao defined this period of his rule as the “Great Leap Forward,” and implemented economic and social changes with epic consequences. This entry is quite similar to #6 and #3.

Mao intended to turn China from an agrarian economy into a modern, urbanized, industrial giant on par with the U. S. But forcing his Great Leap Forward on the Chinese countryside led to nationwide crop shortages. Then the Yellow River flooded in 1959, drowning or starving 2 million. The next year, 60% of China’s farmland received no rain at all.

Mao’s idea of forcing farmers into industrial careers further destroyed the harvests. The famine became so intolerable that in some areas, people resorted to canniablism. Millions were tortured to death for the crime of stealing food to feed their families. One man, Liu Desheng, was found to have stolen a sweet potato, and he and his wife and son were urinated on, then forced to eat large gulps of human feces. They both died within weeks.

Mao and his officers meanwhile dined on $1,000 French meals and 20 year-old Scotch whisky. Mao is on record as having told his officers that there would be many deaths due to his Great Leap Forward, but that in the end, they would serve a greater good. The famine only ended when the weather improved in 1962. 5% of China starved to death, drowned, or were murdered.


Forced Extinction of Species


Ecologists agree that Earth appears to be experiencing a mass extinction at present. These have happened many times in the past. The extinction of the dinosaurs is believed to have been caused most directly by a comet or asteroid impact. That event was nothing compared to the Permian-Triassic extinction, which may have been caused by a Gamma Ray Burst. That event resulted in 96% of all marine life and 70% of all land life dying.

What has happened to plant and animal species while modern man has been on Earth pales in the shadow of these two events, and yet humanity in general is doing terribly little to maintain critically endangered species. Most humans seem to adore “cuddly” animals. Anything with fur qualifies, and we have many tastes in what animals are beautiful. The tiger is magnificent. In 2005 there were only 250 breeding Siberian tigers in the Russian wild. There are well over 10,000 in captive breeding programs around the world: some people are trying to save species from extinction, while many others willfully poach those endangered animals for the black market.

Tiger penis is considered the ultimate aphrodisiac in some places in China. These magnificent animals are being killed, illegally and at extreme personal risk, for money and sexual gratification. In 2011, the Western Black Rhinoceros was declared officially extinct. They, like so many other gigantic African marvels, had been hunted coldly, and unsympathetically, by humans out for a cheap thrill and what they thought was sport and danger.

Black rhinoceroses are extremely aggressive and have terrible eyesight. They will charge headfirst into trees and termite mounds, thinking they see a territorial challenger. Males weigh an easy 3,000 pounds. The record is 6,380 pounds. There are only about 4,000 left in the African wild as of this list. The reason is two-fold: in 1900 there were several hundred thousand in Africa, but English “hunters” toured Africa to shoot down the Big Five: elephants, rhinoceroses, cape buffaloes, lions, and leopards.

This lister goes hunting now and then for deer, squirrels, rabbits, and doves, and these animals are very bountiful and fairly difficult to outwit in the wild. The hunter must also be a good marksman. But in Africa, elephants and rhinoceroses are too gargantuan to have natural predators except the very occasional lion. So they stand still or charge in the presence of humans. There’s no “hunting” involved. You can drive up to either species in a jeep in the middle of day and take pictures.

And armed with a .700 Nitro Express, which propels a 1000 grain solid bronze bullet at 8900 foot-pounds of force, there’s no skill involved. Some people just enjoy killing these magnificent animals for the empowerment it seems to instill. Also, rhinoceros horns are highly sought after in Chinese “medicine” for their ability to cure disease and impotence, neither of which the horn can do. It is made of pure keratin, and so are your fingernails. Keratin comes from the Greek κέρατος, which means “of the horn.”

There are anywhere from 470,000 to 690,000 African Bush Elephants left in the wild, and they are protected from poachers, but not well. They are poached for their ivory tusks, regardless of the international illegality of buying or selling them. Gorillas are poached for their hands, which are used as ashtrays. Then, of course, there is severe habitat destruction in virtually every ecosystem on the planet, so we can have our diamonds and gold, and build colossal megalopolis.


Fanatical Terrorism


Splinter-cell terrorism refers to acts of terror, especially bombings, hijackings, and assassinations, committed by agents of organizations operating all over the world free of direct link to any organization. It is the ultimate example of guerrilla warfare, and as the world has seen in the past 20 years or so, huge, powerful, technologically advanced militaries have extreme difficulty stopping these criminals.

Splinter-cell terrorists are responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks against the United States of America. Before that, the U. S. remained generally aloof to the global war of attrition being waged against these fanatics (lunatics). U. S. embassies were bombed in Africa in 1998, the USS Cole in 2000, and all the while, efforts were underway to find the leader of the primary aggressor against global civilization, al-Qaeda. That leader, Osama bin Laden, could not be found, until after 9/11, when the U. S. began hunting him down in earnest. It took a decade to catch him. In the meantime, other fanatics the world over were perpetrating atrocity after atrocity against innocent, unarmed civilians of dozens of countries, for the avowed purpose of eradicating Jews and Christians from Earth. Stopping each of these terrorists once they make their presence known can never put an end to the problem.

Islamic terrorists are not the only culprits, as Theodore Kaczynski and Timothy McVeigh prove. It is impossible to make these fanatics respect any military might, since to begin with, they are not afraid to die in the process of killing others. How civilized humanity can put a total end to this terrorism is still debatable, of course. Whether it even can be stopped is also debatable.


Khmer Rouge Regime

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The Khmer Rouge were members of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, and during their 4-year reign of terror, from 1975 to 1979, they completely destroyed Cambodia, economically, politically, and demographically. They took advantage of the chaos following the Vietnam War to overthrow the Republican government and set up what their leader, Saloth Sar, who named himself Pol Pot, called “agrarian socialism.” It was, in reality, a forced relocation of every single Cambodian citizen from cities to farms where they were forced to farm regardless of skill or health. They were starved to death, beaten to death, overworked to death, and tortured to death.

Anyone deemed “intellectual” was immediately murdered to protect the regime. Anyone wearing glasses was deemed intellectual. These people were taken out into “killing fields” and hacked to pieces with machetes. Every single book that could be found was burned, as was all money. All banks and even hospitals were shut down. The citizens were no longer given more than two bowls of rice soup per day. All religion was banned, and those adhering to any religion were prime targets for murder, including Buddhists, Christians, and Muslims, anyone educated in western universities, and any ethnicity other than Cambodian.

The most notorious details of this sorry moment in human history come from S-21, now the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. It was a high school before it was taken over. The Khmer Rouge guards forced the prisoners to eat the guards’ feces. The prisoners were forbidden from drinking water without permission, and if they did, they were beaten sometimes to death. They were water boarded, raped, their teeth and genitals electrocuted, bled to death, drowned, and castrated with pliers.

The death toll of this regime cannot be accurately calculated, because records were rarely kept well. The most reliable estimate is 2.5 to 3 million murdered. That was 21% of Cambodia’s population. Pol Pot died on 15 April 1998 of what was claimed to be heart failure. He might have been poisoned, or committed suicide, since he was about to be arrested for his crimes.


World War One

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One of only two wars to make this list, this one does because of the hideous speed at which hostilities escalated in 1914, and because there is no single villain to blame. Humanity in general is to blame for this one. In retrospect, it appears as if every country in Europe was harboring a festering hatred for one another, and everyone was looking for an excuse to invade. The act that touched it off was the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria-Este, by Gavrilo Princip, whose motive was no more complicated than a desire to prove his bravery to the Serbian army, which had rejected him for being too small and weak.

Almost every nation in Europe had a treaty with another nation, and these treaties all said the same thing: if anyone attacks you, we’ve got your back. Austro-Hungary declared war on Serbia, which prompted Russia to declare war on Austro-Hungary, which prompted Germany and Italy to declare war on Russia, which prompted the United Kingdom and France to declare war on Germany and Italy. Spain and, of course, Switzerland stayed out of it.

The United States stayed out of it until Germany waged total war on international unarmed merchant ships, particularly Lusitania, and because of the Zimmermann Telegram which Germany sent to Mexico, urging it to declare war on the U. S. The British intercepted this memo, but Mexico, to its credit, did not dare attack the U. S.


We can all agree that war is the epitome of human stupidity, and as wars go, WWI may be insurmountable in exemplary idiocy. War theory, if we may call it that, had progressed in terms of modern defense, but not attack: both sides were armed with more or less the very same weaponry, especially the Maxim machine gun, the first truly modern machine gun. It is belt-fed, fires the .303 British, the 8mm Mauser, or the 7.62 NATO, at a rate of 450 to 500 rounds per minute, sufficient to cut men in half, which is precisely what it did tens of thousands of times for 4 years.

The British, French, Germans, Russians, and Americans all had them, and for the first 2 and a half years, the trench warfare involved one side charging out across 100 to 1000 yards of no-man’s land, through shell craters, barbed wire, mud and mines, right into the waiting machine gun lines of the enemy trenches. Each time one side was beaten back with severe losses, the other side thought there would be a weakness and charged after them, right into waiting machine gun lines. Kaiser Wilhelm sent a telegram in late 1914 to his cousin, Tsar Nicholas II, that read, in Russian, “Nicky, how can we stop this?”

On the first day of the Battle of the Somme River, 1 July 1916, the middle day of the middle year of the Great War, as it was called before 1939, the British conducted the European Slow March, walking, not running, toward the Germans, on the theory that the slower they advanced, the more difficult they would be to hit, and more fearsome they would be to the enemy. After 12 hours, 19,240 British soldiers lay dead in about 25 square miles. This was the most lethal day in the British military’s history.

The Somme was begun in an attempt to draw men of both sides away from the Battle of Verdun, so a decision there could be attained. Instead, the Somme became an even larger battle in scale, and it and Verdun remain the most epic of the War. 698,000 men died at Verdun, 70,000 per month for 10 months. Over 300,000 died at the Somme. Each battle resulted in over 1 million casualties, the debut of the modern flamethrower at Verdun, and the tank at the Somme.

The Germans opened hostilities at Verdun with a 10-hour cannonade of 808 artillery pieces, firing almost 1 million shells, some as wide as steering wheels. Around the French fortifications, the blackened skeletons of trees were festooned with human and horse intestines. The Germans also used ample supplies of mustard gas in both battles. Mustard gas is essentially aerosol hydrochloric acid. One breath of it can kill a man by internal drowning. It also severely burns and blisters skin and blinds eyes.

Both battles ended in utter stalemate, because mobility had not progressed on par with firepower, and that lack of mobility, especially on the first day of the Somme, displayed more directly than any other action in any war the utter futility and insanity of warfare. Neither side could approach the other, but the Germans found their losses more irreplaceable than the combined French and British. When the Americans showed up, the Germans simply could not cope with the overwhelming enemy men and materiel for much longer. About 15 million, military and civilian, died, unless we include deaths from Spanish influenza, which was itself a direct result of the War. That puts the estimate at about 65 million.


The Black Death

Black Death

There is no one cause to blame for the Bubonic plague’s rise to power in 1346 or so, but Europe in general can be criticized strongly for its primitive belief in witches. Because “witches” were hunted down wholesale by reason of an insufferably pervasive fear of the Devil, domestic and feral cats were also killed by the hundreds of thousands, because they were thought to be witches’ “familiars,” that without one, a witch could not adequately cast spells.

So once witch-hunts showed up in full swing and cats started disappearing into the fires, the entire European world was ripe for an epidemic of rats. And the rats showed up in full swing in 1346 in the Crimea, via the Silk Road from China. There were no cats to check the rats stowing away onboard merchant ships, and these rats were infested with fleas. The fleas carried yersinia pests, better known as plague.

Today, this bacteria has been all but eradicated in most places around the world, because cleanliness is next to Godliness. A regular hot bath with soap will rid you of fleas, but such baths were not regular in the Middle Ages. Once bitten by an infected flea, curing yourself is really not difficult at all. Streptomycin prevents the bacteria from replicating, which gives the immune system enough time to tailor an antibody to kill it. Europe didn’t know about antibiotics, and had they, they might have had fair results by eating moldy bread.

Without treatment, plague is one of only three known diseases with a mortality rate of 100%. The other two are rabies encephalitis and HIV. Given the primitive medical knowledge of the Middle Ages, the world didn’t have a chance. Even the best physicians had no clue what to do to protect themselves, much less the populace.

Doctors entered homes only after donning full-body leather armor, helmets and masks shaped like hawk beaks, filled with aromatic herbs, due to the miasmatic theory of diseases. According to this theory, simply “stirring up the vapors” would cure the area of plague, while the doctor would remain safe breathing in his mask. The masks had red glass over the eyeholes, because even looking at an infected person was thought to cause infection.

Ringing bells was thought to stir up the vapors. Or the sick person could stand next to a latrine and inhale the stench. About the only method that actually worked to a small degree was smoking tobacco, because the smoke kept the fleas away. But the most infamous methods for curing the plague were based on the principle that God was very angry with the whole world.

The Flagellants began roaming the countryside by 1349, especially in Germany, and they beat themselves bloody with Roman-style flails, the same kind used to scourge Christ. The idea was that if they suffered enough, God would relent and the plague would stop. It didn’t work.

So, like clockwork, God’s wrath was blamed on the non-Christians throughout Europe, and that mostly meant Jews. In February of 1349, 2,000 Jews were hacked to pieces and burned at the stake in Strasbourg, on the French-German border. But the plague kept coming. It killed 40% of Egypt, 30% of the Middle East, about half of the 100,000 people in Paris. The worst hit area was Mediterranean Europe, including Italy, Spain, and southern France. There, about 75% to 80% died. The Pope, Clement VI, survived by surrounding his throne 24 hours a day with torches burning close to the floor. In the aftermath, his servants found scorched fleas “like pepper” just outside the ring of flame.

England suffered about 20% dead. The total average was about 25% of the whole world, as evidence indicates plague deaths in sub-Saharan Africa, India, and the Orient. As much as 66% of Europe and Asia succumbed. Approximately 100,000,000 people died in 4 years.


The Holodomor

Children Affected By Famine In Berdyansk, Ukraine - 1922

Holodomor is the Ukrainian word for “killing by hunger.” It is now the proper term for Josef Stalin’s forced starvation genocide against the Ukraine from 1932 to 1933. The manner by which Stalin forced it on the Ukrainian people is open for discussion, but most historians agree that he knew what was happening in the Ukraine and refused to provide relief of any kind, even ordering food shipments diverted from the Ukraine and what food its population had confiscated, violently whenever necessary. He imposed this particularly cruel death sentence on so many solely out of retaliation for the Ukraine striving for national recognition and independence.

Today, we refer to it as a country, Ukraine, with Kiev as its capital city. But at that time, it was still referred to as “the Ukrainian SSR,” or simply, “the Ukraine,” one of many areas of Russia. The famine was manmade, an imposition directly from Stalin, but whether he premeditated it beforehand is difficult to determine. Most of Russia was experiencing a famine at that time, and Stalin may have seen this a chance to make the Holodomor look, at best, like an accident, at worst, passive justice.

The numbers are the saddest testimony overall in every one of these entries. Records were not well kept during the famine, so the death toll ranges from 1.8 to 12 million. Some scholars have narrowed this down to about 4 to 5 million. The borders were closed by the NKVD, the precursor to the KGB, and anyone attempting to flee to other countries or Russian states was either shot or captured and brought back to starve. 190,000 tried to escape the Ukraine after the first year. Starvation may be the most awful cause of death. The commoners’ despair, agony, and terror led tens of thousands to resort to eating their own children. Many ate their own feet. It did not end until Stalin’s implementation of forced collectivization of grain threatened to destroy all of Russia, not just the Ukraine. Once the police and military stopped stealing everyone’s grain, farmers were able to grow for small communities, as they always had.


World War Two


This war can be blamed mostly on one man, Adolf Hitler. Let us take a brief look at the motives by which he initiated global hostilities in 1939. Whereas, Stalin was patently paranoid that he would lose his power, Hitler was not afraid. He simply carried a fuming rage which, in childhood, he directed against nothing in particular.

He was imprisoned for his failed Beer Hall Putsch, an attempt to overthrow the Kaiser government, in 1923. While serving 8 months, he and Rudolf Hess wrote Mein Kampf, in which Hitler blamed absolutely everything bad that had ever happened to Germany on the Jews, all of them everywhere on Earth. Whether he actually believed this is open to debate, but there is no denying that he saw in Jews an outstanding scapegoat, one against which all non-Jewish Germans would rally.

It worked better than he could possibly have imagined. He emerged from prison a national hero and 10 years later took control of the government. What followed was a nationwide brainwashing: everyone began hating Jews intensely. Many of the Jews saw the trouble coming and left for England or America. Most stayed, hoping they would be saved. They weren’t, until it was too late.

6 years later, Hitler made good on his promise to acquire “lebensraum” for the German people, by invading Poland. Britain and France immediately declared war on Germany. Russia made a pact with Germany because Stalin knew he could not conquer Germany at that time. Hitler bided his time before invading Russia 2 years later, in the knowledge that Russia’s military was woefully inadequate. Japan invaded China for its resources, and in September 1940 Japan, Italy, and Germany became the formal Axis Powers, solely because they understood their identical desires to conquer other countries.

Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in retaliation for the U. S. embargo on oil, iron, and machinery. The U. S. then declared war on Japan, and there were declarations of war all around. Oh, what a merry world it became so quickly. After 6 years, 71 million people were dead. Rome, Paris, Moscow, Leningrad, and London were smoldering. Dresden, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Stalingrad, and Manila were obliterated.

The most infamous aspect of the War will forever remain the Holocaust. It is also referred to as HaShoah, which is Hebrew for “The Catastrophe.” Much has been said about it already on Listverse, so let us briefly examine Hitler’s methods, by which he remorselessly and unsympathetically attempted to eradicate an entire race of humans.

His seething, abiding rage found in Jews the perfect target, and he set about in his political ambitions, surrounding himself with men who agreed, some for power, some out of rage or delight, all out of hatred, that the Jews as a race needed to, and could, be extinguished. The Wehrmacht, for its part, had nothing at all to do with the Holocaust, and had very little idea it was going on. They were an honorable institution, if honor, just as compassion, can be found in war.

The Schutzstaffel, or SS, carried out the murder of 6 million men, women, and children, by poisonous gas, shooting, beating, torturing, “scientific” experiments, systematic starvation, and overwork, on the pretense that “Aryans” were superior humans, and that Jews were no better than cattle, in which terms, the question was asked, “Do we feel bad when we slaughter cows for food?”

1.1 million were murdered at Auschwitz, 700,000 to 800,000 at Treblinka, 600,000 at Belzec, 360,000 at Majdanek, 320,000 at Chelmno, 250,000 at Sobibor. Merely because they were Jewish. Meawhile, at least 750,000 soldiers and civilians died in 199 days in Stalingrad. That was only one battle of the War.


The Crusades


Whereas, Stalin never offered any political explanation for, nor a formal admission of, attempting to starve all of Ukraine, and Hitler explained the Holocaust as “a necessary step” in the process of purifying and strengthening the “master race,” the Crusades were undertaken by both the Christians and the Muslims for the openly expressed purpose of exterminating the opposing religion along with all its adherents, solely to glorify God. It remains the blackest moment in the history of all religion.

It lasted from c. 1063 until c. 1434, when handheld gunpowder weapons were first used to good effect in combat. Keep in mind, before you denounce God for allowing or causing it to happen, that doing so is foolishly dismissive. Assuming there is a God, the Crusades were not his fault. They remain humanity’s fault by two causes: first, the refusal to tolerate differences; and second, the active enjoyment derived from hurting things, especially other humans, since they can best voice their disapproval of such actions.

The use of the word “God” in any language to justify one’s actions of violence is but a means to an end, and also sweetens the enjoyment of another person’s pain, since by denouncing that person as an infidel, the malicious party can believe that person is also destined for eternal agony, after the agony s/he is forced to suffer on Earth. Sounds appetizing, doesn’t it? Because we all get angry at other people for various perceived offenses, deep down doesn’t it sound appetizing to believe those people are going to Hell, regardless of how much they suffer in life? No one would ever admit to it, of course, but it’s a primitive passion innate in every human, and precisely the heart of the Crusades.

In 1099, the 1st Crusade ended in “Christian” victory, when knights and soldiers from France, England, Germany, and Apulia (southern Italy) successfully besieged Jerusalem from 7 June to 15 July. They were opposed by the Islamic Fatimid Caliphate of Egypt, under Iftikhar ad-Dawla, who had 400 cavalrymen and a garrison of Muslim and Nubian troops comparable in size to the invaders, about 13,000 for each side. Inside the city there lived over 60,000 unarmed civilians, mostly Muslims and Jews.

Once the city fell, the invaders stormed in, ransacked every building and murdered every single man, woman, and child within the walls. 70,000 people were hacked to pieces “in the name of Christ.” The horses waded in blood up to their knees. Probably half the women were raped, and most of everyone was tortured by varying methods. It was unbridled, bacchanalian sadism. About 500 Jews fought alongside the Muslims, then took refuge in a synagogue. The French burned the synagogue to the ground, with everyone in it.

88 years later, Salah ad-Din successfully took Jerusalem back for Islam and allowed all those inside to return unharmed to their homelands provided they paid a ransom. Those who could not afford it were sold into slavery. Two years later, Richard I of England (the Lionheart) arrived with Phillip II of France and Frederick I of Germany. Richard was not the chivalrous hero he is frequently depicted as in films. He spent barely 6 months of his 10-year regency in England. He lived in France, spoke only Langues d’Oil and Langues d’Oc, two dialects of Old French, did not speak any form of English, and used England as a money machine to finance his conquests. He loved the sport and glory of overpowering other nations. His Crusade, the 3rd, ended in an uneasy stalemate.

There would be 6 more Crusades, with the Holy Land changing hands several times, costing hundreds of thousands of lives, all in the name of one god or another. All the while, both bibles stated, “Love your enemies.”


Apr 12

Video Highlights Of The White House Correspondents’ Dinner 2012

(R.C.P.)  President Obama jokes about eating dogs, the GOP primary and himself at the 2012 White House Correspondents’ Dinner on Saturday, April 28, 2012. Some of Obama’s funnier lines are below.

Obama: “My mother was born in Kansas, my father was born in Kenya, and I was born, of course, in Hawaii.”

Obama: “Four years ago, I was locked in a brutal primary battle with Hillary Clinton. Four years later, she won’t stop drunk-texting me from Cartagena.”

Obama: “What is the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? A pit bull is delicious.”

Obama: “That is pretty rough, but I cannot take it, because my step-father always told me it is a boy-eat-dog world out there.”

Obama on Romney: “We both have degrees from Harvard. I have one, he has two. What a snob.”


Full Transcript Of Obama

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Good evening, everybody. Good evening. I could not be more thrilled to be here tonight — (laughter) — at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. This is great crowd. They’re already laughing. It’s terrific.

Chuck Todd — love you, brother. (Laughter.) I’m delighted to see some of the cast members of Glee are here. (Laughter.) And Jimmy Kimmel, it’s an honor, man. (Laughter.) What’s so funny?

My fellow Americans, we gather during a historic anniversary. Last year at this time — in fact, on this very weekend — we finally delivered justice to one of the world’s most notorious individuals. (Applause.) Now, this year, we gather in the midst of a heated election season. And Axelrod tells me I should never miss a chance to reintroduce myself to the American people. So tonight, this is how I’d like to begin: My name is Barack Obama. My mother was born in Kansas. My father was born in Kenya. And I was born, of course, in Hawaii. (Laughter and applause.)

In 2009, I took office in the face of some enormous challenges. Now, some have said I blame too many problems on my predecessor, but let’s not forget that’s a practice that was initiated by George W. Bush. (Laughter.) Since then, Congress and I have certainly had our differences; yet, I’ve tried to be civil, to not take any cheap shots. And that’s why I want to especially thank all the members who took a break from their exhausting schedule of not passing any laws to be here tonight. (Laughter.) Let’s give them a big round of applause. (Applause.)

Despite many obstacles, much has changed during my time in office. Four years ago, I was locked in a brutal primary battle with Hillary Clinton. Four years later, she won’t stop drunk-texting me from Cartagena. (Laughter.)

Four years ago, I was a Washington outsider. Four years later, I’m at this dinner. Four years ago, I looked like this. Today, I look like this. (Laughter.) And four years from now, I will look like this. (Laughter and applause.) That’s not even funny. (Laughter.)

Anyway, it’s great to be here this evening in the vast, magnificent Hilton ballroom — or what Mitt Romney would call a little fixer-upper. (Laughter and applause.) I mean, look at this party. We’ve got men in tuxes, women in gowns, fine wine, first-class entertainment. I was just relieved to learn this was not a GSA conference. (Laughter.) Unbelievable. Not even the mind reader knew what they were thinking. (Laughter.)

Of course, the White House Correspondents’ Dinner is known as the prom of Washington D.C. — a term coined by political reporters who clearly never had the chance to go to an actual prom. (Laughter.)

Our chaperone for the evening is Jimmy Kimmel — (applause) — who is perfect for the job since most of tonight’s audience is in his key demographic — people who fall asleep during Nightline. (Laughter.) Jimmy got his start years ago on The Man Show. In Washington, that’s what we call a congressional hearing on contraception. (Laughter and applause.)

And plenty of journalists are here tonight. I’d be remiss if I didn’t congratulate the Huffington Post on their Pulitzer Prize. (Applause.) You deserve it, Arianna. There’s no one else out there linking to the kinds of hard-hitting journalism that HuffPo is linking to every single day. (Laughter and applause.) Give them a round of applause. And you don’t pay them — it’s a great business model. (Laughter.)

Even Sarah Palin is getting back into the game, guest hosting on The Today Show — which reminds me of an old saying: What’s the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? A pit bull is delicious. (Laughter and applause.) A little soy sauce. (Laughter.)

Now, I know at this point many of you are expecting me to go after my likely opponent, Newt Gingrich. (Laughter.) Newt, there’s still time, man. (Laughter.) But I’m not going to do that — I’m not going to attack any of the Republican candidates. Take Mitt Romney — he and I actually have a lot in common. We both think of our wives as our better halves, and polls show, to a alarmingly insulting extent, the American people agree. (Laughter.) We also both have degrees from Harvard; I have one, he has two. What a snob. (Laughter and applause.)

Of course, we’ve also had our differences. Recently, his campaign criticized me for slow jamming the news with Jimmy Fallon. In fact, I understand Governor Romney was so incensed he asked his staff if he could get some equal time on The Merv Griffin Show. (Laughter.) Still, I guess Governor Romney is feeling pretty good about things because he took a few hours off the other day to see The Hunger Games — some of you have seen it. It’s a movie about people who court wealthy sponsors and then brutally savage each other until only one contestant is left standing. I’m sure this was a really good change of pace for him. (Laughter.) I have not seen The Hunger Games; not enough class warfare for me. (Laughter.)

Of course, I know everybody is predicting a nasty election, and thankfully, we’ve all agreed that families are off limits. Dogs, however, are apparently fair game. (Laughter.) And while both campaigns have had some fun with this, the other day I saw a new ad from one of these outside groups that, frankly, I think crossed the line. I know Governor Romney says he has no control over what his super PACs do, but can we show the ad real quick? (Video is played.) (Applause.)

That’s pretty rough — (laughter) — but I can take it, because my stepfather always told me, it’s a boy-eat-dog world out there. (Laughter.)

Now, if I do win a second term as President, let me just say something to all the — (applause) — let me just say something to all my conspiracy-oriented friends on the right who think I’m planning to unleash some secret agenda: You’re absolutely right. (Laughter.) So allow me to close with a quick preview of the secret agenda you can expect in a second Obama administration.

In my first term, I sang Al Green; in my second term, I’m going with Young Jeezy. (Laughter.)


THE PRESIDENT: Michelle said, yeah. (Laughter.) I sing that to her sometimes. (Laughter.)

In my first term, we ended the war in Iraq; in my second term, I will win the war on Christmas. (Laughter.) In my first term, we repealed the policy known as “don’t ask, don’t tell” — (applause) — wait, though; in my second term, we will replace it with a policy known as, it’s raining men. (Laughter.) In my first term, we passed health care reform; in my second term, I guess I’ll pass it again. (Applause.)

I do want to end tonight on a slightly more serious note — whoever takes the oath of office next January will face some great challenges, but he will also inherit traditions that make us greater than the challenges we face. And one of those traditions is represented here tonight: a free press that isn’t afraid to ask questions, to examine and to criticize. And in service of that mission, all of you make sacrifices.

Tonight, we remember journalists such as Anthony Shadid and Marie Colvin — (applause) — who made the ultimate sacrifice as they sought to shine a light on some of the most important stories of our time. So whether you are a blogger or a broadcaster, whether you take on powerful interests here at home or put yourself in harm’s way overseas, I have the greatest respect and admiration for what you do. I know sometimes you like to give me a hard time — and I certainly like to return the favor — (laughter) — but I never forget that our country depends on you. You help protect our freedom, our democracy, and our way of life.

And just to set the record straight, I really do enjoy attending these dinners. In fact, I had a lot more material prepared, but I have to get the Secret Service home in time for their new curfew. (Laughter.)

Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you. (Applause.)

Apr 12

13 Year Old Put On Sex Offender List

(John Woods)  Jamie was ten years old when he saw his first pornographic sex scene. During a sleepover, a classmate offered to show him ‘some funny pictures’ on his laptop.

‘At first I found it a bit scary and a bit yucky,’ Jamie told me as he shifted uncomfortably on his chair during our therapy session.

‘I didn’t know it was possible for people to do those sort of things — and there were lots of nasty close-ups. But it gave me funny feelings and the pictures started to stick in my head.’

For the next three years, while his parents assumed he was using his computer for his homework, Jamie visited porn websites for up to two hours a night.

Even when his school performance began to suffer, they had no idea of the murky world their shy, quiet son was inhabiting while upstairs in his bedroom.

While it’s not his real name, Jamie is typical of the young men I meet. He explained: ‘The websites led me to other websites and soon I was looking at even weirder stuff I could never have imagined — animals, children, stabbing and strangling.

‘I stopped leaving my room and seeing my friends because when I was away from the pornography, I was dying to get back to see what else I could find.’

 And it was only when the police came knocking one morning that Jamie’s secret life was exposed.

After identifying that someone in the house was accessing child porn, they took Jamie’s laptop away for examination.  Jamie is only 13 — and he still hasn’t even kissed a girl, let alone had sex.

Though he is only a child himself, the result is that he has been put on the Sex Offender Register, blighting his life for the foreseeable future.

Even with intensive therapy, Jamie still suffers from deep shame — ‘as if it is written across my forehead’ — which has led him to fear he will never be able to form a healthy relationship with a woman.

Unhealthy habit: But Google executive Naomi Gummer claimed the extent of youngsters' exposure to internet porn had been exaggeratedUnhealthy habit: Jamie is only 13 and is a porn addict. There are many teenagers like him (file photo)

As he told me at a recent session: ‘It still makes me think I might never have a proper girlfriend — because the pictures still come back to me sometimes. It make makes me want to shout, “Stop, stop.” But sometimes they still won’t go away.’

Jamie’s story is not unique. He is just one of the growing number of young patients referred by social services, youth offender services and police to the Portman Clinic — where I work as a psychotherapist. I would never normally consider speaking out in this way. But after much thought, I have come to the conclusion this is no longer just a private problem. It is a public health problem.

For the past 70 years our services, which are part of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, have been available to anyone who has committed any kind of offence.

But an increasingly large part of our caseload is taken up with young people whose behaviour has become out of control due, largely, to compulsive internet porn use.

This year alone, this has included 50 referrals of children under 18, and that’s just for North London, where we are based.

Yet even though we are one of the very few units in the country dealing with these issues, funding cuts mean mental health services are having to make drastic efficiency savings that significantly reduce our service.Supervised internet use: Boy and father using laptop together

Supervised internet use: Boy and father using laptop together

Our patients are the young people for whom seeing thousands upon thousands of sexually explicit images is still not enough.

I regularly see boys as young as 12 who have convictions for looking at child porn because they did not realise they had crossed the line.

I also treat children who are so frustrated at being unable to live out their fantasies in everyday life — and so confused by the message of endless sexual availability on the web — that they have committed rapes or sexual assaults.

Another example would be Paul, 12. He has been referred to us because his obsessive sexual viewing habits have now spilled into the real world.

At school, he has been repeatedly exposing himself to teachers and other pupils in lessons.

And, at home, his appalled mother has found him walking around the house naked in a constant state of sexual excitement.

Another case is Andrew, aged 13, who was referred to the clinic because he has been abusing his five-year-old half-sister. Due to his two years of constant porn use, he has built up a complex fantasy world — so it was no big step for him to try to involve her.

Our research at the clinic has found that although the internet doesn’t create these problems, it can release interests which would never have surfaced otherwise.

Without virtual pornography, it’s my belief that Andrew would not have acquired his compulsion to abuse, let alone dreamt up the idea of involving his sister.

One of my regular patients, Jude, was referred to me at the age of 18 by social workers who were concerned that years of web porn use had not only made him socially isolated but a danger to others, too.

Safe: The main mobile phone operators implemented the technology to filter most pornographic and other adult-only content eight years agoSafe: The main mobile phone operators implemented the technology to filter most pornographic and other adult-only content eight years ago

When a girl he liked did not return his feelings, he told me: ‘I feel like stabbing her.’ He also threatened to kill himself because he felt he would never be able to have a normal relationship, and admitted he liked ‘seeing women being hurt’.

A particular scenario he enjoyed thinking about was a man grabbing a woman’s throat and punching her in the face.

Chillingly, he had already taken to following women late at night, and maintained he would become more of a risk to them if he was forced to give up watching porn.

All these cases are only the tip of the iceberg. For every young person who has come to the attention of police or social services, there will be tens of thousands more who manage to keep their habit under wraps — but who still face long-term consequences for their mental and emotional health. After all, we are rearing a guinea pig generation — a generation of boys and young men raised in a world where internet porn is freely on offer at any time.

Of course, critics who oppose restrictions will say pornography has always been with us; young boys have always looked at risque magazines.

Yet the advent of the internet — and particularly broadband over the past decade — means that never in human history has such a vast and relentless amount of it been so easily and freely available to all.

‘Our research at the clinic has found that although the internet doesn’t create these problems, it can release interests which would never have surfaced otherwise.’

According to a cross-party parliamentary report, published last week, the scale of the exposure is so vast that four out of five 16-year-olds  regularly access porn online — while one in three ten-year-olds has seen explicit material.

It means any child who has started to feel vaguely curious about sex can tap that same three-letter word into a search engine, and in a split second  have access to thousands of graphic video clips.

As a therapist, I am convinced that these images can be deeply traumatising to children — not least because a competitive market means that pornographers are trying to outdo each other to come up with the most extreme images.

This contest to push the boundaries means that straight intercourse is considered too boring. Images of brutal anal sex and women being humiliated and degraded by two or more men at any one time are the new norms.

For many young boys, this means their first sexual experience is not a nervously negotiated request for a dance from a girl at the end of the school disco. It is watching  grotesquely degrading images of women, all too often mixed in with violent abuse.

But because most parents are so uncomfortable with a child’s developing sexuality, few warn them about porn before they see it — or can face up to the fact they might be watching it. As a result, children don’t know that pornography is fiction and they naturally assume it’s what grown-ups do. Because it’s freely available, they think it must therefore be OK.

But once these brutal images have formed a child’s first sex lesson, in my experience, they can be difficult to erase. The more hardcore the material, the more intense and long-lasting the effects.

Of course, a lot will depend on the particular vulnerability — and developmental stage — of the child. But, inevitably, some of the kids who regularly see such scenes will become conditioned to being aroused by only the most extreme practices at a critical state of their sexual development.

‘The advent of the internet — and particularly broadband over the past decade — means that never in human history has such a vast and relentless amount of pornography been so easily and freely available to all.’

Instead of seeking out meaningful, romantic relationships, voyeurism may also become their substitute.

Many of the boys I treat stop going out and seeing friends, and drop out of school because life seems easier and more gratifying in front of a computer screen.

I have treated patients who can easily spend up to six hours a day compulsively viewing porn.

Research by the Oxford University neuroscientist and former director of the Royal Institution, psychologist Susan Greenfield, has found that intense internet use alters brain chemistry, encouraging instant gratification and making young people more self-centred.

It has also been linked to mental disorders such as autism, attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity, and, once addiction takes hold, young people’s lives can become seriously derailed.

Evidence has found they become more prone to ‘real world’ violence, and less able to emphathise.


What’s more, it is also from porn that boys are forming their views of what women should look like, and how they should behave sexually. I hear young boys routinely refer to girls as ‘bitches’ who need to be dominated.

They bemoan the fact that they can’t go out with ‘real’ girls because they ‘want things’.

In other words, females who exist outside of cyberspace have needs of their own that boys resent having to consider.

But there are also worrying signs that girls’ behaviour is also being affected. Although almost all my patients are young males, one of them is a 15-year-old schoolgirl, who was referred to the clinic after posing for explicit images.

While it is true that children in families with weak parenting and fewer boundaries are more at risk, the therapists at our clinic also see plenty of youngsters from well-off, middle-class families.

In studies, these are the youngsters more likely to have computers in their rooms, who have more advanced skills with which to navigate the internet, and who are most likely to own smartphones — from which internet sex can be easily accessed.

One of my patients, the son of a wealthy businessman, had his A-level year wrecked and only narrowly escaped prison after he felt compulsively drawn to tracking down the most extreme sexual practices he could find.

Again, the family — who had no idea of their son’s activities — received a knock on the door from police who had discovered that child porn images were being accessed by someone in their home. They seized every mobile phone and computer in the house.

With so much pornography use among our children, it may seem astonishing that most parents simply have no idea of what their children are doing.

‘One of my patients, the son of a wealthy businessman, had his A-level year wrecked and only narrowly escaped prison after he felt compulsively drawn to tracking down the most extreme sexual practices he could find.’

Yet most remain in denial, despite the fact that the largest consumer group for internet pornography is  children between 12 and 17.

In my experience, even savvy mums and dads can be terrified of laying a single finger on their child’s computer — for fear of breaking something, ‘messing it up’ or invading their offspring’s privacy.

But the reality is that leaving children to their own devices is no better than letting your child cross the road wearing a blindfold.

In the Seventies and Eighties, parents were urged to ask: ‘Do you know where your child is?’

The urgent question parents should now ask is: ‘Do you know where your child is going online?’ because, in my view, where they wander on the web is potentially more dangerous.

Parents must wake up to the fact that they need to regain their authority — and not be scared of laying down controls.

But it’s never going to be possible to apply filters to every smartphone — or every computer your child uses. This is where the internet service providers must come in.

MP Claire Perry and her parliamentary colleagues want the internet service providers to make porn something you have to opt in for — not something that  is automatically available on  your computer whether you want it or not.

After all, when magazines were the main way for people to access porn, our society never allowed them to be legally sold to minors.

In our culture, drink and cigarettes are also banned from sale to children because we know all too well the harmful effects.

As a therapist, I believe the internet has now been around long enough for us to see the toll that unregulated sexual imagery is having on our children.

Young people may become child-abusers while they are still children themselves.

Boys and young men may come to prefer simulated sexual relationships with porn stars rather than real women.

I have counselled enough damaged children to know that just as our society protects them from booze and smoking by imposing age limits, the time has now come for us to protect them from web pornography, too.

The names of patients in this article have been changed, and their identities disguised.