Monday, March 30, 2009

Fascism in America: Il Duce Fires Head of GM

It's really not funny how politicians who have never run a business and leeched off of others for most if not their entire life are in the position of controlling multi billion dollar industries. What right does he have to do this? Why are we paying for this crap? Why are we putting up with this abuse? How much longer will we remain silent while this state rapes our land!?

General Motors CEO will resign: White House

General Motors Corp. chairman and chief executive Rick Wagoner will step down immediately at the request of the White House, administration officials said Sunday.

The news comes on the eve of U.S. President Barack Obama's unveiling of his plan to reinvigorate the U.S. auto industry.

Obama and other administration officials have said they will demand deeper restructuring from General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC before they get any more government loans.

Both companies are surviving on a total of $17.4 billion US in government aid from Washington.

Appearing on the CBS show Face the Nation in a Sunday broadcast, Obama said the Detroit automakers and all those with a stake in their survival need to take more hard steps to help them restructure for the future and receive additional government aid.

"They're not there yet," he said.

Wagoner's departure indicates that more management changes may be part of the bailout deal. Wagoner has repeatedly said he felt it was better for GM if he led it through the crisis.

Wagoner, 56, joined the company in 1977, serving in several capacities in the United States, Brazil and Europe. He's been CEO since May 1, 2003.

Resignation worries Canadian Auto Workers

The head of the Canadian Auto Workers union said Wagoner's departure, combined with the release of Obama's restructuring plan for the U.S. auto industry, are making Canadian employees extremely nervous about the future.

"That just puts all of us on more pins and needles," Ken Lewenza said. "It leaves us all in this… emotional state of, What happens next?

"I never, ever thought the White House or the Parliament of Canada could manage and operate an automobile company," he said.


Lewenza said Wagoner's departure is unfortunate because he is a "car man" and given the troubles that GM is facing, now is not the best time for a shakeup at head office.

That the White House said it orchestrated Wagoner's departure is also worrying, Lewenza said. "It would reflect a lack of confidence in the business plan of General Motors."

Canadian restructuring plans due Tuesday

GM Canada and Chrysler Canada are supposed to submit finalized restructuring plans, including new labour contracts, to the federal and Ontario governments by March 31 in order to receive the billions in aid they have requested. GM Canada is seeking up to $7 billion in government loans, while Chrysler Canada has asked for about $2.8 billion.

Chrysler and the CAW have been holding talks but remain far apart on a deal on wage concessions, according to Lewenza.

The union reached a deal with GM earlier this month that would cut labour costs by about $7 an hour.

However, Chrysler is demanding more concessions than the union made to GM. Ford of Canada has also called the agreement with GM insufficient for its needs.

Source

Monday, March 23, 2009

Conterfeiter Brazenly Robs From Innocent Bystanders

A chief evil in modern economies is the Central Bank. There is only one main difference between them and criminal counterfeiters: they are legal. They unrepentantly print up money using various contrived reasons to justify it, but the cumulative result is to rob purchasing power from those holding the currency (saving) and giving it to those favored by the state. History is replete with examples of the destruction caused by money managed by the state.

Swiss franc plunges on intervention

The Associated Press
Thursday, March 12, 2009
LONDON: The Swiss franc slumped by a record amount against the euro Thursday after the country's central bank confirmed it was intervening to stem the currency's sharp appreciation due to its status as a safe haven.

In its statement accompanying its latest interest rate reduction, the Swiss National Bank said it would "increase liquidity substantially by engaging in additional repo operations, buying Swiss franc bonds issued by private sector borrowers and purchasing foreign currency on the foreign exchange markets."

Following the announcement and its apparent actual intervention in the markets, the euro shot up over 3 percent from 1.4880 Swiss francs to a high of 1.53.

During the financial crisis over the last three months the Swiss franc has been in demand as investors looked to put their money into what is widely considered to be a safe haven asset.


Simon Derrick, currency strategist at Bank of New York Mellon, said the Swiss National Bank was clearly concerned that its recent hefty interest rate reductions were not keeping the franc from rising. A stronger franc makes life more difficult for the country's hard-pressed exporters.

In its statement alongside the quarter point rate cut, which took the three-month Libor target rate to 0.25 percent, the Swiss National Bank predicted that the country was on course to experience deflation of 0.5 percent in 2009 as a result of the hefty fall in imported goods and services and goods.

It also warned that economic output would fall between 2.5 percent and 3 percent in 2009, with nearly all sectors of the Swiss economy hit hard by the global economic slowdown. Export industries will be particularly affected, it said.

Bank of New York's Mellon said the repercussions of the Swiss National Bank's move in the currency markets were widespread with gold surging and the yen falling.

Gold has risen from $908 an ounce before the announcement to a high of $930 as investors looked for the other major asset considered to be a safe haven.

Meanwhile, the yen has fallen against the dollar as the market speculated that the Bank of Japan, itself concerned by the export-sapping appreciation of the Japanese currency, may be next to intervene in the currency markets.

Derrick said there's a real danger now that "beggar thy neighbor" policies could be enacted around the world as countries look to gain an advantage relative to others by reducing the value of their currencies.

It is widely considered that one of the reasons why the 1930s depression lasted so long was that countries acted independently to protect their own interest by undermining their currencies and that as a result it may come up in discussions, at least on a bilateral level, at this weekend's G-20 meeting of finance ministers and central bankers in southern England.

"I have to suspect that given that this has happened, it will be on the agenda at least away from the main forum as the last thing anyone wants is beggar-thy-neighbor policies," said Derrick.

Christine Lagarde, France's finance minister, has been vocal in her concerns about how Britain is gaining an advantage by doing nothing to stem the sharp fall in the pound against the euro, and has argued that the monetary authorities have been pursued a policy of benign neglect in the hope that it will give Britain an edge in export markets when they recover.

Source

Use of Military During Shooting Investigation Under Review

Each encroachment of state power must be taken seriously. Deployment of professional killers among the civilian population must be greeted with great suspicion.

Army reviews troop use after fatal Ala. shootings
By JAY REEVES – 4 days ago

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — The Army said Wednesday it opened an inquiry into whether federal laws were broken when nearly two dozen soldiers were sent to a south Alabama town after 11 people died in a shooting spree last week.

State officials said the deployment of 22 military police officers and the provost marshal from Fort Rucker was requested neither by Republican Gov. Bob Riley nor the White House, which typically is required by law for soldiers to operate on U.S. soil.

Col. Michael J. Negard of the Army Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Monroe, Va., said officials are trying to determine who ordered the soldiers to Samson, who requested them, why they were sent and what they did there.


"In addition to determining the facts, this inquiry will also consider whether law, regulation and policy were followed," he said. He declined further comment.

Former Samson resident Michael McLendon, 28, fatally shot nine victims in the town and killed a 10th in a neighboring county. The March 10 spree ended when McLendon killed himself, and the soldiers arrived in the hours after.

Investigators said McLendon was despondent over his inability to hold a job and his failure to become a Marine or a police officer.

Riley isn't concerned whether the military overstepped its bounds, said Press Secretary Jeff Emerson.

"From what I understand it was a few folks who came to direct traffic or help where they could," Emerson said. "If it had been more than what it was there might be a reason for concern, but these folks just came to see if they could help and left."

The White House press office did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Reporters and curious citizens poured in after the slayings, overwhelming the town of 2,000 near the Florida state line. Samson is about 35 miles from Fort Rucker, the Army's main helicopter training base.

Samson's tiny police force and county officers were stretched to the limit after the shootings, which left investigators with at least seven different crime scenes to check for evidence.

Samson Mayor Clay King said he did not know why the soldiers showed up in town, but he was glad they did.

"The only function they did was directing traffic. They took drinks and snacks to other people working crime scenes," King said. "I'm proud they were here."

Residents said soldiers from Fort Rucker, a major employer in southeastern Alabama, have a reputation for helping nearby communities in emergencies.

According to a summary by the Congressional Research Service, federal law generally prohibits the armed forces from being used as domestic police. Exceptions include emergencies, when troops can help civilians but don't directly act as police.

The chairman of the Libertarian Party of Alabama, Stephen Gordon, said while many are worried about the use of Army troops in civilian police roles, he doubts there was anything nefarious about the soldiers in Samson.

"There is no apparent harm here, but the principle still needs to be upheld," Gordon said. "The barrier has been lowered for the next time, and we really need to take a look at what happened."

Source

Minimum Wage Causing Kidnapping Wave

What happens when the illegitimate power of the state over the economy is held by the economically illiterate? Unintended consequences.

Honduras Kidnappings on the Increase

SAFETY & SECURITY
Americas - Honduras
6 Mar 2009

Overview

Over the past three years, kidnappings for ransom in Honduras have steadily increased. According to Government of Honduras statistics, kidnappings rose from five in 2005, to 16 in 2006, 42 in 2007, and 121 in 2008. Ransoms were paid in 40 percent of the kidnappings in 2008, totaling an estimated US$ 850,000. The Regional Security Officer in Tegucigalpa notes that kidnappings are often underreported throughout Honduras, and these figures may not be representative of the real amount.

Honduran kidnapping gangs prefer to target affluent Honduran entrepreneurs or their family members. These gangs have targeted, to a lesser extent, foreign and local business managers of multinational corporations or their family members. U.S. citizens, although not specifically targeted for kidnapping, have been kidnapped in Honduras. There have been three kidnappings of U.S. citizens in February alone. In these cases, however, their abductions appear to have little to do with their U.S. citizenship but more to do with the victim’s family connection to an affluent Honduran entrepreneur.

Tactics

Kidnapping gangs in Honduras spend time studying potential victims before selecting a target, which could be either an affluent entrepreneur or a family member. Potential targets include those with predictable routines and who do not pay attention to their surroundings. A typical kidnap for ransom incident includes armed individuals who force the victim into their car. The kidnappers then drive to a second location to call the victim’s family in order to transmit a ransom demand. In most cases, the family negotiates a ransom, the ransom is paid and the hostage is subsequently released.

Recent Incidents

• In September 2008, gunmen kidnapped an owner of a hotel in San Pedro Sula and held him hostage for a week. According to open source press reporting, four gunmen accosted the victim in front of his hotel and forced him into his car. Honduran government officials stated that the victim was found in Copan, about 250 miles west of Tegucigalpa.
• In February, the brother of a Honduran Congressman was kidnapped in Copan. According to Honduran media reporting, the kidnappers demanded a ransom of US$ 1 million. The victim was abducted by two armed men and forced into his car, which was later found abandoned not far from the scene of the kidnapping. At this time, there are no reports on the status of the victim.


Analysis

In January, Honduran President Manuel Zelaya increased the minimum wage 60 percent, raising monthly wages from US$ 181 to $289. As a result, an estimated 15,000 people have been laid off in urban areas. This number is expected to steadily increase as businesses cannot afford the new mandatory wages. Remittances from Hondurans in the U.S. have also decreased throughout 2008.

Some analysts predict increased crime in Honduras due to citizens unable to find legitimate sources of income. Many unemployed Hondurans could look to kidnapping for ransom in order to obtain large sums of money for a small amount of planning and effort. As the disparity between economic classes continues, wealthy Hondurans or foreigners of affluent appearance conducting business in Honduras could continue to be targeted at a higher rate.


Best Practices

The following best practices have been provided by the Regional Security Officer:

o All travelers should take measures to ensure their health, valuables, and personal property are safeguarded during their stay in Honduras.
o Excessive or expensive jewelry should not be worn and visitors should not carry large sums of money or other valuables.
o Visitors should maintain a low profile at all times and never resist an armed robbery attempt.
o If possible, vary routes and times to and from home or the office, in order to avoid developing routines.
o Whenever possible, visitors should travel in groups of two or more persons, particularly after dark.
o Protect personal information, and instruct household staff not to share any detailed information with strangers.
o Thoroughly vet household staff in order to prevent hiring anyone with links to organized crime.

Conclusion

While U.S. citizens are not targeted specifically for kidnapping, those not paying attention to their surroundings can become victims when in the wrong place at the wrong time. Local-nationals working for OSAC constituents are at an increased risk if in mid- or upper-level management, and U.S. citizens related to wealthy Hondurans are also at an increased risk of kidnapping. It is useful to apply some of the listed best practices in order to prevent becoming a victim. Finally, it is important to report instances of kidnapping to your corporate security manager and the Regional Security Officer in Tegucigalpa.

Source and Secondary Source
Troops are just fodder for the War Machine. Pawns of the Merchants of Death. Wake up Universal Soldier!

Pentagon knowingly exposed troops to cancer-causing chemicals, document shows

Filed by John Byrne

A newly leaked military document appears to show the Pentagon knowingly exposed US troops to toxic chemicals that cause cancer, while publicly downplaying the risks exposure might cause.

The document, written by an environmental engineering flight commander in December of 2006 and posted on Wikileaks (PDF) on Tuesday, details the risks posed to US troops in Iraq by burning garbage at a US airbase. It enumerates myriad risks posed by the practice and identifies various carcinogens released by incinerating waste in open-air pits.

Because of the difficulties in testing samples, investigators could not prove that chemicals exceeded military exposure guidelines. But a military document released last December found that chemicals routinely exceeded safe levels by twice to six times.

The leaked report was signed off by the chief for the Air Force's aeromedical services. Its subject is Balad Airbase, a large US military base about 70 kilometers north of Baghdad.

"In my professional opinion, the known carcinogens and respiratory sensitizers released into the atmosphere by the burn pit present both an acute and a chronic health hazard to our troops and the local population," Aeromedical chief Lt. Colonel James Elliott wrote.

According to the document, a US Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventative Medicine investigator said Balad's burn pit was "the worst environmental site I have ever personally visited," including "10 years working... clean-up for the Army."

While the Curtis memo document is a new release to Wikileaks, it was previously disclosed online by the founder and editor of VAWatchdog.org, Larry Scott, in December 2008.

Military outfits have routinely incinerated garbage in what are called burn pits. At Balad, the trash was hauled by contractors from the engineering giant KBR, a former Halliburton subsidiary.

Last December, the Pentagon issued a "Just the Facts" sheet about the burn pits to troops. While acknowledging that lab tests from 2004-2006 had found occasional carcinogens, it asserted that "the potential short- and long-term risks were estimated to be low due to the infrequent detections of these chemicals."

The sampling reports are classified, according to the Army Times.

The Pentagon report adds, "Based on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guidance, long-term health effects are not expected to occur from breathing the smoke."

Strikingly, however, it does acknowledge that air samples taken in 2007 found particulate matter levels higher than military recommendations in 50 of 60 cases -- some two times allowable toxic levels, but others as many as six times.

The flyer given to troops appears to contradict assertions by the Air Force's own investigators. In the leaked document, titled "Burn Pit Health Hazards," Air Force Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight Commander Darrin Curtis expressed shock that troops were knowingly exposed to such risks.

"It is amazing that the burn pit has been able to operate without restrictions over the past few years without significant engineering controls being put in place," Curtis wrote.

"In my professional opinion, there is an acute health hazard for individuals," he added. In addition to carcinogens, "there is also the possibility of chronic health hazards associated with the smoke."


Curtis noted that the chemicals associated with burning plastics, rubber and other common trash items included arsenic, benzene, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide, sulfuric acid and various other chemicals.

"Just the Facts," while playing down long-term risks, also identified dioxins among tested samples. Dioxins were also present in Agent Orange, the notorious herbicide used during the Vietnam War. Benzene is known to cause leukemia, and cyanide and arsenic have throughout history been used as poisons to induce death.
Soldiers complain of chronic conditions

An Army Times investigation in 2008 found anecdotal evidence of health conditions caused by exposure to the fires.

"Though military officials say there are no known long-term effects from exposure to burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan, more than 100 service members have come forward to Military Times and Disabled American Veterans with strikingly similar symptoms: chronic bronchitis, asthma, sleep apnea, chronic coughs and allergy-like symptoms. Several also have cited heart problems, lymphoma and leukemia," Army Times reporter Kelley Kennedy wrote in December.

"A lot of soldiers in my old unit have asthma and bronchitis," a staff sergeant stationed in Iraq in 2005 was quoted as saying. "I lived 50 feet from the burn pit. I used to wake up in the middle of the night choking on it."

"I've seen four or five cardiologists, but no one can tell me what's wrong with my heart," the staff sergeant added.


"It seems like most of these cases, anecdotally, are people who were exposed heavily to the burn pits and they got sick quickly," Kerry Baker, legislative director for Disabled American Veterans, said. "There must be some areas that take a hit much harder than others. Everything seems to be pointing opposite to what the Defense Department is saying."

Source

Surprise! State Collaborators Will Not Be Punished

The state's monopoly of justice is often selectively used.

Panetta: No one to be punished for interrogations

Panetta: No CIA employees to be punished as a result of Senate review of harsh interrogations

Mar 05, 2009 17:42 EST

CIA Director Leon Panetta says agency employees who took part in harsh interrogations of terrorism suspects are not in danger of being punished.

Panetta delivered that message to CIA employees in an e-mail Thursday, reiterating what he told Congress last month. He said then that he would oppose prosecutions of any CIA employee who adhered to their legal guidance on interrogations.

He sent the message after the Senate Intelligence Committee announced its review of the CIA's interrogation and detention program under President George W. Bush.

The committee will look at how the CIA decided whom to interrogate, whether it told Congress the truth about the program and whether it was legal. It will also try to determine whether the harsher methods the CIA used elicited valuable intelligence.

Source

360,000 GIs Could Have Brain Trauma

Disposable heroes. The prosecutors of the states wars are also victims. Listen young people! Pick up your sword to defend yourself and your family but beware of bearing the sword on behalf of empire!

Brain-injured GIs Could Number 360,000

March 05, 2009
Associated Press
WASHINGTON - The number of U.S. troops who have suffered wartime brain injuries may be as high as 360,000 and could cast more attention on such injuries among civilians, Defense Department doctors said Wednesday.

The estimate of the number injured - the vast majority of them suffering concussions - represents 20 percent of the roughly 1.8 million men and women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, where blast injuries are common from roadside bombs and other explosives, the doctors said.

The estimate came in a Pentagon news conference on activities planned this month to bring attention to brain injuries. The doctors said the number could be as low as 180,000, based on estimates that between 10 percent and 20 percent of troops might have received such injuries.

The previous high estimate offered publicly was 320,000 in a study released a year ago by the private Rand Corp. It was based on about 1.6 million who had done tours of duty in the wars from late 2001.

Though so-called "traumatic" brain injury can range from a mild form such as concussions to severe forms with penetrating head wounds, officials said the majority of injuries among troops are the mild form.

The overwhelming majority heal - and heal without treatment - but an estimated 45,000 to 90,000 troops have suffered more severe and lasting symptoms, said Brig. Gen. Loree Sutton, the head of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury.

The Army alone spent $242 million last year for staff, facilities and programs to serve troops with brain injuries, said Lt. Col. Lynne M. Lowe of the Army surgeon general's office.

Sutton said that, as in previous wars, the research and other work being done by the military will eventually benefit the civilian world. Whether the injuries occur while people ride bicycles, play football, skateboard or ski, "we know that this is an issue across the country," she said.

"In the past ... it was difficult to get this on the radar screen," said Dr. James Kelly, director of the National Intrepid Center for brain injuries and psychological health. "Brain injury was not recognized as a problem ... of any consequence and was, especially in the sports community, often dismissed or trivialized."

"I think that now you're seeing it being taken very seriously," Kelly said. "The wartime experience has been a big part of that."

Source

Afghans Civilians Still Being Ground Up in War Machine

Yankee Go Home!

Report: Five Afghan Civilians Killed in US Raid
US Insists "Militants" Killed in Attack on Mayor's House
Posted March 22, 2009

US Special Forces killed five people in a pre-dawn raid on a home belonging to a local mayor in the Kunduz Province. In its official statement the military declared that the operation was against a “terrorist network” and that the five killed were “militants.” Four others were also reportedly detained.

Yet Afghan officials say that all five of the people killed in the attack were civilians. Provincial police chief Abdul Rehman Actash said those killed included the district mayor’s driver, his cook, two of his guards, and a guest from Sari Pul Province. Though the US insisted the operation was carried out with help from local police, the police say they weren’t even informed of the operation until after the fact.

A growing number of Afghan civilian deaths caused by US and allied forces have strained relations between the two. Last month a similar raid killed five children in Oruzgan Province. The Australian military insisted that those killings were “in accordance with the rules of engagement.”

Source

Friday, March 20, 2009

People Demand Their Lifestyle Be Subsidized Even More

It is not right to force others to pay for your problems. Each man must stand on his/her own two feet.

Family who are 'too fat to work' say £22,000 worth of benefits is not enough

A family of four with a combined weight of 83 stone say they are "too fat to work" and need more than the £22,000 they currently receive in benefits.

Philip Chawner, 53, and his 57-year-old wife Audrey weigh 24st. Their daughter Emma, 19, weighs 17st, while her older sister Samantha, 21, weighs 18st.

The family from Blackburn claim £22,508 a year in benefits, equivalent to the take-home pay from a £30,000 salary.

The Chawners, haven't worked in 11 years, claim their weight is a hereditary condition and the money they receive is insufficient to live on.

Mr Chawner said: "What we get barely covers the bills and puts food on the table. It's not our fault we can't work. We deserve more."

The family claim to spend £50 a week on food and consume 3,000 calories each a day. The recommended maximum intake is 2,000 for women and 2,500 for men.

"We have cereal for breakfast, bacon butties for lunch and microwave pies with mashed potato or chips for dinner," Mrs Chawner told Closer magazine.

"All that healthy food, like fruit and veg, is too expensive. We're fat because it's in our genes. Our whole family is overweight," she added.

Each week, Mr and Mrs Chawner, who have been married for 23 years, receive £177 in income support and incapacity benefit. Mrs Chawner is paid an extra £330-a-month disability allowance for epilepsy and asthma, both a result of being overweight.

Mr Chawner gets £71 a month after developing Type 2 diabetes because of his size. He was on a waiting list for a gastric band last year, but a heart condition made the operation unsuitable. Their daughter Samantha receives £84 in Jobseekers' Allowance each fortnight while Emma, who is training to be a hairdresser, gets £58 every two weeks under a hardship fund for low-income students.

Emma, said: "I'm a student and don't have time to exercise" she said "We all want to lose weight to stop the abuse we get in the street, but we don't know how."

Source

Monday, March 16, 2009

Big Brother Filmed; Arrest Cameraman

The more the state and its servants tighten their grip around the people, the sillier they look. Will its day of reckoning ever come? Notice how hypocritical the police are in justifying this outrage.

Cops Arrest Priest For Filming Them
Police Report Says Priest Wielded Unknown Object; But Cop On Tape Knows It’s A Camera

(AP) A Roman Catholic priest who monitors law enforcement treatment of minorities with a video camera released footage that appears to contradict the police account of his own arrest.

A police report says the Rev. James Manship was confronted and arrested Feb. 19 because he was holding an "unknown shiny silver object" and struggled with an officer who was trying to take it from him. But a 15-second video released this week by Manship's attorneys shows East Haven police Officer David Cari asking Manship, "Is there a reason you have a camera on me?"

"I'm taking a video of what's going on here," Manship replies.

"Well, I'll tell you what, what I'm going to do with that camera," Cari says as he approaches the priest. The tape then goes blank.

The arrest has reignited the debate about racial profiling and ethnic discrimination in East Haven, a working-class community of about 28,000 that borders New Haven. The shooting death of an unarmed black man by an East Haven officer in 1997 sparked harsh criticism by minority groups that has lingered. Manship and his parishioners say officers have been unfairly targeting Hispanics in recent months.

Hugh Keefe, a New Haven attorney who represents East Haven police, said the videotape shows only a small portion of what happened and confirms part of what Cari wrote in his report. He also said the tape doesn't show what happened from the time the camera was turned off until Manship's arrest.

Marcia Chacon, co-owner of My Country Store, where Manship was arrested, said Friday that the priest surrendered peacefully after the camera was shut off.

"He didn't say anything," she said.


Manship was not at his parish, St. Rose of Lima Church in New Haven, midday Friday and did not return a telephone message left Friday afternoon. He is due in court March 27 on misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and interfering with an officer.

Keefe criticized Manship for "creating controversy where none needed to be."

"You've got to conclude that he was out there with a video camera in an attempt, in my view, to provoke the police to do something," Keefe said. "If his goal was to attempt to stop the perceived harassment of the Hispanic community in East Haven by the police department, why didn't he go to the mayor's office?"


Chacon, a 36-year-old immigrant from Ecuador who moved to the U.S. 15 years ago and a parishioner of Manship's church, said she had called the priest to her store that day because the two officers were confiscating license plates displayed on the store's wall, saying they were illegal. She and her husband, Rodrigo Matute, were given a $372 ticket.

She said the seizure and ticket were part of a pattern of racial profiling against Hispanics by town police over the past eight months.

"I don't know why it happened," Chacon said of the priest's arrest and the seizure of the license plates. "We work very hard and ... everything we do is legal."

Keefe said there has never been a complaint, oral or written, about town officers harassing Hispanic people. If a complaint were filed, city officials would look into it, he said.

Last weekend, anti-immigrant fliers apparently printed by a white supremacy group were left in front of Chacon's store, she said. And on Monday, someone broke the window of her home's basement door, she said.

"I'm very scared," Chacon said.

Source

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Viva Democracy!

Western democrats would sneer at this story, but are the western democratic states much different? Elections are filled with candidates parroting similar ideologies. Welfare and warfare are their cries, theft and murder are their tools. Is Kim Jong Il so different?

Kim wins re-election with 99.9% turnout

The Associated Press
Monday, March 9, 2009
SEOUL:

Kim Jong Il was unanimously re-elected to North Korea's rubber-stamp parliament, state media said Monday, in elections closely watched for signs of a political shift or hints the autocratic leader is grooming a successor.

Turnout Sunday was 99.98 percent, with all voters backing the sole candidate running in their constituency, the official Korean Central News Agency reported.


Observers will be analyzing the list of legislators for clues as to how Kim and the ruling elite will govern the Communist nation over the next five years, and any signs he is grooming a successor.

Kim's third son, Kim Jong Un, reportedly ran for a seat Sunday in what analysts say would be a strong sign he is poised to inherit power. The 26-year-old is the youngest of the leader's three known sons and is said to be his father's favorite.

Kim, 67, reportedly suffered a stroke last August, around the time the elections were due to be held. North Korea denies he was ill and did not provide a reason for the delay to March.

The new assembly is expected to convene in early April to reconfirm Kim as leader in his capacity as chairman of the all-powerful National Defense Commission.

Elections in North Korea are largely a formality, since candidates are widely believed to be hand-picked by Kim and the ruling Workers' Party, and only one candidate runs in each constituency.

The North Korean Parliament meets only a few times a year to affirm bills vetted by the ruling party. But lawmakers also fill key party, government and military posts, making the list of legislators a telling indicator of how Kim's third term will take shape, analysts say.

KCNA traditionally provides a list of legislators around noon the day after the poll. But a report late Monday from KCNA said only that 686 lawmakers had been elected, without providing their names.

The past two elections have resulted in significant turnover. The 1998 balloting was Kim's formal ascension to power; he had inherited the country's leadership upon his father's death four years earlier but waited for the poll to clear out nearly two-thirds of the assembly's lawmakers.

Source

Monday, March 9, 2009

George Obama? Or Barak Bush?

Vague differences in the ideology of the main parties only serves to present people with an illusion that there is an alternative to state power. In truth, there is but one party, and it will not diminish it's power without a fight. Republicans and Democrats by and large agree that the use of state power is legitimate, they merely haggle sometimes over it's use and breadth.

Obama Channels Cheney
Obama adopts Bush view on the powers of the presidency.

In a federal lawsuit, the Obama legal team is arguing that judges lack the authority to enforce their own rulings in classified matters of national security. The standoff concerns the Oregon chapter of the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, a Saudi Arabian charity that was shut down in 2004 on evidence that it was financing al Qaeda. Al-Haramain sued the Bush Administration in 2005, claiming it had been illegally wiretapped.

At the heart of Al-Haramain's case is a classified document that it says proves that the alleged eavesdropping was not authorized under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA. That record was inadvertently disclosed after Al-Haramain was designated as a terrorist organization; the Bush Administration declared such documents state secrets after their existence became known.

In July, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the President's right to do so, which should have ended the matter. But the San Francisco panel also returned the case to the presiding district court judge, Vaughn Walker, ordering him to decide if FISA pre-empts the state secrets privilege. If he does, Al-Haramain would be allowed to use the document to establish the standing to litigate.

The Obama Justice Department has adopted a legal stance identical to, if not more aggressive than, the Bush version. It argues that the court-forced disclosure of the surveillance programs would cause "exceptional harm to national security" by exposing intelligence sources and methods. Last Friday the Ninth Circuit denied the latest emergency motion to dismiss, again kicking matters back to Judge Walker.

In court documents filed hours later, Justice argues that the decision to release classified information "is committed to the discretion of the Executive Branch, and is not subject to judicial review. Moreover, the Court does not have independent power . . . to order the Government to grant counsel access to classified information when the Executive Branch has denied them such access." The brief continues that federal judges are "ill-equipped to second-guess the Executive Branch."

That's about as pure an assertion of Presidential power as they come, and we're beginning to wonder if the White House has put David Addington, Mr. Cheney's chief legal aide, on retainer. The practical effect is to prevent the courts from reviewing the legality of the warrantless wiretapping program that Mr. Obama repeatedly claimed to find so heinous -- at least before taking office. Justice, by the way, is making the same state secrets argument in a separate lawsuit involving rendition and a Boeing subsidiary.


Hide the children, but we agree with Mr. Obama that the President has inherent Article II Constitutional powers that neither the judiciary nor statutes like FISA can impinge upon. The FISA appeals court said as much in a decision released in January, as did Attorney General Eric Holder during his confirmation hearings. It's reassuring to know the Administration is refusing to compromise core executive-branch prerogatives, especially on war powers.

Then again, we are relearning that the "Imperial Presidency" is only imperial when the President is a Republican. Democrats who spent years denouncing George Bush for "spying on Americans" and "illegal wiretaps" are now conspicuously silent. Yet these same liberals are going ballistic about the Bush-era legal memos released this week. Cognitive dissonance is the polite explanation, and we wouldn't be surprised if Mr. Holder released them precisely to distract liberal attention from the Al-Haramain case.

By the way, those Bush documents are Office of Legal Counsel memos, not policy directives. They were written in the immediate aftermath of a major terrorist attack, when more seemed possible, and it would have been irresponsible not to explore the outer limits of Presidential war powers in the event of a worst-case scenario. Based on what we are learning so far about Mr. Obama's policies, his Administration would do the same.

Source

Friday, March 6, 2009

State Prohibits Doctor From Offering Cost Effective Service

The state has driven up medical costs through regulation and cartelization. It has hampered the production of drugs, the amount of doctors, and free entry into the market place. The trend is for nationalization. It intervenes into the market, causes chaos, then intervenes again to correct the harmful consequences of its previous intervention. Any competitors to this, offering alternatives to state mismanagement, will be crushed.

NY regulators frown on doctor's flat-fee system

Published: March 4, 2009 - 2:20 pm

(AP) - A New York City doctor's flat-fee, $79-a-month medical practice has run afoul of state insurance regulators who have told him to shut it down.

Dr. John Muney said Wednesday he's negotiating to try to keep the arrangement at his AMG Medical Group centers. The fee includes unlimited office visits, some tests and in-office surgeries. It doesn't cover treatment requiring hospitalization or specialized care.

Dr. Muney sees it as a formula for making health care affordable and patient-friendly at a time when many people are losing jobs and medical benefits.

But the state Insurance Department says Dr. Muney's system amounts to insurance and requires a license.

Source

State Thug Presumes To Know Better Than Parents

The power given to the state causes irrational behavior. The power holders actually believe their powers to be legitimate even while they talk about absurd activities. Somehow, though, it is a fitting image: the state taking a toys away from children. A bully's activity.

Barbie Could Be Banned In West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W. Va. (KDKA) ―

Her measurements are still 36-18-38 as Barbie turns 50 this week.

But if one West Virginia lawmaker has his way, Barbie could be banned in the Mountain State.

"I just hate the image that we give to our kids that if you're beautiful, you're beautiful and you don't have to be smart," said Del. Jeff Eldridge of Lincoln County, W. Va.

Eldridge proposed a bill to ban sales of Mattel's blond bombshell and others like her because it puts too much emphasis on physical beauty, but he's finding it hard to get people to sign on.

"I knew a lot of people were going to joke about it and make fun of me," said Eldridge. "I couldn't get anybody to sign on the bill with me and I said, 'I'm still going to introduce it.'"

"I think that it's nice to have a male member of the House of Delegates worried about women's image and what they're supposed to do or what they think they're supposed to do to succeed," said Del. Nancy Peoples Guthrie of Kanawha County. "My sense is that this is probably not a bill that's going to pass."

At least one mother said it's not the state's place to worry about her daughters.

"I think that there are other ways to promote confidence and instill values in your daughters other than the toys that they play with," said Amy Smith, of Charleston, W. Va. "I don't have a problem with Barbie."

The Barbie doll officially turns 50 on March 9.

Mattel has made big plans this year to mark the anniversary.

Source

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

UK State Kidnaps Children On False Pretenses, Refuses to Return Them

The argument that the state organization is needed to prevent the perversion of justice is demonstrably false. It is in fact the case that the state virtually guarantees the organized and efficient perversion of justice. A monopoly on the production of justice unsurprisingly produces less and less justice with ever increasing costs. The state can also be predicted to rule mostly in its favor.

Couple told they cannot have their children back after being wrongfully accused of abuse to take court battle to Europe

By Tom Kelly
Last updated at 3:54 PM on 12th February 2009

A couple forced to give up three children for adoption despite a judge ruling they may have been wrongly accused of abuse yesterday vowed to take their legal fight to Europe.

Mark and Nicky Webster said they will never give up the battle to win back their daughter and two sons after the Appeal Court ruled this week that it was 'too late' for the family to be reunited.

The couple have not seen the children, now aged nine, seven and five, since they were put up for adoption four years ago.

Mrs Webster, from Cromer in Norfolk, said: 'We promised right from the very beginning that we were going to fight on no matter what.

'That has not changed, despite all the disappointments we have suffered.

'We need to discuss with our lawyers exactly where we stand but we will do whatever we can.

'If that means going to House of Lords or all the way to the European courts then that's what we will do.

'I've never stopped thinking about my children and I never will.'

The couple's nightmare started in October 2003 when Mrs Webster took their second son to hospital with a swollen leg.

He was found to have a number of small fractures which doctors said could be caused only by physical abuse.

The following year they were permanently removed and put up for adoption after a one-day court hearing.

Medical experts later concluded that the injuries were not caused by violent twisting and shaking, but were symptoms of rare case of scurvy.


Mr Webster, 35, and his 27-year-old wife fled to Ireland in 2006 to stop their fourth child, Brandon, being taken into care at birth.

The Appeal Court ruled on Wednesday that even though the Websters 'may well' have been victims of a miscarriage of justice the adoption order on their eldest three children could not be revoked because the youngsters are now settled with their adoptive parents.

Mrs Webster, who is pregnant with a fifth child due in April, said: 'The judgement has left a lot of unanswered questions.

'On the one hand they are saying it's in our favour and they fully understand why we're doing what we're doing.

'But on the other hand they're saying they can't help us.

'I'm also disappointed that they haven't cleared our names.

'The judges only skimmed the surface. They haven't dug deeper.

'You see cases on the news about people harming their children. It's beyond belief that we were put in a similar pigeon hole to that.'

Helen Broughton, an adoption law specialist from Morecrofts Solicitors, said the case highlighted the 'chronic weaknesses' in the Family Justice System.

'A tragic situation like this has almost certainly happened before and sadly it will very likely happen again,' she said.

'There is a serious shortage of resources. Medical experts are expensive and courts are only required to provide one for each adoption case, which allows no room for error.

'Had there been a second medical opinion when concerns were first raised about this couple this whole very sad situation would almost certainly have been avoided.'

But she warned that the Websters would face a very tough battle to overturn the adoption order in either the House of Lords or the European Court of Justice.

'The courts may rule that they have been wronged, but they are extremely unlikely to reverse the adoption order, because in almost all cases adoption is final.'

Source

Update: The Websters have again been denied their children by the courts. Read about it here.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

AIG Does Not Stand For "Against Intervention By Government"

What kind of civilization do we have if thievery is unrepentantly practiced in the open sun?

U.S. offers more funds to help fraught AIG
$30 billion more in loans; $61.7 billion lost in the fourth quarter
The Associated Press
updated 6:11 p.m. CT, Mon., March. 2, 2009
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The U.S. government announced a restructuring of a bailout plan for the troubled insurer American International Group Inc. Monday, extending $30 billion in additional aid to the company.

News of the additional funds came as AIG, once the world’s largest insurer, said it lost $61.7 billion in the fourth quarter, the biggest quarterly loss in U.S. corporate history, amid continued financial market turmoil.

The government’s new financial assistance to AIG includes providing the troubled company another $30 billion on an “as needed” basis.

In an interview on NBC’s “Today” show Monday morning, AIG chairman and chief executive Edward Liddy said: “We’re going to be able to pay back the Federal Reserve. The new $30 billion is a stand-by line. It’s not necessarily something that we think we’ll have to draw on right away.”

The Federal Reserve said Monday it will also take stakes in two international units.

Instead of paying back $38 billion in cash with interest that it has used from a Federal Reserve credit line, AIG now will repay that amount with equity stakes in Asia-based American International Assurance Co. and American Life Insurance Co., which operates in 50 countries.

AIG also announced plans to spin off part of its property-casualty business, to be renamed AIU Holdings Inc.

It marked the fourth time the government has stepped in to help AIG. Its initial lifeline came in September. The action was announced jointly early Monday by the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve.

The new package is designed to enhance the company’s capital and liquidity to facilitate the “orderly completion of the company’s global divestiture program,” the agencies said.

They said the company continues to face “significant challenges” due to the rapid deterioration in certain financial markets in the last two months of the year. “The additional resources will help stabilize the company and in doing so help stabilize the financial system,” the agencies said.

AIG has been forced to seek more help in part because of the ongoing recession and its falling stock price, now well under $1. Among its biggest problems: It can’t sell assets to pay back government loans because the credit crisis is preventing would-be buyers from getting financing to complete such deals.

As of Feb. 13, AIG had sold interests in nine businesses.

In November, the U.S. government restructured previous loans provided to AIG, giving the company about $150 billion in total as part of a rescue package to help the insurer remain in business amid the worsening credit crisis. That package replaced earlier loans, including the original $85 billion lent in September, after it became apparent the insurer needed more funds.

Problems at AIG did not come from its traditional insurance operations, but instead from its financial services units, and primarily its business insuring mortgage-backed securities and other risky debt against default.

“Our insurance policy holders, they’re in good shape. They’re secure, they’re protected,” Liddy said in the “Today” show interview. “It’s all the other ancillary businesses that are causing this. And it’s the decline in asset values around the globe.”

New York-based AIG said Monday it lost $22.95 per share in the last three months of 2008. It lost $5.3 billion, or $2.08 per share, in the same quarter a year ago. Revenue fell to negative $23.8 billion, as the company had to reverse gains it recorded from investments in past quarters.

The latest results include $7.2 billion in unrealized losses and credit valuation adjustments at AIG Financial Products, the source of credit-default swaps, and pretax losses of $21.6 billion tied to the declining value of AIG’s investment portfolio.

AIG’s general insurance business swung to a loss on $2.8 billion in net realized capital losses. General insurance net premiums dropped 16.3 percent to $9.2 billion, and net premiums earned fell 5.9 percent to nearly $11 billion.

Adjusted to exclude certain items, operating losses totaled $37.9 billion, or $14.17 per share, versus a loss of $3.2 billion, or $1.25 per share, last year.

The results fell drastically short of estimates. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters, on average, forecast a loss of 37 cents per share on revenue of $24.82 billion. Analysts have been dropping coverage of AIG in recent weeks due to the uncertainty of AIG’s future.

“We have made meaningful progress in addressing liquidity issues related to AIG Financial Products and our securities lending activities and have announced several divestitures,” AIG’s Liddy said. “However, the economy and capital markets remain in turmoil and we are taking additional steps to preserve the value of our businesses and maximize the ultimate proceeds for the benefit of all stakeholders, including taxpayers.”

For the full year, AIG lost $99.3 billion, or $37.84 per share, compared with a proft of $6.2 billion, or $2.39 per share, a year earlier. Total revenue fell 89.9 percent to $11.1 billion from $110.1 billion a year ago.

Source

Monday, March 2, 2009

What if...