Signposts Passed at Dusk: Remembering Stories Slipping Away

Posted: February 9, 2011 in Uncategorized

Can I get a piece of that pie?

income inequality

G. William Domhoff updates the distribution of wealth and power and, you guessed right, we’re in trouble:

In the United States, wealth is highly concentrated in a relatively few hands. As of 2007, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 34.6% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 50.5%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 85%, leaving only 15% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers). In terms of financial wealth (total net worth minus the value of one’s home), the top 1% of households had an even greater share: 42.7%. Go and read it all, ouch.

Big Society is really for the Big Winners

While looking at the “Big Society” and calling on the populace to face the Austerity which is needed to keep the society running, it would appear that Cameron is trying to help out the big winners even more:

‘I would love to see tax reductions,” David Cameron told the Sunday Telegraph at the weekend, “but when you’re borrowing 11% of your GDP, it’s not possible to make significant net tax cuts. It just isn’t.” Oh no? Then how come he’s planning the biggest and crudest corporate tax cut in living memory?

If you’ve heard nothing of it, you’re in good company. The obscure adjustments the government is planning to the tax acts of 1988 and 2009 have been missed by almost everyone – and are, anyway, almost impossible to understand without expert help. But as soon as you grasp the implications, you realise that a kind of corporate coup d’etat is taking place.

Like the dismantling of the NHS and the sale of public forests, no one voted for this measure, as it wasn’t in the manifestos. While Cameron insists that he occupies the centre ground of British politics, that he shares our burdens and feels our pain, he has quietly been plotting with banks and businesses to engineer the greatest transfer of wealth from the poor and middle to the ultra-rich that this country has seen in a century. The latest heist has been explained to me by the former tax inspector, now a Private Eye journalist, Richard Brooks and current senior tax staff who can’t be named. Here’s how it works.

At the moment tax law ensures that companies based here, with branches in other countries, don’t get taxed twice on the same money. They have to pay only the difference between our rate and that of the other country. If, for example, Dirty Oil plc pays 10% corporation tax on its profits in Oblivia, then shifts the money over here, it should pay a further 18% in the UK, to match our rate of 28%. But under the new proposals, companies will pay nothing at all in this country on money made by their foreign branches.

Foreign means anywhere. If these proposals go ahead, the UK will be only the second country in the world to allow money that has passed through tax havens to remain untaxed when it gets here. The other is Switzerland. The exemption applies solely to “large and medium companies”: it is not available for smaller firms. The government says it expects “large financial services companies to make the greatest use of the exemption regime”. The main beneficiaries, in other words, will be the banks.

But that’s not the end of it. While big business will be exempt from tax on its foreign branch earnings, it will, amazingly, still be able to claim the expense of funding its foreign branches against tax it pays in the UK. No other country does this. The new measures will, as we already know, accompany a rapid reduction in the official rate of corporation tax: from 28% to 24% by 2014. This, a Treasury minister has boasted, will be the lowest rate “of any major western economy”. By the time this government is done, we’ll be lucky if the banks and corporations pay anything at all. In the Sunday Telegraph, David Cameron said: “What I want is tax revenue from the banks into the exchequer, so we can help rebuild this economy.” He’s doing just the opposite…

So how did this happen? You don’t have to look far to find out. Almost all the members of the seven committees the government set up “to provide strategic oversight of the development of corporate tax policy” are corporate executives. Among them are representatives of Vodafone, Tesco, BP, British American Tobacco and several of the major banks: HSBC, Santander, Standard Chartered, Citigroup, Schroders, RBS and Barclays.

I used to think of such processes as regulatory capture: government agencies being taken over by the companies they were supposed to restrain. But I’ve just read Nicholas Shaxson’s Treasure Islands – perhaps the most important book published in the UK so far this year – and now I’m not so sure. Shaxson shows how the world’s tax havens have not, as the OECD claims, been eliminated, but legitimized,”

And while in Munich David Cameron laid out the necessary vocabulary of soft Racism and the attack on that pesky tolerance of multiculturalism. This was especially good timing as the English Defense League was meeting at the same time and saw this as a official of the Government justifying their racist agenda. And got to love the muscular liberalism” which doesn’t have the weaknesses of understanding.

Cameron “drew a direct connection between “the doctrine of state multiculturalism” and the insularity of Muslim communities that can foster terrorism.

Britain, the prime minister said, has “encouraged different cultures to live separate lives” with the effect of “weakening our collective identity”. This has contributed to a disorientation among young Muslims that makes them susceptible to extremist preachers. The antidote, according to Mr Cameron, is a more consistent, robust promotion of liberal-democratic values – human rights, religious tolerance, gender equality – and a greater emphasis on shared British cultural attributes. He calls it “active, muscular liberalism”.

The Law is for the Little People

President Bush was to address a group at the Hotel President Wilson in Geneva Switzerland on February 7th but cancelled.  Why?. “Well you see the CCR and its allies in Europe had been preparing a bit of a surprise for the 43 President of the United States and unindicted torturer. They had been working for months to bring two complaints against George W. Bush under the International Conventions Against Torture. One in the name of Al Jazeera reporter Sami el-Hajj and a current CIA detainee Majid Khan, who is to this day held at Guantanamo Bay without charge.

CCR and the European Center of Constitutional and Human Rights have put together a 2.500 page case against the criminal President Bush and had intended to file it Monday when Bush was in Geneva. They had been keeping the a pretty tight lid on this, talking to reporters under a news embargo and preparing a press conference. Some how it seems that it has leaked and lo and behold, W suddenly can’t attend and the event is being canceled.”

You can read the complaint here, but this is what happened.

Activists vowed on Monday that former President George W. Bush will face a torture case against him wherever he travels outside the United States.

Human rights groups had planned to lodge a Swiss criminal case against Bush on Monday, before his address to a Jewish charity in Geneva on Feb. 12. Organizers cancelled his speech last weekend, invoking security concerns.

But the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights issued what they called a preliminary “indictment” to prosecute Bush abroad for the alleged torture of terrorism suspects in U.S. custody.

“This document is not intended to serve as a comprehensive presentation of all evidence against Bush for torture; rather, it presents the fundamental aspects of the case against him, and a preliminary legal analysis of liability for torture, and a response to certain anticipated defenses,” it read.

The 42-page “indictment” alleges torture through a CIA interrogation program for detainees, approved by Bush, using enhanced methods including waterboarding, sleep deprivation, forced stress positions and confining detainees in a dark box.

“Our analysis can be modified for a particular plaintiff and country very quickly. So if he decides to leave the United States in the future, as soon as we hear about it we will have a complaint filed,” Katherine Gallagher, senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, told Reuters.


My Name She Belongs to Me!

Sara Palin has decided her name is a big money maker and  filed paperwork with the US Patent and Trademark Office in November to register her name (trademarked?). However the application to register her name (as hers) for such important events as “motivational speaking services” has been rejected by the office

The application was rejected foremost because she had failed (forgotten,?) to sign the bid. The official records also show that the two examples she had given supporting her application were “not acceptable” to having her name trademarked. The two examples were her noting that she had been (1) hired as a contributor to Fox News and that (2) she had made numerous  postings about herself on her Facebook page.

The official rejection states that these two reasons “are not acceptable because they do not show use of the applied-for mark in connection with any of the services specified in the application”.

The Trademark Office has sent a letter telling Sara (ex vice presidential candidate, ex mayor and ex governor) to hurry and fix the problem before May or the Trademark application will be nullified (ouch, you gotta sign it!).

Single mother, Bristol Palin, whose abstinence efforts for Candie’s Foundation in telling kids, “I just think that abstinence is the only … 100 percent foolproof way to prevent pregnancy”, this is real!

Sara’s Daughter, Bristol Palin, also applied for trademarking of her name on November 5th, but as things run in families, was rejected due to not being signed.


Legalizing Drugs is impossible because there is to much money to be made.

On Monday, January 31, 2011, Secretary Clinton is Interviewed by Denise Maerker of Televisa in Mexico and gives us this insight to why you need to keep all those drugs illegal. The relevant quote:Maerker: In Mexico, there are those who propose not keeping going with this battle and legalize drug trafficking and consumption. What is your opinion?

Clinton: I don’t think that will work. I mean, I hear the same debate. I hear it in my country. It is not likely to work. There is just too much money in it, and I don’t think that—you can legalize small amounts for possession, but those who are making so much money selling, they have to be stopped.

She’s unclear but it seems she means that legalizing small amounts – as Mexico has done (mostly to prevent their ultra-corrupt police from shaking everybody down for bribes) – but is afraid of some people making money.

Jacob Sullem points out the problem with the logic:

Clinton evidently does not understand that there is so much money to be made by selling illegal drugs precisely because they are illegal. Prohibition not only enables traffickers to earn a “risk premium” that makes drug prices much higher than they would otherwise be; it delivers this highly lucrative business into the hands of criminals who, having no legal recourse, resolve disputes by spilling blood.

The 35,000 or so prohibition-related deaths that Mexico has seen since President Felipe Calderon began a crackdown on drugs in 2006 are one consequence of the volatile situation created by the government’s arbitrary dictates regarding psychoactive substances. Pace Clinton, the way to “stop” the violent thugs who profit from prohibition is not to mindlessly maintain the policy that enriches them.

The Flat Earth, Two of Every Animal on the Ark, and other true stories

Could we be devolving?

From the Gallup poll the Majority of Americans don’t believe in Evolution (and even more conservatives):

It is apparent that many Americans simply do not like the idea that humans evolved from lower forms of life. This appears to be substantially based on a belief in the story of creation as outlined in the Bible — that God created humans in a process that, taking the Bible literally, occurred about 10,000 years ago.

Americans who say they do not believe in the theory of evolution are highly likely to justify this belief by reference to religion, Jesus Christ, or the Bible. Furthermore, there is a strong correlation between high levels of personal religiosity and doubts about evolution.

Being religious in America today is strongly related to partisanship, with more religious Americans in general much more likely to be Republicans than to be independents or Democrats. This relationship helps explain the finding that Republicans are significantly more likely than independents or Democrats to say they do not believe in evolution. When three Republican presidential candidates said in a May debate that they did not believe in evolution, the current analysis suggests that many Republicans across the country no doubt agreed.


Best to have ,,,, as leaders

In charge

The New York Times: Vice President Omar Suleiman of Egypt says he does not think it is time to lift the 30-year-old emergency law that has been used to suppress and imprison opposition leaders. He does not think President Hosni Mubarak needs to resign before his term ends in September. And he does not think his country is yet ready for democracy.

But, lacking better options, the United States is encouraging him in negotiations in a still uncertain transition process in Egypt. . . . The result has been to feed a perception, on the streets of Cairo and elsewhere, that the United States, for now at least, is putting stability ahead of democratic ideals, and leaving hopes of nurturing peaceful, gradual change in large part in the hands of Egyptian officials — starting with Mr. Suleiman — who have every reason to slow the process.

Lisa Hajjar, Al Jazeera English tells us about whats in store :Suleiman has long been favoured by the US government for his ardent anti-Islamism, his willingness to talk and act tough on Iran — and he has long been the CIA’s main man in Cairo. . . . In the mid-1990s, Suleiman worked closely with the Clinton administration in devising and implementing its rendition program; back then, rendition involved kidnapping suspected terrorists and transferring them to a third country for trial. . . .

Under the Bush administration, in the context of “the global war on terror”, US renditions became “extraordinary”, meaning the objective of kidnapping and extra-legal transfer was no longer to bring a suspect to trial — but rather for interrogation to seek actionable intelligence.  The extraordinary rendition program landed some people in CIA black sites — and others were turned over for torture -by-proxy to other regimes. Egypt figured large as a torture destination of choice, as did Suleiman as Egypt’s torturer-in-chief. At least one person extraordinarily rendered by the CIA to Egypt — Egyptian-born Australian citizen Mamdouh Habib — was reportedly tortured by Suleiman himself.

(click link to read more of the problems with Suleiman, or read here.)


Great Spirits In the Face of Danger.

David Kato

David Kato knew he was a marked man.

As the most outspoken gay rights advocate in Uganda, a country where homophobia is so severe that Parliament is considering a bill to execute gay people, Mr. Kato had received a stream of death threats, his friends said. A few months ago, a Ugandan newspaper ran an antigay diatribe with Mr. Kato’s picture on the front page under a banner urging, “Hang Them.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Kato was beaten to death with a hammer in his rough-and-tumble neighborhood. Police officials were quick to chalk up the motive to robbery, but members of the small and increasingly besieged gay community in Uganda suspect otherwise.

“David’s death is a result of the hatred planted in Uganda by U.S. evangelicals in 2009,” Val Kalende, the chairwoman of one of Uganda’s gay rights groups, said in a statement. “The Ugandan government and the so-called U.S. evangelicals must take responsibility for David’s blood.

At Cato’s Funeral the Clergy starts on a anti-gay rant. Sad, and definitely unchristian.

(for english subtitles, if they don’t appear, press cc on the bottom of the video window)



Klaatu barada nikto

The orbiting NASA Kepler telescope has discovered 1,235 possible planets outside our solar system. Amazingly, 54 of them are seemingly within the zone that could be hospitable to sustaining life as we now define the term. Fifty-four possibilities is “an enormous amount, an inconceivable amount,” Borucki said. “It’s amazing to see this huge number because up to now, we’ve had zero.”

The findings increase the number of planet candidates identified by Kepler to-date to 1,235. The Breakdown of these bodies are:  68 are approximately Earth-size; 288 are super-Earth-size; 662 are Neptune-size; 165 are the size of Jupiter and 19 are larger than Jupiter. Of these there are now 54 newly identified planet which are located in the habitable zone (with five being around Earth-size). The remaining 49 habitable zone candidates range from super-Earth size — up to twice the size of Earth — to larger than Jupiter. The results come from new analysis of observations conducted between the months of May 12 to Sept. 17, 2009 of more than 156,000 stars in Kepler’s viewing field.  Amazingly this only can cover 1/400 of the sky.

“The fact that we’ve found so many planet candidates in such a tiny fraction of the sky suggests there are countless planets orbiting stars like our sun in our galaxy,” said Borucki. “Kepler can find only a small fraction of the planets around the stars it looks at because the orbits aren’t aligned properly. If you account for those two factors, our results indicate there must be millions of planets orbiting the stars that surround our sun.”

“We went from zero to 68 Earth-sized planet candidates and zero to 54 candidates in the habitable zone – a region where liquid water could exist on a planet’s surface. Some candidates could even have moons with liquid water,” said William Borucki of NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., and the Kepler Mission’s science principal investigator. “Five of the planetary candidates are both near Earth-size and orbit in the habitable zone of their parent stars.”

The Goldilocks Zone is the Orbital distance of a planet and its placement in the galaxy giving it the possible basic requirements of earth-like life, akin to that our planet, primarily the ability to sustain liquid water.

“This porridge is too hot,” Goldilocks exclaimed.
So she tasted the porridge from the second bowl.
“This porridge is too cold.”
So she tasted the last bowl of porridge.
“Ahhh, this porridge is just right!” she said happily.
And she ate it all up.

Goldilocks and the three bears



Aliens possessed my body (just like everybody else, but I know it).

New Yorker article on Scientology  is definitely worth a read.  Some insights about the “Religion” pointed out in the long and interesting essay.

“A major cause of mankind’s problems began 75 million years ago,” the Times wrote, when the planet Earth, then called Teegeeack, was part of a confederation of ninety planets under the leadership of a despotic ruler named Xenu.

Davis became fiercely committed to the Sea Org. He got a tattoo on one arm of its logo—two palm fronds embracing a star, supposedly the emblem of the Galactic Confederacy seventy-five million years ago.

In his view, Haggis’s emotions at that moment ranked 1.1 on the Tone Scale—the state that is sometimes called Covertly Hostile. By adopting a tone just above it—Anger—Isham hoped to blast Haggis out of the psychic place where he seemed to be lodged. “This was an intellectual decision,” Isham said. “I decided I would be angry.”

  1. maaretta says:

    Can’t believe 60% of Republicans don’t believe in evolution. There politicians, people who are running for congress, in charge of a country. And don’t understand basic science.
    But as Neil deGrasse, the astronomer, says: “The good thing about Science is that it’s real whether you beleive in it or not”. 🙂
    Mubarak has fallen, let’s hope the Egyptians stay strong and fight so they will get a good leader, fair leader, chosen by the people. And not Suleman for the love of humanity!
    R.I.P David Kato. (Awful priest. What an awful, horrible person. To verbally abuse a man at his own funeral… That must be a new low).

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