Saturday, September 17, 2016

The higher the federal agency, the greater the piracy on us

Recall please the "odd news" genre which, though ostensibly for fun and entertainment, often outdoes the corporate-cartel "mainstream" media for honest reporting. From :

The Drug Enforcement Administration has schemed for several years to pay airline and Amtrak employees for tips on passengers who might be traveling with large sums of cash, so that the DEA can interview them -- with an eye toward seizing the cash under federal law if they merely "suspect" that the money is involved in illegal activity. A USA Today investigation, reported in August, revealed that the agency had seized $209 million in a decade, from 5,200 travelers who, even if no criminal charge results, almost never get all their money back (and, of 87 recent cash seizures, only two actually resulted in charges). One Amtrak employee was secretly paid $854,460 over a decade for snitching passenger information to the DEA. [USA Today, 8-11-2016, 1-7-2016]

Update: In August, the Defense Department's inspector general affirmed once again (following on 2013 disclosures) that the agency has little knowledge of where its money goes -- this time admitting that the Department of the Army had made $6.5 trillion in accounting "adjustments" that appeared simply to be made up out of thin air, just to get the books balanced for 2015. (In part, the problem was laid to 16,000 financial data files that simply disappeared with no trace.) "As a result," reported Fortune magazine, "there has been no way to know how the Defense Department -- far and away the biggest chunk of Congress's annual budget -- spends the public's money." [Fortune, 8-19-2016]

Now for some good news about some horrible news:

The July 2012 Aurora, Colorado, theater shooter, James Holmes, is hardly wealthy enough to be sued, so 41 massacre victims and families instead filed against Cinemark Theater for having an unsafe premises, and by August 2016 Cinemark had offered $150,000 as a total settlement. Thirty-seven of the 41 accepted, but four held out since the scaled payout offered only a maximum of $30,000 for the worst-off victims. Following the settlement, the judge, finding that Cinemark could not have anticipated Holmes's attack, ruled for the theater -- making the four holdouts liable under Colorado law for Cinemark's expenses defending against the lawsuit ($699,000). [Los Angeles Times, 8-30-2016]

Of course it's horrible these people were shot -- if that is what happened. ( and other good sites are calling it a false flag operation.) The idea that victims here -- if that's what they are -- should be able to sue the theater simply because the alleged perp has no money is ludicrous. What if the theater has no money, do you sue some organization (e.g. the Chamber of Commerce) of which the theater's a member, or the city council for running an unsafe jurisdiction?

I would hate to be in their shoes -- really would. But if courts are there for justice, it sounds like ground was gained against excessive litigousness and ambulance chasing.

I share all this with you all in hopes that you will -- for instance -- start mining for information damning to the system and sharing it with others in all directions. You see, this news genre does something no others do: demonstrating the complete range of good, bad, hilarious, ironic, tyrannical and twisted things of which humanity and even nature are capable.

So far we're mining just one installment's worth of "NOTW". Get this item from the other side of the world -- isn't it just like life here in the U.S. of A.?

In 2005, India enacted a landmark anti-poverty program, obligating the government to furnish 100 days' minimum-wage work to unskilled laborers (potentially, 70 percent of the country's 1.3 billion people). Programs often fail in India because of rampant corruption, but a recent study by a Cambridge University researcher concluded that the 2005 law is failing for the opposite reason --anti-corruption measures in the program. Its requirement of extreme transparency has created an exponential increase in paperwork (to minimize opportunities for corruption), severely delaying the availability of jobs. [Phys.Org News, 7-21-2016]

I'm back. Spread the world please. More good horrible news next time.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Trump's appointments are extremely dismaying

I want to admire Donald Trump. We all do. Well, we do admire him -- for putatively bolting from the liberal plutocrat herd and undertaking to lead America out of its morass of evil and decadence to glory and excellence.

But he makes it difficult sometimes. Almost every time it's reported he's considering somebody for a particular post in his campaign staff alarm bells go off. For instance:

Icahn endorsed Donald Trump for the 2016 US presidential election. He also announced the formation of a super PAC pledging $150 million to push for corporate tax reform. Icahn will target inversions, which occur when corporations leave the U.S. to take advantage of lower tax rates elsewhere.[66]

Upon becoming the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald J. Trump announced that he would nominate Icahn for Treasury Secretary.

Forgive me for not jumping for joy over this, but Carl Icahn first made a name for himself as corporate raider of a class that brought infamy down on its heads in the 1980s. He tried and fortunately failed to gut Dan River, the 74-year-old textile company my father retired from. His confrères like Ivan Boesky and Michael Milken got in trouble for their epic financial flim-flam back then.

Trump's pick for vice president Mike Pence has a good conservative record on many issues but is terrible on the big one rarely mentioned anymore -- Washington's World War III in the service of Israel. It's the longest aggression in American history, and in concert with the rest of Washington's foreign policy is the main thing keeping planet Earth from finally knowing peace in its first opportunity ever.

Where does Trump stand on this aeonic outrage? That's the question. He's always calling for a bigger, stronger, wealthier military. Why? Mr. Pence is also a 1960s-style war hawk -- apparently we've learned nothing from the Vietnam era:

Now via comes the real Frankenstein moment:

DONALD TRUMP NAMED former CIA director and extremist neoconservative James Woolsey his senior adviser on national security issues on Monday. Woolsey, who left the CIA in 1995, went on to become one of Washington’s most outspoken promoters of U.S. war in Iraq and the Middle East.

As such, Woolsey’s selection either clashes with Trump’s noninterventionist rhetoric — or represents a pivot towards a more muscular, neoconservative approach to resolving international conflicts.

Trump has called the Iraq War “a disaster.”

Woolsey, by contrast, was a key member of the Project for the New American Century — a neoconservative think tank largely founded to encourage a second war with Iraq. Woolsey signed a letter in 1998 calling on Clinton to depose Saddam Hussein and only hours after the 9/11 attacks appeared on CNN and blamed the attacks on Iraq. Woolsey has continued to insist on such a connection despite the complete lack of evidence to support his argument. He also blames Iran.

Weeks before the invasion of Iraq, Woolsey called for broader war in the Middle East, saying “World War IV” was already underway.

Woolsey has also put himself in a position to profit from the wars he has promoted. He has served as vice president of Pentagon contracting giant Booz Allen, and as chairman of Paladin Capital Group, a private equity fund that invests in national security and cybersecurity........ 

Project for the New American Century -- scandalous Department of Homeland Security contractor Booz Allen -- am I really reading this? One some large, life-or-death subjects it must be admitted Trump is a stinking rotten Bushevik neocon. This is horrible, a nightmare that shows again what an acolyte of bastard Israeli power Trump really is.

Yes, we've got to have him for president if it's between him and Hillary, Bernie, Biden or any other criminally insane Democrat. But let's have no illusions about Trump either now or during his reign please. Iraqis, Iranians, Libyans, Ukrainians are people too -- no matter how easy it is to think of them as distant political footballs for our illustrious beltway politicians to take out their life's frustrations on.


Yep -- I'm back. A couple of years concentrating on discussion forums were very fruitful but have run their course. Please let me know what you think and spread the world about this 'umble but unique blog in the ultra-populist Robert B. Clarkson tradition.