- Please send as far and wide as possible.
Editor, The Konformist
Man bulldozes own home to stop bank having it
February 23, 2010
MOSCOW, Ohio - A US man says he bulldozed his $US350,000 ($A389,191) home to keep a bank from foreclosing on it.
Terry Hoskins says he has struggled with the RiverHills Bank over his home in Moscow, Ohio for years and had problems with the Internal Revenue Service. He says the IRS placed liens on his carpet store and commercial property and the bank claimed his house as collateral.
Hoskins says he owes $US160,000 ($A177,916) on the house. He says he spent a lot of money on lawyers and finally had enough. About two weeks ago he bulldozed the home.
Messages were left for the bank and its lawyer.
SAN JOSE, Calif., Feb. 24, 2010
Box of Clean Cheap Energy Blooms in Calif.
Inventor Unveils Much-Hyped Device That Makes Energy From Air, Natural Gas
In California, one energy company said they have the answer to America's power problems with the bloom box. As John Blackstone reports, this idea is backed by some serious celeb-power.
Seldom has the unveiling of a grey box the size of a parking space been surrounded by such hype.
But its inventor says what's inside the box can supply the world with clean, cheap energy, reports CBS News Correspondent John Blackstone.
Following its television debut on CBS News' "60 Minutes" Sunday, the Bloom Box was formally introduced to the public at eBay's headquarters in San Jose, Calif.
"The core of our technology is simply sand," Bloom Energy founder K.R. Sridhar said at Wednesday's unveiling.
The sand is the raw material used to make wafers that can make electricity.
Bloom's fuel cell works like this: Oxygen is pumped in on one side and natural gas on the other. The two combine inside the cell to create a chemical reaction that produces electricity. No burning, no combustion, no power lines from outside.
Bloom's founder has persuaded some big names that by making them out of sand he can make fuel cells that are efficient and inexpensive.
"Will it work for 10 or 20 years without something going wrong? We'll find out," former Secretary of State, Gen. Colin Powell, a Bloom Energy board member, said Wednesday.
Bloom Energy says the best proof that its fuel cells work is in the ones already working like those at eBay's headquarters, but Bloom is not the only company pursuing this kind of technology.
One of Bloom's many competitors, UTC Power has built fuel cells for some supermarkets, a casino and even a high school, but they are expensive. Now the race is on to see who can make them affordable.
A half-dozen big companies have already bought Bloom Boxes at a cost of $700,000 to $800,000. But Sridhar's goal is a $3,000 box that anybody can use to power their home.
"There's always the hope that the price will come all the way down like they did on computers," said University of California Berkeley physicist Richard Muller.
But even the Bloom Box's inventor says home use is 10 years away.
"Don't start signing up for orders yet," said Sridhar. "This is a product of the future."
A future that's at least a decade away.
Entertainment attorney, writer, and political activist
February 23, 2010
The Real Reason Obama's Plan Doesn't Include a Public Option
The reason Robert Gibbs gives for President Obama's health care plan not including a public option -- that despite majority voter support, it can't get 51 Democratic votes in the Senate -- doesn't hold up. The real reason is that Obama made a backroom deal last summer with the for-profit hospital industry that there would be no meaningful public option.
This is one of the great under-reported stories of the health reform saga. Much has been written about the Obama administration's deal with big Pharma to continue to block Medicare from negotiating for lower drug prices or to allow consumers to buy cheaper drugs from Canada, in exchange for Pharma running pro-Democratic ads and giving campaign contributions to Democratic candidates. That's the reason, under pressure from the White House, that Senate Democrats voted down an amendment that would have allowed consumers to buy cheaper drugs from overseas.
But Obama's deal with the for-profit hospital lobby to insure there would be no public option has, as best I can tell, only been reported in two articles in The New York Times. On August 13, The Times reported that while President Obama had presented himself as "aloof from the legislative fray," particularly in connection with the public option, "Behind the scenes, however, Mr. Obama and advisors have been...negotiating deals with a degree of cold-eyed political realism potentially at odds with the president's rhetoric." One of the deals reported in The Times article was the Pharma deal. The other was a deal with the for-profit hospital lobby to limit its cost reductions to $155 billion over 10 years in exchange for a White House promise that there would be no meaningful public option.
According to The Times:
"Several hospital lobbyists involved in the White House deals said it was understood as a condition of their support that the final legislation would not include a government-run health plan paying-Medicare rates...or controlled by the secretary of health and human services. 'We have an agreement with the White House that I'm very confident will be seen all the way through conference', one of the industry lobbyists, Chip Kahn, director of the Federation of American Hospitals, told a Capitol Hill newsletter...Industry lobbyists say they are not worried [about a public option.] 'We trust the White House,' Mr. Kahn said."
Mr. Kahn's lobbying group, with whom the White House made the deal, represents America's investor-owned, hospitals whose profits could be diminished by a public option with the negotiating clout to negotiate lower prices. To say that the deal included ensuring that any public option would not be "controlled by the secretary of health and human services" is code for saying it would not be national in scope and would lack negotiating clout--In other words, the Obama administration made a deal that a national public option on day one comparable to Medicare was off the table.
On September 9, a few weeks after The Times reported Obama's deal to gut the public option, President Obama gave his big health care speech to a Joint Session of Congress. In the speech, Obama said one of the programs he was considering was a "not-for-profit public option available in the insurance exchange." Supporters of the public option took this as a sign that Obama was on their side.
But Washington insiders noticed that Obama parsed his words very carefully. The New York Times noted that:
"Mr. Obama's call for a public plan, however, omitted any discussion of what rates it might pay or who might control it...'He worded it really carefully, because he said 'not for profit' and he didn't say it had to be controlled by the government,' Mr. Kahn [the hospital lobbyist] added. 'The way he described it, we could support that!"
In other words, Obama signaled the private health care industry that his deal that there would be no meaningful public option still stood.
Throughout the process, the White House has given vague statements supporting the public option -- enough to keep liberals and progressive on board -- while repeatedly undermining the public option in practice. Jane Hamsher has written a useful timeline of White House efforts to undermine the public option.
There is no evidence that President Obama has ever twisted the arm of a single Senator to support a public option and plenty of evidence that he has assiduously avoided doing so, sending a message to Senators that he doesn't want a public option. When the Senate passed its version of the health reform bill, the reason the White House gave for there being no public option was that it couldn't garner 60 votes. But Joe Lieberman, who could have been the 60th vote, insists that the Obama administration never pressured him to support either a public option or a Medicare buy-in. And Sen. Russ Feingold blamed the demise of the public option in the Senate on the White House's failure to push for it.
Now the White House is saying they're not including a public option in Obama's plan because they can't get even 51 Democratic votes in the Senate. Does anyone really believe that if President Obama really wanted a public option -- if he hadn't dealt the public option away in a backroom deal with the for-profit hospital industry -- he couldn't get 51 out of 59 members of the Senate Democratic caucus to vote for it?
As a long-time supporter of single payer, I'm not the world's biggest fan of the public option and I've written about its limitations in these pages many times, included here. But at this point, when it comes to health care reform, the Democrats face a Hobson's choice of their own making between two suboptimal alternatives. Either they can use reconciliation to pass a defective health care bill that's supported by only 1/3 of the voters. Or, as in 1993, they can let health reform die for this year. The first choice means passing an unpopular bill, but at least it would show that when Democrats set out to accomplish something, they actually have the strength to do it. The second choice means admitting that their year-long efforts to pass health reform were a failure.
The most popular aspect of health care reform is the public option, which is supported by nearly 60% of voters while the overall bill is supported by only about 33%. Adding a public option to the final legislation may be the only thing that can boost its popularity among voters.
Will the Obama administration continue to cling to its deal with the for-profit hospital industry to block the public option, even at the price of public support? Or will it finally release at least 51 Democratic Senators to include a public option in the final bill through reconciliation? Its decision may be decisive in determining whether President Obama and a Democratic Congress can govern.
Thanks to Rense.com, RawStory.com and others...
Lucille Ball's favorite writer, aside from the wonderful writers of her show, was John Barbour. She said for the ten years that John was the film critic for Los Angeles Magazine, she couldn't wait for the beginning of the month just to read his reviews. And watch him on KNBC's six o'clock news!
And when Bob Wood was President of CBS TV he said, 'If Mark Twain had a microphone and camera, he'd be doing a lot of what John is doing!'
When John was crafting the number one show in TV for three years, his commitment was always to STORY and PURPOSE!
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"...If You Think You Can Mess With My Credit
And I Am Going To Roll Over THINK AGAIN ..."
Dear Mad-As-Hell Consumer:
You are intelligent enough to know that economically our country as a whole seems to
be going thru Hell!
But still, that is nothing compared to the Hell actual individuals are going through.
The unemployed, the homeless, the hungry. Despair is all around us.
And you start to wonder when it will be your turn
There's a FACT: This Credit and Financial mess has broken families, broken men and women and made victims out of children and elderly people.
Frankly, I am MAD AS HELL! ...And I know you are too!
Celebrity, Fashion, Beauty and Style Tips for Women, Health, Expert Advice and more.
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Sunday, Feb 21, 2010
The GOP's "small government" tea party fraud
By Glenn Greenwald
There's a major political fraud underway: the GOP is once again donning their libertarian, limited-government masks in order to re-invent itself and, more important, to co-opt the energy and passion of the Ron-Paul-faction that spawned and sustains the "tea party" movement. The Party that spat contempt at Paul during the Bush years and was diametrically opposed to most of his platform now pretends to share his views. Standard-issue Republicans and Ron Paul libertarians are as incompatible as two factions can be -- recall that the most celebrated right-wing moment of the 2008 presidential campaign was when Rudy Giuliani all but accused Paul of being an America-hating Terrorist-lover for daring to suggest that America's conduct might contribute to Islamic radicalism -- yet the Republicans, aided by the media, are pretending that this is one unified, harmonious, "small government" political movement.
The Right is petrified that this fraud will be exposed and is thus bending over backwards to sustain the myth. Paul was not only invited to be a featured speaker at the Conservative Political Action Conference but also won its presidential straw poll. Sarah Palin endorsed Ron Paul's son in the Kentucky Senate race. National Review is lavishly praising Paul, while Ann Coulter "felt compelled [in her CPAC speech] to give a shout out to Paul-mania, saying she agreed with everything he stands for outside of foreign policy -- a statement met with cheers." Glenn Beck -- who literally cheered for the Wall Street bailout and Bush's endlessly expanding surveillance state -- now parades around as though he shares the libertarians' contempt for them. Red State's Erick Erickson, defending the new so-called conservative "manifesto," touts the need for Congress to be confined to the express powers of Article I, Section 8, all while lauding a GOP Congress that supported countless intrusive laws -- from federalized restrictions on assisted suicide, marriage, gambling, abortion and drugs to intervention in Terri Schiavo's end-of-life state court proceeding -- nowhere to be found in that Constitutional clause. With the GOP out of power, Fox News suddenly started featuring anti-government libertarians such as John Stossel and Reason Magazine commentators, whereas, when Bush was in power, there was no government power too expanded or limitless for Fox propagandists to praise.
This is what Republicans always do. When in power, they massively expand the power of the state in every realm. Deficit spending and the national debt skyrocket. The National Security State is bloated beyond description through wars and occupations, while no limits are tolerated on the Surveillance State. Then, when out of power, they suddenly pretend to re-discover their "small government principles." The very same Republicans who spent the 1990s vehemently opposing Bill Clinton's Terrorism-justified attempts to expand government surveillance and executive authority then, once in power, presided over the largest expansion in history of those very same powers. The last eight years of Republican rule was characterized by nothing other than endlessly expanded government power, even as they insisted -- both before they were empowered and again now -- that they are the standard-bearers of government restraint.
What makes this deceit particularly urgent for them now is that their only hope for re-branding and re-empowerment lies in a movement -- the tea partiers -- that has been (largely though not exclusively) dominated by libertarians, Paul followers, and other assorted idiosyncratic factions who are hostile to the GOP's actual approach to governing. This is a huge wedge waiting to be exposed -- to explode -- as the modern GOP establishment and the actual "small-government" libertarians that fuel the tea party are fundamentally incompatible. Right-wing mavens like Ann Coulter, Sarah Palin and National Review are suddenly feigning great respect for Ron Paul and like-minded activists because they're eager that the sham will be maintained: the blatant sham that the modern GOP and its movement conservatives are a coherent vehicle for those who believe in small government principles. The only evidence of a passionate movement urging GOP resurgence is from people whose views are antithetical to that Party. That's the dirty secret which right-wing polemicists are desperately trying to keep suppressed. Credit to Mike Huckabee for acknowledging this core incompatibility by saying he would not attend CPAC because of its "increasing libertarianism."
These fault lines began to emerge when Sarah Palin earlier this month delivered the keynote speech to the national tea party conference in Nashville, and stood there spitting out one platitude after the next which Paul-led libertarians despise: from neoconservative war-loving dogma and veneration of Israel to glorification of "War on Terror" domestic powers and the need of the state to enforce Palin's own religious and cultural values. Neocons (who still overwhelmingly dominate the GOP) and Paul-led libertarians are arch enemies, and the social conservatives on whom the GOP depends are barely viewed with greater affection. Sarah Palin and Ron Paul are about as far apart on most issues as one can get; the "tea party movement" can't possibly be about supporting each of their worldviews. Moreover, the GOP leadership is currently promising Wall Street even more loyal subservience than Democrats have given in exchange for support, thus bolstering the government/corporate axis which libertarians find so repugnant. And Coulter's manipulative claim that she "agrees with everything [Paul] stands for outside of foreign policy" is laughable; aside from the fact that "foreign policy" is a rather large issue in our political debates (Iraq, Israel, Afghanistan, Iran, Russia), they were on exactly the opposite sides of the most intense domestic controversies of the Bush era: torture, military commissions, habeas corpus, Guantanamo, CIA secrecy, telecom immunity, and warrantless eavesdropping.
Part of why this fraud has been sustainable thus far is that libertarians -- like everyone who doesn't view all politics through the mandated, distorting, suffocating Democrat v. GOP prism -- are typically dismissed as loons and nuts, and are thus eager for any means of achieving mainstream acceptance. Having the GOP embrace them is one way to achieve that (Karl Rove: some "see the tea party movement as a recruiting pool for volunteers for Ron Paul's next presidential bid . . . . The Republican Party and the tea party movement have many common interests"). Additionally, just as the Paul-faction of libertarians is in basic harmony with many progressives on issues of foreign policy and civil liberties, they do subscribe to the standard GOP rhetoric on domestic spending, social programs and the like.
But that GOP limited government rhetoric is simply never matched by that Party's conduct, especially when they wield power. The very idea that a political party dominated by neocons, warmongers, surveillance fetishists, and privacy-hating social conservatives will be a party of "limited government" is absurd on its face. There literally is no myth more transparent than the Republican Party's claim to believe in restrained government power. For that reason, it's only a matter of time before the fundamental incompatibility of the "tea party movement" and the political party cynically exploiting it is exposed.
Royal astronomer: 'Aliens may be staring us in the face'
Aliens may be "staring us in the face" in a form humans are unable to recognise, the Queen's astronomer has said.
22 Feb 2010
Aliens may be 'staring us in the face' according to Lord Martin Rees, the president of the Royal Society Lord Martin Rees, president of the Royal Society and astronomer to the Queen, said the existence of extra terrestrial life may be beyond human understanding.
He made the remarks shortly after hosting the national science academy's first conference on the possibility of alien life.
"They could be staring us in the face and we just don't recognise them. The problem is that we're looking for something very much like us, assuming that they at least have something like the same mathematics and technology," he said.
"I suspect there could be life and intelligence out there in forms we can't conceive. Just as a chimpanzee can't understand quantum theory, it could be there as aspects of reality that are beyond the capacity of our brains."
Lord Rees used the conference in January, entitled The Detection of Extra-terrestrial Life and the Consequences for Science and Society, to ask whether the discovery of aliens would cause terror or delight on earth.
He told Prospect magazine that improved telescopes made the chance of finding extra-terrestrial life "better than ever".
But Dr Frank Drake, the world's leading "ET hunter", told the conference that satellite TV and the "digital revolution" was making humanity invisible to aliens by cutting the transmission of TV and radio signals into space.
At present, the Earth is surrounded by a 50 light year-wide "shell" of radiation from analogue TV, radio and radar transmissions. But although the signals have spread far enough to reach many nearby star systems, they are rapidly vanishing in the wake of digital technology, according to Dr Drake.
The scientist, who founded the Search for Extra-terrestrial Intelligence organisation in the United States, said digital TV signals would look like noise to a race of observing aliens.