- Please send as far and wide as possible.
Editor, The Konformist
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From Kenn Thomas on SteamshovelPress.com:
5/7/11: Two lite left opinion spots on the interweb recently ran essays attacking conspiracy theorists; Alternet bemoans the "more lax personal morality" of this imaginary category of people and the writer at Salon has problems with the "hundreds of little confusing bits of information" they seem to require when looking at and thinking about the world.
Steamshovel asked Konformist Rob what he thought about it and he replied:
What is telling about both the Alternet and Salon hit jobs on conspiracy theory is they are both written from a supposed liberal perspective. This is no surprise, as what is left of liberalism (which fortunately isn't very much) has devolved in less than four years into a pathetic group of lapdogs and apologists for Barack Obama. This is what I warned about and expected with the 2008 takeover of the Democratic Party by the Obama Koolaid Kult. As liberalism has bottomed out in its depraved bankruptcy, it stands for nothing but defending a man who stands for nothing. The end result is any criticism of the political establishment (which, at its best, is what conspiracy theory is all about) that Obama now heads is considered a swipe at their naked emperor.
The good news is that even most fervent former supporters of Obama, after countless betrayals, see Obama for the backstabbing fraud he is. Even if they "support" him, it is merely cynically tactical of the "best of the worst" sort. Sadly, they are being shut out and marginalized, although hopefully that will radicalize them beyond the current frame of debate.
In any case, Obama has sanctioned the criminal theft by Wall Street, embraced the neocon military vision, and proposed austerity when a New Deal is needed. And what do the yuppie scum who have taken over liberalism get their panties wet over? Questions from a second-rate Reality TV game-show host with a bad hairpiece about Obama's birth certificate. Frankly, I think Obama should thank Donald Trump for letting him off so easy...
Rob later noted:
I actually have to agree with the argument that showing the [bin Laden death] photos won't silence the conspiracy theories. Certainly photos of Osama's supposed recent death won't sway me much in the age of Photoshop. Indeed, you could make the argument that the whole Birther conspiracy and the release of the alleged COLB was a dry run to test the public response, and they can cite the skepticism on the validity of that to argue releasing the photos will settle nothing...
The World Did Not End on May 21st
Please return to normal activities...
Lindsay Lohan 4 Prez 2012
Photo courtesy of Adam Gorightly:
The Masks of Imperialism
Thanks to Jaye Beldo...
After approving NBC buyout, FCC Commish becomes Comcast lobbyist
Meredith Attwell Baker, one of the two Republican Commissioners at the Federal Communications Commission, plans to step downand right into a top lobbying job at Comcast-NBC.
The news, reported this afternoon by the Wall Street Journal, The Hill, and Politico, comes after the hugely controversial merger of Comcast and NBC earlier this year. At the time, Baker objected to FCC attempts to impose conditions on the deal and argued that the "complex and significant transaction" could "bring exciting benefits to consumers that outweigh potential harms."
Four months after approving the massive transaction, Attwell Baker will take a top DC lobbying job for the new Comcast-NBC entity, according to reports.
The response of groups like Free Press was expected in its anger, but not without merit. "No wonder the public is so nauseated by business as usual in Washingtonwhere the complete capture of government by industry barely raises any eyebrows," said Free Press' Craig Aaron. "The continuously revolving door at the FCC continues to erode any prospects for good public policy. We hopebut won't hold our breaththat her replacement will be someone who is not just greasing the way for their next industry job."
Such cash-ins, of course, are a bipartisan affair in Washington.
Attwell Baker this afternoon released a statement once the news broke, explaining that she would leave on June 3 and that she was "privileged to have had the opportunity to serve the country at a time of critical transformation in the telecommunications industry. The continued deployment of our broadband infrastructures will meaningfully impact the lives of all Americans. I am happy to have played a small part in this success."
Kan Orders Operations Halt at Chubu Plant
TOKYO Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Friday submitted a formal request for a halt to all electricity production at Chubu Electric Power Co.'s Hamaoka nuclear power plant in the central Chubu region due to concerns about the plant's preparedness for a major earthquake.
The move immediately affects the No. 4 and 5 units, which are currently operating with an output of around 2,500 megawatts. In addition, it cancels the potential resumption of electricity production at the No. 3 unit, which has a capacity of 1,100 megawatts and is currently on a planned maintenance outage.
In announcing the shutdown, Mr. Kan noted that the Science Ministry estimates an 87% chance of a massive magnitude 8 earthquake in the region over the next 30 years.
"I have requested Chubu Electric to suspend operation of all nuclear reactors at Hamaoka. The reason for this is for the safety of the Japanese people," Mr. Kan said in a televised news conference.
He said the shutdowns would be in effect until appropriate safety measures can be taken, but gave no time frame.
The move will worsen the already constrained power supply situation as Japan enters its highest-demand summer period following the shutdown of nuclear plants following the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami. But Kan said that the government hoped to avoid major disruptions due to the additional outages.
"I believe that we can overcome the risk of a power shortage with the cooperation of the Japanese public," Mr. Kan said.
Kyodo News quoted the company as saying that it had ordered a suspension of all operations at the plant.
Mr. Kan's high-profile closure of the plant comes after criticism that the facility was not adequately prepared for a major quake and that the government was not doing enough to protect against the risk of a second nuclear power plant crisis after the Daiichi crisis became the second-worst nuclear accident on record.
Briefing reporters after Mr. Kan's statement, Trade Minister Banri Kaieda said that the government was asking neighboring Kansai Electric Power Co. for potential assistance.
However, Kansai Electric announced just hours earlier that it was shutting down its own Tsuruga No. 2 plant with an output of around 1,100 megawatts after finding elevated radiation levels in its cooling water. It stressed that there was no release of radiation in the incident but needed to make checks on whether one or more of the fuel rods might have been damaged, allowing small amounts of fuel to leak out.
A Kansai Electric spokeswoman said the company would try every alternative measures to provide sufficient power, including asking help from adjacent Chubu Electric, Chugoku Electric Power Co. and Shikoku Electric Power Co.
Nevertheless, if many of the nuclear power reactors supplying electricity for Kansai remain idle and if temperatures are high this summer, Japan's second-largest power utility, based in Osaka, may have to ask its customers to save electricity, including implementing planned power outages.
In response to the March 11 quake and tsunami, Mr. Kaieda has ordered over the past two months all nine utilities operating nuclear power plants to enhance safety against earthquake and tsunami such as equipping more backup power sources and making doors water-proof.
The nine utilities have implemented some of the measures and reported to the government with schedules to undertake the remaining safety work.
Mari Iwata contributed to this article.
Write to Hiroyuki Kachi at hiroyuki.kachi@...
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Actually, "The Rich" Don't "Create Jobs," We Do.
May 13, 2011
You hear it again and again, variation after variation on a core message: if you tax rich people it kills jobs. You hear about "job-killing tax hikes," or that "taxing the rich hurts jobs," "taxes kill jobs," "taxes take money out of the economy, "if you tax the rich they won't be able to provide jobs." ... on and on it goes. So do we really depend on "the rich" to "create" jobs? Or do jobs get created when they fill a need?
Here is a recent typical example, Obama Touts Job-Killing Tax Plan, written by a "senior fellow at the Cato Institute and chairman of the Institute for Global Economic Growth":
Some people, in their pursuit of profit, benefit their fellow humans by creating new or better goods and services, and then by employing others. We call such people entrepreneurs and productive workers.
Others are parasites who suck the blood and energy away from the productive. Such people are most often found in government.
Perhaps the most vivid description of what happens to a society where the parasites become so numerous and powerful that they destroy their productive hosts is Ayn Rand's classic novel "Atlas Shrugged."
Producers and Parasites
The idea that there are producers and parasites as expressed in the example above has become a core philosophy of conservatives. They claim that wealthy people "produce" and are rich because they "produce." The rest of us are "parasites" who suck blood and energy from the productive rich, by taxing them. In this belief system, We, the People are basically just "the help" who are otherwise in the way, and taxing the producers to pay for our "entitlements." We "take money" from the producers through taxes, which are "redistributed" to the parasites. They repeat the slogan, "Taxes are theft," and take the "money we earned" by "force" (i.e. government.)
Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner echoes this core philosophy of "producers" and "parasites," saying yesterday,
I believe raising taxes on the very people that we expect to reinvest in our economy and to hire people is the wrong idea," he said. "For those people to give that money to the government means it wont get reinvested in our economy at a time when we're trying to create jobs."
"The very people" who "hire people" shouldn't have to pay taxes because that money is then taken out of the productive economy and just given to the parasites -- "the help" -- meaning you and me...
So is it true? Do "they" create jobs? Do we "depend on" the wealthy to "create jobs?"
Demand Creates Jobs
I used to own a business and have been in senior positions at other businesses, and I know many others who have started and operated businesses of all sizes. I can tell you from direct experience that I tried very hard to employ the right number of people. What I mean by this is that when there were lots of customers I would add people to meet the demand. And when demand slacked off I had to let people go.
If I had extra money I wouldn't just hire people to sit around and read the paper. And if I had more customers than I could handle that -- the revenue generated by meeting the additional demand from the extra customers -- is what would pay for employing more people to meet the demand. It is a pretty simple equation: you employ the right number of people to meet the demand your business has.
If you ask around you will find that every business tries to employ the right number of people to meet the demand. Any business owner or manager will tell you that they hire based on need, not on how much they have in the bank.
Taxes make absolutely no difference in the hiring equation. In fact, paying taxes means you are already making money, which means you have already hired the right number of people. Taxes are based on subtracting your costs from your revenue, and if you have profits after you cover your costs, then you might be taxed. You don't even calculate your taxes until well after the hiring decision has been made. You don't lay people off to "cover" your taxes. And even if you did lay people off to "cover' taxes it would lower your costs and you would have more profit, which means you would have more taxes... except that laying someone off when you had demand would cause you to have less revenue... and you see how ridiculous it is to associate taxes with hiring at all!
People coming in the door and buying things is what creates jobs.
The Rich Do Not Create Jobs
Lots of regular people having money to spend is what creates jobs and businesses. That is the basic idea of demand-side economics and it works. In a consumer-driven economy designed to serve people, regular people with money in their pockets is what keeps everything going. And the equal opportunity of democracy with its reinvestment in infrastructure and education and the other fruits of democracy is fundamental to keeping a demand-side economy functioning.
When all the money goes to a few at the top everything breaks down. Taxing the people at the top and reinvesting the money into the democratic society is fundamental to keeping things going.
Democracy Creates Jobs
This idea that a few wealthy people -- the "producers" -- hand everything down to the rest of us -- "the parasites" -- is fundamentally at odds with the concept of democracy. In a democracy we all have an equal voice and an equal stake in how our society and our economy does. We do not "depend" on the good graces of a favored few for our livelihoods. We all are supposed to have an equal opportunity, and equal rights. And there are things we are all entitled to -- "entitlements" -- that we get just because we were born here. But we all share in the responsibility to cover the costs of democracy -- with the rich having a greater responsibility than the rest of us because they receive the most benefit from it. This is why we have "progressive taxes" where the rates are supposed to go up as the income does.
Taxes Are The Lifeblood Of Democracy And The Prosperity That Democracy Produces
In a democracy the rich are supposed to pay more to cover things like building and maintaining the roads and schools because these are the things that enable their wealth. They actually do use the roads and schools more because the roads enable their businesses to prosper and the schools provide educated employees. But it isn't just that the rich use roads more, it is that everyone has a right to use roads and a right to transportation because we are a democracy and everyone has the same rights. And as a citizen in a democracy you have an obligation to pay your share for that.
A democracy is supposed have a progressive tax structure that is in proportion to the means to pay. We do this because those who get more from the system do so because the democratic system offers them that ability. Their wealth is because of our system and therefore they owe back to the system in proportion. (Plus, history has taught the lesson that great wealth opposes democracy, so democracy must oppose the accumulation of great, disproportional wealth. In other words, part of the contract of living in a democracy is your obligation to protect the democracy and high taxes at the top is one of those protections.)
The conservative "producer and parasite" anti-tax philosophy is fundamentally at odds with the concepts of democracy (which they proudly acknowledge - see more here, and here) and should be understood and criticized as such. Taxes do not "take money out of the economy" they enable the economy. The rich do not "create jobs", We, the People create jobs.
U.S. gov't mandates special chip in all cellphones
Users can't opt out of presidential messages
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
According to The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Personal Localized Alerting Network (PLAN) is a new system that allows users who own an enabled mobile device to receive geographically-targeted, text-like messages alerting them of imminent threats to safety in their area. The alerts, currently being rolled out in New York City and Washington D.C. and expected to be in place in those cities by the end of 2011, would be done through a special chip to be installed on new handheld devices. It will use GPS technology and will send some of the alerts based on the location of the phone user. The alert system is expected to be instituted in rest of the U.S. by April 2012. Certain high-end cell phones are PLAN-enabled, but starting next year, all cellphones will be required to have the chip that receives alerts.
The Warning, Alert and Response Network (WARN) Act requires participating wireless carriers to activate PLAN technology by a deadline determined by the FCC, which is April 2012. Participants that will offer PLAN ahead of schedule include AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon.
How Does PLAN Work?
Authorized national, state or local government officials send alerts to PLAN.
PLAN authenticates the alert, verifies that the sender is authorized, and sends it to participating wireless carriers.
Participating wireless carriers push the alerts from cell towers to mobile phones in the affected area. The alerts appear like text messages on mobile devices.
These "text-like messages" are geographically targeted. For example, a customer living in downtown New York would not receive a threat alert if they happen to be in Chicago when the alert is sent. Similarly, someone visiting downtown New York from Chicago on that same day would receive the alert. This requires a PLAN enabled mobile device and participation by the wireless provider in PLAN.
Users are automatically enrolled, as PLAN allows government officials to send "text-like messages" to all subscribers with PLAN-enabled devices if their wireless carrier participates in the program. Users do not sign up for this service. Users do not pay to receive "text-like messages" from PLAN which will be accompanied by a unique attention signal and vibration, which is particularly helpful to people with hearing or vision-related disabilities.
According to FEMA, users will receive three types of alerts from PLAN: (1) alerts issued by the president; (2) alerts involving imminent threats to safety of life; and (3) Amber Alerts. Participating carriers may allow subscribers to block alerts involving imminent threats to safety of life and/or Amber Alerts, but not presidential alerts. Presidential alerts are required of cellphone users and cannot be turned off.
MacDailyNews Take: We get "text-like messages" all day long; no "special chip" required. What else, if anything, does this "special chip" do? Is it just us or did the slope just get slipperier?
Yeah, yeah, we know: This is for our protection. It's only for public safety. The government chip is "special." Take off the tinfoil hats. This is a "Good Thing. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.
We have to wonder, though. What's next? Maybe we'd all be "safer" if the government could use their federally-mandated "special chip" to turn on your cellphone cameras in "an emergency" in order to get a look at what's going on around you? And your phones' microphones, so the government can hear, too? How else could government-mandated special chips be used to make us "safer?"
Has anyone read Nineteen Eighty-Four recently?
You know what? The world is a dangerous place and you can't protect everyone from everything. We'd rather retain what freedoms we have left and take our chances than to be forced to carry special government-mandated chips and receive presidential "text-like messages" that we can't turn off, if we simply want to carry our cellphones.
They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.