The U.S. Navy will be unable to continue long-term operations against pirates off the coast of Somalia, and it's looking for other ways to solve the growing problem, according to a top admiral.
As Somali pirates continue to find attacking cargo ships in the West Indian Ocean profitable, they have become more and more aggressive, forcing the international community to send naval ships from more than a dozen countries to help patrol the vast waters off Somalia.
But the patrols are expensive and deprive the global fleet of precious resources, and they can't continue such costly operations, says Adm. Mark Fitzgerald, the top naval commander in Europe and Africa.
"I don't think we can sustain the level of operation we've got down there forever," said Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald did not indicate the Navy would abandon the mission any time soon. Instead, his remarks suggest that the answer to piracy may lie elsewhere --- especially if it becomes a more violent activity. He says the shipping industry should ensure it is doing everything to deter attacks, including hiring armed security guards, as well as taking other nonlethal actions to thwart pirates.
"The maritime industry has got to make a decision about how seriously they want to take this on," he said, in a roundtable discussion with reporters at the Pentagon this week.
About 40 naval vessels patrol those waters at any one time, including as many as 10 U.S. Navy ships. Those patrols have been effective. The U.S. Navy's presence alone has thwarted several attacks, including one Friday in which a helicopter from the destroyer Farragut scared off an attack from a pirate skiff. Last week, the USS Ashland, a Navy amphibious ship, received small-arms fire from a pirate skiff. When the ship returned fire and the skiff caught fire, the pirates jumped into the water and Navy personnel rescued them. Over the past 12 days, the Navy has apprehended 21 suspected pirates.
The industry has resisted hiring security guards in part out of fear of escalating the violence on the high seas. There are also legal issues with having weapons aboard ships that port in various countries, industry officials have said.
The Maersk Alabama, a U.S.-flagged ship, was pirated twice, including once last year when its captain was held until the pirates were killed by U.S. military sharpshooters. The second time it was attacked, it had armed security guards aboard who thwarted the attack. But those guards were there because the U.S. government contracts with Maersk Line to ship military supplies to the war zone.
"Our company policy is we don't want weapons on board our vessels, and we don't allow them except in instances where governments or authorities mandate us to do so," says Kevin Speers, a spokesman for Maersk Line, Limited. He noted that various carriers, including his own, have taken a number of nonlethal measures to avoid attack.
Legal issues with captured pirates
From the U.S. Navy's point of view, there are long-term legal questions about what to do with captured pirates. Typically, they are low-level operators from Somalia who provide little in the way of useful intelligence for addressing a problem that costs the shipping industry millions of dollars a year.
Fitzgerald says the solution is for the U.S. to go after the source of piracy. While he didn't rule out using military force, he said following the money might be a good place to start. Kenyan officials have told Fitzgerald that money from Somalia is being used to buy up high-end real estate there and in Ethiopia with what appears to be the proceeds from piracy.
Indeed, the U.S. has begun to get serious about going after money earned by pirates. President Obama on Tuesday gave Treasury officials additional powers to sanction or freeze assets of individuals involved in piracy, the Associated Press reported. According to the executive order signed by Obama, the justification for the broader powers is U.S. national security.
"The deterioration of the security situation and the persistence of violence in Somalia, and acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia, constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States," writes Obama in his executive order.
All drinks in the Club are 1 virtual Fred Buck today, balance on my tab. And the first 5 people who belly up to the bar drink a round for free. If you ask AutoBartender really nicely he might bring out the good stuff from the back ...
I'm for a club soda with lime on lotp's tab. See the rest of you at the O Club! (For those who haven't been, the link is in the yellow box in the right hand margin. One needn't be an officer to drink there -- even little suburban housewives and engineers of all sorts are welcome, not to mention lawyers and Indian chiefs from both continents.)
Back to the topic at hand: I'd vote for sinking mother ships and hanging the crew after a drumhead court martial, but that seems to be out of the question these days. Next best option seems to be paying Kenya to try and jail the miscreants for a decade apiece. On a separate tack, those shipping lines that refuse to carry armed guards should be required to pay their share of the cost of patrolling the region. Not that it seems likely to ever happen.
Patrol with a preditor, sink the boats on sight and relay the SOS to the Somalie coast guard. Ya I know, coast guard has no boats. FMS grant them a 22' bayrunner and a radio. problem solved.
Posted by: 49 Pan ||
04/22/2010 17:52 Comments ||
Stop subsidizing foreign shipping companies. How many hundreds of millions of dollars is the American taxpayer shelling out to protect foreign shipping? STOP IT. Encourage American shipping (what tiny bit there is shipping free food to those same prates) to go heavily armed and let skyrocketing insurance rates encourage the shipping nations to find an optimum solution.
A former Little League coach to the sons of Larry King and estranged wife Shawn Southwick claims he had an affair with Southwick -- but says King didn't care because he was carrying on with Southwick's sister, Shannon Engemann.
"I still think to this day that Larry is in love with Shawn's sister," Hector Penate, 31, told In Touch magazine out today.
Penate says he started sleeping with 50-year-old MILF Southwick 2½ weeks after they met in 2007, when Penate was the baseball coach for the couple's sons, Chance, 11, and Cannon, 9.
"We had sex in Larry's bed -- a lot," Penate said. "I had sex with Shawn while Larry was on TV. Our sex life was real good." I hope you got some pix you can sell now because your job as a coach is toast.
*sigh* Whatever happened to the dictum, "A gentleman never tells"?
Penate also said Southwick wanted to have a baby with him: "She was trying to fertilize her eggs to do that."
Southwick allegedly lavished Penate with gifts, including a BMW 7 Series, and paid his rent. What's more, says Penate, Southwick had King co-sign the lease for Penate's Studio City, Calif., apartment. "She controlled him," Penate tells the magazine. "He just sat there and signed it."
Penate also claims King didn't mind Penate's antics since he was allegedly cheating on Southwick with her sister, Engemann, 45. King hinted to Penate about his attraction to Engemann. "He told me one time, 'Have you ever seen Shannon?' After I said that I had never met her, he said, 'Oh, oh -- she's really gorgeous!' "
Southwick has previously denied having affair with Penate, and Engemann has denied to The Post that she had an affair with King, calling the accusation "ludicrous." I dunno, the guy's been married nine times.
Last week, King and Southwick were heading for divorce after nearly 13 years of marriage, but it's now on hold. "It was decided that there will be no divorce activity for two weeks as several issues need to be discussed and resolved," King's lawyer, Dennis Wasser, said in a statement Monday. Maybe Shawn is having an affair with Larry now?
A rep for King had no comment on the In Touch story. Sheesh, is he doing her too?
While the EUnik bureaucrats shut everything down, we Yanks have already figured out what to do about flying when volcanic ash is nearby. All they had to do is ask us......
Alaska Airlines knows volcanic ash. Its decades of experience navigating around volcanic eruptions in Washington and Alaska could prove useful as airlines return to Europe's ash-plagued skies.
Among the lessons: Pilot training, computer modeling to accurately predict ash trajectories and regular testing of the skyways when eruptions occur are crucial to maintaining safety and keeping planes flying. The Alaska Airlines experience suggests a volcanic eruption in Iceland doesn't have to ground all flights in Northern Europe--there are ways to work around it. Logic, common sense, the scientific method, and curiosity helps. Continued on Page 49
Posted by: Alaska Paul ||
04/22/2010 17:40 ||
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Over here, we work with the Alaska Volcanic Observatory for seismic data to monitor volcanoes, then correlate that with satellite imagery, working together with the FAA and the airlines.
Chicago native Ben loves his country and is proud to be an American. Yet the longtime resident of Melbourne has just relinquished his U.S. citizenship. "This is not something I did lightly or happily, but I saw no other choice," says Ben, a businessman who became an Australian citizen two years ago.
His words resonate with another American expatriate, John, a business owner based near Lausanne, Switzerland, who like Ben asked that his last name be withheld for fear of alienating his family in the U.S. "Giving up my U.S. citizenship is a genuine option," says the Ohio native, who recently received his Swiss passport and is considering relinquishing his American one. "I am at a breaking point -- being American costs me time [and] money, but mostly aggravation."
For U.S. citizens, cutting ties with their native land is a drastic and irrevocable step. But as Overseas American Week, a lobbying effort by expatriate-advocacy groups, convenes in Washington this week, it's one that an increasing number of American expats are willing to take. According to government records, 502 expatriates renounced U.S. citizenship or permanent residency in the fourth quarter of 2009 -- more than double the number of expatriations in all of 2008. And these figures don't include the hundreds -- some experts say thousands -- of applications languishing in various U.S. consulates and embassies around the world, waiting to be processed. While a small number of Americans hand in their passports each year for political reasons, the new surge in permanent expatriations is mainly because of taxes.
Continued on Page 49
Good point Glenmore. I've just never cared much for the duely passport crowd. Few of them are US military pensioners I can assure you. Harkens back to those who slipped across the border to Canada back in the 1960's. Of course Barry could end all of this madness by granting them all tax amnesty (call it 'Foreign Earned Income Tax Credit') in exchange for the obvious commitment of lifetime Democratic absentee voting.
Besoeker, I get where you're coming from, but how American can you live when you're existing in a high-tax, hyperregulatory society whose government mocks authentic American values? Should they stay here and watch their government not only take their money, but also demonize them and their beliefs and values using the propaganda organs of the MSM and NPR/PBS and uses the apparatus of state to relieve them of property and liberty - or do they leave for a bit until things turn around because they have the means, knowing that there's a good chance things will change to something more favorable at some future date?
Are you simply angry because you (like most of us) don't have the means, financially or otherwise, to go somewhere else to ride out the storm?
Isn't being an American, a REAL American, awfully difficult in postmodern, Obama-soaked times? I think you agree that it is. Leaving is running away in your mind. In their minds it is simply a logical response to remove themselves from a bad situation. I think the truth is that their move away is a little bit of both.
It may be that these guys are motivated purely by money. If so, it's their right, though like you I may not respect them. Are there other reasons they're leaving that have to do with things other than money? Then I'm not sure. Stay and fight is certainly a noble notion, but the options aren't necessarily evil.
Posted by: no mo uro ||
04/22/2010 8:10 Comments ||
Are you simply angry because you (like most of us) don't have the means, financially or otherwise, to go somewhere else to ride out the storm?
Angry yep. Onset of anger came in Nov 2008 as I recall. Didn't take a political scientist to see all of this coming. You leave, the communist bastards WIN! Good men died to keep this country free, a lot of them. My kids are here slugging it out in the work place. I'll be burried here, up at Cherokee probably. 775 beautiful acres. You can visit me there. I just hope and pray I live long enough to piss on the communist bastard's grave. Probably won't, but I can encourage others.
the new surge in permanent expatriations is mainly because of taxes.
by relinquishing their U.S. citizenship, expats can not only escape the financial burden of double taxation, but also strengthen the U.S. economy, he says, adding, "It will become much easier for these people to get a job abroad, and to set up, own and operate private companies that can promote American exports."
The Golden Goose gets a double croak!
I wonder how bad things would have to get before many would consider going somewhere else? Before things got so bad one would consider leaving, I would anticipate many in this would search out other alternatives within the country, e.g. voting in 2010. If that didn't not change the political landscape many would consider legal avenues such as are going on now, i.e. the states suing the federal government, taxpayer lawsuits, etc. If that didn't work, one can only imagine some of the things that might happen from civil disobedience to increasing violence.
I agree American citizenship is very valuable and the privileges should only extend to those holding it. Most ex-pats I know relocated because of employment opportunities not available here and it is not likely to look up anytime soon. I guess if struggling to eat, it could be tempting to give up, but it is the benefits the taxpayers are supplying to illegals that burns me. It is the Soros' of the bunch that avoid paying their taxes altogether using offshore accounts, while advocating global taxes to add to the burden of the rest of us peons. It is the inequitable application of law at the heart of the problem but that is unlikely to look up anytime soon, either.
I hold not animosity toward these people. I'll be retired from the mil within the next decade...after that and, barring a war I would feel little loyalty to a people that continually vote in socialists and fools. If there was another country that had sanity level taxes, respect for gun owners, free speech and a decent level of safety I might be tempted to take the family and go to...however, I've not seen a place like that yet. In the end, I didn't leave America, America left me.
or, the third way is for either voting out all the socialists or having an article 5 constitutional convention and having the states re-assert their sovereignty over those issues that are strictly in their domain. If not, maybe a true tax revolution ought to occur w/mass amounts of folks going gault. Or, finally, armed citizens may have to persuade tryanical lawmakers to leave office or be tarred/feathered.
Is there anywhere that they break it down further....as in citizen by birth vs. naturalized? I imagine it might be easier for a naturalized citizen to do this, since in many cases their original countries may still consider him/her one of theirs (like Russia does with the Tsar).
Actually I've been wondering lately how much of US immigration policy over the last twenty years has been implemented to keep Russians from emigrating from Russia to the US, and saving Russia from the sort of brain-drain that would result. The elite's shifting of immigration to mainly being illiterate peons from Mexico not only causes problems here in and of itself, it crowds out immigration of _skilled_ labor, keeping them home and on the plantations of whatever Party runs their home country.
The "Former" Soviets don't have to worry too much about emigration to the West if the West has rewritten its immigration policy so that anyone who isn't an unskilled Mexican is basically SOL.
Just some paranoid thoughts upon this Thursday morn.
Besoeker, not to speak for TFSM, but Russia is home to some of the most brilliant mathematicians and scientists in the world. And programmers. It's no coincidence that a large number of hackers come from Russia. Unfortunately, when your country's government is overrun with corruption, it's hard to make an honest living. So, the options are to leave the country for greener pastures or to turn to crime.
Snowy's on target. For every well-educated manager, entrepreneur, engineer or financier America sends overseas, we import about 5x as many illiterate campesinos from Mexico and points south. Singapore/Hong Kong/E.Europe's etc gain is America's loss.
The consequences are seen only in retrospect, but they're staggering: we're essentially creaming off the educated and productive classes and replacing them with a 10-million strong second underclass.
For a glimpse of these consequences, look at California over the last 15 years. Millions of entrepreneurs, small business owners and college-educated professionals have left the state for more lower-tax, less expensive locales in TX, UT etc., and millions of illiterate and semi-literate campesinos have moved into CA during the same period. The state has gone from fiscal health to bankruptcy. The public schools have gone from best in the nation to worst-- almost entirely due to the impact of 75%+ failure rates for the now-majority hispanic/latino student population. Over 90 emergency rooms have closed in LA alone, the prisons are overflowing etc etc.
The Mexification of America. Coming to your town soon.
A. Doubt Bammo gives a rats ass. He'd probably just as soon replace those numbers 100 fold with an illegal amnesty here.
B. Used to work with a woman who did this. Left the US for the UK due to defaulted student loans. The way she saw it, she had no choice.
C. Am a little curious why these folks bother renouncing their US citizenship. You'd think most of them could easily avoid the double tax problem by hiding foreign income. In fact, I'd guess that for every 1 turning in his passport there are at least 100 more who just aren't playing by the rules.
Mexification = feature, not bug, of the Dems' "Emerging Majority" strategy (cf Ruy Texeira's book by the same name). Hollow out the middle and upper-middle classes, shovel favors to labor aristocrats like the UAW and latino-heavy public sector unions like SEIU, and coddle the oligarchs at Goldman and across Wall Street. The left-wing Dem strategy is to attain electoral dominance by making US society resemble Latin America: a struggling and shrinking middle class squeezed between huge, left-wing, powerful public sector unions; a swelling and permanently dependent underclass; and corrupt oligarchs who supply money and favors to the political class.
On that last point, cf Rahm Emanuel's multi-million $$$$$$ gig for Wasserstein Perella pimping the Clinton White House donor list in 1999-2001, or Gore's sweetheart deals with DoE for his ludicrous electric car startup, or the former White House counsel who's now whoring for Goldman as its Skadden Arps counselor, or....
You'd think most of them could easily avoid the double tax problem by hiding foreign income. lblis
USG is attempting to tighten up the foreign income thing. I don't think they'll be very successful. Not a sympathetic audience to say the least. Rules are different in Europe. No rules in Africa, LA, or the ME, just who do you pay off and how often. The underground economy IS the economy in many parts of the world.
As concerns America's still-dominant news organ, it's Mexification in the literal sense: Carlos Slim, the Mexican thief who wangled control of Mexico's monopoly phone provider and has milked it for billions (the man's richer than Buffett or Gates), is now the dominant shareholder in the New York Times.
Wonder how our political class really feels about the (increasingly likely) prospect that first our media organizations and then increasing chunks of our financial and industrial concerns will be owned by or dominated by foreign oligarchs ....
My guess is that they'll figure out a way to get kickbacks for themselves and their spawn, and gladly barter some political influence for continued campaign contributions and favorable regulations to our new oligarchic overlords.
The period between 1980 and 2000 was dominated by increasing democracy and expanding free markets.
The period 2010-2030 will be characterized by diminished democracy and increasing consolidation of power by financial-political elites. The Age of Oligarchy is upon us.
US expats will shift money out of the Swiss etc financial institutions targeted by the IRS and into real assets like overseas property and perhaps gold. The investor Jim Rogers, now permanently ensconced with his family in Singapore, is on record as predicting hyperinflation and a commodities boom. He recommends purchasing undervalued farmland.
If we go back to the 1970s, then property, especially undervalued overseas property in E Europe and SE Asia is probably where much of the expats' wealth will flow.
More and more US retirees will follow suit and relocate abroad. Eventually, the nation will consist of a tiny oligarchic class at the top, an enormous public sector class, and a large and dependent underclass, with a small, aging and shrinking middle class that's increasingly squeezed by high inflation and high taxes.
This is the latin model to perfection. Habla oligarco?
Some lucky countries , namely NZ and Aus get the cream of our business types.
I did some cursory checking. I think there are age restrictions in NZ. Can't be too old. However, like the U.S., if you have enough money you can buy your way in. If someone knows differently from NZ let me know. You give up a lot of basic rights that we have here if you give up citizenship.
I lived overseas for a few years and never had to pay a cent of income tax earned overseas, it was all exempt by law. That might not be the case if you earn $100,000/year or more, but I've never had that kind of problem. And if you make that much money yet can't stand to pay your share in taxes, I think there are other problems that need to be addressed.
I have no problem with them immigrating to other countries. I do have a problem when the next natural or man-made disaster strikes the place and their faces are in the crowd wanting to get on the mil evac of US citizens out of the place. Show them the door off the chopper or the side of the boat. You made your decision, live with it.
And if you make that much money yet can't stand to pay your share in taxes, I think there are other problems that need to be addressed.
Different businesses, different models, Scooter. When Mr. Wife's corporation sent us to Germany, he got a normalized net salary plus a cost of living allowance that was supposed to give us a lifestyle somewhat comparable to what we would be leaving behind. What this meant was that we never did discover what Mr. Wife's gross salary was in Deutschmarks, and later Belgian francs, as they were then. The net was paid directly from the home office into our American bank account in dollars, which we then transferred over to our German bank account for paying our bills in DM/BF; we paid a base amount toward housing rental, the company paid a fixed amount in addition toward what they decided was a fair rent for an employee of Mr. Wife's level and experience, and we paid the balance due for a house half the size of what we'd lived in back home, and likewise for utilities, water and sewage; upcharges vs. the U.S. for telephone and other things we absorbed.
The bottom line was that Mr. Wife's gross salary, on paper, was well over the limit for taxation in the U.S., and all of it was subject to taxation in Germany, in theory anyway. In practice, Germany has been working since 1946 to determine how the salaries of American expats will be taxed, and has not yet made a determination. The company paid Deloitte & Touche to calculate our taxes while we were abroad, each year producing for us a binder a full two inches thick; we did not find out what Mr. Wife's putative gross salary was for the previous year until the taxes had been calculated, as it had to be adjusted to account for the actual taxes we and the corporation actually paid. Deloitte & Touche continued doing our taxes on the company dime for another five years after we moved back home, as they needed to recalculate both putative gross salaries and taxes due for the years we'd been abroad based on accrued tax credits for whatever and a variety of other factors to arcane to explain to us. To tell you the truth, not only don't I have a clue what that was all about, but even Mr. Wife, who spends a great deal of time these days writing and reviewing contracts, did little more than check to see that the net salary matched his W-2, then signed where he was told.
Most American expats whose companies provide any sort of lifestyle support find themselves well over the taxable limit, on paper at least.
I think the voters here are just going to have to fix things and keep at it so it doesn't drift out of control in Washington, i.e. keep after the politicians. Excercise the term limit option by dumping all politicians after two terms.
IIRC the taxable threshold now stands at about $82k per year. Nearly all expats working in for-profit enterprises overseas have salaries north of that threshold. Some receive packages that include their kids' tuition at the local Anglo-American or American School, plus maid and driver; many do not. They do not consume any US governmental services except in extremely rare emergencies, and yet they contribute hugely to the country's positive image overseas in view of the fact that they and the companies that employ them are almost always appreciated by the locals because of their *far* higher standards - compared to local firms - of professionalism, ethical conduct, taxes paid locally etc.
The lefties revile McDonalds here, but in places like Russia, McDonalds has made an enormous contribution across the board, from elevating standards of service and cleanliness in eateries to spending many millions in local foodstock purchases to thousands of relatively high-paying and far more stable jobs to millions in taxes paid. All of this is in stark contrast to the abysmal standards, sh*t wages, tax evasion, and outright criminality of their local counterparts.
If you make it hard for expatriates to live abroad, then you will over time erase a hugely positive overseas contribution made by Americans. I'm sure Barry just views this as another pinata to be smashed and grabbed from, but the rest of us should view this as a dangerous game for very little revenue upside.
Another symptom of the diminished power of the nation state in a globalized economy. If China explodes, we may see a retreat back to the nation state. But if they continue to expand peacefully, there will be continued erosion of state power as lex's oligarchs play nation against nation the same way they used to play play state against state in the US.
Y'all's idea of the expat with a relocation package, schools paid for, etc - that's 20th century thinking. The expat packages are a thing of the past. They still exist, but for rich fucks like bankers and CEOs.
The new trend is the "half-pat", people who relocate abroad of their own initiative, such as myself.
"Halfpats are not an official job classification, just a collective term for people that go to another country to work on their own initiative, rather than being sent by their firms. They come as tourists or students, then stay as workers, sometimes for years. On the other hand, the classic expatriate, in China and elsewhere, is typically an older executive at the managerial level dispatched on a limited-term assignment from the headquarters to an office abroad."
Half-pats are nothing new, gromky. Mr. Wife used to drink with a bunch of British ones when he was working in Athens back in the late '80s. There have long been those with ability and a need for adventure, but who aren't willing to become full-blown emigrants. Early in the 20th century they went to Africa and Argentina, since the fall of the Berlin Wall they've gone mainly to China and the former Communist countries.
As for transfer package expats, at Mr. Wife's company most of them are mere middle managers, not rich fucks. I've two friends in exactly that position who recently came back, one from Beijing and the other from Guangzho. Our senior managers haven't taken transfers since the '80s; they just spend a lot of time on airplanes, going round the world -- shoot, in his last assignment Mr. Wife went around the world once a quarter to meet with his various groups, and he is definitely a mere middle manager. Between his current assignment and the current economy, he is much more likely to have phone conferences at 7 a.m. or 11 p.m., but I know that soon enough he'll have to get on an airplane again.
Our Founders started a revolution over a 5% tax increase. I can only guess at what they must think of the current crop of fools in power and those that set them there. I don't need to defend my attachment to the country - that has already been proven through an adult life spent defending it (actually I defend the Constitution and take that oath deadly serious) & I highly doubt that for most it's about money. For me it's not. 47% of the citizenry pay no income tax yet can vote on the rights & freedom of others. At some point Atlas shrugs. I have no problem with my fellow citizens going Galt if they so choose - Freedom means not only mobility, the ability to choose a lifestyle but more importantly the ability to be Free Of something. Those expats that took off have no reason to explain themselves to me or apologize, even if it was over money. Independence and self-reliance is at the heart of being an American - even if that means leaving that which you love. My ancestors left from a few different countries over a 100 yrs ago - I wonder if their fellow Irish or Scots or Krauts called them greedy or traitors for wanting to leave their "homeland" in order to provide a better life for themselves or their families.
Back in the early '90s kidnapping had already become a problem in Mexico City.A blond girlfriend of mine (granted, chemical rather than natural, but even so) was forbidden by her sister to venture down to the bottom of the driveway with her young child to buy an ice cream, lest the child be taken for ransom. It was a difficult visit after having been so long accustomed to the safe life of a German village. But that wasn't anything like what's going on in Juarez now, which sounds considerably worse than Prohibition-era Chicago.
What Procopius said. The Emerging Democratic Majority will become reality when 10 million rural Mexican emigrants to the US are matched by 10 million urban Mexican emigrants fleeing Mexico's pending implosion.
If the border towns + towns in other gangster havens elsewhere empty out, then CA, AZ and NM at a minimum will be permanently blue, and even TX could be put in play for the Party of Amnesty.
Procopius: not to mention the overt subversion of US history in Arizona schools by MECHA, La Raza, and other radicalized Latino orgs. As a teacher, I have seen them in action...and then there is the reconquista by demographic means. One man, one vote not intended by the Founding Fathers imo.
Johnson! Stop the presses!
Venezuela's GDP fall in 2009 and the negative projections for 2010 are due to a collapse of private activity in the country, said on Wednesday Augusto de la Torre, the World Bank chief economist for Latin America and the Caribbean. Less private economic activity equals a lower GDP. Could someone please explain that to Bambi, Pelosi and Reid?
Venezuela's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will fall more than 2 percent in 2010, according to the World Bank in a research paper on the region, AFP reported.
"We are witnessing in Venezuela a phenomenon in which private activity, productivity, businesses, private production are falling," De la Torre told a group of journalists.
In its Country and Regional Perspective report published on Wednesday, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated that Venezuela's GDP would fall 2.6 percent this year.
Posted by: Steve White ||
04/22/2010 00:00 ||
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Chavez & Obama approve. After all, people should not be so independent - it's government's job to provide for the people.
MOSCOW -- Ukraine's new president signed a deal Wednesday that allows Russia's Black Sea Fleet to stay in the country another 25 years, moving to ease a long-standing source of tension and giving Moscow its second foreign policy victory in the former Soviet Union this month.
Viktor Yanukovych and his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, announced the breakthrough after a hastily scheduled summit in Kharkiv, Ukraine, saying that Ukraine will extend the lease on the Russian naval base in Sevastopol to 2042 in exchange for a steep discount on purchases of Russian natural gas.
A steep discount until President/Prime Minister Putin (I can't keep track of which title he most recently awarded himself) decides to turn off the flow in the middle of winter over whatever he decided to be miffed about.
"These issues are directly and unequivocally combined in the agreement," Medvedev said, describing the pact as "one of the first projects on the path of restoring good, neighborly relations between our countries."
Yanukovych's decision reverses the policy of his predecessor, who had vowed to expel the Russian fleet in 2017, when its current lease expires, and is the strongest sign yet that he will bring Ukraine closer to Russia after a five-year tilt toward the West.
Speaking by phone from Kiev, a senior Ukrainian diplomat sought to address any concerns in Washington about the move. "We would like to assure our partners in the United States and other Western countries that the prolongation of the stay of the Black Sea Fleet on Ukrainian soil doesn't pose any threat to Ukraine's sovereignty, its independence or its European integration course," said Oleh Voloshin, director of information policy in the Foreign Ministry.
But the opposition in Ukraine denounced the deal as an act of treason and began mobilizing to defeat it. A parliamentary majority must ratify the pact, and the vote, scheduled for Tuesday, will be the first major test of Yanukovych's ruling coalition.
"The authorities have surrendered strategic national interests in order to get cheaper gas," said Boris Tarasyuk, an opposition party leader.
Speaking at a ceremony with Medvedev, Yanukovych said the discount in gas prices would boost Ukraine's fragile economy as his government drafts a budget and presses the International Monetary Fund to release $12 billion in emergency aid.
"The spoon is dear when lunchtime is near," he said, according to the Interfax news agency, adding that the discount would amount to $40 billion in much-needed funds over the next decade. He defended the Russian fleet as "a guarantor of security" in the Black Sea.
Other Ukrainian officials described the deal as an effort to undo the contract negotiated with Russia last year after a price dispute led the Kremlin to suspend gas supplies to much of Europe. In ending that standoff, Ukraine agreed to pay much more for gas.
"We are ceding part of our interests to Russia in order to get rid of this burden," said one senior official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the talks. The official said the deal would allow Ukraine to buy gas at a discount of about 30 percent until 2019.
Posted by: Steve White ||
04/22/2010 00:00 ||
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It's nine years of discounted gas in exchange for 25 years worth of sovereignity. And you all know how worthless those discounts can be when the base price fluctuates anyway.
"Author of the video seen by everyone by now has been stabbed near Kijow on 4.15 and transported in critical condition to the hospital in Kijow. On 4.16 three unidentified individuals unplugged him from life support system and stabbed him 3 more times. Andrij was pronounced dead that afternoon. Russian government claims it was a coincidence."
But the video is out, and can't be recalled by those who ordered the double murder of a single hero. His memory is for a blessing.
Gunshots are heard. Laughter. People talking and gunshots?
Posted by: Whiskey Mike ||
04/22/2010 7:18 Comments ||
Kiev is quite a distance (350km?)from Smolensk and in Ukraine. Kinda does not make much sense.
Now Russians say that the Kaczynski plane did not crash on the fourth approach, it did not crash on the third, nor it did crash on the second. It is obvious that the plane crashed and all those approaches are not really needed and are extraneous. Simply one, the first approach, would do. In any case, under certain topological geometry conditions, the spiral that has four loops can be conceived of as a straight line.
Thus, the plane actually crashed on the first approach. Basta!
(âWot blaque box? We havenât found any blaque boxes, wot is a blaque box? Witness? No. The one that made the after-crash video? He is unfortunately unavailable. Where is he? In a morgue. Where? We don't have that information. Why in a morgue? Personal problems, apparently, the witness wanted to cool off.â)
I love a good conspiracy, especially involving Putin, but that video is hardly a smoking gun.
The Polish president ordered his pilot to land in Tbilisi during the Russian-Georgian war, and refused to, diverting to Baku. He was fired afterward.
You connect those dots.
I don't think Russia is at fault at all, except for undoubtedly screwing up the investigation. The should have let EVERYONE in quick, so no doubt was left. Instead the did the "curtain" and now this will be laid at the feet of Russia for the next century, a Polish JFK case if you will.
On the other hand, it's always nice to see caution and arms being raised against the Bear, even if it hasn't done anything to you. Yet.
Posted by: Charles ||
04/22/2010 20:38 Comments ||
Pyongyang, April 21 (KCNA) -- The chief executive of south Korea at the recent "nuclear security summit" held in Washington D.C. cried out for international "cooperation" while raising a hue and cry over the "nuclear threat from the north". He at a "special press conference" blustered south Korea would "deter the nuclear program of the north" and that the north "should show its definite will to dismantle nukes".
Minju Joson Wednesday observes in a signed commentary in this regard:
The south Korean chief executive solicited for international "cooperation" while describing the nuclear deterrent built by the DPRK for self-defence as a "threat," turning blind eyes to the U.S. nuclear weapons for aggression. This clearly indicates how desperately he is working to force the DPRK to disarm itself with the help of outsiders and provoke a nuclear war of aggression against it together with his master in a bid to throw the whole nation into a nuclear holocaust.
He is going so imprudent that he is unaware of where he stands and who his rival is. ...and the money quote. Those colonial stooges who sell off the dignity and the interests of the nation, hardly breathing under the clutches of the U.S., have gone so impudent as to dare let loose the above-said rigmaroles against the DPRK which regards independence as its life and soul. This is a height of stupidity enough to make even a cat laugh.
Cats do laugh. Derisively. Often. Although perhaps in North Korea they are discrete enough that the hungry humans don't notice, unlike the spoilt creatures we know and love. Still, an evocative bit of prose.
The south Korean puppet group's efforts to do harm to fellow countrymen through "cooperation" with outsiders over the "nuclear issue" is little short of digging its own grave. The traitors can never escape a stern punishment by the nation as they are keen to escalate the confrontation with fellow countrymen in collusion with outsiders.
Only four paragraphs? Back in the day the imprecations could go on all day -- the diet of tree bark and pea gravel is having an impact on the writer's endurance. And no mention of juche, army first, or either the beloved Kim Jong Il or his latest heir, the charming and accomplished young captain (or is it lieutenant? I have no head for such details).
Link has current information and good photos.
Summary: Deepwater exploration well blew out while cementing production casing across a new discovery. Cause unknown. Caught fire & is burning very hot - roughly 8000 barrels of oil per day will do that. About a dozen men are still missing. Weather is ideal but ... I fear they should have been found by now if they were going to be found.
The rig has now sunk. The well continues to blow thousands of barrels of oil per day into the Gulf - the oil is being allowed to burn on the surface of the ocean to reduce the size of the slick. The subsea BOP and other safety devices have failed to close and seem to be incapable of being closed. BP is pulling two other drilling rigs off of other jobs to try to drill directional 'relief' wells to intersect the blowout well some distance down in the rock, at which point they will pump heavy mud to 'kill' the flow, and the cement to keep it killed. A tricky and not speedy task - think of pushing a 2-3 mile long piece of spaghetti through molasses to hit another piece of spaghetti.
The logistics of printed money are weird. The US has only two printing offices, at Ft. Worth and D.C., and they run 24/7 just to produce mostly $1 bills. Only 7% of the production is $100 bills.
This leads to what could become a bizarre scenario.
The government literally cannot print more bills, but it also cannot print higher denomination bills, for the simple reason that almost nobody could make change for them. You would need 50 $20 bills just to make change for a $1000 bill.
However, virtual money is just numbers on a computer. So it can be instantly hyperinflated, which the twits in D.C. are planning to do, with periodic redenominations.
But unless the retail market decides to play along, and they won't, they can legally refuse virtual money, and demand payment in paper money. This is because paper money is "legal tender", and virtual money is not.
So as virtual money hyperinflates, paper money actually deflates, becoming far more valuable, and in a hurry, since if there is a "currency split", between virtual and paper money, paper money is already deflated by 95%, just because there isn't enough of it. It is rare.
Importantly, the international and speculative markets are totally virtual. This is why the Iranian and Nork efforts at counterfeiting US currency are laughable. It is like counterfeiting pennies.
But nationally, in the US, paper money and coins are equal to virtual money (right now), in our daily retail market.
So the bottom line is much like the old silver certificates, that could be exchanged for silver. If you knew they were going to inflate, you would immediately swap them out for silver, which would retain its value.
But in this case, paper money may be worth any amount of virtual money, if no one accepts virtual money for payment anymore.
Thanks NS. I totally agree. I've always thought bank electronic transfers would be the first thing to crash when this giant ponzi scheme goes to t*ts up. Problem is, Kroger, gas stations, and pensions all operate via electronic money. Looks like it's back to the Mason Jars.
The difference between virtual money and "real" money is that paper money and coinage are limited to their physical existence, but virtual money, checks, credit, bank accounts, investments, etc., are dynamic.
This gets downright bizarre when virtual money is used in leveraged transactions. This was first seen in earnest before the great crash of 1929, with "margin" purchases of stock.
For 10 cents, a person could buy a dollars worth of stock, which in effect, created 90 cents out of thin air, not backed by anything. They could then sell that dollars worth of stock for 10 shares, *without* first paying that other 90 cents, effectively creating $9.90 with a single dime.
And as long as stock prices stayed high and continued to grow, there were no "margin calls" demanding payment, demanding that the imaginary money be paid for with real money.
At the same time, like today, there was a profound shortage of physical real money. So when the stock market crashed, and efforts were made to convert the virtual money to real money, there was no money to be had. So the vast amounts of virtual money just disappeared in bankruptcies.
And the rare dollars and coins severely deflated. This led to the saying, "You could buy a pound of hamburger for a nickel, but nobody had any nickels."
And even with the Dust Bowl, food was in overabundance, so it was worthless, at the same time that nobody had any real money to buy it, and starved.
Today, we are worse off. Our virtual money has entered the realm of multi-leveraged "imaginary money", which is almost playground nonsensical. Think of three small boys, one of which has a stick of gum that the other two want. So one boy offers a dollar, which is countered by the other boy offering ten dollars.
Soon they are bargaining in "million-billion" dollars and "trillions" of dollars. Then one of the boys can't think of a bigger number, so says, "you win". So the boy with the gum finally says, "give me the trillion dollars", which the other boy doesn't have. So he says, "I'll owe you."
Ironically, this is the scale we are dealing with. One, essentially high stakes gambling market alone, called Derivatives, is in hock by over $150T. Which is three times larger than the annual world GDP.
There is no possible way those debts can be met, any more than the USG $14T debt, or its promises of well over a hundred trillion dollars in the future.
Unless they try to hyperinflate their way out of it. Which is what is being planned. Then, when it takes $1M to buy a loaf of bread, they redenominate the currency, lop off six zeroes, and begin to hyperinflate again.
But the trouble with their brilliant scheme is that they cannot do this with real paper money and coin. If they try to do this with their virtual, imaginary money, then retailers just refuse to accept it, and demand paper money and coins.
And what happens is what happened before. All the debts and promises disappear in bankruptcies, even of the US government, while the paper currency deflates horribly.
So save up those nickels. At home. In a safe place.
Cash on hand vs electrons in a spreadsheet. IMO the first 'money' would be tradable commodities - my bag of grain for your 2 chickens. As civilization progressed there was a need to standardize trade values, enter money and sizes and weights. Gold, silver, precious jewels etc were not only pretty but rare which made them extremely difficult to counterfeit. For example a piece of gold was representative of five bushels of grain or really any number of things. For this system to work the person giving up the very real grain for a shiny inedible thing had to be assured that the shiny thing could then be tranformed into whatever that person needed, such as a new wagon or beast of burdon. Honoring this cooperation money concept incresed everybody's potential.
The age we are in now is the beneficiary of that on-hand culture. We put that same value into a piece of paper which has become a promise and/or potential value of work and effort. In reality, that piece of paper is only as valuable as the trust people put into it. Paper money is still subject to the laws of production, the more difficult it is to reproduce (both on manufacturing and the officials who order more to be printed) the more value it has.
Virtual money can be created (or destroyed) by simply moving around a decimal point depending on the whims of officials and hackers. It has no physical value. It may work so-so as long as a generation or two until people forget what that piece of paper turned digital meant, and could bring everything full circle back to the barter system...instead of dropping some quarters (in a pure virutal money system quarters in all intents and purposes will be nonexistant other than neat trinkets of a paast age) into that guitar player's case people may place hard physical goods like a bag of chips instead.
The major problem concerns The OSHA issues of money launderers/drug pushers. There is a spate of bad backs amongst these folks from having to lug around suitcase loads of $100 bills. The Europeans are more sensitive to their needs, they print E200 and E500 to lessen the burden.
My go to man on all things finance is William F Hummel. This is his explanation of seigniorage, the subject matter of this post.
I'm just a simple person - definitely not a financial genius.
I hope what y'all are talking about doesn't mean I have to stop paying my bills online (except for the ones I need to write a check for). The money's in my bank account - I'm just transferring it to Comcast, or whomever, for services rendered. And it surely is convenient.
Posted by: Barbara Skolaut ||
04/22/2010 20:14 Comments ||
Don't worry, Barb. If there's ever a real problem with money, you'll still be able to buy food for ammo.
AMSTERDAM -- Airlines toted up losses topping $2 billion and struggled to get hundreds of thousands of travelers back home Wednesday after a week of crippled air travel, as questions and recriminations erupted over Europe's chaotic response to the volcanic ash cloud.
Civil aviation authorities defended their decisions to ground fleets and close the skies -- and later to reopen them -- against heated charges by airline chiefs that the decisions were based on flawed data or unsubstantiated fears.
The aviation crisis sparked by a volcanic eruption in Iceland left millions in flightless limbo, created debilitating losses for airlines and other industries and even threatened Europe's economic recovery. An aviation group called the financial fallout worse than the three-day worldwide shutdown after the 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.
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And what happens when one of these airliners crash and burn with hundreds of vacationers on board? We all saw the damage to that F-18's engines. Who here thinks these airlines are going to maintenance cycle all of those engines, thereby grounding a significant portion of their fleet? CYA or prudence? Hindsight is 20/20 and armchair bitching is easy. It's not your job, your reputation, nor your life on the line.
Commercial airlines don't use military style maintenance cycles. I believe they use something called "progressive maintenance" where they check a certain number of aircraft systems per week or month. Engines are replaced at hourly use intervals as I recall.
Ay-Pee . . . .
Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell says the military is "very confident" it could protect the U.S. from a potential Iranian ballistic missile strike. IOW: Plan on Iran getting the bomb.
Good to see they get her goat, anyway.
Former ACORN head Bertha Lewis told a group of the Young Democratic Socialists on that they should "do everything [they] can" to build their organization, and then insisted that our times are worse than internment under the Japanese and the years of Jim Crow laws (h/t Morgan Richmond at BigGovernment):
Any of these groups that says, "I'm young, I'm Democratic, and I'm a socialist," is okay with me. You know that's no light thing to do -- to actually say, I'm a socialist. You've got to know, actually, we are living in a time that's going to dwarf the McCarthy era. It is going to dwarf the internment of World War II. We are right now in a time that is going to dwarf the era of Jim Crow and segregation.
They are coming. And they are coming after you. And they are going to be brutal and oppressive. They've already shown it. ... This is not rhetoric or hyperbole -- this is real. ... This tea party so-called movement -- a bowel-movement in my estimation -- and this blatant uncovering and ripping off the mask of racism...
Ah yes, she's played the Racist Card. A good sign they have no logic to throw at the situation. As usual. I guess we can stop listening at that point.
Bertha's group lost its congressional funding after videos were released depicting actual ACORN workers offering advice on how to hide income from prostitution from the government as well as how to lie to get mortgages. This video demonstrates a contrast to rhetoric about alleged fear-mongering among Tea Party protesters.
Even more ironic is the explicit Democrat support given to the causes she lists. Liberal icon Bobby Kennedy played no small part in Joe McCarthy's efforts to investigate Communist infiltration in the U.S. government. Internment of the Japanese came under the original New Deal Democrat president Franklin Roosevelt. The era of Jim Crow laws was governed by southern Democrats like Alabama governor George Wallace and Mississippi senator Jim Eastland.
It's when the BM's stop that I begin to worry. Get a real job and a life Bertha. While your on the subject of toilet, cleaning them might be a good place to initiate your job search. Done a bit of it myself as a teenager working in gas stations. It's an honest wage...something you probably wouldn't understand.
Today, U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) Ranking Member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and Judiciary Committee Member released the following statement on the U.S. Court of Appeals Second Circuit decision to stay the December 2009 injunction by Clinton-appointed Judge Nina Gershon that the Congressional funding ban on the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now (ACORN) was unconstitutional. As a result, as the U.S. Court of Appeals further reviews the case, the Congressional funding ban will go back into effect, and ACORN will not receive taxpayer dollars.
I applaud the Court of Appeals for immediately addressing the effects of Judge Gershon's attempt to legislate from the bench. Today's action immediately restores the congressionally mandated ban on funding ACORN and its affiliates as a result of their criminal conduct and wasting of taxpayer dollars. Congress has the constitutional right to deny an organization the benefit of taxpayer dollars.
With today's action by the Appeals Court, the Obama Administration must take immediate steps to re-implement the funding ban for ACORN Congress put in to law. In recent months, ACORN has undergone a rebranding campaign to disguise itself and its affiliates. As a result, the White House and all federal agencies must be extremely vigilant to ensure that rebranded organizations who have continued to make deals and maintain connections to ACORN don't receive taxpayer dollars.'
When the F/A-18 jet called the Green Hornet takes off over the Chesapeake Bay on Earth Day, it will aim to break a barrier that has proven far more durable than the speed of sound.
The twin-engine tactical aircraft is prepared on April 22 to make a supersonic flight on biofuel -- its tanks filled 50 percent with oil refined from the crushed seeds of the flowering Camelina sativa plant. The test flight at the Naval Air Station at Patuxent River, Maryland will be a milestone in the Navy's efforts to reduce its reliance on petroleum, and perhaps, in the elusive search for an alternative fuel for aviation.
The event is meant to showcase the Pentagon's efforts to increase use of renewable energy, not only as a climate change initiative but to protect the military from energy price fluctuations and dependence on foreign oil. When President Obama announced his offshore drilling and energy security plan last month at Andrews Air Force Base, he used the Green Hornet as a backdrop. As naval aviation's biggest fuel consumer, the F/A-18 Super Hornet is a fitting test aircraft.
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All these biofuel companies float on an ocean of extracted petroleum products and other fossil fuels. I doubt they use biofuel-derived fertilizer on their fields instead of ammonia made from natural gas.... trucks and tractors probably run drilled diesel.... etc.
Although I can see the potential, like the development of synthetic rubber alternatives for WWII, I too wonder about the return on investment (acres per gallons produced, cost of growth and harvest, suseptability of crop to weather). I would hate to think that the strength of the military depends on whether a farmer gets rain.
Unless of course this is science for science sake, or just showbiz. Perhaps it is a product of the Kato Institute and will be armed with only knock-out gas munitions?
Hmm. While it *is* a good nitrogen-fixer, and thus a useful crop for rotation with more efficient cash crops, it also seems to be a really good vegetable oil stock, which puts the lie to this "not in competition with food usage" business.
Amusingly enough, it's a flax weed.
Posted by: Mitch H. ||
04/22/2010 13:18 Comments ||
A shortage of high-quality paper for recycling could mean scratchy toilet tissue. To keep consumers happy and avoid any chafed rear ends, companies are now on a quest to find new paper supplies, according to an article in the current issue of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN).
The problem: Consumers once could fill up large bins with their recycled newspapers, magazines and print paper. But as electronic communication surges, these sources of recycled paper are becoming scarce.
The shortage could impact those who choose toilet paper with a bulky amount of recycled material, but most household tissue products contain very little recycled paper, according to WWF, an international environmental organization.
For those who prefer the eco-brands, high-end choices are more than about status. High-quality paper contains long cellulose fibers with intact cell walls, so it can be used to make high-end products, including toilet paper. The gold standard is virgin pulp from newly harvested trees, whose fibers are long and strong. Each time that paper gets recycled, the fibers become shorter and weaker, with lower-quality brown paper producing recycled material with the shortest, weakest fibers.
One green-products company, Seventh Generation, is already feeling the heat. The Vermont-based company has had to extend beyond its normal paper mills to find the best recycled paper.
"We want a recycled paper that has certain quality," Martin Wolf, director of product and environmental technology at the company, told C&EN. "We look for the longest fiber possible for strength and absorbency, and as flexible a fiber as possible so toilet tissue is soft."
In addition to the paper chase, chemical companies are developing new coatings and other additives that can improve the softness, strength and performance of recycled paper.
Consumers once could fill up large bins with their recycled newspapers, magazines and print paper. But as electronic communication surges, these sources of recycled paper are becoming scarce.
From my observations, the demand was never there for the last decade or so. Used to watch Boy Scout et al drop off bins fill up and stay filled with the old stuff for weeks/months on end till the bins were removed. Apparently, it wasn't economical to handle it, so the process died out many places.
Happened in Iraq following the first Gulf War. The Sheridan Baghdad doubled their supply by sawing the scruffy rolls in two pieces with a hacksaw. Becomes a bit more painstaking when the 40mm econo-roll is employed.
Sears, Roebuck and Co. Catalogs were widely used in outhouses years ago, and rag bags became common for other purposes as well. I hope we never see those days again.
A hundred years ago, when my grandmother was growing up in Brooklyn, her mother always used the German language newspaper for toilet paper, saying that it was less irritating. Whether the difference was in the ink or in the paper stock, I don't know.
2 things. First of all, just pre-washing with warm water from a hanging enema bag reduces TP use to just one wad, just to pat dry, rather than several, to wipe off.
This was an inexpensive trick used during the "Johnny Carson" TP shortage of the early '70s. Because of the oil embargo and other shortages, the public was very shortage conscious, so when Carson cracked a joke about a TP shortage, the next day stores were stripped of their TP, and it took weeks for the supply chain to catch up.
This especially hit the "Depression Babies", who had lived through a real, extended TP shortages during the Great Depression. They freaked out at the thought of no TP.
The other thing is that there is a superb alternative to wood pulp paper, that is both eco-friendly and better than wood pulp paper. Refined hemp paper. It feels a lot silkier, and is better for both high quality paper and silk-like cloth.
Hemp grows in marginal farmland, requiring little or no fertilizer, pesticide or even irrigation. It grows just about anywhere in the US, and for us to use it would save trees for much higher valued products like lumber.
The lack of TP made Sears Corporation. Their idea of sending out free catalogs was hugely popular among rural Americans, as they could be recycled as TP. And they got into the habit of reading a page before using it, and discovered that Sears sold a lot of stuff that they wanted.
This got another boost whenever electrical plants were built, as the plants wanted consumers to get and use electrical appliances, so even subsidized the sale of things like lamps, toasters, and other appliances, sold mail order by Sears.
General Sarath Fonseka, Sri Lanka's opposition leader and former army chief, demanded his freedom and called for democracy and the rule of law today in his first public appearance since being arrested in February.
General Fonseka, who led the Army to victory over the Tamil Tiger rebels last year, is in the midst of a court martial trial that he says is his punishment for challenging the President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, in a presidential poll in January. But he was allowed to attend the opening of parliament today after winning a seat in parliamentary elections two weeks ago as he has not yet been convicted of any charges.
"The protection of democracy must begin here in parliament," General Fonseka told lawmakers after being escorted into the chamber by guards.
President Rajapaksa's ruling coalition won 144 of 225 seats in the new parliament, leaving it just six short of the two thirds majority it needed to change the country's constitution. Mr Rajapaksa says he will use the strongest mandate since the late 1970s to rebuild Sri Lanka's economy -- especially the tourist sector -- and address the concerns of the ethnic Tamil minority after 26 years of civil war.
Opponents accuse him of prolonging emergency rule to suppress political dissent, and planning to change the constitution to extend his own rule beyond the end of his second term in 2016. They also accuse him of trying to establish his family as a political dynasty.
His older brother, Chamal, was unanimously elected today as the Speaker of Parliament -- a powerful post that gives him control of the legislature's agenda and to decide whether an impeachment motion can be brought against the President.
The President's 23-year-old British-educated son, Namal, was also sworn in as an MP for the first time after winning a seat in the Rajapaksa clan's home district of Hambantota.
President Rajapaksa's youngest brother, Basil, also retained his seat in parliament and continues to act as a presidential advisor. Another younger brother, Gotabaya, is not an MP but is in charge of all security issues as Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, Public Security and Law and Order.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa has accused General Fonseka of plotting a coup, and betraying the Army by planning to testify to an international investigation into alleged war crimes during the civil war.
General Fonseka was taken back into custody at the naval headquarters in Colombo after the opening of parliament, according to one of his key political allies, Tiran Alles.
But Mr Alles told The Times that the General, as an elected MP, would be allowed to attend parliament whenever he wanted until he was convicted. "That could take three to four years once the appeals are heard," he said. "If there is justice in this country, I'm sure the courts will send him home on bail before then."
Posted by: Steve White ||
04/22/2010 08:59 ||
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NASA's recently launched Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, is returning early images that confirm an unprecedented new capability for scientists to better understand our sun's dynamic processes. These solar activities affect everything on Earth.
Some of the images from the spacecraft show never-before-seen detail of material streaming outward and away from sunspots. Others show extreme close-ups of activity on the sun's surface. The spacecraft also has made the first high-resolution measurements of solar flares in a broad range of extreme ultraviolet wavelengths.
"These initial images show a dynamic sun that I had never seen in more than 40 years of solar research," said Richard Fisher, director of the Heliophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "SDO will change our understanding of the sun and its processes, which affect our lives and society. This mission will have a huge impact on science, similar to the impact of the Hubble Space Telescope on modern astrophysics.
More to the story with great pictures and videos at link.......
Posted by: Everyday a Wildcat!(KSU) ||
04/22/2010 10:00 ||
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Looks like the Sun is starting to overheat. Better send Al Gore there
A multi-volume chronology and reference guide set detailing three years of the Mexican Drug War between 2010 and 2012.
Rantburg.com and borderlandbeat.com correspondent and author Chris Covert presents his first non-fiction work detailing
the drug and gang related violence in Mexico.
Chris gives us Mexican press dispatches of drug and gang war violence
over three years, presented in a multi volume set intended to chronicle the death, violence and mayhem which has
dominated Mexico for six years.