I am off for Christmas Vacation

December 23, 2011

I am going off for Christmas holidays and will have very limited internet access, therefore I will probably not be able to blog until I return 8 January.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

 


European Politics in Crisis

December 23, 2011

In the latest sago of the European Union crisis, it seems to me that Britain was quite right in resisting calls from the European Union to pony up yet more billions to help their European rescue funds. The fact is that Britain never joined the euro.  In the latest agreement France and Germany got together and came up with a plan, without ever consulting with Britain.  Despite the fact that they did not include anyone else in the decision-making process, they expect everyone else to go along with the plan without any complaints. Britain made reasonable requests for changes to the plan, France and Germany refused, and Britain was left out of the cold.  There was spiteful talk of leaving Britain out of EU decisions.  Now France and Germany expect yet more money from Britain despite the fact that they have gone out of their way to be vindictive, and Britain is not even a euro member.  Rightfully Britain told them to go stick it.  Maybe the EU should not have been to petty after all.


If your value your internet freedoms please read this and take action

December 21, 2011

As I said before the status quo wants to take over the internet and censor it for their own convenience.  Free speech and democracy can then go out the window.

December 16, 2011 | By Parker Higgins

Wrapping Up a Week Of Action Against SOPA

Yesterday and today, the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee has hunkered down in the Capitol for markup sessions of SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act. The basic facts looked bleak: this Internet blacklist bill is a disaster that stands at odds with the Constitution, but the deep pockets of its legacy media backers managed to make it enough friends in committee that its quick passage seemed possible. Judiciary Committee Chairman, author of the bill, and “Hollywood’s Favorite Republican” Lamar Smith scheduled just a single hearing, stacked the deck in his bill’s favor, and rushed it through to markup now, at the end of the legislative session.

But then a funny thing happened: the Internet fought back. It started in bits and pieces, from our coverage of the bill’s introduction to the citizens who took our action alert and told their Congressmembers that Internet censorship is unacceptable. Then more and more people began realizing the dangers of SOPA and finding their voice against it. One month ago today, American Censorship Day counted almost 6000 participating sites, tens of thousands of people called their Representatives, and more legislators started coming out against the bill.

It was clear then that Congress wouldn’t be able to slip SOPA through under the public radar. But this week was the most important one yet, with the bill heading to markup and possibly even to the floor. That’s why EFF, with a broad coalition of organizations (of all political stripes), tech companies, innovators, and users, declared this week a Week of Action Against Censorship.

It’s been quite a week.  At the last minute, SOPA’s sponsors tried to pull a fast one by introducing a “new-and-improved” version just before the markup.  But we – and you – weren’t fooled.  As we’ve noted, SOPA still conflicts with the U.S. Constitution, despite the protestations of one misguided legal scholar SOPA would, undermine your freedom of speech, hurt students and educators, and harm the U.S. position in international negotiations for a free Internet. And you don’t have to take our word for it — ask Vint Cerf, Paul Vixie, and over 80 more Internet inventors and engineers who signed and open letter against online censorship, which was entered into the Congressional record by opponents of SOPA during the markup.

But the most important thing to happen this week was that thousands of people took action to oppose the bill, calling their representatives and spreading the word via blogs, tweets, social media videos and word of mouth.

And it looks like it made a difference. In a marathon markup session yesterday, which we covered on our live-Tweeting stream @EFFLive, a persistent group of Representatives attacked SOPA from all fronts. Although there wasn’t enough opposition to kill the bill outright, the messages we’ve been sending for weeks — that the bill would create blacklists for online censorship, harm cybersecurity efforts, set a bad international precedent and lead to a fractured Internet — couldn’t be ignored.

During a markup session earlier today, Chairman Lamar Smith acknowledged that the Judiciary Committee didn’t yet have all the facts, especially on the cybersecurity questions. After an amendment vote he abruptly announced that markup would be suspended, and consideration of the bill would be resumed at the next practicable opportunity — which is tentatively scheduled for next week, but could be pushed to late January.

Legislators’ considering facts when crafting new laws is a good thing, and we commend Chairman Smith for recognizing it. We also want to acknowledge Representatives Zoe Lofgren, Darrell Issa, Jared Polis, and Jason Chaffetz, who brought refreshing perspective and expertise to the markup session. Their input — and actual amendments — stand in clear contrast to SOPA proponents’ common refrain that the opposition doesn’t contribute any real suggestions.  (Another fact belying that refrain: there is an alternative bill already on the table: the OPEN Act proposed by Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Darrel Issa.  It’s not perfect, but it takes the conversation in a better direction, and we urge Internet users to go the http://www.keepthewebopen.com to contribute their views on it.)

The markup suspension is an important victory, but the blacklist bills are not yet beat; it’s still important that we all continue to take action against them. If you haven’t yet taken our action alert to send a message to your legislators, now is the time!


Why decent school lunches remain elusive

December 21, 2011

This wonderful article by Alliance for Natural Health exposes how the USDA and other agencies related to school lunches are for sale, and how pushing well connected corporate profits is more important than the welfare out our children.

Score One for the Crony Capitalists in the School Lunch Program

December 20, 2011

congress pizza vegetable

Pizza remains a vegetable and you can have as many greasy fries as you like, all thanks to Congress.

What kind of country allows what appears to be open financial corruption to poison its children’s school lunches? The answer seems to be our country.

Last January, the USDA made a feeble attempt to improve the situation by making school lunches healthier through better Dietary Guidelines. As we reported then, the agency’s goals of including more vegetables and whole grains in the lunch program were laudable. But USDA officials didn’t pay attention to real nutrition research, and ended up advocating a diet that can actually make people obese.

Unfortunately, other government food programs also rely on USDA guidelines and have notably poor nutrition plans. For example, the government WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) program includes soy-based infant formula as an alternative to milk—despite the documented dangers to infants from soy chemicals mimicking estrogen or other hormones.

In general, the USDA, which seems more concerned with getting food sold than making our children healthy, gets a very poor grade as a nutrition advisor. But it gets worse. Far worse.

Congress just passed an appropriations bill including a particular rider (an additional provision added to a bill which has little connection to the subject matter of the bill) forcing USDA to change its feeble new guidelines in ways that further benefit special interests—and harm kids’ health. Serving the interests of giant food companies, the rider seeks to preserve pizza as a “vegetable” under the school lunch program and also to be sure that unlimited French fries can be served.

How exactly, you might wonder, can pizza be defined as a vegetable? In the school lunch program, most pastes and purees get credit for the “actual volume as served,” meaning that there must be half-cup servings to qualify, no matter how nutrient-dense they may be. USDA wanted the tomato paste on pizza to be treated the same way. But Congress carved out an exception for tomato paste and mandated that two tablespoons qualifies as a serving. Why exactly two tablespoons? Because that’s the amount that is used on a slice of pizza. In this way, a slice of cheese pizza gets to be counted as a serving of vegetables, courtesy of our esteemed Congress.

The new USDA guidelines also restricted the amount of starchy vegetables in lunches, which includes the potatoes used for French fries, and cut back on the amount of sodium allowed. The new rider overrides those new restrictions too, so kids can be served unlimited fries.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the American Frozen Food Institute, which supplies frozen French fries, was one of the heavy-hitters in getting the rider passed. Senators Susan Collins and Mark Udall, both from big potato-producing states, joined with the National Potato Council to fight the limits on starchy vegetables.

Schwan’s Food Service, which supplies frozen pizzas to 75% of US schools, is the corporate behemoth of the school lunch program. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, from Schwan’s home state, wrote a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack extolling the nutritional value of tomato paste. Schwan donated $4,000 to Rep. John Kline and $6,000 to Rep. Peterson—both of whom also fought to create the tomato paste exception.

In August, Schwan’s issued a press release claiming it “has been feeding America’s children at school for 36 years and is a leader in the $9.5 billion school foodservice industry.” They went on to talk about new options with more whole grains and fewer calories from fat, but then sang the virtues of pizza: “Pizza continues to be the choice of students for school lunch, and we’ve created great tasting products that provide the nutrition that kids need.” Well, some of us at ANH-USA have kids in public high school, and they report the pizza served there is the greasiest, sorriest, least-appetizing pizza they have ever seen. But let’s ignore that for the moment and go back to measuring tomato paste.

Clearly, for pizza to continue being counted as a vegetable, something had to be done about that new pesky half-cup serving guideline. So the lobbyists went to work, and the legislators did their bidding, apparently without worrying about the kids. Federal lobbying records show that Schwan and the American Frozen Food Institute spent $450,000 on congressional lobbying this year (though there are no specifics on what precisely they were lobbying for).

We wish this were all that is wrong with the school lunch program, but it isn’t.

The US Department of Agriculture pays $1 billion per year to buy produce and meat for school lunches. Instead of preparing that food on-site in a healthy manner, schools hire management companies, which in turn hire processors to prepare the food. The processors turn chicken meat, scraps, flavorings, and fillers of uncertain origin into things like chicken nuggets, etc. The processors in turn pay what look to us to be kickbacks to the management companies for choosing them over another processor. None of this money goes back to the schools. Those seeming kickbacks—the management companies would call them rebates—are arguably illegal. The New York Attorney General sued one management company and received a $20 million settlement.

Even if the school lunch system weren’t corrupt, it would still be unhealthy. In 2003, the USDA approved irradiated meat for the school lunch program. Since then, Congress has placed limitations on irradiated meat in school lunches, but it is still served.

Schools can’t even get something as traditional as chocolate milk right these days. Of course recent research does suggest that adding chocolate can make the calcium less bio-available, but let’s not fuss about that. Nor, for a moment, the growth hormones or the antibiotics in the milk itself that we have descried in other articles. But how about the BHT added to the chocolate milk? BHT is a preservative that is also used in cosmetics, pharmaceutical drugs, rubber and petroleum products, jet fuels, and embalming fluids. It causes cancer in animals, and can cause liver and kidney damage, but most notably causes behavioral problems and hyperactivity in children. Perhaps the supposition is that if Johnny acts up, we can just give him some drugs to calm him down (please see our article on that subject in this issue)!


Prozac can be very dangerous

December 21, 2011

Prozac (and similar drugs) can cause people to become violent and crazy.  This is a far cry from the happy drugs that we have been lead to believe they supposedly are.  Very interesting article from Alliance for Natural Health (below).

Why Would a Young Person Start Shooting in School?

December 20, 2011

drugs-treat-depression-medicineProzac and other SSRIs kill kids—and not just from suicide. A judge now agrees. New Action Alert!

 

Scientists and integrative doctors have been aware of these drugs leading to violence for years, but now it is also the ruling of a Canadian judge, who found that a teenager killed his friend because of a reaction to SSRI antidepressants. Meanwhile more and more kids are being “screened” and pushed to take these prescriptions.

In Winnipeg, Manitoba, Justice Robert Heinrichs concluded that a 15-year-old boy was under the influence of Prozac when he fatally stabbed a close friend. Although the boy pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, the judge cited the drug’s side effects as a reason to keep the case in juvenile court and give him a more lenient sentence.

Prozac is prescribed to curb depression, but as we reported in March, SSRIs are linked to a shockingly heightened risk of violence toward others. Not just suicide, which a black box warning on the package already warns against. But sudden, unexplained, and often murderous violence against others.

In the Canadian case, Justice Heinrich concluded the medication set off a steady deterioration in the young killer’s behavior. “He had become irritable, restless, agitated, aggressive and unclear in his thinking,” the judge said. “It was while in that state he overreacted in an impulsive, explosive and violent way. Now that his body and mind are free and clear of any effects of Prozac, he is simply not the same youth in behavior or character.”

In this case, the teenage murderer had a history of smoking marijuana, had abused prescription drugs, and “experimented” with cocaine. Ironically, it was to help him break free of these behaviors that a family doctor prescribed Prozac for depression.

Remember, the Columbine High School shootings and the spree shootings at a community center in Los Angeles, two brokerage firms in Atlanta, and a printing plant in Kentucky were all perpetrated by people taking Prozac, Zoloft, Luvox, Paxil, or a related SSRI antidepressant drug.

The US Food and Drug Administration and the Health Protection Branch (HPB) of Health Canada know all this. So why does the FDA require the warning against suicide on the drug package but no warning against acts of violence? It would seem that the FDA simply does not want to take any responsibility for the acts of mass violence in our schools and workplaces that have become increasingly common since the agency’s approval of these drugs.

Meanwhile doctors are not only prescribing more and more SSRIs to teenagers, but schools and educational agencies are also pushing teenagers to get mental health screenings. The “teen screen” program uses inducements like free movie tickets to coerce them into being screened, and then asks such questions as whether they ever feel insecure or depressed (what teen doesn’t?). Very often, the answer is more medication from these truly dangerous drugs.

Parents can object (if they hear about the screening in advance, which is not guaranteed), but if they do, they may be charged with child abuse, child neglect, or educational neglect!

Rep. Ron Paul has introduced the Parental Consent Act of 2011, which would prohibit the use of federal funds for any universal or mandatory mental health screening program for kids. HR 2769 also addresses the problem of educational institutions using a parent’s refusal to consent to mental health screenings for his or her child as the basis for a charge of abuse or neglect. Any school or agency that does such a thing would no longer be able to receive federal education funding.

Children shouldn’t be automatically screened for mental health issues without explicit parental consent, especially if there is no indication of mental health problems. It violates parental rights, the diagnostic criteria are vague, and federal funds shouldn’t support programs that could lead to the increased over-medication of children.

An identical bill has been introduced in the Senate, S 1800, by Sen. Rand Paul.

Please contact your senators and representative and ask them to support this extremely important legislation. Take action TODAY!

 

Take Action!


More on the TSA

December 21, 2011

It now appears that someone (probably Chertoff) made a sweetheart deal and the government bought the x-ray scanners because it made a lot of money for someone.  Now they have these dangerous devices but are too proud and subborn to admit that they are endangering the public.

TSA refuses new study on airport scanners

It’s outright insane if you stop to think about it: In order to “protect” air passengers, the U.S. government is blasting them all with dangerous levels of radiation from full-body X-ray scanners.

Not exactly how I like my “protection” — especially since the feds won’t provide any honest-to-goodness safety data on these machines.

It seemed like we were finally getting somewhere earlier this year when the TSA told Sen. Susan Collins it would authorize an independent safety study. You’d think they would have done that before they installed these machines at every airport — but better late than never, right?

Well, it might be “never” after all — because TSA administrator John Pistole recently told Congress that the study is off.

The question has to be asked: What are they so afraid of?

I think it’s pretty obvious: Radiation exposure — even the small amounts used in these machines — can cause DNA damage and cellular changes. Over time, that can lead to cancer.

These machines use backscatter radiation, which goes beneath the clothes and concentrates on the skin itself — so TSA agents can view a “naked” picture of you and see what you might be hiding without having to look at your bones, liver, guts, etc.

But since that radiation focuses on the skin, it can build up there and boost the risk of skin cancers, especially among those most often exposed, like regular air travelers.

And who knows what kind of risks these machines will pose to pregnant women, children, and infants.

One expert says he thinks X-ray scanners will cause 100 cancer cases each year — and while that may sound like a small number, why put even a single life on the line in the name of security?

Even if you agree that the government should get a look at everyone’s naked body before boarding an airplane — and I don’t — there are machines that can do it without using a drop of radiation.

The feds even have the machines, and are using them in some airports — but they insist on using the X-ray machines right along with them.

Even Europe has said they’ll only use the radiation-free machines — and they’ve actually banned the X-ray scanners from their airports until they see some actual scientific data proving they’re safe.

I hope they’re not holding their breath.


Vote for Ron Paul

December 20, 2011

I could not agree more.

Support for Ron Paul turns up in interesting places, such as the UK-based European Disunion Blog.

Don’t want endless foreign wars, but do want a strong military for defense? Vote Ron Paul. Do want bankers to be subjected to greater scrutiny and accountability? Vote Ron Paul. Don’t want the government to tow the line of corporate interests? Vote Ron Paul. Do want to be allowed to say and think what you will – even do what you will – provided that it does not harm or infringe upon the rights of others? Vote Ron Paul.

Ron Paul is the only candidate who does not accept donations from big business – his campaign is funded entirely by individuals. Yet it forms policy from a conservative outlook: pragmatic, rather than idealistic, with any reforms carefully considered before implementation, with a strict doctrine of fiscal prudence to boot. In short, it is the perfect blend for individualistic yet reasoned and cash-strapped America.

That is a rock-solid case in two short paragraphs.


Corporate Takeover of the Internet

December 19, 2011

I came across this on Mish Shedlock´s blod.  We should all be concerned about.  Just another example of corporations taking over the internet.

Loss of Free Speech

A bill in Congress with an innocuous title – Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) – threatens to do much more.

An extremely technical, low-profile bill that isn’t being covered by cable news, but has nearly 1,000 registered lobbyists officially working on it: the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA — a bill with the power to fundamentally reshape the laws governing the Internet.

SOPA would imbue the federal government with broad powers to shut down whole web domains on the basis that it believes them to be associated with piracy — without a trial or even a traditional hearing. It would provide Hollywood with powerful new legal tools to stifle transactions with websites whose existence worries the movie industry.

The bill’s supporters, which also include major record labels, trial lawyers and pharmaceutical giants, call SOPA a robust effort to curb piracy of American goods online.

Opponents, however, have castigated it as an unparalleled attack on free speech online. Civil liberties advocates say SOPA would give the U.S. government the same censorship tools used in China. Those in the technology sector warn that the bill creates enormous new barriers to entry for web startups, threatening innovation and job creation. Farther afield, librarians say that under the letter of the proposed anti-piracy law, they could be jailed for simply doing their jobs.

Leahy’s bill would also empower corporations to demand that payment processors, advertisers and search engines stop doing business with sites the companies believe to be dedicated to infringement. A Hollywood studio could claim a website is “dedicated to infringement,” and tell Google to stop registering the website in its search results. If Google protested, the company could haul Google into court.

This new set of corporate liabilities — known as a “private right of action” — prompted resistance from Wall Street. Both JPMorgan Chase, which operates a major global payment processing business, and the Financial Services Roundtable, a lobbying group representing the nation’s biggest banks, began pressing Congress to reject the bill, arguing that it was unfair to hold banks accountable for the sins of others. Banks and payment processors didn’t want to have Hollywood telling them who to do business with.

The government’s ability to shut down sites would involve federal tampering with the domestic Domain Name System — a basic Internet building block that links numerical addresses where Internet data is stored to alphabetical URL addresses that people actually type into web browsers. The Chinese government censors the Internet for its citizens by engaging in DNS blocking, restricting access to certain domains.

Tech experts warn that giving the U.S. government such powers could hinder the functionality of many web applications, severing the connection between domain URLs and numerical data addresses that many programs rely on. It would also hamper efforts to introduce a new security system known as DNSSEC, which national security programmers have been developing for years.

“The Act would allow the government to break the Internet addressing system,” wrote 108 law professors in a July letter to Congress. “The Internet’s Domain Name System (“DNS”) is a foundational building block upon which the Internet has been built and on which its continued functioning critically depends. The Act will have potentially catastrophic consequences for the stability and security of the DNS.”

Leahy’s bill has whipped Internet advocacy groups into a frenzy. Dozens of nonprofits, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and The Center for Democracy and Technology, issued strong statements condemning the bill. Fifty venture capitalists sent a letter to the Hill warning lawmakers that Leahy’s bill could cripple tech startups with absurd legal fees prompted by Hollywood. …

Americans pay higher prescription drug prices than the citizens of any other nation, a product of strict intellectual property rules for prescription drugs. So many among the elderly and the uninsured import the same drugs at lower prices from Canada to avoid the sticker shock, a strategy advocated by both Consumer Reports
and AARP.

Though buying prescription drugs from Canada is technically illegal, the Food and Drug Administration has informally tolerated the purchases for years, provided the medicine is approved by prescription and is only for personal use.

SOPA includes a host of provisions designed to crack down on counterfeit medicine that are written broadly enough to encumber the importation of safe medicine from legitimate Canadian pharmacies. Provisions that bar the importation of “mislabeled” drugs would block a great deal of unsafe pills from making their way to the U.S., but they would also block all Canadian prescription drugs, because Canada’s drug warnings don’t exactly match FDA warnings.

“Our primary concerns are with the fact that non-infringing content is going to be taken down in the process of taking down infringing content,” says Michael MacLeod-Ball, First Amendment counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. “The way the bill is set up, if a site has infringing content on it … their default reaction is going to be to take down the whole site.”

While a judge has to review the Attorney General’s request to take down a site, nobody from the site being targeted must be given a chance to defend themselves before the judge grants the AG’s request. The AG doesn’t ask a judge for a search warrant under SOPA, it requests to take down an entire website without a trial — or even a hearing.

Under current law, any U.S. website posting infringing content has to take the song or movie down at the request of whatever company owns the copyright. But under SOPA, companies could go directly to web hosting companies and require them to take down the entire website — not just individual songs and videos.

As a result, SOPA creates a new opening for corporate command of the Internet. Under SOPA, web hosting companies that take down legitimate websites at the behest of copyright holders would be granted blanket immunity from any liability for losses caused to those legitimate sites.

“Congress is on the verge of wrecking the greatest engine of innovation and greatest platform for democracy ever known to human kind,” says David Segal, Executive Director of Demand Progress. “And for what? For the sake of propping up an ossified industry that refuses to change with the times, but happens to make a lot of campaign contributions.”

My site, ZeroHedge, Calculated Risk can all be shut down if a newspaper or other cite thinks we went beyond fair use in quoting an article. Drug imports from Canada (something that ought to be legal), will be shut down as well.

This bill’s real intent is not to stop piracy, but rather to hand over control of the internet to corporations.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

The comments are also very illuminating.

CJ
Looks like more corporatism to me, the American version of fascism. Ron Paul would not allow it….more
leochen24551
The problem that we have is that ‘our’ Capitol Hill Gang gets its financial support from the powerful K Street Lobbyists who keep their feeding troughs filled with green backs.And the powerful K Street Lobbyists are funded by Big Money and Big Business and Big Banks.Corporations have probably already figured out that when you compare the costs of doing business in a ‘Democracy’ vs. the costs of doing business in a Dictatorship — funded by Big Business and Big Money and Big Banks — that it’s more Cost Efficient for Big Business and BIg Money and Big Banks to be calling the shots, to be stipulating the Rules and Regulations of daily commerce and political life.

In that sense, the People’s Republic of China is probably the business model that appeals to American Big Business and BIg Money — though they would be the first to deny that — since that would be ‘unAmerican’.

And in place of the Chinese Communist Party, we would have the ONE% — which essentially already calls the shots….more

Mitch
leochen:
I follow your postings here and once again you are spot on. Couple SOPA with The Patriot’s Act, the Military Commissions Act with another likely to become law, the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and we have some really scary stuff. There is virtually no public discourse or corporate media talking about NDAA…
http://www.opencongress.org/articles/view/2449-Military-Detention-Bill-Set-for-Final-Votes-Obama-Drops-Veto-Threat
http://armstrongeconomics.files.wordpress.com/2011…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_Commissions_Act_of_2009
America had better wake up….it may be too late already…
http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/275-42/893…
http://readersupportednews.org/pm-section/425-nati…
…more
fedwatcher
“America had better wake up….it may be too late already…”Considering what the Republican Candidates are talking about and not talking about in their debates, the evidence is in that it is too late. Only the OCCUPY movement is touching on this….more
Jim,MtnViewCA,USA

Actually, TEA activists are covering this in detail.
Example: instapundit links to this article. But he brings up the issue daily, on average.
http://pjmedia.com/instapundit/133623/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2011/12/16/…
“Watching the House debate this bill yesterday was beyond pathetic. These representatives, if they deserve to be called that, have no idea the amount of power they’re giving the entertainment industry. Or maybe they do, as most of their pockets are lined with donations from media behemoths, and have been for years in the hopes that someday, they might pass a law like this.”

marting456
The push for SOPA is no way to stop piracy. Any Internet dummy knows that most piracy happens on P2P networks. There is no way to stop that unless you shut down the whole Internet. All clients support obfuscated connections so fighting it is useless. I think that the aim of SOPA is to give the government the power to shut down any website with an excuse. For example, people are organising an anti government rally on Facebook, the government makes up a claim that Facebook is used for piracy and shuts it down. Once the rage dissipated they fire some low level offical and promise it will never happen again.Expect P2P to take a much larger role in the Internet….more


IBM Lotus Symphony

December 18, 2011

For those who want a free office suite, Openoffice.org or Libreoffice.org are the most famous.  Not to long ago, however, I came a across another contender in the field-IBM Lotus Symphony.  I like it mainly because it puts all of my documents-spreadsheet/text editor/presentation-in tabs on one main screen.  This way I can easily skip between files by using the tabs.  The program is free, but you do have to register to get it.  Try it out, since it does not cost anything.

Another interesting option is to buy Ashampoo´s office suite which you can often get for $5-10 on sale.  If you download a free version of their older products, they will soon start sending you offers.


The TSA and the Police State

December 17, 2011

One of the things that most bothers me about the abuse of the TSA appears to be the almost complete silence and passivity in the country about it. If I do a search for videos about the TSA, I cannot find anything critical from the mainstream news. There appears to be almost a complete blackout on negative reporting of scandals involving the TSA. Neither do I find our political leaders bringing it up. Our feminist organizations are also mysteriously silent on the issue. Of course there are a lot of people complaining, but they’re doing so on the Internet. Our establishment organizations want to pretend that the problem doesn’t exist, and this is what scares me.

What if we woke up tomorrow and found out that an insider group was trying to take over the country, and turn us into a dictatorship, would anyone do anything? Seems that we have become an entirely neutered and passive nation. Our institutions become so corrupt that they cannot face evil, and the populace so distracted, busy and tired but they can either. We seem to have fallen a lot from the origins of our nation, and we dare to successfully defy the greatest empire of the time, and when. Now we just shrug our shoulders when faced with tyranny.

I say this because there is a small chance that we may be faced with some kind of military takeover in the next few years. It appears that Obama wants is a sign a law that would essentially give the military carte blanche to impose martial law on the nation. Once they have the power who’s to say that they will not use it? In fact if one wants to be extra conspiratorial one could assume that the TSA is one way to test how the American people, society and institutions react to the imposition of a mini police state in our airports. So far we have passed all the tests of passive submission with flying colors. Green light to go to the next stage of tyranny.

It certainly seems to me that it should not be considered normal that government employees should have the right to fondle and stripped-down anyone they choose as a matter of routine, without even needing to show probable cause, and all with an almost complete unaccountability. People go to jail for this kind of behavior. In fact I heard a case on the news were one woman who is being felt up by the TSA, decided to reach out and squeeze the TSA agents breast. The woman will apparently be accused of felony assault for doing so. So, apparently if we touch the TSA it is a felony assault, but if they touch us or strippers naked, that is his business as usual, and they cannot be held accountable.

The fact that the population is not up in arms, and that our institutions also seem to think that it’s fine is what worries me. What is the next step? What if you find a terrorist who put a bomb up his butt? Is every passenger now going to have a colonoscopy.

The mentality seems to be that as long as something can be justified in the name of “security” then it is okay. While genuine security is a laudable goal, giving up basic freedoms, due process, civil rights, civil liberties and our basic dignity is definitely not. We need to have a cost benefit analysis every time we implement security to determine whether the price we pay for security is really worth it or not. For me it’s clear that institutions like the TSA impose far more costs upon the nation, than any presumed benefit they provide by adding extra “security”.

What we have now with their airports is that the terrorists have already won. Someone jokingly said that our strategy is to remove our freedoms, so the terrorists will no longer attack as because you won’t have any more freedoms.

As far as I know Ron Paul is the only candidate who has promised to reform the system. In fact Ron Paul has promised to abolish the TSA, which I think would be wonderful. Just another reason to vote for Ron Paul.

 


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