Thursday, June 23, 2011

nuclear terrorism or negligence?

the self-serving security apparatus of the national security state never misses an opportunity to piggyback onto any calamity in an effort to replenish the old coffers. consider the latest dispatch from reuters addressing the potential for nuclear terrorism:
"Global action to protect the nuclear industry against possible terrorist attacks is urgently needed, a leading expert said, as are safety steps to prevent any repeat of Japan's Fukushima accident.
'Both al Qaeda and Chechen terrorist groups have repeatedly considered sabotaging nuclear reactors -- and Fukushima provided a compelling example of the scale of terror such an attack might cause,' Matthew Bunn of Harvard University said."
when it comes down to it, who needs terrorism to create a nuclear disaster, when industry, colluding with government through the captured regulatory bodies, is able to cause mass destruction on its own?

terrorists are hardly more adept -- or successful -- as the nuclear industry itself when it comes to putting the lives of millions at risk -- all the the pursuit of profits at the expense of safety.

it's well documented that the industry makes the regulations under which it operates, controlling both the US nuclear regulatory commission and the UN's IAEA. lately there have been revelations that when US nuclear plants failed to meet standards, the NRC obligingly lowered the standards in order to allow aging and unsafe plants to continue operating.

(there's also talk about the US government placing a news blackout on a north dakota nuclear facility that has just undergone a category 4 nuclear event related to the cooling of spent fuel rods.)

nevermind what you see and read in the US about nuclear power -- it's not to be taken at face value. just like the circus that was coverage of the fukushima disaster, everything is sugar-coated in order to put this dangerous and poorly managed technology in the best possible light. if it were truly as sound as we're manipulated to believe, the industry wouldn't be dependent on liability caps written into the law, and would be able to obtain insurance on the open market.

it's not terrorists we have to fear, but industry and corporate-controlled government, which use misdirection to deflect scrutiny from the true treat and unto phantoms which can be spun into ever more diabolic and threatening proportions.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

New Weiner Photos Trickle Out - Weinergate - Fox Nation

i had to go to "fox nation" for my daily emetic, and you know, it really works!

weinergate -- what a marketing orgasm for the headline writers, new weiner photos trickle out...

meanwhile, in arizona, the land of the free -- so long as you're white -- the largest wildfire in the state's history continues to flummox the climate change deniers.

but back to the congressman:
"Dismissing calls by Democratic leaders for him to resign over a sexting scandal, Rep. Anthony Weiner says he's taking a leave of absence and checking himself in for treatment instead.
But as House lawmakers return to Washington to work this week, they are being inundated not only with questions about the New York congressman's online antics, but with more pictures of the congressman in various states of disrobe.
On Sunday, TMZ released 11 new pictures of the congressman, taken from what appears to be the House gym, a background which sets off more questions about the congressman's use of congressional facilities for less than official purposes. The pictures were taken by Weiner using the camera on his phone and a mirror."
besides the guy being a narcissist, there's nothing particularly disturbing about the photos. the fox link to warns "may be offensive," but they've got the market on offensiveness cornered with their "news" coverage -- weiner's got nothing on rupert's gang...

weiner seems to be going through a "mid-life crisis" more than anything. he's aging and knows it, so his response is to flaunt his body in the gym for the little twitter twits who follow his spew. if a 17-year-old is following him, WTF is the problem? at that age, it was once understood, the genie is out of the bottle, and you can't pretend the tart's an innocent. we're all in a state of denial, of course, about our own unwholesome interest in this kind of tawdry bullshit.

when the market finally nosedives and the dollar tanks, and living standards tank for all the morons who couldn't suck up enough FOX sputum, we'll see how high anthony's wiener really ranked in the grand scheme of things.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

that's our story, and we're sticking with it...

i love the way these stories are spun. here's some guy who got gunned down by "security services" in somalia, and is then discovered to be one of africa's most-wanted terrorists. it's called a victory for the world by the agency that made the hit:
"It is a victory for the world. It is a victory for Somali army," Gen Abdikarim Yusuf Dhagabadan, Somalia's army chief, said.
then we come to the real purveyors of this narrative of the west prevailing against another one of its al-qaeda enemies, with the iron lady of US foreign policy weighing in:
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said the death of top African al-Qaeda militant Fazul Abdullah Mohammed is a 'significant blow' to the group.
He and another militant were killed earlier this week in a shootout with police at a checkpoint in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, officials said.
Mr Mohammed was the most wanted man in Africa, with a $5m bounty on his head.
He was suspected of having played a key role in the 1998 US embassy bombings in East Africa, which killed 224 people.
He was also accused of attacking Israeli targets on the Kenyan coast in 2002, and was recently believed to have been working with the Islamist militant group, al-Shabab, which controls much of southern Somalia.
the report is courtesy of the BBC, by the way.

where do they come up with these people? and how do they set them up to do all these dastardly deeds? these are the questions that continually baffle me.

the logistics of attacks such as these -- not to mention the coup de grace on 9-11 -- are simply too complex to be the undertakings of homegrown nobodies like this guy. and no international terrorist consortium has the means or know-how to operate on the scale and with the resources that the government's scenarios require.

al-qaeda and terrorism generally are elaborate put-ons, false flag ops by governments like ours, who consider the attacks "a small price for being a superpower," especially when they can be leveraged into more control, more money for the security establishment.

every once in a while we gun down some anonymous idiot and claim another victory in the war. how silly. how hopeless.

Friday, June 10, 2011

fukushima fuck-up

the obvious is now being acknowledged -- a scant 3 months too late!

when the quake and tsunami knocked the shit out of the fukushima nuke plant in japan on march 11, it was pretty damn obvious right away that there was a major, major crisis unfolding -- one of the greatest urgency.

yet what we got -- and pretty much all we've gotten since -- is vaguely reassuring double-talk from government and industry (one in the same, to an unfortunate extent) about how the situation was under control.

move along folks, nothing to see here...

now, at long last, the truth is finally coming to light, and it's just and grim and unsettling as anything you could imagine:
ALI MOORE, PRESENTER: Japanese authorities have admitted the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant in March may have been worse than a core meltdown.
In an official report that will go to the UN's nuclear watchdog, Japan says nuclear fuel in three reactors possibly melted through several pressure vessels and into the earth below. 
As North Asia correspondent Mark Willacy reports, a so-called melt-through is the worst outcome in a nuclear accident.
MARK WILLACY, REPORTER: For the Japanese the news from Fukushima gets worse every day. 
This week it went from a reactor meltdown to what they're calling a melt-through.
GOSHI HOSONO, SPECIAL ADVISOR TO JAPANESE PM (Translation): At present there is damage to the bottom of the reactor container, we call this ‘core melting’ in English. Part of the nuclear fuel has fallen onto the dry earth floor and it's possible that it's still lodged there.
MARK WILLACY: According to atomic experts, this is about as serious as it gets in a nuclear disaster. Dangerous levels of radioactive iodine and cesium have already contaminated the sea, the soil, groundwater, and the air.
This week plutonium was detected for the first time outside the stricken plant, and Strontium-90, known as a bone seeker because it can cause bone cancer and Leukaemia, has now been found as far away as 60 kilometres from the facility.
Higher levels were found closer to the plant in Minamisoma, a city of 70,000.
if you care to read more of this dispatch, it's from ABC Lateline (australia, of course -- this ain't no disneyland!)

about as serious as it can get... got that? what a bunch of rotten fucking assholes we have running this world!

Poll: keep weiner in the box

from politico we learn the not-too-surprising fact that most of congressman weiner's constituents want him to stay in there:
"Even as colleagues and commentators continue to call on Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) to resign, a majority of voters in his district want him to stay put, although support for his re-election was weak, according to a new poll.
A NY1-Marist poll conducted Wednesday in Weiner’s district, representing parts of Brooklyn and Queens, found 56 percent of registered voters there saying that the embattled congressman should not quit. One-third said he should step down and another 12 percent were unsure."
when it comes down to it, isn't that all that really matters? what's this national media spectacle about, anyway? 

just follow the money...

i suppose if we boil it all down, the message is, people would prefer to stick with the dickhead they know...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

racist backlash continues

the tea-party-fueled racist backlash in yahoo america just notched another victory today, as "Republican Governor Robert Bentley on Thursday signed into law a crackdown on illegal immigration in Alabama that both supporters and critics consider the toughest in the nation," according to reuters.

the wild-eyed, neo-fascist forces on the US political right have long agitated against foreigners. next to the niggers, this has been their most potent weapon in the assault upon reason and civility. it's sick and sad, but revealing, when the corporate establishment is willing to send its hired clowns out to demagogue on the issue of un-american invaders threatening "our" way of life.

on the other hand, it's a demographic time bomb and for the elites, it's more urgent than ever to sow as much discord and dissension as possible as a distraction while the wealth of the nation is carted away under the noses of these misinformed and easily manipulated "sentinels of freedom," who without cognitive dissonance seem to thrive upon limiting the freedoms of others.

in this peculiar manifestation of populist fury, the oft-reviled "fed'l gummit" is providing the big-brother chops for this grandiose surveillance initiative through use of its E-Verify database of "documented" workers. while we're chopping useless and obnoxious programs of the "nanny state," this is one particularly large and slow-moving target that the yahoo nation -- as gun-loving as it purports to be -- ought to be aiming to take out. instead, alabama embraces the tentacles of government intrusion and welcomes the all-seeing national security state into its workplaces -- and eventually it's living rooms and bedrooms.

the gotcha here, of course, is how will the work get done if there isn't a steady supply of wetbacks at hand, to which the reuters report contributes the following vignette:
Some pointed to concerns in Georgia, where farmers have complained that tough new curbs on immigration are creating a shortage of seasonal workers before they even go into effect.
But Gene Armstrong, mayor of Allgood, Alabama, a small community where the Hispanic population has grown to almost 50 percent, is not worried.
"We managed in the past without illegal immigrants to pick the tomatoes here, and I haven't heard anyone say that if we sent them all home nobody would be left to do that work," Armstrong said.
why yes, mr. mayor, you've got your nigras and your inbred, feeble-minded spawn of trailer trash, which once you pry their lazy asses from in front of the TV, might be induced to get out there in the broiling sun during these record heatwaves and droughts. they'd last all of 15 minutes until they'd be back in the pickup, roaring down the highway, popping open a cold beer and letting out a good 'ol rebel yell!

fergit, hell!

we forget at our peril how soft and spoiled we've become over the past generation, turned into paragons of painless consumerism and a national sense of entitlement. we've been led by a criminal class that has lied and vilified various scapegoats in order to parlay natural tendencies of resentment into an instrument of empowerment. so it's no surprise that the little people at the bottom of the barrel are watching what their leaders do and emulate it with relish and obvious pleasure at the thought of the pain and dislocation being afflicted upon others.

welcome to the club, suckers. today it's the mexicans, tomorrow it's your sorry ass that's being beat down.

Rep's wiener under more pressure

the pressure is building... and you knew it was coming!
"House Democrats are stepping up their calls to embattled Rep. Anthony Weiner to resign from Congress, saying the New Yorker's sexually charged contact with women on the Internet and lies to cover up the scandal are a distraction.
Rank-and-file Democrats such as Niki Tsongas of Massachusetts, Larry Kissell of North Carolina and Mike Ross of Arkansas have added their names to the growing list of Democrats calling on Weiner to resign.
'Enough is enough,' said Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., who is running for the U.S. Senate. 'It's time for Congressman Weiner to resign. Everyone should be focused on jobs and the economy and his refusal to do the right thing is a distraction.'"
the congressman has had his off-duty sexual dalliances sliced and diced by a media establishment that is hopeless when it comes to weightier matters. so it seeks out every 'ho that ever sucked a politico's ding-dong and prints pictures of the blonde, breast-augmented bimbos to build click counts among the terminally bored american public.

when you've maxed out the credit card, you have to get your by golly jollies somewhere else, right bubba?

i especially like congressman donnelly's comment above, about how everyone ought to be focused on "jobs and the economy" right now... which jobs would they be, congressman, if not blow jobs in back alleys? how easily the big wheels in DC forget the little guys out here scratching out a living like chickens in the back yard.

little anthony and his wiener got under a lot of pressure, until it felt like it might EXPLODE! what could little anthony do but tweet to twits about his bursting shorts? a man has NEEDS, especially a vigorous young man like little anthony.

as obsessed as we are collectively -- not only as a nation, but world-wide -- about sexual matters, how can we honestly expect that these guys don't want and need to GET OFF every now and then? and under all the pressures of the US political system, constantly having to bend over and take it to get those corporate campaign contributions, don't we cut these guys some slack when the pressure starts building and they decide to BLOW OFF some steam?

little anthony got caught with his pants on fire, a horny bastard like so many of us, but because he's under the media microscope he has to submit to every indignity of having his sexual preferences hung out on the clothesline for the worldwide neighborhood to gawk at.

we are all a bunch of voyeuristic perverts, and little anthony the pecker is taking the fall for all of us less-than-perfect, posturing pricks.

Arizona Wallow Fire is god's revenge

i had to click away from the "christian post" as quickly as i could. the continuous ads from yahoo and HBO touting a lifestyle and values i don't share was more than i could endure. i did, however, find the obligatory quote that the raging conflagration is "in god's hands" before signing off...

seems as though, whether god's involved or not, that things are getting kind of sticky in arizona about now... the firestorm is making its way toward essential infrastructure -- in the form of power lines -- that provide the lights and AC for about 350,000 homes out there in the desert. man conquers the environment my ass! if the weather doesn't cooperate, all bets are off:
"Texas-based power company El Paso Electric has issued warnings of possible power interruptions across southern New Mexico and West Texas. It is feared that two high voltage lines used to bring electricity from the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station west of Phoenix to the two states is at risk. If the fire does bring these lines down is estimated about 40 percent of the company’s supply would be lost, which could cause rolling blackouts for up to 372,000 customers."
why not play the christian right's game? these are the same folks who dismiss climate change as a commie plot against american free enterprise, and who persecute migrants escaping the effects of "free trade" agreements so beloved by "conservatives." they're the folks who, at every turn, are making a spectacle of their "values," and who now count sarah palin as a neighbor!

so let's consider this as god's judgement against arizonans! it's not because they persecute the weak and make a spectacle of their regressive social values, it's because THEY AREN'T HATEFUL ENOUGH!

that's right. this is god's judgement against you people: that you aren't retarded enough -- yet. keep working on it, guys. or else the lord is gonna get ya!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

class warfare in US politics

in today's USAtoday, we read how "Republican presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty takes aim at President Obama today, calling the Democrat he wants to defeat a 'major practitioner of class warfare.'"

it would be truly refreshing to hear that someone on the mainstream political scene was pushing for redress of the accelerating trend to economic inequality -- and the evisceration of the middle class.

this the GOP trash talk -- running down the obamanation as a socialist when he's nothing but a tool of his corporate masters. they can talk this shit to the palineolithic faithful, however, since they've already been indoctrinated to believe that there's a vast army of negroes and mexicans living a life of leisure while poor working crackers foot the bill.

GOP leaders in congress are on board with this silly talk, running down the unemployed and broke as lazy parasites sucking the government titty. while there are granted some of the above, they are vastly outnumbered by people scrambling just to get by -- while falling further behind every month. this is just a libel against those who are not well off, primarily by those who are better off, if just barely.

that, in a nutshell, is the true class warfare in the US, and its promoted by a cynical, billionaire-loving GOP establishment. it pits the people who have their heads barely above water against those who are going under.

great strategy. funny thing is, yahoo nation thinks it's in the winning class, being besieged by all the dark-skinned losers and social parasites... so they buy into the billionaires' war on the working classes, ensuring that by the time they're also desperate for government assisstance, none will be available.

ain't it rich?

Monday, June 6, 2011

5 more dead US soldiers in iraq -- are we winning yet?

just when you thought we were winning -- or perhaps more to the point, just when you stopped thinking about it at all -- the US military adventure force in iraq suffers another episode of multiple casualties. suddenly, our complacency is jolted, if only for about 30 seconds!
A rocket attack that killed five American soldiers in eastern Baghdad Monday inflicted the single worst death toll on US troops in Iraq in more than two years and renewed discussion of plans for the withdrawal of the remainder of US forces by year’s end.With some 47,000 US troops slated to leave the country by then, the attack could provide a new impetus for the Pentagon to push for an extension of the US military presence in the country.
US military officials have made it clear that while security on the ground in Iraq has improved in recent years, “there is still much work to be done and still plenty of extremists aided by states and organizations who are bent on pulling Iraq back into violence,” the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, said during a visit to Iraq in April.
for those of you who tuned iraq out in 2008, the "surge" had finally allowed the shiites to consolidate their hold over baghdad, and brought a seeming end to "active hostilities" that killed a lot of US military persons. the "mission accomplished" banner seemed finally to be vindicated by our brave fighting forces under crackerjack general david petraeus.

while the US retreated to its "enduring" -- and not permanent -- bases, iraq has teetered on the brink of more outright sectarian violence, going for months after elections without an elected government. there is no security in the country, and the level of services like electricity and clean water are still seriously lacking. the government recently announced, to put the icing on the cake, that iraq would be years behind initial goals for oil production.

in short, the situation there is seriously fucked up.

add to that this most recent incident. the particulars hardly matter, for in this case its enough to know that whatever lofty aspirations led the US to invade and destroy the once-prosperous nation of iraq, it has descended into a bloody wreck for which there is little hope of recovery any time soon.

in this context, we are looking at the agreement brokered between the US and iraq that mandates the last US combat troops must vacate their enduring bases by the end of the year. given the elasticity of the situation, it should be clear that washington is in no hurry to go anywhere. especially the enthusiasm in some of the DC establishment for war with iraq's neighbor and close friend, iran.

we were able to "shock and awe" the iraqi regime of saddam into submission, but the US is in a much different place -- militarily, economically -- in 2011 than it was in 2003. the neocons no doubt want their flank protected in the event of a regional war that an attack on iran would precipitate. after all, the US is on pretty thin ice without a shia uprising in the oil heartlands of the planet.

Clinton meets Israeli, Palestinian "peace envoys" ?

according to our buddies at rooty-toot reuters news, best pal of all the world's dictators, hillary clinton, went on the warpath for peace in the mid-east. or something like that:
(Reuters) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held separate meetings with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators on Monday as the United States seeks to find a way to revive moribund peace talks.
Clinton also met visiting French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe -- who launched a separate bid to start talks -- but said it was too early to consider a proposed Paris conference because neither side appeared willing to talk despite a looming September showdown over Palestinian statehood at the United Nations.
'We strongly support a return to negotiations, but we do not think that it would be productive for there to be a conference about returning to negotiations,' Clinton told reporters.
funny thing about this story -- and about the entire hapless, hopeless exercise -- is that there is no "peace process", just a bunch of posturing and meaningless blather. what is totally absent is any talk of negotiating a settlement -- and hence there are no peace envoys to speak of.

mahmoud abbas is the most pitiful, compromised bastard imaginable. of course, he represents the side in the conflict that is reduced to fighting off tanks and jet fighters with slingshots and bottle rockets, so he really has not much leverage. if the moral high ground had any meaning in the world these days, of course, that would really be something. but then, the palestinians would have a more inspiring leader, too...

on the other side, we have the israeli leader, benny netenyahoo, who is too busy trying to draw the US into a shooting war with the iranians to really pay much attention to the palestinians. he may be a little anxious, with all the upheaval in the MENA countries, but first things first. he knows he's got a first-rate patsy in the wipe house, who one way or another will be flim-flammed into fighting benny's war with the mullahs, so it's full speed ahead.

this situation will play itself out eventually, of course, when the US digs itself into a hole it can't get itself out of... and good luck with our good buddies in likud helping uncle sam outta that one!


Sunday, June 5, 2011

internet snooping: business, government, what's the diff?

according to the asphyxiated press, "It’s not Big Brother, but “big business’’ that Internet users are more worried about."

that's right, we and our fellow "surfers" are more concerned about commercial interests aggregating information about our online habits than we are about the government doing so. so's the word from the "latest study from the Center for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California."

the story, as printed in the LA times, is pretty much fluff 'n' stuff, with the pertinent nugget being, "nearly half of Internet-connected Americans age 16 and older worry about businesses checking what they do online. By comparison, 38 percent worry about the government doing so."

the public seems to be confused about the nature of the society we live in. otherwise these findings are quite difficult to reconcile with the background noise that is the history of the past decade.

ever since the events of 9/11 (and honestly, before that as well, but in those days there was no "national emergency" narrative on which to hang the national security state regime) it has been accepted as a necessity of our times that freedom must be circumscribed for the sake of security.

hence, we came to be given confirmation of what was already assumed: that the government was listening in on personal communications of US persons with impunity. news reports beginning in 2005 unveiled at least some of the NSA's "spying on communications and communications records of millions of ordinary americans since at least 2001."

the electronic frontier foundation went on to produce evidence that telecommunications carriers like AT&T were acting in concert with the government to allow the NSA to collect information on the company's customers. it later became apparent that other firms were doing the same, under then-novel bush administration legal theories giving the executive branch wide latitude to decide which laws could be applied to its activities.

while controversial at the time, and an issue in the 2008 presidential campaign, it turned out that both mainstream candidates -- who were serving US senators at the time -- voted to retroactively immunize the telecoms that had cooperated with the government against lawsuits and prosecution for spying on citizens in violation of the 4th amendment and the FISA laws.

this has been the trendline in american law for a decade and more, now, and sets the scene for where we find ourselves today.

so, companies keeping tabs on who you communicate with, what you say, what purchases you make? it's only to keep us all safe. in fact, the new motto for the telecommunications age might very well go:

be a friend, turn in a friend.

if you're interested in how the game is now played, check out the story of adrian lamo meets bradley manning at FDL. this has got to be one of the most curious, not to mention outrageous, episodes in recent government chicanery and evisceration of applicable laws -- an incredible tale of how the government and private concerns collude with and share information collected online.

are you still concerned that may share your online purchase history with others?

get used to it. the entire business model of the web now is based on the collection of as much identifiable private info on web surfers, primarily in order to target advertisements. it would be remiss, however, not to realize that every bit and byte of data that can be marketed and sold to a third party is not being at this very moment aggregated -- even the act of reading this blog post.

this is at least understood on some level by most people with a modest education and life experience. you'll commonly hear expressed the sentiment that, "they know everything about you." while the they remains vague, the assumption of some synergistic relationship between private corporate/financial and government security operatives is probably the most accurate.

it's a bit like one's credit score, that all-important barometer of participation in the grand financial ponzi that arches over this great construct of national security state. every bit of pertinent data in one's consuming life is kept on file, and metrics are applied to gauge consumer-readiness on the part of the subject.

with the increasing data-processing and storage capacities available to the security and investigative interests, the amount of collected data can increase exponentially. it was given an acronym and its own particularly menacing name during the bush years: total information awareness, or TIA. and in order to validate its sleazy bona-fides, the program was the brainchild and was to be stewarded by admiral john poindexter -- who was heavily implicated in what is known commonly as the iran-contra scandal (which was itself, in the true spirit of of government secrecy, never honestly or completely investigated -- see robert parry's ). 

while some info gathered on your web surfing is plenty mundane and hardly worth more than what a computer algorithm can tease out of it for ad-placement purposes, there's no reason to be complaisant about the footprints you leave online -- or through any form of communication you may choose to employ that makes use of the networks of corporate america.

it's not just thieves coveting your credit card information that one needs to be on guard against, when huge bureaucracies that know no law feel entitled to know every jot of your personal life.

this is supposed to be revenge for the great mortgage swindle?

a couple in naples, florida, after being "foreclosed" on by bank of america -- although there was no mortgage on the property whatsoever -- had their "revenge" on saturday.

after winning a judgement against the bank for expenses related to defense against the wrongful claim, the couple was forced to "foreclose" on BofA to satisfy the judgement. so, with the sheriff in tow, the couple descended on a local branch of the bank, demanding either immediate payment or seizure and sale of the branch's assets at auction to satisfy the debt.

after an hour of haggling, the couple's lawyer had a check for $2,534 in hand.

it makes for a great story, perhaps qualifying for the "weird" news section of the paper, or a man-bites-dog tale for local TV.

in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't amount to a hill of shit.

the great housing bubble during the dubya years was built on the legacy of financial "reform" during the clinton years, and turned staid bankers into financial fraudsters, and turned the mortgage business into a giant ponzi scheme.

BofA's error in foreclosing on a property with no mortgage is simply the tip of a very toxic iceberg. there are untold millions of mortgages out there with no clear title, since the industry created legal fictions in order to facilitate the repackaging of mortgages into securities that could later be sold as investments.

the business became so potentially lucrative that the banks threw caution to the winds, and threw all kinds of crap properties into these supposedly investment-grade securities, before pawning them off on the unwary. the housing bubble was a speculative three-ring circus, with spurious loans made to naive, unqualified buyers on properties whose value had no relationship to the underlying asset.

the banks created a system for bringing suckers into the market, selling them overpriced properties at terms they couldnt' afford, and profited by securitizing the loans and also by foreclosing when the loan went sour. they did this without the slightest restraint until the entire system collapsed -- when it became known that the banks had even bet against their own products, gaining even more obscene profits!

as if this wasn't bad enough, the government, in order to "save" the system, bailed out these fraudsters by buying the toxic assets at 100 percent of face value, and putting the taxpayer on the hook.

don't look now, but there's still tons more crap on the banks' balance sheets -- which they are not required to mark on their books at true market value -- so it appears the institutions are solvent when in reality they are not. it will again fall to the taxpayers -- under the current regime, at least -- to continue to bail out the banks.

when you see stories about the statutory debt limit needing to be increased so that the federal government can continue to borrow money to finance its operations, hopefully it won't stick in your craw too much to learn that a huge chunk of current and future debt comes courtesy of the bank bailouts.

so if you take some small measure of satisfaction out of the story of a couple in florida that foreclosed on a bank, don't be too pleased about "justice" being done. when the banks start coming up with trillions of dollars in compensation to taxpayers for what politicians cravenly gave away in exchange for political contributions, then it will be time to celebrate...

which will be in just about... never. sorry, suckers!

Friday, June 3, 2011

the bleak news of the bleak news industry

ever since the economy swan-dived into the sewer in the fall of 2008, and the obama financial "rescue" fully took form early the following year, it has been a commonplace observation that the wreckage done by the banks was so great that employment would show no significant signs of recovery until at least 2016.

so with today's non-farm payroll report showing that the "recovery" is anything but, how can the news media and its reliable "sources" continue to spew forth such wretched misinformation:
"A bleak jobs report suggests the recovery from the Great Recession will be longer and bumpier than many economists had envisioned.
Most economists say job growth should strengthen later this year as gasoline prices drop further and the economy recovers from the effects of natural disasters in the U.S. and abroad. But the recovery is starting to weaken 17 months before the 2012 election, which could hurt President Barack Obama's re-election prospects.
The unemployment rate in May inched up to 9.1 percent from 9 percent, the Labor Department said Friday; when Obama took office, it was 7.8 percent."
the media amuses itself with various pretentious features like the one we have in our local rag, which dares call itself "politfact." politfact endeavors to perpetuate the conventional wisdom, occasionally tagging the occasional political outlier as "pants on fire" for some dubious assertion, while when it comes to powerful schmucks like eric cantor, not only does he get a free pass, but his wife is on the newspaper parent company's board.

we'll never get anything approaching a credible journalism unless our media institutions are completely abandoned by an already-bored public, should they ever realize that the steady diet of pabulum they are fed by the media conglomerates -- which you can now count on one hand -- is just a distraction and a diversion. while they may tout themselves as the source of everything you need to know, the reality is almost the complete opposite:

what you need to know to protect yourself and your family is being obfuscated and hidden by forces loyal to our oligarchs, since no one has yet disproved the aphorism that no one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the american public.

did you see the story about how former presidential wannabe john edwards got indicted today for allegedly paying hush money to a former campaign worker with whom he had a child out of wedlock -- in an adulterous relationship!!!

this has been building as a story all week, and until it runs its course, it'll drive the financial chaos enveloping europe, as well as the escalating, illegal resource war against the libyan regime off the news pages and broadcast news. the US economy is in shambles, as the employment story attests, and yet the spinmeisters will  have banished the sour mood of the public with tawdry details of jaycee duggan's imprisonment by a perverted maniac, or the stomach-churning testimony in the caylee whatthefuck child-murder inquisition.

even as those stories are petering out -- or taking a weekend pause -- we have the demise of "dr. death," as jack kevorkian, proponent of assisted suicide was dubbed, of causes related to old age. after spending a number of years incarcerated for what seems to be a completely defensible and compassionate act, he lived out his years in blessed obscurity, as befits someone who went up against the machine that sensationalizes the suffering of others for its own profit, as it steers public attention from issues of far more demanding of passion and outrage.

if there's one thing we're missing here in the clusterfuck nation, it's a sense of personal responsibility and autonomy. we are being manipulated by the powers that run the amalgamation of institutionalized greed and destruction to be passive consumers of whatever trend of fashion that is pitched our way -- whether it be fear of terrorism or love of our iPods.

if this were not the case, would the chronically dysfunctional state of the national economy, and the lame and implausible assertions by politicians and their handmaidens in the press, be ladled out so uncritically within the mainstream conduits of news and information? could we continue to amuse ourselves with the antics of sarah palin playing cat and mouse with the media circus, if it was general knowledge how both political parties have robbed the taxpayers to pay off the bad bets of amoral bankers? would the president's nation of origin be more important than the payback to those same bankers from his administration is commensurate with the amount in contributions to his campaign in 2008?

we are being lied to and mislead in the most obvious and egregious manner, and yet the public's indignation seems to be aimed at mirages and holograms, projections of an alternate reality that is merely tasteless and banal, instead of malignant and evil. this is the bleak news feeds our minds and impoverishes our souls.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

caution: "cyber" double standard ahead

in the nauseating spirit of double standards that animates most of american foreign policy these days, we learn the following:
"The US is working on a plan to categorise cyber-attacks as acts of war, says the New York Times newspaper.
In future, a US president could consider economic sanctions, cyber-retaliation or a military strike if key US computer systems were attacked, officials have said recently.
The planning was given added urgency by a cyber-attack last month on the defence contractor, Lockheed Martin."
this is particularly curious, given the US' proclivity for flagrantly disregarding the sovereignty of other nations in the conduct of its "war on terrorism" would almost certainly be considered "acts of war" if the victims of our aggression had a chance in hell of mounting some kind of effective retaliation

whether it be the rendition program, where individuals are snatched off the street in some distant nation, and transported to a "black site" for torture, or the more egregious -- not to mention deadly -- conduct of assassination-by-drone campaign in places like pakistan and yemen, the US is engaged in the routine commission of acts of war in places where it has no business being, while committing acts clearly in violation of international law.

none of these nations, however, has the military muscle to respond to the provocations of uncle sam in the spirit in which they were given. so, like momo gadhafi in libya, all they can do it suck it up, and try to hang in there. in the grand scheme of things, nowadays simply enduring and surviving an attack by the US and its lackeys is construed as a sort of Pyhrric victory.

as for this cyber-war and the pentagon's new doctrine of retaliation against "state sponsors" of cyber-attacks, this is both an opportunity and a risky gambit by the military establishment. more enemies equals more money, in the perverted calculus of the war makers. at the same time, there are ample opportunities for misdirection and manipulation of cyber "attacks," where it can be difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish friend from foe.

there is one lesson to take from the amorphous "war on terror," and it applies in spades to cyber conflict: non-state actors working on behalf of shadowy sponsors, whose motives and goals are murky to impossible to fathom, make this "theater of operations" -- in pentagon jargon -- a bizarre, hostile and booby-trap-laden landscape where things are seldom what they appear to be.

when the pentagon announces a new mission, such as this, it implies a couple of things. first and worst of which is, this is an area where the pentagon itself has already positioned itself as to feel it has a huge tactical advantage already -- it feels secure in knowing (or thinking it knows) that it's far ahead of any adversary or potential adversary.

second is the presumption that if this is a mature enough battlespace to be publicized by the pentagon's psyops regime, there must be advanced planning underway to identify and attack predetermined targets against "rogue" nations -- those being the usual suspects with strategic resources who are not operating on behalf of multinational corporate and banking conglomerates that own and operate the US government.

it can be taken as a given that the US is not contemplating going to war directly with china or russia -- two potent forces in the global cyberwar battlespace -- but rather second-tier powers like iran, which pose a threat to corporate hegemony. incidentally, the foe is already engaged, with the US and partner israel having already attacked the iranians with the stuxnet virus, which hobbled iran's nascent uranium enrichment program.

the US flouts international law with impunity, and will continue to construct an ever-expanding list of provocations upon which it feels entitled to unleash the full brunt of its military muscle on weak and non-compliant nations. now that the cyber-war has been officially joined, watch for a coming confrontation -- the table is set. let the banquet of destruction commence!