Sunday, September 13, 2009

the raw truth about the war on drugs

Medical-Wiki | We are a nation of drug addicts. We drug ourselves, our elderly and our children on a daily basis. We do it with prescription medications, over-the-counter pills, alcohol, caffeine, nicotine… and we say it’s all fine because those drugs are legal.

But wait a minute, you say. Those legal drugs are different from marijuana. They’re FDA-approved drugs, prescribed by a doctor. They have a medical purpose.

Oh really? Ritalin has a medical purpose? What medical symptoms does Ritalin treat, then? What measurable physiological state is addressed with Ritalin? There are none, of course. Ritalin is an authority drug. It keeps children in line. It makes teachers feel less stress and parents feel less guilt. Ritalin is a mind-altering narcotic, and yet millions of children are on it today. Its purpose is not to help children, but to make life more convenient for those who manage children.

So what’s the real difference between legal drugs and illegal drugs? Some people think that only illegal drugs are habit-forming. Yet legal drugs can be just as addictive as illegal drugs. Just ask anyone who has tried to quit smoking, go off caffeine, or kick to Oxycontin habit.

So is there some other difference between illegal drugs and legal drugs? People argue that legal drugs are safe. They’re FDA-approved! And yet they fail to recognize that prescription drugs kill more Americans each year than all the crack, meth, and heroin deaths combined.

Okay, then, what about the argument that illegal drugs have no medicinal purpose, and legal drugs do have a medicinal purpose. What about that? Wrong again. Medical marijuana is a medically proven treatment for a variety of conditions, yet marijuana still remains illegal. Even MDMA (now called “Ecstasy” on the street) was long considered an effective “experiential drug” that helped severely traumatized adult patients overcome past pains through improved clarity. At the same time, tobacco smoke has no medical purpose whatsoever, yet cigarettes remain perfectly legal.

No, the real difference between these two classes of drugs is not their medical merit, nor their safety. The real difference is something far more sinister. It gets right down to answering the question of why DEA agents will raid medical marijuana clinics, yet stand by doing nothing while Americans smoke themselves to death on tobacco.

Want to know the real answer? I very much doubt you do. Because, like most Americans, you won’t believe it. You’ve been blinded to the obvious truth for your whole life, manipulated by the media, and brainwashed by advertising that has turned you into a statistically-validated consumer. You’ll think, no, this couldn’t possibly be true. The world isn’t that unjust, you think. But you’re wrong. (Take the free Gullibility Factor test to find out if you’re really a mind slave or not…)

Here’s the raw, blunt truth about the war on drugs. Drugs are declared legal or illegal based primarily on who benefits from their manufacture, distribution and sale.

cumulative impacts in a finite world

SEHN | The Overarching Structure Of U.S. Environmental Decision-Making

Our current property and environmental law, including both federal statutes and the common law, harbors the presumption that economic activity generally provides a net benefit to society despite any accompanying damage it may cause. Grounded almost invisibly in this starting presumption, most of our property and environmental laws permit interference with economic activity only where that starting presumption is proved false, that is, where a particular activity can be demonstrated to fail to provide a net benefit to society.

These laws for the most part do not forbid damage to human health or the environment. Rather, even when fully enforced they permit protection of human health or the environment only where the benefits of doing so can be proved to outweigh the costs. The theory is that this structure ensures that the legal system will not intervene in the economy unless the intervention will increase net social welfare. So it is that cost-benefit analysis has become the legal system’s primary tool for deciding when economic activity may be regulated in the interest of protecting human health and the environment.

The allocation of the burden of proof to government and plaintiffs has an enormous impact on environmental decision-making. Because of this allocation, the law permits damage to the environment not just when it appears cost-benefit justified but also whenever regulators and plaintiffs cannot carry their cost-benefit burden of proof. In cases of doubt or missing information, the law defaults to its starting presumption: it allows the damaging activity to continue. This allocation of the burden of proof transforms doubt and missing information into a barrier to legal protection of human health and the environment. This explains why industrial interests are rationally motivated under our legal system to invest in the manufacture and spread of doubt and confusion.

A simple diagram can represent the law’s prevailing structure for resolving conflicts between economic and environmental interests, as well as the economy this legal structure promotes. Figure 1 illustrates ever-growing social benefits produced by an exponentially growing economy (upper line). It also illustrates the growth in the accompanying cumulative environmental damage that the law permits by imposing on government and plaintiffs a cost-benefit burden of proof (lower line). This lower line might be thought of as depicting the growth in society’s ecological footprint.

Figure 1.

What is missing from this environmental decision-making structure is any recognition that the Earth has a finite and limited ability to sustain ecological damage, and that exceeding this limit will inevitably degrade the Earth’s ecological integrity. The reasons for these limits are plain. The Earth has a finite physical size, so that environmental damage becomes concentrated as it accumulates. The deep interconnection between the various constituents of the biosphere causes our various impacts to interact, each compounding the effects of the others. Moreover, species and ecosystems can be replenished only very slowly if at all, so that their losses accumulate with the passage of time.

A simple diagram can depict this ecological limit, too. Figure 2 includes a horizontal line that represents the finite limits of the Earth’s ability to sustain ecological damage. This is a limit that our current legal system is utterly blind to.

Figure 2.

Thus we see the fatal flaw inherent in our system of environmental decision-making. Routinely allowing all environmental impacts except those proved to fail a cost-benefit test, it permits those impacts to grow without limit even when their cumulative effect results in ecological overshoot. Many of these impacts occur not because they actually satisfy the law’s cost-benefit test but because whenever we do not know enough, the law’s default structure permits them to continue.

Even when cost-benefit analysis can effectively evaluate impacts when we are far below ecological limits, it cannot do so once we exceed those limits. Each incremental impact, if taken alone in an empty world, might have caused cost-benefit justifiable harm or even, in many cases (such as carbon emissions), no harm at all. But under conditions of ecological overshoot each incremental impact contributes to a total loss that is immeasurable. Indeed, the permanent loss of the ecological integrity of the Earth, since we need it to survive and prosper, might fairly be considered an infinite loss.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

teabaggers gone wild!!!!

NYTimes | When a security guard at the United States Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, was leaving for breakfast Monday morning, he froze at the sight of a crude poster of a rat hanging on his door.

“Warning!” the poster said in stark, black letters. “Rats can cost you your job and your family.”

The guard was a whistle-blower who had told of security lapses and lewd, drunken bacchanals by fellow workers, sparking an outcry and enraging Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Now he wonders whether he should have kept his mouth shut.

“Threats are still running rampant here,” he said in a telephone conversation from Kabul, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. “So even though it looks like State may finally turn things around, no one’s ready to celebrate yet.”

Such skepticism may be warranted.

A review of two years of e-mail messages, letters and memos reveals that the State Department had long known of the serious problems with ArmorGroup, the contractor chosen to protect its embassy. The complaints went beyond the lurid pranks that made headlines, the documents show, and included serious understaffing, bullying by management, petty corruption and abusive work conditions.

In fact, the deficiencies became so severe that they threatened the security of the compound, the documents show, and State Department officials withheld payments to ArmorGroup as a way to compel it to comply with the terms of its agreement. On a few occasions, government officials warned the company that if it did not correct the most egregious problems it would lose the five-year, $189 million deal.

Yet both times the contract came up for renewal, in 2008 and 2009, the State Department opted to extend it, officials confirmed.

As the teabagger sedition league is wont to profess, this is the ONLY thing that the gummint does well, and, it's the ONLY duty that the gummint has a constitutional right to impose on taxpayers universally.

another really bad precedent in light of...

..the years and years of bad road ahead...,

Washington Post | A federal appeals court rejected a lawsuit Friday against CACI International that accused the firm's employees of taking part in the torture and abuse of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

In a 2 to 1 ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit dismissed the case on the grounds that CACI should be immune from prosecution because the company's employees were under U.S. military authority.

"During wartime," wrote Judge Laurence H. Silberman, "where a private service contractor is integrated into combatant activities over which the military retains command authority, a tort claim arising out of the contractor's engagement in such activities shall be preempted."

The decision reversed a lower court's ruling in March that the company must face a lawsuit filed by former detainees who claim that they were tortured at the detention center near Baghdad.

contraception is the cheapest challenge to climate change

Telegraph | Contraception is almost five times cheaper as a means of preventing climate change than conventional green technologies, according to research by the London School of Economics. UN data suggests that meeting unmet need for family planning would reduce unintended births by 72 per cent.

Every £4 spent on family planning over the next four decades would reduce global CO2 emissions by more than a ton, whereas a minimum of £19 would have to be spent on low-carbon technologies to achieve the same result, the research says.

The report, Fewer Emitter, Lower Emissions, Less Cost, concludes that family planning should be seen as one of the primary methods of emissions reduction. The UN estimates that 40 per cent of all pregnancies worldwide are unintended.

If these basic family planning needs were met, 34 gigatons (billion tonnes) of CO2 would be saved – equivalent to nearly 6 times the annual emissions of the US and almost 60 times the UK’s annual total.

Roger Martin, chairman of the Optimum Population Trust at the LSE, said: “It’s always been obviously that total emissions depend on the number of emitters as well as their individual emissions – the carbon tonnage can’t shoot down as we want, while the population keeps shooting up.”

UN data suggests that meeting unmet need for family planning would reduce unintended births by 72 per cent, reducing projected world population in 2050 by half a billion to 8.64 million.

The research is published on the day that the Government’s climate change advisers, the Climate Change Committee, warned households and industry that a planned 80 per cent reduction in emissions are likely to prove insufficient.


Friday, September 11, 2009

german geothermal earth rumbles...,

NYTimes | Government officials here are reviewing the safety of a geothermal energy project that scientists say set off an earthquake in mid-August, shaking buildings and frightening many residents of this small city.

The geothermal plant, built by Geox, a German energy company, extracts heat by drilling deep into the earth. Advocates of the method say that it could greatly reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels by providing a vast supply of renewable energy.

But in recent months, two similar projects have stirred concerns about their safety and their propensity to cause earthquakes. In the United States, the Energy Department is scrutinizing a project in Northern California run by AltaRock Energy to determine if it is safe. (The project was shut down by the company last month because of crippling technical problems.) Another project, in Basel, Switzerland, was shut down after it generated earthquakes in 2006 and 2007 and is awaiting the decision of a panel of experts about whether it can resume.

The Landau project will be allowed to continue operating while the review panel, which held its first meeting last Friday, deliberates. Geox officials initially denied any responsibility for the temblor and continue to dispute the government’s data linking the project to the quake. The panel will, among other things, have to sort through the conflicting data presented by the company and government scientists.

But some experts in the field say they worry that projects like the one in Germany, if the managers deny responsibility for inducing earthquakes or play down the effects on people’s lives, could damage the reputation of geothermal energy, even in highly environmentally conscious areas of the world like California or Western Europe.Justify Full

theirs and ours - us and them

Boston Review | Warnings about the purposeful destruction of U.S. productive capacity have been familiar for decades and perhaps sounded most prominently by the late Seymour Melman. Melman also pointed to a sensible way to reverse the process. The state-corporate leadership has other commitments, but there is no reason for passivity on the part of the “stakeholders”—workers and communities. With enough popular support, they could take over the plants and carry out the task of reconstruction themselves. That is not a particularly radical proposal. One standard text on corporations, The Myth of the Global Corporation, points out, “nowhere is it written in stone that the short-term interests of corporate shareholders in the United States deserve a higher priority than all other corporate ‘stakeholders.’”

It is also important to remind ourselves that the notion of workers’ control is as American as apple pie. In the early days of the industrial revolution in New England, working people took it for granted that “those who work in the mills should own them.” They also regarded wage labor as different from slavery only in that it was temporary; Abraham Lincoln held the same view.

And the leading twentieth-century social philosopher, John Dewey, basically agreed. Much like ninetheenth-century working people, he called for elimination of “business for private profit through private control of banking, land, industry, reinforced by command of the press, press agents and other means of publicity and propaganda.” Industry must be changed “from a feudalistic to a democratic social order” based on workers’ control, free association, and federal organization, in the general style of a range of thought that includes, along with many anarchists, G.D.H. Cole’s guild socialism and such left Marxists as Anton Pannekoek, Rosa Luxemburg, Paul Mattick, and others. Unless those goals are attained, Dewey held, politics will remain “the shadow cast on society by big business, [and] the attenuation of the shadow will not change the substance.” He argued that without industrial democracy, political democratic forms will lack real content, and people will work “not freely and intelligently,” but for pay, a condition that is “illiberal and immoral”—ideals that go back to the Enlightenment and classical liberalism before they were wrecked on the shoals of capitalism, as the anarchosyndicalist thinker Rudolf Rocker put it 70 years ago.

There have been immense efforts to drive these thoughts out of people’s heads—to win what the business world called “the everlasting battle for the minds of men.” On the surface, corporate interests may appear to have succeeded, but one need not dig too deeply to find latent resistance that can be revived. There have been some important efforts. One was undertaken 30 years ago in Youngstown Ohio, where U.S. Steel was about to shut down a major facility at the heart of this steel town. First came substantial protests by the workforce and community, then an effort led by Staughton Lynd to convince the courts that stakeholders should have the highest priority. The effort failed that time, but with enough popular support it could succeed.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

tightening the corporate grip: the stakes at the supreme court

EssentialLists | Can things get still worse in Washington?

Yes, they can. And they will, if the Supreme Court decides for corporations and against real human beings and their democracy in a case the Court will be hearing today, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

Until reaching the Supreme Court last year, this case has involved a narrow issue about whether an anti-Hillary Clinton movie made in the heat of the last presidential election is covered by restrictions in the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. However, in a highly unusual move announced on the last day of the Supreme Court's 2008 term, the justices announced they wanted to reconsider two other pivotal decisions that limit the role of corporate money in politics.

The Court ordered a special oral argument on the issue, before the full start of their 2009 term in October.

The Court will today hear argument on whether prior decisions blocking corporations from spending their money on "independent expenditures" for electoral candidates should be overturned. "Independent expenditures" are funds spent without coordination with a candidate's campaign. The rationale for such a move would be that existing rules interfere with corporations' First Amendment rights to free speech.

Overturning the court's precedents on corporate election expenditures would be nothing short of a disaster. Corporations already dominate our political process -- through political action committees, fundraisers, high-paid lobbyists and personal contributions by corporate insiders, often bundled together to increase their impact, threats to move jobs abroad and more.

On the dominant issues of the day -- climate change, health care and financial regulation -- corporate interests are leveraging their political investments to sidetrack vital measures to protect the planet, expand health care coverage while controlling costs, and prevent future financial meltdowns.

The current system demands reform to limit corporate influence. Public funding of elections is the obvious and necessary (though very partial) first step.

Yet the Supreme Court may actually roll back the limits on corporate electoral spending now in place. These limits are very inadequate, but they do block unlimited spending from corporate treasuries to influence election outcomes. Rolling back those limits will unleash corporations to ramp up their spending still further, with a potentially decisive chilling effect on candidates critical of the Chamber of Commerce agenda.

The damage will be double, because a Court ruling on constitutional grounds would effectively overturn the laws in place in two dozen states similarly barring corporate expenditures on elections.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

making ends meet in the great depression

NYTimes | AT a time when life in America is beginning to resemble a roller-coaster ride on the way down and everyone is trying to find ways to save money, it may be instructive — both in terms of offering helpful hints and putting things in perspective — to look at how people ran their households during the Great Depression.

Back then there was little money for food, let alone new curtains, but people found ways to cope. Backyard gardens were cultivated not because of a sudden itch to eat locally grown produce, but out of necessity; homeowners did their own repairs and found ingenious ways to make their homes functional and attractive.

Below, some who lived through the Depression share their memories. Peter Holden worked for the New York City parks department for 35 years and still lives in Manhattan. He grew up in Raleigh, N.C., where his mother took a job as a cleaning woman for North Carolina State University when he was 7, after the death of his father, a brick mason. Mr. Holden’s home had electricity, but no water; water had to be drawn from a neighbor’s well or hauled from a stream several houses away.

We lived high up on a hill above the southwestern campus, and we just worked together and shared. There was a great feeling of cooperation and help, even among the poor whites and the poor blacks. My grandfather had a farm and most any time he would come in, he would bring enough for two or three days — corn or tomatoes, whatever the season was — and we would share.

We ate beans maybe four times a week, boiled in salt pork. On Saturday or Sunday somehow or other we would have a nice meal. My mother would bring back a steak, that might have been 25 cents a pound. She was paid $8 or $9 a week, but at that time you could have more than a whole week’s groceries with that and have a little money left over.

She got laid off from the N.C. State job and there was just no jobs around Raleigh, so she went to Stamford — she had a sister living up there — and took my younger sister with her. I finished high school in 1934.

My mother always told us you can be anything you want, don’t come here telling me you can’t be this and they won’t let me be that.

That first year, I didn’t think I would be able to go to college, but my mother sent $10 from Stamford. She said, ‘Boy, you take this to St. Augustine’s and see if they don’t take this as a down payment, and if they don’t take it, you send my money back to me or I’ll come back to Raleigh and beat you all over.’

So I went out and tried to discourage St. Augustine’s, but they took me. I graduated college in 1938.

Like my mother said, if you really want to do something you can.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

growing poverty and despair in america

MediawithConscience | On August 6, the US Department of Agriculture reported a record 34.4 million Americans (one in nine) receiving food stamps in May as unemployment keeps surging. It was the sixth consecutive monthly record, and every state showed an increase as economic conditions worsen.

On September 10, the Commerce Department will release 2008 census data expected to show around another 1.5 million people added to the poverty rolls over 2007 figures - a total of nearly 39 million representing 12.7% of Americans. According to Rebecca Blank, Economic Affairs Undersecretary, final numbers aren't yet in and may be worse than expected because of how bad things are for growing numbers in the country. She believes if (U-3) unemployment hits 10% (up from 9.4% now), poverty could reach 14.8% this year and rising because of jobs and homes lost, savings exhausted, and the sharpest ever decline in personal wealth between mid-2007 and December 2008.

Worst of all, conditions for most people are deteriorating as businesses, states, and local governments shed workers and cut budgets at the worst possible time. It promises harder times ahead and potentially millions more impoverished.

Homelessness Facts
Annually, two - three million Americans, including 1.3 million children, experience homelessness and many more are at risk. Most vulnerable are those losing jobs, homes, and the millions of low-income workers paying 50% or more of their income in rent so that a missed paycheck, health emergency, or unexpected financial burden makes them vulnerable to homelessness at a time government aid is being cut.

Criminalizing the Homeless
In the face of a growing burden on society's most needy, the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty reported that "many cities use the criminal justice system to punish people living on the street for doing" what they must to survive. Local ordinances prohibit sleeping, camping, eating, sharing food, sitting, loitering, and/or begging in public places with criminal penalties imposed on offenders. Some cities even punish organizations and individuals for helping, and the idea always is to keep the unwanted out of sight, mind, and preferably out of cities, at least in or near more affluent areas or business districts.

As economic conditions deteriorate, the problem will grow and so will the plight of the homeless as cities crack down harder in violation of constitutional and international human rights laws.

The OECD's 2008 Report, "Growing Unequal?: Income Distribution and Poverty in OECD Countries

It states that America "is the country with the highest inequality level and poverty rate" among the 30 OECD countries, ranking only ahead of Mexico and Turkey. In addition, since 2000, inequality grew rapidly, "continuing a long-term trend (going) back to the 1970s" when inflation-adjusted household incomes began falling.

income distribution and poverty in oecd countries

OECD | Whether the burden of any recession is felt by some social groups and countries more than others depends largely on public policy. Will government step up to the plate? New actions are needed, and a new report spells out the issues.

The world has seen recent decades of rapid growth. This has been most obvious in newly-industrialising countries, notably China and India, but has been shared by OECD countries. Yet the fruits of this economic growth have not been equally divided–either between countries or within countries. As it is put in the introduction to a new OECD report, Growing Unequal?, “there is widespread concern that economic growth is not being shared fairly” (page 15, see references). A rising tide does not necessarily raise all boats. Or, to use another liquid metaphor, we cannot rely on trickle-down.

This major OECD report assembles a wealth of evidence about changes in income inequality and poverty over the period from the mid-1980s to the mid-2000s, covering all 30 developed countries of the OECD. The sober statistics provide a much needed counterpoint to what the authors call the “Hello magazine effect” that highlights the super rich. The statistics show that few OECD countries have reduced inequality over the past 20 years. The past five years saw growing inequality and poverty in two-thirds of OECD countries. The report quotes the US president, George W. Bush in his 2007 State of the Economy speech: “our citizens worry about the fact that our dynamic economy is leaving working people behind”.

The OECD report has growth in its title, but the time of its publication inevitably leads the reader to ask: what will happen if the next decade is one, not of world growth, but of world recession? If a rising tide does not lift all boats, how will they be affected by an ebbing tide? Recession–if it comes–does not sound like good news for those on the margins of the labour force. Small savers, as well as bankers, are affected by the financial crisis. Is it a case of “heads, the rich gain; tails, the poor lose”?

Many commentators on the current economic crisis say that it is unprecedented in the post-war period; they are harking back, not 20 years to 1987, but some 80 years to 1929. In considering the distributional implications, too, we need to go back in time. Here the data are sparse, but we can say something, particularly about the upper part of the income distribution. In our book, Top Incomes over the Twentieth Century, Thomas Piketty and I have brought together studies for a number of OECD countries that show how the share of the top 1% changed following the Great Crash of 1929. This did indeed affect the rich, who had prospered in the Roaring ‘20s. In a number of countries, top income shares fell: in the US, the shares of the top 0.1 and 0.01% were reduced by between a quarter and a third. Top income shares fell in Australia, France, the Netherlands and the UK. But they did not fall universally, and, as the Great Depression ensued, other income groups were seriously affected.

Monday, September 07, 2009

petrocalypse now?

SeekingAlpha | Peak Oil and the IEA (What they don’t want you to know…) “We are facing a serious threat”

Dr. Fatih Birol, Chief-Economist of the International Energy Agency (the agency which advices OECD countries on oil, including the US) and “one of the most powerful men on earth” according to the British newspaper, The Guardian[1] has lately attracted extensive media attention.

Indeed, in a recent interview to the British newspaper, The Independent[2], Dr. Birol was reported of saying that the world was heading for a catastrophic energy crunch that could cripple a global economic recovery.

The article added, “In an interview with The Independent, Dr Birol said that the public and many governments appeared to be oblivious to the fact that the oil on which modern civilisation depends is running out far faster than previously predicted and that global production is likely to peak in about 10 years – at least a decade earlier than most governments had estimated”.

In fact, in 2008 the IEA conducted for the first time[3] a detailed field-by-field analysis of global oil production and its findings are bleak. Asked by a journalist on what the previous analysis relied on, the Chief-Economist of the IEA admitted, “it was mainly an assumption”[4]. In the 2008 World Energy Outlook (the key document on oil used by OECD countries), they have analysed about 800 fields, which account for ¾ of global reserves and more than 2/3 of global oil production[5]. They come to the conclusion that decline rates are far higher than previously thought, between 6.7 and 8.6% a year[6]. As result, they now estimate that to maintain the current levels of oil production (about 85 MBD) by 2030 the world would need to develop and produce 45 MBD; as said by Dr. Fatih Birol, approximately four new Saudi-Arabias[7].

Simultaneously, they have analysed all the projects that are financially sanctioned in all the countries in the world (about 230) up to 2015. As it takes five to ten years to produce oil from a new field, they have a clear image of the coming situation. When they add all the projects together (if all of them see the light of the day –unlikely with the current credit crunch[8]-) they will bring about 25 millions barrels per day[9]. However, because of the important decline rates, the world will still be short of “at least” 12.5 MBD before 2015[10]. Asked by a journalist if this means Peak Oil, Dr. Birol answered, “We are facing a serious threat”[11].

Nevertheless, things are never clear when it comes to the IEA and Peak Oil, especially with Dr. Birol.

natural gas hits a political roadblock

NYTimes | The natural gas industry has enjoyed something of a winning streak in recent years. It found gigantic new reserves, low prices are encouraging utilities to substitute gas for coal, and cities are switching to buses fueled by natural gas.
Skip to next paragraph
F. Carter Smith/Bloomberg News

Aubrey McClendon of Chesapeake Energy blamed “Congressional apathy” for coal’s price advantages.

But its luck has run out in Washington, where the industry is having trouble making its case to Congress as it writes an energy bill to tackle global warming.

For all its pronouncements that gas could be used to replace aging, inefficient coal-fired power plants — and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the process — lawmakers from coal-producing states appear committed to keeping coal as the nation’s primary producer of power.

Those influential lawmakers, from both parties, say that new technologies under development to capture and bury emissions of coal are a better bet than gas for long-term solutions to climate change.

The difference of opinion is about more than what is best for the environment, of course. Industry profits are riding on the outcome of the discussion — a rich mix of politics, environment, science and business.

A climate-change bill that passed the House in June, intended to cap greenhouse gas emissions, delivered benefits to renewable fuels like wind and solar and strengthened building codes to conserve energy.

But the cost of emitting carbon dioxide emissions under the terms of the bill remained at levels that would continue to provide a price advantage for coal in many regions of the country.

The Senate is planning to begin writing its own bill later this month.

there but for the grace of god....,

NYTimes | They were left out of the latest unemployment rate, as they are every month: millions of hidden casualties of the Great Recession who are not counted in the rate because they have stopped looking for work.

But that does not mean these discouraged Americans do not want to be employed. As interviews with several of them demonstrate, many desperately long for a job, but their inability to find one has made them perhaps the ultimate embodiment of pessimism as this recession wears on.

Some have halted their job searches out of sheer frustration. Others have decided it makes more sense to become stay-at-home fathers or mothers, or to go back to school, until the job market improves. Still others have chosen to retire for now and have begun collecting Social Security or disability benefits, for which claims have surged.

Rick Alexander, a master carpenter in Florida who has given up searching after months of effort, said the disappointment eventually became unbearable.

“When you were in high school and kept asking the head cheerleader out for a date and she kept saying no, at some point you stopped asking her,” he said. “It becomes a ‘why bother?’ scenario.”

The official jobless rate, which garners the bulk of attention from politicians and the public, was reported on Friday to have risen to 9.7 percent in August. But to be included in that measure, which is calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics from a monthly nationwide survey, a worker must have actively looked for a job at some point in the preceding four weeks.

For an increasing number of people in this country who would prefer to be working, that is not the case.

vampires biting at bubbles...,

NYTimes | After the mortgage business imploded last year, Wall Street investment banks began searching for another big idea to make money. They think they may have found one.

The bankers plan to buy “life settlements,” life insurance policies that ill and elderly people sell for cash — $400,000 for a $1 million policy, say, depending on the life expectancy of the insured person. Then they plan to “securitize” these policies, in Wall Street jargon, by packaging hundreds or thousands together into bonds. They will then resell those bonds to investors, like big pension funds, who will receive the payouts when people with the insurance die.

The earlier the policyholder dies, the bigger the return — though if people live longer than expected, investors could get poor returns or even lose money.

Either way, Wall Street would profit by pocketing sizable fees for creating the bonds, reselling them and subsequently trading them. But some who have studied life settlements warn that insurers might have to raise premiums in the short term if they end up having to pay out more death claims than they had anticipated.

The idea is still in the planning stages. But already “our phones have been ringing off the hook with inquiries,” says Kathleen Tillwitz, a senior vice president at DBRS, which gives risk ratings to investments and is reviewing nine proposals for life-insurance securitizations from private investors and financial firms, including Credit Suisse.

“We’re hoping to get a herd stampeding after the first offering,” said one investment banker not authorized to speak to the news media.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

medieval accusations

Countercurrents | The hyperventilating by Israel’s leaders [1] over a story published in a Swedish newspaper last month [2] suggesting that the Israeli army assisted in organ theft from Palestinians has distracted attention from the disturbing allegations made by Palestinian families that were the basis of the article’s central claim.

The families’ fears that relatives, killed by the Israeli army, had body parts removed during unauthorised autopsies performed in Israel have been overshadowed by accusations of a “blood libel” directed against the reporter, Donald Bostrom, and the Aftonbladet newspaper, as well as the Swedish government and people.

I have no idea whether the story is true. Like most journalists working in Israel and Palestine, I have heard such rumours before. Until Bostrom wrote his piece, no Western journalist, as far as I know, had investigated them. After so many years, the assumption by journalists was that there was little hope of finding evidence -- apart from literally by digging up the corpses. Doubtless, the inevitable charge of anti-semitism such reports attract acted as a powerful deterrent too.

What is striking about this episode is that the families making the claims were not given a hearing in the late 1980s and early 1990s, during the first intifada, when most of the reports occurred, and are still being denied the right to voice their concerns today.

Israel’s sensitivity to the allegation of organ theft -- or “harvesting”, as many observers coyly refer to the practice -- appears to trump the genuine concerns of the families about possible abuse of their loved ones.

Bostrom has been much criticised for the flimsy evidence he produced in support of his inflammatory story. Certainly there is much to criticise in his and the newspaper’s presentation of the report.

Most significantly, Bostrom and Aftonbladet exposed themselves to the charge of anti-semitism -- at least from Israeli officials keen to make mischief -- through a major error of judgment.

They muddied the waters by trying to make a tenuous connection between the Palestinian families’ allegations about organ theft during unauthorised autopsies and the entirely separate revelations this month that a group of US Jews had been arrested for money-laundering and trading in body parts. [3]

In making that connection, Bostrom and Aftonbladet suggested that the problem of organ theft is a current one when they have produced only examples of such concern from the early 1990s. They also implied, whether intentionally or not, that abuses allegedly committed by the Israeli army could somehow be extrapolated more generally to Jews.

The Swedish reporter should instead have concentrated on the valid question raised by the families about why the Israeli army, by its own admission, took away the bodies of dozens of Palestinians killed by its soldiers, allowed autopsies to be performed on them without the families’ permission and then returned the bodies for burial in ceremonies held under tight security.

organ failure

Slate | With the right ingredients of salaciousness and scandal, the news appeared to be straight out of a Hollywood screenplay: corrupt politicians, money laundering, people being arrested by the busload, raids on synagogues, an Apple Jacks cereal box stuffed with $97,000 in cash, and rabbis trafficking organs. Allegedly, one paid $10,000 to an impoverished Israeli for his or her kidney and tried to sell it for upward of $150,000 in the United States. The criminal complaint quotes the rabbi as saying he was in the organ business for a decade. (And in a you-can't-make-this-stuff-up twist, it wasn't even the day's only story on Israelis trafficking human body parts.)

The rabbis' organ trafficking was only one of their many indiscretions. In addition to being against the law, it raises a complex bioethical issue for Jews, one laced in a culture of moral imperatives. Is illegally buying an organ really wrong if it's saving someone's life? Is paying for altruism, by definition, counterintuitive? Jews have been battling this quandary for a long time, especially when you consider how little they themselves actually help the cause of transplantation.

"Jews don't like to donate organs," says Rabbi Michael J. Broyde, one of the founding members of the Beth Din of America, the equivalent of the Supreme Court of the Jewish justice system. "They don't donate at the rate of other social groups." This imbalance—of taking more from organ banks than they are putting in—has put Jews around the world at odds with transplant technology. Israel has suffered for years with an organ shortage, forcing its residents to engage in "transplant tourism" in places across Europe and, most notably, in China. According to statistics from Israel's transplant authority and the United Network of Organ Sharing, the number of people who hold an organ donation card in Israel is at a paltry 8 percent. Most Western countries hover closer to 35 percent.

In an attempt to repair the disparity, Israel passed a law last year that made it easier to become an organ donor. But it took a while. Earlier versions of the bill failed because people feared it would lead to "rabbinical supervision" of the time of death: They thought doctors and rabbis might conspire to hasten a patient's death if they knew they could harvest organs. An Israeli organization called Adi, formed by a family who lost their son while he was waiting for a kidney transplant, has worked tirelessly to try to promote awareness among the Israeli populace of the moral imperatives of being an organ donor. But for a religion that prides itself on being a "light unto the nations," it's an oddly uphill battle. Some in the ultra-Orthodox community oppose the Adi initiative so fiercely that they have actually created "life cards" that state explicitly that the cardholder does not want to donate organs under any circumstances.

There are a whole host of reasons why Israelis—and Jews in general—don't wish to part with their anatomy even after they die. For some, it's simply taboo, yet another guilt-laden stigma in an already guilt-laden religion. Others believe it is a biblical commandment to be buried whole without any missing organs.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

thymos and psyche

Thymos | Greek thought evolved an intriguing division of mental life into two souls, the Thymos (pron: "theemos") and the Psyche.
  • The Thymos pertains to the active soul, what we today refer to thought, consciousness, awareness, etc.
  • It was associated with breath, heart and liver. Breath was identified with soul, as in most ancient systems of philosophy (the Hindu "atman" comes from the word for "breathing") and with language (breath is what you need to utter sounds). Liver was reputed to be the origin of emotions (there must have been painful liver diseases at the time :-). The heart was considered the seat of desires and intentions.
  • The Psyche is the immanent soul, independent from the body, a precursor of the eternal soul of Christianity that survives the body in the other world.
It appears that this was a very ancient belief, predating civilizations, as the same distinction can be found in most ancient cultures: in Egypt there were the ba and ka, in China the p'o and hun, in Judaism the nephesh and the ruach, in Buddhism the kama-manas and the buddhi-manas, in Zoroastrianism the daena and the urvan. Countless esoteric beliefs, all derived from ancient theosophies, distinguish between an active entity (alaya-vijnana, karana-sarira) and a passive entity (manas, suksma-sarira). Interestingly, the concept was abolished by Christianity but resurfaced in Islam (the ruh and the nafs).

In ancient Greece the Thymos became the active, rational and mortal part of the person (the part that has control over the body), while the Psyche became the quiescent and immortal part of the person.

The Thymos became a core concept of Socrates' philosophy. In Socrates' theology the doctrine of Thymos is a meditation on the history of philosophy from Homer to Socrates himself, by which Socrates hails the passage from unconscious philosophizing to rational self-consciousness. Interestingly, Socrates warned against the dangers of self-awareness. He warned that consciousness would cost us greatly, both in terms of desire to live and in terms of our harmony with nature. In Plato's late dialogues this contradiction has a happy ending, as Socrates finds in conscious thought the meaning of life itself.

Platonic philosophy elevated the Thymos above the Psyche. The Psyche is viewed as a sort of lower mind that can connect with either a higher mind (nous), that a Christian may perhaps interpret as God, or with the Thymos, that a Christian cannot interpret because it has no correspondent. Thymos is the cause of anger and passion. In a sense, it is opposite of meditation.

economics from the religious right

TheocracyWatch | From Let There Be Markets: The Evangelical Roots of Economics:

[Writing about the early eighteen hundreds] For [evangelicals] it was unthinkable that capitalism led to class conflict, for that would mean that God had created a world at war with itself. The evangelicals believed in a providential God, one who built a logical and orderly universe, and they saw the new industrial economy as a fulfillment of God's plan. The free market, they believed, was a perfectly designed instrument to reward good Christian behavior and to punish and humiliate the unrepentant.

At the center of this early evangelical doctrine was the idea of original sin: we were all born stained by corruption and fleshly desire, and the true purpose of earthly life was to redeem this. The trials of economic life-the sweat of hard labor, the fear of poverty, the self-denial involved in saving-were earthly tests of sinfulness and virtue. While evangelicals believed salvation was ultimately possible only through conversion and faith, they saw the pain of earthly life as means of atonement for original sin.

Moreover, they regarded poverty as part of a divine program. Evangelicals interpreted the mental anguish of poverty and debt, and the physical agony of hunger or cold, as natural spurs to prick the conscience of sinners. They believed that the suffering of the poor would provoke remorse, reflection, and ultimately the conversion that would change their fate. In other words, poor people were poor for a reason, and helping them out of poverty would endanger their mortal souls. It was the evangelicals who began to see the business mogul as an heroic figure, his wealth a triumph of righteous will. more

The God-given Right of Property Owners
"The purpose of government is to protect the life, liberty and property of all individuals, by punishing evildoers and encouraging the righteous." (America's Providential History p.20) On p. 128-129 the book discusses the "Biblical" principles of the Constitution proposed by Samuel Adams, "Father of the American Revolution." The third prinicple is the "right to property," which is one of the "rights of Colonists as Christians."

"Scripture defines God as the source of private property...Ecclesiastes 5:19 states, 'For every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, He has also empowered him to eat from them'...Also in I Chronicles 29:12, 'Both riches and honor come from Thee." (pps 187-188)

The Texas GOP Platform also espouses the absolute right of property owners which puts them in league with the Constitution in Exile movement described in a New York Times article, April 17, 2005.

calvin, the free market, and poverty..,

TalktoAction | Max Weber noted the synergy between fundamentalist Calvinism and Free Market ideologies in his famous book, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.~1. In the United States this created a particular frame in which the idea of personal initiative and rugged individualism was linked to a blame-the-victim narrative. Anyone who fell through the cracks of a Free Market economy had no one to blame but themselves. This frame shifts attention away from structural, institutional, and systemic causes of poverty and toward individual failure.

The idea behind “Faith-Based Initiatives” is to remove the government’s communal responsibility to design an equitable economic system. This is justified by the underlying ideological claims of fundamentalist Calvinism and Free Market ideologies.

Friday, September 04, 2009

genomic study yields plausible cause of colony collapse disorder

Infection Research | Researchers report that they have found a surprising but reliable marker of colony collapse disorder (CCD), a baffling malady that in 2007-2008 killed off more than a third of commercial honey bees in the U.S. Their study, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the first to identify a single, objective molecular marker of the disorder, and to propose a data-driven hypothesis to explain the mysterious disappearance of American honey bees.

The new study made use of the genome and a genome-based tool, the microarray, to look for differences in gene expression in the guts of healthy honey bees and in those from hives afflicted by CCD. Such microarray analyses normally identify only active genes. But Reed Johnson, a University of Illinois doctoral student in entomology and first author on the study, noticed that the microarrays were turning up large quantities of fragmented ribosomal RNA (rRNA) in the bees affected by CCD.

Ribosomes are the factories in which proteins are made, but Johnson observed that this rRNA contained adenosine-rich sequences not seen in normal ribosomes. Such "polyadenylation" is believed to be a sign of ribosome degradation. "The one consistent indicator of CCD across samples collected at multiple times and in multiple places was the overabundance of ribosomal fragments," entomology professor and department head May Berenbaum said.

vanishing bees

RegMorrison | The wholesale disappearance of bees, sometimes called the Vanishing Bee Syndrome or Colony Collapse Disorder, has resulted in the loss of a quarter of all managed honey-bee colonies in the US since 1990. And a growing number of European and Asian nations, have reported similar declines.

Despite intensive research, the collapse of US bee populations remains largely unexplained. Two species of mite have been implicated in some of this carnage, but about a quarter of the current decline seems unrelated to any specific cause.

A variety of agencies have been suggested, but the multiplicity of potential villains suggests that it may, in fact, be due to a degradation of the bees’ immune system.

Such a massive extinction of bees in the US, home of Genetically Modified crops, should be cause for extreme alarm here in Australia, given the current deterioration in agricultural environments, the acceleration of global warming, and the imminent acceptance of GM crops.

Widespread ignorance of genetics and the evolutionary process is a common impediment to grasping the nature and size of this problem. For example, there is a general belief that there are specific ‘genes for’ this or that structure or behaviour—even some academics have been seduced by this comforting myth. In fact of course, genes code for protein. Nothing more. Structure and behaviour are emergent by-products that inevitably arise from the administration of that protein. Reg Morrison's website.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

britain facing blackouts for the first time since the 70's

Telegraph | Britain is facing the prospect of widespread power cuts for the first time since the 1970s, government projections show. Demand for power from homes and businesses will exceed supply from the national grid within eight years, according to official figures.

The shortage of supplies will hit the equivalent of many as 16 million families for at least one hour during the year, it is forecast. Not since the early 1970s when the three-day week was introduced to preserve coal has Britain faced the prospect of reationing energy use.

The gap between Britain’s energy needs and demand throws fresh doubt on the Government’s assertion that renewable energy can make up for dwindling nuclear and coal capabilities.

Over the next 10 years, one third of Britain’s power-generating capacity needs to be replaced with cleaner fuels. But last night the Conservatives said that Labour had refused to face up to the problem.

The admission that Britain will face power-cuts is contained in a document that accompanied the Government’s Low Carbon Transition Plan, which was launched in July.

measuring economic growth by lights

Vox | Given the low quality of GDP measures for countries and the almost total absence of GDP measures for sub-national units such as cities, we propose a readily available proxy: satellite data on lights at night. The best use of lights data is to examine growth in GDP rather than GDP levels, so that cross-country differences in how lights spatially and culturally reflect consumption are differenced out.

We start by examining cross-country GDP growth rates, focusing on the period 1992-2003, and develop a statistical framework for optimally combining the growth in lights measure for each country with estimates of GDP growth from the World Development Indicators. We first establish that changes in lights are well related to particular positive or negative economic growth episodes for particular regions and times and, more generally, that growth in lights is a good predictor of growth in GDP measures. As an illustration (Elvidge et al, 2005), Figure 1 contrasts the big increase in lights from 1992 to 2002 in the Eastern European countries of Poland, Hungary, and Romania with the distinct dimming of lights to the east in the former Soviet Republics of Moldova and the Ukraine, which endured a harsh transition process.

Next, we develop a framework to optimally combine measured GDP growth with growth in lights to obtain a best estimate of true GDP growth. The objective is to minimise the variance of true GDP growth from its best estimate. The weights placed on the World Bank GDP growth measure and the lights growth measure depend in part on the ratio of signal to total variance in the World Bank measure.

Applying our method to the countries given a data quality grade D in the Penn World Tables, we get estimates of true GDP growth that are starkly different from conventional measures.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

zero population and zero oil growth

EnergyBulletin | In 2007-2008 using FAO and IFPRI data, the number of people facing acute food shortage or starvation increased by about 9% to attain more than 950 million. The same year, the last year of what is called 'vigorous' global economic growth before the present crisis, the world economy grew by about 4% using IMF data. Summarizing: 4% global economy growth produced 9% more starving people.

To be sure, this reality can be swept aside as a problem of income distribution, piranha capitalism, bad technology, inappropriate crops, or whatever, necessitating yet more economic growth to resolve. More economic growth, the prayer wheel continues, is facilitated or even directly generated by population growth. The same type of logic reversals and acts of faith, we can note, have always been a basis for religious philiosophy, for example the agonizing question of the ranks and types of angels, why some are not good and their messenger role for connecting us to God, or not.

Eating Oil: For How Much Longer?
The simple fact that "belle epoque" economic growth in 2007-2008 was far outstripped by the increase in numbers of starving people underlines an uncomfortable reality for population boomers. Economic growth does not at all guarantee that people eat, let alone eat more. Also, we can note, the most basic cause in history for population declines is neither disease nor war - but food shortage.

The vast majority of starving persons in today's world are poor and exist outside the mainly white OECD countries. The OECD countries are still able to generate food surpluses, and food linked problems include mass obesity and transgenic animal-human crossover viruses brewed by Belsen agriculture, pesticides, and agrochemicals. How the OECD countries are presently still able to attain or create food surpluses is very simple to explain: they burn a lot more oil than poor countries. Whatever the calls for Green Energy, in the OECD countries of the real world present, OECD national food production in the real world present is totally oil dependent.

In some countries of the OECD, specially Japan, this has attained extreme highs, Japan using an average of more than 12 barrels direct oil consumption per hectare (about 80 GJ) for rice production each year. If the new Democratic Party government obtains its way, and succeeds in inciting Japanese families to reproduce French-style or US-style and achieve French or US population growth (about 0.6 million a year for France and 2.8 million a year for the USA) Japan's agricultural oil burn will inexorably rise, barring green tech miracles.

defense contracting in afghanistan at record high

FAS | There are more Department of Defense contractors in Afghanistan today than there are uniformed U.S. military personnel, according to a new report from the Congressional Research Service. Not only that, the ratio of contractors to troops in Afghanistan is higher than in any prior military engagement in U.S. history.

“As of March 2009, there were 68,197 DOD contractors in Afghanistan, compared to 52,300 uniformed personnel. Contractors made up 57% of DOD’s workforce in Afghanistan. This apparently represented the highest recorded percentage of contractors used by DOD in any conflict in the history of the United States,” the CRS report (pdf) said. A copy of the report was obtained by Secrecy News.

At a time when the deployment of U.S. forces in Afghanistan may be increased (or reduced), the CRS report casts a detailed and fairly nuanced spotlight on the role of defense contractors there. The report notes, for example, that more than 75% of the DoD contractor personnel in Afghanistan are local nationals. Only about 15% are U.S. citizens.

Contractors provide essential logistical, translation and other services, while offering increased flexibility. But they also pose management challenges in monitoring performance and preventing fraud. In the worst cases, “abuses and crimes committed by armed private security contractors and interrogators against local nationals may have undermined U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan,” the CRS report noted. See “Department of Defense Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan: Background and Analysis,” August 13, 2009.

ethiopia, population, famine, and fate...,

Tehran Times | A quarter-century after a million Ethiopians died in the great hunger of 1984-85, the country is heading into another famine. The spring rains failed entirely, and the summer rains were three weeks late. But why is famine is stalking Ethiopia again?

The Ethiopian government is authoritarian, but it isn’t incompetent. It gives fertilizer to farmers and teaches best practices. By the late 90s the country was self-sufficient in food in good years, and the government had created a strategic food reserve for the bad years.

So why are we back here again? Infant deaths are already over two per 10,000 per day in Somali, the worst-hit region of Ethiopia. (Four per day counts as full-scale famine.) Country-wide, 20 percent of the population already depends on the dwindling flow of foreign food aid, and it will get worse for many months yet. What have the Ethiopians done wrong?

The real answer (which everybody carefully avoids) is that they have had too many babies. Ethiopia’s population at the time of the last famine was 40 million. Twenty-five years later, it is 80 million. You can do everything else right – give your farmers new tools and skills, fight erosion, create food reserves – and if you don’t control the population, you are just spitting into the wind.

It is so obvious that this should be the start of every conversation about the country. Even if the coming famine in Ethiopia kills a million people, the population will keep growing. So the next famine, ten or fifteen years from now, will hit a country of a hundred million people, trying to make a living from farming on land where only 40 million faced starvation in the 1980s. It is going to get much uglier in Ethiopia.

Yet it’s practically taboo to say that. The whole question of population, instead of being central to the debate about development, about food, about climate change, has been put on ice. The reason, I think, is that the rich countries are secretly embarrassed, and the poor countries are deeply resentful.

the denizens of peak oil denial

ASPO | World oil production grew eight-fold between 1945 and 2000. The peak oil story is about our inability to sustain that trend. Today’s modest “excess” of oil supply — the result of shrinking demand due to the global recession plus Saudi investments — may last another year or two. But in the background resource nationalism, credit constraints, reduced drilling, armed conflict, and regional geological limits are kicking in hard. By 2012, global production will be downshifting into reverse, with a larger world population forced to divvy up a shrinking supply.

Debunking peak oil is like railing against gravity or aging. Consider the table below, based on worldwide production data in BP’s Annual Statistical Review. It summarizes production trends for the world’s 30 largest oil-producing nations, which account for 94% of the world’s daily output.

The track record here is ugly. A decade ago, only four of the world’s top 30 oil producers were in decline; now the number is 11 and growing. The UK had been steadily increasing production during the 1990s, as had Norway. Mexican production surged in the late 1990s. Now all three are in decline and the UK is an importer, despite the use of best-in-class technology throughout the North Sea. Indonesia, a former oil exporter, became a net oil importer within the last two years.

Brazil’s oil future looks promising, but Russia’s oil story likely includes a plateau or worse. The Chinese admit they are near peak production, hence their push to buy capacity abroad. What’s your bet that peace will break out in Iraq and Nigeria to allow production to grow? Or that Chavez and Putin will turn over a new leaf, and that Iran will make nice?

The math is straightforward and compelling. Sure, technology has helped grow deepwater supply, but that has only been enough to keep oil production flat, or “at peak/plateau,” since 2005.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

why is the national guard recruiting for 'internment' cops?

WND | An ad campaign featured on a U.S. Army website seeking those who would be interested in being an "Internment/Resettlement" specialist is raising alarms across the country, generating concerns that there is some truth in those theories about domestic detention camps, a roundup of dissidents and a crackdown on "threatening" conservatives.

Are you an enemy of the state? Get the bumper sticker that lets everyone know you have no apologies for being right!

The ads, at the website as well as others including, cite the need for:

"Internment/Resettlement (I/R) Specialists in the Army are primarily responsible for day-to-day operations in a military confinement/correctional facility or detention/internment facility. I/R Specialists provide rehabilitative, health, welfare, and security to U.S. military prisoners within a confinement or correctional facility; conduct inspections; prepare written reports; and coordinate activities of prisoners/internees and staff personnel.
Internment specialist
United States Army National Guard
Job Title : Internment specialist
Job Reference : usang
Location : United States
Posted on : Wed May 07, 2008
Job category: Law Enforcement, National Guard, Enlisted
Job Description
The National Guard internment/resettlement specialist is an essential member of the law enforcement team. This specialist is primarily responsible for the operations in a military confinement/correction facility or detention/internment facility. Duties include:
- Assisting with the supervision and management of confinement and detention
- Providing security in a facility
- Counseling individual prisoners for rehabilitation
- Preparing reports on prisoners or programs

National Guard training usually is scheduled to accommodate a member’s civilian life, whether it is for the job or school. Each member first attends Initial Entry Training. After basic training, a solider then reports for Advanced Individual Training, which may vary in length depending on your specialty. Training continues for one drill weekend each month and one annual training period, which is usually two weeks in the summer.

Helpful skills
An ideal candidate for the National Guard internment/resettlement specialist should:
- Be interested in law enforcement
- Remain calm in stressful situations
The campaign follows by only weeks a report from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security warning about "right-wing extremists" who could pose a danger to the country – including those who support third-party political candidates, oppose abortion and would prefer to have the U.S. immigration laws already on the books enforced.

there won't be any separate peace

Breton | Last week the Oil Drum featured an article about the very wealthy making preparations for whatever catastrophe the post-peak future has in stock. Many commentators have pointed out that mercenaries understand very quickly there is more money to be done by cutting their rich but helpless employers' throat than by defending them. The very fact than some people – including a few billionaires, apparently – believe a doomsday gated community is a viable response to peak energy tells a more about the preconceptions and fantasies which stand in the way of a successful adaptation to the changes peak oil heralds.

Mercenaries' dubious loyalty is, of course, the first obstacle to the building of reasonably enduring billionaires' lifeboats. Basing one's security on hired sword is one of history's most popular losing bet, even if on the short run it is not necessarily a stupid one. All rulers in history have faced the same conundrum : if you can't enforce your decisions, your power is basically worth nothing, on the other hand, if you give your enforcer too much power, he may well replace you. That's why rulers who didn't trust their own people, relied recruited their soldiers and advisors abroad or among despised minorities : because they won't have the connections to stage a coup.

Of course, on the long run it rarely works. Sooner or later, mercenaries entrench themselves within society, become a part of it and put themselves in position of kingmakers... at the very least.

washington capitulates: peak oil is real

Safehaven | Each year, generally in May, the Energy Information Administration publishes a less-than-eagerly-anticipated tome called the International Energy Outlook, 250+ pages of mind-numbing text, charts, graphs, and tables.

No one reads it. The mainstream media ignore it.

It's the product of the best prognosticators in the Department of Energy. Okay, that may be what puts most people off. But if you're patient enough to dig into it, it will cough up some fascinating nuggets of information.

The present edition is no exception. The report refrains from spelling out the conclusion that seems most obvious from its data. However, confirming a trend begun just last year, the 2009 edition clearly reveals that the government has been forced to admit that Peak Oil is coming. Moreover, it's expected to arrive much faster than was believed as recently as two years ago.

By '08, they had put the info into table form, and look what happened:

Same table, '09:

Projected production, as you can see, is suddenly shriveling up. From 107.5 million b/d of oil projected for 2030 in 2007, to 102.9 million b/d in 2008, to this year's meager expectation for 93.1 million. That's a drop of 13.4% in only two years, and posits production growth of only 11.6 million b/d (14.2%) from 2006 levels.

If that isn't an admission that the era of Peak Oil is upon us, what is?