Friday, January 23, 2015

shut 'em down before the markets go boom!



oilprice.com | U.S. oil and gas rig counts dropped to their lowest level in over four years, falling by an additional 74 units for the week ending on January 16. The lower count provides fresh evidence that low oil prices are forcing drillers to pare back operations and slash spending.
While that may soon begin to cut into actual production figures, a new Wood Mackenzie report finds a lot of nuance in the oil patch, painting a complex picture of what to expect in 2015. The report identifies several trends beyond the simple narrative that low prices will force a cutback in drilling.
First, Wood Mackenzie estimates that at $40 per barrel, many producing wells could be shut in. In fact, about 1.5 million barrels per day of production would be “cash negative” – meaning it wouldn’t even make sense to continue pumping at the most marginal wells, which tend to have extremely low-output. These “stripper wells,” which only produce 15 barrels of oil per day or less, have high costs given their level of production.
Wells producing such a tiny flow of oil may seem like a non issue, but with hundreds of thousands of them dotting the country, they collectively account for about one-tenth of the nation’s production. As these wells become unprofitable, production should start declining.
Elsewhere, larger projects face a complicating set of factors that could slow drilling, but not as fast as some think. That’s because slowing activity is also pushing down the rental rates that drillers pay for rigs. With weak demand, drillers can negotiate down rig prices. This leads to lower costs, helping drillers stay in the game.
Another interesting twist occurring from lower oil prices is the fact that the economics of natural gas production have been relatively enhanced. To be sure, natural gas prices are also low, but over the last several years, the revenues generated from a barrel of oil were so much greater than the equivalent form of energy in natural gas. That pushed companies to focus on wet gas and oil.
For the equivalent amount of energy, natural gas priced at $3 per MMBtu is equal to about $17 to $20 per barrel of oil. That is still significantly lower than the $50 oil is trading for now, but the disparity is not nearly as severe as when oil was trading for $100.

neighborhood looking unfriendly for the kingdom



BBC News | Less than 48 hours had passed after the latest agreement between the Houthi rebel movement and the Yemeni government, and the ground had shifted once again.
The resignations of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, newly-appointed Prime Minister Khaled Bahah, and the entire cabinet were quickly followed by reports that the parliament had rejected their requests.
Given Yemen's mercurial political playing field, another new configuration could be just around the corner.
The tension from four days of fighting and negotiation between the rebels and Yemeni security forces seemed to have reached a resting point, with President Hadi and Houthi leaders reaching an agreement on Wednesday.
That agreement essentially saw Mr Hadi capitulate to rebels' demands in exchange for a ceasefire, release of a kidnapped presidential adviser, and the withdrawal of rebel forces from some key positions in Sanaa.
Yet a day later, the presidential adviser had not been released and rebels still surrounded the presidential palace and Mr Hadi's private residence.
Empty promises
Judging from their mass resignation, Mr Hadi and his government decided that operating under the rebels' thumb was untenable and found little reason to believe the Houthis would ever fulfil their end of the bargain.
Either they have given up entirely, or they are now playing their strongest card.
The Zaidi Shia movement, whose traditional stronghold is the northern province of Saada, led massive anti-government rallies over the summer and then suddenly infiltrated the capital with its heavily-armed militia and tribal supporters, taking de-facto control Sanaa by mid-September.
The government, political parties, and the Houthi movement signed the Peace and National Partnership Agreement (PNPA) on 21 September, but it has largely gone unimplemented.

endgame: 2015 will reveal why these overseers are being treated with kidgloves...,


cluborlov |  The US is making a desperate attempt to knock over a petro-state or two or three before its shale oil runs out, with the Canadians, their tar sands now unprofitable, hitching a ride on its coat-tails, because if this attempt doesn't work, then it's lights out for the empire. But none of their recent gambits have worked. This is the winter of imperial discontent, and the empire is has been reduced to pulling pathetic little stunts that would be quite funny if they weren't also sinister and sad. Take, for instance, the words spoken by the US State Department's remote-controlled Ukrainian prime minister Yatsenyuk in Berlin recently: it turns out that the USSR invaded Nazi Germany, not the other way around! We are coming up on the 70th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany; and so there is no better time to do—what exactly? The Russians are confused. But the Germans took this howler on board and stayed mum, so score one for the empire!

Or take the Charlie Hebdo psy-ops in Paris, which, for anyone paying attention, was eerily reminiscent of the Boston Marathon bombing almost two years ago. Boston still hasn't got rid of all of the idiotic “Boston strong” stickers (no, Boston was not destroyed by a few firecrackers and a few amputee actors bursting bags of fake blood to pretend that they just had a leg blown off). And now Paris is festooned with eerily similar "I am Charlie" stickers. Killing a handful of innocents is, of course, standard procedure: few real atrocities help render the “conspiracy theory” version of the events unthinkable for anyone under imperial mind control because, you see “They are the good guys” and “good guys” don't do such things. But that mind control is slipping away, and even some national leaders—such as Turkey's Erdogan—publicly declared that the event had been staged. Also similarly, the supposed perpetrators were summarily executed by the police before anyone could find out anything about them. It's become quite clear by now that such events are being cooked up by the same bunch of not-terribly-creative hacks. They seem to be recycling the PowerPoints: delete Boston; insert Paris. But the French have defended their right to insult Moslems (and Christians) with impunity (but these rights are sure to be taken away when nobody is looking)—but not the inexplicably important Jews or gays, mind you, because that will get you a prison term. Score another one for the empire!

Or take last year's shoot-down of Malaysia's flight MH17 over Eastern Ukraine. The western public officials and press instantaneously blamed "Putin-supported rebels" with the shoot-down. When the results of the ensuing investigation lead to a different conclusion, they were made secret. But now the Russians have a Ukrainian defector in witness protection who has identified the Ukrainian pilot who shot down the airliner, using an air-to-air missile fired from a fighter jet. Since the rebels have no air force, an air-to-air missile was an unusual bit of ordnance for the Ukrainians, and was clearly loaded up just for this occasion. So we know who, how, and why; the only remaining question is, for whom; bets are, the hit was ordered from Washington. This was big news in Russia, but western media has self-censored the story out of existence and, whenever the topic is mentioned, continues to repeat the "Putin did it" mantra, so... score another one for empire!

But a bunch of deluded people muttering to themselves in a dark corner, while the rest of the world points at them and laughs, does not an empire make. With this level of performance, I would venture to guess that nothing the empire tries from here on will work to its satisfaction.

Saudi Arabia is generally displeased with the US, because the US has been failing at its job of policing the neighborhood and generally keeping a lid on things. Afghanistan is reverting to Talebanistan, Iraq has ceded territory to ISIS and now only controls the territory of the bronze age kingdoms of Akkad and Sumer, Libya is in a state of civil war, Egypt has been “democratized” into a military dictatorship, Turkey (a NATO member and a EU candidate member) is now trading primarily with Russia, the mission to topple Syria's Assad is in shambles, the US “partners” in Yemen have just been overthrown by Shiite militiamen, and now there is ISIS, initially organized and trained by the US, threatening to destroy the House of Saud. Add to that that the US-Saudi joint venture to destabilize Russia by formenting terrorism in Northern Caucasus has completely failed. It couldn't organize even a single terrorist action to disrupt the Sochi Olympics. (Saudi Arabia's Prince Bandar bin Sultan lost his job over that fiasco.) And so the Saudis are pumping flat out not so much to help the US as for other, more obvious reasons: to drive out high-priced producers (US included) and to maintain their market share. They are also sitting on a stockpile of US dollars, which they want to put to good use while they are still worth something.

rule of law: the brother minister overstands space and time to school contemporary negroes...,


rule of law: humanizing and explaining overseer loehmann - there will be no consequences in cleveland...,


NYTimes |  Officer Garmback, 46, who had joined the force in 2008, was at a nearby church when the call came. With him was his partner, Officer Loehmann, 26, hired just eight months before.

Officer Loehmann had grown up in Parma, a largely white suburb of Cleveland, but he commuted 30 minutes to an all-male, Roman Catholic high school on the city’s east side, Benedictine, where many of the students were minorities.

People who knew Officer Loehmann there recalled him as quiet and serious, active in the band and the German Club. The Rev. Gerard Gonda, the school’s president, said Mr. Loehmann had a solid record at Benedictine, where as a junior he was in Father Gonda’s theology class. “He had a very low-key personality, and I would say kind of a gentle personality,” Father Gonda said.

The Rev. Anselm Zupka, who taught Officer Loehmann at Benedictine and was also his confirmation sponsor at his local parish, said “Timmy” had embraced his Catholicism to an extent that Father Zupka suggested to him that he might want to enter the monastery.

But the teenager had other ideas. “He was always interested in police work, because that’s what his father did,” Father Gonda said.

Officer Loehmann had long wanted to emulate his father, Frederic, who served in the New York Police Department for 20 years before becoming a federal marshal. So in 2011, he earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology and sociology from Cleveland State University, according to his personnel file, and the next year, he went to work for the police in Independence, Ohio.

But there, according to police records, he had emotional problems related to a girlfriend. At a shooting range, he was “distracted and weepy,” a supervisor said. One of his supervisors concluded that Officer Loehmann “would not be able to substantially cope, or make good decisions,” during stressful situations. After six months, the department allowed him to resign.

rule of law: no consequences for extrajudicial murder by former overseer wilson in ferguson


NYTimes |  Mr. Holder said that the Justice Department’s investigation into Mr. Brown’s death would be independent from the one conducted by the local authorities. While the F.B.I. and local officials conducted some interviews together and shared evidence, the analysis and decision-making were separate. Mr. Holder resisted calls from local officials to announce his conclusion alongside the county prosecutor last year, in part because he did not want it to appear as if they had reached their decisions together.

Federal investigators interviewed more than 200 people and analyzed cellphone audio and video, the law enforcement officials said. Officer Wilson’s gun, clothing and other evidence were analyzed at the F.B.I.’s laboratory in Quantico, Va. Though the local authorities and Mr. Brown’s family conducted autopsies, Mr. Holder ordered a separate autopsy, which was conducted by pathologists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner’s office at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, the officials said.

The federal investigation did not uncover any facts that differed significantly from the evidence made public by the authorities in Missouri late last year, the law enforcement officials said. To bring federal civil rights charges, the Justice Department would have needed to prove that Officer Wilson had intended to violate Mr. Brown’s rights when he opened fire, and that he had done so willfully — meaning he knew that it was wrong to fire but did so anyway.

The Justice Department plans to release a report explaining its decision, though it is not clear when. Dena Iverson, a department spokeswoman, declined to comment on the case Wednesday.
The Ferguson investigation drew Mr. Holder into the spotlight on the issue of race, one he cares about deeply. He traveled to Ferguson, spoke of his experiences as a victim of racial profiling and emerged as a peacemaker during the tense days after the shooting, when the police used tear gas on demonstrators and the National Guard was summoned.

The shooting also inflamed longstanding tensions between Ferguson’s black residents and the police. Residents told investigators that the police used traffic citations in minority neighborhoods as a way to raise money for the city.

“These anecdotal accounts underscored the history of mistrust of law enforcement in Ferguson,” Mr. Holder said in September after returning from Ferguson, a suburb about 10 miles northwest of St. Louis.

It is not clear when the broader civil rights inquiry of the police department, known as a pattern or practice investigation, will be completed. Under Mr. Holder, prosecutors have opened more than 20 such investigations nationwide. The Justice Department recently called for sweeping changes to the Cleveland Police Department and negotiated an independent monitor to oversee the department in Albuquerque.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

why it's taking the u.s. so long to make fusion work...,


HuffPo |  Fusion scientists make an incredible proposition: We can power our cities, they say, with miniature, vacuum-sealed stars. According to those who study it, the benefits of fusion power, if it ever came to fruition, would be enormous. It requires no carbon drawn from the ground. Its fuel -- hydrogen harvested from seawater -- is inexhaustible. It emits no gases that warm the planet. And unlike its cousin fission, which is currently used in nuclear power plants, fusion produces little radioactive waste, and what it does produce can be recycled by the reactor. 

The only hurdle, as many U.S. physicists tell it, is the billions of dollars needed before the first commercially viable watt of power is produced. Researchers lament the fact that the U.S. hasn't articulated a date for when it hopes to have fusion go online, while China and South Korea have set timetables to put fusion online in the 2040s.

A so-called magnetic confinement fusion reactor would work by spinning a cloud of hydrogen until it reaches several hundred million degrees Celsius -- at which point it would be so hot that no known material could contain it. Instead, high-powered magnets in a vacuum would envelop the ring of hydrogen plasma.

Spun with enough heat and pressure, the positively charged hydrogen atoms, stripped of their electrons, would begin to overcome their usual tendency to stay apart. They would fuse into helium, spitting out an extra neutron. When those neutrons embed into a surrounding blanket of lithium, they would warm it enough to boil water, spin a turbine and make electricity. The long-term goal is to create a self-sustaining reaction that produces more energy than is put in.

The oil shortages of the 1970s kick-started federally funded fusion research. When petroleum-pumping nations in Middle East turned off the spigot in 1973 and then again in 1979, much of the world, including the U.S., was rattled by gas shortages and high prices. With Americans waiting in mile-long lines to fill up their tanks, there was a keen national interest in finding any fuel to replace oil.

The crises prompted Congress and President Jimmy Carter to create the Department of Energy, which immediately began to channel funding into alternative energy programs, including fusion. By the end of the '70s, experimental reactors were being built at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at Princeton -- including the latter's Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor, the "TFTR" whose outdated sign Michael Williams now walks past.

Adjusted for inflation, the U.S. was spending over $1 billion per year on magnetic confinement fusion research by 1977, according to Department of Energy figures collected by Fusion Power Associates, a nonprofit that promotes fusion research. But by the time Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1980, gas prices had dropped. Eyeing cuts to government spending, Reagan and his Republican colleagues in Congress tightened funding for research into fusion and other alternative energy sources.

"The Republicans hated the Department of Energy because they were messing around with the private sector energy business," said Steve Dean, a former Department of Energy official who oversaw fusion experiments in the 1970s and now runs Fusion Power Associates.

the psychopathologizing of anti-authoritarian behavior?


zerohedge  |  This post is about an issue that is by now a bit dated (though the topic as such certainly isn’t), but we have only just become aware of it and it seemed to us worth rescuing it from the memory hole. In late 2013, the then newest issue of the American Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM for short) defined a new mental illness, the so-called “oppositional defiant disorder” or ODD.

As TheMindUnleashed.org informs us, the definition of this new mental illness essentially amounts to declaring any non-conformity and questioning of authority as a form of insanity. According to the manual, ODD is defined as:
[…] an “ongoing pattern of disobedient, hostile and defiant behavior,” symptoms include questioning authority, negativity, defiance, argumentativeness, and being easily annoyed.
Note: I believe this article strongly misrepresents the childhood diagnosis of oppositional defiant disorder  - but - it is consistent with a Gurdjieffian account of human psychology as well as very amusing.  A couple of the comments appended at zerohedge are priceless.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

tune in to what I'm try'na say to you...,



hoaxland been crippling minds that want to believe for generations now...,


bibliotecapleyades | My friend and colleague Mike Bara and I are going to attempt the impossible in the next few hundred pages: we’re going to try to describe, and then carefully document, exactly what’s been going with NASA in terms of that classified data and information. It won’t be an easy task. The predisposition of most Americans - even after the Challenger and Columbia disasters and a host of other “missing” spacecraft - is to place NASA somewhere on par with Mother Teresa n terms of public confidence and credibility. This is, in major part, due to the average American’s (to say nothing of the media’s) inability to figure out a reason why NASA - ostensibly a purely scientific Agency - would actually lie. NASA is, after all, holding high the beacon of our last true heroes, the astronauts. I mean, what’s to hide regarding moon rocks, craters and space radiation?

If we’re right, a lot.

However, even a hint that NASA - or, more precisely, its leadership - has been carrying out any kind of hidden agenda for over 50 years is, at best, met with disbelief. The vast majority of NASA’s nearly 18,000 full-time employees are, in our analysis, innocent of the wrongdoing of the few that we are going to describe.

To even begin to understand the extraordinary case we are presenting in this book, to fully appreciate what NASA has been quite consciously, deliberately and methodically concealing from the American people and the world for all these years, you have to begin with NASA’s turbulent past - specifically an account of its origins in the increasingly dangerous geopolitical environment Americans were thrust into in the wake of World War II. The governmental institution known as NASA is a department of the Executive Branch, ultimately answerable solely to the President of the United States, an Agency created through the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958.

NASA ostensibly is,
“a civilian agency exercising control over aeronautical and space activities sponsored by the United States.”
But contrary to common public and media perception that NASA is an open, strictly civilian scientific institution, is the legal fact that the Space Agency was quietly founded as a direct adjunct to the Department of Defense, tasked with specifically assisting the national security of the United States in the midst of a deepening Cold War with its major geopolitical adversary, the Soviet Union. It says so right in the original NASA Charter:
“Sec. 305... (i) The [National Aeronautics and Space] Administration shall be considered a defense agency of the United States for the purpose of Chapter 17, Title 35 of the United States Code...”
In another section of the act, this seldom-discussed defense responsibility - the ultimate undercutting of NASA’s continuing public façade as a strictly civilian, scientific agency - is blatantly spelled out:
“Sec. 205... (d) No [NASA] information which has been classified for reasons of national security shall be included in any report made under this section [of the Act]...”
Clearly, from this and the other security provisions incorporated in the Act, what the Congress, the press and the American taxpayers get to see of NASA’s ultimate activities - including untouched images and data regarding what’s really on the Moon, on Mars or anywhere else across the solar system - is totally dependent on whether the President of the United States (and/or his legal surrogates in the Department of Defense and the “intelligence community”) has already secretly classified that data. This is directly contrary to everything we’ve been led to believe regarding NASA for over 50 years now. After NASA was formed, almost before the ink was dry on the Bill that brought it into being (which, among many other detailed objectives, called for “the establishment of long-range studies of the potential benefits to be gained from, the opportunities for and the problems involved in the use of aeronautical and space activities for peaceful and scientific purposes”), NASA commissioned a formal “futures study” into the projected effects on American society of its many planned activities (including covert ones). Carried out as a formal NASA contract to the Brookings Institution - a well-known Washington, D.C.-based think tank - the 1959 study was officially titled “Proposed Studies on the Implications of Peaceful Space Activities for Human Affairs.”

The results of this multi-disciplinary investigation were officially submitted to the administrator of NASA in late 1960, and after the Kennedy Administration was elected, to Congress in April 1961. One area of unusual interest covered in the report - easily overlooked amid mountains of interminable statistics and analyses  - was a quiet assessment of the near-certainty of a NASA discovery of intelligent extraterrestrial life:
“While face-to-face meetings with it [extra-terrestrial life] will not occur within the next 20 years (unless its technology is more advanced than ours, qualifying it to visit Earth), artifacts left at some point in time by these life forms might possibly be discovered through our [NASA’s] space activities on the Moon, Mars, or Venus.”
This quietly inserted sub-section of Brookings is revealing on many levels, and it forms the documented basis of our case - that the NASA “you thought you knew” doesn’t actually exist, and that NASA has been deliberately concealing and classifying its most significant discoveries because of “national security” rationales.

Brookings officially affirmed NASA’s expectations that the Agency would fly to nearby planets in the solar system, and would thus be physically capable, for the first time, of confronting “extraterrestrials” right in their backyard. Did any skeptics even know this official document existed, before we made it public in 1996?

staggering levels of randomness stirred into a mass-hypnotic stew...,


wikipedia |  Project Camelot was a social science research project of the United States Army that started in 1964 and was cancelled after congressional hearings in 1965.[1] The goal of the project was to assess the causes of conflict between national groups, to anticipate social breakdown and provide eventual solutions. The proposal caused much controversy among social scientists, many of whom voiced concerns that such a study was in conflict with their professional ethics.[2]

Chile was to be the test case for the project, but Claudio Bunster was alerted almost immediately to its possible military nature when Johan Galtung showed him a letter from the Special Operations Research Office (SORO) inviting him to a seminar to discuss the project in 1966 at the American University in Washington DC. The seminar was actually held in the summer of 1965 but by then the initial exploratory mission to study the feasibility of running such a project was being phased out and the project itself was officially cancelled on July 8, 1965.[2]

The project's purpose was described by the army as follows:

the documentation shows the phenomenon of long-term mass hypnosis is durable and real


nbcnews |  A UFO enthusiast has gathered more than 100,000 pages of government documents related to reports of flying saucers and other unexplained aerial phenomena -- and posted them online for amateur Men in Black and professional conspiracy theorists alike. 

The U.S. Air Force declassified the massive trove of files over the years covering more than 10,000 cases from the secret government Project Blue Book, which investigated sightings of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) from 1947 until the project was closed in 1969. 

But until last week, people could only view the full collection by visiting the National Archives in person. 

Now these hints of little green men are online thanks to John Greenewald, the UFO enthusiast who collected and digitized the files on a free online archive, the Project Blue Book Collection, through his web site The Black Vault

His goal was to "give the public the easiest way possible to access these things," Greenewald said. "People are coming out of nowhere to look at this thing and it has definitely surprised me quite a bit."

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

the american dream and the quickening jobpocalypse...,


WaPo |  Mercedes-Benz wants to develop a driverless car. Google already has one. This is exceedingly bad news for auto body shops, ambulance-chasing lawyers and others. Soon, truck drivers might be replaced by driverless trucks. What then will happen to the nation’s 3.5 million truck drivers, not to mention truck stops, of which there are 276 in Texas alone? (You can Google anything.)

The conventional answer is retraining. Truck drivers will become something else, maybe teachers or dental hygienists, which is, of course, possible. It’s also likely that many of them will sink into the funk that is the loyal companion of unemployment. Family life will shred, and possibly an army of former truck drivers will enlist with others of the digitally ditched and wreak political havoc. Shippers will sing “Happy Days Are Here Again.” For truckers it will be, “Brother Can You Spare a Dime?”

It’s clear by now that the fruits of automation, computerization and outsourcing are being reaped by the top 1 percent — in this case, shipping companies and not drivers. The old bell curve with the middle class bloating comfy in the middle is being replaced by what’s called the power curve, in which something called the 80/20 rule applies: 20 percent of the participants in an online venture get 80 percent of the rewards. Think Uber. It’s not the drivers who are getting rich. Something new and possibly awful is happening.

Many books have been written about this phenomenon, and in 2012, the Aspen Institute convened a meeting on this topic, with the resulting report bearing the jaunty title of “Power-Curve Society: The Future of Innovation, Opportunity and Social Equity in the Emerging Networked Economy.” One participant was Kim Taipale, a leading thinker in this field. I quote from the Aspen report on its summary of Taipale’s thesis: “The era of bell curve distributions that supported a bulging social middle class is over. . . . Education per se is not going to make up the difference.”

rule of law: neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted..,


truthdig |  Prisons employ and exploit the ideal worker. Prisoners do not receive benefits or pensions. They are not paid overtime. They are forbidden to organize and strike. They must show up on time. They are not paid for sick days or granted vacations. They cannot formally complain about working conditions or safety hazards. If they are disobedient, or attempt to protest their pitiful wages, they lose their jobs and can be sent to isolation cells. The roughly 1 million prisoners who work for corporations and government industries in the American prison system are models for what the corporate state expects us all to become. And corporations have no intention of permitting prison reforms that would reduce the size of their bonded workforce. In fact, they are seeking to replicate these conditions throughout the society.

States, in the name of austerity, have stopped providing prisoners with essential items including shoes, extra blankets and even toilet paper, while starting to charge them for electricity and room and board. Most prisoners and the families that struggle to support them are chronically short of money. Prisons are company towns. Scrip, rather than money, was once paid to coal miners, and it could be used only at the company store. Prisoners are in a similar condition. When they go broke—and being broke is a frequent occurrence in prison—prisoners must take out prison loans to pay for medications, legal and medical fees and basic commissary items such as soap and deodorant. Debt peonage inside prison is as prevalent as it is outside prison. 

States impose an array of fees on prisoners. For example, there is a 10 percent charge imposed by New Jersey on every commissary purchase. Stamps have a 10 percent surcharge. Prisoners must pay the state for a 15-minute deathbed visit to an immediate family member or a 15-minute visit to a funeral home to view the deceased. New Jersey, like most other states, forces a prisoner to reimburse the system for overtime wages paid to the two guards who accompany him or her, plus mileage cost. The charge can be as high as $945.04. It can take years to pay off a visit with a dying father or mother. 

Fines, often in the thousands of dollars, are assessed against many prisoners when they are sentenced. There are 22 fines that can be imposed in New Jersey, including the Violent Crime Compensation Assessment (VCCB), the Law Enforcement Officers Training & Equipment Fund (LEOT) and Extradition Costs (EXTRA). The state takes a percentage each month out of prison pay to pay down the fines, a process that can take decades. If a prisoner who is fined $10,000 at sentencing must rely solely on a prison salary he or she will owe about $4,000 after making payments for 25 years. Prisoners can leave prison in debt to the state. And if they cannot continue to make regular payments—difficult because of high unemployment—they are sent back to prison. High recidivism is part of the design.

Monday, January 19, 2015

you know some of this already exists given how far along those paperclip nazis were 60 years ago...,


CNN |  Imagine a blimp city floating 30 miles above the scorching surface of Venus -- a home for a team of astronauts studying one of the solar system's most inhospitable planets.

NASA is currently doing just that; floating a concept that could one day see a 30-day manned mission to Earth's closest planetary neighbor.

Eventually, the mission could involve a permanent human presence suspended above the planet.

Deep heat
Also known as the morning star, and named after the goddess of love and beauty because it shone the brightest of the five planets known to ancient astronomers, Venus is a hot, sulphurous, hellish place whose surface has more volcanoes than any other planet in the solar system.

With a mean temperature of 462 degrees Celsius (863 degrees Fahrenheit), an atmospheric pressure 92 times greater than Earth's and a cloud layer of sulphuric acid, even probes to Venus have lasted little more than two hours. Its surface is hot enough to melt lead and its atmospheric pressure is the equivalent of diving a mile underwater.

But above this cauldron of carbon dioxide at an altitude of 50km (30 miles) scientists say the conditions are as close to Earth's as you'll find anywhere in the solar system.

The gravity at this altitude is only slightly lower than that of Earth, its atmospheric pressure is similar and the aerospace provides enough protection from solar radiation to make it no more dangerous than taking a trip to Canada.

Creating HAVOC
Known at NASA as HAVOC - High Altitude Venus Operational Concept - engineers and scientists at the Systems Analysis and Concepts Directorate at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, have been working on a preliminary feasibility study on how robots and humans could make a Venus mission a reality.

"The atmosphere of Venus is an exciting destination for both further scientific study and future human exploration," said aerospace engineer Christopher A. Jones of the Space Mission Analysis Branch.

policy-makers know that climate disaster is inevitable


NYTimes |  OUR galaxy, the Milky Way, is home to almost 300 billion stars, and over the last decade, astronomers have made a startling discovery — almost all those stars have planets. The fact that nearly every pinprick of light you see in the night sky hosts a family of worlds raises a powerful but simple question: “Where is everybody?” Hundreds of billions of planets translate into a lot of chances for evolving intelligent, technologically sophisticated species. So why don’t we see evidence for E.T.s everywhere?

The physicist Enrico Fermi first formulated this question, now called the Fermi paradox, in 1950. But in the intervening decades, humanity has recognized that our own climb up the ladder of technological sophistication comes with a heavy price. From climate change to resource depletion, our evolution into a globe-spanning industrial culture is forcing us through the narrow bottleneck of a sustainability crisis. In the wake of this realization, new and sobering answers to Fermi’s question now seem possible.

Maybe we’re not the only ones to hit a sustainability bottleneck. Maybe not everyone — maybe no one — makes it to the other side.

Since Fermi’s day, scientists have gained a new perspective on life in its planetary context. From the vantage point of this relatively new field, astrobiology, our current sustainability crisis may be neither politically contingent nor unique, but a natural consequence of laws governing how planets and life of any kind, anywhere, must interact.

The defining feature of a technological civilization is the capacity to intensively “harvest” energy. But the basic physics of energy, heat and work known as thermodynamics tell us that waste, or what we physicists call entropy, must be generated and dumped back into the environment in the process. Human civilization currently harvests around 100 billion megawatt hours of energy each year and dumps 36 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the planetary system, which is why the atmosphere is holding more heat and the oceans are acidifying. As hard as it is for some to believe, we humans are now steering the planet, however poorly.

Can we generalize this kind of planetary hijacking to other worlds? The long history of Earth provides a clue. The oxygen you are breathing right now was not part of our original atmosphere. It was the so-called Great Oxidation Event, two billion years after the formation of the planet, that drove Earth’s atmospheric content of oxygen up by a factor of 10,000. What cosmic force could so drastically change an entire planet’s atmosphere? Nothing more than the respiratory excretions of anaerobic bacteria then dominating our world. The one gas we most need to survive originated as deadly pollution to our planet’s then-leading species: a simple bacterium.

The Great Oxidation Event alone shows that when life (intelligent or otherwise) becomes highly successful, it can dramatically change its host planet. And what is true here is likely to be true on other planets as well.
But can we predict how an alien industrial civilization might alter its world? From a half-century of exploring our own solar system we’ve learned a lot about planets and how they work. We know that Mars was once a habitable world with water rushing across its surface. And Venus, a planet that might have been much like Earth, was instead transformed by a runaway greenhouse effect into a hellish world of 800-degree days.

By studying these nearby planets, we’ve discovered general rules for both climate and climate change. These rules, based in physics and chemistry, must apply to any species, anywhere, taking up energy-harvesting and civilization-building in a big way. For example, any species climbing up the technological ladder by harvesting energy through combustion must alter the chemical makeup of its atmosphere to some degree. Combustion always produces chemical byproducts, and those byproducts can’t just disappear. As astronomers at Penn State recently discovered, if planetary conditions are right (like the size of a planet’s orbit), even relatively small changes in atmospheric chemistry can have significant climate effects. That means that for some civilization-building species, the sustainability crises can hit earlier rather than later.

necropolitics: the torture squad struggle against extremist islamist terror...,


guardian |  “Stand up, motherfucker,” they both shouted, almost synchronous. Then a session of torture and humiliation started. They started to ask me the questions again after they made me stand up, but it was too late, because I told them a million times, “Whenever you start to torture me, I’m not gonna say a single word.” And that was always accurate; for the rest of the day, they exclusively talked.

_______ turned the air conditioner all the way down to bring me to freezing. This method had been practiced in the camp at least since August 2002. I had seen people who were exposed to the frozen room day after day; by then, the list was long. The consequences of the cold room are devastating, such as ______tism, but they show up only at a later age because it takes time until they work their way through the bones. The torture squad was so well trained that they were performing almost perfect crimes, avoiding leaving any obvious evidence. Nothing was left to chance. They hit in predefined places. They practiced horrible methods, the aftermath of which would only manifest later. The interrogators turned the A/C all the way down trying to reach 0°, but obviously air conditioners are not designed to kill, so in the well insulated room the A/C fought its way to 49°F, which, if you are interested in math like me, is 9.4°C—in other words, very, very cold, especially for some- body who had to stay in it more than twelve hours, had no underwear and just a very thin uniform, and who comes from a hot country. Somebody from Saudi Arabia cannot take as much cold as somebody from Sweden; and vice versa, when it comes to hot weather. Interrogators took these factors in con- sideration and used them effectively.

necropolitics: no more a terrorist than forest gump...,


guardian |  “I will be back soon,” I said, as we stood up and shook hands. Then I turned and walked a few steps to the gate, and waited for the guard to unlock it so I could leave. Those were the last words I said to Mohamedou Ould Slahi after I met him in the tiny compound he shared with Tariq al-Sawah in the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay. That was seven and a half years ago. I have never been inside the camp again. Slahi has never been out.

I didn’t know, that afternoon in the summer of 2007, that in a few weeks I would send an email to the US deputy secretary of defence, Gordon England, saying I could no longer in good conscience serve as chief prosecutor for the Guantánamo military commissions. I reached that decision after receiving a written order placing Brigadier-General Tom Hartmann over me and the Pentagon general counsel, Jim Haynes, over Hartmann.

Hartmann had chastised me for refusing to use evidence obtained by “enhanced” interrogation techniques, saying: “President Bush said we don’t torture, so who are you to say we do?” Haynes authored the “torture memo” that the secretary of defence, Donald Rumsfeld, signed in April 2003 approving interrogation techniques that were not authorised by military regulations – the memo where Rumsfeld scribbled in the margin: “I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing [for detainees during interrogations] limited to 4 hours?” Rather than face a Hobson’s choice when they directed me to go into court with torture-derived evidence, I chose to quit before they had the chance.

Slahi and al-Sawah had been recommended to me as potential cooperating witnesses. Before I met them, I asked one of my prosecutors to review their files and check with other agencies to be sure nothing had been overlooked. We attended a meeting where those who had spent years investigating Slahi briefed their findings. The end result was a consensus that, like Forrest Gump, Slahi popped up around significant events by coincidence, not design.

necropolitics: Guantánamo Diary


guardian |  The groundbreaking memoir of a current Guantánamo inmate that lays bare the harrowing details of the US rendition and torture programme from the perspective of one of its victims is to be published next week after a six-year battle for the manuscript to be declassified.

Guantánamo Diary, the first book written by a still imprisoned detainee, is being published in 20 countries and has been serialised by the Guardian amid renewed calls by civil liberty campaigners for its author’s release.

Mohamedou Ould Slahi describes a world tour of torture and humiliation that began in his native Mauritania more than 13 years ago and progressed through Jordan and Afghanistan before he was consigned to US detention in Guantánamo, Cuba, in August 2002 as prisoner number 760. US military officials told the Guardian this week that despite never being prosecuted and being cleared for release by a judge in 2010, he is unlikely to be released in the next year.

The journal, which Slahi handwrote in English, details how he was subjected to sleep deprivation, death threats, sexual humiliation and intimations that his torturers would go after his mother.

After enduring this, he was subjected to “additional interrogation techniques” personally approved by the then US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld. He was blindfolded, forced to drink salt water, and then taken out to sea on a high-speed boat where he was beaten for three hours while immersed in ice.

The end product of the torture, he writes, was lies. Slahi made a number of false confessions in an attempt to end the torment, telling interrogators he planned to blow up the CN Tower in Toronto. Asked if he was telling the truth, he replied: “I don’t care as long as you are pleased. So if you want to buy, I am selling.”

Sunday, January 18, 2015

necropolitics: not gonna make no more ghetto muslims, no, no, no....,


theweek |  Chérif Kouachi was born in 1980 in Paris' diverse 10th arrondissement, which stretches from the Place de la République to the Gare du Nord. He was one of five children of Algerian immigrant parents. A source who knew Chérif Kouachi when he was arrested on his way to catch the flight to Damascus in 2005 said, "He was abandoned very young; it's not clear if his parents couldn't look after the children or if his parents died. But he was put in care homes early — before the age of 10." The care homes were far from Paris, and his childhood was described as chaotic.

When he reached 18, he returned to the northeast of Paris with his elder brother. He had a sports education qualification but a poor school record and no other family support. When he became involved in the Buttes-Chaumont group of friends, he was back in Paris but living precariously.

"He was living almost like a homeless person, staying with someone, but it was more of a mattress on the floor than a real home," the source said. "He was very clearly marginalized. He was immature, just out of adolescence. He wasn't vindictive…He went to the mosque, but went clubbing, made rap music, smoked hash, drank. He wasn't a hermit."

It seemed at the time that Benyettou, the young guru figure by whom Kouachi was enthralled, used methods similar to those of a sect. "He made him feel important; he listened to him, recognized him as an individual…Chérif Kouachi was fragile, looking for a family…He didn't have a family he could turn to for support," the source said.

When he was arrested over the attempted flight to Syria and Iraq, Kouachi described himself to investigators as a "ghetto Muslim," according to Le Monde. "Before, I was a delinquent. But after, I felt great. I didn't even imagine that I could die," he told the court. A French TV documentary on radicalized youth showed footage of him rapping. "It's written in the texts that it's good to die as a martyr," he said.

The Buttes-Chaumont group's jihadi aspirations were directly linked to the second Iraq War, in 2003. They would sit in apartments watching footage of the U.S.-led invasion. "Everything I saw on TV, the torture in Abu Ghraib prison, all that, that's what motivated me," one of Kouachi's friends later said at trial.

But under Jacques Chirac, France had refused to intervene in the Iraq War, and the young cell's stance wasn't really a movement against the French state. It was more a rage directed against the U.S. Some of the group stated that jihad wasn't done in France. The focal point was fighting a foreign invader in Iraq.